Mahou Sensei Negima

February 24, 2007

How would you feel if you had a classroom teacher who is not only smaller in size but younger by almost half your age. Well, first come to mind is that this must be a joke. Secondly, this must have made you feel real ‘dumb’ in order for someone so young to be teaching you. But that isn’t that case in Mahou Sensei Negima. That’s because everybody thinks it’s kinda cute and different and they love it. Okay, most of them at first. You’ll see why.
 
In this 26 episode anime series, we have a 10 year old protagonist, Negi Springfield, who hails from Wales (rhyme intended) and is also some sort of a young wizard-in-training. However, in order to pass his final test to become a Magister (teacher of magic), Negi has been assigned as an English and homeroom teacher at an all-female boarding school, Mahora Academy. In addition, Negi cannot also reveal his identity as a magic user to his students. Though his identity remains known to only a few, but I felt that throughout the series gradually everyone knows about it but doesn’t make a big thing out of it.
 
Before I proceed, I just want to note that there are quite a number of Latin terms used in this series. Yup, even the title of the episodes are in Latin. So everytime, I would just go "What does that mean?" or "Huh?". You know my typical answer. Plus, whenever Negi or other magic users cast their spell, they would chant it in Latin too, which sounds like gibberish mumbling to me, even though the fansubs did try their best to put some translated notes on what they just said and mean. But you know what I’m gonna say, right?
 
Another 1 reason why I decided to watch this series was because of its advertisement. See what the power of advertisement can do. It’s not like they advertise it on tv or such. But rather, I notice some banners of it here and there over the internet and it got me thinking that well, it’s such a well known anime so maybe I should give it a shot. Plus, the series is done from the same person who did Love Hina and Itsudatte My Santa, Ken Akamatsu. So I suppose, I’ll be expecting his usual formula of comedy, romance, fantasy, adventure and magic. Feels a bit like Harry Potter but in chibi style. Even though most of the characters are females, I couldn’t say that I decided to watch it because of the bishoujos. And according to my standards, all the ladies here just look decent and okay. Nothing to swoon over. ;p
 
So as things start off in episode 1, we see Negi getting a bad start on his first day. Why? That’s because he accidentally embarrassed one of his would-be students, Asuna Kagurazaka. At first while the 2 were rushing to school during the morning hour, they bumped into each other and of course, Asuna proceeds to ‘abuse’ Negi before her twintail tickles Negi’s nostrils and he sneezed so powerful that it lifted Asuna’s skirt revealing her kiddie panties, much to her embarrassment. Yeah, she’ll be remembering this one.
 
To add wound to the salt, not only in class that Asuna found out that this little fellow is gonna be her homeroom teacher for class 2-A, this would mean that the beloved senior teacher that she has a crushed on, Takamichi Takahata, is being replaced by Negi as her homeroom teacher. And she was really really hoping for Takahata to be her homeroom teacher. Oh, the pain and disappointment. Of course, most of the other 30 over students of 2-A are overjoyed that such a cute kid is gonna be their teacher. Well, I suppose that if you’re in an all-female school and suddenly some cutie adorable kid shows up. They’d be in ecstacy. Well, even if it’s not that typical handsome tall hunk, I guess this will just do.
 
Then we also find out that the class president, Ayaka Yukihiro, seems to always be loggerheads with Asuna. Yeah, the 2 are always at each other throat, so much so that whenever those 2 get into a quarrel or fight, the rest of the class cheers them on to fight! Some classmates they have. They just love all the action and ‘romance’ between those 2. Yeah, and in the first episode itself those 2 had around 3 rounds of girl fights already. And one of them resulted in Asuna’s uniform being torn into pieces after Negi sneezes while trying to stop them. You can picture the scene yourself. Good thing it’s an all-female school. Bad thing is, Takahata who’s passing by saw it. Bummer.
 
Also during class, Asuna noticed a few strange things about Negi. Yeah, there’re faint hints of Negi using his magic like stopping time to stop a blackboard duster from falling over his head. As for the other girls, I think theyr’e swooning over him instead of noticing things like this. Also, Negi is given some book with a headshot of all his 2-A students in it to record things. Can’t blame Negi. He’s still a kid. Drawing horns and some nasty words over Asuna’s pic.
 
Just then, one of Negi’s students, the shy librarian Nodoka Miyazaki trips and falls down the stairs while she was carrying a huge stack of books. Negi who saw this, whips out his mage staff (given by his father to him) and chants some spell to break Nodoka’s fall. Unfortunately, Nodoka’s still too heavy for a small kid (no offence intended) as Negi tries to carry her but instead her butt fell on his face. Luckily Nodoka’s unconscious, or else… Another bad thing is, Asuna happened to be nearby and saw the whole magic thing. Oh oh. Identity busted.
 
So it’s something like this for the rest of the episode. Asuna knows about Negi’s secret identity and threatens to expose it all unless he helps her do her bidding. For instance in episode 2 how Asuna wants Negi to use some mind reading power on Takahata’s mind but ends up with hilarious results. Or in episode 3 where Asuna asks Negi to create a love potion to make her fall in love with Takahata but Negi accidentally drank it (yeah, Asuna shove it down his throat) and the potion is starting to take effect on all the girls except Asuna. Hmm… what’s with that moment of intimacy between Negi and Nodoka trapped together when a library bookshelf fell on them. Luckily the potion wore off. I mean, Negi could’ve erased Asuna’s memories but he accidentally ‘erased’ her panties again. Whoops. Looks like his spell casting needs a little practice. And Takahata just passed by and saw the whole thing. Double bummer. But due to circumstances, they’ll often find each other working together to overcome problems and sticky situations. And over time, you’ll see that there’s this invisible bond created and Asuna won’t come to hate Negi anymore in the end.
 
But the whole series isn’t just about Negi and Asuna. It also involves other weird and odd students of 2-A. Speaking of which, they’re all really one kind. A bunch of misfits put together in one class I must say. But since they’re 30 over students, I’ll just mention a few of the prominent ones. Uh-huh. even in the series, some of the students are ‘just there’ to make up for the numbers and don’t actually play any significant role the way I see things.
 
First off, the main female protagonist is Asuna. Besides having that newspaper delivery as her part time job, she’s quite a good runner and is conflict with some people around her maybe because of her sometimes stubborn attitude. She’s an orphan and because of the academy’s headmaster, she managed to lived gain entry and live there. Oh, have you noticed that each of Asuna’s eye is a different eye colour? I suppose they made her character like that purposely rather than a production flaw or mistake.
 
As mentioned, the class rep Ayaka is your typical filthy stinking rich girl though she looks and sometimes act like a spoilt brat on the outside, but on the inside she’s actually kind and caring person. Why not. You need to have that characteristics in order to be a class rep. Plus, she has a crush on Negi (and probably the most obviously shown one among the girls but she mentions that she loves Negi because she thinks he needs a ‘motherly figure’. Yeah right) since she first laid eyes on him and at times would sometimes try to woo for his attention but usually doesn’t go too well in the end. Like when she kissed a paper Negi instead of the real one during the class’s Kyoto trip.
 
Also mentioned previously, the shy librarian girl Nodoka. You wonder if she can actually see clearly because her front portion of her hair is covering her eyes most of the time (maybe that’s why she fell down the stairs in episode 1 rather than the heavy books). At first she’s very very very shy and afraid of men (possibly a phobia thingy). But after Negi saved her from that falling incident, that’s when she slowly started to have feelings for him. Though, throughout the series, you’ll find her very hesitant, indecisive and unsure about her love towards Negi.
 
Then there’s Nodoka’s friend, Ayase Yue, what most people would refer her to as a ‘cool slacker’. She has that ‘no expression’ kinda face. One thing about Yue is that she’s actually a smart girl. But because she’s lazy and despise studying, she tends to end up having bad grades for every tests she takes. This is evident when Yue failed a test miserably but did very well on the re-take. Even the headmaster adviced her to keep it up by studying but she just say "no" in that monotonous tone of hers. Yue also knows of Nodoka’s crush towards Negi and tries to help Nodoka get close with him, though towards the end of the series, Yue too finds herself falling for Negi.
 
Asuna’s best friend, the caring and cheerful Konoka Konoe, who is also supposed to be the headmaster’s granddaughter. At times she can be seen as a mediator between Asuna and Negi. Also later in the series, we’ll find out that Konoka too has some latent magical powers, though she herself doesn’t know about it at first. It’s because she comes from a line of powerful magicians. Powers that are so powerful that there’re some parties who wants to harness it for themselves. But thankfully, she’s got her caring classmates and Negi to save the day.
 
Also as revealed later on in the series as Konoka’s childhood friend is Setsuna Sakurazaki. She is supposed to be Konoka’s guardian and ‘disguises’ herself as a student of 2-A to carry out her mission. She carries a sword around with her and possess an exceptional fighting ability. Because of her closeness to Konoka, some may misinerpret it as yuri and she has romantic feelings for Konoka. But this isn’t anything definitive as Setsuna too later feels that she’s unworthy of protecting Konoka and maintains a distant atmosphere between her.
 
Then there’s this girl Chisame Hasegawa, who from the outside seems to be a down-to-earth girl but in fact she leads a double life. Back home, she’s a grumpy computer geek and turns into her alter ego, Chiu, some Net Idol, by posting sexy cosplay pictures of herself over her website after editing and enhancing them through… Photoshock…?! Haha. She dislikes all her weird classmates because they’re all just… weird. Like as though she’s so normal like that. Anyway, there’s one episode (episode 11) on Chisame where she desparately tries to outdo class 2-A because she finds that the class’s website is getting even more popular than hers. Now competition is healthy. But in the end, it’s just the class’s attempt to let her get involve more with the class. At least her alternate identity’s still a mystery to some because they recognized that Chiu person to be prettier and bustier. Now is that a complimentary or insult?
 
Then there’s this self proclaimed Baka Rangers. Not that they’re really proud of it but I guess that they’re being realistic. Though they’re not good in studying but at least they’re good in physical stuffs. Consists of 5 members including Yue (you know why lah) and Asuna (reluctantly), the other 3 members include the Chinese kung-fu martial artist Ku Fei, the tall and easy going ninja-like Kaede Nagase, and the short, childlike gymnast, Makie Sasaki. Looks like another bunch of misfits and weirdos, aren’t they.
 
I noticed that there’s a ghostly-like girl sitting in the front desk. I was wondering who was that and what’s her significance, since everybody else seems to be ignoring her. Then later, in episode 19, we find out that she’s actually Sayo Aisaka, who was a school girl in this classroom and died over 60 years ago. Though, I’m still not pretty clear about her death, a 2-A classmate, the photographer and class reporter Kazumi Asakura, decides to investigate things when she finds out Sayo’s name in the registry book. And when Negi announced the names of those who’ll be going for the Kyoto trip, Kazumi mentioned to Negi that he left someone out. Then Evangeline chanted some spell and now everyone in class can see her, though she’s till a ghost. Huh? Anyway, Sayo’s happy that she could make friends with everyone.
 
Speaking of Evangeline McDowell, she’s the only Caucasian in class and is actually a vampire! The class just keeps getting weirder and weirder doesn’t it. In addition, Evangeline is more than 500 years old. Because of her previous battle with Negi’s father, Nagi AKA The Thousand Master, which resulted in Evangeline being confined to a body of a 10 year old and the grounds of Mahora Academy, her magical abilities were also limited. This cold devilish little girl has a servant named Chachamaru Karakuri (funny name), who’s a robot (I wonder why the students of 2-A Don’t seem to notice that she’s a robot) and serves Evangeline faithfully and calls her master. Just like a typical robot with no emotions, she has all those missiles, arms, jet propulsions and can also use magic to aid Evangeline. Evangeline had her battle with Negi in episode 6 and 8 which reveals her past. But I like the part where Asuna barges in to help and Evangeline blabs about using her magic to stop Asuna. But before she could finish blabbing, Asuna lands her punch and kick on her face. Haha. So funny.
 
Other weirdos in class 2-A include another librarian club member, the bespectacled Haruna Saotome, the introvert Mana Tatsumiya who carries a rifle and probably one would mistake her for a mercenary (are guns allowed in school?), another rich Chinese girl, Chao Lingshen, the Narutaki twins Fuuka and Fumika, who have totally opposite characteristics from each other with the former being the class prankster and the latter a goody-two-shoes girl, the robotics genius and inventor of the class Satomi Hakase, and that gentle chubby cook Satsuki Yotsuba, whom everybody likes.
 
I also happen to notice that each of the girls are affiliated with some sort of club and in a way are always seen as a ‘group’ together. Like the cheerleaders of 2-A which include Misa Kakizaki, Sakurako Shiina and Madoka Kugimiya. The sports club members which include Ako Izumi (athelete and football), Akira Okochi (swimming), Yuna Akashi (basketball) and Makie. Then the Libriarian Exploration Club which consists of Nodoka, Yue and Haruna. Note that the academy’s library is so big that it has an island of its own and there’re unexplored and abandoned sections of the library which goes on and on deep underground. It’s like a maze down there. Now this is a reading haven for bookworms. What about the twins’ Walking Club which the main activity is… just to walk about. I see, not even the students are weird but some of the clubs are weird too. Then there’s Satomi and Chao, Evangeline and Chachamaru. Of course there are loners that don’t seem to be a pair with anyone else like Natsumi Murakami of the theatrical club, Chizuru Naba of the astronomy club, Mana who also works as a part time priestess, and the most mysterious one Zazie Rainyday, who has weird paintings and markings on her face.
 
Then there’s that perverted white ermine, Chamo, which made his appearance in episode 5. He’s actually an underwear thief and he bluffed Negi by saying that Negi’s sister sent him so that he could help Negi find a suitable partner. A partner in this context means a person who is supposed to support the magician when he/she casts his/her spell. And sometimes the partner and the magician do get married. Of course Asuna interprets this as girlfriend and before you know it, there’s this rumour of Negi searching for a girlfriend spreading throughout the academy. What do you think the other girls are thinking?
 
Anyway that hyped-up ermine decides to set up Negi and Nodoka. And to authenticate the partnership (which is called a pactio), both must kiss! You know what they’re thinking, right? But before Negi and Nodoka can kiss (with Chamo even cheering them on), Asuna interrupts the process and grabs Chamo. Yup, soon they find out Chamo’s bluff and Chamo then relates his sad story of how he came to be. Like how Chamo’s fleeing from the law because he stole over 2000 lingerie and if he’s a magician’s familiar, such as Negi, he couldn’t be arrested. Yeah, real sad story. Chamo even lied further by saying that he stole those lingerie to keep Negi’s sister warm. Liar. Unfortunately, Negi believes him. *Eyes rolling*. But anyway, looks like Chamo’s here to stay with Negi. In addition, Chamo too has to keep his identity a secret. Firstly, it’ll be just plain weird if one sees a talking ermine. Really. I also felt that Chamo’s role in the series is more for comic relief. What’s that ermine doing smoking a chocolate flavour cigarette?
 
Before I move on, Negi has an older sister and a childhood friend (or is it his little sister) which we see in the eary episodes in one of Negi’s flashback when they bid him farewell before Negi leaves for Japan. However, I felt that throughout the series, no further information or detail is revealed about them. And I initially thought that they would play a role later in the series. Plus, Nagi has gone missing for several years already and many believed that he had died on his travels. But Negi still believes that his father is still alive and is currently searching for him too.
 
Also, Negi made his first pactio with Asuna in episode 7 when Asuna gives him a peck on Negi’s forehead rather on his lips (I guess that will also do) when they take on Chachamaru. Yup, they thought that robot girl’s up to something no good but she’s actually helping and taking care of little kittens. Much to their surprise and mine, I thought she has no emotions. Ah well, I suppose if a robot can look and do things so human-like, maybe it can also develope some feelings on its own as well.
 
I find some of the adventures to be a little inconsistent and illogical. What do I mean? Take for instance in episode 4, after the Baka Rangers managed to get the minimum score to pass a test set by Negi, Asuna drags Negi to give him a bath when all her classmates arrive. While those 2 hide, they overheard Ayaka and the girls debating who gets to keep Negi through a contest, in which the girl with the biggest breasts wins. Perverts or rather desparate. Ayaka thought of this idea because she was very sure she was the bustiest one until the whole gang saw Chizuru’s, much to Ayaka’s protest. As Negi and Asuna tried to slip put, the tripped and fell into a compromising position. Too bad, everybody saw that. So Asuna got inadvertantly dragged in and Negi who thinks that he wants to stay with Asuna used a little magic to make Asuna’s breasts grow bigger. But it keeps on growing and growing (like inflating) as everybody watched in awe. Then the illogical part was when it became too big it exploded! Yes her breasts exploded! But in the end, though Asuna’s in a little pain after that explosion, but it’s as though her inflated breasts were made out of balloon. I though Negi inflated her real breasts. Don’t get it. By the way, I’m not a pervert!
 
If you’re thinking why would Negi want to stay with Asuna, it’s because back in episode 2, Negi had no place to live so Konoka brought Negi back to live in their room, even if it’s an all-girl dorm. Much to Asuna’s dismay at first, but you’ll see that she’ll accept it as time goes by. Also, next to Asuna and Konoka’s room is Nodoka’s and her pals. So as expected, you’ll see and hear Nodoka’s fears, uncertainty and hesitant about having a guy living next door. But you know she’s actually falling for him.
 
Another one of those illogical moments can be found in episode 12 and 13 whereby there’s an upcoming exam. This exam is important because if Negi’s class gets last place in the rankings, Negi will have to quit being a teacher. Of course Negi thought that he could used a little magic to help the Baka Rangers but was persuaded by Asuna not to. Thus, Negi sealed himself which prevents him from using any magic for 3 days. At the same time, Asuna heard that there’s a book in the library which could help make the Baka Rangers real smart. And off they go as they head deep down into the library. They had to play a twister game to get the book? But they failed and fell deeper into the library underground. And since Negi can’t use his magic for 3 days, I guess they all have to wait as they’re stucked there.
 
Finally when it’s time to leave, a giant golem attacks them. And as they’re making their escape through some elevator, they had to strip off their clothes because the elevator is carrying the maximum weight before going back up. Of course the exam has already started and the other girls of 2-A are worried will Negi and the Baka Rangers make it back in time. Even though they’re late, they manage to take their papers in time. I thought that they’ve already discarded their clothes and was expecting some shock and surprise facial expressions when they reached school. But nooooo. When were they clothed back? I mean it’s as though that clothes discarding moment was like nothing. By the way, I’m not a pervert!
 
Then another illogical part is when the exam results were out. To class 2-A’s horror as they wait anxiously for their class name to be announced anywhere except last, it finally dawned to them that their class may have been in last place. Negi, who’s assuming everything (yeah, ASS-U-ME), packs his bags and leaves for the train station. Then the headmaster announced that there’s been a change in the ranking. Because of the Baka Ranger’s late arrival, their papers have been marked and graded later. So the final results propelled class 2-A to second spot!!! WOW! Out of 26 classes, they got second place! Which mean to say that the Baka Rangers did exceptionally good scoring over 100% and that the rest of the girls of 2-A just did mediocre. And the illogical part is, how can 5 girls propel a class’s overall ranking to second?! Huh? Makes no sense. But anyway, the girls managed to catch Negi before he leaves and spill the good news. Yay! Negi gets to keep his job at Mahora Academy. And it seems that all that has happened during Negi and the Baka Rangers on Library Island are part of the headmaster’s doing.
 
Other fun-filled adventures include how Negi learned some forest survival skills with Kaede in episode 7, getting involve in the twins’ Walking Club while getting lost in order to deliver a message to a student in episode 9, the class of 2-A decides to challenge a bunch of snobbish high school girls in a dodgeball competition in episode 10 whereby the winner gets to keep Negi. Yeah, even high school girls love Negi’s cuteness. Even though those high school girls lost, I love the part where they show class 2-A of their ugly fat teacher and the reason why they wanted Negi so bad. Haha. But they still hugged and rubbed their cheeks on Negi after that. Too hard to resist, huh.
 
Then in episode 14, Konoka and Negi went out shopping together but their outing was misinterpreted by the cheerleaders, Misa, Sakurako and Madoka when they think that the 2 are dating. Of course when Ayako finds out about it when the 3 sends a pic of them through their handphones, she wants to break them apart. Looks like Nodoka’s pretty shock too. But in the end, Ayako realized that all this was just a misunderstanding and that nothing had really happened between them. See, never jump the gun or ASS-U-ME things.
 
Also in episode 15 where Ayaka gets all high when Negi told her that he’ll be visiting her home for the summer holidays. The catch is, all the other 2-A classmates are there as well. Oh well, I guess there goes her plans for some private moment with Negi as Ayaka has to help control the helter-skelter of her classmates. Or organizing that ‘Kiss Negi’ through some test of courage at some abandoned school building in episode 16. Yeah, those who wants to kiss Negi are paired up into several groups. They will take each other out through some friendly fight and the team who gets to kiss Negi wins. In this episode too, it’s the start of Yue’s feelings towards Negi as she had a near kiss experienced at the end. Yeah, Yue’s wondering about her feelings too and would it arise to betraying Nodoka.
 
Probably because of that in episode 17, Yue sets up a date between Nodoka and Negi at some amusement park. Surprisingly, Nodoka to sum up her courage and confessed her feelings to Negi, leaving him rather shock in the end. So in episode 18, Negi’s pondering whether to reply back to Nodoka but ends up helping Asuna bake a cake. Why is Asuna baking a cake? That’s because she intends to give it to Takahata who’s birthday is also coming up soon. Seeing this, Negi gets the motivation to meet up with Nodoka and tells her how he feels. Well, since they’re teacher and student, it’ll be weird if they’re to start a relationship, right? They might end up like the protagonists in Oku-sama Wa Joshi Kousei. So Negi suggests that they start out as friends, much to Nodoka’s delight. Anyway, Asuna’s disappointed to find that Takahata has gone off for some business trips and eats the cake all by herself. Poor girl. I guess she can’t deliver her feelings to her beloved Takahata even if it’s fate, magic or her own destiny.
 
Then there’s that school trip to Kyoto in episode 20 and 21. Here some group called Hogun decides to kidnap Konoka for her latent powers. So some flashback between Konoka and Setsuna and stuffs like that before Negi, Asuna and Setsuna sets off on a rescue mission. But even after they’ve rescued her, those Hogun people kidnaps her again. But this time, several of Negi’s students join in the fray to help. Then one of the Hogun members tries to tap Konoka’s latent powers by summoning some super beast from another dimension. Luckily Evangaline’s there to put a stop to it all and save the day.
 
Thus, you have that usual aftermath episode 22 where the whole gang returns from the Kyoto trip. While Negi decides to learn some magic from Evangaline to help further protect the academy, we see some moments between Konoka and Setsuna, some love pondering moments from Nodoka of Negi. But this episode is more on Asuna and the start of things to come. Asuna wants to confess to Takahata but spots him having a friendly chat with one of another female teacher, Shizuna Minamoto, and gets discouraged and depressed.
 
So in episode 23, you’ll see what serious condition Asuna has. To cut things short, 10 years ago Asuna had very strong magical powers so much so she could burn down an entire village and lots of demons were after her. As a result, she made a contract with one of the demons to ‘distance herself from all kinds of magic’. Thus, Asuna has some ‘nullification’ effect. Meaning, magic around her are nullified or canceled out, having no effect. Now this explains why Evangeline can’t use magic around her and during other magic fights. Just lke Sakura Mikan of Gakuen Alice. In exchange of this, Asuna has only 10 years to live. Hmm… that’s why she’s looking so worried. And the thing is, everybody’s planning on throwing a birthday bash for her in class tomorrow, but they forgot about it and throw it the day before instead. What’s so bad about it? Her birthday is also the day that she will DIE!!! Oh my God! Looks like the contract’s expiring.
 
So after a fun-filled birthday party with Asuna looking not too enjoying herself, she went and sat on a big tree and had some chat with Negi. Hey Negi, by the way Asuna talked, you should’ve sensed that something was wrong with her. I mean you’ve known her for quite awhile and even lived in the same room with her. As the clock strikes midnight, Asuna thanked Negi tearfully and then fell off the branch, dead. Shock! Asuna really dead? Could it be? Even Negi’s in shock as he grabs her motionless body.
 
The whole class and Negi are still coming to terms with Asuna’s sudden death in episode 24. Besides Setsuna quitting school to protect Konoka from afar and Evangeline’s chiding towards Negi when the latter asked her to revive Asuna back using her magic as she mentions that even magic can’t be used as far as that, the most significant and shocking development is at the episode’s end. We see Negi sitting on the riverbank by himself blaming himself for Asuna’s death when Yue comes up to him and they both chat. Some questions about if Negi likes Asuna or not and as Yue gets closer to Negi, she spots Nodoka who has witnessed them together. But before Nodoka can run away, Yue stops her and before you know it, Yue kissed Negi on his lips! Oh, shocking! Looks like Yue’s fed-up of Nodoka’s hesitating and indecisiveness. So she decides to up the challenge to Nodoka because by now I think Yue too really has feelings towards Negi. If you’re not fast enough girl, he’ll be gone. Probably that’s what Yue’s trying to tell her.
 
But later in the end, even though Nodoka mentions that she’ll try her best to win Negi’s heart, but she also says that she won’t mind if she lose because she’ll lose to her best friend. Is this what sharing is all about? I mean, if you can’t have him, might as well let somebody have him, right? Such a friendly challenge. If only real life was like that.
 
And this is the crappiest, most illogical and nonsensical part. You’ll see why. In the last 2 episodes, Negi and the rest of the 2-A students went back in time. I felt that Satomi and Chao invented the time machine just for the convenience of this episode. As the gang landed 9 years back in time, somewhere in Germany (how can a time machine also send them precisely where they want to go?). During the time travelling, Negi gets separated from the other girls. Negi meets up with a young Asuna who seems to be travelling with Nagi. But Asuna and Nagi doesn’t seem to know who Negi is at that time. We learn that Nagi’s currently travelling around with Asuna to find and break the contract with the demon Asuna made the contract with. So Negi for the moment lives with the 2 and there some of those Negi-Asuna moments as Negi finds out more about her.
 
The next day however, as Nagi went to fetch some water, a demon attacks him. But because Asuna’s close by, Nagi can’t used his magic and was thus stabbed by the demon. Nagi managed to get some distance between himself and Asuna before transporting himself and the demon to another dimension. Before that, he told Negi who just arrived to take care of Asuna before dropping his staff. I see, that’s where Nagi disappeared to.
 
Because of that, more demons appeared. Negi than takes Asuna back to the town where the other girls are by flying on his staff. I thought Asuna had that nullification effect. Convenience, I’d say. So there’s only 1 way to defeat all the demons, that is, to make a pactio with all of the girls. Yes, he has to kissed everyone. Ayaka is over the moon. Everyone transformed into some cosplay outfit which fits their personality or what they do best as they kick each and every demon’s butt.
 
Then the final demon boss appeared, supposedly the one who made the contract with Asuna, suddenly grabs Asuna. But after some super combined powers from Negi and the other girls, that demon’s defeated and soon everyone bade farewell to Asuna as they head back to their present time. Back at present time the day before Asuna’s real birthday at the class birthday party, it seems that only Negi, Evangeline, Chachamaru and Asuna remembered what happened back then. By the way, if Asuna did really remember what happened, then I guess all those moments right back up till episode 1 are ‘redundant’, aren’t they? I mean, she should’ve remembered who Negi is when he first arrived at the academy, right?
 
This is the crap part, instead of keeping silent over her condition back in episode 23, she cried and told everyone about her problems. All her concerned friends went over to comfort and hear her out. And how can Satomi and Chao create a device which could anull the demon’s contract in such a bloody short period of time? Firstly, how do they know how to create such a device when magic has even failed? Yeah, it seems that Negi went back in time just to tell a young Asuna to voice out and rely on her friends rather than keeping silent. WHAT THE???!!! I thought at least he went back to stop Asuna from making the contract or what, but noooo, he went back and tell her some words to boost her confidence so that when the time comes she can open up and that’s it. As they gather at the tree and activates the device to cure Asuna, Negi wonders if he’ll be a good teacher. Asuna replies that he will as long as he didn’t give up. The end.
 
The ending was the most crappiest, bad taste in the mouth ending that I have ever watched in my entire life. No wonder a lot of fans complained and protested about the series. Yeah, it seems they like the manga better. I dunno. I never read it but the ending actually spoils it all for me if what could’ve been quite an okay anime.
 
But aside that, everything else seems okay from the drawing to the art to the animation and voice acting. Though I felt the drawing and animation is drawn ‘simple’ in a way for younger audience, which isn’t the case exactly. The mid-intermission seems amusing with Negi and Chamo in chibi form trying to summon the hiragana words of ‘Negima’ with that Arabian kind of background music. And sometimes instead of the hiragana ‘Negima’, he would summon all of his 2-A students in chibi form as they fall over. Hehe.
 
Even I find the opening credits a little amusing. Besides that checker display of the girls of 2-A and we see them also getting up close and personal, like doing a one on one kiss with Negi. The opening song, Happy Material, sounds cute though it wasn’t that appealing to me. Sounds like your typical anime classroom choir song.
 
Since there are only 26 episodes, I guess it isn’t enough to give each and every girl of class 2-A their dues, like some character focus and development. Some with just a few lines only and didn’t do much in the series. And if you really want to get to know more about those lovely girls, you’ll have to go read the manga. In my opinion and for the record, Ayaka’s still the prettiest one of the lot though I’ve mentioned that the girls here just looked normal.
 
Currently, a remake of the Negima series is currently being aired in Japan. Most probably the producers bowed to the pressures of the fans and decides to redo things. The colouring and shading seems different and I believe the storyline is as well. Such as how the series starts off with Negi taking on Evangeline and Setsuna and Konoka are known as best pals already. But I’m not planning to watch it, since I’m afraid of another crap ending. Perhaps the producers have taken of that part. Don’t know just don’t feel like it. Unless you’re an absolutely hardcore Negima fan, maybe you should also try watching the OVAs. For me, nah… too much Negima overdose already. And it’s all hampered by that crap ending.

Jubei Chan 2

February 23, 2007

What are the chances of me (yes, me) understanding exactly what’s going on in the second season of a series when I have not even watched the first one? Hehe, you know the answer already, don’t you. Blur at first and still blur at the end. The anime that I’m talking about is Jubei Chan 2: Siberia Yagyuu No Gyakushuu (The Counter Attack Of Siberia Yagyuu).
 
It was a little peculiar at first when I thought why would the local tv station air the second season first without showing the first one? Maybe the first one was ‘too old’ and probably they want to try and show ‘more current’ animes. By the way, this second season is a year 2004 production, so is 3 years considered ‘old’. Maybe with the recent trend of Japan churning out nearly 100 anime titles per year, maybe one can consider it to be old.
 
Since I didn’t watch the first season, I’m not sure whether this second season is a direct continuation of the first one. Yes, there’re some connections like the characters (duh!) and that pink heart shaped eyepatch called Lovely Eyepatch, that seems to transform the 15 year old ordinary teenage high school girl Jiyuu Nanohana into the legendary female warrior Jubei Yagyuu The Second.
 
With 13 episodes in this second season, I’m hoping it wouldn’t be that bad to understand things. Though I’ve read a little upfront for this second season, it seems that this season is more serious as compared to the first season as it focuses more on the drama and build-up of the storyline. Of course, there’re your usual comedy and humourous elements which cracks the viewers into a little smile or a whole-hearted laughter.
 
Okay, so the storyline is something like this. The opening of the first episode sees 2 men having their duel on some icy block. To save time, one of the guy is the legendary samurai warrior, Jubei Yagyuu The First, who looks like a pirate because of his dark and round eyepatch. And the other guy being Kitaressai Yagyuu, a bald samurai warrior with a pair of walrus skin on his shoulders, supposedly to be another Yagyuu clan banished to Siberia, thus changing their name to Siberia Yagyuu.
 
Later in the series, we’ll see some storyline about how this happened but to cut things short, I’ll just blog about it now. It seems that even after an attempt to assassinate Kitaressai and his other clan members, the Edo Yagyuu still wants to get rid of them and sends Jubei Yugyuu to Siberia to do it. Though Jubei Yagyuu was reluctant to do it, he just went there anyway. During his journey there, he fell in love with a woman and started a family. Soon, they gave birth to a daughter, Freesia.
 
Then one fateful day, those 2 met and after some provocation from Kitaressai, they fought. Unfortunately during the intensed battle, the ice block broke, causing Jubei’s wife and himself to drown while Freesia has been frozen in suspended animation in some glacier. Fast forward 300 years later, it seems global warming (convenient, isnt it) has not only started to melt polar caps but that glazier Freesia remains dormant in.
 
And when Freesia manages to break free and regain her consciousness, it seems that those events that took place 300 years are still fresh in her mind. Why not? She’s in suspended animation, isn’t she? Freesia then gets to know that the Lovely Eyepatch, which was supposed to be left from her dad to her (she claims that it’s rightfully hers), is under the possession of Jiyuu Nanohana. Because of that, Freesia, felt furious that an imposter is holding something which belongs to her and vows to get it back and at the same time make Jiyuu suffer by infiltrating Jiyuu’s school as a new transfer student. By the way, there’s 1 crap episode of how Freesia found out about Jiyuu’s case. Yeah, she was wondering through the forest when she stumbled upon a group of animals which then proceeds to take care of her until she grows up. And when one of the mammals she sent out previously to find the location of the Lovely Eyepatch returned with its report, Freesia thanked them and departs on her mission. What the?! What on Earth is this! Disney or Treetop Friends?! Crap.
 
Before I move on, let me note that though Jiyuu has no relation with the legendary Jubei, but it seems that everyone, her friends and her family seems to nickname her and call her Jubei. Maybe it sounds cute. And maybe that’s why there’s this misunderstanding that Jiyuu is Jubei. Also probably why in the first season some bumbling guy called Koinosuke Odagou, keeps pestering Jiyuu in the first season to take the Lovely Eyepatch because he thinks that Jiyuu is the legendary Jubei Yagyuu The Second.
 
Speaking of which, I think that Koinosuke guy died, though I’m not sure it was at the end of last season or what. That’s because due to his demise, his only son Ayunosuke (which at the end is revealed to be his daughter dressed as a boy. But I’ll refer Ayunosuke as him) to deliver the Lovely Eyepatch to Jiyuu, if he fails to do so. Yup, after waiting for his dad to return for 300 years, Ayunosuke decides to complete the mission. Don’t be fooled by Ayunosuke’s petite size, though he looks weird, dirty and has some weird characteristics like stammering and talking real slow (really) and that persistant running nose drip hanging from his nose (eww!). Ayunosuke’s quite a competant fellow, as he’s fast and agile and can escape and flee in ligthning speed from an enemy’s grasp.
 
On the other hand, besides Freesia, there’s a bunch of group of losers living in some cave, supposedly the other clan members of the Siberia Yagyuu have learned about the existance of Jiyuu and are planning to take their revenge on her. Bunch of losers, I say? Yeah, in this bunch we have 5 funny looking guys (don’t recall their names) with like 100 (could be less) chibi ninjas wearing colourful and different shapes of sunglasses. You may have that perception that those little ninjas are tough. But true to their ‘drawing’ they’re actually cowards just like those 5 blokes. Yeah, all talk only. That’s why they have this guy, Kitafuro Yagyuu, who’s the son of Kitaressai, to do the job. I guess he’s the only one with potential, though I sometimes find that he’s a loser too. Kitafuro too holds a grudge against the first Jubei Jiyuu for defeating his father and wants to take revenge. Looks like he’s quite enthusiastic and all charged up for their encounter.
 
And oh, there’s that small funny cone head (or is it a sharp tear drop) character, also wearing sunglasses, which is also part of the Siberia Yagyuu clan. I’m not sure what’s his real function in the clan, but besides the comical and humurous stuffs, he seems less a loser than the others (maybe because he’s still a little bit mysterious). But he still is one. I notice that the theme for this whole clan is sunglasses. Yeah, nearly everyone here seems to wear one. Is it the in thing after 300 years of slumber? Speaking of which, there’s one thing that bugs me. After 300 years, how come these people still look so normal. I mean, they should be dead already and if not, should’ve aged too. Don’t tell me they use Botox? Freesia’s case I can understand, but these losers? They should be decaying already.
 
Okay, back to Jiyuu and her buddies. Which high school teenage girl doesn’t have a couple of close girlfriends of their own. Though Shouko Maruyama and Sachi Touyama are Jiyuu’s classmates and best friends, I felt that these 2 didn’t play quite a significant part in this season (not sure about the last) and I felt that it was because ‘out of necessity’ that they appeared or for some little part in Jiyuu’s social life.
 
Then there’s these 4 guys too who’re in the same school as Jiyuu’s and they have a soft spot for her. Firstly, Jiyuu’s senior, Shiro Ryuunodera, who looks like your typical handsome high class Kendo club captain student, but is actually just another LOOOOSER. Then in the same class with Jiyuu, Bantarou Sanbonmatsu, who looks like a dumb gangster and another… you guessed too… LOOOOOSER. To round up the other 2 who’re also in Jiyuu’s class, they’re Ouzaru and Kozaru, though I’m not sure whether or not they’re related. Although these 2 resembles very closely to a monkey, Ouzaru and Kozaru are not so much a loser as compared to the other 2. In fact at times, they’re quite smart and intelligent, and it’s their curiosity, observation and analysis which later in the series, finds out that Jiyuu and Jubei are the same person. Yup, Jiyuu’s classmates didn’t know it at first.
 
These fab four are my favourite characters throughout the series because they provide comical relief to the show. Yeah, they never fail to make me burst into laughter with their silly antics. For instance, how they make comments like they don’t know who Kitafuro is because they’ve never seen him in the previous season! Or how they got some unfortunate treatment because they think that they are side characters of the series. Hahaha. Real funny. Though they have eyes only on Jiyuu, but with the appearance of Freesia, I think I can safely say that they have a soft spot for her too. Why, they even formed some ‘beautiful people’s club’ which includes themselves along with Jiyuu and Freesia.
 
Anyway, Freesia manages to easily infiltrate Jiyuu’s life. Yeah, she’s putting up that overly genki and friendly mask of hers. She likes to hug Jiyuu. No yuri thoughts here. And because Jiyuu’s such a nice and friendly person, she doesn’t mind it. And in no time, the 2 become good friends. But of course, everytime when Jiyuu’s not looking or somewhere else, you can see that evil looking face of Freesia. Like as though her scheme’s going according to plan.
 
There are other 2 supporting characters in the series as well. One of them being Jiyuu’s father, Sai, is some sort of a former ghostwriter (somebody who is paid to write books but is credited to somebody else’s name) and is currently trying to write a romance novel under his own name. He usually has writer’s block, as far as I can see. Jiyuu has high hopes and anticipation of wanting to read her father’s finished novel. But it seems throughout the series, you’ll find out that Sai enjoys drawing some comic rather than the love novel, much to Jiyuu’s disappointment.
 
But Sai’s life is about to slightly change with the appearance of Mikage Tsumura. I read that in the previous season, Mikage’s supposedly Jubei’s enemy. But I suppose that female ninja managed to reconcile with Jubei and in this season, she seems quite friendly with her. The reason being, she sensed that there’s gonna be a great battle coming for Jiyuu and thus she returned to help her prepare for it. Why, she even decided to live with Sai and does all the cooking and cleaning for him. I think that’s proabably why Sai had some feelings towards her. Well, it does take the load of household burden off his shoulders.
 
So the rest of the story is like this. At certain points, Freesia will transform herself into another Jubei Yagyuu and fights with a reluctant transformed Jiyuu, claiming herself to be the real Jubei Yagyuu and wants the imposter Jiyuu to give her the Lovely Eyepatch. The transformed Freesia looks like your typical hot Russian assassin swordsmen in white. Yeah, she has a blue spade as an eyepatch and her skills I think are equally matched to Jubei’s. At certain points in order not to confuse myself which Jubei is which, I”ll refer to the transformed Jiyuu and Freesia as themselves. You should be able to tell the difference because only the transformed ones will fight whereas the innocent looking school girls don’t. :)
 
But of course in one of the early episodes, Jiyuu who’s tired of being the legendary Jubei, decides to hand over her Lovely Eyepatch over to Freesia, much to the latter’s surprise. Yeah, she doesn’t want it, so much so she says that Freesia can have it. Then Ayunosuke would quickly grab it back before Jiyuu has the chance to do so. Some cat and mouse game here and there, but Ayunosuke usually outruns and disappears before Freesia is able to catch him. At other times, Ayunosuke seems to be pestering Jiyuu to take the Lovely Eyepatch, but Jiyuu refused, so much so that when it comes to battle time, Ayunosuke had to put it on for her. Uh-huh, he’s so small that he could just use her face as a landing platform and stick it there…?!
 
Then sometimes Kitafuro will barge in and demands a duel with Jubei, but he gets confused to which Jubei is the real one. But what the heck, he still fights them and often loses. Yeah, not good enough. Also, during one of Jiyuu’s and Freesia’s battles, Ouzaru and Kozaru spots them and thus it begins their curiosity on whether Jiyuu and Jubei are the same person. Of course, Shiro and Bantarou also gets involve lah. It wouldn’t be so funny without them.
 
I like episode 5 because it shows how funny and cowardly those Siberia Yagyuus are. Yup, they decided to rashly take revenge on Jubei through some dumb plan of theirs by kidnapping Freesia. Yeah, those guys too didn’t know Freesia’s a Yagyuu decendant too. It’s a day where Jiyuu and Freesia are having their fun outing together at the city with Mikage tagging along. And that pointy cone head managed to distract Mikage with some cooking knife demonstration. Funny and lame. Of course when Freesia gets kidnapped and Jiyuu gets word from the Siberia Yagyuu clan to meet them at some place if she ever wants to see her friend alive again, Jiyuu rushes there. Freesia of course decides to pretend and play dumb and see what those pathetic guys are up to.
 
Once there, Jiyuu finds that Freesia is being held captive at the rooftop of some large Japanese house. And all those chibi ninjas are like surrounding her but scared of her. So darn funny lah. With her inner strength of friendship and such, Jiyuu slowly climbs up the walls in order to reach Freesia. But Freesia don’t look impressed and is wondering why Jiyuu’s doing all this. Jiyuu really does consider Freesia to be her friend and there’re no hidden intentions behind it. And those Siberia Yagyuus wants her to transform into the legendary Jubei Yagyuu The Second. Unfortunately, Jiyuu slipped and fell halfway. Luckily, Ayunosuke heard her scream from far away and hurriedly rushed to the scene and put on the Lovely Eyepatch. Now, that’s really fast.
 
Once transformed, those 5 blokes got very afraid and threatens to drop Freesia. Accidentally, they did. Of course Jubei managed to save Freesia in time. One of them decides to go charge Jubei head on but the rest just got behind him cowardly and says that it was his idea in the first place. And within a blow, he’s down. Now the others are really panicking. And they still say how they’ll remember this and get their revenge next time as they flee the scene. Yeah, that showed them, Jubei.
 
But things are slowly taking a turn for the worse. And it starts off with Jiyuu finding out that her dad has been writing some comic instead of a romance love novel, she got upset and ran away from home. What’s wrong with this girl? Freesia then sees this as an opportunity to instigate things between Sai and Jiyuu. She tries to get into Sai’s good books by being that little goody-two-shoes girl. Meanwhile Kitafuro is practicing some ultimate technique whereby with a swoosh of the sword, he can cut the waterfall into half…?! Magnifique. And the Siberia Yagyuu guy who got slashed by Jubei earlier on seems to have realized things and seen the light. Must be the light which everyone sees before dying. Hahaha. Just kidding. For the sake of my reference, I’ll call him Tiger Head, since he’s wearing some tiger looking headgear. That guy went to have some chat and get some advice from Mikage about the revenge thing may be wrong and stuffs. Yeah, Mikage quips why is he talking so close to her.
 
Finally, Freesia decides to reveal her true intentions to Jiyuu when at the same time Kitafuro appears and decides to challenge Jiyuu and test his new ultimate technique. Looks like Mikage’s joining in the fray too. The spectacular ariel battle downhill’s quite exciting and nice. The way the camera angles and those manoeuvers made it feel like you’re part of the action. In Freesia’s rage, she managed to take out and wound Mikage and Kitafuro. What’s this? The use of their wasit ribbons as a parachute to break their fall. Seems a little far-fetched. But no doubt it’s quite a stunning battle scene. In the process too, Freesia also managed to wound Jiyuu as the latter fell into some swampy forest below.
 
While Mikage is wandering in the swampy forest injured, we see Ayunosuke healing Jiyuu in some mud bath…?! Also, Kitafurou’s been done the same thing by Tiger Head nearby. I don’t really remember, but after Jiyuu got healed, she said something which made Ayunosuke a little upset. As a result, he turned into some wood in the forest holding the Lovely Eyepatch in his hand. Back at Jiyuu’s home, Freesia is trying to distort things to Sai but is somehow rather unsuccessful. Yeah, Sai’s also a little depressed since his little girl has ran away from home and he feels guilty about it. Freesia even went as far as saying that she wants Sai to be her father.
 
And of course those fab four decides to investigate things such as Jiyuu’s disappearance. I like the part where those 4 guys decides to go protect Jiyuu and gathered outside her house. Sai who saw those 4 as some unruly mob gathering outside, decides to call the police in which some female officer swiftly arrives in her bicycle and drags them all off to the police station. Hahaha. There’s a second time too. But this time they dressed as weird animal costumes (a cow?) so as not to look ferocious or mean. But Sai did the same thing and off they’re dragged again to the station.
 
Meanwhile, Mikage finds Ayunosuke in that wooden form during her meandering. I’m surprised she didn’t die after that injury. She must’ve lost alot of blood after that long walk in the forest. At least try and get some medical help first lah. Also some flashbacks here and there from Kitafuro when he was young and such bla bla bla. I suppose that this is the calm before the storm. Some drama and character development before the final action part. So as Jiyuu refreshed from her natural healing spa, returns home happily and expects everything to be back to normal, when she gets a rude shock. Yup, her dad gives her a slap on the face instead of the usual ‘I’m-happy-you’re-home’ hug. Jiyuu goes into shock mode and it must be a real traumatic experience for her. I guess even those battles as the legendery Jubei weren’t so bad.
 
Because of that, Jiyuu somewhat lost her memory. Plus, she’s been acting kinda weird too, much to her classmate’s surprise. But what’s even shocking is that Jiyuu doesn’t seem to remember her dad! Her pals are thinking that Jiyuu must be joking, but she isn’t. She must’ve erased him from her mind after that slap. Sai later felt guilty about slapping Jiyuu and went to apologized and asked her to come home but to no avail. And when Mikage finally got out of the forest, and saw the tension between Sai and Jiyuu, she decides to help Jiyuu prepare for the upcoming inevitable battle. Jiyuu even ran towards Mikage and called her mother! Shock. And because of that, Mikage employs some chainsaw wielding guy in a lumberjack suit, Tenryou Tsumura (I think it’s Mikage’s husband) to keep Sai at bay. This guy made some appearances here and there in the series and is usually while contacting Mikage, but it isn’t that prominent. But Sai’s fatherly instinct to protect Jiyuu overcomes all that and he manages to overpower Tenryou before running off with some samurai sword charging to where ever Jiyuu is right now.
 
In the meantime, we see the fab four trying to get to the bottom of it all by visiting the Siberia Yagyuu’s hideout. But unfortunately, they got captured. It was quite funny to see the 4 of them being tied up together and that sharp cone head character holding the other end of the rope. But while they’re being held captive, Ouzaru and Kozaru finds out more about the legendary Jubei and her connection with Jiyuu and Freesia… with that whiteboard sketch illustration…?! And those Siberia Yagyuu losers calmly listened to their explanations and theories. Now that they know that Jiyuu and Freesia are those transformed chics, they’re also torn between to support which one of them. Yeah, the Jiyuu we know may be the fake Jubei and vice versa, bla bla bla. Can they just choose both? Or maybe there can only be one.
 
But at the same time, Freesia decides to pay a visit to those Siberia Yagyuus too. And when she appeared, all of them got bloody scared and ran behind the fab four and the white board. It was so damn hilarious to see them running away in havoc. Why, they even ran out of the cave and took some boat trying to escape from Freesia. But after some extraordinary show of skill which frightened them even further, they all ran back to hide in their cave. Pathetic.
 
Anyway, after some time, Sai managed to find Jiyuu who’s still clinging on to Mikage as her mom. Some father-daughter talk like how Sai doesn’t care if Jiyuu makes the wrong decisions as long as she choses which path to take. Besides, you wouldn’t know the decision you make is right or wrong unless you take them, right? After talking some sense into her, I guess Jiyuu realized things abit and goes back to her normal self. Ah, the power of a father’s love. Then Mikage proceeds to show the wooden form of Ayunosuke. Jiyuu was overcome with emotions and while she cried and hugged the wooden Ayunosuke, her tears seemed to restore Ayunosuke back to normal. And looks like Jiyuu has accepted to become the legendary Jubei once more just for this final battle. Also, Kitafuro seems to have realized that his 300 year old grudge was wrong and seems to have turned over a new leaf.
 
So the final battle has finally arrived. But before that, we see Shiro (still being tied up with the other 3) issuing a challenge to Freesia. Why, he even quipped something like "I never thought that I would face you in this series…". Yeah, you still won’t. That’s because Jiyuu arrived in time for their ultimate battle before Freesia can do any harm to them. And before that too, Kitafuro seems to gate-crashed first but was again taken out. As the fight between Jiyuu and Freesia gets on its way, a lot of sword clashing, swift manoeuvers, fast action, as the others watch in awe. Then Jiyuu says that she will beat Freesia without using the sword. Yeah, something about using your heart when you fight. This also made Kitafuro remembered something that the first Jubei Yagyuu said. Something similar like that. I suppose that Kitafuro’s pretty convinced that Jiyuu’s the real Jubei Yagyuu The Second.
 
As far as I remember, Jiyuu manage to halt Freesia’s sword swing by just using her fingers. Wah. And then after talking some sense which made Freesia realized things, Freesia also did the same thing when Jiyuu swung her sword at her. And so after Freesia realized her mistake some reminiscence of the past, it was quite an odd scene to see her cry and finally both girls hugged each other. Aww… Friends again, but for real this time. Bantarou and Shiro wants to get in that hugging action but Ouzaru and Kozaru denied them. Ayunosuke then grabs both the Lovely Eyepatch and the spade shaped eyepatch. While both the girls returned back to normal, we see Kitafuro and the rest of the Siberia Yagyuus kneeling down to them both and Kitafuro saying how awesome she was and request that if he could have his fight with her. He seems kinda tame, though.
 
But it isn’t over yet. Remember that cone head fella? Soon after, he suddenly consumed Kitafuro and transformed into some ice behemoth. His super ice aura has made the surrounding area frozen (with most of the people there with their legs getting stuck in the ice) and that warm night into a cold one. Hey, doesn’t he look like Kitaressai? Yeah, it is him and he has finally come out to get his revenge. I wouldn’t have least expected that the cone head was Kitaressai. So is he sleeping or under the guise of that funny creature all this while? Anyway, for the first time, Jiyuu and Freesia teamed up to fight against him. They managed to defeat him and free Kitafuro, in which for a short moment there Kitafuro and Jiyuu clashed swords. But it seems that they downed each other. Even though Kitafuro admits defeat, he says he doesn’t regret it and seems satisfied.
 
Soon, Kitaressai resurrects once again and both Jiyuu and Freesia combined their powers to beat him. I mean really combine. They merged bodies to become one hot chic in a seemingly black leather outfit (looks like a pirate too if you ask me) now wielding 2 swords. And that eyepatch of theirs merged to become one round black eyepatch, which resembles the first Jubei Yagyuu’s. To cut things short, of course the combined Jiyuu and Freesia defeated Kitarassai with that using your heart battle technique.
 
Then the last ending part was crap. And I didn’t like it. It’s like a reunion of nearly everybody to tie things up. We see the spirit of the first Jubei Yagyuu and Kitaressai talking about some macho male ego thingy like how it wasn’t suppose to be a revenge but just the fact that Kitaressai wanted to duel with him because he was a great warrior. And they didn’t get to finish their business until today. What the?! So all this problem propped up just because of that?! And it lasted for 300 long years and through 13 episodes?! Even that Koinosuke guy’s there. Seems that he and Jubei Yagyuu are quite familiar with each other as Ayunosuke rushed to greet his dad and they both embraced. Freesia also embraced her dad.
 
Finally when everything is settled, Kitaressai can now rest in peace as he ascends to Heaven with the rest of those Siberia Yagyuu losers and their chibi ninjas. And somehow they turned back into better drawn samurais and no more that loser kinda cartoonish drawing. Erm… But in the process they left Tiger Head behind asking him to take care of Kitafuro, much to Tiger Head’s dismay. Why didn’t they bring him back too? I mean of course Tiger Head’s legs are still caught stuck within that frozen ice but leaving him like this? Too much. Too much crap. Soon Jubei Yagyuu, Koinosuke and Ayunosuke too ascended to Heaven. But Jiyuu seems reluctant to see Ayunosuke go.
 
I also didn’t get the final scene. The next day we see the fab four along with Shouko and Sachi waiting outside Jiyuu’s house while waiting for Jiyuu to come walk to school together. When they started walking, Jiyuu caught a glimpse of Ayunosuke sleeping in a dog kennel. Instantly she recognizes him and rushes to him. End of story. What the? That’s it? What a bummer. What does it mean? Even after the end credits finished we see Sai being torturously under pressure to finish his romance novel under the watchful eye of Mikage. And that Freesia girl looking up at the sky and smiling away at some grave. Has she broke free of her past and turned over a new leaf? Has she become permanent friends with Jiyuu?
 
Overall, besides the crappy ending which left me lots and lots of questions to ponder especially the ‘what actually happen to that character’, I felt that this is quite a pretty decent anime. It isn’t that bad though I felt it didn’t tie things up properly. I still can’t get over the ending which made me think that it’s possible they’re gonna make a 3rd season if they ever wanted to. But so far no word of it that a sequel is to be made.
 
For a short series, I could say that I’m pretty satisfied with the character development especially Jiyuu and Freesia’s. Though my favourite characters are still the fab four. At certain points I find that the drawing and animation to be a little dark and grim. Maybe it’s to fit and suit the melancholic drama at some point. Other than that, it’s a bright sunny typical Japanese anime drawing. And when the moment gets comical, you can obviously see it with those simple drawn lines. Oh yeah, before I forget, I notice that there’s this black and white sketchyly drawn guy who narrates the story and sometimes making comments or criticism by appearing at the side of the screen. I wonder who is he. But as the series progresses, he some sort of ‘vanshed’. Yup, you won’t see him anymore after the first few episodes.
 
Though I watched the series dubbed in Malay, I’ve got this feeling that those dubbers tried their best to sound close to the original one. Especially Kitafuro’s voice and speech are filled with ‘air’ and ‘expression’, Bantarou’s one sounded different than any typical dubbed voice, and the school girl Freesia’s high pitch genki carefree laughter (such voices are quite rare). The opening theme is an instrumental one, which sounds very fitting for a battle theme with the fast violin play. Makes you feel excited and part of the battle each time it’s being played. While the ending theme is that normal anime pop ballad, but I find the characters riding bicycles to be quite amusing. From Jiyuu to her girl pals to the fab four to Sai to Mikage and even those Siberia Yagyuu losers. How can all of them fit on 1 bicycle? Anyway, in the last episode, we see Kitafuro dressed in some uniform riding on a bike rather than his usual samurai clothing. So looks like he’s bent on continue living on in this world rather than going back to Heaven. Hey, what’s with that fuzzy girl hug among the 4 school girls in the ending credits too.
 
So if you like cute girls who transforms into hot chics with swords then I suppose you should try this anime out too. But before that, perhaps you should at least watch the first season. For me, I’m not pretty sure since I can’t find it anywhere. But it’s not like that I have that need or obliged to watch it. Maybe I’ll wait for the local tv to screen it. And even if so, my main motivation to watch it won’t be Jubei or Jiyuu but rather the fab four. Yeah, I love your boke antics! Even if there’s a sequel, that’s probably the only thing I’d look forward too.

Good Morning Call

February 17, 2007

There’s a good reason why a one off OVA is short. Firstly, you don’t have to worry about if the plot ever thickens and what’s going to happen after that nor do you have to worry about keeping track about 1,000 names and personalities of each and every different character. But the bad thing is, if it’s too short and the story is damn good, you couldn’t help wish that the producers could have made a little more episodes on this series.
 
That’s the same case here with the OVA Good Morning Call. Yup, there is only 1 episode in this series. Just 1 episode. I’m not sure if I could even call it a series, but nevermind that. In addition, this OVA is only 20 minutes long. Yeah, I had that perception that if it’s gonna be 1 episode, heck it should at least be 30 minutes long.
 
Sometimes I can’t help wonder why producers make such a short series. Maybe the producer suddenly got that idea of something popping right out from his head. Then at the spur of the moment, he/she decides to make a series out of it. But unfortunately has no further materials/contents/substances to further contain or make it into a few episode series. Yeah, felt like they just dumped their whole idea into that 1 show and that’s it.
 
However, this show isn’t that bad afterall. Besides the short 1 episode reason why I decided to watch this show, another reason was because it’s a love comedy for teenagers (school life, that is) with some drama (not that much). Uh-huh, it’s like you 3-in-1, all cramped into 20 minutes of showtime.
 
So the show starts off with the two 15 year old protagonists, Nao Yoshikawa and Hisashi Uehara, both having a little ‘argument’ over the place that they’re gonna stay. Looks like they’re both surprised to find out that they’re gonna share the same room. But before anything could happen, due to some circumstances, the place has been closed down by the Akudoi manager, leaving them both in a lurch.
 
But I think they managed to get the place back again after they both had a discussion with the grandma landlady. Yeah, that grandma landlady is so short that even when you squat down, you still have to bend your head downwards to talk to her. Hahaha. Anyway, Nao then suggested to Hisashi that they both lived together. Hisashi was reluctant at first, but Nao put up her ‘pitiful’ act saying that she can’t afford to pay with her money and started to cry and that kind of stuff. Of course, which guy wouldn’t fall for that. Plus, Nao seems pretty and kawaii.
 
And so it begins, Nao’s life with Hisashi. From there on, the 2 became an official couple. Wow, that’s really fast, in terms of the storyline, that is. Yeah, Nao seems to like it. You know, getting all chibi and shy with that shrieky moe voice tone, "Ah… he’s staring at me…". *Eyes rolling*. Anyway, Hisashi’s 16th birthday is coming soon on 17th June and Nao plans on buying him a present.
 
Meanwhile, at their apartment, Yuri Uehara (I think it’s Hisashi’s sister) is having a little chat with Nao telling Nao how some hairstylist guy named Kenji Asai wants Nao to be his model for an upcoming Hair And Makeup Contest because of Nao’s beautiful hair. And that Yuri even had the cheek to say probably that Asai guy has a crush on her because Nao reminded him of his own girlfriend. Well, you could see that initial jealous reaction from Hisashi, though not that obvious (yeah, it seems he lost whatever RPG game he was playing maybe because he overheard their conversation).
 
Uh-huh, you could also see Nao getting that blushing, high pitch squeaky voice moe moe mode, as Yuri gives her Asai’s contact numbers. While Nao leaves the room to contact Asai, Hisashi then mentions about them meeting that Asai guy in the streets before. Yeah, some still shots of them meeting him. The way they show those flashbacks is like as though it’s shown before in some previous episode, but remember, this is the one and only episode.
 
Of course, Yuri gets up close to Hisashi and cheekily mentions that he may be a litle jealous of him already, which Hisashi denies. Hmmm… Hey, Yuri’s chibi face looks like Yukari’s chibi one of Paradise Kiss. Close. Hey, Hisashi lost another RPG battle there. You shouldn’t lose your concentration there, boy. And while the 2 argue, Nao’s already on the phone with Asai who’s glad that Nao’s accepted to be his model and wants to start practice soon next week after school.
 
So Nao checks her daily planner and decides to set a date on 7th June. The next day, Nao and Yuri went shopping. Uh… lots of that chibi chibi moe moe mode from the 2 as they try and love the clothes they put on. Girls will be girls. Heard of this joke? Some women’s mind is a complex one. Yeah, a shopping complex one. HAHAHA! Sorry, no offence intended. Because of that shopping syndrome, Nao later realized that she had forgotten to buy a present for Hisashi and looks like she’s spent quite a sum there.
 
While the 2 girls are talking over things while having some cake, we find out that Nao had previously asked Hisashi indirectly what he wanted for his birthday present. His answer… a personal computer. As though she could afford that. Of course not lah. Yuri suggests food, but Nao says that since it’s the first time they’ll be celebrating his birthday together, she wants everything to go perfectly well. Yuri then says if it’s a present from her, anything will make him happy. Then Nao gets into that chibi moe mode saying how embarrassing it was. I wonder what’s that girl thinking. Ahem ahem.
 
Meanwhile back at a convenience store where Hisashi works part time, he seems to be reluctantly hearing from his scatterbrain colleague Jun Abe about how the latter’s saving some money so that he could go on some date with a girl named Tsukasa. Uh-huh, some long distance love dating relationship. Just then, the store’s daughter, Nanako, comes in and asked Hisashi to come with her for awhile. Looks like Jun’s taken in by her beauty. That pervert.
 
In the storeroom, Nanako proceeds to give Hisashi his birthday present. Initially, she wanted to give him on his birthday tomorrow, which is the 7th of June, but Nanako’s thinking that he may be busy going out on a date with his girlfriend. Hey, wait a minute. Hisashi’s birthday’s on the 7th? I thought it was on the 17th? Well actually, Nao’s got it all mixed up in the first place. Anyway, Hisashi denies and says he’s got other jobs to do on that day. Then suddenly, Nanako gets into a chibi moe mode (reminds me of Miwako of Paradise Kiss) blabbing about the 3 most important lover’s events: Valentine’s Day, Christmas Day, and birthday and that how Hisashi’s such a poor guy.
 
Yeah, I think that Nanako has some sort of a crush on Hisashi (though we won’t see it throughout the show) and chiding how could his girlfriend leave him alone on his birthday. Well, you shouldn’t poke your nose into other people’s businesses. Same thing with that Jun guy. Back at work, this guy seems to be telling Hisashi not to be shy and assuring him that Nao maybe planning a secret surprise preparation for him, making Hisashi blush. I wonder what that guy’s thinking.
 
On 7th June, Nao gets all dressed up and is going to the practice. Meanwhile, Hisashi who’s taking a walk, happens to meet that grandma landlady, who also like a ‘kay poh chi’ asking that today’s supposed to be a love-love birthday between him and Nao. I guess those 2 are really a hot couple. Everyone seems to know about them.
 
Hisashi returns back to his room, greatly anticipating a surprise from Nao but finds the place dark and Nao’s not in too. Thinking that Nao may still be springing a surprise he decides to wait. But he finds some signs that Nao may have gone out. Later that night as Nao returns, she asked him if he has eaten dinner, only to be given that cold stare. He then noticed Nao had put on some makeup and she told him that she went to see Asai to be his practice model. Hisashi then got up and just said he’s going to bed. That’s it. Nao must be wondering what’s going on. Why is Hisashi acting so strangely. Yeah, not only he’s jealous, he’s become cold too. And it’s gonna be like this for the next few scenes. Hisashi giving Nao the cold shoulder. I didn’t know guys were that picky if a girl forgets his birthday. Maybe a girl I would understand. But a guy?
 
The next day on her way to school, one of Nao’s classmates, Marina Konno, came up to her asking Nao about her love-love birthday with Hisashi. But Nao wasn’t quite sure who Marina’s refering to at first. And Nao couldn’t believe it when Marina told her it was Hisashi’s. Yeah, Marina even took out her ‘Nice Guy Data’ notebook (must be another one of those gossip queens or boyfriend desparate or matchmaker) and double checks it. Sorry Nao. You lost. Hahaha. That next ‘I-can’t-believe-it’ scene looks like from South Park.
 
Back at home, Nao apologized to Hisashi but told him that at least she still remembered his birthday, even though it’s on the wrong day. Hisashi isn’t too happy still and reply back that she couldn’t even remember her boyfriend’s birthday and on top of that, went out with another guy on his special day. I love the part and the grunt sound made by Nao as some hiragana words strike her stomach. Then Nao asked if he remembers her birthday. Hisashi quickly responds 7th July. Hehe. Yup, looks like their birthday is only 1 month apart. Shouldn’t be that hard to remember, right?
 
Nao wonders if Hisashi’s still mad at her, but he told her to forget about it since he didn’t expect anything (like real). He then grabs a couple of milk pudding from the fridge and starts to eat them. Nao thinks that maybe it’s his way of making up by eating milk pudding together. But as Nao’s gonna take it, Hisashi quickly grabs the second one and eats it himself. Shock! Yup, he’s still mad alright.
 
In Nao’s room, she’s thinking of what to give him as his present. Then later, while Hisashi’s playing his video game, Nao in her chibi moe mode (reminds me of Kare Kano now) says that her love to him is his present and then maybe a kiss, and then perhaps something. I think I know what this girl’s thinking. But Hisashi says to get him something else and hurry up, much to her dismay.
 
The next day, while Nao’s walking and still thinking what to get Hisashi, she stumbles across the place where she and Hisashi were ‘evicted’ from the Akudoi manager a year ago. Yeah, some flashbacks like we’ve never seen before but as though it was previously shown like them being a couple and such. Oh, and nice background music too, with all those strings playing. Gives out quite a good and suitable atmosphere. Then Nao spaces out when she remembers that little argument she had with Hisashi the previous night about that do you remember my birthday line.
 
Back at the convenience store, Jun’s ‘irritating’ Hisashi with that ‘I-know-you-gave-her-a-kiss-for-your-birthday’. Seems that Hisashi’s not to fond of it either. Jun then says Nao’s gonna see that Asai guy again today and wonders if it’s dangerous because Nao looks like his girlfriend, which means that she’s his type. While Jun’s still blabbing about love snatching and such, Hisashi looked a little spaced out before telling Jun that he’s good enough to take care of the store and leaves. See, next time you should just keep your big mouth shut. But in a way, I guess Hisashi realized things.
 
Meanwhile, Nao and Asai are having a walk together at a park. Hisashi’s really rushing there. We find out that Nao decides to tell Asai that she doesn’t want to be his cut model anymore because she doesn’t want to have any disagreements with Hisashi. Asai said he undersood and how she reminded him of his girlfriend. Yup, seems that Asai fellow longs to see his girl too. But he mentions that she’s faraway in Kyoto.
 
At the same time, a short chubby girl (looks pretty rather than your typical fat ugly girl) seems to be lost when Hisahi bumps into her. But before Hisahi could leave, she asked him if he could show her the way to the salon. Too bad, Hisashi even has to take her there, since she got lost since this morning. That’s a pretty long time. Hey, maybe that’s why she got lost, that name card has no address and has only the salon’s name (maybe it was behind the card. I dunno, that’s what I saw).
 
Before you know it, Hisashi guessed that she must be Asai’s girlfriend. She then got into that chibi moe mode, blusing and embarrassed. Reminds you how similar she is to Nao, huh. Call it fate or because the show’s near the end, Nao and Asai came walking by and saw the 2. The girl, Haruhi, gets very happy to see Asai again and in tears rushed to hug him. Same with Asai. As those 2 embraced, Nao and Hisashi decides to leave them alone. Ah by the way, nice guitar pluckings in the background music.
 
While Nao and Hisashi were walking together, Hisashi told her how Haruhi’s running away from some arranged marriage and Nao telling him how Asai decides to quit his job after the next contest and be with his girlfriend. Then Nao apologized to Hisashi for getting his birthday all wrong. Hisashi asked if she had given him any presents. Nao says not yet. And as expected, Hisashi took Nao by her hands and kissed her. Looks like that makes up for the present.
 
The 2 walked home hand in hand happily. A happy ending? Not quite. Back at home, Hisashi’s wondering where his milk pudding has gone too when Nao said she ate it. He then asked her why didn’t she buy more. She replied because she has some meat left. And he said that meat is even his! Oh boy. I didn’t know this guy is so possessive, and wants everything. Kiasu betul. Now at least we know his true colours. And I thought guys don’t have this kind of ‘problem’. Nao becareful. A last message from Nao saying "Ha… From now on it’s gonna be trouble…". Yeah, so true.
 
Overall, this anime is quite funny (I love those chibi moe mode parts) and okay to me with some nice background musics here and there. Though this anime shows the name of the characters when it first introduces them, I felt that it was just a short lived thing. Yeah, with a few characters, it’s a sad thing that it’s just one episode. Not much character development for the other characters.
 
Plus, I also found out later that this OVA was based on a very small part of a manga of the same name, which is supposed to be quite popular too. Now this explains all those flashbacks and other things. Maybe the producers felt that the manga version is still better and one should go read it if one is interested in the development of the other characters, crushes and love triangles of other characters on Nao and Hisashi.
 
Though the characters here seems pretty and handsome, typical to your teenager bishies, I find the colouring a little old and dull. Probably this is quite an ‘old’ production (year 2001, that is. That’s a pretty long time in anime years) and since it’s only 1 episode, why put so much time and effort on the finishing touches. So if you love very short teenage romance with a happy ending, then you should try this one out.

Lemon Angel Project

February 16, 2007

When I first watched Lemon Angel Project, somehow it reminded me of that Australian pop group Bardot. Well, this anime isn’t really exactly based on them. You see, the pop group Bardot was formed in year 2000 through a television reality programme called Popstars. As in the case of this anime, it’s nearly the same thing. With a bunch of young female hopefuls trying their best to break into the music industry. At least that’s what I felt. So they’ll undergo some training and such in order to get pick as one of the few permenant members of the pop group.
 
Although there are only 13 episodes in this early 2006 anime production, unfortunately, the subbers decided to stop at episode 7. Yup, since my Japanese vocab isn’t that good, I had to rely on them to understand what they’re saying. Well, I mean, there hasn’t been any release of an English subbed episode for donno how many months already. So I’m assuming that they must have dropped this project. And because of that, I decided to drop and stop watching this anime since I’m tired of waiting and my interest in the show has already wanned.
 
Basically in this half hour series, you’ll come to expect that there’s gonna be some singing here and there. Well, I felt that there weren’t many songs featured (at least for the episodes that I’ve watched) even though one would easily classify this anime loosely as a musical genre. Instead, there’re some drama with a little comedy here and there between the characters, or should I say, would-be group members. Maybe it’s the main focus of the first half of the series.
 
The storyline begins with something like this. In the near future, there’s this 6 member girl band in Japan, Lemon Angel, who’s supposed to be the greatest group currently, if not of all time. But suddenly, one day 5 of the group members went missing and vanished, and the only member of the group, Miki Suwa, who is also the group’s leader, went into reserve mode, keeping and leading a low profile lifestyle after that. Thus, the band has been abruptly disbanded when they’re at their peak.
 
To cut things short, the other group members of the Lemon Angel aren’t real. What do I mean? They’re actually just hologram projections of the members (see what computer technology can do) and when they vanished, they just vanished on-screen. At this point, I thought that nobody, not even hardcore fans of the group has ever got up close and personal with them. It seems that some virus corrupted the Lemon Angel data files and programmes rendering them unable to do their usual ‘performance’. Uh-huh. Something like the programme crashed. In addition, the general public doesn’t know about this. Think of the consequences if they found out that their favourite all time girl band is actually made up of pixels. Imagine the uproar. Heads will roll! Thus, after a year since the Lemon Angel has vanished, a project has been launched to revive the group, dubbed The Lemon Angel Project. But this time, the project will hold real auditions and recruit real members to the group in addition to keeping Miki as the group’s leader.
 
Shift focus to this first year high shool student, Tomo Minaguchi, whom her classmate and friend, Yuki, to join a musical club in her school because she finds her quite a good singer. But Tomo is much more content of just being a karaoke singer. Throughout the series, I find her voice has this some sort of ‘fluctuation’. Yeah, sometimes she sound horrible at first, then with some encouragement and self believe, Tomo will actually sound quite good later on.
 
As Yuki suggests to check out Miki, who’s at some archery club, a flashback of how Tomo and her older friend, the late Yui Kono, showed Tomo that she has been working on a new song called ‘Evolution’ which is sung by Miki. This song was also gonna be Miki’s debut as a single. Yui also then told Tomo how Miki would be coming to Tomo’s high school and encourages her to try for the audition.
 
So after school, Tomo heard a beautiful piano recital and found out that Miki was playing it. Of course, Tomo clumsily stumbled into the room, interrupting Miki. But after that nervous introduction of herself, it seems that Miki isn’t too fond of Tomo and asked her not to ever speak to her again as Miki left the room. What a way to start things off. While Tomo is conveying the things that happened earlier on to Yuki as they walked home, Yuki noticed a man watching and following them. Thinking that it may be stalker or something, they decided to split up and run. Good news is that guy can only chase after 1 of them. And the bad news is, he went after Tomo, much to her dismay.
 
So that guy managed to catch up to Tomo. Don’t worry, he isn’t a bad guy. He is Ryota Kogure, who’s an executive of a record company. He’s also one the guys who’ll be in charge of the Lemon Angel Project. So after asking Tomo about if she knows about the Lemon Angel, their break up (of which Tomo is obliviously blur to) and his intentions about reviving the Lemon Angel group, he also asked if Tomo’s interested in trying out for the auditions because he heard from Yui that she really wanted her to sing ‘Evolution’ and took her to the recording studio.
 
But I guess Tomo’s not interested in all that blabbing about Lemon Angel Project and it’s sorry state (so do I) like how Ryota blames ‘that person’ for Lemon Angel’s failure but a teary Yui says not to blame ‘him’. As she sneaked out of the room only to overhear some guys angrily complaining about how the core programme got corrupted by ‘that person’. We see them trying to play the hologram Lemon Angel but the programme just crashed. Still blur on what’s going on, Tomo again stumbled and this time her presence has been discovered one of the guys.
 
And that was episode 1. So episode 2 continues where the previous episode left off. As those guys were gonna confront Tomo, Ryota luckily comes in and asked Tomo to wait for him at the lobby below while he talk things out with them. Then we see Ryota talking to a guy Shinya Himuro (looks a bit like Tezuka from Prince Of Tennis), asking him why he’s getting involve in this, but the latter didn’t reply. From first looks, this Himuro guy looks like your typical bad evil mean heartless guy. With those kind of eyes, ruffled like hairstyle and ‘unsmiling’ face, who wouldn’t think so. So much so, I think this Himuro guy’s ‘that person’ in the earlier conversation.
 
Here we also hear and find out more from Ryota about the Lemon Angel, how Yui created that top secret computer programme as a test to see whether if the public would like them for real. I see. A big time hoax if you look at it in a way. Also how Miki was the co-creater for the project and Yui chose her as a model for it. And after hearing Ryota said how he wanted to have real people singing instead of machines, Tomo agrees to try for the audition.
 
So the rest of the few episodes will be something like this. Besides the usual training and stints, Tomo meets other auditioners during her trial. Some get to click with her, some don’t like her, some cattiness and b*tchiness here and there (but it isn’t that serious). Among those that Tomo will meet in this episode are the friendly and casual Erika Campbell, and the tough girl and ‘I’m-not-too-fond-of-you-because-you-have-connections-with-the-manager’ Saya Yuuki. Yup, for the remainder of this episode we see how Saya despises Tomo mainly because of that and she thinks the reason why the flat chest and under developed body (that’s what Saya calls her) Tomo got into the audition in the first place even though Saya claims that Tomo even has no talent. See, connections gets you to places.
 
However, Tomo doesn’t seem to get easily depressed or put down by Saya’s attitude. Instead she still tries to be friendly with her and even praises her singing. That’s the kind of positive attitude that everybody should display. But still Saya isn’t too fond of all that. We learn that Saya previously worked in some adult magazine as a… well you know… those sort of models in adult magazines and goes by the name of Yayoi. So she wanted to get away from such a life and start things anew.
 
So while the rest of the audition hopefuls are displaying their singing skills, it’s eventually Tomo’s turn. As I’ve said she sounded horrible at first making everybody there laugh. Then some flashback about Yui and her words of encouragement which allow her to do exceptionally well again, shocking everybody in the process. At the end of the audition, Ryota mentions that those selected for the next round will be notified by mail in several weeks time. Though it’s been several weeks already, Tomo felt anxious and worried that she might have failed. As expected, she soon receives a letter that says that she has passed and qualifies for the second round, much to her joy. Also we see other girls including Erika and Saya with their letter of qualification to the second round.
 
Episode 3 is more on Saya. Yup, that girl is getting into some serious trouble. Not that she finds trouble. It’s just that her old boss isn’t too happy and is furious when he learns that Saya has been accepted for the second round of the auditions. He still thinks that Saya belongs to him because of some contract thingy. So he barges in while the auditioners are doing their swimsuit pose, and creates a stir by telling Ryota that Saya’s still under his contract and that he wants her to ‘show off her body’ instead of singing. Well, if you got it, flaunt it.
 
Anyway, Tomo and Erika overheard and jokingly suggests to Saya that they steal and tear the contract. Saya agrees and drags them both along too. I wonder what’s with that ninja outfit Erika wore during the steal? Yeah, most probably she thinks that sneaking in like this requires a skill of a ninja and one has to be properly dressed for the occassion too. Is she joking or what? Who knows.
 
There, Saya met an old manager of hers, Keiko Orina, who seems to feel pity on her and decides to help her steal the contract locked away in the boss’s office. It seems that Keiko once tried hard to get singing parts for Saya but to no avail as the company wants to make money off Saya’s body. Even so, Saya has no intentions of working again for this company and thanked Keiko for all her past efforts. Unfortunately, the mean boss caught them in the act. Then some arrogant words from him and some contrary and ‘she-has-worked-so-hard’ lines from Tomo. Saya must be thinking why is such a girl whom she doesn’t like much standing up for her.
 
Saya pretends to go back to his side when suddenly she gives him a knee jab on his crotch when he let his guard down, thus managed to grab the contract from him. Then Keiko threatens to tell all his wrongdoings he has done to the company to his wife if he doesn’t release Saya. But he got so furious anyway that he fired both of them and in a way, frees Saya. Yay! And in the end, Saya and Tomo became friends, though they both seem to still argue with each other, mocking each other’s bodies. Fatty. Flat chest. At least they do get along in a way, right?
 
It’s Erika’s turn in episode 4. To cut things real short, Erika too has her fair share of that cold treatment from the other girls, especially the one named Haruka Sendou. Yup, at first looks too, you might’ve guessed that the way she acts and says things, she’s very much an arrogant and obnoxious b*tch herself. Even though the dance instructor praised Erika for her good performance, Erika still took to heart over those words said by Haruka. Hmm… by the way, does Tomo really have the material and what it takes to be a Lemon Angel? Tomo’s having a hard time catching up with the training. But it’s her energetic and positive spirits which kept her going.
 
Anyway, one reason why Haruka’s tormenting Erika is because she’s a foreigner. Well, not exactly a 100% foreigner. More like half Japanese (that’s why she could speak Japanese fluently) and was it half Egyptian or half Brazilian or some other country (that’s why she looked so different), couldn’t really remember. Plus, Erika’s older brother is supposed to be part of some famous pop group, Third Sense. Because of that too, Haruka changes her mood and attititude to be that nice lovely good-too-shoes girl when she finds out about it and demands Erika to let her and her other buddies to get together at Erika’s place so that they could meet him. What’s this too? Miki having a pic of Erika’s brother in her cellphone. From the looks of it, looks like Miki has some sort of crush on him. Uh-huh.
 
When the weekend arrives, the girls gather at Erika’s apartment to find that Erika’s brother isn’t gonna show up because he’s working late, much to Haruka’s disappointment and anger. There she proceeds to take out on Erika by throwing the food Erika had made on to the ground and insulting her that Erika’s a nobody and that she’s only riding on her brother’s popularity. I guess everyone has their limits. A very upset Erika then runs out from her apartment with Tomo and Saya chasing after her. They manage to find her at some overhead bridge and the usual talk some sense and words of realization into her kinda conversation. Yeah, something like I’m your competitor and I’m not gonna lose to you. Some friendly competitive words there. Sounds more like encouragement rather than a challenge. Before you know it, Erika discards her gloomy feeling and became back to her lively self again.
 
Haruka’s true devil self is further revealed in episode 5. Yup, she’s planning on sabotaging Tomo and her other pals so that they will fail the auditions. But this episode also focuses on Fuyumi Sakakibara. Who? Well, that bespectacled girl actually made her appearance in earlier episodes along with Haruka. Fuyumi from my point of view seems like Haruka’s obedient dog (the female version of it doesn’t seem appropriate or fitting). Because of her overly gentle (read: weak and can’t stand up for herself) nature, she tends to follow and do what Haruka tells her to even if she herself doesn’t wants to.
 
Like how Haruka forces Fuyumi to give a spiked bottle of water to her ‘friends’ so that when they drink it, they’ll have stomach ache, or splashing their leotards with bleach and even went as far as putting a thumbtack in Tomo’s shoes so much so Tomo’s feet has to be bandaged. Yeah, don’t you just feel like you wanna strangle Haruka. Saya managed to eavesdrop on one of Haruka’s attempt to use Fuyumi in sabotaging them. But before Saya could expose her, Fuyumi confessed everything and decides not to go through with it. Looks like she can’t take it anymore. So we hear some flashback of how Haruka always stood up for her when she was young, that’s why Fuyumi’s quite grateful to her and never opposes her and such. Of course Tomo has that let bygones be bygones attitude and doesn’t resent her for it.
 
Then there’s this audition day where some famous dance instructor guy is gonna be the judge of who’s gonna make it to the next round. And if he puts his hands on your shoulders, it means you’re out. While the girls are doing their best, Fuyumi trips and knocks Saya. Tomo immediately helped them out and I guess it’s her positive words and outlook which impressed that judge rather than anything else. Haruka, seeing everything not going according to her plan, tries to make a few moves to impress the judge but the judge gave her the shoulder.
 
To Haruka’s dismay, she even demanded and went on ranting why did he remove her since she says her dancing and skills are more superior than those girls. He said that it isn’t the dancing skills that he wasn’t looking for but the potential in them, which Tomo and her buddies has. In your face, Haruka. Deserves you right! By the end of the day, though Haruka’s still that b*tch, she decides to quit the whole programme but encourages Fuyumi to go on and says that she’ll support her. Yay! No more Haruka. Bye bye girl.
 
If you noticed, this series seems to be focusing one by one on the potential and soon to be Lemon Angel group members. So in episode 6, Tomo learns a little more about the quiet Miru Nagisa, who sounds ominous the way her voice sounds. Reminds me a little of Jigoku Shoujo. Hmm… that goth-loli dressing does make her look a little cute… and a little scary. Oh, must be those eyes. Anyway, Tomo learns that Miru’s parents have died in a car accident while she was young and thus she has grown up to be quite a lonely person even though she’s living quite well off with one of her relatives. Plus, it’s Miru’s dream to become a Lemon Angel because she wants to sound and be like one of the singer of the group.
 
Because Miru’s flashback isn’t much, with a lot of spacing out and uncertainty. But you know, Tomo’s optimism could change things, the remaining 12 finalists are gonna have their final audition in front of a very excited and anticipating crowd. So we see them introducing themselves and talking to the crowd like how the crowd loved Erika’s liveliness and how Saya got a little upset when somebody from the crowd calls her Yayoi. While Fuyumi gets inspiration from Haruka’s words to do her best, Tomo got surprised when the crowd repeats what she said so much so that she has to be dragged off for trying to talk back. And when it’s Miru’s turn, she didn’t say anything at all! She just stood there staring into the crowd.
 
After the finalists have had their say, it’s time to select which 5 will make it to the final Lemon Angel group. And if you noticed and have watched the opening credits, you’d probably even guessed it way back at episode 1 which of the girls would become part of Lemon Angel. Surprisingly (or not) I wonder why Miru got chosen even though she didn’t say anything. Must be her goth-loli dressing. Probably makes her look like a pretty doll. Tomo, Erika, Saya and Fuyumi must be in ecstasy as they too got chosen. So I figure out why those 4 also got chosen. Erika because she’s the funny foreigner, Tomo because she’s got that positive and energetic outlook and probably easy to make fun of, Saya because she’s an ex-adult magazine model so if she slips up at least you can gawk at ther body, and Fuyumi… ah, which group would be complete without that megane character. Finally, Miki goes up on stage to finally complete the Lemon Angel group.
 
All hail the new age and revived Lemon Angel! Hooray! The crowd goes wild. They just loved them. Well, if you look at it in a way, they’re like an assemble of a bunch of oddballs and misfits. No offence, but sometimes I felt that way. Yeah, variety is the spice of life. But this episode ends with a little bleak note. A guy named Masami Kudou rings up Tomo and asked to meet up with him. I’m getting a bad feeling about this.
 
In episode 7, we learn more about the demise and conspiracy against the original Lemon Angel. But before that, while the girls are still excited about their newly formed group, they need one of the group members to be the lead singer. Of course, Saya not only wants to be the lead singer but the group leader as well as she’s telling other group members what to do. Sounds like a nagging mother. However, they all agree that an audition will be held to see who would become the group’s lead singer, which will be chosen by the producer.
 
Unfortunately, the audtion is being held on the same day that Tomo decides to go to Yui’s grave because it is the anniversary of her death. Before she can do so, Masami arrives and insists on taking her somewhere else first. Masami also wants Tomo to quit the Lemon Angel so that he and Himuro could revive the original virtual Lemon Angel. Tomo’s feeling uncertain.
 
Masami even surprised her by taking her to some rock band practice, which impresses Tomo. However, when one of the rock members (the leader I presume) started scolding his drummer and firing him on the spot, Tomo became scared. Masami then proceeds to tell her that Yui considered her work to be a collaboration with Himuro, who was her producer. Tomo then left for Yui’s grave.
 
While praying at her grave, when Miki shows up. Miki asked about the audition but Tomo told her that Masami took her to places or else she could’ve been there earlier. Miki then proceeds to tell Tomo about Yui. It seems that when Yui signed a contract and got Himuro as her producer, Himuro changed Yui’s music so much so it doesn’t sound like Yui’s, thus in a way it wasn’t her music anymore. The reason why Yui never criticize or protest was because she was madly and deeply in love with Himuro! Uh-huh, blinded by love. But that Himuro jerk even though told her that she’s a genious, never really intended to return her love and their relationship wasn’t anything romantic. Yup, he’s just doing it for the money and wasn’t interested in her. Yui then became devastated that she wandered off and got hit by a truck! What a way to die. I wonder why women always fall for the wrong kind of guy (look who’s talking). Therefore, Miki blames Himuro (‘that guy’) for Yui’s demise.
 
Miki then asked Tomo not to quit the group and after some words of encouragement and such, Tomo heads back to the audition. Tomo manages to reach back in time and completes her audtion. In the end, everyone was impressed by Tomo’s singing and without a doubt everyone (including Saya) agrees to let Tomo to be the group’s lead singer. Later Tomo gets yet another phone call from Masami. But this time, Tomo rejects Masami’s call to quit the group saying that she wants to go on singing and will not back out before hanging up. Masami then says to himself "You’ll definitely regret it". Oh oh.
 
So it ends here for me. Halfway. I’m gonna guess the rest of the episodes are something like this. The girls will have some drama and tension here and there, some relationship and friendship bonding which brings them closer. If it’s gonna end on a good note then the gang will be the new all time famous girl band group releasing their hit singles and albums which’re being sold like hot cakes. If not, then maybe they’ll all break up and go solo or come to worse, quit the music industry. I think I’ll stick with the former one. Feels much better don’t you think.
 
Actually, I’ve done a little reading on the summary of the remaining episodes. Yeah, I read spoilers. Can’t wait to know watch what’s gonna happen so I decided to read a few lines just to get a general idea. It seems that the next episode will see the Lemon Angel group doing some training at some chalet. More bonding and character drama it seems. Then some little threat by some irritating bad reporter. But the ultimate turning point came when the girls saw an ad of the revival of the original Lemon Angel. Gasp! Yup, I’ve guessed it that those 2 guys, Himuro and Masami are up to no good. They manage to restore the corrrupted Lemon Angel file and is gonna take their revenge by reviving the original Lemon Angel.
 
Because of that the girls are in shock and devastated, some low points and moments in their life, some undecisive and uncertainty here and there. Well, if the original group comes back, of course the public who once loved them would definitely go back to them, leaving all the hard efforts of the new Lemon Angel wasted. Because of that Tomo in a way left the group because she can’t face Yui’s original Lemon Angel. But after some persuasion from the rest of the girls, she managed to rejoin them. Also some confrontation between Miki and Himuro.
 
Then on the day of their first debut performance, Himuro and Masami then release the original Lemon Angel, thinking that their return will destroy the current Lemon Angel. At first the crowd wows at their return and was dissatisfied when only 4 of the new Lemon Angel turned up for the performance. Luckily Tomo and Miki manage to arrive in time and the new Lemon Angel continued with their dazzling performance. The crowd seems to also love them in their own special way. What the heck, a Lemon Angel will always be a Lemon Angel, whether old or new. Although Masami isn’t happy with the way things turned out and wanted to stop it, but I guess Himuro learned a little from his earlier encounter with Tomo that there’re some things that computers can’t do, and steps in to stop Masami. Looks like they just have to watch and admit their magnificent performance.
 
So the ending is your typical feel good kinda of ending where everything ends well. With the group now determined to move forward, armed with their neverending loyal friendship and all that. Well, I suppose this anime is generally quite okay even though I didn’t get to finish it. The message and lesson from this anime is that whatever problems or obstacles we face in our lives, with some positive outlook, dedication and teamwork, anything is possible to overcome. And the most important… always be happy and enjoy the things you do.
 
Well, I’m not gonna watch anymore musically themed anime since I’ve mentioned that my interest in this anime has declined what more animes of this type of genre. Even that Lovedol – Lovely Idol anime released in late 2006, I decided to scrap it after watching just the first episode. But one of the main reasons why I watch this series was because of the opening theme song, Angel Addict. It’s quite a catchy and lively tune which makes you feel like you want to get up and dance. Although there are several versions of Angel Addict, most of the episodes sung by each of the different voice actresses, the one which I like best is the original one sung by Ryo Shihono, Ami Koshimizu and Miki Maruyama.
 
Speaking of which, now come to think of it, I was surprised to find out that Ami Koshimizu had also done some voice acting in this series as Saya. Ever since I’ve got to know her, I’ve always compared her voice with Tenma of School Rumble but in the end left me with stitches because somehow her voice her and in School Rumble’s are totally different. Also to my surprise, Erika’s voice actress, Chihara Minori has done parts in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu as Yuki (but both characters sound so different. My ears must be clogged or she could really do a different another voice), Tenjou Tenge as Aya (same case here) and even in Lovedol – Lovely Idol! Coincidence? Perhaps not.
 
So far the drawing, animation and art to me are quite okay. I also read that the final episode, the animation and art is quite wonderfully done. Must be all those camera and lighting angles which makes the Lemon Angel dazzle. Of course if a genre is a musically themed one, then there must be some good voice acting too. It didn’t disappoint me here. So if you want to take a peek or have a little idea of what young singer wannabes and hopefuls have to go through, then this is the anime for you. Though, it shouldn’t be anything definitive.

Windy Tales

February 10, 2007

One reason why I watched Windy Tales was because I read it was quite a different and unique anime from the current run-of-the-mill animes. Well yes, it’s kinda different for 2 reasons. Firstly, no doubt that supernatural is one of the genre that this anime fall in, surprisingly this anime is quite calming and soothing. Just like Aria The Animation and even Someday’s Dreamers, partially boring and slow too. Also known as Fuujin Monogatari, just like the other 2 animes mentioned, there isn’t any excessive violence or outrageous out of this world slapstick humour.
 
The second reason why this anime is different is obviously the drawing and art. Yup, it’s not your usual big eyes bishie characters. Instead, the art seems like as though they used water colour to draw and paint the series. And because of that, at first it seems quite unappealing. Many other reviewers have said that the drawing is good. Maybe to me it’s just different, that’s all. Yeah, I’m still used to that typical Japanese anime drawing. Heck, I even noticed that some of the body parts of the characters are ‘crooked’. You should see it if you want to know what I mean.
 
In this 13 episode series, besides the usual drama, slice of life and a little comedy element, the main theme of this anime is of course, the wind. So I can safely say that each episode has got something to do with the wind. Although some aren’t that obvious which made me go "How is this episode related to the wind?".
 
The main protagonist of the series as introduced in episode 1 is Nao Ueshima. Before I proceed, let me just note that at times, from my perception Nao sometimes looked like an alien! Yes, those little grey men from outer space. That’s why because of the drawing and art of the series, in my opinion Nao looked like that. Plus, because her skin colour tone is quite pale and those round black eyes, don’t you think she looked like one?
 
Okay, nevermind that. Nao is the president of her junior high school’s photography club. This shutterbug loves taking pictures of the sky rather than attending class. It’s not like she’s skipping classes. But that’s how passionate she is about her hobby. So much so that when people asks her why is she taking photos of the clouds, she’ll reply by saying that it’s not just the clouds that’ve been captured, but the wind as well. Ah, I see. No doubt you can’t see the wind, but you could see it’s effects on the other visible subjects. Ah, enligthened…
 
However, her photography club isn’t such a popular club. And currently, the club has only 2 members. Yes, 2 members only. How pitiful. Besides Nao, the other club member is her classmate and best friend, Miki. At least Miki’s facial features looked better than Nao’s. Not to say that they’re that pretty, but at least Miki doesn’t look like an alien. Err… Miki does look like pac-man at some point.
 
So Nao’s fascination with the wind began one day while she was taking her usual snapshots on the school’s rooftop. Then she saw a cat that she was gonna take a shot at suddenly jumps down from the roof. Of course, Nao tried to stop it but too late, the cat’s already half way falling down. Oh no! A free fall! Just when she thought that the cat’s going splat (mind the rhyme), the cat then floats. What the? So now you know why cats can survive when they fall off from a high storey building. Yup, they didn’t land on their feet, they float instead. Hehehe. Just made that up.
 
Nao, who’s very intrigued by it, then accidentally fell down the rooftop herself when she took a peek. Oh no! Is Nao falling to her doom? Well, surprisingly, she found herself floating before she crashed to the ground. To cut things short, it’s her maths teacher Taiki-sensei which gave her the ‘soft landing’ which of course saved her life. Later, Nao who’s still fascinated by the whole event decides to enlist the help of Miki and Jun (Miki’s boyfriend) to look for that floating cat.
 
However, they end up on the school rooftop once again but they saw another classmate of theirs, Ryoko Yoshino, controlling the wind too. The trio seek an explanation from her. It seems that in this world, there are a breed of special people who can control the wind. Such people are called Kaze Tsukai (wind manipulators/users). And that cat and Taiki-sensei are Kaze Tsukais. Ryoko also tells them that she learned a bit of controlling the wind from Taiki-sensei himself as she’s still a beginner and not really good yet.
 
Though Taiki-sensei isn’t the kind of guy which brags his super powers, he’s the kind where it’s better to project a low profile of his wind controlling powers. Even though he didn’t want Nao and her pals to further pursue this, but I guess due to Nao’s enthusiasm, Taiki-sensei just let her be, as long as she doesn’t make a mountain out of a molehill or anything attention grabbing or serious.
 
Nao thinks that Ryoko may be in love with Taiki-sensei as Ryoko explained that the reason why the cat jumped off the rooftop was to see him off as Taiki-sensei would be returning to his hometown, the Wind Village for the upcoming summer holidays. Nao and her pals, after hearing all this stuff, became even more interested and decided that they would follow Taiki-sensei back to his hometown to learn even more about this phenomena.
 
Thus in episode 2, the trio arrived at the Wind Village, which is secretly located in the suburbs of the city. However, even though Nao, Miki and Jun have travelled long and far to this place, Taiki-sensei seems reluctant and refuses to teach them any of the wind manipulating stuffs, much to their disappointment. Well, maybe he thought that this kind of stuffs shouldn’t be just for anybody. I mean, it’s a great responsibility if one were to be able to control the wind. Why, there’s even that explanation (which I couldn’t really remember) which says that the Kaze Tsukais are responsible for the flow of the wind all over the world! So now we know where the wind comes from, right? Maybe not.
 
Anyway, because Taiki-sensei refused to teach them, instead he says that he can learn from an old geezer, Jiji, who runs a petrol station and claims that he is the best Kaze Tsukai in the village. Well, that guy seems keen on teaching those young ones because he saw their enthusiast. But it seems controlling the wind isn’t easy (joke: and controlling the wind from your stomach also isn’t. Hahaha). Nao gets quite frustrated everytime she tries her best but to no avail. Hey, looks like Miki can do it, albeit it’s just a little. Yeah, something about the power to control the wind comes from your heart (joke: and the power to control your other wind comes from the stomach. Hahaha).
 
Also at the Wind Village, the trio met the wife of Taiki-sensei’s deceased brother, Yukio. She seems kind of a nice lady. And the way she says things to Nao, seems that Yukio also likes Taiki-sensei too. Anyway, she tells them that there’s some sort of Wind Festival, the reason why Taiki-sensei returned. Though I don’t really recall the reason for the annual Wind Festival, but as far as I can remember, it has something to do with regulating the wind of the world (I think). And because it’s quite a dangerous process, Nao and her buddies are being told by Taiki-sensei to stay put in their rooms while the ceremony is in process. Like he said "Don’t underestimate the wind. It can take lives". True.
 
Of course, Nao is that curious little girl and sneaks out just to take a peek. Unfortunately, it’s very windy during the ceremony. And a very violent one too. Luckily Yukio managed to catch hold of Nao before she’s being carried off by the wind (gone with the wind, I’d say. Hahaha). Nao manage to get a glimpse of the ceremony. Several Kaze Tsukais in white robes surrounding some tall bunch of trees grouped together with those chants. Dunno what’s going on either. But it’s a real battle out there. Unfortunately, by the end of the ceremony claimed the life of one of the Kaze Tsukai, Jiji, that is. So sad. Soon, the trio head back with Nao a little changed after witnessing that event. Uh-huh, back at the school rooftop, Ryoko caught a glimpse of Nao jumping down from the roof. And this time, Nao manage to control the wind and made a soft landing. Impressive. Looks like she’s got the hang of it too.
 
After that, I felt that the rest of the other episodes really didn’t have anything to do with that Wind Festival nor Nao learning more about the Kaze Tsukais. Instead, we will see Nao and her pals in their wind themed adventures in the city. So I guess this is the part which starts to get boring, if you look at that way. But for me, I guess they’re pretty much okay, though I admit, it does feel a little boring and dull.
 
Like how in episode 3, Nao and Miki are supposed to take a photo of the school’s only marathon runner, Atsuko. Another club which has no other members. What happened to kids these days. At the same time, there’s a photo competition. And of course, which photography club wouldn’t want to participate in it. It was quite funny to see how Nao and Miki was trying to catch up with Atsuko to get a good pic of her while the latter’s running, but end up having a hard time catching their own breath. Looks like those girls aren’t fit, that’s for sure.
 
In the end, the 2 girls ended up getting 2nd place in the photo competition. And the ironic thing was, an old lady who took a photo on Nao and Miki who’re struggling to snap Atsuko, won first place. What a contrast. And in acknowledgement of their effort, that lady even printed out extra negatives of that winning photo and gave it to them. Well, it isn’t a matter of winning or not. It’s the effort that counts.
 
It’s Jun’s turn in episode 4. What did he do? Well, Jun found and rescued a flying squirrel and decided to name it Donguri, which means acorn in Japanese. Well yeah, flying squirrels do eat acorns as their staple diet. But I guess it’s better than naming them John, Paul, George or Ringo, right? Thus, Jun decides to teach Donguri how to fly. There’s one funny part which made Jun looked like a flasher! Uh-huh. While he’s standing with the wind blowing through him, his top shirt was unbuttoned as he’s using it like his artificial wings. Can you picture it? That was my first impression. Hehehe. In the end, Jun had to give up Donguri to an old lady who supposedly lost her pet flying squirrel. But she thanked Jun for his efforts in taking care of it and allowed him to come and visit Donguri anytime he wants, much to Jun’s joy.
 
It wouldn’t be complete if you don’t have that fever or sick episode. Yup, Nao gets a fever in episode 5. Uh-huh, if you realized that kaze pun, in Japanese that same word could also mean fever. During class, she fainted and was sent to the infirmary. While recuperating there, she listened to some holiday stories from another teacher, the friendly Makino-sensei, who seems to like to spend most of his time there too, even though he isn’t that ill. Yeah, he even likes to tell scary stories to his students during class instead of teaching. But I guess those students are more interested in that rather than the old boring syllabus.
 
But this episode took me by surprise a little. Why? Because Makino-sensei was telling Nao about his holiday trip in Malaysia! Yes, Malaysia. It’s so rare to see this country mentioned in other international movies and series, what more an anime like this. Hmmm… Looks like all the names of several places are depicted correctly, from Penang to Taiping to Kuala Lumpur. Impressive. There’s even that KL Tower and Petronas Twin Tower in the background. Hey! How come all those silhouettes of the citizens have those traditional triangular farmer Vietnamese hat?! And people there still riding bicycles?! Oh well, close enough. Probably, the only thing that got me interested was this Malaysian part. Anyway, in the end, Nao’s still coping with her fever and lying in the infirmary’s bed. Is she gonna be okay?
 
Well, don’t worry. It seems that Nao’s back to her normal health in episode 6. In this particular episode, Nao and Miki stumbled upon 3 youngsters playing a children’s game called ‘kick the can’. I’m not pretty sure how it really works, but it goes something like this. One person becomes ‘it’ by counting to 10 and giving the other players a head start to run and hide. Then he/she will try to catch all the other players and bring him/her back to the can, which is his/her base. So if the person who is ‘it’ managed to catch all the other players, he/she wins. The other time the ‘it’ player loses is if the other ‘surviving’ players manage to kick away the can. The game is then over and the player who kicks away the can becomes the next ‘it’. Something like that.
 
But the thing is, that those 3 youngsters are wind manipulators too. That’s what Nao find out everytime she passes a building under construction on her way back. Of course, Nao wanted to join in the fun too. You may call her a busybody but hey, there’s a kid in all of us. Plus, I’m sure she’s a little interested to know about those young Kaze Tsukais. Eventually, the boys allowed them to. I happen to notice that while they’re playing the game, the silhouette on the walls resembled like pac-man! Must be the drawing.
 
Later on, Ryoko even joined them in the game. Of course the girls realized that they’ve already grown up and wonder if they could continue to do so, even though they had the greatest time of their life playing that game. I also happen to notice that the rate they kick the can, they can enter the NFL or rugby league. Yup, the can flew as high as though it reached the moon. Maybe it’s all just exagerration or using their wind manipulation powers.
 
In episode 7, an impending typhoon is going to hit the city and that Kaze Tsukai cat is nowhere to be found. Thus, Nao and Ryoko (later Nao again enlisting the help of Miki and Jun) decided to go look for it by staying back at school. I knew it was all just a dream when the 3 girls decided to combine their wind powers and flew through the school corridors using an umbrella (Mary Poppins? Not really). Then there’s that exagerrated part in the end where the 4 of them with Taiki-sensei saw a huge furball of cats floating in the sky. What the?! I guess that’s how the term came about. Soon, the huge furball started to break up and it’s raining cats and… cats?! I guess this is also how that term came about. Okay, close enough. But I still wonder what it all means.
 
While Nao along with Miki and Jun are cleaning up their photography club room in episode 8, they discovered an old photo album, supposedly from a previous member of the photography club. Thus, the trio embarked on a mission to find that lady and return the photo album to her. In short, that lady, Yoriko, was once Jun’s babysitter. Ah ha. You can see how jealous Miki is. Hehehe. But Yoriko’s already married and have a toddler son of her own. Looks like Jun’s pretty attached to him too. So some catching up between Yoriko and Jun, some flashback during Yoriko’s schooling days and the boy she loved, things like that. In the end, Miki and Jun ‘settled things’ when they both had a little moment of intimacy of their own and kissed! And Nao’s pretty surprised to hear from Miki that "the kiss problem has been solved with a kiss".
 
In episode 9, Nao’s dad secretly bought a 400cc motorbike, much to Nao’s mom’s chagrin because she doesn’t like one as she sees them as dangerous. Which middle aged guy doesn’t have any interest in big boys’ toys like cars and bikes. Okay, maybe some. So in this episode, Nao gets to ride on her dad’s new bike and ‘feel the wind’ as she rides through one. Of course, a minor accident later on left the family worried about him, but there isn’t anything serious, just very minor bruises (unless if you’re talking about ego, then it’s a different story). In the end, though Nao’s dad managed to persuade her mom for a spin, her mom said that she’ll never ride a motorbike with him again. Not only because he’s an awful motorcyclist, but she’s intending of getting a motorbike license herself so that she could ride one alone. Haih, I guess she’s got a little taste of thrill and excitement there.
 
I don’t really understand episode 10. With the title going ‘The Earth’s Last Day’, I was guessing that the weather is gonna wreck havoc on the world due to global warming and such. Well, it didn’t turn out to be such a bad disaster in the end. Well here, Nao and Ryoko had some sort of weird dream which they believe is a message from the wind. But since they didn’t really know what it means, Nao and Miki were speculating on it like how the world would probably end. I see. Yeah, some vision of a stream of cats floating from outer space and Nao looking down at Earth from the moon. Huh?
 
I like the funny part where the 3 girls were watching a horror movie in the cinema. You should see Ryoko’s scary expression when she’s scared. So funnily scary. Haha. But in the end, nothing much happened. The Earth is still around but the town is under heavy snowing. And there’re those cats floating in the sky again. I don’t really get it. Poor Jun, trekking in the middle of those thick snow just to go to Miki’s place.
 
In episode 11, Nao applied for an audition to be on some television show. To her surprise and other of her classmates, she got accepted! And there’s one of Nao’s classmate, Karin who seems to be doing this line for quite some time and is quite familiar with it. So Nao and Karin had their usual chat of things as Nao finds out Karin’s way of life. By the way, I happened to recognize that Karin’s voice actress is Mamiko Noto. Yeah, I’m surprised that she even voiced minor roles in such animes too. Nothing bad or wrong, actually. In the end, Nao didn’t pass her second audition. Yeah, maybe the judges decided to think twice after hearing her singing. Oh well, I guess Nao’s better off taking photos. And she managed to snap one of Karin from the school rooftop with the wind blowing through Karin as she turned and looked back up as though as if Nao called her (which she did). Picturesque.
 
It feels like I’m watching and taking a Japanese literature class in episode 12. Uh-huh. A lot of those literature stuffs which made me go "Huh? I didn’t know that". Of course I don’t lah. Well, what I understand from this episode is that, Nao and her buddies decides to save an old sakura tree from being chopped down to make way for some construction, after hearing some romantic story from an old woman operating a stall nearby the tree, like how she met her loved one there and such. Though, It isn’t clear whether the tree will go or not, but the sakura tree manage to go into full bloom mode again which brings back many pleasant memories to the old lady, which made her happy.
 
In the final episode 13, Nao noticed some strong winds and thinks that it may be a sign that Yukio’s coming to the city. Uh-huh, there’s also that old story about some young girl who vanished without a trace and returned to her homeland after 30 years or so before disappearing once more. Another story which I didn’t get. A little funny part where Nao got a little jealous of Miki when the latter changed the topic to say how Jun said that Miki’s getting cuter. Hehehe.
 
As expected, Yukio did arrived at the city and met up with Taiki-sensei. She also met Nao and her pals, and Ryoko for the first time. Yukio arrived just to tell Taiki-sensei to come back to the Wind Village for some summer festival since it’s already been a year since Nao and her 2 friends visited them. Taiki-sensei said he’ll go and Yukio will be waiting for him there. There’re certain parts which I didn’t get either. One including where Ryoko was suddenly crying when Yukio left with Taiki-sensei to talk with him. And when Jun asked what’s wrong, he’s been scolded "Baka" and such from Nao and Miki. Huh? Could it mean that Ryoko’s crush has been crushed? What about the part where Makino-sensei’s still lingering in the infirmary? And that bunch of cats still floating and drifting in the sky? What the?!
 
Though Nao believed that the wind in Yukio’s heart caused all of the strange events that happened, Yukio then had already returned back to the Wind Village as fast as she had arrived. Eventually Taiki-sensei told them about it and how Yukio came to say goodbye (didn’t understand the meaning here too. Is she leaving forever or decides to get over her feelings with him or what?) much to the girl’s surprise. He also said that they are important wind users to him. I guess he finally acknowleged their wind using powers. And in the last part, as Jun rushes to the rooftop to see the 3 girls jumping down from the building. But they all managed to land softly on their feet. Looks like their wind controlling skills has much improved.
 
Overall, this is quite an okay anime if you want to view something different. Though, I wasn’t satisfied with how the series ended, especially of the events in the last episode. Like I’ve mentioned the drawing is quite sketchy and to me it isn’t eye candy. Thus, the characters here look quite odd and weird with those angular shaped features. Plus, they draw the wind with simple lines. I can also draw like that. Okay, maybe it’s better not to get ahead of myself.
 
But unlike in Aria The Animation or Someday’s Dreamers, this series doesn’t have any soundtrack which I particularly like. There are BGMs in the series but I didn’t find them appealing. The opening song, Kaze No Uta, which is sung by Yuu, is quite a slow song which fits the series well. Yeah, it makes you feel like as though you wanna lie down and feel the breeze blowing through your face. The ending theme, Yuuhi No Iro Dake, is a more livelier piece, with the animation mixing the 2-D characters with real background sceneries.
 
So what did I learn anything from the wind? Not really. To me, the wind is still movement of air particles, that’s all. Perhaps there are other animes related to the wind such as Wind – A Breath Of Heart, Nausicaa – The Valley Of The Wind, and Windaria. Okay, I admit I’m not sure if the last 2 has got anything to with the wind since I’ve never watched them before. But if you want to watch a weather themed anime where disaster isn’t the villain but a low key feature, then I suppose you may want to have a go at this one.

School Rumble Nigakki

February 9, 2007

The fun and hilariousness continues in this high school slapstick comedy School Rumble Nigakki. Yes, more fun in terms of mayhem and chaos from the second semester students of class 2-C and 2-D. In addition to the usual Tenma and her best friends and other characters we see in the first season, the second season introduces several new faces and some of them have an episode focus primarily on them. Thus, this season has more of those new and old characters getting involved in whatever adventures they’ll have.
 
With another 26 episodes in this second season, I was riding and expecting on the popularity and comical first season. But once I’ve finished watching, I somehow felt that the second season wasn’t as funny nor was it that entertaining as compared to the first season. I’m not saying that the second season is bad or a let down. It’s just that after watching the first season, I have come to expect of a much funnier second season. Maybe I’ve set my standards too high.
 
Well, in this second season, there are some things that still never change. Like how Harima still has a crush on Tenma but can’t seem to confess his feelings to her. Yup, somehow due to the circumstances, he either blunders or something would prevent him from doing so. So is Tenma. She’s still that lovable bungling klutz. And there’s one episode where Tenma’s dreaming she’d become a bustier an developed body herself and excelling in sports and studies. Like I said, it’s only a dream and when she comes to, she saw Harima in front of her and almost confessed to him… And the twist was, that was all just Harima’s dream.
 
Then there are some things that changed. And one of them is that now Harima doesn’t have a beard and moustache anymore. No doubt he has that clean shaven look, but I felt that he doesn’t look that all macho and tough anymore. Yeah, I prefer the old bearded and moustached Harima. He looks cooler that way. Though, Eri still calls him ‘Hige’ (beardy). Love how the old Harima looks too, huh.
 
And then there are few new plots which have developed and some which I just felt ‘left abandoned’. For instance, Tenma’s crush, the dull and boring Karasuma. Throughout the entire second season, somehow Tenma didn’t try to pursue Karasuma’s attention until the last few episodes of the season. But even that it’s not like she’s really that desparate anymore. Though she still has a crush on him and there’re are moments that they both are together and still trying like that skiing episode where Tenma and her pals plans to do a human hiragana of daisuki in mid air. But due to some miscalculations, it read as daisugi (I think so, meaning too fat). Following which Karasuma thank her for telling him since he admit that he’s been eating quite a lot during the holidays, much to Tenma’s fear (and crying) that he misunderstood her intentions. Even with such, it’s nothing serious or conclusive.
 
What about Yakumo and Harima? Yup, Tenma thinks and misunderstood that her little sister Yakumo has already got herself a boyfriend, which is Harima, and also thinks that they’re dating each other. The fact is that, due to the developments from the end of the last season, Yakumo continues to help Harima with his manga work in secrecy. And because Harima’s request not to expose his job as a manga artist to anyone, she has to keep silent even though it would give rise to their relationship being misinterpreted.
 
Also, we don’t see Harima picking on any fights with Tennoji anymore. Maybe it’s because Harima has decided to drop his delinquent image and pursue his hidden talent as a manga artist. Speaking of which, that’s what most of Harima’s episode would focus on. Him and his trials and tribulations in completing his manga work and submitting it before the deadline. Plus, I noticed that Hanai’s appearance and role has been reduced to a mere side character. Yup, he doesn’t play an active role as compared to the first season. And what’s this? Mai Otsuka is the class rep for class 2-C? I thought Hanai’s the class rep. Maybe he has even relinquished his post to really become a mere side character.
 
Besides that, when Hanai found out that Yakumo and Harima are ‘dating’ (like when Hanai saw that heart shaped bento Tenma tricked Yakumo into making for Harima), it’s not like he became that charged-up, full of angst guy to try and separate the two. Instead, he was just shocked by the whole incident and did nothing, lying there stunned with that funnily depicted old man’s face like he’s being sucked real dry. I though this guy was madly deeply in love with Yakumo even though the latter doesn’t return his love. Really really being reduced to a mere side character already. Just like in Tenma and Karasuma’s case, I also felt that in this season, Hanai didn’t try to actively pursue his love for Yakumo.
 
Anyway, the second season starts off exactly where the first season ends. Okay, maybe not exactly. More like resumption. The first episode is that misinterpretation of Harima-Yakumo and Tenma’s interpretation of a Sleeping Beauty play for the upcoming cultural festival when Karasuma gives her a turtle. Then there’s that secret peverted club having their secret meeting about some new data they obtain from the new girls like Mai Otsuka, Yuuki Tsumugi, Megumi Sagano and Kozue Mihara, that’re gonna appear in this second season. Nara seems to be officially part of this group and his ‘work’ seems to be improving for this club. The funny part was when it was Tenma’s turn, they quickly skip it! Yeah, who would want a klutz anyway. But their meeting is interrupted when Itoko sends some virus, destroying all their hard earned data and a final picture of her cleavage…?! Nope. The picture maximizes to reveal that it’s Harima’s butt and a message from Itoko asking them to go study. Hahaha! So busted and disappointed those guys. By the end of that episode, the trio of class 2-D, Togou, Harry and Lala, issues a challenge to class 2-C for the upcoming cultural festival.
 
Unfortunately, the whole 2-C class is divided and torn between doing a cafe or a theatrical play. A lot of argument but nothing decisive. The funny part here was how Akira decides to ‘revive’ a lethargic Harima and Hanai to vote which of the 2 activities their class by doing. Akira told Harima that if it’s a play, then he would star opposite Tenma in the sleeping beauty play, in which Harima instantly revives and gives 5 votes. Wah! The whole class is in shock by either Harima’s sudden energetic revival or his self-giving number of votes. At the same time, Akira told Hanai that he could see Yakumo in a maid outfit if it’s a cafe they’re doing. Suddenly Hanai revives energetically and gives 10 votes! Another round of wows and wahs. Because of that Harima and Hanai locked horns and became loggerheads.
 
And it was quite cool to see Akira taking out her double pistols (dunno where she got it from) and cross point it under Harima and Hanai’s chin. Yup, things where gonna get ugly between them so Akira had to step in to cool things down. Her way, that is. Oh, but there’s a 3rd group in class 2-C that wants to do a different activity. Who are they? They’re Nishimoto, Yoshidayama and Nara. What do they want to do? They want to do a sumo swimsuit wrestling competition! Unfortunately, since their group’s insignificant, they’ve been ignored. Too bad.
 
With the class still divided over a cafe or a play, Akira then suggests a survival game. I guess it’s the only ‘exciting’ way to solve things. And later that night when the school’s empty, the gang of class 2-C begins their battle… It was quite exciting and adrenaline pumping to see all those gun fights (don’t worry, those bullets aren’t real) and all those gun survival drama. Yeah, and it’s like the ‘leader’ of the cafe theme and play theme (Hanai vs Harima respectively, that is)leading their ‘troops’ against one another.
 
While those class 2-C took their battles seriously, we see that this is part of Akira’s scheme to video tape it all for some show. Meanwhile some funny and serious moments with Asou and ‘that guy’. Hahaha. Everyone always refers to him as ‘that guy’, much to ‘that guy’s annoyance. Even I can’t seem to remember his name. Then there’s that lover’s Shigeo-Madoka battle. Though both of them are lovers but they’ve been divided over the cultural festival theme and had that lover’s betrayal and backstabbing before a lover’s reconciliation before they both ‘died’ in each other’s arms. Aww… At the same time, the sumo swimsuit hopeful trio decides to join in but Nishimoto seems to be stuck in some locker and the whole group is swiftly being taken out by Eri. Too bad.
 
Wait, there’s a fourth group who’ll get involve in this survival game. They’re class 2-C’s students who don’t want to get involve with that cafe or play theme. Made out of Karasuma, Ichijou, Megumi, Yuuki and Fuyuki, this group seems to have formed some musical band of their own and thought that they won’t get to perform in the cultural festival unless they win the survival game. Thus, a secret and underdog team enters the fray. Hey! Isn’t that Eri’s butler, Nakamura, dressing in Eri’s dress making his mysterious presence and involvement in the survival game? He looked so odd and disgusting in that outfit.
 
So more of those gun fighting and cool dodging and action manoeuvres from Harima and Hanai as they take out one by one each of the other’s ‘lower troops’. I loved the part where it was between Tenma and Karasuma. Yeah, Karasuma took out Eri who went to check out that ‘approaching presence’. A talk between the 2 like how Karasuma knew that his team won’t win the survival game. Tenma, after hearing this felt that Karasuma’s band had practiced so hard, turned the gun on herself and wishes him to do well at the cultural festival. But Tenma missed herself when Karasuma swiftly stops her before redirecting Tenma’s gun at his own chest and pulled the trigger, sacrificing himself. Tenma’s devastated! I was like laughing and crying while my heart sank at the same time here. It was such funny scene but at the same time a sad scene, the way it all looked.
 
Then finally everyone was eliminated and the only ones left standing are Harima and Hanai. The final showdown on the school rooftop. As the 2 had some macho male egoist talk such as Hanai asking Harima if he really loves Yakumo, Harima replied that he would only tell him if he defeats him. So they settle it the old fashion way by turning their backs to each other and taking 10 steps before turning around and shoot. In the end, it seems that Hanai won! And while Harima ‘dies’ in the arms of Hanai, Hanai realized that the way things Harima said, that he might have been in love with another person. Hanai carries a ‘dead’ Harima in his arms under the moonlit night. And Akira seemed pleased with all her video recording.
 
The next day at school, the whole 2-C class has been scolded by a teacher for what they did the previous night. And he even told them off that they should do both instead of fighting over which one to do, much to the class’s surprise. And because of Itoko, the whole class was let off easily. Some little chat here and there like how Suga mentions about that mysterious guy in Eri’s clothes but Eri says she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And Harima starts teasing Hanai-Mikoto when Tenma calls Hanai ‘dependable’, as Hanai and Mikoto blushed and denies everything. Back at Eri’s home, we see her asking Nakamura to hand back her school uniform. So must be true lah, it is him. I find this survival game episode the most interesting and exciting throughout the entire second season and I loved it! The others were well, so so.
 
Soon, it’s the cultural festival and it also happens to be Karasuma’s birthday and the class is gonna throw him a surprise party. I like the hilarious part whereby Tenma baked a cake with the words ‘KARASUMA’ on it. Then Harima bumped into her and accidentally spilled the cake, making only the words ‘MA’ visible left. Harima who’s unaware of what’s going on decides to fix it back by putting his name there, assuming that the ‘MA’ was being refered to him. That is, until he realized that the class starts celebrating Karasuma’s birthday, did Harima jumped and ruin on the cake, which so happens that it was actually a cake to celebrate Yoshidayama’s sumo championship cake. Another character that ends with ‘MA’. And Harima then gladly devours a cake that Yakumo made, thinking that Tenma had made it for him since she gave it to him.
 
As Tenma goes back to get that cake she baked, only to her horror did she find it with Harima’s name on it. So in an attempt to avoid any misunderstanding she ate that whole portion of the ‘HARI’ word, leaving that crescent shaped ‘MA’ portion to a clueless Karasuma. But Karasuma thanked her for it when he found her crying alone at the stairs later. Though, I’m pretty sure that Karasuma’s not really aware the true meaning of it.
 
The cafe part wasn’t much (except for the fact that they try to attract customers through cosplaying), but there’s a little humour during the class’s Sleeping Beauty play. Before the play starts, Harima who has worked hard on completing his manga decides to take a nap on the prop bed for the play. Yakumo tries to wake him up before the play starts but to no avail. During the play, Eri, who’s playing the lead as a male character, has to kiss the princess, who’s supposedly Mikoto (who’s no where to be found at that time), is surprised to find Harima sleeping like a baby there. And everyone’s in shock that the princess is actually a guy! What’s this a gender reversal role thing? And the part where the prince has to kiss the princess to awake her has arrived. Eri is quite hesitating and Harima’s finally opened his eyes and is in for a big shock.
 
And when probably’s Eri to take on Harima, only to find Yakumo in a witch costume, lying next to Harima. What a twist of events. Eri then told her to take responsibility. After some on-stage battling between the witch and the prince, Eri decides to retreat, leaving Yakumo to make the kiss. The pressure’s on. To kiss or not to kiss. Suddenly, Akira drops down from the ceiling like what Tom Cruise did in Mission Impossible and pecks Harima on the nose, before quickly disappearing back up. Instead of the princess being awaken by the prince or the witch, it was a female spy that done so. The crowd went wild with whatever that was and they all loved it, even Togou who seems to be impressed and blabbing it to his other pals, who’re not interested in hearing them.
 
And during the closing ceremony of the cultural festival, Karasuma and his band hijacked the teacher’s boring closing speeches and started to perform. Yay! It’s like a party disco there. Even though Karasuma has that dull boring look, he looks kinda cool when playing the electrical guitar. As everyone dances and parties after a successful job, we see Harima being ‘crucified’ to the ceiling as punishment for what he did earlier on, even though the play was a success.
 
I think class 2-D seems to be friendlier with class 2-C as I noticed that there’s a lot of interaction between the 2, even though class 2-D only shows those usual 3 guys and they’re still enemies in a way. Like how Togou forms his motley crew of odd outlaw basketball players which include Tenma, Harima, Imadori and even Yakumo to go up against Mikoto to see who would be regulars in the basketball team. Well, of course Togou’s team lost. No teamwork and all that complain in the end.
 
Yup, there’s a basketball themed episode (in fact 2 episodes of it) which also focused on one of Yakumo’s classmates, the short Satsuki Tawaraya. Despite her short stature, she’s actually quite passionate and skilfull in basketball. She also seems to have a crush on her basketball coach, Asou, who seems to voluntarily took up the job as one for the female team and looks up to him. And it’s because of Satsuki’s return that allowed Mikoto’s team to defeat Togou’s outlaw basketball team. Later towards the end of the series, there’s another basketball episode, something about some Galactic Bomber, which features no characters from School Rumble but some random characters. It turned out to be some other manga artist’s story. What’s that all about?
 
Other adventures in this second season include Harima, Hanai and Imadori taking a trip with Tenma and her 3 best pals and the guys find themselves in a cooking competition when they don’t want to eat Tenma’s horrible cooking. Yup, in an earlier episode, Tenma made some onigiris in an event whereby each girl made several onigiris of their own and the boys have to eat it to find out which girl made it. Though Harima managed to taste Tenma’s horrible one, he has to swallow it all and praise her good cooking. Spare the rod spoil the child. Anyway, back to that cooking competition. It was an intensed battle between Harima and Hanai with Imadori being disqualified. Akira decides to bring in Karasuma as the final judge and the winner is… Masaru…?! Who? It’s Eri’s male maid. Uh-huh, that chubby mean looking (though he isn’t actually one), who really wears a maid’s dress. Gay?
 
Then there’s that part time job episode which focuses on some of the characters on their part time job. Like how Harima tries to venture into the anime production world but flunked, instead Karasuma seems to be having all the invitations to go into it. Yakumo dresses up as in a bunny costume in a cafe where she works. Asou and Sara has to temporarily help out a manager of a chinese restaurant with chinese speaking customers, when his wife is going into a labour, only thing was, he found out it wasn’t his wife in the end. Lala works in a fast food joint and seems to be constantly being irritated by Imadori. Yeah, that boy never learns. Maybe he likes to get pound and bashed by Lala. Ooohh, the pain. Glorious pain. Tenma does some bread bagging at some bakery and the rest of the boys of class 2-C visits Nishimoto’s secret huge collection of adult videos in his ‘forbidden room’. It must be real paradise for them. Heaven on Earth, I’d say.
 
Tenma transferred to class 2-D? Yeah, to Harima and Hanai’s horror as they found out. And it seems Lala has been switched in place of Tenma. And in order for those 2 guys to get back Tenma, they played some card game with Harry and Togou. But since Harima and Hanai are losing, they both had no choice but to bet other 2-C classmates. It was quite funny to see those bet ‘victims’ shuddering in cold when Harima and Hanai decides to bet them. That feeling like as though somebody’s talking about you but much worse. However in the end, they still lost and it seems because of that, class 2-C now has only them both while class 2-D is packed to the brim. Later as punishment, Akira, Eri and Mikoto made those 2 obey them and do whatever they want. Thus, Harima and Hanai took them to some curry eating competition to compensate things. I wonder if Tenma’s really concern about Harima when she saw him in vain trying to gulp that hot curry plate. Maybe it was just the spur of the moment. But the winner of the competition is… Satsuki! I would’ve never guessed that one.
 
A gathering of those 2-C and 2-D classmates (I think 2-D’s trio are already really that friendly with them) having a nabe party at Mikoto’s place whereby Harima’s pet pig caused a little havoc when it ran riot after thinking that maybe Tenma likes pork soup. Sara gets a confession from a boy named Tanaka but because the former is being very sister-like in the sense, follow and do God’s work, she isn’t sure about love and all those stuffs. Does that line seem ambiguous? Well, actually Tanaka has a crushed on another girl so he went to do a Roman Catholic confession to Sara to seek advice about his problems. Now that sounds better. In the end, though it didn’t turn out the way he wanted but he’ll continue trying his best with Sara supporting him. Also another short young love between Harima’s little brother Shuuji, and Tennoji’s little sister, Mio. Yeah, it may seem ironic that their elder brothers hate each other. Though it’s very obvious that Mio has a crush on Shuuji, but the latter seems to his concern in a less obvious way. I guess boys that age are like that.
 
It wouldn’t really be a high school show if it doesn’t involve an episode about taking the written exams. Yup, because Tenma’s still no good at studying, her other pals decided to help her out with all sorts of methods to make her remember those formulas and dates. But to no avail. Uh-huh. that Tenma girl even got easily distracted during studying. Finally, Mikoto suggests of using a way of remembering things by relating them to the person she likes most, which is Karasuma. The funny part was during the exams, Tenma wrote ‘Karasuma’ in all her answers. Then Yoshidayama copied his answers from Tenma, thinking that Tenma copied them from Karasuma. But before the exam was over, Tenma realized her mistake and changed all her answers back to normal. In the end, Yoshidayama failed and gets a duck egg as his score while Tenma passed. And I’m not sure about some elderly teacher guy’s face, which Harima seems to see/hallucinate. Uh-huh, each time Harima looks at one of his classmates, that classmates face will be in place of that teacher’s face, whether it’s a boy or a girl, much to Harima’s horror.
 
What a pain it must be for Harima when he discovers that Tenma’s birthday is just 1 day before his. And because of that, Harima plans to treat Tenma to some expensive fancy restaurant, that is until his little brother Shuuji turns up and wants him to treat him and Yakumo too (that kid still has a crush on her since the first season). No choice, since Harima thinks he’s doing it for Tenma. Unfortunately, the price of the menu is way to much for a struggling manga artist to pay. And Tenma and Shuuji love the food there and kept ordering for seconds. But he can’t back out now, can’t he? His pocket must be burnt so much so that there’s no pocket anymore. Luckily Eri’s there and manage to include their bill into hers. Since Harima didn’t manage to tell his birthday’s tomorrow to Tenma, he spent the next day alone at the zoo with his giraffe. Poor guy. Both in terms of financially and emotionally.
 
Speaking of which, later in the series, there’ll be some Harima-Eri moments too. It may seem that the 2 may hit off on some kind of relationship, but in the end, it’s nothing that conclusive. It all started when Harima has been given a task by some huge (really huge) manga boss, Jingama, and Harima needs to complete it in a short time. Unfortunately, the apartment that he’s currently staying with Itoko is locked because the latter is on a snowboarding vacation. So Harima has no where to go and sleep. That is, until Yakumo found him and decides to take him back to her house. While Harima is happy to be living under the same roof as Tenma, he still has to finish his manga work and Yakumo decides to help him too. Tenma then decides to test Harima’s true feelings for Yakumo by dressing up as Yakumo (which she failed miserably because Harima could see through her disguise) and some 5 essential test, in which Harima passed all with flying colours. Mainly, that’s because Tenma’s a simpleton and dumb.
 
Of course, Harima was thinking that it was a test about his feelings towards Tenma, until Tenma says that he and Yakumo are compatible. So that night, Harima decides to express his true feelings to Tenma by sneaking into her room. Unfortunately, he got the wrong room, which is Yakumo’s. Good thing is Yakumo wasn’t there. Bad thing is, Tenma saw the whole thing and misunderstood that Harima’s a pervert now. Yeah, and that Ju-on depiction of Tenma seems pretty funny and scary. Because of this, I guess Tenma’s pretty cold towards Harima after that. It’s gonna be tough for Harima to explain it all and convince Tenma that his intentions weren’t bad.
 
So the next day, Tenma kicks Harima out of her house as part of her measure to protect Yakumo. As Harima’s wondering around some shopping complex, he bumped into Mikoto which offered him to stay at her dojo. Well why not. He’s got no place to stay. But unknown to Harima, Eri too is staying at Mikoto’s place because she objected to her family’s arranged marriage of her, so she ran away. It was quite a funny scene to see Harima in a pinch when he was taking a bath at the dojo. Eri comes in thinking that Harima’s Mikoto and tries to talk to her. Luckily the bath area was filled with mist so Eri couldn’t see properly. Plus, Mikoto’s outside doing some voice impersonation to make it as though Harima is her. When Eri decides to join ‘Mikoto’ in her bath, Harima panics and farts! Yeah, you could see those bubbles surfacing, which prompt Eri to quickly change her mind. After when they’re both done, Mikoto pounds Harima for that incident saying that it would give rise to misconception of her being ‘unlady-like’. Hehe.
 
Then Nakamura came looking for Eri to bring her back. Though Eri was ready to go with him, Mikoto quickly put on some worker’s uniform on Eri and told Harima to take her and escape on his motorbike, which he did. Why is she doing this? Seems that Mikoto is quite concern and worried for Eri’s marriage interview. Perhaps in a way she doesn’t approve of it. Nakamaru who saw Eri escaping, knew he can’t catch up so he sends Masaru to do it. Unfortunately, Masaru mistakes Tenma as Eri and kidnaps her. Dumb guy.
 
During the night, Harima and Eri took refuge at a temple and had one of those ‘what do you want to do in your future’ kinda conversation and such. Can I consider it to be some moment of intimacy there? Anyway, the next day Eri decides to go back and face her mum about it. But to their surprise, Tenma’s there still pretending as Eri. Luckily Tenma doesn’t realized that the guy Eri’s with is Harima because they’re both neatly dressed. So Tenma tries her best to look bad so that guy wouldn’t want to marry her. After some private chat between Eri and her mom, she told her that she still has friends and wants to be with them. I guess her mom understood. Meanwhile, Tenma discovers that the guy is Harima after putting on sunglasses on him. And when Eri walked into the room to see the 2 in a ‘compromising’ position, she beats Harima up. Looks like now Eri has an unfavourable perception of Harima, though it isn’t that bad. But still… Anyway, the marriage interview was cancelled after that.
 
But Tenma isn’t going to stay mad at Harima forever. In an episode where Harima manages to complete his manga, he decides to give Tenma read it first. But Tenma’s still skeptical because of that incident. Only with Harima’s confession to Tenma that he’s a manga artist and some persuasion from Yakumo did Tenma started reading and she finds it a little interesting. However, the deadline is quite close and a snow storm has disrupt the local transportation. In Harima’s haste, he steals a giant curry plate, which Tenma made for Karasuma to get there, much to Tenma’s horror when she found out about it later. Yeah, she was thinking and feeling bad about that misunderstanding between Harima and Yakumo after Yakumo explained things to her. Once Harima arrived there with the broken curry plate, he gives Jingama read it but only to bre rejected. Harima’s about to protest but is stopped by Karasuma.
 
Just then Tenma and Yakumo arrived with Tenma slowly picking up the pieces of the curry plate before serving some curry and giving it to Karasuma. After which she ran out of the room in tears. Karasuma’s words made Harima realized what he has done as Harima rushes to find Tenma, crying alone in a dark room. As he apologizes profusely, he told her how he wants to see her smile and laugh and proceeds to hug her from behind. When Tenma realized what Harima’s doing, she pushes him away and blushes. Harima continues to apologize for the broken curry plate. Though Tenma still felt bad about her misunderstanding between him and Yakumo, they both shook hands and made up. Aww…
 
Another Harima-Eri part was one during the New Year festivals where Mikoto asked Harima to help replace her in some lion dance outfit because Mikoto went to help Akira with something. So to Harima’s surprise, the other half of the lion is no other than Eri. No choice, so they had to dance and prance around in it together. Then there’s one part where Harima saw how Karasuma’s gonna give Tenma a kiss! Well, not exactly. As Karasuma asked Tenma to close her eyes, Tenma thinks he’s gonna kiss her. An angry Harima tries to interrupt but was ‘fling’ away by some finger manouevre by Karasuma over the cliff. Actually, Karasuma wanted to give Tenma a pin for her kimono. Well, not that what Tenma had hoped for, but she’s quite happy. And I don’t think there’s any real feelings from Karasuma towards Tenma with that gesture. Maybe he’s just being nice and coincidentally Tenma’s there, that’s all. Meanwhile, Harima’s struggling to climb up the cliff with Eri clinging on dearly to him with that lion outfit. Though Harima’s apologizing, Eri doesn’t mind and just hoped that they’d go through the new year well together.
 
Other fun filled episodes include the one where Akira got stuck waist level at some class room and proceeds to call other people to help her get out, only thing is, one by one met the same fate as her. From Sara to Yakumo and then Tenma. Then it’s revealed that it’s part of Akira plan to take an embarrassing photo of them when she came out of that penguin suit she was wearing, only to fall back in and got stuck. Back to square one. They all manage to break free by falling on to a mattress in the gym below.
 
Also, there are episodes about other characters as well such as where Nishimoto, Yoshidayama and Nara decides to dress up like Harry to be cool, but failed miserably. Ichijou thinks having some time together with Imadori is ruined because of Ichijou’s little brother who also share the same interest with Imadori’s some Power Ranger spoof. And Imadori spent the day playing with him instead of what Ichijou wants. Poor girl. Just dump him already. Looks like Imadori still loves teasing Lala when they go ice skating and he finds out that Lala doesn’t have a good balance on ice.
 
Then an episode between Yuuki and Fuyuki. Don’t really remember that one, except that snow scenery on the school rooftop at night was amazing. And some mahou shoujo (magical girl) episode with Mai cosplaying as one. Typical mahou shoujo episode with some of the other School Rumble characters in weird roles and costumes. Especially Tenma’s Wonder Woman costume. Oh, those fake breasts… I wonder what’s that episode about Karasuma being the police chief of a squad of female cyborg task force comprising of Tenma, Mikoto, Eri and Yakumo among others, with Harima as some disgruntled lower officer. Hmmm… Also an episode on Yakumo’s flashback while she was young on how she came to love and protect her elder sister whom she once hated for always being ‘in the way’.
 
Still remember Hanai? Yeah, this is how his role is even ‘reduced’. During the New Year festival, Akira and Itoko decided to tie Hanai and Harima to a giant kite each in some kite battle. But during the fight, Hanai’s kite string snapped and the wind blew him away. So for the rest of the episodes, you’ll on occassion see Hanai being stuck up there with the kite, going to where ever the wind takes him. Not even that what ever South American civilization where Hanai woke up and found the citizens resembling so close to those School Rumble characters, where the Eri look a like is the queen and is gonna sacrifice a Yakumo look a like for a yearly ritual. Eventually Hanai saves the day (not sure about that part where he puts his specs on some giant statue whereby it activated and fought another giant enemy statue). But because Hanai feels this isn’t where he belong, he decided to go back floating aimlessly on his kite till he reached home, even though the father of that Yakumo look a like proposed that the 2 get married.
 
For the last few weeks of winter, Eri invites her whole class to a cruise ship so that they could go somewhere warmer. How nice of her. But I guess that’s what being too rich is all about. So we can see all those ‘jakuns’ like as though they’ve never ride on such a luxury cruiser with all the amenities before (actually, they’ve never, so can’t blame them). I didn’t get the part where Harry and Togou were kayaking which later caught up with the cruise and joined them. Huh? Anyway, the ship crashed into some reefs, making them all stranded and the radio communications are destroyed in the process. So I guess, that’s what the kayak part is for, Nakamaru and Masaru paddling out to get help.
 
With the gang running out of food, everyone’s morale is low and feeling depressed. Tenma (probably hallucinating due to lack of food. Or maybe not) saw Karasuma in a penguin suit on an ice bank among other penguins (what’s he doing there in the first place?) suddenly gets the motivation to carry on, which in return, livens up the mood of everyone else. Then a whale appears to be on collision course with the ship. But the whale fell in love with Yakumo once it saw her trying to stop it. Remember, Yakumo’s an animal lover and is quite good with handling them. Thus, the whole gang is saved when a rope tied to the whale pulls the ship back to land.
 
The last episode gets a little serious. Tenma discovered that Harima may be a pervert once again. You see while Tenma’s sleeping, she must be having some dream about Karasuma, which made her put her arms around a Harima. But Harima got depressed when she mentions Karasuma’s name instead of his. As Harima moves his face closer to kiss her, Tenma suddenly opened her eyes. What’s your interpretation if you find some guy on top of you. A panicking Harima tries to explain things but Tenma doesn’t believe him and remembers something similar which happened to her many years ago (back in the first season flashback, that is).
 
Harima admits that it was him then but explains that it was all a misunderstanding then. The reason why he hid his identity until now was because he wanted to be with her. Just then, Harima’s handphone rang and he received a call from one of the staffs at the manga production company. Harima’s in shock (Tenma must be devastated then) when he heard that Karasuma has been in an accident. Soon the both of them, riding on Harima’s bike, rushed over in the pouring thunderstorm. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather conditions, a lightning struck a tree in their path causing Harima lost control of his bike and crashed… Oh dear… But while Tenma’s already unconscious, Harima grabs and protects her in mid air, injuring his leg in the process. Though he seems alright when a truck went over him.
 
When Tenma opened her eyes, she found herself lying in hospital and Yakumo by her side. Tenma quickly asked if Karasuma’s okay. Yakumo tells that Karasuma’s here and an overjoyed Tenma hugs him as she cries. But why is Karasuma all right? Wasn’t he involved in an accident? Well, actually Harima misheard that earlier telephone conversation. What Harima heard was a pun of the word ‘jikou’ (accident) and winning the World Cup (the word which I’m not really sure). And Harima’s in the next room too with some bandages here and there. Yeah, and that lecturing from Itoko, but I’m sure he’s glad that Tenma’s all right even though it’s Karasuma that she’s concerned with.
 
The next day in school, Harima’s thinking of quitting school with the letter he wrote, but panics when he sees Tenma. As Harima tries to run away and Tenma going after him, wanting to know the reason why he’s running away, we see a few ‘tying-up’ scenes of other characters like Fuyuki taking a picture of Harima zooming pass by (only to be bashed by Harima), Imadori fascinated by Ichijou’s panties when her skirts flip up when Tenma zooms pass by (only to be bashed by Lala), Togou flexing his muscles and Harry reading a book.
 
When Harima’s being cornered at the school rooftop and being asked why he’s running away by Tenma, Harima tells her that now she knows his true identity and has no reason to be near her. But it seems Tenma has lost her memories. *Triple Smack!*. That girl don’t even remember a thing what happened last night. In a way Harima’s saved as he then tries not to revive those forgotten memories. Tenma gives him some samurai video which made Harima very happy and a new reason to go on living as he rips his school quitting letter.
 
And in the final closing scenes, we see the class having some mock pillow fight because they’ll be having an upcoming school trip. Didn’t get that part. Oh well, all’s well that ends well. Not quite exactly. Hanai’s still floating in that kite. But at least most of it are back to normal. School Rumble style, that is.
 
Overall, I still kinda like this series even though this season wasn’t as funny as before the first one. It’s still worthwhile to watch. Most probably what I can see is that why this season isn’t as funny as the previous one was mainly because of the focus on character developments. Yes, with introduction of several new characters, the effort have been put in the building those characters. And even if it’s just Harima and his manga work and Yakumo as his little assistant, they still manage to blend in a good mix of comedy and drama.
 
This season also retain that format of whereby an episode is divided into 3 parts, each with their own title, and can be related to each other or not. And some of the titles of those parts are plain weird such as one which is titled ‘Hee, Hee Hee, Hee Hee Hee’. How weird is that. Also before the start and at the end of each episode, we still have the usual short additional info and on occassion, ‘teaser’.
 
The drawing, art and animation as well as the voice acting is pretty much consistent with the first season. Though, I’ve mentioned that there’re several changes like Harima’s clean shaven look which seems less appealing to me. As for the music, there isn’t any background music which fascinates me. And only the second ending theme, Futari Wa Wasurechau, sung by the voice actresses of the Tsukamoto sisters, is quite appealing. Though the opening theme, Sentimental Generation, seems fitting for the series, but I didn’t like it that much.
 
So, will there be a third semester? Well, there’s one episode where Harima says "Now, on to the third semester" while taking his exams, seems to suggests so. But even so, I’ll be anticipating more wacky and humorous stuffs from the entire gang. But I wouldn’t bet my money on either Tenma-Karasuma or Harima-Tenma’s relationship being developed. I guess that’s where all the fun is. And even if they did, I’d be surprised. I just hope that if there’s ever a third season, I’ll try not to set my expectations to high and just watch and laugh the whole way. That would be best. SCHOOL RUMBLE 4EVER!!!

Ouran High School Host Club

February 3, 2007

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the manga, it’s no surprise that Ouran High School Host Club was one of the highest anticipated series to make it’s cross-over to the anime world in year 2006. Though I have never read the manga before, but the anime version didn’t disappoint me as well. Though I’m not sure how close the anime follows the manga. Must be close lah. Why would anyone want to stray from the original plot and add their own ideas to this already popular series.
 
But if you think that this whole 26 episode series is about those guys in the host club trying to hit on the ladies, well, you’re off the mark. No doubt the main purpose of a male host club is to accompany and serve the ladies to their whims and fancies, but the series is more than just that, focusing more on the interaction and relationship between the host club members as well as other zany characters that ‘touch’ (or rather disrupt or annoy) their lives.
 
The Ouran Private Academy is quite a large campus as it ranges from kindergarten to high school level and is defined something as prestige and lineage first, meaning the school caters for students whose prestigeous family backgrounds have big ‘connections and links’ with some big corporates and such, and second, affluent and wealthy students who’re born with the golden spoon in their mouths. In short, famous and rich students study here. Thus, the purpose of the host club is to provide company and entertainment to those rich girls with many free time on their hands and at the same time make a profit out of it with their good looks. Exploiting? Well, if you have the money, I guess nearly anything is possible. Yeah, cash is king.
 
However, students that do not fit within that financially well-off or having super connections can still enrol in this school if he/she is quite intelligent and is offer a scholarship to study here. That is the case for Haruhi Fujioka. A bright and intelligent student who manages to secure a place in this prestigeous academy.
 
For those of you who have read the manga or the plot before hand, you would’ve guessed that Haruhi’s a girl. Yup, it’s the convenience and the way that Japanese anme drawings are so, that a boy can look like a girl, vice versa, or even a character can ambiguously look and sound as both. Same case here for Haruhi. Her life is about to change (for the better or worse depending how you look at it) when one day she decides to find a quiet place to study. Because the library is filled with those gossiping girls, her wandering takes her to an unused Third Music Room, where she bumps into the host club members.
 
Of course, Haruhi would be surprised upon seeing 6 gorgeous and handsome guys as she tries to back out from whatever they’re gonna drag her into. Unfortunately, she accidentally broke an expensive vase in the room and incurs a massive hug debt of 8 million Yen! Wah! How is she gonna pay for all that. And that on screen arrow keeps blinking and pointing at the vase most probably so that viewers would focus their attention on it and expect it to be bumped over. Hmm… Reminds me of Izumi’s case in He Is My Master.
 
In order to start paying off her debt, Haruhi is employed as the host club’s ‘dog’ by doing menial chores such as cleaning and serving food. But one day, while the host club’s boss, Tamaki, saw Haruhi without her glasses (yeah, she’s got beautiful eyes), he was attracted to it and instantly promotes Haruhi to a host position. And as Haruhi gathers an increasing amount of customers, the host club then found out that Haruhi’s a girl! Especially much to Tamaki’s surprise and shock.
 
Why didn’t they notice it in the first place? Yeah, beside that convenient Japanese drawing I mentioned earlier, it’s because when Haruhi came into the place, her dressing was somewhat messy and unkempt, especially her hair (because some kid stick a chewing gum into it), which made her look like a geek guy. Thus, the host club members would try their best to keep Haruhi’s real gender identity from being blown. Imagine what would happen if those girl customers found out that their male host is actually a girl. They’ll freak out as they’re not playing yuri here. But it seems that Haruhi’s doing quite an impressive job as she’s the main new attraction for the host club.
 
Before we move on, a quick run down of the host club members first. The half French and half Japanese Tamaki Suoh, dubbed as the ‘King’ of the host club is the club’s leader. No doubt that he looks handsome with that blond hair with his natural romantic lines on the outside, but behind the scenes, Tamaki is actually an idiot! Yup, you heard me, a real idiot. In the eyes of his female customers, he’s like the charming prince and the most popular male host among the club. But when Haruhi arrives, we’ll see that he’s quite foolish, immature, and gets depressed easily (whenever Haruhi ignores him, that is).
 
But being an idiot, he has his good points too. Yup, he can’t stand seeing anyone in trouble so he’ll do all he can to help them. Besides doing quite well in his studies and being an excellent piano player, Tamaki seems to take a liking for Haruhi as the series progress and sometimes calls her ‘his daughter’ whenever making statements. But Haruhi isn’t too fond of it all and just ignores whatever idiocracy Tamaki says or does. Tamaki’s family business has long been rooted within the banking, finance, property and school sector. Thus, later in the series, you’ll find out that it’s Tamaki’s family that sponsors and allowed Haruhi to study in this school.
 
The real puppet master and ‘Shadow King’ of the host club is Kyoya Outori, who’s also the vice president of the club. Yup, in reality, Kyoya is the one doing all the controlling, planning and scheming, so it looks like Tamaki’s just a stage puppet. He’s quite cool, calculative and money minded (uh-huh he claims he will not do anything which doesn’t bring any profit to him). You could always see him writing and jotting down things for his data and for whatever reasons.
 
No doubt that the bespectacled Kyoya may look like the ‘mean’ and the cold kind, he’s actually quite aware of his surroundings, though sometimes I feel that he show his caring and thoughtfulness in that cold kind of manner. Coming from a very wealthy and influential family with ties and links in the security and medical industry (they probably own the whole hospital and police staff), Kyoya’s dad is quite strict and because of his 2 elder brother’s success, there is a burden on Kyoya that he is to do better and maintain that success and keep it all up.
 
Then there’s that Hitachiin twins, Hikaru and Kaoru. Those 2 devilish twins also provide for some of the comic relief and add to Tamaki’s idiocracy. The reason being is that they’re bored and thus decides to join in whatever plans or schemes Tamaki cooks up whenever it involves Haruhi. A year younger than Tamaki and in the same year and class as Haruhi, many of the twins’ female customers seem to love them for their yaoi and forbidden boy’s love. I dunno, desparate or just naive those girls. They get all excited whenever seeing them getting into one of their lovey-dovey brotherly acts. While it’s quite funny to watch them do so, but to me, such a thing would send shivers down my spine.
 
Also, I can never seem to identify which one is Kaoru and which one is Hikaru. They both look so alike. Even with the hint of donno which one’s hair part to the left is this twin and parting to the right is that twin, I can never seem to remember. But even when the twins play that ‘guess which is Hikaru’ trick game (the answer by the ‘victim’ is always the wrong one, not sure whether done on purpose or not by the twins), only Haruhi seems to be able to confidently tell the difference between the 2. Much to their dismay at first. As the series progresses, we see that Hikaru seems to be falling for Haruhi just like Tamaki but doesn’t realize it while Kaoru also does but doesn’t want to hurt him.
 
Then there’s that petite third year student, Mitsukuni Haninozuka AKA Honey. Don’t let his size and cute lolita complex fool you. He’s quite a good and skillful karate martial artist and can take out anyone twice his size. Well okay, maybe for his age he still acts like a small kid and mostly his female customers are those who like cute childish little boys with lolita complex. Also, Honey likes to eat sweet stuffs such as chocolate and cakes and can’t resist them whenever he gets a chance to eat them.
 
Besides his yellow hair, petite size and little genki personality, the other fact which reminds Honey of Momiji of Fruits Basket is his stuffed rabbit, Usa-chan. Yup, his rabbit. No, Honey doesn’t transform into a rabbit like Momiji when being hugged by an opposite gender, but because of this rabbit factor, I was thinking that Honey’s character is based upon Momiji’s. But that’s just a high speculation from me, nothing else. In addition, when Honey sleeps, it’s better to let sleeping dogs (or rabbit) sleep, That’s because Honey will turn into an aggressive and violent (where has all the cuteness gone to?) when he is abruptly awakened from his beauty sleep.
 
And there’s this tall lanky Takashi Morinozuka AKA Mori. Which gang would be complete without that taciturn character. As the most silent, rarely smiles and probably stoic character among the members, Mori seems to hang around Honey most of the time. It’s like those 2 are like inseparable friends (more like odd pair) for life even though their personality are way too contrasting. That’s because the 2 are somewhat related (cousins, that is) and they’re both the same age.
 
As the series progress you’ll find out that Mori’s family has been assigned to protect Honey’s family for many generations. Thus, there’s that inter-marriage kinda thingy which bonds the two families closer. So in a way, it’s Mori’s nature too to protect and keep a watchful eye out for Honey. Also, Mori is also quite a skilled martial artist in the kendo discipline. And with Honey as his partner, they’re like invincible.
 
And of course as mentioned, the new member to the host club, Haruhi, is generally an honest, sensible and down to earth girl. And because of some of the members (especially Tamaki’s) annoying characteristics, she tends to be sarcastic with her remarks or answers and would sometimes ignore them. As the series progresses, Haruhi learns more about the other members and in a way changes them.
 
Ever why Haruhi isn’t bothered with her gender awareness thing? That’s because her father, Ryoji "Ranka" Fujioka, is also a cross dresser himself! Like father like daughter…?! But Ranka’s case is more like he works as one and ever since Haruhi’s mom’s demise (she passed away while Haruhi’s very young and the reason why Haruhi wanted to go to Ouran High School was to follow in her footsteps to become a lawyer), he felt that he would never love any other women again. Just like Tamaki, Ranka sometimes display his idiotic attitude. Some similarity there even though Ranka doesn’t like Tamaki much and usually picks on him. Uh-huh. I guess it’s best that Haruhi just ignore them sometimes. Also, Haruhi is afraid of thunder and gets ‘paralyzed’ if it’s really a serious one.
 
I’m not really sure if Shiro Takoji is a host club member or not. Of course he doesn’t seem like a permanent one, but as a temporary one… dunno. That elementary brat decides to seek Tamaki’s help into becoming a ladies’ men. But since the club has Honey as lolita one, having another would be overlapping as they seek to have a variety of different host personalities. Yup, Shiro is somewhat classified as the ‘naughty’ one. And he’s being so true to it. The host club members realized that Shiro’s doing it because of some girl named Hina whom he likes, is going away soon. So Shiro managed to play one last piano recital with her. And when after Hina’s gone, looks like Shiro’s turned into a womanizer at the host club, much to Tamaki’s dismay. You’ve met your match Tamaki.
 
Then there’s that self-proclaimed manageress of the host club, Renge Houshakuji. Living in France for some time, her return to Japan and the host club was due to the fact that she fell in love with Kyoya, even though she has never met him. Yup, Kyoya strikes a striking resemblance to some main guy in some dating simulation game. Uh-huh, Renge’s a dating game simulation freak. Tamaki allowed her to become the club’s managaress in hopes that Renge would be be Haruhi’s female friend and inspire her to dress and act more femininely.
 
The weird and funny thing about Renge is that whenever she makes her appearance, there would always be that sound of some high powered motor being activiated. Then Renge would appear standing on top of some rotating platform with sometimes her typical trademark laugh from the floor below (whether it’s in school or outside!). Yeah, she’s some sort of like a critic and complains things that are not being done correctly or not good enough (from her point of view). Then she’ll like busybody suggesting and make changes according to what she perceived should be.
 
The series doesn’t merely focus on how Haruhi repays her enormous debt. Instead, it also manages to provide other storylines which adds to the character development of other characters such as how Tamaki gathers the other members to join the host club he formed. Plus, how Kyoya was dragged by Tamaki and left alone at a commoner’s department store only to accidentally meet Haruhi there and they both exchange views on how they view each of their lives. And an episode where we see how the twins are so isolated in their own world, that when Haruhi came into their lives, it was like an intrusion into their world of refuge but at the same time, broke them free from their ‘cage’ and opened them up to the world outside.
 
Tamaki has a cute little sister? Well, not really actually. A young girl named Kirimi wants Tamaki to be her elder brother because her real older brother, Umehito Nekozawa, is a ‘dark’ person. What do I mean, Nekozawa is actually afraid of light so much so that exposure to light will have undesirable health effects on him. Thus, Nekozawa has to even dye his blond hair black (serious case) and wears a hood anywhere he goes. As the president of the Black Magic Club, he has a devil cat named Beelzenef as his right hand puppet. Must be for company since he’s desparately trying to get people to join his club but to no avail. Anyway, Kirimi is quite the opposite as she hates the darkness. Plus, which little girl wouldn’t want such a handsome prince charming as her older brother. In the end, Kirimi came to love Nekozawa when the latter braves the light to rescue her.
 
An episode where Honey gets a toothache after eating too much sweets and has to tortuously tolerate not eating sweets for a period of time until his cavity improves. And the time where Honey’s little brother, Yasuchika, decides to challenge Honey to a sparring match in hopes of learning and improving his techniques against him. Unfortunately, Honey’s love for sweet stuffs seems to surpass his love for Yasuchika.
 
Then there’s a time where Mori got a visit from some third generation yakuza head guy Ritsu Kasanoda. Funny thing is, the host club members can’t seem to remember his name well and always call him ‘Cassanova-kun’ or ‘Bossonova-kun’. Anyway, Kasanoda wants Mori to help him change his scary gangster image so that he could make friends easier. Unfortunately, Kasanoda discover Haruhi’s secret and in a way fell in love with her. So when he joins the host club as a customer and insist on Haruhi being his host, the other host club members (especially Tamaki) gets a little worried while the other girls got all excited over that misperception of that yaoi relationship. Haih…
 
Speaking of which, I feel that those high school female customers are like one of those naive, male-deprived ladies. Yup, they get all so excited whenever those male hosts gets into one of their romantic, sweet, smooth talking modes (yeah, maybe some of those lines are good for picking up girls or charm your current gal). And they all can’t get enough of it and would exclaim and go "KYAAA!!! MOE!!! MOE!!! MOEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!" Haih. But I see them so funny lah everytime they go like that. But I guess that’s the kind of service and expectation you get when you pay so much for.
 
Plus, each time a visit to the host club room, the members would put on some theme such as waitress, shinto priests or medieval costumes and the place will be lavishly renovated to suite the mood and the theme. Probably that’s where all the money of the club went. I suppose that’s what you could do with all the money you could milk from the cash cow.
 
But don’t think that these high class rich people knows everything. Why, some where in the early episodes we see how ‘ignorant’ they all are. Yeah, all those rich girls and host guys don’t even know what an instant coffee is! And they all are so amused and fascinated when Haruhi ‘the commoner’ shows them how to make instant coffee. Amazing. To them all coffee must be freshly grounded, brewed and such and I suppose that’s why they’ve never seen such an ‘invention’ before. To high up in the sky or from another world, huh? And they say money can buy anything. Even so, you need to know what you’re buying, right? "Rich bastards…". Hahaha. That’s what Haruhi would silently say to herself.
 
Other episodes sees how the other host club members interact and bond with Haruhi in one of the club’s outing, activities or adventures such as the time when the gang drags Haruhi to an artificial tropical beach. Yeah, the gang wanted some time out after those hectic attendance to their customers. That place is so bloody big that even Mori and Honey got lost and separated. And after that they went to a real beach resort in Okinawa where Tamaki discovers Haruhi fear of thunder and gets into one of those ‘compromising position’ with Haruhi, much to the dismay of the other club members when they saw and misunderstood Tamaki’s good intentions.
 
Then there’s that school physical examination episode where the club members try to prevent Haruhi’s secret from being discovered but a pervert on the loose in the school grounds may threaten all that. Fortunately, it’s just some guy who wants to see his daughter, but he got the wrong school. Also the time when the host club members decides to experience a commoner’s life by visiting Haruhi’s home. Uh-huh, Tamaki’s got that vision of Haruhi’s really really poor and pitiful condition. But it’s not that all bad, at least to Haruhi.
 
Of course, there are episodes which indicates some of the club members’ love interest in Haruhi. Like one episode where Haruhi went to work part time in some pension inn, whom that cross dresser guy Misuzu is one of Ranka’s friend. Birds of the same feather flock together. There the club members decide to compete among themselves to see who would get to stay at the pension since there’s only one room left. In the end the twins won. I guess even there those good looking host club members can still attract those swooning girls.
 
At the same time, Haruhi met an old classmate and friend of hers, Arai, who happened to be doing some grocery delivery. The rest of the club member thinks that they’re more than just friends but Hikaru seems to be jealous. Thus, Kaoru decides to set his twin brother up on a date with Haruhi. During their so called date, Hikaru seemed to be acting like an obnoxious spoiled brat, ignoring Haruhi’s feelings, and even went away himself in the middle of the date leaving her all alone. And of course and impending thunderstorm is coming. Tamaki realized what just happened and scolded Hikaru by talking some sense into him and to be more aware of other people’s feelings. But in the end, Hikaru manage to find Haruhi and she’s all right.
 
And there’s that halloween episode where Renge suggests some test of courage thingy. While Haruhi and the twins try to plan and setup between their class rep, Kazukiyo, with the vice class rep, Momoka, since the former has a crush on the latter but is too chicken to tell her, the twins got separated for the first time with Hikaru and Haruhi together. Uh-huh, some hesitating moments there. You can tell that Hikaru likes Haruhi but just that he doesn’t seems to realize it all. In the end, that whole halloween night belongs to Nekozawa. Yup, he had the last laugh and pulled of the biggest scaring prank in the school history.
 
There are other clubs which seems to ‘interfere’ with the host club. Like how the ailing newspaper club wants to do an interview with the host club because one of the host club members broke the newspaper’s club window while playing baseball. That newspaper club is going to be disbanded unless they can sell their papers. The funny thing is the only people who bought their papers are the 2 underling members. Haha. Who would want to buy some newspaper which reports on weird and exaggerated stuffs and gossips like aliens and the such. Thus, the newspaper club views this as a revival opportunity. When the newspaper club threatens to expose some information they found on Tamaki, Kyoya’s foresightedness managed to prevent it all by blackmailing them back with some tape recorder on the newspaper club’s earlier scheming conversation. No choice, though. They had to back down and drop their scheme.
 
Then there’s that theatre performance Zuka Club from St. Lobelia All Girl’s Academy. Led by the popular and famous Benio Amakusa (The Lady Of The Red Rose), or more commonly known as Benibara-sama, with her 2 underlings Chizuru (The Lady Of The Lily) and Hinako (The Lady Of The Daisy). Benibara’s so popular that the whole school has even a fanclub dedicated to her. Yeah, all that moe moe moe from those girls at St. Lobelia.
 
Anyway, Benibara noticed that Haruhi is a girl and wants to take her away from that host club and join their St. Lobelia Academy. Why? That’s because Benibara is that female chauvinist who thinks females are more superior than men and seeing Haruhi working under those conditions in the host club just pisses her off. Of course the host club wouldn’t allow it, but Benibara’s already giving Haruhi a tour of St. Lobelia, trying to persuade her to join their school. In the end, even though the host club dressed up in female costumes (except Mori) to desparately get back Haruhi, Haruhi had a good laughed and declined Benibara’s offer because she wants to continue pursuing her dream at Ouran. The reason why Haruhi’s there the first place. I know those pretty and handsome boys looked cool as guys but as girls, disgusting. Just plain disgusting, in a funny way that is.
 
But it’s not over yet as the Zuka Club plans on another revenge scheme of crushing the host club. Benibara managed to convince Haruhi to play a role in some Zuka Club commemorating play, causing the host club (especially Tamaki) and even Ranka to go into panic mode, and decides to rescue her by dressing up in St. Lobelia’s uniform… ?!. Though Haruhi’s part were simple and lines only restricted to saying "Federique-sama", Haruhi really sucks. Yeah, that unconvincing monotonous stone performance is very obvious. But in the end, that it is revealed that this was all a trap by Benibara to steal Haruhi’s first kiss!
 
But before she can do it while the play is in progress, Kyoya manages to take control of the control room and project Haruhi’s first kiss on to the big screen, shocking everyone, even Ranka. What first kiss? Haruhi already has her first kiss? More on that later. Benibara who found out about this, still decides to kiss Haruhi in front of Tamaki as her revenge towards him. So some running around here and there before some monkey who finished eating something, threw the waste on the floor, making those guys slip. Yeah, it’s so funny. Everytime when there’s a St. Lobelia episode, there’ll always be this monkey who eats something, throws its wrapping away and soon somebody will step on it and slip. And Haruhi wishes that she’d be somewhere studying quietly. Oh well, I guess she has to put up with all those blokes.
 
So about Haruhi’s first kiss. When did she received it? In a very early episode, a girl named Kanako Kasugazaki is having trouble with her fiance, Tooru. She has a reputation for changing male hosts as she’s doing this because her fiance isn’t paying her enough attention (just like having multiple sex partners. Just kidding). Yup, and normally a female customer would designate herself to just 1 male host and not go host-hopping. So the host club decides to help her out by organizing some ball whereby the girl who is crowned Queen will get a hot kiss from Tamaki as her reward. Which girl wouldn’t want that.
 
Some flashbacks here and there as we learn that Tooru has his heart on another girl and is going overseas soon to become a more confident person, as he tells Haruhi and the latter decides to give him some advice. Then Kanako walks in and misunderstood the situation when she saw the 2 together and got jealous and ran away. Tooru tries to chase her. Before you know it, some spotlight shone (like it was all pre-mediated) on them as the 2 decided to have their last dance together as everyone watched. Though Tooru confessed and Kanako won the title but the twins decides to twist things and add some spice to it all by telling them that Kanako should get a kiss from Haruhi, much to Tamaki’s anger. Haruhi agrees because Kyoya said it would reduce her debt by 1/3. That’s a lot.
 
And while Tamaki tries to stop them, he accidentally stepped on a banana skin and slipped, inadvertantly pushing Haruhi. Yup, Haruhi and Kanako locked lips! All the girls must be swooning with envy. KYAA!!!!! Oh, the horror for Tamaki. Well, to everyone, it’s a boy kiss girl. But to others who know of Haruhi’s gender, would it constitute to a yuri? Funny lah. But Haruhi doesn’t seem quite perturbed by that incident and was quite happy with the overall outcome.
 
Things get a little serious in the last 2 episodes. While the host club is participating in the school’s annual festival, a young and obnoxious looking lady, Eclair Tonnerre, comes into the picture and changes Tamaki’s perception on the host club. Yup, Tamaki’s mean grandma decides to engage Tamaki to Ecair. Not only that, because of this, Tamaki announced that after this festival ends, the host club will be dissolved. What the? They’ve all been like a family up till now and suddenly this. Even Haruhi has that reluctant feeling to see the club go even though she tolerates the club members one kind character.
 
It seems that Tamaki has a past on his own. His father fell in love and married some woman in France. Yup, you could say Tamaki’s born out of wedlock. Tamaki’s dad even tried to get a divorce with his current wife. And because Tamaki’s mom was sick, she’s unable to leave France to be with Tamaki. At the same time, the Suoh’s businesses around the globe was faltering, accumulating lots of debts. With no suitable heir the Suoh family lineage, Tamaki’s grandma decided that Tamaki could be the heir to their family business and she would allow him to lead an extravagant and comfortable life in Japan, on one condition that he is not allowed to see his mom again. Though Tamaki’s mom was sad and regretted that she ‘sold’ her son for money, she has since moved away and her whereabouts are unknown. Poor guy. No wonder Tamaki has been an idiot all this while most probably to forget his painful past and to move on living happily, even if it’s quite irritating and annoying in the eyes of others. So by marrying the Tonnerre family, the Suoh’s will prosper even further and Tamaki gets a chance to see his mom.
 
So you could see a reluctant Tamaki accompanying Eclair throughout the day. Tamaki doesn’t seem to be his energetic self. Besides that, we see Kyoya’s dad slapping Kyoya for doing a ‘disgraceful’ job as a male host and wonders if it’s his way of embarrassing the family. Not happy with his son’s achievements, I see. And a short clip there of Kasanoda blushing as he’s being surrounded by a bevy of beauties. Way to go for a yakuza.
 
Anywa, Kyoya mentioned to Haruhi that her debts has been cleared after serving Eclair as the latter requested. Uh-huh, some b*tchy questions Eclair asked Haruhi like is Haruhi Tamaki’s girlfriend and such. But even after that, looks like Haruhi doesn’t seem to be relieved even though she doesn’t owe anything now. Must be that Tamaki’s going away thing. Haruhi’s even got that jealous body language and look everytime things involve Eclair. I know that even if Haruhi’s not too fond of Tamaki’s idiocracy, but Tamaki’s HER idiot. Hahaha.
 
A lot of those spacing out, flashbacks and serious moments here. Soon as the festival ends, Kyoya became aware that Tamaki has already left for the airport to Paris with Eclair. And thus he informs the other host club members as they try to stop Tamaki from leaving Japan so that the host club would not be dissolved. What’s this? They’re going after Tamaki in a horse carriage while Tamaki and Eclair drives a sports car?
 
Unfortunately, The Ootori family has ordered the police staff to stop them from reaching Tamaki. So, Mori, Honey and Kyoya stayed back to handle those polices while Haruhi and the twins went after Tamaki. Unfortunately, during the ride, the carriage hit a bump and caused Hikaru to fall off and be injured. While Kaoru attends his wounds, looks like Haruhi has to go alone.
 
Haruhi managed to catch up with them, much to their surprise. Though Tamaki asked Haruhi to stop her dangerous doing, Haruhi told him that everyone in the host club doesn’t wants him to leave. Some emotionally charged talking before Haruhi extends her hand asking him to jump onto the carriage. Eclair manages to prevent Tamaki from doing so but the carriage Haruhi’s riding on veered off the bridge and plunges into the river below. Tamaki really wanted to save Haruhi. Eclair, upon seeing this, realized Tamaki’s true feelings and lets him go as Tamaki smiled and thanked her before he dives down into the river.
 
Tamaki manages to catch Haruhi’s hand in mid air as they both embraced before they both fell into the river. The rest of the host club members then arrived to help the 2. Eclair then just asked her driver to drive on, just thinking to herself that Tamaki’s an idiot for passing up the chance to see his mom. But I guess it’s no use having a man if his heart isn’t with you. Probably, Eclair that it’s the best for Tamaki and his host club members that he remains with them that way.
 
Back at the school at night where a dance party is being held, we see the host club members taking turns to have a dance with Haruhi. Even though Haruhi’s dressed as a lady but the theme for that dance was a Victorian themed one, thus concealing her real gender at the same time. Then back at the school office we see Tamaki and Kyoya’s dad having some chat together including how they’re praising their sons (though both families are enemies) and how Kyoya’s dad was impressed by his son’s intelligence in buying out their family’s medical equipment company before the Tonnerre family does. And in the end, both fathers agreed to be friends just like their sons. But they became loggerheads again when they said how they wanted to let Haruhi be their son’s future bride.
 
It seems that Haruhi is here to stay at the host club as we see her and the host club members welcoming the visitors (the viewers, that is) to come in and and play if they want to because everyone in the Ouran High School Host Club is sincerely waiting for them to come. Well, I suppose now Haruhi isn’t doing it for the money anymore, but more like she enjoys doing it all with her second family.
 
Overall, this is quite an excellent anime. With lots of funny and dramatical parts. It’s quite amazing how they put in all the wide variety of hillarious and zany characters and situations to come up with something this good. Yes, quite a good character development build-up. And even though I’m not a fan of bishounens, this series makes it an exception. Uh-huh, good looking guys who have a way with words to capture the hearts of girls. *Sighs*. How I wish I had that too.
 
And because of that, the anime is drawn ‘beautifully’ to cater for all those good looking rich guys and girls. Actually, it’s not that you’ll be blown away by the drawing and animation, it’s typical and appeasing to the eye if you’re one of those bishounen fans. The in-anime notes are shown as black rectangular sign boards with those fancy design as its borders, which I find amusing. Though, I can’t really read those kanji writing. Somehow it makes me feel that ‘rich’ atmosphere. Also lots of those roses surrounding the screen such as when those host club members get into their romantic talking drives or that handsome shine of aura when the female customers look at them. I also like the voice acting of the characters, which I find quite suitable and fitting to the character’s personality.
 
One thing I find about this series is the importance of family and friends. Like they say, no man is an island and people do change in time. And we see how Haruhi changes the other host club members and herself. Reminds you of Tohru Honda of Fruits Basket, isn’t it? But Haruhi isn’t as sweet as compared to Tohru and is more casual in the sense that she isn’t too fond nor take those idiotic antics of some of the host clubs members too seriously. But I like how the way the anime ended in a happy tone.
 
If I ever become a male host club member (like that will ever happen!) I wonder what ‘type’ should I be. Hmm… A-ha! How about the ‘boke’ type. Hey, you say Tamaki’s already one. But that’s just behind the scenes. Being naturally boke may seem to those girls as some guy so idiotic and silly that it may look harmlessly attractive and cute. KYAA!!! MOE! MOE! MOE!!!!!! Yeah, dream on. Just keep dreaming. Look at my face first. They’d probably vomit blood and already halfway to heaven.

Paradise Kiss

February 2, 2007

I felt that I was being ‘conned’ when I finished watching the anime Paradise Kiss. What do I mean? Initially, I didn’t intend to watch this series because somehow I wasn’t interested. Then I read some write-up about it and was a little curious. Yup, the way they wrote the review of the show was damn good so I had that perception that it must be so lah.
 
Unfortunately, just to summarize things, to me this series is boring and draggy at times. Sorry ParaKiss (the abbreviated name of the series) fans, but this was what I felt at the end. But I wouldn’t say that this anime is a bad anime nor is it not worth your time watching it. Personally, this kind of anime doesn’t appeal to me, thus I didn’t quite like it.
 
Plus, I would have given up watching the series half way if not for the short number of episodes. Yup, there are only 12 episodes in this half hour series. So I figured, hey since it’s so short and I’ve already got ‘1 foot in the grave’, might as well go all the way and finish it. And no, even though I said it’s boring, but I actually didn’t regret watching it.
 
I also read that this series was based on a manga (which anime wouldn’t these days) of the same name, which is quite popular. So much so that it is translated into several languages around the world like French, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish, just to name a few. In addition, the anime and manga is supposed to be a sequel of Gokinjo Monogatari and I heard that there’re some characters from there making its appearance here in the anime. But since I didn’t watch that anime (just heard of it and saw a picture of it, but it didn’t attract me either), I wouldn’t know.
 
I would say that this series would quite suit teenage girls. That’s because that’s what this anime mainly is, teenage girl drama with romance. There are some comedy elements in the series, but it’s not the main driving force as this anime focuses more on the drama between the characters. You’ll notice those comical moments when the drawing of the characters facial features become ‘simple’ and their face becomes somewhat ’round’. Be a little warned, though. There are some sexual scenes albeit not many. Don’t worry, it won’t go as far as a hentai, but you’ll pretty much guess that the characters are ‘doing it’ from the way things look.
 
I suppose that this is the first anime I’ve watched which I can safely say deals with the theme of fashion. And no, Samurai 7 does not count. You know, those fashion sense and stuffs which make fashion enthusiasts, worshippers, geeks and the likes go ‘ooohh… waahhh…’ over some overly outrageous design and odd looking fabrics, all in the name of style. And since I’m not into it (a shirt is still a shirt which is a shirt by any other name), everything here seems pretty normal or ‘unexciting’.
 
So the storyline is like this. We’ve got this typical high school going girl, Yukari Hayasaka, who’s also your typical parent-listening girl. She’s always under constant pressure from her mom, Tomoko, to study study. Typical mom. But who’s parents wouldn’t want their child to excel in their studies. Because of that, Yukari starts questioning her way of life. Yeah, I guess every teenager who goes through that stage starts to think that they’re supposed to have fun and going out with their friends instead of burning the midnight oil.
 
Well, all that is about to change for Yukari. One day while she was walking on the streets, some blond guy, Arashi Nagase, who looks like a punk because of all that piercing ornaments on his face, caught a glimpse of Yukari and noticed how ‘perfect’ she was and decides to ‘go after’ her. Of course, who wouldn’t get freaked out if some guy with multiple facial piercings and wearing a dog collar starts to call you. And it doesn’t help either with Arashi’s tough and rough attitude. What’s Yukari’s reaction? She tried to run away from him of course.
 
Just then, Yukari bumped into a lady (seems overly dressed if you compare her with the rest of the crowd) Isabella Yamamoto, whom Arashi asked her not to let ‘that lady’ escape or slip away. Isabella then ‘captures’ Yukari, whom to her surprise found out that she’s Arashi’s acquaintance. Soon Yukari passed out
 
Once Yukari has regained consciousness, she find herself in some studio called the atelier. Yup, Arashi and Isabella brought her here. There she finds herself surrounded by the 2 and a pink haired girl, Miwako Sakurada. The trio explained that they’re fashion design students from Yaza Art School and they want Yukari to be their model for an upcoming competition to win the Grand Prize. Well, I suppose Yukari does look a little different from your average Japanese teenager. Long slender black hair and tall, smooth and fair skin. Hmm… No wonder Arashi sees her as a potential model.
 
But of course Yukari isn’t too fond of it all at first, rejecting their offer. Why not. She’s got to deal with school work and all those stuffs so she couldn’t be bothered with becoming some model. So a few heated argument between Yukari and Arashi before the former furiously left. In her haste, Yukari left behind her student ID book.
 
By the way, Miwako seems to call Yukari, Caroline. I was wondering how did Yukari ended having that name at first. Was it her English name? Then after some thinking, I noticed that it was from the portion of her ‘-kari’ name, which led to ‘Carrie’ and then to a full fledged ‘Caroline’. Yup, even Yukari seems to accept that nickname as the series progresses.
 
Anyway, the student ID book eventually fell into the hands of those fashion students’ leader, Jouji Koizumi. Yup, the clam, cool, handsome, eccentric, suave and talented fashion designer. He decides to return that book to Yukari and probably could persuade her to change her mind. Meanwhile, Yukari realized that her student ID book is missing and is dreading the fact that the book contains a picture of a classmate that she has a crush on, Hiroyuki Tokumori.
 
Later that day Yukari is approached by Jouji. Though she tries to avoid him but in the end had to follow him if she wants her student ID book back. So during their ‘excursion’, they went to Yaza art school and met some students there who’re surprised to see Jouji with a girl, and then Yukari gets a haircut from one of the school’s teacher, Kisanagi.
 
Then back to the atelier where they let Yukari try on a dress made by one of the designers. So after hearing their side of the story and other stuffs, Yukari comes out, revealing her dazzling self in that dress, after which she apologizes to everyone for what she had said earlier on. Jouji returns her book and asked that if she would be willing to become their model.
 
So it begins as the team tries to design their fashion label called Paradise Kiss before the deadline. While Jouji the leader would be the main designer, Isabella would choose the fabric. There’re hints in the early episodes which indicate that Isabella’s a guy. Yup, she actually is a boy. A cross-dresser. Just like those women who feel that they’re wrongly being borned in a man’s body. There’s an episode (episode 10) to see how Daisuke "Isabella" Yamamoto felt how comfortable she (I’ll refer to Isabella as a ‘her’ throughout my blog) was to dress as a woman when he was young. Yeah, and Jouji’s there too, giving her some advice as Jouji’s the only one who doesn’t view her as strange.
 
Thus once the design and fabric has been chosen, Arashi and Miwako would sew them together. And Miwako’s actually Arashi’s girlfriend. And true to her looks and size, she acts quite childlike and is also quite sweet and caring. Miwako has an elder sister, Mikako Kouda, who’s a professional designer for a clothing label, Happy Berry.
 
So I can pretty sum up the rest of the story something like this. As Yukari gets deeper and knows more about the fashion world, she begins to understand fashion designers from their point of view. You see, people like me have this bias stereotypical and premature perception of fashion designers and people like them, that they are crazy, weird and have too much time on their hand to do things like this. Like the cantonese saying ‘Seik pao tak han mou yeh zhou‘. And the term they use ‘creativity’ means nonsense to us. Bad me.
 
At the same time, as Yukari gets involved in the teams’ work, she begins to fall for Jouji but you know, it’s not like that they hit it off perfectly. At first she was torn between Jouji and Tokumori but in the end decides that she loves Jouji more. Not that she’s dumping Tokumori. Hey, it’s only a secret crush. Not that Tokumori knows it. Though, Yukari and Jouji both acknowledged that there’s some chemistry between them, there’ll be some little lover’s quarrel here and there, some tension here and there, some relationship testing here and there. Typical teenage girl drama. At least unlike most Hollywood couples who break off at first attempt, these 2 at least tried to give their relationship a second try.
 
Uh-huh. Like I mentioned, some kissing scenes between those 2 here and there, a little ecchi ones too. And there’s that ‘big one’ somewhere in episode 6 where Miwako heard it from outside their door, all those moaning and… well, you know lah. She got embarrassed of it and quickly went away. Yeah, saying something like ‘hentai-play’. Hey, in some earlier episode, Miwako was caught in the act, ‘doing it’ with Arashi on the atelier’s pool table with all that loud music blasting in the background. And another one somewhere in episode 8, but this time back in Arashi’s room. But I guess, to Yukari, being with Jouji is like being in ‘Paradise’. I see you’ve ‘experienced’ it.
 
Plus, Tokumori, who’s noticing Yukari’s absence from class, seems to fall for her bit by bit. Just when the guy of her dreams starts to notice her, she decides to go for another one. Well, I guess, Tokumori’s too late, huh. Some blue haired guy has just swept Yukari off her feet and she’s not coming back or even looking back at you, pal. But Tokumori is quite understanding, no doubt in the end he has feelings for her, he understood the situation and I guess let Yukari be with the one she truly loves.
 
Also, Tokumori seems to be childhood friends with Arashi and Miwako a long time ago. Yup, looks like Tokumori was in love with Miwako that time but Arashi forbid her from seeing him. In addition, Miwako got ‘separated’ from Tokumori when she moved in with her elder sister, and they haven’t seen each other since. And this fateful meeting with Yukari seems to bring them all back together. In the end, those 3 manage to become close friends once again, spending time together.
 
What else is there. Hmmm… More drama between the characters, the uncertainty and obstacles they face, things like that. For instance, when Tomoko found out that Yukari’s being involved in modelling rather than her studies, she became furious and slapped her. Oh course, to Yukari it may seem unfair as she thought her mom would at least be happy to hear that she’s happy and enjoying what she has achieved so far. And because of that, their relation strained a little as Yukari ran away from home and decided to live at Jouji’s place.
 
However, Jouji’s not the kind to take advantage of the situation as he told her to go home as he doesn’t want to be responsible for Yukari’s exam failure or if her parents disowned her. Since Yukari has no where to go, I guess she’ll still be sleeping at Jouji’s place. But as they say, time does heal wounds. In the end the both Yukari and Tomoko manage to kiss and make up as the former decides to come home after feeling that Jouji seems to be more interested in having sex with her rather than prioritizing his life. I guess eventually all men are the same. And Tomoko would allow Yukari to become a model with just 1 condition, that is to pass her exams. But most probably I felt why Tomoko is proud of her daughter was because Yukari became famous and successful. Hehehe.
 
Also like how Yukari will meet other people in this line such as when Miwako brings Yukari for a job interview at Happy Berry. And even though she didn’t get that job, she was offered some job as a model for a Zipper magazine by Mikako. Or how Yukari decides to do more modelling but can’t seem to find even a part time job for it. Then Miwako decides to refer her to one of her friend’s modelling agency, Kozue Shimamoto. Also, it is here that Yukari meets Jouji’s mom, Yukino.
 
Yukino may seem too young to be Jouji’s mother. Yeah, some problem and affair back then with Jouji’s father, Nikaido, whom Yukino blames for runing her life, and the fact that she regrets giving birth to Jouji. Seems that Jouji doesn’t have a good relation with his mom and doesn’t like her. That’s because she’s always just sitting aroung complaining and doing nothing really significant to change her life. In a way, you could say Jouji became quite independant and mature thinking because of this kind of upbringing.
 
And I think Yukari’s really getting the feel of what it’s like of being a model. Or rather she’s got that ‘model syndrome’. What do I mean? Yeah, there’s one time where Yukari fainted while walking out of school. When she regains her consciousness in hospital she found out that she passed out was because due to lack of nutrient. She’s got quite a good body already, why is she skipping nutrients? Well, it’s not like she’s really want to become thinner than a stick, just that she’s so busy with her work and exams that she has hardly time to eat. But that’s still no excuse, though.
 
The deadline’s near and the team is rushing to complete the dress. Yup, Miwako and Isabella are using their class time to make the accessories for the dress, only to be found out by their teacher, Hamada, whom confiscates it shortly. Oh oh. What have they gotten into. After all that hard work and with so little time left, can anything be done to save the day? Well, I guess colouring those white roses into blue ones to match the dress would do the trick, huh.
 
The big day of the competition arrives (even Tokumori and Nikaido’s there). Yukari gets into the stunning blue dress and tells Jouji that he won’t regret for choosing her as their model and she can bring the audience to paradise. The crowd cheers as Yukari walks on the catwalk strutting her stuff as the audience watched in awe and amazement. Once Yukari comes back to the back stage, Jouji gives her a big hug.
 
But unfortunately, Jouji’s team got 2nd place overall, much to Yukari’s disappointment, who thinks that they should’ve won. Yeah, it was a close one, having losing out by just 5 points. No wonder Yukari’s quite sore. Anyway, the gang still celebrate for a job well done back at the atelier. So some talk of realization here and there like how Jouji thinks why he didn’t win was because of his lack of talent, that Yukari should stop complaining. Plus, because the competition is over, the team is ‘disbanded’.
 
However, it’s not really over yet as Jouji gets a call from his old friend, Kaori Aso. Yup, she’s a former student at Yaza Art School and she was the previous winner of the Grand Prize. Though she’s studying in London, she came back to watch Jouji in action for the competition. You’ll pretty much guess that Kaori too had some feelings for Jouji but she knows that he isn’t the kind who would make a woman happy and decides not to pursue him.
 
So Jouji left the atelier to meet her, with Yukari getting suspicious and a little jealous. Some talk here and there between Jouji and Kaori, not anything that I can remember of. But Kaori didn’t stay long. Soon after that chat, off she went. And to cut things short, after some few moments from the characters in the last episode to tie things up, some love tension between Jouji and Yukari.
 
Jouji decides to go to Paris to further his studies after graduation. Since he would be lonely there, he wants Yukari to come along with him. Unfortunately, Yukari’s got her own modeling job to and doesn’t want to ruin her career just like that (yup, though she flunked her final exams, but it seems her mom approved of her modelling job with that picture of Yukari in that blue dress displayed in her house). Jouji understood and agreed and they both parted ways. Soon, after the farewell party they throw for Jouji, he’s on a ship to Paris with Isabella tagging along. I guess that girl will always be beside Jouji no matter what.
 
In the meantime, Jouji left Yukari a key, which is Jouji’s entire wardrobe collection. Wow. It’s a realy huge collection as Yukari breaks down and cries. Is she happy to receive such a gift or sad that Jouji’s going away? While Tokumori managed to pursue his studies to become some doctor, Arashi and Miwako went to work in some fashion design company. If I can remember clearly, it may be Mikako’s Happy Berry. Fast forward 10 years later, Yukari’s a successful model and is going to get married when she received tickets to a play where Jouji designs the costumes for it. Though Yukari mentions that the play was going to be a comedy, somehow she’ll cry. Yeah, this last part few minutes was the only part throughout the entire series which moved my heart.
 
Overall, like I’ve said, I wasn’t attracted much by the storyline. I felt that it was draggy most of the time. But I guess rather than having outrageous and exagerrated violence or comedy, this one departs from those norms. And the ending isn’t your usual fairytale ending, though I would’ve like Jouji and Yukari to be together in the end (even though Jouji seemed cold at times to Yukari), but I suppose it’s one of those ‘life goes on’ and moving on when you have to. Yup, life doesn’t always turn out what you want to dream it to be.
 
The drawing seems to mix both 2-D animation and real sceneries with it, making the series of having that ‘3-D’ effect. At first the drawing may seem ‘unrefined’ but you’ll get used to this ‘uniqueness’. Then I find the scene changer a little weird. Though there’s one where a bunch of flowers goes right across the screem, which seems pretty okay, but the one with ugly looking stuffed animal dolls sent a little shiver down my spine. Yeah, I felt that I was watching some horror movie. And I think in the begining of the first episodes, there’re are some of these ‘ugly creatures’ popping up here and there among the surreal background, though I’m not really sure what it all means.
 
As for the music, unfortunately to me, there isn’t any memorable soundtrack to remember by. Maybe it’s not so important if it’s a drama genre. It’s the words of what the characters are gonna say, which may be the ‘music’. Okay, so I’m talking crap here. The opening theme, Lonely In Gorgeous, even though I didn’t quite like it, but it did manage to make me move my feet a little when the tune is being played.
 
But the ending theme took me by surprise a little when I first heard it. That’s because the ending theme, Do You Want To, is sung by that Scottish band, Franz Ferdinand! An anime series using a famous international band’s song for their ending credits? I could be so lucky… lucky lucky lucky…  And the ending credits show the characters in that chibi form with some psychedellic colours here and there.
 
So what have we learn from all this? Well, one thing’s for sure. Fashion designers and the likes are humans too. Just because they think and do things differently, doesn’t mean they’re weirdos or crazy. Though I still don’t really appreciate or am too fond of the fashion world. Hmmm… Maybe if I could design my own clothing label, I wonder how much my design would suck (I didn’t do good during art classes). But then again, maybe somebody from the fashion world would see the ‘potential’ in it and view it as a ‘treasure’. But then again, maybe. Just maybe. Nah, better not.