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Dated 20 February 2018: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (the Antarctica show) is a triumph of original anime, even if I'm still not sure what to call it

Hinata and Yuzuki
I'm hoping AR glasses will make flying more tolerable someday.

Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) is remarkably well done. Before the season started, I fully expected it to be a trite "cute-girls-doing-cute-things" fluff piece about high school girls having implausibly canned adventures in Antarctica. However, it turns out Yorimoi adopts a serious attitude toward exploring the logistics required and examining just how something like this might actually be accomplished. I take it as a triumph of original anime that the story seems well thought out and enjoyable in ways that are often missing from anime adaptations of preexisting works, particularly when such anime try hard (to their detriment) to closely follow the source material.

Hinata and Yuzuki
These two are so good.

Instead, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has taken its time establishing the groundwork instead of leaping directly into Antarctica and absolutely benefits from this pacing and thoughtfulness. This is not to say that Yorimoi is an overly serious or dramatic affair (although it does have serious moments and drama in it). There is quite a bit of comedy and levity in the show centered around the character dynamics and benefiting from impeccable timing and astute direction. I'm not familiar with most of the director's previous work, but I see Ishizuka Atsuko also directed Hanayamata, which was also nicely done, although Yorimoi has been even better through seven episodes. Yorimoi is vying with Yuru Camp△ for the honors of Best Winter 2018 Show.

Hinata, Shirase, Yuzuki, and Mari
You need to be a professional to get that sort of air.

I guess I should explain what I mean about not being sure what to call Sora yori mo Tooi Basho. Its official English subtitle is A Story that leads to the Antarctica. Additionally, some sources early on read the Japanese title as Uchuu yori mo Tooi Basho, but the PVs confirmed it was Sora yori instead of Uchuu yori. However, the title I have difficulty accepting is the official English one used by the Crunchyroll: A Place Further Than the Universe. Grammatically, I'm pretty sure it should be "Farther" instead of "Further," and I believe "the Universe" really should be "Space" instead in an English title, regardless of whatever original Japanese sources claim. The reason being is because—as I understand it—the title is a reference to how Antarctica is about 14,000 kilometers from Japan, whereas space is only about 100 kilometers away if you travel straight up. Hence, A Place Farther Than Space. Admittedly, this means effectively everything on Earth is farther away than space, but it still makes more sense than using "Universe" barring some further explanation later in the show.

Dated 26 March 2018: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and Yuru Camp△ are the best shows of Winter 2018

Rin
There's also the matter of Rin's excellent hair.

Yuru Camp△ finished its 12-episode run last week with an open-ended conclusion to its deeply satisfying season. As far the actual narrative goes, I can't exactly claim Laid-Back Camp was particularly eventful, but the show's real strengths came from its pleasantly relaxed mood and its freakishly endearing lead character, Rin, anyway. I do like the other characters as well, though, and I'm particularly relieved Nadeshiko turned out to be a lot better than I initially feared, but Rin basically carried Yuru Camp△ for me. She did, after all, clinch the Girl of the Quarter crown in week 10 by racking up most of my Girl of the Week awards. If you place any stock in B.S. numerical ratings, I did score Yuru Camp△ in first place for most of the season before Sora yori mo Tooi Basho passed it.

Hinata
"When angry count four; when very angry, swear."

There's actually one episode of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho left, but I'm all but certain to subjectively regard it as this season's best show regardless of how it actually plays out. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (see this post for more about the show's name) is exceptionally well done. I'm particularly impressed with how it pays off the numerous little heartfelt investments it made during the course of the series. Also of note is the astute directing which has juggled comedy, drama, and even a little horror with skillful touches of emotional resonance in the right amounts and at the right times.

Violet
Mission top secret, destination unknown.

Speaking of emotional resonance, compare Sora yori mo Tooi Basho with the much hyped Violet Evergarden for example, which turned out to be a hot mess of wildly disparate levels of quality depending on the episode. I felt nearly all of them were clumsy and overwrought, with the exception of two episodes (both of which credit Sawa Shinpei as the episode director, incidentally). In particular, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has made much better use of its music than Violet Evergarden has, as I've mentioned before. All in all, I'm very impressed with Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and I'm looking forward to its creative team's future projects.