Top 20 Bishoujos

December 30, 2006

To end the year 2006, I’ve decided to come up with a list of the top 20 Bishoujous of anime. Actually, I’ve got this idea quite some time ago but I needed time to plan it all out.
 
You see, there are many reasons why one watches an anime or looks out for when watching them. It could be because of the storyline, or perhaps the character developments, or maybe the superb drawing and breathtaking scenaries. Not to mention the extraordinary voice acting or the excellent music and soundtrack. But for me, one main reason to watch a series is simply because… there’re pretty and kawaii bishoujos! Yes, that’s what I also look for when I watch an anime. And no, don’t think that I’m a pervert because of that. I just feel that they’re more than just eye candy which make the series much more pleasurable to watch.
 
Also, I decided to limit my list to 20 bishoujos since there are countless of them. Thus, now I know what it’s like to be a judge. You have to make painful decisions with so many nominees but with so limited spots. *Sighs*. So below are those who manage to get squeezed into my top 20 list in ALPHABETICAL ORDER and NOT THE PRETTIEST ORDER. Yeah, seems I can’t decide on their ranking as well. Oh well, here we go:-
 
1. April (Coyote Ragtime Show)
 
2. Ayu Tateishi (Ultra Maniac)
 
3. Chika Koizumi (Kyou No Go No Ni)
 
4. Eclair (Kiddy Grade)
 
5. Kaname Chidori (Full Metal Panic)
 
6. Lacus Clyne (Mobile Suite Gundam Seed)
 
7. Mai Tokiha (Mai-HiME)
 
8. Mai Santa Claus (Itsudatte My Santa)
 
9. Megumi Kannazuki (Muteki Kanban Musume)
 
10. Nina Sakura (Ultra Maniac)
 
11. Noi Kasahara (Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge)
 
12. Pacifica Cassul (Scrapped Princess)
 
13. Rena Lanford (Star Ocean EX)
 
14. Rosette (Chrno Crusade)
 
15. Sana Kurata (Kodocha)
 
16. Tenma Tsukamoto (School Rumble)
 
17. Xiao Long Nuu (Condor Hero)
 
18. Yukino Miyazawa (Kare Kano)
 
19. Yumi Yukuzawa (Maria-sama Ga Miteru)
 
20. Yuufa (Ragnarok The Animation)
 
Please note that this list IS NOT meant to be definitive. Yup, as at of today, these pretty kawaii bishoujos are the top 20 that occupies my list at this point in time. In the future, there may be other bishoujos which may make it into the list since there are many more bishoujos out there waiting to be discovered!
 
Though I need to mention that some came quite close in making the list but were eventually ‘dropped’ due to the limited places. They include Rushuna Tendou (Grenadier), Sango (Inu Yasha), Mai Taniyama (Ghost Hunt), Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro (Pretty Cure), Tsunade (Naruto), Sakura Mikan (Gakuen Alice), Esther Blanchett (Trinity Blood), Kotori Shirakawa (Da Capo), Akane Suzumiya (Akane Maniax), Miyu Kouzuki (Daa! Daa! Daa!), Princess Feena (Yoake Mae Yori Ruri Iro Na – Crescent Love), Sakuno Ryuzaki (Prince Of Tennis), Yume Kikuchi (Someday’s Dreamers), Winry Rockbell (Fullmetal Alchemist), Yoshino Shimazu (Maria-sama Ga Miteru), Dorothy (Marchen Awakens Romance), Ayako Takasu (Mamoru-kun Ni Megami No Sukufuku Wo), Mio (Asobotto Senki Goku) and Nanami Jinnai (El Hazard).
 
Before I conclude, there is one bishoujo who’s the top number 1 of all time, though I mentioned earlier on that the list is not a ranking one. But she certainly stood out and won my heart. Who is it? If you’ve been following my blog all this while, you’ll know that the winner is no other than bishoujo number 7 Mai Tokiha!!!!! Yes, Mai Tokiha is still the prettiest of the lot and she’ll continue to rule the roost forever and ever!
 
Here’s another big picture of her to celebrate her eternal beauty, the one and only Mai Tokiha.
 
So there you have it, the top 20 bishoujos. Have any comments or objections? Feel free to do so. Hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Long live bishoujos of anime!

Someday’s Dreamers

December 29, 2006

If you’re looking for another one of those animes where there isn’t any excessive bloody gore and violence or even nonsensical out-of-this-world jokes, then I suppose Someday’s Dreamers or Mahou Tsukai Ni Taisetsu Na Koto as it is known in Japanese, may seem a title worth checking out.
 
Just like when I watched Aria The Animation, I’ve got this mixed feelings of slow and boring but at the same time, also had that quite easy-going and calm mood. Yup, another in-between case. But unlike in Aria, this isn’t set on another planet nor is it in the distant future. Rather, the series takes place in a present day modern world but only this time, it’s filled with magic. Yes, magic. Don’t worry, there won’t be heavy magic using powers or super magic spells and effects like you see in all those adventure-fantasy movies.
 
It’s just enough to get by since there are only 12 episodes in this drama-cum-slice-of-life anime. Not too long and not too short. Okay, maybe 12 episodes is kinda short. But if you view it once per week, you’ll probably take 3 months to finish it (see, simple maths calculation) and that may seem a long time in anime terms due to the ever increasing number and amount of animes produced recently. So if you really take your time, you may miss out on other animes. But hey, don’t rush this one. Just watch it at a moderate pace.
 
As mentioned earlier on, as it is set in a parallel world, though magic exists in this world, not everybody can use them. Those who can use them are in a way ‘special’. That’s because magic here is part of the service industry. And that’s the case for this girl, Yume Kikuchi, who is also the main protagonist for the series. One thing I find funny about this girl is that she has 3 strands of hair sticking up on her head. Did she use some sort of gel? Looks like some kind of bug antenna. Just kidding. Anyway, as seen in the first episode, she arrives from the country side village to Tokyo in order to become an apprentice mage. What’s a mage? Well, for those who’ve never read or watch magical or fantasy-like novels or movies, a mage is a person who can cast spells and magic. Same case here. Therefore, I guess the term mage is most appropriate for a person who can use magic here.
 
Yume’s having a hard time trying to find the location of the place where she’ll learn to become an apprentice mage. Yup, she’s gonna be a student to one of the most famous mages of all time, Masami Oyumada, that is. The streets of Tokyo are overly crowded as Yume weaves through them all. Then, she spots a young man named Zennosuke who offered her to help her cross the busy street. But while she’s crossing the street, Yume accidentily tripped and a car is approaching her fast. Suddenly, all the cars start to float in the air. What’s happening? Well, actually Yume’s using her magic powers as she gently put the cars back on the ground. Those drivers must have had a rude shock, huh? At this point, Zennosuke realized that Yume’s a mage too.
 
Zennosuke then took Yume to the subway station and it’s there they parted ways. But Yume who felt that she really need to thank him properly uses her magic and filled his pockets with something. Eventually Yume managed to find the place. Looks like it’s some sort of bar. There she meets a guy named Go Kato AKA Mr Smiley (who’s shirtless at first) whom after hearing her out, takes her upstairs to meet Oyamada. Woah! now 2 shirtless men! Nope. No dirty thoughts here. Looks like he’s quite a good looking guy too. Here we also learn that Yume’s mum too was a famous mage but she’s retired and doesn’t do magic anymore. Yup, Yume’s quite eager and prepared to train and learn to become a certified mage under the guidance of Oyamada. And because of that, Yume will be living under Oyamada’s roof since there were no prior arrangements made for her to stay nearby.
 
Of course with her new surroundings, Yume explores to familarize herself with it. Like how the bar below is operated by Mr Smiley with that latin music in the background. Isn’t she a little underage to enter? Oh well, nothing to it really. Also, a few nostalgic moments as Yume still misses her home very much.
 
The next day, as Oyamada says, the first order of business is to get Yume registered as a trainee mage. At the Magic Branch Bureau, they met an officer who’ll be doing her paper work, Kozo Endo who seems like a friendly and nice elderly man. But during their time there, Yume caught a glimpsed of Zennosuke entering the office and proceeds to greet him. Unfortunately Zennosuke’s in a rage. He’s really mad at Yume as he throws a bag full of money right at Yume’s feet. Looks like it was money that Yume filled his pockets with the other day. Anybody would’ve been overjoyed receiving such an amount but not him. Yeah, Zennosuke’s not that greedy kind of person and told her off that he didn’t expect some kind of reward or whatsoever in return for his help and that he’s just helping because he wanted too. Though I guess Yume’s intentions were good but in a way she misused her magic recklessly. What a way to make a bad start and impression.
 
Episode 2 begins with Yume watching some video about ethics in using magic. A lot of those explanations which I’ve already forgotten. Oops. But one thing I remembered is that, a mage can only perform his/her magic actions when there is a formal request made. That means, you can’t simply use your magic powers as and when you feel like it. Some violation thingy there.
 
Also, Yume got some signet ring to signify her as mage. Yup, this ring throughout the series will glow and aids in Yume’s magic power when she uses it. And each mage has got their own ‘trademark’ and Yume’s is a dolphin. Can’t remember exactly how she got that. Plus, before each time she performs her magic, she’ll always start off with the line "With all my precious feelings…". I guess you need to say the right words too like ‘open sesame’ or ‘abracadabra’ in order for magic to work.
 
After Yume got her ring, Oyamada brings her to meet one of the heads of the Magic Bureau, Rikiya Furusaki, who also seems to have an apprentice mage under his wing, Angela Brooks. Looks like this Furusaki guys seems strict and not too kind, complaining of Angela’s unauthorized use of magic. Hmm… He seems not to take a liking for Yume too as he’s not too fond of how Yume uses her magic recklessly. Looks mean too.
 
Later that day, Yume’s at Tokyo’s shopping district when she happened to bump Zennosuke working part time at some fast food place. It’s a small world after all. The 2 had some chat and Yume’s embarrassed about the earlier incident and kept apologizing profusely. So much so she cried. Wah, that bad ah. In order not for Zennosuke to look like it’s his fault (it isn’t in the first place) he takes her to the nearby park.
 
At the park, the 2 of them continue their chat and Yume found out that Zennosuke previously wanted to become a pro football player but lost power to his legs during an accident many years ago. That’s why he felt pity and wanted to help Yume crossed the street the other day. Yume thinks that was in a way a formal requests and proceeds to use her magic to heal Zennosuke’s leg. Looks like her magic is more powerful than the last time. Before you know it, Zennosuke’s playing football with the other kids and he looks quite happy. And he even scored a goal! But as he turned around, Yume’s already gone. Meanwhile, at the Magic Bureau, Furusaki isn’t too happy when the sensors picked up an unauthorized use of magic, which is from Yume. He contacts Oyamada about it but the latter cooly says that it’s part of her training. Meanwhile Yume heads back to her place feeling very happy about what has happened today.
 
So for the rest of the episodes it will be something like this. Yume meets all sorts of people and their problems and she wants to help them out in a way using her magic. Well, at least that’s what I felt. I mean, if she wants to become a successful mage, I suppose she has to go through and face all kinds of problems, right? But somehow I also felt that these problems were not as serious so much so it would make her sweat or panic. Which is a good thing too, right? You shouldn’t put too much pressure on a little girl in training at first.
 
In episode 3, besides having Angela studying beside her for the day, Oyamada is approached by a women named Lila. She wants to hire a mage to help her out with her problem. It seems that the man she fell in love with is in prison serving time for embezzlement charges which she claims he wasn’t really part of. She wants to get word to him to tell him that she’s waiting for him but her efforts were being hampered by all those red tape bureaucracy stuffs. She tried other medias like newspaper but since her story isn’t important, it’s a small column lost somewhere inside the newspaper where nobody bothers to find or couldn’t see at all. Also, only his parents are allowed to see him in prison.
 
Angela who’s moved by Lila’s story, decides to help her out. But of course Yume tries to stop her with that unauthorized used of magic and formal request thingy. Yup, the 2 seem like loggerheads. And donno what happened at one point the 2 said that they’re gonna use their magic so much so that several magic activities and spells were released and they both ended up on top of a building. Huh? And we see Angela’s ‘trademark’ is a cross with wings. Anyway because of that, Furusaki and his bureau members picked up this signal and he again fumes it must be them. Looks like he’s got them on his watch list.
 
In the end, it’s Oyamada who helped Lila in a way. Yeah, looks like he too used some unauthorized magic by using a small bit of magic onto Lila’s lottery ticket. Oh yeah, it looks like Oyamada’s ‘trademark’ is a snowflake. The next day, Yume and Oyamada saw in the front page of the local newspaper that Lila had won the jackpot worth several millions and she donated it all to charity. At least now Lila’s loved one will know about her through the headlines. And Yume’s dreaming of their happy married future. Ah well, girls will be girls.
 
Oyamada tells Yume that since there’re no clients for the day, that they’ll be taking the rest of the day off in episode 4. But a little girl by the name of Luna Morikawa comes in looking for Oyamada. But he wasn’t in. Okay, to cut things short, Luna’s unhappy with one of her classmates, Yasuyuki. Why? Because he’s a mage and he didn’t tell her or his other friends that he was one. He claims that the magic he used usually don’t turn up well that’s why he’s quite reluctant to use or, what more tell others about it. But that wasn’t the bad part.
 
The thing is, Luna’s favourite teacher is going to retire soon and she and her friends were supposed to spend his last day with them stargazing. Unfortunately, the weather forecast says that it will rain that night. And since Yasuyuki won’t use his powers to make those rainy clouds go away, Luna decides to ask the local Magic Bureau for help.
 
So most of the episodes see how Yume tries to understand Yasuyuki’s condition and how she helps him regain his self-confidence and the use of magic. On that fateful night, the weather forecast’s right when it’s about to rain. Yasuyuki mustered up his courage and willpower to make it a clear night. And with a little help from Yume, the whole group is then teleported to the moon where they have a picnic there. I’m not sure if it’s an illusion because, you still need oxygen to breath when you’re up there, right? But it was quite a beautiful scenery on the moon.
 
Meanwhile, Furusaki picks up an unauthorized magic power but this time it’s much stronger than before. Looks like he’s really had it with Yume. But in the closing scenes, we see him talking to a guy named Chief Ginpun who’s reassuring Furusaki that the magic’s been taken care off and whatever answers needed for the press has also been provided for. My first impression of this guy who wears some blinds over his eyes is that he was a she! Yup, must the his thick red lips, long silver hair and the way he dresses made me think so. And when I found out that he was a man, I was thinking that maybe he’s a transvestite. Maybe that’s just his way of dressing. Girly man. Second impression is, I thought with his enigmatic and mysterious ways, he’s a bad guy and is gonna give Yume a lot of trouble in time to come. Later too I found out that he’s actually a good guy and is quite and understanding and patient fellow. See, never judge a book by it’s cover. So is he really blind? So how does he see? Through his heart, maybe. Or perhaps he doesn’t really need to see things or maybe… he’s got crossed eyes! Hahaha. Just kidding. Sorry.
 
And you’ll be assured that he’s so as the beginning of episode 5, Yume meets him at his large mansion for some meeting. He’s telling her how great her mom was when she was one and gives her some words of encouragement. Also it seems that Angela seems to be living in Chief Ginpun’s house too because she’s under his training. I thought she’s under Furusaki. Maybe change of hands, huh?
 
But that’s not the main point of this episode. This episode is mainly on Luna. Before that, we’re introduced to a new character named Milinda who works at the bar as a DJ. Hmm… Looks like she’s a little envious that Yume’s her trainee. But don’t worry, those she’ll get along pretty well with Yume.
 
Anyway, Luna’s facing some problems in her household, particularly with her mom. So young already got that rebelling spirit like not listening to her mom. No doubt that throughout the series she’s a regular at the bar. And I mean not a drinker, duh! She just likes to hang out with people there like Mr Smiley, Milinda and even Yume. Of course Luna’s mom’s worried for her hanging out at such a place and event skipping school. Surely she’s a bit upset and proceeded to take her home instant.
 
So some little tension here and there, Yume tries to help them without using her magic, stuffs like that. Yeah, Luna’s mom’s in a little frenzy since her daughter wandered off and got lost in the streets of Tokyo in the middle of the night. And she wants Yume to use her magic powers to help locate Luna. But Yume said that it would be better if she had find Luna on her own. Of course it all ends well when Luna who’s ‘lepak-king’ at some temple listening to her walkman, is reunited with her mom once again. They also realized the they are important to each other and how they need each other. See, you should also listen to you mother and when your mom scolds you it’s nto because she hates you but rather she loooooves you, isn’t it? Also, I felt that this is as far and prominent as Luna’s part gets. The rest of the episodes is like she’s ‘just there’ but doing nothing really significant. Bummer.
 
Well, it’s Mr Smiley’s turn in episode 6. A near-drowning incident had left one of the 3 orphanage children, Yuta, to be in critical condition. He’s in hospital and in comatose state. We learn that Mr Smiley’s an orphan too, so these children are like family to him. But Yuta’s condition isn’t improving and is taking a turn for the worse. A desperate Mr Smiley stole Oyamada’s ring in hopes that he could use magic to heal Yuta.
 
But he was later told by Yume that the magic powers come from the person himself and that the ring is just a form of identification. In addition, magic powers cannot be acquired and a person must be born with it. It was quite a heart breaking scene to see Mr Smiley breaking down as couldn’t do anything to help. Even he tried pleading to Oyamada for him to use his magic to save Yuta but Oyamada told him that even magic can be used to solve everything.
 
So Mr Smiley couldn’t do much but to stay by Yuta’s side as he tries to talk to him like how he’ll do things together with him once he gets better. And there was a slight reaction from Yuta when wind chimes and bells were mentioned. Using this as his source of motivation, finally Yuta managed to open his eyes. Yeah, looks like some usage of magical powers there as we see lots of those wind chimes and bells floating in the room. Everyone’s relieved and Mr Smiley’s overjoyed. But later it’s said that since it wasn’t Yume nor Oyamada who used their magical powers, which could only mean that… Mr Smiley’s a mage too? And later back at their place he apologized to Oyamada for taking his ring without his permission but Oyamada says he can keep it because he’s allowing him so.
 
In episode 7, Oyamada along with Yume and Angela received a formal request from a few shopkeepers. Their shop windows always seemed to be vandalized but recently a young mage offered to fix it for free. Unfortunately, he just put up an illusion. So as Yume and Angela worked to remove the illusion, Oyamada fixes the windows for real. Also, Yume always noticed how sad Oyamada looked whenever he uses his magic.
 
Later back at the Magic Branch bureau, Yume and Angela saw Furusaki scolding a young man named Inoue Sakuya, who’s also a trainee mage. Looks like he’s the guy who did that fake window illusion thing and he seems very sorry for what he has done. So he went to apologize to the 2 girls and those shopkeepers. The rest of this episodes sees how Inoue too has his own fair share of problems regarding magic, his fears, past and all that. I guess he’s just like any other human being too. Not perfect, that is.
 
Besides that, this episode isn’t that much, except I felt that it was just the calm before the storm. Uh-huh, furthermore since Oyamada is away to Hong Kong as Chief Ginpun said something about him upset with his own magic lately, the rest of the gang have that usual ‘makan’ gathering and tell some tales about passing the mage exams and all that. Also, looks like Mr Smiley is being acknowledged as a mage after that incident at the hospital but not a certified one yet. And by the end of this episode, we see how anxious and gloomy Angela is. Is it because of the exams. Or is it something else…
 
Yup, something else is really bothering Angela as you’ll find out in episode 8. To cut things short. She’s in love! With who? With Inoue, of course. Well, I could tell by her body language that she’s got that uneasy feeling everytime she’s near him. But she denies and ignores it at first. See that’s what happen when you keep your feelings in your heart like that. It’ll become a ticking time bomb. And when it explodes, there’s no turning back and you the damage done is much more destructive than the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
 
And looks like she’s dead serious or maybe caught up in love fever which makes her unable to think straight, when she uses her magic powers to bend one of the Tokyo towers just to ask Inoue to go out with her! Man, that’s dangerous. I think I would think twice if I’m going out with her. And that tower looked so twisted that it’s worse than those art sculptures you see in modern contemporary art galleries. Okay, maybe it’s not that twisted.
 
But in the end, Inoue managed to calm her down. Unfortunately, her actions has caused a little commotion and of course attracted the attention of the media. As usual Chief Ginpun has all the right reassuring answers and in the end that tower has been reversed back to its normal position and soon as a result, Angela is suspended indefinately.
 
Episode 9 is the start of Yume’s turning point. She and Oyamada head over to an old woman and her adult son’s house to fulfill their request of restoring the settings back to how it was 50 years ago. Yume manages to perform her request flawlessly. But unfortunately, Yume overheard that old lady saying how she regretted making the request. This caused Yume to start thinking whether what she did was wrong or right. Yup, her confidence is already shaken. And there’s gonna be a lot of indecisiveness and spacing out from her. Can’t blame her, she’s still new and under training.
 
The atmosphere from now on will take quite a gloomy mood and pace. But before that all that, in that episode too, while Yume’s performing her magic she caught a glimpse of a little girl and her little white cat which only she could see. Don’t really know what it all means except that the little girl in a way helped to find an old man lying lifelessly at some abandoned house. Yume managed to get to him in time and with Mr Smiley’s help, that old man was taken to hospital for treatment. So that little girl’s a ghost or an apparition? Looks like. She even caused Yume’s 3 strands of hair to drop. Hehe. And by the end of this episode, it seems that Furusaki now views Yume a little more favourable. Because she gave him some sunflower seeds which reminded him of his childhood days…?! Yeah, that old guy that Yume and Mr Smiley saved is somewhat related to Furusaki. His missing brother or something. I guess in a way he’s quite thankful for what they’ve done.
 
Still unsure about that ‘I-regret-my-request’ line, in episode 10 Yume wonders if her magic are sufficient and useful. A lot of unsure thinking. Also at the same time we see that Oyamada has some sort of his own problems too. He’s looking more melancholy than before but still manages to retain his posture. Though he seems kinda spaced out in a way. As Mr Smiley and Milinda said that Oyamada wasn’t so open like this until Yume came into his life. So I guess there must be something really bad that happened to him, huh?
 
To make things worse, the house that Yume did the request on caught fire and that old lady is critical injured and is even hospitalized. Oh dear. Yume now feels that her actions may be responsible for it. She even becomes very discouraged to use her magic as it may not bring happiness to people. Even Oyamada tries to talk to her but I guess Yume needs some time on her own to settle and figure things out.
 
And in episode 11 we find out Oyamada’s tragic past and dark secret. It seems before all this, a young Oyamada had a girlfriend named Takako. And as they were driving along the beach coast, an incoming truck (maybe the driver’s drunk as it’s swerving left and right) threatens to collide into them. Oyamada’s instant reaction was of course to suddenly steer away from it. Unfortunately, the car went through the divider and crashed on the sandy beach below. Though Oyamada’s injured but Takako’s wound was even serious and life threatening. And without further assistance, she could die! So he decided to use his magic powers to save her life. However, it was futile as Takako died in his arms as he could only watched in horror. I suppose that’s why Oyamada didn’t want to help Mr Smiley and Yuta’s case as he realized that magic isn’t everything, especially when it comes to life and death. He still can’t forgive himself over Takako’s death.
 
With that, Yume ponders if she should go on training as a mage apprentice. She’s got no choice though. Yume again meets Chief Ginpun at his house. He then orders her to take a final exam to be a certified mage. But the thing is, the test will be for Yume to use her magic powers on Oyamada. Oh the horror! Things couldn’t get any worse than this. Well, she can’t back down, can’t she. I mean, it’s a direct order from the chief himself. So more spacing out here and there.
 
Looks like Angela’s still there. Giving some self-confidence to Yume to boost her already low-morale. But there’s so much that words could only help. By the episode’s end, Yume’s confidence shatters even further when that little white cat dies in her arms and she couldn’t do anything about it. Oh my. This is really going to be tough for her. How is she gonna overcome it with things like this. Yeah, it’s really gloomy and to add more gloominess to it, it’s even raining with thunderstorm. Typical ominous gloomy scene.
 
But before Yume takes her final exam in episode 12, she’s gonna go through a lot of morale-boosting, self-confidence and words of encouragement conversations from various characters. For instance, the first one being Zennosuke. Hah, I was wondering where that guy went after the end of episode 2. Looks like he’s coaching a team of footballer kids. And I thought his was role was just there and the producers killed him off since. Looks like he’s still grateful for what Yume has done to him that day.
 
Then it’s Angela’s turn after which Yume then ran down to the hospital after hearing news that the old lady’s awoken and in a much better state. Yume finds out the truth about that she actually misconstrued when she said that ‘I regret my request’ line and the old lady meant a different thing and wasn’t referring to Yume’s magic power. What a relief it must’ve been for Yume. That old lady too told Yume that her magic’s actually been quite useful and helpful after all and thanks her for everything. Double relief! Then later some more of those conversation with Mr Smiley on the rooftop of the hospital and finally down at the hospital’s park on a bench with Milinda.
 
And at last, it’s time for Yume to perform her magic on Oyamada. With the 2 of them alone back at their office, Yume begins and with all her precious feelings she takes Oyamada to an alternate reality whereby he had died instead of Takako. Looks like she’s living life to the fullest with her own family now, though she still remembers and prays for him. Then a change of scene where Oyamada and Takako sitting together on a sunset beach. Some talking here and there something like how Takako would like him to live life to the fullest and he shouldn’t be bogged down by the past and look like a person dying on his deathbed. With that, Oyamada’s been ‘released’ from his past and tells Yume she did a job well done and passed with flying colours.
 
In the ending credits, we see Yume being certified as a mage now by a pleased Chief Ginpun. Because she decides to go back to her home after all this, we see her saying goodbye and thanking everyone for their support from Furusaki to Angela to Endo and the rest of the other staffs at the Magic Branch Bureau, to Luna (who’s reluctant to see her go) and Milinda. Hey, looks like Mr Smiley’s now a mage trainee as he shows Yume his ring. Lastly as Oyamada sees off Yume at the train station she promised how she would come back and return. Oyamada then told her to return then because he’ll be waiting for her and so are the rest of the gang. I guess that lifted her spirits as we can see now Yume crossing the street without hesitation or fear.
 
Overall, I could say that this is a heartwarming anime. Nice and slow storyline and concept. And just like Aria The Animation, another thing I like about this series are the wonderful background musics and soundtracks. Yes, a lot of those soothing sounds from classical guitar pluckings to piano playing to strings, mostly easy to listen too. Though I find most of the tracks sound the same with a little variation here and there, nevertheless, they’re still quite soothing and nice to listen too. So keep your ears peeled and open when you watch this series.
 
As for the character developments, as far as I’m concern, I felt that Yume’s character is the one that’s being developed, though Oyamada’s one was at the end. The rest of the other characters’ development weren’t that significant, though and even if there was, probably it was too small for me to notice nor did it have any major impact in the series. I’m not saying they’re ‘stagnant’ but since the series focuses mainly on Yume, I guess probably they took a back seat.
 
I can’t really say much for the voice acting. That’s because I’ve watched the series dubbed in English rather than the original Japanese audio, as I’ve always preferred the latter. So I notice some accents here and there. Especially Angela’s. Uh-huh, she sounded like a Texan or maybe a person who used the Queen’s English. Weird. But I got used to it. It wasn’t that bad either.
 
There’re several lessons that one can learn from here too such as hope and perserverance. The series may touch a little on the matter about life and death but didn’t really delve into it. Main thing is, it’s important to live and do things while we’re alive. Just on the surface. So even if magic doesn’t really exists in this current world, but I’m sure that there’re ‘magic’ happening every day. Just that, it’s how you view and accept them, whether big or small. That’s all.

Itsudatte My Santa

December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas! And what a way to celebrate this special occassion than to blog on a Christmas-themed anime. Nope, not that one-off episode of an anime series where they specially set 1 episode for Christmas. I’m talking about the entire anime series themed with Christmas. Still can’t figure which anime I’m talking about? Why, it’s Itsudatte My Santa of course.
 
Okay, maybe this isn’t exactly an anime series but more like an OVA. Yeah, only 2 episodes here rather than the usual 12 or 13 episode tv series. Also it’s approximately 30 minutes long. Though it’s short, this comedy-romance anime is sure enough for some laughs for the Yuletide season.
 
So let’s get down to the story. In the beginning of episode 1, we hear a narration from a teenager named Santa about Christmas myths. You know, how Santa Claus is discovered by the parent’s own kids when they pull off their fake white beard or how the kids witness that it was their daddy which put the presents under the Christmas tree rather than the real Santa Claus himself.
 
Unfortunately, Santa has never experienced all these because he has always spent his Christmas alone as his parents are always overseas and away. Sad. Poor kid. Even the presents he got were from the mail and so is the cake sent by his grandma. All he wants is to spend 1 nice Christmas with his family. And because he has never experienced it, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. Can’t blame him.
 
But his life is gonna change a little when a teenage girl by the name of Mai, asking him loudly in front of the crowded fountain square, that if she could spend 1 night with him. Imagine Santa’s embarrassement and the misconception when the other people heard this! And Mai even smacked him and called him a pervert when she heard what other passer-bys had to say. Haih…
 
Declaring herself the Santa Claus that gives children hopes and dreams, 2 police officers then proceed to take her away because she’s too noisy, much to Santa’s relief. But it’s just a short reprive as Mai somehow manage to escape custody and continues blabbing something about how unlucky he is right now and shouldn’t run away. And while Mai’s still blabbing about how she’ll bring him good luck if she spends a night with him, Santa’s already gone. I guess what this guy really needs is peace and quiet. Wait a minute, doesn’t he have that every Christmas?
 
Then donno how we see Mai holding on to Santa’s hand as he’s desparately trying to flee. Talk about a quick change in scene. Of course Santa told her that since he didn’t believe in Santa Claus, he doesn’t need her help as she wouldn’t understand. When Mai asked him why, Santa then stopped and told her that since he was born on 24th December, he was given the name Santa and thus that’s why he hates Christmas. Ah… I see. But… Mai then dropped and laughed like mad, rolling over her tummy saying how corny it was and how she’d lose to him on this. Santa must be feeling very low.
 
And as Santa ran away in tears (depicted funnily here), Mai apologized and said she didn’t mean to tease him like that because it sounded funny as it came out from his own mouth. Is it? So she pleaded to him once again and promise to take care of him. But Santa is still stubborn and refuses her help.
 
So over the next few scenes we see how Mai ‘annoys’ Santa and tries to help him ‘improve’ his conditions like giving him a better can drink than the one he bought, be his ‘fighting partner’ instead of just playing the ordinary fighting games at some video games outlet, or even becoming some idol just for him. But that last one attracted lots of perverted photographers as they happily snapped away Mai in her cute and sexy outfits. Up till now, do you notice that the crowd  seems to stand and stare at them whenever Santa and Mai argue or so. Like busybody only. Watching as though they dunno what’s going on. Wait a minute. They don’t, right? Also, Mai’s limited powers can only ‘wish’ for things that starts with ‘San-‘, like sanma (a type of fish) and sanparu (sample).
 
But the crowd was pushy and wanting for more, thus pushing Santa and he accidentily bumped and made a guy dropped his box of cake. Yeah, this guy looks like some sort of a gangster and because he’s got no name, I’ll call and refer to him as Gangster Boss. Plus, Gangster Boss has got lots of his ‘yes-man’ cronies. Haha. Saying yes to everything or anything to Gangster Boss’s favour. And since his cake’s been destroyed, he’s pretty mad and proceeds to pound Santa, even though Santa offered to buy him a new one. But Gangster Boss said it wasn’t the same anymore. Luckily, Mai manage to land a super kick on top of Gangster Boss’s head and all his cronies are in a shock to see Mai doing that to their boss. She goes on saying how she’ll protect him and won’t allow them to lay a single finger on him. With that she and Pedro won’t forgive them. Yeah, the gang thought Pedro is some terror macho wrestler but it’s just actually Mai’s little stuffed reindeer. Shock! And Gangster Boss is gonna punch Mai, but she managed to evade all his blows.
 
And with all the ‘San-‘ things she summoned in that fight (even Samba…?!), Gangster Boss thinks she’s mocking him and is really furious now. As Santa watches them, he thought of going home but he felt that he couldn’t leave Mai alone and took up a stick and whack Gangster Boss’s head from behind. All his cronies are mad and are going to get back at them. But Mai who saw what Santa had done is now even more determined to protect him. And calling forth the powers of Pedro, some truck full of sanma unloads everything on those cronies. Dunno whether it’s really Pedro’s powers or just a freak accident. So the 2 manage to make their escape as the cronies are being bogged down by the fishes.
 
Meanwhile back at Santa’s place, while Santa nurses his injuries, Mai takes a shower. We hear that Mai’s some sort of Santa Claus in training. Also, she mentions that her real self is a bustier and more developed body than the current one because the magical powers that she summoned can be in ful effect when one believes in Santa Claus, just like when Santa saved her from those thugs earlier on.
 
A little ecchi part here when Santa’s gonna touch Pedro, Mai burst out of the shower and tells him not to touch Pedro. Of course Mai got embarrassed and thought that Santa’s a pervert and throw many things at him. Round 2. Poor guy. Later, the 2 had some chat regarding Santa’s lonely problem, how his parent’s were never home, that kinda stuff, thus Christmas isn’t anything special to him. But Mai then hugs him. Aww… She apologizes even though her grandpa (Santa Claus, that is) knew of his problem but never came to help. Therefore she wants to help him by staying with him for 1 night and asked him not to die as she squeezed him!
 
But Santa isn’t thinking of dying, he just wants a Christmas party, much to Mai’s relief. And so with a whiff of her magic, they had a littlle Christmas party together. Looks like Santa’s having the time of his life. Then out of the blue she wanted to see the person Santa has a crushed on a grab some photo under Santa’s shirt. Of course, Santa denied that she’s his girlfriend and that she’s just a senior member in his club and he just admires her. He went on to say she’d be probably be on a date since it’s Christmas Eve. Hmm… Your eyes don’t lie, boy. He does have a crush on this girl.
 
After some blabbing on some Christmas history like it’s a day where they celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday and the lights are shining for him just that he didn’t realized it, Mai asked if he now believes in Santa Claus. Well, Santa the way he said he believes it was as though just to please her. But Mai’s happy and asked him to close his eyes. When he does, Mai gives him a quick kiss! Surprise! She says it’s magic to give other people her own fortune and luck, and Santa’s suppose to feel lucky now.
 
Just then, Santa’s handphone rings. Who could it be? His parents? Nope, it’s Minako. Who? Santa’s club senior member. Ah… And she’s inviting him over to her place, much to Santa’s joy. Mai looking spaced out and worried there. She then interrupted their talk by hanging up the phone, much to Santa’s annoyance. She says it’s her magic which made this dream come true for him. Then Santa scoffs her about that magic thing by saying it isn’t real and that she should be able to tell the difference between reality and dream. And when Santa said that magic and Santa Claus couldn’t exist, I guess Mai felt that all her efforts earlier on fell on deaf ears. Yup, she looked kinda sad. Before she ran off, she told him that she did this all for him also because she loved him! Wah. Shock!
 
I’m not sure whether Santa’s running to chase after Mai or not, but he arrived at Minako’s place. There, he found out that Minako didn’t call him earlier. Then Santa just realized Mai’s words about giving her fortune to others. So I guess that was her doing. Minako proceeds to tell him that even if she’d invited him, Santa wouldn’t come because he always prefer to be alone. Right back at ‘cha. Yeah, and all his nice classmates are asking him to come in. Some flashback when Santa’s celebrating his birthday with his classmates in school when he was very young.
 
Santa felt guilty and declined his friends offer to stay because there’s an important place he needs to go so that he can apologize to that person. So he rushes off to the fountain square and found Mai sitting there all by herself and in a depressed mood. And some talk which sounded like ‘I’m-sorry-I-don’t-deserve-your-fortune’ kinda stuff. So in the end Santa decides to give back her magic by kissing her back! Surprise!
 
And what do you know. It’s midnight and it’s Christmas! At the stroke of midnight, suddenly Mai glows and transforms into a sexy Santarina and Pedro into a beautiful reindeer stag. Santa must be shocked at first but he soon realized that this is the same Mai with that under developed body. And she managed to transform was because Santa believed in her. With that, the 2 go on a date as the sleigh they rode on glides through the five foot way passing everyone watching in awe and surprise. And off they go as they fly high into the night sky.
 
But before they can go on a date, Mai says they have to deliver presents to all the kids around the world first. Hey, I thought this was supposed to be that old grandpa’s job? And so Santa learned a thing a two about those unfortunate kids and about life and dreams. And after all that, Santa receives a call from his mom, asking him if he’s eating right and all that usual stuff a mother worries about her child. I guess Santa then felt that he’s a lucky boy and understood what his mom said. He doesn’t hate them anymore. And after a few more ‘lessons in life’ words from Mai, Santa thanked her for everything and glad that she showed him all this.
 
It’s quite a beautiful sight to see the sleigh as the burst through the clouds on a full moon night. Hey, there’re many other Santarinas doing their rounds of delivering presents too. I guess this is how that old grandpa Santa Claus managed to finish it all in 1 night, huh? And as Christmas is going to be over soon, Santa hugs her and asked if he’ll ever meet her next Christmas. Mai says if he’s a good boy, she’ll come and bring his presents. Yup, looks like he’s gonna wait for her. And we hear that same narration of what Santa said in the beginning of this part. Only difference is, it ended with a more positive note, like it’s important to continue believing because if you do, Santa Clause exists.
 
The episode ends with Mai knocking on Santa’s door the next morning. She’s crying because she’d used up all her magic powers and can’t go home. What she’s gonna do? And Santa replied that it has nothing to do with him. Hahaha. Looks like Santa got his wish to be with her again fast.
 
Episode 2 begins with another narration, but this time from Mai. Something about if there’s a short separation consisting of being able to see each other again tommorrow, then there’s a tragic separation that consists of not being able to ever meet again. But she wants to believe that even if the 2 are forcefully separated, there’ll be a bond between the 2 that will not disappear. Yeah, it sounds kinda sad, though.
 
A change of scene where Santa and Mai are having an outing at the sandy beach. Mai wanting to put some sun lotion on Santa’s back but the passer-bys misconstrued and thought that she wanted to ‘stick it in’ in public. Ahem ahem. And when Mai realized things, she smacks Santa with a paper fan, calling him a pervert and such, and there she goes again with that giving the children of the world dreams and hopes.
 
You’ll pretty much figure out that the second episode somewhat nearly follows the same flow, pattern and structure as the first one. That’s because soon after that, that 2 police officers again drags her off to the police station for being too noisy. So if you keep your eyes peeled, you’re gonna notice and go something like, ‘hey, isn’t that somewhat similar to the first episode?’. And again, dunno how she managed to escape from them and yells back at Santa why didn’t he rescue her this time, much to Santa’s surprise.
 
Just then a small and short girl (her head seems proportionately bigger than her body) named Maimai, who’s supposed to be Mai’s little sister from the Santa Claus Kingdom, appears and tells them that somebody is coming. Who is it? Making her grand entrance through the huge tidal waves (or is it a whirlpool) is Sherry, Mai’s childhood friend as she runs towards them. Yeah, this part is a little exaggerated. The force of her speed was so great that it destroyed all the things in her path on the beach. Yup, everybody else’s being knocked out.
 
The reason why Sherry is eager to see Mai is that she wants to clean up the mess Mai left behind, which happens to be an order from Santa Claus himself. And like Sherry said, since this world isn’t big enough for 2 Santa Claus, she suggests that Mai go home. But Mai said it’s Sherry who should go home. And for that short period there, Sherry believed Mai words and was gonna go home. A-ha! Sherry was almost taken in by her own trick. *Smack*. Luckily she realized it.
 
Though it’s been half a year Mai has been stucked with Santa, Sherry remarked that she hasn’t gained anything from this except to hang out with this ‘useless man’. Mai refutes her claims and continue saying that Santa was born on 24th December and was given such a name, and he’s a good man. Sherry was shocked at first. But she quickly dropped and laughed like mad, rolling on her tummy and saying how corny it was and how she’d lose to her on this. Deja vu, isn’t it? Yeah, that whole speech from Sherry’s just like what Mai said in episode 1. But this time, Santa and Mai runs away (also funnily depicted) crying and say how much they hated Sherry. Hahaha.
 
But Sherry challenges Mai and says that if she could be her, then Sherry will tell her higher-ordinates to give Mai the position of taking care of things here. Of course Mai accepts it. And off they go. I’m not sure how is this challenge’s gonna solve things. I mean, Mai’s just gonna summon giant things that starts with ‘San-‘ like sandwich, sandals, sampan, three-stringed kyoto, sunglasses, three plates, sandbag, among others. And each time, Sherry disposes all of them by just saying "Gorgeous!". Yeah, you’ll find out that this is her favourite word too as she’ll use it frequently.
 
Santa told her not to go on like this, but a teary Mai insists and that she won’t lose because she wants to be with him. Just then, Mai summoned sauna and it fell and trapped Sherry. And Sherry seems a little worried because Mai summoned something like this on a hot day. Because she’s trapped in it, Sherry’s desparately asking Mai to let her out as it was getting real hot. Nope, not the girls, but the temperature. A sauna on a hot sandy beach in summer. That’s Hell on Earth, literally. Haha. Then Mai summoned a giant coral reef (sango) inside the sauna. Well, out of the frying pan and into the fire. That’s Sherry’s case as she’s being pinned down by the coral now.
 
But Sherry said nobody won here and asked her to solve this. Maimai took a pin and burst the coral (looks like it’s just an inflatible) and said let’s go eat. Looks like Sherry and Maimai are big eaters! Yeah, devouring lots of watermelon and plate after plate of noodles. Must be that hungry, huh? Then we hear some story that Mai and Sherry studied together to become Santa Claus at some Santa Claus school, how their parents knew each other, but Sherry didn’t think of them as friends as she’s always ahead of Mai in terms of class and such. Yup, looks like another odd pair who always quarrels. Well, opposites do attract. And after all that tough talk from Sherry, she in a way got fed-up of it all and walked off. Oh my, Maimai’s still hungry and wants to eat! Well, looks like Mai has to go get more grub for her. Oh yeah, don’t you notice too that just like in the first episode, everybody else’s just watching them, dunno what’s really going on.
 
Remember that Gangster Boss? Yeah, it’s that part again. But this time Sherry bumped into him causing him to drop his watermelon. And since he’s watermelon’s destroyed he’s in a fit over it but before he could do anything, Sherry retaliated and scolded him back about being so picky about a watermelon and pounded him as all his cronies watched in shocked and horror. Haha. And in 1 final blow she magnified that broken watermelon and landed on them all. No fish this time, but I guess a watermelon will do. Yup, Sherry’s still mad over that Mai thing. You don’t wanna mess with her when she’s like that. No chance at all for them.
 
Meanwhile, Mai who went to get some more food, stumbles upon her teacher, Noel-sensei, doing some fried cuttlefish. She’s telling Mai about the board’s decision and that she must yield to it. But Noel-sensei is giving Mai some time to say goodbye, that is, she has until before 12 midnight on Christmas Eve, or else they’ll be forcefully separated. Mai’s looking spaced out knowing that a time limit has been set. At the same time, Sherry’s seem to be eavesdropping on their conversation and from her point of view she thinks Mai has no courage to do so. Thus, Sherry decides to help Mai in doing so. Is this part of her scheme so that she could clean things up or because Mai’s her friend and she wants to do it for her?
 
So over the next few scenes, Sherry tries to help Mai to say goodbye to Santa. Starting off with that beach volleyball play. Poor Santa, he’s always getting hit in the head by the ball no matter where the serve comes from. Then there’s the part where Mai, Santa and Maimai were watching the fireworks together. Sherry asked if Mai has told him already but Mai said not yet. Sherry suspects it maybe because of Maimai who’s with them therefore Mai can’t say it as Sherry proceeds to forcefully take Maimai away but Maimai bits her hand in protest. It’s the same thing too even when they’re at the hot springs, but this time Maimai bit Sherry’s butt! Hahaha! Hmm… Maimai really does enjoy staying by her sister’s side.
 
Soon the seasons passed, from summer to autumn to winter. Santa and Mai looked so happy together if you don’t mind that ruckus from Sherry trying to keep Maimai away from them in the background. Before you know it, it’s already December and it’s snowing. Sherry and Maimai are still at it. Haih… Looks like Sherry realized it too. Well, nothing’s really achieved for the past half year and Sherry’s looking worried that Mai will be forcefully taken away without having to say goodbye to Santa. Remember that procrastination line? Uh-huh. And also that saying which goes something like ‘never put off tomorrow of what you can do today’.
 
So in a last ditch attempt, on Christmas Eve, time’s running out and Sherry has made reservations for the 2 of them at some restaurant and other stuffs as well so that they could be together. Well, now Maimai’s busy playing video games while Sherry plans it all. *Smack*. Anyway, Sherry’s lecturing Maimai into helping her sis but Maimai seems engrossed in her video game when Mai comes in and heard everything. So a lot of that uncertainty, sad, frienship, realization, believe-in-him kinda talk, bla bla bla as Sherry tries to help Mai out with her last date with Santa. Also some flashback when they were young and together. I guess Sherry’s intentions of helping Mai are true and sincere. Just look at those tears in her eyes. Uhh… there’s something in my eye too…
 
And before Mai runs off to where Santa’s waiting, she tells Sherry that what she needs to tell Santa and Sherry is not goodbye but thank you. Aww… A teary Mai realized a lot of things then like how Santa’s an important person to her. Well, better late than never.
 
Mai managed to find Santa waiting for her at that square and spilled the beans. Yeah, finally she managed to tell him that she’s going back to Santa Claus school and apologizes for not telling him earlier on. But Santa’s quite an understanding guy as he asked her to go back and he doesn’t mind to wait for her even if it’s a year or two. Some more talk of hope and reassurance. Just then Sherry and Maimai arrived as Sherry told them to go on their date. But looks like it’s just a few minutes more to midnight. How can they achieve all those that Sherry had planned for in just a few minutes?
 
Yup, Sherry and Maimai are gonna buy them some time by stopping time itself. Maybe that’s how Santa Claus delivers all his presents in 1 night too. As the 2 transformed into a Santarina and a Santa’s little helper look-a-like (I think that’s what Maimai’s supposed to be) and stopped time just before the minute hand strikes midnight and say that this is their present for the both of them. And off Santa and Mai went and have their fun date. I guess this is what couples want when they’re having a whale of a time on their date. Yup, that is time to stop like that forever.
 
Before Mai leaves Santa, that usual thanking speech, thank you for being my friend and all those sort of stuffs. She then says that it isn’t necessary for her sensei to come pick her up and that this isn’t really a separation because she’ll definately come back here again, just that she’s just going back to school.
 
Just then, time resumes and a beam of line shone down on Mai. Reminds you of Star Trek or even the opening sequence of Mr Bean! And wow. Even as Mai is slowly floating up through the beam of light, she and Santa can still manage to cram in lots of those lovey-dovey talk stuffs. Is this amazing. How long do they want to reassure themselves. Yeah yeah, we all know you both like each other and will be together again soon. So go already! I don’t mean to be pushy nor do I want to see them separated, but I felt that they’ve said too much already. Nothing really wrong with that, though.
 
And just like in the end of the previous episode, Mai again narrates that line in the beginning of this episode but with a more positive tone as she transform into that sexy Santarina. With full speed, Mai blazes through the night sky on her sleigh with Pedro as the others watched from below and cheered for her to go on.
 
Before this episode ends, we see Noel-sensei now knocking on Santa’s door and she’s a little furious. Why? According to her, Sherry’s job was to bring back Maimai and not Mai. Yeah, looks like it was Maimai who’s missing from kindergarten. Yup, after tossing back Mai into Santa’s apartment, everybody’s in a shock to hear that. Poor Maimai, now she’s in tears. But that name on that paper looked ambigous. At first glance one would see it as Mai instead of Mai square, meaning Maimai. Get it. Yeah, and that earlier part where Noel-sensei had that little talk with Mai didn’t mentioned any names either.
 
Hey, wait a minute. I thought there were only 2 episodes. But there seems to be a preview of a 3rd episode at the end. Looks like Santa and the 3 girls are together and are having fun. Hmm.. Sherry and Mai looked like in some competition over Santa. And what’s with that transformation of Pedro into a… mecha Pedro?! Well, it looks fun but I’ve searched high and low for this episode but nil. Maybe they’ve stopped production or maybe they’ll release it next Christmas. Dunno. Or maybe… it’s all fake. Just to get your hopes high up.
 
Overall, I find this 2 episode OVA quite entertaining to watch. If you don’t mind the nude scenes, then I suppose it’s worthwhile to watch, especially together with your family or loved ones. What nude scenes you say? Well, not that obvious, but it’s mainly when Mai changes into the bustier Santarina self. That even if you look real hard. And no… I’m not a pervert! But it seems that I prefer the under developed Mai rather than the bustier one. To me, the former seems prettier and more kawaii. Hehehe.
 
Though it’s a short series, the few characters are quite zany and interesting enough for a few, if not many laughs. So are the voice acting of the characters as well as the drawing, animation and even the backdrop art, especially when it’s snowing at the square, they’re quite pretty well done. Okay, maybe it’s not the ultimate or the most beautiful of works, but I kinda find it all satisfying.
 
The action and comedy at certain points are a little fast paced. Yeah, before you know it, there’s a change of scene already and if you’re too slow, you might be wondering what’s happening and may have to rewind a little to understand what’s going on. So you have to be a little alert when that happens and get ready to expect it. But I guess that’s what makes it funny and unique too.
 
Another thing I would like to note is that during the mid-intermissions or the beginning of the episodes, the voice overs which say "My Santa…" reminds me of those like in The Simpsons opening. Ah… those memories of yester-years. Yeah, those low church choir kinda voices. Nothing to it really. Hmm… In a way, it’s quite soothing to hear such ‘angelic’ kinda voices.
 
In this show there’re lots and lots of life lessons that you could learn and realize, which is quite appropriate for the holiday and festive season. From the usual don’t give up, to the ubiquitous hopes and dreams. If you don’t mind all that talking about it in the first place. Well, at first I felt a little annoyed, but hey, they’re trying to convey a message and it’s not like a picture where it can be automatically described in 1000 words in your head without saying. Plus, it’s those kind where it’ll make you go "Ah… that’s so true…" or "Hey, he/she’s right".
 
Whether you believe in Santa Claus and magic or not or whether they really exists or not isn’t an important case here. What’s more important is that one be a good boy or good girl all year long. Not because to get presents, but rather, wouldn’t you feel better if the whole wide world just treat each other a little better and with respect? Isn’t that the true spirit of Christmas?
 
And oh yeah… Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! HO HO HO!!!

Maburaho

December 23, 2006

Another weird show. Well, at least it did made me raise my eyebrows a few times. What’s so strange about Maburaho, you ask? Okay, maybe in anime terms, this series is quite ‘normal’. But I find some inconsistencies and illogical moments here and there. Meaning that for example, people here can use magic to fly, but when they’re caught up in some situation like running away from something, they used their legs instead of just flying away. Duh. Or when they need to go somewhere fast, isn’t it flying a much faster method? Maybe there’s a reason or limit when they can do so, but I’m not sure about that part.
 
But other than that, I guess it’s okay. Besides, this is after all a comedy-drama mix it in with a lot of magic and fantasy elements. Yeah, you might say that this is another one of those harem animes but it’s more like a mini harem. Hey, what do you expect if there’re only 3 to 4 main girls vying for the guy’s attention. And with 24 episodes worth 25 minutes of show time, you’re gonna expect to see a lot of that. Okay, maybe most of it.
 
The basic premise of the story is something like this. In this world, everybody can use magic. But a distinguishing factor which separates normal humans and elite magicians is the number of time that person can use his/her magic. A normal persons average is a few hundred times whereas an elite magician average is in several thousands.
 
But there’s one catch when that person uses his/her magic. Once he/she uses up all his/her magic powers, that is, that person’s ability to use magic is zero, that person will die and be turned into dust. Hmmm… So I supposed you really got to be careful when you decide to use your magic here as each time a spell is cast or performed, that magic usage meter decreases by one. I wonder how they can keep track of it.
 
So, our main protagonist here, Kazuki Shikimori, a 17 year old student who attends the prestigious Aoi Academy, a magical academy for elite magicians. But the thing is, Kazuki’s usage of magic is far below average. How far is it? Well, he can only use magic for 8 times only. Yes, 8 times only. Why, I have more fingers on both my hands added up. And I think because of that, he’s never really used any magic and he’s being teased and taunted by his classmates. Though, he seems to tolerate them all. But I wonder how he got himself into such an academy in the first place.
 
His life is about to change when suddenly 3 girls appeared an are seemed to be interested in him. Wah, a loser for all his life and suddenly 3 gorgeous looking girls attracted to him? What’s happening? Well, according to the school’s doctor, Dr Haruaki Akai, Kazuki is actually a descendant of many many many magicians and wizards. But they’re not just ordinary magicians and wizards. They’re the greatest, most powerful, prominent, famous, terror-merror and all those great qualities you could ever think of, magicians and wizards in history and the world! Which means, though Kazuki himself isn’t a great magician, his child would definately be one. Wow. Which also means, all the girls would want to have his baby!!! But in this show, they always say, "I want to have your genes" rather than that three letter word which starts with ‘s’ and rhymes with fax. Hmm… Maybe it’s more appropriate and polite this way. Plus, I guess everybody really wants a piece of Kazuki as you could also see in the opening sequence, everybody lambasting some kind of projection towards a poor Kazuki who’s trying to run away from it all. Poor guy.
 
Yeah, this is something which I find rather funny and weird too. At the beginning of the series, when the girls found out about this, all of Kazuki’s classmates were in a frenzy trying to get him to ‘make a baby’ with him. But as the series progress, they became passive-like. Meaning they don’t actually get directly involved or scheme to try to take Kazuki’s genes. And so you’ll see that most of the time it’s just between those 3 girls. And they too seemed to be quite patient whenever they pester Kazuki to give them their genes. I thought they really want it that bad. Yeah, I guess it’s right that you shouldn’t rush some things like this.
 
So who are these 3 girls. Let’s go over them and those other characters as well first. First up, we have Yuuna Miyami, a pink-haired girl who’s the same age as Kazuki. She’s Kazuki self-proclaimed future wife and if not, current wife. She deeply cares about Kazuki but I don’t see her really interested in his genes besides the fact that since she’s his wife (in her mind, of course) that they, well… erm… you know… like that lah. And doing other things that a housewife is supposed to do like cleaning and cooking. She must’ve taken this married thing seriously as you could see her moving suddenly into his dorm and transferring into his class just to be with him.
 
Here’s another weird characteristic about Yuuna. Since she’s quite protective over Kazuki, she usually gets jealous and insecure when other girls approached Kazuki and will usually not hesitate to keep them away, even if it’s just words and remarks. But she seems to tolerate them from time to time. Just giving lip service like ‘hey that’s supposed to be wife’s job (hers, that is) and ‘don’t do that’. And maybe if you look at it in a way, she allows it indirectly. I dunno. I felt that way. Also, we see that Yuuna’s some girl that Kazuki made a promise with when they were much younger. Something about him being a great magician and not moving away (that time I suppose Kazuki had to go away). No wonder she’s so keen on being with him.
 
A 3rd year student and Kazuki’s senior at Aoi Academy is Kuriko Kazetsubaki. At school she’s the student council president. But she comes from a wealthy, influential and well-known family. It seems too that the family has huge corporations here and there and nearly has a hand in lots of sectors. And most probably because of her family’s stature, she wants Kazuki’s genes to maintain them. But as the series progresses, you’ll notice that her mission to get his genes won’t be that important anymore. Why? You’ve probably guessed it. Yeah, she falls for him too, much to Yuuna’s dismay. But she has that ego that can’t make her say "I love you" directly in front of him. Also, I find it funny for her to use those papers, which reminds me of those chinese papers where you offer to dead people, as her weapon. Funny. Plus, among the 3 girls, she’s the ‘flirtiest’ one. Yeah, she doesn’t hesitate to snuggle up close to Kazuki, hold and ‘rub’ him in a seducing manner. Wah. I also want a girl like that. But since I got no terror magic powers, I guess I can forget about it.
 
Thridly, there’s this Rin Kamishiro, a 1st year student and Kazuki’s junior. Notice the 1-2-3 age thing? Anyway, Rin is that usual character who carries a sword wherever she goes and is the serious and no nonsense kind of character. Yeah, she’s quite strict and fierce. And the reason why she wants Kazuki’s genes is because of her family’s orders. It seems her family is weakened due to the number of family branches throughout the times. So Kazuki’s genes will ensure their family’s dominance once again. And as usual, of course she didn’t like him in the first place, saying she’s only doing it as part of her mission, bla bla bla, and later too, she too has some sort of feelings towards Kazuki. By the way, I noticed that Rin is the only one who doesn’t actually where the school’s uniform but in that samurai kimono. Is there an exception to this? Maybe the headmaster got scared of her when she threatened him with her sword. No lah. I just made that up.
 
Other characters include Dr Akai as mentioned above as the school’s doctor. He’s quite laid-back and enigmatic. He seems to be quite interested in Kazuki’s powers and makes him as some sort of his test subject, indirectly of course, observing his powers through time. The way he say things and does things made me think that he’s got a hidden agenda or an ulterior motive, but in the end I found out he’s a good guy after all and his intentions were good. Just that he just doesn’t give answers or tell things right at your face. Yeah, that silver spoon saying thing. Also, he has several magic eye lenses and one of them can detect the number of times a person can use his/her magic left.
 
Then there’s that child-like ghost, Elizabeth. A ghost from those Roman times, making her appearance in episode 3, she moved into Kazuki’s room and after the Kazetsubaki corporation drove her out (with that ghost repelling paper) and is going to demolish that old mansion where she once lived. But in that mansion she has something valuable to her, her mom’s armour. Of course, Kazuki and Yuuna went to help her retrieve it but was unsuccessful. Later she decides to inhabit Kuriko (in her chest…?!) because she looked so much like her mom. But I felt that Elizabeth’s role in the whole series is insignificant playing just minor roles.
 
A childhood friend and making her appearance in episode 7 is Chihaya Yamase, when Aoi Academy is organizing some school cultural thingy called Aoi Festival. She also harbours some affection for Kazuki but not to the extend that she really wants his genes. Yeah, it could’ve been a foursome, but because she’s aware of Kazuki’s limited usage of magic case, she decides to transfer to another school. She makes her appearance later towards the end of the series (and a permenant one, if I should say) to help Kazuki with his problem. And in that part too, we find out that Chihaya is also the girl that Kazuki made the same promise with when they’re young. What the? Is he two-timing them? Well, not if you take into account the fact that Kazuki’s a nice guy and don’t want to disappoint them and ah… innocent young love.
 
Then there’s that Kazuki’s homeroom teacher, Kaori Iba. She isn’t exactly your role model teacher because she has this obsession of playing video games and even during class! Yeah, it may seem that she’s copying some notes from the book onto the blackboard but actually within that book is some latest video game she bought. I wonder if the class really learned anything from her. Plus, she seems to be sleepy and sleeps when she’s not playing video games. I’m not quite sure she and Dr Akai has some chemistry going on, if you noticed, Dr Akai sometimes asked her to use the ‘special bed’ in the infrimary. Maybe it’s just a joke. But in the end, nothing much happened between them. So I guess it must be joke.
 
Always sweeping outside Kazuki’s dorm is the dorm’s manager Karei Hirosaki. She’s always wearing that black funeral outfit. Is she mourning for somebody? Maybe she likes it. It’s her fashion sense probably. Most of her role is seen as providing advice to Kazuki and watching and protecting him.
 
And of course, Kazuki’s other classmates, the arrogant and show-off, loud-mouth, Yukhiko Nakamaru, and another scheming opportunistic classmate, Kazumi Matsuda. Then there’s those other classmates whose names I can’t and didn’t remember like that chubby fat guy, a spectacle guy and that zombie looking guy who’s always grinning and just nods his head (another of those no speech characters). And if you noticed in the opening sequence whereby there’re lots of those Aoi Academy students and other characters as the screen scrolls by. You may be thinking that wow, there’s gonna be some mayhem with these bunch of characters. But unfortunately, it’s just for show! Yeah, and I don’t recall them playing any memorable roles, or even small side roles. What a bummer. Maybe it’s just to make up for the numbers too.
 
In a nutshell, I can safely divide the entire series into 2 parts. The first half of the series not only introduces those characters and the plot, but as well as how Kazuki uses up his limited magic powers. Yup, he has too. Why? Because he’s such a nice and kind-hearted guy that he doesn’t want to see his pals in trouble, pain or difficulty. Yeah, he’s willing to risk his life and turn into dust just for that.
 
And even though he has limited magic powers, according Dr Akai, the intensity of his powers are of ‘ultra-high class’ so much so that it’s powers are enough to split the entire planet into half. Maybe that’s why they’re so limited. So in order not to follow my usual episode by episode blog, I’ve decided for the next few lines, just to mention how Kazuki uses his magic powers (also I mostly forgot those episodes too, hehe ;p).
 
Magic usage #1
In episode 2, Yuuna’s causing a fuss about that being Kazuki’s wife thingy again and Kazuki seems to ‘ignore’ her about it. And because of that she ran away with that childish temperament of hers. Kazuki managed to track her down and without thinking he uses his power to make it snow on the entire city. Just something like in their early promise. Besides the nice and beautiful scenary, of course Yuuna managed to calm down and felt glad that Kazuki still cares for her but guilty about making him used up 1 of his limited powers. Bad girl. Oh well, I felt that this magic was somewhat a waste. Bad bad Yuuna.
 
Magic usage #2
In episode 3, when Elizabeth blames Kazuki and Yuuna for destroying her precious armour (though it wasn’t their fault), she creates some vortex and sucks Yuuna into it. Moreover, Elizabeth threatened to torture Yuuna ‘cukup-cukup’. So no choice though, Kazuki has to use his magic powers again to save Yuuna, after he heard all that ‘painful screaming’. But he found out that Elizabeth’s just tickling her. Yeah, Yuuna sounded so real. Besides that, because of the intensity of Kazuki’s magic, somehow the boys and girls’ dorm merged! I wonder why the place isn’t distorted in anyway. As if it was like built like that in the first place. Maybe that’s the greatness of Kazuki’s powers as well. Yup, it was a shocking surprise for those occupants. Ah well, at least Yuuna can stay next to Kazuki.
 
Magic usage #3
In episode 4, Nakamura and his fat chubby friend hid a couple of behemoths in school. Something like it’ll fetch them a good investment price. But before they could do anything about it, several days before, they’ve gotten loose and is threatening the safety of the academy. So as Kuriko tries to handle the beasts herself, she asked Kazuki not to use his magic. But seeing Kuriko in such great difficulty and those words from Dr Akai that only he can save her, I guess Kazuki’s pretty tempted to use it. And with that, his super blast caused the 2 behemoths to disintegrate as well as destroyed the surrounding areas of the class room beyond recognition. Well, at least this time, Kazuki didn’t use it for Yuuna, but to save Kuriko. And perhaps too, Kuriko’s starting to have feelings for him. By the way, I happen to find it weird that when during one of the behemoth’s attacks on Kuriko whereby it ripped the front portion of her dress, nearly revealing her breast, I just couldn’t help think that how come her chest area’s ‘unscathed’. I mean, during such heated battle moments, those beasts couldn’t have calculated their blows so precisely that it just ripped her clothes. Are they perverts too? And no… I’m not a pervert either!
 
Magic usage #4
In episode 5, it’s Rin’s turn as she seemed to have a crush on one of her class senior. But the thing is, he’s gonna transfer soon and he doesn’t know of her feelings yet. Kuriko, viewing this as a way to cut down competition over Kazuki decides to help her make lunch for her beloved senpai. As for Kazuki and Yuuna, I guess, they did it out of pity. Since Rin isn’t used to making lunches, of course the outcome’s horrible. And after trying many many times, Rin finally succeeds but unfortunately, she tripped, threatening to destroy all their hard work. Just then, Kazuki used his magic to reverse time and save Rin’s home-made lunch. So now, all of the girls are partly responsible for making Kazuki used his magic. It’s 2 for Yuuna, 1 for Rin and Kuriko each.
 
Magic usage #5
In episode 7, during the Aoi Festival, Kazuki’s childhood friend, Chihaya, asked a favour from him, that is, for both of their classes to team up together to perform a play during that day. Of course, Kazuki’s kind-hearted nature wouldn’t just shrug her off and ignore her request. But it seems the rest of Kazuki’s class has hidden malicious intentions. Yup, they’re planning to intentionally ruin the play so that Chihaya and her class could get all the blame. Those #&^@!!! On the day itself, it seems that their plan is going well when they summoned a monster to ruin it. And as usual, since nobody can defeat that monster, Kazuki has to once again use his magic powers. In the end, surprisingly the play was quite a success. Yeah, those audience thought it was some amazing super special effects and Kazuki’s classmates has to pay for all the damages. Serves them all right. Oh well, looks like Kazuki’s magic usage isn’t just confined to those 3 girls.
 
Magic usage #6A
In episode 9, Kuriko took Kazuki to some hot spring with that believe that if one can hold his/her breath for 2 years, his/her magic limit usage will increase. But that’s awfully a long time isn’t it? And since the rest of the gang didn’t want Kuriko to do something suspicious on Kazuki, they tagged along. So how did Kazuki used up his magic? Well, the owner of the hot spring inn mentioned something about playing some baseball with the team from Hell, literally. If Kazuki and co win, his magic limit will increase. But if they loose, the whole gang will forever in eternity undergo baseball lessons and training in hell. So Kazuki not wanting to see his friends suffer uses his magic for a super fast super speed curve ball. Because it’s too powerful, the surrounding area got destroyed. Fortunately, because there’s no winner, the owner decides to give Kazuki free 1 turn of magic usage. Yup, looks like this time it’s neutralized. Back to the same position as he was before. Why, she should have just given him a few more. So ‘kedekut’. Well, maybe not for partly destroying the hot springs area… and her hair. Hahaha.
 
Magic usage #6B
In episode 11, Yuuna opened some tiny bottle and because of that, emerges an evil Yuuna! According to Dr Akai, it’s some sort of retro-virus which takes the form of the person which it comes into contact with. Only thing it’ll become a total opposite of the other person. And that evil Yuuna is gonna make Kazuki use up all his magic and wants to see him turn into dust. And everybody else in school thinks that this evil Yuuna is the real one. Though they sense something amiss with her character, it wasn’t enough to make them go ‘hey-that-is-an-imposter-Yuuna’. Oh well, if it looks like Yuuna and sounds like Yuuna, then it must be Yuuna… even though the’re some variations but you shouldn’t take into account ‘minor’ details. Haha. Anyway, Kazuki used his magic to blast away the evil Yuuna after she has easily disposed Kumiko and Rin. Yuuna… you must be feeling real bad, aren’t you?
 
Magic usage #7
Based on the events of what happened in the previous episode, in episode 12, Yuuna, who has been infected by the retro-virus has become ill. But the worse thing is, everytime she coughs, her magic usage will decrease by 1. And by the way things are, she’ll be reduced to dust in no time. Yeah, I find it weird that there’s some sort of meter reading next to her bed which indicates how many magic usage she has left. Reminds me of some countdown. Though, Rin and Kuriko would definately not allow Kazuki to use his magic, but since they know he would anyway so they’d allow him, since he has 2 more times, right? And whoooosh. Kazuki used his magic another time to save an ailing Yuuna.
 
Magic usage #8
Well… erm… that last healing process didn’t actually work. In fact, it accelerated Yuuna’s coughing. Time’s really running out and her magic usage is running low. So in the final scene of episode 12, Kazuki used up his final magic power to heal Yuuna. Good news it, it worked. Bad news is, he has turned into dust. Oh the horror! Everybody can’t do anything except to watch in disbelief as Kazuki vanishes into ashes. Mind the pun. Before that he apologized to Yuuna saying how he’s sorry that he can’t keep his promise. Of course lah, at the rate you keep helping people with your magic. But I guess if it’s for a good cause, then I suppose so. So the final analysis is in. Yuuna is accountable for 50% of Kazuki’s magic usage, making him use 4 out of 8 times. Well, you can’t blame Yuuna entirely too. Maybe it was Kazuki’s destiny to become like that.
 
So there you have it. The times and chronicles of how Kazuki used up all his magic and turned into dust. Sad isn’t it. But it isn’t over yet. That’s because we’ve just reached the half way point. And as we find out at the end of episode 12 that Kazuki didn’t completely turn into dust. Instead he becomes a ghost!!! Yes, that’s right. A ghost, just like Elizabeth. Why did he turn into a ghost then? Well, according to Elizabeth something like because one has unfinished business in this world so he/she can’t really go to the next world yet. Just like Elizabeth herself. But it isn’t clear though what’s her unfinished business. As for Kazuki, I’m not pretty sure either, but I’m thinking most probably his unfinished business is to help those 3 girls in need. Okay, maybe I made that up, but don’t you think so. Each time they get into some sort of situation and Kazuki wants help them out. Looks like he’ll be a ghost for a long time to come.
 
So the second half of the series is mainly focused on Kazuki being a ghost and how he adjusts his life to being one. Yeah, a lot of indecisiveness and spacing out from him, a lot of thinking and dilemma of whether or not he should continue staying as a ghost because his current situation is causing those around him having a little hard time (at least that’s what he thinks). Like it’s quite hard to hold solid objects and stuffs as he will just go through them. Tough at first. But with some focus and concentration, I guess he’ll get by. Plus, since he’s a ghost now, all of the other girl classmates of his seems less interested now because you can’t ‘do it’ with a ghost. Yeah, it would be ominous if you were to have one ith a ghost, right?
 
Before I go further on the second half of the series, I’d like to mention one episode in the first half, which is episode 6. In this non-magic-using-episode-from-Kazuki, he receives a phone call from his parents that they’re coming over for a visit. So the 3 girls thinking that Kazuki’s parents will accept her as Kazuki’s bride if they put up a good impression. While Kuriko employed the best chef to cook up to best eel meal (nice rhyme), Kazuki helped Yuuna to prepare one too. Well, that latter scene looked like some… er… porn… ahem ahem. If you know what I mean. But the funniest one was Rin. Yeah, she tried to put up a smiling face. It was very tough because she’s not used to smiling and her face is damn stiff. After all that hard work she manages to do so. But in the end, when the girls found out Kazuki’s parents had cancelled their visit, they felt that their efforts were being wasted. And the most hilarious part is that Rin couldn’t stop smiling! As if her face has frozed in that position. So funnily scary. And she’s gonna get back at Kazuki for making her go through all that… and she’s still smiling. Hahaha!
 
Other non-magic-using-episodes-from-Kazuki include episode 8 where Kazuki wanted to use his magic to stop his male classmates from taking it out on some little kid, whom they’ve accused of stealing some pendant from them. But Kazuki fainted before he could use it. And in episode 10 where they’re supposed to heal a dying tree in which before the person who used up all her magic and turned into dust, she put her memories in that tree. But before Kazuki can use his magic to save it, Rin hit him as the 3 girls combined their powers to save it. Phew.
 
Okay, also in the second half, we’re introduced to another new character, Shino Akai. I didn’t want to blog her character earlier on as I felt it would ‘spoil’ the flow of my blog :). Making her appearance in episode 13, she’s some sort of a ghost collector. Yup, another one of those weird hobbies. And because Kazuki’s a ghost, no doubt she’s quite interested in making him part of her collection. And since Kazuki’s in that dilemma, he’s still uncertain to become part of her collection or not as he doesn’t want to become a burden to his friends. Plus, Shino’s smooth talking most probably added to the fact that made Kazuki want to become part of her collection. But the other girls managed to rescue Kazuki in time before he becomes part of her collection forever.
 
But she’s not giving up that easily yet because she’s still up to it in episode 14, this time implicating Kazuki’s girls. Well, I supposed it’s safe to say that they’re part of his harem now. Shino’s got Yuuna, Kuriko and Elizabeth in some sort of a trap whereby if Kazuki doesn’t choose to become part of her collection they’ll slide down into some liquid and die. This is the strange part. Elizabeth, who’s a ghost, couldn’t she fly away from it all? I mean the way she got trapped on that slide as though as if she’s still human. Besides, she can pass through solid objects, right? And why Shino want Elizabeth as part of her collection? Really really really illogical and weird. Luckily Rin and Dr Akai managed to arrive in time before Kazuki gives himself up to Shino.
 
Also, it is revealed too that Shino is actually Dr Akai’s younger sister. Another weirdo. To make things worse, she comes and work at Aoi Academy. She seems scheming, though I’m not sure whether her intentions are good or not, or maybe she’s bored and wants to cause some havoc. At the end of the series, it’s also revealed that she, along with Dr Akai and Karei are somewhat in the same situation as Yuuna, Kuriko and Rin in the past. I didn’t really get this part. Really. With all the explanations, it was like it went in through one of ears, and went out through the other, like some highway tunnel. Dunno also, isn’t that man that Shino and Karei once loved looked a bit like Kazuki? So is he a descendant or reincarnation? Really dunno. Still scratching my head. But I’ll just leave it there.
 
Before the climax of the series, we’ll watch a few light-hearted and probably just-for-fun episodes. Like in episode 15 where Rin has to square off with her elder brother as her family thought that she’d failed in her mission and gotten weak. But her bro realized that she had gotten stronger before he drew his final breath. Sad. In episode 16, Kuriko seems to be dating with some suspicious guy and the gang are all worried about her. So they become busybody and follow and observed them both. And to their horror, the gang found out that the guy’s actually after Kuriko’s family’s inheritance. In the end, Kuriko’s actually helping the police to catch this conmen.
 
One of my favourite light-hearted episode is episode 17 whereby Dr Akai reveals that the actual and true holder of those terror-merror decendants of magicians and wizards is actually Nakamaru! Even Rin’s spy network and Kuriko’s intelligence body seems to confirm it. And with the turn of such events, what do you think Nakamaru would do? Of course, he’s gonna play king or even God. So Nakamaru’s in, Kazuki’s out. How typical. What a change in attitude. Yeah, he made all his classmates become his slave and made them do what he wishes. And they all seem to tolerate all this embarrassment because they’re thinking that they’ll get his genes when he’s off guard. Of course, in the end, it’s just some slight mistake and trick played by Dr Akai, though I don’t remember why he did it in the first place. Was it to see the other’s reaction. If so, then he’s really got lots of interesting data and feedback, right? So back to square one.
 
It’s Rin turn again in episode 18. She and a rival family house locked horns together. This time it’s with Sayumi Morisaka, who unlike Rin, is a master in hand-to-hand combat rather than swords. The thing is, their battle has turned into somewhat like a grand event. Yeah, they’re gonna duke it out in some stadium and there’ll be lots of people watching them, with Kuriko as the announcer! Plus, Nakamaru and Kazumi are taking bets on the fight. Then because the fight seems to be going nowhere, dunno how, it has become into a foot race to determine the winner. What the? To add to all that silliness, suddenly a group of Shinto monks who’s always saying "Break the curse" and hitting their head with a paper fan, made a three horse race. And in the end, the monks won through a photo finish shot and caused all the surrounding shops area to be destroyed. And well, Nakamaru and Kazumi lost their bet and have to repay everything, including some commission. Haha, serves them right.
 
And by the end of that episode, we see Chihaya returning and was gonna hug Kazuki. But suddenly all the 3 girls including Chihaya felt uneasy like as though they’re in pain, their bodies feeling very hot (no, not that sexy hot, but burning pain hot) and then they all somehow are being drawn, pulled and stuck to Kazuki as though as he’s some babe magnet, literally. I thought it was some joke and scheme by the girls to get close to Kazuki, but over the few episodes I found out it wasn’t so, and this is indeed a problem! Something’s actually wrong. I suppose that’ll be the main climax and turning point of the series.
 
So in episode 19, besides the class trip to Kyoto and some more of those comical moments, Shino’s at it again wanting to make Kazuki part of her collection. Will this lady ever give up? So as the 4 girls try to fight of Shino, the main thing we find out is that there’s a way to turn Kazuki back to human again. And that is to return all his ashes to him. And from this point, the ashes are scattered among those 4 girls. Yeah, those girls felt that hotness gain during the battle. Kazuki’s a few seconds from becoming part of Shino’s collection when Yuuna and Chihaya dived in to grab and save him and in a way they ‘returned’ his ashes. I felt that this part was a little far-fetched. Then one thing I’d like to note, is that, how did Kazuki’s ashes ended up on Chihaya. I mean, she wasn’t there when he turned into a ghost in episode 12, right? So how? Well, humans do shed their dead skin every day. But we’re talking about ashes. So how ah? Another illogical part which I felt was just for convenience.
 
And as a prelude to the final part, we have that episode 20 recap. I wonder why producers like to make episode recaps. Maybe it’s because to make the series a little longer. Or perhaps we’ve watched the series for so long already and they’re afraid that you might’ve forgotten something and decided to refresh our memories once again. And also in this episode, the girls need to think of a way to return all of Kazuki ashes so that he can become human once again.
 
Kuriko starts it off in episode 21. She organized some Cinderella-like ball party. I’m not sure and don’t see how Kuriko’s breakdown can return Kazuki’s ashes. Yeah, that’s what she did as her last attempt to return his ashes, saying how she’ll leave the country and him if she fails to do so, bla bla bla. It’s quite a rare to see this strong lady in such a vulnerable state. And it’s epsiode 22, it’s Rin’s turn. But this time, she found out from Dr Akai that returning all of Kazuki’s ashes may bear an undesirable consequence, that is, he’ll lose all his memories. So Rin was reluctant at first, but eventually, she opened up her heart and smiled, just like what Kazuki wanted and thus returned his ashes. And in both episodes too, we see how jealous Yuuna gets at the end because Kazuki has his moment of intimacy with them. Well, it wasn’t that serious though but I guess if you were to left things as it is, things may develop from there. But by the end of episode 22, Kazuki’s shaking uncontrollably and collapses. Oh dear, looks like that side effect is coming into effect.
 
And in episode 23 while Kazuki’s lying and writhing in bed in pain, the girls along with Dr Akai, Shino and Karei are contemplating whether to return Kazuki’s ashes or not. Yeah, there’s lots of dilemma here but eventually, it’s got to be Yuuna and Chihaya as the 2 hold the balance of Kazuki’s ashes. But those 2 seem to have different point of view. Yuuna wants to return the ashes and she doesn’t mind if Kazuki loses all his memories but at least it will save him and they can start anew. On the other hand, Chihaya is very reluctant to do so because there would be no point and meaning if Kazuki doesn’t remember her or the things up till now, thus she’s okay even if Kazuki’s a ghost. So the 2 are somewhat like loggerheads. Then I also felt that in a way those 2 are somewhat selfish. Chihaya, of course her reasons were obvious. But as for Yuuna, she’s persuading her to return his ashes and saying stuffs like ‘Kazuki will always be Kazuki’ kinda stuff. And if you look at it in a way, doesn’t Yuuna do all this so she can have Kazuki as his bride? I mean she’s being kind to Chihaya so that he can have Kazuki all to herself, right? And after Dr Akai took the girls on some journey inside Kazuki’s memories, they have to hurry because his condition is becoming really unstable. Plus, there’s only 1 episode left. Hehehe.
 
So in the final episode 24, while Yuuna, Kuriko and Rin tries to convince Chihaya to return Kazuki’s remaining ashes, Kazuki’s really in pain and is going to lose it all. Shino can’t wait any longer for the girls to return and wants to remove ashes that Kazuki has. Maybe she’s still interested in that ghost collection thing. But Dr Akai asked her not to do so and just wait a little longer. So in order to buy the girls time, Dr Akai used one of his lenses, along with Karei and Shino to sooth Kazuki. Yeah, some sort of ‘pain killer’ I guess. Anyway, the girls managed to convince Chihaya as they rushed back to where Kazuki is. So some flashback from the past of Dr Akai, Shino and Karei, and also the times when Kazuki made that promise with Yuuna and Chihaya when they’re young. Not that I really comprehend anything, though. And finally the both of them manage to return all his ashes just in time, by flanking him and kissing his cheeks. Aww… With everyone smiling with relief when Kazuki’s body returns to normal and he opened his eyes.
 
In the final scenes, we see the true face of jealousy of Yuuna. Yeah, Kazuki’s in a pinch. Everytime she catches Kazuki talking with a girl, she gets really mad and blasts him away. Even if it’s Karei. This girl ah. Plus, I wonder why she takes it out on Kazuki rather than the girls, even if it seems that Kazuki’s at fault, which actually isn’t. So irrational. I’m really starting to hate this girl. And just like Elizabeth said, she’s got this ‘Kazuki radar’, which is a strand of hair on her head. Yeah, something like able to track his whereabouts anytime, anyday, anywhere. Be careful Kazuki, now you know what kind of girl she is.
 
Then this is the final crap. As a result of the side effect of returning all his ashes, the process has split Kazuki himself into several clones!!! Yes, that’s right! Clones! Like around 10 of them. I didn’t even understand Dr Akai’s explanation at the end. Something to do with Kazuki’s big difference in his magic power. Something like when he used up all his magic that time, the part of him that became a ghost and the part of him that wanted to become a human again, all his memories remained in those forms. And the different hims cared about everyone else and didn’t anyone to fight over him. I don’t know what that sentence means. I just plucked straight out from Dr Akai’s mouth. In fact I’m still going over it several times and I still don’t get it.
 
This part I also don’t get. Now that there’re several Kazuki’s, everybody should be happy. But all his lady classmates seemed depressed and not too happy about it. Saying something like when there was only 1, there was a chance to win. What the? I thought it’ll be easier now. I guess they like it when he’s hard to get, huh? Or are they thinking that they need to catch all of them because his super genes are now split into 10 of them. Yeah, they didn’t pretty do much either to win over him during the series. Are they desperate in the first place? Another ‘twist’ which I find rather far-fetched too.
 
Of course Yuuna wants Kazuki to go back being 1 person as it would be too troublesome for a wife to handle all of them. So Kuriko proposed that she’ll take care 5-6 of them and she’ll give one each to Rin and Chihaya. And you know what. Yuuna disagrees. She’s really that selfish, huh? Wanting all the Kazukis to be hers. Finally some new transfer student, Maiho after hearing Dr Akai’s explanation about that caring person Kazuki is, she asked him to be his wife. And you know what too. Yuuna now gets really mad after hearing that and repeatedly blasts Kazuki. Now I really really really hate this girl. Poor Kazuki. I hope Kazuki will teach her a lesson by dumping her and go out with Rin or Kuriko. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen because Kazuki’s a nice guy. Anyway, since Kazuki’s human now, can he still perform magic? If so, is his limit up or back to the usual 8? And if anyone runs out of magic, can he/she do what Kazuki did and take advantage of this run-out-of-magic loophole? Ah… questions which will never be answered in my case.
 
Overall, it’s not that I dislike this anime so much. But because of certain illogical stuffs just for the convenience of the storyline, it made it less enjoyable. But overall I still enjoy this series and find it entertaining as well. Besides, isn’t it there’s some magical setting here. So I suppose it’s quite okay then to have some of those weird stuffs.
 
Speaking of weird stuffs, I also find the scene changing element weird. Yeah, they used some sort of jelly-bean creatures. And the scene changes when the whole group of them crosses the screen. I know it’s really nothing, but I just find it weird. Also some of the mid-intermissions of Kazuki and the 3 girls have a little ecchi element in it. Like one part they show a picture of Kuriko and there’s some weird looking liquid on it (if you know what I mean) but the next picture clarrifies it all as we see it’s actually just sand. Yeah, sand. Besides, the mid-intermissions seem to be a beach-themed one, with the girls and Kazuki in their swimsuits.
 
The character developments are rather quite okay. Mainly it’s just to help in the flow of the storyline. Other small details pertaining to other characters are like a ‘one-off’ thing. That is, not like they have any significant impact on the overall series. Especially the past of Dr Akai, Shino and Karei. I still didn’t really get it. Some people say it could be the next big thing and may be the main backbone if there’s to be a second season of this series. Not likely. With the way things ended. Perhaps it’ll be better that way.
 
Drawing, art and animation as well as the voice acting are okay too. Nothing much to shout about. Just like many other animes, it meets the typical threshold and expectation of how an anime should look like. Also, even though the titles of each episode end with ‘~chatta’ (meaning: past tense of something that has totally or completely ~), but I felt it was too short an incomplete and doesn’t provide much info or detail for that episode. Meaning, it doesn’t help me when I’m trying to recall what happened in that episode or what that episode’s all about as it’s quite vague. I also find the opening theme sung by Ichiko, Koi No Mahou, a little funny too. It’s the way she sing and sound. I don’t really know how to describe it, so it’s best if you could listen to it to know what I mean. But it’s not a bad song either.
 
So if you’re looking for some silliness and laughs for entertainment, I guess this anime isn’t that bad after all, if you don’t mind those inconsistencies, irregularities and illogical stuffs. Just watch and don’t think too much. Also, you could learn a thing or two about Yuuna’s jealousy. So guys out there with girlfriends like her, you know what to do and expect. Hmm… maybe if Kazuki still had some magic left, perhaps he could use them to change Yuuna’s jealousy. A flirtatious and lenient Yuuna? Okay, maybe the former’s better.

Love Love

December 22, 2006

What else can I say about the anime Love Love. It’s another one of those hentai animes. Yes, I do consider this to be a hentai anime. That’s because, even though this series has 13 episodes worth 15 minutes of airtime, suddenly by episode 3, you get to see the girls being bare chested. And I thought it was gonna be just a little ecchi when I first watched it. Even so, maybe I thought the innocent kind. But by that episode, it was like a full blown explosion, sending shockwaves through my nerves and spine.
 
But I had to sit and watch finish the whole series because of this one tiny insignificant reason, because it’s short. *Smack*. Yeah, I guess if those anime producers want to attract my attention and make me watch one of their shows, they have to make it short so that I can finish watching it in no time. Maybe I should try to change this habit of mine, or else I won’t be able to watch quality animes, huh?
 
So as usual, this is also another one of those typical harem comedies where there is one main guy and several girls around him. Isn’t it typical. We’ve got this 17 year old guy named Naoto Oizumi who against his parents wish, enrolled in some sort of an art school. But like he mentioned, instead of studying for exams, he’d rather be working in live action movie filming sets. Only thing is, his application’s always rejected.
 
Not until he stumbles across an advertisement in some magazine which is searching for a super heroine actress for a new age role. That’s right, he finally lands a job as a camera man and the person who will document and record the ‘growth’ of this super heroine for an upcoming tv show called The Cosmopolitan Prayers (reminds me of a magical girl version of Power Rangers). But that’s just on the surface. In reality, he’s actually the script writer for that tv show and this must be kept a secret at all times. And this secret is only known to him and the series producer, Mitsuki Ikuta.
 
And you might have guessed it too that these 5 super heroines are going to be part of Oizumi’s harem. These still school going girls are Natsumi Yagami, Youko Katsuragi, Hikaru Jougasaki, Sayaka Imamura and Miku Hayasaka. They are to undergo some serious training because the tv series isn’t gonna use any stunt doubles so that all the stunts and action sequences will be very real.
 
So a really brief description of those 5 girls first. Don’t wanna blab for 100 lines and so detailed about them just because I have a minimum-number-of-words-for-a-blog-quota. Besides, it’s not like that there’re anything that significant, right? Maybe. Okay firstly, Natsumi is that soft-spoken girl but can be quite a stubborn person at times. Youko, the ‘curviest’ one among the 5, is the shy and quite type. Hikaru‘s another one of those polite girl but later on you’ll find out that she’s actually a tomboy because of her upbringing whereby she grew up as the only girl alongside with her several brothers. Then there’s that teaser Sayaka, who’s unashamed and loves teasing Oizumi whenever she gets the chance. Also same age as Hikaru (14 years old), she has that uncanny ability to imitate voices of other people. Finally, the youngest of the lot, Miku who still has that child’s mentality and acts like one. Nothing wrong isn’t it?
 
Back to the storyline. Love scenario 1. From the first few scenes, you’d probably guess that Oizumi is another one of those perverted minded guys. Yeah, he seems to enjoy it when he sees those girls’ undies or body parts and sometimes has that ‘fantasizing’ moments of his. But he’s not that extreme as compared to Bacchi Guu of Green Green as Oizumi’s is a little more reserved compared to that specky fatty (hahaha). But a pervert no matter how big or small is still a pervert. And no… I’m not a pervert!!!
 
While working on the set, Oizumi seems to have a crush on one of the actresses, Natsumi in particular. Yeah, so the usual, he wants to get close to her, be with her, blushes and has that increased in heart beat when he’s near her, that kind of thing. Good thing is, his love is returned too when Natsumi too expressed her feelings to him.
 
Love scenario 2. In short, all the other 4 girls also love him. Is it a coincidence? I mean, these 4 girls and even Natsumi transferred into the same school as Oizumi’s, as he found out on orientation day. And the thing is, he got into embarrassing and perverted situations when he bumped into them. Actually, rather the girls bumped into him. Like how Oizumi got first hand view of the girl’s slip and how he accidentily tripped and his hand touched the girl’s breasts. Things like that. They even confess how they want to be with him. All that on the first day of school. And there’s still more to come.
 
Therefore, for the first half is something like this. All the girls are trying to vie for his affection and in a way Oizumi gets into an embarrassing and perverted situation, whether they’re at the filming studio or at some hot spring inn. Though sometimes he seems to enjoy it but with Natsumi on his mind, I guess he probably backs down and says it’s a misunderstanding. This guy must be thinking that he’s the most luckiest guy in the world to have experienced such ‘paradise’. A lot of nakedness and nudity here. Since I’m not gonna blog this episode by episode, I’m gonna make things real short. Yup, those girls have an ulterior motive.
 
The reason why they want to get close to Oizumi is because they know that he’s the secret scriptwriter for the tv show. How did they know since it was supposed to be a secret? Well, Sayaka overheard and eavesdropped that conversation between Oizumi and Mitsuki and she told the other girls.
 
And because Oizumi’s the scriptwriter, which means that, if Oizumi likes that particular girl, naturally he would be in favour of them and may give a more important and prominent role to that girl, at least that’s what they think. So now you know why, huh? And all in the name of career. But wait. Don’t jump to conclusions yet. Unfortunately, that’s what Oizumi did.
 
Because somewhere in episode 7, when one of the girls, Hikaru is making that move on Oizumi, Oizumi overheard all this. Actually it was Sayaka impersonating some other girls voice. So what do you think Oizumi felt when his pure, ture and innocent feelings (yeah, right) are being toyed around just for that. Of course he gets mad. Really really mad. Thus, he wants to get back at them.
 
So in episode 8, we see how Oizumi exacts his revenge on all the girls, even poor Mitsuki for betraying his feelings. And he looked like an evil sadist. I was kinda torn between whether I should feel pity for the girls or I should laugh and say that they deserved it. But I shouldn’t jump to conclusions yet. But this episode felt some sort of ‘exaggerated in a fantasy-like way’. Uh-huh, Oizumi’s become that evil person donning that usual evil monster boss as you always see in shows like Ultraman and even Power Rangers as he plans and schemes on how to make the girls’ life miserable. However, in the end, it’s just revealed that it was all Oizumi’s dream. Yeah, luckily it’s just a dream. That explains the exagerrated-ness. But he’s still contemplating on his revenge.
 
Anyway, at least the revenge he exact in episode 9 is more down to earth. But Mitsuki noticed something wrong and asked if Oizumi’s ‘letting off some steam’. Though a bit surprised at first, Oizumi’s determined to go through with it and has the ‘we’ll-see-what-happens-then-lah’ kinda attitude. But by the end of this episode, Sayaka told him the truth that it was her doing all along and that he shouldn’t become cruel and torture the others. And this made Oizumi realized what he has done. And also he later finds out that the feelings of the girls were sincere too in a way as time goes by. It wasn’t really about the roles and the parts anymore, as Oizumi heard from them how they’re doing and giving their best too. I guess he must’ve regretted it.
 
But things take a toll for the worst in episode 11. It’s pretty much grim too. Why is that? Yeah, now there’s some sort of scandal hitting one of the Cosmopolitan Prayer’s actress, and it’s on the front page of some newspaper. Who is it? Why, it’s Natsumi and Oizumi entering into some hotel. Yeah, in the previous episode those 2 actually went there, though I don’t really remember whether Oizumi’s intention was part of his revenge or not. But Natsumi’s intention was really true, since she really loved him and it wasn’t just for those acting parts.
 
This could have a big negative impact on the whole production crew and everything’s really at stake here. What would people think if these 2 young people had an affair and considering their positions in the crew, many would think that it’s for some favour. Thus, Oizumi’s been dropped from the camera man job and the production put on hold for a little while. Unfortunately, soon after the production is cancelled, much to their horror. And the final scenes are to be shoot using computer graphics. Wah… that bad ah.
 
It was a really depressing sight to see the gloominess hanging around Oizumi’s head. Yeah, maybe no doubt it’s partly his fault, but I see him so ‘cham’ like that lah. But before this episode ends, we see a turn a round of events like how the production crew people decides to give him one final chance for the final shooting. Yeah, and I think that production boss, Kurume, too seemed to have given him another chance when he told Oizumi of it, as he and those girls were having some kind of gathering at some cafe. And everyone’s happy and to their delight, they’re gonna continue to do their best.
 
Actually, the production’s really being stopped. And what Oizumi and Natsumi’s gonna do to help revive the live performance of the production is by sending out emails to everybody (can I consider this as spamming?) asking them that if they really do want to see the tv series being resumed, they should come out and support them by turning up at some stage at some place in a week’s time. Wait a minute. Is it emails that Oizumi’s sending out or is it just some general notice he put up on some hompage? Dunno. But since I saw all the production crew reading it as though it was from their Microsoft Outlook, that’s what I thought. Then sending to everybody in the whole wide world to come for this cause is gonna take some time, even if it’s a chain mail. So I suppose it has to be the latter.
 
The fateful day comes and it’s pouring like cats and dogs. A gloomy atmosphere cast around Oizumi and Natsumi as the 2 waited patiently in the rain for people to show up. Unfortunately, as time passes, it’s still the 2 of them. Natsumi then had a break down and cried. Oizumi tried to cheer and comfort her and asked her to just sing for him even though he’s the only one there.
 
Just then, the rest of the girls along with Mitsuki arrived. And with Mitsuki as the camera woman, she’s gonna broadcast live the performance of the girls to everyone’s home. And as they sing, their voices drown out the deafening sounds of the rain. Later, because of this, the people who saw this felt sympathized and came out on their own to support for the production to be resumed. In the end, the final scene managed to be re-shot again. And the next day when it’s all sunny again, the girls were receiving their bouquets as signs of appreciation for their efforts, this exaggerated one final slip from Oizumi which ripped Natsumi’s entire costume and left her naked in front of everybody!!! Can’t believe that costume is so easily ripped! And of course in her embarrassement, she kicks Oizumi. And like Oizumi mentioned, his happy ending still eludes him. Isn’t that perverted ending happy enough for you? Maybe not what he meant.
 
So in the final episode 13 is more like some congratulatory event organized as a celebration for the resumption of the tv series. Nothing much in this episode except how the girls give their usual thank-you-for-everything speech coupled in with some I’ll-continue-to-do-my-best lines.
 
Other few things that we find out that the twins in the Cosmopolitan Prayers tv series are not actually twins. Yup, they come from very different family backgrounds but they look so alike. Why didn’t I mentioned them before? That’s because, they’re not part of Oizumi’s harem and it wasn’t worth mentioning their small part in this series, since those kiddies didn’t have any real impact in the show. Too bad I left them out. Haha.
 
Another thing is, we find out also that Miku’s boyfriend is no other than… Ken-chan AKA Kurume. SHOCK!!!! Yeah, everybody’s in a shock that such a guy could have such a young innocent girl as his girlfriend. Well, like they say, age is no barrier to love. But I wonder if Miku actually realized the implications or is she just having that big brother complex? Dunno. But she seemed so happy about it. But like Oizumi said, even though if Dracula sucked the young girl’s blood dry, that would still be a crime?. Hahaha. Yeah, maybe. He does closely look like one, though.
 
Finally, we hear that Natsumi is going to try a little different line of show, that is, she’s already auditioning for parts in some musical show. But good thing is, at least the feelings between Oizumi and Natsumi are real and that they feel that they’re important to each other. Well, I’m sure Youko and the other girls wanted a piece of Oizumi too (like still asking for more important parts) but looks like Natsumi’s pretty protective of him as she pushed away the rest and grabbed him. Ah-ha… Do I see some jealousy here? End of story.
 
Overall, I’d say this whole thing is just okay and probably below that okay level. Mostly, the nudity part had me disgusted in several ways and I wasn’t too keen on that. Not that their body ‘very nice’ at all. Besides that, there’s too much of those panty-showing from the girls so much so it made me think that those girls are ‘cheap’ in a way. Also the girls here have that ‘one kind’ look and not to say they’re that cute either. By the way, if you’d like to know, those 5 girls also sang the opening theme of the series. Everything else here too seems okay from the voice acting to the drawing, animation and art. Nothing that spectacular.
 
Though the first half of the series takes a more light-hearted and comical approach, nevertheless, as the story develops, it took a much serious and grimmer tone later. Though, in the end it all ends well. So I could say for such a short series, the developments of the characters were pretty sufficient, especially Oizumi and Natsumi’s. But that isn’t really much to shout about either.
 
Well, this anime series doesn’t actually end here. There’re 2 spin-off related animes. Yup, one of them is The Cosmopolitan Prayers. And this series is actually a prequel to Love Love. So if you want to know what’s the storyline of this Cosmopolitan Prayers is like, then you should watch this. Something like those good versus evil in a fantasy-like world. And prior to Love Love too, even Mitsuki has her own prequel! Yup, it’s called Hit Wo Nerae AKA Smash Hit. Something like it focuses on her working and personal life in the movie production line. Since I wasn’t interested and wasn’t that impressed with Love Love anime, I didn’t have the interest to watch them both.
 
So if you would like to add this short-lived series to your anime watch list, I suppose by all means go ahead. Or else I’m sure there are much better harem animes and hentai ones out there ;). Though, nothing that memorable in the long run with a few occasional laughs here and there. And that’s it.

Love Hina

December 16, 2006

I can’t seem to put my finger on it. Somehow when I watch Love Hina, it never ceases to remind me of Ai Yori Aoshi. Maybe it’s because of the harem thing. Other than that, most of everything else is quite contrasting. From the characters down to the storyline to the love triangle. Hmm… Must be the harem thing.
 
But this series is a much earlier production compared to Ai Yori Aoshi, aired somewhere in year 2000. However, the adventures of this comedy romance genre are more exaggerated, if I should say. It isn’t totally that down to earth but at the same time it isn’t so nonsensical like Excel Saga that everything seems outrages and out-of-this-world. So I kinda guess that this show is somewhat in between that 2 other anime series mentioned.
 
Besides the usual 24 episode tv series with the usual half an hour length, Love Hina also has several OVAs and a couple of those almost and hour-long specials. Maybe in a way this partly reminds me of Ai Yori Aoshi too. Whereby the OVAs and specials seemed more like the series’ ‘extensions’, offering nothing really new. Except for Love Hina Again, the rest felt like ‘it isn’t complete if you don’t watch it, but it’s okay too if you didn’t’.
 
Basically, this is what the story is about. In episode 1, we’re introduced to this 20 year old guy named Keitaro Urashima, who’s parents are really fed-up with him for failing to gain entry into the prestigious Tokyo University. Not once, but TWICE!!! Why wouldn’t they? After all, they’ve spend so much money and time on their only child and they didn’t get the results they wanted. And to ease their financial burden, they ‘forced’ Keitaro to work in order to help pay their living expenses. Tough luck. But I guess he’s gotta start learning these kinda things and that life isn’t a bed of roses.
 
Why is Keitaro so bent on entering Tokyo University, or Toudai in short? That’s because 15 years ago he made a promise to some girl of his age at that time, that they’ll both enter Toudai and find happiness there together. Ah, such bliss and innocent love. Unfortunately, that girl had to follow her parents and move away. But the thing is, Keitaro forgot to ask her name. And he doesn’t remember her face well either. Duh! *Smack*Smack*Triple Smack*. My guess is that this guy is somewhat of a klutz/idiot when he’s small and he looks like he never changed too when he grows up, although he really does try his best. And so for 15 years, he never knew that girl’s name. And probably he’s hoping that that girl would one day pop up right in front of his face and say, "Hey, I’m that girl, you know. Now we can go to Toudai together". Like that will happen.
 
However, Keitaro receives a phone call from his grandma who runs an all-girls dormitory named Hinata Inn, which is a really really really large inn. Yeah, it even has an outside hot spring. She’s asking him to come to Hinata Inn for an ‘urgent matter’. Well, no choice, though. Since his parents are gonna kick him out of the house anyway. And since he’s got no where else to go, I suppose this might as well do. How nostalgic it is when he arrives. Yup, this is also the place where he made that promise 15 years ago, and he barely remembers the place.
 
Unfortunately, before he can settle things down, his grandma has already made him the manager of Hinata Inn, much to his shock and horror. That’s because his grandma wants to go travel round the world and sees things. That’s the ‘urgent matter’? Well, since she’s quite old and has not much time life, I guess, it’s quite urgent. Haha. Just kidding. Plus, since this is an all-girls dormitory, how would the all-girls occupants feel if a guy is being placed as a manager to run the inn? Not very appropriate, isn’t it? So the usual protest and ‘I-can’t-accept-a-guy-as-our-manager’ kinda feeling. Well, most of them would felt that way at first, but eventually throughout the series would learn to tolerate and accept him as one. Though, I’m not sure the rationale why Keitaro’s grandma would choose him to run the inn, but according to her, if the inn doesn’t have a manager, it will be closed down. So no choice. Those girls would have to live and put up with him.
 
So let’s briefly go through the colourful occupants of Hinata Inn. Firstly, we have Naru Narusegawa. Nope, that’s not a typo error. From first looks, you’ll probably guess that she and Keitaro has that ‘uneasy’ kinda love. Meaning that, from the outside, it looks like they hate each other and won’t get along. But as the series progresses, you’ll find that the ‘passionate hate’ (if that’s what you call it) will turn into a full bloom love for them. But before that happens, Naru has a fiery temper, thus don’t go round messing with this girl. You’ll be at the receiving end when she gets violent. And Keitaro found that out the hard way. Did he really learn? I mean, getting punched and kicked by her, flying away in high-speed exagerration and screaming passed the clouds in nearly every episode (maybe all of them). Yeah, that’s become the trademark of the series too. Due to some misunderstanding, whether it’s Keitaro’s fault or not (being perverted or just plain jealousy), he’ll get ‘blown’ away with their ‘super punch’, mostly from Naru. Poor thing.
 
And just like Keitaro, Naru has also failed to gain entry into Toudai twice. At first, you might think that there’s some connection between her and that girl Keitaro made the promise with 15 years ago, because of some subtle and potential hints here and there in the series. Even Keitaro has thoughts of her that instead of growing up to be a smart and pretty lady (just like himself, instead of growing up to be a smart handsome guy), maybe that girl has grown up into something less perfect, and it may all be under Keitaro’s nose. Well, it still isn’t clear at the end, though.
 
Another occupant of Hinata Inn is Konno Mitsune AKA Kitsune. Just like her nickname, meaning fox in Japanese, Kitsune can be quite crafty and cunning. Though, generally she’s quite a nice and polite girl, she can really scheme and con people when she puts her mind into it. Besides that, she loves to drink sake (and getting drunk after that!) and gamble. One of those ‘money-crazy’ characters but not too extreme as she usually squanders it all in the end. As the series progresses, she tries to come up with schemes to make Naru and Keitaro be together. And hey, can she really see with those eyes closed all the time? Maybe it’s her character. It’ll be a strange sight when she does open them because I’m so strangely used to see her eyes like that most of the time.
 
A new tenant for Hinata Inn is the shy, innocent and reserved 13 year old Shinobu Maehara. She makes her appearance in episode 2. Coming from a troubled home as her parents are getting a divorced, furthermore with no friends at school, she ‘meets’ Keitaro when the latter inadvertently sketch a picture of her in a forlorn mood. But Keitaro got embarrassed and left his sketchbook when she saw what he’s doing. Because she’s too shy, she has problems returning the sketchbook to him. But eventually she manages to pluck up her courage and do so. Plus, she manages to convince her parents who’re moving away, to let her stay at Hinata Inn. She looks up to Keitaro as her senpai and has a secretly huge crush on him. And she blushes innocently whenever she hears lovey-dovey things or spaces out when she finds out about love related or linked circumstances towarts Keitaro. This girl… so innocent. Reminds me of Aoi from Ai Yori Aoshi. And just like her, she does the laundry and cooking at Hinata Inn.
 
Making her real appearance in episode 3 is Motoko Aoyama. She’s your typical no nonsense, serious and formal kinda girl. And yes, why do most animes must have that demon slaying, katana wielding girl? Is it a must? And her sword skills are so terror that dunno with some super multi-syllable technique can cause rocks to split, trees into half, things flying away, among others. But that’s what Motoko is. And she’s not very fond of Keitaro at first and could not accept him as the inn’s manager. Well, that is, when he sees her half naked. And she’d doesn’t hesitate to take out her rage at him for such pervertness (even though it’s by accident and not intentional). As usual, she slowly comes to accept Keitaro as the manager. Oh, by the way, Motoko is actually afraid of turtles. Yes, turtles! Some sort of a phobia which makes her go into a frenzy and weak. Weird.
 
Another weird inhabitant of Hinata Inn is a foreign transfer student by the name of Kaolla Su. She hails from a fictionous kingdom called Molmol. The same age as Shinobu, Kaolla’s character is totally opposite of hers. Yup, she’s hyperactive, over-genki, very playful and most of the time wants to eat. Yeah, because she’s naive too, whenever she hear some terms or jargons that she doesn’t know, she’ll reply something like ‘is it good to eat’ or ‘does it taste delicious’. Haha, looks like she really thinks about food. Plus, her room’s a jungle. Yes, a jungle! Be careful, you might get lost in it. And oddly enough too, she’s some sort of a mechanical genius, creating lots of mechas and inventions which sometimes go out of control causing havoc for the rests. Reminds me of Chika of Ai Yori Aoshi, but an extreme version. Oh, there’s another thing weird about her is that during red moon phenomenas, she’ll turn into a more serious adult version of herself. I really don’t get this part even though she explained it.
 
Keitaro’s not gonna run the inn all by himself, is he? Luckily, he’s got his stoic cigarette smoking (if not she’s always bitting some stick) aunt Haruka Urashima to help him around with things. She provides advice to Keitaro and the other girls from time to time. Though her actual age isn’t known, she’s quite insecure about her age. And even though she looks young, Keitaro always seem to call her ‘obasan’ meaning aunty, and usually gets pounded by her. Can’t be calling her his onee-san, right? Uh… perhaps she’ll prefer that. Dunno. Plus, I wonder why she didn’t become Hinata Inn’s manager in the first place. Maybe there’s some explanation, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention if there was one. And who’re all those senior folks hanging around the Hinata Inn area. Sometimes they seem ominous, sometimes like for comic relief. Yeah, they don’t talk much, sometimes just a grunt or moan or a short comment. Who’re they really?
 
Other characters include Seta Noriyasu, who’s an ex-tutor for Naru. His appearance half way through the series in episode 14, seems to threaten and throw that Keitaro-Naru relationship into jeopardy. Although Keitaro and Naru aren’t lovey-dovey yet, but Kitsune’s plan to put them together is being slightly delayed. Seems that Naru once has a huge crush on Seta and that time she thinks of him more than just a teacher-student relationship. But he left to go do some archaelogical digs around the world, leaving Naru heartbroken. But overall, Seta’s a good guy and an understanding and cool one too (that’s probably why Naru likes him in the first place), though he has terrible driving skills and usually crashes his van into something or anything. Maybe he use them as brakes.
 
Seta has an adopted American daughter, Sarah McDougal. When she and Seta arrived back at Japan, their coincidental meeting with Keitaro makes Sarah abhor him a little. Yup, she tries to make Keitaro’s life a miserable one, though Keitaro still tolerates it all. Sarah’s actually quite protective of Seta, clinging around him most of the time. Probably why hates those who seemingly wants to take him away from her. She’s scared of being alone all over again, that’s why. Through time, just like the rest, becomes more receptive of Keitaro but she still views him as a dork. Later too, she became quite close friends with Kaolla and the 2 become like terrible twins causing some havoc here and there and most of the time, she and Kaolla go explore secret and hidden passages of Hinata Inn. Uh-huh, there’re really lots and lots of those secret passages and some even leading to the most unlikely of places and bizarre spots which make you go ‘why-on-earth-would-someone-dig-a-passageway-here’.
 
Here’s another lovable weirdo, Mutsumi Otohime. Just like Keitaro and Naru, she also failed her entrance exam twice. But she’s actually an intelligent and smart person. Then why did she fail? That’s because she forgot to write her name on her exam sheet. *Mini explosion*. Haih… So she alongside with Keitaro and Naru formed some study group together and call themselves something like 3rd year ronins. Besides that, Mutsumi reminds me so much of Hyatt of Excel Saga. That’s because she too has a habit of fainting which seems like dying! She also looks and sounds dreamy. Oh, the similarity. Looking frail from the outside, she’s actually quite a nice and soft-spoken girl, though she may be a complete blur case and air head sometimes.
 
Many would see her as Naru’s competition for Keitaro, but that’s actually not the case. She doesn’t view him more than a friend and though at the near of the series, there’re hints that Mutsumi may be the girl that Keitaro made the promise, because she too wanted to enter Toudai due to a promise she made to a boy long ago. However, she’s just emulating that scene (she’s observing Keitaro and that girl at that time) and used it as her motivation to enter Toudai. So, is that girl Naru? I’m not pretty sure either. She has a weird habit of just simply kissing people. And when she did it first to Keitaro, imagine the misconception Naru has. But she realized that her kisses meant as a symbol of frienship and apology rather than a romantic one when Mutsumi kissed Naru later. No, it’s not going to be a yuri relationship. She has a pet turtle, Tama, whom she can communicate with (weird) and the weirdest part of the turtle is that, IT CAN FLY!!!! What the?! A flying turtle?! Now that’s really really weird. Tama becomes Hinata Inn’s pet later when Mutsumi gives it to them and seems to stick around Kaolla and Keitaro more often.
 
Then there’s that loser guy Kentaro Sakata, who’s supposed to be Naru’s ex-classmate and he has a crush on her. Making his appearance in episode 7, no doubt that Kentaro is much more good looking, richer and smooth talker than Keitaro but due to unfortunate circumstances, he always lose out. Looks like unknowingly Naru’s still attracted to a dork. Hahaha. Just joking. But because Kentaro has caused some damage to the inn during his earlier ‘duel’ with Keitaro for Naru, he has no choice but to become Haruka’s worker (more like slave) to pay off his debts. But it seems that he won’t be paying them off so soon as you can see him even working in Haruka’s beach tea house and other places. In the end, Kentaro gives up his pursue for Naru’s affection. And because of Kentaro’s name which sounds very closely to Keitaro, the rest of the girls usually gets mixed up and calls him some funny different name, much to Kentaro’s annoyance.
 
Then there’s Keitaro’s childhood friends, Masayuki Haitani and Kimiaki Shirai. They’re actually just minor characters in the series and don’t seem to play any significant role. Maybe it was to make sure that this series won’t be an obvious harem. But there’s Seta and Kentaro, right? Anyway, those 2 guys seem to tease Keitaro sometimes like how he still fails to gain entry to Toudai. By the way, I have a hard time trying to differentiate the 2, that’s because they look so similar. And they’re not even twins! Ah, maybe it’s because of the minor role thing so the producers didn’t want to give much attention and details to them.
 
Phew! Does those character blogs seemed brief enough? Unless you’re a fanatic fan of the series I’m sure you can find and obtain more data about those characters and other minor details which isn’t that obvious or important and would make me go ‘should-I-actually-know-that’ even if it ever comes to surface, here and there over the internet or from other obsessed know-it-all-and-about-Love-Hina enthusiasts.
 
As mentioned before, most of the antics and misadventures of Keitaro and the rest of the girls are somewhat exaggerated and far fetched. But that’s the main driving force which makes the series quite funny and entertaining, though at times those elaborated plots and feats made me raise my eyebrow and go something like "What the? Is that possible at all?".
 
Thus, most of those plots and adventures helped in the development of the story in the series. Like in episode 4 where the girls of Hinata Inn found out that Keitaro’s actually not a Toudai student much to their disappointment. Yeah, previously he tricked them into saying that he’s one just to justify his appointment as the inn’s manager.
 
And some Keitaro-Naru moments in episode 5-6 when the duo once again fail their entrance exams and decides to take a journey away from Hinata Inn. And unfortunately they coincidentily meet themselves and Mutsumi, who also happened to fail. Yeah, some weird trip back to Mutsumi’s hometown in Okinawa. That’s a long way from Tokyo. A lot of those near misses which makes you want to pull out your hair and say "Come on, say it already!". So frustrating. But I guess you’ll have to wait a little longer (at the near end of the series, that is) just to see the magic between them take off. At the same time the other inhabitants of Hinata Inn decides to go on a search and rescue mission after the 2 fail to come back. Not without getting lost first.
 
Then there’re those episodes which focus a little more on a particular girl as part of the character’s development. Like Motoko‘s in episode 3, 8, 12 and 17. In episode 8 is some strange RPG dream-like world and its ridiculousness is annoying Motoko like how most of the other characters become child-like and they’re supposed to be on a quest to save Naru from some evil dragon king. But in the end, Motoko learns a little more about the good side of Keitaro and some clues about her elder sister. In episode 12, Motoko dresses in a more feminine dress. That’s because her usual clothes are all in the laundry. And she gets really annoyed when all the guys she passed by quoting how cute she is. The weird part of this episode is some mecha-Tama (huh?), created by Kaolla, creating havoc at Hinata Inn. Thus, Mokoto has to conquer her turtle-phobia and stop the rampagng beast. And in episode 17, while taking on some trip to some island, Naru gets possessed by some evil spirit who’s lost and bitter at love. And it’s up to Motoko to try and perfect the use of some super terror sword technique whereby with a swing of the sword, the blow will destroy the evil spirit and not the host’s body.
 
Shinobu focused episodes are 2 and 13. In episode 13, Shinobu tries to get her first kiss from Keitaro. That’s because to her horror, she’s just witnessed Keitaro and Naru kissed! Actually they Keitaro’s gonna kiss an unconscious Naru when she woke up and punched him away. So I suppose as a curious young kid she wants to know what a kiss tastes like. And based from the information she got (particularly from Kaolla), it’s supposed to taste like lemons or marshmallow. Is it? Not if you have those fruit flavoured lipsticks. And Kaolla’s trying to help Shinobu get her first kiss from Keitaro (as seen in Shinobu’s sketchbook) by inventing some weird kissing machine which makes the person weariong that device ‘forcefully’ kiss the other person. Of course Shinobu’s scared and ran away. She was hurt when she thought Kaolla’s making fun of her and trying to take away her precious things and worse of all, Kaolla kissed Shinobu! Oh, the horror! Her first kiss, stolen by some over-energetic girl. Don’t worry, it won’t turn out to be yuri. But in the end she realized that Kaolla’s a friend and was just trying to help her. Looks like Shinobu won’t be thinking about getting that kiss anytime soon.
 
Kaolla’s transformation into an adult version is in episode 10. Here, the residents of Hinata Inn and it’s surrounding areas are being terrorized by some mysterious women and her pet alligator. At first, they thought it’s Kaolla, but it’s revealed that she’s actually Kaolla’s older sister, Amalla Su, who’s trying to take her back to the Molmol kingdom. But after the 2 sisters battle, Kaolla realized that she didn’t have to grow up so fast and just be her kiddie self again and continues to have fun.
 
Then in episode 19, her brother Prince Ranba Ru, comes to visit her. And everyone mistakens Ranba for Keitaro because… he looks exactly like him, only much tanned. Furthermore, Ranba is so much more polite and refined and the rest thinks Keitaro must’ve bumped his head or something. Maybe that’s why Kaolla likes Keitaro in the first place. Poor Keitaro. He’s being through a lot of ‘suffering’ here due to some mistaken identity. Ranba comes looking for Kaolla wanting to make her his bride or else he can’t be the emperor of Molmol kingdom. But Kaolla propose a contest and if she wins she won’t marry him, vice versa. A lot of Kaolla’s mecha turtles flying and firing missiles here and there but Kaolla lost. However, she won’t accept it and ran away. Then some talk with Keitaro something about Kaolla growing up at her own pace thingy and not forcing her into some marriage as she’s always looked up to Ranba as her big brother and something like this is something ‘too sudden’. I guess Ranba accepted it. And the funny part was, the last part where Amalla and Kaolla (who’s gonna go back for a short visit) wrongfully brought Keitaro back to their Molmol kingdom, even though Keitaro vehemently protest that it’s the real him. Yeah, Ranba switched places with Keitaro and said something like he wanted to enjoy a little more peace here. And those 2 realized it too late when Kaolla returned to Hinata Inn. Haha. And Ranba got a taste of Naru and Kaolla’s super punch as they asked him to leave immediately as he’s overstayed his welcome. Hahaha.
 
Kitsune‘s is episode 9. Well, not really actually. If you look at the fact that she plays detective with Kaolla as her assistant, to find the Hinata Inn’s stolen rent money. Yeah, just like Sherlock Holmes as she explains and unravel clues about who may have stolen the money. Well, actually it’s Kitsune herself. Yup. She planned the whole thing and when Keitaro panicked she had to change her plan and looked like it was stolen. Sneaky. At least she came clean in the end.
 
Even Naru has her share of the spot light, literally. In episode 11, Naru won some contest and becomes a singer. Soon she becomes a really famous idol sweeping all across Japan. And with Kentaro as her manager she’s become so busy that Keitaro’s a little worried that she may’ve decided to forget all about studying for the Toudai entrance exams. Oh course, Keitaro learned that she can’t really handle all that pressure as she rushed back to Hinata Inn hiding from her manager. And when some photo showing Naru pounding Keitaro is made public, Naru’s dropped from it all and she happily returns to Hinata Inn.
 
Then there’s that exaggerated episode 16 whereby the whole gang including Seta and Sarah doing some Journey To The West play at some beach, entertaining all those children there. Yeah, the whole play seems hilariously one kind and that Keitaro guy’s so spaced out thinking about the Naru-Seta thing. Eh, what kind of guy are you? You can’t be a guy like that lah!
 
Also there’s that 1 episoder appearance only. In episode 20, Keitaro discovers some doll in some old and abandoned section of the Hinata Inn. The thing is, that doll, Moe, can talk and move on it’s own. Weird thing is, only Keitaro can see it talk and move! The other girls think he’s kinda mad talking and playing with that doll. And Naru thinks that he may be falling for a doll since he’s spending so much time with it. Actually Moe just wanted to be with her master who promised to come back for her, who’s Keitaro’s great grandpa or something (who resembles so much like Keitaro), and Keitaro’s such a nice guy that he obliged. But don’t worry, in the end, Moe was happy and turned back into a ‘normal’ doll. Normal meaning, one which don’t move and talk on it’s own lah.
 
In episode 21-22, the occupants of Hinata Inn received an unexpected guest. It’s Naru’s little sister, Mei. Actually, they’re not blood related. Naru’s dad remarried again and in a way they became sisters. She came to Hinata Inn so that she could take back her sister to live with their parents once again. Yup, at first she tried to break up Naru and Keitaro , but Mei got the wrong guy. Poor Kentaro. Then later she temporarily stayed at Hinata Inn to try and persuade her to go back, but of course Naru’s pretty adamant and won’t go back just like that. Then we find out something like Mei being lonely so if she decides to go study abroad, Naru would come back and everyone would be happy. But Mei eventually realized that she’s happy here and Naru doesn’t hate her.
 
Before episode 22 ends, a shocking twist of events is revealed. You know that yellow raccoon-like stuff doll (which they named Liddo-kun) which belongs to Naru all the while, as she’s washing it, Mutsumi’s name is revealed on it. Could it be? Yeah, that stuff doll is sometimes used as some figurative metaphor in some story-telling or some narrative explanation. And usually those 3 Liddo-kuns have some weird resemblance to Keitaro, Naru and Mutsumi.
 
Before the series ends, in episode 23, Keitaro, Naru and Mutsumi are supposed to go have a look at their mock exam results together. But Naru didn’t want to as the other 2 went ahead then. Looks like Naru’s having that dilemma of whether or not to tell Keitaro about that picture and his promised one is actually Mutsumi. To make matters worse Keitaro’s grandma hjas returned from her round the world trip and may take back her manager job. Which means, Keitaro may have to go home. So a lot of deep thinking and analysis from Keitaro with the times he spent here. But I think those other girls too got used to him and probably feel reluctant for him to leave.
 
Furthermore, Hinata Inn’s under heavy renovation and most of the occupants are temporarily living some place else. And Keitaro’s crashing at Mutsumi’s place. Naru who decided to tell him the truth then heads down there only to find the 2 in compromising position, much to her shock and sadness. Actually, Mutsumi’s who’s taking a bath, came out, slipped and fell on Keitaro. Such timing. But instead of punching him away, Naru just ran away with Keitaro pursuing her shortly. When he managed to catch up with her, in her haste without thinking, she confessed that she liked him and kissed him! Woah! When Mutsumi arrives, Naru just took off, leaving a shock Keitaro standing there.
 
So in episode 24 it seems that Keitaro has jumped to a conclusion that Mutsumi’s his promised girl. And it seemed that way since Mutsumi’s quite cool about it. A lot of spacing out from the characters. Keitaro and Naru were just indecisive and depressed. Also other Hinata Inn occupants try to knock some sense into them like don’t run away and stuffs like that. I supposed those 2 accepted each other (though they didn’t say it direct) and when they went back to Hinata Inn, Keitaro found out that he’s being officially recognized as Hinata Inn’s manager. Yeah, he’s got his named embossed on some small wooden signboard. And everyone’s delighted that he’s back and everyone’s back too! Looks like it’s gonna be Keitaro and Naru.
 
In the closing scenes, we see Mutsumi’s explanation to a surprised Naru how she’s not the girl Keitaro promised. Something like he got mixed up with it and Mutsumi got inadvertently dragged into it. So who is that girl? Dunno. It still remains a mystery. Finally as Mutsumi said, it could be many girls (a little shock from Naru there) from his memories. And they too are part of his memories. Ah… And what better way to end things with Keitaro getting another one of Naru’s super punch when she saw Keitaro sleeping next to Mutsumi. Haha. Dunno whether it’s on purpose or not. But I suppose he really got a ‘rude’ awakening. Too late to explain. The fist is faster than the mouth.
 
As mentioned, the series didn’t actually end there. There’s this OVA episode 25 and it’s mainly on Motoko. Her beautiful and elder sister, Tsuruko, arrives at Hinata Inn to take Motoko back to the dojo. But Motoko’s not ready to go back yet. Since her sister’s not the kind who listens, Motoko had to make up the biggest lie she ever had. That is, she told Tsuruko that she’s getting married to Keitaro. WHAT THE?! Hey, wouldn’t Naru get mad? Actually, she and Mei went out of town to go visit the graves. So over this half an hour, we see how uneasy Motoko tries to convince her sister that the 2 are lovey-dovey like cooking for him and even taking a bath together. Why uneasy? That’s because her sis is watching and scrutinizing every their every move together! Who wouldn’t, right?
 
Just then Naru came back and misinterpret the whole thing. Luckily Tsuruko explained but still, you know that look from Naru. So in order not for Motoko to go back with her sis, she needs to beat her. Yup, some sword duelling battle between the 2. And somehow during the battle, when Motoko seems to be losing, Naru wanting to help Motoko unsheath some evil sword which possessed her. And it’s up to Motoko to seal the evil and save Naru. Before she uses her ultimate technique, she swings Keitaro towards Naru and they both locked lips. That’s when she seized the opportunity. When everything’s back to normal, Tsuruko realized that Motoko’s gotten stronger and better and well, allows her to continue living at Hinata Inn.
 
Of the several episode specials, I’ve only watched the approximately 50 minutes Christmas special. Christmas is just around the corner. And there’s that saying that if one confesses on Christmas Eve, that wish will come true. Honestly, there’re too many of such sayings just for convenience of the storyline. And you might have guessed it, Keitaro’s planning to do it. Being so overjoyed, he fell down and sprained his leg. That guy. Partly too, he thought that Naru’s gonna do the same to him too. Yeah, he prematurely heard about some love letter thingy.
 
Well, since the whole jin-jang gang wants to see their confession, they secretly followed Naru holding some present and that love letter up to some building. To their shock and horror, they saw Naru and Seta! Kitsune in a rage went over to ask Seta for some explanation. Naru ran away, passing a shocked and spacing out Keitaro. Some tension there. Well, a depressed Keitaro along with Shinobu went somewhere else. Meanwhile, the others read that love letter and found out that it was just an appreciation letter from Naru to Seta, though she mentioned that she once had a crush on him, but now she wants to love another rather than to be loved. That’s what you get when you jump to conclusions too fast.
 
As the other girls split up and rushed to find Keitaro and Naru, Shinobu thinking that this may be a good chance to get up close with Keitaro, albeit she has that guilty feeling. But I guess she realized that Keitaro has his eyes on Naru. Also, we see Shinobu’s dad as some taxi driver and well later, the 2 went on a father-daughter bonding thing. Before that, Kitsune manage to get that letter to them in time. And so the rest of the episode we’ll see Keitaro’s indecisiveness to go meet Naru at some place at some point. So in the end, at some crowded place they had trouble finding each other. Naru used some nearby camera crew and spill out all those lovey-dovey things over some big outdoor tv screen live, like how she wants to be with him and go to Toudai with him, but short of saying ‘I love you’. Eventually the 2 meet face to face. Some staring. But they’re being interrupted when the rest of the gang reunited. And they all went home.
 
Then there’s that episode recap whereby they cram all 24 episodes of the tv series into 1 30 minute episode. Well, I didn’t watch this one either because… it’s a recap! I felt it might be better to just read a summary rather than to watch the whole thing again. Probably I’ve got to much dosage of Love Hina at that time and that’s why I didn’t watch the Spring Special either. I’ve got that feeling it’s more of the same thing. Those 2 trying to confess but can’t, the others get involved directly or not, and then the usual some misunderstood perverted situation Keitaro gets into and he receives another Naru’s super punch. Must be that predictable by now.
 
Just to save time, I think I’ll blog Love Hina Again as well. Yes, it’s that 3 episode OVA sequel to the tv series and all those specials. And I think this is the last series under the Love Hina name.
 
In episode 1, we finally see the 3 ronins becoming students of Tokyo University. Finally!!! But due to Keitaro’s over-happiness, he injures himself during the opening ceremony. At the same time, he’s reconsidering his goals. And to the surprise to everyone at Hinata Inn, Keitaro announced that he’s going on an excavation trip with Seta and be his assistant, so he’ll probably miss the first semester or so. Yeah, he seems to find his calling in archaeology. And there seems to be a sense of ‘something’s missing and emptiness’ when he’s not around. Yeah, everyone especially Naru is already starting to miss him. By the way, Kaolla and Sarah spots a different hairstyle. I think it’s much uglier than before.
 
While Keitaro’s gone, the other girls of Hinata Inn experienced some strange behaviour from Naru. Like how Naru’s outraging Motoko’s modesty in public, and how she did that breast squeezing thing from behind to Kitsune (just like Tina in Ai Yori Aoshi), and how she cleaned up Kaolla’s room to the dot. And much to their fury, they all are gonna get her for this but Naru claims she doesn’t know what’s going on nor what she’s done to them. While she’s escaping, she caught a glimpse of herself smelling Keitaro’s shirt and is surprised to see herself doing that.
 
It’s revealed then she’s Kanako Urashima, Keitaro’s little sister and claims she’s the one who made the promise to Keitaro when he was younger. SHOCK!!! That girl is his little sister and he can’t remember that he made that promise to someone that close? Or is it another one of those ‘I-think-I’m-the-one-lah-but-don’t-quite-remember-but-must-be-lah’. However, just like Naru and Mei’s case, Kanako too isn’t blood related to Keitaro. So maybe, just maybe. Plus, she has a black cat named Kuro with large ears, which can also fly and talk! It’s really getting ridiculous. Anyway, soon after the other girls found out the truth and it wasn’t Naru that did all those stuffs all along (those realistic face masks must’ve done the trick to obtain those girls’ info), Kanako quickly installs herself as the manager of Hinata Inn, much to everyone’s protest. Since she’s very strict, she told them, if they’re not happy, they can leave. Oh well, what to do but to listen to her lor.
 
Next day, Naru’s wondering what those girls are up to when Kitsune explained they’re gonna find Kanako’s weakness by exploring some forbidden area located at some empty wing of the inn behind the hills. Yeah, Kanako left it as some warning in her special rule book that if anyone who tries to enter it will be immediately expelled. So the gang’s thinking there may be something that Kanako’s hiding there.
 
Naru who didn’t join the gang went to tell Kanako about it but she’s doing it so that she and the rest could get along. But Kanako is still suspicious of Naru’s kindness towards her. So Kanako went and try to stop those girls from reaching near the forbidden area by using… turtles?! But they’re being interrupted as a speeding van is coming their way. Naru pushes Kanako out of harm’s way. Isn’t that Seta’s van? Could it be? Could it be? Yes it is. Keitaro’s back! And looks like he’s taken after Seta so much even to the extent of his driving. The episode ends with the girls rejoicing and went to hug him immediately.
 
Episode 2 starts off with Keitaro unpacking his things (women’s lingerie??!! Must’ve packed the wrong things doing his trip back) when Kanako comes in. Hmm… Kanako looks kinda cute in that goth-loli outfit. Yup, he didn’t recognized her at first and thought it was a new occupant, much to everybody’s surprise. When mentioned that she’s his little sister, those memories of being with her began to flow. And when Kanako mentioned about the fulfilling of that promise, that densed Keitaro said he forgot to fulfill that promise of writing letters to her from time to time because he was busy. *Smack*. Looks like he won’t be remembering it anytime soon unless a sign drops out of the sky right in front of his face.
 
So the rest of the episode sees how Kanako, who now views Keitaro as a man and no longer her brother, tries to ‘seduce’ him and make him hers, such as changing her clothes right when he comes in (at every room he enters?), hugging him, so she could let him feeeeeel her breasts. Yeah, he was even surprised to know that she has such breast size. Argh!!! And also that taking a bath with him and scrubbing his back. But Kanako’s plans are usually put to a halt when Naru comes barging in with that super punch or kick. Looks like she’s more of jealous rather than concern, thinking that Keitaro’s getting all perverted towards Kanako. Poor guy.
 
Noticing this, Kanako’s going in for the kill to make Keitaro hers forever. Yup, there’s that saying again. If a couple proposed at that forbidden place at midnight or stay there for 1 night, the 2 will be linked forever. Uh-huh. So she tricked Keitaro by writing a letter to him bearing Naru’s name. Keitaro’s already there, when Haruka explained to Naru about that saying. So when Naru realized that Keitaro has been tricked, she rushes over there.
 
Meanwhile Keitaro’s confessing his feelings to the girl he thought is Naru, but found out too late that she’s actually Kanako. And Naru too arrived too late as the gears and cogs of that place begins to move, making that saying come true. Some invisible barrier prevents Naru from getting in contact with Keitaro. Kanako took the ring from Keitaro that was meant for Naru but in their struggle she dropped it. But Naru’s unable to put the ring on too as the magic’s taking effect. A little evil-like grin from Kanako and saying that she’d won.
 
Episode 3 starts off with Moe showing Keitaro making that promise to that girl, which is obviously Kanako and Moe’s also showing Naru how Keitaro puts the ring on Kanako’s finger, much to Naru’s horror. But that’s just a dream as the 2 woke up. Yup, somehow there seems to be no direct relation or continuity of what happened in the previous episode. Besides, Naru seems to have lost the ring Keitaro gave her. Plus, Naru’s efforts to get close to Keitaro, like serving him tea, is thwarted by that magical effect. Okay, so there may have been something that happened in the previous episodes which ended up like this. But how come they all looked so cool about it?
 
The magical effect isn’t only restricted to those 3. Even when Naru approaches the abandoned wing, it somehow manages to ‘take control’ of some of the Hinata Inn’s occupants to stop from her coming near the place. It’s like doing it against their own will. Later Naru has a talk with the other girls who’re concerned about Keitaro and Kanako’s relationship as they fear if this were to continue, it would no longer be a brother-sister relationship. Yeah, looks like indirectly they want it to be a Keitaro-Naru thingy.
 
But even though when Kanako’s nursing Keitaro, she noticed how he inconsciously talks about Naru. So she’s pretty determined to make it clear to her. Meanwhile, as Naru walks through town she spots Kentaro who beckons her to come along with him. He took her to a beautiful sunset beach and there they talked about those kinda lovers stuffs like uncertainty and all those things. We find out that Naru’s worried and afraid if she become Keitaro’s lover that’s because if so, she’ll miss the fun things that she’s having now with the others as well and things will change. I guess Naru really enjoys punching Keitaro, huh? Hey, if you look at it that way, isn’t it true?
 
After all that talk, suddenly Kentaro ripped his face mask off! It’s actually Kanako! She’s really a master of disguise. Kanako’s pretty mad about Naru’s indecisiveness and the 2 had a ‘fist fight’. And because Naru’s indecisive behaviour, Kanako ‘wins’ and throws her away in the sky…?! Yes, that’s what she did. Naru’s flying away. And as Keitaro frees a tied-up Kentaro from his car boot, he spots Naru running away and chases after her till they reached that abandoned wing. But Keitaro ripped off that fake Naru face and knew it was Kanako all along. Kanako realized he’s such a nice and kind guy even though she disguised as Naru.
 
Just then the magical powers of the abandoned wing begins to take effect again, drawing them both deep inside the building. Naru who just happened to arrive, manages to get in with her strong will, even though the magical effect is preventing her from entering. Not only that, looks like the magical powers have also drawn the other Hinata Inn occupants into it against their own will. Yeah, they looked like some sort of ‘reluctant guards’ to keep Naru away from Keitaro and Kanako.
 
So there’s a lot of talk of encouragement and realization as Naru goes deeper into the building passing those ‘Hinata Inn guardians’. At the same time, also some talk of realization and comfort from Keitaro to Kanako like how Keitaro knows she doesn’t want to be alone again that’s why she’s doing this. But he says since they’re siblings they’ll always be together. Then Kanako understood and before Keitaro could finish, she kissed him and admits that she lost to Naru just for this time. As she heads out of that room, Naru just arrived and standing out there, Kanako pushes her in.
 
Some short staring by the 2. But as Naru took a step forward, that magical power took effect again and sends Naru crashing down to the floors below. Luckily she managed to cling on to a giant clock gear and spots the ring she lost at the high clock tower above. Wow. Can she really see that far? But even if it’s just a shiny tiny reflection, how sure was she that it’s the ring? Intuition? Maybe. Or is it convenience? And then she can negotiate and climb up there like an expert climber. I didn’t know she can she do all that? Maybe it’s the hidden power of looooove.
 
Though Naru managed to obtain it, but her butter fingers caused it to slip and fall. Good thing is Keitaro caught it. Bad thing is, he slipped and he’s gonna fall to his doom. When Naru saw this she yelled something like don’t leave me alone and dives down to grab him. And since the power of their love was so great the magical effect is overloaded with its own power causing the whole building to explode. Luckily their fall’s being broken by one the giant gears. Then this part I didn’t get. Naru saw Moe sitting from above and Moe said something like, you’ve found it, before disappearing. Huh?
 
Then suddenly in a passionate frenzy, an embarrassed Naru confessed out loud how she loves Keitaro repeatedly and many times. When Keitaro proceeds to hand to her the ring, she quickly snatches it and swiftly kissed him! And it’s a really loooong kiss! Oh my goodness. I think they’re enjoying it. However, it’s being cut short when the other girls saw it and couldn’t belive that they’ve done such an embarrassing thing. Of course, they couldn’t accept it and went after them as the 2 escaped.
 
And this is the most exaggerated crap part. While they’re running away, suddenly Seta, now flying in some foker plane dives down so low (can a plane do that) and picks Keitaro up as Seta plans to go for another excavation with him. Then Naru who didn’t want to be left behind held on to Tama as they fly up on board the plane. What the?! Can Tama support Naru’s weight? Not meant to insult her weight, but this is too much. Then Kanako not wanting to loose them followed suit with Kuro but the other girls grabbed on as well making it too heavy for their lift off. And in the plane, the 2 are glad to be together as Keitaro asked where’re they going. Seta replied they can go anywhere (what about the dig?) and Keitaro simultaneously with Naru said that there’s a place they want to go first, that is "The 2 lovers to Toudai" as the plane flew into the… sunrise…?! Well, I guess it’s okay too in addition to your typical sunset. And here’s another crap if you noticed in the plane for a brief moment, Tama is SMOKING!!! I knew that turtle sometimes do outrageous things. But smoking?! Give me a break! So what happens to the rest of the girls? Well que sera sera, whatever will be will be.
 
Overall, I find the whole Love Hina series pretty okay. Another of those teenage romance blend in a few couple of exaggerated jokes and humours, and you’ve got a series worthwhile and entertaining to watch. Of course if you’ve seen too much of this kind of genre than you may have that excessive feeling and with that, nothing new.
 
As for the drawing and animation, I’m kinda having mixed feelings about it. That’s because I’m comparing the tv series and specials with the OVA. The tv series and the specials no doubt that that the colouring is old and mundane. However, even though the OVA’s colouring is much brighter, richer and smoother, their details of the characters facial aspects are somewhat simple and unrefined. Which means in my opinion the characters in the older shows looked way much better. You’ll obviously notice this in the OVA when the characters’ eyes are closed or hugely opened in disbelief and their mouths wide opened, they’re all so… crude.
 
The voice acting are quite okay and suits each character and their personalities well. Perhaps that’s because I may have gotten used to those voices by now. Especially Naru’s voice actress, is voiced by the multi-talented Yui Horie, who also voiced many other famous characters in other well-known animes as well such as Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket), Eri Sawachika (School Rumble), Kotori Shirakawa (Da Capo), Yoko (Inukami), Mizuho Miyanokouji (Otome Wa Onee-sama Koi Shiteru), Ayu Tateishi (Ultra Maniac) and to my surprise even as Siesta (Zero No Tsukaima). Impressive resume. Up to this day, I still can’t identify and pin-point her voice out. Maybe her voice isn’t as unique as Mamiko Noto or Romi Paku whereby I can instantly identify them when I first hear them.
 
I want to also mention that the opening theme song for the tv series, Sakura Saku, sounds kinda, how should I put it… ‘weirdly cute’, especially the choruse part. You should listen to it if you want to know what I mean. Of course this song is sung by Megumi Hayashibara, another multi-talented songstress who also sang the ending so for this series. I dunno but somehow I felt that when she sings a song for an anime, she’ll usually ‘pao’ the whole or most of the opening and ending themes, just like in Slayers and Shaman King. If not and besides that, Yui Horie and the other casts of Love Hina also sang for the specials and OVA. Now that’s really really multi-talented. Or is it ‘I-want-to-do-and-have-everything-in-my-name’. Uh… I think I’ll stick to the former one.
 
Besides that trademark Naru’s super punch sending Keitaro into orbit, I kinda noticed that in every episode too that the girls whether some or all of them, spend their time discussing and talking things during bath, and mostly they do it at their outside hot spring. Don’t worry, all the necessary parts are strategically concealed so as not to turn this into a hentai anime. Okay, maybe ecchi at times, showing the girl’s slip here and there, but it isn’t too excessive.
 
The character development in the series, well I could say, it really does develop nicely, though most of it is towards the development between Keitaro and Naru. Yeah, you’ll notice a lot of indecisiveness, uneasiness, uncertainty, hesitation, spacing out between those 2 that you may feel frustrated. It’s like they like each other but they can’t confess and they put up a tough act (especially Naru) to hide it all. Maybe that’s why they can drag the series. It won’t be a good thing too if it’s too short.
 
In conclusion, so is Kanako really Keitaro’s promised girl? It wasn’t clear too in the end. Hints may still suggests that it’s Naru. But I guess that’s not important now since Keitaro and Naru realized their love for each other and they along with the others will always be together. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll all be revealed and answered if you read the manga. And since I don’t have that reading habit, I guess I’ll never know.

I”s Pure

December 15, 2006

It sure took a long time to watch the whole series of I”s Pure. Why? Because the series is shown for the duration of approximately 8 months. What’s so bad about that, you say? Well, that’s because… this series has only 6 episodes!!! Yup, count them. Only 6 episodes worth 30 minutes of air time.
 
Wow! That’s really a long time and what a way to spread the series. I mean, no doubt that it’s an OVA so it’s not like other normal tv series where they show each episode week by week. But nearly one month for one episode?! At least that’s for the first 3 episodes. Then the remaining episodes took like almost forever to come out. And when it eventually did came out, so much so that I’ve nearly forgotten what the earlier episodes are about.
 
Basically, this is what the show is about. To put it simple, there’s this shy and reserved guy, Seto Ichitaka who has a crush on this girl Iori Yoshizuki, which is supposed to be quite a popular girl in their school. She’s even got her own fan club. But it’s not that kind of situation where they both fell in love at first sight. Of course, Iori isn’t too fond of Seto’s at first, you know, the usual shy shy, blush blush, that kind of thing. But later, Seto’s dream would come true when he and Iori are supposed to organized some welcoming party together. And thus, we’ll slowly see how their relationship develops from there. And that’s pretty much how the term I"s came about. It’s the initials from their first names, Iori and Seto that they came up with for that project as a team.
 
However, when things are just about to go in favour Seto’s way, his childhood friend and sweetheart, Itsuki Akiba, one day returns to her hometown from the USA and decides to make a special visit for Seto. Uh-huh. So you’ve kinda guessed it already. A love triangle kinda situation. Seto torn between his newly dream-come-true crush and his dearest childhood friend. How is he gonna solve it? Nope, he’s not gonna run away that’s for sure.
 
So in episode 1, it introduces things and stuffs like as mentioned, how Seto’s got this crush on Iori, who’s also part of some drama club. Also, there’s Seto’s best buddy, Yasumasa Teratani, who’s really a true friend in times of need but sometimes can be really annoying. In this episode, we also see that Iori’s being harrassed and verbally abused by some school bullies outside the drama club room and they’ve got a fake picture of Iori posing nude. Yup, it’s super-imposed. Ah, the ‘wonders’ of technology. But Iori’s not the kind who can really fight back. Well, at least not to a bunch of tough looking school bullies. Seto who saw what’s happening, tried to ‘chase them off’… with a broom? Unfortunately, they left and the drama club members thought that Seto’s the harasser. Wrong place wrong time.
 
Later, Teratani tries to cheer up a depressed Seto by consoling him at his home. The things is, Teratani slipped that fake nude photo of Iori into his notebook. And the next day in school as Seto was apologizing to Iori about that incident, somehow Iori knew he wasn’t part of those harassers. It seemed that everything’s going well, that is, until some gust of wind blew Seto’s notebook and that picture dropped out. Oh oh. How would you feel if you saw a naked photo of yourself. And everything Iori had perceived good about Seto has gone down the drain in just a split second. You could say Seto’s good reputation has ‘gone with the wind’. Hahaha. And a furious Iori slapped him before she walked away. Ouch. His face and heart must be real hurt.
 
Next day, Iori’s being persuaded by some club members to have a photo shoot with them. Iori was very reluctant to participate at first but eventually gave in. Actually, it’s just a ploy by those school bullies earlier on. Yeah, they’ve planted hidden cameras in the changing room and are secretly filming them as Iori and the other girls who’re participating when they’re changing. But Iori seemed to notice the cameras just before she took off her clothes and realized that she’s being duped. Of course, she’d tried to escape but those school bullies blocked her path and wouldn’t allow her to do so. It also seemed that they’re targeting Iori in particular.
 
Luckily, Teratani’s passing by and found out about it and hurriedly rushed to inform Seto. Of course, the latter would feel mad and in his anger he quickly rushed there (with a broom again?) and attacked those school bullies. Before he could start, Teratani pressed some alarm button which made those school bullies flee. As Seto tries to comfort Iori’s who’s crying and saying how men are all the same, Seto surprisingly raised his voice back at her saying that he wasn’t like one of them as he was here to save her. But slowly, after some events here and there, she didn’t hate him and apologized to him about her earlier statement. Well, looks like things are back to normal. Looks like.
 
In the closing scenes of this episode, we see how Seto overslept only to be awaken by the ringing of the doorbell. Who could it be? It’s Iori! Oh, Seto’s late for some shopping to be done together with Iori. But while he’s getting ready, he saw a girl in just her undergarments. Initially the both of them were shocked as first as that girl slamed the door closed. But later, she realized that it’s Seto and proceeds to hug him happily, calling out his name. Yup, it’s Itsuki alright and she’s back.
 
I felt that episode 2 is more of Seto and Itsuki doing things together. Yeah, like some sort of date but it isn’t like that. More like since Itsuki’s returned from the USA, Seto’s obliged to take her around. Also, there’s this ‘uneasy atmosphere’ between Iori and Seto. Yup, Iori who’s starting to like Seto, is a little hesistant and indecisive about Seto and Itsuki being together. The 2 looked like they’re having a whale of a time together and Iori thinks Seto may eventually go back to Itsuki. Yeah, Itsuki already confessed out loud that she loves Seto and wants to be with him. However Seto thinks it’s just a joke and rebuffed her. Of course, Itsuki felt hurt and ran away. Seems Seto’s still got his mind on Iori. But Iori isn’t pushing the panic button yet. She’s just observing it and well, not jumping to conclusions just yet even though that’s what she thought.
 
We also find out that Itsuki’s some sort of sculpture or model designer. And that she’d made some sort of mould figure during their younger days. Hmm… Seems she’s got lots of it. Before the last scene of the episode, we see Iori and Seto having a walk together at some scenic shrine. When things are starting to get a little romantic for them, Seto received a phone call form his mum saying that the place Itsuki recently moved has has caught fire and Itsuki’s no where to be found. Of course, Seto rushed back to the house (now totally burned to the ground) and saw Itsuki crying there with that mould in her hand, as he comforts her.
 
The first half of episode 3 isn’t anything that much besides Seto being sick and Itsuki who’s now temporarily residing in his house, looking after him. Yeah, she’s a little playful, hanging her arms around him, clinging on to him, you know stuffs like that. And there’s that ‘misinterpreted look’ on Iori’s face when she saw them like that when the 2 went to answer the front door. But Iori seems cool about it. Though maybe deep down in her heart she isn’t. Also, we see how Itsuki and Seto spend the rest of the day with Itsuki playing barber to Seto, only thing it wasn’t a good cut. And how the 2 slept together in bed. Don’t worry, nothing much happened here. They didn’t ‘do it’. Just that ‘uneasy atmosphere’.
 
The second half shows how Iori again has been desparately persuaded by some guy at school to do a photo shoot for one of his club’s project. Because Iori has had a bad experience before, she’d wasn’t really sure and decline it. However, Seto and Teratani gave some words of advice and encouragement, thus Iori felt that it was no harm to try.
 
So on the day where Iori’s supposed to be at some place of the photo shoot, Seto and Itsuki are seemingly going out together. Well, I wouldn’t consider them dating. But during his outing he spots that club member guy walking around when he’s supposed to be at the photo shoot with Iori. Sensing something amiss, Seto confronts the guy. Oh no! It seems like another trap laid by those school bullies to get back at Iori. And they had threaten that guy to help do their bidding or else. Looks like Iori’s in a pinch again.
 
But she realized it too late as she arrived in some abandoned building as those school bullies surrounded her and tied her up. They’re gonna take advantage of her for the troubles that she’s caused them. Yup, it seems that those bunch of losers got expelled from school after their hidden camera incident was reported to the teachers. Seto again, rushed over there, leaving Itsuki behind. But Itsuki isn’t a dumb girl. She called Teratani and informed him what was going on.
 
At the abandoned place as the school bully boss is fondling with her, Seto managed to arrive in time and his rage he’s gonna take all of those school bullies by himself. Self-confidence is one thing. But being blinded by anger is another. Yup, the school bully boss easily beats up Seto, who still isn’t giving up yet. Okay, it may seem unfair now that every school bully is kicking and punching a defenceless and injured Seto. But before they could go on, Teratani arrives with his motley crew. Yay! The calvary has arrived. The school bullies seeing them being outnumbered by a bunch of weirdos quickly ran for their lives as they chased after them. And of course, some talk like ‘are you alright’ and that sort of stuffs. But Seto’s glad that they haven’t done anything serious to her.
 
Just then Seto realized that he had left Itsuki all alone back there. As he rushes back there, he still saw Itsuki waiting there. Well, she’s not mad at him. She’s also relieved that everything’s alright. Then the shocking thing. Yup, Itsuki tells Seto that she’s going back to the USA after she’d received some call from some movie producer to design some moulds for some upcoming movie. Some emotional farewell talk from her which would suggests that she’d ‘given up’ on Seto being her boyfriend and he would seem to be better off with Iori kinda conversation. Why not? Itsuki realized that Seto cares for Iori very much after rushing off like that and not thinking about his own safety. Plus, she’s already accepted it and gave him her blessings. Sad. But I guess she’s quite mature in her decision making as she wanted for them to be happy. Yeah, and that ‘catch her’ before it’s too late remark.
 
So by episode 4, Itsuki’s really gone. And in this episode, Teratani invites Seto along with Iori and her friends Nami and Yuka, to some inn near the sea side as he believes this is Seto’s chance of getting close to Iori. Also, here Seto meets a girl named Izumi Isozaki by the sea who claimed that she’d lost some ring her boyfriend gave to her. So a kind-hearted Seto decides to help fing it for her by snorkelling nearby, he found it near some undersea rocks and when he gets back to land, to his horror Izumi throws it back again! What the? But then some big wave appeared and it injured Seto’s leg a little. While Izumi cleans up his wound, she told Seto that she just recently broke up with her boyfriend and asked if Seto has a girlfirend. Well, that fellow denied it. And she surprised Seto a little when she asked him if she could be his boyfriend, only to tell him shortly that she was just joking.
 
Besides that naughty prank played Teratani whereby he switched the male and female sign to some hot spring and Seto unknowingly enters the wrong section and realized to late, he overhears Iori’s true feelings towards him. Of course when they found out that Seto’s there, you know what they did to him lah. But later they found out was a misunderstanding as Teratani confessed and repent his wrongdoing. So it seems that this episode is more like Seto’s ‘fling’ with Izumi.
 
There’s that part where Izumi explains to Seto some belief whereby if a guy manage to successfully stack 50 black stones on top of one another and then the girl puts that final 1 white stone on top of it, they will forever be together. Some belief. Anyway, Seto’s trying real hard, failing each time. But he’s not giving up yet. No doubt in frustration, but I guess Izumi couldn’t wait any longer as she silently slips away. When Seto finally stack all 50 black stones, in his joy he asked Izumi to stack the last white stone on it. Ah, the joy of achievement. But to his surprised that it wasn’t Izumi who put that last stone. It’s Iori! She’s been told about it by Izumi about the whole thing and to stack that last stone on behalf for her. Unfortunately, Seto faints from his fatigue. Looks like another girl besides Itsuki who believes that Seto and Iori are fated to be together. But Izumi’s part is just until here, as well, she left by the end of the day.
 
There’s a change of scene before this episode ends. Whereby, Yuka invited Seto, Iori and Teratani to some karaoke outlet. Actually, Yuka has a crush on Teratani and she’s too shy to ask him out alone. So during at the karaoke outlet, Seto decides to confess to Iori but can’t do so because he doesn’t want to get Teratani all suspicious. But that Teratani guy seems to know what’s going on even when he’s drunk. But it looks like Seto’s a little drunk too. He then noticed that Teratani and Yuka had gone out of the room already. And because of that, he inadvertently took the chance to ask Iori if there’s anyone she like and Iori asked back the same question. Some long moment of pause there before Seto confessed that he likes Iori. Is this confession for real or because he’s drunk? Maybe kind of both.
 
I find episode 5 kinda a little ‘slow’. Yeah, mainly this episode sees how Seto tries to confess his feelings towards Iori but he’s still too nervous to do so. So they have their moments together here and there but nothing that intimate. The part where the Christmas tree was lighted up in the middle of some square was quite a nice scenery. I guess with all those lovebirds kissing and holding hands there, made Seto and Iori a little ‘uncomfortable’ and thinking about their own situtation, huh?
 
Also we find out that Iori has got some major acting play coming up. And because of this, some production crew, I think she’s supposedly Iori’s manager and caretaker for that play production (she seems fierce and strict), confronts Seto and asked him to break up with Iori as this dating thing is distracting her from her work. Well, Seto seems reluctant at first. Any guy in love wouldn’t just listen obidiently to some stranger you’ve known a few minutes and use that as an excuse to break up. But Seto’s having second thoughts as he wants Iori to pursue her dream and become happy. So I guess you could say he’s a little torn and indecisive of what to do.
 
Besides that, we see how the 2 while on their night outing together, finds a sad Yuka sitting all alone by some steps. As Iori approached to ask her what’s wrong, Yuka told her that she’s being ‘dumped’ by Teratani. Yeah, Yuka had confessed to him but the latter turned her down saying he’s not interested bla bla bla, things that would break a girl’s heart. Seto, after hearing all this, rushed to find Teratani. Looks like he’s a little upset and mad. And he manage to find him… browsing through some porn videos at some porn store. *Smack*. In Seto’s fit, he punches Teratani, catching him off guard and tries to find out why he rejected her. But Teratani after he gives him some explanation like how serious she is and if he dated half-heartedly, he would end up hurting her even more (what is it with men and commitment), he tells Seto about his own predicament as well and then punches him back in the cheek. Right back at ‘cha.
 
So in the last scene of the episode, after Seto and Iori boards a train after bidding their farewell to Yuka, has that ‘uneasiness’ and tension during the ride.. Like want to confess but cannot. Then Iori said something how she tried to plan this meeting carefully but it didn’t out too well. Just then without thinking, Seto also said that he was unable to confess. And when Iori asked who, Seto replied that it was her. When he realized what he had just said he became embarrassed. And there’s that ‘uneasiness’ between the 2. Blushing, can’t look into the other’s eye.
 
And when the train arrives at Iori’s stop, she left without saying anything, and Seto felt guilty and thought that he might have done something wrong possibly hurt her feelings. But as everybody on the train alighted, Seto saw Iori coming back in and she said something like she thought that it was a one-sided love. Could this mean? Yeah, probably the 2 of them had the same idea that the other doesn’t like the other. Funny.
 
And finally the last episode number 6. Mostly, we see how busy Iori is with her work and her manager’s trying to break up the relationship between the 2. But Seto’s still stubborn. At the same time, Seto, Teratani and their other friends receive some news that some stalker by the name of Marionette King is gonna make his move on Iori. Well, I guess that’s what being a superstar is all about. Besides fame and glory, you have to put up with stalkers and obsessed fans. So Seto had to be vigilant and ‘watched over’ Iori without her being noticed.
 
To save time, on Iori’s big day, the Marionette King is going in for the kill as Seto keeps his eyes peeled. So who is this Marionette King? He’s actually that school bully boss. Yup, now he looks like a mad zombie and his grudge over Iori is overflowing the Nile River. Just kidding. Well, he still wants to get back at her. Luckily Seto manages to spot him and before the Marionette King can act, they both engage in a fist fight. Their commotion manage to alert the security as they took the Marionette King into custody. Unfortunately, Seto got hit on the head during the fight and is bleeding profusely. Some flashback with the times he spent with Iori. I guess he’s happy, knowing that Iori’s safe.
 
And to make things worse, Seto’s in a coma when he’s admitted into hospital. Teratani, Yuka and Nami, even Seto’s parents were there except Iori. Yeah, looks like she’s being ‘forced’ by her manager to continue with her performance that she can’t go and see Seto. So Teratani and the 2 ladies thought that only Iori can lift Seto out of his coma as they rushed there to plead to Iori to come and see Seto at the hospital. But their attempts were being hindered by that manager. No words could persuade her. Yeah, I’m starting to hate her. Iori who’s partly in her make-up and costume came out to listen to them as they desparately try to persuade her to come and save Seto. But unfortunately, she apologized and couldn’t do so.
 
The 3 friends head back dejectedly to the hospital and thought the worse has come as they saw the nurses pushing Seto’s bed to somewhere. But rest assured, that Seto’s mom said that he’s got a phone call from Iori. And after putting the receiver next to Seto’s ear, Iori emotionally apologized how she couldn’t be there with him, how she’ll quit this show business once she’s done so that she can always be with him. And when she finally says "I love you from the bottom of my heart", like as though some sort of miracle (like those 3 magical words girls has to hear from guys), Seto slowly opened his eyes, much to everyone’s joy and relief.
 
And in the final closing scenes as the credit rolls, we see Seto on a rooftop playing some video in a CD he received from Itsuki, who spots a new hairstyle now, telling him how she found something better than sculpting, that is, she’s found herself a boyfriend! Kyaaa!!! And then she went on talking about achieving some dream and be happy with the person you love, that kind of stuff. Just as the video ends, Iori turned up and the 2 stared at each other for some time before they smiled and hold hands. That’s it? They didn’t kiss? Oh well, I guess it’s a start. And like Itsuki’s final words, whereby she congratulates Seto and say how he finally managed to catch his dream.
 
Before I conclude this series, I’d like to save time by blogging I”s OVA as well. That’s partly because before the I”s Pure series finished and while waiting for the remainding episodes, I decided to watch this one to see how different it was. Well, the main characters are still there, but the plots a little different.
 
This OVA is an earlier production of the I”s Pure series and it has only 2 episodes. Yup, 2 episodes only. To start things off in the first episode, we see some sort of flashback that Seto and his friends seeing off Itsuki at the airport. Yeah, she’s heading for USA. Fast forward to present day, during the summer holidays, Iori’s working as some actress in some commercial near some lakeside resort. And Seto who’s on some lone biking expedition inadvertently took a rest at the resort where Iori’s filming. More than just mere coincidence, huh? Hey, Teratani, along with Nami and Yuka, and some other guy, whom I forgot his name, are there too.
 
Meanwhile, Itsuki returns from the USA to fulfill some childhood promise made 10 years ago with Seto and Yosuke Ichimura (he looks kinda good-looking). And that place is at some small island in the middle of the lake called the Lover’s Island, which so happens to be near the lake resort as well. Okay, maybe not that close. And Yosuke’s also coming to fulfill that promise, but he’s riding his bike along with 3 other biker friends. Yosuke and Seto bumped (more like nearly collided) into each other during their way up but the latter didn’t recognize him as he’s wearing a full face helmet. And probably the former didn’t too because it was quite a distance when he turned back and looked over his shoulders to see if that guy he bumped into was okay. Looks like he is as Yosuke continues his journey.
 
But unfortunately, Yosuke finds out that his 3 biker friends’ intentions are to rape Itsuki. To his horror and shock, he tries to flee. But they’re hot on his tail. Wah! Can ride and handle a bike through such terrain wan ah? So terror meh?Meanwhile, Itsuki trekking alone on some old railroad, reminiscing about the good ol’ days when Yosuke suddenly turned up fleeing from his biker friends. Of course Itsuki’s pretty shocked and puzzled at first to see what’s going on. The bikers manage to corner Yosuke and they stabbed him! Oh, how cruel. Yosuke then fell off the cliff and into the lake. Hey, isn’t that the Love Island? Anyway, Itsuki who witnessed everything, screamed in horror. Those bikers realized that since there’s a witness, they just couldn’t let her go alive. And off another round of chase as Itsuki flees in desparation.
 
At the same time, Seto and Iori, who’s just finished with her filming, decides to row a boat to that Love Island. While on that island, Seto remembers the place when he, Itsuki and Yosuke visited while they’re young. We can see that during the flashback, Seto’s some sort of a ‘chicken’, afraid to do things, but he eventually plucked up his courage and followed the other 2. Meanwhile Iori and Seto heard screams from across the lake, and when they looked, Seto immediately recognized it’s Itsuki. Wow. Does he really have such ‘terror’ vision or hearing? I mean, at such a distance, maybe the place is echoey but to identify her from that far? Anyway, he quickly rows back leaving Iori behind alone on the island.
 
Back on the mainland, luckily Teratani and his friends were there or else, those bikers would’ve took Seto out easily. But the biker leader knocks out Itsuki and abducts her as Seto chases after him while Teratani and friends handle the other 2 and managed to overpower them. Then this part seems a little ‘exaggerated’ an ‘unreal’. Seto spots the bike leader below and Seto’s standing near some worn out bridge high from above. Just like in his flashback when he was young where he was too scared to cross it. Can’t be thinking about those things now. Then taking the rope of the bridge, he swings down like Tarzan and George Of The Jungle and in such great timing manages to grab Itsuki from the back as the bike leader crashes. Since there’s a stream nearby, they both fell into it.
 
Then here’s another far fetched scene. When Seto and Itsuki manage to regain consciousness, they saw a ghost-like figure of Yosuke standing nearby and telling them about the secret underground cave which leads to that Love Island. And since it’s pouring heavily, the rain is threatening to flood and wipe out that Love Island, which Iori is still there. Since the underground cave is partly submerged in water, Seto has to dive in, with a basketball as a floating device (?!), and quickly rescue Iori before it’s too late. And just like before, a perfectly orchestrated timing, he manages to do so and pull her back to safety as they drift back to the main island with that basketball.
 
Later, when it’s all sun shiny again, Seto, Iori, Itsuki were reunited with their other pals as they relaxed. We find out that the basketball is some sort of time capsule where the 3 friends buried it near there as some sort of a friendship thing. And lastly, Itsuki wonders where Yosuke has gone to as we see the police taking those bikers into custody and some search team looking for Yosuke’s body, the place where he fell into. Yeah, and we see him watching them from above near some dam before disappearing. What the? So, Yosuke’s really gone, huh? And that’s the end of this OVA.
 
Overall, in comparison, I would say I’d prefer the storyline in I”s Pure as I felt it was more decent. As mentioned, the storyline in I”s OVA seems a little more far fetched and there isn’t any love-chemsitry developments between Seto, Iori or Itsuki. It’s just one big misadventure, if I should call it. Plus, the drawing, art and colouring is much richer and brighter in the later series as compared to the previous OVA. Uh-huh, the earlier production, colouring seems a little mundane and ‘worn out’.
 
In addition, I also felt that the characters in I”s OVA didn’t play any significant part nor did it have any major impact throughout its 2 epsiodes. At least there’re some character developments in I”s Pure and even though they try to develop them slowly, but it’s still much better. And just like in both series, Itsuki’s part is like, ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ kinda feeling. Something like fillers. Only playing a role and making her ‘real’ appearance for a while. And that Teratani guy’s role in I”s OVA seems trivial and unimportant. Worse than a side role. Does beating up those bikers really count? Maybe only for that part.
 
Then there’s that Bonus Episodes prior to the release of I”s Pure. From first looks, it looked like hentai stuffs. Yup, showing the 2 girls, Iori and Itsuki, in their underwear and scenes of their body parts in sexy positions. Looks tempting but I didn’t watch it. Trust me. I wasn’t turned on or too fond of it. Maybe the contents different. But that’s what you get when you judge a book by it’s cover. I’ll just leave it there. I hope it isn’t anything that important.
 
But I’m glad that for both series, it ended well for the main characters. Well, maybe except for that Yosuke at the end part of I”s OVA. So I would suggest to watch I”s OVA first (well, duh!) before watching I”s Pure because I felt that if you do it the other way round, you might be a little disappointed, though both of them have a different set of storyline. That’s mainly because the latter series is definitely much better in quality.

Initial D

December 9, 2006

I must have been pulling the greatest disappearing act whenever it comes to watching Initial D – The First Stage. What do I mean? Somehow when it’s time to watch the show, I’ll be out most of the time, thus missing it. So you can also say that my absentee record for the show is quite high. So much so if this were to happen to me in real life, I’d be on the warning list and probation period.
 
But I manage to catch a few episodes here and there, especially the last few episodes of the first season. However it wasn’t enough in general to draw a detailed and in-depth analysis (yeah, right) for the overall anime. And since I’ve read a few episode summaries and guides here and there over the internet, I think I’ll probably get by (yeah, right also). So this is what I’ve figured out. Besides, how bad could it be, since there’re only 26 episodes in the first season, right (yeah, yeah hopefully).
 
We’ve got this 17 year old high school goer named Takumi Fujiwara who has a hidden talent for mountain and drift racing. And maybe it’s not just talent, he’s probably a racing prodigy. Of course, at first he isn’t aware about it. Since his cigarette smoking father, Bunta, runs a tofu shop, Takumi has to help out with the deliveries that customers made by delivering tofu orders through the mountainous and steep curvy roads of Mt Akina in his Toyota AE86 Trueno.
 
Because of that and in a way, that is where he hone his driving skills. How can one improve their driving skills by just delivering tofus, you ask? Well, it’s like this. Since Takumi has to do his deliveries at night, he wants to finish the job fast so that he can go home early. And that means, he’s got to drive fast and power slide through every turn and corner on Mt Akina. Plus, since he’s doing it nearly every night, he’s already memorized each and every nook and corner of the road. Yeah, looks like he can drive with his eyes closed too. But too much of doing something isn’t good. Because of this, he gets bored with driving, thus that’s why he looks expressionless with that ‘boring’ look. So much so that even when he’s driving he drives with one hand on the steering while he rests his right elbow on the side door at the same time supporting his right cheek with his clenched right fist. And all that with no expression on his face while driving too. That boring, huh? Besides this job, Takumi also works part time as a gas station attendant along with some of his classmate buddies.
 
Another thing I find amusing which also helped Takumi improved his driving skills is where before he sets off for his delivery, his dad would usually put a cup of water in the cup holder as some sort of a ‘tofu indicator’. Meaning? According to him, the tofu in the boot is just like the water in the cup and if the water spills out during the journey, then the tofu is ‘broken’. Vice versa. One can safely assume that the tofu would still be in good condition if the water didn’t spill throughout the journey. Uh-huh. And Takumi has become so good at it, that whenever he takes a corner at high speed, he doesn’t even spill a tiny drop. That’s damn good.
 
Takumi’s mundane life is about to change on one fateful night when he inadvertently beats a mountain racer guy named Keisuke Takahashi in a Mazda RX-7 FD3S. And this isn’t a race either. So what do you think if someone from some racing team gets beaten by a tofu driver delivery boy? It goes beyond his ego and it would be quite embarrassing too. So he wants a rematch with the mysterious driver of AE86. Yup, at first the incident spread like wild fire about the amazing and superb skills of the AE86 driver and nobody knew who it was. Takumi didn’t even suspect himself because firstly he isn’t interested in racing stuffs and secondly… he didn’t know that the car he was driving is AE86. Yeah, he just know it’s a Toyota Trueno, that’s all. *Smack*.
 
News of this even reach Takumi’s buddies, the loud and obnoxious (sometimes show-off) Itsuki Takeuchi and Iketani Kouichiro, both whom are racing fanatics. These 2 didn’t think at first that Takumi’s the mysterious driver behind AE86 as he seems pretty ignorant about racing stuffs at first. But later on, they eventually find out it’s him, to their shock. At first, Takumi’s pretty much reluctant to accept race challenges because… he’s not interested. Yeah, he doesn’t care for all that racer pride and ego crap. Even when Keisuke offers a rematch, he’s pretty sure 100% that the AE86 driver will turn up for it eventhough there wasn’t any reply.
 
But I guess, Takumi eventually had to give in as his father ‘blackmails’ him about something about using the car for the weekend, with a filled up tank. Something like that. So no harm, to try out, right? Yup, and so slowly bit by bit Takumi will be drawn into the underground world of mountain racing. And from there as he learns from other race drivers and gains experience to hone his superb driving skills. Plus, there’s one time where Itsuki pretends to be the mysterious AE86 driver, only to get himself into trouble. Thus, Takumi has no choice but to help his best friend out.
 
Hey, wait a minute. Did I say Takumi needs to use the car for the weekend? Okay, he’s got a girl admirer too, Natsuki Mogi, who is also Takumi’s classmate and possibly love interest. I’m not pretty sure how their relationship develops throughout the series. The last time I remembered, it’s like they both kinda like each other but not to the extend that they knew the other party has a crush on him/her. Some subtle hints here and there that you know suggests that he/she likes him/her. That kind of situation. But I think, the 2 would eventually develop into a couple. Maybe. I heard she does ‘compensated dating’ whereby school girls get paid to date older men. I’m not sure about this part but I read, that’s part of her character role. It’s going to be tough when the truth’s revealed. But I’ll just leave it there.
 
Later on in the series too, Takumi unofficially becomes part of a 4 member team called the Akina Speedstars. Besides having having Iketani as the team leader and Itsuki, the other member of the team is Kenji, who is Iketani’s best friend. I think he’s a non-high school goer as I don’t see him in the same class as the other 3, plus he hangs out with the gang at the gas station. Also, the owner of the gas station, Yuuichi Tachibana, is a very close friend of Bunta, and just like the latter in their younger years, he used to be a racer too.
 
It may seem at first that Itsuki and Iketani relies on Takumi to do the ‘talking’ during races as they know he’s their secret and ultimate weapon for victory. But they too wanted to improve their skills and practice them whenever they have the chance to do so. Well, they may learn a thing a two from Takumi but it’s a reciprocal thing as Takumi too learns from them. I like the part in one of the early episode where Iketani’s all hyped up and excited as he’s gonna see first hand Takumi’s driving skills. Sitting next to the driver’s seat, as Takumi’s speeding and approaching the first corner, Iketani then becomes afraid as he’s going too fast. Waaaarrrgh!!! He’s in for the ride of his life. And that slide and drifting… so close to the railing. Iketani’s eyes must be popping out. Yeah, he can’t believe it. And by the 3rd turn, he’s already passed out. Haha. Looks like he chickened out. He’s got a long way to go if he’s gonna be a successful mountain racer.
 
Also, this is the same scenario as Bunta takes the AE86 out for spin with Yuuichi sitting next to him in a much later episode towards the end of the series. Hahaha. Also same thing but Yuuichi didn’t faint. He’s just got the fright of his life. Though Bunta’s old and retired already, his skills seems to remain intact. Hey, one thing I noticed is that since Bunta’s eyes is always closed most of the time, I wonder how he keeps his eyes on the road. Yeah, it’s pretty funny to see him driving with his ‘closed eyes’. And your driving instructor always tell you to keep your eyes peeled at all times on the road. So funny and weird. Maybe he knows every inch of the road in his head still. I think his name is derived ironically from the malay word ‘buta’ meaning blind. Hehehe. Just made that up.
 
Okay, now the races that Takumi tackled in the first season. As far as I’m concerned, he had 6 races in total. And to sum it all up, he won each one of them. Well, it wouldn’t be right if the hero loses, right? If so, then there wouldn’t be any other racers to challenge him since he lost and they would then want to challenge that racer who beat the AE86. Seems pretty logical to me.
 
So the first race Takumi raced with is of course the rematch between him and Keisuke, a member of the race team Akagi Redsuns. So it’s like this for this race and for the rest of the other races. As the 2 slide and drift from corner to corner, closely trailing each other, pursuing side by side, we see some in-depth race analysis from the racer’s point of view and sometimes predicting what his opponent is gonna do. Some close up on the driver’s face because there’s nothing else better to show other than the action from outside the car in a heated neck to neck battle. A lot of techno music to pump one’s adrenaline and get viewers into the mood.
 
And since it’s a long and winding road, there’re some sort of ‘reporters’ who report back through some walkie-talkie, to the main teams waiting at the start and finish line the current situation when the racers zoom past them. And in most races, Takumi is usually trailing his opponent from behind, watching and observing his every move. Then just a few turns before the finish line, Takumi would pull off some terror overtaking slidiing and drifting manoevure and overtake his opponent, or his opponent makes a little mistake which gives Takumi an opportunity to overtake, then the AE86 will accelarate straight home pass the chequered flag. And sometimes the opponent would be in a little shocked that they lost to the AE86 driver at first, but later acknowledges and respects his supreme and excellent driving skills. They would probably expect a lot from him in future races. And so that’s the case for Keisuke. Yup, he lost for the second time. Now Takumi’s reputation is fast growing among the world of the underground racers.
 
So Takumi’s next opponent is the leader of the racing team Myogi Night Kids, Takeshi Nakazato in a black Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec II. Takeshi’s pretty surprised that such a talented Keisuke could lose to an unknown newcomer. Thus, he decides to challenge Takumi and defeat him. But you know what? The same thing. He lost too.
 
Then Takumi’s third opponent is also from Myogi Night Kids racing team. He is Shingo Shouji who is a skilfull but dangerous driver in his Honda Civic EG6. Although he is part of the Myogi Night Kids, he detests Takeshi and sees him unfit to be the leader of the team. Yup, he’s got his own agenda to be the leader of this racing team. And his gonna do it by proving that he can take down the AE86 driver in a handicapped race called the Death Match. Uh-huh, this guy thinks that racing normally uphill and downhill Mt Akina is boring so he suggests that they duct tape one of their hands to the steering wheel while they race throughout the racing duration. Of course this would limit the driver’s steering and turning capabilities, but Shingo finds it fun and exciting. Unfortunately, Takumi beats Shingo at his own game. Another win notched up for the AE86 and the Akina Speedstars.
 
The next opponent Takumi faced would be a little different. Why? Firstly, the opponent’s a female by the name of Mako Satou who drives a Nissan SilEighty. Secondly, they’re not racing at Mt Akina, but at Usui, which is Mako’s racing home ground. Actually, Takumi got into this because of Iketani in the first place. Yeah, that guy seems to like Mako and since Mako’s gonna retire from such racing, she wants to race with AE86 and beat him as her farewell gift. So Iketani tried to persuade Takumi to go race with her but eventually regretted his actions for being selfish. However Takumi said he wouldn’t mind as he wants to try out a different track.
 
Besides, Mako has a best friend which is her co-driver as well during races, Sayaka. I wonder why she’s bring along an extra passenger during races. I mean, don’t you think there’s a little unnecessary extra weight there? Inseparable best friends is one thing, but this? Dunno. Yeah, I also felt that Sayaka’s sometimes like a backseat driver, at times commenting on things, suggesting what Mako should do and from time to time critisizing her (just to lift her fighting spirits). So as expected, our dear Takumi manages to beat and amaze Mako and Sayaka at their home ground. This proves that Takumi can also learn and adapt quickly anywhere at any condition. See, he’s such a talented and expert racer.
 
By this time, Takumi must have already made his mark in the underground racing world and gained attention from other racers. So finally, the leader of the Akagi Redsuns racing team, Ryosuke Takahashi, who is also Keisuke’s older brother, offered his challenge to race with Takumi. Actually, he made his appearance quite early in the series when Keisuke’s battling Takumi. But he didn’t want to jump on the I-must-beat-that-AE86-driver bandwagon as he isn’t prepared yet. At least this guy’s thinking. This guy has also some terror reputation in the underground racing world, like he’s never lost a race before. Thus this race between him and Takumi is viewed as some ‘ultimate giant battle of the kings’ and fans of the sport wouldn’t miss the chance to watch them battle it out. Hey, even Natsuki’s there to watch the race.
 
But before this battle, we’ve got a little ‘side show’ battle between Keisuke and Takeshi. Yup, those 2 who were beaten by the AE86 decides to race to see who gets the right to have their rematch again with AE86 in the future. I think it’s like that lah. So for the first time, there’s no AE86 involved in the race. That’s why I say it’s a ‘side show’. Hehe. Anyway, Keisuke won the race. Takeshi says that he accepted his defeat to Keisuke this time because he was lucky. But Keisuke denied and told him that he won based on his skill and not luck.
 
As Takumi gets ready for the rest, he’s stopped by an aspiring young member of the Akagi Redsuns, Kenta Nakamura. He looks up and admires Keisuke a lot and he wants to prove his mark in the team by going up against Takumi by telling him that in order to have the right to race with Ryosuke, Takumi has to beat him first. So, this is Takumi’s fifth opponent, though most viewers won’t regard it as an actual race, but I do. That’s because, this race is the shortest and only lasts for 1 epsiode. Maybe even shorter than that.
 
But beware though, even though Kenta’s still an amateur driver in his Nissan Silvia S14, he’s specialized in rainy and wet conditions, because he believes such wet conditions wouldn’t wear his tyres out so easily. Yup, and just Takumi’s luck that it’s starting to drizzle that night. As mentioned, Takumi’s a fast learner and adapter when it comes to races. And since Kenta’s still a rookie, which mean that this race already belongs to Takumi, though Kenta made a good start at first.
 
And so the final race begins. But this race is a little different from the rest which made Takumi sweat and worried a little. Why? Could it be because he is the big boss of all bosses? Nope. As the roads of Mt Akina are narrow, you can’t actually race side by side for the entire duration. So it’s usually one car leading and the other chasing. Yup, for the first time, Takumi’s in front and Ryosuke in his Mazda Savanna FC3S is following him close by behind. Ryosuke’s at an advantage because he gets to watch, observe and analysis Takumi as he heads into each corner first. And that’s what’s Takumi’s been doing all these previous races. No more that boring expressionless look now, huh?
 
And maybe part of the tension caused Takumi to lose a little focus and he made a little mistake. This of course opened up an opportunity for Ryosuke to overtake him, which he did. Not only that, Takumi’s losing a little ground after that mistake and there’s a gap opening between them. Is Takumi gonna lose this one? Well, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. After some self-encouragement and self-believing words and thoughts, Takumi manages to catch up once again and he did an impossible and unthinkable move (at least that’s what Ryosuke thinks) at the last corner and overtook him. As Takumi accelerates towards the finish line, Ryosuke knew he had been beaten already and decelerates even before he crosses the line.
 
Yahoo! The whole Akina Superstars are in ecstasy. They couldn’t believe it. They’ve won! They’ve beaten and overcome the toughest of their adversaries. And the underground racing world will now hail the new champion! With that, Ryosuke temporarily ‘retires’ from racing. Meaning he won’t be actively involved in races but will so in the background as he has faith in his younger brother to take the team to glory. After some ‘after race’ talk between Takumi and Ryosuke, they parted ways.
 
And this is just the beginning for Takumi. Yeah, there’ll be even more challengers who wants a piece of AE86 and beat him for ultimate success. I guess when you’re at the top, everybody wants to take you down. Probably it’s the faster way of achieving fame and glory by just beating the top guy rather than going through file and rank, beating lowly and inferior subordinates to mediocre henchmen to high end sub-bosses.
 
That’s the case as the series has gone to produce another tv series like the second stage and fourth stage, and even a full-length movie third stage. And there’re also the extra stage and battle stage as OVA. Plus, I’ve read somewhere that they’re even in production of the fifth stage and will soon be released somewhere in 2007. Wow! That’s a lot of races Takumi has to go through.
 
But my guess that Takumi is gonna win everyone of them. You know the reason, right? If there’s any race he lost, I’m sure it won’t be a significant one or there’s some catch to it. In addition, I don’t think the other stages will be entirely on Takumi, maybe a little focus on the other racers that Takumi has beaten and perhaps their battles with other new racers. I guess that’s how the main storyline will be.
 
However, I’m not planning to watch all those sequels and OVAs because since I’ve missed quite a lot here, most probably I won’t be able to understand things in the next. Though, in the first season, there’re are some detailed explanation of terms and stuffs about mountain racing and drifting, but I don’t seem to get it. Since, I’m not the kind of guy who’s into cars, so I guess everything here seems alien and too technical to me.
 
Music wise, though I’m not a fan of techno music, but I somehow felt that such music played during the races were quite appropriate. Yeah, each racing scene accompanied by those background techno music gets me a little excited to see the races. Hey, you can’t have slow country folk or blues music in such situation, can’t you? Besides, it’s a racer’s kind of music. Don’t you notice, those racer wannabes with modified cars, playing such loud bass thumping music that could almost shake the ground? Also some Japanese rap and rock songs here and there and slow ones during those non-racing moments. Nothing that memorable, though. The ending credits unlike many other animes, partly shows the band performing for that particular ending theme instead of the all-animation art throughout its duration.
 
As for the drawing, the series mixes 2D with 3D computer graphics. The latter is usually used for when the cars are duelling it out. It seems pretty cool and awesome though with those high speed chases and when the cars slide and drift into the corner. But as for the 2D drawing. It sucks. Sorry if the word seemed so strong. That’s because the characters here seemed ‘ugly’. Yeah, especially the girls. They just looked plain horrible. Even I think the prettiest one, Natsuki, doesn’t seem that pretty at all. Though the guys are better looking but they still look ugly. Must be the lips. And Itsuki looks more like a clown (in which case, his character’s supposed to be a clown, providing some comic relief). Even the Hong Kong movie production several years ago which stars Jay Chou, Chapman To, Edison Chen and Anne Suzuki looked much more handsome and prettier.
 
But I saw a few clips of the second stage and it looks like the drawing and art has improved a little. Though, generally the characters still have that ‘ugly’ look, but the drawing seems smoother and brighter as compared to the first stage. Also, the colouring here looks brighter and not too dark and dull as the previous one.
 
I can’t really say much about the character development as I didn’t stay and watch through every second of the series (okay, that was a little exaggerating). But by the end I could see that other than Takumi growing into a skilled driver, he seems find his calling and becomes excited again not only when he’s racing but as a spectator as well. And most probably in the sequels, we’ll get to see how Takumi and Natsuki’s relationship develops since Natsuki also accepts Takumi as a racer by the end of the first season. And maybe involvement of the other members of the Akina Superstars in mountain races. Their personal problems, their fight, their struggle, you know those things which made friends bond even closer.
 
So one final word though. DO NOT try and imitate or get into mountain or drift racing. No matter how interesting it looks or how talented you are, this is for entertainment purposes only. Just be a spectator and just watch the series. DO NOT get involve because IT IS ILLEGAL AND DANGEROUS. *Sighs*. Looks like I’m doing some community service here. Hehehe. But will people listen? Not when there’s so much ‘pride and ego’ on the line. Maybe. Maybe not.

Kyou No Go No Ni

December 8, 2006

Well, what more can I say about Kyou No Go No Ni. It’s another one of those OVA anime series. Meaning that it has only 2 episodes worth approximately 30 minutes of show time. Why only 2 episodes? Because this series is based on the short-lived manga of the same name with only 1 volume! Yeah, that’s pretty short all right.
 
This comedy-romance series has some ecchi elements in it. That’s probably the main reason why it’s funny in the first place. But don’t worry, the ecchi-ness isn’t that bad in the sense that it becomes hardcore hentai. That’s why it’s only ecchi. So good thing too no full blown bare chested naked girls since the girls here are kiddie-like and just reaching puberty, thus no big bust and oversized breasts.
 
So what’s this series about? It’s about this 5th grader boy named Ryota Sato and how he gets into ecchi troubles and situations with his 5th grader girl classmates. Though he isn’t the perverted kind (okay, maybe slightly and at times), due to some unfortunate circumstances, he ends up in one beyond his control and is usually in a pinch or misunderstood.
 
Each of the episodes are divided into 5 short stories in which sees how Ryota has his ‘unfortunate experience’. The first episode seems to be more like one-on-one, meaning Ryota and introducing 1 of his girl classmates for that particular episode’s ‘weird misadventure’. So 1 different girl for 1 short story. Though the rest of the other girls made their appearance that well, but they aren’t ‘directly involved’. Whereas in the second episode it isn’t like that and more of them were ‘involved’ instead of 1. At least I felt that way.
 
Anyway, this is what each of the short stories of Ryota’s encounter. In the first part of episode 1, it’s between Ryota and a seemingly no-expression and never-smile-before girl, Kazumi Aihara. The 2 were suppose to finish up some class report together and had to stay back after class to complete it. And that Kazumi girl has a habit of biting things so much so that one of her tooth is loose and is gonna come off. The ecchi part is where Ryota has a paper cut on his index finger and Kazumi just like some spontaneous impulse took hand suck his finger! And she’s seemingly sucking it so… passionately. The scene looked like… well… ahem ahem. And Ryota’s seemingly enjoying it… passionately. Is he? Well at first, but later when he realized that she’s sucking to long, he quickly removed his finger, only thing, Kazumi’s tooth came out due to his pulling force. Kazumi thanks him for pulling it out and then says that she has another baby tooth and if Ryota could lend her his other finger. Haha.
 
The second short story is between Ryota and Yuuki Asano. During class, one of Ryota’s classmates, Kouji Imai and Tsubasa Kawai, brought some porn magazine to class, much to Yuuki and the other girl’s disgust. And his buddies are somehow implicating Ryota into it as they’re asking him to tell the girls that a woman’s breats is what makes a woman. But he just simply mentions that the most sensual part of a woman’s body is… the collarbone. Huh?!. I guess everybody’s a little shock over his answer. And at the playground after school, Ryota seems to be having some ‘lecture’ about the collarbone thingy to his ‘followers’. As he took a break and heads for the drinking fountain, he met Yuuki who’s there for the same reason. As Ryota offered her to drink first, he somewhat admiring and staring at Yuuki’s chest. When Yuuki realized what he was doing, she felt embarrassed and violated. Ryota thought he may have violated her in a way by staring at her chest and apologizes profusely. But Yuuki then mentioned that although it’s weird, he’s staring at her collarbones. Yeah, because earlier on her friends were mentioning to her how ‘revealing’ her collarbone is. Is that a sign of relief or shock for Ryota. Anyway, Yuuki still calls him a pervert and splashes the fountain water onto him. Hahaha.
 
The third story sees how Ryota lost a one-on-one football match with Natsumi Hirakawa during PE period. Because the former lost, he has to reluctantly help her by finding some cones for some sport event in the sports store room. But they couldn’t find it as their PE teacher, Tamura, locks the door, thinking they may have left without closing up properly. When the 2 found out that they’re being locked in, Natsumi begins to feel afraid as she’s scared of the dark. Ryota saw this as his means of revenge for his earlier lost. So he just dropped some ball and Natsumi got so afraid that in her panic, she grabbed on to the nearest thing, which was Ryota’s pants, pulling it down and screaming!!! Of course, Ryota’s trying to pull it back up. As Tamura and some of his students heard some noise over at the store room, they opened the door and saw them both in that… ahem ahem… blow job position!!! Ryota caught with his pants down!!! And since Natsumi’s crying and saying how scary it was (referring to the darkness rather than that perverted situation as everyone else was thinking), Tamura thought that Ryota did something to her and proceeds to pound him properly. Hahahaha. Too bad Ryota. This is my favourite story among the others.
 
In the fourth story, Ryota over ate and is experiencing some stomach discomfort as he heads to the infirmary to rest. As he’s resting, his girl classmate Megumi Hidaka enters the infirmary too. He manages to spot her but before he can do anything, Megumi’s undressing herself! She’s stripping down to her undies! Why? Because she’s weighting herself on a scale and she’s a little conscious about her weight and which isn’t at a satisfying level at the moment. She even took off her glasses as she thought it was also contributing to her ‘heaviness’. Is Ryota enjoying this? His facial expression seems like he’s gonna be in for trouble if he don’t get away. Unfortunately, he slipped and fell out of bed. And as Megumi turned and looked, Ryota thought he was in trouble as she’s staring for quite a while. But then, Megumi said to herself that she can’t see anything without her glasses. Phew. Saved by the glasses. As she went to put on her glasses, Ryota manage to slip away and hide somewhere. Megumi then looked at the scales and noticed her weight has dropped to the normal level as she jumped with joy. I guess Ryota’s a bit relieved too.
 
The last story of episode 1 is between Ryota and his classmate Chika Koizumi. Well, they’re more than just classmates, in fact childhood friends, as mentioned by Ryota. But Chika doesn’t think and feel that way. Yup, looks like this girl has a secret crush on Ryota. During after class, Ryota has some itch in his eye while trying to complete his homework and Chika had an idea to get rid of his itch without him rubbing it (wink, wink). First she asked him to close his eyes real tight and not to open them. Then she slowly proceeds into a kissing position and is gonna kiss his lips. Unfortunately, their classmates who happened to pass by saw what’s gonna happened and sounded the ‘surprised’ alarm. Of course, Ryota and Chika would be shock at first and bumped each other heads. Ouch. As they asked what were they doing, Chika then told Ryota that she was just fooling with him, leaving the others in stitches as they thought they were having a moment of intimacy. Later as Ryota says how it sucks with his eyes still itchy, Chika also mentioned the same. but Ryota’s still unaware what Chika’s planning earlier on. Oh well, yet so close, yet so far.
 
The ecchi-ness continues in episode 2. In the first part, we see Ryota and Kouji having some duel to see who’s rubber ball can bounce higher. Nearby, Kazumi, Yuuki and Megumi were chatting when the rubber balls dropped on their heads. Of course, the girls approached them. Then the 2 wanted to try again and as they did, the balls bounced up and lifted the skirts of Megumi and Yuuki, revealing their undies. Though Ryota and Kouji saw it, they make donno and played dumb, much to the 2 girl’s annoyance. As Ryota walks away, Yuuki went after him asking him to apologize. However, she stepped on one of the rubber balls and in a way when she slipped, her right foot kicked Ryota’s crotch. OUCH!!! And Kouji and Tsubasa’s thinking that she’s gone too far. Of course Yuuki says it’s a misunderstanding. That doesn’t help when Kazumi says "nice kick" and gives a thumbs up. Maybe Ryota deserves it in a way.
 
Ryota’s having lunch at the canteen in the second story when he suddenly bumps into Kouji causing him to loose his balance. Good thing is he didn’t spill his soup he was carrying. Bad news is, he managed to find his balance, but only after he accidentily pushed and squeezed a small packet box of milk onto Megumi’s face. And they show the milk being squeezed out in slo-mo and in various different shots. And the milk covering all over Megumi’s face right down to her top part of her chest looked like some porn… ahem ahem. You know lah. And as Ryota stares (yeah, he must be fantasizing about it), he inadvertently spills his soup onto Yuuki’s lap, which looked like some porn… ahem ahem. Of course the 2 are mad at Ryota but they need to dry their clothes as they stayed in the infirmary. But because they had some meeting, they borrowed Natsumi’s clothes for a while and said they’ll be back soon. Yup, so Natsumi’s in her undies now and stays put in the infirmary.
 
Later Ryota who’s feeling a little bad about the whole incident, decides to head down there and apologize. But as he arrived, he’s surprised to find Natsumi sleeping there instead of Megumi and Yuuki. As he pokes her face to wake her up to ask why, Natsumi turns in her sleep revealing her semi-naked half. Wargh! Ryota’s in a dilemma. He must be enjoying it since he’s staring so long. Or maybe it’s just the slo-mo camera at different shots. Unfortunately, Megumi and Yuuki returned. And they’re pretty mad to see Ryota there, though he’s just standing there watching. And before he could explain himself, the 2 girls beat him up. I guess it serves him right too.
 
In the third part, Ryota doesn’t play an active role nor is this story that ecchi. Here, Kazumi and Yuuki are supposed to do some observation report and are bored to death as they need to observe something which doesn’t move. Then they noticed Ryota sleeping with a note saying that he’ll beat anybody up if they try to wake him up. So the 2 recorded and observed Ryota’s reactions and whatever sounds he make when they try out different stuffs to make him awake like holding his mouth shut and even a soft blow to his ear. But it looks like he can sleep through all that. Finally, Kazumi tried bitting his ear! At first they thought it didn’t work. But soon Ryota wakes up and asks the girls if they did anything to him. Then Kazumi replied that Kouji and Tsubasa pulled his ear and ran away. Wah! That’s a big lie. Scary. And when Kouji and Tsubasa comes in, a very angry Ryota took some skipping rope and proceeds to whip the 2, who’re still unaware of what’s going on. Pity them lah. But now the girls know what he’ll do when he’s being abruptly awaken.
 
There isn’t anything that ecchi either in the fourth part and most probably is the most boring one. Ryota and his 2 pals noticed how Kazumi never smiles and so they device a plan to make her smile like making funny faces and armpit tickling. But it didn’t work. Then Chika suggests that they do it by force. Unfortunately, Kazumi ran away first before they could get a hold of her. Chika eventually manage to catch her and they both tickled themselves to laughter. Yeah and it looked a bit like some yuri there. When the boys arrived, they saw the 2 girls tired out. At least Kazumi smiled a bit there. And in the closing scenes, we see Chika and Kazumi tickling each other’s face with a brush…?! And just like what Ryota said, they looked like they’re enjoying it.
 
And in the last story of the episode, we see a flashback whereby a young Ryota and Chika are arguing over something. Back to present time, Ryota’s has that uneasy feeling of walking home togehter with Chika, because the latter requested it. Plus, Chika asked him to come over to her house since he had nothing to do for the rest of the day. Well, he reluctantly agreed. Ryota’s mind must be running wild and his heart beating (more to worrying than pleasure) when they reached Chika’s home and she told him that no one else is in but the 2 of them. And in her room, the 2 sitting on her bed at a distance, some uneasy atmosphere there, blush blush, shy shy, and some deep thinking from Ryota.
 
When Chika wanted to ask Ryota something, he chickened out and head for the bathroom instead. And while he’s in there, he’s imagining Chika in a sexy position with a tempting sexy voice tone and sexy look. Anyway, Ryota decided that he’d go straight back home. Unfortunately, in a twist of events he’s being thrown by Chika onto her bed! Yes, she’s on top of him!!! Ryota’s a little worried but Chika seems like she can’t control her feelings anymore. Oh, those eyes. And those words like ‘I know you want it’ and ‘take it like a man’. Yup, she’s gonna kiss Ryota as he’s desparately pleading for her to stop.
 
Pooof! Well, all that was just Ryota’s dream as he awakens in his classroom to find Chika pestering him about giving her some chicken keychain. Ah well, too good to be true, huh? And Ryota’s laughing like an idiot because that dream seemed like a surprise to him and when Chika asked what’s so funny he says it’s her, much to her annoyance. But still Ryota refused to give her the keychain and they both argue just like in the earlier flashback.
 
Overall, this short OVA series seems pretty okay to me. I mean with the ecchi stuffs making Ryota’s misadventures amusing and hilarious, it’s nothing too flashy. Just enough to make me have some good laughs that’s all. And since they’re all 5th graders, most of the girls here are more towards just cute rather than the typical teenager bishoujo beautiful.
 
I somehow find that the first episode was more funnier as compared to the second episode. Probably I’ve come to set in my mindset of what to expect in the next episode. Thus, increasing my treshold of expectation for the second episode. But I suppose it’s still good for a few laughs here and there.
 
Also read that some viewers didn’t like this anime as they think it was ‘dumb’ and a waste of time. Probably they felt that those ecchi sexual innuendos seemed like kiddie porn. And if you don’t mind all that stuffs, probably you may want to watch it when you really have too much free time on your hands or perhaps you’ve watched every single anime produced and need to watch something whether it’s out of curiosity or just to satisfy your anime craving and fix. Or maybe if you’re just feeling a little ‘horny’…

Samurai 7

December 2, 2006

Somehow, I seemed to be glued to the tv screen whenever I watch those action scenes of Samurai 7. Yup, I’m so totally engrossed in it that I become lost in time and time seems to rather fly by quickly during those moments. Yup, it’s been quite a while since I’ve watched an anime like that. Though, there some slow parts, but generally this series manage to retain that interest and excitement in me till the very end.
 
Based on the 1954 classic movie by Akira Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai, this action-adventure anime of course has been adapted and modified to fit as a 26 episode series. Though, I have not watch the movie before, but I’m sure there’s a little deviation or modification to the original plot. I mean, how can one stretch a 2 hour movie into 13 hours worth of air time.
 
Which leads me to 2 points which made the anime different from the movie in a way. Firstly, the series is set in some post-apocalyptic and feudal kind of atmosphere. Uh-huh, there’s a mix and blend of the past and future here from infrastructures to technology. Yup, there’re futuristic robots and mechas here and there in addition to your typical feudal samurais. So it’s kinda weird at first, but then you’ll get used to this uniqueness.
 
Secondly, the art and animation. One thing I’d noticed is that besides the samurai heroes and a few of the peasants, the rest of the other characters drawn in the series are somewhat ‘simple and ugly’. Like as though, there isn’t enough attention to detail given to them. And there’re those with weird facial structures like their head seems a little to big and their teeth sticking out too big for their mouths. Weird looking wierdos. Maybe that’s the aftermath for the so called survivors of the post-apocalypse era. Yeah, which means the only good looking characters are those mentioned above.
 
Plus, the dressing of the characters in the series are somewhat of a ‘fashion disaster’. Not only their clothing desings are weird but even their facial make-up are horrible! Is this what it’s supposed to be the fashion of the future, especially the elites. More like fashion freaks, I’d say. Men and women from upper class with too much make-up and are overly dressed. Probably it’s the trend in such an era.
 
Furthermore, since the series mixes 2D animation with 3D computer graphics, each episode costs a whooping 32.5 million Yen to make! That’s really really really expensive for just an episode, just like how Beast Wars were made in the USA. I wonder if the costs can be covered? But nevertheless, I guess it’s partly also that the 3D computer graphics that they blend in during the action sequence attracted me as well.
 
Moving on, the plot is something like this. As usual, in a time where the governing emperor rules with an iron fist, the common people living under its rule would of course be oppressed and living in fear. One of such village is a small rice planting community, Kanna village, who has to face the Nobuseris (bandits) every harvest season. Yup, they return everytime to seize the crops after all their hard work and efforts. Reminds you like the case in Disney’s A Bug’s Life.
 
But recently, the Nobuseris have become much bolder. Not only taking their crops but women and children from their village to the Capital (which is actually a very huge gigantic floating palace) as well. Fed-up with this year-in year-out problem, the village elder and head decides to put a stop to this once and for all. But how is he gonna do it? Yes, he’s gonna hire samurais to help defend and protect the village from the Nobuseris. Unfortunately, because they’re poor farmers and peasants, they don’t have enough money to do so. So how are they gonna pay the samurais as a reward? With rice, of course. Yup, as the village head said, hire samurais that are hungry for rice.
 
Thus, as seen in the first episode, he sends off 3 of his people to hire samurais for their cause. They are Rikichi, whose wife, Sanae has been taken away by the Nobuseris, and the reason why he’s so eager to go on this trip, the water priestess Kirara, who posseses some special water pendant which detects the flow of water and also able to sense samurais with ‘battlefield scent’ by glowing (huh?!), and Kirara’s genki and innocent little sister, Komachi, who just wants to tag along.
 
By the way, if you’re wondering why the Nobuseris are so mechanized like Gundam or Vandread or any other mecha robots, it’s because of something like those ronins (masterless samurais) traded and converted their bodies into huge and gigantic robots during the previous war. And since that large scale war between human samurais and Nobuseris ended with an ‘uneasy peace’ with the former lost and retreated, the Nobuseris now serve as ‘robbers’ to the current ruling emperor. Sad. Hey, there’s one type of robot which looked like an oversized dustbin. Haha.
 
Anyway, back to the story. When the 3 peasants arrived at the main city, it wasn’t smooth sailing for them. They had lots of trouble hiring the samurais they much needed. They had to beg and offer their rice to any passing samurai in hopes of getting them hired. But it seems their efforts were all in vain at first. The worse part is, after that ‘potential’ samurai had had their fill of rice, they just simply shrugged their offer off and walked away. So bloody rude!!! They even had the cheek to comment and say that nobody would take up such and offer or it’s too dangerous and risky and things like that. I wish I could just smack them on their head. Pity those peasants lah.
 
Well, at least if they tried a thousand times, then there would at least be 1 who would take up their offer. I wouldn’t say he’s the first samurai to be hired and the peasants didn’t exactly hire him at first, due to his lack of ‘battlefield scent’. Yup, he’s Katsushiro Okamoto, an inexperienced green horn who’s never been in any battle before and probably thinks that this will be his chance to do so. Even if Kirara advice the rest not to take him, but Katsushiro sticked around to help them with their cause (I think it’s probably he likes Kirara too). At least he’s got that noble samurai code thingy which he firmly believes in.
 
The peasants think they’d found what they’re looking for when Kirara’s pendant glow while a samurai named, Kanbei Shimada passes them. And to make things certain for them, they witnessed how he manage to stop some hostage drama and rescue them with his wit. Yeah, and there’s that giant size brute half robot half human samurai, Kikuchiyo, who’s also trying to help stop the hostage drama, but inadvertently became Kanbei’s ‘tool’ in stopping it.
 
However, Kanbei declined their offer when the peasants told him about their circumstances. As for Kikuchiyo, he decided to join in. But the peasants are still adamant of wanting to hire Kanbei. However, at the same time, during the peasants’ expedition in the city, Ukyo, the son and heir of some rich merchant, notices Kirara and is taken in by her beauty. Unfortunately, as mentioned by his bodyguard, Tessai, he’s unable to get her phone number (just kidding) as he has to attend some meeting with his dad, Ayamaro.
 
So by episode 2, Ukyo devises a plan to kidnap Kirara. And that’s what happened. I guess this guy loves harem too. And he’s thinking of making Kirara part of his harem. Fortunately enough, Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo tries to rescue her, though they had a hard time trying to get passed Ukyo’s very skilled bodyguards. Actually, Katsushiro seems weak and that Kikuchiyo is just using his brawns rather than his brains.
 
Eventually, Kirara manage to escape by herself, and in a desparate attempt, she jumps off the high building. Well, actually she saw Kanbei from a far and she took a gamble that he would save her. Yup, he did. And it’s a free fall! Wow! I didn’t know that a samurai’s sword can be used as a braking mechanism. At that height and speed they’re falling, the sword is still pretty much intact. I guess that’s how ‘terror’ a samurai sword is. Not only that, later as the show progress, you’ll find that a samurai’s sword is even more ‘terror’ than it looks. Yup, it can slice through anything and even thick solid metal much better than hot knife through butter. They make it so easy and unbeliveable. Plus, the samurai sword can also reflect any laser or beams, big or small, powerful or weak, way better than any mirror! Really wow! I’ve got to get myself a samurai sword.
 
Anyway, after Kanbei saved Kirara, they along with the others manage to regroup at some secluded spot and the peasants again begged for him to join them. Well, I guess Kanbei has no choice but to give in eventually, much to the peasant’s joy. Yay! The first samurai hired. But the wise and mature Kanbei said that he would need a total of 7 samurais for this. Why 7? Besides the title, I can’t think of any other reasons. Including himself, that means he needs 6 more. And nope, Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo don’t count according to Kanbei as the former’s too inexperienced and the latter is just ‘dumb and in-the-way’, much to Kikuchiyo’s annoyance. But that doesn’t deter the 2 from helping the peasants. In addition, Katsushiro is amazed by Kanbei’s amazing skills and wants him to be his teacher and learn great things from him.
 
By episode 3, the gang heads out to recruit more samurais. To save time, the 2nd samurai hired is Gorobei Katayama, an ex-samurai who’s living a life as an entertainer. A light-hearted fellow, he’s quite a skilled person and has the ability to dodge arrows. Cool. Unfortunately, Ayamaro sends a couple of assassins to get rid of them. And with some cool action and moves, the assassins were easily despatched off.
 
In episode 4, Ayamaro sends 2 of his bodyguards, Kyuzo and Hyougo to take care of things. Yup, and it’s here where Kanbei and serious-looking and taciturn Kyuzo had their duel. Kanbei saw that Kyuzo posses amazing samurai skills and offered him to join the group. Unfortunately, Kyuzo declined and saying that he wasn’t interested. Their duel ended when Kikuchiyo clumsily interrupted them. And since both of them had grazed each other’s neck a little, I guess you could call it a draw.
 
By the way, among the 7 samurais, Kyuzo is my personal favourite. Yeah, I like the way he uses his double wielding sword. The way he unsheaths them, the way he holds them, the way he slice and dice with them. Ooohh… Go Kyuzo! And that crimson red coat dressing makes his appearance even more appealing and good looking! No I’m not falling in love with him as a gay!!! I just simply admire him, that’s all.
 
The third samurai is hired by episode 5. He’s the mechanical genious, Heihachi Hayashida, who loves eating rice more than anything else. The gang found him while he’s chopping some fire woods for a tea shop. And Heihachi proves his ingenuity to the gang when Hyougou launches an assault on them.
 
And by episode 6, the gang have to flee from the city as the representative for the emperor has been found assassinated and the samurais are being framed for it. Well, they made it looked like a samurai did it, since a samurai sword was left there. And so a bounty is attached on their heads as the samurais along with the peasants try and flee from the city and head for Kanna village. I didn’t get this part where by the end of the episode as Kikuchiyo didn’t manage to hop off some train as it crashed. Luckily the others manage to do so but for a moment there I thought he died. But he couldn’t because he’s part robot, right? Plus, he’s part of the seven samurai, right? Just not yet officially. Then by the beginning of the next episode, we still see him running away from the imperial army here and there as the rest of the gang had gone ahead without him. Hey, I thought Komachi stopped Kanbei, didn’t she?
 
The fourth samurai, Shichiroji, who’s Kanbei’s old friend and comrade decides to leave his retired and relaxing life and join Kanbei in his quest in episode 7. Yeah, Kikuchiyo manage to reunite with the them. The gang had a little rest and replenishment at his inn co-managed by Shichiroji’s love interest, Yukino. Unfortunately all that is cut short when Ukyo’s men are hot on their tails and closing in. But they manage to lose them by using some underground passage waterway, not before Katsushiro getting injured in the process. So in episode 8, the gang discovers another rice planting village underground, who’s also under the same circumstances as Kanna village. Here, they befriended a young girl, Honoka, who mentioned too that her younger sister, Mizuki, has being taken away to the Capital. Here also, the samurais decided to watch only as the Nobuseris go about their usual business, much to Rikichi’s anger. Luckily Gorobei manage to put some sense into him by trying not to act so rash.
 
As Katsushiro’s condition improves, Kanbei appoints him as the fifth samurai for his bravery, much to his joy. But at the same time, Kikuchiyo decides to go do things his way as he sneaked out of the underground lair only to be captured by Kyuzo and Hyougo, who’re waiting for him just right outside the cave mouth. Aww, too bad. Thus, in episode 9, no doubt how annoying is Kikuchiyo to Kanbei, he’s still part of the group as he devises a plan to save him, only to be faced with an ambush laid by the Nobuseris. Don’t worry, Kikuchiyo’s still alive as the Nobuseri boss thought that he might be useful to capture the samurais when the time comes. And Heihachi found out that Honoka may have ratted them out. As he doesn’t like traitors (because he was one too during the war) he wasn’t going to go easy on Honoka, but Kanbei manage to stop him with words like "It isn’t a job of a samurai to punish…" Wow. Meaningful words. And besides saving Kanna village, Kanbei now has promised and vowed to save Sanae and Mizuka from the Capital. That’s a lot of things to do.
 
More action packed feats and amazing samurai skill as the samurai battle the Nobuseris. And then there’s this match between Kanbei and Hyougo. The latter now traded his sword with some oversized gun. Of course, even if it’s a match between a gun and a sword, who do you think has the upper edge? No matter how skilled Kanbei is, he’s being injured by Hyougo’s gun. But the turning point is that Kyuzo turned against his own comrade and killed him! Why? Remember that duel he had earlier on with Kanbei? Yeah, because it wasn’t finished, Kyuzo’s got that mindset that he’s the only one that is allowed to kill him. Uh-huh… And with that, Kyuzo becomes the sixth samurai. Though, he’s only joining the gang to protect Kanbei from being killed so that he could kill him himself. Uh-huh…
 
A light-hearted episode 10 sees how the gang divide themselves into 3 groups and take different routes to reach Kanna village. With Kanbei, Katsushiro, Kikuchiyo and Komachi in one group, Gorobei, Heihachi and Rikichi in another, while Shichiroji, Kyuzo and Kirara making up the final one. Well, it was a odd thing for Kanbei to pair Kirara and Kyuzo together since the former dislikes the other. By this point too, I think Komachi is getting very fond of Kikuchiyo. Yeah, if you notice the things building up between the 2 up to now. Always together (well, most of the time), she worrying about him, things like that.
 
Gorobei’s group manage to avoid any untoward incidents as they disguise themselves as women performers. Yeah, weird. It wasn’t so for Shichiroji’s group as they had to traverse mountains and face a group of robot assassins. Well, at least Kirara’s uneasiness towards Kyuzo eased a little when he saved her from an impending laser, but he got slightly injured by it. In the end, all 3 groups manage to arrive at Kanna village safely. And what’s this? Kirara attending to Kyuzo’s wound. Nothing wrong actually but Katsushiro who’s watching from afar seems to be misinterpreting the situation. Jealous jealous.
 
Episode 11 and 12, well, isn’t anything much. Just the samurais preparing and training the villagers for what’s to come. Plus, they helped them setup some weapons and defences using the abundance of good plain ol’ wood. Also a traitor among the villagers is gonna ruin it all but luckily his identity is discovered. At least the samurais know what they’re gonna be up against. Plus, Kikuchiyo has finally been acknowledged as the seventh samurai after the rest finds out that he’s actually an ex-peasant and came from a family of one. That was the reason why he wanted to help in the first place. I guess there’s something good (besides his strength) about him eventhough he’s like the clown of the bunch, gets angry and annoyed easily.
 
So it’s action-packed episodes 13-16 as the samurais along with the Kanna villagers battle the onslaught of the Nobuseris. They manage to stave off the first wave of the attacking Nobuseris. I notice that during the fight, when the peasants manage to bring down 1 of the Nobuseris, they get all excited and happy, like they’ve won the war. Then when the other Nobuseris land another blow, they lost all their confidence and become scared again. I guess they’re quite naive. But you can’t blame them. They’re farmers, not soldiers. Plus, Katsushiro becomes like a wild killing machine gone out of control. Must be his first kill, huh? And when it’s over, he’s got a hard time calming down with those deep breathes.
 
However the Nobuseris aren’t just gonna let go of this and will be back for revenge. So Kanbei devise a plan to bring down the mothership (looks like an alien fortress) by feigning defeat. Meaning the villagers pretended that they had turned against the samurais and hold a few as prisoners while the rest ‘escapes’. Actually, they’re more like hiding in the rice sacks being offered to the Nobuseris. Unfortunately, the Nobuseri believing in them was just a lie as they took Kirara (she offered herself in exchange for the village not to be attacked) and will destroy the village anyway. Yup, Kirara’s a been taken as a hostage again. Only this time, she’ll helplessly watch her village being burned to the ground. Fortunately, our samurai heroes manage to show up in good timing, whoop the Nobuseris’ asses, save Kirara, escape from the mothership before it comes crashing down in the gorge.
 
But that isn’t the end of it yet. The Nobuseris are planning their ultimate final attack after that incident. And my heart sank in episode 16. Why? Because it’s gonna be Gorobei’s last stand. NOOOO!!! I knew there’d be samurai casualties by the end of the series, but one already so early (actually more like 2/3 already) in the series. It was so sad to see Gorobei dying at the end as he tried to dodge the Nobuseri boss’ blasts, but it was too powerful. :,(. And by the end of that episode, Kanbei then decided to go alone to the Capital to settle things as the others stayed back at the village to continue protecting them in case of any future Nobuseri attacks. And with 6 samurais left, episode 17 is more like a recap, reminiscing things that have happened so far. But a stubborn Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo, along with Kirara and Komachi, decides to go after Kanbei and help him eventhough they’re told not to.
 
In episode 18, Kanbei claims that he was the one who killed the emperor’s representative and thus he’s taken prisoner. Yup, actually this is part of his plan to rescue those women and children taken by the Capital. And episode 19 is a non-samurai episode. What do I mean? This episode is more like the current emperor, Amanushi (finally he made his appearance), who looked like some experimental subject in some test tube thingy with lots of wires (his life support system actually), summoning Ukyo and ‘interrogating’ and bombarding him with questions to see if he’s well-worthy of being his successor. Yeah, we find out that Ukyo is one of the many ‘seeds planted’ by Amanushi here and there for this purpose. And Ayamaro is just like his stepdad taking care of things until the time is right. And if Ukyo fails in this ‘test’ he’ll be executed just like the previous 40-over successors who previously went through this and failed. Also, we get to see Sanae, who’s now pregnant with Amanushi’s child (yup, she’s the queen now and she’s actually used to it, though I don’t see her happy expression), and Mizuka who’s one of Sanae’s servants and at times serving Kanbei who’s in prison.
 
Of course, this time Ukyo manages to impress Amanushi with all the right and interesting answers which lasted for several days. Can’t believe everyone else just waited outside the chamber and just wondering if Ukyo passed or not. Don’t they get tired or hungry? But another shocking thing is that, once the ‘test’ is done, Ukyo kills Amanushi by unplugging his life support! So easy. Then he proceeds to install himself as the new Amanushi and make it as though the previous one had willingly passed the crown to him. How cunning. Of course, with everyone in shock at first, especially Sanae, they eventually had no choice but to follow the new one. So for convenience and simplicity, let’s just refer to the new emperor as Ukyo instead of Amanushi.
 
As part of his new policy to improve the welfare of his people, one of them includes giving them free sacks of rice and employing other samurais to follow Kanna village’s example of defending themselves against the Nobuseris. Actually he’s trying to eliminate the Nobuseris that way, playing them out at the same time by asking them to raid those villages. And in turn, this will make the villagers grateful and give the Capital free rice. Uh-huh, quite scheming, isn’t he? Yeah, his trying to change things and make it as though the previous Amanushi is the one who caused all the problems and Ukyo will be the one who will lift the people out of their misery. Plus, he’s gonna behead Kanbei in public in episode 20. News reached Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo about Kanbei’s situation and they have to hurry in order to save him.
 
Well, Kanbei actually manage to free himself with some slick move (using some hair pin he secretly obtained from Mizuka earlier on) before the other 2 (they arrived too late and probably just in time) at the start of episode 21. In a new twist of events, Ukyo quickly announced that he has pardoned the samurai and would release all the women and children once taken. Hmm… Do you smell something fishy here? I bet this is just a ploy or something just to catch Kanbei and the rest off guard. But Ukyo seems to stick to his words. Also, Ukyo doesn’t need Ayamaro anymore and he’s deemed useless. So there’re attempts to get rid of him, but Ayamaro’s lucky as he’s beng inadvertently saved by Kyuzo. Yup, Kyuzo also tried to follow Kanbei but from my point of view his trip seems futile. Yeah, Kanbei along with Kikuchiyo, Kirara, Komachi, Sanae and Mizuki had already left. But Kyuzo’s still tailing him.
 
Katsushiro leaves the group in episode 22. Why? Because he was being reprimanded by Kanbei for what he did. Plus, Kanbei had a different way of approaching this problem, much different than Katsushiro’s. Thus, causing the latter to lose faith in him and he begins his journey alone to Kanna village. Kanbei is reunited with Shichiroji, Heihachi and Rikichi when the latter group meets them at Yukino’s place. Hey, even Ayamaro’s there. But he looks powerless now. Meanwhile Rikichi tries to persuade a reluctant Sanae to come back to him. Yeah, she’s still in a dilemma and thinking about Amanushi. Plus, what do expect if the baby she’s carrying is aborted. Oh well, the pain of a woman. Fortunately, an understanding Rikichi doesn’t care what has happened and just wants to start anew with her. While the remaining 5 samurais plan what to do next, Ukyo and the Capital (flanked by thousands of Nobuseris) are going to take out Kanna village as revenge.
 
In episode 23, the samurais along with the peasants left the inn (I guess Ayamaro didn’t want to tag along either, he just stayed back at the inn) and on their way, they pass the underground lair and returned Mizuka to her sister. Honoka’s very grateful, but the story for them ends there. That’s because it’s gonna be action time. Well, at least we have to wait for 1 more episode because episode 24 is just about Katsushiro (who now looked like he’s lost some of his emotions) in charge of organizing the villagers in preparing them against the impending assault from the Capital while Kanbei and the other samurais, with Heihachi’s mechanical ingenuity, turned some fallen Nobuseri scrap they found in the desert into some high speed vehicle to quicken their journey while the peasants took some slow ride there.
 
Also, we learn that Kirara’s got some kind of a crush on Kanbei and wants to ‘tell it with her body’. Uh oh. Not very holy and pure for a water priestess. But Kanbei manage to stop her confessing by saying something like his heart is rotten and things like that. Well yeah, men and commitment. Plus, Komachi even requests for Kikuchiyo to be her future husband when she’s all grown up, much to Kikuchiyo’s joy. Ah… such innocent love. And the true murderer of the emperor’s representive is revealed and is no other than one of Ukyo’s skilled bodyguard as part of Ukyo’s initial grand plan. But Katsushiro, who’s skilled has now vastly improved, manage to slice and kill him.
 
The 5 samurais arrive just in time to face Ukyo and his Nobuseris in episode 25. And Ukyo’s anticipating some secret trick move from Kanbei because he’s just charging straight at the Capital. Unfortunately, Kanbei has got no plan at all and that’s what he’s precisely gonna do, much to Ukyo’s annoyance. Yeah, a lot of slashing action here and there. While Kanbei, Shichiroji, Kikuchiyo and Kyuzo take the Nobuseris head on, Heihachi went back to Kanna village first to oversee things. Luckily Heihachi’s there or else Katsushiro’s dead meat. Yup, he got there just in time to save Katsushiro. So the 2 work on trying to blow up the Capital’s engines as they head there. Also, Ukyo’s making his escape.
 
Here’s another sad part. While Heihachi’s planting explosives on the engines, he was shot and injured by one of the Nobuseris. Yeah, Katsushiro’s got his hands full trying to keep things at bay. But I guess the onslaught’s too much. And before Heihachi puffs his last breath, he manages to detonate the bombs, disengaging the engines. Noooo… Heihachi went down with the engine, as a shocked and helpless Katsushiro looked on. At least the Capitol won’t be heading at full speed towards Kanna village. But will it stopped in time or else it will crash into it.
 
Meanwhile the other samurais have infiltrated the Capital and are now searching for Ukyo. Well, they manage to find him. Lots of him, that is. Are they clones? Luckily, Kikuchiyo’s sharp sense of smell manage to save these ‘fake’ Ukyos. That’s because they smell of mud instead of perfume. And under Ukyo’s orders they’ve been ordered to dress so in order to buy time for the real Ukyo to make his escape and confuse the samurais. But those ‘fake’ Ukyo’s lives were short lived as they’re being slashed by Tessai. Yeah, he’s having a showdown with Kanbei. But Kanbei’s in a bind as he’s got Shiciroji by the neck. Then suddenly, Kyuzo appears from underneath (yeah, he broke through the floor with some Nobuseri scrap) and in a jiffy, sliced and killed Tessai. I guess Kyuzo’s really serious about him being the only one to kill Kanbei.
 
As more of those imperial guards descend to attack the samurais, Kanbei is reunited with a raging Katsushiro. Looks like the latter’s gone crazy, killing the enemy in cold blooded style. As one of the guards was gonna shoot Kanbei, Katsushiro who saw it, took up a fallen guards gun and shot him several rounds. The good news is that he hit the guard and Kanbei’s life is saved. The bad news is, the bullets went through the guard and hit Kyuzo!!! NOOOOOOO!!!! My favourite character is gonna die!!! How can this be?! NOOOO!!! Well, important anime lesson learned. Never get too attached to a character or else you’ll get disappointed when such things happened. NOOOOO!!!! I still can’t believe it. *Sobbing*
 
Too bad for Katsushiro, he had to witness another shocking thing, this time he had a hand in it. Before Kyuzo loses it, he reminds Kanbei of their promise. And Kanbei promised that he’ll be waiting at the gates of Hell when the time comes. The remaning samurais also learn of Heihachi’s demise from Katsushiro but Kanbei’s glad that he’s back with them now. The episode ends with Kanbei saying who among the 4 of them will be the first to behead Ukyo. It doesn’t matter who, because Kyuzo’s gone… Nooo!!! *Sobbing*Sobbing*
 
The thrilling final episode sees how Ukyo who’s trying to make his escape, but the 4 remaining samurais are already waiting for him. Yeah, now we can see the true colours of Ukyo, how a coward he is and how he’s hiding behind that emperor facade all this while. So it’s like this. Everytime when Ukyo’s been cornered, he gets all cowardly, pleading for them to spare his life with some lame excuse. But when there’s a slight opening, he’ll not hesitate to seize it and attack the samurai back. How dastardly! He even used one of his men to block an impending attack. Oh, his servants too are robots. Yeah, he seems to take it upon Kikuchiyo most of time. Hiting him over and over like nobody’s business.
 
Then there’s one part where Ukyo and Kanbei were faced with each other. When Kanbei manage to dodge Ukyo’s shots and slashed him, I thought he was dead gone for sure. But then, somehow he can still manage to stand up and took up a nearby gun and is getting ready to shoot an unsuspecting Kanbei from behind. I thought Kanbei had finished the job. Looks like he didn’t. But luckily, Kikuchiyo, who’s just barely functioning spots Ukyo and manages to jump towards him as the 2 then fell out from the crashing Capital towards the ground below.
 
A Nobuseri manage to catch Ukyo and break his fall but as for Kikuchiyo he crashed straight down. Luckily, Rikichi, Kirara and Komachi in a mobile vehicle passed by and picked up Kikuchiyo. Ukyo who’s still obsessed with Kirara, is still trying to persuade Kirara to come with him. Now he looks like a mad guy. As he’s approaching her, Kikuchiyo manages to punch him out of the vehicle and then pick up his sword and slice that Nobuseri. Kikuchiyo then asked Rikichi to take him in front of the Capital as he’s gonna stop it. Meanwhile on board the Capital as Katsushiro are taking care of the Nobuseris, Kanbei and Shichiroji did their part to stop the Capital by… slashing the structures here and there?! I don’t see what they’re doing is gonna stop the Capital. I still didn’t understand. Maybe it’s to slow it down or to make it turn in a direction away from Kanna village.
 
At the same time, Kikuchiyo manage to arrive in front of the incoming Capital (now on fire and full of explosions with uncontrollable laser beams shooting in all directions), takes up a large piece of fallen Nobuseri scrap and uses it as some barrier to stop the Capital as it is being sliced into half. The heat’s so immensed that even Kikuchiyo’s burning up. But that doesn’t deter him. I wonder if that’s gonna work, trying to stop the Capital like that. As the Capital nears the cliff, Kanbei and the rest gets off. And since the Capital is heading Ukyo’s way, he’s in some sort of a panic trying to run away from it. Why do people always run in the same direction of something unstoppable and rampaging? Can’t they just run to the side? Ah well, I guess if you’re in a state of panic, you can’t think well. Anyway, Ukyo fell down the cliff to his death first, followed by the Capital. And that guy’s still thinking about Kirara. I guess he’s losing it. Yeah, his life too. And probably to add to some comical effect, they should have shown how the Capital fell and crush on him, like in those American cartoons. Hahaha.
 
Oh, it was a very disheartening scene to see Komachi in tears. Why? That’s because her beloved Kikuchiyo is now reduced to nothing, only his boots remained. Dang. Another samurai down. At least he lived his life and went down with honour. Poor little girl, I guess she’ll have to find another future husband. Just kidding. I meant no offence. And Katsushiro’s still that I-want-to-kill-some-more-Nobuseris and where-are-the-Nobuseris-bring-them-on kinda mode even just after it all ends. Well, at least Kanbei manage to calm him down and tell him that the war is over.
 
So in the last half of the final episode, we see how the now peaceful Kanna village continuing their rice planting tradition happily and in peace. Rikichi and Sanae are good together with the latter now over what has happened. The remaining 3 samurais pay their respects to their fallen comrades. Katsushiro now a little more wiser, mature and calm telling Kirara that now he has that ‘battlefield scent’ as he goes off on a journey by himself. Looks like he’s ready. Also, it seems that Kirara has passed on her water priestess job and pendant to Komachi. And finally some few words and chat between Kanbei and Shichiroji with the village head like how it’s actually the villagers that won and not them. And then, off the 2 survivors went as their job is done and the village doesn’t need their service anymore. I wonder where those 2 are heading? Maybe back to Yukino’s place? Or perhaps continue to wander and help those in need? Wherever they are, may the wind guide and bless them throughout their journey.
 
Overall, this is one amazing series and I really liked it. Though I’m not sure if it’s better in comparison compared with the movie, but since I’m more of an anime buff, I’ll most probably say I like the anime one. Of course with new characters and plots and twists thrown in, I’m sure it’s a little different.
 
I like how the producers design the 7 samurai characters. Each of them has their own distinctive personality and characteristics which made them unique. Even their swords. From huge chainsaw-like ones to spear-like ones in addition to normal samurai swords. Not to mention their clothing design and character physique as well. In my opinion, it’s like providing a colourful variety of eye candy. Especially Kyuzo’s… ;)
 
I could also say I’m pretty much satisfied with the way the storyline and some of the characters were developed throughout the series. As for the voice acting, I saw the series in 2 languages. Initially, the series was shown on local tv and it was dubbed in malay. However, there’re some episodes that I’ve missed so I had to download from the Internet and rewatched them in original Japanese audio. Of course, I would definitely say the original one would sound much better. But the dubbed one tried to dub the voices of some of the characters closely to the Japanese ones, especially Kikuchiyo’s (but Katsushiro’s one was totally off and different).
 
As for the soundtrack, there isn’t any tunes which is memorable in the long run. I mean, you have that typical exciting battle mode background music to more solemn ones, but I just didn’t find any of them catchy so much so that it would made me go ‘hey, I must have that soundtrack no matter what’. However, only the opening theme, Unlimited, is quite nice, though.
 
Don’t worry. The violence and gore isn’t that extreme but there’re such elements that you may want to keep much younger audiences away from it. So if you like animes where they blend in the past and the future, some sci-fi action adventure with some historical settings, then I suppose this anime would be your cup of tea. And oh… Kyuzo… Kyuzo…

Rizelmine

December 1, 2006

Another one of those series where comedy and romance are bound to be plentiful. Mix them together and there’ll be lots of crazy stuff ensuing. Yes, I’m talking about Rizelmine. A 24 episode series but each series has only approximately 15 minutes of air time. Plus, if you take away the opening and ending credits, it’ll be 10 minutes or so. Yeah, you can say that such animes are like ‘snacks’. Because unlike the main course, it doesn’t take a long time and you just watch the show for fun and entertainment rather than in-depth analysis or story and character developments or things like that.
 
Be a little warned, though. Eventhough that the series may look a little innocent as in the drawing and the characters, there are some nude scenes here. Albeit, it isn’t that bad in the sense that it actually shows the girls bare chested (at least not in the earlier parts). Just showing of some skin here and there (okay, maybe still too much skin showing) but not so much that one would categorize it as a hardcore hentai genre. Maybe a little ecchi. Besides, that’s the main reason why the series is funny in the first place. And I like the comedy because it made me laugh, not because I’m a pervert.
 
The way I see it, I can safely split Rizelmine into 2 seasons, 12 episodes for the first one and the remainder as the second season. Though, the series was aired somewhere around 2002, there was a slight break in the continuity of the series after the first 12 episodes, before the series resumes and finishes its run by the end of the year.
 
The first half of the series, well of course, mainly introduces the characters and the plot of the series. As seen in the first episode, a 15 year old boy named Tomonori Iwaki (looks a bit like Takeshi Oomura of Happy World. Probably sounds a bit like him too), who’s really devastated and feeling the pangs of love when his homeroom teacher, Natsumi Ihata, announced to her class that she’s getting engaged. Yup, you’ve guessed it. Tomonori is in love with his teacher and has a major crush on her. I guess that’s how one will feel when the ones they love has been ‘taken’. Too bad.
 
At the same time, we see some 3 government men in black guys transporting some prototype girl somewhere. Meanwhile, Tomonori cycles back home in a rage. Wow. Kids, don’t do this on the streets, it’s reckless riding. Not only drinking affects ones driving/riding, but now it seems love does too. Anyway, to add salt to Tomonori’s wounded heart, he comes back home to find that the Japanese government has made him against his will, married to a 12 year old genetically engineered girl named Rizel. Why? No reason. Actually there’s a reason. That typical government reason… it’s confidential. So typical. They even have all the necessary documents and papers for Tomonori and Rizel’s marriage certificate. So what’s this project all about for? Well, I did already mentioned, it’s classified. Probably the producers can’t come up with a simple solution so they decided to use that reason.
 
Of course, would Tomonori’s parents allow something like that? Not at first. Since it’s their son, they should consider his feelings and consent first, bla bla bla. Yeah, that’s what parents should do when their child’s in toruble. But all that changes when those 3 government guys, nicknamed Papa A, Papa B and Papa C, said something about the government bearing all their expenses, job promotion and having government sponsored home loans and all sorts of other benefits. And all this could be theirs and much more if they just agree to it. Wow! See how materialistic and monetary subjects can really turn people around and change their minds. And because of that, Tomonori’s parents had no choice but to tell him to be nice to his new wife. Must be really tempting. Of course, Tomonori is still reluctant and protesting and wouldn’t just accept her, ignoring her most of the time.
 
But in contrast, Rizel seems to be the opposite, with 2 head disk (which looked heavy for her head) as some sort of hair accessory, she’s quite energetic, genki, and enthusiastic about doing anything just about and pleasing Tomonori, calling him ‘danna-sama’ (husband). Even though Tomonori may be oblivious to her affections and efforts (which may sometime go awry), she never gives up and always try again. Maybe that’s because she’s naive and innocent and probably believes that he’ll love her. Wait, she is. And her favourite word is "Hafuuuuun…". What ever that means. Plus, she gets excited and always say "This is my first time doing so and so with my danna-sama…".
 
To make things even worse, the 3 Papas have to somewhat stick close to and monitor Rizel’s development along with Tomonori. Yeah, sometimes like busybodies. But it’s their job. Plus, they’ll be living under the same roof as Tomonori and his family. And it’s like this for the rest of the episodes. Rizel tries to do something to make Tomonori like her, but the latter isn’t interested and her plans go wrong somewhere and sometimes Tomonori has to in a way and unknowingly save her. Rizel gets closer to know about him in the end (in a way) but Tomonori will say something mean and make her cry. However, as warned by the Papas, no one should ever make Rizel cry. Why? Hehe, it’s not classified answer this time. That’s because her tears are made up of explosive chemicals like nitroglycerin. And one teardrop would mean a massive explosions! And that’s what happens at the end of nearly every episode. Thus, Tomonori’s house is always under repair by the Hinomaru Construction Company. I guess those scaffoldings will always be permanent. And there’s always that stray dog passing by there (and at times somewhere else, just to make its appearance) and getting scared of the explosion and thus ran away.
 
So what are Rizel’s attempts to make Tomonori like her? One of them includes trying to dress up as an ideal girl to suit Tomonori’s taste in episode 2. She got that idea when she found a stash of secret photos in one of Tomonori’s books. Yeah, so she dresses up like sailor girl to nurses and even naked apron! But Tomonori isn’t too fond of it. Okay, I’ll just tell you why. Actually, Tomonori likes older girls! Yes, it’s true. That’s the reason why he’s in love with his homeroom teacher in the first place. And since Rizel is younger than him, I guess the equation adds up, doesn’t it? Anyway, the gang found out that the photos don’t belong to Tomonori but his dad! Oh my. Even his dad is a pervert and in order not to be found out, he hid it in Tomonori’s place. Hmm… I’m starting to have doubts and thinking that his family is actually dysfunctional too.
 
Like in episode 3 where Rizel heard that most probably Tomonori like the smell of a men’s stench. What the? Is Tomonori gay? I don’t think so. But anyway this doesn’t stop Rizel from trying to smell like one like trying to sweat it out playing sports and even getting rubbed in a crowded train filled with men! Wow, this naive girl would really go to such great lengths. In the end, she just wore Tomonori’s clothes just to smell like him. But still, Tomonori’s irritated and not to pleased.
 
Well, there’ll be a bunch of odd characters thrown into this love chain fray. Yup, in episode 4, Rizel wants to sneak into Tomonori’s school by putting on some weird disguise (yeah, that one with specs, moustache and big nose). Thing is everybody recognizes her but they just didn’t want to disappoint Rizel who’s trying so hard. During Rizel’s wandering in Tomonori’s school, some guy, Ryunosuke Hououin caught a glimpse of Rizel’s kiddy bear-faced panties and instantly fell for her. Literally, love at first sight, if you know what I mean. Yup, and he’s determined to make that mysterious girl his.
 
By episode 5, after that ‘excursion’ Rizel is somehow now a new transferred student in Tomonori’s class, much to his shock and dismay. This is the funny part. When Natsumi introduces her to the class saying that she’s much younger than them because of some grade skipping thingy due to her genius (more like the government pulling strings) that she’ll be joining the class from today, Rizel then replied something like "I don’t know what that all means, but I’ll accept it". Hahaha. She’s really naive and she’s just got Tomonori on her mind. And to make things even worse, Natsumi also mentions about Rizel being Tomonori’s bride and living under the same roof as him. Tomonori must be thinking, this can’t be happening. Also, she made friends with one of Tomonori’s classmate, Aoi Seimoto.
 
Oh yeah, that Ryunosuke guy’s somewhat of that kind of guy where he’s every-girl’s-dream-guy (at least to Aoi). And yup, Aoi does have a crush on him. And just like in Tomonori-Rizel’s case, her efforts to gain his attention is oblivious, but Aoi’s not so bold and daring as compared to Rizel as she’s more shy and reserved. Also, since Ryunosuke has his eyes on Rizel, the funny thing is Rizel can’t always seem to remember his name, giving him funny nicknames which rhyme with his name. But I suppose Ryunosuke can tolerate it since he’s in love with that girl. Also, when he speaks, his speech is usually that ‘charming’ kinda talk, filled with all those love-destiny jargons and garbage. Quite amusing, though.
 
So can you see the love chain? It’s something like this Aoi likes Ryunosuke who likes Rizel who likes Tomonori who likes Natsumi. And it only goes in that one direction and not the other way round. That’s why it isn’t a love triangle or quadruple or anything like that.
 
That love chain gets another contender with the introduction of Kyoko Yachigusa in episode 7. Yeah, she came to Tomonori’s school to give him some present because he saved her life 2 years ago. Aoi thinks that Kyoko will be Rizel’s rival since she’s older than Tomonori and has a more developed body. But Rizel seems so carefree and isn’t jealous (well, maybe it’s not that obvious). Actually, Aoi’s doing this because if Rizel and Tomonori are together then Ryunosuke would give up on Rizel, thus making her chances with him much more brighter.
 
There’s one thing weird about Kyoko. She seems like a very shy and bashful girl but when she takes off her specs, she becomes a totally different person. Yup, she becomes even wilder and daring. So that specs is some sort of a ‘control’ device’. Weird. Furthermore, she is the daughter to one of the Papas! And that poor Papa is sometimes torn between choosing which side to support as Kyoko and Rizel both like Tomonori. Also, I find the part amusing where Papa shoots a bazooka with specs just to calm Kyoko down. Such exact timing!
 
So in episode 8, Kyoko and Tomonori are dating at the amusement park. As Rizel and the Papas tries to hurry to save him, the 2 now in a ferris wheel, with Kyoko can’t control herself anymore decides to give Tomonori her present, takes off her glasses and… taking off his pants??!!! Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Of course some struggling from him. In the end, Rizel manage to save Tomonori but and the Papas calm Kyoko down and we find out that Kyoko actually wanted to give him a pair of new trousers she had sewed. And she wanted him to try it on. Ah… that’s why. And to be close to Tomonori, Kyoko rented a neighbouring house next to Tomonori’s. Looks like another string pulling thing from the government
 
Other adventures in season 1 include where Tomonori had to rescue Rizel in episode 6 because he thought Ryunosuke’s gonna do something ‘funny’ to Rizel (is this a sign that Tomonori’s concern of her?) but Ryunosuke just wants to immortalize Rizel in some sculpture. Or in episode 9 where Natsumi and her fiance got into a big fight and Tomonori sees this as his chance to mediate things and gets closer and elope with her. Unfortunately, though Natsumi says he’s a nice kid but she just see them as a teacher-student relationship. Oh well. And in episode 10 where Aoi writes a love letter to Ryunosuke but the latter thinks it’s from Rizel. That’s because Aoi forgot to write her name on it. Poor Aoi trying to convinceRyunosuke but to no avail. Must be really frustrating.
 
To end the 1st season, in episode 11, Natsumi told the gang about some legendary Kissing Rock thing. Whereby the first person who manage to get a flower on that rock is allowed to kiss the person he/she likes and that person would fall in love with him/her. Seems like a good idea and everyone has that intention and in no time, left for the place. Yeah, why do they need to take a plane and sky dive there, as Tomonori asked. Because it’s faster that way lor.
 
Plus, we see the 3 Mamas (ladies in white lab coats) are somewhat like the Papas, monitoring Rizel’s development. The Mamas seem to be quite fierce and dominating while the Papas quite afraid of them in a way. Hmmm.. The Mama And The Papas. Reminds me of an old British pop group, don’t they. Though, they don’t have any connection at all.
 
In episode 12, the race begins with Tomonori, Rizel, Ryunosuke, Aoi and Kyoko getting all ready and excited to win the race. Of course the Papas were watching and wouldn’t hesitate to help Rizel win. During the course, Ryunosuke, Aoi and Kyoko somehow crashed into each other and are out of the race. Since Rizel is struggling swimming, the Papas have come up with some device to help boost her chances, but Rizel said she wanted to do it on her own. The Papas saw that determination in her eyes and decided to let her do it on her own, and even went against Mamas orders to do so. But some big tidal wave causes her to drown. Just then, Tomonori who’s leading saw what happened and proceed to rescue Rizel, putting aside his initial goal. He manages to do so and tries to resuscitate a lifeless Rizel on the Kissing Rock. Well, Tomonori tried CPR, that mouth to mouth resuscitation. Yeah, inadvertently it looked like a kiss. Maybe it is.  And for a brief moment there, Rizel transforms into a grown-up, hugging Tomonori. Could he be dreaming? But that lasted for just a few seconds before she returns back to her kiddy self. Tomonori pushed her away after realizing what they’re doing. Rizel thought she’d turned into an adult for a brief moment but Tomonori thinks otherwise. And the others seem knocked-out as they lay unconscious on the beach.
 
The second season seems to be more ecchi. Yup, at the end of each episode where they review the next episode, there’s this haiku with some sexual innuendos and puns. And they had to do the next episode review twice since there’re a lot of those haikus. Yup, a double dose of haiku filled sexual innuendos and puns. Also the girls are in a sexy position and tempting sexy voices with some ‘naughty’ talk in the beginning of each episode where they warn you about things like don’t watch too close to the tv and things like that. Remember I said that there’re no chest baring scenes? I was wrong. There’re certain scenes here where if you look closely enough, you can see it, especially in those bathing scenes. Besides that, I felt that the second season has Tomonori more receptive of Rizel and is a little more serious. Though, there’s that usual craziness to make you laugh. Oh yeah, in this second half I notice Rizel didn’t cry as much as the first too.
 
Episode 13 begins with the Papas giving Rizel some pills where if she swallows them, she’d turn into an adult although it will last for 5 minutes only before she turns back to her normal self. And the thing is Tomonori doesn’t recognize the growned up Rizel and is starting to fall for that older mysterious lady, much to Rizel’s delight. The funny part is, as the 2 are dating, everytime the pill is gonna wear off, Rizel will make some excuse to run off somewhere and swallow another pill. However, each time not only she turns into an adult but her uniform changes as well! And she’s giving an excuse that she has many jobs. Tomonori should smell something fishy here. By the way, Natsumi’s married her fiance already. So it’s no go for Tomonori.
 
Because the pills ran out, Rizel sneak into some secret lab and ate some super pill which will accelerate her growth hormone and make it more permanent in episode 14. But in the end, Tomomori found out that the older woman he’s dating is Rizel, much to his horror. Though he’d made a date with Rizel earlier on, he decides to back out and not meet her, since her cover’s blown. Poor Rizel waiting for him through the night and in the rain. Just when Tomonori noticed that Rizel’s not back, he’s thinking that she might be serious about the date and went to look for her. As he managed to find her and crossed the road, suddenly an oncoming truck hits him.
 
Yup, Tomonori’s in a coma in episode 15. As the doctors try to revive Tomonori with the rest waiting anxiously by his side, Tomonori has some weird dream of being in a train on a school trip with his friends, but someting’s missing. It’s Rizel. But he can’t seem to figure that out until he heard Rizel’s voice calling for him. And with that he opened his eyes, much to everyone’s joy and relief. Then we find out why Tonomori likes older girls. When he’s younger, he saved an older girl, who’s Rizel at that time. Since Rizel has some problem with her growth, she can’t grow up and will always be 12 years old. And that’s why, Tomonori has to ‘turn her into a woman’. With that, Tomonori realized that it’s Rizel’s fault that he likes older women to begin with. Hey, wait a minute. I noticed something here. When Tomonori’s in a coma, Rizel’s pleading emotionally for him to come back, and she has that teary eyes. Shouldn’t the tears make some explosion? Dunno.
 
As dreams do come true, in episode 16, Tomonori’s class takes a class trip. And there’s that saying that if during a field trip, if a person carries the one he/she loves with the landlord/landlady and has his picture taken, they’ll be together forever. Some saying. Anyway, you know what’s going on in their minds, right? So Aoi went to great lengths to act, speak and dress like Rizel just to get her picture taken with Ryunosuke. So is it true that Ryunosuke’s really falling for Aoi as her plan seems to work. Not actually. We find out that it’s Aoi kiddie bear-faced panties that’s making Ryunosuke all over her. But later, Ryunosuke said that he can’t be in love with Aoi, just because she’s not a 12 year old. What the? And Aoi’s willing to give him everything. Yup, everything, including that… ahem ahem. Yeah, that guy’s only infatuated with 12 year old girls. And this line made it even funnier. When Aoi told him that Rizel will be 13 next birthday, Ryunosuke went into some frenzy denial saying that his loved one will always be 12 years old and never grow up, like how Shizuka will always be 12 years old (yes, that Shizuka from Doraemon), and all other 12 year old anime characters that will always stay their age. So funny lah. At least an angry Aoi then tried to knock some sense into this sick lost guy by kicking him away, landing in the arms of Kyoko, just right when she has her picture taken.
 
The school trip still continues in episode 17 as Ryunosuke gets a hold of some love potion whereby whoever drinks it will fall in love with the first person he/she sees. But it’s Natsumi who drank it first and then saw Tomonori. Is this a dream come true? Well, Natsumi’s gonna really ‘do it’ with him in the bus alone, that is, until the potion wears off. When finally Ryunosuke manages to get Rizel to drink it and she saw him, Tomonori’s worried that he may do it. But all fears alay, he just wants to see her kiddie bear-faced panties. That’s all. Really sick guy. And he’s in love with Rizel in the first place only because of this too. Really really sick perverted guy.
 
Episode 18 is my favourite. At some inn, the intention of making that saying come true continues. The Papas came out with some mind controlling device that if the victim where’s that helmet device, he/she will do anything the master asked them to with a remote. A lot of helmet swapping here and there. With a lot of unwanted funny incidents beyond their control. Like Aoi (with the helmet) and Kyoko kissed! Yuri!!! But the funniest part is where Aoi, who thought Ryunosuke is wearing it, then asks him to love her, only to find out too late that the helmet is being worn by that stray dog. And that stay dog proceeds to lick her… ahem ahem. Can’t say. Not only that, her girl classmates too had the helmets on. So it’s a foursome, I guess. But does Aoi sound enjoying it, eventhough she’s reluctant? In the end, though Kyoko was gonna have her pic taken with Tomonori (with the helmet), Rizel fell down right when the photo’s being taken. And the outcome of the photo looked as if Rizel’s in the arms of Tomonori, blocking Kyoko completely. Oh, how frustrating.
 
Looks like the Mamas want Rizel to mature into an adult in episode 19 as they instruct Rizel and Tomonori to do ‘Otona No C’. I think it’s some… ahem ahem. Well, since Rizel is still that naive, her interpretation of it isn’t so extreme. Meanwhile, Ryunosuke and Kyoko found out that the 2 are gonna do ‘Otona No C’ and decided to cooperate to break them apart.
 
With Tomonori’s parents having a round-the-world trip, he and Rizel are all alone in the house in episode 20 and 21. Yeah, just another big string pulling from them so that the 2 can do ‘Otona No C’. And they’ve made some barriers around the house so that no one can interrupt them. Poor Ryunosuke and Kyoko, they could’ve arrived earlier. Only thing is they got lost to which short cut route they should take to reach Tomonori’s house. Anyway, why are there so many routes? Anyway, some Grendizier spoof, as they try to reach their destination.
 
Meanwhile, there’re lots of subtle hints to make Tomonori do ‘Otona No C’ with Rizel, and he seems tempted to do it. But after realizing that it would benefit Rizel in a way, Tomonori decides to do so. As the 2 gets undressed and were about to do it, Rizel fell asleep. Tomonori thinks it’s okay for now, but the Mamas barges in from some secret passage and say it’s not, much to Tomonori’s surprise and shock. He finds out that ‘Otona No C’ isa actually some adult-chuu (kiss) and the Mamas have been observing them all this while. Double shock! As he stands there naked, the Mamas asks him to put on some pants. Hehehe.
 
At the same time, the efforts of Ryunosuke and Kyoko were futile. They both became shock when they saw from the window that the 2 are gonna ‘do it’, causing the duo to fall into a ‘compromising position’. And the worse thing is, Kyoko’s glasses are off! Because Kyoko can’t hold back anymore, she kissed him!!! I guess to her any bishounen would do. Reluctant at first, but looks like Ryunosuke gave in and he seems to enjoy it! And the 2 walked away happily. Ah… the love chain has been broken and it seems the 2 are gonna be a couple. Looks like that legend during their school trip came true.
 
And in episode 22, Tomonori seems to avoid Rizel after what happened in the previous episode. Rizel pretends to threaten to divorce him showing him divorce papers. And much to Rizel and the Papas and Mamas surprise, he signs them. But that’s the start of things to come. You see, there’re other countries with genetically engineered-like Rizel. And since the 2 are not married anymore, they’re competing to make Tomonori their bride. Particularly Lux from USA, Lan Lan from China, Lobelia from Italy and Rei Cherkasky from Russia. Also, each of them have their Papas look-a-like in their country’s uniform.
 
Makes you wonder, what’s so good about this Tomonori guy that other guys don’t have. Yeah, the 4 compete for the right to be his wife as poor Tomonori gets caught in between. And Rizel’s no where to be found. Where is she? Things get even hotter (or worse) in episode 23 when the 4 not only moves into Tomonori’s house but transfer to the same class as he is. I like the funny part where in his house they’re doing their usual trying-to-get-his-attention attempts when 1 of them accidentily slipped and touch his crotch. The others who saw this didn’t want to lose out and proceed to try and grab and touch his crotch. It’s so hilarious to see so many hands moving here and there much to Tomonori’s annoyance. But looks like he’s quite spaced out.
 
Ever wondered why the show’s called Rizelmine? That’s because in this episode, Rizel finally appears in a mecha, called Rizelmine shows up to save Tomonori from the clutches of the ever competing foreign Rizels. She manage to beat them all and they backed down and admit defeat when she tears their divorce papers. Later as Rizel and Tomonori meets face to face, she tore her marriage certificate in front of him, much to his surprise.
 
In the last episode, Rizel pleads to the Papas and Mamas to have her memories of Tomonori erased as she thought he doesn’t love her anymore. But the Papas want to observe Tomonori’s behaviour first before doing so. They notice him going to random places but they soon realized that those places are the one he and Rizel had been together. So in a way, Tomonori still cares for her. As Rizel rushes to the park to see him sitting there alone, he rushes to her and hugs her. Then he shows Rizel his marriage certification to her, much to Rizel’s happiness. The 2 then finally had a real kiss. And for the first time, Rizel’s teardrop didn’t explode. Wow! Talk about the way things turned out. Tomonori now loves Rizel and her tears won’t go boom.
 
In the final scenes, we see events that happened a year later. Ryunosuke and Kyoko are married with a baby in her arm and are living next door to Tomonori’s house, and for the first time the construction has finished. Yeah, now Kyoko’s dad is concern and spying on them. Meanwhile, Aoi is over with Ryunosuke and has that weird relationship with that stray dog, as the 2 have a bath together. Probably must be from that time when that happened. Ahem ahem. And Tomonori’s got a little baby brother. Though, I’m not sure the baby in Kyoko’s arms belongs to her or Tomonori’s mom.
 
The Mamas asking the Papas for some shopping money, but it seems they aren’t so fierce now with the latter asking them to ask properly. Natsumi getting naughty with her husband something about ‘eating her’. The 4 foreign Rizels are still at each other, but now they have to fight many other Rizels from other countries as well. It’s a battle royale! Yeah, they come in assorted uniforms and colours. Reminds me like one of those ‘collect them all’ series. And finally, as Tomonori and Rizel rides together to school on his bike, we see how much they love each other as Rizel has Tomonori’s chibi face on her panties and Tomonori has Rizel’s chibi face on his undershirt. Aww…
 
Overall, I guess this anime is pretty much okay with the way things and the characters develop towards the end. I’m glad the 2 of them are together and how Tomonori has changed throughout the entire series. Also, I would say that the producers manage to tie up things pretty nicely rather than ending it abruptly or leaving viewers scratching their heads in confusion or disappointment.
 
Forgive me if I used the ‘ahem ahem’ phrase too much. Okay, I admit, I’m quite embarrassed to actually mention or explain whatever sexual innuendos or acts, therefore grown ups who’re reading this should know what I mean. Or if you don’t, then just watch it. Ahem ahem. Oops, sorry.
 
Also I find the opening song, Hajimete Shimashou, a little weird. Well, not so much the lyrics, but the way the squeaky voiced singer sings it. Yeah, it may sound cute at first but later it was enough to make my hair stand on ends. Especially that chorus part where she goes "shimashou… shimashou… shimashou shimashou shimashou shimashou". Meaning, let’s do it, somehow I just can’t stand it. Uh-huh, the voice actress for Rizel also sang this song as well as it’s ending themes. Though the ending themes doesn’t sound that bad (squeaky, that is).
 
The drawing and animation is also pretty much consistent and so is the voice acting. Therefore, if you want some happy fairytale ending with some mixture of comedy, but don’t mind some nude scenes (especially that haiku part), then I suppose this series could be quite entertaining as well. Mind you, I didn’t like those chest baring moments and I’m not a pervert!