I guess it’s part of our human genes that makes us fight, whatever the reason. And I’m sure we have a proven track record of it throughout our entire history of existence whether it’s an epic battle or a small petty squabble. Thus in this world, there has many been many form of martial arts and it depends on the user on how it is used.
 
Though I’m not really a big fan of the martial arts genre, but I still can’t pass a good anime series if it was made into one. And because of the comedy factor as part of the package, I decided to have a go at History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi. Since I don’t have any martial arts background (all those Taekwondo lessons I got during my childhood years seems to have been forgotten ;P), I’m not really sure all the moves that the characters pull here are exaggerated or not. But I’m sure there are some basic moves and knowledge which have some truth in them.
 
There are 50 episodes in this manga adapted series and though this anime is quite action packed and the fights I could say are quite choreographed, there are quite some amount of violence and blood. So I guess this show isn’t really aimed for younger audiences as this is categorized more of a bishonen category.
 
Our main character and soon-to-be hero of the series is 15 year old normal high school-goer, Kenichi Shirahama, who is a ‘weakling’ in the martial arts. So much so, he has been given the nickname ‘Weak Legs’. At first glimpse, this guy is really to take on and get beaten up. True. Easy meat. I think because of that, he’s part of his school’s karate club to learn self defence. However, Kenichi has got a big problem coming up. He is being challenged by a karate club member, Daimonji, in which the loser of this battle must leave the club. On his way to school, Kenichi meets a pretty blonde, Miu Furinji, who is also a new transfer student in Kenichi’s class and school. As contrast to typical dumb blondes, Miu is much different from those stereotypes. Though she may have erm… let’s say her prized assets are larger proportions than normal girls, this girl can kick ass. Yeah, she’s a skilled martial artists, though she’s being modest and say that she isn’t an expert. And yes. Never stand behind Miu, because her natural spontantaneous reflex will cause her to grab and throw the perpetrator behind. Kenichi find that the hard way and got a little taste of it when he bumped into her.
 
Kenichi must be having a dilemma whether to go on with his match with Daimonji. But deep down inside this kid, Kenichi too has his staunch believe in justice. And after witnessing Miu kick a bunch of delinquent’s ass as they go about bullying their victim, Kenichi becomes convinced and decides to train himself harder. But he has no background or whatsoever knowledge on martial arts, how is he going to get a good footing on it? Don’t worry, Miu suggests that he could come to the Ryouzanpaku Dojo to do so. By the way, this dojo is where Miu lives and is also run by her grandpa, Hayato Furinji (loves licking lollipops by the way). And thus, Kenichi’s hell begins… well, I looked at it that way.
 
So okay, being a disciple at Ryouzanpaku is tough. I mean it makes you think that going to hell is better. Why? Because the masters of this dojo are a bunch of scary weirdos. But they’re really good in the martial arts they master in. Let me introduce them. First of, we have the karate master, Shio Sakaki, who likes drinking sake. Second, we have Akisame Koetsuji, the philosophy jujitsu master who also runs a nearby clinic. Then we have the always-having-a-camera-in-hand (if not a porn mag) perverted Chinese kenpo martial arts sifu, Ma Kensei. Also, a slow talker and monotonous sounding weaponry specialist Shigure Kousaka. She has a little mouse, Tochimaru, who is always by her side and sometimes doing cheeky stuffs. You know men like Ma never really do change as he’s always taking perverted photos of Shigure but getting her feet in his face as retribution. Otherwise, this dirty old man takes his chances on a more ‘younger raw meat’ (read: Miu). Last but not least, the super powerful Thai boxer, Apachai Hopachai. He’s not the brightest of the gang, but he is good natured though he is child-like at times and likes to say his signature word "Apa?" or "Apapapapa.." (I think it’s taken from the Malay word ‘apa’ meaning ‘what’). Too bad he doesn’t know how to hold back his massive power and poor Kenichi usually gets brutally injured by him everytime.
 
If you think Kenichi being a disciple with 6 different masters is good, wait till you see his training. Well, in a way it’s good because it broadens Kenichi’s view and not just stick to 1 way. Like they say, variety is the spice of life. The training that Kenichi undergo seems exaggerated and hilarious and forgive me if I sound like a sadist, laughing everytime at Kenichi’s pain and suffering. But because Kenichi’s scream is so convincing in a funny way, I can’t help laugh each time he undergoes his torture. Yeah, he’ll shout and yell to his masters how they’re the monsters and murderers. Ah well, the first step of a long journey is always the toughest. So what is his motivation to keep staying at Ryouzanpaku? Miu, of course. At least Kenichi’s still a ‘normal’ boy because at times he’s a passive pervert. Uh huh. At 1 time, Miu was helping Kenichi out with his torture training and it’s like between hell and heaven. The device is causing Kenichi so much pain that he can’t go on anymore, but since Miu’s boobs were rubbing against his back, I guess he enjoys it. And if you’re planning to see any chemistry between these 2, forget it. Though Kenichi does like Miu, but at 1 point Miu did bluntly mention that she sees Kenichi as a friend. There goes his chance.
 
As time goes by, you’ll see that Kenichi grows into a stronger character, thanks to all that suffering… I mean training. As Kenichi build on the basics like stamina and speed, he soon learn techniques from his masters and in no time, improvises and combines them as part of his moves. Not only that, because Kenichi’s the only Ryouzanpaku disciple, he too changes his masters like Sakaki, who doesn’t really take on a disciple at first but as time goes by, Sakaki seems to admire Kenichi more and more. And Shigure, she usually eat meals alone but ever since Kenichi arrived, she joins the others and looks forward to the day with the rest. Even if Kenichi is involved in fights, the masters have made a vow not to interfere unless it becomes real serious like probably Kenichi losing his life. Well, it’s not like they enjoy seeing people beat the crap out of their number 1 disciple, but this way, Kenichi gets to learn things better instead of being spoon-fed or being saved everytime he’s in trouble.
 
So back to the Daimonji battle. After Miu personally gives Kenichi some side-stepping lessons one night, will it be enough to defeat Daimonji. On the day of the match itself, the obnoxious Daimonji is full of himself. It’s like David vs Goliath. Remember, pride comes before a fall and the bigger they are the harder they fall. Though Kenichi has learned a move in a short moment of time, he managed to use all that he has acquired to beat Daimonji. That Daimonji loser is now in a panic. However, Kenichi decides to forfeit the match because he claims that 1 of the moves he used on Daimonji was illegal. But I think Kenichi felt pity for Daimonji and decides to leave the club. With Kenichi’s departure, he joins the gardening club (which is supposedly less ‘violent’ and more calming) while Miu joins a rhythmic gymnast club. It’s kinda funny to see Miu trying her best not to show off her flashy moves but the jealous gymnastic club leader is always trying to make her life miserable but her plans ends up backfiring on her. Move over, girl.
 
However, that first win for Kenichi is the start of his troubles. Some weakling defeated a powerful guy. That has got to be news. So Kenichi’s next fight is supposed to be the karate club captain, Tsukuba. He was the one who refereed the match between him and Daimonji and was kinda impressed with his side-step move and wants to challenge him. Peace loving Kenichi declined at first but was forced to fight back when Tsukuba mocked and teased him. After learning a few more moves, Kenichi defeats Tsukuba for good. You see, with back to back wins, Kenichi’s name is fast starting to go around in the fighting world. He’s really becoming popular for the wrong reasons.
 
Before I move on, I would like to mention several few characters first. The most interesting and amusing character that everyone will love to hate is Kenichi’s friend, Haruo Niijima. Okay, that’s what Niijima proclaims. Kenichi doesn’t like him that much but since they’ve been pals since young and he’s always around him, plus Kenichi’s principals of helping a friend in need, etc, I guess Kenichi has no choice but to accept this devil alien as his friend. Yeah, opposites do attract. Niijima do look and sound like a devil. Why, his ears are really long and when he’s really scheming, you can see his devil horns, tail and snake tongue when he’s doing his evil laughter. Niijima is part of the school’s newspaper club and his information gathering is close to perfect. His info is never wrong. But the thing is, he sometimes misuses them. At times he tells info of things Kenichi doesn’t want to know (which will later prove useful), or he twists a story and make a mountain out of a molehill. You just want to strangle this guy, don’t you? Though he don’t have any fighting skills, but his running away and escaping skills (coward!) are first class. Master of evasive techniques, I’d say. I think because he sees Kenichi fighting skills rising, the more reason Niijima decides to stick with him. Plus, he’s got a pretty Miu on his side, so it wouldn’t hurt to be friends with her too, right? All to his favour… Then there’s the other gardening club member, Yuuka Izumi. A shy and soft-spoken bespectacled girl, you can see her body language that she harbours a crush on Kenichi but that guy obviously has his sights on a more busty Miu and doesn’t know this. I kinda notice that she doesn’t make an impact in the show and her presence was ‘missing’ as the series near its end.
 
Another interesting cast of characters would be Kenichi’s family. They too don’t really make an impact in the series and even so, their appearance was just ‘obvious’ in the first half of the series. Kenichi’s little sister, Honoka, loves him very much and was bloody devastated when she learns her brother is gonna leave their home and stay at Ryouzanpaku. She thinks that big boobs girl Miu is the one responsible for whisking Kenichi away, thus doesn’t like her very much. But Miu loves cute little Honoka because she yearns for a family as she herself has no other siblings and her parents died while she was young. Initially, Honoka views Ryouzanpaku as a hell place because she witnessed the torture and suffering Kenichi went through. Though the animosity from Honoka subsides later, she understands her brother’s wishes but comes back from time to time to play games with Apachai and Shigure (I guess they’re quite fond of her too). Kenichi’s mom Saori is the calmest and most understanding one but sometimes have to control her husband Genji from doing stupid things. Not that Genji is an idiot, but since he loves his son very much, it saddens him to see Kenichi go live somewhere else. He’s a man now. Plus, Genji doesn’t have a good impression of Ryouzanpaku and thinks there are bad people there. Why, sometimes he thinks of visiting them with his trustworthy pal, Sebastion (Gasp! A shotgun!) and later Maximilian (Double gasp! A more powerful shotgun!), to teach those ruffians a lesson, only to be knocked out by Saori. Guess he’ll never set foot in that place.
 
Thanks to Niijima’s mischief of spreading blatant lies of Kenichi’s supremeness, Kenichi’s name has caught the attention of a powerful local delinquent group called Ragnarok (nothing to do with that MMORPG game). I’m thinking this group of delinquents look more like underworld people and it makes you think what the heck are they doing. I know being a delinquent means skipping school but heck, they’re acting like some underworld organization already. Anyway, a Ragnarok group division led by Kisara Nanjou wants to make Kenichi under her so she sends 3 subordinates to get him. They are Ikki Takeda the Striker, Kouzou Ukita the Thrower and Taichi Kouga the Kicker. The trio are searching for Kenichi but since the school is so big, they have a hard time finding him as Kenichi always seek a new hideout away from them to avoid any unwanted fights. Can’t believe they’re in the same school and can’t even find each other. Besides, Kouga and his underlings did meet Kenichi and Miu on the streets, I think Kouga’s so infatuated with Miu’s boobs that it impede his performance. Yeah, Miu alone herself took out all the thugs.
 
At the same time, Niijima has on his own decision formed a group called Shinpaku Alliance (name derived from the kanji writing first names of Niijima and Kenichi) to achieve his world domination goal. You guessed it, he drags Kenichi into it no matter how much the latter refutes that he’s not part of this group. Besides, Niijima himself is a smooth talker and has got several low level underlings to join in for his cause.
 
But the first Ragnarok member Kenichi will face is some low coward named Furukawa. He wants to gain recognition in Ragnarok and uses a knife to face an unarmed Kenichi when the latter injures him. Kenichi would’ve lost if Miu hadn’t interfered. Embarrassed by being saved by a girl, Kenichi undergoes more training (from Shigure and Akisame especially) and another later rematch leaves Kenichi with another victory. But Ukita has had enough of waiting for Kenichi to show up and decides to kidnap Kenichi’s classmate ‘friends’ (well, they were talking about how they should be friends to be close to Miu. Losers). By doing this, Ukita thinks Kenichi will come to their rescue. Initially reluctant at first, but I suppose Kenichi has to stick by his principles and soon face Ukita and Takeda on the school rooftop. Kenichi swiftly takes out Ukita with his knee kick learned from Apachai.
 
Now it’s between him and Takeda. It’s gonna be tough since Takeda is a boxer. Plus, Takeda is giving Kenichi a handicap by using his right arm only. During the fight, Kenichi decides to attack Takeda’s legs because as a boxer, you don’t really train one’s legs, right? So it’s revealed that Takeda was once an upcoming boxer but an act to save a boxer friend in need got his left hand paralyzed and his dreams up in smoke. While his buddy went on to be champ and such, that incident disgusts Takeda very much and that’s why he hates a guy like Kenichi who stood up to his friends, whom he thinks they’re just taking advantage (true, those 2 classmate rushed off when Kenichi arrived). But you know Kenichi’s sense of principles. The fight nearly claimed both lives with Kenichi and Takeda falling off the rooftop. If Ukita wasn’t there to catch them, they’d be goners by know. Miu who has just arrived, misinterpreted the situation and beats up them up. Though the victory is Kenichi, he still think positive of them as he sends Takeda to Akisame’s clinic for treatment. Akisame’s amazing bone healing skills manage to undo the blockage on Takeda’s nerve and revived his boxing career. Takeda is grateful and decides to leave Ragnarok.
 
News of Takeda’s defeat has reached Kisara but this time the lady is fed up of waiting and orders Kenichi to be killed instead. But another underling of hers, Shinosuke Tsuji thinks he wants to have a match with Kenichi and persuade him to join his group. Tsuji is an ambitious Ragnarok member and thinks a man’s power is measured by the number of underlings he has. The more the better. Soon Tsuji and his gang bumps into Kenichi and well, another round of fight begins. I love the part whereby Kenichi was telling off Tsuji about how he can’t stay a delinquent forever as his underlings will leave and work one day. Then the words "Right Way Of Thinking" appeared behind his head, as though he’s an enlightened! So funny. This pisses off Tsuji as he think those words insulted his pride as a man. Tsuji’s fighting style is less refined and more like street fighting. In the end, Kenichi is on the losing side and Tsuji is gonna break his legs when Takeda interrupted. This guy is now on Kenichi’s side. He won’t allow anyone to touch Kenichi because of him, Takeda’s boxing career was given a second chance. They manage to get away. But a loss is a loss. Back at Ryouzanpaku, the masters aren’t happy with the outcome and criticizes him and vows more harsh training as they fear this would lead to another loss.
 
Meanwhile, Kisara herself has been promoted to one of the Seven Fists of Ragnarok and is on probation. Well, it’s now Eight Fists. Claimed to be the most powerful members of the organization. Tsuji isn’t happy with her promotion and had an argument. Kenichi spots them and accidentally knocks Tsuji out with his sneak attack. Later Niijima uses this news to spread word that Kenichi had used a dirty tactic to defeat Tsuji. Later Kenichi and Tsuji meet and the latter is not too happy since he has only 2 followers left after his defeat to Kenichi. But Kenichi tells him that he has 2 friends instead. This made Tsuji feel a little better, he tells Kenichi that Takeda is gonna be executed by Kisara as punishment for those who leave Ragnarok. Tsuji decides to form his own new group but that’s the last you’ll see of him. So to play safe, Kenichi exchange handphone numbers with Takeda and to call him if he ever was in need. But on the night of the assault, I guess Takeda has his own pride and wants to do it himself. Another surprise is that, Ukita then too decides to remove himself from Ragnarok and so it’s 2 against who knows how many. Kenichi and Miu wouldn’t have come running to their rescue if Takeda’s handphone didn’t drop and accidentally pressed some button to call Kenichi. In the end, Kisara has back down and save this for another day. Besides, Takeda and Ukita did receive quite some beating so I guess, that’s enough punishment for now. Later on, you’ll see Takeda and Ukita as Kenichi’s comrades and of course to Kenichi’s horror, part of the Shinpaku Alliance. Yeah, that Niijima is on a recruiting spree.
 
So from now on, Ragnarok will have to be careful and wary of Kenichi. That’ll be the main story arc for the rest of the series. Besides, there’ll be short filler episodes in between so it’s not fight fight fight all the way. But I kinda notice that each episode is a training for Kenichi. No rest for the man. Some filler episodes include Kenichi and Miu going out on a date together only to discover it was a plot by the masters to see if Kenichi had learned anything so far, Ma drags Kenichi to some secret training just to peek Shigure and Miu bathing in the hotsprings at Ryouzanpaku filled with traps along the way only to find that the long hair blonde is no other than…. Hayato, Honoka trying to sneak into Ryouzanpaku but meet those scary weirdos, Kenichi and Miu have to protect the Ryouzanpaku’s signboard from being taken away from a dojo challenger while the masters are out, the gang leaves on a vacation to a secret Furinji island (don’t think Kenichi will have time to play. Besides, that boat to the island is man-powered… by Kenichi. Step on it pal!) and the masters see Kenichi’s determination and will to save and protect the ones he love when Honoka is being attacked by a group of sharks, Izumi who’s trying to win Kenichi’s affection pays a visit to Ryouzanpaku and decides to join the dojo only to find that the entrance exam is too hard (darn. Should’ve had more catty fights between Miu and Izumi), Kenichi sneaking out of Ryouzanpaku to follow Ma to resolve his personal family matter (yeah, Ma’s daughter Renka looks like another busty figure. Speaking of which, it seem Ma finally meets his older brother Sougetsu but in a fight, Sougetsu lost and decides to kill himself when the building caught fire. His body was never found, which means…), and Renka finding out where Ma is living and decides to temporarily stay at Ryouzanpaku to be close to Kenichi causing Miu to be jealous (double darn. Should’ve had more catty fights between Miu and Renka. Ah well, I guess a fanservice episode is enough as the gang heads to an indoor amusement pool park. Wow! Hayato’s kick reminded me of what Moses did to the Red Sea!).
 
Kenichi’s involvement with Ragnarok fight starts off when he first befriended the school’s drama club guy, the popular Natsu Tanimoto. Because he’s been harassed all the time, lots of members has left the club and a Romeo And Juliet play is coming up. Miu decides to help by playing the part of Juliet while Tanimoto as Romeo. Kenichi must be feeling jealous. At the same time, Kisara decides to go ruin the play as revenge over that ‘dairy cow’ (Miu, that is) for her previous defeat at her hands. Kenichi gets to know this and tries to stop Kisara. However, he has a policy of not hitting girls, which pisses off Kisara. Because of Kenichi’s believes, Kisara decides to back down for now. Meantime, Kenichi missed the entire play he had hoped to see but Miu was glad to know from Niijima that Kenichi protected her so that her play could go on. Later, it’s revealed that this Tanimoto guy is actually 1 of the Eight Fists, the 6th Fist Hermit. Hermit has been acting to be good all this while and he hates Kenichi’s justice-like character and principles. You’ll see flashbacks of him when he was young and he had a sickly little sister. As orphans, they were taken in by a wealthy man who promised treatment for his sister if he takes over his large corporation. But everything was a facade when his foster dad fell in love with a woman and in his eyes, that woman wanted just his wealth and that poor kid was left with nothing. Plus, with daddy’s demise, all his other subordinates plan on taking over his assets as they couldn’t believe he left it all to Tanimoto then. Because of this, Tanimoto was emotionally scarred from young and couldn’t trust anyone, thus he thinks deceiving by acting all good is part of life’s cruel way up the ladder. But he was taught martial arts by a mysterious man named Kensei (I thought it was Ma but later found out that they had no relations whatsoever) and he’s using Ragnarok as a stepping stone to move up in the underworld. But the fight between Kenichi and Hermit ended in a draw and a rematch will be quite likely in the future. So Hermit goes on to do some secret training to improve himself.
 
There’s an episode whereby Kenichi receives a love letter in his shoe box by a mysterious girl. I’m sure Kenichi still likes Miu but a guy like him rarely gets an opportunity like this. So what the heck, just accept the invitation to meet her at some place. Similarly, Niijima and his underlings decides to confront 1 of the Eight Fist, the 4th Fist Loki (weird pair of goggles he wears) at a restaurant. Niijima thought he outnumbered him but Loki had set an ambushed instead and turned the tables on them. Kenichi is on his way searching for the meeting place when he spots the Shinpaku Alliance in trouble. He’s in a dilemma whether to help or not. Of course he finally decides to, bad friend or not. At the same time, Takeda and Ukita too were there and joins in. In the end, Kenichi pulled 1 of his combo moves to beat Loki but to Takeda’s horror, that this isn’t the real Loki when he unmasked him. Yeah, something like the real Loki has a funny face. So the fake Loki and his subordinates escape. It seems that Ukita and Takeda too had received a love letter from a mysterious girl and was looking for the place. Finally it’s revealed that the mysterious girl is no other than Niijima! Holy schmoly! He had plan this all along so that the trio would come to this restaurant (the meeting place) to fight. Haha! Didn’t really see that sly move coming.
 
Due to Niijima’s slyness, Loki kidnaps Niijima in an attempt to lure Kenichi. Once again, a reluctant Kenichi and Miu has to save that demon in distress. They have to do it fast because Niijima is tied on board a ship to who knows where. Here, Kenichi faces off with the 5th Fist, Siegfried. This guy is quite annoying because everytime he fights, he sings! "La La La La!". That Beethoven Symphony sucks, mind you. To cut things short, Kenichi defeats the guy while Loki escapes with his underling, Number 20 (yup, another weird goggle wearing character. In fact all of Loki’s underlings dons one). However, Kenichi is too late and Niijima is set sail. However Niijima made the headlines the next day as some alien invading that ship. Yeah, that guy is still capable of mischief where ever he goes.
 
Next we see Honoka bumping into Hermit on the street and saves her from thugs. She calls him "Idol-looking guy" and in a way likes him. She follows him to his large lonely mansion and tries to nurse his injuries. Hermit isn’t too amused and wants her to leave but the very sight of her reminds him of his late sister. Loki then comes by Hermit’s house and comes to know this little girl is Kenichi’s sister and hatches a plan. Meanwhile Niijima is back and has completed an online website for his Shinpaku Alliance. To his delight, they got their first visitor in the name of Loki. He tells them to meet at an abandoned church and shows a picture of Honoka in his clutches. It is then that Kenichi is filled with rage as he rushes out to save his little sister. Don’t mess with this guy when he is mad. The others tried to follow him, but he was just to fast. Or rather they got lost. Besides, Loki’s shadows (fake Loki wannabes. Hey, a fat one!) are in their way. Kenichi arrives and faces Hermit waiting there. He’s mad that he resorted to such low dirty tactics. But since Hermit went on to tell about his dark past, Kenichi realized that he wasn’t the one who kidnapped Honoka. So lots of cool manoeuvres and moves before Loki interrupted by holding Honoka hostage. With Kenichi unable to fight back, Loki easily beats up Kenichi. Hermit has enough of it and despatches Number 20 who is holding Honoka hostage and accidentally cuts Honoka’s face when the little fry was too noisy. With the threat gone, Kenichi gets his confidence back and beats Loki. Just then, the 1st Fist, Odin appeared and tells everyone to back down for now. It’s also at this point where Hermit decides to leave Ragnarok. Odin is fine with it and leaves with Loki and Number 20. But it’s not over yet. Hermit wants to finish his fight with Kenichi and the latter is happy to oblige. Because of Kenichi’s strong will and his training, he defeats Hermit. A closely fought battle.
 
In order to bring Ragnarok’s reign of terror down, Niijima manages to convince Kenichi to take on the next Eight Fist, the 7th Fist Thor, who runs an illegal fighting and gambling den. Thor’s specialty is combat sumo and he makes a bet with Kenichi that if the latter loses, Kenichi will have to become his disciple as the duo will go round the world promoting this sumo style. If Kenichi wins, Thor must stop fighting under Ragnarok. Guess who wins in the end? Of course Kenichi lah. Thor thinks his sumo days are over but Kenichi tells him that he only wants him to stop fighting under Ragnarok and nothing else. Meaning that Kenichi wants him to pursue his dream of combat sumo. Since Thor lost, he’s being beaten up badly by the other Fists.
 
Next is Kisara who has now become the 8th Fist, Valkyrie. But I will still refer to her as her real name. However Kisara’s stay of being a Fist is just a short one. Kisara did bump into Kenichi and Miu on the streets and it seems that Kisara has a soft spot for cats, just like Miu. I guess it’s then the duo clicked. The 3rd Fist, Freya, has sent her female underlings dubbed Valkyries (see, that’s why I wanted to use Kisara’s real name. I wonder why she was given such a nickname in the first place) to spy on her. Those Valkyrie girls reminded me of Sailormoon, only wielding traditional weapons. They have come to a conclusion that Kisara has made several contacts with the enemy and decides to take her down for her betrayal to Kisara. Though Kisara is badly beaten, Shigure pops up in time to give those Valkyrie girls some advice on how to use weapon. Yeah, that nose bleed from Kenichi wasn’t because of Shigure’s slip, but rather he saw something he shouldn’t have when Shigure sliced the Valkyrie’s clothes.
 
Soon, Miu and Kenichi meets Odin at a store and their past is revealed. It seems Odin was Kenichi’s childhood friend, Ryuuto. I can’t believe Kenichi didn’t remember who he was. Can’t blame him. Odin looks so different when he was young. Yeah, like a sissy. Now he’s like a bishonen. Anyway Odin now hates Kenichi because the latter did something unforgivable back then. So we see that a young Kenichi and Ryuuto have met Miu before at a store. Miu was crying because she wanted a cat badge but got a yin yang one instead. Kind Kenichi decides to exchange his with Miu’s and this made her happy. Then Kenichi and Ryuuto saw how Miu beat up a group of robbers robbing that store and since then, they vowed to be strong like her. Back in present time, because of their different perspectives, it can’t be avoided that Kenichi and Odin started to fight. Since Odin has some super power move called Seikouken, he defeats Kenichi and decides to take his yin yang badge which he treasures so much in exchange of a broken one Odin has.
 
Kenichi is devastated after this loss but decides to go undergo further training. Finally we get to see Hayato training Kenichi as he brings him on a journey to a secluded forest and mountain. Though Kenichi is eager to start training, Hayato is just dilly-dallying, much to Kenichi’s dismay. Plus, Hayato did tell him not to train a single cell. Kenichi sneakily tries to do so but got attacked by a wild bear in the process. He is saved by a guy named Ishinsai Ogata, who brutally continues to attack the bear even when it’s dead. This causes Kenichi to be worried and prompted and tells him to stop. Ogata learns that Kenichi is a disciple of Ryouzanpaku and sees potential in his martial arts. Thus wanting him to be his disciple. However, Kenichi refused the offer and goes back to Hayato. It’s later revealed that it was part of Hayato’s plan to see whether Kenichi would want to follow the path of Sei or Dou. A Sei martial arts user hides his intentions and has control over his feelings but a Dou user lets his killer instinct take over and the user goes wild and uncontrollable. Like Ogata, he is a Dou user and it seems he could’ve been Ryouzanpaku’s first disciple if Hayato hadn’t disallow him after knowing his true nature. Because of that, Ogata secluded himself in the mountains. Also, later I found out that this guy is the Kensei that Hermit is referring to. Thank goodness, Kenichi unknowingly decides to follow the path of the Sei because he stood strong to his principles. And thus, the hell training begins.
 
Meanwhile, Niijima has recruited Siegfried and Kisara into his Shinpaku Alliance! He’s trying to convince Hermit but the latter doesn’t want to, beating Niijima up everytime he gets near him. But that doesn’t stop Niijima from trying harder. Also, Niijima decides to join forces with Kisara’s ex-members to strengthen their ties. While Kenichi is away training, Odin dispatches Freya and the 2nd Fist, Berserker, to crush the Shinpaku Alliance by hunting down all its members. Freya and her Valkyries takes on Kisara and Miu respectively once more while Berserker finds and beats up Takeda and Ukita after destroying the lower levels of Shinpaku Alliance and Kisara’s men. Niijima then confronts Berserker but that devil uses his best skill against him, to escape, that is. Even if Berserker manages to catch him, Niijima manages to slip through and Berserker only has his clothes in his grasp. Yeah, Niijima’s running around half-naked shouting that there’s a pervert after him! Sly guy. He leads Berserker to a dead end and lets him fall into his trap but it didn’t work. Just when Berserker is gonna deliver the final blow, Siegfried appears to give Niijima the time he needs to escape. The fight between a Fist and a former Fist ended with Berserker winning. Since the Ryouzanpaku masters were passing by, they were enjoying the fight till the end, but when it’s over, they pulled Siegfried’s unconscious body out of the river and treated him back at their place. Meanwhile, Miu manages to single handedly beat all the Valkyries, while Kisara squares off with her former mentor Freya. Some flashback how Kisara decides to leave her team because she doesn’t believe the use of weapons unlike Freya. The fight ended when Freya’s staff broke and Freya admits defeat. I guess, she too has a pride as a martial artist.
 
Niijima and his last Shinpaku Alliance member, Matsuo, are meeting at their hideout, some old abandoned refinery and has to hatch a plan. But it seems Loki has got the place totally surrounded with Ragnarok’s henchmen. Is this the end of Niijima and his Shinpaku Alliance? Well, Niijima did send Kenichi an SMS telling his future plans. Because Kenichi thinks it’s weird for Niijima to do so, he thinks that something is wrong and hurriedly rushes back. Loki commands his men to crush Shinpaku Alliance when Thor shows up. Yeah, looks like he’s part of the group too. At the same time, Siegfried is recuperating but he’s will to go help his friends in need made the masters of Ryouzanpaku and Miu decide to go watch the battle from afar. It amuses me that how come they can all see and hear things when they’re kilometres away. At the same time, Ogata himself decides to go to the city and have a look at things when he stumbles upon this battle and decides to watch it too. Before Loki could execute his master plan, Odin and Berserker arrives. Odin tells Loki to back down but the latter is fed up with Odin’s weak leadership and declares to carry out his scheme. He tells everyone that with Odin as a weak leader, the Fists of Ragnarok have crumbled and claims he is the new leader of a new Ragnarok group. Why, there are 8 new Fists too! He then tells Berserker to join him as his number 2, which Berserker coolly walks over to Loki’s side. Loki thinks now that he’s in command when Berserker lands a blow on him and the other 8 Fists. Did Berserker betray him so fast? Well, he never did say he wanted to join Loki. He just wanted to get within punching distance. And I thought there’s gonna be new characters with those new Fists, but they just made a really short appearance. Berserker then knocked out Loki and put him out of his misery.
 
Hermit too has arrived by then but he’s here not to join Shinpaku Alliance but to get revenge on Loki. Since Loki has been defeated, obviously he wants a match with Berserker for taking his prey. Also, Kenichi too arrives in the midst of the battle when Hayato drops him (literally). Hayato then joins the Ryouzanpaku masters watching from a distance. Kenichi is surprised and mad to learned what has happened and wants to take on Berserker. But Hermit stops him by saying that since he secluded himself in the mountains to defeat Odin, he should just concentrate on that. So it’s Hermit vs Berserker. Hard work vs talent. A tough fight which sees Hermit coming out tops eventually. After the defeat, before Berserker could warn them not to take on Odin, Odin knocks him out unconscious. Though Odin didn’t want to fight Kenichi and orders his underlings to finish off the rest, Takeda, Ukita, Siegfried and those other fallen Shinpaku Alliance members come to aid the battle. With both sides almost even in numbers, I guess the inevitable boss vs boss match has to start. So the much awaited rematch begins. It won’t be possible for me to describe in every detail the fight. Let’s just say that Odin is pretty much amazed with how much Kenichi has learn and grow in a short while. We find out that the unforgivable thing Kenichi did to Odin back then was after Kenichi had given that cat badge to Miu, they argued over the yin yang badge. This lead to a little boy’s fight. In the end, Kenichi won but decides to give his victory to Ryuuto. So that was the unacceptable part? So when Ryuuto bought his own yin yang badge, he wasn’t satisfied because it was victory he wanted and ever since vowed to become stronger. Anyway his grudge runs deep. Odin’s view of martial arts is to dominate the world and against the weak yada yada yada. We also find out that Odin’s a disciple of Ogata.
 
Just when Kenichi has even the odds and tells Odin to take off his glasses, Odin tells him why he is called so. Without his glasses, Odin has some foresight skill. Because of that, he gets to predict Kenichi’s every move. Vision of foresight is better than vision of seeing. To counter this attack, Kenichi decides to imitate his masters’ skill and personality! Odin is obviously taken aback but I guess this provided some laughter and amusement for the masters. Hehehe. Just then, Odin the unthinkable by combining the forces of Sei and Dou. Now he is even more ripped and powerful. It’s a dangerous technique in which may lead to the destruction and overuse of his body. Once his body reaches its limit, he is unable to avoid Kenichi’s attack. Since it’s Kenichi’s win, he gives back his yin yang badge. Ogata tries to intervene but was stopped by the Ryouzanpaku masters. Due to the intensity of the battle, this causes an explosion. Kenichi wants to save his friend but Odin is still disgusted with his stance. In a nick of time, as they’re falling, Ogata manages to swoop Odin away while Hayato does the same with Kenichi. The rest of the masters use their superb skills to rechannel and put out the huge fire. Kenichi tells Hayato how he wants to save his buddy and go back to the way it was. Miu rushes there and Kenichi tells her that the number 1 disciple is back. That’s it. End of series.
 
WHAT THE?! It doesn’t feel so much of an ending by the way. I understand that the manga is still ongoing but it just like leaving some bitter aftertaste in my mouth. Yeah, I’ve got a feeling that a sequel is highly probable in the near future. When the show ended, it didn’t resolve a lot of things like what happens to the Ragnarok group now that Odin has been defeated. What about Shinpaku Alliance members and Niijima. Heck, what about the other small side characters like Kenichi’s family and Izumi. Oh well, if one is interested, one can continue reading the manga, which I browsed through a little of its future storyline arcs which includes a new threat especially from Ogata’s side. But you know, I don’t really have that reading habit. Perhaps I’ll just wait for the 2nd season. If there will be one.
 
During the series especially the opening and ending themes, sometimes they display drawings and arts from the manga. In my opinion, the manga drawing looks horrible! Compared to the anime, which has been given a bishonen and bishoujo makeover, the characters do look 1 kind. There are also several differences between the manga and anime in the sense that some chapters of the manga were completely skipped in the anime. Also the manga seems to display more gore and blood.
 
Another thing I kinda notice in the anime is that when the characters are gonna scheme, usually you’ll see a sparkle of light in their eye. But this one has both eyes flashing like a car headlights! Funny. I also found out later that the Eight Fists are named after the mythological Norse Gods. And something trivial, I too later got to know that based on Kenichi’s kanji writing, it is NOT Ke-Ni-Chi, but Ken-Ichi instead. Get it?
 
I particularly like the voice acting especially from Kenichi who is voiced by Tomokazu Seki (Chiaki of Nodame Cantabile, Pierrot of Yakitate! Japan). His voice really suits all the moods Kenichi is in. Especially when he is in pain or suffering at the hands of his masters tormenting training. Other voice casts include Tomoko Kawakami as Miu (Fuyuki in Keroro Gunsou), Takumi Yamazaki as Niijima (Izawa of Ping Pong Club), Ken Narita as Odin (Sesshoumaru of Inu Yasha), Unshou Ishizuka as Sakaki (Bunta of Initial D), and Mamiko Noto as Shigure (Yakumo of School Rumble). I could go on a little but that last episode of the series which show snippets of the characters and their seiyuus lasting several minutes made me feel I’ve had too much of it already.
 
Both the opening themes Be Strong (1st opening theme) by Kana Yazumi and Yahoo! (2nd opening theme. No, not that online search engine) by Miho Morikawa and Akira Asakura sound very rock-like with all those heavy electric guitar playing, which suits the theme of the series and gets viewers into the action mood. However, I find that some of the ending songs are quite impropriate such as the 2nd ending theme Catch Your Dream and 3rd ending theme Run over, both sung by Koike Joanna, to be kinda ‘a happy song’. When the series reaches the end as it gets intense or suspenseful, then they play such song. It spoils the mood. Plus the slow ballad 4th ending song Kokoro Kara No Message by Sakura only lasted for 4 episodes. I wonder why change an ending theme when the series is gonna end soon. So far I still prefer the slow pop 1st ending theme Kimi Ga Iru Kara by Issei Eguchi. The mid-intermission has some ‘terror’ loud heavy electric guitar playing solo. So it’s best to turn the volume down just then.
 
So it goes to show that violence begets violence and once it’s started, it’s a never ending spiral. Each time you beat a strong one, another stronger one will emerge and challenge you. If not everybody else wants to beat you to be number 1. Even so, the use of martial arts still vary and depends on the user. So what is the best defence from any attack, you say? Well, you just turn around and run like hell!
 
Kenichi

Cheer Song

May 23, 2008

  Haru wa te wo furi hohoende,
  Natsu wa jounetsu wo furimaite,
  Kisetsu wa utsuri kawatte,
  Aki wa fuyu ga tomodachi
 
Another one of my favourite anime karaoke songs is Cheer Song, from the ending theme of the series Beyblade. One good obvious reason is because this song is easy for me to sing. Nothing else. Okay, maybe because the song also does sound good itself but mainly it’s quite easy and relaxing on my vocal cords. No strenuous and taxing high pitch and sustaining lines.
 
  Kaiketsu dekinai koto tte,
  Shinrai yuujou aijou kanjou
 
The song is sung by system-B and the singer himself sounds like as though he is singing through his nasal and in a ‘sleepy and lazy’ way. Because of that, I think I sound quite close to the singer whenever I sing (emphasis is on ‘I think’). Basically the entire song sounds just like that but luckily for me, there are background vocals to back me up, which makes the singing experience more enjoyable.
 
  Donna toki demo kumo wa nagareteru,
  Itsudatte onaji sora wa nai,
  Ruisen takamatte ochiru shizuku datte,
  Kanashii wake dake ja nai
 
Just like the title of this song, the lyrics is mainly about trying to cheer one up when one is feeling down and gloomy. Since life isn’t a bed of roses, there are good times and there are definitely bad times. What’s important is not to lose hope and look forward to the future. Sounds easy? Well, let me sing this song again first. Though I must say that I’m having a little trouble with my timing somewhere in the second verse and second bridge. I seem to either say the words too fast or too slow. Other than that, I’m okay.
 
  Yuuki wo dashite kotoba ni shite miru,
  Saa tabidatou kibou no machi e,
  Yakusoku datte kanarazu kanau sa,
  It’s gonna be a clear day
 
I kinda noticed that the animation for the tv series just shows the main character, Takao, sitting on a top as it just slowly spins round and round and round. Nothing much happening unless there’s one point where Takao nearly fell off but manages to get his balancing act together. Also the entire lyrics for this tv version is in hiragana and katakana writing and there is no kanji words in sight.
 
  Sensou datte itsuka naku naru sa,
  Sou omoeba kitto sou naru,
  Guuzen kasanatte okiru dekigoto mo,
  Sore wa imi aru koto
 
When the song reaches its finishing lines, it kinda reminded me of a Christmas song because of all the bells ringing as the music starts to fade away. But I think this song is fit for all occasions. Rain or shine. And I’m glad that I’m happy singing it. Isn’t it such a cheerful song?
 
  Yuuki wo dashite…
  Yakusoku datte…
  It’s gonna be a clear day…
 
Beyblade

Keroro Gunsou

May 17, 2008

This series wasn’t really on my must-see list but when Keroro Gunsou was shown on the local tv last year, I decided to give it a go. Since I know this show has over 100 episodes, I’m predicting that the tv station is gonna do their usual act of stopping halfway or even before the midway point. To my real surprise, they stopped showing the series just after 26 episodes! Now that really caught me off guard.
 
Well, I don’t really want to know the reason why even though I have a few theories of my own. But because of that, I decided to go and watch the series on my own. Even so, this is the first series in a very long time (maybe ever since the anime craze started in me) that I’ve decided to stop watching the show. There’s a reason for it. This series is still currently ongoing in Japan and since it’s being aired since 1999, they have already breached over 200 episodes. And there is no end in sight. Yet. What made me decide to drop watching the series a few episodes into a century is because the subs have just reached that far. Due to my impatience and at that current moment I had other ‘shorter’ anime series to watch, I finally decide that for the sake of watching that new anime, this one has to go at its expense. Sounds harsh. Besides, though each episode offers some different and variety of adventures, in a way, it’s what made it repetitious too. I’m not saying this is a boring series.
 
The basic storyline sees a group of frog invaders from the planet Keron who are going to invade planet Earth, whom they all fondly know as Pekopon. I don’t know why but out of all the millions of household, the leader of this invading platoon, Sergeant Keroro, has to start invade the Hinata household in Japan. To cut things short, this green little weirdo flops. Thus he is at the mercy of the Hinatas and becomes their slave-cum-servant and do meaningless household chores such as cleaning, cooking and the laundry. Makes you think are they capable of being invaders in the first place. Yeah, you’ll find Keroro is an incompetent frog as you go along. Wonder how he gets to be a leader of his platoon. Besides his signature "Kero, kero, kero" laughter and sentence ending "~de arimasu", this frog loves collecting and assembling those Gundam-like models called Gunpla. Weird or just plain lazy. Or both. Invasion, interrupted. All the time.
 
The Hinata household consists of just 3 people. Manga editor mummy, Aki, is the strongest member of the family and rides a motorbike. Eldest child, Natsumi, though is a normal girl with athletic, she is the one who punishes and gives Keroro the receiving end of her fury. She calls Keroro "Boke Kaeru" (stupid frog) and is always suspicious and blames Keroro if anything weird happens. Finally, Fuyuki is the more gentle one and is an obsessed fan of anything occult from the paranormal and the unsolved mysteries.
 
So over the episodes I have seen, most of the absurd-out-of-this-world-exaggerated comedy adventure will follow a certain pattern. Keroro and the gang will come up with some grand scheme to take over Pekopon but due to some error, misfortune and blunder, they’ll usually flop and be back at square one, or Keroro trying to find out Natsumi’s weakness and beat her with his plan. There are other main plots or side stories to help develop the characters but I feel that those 2 are the main adventures for the series. And while watching the series, it’s best to switch off your logic and reasoning power because as mentioned, the comical parts are outrageous enough to make you laugh (but not as much as Excel Saga). Even if you need a reason, let’s just say that it’s the superior high-tech advanced Keron technology.
 
Speaking of characters, I think I’ll blog on them since after watching the series for awhile, the jokes will revolve around the characters’ personality. So you could profile and analyze them after awhile. Let’s start of with the Keroro’s platoon. We have the snack loving Private Second Class Tamama who is skilled in martial arts. Okay, maybe not. But among the group, he’s the one who comes up with weird techniques like his mouth blast Tamama Impact. Tamama loves Keroro not in the sense as a superior-junior relationship, but as a lover! Woah! Yaoi relationship even do exists in aliens and frogs. But Keroro doesn’t know this and Tamama harbours this hope in his heart and gets jealous whenever anyone gets close to him. Yeah, I love Tamama’s voice when he’s jealous or in combat mode. He sounds ‘crazy’. But I notice that Tamama himself is sometimes selfish in the sense that whenever Keroro is in a tough pinch, Tamama will make up some excuse to not get involve. Where’s your real love for your sergeant? And I’m sure when Keroro got the surprise of his life when he finds out that somebody ranked lower than him gets to live in luxury whereas he himself does all those tough chores.
 
Next we have Corporal Giroro, the tough cookie and gun master of the team. Though he may look tough, but as the series progress, you’ll find otherwise. Always pestering Keroro to come up with plans to invade Pekopon and chiding him if he becomes lazy. If you’re so good, why not do it yourself? Giroro also harbours deep feelings for Natsumi (because he ‘lost’ to her when they first encountered) and because of his tough ego, he can’t reveal it. But I’m not sure when did this secret of his got busted and sometimes Keroro will use this Natsumi bait to lure Giroro into his schemes. Yeah, he softens up or gets weak whenever it involves Natsumi. I also notice that Giroro seems to bear the unfortunate consequences of Keroro’s testing or experiments. When not doing anything, Giroro can be seen cleaning his guns outside his makeshift tent in Hinata’s garden.
 
Then there’s Sergeant Major Kururu. He’s always laughing "Kukukukukuku…", which is annoying… and addictive. This yellow frog is the one responsible for all the bizarre inventions that you see in each episode. Though he’s a genius, it makes you wonder if he’s one because somehow each of his inventions has a flaw which partly contributes to the flop of each mission. His dark personality (but not evil) suits him very well in the sense that he has that unmotivated attitude and doesn’t listen to advice and only does so because he feels like it. There is an episode where we see his seemingly endless library collection of CDs, each labelled as some secret info (but it wasn’t really much… and lame).
 
Finally, Lance Corporal Dororo FKA Zeroro, is the one always left out by Keroro and the rest. Poor guy. Yeah, when he was young, he was always ‘bullied’ by Keroro and has developed some sort of trauma. So whenever those bad memories start coming back, Dororo’s Trauma Switch will go into on mode, and he’ll be unable to do anything but sit there in total gloominess. Aside that, he’s the quietest and calmest among the rest and even though he’s a trained assassin and ninja, his goal seems to contradict their mission. Dororo has turned into a peace loving advocate for Pekopon. And the only reason why he joins Keroro in his soon-to-fail invasion plans is because he yearns to be part of the action with the team. Sad case. Pity him.
 
Then there’s an additional member of Keroro’s team. She is Angol Moa and is dubbed the King Of Terror. She is from a race that destroys planets by using some weird staff with a comet. Her special move is called Helmaggedon and her 1/10000000000000 (I honestly don’t know how many zeroes there are) can split a planet in half! She’s supposed to destroy Pekopon but arrived several years too early and decides to take a nap. She wakes up later and crashes into the Hinata’s house (why do weird things keep happening at this house?). I’m not really sure of Moa’s real relationship with Keroro but she calls him her uncle and relish the chance to get all lovey-dovey with him. Because of that, Tamama sees her as an enemy each time she does that. Moa always has a habit of rephrasing or resaying a sentence in another way "Toiu ka~" (You could also say~).
 
Other Pekopon characters include a rich multi-billionaire (I think this amount isn’t enough to measure it all) Momoka Nishizawa, Fuyuki’s classmate and the daughter of NPG Corporation run by her dad and seems to have a hand in a lot of sectors. Makes you think that money can buy everything, huh? Momoka has a dual personality and while the more gentler and soft-spoken is seen, her other devilish and brute side will offer ‘advice’ or criticism. Just like how Keroro and Giroro lives with the Hinatas, Tamama lives with Momoka. Momoka has a capable elderly butler named Paul who will do anything for her. Then there’s this guy called Saburo also attends the same school as Fuyuki and Natsumi and he has that magical pen which can materialize things that he draws on. Then a ninja girl Koyuki Azumaya who has lived the way of the ninja for so long that doing normal things in the modern world seems so alien to her. She is best friends with Natsumi and is even her classmate.
 
In a long running series, there are many other characters too which spices up things. Such as some space detective called 556 (pronounced Kogoro) who is always hyped-up and passionate whenever he speaks. Yeah, he tends to do hand movements you see in those sentai movies. 556 has only 1 facial expression and always laugh no matter whatever the occasion. His sister, Lavie, is always seen apologizing for her brother’s lameness, stupidity and whatever. 556 has a habit of collecting coloured cardboards and because they’re so poor, that’s what they have in their small apartment and Lavie works part time to earn some cash. Also, Lavie is the only person who can tell her brother’s true feelings. Then there’s a space policewoman called Poyon. I don’t know why viewers called her a f*cking b*tch but I find her real cute whenever she ends her sentences "~Poyon". The there are Keron’s eternal cobra-head enemy called Viper in which they’re always been introduced as brother or mother or girlfriend or some in-laws of the first original defeated Viper. An American pop star named Melody Honey who speaks Japanese with an American accent and laughs at any kind of jokes, even boring or lame. Also a famous pop star but of intergalactic proportions is the pink Keron, Sumomo. Let’s not forget the narrator who comments or criticizes the characters with ambiguous talk (say one thing, mean another) and at the end of most stories, give some advice to viewers NOT to do what you just saw. There are many many many more characters but it will seem to take forever if I were to blog each an every one of them.
 
Now let me move on to the love triangles which partly makes the series a little interesting. Momoka has a crush on Fuyuki and will go to any great lengths to win his heart. So far, it all ended in failure and Fuyuki is still oblivious to all those signals. Makes you wonder why she loves this boy in the first place. And yeah, money can’t buy you love, right? There’s another side character bespectacled girl who seems to have a crush on Fuyuki too. I can’t remember her name but just like Momoka, she too can’t confess her feelings. I’m thinking the girls have such strange taste. Ah well, love works in mysterious ways. Likewise, Natsumi likes Saburo but is unable to confess her feelings. I don’t know but I kinda notice that Saburo is the voice of a radio programme which Natsumi loves listening to called 623 (pronounced Mutsumi). After hearing so much of this talk show, hasn’t she recognize his voice yet? Maybe they sound different on and off radio. But as far as I’m concerned, they sound the same, the way they talk too. Also, Koyuki seems to harbour that lovely feeling for Natsumi. Ah, yuri ninja. But you won’t see Koyuki doing weird desperate attempts to win her heart.
 
After watching the series, here’s too what I kinda noticed. Whenever something zaps or explodes at Keroro, he’ll don an afro hairstyle. In order to hide the Keron’s activities on Earth, they will use an Anti-Barrier which will make them invisible from the sights of all Pekopon inhabitants. However, mysteriously the Anti-Barrier doesn’t seem to have an effect on the Hinatas. Could this mean that there are actually real aliens living among us? There is a ghost which inhabits the Hinata’s household named Yure (literally also meaning ghost) and just like Dororo, her presence too is always ignored though she doesn’t make that much of an appearance throughout the series. She is more cute than scary in a way and there’s an episode which tells how she came to be. Uh huh. Something about believing in a kappa which resembles so much like a Keron. If you notice that Keroro has made the Hinata’s home as their base to invade Pekopon, you’ll wonder how big and seemingly endless the base is. Yeah, with just a meagre crew of 5 plus 1, you’d think why do they need such a large space for. Even when a so called meeting is being session, the room seems so empty with many unfilled seats. Besides, how on Earth does the ground below the Hinata’s residence have such a wide endless space? It just goes on and on and on… Every plan and scheme that Keroro hatches has got to have something to do with money or his Gunplas. It makes me wonder why he’s so obsessed with getting Pekopon currency to buy Pekopon Gunpla. Can he have Kururu make more money or Gunpla? Whenever the Kerons don’t use Anti-Barrier, they’ll get into a ready made Pekopon suit which allows them to move and mingle around normal humans. I find it funny that nobody except the other main Pekopon characters notice their odd appearance. Does anybody see that round frog head of theirs which doesn’t match that human body and limbs below?
 
Since they’ve arrived on Pekopon in such a relatively short time, I wonder how did they construct it all too? The genius of Kururu? Maybe. Even that frog admits that he can built and invent anything except a time machine, no matter how smart he is. But I’m sure he has a way around that, like that Do-It-Once-Again gun. If Dororo is always wearing a face mask, I wonder how he eats and drinks without ever taking it off. Whenever Kururu is ‘defeated’ or ‘lost’, his spectacles will be broken and he’ll be saying "Megane… megane…" (my glasses… my glasses). Whenever the frogs get together and resonate, they’ll repeatedly echo the 1st two syllables of their name. Harmony or cacophony? Natsumi likes listening to her 623’s radio programme and gets all excited when he’s gonna read her send-in postcard. However, whenever it reaches that part, there’ll be some interference (usually from Keroro’s ruckus) which prevents her from enjoying it a single bit, and soon incurring her demonic wrath. Whenever Momoka invites Fuyuki to some event, somehow the rest of the uninvited guests (read: Keroro and co) would tag along, spoiling the mood for spending their time alone together. Not only there are many strange aliens from outer space, there are some mysterious creatures from Earth too, like the weird mermaid clan which Fuyuki met in one episode. I’m not too sure, even though their identities are not allowed to be known by humans, they decide to let him live because they think he’s the saviour of Earth. Huh? At Keroro’s age or rank, I notice that the headquarters sends him assignments and homework to be completed and handed in a certain time frame. Of course Keroro is lazy and doesn’t do them till the last minute. Does it really matter all those assignments? Back on Keron, Keroro, Tamama and Giroro are quite popular and have their own group of fans. However, Kururu is quite unpopular so much so the platoon receives requests to remove or replace him. Ah well, better than being ‘forgotten’ or inexistent.
 
Since it’s impossible for me to blog on every episode, I’ll just mention the more memorable ones (in other words you could say the ones that I can remember. Heh, I do sound like Moa, don’t I?). Most of the episodes are divided into 2 stories though there are some which are a whole story by itself. I kinda notice that most episodes with 2 stories are in a way are related to each other in the sense of the topic or the aftermath of the first. Also, you can also guess a certain story is focused on which main character since his/her name will appear first, followed by the episode title and the sentence ending "~de arimasu".
 
Some of the stories included such as the Hinatas along with Keroro and co visit their grandma at the country side. Due to her strong and perseverance character, Keroro and co looks up to her and addresses her admiral. Also, Tamama’s confrontation with a tiny rhinoceros beetle… and lost. An episode whereby Keroro has a tooth cavity so the gang has to miniaturize themselves and fight the decaying invaders in Keroro’s mouth (love the part whereby Tamama was in his crazy mode and firing like nobody’s business but his crazy shooting didn’t even hit a single enemy!). A time where a couple of fakes are imposing as the universe’s most famous tv celebrities and take advantage of Keroro and Hinata’s hospitality and kindness only to be foiled in the end by Poyon and the real ones receiving their fury upon their arrival. A part where Momoka’s dual split personality really splits into 2, telling really lame ghost stories, Natsumi temporary turning into a busty adult self (wonder why Saburo didn’t recognize her), Momoka inviting Fuyuki and co to her island so that she could be close to him in a test of courage, Tamama temporarily becomes the leader of Keroro’s platoon because of an error in a letter (yeah, he just fires those against him even if it’s just some insy tinsy reason. But he soon finds himself alone when no one is left), Keroro using the radio waves to invade Pekopon (expect failure), Keroro and co invade the sports festival of Fuyuki and Natsumi, Keroro’s legendary demonic father visits him on Pekopon (to everyone surprise, he’s not as fearful as he once thought to be), having a snowball fight at the Hinata’s yard, trying to persuade Kururu (seems only Moa can have an effect on him because of her angelic smile), doing a manzai comedy at a beach competition, Keroro and co trying to get and turn an animal into half-human to help in their invasion, Keroro and co trying to understand how an anime is made in order to invade Pekopon (yeah, it’s tougher than it looks. So all anime enthusiasts, be thankful and grateful for having watched quality animes. Can’t say the same for Keroro’s lame anime they made at the end), Fuyuki takes a wonderful trip visiting the world’s ancient mystery sites only to find that they’re past tools used by aliens (like Stonehenge was a giant cooking pot!), and the gang planning a surprise birthday party for Natsumi when it’s actually just a plot to get everyone to celebrate Keroro’s birthday which is a few days after Natsumi’s.
 
Other (mis)adventures include Keroro having a Tyrannosaurus Rex as a pet but its mind control over it went out of control, Aki takes a spin on one off Kururu’s robot inventions but it goes out of control and battles Kururu, Fuyuki and Keroro challenges each other to some winter sports duel but the game is always being interrupted by mysterious forces (that’s Aki and Kururu’s accidental doing as it’s later revealed), Tamama befriending a football kid and getting his self confidence back, Keroro mass producing dangos as part of his invasion plot (too bad they didn’t sell a bit so he and the rest has to eat them all up. And they’re still producing dangos at that rate too!), Momoka takes Fuyuki on a space trip or even a haunted school in hopes of getting near him (don’t bet your money that she’ll come close. Even so, it’s like yet so close yet so far), Tamama learning a new deathblow (I like the theory of how his twisted personality twisted the direction of his deathblow since his original Tamama Impact can only predictably go in a straight line), Natsumi and Koyuki duking out in a tennis match, Keroro and gang try to stop a moving castle with a mind of its own before it destroy a Gunpla factory, a new transfer student in Fuyuki’s class who is actually an alien trying to retrieve a precious item in Fuyuki’s possession to end her bad luck streak, Momoka along with Natsumi and Moa forms a 3 member thief called More Peach Summer to steal an embarrassing picture to be displayed by her dad who employs Fuyuki and the Kerons to guard it (yeah, the picture is a naked baby version of Momoka. Real embarrassing), Keroro becomes a temporary teacher in Fuyuki’s class, Keroro and the rest enter Dororo’s subconscious mind to rid all (okay, some of them) the bad memories which are causing him his usual trauma, Fuyuki and Keroro walking down memory lane a path Fuyuki usually walks when he was young, Keroro setting up a intergalactic hotspring pitstop for aliens, Natsumi and Koyuki having their ‘date’ while Giroro watches real closely (even if they’re girls or the date was just shopping, that frog is still suspicious), and when Natsumi and Saburo are locked together in a rocket soon to be launched to space (Giroro getting real jealous here and did everything he could to prevent it. When the rocket lifts off, Giroro was hanging to it. Finally it’s revealed that the duo are trapped in just an adjacent toilet and well… poor Giroro’s blasted off into deep space).
 
Momoka’s dad testing Fuyuki to see if he’s capable of being the next heir to his gigantic corporation, Keroro creating a weird and real life game, the Kerons trying to take over the world through football by facing Paul’s side but the former lost because Keroro did an own goal, Keroro remodels the Hinata’s home into some weird and confusing mix-up maze, Tamama gets a visit from a junior Taruru who looks up to him (it seems Tamama must be spreading lies to him as Taruru blurts out Tamama’s greatness and the other’s ‘weaknesses’), Tamama also getting a visit from a little Keron girl Karara who wants to be Tamama’s bride (later on she changes her mind and falls for Kururu because he ‘saved’ her and much later again changes her preference to Dororo when he did the same thing too. So fickle…), Koyuki making a heavy riceball for Natsumi (I wonder why it’s edible too) and gets the Keron frogs involved in a sumo wrestling match between a group of mouse aliens, a 3rd personality of Momoka awakens (which her character reminds me of Hime of Kaibutsu Oujo. And yeah, she’s gonna take over the world!) when she saved Fuyuki from a blast, Keroro and Natsumi have their usual fight but the former ends up running away from home to live on his own (not gonna last very long…), Keroro and co along with the help of a space policewoman try to decipher a code containing some treasures (what? some gold toilet seats? It’s some Japanese pun I don’t get anyway) and a showdown with the Vipers, Keroro runs a fast food outlet only to find out that it was Moa and Natsumi’s smile which is selling and not the loads of ingredients for the burgers they bought, the gang turned themselves into magical girls and tries to cheer up a busy Aki at work, Giroro having himself split into 7 different personalities, Moa got a disease which causes her to unconsciously blurt out her deepest desires and her bad side, Momoka inviting the gang to some traditional badminton game whereby the losers get moustache drawn on their face, some alien and Dance Man rip-off turning the entire world into afro as part of his invasion plan and doing that funky disco plan but only to be foiled by the transformed singing quartet of Natsumi, Koyuki, Moa and Momoka, Aki being chased and ‘tested’ by aliens who wants to employ her manga editor skills for the whole wide universe (she turned down the offer), Giroro being kidnapped by a jilted alien who thinks Giroro is the reason why his girlfriend broke up with him and Natsumi comes to his rescue, and a hotspring murder mystery whereby 556 is the victim (actually he just tripped on his coloured cupboards).
 
A day when Fuyuki and the Keron frogs go back in time and meet a young school going Aki, a past on Koyuki on how she was raised from a ninja village and met Dororo soon after, Keroro and gang trying to show their version of Hina Day for girls only to ruin it for Koyuki and pissing off Natsumi, trying to control self-regenerating and multiplying Nyororo (alien creatures which sucks humidity) when it goes out of control, Giroro go to great lengths to get some 3-headed dog alien liver to cure Natsumi’s illness, Keroro bluffed his dad by saying that he plans to marry Natsumi in order to continue staying on Pekopon, Keroro once again trying to beat Natsumi in some miniature racing game around their house, Fuyuki accidentally being turned into a child once more and relieve his world domination ambitions, 623 organizing a talent contest whereby the winner gets to meet him face to face (Kururu won with his cold jokes), Giroro trying to do some hobbies, Tamama temporarily all grown up, Keroro and co disguise themselves as physicians, doctors and nurse to do physical examination at Fuyuki and Natsumi’s school (hilarious part was when every girl saw Fuyuki naked in his undies when Keroro was running away and accidentally bangs him away. Oh Momoka…), Natsumi and Fuyuki had a quarrel, Fuyuki and Momoka stranded on Kururu’s experimental island, Fuyuki and Momoka attending some occult games meet so that their occult club will have records of achievement and not be closed down, Natsumi temporarily becomes a dog and meets Saburo while Keroro tries an unsuccessful attempt to take an embarrassing photo of her. But my favourite one was when Paul created a simulator for Momoka with all the scenarios in an attempt to get the right atmosphere and scene for Fuyuki to confess to Momoka. Looks like they need to remove a lot of things, obstacles and possibilities. Finally the simulator is perfect and Momoka can now confess to Fuyuki in the real world. It seems to be going as planned until the final part whereby Fuyuki is gonna confess… when suddenly 556 comes by in his whatever motor jet laughing like an idiot, splashing water on them and zooms off (with Lavie apologizing of course). Damn that guy. Of all the weird combinations and possibilities, they actually never thought of 556. Another one is whereby Keroro plans of using moveable cabinets to conquer Pekopon because everyone who gets their little toes knocked by them will be squirming in pain than anything else. Of course this plans failed because in most parts of the world, especially USA, people wear shoes in their homes.
 
There are times whereby the headquarters requests Keroro and co to show the results and proof of their invasion or advances like the time where Keroro uses a last ditch attempt to create a new planet. Though it’s against some intergalactic law, they have too or else they’ll have to abandon their mission and return to Keron. Now, after so long on Pekopon, everyone’s so comfortable with each other, why would they want to go back or the Pekopons for them to leave, right? Even though the results aren’t satisfying (in my eyes), they’re always able to get away and continue their stay (hooray for the gang and another reason to prolong the series. Haha). Then there’s a time whereby the gang have to say their final farewell as headquarters command them to return home. In doing so, everyone who has memories on them will be erased and any physical proof of their existence will be vanished without a trace. Of course it’s a heartbreaking tearful way to part and eventually though the Kerons are gone, it’s revealed at the end that they were just being called for a health check-up. That’s what happens when you jump to conclusions. And with Kururu’s memory restoring invention (can memory be reset just like a computer?), everyone regains their memories and continue with their happy ways. It makes me wonder why the headquarters don’t really monitor their progress. I mean, with all those technological advances, it’ll be just at their fingertips, right? Are they serious in wanting to conquer Pekopon?
 
But there is a short story arc that got me a little interested and excited to watch. It all started when the entire Keroro platoon along with Fuyuki and Natsumi lost their memories and there is a countdown timer in which a bomb will destroy the entire planet. This scene looks very much like the American thriller, 24. They did stupid and hilarious stuffs just trying to remember who they are and what they’re doing at that point in time. Finally it’s revealed that one of Kururu’s invention (a satellite in space) was the one responsible for zapping them all and causing them temporary memory loss. But it wasn’t Keroro or they gang who stopped the timer (yeah, so colour prejudiced. You’re not gonna cut the red wire aren’t you Keroro? And not the yellow one too, huh?), but that Kururu’s invention itself because it thinks that they were all so dumb and stupid that they were not worth killing. So true. For the first time, Kururu’s expression and tone was a little serious because he wonders how anyone else could hack into his system like this. There is.
 
Soon, Giroro’s older brother, Lieutenant Garuru and his troops arrive on Pekopon with their mission of replacing Keroro as Pekopon’s invaders after so many failed attempts. Garuru is more merciless and ruthless and his crew seems quite intimidating. We have a part-cyborg and assassin Lance Corporal Zoruru (coolest character with his sharp razor claws), computer geek Private Second Class Tororo, and Private First Class Taruru. Yup, that Taruru has joined Garuru’s platoon and is all grown up now. Garuru’s arrival seem to have froze the entire planet in suspended animation. It’s not that only time has stopped, if it were to go on, everything on this planet will suffer some atrophy and waste away! I’m not sure why the usual Pekopon characters aren’t frozen, though. Anyway Giroro goes up against his brother and lost to the latter’s superior Keron weaponry. Gasp! Is this the last we’ll see of him? Taruru takes on Tamama and easily beats him. Zoruru who has a grudge with Dororo (I don’t know where he’s hiding all this while ever since Garuru’s invasion came to be) meets and duels with Koyuki. For those surviving Pekopons who got defeated by Garuru’s troops, they’ll disappear, but I don’t know to where. With Giroro and Tamama down, Kururu locked away in his own room because he can’t outwit Tororo, and Dororo nowhere to be found, Keroro thinks his bad leadership is the cause of all this happening. Took you long enough to realize it, pal. Garuru and co then confronts Keroro (after imprisoning Moa) and changes Keroro mind with some tube to his ruthless self before he came to Pekopon. Before Giroro was wiped out, he made some super high-tech suit for Natsumi as he thinks she’s the last saviour of Pekopon. Even though she kicked ass, it still wasn’t enough to beat Garuru. Even Fuyuki tried to lend a hand by persuading Keroro, who has become the leader of Garuru’s platoon to stop it all and remember all the times they had together. Though it seems futile, but it manages to reach deep down into his heart.
 
In a sudden turn of events, Keroro remembers all his memories and turns back to his old but renewed self. For the first time, we see Keroro like a true leader (even if it’s just for a short while) commanding his other troops to protect the Hinatas. Sudden revival from Giroro and Tamama as they head to where Keroro is. Finally Dororo makes his move by using his ninja art to immobilize Tororo’s computer system. With the help of Kururu, they turn the tables on him. Giroro and Tamama had their respective rematch with Garuru and Taruru and easily won with their renewed determination. Finally all of Keroro’s troops have gathered and the much awaited showdown between Dororo and Zoruru is about to begin when Dororo don’t remember who he is, sending shockwaves to the latter so much so he just disappeared into the darkness. Everyone thinks Dororo did a cruel thing. They’re the one to speak. Ah well, I was really anticipating such a cool fight but it didn’t materialize. Perhaps in the future episodes. I’m not sure but it seems Garuru’s mission wasn’t to replace them but the way he said things, was just to ‘awaken’ them and see their true potential. With that, Garuru and co left and return Pekopon to its original state. Looks like these same bunch of losers will be the ones who will invade Pekopon. With Natsumi’s close watch and their bunglingness, I think we don’t have to worry any time sooner.
 
After this arc, I continued watching a little more. Keroro and co took a short vacation and accidentally left their fake robot selves (even their characters are totally opposite) trying to take over the world and the Hinata siblings are at their mercy. Of course the real ones return and show up just in time to save the day. Just then, headquarters have had enough of their delays and send some sort of countdown timer to conquer Pekopon in 175 days or else. But those few subsequent episodes sees them all still dilly-dally even with their failed plots as by the end of each episode shows the counter closer to the deadline. And even though I’ve stopped watching since then, I bet that there’s gonna be some catch or loophole somewhere which will allow those froggies to continue their stay on Pekopon. With more characters coming into the fray, I’m also sure that life on Pekopon for Keroro and co will be an interesting one. Not to mention probable short story arcs. I also read that Garuru and his team make another return in a not so distant future episodes. And for those who still can’t get enough of Keroro, to date there are 3 movie length features of the series.
 
I guess that’s it for me. At certain point, the episodes feel the same but it still didn’t bore me. Especially with all the jokes and stupidity coming from Keroro himself. Probably I would’ve gone on myself if the subs were up-to-date but like I’ve said, I haven’t got the patience. I kinda notice that though the drawing doesn’t cater to those bishoujo or bishonen kind, but it has that kinda cute feeling, if you know what I mean. In other words, the character’s facial details especially the humans are quite simple. Yeah, their hair looks kinda like plastic… One thing about this series that there are lots of kanji words accompanied with hiragana and katakana writing on screen. Too bad that since they’re being displayed too fast and my Japanese isn’t that proficient yet, I can’t finish reading it in time. Even so, I can’t make any sense out of it. The next episode preview has the characters blabbing about something when Keroro interrupts by saying "Who cares about that" before mentioning the next episode titles.
 
Another thing I like about this anime is the superb voice acting. Everyone here sounds really fitting in their roles, especially Keroro who undergoes various voice changes depending on the mood he is in like being spoiled or pretending to be some flirty female character. Keroro is voiced by Kumiko Watanabe (Shippou in Inu Yasha), Etsuko Kozakura as Tamama (Yoriko in You’re Under Arrest, Mirmo in Mirmo De Pon), Jouji Nakata as Giroro (Gran Kayser in Yakitate! Japan), Takehito Koyasu as Kururu (Kuroyanagi in Yakitate! Japan), Takeshi Kusao as Dororo (Hanamichi of Slam Dunk, Kougaiji of Gensoumaden Saiyuki), Mamiko Noto as Moa (Enma Ai of Jigoku Shoujo, Esther of Trinity Blood), Tomoko Kawakami as Fuyuki (Athena in Aria The Animation, Ai in The Law Of Ueki), Chiwa Saito as Natsumi (Neneko of DearS, Aika of Aria The Animation), Akiko Hiramatsu as Aki (Miyabi in Ai Yori Aoshi, Haruko in Slam Dunk, Yukari in Azumanga Daioh), Haruna Ikezawa as Momoka (Yoshino of Maria-sama Ga Miteru), Keiji Fujiwara did double roles as Paul and the narrator (Takeshi in Sola), Ryou Hirohashi as Koyuki (Alice of Aria The Animation, Franca of Coyote Ragtime Show), Akira Ishida as Saburo (Narumi in Gakuen Alice) and Noboyuki Hiyama as 556 (Kankuro of Muteki Kanban Musume, Ikkaku of Bleach).
 
A long running series like this surely there has to be several opening and ending themes and of course I only get to listen to some of them. The 1st opening theme Kero! To March sounds like a marching song and the animation is full of Keroro himself. The 1st and 3rd ending theme Afro Gunsou sounds more like a Saturday Night Fever Disco theme and has Keroro in his afro hairstyle while in a John Travolta 70’s trademark suit. The 2nd ending theme Pekopon Shinryaku Ondo sounds like a traditional Japanese festival song while the 4th ending theme Keroro Shoutai Kounin! Netsuretsu Kangeiteki Ekaki Uta!! sounds like a children kindergarten’s song. The animation for this ending theme also tells viewers how to draw the frogs and each of them will have their turn singing the song. The series’ 2nd opening theme Zenkoku Musekinin Jidai reminds me of Naruto’s because the singer is screaming like a rock song. The 3rd opening theme Kimi Ni Juice Wo Katte Ageru sounds more pop-rock. The 5th ending theme Katte Ni Shinryakusha has a disco feel whereas the 6th ending theme Kokoro No Mondai sounds like a 10 year old trying to rap. The 4th opening theme Hareru Michi ~ Uchuujin sees Keroro and his platoon doing some weird dance while the 7th ending theme Shouri No Hanabira sees them running on a long winding road. Perhaps it’s a way of saying that Keroro will never reach his goal?
 
So if there are aliens out there really want to invade and take over our planet, chances are they may or may not be successful. Even though they are all high-tech and advanced, it doesn’t mean that they’re more smart and intelligent. And I still can’t understand Keroro’s Earthly desires anyway. Are frogs in our world really another life form from another planet? But I don’t think aliens will want to conquer our planet. Look at the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Killing each other to self destruction. I think they’ll definitely pass this one. Kuuukukukuku…
 
Keroro Gunsou

Candy Boy

May 16, 2008

I’m still wondering what is the rationale behind the title of the anime series Candy Boy. I mean, the main cast of characters here are girls. There are no guys at all! Unless you want to count those insignificant not-so-obvious passerbys in the background. And by the way, speaking of main characters, there isn’t many either.
 
Thing is, this series is actually a one-episoder. So far. What is truly shocking is that it’s real short. How short is it? Why, it’s only approximately 8 minutes long! Wow! I think driving to work takes longer than that. Probably there’s a real reason for this short ONA (original net anime) release. No budget? Hey, but the drawing and art seems quite okay in the sense that the girls do look gorgeous. How about testing the market? Maybe they want to see if this series is good enough to turn into a tv series in the near future. And most obvious of all, there is no opening or ending credits. Save time and money too, huh?
 
This series is produced by Anime International Company (AIC) and though it’s so short, it’s classified as a school love comedy series. The funny part is that I rewatched it a few times just to try and understand things. Not that the dialogue is tough (heck, the dialogue is just so simple and not complicating), but rather due to the short duration of the show, before I can digest things, it all comes to an end. Yeah, so you could say dumb people like me need to rewatch it again just to understand what’s going on.
 
Since I did mention that the main cast of characters are girls and that it’s a love comedy genre, you know what these 2 mix of elements meant, right? Yup, yuri. That’s what I felt after finish watching the show. For those who don’t know what yuri is. It means something of a lesbian relationship. But don’t worry, you won’t get to see any steamy or hot kissing scenes between the girls.
 
So the story starts off with the high school going Sakurai twins, Yukino and Kanade in their dorm room. Kanade is asking her twin what she wants for Christmas and Yukino enthusiastically replies that she wants Kanade’s breasts.  Haih… Already into the 18th second, we’ve got such yuri talk already. Can’t believe I actually keep the timing. Since Kanade says "Huh?", Yukino tried saying boobs instead to make her understand. I think Kanade is more of in shock rather than not understanding what she meant. Then Kanade says that’s supposed to be her wish and not hers. Wait a minute, now Kanade wants Yukino’s breasts or her own to be busty? But the reason why Yukino wants so is because that she could use it as her body pillow which will make her feel like pudding, cream, marshmallow… Ahh… Soft and tasty.
 
Yukino then asks if the Maru-maru Banana count as a snack, in which Kanade says that snack is hers. Yukino continues to tease her by saying how fat she gets for eating those at night when Kanade gives her an awfully painful cheek pinching punishment. A female dorm mate comes in and is looking for Yukino. She’s saying that she heard about the freshman and wants to know what she’s gonna do about her. Kanade seems spacing out.
 
While at a karaoke outing with their buddies, Kanade notices how Yukino is taking quite a long time at the toilet. The dorm mate says that the freshmen, Sakuya Kamiyama, is with her outside and probably doing a confession. Kanade isn’t sure what she meant as she continue saying that how Sakuya is always following behind the twins wherever they go. And it seems everyone knew about it except Kanade herself.
 
At the train station, we see the twins holding hands together, talking while waiting. I know that they’re siblings, but it’s kinda odd to see two grown ladies holding each hand like… Well, let’s just say they’re not little kids anymore. Yukino shows a pic she got on her handphone how Kanade is sleeping and her saliva drooling all over the desk. Haha. Yukino thinks it’s pretty. Kanade isn’t amused and tells her not to circulate that and erase it. Before she knows it, Kanade gets a mail and to her surprise it’s a forwarded mail of that embarrassing pic! As she wonders why she got her forwarded mail and erases it, Yukino says that she forwarded to everybody so that the copies would be ‘safe’ even if theirs are erased. Sick thinking. A moment of silence. Yukino starts to feel her hand in pain. Yeah, that’s because Kanade is gripping it real hard. Yukino then quickly says it’s just a joke and apologizes. Just then, Sakuya appears and calls out to their name. In an instant, they both let go their hands. Sakuya tells Yukino that it’s alright to call her by her first name but Yukino apologized, saying she hasn’t got used to it. Another spacing out from Kanade.
 
A short flashback when the twins were young and we see Kanade poking a sleeping Yukino’s cheek. Back to the present, Kanade is sitting alone in a cafe and receives mail from Yukino telling her to go home without her. She heaves a little sigh while admiring a picture of them in her handphone. Back at the dorm, Kanade wonders if they should stop sleeping together. If you’re wondering, nothing much happens. I mean, though they have a double decker bunker, they’re still sleeping together like kids and not because of anything yuri. Yukino wonders is it because of her cold feet but Kanade shrugs it off and says it isn’t so and soon sleeps.
 
Next day at the train station, the twins are usual waiting for their ride and Sakuya is seen talking with Yukino. The scene which follows show Kanade with that gloomy look while lying on her bed, a depressing expression walking home alone, and taking a train ride all by herself. Then as Kanade is walking by the school corridor, she spots Yukino in front of her. Kanade tells her to hurry or they’ll be late for class when suddenly Yukino burst into tears and says not to leave her behind since they’ve always been together since birth. Thus, Yukino will always love her sister the most. As tears trickle down Kanade’s cheeks, she too mentions that she also loves Yukino very much (I’m hoping this love thingy is of the sibling kind and not yuri). But when Kanade asks about Sakuya as she thinks Yukino’s seeing her, Yukino denies it and says that Sakuya is in love with Kanade! Holy! Either way you look at it, it’s still yuri. All this while, Yukino thought Kanade was distancing herself with Yukino to go out with Sakuya. Kanade quickly rushes over to her and grabs her cheeks, demanding her to spill everything out. It’s revealed that Sakuya requested Yukino’s help to get closer to Kanade and that she was telling all she knows about her. We then see in Sakuya’s room, many pictures on her wall of Kanade. Yeah, and that embarrassing sleeping saliva drooling one is the largest framed one. Hehehe. This girl is really obsessed and admiring it. So there’s nothing going on between Yukino and Sakuya in the first place. Since she herself didn’t say anything, I suppose Kanade just jumped to conclusions.
 
Next day at the train station, Yukino informs Kanade that Sakuya is watching them from behind. Uh huh. That Sakuya girl is hiding behind some barricade, blushing spying on them. Kanade wants her twin to help her out but Yukino says how delicious the snacks were. Kanade then realized that she was given 3 days worth of Maru-maru Bananas and thinks she’s in this situation because Yukino accepted her snacks. Bribery? Because of that, Kanade says she didn’t hold up to her end of the bargain. Yukino than exclaims "Oh, right!". Just then, Yukino felt her hand getting a little pain. Kanade tells her to keep quiet and that she’s never letting her go ever again. Literally. Is that in sibling or yuri sense?
 
Overall, I guess it’s rather okay for a really really really short series. Nothing to shout about. I actually didn’t get it in the end what it meant till I read somewhere that because of Sakuya asking for Yukino’s support to help her in her confession, Kanade in the end realizes her true feelings for Yukino. I know that twins are supposed to be real close to each other but don’t tell me they’re gonna marry each other one day.
 
I just want to mention that even though the voice acting isn’t much, Hitomi Nabatame is the voice behind Kanade. You may recognize her as Yukiji in Hayate No Gotoku, Nobue in Ichigo Mashimaro, Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana and Mikoto in School Rumble. As for Yukino, she is voiced by Ryoka Yuzuki who did previous anime roles such as Ino of Naruto and Eruru of Utawarerumono. Newbie voice actress Emiri Katou voices Sakuya and her previous prominent role was as Kagami of Lucky Star. I feel that Sakuya’s dialogue isn’t much and I think her total speech time is less than 10 seconds throughout the entire show. That’s not including the huffing.
 
Oh, there is a 3 and a 1/2 minute special music video if you buy the DVD of the series. However, it’s just like showing several clips here and there without the dialogue while the rap and pop-like music is playing. Since the entire series is 8 minutes, I think I can safely say this music video has shown 99% or perhaps all the scenes in the show. Except for a never seen before scene at the end of the video whereby we see the twins lying on the bed holding each other’s hands.
 
And by the time I have blogged this, I just read that there is going to be a continuation of this series for a further 7 more episodes. Looks like they’ve decided to expand the storyline, huh? I’m not so sure if I want to watch it because I’m not really a fan of the yuri genre. Even so, probably I’ll watch it for the comedy sake.
 
So probably the candy here is must be the Maru-maru banana snack but the boy… Why didn’t they call it Candy Girl instead? Maybe it will make viewers think it has some relation to that retro anime series Candy Candy. Besides, none of the girls here show any tomboyish or masculine personality. But it would be interesting to see what happens in the tv series. And no, as I have said, I’m not a yuri fan, mind you. Hmm… I wonder if I would do the same thing too if somebody bribes me with chocolate. Maybe I’ll get more than just pain in my hand.
 
Candy Boy 

Potemayo

May 10, 2008

Now, I don’t really have chibi fetish or things like that. So mainly why I watched Potemayo was because I read it was a comedy series. The ‘star’ of this series as mentioned are chibis (cute little things). But they’re not human. Okay, I don’t really know what it is either. It’s like a little deformed creature with some humanoid features. Small and round. Wargh! Hard to describe lah! But rest assured that this things don’t really exist in our world.
 
So let’s leave our reasoning at the doorstep and take a little time to sit back and watch this series. Though this is a 12 episode anime series, it’s actually divided into 24 stories. So if you do the math, you’ll guess that in most of each episodes, which are called Pote, features 2 stories of around 15 minutes each. Why I say most of each episodes is because there is an episode which features 3 stories an the final episode is shown as a whole story by itself. But let’s not get into too much of that detail. To avoid any confusion on my part and for easier referencing, I’ll just refer to each story by their Pote rather than a whole episode.
 
To start things off, we have this bespectacled junior high school student, Sunao Moriyama (voiced by Eri Kitamura who voiced Akeno of Seto No Hanayome), who has a serious expression and rarely shows any other expression. Why, even his speeches seem monotonous. One day, he spots some strange chibi creature from his fridge while getting something to eat. I don’t know why he decided not to hand over this strange creature to UMA (unidentified mysterious animals) enthusiasts, maybe he’s lonely and decides to keep it as a pet since his widower dad, Koudai, is always away working. So how did Sunao end up calling this chibi creature Potemayo? Well, Sunao was eating potato with mayonnaise and… you figure out the rest.
 
It seems Potemayo is quite fond and attached to Sunao. This high pitched chibi creature doesn’t really have any proper speech lines and her most frequent line she goes is "Hani, hani…". Later on, she’ll get to say Sunao’s name. But that’s as far as she goes speech wise. Of course Sunao has to bring Potemayo along wherever he goes, even to school. So you’ll see her sitting on his head or in his arms. I guess, either everybody just ignore this chibi creature or love her. Hate her? Too cute for that. Anyway, everybody seems to understand perfectly what that little blob is trying to convey.
 
I also want to mention that Sunao’s classmate, Mikan Natsu (voiced by Ayako Kawasumi who also did voices as Elie in Rave and Aoi in Ai Yori Aoshi), has a really deep crush on him. Makes you wonder what she sees in this boring guy who’s bloody oblivious to it. Mikan gets all flustered up whenever she thinks or even is near Sunao and goes into spacing out mode with her wild fantasies over him. That’s another way of saying, she has no guts to confess to him face to face. Because of this, Potemayo doesn’t like Mikan very much, 1 of 2 people Potemayo despises. Everytime Mikan comes close to Sunao or talks about him, Potemayo will go into her snaring mode like a cat and showing her teeth. "Hiah… Hiah…". Hehehe.
 
Other characters who’re Sunao and Mikan’s classmates are Mudou Kirihara (a loser who likes Potemayo so much and wants to cuddle her but can’t. This is the other person Potemayo dislikes. Hiah… Hiah…), Kaoru Hatsushiba (voiced by Takayuki Kondo who did Oishi in Prince Of Tennis. Always seen by Kirihara’s side and feels pity for anything unfortunate that happens towards him while softly saying Mutan in tears. Hmm… Sounds like ‘mutton’. What’s with his ugly lips? Later you’ll find out that this guy may be secretly in love with Kirihara. Gay?!), Nene Kasugano (a super filthy rich kid and her high pitched voice sounds very fitting for a bully and teasing character like her. No, she doesn’t bully everyone, but those who are easy to pick on, she’ll do so. Holy smokes! I can’t believe Rie Kugimiya, the one who voice Shana in Shakugan No Shana, is the voice behind Nene! Can’t recognize her!), Kyou Takamimori (an athletic tomboyish but good hearted girl. Voiced by Yuko Kaida who voiced Riza of Kaibutsu Oujo). Then there are 3 girl classmates whose names I can’t remember. They seem to have their adventure of their own and seldom come into contact with Sunao and co. So let’s just call them the 3 stooges.
 
Anyway, Pote 1 introduces the characters but it’s mainly about how Potemayo dislikes Mikan because of her likings for Sunao. I like the hilarious part whereby Sunao was asking Mikan which bread she wanted and Mikan’s response is that… she wants Sunao! Potemayo gets into snaring mode and jumps onto Mikan’s face! It was a pretty funny sight which lasted for several seconds as Sunao handed a bread or two to Mikan when her hands were stretched out (trying to reach for Sunao rather than asking for the bread). Other than that, Potemayo’s radar senses of Mikan’s lovey-dovey feelings seems to have wide coverage area. Even if Mikan’s back at her own home. Uh huh. Potemayo is like reacting naturally to it, snaring while she and Sunao takes a hot bath.
 
Pote 2 introduces another strange chibi creature called Guchuko. Another weird one coming out from Sunao’s fridge. Yeah, no proper speech too. Just some random huff and gruffs. Guchuko seems more ‘scarier’ but because of her chibi look, it lessens that effect. Guchuko wields a scythe and has a habit of slicing things in half and plastering it back with a tape. Sunao’s fridge was the first victim. She also has two weird hairpins with faces on it. Hmm… they look like croissants. But be careful not to mess with this one. It’s because her hairpins can give out some super blast which will fry you in an instant. Though Potemayo and Guchuko don’t cross path quite often, even so, by accident or some ‘act of revenge’, Guchuko always have the upperhand and beats Potemayo. Yeah, shoot and fry her with those super blasts.
 
Though Guchuko may seem cold, the only person she cares about is Kyou because she feeds her with some tiny round chocolates, which’re called guchus. Another genius in giving names. Thus, Guchuko ‘resides’ on a tree outside Kyou’s house. I think Kyou too takes a liking for her, though there isn’t as much skin contact as Sunao and Potemayo. By the way, this episode also introduces a little yellow bird called Tori. I don’t know if it’s meant to be funny or not, Tori actually pooped on Potemayo’s head and pisses her off! I don’t know what happens after that, Tori is always seen sitting on Potemayo’s head. So basically Pote 2 sees how Kyou gains the trust of Guchuko with her chocolate balls while the class are doing some artwork in the park. After all that, Guchuko leaves a dead bloodied pig on Kyou’s classroom’s table to show her gratitude. Haha. I wonder why Kyou didn’t freak out like the rest. Probably she knows it in her heart.
 
Pote 3 sees Kirihara trying to get close to pet Potemayo by trying to be normal. But his normal face looks so scary so much so it freaks out Potemayo and she wet Sunao’s head! Oh dear! See all that water gushing out? Since Sunao’s uniform is wet, Kirihara offers his cheerleading uniform (what the?? This guy likes wearing female cheerleading uniform?) as temporary clothes till his and Potemayo’s are dry. Funny thing is that Potemayo is running around naked! But you won’t see anything eye-catching, if you know what I mean. The funny part is that because the uniform is a little too breezy and Sunao isn’t… well, let’s say he isn’t worried about his modesty, this made the other guys uneasy and tells him about it. So Sunao tries to act like a girl when the wind blows through his skirt, which also disgusts the guys even further! Haha. Another funny moment is when Sunao is taking a leak in the toilet. The guy next to him was shocked to see Sunao in that outfit and another intense water gushing moment. Control and aim properly, man.
 
In Pote 4, Mikan once again is having fantasies about Sunao and I think it’s because of this rather than being soaked too long in the bathtub which causes her to be taken away in an ambulance. Meanwhile, Potemayo is dancing to an addictive bread song commercial. Yeah, that lyrics of that song mostly goes "Pan, pan, pan, pan, pan, pan…". Other than that, Sunao and Potemayo go do some shopping together a traumatizing event like a young girl, ‘kidnapping’ Potemayo for mistaking her as a cute cat, made Sunao put Potemayo on his head. On their way home, they bump into Mikan, who’s family runs a vegetable store. Hiah… Hiah… I don’t know what that terrible breath releasing thingy Mikan’s dad did to make Potemayo to pass out. Mikan’s mom knows about Mikan’s crush and tries to get them both together. I don’t know what weird fantasies Mikan is having this time, but when she snaps back to reality and hands Sunao the apples, Sunao’s thank you is enough to make that girl spurt blood out from her nose. Too moe? Anyway, it’s the ambulance again. Later as Mikan takes a bath, she dreams of another wild fantasy of Sunao and experiences another nosebleed. This time her mom barges in to tick her off. If it continues this way, it’s gonna be expensive each time they have to call an ambulance. Back at Sunao’s place, as he and Potemayo gets ready for bed, he thinks that it doesn’t matter what creature Potemayo is. But the next morning, Potemayo seems to have wet the bed once more and is apologizing profusely. Haha. First it was Sunao’s head and then the bed. Can such a small creature contain so much water?
 
It’s snowing in Pote 5 and Potemayo is being wrapped together with Sunao in his scarf. They meet some guy on the street (voiced by Hiroki Yasumoto who did Sado in Bleach) who seems to love giving that chibi glutton things to eat. Whenever you see this guy, he’ll always pass some food for Potemayo and goes on ranting on who knows what. But Potemayo and Sunao won’t be around to listen to his boring story. Back in school, it seems Potemayo doesn’t just let out water. One of the 3 stooges grabbed and hugged Potemayo because it was cold and she thinks Potemayo is all warm and fuzzy. However, this causes Potemayo to vomit on her. Eww. Then there’s some showdown between Potemayo and Guchuko over some sweets. Guess who wins? Then Nene decides to bully Guchuko by asking Kyou to feed her. Hehe, Guchuko can’t do anything but look in pain as Kyou does so. While the class is having a Christmas party, Guchuko uses some distraction to steal some food (Potemayo falling out of the window, that is). After the party, Guchuko follows a trail of those tiny chocolates (blasting a yapping dog on her way) to Kyou’s house. Kyou has decorated that tree with lights, puts a pillow, cake and a Merry Christmas card for Guchuko. The next morning, Kyou’s mom to her horror, finds a dead bloodied cow at her doorstep. Yeah, Kyou did mention how Guchuko didn’t have to do this to thank her.
 
Koudai returns in Pote 6 and whisks Sunao and Potemayo to a public bath. First thing you’ll notice is that Koudai’s behaviour is like a child. So who’s the kid here. Also, Sunao seems to dislike his father for his childish behaviour and doesn’t hesitate to punch him if he steps out of line. Though Koudai is quite energetic and his intentions of bringing Sunao and Potemayo (whom he nicknames Mochi Mochi) to the public bath is to spend some quality time with his only son, Sunao doesn’t seem too amused. It’s also strange for a little creature to have a huge appetite. Yeah, Potemayo ordered lots of things from the menu so much so she stuffed herself and can’t move. Bad move. Why? That’s because Mikan is here too! Haha, can’t snare at her and protect Sunao. Koudai starts telling Sunao’s embarrassing stories as a kid. But as Mikan decide to leave, Sunao doesn’t want to be alone with his dad and grabs Mikan’s hands. Another fantasy mode causing her to faint. Later as Koudai did some karaoke session with another guy, Mikan says how Sunao’s dad is interesting but the latter says he’s just annoying. Koudai gets another slap from Sunao when Koudai asks him to go up on stage to sing with him. In the end as they left, Koudai gave Sunao a jacket and wishes him Happy New Year before heading home.
 
It’s Valentine’s Day in Pote 7 and Kirihara is fantasizing he’s getting chocolates from Potemayo and even a kiss. But that was enough to make him nosebleed and flood his entire desk. Yeah, he even went to ask a salesgirl selling chocolates for some advice on how to seduce. There’s a funny part in which Koudai misunderstood something Potemayo said which causes that chibi creature to bite his butt. And she’s biting it all the way. But a part I don’t get is when a junior girl gives Kyou her chocolates and Nene proceeds to tell some feudal princess warrior kind of story, which I think is supposed to be similar to Kyou’s case. Then later another similar story like this but this time Kyou’s a ninja while Nene’s a princess. What the? Yuri? When Valentine’s Day approaches, Mikan hides her chocolates for Sunao in his desk but Tori ate it all. But this episode is the turning point for Kirihara. He’s going all out to give Potemayo his chocolates and passionately expresses himself. Only thing, he did so in front of Nene. Nene agrees to accept and in return (and from now on), Kirihara becomes Nene’s slave. Yeah, we’ll see her carrying big heavy bags loaded with who knows what and Nene will be sitting on top of it all. Plus, Kirihara gets a dog collar around his neck. Kaoru can only pity him from afar…
 
Potemayo catches a cold in Pote 8 and well, if you’re trying to save the environment, be sure not to follow Potemayo’s way of using up pieces and pieces of tissue paper. Yeah, her running nose is hilariously long and disgusting. Potemayo uses too much and soon runs out of it and uses Tori to block her nose. Potemayo’s dreaming of some peach and rushes to eat it but in reality it’s just Tori. Hmm… Seems Potemayo and Tori are connected by double running nose lines. Good thing it isn’t a red string. Anyway, the scene of Potemayo having her nose dripping and oozing is just funny and disgusting. Meanwhile, everyone in school notices Potemayo isn’t around and Sunao tells them about her illness. Sunao arrives home and Potemayo is happy to see him and jumps into his arms, where it’s all warm and fuzzy. Later, Sunao’s classmates come over with some food. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if Sunao did it on purpose or not, because he let the Mikan, Nene and Kyou in and just when Kirihara and Kaoru is gonna step in, the door shuts. So while the gang have a nice warm party inside, those 2 poor guys are pretending to be having fun with part of the gang from outside the window.
 
Pote 9 starts off with Sunao and Potemayo enjoying the day watching the sakura petals when a butterfly lands on Potemayo. I guess there must be something attractive about Potemayo because soon a swarm of butterflies covers her! But this episode is mainly on Guchuko and her stand-off with a cuckoo bird of a clock in Kyou’s living room. Yeah, Guchuko is waiting for the enemy to pound. Because she doesn’t know that the cuckoo bird comes out at the stroke of every new hour, at that time, she’ll let her guard down and miss the chance to slice it to pieces. After several near misses, Guchuko just slash the damn clock with her scythe. And then plaster it back up (just like how she did to their house door). Though Kyou’s mom is quite fascinated about Guchuko she and Kyou starts quarrelling about keeping that chibi creature as a pet. But Kyou mentions that Guchuko is more of a friend. Their noisy argument leads Guchuko’s hairpins to hiss at them. Better keep it down. But I guess Guchuko still prefers to nap on that tree branch outside their house. Oh yes. In this episode, the 3 stooges have a random adventure getting lost somewhere while taking a bus trip. Not that I understand.
 
Pote 10 introduces Mikan’s giant younger brother Yasumi. Now this guy has a grudge on Sunao because of Mikan’s fantasies writing Sunao’s name all over his underwear. I suppose it’s enough to make him mad. Because of Yasumi’s bigger size, he tends to pick on Mikan and tries to break her up with Sunao. And I think it’s because of this too that Potemayo likes him. Yeah, I suppose that’s the only thing they both have in common. However Yasumi isn’t a total ruffian because I think he too in a way has a liking for Potemayo’s chibiness, though he doesn’t show it nor pound it everytime Potemayo jumps on him. Since it’s the new school term, Yasumi is only a year younger than Mikan and has entered the same school as them. Yasumi also declares war on Sunao but the latter doesn’t seem to hate Yasumi and rationalizes his attitude and doings with some reasoning of his like he and Mikan gets along very well even though he’s bullying her. Is Sunao that nice a boy or is he just blur? Other than that, Guchuko is seen trying to figure out the cuckoo bird when she drops it from the tree and breaks it. Yeah, she makes a makeshift grave for it. Later Kyou’s mom decides to catch Guchuko by laying a trap but I think Guchuko is too smart for it. Uh huh, we see Kyou lecturing her mom about it and the entire house is covered with tape and mommy herself in bandages. A random event for the 3 stooges sees them trying to figure out the right word when taking a photo. "Cheese" sounds better anyhow, right?
 
A funny scene in Pote 11 sees Sunao bumping into Yasumi on their way to school. Due to that, Sunao drops his specs and Yasumi accidentally steps on it. Sunao is as blind as a bat and starts groping on the ground for his specs. Sunao’s search leads his hands to reach Yasumi’s legs and then… his crotch! OMG! Once Sunao gets his specs, Mikan gets close to him since he can’t see clearly but Yasumi takes her away. Then another fantasizing scene on what Heaven is like if they’re to repay Sunao. Mikan’s is like some housewife of Sunao, Yasumi imagines being his dog slave, and Potemayo… I don’t know what it means when she’s dancing around and riding a rocket into space. We still see Kirihara carrying Nene’s luggage and Kaoru having pity for him. Everyone in class notices Sunao isn’t here yet. Why, he’s lost at some sushi restaurant. The owner thinks he’s playing truant. I think he really needs to have an eye check. Meanwhile Kyou’s mom tries to use the same trap to catch Guchuko again. It failed as expected. Then at school while Guchuko is enjoying a donut from Kyou, Potemayo’s hyper activeness causes her to drop the donut. This made Guchuko blast her chibi rival with her hairpins.
 
Everyone gets invited to Nene’s large pool in her mansion in Pote 12. Now we really get to see how filthy rich she is. Though she has several butlers and maids, you’d wonder why she still wants to keep Kirihara as his slave as she still forces him to serve her. Later Nene did mention it’s more fun to order someone like that against his will. Sadist. Since Yasumi isn’t invited, he fears that Sunao may be hitting on Mikan and tries to enter Nene’s place. Since he’s too scared to ring the doorbell, he sneaks in but Nene’s security system is overwhelming and soon catches Yasumi whose escaping attempts were futile. As everybody have fun in the pool and soon gets something to eat, we still see Sunao without his specs as hopeless as ever. He can’t even see what he’s eating. Nene’s young mom then introduces herself but it seems she and Nene don’t have a good relation and this daughter doesn’t hesitate to give her mom a punch in the face! Nene has 3 older brothers with little sister fetish. They’re always annoyingly trying to want Nene to order them to do things but ever since Kirihara has become her slave, the trio are watching over him with full of jealousy. I guess it’ll be boring for Nene to order around people who’re willing to do so. Anyway the trio’s annoyance causes Nene to punch them all away. So Kirihara tries to act like he really wants to do stuff for Nene with his puppy eyes but Nene just tells him that he’s an idiot. After another round of swim, later in the evening the gang played some sparklers outside the mansion. As usual Nene’s brothers are being annoying as she punches them away. At the same time, Sunao and Mikan played some sparklers together. As for the 3 stooges, another random event as they have a hard time deciding which movie to watch.
 
Mikan and Yasumi visit their grandma in Pote 13 at the countryside. Yasumi can’t help butting in whenever their conversation is about Sunao. We also find out Mikan instantly fell in love with Sunao when she heads back to her classroom after a failed race (I think she got lost) and finds Sunao lying on his desk covered with blood. Actually Sunao fell asleep on some tomato sauce. When Sunao heaves out a weak hi, that’s when it made Mikan blushed and well, it started off from there. At the same time, Sunao, Koudai and Potemayo are visiting their mom’s grave and because Koudai is acting like a child, Sunao gives him another good bashing. Something funny happened while Sunao and Koudai are praying at the grave. Tori spots a worm in the ground and proceeds to eat it. My, it’s a really looooooooooong worm. This freaks out Potemayo as she wets her pants. As they head home, Sunao thinks of buying a souvenir for Mikan but Potemayo thinks otherwise. Meanwhile Guchuko is resting on her tree when the cicada is too noisy. She lets lose some supersonic wave, killing the cicada. I see she’s got a new skill. Yasumi and Mikan too have come home and bumps into Sunao and Potemayo in town. Since Potemayo is quite happy to see Yasumi, she jumps on his face so that giant doesn’t have time to take Mikan away from Sunao. Sunao says welcome back to her. Then a disgusting hilarious end scene which sees Koudai at home when Tori hops onto his legs. Tori then poops out that incredibly loooooooooong worm which freaks out Koudai very much. WARGH! I wonder why it isn’t digested yet. As for the 3 stooges, they tried studying but since it’s too hot, they gave up.
 
Potemayo tries to figure out her origins while staring at the fridge in Pote 14 but passes out due to hunger. This episode has more of that traditional night festival scene. But first, we see Kirihara doing some cheerleading in his female cheerleading outfit. If you think that’s weird, wait till you see him wearing female panties! Sad case. I know how you feel Kaoru. So Sunao along with Mikan, Nene and Kyou had their fun outing at the festival. Then when Potemayo wins some bouncy yoyo ball, she herself gets bounced away when she plays with it. Meanwhile Guchuko is stealing food of other people at the festival in stealth mode. She really does have a habit of slicing everything in half. In the meantime, the 3 stooges are playing some cutting-out-some-design game, but they failed because the design broke. After the festival, Sunao and Potemayo heads back to sleep. Potemayo decides to sleep next to the fridge. Sunao comes down and is gonna bring her back up but decides to just sleep with her next to it.
 
I guess Potemayo doesn’t know the meaning of saving when she gets her first 300 Yen allowance in Pote 15. Yeah, she’s dreaming about buying an expensive car and house. Sunao thinks Potemayo is ready to do some shopping on her home and after several preparation and reminders, we see Potemayo chasing after a sweet potato truck. Haih… But this episode introduces yet another new character, Tomari Seki (now this is what Rie Kugimiya normally sounds like. Hey, she voices a 2nd character here!). Tomari is seen chasing Guchuko because the latter stole some chestnuts. During the chase they bumped into Potemayo. So Tomari and Potemayo formed a somewhat alliance as they chase after Guchuko. Yeah, she’s slippery as an eel. Of all the random events the 3 stooges had, this is the best one. The trio are doing some difficult jigsaw puzzle in the park. Each time they finish, Guchuko and the trailing pack will step over it, destroying their hard work. So they have to start from scratch. After a few more such attempts, the trio are now wary and look at their surroundings for any more dangers. Then they spot it. Guchuko is heading straight for them with Tomari and Potemayo hot on their trail. Before they could stomp all over their jigsaw, one of them swiftly flips the jigsaw puzzle first. But it seems Guchuko and the rest made a turn into the bushes before they even reached the 3 stooges. Hahaha! Even though they thought ahead but they can’t blame it entirely on them, can’t they? The chase ends when Tomari and Potemayo spots Guchuko giving the chestnuts to Kyou who is looking forward to her ‘gift’. They don’t have the heart to take it back now. Later Tomari spots Guchuko on top of a roof and Tomari yells at her some advice. Guchuko then tosses a fruit she stole back at her. With that, Tomari thanks her and they part ways. Meanwhile, Sunao wonders why Potemayo is taking so long when a delivery man delivers Potemayo back at her doorstep. Good thing she has an address tag around her. Yeah, but the delivery still cost him. But the next morning, he finds that Potemayo’s purse still has some change in it because that delivery guy was doing some special service that day and had given him a discount. Meanwhile, Guchuko decides to show her gratitude to Tomari by leaving dead snakes and frogs at her doorstep. Argh!
 
Yasumi continues to bully Mikan by poking her back while brushing their teeth in Pote 16. But when Mikan turns around, he accidentally poke her breasts, earning a deserved slap across the face. I’m not really sure but Nene orders her brothers to drive and send Kirihara somewhere. Anyway Kirihara later tells Kaoru that she has to do Nene’s every bidding or else she’ll tell the whole world his embarrassing secret. That he loves Potemayo. Since it’s snowing, everybody in class watches the rest play in the snow, and not pay attention to the lesson in front. When class ends, Potemayo leaps out of the window in her happiness. She forgot that she’s on the 3rd floor and ends up in the infirmary (blood oozing out in the snow tells it all. No, it doesn’t look like a Japanese flag). Everybody gathers outside and Kyou starts a snowball fight by throwing one at Kirihara. Kirihara returns the favour and this causes Guchuko to eliminate everyone. Yeah, she took it too seriously. Everyone is covered with their blood on the snow. Kyou calms Guchuko down by saying that they’re just playing. Nene then throws 1 at Guchuko. Guchuko chases after her but Nene escapes. As Kirihara and Kaoru are cleaning up after themselves, Kirihara notices how Nene looks pretty cute while she dries her hair. Kirihara then offers his towel but Nene says she wants their warm clothes. Uh huh. The teacher spots Nene covered warmly in oversized clothes while Kirihara and Kaoru are freezing their butts out in the snow. Sunao heads back to the infirmary to check on Potemayo. Since that chibi creature is still cold, Sunao offers his chest to warm her up. But Potemayo freaks out and wets the bed. Must be having her own fantasies. Winter is really colder this season.
 
In Pote 17, Potemayo has floral prints for her shorts and is embarrassed by it. Sunao and Potemayo bumps into Mikan and as usual Potemayo goes into her snaring mode. But Potemayo is calmed down when Mikan gives her a sweater she made. Erm… arms too long. Mikan then gives Sunao a scarf. Yasumi comes by and whacks his little sister, thinking she’s seducing Sunao. Then Tomari comes by and somehow Yasumi’s hat got onto Tomari’s head. Since they’re running late for school, Mikan quickly apologizes and tells Tomari she can keep the hat before rushing off. You’ll start to notice Tomari will have a crush on Yasumi. At school, Sunao is surprised to see his dad there. Okay, another whacking when he starts fooling around. I’m not sure but Koudai mentions something about it’s mating season for Mochi Mochi and wants her to wear a chastity belt, freaking everyone out. Because of that, back home when it’s bed time, Sunao tells that since Potemayo has reached puberty, she can no longer sleep with him. Thus a saddened Potemayo has to sleep with Koudai but that father is also annoying in his sleep, rolling here and there over Potemayo, so much so she bites him. Ouch! Next morning as Mikan and Yasumi took a walk, they bump into Tomari, who’s still wearing that hat. It then dawned to them that Tomari is a girl (didn’t they know it from the start?) and looks super cute. Even her cuteness is too much for Potemayo as she once again wets herself on Sunao’s head. Sometimes leaking…
 
Kyou’s dad returns in Pote 18 and notices Guchuko. This episode mainly sees how Kyou’s dad tries to fix a tiny house for Guchuko to live in. A dog kennel? Even after completion, Guchuko still refuses to live inside and remains suspicious. Since they can’t force her, Kyou’s dad tries several ways to allay her suspicions like putting a pillow there and temporarily living in it! Other than that, the rest of the gang once again head over to Nene’s mansion for some party. This time Yasumi and Tomari are invited as well. Nene’s loser brothers are still jealous that Kirihara is still the ‘star slave’ and when they spot Yasumi, they’re horrified to think that he may be Kirihara’s next replacement. So they abuse Kirihara while Kaoru can only watch in horror. Then Nene comes up to Kaoru and says how she’ll let him take her place as Kirihara’s bride, sending that gay boy into ecstasy.
 
Tomari and her dad visits the newly opened public bath in Pote 19. Tomari mistakenly enters the men’s changing room and sees Yasumi with his shirt off. Okay, fantasies running wild. But Tomari soon snaps out in embarrassment and lands a kick in Yasumi’s face. Since Sunao can’t see without his specs, he’s groping the wrong people and bumping into walls. An annoyed Yasumi decides to just toss him into the bath. While Sunao and Yasumi are soaking in the bath, they overhead from the girl’s section how busty, smooth and silky their skin is. Actually, Tomari and Mikan are referring to Potemayo and Yasumi thinks it’s Mikan and slams his own head on the rocks. Then when Sunao and Yasumi are in the sauna together, Yasumi tells Sunao not to have any dirty thoughts of Mikan. Sunao wonders what Yasumi meant and the latter imagines a naked Mikan, causing him to suffer massive nose bleeds. Then there’s a part whereby Tomari, Mikan and Potemayo takes a dip in an electric bath. When Tomari just puts her toe in it, Tori, who is sitting on her head starts to charge and puff up. When the girls are done and decide to go buy some juice, to their horror they see Yasumi fainted outside and resting on Sunao’s lap. Remember that massive nose bleed? Tomari tries to wake Yasumi up but Yasumi accidentally falls on her and it seems it’s like he’s hugging her. Tomari once again is embarrassed and gives Yasumi another kick in the face before running back home. Meanwhile Kyou and Nene are at the bath and spots Tomari’s dad who’s looking for his daughter. The duo mistaken him for a peeping pervert.
 
Rainy season is here in Pote 20. Kyou and family thinks Guchuko will finally take shelter in her new home but are confused when she did some weird rain dance on top of it or scratching her butt on it. Meanwhile Kirihara and Kaoru are taking shelter outside a shop and Kaoru wants to stay a little longer like this. Why? Since Kirihara’s shirt is soaked, Kaoru spots Kirihara’s nipples and is ‘excitedly stunned’. Gay! Gay! Gay! So I suppose because of that, Kaoru got sick and we his family being introduced. Yeah, it runs in the family, those big ugly lips. Even the dog. But Kaoru has a sister who’s quite pretty and all but they think she’s odd. As for Potemayo, she loves the rain and strips naked to go play outside but is restrained by Sunao. Unfortunately, Koudai is bathing naked in the rain. Meanwhile Nene makes a little dog kennel (or is it a bird house) for her slave. Kirihara’s rage is once again on the rise but when he sees Nene in different clothes and her hair all tied up, his heart softens and thinks she may be cute. Yeah, you’ll see his room filled with nothing but posters of Potemayo. Too bad, Kaoru is breathing very hard and screaming Kirihara’s name in his sickbed. Can’t believe another girl to be at Kirihara’s side? At the same time, Yasumi is bringing in the laundry and accidentally touches Mikan’s bra. Because of that shock, he refrains from using his right hand, and his family notices his lameness. Back to Potemayo, Sunao eventually lets her go play in the rain after all that pestering.
 
Sunao wakes up to find a 2 leaf clover on Potemayo’s head in Pote 21. Sunao tries to pull it out but it hurts like hell, earning her wrath. Better to let it be. As the duo walk to school, they spot Guchuko too has a 3 leaf clover on her head. One better than Potemayo? Yeah, enough to make that competitive little chibi jealous. So at school, the girls are figuring out with their theories what it could be and mean. I don’t know why, they then showered Potemayo with a hose and gives her milk to drink. But that made her sick and her clover shrivel up. Another visit to the infirmary. Sunao leaves but he lands himself in the infirmary when he gets hit by a football. I’m sure it’s all part of Nene’s sick plan to embarrass and traumatise Kirihara with her sick fantasy-love narration of Kirihara and Potemayo. Later as everybody gathers for lunch, they heard talks about a better clover. Potemayo flies there in her jealousy rage to find they’re talking about Guchuko. Though Potemayo wants to challenge her, but it seems she coldly ignores Potemayo. Poor chibi. Later Potemayo brings a book and shows the gang the kind of flower that she wants to blossom into. On their way home, Mikan once again gets lost in her daydream fantasies about it becoming beautiful each day. Back home, Sunao’s thinking about the possibility of Potemayo growing up and maturing but decides to sleep over it. Next morning, Sunao finds that Potemayo now has a 3 leaf clover on her head, much to her delight. On the way to school, they spot Guchuko who has a flower blossomed on her head. Haha. Potemayo can never beat Guchuko. By the way, I kinda noticed that Potemayo’s animosity towards Mikan has lessened. Though she still snares at her, but it’s not like everytime like before.
 
I guess Potemayo too is quite fond of Tomari too. In Pote 22, the duo are at Tomari’s grandma’s corn field and I don’t know how or why, Guchuko is there too. But notice the bloomed flower on Potemayo’s head? Anyway I think Guchuko is stealing corns too and this is enough to earn the wrath of the duo. Though they try to teach her a lesson, but history tells that Guchuko always have the upper hand. Yeah, Guchuko whacked Tomari on her knee with her scythe. Ouch. I also don’t know why, the duo did some Chinese kungfu stance, probably to scare Guchuko, but she just ignored them and went off. But Guchuko remembers Kyou’s words to behave nicely. This made her to unload all her corns from her… I don’t know how much storage she has but it reminded me of Doraemon’s unlimited magic pocket. She then pulled out a snake which freaks the duo out. Among other weird things she pulled out, the snake accidentally dropped and chases a very afraid Tomari and Potemayo. Haha. Can using a twig shoo it away? But the snake crawls onto the stick. Another horror to behold. Because of the ruckus, Guchuko uses her supersonic wave to knock all of them out. Even a passing eagle. When they come to, they gave Guchuko some corns and soon the snake continues to harass the duo. Sunao soon arrives to pick up Potemayo and had a little chat with Tomari. Tomari notices Potemayo’s flower growing a little bigger. Guchuko is back at Kyou’s house and Kyou is thanking her for the corns, making the little blob blush. Her flower too grows a little bigger. Tomari on the other hand is daydreaming about Yasumi and decides to go give him some corn. But that guy upon receiving the corn, puts it up for sale, pissing her off. Yasumi didn’t get to sell it and instead eat it with Mikan for dinner.
 
Pote 23 is mainly about Sunao’s flashback when he was young and his late mom, Miku (voiced by Kikuko Inoue who is famous as her Belldandy role in Aa! Megamisama. In this anime she’s also the voice as the narrator), was still around. Up till now I still don’t know what Koudai’s real job is except he’s travelling all over the world. Even Sunao isn’t sure. But it was sure funny when Miku was pointing to a cliff where Koudai was climbing. Koudai then falls off. Several vultures then quickly swarm to where he had fallen. Hehe. Miku must be real freaked out. Back to the present, Sunao and Potemayo are praying to Miku at their home’s shrine. After school as the gang heads out, they spot Koudai waiting outside the gates. Koudai is holding a doll thingy and when Mikan gets hold of it, she freaks out upon finding out that it’s a penis cover. Hahaha! Sunao isn’t amused and walks away but Koudai is persistent in annoying him as he tries to talk to his son. Sunao continues to be cold towards him. This causes Mikan to get a little mad and scolds him about being rude to his dad! Everybody is shocked to see Mikan to that. Including the 3 stooges. When Mikan realized what she had done and runs away. Yasumi went up to Sunao and slaps him before going after Mikan. Sunao also realized things. Back at home, he apologized to his dad and the duo chatted away. Meanwhile, Mikan is sitting dejectedly in the bathtub and wonders how she’ll face Sunao tomorrow. Urm… Why is Yasumi stacking things on her head? Has he got no shame that he’s in the same bathroom with a naked girl?! Because there’s no response, Yasumi angrily eats a candy and his mom comes in mad and tells him to be either angry, sad or whatever. As long as he don’t do it all at a time. That night, Koudai slept with Sunao and Potemayo. But since he’s back to his irritating ways, Sunao punches him but remembers Mikan’s words and soon apologizes a bloodied Koudai.
 
Pote 24 is yet another flashback on Sunao’s childhood. We see him living on some island in the Pacific and he has befriended a native called Morio, who is learning Japanese as well. I like the funny part when Morio suggested playing sumo with him and to only use half his power. But I guess he’s still too powerful and knocks Sunao over the cliff and into the ocean. We also learn that Miku is having some sort of illness and spends most of her time in bed. Miku tries to be positive for her son and she did mention that the best place for her is Japan. Morio and Sunao together learn how to write Japanese and Sunao manages to write a letter for his mom which warms her heart. Soon, Sunao and Miku are transferred off the island as Koudai and Morio stayed back for work. In time, Miku’s illness worsened and she passed away as a result. Though not mentioned, but I think the main reason why Sunao hates his dad is because he turned up late (or didn’t at all and even so, when it’s over) for Miku’s funeral. We see Sunao just walking away from Koudai coldly without saying a word. Back in the present, it seems both father and son had the same dream of the past but Sunao gives Koudai his usual beating when the latter mentions what embarrassing dream his son might have. Also Potemayo’s flower has blossomed even further. At Mikan’s place, she’s still pondering what to say to Sunao and I don’t know why Yasumi is wearing a school girl’s uniform.
 
On the way to school, Mikan’s Zoom is activated (yes, that’s what it’s called when she spots Sunao from afar). Mikan apologizes profusely but Yasumi just take her hand and walk away. Suddenly Potemayo is in some sort of trance. Meanwhile Kyou has just woken up to find Guchuko in her house. But Guchuko too goes in some trance. Both blobs start grunting uncomfortably and float in the air as their flower opens up. Their flowers burst and petals are seen floating everywhere. As they fall, Sunao catches Potemayo while Kyou gets hold of Guchuko and hugs them close. They are saddened and don’t like what’s happening. Mikan then hugs Sunao even though Yasumi is against it but he just let this one off the hook. Sunao thanks Mikan for always looking out for him. But their gloominess is lifted when Potemayo opened her eyes. The next scene shows the whole gang at Sunao’s house and for once Kirihara gets close to Potemayo without her snaring at him. Yeah, Potemayo, Kirihara and Kaoru are singing and dancing to that bread ad song. Everyone else parties on while Sunao and Mikan chats together in the kitchen. When it’s done, Sunao spots a seed on the floor but throws it into the garbage. The next morning, Sunao wakes up to find a strange new chibi (and uglier) creature on him. He asks Potemayo what is it and go talk to it. When Potemayo approaches it, it bites her head. New rivalry? In school, everyone is fawning over the new blob when Kyou comes in with a new chibi creature in her arms too! Looks more shy and gentle (reminds me of Mint from Galaxy Angel). Even with 2 new chibi creatures in the end, Potemayo still loses to them. And yeah. Potemayo is still snaring at Mikan when she got to close to Sunao and they both smiled back at each other. So I’m thinking if that trance-like event was some sort of a mating season, do such creatures that come out from the fridge originates from a seed. Well, better than from an egg. If it’s not a chicken, is it a potato?
 
But it’s not totally over yet. There are 6 special episodes lasting only around 10 minutes for those who can’t get enough of those chibi cuteness. Each episode is more random than the tv series and I think can stand alone by itself with no relevance to what has happened there. However, I find that Guchuko, Kyou, Nene, Tomari, Kirihara and Kaoru aren’t featured prominently and even so, just for a short while. Potemayo Special 1 is about Sunao one morning, finds a giant sized Potemayo sleeping on him. How did she get that big? Dunno. Yeah, she’s totally naked too. Because Potemayo is too big, Sunao can’t bring her anywhere or else other people will freak out and tells her to stay home. But that sad Potemayo wants to follow him around but literally got stuck at the front door. Sunao passes Mikan’s store and Mikan is flustered when Sunao looks at her ‘that way’. But what Sunao actually wanted to ask is "How do you turn something big back to normal?". Yasumi thinks Sunao is meaning something ecchi and tells him to ‘ejaculate’. Have we seen that elephant censor from Inukami before? Back home, Sunao thinks that Potemayo this big has its advantages too like able to sleep on her lap as a pillow. But the next morning, Sunao wakes up to find Potemayo back to normal. How? Dunno also. But we see that there are multiple clones of naked Potemayo in their house.
 
Potemayo Special 2 sees Sunao in a depressed mood. Because so, Mikan gets gloomy as well. So Mikan tries to talk to Sunao on the way home but Yasumi is watching them from behind and whacks Mikan head for getting too close. In class, everyone ponders what’s wrong with him. Not even Potemayo knows what’s going on. Then Mikan decides to hand him a bread for lunch. When Sunao takes a bite, he felt a sharp pain in his mouth. This knocks him off balance and he falls into Mikan’s arms. Mikan in flustering mode again. Okay, we soon see a tiny bug who dresses like a pirate. She tries to eat Sunao’s sandwich but Tori gulped down the whole thing. We learn that Sunao’s depression was due to the pain in his mouth and he didn’t say a word so as not to go to the dentist. How did it all happen? That morning while drinking milk, he spots a black tiny thing in it (supposedly that bug) but shrugs it off without thinking much and downs it all. Yeah, that isn’t normal. While Sunao’s back to his normal self and apologizes to Potemayo for being cold. And Mikan hasn’t recovered from her shock yet. She’s got lots of blood, you know… Back home, Koudai teases Sunao for being a kid and not admit his tooth hurt but Sunao says that he shouldn’t be saying that because Koudai’s mouth is real swollen. Meanwhile Tori poops out the food it just ate, we see that pirate bug emerging from the poop (why isn’t she digested?) proclaiming revenge and world domination bla bla bla. Is this a start of a new revolution? A dog walks by stepping and crushing her in an instant. There goes a short-lived ambition.
 
Potemayo Special 3 sees an office worker woman, Inuyama, shopping at a convenience store to find Potemayo gesturing her. Of course she freaks out at first sight as she wonders what kind of animal is that. Furthermore, Inuyama has a history of not being good with animals, like being chased by dogs and other creatures. So this is kinda traumatic, isn’t it? But Potemayo is too short and wants Inuyama to help pick a chocolate bar for her. Inuyama does so and Potemayo is happy, waves goodbye and leaves. Once Inuyama leaves the store, she finds Potemayo being confronted with a cat and that cat steals her chocolate. Do cats eat chocolate? This soon becomes a nightly routine for them. Yeah, the cat steals Potemayo’s underwear in addition to her chocolate. Soon Inuyama has a reason to come to the store, to buy food for Potemayo and keep it company. Looks like she’s growing fond of Potemayo. But 1 night, Potemayo didn’t turn up even though Inuyama waited. She couldn’t wait no more and started to go home. Even the next night, Potemayo isn’t around. She wonders what could’ve happened to her. At the counter, to her surprise, the cashier starts to ask her if they could have dinner together. She agrees. Soon the 2 start dating. Later we find out that Potemayo was actually sneaking out at night to snack at the convenience store. Since she’s gotten a little too heavy, Sunao doesn’t allow her to sit on his head and forbids her to go to the store. Potemayo’s feeling sad that she’ll miss all those tasty treats. But in a way, don’t you think Potemayo’s midnight rendezvous is like a setting up for Inuyama and that store’s cashier? Yeah, a cupid in disguise, I’d say.
 
Potemayo Special 4 has Potemayo going her solo shopping again. Not to mention chasing that sweet potato truck again. On the way, she enters a PomPom Burger restaurant and meets a low self-esteem waitress. The shy waitress offers set by set in which Potemayo seems to agree to everything. Heck, there’s even a potemayo salad on the menu! Soon this attracts everyone’s attention as they start ordering. Because of that the waitress gets her self confidence and more people come to the store. Potemayo another saviour in disguise? Next day at school, Mikan notices Sunao eating PomPom burgers. Yeah, he had them last night too and will be having them for quite a while. As Mikan fantasizes about Sunao eating her bento, Guchuko comes by and snatches it away.
 
Potemayo Special 5 has more screen time for the other casts. It seems the school festival is near and Sunao’s class is all-fired up. Kirihara in his usual cheerleading outfit goes next class to spy on the class rep’s orders with Kaoru happily with a camera in hand. Kyou is doing some cooking when the 3 stooges and the class rep assistant, Yoshino, comes by to taste. Seems good but is Kyou hiding the fact that she used grasshoppers as ingredients? Guchuko steals and eats some hot dogs which prompts Yoshino to say Kyou owe them 630 Yen. Meanwhile Potemayo is horribly designing their class billboard (won 1st place as said by narrator?) and Sunao also did a similarly horrible job (won 2nd place too?). Yasumi is practising some lines from his play. Then Yoshino finds dead snakes and rats in her shoe locker. Typical Guchuko repayment, but this won’t cut it as she says Kyou still owe that amount. Later in the evening, their teacher offers to take them to the bath house as reward but you know Nene’s busybody brothers, right? So they have to go to Nene’s place instead. There, we see a boy who is fantasizing about Kyou but Nene’s brothers think he’s thinking something perverted on Nene. When he says that it’s another girl, they can’t believe he could think about any other girl besides Nene. Haih… After a relaxing bath, the gang heads back to school at night to finish the preparations.
 
The school festival starts in Potemayo Special 6. Sunao’s class is doing a cafe called Cafe Potechu. Their class rival is totally upset that it was just a normal cafe. But class rep tells him that they have a secret weapon. Why, it’s Potemayo in a maid outfit! Kawaii! She keeps tripping, though. But everybody loves it. Not only that. They have a second weapon too. Guchuko in a maid outfit! Kawaii! Since Guchuko is tasting the food she serves, Yoshino charges her 10 Yen while Potemayo is penalized 240 Yen for her tripping. As Guchuko cuts a customer’s straw, the rival class rep has said his umpteenth time how unfair all this is when Nene’s irritating 3 brothers knocks him away and makes their unruly entrance for Nene. As usual they’re being noisy and showing their unwavering support for Nene in a butler outfit. The last straw came when Nene is serving a customer only to be interrupted by the trio saying how cruel the customer to let Nene carry such stuff and dumps the order on the table. Nene gives them a good knock out punch. Meanwhile Tomari is on her way to the school festival and is hoping to catch Yasumi’s play. But when she reaches there, 2 guys mistaken her to be a boy so to make it up, they let her play a game. Tomari hits the target and wins tickets which allows her to enjoy free things at the festival. She’s really having a blast and enjoying herself.
 
A group of girls who are fans of Kyou are in estacy when Kyou allows them to take a photo of her in her butler outfit. I think Nene tries to poke fire with Guchuko when she tells her how she’s popular with the girls. But I don’t see Guchuko getting jealous or upset. Later as Potemayo and Guchuko are serving, they bumped into each other. Guchuko’s hairpin steals some food from Potemayo’s and in retaliation, Tori steals some from Guchuko. So they challenged each other by eating as much as they could. Yoshino charges them 840 Yen. Then a couple of boys wanted to visit the cafe because they think there are cute girls there but to their horror are being greeted by Kaoru in a lady outfit! Horrible! He grabs them in and they think this is all a scam. Since it’s the girls turn to take a break, the guys are now doing a cross-dressing cafe. Yasumi then passes by and gets snatched in too. Thing is, all the girl customers are crazy over Kaoru and taking pics with their handphones! Those boys must be thinking how they don’t understand girls. Then Sunao comes by in a maid outfit, trips and spills food on Yasumi’s table because he is without his specs. Then those guys think how cute he is and starts taking pics of it with their handphones. Now they’re just as weird. Potemayo is happy to see Yasumi and jumps on Sunao’s head, resulting him to fall over Yasumi. I think all the girls are yaoi crazy fans as they go wild over it, taking more pics. So when Mikan and the girls come back, Mikan gets a shock of her life to see Sunao on top of Yasumi! Kirihara (in his usual cheerleading outfit) then yells what the hell is he doing and decides to put an underskirt. With that, the girls go even wilder and take even more pics. I think Kaoru is taking pics of Kirihara… By the end of the day, Tomari goes home to show her family a goldfish she won but realizes she missed Yasumi’s play. The school is announcing the general popularity poll and it seems Sunao’s class won 1st place. Everybody rejoices. But that rival class rep is a total sore loser. Give it up, pal. In order to celebrate, Kyou tells the 3 stooges to prepare the ingredients but they told her that there is nothing left. It seems Potemayo and Guchuko has ate them all and are really bloated. Yoshino charges them the final bill, it has bloated up to 4000 Yen. Don’t ever organize and all-you-can-eat-buffet for these 2. It’ll be a losing business.
 
Overall, I think that this anime is just okay. I mean, the jokes and comedies are quite silly and enough to me laugh, but I feel that there are some elements which aren’t suitable for younger audiences. Like from those urinal jokes, bloody and slashing violence to little ecchi stuffs. The drawing, animation and art seems simple and the colouring feels ‘light’. So don’t watch this anime with high hopes for the art. Not that it’s horrible but I suppose it’s just suffice for a no-brainer anime. Just like the characters themselves. ‘Crazy and unique’ in a way. Poor Kirihara. Still Nene’s slave till the end. And even if Mikan didn’t get to say her true feelings, I think it’s better for them to stay this way. I kinda notice that the boy’s school uniform is quite close to a girl’s. So at first I thought all the characters were girls!
 
Both the opening and ending theme songs don’t really appeal to me. Katamichi Catchball by MOSAIC.WAV (yes, it’s the name of the band and not a filename) sounds fitting enough as an opener for a crazy show and the animation starts off with Potemayo doing some weird butt shaking dance. The end theme, Utatene by Chata is slower and more relaxed. There are several background music for this anime. Some of them are slow and easy acoustics while others have that fun feel. Yeah, I saw that the series’ album contains over 50 soundtracks!
 
In the end, I myself isn’t really sure what those chibi creatures are. The things they do and effects seem to defy logic and science. Perhaps I shouldn’t think so much. And I don’t particularly go swooning over them because I just think that they’re annoyingly cute. Fullstop. Nothing more than that. That’s not a compliment. But I guess without them, life wouldn’t be fun, won’t it? Or would it? I definitely don’t want to have one. Not even a Pokemon or a Digimon.
 
Potemayo

DAME!

May 9, 2008

  Machi chuu doko demo uso bakari,
  Hayku nen mae kara shouchi da yo,
  Ima sara aki kankeru kurai,
  Dare demo dekiru
 
Fans of the series Rurouni Kenshin AKA Samurai X should’ve recognize those opening lines as the 1st verse for the 7th ending theme song of the anime, DAME! Since this is quite a heavy rock song, at times I feel that it doesn’t suit the feudal era of the series. But because of all the action in it, sometimes it does feel quite suitable.
 
  Ai wa nagusame no,
  Dougu nanka nai n da shi
 
Sung by You Izumi, just like the powerful song itself, one needs to have a powerful voice in order to sing it. Yeah, get prepare to scream and shout from the top of your lungs. Actually, there isn’t any screaming nor shouting in the sense that you have to go wild and crazy while belting out this song. Probably because of the loud voice needed, it may sound like so at first.
 
  Dame dame dame de dame na hito ne,
  Ittai nani wo yatteru no,
  Un ja nai tsuki ja nai,
  Motto jitsu ryoku misete
 
When I sing this song, at first it started out great and perfect so much so I think I really do sound very close to the singer herself (yeah right). As the song progresses and the more ‘energy’ I need to sing it, towards the end of the song, I kinda notice that I’m close to being out of breath and it’s like I’m struggling to even say my lines. Especially the bridge part, where I totally need to use up my lung power for those powerful lines but even so, due to my lack of breath, I went slightly out of tune. Till today, I’m still having that problems. Maybe I need bigger lungs.
 
  Dame dame dame ne onna wa mou,
  Sonna otoko ja kanji nai,
  Itsudatte kurakura toki sou na hodo,
  Otoko ni natte choudai
 
Even the chorus wasn’t kind to my voice, especially the last few lines. Okay, so perhaps this part I need to do a little shouting to get it right. In a way, the last few lines of the chorus sounded like it went to a little higher pitch, but in all that shouting it flew past by me and I wouldn’t notice a thing if I didn’t do some post-singing analysis.
 
  Dame dame dame de dame na hito ne,
  Ittai nani wo yatteru no,
  Kono tsugi wa tsuyoi toko,
  Motto kicchiri misete
 
The lyrics of the song sound like as though the singer herself is taking out her frustrations on her ‘useless’ lover (assuming that’s who she’s referring to). Yeah, since ‘dame’ means no in Japanese, it could also means an incapable person, hence a useless person. On the other hand instead of just paying lip service and criticizing, the lyrics also has the singer telling what her love should at least do. Yeah, you should show her how strong you are buddy. Not in physical terms but more on the maturity and emotional level. Isn’t that what most girls look for?
 
  Dame dame dame ne onna wa mou,
  Sonna otoko ja horenai yo,
  Itsudatte kurakura toki sou na hodo,
  Otoko ni natte choudai
 
Perhaps I need to persevere and practice even harder. There’s a danger that I may lose my voice first. Even though at the back of my head I knew that this song isn’t that suitable for my voice, but what to do. I really kinda like this song when I first heard it years ago and I still do. Hopefully all that screaming and shouting will one day bear some fruit… Hopefully.
 
Rurouni Kenshin

Hitohira

May 3, 2008

Even though Hitohira isn’t considered a mainstream anime when it was released last year in Japan, I made it a point to watch it after I read the sypnosis of the series. In a way, I could say that the main protagonist’s character is somewhat similar to mine. Yeah, I thought it would be a good reflection for me and a way to improve myself.
 
See, the main character, Mugi Asai, is a shy and very soft spoken girl. Coupled in with her low self-esteem and "Impossible, I can’t do it" attitude, it would be quite interesting to see how she pulls through. Another thing about Mugi is that whenever she becomes nervous, she loses her voice! Yeah, she gets her tongue tied. Otherwise, her voice is a really amazing and unique one. So how does this all seem similar to me? I have to admit that I have stage fright and fear of public speaking. Can’t seem to get the right words out. Enough said.
 
In this comedy-cum-drama, the 12 episode anime is adapted from the manga of the same name. Though the anime has already ended, the manga hasn’t yet and has been serialized in a Japanese seinen manga magazine, Comic High! There are quite a number of drama moments here and so for those who can’t stand drama plays like Shakespeare (not to say there is one here), then you may find this series somewhat boring. Plus, I think it’s quite fitting to have some drama parts since the series revolves around the drama club.
 
As seen in episode 1, Mugi and her best friend, Kayo Touyama (a photographer wannabe. Always seen holding her camera), has successfully gained admittance to their preferred high school. Because of that, Mugi lets out a loud burst of exuberant cheer. Yatta!!! I guess her voice was loud enough to attract the attention of 3rd year students, Nono Ichinose, Risaki Nishida and Takashi Katsuragi, whom are watching from above the school rooftop. These trio are members of the Drama Research Club. One thing I need to mention about Nono is her cool personality. On the outside, she may look calm and stoic, but at times she can be real scary when intimidated. So you don’t want to mess with this girl. I also want to mention that the school is located somewhere near a wide river and there’s that picturesque view of a large bridge which kinda reminds me of the one in San Fransisco.
 
Mugi’s first day at school doesn’t seem to go smoothly either. Upon introducing herself, she accidentally bumps her head on her other classmate, Kai Nishida, who is Risaki’s little brother. Yeah, because of that embarrassing nerve wrecking moment, she losses her voice again. All this seems all too familiar. Mugi is indecisive of which club to join and in a way bumps into Nono and her pals on the stairways. I guess that saves them from finding her. It may look like Nono’s trying to brainwash Mugi with her suave words to join her club. But because Mugi’s mind is confused and all, she just left.
 
At the same time, another 1st year student, Chitose Kanna, decides to go watch a play by the Drama Club. She gets emotionally convinced, touched, moved by the Drama Club president, Mirei Sakaki’s performance. Before you know it, Chitose passionately decides to join this club. Also, Risaki is ‘persuading’ her little brother to join Nono’s club. Erm… I don’t think that’s persuasive. More like forcing. Kai of course don’t want to be part of her crazy sister’s schemes and tries to escape. Do you think he’s successful? Not. Why is Risaki doing so? You see, the school has a rule that requires a minimum of 5 members for a club to be formed or else it will be disbanded. So if they’ve got 4 already, guess who’ll be the 5th one?
 
Eventually, Nono comes to Mugi’s class and some might say Nono did put on a little pressure on Mugi’s confused mind. But I find that Nono is rather a smooth and calm talker. Yeah, to cut things short, because of that, Mugi accidentally (I’m not sure if she’s totally aware of what she’s doing at that time) signs up for the Drama Research Club. Oh dear. What has she done. She must be thinking the troubles that she has gotten herself into. Though Mugi is unsure where this will lead her, but Nono did mention that she will turn Mugi into a different person. After all, when actors and actresses go on stage, they become somebody else, right? But isn’t ironic, to have a drama or play member who can’t speak properly on stage, what more in front of hundreds of audiences.
 
In episode 2, the 5 member Drama Research Club has their first meeting together. Well, the room is a bit small but I guess it’s better than nothing. To Mugi’s horror, their club is organizing a play soon and Mugi is their lead actress. Can she handle the pressure? Also, Mugi meets Chitose and you could say the duo form a friendship when Mugi’s clothes got whet and Chitose borrowed her P.E. clothes to her. I’m not sure but I think it’s here that Chitose nicknames Mugi, Mugi-choco and Kayo nicknames Chitose, Orinal. Uh huh. The clothes Mugi was wearing has Chitose’s name and Kayo thinks she’s somebody else for that day. Since Mugi is too shy to speak up, probably that’s where the misunderstanding and nickname arised.
 
If you notice that this school has actually 2 drama clubs. The original Drama Club led by Sakaki while the newly formed Drama Research Club by Nono. Noticed the different names? But I’m still wondering why the word ‘research’ is used. I don’t see them doing any research at all. Anyway, there seems to be some sort of past feud between those 2 iron ladies and in a way led to Nono to this club’s formation. All this will be explained as the series progresses. But another development in this episode is that Chitose falling for Katsuragi. Hehehehe. She just go gaga over him. Not to say Katsuragi is oblivious, more like he’s got himself under control. I wonder why Chitose didn’t just quit her Drama Club and join Nono’s. Ah, something in the previous episode about devoting her life and such to Sakaki’s club. Something like that. Can’t go back on her words now. By the way, besides Sakaki, I find that the other Drama Club members don’t feature too prominently.
 
Because of Chitose’s infatuation with Katsuragi, you can always see her hanging around the Drama Research Club. I guess Nono just ignores her and let her be. Better not let Sakaki find out. Oops, too late. Also, the Drama Research Club are doing some exercise on the rooftop. I still find it funny that the sentence they use as some warming up exercise. I’m sure there’s something to it but since I’ve never done it before, it sounds kinda weird. A-E-I-O-U… Joining the quartet on the roof is Kayo and Chitose (who else). Mugi is once again tongue tied while rehearsing her lines. Because of that, Chitose decides to ‘help’ Mugi. She tells Kai to restrain Mugi while she herself tickles her abdomens. Soon Mugi can’t stand it and lets out a loud powerful burst "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!". Everybody hears first hand Mugi’s great voice. Something about how Mugi uses her abdominal breathing to project her superb voice. Chitose smiles and walks away, saying that Mugi is now her greatest destined rival and that she too can’t lose. I guess Nono’s pretty happy with the progress too.
 
The Drama Research Club does their first play in episode 3. Mugi is scared stiff so much so she looks herself in the toilet cubicle. Even Kayo’s persuasion doesn’t seem to help. Not until Nono comes by and tell some toilet ghost story which makes Mugi rushing out in fear. Haha. That girl really has a way with words. In order to get people to watch their play, the gang are distributing flyers. Okay, so they need to put on some side show too like Kai’s acrobatic skills and Katsuragi’s tongue twisting talents. Of course, Sakaki’s there and though you won’t see any cat fight, but I guess those fire auras are enough to tell you that they don’t like each other and bring-it-on attitude. If you’re wondering why Katsuragi suddenly felt a needle pain in his heart, it’s because Chitose has complete sewing a chibi doll version of him. That girl…
 
In this episode, Mugi also finds out that Nono is suffering from a vocal cord paralysis. I’m not really sure but if Nono over exerts using her voice, she’ll definitely lose it. That’s dangerous. Especially for one who is aspiring to be an actress. A voice is surely an important asset. No wonder Nono sounds like that. And I thought it was her character. Well, partly so. Nono even confirmed this herself when Mugi went to ask her. Though Mugi’s appearance and lines aren’t that much and are only at the end, Nono’s reassuring words gave Mugi the self confidence she needed to pull it off. And Mugi does it splendidly, surprising everyone including Sakaki, whereas Chitose and Kayo are darn happy. Hey, I kinda noticed something. Though the theatre isn’t filled to the brim (more like just a handful of attendees), those who attended the play are sleeping! Makes you wonder why they’re here for in the first place. Bored? After the play, the gang did some celebration to celebrate their play’s success and I think Mugi’s progress. While everybody’s supportive words boosts Mugi’s morale even further, Mugi acidentally spilled her cup on her skirt, ruining her dress. Because of that, she’s back to her ol’ self again. Lost for words. Chitose then did something cheeky by trying to poke Mugi’s abdomens with a stick. Yeah, Risaki wants in too. But I’m glad Mugi’s here to stay.
 
Though Mugi and Kai failed their exams in episode 4, Nono has her club members undergo some more tough training. I guess the training’s too tough and Mugi decides to escape when she gets her first chance. Not on Nono’s watch. Of course Mugi has that idea and wonders if she’ll turn into a delinquent if she skip club activities. I think with that personality of hers, it’s very unlikely. Later Nono and Sakaki has another confrontation, in which Nono made a bet with her entire club funds that each of her members will get a top 50 placing in the coming exams. Uh oh. Not only they have to go through tough play practices but this as well?
 
Due to this, the gang forms a study group and heads over to Risaki and Kai’s home to do so. This is the funny part. Katsuragi did mention how Nono’s words are absolute and that they all must follow it. I guess such statement made Nono happy as she tells Katsuragi to sit on air. Haha. Now he has to eat his words. Her words are absolute, right? Because Risaki made some comments too, Nono orders her to sit on air too. Hehe. During this study group, Mugi learns a little about Nono’s past with the Drama Club. Later as Nono, Mugi and Katsuragi walk home, some talk about Nono’s condition and a hint that Katsuragi may have some feelings for Nono.
 
After the exams, it seems Nono has increased the wager to top 30. Then the exam results are out. Risaki fearing the worse that they’ve lost the bet, tears down the result sheet and tells Kai to make a run for it. Now we see Nono’s scary transformation. Her eyes are glowing red like Terminator! And that deadly aura of hers! Better run for your lives you 2. Nono’s unstoppable and on a rampage. While Risaki is hiding underneath a desk, Nono feints her vocal conditions, which causes Risaki to be alarmed. Such tactic to draw out one’s opponent can only be used by such a person. Yup, Risaki’s caught and soon Kai. Katsuragi thinks they’re dead meat and even does some dead prayers for them! Though in the end, we don’t know the placing they got nor what happened to the bet, Nono tells the gang that they’re gonna have more training this summer. But it seems Nono’s condition is worsening as the doctor tells her.
 
Summer is here and the whole Drama Research Club goes off to a summer training camp near the beach in episode 5. Chitose is devastated to learn about this because her beloved Katsuragi will be far away. So this is what she’s trying to do. In her last ditch attempt, Chitose tries to squeeze herself into Mugi’s bag! Desparate case! I think only her head fits though. Too bad, Sakaki spots her and brings that love-stricken girl away. Bye bye. Chitose complains that her Drama Club training is boring because they don’t get to go to the beach like Nono’s. What’s that again Chitose? Oh, nothing. Hehe.
 
But it isn’t all fun at the camp as Nono enforces some harsh training on them. Since time is scarce, training starts upon their arrival. But I think the rest wants to have some fun first and maybe Nono gives in a little. Funny thing to see when the gang except Nono is going to play in the water, Risaki quips that Nono may be afraid of the water. Though Nono doesn’t show it, but I think she’s mad and starts swimming out to who knows where. People, please don’t piss others off like that even if it’s a joke. Later back in the hut, Mugi finds out that Nono has written a play called Hitohira when she handed everyone their scripts and that Mugi is the lead actress. This play for the upcoming school cultural festival is essential because both the drama clubs have made a bet that the loser club will be disbanded. Gasp! It’s like David taking on Goliath. Can the 5 piece band do it? Anyway, the play is about a pessimistic girl (Mugi) who has lost her love (Kai) and is on the verge of commiting suicide. But then 3 fairies appear before her (Nono, Risaki and Katsuragi) to give her some advice and regain her confidence back again. Mugi is once again devastated to play the lead role and pleads that she doesn’t want to play this tough role. Well, like it or not, Mugi has no choice (Nono’s words are absolute, remember?) as they start practising. Katsuragi then wants to have a word with Nono outside. I wouldn’t have guessed that that guy asks Nono out on a date (even if it was a joke), in which she instantly rejects. He tells Nono to try not to pressure Mugi too much. They then resume their practice but Mugi once again says how she can’t do this.
 
This causes Nono to tell Mugi off and go back to being a useless person. An emotional Mugi agrees and runs away in tears. Risaki tells Kai to go after her. Risaki is upset with Nono’s harshness (b*tchiness) on Mugi and before you know it, the 2 girls starts trading fists. Not the best of fighting scenes, but Nono seems to play a little dirty as well and has a few tricks up her sleeve even if Risaki has reach advantage. Katsuragi tries to cool them both down but it’s double K.O. as the duo lose due to exhaustion. Yeah, the whole place is in a mess. Meanwhile Mugi is still crying but tripped while running. It’s really disheartening to see her like this. She’s wondering why all of this is happening to her. Kai has caught up to her and after a few talk, Mugi has calmed down as they walk back hand in hand. Though they both don’t realize it, but I think Katsuragi does. Ah, youth… As for Nono and Risaki, let sleeping dogs/cats lie.
 
The summer camp continues in episode 6. Though the tension between Risaki and Nono is still there, but it’s a little better than last night. Mugi is back with the gang though she still hasn’t decide whether to continue with the club or not. Here, we see a little flashback on Nono and Sakaki. Back when the duo were freshemen, it seems like they were close friends and it was Sakaki who recommended her into the world of acting. So what went wrong down the road? Anyway Mugi thinks very hard about it and the times when Nono helped her with her words. Finally Mugi decides to continue with the play which makes everyone glad. So what else is there to do? Continue with the practice lah. We get a little fanservice when the girls take a dip in the hotspring. Mugi scrubbing Nono’s back as an apology? And Risaki just for the fun of it? Oh well, at least the girls are back on good terms. That night, the gang had some fireworks and it seems Nono became ‘drunk’ after drinking a drink that shouldn’t have. Wild and dangerous. Nono’s gonna light the fireworks at Katsuragi and Risaki! Run for your lives! Too late. Nono soon collapses at Mugi’s lap while she and Kai were playing some sparklers. Soon they return from their camp stint and Chitose is pretty much happy to see the gang back. Kayo also notices Mugi to be much more livelier and thinks something may have happened between Mugi and Kai. Of course the duo blushingly denies it all. I’m not sure why, but when Chitose asks Mugi did Katsuragi say anything about her, Mugi told a white lie that Katsuragi said Chitose was cute, sending that girl into ecstasy. Maybe it’s part of the effects of the camp. Has she turned into a better actress or a liar? Just kidding.
 
Because Mugi is improving, Chitose is now determined to do her best and not lose to her in episode 7. Yeah, Chitose’s even begging on the stairways to Sakaki to coach her strictly. Embarrassing or what? Besides, a poster of Mugi as the main actress is already up. But this episode focuses more on the flashback between Nono and Sakaki. It all began when Risaki took a dark curtain from the Drama Club’s storeroom. Her action enrages Nono because she thinks she doesn’t need anything from her nemesis club. Yeah, Nono nearly whacked Risaki with a chair. Before that it was funny to see Katsuragi trying to advice Nono on things. But when Risaki asks why the club captain is chit chatting, Nono replies and does an innocent act that Katsuragi was sexually harrassing her. Haha. So Nono goes to return it back to the storeroom. Since the storeroom is awfully far away from the main area, many students don’t really go there. At the same time, Sakaki heads over to the storeroom and spends several minutes trying to open the door, only to realize that she was an ass because the door was unlocked in the first place. Duh. However, once Sakaki enters the room, she sense something different. And her instincts tell her that it’s Nono’s presence. Damn right she is. She’s hiding there and Sakaki tells her to show herself. After exchanging some catty remarks the duo started some ‘sword’ duel with some kind of paper rod. Coupled in with a string strange coincidences, the duo find themselves locked together in the storeroom. It’s like putting a cat and a dog together. Since this area students rarely passes by, help isn’t gonna arrive any time soon.
 
Nono tries to shout for help but Sakaki is against it since she knows her condition. Then suddenly to Sakaki’s horror, Nono has lost her voice! Thus Nono communicates by writing in her notebook. What better way than to reminisce the good ol’ days. Flashback time. We all know that Sakaki introduced Nono to the acting world. Before that, Nono was quite down and gloomy (not to mention she had long hair) until Sakaki showed her the ‘light’. Since then the 2 became buddies as they share the ups and downs of acting. Soon an important play is coming up and Sakaki gets to know of Nono’s vocal cord paralysis. Sakaki refuses and forbids to let Nono go on stage as the main actress. At least until her condition is cured. But Nono is defiant and still wants to go ahead even when the risk is there. In the end after all that bickering, Nono quits the club. After her close buddies Katsuragi and Risaki found out, they too decide to follow Nono because they believed in her. Maybe that’s where her cold personality came in. Soon after, she forms her own club with the other 2. It’s quite ironic to see Sakaki getting all emotional and crying because she’s blaming herself for Nono’s condition whereas Nono herself is as cool as a cat. In the end, the 2 girls manage to reconcile as they emotionally (more on Sakaki) hug each other when Nono wrote how she still viewed Sakaki as her friend. On the other hand, Mugi who went in search for Nono has been hearing the whole sob story all the while and understands better but her presence is soon spotted. Mugi then rushes off to get help. I’m sure Sakaki still has her pride and shrugs off that touching moment. Let it be a secret between those 2. The next day, it seems Nono has got her voice back after a good night’s rest. Though everyone is relieved, I think that Nono losing her voice back then was just a ploy and faking it, don’t you think?
 
The school cultural festival is here in episode 8. The Drama Research Club members have to do their class festivals first. Like Mugi’s maid cafe. Hmm… She looks kinda cute. While Risaki and Nono’s are in some sort of a weird costume dango for theirs. Risaki as a witch and Nono in a… cat costume? When Katsuragi asks Nono about it, Nono responded with her neko punch. "Neko puuunch!". Haha, so funny. Once done, they get to see the Drama Club in action. With Sakaki and Chitose as the main lead, you could say the play was splendid. Soon it’ll be Nono and co’s turn. Can they do it? Another one of those fiery fire aura when Nono and Sakaki confronted each other. During the play, Mugi is nervous once again and this causes her to fumble her lines. Oh great. At such a crucial time. Just then, the rest notices that Nono may have lose her voice when she didn’t say her lines. Plus, Nono went up to Mugi and gives her a slap! Is that supposed to be a signal? With that, Sakaki once again gets into guilty mode and is getting emotional. To cover up for Nono’s part, the rest backs her up by creating their own lines in order to ensure the play goes on smoothly. Then a series of flashbacks and when Nono finally weakly speaks in a soft voice, Mugi gets inspiration and realized it all. Before the crowd knows it, Mugi gives the audience a surprise of their lifetime. Her booming voice is back. Kayo and Chitose once again are overjoyed. And it isn’t just a short one, but it lasted till the end of the play. Way to go Mugi!
 
The play comes to an end at the start of episode 9. Though there aren’t that many audiences, but it’s better than last time. It’s even better when the crowd gives them a standing ovation. But there was one part during the play which I find it hard to swallow. During the end scenes, when Mugi’s character was reunited with Kai, it’s like Kai just confessed in such a haste and left before Mugi gives her rousing speech. Huh? Outside the theatre, the student council president ‘hosts’ an event to see which of the drama club’s play is better. The audience are given a ball and are to drop into a box of the club which they think performed the best. The votes are in. Everybody starts counting aloud the balls they accumalted. To cut things short, the Drama Research Club… lost. They’ve no more balls left (no pun intended). Victory for the Drama Club which means Nono’s club has to be disbanded.
 
The rest of the episode sees the Drama Research Club members having their last meeting in their cramp club room and reminiscing the times when they first joined. Yeah, more of Nono’s flashbacks. But this time we see how Katsuragi and Risaki cheered her up and gave her the support and idea she needed to form her own club. Probably Katsuragi regretted gaving her that idea. Yeah, he got pulled into it too. As for Mugi and Kai, though the both feel glad that they’ve joined the club, Mugi feels that if she had tried even harder, they probably could’ve won. But Katsuragi tells her that even if they win, they’re gonna disband anyway since they’re graduating this year and it would be unfair to just shove everything for Mugi and Kai. Plus, it would seem cooler if they’ve won and then disband. Yeah, they’ve got all this planned out long ago, but it just didn’t turn out that way in the end. Chitose tries to go to see her beloved Katsuragi but spots the Drama Research Club gang standing outside the room for 1 last time before they take off their club name banner from the room. Must be real heartbreaking. Thus the era of the shortlived club has come to an end.
 
So it’s back to the normal life for the ex-Drama Research Club members in episode 10. No hectic training programmes anymore. Chitose is having trouble confessing to Katsuragi so much so she plans a Christmas party for her Drama Club and ex-Drama Research Club. It was a good thing their last play has no kissing scene especially between Nono and Katsuragi. Haha. I’m imagining that Chitose girl will definitely go for the jugular and make her vocal cord paralysis a permenant thing. So okay, Chitose didn’t manage to confess but I think she’ll postpone it before Katsuragi graduates. But the most shocking thing in this episode is that Kayo announces that she’ll soon go abroad to pursue her studies on photography. This of course caught Mugi by surprise and causes her to be in distraught. See, all this while, Kayo has been a good buddy, a pillar of support for Mugi. She’s always there whenever Mugi is in some sort of trouble (mostly speech wise). And with Kayo going away, how is Mugi gonna face her future. Yeah, she’s too reliant on her. Even during the New Year’s Day prayers at a shrine, deep down in her heart, Mugi still doesn’t want Kayo to leave. Then Nono bumps into Mugi sitting dejectedly on a bench and proceeds to tell her how things change, nothing last forever. Though Nono’s words seem cold (not because of the snowy atmosphere lah), but it’s a way to open up Mugi’s eyes. However, Mugi is still too upset about the sudden turn of events and starts crying because she thinks everybody is going away from her. And she doesn’t want that. Just when Mugi was getting stronger and independent (probably the reason why Kayo decide to leave for her dream), then all this sends her crashing back to square one again. Looks like she has to start picking up the pieces or else she’ll be left behind.
 
I guess that’s what happens if one is too dependent on the other. As expected, Mugi sinks into further depression in episode 11 and blames herself for putting lots of pressure on Kayo and not realizing it. I think Nono did it on purpose by saying "Kai is impotent?" when what Risaki meant was "incompetant" when she along with Katsuragi and Sakaki are relating how Kai told her about Mugi’s depression case. So everyone including Sakaki (except Nono) tries to help Mugi sort out her feelings. I like Sakaki’s advice: "Those leaving can’t even cry. They can only show their backs". I guess it was enough to make crybaby Mugi realized. So another episode filled with drama and flashbacks about the time Mugi and Kayo met 4 years ago and how they became friends. Mugi’s still the same shy lost-for-words person back then. Yeah, even Chitose did mention how Kayo’s got it really tough and has renewed respect for her. Thus Chitose and Kai devises a plan whereby they made Mugi say her final farewell to Kayo on stage. No time to have any stage fright. Besides, there’re no other audiences. It’s just between Mugi and Kayo. Unless you count the fact that Chitose and Kai are watching from the backstage. A lot of heartfelt emotions as we see Mugi finally summoning up her courage to apologize and wish Kayo the best of luck. But I suppose Mugi’s smile is all what Kayo wished for. As the duo hug, Chitose is moved and even cries. Then some words from Kai made Chitose misunderstood that he’s hitting on her but of course she still says her heart is with Katsuragi. After all this is over, Kayo soon leaves overseas assured in her heart that Mugi will be alright. Later Mugi and Sakaki had a little chat whereby Mugi finds out that the dress that Nono was supposed to wear before she resigned from the Drama Club was indeed made with all of Sakaki’s blood, sweat, tears and labour of love. This fact was never known by Nono.
 
All that’s left in the final episode 12 is for Mugi to say something to her senpais (seniors) before they leave. Yup, graduation is near and Mugi still has a hard time to find the right way to thank them for helping her throughout the year. So the Drama Club holds a party and invites the ex-Drama Research Club members as well. Sakaki passes her leadership baton to some minor character club member girl who’s name I can’t remember. Nono apologizes for splitting the club but everybody forgives her. Let bygones be bygones. Anyway, at the party, everyone is there except for Risaki, because she flopped her entrance exams. Well, like it or not, once she finds out about the party she heads straight there. Can’t miss this last chance of a lifetime. Finally, Chitose gets to confess her feelings to Katsuragi. However, Katsuragi has to politely decline her because he mentions that he likes Nono. Hah. Confirmed that guy really has feelings for Nono. But Chitose seems to handle it pretty well and doesn’t go crazy like a rejected love sticken girl. Probably she already knows it before hand and just wants to let him know about her feelings. Poor girl. But at least the air is cleared now. No regrets. As a parting gift, Chitose wants Katsuragi to do his tongue twisting talent, which he obliged. Huh? Funny girl.
 
While Nono and Sakaki have 1 last look at that beautiful dress in the storeroom and have a little touching moment (nothing yuri, please). Nono did admit that she really wanted to be with Sakaki on stage then. Meanwhile Mugi slips a letter (not a love letter lah) in Nono’s shoe locker to meet at the school rooftop. Nono does and Mugi starts telling her how much she has changed during the year and now has a dream and also about that dress. I wonder what that piece of paper Mugi showed Nono was saying. Anyway in short, it’s like an extravagant thank you speech. I didn’t really understand what it meant when Mugi and Nono started dancing and waltzing together on the snow-covered rooftop to a fantasy-like background and the past flashbacks of what they did throughout the series. Maybe it’s just to enhance the dramaticness. Soon it’s the start of the new school term. After the senpais took their graduation scrolls and head out of their school, this time it’s Mugi on the rooftop shouting with her booming voice towards them below, thanking them all for everything. Though they have left, but it’s just physically and will always be in Mugi’s heart. Later Mugi, Chitose and some unknown freshmen guy went to watch the sakura blooming in their schoolyard as Kai watches them from his art room.
 
Overall, I find this whole series to be sweet. While the ending was okay, meaning that there isn’t any tragedy (nobody dies, that is), suspense (like left hanging like as though there’s gonna be a sequel) or a fairytale happy ending (like viewers and me were hoping to see Mugi and Kai as an item in the end, but that didn’t really happen and probably that brief earlier episode was just a spur of the moment). In other words, this series is a simple one though there isn’t anything that special that will classify it as one of anime’s all time classics and greats.
 
The drawing, art and animation seems pretty normal and I somehow the colouring to be a little bland. Probably I’ve seen the characters in their orange and brown school uniform too much. I’m not sure, but sometimes I feel that the drawing uses a light cellshading technique. I could be wrong, but whenever I watch the series, it made me feel that way. Though the background sceneries aren’t much, but some of them are quite beautiful and picturesque like the sakura petals blowing through.
 
The character development in this series is mainly focused on Mugi and throughout the series you can see how she changes from a tongue tied shy girl to a more bolder one. Though there are some improvements to be made, but Mugi did improve quite a lot. Nono is still my favourite character because of her personality. Even if she seems cold on the exterior but eventually deep down she’s still a high school girl. Same thing with Sakaki. She may look like an obnoxious b*tch upfront but she’s just the same like Nono. And look just 1 little quarrel did. Best friends became best enemies but in the end, I’m glad that Nono and Sakaki made up. As for Katsuragi, I felt that his role was more like a ‘babysitter’ or mediator among the gang. I guess he’s character is quite mature as he is concern about his friends.
 
As for the voice acting, I can say it’s nicely done. It’s expected for an anime as a theater as its theme. Orie Kimoto who voices Mugi did an excellent job making her character sound inarticulated, fumbling and mumbling in her speeches. Not to say that her booming voice sounds very very great, but it’s better than mine ;P. And the impact of her voice is definitely there. Since she’s quite a new voice actress, her other anime role which I recognize her is as Shinobu of Nagasarete Airantou. Nono is voiced by multi-talented Ayako Kawasumi and her voice really fits the Nono character. You may recognize this voice under animes she did like Hime of Kaibutsu Oujo. Otherwise, she really sound different in other roles like Nodame of Nodame Cantabile, Yoshida of Shakugan No Shana, Asami of Oku-sama Wa Joshi Kousei, Matsuri of Ichigo Mashimaro and Osaka of Azumanga Daioh. Ken Narita who voices Katsuragi is well known for his role as Sesshoumaru of Inu Yasha. Likewise Kyoko Hikami who does Risaki also did Rabi En Rose in Di Gi Charat. Kai is voiced by Daisuke Kishio who also did voices as Suginami in Da Capo series, Chitose in Happy Lesson series, Samatarou in Kamisama Kazoku and Yagen in Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~. Satsuki Yukino is Sakaki who also did Kagome of Inu Yasha, Chidori of Full Metal Panic and Tina of Ai Yori Aoshi. Another newbie is Emi Yabusaki who voiced Chitose.
 
Though I don’t find any of the background musics memorable, but I kinda notice that most of them sound like those meant for a theater. There’s one background music whereby the piano play is quite fast and helter-skelter which may remind you of those speechless movies (usually hilarious chase scenes) back in the good old days when movies were only moving pictures accompanied by those frenzy piano play in the background. You get the idea. The opening theme Yume, Hitohira by Yuuko Asami sounds lively and catchy and is quite fitting for the series. The ending theme Smile by Mai Mizuhashi is equally lively but I find it less appealing. Each of the episode titles are named as ‘Act’, which is quite fitting and though the episode titles don’t sound spectacular, it’s as though as if they sound like speeches. Maybe it’s the way it’s being worded. Hmm… Episode 5’s title "Uwaaaaan…" sounds weird. The next episode preview is narrated by a stammering Mugi, though it doesn’t feel much of what’s gonna happen in the next episode.
 
Haih… As for me, I’m still having the same problems. Is not joining a drama club during my school days an excuse? Don’t think so. Watching others do and doing it yourself are entirely 2 different things. Maybe I need a person like Nono to come into my life and shake things up. Or maybe it’s better for me to just remain as an anime otaku. Just watching… But just because I don’t talk much doesn’t mean I have nothing to say, right?
 
Hitohira

Woah! How long has it been since I blogged a soundtrack? If my memory serves me right, this is just the second anime soundtrack blog in my entire blogging life. Yeah, this category must have somehow slipped my mind. This time, I’m gonna blog a little on one of my all-time favourite anime soundtracks, which is Aria The Animation.
 
In my opinion, the thing which stands out most from this anime is the background music, which I feel is a strong point of the series. There are lots of them and many are slow and easy, which of course suits the theme and mood of the series. At first, the background music may sound like those lounge music. You know, those kind of music that you usually hear playing like in the hotel lobby and such. When you close your eyes and listen to the music, it really does make you feel all relaxed. Soothing therapy for the soul?
 
The band responsible of producing such greatly calming and soothing tunes is Choro Club, a 3 member band which have a Brazilian sound and touch as their playing style. Though the music instruments of the band members consists only of an acoustic guitar, a bandoline and a bass, the anime’s soundtrack isn’t just filled with the sounds of only these 3 instruments. Of course there are some mix of drums and strings but ultimately after hearing the soundtrack, I can say that their signature playing style and sound is still evident in each piece. The album also features another artist Takeshi Senou as part of their collaboration on the pieces.
 
There are 25 tracks in this album and not all of them are instrumentals. Out of the 25, 5 of the tracks have vocals, in which Choro Club performs with vocalists like Yui Makino (Undine – Forest Mix), Eri Kawai (Barcolle – Athena No Uta), and Round Table featuring Nino (Rainbow – Acoustic Version). But for me, I didn’t find these vocal songs as appealing as the background music. Even so, I did not find all of the background musics suitable to my taste. So listed below are my favourites ones in alphabetical order:
 
1) Adria No Umibe
2) Aqua
3) Aqua -Reprise-
4) Aqua Alta Hiyori
5) Gondola No Yume
6) Hoshikage No Gondola
7) Koi To Wa Donna Mono 
8) Mizu No Kagami
9) Natsu Tayori
10) Orange No Hibi
11) Shourou No Patri ~Neo Venezia~
12) Tenki Ame
 
At first those guitaring parts may sound simple and even though I tried to copy and imitate them, it doesn’t sound satisfying at all. Probably it’s because there is a need for other background instruments to sound perfect. Yeah, it does kinda sound like a ‘deafening silence’. Plus, since my guitar isn’t optimumly tuned, I guess in a way it does sound a little ‘off’ too. Haih… Maybe it’ll be better for me to just listen and appreciate the original players.
 
Besides the original soundtrack album, there are also the usual opening and ending albums of the soundtrack, each featuring the full length version of the song as well as an instrumental version of it. And if you really really like the series, there are several drama and character CDs to add to the collection. Though I’ve never listened to any one of them before, but due to my ‘bad habit’, I never actually looked forward to such albums. Yeah, I’m always like sticking with the soundtrack and the opening and ending albums only.
 
So whenever I think back about this anime, its excellent and gentle soundtrack will definitely bring back some nostalgic memories of the series. Now, that’s what I call music to my ears. However, after such a long time, I still couldn’t bring myself to watch the second season of the series. Yeah, I found out there’s a soundtrack too for the second season but that’s another story. Probably more soothing and gentle melodies. By the way, there’s a third season coming soon. Is this series that popular? Well, my guess it would be the background music, for those who actually listen to it while watching the series.
 
Aria The Animation