Since this episode is pretty low on drama, I’ll just keep my post in notes form.
— Yuzuki’s a quick thinker. On the other hand, Shirase is… well, she might be good in a horror movie. The killer thinks they have you cornered only for Shirase to accidentally choke them out or something. Yeah, I could see that.
— Seeing this big number two formation, I would watch a prequel involving Shirase’s mom and how the first expedition went. I mean, we know how it ends, but that’s okay.
— The girls are going around the ship, interviewing members of the team. Shirase’s nervousness is funny as hell. This part is a little too silly, though. How can she not notice? Why isn’t the lady moving away? And like I asked last week, why is she the co-host and not Mari or Hinata?
— Mari finds it fun to peel potatoes. Nope. I’ve helped out with prep work for a family restaurant before. It’s the most mind-numbing thing ever. Still better than dealing with customers, but that’s not saying much.
— Hey, what do you think you’re blushing about, buddy? Don’t you dare forget that these girls are not legal.
— It feels like it’d be tricky to run on a rocking boat. It’s not something I’ve ever tried, though. The last time I was ever on a boat was for a middle school trip to Catalina Island. I feel like there’s very little reason in my life to ever get on a boat if that makes any sense.
— Also, Hinata’s the only one here who used to do track, and yet she’s the only one here who isn’t in a tracksuit. Isn’t she cold?
— They’re surprised to see someone who looks like a scientist run so fast. That’s a little silly. Jogging does seem difficult at first, but you just gotta know how to pace yourself. There’s no shame in jogging slowly at first, and you’re not going to build up your stamina in a day. Or even a week. Also, you gotta give your legs a break every now and then to rebuild those muscle fibers. Then at some point, you just magically break through the wall. I find it rewarding, but everyone around me practically disdains cardio. All they ever seem to want to do is lift weights in order to exercise.
— Speaking of which, not with those puny weights. Also, don’t show any weakness around Hinata.
— Seems like an unbearably tight fit from this perspective, so maybe there’s actually more room that we can’t see due to obvious reasons. Anyways, this episode is really low on drama so far. It’s light and breezy, but eh… I need some meat to chew on.
— The girls notice how most of the adults have cut their hair short. Not surprisingly, the two dark-haired girls are highly protective of their hair.
— Mari then confesses that she cuts her own bangs all the time. Considering how much I don’t like her haircut, this explains a lot. Even the other girls feel the same, but they all have lame straight bangs too.
— Aw, I expected better-looking food than this.
— I’m surprised it’s taken half an episode before someone finally got seasick. Maybe they just needed a large meal sloshing around in their stomach. There’s like an unwritten rule in any story that if your characters board a ship, someone has to get seasick.
— An adult finally tells them what they need to do: take medicine to combat seasickness periodically, make sure to eat to keep up your stamina, etc. Like last week, I’m surprised that they’re not under more adult supervision. These are still just high school students. An adult should be checking up on them regularly, but I guess that’s not a fun anime thing to do.
— This meal looks a little more like it.
— The girls continue to feel terrible, however, and they’re told that the rocking of the boat is only going to get worse as they approach Antarctica. Fun. I’ve personally never gotten seasick or carsick myself. I actually have no clue what it feels like.
— The only “drama” this week is Shirase’s steely determination. As the conditions get tougher, the other girls are starting to doubt whether or not they can hack it. Shirase, however, tries to meet each challenge head on. She dove into her food despite her seasickness. She tells the girls that they just need to get tougher as the boat rocks up to 15 degrees. It’s a nice reprieve from the episode’s light-hearted fare, but I’m missing the more emotionally-driven feel of the earlier episodes. It seems like that has all but been abandoned ever since the group reached Fremantle.
Granted, that was just last week, but what I like about this show is that it doesn’t shy away from heavier moments. This sets it apart from all the other banal slice-of-life anime where conflicts almost never arise. I don’t have any waifus at stake. Watching four girls have fun doesn’t automatically brighten my day. I’ve grown to like these girls as a group of friends, so I’m not bored. But I’m also not as engaged as I was three or four weeks ago. It feels like the show’s current high point is the episode about Megumi’s insecurities. No matter what, I need a strong story to fall back on, which A Place Further Than The Universe has so far managed to accomplish for the most part. Nevertheless, the last two episodes just haven’t given the girls much to work with.
— It’s all fun and games until someone falls overboard. Also, unlike last week’s insert song, I’m pretty lukewarm on this one.
— God, that must be cold. I feel cold just looking at them. Better be careful that they don’t end up getting hypothermia.
— They’re all perfectly fine the following morning, though.
— Yay, ice!
— Hm, that’s a little sad.
I’m going to disagree with you a bit here. For me, this show has been far and away my favorite of the season, with much of that feeling built on the very first episode, which I think is one of the most perfectly constructed and brilliantly directed episodes of anime I’ve ever seen.
Since then, though, while I’ve consistently found the show engaging, it’s been just a tad disappointing, never again quite attaining what I felt was the sublime execution of its start.
That is, it hadn’t until this episode.
A Place Further Than the Universe is a coming-of-age story, and something of a meditation on the dynamics of friendship, While it has pretty regularly hit those beats throughout, this was the first time since the group started coming together in the premiere that I felt everything was once again in perfect balance.
I don’t think this show means to knock you out with high drama. I mean, it’s about the grind of growing up and learning determination. It’s not really meant to be so much of an adventure, I don’t think, the backdrop of the trip to Antarctica notwithstanding.
That seemingly mundane narrative vision was expressed pitch-perfectly in the scene towards the end as all four girls acknowledged that as uncomfortable as they were, they had all *chosen* to go on this trip, and that in realizing this, they could overcome their seasickness and really start to enjoy their travels.
Even more to the point, let’s face it that an episode in which Kimari brags about cutting her own bangs and the rest of the girls mutter, “Mystery solved,” has something far more important (well, to me, at least) than drama.
It has the ineffable character chemistry of a really great, truly well-told story.
Don’t you always? Snark aside, we obviously watch anime for very different reasons.
This is probably the good, old “calm before the storm” method. The creators of this anime want us to let our guard down with these lighthearted and weightless episodes, so, when the emotional punch hit us later in Antarctica, it’ll hit us out of the left field and hard. Yeah… I don’t know how effective that punch will be, considering how obvious it is. They really bet it all on that Antarctica’s emotional barrage, huh?
As long as it doesn’t end with another anti-climax resolution like all the other conflicts so far, I guess that is good enough for this kind of anime.