Sora yori mo Tooi Basho – 09

Ice is broken on two different fronts this week. Crew member Zaizen Toshio is in love with Team Captain Toudou, and needs all the help he can get, so he seeks intel from Shirase, who has known her for ten years.

While that’s a long time, Shirase claims she and Toudou didn’t ever speak that much on the occasions Shirase’s mom wasn’t around. Speaking with Kanae, Gin backs that up; there’s a distance between them.

The girls’ social media views are tanking, so they decide to use Toshio’s crush as an angle to interview the captain on her love life in order to lure followers back. But you have to think they’re also trying to get Gin and Shirase talking.

Since they haven’t talked, Gin has to assume that Shirase hates her and has never forgiven her for not coming back with her mom. As the girls (sans Shirase) ambush Gin about her love life (with Kanae’s help), they don’t come up with much, but we also get little flashbacks to mundane yet meaningful little moments between Gin and Shirase.

When Shirase’s mom says such encounters were very much planned, it confirms that she always intended for Gin to be on good terms with Shirase if anything ever happened to her, which it did. Even back then, the two eventually break the ice over their mutual love of penguins and jumping rope (at which Shirase is presently very adept).

It’s another simultaneous penguin spotting that draws the two together on the deck, and Gin simply comes out and asks Shirase what’s up. Shirase says all the mature things—she doesn’t hate Gin; her mom often stated the dangers of her job; Gin is not to blame—but when Gin asks if that’s how she really feels, Shirase breaks down.

The truth is, Shirase doesn’t know how she really feels, which is why she didn’t want to discuss it. She spent a long time after her mother’s death waiting for her to come home, until she decided the only way forward was to go where she went, “to the place further than the universe,” to grasp what the hell it was her mom was prepared to die—and did die—to brave.

It’s another marvelous, moving monologue from Hanazawa Kana, rudely interrupted by the icebreaker slamming into a sheet of “fast ice”, which was expected by the crew. We watch as the ship repeatedly backs up and rams the ice until it breaks up, which is what icebreakers do.

The procedure underscores just how uninviting Antarctica is—it won’t let you even get close without a fight—while also serving as a handy metaphor for hard the crew of the Penguin Manju, and Japan itself, has had and has to work to get to where they want to be.

As the ship crunches a path in the ice, Gin regails Shirase about how the rest of the world basically gave postwar Japan the most challenging slice of Antarctica and said “if you want to try, go right ahead.” They did go ahead, and they did try, and were successful, just as the crew of the Penguin Manju does, and just as the four girls do when they touch down on ice for a brief spell.

Shirase tears up upon standing there, and goes into a rant encapsulated by the phrase “in your face!” referring to everyone who mocked her for saying she was going to Antarctica. Not only do the other girls join her in a hearty “in your face”; Gin and the entire crew do so as well. No doubt Shirase’s mom would be proud of them both.

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Sakura Trick – 10

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The first half of the episode is titled “A Snowy Day, Memories, and an Impact”, and it contains…well, all of those things: an unexpected and rare snowfall entices Haruka and Shizuku to eat lunch outside despite the oppressive cold. Haruka wants to at least give it a go because she realizes they may not get another snowy day in the final two years of school.

Making the most of the time is a slogan Haruka’s gotten from Katone before, and which Shiuzuku recognizes. Kotone eventually comes outside and kisses Shizuku right as she’s thinking about making memories. But as the other five girls carouse and have snowball fights outside, next year’s student council is being put into place, and Kanae takes the opportunity to mention to Ex-President Mitsuki that Yuu and Haruka are dating, bringing the issue to the fore for the first time since Mitsuki herself caught them in Yuu’s room.

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There’s no game here; Kanae seems genuinely preoccupied with Haruka and Yuu’s official status; maybe wondering why they haven’t told their friends despite the fact their status is obvious. Mitsuki may dismiss it, but she’s clouded by her own feelings for Haruka. In any case, the same traits that make Kanae a good trickster also make her a good observer; she knows what she’s seen, but she craves concrete answers. She even tries to test the waters by dropping hints in front of Yuzu, to no avail.

The fact is, Haruka and Yuu aren’t in a hurry to tell everyone they’re a couple (though there seems to be a mutual understanding with fellow couple Kotone and Shizuku) They hesitate kissing while Yuu is on the ladder (which is dangerous!) since Yuzu and Kanae are right below her, but end up making out anyway (the angle is such that no one ever sees anything.) They continue to stay mum and ride their luck. But as Kanae says, even if they all found out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Well, it might be for Mitsuki…


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sket Dance – 62

Class 2’s ski trip to Niigata nears, but the various classes must compete in a group jump rope competition in order to go. Saaya, who is bad at sports, is weary of letting her class down, and her classmate Horii lets her know about it. Saaya practices with the Sket-dan, and the next day her class comes within a skip of the record. Saaya says she was the one who missed a skip, covering for the real culprit Horii.

In the second part, the trip is underway, with the Sket-dan’s class sharing a bus with Tsubaki’s. Saaya, in another bus considers telling Bossun how she feels on the trip, after getting advice from Switch at a rest stop. When the journey continues Himeko gets motion sickness, and Chuu-san is ready with a galaxy of pills, many of which Bossun had already tried previously. Himeko, Bossun and Tsubaki end up taking the wrong pills, the result of which Bossun and Himeko switch personalities and Tsubaki is hypnotized into thinking he’s Bossun.

This week we’re presented with one fairly unexcceptional and one fairly enjoyable outings, both of which set up the two-part class trip episode that may mark the end of the series (though we’re 0-for-everything on predicting the end of the series.) The first part is fairly Saaya-heavy, and as your ironically-typical tsundere, she’s not all that compelling and can’t carry a half-episode all on her own. The second half was better, with the Sket-dan and Tsubaki falling victim to Chuu’s ridiculous drugs. You would have thought they’d learned their lesson by now, but no. Now the dynamic of the class trip will have a whole new meaning, with their personalities being screwed up for three whole days.


Rating: 3

Usagi Drop 11 (Fin)

Daikichi and Rin deliver food to Hitani as she recovers from a bug. While wrestling with her first loose teeth, Rin and the three other kids work on their jump rope, while Daikichi mingles with Hitani and the dads. After about a year with Rin, he’s watched her grow and they’ve shared countless experiences, a lot of them cause him stress and nervousness, but he seems to be learning that comes with the job.

Daikichi’s little sister Kazumi is getting married, but isn’t so hot about having a kid soon. She likes going out and drinking and having time for herself. Daikichi used to own all of his time, too, and while it’s obvious he’s lost something in his change of lifestyle for young Rin’s sake, he’s gained a lot more. This person loves him unconditionally, and he her. He may not be a real dad, and it may have just been a year, but he’s definitely become quite good at taking care of RIn.

What has more or less been a slice-of-life series has a reserved send-off, which looks back on the development of Daikichi and Rin, and looks toward the future as she grows bigger, stronger, and brighter. Rin has definitely been one of my favorite characters this season, and one of the better-acted kids I’ve seen in anime. There’s nothing earth-shattering about this story, but that’s not the point: it’s done a good job portraying the everyday and mundane, with all the little childhood firsts sprinkled in. And certainly the only anime I can think of where a guy’s aunt is so much younger than him, he could easily be her father.


Rating: 3.5