Suigin Tou

November 24, 2007

Okay, I have a confession to make. I’ve been trying to surpress or keep it a secret (or rather be in a state of denial) but I guess I couldn’t hold it any longer. See, there’s a new anime bishoujo that I’ve fallen head over heels for quite a while now (Gasp!). Actually… Actually… I’M IN LOVE WITH SUIGIN TOU OF ROZEN MAIDEN!!!
 
There I’ve said it now. This doesn’t mean that I’ve ditched my previous first love Mai Tokiha away yet. Oh please understand Mai, before you scream and call me a bloody traitor (or even start throwing plates and stones), hear me out first, pretty please. You know guys like me, this may just be a passing thing. My love for Mai Tokiha wil always be eternal. But till then, I need to get this off my chest first. Maybe it won’t make you feel any better, but it does a little for me. Somehow I’ve fallen into her mystical charms.
 
So below are a few pictures to ‘show’ and dedicate to my current love, Suigin Tou. Wait, Mai. What’s that evil aura and look in your eyes? Isn’t that Kagutsuchi with you? Why is his mouth full of fire as though he’s gonna blast somebody. Umm… I think that somebody is me. WAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!! (Enjoy the images while you’re at it).
 
 Suigin Tou 2
TRADEMARK DRESS… Suigin Tou looking lovely in that black gothic dress of hers.
 
Suigin Tou 1
NOT A CHINA DOLL… Another lovely pose from Suigin Tou.
 
Suigin Tou 3 
PLEDGE TO ME ON MY ROSA MYSTICA… Don’t mess with me, I’m not junk.
 
 Suigin Tou 7
IT’S A SIN TO BE BEAUTIFUL… Don’t hate me because I’m pretty.
 
 Suigin Tou 5
LOOKING GOOD… Who says you can’t be evil and look good at the same time.
 
Suigin Tou 8 
WHAT’CHA LOOKING AT… Stare and admire me for all you want.
 
Suigin Tou 9 
A CUT ABOVE THE REST… I’ll snip off your head if you say I’m second best.
 
 Suigin Tou 11
WELCOME TO MY WORLD… Come and join the dark side.
 
 Suigin Tou 12
BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL… Suigin Tou looking as stunning as ever with her arms crossed.
 
 Suigin Tou 4
HERE COMES THE ANGEL OF DEATH… Death has never come and been this gorgeous before.
 
 Suigin Tou 10
MERCURY LAMPE… What’s a girl like me to do on a boring day?
 
Suigin Tou 14 
WOULD YOU CARE TO BE MY MEDIUM… Why, I would gladly even be your servant and slave.
 
Suigin Tou 13 
A GUST OF WIND BLOWING THROUGH… A sideway profile of Suigin Tou.
 
 Suigin Tou 15
ALICE IN N-FIELD LAND… The battle to become Alice won’t be as easy as it seems.
 
Suigin Tou 6 
SMILE… Even a girl like her has her gentle and tender side.

 
Phew. Now with that over, I can finally have some peace of mind. Oh, Suigin Tou, wherever you are, please let me be your medium. Ditch that death-enthusiast Megu and I’ll gladly get rid of her and even Shinku at your command. Since I’m not sure how long I’ll be captivated and fascinated with Suigin Tou, but as long as I still am, might as well say this too. SUIGIN TOU DAISUKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Red heart
 
While I’m at it, you can spank me all you want, Mai. I know love hurts. But it never hurt so good before. Ouch.

Honey vs Momiji

November 23, 2007

You know, there’s something strange about these 2 anime characters so much so I think one copied the other. Or maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions. I’m talking about Mitsukuni "Honey" Honinozuka of Ouran High School Host Club and Momiji Souma of Fruits Basket. Now, people who have watched both animes would at least to a certain degree agree with me, right?
 
I mean, they’re both little boys who don’t look like how they should at their age and they have something to do with rabbits. And no, this has nothing to do with the mascot for the Playboy magazine. Not only that, the seiyuu or voice actress who provides the voice for these 2 characters is actually the same person. Yup, she’s Ayaka Saito who is also the voice behind Pyun of Dai Mahou Touge. Even though they are similar, I’m sure they have some differences too or else why in the world would they make a same character for a totally different series, right?
 
Age
These 2 guys are actually older than they seem. Because of that, they have that lolita charm on most people who look at them.
Honey: 18 years old
Momiji: 16 years old
 
Height
More importantly, if you like a kid during your teenage years, it has something to do with your height too, right? You won”t be Michael Jordon or the tallest man in the world.
Honey: 145cm (4 feet 9 inches)
Momiji: 155.8cm (5 feet 1 inch)
Hmm… Ironically, Momiji who is younger seems to be taller than Honey. So this shows that height has got nothing to do with age.
 
Bloodtype
Honey: AB type
Momiji: O type
 
Hair and eye colour
Honey: Blond and brown
Momiji: Blond and brown
Hmm… The same hair and eye colour. I’m thinking are they the same person but in alternate universe? Nah.
 
Zodiac
Honey: Pisces
Momiji: Pisces
Hmm… The same zodiac sign too. They could be the same person in alternate universe? Nah.
 
Personality
Refers to the general behaviour of the character.
Honey: Because of his lolita complex, he is quite charming, bubbly and outgoing. Loves giving people hugs and is always seen carrying his bunny stuffed toy Usa-chan. However, Honey has a mean side to him when he is deprieved of what he loves most. Overall, Honey is still a lively and cheerful boy whom everyone loves to adore.
Momiji: Though he always appear to be carefree and happy, he is trying to hide his painful past. Doesn’t really act his age and is sometimes childish. Prefers to wear girl’s uniform when he goes to school as he thinks he looks cute in it. I think he’ll look cute in almost any clothes. Overall, Momiji is still kind, caring, gentle and adorable person he is.
 
Favourite food
Honey: Sweets, pastries, cakes and candies
Momiji: Junk food, pastries, lollipops and sweets
Even what they love to eat seems awfully similar…
 
School
Refers to the school that they attend to.
Honey: Ouran High School, 3rd year student
Momiji: Kaibara High School, 1st year student
 
Transformation
Like how Bruce Banner becomes the Incredible Hulk. Just kidding. The boys don’t always look like the 10 year old kid they always do. What do I mean?
Honey: When abruptly awaken from his beauty sleep, Honey will become a monster (not turn into 1 physically) and will go on a rage. Let sleeping dogs (or rather rabbits) lie.
Momiji: When hugged by a person of the opposite sex (a girl, that is), Momiji will become a yellow rabbit. The transformation back to his human self varies. It may be soon or a long time after.
 
Always seen with
Notice how this 2 boys are seen with another person most sticking with them most of the time? It’s like their life time partner. Okay, just kidding.
Honey: Takashi Morinozuka AKA Mori. He is Honey’s cousin and his family has been bound to protect Honey’s family line for several generations.
Momiji: Hatori Souma. He is the Souma’s family doctor and act as Momiji’s guardian.
 
Siblings
They’re not the only child in the family
Honey: A younger brother, Yasuchika.
Momiji: A little sister, Momo.
 
Family
They’re not orphans either.
Honey: A wealthy and prestigious martial arts family known for training many of the nation’s elite guards.
Momiji: His mom couldn’t receive the fact that her son was being cursed by the zodiac curse of the Souma, she had her memories erased. His father on the other hand, tries to keep Momiji apart from their family so as not to lose their newfound happiness. Though Momiji understands and still longs for his mom, he keeps his best not to come face to face with them. Sad.
 
The girl
Meaning, that girl who entered their lives and in a way become friends, looks up and admires her. However, there isn’t any chemistry in the relationship so much so one would think they’d become an item.
Honey: Haruhi Fujioka.
Momiji: Tohru Honda.
 
Rival
Not to say that they’re always at each other’s throats but I notice that they don’t really get along that well.
Honey: Yasuchika, who is mad at him for leaving the karate club to join the host club. He even calls Honey an alien! Thus, issuing a challenge to settle this. Of course Honey comes out tops in the end.
Momiji: Kyo Souma. It seems Momiji is often being picked on and bullied by him. Does Kyo think that his superior martial arts and bigger body size can get the better of Momiji? Luckily Momiji’s got Tohru and even Hatsuharu to stand up for him.
 
Job
Referring to what they do when they’re not studying.
Honey: A member of the host club as the loli type.
Momiji: Works alongside Tohru as a cleaner/janitor.
 
Character song
The song which is supposed to be the character’s image song to give some sense and insights about the character.
Honey: Doki Doki Waku Waku which is on Ouran High School Host Club Soundtrack Album 1.
Momiji: Teru Teru Momiji which is on the Fruits Basket Soundtrack: Memory For You album.
 
Conclusion
Since I don’t really have lolita complex (especially for cute little boys), I don’t really have any preference over either 1 of them. As mentioned there are similarities between them so much so that one may think that they are the same character with some variations here and there. Since they’re both side characters (not to say that they don’t have enough screen time because the series focuses more on the main characters), I couldn’t really list down any other details. But if you like little boys to be your host, then you should go with Honey. Or if you really like rabbits and real ones, you should go with half-human half-rabbit Momiji. They’re still both cute whichever way you look at it. And if you really like animes with cuteness appeals, then you should have both of them. Hahaha. Where would the series be without them.
 
Honey  Momiji

Prince Of Tennis

November 17, 2007

I’m not really a tennis fan nor did I turn into 1 after watching the anime series Prince Of Tennis. So why did I initially decide to watch it? There are several reasons. One of them being comedy (obviously) and another being I’m keen to know how the producers could make a sports genre anime into 1 that could sustain the interest of viewers for a long time. I mean, tennis is just a game between 2 sides hitting the balls back and forth in a court, right? Yeah, so there has got to be some storyline, on-court and off-court drama and such.
 
So how long did the series last? A whopping 178 episodes! That’s right. Count them. And that’s not including the OVAs which are currently being aired in Japan. Having said the hefty number of episodes, such animes would definitely turn down my interest to watch it. Thus, another main reason why I decide to have a go at this one was because the local tv station decides to air it. Remember my last week’s blog on how the local tv stations have a habit of stopping animes with over 100 episodes without even reaching the halfway point? Yup, this is another anime which has fallen ‘victim’ to this policy. Because of that, I decide to go on my own as usual.
 
I’m not sure if tennis is a popular sport in Japan, but I kinda feel that it’s to stimulate some interest in the game. I think. Not to say that the series tries to promote the sports in any way or such. Perhaps such series would appeal to those who love watching bishounen animes. Yeah, you’ve got several good looking and young handsome tennis player guys here, enough for girls to swoon over. Beware guys, don’t let this anime be the reason why your relationship fails.
 
The focus of this series is on this junior high school Seishun Gakuen or Seigaku for short. The school was once a force to be reckon with in the world of junior high school tennis but has been in a slump recently, making early exits and not making the cut for the Nationals, which is believed to be what all junior high tennis players yearn to be and play at.
 
The Seigaku team
The advent of a 1st year student, Ryoma Echizen, is the turning point for the school. He’s got tennis skills that’re superb and way beyond someone his age. Therefore, lots of obnoxious tennis players will look down on him at first because of his size and stature. Who says you can’t play tennis if you’re small and short. Ryoma’s favourite catchphrase is "Mada mada da ne", which literally means, you’re not good enough yet. Often said when his opponents realizes that Ryoma’s a tough nut to crack at the end or Ryoma knows this match is in the bag. If you want to know more details and background about this prodigy kid, it’s best to go to dedicated websites or wikipedia. I’m trying to keep my blog brief.
 
As one would guess it, Ryoma manages to make 1 of the 8 regular places of the Seigaku team through the school’s intra-ranking tournament. It’s a fair and square tournament to see which members get to participate for the school in local and regional derbys. So let me just briefly mention the rest of the handsome Seigaku regular guys first.
 
First up is the team’s serious and no nonsense bespectacled captain, Kunimitsu Tezuka. Just like Ryoma, these 2 are the only 2 left handed players in the squad (but Ryoma can use his right hand at times, usually when his opponents aren’t that good or to use some special move of his) and his favourite ‘reminder’ line is "Don’t let your guard down". Then the vice captain Shuichiro Oishi who’s a caring person and is always concern about his other team mates. Then we have the energetic, ‘naughty’ and mischevious acrobatic style playing Eiji Kikumaru. Oishi and Eiji play doubles in tennis and are the number doubles team in their school so much so that they’re being nicknamed Seigaku’s Golden Pair.
 
Then there’s another mysterious tennis prodigy Shusuke Fuji, whose tennis play is really ‘scary’ when he gets real serious. I wonder if he could see since his eyes is always ‘closed’ most of the time. Another player which uses power playing style is Takashi Kawamura. At first glance, he may look like a shy guy but when he just holds a tennis racket, his character changes dramatically and is filled with passion. Dangerous guy. With that, he’ll say English words like "Great!" or "Burning!".
 
A 2nd year student who also does some power play is Takeshi Momoshiro. He’s a bit loudmouth but I notice he seems to be hanging around Ryoma on numerous occassions. Like a inseparable duo. Momoshiro does get along well with everyone else except another 2nd year player, the grouchy and intimidating-looking Kaoru Kaidoh. Kaidoh is nicknamed ‘Viper’ mainly because of his special tennis moves which look like a snake and he likes to hiss "Fushuu…". Momoshiro and Kaidoh are always at each other’s throat, quarrelling or challenging each other to just about anything. Maybe that’s their way of getting along well.
 
If you’ve counted 8 Seigaku regulars already, then you’ve counted right. But the team has 1 more guy who lost out on the regular spot because his spot was taken by Ryoma when he lost to him during the intra-school tournament. He is Sadaharu Inui a 3rd year student and his tennis style playing is data tennis. Data tennis? You see, Inui is an info and data collector-cum-observer freak and he has his own little notebooks whereby he records his data based on all his observations in it. From one’s peculiar habits and to downright ‘useless’ data such as favourite catchphrase. Yeah, really an obsessed data freak. I find that sometimes he’s like a robot because he can actually tell the angle, degree and percentage of a shot being made with absoute accuracy! Ridiculous? Wow. If he’s so good, I suppose he wouldn’t have lost his regular spot, wouldn’t he? But with all due respect, Inui realizes later as the series progresses that data is a living thing and changes each time. So does this mean all his data he has collected is useless? Don’t thing so. Because Inui has been sidelined, he has become some sort of a ‘trainer’ for the Seigaku regulars. He cooks up special training menus for the regulars based on what is good for them and has a tendency to create weird juices as penalty. Don’t ever drink it! It’ll be more than just stomach discomfort. However, only Tezuka seems to be unaffected by his home-made juice. Beetle dung juice anyone?
 
The other Seigaku support team
It’s not all about those guys. There are other side supporting characters to help propel Seigaku to greater heights. Firstly their coach, an old lady Sumire Ryuuzaki, who’s a good coach and was once the coach of Ryoma’s father, Nanjirou. Over the series you’ll find out that in the past, Nanjirou is some super duper tennis player so much so he’s nicknamed the Samurai but he mysteriously retired when he was at his peak. Now, he looks more like a lazy perverted dad, who does nothing but lying around and read Playboy magazines. Don’t be fooled by his looks, his skills hasn’t gotten rusty and Ryoma still has a tough time beating his dad at his own game.
 
Back to Seigaku, Ryuuzaki has a granddaughter, Sakuno, who admires Ryoma from a distance. You’ll probably notice this shy girl has feelings for Ryoma but is too shy to confess. Plus, that Ryoma guy is densed. Ah, in that case, nothing more to be said. Also, Sakuno has a poor sense of direction, which is the main cause why Ryoma missed and ‘forfeited’ some tennis match in the 1st episode. I guess in a way, Sakuno feels guilty about it. Sakuno has a best friend which is a total opposite of her, Tomoka Osakada. Tomoka is more outspoken, loud and unashamed of her actions and is a self declared fan of Ryoma. Not that this girl wants to steal Ryoma away nor does she show any romantic links with Ryoma, she’s just a very avid admirer. I find that these 2 ladies are somewhat a manzai comedy duo. Not to say that they remind me of some stand-up comedy, but it made me think of that each time I see them.
 
Then we have the comic relief, 1st year student, Horio Satoshi, who thinks his 2 years tennis experience is hell of a big. Yeah, this guy is a big mouth and talks more than anything. He thinks he knows it all but has a long way to go. Accompanying him are Kachiro Kato and Katsuo Mizuno, who seems to be more down to Earth and reasonable. I also find that this 3 are like the 3 stooges. Yup, very comical when together sometimes. Only without the regular physical abuse.
 
Also, a couple of reporters for the Monthly Tennis Magazine, Mamoru Inoue and his assistant Saori Shiba. I’m not sure if they’re Seigaku fans, that’s because I notice that they seem to hang around the Seigaku team a lot as compared to the other rival schools. Maybe so because Inoue is a fan of Nanjirou while Shiba is starting to admire Ryoma’s skills. Yeah, Shiba and Tomoka don’t really see eye to eye in the early episodes as Tomoka things she’s ‘interrupting’ and always tells her to ask her permission if she wants to take snapshots of Ryoma.
 
As the story grows…
Since it’s a long road for the series from start to finish, you’re not gonna see them hitting tennis balls back and forth in every episode, although each episode has some story relating to tennis. You’ll get to see flashbacks and back story of not only the Seigaku characters (like how Oishi and Eiji ended up as a double pair) but the opponents that they face as well. I mean, that’s one way to prolong a story arc and an episode, right?
 
Besides that, you’ll see how how the Seigaku characters grow and learn new skills along the way. Each of the Seigaku team members has a unique tennis skill of their own such as Ryoma’s Twist Serve and Drive B, Tezuka’s Zero Shiki Dropshot and Tezuka Zone, Oishi’s Moon Volley, Kawamura’s powerful Hadokyuu, Momoshiro’s Jack Knife and Dunk Smash, Kaidoh’s Snake and Boomerang Snake, and Fuji’s triple counter attack which includes Tsubame Gaeshi, Higuma Otoshi and Hakugei. However, I kinda notice that I don’t really see the difference in those shots. I mean, they do some stance or the way they show the angle which is suppose to set that special move, and then they hit it, and the balls go in. Erm… Nothing different right? Except for Kaidoh’s Boomerang Snake whereby the ball goes sideways of the court instead of over the net or Tezuka’s Zero Shiki dropshot whereby once the ball touches the ground, it will not bouce but instead do a violent backspin on the ground and soon rolls towards the net. Pretty neat, huh, some of the moves? Especially that Tezuka Zone move whereby no matter where the opponent hits the ball, it will always return to Tezuka’s 1 step circumference of where he’s standing. I’m really curious to know how that move actually works. Other than that, the rest looked like… Erm… normally exaggerated.
 
Also 1 of the ways for animes with lots of episodes is to have that compulsory filler episodes. Yup, after major story arcs, there’ll be a few filler episodes for some good laughs. For instance, Sakuno has to accompany Ryoma to fix his tennis racket and the other busybody guys thinks it’s a date. Of course Sakuno hopes for it to be one too but her shy nature and Ryoma’s denseness ruins it all. Sakuno’s trying hard to make Ryoma realize her feelings but flops. In the end, just when Ryoma is gonna ask her something, Sakuno thinks this might be it. But unfortunately, Ryoma’s just wondering why is Sakuno more talkative today than usual. *Explosion*. Aw, the heartbreak. Other fillers include, the tennis players find a haunted racket, Kaidoh losing his memory or Momoshiro trying his best to get some money to pay for a ramen meal he and Ryoma ate but face obstacles along the way while the store owner ‘holds’ Ryoma as ransom. If he can’t pay in time, they’ll be going to prison.
 
Then there are other fillers which involves our Seigaku tennis guys playing other sports but using and adapting their tennis skills to it. Is it possible? Like a time whereby their school has some sports festival but the only catch is you can’t play a sport that you’re a club member with. It’s funny to see Ryoma playing table tennis and applying his tennis techniques like Drive B over his opponents (though we don’t get to see how he does it). Then there are episodes of other sports parodies like Prince Of Billards. But the sports parody I like best is the Prince Of Bowling. The Seigaku guys along with Ryuuzaki and the 3 stooges decide to go bowling and form teams of pair. They have to win the game or else the loser has to drink a huge jug of Inui’s special juice. Plus, if you get the ball down the gutter, you get a small glass of it as well. So it’s funny to see one by one the teams having to drink the small little glass and even Inui himself thinks that it’s better to purposely go down the gutter and have a little one rather than the big one. Finally it’s between Ryoma-Momoshiro against Katsuo-Kachiro and the latter team wins. The boys are relieved that they won and don’t have to gulp down that awful brew but it seems Inui forgot to tell them that the winner gets to drink another large-sized special juice. WARGH!!! It’s the devil or the deep blue sea.
 
There are also comical and nonsensical episodes whereby the teni-puri (the series’ name short form) characters are in cute chibi form. It has no relation to the real storyline and serves as a major comic relief such as a baseball episode, a cowboy episode, some prehistoric episode, a detective episode whereby Inui looses his glasses and everyone is hauled in as a suspect only to realize that his glasses were on his head all the while (you’ll never get to see this guy’s eyes and there’ll always be something to block it whenever his specs aren’t in place. Except for 1 short part at the later episodes near the end of the series. Woah. He has green eyes?), and episodes whereby the Seigaku characters are like 1 big happy family with Ryoma as the mischevious son, Momoshiro the daughter, Kaidoh the toddler son, Eiji the pet cat, Inui the dad, Oishi the mom, Tezuka the grandpa and Fuji the grandma. Get ready to laugh your heart out.
 
The game
I don’t really know on average how long a tennis match last but in order not to be repetitive and boring, the matches that the schools will play will be based on a team format. Meaning only a set match instead of the usual 5 set match. In addition, it’s the best out of 5 games and it will go in this order, Doubles 2, Doubles 1, Singles 3, Singles 2, and finally Singles 1. The referee says all the scores and terms during the match in English. Hey, I suppose hearing them say, "Fifteen, Love" is much better if it was to sound in Japanese, right?
 
I also find that there are lots of recycled bits, characters in still-pose shots and zooming in on the characters face or pos just to kill time or to prolong the episode. It’s like deja vu. Have I seen it before and am I gonna see that one coming again? Plus there’s lots of super exaggeration to show the intensity and power of the play. Like when the players hit the ball, you can hear the wind screaming as the ball cuts through the air. If it was that fast, it would be all over in a split second. So everything is slowed down so that viewers could get a glimpse of what’s happening. Then when the ball hits the ground, you’ll hear some terror explosion and if the shot is a powerful one, it’ll leave a mark on the court. I’m amazed a tennis ball could take all this abuse. Also a lot of screen tones to make viewers focus on the ball. If the ball is damn fast, you’ll see multiple balls in a row to indicate that.
 
During the match, you’ll also notice that everyone’s like an arm-chair critic or rather a keen observer who can tell you what’s happening after just watching or observing a shot. Though it’s to tell viewers what really happened (for blur cases like me), it’s kinda like saying that they know what the players are thinking and could even predict their next move. Usually Inui does this, but over the series, other characters too will have a hand in this I-know-what-he’s-gonna-do-after-seeing-that-1-move.
 
Remember Seigaku’s 3 stooges and manzai comedy duo? They’ll attend most of the matches that Seigaku will play to provide some cheer and support. One thing that irritates me is that the 3 stooges tendency to state the obvious. Everytime. It’s like the Seigaku players are set to make some move and the the 3 stooges in synchronized harmony or sometimes just 1 of them would spell out "It’s here/It’s coming (insert name of special move here). I’m sure it’s to make viewers familiar with the special move but as the series progress, this has become more than just repetitive and downright annoying. Makes me feel like wanting to smack their heads and shout their mouths.
 
Also the 3 stooges and manzai comedy duo has some sort of a mood swing. What do I mean? You see, we are believed that whenever our Seigaku players pull off their super special move, the opponents have no chance in taking it. Whenever the opponents get to counter attack the move, those comical quintet’s exciting energetic hopeful mood will instantly change into one full of despair and no hope. What the? This is even more evident when Inui or whoever else explain their usual theory and prediction that because of this and that, so and so, our player has no chance of overcoming this. Hey, you guys should be cheering rather than be gloomy about this. Remember, not only Seigaku players have special techniques, the opponents they face too have at 1 special unique move of their own. And if the opponents unleash this and the Seigaku counterparts can’t counter it, there goes the happy mood too. And if the Seigaku manage to stage a comeback, they’ll be back to their happy cheerful selves again. It’s like a roller coaster ride.
 
Also during the series, you can guess which Seigaku player is gonna face which of their opponents before match day, the way they interact or say things to the other party. I’m usually right 95% of the time. As mentioned, you’ll see Seigaku’s opponents thinking about their past which is their determination not to lose to the Seigaku players which prolongs the episode in an otherwise short tennis match. And with repetitive and recycled bits… Oh wait, I already said that. See, it’s getting repetitive here too. It’s a wonder how I manage to stay and watch the entire series. Usually after Seigaku beats a major opponent, they’ll become like friends soon after and would want a ‘friendly’ rematch someday. Though you’ll get to learn some tennis terms and definitions, I’m still wondering if those exaggerated moves are actually plausible in the real world. I mean, if they were, every player would try to copy and make it their forte, right? And no, I don’t really remember most of the tennis terms even though they sometimes try to explain using diagrams. Bummer.
 
Vs Fudoumine Chuugakkou
Okay, I’ll skip the other preliminary matches which seem insignificant. Yeah, those other schools seem like just whipping boys since we have a new and resurgent Seigaku team. Even though Seigaku and Fudoumine both have qualified for the Kantou region tournament, this match is to determine which of the 2 schools will be the champions of the district regional tournament. We see Fudoumine’s a relatively unknown team that withdrew their participation in last year’s tournament because of some internal affairs (something to do with their tennis teacher disbanding the team or what) and it seems that they are determined to reach the Nationals. Also, the Fudoumine team has Ann, the team captain Tachibana’s little sister, as their support. Here’s a summary of the match below.
 
Doubles 2: Fuji-Kawamura vs Ishida-Sakurai
The match had to be forfeited because Kawamura got injured after pulling off his Hadokyuu move. Fudomine leads 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Oishi-Eiji vs Mori-Uchimura
Eiji’s acrobatic moves save the day as the score now is tied 1-1.
 
Singles 3: Kaidoh vs Kamio
Kaidoh does a new move called Boomerang Snake to overcome Kamio’s speed in this endurance match. Seigaku leads 2-1.
 
Singles 2: Ryoma vs Ibu
Though Ryoma’s eyelid is injured by Ibu’s Spot shot, Ryoma eventually manages to overcome this and win the match in less than 10 minutes, the time limit imposed by Tezuka or else Ryoma will have to forfeit the match and treat his injury.
 
With Seigaku winning the prefectorials by beating Fudoumine 3-1, Tachibana admits defeat though he would’ve like to have played a match against Tezuka, who couldn’t play too because Ryoma sealed the win. With that, our Seigaku team heads down to Kawamura’s sushi restaurant and celebrate. Yup, that guy’s dad runs one and sometimes Kawamura helps out, though the sushis he make won’t be as good as his tennis skills. There’s still room for improvement.
 
Vs St Rudolph
After the district regional tournament, it’s the prefectorial tournament this time for junior high schools who have advanced. Seigaku’s next opponent will be St Rudolph Junior High for the quarter final line up. St Rudolph has a guy who’s a little like Inui with his data collection. He is the brilliant but arrogant Hajime Mizuki. He can make scenarios just by watching people play and makes the best scenarios for his team to win. Also in this school is Fuji’s little brother Yuuta. Yuuta doesn’t like his brother too much because of that comparison thingy, the reason why he decided to go to St Rudolph in the first place and not Seigaku. He wants to play against his elder brother in this match, but Mizuki won’t have it his way. Another short match summary.
 
Doubles 2: Momoshiro-Kaidoh vs Yanagisawa-Kisarazu
Seigaku scratch pair wins by default after Momoshiro lands some dunk on Yanagisawa’s face, putting him out of commission. What a way to win. Seigaku’s up 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Oishi-Eiji vs Akazawa-Kaneda
St Rudolph’s captain Akazawa tries his luck in doubles but even though Eiji’s acrobatic play is stunning as usual, his main problem is his stamina. Though Oishi had to work hard to cover Eiji while he recovers, in the end, Eiji’s stamina ran out again. Score tied at 1-1.
 
Singles 3: Ryoma vs Yuuta
Since Yuuta is mad that he can’t face his brother, his dangerous twist spin shot is still causing Ryoma some problems. But Ryoma creates a new move, Drive B, to counter the move. Seigaku leads 2-1.
 
Singles 2: Fuji vs Mizuki
Mizuki’s scenarios are crumbling and he’s trying to save it all. Unfortunately, Fuji teaches this guy some lesson about tennis and in the end allows Seigaku to advance with a 3-1 win.
 
Yet again, Tezuka is unable to play but even so, I’m sure he’ll beat the crap out of that St Rudolph unknown side character (sorry). In this prefectorial tournament, the 5 teams will qualify for the Kantou tournament. Four of them who have qualified for the semi-finals will advanced and other than Seigaku, the others include Ginka Gakuen, Yamabuki Middle School and Fudoumine (who surprisingly beat a tough opponent Hyotei Gakuen). The 5th spot is to be decided in a play-off between the losing teams of the quarter-finals.
 
Even though the 4 teams have already qualified for the next stage, but they still need to play each other to decide who wins the title as the prefectorial tournament champions. Meanwhile the 5th team who have qualified for the Kantou tournament is Hyotei by easily beating St Rudolph.
 
Vs Yamabuki Middle School
Seigaku’s initial semi-final opponents were Ginka Gakuen but they all chickened out after the players did some research that they’re facing some super terror players. Yeah, Seigaku advanced by default. On the other hand, another default match won by Yamabuki because some of the team members of Fudoumine got into an accident, although not a serious one. Tachibana decides not to risk it and forfeits the match. Thus, it’s a Seigaku vs Yamabuki final.
 
Before that, we see some ruthless violent troublemaking guy from Yamabuki, Akutsu, who goes round bullying and physically hurting other people with his tennis. Too bad, Ryoma got a little taste of his pain. This guy seems to be Kawamura’s childhood classmate and he looks really different now and then. Oh the transformation. I don’t know why that Dan kid always look up to Akutsu as his role model. Anyway, here’s how the match went.
 
Doubles 2: Fuji-Kawamura vs Nitobe-Kita
I can’t really remember what happened or how they lost but didn’t this pairing lost to Fudoumine too back then? Yamabuki leads 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Oishi-Eiji vs Minami-Higashikata
This Yamabuki doubles pair defeated the Golden Pair in last year’s tournament. This time the Golden Pair manage to overcome their past and live up to their nickname to give Seigoku a breather. The score 1-1.
 
Singles 3: Momoshiro vs Sengoku
Sengoku is AKA ‘Lucky Sengoku’ and thinks he has luck on his side. But his real skill is to see fast moving objects. However, Momoshiro’s Jack Knife allows Seigaku to lead 2-1.
 
Singles 2: Ryoma vs Akutsu
It’s like a grudge match. Akutsu shows his beast self on court. Not that he turned into one nor did he turn wild and ran a stampede. But after a hard battle (like David vs Goliath), Ryoma wins and Seigaku wins the overall match by the same score line 3-1.
 
Are we starting to see a pattern here? Seigaku always wins 3-1 and we won’t get to see Tezuka playing at all. He’s just like warming the bench. Maybe he should put himself as Singles 2 or 3. At the end of the match, Akutsu quits the tennis club and tells Dan to look to Ryoma for inspiration. See, you don’t have to be big and strong to play tennis. Just skill and determination. Above all, you have got to love playing it. Though Akutsu has quit, you’ll still see him around though he won’t get directly involve in tennis. And that young pretty lady isn’t Kawamura’s girlfriend, but Akutsu’s mom! Shock!
 
Vs Hyotei
With Seigaku as the prefectorial champions, it’s time for the Kantou tournament whereby the top 16 teams will duke it out in an elimination match. During the day of the draw, Seigaku is drawn to play Hyotei, which caught many by surprise because both schools are in the same vincinity and they feel like it’s too soon for such thing to happen. Oh well, that’s life.
 
Another thing is that the Seigaku team has another intra-school ranking and the results is that Inui is back in the regulars. If he’s in? Who’s out? Why, it’s Momoshiro. He’s a little upset that he didn’t make the cut so much so that he went missing during training. Of course after some spacing out and thinking, he realizes the err of his ways and would work hard to come back to being a regular in the next intra-school ranking. However, there’s another sad news. On the day of the match with Hyotei, Oishi injured his right hand while trying to save a pregnant lady from falling off the stairs. Oh no. What’s gonna happen to the Golden Pair? Will Seigaku triumph at the end? Not only that, Ryoma has been sidelined as a reserved. Read on.
 
Doubles 2: Eiji-Momoshiro vs Oshitari-Gakuto
The scratch doubles pair manage to defy the odds to beat Oshitari’s Tsubame Gaeshi move and Gakuto’s acrobatic style playing. With Oishi cheering them on the sidelines, it’s like a 3-men doubles for Seigaku, if you know what I mean. Seigaku leads 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Inui-Kaidoh vs Outori-Shishido
After a long absence, Inui makes his appearance by pairing up with Kaidoh against Outori’s super fast Scud Serve. Another incompatible pair? It may seem that Kaidoh’s only doing the job by running around while Inui’s just standing there. Actually, Inui’s collecting data on his opponents and though they stage a late come back, it wasn’t enough as Hyotei wins this one. Score tied 1-1.
 
Singles 3: Kawamura vs Kabaji
Dubbed a power match with Kawamura’s Hadokyuu against copycat Kabaji. If you notice this Kabaji is like a zombie following Hyotei’s captain, Atobe’s every single command. Everytime Atobe says "Right, Kabaji", that oversized monkey will say "Yup". Haih… Anyway the match ends in a draw because nobody could continue with Kawamura’s hand bleeding and Kabaji’s muscles stiff and frozen after exchanging super power shots. They’re both sent by Ryuuzaki to get outpatient treatment later. With that, Ryoma gets to be the bench coach. Score still at 1-1.
 
Singles 2: Fuji vs Jirou
Looks like a grudge match for Fuji that’s because this Jirou guy who loves spending most of his time sleeping, defeated Yuuta in just under 15 minutes. I suppose you need some super move like Fuji’s Hakugei to wake this guy up. Yeah, he gets pretty excited to see it. However, I’m still wondering how Jirou beat Yuuta in less than 15 minutes because he got trounced 6-1 by Fuji in the end. Seigaku leads 2-1.
 
Singles 1: Tezuka vs Atobe
Finally Tezuka gets to play. Pretty rich boy Atobe has some weird ability to see his opponent’s weakness. Yeah, Tezuka has an old injury, his left shoulders. You’ll see some flashback how when he was a 1st year student, some tennis club member used a tennis racket to hit his left shoulder. Atobe wants to drag this match and test Tezuka’s limits but got more than he bargained for because Tezuka too seems to be dragging it as well. I’m not sure about Atobe’s Rondo Towards Destruction move but it looks like when he hit the ball, the ball will hit some part of the opponent, leaving him stunned and the ball will bounce back to Atobe, enough time for another 2nd shot. The match lasts for donno how long into the tie break until Tezuka’s ball hit the net resulting in Atobe’s win. Though the score now is levelled 2-2, Tezuka’s left shoulder has been injured and he is in pain. Ah well, first match he’s played in so long and it ends up in a loss. At least he gets to show why he’s the captain of Seigaku.
 
Reserve match: Ryoma vs Hiyoshi
Because of the score tied at 2-2 and the fact that a Seigaku match wouldn’t be complete without Ryoma (hehe, just kidding), it’s the battle of the reserves as Ryoma crushes Hiyoshi to vent his ‘frustration’ for being a reserve. Seigaku advances 3-2 to the quarter-finals.
 
After a gruelling and hard fought victory, it seems there’re a few injuries at Seigaku. Tezuka decides to go to Germany for treatment. Which means, indirectly Momoshiro gets to be in the regulars as replacement. Next up, for the Seigaku team is Jousei Shonan, who’s coach is the beautiful Hanamura who seems to refer to her tennis players as masterpieces (are tennis players born or created?). Why does she need to wear a white lab coat to coach tennis players? Unless she sees them as test subjects. She too is also like some sort of a scout for new talents and she’s eyeing Ryoma in particular.
 
Vs Josei Shonan
Well, the Josei Shonan regulars do undergo some unconventional and weird training stints to be the best so much so they become like robots and could almost precisely hit the balls right back at the same spot! It’s quite funny to see and hear the tennis balls bounce off that same spot as if it’s like some synchronized gun shot. So here’s how the match went.
 
Doubles 2: Inui-Momoshiro vs Kouhei-Youhei
At first I thought the Kouhei and Youhei siblings were girls because they do look and sound like one. With a keen sense of hearing, the brothers can hear and predict any kind of shots. However just when the Seigaku pair is about to win, Momoshiro accidentally drinks Inui’s juice and has to forfeit the match due to stomach discomfort. Bummer. Why in the world did Inui bring his juice here in the first place? Josei Shonan leads 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Oishi-Eiji vs Kiriyama-Outa
While the Golden Pair is back, they’re up against an ‘imbalanced’ opponent in terms of size. Yeah, Kiriyama’s like a big giant while Outa is like a midget dwarf. Because of this combination, Outa uses Kiriyama’s body as a springboard to launch himself high in the air and use his Thunderbolt special move to complement Kiriyama’s Canon Volley. But the Golden Pair is too good for them in the end and wins. Seigaku ties the score at 1-1.
 
Singles 3: Kaidoh vs Wakato
This must be the most amusing match because pretty boy Wakato has got legion of girl fans to cheer him on. Plus, Wakato’s a copycat and is copying moves from famous tennis stars like Pete Sampras. Before Kaidoh could settle with 1 tennis playing style, Wakato changes to the next. Everytime he does that he will say "Change… Over!". And the girls will also follow and swoon over it. Finally, Wakato decides to copy Kaidoh. It’s like playing himself but Kaidoh’s rigid training and vast improvement over the times is the difference between them as Kaidoh notches up another victory for Seigaku. They lead 2-1. Hehe. Pretty boy lost to scary-looking guy. Oh the heartbreak, girls.
 
Singles 2: Ryoma vs Shinjou
Hmmm… Shinjou looks like Mr Spock of Star Trek. I don’t remember what Ryoma did or said but it did pissed off Shinjou so much so Shinjou decides to use his forbidden technique called Deep Impulse. Erm… I don’t see how but it’s suppose to hurt the opponents real bad. Even Hanamura is against it. Of course Ryoma is quick to learn and overcomes this attack and wins for Seigaku. Another 3-1 victory scoreline.
 
With that, Seigaku advances to the last 4 and definitely qualifies for the Nationals. Thus, another celebration for the team at Kawamura’s sushi restaurant. But they can’t let their guard down yet as there are still matches to see who will be champion in the Kantou tournament.
 
Vs Rokkaku Chuu
Seigaku’s semi-final opponents are quite amusing. They use wooden rackets and their coach looks like a senile old man who picked the team’s captain by just pointing his finger to whoever was in front of him at that time. Amusing. But they have to be something to have reach this far, right? Match highlights as follow.
 
Doubles 2: Momoshiro-Kawamura vs David-Kurabane
Yeah, the Rokkaku team is real quirky. David and Kurabane are like some manzai comedy duo. At least for David. He’s got a habit of making really bad puns everytime. Each time he does that, Kurabane kicks his head for it. Is he trying to be cute and funny? Anyway, Seigaku wins this one and leads 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Fuji-Eiji vs Saeki-Itsuki
I suppose Oishi needs some time to heal further so why is Fuji paired up with Eiji? It seems Saeki is Fuji’s childhood friend and they’re relishing a chance to play each other again. Itsuki on the hand is annoying because he keeps asking questions why this why that and even has steam coming out from his noses like a steam locomotive. In short, Seigaku wins again to make it 2-0.
 
Singles 3: Ryoma vs Kentaro
Rokkaku’s young captain, Kentaro is your usual energetic and cheerful guy and gets his wish to play Ryoma. The game has to be postponed the next day because it’s taking too long. Yeah, lasting till the evening hours. Another excuse for a little filler and drama in an otherwise short match. When it resumes the next day, as expected Ryoma wins. So Seigaku advances to the final with a 3-0 win.
 
Okay, so that breaks the expected 3-1 win. Maybe because this semi-final match don’t seem that aggressive enough as compared to the rest. The Rokkaku side are quite friendly, even during the match. Now that’s sportsmanship. But Seigaku’s final hurdle will be their ultimate test yet. The players of Rikkai Daigaku Fuzoku or Rikkaidai for short, seems arrogant and think-they’re-the-best-team-in-the-world attitude. Well, I guess it’s like that if you’ve won the National championships for the last 2 years. Rikkaidai beat Fudoumine and during the game, Fudoumine’s captain Tachibana got injured. So looks like we have injured captains from Tezuka to Tachibana and also Rikkaidai’s captain Yukimura is in hospital undergoing some surgery. A win for Rikkaidai will be a perfect gift for their ailing captain.
 
Vs Rikkaidai
The scheduled final match is postponed next week because it’s pouring. Ryoma takes this opportunity to play with Rikkaidai’s temporary captain, Sanada, but lost (didn’t really show how). Because Ryoma hasn’t really lost a match before. He’s like so depressed like as though it’s the end of the world. Not until Akutsu returns and indirectly made him see the light again. But this postponement is a blessing in disguise for Seigaku. With 1 week to spare, Ryuuzaki has the Seigaku regulars go on a special training camp to boost and enhance their skills further. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without the 3 stooges and manzai comedy duo who tag along as volunteers. So during the camp stint you’ll see some filler episodes and training in which our Seigaku boys will grow. Even the well respected ex-Seigaku tennis club captain, Yamamoto made his appearance. Also Hyotei has been invited to help train their Seigaku counterparts and each played a one-on-one match. I suppose they have to have that much awaited Ryoma vs Atobe match and as expected Ryoma beats Atobe and later creates a new move called Cyclone Smash. Is it really that powerful? I mean we see exaggerated moves about opponents being blown away by it.
 
Since this is the finals, every team Seigaku has beaten arrives to watch the match. They really want to see how good Seigaku has grown and possibly would like a rematch in the future. Also, since Momoshiro and Kaidoh is running late, Ryuuzaki is thinking of putting Kawamura and Arai as plan B. Yeah, that Arai guy only talks big. Always saying how he wish to play in the regulars. Yeah, now he’s got his chance, he’s freezing up and stiff. I suppose he’ll never get to play in one as Momoshiro and Kaidoh makes it in time. Phew. Is that good news for Arai?
 
Doubles 2: Kaidoh-Momoshiro vs Jackal-Marui
It may seem like a joke that half-Brazilian Jackal shaves his head while Marui chows down cake before the start of the match. Jackal does this as an inspiration of his former tennis coach while Marui needs the sugar of the cake to improve his stamina. Yeah, Marui has that Tightrope Walking skill whereby the tennis ball would walk along the net just like walking a tightrope. Is that possible? A closely fought match with Rikkaidai winning and leading the series 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Oishi-Eiji vs Niou-Yagyuu
Niou can predict his opponent’s moves, making Eiji annoyed and as a result Eiji gets discourages and the Golden Pair is thrown into disarray. Oishi tries to talk some sense into him but Eiji isn’t listening. Plus, Yagyuu is an ex-golf player and is applying his golf swings for his tennis style! I hope he doesn’t hit a 200 meter shot. That’s way out of the court. Though Eiji manages to finally overcome this setback but it’s too late as Rikkaidai wins again to make it 2-0.
 
Singles 3: Inui vs Yanagi
One more win and Rikkaidai takes it. Yanagi is Inui’s former doubles partner and since the 2 know a lot about each other, they know what the other can do and the tricks hiding up their sleeves. Can Inui’s data be useful after all this years? Inui decides to throw away his collected data and play it his style only to later find out that Inui didn’t really throw it all away and is just a ploy to manipulate Yanagi. Data can be a scary thing. Inui wins to give Seigaku a lifeline, 2-1.
 
Singles 2: Fuji vs Kirihara
Another grudge match for Fuji because Kirihara was the one responsible for injuring Tachibana. It’s like the angel vs the devil. You see, when Kirihara’s got his pride hurt, he’ll turn into a devil and his eyes will turn red. Really. I’m wondering if his eye blood vessels bursts or what. Since Kirihara is playing sadistic tennis, Fuji decides to teach him a lesson and unleashes his full potential to ‘rehabilitate’ Kirihara. Yeah, tennis isn’t about hurting people. After this though Kirihara is still cocky, at least he doesn’t hurt people with tennis anymore. Seigaku stages a comeback with the score tied at 2-2.
 
Singles 1: Ryoma vs Sanada
A rematch between a renewed Ryoma and Sanada. This game will decide who wins the Kantou tournament. Also, since it’s the same time with Yukimura’s surgery, the rest of the Rikkaidai went ahead to the hospital. At first it may seem to be too much for Ryoma to handle Sanada’s invisble swing and serve. But leave it to Ryoma to do the impossible. He repeatedly uses his Cyclone Smash (though it’s taking a strain on his little body) and even closes his eyes to play. Is he mocking Sanada? Well, he unleashes all his powerful potential on Sanada and even Sanada is in shock. Yeah, Ryoma even said that "You’re not good enough" in English. Note the accent. With lots of determination and will power, Ryoma finally beats Sanada and everybody is surprised that Seigaku won the championship 3-2.
 
Each of the match that Seigaku played either goes into a tie break or a closely fought one. So I suppose it’s okay for the new champions to celebrate once more down at Kawamura’s sushi restaurant. Yeah, it’s true pride comes before a fall and hopefully Rikkaidai would learn from this lesson. On another good note, Yukimura’s surgery is successful.
 
Vs American West Coast Team
Though the Kantou tournament is over, Seigaku and those who have qualified for the Nationals mustn’t let up yet. Before the Nationals, the Japanese have receive an invitation to play against the American West Coast team. In order to select which player to represent Japanese, Ryuuzaki, Hanamura and Hyotei’s coach Sakaki organizes a junior selection camp with 28 players, including all the 8 regulars of Seigaku, and a handful from other schools like Fudoumine, Yamabuki, Hyotei, St Rudolph, Josei Shonan, Rikkaidai and Rokkaku. The 28 hopefuls are divided into 3 groups and their training and development are regulated depending of the coach of that group. So more drama and character development to see which of them makes the cut. Even the 3 stooges, manzai comedy duo, Ann and Dan join in as volunteers.
 
During the course of the training, Ryuuzaki got a little ill and is hospitalized. So who’s gonna replace her? To everyone’s surprise it’s Tezuka! He’s back from Germany. Previously after the Seigaku won the Kantou tournament, they went to Germany to pay Tezuka a visit and tell him the good news. The other guys think that Tezuka’s back so that he could snatch a place to play in the invitational tournament but Tezuka sticks to his coachin role throughout the duration. In the end, who made the final 7 all-star? They are Atobe, Sanada, Sengoku, Oshitari, Kirihara, Eiji and… Fuji. Oh it was a tough choice between Fuji and Ryoma. Because of that, Ryoma goes into one of his sulking moods again. But later after a heart to heart talk, Ryoma finds out that he’s actually on the reserve, which isn’t that bad at all. Phew.
 
Meanwhile, 1 of the American team players, Kevin Smith, another left hander, returns to Japan and goes round beating other schools just to draw out Ryoma. Reminds you like Akutsu’s case. I’m not sure Kevin’s real reason of wanting to beat Ryoma that badly, but it seems that Kevin’s dad was a former tennis player who got humiliated by Nanjirou during his heydays. Because of that, Kevin’s dad mercilessly trains him using Spartan-like methods. Lots of people would see this as a grudge match lasting 2 generations. Though Kevin finds Ryoma (after the gang returns from the camp), he is disappointed to find that he’s on the reserve and may not get a chance to face him. Match day arrives and the American team’s coach, Baker, seems to be putting up some extravagant show for his players. Yeah, looks like another arrogant guy with some hidden motives of his own. Something to do with the sponsors. Honestly, I find most of the American team players not looking like real Americans, if you know what I mean. Let’s find out how the match went. Before that, the line-up of which player to play against whom isn’t mentioned just
 
Doubles 2: Atobe-Sanada vs Billy Cassidy-Michael Lee
The 2 fearsome players are being paired together up against cowboy Billy with his shotgun hit (literally, that move should’ve blown the ball into smithereens) and rich American Chinese kid Michael. It’s tough for the Japanese counterparts because they’re not used to playing doubles and both have their own ego and pride. In the end, they manage to overcome that and play as a doubles team, thus winning the match. Japan leads 1-0.
 
Doubles 1: Eiji-Oshitari vs Tom Griffin-Terry Griffin
The brothers sound like Tom and Jerry and I even thought those pretty boys were girls. Because Eiji and Oshitari both have experience as doubles, they seem to be working along fine. Meanwhile Baker wants the brothers to lose as part of his plan to create some dramatic scenario. However, after watching the Japanese pair with all their hearts out and having fun, they decide not to become some puppets anymore and before you know it, the American side wins and the score is tied 1-1.
 
Singles 3: Sengoku vs Bobby Max
Now this huge Bobby really looks and sounds like a real American gangster. He even insulted Sengoku by telling to go back to his mama in English. But Sengoku plays it cool and pretends he doesn’t know what he’s talking. During the camp, Sengoku has incorporated boxing into his tennis and because of that he manage to stave off the gladiator’s onslaught. Since it’s high noon, the heat is getting to them and it ends with both players exhausted and unable to carry on. Yeah, a no-game.
 
Singles 2: Fuji vs Arnold Ignashov
Before the match, Baker confronts Fuji to tell him to lose or else that Eastern European Arnold will have to go back to his slum and gangster ways. The reason why Arnold joins the tennis world is to escape it all in the first place. So much so he trained himself till he’s like a robot. Target systems on. Target lock. Target identified. Fire. Just kidding. I mean that Arnold’s so perfect that he’s like a robot. Furthermore, Fuji’s triple counter attack is sealed. In the end we see man triumph over machine and because of that Baker tells Arnold that he’s no longer on the team. Japan leads 2-1.
 
Singles 1: Kirihara vs Kevin
What a surprise. Everyone was expecting to be Kevin against Ryoma. Obviously that kid is bloody upset. Plus, since there isn’t gonna be another match after this, the American team has no chance of winning, thus the sponsors are doubting the American team’s potential. However, 1 of the sponsors gives a condition to sponsor the team provided Kevin wins. Baker is determined to make Kevin win. Because Kevin is upset he didn’t get to face Ryoma, Kirihara is pissed that he’s looking down on him and unleashes his new move Phantom Ball, which he learned after the match with Seigaku. However Kirihara pushes his limits and injures himself during the match. Baker decides to use that special rule instead of allowing the match to be abandoned and forfeited.
 
Singles 1: Ryoma vs Kevin
The long awaited match begins with both having a little handicap. Kevin is a little tired from his match with Kirihara while Ryoma starts with a game down. It seems Kevin can do every move that Ryoma can. Yeah, he’s so obsessed that he studied every video tape of Ryoma with detail. Ryoma unleashes his Cyclone Smash to counter Kevin’s attack but his body is getting tired. Because the match is dragging on, Baker loses his temper and hits Kevin, much to everyone’s horror. Then here’s a shocking scene. We know Ryoma is gonna win, and how he does it? Suddenly Ryoma manages to pull off all of the special moves of the opponents he previously beats! Can he do that by just recalling and I believe I’ve never seen him practice those moves before. Natural talent? Ryoma has a potential for greater heights (don’t mean to insult his stature). In the end, Japan wins 3-1. But it doesn’t matter who win or losses, the audience just loved them.
 
After the match, Baker gets his team to quickly pack up and leave but he’s in for a surprise. Even though they lost, the sponsor decides to sponsor the entire team. Baker is relieved but didn’t understand why she set the condition earlier on. Well, it’s actually a test to see whether Baker is a suitable partner to work with. And his actions earlier on suggests otherwise. Moreover, because Baker has been found spending the funds lavishly on the earlier stint, he has been relieved of all duties. There goes his dream. So I guess it’s fair that everybody in the Japanese camp gets to play. While the American team enjoy their last few days touring Japan, Kevin went on an apologizing spree to the schools he beat up earlier on. This guy isn’t so bad after all. Hey, I’m starting to notice something about Kevin. I think his sunglasses are stuck to his head. No matter how much he moves or sways, it just stays perfectly right on his head. Isn’t it?
 
Intra-school ranking & US Open
As with Seigaku’s tradition and final story arc, it’s time for another intra-school ranking to see who will become Seigaku’s regulars. By this point, I could pretty much guess 99% who would make it, don’t you think? I mean, look at the other club members. There is a bloody vast difference in their skills so much so I think that they’re whipping boys. Didn’t they improve in time? Didn’t think so. Looks like it’s not the case of a long way to go, but rather there’s no future! Haha. If I could guess 99% who would make the cut, what about the 1% uncertainty? The intra-school ranking is divided into 4 groups of several players and the top 2 of each group will become regulars. However there is 1 group which has 3 of our usual Seigaku regulars. They are Momoshiro, Kaidoh and Ryoma. Yeah, dubbed the group of death by Horio as 1 of them won’t make the cut. So who will be the unlucky one?
 
At the same time, Nanjirou receives a letter. To cut things short, Nanjirou decides to enter Ryoma’s name as 1 of the Japanese reps for the US Open. Though it pisses off Ryoma but it’s his fault for not taking his dad’s hint seriously (who could ever be serious with this pervert). Soon everyone learns about this and some wants him to go as it’s a chance of a lifetime while others say he wouldn’t because he’s gonna play in the Nationals. Ryoma turns down the chance to play at the US Open even after that chat with Tezuka. During Ryoma’s match with Momoshiro, Ryoma is spacing out and not playing his usual level while Momoshiro is firing all the way. Momoshiro notices this and gets pissed off. He would’ve beaten up Ryoma if the rest didn’t intervene. In the end, Ryoma decides to go. Before he leaves, everyone else buys him a parting gift.
 
Ryoma arrives at America and is being greeted by the new guy who took over Baker’s position and it seems Kevin is there too. They’re like buddies now. As usual, other tennis players look down on him not because he’s shorter (literally) but because they think he’s a kid. Back at Seigaku, the match between Tezuka and Fuji starts. A match which will decide who gets to be Singles 1 and it’s a match-up that has never happened before (at least it didn’t finished 2 years ago). See, everyone in Seigaku must’ve played each other except for these 2. So a gruelling match with lots of flashbacks and realization which unleashes new potentials for both guys. In the end, Tezuka triumphs. News of Tezuka beating Fuji reached Ryoma and that guy again has that spacing out and indecisive feeling. Ryoma decides to settle things by temporarily going back to Japan even though he has passed the preliminaries of the US Open.
 
Ryoma’s return has caught everyone by surprise except for Tezuka and Ryuuzaki who has been informed by Ryoma before hand. This is the 2nd time Ryoma plays Tezuka. The 1st time was donno how long ago and Ryoma lost, in which Tezuka told him to be Seigaku’s pillar of strength. It’s a mouth watering match everybody wants to watch. I’ll skip all details but Ryoma eventually beats Tezuka (they didn’t show how but Tezuka admits Ryoma has won) and with that Ryoma heads back to the US without regrets. The final scenes of the episode shows the starting ceremony for the Nationals. Rikkaidai’s Yukimura is also there and will be anticipating to play Tezuka at the Nationals. Also in the US Open, Ryoma faces world number 1, Leyton Hewitt and beats him. Wow. Is that for real? Well, I guess with lots of exaggeration and stuff, might as well go all the way. Another thing is, since the Nationals is gonna be held in Tokyo, 1 school will be admitted to the Nationals automatically, which is Hyotei. So it doesn’t matter if they lost to Seigaku in the first place. At least they’re given a 2nd chance and most likely would like to get their revenge over Seigaku.
 
Season over
Overall, I think I had enough of tennis and won’t be watching the OVA to see how the Seigaku team fares in the Nationals. But don’t worry, I’m guessing that Seigaku will be a powerhouse everyone wants to beat and thus they’ll beat lots of opponents, old or new, along the way. I did a little reading up and it seems Ryoma will be back in time for the Nationals and Seigaku will indeed face Hyotei again along the way. Oh yeah, there’s even a movie released after the tv series ended.
 
I can’t help notice that the only 2 Seigaku players who have played at every competitive level matches are Ryoma and Eiji. Well, Eiji’s the doubles pair and part of the Golden Pair, he’s indispensible. As for Ryoma, notice how he never lose matches at this level? Even if he’s a substitute or reserve, some compelling force will make Ryoma play. I think I’m starting to become like Inui by noticing such minor details.
 
Since it’s been a long series, thinking back, the reason why I stayed on and watch this was probably I find the exaggerating tennis play amusing. It’s nice to see what ‘creative’ ideas the players can come up on-court. Of course, I dread everytime whenever there’s a flashback but I suppose all this comes as part of the package to understand the characters better.
 
The drawing, art and animation as mentioned seems to cater to bishonen fans with not only the Seigaku players looking good, but also players from other rival schools. I suppose this is a guy anime and the producers need to come up with various and different character desgins to accomodate the many gorgeous looking players. With a large number of episodes, some of the minor episodes have its quality compromised a little. But it won’t be obvious. Even during matches, because the focus is on the intensity of the match, you might not notice the lesser details of the surroundings. You could also see lots of lines when the tennis ball zoom pass by.
 
There are several product placements in the series as well. Of course the name would be slightly misspelled so as not to raise any copyright issues. The most frequent one and the one which I remembered the most is the can drink Ponta, which is Ryoma’s favourite drink. Always seeing him drinking it. Ah, brings back those nostalgic memories when I drank that grape flavoured Fanta drink. I wonder if such drink is still around these days. 
 
There are several soundtracks and BGMs for this series. Most of them sound like your typical hyped-up motivational sports music which keeps viewers in the mood to cheer the match on. Though there are slower tunes and even comical ones. Speaking of opening and ending themes, there are several of them (total of 16 themes, 8 opening and 8 ending themes) but it seems none of them really caught my interest. Some of the themes too have that upbeat tune which very much suits a sports themed genre. Of course there are slower ones, rock-like ones and those which the voice actors and actresses also belt out. Especially the 5th ending song, White Line. That one sounds a little sissy to me. Tennis players singing? Ah well, it’s like an actor trying his luck at singing and then writing a book. All in one. Or rather, don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket.
 
As for the romance part, I guess at this rate Sakuno won’t be able to confess her true feelings but I suppose she’s just happy to be around Ryoma. No time for love. Besides, tennis is his number 1 love. For me, I didn’t really fell in love with the sport after all. Perhaps my favourite sport is watching anime. And I can do it by sitting down there for a straight 6 full hours! It’s a marathon! No rules, no special moves, nothing but pure enjoyment of the game. Maybe I should proclaim myself as the Prince Of Anime. Not. Mada mada da ne.
Prince Of Tennis

Mirai E No Melody

November 16, 2007

  Sora no fukasa ni tomadoi,
  Utsumuku watashi no koto wo,
  Yasashiku mimamotte kureta ne
 
Those are the opening lines of the verse from the first ending song of the anime series Da Capo, which is Mirai E No Melody, sung by CooRie. I suppose it was natural for me to like the song when I first heard it back then since in a way I liked the series.
 
  Kokoro no kakera atsumete,
  Sugu ni todoketaku naru yo,
  Afurete shimaisou fushigi ne
 
This song is quite a slow and lovely ballad which is easy on the ears. The mix of piano playing, synthesizers and a little sound effect makes it a nice song to hear. Okay, perhaps the song don’t stay slow all the way but it gradually picks up a little especially during the chorus. I like the second verse in which the singer sings to a piano solo in the background.
 
  Suzu no ne ga hibiku,
  Namikimichi futari aruita,
  Hitotsu ni naru kage,
  Ureshikutte yuugure mitsumeta
 
Even though I enjoy singing this song, there’s a problem which prevents me from singing it perfectly. Yup, it’s that long voice sustaining high pitched part which is the line just before the chorus and around the last line of the chorus itself. Usually I’m out of breath after crossing that part. I remember that I manage to negotiate that part successfully a handful of times and usually during my peak. But at other times, I flop big time. Talk about inconsistencies.
 
  Sakura no ame ga mau,
  Komorebi ni tsutsumare,
  Ima kono mune ni,
  Furitsumoru setsunasa yo
 
Lyrics wise, this isn’t really a hard song to remember since it’s a love song. Well okay, not so simple since it involves sunsets, sakura cherry blossoms and the seasons. The karaoke version of the song itself has some background vocals so it isn’t that all bad. Actually, partly to ‘hide’ my awful voice ;P.
 
  Meguri yuku kisetsu to,
  Owaranai egao,
  Kitto mirai e no melody,
  Kanadete yukou
 
The tv animation for this song shows real time footage of some scenaries like the river and the sakura petals. Seems calming. The only anime animation is just a short appearance of the character Nemu, at the end of it. So they say practice makes perfect. But I’ve been singing this song for quite some time and I still haven’t quite perfected it yet. Oh yeah, nobody’s perfect. So why practice, right? Well, it’s more like because I love and enjoy singing this song.
 
  Hitomi tojite mo kimi ni aeru itsumo,
  Issho ni…

Inu Yasha

November 10, 2007

When the local tv station finally decide to air the anime series Inu Yasha more than a year ago, I decided to give it a go and watch the series. I don’t really know if it’s the tv station bad habits or what that’s because I tend to notice that anime series with more than 100 episodes have a tendency to stop halfway. Same case here for this series but it didn’t even reach halfway. Heck, not even 1/3 of it.
 
Probably they ran out of money because they decide to rerun the entire series from episode 1 up till, oh wait. They’ve already stopped showing it after a few episodes into the rerun. Because of that, I decided to go on my own and finish watching the series on some online video sharing site which shall remain nameless ;P. Initially I thought of watching it halfway then quit because of the hefty amount of episodes. Thank goodness that I finally manage to watch each and every episode right till the end.
 
Based on the manga of the same name, the series has been adapted into a weekly tv anime series spanning over 167 episodes. That’s a pretty long time if you’re to watch it religiously week by week. By I suppose it’s lesser compared to One Piece or Naruto with over 200 episodes, or even Detective Conan (400 over episodes! Imagine that). If this series bear a little uncanny resemblance in terms of character design and drawing to Ranma 1/2, then don’t be surprise because the author and creator of the series, Rumiko Takahashi, is also responsible for it.
 
But unlike in Ranma 1/2, this series doesn’t focus on mix up love triangles and quadriples. It’s mainly more on the adventure and fantasy of the feudal era in Japan. Sort of. Yes, there is some romance but it’s not the main core. Of course, there is some comedy element in it, which is partly why I kept watching this series. Not to say that every episode will make you laugh out loud, usually the filler episode does. Besides that, you have a more serious action drama to keep viewers in sight of the storyline and plot.
 
Basically we have this half dog half demon guy Inuyasha as the main protagonist. Note that I differentiate the spacing when I spell Inuyasha’s name apart from the title so as not to confuse myself even though it means the same thing. This Inuyasha guy wants to be a full fledge demon so that he could become the most powerful being ever (what else is new) and decides to steal the Shikon Jewels in order to do so. However, he inadvertently falls in love with a miko priestess, Kikyo, who’s supposed to guard the jewel and in a way you could say that their relationship starts off there. Since Inuyasha isn’t the only one after the jewel, there are other monsters and youkais (demons) who are after it so much so Inuyasha and Kikyo have been tricked into fighting each other. It ends with tragedy with Kikyo getting clawed by Inuyasha and Inuyasha himself getting pinned to a tree that transcends time by Kikyo’s arrow before she draws her last breath. Kikyo is then cremated along with the jewel and Inuyasha is stuck to that tree for 50 years.
 
That’s in the past. Fast forward to the present day where we have a high school 15 year old Kagome Higurashi, who lives in a shrine run by her grandpa along with her single parent mom and little brother Souta. There is a well in their shrine and one day Kagome is looking for her pet cat when some centipede monster comes out of the well and drags her into it. The next thing Kagome knows is that she’s in the feudal era and has to run away from the monster or else. I don’t really see any obvious resemblance but every character in the feudal era seems to see Kagome as a reincarnation of Kikyo as she bears her resemblance. Kagome reaches the tree where Inuyasha is trapped at and at the same time the villagers decides to take Kagome and let her see Kaede, Kikyo’s little sister who is an old woman now. After hearing the story between Inuyasha and Kikyo, that monster centipede attacks again. Kagome has no choice but to release the arrow that is lunged in Inuyasha’s body. With that, Inuyasha easily defeats the monster. Looks like his skills haven’t got all rusty yet. To prevent Inuyasha from running away with the jewel, Kaede casts some beads around his neck, which Kagome can restrain him by saying "Osuwari" (to sit) and in a flash, Inuyasha will come crashing to the ground like a good obedient dog. It’s funny to see Kagome do that everytime when she’s pissed off or decides to teach him a lesson. Imagine going "Suwari suwari suwari suwari suwari". Bam bam bam bam bam. Now that’s gotta hurt. Basically, I find that this is the only command which she can say and he to obey.
 
However, more and more demons are coming after the jewel because of wanting to become more powerful so much so during a battle with a crow-like demon, the jewel has been shattered into several shards and is spread throughout the land. Thus, Inuyasha and Kagome have to go on a journey to retrieve the shards. Isn’t it like finding a needle in a haystack? Well you see, Kagome has an uncanny ability to sense the presence of a shard when it’s nearby. So that really does save some time. Furthermore, Kagome is a natural archer and from time to time she will shoot her purified arrow at her enemies to purify the corrupted darkness. In addition to that, whenever any corrupted shard is in her possession, she can somehow purify it. Now she’s really useful. So really a reincarnation of Kikyo?
 
Of course the 2 don’t really get off on a good start at first. I mean, Inuyasha’s your typical rough, crude, grumpy and couldn’t care less about anything else except his own. You get the picture. So as the series progresses, you’ll notice that Inuyasha and Kagome will have a special bond and in a way like each other. However, you won’t see them confessing face to face because Inuyasha’s the kind of guy who has his pride. I mean, even though he cares for the one he loves, he doesn’t really show it upfront and does it in another manner (his way). Just like any other dog, Inuyasha has a keen sense of smell and wears a red robe which is believed to be impenetrable. However I find as the series progresses, his robe doesn’t really protect him much as it gets pierced through and such. Is he being ‘ripped off’? Since Inuyasha isn’t the selfish kind, he sometimes give his robe to protect Kagome from dangerous things. Also, Inuyasha’s a half-demon (hanyou), he turns into a human every night of the full moon. Not only his hair turns black, he’ll lose all his demon powers and is vulnerable at this state. Better not let his enemies find out.
 
With a whole bunch of episodes, it’s not only about these 2 searching for the jewel shards in every episode. That will be downright boring. Of course there are other characters thrown into the fray. Let me briefly state Inuyasha and Kagome’s companions who will be joining them on their journey to search for the Shikon shards. First, a little tiny fox demon kid called Shippou who doesn’t get along well with Inuyasha. Those 2 are like loggerheads but because of Inuyasha’s bigger size, he gets the better of him (being bullied that is). Plus, Shippou has an ability to magnify little things like toys in size. With that, the weight of it too magnifies. He can also transform himself into some weird pink balloon and give whoever rides on him a lift, albeit for a short period of time only. Over the series, I kinda find this Shippou a little big mouth and coward though his intentions are good. Well, during battles, he gets scared and even when he pledges to protect Kagome, he’s shivering in fear. Probably is because he’s just a kid. Also a tiny flea called Myoga who in a way is also a coward. But thing is he provides useful information to Inuyasha and friends before fleeing (oh the pun) when the going gets tough. Myoga usually enters the scene by sucking a little blood from the character he jumps on to and is usually smacked like a mosquito (natural reaction for anybody who is bitten, right?) soon after.
 
Then we have the lecherous monk, Miroku. His a total flirt when he sees a pretty girl’s face and always come up to them and say "Will you bear my children?". I know he may be a little good looking but what on Earth is his thinking. Plus, rubbing a woman’s butt is his form of greeting? If he’s in this world, he’ll be facing lots of lawsuits. He carries along with him a staff and some sutra chants to ward off demons but his main power is his Wind Tunnel (Kazaana) in his right palm. It’s like some super vacuum cleaner which can suck anything into it. Don’t get caught in it. You won’t know where you’ll end up. Miroku has a racoon dog side kick called Hachiemon or Hachi for short. Though he doesn’t follow the gang around and only makes his appearance here and there, I can’t help mention that Hachi can transform himself into a large long piece of sh*t (really! That’s what it look like to me at first!) or rather piece of club with a funny face and fly. Some kind of transport mode, I’d say.
 
Also there is a demon exterminator lady, Sango and her pet Kirara. Sango has some sort of a large oversize boomerang, Hiraikotsu, which she can fling and destroy many demons. Kirara on the other hand can transform herself into a much larger and ferocious beast on fire to help out. Over the series, you’ll notice the love chemistry between Sango and Miroku but because of Miroku’s lecherous ways, it always spoils the mood. So much so Sango has to keep him in check. I wonder what Sango really does see in him after all that flirting moments. Ah ha. She’s just like all the other helpless women who fall for his lame charms. Haha. Just kidding.
 
There are lots more detailed and comprehensive information about the characters, storyline, weapons and other stuffs over the internet. So if you want to more about them (perhaps you’ve turned into an Inuyasha obsessive freak) then you can go to dedicated fansites or even wikipedia to learn more about the series. It’s just like Star Wars or Harry Potter cult but I somehow don’t feel its worldwide impact like those 2 mentioned. For this blog of mine, I’m just gonna blog on important and significant points. In other words, parts which I could remember ;P.
 
One thing I like to mention first is that since Kagome literally goes back in time to the feudal era, how come her actions don’t really have any effect or repercussions on the future? I mean, if they say she went back an alternate world of the feudal era, that’s understandable. But she just went straight back into the past. So who invented the bicycle? A Japanese which goes by the name of Kagome because she does bring her bicycle back into the well to travel during her journey. But later in the series, Inuyasha would just carry her on his back because her bicycle’s destroyed and I suppose it’s much faster that way. What about the food and snacks she brought back then? Did those feudal era villagers get inspiration to make such unusual food from her? Plus, if there were hordes of youkais back then, what happened to them in the future? Extinct like dinosaurs? Wiped out by a single comet? Haih… So much to think about. But I shouldn’t let that get to me. And I suppose the producers could really draw any monsters anyhow they like so long as they are real ugly and mean looking. Yeah, there’re are plenty of them, mostly to be slaughtered.
 
In addition to Inuyasha’s Sankontessou (Iron Reaver Soul Stealer) claws to slash his enemies, Inuyasha has a sword called Tessaiga, which is made from his late father’s fang. Initially, he and his brother Sesshoumaru fought over it at their father’s grave over its possession. Though neither one of them pulls the sword out, surprisingly it’s Kagome who does but since she’s siding with Inuyasha, she gives it to him. Tessaiga is a special sword which can wipe out 100 youkais in a single swing and don’t be fooled by its run down appearance at first. But with a sincere heart (I think), whenever Inuyasha decides to use it, it will transform its shape into a mighty looking one.
 
Speaking of Sesshoumaru, he is a full fledge dog demon and it seems that he and Inuyasha don’t get along to well. He is your typical no emotion, stoic, silent anti-hero of the series. Looks cool in that outfit. He’s neither the bad guy nor the good guy as he does things his way. Though he possesses the Tensaiga, another sword created from their late father’s fang, which can restore life and kill spirits of the afterworld (I later found out that spirits of the afterworld and demons are 2 different beings), Sesshoumaru never understood why his father left him with Tensaiga and not Tessaiga. A reason which I myself still don’t know after watching the series. By the way, Sesshoumaru has a little imp following him around called Jaken. Wielding a 2 headed staff, Jaken is like somewhat a comical factor and provides a little comical relief with his hesitation, pessimism and bunglingness. They also have a 2 headed dragon as its beast of burden named A-un. But I notice that Sesshoumaru prefers to walk rather than ride on it.
 
Another important event is the resurrection of Kikyo. Some old youkai dame decides to resurrect Kikyo for reasons I can’t remember but she herself got burned by her own doing. Since Kikyo’s back alive, Inuyasha is in a dilemma. Yeah, that dog boy still have some feelings for her. So Kagome has to play the patient and understanding girl. Sometimes so frustrating to see them like that. However, the feeling isn’t mutual for Kikyo herself since before she died, she has deep hatred for Inuyasha and her revival doesn’t really change a thing. She still wants Inuyasha dead. Since Kikyo is like the walking dead, she gets her life revitalised through several Shinidamachu (Soul Collectors), some weird looking white eel-like serpent insects which brings souls of the dead and feed it to her. Obviously, she’s not gonna join Inuyasha and co in their quest and wanders around here and there when resurrected. Though I feel that Kikyo harbours less hatred towards Inuyasha towards the end of the series. I also happen to notice that most viewers hate Kikyo. I wonder why? They prefer the Inuyasha-Kagome pair and thinks Kikyo is an obnoxious b*tch. I’m not kidding. To me, she’s just okay.
 
But the baddest and most vile villain of the series is called Naraku. He’s so bad and evil so much so that he manages to manipulate and use people around him to his plans and is always 1 step ahead of our heroes. He’s so bad and evil that he wears some sort of a baboon outfit to hide his face. Why? I think he likes to monkey with other people. Haha. Naraku’s a villain everyone will love to hate. In fact he has a hand in nearly each of everything that happens, which includes the miserable past of our heroes. For instance, Miroku’s Wind Tunnel is supposed to be a curse from him and would one day destroy Miroku himself. Thus, the only way to stop this is to defeat Naraku himself, hence another reason why Miroku joins the party. So why can’t Miroku use his Wind Tunnel and suck Naraku and the likes into it? That’s because everytime Miroku is thinking of doing that, there’ll be some poisonous insects called Saimyoushou hovering around. And if Miroku sucks them up, poison will flow through his body rendering him weak and he could possibly die if he takes in more. So it’s a little funny to see everytime he’s gonna use his Wind Tunnel, the wasps shows up. It’s like oh bummer, can’t use it. 
 
Likewise, Sango’s entire family of demon exterminators has been wiped out when Naraku uses Sango’s beloved little Kohaku to kill everyone. Therefore Sango is out for revenge. As the series goes by you’ll notice that Kohaku is still alive because Naraku has implanted a piece of Shikon Jewel shard in him to keep him alive and do his bidding. In addition, Kohaku’s memories have been erased but not completely as he has that deja vu feeling everytime Sango appears. Speaking of Jewel shards, if 1 small tiny insy bit is powerful enough to do all sorts of wonders, imagine what powers it would hold if it’s a whole, albeit it’s still a tiny jewel. No wonder everyone and everything wants to gets its hands, paws or limbs on it. All in the name of power.
 
Anyway back to Naraku. You’ll also find out that Naraku’s the main culprit and instigator between Inuyasha and Kikyo’s feud. Though Inuyasha tries to convince Kikyo that it’s Naraku’s doing but that miko priestess isn’t listening. Over the series, you’ll see clips of Kikyo and Inuyasha flashback and quite late in the series, there are 2 back to back episodes dedicated about how Inuyasha and Kikyo started and ended. So it’s like putting all the clips together and adding several new ones and wa lah. You’ve got 2 extra episodes with some never seen before clips for viewers to watch. It also tells why Kaede is partially blinded and has an eyepatch, not because she’s a pirate wannabe. Naraku has a large spider scar on his back and usually doesn’t appear directly in front of his enemies. Everytime Inuyasha and co gets to slash Naraku, you’ll see that they just slashed some puppet of Naraku and the big bad boss himself is sitting somewhere far away safe and warm. Though Naraku wants to obtain the Shikon Jewels, he can’t do it by himself. Not because he’s incapable, it’s more like he’s the boss and he should have his own minions to do so. So over the series there’ll be several detachments or creations of Naraku. I’ll just mention the important and longer lasting ones first.
 
First up is a white little girl named Kanna who doesn’t really speak much and carries a mirror around with her. I feel that Kanna doesn’t really appear that much and even so it made me think where she wass all these while. Kanna is very loyal to Naraku but unlike her, another one of Naraku’s creations, Kagura, has a more independent mind and though she is the wind sorceress and does Naraku’s bidding in her earlier appearances, later on, she decides to gain her freedom by using indirect ways to get rid of Naraku but often fails. She has to be careful since Naraku is holding her heart and he can just squish it and kill her anytime. I find it funny that everytime Kagura needs to escape she’ll just pick out a feather from her head and that feather will become enlarged as she flies away. Gone with the wind. I also find that Kagura seems to do more of the offensive part rather than Kanna. Maybe Kanna’s got her hand full by always holding up that mirror.
 
The Inuyasha-Kikyo-Kagome love triangle takes another interesting step with the appearance of Kouga, the leader of the wolf tribe. Kouga is super fast because he has 2 jewel shards implanted in his legs and his poor henchmen Ginta and Hakkaku is always seen trying to catch up to him and catching their breath. Since Inuyasha and Kouga don’t really like each other, any slightest little thing would cause them to quarrel or fight. Only with Kagome around will they be able to calm down (Inuyasha by force of course). Kouga has no qualms about confessing his love for Kagome, which of course makes Inuyasha jealous (this guy won’t admit it of course). I suppose the others enjoy watching the love suspense drama between them. But overall that Inuyasha is still a bloody dense guy when it comes to love. Kagome even notes how he brings density to a whole new level. Even with this 2 loggerheads around, Kouga proves that he is an ally of Inuyasha and gang from time to time especially against Naraku. Yup, that evil guy is responsible for slaughtering Kouga’s men that’s why Kouga is always on the hunt for Naraku.
 
Adding to Sesshoumaru’s party is a little human girl named Rin. She’s an orphaned girl traumatized by demons who slayed her parents and couldn’t speak a word until she met him. Though Sesshoumaru doesn’t give a damn about her, he has no qualms about her following around. Then 1 day, the village that Rin was staying in gets slaughtered again by Kouga’s men. Rin died and I think Sesshoumaru wanted to test his Tensaiga and resurrected Rin. Because of that, Rin felt grateful and decides to follow him. Also after being given a second chance at life, Rin can now speak and is as energetic and curious as a little girl her age. It’s ironic to see that a guy like Sesshoumaru who hates humans taking in one. As mentioned though he lets her do what she wants, at times she comes to her rescue when in trouble. Throughout the series, the reason why Sesshoumaru lets her follow him around isn’t revealed.
 
As the series progresses, not only you’ll see the relationship and friendship bonding of our heroes, but Inuyasha gets a chance to power up and learn new skills as well. For instance, a deadly battle leaves Inuyasha’s Tessaiga broken so he has to forge a new one by seeking out a skilled sword craftsman named Totosai. At first glance, Totosai may look like an old senile idiot. Yes he is one, but he’s quite good in his skills though he doesn’t give direct answers to Inuyasha. Probably he thinks it’s better to let him find out and learn it himself. With a new Tessaiga made out from one of the defeated creations of Naraku, Inuyasha also learns a new skill so that he won’t just simply charge and blindly swing his sword. Hey, if you’re gonna use that sword, might as well do it with some skill and style. One of the first techniques Inuyasha will learn using the Tessaiga is the Wind Scar (Kaze No Kizu). I’m not sure about Totosai’s explanations, it uses the wind (obviously) and it has a devastating blow and leaves a trail of destruction (like a scar). Another skill learned along the way is the Backlash Wave (Bakuryuuha) which uses the youkai’s own energy projection against itself. Also, Myoga suggests about powering up Tessaiga by defeating some powerful evil bat (bad bat doesn’t sound nice) in order to break Naraku’s strong barrier. Having done so, Each time Inuyasha uses his Tessaiga to break Naraku’s barrier, the Tessaiga will turn blood red and is able to penetrate it.
 
Besides Inuyasha’s power up and the gang’s quest to hunt down Naraku, there are other episodes which involves the other characters as well. Meaning, filler episodes and are usually when the main story arc finishes and before a new one starts. Like how Shippou falls in love with a young human girl and tries to protect her, Shippou getting a challenge from a younger sibling of the deceased Thunder Brothers, Myoga running away from his bride to be (just like men and responsibility, huh?), Kirara went missing and the gang thought they took advantage of her as they try to find her but finds out that Kirara went to help carry some stuff for Myoga and Totosai, Inuyasha doing some chores for Totosai thinking that it’s some rigid training (but they’re indeed his normal chores), a group of young girls wanting Sango to teach them demon slaying techniques but their true intentions are actually to steal the demon exterminator’s weapons and fight the youkais themselves, Shippou getting possessed by a parasitic youkai bug, a childhood friend of Sango who wants to marry her after meeting her again and witnessing her demon extermination techniques but in the end gave up because he thinks she has found a better partner (Miroku, that is. How ironic), Kikyo’s rival shrine maiden Tsubaki who wants to take revenge on the former for ‘taking away’ her beauty and youth (more like her own doing).
 
Miroku finds that he has bore several children of a woman (which is of course a trick of a woman youkai), Miroku’s master and his last days as the gang decides to make his last moments a memorable one but in the end finds out that he’s just drunk and doing find, a woman (later found out being possessed by demons) who loves Sesshoumaru and tries to please him by stealing the Tessaiga but Sesshoumaru isn’t too amuse by her, Kouga’s bride-to-be Ayame who comes back and tries to make Kouga remember his promise back then to make her his bride (that guy is trying to run away from his responsibility too? Is he two-timing Kagome? Not. Kouga’s pretty much more into Kagome than Ayame), an odd-demon exterminator old woman who doesn’t look like one but gets things done when needed (a fluke, I’d say), Jaken falling ill as Rin tries to find a cure before he dies, Jaken trying to steal the Tessaiga, Hachi impersonating as Miroku to flirt with women and in a way gives him a bad name, Kikyo helping a repentant bandit find some salvation, some split personality guy who creates fake Shikon Jewels, fighting against the Panther tribe before they revive their great cat leader (it’s cats vs dogs here), helping other villagers or gentle and docile youkais against evil human bandits and spirits (whether it’s from their constant rampaging or preventing their lovely and pretty daughter being taken away as a bride), are among the many stand alone fillers which can serve as an episode itself and not necessarily have any relation to the main story arc. Though it’s best to see them in order.
 
Since Kagome isn’t making this feudal era her permanent home (more like her second home actually), at times she goes back to her own world. Usually when after she and Inuyasha ends up after a quarrel (like a lover’s one. Hehehe), when she has to replenish her supplies or is sick. Speaking of which, because Kagome is spending much of her adventures in the past, her grandpa always has to cook up some elaborated reasons about Kagome’s illness. Yeah, some we’ve never even heard of. But you can’t argue with the shrine master, can’t you? It’s a wonder how Kagome gets to catch up on her work. Not to say that she’s the brightest student and pass with flying colours, she manages to get by each time. Then there are Kagome’s girl pals, Yuka, Eri and Ayumi. The trio are like busybodies and since they know Kagome has a crush on a boy called Houjo, they try to play matchmaking. But that’s before Kagome met Inuyasha. So it’s quite funny to see Kagome trying not to give too much away about Inuyasha to her friends as they think Kagome’s two-timing the guys. Even Kagome’s description of Inuyasha as an abusive and tough boyfriend don’t help much as the trio wonders why she still stick around with him.
 
Sometimes Inuyasha can’t wait patiently for Kagome to come back so much so he goes into the well and into her world to look for her. It seems that not everyone can do time travelling. So far only Kagome, Inuyasha and a handful of youkais can do so through that well. It would be plain weird for the modern people to see somebody with dog ears running around. It seems Souta seems to think of Inuyasha as his big bro and Inuyasha likes to ‘play’ with the family’s pet cat whenever he’s waiting in their house (not chase after it, but rather hold up its 2 hind legs with his hands). Eventually Kagome’s pals manage to meet Inuyasha face to face after all that dodging Kagome did to hide him. But they didn’t make a big deal out of it and don’t think he’s a such a bad guy after all. Filler episodes in Kagome’s world include Kagome helping her buddies for the school festival but when some youkai appears it’s up to her and Inuyasha to stop them (I like the part whereby an unsuspecting Inuyasha is facing off Houjo for Kagome on a stage play. Then a youkai comes and Inuyasha beats it up with his Wind Scar which totally destroys the stage. Everybody loves it because the effects were so real), Kagome trying to study for her upcoming test, and even trying to help Souta confess to his first love Hitomi (what’s with that Detective Conan outfit?).
 
Back to the feudal era, Kagura tries to gain her freedom by asking Sesshoumaru to kill Naraku but Sesshoumaru doesn’t take orders from anybody, pissing Kagura off. Later on, Naraku abducts Rin and threatens to kill her if he doesn’t kill Inuyasha. Later, Rin escapes from her captive’s place with Kohaku but since the latter is under Naraku’s control, he orders him to kill Rin. I’m not sure if Sesshoumaru actually cares for Rin or not but in the end in a way he abandons his match with Naraku to save her when he confronts Kohaku just in time before he slashes her. Inuyasha is fearing the worst because Sesshoumaru won’t have any mercy on human beings. However, Sesshoumaru decides to spare the boy’s life because he refuses to do Naraku’s bidding (which he thinks is to kill Kohaku) and leaves. After this, Sesshoumaru changes his objective to hunt down Sesshoumaru from his initial desire for Tessaiga. Also, during the battle between Naraku, Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru, Naraku’s barrier was destroyed by Inuyasha’s red Tessaiga leaving Naraku a little surprised. Naraku decides to escape and over the next several episodes, we won’t be seeing Naraku for quite a while. He’s hiding himself to make himself stronger. As for our heroes, they’ll need all the clues they can get to locate Naraku.
 
I somehow got interested with the resurrection of the Band Of Seven (Shichinintai) story arc. They were once a group of merciless and bloodthirsty mercenaries who were executed. It is rumoured that Naraku had resurrected them since there is a jewel shard in each of them (Naraku has a near complete possession of the Shikon Jewel) but Naraku’s whereabouts and appearance remains unknown. They include the leader Bankotsu who is the leader and the youngest one and wields a large halberd, the pretty boy Jakotsu with his snake sword (at first I thought he was a she because he looks like a girl and sounds like one. A homosexual, I’d say. Not only that he loves Inuyasha’s looks and wants to fight him), Renkotsu who spits fire and has an ulterior motive, the double claw wielding Suikotsu who also seem to have a split personality, Ginkotsu who has several weaponry and looks like that character from an American horror movie, little petite poison master Mukotsu, and the huge giant Kyoukotsu. Hmmm.. Why do their names end with ~kotsu? Brothers? So which means Sango’s Hiraikotsu is… Nah, no relation actually. So we see Inuyasha and gang, along with Kouga, Sesshoumaru and even Kikyo all coming into the picture to hunt down Naraku but are met with the resistance of the Band Of Seven. With the fights, twist and turn in the plots, I think this is the most interesting arc in the series. Also the good guys are suspecting something about Mt Hakurei. It’s a place where no evil spirits or youkai could enter and even if they do enter, they’ll be purified. So it’s bad news for Inuyasha even though he’s a hanyou as they try to check things out.
 
Later it is revealed that indeed Naraku resurrected the Band Of Seven to stall Inuyasha and those after his head so that he could recover. Moreover, Naraku is hiding inside Mt Hakurei itself. If such a holy place has a purifying effect on youkais, first thought is that this would be the last place to look for, right? Sango and Miroku went ahead to check things out but only met Kagura. The duo found out that some semi-dead monk is responsible for putting up the strong barrier and is working for Naraku. Why? Some back story on how he wanted to become a living Buddha to help people so much so the villagers buried him alive. Then it hit him why am I so dumb therefore I don’t wanna die. During that time, Naraku appeared at his weakest moment and convinced him to be on his side. That sly cunning guy. Even so, this monk is believed by the villagers to be some legendary protector of the land. See, even guys like him can cross over to the dark side.
 
So one by one our heroes (and anti-heroes as well) dispose the Band Of Seven. Beginning with Kouga defeating Kyoukotsu (what a short appearance for this guy which lasted for 1 episode only). Followed by Sesshoumaru who slashed Mukotsu without mercy (thus saving Kagome from becoming that ugly shorty’s bride), Ginkotsu is next but Inuyasha only manage to destroy his body as Renkotsu remakes Ginkotsu’s body into a stronger armour tank. Ginkotsu self destructs during his later battle with Inuyasha and Kouga. Then Kikyo helped purify and release Suikotsu also partly because of the latter’s good half who doesn’t want to hurt anymore people. Though Renkotsu has his battle with Inuyasha and Kouga, his intention is to obtain as much jewel shards so that he could defeat Bankotsu. Eventually, Bankotsu himself kills Renkotsu. No match at all as Bankotsu shows him who the real boss is. Though Bankotsu is wicked, he still has some honour and pride like not betraying one’s own comrades. Jakotsu gets his wish to take on Inuyasha but ultimately looses. Thus it’s a final one on one match between Inuyasha and Bankotsu. A match to see whose sword is the mightiest. Since Inuyasha is the hero, of course he wins lah. But he didn’t really kill Bankotsu. After Bankotsu’s defeat, Naraku appears! This time he has discarded his baboon suit and looks more ferocious with tentacles and thorns sprouting out from his back. With Naraku coming back, Mt Hakurei collapses (probably to show how big and bad Naraku’s return with) as Kagura and Kanna flees.
 
However, there is another reason why Naraku went through all this elaborated set up. He wants to get rid of Kikyo. Before all this, you’ll see pieces of episode about Kikyo and Naraku. It seems that Naraku is also a hanyou and his current body originates from a bandit called Onigumo. Onigumo is recuperating in some cave with Kikyo attending to his wounds when Naraku commands all the youkais to ‘eat him’ so that he could become stronger. But Onigumo has 1 flaw, he is in love with Kikyo and because of that, Naraku has a hard time disposing a resurrected Kikyo. There’s even an episode whereby Onigumo detaches himself from Naraku’s body and goes on to find his memories and Kikyo under the name of Musou. But eventually he got reunited with Naraku’s body. So back to this story, without Onigumo’s heart, Naraku eventually manages to face Kikyo and kills her! Those who hate her must be real happy. Unfortunately, Inuyasha isn’t. He’s depressed and guilty by the fact that he couldn’t protect her. I also seem to notice that after this story arc, Kouga won’t be appearing anymore. Maybe he’s off on a wild goose chase after Naraku.
 
So for several episodes, the gang continue their quest to search for Naraku. Thus more filler episodes and other youkai terminating quests like the episode whereby Kagome discovers one of Houjo’s ancestors, Akitoki. It alls started when Houjo brings his family tree scroll to school and they save Kagome’s name there. So is that guy married to her back in the past? This short story arc sees Akitoki requesting Inuyasha’s help to seal some super halberd. Of course some demon called Hoshiyomi wants to steal it and combine it with another sword kept apart so that he could be powerful. He has 4 demon ninjas to help him stall Inuyasha and co but I felt that their fight was short because Miroku sucked them all up with his Wind Tunnel. Yeah, one of the demon ninja is like gay, and that match with him and Akitoki is pathetic and gay-like. Hilarious. As usual, some back story about him a youkai falling in love with a human mortal, Tsukiyomi, and just like Inuyasha-Kikyo’s case, she ‘betrayed’ him and sealed him. She has her reason for doing so that is to stop him from going insane. Hoshiyomi realizes everything bla bla bla things go back to normal, day is saved. So did Kagome end up being Akitoki’s bride? Well, Akitoki ‘admits’ defeat to Inuyasha, but along the way, he picked up lady and decides to call her Kagome.
 
Back to the Naraku story arc. After the Mt Hakurei incident, it seems Naraku is now after Kagome’s eyes. That’s because with Kikyo’s demise, only Kagome has this ability to see the jewel shards. Not only that, Naraku has a new creation in a form of a baby. It seems Naraku has nearly completed the Shikon Jewel with the exception of 1 in Kohaku’s body and 2 in Kouga’s legs. Which means there is 1 more shard left. Where could it be? Naraku enlists the help of some demon with long ears to hear where it is and he concludes that the final shard is at the border between the dead and the living world. To cut things short, that place is where Inuyasha’s father’s tomb is. Yup, he’s been there before when he fought Sesshoumaru for the Tessaiga but the problem is how to get back there (I supposed that black pearl in Inuyasha’s eye can only be used once). Meanwhile, Naraku’s baby is killing shinto priests to find a path to the next world with Kagura accompanying him when he is sliced into 2 by a strong priest before the latter breaths his final breath. But that isn’t the end of Hakudoushi, with his body split into 2, one of them remains a baby called Akago and Kanna takes the responsibility of carrying it with her while the other half grows into a young kid. Soon Hakudoushi manages to tame and master a powerful demonic horse, Entei.
 
True to his evil self, Naraku tries to use Inuyasha and co as a bait to find the path to the next world like making them go head first in some cave which is the gate to the afterlife only to be faced with stone guards. But there is a catch, which is, one must die to enter the next world (seems logic, right?). And if you try to go in otherwise, you’ll turn into stone. So Inuyasha and co have to find another way. Meanwhile Naraku enlists the help of some bird demon, Abihime, who is in the midst of terrorizing human villagers and draining their blood so that she could use it and cure her sick mom, Tekkei, hiding underneath some large mountain. Naraku promises her that if she helps him, he’ll help her obtain human blood faster and gives her some spear made from his bones to help ward off Inuyasha. Though Abihime is sceptical, she goes on her usual routine of destroying villagers but I guess it’s kinda annoying when she has to meet Inuyasha everytime so much so Inuyasha and co thinks she’s in cahoots with Naraku. Well, indirectly.
 
I suppose the series can’t be complete without Kikyo. Yup, that miko priestess is brought back to life again. See when Naraku disposes off Kikyo at Mt Hakurei, he didn’t really do a proper job. And I thought if you want a job done, you have to do it yourself. Looks like he’s careless. Kikyo is languishing in some waterfall area and she has 2 little shikigami children as her… sidekick? They’re Asuka and Kocho. During Abihime’s onslaught on the villages, a mysterious figure who look like Kikyo, under the guise of some saint, saves them with their purification arrow. So is it her. It look so much like her. Anyway, Kagome manages to find Kikyo in that pool and I think it’s some out-of-body experience thing which enables her to go around saving villagers. I think. Kagome decides to save Kikyo as she tries to purify the poison within her body. Kagome successful does and wah la! Kikyo’s back but is still her usual self and goes off to hunt Naraku. Not joining the gang anytime. In a way, I suppose Inuyasha is glad. Also at this point in time, Kohaku’s encounter with Sango has made him regain his memories. But he decides not to let anyone know yet and still acts like as though he’s under Naraku’s control in order not to raise any suspicions so that he could kill Naraku.
 
So it’s a showdown between Naraku, Inuyasha and Abihime as Tekkei is finally cured and is gonna wreck havoc (looks like a giant rooster). Tekkei shows her gratitude towards Naraku by devouring him. But that’s part of his plan. He can’t die that easily. Naraku then bursts and emerges from Tekkei’s body, making Abihime horrified. He then uses that spear he gave to Abihime against her and kills her outright. It seems that the plan is to create a river of blood which will open the path to the border to the next world. Naraku heads in with Inuyasha close on his heels as they enter into the next world. What about Sesshoumaru? He gets word from Kagura about Naraku’s whereabouts as she leads him to that cave. How did Sesshoumaru pass whereby everyone else fails. Since he’s wielding the Tensaiga, a sword not of this world, he is allowed to enter. That easy?
 
The gang finally reaches the border of the next world and Inuyasha’s father’s tomb. Brings back memories, huh? The shard is embedded in Housenki, the deceased demon who created that black pearl. But Housenki is not giving up the shard. Soon Naraku arrives and a battle ensues. Also, Inuyasha’s Tessaiga does another power up. I’ll skip the details. This time, it’s called Kongousouha (Adamant Barrage. But diamond spear wave is a much better translation) whereby Tessaiga becomes hardened like a diamond and is now able to shoot solid crystals. Sesshoumaru soon arrives and attacks Naraku. In short, with the combined attacks of Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha’s Kongousouha and Kagome’s super purification arrow (given by a resurrected Kikyo earlier on), they manage to defeat Naraku once more. But that guy is as slippery as an eel as he make his escape once more. How did Naraku get back? It seems his link back to their world is through Hakudoushi. Don’t remember much about it but as for Inuyasha and co, I’m thinking they follow Sesshoumaru back to that cave (they didn’t show how they got out). At least that final shard is in Kagome’s possession.
 
Back to their real world, Naraku is aware that Kikyo is still alive and orders Hakudoushi and Kohaku to unleash unlimited demon rats to ravage villages in order to draw Kikyo out. Sango is disheartened to find out Kohaku is behind this but he has no choice. Yeah, lucky for Kohaku, Saimyoushou is watching and observing him. After overcoming this rat problem, Kikyo tells Inuyasha the reason why Naraku cannot die after countless time of blasting and ripping him apart may be due to the fact that his heart is somewhere. Therefore, they need to find it in order to have a chance to destroy Naraku. In short, that Akago is supposedly Naraku’s heart and Kanna’s guarding it at some cave. That girl is gonna get bored.
 
Lately, Inuyasha can’t smell Naraku’s presence and the gang finds out that Naraku has obtained an orb called Fuyouseki, in which he stole from a slumbering mountain youkai, Gakusaijin, which hides his demonic aura. Naraku should’ve done this a long time ago. Fuyouseki is seen in the hands of Akago and Gakusaijin gives Inuyasha and co some crystals so that they could trace Naraku. However, it seems Hakudoushi is unleashing random attacks of experimenting monsters (like trying to assemble different parts of monsters and put them into 1) on Inuyasha and co. It seems that his intention is to steal the crystal and Hakudoushi and his creation, Mouryoumaru manage to do so.
 
Thus the gang has to look for Fuyouseki without it and it leads them to some guy called Goryomaru at a temple. This guy has a demon arm which shoot lights to destroy youkais. Meanwhile Kagura is trying to investigate Akago and Naraku’s heart which leads her to Goryomaru’s temple. I don’t remember the reason but Kagura concludes that Naraku is really playing safe like hiding a leaf in a forest because that temple is overwhelmed with other youkais, in a way it hides the presence of Naraku’s heart. Thus Kagura launches an attack but got blast instead. Is this the end of her? Soon Hakudoushi appears and kills Goryomaru. So happened that Sesshoumaru and his entourage were passing by when Rin spots Kagura floating in the water and proceeds to rescue her, ignoring Jaken’s advice. But luckily for Kagura, since her heart is in Naraku’s possession, she can’t really die yet as she regenerates back to her normal self. I wonder why it took so long to regenerate. But Kagura tells Sesshoumaru about Naraku’s weakness and his heart in hopes of getting him to destroy Naraku.
 
The final episode of the series sees Naraku purposely making Kagura to lead Inuyasha and gang to the cave where Kanna and Akago are hiding. Upon arrival, Kanna flees with Akago and Inuyahsa realizes that it’s a trap because they’re deep within what supposedly is a stone demon’s stomach. They need to get out quick or else the stomach acid will dissolve them. Plus, Inuyasha’s Wind Scar can’t do much so he suggests for Kagome to put her single Shikon shard on his Tessaiga to increase its power. This is also part of Naraku’s plan because he knows that the shard is purified when it’s with Kagome. Once it leaves her hands, Inuyasha will transform into a full demon. And Inuyasha’s losing it. It got me thinking, that Inuyasha may be weak! That’s because I don’t recall other demons turning into such when they get a hold of a piece of Shikon shard. Naraku’s a bad ass himself so nothing more to say. Oh wait, I just remembered Inuyasha’s a hanyou and weak full fledge youkais did loose their sanity and went berserk when they came into possession of it. So Kagome has to run over to him, risking her life, hugs him in order to purify the shard and return Inuyasha back to his hanyou self. With that, Inuyasha and Kagome blasts their way out of the demon stomach to foil Naraku’s plans once again. Meanwhile Kikyo arrives to encounter Kanna and tries to shoot her with her arrow but Mouryoumaru protects and sweeps Kanna and Akago to safety and disappears. Sesshoumaru arrives at Goryomaru’s temple only to find it a rubble and leaves.
 
With that, I find the ending a little dissatisfying. In fact, it didn’t end at all. We see Kagome recuperating but since her injuries aren’t that bad, she continues her journey to find the Shikon shards and Naraku with Inuyasha and co. Everything goes on for the other characters. Kagome’s mom is seen buying a new pair of shoes for Kagome (after her old one got dissolved in that demon’s stomach), Souta dating Hitomi, Kagome’s 3 pals are bringing Houjo somewhere and Kagome’s grandpa is still around doing some cataloguing. Even in the feudal era, Totosai continues to forge swords, Naraku and Hakudoushi are seen together with his near complete Shikon Jewel as Kagura looks on, Kanna still carrying Akago and trekking somewhere with Mouryoumaru, while Kohaku is practising with his weapon somewhere. Kikyo is standing and overlooking the scenery (wonder what happened to Asuka and Kosho), Sesshoumaru and his followers are still walking somewhere, Kouga and his 2 followers are still running somewhere. You get the point.
 
Overall, I was hoping that it would all end at the last episode but I later found out that even though the anime series has ended the manga is still ongoing. So if you’re interested in knowing more characters, storylines and weapon abilities, you’ll be better off reading the 30 over volumes. And this manga series is still ongoing. Will it ever end? Well, it ends here for me since I’m not really that obsessed about this series. Even at the end of the last episode, Inuyasha and Kagome thank faithful viewers who have been with them for 4 years. Wow. That feels like a long time. However, after the series ended, there is 1 Inu Yasha movie out per year. So far 4 movies have been released. There’s even a videogame on the series for those who can’t get enough. I think I’ll pass since I’ve got more than enough.
 
I want to note that I watched the entire series over 3 different languages. First it was the Malay dubbed on the local tv, then the English dubbed version over the Internet soon after, and finally the original Japanese version later on (around near the end of the Band Of Seven story arc). Of course I’d say I still prefer the original Japanese one. Another thing I want to note about the Japanese version is that, besides Inuyasha and his main group of travelling companions, all other major, side, supporting characters and even those who would play a significant or important role in a story arc or only a particular episode, will have their names appearing on the screen when they’re first introduced. Now that’s a way to drill their name into your head. But later on, it gets a little annoying because it made me go "Hey, you don’t have to tell me his/her name. I already know it lah!". Also, the Japanese version has a short section at the end of most of the episodes called Inuyasha Jar, whereby they ask viewers to guess some jumbled up picture in a box, which will be revealed after the next episode preview.
 
The drawing, art and animation seems pretty okay to me but at times, the scenes may get a little dark and gory especially when it involves those hideous youkais. One thing I would like to note is that I seem to notice that the ordinary villagers and peasants do look the same from 1 village to another. I mean, all the women villagers have that 1 typical look, so do the farmers, the young children and even those samurai warriors. Though in a way, their role may be insignificant, it sometimes made me feel like deja vu like have I seen this face before in some previous episode. Also, not to say this is anything but I kinda notice that the mid-intermission of the series on average happen around the 16th minute. That’s because other mid-intermissions of other animes usually happen even before the halfway point and not even reaching a full 10 minutes. Am I that picky to notice such insignificant things? There are also several artbooks if you can’t get enough of the drawings.
 
There are quite a variety of background music over the series ranging from slow ballads to upbeat battle themes to comical tunes and eerie ones, though I find some of them to sound the same but they vary in terms of the beat and musical instruments used so as to suite the mood and scene. Of all the opening and ending themes of the series, the ones I like best is still the first opening song, Change The World, by v-6, and the first ending song, My Will, by Dream. The 4th opening theme, Grip, by Every Little Thing sounds okay too while the 6th opening theme, Angelus, sung by Hitmoi Shimatani, sounds very much like a samba song. Nearly made me get up and do the samba. Of course there are others from slow ballads like the 3rd ending song by Ayumi Hamasaki, Dearest, the 5th opening theme, One Day One Dream by Tackey & Tsubasa, and the 4th ending song by Boa, Every Heart, to the more rock-like ones such as the 3rd opening theme Owaranai Yume by Nanase Aikawa. The 6th ending theme Come, by Namie Amuro sounds a little techno while the 2nd ending theme Fukai Mori by Do As Infinity is more of a slow rock. The rest sound like pop songs which include the 2nd opening theme, I Am, by Hitomi, the 6th ending theme, Itazurana Kiss, by Day After Tomorrow, and the 8th ending theme, Brand New World, by v-6.
 
Kappei Yamaguchi is the voice of Inuyasha, and is famous for other roles like the male Ranma of Ranma 1/2 and Hideyoshi of The Law Of Ueki. Noriko Hidaka who voices Kikyo also voices Akane of Ranma 1/2 and Soujiro of Rurouni Kenshin. See the connection between Inu Yasha and Ranma 1/2 lovers even in the seiyuu? Satsuki Yukino is Kagome and is also well known as Chidori of Full Metal Panic, Mutsumi of Love Hina, Kouda of Girl’s High, Mei Li of Chuuka Ichiban, Tina of Ai Yori Aoshi, Ayu of Ultra Maniac and the human form of Yoruichi in Bleach. Ken Narita does Sesshoumaru and you can recognize him as Lin of Ghost Hunt. Naraku is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa who also voices Mitsuomi of Tenjou Tenge, Homura in Gensoumaden Saiyuki and The King Of Devils in Shuffle. Miroku’s voice actor is Kouji Tsujitani who is the voice behind Dr Akai in Maburaho while Houko Kuwashima is Sango who also does Kagura of Azumanga Daioh and Ryouta of Kyo No Go No Ni. The high pitched and funny sounding Shippou is voiced by Kumiko Watanabe and you might recognize her as the voice of Keroro in Keroro Gunso. I was a little surprised that the voice of Enma Ai in Jigoku Shoujo, Mamiko Noto, is the voice behind Rin. This lady has voiced a lot of anime characters.
 
So if you like good versus evil kind of anime with some hint of comedy and romance, this series is worth checking out. Besides, since it has accumulated lots of fans around the globe, I’m sure it has to be something. I don’t think Inuyasha will ever get to confess his true feelings likewise Miroku won’t stop his lecherous ways even though he told Sango that he’d be with her after all this ends. At the rate they’re going, heh heh. So is it an excuse for him to flirt around before he commits? Ah, men.
 
See how 1 tiny little jewel can cause so much havoc and trouble. It’s like making a mountain out of a molehill. No, make that an erupting volcano mountain. In a way, it seems pretty much similar to some things in our world, right? If such jewel were to exist in our world, I’m wondering how much it would fetch at Yahoo! Auctions. Ah ha. I see it has effected me as well.

Ultimate Girls

November 9, 2007

I remember those younger days of mine where I used to watch those real action Ultraman shows on tv. Then when I watched Ultimate Girls, it sort of bring back a little of those memories. If the title does sound like some raunchy all-female wrestling show, then you’re greatly mistaken.
 
Sure, this series definitely has some ecchi elements in it. But I suppose that’s what help make it a comedy and funny in the first place. Plus, I kinda find this series a mix between a magical girl and an Ultraman series genre. Instead of those huge masked robot-like heroes from outer space, we have little school going girls who take the role of Earth’s saviour.
 
However unlike those half hour Ultraman shows, this series has only 12 episodes spanning approximately 12 minutes each. But like in those Ultraman series, monsters do exists and are constantly destroying and annihilating the city for their whatsoever reasons. Thus, you’ll see lots of buildings and infrastructure getting smashed and destroyed. I suppose this is where the big chunk of the government’s budget goes. Into repairing back those buildings. Isn’t it a drag? But that’s not the point.
 
Due to copyrighting issues, of course the saviour of this series can’t be named Ultraman. Instead, we’ve got UFO Man to save the day and has an uncanny resemblance to Ultraman. Hey, maybe he’s one of their relatives seeing that Ultraman himself has lots of spinoffs and family members. Since the monsters’ attack are pretty frequent on a weekly basis (there’s even a specific day of the week whereby the monster would pop out and attack, which is Monday. I think now I know why people hate black Mondays), most of Earth’s inhabitants would still go on with their daily routine and lives while the jumbo fight carries on in the background. Can’t have them screaming and panicking each time a monster appears, right?
 
So we have our 3 main protagonist girls, Silk Koharuno, a very shy and reserved girl but is the main heroine, Tsubomi Moroboshi, an otaku and cosplay bespectacled freak, and Viviene Outori, a half Japanese breed. While the 3 are out doing some shopping in episode 1, an orange Goszilla-like monster attacks the city as usual. Tsubomi urges her pals to rush to the site so that they could possibly have a glimpse of UFO Man. As luck would have it, UFO Man appears from the sky ready to do battle.
 
Unfortunately, when UFO Man landed, he squashed the trio. Wow. So early into the episode and our heroines are already squashed dead. But all is not lost yet. To cut things short, UFO Man agrees to ressurect them all back to life but has a favour to ask of them in return. Silk is relieved since she hasn’t confessed to her secret crush yet, Makoto. This guy is some sort of photography-cum-reporter student correspondent and goes round the city on his motorbike to take pictures of the monster’s attack on the city. Plus, he is Tsubomi’s older brother.
 
I suppose this monster rampaging thing has created few new jobs because we see that there are 2 newscasters (or rather commentators) who go live to the scene whenever a monster and UFO Man do battle. They are the old and peverted guy Yosaku Okamura and his assistant Mayu Koharuno, who is Silk’s elder sister. And that Okaumura guy has a knack (yeah right) for giving names for monsters that appear. Maybe he simply loves giving names to things. The pair is reporting on another monster attack and they’re wondering why UFO Man hasn’t showed up yet.
 
Where could he be? At some isolated place, it looks like UFO Man has become a little flying… whatever that is. He looks so comical. Plus, he is more peverted if you notice. Remember his favour in return for the trio’s ressurection? UFO Man is asking Silk to grab his erm… that little rod thingy down there which resembles like some male anatomy and is freaking Silk out! Which girl wouldn’t? Plus, that thingy just ‘elongated’ so that he could let Silk grab it. Ahem ahem. Seriously, Silk is still hesitating when Viviene comes to and whacks UFO Man, thinking what that perverted guy has done to her. After a few more explanations (like how UFO Man can’t transform alone since he used up part of his body to ressurect them) and persuasion, Silk has no choice but to grab it. And thus the henshin begins. We see UFO Man merging with them while the girl’s clothes disappear so that she could don a futuristic tight fitting one. Isn’t all so typical?
 
Now Silk is as large as the monster and is upfront against it. Yeah, all she does is scream like a little girl and pushed the monster down. I think the monster is probably surprised that it’s up against a girl rather than UFO Man. Meanwhile Okamura and the rest too are surprised that a female UFO Man appeared. That monster is quick to get back on its feet and proceeds to pound Silk. However Silk doesn’t have any fighting abilities so I suppose she’s scared stiff and getting whack by the monster.
 
UFO Man warns Silk that she must get this over with or else something bad will happen. I remember back then Ultraman must be a weakling because if a fight takes too long, his light will start flashing and he will tremendously lose his powers. Yup, that’s what is happening to Silk. But it’s not power that she’s losing. It’s her clothes! Oh the ecchi part. You can see her clothes disappearing and holes appearing as time pass and in no time she’ll be naked! This is bad since she’s in public. Being on the front cover of Playboy magazine wouldn’t be that bad.
 
Silk is frantically trying to run away and is really embarrassed of her state (obviously some people like Okamura is enjoying it) when suddenly Silk lets loose a blood curling scream of embarrassment which sends the monster to be blasted into smithereens. Silk then returns to her normal size but is all naked. Tsubomi and Viviene rush to her side and luckily Tsubomi has some cosplay costume for her to put on. Tsubomi also tells them that she came up with a name for her when she saw Silk do battle, that is, Ultimate Girl. Just then Makoto arrives and tells the gang about the new wonder and shows them a clip about Okamura getting excited and naming the new heroes as UFO Man P, which stands for Pichi Pichi (lively and freshly). This guy is really enjoying it. So Makoto goes off in search of that UFO Man P while UFO Man himself tells Silk to keep up the good work. I don’t think Silk really wants to do all this. I mean, saving the world from monsters at such a tender age, your childhood years will be gone, man. Not only that, getting naked… I wouldn’t want this kind of deal too.
 
So it’s gonna be like this over the next few episodes. Yeah, you could say that it follows some sort of pattern. A different monster shows up (usually in some ecchi form) and the girls will have to transform with UFO Man to defeat the monster. Okamura and Mayu arrive at the fight scene and does their usual commenting while Makoto takes more snapshots and gets intrigued to who the new heroines are and decides to find out more about them. Fight fight fight, ecchi ecchi ecchi, nearly getting naked and in the end, our little large-sized heroines save the day and the monster is defeated. Put in a little drama and suspense and there you have it.
 
Thus in episode 2, the girls are out together again, as expected a monster shows up and UFO Man wants Silk to transform and go into battle. Umm… Though the monster this time looks like a train, why does it have a train coach sticking out from its crotch area! So disgusting obviously! Silk is still embarrassed the last time she became naked and is hesitating to grab UFO Man’s stick (let’s call it that). However, Tsubomi says that she’ll do it this time since she concluded that UFO Man’s body has been divided into 3 of them so it’s possible for her to transform too.
 
Uh-huh. Tsubomi is so so eager. She’s saying it’s her dream bla bla bla and even strips naked before she grabs UFO Man’s stick. The funny part is that when she does, unlike Silk’s henshin as seen in the previous episode, we have a waiting screen asking viewers to be patient as Tsubomi transforms as the meter gauge shows the time it takes for her to transform. Tsubomi finally does and goes into battle. Everyone else is anticipating last week’s UFO Man P to show up but is surprised to see a different one. Before Tsubomi fights, she writes on a building by introducing herself as Ultimate Girl, much to Okamura’s dismay (he likes that P word better, huh? Yeah, P for pervert) but to Mayu’s joy as she gladly would call her that from now on.
 
Unfortunately, just like Silk, Tsubomi doesn’t really have any fighting powers and time is running out. It does run out. Tsubomi is getting naked but she’s enjoying it! That girl think being naked is some sort of art! Have you no shame girl? But Tsubomi soon gets pounded and reverts back to her normal size. While Tsubomi is knocked out, Viviene remembers a flashback whereby her mom told her that in order to be a true Japanese woman, one musn’t show her skin in public. I didn’t know that. While UFO Man is pleading for Silk to be the one, Viviene quickly grabs UFO Man’s stick. Probably she doesn’t want to see Silk go through all that embarrassment again. You know, everytime somebody grabs his stick, UFO Man is gonna go "Ah~…". Like is it so nice?
 
Viviene goes into a henshin just like Tsubomi. Yup, a waiting screen. Okamura and Mayu wonders where that Ultimate Girl had gone to when Viviene emerges. They notice how different she is from the previous 2 and Okamura decides to nickname her Ultimate Girl Big Boobs. That guy…
 
Episode 3 continues with Viviene charging towards the monster and looks like she’s evenly matched, subduing it with her grappling moves. Umm… Is it me or is it that the 3 minute limit for that power draining clothes disappearing thing getting shorter and shorter? Maybe UFO Man loves being a pervert. Viviene grabs some nearby banners to cover up so that she doesn’t have to be embarrassed. However, it seems Viviene’s powers are getting weaker or rather not coming out. Why? UFO Man explains that the source of their power comes from M.O.E., Michaiyan Otome Energy – Maiden oh don’t look at me please energy. What the? Meaning, the more embarrassed she gets, the more powerful she becomes. So that explains why Silk defeated her monster while Tsubomi didn’t. Seriously, I can’t believe such an energy source is drawn from that.
 
Though Viviene remembers her mother’s words, no time for it now as she uses the banner to cover the monster’s eyes and blasts it away with her eye laser. I suppose that M.O.E. power really does work. Viviene reverts back to her normal size but Makoto notices that UFO Man usually does fly away into the sky after the battle and not disappear. So his thinking somehow makes him bump into that train monster. Keep your eyes on the road and concentrate next time. So that monster isn’t dead yet? But it’s on fire due to Viviene’s laser. Ugh… Makoto’s lying unconscious on that train monster’s train crotch… This time it’s Silk’s turn to go and finish things off. With Silk’s appearance, Okamura decides to nickname her Ultimate Girls Little Boobs, much to Mayu’s dismay. So what about Tsubomi? Okamura without hesitation says she is Ultimate Girl Loli. That guy…
 
Silk is wondering what to do as she’s running around letting that monster chase her. That is, until the monster fell off into the sea and it brings Makoto along with it. She dives down and saves him but since she notice that the unconscious Makoto is touching her breasts, she gets very embarrassed and unleashes the greatest M.O.E. power to disintegrate that monster (OMG! She did a handjob on that monster!!! Mind running wild!!!). Before Silk reverts to her normal self, she puts Makoto down somewhere. Since Makoto is a little drowsy, he only manages to see a white outline of her, took a few shots before passing out.
 
Makoto is determined to find out the identity of Ultimate Girl in episode 4. Silk bumps into Makoto in school as she finds out his goal. And Makoto’s really passionate about it. Not only that, it’s the physical exams for the girls too. I wonder why Tsubomi is so interested in seeing whether Silk’s breasts has grown or not as she squeezes it. Of course Silk doesn’t like it and calls her an ecchi monster. I guess that word must be like a Pavlov’s Bell to Makoto because he just barged into the room filled with girls changing their outfit and starts snapping like crazy asking where that monster is. Once he realized that the monster is Tsubomi and feels ‘tricked’, he leaves disappointed. What the? How would all the girls feel? I’m surprised they didn’t go after him and pound him. Plus, I don’t think that head of Makoto’s is filled with pervertness. Just monsters and Ultimate Girl. Good thing or a bad thing?
 
A monster shows up this time and looks like some doctor with injection needles as its hands. UFO Man wants Silk or Viviene to do it but before anything could happen, Tsubomi grabs his stick and transforms. Okay, so that Tsubomi girl really enjoys the spotlight because she’s posing for those maniac photographers to take shots of her! Because of that, the monster manages to overpower her and is on top of her. Too much time wasting has gotten her all naked. Tsubomi then fakes some pain and tells that monster doctor to help her. It gladly obliges as it does a flasher by opening his overcoat and… OMG! This time a stetoscope as its crotch! It’s really getting weirder. With the monster’s guard down, she uses the opportunity to pull its crotch. The monster then disappears and Tsubomi soon follow. Everybody then starts to search for Ultimate Girl frantically but the 3 girls are somewhere safe. While the trio are walking out, Silk spots her sister Mayu packing stuff into her reporting van. Mayu wonders what they are doing here but Silk says that they are shopping as she soon runs away with her buddies. However, Mayu is suspicious because she wonders why they’re doing shopping in gym outfits and why are they not in class. She smells something fishy.
 
Okamura and his crew are having a tough time figuring out the identity of Ultimate Girl in episode 5 with all those crappy pics they took when Makoto appears and says that he can count on him. I suppose he and Okamura hit it off right there with their beautiful friendship. But mainly this episode sees how Silk and Viviene who got invited by Tsubomi to work part time at some cosplay cafe. Yeah, more embarrassing costumes for Slik to wear. Especially that cat one and she has to end her sentences with ‘nyan’. But I suppose she’s got no choice as Tsubomi’s really enjoying all of this. During their shift, Viviene stepped out for her break only to bump into Makoto who’s passing by. Viviene accidentally tripped and fell into Makoto’s arms. Just as in good timing and all, Silk comes out to see them in that pos. As excpected, she misunderstood the situation and thinks her best friend likes the person she has a crush on. Silk runs away in tears… and says nyan… with Viviene going after her.
 
I suppose Makoto is more interested in the monster which appears. Yeah, this one looks like some masked wrestler from Ultimate Muscle. No time to loose as Viviene grabs UFO Man’s stick and transforms (some Sailormoon parody here because Viviene’s cosplay costume is one). Okamura that big boobs appeared this time. That monster seems to be giving Viviene some moe tips and puts some glasses on her before squirting some white liquid on her which look like… you get the idea. Those crows below are perverts. "She’s really makes me drool". Yup, that’s what some guy said. Don’t they know the danger they all are in? Speaking of Tsubomi, she’s posing at the cafe and doesn’t know the monster battle going on like nobody’s business. Soon Viviene’s clothes start to disappear and that monster decides to do some wrestling move on her. While down, Viviene spots Silk who tells her not to loose. With that, Viviene gets her M.O.E. power and proceeds to wallop the monster. And that Okamura guy is giving names to Viviene’s moves like Cross Boobs Attacks and Rocket Boobs Screw. Haih… Viviene uses her ultimate move to finish it off.
 
Later, Silk meets Makoto and they both chat. Makoto’s pretty excited about that recent battle (I think that’s what this guy has in his mind all along). When Silk asks him if he really like those kind of girls, he answered yes. Silk is shocked and runs away. Perhaps she should’ve listen finish to his sentence. Though Makoto continues he like Big Boobs, he likes Ultimate Girl (meaning all 3 of them). But Silk is already gone by then. While the crowd is searching for Ultimate Girl, Silk passes some clothes to Viviene at some alley. But Silk left without saying anything. Obviously, trouble is written all over her face. And that Tsubomi girl is still having her fun and wondering if Silk and Viviene are done with her break. You don’t know what you’ve missed.
 
Episode 6 is a beach episode. You know what that means. It’s summer time and the trio along with UFO Man (with pervertness on his mind as usual) decides to go to the beach by train. Of course, Silk and Viviene still don’t see eye to eye because of that last incident with Makoto. At the beach, Viviene tries to clear up the misunderstanding but Mayu appears. It seems Mayu is here to host some summer swim suit contest. However Mayu has an ulterior motive. She suspects that Silk is Ultimate Girl and would transform if a monster appears and is watching her. With shortage of workers, the trio has to help in setting up the stage while that UFO Man basks in the sun oogling at semi-naked humans. That is, until some little girl thought it was a ball and proceeds to hit it. Yeah, even UFO Man says how his dad never hit him like that.
 
Makoto comes along and tell the girls how this contest is just a set up to discover Ultimate Girl’s true identity, shocking them. I don’t know what Makoto is thinking because he seems to admire Viviene’s breasts and then decides to take her along with him. Double shock for Silk as she runs away. Viviene tells Makoto to stop and runs after Silk. She manages to catch up and have a little chat. Silk thinks that it’s okay if Viviene and Makoto are happy but Viviene thinks otherwise. Then a giant octopus monster shows up. Since the monster is on a rampage, it destroys the stage and Mayu is trapped by the rubble and can’t go see if Silk is Ultimate Girl. Makoto as usual is taking photos like mad while Silk decides to transform this time. Since the battle is kicking up dust, Mayu can’t see anything. It’s soon over and Silk reverts back to her normal self. But before Makoto can take a snap at who the real Ultimate Girl is, Viviene knocks him out cold from behind.
 
Mayu finally manages to free herself by ditching her top and rushes to the girl’s side. To her disappointment and confirmation that Silk isn’t Ultimate Girl because the trio mentioned that they were here all the time. Can’t run around naked with her top exposed now, can’t she? Viviene herself manages to have a heart to heart talk with Silk and clears the air. Silk is relieved. Though Viviene didn’t really mention it, she does say that she already has someone she loves, which I think is Silk. Must be the way she put things. Is she a lesbian? But thankfully, they’re friends once more.
 
Silk decides to leave UFO Man behind as she and her pals go on a school trip in episode 7. Which means, if a monster were to show up, they’ll be in big trouble. While the girls are travelling in their school bus, Makoto also does in his motorbike following closely behind, likewise Okamura and Mayu in their van. The scene then changes to some orchestra concert. It’s so boring that the audience is asleep. Actually some monster which look like some radio is playing some music is making everybody taking 40 winks. Yeah, that monster can only says "Mara…" which means penis in Japanese. Soon everybody on the road falls asleep. It’s amazing that nobody crashes their vehicles. They all stopped in time to take a nap by the side of the road.
 
Silk and her friends are then awakened by UFO Man who followed them here. He proceeds to explain about the monster’s hypnotic waves and it seems the monster has fallen into its own trap and is asleep as well. UFO Man relishes the chance to capitalize on the moment and wants Silk to transform as ‘punishment’ for leaving him behind and making him travel some distance. Silk does but feels bad in attacking a sleeping monster. But the monster soon awakes and… pokes Silk with its conductor wand?! It’s just poking her! That Silk is so helpless. All that commotion has awaken everyone else. I suppose Okamura loves what he is seeing because he’s commenting how this monster is able to torture a woman it just met and is an amazing genius, how he can feel and understand it pursuing some real art of a woman’s body, and finally "He is a maestro of the woman’s body! Damn I envy you!". Hahaha. Of course Mayu isn’t too fond of it and pulls his ear. Silk gets very embarrassed and knocks it out with her M.O.E. and soon defeats it. The monster said its final words before it vanishes… "Sayomara!". That night Silk and UFO Man are walking alone (didn’t the bus driver or her classmate notice that she’s missing?) on the road when Makoto comes up and gives her a lift. Silk wouldn’t let this opportunity slip through as she wish how time would stop like this as she’s holding on to Makoto’s back. And that UFO Man wants to get in the fun as well as he hugs Silk’s back only for Silk to give him an elbow, making that little pervert fall off and left behind once again.
 
Finally the gang reached their destination, Kyoto, in episode 8. Not much here except more fanservice like the girls taking a dip in the hotspring (nudity doesn’t really get to Tsubomi), some shopping and sightseeing. Then of course a little moment between Silk and Makoto but it seems that guy is more interested in maintaining his motorbike when he’s not chasing monsters (I could safely say that he’s got no love life and if he does, it’s chasing monsters) as he explains it all to Silk who is patiently listening. Maybe she just wanted to be with him and hear his voice rather than being annoyed with topics that don’t interest her. Hey, this girl is in love okay. Silk is a little down after meeting Makoto (not because he’s boring or what) because he’s leaving tomorrow morning. Viviene decides to cheer up Silk and the trio have their fun in town.
 
But then a mean looking Buddha statue-like monster appears and is terrorizing the place. It kinda occured to me that these people are like monster magnets because monsters tend to appear wherever they are. Tsubomi decides to go after this one and after some submission technique, the monster cracks and breaks up into pieces. However, it regenerates again and it seems it has become a bit more Buddha-like, asking Tsubomi to cover up before it disappears into the ground. Later though Tsubomi is disappointed that she couldn’t finish it off, they bump into Makoto who’s in a little frenzy because he just missed the monster action. Because of that he won’t be leaving and decides to stay, making Silk a little happy.
 
The school trip continues in episode 9 with more sightseeing and fun since it’s the last day. Silk and co bumps into Mayu and Okamura who tell the girls that they’re here because there’s a possibility that a monster might pop up. And when it does, Makoto is always there. So he’s a safe bet so to speak. Since it’s their last day, Viviene decides to let Silk and Makoto be together alone. While Silk is blushing and Makoto is oblivious, I guess that the person Viviene really loves is Silk. You can see her body language and words "I can’t be the one…". Must be lah. Makoto decides to take a pic of Makoto but an old couple decides to help take a pic of them both together. Silk must’ve never stood this close to him before. While the duo are in the ferris wheel, Silk asks Makoto which Ultimate Girl he like the most. Makoto replies Little Boobs because she was the first Ultimate Girl to appear and the one who saved him. Silk is surprised and happy but can’t really reveal her identity as she’s in a dilemma.
 
Soon that Buddha-like monster reappears and it’s Viviene’s turn to transform. Okamura is passionately commenting on the fight, much to Mayu’s disgust. The monster is overwhelming Viviene but she gets her M.O.E. power when she notices Silk is watching her from the ferris wheel. In Viviene’s embarrassment, she disintegrates the monster for good. Everyone is relieved. On the way back, Viviene slept on Silk’s lap with a smiling face after that tiring bout and Silk is happy as she thanks her. I want to mention that contrary to the title of this episode ‘Viviene Dies In The Setting Sun’, I don’t see how Viviene came close to that. Unless it refers to her love for Silk, which she has given up. But I don’t see that she does that too.
 
A Christmas episode in episode 10 sees the girls attending to some party. Tsubomi is wowing the crowd with her cosplay outfit which looks so much like her version of a transformed Ultimate Girl. Silk wants to give Makoto a present but is still too shy so much so Viviene has to give her a push to meet him (literally). Outside where the 2 are alone, Silk gives Makoto a present which is a reporter vest as gratitude for doing so much for her. Makoto drops another bombshell when he tells her how he can use it when he’s in USA. He’s going to USA? As Tsubomi mentions later, Makoto is going to USA to study journalism after he graduates. Poor Silk getting all depressed again. Tsubomi even quips that if Makoto’s gone, it will be Viviene’s gain. Silk receives a call from Viviene and Tsubomi asking her to go out with them to some place. Before Silk could say anything, they’re already at her doorstep and whisks her away with them.
 
It looks like the place is some otaku doujin convention and is packed like a tuna can. Silk gets separated from her friends at the convention and at the same time, a ferocious looking monster with a large Ultimate Girl poster on its stomach appears. Is it a fan of Ultimate Girl? Why is it saying "Uncensored"? Silk decides to face it but she better hurry because Silk is having some tummy ache because she ate some left overs yesterday. She better hurry or else she’ll have to deal with her nakedness soon. The monster then flips open its Ultimate Girl page on its stomach to reveal some uncensored copyright images. So this is the uncensored part? All the otaku freaks are happy at the sight. Now Silk’s embarrassment is at her max as she blasts the monster into pieces. Later when Silk is her normal self, Makoto comes running to her and tells her that he once again failed to know who Ultimate Girl is and is even more determined to go to USA and study so that he will definitely find out Ultimate Girl’s identity when he comes back. Silk is thinking that if he knows who Ultimate Girl is, then he won’t have to go abroad. Silk must be desparate as she blurts out to him that she is Ultimate Girl.
 
Is Makoto gonna believe Silk. Well, I suppose he would’ve and looks like it in episode 11 but a group of Ultimate Girl fanatics pop out from behind. You can say that Silk’s identity is once again safe because Makoto thinks she’s a fan of Little Boobs too and even asks her to cosplay in that outfit so that he could take a pic of her later. Yeah, Tsubomi’s got their costume done and ready already. What follows next is somewhat an ambiguous hentai-like gay scene. After Okamura finishes his newscasting report with Mayu, Makoto appears and Okamura asks him if he’s free tonight. Then at Okamura’s place, we see the 2 guys in an ambiguous postion (Okamura standing closely behind Makoto’s back) with that ambiguous expression and that ambiguous tone and talk like "You can’t insert something like this" and "Feel my hot desire!". Then we find out that Okamura is just helping Makoto to staple a thick thick stack of Ultimate Girl books, which Okamura has devoted his passion into writing them. The way things look make it so darn hilarious!
 
Later that night, UFO Man is outside the convention centre and has a bad feeling. We see some slimy thing entering the convention. The next day, the 3 girls are at the convention and are in their Ultimate Girl cosplay outfit when they spot Okamura selling his stack of Ultimate Girl books. He tells them that Makoto may be somewhere buying lots of books on Ultimate Girls. Yeah, and Makoto’s pretty hyped up with all the Ultimate Girl books they’re selling there when that slimy glob drops on him. Shortly, a monster starts appearing. Okamura is shock that a monster appeared because it’s Tuesday. Maybe the monster got bored of following the schedule. Of all the monsters that have appeared, this is the meanest looking one and doesn’t look crappy like the rest. Tsubomi decides to take down this one but she herself got taken down easily. Is it because of her lack of embarrassment? Perhaps. But UFO Man notes that this one is different from the rest and more powerful. And that monster is saying "Ultimate Girls… Ultimate Girls…".
 
Next up is Viviene as she grabs UFO Man’s stick without hesitation and knocks the monster off its feet in 1 blow. But it isn’t over yet as the 2 slug it out. Silk is watching the fight when she notices a label on that monster which says ‘Futagoyama High School Press Club’. Which means, that monster is Makoto himself! While Silk is in shock, the monster is overpowering Viviene and is demanding to know who Ultimate Girl is.
 
The final episode 12 continues with that battle but Viviene at the losing end. Later, UFO Man explains that there is another type of M.O.E. power, which is Miteku Ore no Energy (Look At Me Energy), whereby combined with extraterrestiral substance would give birth to a new monster. After more explanations which made me go blur, UFO Man says that their only chance to defeat this monster is to combine all their energy and focus it on its core. Even that, victory is not guaranteed. But what will happen to Makoto? He’s already completely fused with the core and they can’t possibly save him. Meanwhile the monster is rampaging and is still demanding to know who Ultimate Girl is when Okamura thinks who this monster looks so similar to Makoto. Yeah, he’s stuck inside the lens of the monster’s stomach unconscious.
 
Since UFO Man already gave up his body to ressurect the trio, Silk then tells him that after she defeats Makoto, she wants him to use her body to ressurect Makoto and also erase his memories about her. Silk doesn’t mind if it costs her life because she got to be with Makoto (even though that guy is clueless) and would gladly die for love. Silk undergoes her final transformation and is ready to do battle. Silk is having thoughts of the times she spend with Makoto and Okamura wonders why she isn’t fighting back but leading it to the top of the convention centre’s roof. Then with her amazing M.O.E. power (it didn’t seem like she was embarrassed or what), she starts to glow and hugs it. Makoto begins to open his eyes and saw what’s happening. He realized that Silk is Ultimate Girl. With that, Silk cries and wishes that she doesn’t want him to forget afterall. Silk grabs the lens and a huge ray of light vanishes them both as everyone is relieved.
 
Later Makoto regains consciousness on the outside steps of the convention when Tsubomi comes running to him and hugs him in tears. Makoto is gonna tell her who Ultimate Girl’s real identity is but it seems to have amnesia. Oh well, maybe that bump in the head must’ve made him forgot. Then he took out a photo and says how he’s holding on to it for some time and wants to give it to Silk. Just then, Silk emerges from the bushes naked. She’s alive! But how? With Tsubomi trying to cover her brother’s eyes, UFO Man appears and is now an even smaller fry. He explains that when Silk is destroying the core, they both noticed each other for a moment and UFO Man decides to use his own body to ressurect Makoto’s from scratch. Hence, he has become smaller in size. In addition, he didn’t erase his entire memories, but only the part where he turned into a monster. I see that’s why he couldn’t remember who Ultimate Girl is. Because of that, UFO Man is looking forward to helping each other a lot more (I’m thinking he’s in for the pervertness). But Silk doesn’t mind and is grateful as she hugs UFO Man. See, that guy’s a pervert, enjoying her bossoms.
 
In the end credits, we see Silk and Makoto having a chat on the school rooftop with Tsubomi and Viviene eavesdropping nearby. It seems Makoto isn’t going to the USA and decides to stay because he is more curious about something else. Though he didn’t mention it, I’m thinking it must be Silk. Viviene isn’t too happy but I guess she’s got no choice since Silk is happy. Makoto passes a photo to Silk before rushing off. Silk blushes in embarrassment when she sees it. At the same time, UFO Man is using his small size to camouflage as a baseball to take a peep at the girls changing. Some things never change. His size may be smaller but his perversion is bigger. Then Okamura and his crew gets a call of a monster attacking the city and heads there along with Makoto. So it’s another day in life for Silk as she goes up with a monster which looks like that robot from Mazinger series but has a drill as its crotch. See a pattern here? While everybody cheers on Silk, we see that the photo that Makoto gave Silk is the photo that they took standing next to each other during their school trip. And it is framed nicely sitting on Silk’s desk.
 
Overall, I guess the whole thing is pretty funny if you don’t mind the ecchi part. Especially if you’re the kind with lolita complex. Little girls becoming Ultraman and saving the city. Something like Powerpuff Girls, huh? So I’m wondering have the city folks really forgot about UFO Man already? Well, since Ultimate Girl is doing a fine job, I suppose they have a new heroine to cheer on. One thing that bugs me is that will Makoto have the same capacity to transform as well since he is ressurected using UFO Man’s body? Maybe. But I think that guy is more interested in snapping away and UFO Man would much prefer to merge with a female to satisfy his pervertness. Also, I’m thinking that the monsters should change their usual schedule of Monster Mondays to perhaps something else like Terrifying Tuesdays, Freaky Fridays or Scary Saturdays if they’re gonna do this for a long time.
 
The drawing, art and animation seems pretty okay with cute lolis. Because of that, probably that’s why the monsters don’t look ferocious enough and more towards ecchi. The production company who produces this series is M.O.E. which stands for Master Of Entertainment. Neat, huh? Maybe in the show they should’ve put more abbreviations of it like More Outrageous Ecchi… Just kidding. And I didn’t turn into a perverted freak like UFO Man nor do I have any loli fetish, mind you.
 
So if giant monsters appear in your neighbourhood, you know who to call right? Right. Even after watching this series, it didn’t really make me wanna watch those old Ultraman shows again, though the local tv station still airs them. Not too sure whether they’re reruns or not. While Ultimate Girls may not be a fad or the in thing but at least they’re part of the long list of heroes who keep Earth safe from the scums of the universe (to quote a little from MiB). No super high-tech powerful weapon here. Just the power of moe. Imagine if people in this world draw their powers from embarrassment, there wouldn’t be any fighting in the first place, right? Too shy to face each other. Theoratically.
 
Ultimate Girls

Manabi Straight

November 3, 2007

I somehow seem to think of this series, Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight, as the Azumanga Daioh and Ichigo Mashimaro of the future. I mean this anime isn’t a rip off or a spoof of that series but perhaps it’s mainly because of the cute group of high school girls whom at first look like elementary school kids to me. Okay, they may not seem that cute or moe to me but at first glance, I think that’s their main appeal.
 
This anime is set in the near future, the year 2035 and has a little futuristic appeal in it. Is the world getting better by then with all those modern technology and gadgets? Not too sure. But here, there is a drop and decline in the birthrate. I’m not too sure whether this is a worldwide phenomena but this is quite a serious case in Japan (and even now in the real world) so much so that schools around the country has been forced to close down due to the lack of students. It’s quite ironic seeing that every year the human population is booming and we’re wondering if the Earth is enough to sustain the future generation.
 
But that’s another story. For now, let’s concentrate on this 12 episode slice of life comedy series. Having said that the declining birthrate has forced schools to be closed down, I somehow don’t see the ‘scarcity’ of students. I mean, it’s not that the screen is over populated with them, but enough to make me think "Hey, this school doesn’t have any such problems". Unless, if I take into account that this particular all-girl private high school that this anime is set in, Seioh Academy, is quite a large campus. So perhaps in terms of school size to student ratio, yeah, it may seem justified.
 
So in episode 1, we are introduced to one of the main protagonist of the show, Manami Amamiya or better and fondly known as Manabi. She’s your typical quirky eccentric hyped up positive and genki little girl and rides some sort of a hovering scooter to school. Her favourite catchphrase is "Massugu go!", meaning go forward, which is also her life’s motto. In addition, she punches straight up in the air whenever she says that. Manabi is late on her first day at school (read: she’s a new transfer student) and bumps into a student council member and soon would be buddy, Mika Inamori AKA Mikan. You’ll find that this Mikan girl has low self-esteem and is a crybaby but over the series, she’ll gradually change (well, at least for the most of it). At first impression, Manabi’s genkiness may seem weird so much so you may think that she’s an alien from another planet. Nevertheless, Manabi gives Mikan a ride on her scooter and off they blast to Seioh Academy.
 
They arrived at their school but because of the speed (remember kids, do not speed) they crash into the swimming pool, in which the school is having some swimmming competition. This isn’t gonna put Manabi down yet as she changes into her swimming outfit and gets ready for the competition. Um… I wonder how she got tangled between those float borders. But mainly this episode is about how Manabi tries to set up the student council member. Later at the school hall, Manabi’s positive speech to become the student council president seems to bore the audience. Furthermore, since she’s new, she isn’t allowed to be on such a post yet. So how did Mikan ever landed the job at the student council? It seems a previous student council president left her in a lurch as the secretary when she transfered to another school. Not until Manabi starts singing the Seioh’s school anthem did everyone felt touched so much so they agree to make her one. That easy? I guess she must have the touch to touch people’s heart. I’m surprised that Manabi could remember the lines of the entire anthem, unlike me. I must’ve forgotten my own old school’s anthem by now ;P. Besides, somehow the anthem doesn’t sound like a typical school anthem (as comparison to where where I come from of course) but more like a slow pop ballad.
 
Let me just introduce briefly the other characters who will soon be part of Manabi’s student council. First there’s this tomboy, Mutsuki Uehara who is also an athelete. But her multi-talent in sports has other clubs inviting her to join them and not wanting to turn them down, she decides to join them all.
 
Then we have some sort of an introvert or rather disagreeing nature, Mei Etou (looks like a chibi version of Natsuki of Mai-HiME). She has difficulty in expressing her true emotions and usually rebuffs what she does with some excuses rather than telling the true stuff. Thus, she keeps a distance from others and doesn’t have many close friends. Of course as the series progress, you’ll find that she opens up and becomes more expressive of herself.
 
Finally there is Momoha Odori or known as Momo for short. Among the quintet, it seems that she’s quite lazy and doesn’t do much to help around. And whenever there is something that needs to be done, she’s always missing. Meaning that she doesn’t get directly involve in student council affairs. So much so I kinda notice that the rest seems to ignore her from time to time.
 
I need to mention that their homeroom teacher, Shimojima (I don’t believe I’ve seen his eyes opened before), who loves lighting up a smoke sometimes, seems to be interested in helping Manabi and co into making school life more interesting for his fellow students as the series progresses. Not that he directly helps them outright, but indirectly and more discreetly. The principal of Seioh Academy too shares this view and also helps Manabi in a way. From time to time, we’ll see Manabi’s elder brother, Takefumi, who seems to be like Manabi’s guardian and parents because he’s seen doing the house chores like cooking and cleaning. So what about Manabi’s parents? Throughout the series, it isn’t mentioned.
 
Having a position as student council president doesn’t mean one will have an easy life. Besides, that’s not what Manabi is hoping for either. Basically, episode 2 is about how Manabi and Mikan try to clean up and reorganize the student council room. It won’t be an easy task since the room is quite dark, dusty and there’s lots and lots of boxes and books (probably unused) sitting idly on the old shelves.
 
Since they can’t do it by themselves, Mutsuki, Momo and even Mei lends a helping hand. Of course obviously Mei is denying that she’s really helping them. They come up with all sorts of ideas, strategies, tactics and plans on how to turn the student council room into a better looking one because a student council counterpart from Aikoh Academy is paying them a visit soon. So I see that’s why they have to get things done in a hurry to impress their guest. Soon, word of their effort gets round and other girls start to help them (partly because of Manabi’s moving words and those who didn’t want to help eventually does so as not to be seen as the ‘bad guy’) and because many hands make light work, the student council room is given a tremendous makeover in no time. The girls at the end seem tired and sleeping, but they’ve earned it.
 
The Seioh Academy student council organizes some inter-school dodgeball tournament in an effort to work things out in episode 3. Poor Mei. She got hit by the dodgeball and the mark is so evident on her face even after the tournament. Other than that, the student council of Aikoh Academy, Takako Kakuzawa, pays Manabi and the rest of her gang a visit. They talked about organizing the upcoming school festival. However, Manabi wasn’t able to give any suggestion and because of that she gets a little depressed.
 
But that depression won’t stay for long as that night itself, the idea light bulb hits Manabi and she’s back to her genki self. I know she’s bloody enthusiastic to let her pals know about her plans. But calling them up dead in the middle of the night to get to Seioh Academy (and even in their school uniforms!) and just telling them some words of hope like how they won’t just be copying Aikoh’s school festival but having a unique one of their own, the gang then felt some renewed hope and determination to make their school festival a grand event. I guess it must be Manabi’s speech full of hopefulness and optimism which made them imagine the grandoise of things like flying through the air, fireworks and such. But I suppose it’s a start. If you want to do something, the most important is to have the will and heart to do it right from the start.
 
In episode 4, Seioh’s student council decides to do some promo video clip presentation about their upcoming school festival. However, this episode is mainly about Mei and how she develops her wariness of others and shun her true emotions. It all started because of a slip of a tongue from Mikan. You see, Mei is quite good with those computer design and programming stuffs and she created the clip amazingly in a short amount of time. Thus Mikan quoted that if Mei was there, the rest of them wouldn’t be needed. This prompts Mei to have flashbacks about her traumatic past again. Back then, her old classmates told her how she fits being the class rep because she’s diligent and strong. But that isn’t a compliment. It’s an excuse for them to slack of and let Mei do everything by herself. Those little #*@!!!
 
Because of that, Mei locks herself up in her room and spaces out. Until Mutsuki pays her a visit and some talk did Mei decide to see for herself how those blokes are doing without her. Emm… Can she really spy on the room after just typing some code. Hopefully spy cams won’t turn out like this in the future. But after Mei hears how sincere those girls are, Mei realized and decides to help them. The next day of the presentation, it seems that the video froze halfway. How are they gonna fix this? With teachers and students wondering what’s going on in the school hall when Mei suddenly appears from the main door. In a jiffy, she fixes the problem and soon the presentation went by smoothly.
 
I like the last part of this episode because it show the girls in their victory pose. The 5 of them stood there, their bodies a little titled with a serious face, their right arms raised to eye level and fists clenched. No, it doesn’t look like a salute to Hitler, mind you. Hehehe. Nice one girls. Another major milestone is that we see a congratulatory note on the student council room board that Mei has officially joined the council body as the treasurer. She’s free from her past now, though you’ll still see a little of her old attitude from time to time.
 
In episode 5, Manabi has some kind of mumps which makes her cheeks swollen. No, she doesn’t look cute at all. Because of that Mikan tries to think up of a plan for their school festival before Manabi recovers, which is probably about a week’s time. But mainly, this episode focuses more on the drama between Mikan and Mei as the 2 bond together through the school festival’s planning. But since their minds are blank, they tried different and weird methods to get their brains working like running (only to be run out of breath) and looking up some reference in the library (and even ‘stealing’ them at night when nobody’s around. However Shimojima spots them but just let them be). In the end, Manabi has recovered from her illness and sees the plan that Mei and Mikan had come up with and is thrilled with the theme ‘From Friends To Buddies’.
 
Since summer vacation is over, the students now have to take upcoming exams in episode 6. Besides the student council making and planning for their school cultural festival, just like the previous episode, this one focuses more on Mikan and Mutsuki. So we see some flashback how on Mikan’s first day at Seioh whereby she tripped and was helped up by Mutsuki and it’s like they become friends ever since after some chat. Back to the present, on the night before of the exams, Mikan decides to go to Mutsuki’s house to study. We get a glimpse of why Mutsuki is quite tomboyish because she’s got 3 boys as her siblings and she’s like being the ‘big sister’ who’s trying to keep those naughty little boys in line.
 
I guess it’s understandable that the house is too noisy for them to study and with Mutsuki trying to keep the boys in line (not to mention Mikan getting in the fun as well), later that night, the duo sneak out of the house and had a little snack at a cafe and a little fun like karaoke and a stroll through town in the early morning. Though they got their friendship bonding, however the next day, Mikan completely bombed her last exams (meaning she floped. And what’s this? Mutsuki just sleeping on it, literally). But all is not lost as in the end, Mutsuki officially joins the student council as the assistant. Okay, so it has really got nothing to do with her exams.
 
Episode 7 is the start of the turning point. The exams and summer holidays are over. But before we get serious let me mention a few hilarious points first. It seems that the student council members are having writer’s block as they try their best to plan for their school festival so much so they’re losing it! Manabi’s gone a little ‘haywired’ as she’s saying her "Massugu go!" lines repeatedly and punching Mutsuki in the face repeatedly! I wonder why she didn’t dodge it. Maybe she she’s haywired? Probably Mei herself is getting shortfused as she and Mutsuki are duking out. What about Momo? She’s really tanned and has returned from her Hawaii trip and looked so carefree. Because of that everybody else seems to ignore her. Haha. But the funniest part is when a cicada on a tree is too noisy outside so much so Mei can’t stand it and yells at it through the window to be quiet. The cicada instantly went silent. Then later in the episode, that cicada died silently as it falls off the tree. Hahaha.
 
Aside from that, it seems Takako pays the Seioh Academy’s student council a visit. The gang jokingly thinks that she’s here to spy on them. However this isn’t the case. Takako observes how happy and sincere the girls are in organizing the festival. So what gives? Takako thinks back whereby she has a meeting with the superintendent of Aikoh Academy, Kyoko Kiyokawa. Kyoko is telling Takako how Aikoh has bought over Seioh and the 2 schools will soon merge under Aikoh’s name! True that this is due to the declining number of students but Kyoko has another devastating announcement. With the merger, she’ll cancel the school festival! Oh dear! She doesn’t think highly of the students organizing such activities and having fun as she tells Takako to keep this a secret. The announcement date of the merger is set to be on September 1st and by the time Takako visited her Seioh counterparts, it’s already August 31st. Tick tock. Running out of time. Oh, Manabi and co better have their fun till their hearts content as they are seen playing with sparklers and jumping into the pool with their uniforms that night. D-Day is tomorrow.
 
Yeah, and it seems that at the start of episode 8, Shimojima receives an unexpected flying kick from Manabi! They’re calling him a traitor after a notice on the board states that the festival is to be cancelled. Hehehe. Mutsuki is pinning him down on the ground as well. Shimojima mentions that he can’t do anything about it. Then at the school hall, the merger announcement takes place. The student council members confront the principal but she herself too has her hands tied. With that, the gang stage some kind of a protest and are asking the other students to oppose this. But in the end, nobody really did cared that much for the festival and their protest is futile.
 
Life is bloody ironic. It seems that Manabi heads back home to find that her brother has got a new lover, who could it be? It’s Kyoko herself! At first Manabi didn’t know who she is until she asked what her job is. Oh the horror! With that, Manabi decides to temporarily stay at Mikan’s place. Can’t believe her enemy is seeing her brother. Not only that, Manabi confronts Kyoko in her office the next day to object. Quite funny to see the 2 MIB holding up a shorty Manabi as she tries to kick Kyoko (of course cannot reach lah). The next day, Manabi returns and shows Kyoko her victory pose and a scroll stating ‘presumed innocent’. With that, Kyoko decides to give her a chance why shouldn’t the school festival be cancelled with the condition that Manabi must get a 70% petition of the students signatures in order for their school festival to be revived.
 
With only a week as their time limit, in episode 9, the Seioh student council gets on their feet to get as many signatures as possible. However, because the other student’s are like ‘boh chap’ attitude, their efforts are futile once more. They’re on the verge of giving up. Other than that, we see the principal having fond memories of the time she was a student of this academy as she reminisces the old times at an abandoned dorm within the school grounds. It seems she herself was part of some protest against the administration’s tyranny but ended up in failure.
 
So how did the gang save the day? It came from an unlikely source. Momo. Yup, that girl finally did some good as she hijacks the broadcasting room in some full radiation suit (so that nobody could recognize her. Yeah, right. Even that line she said "I no Japanese"… Yeah, right) as she transmit video footages of the student council members helping to improve the school, which she has previously filmed them doing so. Uh-huh, a video freak. With that, they rushed to the student council room (Momo has already been caught by then) and with renewed hope and determination decides to fight till the very end. The next day, the quartet (I think Momo has been detained that’s why she wasn’t with them) continue their plea to the other students to sign the petition. At first no one seems interested that is until 3 girls show up and wonders if they could sign it. See, good things come to those who wait. Manabi and the rest are thrilled. It’s a start.
 
While the petionning continues in episode 10, Seioh’s old clock tower is under construction and is to be replaced with a new one. Hmm… The new one looks so floral. Then a funny part whereby suddenly a voice claiming to be the clock tower fairy telling the students below about its happy past and such and that before it goes it wants to see the school festival and asks all the students to sign the petition. Hahaha. It’s some cheap trick from Manabi broadcasting to get the students to fall for it. I don’t think the students are that dumb, right?
 
However, another mishap befalls on the student council members. After the new clock has been installed, it blows up but the only room destroyed is the student council’s room. Oh, after all that hard work and fond memories, now they have no more room to share their future activities. But Shimojima won’t let it end this way as he show them the abandoned dorm and tells them that this could be their new base. Seems scary and haunted at first but it’s better than nothing as the girls start cleaning and tidying up the place. Soon, the other students decide to help in even into the night and once again the building looks like it’s as though it’s been given a new lease of life. The principal acknowledges their hard work and effort. Meanwhile, back at Aikoh Academy, Takako is having a meeting with Kyoko. She’s wondering how did the Seioh girls fare in their petition. Kyoko spell the results out. They got 76%. Whopee! With that, a sign at the new student council building gladly states that the school festival is back.
 
With that, preparations of the school festival is well on the way in episode 11. With the close cooperation of the students, they manage to complete it all just before the big day. And it will be a grand event. Funny to see Mutsuki like a bouncer, going around knocking those troublemakers with her Tenchu move. Also, Takefumi pays a visit to the school festival and the student council’s room as well. Though it’s the first time the other girls meet Takefumi, Manabi is telling them about how her naughty brother is in a fiery relationship with an older lady without telling the family. Speak of the devil, Kyoko soon arrives and she and Takefumi gets lovey-dovey. Yeah, Manabi still don’t see eye to eye with her as the rest of the girls take her away and leave the lovebirds alone. It seems Kyoko have a more favourable view of the school festival. As the festival continues, Mei, Manabi and Mikan are sitting and waiting by themselves at their base because of some admin job that they have to be stationed there. Takako joins them later.
 
By the end of the day, some band invites Manabi up to the stage to sing the last song (hey, they’ve been playing for the whole day now). I suppose Shimojima and the principal wonder how they ended up substituting and sitting in for the student council. Manabi sings the Seioh’s anthem and with that the band improvises and changes it into an upbeat rock song as everyone gets into the mood. The day ends with a bang of beautiful fireworks display which lit up the night sky. The principal notes that though this year’s festival isn’t much different than last year’s, but it is special because it was a school festival that the students won back as those girls put their lives on it and never turned back.
 
The final episode 12 takes place 2 years later and it’s graduating time for the girls. Even though Seioh and Aikoh have merged, many things remained unchanged like the uniform because of Kyoko’s efforts. While the student council has new members to take over the old ones (not meant to be insulting okay), mainly we see the quintet’s last gathering. Mutsuki got into a professional sports squad, Momo is gonna do digital journalism while Mei is going off to college. What about Manabi? She decides to be a free-ter. It’s a term referring to people who hop from 1 part time job to another to show that they can do anything. I see. We also find out that Momo comes from a rich family who has invented a lot of gadgets like that hoovering scooter Manabi has. Yeah, Manabi’s new catchphrase "Shiranakatta", meaning I didn’t know, each time she finds out more and more about Momo. Hehehe.
 
Meanwhile Mikan is planning on going to USA as she wants to try and change herself and to look for wonderful and exciting things to do all over again. After the graduating ceremony with another usual speech of hope and future from Manabi, the quintet gathers for one last time on the school rooftop as they reflect and discuss things. Mikan starts crying and is doubting whether she want to go to USA or not because she wants to be with them but at the same time feels that she’s dragging them behind. Manabi comforts her and say that they’ll always be together. With that, Mikan decides to go to USA. On the day of her departure, the foursome decides to see her off but got stuck in a jam. Uh-huh, Mei’s got a driving licence already. They finally manage to reach the airport just when Mikan is about to leave for her flight. Yes. They show her their trademark victory pose. With that, Manabi notes that this isn’t the end, but the beginning for them. No regrets now.
 
The end credits show Mutsuki playing in some baseball team, Mei and Takako are studying together at a college, Momo is filming something with her camera, Manabi is doing her free-ter thing and what’s this? Takefumi has become a teacher at the school? Is it for Kyoko? Anyway another fastforward to 1 year and 5 months later, Mikan returns to Japan during summer and is greeted by her 4 buddies. So if you’re wondering what the opening credits are actually, it’s actually the girls spraying the walls, floors and ground of the Seioh Academy with their colour spraycan (would this amount to graffiti?) as it spells out from the bird’s eye view ‘A Happy Life’ (which is the opening theme of the series). So did you enjoy your happy life? Well then, just massugu go forward then. As for the 5 of them, they’ll always be friends for life, friends forever.
 
Overall, this is quite a nice heartwarming story of friendship. Though there are some drama parts but perhaps it’s those weird stuffs that the 5 girls do which amuses me. Just like Ichigo Mashimaro, doing cute things the cute way. But I find it more amusing here than cute. Manabi’s positive attitude should be a role model and example to not only school kids but adults as well. No doubt she has lots of things to say (in a way may sound boring), but those words are meaningful.
 
The drawing, art and animation is top notched and smooth. Not to really say that it’s the best of the best, but the quality is there. One thing I kinda notice is that the hair of the characters have this white droplets which make it look like as though their hair is a little wet. Then again, perhaps it must be the sun shine reflecting on it (are they saying their hair is that smooth because of using a certain shampoo brand?). Also, the character’s hair has some sort of shading to it as it gets lighter at the top. Since the characters are drawn to the cuteness appeal, don’t expect to find any bishoujos here unless you consider such drawing to be one. At times, I caught myself wondering about how similar some of the characters look since the facial lines are simple and some characters look alike. At first I couldn’t tell the difference between Manabi and Mikan if not for their different hair colour. Hey, did you notice that the first names of the 5 girls starts with the letter ‘M’?
 
The next episode preview is quite short and isn’t anything much and I didn’t get to even understand or find out what the next episode is going to be all about. Most probably it’s because I was concentrating on the interesting short computer interface-like presentation with that catchy percussion beat in the background. Plus, the screen of the episode preview is quite small so I can’t really see anything unless I look very closely and strain my eyes. Then it ends like when you switch off your tv or your pc screen.
 
Both the opening theme song, A Happy Life, and ending theme song, Lucky & Happy, are both sung by Megumi Hayashibara and it seems fitting for this kind of series. The ending credits seems like some claymation, or rather they use the figurines of the 5 girls as animation. Though to me there aren’t any memorable background musics, the series itself has several soundtrack albums ranging from the series ensembles to character albums. So if you’re really into this series and those cute girls, these should be a watch out as collectors item.
 
The talented Yui Horie is the voice behind Manabi and I couldn’t recognize her at first (still couldn’t actually). She is also the voice of Naru of Love Hina, Tohru of Fruits Basket, Suzu of Nagasarete Airantou, Eri of School Rumble and Ayu of Ultra Maniac, among her many other famous roles. Likewise I couldn’t recognize Aya Hirano’s voice as Mei. She’s the voice behind other characters such as Suzumiya of Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu, Konata of Lucky Star, Sanae of Sumomomo Momomo and Mai of Itsudatte My Santa. Ai Nonaka voices Mikan and is responsible for the voice of Iriya in Iriya No Sora UFO No Natsu and Konoka in Mahou Sensei Negima. Mutsuki is voiced by Marina Inoue who also does roles as Kanmuri of Yakitate! Japan and Wataru in Hayate No Gotoku. Saki Fujita who does Momo doesn’t really have a long list to her name as I found out that in her short list the only other anime character I know she voiced is Kanisawa of Tsuyokiss. You might recognize Aya Hisakawa who does Kyoko as Yuki of Fruits Basket, Minamo of Azumanga Daioh, Lindy of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha and Maya of Tenjou Tenge. Megumi Hayashibara also lends her voice for this show as the principal of Seioh Academy.
 
So definitely Manabi and friends has changed their school into a utopia experience for other students as well. Hopefully their legacy would carry on to the next generation as well. Speaking of which, I read that an OVA of this series is coming out in October 2007. It’ll be quite interesting to see what the girls would be doing by that time and I’d love to see that victory pose once again. Life can actually be a bliss, only if you care to make a difference that is. Though nothing in this world really comes easy, it shows that hard work and perserverance really pays. Currently I’m in my own utopia and that is watching the animes I love. Thus I can "Massugu go!" with my animes.
 
Manabi Straight

Kaze No You Ni Jiyuu

November 2, 2007

  Watashi wa yume no naka de,
  Anata ni atte imasu feel me,
  Tomodachi no koto ni naru to,
  Tokuige ni hanasu anata ga suki
 
Here’s another retro song that I once used to sing. Okay, maybe the song itself isn’t decades old but since I haven’t been singing this song for quite a while, it seems like it’s been ages already. Kaze No You Ni Jiyuu ~Free As The Wind~ is the thrid ending song of the series Chuuka Ichiban and is sung by Keiko Utoku.
 
  Shitto suru jibun no koto wa,
  Donna fuu ni utsutte iru no demo,
  Aoi honou wa akai honou yori zutto,
  Onda ga takai
 
Not that I’m saying that this song is hard to sing, but it isn’t an easy one either. At least the verse part is easy to sing because it isn’t high pitched nor it has that long voice sustaining part. So the tough part is the chorus (especially those last lines of the chorus) whereby it has a little of those 2 elements. Thus it didn’t go well for a person with a horrible voice like mine even though there are background vocals.
 
  Kawaita mizuumi ni,
  Amamizu ga shimikonde yuku you ni,
  Kokoro no naka wo tabi shiyou,
  Mokutekichi wa kitto aru
 
I remember when I first sang this song, my timing was a little off. Sometimes too fast and sometimes too slow. Since I rarely sing this song nowadays, I think I’ll still be facing the same problem. Lyrics wise, this love song ballad is simple enough to remember but of course without practice, I’ve given it all back. Hmm… I wonder what Keiko’s saying or rather murmuring during the solo part. Sounds like English since I could only grasped some of the words.
 
  Onaji jidai ni meguriaetta no,
  Kaze no you ni jiyuu,
  Sonna futari ni shinu made ni nareru kana,
  Anata e no kimochi wa uchuu no PAWAA
 
One thing I would like to note about the tv animation for this song is that I find the characters drawn (Mao and Mei Li) don’t really look like the characters itself. In fact they look so horrible and it’s so obvious! I don’t know whether they used different artists to do so, but I got a feeling that it’s deliberate. Plus, there are 2 versions of this song for the tv version. One a more slower ballad and the other a typical pop song. But aside that, if ever I feel nostalgic, this song would be one of those good ones to start with.