Sounan Desu Ka

October 18, 2019

How good are your basic survival skills? Zero? Well. Same here. I suppose we have been so reliant and dependant on technology that now we take the basics of survival for granted. Sure, we think those YouTube videos and the internet can help when we’re stranded but let’s just hope the uninhabited island has some strong internet connection to begin with! But don’t worry. Not all is lost. In the very most remote of chances you think you might find yourself stranded on an island, perhaps watching Sounan Desu Ka beforehand might do the trick. I hope. A group of girls has been shipwrecked on a deserted island and are forced to do whatever they can to survive. From collecting water and catching food, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Not the paradise kind of private beach island life they’re hoping for.

Episode 1
A plane crashes. It seems only Asuka Suzumori, Mutsu Amatani, Shion Kujou and Homare Onishima survive and are stranded on a rock. Only Homare has survival skills since her dad taught her before and they often got stranded on trips around the world. So this is no stranger to her. As we can see, Homare puts her survival skills to good use. Like catching a flying fish, beating it up while wrapping it in her shirt and then squeezing it to drink its blood as liquid! I think the rest will pass. Still thirsty? Homare offers a ‘fresher’ alternative of peeing in your mouth! They continue waiting and still no sign of rescue. Next morning, an island across is visible. They start swimming. Getting exhausted? Nothing moves you faster when you see shark coming! Luckily Homare throws an old handphone battery that has the shark turn around due to its sensitive nose. With Mutsu feeling a bit dizzy, Homare believes their best action now is to find water. She explains several methods but it either takes too long or they don’t have the equipment. It’s not going to rain either. Hence their only option is to find a water source. With Mutsu’s mouth feeling dry and she can’t produce saliva either, Mutsu kisses her to transfer some of hers! Eww! Worse, Homare just ate a flying locust and its leg got stuck in that kiss. Mutsu’s first kiss… A taste of locust…

Episode 2
Homare and Asuka head into the jungles to find the water source. Ironically, Asuka being the athletic one, she tires out and is complaining? I guess she wasn’t really trained for this kind of environment, huh? But soon, Asuka starts to get dizzy. Homare hurriedly digs for water on a soil that is damp and lets her drink. Best water ever! Until she realizes she is drinking this ‘filtered water’ from Homare’s sock! Meanwhile Shion tries to find something for Mutsu to rest. She stumbles into this coconut. Mutsu gets the hint she wants to be praised for her efforts. It took some effort to break it open and from what I can see, Shion drank it all. So to make it up for her, if she pees, she wants Mutsu to drink it? Not outrageous but I don’t think the girls have gone crazy being stranded… They are given a respite when it rains. With their water source secured, the next step is to build a shelter. But since the rest are complaining about being tired and hungry, Homare goes hunting. She caught some cicadas, sea urchin, seaweed and some mysterious jar. Rock-scissors-paper to see who gets what. Shion gets the sea urchin and Mutsu gets the seaweed. Asuka thought it is some jam in this jar but whatever it is, it’s expired. Tastes bad… Homare is willing to share the cicadas. Did you lose your appetite after seeing he decapitate it? Tastes like shrimp? But Asuka passes since Mutsu shares her seaweed. With night fall, they have to sleep in the open. That’s why Homare told them the importance of making a shelter. But I guess sleeping underneath the open sky isn’t too bad either. The girls are surprised that Homare can instantly fall asleep. Well, she’s done a lot for you girls today.

Episode 3
It’s one thing being tired. It’s also one thing to be useless. But it’s totally another thing to throw a tantrum just because you are hungry and wanting Homare to get some food. Oh Asuka, you looking like a spoilt brat. Luckily for her, Homare intends to head into the jungles to find more vines so Asuka tags along under the pretence to help but also to look for food. When Asuka pulls out some sort of potato from the ground, Homare doesn’t think it is a good idea to eat it. Bugs are okay and not potatoes? Hence Homare employs a patch test to see if it’s edible. By rubbing the thing on your body to see if it has any sort of reaction. She rubs it on Asuka’s ass. Suddenly she feels numb. Definitely poison… She is still scared of eating cicadas but once she gets the hang of it, yeah it tastes like shrimp. Shion hopes they could build a shower next since hygiene is important. Don’t want to have those rescue workers think they stink? Homare builds one but it is out on the open. Hey, at least nobody else is watching on this uninhabited island. Works fine until they broke the mechanism. Homare takes Mutsu to hunt for shellfish. Mutsu thought hermit crabs are inedible but on the contrary, Homare demonstrates by ripping off its shell and devouring this ‘delicacy’! They have caught a few shellfishes so Homare demonstrates how to start a fire and use the sun and rock to make it like an iron plate. Shellfish tastes so good that they can’t stop this ‘buffet’. Don’t worry, if you still have stomach for more, here are hermit crabs. Bon appetite!

Episode 4
Once you try it, you’re sure to love it! See? Hermit crabs tastes good to. Uh huh. Tastes like shrimp… But will this be enough? Don’t worry, Homare believes it is time for them to catch a real animal for its meat. Uh oh. Real survival begins… Based on the footprints, she believes there are squirrels nearby. Hence she explains some of the traps they will be making to catch one. When a toad pops up, Asuka uses her skirt to catch it. Careful not to touch some of its skin as it contains poison. Because Homare says they can only eat its legs and to leave the rest behind, Asuka gets worried. You mean she has to kill this little guy? Like, how? Oh sh*t… Thus she pretends to slip up and let it escape. No frog meat tonight… Homare so disappointed… Homare then spots a burrow. It is believed to be European rabbits and hence they will be changing their target to them. She creates a snare trap and to see whether it works, Asuka volunteers to be bait. Works like a charm. Why does it look like she wants to flash her (rabbit print) panties? As Mutsu and Asuka set up similar traps near other burrows, Mutsu notices a branch too high to be placed for their trap. Therefore she improves and uses a log as a counterweight. They fear it might not be as speedy as the original so Asuka tests it and it works perfectly.

Episode 5
So Shion is b*tching that the catch will have to wait for a few days, they have to eat the same shells and hermit crabs again? Homare thinks up fast that she’ll go collect some turban shells and this delights Shion since she loves eating them. Homare and Asuka dive in to catch some but they didn’t find any. So what did Homare bring back? Starfish! Oh Shion, you still not happy? Until she realizes some bruises on Homare’s hands that Asuka explains she tried to get some oyster but its shell was hard and she accidentally scraped it. Shion realizes her selfishness and eats the starfish. Better than any turban shell! Yeah, be prepared because that’s the menu for tomorrow too as Homare catches more! When the gang goes to check on the trap, looks like everything is still in place. Then they see smoke from the beach. Alerted, they think it’s some rescuer. But when they return, they see Shion in a daze. She thought she saw a ship. She starts crying and apologizing. Keep it strong, girls. Can’t have a domino effect of everyone breaking down. Next morning when Homare asks Shion to come with her, the latter thought she is going to be punished. But Homare takes her to a place where there is low tide now. They dig up wrasse fish that buried themselves in the sand while they sleep. That night they have a mini celebration. Got to have some fun sometimes, right? Here’s to their safety and health. Next day, Asuka and Mutsu check on the trap. Looks like something is caught in it… It’s still moving so the thought of killing it swiftly lingers…

Episode 6
Indeed there is a rabbit caught in the trap. Can’t call for Homare or it might run away. Mutsu offers to kill it. WTF?! How could she miss hitting its head at this distance?! I know she isn’t athletic but the way this plays out, like as though the rabbit is making a fool out of her! WTF Mutsu giving up and crying?! Truly the rabbit has taken her for a ride. So Asuka sums up her courage and does the honours. Relaying the good news, Homare now explains how to remove their organs but first they need to create a knife using a stone. Mutsu wants to try skinning it to make up for her failure. Hang in there. Let’s hope this bloody mess doesn’t traumatize her even when Homare is guiding her. Yeah, biology class wasn’t like this… On how to cook the meat, Shion has an idea of some French dish she once experienced, lievre. Well, with some improvisations, they can make something close to it. After deboning it, they wrap it in some plant leaf, cover them with rocks and twigs to grill them. And of course when it’s done, it is the best meat they’ve eaten ever since. How does it taste like? WTF tastes like chicken?! Shouldn’t rabbits taste like rabbits?

Episode 7
Homare thinks of exploring the island but only needs one of them to accompany her. Hence it becomes a ‘battle’ to be picked. Choose me! In the end, Mutsu is chosen and this leaves the rest devastated. After exploring for a while, they stumble into a dock. Excited at first, Homare examines it and realizes it has been abandoned a long time. For now, they make camp. Mutsu asks why she was chosen and to her surprise, Homare views her as most suited for survival as she has a deliberate nature and adapts quickly. So to say the others aren’t so fit for survival and are going to die? Then they hear rustling in the leaves. Turns out Asuka and Shion followed them. Can’t leave mommy behind, can they? They make a bed using a net. A bit cramp but it’s all they’ve got. They think of naming this island but definitely reject Mutsu’s idea of using their initials because it sounds like ahomushi (idiot). Next day, they continue exploring the island and while Asuka finds pears, Shion claims she has found a house! Well… A dilapidated house. Homare explores it and is excited to find a broken pair of shears. The rest cannot understand why she is so happy so she spells out how its metal parts can be modified into a knife. Makes survival a whole lot easier. Then they climb to the highest point to get a feel of the island. Well bad news, water, water everywhere. But something catches Homare’s eyes. There’s smoke nearby…

Episode 8
Calling out if anybody is there… No response. When they head down to the spot, the smoke is actually vapour from the hotspring! Quit wasting time analysing about somebody was here building these unnatural formation of the rocks so as to make the hotspring because it’s time to soak in and have fun! Not sure if the rocks or water is illuminating because we can sure see the naked girls clearly! Of course, important parts strategically blocked off… When the water temperature gets warmer, they realize something is wrong. Too late as the waves engulf them. Luckily they are washed ashore as Homare theorizes this area is only visible during low tides. Later Homare wants to go down a narrow chasm because there are thick ropes there. This spot was once used to anchor boats. Testing the water depths and all, she finally jumps in to grab the rope. Then she uses the chimney style movement to climb her way out. When it starts raining, the girls quickly rush back to camp. Because of the heavy downpour, their tent couldn’t do anything and the fire is put out. Asuka tries to maintain optimism by heading to sea to find something since she is already wet. Suddenly lightning strikes the far end of the ocean and she got electric shock! Thank goodness she is still alive. With the heavy thunder and lightning, the girls wonder if they should move into the forest but Homare points out it is more dangerous as the lightning could strike a tree. The solution is to build a 4m lightning rod and take shelter at precisely 45 degrees away. While Homare builds it, the girls are on the verge of breakdown from the incessant flashes. But thankfully the storm is gone. Asuka thinks of dipping into the sea again but why did she get electric shock again? Jellyfish. Ah… Homare applies sea water to relief some of the pain. Shion and Mutsu realizes how everyone has got it hard and promise to use this as a lesson to be mindful and not to make life already harder than it is.

Episode 9
Homare is excited as she manages to finish creating a couple of knives. Because of the UV, Asuka’s skin is peeling so they ask Homare if there is any natural sunblock lotion. As she was just finishing hunting squid, squid ink provides excellent sunblock. Unfortunately it is only enough for 1 person so Mutsu won the bet and got it. But don’t despair, Homare grinds the seaweed for its mucus and it might not be as effective as squid ink, it’s still better than nothing. Shion accidentally drops and splashes it all over Homare. Asuka doesn’t want it to go to waste and starts rubbing her body against hers. Our yuri fanservice for this episode. With Shion pouting that she is left out, Homare hands her dried squid liver. Not as effective either but still, better than nothing. Too bad it stinks like hell! When Mutsu got bitten by a horsefly, Homare treats it with sap from dandelion. Shion and Asuka argue to make a hammock or a drying rack. In the end, because embarrassment is next to nothing in nature, they made a hammock instead. At least they can sleep easy. With all the stinking business, Shion wonders if making perfume is possible. I think Homare didn’t mean anything bad because she says at this point all of them stinks! It just means their smell got used to the bad odour over time. When the girls praise Homare for her great survival skills, it Homare attributes them all to her father so the girls think she has daddy complex.

Episode 10
Homare makes a raft with bamboos to help transport heavy stuffs. When Shion is lazing around, a bee ‘visits’ her. This scares the hell out of her but Homare realizes this means there must be a hive nearby. She tracks the hive to a dilapidating log. I don’t think she is trying to scare the girls about people dying from bee stings but hey, no pain no gain, right?! First, Homare uses a makeshift torch to smoke out the bees. Then they lie low so as not to provoke it. You think the bees aren’t mad after their hive has been set on fire? Once the timing is right (don’t want the honey to melt), Homare goes in to cut them. With the bees still buzzing around, the other girls get scared but Shion sums up her courage after seeing some mild bee stings on Homare and helps to take the honey. In the end, you can say it is sweet victory. Next day, Homare and Asuka return from fishing. Shion insists she wants to go fishing too. As she cannot dive, Homare lets her fish from atop a raft. After a while, Homare realizes the current has been gaining speed. To her dismay, Shion is nowhere to be seen. Even getting on top a high rock, screaming her name, there is no sign of Shion anywhere. Oh no. Truly lost? Shion has been so engrossed in fishing that she didn’t know she has been drifted far out to sea.

Episode 11
When the rest finds out that Shion has been drifted, Asuka becomes upset. How can Homare lose her when she was supposed to be with her? Hey, even monkeys something fall off trees. But Homare isn’t giving up yet so she has them help her build a raft. She can still catch up and find Shion before sunset. Homare remembers papa’s words to always think about her own safety despite having others around. Because this might put others at risk too. But Homare isn’t going to let that lesson lose a life of a friend. At this point Shion realizes she is lost. She can’t panic and cry. Got to save those moistures. She spots an island ahead but when she lands, it is just some big rock with no life. She tries to stay calm but at this point she is feeling dehydrated and negativism is setting in. Meanwhile Homare fears she might have passed Shion. Due to her limited vision of the horizon, she remembers daddy’s method on how to measure height without any tools. So this high jump acrobat move has her spot that rock island. And in good time she finds Shion cowering underneath the shade of a rock. Shion starts crying. Uhm, is it a good time to waste moistures? And she’s complaining Homare took so long?! Jokes aside, it’s time to go ‘home’.

Episode 12
In her haste to go rescue Shion, Homare forgot to bring any water. At this rate they will dehydrate before they get back. Shion mentions about a cave she found. However as Homare examines, despite having fresh rainwater, it is contaminated with bat dung. Drink it and you’ll get sick! However she has an idea as they prepare their raft back. As they paddle back, it seems the water with bat dung is left out to dry in hopes the UV will somewhat sterilize it a little. As they are really dehydrating, they still can use this contaminated water. As the colon absorbs water and they can drink it without going through their mouths. Have you guessed it? Through your anus!!! Not joking!!! It’s either you lose your dignity or your life! She’ll put some of the water in her mouth and blow it through her anus!!! OMFG!!! Worse than a horror rape scene, Homare does the unthinkable on Shion! That’s only half of it because now Homare wants her to do it to her! This is the worst day of Shion’s life. But she survived… That’s even weird sh*t porn for today. At sunset, they finally reach back thanks to Mutsu and Asuka’s smoke from cooking. Shion couldn’t wait to reunite with her friends and swim ashore to hug them. That night they have a great feast. Next day, Homare teaches them how to ensnare a wild boar. Come on, girls. Cover your hands with wild boar dung!!! The trauma for Shion doesn’t stop… And then they let Shion be the one who trips over it to see if it works. Works like a charm. Lastly we see Homare’s papa on his boat on his way to rescue her…

Cast Away: Girls Versus Wild
Well, this just in. Looks like I know nothing at all and I better have somebody like Homare to hold my hand if I ever find myself in a similar situation. I don’t know if I can really ever do that anus hydration thingy if I were in the same situation. Really, that scene was really the most disturbing and so full of cringe for those who are not used to it. I really hope I don’t have to go through that… And with the girls looking like they’re making the island their home and learning better skills as each day pass, the cliff-hanger of Homare’s papa coming to rescue her, if he does so will they really want to leave their ‘second home’? That will be a survival story for another time. If they manage to put out another season, that is.

While the survival skills and techniques are interesting to watch, I have a feeling that they are just very basic. After all, even though there is this intention from this anime to enlighten and teach others about survival techniques, you can’t go in too deep and technical otherwise it will bore and confuse the hell out of many viewers. Especially like yours truly who know nuts about surviving and this might turn this series into one ‘scary’ experience. Oh damn, you need to know and do so many things just for that little thing? I’m going to pass this island survival thingy. Yeah… Also, this series is only 12 minutes or so and I can see why they want to keep it short and at the same time cram as many interesting survival situations and techniques into the dozen of episodes. This is after all still anime and the main point is to entertain. Otherwise it makes zero sense to have 4 cute girls as our protagonists here, right? In spite of everything we have seen the girls go through, it feels that nature has still been kind on them rather than unleashing some sort of fury that would have threatened their lives at every moment. Like as though this island is made for beginner and amateur survivalists…

While the plot of this series is to see the girls survive the island and to improve their daily survival, a lot of other things when you think about it doesn’t make sense. Like as though it was just all for plot convenience to set up this setting. For instance when the girls shipwrecked, where are the bodies of their other classmates? Unless you tell me that they are the only ones who were on a trip. Even so, where’s the pilot’s body? Oddly in the first episode I have already been wondering about stuffs like this because I figure if you want to be realistic, might as well think of this gruesome reality too. I know they don’t want to stay depressed or even think of their dead, but it’s like those dead classmates never existed at all. It’s like, oh there are only 4 of us who survived this. Okay. Let’s start surviving this island together. See what I mean? Plus, this is sea water so the bodies should float? Amazingly no corpses have been drifted on the island they have been. Assuming that the girls have been stranded on this island for days and weeks, why has there been no search and rescue operation to look for them? Unless the pilot went off its course so the rescue team is searching in the wrong place. Hmmm… Now where have I heard this plot before? With no rescue team means it beats the girls having to bum around and wait to be rescued and hence why we see them doing things to survive.

And then here is another mind boggling part: How come the girls still look fresh and especially their clothes still looking good and new? Remember what I said about this series trying to entertain us and probably targeting a certain demographic segment? Uh huh. It just feels unrealistic that even though there might be some natural solutions to help keep the moisture and some skin care, it won’t be as good as those manufactured ‘poison’ that those international brands produce. In short, the girls here look amazingly cute and clean despite being stranded on the island for days and even weeks. Their school uniforms look amazingly neat and spotless despite being exposed to the elements. No torn or ripped parts of their shirt or skirt. Even more mind boggling how Homare has used her shirt to drain blood and I can’t believe it is still as white as snow after she somehow cleans it. If this was true in the real world, serial killers and murderers would have gotten away with it so easily. Therefore sometimes looking at the girls who are clean and fresh makes me feel like they’re doing one big advertising for the island… Get what I’m saying?

Character wise, I guess there is nothing much to say about them. You can easily pigeonhole them as the athletic tomboy (Asuka), the studious megane (Mutsu) and the prideful oujosama (Shion). Thankfully with one of them being a master survivalist, the rest get to extend their lives longer instead of game over the moment they crashed. It is that ironic feeling that everything you learnt in school is not really applicable here. But let’s face it, how often are we going to live in the jungles or somewhere without human civilization? So it is pretty expected that Asuka, Mutsu and Shion know nothing about survival. Occasional b*tching and whining I guess it is acceptable seeing that they are unfamiliar with their new surroundings and it is a good thing they learn and help out since trying to forever be a spoilt brat will only get you dead (by nature) and not sit well with us viewers who might be trying to find somebody to hate. I dunno. It’s just human nature, I guess?

But I suppose this means with their undies in good condition too, it gives a great excuse to see them in it while they get wet and do water activities. Damn, that sure sounded ambiguous but whatever. Viva our little fanservice here! And because the trio are noobs in surviving, some of their slip-ups are made to look like jokes and punch lines. Ah well, gotta have some fun too, right? It’s a good thing they have Homare as company rather than, say, Wilson! Cute blonde twintail beats bloody hand printed ball any time!

Homare being the ultimate survivalist and somewhat saviour of the pack, it feels like God is trying to play a cruel trick on her by testing what she has learnt from her father all these years. Many of the techniques she employs here are thanks to the lessons and flashbacks while travelling with her dad that are scattered throughout the series. Hence it also becomes one of the mind boggling points of the series: Why the heck was papa bringing a young girl along with him through his travels around the world? I don’t know what job papa does that has him travelling to all the dangerous parts of the world, but why bring a young Homare who could have been in elementary school then with him? I am making a big assumption that mom is dead and it’s the only reason why a child is not stopped to go on such journeys. And of course thanks to the travels, she has gained a lot of valuable knowledge on surviving. For some reason she stopped travelling and entered high school. I am also assuming this happened because dad is dead and she thought of experiencing the high school life before she gets too old to be a high school girl. And then this happened. Perhaps the ultimate test to see if she was really paying attention to daddy. From what we’ve seen, it is sure paying off.

On a side note, thanks to my limited Japanese vocabulary, initially I wondered why this series was named so. Only after a simple Google search did I realize it was appropriately named and it can be used as pun too. Hence the official English title of “Are You Lost?” is appropriate (sounan means lost). This also offers a play on word and pun because “Sou nan desu ka” technically means “I see…”. Therefore when Homare shows and wows us with her techniques cue this line which could actually mean both. Pretty neat, huh?

Art and animation feel pretty okay as we have cute looking girls and for thankfully the island life isn’t harsh enough that the girls suffer some kind of horrible injury or tragic fate. Yeah, nobody gets paralyzed or suffer from some sort of illness! And with cute girls making look like it is so easy and fun living the island life, better think twice and do your research after research if you really want to try this out. This anime is animated by Ezola whose only other anime at this point was Happy Sugar Life.

I didn’t want to make any issues with the voice acting part but I want to point out that Homare’s character at first I didn’t think she was suitably voiced. Not that Mao Ichimichi (Shion in Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken) did a bad job but rather my perception (and most of us) of blonde twintail girls. I was expecting her to have this high pitch squeaky voice like what many blonde twintail girls do. Yeah, bonus points if she is a tsundere. Therefore having Homare’s voice as the calm and lower pitched, it just feels, uhm, not right. Had Homare looked like any one of the other girls, I would have agreed to the casting but I guess the producers want us to cast away that stereotypical views of blonde twintail girls. Yeah, it all doesn’t matter when it comes down to survival, huh?

The other casts in this small line-up include Azumi Waki as Shion (titular character in Oshiete! Galko-chan), Hiyori Kouno as Asuka (Kazusa in Araburu Kisetsu No Otomoe-domo Yo), Kiyono Yasuno as Mutsu (Megumi in Saenai Hoeroine No Sodatekata) and Akio Ootsuka as Homare’s papa (Kyouraku in Bleach). Seriously, the more I hear the voice of this guy, the more I keep thinking he is the late Unshou Ishizuka! Remember Ahomushi? If the island didn’t get named by them, then they could have formed a band in an alternate reality and sung the opening theme of this song, Koko Wa Doko! Another one of the weird aspects of this series is how lively this song is. I don’t expect it to be dark, dramatic and edgy but for a show about survival, seeing the girls having fun doing survival stuffs in the opening credits, it just feels really weird. Yes. Really, really, really weird. But I think we need all the positivism and motivation we can get by staying on this deserted island. The ending theme by Kiyono Yasuno goes to a slower beat. Ikiru has this slight feel that it is a marching band song but it’s not that bad either.

Overall, this series can swing both ways. It is entertaining because you get to see the girls doing basic survival tasks and if you like a bit of ecchi, having them doing certain stuffs in their underwear gives a natural excuse for this. However the series can be a drag because it is basically the girls doing basic survival tasks. Rinse and repeat but shown in a different way. And the saddest part is that I would forget all the lessons that Homare has thought us once the next season rolls in. Heck, even by the next episode I would have forgotten the important survival lessons of the previous! Looks like I’m not cut out for surviving in the wild. Anime had better not die out and force me to go outside and live a normal social life! Oh the horror! I don’t need that kind of survival skills, please!!!

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