I was going to write a “Winter 2017/18 wrapup” post, but then I realized that it would be almost entirely about Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho. This show has been unexpectedly good, refining the “genre” of cute-girls-do-cute-things to focus solely on the characters, making it seem a hell of a lot more meaningful than all of its otaku-pandering peers. Its depiction of a growing friendship was very heavy-handed at times, but never pointless. From the girls running in Shibuya to overcoming their past regrets in Antarctica, every moment felt like a tangible increase in their friendship levels.
At the start of this episode, I was planning on giving the show a 9/10. I kept thinking about the quick resolution to Shirase’s plot in the last episode, and it just felt so jarring compared to the incredible amount of time they spent saying goodbye in this one. Yet I felt emotions welling up as the episode went on, and I realized that I would be missing this show dearly. I’m not going to remember the plot of A Place Further Than The Universe (in true CGDCT spirit, there wasn’t much), but the characters are going to stick around in my memory for years to come.
Last time, I said Antarctic Girls was obviously going downhill, and with good reason! The episodes of the trip to Antarctica (Ep 6-9) were a lot weaker than the first third of the series introducing the girls (Ep 1-5). The conflicts either felt petty and small or were getting resolved too quickly.
In contrast, episodes 10 and 11 were the best we’ve seen so far.
So some of the concerns I had in my last post are getting worse. The conflicts in each episode feel more and more fake and contrived, to the point where the (forced) sense of closure doesn’t really satisfy me. Instead, it feels like everything is getting trivialized. The girls’ feelings of uselessness on the ship? Bam. Resolved. Shirase’s lifelong awkward relationship with the expedition leader? Bam. Resolved. (sort of)
Related to this is how besides the main conflict of each episode, everything else is pushed aside. In episode 9, Shirase took center stage while the other three girls melded into one emotionless unit, with no personality to speak of. Instead of showing the fun and varied personalities of the girls (like in the OP and in the first 4-5 episodes), the show has basically made them act and talk the same.
For example, maybe instead of focusing on Shirase’s reaction on getting to Antarctica, there could have been some inner dialogue from each girl. Nothing much, maybe just 5 seconds/one line for each of the three. Mari could have touched on how she’s finally doing something cool. Yuzuki could say how glad she is to have made it with her new friends. And Hina could say… something? I dunno. But instead, we got:
Mari: We’re here!
Yuzuki: We made it!
It’s the same damn thing! Even though the episode focused on Shirase, it doesn’t have to be all Shirase all the time. In such an overdone genre, it was the small refinements that made the girls so likeable and unique early on in the show, and that’s slowly getting sucked out.
Anyway, it’s still a 9/10 for me overall. These last few episodes have lost the magic that made it a 10/10, but it’s still great.