The harshest, toughest adventures in the world can only be challenged with guts, determination, preparation, and probably a bit of luck money as well.
That... is what we usually think of when we ponder about veterans of the biggest journeys mankind has ever done. After all, we were charting unknown territories. Places where humans, in their natural state, might just not be suitable for basic survival at all.
But Antarctica is a completely different beast from all other voyages humans had ever planned prior to the space race. Because the season of joy and gift giving in this remote, unforgiving climate, is one of organization, endurance, wild camaraderie...
... and all kigurumi fitting the occasion at hand.
"Wow, like a spaceship landing on another planet."
"You kids still haven't gotten to the worst best part of Antarctica just yet."
The Penguin Manju, a rather oddly named icebreaker, finally finishes its journey from the port of Fremantle in Western Australia all the way down to Syowa Station in Antarctica. For regular explorers at the extreme end of the world, it seems that this was simply a routine step in the annual maintenance of research operations down South. This is despite the quite unique facts that:
- There is a significantly lower number of personnel this time around.
- Almost all personnel are civilians.
"It sure took a while. Some of us lost hair, some got divorced, some of you might not even have jobs anymore during these three years... all in preparation for this moment."
Actually, the development of this latest expedition, and the preparation of its remaining crew is already a sort of adventure on its own. Up until the ship actually started its journey, many people have doubted if the new civilian expedition to Antarctica would ever even start. The original team had a very significant setback years ago, that caused many of its major sponsors to back out and withdraw one by one.
"I gotta admit, Takako's kid and her friends really got guts to have caught up along with us."
"Well, technically they threw up half of it while we were crossing the ACC."
But... against all financial hurdles, they are all finally here.
It is even more of a miracle for one particular special group. A team of four kids strung by fate, dared to take on the objective of reaching this place. Four very young high-school girls, who under normal circumstances, would never have been given a chance to even begin the trip in the first place.
"Also... that was quite a pretty impressive simultaneous jump to the surface, considering that the metal stairs can only allow two people passing at a time."
Yet here they are, surrounded by adults more experienced than them, with everyone else having first-hand experience on the extreme harshness of the Antarctic weather (even during the middle of the Southern summer).
"Only three of us are going to be noticed by the audience but eh, who cares at this point."
The successful initiation of the expedition, the safe arrival of the Penguin Manju, and December nearing its end meant only one thing: a celebration is in working order. Sure enough, as soon as most of people and stuff are transferred over at the Syowa Station, the first objective is to make sure that Christmas is properly celebrated by the entire team.
"There's only one place where we can thaw this chicken well before the party starts!"
"We are NOT putting that anywhere near the central kotatsu, Kimari."
First priority is of course food. The expedition team's professional culinary strategist Yumiko gives the four girls different responsibilities at each step of the way. The relative efficiencies of their jobs, however, still depended heavily on who exactly did what. Oh and, Kimari always had wildest ideas, as usual.
"You know, I actually like the idea of being in the middle of Southern summer and yet still super chilly that it's basically the same Christmas back in Gunma."
Second priority is morale management. Even with physical responsibilities in place, the girls also have to attend to the expedition crew members. Nothing too specific or special, though. Simply bringing the prepared food to them with a cheerful demeanor is already a significant mental boost for them.
"What are we even trying to do in front of all this drunk audience?!"
"Shh look, that captain-frenzy Toshio is still watching us over there."
And lastly, entertainment! Well, this didn't really turn out the way they wanted with the crew already wasted at this point of the celebration. Still a good attempt by Team Hinata/Shirase, though.
As you can see with the images, winter-themed kigurumi is all the rage with their Antarctic Christmas celebration, as it should be. Specifically, the undying reindeer kigurumi, and the yet another example of the blue penguin kigurumi.
For their looks, it's quite the standard fare. Penguin kigurumi are pretty much as you would expect them to look, especially knowing that this specific color is quite a phenomenon in Japanese media (not in real-life!). Reindeer kigurumi on the other hand, needs no explanation at all. All of the anatomical points needed for recognition are there, with the occasional red nose that points to one very specific identity.
And so, the celebrations eventually ended on a pretty good note. Yuzuki even got a belated birthday celebration, since they were still at the Penguin Manju at the start of December and can't celebrate there due to physical(?) restrictions.
Spoiler alert though, this is the point where it all starts in Antarctica, and yes, the worst is still yet to come...
To be honest, even for an anime/manga, the fact that kigurumi seems to come so naturally to the (civilian) expedition crew is quite a surprise for something with the subject of modern Antarctic exploration.
"Just because we're in Antarctica doesn't mean we can't have cold delicacies, okay?"
Not to say that researchers and scientists are too uptight to have fun there (as YouTube can strongly suggest otherwise). But kigurumi and Antarctica have never been particularly a well-known combination, even if ironically it should make perfect sense. Doesn't seem like it should be exclusive to their unique civilian-focused expedition either so it is all the more weird for me personally.
But, who knows? It's not like we get everyday footage of Antarctic research bases anyway. Kigurumi may well be a secret norm among select residents of the real-life Showa Station, along with watching The Thing for newcomers.
By the way, I believe that this episode of Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho in particular has some important message on how and when friendships are officially formed...
Image Credit by Hiyori Mizuki via Twitter
Ah well. Maybe some other time.