Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage) – 03

fune-wo-amu-03-1I’m still a bit wrecked over what happened at Wrigley Field tonight, but time, tide and anime wait for no man – and this is the part of the week when this season goes into hyperdrive.  So I have to pull myself together long enough to write a few words about Fune wo Amu – because it remains one of the best shows of the season (I wouldn’t rule out it being the best when it’s all said and done, by any means).

fune-wo-amu-03-2There’s more to life than dictionaries, a man has certain desires, and Majime Mitsuya is certainly no exception.  It was pretty clear from the ending of last week’s episode that Majime was awestruck by Hayashi Kaguya (Sakamoto Maaya) as soon as he saw her framed in the light of the full moon.  Kaguya is a name forever associated with the moon in Japan, of course, but it wasn’t her name that knocked Majime for a loop.  Kaguya is instantly likable – plain-spoken and definitely classy – and she reveals during what could only charitably be called a conversation the next morning that she’s in-training to be a Japanese chef, at a local resto called “Apricot“.

fune-wo-amu-03-3It may well be that “The Great Passage” also refers to the journey of a child to adulthood for Majime – he’s certainly still a child in terms of social skills (he barely gets a word out in Kaguya’s presence).  This makes him irresistible to the meddling Nishioka, who’s altogether more comfortable in the presence of others – including women.  I thought Nishioka announcing at the staff meeting that Majime was a virgin was extremely cruel, but his presence may not be a bad thing for Majime.  He probably needs someone to take him under his wing and force him to confront the world outside of words, and the fearless (and tactless) Nishioka may be just the man to do it.

fune-wo-amu-03-4Meanwhile the job of putting together The Great Passage continues apace, and not surprisingly Majime proves quite the natural at it.  He’s whipping out entry words at a dizzying clip, even while being distracted by random trains of thought.  The shape of The Great Passage is starting to become clear – Matsumoto-san has in mind for it to be usable as an encyclopedia as well as a dictionary, to be full of useful current language and idioms.  He even gets a bee in his bonnet that it should have lots of “I.T. words” – but this being 2000-ish, no one in the department knows much about computers.  This all highlights a fundamental problem with print dictionaries – even 15 years ago, they’re sort of obsolete as soon as they’re printed.

fune-wo-amu-03-5In that light, it’s not surprising that Nishioka overhears some wags in the main building talking about how The Great Passage project might be canceled.  It’s hard to imagine that even then dictionaries were much of a profit driver for a publisher – but it’s also hard to imagine the project is going to go up in smoke three eps into the series.  Between that and the personal story there’s an enormous amount to cover in the next eight weeks, and we already see some progress (a ray of home on a moonbeam perhaps) on that front when Nishioka talks the office into going for a meal at Apricot.  It would be a stretch to say there’s chemistry between Kaguya and Majime, but she’s clearly a person of depth – and that’s probably the only sort of woman who could see the attraction of a guy like Majime…



  1. I really like Kaguya’s character design, she’s pretty in a way that is quite different from what you usually see in anime. This was a great episode, and there’s no question for me that its the best of the season.

  2. The word that really fits Kaguya is “classy”.

  3. C

    I like the show but Majime being “le socially awkward beta MC who has trouble talking to girls” is a very tired trope and it detracts from the plot’s novelty.

  4. e

    And so the lady is formally introduced. The name definitely suits her 🙂 and she looks like a genuinely interesting character.
    Nishioka really put Majime on the spot at the office but he sort of patched it up at the the restaurant with some help from the others.
    Majime’s default akwardness got even more amplified there up to ultimate outwardly tongue-tied Dolce Stil Novo instalove syndrome by his attraction to the lady ^_^” . He is actually easy on the eyes really, but even a lady of depth might need some pointers for him to register on her radar as a person-worth-knowing-better beyond her own considerate attitude and her grandma’s liking of the guy. Good team work by his dictionary fellows in keeping the conversation alive and natural and informational 😀 .
    May all these ships of words and life sail to the intended destination eventually…
    That short sakuga sequence after Majime and Kaguya’s ‘conversation’ – the one with the kids running and passerbies closeups – looked completely different from the standard character design and animatiion for the show…. I wonder who handled that.

  5. e

    P.S. about that special bit of sakuga with the kids running up the slope & crowd + .

  6. As a programmer, I wonder if this search for someone who understands this whole IT thing will bring to the team a bit of sanity about the absolutely maddening way they’re running through their list of candidate words. If the dictionaries they’re cross-checking with have digital editions (dunno about Japanese ones but those have been around in Italy for quite long, they were one of the first things to appear on CD-rom), well, they’re basically wasting insane amounts of time.

  7. They probably have digital editions now – but did they in 2000?

  8. Yeah I was wondering about that too. It might even be easier to just input all the data into the computer before cross checking, that way you spend less time flipping pages.

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