Having formed Poco Poco, Haruno, Anri, Sayo and Rie aim for their first official concert in the Spring. But when Cynthia announces she’ll be returning to Australia in just a week, they accelerate their plans, and finish the song in time for Cynthia to watch them perform on the stage at the inn. During goodbyes, Haruno tells Cynthia she’ll be the one to visit her next.
Support is not really something you ask for. People give it on their own when they see you working hard. Strangely, the one being supported ususally doesn’t notice. But that kind of invisible strength is very important.
That’s sage advice from stargazer/children’s book author Kageyama to Haruno, who didn’t want to ask for support when she isn’t even sure of her goal. That support comes in the form of Cynthia leaving, motivating the initially lethargic Poco Poco into creating a song, practicing it, and performing it in the limited time they have. As Haruno says, no matter what happens, the short time they spend crafting the song and singing it is a memory none of them will soon forget.
The important thing about climactic songs is that with all the build-up, they’d better be good, and the one Poco Poco sings is very nice: a light, breezy song about starting something and trying hard, and isn’t too sugary. It’s also very nicely performed by the four seiyus. One Off was a great end-of-year surprise that we decided to bite into, and we weren’t disappointed. It turned out to be much much more than just a showcase for Honda motorcycles – though it excelled at that too.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Motorcycle Cameo: The owner of the Motoya bike shop and cafe gets his vintage CB750 running again, using some parts he had to build. It’s regarded by some as the first “superbike”, and certainly looks an absolute treat in yellow and black.
A large group of stargazers arrive at the Niwa inn, and Anri, Sayo and Rie volunteer to help out. Haruno is open to singing Anri’s song when she finishes it, but balks at an all-out concert. After being browbeaten by Cynthia, she changes her mind, only to drop the issue again. The night of the stargazing, her friends ask her about it again, and after chatting with one of the stargazers, she agrees to do a concert after all.
The overall theme of this episode is “little by little” – taking small steps, taking your time, being patient in order to achieve achievable goals. Take the picture of the Rosette Nebula Haruno’s dad hangs on the wall. It’s a long-exposure photo, taken under ideal conditions. The village is ideal for stargazing, but the brilliant red color is not visible to the human eye, ina telescope or not. It’s just a dense cluster of stars. But even that can’t be seen in the city.
But to Kageyama, one of the stargazers, it’s enough that she can see a hint of it and get lost in thought under the stars. Even after her ride to the sea, Haruno is a little more receptive to trying things like singing, but is still afraid of exerting energy if it will only result in failure. Her daydreams are overambitious, but none of them are as impossible as she mopes about. Ultimately, she decides to give a concert a try, and the group she and her friends form has the appropriate name “poco a poco” – little by little.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Motorcycle and Car Cameos: Rie’s brother has a PCX Scooter. Kageyama rides a Shadow 750 (pictured). There’s a third-gen CR-V in the Niwa garage (that D-pillar is unmistakable), and one of their customers drive a Stepwgn.
Haruno is having trouble getting along with Cynthia, overwhelmed by her “scale” and annoyed that Anri, Sayo and Rie are so easily influenced by her. The mechanic tells her not to worry and simply take her time. Cynthia has other ideas, spontaneously planning a night tour to the sea for the two of them. Haruno is dubious until they make it to the beach as the sun rises. Cynthia tells her that it’s okay to rely on people.
The first episode basically introduced everyone (and everybike) and set up the tripping point in any potential friendship between Haruno and Cynthia: Haruno’s pessimism clashing with Haruno’s optimism; Haruno’s cautiousness versus Cynthia’s gusto. Haruno compares the “scale” of difference between them in motorcycle terms. If Cynthia is a sport bike like her CBR, Haruno is a scooter. Some things are just impossible, and that’s that.
But Haruno wasn’t always this way. Anri is into writing songs. Sayo is into writing stories. Rie dreams of a life of adventure. Haruno was once into singing, with the motto “you never know until you try”, but delivering eggs has jaded her, and she gave up on it. Now her motto is “why try if it can’t be done?” And as beautiful and amazing and grand an experience their nighttime ride to the beach is, Haruno still finds a thorn in the rose: she needed help to get there.
But Cynthia tells her everyone needs help to get anywhere or do anything. Whether it’s the skilled designers, engineers and craftsmen at the Honda Motor Company or the love and support of friends and family, no one accomplishes anything alone. This sticks with Haruno, just like this episode bursting with gorgeous imagery – from the first-person driving views to the sea at dawn to the bike shop with a cafe and a friggin’ tree growing inside – will stick with us.
Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)
Motorcycle Cameos: At the bike shop Motoya, a PCX scooter and a Goldwing are two of the models on display inside, and a CB750 is serviced in the garage. For their night tour to the sea, Cynthia dusts of Haruno’s dad’s Z50 Monkey minibike, and barely fits on it!
Shiozaki Haruno lives at the Niwa inn in an picturesque but small village, enjoys riding her Honda scooter, and dreams of one day living in the big city. She and her high school friends meet Niwa’s new hire, an Australian woman named Cynthia B. Rogers who has traveled the world on her sport bike. Haruno envies Cynthia’s adventurous spirit and laments her lack of motivation or will to do what she did.
At first we thought this OVA series would be one big pretty advertisement for Honda Motorcycles…and it is, but thankfully it’s also more. (Side note: being owners of three four-wheeled Hondas ourselves, and having family with five more, we can attest to the quality and dependability of their wares. Where’s our sack of cash, Honda?) This is by the director of Tamayura ~Hitotose~ and it’s one big pretty slice-of-life, with the lovingly-rendered Honda machines complementing rather than overpowering the proceedings.
This episode oozes quality from start to finish: the backgrounds, character design and voice work and music are all top-notch and pop through the screen. And the message is simple: “amazing is relative”. Haruno is impressed and even jealous of the action-packed life the eccentric gaijin has led, while Cynthia finds awe in simple things Haruno takes for granted: the beauty of her village, the tea, or a bowl of rice with a fresh egg. Both are right, but while Cynthia is experiencing both worlds, Haruno feels like she’s on the outside looking in. We’ll see where her restlessness and Cynthia’s influence takes her.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Motorcycle Cameos: First of all, everyone rides Hondas. Haruno rides a Giorno, a European-styled scooter. Her friend Sayo rides a Little Cub, a version of the most-produced motor vehicle in history, the Super Cub. Her friend Anri rides a Benly. Rie rides a bicycle, but dreams of owning the cute-but-tough Zoomer, also known as the Ruckus (114 mpg!). Cynthia rides a red CBR250R (pictured). A CB1100 is being tended to outside the cafe.