More Suigin Tou

August 23, 2008

I have to admit again once more. My feelings for Suigin Tou of Rozen Maiden hasn’t really waned a single bit ever since. In fact, I’ve grown to love, admire and adore her even more. I’m not saying that she has overtaken my Mai Tokiha for the top spot. Still at a distant second spot, though. Heheh. ;p.
 
Hmmm… Thinking of which, I think I can start my own harem since I already have two gorgeous and lovely ladies in my book. Hahaha! Dream on, pal. Yeah, currently dreaming and hoping not to wake up from it soon. So here are more pictures attributed to this dark gothic-clad doll. Don’t worry Mai, your turn will come real soon. But for now, let’s just enjoy the one and only Suigin Tou… (No other Rozen Maiden dolls can come even this close to her. >P bleeeeeeeh!).
 
 Suigin Tou 16
MODEL POSE: A perfect shot good for any magazine front cover page.
 
 Suigin Tou 17
HANDLE WITH CARE: Will you protect my Rosa Mystica that I am entrusting you with?
 
 Suigin Tou 18
NO NEED FOR INTRODUCTIONS: The name says it all…
 
 Suigin Tou 20
SLEEPING LIKE A BABY: Suigin Tou in slumberland. Sweet dreams baby.
 
 Suigin Tou 23
ABRACADABRA: Behold with baited breath!
 
Suigin Tou 24 
ROSE ROSE I LOVE YOU: Suigin Tou is akin to a rose with a billion thorns.
 
 Suigin Tou 22
LOVE IS ALL AROUND: Okay, perhaps those love-shaped sakura petals doesn’t mean you’ll be loved tenderly.
 
 Suigin Tou 19
GLOW IN THE DARK: Somehow her hair seems to stand out at places with dim lights.
 
 Suigin Tou 25
NOT A VAMPIRESS: Please do not mistaken me for that blood sucking garlic-phobia creature of the night.
 
Suigin Tou 21 
SEXY LEGS: Doesn’t she look lovely, cute and sexy? WHAT AM I THINKING???!!!
 
 Suigin Tou 26
SPREAD YOUR WINGS AND FLY: Do you think a raven should be a suitable mascot for Suigin Tou?
 
 Suigin Tou 27
WHAT IS THIS?: Suigin Tou during her early days when she is confused and learning her surroundings.
 
Suigin Tou 28 
EVIL GLARE: Thinking of something wicked, aren’t we?
 
That’s it for now folks. *Sigh*. I guess all good things will eventually come to an end. Hopefully in the near future, there will be even more juicier pictures and images of my darling. And to end it all with the usual:
SUIGIN TOU MOTTO MOTTO DAISUKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Red heart

Breeze

August 22, 2008

  Takai sora wo tori natte tobitai,
  Haruka tooi kibou wo mezashite
 
I was never a fan of the anime series Slayers. Back in the 90’s, this series must have been quite popular. Popular enough to spawn several sequels, OVAs and movies. I guess back then, there weren’t as much anime titles released as compared today so fantasy adventure comedies like this became a hit with viewers.
 
  Mioroshitara chiisa na jibun datte,
  Tada gamushara ikiteru darou ka
 
One of the Slayer series which I briefly watched, and have seem to have forgotten most of it because it was a long time ago, was Slayers Try. What I remembered was that it’s opening theme song, Breeze, has quite a nice tune to it. I know, it’s one of those few animes which I purposely woke up very early in the morning just to hear a minute and a half of its opening theme, then go back to sleep. If I don’t feel like staying and wtaching that particular episode, that is.
 
  Konna fuu ni ima wo,
  Mitsumeru koto dekiru nara,
  Kizutsuku koto mo naku,
  Asu mo kowakunai
 
I really love the Spanish Flamenco guitar playing style of this song, albeit it is just a short one and at certain lines only. Aside that, I find that this song somehow fit my vocal chords. In other words, this is one of my favourite karaoke songs because I won’t usually have to worry if I’m going to screw a certain line or tone. Well, at least 99% of it. No major stammering either. The words of the song are relatively easy on my tongue.
 
  Kaze ni notte,
  Yume no kanata e kitto yukitai,
  Yuuki toiu hitomi korashite,
  Kemono yori mo,
  Kewashii michi wo aruite mo mada,
  Akiramenai kokoro nakasazu ni
 
Surprisingly I can sing anime songs sung by Megumi Hayashibara. Yeah, this song is sung by her as she also voiced the main character of this series. Of course I don’t really sound exactly like her but close enough (I think ;P). Of course that short little chorus part whereby I need to change into a little higher tone (the lines which has ‘tsubasa’ and ‘hitomi’ in it), still prooves to be a challenge from time to time. But most of the time, I’ll just ‘breeze’ through it. Hehehe. Since there are background vocals (though it’s most prominent lines are sung in English a little like black Gospel style), this makes my singing experience of this song even more enjoyable.
 
  Kaze ni notte,
  Yume no kanata e tonde yukitai,
  Yuuki toiu tsubasa wo tsukete,
  Tori ni natte,
  Miorosu kokoro mochitsudzuketai,
  RIARU na hibi ni maknai you…
 
So if I ever need to sing a song which isn’t too fast, loud or slow, this moderate pop piece should do just fine. Not too heavy or light. Just right. Hmm… Maybe I should try to sing more challenging songs in order to improve my vocal chords rather than relying on easy ones like this. Ah well, let me finish enjoy singing this first.
 
Slayers

Myself; Yourself

August 16, 2008

I must have lost count on the number of high school teenager romance drama that I have watched over the years. And there’s still more to come. Myself; Yourself is another one of those animes under that category which I somehow find a must to watch. Not to say that this series has superb review ratings, but rather such genres are one of my favourites. I don’t know. It’s such a mystery why I really love them so much.
 
Based on a visual novel and a pc game of the same name, this series has your usual romance drama elements and I’m still wondering if I could classify this as a harem anime as well. Well let’s see, we have got a teen guy named Sana Hidaka as the main protagonist. He leaves his little town of birthplace, Sakuranomori, when he was young and then returns to it 5 years later. Plus, Sana has a little dark secret since his departure and it will be unravelled as the series goes by. It’s expected as it helps keep the suspense and thriller for viewers.
 
At the start of episode 1, we see a short flashback of Sana’s farewell party being held by his 4 close childhood friends, his 1 year senior cousin Aoi Oribe, violinist Nana Yatsushiro, and the Wakatsuki unidentical twins, Shuri and Shuusuke (or Shuu for short). They each gave him a farewell present and the most peculiar one was Nanaka’s because she composed an unfinished song on her violin but promises that when he returns, it will be done by then. Back to present time, Sana is arriving by train and is nostalgic about the place he left behind 5 years ago. Well, nothing has pretty much changed in the last 5 years in this sleepy town. He goes to pray at the temple shrine and remembers a bracelet he gave to Nanaka back then. Sana then spots a young miko priestess watching him from afar. Stalker? Sana takes a fortune reading but it reads that he will have misfortune with women. Uh oh. The last thing any guy would want in a harem anime.
 
Since he isn’t doing a daytrip, he has to rent a place nearby to stay. The landlord’s daughter greets him and Sana couldn’t immediately recognize that she is Aoi because of her… Well let’s just say she has really matured a lot in terms of her physical appearance. But you have got to really love Aoi’s squeaky cute voice. It makes her sound so genki and child-like. Anyway, Aoi is delighted to see Sana and helps him unpack. Unfortunately, Sana has to refuse because there is a box containing lots of h-games. Naughty naughty. Over the day, the duo went to the bookstore and Sana remembers how Aoi is such a bookworm and that night has dinner at Aoi’s place with her parents. Aoi’s mom even brought up the topic of Sana being her potential son-in-law. Not sure if she was really joking or not. Back in his room, Sana is pondering about the changes in Aoi and wonders what Nanaka looks like now when he receives a call from his mom. In nearly every episode, you’ll see Sana getting a call from his mom (no dialogue from her, though) as Sana assures everything is alright.
 
Also, Sana isn’t just back for a holiday and has to enrol himself to school. The next morning, Aoi barges into Sana’s room because that girl is so excited in taking him to school. Only thing is, she spots him in his underwear and freaks out. She then realized that in her hype, she forgot to eat breakfast as well and proceeds to cook some up for themselves. At school, call it fate or what, that’s because Sana has been put into the same class as the Wakatsuki twins. Shuu is bloody surprised to see Sana as the new transfer student when their homeroom teacher Yuzuki Fujimura introduces him. Since Shuu mentions that Sana is their childhood friend, Yuzuki cheekily mentions now she is going to have to pay more special attention to him. Bummer. At the end of class, the twins and Sana catch up on times when that miko priestess girl walks in. Sana introduces himself to her as though they have met for the first time but she slaps him instead! What on Earth?! Sana then saw the bracelet on her hand and it dawned to him that this girl is Nanaka. Oh no. She sure looks different now. What a way to make a returning start. I’m sure anybody will get mad if he/she doesn’t remember his/her childhood friend. He sure screwed it up the first time.
 
Because of that, in episode 2, Nanaka coldly ignores Sana despite his attempts to break the ice. So Sana has his usual lunch meeting with Aoi and the twins. Later in the afternoon, Yuzuki suggests her class to pick a class rep and picks Nanaka for her past experience while the twins suggests the assistant post for Sana. Looks like he’s in for the ride now that he is back, they just can’t leave him alone. Because Sana is relatively new at school, he doesn’t know his way around and has to follow a reluctant Nanaka to a class rep meeting. Nanaka decides to go to the library to read before the meeting starts. Since Sana was so engrossed in his reading, he didn’t realize Nanaka is already gone. Luckily, another class rep, Asami Hoshino overhears Sana’s problem and decides to help him go there. At the meeting room, Nanaka is surprised to see Sana come in with Hoshino and though Sana is a little mad for her leaving him there, she mentions that she didn’t promise him so. Later as Sana is still wondering why Nanaka has changed so much, the expression on the twins face seems to indicate that they know something more but just blames Sana for not recognizing Nanaka in the first place. Later Hoshino gives a book of the meeting minutes to Nanaka so that she could pass it to Sana since they’re in the same class. Nanaka gives the book to Sana when he returns and mentions how he’s getting along fine with Hoshino. After school ends, Sana remembers he forgot something back at the music room and goes back there. At the same time, Yuzuki asks Nanaka to retrieve some handouts in the room next to the music room. She instantly recognizes the solo piano tune and is surprised to see that Sana is playing it. That piece was the one which Nanaka had wrote for Sana 5 years ago for his farewell. Hoshino is also there and claps after Sana has finished playing it. He mentions that this unfinished piece was a farewell gift written by a friend and somehow, he knows how to play it well even though he has only heard it once. I guess Nanaka must be feeling guilty about the way she acted towards Sana. So the next morning, Nanaka greets Sana good morning. Though it’s a soft one, but it’s a start.
 
Episode 3 has a little fanservice in it. As part of Shuri’s plan to have Sana and Nanaka closer to each other, she plans a fishing outing followed by some fun and relaxation at a spa resort this coming weekend. But if you’re thinking that Sana and Nanaka’s relationship will be smooth sailing from now on, think again. Though it isn’t Sana’s fault, he accidentally steps and breaks Nanaka’s beloved palm size mirror. He wants to compensate for it but Nanaka tells him never mind. Later Nanaka spots Sana in a gift shop with Hoshino. Jealousy? But she soon finds out the next day that Sana had gone to buy a replacement mirror for her and that Hoshino was passing by and just helped him to pick out one. While looking at her new mirror, Nanaka remembers she used to make cookies for the gang when they were young whenever they went on an outing and decides to do so. The day arrives and Nanaka is surprised to learn Hoshino is coming along as well. To make things worse, Hoshino too has the same mirror as hers! And she thought she had got something special from him. I don’t know, maybe some viewers feel like slapping Sana for being insensitive. At the site, the guys prepare to fish as amateur Aoi got the hook at the back of her dress. After catching some fishes, the gang prepares to make some BBQ when Sana caught glimpse of the blood soaked knife (after Hoshino cuts the fish). Sana felt horrified deep down and tries to calm himself down by going some place else. He spots a pink shell and picks it up when Shuri comes calling. After the gang had their fill, Nanaka is going to present her cookies as dessert when Hoshino incidentally beats her to it by giving the rest her home made tarts. Nanaka backs down.
 
The gang then head to the spa and had their fun. It’s quite funny to see Aoi who is so scared of trying the slides at first, making weird noises when she’s sliding down one, then suddenly got bitten by the slide bug and decides to go ride some more. As the gang rest over some drinks, Shuu notices how Sana never takes off his watch during the pool. Sana replies that it’s waterproof and that it’s quite important to him. Shuu then teases Sana that he got that watch from some girl. Shuri notices Nanaka’s expression and steps on her brother’s foot as an indication to stop his insensitivity. Too late. Nanaka decides to go back to the pool. Must be feeling gloomy all over again for her. By the end of the day, the gang part ways as Sana, Aoi and Nanaka walk home together. Aoi and Sana mentions about Nanaka’s cookies and at this point, Nanaka finally reveals that she had actually made and brought them. The trio went back to Aoi’s house and get a nostalgic taste of Nanaka’s cookies once more. As gratitude for the cookies, Sana gives her the pink shell. Nanaka is feeling quite happy and thinks that this is a gift from Sana only to her.
 
Episode 4 introduces another girl. But her heart won’t be for Sana, but Shuu instead. Why? It seems one evening as Shuu is walking back from school, he spots little Hinako Mochida being bullied from a group of boys and saves her from further teasing. You could say Hinako fell for him at first sight even though there is an obvious age gap between them. So how can she meet her knight in shining armour once more? Lucky for her, Shuu dropped his student ID and Hinako manages to pick it up and decides to return it to him. Even after doing so, she comes to see him after school ends. Isn’t this stalking? But Shuu and the rest don’t mind. One night as Sana goes out to eat, he bumps into Hinako eating alone at a restaurant, as her mom is busy working overseas. Hinako seems to have that attitude of not wanting people to treat her like a child but she herself ordered a child’s set meal but her reason was that she’s an avid collector of a cute little stuff toy called Yeti-kun. If Big Foot were this cute, many people would have them as a pet by now. Sana also orders a child set meal and gives his Yeti-kun to Hinako. Next day, Hinako wants to talk to Sana and goes to his room. I know that it’s his place but to change his shirt in front of a young girl? After lecturing him about it, Hinako says her reason she wants to talk to him is because she has feelings for Shuu and wants to know further what he is like. Sana initially laughs making her mad and deciding to leave. Sana tries to apologize but tripped and fell on her with his unbuttoned top. All in good timing, Aoi comes in and sees Sana on top of Hinako and gets the wrong idea and screams not to do it because the PTA with #*&$#$ him! After clearing up the misunderstanding, Aoi and Sana decides to help Hinako by finding more on Shuu about his likes and dislikes. At school, Sana asks him the obvious question of what kind of girl he likes and as a typical guy, a girl with big boobs. Because of that, Hinako turns to Aoi on how to make her flat chest bigger. I’m not sure how, but Hinako did mention she wants to inherit their blood seeing that Aoi’s mom is quite busty too. Yeah, it runs in the family.
 
Sana goes back to ask Shuu his other preference and the latter mentions cooking. A funny part was when Shuu was condemning Shuri’s inability to cook, not to mention to crack an egg when Shuri eavesdropped and decides to give her bro a lesson by telling him that there are other things beside an egg she can crack open. His head, that is. Prepare yourself! Hinako tries to do so and because rich girls who never lift a finger does cooking for the first time, you know what to expect, right? Unfortunately, Sana became her guinea pig despite trying to refuse. As expected, it tastes horrible. No choice but to directly confess to him. Thus Aoi and Sana plans for Hinako and Shuu to accidentally meet at the aquarium. All is going well. At the end of the day, Sana notices Hinako’s sad expression. Something tells me she has been rejected though we never saw the confession. As Sana and Hinako walk home, she admits that she had been rejected but Shuu had treated her like an adult. Hinako is trying to hold back her tears but Sana tells her that it’s okay for an adult to sometimes cry. Hinako lets go of her emotion and cries her heart out when Sana hugs her. Poor girl. Hope this would make her stronger. Back home when Sana receives a call from his mom, he asks her about confessing but denies that he has any girlfriend at the moment. Probably he shouldn’t have asked that.
 
After being sidelined for the previous episode, episode 5 has Nanaka preparing herself for the upcoming sakura festival as she herself will be doing a dance on that day as her uncle checks on her. Meanwhile Sana is out shopping when he bumps into Hoshino shopping for a cat collar. She mentions that she is getting this for a pet cat named Poe, who lives at the old folks home where she works as a volunteer. She invites Sana to come and help out for the weekend, in which he agrees. Of course, Nanaka comes by and spot the 2 again and it must be natural for her to think that they’re going out. First she hates him, now she secretly likes him. Can we call her tsundere? Nanaka tries to escape but the duo caught glimpse of her. They tell her about their volunteer work and Hoshino invites her as well. Though Sana says she has to practice for her dance, I guess Nanaka doesn’t want Sana to be left alone with her ‘rival’ and agrees to come. Must be jealousy alright. On that day at the old folks home, Sana finds out that Shuri is also working there as a volunteer and it seems an elderly man is hogging Sana all to himself because he is enjoying Sana as his video game company. You think old people like him are just waiting around before they kick the dust, huh? Well, this one is quite energetic and I think he can put most youngsters to shame. Including me :(. Hoshino notices a bird is missing from the cage and thinks it may have gotten free. Hoshino and the rest decides to visit a sickly old lady, Kaiji, in her room. Upon entering the room, Kaiji is surprised to see her granddaughter, Motoko. Well, actually no. It’s just Nanaka and she resembles quite closely to her. In her happiness, Kaiji tries to hug Nanaka, scaring the poor girl a little. After Kaiji has calmed down, we find out that her daughter died in an accident and that she also played the violin. Sana suggests for Nanaka to play her violin for Kaiji but this brings back faint memories of a place in flames. This also prompts Nanaka to feel a bit uneasy. On the way home, Sana apologizes to Nanaka for making her do something that she doesn’t want to but Nanaka says it’s okay.
 
The day of the festival arrives as Sana and the rest prepares to go watch Nanaka’s dance. Since it’s still early, Nanaka is manning a stall there as Sana meets up with her. Nanaka notices Sana has won a Yeti-kun stuff toy and he is wondering who to give to. Before Nanaka could say that she wants it, Hinako comes by and in an instant, Sana gives it to that Yeti-kun obsessed girl. Too late once more. Night falls and a crowd gathers to watch Nanaka’s dance. Shuri tells Sana about the legend of the twin hills whereby wishes were granted through a sacrifice by burying its victim alive. But throughout the years, it has been substituted with a dance and this ceremony is more of wishing for a good harvest. After the dance, Sana goes to meet Nanaka alone at the back and compliments her dance. Suddenly something is moving in the bushes and quickly dashes by Nanaka’s feet, scaring her. Her reaction was to cling on to Sana. But it turned out to be just a raccoon. The duo realized that they are hugging each other and quickly pushed each other away in embarrassment. But before they are going to hold hands once more, Hinako spots them and calls for them. Ah, girl interrupted. Will they get another chance like this?
 
Episode 6 once again focuses on Hinako. This little girl decides to pack her stuff and temporarily live with Sana when she comes home one night to find her mom leaving a message that she won’t be home due to a business trip. Why Sana’s room in the first place? I know she can’t go to Shuri because she’s living under the same roof as Shuu, so it’s understandable. But why not Aoi then? Maybe she finds Sana to be a little more fun to be with. After all, his words did comforted her after being rejected by Shuu. Anyway, whether Sana likes it or not, Hinako is moving in and is treating his place like her house. As usual as the 2 argue, Sana trip and fell on top of Hinako on the bed. Guess what? Aoi comes in and starts her usual high pitch panicking scream. After clearing up the misunderstanding, Aoi gives the green light for Hinako to stay with him. Over the rest of the episode sees Sana and Hinako doing their homework, going out shopping to buy ingredients for curry (I suppose this bring back unpleasant memories for Sana) but ended up going out to eat. While Hinako is bathing, Sana searches Hinako’s stuff for some contact info. He calls her house only to hear a voice answering machine. He also realized that today is her birthday and decides to plan a secret party for her by conspiring with Aoi. That night, Hinako wants Sana to sleep with her and don’t expect anything steamy to happen. Just that, this kid wants somebody next to her while she sleeps to feel more secure. The next day, Sana takes Hinako on a shopping trip by giving an excuse to buy a present for a girl. Sana is indirectly describing that girl to be Hinako and well, unknowingly Hinako seems to be criticizing herself. At the store, the coincidentally meet Shuu and they ended up buying a chicken clock even if it’s a little expensive. The rest of the day has the trio going to the movies and taking pics of themselves. By sunset, they head back to Sana’s room. Hinako gets the surprise of her life when she saw Aoi, Nanaka and Shuri surprising her when she comes in. While the guys are out, the girls are preparing the party in Sana’s room. After continuing another round of fun, Hinako notes that it’s time to go home and thanks everyone. So as Sana walks her back, it’s Hinako’s turn to surprise Sana by giving him a peck on his cheek before rushing off. Is she on to Sana now? Don’t bet on it. I find that their relationship won’t advance to a lover’s one throughout the series. Hey, this guy doesn’t have loli fetish, okay.
 
In episode 7, Yuzuki gives Sana a caramel as a reward for bringing in some notebooks. This triggers Sana to recall a similar event in the past but can’t quite remember it well. During recess, the gang finds Shuri collecting signatures to oppose the development of a city hall at the expense of the park. Shuri is totally against it because it was a place where she and her twin had fond memories of their late mother together. Sana is on his way home when he notices the horizontal bars at the playground. He remembers trying to do a whole loop with them but miserably fails. At that time, a young girl gave him a caramel for trying his best and Sana soon realized that that girl back then was Yuzuki. The next day, Shuri and Yuzuki are being called to the headmistress’s office for the petition letter Shuri has been passing around. It seems Shuri’s father is the one behind the development of this new city hall and she wants Shuri to stop it as it will bring a negative impact. Due to the headmistress’s attitude (especially her jerk assistant), Yuzuki is very upset and takes Shuri out for a meal while discussing her views on it. When Shuri returns home, her dad is angry about Shuri’s actions. But Shuri fights back by saying that the park is an important place for her and Shuu. She goes on saying how she’ll never acknowledge the new woman her dad married, Saeko, as her mom and thinks that she just married him for the sex and money. This causes her dad to slap her as Shuri locks herself in her room. In a way, I felt that Shuri had said too much even though she’s right in a way to express her feelings. Because of that, Shuri didn’t attend school the next day. At the old folks home, Hoshino notices Poe is missing but this didn’t stop her and Sana from continuing their volunteer work. Yeah, that old guy is hogging Sana with his video games again. Before they leave, the visited Kaiji because she requested them to come. She wants them to bury a box underneath the biggest sakura tree. As they leave, Hoshino thought she heard Poe’s bell collar but that cat is nowhere in sight. After the duo buries the box at a sakura tree near the temple shrine, Hoshino feels a little dizzy. She nearly falls but luckily Sana caught her in his arms. At the same time, Nanaka is passing by and spots the duo’s ‘unholy’ act. I guess this confirms it for Nanaka that something is going on between these 2. By the time Sana and Hoshino turn and look at Nanaka’s direction, she is already gone.
 
Hot cold hot cold. That’s what Nanaka is in episode 8. It’s deja vu once more as Nanaka is giving Sana the cold shoulders. Sana must be wondering what he has done wrong this time. Sana confronts her and after several times of saying I’m-not-angry-even-if-your-face-shows-it, Nanaka admits that she saw him hugging Hoshino. Sana explains the truth but that even makes Nanaka even more upset. After another volunteer work at the old folks home, Sana wonders why Nanaka has changed but the latter too points out that he himself has changed before running away. Back at in his room, Sana remembers how he and Nanaka used an abandoned mailbox to send each other letters since only both of them have the keys exclusive to its lock. It’s a secret which only they both shared. Sana starts searching for the key when Aoi comes in and starts panicking when she sees his porn magazines all over the place. Sana tries to clear the misunderstanding but accidentally kicks open the canister and spots the key there. Later he goes to the mailbox and opens it. To his surprise (and mine) the mailbox is overflowing with letters from Nanaka! Furthermore, most of them have "Help me!" in red written on it. What’s going on?! Sana goes to find Shuu and have him clarify what happened to Nanaka while he was away. Shuu mentions that 3 years ago, there was a fire in Nanaka’s house which took the lives of her parents. She broke her leg when she jumped out of her window from the 2nd floor with only the bracelet and violin in hand. Due to this traumatic part, Nanaka lost her memories on this incident and the police even suspected her as the culprit as they rule that the fire may be started by an arsonist. They even suspected her uncle because of something about inheriting the temple shrine. Though, the real culprit remains free today. Sana is upset why Shuu didn’t tell him earlier on. Shuu mentions that even if he did, what could he have done. Just like him, he couldn’t do anything back then.
 
Later Sana is sitting dejectedly at the playground when Yuzuki spots him. This prompts Yuzuki to give Sana a caramel and in return he asks why she does this. She tells him how her parents were always at work and gave her money to buy snacks, and that she could buy lots of caramel with the amount of money she had. She didn’t start giving them as reward till she was in high school when she spot a boy trying the horizontal bars. Though she doesn’t remember his face, she gave him a caramel to encourage him further since he looked quite happy. With that, Sana vows to do his best and at that moment, Yuzuki realized that Sana is that little boy. Later Sana calls Nanaka to meet him at the abandoned mailbox. He reveals what he has learned and apologizes for not being able to do anything. Nanaka hits back at him saying that he wasn’t there at the time she needed him most. A time when she was filled with pain. Nanaka tries to leave but Sana grabs her hand to prevent her from going. Nanaka continues to emotional blurt out how he has abandoned and forgotten about her. In the end, Nanaka mentions how she wanted so badly for him to come save her and be by her side, as they embraced each other. Sana assures her that he’ll always be by her side from now. That night, Sana receives a call from his mom and he tells her that he has become stronger because he has something to protect now.
 
In episode 9, Nanaka slowly starts regaining her painful memories when she sees the fish her aunt is cooking starts to burn. Though she still can’t recall 100%, it’s enough to devastate her. Her uncle comforts her and tells her not to force herself in recalling them. But that nightmare keeps recurring for her so much so she can’t sleep. She goes down to have a drink only to hear her uncle and aunt talk about that incident. Her aunt wants Nanaka to go see a specialist to regain her memories but her uncle is against it as he thinks it’s better for Nanaka not to remember. Nanaka recalls a similar incident with her parents and thinks about the time where she refuses to believe it all back then and even now. The next day, the gang enjoys the day at the amusement park. Aoi seems to love the wild rides while Hinako is out flat. While Nanaka and Sana are having their drink at a table (the rest went to continue their rides), they bump into Hoshino who has brought along her younger cousin Youta. The duo joins the gang as they visit the haunted house this time. Another one of those moments whereby Nanaka in her reflex hugs Sana after being scared by a prop ghost. Deja vu? Later, the gang watches a live action Power Rangers-like show called Animengers. As part of the show, the ‘baddie’ has to pick a ‘hostage’ from the audience and he chose Hinako. It was kinda funny to see Hinako giving her criticisms on how this ‘baddie’ handled the hostage situation when the heroes came to her rescue. As Youta starts cheering, the rest of the gang too goes with the flow. Lastly, the gang decides to ride the ferris wheel and they plot Sana and Nanaka to be alone together. Nanaka tries to apologize for that emotional outburst back then but Sana reassures her that they’ll be together no matter what. In the other carriage, the twins are together and Shuu tells Shuri not to hide her pain behind her usual energetic face. Shuri then gets emotional and cries after telling him about how their mom died and her dad remarried that woman. Meanwhile, the rest are in the final carriage when Hoshino spots Shuri crying. When they reached back down, everyone is back to their normal self, including Shuri. But Hoshino is still disturbed after seeing Shuri’s earlier expression.
 
Episode 10 sees Saeko hanging out and getting drunk with another guy. She’s complaining about the brats and later goes into a love hotel with him. Meanwhile the twins are praying at their late mom’s grave. They reminisce about the times they were young and were happy together with their late mom before buying an identical wristband at a shop. Several days later, the twins are being called to the headmistress’s office and it seems they have been accused of going into a love hotel together as stated in an anonymous poison pen letter. The twins tell the headmistress and his assistant that they were at their mom’s grave but they want them to prove that they have an alibi and an eyewitness. Yuzuki is upset that they easily believed a letter which could even be just a prank. The headmistress says that though the letter is suspicious, they won’t pursue the matter further since there are no proof but will inform their parents of what has happened. When they get home, their dad is in a rage and even punches Shuu as this scandal may jeopardise his upcoming re-election. This rumour has even spread throughout school the next day and when the twins arrive in class, the other students snicker at them. To their horror, they find a drawing of a love umbrella with their names on it on the blackboard. Shuri couldn’t take it anymore and runs away in tears. Shuu is visibly upset as he turn tables and demand for the culprit to come forward or he’ll beat the crap out of everyone.
 
Shuri explains it all to Sana and Hoshino while at the old folks home. In Kaiji’s room, Shuri offers to peel some apples for her when she accidentally cut her finger. This causes Sana to be terrified once more as he leaves the room to calm himself with Hoshino following behind. With Shuri alone with Kaiji, the old lady tells her about the twin hill legend. She couldn’t believed her grandchild died before her and made a wish upon it. That is, she wants Motoko to come back alive. Since the sakura trees didn’t bloom, Kaiji thought that she needed a sacrifice and started off with the bird (remember the missing bird in the cage?), and then the cat (remember the box Sana and Hoshino buried for her?). Kaiji now thinks that a real human sacrifice is needed seeing that her wish didn’t come true and starts picking up the knife. OMG! She’s going to stab Shuri! Shuri is paralysed in fear. Luckily Sana and Hoshino returned and saw what is happening. Hoshino runs towards Shuri and protected her. It seems Hoshino has been stabbed as her blood oozes out on the floor. Fortunate for her, Hoshino is in stable condition after the operation and is recuperating in hospital. But it’s not the end of Shuri’s troubles. Her dad has planned for her to go study in a boarding school in London and tries to nicely persuade her to go. Of course Shuri isn’t convinced and believes that he’s doing all this for his re-election. Shuu notices Shuri slamming her room door, so he goes talk to her. Though they’re against what is happening, but they also know that their dad’s mind has already been made up. Shuu knows that she doesn’t want to be separated from him and suggests that they run far away. Though Shuri initially protests, Shuu assures her that he’ll always be there to lend her a hand and guide her. Well, this episode certainly focuses on the trouble brewing the twins in addition to Nanaka’s. Every kid has got his/own problems too. So we’ll be expecting lots of drama, twists and turns in the remaining episodes.
 
The shocking truth is revealed in episode 11. As Sana visits Hoshino in hospital, Hoshino reveals that she is the culprit of sending that anonymous letter about the twins entering the love hotel. And I thought it was Saeko in the first place. There is a reason why she did this. It seems when Hoshino and Shuri were first years, Hoshino liked Shuri and confessed her feelings. And I’m not talking about normal friends kinda relationship. Uh huh. Yuri girl. At least this dispels the fact that Hoshino has feelings for Sana. When Hoshino confessed to Shuri, the latter thought she was joking but when she found out she was serious, Shuri rejected her. Hoshino wondered how she would react but Shuri acted so friendly as though the confession never took place, as she remained her friend and her usual cheerful outlook. Since Shuri acted like nothing, Hoshino took this as an insult and all that loving feeling turned into hatred. Ah, I see. But she hid her feelings until the day she saw Shuri crying in the ferris wheel. It was the only face which she could show nobody else but Shuu. That’s when she got sadistic and vengeful. Yeah, she felt good about doing cruel things to Shuri and was the one who drew the love umbrella. Hoshino didn’t regret seeing Shuri crying and wanted to get more of this thrill even during the volunteer work at the old folks home. But when she saw Shuri being threatened by Kaiji, ironically she went to protect her. Sana told her that it’s because Shuri was someone important to her and that was her true feelings. Hoshino starts to cry and is confused of her feelings when the twins come in. Hoshino then wants to speak to Shuri alone as the boys wait in the garden. Some time later, Shuri comes out crying to Shuu. The cat is out of the bag.
 
That night, the twin’s dad tells Shuri that her departure to London is this Saturday. Shuri tells this to Shuu as they finalize their eloping plans. Next day during recess, Shuri tells Sana and the rest about going to London and the following day, the twins didn’t attend school. Then Sana realized what is happening and rushes out of the class. Can he do that? Sana seems to know where the twins are and heads to the train station, where they’re waiting to board a train. Sana arrives too late, so he borrowed Aoi’s mom bicycle who was just passing by. Can he do that too? He tries to catch up with the train by taking various shortcuts and finally comes to a bridge. As the train passes by, Shuri sees Sana trying to say something but can’t make out. But Shuu knows what he is trying to say because back then, Shuu did the same thing when Sana left town 5 years ago. The words are: "No matter where you are, we will always be friends".
 
The twins are gone and in episode 12 rumours about them eloping are spreading like wildfire throughout school. Aoi laments the fact that the twins are now gone when Sana just came back. It just feels so lonely. Back at Sana’s room, he receives a courier package from Shuu. A fishing rod but there are no other details to indicate where he is. Sana decides to invite Aoi and Nanaka for another fishing trip this weekend but when the day comes, Aoi faked she has a cold and told Sana to go ahead with Nanaka. She thinks that at this time, only Sana can help Nanaka. At the river, after the duo did some fishing and replenish themselves with Nanaka’s delicious cooking, Sana wants to show Nanaka something and has her follow him to a nearby cave as it soon starts to drizzle. Inside the dark cave, Sana shows the ceiling of the cave filled with sparkling minerals which resembled a starry sky. What a beautiful sight. He says that he and Shuu discovered this place when they were young while fishing and that this place is their secret hideout between the 2. This Sana guy sure has lots of secret secrets shared with others. Sana’s flashlight batteries suddenly went out and Nanaka gets a little scared of the dark. So the duo took shelter at the mouth of the cave as it’s now raining. Nanaka then asks about the watch which she still thinks was given to him by his ex-girlfriend. Sana denies it but stops short of telling her further about it. Sana then asks about the letters in the mailbox in which she replied that she was so scared after the fire, she was afraid that had changed. So much so she couldn’t play the violin anymore. Because of her fear of changing too much while Sana was away, she wrote letters and put it in the mailbox to reach the Sana she once knew. Nanaka realized that Sana didn’t change as of now and still is the Sana she loves. Soon Nanaka falls asleep but when she wakes up, she finds herself alone and goes to look for Sana. As she wanders out of the cave, the red sunset seems to have triggered her memories of the fire. Like in a trance, Nanaka walks forward till the edge of the cliff and fell. Luckily, Sana is down there and manages to catch her in time. Nanaka then comes to her senses and says how she has remembered everything about the fire. So it just took a sunset for her memories to start flowing back? Which means she has never seen such sunset before, hasn’t she?
 
Episode 13 starts with Nanaka’s past. We see she’s quite close to her violin teacher, Kaoru Sakuraba, who is also a close friend of her parents. However, Kaoru was suffering from cancer and the disease is spreading so much so it was incurable. In the end, Kaoru passed away. While Nanaka’s mom, Nanae, was inconsolable during his funeral, her dad, Tsuguhiko, was feeling angry. One night, Nanaka went downstairs and to her horror saw her dad beating up her mom. As a child, that can be very traumatic. It is revealed that Nanaka is actual the child of Kaoru and Nanae. Why didn’t she told him when she was pregnant with his child? Nanae fears that Tsuguhiko would want her to abort it, in which he asserted that he would have done so. Nanae also wanted Nanaka to take violin lessons from Kaoru so that she can be close to her real dad. Tsuguhiko is in a rage as now he realized why Nanaka resembles so close to Kaoru. Nanaka thinks that this is just a nightmare and goes back to bed in disbelief hoping that tomorrow everything will be back to normal. But soon she heard a loud noise downstairs. Once again she went down to check only to find Tsuguhiko standing next to an unconscious Nanae. Plus, he has doused the entire room with gasoline and starts lighting the fire. So now we know who started the fire. In Nanaka’s horror, she rushed back upstairs but soon finds the fire spreading quickly. With no choice left, she hurriedly to the bracelet and violin and jumped out of the window. Back in present time, Sana comforted Nanaka and soon brings her home. After Nanaka has fallen asleep in her room, Sana has a chat with her uncle and tells him what he has known. Her uncle had suspected Tsuguhiko all along but was unsure but this confirms it. Another round of flashback. He tells Sana that before Kaoru died, he confessed everything to Tsuguhiko in hopes that he will forgive him, but the latter didn’t. He felt betrayed and even wanted to kill them. At that time, her uncle didn’t took him seriously as he thought he was just upset and drunk. Because of that, he hoped that Nanaka would never regain such painful memories.
 
Nanaka must be regretting that she has learned her painful past. Because of that, she keeps herself locked in her room and refused to see anyone including Sana. But this didn’t stop Sana from visiting her every day. One day as Sana is waiting in the living room, he notices Nanaka not in her room and thinks she has gone to take a bath because he heard water noises from the bathroom. Thinking it’s okay, Sana decides to wait a little longer till Nanaka comes out. But Nanaka didn’t came out and the water noise is still running. Sana fears the worst and tries to enter the bathroom. He calls her name but there was no response. Sana is a little hesitant about barging in but eventually does. To his horror, he finds Nanaka in the bathtub with her wrist slit! Oh dear! Why is her blood black colour?! Sana has that terrified feeling again but has to be strong to overcome it. He manages to pull Nanaka out of the water. Later as Nanaka is recuperating in hospital, Sana tells her not to think about dying but this upsets her even further as she claims he doesn’t know the pain she is going through. But Sana beg to differ as he too underwent such similar experience. He takes off his watch to reveal a scar on his wrist. Sana tells her that he too once tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrist but didn’t die from it. When he moved away 5 years ago to a new school, the kids there bullied and abused him tremendously. At first he tried to ignore them but it soon became unbearable. Just when he can’t take it no more, he decided to slit his wrist. This world is full of problems. Everyone has them. So the main reason why he decided to come back here was that he hoped he could see everyone and everything just as before. He wanted to return to how things used to be. Everytime he thinks about that incident, it will send shivers to him. But Sana is thankful that he didn’t die for it is a blessing in disguise. If he had died then, he wouldn’t have been able to save Nanaka and prevent her from making the same mistake.
 
The timeline then fast forward ten years later and we see a grown up Nanaka preparing herself to give a violin concert in front of a sell-out crowd. Sana comes to the backstage to propose her hand in marriage. Wow. Ten years to finally propose to her? ‘Old’ already lar… Haha. Outside we see Aoi bringing Hoshino into the concert. Aoi is grateful to Hoshino because of her, the park is still here today. Probably Hoshino tried to redeem herself when she decided to fulfil Shuri’s hope to save the park. We also see Shuri and Shuu walk hand in hand into the concert but we won’t hear them speak or see their faces. Just their backs. Also, it seems Hinako (still flat chested. Sorry) is dating Youta even though she is older than him. Well, that kid was quite attached to her when the gang were at the amusement park. When Sana rejoins Yuzuki at her seat, the latter teases him that he’s a naughty guy when Sana gives the thumbs up about Nanaka accepting his proposal. She gives him a caramel for becoming a man. Nanaka finally comes onstage and tells the audience how she took a long time to finish writing this piece as it contains her joyful and painful memories of everyone she shared back then. She names this piece, Myself Yourself. So she finally finish writing that piece, huh?
 
Though I felt that the whole series was quite okay, but I also felt that the ending was kind of a rush job. I mean, even if it ended on a good note, there are some points which made me ponder. Like when the twins ran away, I wonder where they went or did anybody mounted a search for them. So it’s like once the twins were gone, it ended for them just there. And their presence at the end of the show was just to please viewers that they’re still around together. As for Hoshino, I too felt that after she confessed her cruelty, it was like also her role ended just there as the series focuses more on Nanaka’s trouble and how Sana is going to solve it. What about Hinako? I felt her presence was just akin to a side character after her birthday bash. Even the part at the amusement park, she wasn’t that prominent either. But I guess the overall build up of the drama to its climax was quite well done. At least Sana’s flashback was a quick one, rather than most episodes which would dedicate at least 1 episode to tell what has happened.
 
But perhaps maybe there were some parts of the twists and turns of the story which caught me by surprise. Especially Hoshino’s confession. Nobody in their right mind would suspect such a cute looking timid girl to do such hideous things. But then again, still waters run deep. I had actually thought and suspected Saeko very much. I wouldn’t have guessed that Tsuguhiko was the one behind the fire as there were lots of evidence pointing towards Nanaka’s uncle. Well, at least his back and long hair seem to indicate so. Then there are of course some parts which are expected like Kaiji who ‘murdered’ the bird and cat, and Sana ending up with Nanaka. So I can conclude that this isn’t a harem anime. At least, not a typical one. Well, Hoshino has her heart on Shuri and still has, Shuri loves her brother more than anything else, while Aoi is just their best friend who plays a little role as big sister because she’s the eldest. I was hoping for the gang to form a band and play some music just like how the opening animation and theme (Tears Infection by KAORI) showed they would, but I guess it never materialized.
 
The drawing, art and animation are quite standard to today’s Japanese bishie anime expectations. Though the voice acting is okay, my favourite one is still Aoi who is voiced by Tomoko Kaneda (Chiyo of Azumanga Daioh) because of her high pitch squealing. There are other talented casts too which include Shinnosuke Tachibana as Sana (Takefumi in Manabi Straight), Ami Koshimizu as Nanaka (Megumi in Muteki Kanban Musume), Yukari Tamura as Shuri (Sakura of Da Capo, Ranpha of Galaxy Angel), Takehito Koyasu as Shuu (Kuroyanagi of Yakitate! Japan), and Mai Nakahara as Hoshino (Mai in Mai-HiME).
 
As we learn that friendship is something valuable, time is the only medicine which can heal scars and wounds of the heart and soul. Anything terrible happened to a child during his/her tender young age, could have a severe and negative impact in his/her future. Since the story deals with depression and ultimately suicide, it may not be suitable for younger audiences. And if you’re thinking about that Animengers part, it just doesn’t quite cut it. Yeti-kun? Hey, I think the straw dolls in Jigoku Shoujo are kinda cute too. Not. But I don’t think the producers will make a 2nd season unless they decided to make an alternative storyline and most probably another ending version from the game. I wonder what they will call it. Ah, I know. Myself; Yourself; Ourselves. And then if there’s another sequel, it’ll be Myself; Yourself; Ourselves; Themselves. Hehe. Just kidding.
 
Myself; Yourself

Hand Maid Mai

August 15, 2008

At first I thought that there was some typo error when I heard the anime Hand Maid Mai. I mean, I did watch that ecchi comedy maid series Hand Maid May, and I thought that it’s over after the way things ended. To my surprise, it isn’t a typo error after all and that Hand Maid Mai is actually an OVA spin-off from the original series.
 
Well, no harm in trying to watch this episode to satisfy my curiosity on how different this is from its predecessor. From what I can see, it’s really different from the original in terms of storyline and characters. You won’t really see the main characters of the previous series appearing here. This time around, we have a new guy called Ozu Hideo, who is an editor of some shady adult video company. You know what this means. I guess if they’re going to make another ecchi maid series, might as well start off with this.
 
At the start of the episode, Ozu receives a sudden mail from a childhood friend, Mai Kurosawa, wanting to meet him. Ozu also narrates how he has never been able to finish a movie he filmed on her. How long was it? Nine years. Woah. Nine years! That’s a real long time and it’s still not finished, huh? Plus, Mai is an actress wanna-be and it has been 4 years since the 2 had seen each other. As Ozu watches his old videos he filmed of Mai throughout time, he remembers a memorial pendant Mai threw away into the river.
 
But Ozu gets a whack on his head by the company director, Yamamoto, for using the company’s computer for personal use. As he continues yelling at Ozu, he notices pretty Mai and tells him to bring her in sometimes for some filming. Of course, Ozu won’t want his beloved childhood friend to do some porn. Yamamoto reminds him how he bailed him out when he had trouble paying his rent. No choice but to submit and get back to work. Later, Ozu finds himself wearing a monster squid outfit. He has to help act because the original somehow got mad and went home. He’s up against a sexy martial arts actress, Aya, who’s acting as a champion from the planet of light. Looks like a typical sentai movie but with adult elements. Ozu gets ‘pinned’ by Aya and you’ll wonder is he such a bad actor while Yamamoto ‘passionately’ directs from the top of his voice. "If you can’t beat that alien, you’re going to become poor and never be in love ever!". Anyway, Ozu really did passed out from all that submission moves. Even so, Yamamoto wants another guy to replace Ozu to continue shooting. Later backstage, Aya meets up with Ozu and invites him for dinner but Ozu declines. Aya mentions that he has a date with Mai, which pisses off Ozu for looking into other people’s mail. Ozu further explains that Mai wants to become a movie star and is currently taking private lessons from a famous actor and that he hasn’t seen her in 4 years. Aya and Yamamoto think Mai has been done in. Yamamoto wants Ozu to finish the editing by tomorrow afternoon. Aya tries to tease Ozu by rubbing her boobs on his back. Ozu tries to resist and immediately stands up, hitting his crotch with the table. Amateur.
 
Ozu arrives at a hotel and meets Mai in her room. He has also brought all the tapes he has filmed of her for the past 9 years, as requested by her. As Mai looks through the bag of tapes, Ozu mentions how it’s her birthday today and that he has bought a new camera and wants to shoot some scenes of her. But Mai suddenly slaps his hand, making him drop and break the camera. Taken aback, a man named Kouzou Ooshima comes in and introduces himself as a movie producer from the famous production group, Aurora Productions, and tells him how Mai is from a world totally different from his. He continues that there is a press interview at this hotel for Mai’s movie debut and that the reason Ozu is called here is that they want to confiscate all his tapes of Mai as they deem it valueless and doesn’t help Mai in her future career. Furthermore, Kouzou wants Ozu to stop meeting her anymore. He then hands over a cheque worth 10,000,000 Yen for the tapes but Ozu refuses. Mai then slaps Ozu and chides him about how he has followed her around for 9 years like a stalker and that movie he has always talked about never materialized. She tells him to take the cheque and never to see her again. Ozu picks up his camera and leaves while promising to return the videotapes to her.
 
Of course, when Ozu left, he just left not wanting to cause any trouble. But deep down in his heart, he is hurt. The press conference continues and Mai is seen answering some questions. That night, Ozu is upset about the whole thing and gets drunk. On the way home, he gets a little noisy singing in the streets, which prompts Kasumi to tell him to shut up and get lost. Yeah, that’s a short cameo appearance from her. Ozu must be real drunk because he started to relieve himself in the middle of the streets as Kasumi screams pervert. Just then, a cyberdoll named Sara (if this is the Sara from the original series, she looks a little different because she has blonde hair now) comes up to him and wants him to stamp on an agreement letter. Ozu is obviously to drunk to understand what’s happening as he’s admiring her boobs. This causes Sara to put some lipstick on his lips, the smack the letter right into his face. Now, there’s an official stamp from Ozu. By force, I’d say. With that, Sara says that the package has been delivered to his house.
 
Ozu comes back home to find 3 maid ladies waiting and welcoming him. He thinks he has got the wrong house and goes away. The trio manages to hold him before he goes any further. Ozu then notices a striking resemblance to one of them which is holding on to him. Why, she looks like a little version of Mai. However, she refutes and says that she is Mie and that Mai is behind. He turns around to see a little grown up version of Mai. But she again refutes and says that she is Ai while the real Mai is behind her. Ozu is surprised to see Mai and instantly hugs her. Mai says that there has been a request and requires him a username entry. Mai then takes Ozu’s right index finger and sucks it. I don’t know if this is how certification is done but it feels kinda odd. Once it’s done, Mai wants to know how to address him. Ozu is still drunk and falls asleep on his boobs while murmuring kantoku (director). With that, the trio acknowledges to call him that.
 
Ozu wakes up the next morning to find himself sleeping in the bosoms of Mai and his house is squeaky clean. As Mai introduces himself as a cyberdoll, Ozu wonders about the things that have happened last night. Furthermore, the 3 cyberdolls looked like 3 different age variations of his childhood friend. Mie and Ai comes in after taking out the garbage. Ozu is further surprised to see a little Mai, a medium Mai as compared to the big Mai. Mie wonders if he has forgotten while Ai says he was quite drunk last night. Ozu thinks this is a nightmare and fears that he has did something bad. Teen prostitutes! Lolita rape! Haha. Terms which you can only hear from an adult film editor. All this must be happening too fast. Anyway, Ozu calms down after having a bowl of ramen and notes how they came from 50 years in the future, though he doesn’t believe it. The trio tells them they have special in-built features and that the future Irainashi-san wanted to give them to him as a present. Huh?
 
But Ozu soon gets a call from Yamamoto asking about the editing. Ozu remembers that he hasn’t started on it but Yamamoto isn’t mad and wants him to take his time. Why is he so nice? Though Yamamoto says he has a cold, but we see him in bed with Aya… Anyway Ozu decides to go to office to complete his job but finds his computer is down and has been taken to a technician to fix it. Ozu returns home depressed and relates this to the trio. Mie says that this old computer is working but Ozu mentions that it’s an obsolete model. Mai then says she has in-built editing tools which can help make a home pc produce quality films. Yeah, remember in the previous series, the cable or plug of the robot maid is in the butt? Uh huh. Well, erm. Let’s just say this time Mai didn’t take that plug out from her butt but from her front… And she’s making that weird noise… After buying more cables from the store, Ozu tries to finish his editing. It’s kinda funny and hilarious to hear Aya making that weird ‘pleasure-ful’ sound in the background. I don’t know how that porn scene has got to do with that squid monster attack. I find myself laughing out loud here. He then notices some parts are missing and with his camera broken, he can’t do anything. Mie and Ai offers to help as they have in-built cameras in them. They did some testing and Ozu wants to peep further on some lady changing because they say peeping is bad.
 
With the necessary equipments all in place, all that’s left is for Ozu to call Aya to film the rest. Fortunately, Aya is seen sleeping in his bed. Something about missing last night’s train. Well, at least it has saved them some time. However, Mai is taken aback a little when she looks at Aya. Now that I think about it, Aya looks a bit like Sara… So the filming begins with Ai in that monster squid suit while Mie in a cute robot outfit (R2D2 look-alike?). Then there’s a scene whereby Aya gets brainwashed by the alien and is going to seduce the princess played by Mai. Since Mai hasn’t done anything like this before, she is kinda hesitant. But experienced porn star Aya makes a bold move on her by spreading her legs and did some yuri hentai thingy on her. Scary. Better be gentle with her. She’s not a porn star, you know.
 
Later while editing the film, Ozu must be feeling a little guilty because Mai is seen sobbing after being so violated and for her modesty being outraged. Poor girl. Must have been real tough. He pleads for her to stop crying. She apologizes and vows to do their best. Once done, Ozu presents his work to Yamamoto. What’s this? A spoof of Star Wars?! Star Rose?! Even the background music is a parody of it! Anyway Yamamoto isn’t too happy because he didn’t expect this adult video which only need girls crying out in pleasure, has been turned into a space movie. Ozu apologizes and leaves but it seems Yamamoto thinks the film isn’t that bad either. Outside, Ozu tells them that his boss scolded him and the trio apologizes for not being able to help. However Ozu says he’s still proud of his work no matter what Yamamoto says.
 
Meanwhile Aya is eating ramen while watching tv when the programme talks about Mai Kurosawa’s debut movie. Ozu and the maids come in to watch. We see the movie director Kimio Teshigawara, telling the hostess that this movie debut is the life documentary of Mai Kurosawa. This film covers her growth from her childhood days and that the videos have been recovered through advanced technology. Furthermore, no one has seen this footages before. Horror! Those bastards are plagiarising and using Ozu’s work and claiming it as their own! No wonder they wanted his films. Ozu is disgusted that such a big company would stoop this low by using his videos to make their own film. Unforgivable. Mie then suggests for him to start making them all over again. Why not? They do look like several age variations of Mai, right? With that, Ozu decides to remake his film with the help of the trio from his heart.
 
Well, actually that isn’t the end of it yet. There are a total of 3 episodes in this OVA but so far however 1 episode has only been released so far. And this spin-off OVA is actually a year 2003 production! What happened? I did a little research and found out that the company producing this series, Wonder Farm, has been filed for bankruptcy during that year and the remaining episodes are severely delayed. In other words, we won’t be seeing anymore episodes of this series unless there is a miraculous turn around. Hmm… Doesn’t this remind you of Ozu’s unfinished 9 year video project?
 
Even with this short series, I can’t help find that as compared to its predecessors, the maid robots here are not as pretty as they should be. I seem to prefer the maids of the previous series as they look much more cuter. Perhaps since the maid robots here take after Mai Kurosawa, who isn’t such a bishie herself. Hahaha. Just kidding. Don’t go sue me, okay.
 
I’m guessing that in the remaining episodes, Ozu and his maids will make a comeback and teach those ingrates in Aurora Productions a thing or two and show them who has higher class and respect. I know, it’s a dog-eat-dog-world even in show business. Maybe as Ozu and the maids go along, we see them bond (not to mention spontaneous comedy and ecchi as well). Yeah, he may find himself falling in love with a female robot who has a much better personality than his human counterpart. Whatever the outcome, it seems robot maids are not confined to just household chores. They even come complete with movie making tools. So for those with maid fetish, thinking of making a maid-themed porn movie, anyone?
 
Hand Maid Mai

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

August 9, 2008

I’m sure we live in a world whereby we face lots and lots of stuff that are depressing or give us despair. Life itself is indeed ironic. Nothing but disappointment after disappointment. So what happens if we take all that negative stuff and turn it into a comedy? Well, that’s what Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei turns out to be.
 
In this 12 episode anime series, we are introduced to the world’s most negative and pessimistic person on the face of the planet, Nozomu Itoshiki. And by looking at his profession as a teacher, you’ll wonder how on Earth he gets to do a job whereby one has to play a good role model for his students and shape the future leaders of the world. I know, many people don’t fit their jobs in real life too. How depressing. Just like Nozomu himself. Due to this negative behaviour of his, he sees everything from aspects in life and culture in a very negative light. So why can’t he just kill himself and free himself from this painful world? Aha. He’s the main character, you see. Which means he can’t die as he’s at the mercy of the producers and scriptwriters. Haha. Just a little side joke there.
 
Even though this is a comedy series, the jokes here aren’t really intended for young audiences because it deals with issues like depression and suicide. Plus, since most of the jokes are reflections and ironies of real life, which make viewers think in a different way how true and ironic it is, thus this is more of a black comedy.
 
Back to Nozomu as seen in episode 1. It’s a beautiful day and the sakura trees are at full bloom. A very cheery and positive girl, Kafuka Fuura, is happily enjoying the day while walking to school when she chances upon a guy (Nozomu) who has just hanged himself from a sakura tree. How’s that for starting off the series with the main character dying. Of course Fuura tries to save him. Okay, probably she’s in a panic and starts pulling him. So the branch snaps and he didn’t die. Why, Nozomu even had the cheek to yell back what happens if he had actually died! The last words you’d here from anybody suicidal. From first impression, Fuura did look like she was assisting in speeding up Nozomu’s death even though her intentions were to save him. Anyway Nozomu is not too happy about Fuura trying to save him and starts his negative ranting but Fuura doesn’t see Nozomu as killing himself. She thinks he’s making himself grow taller! What kind of twisted logic is that? I know, she’s the most positive optimistic thinking girl, but substituting it with something less gruesome doesn’t necessarily make it better. Furthermore, Fuura decides to call him Momoiro Kakarichou (Pink Supervisor) and even pays him 50 Yen to call him so as a licensing fee. In the end, Nozomu ran away.
 
But that isn’t the end of it all. I suppose Nozomu has to go back to teaching seeing that he’s alive. To his surprise, he spots Fuura as his student too. Like they say, opposites do attract. So Nozomu introduces himself by writing his kanji name vertically on the blackboard. As usual, he goes on blabbing about his negativeness of his name when Fuura decides to write it horizontally. Nozomu is in a panic and tries to stop her but too late. What’s wrong with that? You see, when Nozomu’s surname is combined, it reads and means ‘despair’. So that explains why his character is so. Ah, the wonders of Japanese kanji. The next time we write his name, make sure to leave ample room and space in between the characters. Yeah, but don’t overdo it. Fuura even gives more Yen as a raise to call him that Pink Supervisor. The rest of the episode sees Fuura talking to another classmate, Chiri Kitsu, about having a spa in school. Chiri is a perfectionist and can’t stand anything that isn’t equal or precise. Like when she spots Fuura’s unequal stocking lengths. Yeah, she took the liberty to make it so. No joke. Even her middle hair parting is equally perfect. Other than that, we see Nozomu returning to class after getting some counselling from the school’s pretty counsellor, Chie Arai. As Nozomu trudges back to class, he gives his students an assignment to list all their despairs after making them list their hopes. A contrast of what many teachers would do. After listing, Nozomu proceeds to mock it all and gives them a sense of no hope. But luckily, there is Fuura’s positivity. Her words seem to lift the students’ spirit even she herself admits that she herself has some despair. Later in the teacher’s lounge, Nozomu is being complimented by another teacher about his student’s hopes. But he notes how 1 student’s hope is bothering him. Guess who? It’s Fuura. Why, she wrote down her hopes (in descending order) to be God, a time traveller, and a Pororokan Alien. Huh? What’s a Pororokan alien? Hmm… Doesn’t her aspirations sound somewhat similar to those of the SOS Brigade club members in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu? Well, almost. Sometimes being too positive can be bad. That’s what makes Fuura dangerous. Her scary positive ideas are real scary.
 
In most episodes, the trend of comedy is something like that. It can be divided into several parts and sometimes there are short skits which are seemingly unrelated to the particular theme of the episode. Some of the episodes are really random and others seem to focus on a particular student. Just like Nozomu himself, the main student characters of the series kanji name are a play on words. By combining or adding the kanji characters, the name of the students in a way reflect that particular student’s peculiar and unique characteristic. In addition, you’ll here Nozomu’s trademark "zetsubou shita" line of being in despair (or any other characters) when he realized something (that particular episode’s theme or topic) has made and left him in despair.
 
Episode 2 sees Nozomu once again trying to kill himself by jumping in front of an oncoming train but us being restrained by a rail officer. Fuura spots him and decides to save him. Unfortunately, her rescue seems more like killing him. Will this become a trend? Yeah, she pushes him. Luckily the train just zooms pass by when Nozomu fell on the track. Nozomu shouts back words no one will thought a man in his predicament would say: "Shinde dou suru!" (What happens if I had really died!). Hahaha! So is he serious of suicide? If so, he could really ask Fuura for ‘help’. In school, Nozomu once again goes to see Chie and mentions how his identity is being stolen through the electronic turnstile at the train station. But Chie changes the subject and tells him he has to go visit a student, Kiri Komori, because she isn’t attending school. Nozomu has to oblige because of Chie’s ‘stare’. Don’t want to mess with her if you value your life. Ironic, isn’t it? Nozomu is outside Komori’s house when Fuura comes by and the duo decides to go investigate. Inside, they find Komori has locked herself in her room and Nozomu concludes he is a hikikomori (recluse) but Fuura thinks otherwise. She thinks Komori is some sort of deity spirit called Zashiki Warashi and her confinement is supposed to bring luck to the house. With that, they decide to seal her in even further! Komori is frightened and busts out. Talk about reverse psychology! Nozomu notices Komori is quite pretty and tells her that if she ever wants to die, she should tell him. With that, you could say Komori takes some sort of liking for Nozomu. Next day at school, a teacher is praising Nozomu for making Komori come to school. But Nozomu didn’t see her in class. Why, Komori has decide to confine her self in school. Ah well. Back to square one. You’ll notice her being wrapped in a blanket and confining herself in places like closets and whenever somebody opens the door to see her, she’ll say "Akenaide yo" (Don’t open).
 
The second half sees Chie telling Nozomu of another student not attending classes, Matoi Tsunetsuki. Matoi has been labelled a stalker because she really stalks any person whom she is deeply in love with. While Nozomu and Chie are providing counselling to Matoi, Fuura comes in and tells them that she couldn’t possibly a stalker. Yet another twisted logic of deep love and that is how she portrays her affection (stalking, that is). Matoi even thinks this must be it and decides to go see him because she wants to know what he is doing. On another note, we see perfectionist Chiri trying to equally split a strawberry cake into 4. But each time a new person enters, she has to improvise so that each person gets an equal piece. It’s getting irritating. So when there are too many people, Chiri just made a juice out of it. Urm… Can we drink that? Later we see Matoi’s ex-boyfriend, Takeshi, having the surprise of his life when Matoi bursts in. Takeshi says their relationship is over but Matoi insists that she still deeply loves him. Nozomu then appears and explain true love is when both couples do a lover’s suicide and even shows them a bunch of items to assist in their suicide. Before he leaves, he tells Matoi that if she ever wants to die, he would die with her anytime. With that, Matoi thinks that Nozomu indirectly confessed to her and decides to leave Takeshi. Next day at school, Matoi continues to stare at Nozomu, sending shivers down his spine. Yeah, Matoi has a wall filled with pictures of him. Obsessed! Nozomu can’t go home because he fears that Matoi will follow him. While he is sleeping in the infirmary, Chiri is also sleeping there when she accidentally roll next to his bed in his arms. They both opened their eyes to find themselves in an awkward position. With that, Chiri says since it has come to this, they have no choice and wants him to do a proper job by registering her into his family and meeting her parents. Another case of deep love? Later Nozomu tries to escape but notices Matoi following and stalking him. The hilarious part was this sets off a chain of stalkers too! Takeshi seems to be bothered by Matoi’s new love and decides to follow her. This is followed by Takeshi’s new girlfriend suspicious of him, then a middle age rich guy, then his wife, then the cleaner who clean her undies. Yeah, it’s like Nozomu leading a line of stalkers. Just like Pied Pipper. Soon Chiri even joins in. Looks like Nozomu has another girl who has taken their teacher-student love relationship to a whole new level.
 
Episode 3 sees the return of a foreign student from overseas. She is the blonde Kaere Kimura. She notices how Nozomu is avoiding eye contact with her and his reason is that he’s doing so to avoid being labelled as sexual harassment. After the students think how Nozomu has never visited places outside Japan, Kaere thinks how customs in Japan are strange and explains to them their different cultures. A student tells her to go back if she doesn’t like it here. With that, Kaere is so shocked that she undergoes a personality change. At Chie’s room, she mentions how Kaere has 2 split personalities due to different cultural backgrounds. One as a stereotypical foreigner who always threaten to sue (Utaete!!!) and the other an ultimate kind gentle ideal Japanese woman. Whenever she is in the latter form, her name changes to Kaede. As she is in Kaede form, she follows Nozomu around as she finds herself in love with him. But Kaede notices how Matoi closely follows him (even to men’s toilets!) and concludes that she is no match for her and decides to kill herself by jumping off the roof. But Nozomu stops her because he thinks that this spot is his suicide place and manages to grab her feet before she falls. As Kaede is being held upside down, her panties are being flashed and she turns back to Kaere and threatens to sue Nozomu for sexual harassment. Nozomu is horrified as he doesn’t want to become a courtroom sketch. From now on, you’ll notice that Kaere/Kaede seems to play the panty flasher role for fanservice and Matoi just follow Nozomu around and doesn’t help much no matter how much trouble that teacher is in.
 
The second half has Chie talking attendance when she notices a girl’s voice answering to a name she believes belongs to a boy. She is Maria Tarou Sekiutsu. Hmm… She reminds me a little of Su from Love Hina. While everyone else accepts her, Chiri doesn’t. So she decides to follow Maria to investigate further. Along the way, Chiri bumps into Fuura and the duo continue their stalking. I mean, following. Upon reaching Maria’s house, they find that it houses dozens of illegal immigrants. Of course Fuura tells them that they are returnee citizens. This girl can come up with lots of reasons. Chiri on the other hand still can’t accept it so Maria takes them back to school and shows them the boy whom has sold his identity to Maria. This ex-Tarou Sekiutsu is living in a cardboard box and tells them how he sold his identity and everything to taste true freedom. What crap is this? Then when Maria says how she legally purchase it, Chiri accepts it because the fact that there were legal transactions occurred. Soon Chiri starts to feel pity for Maria because of her poor conditions and decides to protect her. Yeah, everyone in school too decides to protect her after just watching her actions, by giving her money and gifts. So being an illegal immigrant does have its advantages. If everyone has that mentality, of course. This doesn’t mean you should be one too.
 
If you notice a girl covered in bandages all the time, she is Abiru Kobushi and in episode 4 because she is a suspected victim of domestic violence, Nozomu is asked to meet her dad. Nozomu spots Abiru’s dad going into a shop to purchase something but can’t help think that he might use that newly bought stuff to abuse his daughter. So Nozomu tells the shopkeeper about his abusive ways and he completely believes Nozomu’s words and refuses to sell anything to that unsuspecting dad. This goes on and on in several shops. I wonder why Abiru’s dad doesn’t suspect anything wrong and just leave. So much so, Nozomu even apologized to him when he bumps into him and fears that he may be after his life! Later we see Fuura somehow ending up in a tiger’s cage when a tiger is going to pound on her. Fuura doesn’t mind because she thinks she’ll be reborn as a good person. Before anything could happen, Abiru calls the tiger and it goes to her. It seems Abiru is quite fond and good with animals as they played with each other. However, due to the rough play, Abiru got injured. So we learn that Abiru’s injuries aren’t from domestic violence but from playing with animals. In other words, she loves pulling animal tails. Nozomu visits Abiru back home to find many trophies of animal tails hanging on the wall. Abiru tells of her dream of going round the world pulling animal tails when she suggests Nozomu to try on a tail. Upon putting on one, Abiru gets excited and is going to pull it as Nozomu runs out in fear thinking that Abiru may be some sort of pervert. Poor Abiru’s dad. That fella got bad reputation for nothing.
 
Next we see a very shy girl named Meru Otonashi. She is unable to read aloud in class when Nozomu asks her to. Meru then runs out of the room. Nozomu finds out that she has a fear of speaking out loud and goes to find her and manages to convince her to come back to class. Nozomu then decides to communicate with her via handphone. But to his shock, he finds the SMS to be very abusive and insulting! Watch your language girl! Yeah, every student gets a piece of her vulgarness. She can’t stop either! Must be real addictive to curse people, huh? Good thing she doesn’t speak out loud. Can’t imagine the profanity. Everyone heaves a sigh of relief when Meru’s handphone batteries died. Just then, Meru opens her top shirt (OMG!) to reveal several standby batteries! Oh no! Nozomu has Fuura switch places with Meru because at that spot there is no signal. Because she can’t use her handphone, Meru is turning into a devil, chanting unknown languages (Fuura says she knows that language because her mom speaks it?!) and is going to go on a rampage (just like drug addicts without their usual fix, huh?) when Fuura stops her by whacking her head with an oversized cross. This causes Meru to smash her head on her handphone and breaks it. When Meru comes to, Fuura tells her that there are other ways to communicate and starts to guess what Meru is saying by deeply staring in her eye. Meru sees fear when staring in Fuura’s eyes and runs away after thinking that this girl is dangerous. Must be that scary optimism she sees. Meru tries to escape but Fuura grabs her hand and wants everybody to start expressing their feelings. The next scene is weird because we see some exercise boot camp and the girls all holding hands in a circle while Fuura blabs about her Pororokan planet. Are they implying that we can communicate with aliens this way?
 
After the girl’s physical exams in episode 5, Nozomu decides to test the social worth of his students. First, by personally calling a male student, Kagerou Usui, to a room whereby Nozomu proceeds to ask him to loan 10,000 Yen. Since that amount is too high, anybody in their right mind would decline it. Nozomu gradually decreases the borrowing amount till 50 Yen, in which Usui accepts. With that, Nozomu tells Usui that his human worth is only 50 Yen and decides to give him a smaller classroom table for all that he is worth! Chiri agrees with that idea of justice and decides to give the other students their worth too (by throwing ‘deservingly’ things at their faces?! And what about that part about sleep standing in a cage?!). Talk about degrading and downgrading. Furthermore, Nozomu fears of this himself and decides to die in a luxurious way. Woah. Drinking the best fine wine with a blonde bombshell in a hotel room. Is he sure of wanting to kill himself. In the end, he decides to drown himself in a bowl of Dom Perignon wine. But he didn’t die because we see him at Chie’s office. Like Fuura said, he was saved by his cheap nature. Yeah, the wine was too cheap to die in. Just then, that woman came in and gives him a hefty bill of expenses. Now Nozomu thinks it is really hard to die but a jealous Chiri says otherwise, that it is easy to die. Is she really going to kill him for straying?
 
The other half sees Nozomu going to a hotspring. To his dismay, he finds the other girl students there as well. Playful Maria breaks down the wall barrier of the hotspring bath and ironically, the girls aren’t afraid of their teacher seeing them naked, but Nozomu himself is freaked out upon the idea that the girls sees him naked. Screaming like a girl, isn’t he? Yeah, those girls are real bold. They don’t even mind him looking at them! Especially Matoi and Chiri. Nozomu learns from the girls that this hotspring has some detoxification effect and that they are here to detoxify whatever toxins they have in their body. Nozomu decides to leave after hearing that. The scene changes to Chie and Komori taking a bath together at school. Over the series, I kinda notice that these 2 are like together and there are hints that something suggestive might be going on between them. Back at the hotspring, Nozomu finds that the detoxification really did have an effect on the girls. It just didn’t detoxify the harmful elements in the body, but their characters change as well. Like Kaere, she doesn’t threaten to sue at the slightest displeasure and Meru, her SMS are so polite. Nozomu tries to change his students back to the way they were by saying something about once something detoxified is gone, it feels like there is something missing. After the girls eat unhealthy fast food, they’re back to normal. They suggest Nozomu to it try out. Though Nozomu declines, Fuura tells him not to hold back and pushes him into the hotspring. The girls wait for him to resurface and to their horror only find his spectacles and robe floating. They come up with a conclusion that his whole being is toxic and this is what would come only up after being detoxified. Oh sensei, we will all miss you… Not. The real reason why Nozomu didn’t resurface was because he is being pinned down by Maria at the bottom of the hotspring.
 
In episode 6, Fuura visits a local doctor as she is having a cold. But to her surprise finds Nozomu practicing as a doctor at a clinic. However, it isn’t exactly Nozomu. He is Mikoto Itoshiki, Nozomu’s older brother. Fuura then writes his name on the board horizontally to find that just like in Nozomu’s case, it can be read as ‘zetsumei’ (death). Mikoto is horrified and bangs his head multiple times on the wall saying that because of having such name, he has a hard time finding patients. Hilarious. In my opinion, because of that, Fuura feels better and leaves. Fuura bumps into Chiri in the streets and proceeds to tell her about Mikoto to the extend of bringing her to the clinic as proof. Mikoto then tells them that Nozomu has left for his hometown for an engagement ceremony. I guess Chiri can’t accept this. Due to several coincident, most of the girls boarded the train to Nozomu’s hometown (example, Meru was trying to find signal for her handphone and accidentally steps into the train). Upon reaching their destination, they are being picked up by the Itoshiki’s family butler, Sebastian. They spot Nozomu and when he tries to run away, Sebastian jumps on top of him. Back at the Itoshiki’s large mansion, the girls meet Nozomu’s sister, Rin. Once again, due to the writing of her name, Fuura mispronounce (or was it on purpose) it to be ‘zetsurin’ (peerless in bed). Rin is going to take out her anger at Fuura but is restrained by her guards.
 
Inside the house, the girls learn of their weird traditional engagement ceremony. By looking and staring directly into the eye, both couples become engaged. So in the next 12 hours, whoever Nozomu looks into the eyes of or vice versa, will be engaged to him. The girls are invited to participate, especially Chiri and Matoi who are so into it. During that period, Nozomu tells how he is a master of not looking and tells of various experiences whereby he turned a blind eye. Like a couple doing immoral activities in the alley or a poor stray kitten left to fend itself in a box. He ignored them all. Chiri and Matoi try to get Nozomu to look into their eyes, but that guy is damn good in evading eye contact. Nozomu manages to escape to a storeroom but is surprised to find Komori there (something about being accidentally transported here from school). Nozomu escapes through an underground hatch but it looks like Sebastian has got every inch of the place covered with CCTV cameras and even hired professional ‘lookers’! I don’t know what those 2 guys are looking at each other for as if they’re going to start a fight. Nozomu manages to evade the pros and arrives at a place where he spots a multiple-eyed monsters. In his horror, he faints while the monitor room goes blackout. Chiri then did some clairvoyance thing with her third eye on her forehead because the characters in her kanji name indicates one. When it’s over, Nozomu didn’t get engage and with the girls, decide to head home. Just then, a classmate of theirs, Nami Hitou, tiredly arrives but to her dismay finds everybody is leaving. Poor girl. All that trip for nothing. In the train, Nozomu notices Kaere’s eye panties, which causes him to faint again.
 
In episode 7, Harumi Fujiyoshi is rushing in the streets with her doujinshi work (OMG! She’s a yaoi lover!!!) when she bumps into Nozomu. He tells her that he too does doujinshi but apparently he thinks this doujinshi is something else. Fan made publication for poets? Harumi invites Nozomu to a doujinshi exhibition since she herself is participating there. At the exhibition, the otakus are thinking that Nozomu must be some cosplay character. Not only that, Nozomu fails to sell his doujinshi work. I don’t think that’s the kind of genre that should be displayed here. Fuura then appears and decide to buy one. Matoi thinks it’s a ploy to get Nozomu to fall in love with her so Matoi buys the whole stack. Meanwhile at Harumi’s booth, Chiri approaches her and chides her for doing such work. Chiri decides to have Harumi ‘properly’ do her doujinshi at school by teaching her do a 4 panel doujinshi which includes a panel each for introduction, development, turning point and conclusion. Nozomu then overhears their conversation and decides to tell them about the 5th panel called darkness. All to which, leads to pain. Huh? The later part sees the girls in their yukata for a summer festival. Here a bunch of overzealous people decides to hype things up by putting them up on a pedestal. Yeah, they could praise and hype just about anything. Really. Even the girls aren’t spared. Not even normal girl, Nami. She hates it when people calls her normal but I guess she has no choice seeing that there isn’t anything on her which stands out. "Don’t call me normal!". Sometimes I find it hard to differentiate between Nami and Fuura because they look quite close. Chie is watching from a distance how those bunch are praising a stalker and a hikikomori as she herself wonders if there is anybody who would put her up on a pedestal.
 
It’s ironic for a person who has been ignored for the most of his life to have an episode dedicated to him. Well, not really. In episode 8, Usui narrates how his entire life people seems to miss him out. Even pictures of him are blurred out. You wonder why he even existed in the first place. Usui bumps into a guy who doesn’t even know what he bumped into and a car which nearly collided into him. Nearby, Nozomu is telling his students about hiding in the shade. In short, being an outcast. Yeah, they leave poor Usui behind too. At the pool, perverted guys are surrounding Kaere lying on a deckchair in a bikini when a voluptuous Chie comes by, thus putting Kaere in the shade. Literally. Then Nozomu finds a 1000 Yen on the ground and decides to report it to the police but when Fuura comes by with a briefcase full of money, this puts him back into the shade. Soon Fuura demonstrates a shadow quiz and reveals to the rest Usui, whom nobody seems to recognize. Usui claims he is the real class president as opposed to Chiri. But since it’s always assumed that Chiri was the class president, I guess she has no qualms of going with the flow. Fuura then says that it isn’t possible for a non-existent person like Usui to exist and concludes that he is a fairy. Can it get more absurd than this? Anyway Usui runs away from all that. Sad.
 
Later, Chie brings Nozomu to class in chains. Nozomu thinks that his students are criticizing him and starts his usual negative ranting on how people can’t go on living normally after receiving criticisms. Well, Nozomu thought of killing himself when he felt hurt by their criticisms. But when Chiri says go ahead, he backs out and changes the subject to criticism drills. A man from the fire department then enters the class and starts criticizing everyone in the name of criticising drill exercise. I think they’re more of insults rather than anything else. More of grilling rather than drilling. "Buttface. Gumpoo. Attractive in a normal way. Weird hairdo lady". Why, he even SMS a mean text to Meru, which sends her crying! Nozomu notices how vilifying insults are flying across the room and Maria thinks it’s some kind of dinosaur. Vilifisaur. Usui thinks he is next to be criticized but to his horror finds the guy criticizing the person behind him. Haha. Seen right through him. Is that good or bad? Then a wind of change which blows Usui’s hair over revealing his bald spot. With that, Usui has become ‘visible’ and everyone starts noticing him. Usui thinks that he’ll now be criticized by everyone and starts criticizing himself first. Didn’t work. Everybody is staring at his bald spot and their stares are painfully pierceful. Is this the kind of attention he wants? Better off being a nobody, would he? Fuura notices this and tries to solve this problem by calling Chie. Fuura wants Chie to quickly criticize Usui. Her reason? If he’s going to be criticized, might as well be criticized by a beautiful person. In a way it will seem less cruel. And I thought Fuura was going to bring Chie to calm everyone down. Ah well, normal common sense don’t work for this positive girl. Usui finds it very calming and wants Chie to go on criticizing him and the latter is happy to oblige. Disgusting baldie! Suddenly, the wind blows his hair over, making him invisible once more. During that, Maria gives Nozomu a Vilifisaur kick. In the end, we see Chie giving more flowery criticisms to Usui. With that, a bunch of male losers queue up a long line just to get some from her. "Please insult me as well". Losers.
 
Episode 9 has the girls doing a spot the difference puzzle when Nozomu comes by and tells them to spot the mistakes in their lives. Yup, another round of negativity and he even give examples like his own existence. Nozomu shows 2 similar pictures and tells his students to spot the difference but they look the same. So don’t go have your eyes checked. He even makes the class go on a guilty conscious by making them think of the mistakes they have made. Everyone sinks into gloominess except happy-go-lucky Maria. As Nozomu tries to prove otherwise to her, Fuura counters it all by saying that everything isn’t a mistake. That’s because mistakes were once correct so if the person who has done a mistake, confesses his/her wrong, he/she will be correct. Get it? Soon, several outsiders come up to Fuura to confirm whether her theory is true or not by confessing their wrongdoings and crimes. Fuura then assures them that they are correct. Woah! Even a criminal admits his wrongdoings and was sent to jail. But because of that, he thinks it’s correct! What a turn around! We could use this explanation in the real world. Not. Suddenly a little boy, Majiru, appears and Nozomu tries to convince his class that this kid isn’t his son. Why did they think Majiru is Nozomu’s child? Well, he looks like a chibi version of Nozomu. Better hurry before Chiri and Matoi slice you into pieces. They found out Majiru is Nozomu’s nephew. Phew.
 
I’m not sure why Majiru turned up but he seems to be hanging around Nozomu’s class and the girls are quite fond of this cute fella. Nozomu is irritated by this fact and wonders if this nephew of his is the real one. Soon he starts asking the class if they are his real students by demanding some sort of proof. Chiri then shows her student ID but Nozomu deems it insufficient because it can be faked. Chiri goes about trying to prove that she is the real Chiri by telling Nozomu about things she herself would only know, even if it’s embarrassing. Like her curly hair when she was young. With that, Nozomu accepts. Nozomu then goes over to ‘pick on’ Nami followed by Maria (whom she answered all his questions correct so Nozomu thinks she is the real Maria). However, as for the rest, there are dark embarrassing secrets which they don’t want others to find out. Yeah, Meru has never called on her handphone before… Due to this, Nozomu cannot accept them as their real identity. Majiru then questions back to Nozomu to prove that he is their real teacher. The students starts ganging up and demands Nozomu to prove his real identity or is he an impostor. Right back at ‘cha. Nozomu realized that he has nothing to prove that he is the real thing. Is he even doubting himself? He’s in suicidal mode but before he could hang himself, Fuura says that a teacher wouldn’t say such things and that Nozomu is a wonderful teacher. Everyone starts to agree. Nozomu wonders how he is like and the students start describing him on a piece of paper. Nozomu is surprised to see his description and says "Who the hell am I?!". Well well. Looks like the students do have a different Nozomu in mind. Nozomu runs away on a journey. Looks like he ended up in Russia and can’t remember who he is. Later, the girls find out Majiru has a fetish for hair and Fuura wants to let Majiru touch Chiri’s hair. When Majiru does, Chiri’s long straight hair uncoils to be a messy curly one, freaking out Majiru. She look like Medusa. Poor Majiru. He’s cowering in fear. I hope he doesn’t grow up to have fear of hair and turn into a baldie.
 
Nozomu announces the upcoming school cultural festival in episode 10. But he thinks that there is nothing cultured about it so he declines to participate. But he soon allow his students to do one as long as it has minimal cultural standard in it. They go through various ideas but Nozomu rejected them all for being too cultured. Fed up, Chiri tells him to hold a class with minimal standards, which surprises Nozomu. So in the end, their school cultural is some bean growing exhibit. Sad case. Earlier on, Chiri tried to do a stand up comedian joke by saying "This is where the competition parts", in reference to her hair parting. It seems several young kids are copying her. Is it a new fad or just teasing? The second half sees Nozomu and his girls going on a field trip to Kyoto. However, this is just a preview trip and the girls wonder if it was necessary to bring them along. Because of this, they are not permitted to touch or see anything because it’s just a preview. Also, Fuura is seen reading a very detailed and thick travel itinery for their field trip, written by Chiri. The next destination is to some preview temple. It’s so ironic to see the temple monks going to an internet porn site but got fell into despair when he finds out it was just a preview. Anything more, they need to pay. Isn’t the real world like this? The monk even takes them to see a preview of love. Some guy watching a girl entering her house for 365 straight days after falling in love with her. Isn’t that stalking? What about previewing a girl’s body by inspecting dolls. What the? What kind of monk is this?! Then Nozomu invites Chiri to preview the ceremony site with him. Chiri is happy and hopes it doesn’t just end with a preview. But it was a preview of his graveyard instead. In Chiri’s rage, she takes the tombstone and smack Nozomu’s head. Obviously, she felt it took a long time doing that itinery and wants Nozomu to give back her schedule. Nozomu is seen in a coma (Chiri must be real sorry) but Fuura say that there is no such thing as he is previewing the afterlife. After Nozomu has recovered, he return to class saying that their field trip will be to Okinawa. Which means, that preview was useless in the first place.
 
The girls are watching an awful movie in episode 11 and are relating their disappointment to one another when the director of the movie that he just followed the normal way. What does he mean by that? As the girls try to chase him, they come across several alleys and witness several people trying to follow the normal way in order not to be blamed or shift their blame to somebody else. I mean, if one did follow the normal way, one can’t be blame for doing something different when it does wrong, right? Well, running away isn’t just going to solve the problem, right? As perfectionist Chiri can’t accept them, Nozomu tries to convince her when he accidentally touched her boobs. Chiri wants him to take responsibility. Nozomu tries to escape and ends up at a path split into 2. A sign says "Ignore" while the other states "Marry". How should he choose? Ee-ni-mi-ni-mai-ni-mo. Catch-a-donkey-by-its-toe. Okay, so it’s "Ignore". While walking down this street, Nozomu is relieve to know that regardless of the choice taken, once the decision is made, one feels much better. Is it? Does he have any conscience? But then, Chiri appears in front of him with a knife and rushes towards him before stabbing him in his back! OMG! Fuura, Majiru and Matoi arrives to see Nozomu dead on the ground but this time they spot 2 knives on his back! Luckily, the end note state that they were just toys. Remember, depending on the decision made, you reap what you sow.
 
In the second part, Nozomu is resting at his home during the school holidays and wonders when Majiru will go home. Even Komori is hiding in his closet as a break from school. Harumi then barges in and tells Nozomu to quickly pack his important stuff and run away. Why? Because at this point of year, Chiri will go on a cleaning spree. And due to her perfectionist behaviour, she’s going to clean the entire neighbourhood from head to toe. Just like Harumi’s. Too late, Chiri has arrived and starts cleaning. Chiri starts throwing things deemed useless to her, even though it belongs to Nozomu. In short, she throws out almost everything and thus the house is ‘clean and spotless’. Literally. Nozomu goes through the garbage bag to reclaim all his possessions when Fuura and Maria shows up to share cake with everyone. Chiri is upset with Nozomu’s slob behaviour because Nozomu decides to go to sleep. He notes that if he’s not allowed to go into eternal sleep, at least he wants to hibernate. Chiri thinks it’s impossible for humans to hibernate but Nozomu doesn’t care if he’s human. Fuura then says that humans do hibernate and gives several examples of her twisted version of ‘hibernating’ humans. So when spring comes, they’ll come back alive. Nozomu decides to hibernate with Komori in the closet when Chiri gives him that scary piercing stare which made him cower in fear. Furthermore, Fuura decides a group hibernation since the closet is too small. After sealing the place air tight and burning some charcoal for heat, everyone goes to sleep. However, Chiri doesn’t allow Nozomu to sleep because she thinks he hasn’t atone for his sins yet. So she try to give irritating simulations (like saying mosquito buzzing around the ear) to prevent him from Nozomu as he try to counter her attempts (like sleeping pills down the throat). Nozomu lost. Just then, they start to feel dizzy and notice that the charcoal is actual carbon monoxide poisoning! Quick open the doors! Nearly slept for eternity. The girls also notice Nozomu not around. He is somewhere taking deep breaths and is thinking of hanging himself since that everything has left him in despair when a stray tram comes in his direction. From the way things look, it really did hit him as we see his broken spectacles. Matoi can only watch in horror behind the lamp post. Chiri and Fuura arrived to late. In the end, every student is waiting anxiously outside the operation room. Fuura maintains a positive face saying that he’ll be alright. But from the last scene, we hear Nozomu’s voice in surprise tone. Is he okay? Did he cheat death by the skin of his teeth?
 
But whatever happened in the previous episode’s cliffhanger, the producer sure didn’t continue on that. Nozomu is perfectly fine in episode 12 as though that accident never happened. He just can’t die, can’t he? Instead, this final episode introduces yet another 2 of Nozomu’s students. The first half sees a guilt complex girl named Ai Kaga. She thinks everything she does is due to her fault. So why haven’t we seen her in previous episodes? Ai claims that she got out of the camera’s way in fear that she would be a hindrance to the show. Even if she isn’t the main character. Her profusely apologizing ways for the slightest thing kinda remind me of Ritsu from Fruits Basket. It’s exaggerative and ridiculous. If everyone else have such complex, would the world be a better place? Nozomu gives more negative examples of people avoiding doing something because they think it would be a bother. He also thinks this is the mentality of the people of Japan. Ai then runs out of the class. While wandering around, she fears that she might cause some trouble for browsing a shop but the shop owner too apologizes. Then as she calm down at a cafe with Fuura and Nozomu, the waiter and cook seems to be apologetic as well because they fear their food isn’t to their taste. Why, a car accident just occurred nearby and when the 2 tough drivers got out and is seemingly going to fight. Unexpectedly, they felt guilty and started apologizing. Soon, this guilt complex is so infectious that everybody starts apologizing! Wow! Nozomu then realized that he is a bother in Tokyo (his presence will lower the value of Tokyo, that is) and decides to run away with Ai to another place. Upon reaching Okinawa, the duo too think that they are a bother here and everywhere else (heck, even his existence is a bother) and decides to hang himself. It looked like a bungee jump… Okay, maybe Nozomu finally successfully killed himself because we see the girls weeping at his coffin during his funeral. All the girls think it’s their fault that Nozomu died when Nozomu springs out from the coffin (Matoi lying next to him?) and proclaims that it is his fault that he died. All the girls are happy as they rush over to hug him.
 
The second student introduce in the second half is Mayo Mitama, who narrates how people tend to misunderstand her due to her evil-looking eyes. Nozomu caught her playing a ding dong ditch (ringing the doorbell and then run away) and when the owner comes out, he accuses Nozomu. I’m not sure whether Mayo’s eyes send some shiver down that owner’s spine when he shifts the blame on her to Nozomu. To cut things short, the moral of this story is that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Even if a person looks evil, one shouldn’t judge and accuse them of being evil at first sight. Just like in Mayo’s case. Uh huh. So by using this theory and twisted logic, because Mayo looks evil, people shouldn’t jump to conclusions that she did bad stuff, even if she was the culprit. Yeah right… No matter how the rest try to reason that Mayo isn’t a bad girl, somehow Nozomu seems to witness bad things done by her one after another. Like sticking a stick in a dog’s butt! Isn’t that obvious?! Well, Fuura mentions that it’s raining sticks in dogs. WTF?! As Nozomu argue over the lack of evidence, Mayo runs away. But if you talk about evidence, it’s getting obvious because we see the other girls in despair like Matoi’s wall pictures of Nozomu being nailed in the nose, Abiru’s tail collection being replaced with something else, and Meru’s handphone totally being reset. Down the path of evil! Then Mayo was going to stick a pole down Kaere’s butt when Nozomu manages to take it away in time. Only thing is, that accidentally happened so Kaere slapped him. Nozomu tries to say it’s Mayo but after Kaere looks at Mayo’s eyes, she says she’ll introduce her to a good lawyer. Looks like she still thinks it’s Nozomu. With that, Nozomu accepts that Mayo can’t do bad things and apologizes to her. Back at Nozomu’s place, we see Majiru entering a room when Mayo appears and whacks him on his head from behind with a bat. Even if Nozomu and Fuura witnessed it, they wouldn’t believe it was her because the evidence is too perfect. Though Majiru points to Mayo as the culprit, Nozomu slams him for judging a person by its appearance. Not even when Mayo hits Nozomu with a brick on the head or blows up his house! They can’t think of her as a bad person! Mayo then reveals how she loves teasing anything she likes as Nozomu hugs her. Maria then says Mayo is a tsundere.
 
For those who can’t get more of those hilarious despair, there is a second season called Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I think I’ll wait for the subs for the entire series to come out first, then I’ll have a go to see what more despair awaits Nozomu. I also like the twisted reasoning and logic from Fuura. You could say they are ‘creative’ in a way. I could never have come up with such ideas. While it is good to remain positive at all times, but I’m sure there is a limit on how feasible that reasoning should be. Oh yes, I later found out that Fuura’s name isn’t her real name, but just a pen name of some European author. And Chiri, you don’t want to make her mad because she can really turn into a scary person. As each of the other characters have their own unique and weird personalities, it’s hard for me to say which one I like best. There are other minor student characters too which make minimal appearances from time to time like Jun Kudou (his stories can move people to tears) and Kotokon (a fat ugly girl who has a heavily photoshopped pic of herself on the internet to make her look attractive). Then there are other minor extra background characters which the producers don’t even draw their face. Just blank. To the most, they just put a round red chop bearing their name on it.
 
One thing I want to mention is the drawing and art. At first glance, it may not be your typical standard Japanese anime drawing. But because of the simple lines, combined with the right mix of shading and colour, I find that the art are quite well done. And at certain points and in certain lights, the girls kinda remind me of Enma Ai of Jigoku Shoujo (especially Komori). I also notice that the pattern on the hakama dress Nozomu wears, seems to be ‘still’ in a particular position no matter where Nozomu goes. Meaning, it doesn’t move along with the rest of the body. There are several traditional sketches, illustrations and pictures or even short cinematic movies which I believe to serve as scene changer and has nothing to do with that episode’s particular topic.
 
Another point I want note is that, there are short scribbles or sayings usually written on the blackboard or some wall. Each time the scene changes, the writings will be different. I don’t know what those writings are trying to imply since it’s too small to read and it changes so fast. Though I know some are just for fun and have no real implication whereas some do sound like assertive statements to quotes from some other references. Beside this, there are also a lot of onscreen writings like when the characters list down examples, the screen will be cluttered with them. The fansub group did a pretty good job in subbing each and every sentence, though it was too fast for me to read everything at one go. So much so, this stopping and pausing just to read them becomes so much tiring that I just decided "If I can read them, I read lah. If not, forget it". Ah, such negative thinking. Your Japanese literacy must be damn good in order to read everything. And fast. There are tons of trivia and cultural references for viewers to spot. Other than that, I notice an appearance of a real life bald bearded bespectacled guy (I think he’s called Mr Abe). Though his appearance is just a head shot in a circle, it usually appears as a censor mark or a replacement symbol of something like the school’s clock or a traffic light.
 
The fansubbers also did quite a good job by putting the meaning and implication of the character’s kanji name at the end of the episode. While they do that, note the Don’t Worry Be Happy theme song in the background. How apt. I also like the way they leave a note at the end of the show to tell viewers how they’ll leave them in even more despair for next week’s show. I think we’ll be leaving with lots of laughter. I love the nicknames that the show gives the characters in the series. Such as:
 
Nozomu = Super Negative Teacher
Fuura = Super Positive Girl
Chiri = Methodical And Uptight Girl
Matoi = Super Loving Stalker Girl
Komori = Hikikomori Girl
Kaere/Kaede = Bilingual Personalities Girl
Meru = Abusive Email Girl
Maria = Illegal Student Returnee Girl
Abiru = Tail Lover Alleged Victim Of DV Girl
Harumi = Ear Fetish Pairing Addiction Girl
Nami = Normal Girl (Hahaha, what a normal statement)
Usui = Lacking In Hair And Presence
Ai = Guilt Complex Girl
Mayo = Exactly The Way She Looks
 
There are a range of background music, ranging from dramatic to just casual. Unlike most animes, this is the only short anime series that I have known to have 2 opening themes and 1 ending theme. Most animes, long running or short, would have more ending themes than its opening. The 1st opening theme, Hito To Shite Jiku Ga Burete Iru, kinda reminds me of NHK Ni Youkouso’s opening theme. Because it has that wild singing just like its lyrics but not as wild as the latter. Just enough. The animation of this opening theme then changes to one with lots of sexual references as opposed to original text slide. I’m sure this has garnered lots of complaints. The 2nd opening theme is Gouin Ni Mai Yeah, and only lasts for 2 episodes and is cluttered with lots of nonsensical sayings before the opening reverts back to its original in the final one. The ending theme, Zesshin Bijin, sounds like Broadway and though the animation is not as disturbing as the opening, but it’s still weird nevertheless.
 
The voice acting is also quite good. Hiroshi Kamiya voices Nozomu and Mikoto (Yuuta in Honey And Clover), Ai Nonaka as Fuura (Mikan of Manabi Straight), Marina Inoue as Chiri (Kana in Minami-ke), Miyuki Sawashiro as Maria (Shinku of Rozen Maiden), Yu Kobayashi as Kaere/Kaede (Lala Gonzalez in School Rumble), Asami Sanada as Matoi (Dejiko in Di Gi Charat), Yuko Goto as Abiru (Asahina of Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu). I found out Meru’s voice actress changes in every episode that she has lines. Not that I really notice.
 
Watching this anime made me reflect and think of all those examples. Thinking back, I myself have been a ‘victim’ and guilty of those circumstances. Hehe. Living in today’s world definitely has us feeling lots and lots of despair. It would be good if we could turn all that negative energy and channel it into a positive one. But how often does that happen. Though dying may seem like the easy way out, you won’t learn anything by doing so. Oh no! I’ve just realized something. Ever since I’ve watched this show, I realized that I’ve become addicted to it and being an anime otaku, my social life has been deteriorating! Zetsubou shita! This series and the anime world has left me with full of despair!!! But I like it…
 
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

Melissa

August 8, 2008

  Kimi no te de kirisaite,
  Tooi hi no kioku wo,
  Kanashimi no iki no ne wo tomete kure yo,
  Saa ai ni kogareta mune wo tsuranuke
 
There are some anime songs which I need to hear several times before I really like them and there are some which instantly goes into my list of favourite songs just after the first time. This particular song, Melissa, falls under the latter category. Being the 1st opening theme song from the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist, I guess it is one of the other minor reasons which get me to watch the anime. Well of course, the other main reason was because since I read that there were good reviews about the show and at the same time the local tv station decides to air it. But that was a long time ago.
 
  Asu ga kuru hazu no sora wo mite,
  Mayou bakari no kokoro moteamashiteru,
  Katawara no tori ga habataita,
  Doko ka hikari wo mitsukerareta no ka na
 
This pop rock song is sung by Porno Graffitti. Pop rock because in my opinion I think the tune and beat of this song isn’t so heavy. Just like a rock band being tuned down a little. So don’t expect to hear any screaming or shouting from the top of their lungs. When the song starts, listeners will be greeted with with a creative solo bass accompanied with a light beat before everything else comes into play. I find the flow of the song to be quite consistant and catchy. So it is no surprise that I sometimes get up and move my body and sing along with the flow of the music as though I’m the main star :).
 
  Naa omae no se ni ore mo nosete kurenai ka,
  Soshite ichiban takai toko de okizari ni shite yasashisa kara toozakete
 
Unfortunately, this song has got no karaoke version. What a disappointment. It would’ve been one of those songs which I could sing without any major glitches because I think I sound quite close to the singer himself (yeah right, yeah right). Okay, maybe at least because there aren’t any tough lines, which makes this song quite managable. So you guessed it, I’ll be doing a duet with the singer. Or sometimes as the background vocals. Speaking of which, there are quite a few of them nicely placed, especially during the chorus. As for the lyrics, sometimes I find that some of the lines are too fast and given that I’m still not quite proficient at Japanese, I find myself fumbling on the words.
 
  Kimi no te de kagi wo kakete,
  Tamerai nado nai darou,
  Machigatte mo nidoto aku koto no nai you ni,
  Saa jou no ochiru oto de owarasete
 
I wonder if there are any guitar and bass tabs for this particular song. Well, maybe if I wasn’t so lazy, I could’ve known whether they exists or not. Though the solo guitaring isn’t anything to shout about, but I really wish that I could play like that with an electric guitar. Sounds quite simple. Okay, perhaps I’m just better off just singing this song.
 
  Sukui no nai tamashii wa,
  Nagasarete kieyuku,
  Kieteyuku shunkan ni wazuka hikaru,
  Ima tsuki ga michiru yoru wo umidasu no sa…
 
Fullmetal Alchemist

Minami-ke

August 2, 2008

This show seems to bring back memories of Ichigo Mashimaro and Lucky Star. Yeah, Minami-ke is another one of those slice of life comedies. How does it remind me of those 2 animes? Well, there isn’t really a plot except it just show the daily ordinary lives of 3 ordinary sisters but told in an extraordinary way. Just like Ichigo Mashimaro. In addition, the skits are divided into several parts, in which they may or may not be related to each other, but are connected to the theme of that particular episode. Just like Lucky Star.
 
Those who enjoy those 2 series would definitely enjoy watching this one too. Of course, as mentioned by the opening narration, don’t expect too much. But expect to laugh out loud at their silly antics. So we are introduced to the 3 Minami sisters, living by themselves and supporting each other throughout their daily lives. Not sure the whereabouts of their parents, but I’m sure it’s the cute girls that we are wanting to know, right? :)
 
The eldest sister is Haruka. She plays the motherly role by taking care of her younger 2 siblings. She is quite graceful and soft-spoken but at times can be nasty whenever she needs to put her feet down. The middle child is Kana. You could say that she is the slightly dumb troublemaker. But she won’t match the mischief of Miu from Ichigo Mashimaro. Kana is the kind of girl who leaps before looking. In other words, speaks her mind without thinking. Because of this, Kana is partly the main reason why this series is funny as she adds a little ‘spice’ to the daily lives of the Minami sisters and those around them. But sometimes I think, life would be more pleasant without her. Finally, the youngest sister, Chiaki, has that sleepy look. She’s not a lazy person, but rather quite a rude gal to everyone except Haruka, whom she looks up and loves very much. Her very insult word is bakayaro, which means dumbass. To Chiaki, everyone is a bakayaro, especially Kana, except Haruka whom she’s quite attached with.
 
There are several other characters which revolves around the school going Minami sisters. They are mainly their classmates and we’ll get to know them as the episodes goes by in this 13 episode series. As seen in episode 1, we are introduced to the Minami sisters. This episode sees Chiaki having to reluctantly help Kana make dinner because the latter doesn’t know how to cook. If leave it all alone to Kana, the meal will turn out to more than just a disaster. Unfortunately, it turned out to be that. You know dumping lots of fruit into the pot doesn’t make it taste fruitier. What on earth is that cream stew?! They put everything in the pot and expect a pancake out of it? Also, in nearly each episode, there is a tearjerker television love drama series called Sensei And Ninomiya-kun, in which the main characters mainly have lines of saying each other’s name. This absurdly short series usually ends on a tragic note. Which in a way makes it funny. Due to that kissing scene in that show, Chiaki is asking questions about it. Haruka is quite embarrassed about the topic and wants Kana to explain it to her. Though in the end, yuri Kana lock lips with Chiaki! Woah! Chiaki’s first kiss stolen by her bakayaro sister! She gives her a deserved slap. Later in this episode, we see Kana trying to play mind games with her classmate Keiko and make her feel guilty about the former’s hunger. Kana’s other boy classmate and football club member, Fujioka, has a crush on her and decides to put a love letter in Kana’s shoebox. Kana is excited of receiving it and rushes back home to give Chiaki read aloud that letter. To us normal viewers, it sounded like a typical confession and love letter. Amazingly, Chiaki twists the meaning of every word in this letter and interprets it to be a challenge letter! So the next day when Kana confronts Fujioka, she kicks him in the shin (as interpreted as a footballer’s sign of weakness)! And Fujioka thought he was getting a reply. He did. Kana goes back home and gives Chiaki the thumbs up that her challenge was a success. People, remember that a love letter is a love letter no matter how you look at it. So don’t start doubting your boyfriend/girlfriend already.
 
Episode 2 sees Haruka’s classmate, Maki, trying to get her attention that she’s quitting school but nobody’s paying attention to her. So after much begging, Haruka decides to play along and asks why she’s quitting. Maki’s reply is because of the short skirt which allows one to see their panties. Maki then accidentally sees Haruka’s panties while looking under the table but before Maki could say anything out loud, Haruka gives her that scary impression, which is enough to make Maki understand her position and back down. The next skit has the word ‘weird’ the word of the episode. It all started when Kana thinks Haruka will be doing something weird and that there is a boy since the latter has to stay back late for a committee meeting. Of course Haruka doesn’t want Kana to say weird things nor give weird ideas to Chiaki. Due to the word substitution, you could say the misinterpretation is there. So when Chiaki’s classmates invite her to play, Chiaki wonders if they would do anything weird. Thus back at her home, and tells her sisters that they did weird things, Haruka and Kana are shocked and Haruka accidentally mentions how she hasn’t did so yet. Aha… Later in the episode, Chiaki’s classmate, Makoto, another one of those hyper loudmouths with no brains, wants Chiaki to give nicknames to everybody. Chiaki reluctantly does which resulted everyone in her class to be depressed because they’re quite insulting. Even Makoto admits that he’s dumb after being given such a nickname! So what nickname did Chiaki gave herself? Hime (princess), of course. Who would ever give a bad nickname for him/herself. Chiaki, the queen of giving nicknames, I’d say. Later Chiaki reprimands Makoto in doing his cleaning duties and that poor guy stood outside the class with a pail of water until who knows when. I guess, everyone just ignores him. Back home, Kana tries to prevent Chiaki from studying because it made the former look bad. I think without it, there isn’t any difference either. So as they test each other (I think those questions won’t appear in school exams), as usual, Kana looks bad. Even when they try to get help from their seemingly perfect Haruka, she herself too has some difficulties, but swiftly changed the topic to making dinner. Slick.
 
The test results are out in episode 3 and Kana isn’t happy that her smart pal Keiko has scored 100% as opposed to her 65%. Because of that, Kana chides and once again play guilty minds with Keiko. Something about scoring 100% isn’t human… Not when Fujioka appears, did Kana decides to challenge him. However, Fujioka always beat her no matter how Kana even tried to alter the marks! Trying to be a smart alec or real desperate. Too bad, girl. This is what you deserve. So when Fujioka finally asks for Kana to fulfil her promise, she kicks his leg instead! Sore loser! Back home, Kana learns that even Chiaki did very well in her exams so that troublemaker decides to drink all the milk in the fridge. Chiaki then tells Kana that Haruka needs to use those milk to make dinner. Kana has fallen sick after drinking all that milk to go buy some. So after another round of ticking off from Kana about Chiaki not being able to be a good wife, they try to make another meal, which ends up in another horrible looking one. Can anybody survive that? Haruka comes home and the 2 try their best not to let Haruka eat their poison cooking. So when Haruka finally makes dinner, they declare her the winner. Later as Kana is sleeping alone in classroom, she is being approached by Fujioka. He finally confesses to her. I guess Kana doesn’t really know the meaning of it as she excitedly rushes back home to ask master Chiaki (she interpreted that love letter, remember?) what does it all mean. Chiaki tells her that this is some sort of trick to get her defences down. Yeah, right. So whenever Fujioka approaches Kana, the latter will be in defensive mode. Poor Fujioka thinks he may have offended her. Surprisingly, Chiaki comes home 1 day to find Fujioka at their place. He’s being invited by Kana not because she wants to return his love but rather, wants to use him as a guinea pig to taste the curry she made the other day. Haruka returns and Fujioka had dinner with them. Haruka mentions to Chiaki how Fujioka resembles like their father. I don’t know why, but Chiaki decides to snugly sit in between Fujioka’s lap. Since the atmosphere is getting friendly, Kana thinks that Fujioka is trying to snatch her sisters away. "Killing 3 birds with 1 stone". In Kana’s haste, she quickly kicks Fujioka out and tells him to never set foot here again, leaving everybody else wondering what’s going on.
 
A relative named Takeru seems to be sitting outside the Minami’s apartment in episode 4. They let him inside and finds out that he has broken up with his girlfriend and is feeling depressed. Haruka cooks a meal for him and during dinner, he gets a phone call from his girlfriend. I think she wants to have him back so in his happiness, he leaves the apartment. Kana tells Chiaki not to let him in again and the next day when Chiaki once again sees him waiting outside, she refuses to let him in because of what Kana had said. I presumed broken up again. At school, we see that a girl named Riko has a crush on Fujioka but could only watch from a distance. She is suspicious and jealous of Kana’s relationship with him. So when she went to talk to Keiko, it’s kinda weird to see everytime Keiko tries to escape, Riko starts pulling her ponytail. Riko eavesdropping on them turns out to be a misinterpretation for her because she thinks they’re quite close (after he ate her curry) and Kana’s family as well (that friendly atmosphere during dinner). Riko decides to be friends with Kana to get closer to Fujioka but since Kana know who she is already, she walks away. Riko than pulls her hair and Kana retaliates too. But they both tugged Keiko’s skirt when the latter is trying to get away from it all. Looks like she can’t. Hehe. Back home, Kana and Chiaki are having a challenge through a video game to see who will go out in the rain to buy pudding. That game seems to be that Sensei And Ninomiya-kun parody of other video games like Mario. Because it’s so tough, the duo died easily with ‘Bad End’. WTF?! When Haruka returns, she finds them totally engrossed in the game. What about the pudding? All forgotten about it. At school during gym, Haruka’s classmate, Hayami and her senior, Hosaka, plots to have Haruka join the volleyball team. While Hayami has that scheming look, Hosaka is one of those guys full of himself and having feelings for Haruka. So it seems Hosaka tries to get info on Haruka by talking to Haruka’s reluctant pals like Maki. Whatever the girls said, Hosaka seems to be glorifying the events with his fantasy simulation. The reason why he wants Haruka on the team is because he wants her to wipe his sweat. What the? Yeah, talk about misinterpreting the situation too. He thinks Haruka is raising children when the girls mention that she has ‘2 little children’ to take care off. He goes off envisioning 1 of his sick fantasy about him being the dad, Haruka as his lovely wife while Kana and Chiaki are his 2 little mischievous kids. I think it’s best to leave him in his fantasy, no matter how silly he looks or even if Haruka is standing right in front of him. Go on, laugh like an idiot.
 
The gang heads to the beach in episode 5. The sisters are trying on their swimsuits only to find that they no longer fit into it. Ahem ahem. Kana and Chiaki decides to go buy for themselves and Haruka since the latter has to stay home to cook dinner. Haruka is surprised to find that they have bought a bikini for her but can’t refuse it since Chiaki approved it. But before they could head to the beach, it started raining. Kana decides to use Chiaki as a teruterubouzu (wish doll) and it seems she’s doing some negotiations with the rain cloud! Can it work? Yeah, seems like it’s working. But it soon starts to rain when Chiaki mood changes. Better be careful. The next day when Chiaki’s friends come by, they see her hanging like a teruterubouzu! And Kana’s still at it. Kana shows them Chiaki’s negotiation power to stop the rain and the whole gang gains a new respect for Chiaki. Luckily it’s all sunny when the girls head to the beach (you can thank Chiaki for it) but Haruka is too shy to show her bikini piece and remains clothed. Attempts to make Haruka take off her clothes failed. Not until Haruka’s pals showed up and she saw how busty they are, did she decide to reveal her skimpy swimsuit. Later as everyone goes to buy drinks, Kana and Chiaki have another round of quarrels. You should really be amazed with the quotable insults Chiaki comes up with. She’s telling Kana "Her level is like a slipper", "Your value to me is diminishing", and "Your idiocracy is skyrocketing". Woah. This causes Kana to run away. Chiaki regrets her actions when their friends come back. But Kana soon returns and back to her idiotic self when she puts a seashell on Chiaki’s head and tells her to be a kappa this time. She deserves a big slap. And Chiaki thought she was going to redeem herself. The sisters return home tanned and Chiaki receives a call from her friend, Uchida, who notes how it’s nice to have different sisters. Haruka then says that she loves them both because they’re unique. This made Chiaki and Kana to feel very touched as they both approached her. Kana then put a bowl on Chiaki’s head and says she’s a kappa. It won’t take a genius to guess that Chiaki throws the bowl back at Kana for spoiling the mood.
 
In episode 6, Makoto tries to prevent Chiaki’s classmates, Yoshino and Uchida, from going to study at her place, but ends up getting invited too. Well, anything as long as he stops his antics. Back at Chiaki’s place, Makoto seems to be wasting his time talking to Kana but once he sets his eyes on the charming Haruka, it’s like he’s falling in love with her and even goes help her out with her chores. What about studying? Chiaki notices how close Makoto is to her beloved Haruka and gets pissed off. Woah! She ripped her book in half! So when Makoto decides another group study, Chiaki instantly rejects. Because of that, Chiaki coldly ignores Makoto and that blur guy wonders why. It’s no surprise that Chiaki starts throwing things at him when he comes approaching her and calling her princess. He broke the ice. More like broke her patience. A short unrelated skit sees the Minami sisters watching the Sensei And Ninomiya-kun drama when a blackout occurs. Chiaki then wants Haruka to report and take action to the relevant authorities. Kana, after hearing Makoto’s situation (of how she wants to be closer to Haruka), decides to invite him over to her apartment and with the help of Uchida, gives Makoto a total make-over. That is, they turned Makoto into a girl and calls him Mako-chan. I don’t know what Makoto was blabbing about his manliness but donned girl clothing soon after. When Chiaki comes home, Kana introduces Mako-chan to her. It’s quite hilarious to see Chiaki’s idiocracy measurement vision. While her scanning shows Uchida as 50%, and Kana 100%, due to insufficient data on Mako-chan, she can’t determine her idiocracy level. Is the disguise so good that Chiaki has been fooled? Well, even Haruka couldn’t tell so much so when she undresses right in front of them! Makoto must be having the nosebleed of his life! His face turned as red as a traffic light before fainting. Later, Uchida caught Makoto shopping for a girl’s dress at a shopping mall. Makoto admits he likes Haruka and it occurred to Uchida that he’s trying to become Mako-chan again. No choice, Uchida decides to help him pick out some girl clothes. While choosing a bra, Makoto spots Haruka shopping in the same section. The 2 met and Haruka decides to help Mako-chan in buying a bra. Now how will Makoto get out of this mess. In the dressing room, Haruka tells him to strip and then starts measuring and caressing chest. Must be heaven for him. But then, Haruka notices something amiss and Makoto thinks he’s a goner and his identity busted. But Haruka indicates that it’s not time for Mako-chan to wear one since she’s flat. Makoto is shocked but Haruka misinterprets it and tells Mako-chan that her time will come. Once it’s done, Makoto blushes and faints once more and Uchida notices the traffic light redness of his face. Haruka returns home and takes a peek at Chiaki in a towel. After a short assessment, she thinks Chiaki will be fine without a bra.
 
It seems Makoto is pretty comfortable disguising as Mako-chan in episode 7 and has no qualms enjoying meals at the Minami’s place. That is, until Kana did some submission move on him, did he accidentally fell down and nearly revealing his personal thingy while squirming in pain. At school, Kana decides to borrow Keiko’s specs because it made her look more intelligent. But we all know her inside, right? Then back home, Chiaki has several of her friends over when Kana starts lecturing them about being approached by strangers. Takeru comes by and the girls take out what they have just learned on him. This prompts the Minami sisters to wonder how are they related to him. After making some calls and all that mother’s eldest sister’s son, they realized that Takeru is their cousin. Meanwhile that Sensei And Ninomiya-kun drama sees both lovers suffering tragic consequences like having amnesia and getting knocked by an impending speeding car. I find myself laughing more than crying in this in-show series. At the school library, Kana and Fujioka bump into each other. Kana can’t believe that he’s in the library reading because she thinks he’s a banchou (gang leader). Then the 2 also bump into their 2 senpai and overheard their conversation and proceed to tell them about their school’s legendary banchou, which was Haruka. Some pretty exaggerated picture she paints of Haruka there. Is she that scary? One of the senpai is currently holding the title of the banchou and Kana decides a match to settle it since there can only be 1 banchou. That senpai uses her chance to ‘relinquish’ her title through rock-scissors-paper game and lets Fujioka win. They soon find out that Kana is Haruka’s little sister but their surprise is just for a while and the 2 senpais walk away happily like they’ve never heard it all before. So even in Haruka’s class, everyone is calling her that banchou title even if she tells them not to. Haruka is being called by a teacher to the teacher’s room and he is worried that there is a banchou in school and wants Haruka to help nab the culprit. Haruka’s back is up against the wall. She tries to change the subject by predicting his future wedding will be soon. Surprisingly, the teacher seems to get excited and starts talking on the new subject. Haruka continues to rant as she holds up a flower vase when a classmate of hers comes by looking for her, calling her banchou title. This causes Haruka to startle as she spills the vase over the teacher, knocking him out. Oh oh. This increases her banchou reputation, I’d say.
 
Episode 8 focuses more on Hosaka. Yeah, expect to see more of his ridiculous simulations of him and Haruka. Here, Hosaka tries to get closer to Haruka by trying to get invited to her home but Maki notices this and tries to prevent him from doing so. While doing several of his cheesy fantasies, Hosaka asks Maki how he should confess to Haruka. Which is better, "Suki da" or "Suki desu"? On the other hand, Hayami decides to play along by bringing Haruka to see Hosaka. When Haruka arrives, it seemed like Hosaka was confessing to Maki that he loves her. In that simulation of course Hosaka sees Haruka but in reality… Haruka runs away as Maki tries to chase her to clear up the misunderstanding. Back at the Minami’s place, Chiaki decides to teach a pathetic Kana how to blow a bubblegum. Everytime Chiaki blows one up, Kana pokes it and smears her face. When Haruka comes by and has 1 herself, the duo are shocked to see her ‘Godly Technique’ because they spot her blowing a bubblegum inside a bubblegum. Respect. Later, Hosaka becomes interested in cooking after he finds that Hayami has tasted samples of Haruka’s bento. Hosaka went to see Haruka in her class but she was not there so he dragged 1 of her classmates, Atsuko, into a talk she doesn’t want to get into. Hearing that Haruka went to buy bread, Hosaka is disturbed that she may not get enough nutrition. After that talk, Atsuko concludes that Hosaka may be cool after all but notices that during his fantasy, he undressed his top shirt. What the? But the next day after making 2 bentos, Hosaka still decides not to give Haruka his homemade meal because he has yet to make the ultimate bento for her. Hayami decides to sample it but is shocked to hear that he made it with some other ingredients. The next day, because Kana’s failure to prepare rice for breakfast, Haruka is feeling unenergetic. Hayami goes and tell Hosaka about Haruka’s condition and in an instant he goes over to give her his bento. But upon approaching the class, he spots a hungry Haruko eating Atsuko’s onigiri. With that, he thinks it’s okay if Haruka’s satisfied and goes away without letting her have a taste of his bento. On the way home, Hosaka has his usual simulation of having a nabe dinner with his wife Haruka and kids but notices that Haruka isn’t smiling. He then vows to make her happy but in reality he’s hugging the fish at a market with his naked top! Sick guy!
 
In episode 9, Kana is jealous that Haruka gets a day off from school and thinks she’s having a great time staying home. But in fact, Haruka is real bored. On another matter, Kana decides to wake Chiaki up early just to ask her what she thinks of her. A bakayaro of course. A sleepy Chiaki decides to go back to sleep but Kana won’t allow her as she tugs her pants down! Kana forces her to talk through the night as the duo endlessly seem to talk about who knows what (Kana’s stupidity, I guess). I wonder why Chiaki didn’t just ignore her. It’s a wonder why Kana can stand her little sis talking bad about her. Soon the duo fell asleep in the living room and when Haruka finds them there the next morning, she punishes them by not giving them food because it’s already afternoon. Because of that, Chiaki decides to get revenge by writing a 10,000 page report on Kana’s stupidity! Extreme! Then Kana fell sick. In bed, Kana is touched to see Chiaki caring for her. A change of heart and character? Kana tries to return her goodwill by telling Chiaki not to mind her and go watch her favourite tv series which is soon starting. To Kana’s surprise, Chiaki says she doesn’t want to go watch tv but wants to watch Kana instead. Has this selfish rude sister finally changed? Well, until Chiaki reveals that it is more interesting to watch Kana suffer than to watch tv. Hahaha! Kana then had an instant revival and springs up and in her rage tries to get Chiaki to apologize but finds out that Chiaki has gotten ill. Looks like she has got Kana’s sickness as the latter fills better. Later when Chiaki recovers, Kana decides to try out Chiaki’s school uniform. Due to that, Haruka decides to try Kana’s while Chiaki gets into Haruka’s. Haruka is pleased that she can still fit into Kana’s uniform while Chiaki looks baggy. And when Chiaki tries on Kana’s uniform and fits, Kana falls into despair. Later, Kana wants to eat pie and comes up with a scheme to let Chiaki make it by saying it’s as repayment to Haruka for taking care of them. Chiaki bakes the pie finish and Kana can’t wait to devour it. Haruka comes home as Chiaki goes greet her. When they return, Chiaki is surprised to find the pie is gone and circumstantial evidence shows Kana is the culprit. She can really gulp it down fast. This upsets Chiaki very much as all her hard work has gone down the drain but Haruka says that it’s okay knowing that knowing their good intentions is enough. Kana feels guilty and you can see how her crying floods the table. She even admits that she’s a failure as a human being (right on) and tells them to hit her, in which Chiaki would gladly oblige. But Haruka calms them down by suggesting to make cake together in the future.
 
In episode 10, Chiaki and her pals decide to check out a girl named Touma in another class after hearing that there is another student by the name of Minami. Though they have the same surname, they’re not related anyhow. Chiaki thinks Touma is a boy because she is acting like 1 while picking a fight with a fellow classmate. Furthermore, seeing that that boy wouldn’t hit her because she is a girl, Touma declares that she is a he now. Chiaki doesn’t care for all this and prepares to leave but that boy was being shoved into Chiaki during the argument with Touma. A little showdown between Chiaki and Touma which resulted in Chiaki deciding to take in Touma as her little brother. During cooking class, Makoto brags about being able to cook only to get punch in the face by Chiaki after he says how he is one with the egg’s soul (?!). Later, Chiaki brings Touma back to her home (from now on, you’ll notice Touma prefers to hang around at their place quite often) and Haruka and Kana are surprised Chiaki has a little bro. Mako-chan then appears and Touma remembers to have seen him somewhere before. Mako-chan brings Touma behind the curtain and reveals his true identity and the need of doing so. Since Touma has to pretend to be a boy, they agree to keep each other’s identity a secret. Of course Kana is adamant that Touma is a girl as she flips up her skirt. Though Makoto still denies, Kana threatens to show Touma’s boobs.
 
Later, Makoto tells Kana and Touma that he wants to confess to Haruka his real identity. Kana says since she is the ‘father’ of Mako-chan, she allows ‘her’ to do whatever ‘she’ wants. But Touma refutes by saying Kana should be the mom (Ka-chan) and Touma herself by right should be the dad (Tou-chan). So when Chiaki and Haruka returns, Makoto confesses that he is a boy but the duo didn’t believe ‘her’ and laughs it off. Looks like he can never become a boy. Chiaki even mentions that if Mako-chan were to follow Touma being a boy, ‘she’ should at least try harder. Haha. Stuck forever as Mako-chan. Thus Makoto decides to confess to them separately and starts off with Chiaki first at school but fails because of his direct approach. Touma advices him to do it properly and this time Chiaki lands her foot in his face. At the Minami’s apartment, Makoto is still having problems with his confession and is confiding in Kana. Haruka and Chiaki suddenly returns which forces Makoto to quickly hide under the kotatsu because he’s not in Mako-chan form. As the Minami sisters sit around the kotatsu, Kana is kicking Makoto out of fun. As they watch the Sensei And Ninomiya-kun magic show (poor Ninomiya-kun’s clothes got all torn up after that magic trick), Kana decides to do a magic show with Touma to bail Makoto out. It must be getting hot under there. Depending on how you look at it. Touma starts putting on girl clothes for Makoto and in no time, Mako-chan appears and tadah! Surprise? Well, it wasn’t that shocking for Haruka and Chiaki.
 
Episode 11 introduces Touma’s 3 elder brothers who seems to be discussing about Touma but that girl just simply ignores them, though they’re in the same room. Having found out that Touma has been hanging out with the Minami sisters, they think that she’ll be more girly this way and the eldest brother (let’s just call him Aniki) sends the 3rd brother, Akira to go check on them. At the Minami’s apartment, Haruka calls Aniki to confirm and changes her voice. To her dismay, the end of the other line thinks it’s some sort of kidnapping as Haruka tries to resolve the misunderstanding. Next day at school, Kana teases Akira that he wants to have a girlfriend. Akira admits that he likes Haruka’s long hair. Kana then points at Riko’s, Akira then admits he likes her long hair too. Meanwhile Riko is admiring Fujioka from a distance and jealous Fujioka himself is worried who Kana is talking to. Akira wonders who Fujioka is and Kana replies that he is the banchou, surprising him. Fujioka comes by and Akira is sweating because he thinks this banchou is mad at him for liking Riko who is seen behind Fujioka. Akira tries to escape by saying that he likes the kind of girls such as Kana. But this causes more misunderstanding. Akira runs out from the classroom with Fujioka giving chase and challenges him to a challenge. In another development, Chiaki is seen kicking a little stone fallen off from a lorry and naming it Yamada. She kicks it throughout her journey and when she finally reaches home, Kana zooms pass by which made Yamada fell back into that same lorry which happened to pass by. Chiaki is upset and blames Kana for the loss of her ‘friend’. This girl needs to have more friends. Ah well, with everyone being labelled as a bakayaro…
 
Later, we see the 2nd Minami brother, Natsuki joining the volleyball team and sees Hosaka as his senpai. Hosaka wants Natsuki to try out a bento he made for the girl he likes (hint hint) but Natsuki manages to avoid it all by saying he doesn’t have experience in this kind of thing. When Natsuki visits Haruka at her class to thank her for taking care of Akira, Hayami pushes him so much so his face fell into her bosoms. Natsuki apologizes and even though Haruka knows that this is an accident (Hayami running away), she punches Natsuki in the face. Now, is this the legendary banchou we’re talking about? Or is that just reflex? Back home, Haruka seems to be dead tired and lying face down on the floor. Kana and Touma finds her lying there and her top shirt semi-unbuttoned. Sexy. Fanservice for Haruka fans. Touma then remembers he invited Natsuki and brings him in. Haruka is partially in dreamland and doesn’t realize her ‘exposure’. Natsuki comes in and has the shock of his life. His face fell flat to the table with a heavy thud. The nosebleeding isn’t stopping! Chiaki then comes in and points to Haruka about her clothes. Haruka is fully awaken and after pulling Kana’s hair for not trying to warn her (well, Kana said she indiscreetly tried to tell her), she rushes over to help Natsuki. But she got too close to him and her boobs are too close to his face, resulting him to faint and further bleed once more. And the advice to viewers… Take more iron.
 
Episode 12 sees how Chiaki once stopped believing in Santa Claus. Many years ago, she caught Takeru dressing up as one and ever since her dream was crushed. So for this year’s Christmas, Kana comes up with a plan. Takeru is seen arriving in a Santa suit outside the apartment but he meets Fujioka. Takeru decides to come back tomorrow after calling Haruka and leaves. Soon Kana dresses Fujioka in a Santa suit and later leaves a present at Chiaki’s bed. Chiaki caught glimpse of the Santa and knows that this isn’t Takeru. She excitedly tells Haruka and Kana, who both pretend not to know anything. So if you’re wondering about that teddy bear in the end credits, it’s for Chiaki’s Christmas present. Back at the Minami brother’s house, they are discussing what they should get Touma for Christmas. They also talk about their ideal girlfriends and Natsuki has a vision of that sexy Haruka before fainting while we find out Aniki’s girlfriend is just imaginary. Looks like Touma is ignoring them again while doing her own thing in the living room. Aniki looks at the list Touma wrote to Santa but finds out the insulting letter was directed to the brothers. The trio then go through the photo albums to get a clue how Touma turned out like this when Touma beats them all up soon after for not preparing anything but staring at the photo albums. They remember something similar happened to them the last time. It’s snowing and Fujioka is outside the Minami sister’s apartment waiting to give Kana his present. Takeru then arrives and they both realized the girls aren’t in. We see them eating at a restaurant and the usual spat between Kana and Chiaki. Kana is surprised by Chiaki’s 4-dumbass-hit-combo insult when Haruka thinks she may have forgotten something. Takeru and Fujioka decides to go home after waiting for a long time.
 
Later Touma is seen visiting the sisters again and wonders if she should pay for the food as she’s always eating here. Yeah, Kana wants her to pay 380 Yen per meal per person. Haruka says she doesn’t mind and Kana sees an angelic version of Haruka. Everyone soon digs into their cake except for Kana because Haruka thought she was going over to Keiko’s place to have hers. So Kana calls Keiko but gets pissed off when Keiko says she already has hers. As Fujioka laments the fact that he’s losing his chance of giving Kana his present, Kana seems to notice Chiaki is getting pretty acquainted with the teddy bear and starts asking irritating questions. Chiaki hits back Kana with the teddy bear and though it may seem like she’s abusing the teddy bear, Chiaki says that it is the teddy bear’s will. Plus, they decide to name it Fujioka since it was the first person that came to mind for Kana. Later Kana bumps into Fujioka in town and she tells him to consider one’s feelings when giving presents. Fujioka thinks deeply over it. Later, Fujioka comes by to give Kana his boneless ham presents and is excited that he has finally managed to give his present to her. Though the sisters think of it as a year end present.
 
Episode 13 starts off with Kana and Uchida preparing Touma and Makoto to wear traditional Japanese costumes for the New Year. Of course, Touma gets the male part while Makoto has to become Mako-chan (even though he was against it but gave in due to his weak will) to don the kimono. Yoshino then enters and says how it’s natural for one wearing kimono not to wear underwear. In an instant, Mako-chan frantically tries to take off his underwear in front of everybody but is being restrained by Uchida. Meanwhile Riko is at Keiko’s house and the former tries to call Fujioka when Keiko receives a call from Kana. At the same time, Fujioka tries to call Kana but the number was busy. Riko too tries to call Fujioka but was met with the same fate. Talk about the synchronization. Whenever Fujioka and Riko decides to try again, unbelievably they do at exactly the same time! That’s why the number is always busy. On the other hand, who knows what Kana and Keiko are talking for hours. It then dawned to Kana that she has been talking quite some time as pointed out by Chiaki. She tries to blame Keiko when she discovers that since it was her who called, Kana will be billed for the call. In another development, Hosaka is seen making ramen as his part time job at a restaurant kitchen. Because it’s getting hotter, he gradually unbuttons his shirt. He then goes into another simulation on cruise ship with wife Haruka and kids. Something about making a pun with his soba noodles and be next to her (which has also the same pronunciation). It’s like some sort of Titanic spoof when the restaurant owner is asking Akira (who’s also working there) about him laughing like an idiot while stretching his arms out while holding the noodle bowls. Akira replies that he is in love. Probably the heat got to his head. Later Hosaka has Akira try out his dish before setting out on his journey to deliver his noodles of love to Haruka.
 
Hayami visits the Minami sisters who are watching that Sensei And Ninomiya-kun drama. Yeah, I don’t know whether it has really ended or not, seeing that Ninomiya-kun fell off the cliff as opposed of being knocked down by a car as predicted by Sensei. Uh huh. It’s kinda obvious that the Ninomiya-kun who fell down the cliff resembles so much like a doll. Anyway, Hayami brings a lot of imported juice as Kana prepares them. Kana is quite suspicious of them and refuses to drink unlike Hayami, Haruka and Chiaki. I don’t know why but it seems Haruka and Chiaki are playing Twister together as Hayami and Kana commands them. Probably its the drink. It’s the drink alright. The duo becomes drunk and passes out with Chiaki snugling close to Haruka. That could be a sight for yuri. Maki and Atsuko then arrives. But to Hayami and Kana’s surprise, they too pass out very quickly. It then dawned to Kana that even though everyone has broken down, Hayami is the most ‘broken’ one and is turning into somebody dangerous after being drunk! Why, Hayami is trying to kiss Kana! Oh the struggle! Oh the fear! ARGH!!! How did it all end? Well, we’ll leave that to your imagination. She reap what she sow. Remember Kana kissed Chiaki back in episode 1? Meanwhile we see Hosaka on top of a snowy peak mountain overlooking the city. In short, he’s lost his way to Haruka’s place. Nevertheless he starts eating the messy spilled noodles and gives out that idiotic laughter. Happy New Year everyone.
 
If you think that’s over, it isn’t yet. Before this series finished, there has been an announcement that there will be a second season already. Wow. So fast. I wonder why they didn’t just continue from this season. At first glance, the drawing seems to be a little different and I read that the second season is an alternate retelling. But whatever it is, I’m sure we can all expect the same hilarious antics from the Minami sisters.
 
Speaking on the drawing and art, though the characters are given to bishie look, I find their facial features to be a little ‘simpler’. But nevertheless, the characters still look pretty like they should. Also, whenever the characters turn serious, the character’s facial drawing will change into a ‘manly’ one. Yeah, it looks kinda funny at first with all those extra lines and shadings. The all feminine Haruka looking so manly? The dumb Kana looking so tough?
 
I’m not saying that the background music of this series closely resembles Lucky Star, but from the way I hear them, those solo piano pieces and funny wind instruments reminded me of that otaku series. Some of the scene changer are quite amusing in the sense that we see the Minami-ke orange or purple round logo roll over and then the characters say, shout or huff a short line (aside the "Minami-ke" line). Since it happens so fast, it’s kinda funny. Sometimes they also show a still pic of a character during the mid-intermission. The most disturbing one is Hosaka with his top undressed… Needless to say any further.
 
The characters themselves are quite quirky and unique so it’s hard for me to pick which of them is my favourite, especially the Minami sisters. The voice acting does fit the characters nicely. Rina Satou is the voice behind Haruka and you may know her as the voice of Punie in Dai Mahou Touge. Likewise, Marina Inoue who voices Kana is recognizable as her role as Mutsuki in Manabi Straight while Minori Chihari did quite a good job in making Chiaki sound ‘lethargic’ like in her previous roles as Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu. Daisuke Ono also did quite an excellent voice acting for Hosaka. He was the voice behind Koizumi in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu and Maya in Mamoru-kun Ni Megami No Shukufuku Wo. Rika Morinaga voices the loudmouth Makoto/Mako-chan unlike her previous roles as Sousei Seki in Rozen Maiden and Francesca in Kaibutsu Oujo. The voice behind Touma is Nana Mizuki and to me she was unrecognizable because she didn’t sound like her cute squeaky voice like she should as Hinata in Naruto, Tsugumi in Jigoku Shoujo and Shinobu in 2×2=Shinobuden.
 
The hype and liveliness of the opening theme, Keikenchi Joushouchuu, brings back memories of the one in Ichigo Mashimaro. But unlike in Ichigo Mashimaro, the ending theme for Minami-ke, Colorful Days, is also quite upbeat as opposed to the former’s slow ballad. I also want to mention that about the parody subs that the fansubbers did during the opening narration of each episode. As the onscreen words tell viewers not to expect much from the ordinary lives of the Minami sisters and that to take necessary precautions like watching from a safe distance and good lighting, the parody subs put the translated narrations such as "This is a hot yuri sex between 3 entirely blood-related sisters…" or "Please send us more porn or hentai…" or "This show is about the Minami sisters who failed to get auditioned for Lucky Star but thankfully that series sucked…" or "This production is brought to you by Queen Haruka". It’s really funny if your Japanese is half baked and viewers will definitely be surprised by it at first. The last couple of episodes sees the actual narration being narrated in English with a Japanese accent.
 
Since I find the first season is quite enjoyable, I’ll be looking forward to the second season real soon. I can’t wait to see what antics will be in store especially from Kana and Makoto, and those flowery insults from Chiaki. You just got to love those kids. I’m sure that this series is suitable for most anime viewers in general, if you don’t mind a few fanservice scenes. Just like how the fansubbers put it at the end of each episode after the next episode preview: "You better watch the next one too, dumbass!", for those who haven’t seen this series, you better watch this anime too, bakayaro!
 
Minami-ke

Finally I’ve decided to do a versus between two food themed animes, that is Chuuka Ichiban and Yakitate! Japan. I’m not sure if there are any other animes out there revolving around food (no, this doesn’t include glutton anime characters who eat anything they get their hands on), but as far as I am concerned, those two animes are the only food themed ones that I have watched at this point in time. So once again, here are the similarities and differences between these two mouth-watering animes.
 
Food category
The main type of food that the anime is focused on.
Chuuka Ichiban: Chinese cuisine.
Yakitate! Japan: Bread and pastry.
 
Era setting
The time and place of when the anime is set.
Chuuka Ichiban: 19th century in ancient China during the Qing dynasty.
Yakitate! Japan: Modern day Tokyo, Japan.
 
Child prodigy
In both animes, they use a little boy as the anime’s main protagonist, who is being heralded as some kind of genius with unimaginable talent and creativity for their age in the cooking/baking world that they venture in. I know many people go through lots of trial and error into making the perfect meal, but for these guys, they can come up and perfect it in a short amount of time even if they don’t really know the proper way of doing it. They just know.
Chuuka Ichiban: 13 year old Liu Mao Hsing or more popularly known as Mao.
Yakitate! Japan: 16 year old Kazuma Azuma.
I kind notice that both guys aren’t the brightest of the pack except when it comes to their cooking/baking skills and so called ‘justice’. Something about they cook/bake to make people happy.
 
Headgear
Refers to the main male protagonists trademark headwear.
Chuuka Ichiban: I don’t know what it’s exactly called, but Mao wears a red bandana.
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma dons a hair band given by Tsukino as a gift to keep clean.
 
Special skill
Refers to the main male protagonists special skill which gives them the upper edge and advantage during competitions.
Chuuka Ichiban: Mao posses super fast and precise cutting skills.
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma posses Solar Hands which allows yeast to ferment faster and stay at constant temperature.
 
The restaurant
Refers to the particular outlet where the main male protagonist works and steadily improves his skills.
Chuuka Ichiban: Yang Spring Restaurant.
Yakitate! Japan: Pantasia Southern Tokyo branch.
 
Food family
It seems that in some ways, the families of the main male protagonist have a hand in the food sector as well.
Chuuka Ichiban: Mao’s late mother, Pai once ran a restaurant in Sze Chuan and her cuisines are famous throughout China. Pai didn’t directly teach Mao her cooking but rather her ideals. But I guess watching his mom is enough for a genius like him.
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma’s grandfather is a rice farmer and it was Inaho who introduced him to bread after being bored of eating rice every morning.
 
The siblings
Refers to the main male protagonist siblings.
Chuuka Ichiban: An elder sister named Karin.
Yakitate! Japan: An elder sister named Inaho.
 
The girl
The main guy surely needs a girl by his side to watch over and look after things, right? Unfortunately for these ladies, there isn’t any romantic chemistry going on even if there are suggested hints here and there. Sigh… I guess we all know where their first love is.
Chuuka Ichiban: Mei Li. She is the only daughter of the Yang Spring Restaurant.
Yakitate! Japan: Tsukino Azusagawa. She is the illegitimate child to the grandfather, who is the owner and founder of the Pantasia bakery chains. Tsukino is also the middle child with the scheming cold-hearted Yukino as the eldest and tomboyish Mizuno as the youngest.
 
The master
I’m sure the particular outlet where the boys work have a so called sifu to teach and give advice to the young ones.
Chuuka Ichiban: The elderly Master Luo and the strict and serious Chouyu.
Yakitate! Japan: The afro and loudmouth muscular Ken Matsushiro.
 
Other comrades
The other characters which help make the team. Hey, nobody is an island nor is it a one-man-show.
Chuuka Ichiban: Mei Li, Shirou, Shell, Leon, Sanche and much later Lan Fei Hong.
Yakitate! Japan: Tsukino Azusagawa, Kyousuke Kawachi, Kai Suwabara, Kageto Kinoshita (oops… nearly forgot all about him ;P), and later Shigeru Kanmuri.
 
The joker
Well, seems they seem to bear the consequences of the unfortunate or just talk big. In other words, for comic relief.
Chuuka Ichiban: Shirou.
Yakitate! Japan: Kawachi.
 
Sword user
Chuuka Ichiban: Leon uses the Seven Star Knifes. And ex-Cooking Underground Society member bent on bringing the Society down.
Yakitate! Japan: Kai. Though he is a master in using his katana, he decides to use his sword to give life via bakery instead of destruction.
 
First achievement
Refers to the main male protagonist’s first overall win in a major competition.
Chuuka Ichiban: Mao becomes the youngest Super Chef (the title was also awarded to another finalist, Fei Hong) by beating 3 other finalists. The theme was noodles.
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma wins the 39th Pantasia Newcomers Battle on his first try by beating Kanmuri in the final.
 
Main antagonist
It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the food industry as well. How can one improve if one doesn’t have any rivals around.
Chuuka Ichiban: The Underground Cooking Society who plans to rule China through cooking (?!). A member of this society, Shou An, was once Pai’s apprentice, blames her for his failure and wants to take his revenge out on Mao.
Yakitate! Japan: A rival bakery of the Pantasia, which is St Pierre, currently owned and controlled by the manipulative Yuichi Kirisaki.
 
First battle
Refers to the main male protagonist first match. And their journey starts from there.
Chuuka Ichiban: Mao takes on Shou An and beats him in a fried rice and mapo tofu match. General Lee then advices Mao to go to the Yang Spring Restaurant as training so that he can enter the Super Chef Competition.
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma enters the Pantasia Main Branch exam and manages to get to the final with his Naan-like bread. But decides to pull out to give Kawachi the win (who later pulls out too) in a croissant match. Though Kai wins by default, Tsukino notices and spot Azuma and Kawachi’s talent and heart and invites them to work at her Pantasia branch at Southern Tokyo.
 
First battle with the main antagonist
Chuuka Ichiban: Mao has a seafood themed battle with an Underground Cooking Society member, Len, after the latter kidnaps Mei Li. Mao as expected wins.
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma has a showdown with the king of sweet breads, Tsuyoshi Mokoyama, in a national televised competition. Both competitors fought out to a draw but it ‘damaged’ Mokoyama’s reputation.
 
Next battle
After achieving their first feat and triumph, the next challenge awaits our little heroes.
Chuuka Ichiban: Mao and gang battle the Underground Cooking Society onboard a huge ship belonging to the society, Lou Lin, and beats them with 2 wins (Sanche beats Rouko in the soup battle while Mao takes the decisive victory over Shou An in a mapo tofu match), a draw (dim sum chef Shell and Lakkon fought to a stalemate in a bun battle) with and a loss (Shan playing mind games with Leon to beat him in a seafood match).
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma and gang head to France to represent Japan for the Monaco Cup as the underdogs. En route to the finals which sees them making the fastest bread with limited ingredients, using up all ingredients without wasting a single drop, making a sweet bread on a survival match on a deserted island, they beat heavyweight teams like France’s Kaysers (Azuma’s black tyre bread defeats the Kaysers Blue Lagoon bread) and the American team which is owned by Yuichi (Kai lost to Monica in a beautiful bread theme, Kawachi beats Sachihoko in a everyday bread meal theme, and Azuma delivered the winning point by beating Shadow in a homeland’s bread theme).
 
Final battle
In the anime, this will be the final story arc for our heroes. If you want to know more, read the manga…
Chuuka Ichiban: Mao and gang travel to find the remaining 8 Legendary Cooking Utensils before it falls into the hands of the Underground Cooking Society. With the infiltration of the Society into the Chinese empire at stake, they have to take on the challenge from the Underground Cooking Society in which Mao, Shell and Leon have to cook 100 dishes for the Emperor of China against a manipulated Fei Hong and his 2 minions. The losers will lose their Super Chef title. Mao’s group wins with his health themed dishes against Fei Hong’s Man-Han banquet. Eventually, Fei Hong regains his true self and the gang resumes their mission to collect the utensils as Mao turns down the offer by the emperor to be the palace chef.
Yakitate! Japan: Azuma and gang’s Pantasia takes up a challenge by Yuichi’s St Pierre in a televised event called Yakitate! 9. In a complex othello-like game, with the ownership of Pantasia at stake, Azuma, Kanmuri and Kawachi narrowly defeat their opponents 5-4 with wins coming from matches against, CMAP’s Tsubodzuka, the other CMAP members, former Chinese mafia Ryu, former comrades Kawachi and Monica (now donning ninja outfits?!), Kanmuri’s half brother Tsutsumi, a guy in a Panda mask (Mokoyama actually), Yukino and Meister Kirisaki. Their only lost was to Norihei, which made the team lost several spots in puts them in a precarious position of losing. In the final match, Yuichi regains his true self to give the Pantasia boys the win before resuming to his evil side. Azuma resumes and accepts any challenges thrown by Yuichi in the future.
 
Judges
A food competition has got to have a judge, right? You just got to love those out-of-this-world super exaggerated facial expressions.
Chuuka Ichiban: Since it’s been awfully long I’ve watched this show, I can’t really remember their names. The judges throughout the anime include a friend of Pai (a female judge for the Super Chef tournament), a group of 5 highly influential men for the battle on Lou Lin. Shilou has a hand of being 1 during Mao’s battle with Len.
Yakitate! Japan: Ryou Kuroyanagi acts as the main judge for events like Pantasia Newcomers Battle and Yakitate! 9, while Pierrot Bolneze judges for the Monaco Cup. Other judges making their rare appearance include Meister Kirisaki (GM of the Pantasia HQ) and Dave Hachiguchi.
 
Royalty
The Royal Highness which has appeared in the anime.
Chuuka Ichiban: The Emperor Of China. This guy as expected of most stereotypes of an emperor to be fat and seemingly tired/bored.
Yakitate! Japan: King Leonheart XIV of Monaco. This guy has a lion head?
 
Cave
Trapped in a cave, that is.
Chuuka Ichiban: Shan, using her last ditch attempt to separate Mao’s gang results Mao and Mei Li having to survive the dark cave and find their way out.
Yakitate! Japan: As part of Yuichi’s sabotage on the Japanese team during the Monaco Cup, Azuma and co are being parachuted down to the deepest cave hole in Mexico along with Pierrot as they search for another exit.
 
Opening and ending themes
Chuuka Ichiban: The 3 opening themes in descending order are Sora (Maki Ouguro), Ikimo Dekinai (ZARD) , and Kimi Sae Ireba (DEEN). The 3 ending themes in descending order are Aoi Sora Ni Deatta (Arisa Tsujio), Mineral (Kaori Nanao), and Kaze No You Ni Jiyuu (Keiko Utoku).
Yakitate! Japan: The 3 opening themes in descending order are Houkigumo (RHYTEM), Promise (TiA), and Chiisana Uta (MARIA). The 6 ending themes in descending order are Sunday (The Babystars), To All The Dreamers (SOUL’D OUT), Hummingbird (Little By Little), Re: START (SURFACE), Merry Go Round (Mai Hoshimura), and Kokoro Biidama (RHYTEM). The 7th ending theme is Houkigumo for the final episode.
 
Number of episodes
Chuuka Ichiban: There are 52 episodes in this 1997 production.
Yakitate! Japan: There are 69 episodes in this 2004 production.
 
Original soundtrack
Chuuka Ichiban: A soundtrack album consisting of 24 tracks.
Yakitate! Japan: Two soundtrack albums consisting of 28 tracks each, with a total of 56 tracks.
 
Conclusion
Both animes are quite neatly and nicely done. So it’s no wonder I find them both to be quite an enjoyable series to watch. But if I had to choose which of the 2 animes I like better, it would be Yakitate! Japan, because of the amazing number of puns, spoofs, parodies and rip-offs from not only the anime cultural but the local and food industry as well. It never cease to make me laugh out loud. The series is also quite informative in giving details about the food and culture. While Chuuka Ichiban isn’t an entirely bad show either, but perhaps since I saw Yakitate! Japan more recently than Chuuka Ichiban, you could say that the ‘feelings’ are still there for this bread themed series. Nevertheless, I hope for those who chefs or bakers wannabes who have watched both series, would give them the inspiration to create new and exciting dishes. Yeah, these boys would certainly give that Iron Chef Competition a run for their money.
 
Chuuka Ichiban  Yakitate! Japan