Episode six of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho is one of the most frustrating –but funny– episodes of anime I’ve ever watched.
It all started relatively peacefully, with the four finally leaving for Antarctica, by first flying to Singapore, where they will be taking a plane to Fremantle, Australia to meet up with the expedition there and actually board the ship. Mari is really enthusiastic at getting to fly for the first time, Shirase gets emotional at watching March of the Penguins and the other two are slightly embarassed by it. Once they arrive, there’s a short scene of all of them save the much more experienced Yuzuki getting distracted by all the touristy crap on their way to their hotel, followed by the other three frantically playing rock paper scissors to not have to sleep in the same bed as Mari (because well, see episode four). It’s only when they’re ready to go out again and Hinata looks in her purse with a worried look I got a bad feeling about this episode.
You see, I really, really can’t deal with cringe comedy, where all the humour is in seeing people make easily avoidable mistakes and making fools of themselves in the process. The moment I saw Hinata looking in her purse I got anxious: it was clear she had lost something important but her first instinct was to not worry her friends, just ignore it and hope it’ll turn up later. Which is something I could’ve done myself in this sort of situation. I found myself itching forward in my seat, almost crawling into the television to demand the girls drop everything and start looking for whatever it was Hinata had lost. So it was hard to get into their touristy antics as they went out to explore Singapore. Even though it was hilarious.
Interestingly it’s Yuzuki, the youngest of the four who finally figures out Hinata is hiding something and gets her to confess she lost her passport. Generally more level headed than the other three, despite being a year younger, she also has extensive travel experience due to her idol work, having been in Singapore before. It’s she who takes the lead to resolve the situation, looking up on what to do if you lose your passport and discussing options. Unfortunately the Japanese embassy is closed because it’s a Sunday, so even though it would only take half a day to get a new one, there isn’t the time to get it before their flight is due. As they discuss getting a later flight, Shirase’s anxieties about not being allowed on the expedition makes her wonder if this would even be allowed.
It’s when Shirase and Hinata are alone in their room that the latter decides that it’s okay, the other three can go ahead and she’ll sort out a new passport by herself. Shirase immediately asks if it is because of her doubts earlier, explaining that she knows full well how she reacts to disappointments. Hinata however is adamant this isn’t the case, that she just doesn’t want people to be considerate of her. Their anxieties are on full display in this scene, as they each try to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the other, Hinata especially. I can so sympathise with her, keeping up her facade of not caring, not wanting to hurt her friends through her own stupidity. Shirase too, anxious about this added complexity, but not wanting to leave her friend behind, not wanting to accept Hinata’s sacrifice as even if it meant she could go to Antarctica, it wouldn’t be the same, she too I can relate to.
In the end it’s Shirase that wins the argument, not through convincing Hinata, but by leaving her behind to go to the airport with the other two and try and exchange the tickets for a later flight. Again it’s Yuzuki who takes the lead in talking to the airline, probably the only one with English decent enough to do it. When that doesn’t work out, Shirase takes out her ultimate trump card and slams down her one million yen on the counter, buying business class tickets when cheaper tickets aren’t available. When Hinata objects again, Shirase lets out a tirade saying that she doesn’t want to have the kind of shallow relationship with her where she can be happy to go on without her, that she wants all four of them to go to Antarctica together. In the face ot this Hinata has no choice but to let go of her anxieties and accept Shirase’s consideration, just as Shirase let go of her worries to help her out.
It’s at this moment, when Shirase opens her purse and finds Hinata’s passport in it, that the Jaws music starts to play. As Shirase goes through the same sort of denial as Hinata did earlier, the music swells, as a flashback shows how she got the passport in her purse in the first place. On their way from the Singapore airport Hinata had to tie her shoelaces, asked her to hold onto it for her and Shirase put it in her purse for safekeeping. As she gets more and more flustered and the music hits a crescendo just as Yuzuki asks the same question she asked Hinata earlier: are you hiding something…
With all the worries Hinata and Shirase have put the other two –and me!– through, their punishment is no more than deserved: having to eat a whole durian fruit together. Durians, as you know Bob, being a rather pungent sort of fruit and with an acquired taste. It was only at this moment I could relax, having suffered throughout the episode from the desire to shout at them all to goddammit look in their own luggage for the damn passport, as this was exactly what I thought had happened. To be honest, after Shirase had bought the airline tickets I didn’t it would happen anymore, but the comedic timing of this show is impeccable. Rewatching the episode for this post, without that anxiety riding me, I could finally appreciate that timing.