Natsuiro No Sunadokei

June 23, 2007

Imagine if you have a short glimpsed of the future and you have just witnessed that your loved one is gonna perish. What would you do? How would you avoid such a catastrophe and disaster that may befall on the person you love? Ah… Something to think about in this short anime series Natsuiro No Sunadokei.
 
The main protagonist of this series, Koutaro Makimura is overjoyed when the girl he has a crush on for some time, Kaho Serizawa, finally accepts his love. But that love isn’t gonna last long and is gonna be abruptly cut short when he accidentally took a time travelling trip into the near future to see the inevitable. Naturally, one would be really really worried about it, right?
 
This series is another one of those comedy, romance and drama OVAs with only 2 episodes lasting around 30 minutes each. Probably you would say, hey, there isn’t much to tell since there’s only 2 long episodes and you could finish it in 1 hour. But at least with some science fiction element in it, it makes you think a little, though you don’t really have to crack your head real hard to figure things out or understand it in detail. So let the time travelling tale begin…
 
Episode 1
The first episode starts off with a sandglass broken and a vision of a girl, Kaho, to be exact. What does that all mean? It means Koutaro’s daydreaming in his boxing match. Because of that, he gets punched and is out. It’s important to keep one’s mind clear at such times. Later, he’s walking with his friends home and Koutaro tells them that he plans to confess to Kaho tomorrow, which is the start of summer vacation, and asks Ai Senou to help deliver his love letter to her because he thinks Ai’s her childhood friend. At the same time, a girl in a trenchcoat is watching them from afar.
 
At home, Ai agrees to do it but in return Koutaro has to treat her at Paradise Cafe. Koutaro then spots somebody spying and approaches her. Though Koutaro grabs her, he accidentally grabs her chest! Of course any girl’s normal reaction would be to scream in horror and in addition, she took out a sandglass to smack right into him. With the sandglass broken, she runs away but Koutaro has slightly distorted visions after the attack and heads straight for home.
 
Next morning, Koutaro’s awaken by his mom’s voice and notices a different date on his handphone. He thinks summer vacation has just begun as he meets an old man outside his house who’s saying how sorry he is for him. Koutarou’s confused with his words. In school, Koutaro finds nobody in class and is greeted by his friend Takeshi who takes him to the gym. There, the principal announces kaho has died in an accident on 31st August. Koutarou’s in shock. Ai apologizes and cries while saying that it’s her fault. Koutarou then is being told by Tomo sensei that since they’re going out together, he may not want to accept the situation as it is. Koutarou’s still confused as he hasn’t confess to her yet. All of this seemed so sudden. And suddenly, Koutarou blacks out.
 
Koutarou wakes up and finds himself lying somewhere in the school compound. He notices the change in date again. He meets Kaho who’s standing there and thinks the previous incident’s just a dream. Kaho then returns his love letter and despises how he uses his friend to do it and is quite angry. As Kaho walks away Koutarou tries to chase her but bumps into Ai and Takeshi before passing out again.
 
This time Koutarou wakes up in the park and again he notices the change in date. Kaho soon arrives and apologizes for being late. It seems they’re on a date now. And since it’s like that, the 2 have some fun and the time of their lives. Later Kaho tells Koutarou of things he did yesterday in which Koutarou wasn’t even aware of. Back outside Kaho’s house, she tells him not to go closer anymoreas her father’s strict. Oh oh. Her dad’s there already. Kaho mentions it’s pass her curfew time and soon they both parted.
 
Back at Koutarou’s home, he’s thinking about the events that has happened when he fell asleep. When he wakes up, he’s back to the current time he’s supposed to be in and saw that trenchcoat lady who says how he broke the sandglass and that she’s having lots of trouble. Koutarou thinks he’s still dreaming and pinches her face. Shouldn’t he pinch his own face? Because of that she punches him. Soon Koutarou’s asking so many questions (so much that I don’t think that he’ll ask this much in school ;p), she telss him to shut up as she can’t answer so many questions at 1 time.
 
She introduces herself as Ligene, a time patroller from the future. What’s Koutarou’s first reaction? He’s laughing of course. Ligene gets mad but tells him that her job is to correct any irregularities in time and she’s here to correct Kaho’s future. Koutarou finds out that on 31st August at the time of 13:30, Kaho’s waiting at the train station for Koutarou. The train’s running late so she decides to take the bus. When she gets off, she got into a fatal accident. So Ligene’s here to make sure Kaho doesn’t get into contact with Koutarou and asks him to immediately break up with her. Of course Koutarou isn’t gonna listen to her and just to that. He wants a win-win situation and asks Ligene for another solution.
 
Ligene reveals why the train is late is because a girl named Mana Kawamura, is crossing the railroad. Ligene even shows Koutarou her pic and it seems she’s Koutarou’s junior in his school and is part of the swimming club. Mana’s supposed to participate in some competition but got injured and is wheel-chaired and it seems her wheel-chair got stuck while she’s crossing, thus holding up the train. Koutarou thinks that if Mana doesn’t get injured, she wouldn’t be wheel-chair ridden and the accident could be avoided. With that Ligene leaves and decides to leave things up to Koutarou since she blames him for breaking her tools.
 
The next day, Koutarou rushes to the school’s swimming pool. On the way there, he caught a glimpse of Kaho practicing her play lines. Kaho blushes when she saw him. Koutarou said to himself that he’ll vow to protect her. At the swimming pool, Koutarou meets Tomo and tells her everything. Tomo explains that sandglass he broke must’ve been some time travelling instrument and when he lost consciousness, his body starts jumping to different dates randomly and calls it ‘day drops’. I think Tomo’s a science fiction buff because there’re more sci-fi blabs from her which I don’t really remember nor understand. Something like if 1 gets others involve, he/she might cause chaos in the future, thus Tomo says only Koutarou can do something about it. Maybe it’s Tomo’s way of saying I don’t wanna get involve with whatever mess you’re in a also be held liable for it.
 
Mana is seen lying in the swimming pool and is soon ready to do her practice dive. She makes several rounds as Koutarou watches. Then Mana suddenly slips from the board. Koutarou rushes to her and asks her to rest but Mana ignores his advice and goes back diving again. But this time Mana slips and injures herself. Mana tells Koutarou how people have high expectations of her bla bla bla. You’ve heard it all before why people push themselves to be the best. She then pushed Koutarou into the pool but unfortunately, Koutarou can’t swim. Mana dives in to save him. So some talking here and there like how Mana says "I swim because I like water". Yeah, "I watch because I like anime". Hehehe. Some more words of encouragement and realization on what’s important. With that, Mana thanks him.
 
On the day of the competition, Mana gets to participate in it. Ligene then says that everything has gone well since her absence. Koutarou says now Kaho’s accident will be prevented. Ligene checks her tool but to her surprise, she says the accident will still happen. Oh oh. Did Koutarou forgot to do something? Anyway, that’s the last you’ll see of Mana. She won’t be even appearing in the next episode. Unless you count that opening sequence as one.
 
Episode 2
Well, everything seems going perfectly as we see Koutarou and Kaho dating. Having lunch together, watching a movie together. Ah, how lovely. At the end of their date, Koutarou realizes Kaho doesn’t have much time. So all’s not well it seems. The scene changes to Tomo being robbed and harrassed in the underground car park. Luckily, Tomo electricutes her assailant with her stun gun. Koutarou arrives a little too late. Tomo’s got the situation under control.
 
Back home, Ligene’s sitting on his bed and tells Koutarou that the accident will still happen. Koutarou’s in disbelief after doing all those stuffs to prevent the accident. Yeah, how is Tomo’s mugging gotta do with Kaho’s accident? But you know, it’s like a chain, one thing does lead to another. Ligene heads off to do more research.
 
Later, Ai is calling from outside asking Koutarou to take her to school for some club meeting. At school, Koutarou once again caught a glimpse of Kaho practicing her play lines. Ai saw them both together and she looked rather sad and leaves. Oh dear. Don’t tell me this girl too has a crush on Koutarou. Must be. So typical and predictable. Later Ai calls Koutarou to invite him to some festival with Takeshi. Koutarou’s asking to invite Kaho as well. Ai’s spacing out. Uh-huh. She likes that guy. Confirmed. But Kaho says she can’t go because her dad’s strict and won’t allow her to.
 
You know those raging hormones. It’s the time where teenagers rebel against their parents’ advice. It’s because at Kaho’s home, Koutarou sneaks in and ‘takes Kaho away’ to the festival. I guess this girl too wants to have some fun rather than getting all cooked up in her room. Ai lends Kaho her yukata as the gang heads for the festival and had their share of fun. Koutarou’s asking Kaho if she’ll go out with him if he invites her. Kaho gives her strict father answer again. But Koutarou says nevermind him because more importantly, "Do you want to be with me?". With that Kaho says yes. Koutarou gives her a handphone so that he could keep in touch with her. Some blushing moments here and there. Then this is the funny part. Kaho wants to call Koutarou by his first name (all along she’s being calling him Makimura). He agrees. When Kaho does, Koutarou’s asking her to say it again and again. Wah like so shock like that. They eventually embraced and kissed! Ai and Takeshi passing by and saw the two. You know what this means.
 
But it seems Koutarou’s relationship hasn’t got the green light from Kaho’s dad yet as we see him getting beaten up by the latter. Why he even destroys the handphone Koutarou gave to Kaho. Kaho could do nothing as she watch in horror from her window. Kaho’s dad warns him not to come near his daughter again. Even so, Koutarou asks him to let Kaho stay at home on 31st August but he just walked into the house ignoring him.
 
Ligene comes back into Koutarou’s room and spots him writing a letter to warn Kaho not to go anywhere that day. Well, Ligene thought it was a love letter at first. Girls will be girls. Ligene thinks Koutarou’s got a fever but he doesn’t care if Kaho dumps him, as long as he can see her smile. With that, Ligene gets all excited to help him out and starts suggesting to put some future happenings in the letter to increase its credibility. Uh-huh. Ligene’s like his English teacher, telling him his wrong usage of grammar here and there so much so Koutarou’s annoyed and mentions how he should’ve done it on his own in the first place. You should have.
 
Next morning, Koutarou saw Ai outside his house. He asks her for a favour to deliver his warning letter to Kaho. Though Ai is reluctant, but she agrees to help out. Because Koutarou’s up all night burning the midnight oil writing the letter, he goes back to bed. When he wakes up, it’s d-day, 31st August. Umm… Ligene’s sleeping next to him as well. And she thinks Koutarou may have done something on her. Yeah, Ligene’s really grumpy in her sleep. Anyway, thinking that Ai have already delivered the letter, Koutarou’s telling Ligene how everything’s gonna be okay. Ai then comes in and asks who Koutarou’s talking to and says is it Ligene. Koutarou’s shock and wants to know how she knows that. Ai apologizes and says she did a terrible thing, she didn’t deliver the letter. Oh no. But Ai’s crying won’t stop the accident from happening.
 
Ai tells Koutarou that she didn’t do it because she loves Koutarou and is envious of Kaho. See, what did I tell ‘ya earlier on. But now Ai realizes her mistake. I’m still wondering how Ai knew Ligene. Did Ligene tell her or what? That part is still a mystery. Koutarou rushes out to save Kaho. He’s really peddling his bicycle real fast. When he reaches the train station, he can’t find her there. Even at the city square, Kaho’s not in sight. Then Koutarou saw her across the road and yells her name. Kaho is happy to have spotted Koutarou and runs across the street. But a speeding car is heading her way. Hasn’t anybody told her to look left and right before crossing the street?
 
Maybe Koutarou shouldn’t have called out to her. Yeah, in a way, you could say that he’s responsible for the accident that’s gonna happen. Koutarou dashes towards Kaho. But it’s too late. That’s because Ai suddenly appears and pushes Kaho out of danger. And that speeding car just zoomed pass by. Hasn’t that driver stepped on the brakes once? Or even stop the car to see if he killed anybody? Noooo, he just continued his journey. Because of Ai’s heroic act, she and Kaho fell unconscious.
 
Once Ai comes to, Koutarou asks why is Ai and Takeshi here too. Takeshi says that Ai called him and explained things. Then Takeshi adds "If Ai’s gone, I’d be lonely". So now this guy’s got a crush on Ai. I should’ve seen this one coming too. Kaho regains her consciousness and asks what happened. She thought it’s all over but the 2 soon briefly embraced each other. A weeping Ai too hugs and apologizes to Kaho but Kaho says it’s alright. I suppose if you wanna hug somebody, better do it with somebody you really love as Koutarou and Kaho hugged each other a bit longer.
 
Back at school, Ligene shows Koutarou that the sandglass is fixed. Ligene is happy now that she can go home. Koutarou asks if that sandglass enables her to go to any time she wants and wants her to show him a little of the Koutarou-Kaho future. But after some ‘warning’ words and ‘that look’ from Ligene, Koutarou put a little thought into it and says he’ll pass it. Soon Ligene leaves through a portal and wishes him goodbye.
 
Then Koutarou gets a call from Kaho and tells her he’ll be right down with her soon. Kaho and her other friends are waiting down at the school gate. In the last scene, we see Kaho taking an early leave from her drama club rehearsal to meet with Koutarou. I guess love can’t wait. Luckily her club members are so understanding. Girls will be girls. As Koutarou’s waiting outside the school gate and reading Kaho’s SMS, a girl who look so much like Ligene comes up to him and asks him for directions to the train station. That girl leaves when Kaho arrives as she thanks him. Though Kaho asks who she was, Koutarou said just somebody asking for directions. Koutarou even felt like he’s seen her before but soon drops the subject as they both head off for lunch. What do you expect? Some jealousy? Kaho’s not that kind of girl.
 
At the end of time…
Well, what can I say. Everything seems okay to me. Though there are a few questions that boggles my mind at the end like has Kaho’s dad give Koutarou the seal of approval for dating his daughter? What was hat last part with that Ligene look-a-like meant? Does it mean Ligene has erased Koutarou’s memories of Ligene’s time with him? Or is it that there are several Ligenes in several time zones? Is Ai and Takeshi an item? Whatever it is, at least it all ends on a happy note.
 
So the drawing, art and animation seems pretty okay to me. Typical Japanese anime bishoujo drawing standards. By the way, I happen to notice that the voice actress for Kaho is Nana Mizuki, who also sang the opening song for the series, Drive Away Dream. Well, actually nothing to it, since Nana Mizuki also voiced several famous characters from well known animes (like Fate of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Sunao of Tsuyokiss, Shinobu of 2×2=Shinobuden, Tsugumi of Jigoku Shoujo, Oboro of Basilisk and Yui of Ichigo 100%), so I suppose doing some one off OVA is kinda a little ‘surprising’ for me. As for character development… What character development? Except for Koutarou and Kaho in the end, I’m even wondering what happend to Tomo. Maybe her character’s ‘unnecessary’ after that mugging incident, huh.
 
Just like a normal teenage love story with some sci-fi in it, you could say that the power of love transcends time and space. Wouldn’t anybody go to any great deal of length to save their loved ones? I know I would. If only in today’s world those people have a glimpsed of their undesirable future and would take action to mend it, probably it’ll be a lot better. Yeah, don’t tell me to prevent all that married life chaos, they’d break off and forget about the whole relationship. I think some things are better left unseen. It’s better to discover it ourselves. And learn from it.

Happy World

June 22, 2007

If this anime title sounds like if it’s intended for younger audiences, then you’re not quite right. Happy World may give one a misleading idea that this is all about the happy, joyful, cheerful, blissful and cloud nine impression. Yes, no doubt this series is of a comedy genre with some romance and a little fantasy stuff in it.
 
If you’re having one of those bad days whereby you’re having a streak of bad luck, don’t worry, it won’t last forever. Unless you’re that ‘suey’ of course. See, every cloud has a silver lining. It’s like Yin and Yang. Okay, so this series is about this guy Takeshi Oumura (looks a bit like Iwaki of Rizelmine) who has been experiencing bad luck for a long time. But soon, his misfortune is gonna change. Or is it…
 
Another one of those short OVAs with only 3 episodes worth approximately 30 minutes each and is adapted from the manga of the same name. Well you know me, I really like short funny OVAs because you don’t really have to do much following up after that so I decided to give this one a try. So let’s start off with the first episode.
 
Episode 1
This episode starts off with Takeshi watching his house burning down as all the firemen are rushing to douse the flames. Now the scene changes to a current one and Takeshi’s bad day continues. Firstly, he tripped. By doing so, he got dog poo on his hands. As he tries to wash it off the tap broke. If that’s not bad enough, Takeshi is soon chased by a ferocious dog. While running away, he bumps into a tree while the dog bumps into a post. Hehehe. Because of that, some electrical metal thingy falls on his head and Takeshi’s bleeding. Talk about having bad things happening to you one after another.
 
As Takeshi’s just lying there thinking if he’s gonna die or what, suddenly an angel named Elle pops out from the sky apologizing to Takeshi that she’s been 3 days late. I think what she meant was that she’s 3 days late to protect him from all this bad luck. Do you want a guardian angel who’s late to protect you? Unfortunately, Takeshi’s ‘going away’ but luckily Elle heals him immediately. With that Takeshi got up and walks away. Hmmm… Elle does sounds a little like Ajimu from Ajimu – Kaigan Monogatari. But upon checking out, nope, they’re both different voice actresses.
 
Why didn’t Takeshi thank that angel? Well, any normal person would think that he’s hallucinating from that bleeding. But it’s getting to Takeshi because as he’s walking, he noticed that angel is following around and wonders why nobody is noticing this. He even thinks he’s seeing things. As Elle explains that she’ll protect him from misfortunes, Takeshi is losing it and thinks this may all be an illusion. Elle further adds that his bad luck has been passed on from his own dad. Had enough of Elle’s ranting, Takeshi then scolds her but this made everyone around him think that he’s mad. Yup, it seems that only Takeshi can see Elle.
 
We see a short flashback how Takeshi’s father left him. Something about his dad telling him off that he’s always in the way. But Elle says he can wish away his misfortune by sending it to someone else. Takeshi immediately suggests his dad but Elle says that one can’t request the one who requested him. Takeshi then suggests Elle herself. Of course you can’t do that to an angel. So happen some macho guy passes by and Takeshi suggests for him but Elle requests for his name. Instead of getting his name, Takeshi gets bashed. Haih… Nobody’s gonna give a name to a total stranger.
 
Takeshi then comes up with an idea. He’s gonna throw a ball and whoever touches it first will get his bad luck. Elle agrees with it. After doing so, Takeshi says farewell to her and walks away. Later, Takeshi saw a little girl who’s curiosity is gonna make her touch the ball. To make things worse, a train is heading her way. Takeshi to his horror can’t bear to see the consequences and rushes down to save her. He manages to do so and says that he’ll take the misfortune and asks Elle to protect him. In a flash Elle uses her wing feathers and transport them out of harm’s way.
 
Elle then drops Takeshi somewhere else but she fell on him naked! Of course Takeshi’s in shock when he saw this. Elle says that in order to stay by his side, she has taken a human being form. Can’t she just be a guardian angel? Elle’s trying to get use to human things since she’s never done them before in angel form. I suppose walking is hard when she’s flying all the time. Takeshi proceeds to give her a piggy back ride back to his home and tells her that she’ll live with him from now on.
 
At home, Takeshi’s contemplating what to do with her while Elle takes a bath. Suddenly, Takeshi’s cousin Motoko (nicknamed Ero-nee by Takeshi, meaning erotic sister. You’ll find out why) comes home and hears a girl’s voice from the bathroom and gets excited to see ‘Takeshi’s girlfriend’. But Motoko got a little disappointed when she enters and saw Elle bathing with her clothes on. Later she thought it’s a custom to do so. An angel not familiar with human customs too?
 
When Motoko’s askig who she is and Elle’s gonna give her honest answer that she’s an angel, Takeshi intercepts by giving her a neck jab. This neck jab is the most comical thing and probably the ‘unique’ thing in this anime. When somebody says or does anything undesireable, that victim will be given a jab to stop whatever h/she is doing. I find it quite amusing and funny all the time. With that, Takeshi tries to pull a fast one and says that Elle is his sister. Then Motoko throws a book hitting Takeshi’s face and says that if he’s gonna joke, he’d better do a good one. Uh-huh. Like she doesn’t know his family members.
 
Motoko’s mom, Sanae comes in and it seems she knows about Elle. But Takeshi suspects it’s Elle’s doing from the way he’s reacting and looking at her. One thing about Sanae is that, don’t you think she’s too young to be a mom. I mean, she does look like a high school girl. And she doesn’t like to be called ‘oba-san’ (aunty) as Elle first calls her but Sanae insists on calling her just by her name. Though Sanae has that ever smiling face and has that gentle voice, whenever her eyebrows twitches, it means, you’d better not make her mad or else… Don’t worry, we’ll never see her other side. If she has one.
 
Later on, as Motoko and Elle takes a bath together, Motoko notices some scars on Elle’s back but was neck jabbed by Sanae as she tells her not to say a word. Then some speech from Elle with Takeshi about how angels aren’t easily accepted by society (uh-huh, being burned at the stakes like a witch!) that’s why she’s being grateful to Takeshi. Due to some unfortunate turn of events, Takeshi accidentally rips Elle’s clothes as a grateful Elle hugs him. Motoko then just came in and saw what’s happening and gets really excited and wants to join in too! But a double neck jab from Sanae prevents a disaster as Sanae drags Motoko away from the room.
 
Episode 2
This episode begins with Elle trying to learn and write hiragana. Also, Elle decides to go to school so that she can protect Takeshi but the latter asked her to do something to protect him when she’s not around him. Elle decides to give him a feather of hers. Well, since it’s a part of her, I guess it counts too.
 
While taking the train to school, Takeshi’s bad luck is resurfacing once again when a monkey steals the feather from his hands. While trying to get back the feather, Takeshi bumps into a fat woman, who’s the monkey’s owner, and gets stepped on. Now that’s heavy. At the same time, Elle felt some sort of pain in her. As Takeshi continues to chase the monkey in the train, he bangs the train door. Then a misunderstood situation when the girls nearby thinks he’s a pervert and is trying to take a peek underneath their skirts. Too bad, Takeshi gets another round of beating.
 
Elle concludes that Takeshi may be in trouble and goes off to save him on a big feather???!!! What the?! I thought she should be able to fly even though she’s in human form. Sanae seems to be watching from behind but since she’s still in sleepy mode, she doesn’t bother much. Must be dreaming. Meanwhile, Takeshi’s chase brings him to the next train coach when some guy picks up the monkey and says how cute his monkey is when that sapien peed on his hands. So he got pissed off and bashed Takeshi. This kid really has the endurance and strength to withstand all those punches. But as Takeshi manages to get out of that situation, he manages to corner the monkey.
 
We see some guy practicing his golf swings. Isn’t it perfect timing when the train passes, he hits the golf ball. So much so it hit Takeshi right in his head. Woah. Talk about timing. While Takeshi’s barely conscious, the monkey loses the feather due to the gust of wind from the broken window. With his last ounce of strenght, Takeshi jumps out of the window to grab the feather but it seems there’s a train approaching in the opposite direction. Luckily Elle arrives in time and saves him. Takeshi then argues with Elle saying how useless the feather is. Uh-huh, it really caused lots of trouble for him.
 
Once they arrive at school, Takeshi is greeted by his buddy, the hyped-up perverted kinda guy, Shishio Maruyama. In class, the teacher introduces a new transfer student. Why, it’s Elle! The teacher even tells the class that she’s Takeshi’s sister but of a different mom. After class, Takeshi confronts Elle and before you know it, he gets a neck jab from Sanae not to pick on his ‘sister’. Looks like Sanae’s in school to do Elle’s transfer paper work.
 
And it seems that Elle excels in every class and subject well. From music to English to history, impressing everyone. So much so she becomes popular among her classmates. They thought she’s teaching Takeshi things but Elle says it’s the other way round. Her friends didn’t believe her and laugh. Takeshi gets mad and takes out Elle’s hiragana book and shows it to them how could a person who can’t write hiragana well teach him things. Her friends don’t seem happy of what he’s doing because it’s like embarrassing Elle. With that, Takeshi takes Elle and leaves the classroom.
 
Later Takeshi feeling a little sorry for what he did earlier on, suggests Elle to go to the library and transcribe things there. At the library, Maruyama spots Elle, approaches her and tries to hit on her. Takeshi passes by when Maruyama accidentally took off Elle’s halo on her head and she suddenly turned naked! Takeshi quickly puts it back on and pretends nothing has happened. Maruyama actually saw the whole thing and wants to do it again. The 2 then ran away with Maruyama close on their tails. Elle explaining something about bending of light thingy which makes her look like she’s wearing clothes but in fact she isn’t. I see. Which means, nobody has ever touched her or has any contact with her or else they would’ve feel how skin-like her clothes are. So some near misses here and there as Maruyama tries to catch them.
 
The chase ends when they crashed into Motoko who’s walking outside. As Maruyama tries to take off the halo, he spots Motoko’s panties and gets a nose bleed. And after that, he wants to hit on Motoko. That pervert. At least he forgot about the halo. Motoko then does a little cheeky hentai thing to Elle while dusting the latter’s skirt by flipping her skirt up a little, catching Elle by surprise. No comment. Wait a minute. If Elle isn’t wearing any clothes, and Motoko flips her skirt like that, isn’t it contradicting to that light bending theory Elle mentioned earlier. Dunno.
 
Back home, Takeshi hears some ambiguous sound and lines of Motoko and Elle together in a room. That guy’s mind is going wild as he’s fantasizing the worst possible outcome of what her perverted sis is doing. As he barges in, he finds out that the 2 are actually studying with Motoko as her coach. So much for that. Motoko asks him if he’s ever heard of knocking before coming in.
 
Episode 3
At school, Takeshi has been elected as their class rep. Because Takeshi didn’t like it, he’s giving several continuous back jabs on Elle. Poor girl. Then a girl named Kusakabe seems to be missing from class and the teacher asks Elle and Takeshi to look for her. They found her climbing up the stairs slowly. Though Takeshi tries to carry her to be faster but Kusakabe yells not to touch her with his dirty hands and that she could walk up by herself.
 
At recess, Kusakabe’s being chided by her classmates for eating too slow. Even during P.E., Takeshi notices Kusakabe sitting out instead of joining in. After school, Kusakabe helps with the cleaning up. Next day in class, Takeshi and Elle finalizing the list of candidates for the school sports run when a classmate notices Kusakabe’s name on it and protests because she thinks Kusakabe is weak and may contribute to the class’s defeat. But Takeshi adamant to let her run in the race. Must be thinking of that father’s incident of his. So I suppose he wants to prove a point. Thus he makes a bet with her that if their class doesn’t win, he’ll shave his head bald. Kusakabe who’s eavesdropping, comes in and decides to join the training. With some people supporting her, she can’t back out now.
 
During the training, Kusakabe and Elle seems to be out of steam as Takeshi makes a deal with Maruyama for the latter to run faster when Kusakabe soon collapses and she awakens in the school’s infirmary. The nurse is telling her the run isn’t good for her body but Kusakabe says she doesn’t want to do it for the body, but pride. Elle goes back in time to see what happened to Kusakabe. It seems Kusakabe’s being bullied but a kind friend helped stood up for her. Soon those 2 became close friends. But later Kusakabe found out her sincerity’s all fake because she wants to look good in her records that’s why she’s doing all this good stuff in the first place. Soon, her pal transferred to another school. Elle travels further back in time and saw how Kusakabe’s grandma thinks this child’s cursed and wants to kill her but managed to be held back and restrained by Kusakabe’s parents.
 
Elle’s feeling confused when she saw her sister appearing a cat form. Some words of advice from her sis before she transformed into some hot futuristic angel mecha uniform. Yeah, more ‘advice’ on humans from her. Anyway, she asks Elle to stay away from the human world.
 
Back home, Elle wants to tell Takeshi something but Motoko interrupted and misinterprets the situation. She’s jumping the gun by thinking that Elle may be pregnant by Takeshi when Sanae lands her a back jab. After that settles down, Elle tells Takeshi the whole truth about Kusakabe. But that didn’t make Takeshi happy as he chases Elle out of his room because he believes that she shouldn’t have looked into people’s heart as she wished.
 
The next day, their training continues. Takeshi and Maruyama reconfirms each other’s promises. Race day arrives and Maruyama is the first person on their team to run. The race begins with Maruyama running real fast. Because of that, he collapses at the end and has to be taken away in a stretcher. Looks like this tactic is to buy the rest of the teammates some time. Takeshi’s team is doing well as they too buy some time for Kusakabe when her turn comes. So that’s why it’s okay for her to run slow.
 
Kusakabe’s the second last runner and is running real slow. Elle notices she’s running at a much faster pace compared to the training. But Kusakabe suddenly collapses in the middle of the race. The nurse runs to her to help but Takeshi told her that she’s still in the race. As Kusakabe struggles, she’s crawling her way while her competitors zoom pass her. Kusakabe collapses again. The nurse can’t wait any longer but Takeshi told her to wait for 5 minutes more before calling the ambulance. Elle wants to use her magic but is stopped by Takeshi after some words of realization.
 
It seems everybody is cheering on Kusakabe and notices a rainbow in the sky. Looks like Elle’s making it. Kusakabe then gathers enough strength to get up and slowly reaches the finishing line. So Kusakabe realizes some things in life as she manages to pass the baton to Takeshi before partially collapsing. As Takeshi dashes ahead, Kusakabe gives a ‘V’ sign and signals that she’s okay.
 
In the ending credits, we see Takeshi’s head shaved. Looks like their class lost. And if you’re wondering what the promise Takeshi and Maruyama made was, here it is. Takeshi giving Maruyama a bag of girl’s undies! Hey, where did he get those. Anyway Elle spots them and in their surprise they dropped the bag outside the window as it lands on Kusakabe’s head. Well, I supposed this whole thing’s a joke as they both give out a heartily laughter rather than freaking out in fear. Back at home, Motoko and Sanae are having a feel of Takeshi’s head when Takeshi gives several back jabs to Elle. Then the ultimate jab from Motoko and Sanae on Takeshi. Yeah, you could see steam coming out from their hands. But Elle just smiled. Isn’t it a happy world after all?
 
Happy Ending
Overall, I guess it’s a pretty decent anime. Everything from the drawing, art, animation and voice acting is okay. I guess it’s alright for a short anime. Though nothing much to shout about, there’s nothing to complain about either. I still like those jabbing moments. It’s the most funny part I find.
 
Another thing I liked to note is that the ending theme song Shiawase Hiyori, sung by Satomi Hanamura (who’s also the voice actress for Elle) sounds so much like a doo-wop. Yeah, it’s quite a catchy doo-wop tune and it makes you want to do a little shuffle and perhaps bring back nostalgic memories of The Platters. Okay, maybe not the latter, but it departs from you usual J-Pop or J-Rock music.
 
So remember if you’re having a tough time, there’s always hope and never give up. Try your best and with the support of family and friends, any obstacle can be overcome. Probably that’s the message of this series. At least we see that change in Takeshi’s character in the final episode. With a guardian angel by his side now, hopefully things will be a bliss from now on for him. Now, if only there were more of such happiness the real world.

Shaman King

June 16, 2007

Wargh!!! I can’t believe it’s already been over more than a year. Uh-huh, that’s how long it took for me to watch the entire 64 episodes of Shaman King. Okay, so I didn’t really catch all of them. Probably 95% of them. See, that’s one reason why I’m not in favour of watching series with many many episodes. That’s because by the time I reach the end, I would’ve nearly forgotten what has happened in the beginning. But luckily, for this one, it’s still manageable. I hope.
 
So how can I start off with this one. Let me see… Okay, I could easily classify this series is to be of the supernatural genre. Don’t worry, there’s nothing really spooky unless with just the mere thought of spirits really do spook you out. I’m not sure if I could classify this one as a sports genre because it’s tournament based but it’s not anything like the normal sports you see in this world.
 
That’s because every 500 years, a tournament called Shaman Fight will occur. So people all over the world would of course want to participate in it and win the title. Is the prize a zillion dollars or having the latest technology gizmos and gadgets? Nope. Whoever wins the tournament shall be called Shaman King and the Great Spirit (supposedly the ultimate God or whatever super power being here) and gets his/her whatever wish granted. Isn’t that better than a fixed prize? Yeah, anything. Probably you could wish to live forever, have eternal youth, conquer the universe, bla bla bla. You know humans’ desires are limitless and scary.
 
So what are the conditions of entering this tournament. Well, you have to be able to see dead people! Just kidding. Or not. Not to say you need to watch that Bruce Willis movie The Sixth Sense, but one needs to team up with a ghost or a spirit so that they can enter this supernatural tournament. Therefore a shaman is defined as a person who connects between his/her own living world and the realm of the dead/spirits.
 
Fortunately, the entire series doesn’t just focus on the tournaments alone. Of course there has to be some drama, some character developments, some adventure, and most importantly comedy. Yeah, I guess it’s timely and fitting for such a long series. Without it, I couldn’t think of myself sitting in front of the idiot box not letting go even the slightest laughter. But after 64 episodes, I kinda feel ‘numb’ already and all those elements seem pretty decent and okay to me.
 
Not only that, the way they end it all seems to make me feel dissatisfied. Sorry if I spoil you guys but hey, after such a long series I felt it could’ve ended a little better. Don’t worry it’s a good happy ending with most of the loose ends been taken care of. But yet, I’m still dissatisfied. Perhaps I need to enter the Shaman Fight, win it and change the outcome myself, huh? Yeah, fat chance. Like that will happen.
 
So back to the story, we have our main male protagonist, the easy going, laid back, carefree and optimistic Yoh Asakura. In a nutshell, he can see spirits too. So why is he entering the Shaman Fight? His friend and future fiancee Anna Kyouyama thinks he’s a perfect candidate to be one and even win the tournament because of his nature to ‘think outside the box’. I’m not really sure how Yoh ended up with Anna being his fiancee. I mean, if you notice, Anna’s the dominative, very possessive, selfish and gets-what-she-wants kinda girl even though she has that monotonous look and sound. You could say Yoh’s scared of her in a way (which married guy wouldn’t? ;P). A premonition as future husband and wife? But you’ll mostly laugh whenever Anna gets into her ‘fierce’ mode or replies back with her sharp wit and sarcastic tongue. Not so much what she does, but the reaction of others around her. Not only that, Yoh does all the housework from cooking to cleaning while Anna just shakes her leg and bums around (sorry Anna, don’t hate me). Queen control.
 
With Yoh as a candidate, Anna is his special trainer, as she herself is a spirit medium. She’s bloody confident that her beloved Yoh will become the next Shaman King and she doesn’t hesitate to tell it to other irritated listeners, friends or foes alike. That’s because she wants to live the easy life and with Yoh winning the tournament, she’ll be able to do so. I guess she’s honest and knows what she really wants.
 
Which main guy doesn’t have a best friend as a supporting character. Yoh’s best buddy and classmate, Manta Oyamada is so short you really wonder if he’s a freak of nature or if he really drinks enough milk. Yeah, I think he’s only knee length tall. I’m trying to hold back my laughter. Anyway, Manta’s always looking out for his friend and even worries for him even though it’s not really his concern. Even though Manta himself can see spirits he isn’t really a shaman. Perhaps you need the will to control one’s spirits too. Throughout the series, Manta carries some sort of a laptop, which I feel is like to supply some information and answers to the gang about certain questions out of convenience. And sometimes, the maiden in distress. Yeah, sometimes he gets kidnapped by foes so that they could use Manta to lure Yoh out to do their bidding. Poor guy. Hey, did you notice his head is proportionately bigger than his body?
 
For me, I would classify this entire series into 3 parts. The first part being the pre-Shaman Fight, the middle part being the journey and the final instalment of course, the Shaman Fight tournament itself. Feels like a blockbuster trilogy, huh? So the first part of course introduces things such as the characters, the terms and such. To cut things short, Yoh teams up with a powerful and legendary samurai known as Amidamaru. Of course, not everybody who teams up with a spirit will automatically enter the fight. One of the 10 Guardians of the Great Spirit, Silva (looks like and American Indian native. So does the other Guardians), decides to test to see if Yoh is up to mark and deserves to be one. I mean, if everybody can enter, it’ll be just plain mediocre, right?
 
We see Yoh’s a quick learner as not only he learn terms such as furyoku (the amount of energy that a shaman has which is used in battles), Spirit Possession technique (the shaman’s body merges with the spirit), Over Soul (by using furyoku, the physical appearance of the spirit when it’s combined with some other object to give the spirit a new form, power and such) and usually once a shaman’s furyoku runs out, that shaman loses, which is the usual gauge for every fight. Yoh seems to adapt fast in using various new found techniques. In short, Silva’s impressed by it all and passes Yoh with flying colours.
 
So each candidate is given some sort of a weird orange wrist thingy called Oracle Bell which supplies them the rules, information about the next fight and such. Along the way, Yoh is gonna meet various other characters and shaman wannabes. Directly or not, he fights them, wins them and his opponent usually becomes his friend. Typical. But I feel that this Yoh guy must be some sort of a natural leader as his friends will go wherever he goes eventually.
 
Going over some of the friends he’ll make. First up, some chinese girl Tao Jun with her spirit, Bai Long (a dead famous martial arts actor which reminds so much like Bruce Lee) for some reasons I can’t remember wants to kill Yoh. Guess who wins? But this sets up a match between Yoh and her arrogant short-tempered but overprotective-of-his-sister little brother, Tao Ren who has some chinese war general, Bason, as his spirit.
 
Then a street gang leader named Ryuunosuke Umemiya or Ryu for short. This guy dresses like Elvis and his front portion of his hair so long it makes you wonder if it’s really heavy. Yeah, he even has his motorbike helmet accustomed to fit his hair. Though he has his own gang (they all look weird like a bunch of motley crews) and only thinks about girls and having fun, all that slowly changes when Yoh saves his life. Ryu wasn’t a shaman previously, but he got possesed at some abandoned bowling alley by some lizard guy, Tokagero, a thief who hates Amidamaru and uses Ryu’s body to get revenge. In the end, after all that, Yoh and Amidamaru combo won and Ryu felt grateful. Because his crew knew he had already decided, they decided to part with him. And I’m still wondering where those blokes have gone to because at the end of the show we won’t see them anymore. Yup, that’s it for them. I thought they’re close to each other. Maybe they all wanted to start a new life.
 
Next is Horokeu Usui AKA Horohoro from Hokkaido. This guy and his little sister Pirika, wants to save some magical fairy like creatures’ habitat that’s why he’s entering the tournament. And just like Yoh’s case, Pirika seems to give her bro a very harsh training which may be too much to bear sometimes. But if you’re going to win the tournament, you’ll have to be at your best, right? Yoh and Horohoro seems to be making friends and getting along very well. That is, they receive a message that preliminary round has begun and Yoh’s first opponent is… Horohoro! And they both think it’s gonna be a piece of cake. Remember, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
 
Is their friendship on the line now that they’ve to fight each other? In short, Yoh won but hey, they’re still friends. Pirika is really freaking and deeply saddened that her bro lost. But never fear, in this preliminary round, you need to win 2 out of 3 fights. Phew. So Horohoro still has a chance.
 
Yoh’s next match is with some mad doctor zombie-like called Faust VIII. This guy’s really violent and would even pound his opponents even if they’re down or lost the match. Faust wants to revive his beloved Eliza who was murdered back then. During the fight, Faust ‘disects’ Manta open, freaking him out, but in Yoh’s rage, Yoh eventually lost the match. Now that’s surprising. Well, actually the match didn’t really end. While Faust is going in for the killing blow, the match is interrupted by Tao Ren who ‘saves’ Yoh because since he is his next opponent, Tao Ren wants him to be alive and that he is only allowed to kill Yoh. So then the match officials decided that the match is won by Faust.
 
But before the start of the next match, Yoh underwent some donno what special training at his grandpa Youmei’s place. Something about going through a dark cave whereby no sound or light exists. Of course Yoh suceeds lah. Also here we’re introduced to Tamao Tamamura, I think another spirit medium who lives with Youmei, a shy girl who also has a crush on Yoh but because of Anna, I think she dares not make a move and eventually acknowledges their love. She has 2 weird diaper-wearing spirits, which is a fox and a racoon, which somehow resembles that Ren and Stimpy characters. Throughout the series, these 2 didn’t play any major role and their minor role is only for comic relief.
 
So it’s a do or die battle for Yoh as he and Tao Ren pull off some cool moves and techniques (okay, maybe exaggerated is the right word) so much so that in the end, both lost their furyoku and it ended in a draw. With that, somehow because Yoh’s the hero of the show, the Great Spirits allowed Yoh and Tao Ren to advance to the next round. Uh-huh. By right it’s supposed to be 2 out of 3. So Yoh’s record is a win, a draw, and a loss. A unique record which allows him to go through.
 
Before the next story arc, Yoh along with Horohoro and Ryu decides to go to China and save Tao Ren from the clutches of his evil father Tao En. Uh-huh, this guy’s really huge and is like a monster. Something about having lots of furyoku. Why do they want to save him? Don’t remember, must that friendhip thing. We find out that Tao En’s the one responsible for brainwashing his son to hate all humans, the reason why Tao Ren detests them so much. And with Yoh’s contrasting personality it’s all confusing him or rather making Tao Ren realized things. So with words filled with encouragement and hope, they manage to beat the crap out of Tao En, in a way save Tao Ren and Tao Jun realizing all this is wrong and decides to withdraw herself from using violence ever again. Though Tao Ren isn’t too fond of it all nor does he acknowledges that he’s friends with Yoh, but I’m sure it’s all deep down there. You know, body language, male’s ego and pride.
 
The second arc of the series as mentioned is the journey of those successful shaman candidates to the a place called Patch Village, somewhere in USA. Before that we’re introduced to the main villain of the series Hao, who has a striking resemblance to Yoh. To cut things short, Hao is Yoh’s evil twin brother as the latter will find out later. Hao too has his own bunch of followers as he commands the Fire Spirit. Then there’s this X-Laws, a group of self-righteous people under the name of God, who’s existance is to get rid of Hao at any cost, thus the reason why they’re entering the tournament. So those non-participating-in-the-tournament characters like Manta and Anna stayed back at Japan as they wave goodbye to our heroes who’ll be leaving by plane to the land of milk and honey.
 
Most of the second part in this journey, sees how Yoh and co getting lost in America, wandering around here and there. Yeah, since there’s no map to that Patch Village, those people have to actually find the place on their own. So during their journey there, they will as usual meet other shaman candidates who’re lost as well, some making friends and with some learning a lesson or two. So a newcomer to part of the fab four’s team is Lyserg Diethel (first I thought I heard lizard), who hails from London and dresses like Sherlock Holmes. This kid has a real serious attitude problem. Because his parents were killed by Hao when he was young, ever since then he wants to become stronger so that he could beat Hao. Besides, he’s been mocked by Hao that he’s weak. So after witnessing Yoh and friends’ amazing power, he wants to join them but they didn’t want to. So decides to join by force and fights them and is always saying that ‘please let me join you guys’ or ‘I want to be stronger so that I can beat Hao’ line. So bloody irritating this jerk. Besides, the only thing I find cool about him is his weapon, a wrist thingy with long wires and a crystal at the tip of it, in which his spirit, Morphine, a pixie inhabits.
 
I guess after all that ranting and pestering (that’s what I felt lah), Lyserg is part of the group. And it seems Ryu has taken a liking for him. Does that guy have a fetish for pretty young boys? Then there’s that group of 5 ladies called The Lily 5. As far as I can see, they’re the weakest group and it makes me wonder how they got this far. Yeah, they’re here for comical purposes. With Sharona, Lily, Ellie, Sally and Millie (yeah, Yoh’s group wondering why only their leader Sharona’s name doesn’t end with a ~ly), at times they bump into Yoh’s group and thinks they know the way to Patch Village and in a way follows them in hopes that they’ll lead them to the place. The blind leading the blind. Oh yeah, and that youngest Lily 5 member, Millie, seems to have a crush on Lyserg too. What’s with these people. I guess attititude isn’t a problem if you’re looking that good. Well, yeah. Lyserg’s not thaaaaaat handsome. Just okay.
 
Besides that, some filler episodes, some flashbacks here and there. It’s all in the recipe for a long series. Speaking of which, at times when Hao bumps into Yoh’s group, Hao’s eagerly asking him to become stronger. Why? It seems that 500 years ago, the last Shaman Fight ended in an unwanted way. Yeah, Hao was there too back then. Hao wants to create a new world, a world free from those corrupted and filthy insects which are called humans and to do so he needs to power of the Great Spirit. So why didn’t he manage to do it the last time? The other family members of the Asakura lineage put some spell to stop him, but that’s just delaying the inevitable. So he reborn himself 500 years later to try again. Then there’s this crap part. When Yoh and Hao were born, Youmei and his son, Mikihisa (who’s also one of the 10 Guardians) didn’t know which one is the evil Hao so he decides to kill them both. But before he could do that baby Hao suddenly began to talk with all that destiny and you-can’t-beat-me crap and disappears with his baby version of the Fire Spirit. What the?! And ever since then, Mikihasa wears some bird mask to hide the scars which the Fire Spirit burnt his face. But sometimes I felt it was perhaps the embarrassment of being unable to stop the evil. Just kidding. So Hao claims that Yoh’s body is actually his and will take back his rightful power once Yoh becomes stronger.
 
Then there are a few of Hao followers who can’t wait to ‘test’ Yoh and with Hao’s permission, they went but during the fight, they’re being killed off by the X-Laws. The X-Laws knows of Yoh’s lineage and would forgive his sins if he joins them in their fight against Hao. But Yoh isn’t to amuse of the way X-Laws do things and rejects their offer. Lyserg saw how powerful they are (must be their robotic angel-like spirits) and soon decides to join them, much to the dismay of the group and even the Lily 5. Yeah, Lyserg’s hopping ship. As long as there’s some team stronger than him, he wants to join them, no doubt he admits Yoh’s kindness and his other good points which makes him strong. That’s why Lyserg chose to leave to become stronger. This guy really has serious attitude problem. But Yoh decides to let him go simply because it’s his decision. Well, you can’t force somebody to stay, can’t you? By the way, each time the X-Laws make an appearance or fights, you can hear those weird church-like male voices or those monastery voices going on in the background. I donno. I find it funny.
 
Because of Lyserg’s departure, a new guy comes to fill in his place, some comedian wannabe Chocolove McDaniel, with a jaguar, Mick as his spirit. His jokes are particularly lame and has no relation to whatsoever is going on, meaning nobody laughs at them, except for Pirika. Wonder if she really understands it. Even Chocolove himself is surprised. And he comes up with them at the wrong time. Plus, his jokes always irritates Tao Ren and the latter will stick his spear at him. But because he’s a good informationist, the gang allows him to join. Until they find out, he too doesn’t know where Patch Village is. Luckily Yoh and co are indirectly being shown the way through the eyes of the slain Seminoa Tribe 500 years ago at the last tournament by a Seminoa Tribe descendant, Lilirara. Uh-huh, those guys back then were killed by Hao when they refuse to join him. Hey, doesn’t Hao look like Silva back then. Yup, you’ll find out later in the series Silva is somewhat related to Hao. They say it’s really a small world. Well, at least they know where they’re heading.
 
Meanwhile back at Japan, Youmei’s trying to ask Anna to go bring some book called Chou Senji Ryakketsu (what a mouthful. Let’s called it CSR for simplicity) to Yoh so that Yoh can become more powerful. I think. Somethings going on, can’t really remember, Anna manage to control Hao’s 2 mosnters which guard the book and bring them under her control. Though Anna didn’t want to go at first but changed her mind when Youmei said Manta will bear all the expenses. Haih…
 
With that, Anna along with Manta and Tamao left for USA. Then donno how, it seems Anna manages to get Faust on her side. Um… Something about opening her own hot spring inn? Anyway it’s for her own ends. Yeah, this guy doesn’t seem to be that crazy mad fellow anymore but instead spends most of his time lovey-dovey with Eliza. Faust also seems not to harbour anymore ill feelings for Yoh. At the same time, Yoh’s team is facing one of Hao’s most loyal followers, Hanagumi, which consists of 3 witches. Is it a Halloween theme for them? Those 3 girls don’t look like your typical fat ugly American witches but your typical anime bishoujo. Hey, doesn’t one of them have a spirit which looked like Manta?
 
So Anna arrives in time and lets Yoh and his pals experience the CSR. I don’t know, it’s like going through some out-of-body and mind experience lecture in some other dimension. And I don’t really understand what’s going on. Once Yoh and co has finished, the came out looking more powerful. And their Over Souls are really huge! Yup, they’re powered up. After showing their powers to Hanagumi, the trio decides to retreat since they’re under orders from Hao not to kill Yoh. And it’s like a big reunion for our heroes. Though Yoh is happy to see Anna and the rest, I wonder is he really happy. Behind every successful man is a woman.
 
Then there’s one funny part I want to mention. There’s this confrontation between X-Laws and some Egyptian candidates who claim that they are the right ones to be Shaman King. What’s so weird about them? Well one of them has a pyramid as his head! So Marco (the second in command of the X-Laws) along with newly recruited Lyserg teach those Egyptian freaks a lesson before their leader Iron Maiden Jeanne unleashes her spirit, some scary looking baby, Shamash, and eliminates them. Yoh who’s watching of course doesn’t approve all this but he could only watch. I would also like to mention that this Jeanne girl keeps herself locked up in some Iron Maiden coffin (filled with thorns and vines) to increase her strength while in a near death-like state and only coming out when necessary. Yeah, something about her suffering will bring justice to the world. Like Jesus Christ, huh?
 
So when Yoh and gang finally finds Patch Village, it’s like a convenient thing because the other shamans too arrive. Even the hopeless Lily 5. See, how convenient it is. And it’s situated somewhere in the desert you know those American Indian natives where they build their village next to some huge rock within the outside cave walls and the buildings there are made out of clay. Uh-huh that. Can’t remember the name. And the place is like doing business there. I mean not only shamans are there, but normal human who come as audiences are there too. The must’ve given them a map or something because they didn’t take long to arrive. Plus with that, people there have to spend some money on food or souvenirs, which in a way is a money making event, don’t you think?
 
Thus, the first round is a group match whereby shamans are grouped into teams of 3 each in battles. Faust and Ryu sticks by Yoh in a team called Funbari Onsen (a name with compliments from Anna) while Horohoro and Chocolove reluctantly pairs up with Tao Ren who names his team after himself, Team Ren. So we see our main guys battling other shaman hopefuls over several episodes with each of them being given a little ‘focus’ like Ryu’s with some Middle East girl and her dominative brother, or some guy trying to preach something to Horohoro, and some family branch member of the Tao wants to eliminate Tao Ren. Then of course, to improve their power and such, Mikihisa gave those guys some weird training, that is by writing their wish on a grain of sand and then he throws it away in the middle of the desert and asks them to search for it. Now that’s gotta be worse than finding a needle in a haystack.
 
If you’re thinking how the Lily 5 survived up to now, that’s because those ladies haven’t had their 1st match yet. And they’re waiting patiently for the time to come where they see some action. They’re even thinking they might be seeded and would only come on in the last match! Fat chance. But be careful for what you wish for because no sooner than that, they’ve received their message for their first match and they’re all excited about it. Who are they facing? The Star Team. Who? It’s Hao’s team!!! Also, Hao’s first matches have begun and every team he faces, he kills them at the end. Yoh and co are very worried about them and pleads for them to pull out. But since they say they’ve gotten this far, they’re not gonna do so. So some flashbacks we see how they got dumped by society or the ones they love (Ellie’s one was amusing because she was dumped so fast by her boyfriend who says he doesn’t want a girlfriend who can sees ghosts and says goodbye. Wow. That’s so fast!). Yoh throws down a challenge to them saying that if they can beat him, then they can go on and face Hao. With lots of determination and will, the Lily 5 in a way you could say that they beat Yoh. But after hearing some advice from Anna, they decided to follow it and make history. That’s because before the match with Hao’s team begins, the Lily 5 withdraws! In a way, this saved their lives and made Hao a little disappointed because he has the intention to kill those weaklings. And since then, the Lily 5 will be supporting Yoh and co from behind.
 
But before the Shaman Fight could reach the next stage, the X-Laws decides to take into their own hands and dispose off Hao and his accomplices once and for all by using some portal called Gate Of Babylon. In the midst of it, not really sure how, but Manta seems to gain a spirit of his own called Mosuke, a hammer wielding guy who’s Amidamaru’s best friend and he inhabits Manta’s laptop. Really. Throughout the rest of the series, Manta doesn’t use him much or just when he really needs too. Back to the X-Laws. Lyserg has now discarded his Morphine for some X-Law spirit because he thinks his old Morphine abandoned him at the time he needed her most. But this guy’s just being plain selfish. So as Hao’s followers fight and killed some X-Laws members, Jeanne eventually manages to summoned up enough power from the X-Laws and opened up the Gate Of Babylon and sucks everyone there into it, including Yoh and friends. But before Shamash could close the gate, Fire Spirit’s hands grabbed it along into the gate as well. Then I’m not sure what’s going on, it’s like everybody’s walking in some undead like zone. Huh? Then donno how, the next time everybody awakens, they’re back to their normal world. But it seems the Gates Of Babylon has failed because Hao and buddies are still alive and Fire Spirit is devouring Shamash. Is this the end of the world?
 
Since the X-Laws took the initiative, Hao is thinking that he doesn’t need the Shaman Fight to become the ultimate being as he’s going straight to the Great Spirits and obtain its power directly. With that, Yoh and the rest has to chase Hao and put a stop to this. During their journey there, the remaining X-Laws tried to stop him but got killed off, leaving Marco and Lyserg left. Then I think Lyserg realized everything and got permission to leave the X-Laws and soon he’s reunited with Morphine. Looks like he’s gonna join the fight with Yoh as Marco and Jeanne left to do 1 more important thing that they could do. And I was wondering what was it, because it’s just praying! Well, I suppose that’s better than doing nothing.
 
Meanwhile Silva and his other Guardian pal, Karim faces off with 2 of the Guardians who seem to have defected to Hao’s side. Why did they do that? That’s because they felt it was so boring and with Hao, things would get interesting. What the?! Too much free time on their hands, huh? Anyway, they fight and though it wasn’t show, Silva and Karim beats them. What ever happens to those 2 traitors is still a mystery.
 
Somehow Yoh got separated from his buddies during the journey there. The place may seem very near but it’s a long path there. I suppose this is a chance for Hao’s followers to strut their stuff as they take on Yoh’s followers. Something like buying Hao some time as he makes his way to the Great Spirits. I need to mention that Hao has a variety of followers ranging from different sizes, physique and character. Yeah, multi-cultural and multi-creature too. Besides those 3 witches, he’s got some big bald chinese guy with sunglasses, some Egyptian guy with a face veil, some Mexican guy with a guitar in hand, an ex-X-Laws defect member, an American footballer guy, and a little weird hooded guy (whose spirits resemble Lego blocks!). Yeah, it seems I don’t remember their names. Then there’s this small African kid, Opacho who always seem to be by Hao’s side no matter what but does nothing much.
 
Fight fight fight with some big collisions between the Over Souls. Bang! Boom! Crash! Kapow! A lot of battles in the mid-air. Then, Tao Ren somehow got a direct hit and is in critical condition. Is he gonna die? Faust alone can’t save him so he suggest to his other friends to combine their furyoku to heal Tao Ren, which they did. This act of friendship merely disgusts Hao’s followers as would their selfishness disgust Yoh’s. With a revived Tao Ren, more words of determination and such, before our heroes disposes them off. It’s quite funny to see Hao’s followers drop down from the sky like flies when they lost and come crashing to the ground. Meanwhile, Yoh faces the Hanagumi witches again. Fight fight fight, Yoh defeats them and those 3 ladies I think are in shock to have lost to Yoh as they just sat there after the match while Yoh advances ahead.
 
Hao and Opacho finally reaches the spot of the Great Spirit with Manta following closely behind. Soon Yoh arrives and the start battling each other. To add a little suspense to the show (or make it slightly longer), Hao defeats Yoh and absorbs Yoh’s soul into his body! Yoh’s buddies and even Anna arrived just in time to witness this horrifying event. Since Yoh’s gone (temporarily), they’re not planning on giving up just like that, aren’t they? After all, they’ve followed Yoh for so long and learned his ways, it would be a waste just to give up now, right? So it’s 6 guys versus 1. Although they outnumbered Hao but this shows quality is better than quantity. Hao’s pretty powerful as he’s got some power of the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit really works in a funny way. Everyone, including the Guardians doesn’t know how it thinks so much so they just say it’s up to the Great Spirit’s wishes. Yeah, leave everything to it. Even Anna tries to have a hand in it and uses those monsters she controlled from CSR but Hao easily manages to wrest control back and turn it against her.
 
As everybody at the village watches from afar and worries if the Great Spirit has accepted Hao or not (I mean, they couldn’t see anything from there being so far, right?). They could do nothing but just hope for the best. Yoh’s buddies seem to have teamwork, cooperation, friendship and that never give up attitude as they take on Hao relentlessly, even though they’re being dealt with serious blows one after another. And I think out of convenience, after a lot of words of hope and determination, suddenly Yoh opened his eyes. Yes, Yoh’s back. Hao’s wondering how all this could happen (so am I). I guess Hao’s so frustrated that his scary looks scared Opacho away as that little kid says he’s not the Hao she once knew. But Hao isn’t too perturbed by it and continues fighting Yoh as Yoh’s buddies take a well deserved rest after their gruelling battle.
 
If you’ve seen many good vs evil kinda shows, you’ll know what happens in the end, right? Yup, Yoh wins and triumphs in the end. With that, the world is saved, at least for now. Until Hao reappears 500 years in the future or mankind themselves self-destructs, which ever comes first. I don’t know why, soon Patch Village disappears as our heroes awake in the desert. So we see the aftermath of the characters. Since the tournament has been suspended indefinitely by the will of the Great Spirit (who else), we see Yoh, Anna and Manta going back to school like as though none of this ever happened. Their lives back to normal. Also it seems Faust and Eliza is staying at Yoh’s house too. Then Horohoro and Pirika are trying to fix some machine to start work on maintaining those fairy’s habitat but they didn’t realize that the machine’s just out of fuel. Ryu takes on a long bike journey but eventually meets up with Horohoro and has some barbeque with him and his sis. See, his biker gang all donno go where. Chocolove is still trying to be a comedian. Good luck pal. Lyserg is back at his home studying. Amidamaru, Bason and Mosuke are having some sake under a tree at the cemetary. The Lily 5 opened a flower shop with Silva and Kalim opening a makeshift fortune telling side stall next to it. Jeanne and Marco continued their preaching. Tao Ren’s household seems to be having a nice time together.
 
Then Tao Jun sends Tao Ren to deliver something to Yoh’s household. Probably Tao Ren’s thinking too much why his sis asks him to send those stuffs by hand rather by mail, so much so Tao Ren unknowingly reached Yoh’s place already. Maybe Tao Jun thinks his little bro deep down wants to be with Yoh. When Yoh returns from home, he’s shocked to see Tao Ren sitting in the hallroom. What’s even more shocking for Yoh is to see Anna doing some cooking! Wow. Now that’s a scene. And whatever has happened to Hao and his followers? Even Manta narrates he doesn’t know what has happened to Hao nor where he is. I smell a loose open ending for a sequel if there is ever one. Perhaps Hao’s followers have turned over a new leaf. Just maybe.
 
Overall, after such a long spell (I must have said the word long too many times), the ending didn’t do any much satisfying justice. But I guess it’s pretty decent and okay. Then I did some reading up. And it seems that it is most unlikely there will be a sequel for the anime because the manga version has stopped its production since due to declining popularity. Yeah, just like the Great Spirits wish to postpone it indefinitely.
 
And because it’s a loooong series, I kinda notice that in certain episodes there’s a drop in quality in the animation and art. Sometimes it’s quite obvious. It’s like as though they’re doing a rush job. And of course there’re some repetitive (recycled, in other words) action scenes because since the certain moves they pull off are quite the same so why waste drawing it from a different angle.
 
The character developments are quite sufficient for this series. No doubt that there are many many characters major and minor but I guess it helps contribute to the storyline of the series. So much so, some I can’t even remember their names. Is it worth remembering them all? Luckily I still could remember the main ones. The character designs are pretty okay, not that they have to most fashionable outfits, and some are just plain weird. Could you imagine if everybody wore the same Nike shirt and pants? Not only you couldn’t tell them apart, it’ll be ‘irritating’ because everybody looks like a clone. Yeah, Anna is still the ‘cool’ one.
 
Both the opening theme songs, Over Soul and Nothern Lights are your typical fast paced exciting pop theme songs which gives you an idea what this anime is gonna be about. I donno, I kinda find the first ending theme song, Trust You, to be a little ‘sissy’. No doubt is a slow easy ballad, but hey, that’s what I feel. The second ending theme song, Omokage, another slow ballad, sounds much better. By the way, they’re all sung by Megumi Hayashibara, except for the last episode where the ending song Tamashii Kasanete is sung by Satou Yuko.
 
There are several trivias for you to spot in the anime. For instance there’s a spoof team of WWF wrestling characters somewhere in the Shaman Fight. And if you’re a wrestling fan, you’ll be able to spot them very easily. Even though the anime and manga has ended, if you can’t get enough of this series, there’s still the trading card game and even a video game of it. Then there’re those tv specials and shorts, which are just a recap and short side stories just for comical purposes just before the second round. Nothing much to it really.
 
So for those who still have their dreams unfulfilled, looks like you have to wait for the next Shaman Fight which comes around again in the next 500 years. If you can’t wait that long, then probably you could go join a reality tv series. Yeah, that’s the trend and in-thing these days. Just keep in mind Yoh’s quote, "Ghosts are people too!". Yeah, they were… once.

Shakugan No Shana

June 15, 2007

Being the third anime series to be shown on local tv in original Japanese audio with Malay subtitles, I thought to myself, what the heck, I should give Shakugan No Shana a try. But after watching the first episode, I had this feeling that I should stop watching the series because the first episode itself has lots of heavy terms and I’m at my usual, lost and blur. However, being the self-proclaimed anime geek and kiasu (meaning must see as much anime as I can), I decided to stick watching it for several more episodes and hopefully till the end (which I finally did. Yay!).
 
I guess it’s not that bad since there are only 24 episodes of supernatural action adventure and fantasy. But of course it’s not just that since most of the main characters are high school kids, there’s gonna be some drama and romance as well. It’s like all-in-one, huh? Well yeah. Maybe.
 
So as we see in the first episode our main guy, Yuji Sakai, who’s your typical normal ordinary high school kid who’s starting the new school term with his best buddy, Hayato Ike. Normal day normal life, nothing out of the extraordinary happening in the city of Misaki. And Yuji expects this normal life of his would go on for a long time. We also see a little romance blooming here. One of their classmates, Yukari Hirai seems to have a crush on Ike and her body language and way she says things indicates so. Yuji notices this and in a way wants to help her out.
 
After school on his way back while walking through the streets, he spots Yukari. Suddenly, out of the blue (red actually), the whole world freezes like as though time has stopped. Yuji is the only one who can move among the crowd of life like statues. What’s going on as he’s still confused over everything that’s happening so suddenly. Then a giant babydoll creature (no, not that sexy lingerine lah!) and a round cluster made up of several heads appear and seems to be sucking the lifeforms out of everything there. At this point, I thought it was gonna be a horror genre as those 2 creatures seem pretty scary to me. Which is also one of the reason why I felt I shouldn’t continue watching. But I shouldn’t just chicken out. While the creatures are in the midst of their feeding frenzy, a girl with flaming red eyes and hair, cloaked in a black cape (you’ll find her cape can keep anything big or small, long or short, just like Doraemon’s pocket) and wielding a sword attacks the menacing creatures. She also has those fire cinders falling off from her hair.
 
The creatures realized they’re dealing with a Flame Haze as she soon destroys them in no time. Yuji who’s still in shock and in the dark, comes up to her and seek some explanation. She says she’s Enpatsu Shakugan No Uchite, a Flame Haze who seek and destroys Tomogaras and Rinnes to keep the world’s balance in check. To make things worse, she tells Yuji that he’s dead, no longer alive and that he doesn’t exist anymore. Furthermore, Yuji’s split into half! Luckily she’s able to fix him back. This all seems to be shocking news for Yuji. In addition, he’s just a Torch and the real Yuji died some time ago along with the other people who were caught in that time stopping feeding frenzy. Yuji of course couldn’t accept all this. Not just yet. It’s too sudden. What happened to his normal life. Yeah, it’s turning out to be quite interesting now, huh.
 
Before I continue, I just want to mention a few terms so that I would remember what they mean as the series does mention them a lot. And it’s quite confusing and frustrating (for a blur case like me) to go "Huh? What does that mean?" everytime they mention it.
 
Power Of Existance (POE) = Erm… It is what it’s said… An entity which gives a human being or living thing to exist. Something like a soul, but it could be stolen.
Torch = A replacement entity for a human being which serves as a ‘shock absorber’ so that the world will not experience the sudden ‘shock’ of a person who suddenly disappears. Think of it as a temporary living replacement. You can see a blue flame within their body and after some time it will extinguish and that person will disappear from the world and everybody else won’t remember him/her as though he/she never existed in the first place. Huh? So what’s the difference of totally disappearing sooner or later?
Mystes = A special kind of Torch.
Hougo = Magical objects which can provide certain special abilities.
Flame Haze = The supposedly ‘good guys’ of the series whose duties are to maintain the world’s balance by hunting down Tomogaras and Rinnes.
Tomogara = The supposedly ‘bad guys’ and villains of the series who don’t care of the world’s balance and would use any means to ensure their own existance or whatever purposes.
Rinne = Servants of Tomogara who serve their master. They need to get POE from their masters or torches or else they too will disappear.
Lord Of The Crimson Realm = Powerful entities who monitor the POE and world balance and are like partners to (more like bouned to) Flame Haze in their quest to hunt down Tomogaras.
Fuzetsu = That time stopping event. Battles ensued here can cause damage to the objects in the real world but can be repaired if enough POE is supplied.
Unrestricted Methods = Spells used in battles and can be identified as round blue emblems with some strange writing on it.
Haridan = A projection of the real world through a crystal-like projector used to observe the appearance of Torches and Unrestricted Methods.
 
Now that’s a lot of terms, isn’t it? Since Yuji is unfazed by all this, he tries to befriend her and calls her Shana. Why? Because she says she has no real name and that her sword’s name is Nietono No Shana, thus Yuji decides to call her just that. And note that long Enpatsu title is just her title and nickname. Shana thinks Yuji’s just a normal Torch and will soon fade away but Yuji rebuffs her statement saying that he if he’s just a Torch, why does he still have memories and feelings of the old Yuji. Shana says since he’s the remainder of the old Yuji, of course he has his memories and feelings, but all that will soon disappear.
 
To Yuji’s horror, he finds Yukari has turned into a Torch as well. And once the Fuzetsu’s over, everybody continues with their daily lives as though none of this happened, whether that person’s a Torch or not. Yuji’s desparate to make Yukari remember but she seems so ‘dead’. But all his efforts are in vain when Yukari soon extinguishes and Shana took some of her existance. Shana and her talking pendant, Alastor, supposedly some powerful Lord Of The Crimson Realm, noticed that Yuji’s no ordinary Torch. Yup, Yuji’s a Mystes, has Hougo and has Reiji Maigo in him. Throughout the series, I don’t really know what or who is this Reiji Maigo but I think it must be something special. It seems Yuji can’t vanish like other Torches. At every stroke of midnight when his blue flame is gonna extinguish, it suddenly lights up again, restoring his POE. SO you could say he’s eternal. Thus, Shana and Alastor decides to stay close to Yuji and keep an eye on him. Since he’s a Mystes, they think Tomogaras may want to go after and posses whatever that super special power is inside of him.
 
The next day back at school, Yuji’s still pondering the events that happened and to his shock he finds Shana to be in place of Yukari! I guess she really does want to keep an eye on him. As for everybody else, they see Shana as Yukari in their eyes, but just as not to confuse myself, I’ll refer to her as Shana as always. Whenever Shana’s not in battle mode, her hair will remain black instead of flaming red. We also see an odd pair who’re Yuji’s classmates and aren’t too fond of him at first, Eita Tanaka and Keisaku Sato, who I notice seem to skip class most of the time. They don’t really get involve in other activities with their other classmates. Also Kazumi Yoshida a shy girl who has a secret crush on Yuji but doesn’t have the guts to tell him. And everyone else besides Yuji and Shana doesn’t know that Yuji is a Torch. I like the funny part whereby Shana’s attending all the classes and she’s telling off all the teachers about the kind of quality education they’re giving so much so they all ran out in frustration screaming and one even jumped out the window! Way to go girl.
 
I guess Shana’s pretty serious in keeping an eye on Yuji (or is it just plain ol’ love? You’ll start to notice this as the series progresses) so much so that she’s staying at Yuji’s house. Well, Yuji’s kind and gentle mom, Chigusa doesn’t really know Shana’s staying in his room nor their true relationship nature, she’s just glad with the way thing is. Furthermore, to protect himself from Tomogaras, Shana decides to give Yuji a little training. Plus, Yuji feels that he may be of help in future battles. And Chigusa seems be happy about it and asks Shana not to give Yuji any chance, much to Yuji’s surprise. Even if Chigusa doesn’t know what’s going on, she still manage to maintain her positive manner and at times provide some advice to Shana. Even Alastor acknowledges her wisdom later on, when Chigusa and Alastor (posing as Shana’s guardian) chat ‘over the phone’ about certain stuffs.
 
Also, Shana seems to like to eat that melon bread very much. You can see her facial expression everytime she lands a chomp. Oh that face full of satisfaction and enjoyment she gets from every morsel and crumb she puts in her mouth. And her favourite words happen to be "Urusai! Urusai! Urusai!" (Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!) and says it to Yuji whenever he’s asking too much questions or she herself is embarrassed and can’t answer back. So much so whenever she says that, it reminded me so much like Louise of Zero No Tsukaima. Speaking of which, Shana’s voice actress, Rie Kugimiya is the voice actress of Louise too! No wonder they sound so alike. Hey, doesn’t Shana look like Lousie too?
 
Anyway, at the same time, a Tomogara named Friagne and his little doll Rinne, Marianne (the one who sent those 2 scary creatures on a feeding frenzy back in episode 1) is planning something big on the city. I find it a little amusing to hear this guy going "Ahh…" in nearly every sentence and I wonder why he has a long white scarf floating around him. To cut things short, Friagne wants to give his beloved Marianne an existance of her own and is gathering all the Torches in Misaki. And he’s monitoring the city through his Haridan in some building.
 
Also making his appearance is Lamies, another Tomogara but unlike other Tomogaras, he isn’t that evil as he only collects POE from Torches whose blue flame is gonna fizzle out soon. Also a busty blond heavy booze drinking Flame Haze, Margery Daw, and her Lord Of Crismon Realm, Marcosius, which is a thick spell book. I like this Marcosius guy because of his voice acting. Sometimes making sarcastic remarks, teasing Margery (and often getting punched in the end) and the way he laughs is kinda amusing. Marcosius can also fly which is what Margery uses him for when she needs to get to places. Plus, though Shana and Margery are Flame Haze and are on the same side, but it seems they don’t like each other very much.
 
Shana has a short encounter with Friagne while Yuji’s at class. A short battle ensue which damaged the other human beings. Shana decides to use one of the existing classmate’s POE to repair but Yuji says to use his, which confirms the fact that his POE is eternal. Later on as Tanaka and Sato are skipping classes again, they got into some trouble with some gangsters but in a way were saved by Margery. In a way, you could say those 2 became her subordinates voluntarily as they’re grateful. Uh-huh, underlings you could say. Yeah, especially Tanaka who seems to show lots of admiration and respect for Margery and calls her ‘anee-san’ (big sister). Even though Margery has a short battle with Friagne, that guy isn’t interested in the fight and withdraws. At the same time, a seemingly date between Yuji and Yoshida (at least that’s what she thinks) at the muzeum, Yuji meets Lamies and they both talk about Friagne and his intentions. Yuji has to ‘abandon’ Yoshida to go to Shana.
 
To cut things short, Friagne is making his move on Misaki as he imposes a Fuzetsu. Margery gave her 2 underlings some sort of paper charm (which can work as a telephone as well) so that they could move around during a Fuzetsu. Shana faces off with Friagne at the rooftop when the latter abducts Yuji. Fight fight fight. In the end Shana wins as Friagne and Marianne vanishes. The city is saved. At first I thought Friagne would return later on but nope. It isn’t the case, he no longer exists after this. So much for that. Shana gives the ring that Friagne posses to Yuji as some sort of a protection, which will help save his life in future episodes.
 
But it isn’t really over yet, Margery is still after Lamies because he’s a Tomogara and Margery just like hunting down them down out of sheer fun (or rather hatred for them) of it. Before you know it Margery and Shana lock horns. It seems Margery can transform into some sort of a bear wolf to enhance her attacks. At first Shana lost. But a second rematch later on, not only made Shana the winner, but Shana gained a new ability… She now has fire wings and can even fly! So after some winner’s bragging from Shana to make Margery realize her role as a Flame Haze bla bla bla, in a way you could say those 2 don’t hate each other so much as they use too. Though, they maintain some distance between them. With Lamies continuing his journey to wherever that is, the building that Friagnes once occupied now has become some sort of a base for Tanaka and Sato to use the Haridan whenever they need to help Margery in her battles.
 
Okay, which anime doesn’t have a filler episode? For this one, it’s episode 9, whereby Yuji and his classmates go to the amusement pool park during a hot summer. Yes, swimsuits and… swimsuits. Yuji’s other classmate Matake Ogata invites everyone there this weekend. Tanaka and Sato declined the invitation as usual but in the end, ends up there because Margery’s going there too. These guys do really follow her to the ends of the Earth. So nothing much as they have their fun (some water kibasen contest), Shana looks horrible (in a funny way) in her swimsuit while Yoshida looks the opposite and is stunningly sexy but embarrassed by it. Though Shana and Margery met, but they didn’t kill each other as Margery tells her she’s just here to rest. But by the end of this episode, Yoshida notices something. She’s worried of the relationship between Yuji and Shana as she’s always seen them together, walking to school and going home. Oh oh. I smell a love triangle coming up.
 
While Shana ponder over the meaning of a kiss and though she says she won’t give Yuji one (I’ve said to myself countless time that this girl’s in love and don’t even realize it. Probably too much Tomogara hunting) and even asks Chigusa for advice on it, several new Tomogaras appear. A couple of young incest siblings who dressed in old fashioned Western culture clothes, Sorath and Tiriel, and some elderly guy named Sydonay. I find it disgusting when those 2 kids are kissing each other or even licking each other’s face at times! Ugh! Argh! In short Sorath wants Shana’s sword and his ever loyal sister would be glad to do anything that pleases him. Though the trio met Margery and her underlings on the streets, Margery didn’t really fight back even though Tanaka and Sato knew they were Tomogaras and wonders why she isn’t taking any action. I’m not sure, but we see several short flashback clips on Margery which amounts to nothing and from what Marcosius said, they kinda saved Margery from something. Not that I really can remember.
 
Before the big battle, we see some teenage love romance as Yoshida spots Yuji and Shana together one night at the bridge and her worse fears are confirmed that Yuji may have feelings for Shana. Why don’t you go ask him yourself? Even at school, Ike notices Yoshida’s strange body language behaviour of looooove and even tries to set her and Yuji up nicely. But eventually somehow that oblivious-to-the-word-love Shana seems to forbid whatever it is. Yuji’s another blur case. Don’t know what’s going on. And Yuji thinks Ike likes Yoshida. Nothing conclusive. But I think so lah. So much so, later Shana bumps into Yoshida who’s crying at the back of the school building and a war of words erupt between the 2. Yoshida confesses how she likes Yuji and is going to tell him she loves him. Shana of course forbids it. It’s so funny to see the 2 with Yoshida going "I’ll definitely tell him" and Shana going "Impossible. You can’t do that" back and forth back and forth. So cutely irritating. But I like it lah. Hehehe. And when Yoshida asks what is Yuji to Shana, Shana can’t answer back. Either she really don’t know or too embarrassed to say it. But their stand-off has to be postponed when a Fuzetsu occurs.
 
So off Shana goes to fight another round of Tomogaras. So it’s Nietono No Shana with Blutzauger, some thick sword belonging to Sorath. During the fight, Shana got into one of Tiriel’s trap when she destroyed some flower, which Shana believe is their source of power. Tiriel’s flower vines wrapped around Shana’s arms so much so she dropped her Nietono No Shana. Sorath happily picks it up and claims it as his. He’s gonna test the sword on her, cutting her clothes and the pendant in which Alastor is in. Meanwhile Syodnay’s suppose to be guarding something at the bridge while the siblings did their stuff when Margery shows up and the 2 sworn enemies battle each other. And it seems Sydonay can transform into some hideous looking chimera. Yuji comes in to help as he thinks the power source is up on the bridge but since it’s so high up, he fails to climb up but is caught by Sydonay. He notices Yuji as a Mystes and tries to dig into Yuji’s chest for it but Margery came just in time to interrupt. 
 
Then I think out of convenience, after Shana witnessed that disgusting sibling kissing, she gains enough power to break out from her vine chains and reclaim Alastor back before sending those 2 into oblivion. And even in the face of death, Sorath still wants Nietono No Shana. That obsessed, huh? And you could say that these 2 just like in Friagne’s case, won’t be returning anymore. Sydonay now realized what he’s up against as the tables are turned as he make his escape. The city is saved once again. Later as Shana thanks Yuji for his help and wants to give him a reward, Yuji thinks it’s a kiss (perasan!) but it’s just Shana’s favourite ol’ melon bread. You’re just a torch to her buddy. After the Fuzetsu’s over, Shana resumes their cute war of words with Yoshida. But it ended with the 2 walking away and both not giving up on Yuji. Ganbatte ne.
 
It’s flashback time in episodes 14-16 when Yuji asks Shana why she likes melon bread so much. This prompts her to reminisce the good ol’ days before she became a Flame Haze. We see her living in some large floating island, Tendokyuu and she’s under training with some skeleton guy called Shiro and there’s this Shana’s caretaker-cum-trainer Wilhelmina Carmel, a Flame Haze who dresses up like a maid and uses long ribbons as her weapon, buys melon bread for Shana as some reward. This flashback also tells how Shana got her sword. One day, Shana decides to play a prank on Shiro because she always loose out to him and when Shiro fell into that trap, it’s like due to the overwhelming embarrassment or something, his whatever aura caused Tendokyuu to become visible and is destabilizing the island. Thing is, Tomogaras are searching for this place for whatever reasons. So at that time some full faced and full suit biker Tomogara, Vine, and some invisible guy, Oregon, visible only because of his French royal outfit, found it and prepares to launch their attack. Then there’s this big Mystes samurai guy, Tenmoku Ikko, who’s only interested in finding the strongest one so that he could pass on his Nietono No Shana sword to him/her.
 
So while Wilhelmina took on Oregon (yeah, she powers up with some funny looking mask and just like Alastor’s case with Shana, Wilhelmina’s is Tiamat, in a headband form), Shana initially took on Vine but with the appearance of Tenmoku Ikko, she decides to go make a pact with Alastor. Some fighting here and there as Shana successfully does and now becomes a Flame Haze. Tenmoku Ikko swallows up that irritating Vine (like want to die but cannot die) once and for all and battles with Shana. Of course Shana proves to Tenmoku Ikko that she deservingly has the right to wield Nietono No Shana. We also see some past flashback of Wilhelmina when Shiro transformed himself into some gorgeous looking prince and beats the crap out of Oregon. Like a flasback in a flashback, Shiro’s a Tomogara and was known as Merihim. Though Wilhelmina loves him but he loves somebody else, to fulfill that promise of love, he vowed to train the next person to become Enpatsu Shakugan No Uchite, which is Shana. Is it confusing. It was for me.
 
Soon the floating island is gonna crumble and crashes into the sea below. I’m surprised at that impact, no tsunami occured and flooded the city below. Shana and Wilhelmina manage to land safely on the beach below as Wilhelmina says her goodbye to Shana. Though Shana’s reluctant, Wilhelmina says Alastor’s with her. With that, Wilhelmina pack her bags and gave some melon bread to Shana before leaving on some journey. What happened to Shiro? Dunno. Maybe he died. Back to present time, Yuji’s still wondering about the melon bread fascination but Shana says she won’t tell him as she runs off happily and Yuji giving chase from behind.
 
Sydonay is relaying his report to Bel Peol (she has 3 eyes. Scary) and a little girl who’s always seen praying, Hecate (Mamiko Noto fans alert. She’s the voice actress for this little girl too) at Bal Masque after what he has witness during that event with Yuji. Back down at Misaki the city folks are preparing for an upcoming festival while Yoshida plans to ask Yuji out for that festival. She manages to sum up her courage and successfully manages to do so. Finally. Later as Yoshida’s walking in the streets, she bumps into an orange hooded boy with a round glass in hand and carries a large pole behind his back. He introduces himself as Khamsin, another Flame Haze with Behemoth (what a name for something small) as a bracelet. I’m not really sure why, but he proceeds to tell Yoshida about Tomogaras and Torches. And that Yoshida girl believed him because he showed her through his round glass which is able to see the blue flames of a Torch and detect whether a person is one or not. Yoshida fears that Yuji may be one too. So Khamsin gives Yoshida that round glass of his. So it’s like this. Yoshida’s scared of knowing whether Yuji’s a flame or not and her indecisiveness is quite irritating. Uh-huh, it affects her sleep pattern as well. She’s up all night thinking about it. Want to know or don’t want?
 
Margery menawhile meets up with Yuji and Shana and tells them the return of Bal Masque and the appearance of Khamsin. Because of that, Shana and Alastor urges Yuji to leave Misaki. Then we see Wilhelmina trekking aimlessly in the desert decides to head back after detecting the return of Bal Masque. Like out of convenience. The night for the festival comes. I must say Shana doesn’t look that all cute in her yukata. Honest. As for Margery in her yukata, her oversized boobs are causing people to make their heads turn. Yeah, it’s sticking out like a sore thumb. Yoshida’s true fears came true when she finally saw what Yuji’s really made off at the festival. She’s in disbelief and shock over her new found knowledge as she drops the round glass and runs away crying. Yuji notices this and wants to go after her but Shana appeared and told him not to. Because of that, Yuji gets angry and decides to go after Yoshida anyway. This causes a great deal of pain in her heart to Shana, though she still doesn’t know it’s the pangs of love or being rejected. While Shana too is crying and running off somewhere, she bumps into Khamsin who then tells her of the current situation. It seems Khamsin needs Yoshida to adjust and fine tune something.
 
I wouldn’t have guessed it because at the festival, Tanaka and Sato got separated as Tanaka bumps into Ogata. I didn’t expect Ogata to blurt out her confession that she likes Tanaka! Uhh… Well, this is really partly turning out to be a teenager love romance. Soon several Unrestricted Methods appear in the sky. The Flame Hazes know it’s a Tomogara’s doing but can’t sense its presence. We see some made doctor scientist, Dantalion (a little bit more and he could be Father Abel of Trinity Blood’s twin), who’s obsessed with conducting whatever experiments, and his assistant, some chubby robot, Domino, activating some controls of some machine. I find this Dantalion guy to be quite comical. Margery casts a Fuzetsu, in a way saves Tanaka because he doesn’t have to give an answer to Ogata as he apologizes and rushes off. The birds which are set up for the festival as decorations now seems to have a life of their own and begins attacking. Our heroes go into action as for the first time, Yuji and Sato meet in times like this and gets to know of each other’s side of the story like how Sato and Tanaka’s are under Margery and that Yuji’s a Mystes. Yoshida who’s away from the Fuzetsu is seen crying on the bench when a bird attacks her but finds out that she is being saved by Shana.
 
Shana spill the beans about herself and Yuji. Then Margery and Yuji meets up with Khamsin and Yuji’s pretty mad that he dragged innocent Yoshida into all this. Shana and Yoshida eavesdropped on their conversation as they appeared out from the bush. Though Yoshida doesn’t seem to mind it all, Khamsin mentions it’s time to start fine tuning as he takes out his pole and starts to pound it to the ground but when Yoshida tries to begin, the process fails because of some barrier. Shana and Margery thought that the Tomogara may be operating from somewhere else since they can’t detect its presence and soon, Dantalion enthusiastically appears in a blimp and transform his blimp and merges Domino to form some lame robot. Yeah, even Margery thinks it’s pretty lame too. Like it’s all a joke. But when Margery and Shana heard that Khamsin is gonna take out the airship with his stone golem, they quickly get out of the way. Yeah, Khamsin’s pretty accurate in his shots and you don’t want to be in the way when he shoots. Dantelion and Domino ejects and make their escape as their blimp crashes.
 
After all that, Yoshida had a heart to heart talk with Yuji and mentions that even though he’s already dead, Yuji’s still warm and kind before confessing she likes him. The next morning, as everyone gathers, Khamsin continues his fine tuning process using Yoshida. It seems the reason why Khamsin decides to use Yoshida because of her beautiful perception of the city. With that, Khamsin is able to restore the city and correct any distortion. I thought this Khamsin guy would help out in the remaining battles with our Flame Haze heroines. But nope. His part ends here and that’s the last you’ll see of him. Okay, maybe not the last but he doesn’t do anything more than that. So I suppose his appearance in the opening and ending credits is just ‘for show’, huh? Because Shana saw how close Yuji and Yoshida were, Shana herself begins to cry and ran away. But while doing so, she bumps into someone familiar. Why, it’s Wilhelmina and she’s back! I think that’s partly why they show the flashback.
 
While Shana’s surprised and happy with Wilhelmina’s return, it seems Wilhelmina isn’t too amused of how all this turned out, especially now that Shana’s being called Shana and taken that Yukari role. So Wilhelmina’s like observing things, notices things (like the Shana-Yoshida stare off) and Chigusa seems to be quite receptive of Wilhelmina as Shana’s caretaker and all that. Meanwhile, Margery and decides to leave Misaki without saying goodbye to Tanaka and Sato. I’m not sure what her rationale is for doing that but her departure really saddened those 2 blokes. Yeah, it’s like the end of the world for them. And before that, she left Blutzauger in the garden for them to pick up. It’s like the Sword In The Stone whereby Tanaka and Sato assumes that if they manage to lift and carry it, they think Margery would allow them to do things with her (not ‘that thing’ lah!) and follow her wherever she goes. Though they couldn’t, it didn’t stop them from trying.
 
While Shana’s taking a bath and pondering over things, Wilhelmina tells her that Yuji indeed has Reiji Maigo in him and there’s only 1 way to stop Bal Masque from obtaining him and avoid some big collapse of the world’s balance, that is, to kill Yuji! Oh the horror! And later that night, Wilhelmina saw Yuji talking a walk by himself, casts a Fuzetsu, and strangles him with her ribbons. Furthermore, she mentions to him that Shana has agreed to this, shocking Yuji, who thinks that this can’t be happening. Luckily Shana manages to arrive and stop her. Looks like Shana’s having a conflict of interest as a Flame Haze or as Shana who’s-in-love-with-Yuji-but-don’t-know-she’s-in-one. Though Shana and Alastor manage to convince Wilhelmina not to kill Yuji, Wilhelmina says she’s merely postponing her plans. Later, Yuji decides to leave Misaki so that he could protect the city he loves and not get everyone else involve. So later, Yuji along with Yoshida, Tanaka and Sato met up and have some small talk like how those 2 guys love the city too and will protect it and will help Yuji in doing so though Margery is gone now. Looks like they’re close friends now.
 
But the next day as the gang watches some workers burning off those birds used during the festival, the bonfire activated some spell and a Fuzetsu. It seems Yoshida now too can move during a Fuzetsu because previously Khamsin gave her some charm. Suddenly a huge floating island, Seireiden (the headquarters of the Bal Masque) appears. Bel Peol comes down and tells Shana and Wilhelmina that she’s planning of making this city into a giant pond of existance. Wilhelmina, knowing that Bel Peol may have come for Yuji, started to attack Yuji to get rid of him but unfortunately, her ribbons pierced through Shana’s stomach as the latter intercepts. Everyone could only watch in horror. Shana’s bleeding profusely as she collapsed in the arms of Wilhelmina. At the same time, Sydonay dives down and abducts Yuji back to Seireiden.
 
I suppose the gang can’t go and give chase to Yuji straight away because Wilhelmina’s nursing Shana’s injuries and luckily Shana manages to heal. As the city is still under Fuzetsu, we see Yuji embeded in some machine as Hecate tries to synchronize with the Reiji Maigo inside Yuji. It’s like Yuji and Hecate floating in some space. To cut things short, Hecate wants memories and feelings and it seems Yuji’s got all the right one that she wants and she’s happy that all his memories and emotions are flowing through her. And with Dantalion’s machine, it’ll suck Yuji’s eternal POE (since it replenishes itself) and this will cause the POE to overflow and into Misaki below. It’s just like a giant fountain with the POE sprouting out from the top of Seireiden. With that Shana and Wilhelmina realized what’s gonna happen to the world balance if this continues.
 
Meanwhile, Tanaka and Sato who still finds the Blutzauger too heavy to lift, eventually manages to lift and carry it onto some carriage and brings it to Shana and tells her though they can’t find, they want her to bring Yuji back as they rush off to the Haridan building. Likewise, Yoshida too tells Shana the same thing, to bring back Yuji if she loves him and of course Shana herself. Soon Shana and Wilhelmina flew up to Seireiden. And just like out of convenience, Margery comes back to Misaki because Bal Masque has appeared. At the same time, while memories and feelings of Yuji flow through Hecate, Yuji remembers something he forgot – Shana. It seems Yuji now thinks that Shana has been trying to do things as Shana herself all along and not as a Flame Haze as Yuji has always viewed her as the latter. Yeah, right back at ‘cha. Earlier on in the series, he himself told Shana not to look at him as a Torch, but as Yuji. How ironic.
 
Because of the arrival of the Flame Hazes, Dantalion set loose several Domino robots (what’s with that number 27 1/5 on their body mean?) to stall them. And some machine of Dantalion is sucking the POE from the 2, making this a handicap match. Luckily, Margery blasts the device at the which causes the power sucking thing. All thanks to Tanaka and Sato who are really really really glad that Margery’s back when they first heard her voice. With the use of the Haridan, they manage to tell Margery the pin point exact location of it. With that, Bel Peol and Sydonay decides to greet the Flame Hazes so as not to interrupt Hecate and her synchronization. So Sydonay took on Margery in the battle of the beasts in the sky while Bel Peol fought with Wilhelmina. This leaves Shana to go save Yuji. Finally we hear Shana saying to herself how she likes Yuji. Looks like she’s finally recognized her feelings for him.
 
Shana arrives in the chamber where Hecate and Yuji is but is having a tough time trying to break through a solid barrier Hecate created. Meanwhile, after hearing from Hecate, Yuji eventually tells her that she’s empty from the beginning no matter what and that those feelings and memories belong to Yuji and even questions her own existance. Probably with that and Shana’s determination which allowed the latter to break through the barrier. Shana then pulls out the blutzauger from her cape and stucks it into the machine to free Yuji. Hecate is in shock and disbelief over Yuji’s empty comments on her as she screams uncontrollably and her own POE is spewing out. Sydonay notices his beloved Hecate is in trouble and abandons the match with Margery as he rushes for her. Though Bel Peol is to be seemingly winning the match as Wilhelmina is being beaten badly, Wilhelmina’s determination keeps Bel Peol from going away. At the same time, the POE which has overflowed into Misaki is starting to crumble buildings below. Tanaka, Sato and Yoshida are hanging on for their dear life but they have confidence that their friends will come back.
 
Because things have become more unstable, Shana and Alastor realize that there’s only 1 way to stop it, that is, Alastor uses some super all consuming POE. But whatever that is, Shana has to sacrifice her life. Shana tells Yuji that she saved him as Shana but now has to save the world as Flame Haze and already knew of this. But Yuji decides to go through it with Shana as he hold her hands and with a whisper of some magic word, the whole place is engulfed in flames. Shana then confesses her feelings to Yuji. But this time our Tomogaras didn’t really die because Dantalion and Domino ejected and vanish in some escape pod while Sydonay who managed to retrieve a shaky Hecate and even consoling her that Hecate is Hecate herself before disappearing somewhere else. Bel Peol too does the same shortly. Wilhelmina saw what Shana’s gonna do but dropped to her knees because she can’t do anything to stop her. Luckily Margery’s there as she picks her up to safety. The flame and some physical being (I read it’s supposed to be Alastor’s true form) soon engulfs the entire Seireiden in flames followed by a bright flash of light.
 
But to prevent a tragic end for our heroine, Shana opened her eyes when Yuji calls her name on some rooftop and it’s a clear blue sky for the city of Misaki. Thing is, Shana’s naked with only a white cloth drapped around her! I could understand that maybe her clothes were burnt during that incident but why is Yuji still clothed? Perhaps the producers want to be in some ecchi element, huh? Even while Shana’s taking on Hecate’s barrier, you could see a little slip from Shana. Anyway, I didn’t really understand how they survive but I read, it was Friagne’s ring which protected Yuji and some container of Shana’s which is big enough to fit and protect her. I see. Shana soon realized she’s naked and is embarrassed when Wilhelmina comes in and hugs her. Glad to have her back.
 
As the end credits roll we see Margery deciding to stay on in Misaki to watch things over for a little longer, much to Tanaka and Sato’s delight. And looks like Shana’s keen on going to school with Yuji too as Chigusa and Wilhelmina waves goodbye to them. I think Wilhelmina has become less strict on Shana after almost losing her. We also see Khamsin standing on some cliff but that’s about it. Nothing much. Also Lamies is taking his usual stroll in Misaki. At school, Ogata greets Tanaka as they blush. And Ike tells Yuji that he’s gonna make his move this second term (wink wink). With that, Yoshida thanks Shana and says she’ll not lose to her for round 2. Hehe. Though the battle with Tomogaras is over for now, it’s the battle for looooove. Shana too says she won’t lose. It’s gonna be a ‘friendly fight’.
 
Overall, I suppose it’s kinda okay for this anime. Nothing really that bad but at the same time nothing really that unique. Except the fact that on occassions have a headache of trying to remember the terms, which I manage to do so by the end of the series. At least I’ve got the general idea what it’s all about.
 
Another thing I’d like to mention is the secondary titles for the Flame Haze, Lord Of Crimson Realm and Tomogara characters. They sound so ‘terror’ and I don’t see how it really fits to that particular character’s role in the series. Besides, I also find this hard to remember as the names are being used in the series as well. Uh-huh, I’ll go my typical "Umm… Who’s that already?". Besides Shana, here’s a few other examples:
 
Alastor = Conflagration Upon Heaven And Earth
Margery Daw = Interpreter Of Condolence
Marcosius = Fang Of Destruction
Wilhelmina = Manipulator Of Objects
Khamsin = Mobilizer Of Ceremonial Equipment
Lamies = Corpse Retriever
Bel Peol = Judge Of Paradoxes
Sydonay = Thousand Change
Hecate = Supreme Throne
Dantalion = The Discovery Addicted Utmost Researcher (hahahaha)
Sorath = He Who Loves Himself
Tiriel = She Who Loves Him
 
Get an idea of what I mean? Don’t they sound just grand. Okay, so some of them may relate to their roles, but as for the others, I can’t reall see how.
 
By the way, it’s not really anything or what, when I first watched the show, I happen to notice that the way some of the character’s eyes are drawn, it makes them have that ‘blind’ look. No, there are no blind characters here, though it’s your typical big eyes bishie characters, something in the eyes’ make me have the perception that they look blind. Hmm…
 
The drawing, art and animation seems pretty okay to me. Since there’s some fantasy element, some of the character designs are quite okay and well done. Maybe with the few characters, the character developments are just satisfactory and is mainly between Yuji and Shana. Of course on occassion other characters as well. The mid-intermissions accompanied with a short ‘heavy exciting orchestra music’, besides the ‘normal’ character posing, sometimes shows the characters in a comical and chibi form, and some in sexy poses.
 
Speaking of which, if you can’t get enough of the series, there’s a short special episode released somewhere in year 2006 called Shakugan No Shana-tan Special. Shana here has become chibi and the special is quite comical and has no relation to the storyline, though there are scenes from the series but it’s more like a comical ‘what if’ version of it. Short. Cute. Funny. Weird. Mostly nonsensical. And even ecchi too! Especially when it involves Yuji. It’s so darn cute and hilarious to here Shana go "Urusai!" several times. And she spends most of the time eating her melon bread on top of Yuji’s head! Then there’s Yoshida the stalker who’s thinking about killing Shana. But I guess it’s just her thought. While Wilhelmina’s doing some analyzing from afar with her Tiamat. Something about the voice actresses, some food… Wikipedia and Shana.com? And Alastor… He’s lost somewhere. On a tropical island to the freezing South Pole to outer space.
 
There’s even a Hecate-tan Special in which, you guessed it, a chibi Hecate. So funny and lame to hear her go "Urusai!". Looks like that line only fits best with Shana. And if you want to know further on the Ogata-Tanaka relationship, there’s a 1 episode OVA whereby Yuji’s school went on a hotspring trip and Ogata tries her best to do something about her feelings for Tanaka. Believe it or not a movie is coming out soon in mid 2007 and a the second season is coming later somewhere by the end of year 2007. Now that’s a lot of Shana. This girl must be really really popular to spin off several shows.
 
The movie isn’t a sequel but a remake of the first few episodes which involves the fight with Friagne. And probably I’m speculating that the second season will have more drama, fights, love and romance. Possibly new Tomogaras and our Bal Masque trio since the latter didn’t exactly permenantly vanish. Though there are several albums and soundtracks, there’s a BGM which I like most, the piano version of the 1st opening song, Hishoku No Sora. To my surprise, it’s not in any of the soundtracks! It’s quite a slow nice lovely piece and I think the producers purposely omitted it and to make fans wait. Uh-huh. I read that several people too were searching for this song but couldn’t find it on any of the albums.
 
Hmmm… I’m wondering if other people around me are Torches as well. What about me? Hopefully not. Just like Alastor narrating at the beginning of each episode (surprisingly it hasn’t been drilled into my head), the people of the world are unknowingly being consumed by the flames of Tomogara without even realizing it. I hope my natural Torch will last as long as possible. So that I can continue to watch many more animes to come! Ganbatte ne, Shana-chan!

Imagine living and being surrounded by weird people who also happen like to ‘get involve’ in your business. Okay, I guess most of us do. So most people’s reaction to this would either be, tell them off if one can’t stand it all, or just be tolerant and take it all as their ‘natural behaviour’. Be in one with them. Well, it’s something like the latter in this series, Mahoraba – Heartful Days.
 
At first I was confused with this anime with the one called Maburaho because the name of the title sounds closely similar to each other and even thought that they’re both related to each other in a way. Nope. They’re both different from each other and bear no relation whatsoever. Except that they’re both Japanese animes, that is.
 
With 26 episodes of wackiness, you could say that this is another one of those comedy genres. But it isn’t so out-of-this-world (like Excel Saga, my favourite threshold example to use for comedy genres) but it’s still wacky enough for some good laughs. Besides there’s a little drama and romance element here.
 
First off, we’re introduced to this 18 year old male protagonist, Ryuushi Shiratori, who aspires to be a children’s book artist. Because of that, he attends the Sumeragi Design School in Tokyo. Since he isn’t from that area, Shiratori needs a place to stay and manages to find an inn called Narutakisou. This inn is sure sticking out like a sore thumb. Why, among the midst of several skyscrappers, Narutakisou seems to be like those old traditional Japanese inns. A square plot with single storey buildings of with several rooms and there’s a beautiful garden with a natural pool in the middle with some blooming sakura trees. Picturesque.
 
Upon entering the inn, Shiratori finds out that the landlady, Kozue Aoba, is a 16 year old high school student. Plus, Shiratori and Aoba are second cousins. What do I mean? If their parents are cousins, that means the relationship of their offspring must be cousins too be in a second degree, right? Right. Of course, it’s love at first sight for Shiratori but since he’s a shy guy, he can’t quite say it at first. I mean, you don’t really walk up to a lady and say ‘I love you’ all of a sudden, right? He hardly knows her. If they’re second cousins, then they should’ve at least know each other, you say? You see, though he has met Kozue before while he’s younger, but his memory is a little hazy. In other words, he doesn’t remember much.
 
Shiratori’s arrival seems to be the buzz among the other occupants of Narutakisou. Yeah, they all so enthusiastic or rather ‘kay poh chee’ to find out who the new guy is. Let’s briefly go over the few weirdos of Narutakisou first. First up, the most interesting character, Tamami Chanohata, who’s Kozue’s schoolmate and close friend. This photo maniac is the slyest, cunning and scheming girl, though her intentions are good (okay, maybe not always). Since she values her friendship with Kozue a lot (and probably doesn’t mind getting into a yuri one), she doesn’t like it when somebody else gets to close to Kozue. And with Shiratori’s appearance, she’s not really to fond of him but she doesn’t hate him either because Kozue doesn’t. Thus, with her trademark evil genius smile, Tamami may sometimes be sarcastic, cold and manipulative to others except Kozue.
 
Next we have, Megumi Momono. The 20 year old university student actually attended some university for 1 year but found out it’s too expensive so she’s currently taking a break. Perhaps she’s lazy, no? Besides that, she likes to drink and guzzle down cans of beer and often gets drunk. Therefore, for some unknown reasons and probably any reasons, she and Haibara likes to gather and party inside Shiratori’s room with or without (usually the latter) Shiratori’s room and drink away. Currently in some long distance relationship with her boyfriend who’s overseas as she’s waiting for his return. So everytime she gets an airmail, she gets all excited and reads it to herself with much anticipation.
 
The only other male guy at Narutakisou is the sleepy-looking Yukio "Johnny" Haibara who’s some sort of a freelance writer. What’s so quirky about this guy? He’s got a puppet dog who does the talking. Yeah, a ventriloquist. But the way he says things is like as the the dog is the master, making the human self as an extra part. Throughout the series, we won’t see the real human Haibara speak. I guess, he’s quite a good ventriloquist as he can do so while smoking a cigarette too.
 
Then we have the poor mother-daughter pair. How poor are they? Well, their room has nothing but empty cardboxes only. The personalities of these 2 are so darn contrasting so much so it’ll make you think are they really related or not. While 12 years old Asami Kurosaki is your typical optmistic, hyper genki kid, her mom, Sayoko is a klutz. In other words as Tamami put it, a useless person. Cruel. But it’s true. Sayoko’s always looking gloomy, gets depressed and lose heart easily, not good in doing anything. Luckily, she’s got Asami to back her up and cheer things up but Sayoko’s still that same ol’ ‘zombie’ person. And what are those cardboxes for? Well, the duo does some part time job by putting together some flowers which comes in several boxes and they always have to beat the deadline to finish it. You probably guessed it, that Asami’s the one who ends up doing most of the job as Sayoko gets discouraged and usually falls asleep. Uh-huh, it’s so hard for her to even complete a flower. But at least, Asami notes that since they’ve got each other and happy, it’s all that that matters. Right…
 
Though the umeboshi loving (some sour Japanese snack) Kozue has a nice, gentle and kind personality, there’s a dark secret about her in which Shiratori will soon discover at the end of the first episode. Ohh… What is it? To cut things short, she has multiple personalities. If you think it’s not that bad, think again. Kozue has several different personalities and each of them are uniquely different from each other. Kozue changes into her other self when she is ‘shocked’. Meaning, you can’t really surprise this lady. If you do, you’ll hear those trademark bells on her hair ringing before she collapses. But throughout the series I find that even though some events are shocking, Kozue doesn’t goes into shock mode. Likewise, certain events which seems non-shocking would turn Kozue into one. Perhaps what constitutes to be a shock or not differs from each person. And when she comes to, she’ll be a different self. Not only each personality spots a different hairstyle and eye colour, when Kozue returns to her real self (usually after the other personality faints or go to sleeps), she has no recollection of what has happened. Furthermore, Kozue and the other personalities do not know each other. But the other residents of Narutakisou knows them and would just play along. Either they’re scared of the whatever backlash or totally enjoying it.
 
So Shiratori has his first experience of Kozue’s other personality as the brute, crude, rude and violent Saki. Saki thinks Shiratori’s a pervert because earlier on, Kozue tripped and fell on him when she brought some tea to his room. Poor Shiratori has to withstand some abuses before he finds out that Saki’s pretty weak when it comes to liquor. Why, just a mere smell of it would cause her to pass out. Safe. Pretty ironic for a tough lady, huh?
 
But that’s just the beginning. Before Shiratori could settle down at the end of episode 2, the next day, a gust of wind blows Kozue’s skirt up and she gets really embarrassed because Shiratori saw her… ahem ahem. Another shock mode from Kozue and poofs… another weird personality. Shiratori’s thinking it might be Saki again and is fearing the worst. Good news, it isn’t. Bad news, it’s Nanako this time. She’s a 6 year old personality who really acts like a kid. Not bad, you say? Believe me, it’s just as bad. Nanako’s clinging on to Shiratori as though he’s like her onii-chan as she wants him to play with her, draw with her and even read storybooks to her. But after all that, Nanako gets tired and sleep. Which means, the next time she wakes up, it’ll be back to ol’ Kozue.
 
Though the other personalities don’t necessary appear in that order, let me just blog on the remaining ones first. In episode 9, Chiyuri makes her first appearance as a cosplay maniac. She’s quite an amusing gal because she thinks she’s a fashion police and with Tamami as her ‘partner’, the rest of the gals of Narutakisou fears her because Chiyuri will not hesitate to dress them up in all sorts of weird costumes whether they like it or not. Besides, Chiyuri likes to say ‘correcto’ and it’s quite funny to see she and Tamami talk when the the former calls the latter, she’ll go "~ my partner" and Tamami will go "Yes, my sweetheart". Hahaha. So funny the accent they’re both speaking in. Plus, Chiyuri can’t be too close to a male or she’ll get all flustered up so Shiratori has to dress as a girl to have a decent conversation. Well, I mean, it all started because Tamami and Momono decides to dress up Shiratori as a girl and calls him Ryuuko and take weird photos of him. So Shiratori has no choice but to flee… in that dress. And when he comes back, Kozue is already Chiyuri. So I guess, first impressions are really important.
 
The last of the personalities finally appears at the end of episode 14, a very shy introvert and gloomy looking girl, who’s the most mysterious personality and her name is unknown so much so that the other Narutakisou residents calls her ‘ano ko’ (that girl). So in episode 15, we see how nice and understanding guy Shiratori tries to break the ice by getting to know her more. Of course, leave it to Shiratori’s magic skills and she finally reveals her name as Natsume, who’s quite a skilfull magician and ends her sentences with "~kamo" (meaning maybe). One reason why Natsume opens up to Shiratori is because he doesn’t sees her as boring and dull, the reason why she’s reclusive in the first place.
 
So everytime there’s going to be a new multiple personality of Kozue, you’ll see some sort of a sketch-like story drawing as narrated by Shiratori with himself as the prince coming to visit and play with the Umeboshi Princess. Uh-huh. Something like the princess loves umeboshi so much and somehow other princesses pops out because they too want to eat that delicious umeboshi whether it’s her mirror refelction or her own shadow. This story happens in the beginning of the episode and as the series progresses the story will be further told and addded with that typical fairytale-like twist. Why not? Shiratori’s an aspiring children’s book artist, isn’t it. So it’s only logical that all this seems fitting.
 
With all the weird residents of Narutakisou, Shiratori’s life has been taking an interesting turn, don’t you think? But that’s not it. There are other weirdos apart from the Naratakisou residents. Take for instance those at Sumeragi Design School. Shiratori’s teacher, Miyabi Shirogane. I thought she’s related to Tamami because of her ever creepy and eerie smile, but this isn’t so. Though she may sound gentle on the outside, don’t ever do anything to make her unleash her ‘punishment’. Well, she’ll first bring that student into some room and then you’ll hear some ambiguous muffled grunt and groan as everybody wonders what’s going on. Though we’ll never really see what Miyabi actually does, but my mind’s running wild, if you know what I mean. But let’s just leave it there. And Shiratori got his first experience when he told Miyabi that he forgot to bring his homework. Scary.
 
Then Shiratori has her college buddies. His other male buddy, Tsubasa Yamabuki is your usual typical pervert loser. Yeah, he’s the kind who wants to have a girlfriend and those sort of stuffs and even fell in love with a cross-dressed Shiratori in episode 9 when he spots him/her wandering in the streets and nicknames this true love of his life Reiko! But he’ll never find out that they’re both the same person. Also, there’s the bespectacled Risona Aizawa who’s a manga freak and aspires to become a doujinshi artist and Mizuho Amane, your typical slightly tough gal and is always seen punishing Tsubasa for his womanizing ways.
 
Of course, Erika Vermillion has got to be the most interesting freaky character of the series. Why? As a schoolmate in Tamami’s school, Erika is the president of the occult club with Tamami as her other inactive member. Her voice is eerie yet so funny which fits her personality very well. She actually likes taking verbal insults! Especially when Tamami insults her with sentences like "Immoral cunning Satan-maniac" or "Pale-faced otaku zombie", Erika actually loves it and proceeds to ask Tamami to ‘abuse’ her more and more with her creepy voice. Though Tamami’s really not too fond of Erika, but I’m not sure why she ‘obliges’ her by saying those insults even though Erika loves it and is to get rid of her. There are other ‘slick’ insult sentences from Tamami, but I think these are the best ones.
 
Then Asami has her classmate pals as well such as the rich snobbish brat Michiyo Asagi who likes to pose with her paper fan. Actually all she wants is to be friends with Asami, though she never admits it. Then there’s Satsuki Matsuba, as she’s always try to control Michiyo’s arrogant attitude with heavy books.
 
So most of Shiratori’s adventures are somewhat like this during his stay in Tokyo. Like in episode 4 whereby Shiratori and his 3 friends bump into Kozue and Tamami on the streets as Shiratori introduces his buddies to Kozue and they’re impressed with her. Then the funny part is Tamami felt left out and proceeds to give her creepy lecture for ignoring her, thus instilling some ‘fear’ within those 3. Also in this episode, Kozue and Shiratori helped some hapless maid looking for some stamp card in the park. The search goes on till evening until that maid saw it in her bag when she decides to give them some food for their effort. Bummer.
 
In episode 5, Shiratori decides to help out Asami and Sayoko with their flower job so much so he’s neglecting his assignments and falling asleep in class. But Miyabi understands from the looks of it and doesn’t punish him. Tamami gets into one of her schemes in episode 6 by using Shiratori to do her bidding. Yeah, she’s blackmailing him with some embarrassing photo pic. So no choice Shiratori has to follow Tamami to her school and carry some ‘heavy’ bonsai plant back. Eventually Shiratori finds out that he’s being used all along when Tamami could actually carry that bonsai plant with ease.
 
Then that weird annual Narutakisou hide and seek game in episode 7 whereby the winner gets a ticket which enables him/her to order others around. Shiratori needs it so that Momono and co can stop having late night parties in his room. Since Shiratori’s the new guy, he’s been selected as ‘it’. And if he fails to find the rest before sundown, those left uncaptured will win the ticket. Shiratori manages to find them all hiding in the most obvious or weird places, except for 1 that’s eluding him… Kozue. Where could she be hiding? To cut things short, Kozue won because Shiratori’s unable to find her disguising as… a pillar??!! Wow. Can she fit so ngam in there? So Kozue decides to use the ticket an orders Shiratori to come shopping with her next Sunday. I guess if it’s Kozue, Shiratori doesn’t have to worry.
 
So in episode 8 Shiratori and Kozue went shopping together to get a rice bowl for the former. But due to some ‘shocking’ moments, Saki appears and Shiratori has to once again endure her bruteness like playing at the arcade and such. We also find out that this tough gal is afraid of butterflies. When the butterfly merely lands on her forehead, she faints. Haih… At least Kozue’s back. In episode 10, Miyabi hands an art assignment of drawing somebody else. So Shiratori’s buddies end up deciding to do their assignment at Narutakisou. So the residents of Narutakisou took turns to be their model starting off with Momono and Sayoko striking up several natural or unnatural poses. Hmm… We see Shiratori’s work to be quite standard and normal, Mizuho’s to be a little comical and ‘out of balance’, Risona’s art is so manga like (makes you wonder whether a model is necessary or not), and Tsubasa’s… he’s drawing focus is the female breasts!!! Yeah, that pervert. No face or head, just that part below the neck. So later they decide to have a one on one model for their sketch with Shiratori getting Kozue, Mizuho getting Haibara, Risona having Asami (yeah, Risona’s all over her, thinking how cute Asami is, even hugging her), and Tsubasa… oh dear, he gets Tamami. And the funny part is when Tsubasa’s drawing Tamami, we see Tamami giving out her "Hmmmmmpph" groan as she watches him suspiciously. In the end, their art turned out pretty consistent with their earlier works. Uh-huh. Which means, Tsubasa drew only Tamami’s breasts!!! No further comments. And later accidentally Tamami spilled some orange juice on their art works except for Shiratori who drew a lovely pic of Kozue. The next day in school, those 3 buddies got their ‘punishment’ from Miyabi. Hehehe.
 
Your usual summer beach episode in episode 12 with the gang in their swimsuits having fun in the sun, sand and sea. Now that’s spending quality time. Or that treasure hunting episode 13 when Kozue discovers some old diary with a map of Narutakisou in it and the gang thinks that there’s a treasure hidden here. So they follow each of the instructions carefully but each time, ended up finding not what they want. But come to think of it, aren’t those scenic spots ‘treasures’ in a way? Finally, they find a treasure chest but upon opening it, to their disappointment, it’s only a few old photos of Narutakisou’s previous residents. Hey, they look so much like the current ones. Except Haibara’s got a real dog rather than a puppet. They also find out that if they’d continue reading the diary, all this could’ve been unnecessary. But if you also look at it from this point, isn’t the time they spent together searching a ‘priceless treasure’ too? Also some flashback of why this inn was left untouched amidst the rapid development as those past residents with that Shiratori look-a-like protecting the place from being sold to unscrupulous mobs. So the gang decides to take a group photo for posterity and probably have that sadistic idea of letting future Natutakisou residents of going through the same thing.
 
Episode 14 is the end of summer and half of this episode is told through Shiratori’s children storybook like story. Each of the Narutakisou residents are being portrayed as some characters here as Shiratori’s searching for inspiration from the Narutakisou’s residents. Weird. But I guess that’ll do for now. Something about a little talking plant girl (Kozue) meets a witch (Tamami. Haha probably it’s on purpose) who wants to dig her up for something but some dog (Momono) wants to dig her up to and the 2 face off. Then an ant and a grasshopper (Asami and Sayoko respectively) wants to eat the plant but she says she’ll grant them 3 wishes. The grasshopper immediately wishes for some foodstuff and a bed and the poor ant before she could say a word for the last wish, the cricket wished for a cool pudding. Bummer. Too slow. Then some fishing guy (Haibara) who fishes out that plant girl out of the pond. Finally Shiratori himself as a lonely person who lives in a cabin deep in the woods finds that plant girl and starts to care and nurse for her until one day that plant girl disappears just when he’s getting too close to comfort with that little thing.
 
Everyone somehow has that same idea of visiting Narutakisou in episode 16. From Asami’s classmates to Shiratori’s buddies and even Erika! Yes, this is my favourite part. Because Tamami knew Erika’s coming so she put some garlic as repellant outside the house which prevents that vampire girl from entering. Yeah, it seems quite effective. Erika then decides to unleash her summoning spells when Haibara comes in and remove the garlic. Because Haibara thinks Erika’s weird and proceeds to verbally abuse her, which causes overwhelming joy for the girl. Though there’s another garlic hanging outside the door entrance, Haibara goes into the kitchen and gives the garlic he found at the gates for Kozue’s cooking. With that, Tamami decides to check on her barrier and to her horror sees Erika there. Then the 2 ensue in some imaginary battle by summoning some imaginary beasts or heroes with Erika having a reluctant Haibara on her side and Tamami having a drunk Momono on hers. Yeah, everybody else’s watching the weirdness. But in the end, everyone gathers and have a lovely meal. And that Erika’s trying to finish up all that curry garlic meal. She must really like the ‘abuse’.
 
This episode also introduces a monotonous sounding girl called Mahiru Minazuki and her all-rounder maid Tachibana. Actually, Mahiru has appeared before in that beach episode. I suppose that she’s a prelude to something big later. Uh-huh, don’t mess with her because Mahiru just need to say "Tachibana…" and her maid will know exactly what do to. Wow. Can she really read minds? That’s what Michiyo found out the hard way because her arrogance got her hammered by Tachibana. Anyway, seeing Asami and Sayoko having difficulties finishing their job, Mahiru instructs Tachibana to help them put together the flowers. Now that’s bloody efficient. Yeah, I guess for the first time the seemingly endless job is finished. Though in the end Asami apologizes for having her to work, Mahiru just says nevermind and notes that she has enjoyed it as well.
 
If you notice that Kozue’s multiple personalities appear one personality for one episode, then in episode 18, all of her 4 personalities took turn appearing because of some stray cats appearing here and there. Which means, shocking Kozue or her other personalities one way or another like the cat having a cockroach in its mouth or the cat causing some kitchen utensil to fall on her head. Since the others are out shopping, only Shiratori and Kozue are in as they try to entertain the cats (probably because of Kozue’s other personalities) and making a lost cat poster so that its owner can come claim them. I like the funny part whereby everybody returns carrying heavy plastic bags filled to the brim with the things they’ve bought and Haibara… he’s carrying Sayoko. Hahaha. Talk about being a deadweight. So it ends with the real owner shows up and reclaims her kitties.
 
Episode 19 is quite interesting because it shows a day in life of the Narutakisou residents from each of their perspective and in the end how it’s all being put together. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You may notice that some characters have a cameo appearance earlier on will appear later and it shows how it came to be. From Sayoko’s intention to bring Asami an umbrella but got lost in the city instead, to Shiratori’s class, Asami feeding a stray cat with her bento, to Momono watching some DVDs alone and then fell asleep at the park till it rains, to Kozue and Tamami doing some after school shopping with Tamami bashing up some gangsters after they try to pick on them (yeah, something about her Heaven’s Wrath move). But in the end, we see that it’s a video tape collection from Tachibana as Mahiru watches them. Hmm… I wonder why she’s so interested. If you’re wondering where Haibara is, Mahiru’s got her other maid, Sakura to do it. But that bungling girl fell asleep on the job as Mahiro fast forwards the tape until Haibara who’s sitting and fishing the whole day there (he’s like a rock) notices a camera and somehow points at Sakura sleeping shock shock underneath a tree. Busted. With that Mahiro leaves it to Tachibana to give Sakura her punishment. Hey, doesn’t those ambiguous muffled groans sound like the one from Miyabi? I still wonder what it is… Not only that, when Mahiru saw the footage of Asami, she goes "onee-sama…". Oh the twist in the plot. Oh the suspense. Oh the cliffhanger at the episode’s end.
 
Hehe… But before I explain all those stuffs, let me leave you with a little suspense first. That’s because the entire series isn’t just about Shiratori’s misadventures (okay, he has to be involve one way or another). There are some episodes which focuses a little more on certain characters. Like episode 11 is more on Momono. She’s feeling lonely and reminiscing about her boyfriend overseas. So much so she asks Shiratori out on a date. Hmm… Momono looks a little pretty when she’s dressed up a little. At the end of their date, Shiratori finds out that this is just a test from Momono as she wanted to see if she still had feelings for her boyfriend, which she did, and apologizes. Of course nice guy Shiratori understands but ultimately, they both had fun together.
 
Episode 17 is how Tamami came to be close friends with Kozue. Besides that short hilarious moment where Erika wants Kozue to join her club as a ghost member (ironically, a ghost member can also mean an inactive member), Tamami steps in to protect her from the devil but Erika disposes her off easily. Wah. I can’t believe Tamami lost just like that. Kozue agrees because she wants to be in the same club as Tamami is. Well, Tamami couldn’t be more happier than that as Erika drags Tamami away for some ritual. So in the flashback we see how a young genki and optimistic Kozue impresses Tamami with her unusual ways (and that umeboshi thingy too) and ever since then, the 2 has become buddies. And Tamami looks more cute than scheming at that time.
 
In episode 20, the Narutakisou residents pay a visit to Kozue and Tamami’s school festival. So the usual fun stuff like Tamami manage to score 5 bullseye in 1 go, goldfish catching from Asami, Haibara’s reading some book in the literally club (boring) and Momono watching some lame Z-Grade movie (okay, maybe I’m being too derogatory since it’s a hand-made movie by the students). Of course my favourite part when Sayoko gets her fortune being told by Erika! I’m not sure whether it’s the creepy and dark surroundings or what Erika’s blabbing about as Sayoko’s cowering underneath the table. But the turning point of the series is at the end whereby the president of the 3 member orchestra club, Hiro Utsugi, is asking for help because her other 2 members who play the piano and violin has their hands in bandages. Since Hiro’s the conductor, she needs replacements or else her show’s a failure. Momono decides to help out as she has took piano lessons before and Sayoko… Oh no. She’s thinking of playing the violin. Can she do it? My other half says otherwise. The show starts and as everybody’s watching I was anticipating some blunder. But then… WOW!!! Sayoko’s amazing violin skills really caught me by surprise! First I thought it was some recording to cover her, but nope! It’s the real thing! This Sayoko after all this time, even though she’s a klutz at least there’s something good that she can do. My perception of Sayoko seems a little more favourable. Asami’s really impressed with her mommy and so is everyone else. Then, we see some old fearsome guy, supposedly Mahiru’s dad because Tachibana’s there as he goes over the video recordings Mahiru watched earlier on and isn’t to fond of it as he asks whether Mahiru has met Sayoko or not.
 
Thus episodes 21-22 focuses more on Asami and Sayoko. We see Mahiru and Tachibana taking those 2 (more like abducting) from Narutakisou, despite being protests by the other residents there. To cut things short, Sayoko is actually Mahiru’s elder sister! I wouldn’t have guessed it. Which means Mahiru’s Asami’s aunt. Er… isn’t she too young to look the part? We see that Sayoko comes from a wealthy filthy rich family and the mansion is bloody huge. And it seems Sayoko’s dad, Ushimitsu, a muscular sculptor with an eyepatch, doesn’t like Sayoko too much. Though he’s fierce, luckily their mom, Yuu (who looks too young to be one. I guess she could take that as a compliment) to control his temper or if he’s being rude. It seems that while Sayoko’s still schooling, she fell in love with their gardener, Kurosaki. Ah, the forbidden love. But he didn’t get her pregnant. They just eloped. Furthermore, Asami’s Kurosaki’s adopted daughter and though adopted, he treats her as his real one. Now this explains the contrasting difference between those 2. Unfortunately, Kurosaki died several years ago, leaving Sayoko and Asami to fend for themselves.
 
It seems that Ushimitsu’s purpose to bring Sayoko back is to let her choose a suitor for herself. Because of Sakura’s bungling nature, Tachibana has issued some sort of a job and warning to her. That is, not to allow Sayoko and Asami to see each other while their stay at the mansion or else… You know what this means when Tachibana slides her thumb across her throat. Yeah, Sakura gets pretty scared by it. And ever since then, everytime Asami comes in asking for her mom, Sakura would so obviously shiver in fear and give some excuse that her mom’s not here. So bloody funny. So much so even Asami’s presence would just make her go into panic mode even if she didn’t say anything. Now that’s a conditioned response.
 
In the end, Sayoko rejects her dad’s proposal for a new suitor. Sayoko’s saying something about how she still love Kurosaki even after his demise. If Sayoko had died first, she too had wanted him to remember and love her forever, at least the memories part. And though Asami isn’t her real daughter nor is their life a bed of roses, at least they’re together as a family, through thick and thin… *Sob sob*. Oh my, now I really have renewed respect for Sayoko. Asami and the other maids who’re eavesdropping barges in and hugs Sayoko with her eyes filled with tears. Sayoko decides that she’s till going to stay with Asami no matter what, which prompts Ushimitsu to tell her to get out of the house… but she could always come back to visit anytime. Looks like he accepted his daugther’s decision. With that Sayoko and Asami thanks Mahiru and the maids and set foot back to Narutakisou. And it seems everybody’s glad that they’ve come home as they rush out to hug them. This is quite a heartwarming episode and it’s quite well done. Don’t worry, Sayoko’s still her klutzy self. Some things never change.
 
Episode 23 is like a filler episode before the final arc. It’s about the Narutakisou residents taking a day trip to have some picnic and fun at some park by train. After a tiring day as the rest of the gang sleeps on the train on their way back, Kozue can’t help wonder how long will they be able to stay like this as everyone will have to leave one day. Shiratori reassures her that there’s still plenty of time. Have your ever heard time flies when you’re having fun? But for the time being, Shiratori wants to make many happy memories with her and the rest. Then back at the inn we see an airmail letter in the postbox and an incoming fax addressed to Haibara saying that he’s being picked for some writing competition. Is this the start of things to come (or leave)?
 
Episode 24 gets a little grim. It seems that Haibara is contemplating to leave for that competition and Momono’s letter states her boyfriend would love her to come join him overseas. Besides Shiratori taking up a part time job at the vegetable seller market, the other gang decides to search Shiratori’s room for anything unsual because they’re wondering why he got a part time job. To their disappointment, they found nothing but Kozue notices a circled date on the calendar in Shiratori’s room to be her birthday. That night while happily making some onigiris, and some blushing thoughts on Shiratori, the phone soon rings as Kozue picks up and hears a devastating news. It’s the police and they’re informing Kozue that Shiratori’s in an accident. In an instant, Kozue feels a sense of guilt and regret overwhelming her as she’s saying that it’s her fault to send him there in the first place as Kozue faints into unconsciousness. That must be the most shocking thing to have ever happen to her.
 
Back at the police station we see Shiratori fine and the other Narukitasou residents there. Looks like his accident is exaggerated by that vegetable store owner. Something about a truck coming his way when Shirtori tripped. Because of that, the truck driver slammed hard on the brakes, stopping in time. Phew. Back at Narukitasou, everyone’s by Kozue’s side. It’s not so much whose fault is it in the first place but how are they gonna revive Kozue back. Because they’re being too noisy, Tamami stomps her foot down and tells them to keep it down or take their debate outside.
 
We see some flashback as told by the other residents of Narutakisou about how Kozue became an orphan. It seems when she was young both her parents left on some trip to Hawaii in which Kozue won as a prize and wanted for them to go badly as she couldn’t go herself because she has school then. Unfortunately, the plane crashed killing her parents. Ever since, Kozue blames herself for sending them to their deaths. Thus the bells on her head serves as a reminder of her parents. Thus her multiple personalities are somewhat of a reflection of her hidden feelings. After hearing all this, Shiratori becomes desparate and tries to wake up Kozue. A little ruckus ensues before Shiratori accidentally touches one of the bells which causes Kozue to open her eyes. But something’s amiss. It’s not Kozue but one of her personalities. Umm… Which one? Is it Saki or Nanako? Wait a minute. They’re rapidly changing not the usual way. Oh oh. It’s gone haywire.
 
Even the sketchy storyline seems to turn a little gloomy as there are now 5 Umeboshi Princesses but since there’s a thunderstorm and tidal wave, all 5 princesses collapsed like in some sort of eternal sleep (coma in short). So while the other story characters get carried away by some whale as drawn by the prince’s magic crayons, they ride back to the castle. However, only 4 of the Umeboshi Princesses manage to be awaken and the 5th and original stay asleep. No matter what the others did, she just wouldn’t wake up.
 
So in episode 25, it seems that Kozue’s other personalities are continuing to take turns appearing. And they don’t even have to faint to appear. Kozue sure has really gone haywired. Speaking of which, only the real Kozue sel hasn’t appeared since. Everyone notices this and thinks they’re in real deep sh*t because previously Kozue always returns to her normal self after 1 personality. But it isn’t the case here. With Shiratori skipping classes, he’s at Narutakisou trying to understand the situation more so that he could help Kozue’s identity crisis. After some talk with Haibara, Shiratori is confronted by Tamami then. Something like Tamami’s been with Kozue since young, she’s her best pal in the world, she loves Kozue more than anyone else, that’s why she hates him so much, so she asks if Shiratori does in the same way, but Shiratori says he’s not sure if he truly loves Kozue but he knows he wants her to be happy.
 
After all that talk of realization, Tamami begins to understand what Kozue sees in Shiratori. Though Shiratori’s still not sure on how to cure Kozue, he wants Tamami to help him think of a way. Tamami gives him Kozue’s bell and tells him to do what he has to. Later as Tamami is sitting alone in the dark, she is approached by Momono. Tamami’s saying how she lost to Shiratori and it’s quite odd to see Tamami cry as she’s being embraced by Momono. Yeah, no matter how scheming and sly she is, tears don’t really suit her. While Shiratori’s in his room thinking, he spots his sketchbook and his drawing of the Umeboshi Princess. Shiratori has an idea to make Kozue and her personalities happy.
 
So the final episode 26 sees how Shiratori tells his Umeboshi Princess sketch story to all the Kozue’s personalities. Yup, it seems that they’re so eager and enthusiastic to know what’s going on in the story. With Shiratori’s eloquence and talent as a future children storybook artist, he manage to maintain the interest of all the personalities, keeping them in suspense and awe. What’s this? Tamami getting drunk over an orange juice? Or is it just that she’s really really sad that she’s unable to do anything for her best pal.
 
While Shiratori’s telling his story, he notices that he’s not just telling to 1 perosnality but in fact all of them together. Is that a hallucination or what? And those other Narutakisou residents are hearing the whole story from behind the bush. Shiratori’s story telling continues and since it’s a typical children fairytale, it ends on a happy note with the prince kissing the sleeping Umeboshi Princess on the cheek thus waking her up. Then all those 4 princesses transformed to be somewhat of a reflection of the other Kozue’s personalities like Saki the warrior and Chiyuri the dancer. Once the story ends with everybody having a bite of umeboshi, soon the real Kozue finally opened her eyes. Hooray! Kozue’s back! Then the funny part is before Shiratori could hug Kozue, Tamami faster than the speed of light beats him to it with her leg acting as some stopper across Shiratori’s chin. Haha.
 
After all that, every character who has made their appearance in this series makes a 1 big reunion at Narutakisou for Kozue’s birthday bash. From Erika to the Minazuki household to those market sellers downtown and even those kitten owners. Well, except for Reiko, which Tsubasa’s still yearning for her. You know why lah. Also to tie things up, Momono decides not to follow her beau overseas but instead will wait for him to come back to her and Haibara saying that the writing competition company went bust. Momono notices 5 names on the cake when Tamami replies that today’s the birthday of 5 special people. You know who. So has Kozue been cured of her multiple personality disorders? Well, when Shiratori bumps into her while she’s taking out a jar of umeboshi, spilling everything, Kozue’s still Kozue. Maybe that’s not shocking enough. But it ends when everybody takes an umeboshi bite and their faces grimaces to that sour satisfaction. Mmmm… SUPPAI!!!
 
Overall, I really did enjoy this anime. The way they combine the elements in the storyline especially with all the interesting and wacky characters makes it even more fun. It’s a good blend of comedy and drama. Since the drawing and art isn’t your typical bishie kinda drawing, it may look like it’s targeted for younger audience. But I’m sure this series is certainly for anybody and everybody, young or old.
 
As for the voice acting, I must say that it’s quite well done and my favourite characters are still Tamami and Erika mainly because of their voices which influences the way the speak and such. Voiced by Yui Horie and Shizuka Itou respectively, they really give their characters a fitting and suitable personality. Kozue’s voice actress, Satomi Arai, did quite a good job with the various multiple personalities to give each one a distinct and unique characterisitc.
 
The series too has a soundtrack (which anime these days doesn’t) and I kinda find that most of the background musics to be fun and cute, though there are a variety of them. Of course there are those slower and more solem ones to fit the mood of the scene but overall, they all sound pretty okay.
 
I want to mention that in most episodes, you’ll see some sort of a comic slide panel. Usually shown when the characters are doing something like searching for things, each slide lasts for a few seconds before the next slide slides into place as it’s accompanied by a fun background music, usually a solo electric guitar picking. This is usually for comical purpose and probably to cut a long story/task short. Whereas in the next episode preview, we see Tamami in butterfly suit and Momono in a with that professor hat (forgot what it’s called) blabbing with expression on certain things like what has happened so far in this episode before they really go on to the next. Okay, maybe sometimes they don’t. Yeah, Erika made her appearance once there too. And in the end credits you’ll notice a new Kozue personality everytime you see another Umeboshi Princess appearing. Count ’em.
 
As usual, the beginning of each episode has that warning notice not to sit to close to the tv while watching the show. With some of them telling you what would happen if you don’t, like some weird purple ugly monster popping out from the tv screen and devouring you and some with just Kozue’s gentle persuasion. Even she herself apologizes that there’s no punch line but Tamami butts in and say it doesn’t matter because Kozue’s so cool and stuff. Funny right from the start.
 
Probably there’s a hidden psychological lesson in all this. Perhaps when one is greatly traumatised, we see how one changes his/her character and shuns himslef/herself from the rest. This is especially when young children who witness undesirable events at a tender young age. Of course the other lesson is never give up, togetherness, understanding, tolerance and always be happy with what you have and cherish them because it may not last forever. In a way, you could say that Shiratori’s the prince who woke up Kozue the princess in the end just like in fairytales.
 
So next time if you really do have weird people around you, just think that it may all be a blessing in disguise. They may turn out ‘better’ than you think… Or not. Therefore, weirdness is only defined as per the individual him/herself perceives to be. Erm… Does this mean I’m weird too?

The Cross-dressers

June 8, 2007

You know, even though I’ve been watching animes for several years, there is one thing that I have trouble telling apart. Have you ever wonder whether a particular character is a boy or a girl? Because of the ‘unique-ness’ of the Japanese anime art and drawing, sometimes it’s relatively quite difficult to tell whether that character’s a he or a she. This doesn’t help when the seiyuu (voice acting) of that particular character too sounds ambiguous and can fall in either category.
 
Because so, this makes it easier for characters who cross-dress. Uh-huh. You could say it’s out of convenience but without it, where’s the fun in all that, right? Mistaken identities and mistaken love triangles are bound to be aplenty. Cross-dressing is a term used to describe whereby a person dresses in clothes of the opposite gender. There are several reasons why a particular character cross-dress. So here is a list of 10 anime characters who cross-dress:
 
 
Name: Tsubasa Kurenai
Anime: Ranma 1/2
Reason for cross-dressing: Simply because… he enjoys it! Besides having a fetish for dressing up in weird outfits such as mailbox, vending machine or even a tree, Tsubasa fell in love with Ukyo Kuonji (who at that time was cross-dressed as a boy). And even though Tsubasa knew Ukyo’s a female who cross-dresses as a guy at that time, it makes it even more the reason to fall in love with Ukyo. See, in a way, opposites do attract.
Love interest: Ukyo Kuonji. Though Ukyo tried to date the female Ranma with the latter feeling sorry, decides to ‘set up’ a date with the male Ranma, but Tsubasa absolutely detests him.
Identity known by: Since Tsubasa’s not one of the main cast of the series, his real gender identity is known to those he has encounter in the episodes he appeared, such as Ranma, Akane and of course Ukyo herself.
 
 
Name: Isabella "Daisuke" Yamamoto
Anime: Paradise Kiss
Reason for cross-dressing: During his childhood years, Isabella always felt uncomfortable and ashamed with his body as a boy. He’s one of those cases whereby he’s a female inside who’s wrongly being born into a male body. Luckily, Isabella’s childhood friend Jouji (or George to some) manages to give him the confidence and help him to become comfortable in wearing female clothings. Ever since then, this tall fashion designer student has been wearing women’s clothing.
Love interest: Nil. Though he considers Jouji to be his best friends and will follow him to wherever he goes.
Identity known by: The members of the Paradise Kiss atelier.
 
 
Name: Ritsu Souma
Anime: Fruits Basket
Reason for cross-dressing: Ever since he was young, this insecure monkey-cursed Souma member cross-dresses to hide his feelings and inadequacy from other people because he thinks he is no good in studies and sports. Because his parents are often seen apologizing for his faults, Ritsu has the habit of incessantly apologizing for the slightest mistakes, even those which are not his fault.
Love interest: Nil. Tohru maybe?
Identity known by: The entire Souma family and later by Tohru Honda.
 
 
Name: Mizuho Miyanokouji
Anime: Otome Wa Boku Ni Koi Shiteru
Reason for cross-dressing: For some unknown reason, Mizuho has to cross-dress as a girl because of his late grandfather’s will for him to attend the same all-girl’s high school, Seio Gakuen. Nice guy Mizuho decides to abide to his late grandfather’s wishes and tries his best to adjust his life there while learning the ways of how a girl should walk and talk (especially leaving the toilet seat down after done doing one’s business).
Love interest: Not anybody in particular but everyone else loves him! Even the obnoxious and proud student council president Takako Itsukushima falls for him in the end.
Identity known by: At first only known by his homeroom teacher Hisako Kajiura, childhood friend Mariya Mikado, then classmate Shion Jyuujo because of her sharp observance, the ghost girl Ichiko, and finally Takako herself.
 
 
Name: Hibiki Amawa
Anime: I My Me Strawberry Eggs
Reason for cross-dressing: Hibiki is an optimistic fresh graduate who’s currently looking for a job as a physical education teacher. He applies for one at a private high school, Seitou Sannomiya, because it’s near the place he’s staying and renting (not to mention he has to pay the rent up fast). However, upon hearing the female chauvinist principal’s reason for rejecting him because of his gender, he decides to cross-dress as a female to prove her statements wrong.
Love interest: Having mixed and confusing feelings for the clumsy but selfless girl Fuuko Kuzuha, who is one of his students.
Identity known by: At first only the residents of Gochisou Inn, Lulu Sanjo, Mori Kouji and Tofu Tofukuji. In the end, Hibiki’s identity is busted and is known by the entire school when the vice principal Reiko Mukogawa exposes it all during the school assembly. But everyone comes to a conclusion and doesn’t detest Hibiki’s actions because it’s not the outside appearance that counts, but the inside and the lessons that Hibiki has taught them all.
 
 
Name: Nuriko
Anime: Fushigi Yuugi
Reason for cross-dressing: When this Suzaku 7 Star superhuman strength warrior was young, his beloved sister Korin died in an accident. Extremely heart-broken by her death, he decides to cross-dress and live as his sister so that her spirit will always be close to him.
Love interest: The emperor Hotohori, who is also one of the 7 Stars Of Suzaku. Once viewed Miaka as an obstacle to his love for Hotohori but eventually sees the good side in her and doesn’t harbour and ill feelings towards her and even fell in love with her!
Identity known by: All of the 7 Stars Of Suzaku and eventually Miaka.
 
 
Name: Haruhi Fujioka
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club
Reason for cross-dressing: Coming from a poor family, Haruhi manages to be accepted into the prestigous Ouran Academy. While finding a place to study, Haruhi stumbles upon a Male Host Club and accidentally breaks a very expensive vase and has to work as a male host to pay off her debts. Thing is, Haruhi is a girl! And since Haruhi doesn’t really bother about fashion nor is she really concern about her dressing, at the same time it’s not like she’s really passing off as a male. Besides, wouldn’t those rich girl clients of the host club freak out if they ever find out, that their male host is actually a girl? Or maybe unless they like the idea of being ‘yuri’.
Love interest: Hikaru and/or Kaoru? Maybe, maybe not. Tamaki? Think not. Outoro (giant tuna)? Definitely.
Identity known by: The members of the Ouran male host club, Lobelia’s popular Zuka Club president Benibara-sama, and of course Haruhi’s own dad Ranka who’s a cross-dresser himself.
 
 
 
Name: Mikio Sugisaki
Anime: Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori
Reason for cross-dressing: A guy who dresses as a girl so beautiful and pretty that even other guys could fall head over heels over him. He cross-dresses as a female because he loves his little sister, Maho and to protect her. Incest? It’s kinda weird that everytime gets a boyfriend, Mikio will dress up as a girl and ‘snatch’ Maho’s guy away. And Mikio always suceed in doing this. Those guys must be real losers to get swept off their feet just like that.
Love interest: Maho, his sister.
Identity known by: Since this is just a one off episode and the characters are just one off as well, only Maho knows of Mikio’s uncanny cross-dressing habit and later by the Jigoku Shoujo’s team as they did their investigation.
 
 
 
Name: Denzou Yamada
Anime: Nintama Rantarou
Reason for cross-dressing: Being the field instructor, meaning he teaches first hand the ways of the ninja through field methods and technique, he cares a lot about his students and would cross-dress to keep an eye on them. Sometimes if he’s on an undercover spying mission, he’ll do so too. What a hideous looking cross-dressing there! This is the worse cross-dressing quality among the list. At least shaves those leg hairs, man!
Love interest: Nil.
Identity known by: Since his cross-dressing is so obvious, no doubt everybody could recognize him. Unless that character is a very dumb one.
 
 
Name: Makoto Mizuhara
Anime: El Hazard: The Magnificent World
Reason for cross-dressing: An ordinary high school kid has been mysteriously transported to another dimension, in a war torn world known as El Hazard. Because Makoto bears a striking an uncanny resemblance to Princess Venus’s missing little sister, Fatora, Makoto has to reluctantly cross-dress and plays the role of Fatora in hopes that it will allow him to access the Eye Of God which in turn may hold the power of returning him to his own world. But Makoto’s cross-dressing role is for a short period and doesn’t span the entire season or it’s later sequels because Fatora has already been rescued since. Okay, maybe there are other occassions but it isn’t that important.
Love interest: Seems fascinated with the Demon God of El Hazard, Ipreetha. Oblivious to the advances from his classmate, Nanami, and others like Shayla-Shayla and Kaoru Taurus.
Identity known by: While impersonating as Fatora, only Princess Venus and her close royal aides knows about this.
 
At the crossroads
This list isn’t meant to be definitive as there are other anime characters who cross-dress as well. Some full time whereas some just for a brief period, depending on the circumstances and reasons they’re in. I know I should’ve included Revolutionary Girl Utena. But unfortunately, I didn’t really watch that anime ;p. Or perhaps I should’ve include Maeno and Izawa of Ping Pong Club. But that’s way too ‘disturbing’. What about Nagatsuki of Happy Lesson? By the time I’ve thought about that character, I’ve already filled up my top 10 slots. Too bad.
 
So will cross-dressing be the new trendy fashion of the future? Maybe. Since recently, we’ve that metro-sexual or whatever you call those recent trend is. Yeah, it’s a topsy-turvy world. Anything is possible. Especially if you’re talking about anime.

Rozen Maiden

June 2, 2007

 I never like playing with dolls. I still don’t. That is, not until I’ve watched Rozen Maiden. Okay, so maybe I still don’t actually play with such soft toys but if it’s a Rozen Maiden doll, I might give some second thoughts about it. Yes, those cute little midget-sized dolls garbed in goth-loli outfits. With each dolls having their own distinct personality, it makes them more interesting.
 
So besides being just cute looking dolls, what are Rozen Maidens really? Though there are some explanations throughout the series, let me just blog it all here one shot. There are 7 Rozen Maiden dolls created by some German doll maker guy called Rozen, hence the dolls are named after him. Somehow these dolls after their creation have been given a breath of life as they call their maker Father. However, because of Rozen’s infatuation to create the most perfect doll and he’s unable to do so, the fate and destiny of the Rozen Maidens are tied to this Alice Game.
 
It’s a game whereby the dolls have to duke it out between themselves whereby the last standing doll is declared the winner and is promised to meet Father. Throughout the series I find this Rozen guy a bit sadistic to pit his ‘daughters’ against each other. Uh-huh. Not that I really understand why except that Rozen perceives this Alice to be the most perfect and beautiful thing. So by winning the Alice game, that Rozen Maiden could become that perfect Alice. Which mean to say that those dolls are ‘imperfect’, right? Right. In a way.
 
But this entire 12 episode series doesn’t just concentrate on the dolls trying to outdo each other. It focuses more on the drama and interaction between the characters. Coupled in with some comedy, supernatural elements and terminologies of their own, it makes the series quite enjoyable to watch. Yes, there are some fighting with energy projections. But it’s not the main focusing point of the series. Besides, some viewers say that some of the background art and drawing are drop dead gorgeous. Well, to me, they seem pretty okay. Not that it made my jaw dropped several inches.
 
So we got this kid, Jun Sakurada, who’s a hikikomori as seen in episode 1. That’s a recluse case for those of you who don’t know. Just like Satou’s case in NHK Ni Youkoso. But instead of all those conspiracies, Jun’s reason why he’s one is because of some mental traumatic experiences he had when he was in school. Therefore, he locks himself up in his room and doesn’t go to school. So his poor but patient and understanding sister, Nori, has to do the chores around the house and tolerate his strange behaviour. Such a nice girl who loves her little brother very much. She even tries to help him but that stubborn kid just ignores her.
 
Because of his hikikomori-ness, Jun has this weird infatuation of ordering supernatural goods through the internet and then returned them once he has had enough fun of it just before the trial period ends. All’s well until he receives a letter saying that he’d won some prize. And after following the instructions on the letter, Nori comes in bringing some huge luggage. Upon opening and examining the luggage, Jun finds a doll in red goth-loli dress. He winds it up and the doll starts to gradually move on her own. Unexpectedly, she slaps Jun in the face for handling a lady indelicately. She introduces herself as Shinku, the 5th Rozen Maiden doll. Because of Jun’s stubbornness and Shinku’s bossy attitude, these 2 are like loggerheads and will always be in some sort of argument. Unfortunately for Jun, he always loses to the doll.
 
What could be worse than a talking doll? Well, another clown-like doll crashes into Jun’s room from the window and is gonna kill him! Shinku tells him that he’s gonna die and that the only way to stay alive is to make a contract with her by kissing her ring. Jun of course doesn’t really believe it all until that clown doll is really serious into attacking him. Shinku’s just sitting there not doing anything. No choice, Jun then agrees and kisses Shinku’s ring. With that, a ring appears on Jun’s finger symbolizing a bond has been created and Shinku goes into battle mode, easily disposing it off.
 
Later, Shinku explains that by kissing her ring, Jun hereby agrees to be her servant. Uh-huh. The master is a doll. Plus, Jun is also Shinku’s medium. Meaning, a power source used in battles. And everytime Shinku uses a medium’s power, Jun’s ring will start to glow and the ring will feel a little warm. Is Jun gonna accept it all? Well, he can’t really do much. Since he can’t even take off the ring from his finger, he reluctantly agrees to do Shinku’s bidding. But as I’ve mentioned earlier on. Jun and Shinku will get into arguments in which the latter will do something like kicking his shin or hitting his face with her ponytails to stop his ranting. Funny. Yeah, Jun’s more like her ‘slave’ than ‘medium’ if you look at it in a way.
 
In episode 2, another Rozen Maiden doll is introduced, the naive and child-like Hina Ichigo. Because she’s quite scared of being left alone due to her previous owner, her current master and medium, Tomoe Kashiwaba, tries her best to be with her. But one day because of Tomoe’s busy school schedules caused her to be come home late one evening (actually she’s at Jun’s house handing over some notes to Nori. Yup, Tomoe’s Jun’s classmate) and that’s when Hina Ichigo gets into one of her fits. Thus, she decides to drag Tomoe into another realm, N-Field so that they could play together forever. An N-Field is a realm whereby it’s supposedly the Rozen Maiden’s domain. And each N-Field reflects the characteristics of each Rozen Maiden and can be accessed via reflecting objects like mirrors and computer screens. Also an N-Field of a particular Rozen Maiden gives her a ‘home advantage’ but to offset that, a medium is used.
 
So Shinku decides to start the Alice Game by entering some large mirror in Jun’s storeroom and into Hina Ichigo’s N-Field. Yup, it’s Shinku vs Hina Ichigo. To cut things short, Shinku won because Hina Ichigo used up too much of Tomoe’s powers. Because Hina Ichigo lost, by right she would lose her Rosa Mystica, a vital ‘soul’ which gives the Rozen Maiden’s life. Without it, a Rozen Maiden is just an ordinary doll, unable to move or talk. But Shinku instead of taking Hina Ichigo’s Rosa Mystica, decides to make Hina Ichigo her servant as Hina Ichigo releases Tomoe from her contract. Oh boy, that’s what Jun really needs. Another doll living in his house. It’s gonna get ‘livelier’.
 
Episode 3 introduces yet another Rozen Maiden. This time it’s Suigin Tou, the main villain of this series and she harbours a deep hatred for Shinku. She’s also the one who sent that clown doll back then. By the way, Suigin Tou’s one of my favourite Rozen Maiden dolls because of her ‘pretty’ goth-loli dressing and her devilish giggles. Yup, her giggles sounds cute yet so… eerie. Besides Shinku and Suigin Tou having a short battle and the latter retreats after nearly claiming victory, we see how Hina Ichigo adjusts to life in Jun’s house. She’s still so child-like. And more of that drama with Jun and Tomoe.
 
Another Rozen Maiden comes crashing into Jun’s room through his window in episode 4. This time it’s the temperament and short-fused Suisei Seki. I guess without her, the whole series won’t be that lively or funny. Well, she’s not really a joker of the series, but somehow she doesn’t click with Jun and Hina Ichigo and always teases and mocks them. And because Jun’s relatively small in terms of body size for his age, Suisei Seki calls him ‘chibi ningen’ while Jun calls her back ‘wicked doll’. It’s really getting livelier. Like they say, the more the merrier. And Suisei Seki’s not even living with them. She’s just ‘visiting’. If you happen to notice her different eye colours, don’t think it’s a mistake made by the producers. It’s intentional. That’s because her other twin sister too has different opposite eye colours.
 
Here, Shinku asks Suisei Seki to use her powers to enter Jun’s Dream World, a place where it mirrors one’s personality, characteristics and memories. And it seems Jun’s one is a computer junkyard. As the series progresses, you’ll find out Jun’s fears and such and why he becomes a hikikomori (is scoring all eggs that bad?). But in Jun’s Dream World, it isn’t all hopeless as there’s a small green plant that just wouldn’t grow. Though Suisei Seki uses her Amethyst Dream (looks like a water can alright) to help it grow but it still wasn’t enough. As they’re heading back to reality, Jun manages to save Suisei Seki from falling and when they’re back in the real world, Suisei Seki has a more favourable view of Jun, though she still teases and mocks him at times. Hmm… I find it funny to see the Rozen Maidens sleeping in their luggage box. Is it comfortable? Yeah, and it seems that luggage can fly too. Really.
 
Episode 5 is my favourite episode because it’s really a funny one. We find out that Shinku loves to watch that Detective Kun Kun show, a puppet detective dog show. And she’s really into it with all those analyzing and stuffs so much so she thinks it’s real. Besides that, Suisei Seki steals some strawberry cake from Hina Ichigo and the latter accuses her of doing so but the former denies. Because of that, Hina Ichigo locks herself in Jun’s room. Nori wants them all to get along by the time she gets back or else. So we see Jun and Hina Ichigo teaming up to try and make Suisei Seki confess and apologize to Hina Ichigo and some hilarious battle ensue at the stairways. Jun and Hina Ichigo manage to make Suisei Seki confess but Suisei Seki isn’t giving up yet. We see Suisei Seki trying to tempt Hina Ichigo as she ‘hijacks’ the fridge teasingly slowly eats all her favourite snacks. Hina Ichigo hang in there. Yeah, all in chibi form too.
 
Initially Shinku didn’t want to get involve but Jun uses and impersonates the voice of Detective Kun Kun doll which he has, to say how Shinku’s bad to do such a thing. Then Shinku like an innocent and naive doll quickly says that it’s all Suisei Seki’s fault, pointing her finger towards a surprised Suisei Seki. Hehehe. Pandemonium ensues and the whole stairways is bloody messy with things being thrown from both sides. When Nori comes home, she blows her top when she finds out the place is in a total mess. We don’t really get to see Nori’s true demon side but it manage to make Suisei Seki say "Now I have renewed respect for this human". But in the end, everyone calms down and Nori cooks them their favourite flower-topped hamburger meal.
 
More of those Detective Kun Kun shows in episode 6. Because Shinku and Suisei Seki watched the horror special, they got scared by it and Shinku decides to ‘follow’ Jun while Suisei Seki with Hina Ichigo. In Jun’s room, Jun noticed how Shinku looks more human than a doll and Shinku trying to get through Jun’s heart by they both ended up quarrelling. Soon they heard Suisei Seki’s screams from the storeroom and rushed there. To their horror, they find Suisei Seki unconscious and Suigin Tou’s taking Hina Ichigo as hostage. Suigin Tou wants to challenge Shinku to the Alice Game and disappears back through the mirror. With no choice, Shinku along with Jun and several other dolls (including that clown one) head into the mirror to face Suigin Tou.
 
It seems Suigin Tou’s N-Field is quite dark, gloomy, cold and desolated with lots of broken dolls. By the way, Shinku seems to like pissing off Suigin Tou by calling her a junk. And Suigin Tou always rebuffs with anger that she’s not one. During the battle, Suigin Tou manages to have Shinku in her grasp and is going in for the killing blow when Jun remembers the time he spent with the dolls which activates some protective barrier around Shinku through his ring. Suigin Tou is shocked at this and wonders why such a medium posses superb powers and retreats. The rest of them then head back to Jun’s storeroom. There, Jun uses his sewing skills and repaired that damaged clown doll who was ripped during the fight. His skills impresses Shinku and everyone else as the clown doll comes back to life. After complementing Jun and as they’re leaving Shinku suddenly falls over like as though she has no more life.
 
The gang try various method to wake Shinku up in episode 7 but to no avail. She doesn’t even respond to her beloved Detective Kun Kun. Or even when her medium’s in danger (yeah, Suisei Seki trying to purposely drop some painful things on Jun). Suisei Seki explains something about some eternal dream, a fate worse than death as she has to relive painful memories again and again from the time of their creation. By the way, I want to mention that there’s this guy, Yamamoto, who’s supposed to be Nori’s classmate, always wanting to try and confess to her. Unfortunately, his plans are always being thwarted by an unsuspecting Rozen Maiden like the luggage box hitting his head. In the end, Nori never really knew of his intentions and Yamamoto has to back out because he doesn’t know what’s going on. Poor guy.
 
Soon Hina Ichigo too becomes lifeless because her powers are drawn from Shinku. This prompts Jun to slightly overcome his hikikomori as he sneaks out of the house and to his school library to find some clues. Tomoe spots him but instead of saying "Hah! I thought you’re a hikikomori and look what you’re doing out of your shell!", she decides to help him in his situation. It must be tough trying to translate each and every sentences in German using a Japanese dictionary but they manage to pull through. It seems the answer is to summon some artificial spirit. Yeah, that little light that seems to be flying around her. And Shinku’s one is called Hollie (likewise, Suisei Seki’s Amethyst Dream). With that, Hollie enters the wind hole from Shinku’s back and extracts a black feather, supposedly left from Suigin Tou (but I’m still wondering how it got there). Shinku soon comes to life but instead of thanking Jun, she slaps him and says that he took too long. Perhaps that’s her way of saying thank you. Hina Ichigo soon follow suit. At least the whole gangs back.
 
In episodes 8-9, we learn that Suisei Seki’s twin sister, Sousei Seki is some sort of a ‘replacement child’ for their master-cum-medium, an old watchmaker who lost his son Kazuki in an accident and his wife’s in a coma. It seems Suisei Seki doesn’t like how Sousei Seki’s an obedient ‘dog’ trying to satisfy her masters wishes and in the first place why Suisei Seki leaves the house and her master for Jun’s. Probably she loves mocking Jun. This old guy’s pretty scary when he’s senile. So Sousei Seki spends most of her time trying to find Kazuki in the Dream World, which is nothing but pure white. A lot of drama here and there.
 
Of course Suigin Tou has to come stir some trouble by showing Suisei Seki how her twin’s sleeping on the floor instead of her luggage. I guess it’s detrimental to a Rozen Maiden’s health if she doesn’t sleep in one. This made Suisei Seki unable to stand the sight and tries to take Sousei Seki away forcefully. They engaged in battle but Suisei Seki ran away in tears after coming to a conclusion that her twin loves her master more than her sis. So odd to see Suisei Seki like this. Then Suigin Tou tells the old man a way to forever be with his Kazuki, and that is to trap her in his Dream World.
 
As Sousei Seki falls into the trap, Suisei Seki’s relieved to find that Shinku and her servants (you know who) decide to help her out. Inside the Dream World, they encounter Suigin Tou. Soon the door to the Dream World will close and will lock them all inside. While Shinku and Hina Ichigo battles Suigin Tou, Jun and the twins are trying to find some big tree which connects to all dreams, to the old man’s wife’s Dream World. They manage to do so and find out that the reason why the old man’s wife wants to stay in this world is because Kazuki’s here as well. They want to stay here forever without having to experience the pain and sorrow of reality. Jun then knock some sense into them about accompanying that lonely old husband of hers. She soon realizes it and agrees.
 
As the trio rushes back to reality, they find Suigin Tou launching an attack against them. It seems Suigin Tou who has gotten Sousei Seki’s artificial spirit, Renpika (some giant scissors) earlier on, now wants Suisei Seki’s Amethyst Dream. Jun is shielding the dolls from Suigin Tou’s relentless attack which made Suisei Seki no choice but to give hers up to save him. Meanwhile, Shinku and Hina Ichigo manage to find Kazuki and the latter sets them free and asks them to tell his parents not to worry. When the 2 are back in the real world, Suigin Tou has already fled. But good thing is the old man’s wife has come out of her coma and the old man himself has overcome his denial of Kazuki’s death and admits Sousei Seki isn’t his son.
 
In episode 10, Suigin Tou enters Shinku’s dream to challenge her to the Alice Game which the latter agrees. Besides that, Nori requests the dolls to help her practice with her Snow White play. It seems Suisei Seki’s quite fitting of playing the evil witch while the dwarves are Sousei Seki and Hina Ichigo, Shinku as the Snow White princess while Jun as the prince. Also, Jun gets embarrassed to see the dolls in their undergarments when their outfits are being washed and happened to notice that joints as it reminds Jun that they have forgotten that they’re dolls and not humans. Besides some moments between Shinku and Nori, more insights of the Rozen Maiden and Alice Game are explained from Shinku. Though Sousei Seki notices that Shinku may be hiding something because she’s acting weird, that night when everyone’s asleep, Shinku prepares herself to go face Suigin Tou gives Jun a kiss before leaving via the mirror in the storeroom.
 
The battle finally begins in episode 11 but Shinku realizes that it’s a trap from Suigin Tou. In order to ensure Shinku has little powers during the battle, she uses a doll to stall her while she herself goes to Jun’s room and enters his Dream World. After which, Suigin Tou returns to her N-Field and starts a black feather-rose petal battle with Shinku. It seems Jun now is facing up to his fearful past in his dream. It seems that Jun was once a smart kid but failed an important exam one day resulting him being ridiculed by everyone, the reason why he shut himself out. Also, Jun was devastated and angry when Nori called their parents and told them how she couldn’t tolerate Jun anymore, another reason why he has been quite cold to his sister. Jun can’t take it anymore, he’s losing his self confidence and breaking down. With that, Shinku loses her concentration and could only hope that Jun won’t be fooled by his dreams. But Suigin Tou has Shinku in her grasp now and demands her to give up her Rosa Mystica.
 
The other dolls noticed that Jun’s Dream World has been opened but can’t do anything because their artificial spirits are taken away by Suigin Tou. They decide to seek Nori’s help in which she agrees. So how do they enter the Dream World? Suisei Seki knocks Nori out cold! That doll is really wicked. In the N-Field, Hina Ichigo manages to distract Suigin Tou to free Shinku and allow her to escape to Jun’s Dream World but Suigin Tou gave chase. Meanwhile the twins and Nori are at Jun’s Dream World and notices his tree is dying. The twins cover Nori from Suigin Tou’s attack to allow Nori to try and talk to him to bring him to his senses. After a lot of emotional talk of realization, they reconciled. Jun then saw the battle of the other dolls with Suigin Tou. To his horror, Suigin Tou rips off Shinku’s right arm. Jun with his regained confidence, steps in to protect Shinku and faces off with Suigin Tou.
 
The final episode 12 sees Jun and the dolls teaming up against Suigin Tou. During the battle, the twins manage to get their artificial spirits back. While the dolls hold Suigin Tou off, Jun whisks Shinku away. Now the roles are opposite. It seems Shinku’s lost her self confidence and seems shaky because she fears she can’t be Alice now. After some words of reassurance like how he’ll always protect her, Shinku felt a little better as Jun left to find Shinku’s torn arm. He spots it across a river. Because Suigin Tou has easily defeated the other dolls, she spots what Jun’s doing and is playing psychology with him about his fears. But because of Jun’s strong desire to protect Shinku and his gratitude towards her that allowed him to free himself from his traumatic experience, Jun’s sudden power destroys Suigin Tou’s barrier, shocking her. With more words of encouragement from Shinku, he crosses the river and retrieves her arm.
 
Then like out of convenience, some magical force appears to sew Shinku’s arm perfectly like it was never been ripped before. So it’s Shinku vs Suigin Tou round 2. Suigin Tou’s deeply swallowed by her hatred for Shinku so much so that she decides to burn her using some blue flame. But Jun’s will to protect is much stronger and in the end, Suigin Tou got burned by her own flames. Her secret is now revealed as Suigin Tou cries in despair. It seems she was the first doll created by Rozen but was left unfinished, like a junk. But her love for Father was genuine and still wants to meet him. And somehow she manage to move without a medium probably it was her determination to prove that she’s a complete doll. So sad to see Suigin Tou like this. But it seems Shinku didn’t take away her Rosa Mystica.
 
Meanwhile, Nori notices how Jun’s tree is growing albeit still small. His Dream World now isn’t dark and gloomy but bright and colourful. Though the twins want to tend to it but Nori requests them not to and wants Jun to do it with his own power. While Jun and Shinku shares a tender moment, Shinku then said a few last words before wishing him goodbye. Jun wakes up to find that the ring on his finger is gone. Looks like Jun’s cured of his hikikomori as he and Nori takes a step outside the house. He’s not afraid anymore. But looks like he has one fear left. Yeah, when he comes back, to his surprise he saw all the dolls there. Why? It seems that Jun used up too much power causing the dolls to temporarily disappear and because Jun has grown up, the powers return (and that ring too) along with the dolls. Jun’s glad that Shinku’s back and we see Jun’s school uniform hanging outside his closet. Looks like he’s ready to go to school.
 
But it’s not over yet. There’s a second season of another 12 episodes called Rozen Maiden Traumend which continues where the 1st season ends. I felt that the 1st season’s more on Jun as he overcome his fears and his interaction with the dolls. Whereas in the 2nd season, the Alice Game truly begins and it focuses more on the dolls. To save time, I’ll blog the 2nd season as well.
 
So the first episode shows the usual noisy dolls at Jun’s house. Uh-huh. Suisei Seki and Sousei Seki comes crashing in through Jun’s window and wants to see Hina Ichigo because she drew some doodles all over their artificial spirits. More hilarious antics between Suisei Seki and Hina Ichigo. Also, Jun’s back in school doing lots of catching up work. Luckily Tomoe’s there to assist him. Sorry, no chemistry between those 2. Meanwhile Shinku’s feeling depressed over the loss of Suigin’s Tou and has a little chat with Jun. In this season I felt, Shinku is less ‘aggressive’ and is more indecisive and shaky because of that last incident. Then Shinku spots Mei Mei, Suigin Tou’s artificial spirit and decides to follow it with Jun tagging along despite his objections. Mei Mei leads them to Suigin Tou’s N-Field. There they met a rabbit in a tuxedo, Laplace Demon. I think this guy’s a baddie from the look of things. Shinku tells Jun to ignore him after some talk. Eventually the duo ends up in a place filled with crystals and are suddenly attacked. Shinku asks her attacker to show herself, which she did. She introduces herself as Bara Suishou, the 7th Rozen Maiden doll, a doll with an eyepatch. Shinku seems surprised because this is the first time she has seen the 7th doll.
 
So episode 2 starts off with Shinku and Bara Suishou in a heated battle. Bara Suishou knows Shinku is mentally incapable of fighting because of that Suigin Tou incident. Looks like Bara Suishou’s gonna be the main villain this season after Suigin Tou’s demise. But before Bara Suishou can land the killing blow, Laplace uses some barrier to save those 2. This rabbit guy talks in riddles because I don’t understand what he’s saying most of the time. Back at home, a lot of talking between Shinku and Jun with the former explaining that with Bara Suishou’s appearance, the real Alice Game has begun. Because of that Shinku tells Jun not to tell the others about Bara Suishou because she doesn’t want them worried. But sharp Sousei Seki notices that Shinku isn’t acting like herself. Also, Tomoe takes Jun to a doll shop called Enju Doll and they meet a storekeeper, Shirosaki, who tells Jun not to be shy about liking dolls and that the doll maker Enju is currently busy making a new doll at the moment and invites them to come whenever they want. This episode though has some comical moments, but lots of spacing out and pondering as well.
 
If you’ve counted only 6 Rozen Maiden dolls so far, then you’re right. Thus in episode 3, the final Rozen Maiden doll is introduced, Kanaria. At first I thought she’s gonna be a real threat as she claims herself to be the smartest one among the dolls. But when she idiotically slips off the roof (not once but twice!), I knew that she’s gonna be another goofy one. How true. Here we see Kanaria trying to penetrate into Jun’s house to get the other doll’s Rosa Mystica but because of her goofiness and ‘dumbness’, she fails. Even when Kanaria manages to enter and tries to do some investigation of her own, she has a hard time trying not to let the other dolls aware of her presence. Yeah, Shinku thinks there’s an intruder and becomes Detective Kun Kun to solve the mystery. A lot of near misses in this light hearted episode. The dolls finally meet when Kanaria made a mess in the kitchen with Shinku using her powers to restore the place. Meanwhile, Jun’s at Enju Doll watching Enju creating ‘life’ when his ring starts to get warm as he rushes back. Yeah, great. Just what he needs. Another doll. With that, Bara Suishou notes to herself the Alice Game will begin from here.
 
More of those Jun-Shinku moments in episode 4. Also the twins talk about the inevitable in the Alice Game and it seems Suisei Seki isn’t interested about becoming Alice but to be with her sis forever. Sousei Seki doesn’t thinks so as she still wants to meet Father. So this causes a little riff in their relationship. Plus, Suisei Seki doesn’t want that old man as her medium so when Sousei Seki suggests Jun. Reluctant at first, Suisei Seki tries to approach Jun but is unable to do so. As Kanaria again tries to invade Jun’s house, she spots Bara Suishou’s head popping out from the puddle. And when Kanaria frantically tries to tell the rest about this, Suisei Seki decides to test it by dropping Kanaria in it! That girl never change. With Kanaria completely vanishing they conclude it may be an N-Field as they enter it. They reach at some auditorium where Laplace announces whereby all the dolls have gathered. He proceeds to show them some puppet play whereby Shinku defeats the other dolls including Suigin Tou. This scene is disturbing Shinku very much as she pleads for him to stop. Before you know it, Bara Suishou destroys that puppet play and asks if they should start the Alice Game.
 
Bara Suishou seems to be quite powerful herself as Shinku’s paralysed, sitting there and spacing out as the battle rages on. Jun notices sad Suisei Seki is and asks her to make a contract with him. She agrees. With that, now Jun has become her medium and her Amethyst Dream is more powerful as she counters Bara Suishou. In the meantime, the rest used this opportunity to escape N-Field. In the end, though Suisei Seki’s sad that she has to live with Jun now, but Sousei Seki assures her that she’ll come by tomorrow. Funny part at the end as we see Kanaria with her butt stuck halfway from the puddle as she curses the other dolls and promise she’ll get her revenge. Doesn’t anybody notice her. Perhaps they just don’t bother with her.
 
But this doesn’t deter Kanaria as she tries her umpteenth time to penetrate the house in episode 5. Yeah, and that Yamamoto guy too is trying… and failing. This episode is quite light hearted in the sense that Suisei Seki and Hina Ichigo tries to impress Jun but aren’t doing too well. So they decide to write him a letter but that scheming Suisei Seki tricks her that she must post it in a mail box and further describes the mail box as something scary. And of course a naive Hina Ichigo believes her but still do it because she herself likes Jun. Plus, Suisei Seki saw what Hina Ichigo wrote (a thank you note) and decides to copy it and send her own letter to Jun first. You can really see those scheming star sparkling in those eyes. Hina Ichigo has to traverse various obstacles in the city on a stray cat and manages to do so. Also Tomoe spots her and comments on how happy she is to see Hina Ichigo has changed. Back at Jun’s house, Kanaria manage to enter through the toilet window and while coming out, bumps into Suisei Seki. Kanaria pulls out her gun and is gonna shoot her. Is this for real? Well nope. It’s just a water gun. Yeah, it wets Suisei Seki’s letter. Too bad. Divine punishment. And there’s more punishment for them both. Because they’re standing at the toilet door, Jun opens it and smashes them both against the wall. At the end, we get to see Kanaria’s medium, Mi-chan, who’s some doll cosplayer freak obsessed maniac. Kanaria’s reporting to her on the other dolls but since she saw Kanaria so kawaii, she proceeds to give her that cheek rubbing hug (yeow! Must be burning hot at that speed). Later Jun receives Hina Ichigo’s letter, he can’t read it because her handwriting’s ‘cakar ayam’.
 
Suigin Tou returns in episode 6. I guess the series isn’t the same and won’t be ‘complete’ without her. Before that, we see a terminally ill girl, Megu, lying in hospital. I’ve never knew a person who’s so enthusiastic to die. I mean, yeah, she fells like she’s a burden but she’s too weak to do it herself. But anyway, one night while walking into a nearby church, she saw a light coming out from a box and thought it was the angel of death here to take her away. Actually it’s Suigin Tou. Before you know it, she kisses her ring and Megu becomes her medium. Yay! Suigin Tou’s back. Since Shinku didn’t take her Rosa Mystica at the end of last season, I suppose the producer’s waiting for this chance to revive her. So some moments between the 2 as Megu finds out about the Alice Game and wonders if she’d use up all her powers for it. Megu’ll be glad if she does because it will end her life. The sooner the better. Megu even thinks of herself as imperfect and a junk and wants to be like Suigin Tou who seems perfect to her.
 
While flying through the night sky, Suigin Tou encounters Bara Suishou and the 2 battle. But Suigin Tou questions her existence after Bara Suishou brought back some memories from the previous season. As Bara Suishou says, perhaps Father has fixed her for the Alice Game. Real sadist. Suigin Tou decides to visit Shinku in her dream. But to Suigin Tou’s surprise, it seems that Shinku is more kinder and gentler and apologizes for calling her a junk. Yeah, they’re all sisters in a way. But Suigin Tou still isn’t too convinced and heads back to Megu’s side. Later we see Bara Suishou at Enju Doll and having some conversation with Shirosaki as she says everything is going as planned. Something fishy must be up with these 2.
 
Episode 7 is another light hearted one. Kanaria is really serious this time in facing off with the other dolls but is suspicious that they invited her over for tea and cookies. I like the funny part where Kanaria’s thinking the cookies may be poisoned so that they could knock her out and take her Rosa Mystica and before she knows it, Suisei Seki stuffs it all down her throat! Hahaha. Eventually Kanaria decides to leave because they’re all just pissing her off. But back at her home, Kanaria asks how would Mi-chan feel if she no longer moves. Mi-chan says she’ll be sad and all that, which prompts Kanaria to be even serious this time. The next day while Shinku and Sousei Seki are chatting, Kanaria arrives and attacks them with her artificial spirit, Pizzicato (a violin). Kanaria’s going for it this time as she’s causing havoc and damage. Sousei Seki decides to attack but before she could do it, Shinku calmly walks toward Kanaria and slaps her! She orders Kanaria to clean up the mess she made. Yeah, that scaredy cat Kanaria just did that. I wonder why she’s scared of her in the first place. Maybe it’s because of her ‘bossy’ appearance.
 
They find out why Kanaria’s attacking them is because it’s for Mi-chan’s sake as she wanted to play with the other dolls. Soon they all decide to pay Mi-chan a visit. And that Mi-chan got very excited to see all the Rozen Maidens and proceed to put on some cosplaying outfits on them. Looks like they’re having fun. Later Sousei Seki asks why Shinku didn’t fight back seriously and the latter replies that she doesn’t want to lose anymore than it is now. Sousei Seki feel a little upset and wonders if Shinku is abandoning the Alice Game.
 
It seems Kanaria has joined that gang in episode 8. What do you expect when high pitch squealing dolls like Kanaria, Hina Ichigo and Suisei Seki argue. Yeah, they can bring the house down. Besides that, we see Sousei Seki seriously thinking about fighting everyone in the Alice Game. Of course Suisei Seki doesn’t approve of it and Shinku has that ‘if that’s what you wish…’ attitude and doesn’t really stop her. The reason why Sousei Seki wants to do this is because she had a dream and saw father in pain. And the only way to take away his pain is to become Alice, which Sousei Seki intends fulfil Father’s wish. Also, more of Suigin Tou-Megu moments as we find out Megu’s been weak/junk while she’s young prompting Suigin Tou to remember her own case. At the same time, Jun decides to visit Enju and watch his doll making process. I didn’t get this part when Enju comes up to Jun, grabs and touches his cheek, before agreeing that he could stay and watch. What the? So Jun gets to know more about doll making and its existence. And to his surprise, Jun finds out dolls that are flawed are smashed by Enju with a hammer. Something about equal feelings and such.
 
While Jun, Nori and the other dolls have some ‘flowing noodles’ experience for lunch in episode 9, we see Sousei Seki encountering Bara Suishou and Suigin Tou in the Dream World. Sousei Seki explains that she’s neither joining forces with them nor Shinku’s as she’s doing this on her own. That night when Shinku has a dream about Suigin Tou again, she wakes up to find the world in a duo-chrome colour setting. The other dolls too notice this and thinks that they’re in Suigin Tou’s N-Field. To cut things short, a battle ensues. Shinku and Hina Ichigo take on Bara Suishou while Suisei Seki faces Suigin Tou. But as Suisei Seki’s staring at the face of defeat, Sousei Seki saves her in time and says not to interrupt her fight with Suigin Tou. Though Suisei Seki wants her sis to stop fighting, that stubborn twin of hers intends to go on. No amount of words could reach her heart. She’s already decided. But in the end, Sousei Seki lost to Suigin Tou. She acknowledges it as her Rosa Mystica soon appears as her body floats in mid-air.
 
Suigin Tou grows excited at the sight of Sousei Seki’s Rosa Mystica in episode 10 and outpaces Suisei Seki to retrieve it. This made Shinku mad but Suigin Tou seems to look forward to fighting and even turns on Bara Suishou. But Laplace appears and offers Shinku and co an escape portal in which they had no choice but to do so. So lots of emotional talk and drama from the dolls as their feelings began to waver about the inevitable. Sousei Seki’s just lying there motionless in her luggage. Meanwhile Suigin Tou heals Megu a little with her new Rosa Mystica, which made Megu feel a little warm and smiles. I guess Suigin Tou’s a little happy too. But soon Hina Ichigo too fell unconscious because she originally lost to Shinku back in the first season. A sign which means the Alice Game is now in play. Before Hina Ichigo goes, she spent her last moments with Tomoe and felt happy. Then her Rosa Mystica is absorbed by Shinku, confident that Hina Ichigo would return one day. Sad. Two dolls down. Then, Shinku along with Suisei Seki and Kanaria are transported inside Enju Doll shop and to their surprise to see Jun there. But what’s even more surprising is that Shirosaki is actually Laplace as his human face morphs into a rabbit’s one. I actually had a hunch Shirosaki would be that rabbit because of the voice but now it’s confirmed. Bara Suishou then appears and addresses her Father, which is Enju. Surprise surprise. Is he Rozen?
 
Well he seems to look like Father as the dolls think it’s him in episode 11. But Jun is suspicious as he thought Father would only want to meet Alice. Soon Enju, Laplace and Bara Suishou left and tell them to meet at the N-Field tomorrow for their battle. Later that night, Shinku and Suisei Seki told Kanaria not to get in their way because it’s serious stuff, but this made her feel offended. So the next day, eventually Kanaria decides to come along as the trio are transported to a rose garden N-Field. The battle starts with Shinku vs Bara Suishou while Suigin Tou vs Suisei Seki again. Kanaria feeling left out decides to help out Suisei Seki. Meanwhile Jun too has arrived in the N-Field as he rushes up to the mansion where Enju’s just sitting and watching the dolls battling each other. Jun tries to tell Enju to stop all this but Enju’s turning a deaf ear while Laplace stops him. While Shinku helps Suisei Seki, this left Bara Suishou to target Kanaria. Soon Suisei Seki decides to help a ‘useless’ Kanaria but their teamwork is angering Bara Suishou. As a result of Suisei Seki’s covering for Kanaria, the former got frozen in Bara Suishou’s attack and her Rosa Mystica appears. Kanaria grabs it before Bara Suishou could and vows to protect it with all her will. Kanaria unleashes her violin attack which rips Bara Suishou’s arms but the latter materializes a crystal sword and stabs Kanaria. Thus, Bara Suishou obtains both Suisei Seki and Kanaria’s Rosa Mystica. Shinku saw all this and became furious as she unleashes her petal roses in fury towards her remaining foes.
 
So the final episode 12 sees Shinku in her rage grabs Suigin Tou by her neck and lunges her down to the ground as she shows the aftermath of Suisei Seki and Kanaria. But Suigin Tou doesn’t give a damn about it and they both continue their fight inside the mansion. But Bara Suishou betrays Suigin Tou and stabs her with several crystals from the back. This allows Shinku to take Rosa Mysticas from Suigin Tou and has vision of her memories but Sousei Seki’s one drifted towards Bara Suishou. With that the last 2 Rozen Maidens began duelling and it seems they posses powers from the Rosa Mystica that they had obtained.
 
Soon Shinku overwhelms Bara Suishou and blames her for everything and is going to terminate her to end all this when Enju shows up with Jun. Jun yells at Shinku to step saying that if she does this, she’ll be no worse than Bara Suishou. In Shinku’s hesitation, Bara Suishou uses this opportunity to stab Shinku with her head accessory. I can’t believe Shinku lost! Her Rosa Mystica and those that Shinku had defeated, is absorbed by Bara Suishou. Bara Suishou has all the Rosa Mysticas now and is the winner. Enju then says how happy he is that his doll won. Jun is shocked to hear that Enju had created a doll more powerful from Rozen. Looks like this guy’s an apprentice of Rozen who wants to eclipse his master’s art. Yeah, he even slapped Jun and says he’s just a kid who became Shinku’s medium by accident. But then Bara Suishou soon feels hot and starts to crack and crumble. Enju’s wondering what’s wrong (so am I). In the end, both of them vanished. Then Laplace mentions something about deceit and all those stuff and looks like he knew it all along but just played along. Uh-huh. My guess is that since Bara Suishou isn’t an actual Rozen Maiden doll, she’s an impostor so thus nullifying the Alice Game. But I wonder why the Alice Game was proceeded in the first place.
 
With that, Laplace disappears into a portal and tells Jun to escape before the entire place crumbles. A frustrated Jun yells at Father to fix everything and soon he hears footsteps outside the door and a figure which look like Father. Then it’s like a dream as we see through Shinku’s point of view as Father fixes her up and the other dolls. When Shinku awakens, she finds Jun by her side and tells him that she had met Father. He tells Shinku to become Alice and that the Alice Game isn’t the only way of becoming Alice. Now he says. All the other Rozen Maiden’s Rosa Mystica returned to their respective dolls except Hina Ichigo and Sousei Seki because those 2 were legitimately defeated by a Rozen Maiden and not an imposter. So this little issue has been entrusted by Father to Shinku to get those 2 Rosa Mystica’s back. Finally we see Laplace with 2 Rosa Mystica (supposedly Sousei Seki and Hina Ichigo’s) in the N-Field along with… Bara Suishou?! I thought she crumbled? Jun with Shinku in his arm then walks through the portal and leaves the N-Field.
 
What the? That’s it?! Oh man, it’s quite an unsatisfying end in terms of how the way things ended. It made me feel that there’s gonna be a third season and with that twist in the Alice Game at the end, I guess most probably that’s what the new season is gonna be, trying to get Hina Ichigo and Sousei Seki back. And I thought at least that 2 episode OVA special would help answer some of that. Unfortunately it didn’t.
 
That OVA, Rozen Maiden Ouverture, is actually an insight of Suigin Tou’s past and how she came to hate Shinku. Taking place somewhere in the middle of the second season, it all started when Shinku orders Jun to repair her pink rose which fell out from her bow. Jun makes his trip to Enju Doll and bought some red threat and a brooch. Back home, Shinku becomes disturb upon seeing the brooch and gives whatever excuse to say that she doesn’t need it. This causes Jun to be angry as he walks out of the room. Sousei Seki notices this and decides to explain to Jun in the storeroom.
 
A flashback as we see Suigin Tou coming to life but was abandoned by Father. Her desperate cries for Father has been ignored as he goes away with the other dolls. Suigin Tou here seems and sounds very low self-esteemed, indecisive, emotional and vulnerable as she crawls and make her way to some dress sown by Father on a chair. And it seems that the scene is during those Victorian times with Shinku having a little girl named Sarah as her medium. Back then, Shinku and Sousei Seki weren’t on friendly terms as they’re seen fighting in the streets of London. Back at Sarah’s place, Shinku’s explaining the purpose of the Alice Game and such when Suigin Tou suddenly appears out from the mirror. She’s desperately asking for Father. Shinku is shocked at first and had to push her away because she’s very clingy and shaky. Shinku is even in further disbelief when Suigin Tou introduces herself as the first Rozen Maiden doll. Uh-huh. This is the first time Shinku has met her as Suigin Tou’s weeping uncontrollably on the floor.
 
It’s quite odd to see those 2 dolls like best pals as Shinku teaches Suigin Tou how to walk, giving her words of encouragement and such. Yeah, you could say a friendship is created there. So how did it all go wrong? Hey, back then, there’s even a Shirosaki and Enju look-a-like coming to Sarah’s house and asking if she has those exquisite dolls because they want to buy them. Of course Sarah denies it all and even when Shirosaki notices the ring on her finger or even asking permission to take a peek in her room. Later, Shinku has to leave for her battle with Sousei Seki and asks Sarah to take care of Suigin Tou while she’s gone. But during the battle, Suigin Tou appeared looking for Shinku. Sousei Seki asks for her name and it seems Suigin Tou’s quite enthusiastic about telling about herself. Once Sousei Seki knew that there’s another Rozen Maiden doll, she attacks Suigin Tou with Renpika, causing Suigin Tou to be torn into 2 parts, surprising Sousei Seki. Though Shinku felt sorry she didn’t help Suigin Tou’s cries for help to save her because she thought she’d be much happier with Sarah but she’s pretty dead by now as Suigin Tou gets drag into some portal.
 
Then donno why as Suigin Tou’s lamenting her fate, Father appears and gives her a Rosa Mystica. Maybe he has acknowledge her finally? Meanwhile Suisei Seki decides to undo her contract with her medium so as not to endanger his health but Sousei Seki’s reluctant because she’s still locked in a battle with Shinku. But after hearing this, Shinku decides to undo hers with Sarah. Once done, Shinku exited through the mirror but finds herself in some unknown N-Field. There, Shinku’s surprised to see Suigin Tou intact and her Rosa Mystica. Shinku, in a gentle voice, still doesn’t believe that she’s a Rozen Maiden because she thinks Suigin Tou’s incomplete and that perfect crap thing. Wrong move girl. That’s all it takes. This caused Suigin Tou to snapped inside as she now thinks Shinku has been looking down on her all the while. Because of that, in her rage, Suigin Tou suddenly grew black wings from her back and started to attack Shinku, taking her by surprise. Fuelled by hatred, Suigin Tou grabs Shinku’s brooch and breaks it. Shinku’s horrified because that brooch was given to her by Father. With that, Shinku too becomes engulfed in rage as the 2 started fighting. I guess that’s how this junk name calling thing started.
 
Before they can finish, the clock strikes midnight and Laplace appears and says that the Alice Game for this era is over because the twins had gone back to sleep. Can he do that? I mean if it’s like that, then those dolls should’ve done the same thing too in the previous season. Maybe they love Jun too much and wanted to be together. Shinku and Suigin Tou then are sucked into a portal with Shinku clutching her broken brooch. Back in present time, Jun finally understands as he sews back the rose petal on Shinku’s bow with Shinku looking sad. And we see Suigin Tou on top of her the church roof with Mei Mei.
 
Overall, even with the unresolved issues at the end of the 2nd season, I still find this anime quite enjoyable to watch. In fact, I can consider this series to be one of my all time favourites. Of course, because of the unsatisfying end, I did some reading-cum-investigation of my own. To my surprise, I found out that it isn’t actually Bara Suishou with Laplace at the end of the 2nd season. She’s actually Kirakishou, the actual 7th Rozen Maiden doll who can only exist in the N-Field! The 2 sure look alike. See, that’s what happens when you don’t read the manga. So to say, Enju modelled Bara Suishou quite closely to Rozen’s Kirakishou. Why? Dunno.
 
Also, there are several differences between the anime and manga. For instance, characters like Bara Suishou, Shirosaki, Enju and Yamamoto doesn’t exist in the manga. In addition, Jun’s hikikomori in the manga is due to some humiliation when everybody in school finds out he likes to design girl clothing rather than scoring poor marks in a test. There are much more differences but I’ll just leave it here. Thus, if they ever make the next season (they’d better! Or else I’ll have to relive this unsatisfying ‘nightmare’ over and over again), I’m sure there’ll be some differences and surprises.
 
I like the voice acting of several dolls, especially Suigin Tou (Rie Tanaka), Suisei Seki (Natsuko Kuwatani) and Shinku (Miyuki Sawashiro). They sound quite unique and fits nicely and perfectly with the characters they play. The character development is also quite well done as you could see the characters grow over time. Probably because of the drawing and art of the dolls, maybe that’s why the animation looks good. Uh-huh. Good character designs too. I like it when the characters go into chibi mode. They’re quite funny themselves and they look cute.
 
Another thing I like about this series is the amazing background music and soundtrack. Yup, it boasts several nice tunes each fitting the theme and mood of the scene perfectly. From fast paced and exciting battle themes (eg- Battle Of Rose and Shukuteki are my favourites) to more solemn and slow pieces (eg- Atatakana Kokoro and Hyoukai), and even funky and ‘cute’ ones (eg- Komatta Shumi and Funny Dolls), or just plain eerie (eg- Kurayami Yori Kitaru Mono Kita and Nightmare). There’re quite a variety of them here using various sorts of instruments from violin strings to electric guitar, flutes to assortment of bells, piano solos and even the harpsichord to give that Victorian era feel.
 
And that’s just the original soundtrack. There are other albums ranging from the opening and ending singles, drama CD and even character image albums for the Rozen Maiden dolls. Speaking of opening and ending themes, I find that all the series openings, which is sung by Ali Project, to sound a little hyped up and ‘naughty/playful’. No, not as in the words or lyrics, but rather the tune of the song. Maybe it’s the way they sing it. Likewise, all the ending themes are sung by Kukui, though I don’t quite enjoy them as much even though they don’t sound that hyped up.
 
If you can’t get enough of Rozen Maidens, there’re several games of it released since 2006. But I’m guessing it’s gonna be a fighting game. Hey, it can’t be like those Barbie game for little girls whereby you choose what clothes to wear for your Barbie Doll, right? Another thing is, the titles of the episodes are in German as well as Japanese kanji. So without the help of the fansubs, I wouldn’t have known what they really mean. Okay, I could’ve guessed them since some German and English words are almost similar in spelling with some variations here and there.
 
So if you catch me playing with a Rozen Maiden doll (if I ever own one), don’t go saying "Hey, aren’t you way pass your age to be playing those?" because there’s a kid in all of us. Umm… Maybe that’s got nothing to do with it. Besides, I’m still thinking of which doll I prefer to become a medium with. Suigin Tou… Yeah, maybe but then… Perhaps it’s better not to make a contract with anyone of them. Hmm… Maybe there’s an 8th Rozen Maiden doll out there unknown to everyone. Now, swear to me on this rose ring.

With the internet age these days, almost anything is possible. Not only that. Almost everybody can have access to it too, whether you’re a net addict, tech savvy or just a beginner, as long as you have a computer and internet connection to the outside world, you can go anywhere and get any information just at a click of the mouse.
 
For those computer nerds and hackers out there, there’s even an anime made about it. Well sort of. It’s called Battle Programmer Shirase. It’s about this guy, Akira Shirase AKA BPS, who has that sleepy look (and probably looks a bit like Haruka from Love Hina). But don’t be fooled by his outer appearance. That’s because he’s a damn bloody good hacker! Yes, that’s his job too. He’s quite talented, superior, first-class (maybe all these words aren’t enough to justify his ‘terror-ness’) in computers and programming. Just how good is he? You’ll find out about it later. But let me give you an idea. If you ever piss him off, you’re gonna find your bank account balance zero the next day and police arriving with warrants for your arrest. But you won’t see this dark side happening in the series.
 
Though there are 15 episodes in this 10-12 minute series, the story arc of each episodes are divided into 3 episodes. Meaning that there are a total of 5 episodes if you want to look at it this way. Also, since there aren’t really technical or confusing terminologies and stuffs explained, so I guess normal people like you and me can get by and enjoy this series. I mean it’s suppose to be a comedy with a little drama. And there’s a teensy weensy bit of ecchi element as well. Don’t worry. It’s not that bad. Just probably for some laughs, that’s all.
 
So in the first storyline episodes 1-3, introduces our sleepyhead Shirase and several other characters. We see some fat chubby guy called Rintarou Oze or better known as King Of America having a huge crate of something being delivered to his house. From first looks, this guy looks like your would-be antagonist of the series. Yeah, this guy’s a hacker too and is causing some havoc over the internet. I don’t really understand what that rabbit like icon dancing over the screen really means but it was enough to make that whoever lady employee jump a little.
 
Then back at some Chinese restaurant, an employee of Abin Electronics, Kaoru Akizuki manages to find Shirase busy doing whatever with his laptop there. And after some warning from the storekeeper about pissing him off, Akizuki tries his best to talk to Shirase about some job offer. However, Shirase told him that he’s not interested in the money and is not doing any job for it either. Since Akizuki knows of this, he hands him some discontinued X68 series doujinshi SCSI card. After which, Shirase immediately accepts the offer. So this Shirase guy is into all this novelty things.
 
Back at Shirase’s apartment, while he’s sleeping, we see his niece, Misao Amano, coming over to do certain errands for him like cooking. Misao’s a really cute, sweet, loveable and shy girl who likes to say ‘mau mau’ sometimes. Whatever that means. I’m not sure about the explanations about Shirase (something about Misao’s mother’s aunt younger brother. Confusing) but it ended up like even though Shirase looks young enough to be Misao’s uncle, Misao calls and refers to him as her big brother. Yeah, he looks more like one too. And I’m beginning to think that Shirase’s a little pervert too. I mean, while Misao’s standing on some stool while cooking (because she’s too short), Shirase tries to peek under her skirt from where he’s lying but when Misao turned to greet him, Shirase just rolled over and make as though he’s just getting up. But don’t worry, he’s pervertness is kinda ‘passive’.
 
Just then some short earthquake begins to shake the apartment and Misao and Shirase tripped because of those messy books scattered on the floor. Akizuki then suddenly comes in and wants to talk things with Shirase but to his shock he finds Shirase and Misao in a compromising position. He thinks it’s a new sex position called ‘high hip position’! Then in his shock, he’s ranting to himself that he can’t believe it that it can’t be that the person he’s dealing with is doing an obscene scene with a minor, and if it was himself, he’d prefer woman with larger boobs like the popular actress Isabella Adjanne, but since Shirase’s the only one who can do the job, he’s thinking of what he should do, that is to act like he was never here and that he must take super regulatory measures to safeguard whoever he’s thinking off. And he’s really in a dilemma and panic but he calms down quickly when he says "I’ll pretend that I didn’t see anything". This is followed by laughter from the audience like as though we’re watching a live sitcom. Yeah, real funny.
 
But while Akizuki’s ranting, Misao and Shirase had already recomposed themselves and the former already left. So Akizuki takes Shirase in his car and shows him a threat letter from a company called Callatech Company. The letter states that some super computer has been taken because he brought something from the company but that product failed to work and it pissed him off. So now he’s gonna use this computer and do some bad stuffs with it like sending some ‘I Love You’ virus and bring havoc unless they bring back that X68 computer series again.
 
Since the deadline is today, Akizuki tells Shirase that his job is to destroy that super computer. But before you know it, some blast occurs at the Abin Electronics headquarters which freaks Akizuki out. I’m not sure about what Shirase explained, but it’s something about using some virus to overload the power which causes the explosion. Since Shirase forgot to bring his laptop, how is he gonna counter this threat? He borrowed Akizuki’s handphone. And this is how good Shirase is. He’s writing some defensive programme using a handphone! Wow! Is that even possible? He’s doing it so well that even The King Of America can’t counter it, every move he make is blocked or restricted. He’s in shock and surprise (so am I) that there’s a bloody good hacker other than him. Because Rintarou’s under attack too, his computer can’t cool down fast enough, overloads and explodes. Rintarou thinks that there’s only 1 person who could do such an attack, and that is BPS and he can’t wait to do it again with him but his computer further explodes.
 
Once done, Shirase toss Akizuki’s handphone back to him. And the handphone’s pretty hot. I’m surprise that it didn’t melt. With that, Shirase just walks away and says the rest is up to him now. Yeah, Akizuki’s just standing there stunned. Back at Shirase’s apartment, he’s going to go to sleep after a tiring day when Misao’s in making his dinner. It seems that Misao doesn’t know what Shirase really does. And when she asks, Shirase just replies some computer related job. Soon Misao leaves for her own home for dinner while Shirase just continues sleeping.
 
So the rest of the episodes follow a somewhat similar pattern. Some sort of crisis and Shirase is needed. Then there’s this Akizuki guy whom I thought is the same person but having different job posts each time. Then I read many viewers think that he’s a different person but with the same look and name. I guess it makes more sense like this. Anyway Akizuki would barge in to see Shirase but always ended up having to see Shirase and Misao (or some other young girl) in a compromising new sex position and would do his usual ranting and super regulatory measures. Then off Shirase and Akizuki go to the scene. With some new minor characters and after some drama and little suspense, everything ends well. It’s all so predictable. Sort of.
 
Well, in episodes 4-6, it’s a hot summer and Misao’s school is going for a 2 day visit at the beach and she’s at Shirase’s apartment going to show off her swimsuit under her dress. While halfway pulling up her dress, Akizuki, from the Coastal Guard Agency, barges in and the sexual context this time is school swimsuit play with an additional option costing 7000 Yen. Whatever that means. Anyway Akizuki’s here to tell him about some ship which washed up ashore near some Honshu island but that ship is carrying some weapons-grade plutonium. Efforts to retrieve it has been futile and it seems there’s some hacker who knew about this and has hacked into the Defense Agency computers. Plus, some mysterious boat has entered the country and doing suspicious things. To make things worse, other countries have misinterpreted this info as well. Now that’s a lot of crisis going on and possibly a bigger one looming.
 
So Shirase’s job this time is to help defend their network and prevent any leak of information. So if Shirase isn’t gonna accept money as his payment, what novelty will he accept this time? Some rare LD-ROM with serial interface from Pioneer which has stopped production ages ago. I guess this kind of things really makes Shirase’s mouth water. Meanwhile, it seems Rintarou’s behind all this as well as he and his assistant, Hideki, are discussing over their plans at the former’s residence like how they got the ship’s location and hacked the satellite they used to relay fake coordinates which made the ship washed up ashore. And during the confusion, they’ll take the cargo and sell it to the highest bidder. Looks like he’s up to his tricks again and that previous failure didn’t deter him.
 
Meanwhile at the beach, Misao’s teacher, Tae Motoki is getting all excited and hyped out about the trip. She’s organizing some test of courage tonight and it has to be a boy-girl pair because it’s the ‘season of love’. Must be embarrassing to have such a teacher. That night, Misao didn’t have a partner and tells Motoki about it. And I think Motoki’s trying to play matchmaking as well as she decides to pair up Misao with a middle-school soccer player guy, Jou Kawahara. She even says to Misao that he’s quite popular with the girls. Haih… So the next day, after some talk with Misao, I think she even tries to set them both to meet up. So Misao and Kawahara met on some rock and talk about things like how Kawahara parents died in an accident 2 years ago and his sis is taking care of him and how he wants to hold his own. I guess the 2 are starting to like each other. I mean, nothing conclusive but the occasional blushing here and there may indicate otherwise. It seems they took their sweet time talking because the tide has covered their path back to shore. Now they’re stranded together.
 
At the same time, Shirase and Akizuki are at the control room and their radar have picked up an unidentified ship entering the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Shirase’s looking bored as he watches the satellite monitor. But suddenly he spots Misao with some other guy on the screen and he gets all fired up. Yeah you could see his fire aura. He’s turning a deaf ear to what Akizuki has to say about the ship closing in on them. But Shirase soon came to his senses and before you know it, he’s already operating several pcs and keyboards. I think he can’t help looking at that guy with Misao on the screen. Is he worried for her or jealous that she’s with someone else besides her onii-chan.
 
Because it’s getting stormy, the power to the lighthouse is cut and the mysterious ship is picking up speed. Like out of convenience one of the thick cables of the power grid snapped and this allowed Kawahara to use it as a rope as he slowly traverse back to shore with Misao holding on to him. Shirase tells Akizuki that he plans to reroute some abandoned satellite and send it crashing into the ocean where that mysterious ship is. And he calls it "Meteoric Three Sisters". I don’t really understand his explanation about it about some burning up thing when it enters orbit. But when the crew of the mysterious ship saw it coming at them, they panic and tried to go faster (of course cannot lah) but the satellite crashed directly on them. Wow. This Shirase is really something.
 
Kawahara and Misao have safely arrived back on land with Motoki there as they watch that ‘beautiful phenomenon’ caused by the satellite’s crash. And that Motoki is sneakily grinning to herself because she saw how those 2 lovebirds are holding each other’s hands. She must have misinterpreted the situation. Back at Rintarou’s office, he’s reading on the news on the internet about some boat being capsized and all the crew being taken in by the Coast Guard Agency and wonders if BPS has had him again. Then his employer comes in to say that his term is over and that he can return to Japan. So this guy’s working from overseas? Didn’t know that. But Rintarou says he’s got 6 months left. Then as a tired Shirase returned to his apartment, Misao’s back from the school trip and tells him about how she got stranded and her senpai saved her and all those stuffs. But it seems Shirase’s pretty unperturbed by it all. Is he over it?
 
Episodes 7-9 starts off with Shirase in some control room talking to Major Akizuki of the National Guard from the Ballistics Division, telling him how somebody is planning to detonate some hidden nuclear warhead in the stratosphere which can create a powerful electromagnetic pulse that will destroy all sorts of electronics on land from consoles to players. And it seems somebody’s hacking into their system and the programme is being rewritten as they speak. So Shirase did some programming and mentions that he’s currently being spied on and from the way the code was put together, Shirase thinks it’s a female programmer.
 
Soon a female voice identifying herself as Major Yuriko Yunoki from the US Intelligence Navy and Information Technology Division intervenes saying that this problem is no longer Japan’s alone as it concerns the whole world and asks them for their source code of their system. Akizuki has no choice but to help them. After all that and since Shirase says that the info has been leaked out (much to Akizuki’s dismay) he’s asking if he can have his payment now, 3 platinum tickets to the Fuji Training Ground Military Firepower Exhibition which is unavailable to the public. Akizuki’s down on his knees and Shirase wonders if he wants a ticket as well.
 
Meanwhile back at Yuriko’s side, she has successfully quelled the threat. We see Yuriko is actually a kid! Yeah, a little genius. She wonders if there’s another person of her calibre across the Pacific and says to her vice admiral that she needs to take leave to deal with something little. Before you know it, Yuriko’s a transfer student in the same class as Misao! Talk about the Intelligence pulling strings. Soon she made friends with Misao and the 2 become like best pals. Looks like Yuriko’s doing some undercover work to get to the famed BPS. And back at Shirase’s apartment, Misao’s telling him how she made friends with the super intelligent Yuriko who has memorized every single line in all of her textbooks. Those stuffs must be child’s play for Yuriko.
 
The next day, Shirase’s at the city when he bumps into his old professor, Hayashi. The 2 had some chat over things at a cafe like the recent incident where the US Navy Intervened and that of all the recent cyber-terrorism there’s 1 organization which seems to stand out. Also we find out a bit like Shirase’s supposedly to be part of MPS, I think. Probably it’s some programming group or what. And then something about Ultra Network which Hayashi says somebody is holding back its creation. But let’s just leave it all there.
 
On the way back, Shirase bumps into Misao and Yuriko and Misao took the opportunity to introduce Yuriko to her. Though Yuriko maintains her cover but in her mind she’s been doing some analytical stuffs like how she notice Misao to be more talkative when she’s near this guy and why is this guy so ‘weak’ and agreeing to everything Misao says. Yuriko concludes that BPS may have feelings for Misao and even innocently teases Misao that he may be her boyfriend. Of course Misao blushes and says it’s her onii-chan. Back inside Shirase’s apartment while Misao does some cooking, Yuriko decides to ‘flirt’ with Shirase by coming up to his back while he’s at his computers. And she’s giving him hints about the recent US intervention and how the security programme he made was amazing, how artistic and arousing it was so much so it made her wet just by reading as she gets ‘physical’ and closer with him. And Yuriko’s seemingly gonna kiss him when Misao came in and saw. But Yuriko coolly withdraws and says she’ll help her with her cooking. And off they went. Misao doesn’t seem perturbed by it but Shirase’s in shock.
 
Later that evening, Shirase and Yuriko had their private chat. It seems Yuriko has done some background check on him and knows a lot about him like how when Shirase’s a teenage hacker, he hacked into 10 super computers and won the Worldwide Programming Deathmatch for 3 straight years. Wow. That’s really something. To cut things short, Yuriko’s here because she wants to find a partner who can work with her and bring out the best ability in her. And since Shirase’s too old for her (meaning to be her boyfriend lah), she wonders if he could be her partner (as in work colleague lah). Though she doesn’t need an answer right away, she asks him to think about it.
 
Suddenly Akizuki arrives in a helicopter. Because the helicopter’s winds were too strong, Shirase tried to shield Yuriko from it. You’re wondering where that misinterpreted sex part is right? Well, here it is. This time Akizuki thinks it’s some Doggy-style position. After he finishes his ranting, Akizuki gives Yuriko a phone with her vice admiral on the other line. He’s telling her that there’s an emergency because the company that they blocked a few days ago has succeeded in breaking through their first security wall and the hackers have hired an external hacker group too. And off Yuriko goes alone as she leaves Shirase and Akizuki behind.
 
Back at her base (which reminds me like those mecha operating cockpit) Yuriko and several of her other female officers are countering the threat. It seems Rintarou’s got a hand in this as well as he receives a call from Hideki reporting about some Japanese missile silo and the attack of several servers simultaneously. And it looks like they’re being hired to do the job but Hideki’s telling him that their employers are asking for a discount as they don’t feel like paying the full amount. Cheapskates. Rintarou then asks him to tell those guys to immediately transfer the remaining amount to their bank account. And what’s this guy thinking about getting some potato peeler from some sale on the way back. Is he serious?
 
Meanwhile Yuriko’s having a hard time countering the attack when she receives a message from BPS saying that why not they start out as real friends instead of partners. With that, Yuriko got her confidence back and knew what to do. Soon the threat is taken care of and we see Akizuki thanking Shirase back at the control room for his help. Later, Yuriko’s packing her bags and saying goodbye to Misao and Shirase. After thanking Shirase for that email, Yuriko pecks Shirase on his cheek, shocking both Misao and Shirase himself. Yuriko says it’s a normal greeting in US and will give one to Misao too. Yeah, the way they show it here looked a little yuri. Yuri Yuriko. Just kidding. As Yuriko leaves in her taxi, Misao tells Shirase how she wants to become like Yuriko but Shirase tells her that she’s fine the way she is now. Is that suppose to be sarcastic or what?
 
Episodes 10-12 sees Shirase in a different kind of crisis. How different is it? Well, Shirase’s getting engaged! And it’s Motoki! It started out when Misao’s asking Motoki that she’s quite busy with her personal stuff this coming Sunday and this prompts Motoki to ask Misao if she has someone she likes. Of course Motoki drops the subject and wonders about some marriage interview. Later that night, after Shirase sees off his university buddies, he saw Motoki sleeping on the road behind some truck! Yeah, she’s drunk alright. The 2 had some chat like how Motoki is from the same high school club with Shirase and is his lowerclassmen and she never knew Shirase’s living around this area. Then of course Shirase brought up that are you married line but because Motoki’s real drunk she didn’t really give a direct answer and decides to go home. Yeah, she ‘stole’ a policeman’s bicycle that was parked nearby and rode it home.
 
Meanwhile we see Rintarou having a conversation over the phone playing at some golf course (does he really have that much free time?). Something about because some heir to a large fortune wants to get married right away, Rintarou’s thinking of helping this guy out. You know why lah. He tells Hideki to get started right away. Hmm… This guy’s thinking of getting married himself. Fat chance.
 
Back at Shirase’s apartment, he’s surprised to see Misao there and his elderly mom! After all that ‘lecturing’ she says that she has arranged a marriage interview for Shirase tomorrow morning and tells him not to be late, much to Shirase’s dismay. The next day at some hotel, both parties met and this time Akizuki is some first class wedding conciliator. Shirase looks ‘out of place’ in his white suit. Shirase’s mom tells Misao that she must’ve been thirsty and gives her some money to go buy some drinks, which Shirase follows her. At the vending machine, Misao’s wondering if she’s a little taller… Looks like it’s more than just an onii-chan complex. Though Shirase compliments how great those clothes suit Misao, the announcement calls for him to go to the conference room.
 
But instead of going, Shirase’s sulking alone in some room when Misao comes in. She tries to tell him to go but Shirase’s just giving some excuse not to go and even asks Misao to tell the rest that some coolant pipes exploded and its radiation leaked on him. This guy… Then I’m not really sure what came over Misao, she just felt weird and proceeds to hug Shirase and tells him to stay here. It seems like she’s in love with him but she just doesn’t know. Then Akizuki barges in. You know what this means. Because Misao is relatively short, Akizuki misinterprets the sex position as shakuhachi (bamboo flute blowing… ahem ahem). After his usual ranting, he tells Shirase about some threat and a letter from King Of America saying how he has some Super Low Voltage Electromagnetic Brain Wave technology which will forcefully bring a man and a woman together. Also known as High Aphrodisiac System (HAS), it seems this hotel has been given the ‘honour’ as the system’s test subject. In return he’ll make this hotel known worldwide and will soon forward the invoice to him. What the? Nobody asked him in the first place.
 
Akizuki also tells him that ever since that mail came, lots of strange things have been happening like how people just declared their love for each other suddenly. And since the bridal market is a competitive market, Akizuki can’t just close it temporarily. This guy’s also thinking about money. But since Shirase isn’t, Akizuki gives him some life size pillow cover of some bishoujo as payment. I know, Shirase’s a little pervert. So hackers aren’t really 100% into computers the whole time. Soon, Shirase and Motoki meet and learn that they’re engaged to each other. While Akizuki leads the group to the room, he and Shirase are whispering about the threat and doing some analytical thinking which I didn’t quite understand. Hmm… Looks like Yuriko is on this case too but decides to back down a while. Then back at Rintarou’s home, he and Hideki are discussing things like how great it is to remotely control people’s minds and such. And that ‘2 people always getting stuck in the elevator which happens in the manga all the time’ punch line from Rintarou.
 
So Shirase and Motoki along with their family continued their marriage interview when Akizuki informs them about their meal is ready and they could proceed there for lunch. Shirase and Motoki were slow and was following behind the group when the shutters suddenly came down, separating the group with Shirase and Motoki alone together. The both of them needed to get out so they took an elevator nearby. Halfway through, the elevator stopped. Is this the punch line said by Rintarou earlier on? Inside the elevator we see a flashback during Shirase and Motoki’s high school days. Yeah, Motoki’s bashing up some guys who’s picking on Shirase.
 
It seems Yuriko’s receiving some report about Shirase’s marriage interview when her transmission becomes unclear. Yuriko thinks they’ve been spiked and goes into action. At the same time, Motoki’s getting a little lovey-dovey with Shirase in the elevator as she snuggles up close to him. Shirase’s just standing there. Soon Shirase receives an SMS from Yuriko saying that his image is being monitored by hackers and she’s here to repay her debt. Yuriko’s overloading Rintarou’s computer with whatever Microwave Buster Virus which turns electronic equipment into a microwave and it’ll fry all the hardware burn them all to death. They better get out fast. Their computer’s crashing and they have no time to back up all the data. The 2 manage to rush out of the house in time before everything in it goes kaboom. Yeah, that’s the last you’ll see of this 2 blokes. Maybe they’ve had enough already. Come to think of it, Rintarou and Shirase never really did meet face to face.
 
Soon the technicians manage to get Shirase and Motoki out of the elevator and a worried and teary Misao instantly hugs Shirase. Motoki notes it was pointless after all. So was that act in the elevator for real and not because of that HAS system? Dunno. The next morning at school, Motoki and Misao greets each other with the former just saying "Let’s do out best". So I guess the marriage interview is put off, huh?
 
Episodes 13-15 begins with a mysterious lady sipping tea in her car outside the Chinese restaurant before winding up her window and leaves. Now Akizuki’s an inspector from the police precinct. He instantly tells Shirase there that he’s being targeted. The scene then changes with Shirase waking up and then taking some train to his part time job at some local software company. He still needs to support himself, right? I mean it’s ironic that he does all those hacking jobs without doing it for the money but he ends up not too financially well off. Probably he isn’t a good planner. So after getting some can drink from the vending machine, he went upstairs to see a pretty lady in tight clothes in front of him carrying lots of stuff. Because of that, she fall backwards and crashes onto Shirase below. After much apologizing, she introduces herself as Saki Kawahara and when she finds out that he’s a computer worker, she gets excited and wants him to teach her computer stuffs.
 
Meanwhile in school, one of Misao’s friend, Sakamoto, is asking her to join some cheerleading team for their school’s football team match, which she agrees. Back at Shirase’s apartment, Misao’s telling her about her in the cheerleading team and wonders if he could come and watch. Shirase replies that he’s busy on that day because he’s giving some computer lessons. Misao then says he won’t get to see her in her mini skirt then. This made him think about changing the date of the lesson. But Shirase soon receives a call from Saki and the conversation seemed ‘friendly’. Enough to make Misao a little jealous. She thinks it’s his girlfriend. Yeah, she’s really jealous. Shirase tries to explain but Misao thinks of going home. As Shirase tries to grab Misao from the back, Akizuki barges in. Yeah, you might have guessed it already. I don’t really know how Shirase and Misao ended up in that ‘rear seated position’. You should have a look at it yourself if you want to know what I mean.
 
After he’s done ranting, Akizuki discusses with Shirase privately and tells him that many skilled engineers have been disappearing lately across Japan by some organization. And the only clue they have is that the victims are usually approached by some person, which is coincidental as well. Akizuki thinks that Shirase may be the next target because BPS is quite a famous name in the hacker’s world. So Akizuki wants Shirase to stay home and will be paid to do so. But it’s not with money, rather some FPP1110 tenth version Ultra High Speed inverted type RAM board. That’s enough to make Shirase decide, don’t it? Akizuki then asks him whether he has recently met someone coincidentally and possible a woman. That idiot Shirase looks at his calendar and says "Nope". Is he the forgetful type or is he trying to protect that Saki girl?
 
So the next day we see Shirase at some store trying to buy some self defence materials like some magnesium balls which blinds one’s opponents and allows the victim to runaway. At school, Misao’s practicing her cheerleading when a football hits her. Since it’s from Kawahara, he went to apologize to her while Misao’s cleaning up herself. So some talk about doing your best too here and there, which prompts that busybody Sakamoto who’s eavesdropping to think that Misao and Kawahara’s an item. Yeah, that grin tells it all. Meanwhile, Shirase’s at Saki’s doorstep and he’s thinking that it might be a trap but it’s unlikely that she can pull it off. But he’s got his magnesium balls as a precaution in his pocket.
 
Saki invites Shirase in and she looks quite excited and looking forward to their time there. So much so that Saki’s getting quite close with him and Shirase’s feeling panic. Anyway Saki’s telling him that she has told her friend about him and that friend insisted on coming to see him. Soon her friend, Misaki, comes in enthusiastically. Oh gawd! Another transvestite! And with all those face powder he looks like some wrestler with that size. Misaki who works in the same store with Saki, proceeds to hug Shirase (is that a wrestling move?). And it seems Shirase’s regretting that he should’ve gone to see Misao’s cheerleading. Shirase then noticed his magnesium balls are missing. Misaki then holds it in is hands and says is this what he’s looking for as she takes off her fur coat revealing his sexy leather suit (looks unfittingly horrible). To cut things short, he’s here to kidnap Shirase. Then this funny line when Misaki’s telling how Shirase has the mental capacity to extract the song real time into MP3 data when he just listens to music. Saki then replies "I don’t really understand it, but it sounds amazing just because I don’t understand it". Hahaha.
 
Misaki’s thanking Saki that she saved him the trouble for finding him and asks Shirase to come follow him now. Then Misaki whips out a gun and plans to shoot Saki as he can’t possibly leave any witnesses, much to Saki’s horror. Yeah, Saki’s ranting how she’s not even married or have kids yet. Shirase after seeing a teary Saki, then just press a button on the laptop nearby which overloads the power socket. Because Misaki’s stepping on some wires, he got a little electric shock and drops the gun. What the? Can he do that in a single push of a button? Maybe I should just leave this to the experts. By the time Akizuki and 2 police officers arrive, Misaki throws the magnesium balls and she disappeared along with Shirase and Saki.
 
Before I continue on the last episode, I’d like to mention some ‘teaser’ said by the narrator at the beginning of the last episode which goes "To those who enjoyed the show on tv and to those outside the broadcast area who took special measures to watch the show on their pc monitors, and to everyone who watched it subtitled overseas without permission, the head director Hayashi Hiroki representing the entire staff would like to say… I’m really sorry". Yeah, how funny and true. Looks like I’m part of the statistics as well. Maybe it’s their way of saying thank you.
 
Back to the story, Shirase and Saki are being tied up in some helicopter. While Misaki’s blabbing not to move or he’ll kill them, Shirase’s asking Saki if she has a handphone and could borrow it. Since it’s in Saki’s pocket, it seems Shirase’s molesting her! Is Saki embarrassed or enjoying it? Wah! Saki’s mind must be running wild about the misconceptions. Because they’re too ‘noisy’, Misaki’s wonders what’s going on but Shirase just says that his butt itchy. Eventually, Shirase manages to get Saki’s handphone and just like a pro (yeah, he’s doing it without looking at the handphone screen and with only 1 hand!) he did donno some typing to hack some satellite and inform some other parties about their current location. And it seems Misaki find out that the ship that he’s bringing them too has already been quarantined by the Coast Guard and everybody there’s safe. Yeah, Shirase even ‘hijacked’ the helicopter’s communication system as he and Akizuki try to communicate with each other but Misaki soon shuts it off.
 
Shirase then asks Misaki who is he taking orders from. Misaki’s gonna tell him but the helicopter’s pilot interrupts and says that Misaki’s untrustworthy and that the organization doesn’t need such people and stabs Misaki’s neck with some injection needle! Don’t worry. Misaki ain’t dead. He’s just gonna lose his memory from the last 10 years. It is revealed that the pilot is MPS principal Miura. Seems that Miura and Shirase know each other. Miura’s complementing Shirase’s skills which hasn’t got rusty over the years. From the way he said things, looks like Miura wants him to come join him as he also mentions Mika who’s waiting for him. Who’s that person? If I think carefully, it must be that shadowy figure in the opening sequence (the only character which I can’t put my finger on) and possibly that lady sipping tea in the car.
 
Miura soon parachutes himself out of the helicopter and says that the auto pilot will automatically land them safely, though it’s gonna be a rough one. Akizuki arrives at the scene and to his shock saw Shirase in a ’69 position’ with Saki on top and Shirase’s hands on her butt. Well, at least Akizuki didn’t go on about his usual ranting. Maybe once is more than enough. Back at Misao’s school, she and her cheerleading team are cheering on their school football’s team. After the game, she and Kawahara had a little chat. And we see all those busybodies from Motoki to Sakamoto and even her cheerleading buddies snickering from behind. But that shy Misao didn’t do anything and just stood there.
 
Kawahara comes back to his apartment and we see that he and Saki are siblings. Actually I’ve already guessed it when Saki was introduced because of their surname. Did you? Saki’s getting all excited and telling her little bro how she’s met the man of her dreams. Uh-huh. Then back at Shirase’s apartment, he’s dog tired and sleeping when Misao came in with a blanket draped over her. She says she’s gonna show him her cute uniform and reveals it. Then that perverted Shirase suddenly sprung out from his sleep and hastily tried to switch on the lights to get a good look. By the time he does, Misao already covered herself back. Too bad. Shirase’s regretting that he should’ve come and watch her cheerleading.
 
So does it really all end here. Well, this is another funny part. It seems the narrator says something about the story shall be told again once again when they have a chance to do so and the next time he’ll give you even more. And at the very last screen we see a statement from Misao asking viewers to buy a DVD box set for BPS and all the proceeds from this will allow the company to produce a second season of BPS. But since this is a year 2003 production and no word has been said about the second season since, I guess everybody didn’t buy the DVD box set. Hahaha. How ironic. Looks like not enough budget to do so. Sorry Misao, we can’t see you again soon.
 
Overall, I guess this short anime is rather okay. Because I’m not a technical computer geek, I can’t really tell whether those moves from Shirase are really possible or is that usual Japanese anime exaggeration. But I suppose it’s pretty cool. The other characters are quite okay as well. Just enough for the storyline. Of course since they had planned for a second season, some characters felt ‘insufficient’.
 
One thing I like is the opening theme song, Suddenly, sung by Naomi Amagata. It’s sorta sounds like a dance song and it manage to make me get up and dance and do a little jiggle. Or at least shuffle my feet. The ending theme song Pure Enough, by Yuuki Matsura is your typical hyped pop song, with the opening lines going "La la la la la la la". Both the opening and ending credits uses cell shading kinda drawing which looks a little different and refreshing because I’ve seen too many of those typical Japanese anime drawings.
 
The next time you’ve got a computer crisis, you know who to call, right? If you can get hold of him, that is. And that Shirase guy has to start taking some money as his payment or he’ll forever be living in poverty. But to each his own. I wonder what he does with all those rare novelties. Maybe he just likes to keep it as his personal collection. But since he’s asleep most of the time, I’m thinking he has hardly the time to even look and admire them.