Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~

April 25, 2009

What’s this? A Da Capo rip-off? Well, that is my first impression when I first watched Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~. Having said that, it means that there has to be obvious similarities which reminded me of the Da Capo series. This anime though is made and produced by a different company than Da Capo, but it did get help from a company who created both the PC game for Da Capo and Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~, Circus. Ah, so I see that’s why they look closely similar to each other.
 
How similar they are? Let’s take a look at the characters first. Seeing that this series is another one of those harem romance comedies with a little ecchi in it, we have the main male protagonist Haruhiko Amami. He’s this series version of Da Capo’s Junichi. Then there’s his childhood friend, Kirino Konosaka which looks a little like Nemu. What about Riko Fukamine? She’s the Kotori of this series and unlike in Da Capo, Riko is the little sister of Haruhiko but not really blood related. You’ll guess that there’s going to be a love triangle brewing between these 3 characters.
 
Then there are other characters who share some uncanny resemblance to Da Capo too. Like Chisa Fujimiya looks close to Sakura of Da Capo because she has blonde hair and twintail. Not only that. If Sakura has a cute mouthless little pet cat named Utamaru, then Chisa has a little black crow (I thought it was an owl at first) named Jinta. Yeah, they’re very attached too. Always seen with each other. Other than that, the supporting male character, Maki Edo too has a strange resemblance to Suginami of Da Capo. But unlike Suginami, this guy is more outgoing and has his passion in science and technology.
 
Now let’s go over to the setting. In Da Capo, the place where the anime takes place is a half crescent shaped island called Hatsunejima. In Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~, it’s a little town by the seaside called Narasakichou. Then there’s a never withering sakura tree in Da Capo whereby the sakura trees bloom all year round and in this series we have an eternal rainbow always hovering throughout the sky whether rain or shine, day or night. Plus, in Da Capo some of the inhabitants of the island posses little magic abilities like mind reading or making sweet out of one’s palm. Here, everybody has a power called Gift.
 
Which brings me to the next topic. What on Earth is a Gift? From what I understand, it’s supposed to be some sort of magic power for a person to grant some sort of wish or miracle. Since it’s a once in a lifetime power, everyone can only use it once. So better make your Gift count. Furthermore, in order for a Gift to work properly, there must be a willing sender and a willing receiver. If not, a colour of that eternal rainbow will turn black and ominous events will bestow upon the town. Something like that.
 
So let’s go straight into episode 1 whereby we see the mandatory flashback of a young Haruhiko who is so sad to see his sister Riko leaving town by train. For a kid, it must be devastating. Back in present time, high school teenager Haruhiko is wakened up by childhood friend-cum-neighbour Kirino. I guess it must be a trend for girls to wake up guys like him. Of course being waken up from his slumber, he is surprised that it’s Kirino who wakes him up and proceeds to ask her embarrassing questions to confirm she’s the real deal like did she really wear a bra in 7th grade. I see this guy is cheekier than I thought.
 
Also, we see Kirino making breakfast for Haruhiko. Well, his mom passed away so I guess they need some womanly figure to help his household while Haruhiko’s dad, Souichi, is your typical salary man heading off to work. He wanted to tell Haruhiko about the arrival of some company but since he was so busy, I guess he had to leave first. We also learn that Haruhiko is an advocate for Gift as he narrates the details about it.
 
Since it’s the entrance ceremony, as usual they have to make their way to school. Just outside his house, Haruhiko nearly gets bumped into a witch on a broomstick (it’s Chisa and Jinta by the way but nobody can seem to recognize them. Are their disguise that good? But it’s obvious…). On their way, Haruhiko and Kirino spots a girl named Rinka Hokazono being confronted by 3 unruly punks. Though Haruhiko would even think twice about getting involved, Rinka doesn’t really need his help as she teaches those punks a good lesson by throwing them off their feet. Upon arriving school, Haruhiko and Kirino learns from Chisa that they can’t get into school because a large sakura tree has blocked its entrance. Uh huh. Somebody has used his/her Gift but it went awfully wrong. This is causing lots of trouble for people. Especially one of the school’s teacher (let’s just call him Sensei). He’s so disappointed that he can’t see the faces of the girls graduating. WTF?! He may have that intimidating professor look but I assure you that you’ll find out that he has loli fetish. WTF?!
 
Then there’s the vice president of the school’s student council, Ibuki Yajima. She seems like the one pulling the strings because the president, Sena Asakawa, is some sort of a klutz and ‘weak’ girl. But the thing which raised my eyebrow the most is that Yajima has 2 student council members, Ayako and Maiko, who follow her everywhere she goes. That’s not the weird part. It’s that they tend to repeat what she says! It’s like they are her echo speakers or something! It gets really annoying after a while. Furthermore, Yajima isn’t the kind of person who supports the use of a Gift. A short bickering between Haruhiko and Yajima because the former still thinks Gift brings happiness. So he’s going to get to the root of this problem.
 
With the help of Maki and Kirino, Haruhiko finds out that a second year tennis club member student named Sakaguchi is the one who used his Gift. Just like a negotiator and problem solver, Haruhiko goes over to talk to him. Sakaguchi tells them he likes a junior player named Miho and the feeling is mutual. But ever since entering high school, they became busier and busier and hardly had time to see each other. So he wanted to go back to those days. It’s Haruhiko’s turn to give his round of lecture and he seems pretty good on it. Why, he can be a counsellor in the future. Soon Kirino brings Miho to face Sakaguchi and they both reconcile. As they accepted each other’s Gift, everything returns back to normal in no time and the entrance ceremony proceeds on as usual. Finally, we see a grown up Riko returning to Narasakichou and notes how the air of this place hasn’t changed yet.
 
Episode 2 begins with Haruhiko and Kirino walking home when they spot Riko outside the former’s house. Haruhiko is surprised that she has returned without informing him but Riko says that she did informed Souichi about it. So looks like she’s back to stay at Haruhiko’s place and the way she addresses Haruhiko as onii-chan even though he’s not her real brother, is like what Nemu does to Junichi in Da Capo. Yeah, a short flashback of how Souichi told Haruhiko that he’ll be having a new sister and it seems they got on pretty well after that. In this episode, Riko’s return doesn’t mean she’s just bumming around. She needs to attend school and has Haruhiko accompany her to buy her school uniform. In town, Riko notices that it’s snowing on a bright day and Haruhiko mentions how a Gift is in effect and there’s a research facility built in the outskirts of town to research on the mysteries of Gift.
 
With Riko’s return, I guess she has to take over Kirino’s duties like making breakfast, cleaning and even waking that guy up. Yeah, Riko’s not as gentle as Kirino and since Haruhiko has a hard time waking up, Riko jumps on him instead. This guy sure has waking up problems. He pushes her off and caught a glimpse of her panties. In her embarrassment, she lands her foot right in his face. On their way to school, the trio spot that flying witch above and Kirino says how there’s a rumour that there’s a girl who can use magic to make wishes come true. In class, Riko is the new transfer student in Haruhiko’s class and everyone is making a big fuss about it. Especially those loser boys when they learn from Sensei that she is Haruhiko’s sister. Sensei has the cheek to say how a young boy and girl is living under the same roof and that if anything happens and if God forgives them, he’ll not. Yeah yeah.
 
During recess, in order to avoid those jealous loser boys, Haruhiko runs away but arrives at the doorstep of the school’s dojo where Rinka is practicing. Since Riko is a little jealous that Haruhiko is staring at her, she tries to hit him but he avoids. This causes him to activate lots of booby traps on the kendo grounds as he barely tries to dodge each and every one by the skin of his teeth until he couldn’t. He is then treated by Yukari Kamishiro AKA Yukarin, who happens to be Chisa’s friend and also living at her place. Back home, Riko gets a very warm welcome from Tamami Konoe or Tama for short (yeah, she’s smothering Riko in her bosoms). I’m not sure who she is but Haruhiko calls her big sister. Anyway she’s here to celebrate Riko’s return with the rest. Haruhiko mentions how he’s glad that Riko’s back because he was really sad when she went away. After the party, Kirino requests Haruhiko to walk her home even though she just lives next door. You can obviously tell that she’s pretty concern ever since Riko’s return because she’ll no longer get to wake Haruhiko up, cook him breakfast, etc. You see the point. But as compensation, she’ll settle for going to school with everyone. If it was only this simple…
 
Episode 3 has Haruhiko learning that Riko still holds on to her stuffed toy bunny in which she feels that it’s still her precious thing. Then at school, we see several guys boldly asking Riko to be their boyfriend! She’s turned into an overnight idol. Even if the word jealous is the right word rather than being over-protective, Haruhiko quickly takes her away from them. Hey, Haruhiko’s the main star of this harem series, okay. Even in class Haruhiko has a tough time trying to put his classmates at bay. They’re really pestering Riko. I know some of the guys really look horrible like an otaku geek and nerd, if I should say. Even if Haruhiko tries to give an excuse that Riko is his sister, but as Kirino mentioned, they don’t even look like siblings. That night, Riko didn’t return home so Haruhiko goes searching for her in the rain. He gets a call from Tama that Riko is at the research centre, the place where Tama works. Haruhiko learns that Riko was trying to buy tomatoes no matter what since she found out that it’s his favourite food but got drenched in the rain instead. Due to that, Riko develops a slight fever.
 
On the way to school, Kirino hints that she wants to be by Haruhiko’s side but I guess he couldn’t understand it. Even if Maki explains to him about Haruhiko and Riko’s relationship that even though they’re siblings but still a male and female if they look at it on another perspective, Haruhiko still doesn’t get it. Back home when Haruhiko goes on to check on Riko’s fever, they nearly kissed if not for Riko’s handphone ringing. Later, Riko has an interview with the local magazine publisher who asks her about her first love and things indicate that she was referring to Haruhiko. After the interview, Riko tells Haruhiko that she lied about her first love just to give the magazine some service but Haruhiko tells her that his first love has always been Riko and that’s not a lie. Riko is embarrassed and tries to walk away but he grabs her by her hand and asks her opinion because he thinks she wasn’t lying during the interview either. But Riko couldn’t give him an answer and apologizes because after hearing Kirino’s piano, she remembers that she had nearly broken a promise made with her. Haruhiko lets her go and thinks he has been dumped.
 
It’s a hot summer day in episode 4 and once again Riko wakes Haruhiko up from his slumber and still dreaming about last night’s events when the intense heat of the morning sun gets to him. This is your typical fanservice beach episode with Maki suddenly inviting Haruhiko and Riko down to the sandy beach. This is part of Maki’s plan to have Haruhiko mend his relationship with Riko. So we’ve got a load of beach babes here. Riko, Kirino, Yukarin, Chisa and even Rinka in their swimsuits. Hey wait a minute. Who’s that girl clinging on to Rinka?! To cut things short, she is Nami Satou and is quite obsessed with Rinka. Ever since Rinka saved her, she’s been pretty much hanging around her. Yuri girl? But it really gets annoying that she praises Rinka for the slightest thing and goes high-pitched about it. Obviously this is a harem anime so by right Haruhiko should hog all the girls, right? Just kidding. Anyway Nami doesn’t like Haruhiko much and is suspicious of him. So the usual fun in the sun and the mandatory watermelon hitting event. The weird part is that Maki used his science thingy to make the watermelon ‘unhittable’ (if there’s such a word). Everytime one tries to hit it, the watermelon moves away in lighting speed. When it’s Rinka’s turn, Maki unleashes several watermelons but was defeated by Rinka’s superb swordsmanship. Science lost this time… Then Kirino decides to put some salt on Haruhiko’s watermelon put over spills them. I don’t know why but she decides to go wash it off with sea water. Same thing, right? Yeah, even Haruhiko wonders if she has a grudge against his kidneys. Riko watching the duo from afar with that worried expression.
 
Later that night, Maki continues his plan by organizing a test of courage in pairs and trek through the creepy forest to a shrine. Of course the pairs are also ‘decided’ through his LED sticks, which means Haruhiko is paired up with Riko. But it seems that the test of courage is only for Haruhiko and Riko as Maki ropes in the rest to scare them. Since it isn’t going as he had planned, Chisa (in the witch outfit) appears before Maki and tells him that she could grant him a wish. I don’t know what Maki is thinking but his wish is to take on the most powerful military in the world?! Of course Chisa can’t probably do that so she leads him back to his earlier wish, that is to make this test of courage a living hell. Chisa passes to Maki a Gift and soon numerous monsters and ghosts start to appear. Now this is a funny part. We see a couple being lovey-dovey in the woods as the guy says how he’ll protect his girlfriend even if it kills him. Then when the monsters appear, that guy runs away in fear and this really upsets that poor girl. Haha. Now she knows what that guy is made of. Erm… There are quite a number of naked couples having sex in the bushes! Even a pair of muscular macho man! So gay! Thanks to those ghosts, I guess they’ve been ‘flushed out’ of their immoral activities, huh? Rinka too has her hands full as she slashes each and every ghost as Nami watches and cheers her on in awe.
 
Anyway the ghosts starts to haunt everybody in the forest and one of them grabbed Riko. Haruhiko tries to rescue her but comes across a kappa monster trying to attack Kirino. I didn’t know they’re perverts too. Luckily Haruhiko tripped and his flashlight hit that kappa to send it disappearing. Kirino rushes over and hugs Haruhiko in her fear. After the ghosts disappear, Riko is lost and is trying to find Haruhiko when she spots Kirino hugging him behind a bush. Please don’t jump to conclusions yet. When Haruhiko spots her, Riko runs away. On the sandy beach, Riko’s tears keep strolling down her cheeks as she says how she do like Haruhiko after all.
 
In episode 5, we could still see that Riko can’t get that Kirino hugging scene out of her head. But this episode focuses more on Rinka. I guess she couldn’t take the pestering from Nami anymore but couldn’t tell her straight in the face either. So during recess, Haruhiko teases Nami and has a taste of her bento that she made for Rinka but it turns out Nami isn’t a great cook. He nearly died. I suppose with Nami’s persistence, Rinka has no choice but to try one herself. I don’t know if Nami has bad taste or what because she ate her own cooking and thinks it’s so delicious. When Nami says she’ll make lunch for her every day, Haruhiko tells her not to do so or else Rinka won’t be able to go on a date with her boyfriend. Nami is so sure Rinka doesn’t have one and even asks her for reassurance but to everyone’s surprise, Rinka says she does have one and points at Haruhiko! Surprise surprise. Later Rinka apologizes to Haruhiko and explains the reason she’s doing this is to get away from Nami. So Haruhiko has no choice but to act as her boyfriend. Since Nami doesn’t believe it, we see her so obviously stalking them. Thus in order to convince Nami, the duo decide to go on a date. That night, Rinka is seen reading her shoujo manga. The next day date is hilarious because at a cafe, Rinka is trying to recite those love lines she read from her manga (Nami again spying on them). The thing is, all the other customers are snickering at them! So embarrassing! Haruhiko begs her to stop but Rinka continues with her lame lines so much so the other customers couldn’t hold any much longer and bursts into laughter!
 
The next day in school, Nami confronts them and knows that they’re just pretending and wonders why Rinka hates her so much. As Nami runs away upset, Rinka decides to stop playing boyfriend with Haruhiko. In the dojo, upset Nami decides to use her Gift to be closer to Rinka. Then after school, as Haruhiko, Riko and Rinka tries to leave, it seems wherever they go, they are seemingly drawn back to the same place or to some other place within the school area. Maki then appears and tells them that the space inside this building has been distorted. He demonstrates by opening a door, which turns out to be the girl’s locker room. Those surprised girls starts throwing things at Maki before he shuts the door close. Weird part is that Maki took the thrown panties on his head and starts wiping his glasses! I don’t know how Maki creates a device which can tell the centre of the distortion but it points to the dojo and Rinka thinks it must be Nami. A short earthquake occurs and a locker threatens to flatten Riko but luckily Haruhiko summons his strength (did the distortion also distort his strength into a strong one?) to hold the locker and give enough time for Riko to escape. With Maki’s device, Haruhiko and Rinka manages to reach the dojo as Rinka tries to talk with Nami. So we find out that Rinka is trying to carry on her family’s sword tradition after her beloved sister’s death and since it’s such an arduous task, she doesn’t want to get anyone else involve. But for Nami, she’s willing to endure anything for Rinka. With that, the 2 reconcile and accept each other’s Gift and everything returns to normal. In the aftermath, Nami joins Rinka’s dojo and flexes her authority on the other members as Rinka’s number 1 assistant. Some things never change.
 
Episode 6 begins with Haruhiko dreaming of his late mom on a beach but as usual was awaken by Riko. As the gang reaches school, a couple of girls requests Kirino to play in a recital for their music club but she declines. Haruhiko and Riko learns that even though Kirino is a good pianist, she never finishes playing her piece. Then in class, Haruhiko is upset to find out that it was part of Maki’s plan to set him and Riko up after Maki thinks the duo are getting along fine but Riko tags Haruhiko out of class to buy some bread before they’re sold out. In the music room, Kirino is playing her piano when she is being visited by Chisa disguising in her usual witch outfit. She gives Kirino a Gift before leaving. Everyone spots the witch leaving on her broomstick and Haruhiko is upset that she is giving fake Gifts so freely. Later as Haruhiko and Riko spend some time together at the beach, Haruhiko gets a little alarmed when he suddenly sees Riko as his mom. Is he seeing things?
 
The next morning, probably he’s still sleepy from waking up because he thought it was his mom who’s serving him breakfast! But the appearance of his mom soon reverts back to Riko and before he knows it, he overspills his coffee onto his shorts. Riko tries to clean it up and Haruhiko has the cheek to say that if she continues rubbing there, he’ll get excited. She throws the cloth in his face in her embarrassment. However, Haruhiko still keep seeing Riko as visions of his mom. Better rub your eyes harder. Even in school, Haruhiko is experiencing the same thing so he goes to seek Tama’s advice. Tama then take out a box of photo album and to their surprise, Haruhiko’s mom, Haru, has a striking resemblance to Riko during her younger days. So the question is, does he like Riko because she resembles her mom? Is he trying to find his mother in Riko? But even so, Tama disagrees and says if he needs a motherly figure, she’s always there for him. Back home, Haruhiko is pondering about it when Riko comes in to tell him that he’s playing his music too loud. Haruhiko yells back at her to leave him alone. So the next day, Haruhiko decides to spend some time on his own and when Kirino finds out that something strange is happening around Haruhiko and Riko, she tells him that it may the fake Gift she used. Well, she didn’t really want to use it but the fake Gift started flying out of her hands and above Haruhiko’s house after she had wished they could be as close as they were in the past since they’ve been seeing less of each other since Riko’s return. Maki then says that the fake Gift may have misinterpreted their words and acted upon them without an explicit wish being made. Maki tells him about that ghost spawning incidence of his own (something about wanting a hell of an army). So Haruhiko is going to end it all as he tries to find that witch.
 
In episode 7, as Haruhiko tries to find the witch and discovers that several of his schoolmates have been using the fake Gifts, Kirino approaches Riko and tells her what has happened. Haruhiko gets a call from Maki who have spotted the witch and decides to help him get to her by lending him his weird swan scooter called Ichiro-kun. I guess it’s pretty hard to control the scooter, huh? Finally Haruhiko manages to catch up with the witch and wants her to return him back to normal. She thinks he wants a fake Gift but what he meant was to cancel out the fake Gift she gave to Kirino. She says that it’s impossible to cancel out those Gifts individually and tries to leave but Haruhiko tries to prevent her. In their struggle, they crashed down into the pond below and Haruhiko discovers her true identity is Chisa. She explains how she got this power from her mom. When she was young she used to follow whatever her mom tells her to do and when she questions if happiness is something one can really receive, that’s when her mom gave her those powers. Haruhiko thinks Gift shouldn’t be used that way and it’s something more precious but Chisa disagrees as she has made several people happy with her fake Gift and can’t take their happiness away. You can see that insane delusional look in Chisa’s eyes…
 
Later Haruhiko goes to talk to Yukarin about Chisa’s case and learns that Yukarin herself is suffering some sort of amnesia. Though she doesn’t know if her previous life was pleasant or miserable, she’s happy now with the support of Chisa and her family. She says what is important isn’t the past, but the future. That night, Haruhiko goes to Chisa’s place and requests a fake Gift from her. He wants to use it to erase the eternal rainbow. He doesn’t want to live under the condition that he’s seeing Riko as his mom as he wants to see Riko as she is. So if he can’t return the fake Gift back to normal, he’s willing to erase the rainbow his late mom loved so much. But after hearing his words, Chisa is unable to give him a fake Gift and decides to return her powers to her mom, even if it means that all the other people who have received their happiness through her fake Gifts will disappear. Chisa understands that happiness isn’t something that can be received easily. With that, Chisa return her powers and Haruhiko is free from his ‘curse’. As Haruhiko walks back, he tells Kirino not to blame herself anymore and teases Riko now he has to see this tiring face every day and wants her to at least cosplay for her. Yeah, everything’s back to normal. The next day, Sensei is telling the class about their upcoming field trip and recommends some shrine famous for some love fulfilment. But what he means is the kindergarten next to it which he’s so looking forward to see innocent little angels skipping in the early summer sunshine. That loli creep. Later Kirino learns of the field trip of Haruhiko’s class (Kirino’s class isn’t going by the way) and mentions how she wants a love charm from that shrine from Haruhiko. Looks like she isn’t bent on giving up yet. Hey, Riko’s there too you know. But I guess she’s feeling desperate.
 
In episode 8 as Haruhiko and Riko packs for their school trip, Haruhiko says how he’s not going to get the charm as Kirino requested. During the field trip, the tour operator thinks how dedicated Sensei is when he mentioned visiting some temple but is unable what to do next. The tour operator then suggests another place, in which Sensei agrees because there’s a kindergarten there. We all know what he’s thinking. Then at the inn, because Haruhiko’s classmates are still thinking about dating Riko, Haruhiko puts his foot down and they question him what is his relationship to her. He replies that they’re just siblings but Riko overheard that facial expression is a sign that she didn’t think so. Because of that, there’s this odd tension atmosphere between the duo. Then the obligatory hotspring fanservice. Funny part was Sena’s mechanical rubber ducky pecking the butts of Yajima and her 2 stooges. Yeah, they even sound so coordinated in that way too. Of course several guys decide to take this opportunity to peek at the girls. Maki gives Haruhiko a hint that his sister may be in danger. Good thing he manages to stop them but the bad thing is in his haste to do so, he breaks down the wooden barrier and into the hotspring right next to Riko. Uh oh. But luckily Riko understood that Haruhiko was just trying to protect after he explains it to her.
 
Meanwhile Sensei is happily taking photos of the kindergarten lolis when a little girl appears before him, takes his camera and throws it into the lake. Sensei’s laughter of surprise soon turns into despair. Serves him right! After Haruhiko and Riko took a photo together (making them look like a couple), Riko tells him about her precious bunny. It’s still important to her because it was a present Haruhiko picked for her back then. The duo could’ve nearly kissed but once again interrupted when Nami busts in to brag about her love charms she’s going to give to Rinka. Haruhiko then tells Riko to come along with him to the shrine. There, he tells her he isn’t going to buy a charm for Kirino because the girl he loves is Riko. Then Riko says how she has used her Gift for Haruhiko, which is that eternal rainbow. What the?! That rainbow was Riko’s Gift to Haruhiko? I thought there needs to be a willing sender and receiver? But Riko did mention how she used her Gift without telling him. Finally, the duo share a kiss. No interruptions this time.
 
It’s the last day of the field trip in episode 9 as the students are browsing a shop for souvenirs. Maki comes by to show Haruhiko and Riko his raccoon souvenir which can fire 40 ballistic missiles from its belly. He demonstrates it and the way the missile comes out from its belly looks a little horny, if you know what I mean. When Haruhiko and Riko return, they walk home arm in arm and notices Kirino waiting for them outside their home. Haruhiko gives Kirino a normal souvenir and not the one she had requested. Furthermore when Kirino asks if Riko did confess, Haruhiko replies that he was the one who confess to Riko. Even if Kirino congratulates them, tears start swelling up her eyes as she rushes into her home and cries uncontrollably on her bed. Feel so pitiful for her. The next day Haruhiko and Riko went to a watching place on a hill to watch the eternal rainbow. A short flashback of how they made a promise to watch the rainbow together and the reason Riko used her Gift to make an eternal rainbow was so that they could forever be together as long as they could watch the rainbow. Riko then teases Haruhiko if he would like to kiss her again and before he could answer, she quickly pecks him on his lips.
 
Meanwhile Kirino is playing her piano and as usual she couldn’t finish the piece. Flashbacks of how Kirino was always by Haruhiko’s side and she couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to be by his side anymore. Woah! She suddenly slammed on the piano keys! Later as Kirino visits Haruhiko (Riko was out buying groceries), she tells him how she doesn’t want her friendship with Riko to fall apart that’s why she gave in. But when Haruhiko mentions how Riko used her Gift, Kirino’s mood changes and you can tell that she’s quite upset about it. When Riko comes home, in a disappointed tone, she wants to know why she broke their promise of not using their Gift. Another short flashback how Kirino and Riko made that promise while they were young since both knew they can’t be Haruhiko’s boyfriend and at the same time didn’t want to lose him. Ah, those innocent years. Look how it all turned out now. Even if Riko gave a reason that she thought she won’t be able to see Haruhiko again, Kirino is still unconvinced. Kirino says how she has always wanted to be his little sister and be with him forever. Riko tries to apologize but I guess Kirino is not in forgiving mood. Thinking that Riko hasn’t been fair all the time, Kirino hints of using her Gift.
 
In episode 10, Riko must be feeling so guilty about it that she couldn’t concentrate and breaks down even if Haruhiko says that they’ll go to talk to Kirino once more. As Riko sleeps, she dreams of how Kirino tells her she won’t allow only her to use her Gift. You can see the dark and evil expression on Kirino’s face. I didn’t know cute little girls can put up this kind of face. Scary. Riko wakes up when Kirino seemingly ‘takes’ Haruhiko away from her. Since Haruhiko is out delivering something for his dad, Kirino decides to go over to Kirino’s place to apologize. Kirino is seen sitting alone in the dark in her room. Riko starts apologizing but I guess Kirino starts playing guilty mind games with her. In a way if you look at it, Riko did broke her promise. Well, it’s that scary evil expression again. Riko would do anything to mend their relationship. Kirino then says how she want Riko’s memories of her days she spent with Haruhiko. In other words, Riko can keep the present and future Haruhiko and Kirino wants the past Haruhiko. Riko agrees as Kirino uses her Gift. As Haruhiko makes his way home, he notices how kids these days have handphones, which prompts him to remember his own secret telephone line he had with Kirino. Since they were just neighbours, they communicated with each other through the age-old paper cup phone with strings. Who says you need high-tech sophisticated handphones to make a decent communication.
 
When Haruhiko reaches home, he is surprised to see Riko acting strange, as though she doesn’t recognize him! Even if she has forgotten Haruhiko, some of her body reactions indicate that there are still memories of him left in her. Haruhiko suspects Kirino may have used her Gift and goes to find her. At the rainbow watching place, Kirino is describing ‘her’ memories spent with Haruhiko (actually they’re Riko’s) but even so, Kirino doesn’t spot a happy expression but an insane look in her eyes. Hmm… The rainbow doesn’t have one of its colour turn black so I guess the Gift was a success. So it goes to show that even a real Gift can’t guarantee true happiness. Riko’s condition seems to be getting worse so Haruhiko once again goes to talk to Kirino playing her piano in the dark. She explains to him why she couldn’t finish her piece. On the day Riko left town, Kirino had a piano recital and won, though she would’ve liked it very much that Haruhiko came to cheer her on. When Kirino came back to tell Haruhiko about it, Haruhiko was so upset that her sister had left, in his rage he pulled the paper phone string so much so it snapped! I guess to a kid, it must be quite traumatic. Though Kirino has gotten her memories from Riko, she still can’t understand why she couldn’t finish her piece and breaks down. Haruhiko then realizes all this are his fault which made Riko and Kirino turned out like this. Meanwhile Riko is talking to her bunny and wonders if she should be here in the first place.
 
In episode 11, Riko’s inability to remember whether she has a brother or not, has her been absent from school ever since as she isn’t feeling well. So in school, Haruhiko seeks Maki’s advice on misguided Gifts but Maki said it isn’t misguided because there’s proper sending and receiving. He suggests removing the cause so that the consequences will disappear. Haruhiko goes over to Tama’s research centre to find out more about the Gift’s existence. Though not much is known about how the Gift magic came about, they discover that it first appeared 17 years ago and on the day Haruhiko was born, April 15th. Later when he goes tell Maki about this, Maki feels it’s just coincidence because he can’t condone to Haruhiko being worshipped as a God. Haha. Thinking further, Haruhiko realizes that it’s also the day his mom died. He remembers how Souichi told him how he’s here thanks to his mom and that his mom’s life was his Gift. That’s why he always cherished it. Haruhiko goes back to ask Souichi more about his mom and to his surprise, he wasn’t born on April 15th but April 1st. Is that an April’s Fool Joke? Don’t think so. The reason for moving his birthday was so he could attend school a year later. You see, in Japan a schooling grade starts from April 2nd to April 1st the following year rather than January to December. Haru died on April 15th and was able to hold Haruhiko before her demise. So is he death and Gift related?
 
At school, Haruhiko is pondering over things. Chisa, Yukarin and Rinka are worried about Riko and Kirino so Haruhiko assures them that he’ll do something about it. Even Yajima dismisses Haruhiko from class so that he could settle things. Haruhiko goes over to his mom’s grave and says how he wants to protect and save Riko. Suddenly a flash of light from the tombstone has Haruhiko sent back in time to see what actually happened on that day. 17 years ago on 1st April, Haruhiko was born as a premature baby. April 5th, Haru is having certain problems like producing breast milk and her condition isn’t getting any better. On 9th April, Haru knows she hasn’t have much time left and tells Souichi that she intend to leave something behind for Haruhiko and how much she love rainbows. April 13th, Haru collapses while watching Haruhiko in the incubator. In bed on D-day April 15, a weakening Haru tells Souichi she wants to take Haruhiko out of the incubator and show him the rainbow. That’s when Haruhiko is brought back to reality and present time and understood what his mom gave him wasn’t his life but something more important than that. He thanks her and says that he would do anything to protect the one he holds dearest to his heart and decides to erase the Gift because he wants to bring back the smile of his loved one and protect her with his own hands.
 
So in episode 12, Haruhiko erases the Gift and the eternal rainbow along with it just like that. So easy, huh? Probably he used his last Gift powers. When Haruhiko comes home, he is relieved that Riko has regained her memories. Everyone notices the sky without the rainbow now and it feels kinda different and odd. Haruhiko continues to explain to Riko the creation of Gift on that day. Haru held Haruhiko in her arms and on the hospital’s rooftop, she told him how she’s a magician and sometimes hated the power she posses. But she doesn’t hate it anymore then because it allows her to give him a wonderful present called Gift as this power will show the various bonds between people. She decides to give Haruhiko the Gift powers instead of Souichi because even though he’s a good person, he can be out of touch of this world. Thus Gift is Haru herself and will always watch over him until Haruhiko is old enough to chase the rainbow on his own and find a person precious to him. In present time, Haruhiko further explains how his mom knew he would 1 day erase the Gift and was just waiting for the day he could stand on his own 2 feet. With their relationship back on track, now the problem is Kirino. She’s still an important friend to them.
 
Haruhiko comes into Kirino’s room and requests her to play her unfinished piano piece but she is still unable to. Then when she tells him about that paper cup phone incident, she is surprised to find that Haruhiko still keeps his piece and has never thrown it away. But the string is broken and how will he fix it back? Simple. He just tie a knot to connect the phones together. It’s really that simple! Also, he tells her that Riko will come listen to her play so that Riko could make amends with her. In school, their pals are glad that Riko is back in class. I’m not sure why but Sensei seems to be disappointed that Riko has ‘grown’ in some areas. He walks away saying something about a young man and woman living under the same roof. I guess Sensei do have loli fetish. Later Yajima talks to Haruhiko about how the disappearance of the Gift has been the talk of town lately and she indicates that she doesn’t think it’s as bad as before. Perhaps it’s because the Gift is gone? Maki wants Haruhiko to tell him how he made the Gift disappear, a request which Haruhiko says it’s impossible no matter how long it takes. I guess it makes sense because what Haruhiko did isn’t something which can be explained by science.
 
That night, Haruhiko and Riko arrives at Kirino’s doorstep to listen to her piano recital. As she starts playing, the duo gave her the courage to go on and cheered her on. Finally she manages to play the piece till the end and Kirino thanks Haruhiko that she’s able to move on now. She also reconciles with Riko and they’re both friends once more. Now they all can get along fine and Haruhiko did a funny facial and hand ‘yoroshiku’ gesture like as though he’s doing some rap thingy. It looks funny and ‘disgusting’. Finally Haruhiko and Riko stop by the rainbow watching place and he says how they have came back here to watch the rainbow (even though there isn’t one now) as they’ll always be together. He asks her to chase the rainbow with her. Finally Haruhiko narrates that precious gifts can be given even without relying on miraculous powers. As long as you have that precious person you want to protect, as long as you never give up or forget about those feelings, one can give gifts anytime. We see several scenes of everyone leading a happy life. From Sakaguchi and Miho, to Souichi helping Tama picking tomatoes, to Kirino now confident of playing her piano recital, to Maki who’s still inventing scientific creations of his own. We also see that the same punks who harassed Rinka are back and it’s like they never learn their lesson. But hopefully they will this time because Nami gives them a kick in the crotch! Yeah, nobody can touch her precious Rinka. Finally Haruhiko and Riko share a kiss.
 
But it isn’t really over yet as there is a light-hearted OVA episode which gives Chisa, Rinka and Yukarin more screen time. Can’t have Riko and Kirino totally hogging the spotlight since the trio too occupy some space in the opening credits too. The gang are trying to get some customers for the hotspring inn run by Kirino’s parents. Yeah, Haruhiko did that weird rap gesture again. Surprisingly, Nami isn’t here next to her beloved Rinka… Anyway the gang faces competition as there is a newly opened hotel right in front of the inn and with its new attraction of a luxurious cuisine, they’re somewhat stealing away the hotspring inn’s customers. Since their rivals are using semi-naked girls, Haruhiko thinks it’s not fair and tells Riko to strip too. Yeah, she nearly did that. Back at the inn, the gang are discussing that there are no customers for the day. Maki then suggests that they need to have another specialty to draw in the customers and that is to cook better meals. The girls try their hand in cooking when a small explosion occurs which leaves Chisa, Rinka and Yukarin coughing after inhaling the smoke. It seems Haruhiko has used some of Maki’s weird seasoning. Riko is pissed off and kicks the guys out of the kitchen. As Haruhiko takes a walk down the corridor, Chisa appears and notices his cut fingers so she sucks them to make it better. Haruhiko wonders if she has a thing for him. Then Yukarin arrives to do the same but realizes she was too late. But never fear, she spots a lose thread on his robes and bites it off. Rinka is watching nearby and wonders if Haruhiko likes women with domestic qualities and asserts that she too has some of them. Later Haruhiko wants Maki to be frank with him when he says how those 3 ladies may be interested in him. Maki’s frank answer: He’s deluding himself. That’s frank alright.
 
Then Chisa and Yukarin comes by to give Haruhiko a break. It seems like a competition to outdo each other to feed Haruhiko their lunch. In a way, he’s like been tortured. Haruhiko nearly gets hit by an arrow with a note on it (written with Haruhiko’s name many times and from Rinka as she’s trying to follow some charm guidelines she’s been reading). Maki observes them and thinks there may be something weird going on and decides to investigate further. Haruhiko is ‘saved’ when he is being called by Riko and Kirino who are being confronted by the hotel manager and his wife (one of those b*tchy kind). Why does the manager have a pet crocodile named Strawberry?! Anyway the manager’s wife is saying how their place will shut down soon but Haruhiko thinks their crab cuisine ad was a scam. She disagrees because a crab has 10 legs but the one in their ad has 12. So what on Earth is that creature even if it looks like a crab? She calls it the fruit of a great marketing effort. I see. They go away with over confidence. Later as Rinka decides to wash Haruhiko’s back, she is surprised because Chisa and Yukarin have beaten her to it. Because the trio are trying to tussle for his attention, they scrub his skin too hard. Ouch! Since the floor is slippery, they slipped and Yukarin fell on top of Haruhiko’s face. Let’s just say he saw the ‘universe’. Riko and Kirino are wonders what all the fuss is about and heads to the bath area. They saw what they saw. Is Haruhiko a hit with the ladies? Riko is damn upset while Kirino faints from that shocking discovery.
 
Haruhiko tries to explain it but the duo aren’t really convinced. I mean, the 3 girls are seen clinging on to him. Maki then explains that his seasoning which contained some rare mushroom may be the cause because it will become some sort of a love potion when it’s cooked. Luckily Maki has created an antidote with the remaining mushrooms and pours for the affected ones to drink. However, it worsens their condition as the trio are now more lovey-dovey as ever! Riko is mad and pours away Maki’s hard effort outside the window (oh, he’s so devastated). But it seems the hotel manager was looking for Strawberry and Riko happened to pour that antidote on his head. Since he was holding Jinta in his palms, that guy suddenly fell in love with the bird! Then it gets out of hand when the trio kiss Haruhiko at the same time. No time to explain, just run for your life! Outside in the dark forest, the 3 ladies now look like love-stricken zombies. As they continue to run, they fell into a hole which is some underground passage under the inn. Then they panic to find Strawberry is at 1 end and the 3 love zombies on the other hand. As Haruhiko said, either way he’ll be ‘eaten’. So true. We won’t find out what really happen next because the scene changes to where Haruhiko is walking to school with Riko and Kirino. They meet the trio on the way and the effects have wear off (don’t they remember a thing?). Then when Haruhiko says how he’s a little sad that all that is over, Riko pinches his cheeks in disapproval. He really did enjoy girls chasing him, huh? Ah well, that’s the role of the harem guy. In the end, Maki narrates that the hotel manager somehow developed a fetish of Jinta, withdrew from hotel management, bought several products of it (which went unsold) and in no time ran out of business (the love potion is still in effect, huh?). Thus the hotspring inn was safe and regain its usual business. Maki also says how this episode doesn’t bear any relation to the anime series (that’s because the eternal rainbow is still in the sky) and why is Strawberry on his lap? And what’s with him asking viewers are they savvy about science.
 
Ah shucks, if the TV series had more light-hearted episodes like the OVA then it would have really been more enjoyable. I’m not saying that the TV series is no good but most of it focuses on Kirino and Riko while at most 1 episode each only for Rinka and Chisa. For a harem series, the fun is about seeing how the girls vie for the guy’s attention. Maybe it could’ve been ‘hotter’ if Riko and Kirino were part of the affection crazy spell in the OVA. Furthermore, there are a couple of other girls in the series which I feel didn’t make an impact and in a way could’ve been done without them such as the vain and popular Nene Himekura and the bookworm Miyu Agihara who’s always having a book stuff in a face (a resemblance to Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu?). Their appearances are really so short that they’re quite forgettable. I’m not sure if these minor female characters are more evident in the game version.
 
I’m glad at the end of the TV series, Haruhiko ends up with Riko as expected. It feels like a sweet revenge for Da Capo fans because in a way this pairing make it seems as though it was like Junichi and Kotori ended up together but in a different series. I could understand most viewers particularly hate Kirino because of her selfishness of wanting to be by Haruhiko’s side. But I guess after being so long with a person, a special bond is bound to be created. I think she was just lost and felt desperate and feels threatened when something precious is about to be taken away from her. But that’s to be expected in a harem anime. Though Haruhiko may be a little mischievous at times, he’s still a responsible fellow and selfless when it comes to helping out others.
 
Maki is another amusing character. You can’t help sometimes feel that his weird inventions are really science defying contraptions. Though just playing a side supporting character role, sometimes his advice to Haruhiko and lending an ear to listen to his problems really helps. As for Sensei, he’s not the kind of person anyone should model after. Even for lolicon people. Talking about facial expressions, I still can’t get that Haruhiko’s rap-like gesture out of my head. Besides, you can have a glimpse of it during the opening credits animation. About Kirino’s dark evil glare, that’s the last kind of expression you’d expect to see on her face. And when she bits off her nail, it’s like as though she’s really turning into a yandere character and initially thought the series would end up something like in School Days.
 
There’s something which still confuses me about the eternal rainbow and Gift. If the Gift powers came about during Haruhiko’s birth, then it shouldn’t be a long time that it came into existence and shouldn’t be a mystery, right? So how did Haru bestow the inhabitants of Narasakichou with the Gift powers then? What about the eternal rainbow? If Riko was the one responsible for it, then how come Haru knew one day her son would erase the rainbow? Did she have a premonition?
 
Though the drawing and art lean more towards bishoujo type, I can’t help but notice something about the drawing which is unappealing to me. The character’s eye are drawn big but that’s not the unpleasant part. It’s the character’s pupils which are drawn as big as their eyes which makes it unappealing to me. It just made me go ugh when I first saw this series drawing. Due to that, the characters do look one kind. I still prefer Da Capo’s art in comparison. In addition, I noticed that some of the episodes have a drop in quality. I’m not saying that it’s obvious but if you look harder, you tend to notice it.
 
The opening theme song, Niji Iro Sentimental, feels like another generic pop song and is sung by Miyuki Hashimoto. The ending theme, Kokoro Niji Wo Kakete, by Misato Fujiya sound like a country pop song maybe because of the catchy electric guitar. For the record, just like Da Capo who have the word ‘sakura’ in each of its theme songs, both opening and ending theme for this series have the word ‘niji’ (rainbow) in theme. Yeah, seems like the rainbow is the theme of this series. In the ending credits animation, we mainly see Riko playing her guitar. I was hoping she would do a duet with Kirino’s piano play but it didn’t materialized. I wonder how good they’ll sound together.
 
The voice acting isn’t really anything to shout about but I found out that the voice behind Haruhiko is Yuuki Tai, the same person who did Junichi for the Da Capo series. Ai Shimizu voices Riko and you could recognize her as the voice of Mikoto in Mai-HiME and Koyori in Sola. Ui Miyazaki does Kirino and her previous anime roles include Iroha in Sumomomo Momomo and Aisia in Da Capo Second Season. Other casts include Ryoko Shintani as Chisa (Millefeulle in Galaxy Angel), Ami Koshimizu as Yukarin (Tenma in School Rumble), Shiho Kawaragi as Rinka (Sekai in School Days), Michiru Yuimoto as Tama (Jun in Happiness!) and Kazutoshi Hatano as Maki.
 
Well in my opinion I still prefer the Da Capo series but I’m not saying that this series is bad either. For a short harem series like this, I guess the storyline is pretty much okay. With some fanservice and comical moments here and there just to make it one of those ubiquitous genres. Just as Haruhiko said, you don’t need magical powers to do miracles. Even the smallest and kindest gesture could be considered as one so long you put your genuine heart into it. That’s the magic of human nature (aside from the dark aspects, that is). It’s a good thing that in this series everyone only has 1 Gift. This is so as not to waste the magic they’re bestowed upon and think real hard and thorough who they want to give it to. Even if I had such Gift, I’d be scratching my head who to give to. Aha! It should by Mai Tokiha!!! And many times over too.
 

Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~

Kaibutsu Oujo OVA

April 24, 2009

Before I really forget that there is such an episode, I think it’s best for me to blog down the additional episode of Kaibutsu Oujo. Yes. To my utter most surprise, there is an OVA episode for this series. Some may call it the 26th episode and some may refer to it simply as Kaibutsu Oujo OVA. Either way, this is a never-seen-before episode that is not shown on TV. I suppose it’s a trend these days to have an OVA so that the series won’t ‘die’ quickly and keep hardcore and even decent fans to satisfy their obsession or curiosity.
 
The episode opens with that busty blur airhead maid Sawawa enjoying her usual rounds of parfait at Master’s cafe. Should she spending more time in here rather than in Hime’s mansion? Anyway she’s really loving the parfait and says it was a good thing she moved here. This prompts Master to ask her how did she left and why she came here. Sawawa replies that it’s due to Hiro. Ever since their parent’s demise, they’ve been travelling so as not to burden their relatives and something to do with their stepmom. Master things they had it tough until Sawawa mentions how kind their stepmom was. Uh huh. And I really thought that they were being abused or what… Sawawa continues that a lot of things happened and then they finally arrived at Hime’s mansion and lived happily there. Yeah, she thinks how happy everything is and all this is like a dream. Maybe if she could just open her eyes a little more…
 
Back in Hime’s mansion, Hime is having her usual tea with Riza and Reiri while Flandre and Hiro serve them. Hime notices how tired Hiro is and thinks his flame is burning out and decides to recharge him later. Suddenly the whole mansion experiences a blackout and the gang wonders where Flandre has gone to. Hiro goes in search for her throughout the mansion but she is nowhere to be found. She’s not even in her own room recharging. Where could she be? Even so, what is the cause of this blackout since Flandre isn’t using up immense electricity to recharge? Just then, something creepy crawls by and OMG! It’s that ‘Thing’ from that inn! Remember that hideous looking multi-eyed spider (or does it look like a potato)? That ‘Thing’ suddenly grabs onto Hiro’s face like how you see those face hugging creatures in Aliens movie.
 
As Riza wonders how long Hiro is taking to look for Flandre, Reiri decides to have her nocturnal adventure by flying out of the mansion. Hey, she’s a vampire, remember? Of course the usual spat between Reiri and Riza as werewolves and vampires don’t get along well. After the short bickering, Reiri senses something amiss. That’s when Hiro frantically comes in, a little bruised, and manages to shut the door behind him as the ‘Thing’ tries to break it down. Then Riza too sense something amiss. She can’t transform her paws like she usually does when she’s engaged in battle. Reiri too says that she realized that she can’t fly either. As the ‘Thing’ backs off, Hiro collapses. Hime then asks him why aren’t his wounds healing itself.
 
Back at Master’s cafe, Sawawa continues to explain the ‘liveliness’ of the mansion and suggests for Master to come by and play with them. Surely that guy wouldn’t pass a chance like this, right? Yeah, he wants to see her room and wonders if Hiro would call him big brother. Hint hint. Since Sawawa is a dense girl, she says he’ll definitely call him so if Master asks him to because he’s a good boy. Just give it up Master…
 
Hime and the rest are walking through the dark corridors of the mansion and are trying to understand what is happening when Hiro spots Hiroko running into the room. Yup, it’s that cat girl alright. Hiro chases after her. Just then Master gives Sawawa a new parfait combo of his. If you ask me, it looks unappetizing and disgusting. How can she say that it’s delicious?! Ah, don’t judge a book by its cover. Sawawa then says how she’ll bring her little sister Hiroko here. Master thinks that she too must be cute until Sawawa mentions that her ears and tail are cute too. He must be confused already, huh? As Hiro chases Hiroko into a corner, she disappears and what greets Hiro is a punch from Lobo (Riza’s late older brother). Lobo starts attacking Riza but Hime finishes him off with her axe. It seems Lobo disintegrates upon being hit.
 
Back in the living room, Hime takes the candle and starts setting the curtains on fire. She tells Riza and Hiro to visualize that the curtains are not burning. After doing so, the curtains are back to normal like as though they have not been set ablaze in the first place. Hime then says that they are in a dream. Back in reality, we see the 4 of them asleep while Flandre watches them on. Fuga fuga.
 
In the dream, they’re trying to figure out whose dream this is but Reiri points out that they’re all dreaming the same dream and this may be some kind of lucid dream. That is, one is aware that one is inside a dream while dreaming. Suddenly the headless knight horseman appears behind Riza and slashes and kills her before disappearing. Hime slaps Riza back alive and tells her that it’s all in her mind and that the enemy is out to kill her mind. After Riza gets up, Hime is concerned of how to wake up and escape from this dream. Hiro is experiencing some pain on his cheeks because Flandre is slapping his face in reality. Hime suspects that it’s Flandre’s doing because robots like her can’t dream. Yeah, their fate lies in her hands. She then makes a call to Sherwood. Back at Master’s place, Sawawa is asking him what are his dreams. I guess this must be the chance he is waiting for as he tells her how he wants to live with her for the rest of his lives. Unfortunately, all that effort has gone down the drain because Sawawa fell asleep. Do you sometimes feel like strangling this girl?
 
Hime and the rest are running through the corridors which are seemingly on the verge of collapsing. Hiro and Riza got stuck under a pile. They keep telling themselves that this is only a dream and soon those pile of rubbles disappear. But it’s not over yet as that monster shark (the one from the lost ship) swallows Riza. I guess she got pretty use to keep telling herself that this is just a dream and poof! The shark is gone. Riza and Hiro regroup with Hime and Reiri and Hiro seems to be feeling tired. His flame is going to extinguish soon if they don’t get out of this dream. Since they’re not in their real bodies, Hime is unable to do so.
 
Flandre lets in Sherwood who has just arrived at the doorstep with Francesca and Ryu Ryu. Sherwood learns that Hiro’s flame is soon to be extinguished when Ryu Ryu falls asleep. Sherwood too feels sleepy herself and thinks something must be causing this. She orders the fuga robots to scan the vicinity. As Hiro grows weary, Hime hears footsteps of someone approaching. OMG! It’s that oversized psychopath dam killer with a paper bag over his head! Not 1, but several of them as they surround them. Hime leaves Hiro in Riza’s care as Reiri follows her to Hime’s room. Upon opening the door, they could only see an endless dark space. The psychopath killer then pushes Reiri down but Hime manages to slash him before she gets the same fate. How pitiful Reiri saying she doesn’t deserve all this. She’s falling endlessly…
 
Hime goes back alone to Hiro and Riza, who has just dispatched all the psychopath killer clones. Riza tells Hime to do something when Hime raises her axe and is going to kill him! Is she serious?! But she did mention that they’ll wait by the skin of their teeth on whether Sherwood will make it or not. If Sherwood manages to do so in time, then Hime will kill the mind before the body because this dream belongs to Hiro. Since only Hime and Hiro have been to that illusion town, it’s either Hime or Hiro’s dream as they are the only ones who recognize that psychopath killer. To narrow it down further, since Hiro has never been into Hime’s room, he can’t visualize what’s in there, thus only a dark space. So this dream will only end if they kill his mind. As soon as they’re free from the dream, they’ll save him. But if his body dies first, they won’t escape this dream. However that’ll be too risky and the results won’t be guaranteed, that’s why Hime says that they’ll wait till the very end.
 
Flandre and Francesca have finished scanning the area as Sherwood uses her powers to replenish Hiro’s flames just before falling asleep. Hime was about to strike Hiro when Hiro awakens. Hime then vanished for a short while and soon reappeared without her axe. Furthermore, the reappeared Hime doesn’t know what’s going on. Sherwood and Ryu Ryu are in the dream as she tells them how her sister will end all this. She then announces out loud to the assassin that he has lost because his real body is in danger. The voice of the assassin replies how all that is impossible as they’re trapped in this dream world. In reality, Hime has found the assassin, which looks like a hideous 3-eyed worm and slashes it with her axe.
 
When everyone is back in the real world, Hime explains how her escape from Hiro’s dream. When Sherwood replenished Hiro’s flame, Hiro visualized a strong image of Hime upon receiving the flame (Hime in a sexy position comes to mind?). With that, Hime was shunned out of his dream and a copy of her was created to replace her in his dream. So in order to bring back Hime’s consciousness, Hiro released her from his dream. Upon waking up, Hime tells the robots to take her to where the assassin is. Finally Hime says that even though Hiro has received Sherwood’s flames, his heart belongs to her which means Hiro completely and only recognizes Hime as his master. I felt that last line was like rubbing it into Sherwood’s face that Hiro will never be hers. Sherwood is clearly upset about this and orders Francesca and Ryu Ryu to teach him a lesson. Poor guy. He still gets punishment whether it’s a dream or reality. Meanwhile Master covers Sawawa with a blanket and wishes her sweet dreams.
 
Even if this episode was pretty decent to me, it still left me with a few questions. Especially the last part where Hime’s explanation about Hiro’s dream. For instance, why in the world did Hiro created another Hime to replace the one in his dream? I know he needs to be anywhere his master is but in a dream as well? And does it really matter whose flame Hiro receives in order to revive? Perhaps I may have forgotten the whole thing on how this flame replenishing works but how does Hime know Hiro was visualizing her? Even so what Hiro was thinking? It’s like Hime sort of knows everything in the end and has a good idea what is happening. But I guess that’s what makes her mysterious and ‘charming’.
 
Say, I kinda realized that Sawawa spent the whole episode at Master’s cafe. She really loves that place, doesn’t she? Yeah, sleeping there as well… Perhaps it’s better to let her be. And Master, he can keep dreaming. It’s nice that this OVA episode brought back some nostalgic memories while I was watching the TV series and short cameo appearances of side characters too made me recall them. Well, just like a dream.
 
Still pretty much of this OVA isn’t really that different from the TV series. I mean, it’s a little predictable in the sense that some assassin still wants to take Hime’s life and sets out several traps but in the end Hime gets the upper hand and triumphs in the end. And poor Hiro still bears the brunt of it all. Can’t complain, since this is the life he is destined to live. Forever. Perhaps one day he would hope and wish that he’d wake up from all this bad dream, huh?
 
Kaibutsu Oujo

Happiness!

April 18, 2009

You might be forgiven if the name of this anime title sounds like it’s targeted for younger audiences. On the other hand, you may be partly correct if you think that the name has something associated with adult materials. Happiness! is another one of those many PC H-game simulations given the anime treatment. And even though the game itself has adult contents, it is pretty much toned down in the TV series. Albeit that there are a few fanservice elements.
 
If you like a little high school teenage romance with a little magic, then I suppose that this 12 episode TV series should suit you fine. With a motto of "It’s a happy and heartful school life", I’m sure that’s one reason why they call this game-turned-TV series so. Yeah, read between the lines too. If you know what I mean ;p.
 
Having said that magic is part of the theme of the series, in this world there are those who could use magic and are deemed mages. Well, if we call them magicians, first thing comes to mind is that they are that performers and entertainers you see on stage. Plus, you can tell whether that particular person is a mage or not because each mage carries a unique talking wand of their own. You can’t cast a spell without them, right?
 
Just like our main heroine, Haruhi Kamisaka, who is currently a very skilled mage in training at Mizuhosaka Academy. Probably the best at her grade. I found out that her wand, Soprano, is actually a straightened-out trumpet. Why is she so keen on learning magic? As seen in episode 1, back when she was a little girl, she was bullied by several young lads. Ah, the dark side of human nature still alive and kicking well. She is ‘rescued’ when a boy her age uses his magic to teach those bullies a lesson they’ll never forget. Albeit that magic was a little too strong. Ever since then, Haruhi has been interested to learn about magic and hopes to meet that mysterious boy who saved her. You could also say that she harbours a crush on him.
 
This episode also introduces the other characters. Like Haruhi’s self-proclaimed friend-cum-rival, Anri Hiiragi and her wand Paella. Some may describe Anri as a walking disaster because even though she’s a mage in training just like Haruhi, her magic seems to screw up in the end causing hilarious and sometimes dangerous magic effect. Needs more training, though. Although viewers may find her annoying in the sense that she wants to best everything Haruhi does, she still comes to the aid of her friends whenever needed. Then there’s their 1 year senior Koyuki Takamine and her squeaky lively green ball which partly acts as her wand, Tama. Koyuki may sound like a dreamy girl but she’s actually the member of the school’s Divination Club and her specialty is fortune telling or prediction. Well, the only member of her club, that is.
 
There are 2 sections at Mizuhosaka Academy. One of course is the Magic Section and those who do not posses them go under the Regular Section. Like our main male protagonist, Yuuma Kohinata. Your typical normal nice guy who won’t hesitate to help his buddies in need. Then he has 2 close friends one of them being Hachisuke Takamizo or Hachi for short, your typical loser guy who wants to get a girlfriend of his own but couldn’t. But thankfully, he’s not as bad as most perverts in other animes. Finally the ‘interesting’ one is Jun Watarase. Looks like a lively and bubbly girl at first sight, right? Well, not quite accurate. Jun is actually a guy! OMG! Another cross-dresser. One can’t help think how pretty this guy look while dressing up and act like a girl but cringe on the fact that he’s still actually a guy beneath all that. Sheesh… Looks can be deceiving. It would be spine chilling to think that if he ever had her own fan base of her own. Wait a minute, there’s an imagination on that one in this episode! *Cringes*. Plus, Jun at times has an ironic tendency to criticise the male species like on how they think on love and such. And he’s a guy you know…
 
Also in this episode, Valentine’s Day is coming up soon and the girls are trying to buy chocolates for their loved ones. Of course Haruhi only has her mind on that mysterious little saviour. I can’t believe Anri even came out with the idea that Haruhi is thinking of buying Valentine Chocolates to give to guys so that she can even be more popular. Jealous or what? Not wanting to lose out, Anri decides to tag along with Haruhi to go Valentine chocolate shopping. At the store, it’s packed with desperate (oops) girls and Koyuki too is having a hard time because previously lots of girls came seeking her prediction what kind of chocolates will bring them good luck. After they’re done shopping, on their way home, Haruhi spots a couple of nasty boys picking on a little girl’s little Valentine chocolate gift. Deja vu? Yuuma then comes by to stop them but those brats tossed the chocolate before running away and leaving that poor girl in tears. Haruhi uses her magic to return the chocolate back to normal which makes her happy once more.
 
The next day at school in an empty hall, Anri is pestering Haruhi who she’s going to give her chocolates to because Anri is going to give hers to that same guy too. Real kiasu case. Haruhi laments the fact she won’t be giving her chocolates to any guy this year so Anri gets upset and starts to use her magic to take it by force. Of course it goes out of control and is heading towards Yuuma and co, who was just passing by. Yuuma shoves Hachi out of the way and nearly got a direct hit. It could’ve been fatal. Luckily he’s not wounded. Haruhi comes by to apologize and decides to give her Valentine chocolates out of her whim instead. Yuuma accepts and that is when Anri decides to give him hers too. Kiasu betul. After they leave, Hachi rues the fact that he should’ve been hit by that magic instead. Loser. That night, Haruhi thinks how Yuuma resembles closely to her mysterious saviour. Well, they certainly almost do look close. The next day while watching TV, there has been a report that the Magic Section of Mizuhosaka Academy has been hit by a gas explosion so the students of the Magic Section will be temporarily transferred to the Regular Section. Not surprisingly, Haruhi and Anri end up in the same class as Yuuma and his buddies. Coincidence or fate? But certainly not magic.
 
Episode 2 begins with the new magic students introducing herself. Haruhi must be relieved to note that pretty Jun is actually a guy and that she has a chance to get closer to Yuuma. Just kidding on that last bid. Since this is also the new school term, everyone is preparing to set up chairs in the hall for the ceremony. In order to hasten the process, Anri uses her magic. Good thing is she lined them up all properly. Bad thing is, they’re upside down on the ceiling. It’s starting to rain chairs! Take cover everyone! With such a bad record, nobody is going to trust her magic skills anymore. So the entrance ceremony goes on without a hitch the next day and we learn that Yuuma’s little sister, Sumomo, will be attending the same school too. In class, in Hachi’s attempt to hit on the mage babes, he invites them to a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) and gets Yuuma to wake up early and pick a spot. Yuuma and Haruhi are doing their errands for the hanami as Haruhi tells him about her saviour and the reason she got to take up magic. However it seems Yuuma isn’t too fond of those using and relying on magic because he thinks it won’t always bring happiness.
 
The next day Haruhi wakes up early to find that Yuuma is sleeping at their booked spot. I guess she didn’t want him to wait alone. Then Sumomo turns up and we learn that she and Haruhi were once childhood friends. So how come Yuuma doesn’t know about Haruhi? Well, it seems Sumomo isn’t his real sister related by blood too and that they only got to know each other since Sumomo entered elementary grade. Ah, I should’ve seen this coming. Then as Jun and Hachi arrived, Hachi regrets his earlier scheming plan and should’ve been the one to come and wait instead. Loser will always be a loser. While at that, Anri comes crashing into Hachi riding her Paella, knocking him out. Then the gang finds out that the reason why their spot is less crowded was because of Koyuki who put up a barrier there last night. Yup, she’s there too. Koyuki then uses her magic to create more food (a whole fridge of fresh food?) when it started raining. Sure, there’s a spell to change the weather, but to put what Koyuki exactly said: "If you don’t mind the risk of destroying the world…". Anri uses this opportunity and her kiasu-ness to cast a spell to stop the rain but it got even heavier. Not only that, it’s raining sake! Hey, there are minors here, you know. Then it started to flood. While Hachi is absolutely drunk, Haruhi tries to use her magic but couldn’t and collapses. In the end, it was Koyuki’s magic which stopped it all as she and Yuuma carried the rest back to their respective homes. Koyuki asks if Yuuma hates magic in which he denies. Haruhi is talking in her sleep as she says how she’ll make everyone happy with her magic.
 
In episode 3, the school cafeteria, Oasis, is experiencing bad business. The food must suck so much that the students are bringing their own bentos to school for lunch. So in order to help bring business back, Anri who is working there part time decides to help advertise. But it still didn’t work out. In her desperate attempt, she uses her screwed up magic which has large animals coming out from the student’s bento (WTF?!). Then Haruhi suggests going to Oasis but Yuuma seems reluctant. But he is being dragged along anyway. Now we find out about his reluctance. It seems that Oasis’s owner is his young mom, Otoha. It’s understandable that any kid at that age wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by their parents. At first the other students start to patron the cafe but since Anri is doing an awful job as a waitress (yeah, she’s the only one), they start to leave. Later the gang finds out that the reason why Anri is working part time is to earn and save enough money so that she could study at a famous magic institute in Europe and be Japan’s number 1 mage. Since it’s her dream, even Haruhi supports her and tells her to keep working harder.
 
So Jun teaches Anri the finer points of being a waitress. A little odd, isn’t it? But she’s still too brute and definitely doesn’t fit it. Then Hachi says about Anri’s fashion sense to attract customers by suggesting a naked apron and earning himself Jun’s trademark Patriot Missile Kick in the face. Ouch! But that night, Anri did made a waitress outfit of her own. Erm… Looks more like cosplay but I guess it’s enough to attract customers in. I’m not saying that the food tastes bad but even if it did, they could feast their eyes on this lovely girl. Hehe. But that’s just the guys. What about the girls? Koyuki uses her fortune telling for those girls in need to eat at Oasis to improve their luck. Slick. Because Anri’s the only waitress there, the increasing number of customers means she has extra burden to shoulder. So she creates several clones of herself to help out. Of course they soon turn haywire messing up orders and over-refill glasses. Anri tries to destroy them but they’ve gotten ‘smarter’ and deflect her attacks. But with the support of Haruhi and Yuuma, for once Anri’s magic manages to send all her clones into oblivion. She collapses due to exhaustion as she dreams about the first time how she met Haruhi. Yeah, she challenged the top magic student but since Haruhi felt Anri was being herself and not too formal like the rest, I guess that’s where their weird relationship hit off. Anri wakes up to find sakura petals floating everywhere and soon she continues working at Oasis to achieve her dream.
 
In episode 4, Sumomo thinks of joining Koyuki’s Divination Club in order to avoid it of to be shut down and pleads for the rest to join too. I guess they can’t turn down a cute loli, can’t they? The funny part was when Koyuki decides to introduce the other ghost members of the club (meaning, inactive members) but they turn out to be real ghosts instead! Now we know why nobody wants to join. Then their first activity is to make their own Tama. The end result of the Tama they produced depends very much on their kneading. Anri’s one was so bad-ass with an attitude that it turned red and exploded! They all could’ve been blown to bits if not of Koyuki’s quick action. I can’t believe that Koyuki actually keeps count of how many Tamas she has made so far. Ah well, she is its creator. However, one of the Tamas feels that she is being left out and not remembered by Koyuki. So that night she runs away from home. The next morning, Koyuki tells of the gang about Tama’s disappearance so they go in search of her. How can they find a little green ball in this big town?
 
Luckily Haruhi and Yuuma managed to find Tama at a magic exhibition hall and found out her reason for running away. For the record, this Tama is number 984. Then the recreation of the ancient Sphere-Tom is about to start as they go watch. However that old guy seems not to know his chanting lines well as the Sphere-Tom turns into a big black menacing round monster. As everyone in the hall panics and starts running helter-skelter, Yuuma notes this is what happens when one uses magic to attract customers. As the black blob goes on a rampage, the gang converges at the place as Tama 984 meets up with Koyuki. She tells her that she hasn’t forgotten about her at all and goes on to describe each of her other Tama’s unique characteristic. She does remember them all. With that they have reconciled. The blob is soon going to explode and Tama 984 decides to make her explosive finale. I don’t know how but how can a little green ball lift up a seemingly heavy black blob into the sky? Boom. The next day, Sumomo learns that everyone else decides to drop out from the Divination Club because they can’t stand getting detailed misfortune SMS on their handphone. What about the club’s fortune’s then? Haruhi explains that the chairman of this school is Yuzuha, which is Koyuki’s mom. Which means it won’t be shut down even if it has 1 member. Sumomo is still concern that it will be lonely for Koyuki. Thus her club is relocated in Oasis and her fortune telling corner has grown to be quite popular.
 
In episode 5, Hachi goes back to retrieve his playboy magazine at school in the dead heat of the night when he spots a cute ghost girl. He gets knocked out upon approaching her. So the next morning as his pals wonder about Hachi’s whereabouts, they are shocked to find Hachi still passed out on the school steps! He’s still having that magazine in hand. Later he tells his buddies about it and is real adamant to help that ghost girl ascend to heaven. I’m not sure if it’s his heaven he’s talking about. That night Hachi leads the gang in search of that ghost girl but meets Koyuki instead. She tells them that she predicted something evil and has cast a barrier on the school. Plus, she felt an intrusion other than their presence. Hachi in his happiness rushes off to find the ghost girl, in which he did as he spots her crying on the stairways. He closes in to ascend her to heaven but once again experiences blackout. The next day, the gang notices the ghost girl’s school uniform same as theirs from the photo that Hachi managed to take of her. They come out with questions of how this girl came to this school.
 
That night they do another round but this time they spot another girl who then flies away in her umbrella (like Mary Poppins style?) once her presence has become known. Anri who ran ahead of the group ends up in an empty room and casts a spell to prevent whoever got away but instead turned the plants into man-eating plants. Run for your lives (again)! Hachi too got separated and this time he meets the ghost girl in a classroom. He learns her name as Saya Kamijou. They’re both talking different things when the overgrown man-eating plant grabs Saya and soon the others in its grasps. Then some guy with a wooden sword comes by to cut them all lose and end the menacing threat. Later the gang learns that he is Shinya and is Saya’s twin brother. They’re supposed to be transfer students at their school and the reason they’re here at night is because Shinya has a very bad sense of direction! Another guy who gets lost often. Yeah, he’s training himself to get to school without getting lost. Didn’t work, huh? But the funny part is that since Saya is his twin, they have that sort of link in the sense that whenever she is in danger, he can sense where she is and head straight there in a split second! Wow! So Hachi’s blackout was due to Shinya’s arrival and knocking him out cold. Yeah, he thinks Hachi is a pervert trying to do something bad on Saya. Thus the next day, Saya and Shinya are transferred into the same class with Yuuma and co. But Shinya isn’t here because he’s lost as expected. Jun gets a nasty idea to get him come as he pushes Hachi close to Saya, like as though he’s going to hug her. With that, Shinya instantly barges in and starts attacking Hachi. Oh boy.
 
As Haruhi practices her magic in a park at night in episode 6, she spots Saya talking to a girl but they go away after she calls to Saya. That girl, Ibuki Shikimori, seems to be another transfer student at Mizuhosaka Academy and is in the same class as Sumomo. Now the first thing viewers will notice that Ibuki is your typical stuck up obnoxious brat. But 1 thing which bugs me is that her voice sounds hoarse! I was expecting her to sound squeaky but she sounds a little brute. Kinda reminds me a little like Rukia of Bleach. Besides, she did made short appearances in the previous episodes if you notice. Anyway Sumomo is excited to let Yuuma and co meet her new friend (haha, they all think Sumomo has got herself a boyfriend). Hachi tries to get acquainted with Ibuki but deservingly gets zapped by her magic wand, Bisaimu. They learn that she is the next successor to her Shikimori family and is somewhat like a celebrity among mages. Furthermore, Shinya and Saya are Ibuki’s servants as their Kamijou family has always been to the Shikimori. However, Ibuki is quite cold and doesn’t want to make friends so the gang devices several plans to know her better. Like getting Sumomo to ask for her handphone number or exchange diaries but it all ended up in big time failure. Then Hachi comes up with a plan whereby he suggests Jun, Anri and Yuuma to dress up as gangsters and harass Ibuki. Then Sumomo comes in to save the day. But as they get prepared, Ibuki bumps into several real punks. As they threaten her, she uses her magic to zap them all. Good thing they didn’t go ahead or else they would’ve been toast!
 
Soon Sumomo seeks Koyuki’s advice but the latter didn’t give a direct answer so she decides to make a croquette lunch bento for Ibuki. But as usual, she rejects. Seeing how hard Sumomo is trying her best, Saya gives her a hint that Ibuki’s favourite food is omelette. After putting all her hard effort, Ibuki still refuses to accept and since she’s mad of her persistence, Ibuki accidentally knocks over and spills the omelette. Though she feels bad but I guess her pride made her say that it’s her fault and never to come near her again. B*tch! Later she and Saya had a little talk in which Saya advices her to reconsider her feelings. So she goes back to Sumomo’s class and decides to use her magic to fix back the bento but remembers her late sister Natsu’s words that the reason why she didn’t use magic to make food was that it tastes better when one makes it with sincerity. With that, Ibuki thinks that by doing so, it’ll not be acknowledging her labour love. Thus she picks up the omelette and eats it and finds it delicious. She also says she has accepted her sincerity and that she wouldn’t mind eating whatever bento she makes tomorrow. Yeah, the annoyance starts now. Ever since then, Sumomo has her lunch with Ibuki though the latter isn’t still too fond of her getting too close to her.
 
Just as episode 7’s title suggests, this episode has Sumomo and her gang trying to befriend further a still reluctant Ibuki. I’m sure Ibuki must be wondering why she has to go through all this crap since she herself doesn’t seem to really enjoy Sumomo’s company for lunch. If eating with Sumomo alone was just bad, think about eating lunch with the rest of her pals! Yeah, each of them bought their own bento and would they expect a girl like Ibuki to finish them all even if she’s not on diet or anything? She leaves without touching a single food. To deepen their relationship, they decide to invite her to a video arcade. She tried her hands on a racing game, a dance game and the crane game but flopped big time, upsetting her even further (she thinks Sumomo is making her lose face) and leaves. The rest are stumped as on how to improve their friendship when Koyuki suggests for them to take her out bowling since going out to a video arcade may not go down well with school authorities. That night, Ibuki has a chat with Shinya and Saya bout Sumomo and her pal’s annoying persistence and comes up with a conclusion that all she needs is to show her true powers and skills to those irritating buggers and that they’ll leave her once and for all and thus decides to join their bowling game. Even so, Ibuki doesn’t have the skills for bowling. I mean you’d see that typical joke when beginner bowlers make their first bowl. The bowling ball Ibuki bowl went missing right after she throws it. Well, actually it landed on Hachi’s head. Then the one whereby her fingers got stuck and she bowled herself sliding across the lane instead. Yeah, some killer move. More like hurting her pride.
 
Once Ibuki gets it right, Haruhi suggests a team-based competition in pairs and that the winner gets to eat whatever they want and the last team be punished. Then we get to see how bad Shinya’s sense of direction is because he bowled at somebody else’s lane! There’s no limit or cure to his lack of directional sense. In the end, team Haruhi-Anri wins while team Jun-Koyuki takes second place. Third place goes to Yuuma-Hachi team while the Kamijo siblings came in fourth. Which means team Ibuki-Sumomo occupies bottom spot. Is she bad luck or what. With that, their punishment would be a photo cosplay. Doesn’t sound that bad, right? In order not to make them feel ‘isolated’, the others too get into cosplay outfits (can’t say it look good on the guys) as they start taking several shots. At the end of the day, Ibuki doesn’t think the bunch isn’t that all bad and wonders if she could go bowling with them again (on the pretext that her lost was an embarrassment to her family). Even so, I find her still a brat at times.
 
Episode 8 is the real reason why this series is called so because it’s a beach episode with your typical fanservice and our magical girls in their bikinis. Okay, maybe I’m just kidding about the first part. The jin-jang gang takes a summer vacation trip to Mizuhosaka Academy’s Practice Grounds which is located near the forest mountains next to the trip, courtesy of Koyuki. Yeah, it seems she hasn’t completely erased their names from her club, which allows them to use the grounds for the holidays. Call it a blessing in disguise if you will. Plus, Ibuki, Shinya and Saya have temporarily joined the club and Otoha tags along with them. Also, it seems Jun is trying to play matchmaker between Yuuma and Haruhi as he tells Yuuma to get along well with Haruhi and treat her nicely. So expect the swimsuit fanservice, sun lotion rubbing fanservice, and the watermelon splitting event whereby blindfolded Koyuki has to hit the real watermelon or else it’s Tama or Hachi’s head that will be split! Thankfully she didn’t miss. Then a competition in pairs to see who can hike first to the hilltop as the last team will have to do meal duties. Guess who made it last? Don’t worry, it isn’t Ibuki this time. Why, Shinya’s lost-ness has taken to a whole new level. I’m still wondering how did he get lost on a buoy at sea! Also, Jun gave Haruhi and Yuuma a fake map so they’ll take a longer time to reach their destination. Because of that, the duo had a little time of their own and ended up at a waterfall. Haruhi decides to take a short swim when a tree log falls over. She tries to use her magic but couldn’t do so in time and if not for Yuuma’s quick reflexes, she would’ve been a goner. Because of that, Yuuma scolds her about relying too much on magic. Other developments in this episode sees Ibuki and the Kamijo siblings doing an investigation of their own in the forest and come across a weak magical barrier and suspects that Haruhi may be the daughter of ‘that woman’.
 
That night, as everyone gathers to watch the fireworks, Haruhi and Yuuma have another round of chat. They are then being ambushed by a pack of wild dogs. Haruhi remembers Yuuma’s words so she’s a little hesitant to use her magic. But when the pack overpowers them, she decides to use her magic even if Yuuma will hate her. After zapping the dogs, they reconcile and Yuuma tells her that he doesn’t really hate the use of magic. They hold hands and looked up at the beautiful starry night sky. The next day, everyone takes a train ride home as Haruhi notes how she got along fine with Yuuma for this trip.
 
Ibuki and the Kamijous continue to try and break the barrier in that forest called Shikimori Forest in episode 9 and thinks Haruhi is the daughter of that woman who stole the Shikimori Treasure. Back at Mizuhosaka Academy, it’s the school festival and Yuuma’s class is doing a cafe. I know Jun is eager to get into a maid outfit and looks pretty but no matter how you look at it, it disgusts the guys because they can’t help think of his true gender underneath all that. Otoha gave some stuff to Yuuma and Haruhi for their class and teases them if Haruhi should bring her son to the after-festival dance party. I guess by this time now all the other guys in Yuuma’s class are so jealous that he’s got Haruhi all to himself. Jun notes how dumb guys are. He’s the one to say… As Yuuma and Haruhi make their way back to class, they bump into their school teacher, Suzuri Minagi. She tells them that she’ll be going for an overseas business trip and wants Haruhi to notify her if there is any intrusion at the Shikimori Forest as she has placed a slight barrier seeing that somebody tried to do so. That night Haruhi has a nightmare about Yuuma in danger. Ibuki then makes her move by hypnotizing her and orders her to break the barrier and hand over the secret treasure. I don’t know how or why but luckily Anri managed to foil her plans and snap Haruhi back to reality. You can count on Ibuki to be back again.
 
The next day as the festival begins, Haruhi still doesn’t believe that it was Ibuki’s doing when Anri told her about what happened. Later Haruhi SMS a message to Yuuma saying that she can’t be his partner for the after-festival party as she has something to do. Plus, she indicates how she feels Yuuma isn’t the same boy who saved her years ago. Don’t get her wrong. She’d loved to dance with him. Just that she felt that now isn’t the appropriate time to do so. As Yuuma reads this message, Ibuki comes by. It seems Ibuki is using Yuuma as bait to lure Haruhi into giving the secret. Yeah, he’s been ‘tied’ to Ibuki’s magical spell in mid-air. It’s either the boy or the secret. The duo then engaged in a magical duel. At the same time, Saya and Shinya are looking for Ibuki and since Saya can’t find her, she tells Sumomo about it. Soon Sumomo and Saya arrive during the midst of the heated battle. Yuuma is upset that the girls are using magic to kill themselves and tells them to stop. He then unleashes some latent power to set off a series of stray explosions and set himself free. Unfortunately one of the explosions hit innocent Sumomo and Yuuma is bloody devastated when he finds out about that. Play with magic some more lah.
 
In episode 10, Sumomo’s life is delicately hanging in the balance. Her soul is on the verge of leaving her body. Literally. As she’s being rushed to hospital, we see Sumomo in a coma and her soul dangerously floating in and out of her body. Though in medical sense she is safe, in magical sense Sumomo is still in danger of losing her soul and ultimately her life. Yuuma is pissed about the whole thing and leaves even if Haruhi tries to calm him down and explain things. At the same time Otoha has arrived at hospital while Jun and Hachi learns the reason Yuuma and the rest had left early without telling them. On their way home, the duo spot Yuuma sitting dejectedly alone on a bench in the rain. Soon Suzuri comes back because she sense something was amiss. So they send him back to his home and I know Jun’s trying to cheer him up but suggesting to wash his back and strips naked? Yeah, this confirms it. He’s wearing panties alright. Thankfully, Hachi restrains Jun from his ‘unholy’ act. Anyway Suzuri tells them that due to Sumomo’s condition, any slight provocation may cause her soul to leave her body and when that happens, her soul won’t be able to return to her body anymore. Thus she suggests to transfer Sumomo’s body to a safer environment, which is her own room. There, Suzuri explains everything. It seems Suzuri and Otoha are best friends but the surprising thing was that Yuuma is actually the real son of Suzuri! Back when Yuuma was young, he had great powers but was unable to control them. They were so powerful that they caused others more harm than good. So Yuuma was indeed that boy who saved Haruhi back then. Even though there were no serious injuries and those bully kids’ parents held Yuuma personally responsible, that wasn’t the main reason why Suzuri had to put Yuuma under Otoha’s care and sealed his memories about his magic and that she was his real mom.
 
Back then, a young Shinya and Saya were saddened about their mom’s death so their dad asked them if they would like to see her once more. One night he stole the Shikimori Treasure and started chanting some lines to break its seal. However it went wrong and unleashes demon angels instead. He perished. The odd thing is that the Shikimori Treasure is indeed some demon angel and when used differently, it could be used to revive the dead. By that time, news of the Shikimori Treasure’s seal has been broken so mages like Suzuri and Yuzuha came back to reseal them but their numbers and power were too great. One way to reseal it was to sacrifice a life and that was what Natsu (who feels that she should be the one held responsible for all this) did in her final attempt as she blows her flute to seal them all. In present time, Ibuki is alone in the dark, yearning to see her sister again. So at least we know her goal now.
 
Episode 11 continues with Suzuri’s explanation saying that the Shikimori’s Treasure being stolen was the main reason Yuuma’s care was transferred to Otoha since both incidents occurred nearly at the same time. Even if the Shikimori Treasure is sealed, its power to seal them remains strong so they hid it within the Shikimori Forest and built Mizuhosaka Academy next to it so that Suzuri could keep watch over it. Sumomo’s condition is getting worse so Suzuri can’t delay any further. She gives Haruhi Natsu’s flute and tells her to give it to Yuuma if she sees him so that he could use his magic to a certain degree. As Suzuri works her magic to heal Sumomo, Shinya and Saya has found where the treasure is and manages to break the seal (albeit just a small one) and reports this back to Ibuki. The next morning, Jun decides to cheer Yuuma up by taking him to an aquarium while Haruhi and Anri prepares to stop Ibuki, finds Koyuki collapsed at their feet. Thankfully she just hadn’t eaten due to her intense divination (she saw herself and her pals laying unconscious. A bad sign?). After getting some nourishment, Koyuki tells them that she and Ibuki were playmates when they were young and Ibuki had known about the treasure early in the year and had penetrated the school grounds. In order to stop her, Koyuki ambushed her first but was unsuccessful. Thus she was the cause of the explosion and destruction of the Magic Section. I see. Soon they detected somebody has entered the Shikimori Forest. Koyuki tells Haruhi that she has to find Yuuma while Koyuki herself and Anri will try and stop Ibuki.
 
Meanwhile Yuuma is still dejected and feeling guilty (he’s wondering what he’s going to do if anything happens to Sumomo) at the aquarium but got separated from Jun. Then this odd part is when a little naughty kid lifts up Jun’s skirt and runs away. Though Jun’s reaction is like any other upset girl who has her modesty outraged, I hope that little kid will get the shock of his life if he ever learns Jun is a he. That’ll stop him from his mischievous pranks. Also that proves how feminine Jun is ;p. Hachi gets a shocking call from Haruhi and thinks she digs him (get real!). Actually she’s calling him to find out about Yuuma’s whereabouts. Though disappointed, Hachi decides to help find him too. Koyuki and Anri arrives at the spot where the seal is broken but Ibuki and co surprisingly hasn’t arrived yet. They soon do and we find out the reason for being late was that Shinya was leading the way. Haha. What about Saya? She got permission from Ibuki to have a little rest and will catch up with them soon. Ibuki should’ve known better than depend on him. Putting that aside, it’s showdown time.
 
Well we won’t get to see how that fight go in episode 12 because it begins with Koyuki and Anri lying unconsciously on the ground as Ibuki and Shinya make their way into the shrine cave. Then we find out it was Koyuki’s ploy to act as though they are defeated. Is this how she interpreted her divinations? But I guess it’s good because nobody got hurt. Just before Koyuki and Anri could enter the place, Saya arrives and tells them to turn back. Even though she knows all this is wrong, her loyalty has no choice but to follow her master’s wishes even if it’s down the wrong path. Ibuki has found the treasure and says how she’s going to use it to fulfil all her desires. And I thought she just wanted to see Natsu. I guess it’s natural for humans to lose their senses to greed when they are in grasped of power. She unleashes the treasure but her happiness of seeing Natsu turned into horror when she realizes something has turned wrong. Well, she didn’t exactly learn from the last time this happened although she wasn’t involved then. The seal then unleashes uncontrollable spirits and is turning violent. The demon angels start attacking Ibuki as Shinya tries to defend her.
 
At the same time, Hachi has found Yuuma sitting all alone on the park bench and calls Jun. I guess it’s Hachi’s turn to say how it’s a man’s intuition when Jun himself is unable to locate Yuuma. Haruhi then comes by and tells Yuuma how Sumomo is under the care of Suzuri. Haruhi tries to persuade Yuuma to come but he’s still thinking that using magic may cause more harm than good and that his is disastrous and won’t make anyone happy. However Haruhi dismisses about it and tells him how his magic did made her happy and that she was when he saved a little girl back then. Yuuma is still reluctant when he heard a female voice from the flute. As Haruhi gives him the flute, all his sealed memories came back. Yuuma asks Haruhi if it’s possible he can pull through this one and her reply was that she believes in him and asks him to use his courage. Haruhi then kisses Yuuma, leaving Hachi and Jun in extreme shock. I hope the kiss isn’t the reason Yuuma decides to use his magic ;p. Meanwhile Ibuki has a hard time defending herself because Shinya has been totally wounded as she tries to protect themselves with her weakening barrier. Ibuki can’t leave Shinya alone even if he tells her too. On the outside, more demon angels are spawning. Koyuki, Saya and Anri are even having a tough time subduing them as they are heading towards town. They can’t let it slip or else innocent lives will be in danger.
 
Yuuma comes in to save the day as he plays the flute like pro with the guidance of Natsu’s spirit to seal all the demon angels. But it’s going to be a tough job. Inside the cave, as he is going to make the final seal, the other demon angels combined each other into a giant one to give Yuuma a run for his money. It is then that all the mages decides to lend him their powers to put a stop to this (it bugs me to see why they show a visual of the girls’ spirit as the only ones naked when they lend their powers to him. Fanservice? probably). He manages to do so without having to resort to sacrificing his own life. Yuuma passes the flute to Ibuki who then is temporarily ‘transported’ to another setting as she meets with Natsu. They are glad to see each other as Natsu tells her that there are other people around her who cares for her and to treasure them as well. Ibuki cries when she comes back to reality. At the same time, Sumomo has awaken from her coma and notes her mom sleeping next to her as she covers a blanket over her. In the aftermath, we see Tama telling everything of what has happened to Suzuri and Yuzuha. We also see the rest of the gang going about with their daily normal lives. Like Anri is still waitressing at Oasis with Otoha, Sumomo still having her lunch with Ibuki (though her expression of the latter still indicates annoyance), Shinya still getting lost and finally Jun telling Hachi that Yuuma has been transferred to the Magic Section. Haruhi comes by to see Yuuma trying to control his little magic to grow a little stalk. It then surprised them as it grows into a giant tree in full bloom of the sakura petals. Not only this tree but the other trees around them too starts to sprout those lovely cherry blossoms. Well, I guess he needs more practice. And as Haruhi notes, there’s a little feeling of happiness in it. So are they a couple?
 
But it’s not really over yet because there is an OVA episode which is mainly on Jun and how he turned into a girl for a short spell. That’s right. You heard me correct. As Jun and Yuuma are on their way to school, they pass a couple of boys and one of them says how cute that girl is until his buddy pointed out that the number 1 beauty in this town is actually a guy. Outside the school gates, I’m even amazed that Jun has his own fanclub! A good mix of guys and girls too! Wow! It goes to show that it doesn’t matter if your appearance inside or outside that matters but the heart. And you know Jun is quite a lively person himself. At the same time, Anri is practising her disastrous magic which still produces disastrous results so Haruhi has to unleash her defensive magic. Koyuki also does a mistake on her divination spell while Shinya is going to teach Hachi a lesson with his magic because he believes he saw that pervert hugging Saya so happily and Ibuki orders Bisaimu to use her magic to scare off pestering Sumomo. Now all that magic somehow combined and are heading towards Jun and Yuuma’s direction. But Jun got hit since he decide to head in first. After that, Jun felt something strange and wishes himself to be excused. At the toilet, he examines himself and thanks God that he has turned into a girl! Yeah, he’s loving it and so happy that this day has come. Jun excitedly announces his change of gender in front of his classmates and of course they too are in disbelieve. Believe it! As Jun happily continues to live with his newfound body changes, Haruhi concludes how all their magic has turned Jun into the fairer sex. Now there are more guys admiring her! I guess since she’s a girl now, they won’t cringe on the fact that he’s a guy anymore. But I still wonder why the Jun club members aren’t too fond at first. Are they implying that the guys in this club are gay and like him as a boy dressed up as a girl?! Not until Jun tells them that they can still hold activities together, did they all rejoice and love Jun even more.
 
Later Hachi goes up to Jun and says since that they’ve known each other for so long, he wants to kiss her! Jun isn’t amused with his joke and lands him the trademark Patriot Missile Kick. But it isn’t powerful as before because of the change in body mass with Jun even losing balance. Hachi thinks Jun has accepted his love and continues to hound him but was hit away by Shinya, who in return wants a kiss from Jun! Is this guy turning into a pervert too?! Well not only him, all the other guys too! Even the male teachers! Like perverted zombies they are, they start chasing Jun around school as he tries to escape. So was it better for him to remain a cross-dressed guy then?
 
Jun finds refuge in Suzuri’s office and when Yuuma asks her how to remove the magic, Jun protests because he really does like this girl body of his. Suzuri explains that since his body was turned into one due to magic, it has more charm than a normal girl would have and to a point where guys lose themselves. Just thinking at all those kiss obsessed perverts would send a shrivelling chill down Jun’s spine. They have to undo the spell now or else Jun will forever be a girl and everyday will be as chaotic as today. Because Jun doesn’t want anyone to get hurt and that she loves everyone, she agrees to be turn back into a guy. Yeah, he even notes how it’s a sin to be beautiful. The cure is to use up all the temporary magic stored in her body. He dresses up in a magical girl outfit as Haruhi teaches him some simple incantation lines. Then they go on a spree to gather all the guys at one spot as Jun chant his lines from the school top, releasing several sakura petals as they float down. All the guys are saying how happy they are as Jun returns back to normal. Before they go home, Jun tells Hachi to stand at a spot as the former does his Patriot Missile Kick to send him flying. Ah, back as before. I guess he wouldn’t have it any other way. Now if you noticed during the time Jun turned into a girl, how come Yuuma wasn’t affected? Then everyone notices how Yuuma has got boobs! OMG! Yuuma’s a girl! And he even didn’t noticed it! While Jun got zapped from the combined magic, Yuuma was nearby too so I guess he got caught by the radiation. All the other guys come up to him and says how beautiful he looked. WARGH!!! Here we go again. Another thing which bugged me was, how come the guys only chased Jun and not Yuuma when they’re both girls? Perhaps Yuuma didn’t obviously look like one.
 
Maybe they should’ve made more light-hearted episodes like the OVA then perhaps I would really enjoy it even more. I’m not saying that the series is boring or not enjoyable but rather decent in overall sense (if you don’t mind the few fanservice here and there). Basically I felt that story loses its plot in the middle of the series before picking it up a few episodes before the end. But I guess for those episodes, they’re pretty okay and fun to watch as well.
 
Ibuki may be the ‘villain’ here but it’s more of because she’s lost rather than anything else. After all, all she wanted was just to see her sister whom she missed dearly and I guess she’ll use any underhanded means in order to achieve her goals. And I found out later that Ibuki has mistaken Haruhi for the daughter of that woman who stole the Shikimori Treasure. So who is that woman anyway? As for Anri, I noticed her character isn’t as annoying as she used to be in the beginning. In the end, she doesn’t really challenge Haruhi to just about anything from the start. My guess is that it’s better for her to prove herself at her own pace rather than living up to direct challenges. Her magic still need lots of fine tuning, though. Koyuki’s way of saying how she predicted it to turn out like that still boggles me. Does she prefer to watch all the action unfold? Of course I find Tama’s bubbly personality infectious. Even though Jun doesn’t have any magic abilities, I sometimes find that his cross-dressing personality has a magic charm of his own. Though I’m not sure if Jun was joking because he did said somewhere in the series that he wanted to marry Yuuma. But I’m glad that in the end, Yuuma manages to overcome his fear that his magic causes trouble for those around him and hopefully just like Haruhi, will use it to help people and make them happy. Even if it’s magic, it’ll take some time to nurture. One won’t pop to be good just because of having them. Even mages are imperfect (Anri’s the best case).
 
The name of the opening theme is the same as the name of this series and is sung by Ayumi Murata. Sounds like a lively pop song if you ask me. I wonder what’s with the opening credits animation which has something to do with time. The ending theme is Magical Generation by Yui Sakakibara (who is also the voice of Haruhi) and feels like a dance pop song. On a trivial note, I noticed that Haruhi does the narration for the next episode preview and she seems to be fumbling on how to make a good preview, thus wasting time and before she knows it, her time is up. Even if she has got it right as the series progresses, it still doesn’t touch on what the next episode is about. As the characters chant their lines to cast a spell, I think they’re saying it in some Latin language. Some fansubber groups do take the trouble to subtitle the words they say (though it may or may not be accurate) while others just took the easy way out by putting "Chants spell" line throughout the incantation. I’m not saying they’re lazy or what, just that it feels complete with those words (not that I would understand anyway).
 
Although magic such as seen here don’t really exist in this world, but I’m sure if we take a closer look, we’ll find that there are a lot of tiny miracles happening all around us. Even a small helpful gesture or deed may be seen as magic to someone else. Just like how animes are magic to me. Hehehe. Now that’s where my real happiness lies…
 

Happiness!

When a single DVD special OVA episode for Kimikiss Pure Rouge came out quite some time ago, I was a little reluctant to watch it seeing that the TV series ended in a bad taste. I mean, if my memory serves me well, I could recall that our main hero and heroines ditched their respective loved ones and declared their love for each other. At least that’s how I viewed it.
 
I thought that this DVD special episode would continue off from there but I was sadly mistaken. This particular episode focuses primarily on Megumi Kuryuu and her romance-less life. You heard me correct. You know that strict public morals committee girl thinks she has the right and power go round reprimanding anybody for the slightest thing if they don’t adhere to the school rules. Ah, I guess that’s why she never got a boyfriend. Hehehe. Yeah, she was just a side character in the TV series who don’t make much appearance then. So I guess it’s no harm to give her some air time in this one off special episode.
 
The episode starts off with Hiiragi narrating about Kuryuu’s details and character. A sophomore of the school’s public moral committee whose daily morning ritual is to see people who come through the school gates obey the school rules. Yeah, she’s so dedicated to her job. Confiscate this. Lecturing that. And the most important detail as mentioned by Hiiragi: She has no boyfriend. I already said so… Hiiragi comes up to Kuryuu and compliments her job but she laments the fact that so many people aren’t following the rules. Hiiragi replies that it’s because everyone wants to experience love and romance. Of course Kuryuu thinks that such a thing is needless. How sad. She’s missing out so much in life at her age. So Hiiragi invites her to join his movie club as they’re currently making a romance movie. While Hiiragi blabs about the story’s synopsis, Kuryuu grabs his collar and thinks how weak such movie is and thinks he shouldn’t make it in the first place. Luckily Shijou comes by and Hiiragi uses this chance to escape. When Kuryuu tells Shijou how Hiiragi was telling her stupid things about missing out in life by not experiencing romance, Shijou gets a little depressed as she hasn’t experienced one before. Kuryuu tries to sooth her when the bell for class to start rings.
 
Later, Kuryuu is reprimanding Mao because her skirt is too short. Wow. She even has a ruler in hand to measure it! Mao tries to reason with her for having a short skirt by saying that a girl would like to dress up and look pretty for the person she likes but Kuryuu scoffs off her idea and says she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Mao says that’s just too bad because she thinks Kuryuu is cute too, making her blush. At the corridor, Kuryuu thinks about Mao’s words when Sakino comes by. After learning of Sakino’s football practice, Kuryuu thinks her judo practice is sufficient and that she doesn’t need to experience love. They then spot some couple doing pretty bold stuff around the corner. Just when Kuryuu is going to give them a piece of her mind, she notices how Sakino daydreaming how nice if she could experience it. But she snaps out of it before rushing off to practice. Afterwards, Kuryuu lets Nanami and Narumi off the hook for bringing their weird frog plushies to school. As a sign of relief, I don’t know why the duo enacted some lovey-dovey scene of their frogs right in front of Kuryuu. Disgusting.
 
As Kuryuu walks up the stairs, she spots Futami and warns her about her exceeding hair length. But you know, she can’t really out-talk Futami. Anyway enigmatic Futami is in a hurry to conduct some romance experiment of why people fall in love. Then at the library, Kuryuu is looking up for some books on romance when she is startled by Yuumi’s call. Yuumi points out the romance section which makes Kuryuu all flustered up as she leaves. The words of all those she encountered today on romance pretty much occupies her mind so much so she can’t concentrate on her judo practice as she gets thrown and off balance.
 
Surprisingly the next day for the first time, Kuryuu arrives late at school. Her teacher Kawada is at the gates and notices that she has changed her elastic hair band. She teases her that Kuryuu may have found somebody she likes, in which Kuryuu strongly denies. Kawada goes on to rant her own love story while she was her age but I guess since class is starting soon, Kuryuu leaves her and she looked like a mad fool talking to herself. Later as Kuryuu continues to deeply ponder about her romance-less life, she thinks for the sake of argument what kind of ideal guy she would like to have if she had a boyfriend. She thought it would be manly and have sports-like abilities when Kazuki notices her sitting alone and asks her why her face is red. A ball is seen flying their way and hits them. I don’t know how but Kuryuu ended up on top of Kazuki. It seemed like a romantic atmosphere till Kazuki opened his mouth. Uh huh. He tells Kuryuu how she is heavier than she looks. Rule number 1, never mention any weight related statements to a girl. He got a deserved kick in the face. So I guess like him with zero delicacy is out, huh? Not to mention stupid guys as well. As she continues to walk by the hallway, she bumps into Kai. She thinks how tall he is (not to mention about older guys being calmer and more reliable) when Kai then meets Mao and tells her about his practice. Just like a stalker, Kuryuu tails Kai to his usual place as he starts blowing his saxophone. I don’t think his playing sucks but I guess this kind of music isn’t to Kuryuu’s type. He’s out of her list too.
 
Kuryuu starts to feel a little tired after wondering the whole day about romance when she spots on the floor an envelope with a movie ticket in it. She gets to know that it’s from Kouichi who dropped it earlier. Then the 2 got really acquainted and excited when she finds out that he too likes to watch action movies. They do think alike then. Kouichi then notices her change of elastic hair band and Kuryuu wonders if he’s being considerate to notice such tiny details. Yuumi comes out of the classroom so Kuryuu decides to leave them both alone. Because the Kouichi-Yuumi talk is like beating around the bush (Kouichi trying to invite Yuumi out to a movie), you know shy shy blush blush, Kuryuu couldn’t stand it (by golly! She was eavesdropping from behind the door!) and butts in, takes the envelope from Kouichi’s hands and gives it to Yuumi while telling her that he has already bought the tickets. As Kuryuu walks away, she thinks how men who aren’t clear are the worse.
 
Then as the gang gathers at Satonaka udon shop, they discuss about Kuryuu’s strange behaviour. Hiiragi then comes up with a conclusion that she is trying to be a normal girl. Next morning at school, Kuryuu seems gloomy and unenergetic and doesn’t even respond when Shijou calls her. Kuryuu asks her if she herself would ever experience romance. Shijou then tells about her own case whereby she already has a fiancee whom she has never met chosen by her parents. Though she hasn’t experienced romance before, Shijou looks forward of experiencing her own kind of romance one day. Hiiragi then comes by and asks her if she thinks she could experience some wonderful romance as he pats her shoulder. I’m not sure if it’s his gesture or words (or probably his existence) which makes Kuryuu giving Hiiragi a judo throw over her shoulders. She felt great and thanks them both. So it’s decided. Kuryuu feels that she needs to go at her own pace and goes back to her strict reprimanding ways. Likes throwing her weight around, huh? Hey, that student she reprimands is wearing some punk-like make-up and hairstyle! How is that possible in the first place? She’s saying how his whole existence is against the rules! Oh well, with Kuryuu around, you can bet the moral standards of the school is safeguarded. Final narration from Hiiragi: She won’t be experiencing love for a while. Yeah, her job is her first love. Hahaha.
 
I guess this DVD episode isn’t so bad after all. I mean, it does bring back memories while I was watching the TV series then. Since Kuryuu is the main focus in this episode, I guess the producers didn’t want to leave out the rest of the other cast of characters of this series and have them make short appearances even if it’s for a few seconds.
 
I believe we have never seen the blackboard chalk drawing mid-intermission for Kuryuu. Yeah, she looks a little kind of intimidating, don’t you think? Ah well, that’s how strict people and those from the public morals committee should look like. Well, I don’t mean to stereotype but you can’t have gentle and nice looking for this kind of job, right?
 
I’m not sure how many DVD special episodes there are, but if there are additional ones like this, there will be a high chance of me watching it since it’s not really related to the storyline of the TV series and could stand alone by itself. I could just jump in and watch since I know the characters, setting and all. Don’t need to spend time to ‘build knowledge’, if you know what I mean. Ah, I wonder when I can experience romance myself. At this rate of watching animes, I’ll just keep dreaming…
 
Kimikiss Pure Rouge

Special A

April 10, 2009

Smart. Young. Rich. Good looking. Popular. Multi-talented. I’m sure many of us would love to have such perfect qualities. I mean who wouldn’t. Though I don’t really think such a person or a group of people do exist in the real world, there is an anime where those desirable traits and features fit in like a glove. Enter Special A or also known as S.A.

Hakusen Academy is a prestigious private high school and supposedly the best in Japan. How prestigious is this school? Well for starters, sons and daughters of the rich, intellect and influential are enrolled here. So it’s not just your ordinary school. If it does remind you a little like Ouran High School (from the anime Ouran High School Host Club), but I guess that’s where the similarity ends. Though everyone in this school is smart, there is a special class which houses the brightest and smartest students of the academy, the S.A. Call it the cream of the crop if you will. The top 7 students of the academy will get the exclusive right to be part of this elite class. Why only 7? My guess is that has got to be a lucky number for Japanese.

I don’t think you can call it discrimination or something similar to it but being part of the S.A has its own benefits apart from the other ‘normal’ classes in Hakusen Academy. Firstly, their school uniform is white as opposed to the other student’s brown colour. In addition, the students of S.A get to have a whole building of their own. How is a large greenhouse for size? Wow. Just wow. It’s really mind blowing. And all these just to house 7 top students of the academy? To add icing to the cake, everyone (okay, perhaps almost everyone) in Hakusen admires the S.A with great respect. You see, being smart too has its merits. Well at least in this 24 episode anime series.

So our main female protagonist, Hikari Hanazono, is also part of the S.A and she’s there merely for one sole reason. As seen in episode 1, when Hikari was a little girl, she was beaten in some challenge by her childhood friend Kei Takishima. Not once, but all the time. Normal people would take it as a sign that she’ll never beat that guy even if it’s a million years but you know Hikari isn’t a normal girl either. Because of her sheer determination to one day beat Kei from just about anything, I guess she strived so hard and probably she’s the only person in Hakusen Academy who doesn’t come from a prestigious background (yeah, her parents are just normal average people).

But even if Hikari manages to get herself into Hakusen Academy and the S.A, she is still unable to defeat Kei in whatever challenge. Thus her perpetual position as number 2 in the S.A. So you’d probably guess who is number 1, right? That’s right, it’s Kei of course. The son and successor of the international and powerful Takishima Corporation president. Goes to show that it’s tough to throw the top person off. In this episode, we are also introduced to the other members of S.A. On the 3rd seat is the soft spoken Jun Yamamoto while occupying 4th spot is his twin sister Megumi. As they’re both children of a famous musician, you’ll notice how Megumi doesn’t have spoken lines in the anime. Even if she does, it’ll come real late in the series. So how does she communicate? With her sketchbook of course. I wonder how she could write so fast. The reason for Megumi not to speak is that she’s some sort of singer wannabe. So in order not to strain her voice, it’s best not to use her vocal chords. Nice theory but does it really work? Not. She’s a horrible singer! No offence but whenever she opens her mouth, it’s like Apocalypse is approaching. We won’t hear how terrible it sound like but to give an idea, think of that sound wave resembling an atomic bomb explosion. So is it a good thing for her to keep her mouth shut, eh? Ironically as children of musicians, they don’t posses musical talent.

Coming in on 5th place is the carefree Tadashi Karino and is the son of Hakusen Academy’s headmistress. Then in 6th place is the daughter of the CEO of an airline company Akira Toudou. Though her cooking skills are quite good, she’s a little brutish and poor Tadashi seems to be at the receiving end most of the time. Sometimes you’d think that guy loves getting whack from her. Also, Akira seems to be fond of Hikari and I think she just mean it in a very close girlfriend way and not the yuri kind of relationship. The final 7th spot is taken up by the CEO of a famous sport’s company, Ryuu Tsuji. This guy is an animal lover and any animal could just click with him, no matter how ferocious or dangerous those animals are to humans. Ryuu is always seen together with the Yamamoto twins and is some sort of a guardian to the duo, having being with them since young.

So there you have it, the magnificent seven of Hakusen Academy. Most of the time, I kinda noticed how they idly spend their time in the greenhouse enjoying Akira’s afternoon tea and snacks. So how on Earth do they attend classes? Well, they’re smart so they don’t have to, remember? I think. In most episodes, you’ll see Hikari trying to challenge Kei but the outcome is always the same so much so Kei always teases her by calling her Miss Rank Two. Must be a taboo word in her vocabulary. Just like the word challenge too. Say that word and she can’t back down from it. Over the series, viewers may notice some chemistry between Hikari and Kei but and at times may come close to be a couple but since Hikari is always thinking of Kei as her eternal rival and nothing much, I guess that pretty much sums it all up. In addition, Kei’s cool and confident (some may say arrogant) attitude doesn’t help either. But I think Kei does harbour some feelings for her as you can count on him coming to Hikari’s rescue or protecting her without the slightest hesitation whenever she’s in danger.

Though I did mention that many of the other students admire the S.A, there are a few bunch which doesn’t. So in the first episode, a guy named Nakamura and his underlings don’t really like the S.A because they think the S.A are being arrogant, think highly of themselves bla bla bla. Jealous? Because Hikari is still thinking of beating Kei, Nakamura decides to help her achieve her goal by help her cheat by showing some answers to the upcoming exam. Luckily Hikari has her pride and doesn’t resort to low down dirty tactics to beat her rival. If she’s going to beat him, might as well do it fair and square. That’s how everybody should do it too. Then Kei comes in to tell them how Hikari has worked so hard and this doesn’t go down well with Nakamura and his pals. They decide to beat the duo or else they’ll get suspended but in the end, Hikari and Kei dispatches Nakamura easily. No sweat at all. Then latter, the gang decides to hold a music recital for Kei’s birthday and with Megumi on the frontline… I’ll leave that to your imagination. Soon the exam come and the results are up. Guess what? Everybody stays in the stay position. But Hikari has scored perfect in her exams so is the ultimate moment that she has been waiting for? Can she knock Kei off the top? Well, Kei too scored perfect but shouldn’t that be a tie? Kei mentions how he spot a mistake in 1 of the questions and as a reward, the teacher gave him additional marks. Wow! Just like that! Well Hikari, try again.

Besides Nakamura, the student council president, Hajime Takei too dislikes the S.A. However, this geeky boy has a secret crush on Hikari (in which shall never be realized!). So in episode 2, Hajime issues a challenge letter to the S.A that if they get to beat an S.A member, they’ll get to be part of the elite group. The match: Pro-wrestling. However, Hajime isn’t going to be a wrestler himself and hires a professional tag-team wrestling duo The Fankyuu Brothers to represent the student council while Hikari and Kei represents the S.A. On match day and before the match itself, Hajime manages to handcuff the duo together so as to restrict their movements. Since Kei and Hikari aren’t cooperating (they’re thinking that they themselves can handle the wrestlers alone), it seems the student council has the upper hand because Kei is trying his best to protect Hikari from getting hurt. Of course they realize that it’s not right to hog the limelight all to oneself (just kidding) and that in a way it shows that Kei doesn’t trust Hikari so the 2 set aside their differences and cooperate to bring victory to the S.A. I think professional WWE wrestlers are no match for them. In the end, Kei wins an earlier challenged he made with Hikari, that is, to execute the most moves.

Because Hikari lost her challenge, in episode 3, Kei wants her to make him a handmade bento. Sounds simple but you have to take into account that Hikari isn’t a great cook. You know, she’s causing more destruction in the kitchen than anything else. So Akira decides to help her to make one. But it’s going to take some time because I don’t know how but Hikari just keeps screwing up. Too brute to cook? Furthermore, we find out why Kei wants to eat Hikari’s handmade bento so badly was because he never had a chance to eat home-cooked food. So that’s why he’s so looking forward to it. And that jerk Hajime thinks Hikari is making a bento for him. Dream on pal. When Hikari is done and is about to give Kei her hard work that she put her blood, sweat and tears into, stupid Hajime steps in to take a bite. Call it Heaven’s retribution because it tastes so awful that Hajime nearly died. Kei of course is bloody upset because he’s been waiting all afternoon for this moment (seriously?!). But even so, he picks it up and eats it himself. In contrast to Hajime, Kei notes how good it tastes. I think it’s the fact that Hikari’s hard effort made it delicious.

In episode 4, Hikari is invited to Kei’s mansion as a request from Kei’s father, Satoru. At first glance, Satoru is so whiny, child-like and unreliable and it makes you think whether he’s Kei’s dad. So different. Anyway this episode has Hikari being a tutor for Kei’s little brother, Sui. He may look cute but he’s mean. I mean, he’s been changing lots of tutors with that mean attitude of his. Is he too smart for them? But to Hikari, she takes it as a challenge, even if Sui doesn’t like that ‘stupid woman’ and hurls her several insults. Hikari soon finds out from Sui that he thinks Kei doesn’t care for him and because of that he hates him. Even when Hikari asks Kei about it, he himself acknowledges that Sui hates him and nothing more. Because Kei tells Hikari not to get involve with Sui anymore, that little kid runs away upset. Hikari chases after him but after finding him, she ends up banging her head on the railing when Sui trips. Sui tries to carry her back home. Then it’s like Kei has some sort of ‘Hikari-in-danger-sense-tingling’ because he’s seen recklessly running and tumbling downhill to where the duo are. Kei praises Sui for helping Hikari and Sui’s perception of Kei changed because it’s the first time he praised him. So the next day, Sui tells Hikari that he doesn’t need Hikari as his tutor because he’ll be taking lessons from his beloved Kei. Haha. If you look at it in a way, Hikari lost to Kei. Again.

The school’s Founding Day is coming up in episode 5 but Hikari and Kei are loggerheads on what to do for it. Because of that, Hikari decides to join the student council to help for the preparations (Hajime must be over the moon) and Akira soon follows. At first glance, Hikari seems to be getting along well with Hajime. Of course whatever publicity stunt that the student council does, it is always being overshadowed (many times) by Kei’s. In addition, Kei is doing all this alone and without the help of the other S.A members. Of course Hajime is still up to his dirty tricks and tries to sabotage Kei’s preparations but is stopped by Hikari. And when Kei appears, coward Hajime disappears. Hikari asks if Kei has fun in doing all the preparations alone and this made Kei realized so he asks the rest of the S.A members to help, in which they are very much happy to oblige. On the Founding Day itself, everything runs perfectly from the reception on the cruise ship and to the festival on the island as everyone watches the fireworks in their kimonos.

In episode 6, Sui hires Hikari for a job only for the latter to realize it’s to be Kei’s date at a birthday party hosted by a guy their age, Yahiro Saiga. Though Kei isn’t too fond that it turned out like that, since he’s the employer, Hikari has to do whatever he says. Kei and Hikari (in a stunning white dress) arrives at the party while Akira orders Ryuu, Tadashi and Jun to go on an undercover covert mission to protect Hikari if anything wrong happens (but their presence were redundant because as we know Hikari knows how to take care of herself). You’ll notice how Yahiro has some sort of sinister characteristic based on his remarks he said to Hikari. Yahiro then thinks that she is Kei’s girlfriend and to prove whether Kei has feelings for her, he suggests a challenge. When Yahiro tries to kiss Hikari, Kei who has been watching from afar comes rushing in (I think his Hikari senses is tingling again) and punches Yahiro. Hikari wonders what’s going on but notices Kei’s hand around her waist so she punches him and run away. Later, Yahiro organizes another challenge for Hikari but involves the other guests as well. This tag game ends when the first person touches Hikari or Hikari herself manages to make it to the rooftop. While Yahiro gives Hikari a head start, as she has her hands full in dispatching the ‘players’. Hikari is then pulled into a room by Kei who demands what Yahiro had told her and says that they’ll leave the party. But after seeing how Hikari is bent on winning this game, he helps her to reach the rooftop. Since Hikari won, Yahiro asks her what she wants as a prize but to his surprise, all she wants is him to recognize Kei as her rival. That’s it? So simple. Yahiro agrees when Kei comes in to leave with Hikari. Yahiro then asks her how is Akira which prompts Kei to later tell her that he along with Akira and Yahiro were childhood friends. But when Kei pesters Hikari to tell him what Yahiro said to her, she gets flustered and is unable to do so.

In episode 7, Hikari is still thinking about Yahiro’s words and this is making her acting strange. In addition, the rest of the S.A wonders where should they go for their summer holidays so Kei once again suggests to settle it with a challenge (is that all what the S.A does?). Of course if Kei wins, Hikari will have to tell him what Yahiro told her. And you know Hikari can’t refuse a challenge. The next day all the S.A members are geared up for the obstacle race around the greenhouse. Some of them are given a handicap and the worse one was Kei. Not only he has his start delayed several minutes, but he’s being tied in a straight jacket like as though he’s some psychotic killer! Is he that good?! But it’s soon revealed that it’s a plot by the other S.A members to get Hikari to win as they lay traps. Once it’s Kei’s turn to start, we see him easily break fee from his chains! Can anything hold this guy down?! Of course, Kei shows why he is number 1 as he breezes through all the traps. Kei manages to catch up with Hikari so Akira decides to settle this by fighting fire with fire. Uh huh. She’s using a beast (lion) to fight with a beast (Kei). I think Kei got some of Ryuu’s animal skills so much so he tamed the lion. Upset Akira decides to blow the whole cliff to kill him! What is she thinking?! Even so, he’s still standing! Is Kei human?! Not willing to give up yet, Akira sends Tadashi on 1 final mission. Kei reaches the finish line first (which is back in the greenhouse) so Hikari has no choice but to tell him. Words are hard to come out from her mouth and when the final moment of truth arrives, Tadashi crashes into the greenhouse with his motorbike (yup, that guy has a bike license). Which means, even if Hikari manages to spill the beans, Kei didn’t get to hear in all that noise. So frustrating. Tadashi receives a beating from Kei. Soon after he asks her again and this time Hikari is able to say Yahiro’s statement that Kei likes her. Kei laughs in relieve and thinks she finally understood his feelings but Hikari is as dense as ever because she says how that isn’t possible as they’re rivals. How disappointing…

The S.A travel to Hawaii for their holidays in episode 8 (hey, they’re rich people). After the gang has done their day shopping and return to Ryuu’s villa, they find a little brat, Chitose, who decides to play house with the S.A. Ryuu has to oblige because Chitose is the son of one of his dad’s important clients. Chitose of course doesn’t like the other S.A members especially Hikari. So he has Kei and Hikari be his dad and mom respectively, the twins as his grandparents, Tadashi as his uncle, Ryuu as his beloved older brother and Hikari as their pet dog. Yeah, she has to dress in one too. But instead of being depressed, Hikari takes up the challenge. Then Chitose tries to get Ryuu closer to him so this makes the twins jealous. Chitose probably tries to shame Hikari but that girl’s optimism is sky high. Even if he told Hikari that he’s just feigning innocence and fooling the S.A, he wonders why she didn’t rat him out. Her answer is simple. She just wants to get along with him. As part of Chitose’s ridiculous request to get some flower on some rock, Hikari slipped off but is managed to be rescued by Kei. Even Chitose is surprised that she actually did it. Chitose continues with his selfishness as he orders Ryuu to spend more time with him. Megumi couldn’t take it anymore and lets loose a deafening scream. Hikari manages to shield Chitose’s ears. As everyone is recovering from that deafening experience, Ryuu is about to tick off Chitose when Hikari tells him it’s unnecessary. So Chitose has a change of heart and perception over the S.A. Later Chitose goes to meet up with his elder brother. Surprise surprise, it’s Yahiro. He tells him how the S.A are good people when Hikari comes by to return the dog suit and is surprised to discover the siblings. Yahiro then invites Hikari to his villa.

In episode 9, the gang wonders about Hikari’s whereabouts when they receive a call from Yahiro that she’s at his villa willingly. Kei decides to go bring Hikari back as he takes Tadashi along with him. Though Hikari finds out about Yahiro’s strained relationship with Kei and Akira, Yahiro’s plan is to use Hikari as a bait to lure Akira into seeing him and locks her up in the villa’s little dungeon (that place has one of those too?!). Kei arrives and has a talk with Yahiro while Chitose who is feeling guilty decides to free Hikari and help her escape but bumps into Tadashi in the garden. Though the duo returns to Ryuu’s place, Hikari asks Akira what has happened between her and Yahiro but since the latter didn’t answer, Hikari decides to go back to Yahiro’s villa since he may become suspicious if he finds her missing. Meanwhile Kei is still talking to Yahiro and something about a promise made that he will not see Akira unless she comes to see him. Kei then decides to buy this villa by giving him a blank cheque (goes to show how rich he is) and to stop bothering Hikari. Yahiro then takes Kei down to the dungeons but is surprised to see the cell empty. Just then Hikari comes back with a note from Akira saying how she won’t forgive him if he lays a single finger on Hikari. Yahiro decides to let them go. As the duo ride back in a limo, Hikari pecks Kei on his cheek to cheer him up but he gets upset when he finds out the reason she’s doing this was because of what Yahiro said to her during her imprisonment: "With just a kiss, you’ll life his spirits immediately because men are so simple minded". Well, it worked a little, didn’t it?

Back in the greenhouse in episode 10, Hikari issues Kei another challenge in their upcoming exams. But if Kei wins, he’ll have her for a day. However Akira is in horror after someone has destroyed her precious tea set. Then Nakamura shows up and tells them how he got suspended ever since that incident and throws down a challenge to Ryuu. Since he’s the last ranking person in S.A, I guess if he wants to challenge and beat somebody from that group, it has to be the ‘weakest’, right? But Ryuu refuses. That night, Hikari visits Ryuu in his apartment and you can say it’s a jungle in there! Really. How does he keep an elephant in there?! The next day, Hikari goes to talk to Nakamura and he indicates that he may be the one who vandalized the greenhouse. Ryuu was about to punch him but Kei stops him, telling him that by doing so he may get suspended. So I guess he has no choice but to accept Nakamura’s challenge. Nakamura knew about Hikari’s weakness about being challenged. That’s why he went to her as bait instead of Ryuu directly. To make things up, Hikari and the twins decide to cook for him at his place but causes more mess. Before the day of the challenge, Nakamura contacts Yahiro and it seems he’s going to make Ryuu’s family to do something. The next day, Hajime starts the challenge with 1000 question test. While Nakamura starts, Ryuu is running late due to Yahiro’s ploy but arrives 10 minutes before time and anybody would know it’s impossible to complete it in such a short time. Just then, Ryuu flips through the papers and starts answering them all in time! Wow! Is he really human too?! Unbelievable! Kei then says how Ryuu is always 7th place because he worries about the twins. Which means, he could be the new number 1 if he didn’t hold back! Kei, better watch your back. But I guess Ryuu wouldn’t mind things as they are now. In the end, Ryuu beats Nakamura flat. Of course, Kei too beats Hikari in the recent exams.

In episode 11, Kei is about to have Hikari for a day after winning their challenge when Satoru whisks Kei onto a helicopter for a Shanghai assignment. Then Tadashi takes the opportunity to ask Hikari out on a date. The reason was because his mom, Sumire was thinking of making him attend a marriage interview but he lied and said he had a girlfriend. Of course this doesn’t go down well with Akira who finds out that Hikari has a date but couldn’t say who it is. Being greenhorns in the dating section, the duo are observing other couples together while pissed off Akira is observing them from afar. The duo nearly got into some lovey-dovey act and Akira couldn’t take it anymore but was restrained by the other S.A members. Part of their date includes visiting a beach (their ruckus caused everyone else to leave) and the woods (of all places? Oh, too bad Akira got lost and stuck in some swamp). Then Tadashi decides to bring Hikari see Sumire but she isn’t convinced that the duo are a couple and tells them to prove it by kissing. Hikari is willing to kiss but Tadashi is unable to bring himself to it so he admits that all this was just a setup and Hikari is not his girlfriend. But Sumire isn’t mad and already knew all this along. She just wanted to see his reaction, that’s all. Is this the kind of headmistress of Hakusen Academy? Once outside, Hikari is then greeted by Kei who has returned from his Shanghai trip. After he tells her how he was informed by Yahiro that she went out on a date with Tadashi, he whisks her away onboard his helicopter so that he could have her for a day. Can’t lose to Tadashi, can’t he?

Due to that hectic trip in Shanghai, in episode 12 Kei develops a fever and passes out in the helicopter. Hikari takes Kei back to his home and thinks how Kei just wanted to spend some time with her and have fun after she heard from Sui how he has never seen his brother collapsed from overworking. Hikari is then determined to nurse Kei back to health. I guess she prefers to beat him fair and square. But you know she’s having a tough time because a simple task of making porridge turns into a kitchen demolition act. Even if she manages to make a decent one, she spills it all over him. What about cooling his fever? She literally put some shattered ice in a sack dump it on his head! What about change of clothes? Hikari tries to undress Kei’s top when Sui walks in and is horrified to see what ero Hikari is doing. Misunderstood… But Hikari is determined to be by Kei’s side for a day as promised. Later when Kei wakes up, he is surprised to see Hikari sleeping on a couch downstairs. Hikari wakes up and invites him to go somewhere fun next weekend. But when Kei asks where, she replies anywhere because being anywhere with him is fun. Seeing that Hikari is only person that could make his heart waver and she is doing this as atonement for being a bother, Kei is anyway grateful for what she has done and decides to repay the favour by kissing her! Hikari is shocked by his act and goes ‘crazy’ by telling him never to come near him again and he has an incurable perverted disease but he continues to tease her to look after him for the rest of his life.

The S.A members have to attend regular classes in a normal school for 3 days in episode 13 as instructed by Sumire or else they’ll be kicked out from the S.A. Partly, it’s a punishment for Tadashi for lying to her. The gang are split into 3 groups as they attend different classes (courtesy of Sumire’s random dart throwing selection). Though Akira is overjoyed to be paired with Akira, she can’t believe the fact she’ll miss her afternoon tea and the likes. Then a girl named Yui shows up and introduces herself but since she resembles and reminded Akira of a childhood friend she once knew, Sayo. She starts acting strange and even hits her hand away! Because of that, the class has some reservations on her. Throughout the day Akira spaces out and Kei understood the problem when he finds out about it. It seems back when Akira was a girl, Yahiro told her how she shall not make friends with anyone else but him. Later as Yui tries to apologize if she has done anything wrong towards Akira, the latter remembers how she has some ‘magic’ which could bring people happiness. Snapping out from her depression and after some advice from Kei, she uses her rich influential power, and calls upon her men and limos to take her classmates to a luxurious tea party at her home. Is this the magic she’s talking about? Akira takes the opportunity to apologize to everyone and requests Yui to be her friend, in which she accepts. A short flashback of how Akira used to play with Kei and Yahiro as their parents are always at work. Yahiro always exercised his authority around Akira. Other kids who knew of Yahiro had some fear of him even if they’re Akira’s friends. Thus she had no other friends than him. Then 1 day when Yahiro left, a girl named Sayo lost her way into Akira’s garden and the 2 became friends. But their friendship was destroyed when Yahiro returned and intervened. That’s why Sayo hated her and Akira was traumatized by that. In present time, Yahiro receives news of the S.A’s activities of attending regular high school and notes how Yui resembles so much like Sayo. Oh no.

Akira continues her friendly ways with her new classmates in episode 14 but she seems extra nice towards Yui like chauffeuring her to school every day, which makes her uneasy because in a way it seemed like she’s the only one who got special treatment. So Yui has no choice but to tell Akira to stop doing so. Akira sinks into depression because this reminded her of her similar case with Yui only this time she was the one who did it. Tadashi comes along to talk to her (not with the usual teasing and Akira’s usual bashing) and Akira soon hugged him because he was able to comfort her, something which she once thought only Hikari can do. Later, Yui is seen entering a pawn shop and trying to sell of some jewellery she stole from Akira’s home earlier on. She’s doing it because her family is in some financial difficulty. Yahiro caught her in the act and blackmails her not to see Akira anymore. Then some guy accidentally knock Yui off her feet as she loses her balance towards an oncoming car. Yahiro saw what was happening and dives to save her without thinking. He takes her back to his place for treatment. Meanwhile Akira decides to go visit Yui’s home but the latter isn’t in and notices her parents packing and moving out. Furthermore she finds out how Yui’s dad has just lost his job. Akira fears Yahiro may have a hand in it so she rushes over to his home. She confronts and accuses him of trying to break them up and even blames him for hurting Yui after seeing her injuries. To Yui’s horror, Yahiro takes the blame by admitting that he’s doing it all. A short flashback of why Yahiro is doing this. When he was young, he overheard how other nasty kids were befriending Akira just because she’s rich and nothing more. So in order to protect her, Yahiro is willing to be the villain even if it means her hating him for the rest of his life. Yui then tells Akira the whole truth and that Yahiro didn’t have a hand in it all like her dad’s job was on the line even before she met them. Akira then realized and apologizes to Yahiro, something which made him surprised. So Akira is back to her old self the next day as she tells Tadashi how Yui’s dad got a job in her dad’s company. But all that happiness is shattered when Akira learns from Ryuu that during those times, her precious beloved Hikari went out on a date with Kei!

Episode 15 tells of Hikari and Kei’s ‘date’. It’s the one whereby Hikari told Kei that they should go somewhere during Kei’s fever. During the date, Kei notices several MIBs of Satoru’s spying on them. Without Hikari’s knowledge, Kei secretly takes them all out but it didn’t take long for Hikari to find out. It seems Satoru has set up Kei for a marriage interview and is desperately pleading for his son to come. Uh huh. That weakling father gave in to some big bully friend of his. Initially Hikari tells Kei to go but notices how depress he is about it so she changes her mind. Just then, Kei’s marriage interview partner, Sakura Ushikubo appears because she thinks she stood up on her. As punishment for her lost time looking for him, Sakura decides to borrow Hikari for a day and whisks her away (Hikari sure is a ‘borrowable’ person). Hikari learns that Kei isn’t Sakura’s type of guy and also she’s a wonderful person but can be real nasty and brutish like Akira when it comes to liars (fear her true brute power!). Even if Kei isn’t her type, but she thinks it’ll be good for her family business so she proceeds to ask Hikari what kind of girl is Kei’s type. Naturally, Hikari is having a hard time trying to do just that even if it’s just asking the other S.A members. She decides to go ask Kei directly and his reply is normal girls (he answered her so as not to trouble her after knowing how Sakura put her up to this task). Sounds easy, huh? Meanwhile Sakura is seen chatting with Yahiro about Kei and Hikari’s relationship (it seems everybody in this anime knows everybody). Soon Sakura confronts Hikari and accuses her of lying because she thinks Hikari didn’t tell him what kind of girls Kei likes because Hikari is his girlfriend. Hikari has trouble telling Sakura because she thinks Kei’s type of girls doesn’t include Sakura (hey, nobody is normal in this anime). Then before Sakura could show her power, Ryuu and the twins arrive. Sakura spots Jun and instantly fell in love with him. What about Kei? Don’t care anymore but Megumi is bloody furious to see some other girl clinging on to Jun. When Hikari finds out that Sakura has fallen head over heels for Jun, she lets out the cutest and funniest "Heeeeehhhhh???!!!" of disbelief!
 
Sakura tries to ask Jun out in episode 16 but shy Jun runs away. But just like Hikari, Sakura isn’t going to give up easily. So she devises a plan with the help of her dad to organize a BBQ party for the S.A members on her private island. Of course we know her true intention is to get close to Jun. Sakura has several schemes to get closer but is always thwarted by Ryuu and Megumi. Sakura’s dad decide to heat things up when he pairs up the teens and obviously it’s fixed because Sakura ends up with Jun. As the duo are in the woods, Jun tells Sakura off to stop but she trips and she catches him in her arms. Sakura puckers her lips in anticipation of a kiss but this brought back horrible memories (something about how he befriended a girl when he was young but the girl ended up hating him) to Jun so he pushes her away. When they reunite with the rest, Sakura’s dad decides to have Jun force kiss his daughter. Luckily the other S.A members fends them off. I think Jun sympathizes with Sakura when she said how she thinks he hates her and allows her to peck on his cheek. In her delight, she does so but this causes Jun to collapse. No, it’s not that he couldn’t handle her kiss or was her kiss that hot. You see, Jun has a dark secret, a dark personality. When Jun comes to, Jun’s personality changed! Woah! Now he’s like a lady-killer! A Casanova playboy! A seductive hunk! What a total opposite! His charms seems to have an effect on Sakura and Akira as they go gaga over him! I wonder why Hikari isn’t affected? Perhaps the same reason why she’s oblivious to Kei. Ryuu explains how when they were watching TV, Jun was hypnotized (something about how he will become bold when he gets shy). Due to that, when the girl Jun befriended found out of his flirting ways, she hated him. Naturally. In order to return Jun back to normal, he has to lose consciousness again and courtesy of Megumi’s singing, Jun awakens to his old self again with Sakura next to him. Surprisingly she tells him that she loves both sides of him. Even if Jun is a little comfortable with Sakura, he still continues to run away when she starts chasing him.
 
It’s Akira’s turn for a marriage interview in episode 17 and even though she has Tadashi on her mind, she agrees to go. Also Sakura has decided to enlist the help of S.A for her school’s cultural festival and ever positive Hikari is seen dressed up in a pink bunny mascot suit named Yappi. In a way she does fit the lively character of the suit. So embarrassing even Kei wonders if he could cancel her as his rival. At the school cultural festival, they are greeted by Yahiro who is also hosting the reception and it seems the other S.A members are playing some sort of host club. The girls are definitely swooning over the hot guys. Hikari notices Yahiro’s troubled face and how he’s having trouble approaching Akira (who seems to have her mind preoccupied as well) so she goes over to him and encourages him to do so, much to his annoyance. Then when Akira lost her handphone, Sakura organizes a large search just for it. Yahiro then approaches Akira but Tadashi cuts in. Noticing how Akira and Tadashi fit nicely together, he backs away. Yahiro searches for Akira’s handphone with Hikari and Kei when they overheard a group of boys claiming that they have found it. But upon seeing the trio, the boys panicked and tripped, thus dropping the handphone. Yahiro manages to dive and grab it but lands himself in the bushes. He then wants Kei to return the handphone but Kei refuses and Hikari advises him to do it himself. Yahiro manages to do so as she thanks him. Then when Tadashi overhears about Akira’s marriage interview and encourages her to go, she gets upset, slaps him and runs away in tears.
 
Episode 18 continues with teary Akira running away as she thinks Tadashi is oblivious to her feelings. She then bumps into Sakura and the latter finds out what happened. The duo then go ranting about building a male harem of their own because of their failed relationships (WTF?!). Soon Tadashi approaches Akira to apologize but Akira still breaks down and slaps him. Poor Tadashi receives another beating from Sakura soon after. Yahiro picks up Tadashi and treats his wounds while giving him some advice at the same time. Tadashi has a flashback during his younger days whereby he showed Akira the beautiful city lights and she was happy about it. I guess that’s when Akira started to have feelings for him. In present time, Akira is still sorting out her feelings when Hikari comes by and suggests for her to go apologize. That night as the school festival comes to a close (can’t believe Hikari is still so lively in that Yappi suit), Tadashi takes Akira on his bike to the hilltop to watch the city lights and nightsky like they did before. When Akira goes to buy some juice and says to herself how she’ll clearly confess her feelings to him, to her surprise, Tadashi has heard what she said. So in her embarrassment, she punches him (as usual). But the duo soon reconcile and Tadashi lets Akira know his feelings and doesn’t want her to go to the marriage interview. Tadashi then remembers how he confessed he liked her when he was young but because Akira was sleeping, she didn’t really hear them. In the end, Akira and Tadashi prepares to enter a room (I think they went to see Akira’s dad) but she punches him again when he held her hand and thinks he’s being indecent. Meanwhile, Kei once again beats Hikari in the number of proceeds during the host club.
 
Finally! We get to hear how Megumi sounds like in episode 19. After 4/5 of the show has passed, she finally utter some words (actually she did in the previous episode but I wasn’t sure it was hers then). What was her first lines? She confessed her feelings to Yahiro and wants to go out with him! Wow. How did that happen? Yahiro agrees to go out with her on this ‘test date’. At the same time, Hikari is out sick so the other S.A members pay her a visit. When Hikari’s sick, she’s acting real strange. Sometimes real horny. Especially on Kei. But let’s leave that aside and focus on Yahiro-Megumi. Like in all dates, communication is essential so it’s natural that things aren’t going well for Yahiro even if Megumi is trying her best. She even thinks of singing for him! Anyway she decides to throw away her precious sketchbook so that she could communicate better, much to Yahiro’s surprise. But after hearing her voice, Yahiro thinks it’s better for her not to speak. That creep. We find out her reason for dating Yahiro was because since Akira and Tadashi are a couple and noticing that Yahiro too likes Akira, she decided to be his girlfriend in hopes he’ll forget about Akira. Megumi tries to put some make-up when Yahiro comments on her appearance but that too didn’t go too well. Because it was irritating that Megumi can’t communicate without her sketchbook, Yahiro gets her a magnetic board to write on and Megumi thinks how considerate he is. Megumi then spots Ryuu and Jun out shopping and tries to hide from them. But of course the duo spots her and confronts them. Yahiro tries to play the villain again by saying how he forced her out on a date. That’s when Megumi opened her mouth to tell them that she is really going out with Yahiro on her own accord and to leave them alone, shocking Ryuu and Jun. Well, so much of preserving her singing voice (which never sounded good anyway in the first place ;p). Later Yahiro says how he knew Megumi is doing this for Akira’s sake but tells her not to go on as he doesn’t wish to bother Akira too. Megumi then decides to sing for him for being selfless and to cheer him up. But you know what? For once, Megumi didn’t sound horrible! Okay, not the best singing voice but it’s better than her previous attempts. If only she could sound like this all the time. In the end, even if Yahiro enjoyed their outing, his male ego denies it. Meanwhile everyone else is exhausted from taking care of Hikari (earlier on, she went wild so much so they had to tie and restrain her but she jumped out of the window from the 2nd floor to continue harassing Kei and even randomly confesses to him! Nothing can stop her!). So when Hikari feels better and wonders what’s with the gang and where Kei is, Kei is seen sleeping on top of Hikari’s roof. The safest place, no?
 
Hikari wins a lottery prize in episode 20 to an athletic amusement park. She tries to get the other S.A members to come but they are busy except for Jun who agrees to come. Then I think out of jealousy, Kei changes his mind and decides to tag along. A reason why Jun decides to come is to get away from Sakura. Of course when Sakura sees Jun and Hikari there, she thinks he’s dating her. Until Kei shows up. Once again Sakura tries to get close to Jun but since she got too close, he collapses. Oh no. Herald Inner Jun! Since Kei is holding him in his arms, Inner Jun decides to get mischievous and kisses Kei! Horror! Hopefully this isn’t turning out into a yaoi show. Kei’s going to kill him when Inner Jun’s charms attracted a swarm of swooning girls. He escapes as the trio searches for him. It then dawned to me how athletic Kei and Hikari are. They can jump and hop on to anywhere with ease just like those ninjas. They soon find him commanding a large crowd of girls in a restaurant. But don’t forget, Kei too has his charms so the girls let him go through. Sakura comes by and another eye contact makes Inner Jun faint and reverts to the old Jun. He runs away and all those jealous girls are furious. Kei and Hikari uses their charm to buy Sakura some time. It also dawned to me how cheap those loser girls are. Any good looking guy or girl would do. Sakura catches up with him and wonders why he’s always running for her. Fed up, she tells him to just run away. Jun then says he’s doing so because he thinks he’s strange. Then another weird thing happen as Jun transforms to Inner Jun just like that. When he tells her how he’d be a bother for her, Sakura punches him (men shouldn’t complain so much)! After lecturing him, she tells him to stop running away and asks for his feelings. He says he does like her the day they first met but he can’t stand the fact that he won’t be able to touch her and such because he’ll transform each time he does so. But she tells him to touch her face and when he did, to his surprise notices how warm it is and didn’t underwent a transformation. Meanwhile Satoru gets a call from the president of Takishima Corporation (his own dad, that is) as he tells him how Kei doesn’t need to attend school anymore.
 
In episode 21, while Hikari is on her way to school, she bumps into a good looking man named Aoi Ogata. No, she didn’t fall head over heels for him. When he introduced himself, several photos of Kei fell out from him and Hikari thinks he’s a Kei maniac. We find out that he’s the secretary of the Takishima Corporation and has been sent by the president to observe Kei’s school life. After he tells her how he’s indebted to Kei and would do anything for him, Hikari gladly helps him out by putting a little spycam in her pocket while Aoi watches in his car. Aoi sees the usual antics of the S.A from Tadashi and Jun’s new volume controller for Megumi’s singing (didn’t work anyway) and the usual jigsaw puzzle between Hikari and Kei (no prizes to guess who won). Later when Hikari meets up with Aoi and asks for his opinion, Aoi says that he has decided that Kei is to be transferred to London and deems Hakusen Academy as unsuitable for Kei. Hikari surely wouldn’t accept that as Kei hasn’t had his say in it (considering that if Kei is taken away, who would Hikari rival with?). In order to convince her, Aoi takes her to his private villa on the outskirts of the city. Akira then spots the duo in a car and suspects something so she calls Kei and yells at him what is he up to. Kei too is surprised to learn that Aoi is in Japan so he decides to see him. At the villa, Aoi shows several amazing accomplishment feats from Kei. But instead of being intimidated of the difference in their level, Hikari gets even more excited how worthy her rival is. Aoi then mocks the S.A which causes Hikari to be offended. So he challenges her to land a hit or him, failing which she has no right to be Kei’s rival. Hikari tries her best but Aoi evades each blow like a dancing butterfly. Meanwhile Kei takes a taxi to Aoi’s place but there is a bad traffic jam. We see another superhuman side of Kei as he starts jumping down the bridge and running through the thick forest. Kids, don’t try this anyhow. Hikari is pinned against the wall by Aoi. He continues to mock her and to stay away from Kei as she is in a different league. For the first time, she feels so helpless and calls out Kei’s name in tears. Then in good timing, Kei appears and gives Aoi a good slap (can’t believe he didn’t avoid that one. Perhaps he can’t since he’s Kei?). Hikari is relieved and hugs Kei. As he walks her home, he assures her that he will stay at Hakusen Academy till he graduates. And when Kei says how Hikari may be in love with him, we see the most dumbest shocking look on Hikari’s face! She gets flustered and well, still thinks no way something like that could happen because he’s her rival.
 
In episode 22, Hikari is deeply troubled by Kei’s words so she turned a little klutzy. She also wonders if deep down she hates Kei because she always see him as her rival. Aoi visits Kei and the former is still bent on bringing him back to London because the president’s orders are absolute. The rest of this episode sees Kei and Hikari going out on the date because Hikari has trouble trying to say Kei’s first name (she always addresses him by his surname). Is it so hard to say it? She seems so unnatural while trying to do so. Well, Kei manages to ‘distract’ Hikari to pronounce his name like what alphabet comes after ‘J’ and such. Meanwhile Aoi is seen talking to Sumire in her office and it seems they both have reached some sort of agreement. As the day nearly ends, the duo had a chat and Hikari kisses Kei on his forehead and manages to say his first name without fumbling. Hikari is going to confess her feelings of love (yay!) when Kei’s handphone ring and spoils the mood (boo!). Kei doesn’t want to answer but Hikari says he should as she excuses herself to the toilet. There she overhears a group of girls comforting their pal who has been recently dumped. She hears how falling in love is like losing. And that’s where it went downhill. After all the build up, it took just that to turn Hikari back to her normal rival thinking. Hikari bursts out of the toilet and calling him and idiot and that that she isn’t going to lose just yet before running away. So close yet so far. Even so, Kei is happy to have known Hikari’s feelings even if it’s for a short spell. At the same time, Sumire locks the greenhouse and cordons off the S.A area as Aoi looks on.
 
The gang are horrified to learn Sumire has disbanded the S.A in episode 23 and the reason for doing so is that she has been receiving complaints about them not attending classes, enjoying afternoon tea, not mixing around with teachers and other students, and bringing pets to school (all so true!). But Hikari isn’t going to let this setback ruin her school life so she and the rest will just have to attend normal classes. Even so, Aoi tells Sumire how this won’t break them up. As they have lunch together later, Hikari finds out why the S.A is important to the rest. It’s just not a class. The S.A is like a home, a family to the members, that’s why it’s so precious to them. The twins then receive a call from their parents to return home. Likewise Akira too. The next day Hikari is devastated to find the twins dropped out of school. Ryuu tells them that there was an agreement whereby to let them enrol in this school if there was the S.A and without it, their parents see no point of enrolling them here anymore. Currently they’re at the airport ready to board a plane overseas. The same thing is to happen to Akira as she is seen confined in her room. Kei confronts Aoi to tell him that his plans won’t work but Aoi insists that he’s doing it for his sake even if it means Kei hating him. Kei drops by Akira’s place illegally and finds out that the Takishima Corporation is blackmailing her dad’s company. Though Kei’s presence has been discovered, the maids tell him to leave quietly now or Akira’s household will face some backlash from the Takishima Corporation. Kei leaves and saves Hikari (who’s still trying to get in) from falling into the river. Later Kei asks Hikari if she likes the S.A and her reply is that she cares more about the people in it. Kei then issues a challenge to protect some flowers for a day while he tries to change things back to normal. If he wins, he’ll have her for a day. Next day, it seems the S.A has been restored but at what cost? Hikari learns that Kei has decided to give in to Aoi and return to London in exchange for it. Hikari is upset that Kei has never intended to win the challenge in the first place. She chases after Kei and I don’t know how or what she’s thinking because Hikari is trying to chase after the airplane on the runway! She thinks she can outrun it? Of course not lah. But to hear her calling out Kei’s name is so distressing. Kei can only look back as he says goodbye.
 
Kei has a flashback of how Hikari used to stay by his side till he opened his presents in episode 24. While the other S.A members are back and the S.A has been restored, Hikari decides to go to London to bring Kei back. That’s how determined she is to be his rival. Even Sui comes to Hikari’s home in a helicopter to tell her to save his brother. But since Aoi has been watching Sui’s move, he prevents them from acting further on. The other S.A members then arrive, up in arms and decide to go to London with Hikari. Aoi threatens that they will be kicked out of S.A. But don’t worry, all of them hand in their drop out letters to Sumire already. Plus, Hikari tells Aoi that she isn’t the kind which gives up easily. And off they go… Upon reaching the Takishima Headquarters, a security system tells them to go away as Kei doesn’t want to see them. They have too since Akira is in shopping mood and the security of the place is top notch. That night, the gang infiltrates the mansion but they are being confronted by a pack of guard dogs. Ryuu takes on the bulldog head while the rest scoots along. As expected, Ryuu wins over the bulldog’s affections. Next, they have to pass a series of defensive lasers and sly Akira uses Tadashi as bait so that the rest could move on. If not for Yahiro (what is he doing here?), Tadashi could’ve been toasted in a few more seconds. The remaining members have entered the building and disguises themselves as maids or butlers but are soon discovered because of Hikari’s short skirt (she thinks she can move better in it). A bevy of maids surround them when the head maid appears and is surprisingly Sakura (what’s she doing here too?). She gets up close to Jun to transform into Inner Jun. All the other maids are charmed by him while the rest escapes.
 
Out on the rooftop, they are confronted by several security personnel. Megumi decides to sing but somehow her voice can’t come out. Yahiro then comes by to give her encouragement and depending on how you look at it, her disastrous singing took them all out. Is Yahiro immune to her singing or is he wearing ear plugs? Now Hikari and Akira needs to get into the tower across. Can’t jump that far, can’t they? Tadashi comes by in Yahiro’s bike which he borrowed to catapult both Akira and Hikari towards the tower but only the latter makes it. Hikari meets Kei and talk things over. She gives him her presents (it’s his birthday today by the way) as well as those from the S.A members from their shopping. He opens Hikari’s presents to find several chibi dolls which resembles the S.A gang and he realized how happy they made him and how much he thinks of her. Since the day is almost over, Hikari then tells him to continue the challenge and if she wins, he’ll have to return anyhow. Aoi then tells all his security personnel to stand down after seeing how persistent Hikari is because he realized he can never win against someone as stubborn as her. Hikari and Kei’s challenge continue up the clock tower and Hikari tells him how he’s an amazing person and thus she respects him as her greatest rival. A gust of wind blows the flowers from Hikari’s pocket as she leaps to grab them. But Kei jumps and catches Hikari and they both kiss. All in mid-air! I wonder how they’ll land. Not important. At the same time, the other S.A members have submitted their application to readmit themselves back to S.A which is accepted by Sumire. So easy just like that? Hey, is Yahiro and Megumi an item seeing that they’re both together? Everything returns to normal back at Hakusen Academy’s greenhouse and with the recent exams just over, Hikari thinks she can dethrone Kei as number 1 because not only did she score perfect, she got extra marks for handing it in earlier. But her happiness is shortlived when Kei says how he scored perfect and got that score doubled when finished it all in a minute! He continues to tease her Miss Rank Two but Hikari smiles back and even if she says not to call her that, I guess she’ll have it no other way for things as they are now. So did Hikari win the earlier challenge seeing Kei is back? Dunno.
 
Though everything ends on a good note, but somehow I felt that it could’ve been a little better. Don’t get me wrong. I love the hilarious comical parts in the story which never ceases to make me laugh but I guess if they ever intended to make a sequel, they can just pick it up from here. Hikari is my favourite character in terms of her positive and never give up attitude. She’s the kind of character each of us should emulate. Though she loves taking up challenges, but isn’t that how we should approach all obstacles in life? Sometimes she may seem like an airhead or rush into things without thinking first but she still manages to maintain a positive and lively momentum. Still, don’t attempt to do the dangerous stunts you see here. It’s impossible anyhow. I have seen many animes whereby if there’s a one way chemistry, it’s usually the guy who is oblivious. But in here, Hikari is still oblivious to Kei’s affections and even so she’s like more in denial. Looks like she sees Kei only as her rival and nothing else. Except a love rival of course. Kei’s cool and calm composure makes him a likeable character too. He still got what it takes to be number 1.
 
The other characters each have their own unique and quirkiness too. Like Tadashi, he’s able to stand lots of beating and pulverizing especially from Akira. At one point he did admit how he loves getting hit by her. The character development are well spread out among the characters and doesn’t focus merely on Kei and Hikari alone. While the duo may have renewed their rivalry and take it to a higher level, at the end of the series, we could some change in the other characters as well. The twins no longer need to stay by Ryuu’s side and can do things independently without his presence. Jun comes to terms and accepts his other contrasting personality but I feel Megumi’s singing will take a longer time before she perfects it off. Unless she plans to use it as a weapon. Although Akira is still fond of Hikari, at least she knows her true feelings which is towards Tadashi and also not to be restrained by her traumatic past. At first Yahiro may seem like the villain but he has his reasons in doing so because he too feels the importance of the bonds of friendship. That is what I guess this series is trying to convey. By the way, there are 4 happy couples in the end, don’t you think? Kei and Hikari, Tadashi and Akira, Yahiro and Megumi, Jun and Sakura. Well if you look at the pairings in that sense. For Ryuu, I think his first love will always be animals. I wonder what happened to Hajime? Given up?
 
The drawing, art and animation caters to the bishoujo and bishonen look so of course there will lots of good looking and hot guys and girls, even if they are just side and minor characters. But sometimes I feel the way they draw Kei and Yahiro’s eyes make them look like vampires in a certain light or angle. In at least each episode, whenever feelings are reaching out between the characters, you’ll notice that the drawing becomes some sort of pastel-like and a little sketchy. I also noticed that there are those round snowflake-like things hovering throughout the screen whenever such situations occur. I wonder what is its significance. Even the mid-intermission, opening and ending credits has them. Lots of them.
 
However I don’t find all the opening and ending themes appealing. They somehow turn me off so much so I just skip this part. I find that the 1st opening theme by Yuko Goto, Special Days, so unsuitable that when I first heard it my hair stood on ends. I don’t know but to me I find that there are some parts of the song which is out of tune. The 1st ending theme, Hidamari No Gate is sung by the seiyuus of the 4 guys of S.A and sounds like an all-boy group pop piece. Both the 2nd opening (Gorgeous 4U) and 2nd ending (Special Gyutto Good Luck!) sounds like an anime version of the musical series High School Musical. Really. Feel like dancing a little?
 
The voice acting is quite good and my favourite is still Hikari because she is voiced by the versatile seiyuu Yuko Goto (Abiru in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Asahina in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu). I really love her voice whenever she sounds incredulous, shocked or surprise. She sounds really funny and hilarious during those moments. The other characters do fit their personality such as Jun Fukuyama as Kei (Lelouch in Code Geass), Tsubasa Yonaga as Jun (Shu Kannogi of Bleach), Ayahi Takagaki as Megumi (Noe in True Tears), Hiro Shimono as Tadashi (Ikuto of Nagasarete Airantou), Hitomi Nabatame as Akira (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Kazuma Horie as Ryuu, Natsuko Kuwatani as Sakura (Suisei Seki of Rozen Maiden – damn! Without her desu line, I couldn’t recognize her!), and Kishou Taniyama as Yahiro (Takayuki of Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien).
 
On other trivial note, the next ending preview is done by Tadashi and is like his personal space to rant, whether it’s related to the next episode or not. But it isn’t the anime drawing of Tadashi that we see, but a puppet doll. In my opinion, he looks horrible (sorry). The episode title come in pairs. For example episode 5 "Festival/Contest", episode 11 "Boyfriend/Girlfriend", episode 16 "Love/Kiss", and episode 23 "SA/FA". However I’m wondering why the first and last episode titles are quite similar to each other because episode 1 is "Hikari/Kei" while the final one is "Hanazono Hikari/Takishima Kei". Is it to say you can’t have an S.A without these 2?
 
Now here’s a food for thought. If these kids are so smart and intelligent, why on Earth would they need to attend high school? I mean as we have seen, Kei is actually helping his feeble dad in even doing business and making deals! In the anime, we even see the Takishima has several large buildings even naming Kei as their director! I mean they could go out into the business world and start working or make the world/economy a better place! Is it there’s a compulsory need to attend one? Hey, they could use their influence and power to skip that. Don’t want them to miss their childhood and schooling years? Yeah right. At the rate they’re going and stuff they’re doing… Is that what being smart and rich entitles one too? Sitting around idling all day long drinking tea with your buddies? Just mind boggling.
 
After seeing this anime, I did a reflection on myself back in my schooling years whereby I did have my fair share of studying but the marks were never reflective of my work. Not to say that I became lazy nor am I that stupid a person, perhaps I’m not one of those who could even get close if there is such an S.A in the real world. With education becoming important and a necessity, it’s no wonder every parent would want the best for their children. Though, I’m through with studying now and wouldn’t think about lifting a book. Now here’s another food for thought: Does it really matter if everyone else in the world is smart and intelligent but there is just 1 stupid guy? Ignorance is a bliss too…

Special A

Naisho No Tsubomi

April 9, 2009

What would you do and say if a little kid or a child of your own first asks you the inevitable question. The question I’m sure all of us too thought of back when we were in their shoes. That’s right. Where do babies come from? How are babies made? Yeah… Don’t those questions bring back memories? Back then, many parents would give that crappy stork answer to quell their child’s curiosity but I guess sooner or later, he or she is really going to find out the hard truth and facts.
 
Naisho No Tsubomi is a 3 episode OVA slice-of-life anime series which explores such issues. I mean, in this era whereby technology has enable us to gather and disseminate tons and tons of information, the age old question still burns with the younger ones who are still growing up. Though it’s still pretty much a taboo subject for parents when it comes to talking with their kids about sex and pregnancy at such an early age. Some perhaps would just shoot it straight but will the little kid understand?
 
That’s what life is about. It’s a never ending learning process. We learn new things every day and make important discoveries about the cycle of life. Thus in this anime series, we see how fifth grader, Tsubomi Tachibana, and her other friends go through and get to know such ‘sensitive’ issues when her mom gets pregnant with a second child.
 
Episode 1 – The Baby Is Secret
One morning as Tsubomi wakes up to have her breakfast, her mom tells her that she is already 2 months into her pregnancy and will be due around this coming December. Of course Tsubomi is ecstatic by the news. Which means she’ll have a little new brother or sister to play with and look after. Ah, those innocent years. Tsubomi’s daydreaming causes her to spill her drink, wetting her pants in the process.
 
It’s the start of another school year and Tsubomi finds out that her usual friends, Rea Katou and Yae Yamabuki, are in the same class with her as well. Not only that, the boy whom Tsubomi has a crush on, Daiki Nemoto, is in the same class too. You can obviously tell Tsubomi likes him when she blushes just by looking by him. Her face is so easy to read like a book. Also, the trio gets acquainted with a girl named Saya Endo. They think she’s a transfer student seeing that they don’t remember seeing her around before.
 
Later when Tsubomi tells Rea and Yae about her mom’s pregnancy, Rea tells her that she shouldn’t say such things. Is it a bad thing? Well, it seems Rea knows a little more on such matter. To put it in what she exactly said to them: "The fact she’s pregnant means that your mom and dad committed perverted acts together…". Since she said that out loud, it was enough to attract lots of passer-bys. And they’re all kids you know… Depends on how you look at it, unfortunately Tsubomi doesn’t know what the word perverted means. Yeah, she’s going to lose her innocence real soon. Rea tries to hint to her that it’s something like ‘doing it’ when their male classmates interrupted them. Naughty boy Futoshi Kuki, along with Nemoto and You Saegusa, has overhead their ‘perverted’ conversation and starts teasing Rea but Nemoto tells him to stop it.
 
Later as Tsubomi ponders about it alone on a swing, Saya comes by to have a chat with her. Saya finds out about Tsubomi’s case and offers her some words of advice and encouragement. For a kid her age, she’s sure pretty knowledgeable, calm and composed about this topic. Saya’s explaining it pretty well. That night, Tsubomi is shocked to of her new discovery. She now knows the meaning of the word ‘hentai’ when she looks it up the dictionary. She’s learning so fast…
 
The next day in school in the girl’s locker room, Tsubomi asks Rea what does one do during perverted acts. Woah! I guess she’s really curious to know, huh? Rea is shocked at first but soon tells her that it’s when a boy and a girl get together on a bed naked and starts hugging and caressing each other! Yeah, Rea sure knows her stuff. Anyway the duo gets into panic mode because one has found out what it meant and the other couldn’t believe she has said it out loud. Later Tsubomi once again gets another round of advice from Saya because the latter is worried that her dad and mom may have committed something erotic. Saya is quite open and frank on the subject, making Tsubomi feeling much better. As the duo walk home, Tsubomi thinks of visiting Saya’s place in which the latter thinks it’s not possible. Even a phone call too. Saya rushes off ahead.
 
When Tsubomi tells Rea and Yae about what Saya had told her, Rea thinks how suspicious it is and thinks of tailing her. Just then Tsubomi excuses herself to go to the toilet as she checks herself. From the looks of it, looks like she has her first menstruation. When she goes home, she does another round of checking but notices ‘stuff’ on her panties but doesn’t know that it’s menstruation. During the next few days, Tsubomi notices Saya isn’t feeling well even though Saya tells her she’s okay. After that she was absent from school. During class, Tsubomi once again wishes to excuse herself to the toilet when a couple of nasty boys teases her that she’s having diarrhoea and don’t want her sh*t to get mixed up with their curry lunch (can’t believe that they said that!). Tsubomi is scared stiff when Nemoto comes by to tell them off for shouting stupid things and that they’re immature. Well, I guess it’s enough for them to back down.
 
Tsubomi comes home to find her mom suddenly collapsing at her feet. As she waits at the hospital, her dad arrives and informs her that mommy could suffer a miscarriage any moment due to her condition but the baby is alive. Not wanting to trouble her mom, Tsubomi decides to be independent and do things on her own. Though she may need some practice in cleaning and doing the laundry. One rainy day after doing her chores, Tsubomi felt a pain in her stomach and decides to take a short rest. She is awaken by a phone call from Saya who is pleading for Tsubomi to save her. Tsubomi rushes out in the rain and I don’t know how she’s able to find Saya clinging on for dear life under the bridge with the fast river current threatening to wash her away anytime. Tsubomi tries to reach her umbrella towards Saya but they both eventually fell into the river. Tsubomi manages to pull her out as they lay on the river bank. But then it was just a dream. Should have seen it coming. Tsubomi goes to the toilet to check herself once more and this time, she sees blood on her panties.
 
She rushes out calling her mom when she passes by Nemoto coming out from a convenience store. He notices her not looking well and gives her a bird keychain. At the hospital, Tsubomi’s mom finds out that Tsubomi has experienced menstruation and explains to her about it and that she’ll have her period soon. Tsubomi is relieved that it wasn’t some sort of sickness. The next day at school, Tsubomi thanks Nemoto when excited Rea interrupts them as she smells something has happened between them and pesters Tsubomi for details, in which she denies. Tsubomi then spots Saya and finds out that she’s alright now. Saya then tells her she had a strange dream several days ago whereby she was saved by Tsubomi. Tsubomi too tells her that she dreamt the same thing and wonders if their hearts are connected. Saya thanks her as they both walk to class.
 
Episode 2 – Boys And Girls
Tsubomi’s mom is showing the girls a video of the developing baby in the womb. When Yae asks about the baby’s gender, Tsubomi says it’s a girl and Rea wonders how she knows about it. Tsubomi’s mom gives them the straight answer on how to determine a baby’s gender, that is the visibility of the penis. Of course she says that at this stage it may not be developed yet so sometimes it may be hard to tell. Rea seems to be ‘amazed’ by the word penis but feels a little disappointed because she thought there was a more complex way to determine a baby’s gender. Saya then says that it’s the most prominent difference of a boy and girl’s body, causing all 3 girls to blush.
 
At school, I think Tsubomi must be thinking too hard on Saya’s words so much so she can’t stop staring at the crotch area of Nemoto… Then Tsubomi’s class are being shown a video on sex education! Brings back memories of those days when we learn the human’s reproductive system. When the video shows the workings of the male’s genitals, all the boys go wild giving cries of bravo! Boys will be boys. The sex ed video goes on to narrate about sperm and ejaculation and even boys who reached puberty may experience wet dreams! Erm… It seems Rea is pretty amazed with what she has learned. Yeah, she’s saying now she knows that a boy’s penis isn’t only used to pee! The disturbing thing wasn’t her statement, but rather her happy expression on her face.
 
During swimming class, Futoshi seems pretty hyped-up after watching the sex ed video. Yeah, he’s talking about girls with big boobs and wonders which girls in their class has them. Nil lah. Seeing that You is too quiet, Futoshi teases him that he probably has seen too much of his elder sister’s boobs that the girls in their class isn’t enough for him. Later, Tsubomi notices Yae acting strange so she asks her if she likes You. To Tsubomi’s surprise, Yae has been going out with You since last year. Yae continues to tell how she has a complex for tall guys but You accepted that part of her. Since You is quite popular among the other girls and Yae didn’t want to be treated badly if they found out, they kept their relationship a secret. But Yae doesn’t feel comfortable with her body now and thinks she’s lagging behind while thinking Tsubomi has an ideal one her age. However Tsubomi too tells her that she also felt the same way while they had their school field trip previously (something about noticing the girls were covering their pubic hair even though the bath was only filled with girls) and after talking to Saya, she calmed down.
 
When Tsubomi and Yae head to class, they spot the girls outside because of a note on the door telling them to stay out and not to peep at the boys changing. As though… Rea opens the door a little to find that they’re discussing about which girls have the best boobs and are even giving some ratings! They’re starting young alright. Natural or not? You decide. When it comes to Rea’s turn, Futoshi says it’s impossible to give her a rating. Rea gets upset and yells for him to watch out that she’ll grow into a tall and beautiful woman. During recess, as the girls eat lunch together, Saya finds out that Rea and Futoshi are childhood friends and thinks how observant Futoshi is on Rea. She indicates that Futoshi may like her because he stopped those guys from ranting to protect her when it was her turn. Furthermore Saya adds that the reason why a boy does something to a girl she doesn’t like is probably he is interested in her. With that, Tsubomi too thinks she can’t get Nemoto out of her mind.
 
After school, Tsubomi is trying to find her lost handkerchief when Nemoto comes in and decides to help her look for it. He suggests going to the AV room as they had their lesson there. They found it when the caretaker locks the room. I can’t believe he didn’t check first but I guess at this hour, it’s normal for everyone to have left. They tried to shout for help but the AV room is built to keep the sound in. So nobody can hear them from the outside. Luckily the room is on the first floor so they decide to climb out through the window. The duo then spot something shocking. You and Yae are kissing each other! How daring! Kids these days… Tsubomi and Nemoto are embarrassed with what they saw and after the kissing couples left, Nemoto climbs out of the window but Tsubomi is a little afraid to jump out. Nemoto assures her that he’ll catch her. I don’t know how but she landed on him in an awkward position. In the sense that she got her breasts in his face and at the same time her leg on his crotch. As Nemoto gets up and runs away, Tsubomi says to herself how Nemoto really is a boy. Well, that confirms it right?
 
Back home, Nemoto has a dream whereby Tsubomi kisses him. Before their lips met, he wakes up to find himself a little wet. No it’s not that kind of wetting the bed. Yup, just like what he learned from the sex ed video the other day. Nemoto meets Tsubomi the next day at the school shoe locker area and the duo seems a little embarrassed to face each other. Perverted Futoshi then interrupts them as he tells Nemoto a new place where they can get porn mags. I hope this kid doesn’t turn into a big time pervert. Based on Nemoto’s body language, Futoshi thinks he’s fallen for Tsubomi. Tsubomi runs away in embarrassment and drops the bird keychain. In class, Nemoto is spacing out when You greets him and notice his strange behaviour. Since Nemoto could only think of was You’s kissing scene with Yae, he gets up and walks away flustered.
 
Sitting alone on the stairs, Nemoto finds Saya next to him as she tells him that since their minds and bodies are growing, it’s normal to think about ecchi stuff (note: there’s a limit to that too). And all that matters is to understand what is important to him. Just then, Nemoto notices how Saya resembles closely to Tsubomi when Saya says how Tsubomi lost her keychain (giving him that hinting wink). Nemoto decides to go give the keychain back to her but when he turns back, Saya is no longer there. Hmmm…. Something strange about that girl is bugging me. Nemoto gives the keychain back to Tsubomi in class, making her feel happy. Of course Rea happened to hear their conversation and pesters them for answers. Tsubomi narrates how thanks to Saya, she has gotten a little closer to Nemoto but feels it’s a mystery that she’s always there whenever when she needs someone to talk to. Me too.
 
Episode 3 – Why People Fall In Love
Rea is at Tsubomi’s place and excitedly tells the latter that she is absolutely 100% sure that Nemoto likes her. She asks her for her opinion on Nemoto. But Tsubomi doesn’t know, disappointing Rea. So Rea tells her to confess her feelings to Nemoto in order to find out if he has feelings for her. Thus Rea plans to have everyone over on Christmas Eve so that Tsubomi could do so. Rea’s so excited about it and you know it’s like she’s managing Tsubomi’s love life. Tsubomi’s mom then comes in and Rea notices her tummy now bigger. She tells her that the due date of the baby is on New Year’s Eve but can be anytime too.
 
Next day at school, everyone accepts Rea’s plan to have a Christmas party together and You suggests to have it at his place since her boyfriend-less sister can cook (though he was just hoping to invite Yae only). As Nemoto opens his shoe locker, a love letter falls out. Rea is excited of this new development as Futoshi reads aloud the details. How embarrassing. But Tsubomi looks a little worried. Later, Rea and Futoshi squeezes out the juicy details of Nemoto’s love encounter. He tells them that the girl confessed her feelings to him but he apologized and turned her down. Then Futoshi asks him if she had boobs because she’s a sixth grader and he deservingly gets a beating from Rea. Yae tells Tsubomi about it as she feels a little relieved. As Tsubomi takes a bath back home, she wonders how the sixth grader confessed to Nemoto and thinks she hasn’t the courage herself to confess to him.
 
Soon the gang arrives at You’s place for the Christmas party. Futoshi gets excited to see You’s busty sister and gets another round of beating. Is that all he ever thinks? As the gang goes into the living room, You’s sister turns around and notices that Saya has no reflection in the mirror. She clears her eyes thinking that she may be seeing things. Maybe she’s just seeing things because her reflection’s there. Hmmm… So the usual fun and games the little kids have but Tsubomi is feeling nervous as she can’t possibly confess under these circumstances. Tsubomi decides to go to the toilet as Saya accompanies her. Tsubomi then cries in Saya’s arms telling her how she can’t confess to Nemoto. Saya gives her another round of advice like how love can start even from the smallest things and that everyone is destined to fall in love since the day they were born. So it’s something more like fate rather than coincidence. Just like how they both met, that’s fate too. Thus Saya encourages her to confess her feelings to Nemoto. Just then, You’s sister comes by to tell Tsubomi that they’ve got a call from the hospital and that her mom is going into labour soon.
 
Tsubomi rushes to the hospital to find her mom with a nurse. She gives her mom a massage on her back to make her feel better. As Tsubomi waits outside the delivery room, she is surprised to see Saya who comes by to tell her that she has to go and she’s here to tell her true feelings in the end. Saya hugs Tsubomi and says she "I love you. Thank you. Let’s meet again". Tsubomi is confused by Saya’s words when she heard her father rushing in and asking her whether the baby has been born yet. Just then, Tsubomi notices that Saya is nowhere to be found. But she can’t worry about that now because she just heard the sound of a newborn cry. It’s a girl! Ah, tears of joy. As Tsubomi notices how cute her little sister is, her parents decides to call her Saya and say, doesn’t she have an uncanny resemblance… Tsubomi’s mom tells Tsubomi to go back to her Christmas party as daddy is here now and she and her newborn needs some rest.
 
Tsubomi heads back and reports the good news to her pals. When she asks about Saya, it’s like everyone seems unable to recall who she is for a moment before remembering her. Later as the party is over, Nemoto thinks of walking Tsubomi home as they live in the same direction. Futoshi and Rea teases them and says to use this attack chance while Yae tells them to stop. On the way home just before they part separate ways, Tsubomi manages to sum up her courage and confess that she likes him. Nemoto says he regret the fact that he didn’t get to say it first and that’s when he too confess how he likes her before rushing off. Obviously Tsubomi didn’t see that one coming too and is surprised by his words. So much so, she can’t sleep that night and wants to see Saya so that she could thank her.
 
But as Tsubomi narrates, how Saya stayed hidden from them and that her evidence of her being in this world are slowly vanishing, even in everyone’s memories. It seems all the photos of her are starting to vanish in every picture. But Tsubomi says she understands what Saya was. Tsubomi is seen holding hands with Nemoto at school when Nemoto tells her he had a strange dream about a girl with long hair telling him to take care of Tsubomi and that she looked a bit like her. Tsubomi then says she is Saya and she has been dreaming about her too as she tells her to get along well with Nemoto. The duo nearly kissed but stopped as they head for class. Tsubomi says even though she likes Nemoto, she can’t go as far as Yae yet because they’ll do things their way. As they walk hand-in-hand, Saya is seen watching them from above and afar.
 
The birds and the bees…
Well, it’s nice to see that eventually Tsubomi and Nemoto ended up together. I know they’re too young to be lovers but as they say, there shouldn’t be any barriers to love. Besides, even though they like each other, I find that their love are the innocent kind. Saya is a character which still boggles me. Is she some sort of a guardian angel which guides Tsubomi through or some sort of reincarnated spirit as Tsubomi’s future sister? I mean, if she was Tsubomi’s sister, then what about that last bit whereby we see her overlooking the duo? Perhaps she could exist in more than 1 form? Her presence is sure mysterious enough but she does play important and pivotal roles in providing Tsubomi lots of good piece of advice so that she could be prepared and face such situations without fear or anxiety of the unknown. If only there were more people in this world like Saya.
 
The drawing and art makes are more towards cute, making the characters your typical wide-eyed cute little characters. Of course the characters will turn into chibi mode when it gets comical. I happen to notice that the blush on the characters’ cheeks are like sketchy drawn lines. A trademark of this series’ art? Also, there is no opening theme song as the show starts right away with Tsubomi’s narration on what is currently happening. Besides, the ending theme is totally an instrumental and it sounds like a kindergarten song at first because of the chimes before the orchestral strings come in.
 
I wouldn’t really consider to be an ecchi anime even if there are tiny bits of those elements. I think it should be suitable for younger audiences to watch as well. Hopefully, Rea and Futoshi don’t turn into big time perverts when they grow up. But in today’s world and society, I guess every kid should’ve known about these stuff already. Unless they’ve been living in the jungle of course. Lost of innocence? But in a way it’s better to get to know these things at an early stage in life so as not to be ‘paralyzed’ in total shock when they find out about it. So next time a little kid asks about the birds and the bees, just give it to them straight in the face. Because honesty is the best policy. Jaw dropping reaction? Don’t worry. That’s natural…
 

Naisho No Tsubomi

Kurenai

April 4, 2009

Have you ever thought of getting a job as a babysitter full-time or part time? Do you know what it is like to babysit? Well, I’m not saying that is the main premise of the anime series Kurenai because this series is more of a drama-slice of life with a little comedy in it. You’re not going to see or get any tips on how to babysit.
 
Rather in this 12 episode series, you’ll find that our main character here is a 16 year old school going student, Shinkurou Kurenai. He’s leading a tough life being a poor kid. His parents are dead and he lives in a run-down single tiny room apartment at Samidare Apartment. In need of money, he undertakes various odd jobs from his strong-willed employer lady named Benika Juuzawa.
 
What kind of jobs does he do? Well in short, he is a dispute mediator or a troubleshooter. What is that supposed to mean? Let’s just say that if there is some sort of conflict of dispute, Shinkurou will come in to settle things peacefully and if the perpetrators don’t want the easy way out, they’ll have to confront with his fists. Usually because they think that he’s a kid, they can bully him and throw their weight around. And when that happens, they’ll wish they had never picked a fight with him. You’ll see why later.
 
Like at the start of episode 1 whereby he’s doing his usual rounds of troubleshooting. But Shinkurou soon experiences some sort of pain in his right arm and is unable to continue further. Then we are also introduced to a 7 year old daughter of the Kuhouin household, Murasaki. She seems like a cute girl from a household which could do no wrong. Wrong. The Kuhouin household has a very deep secret which has been their strict traditional custom throughout the ages. Furthermore, this wealthy and plutocratic family has what they called the Inner Sanctuary hidden in the midst of their over-sized mansion. And Murasaki is supposed to be living in there.
 
The first episode may be a little confusing as it tries to explain initial stuff like the current head of the Kuhouin household is a man named Renjou and is talking to his wife, Kazuko. The confusing part is that Murasaki though is the daughter of Renjou but isn’t the real one of Kazuko. Her real biological mom is the late Souju. At first, you may think that Murasaki is a child born out of wedlock from the head of the family with one of the servants. Seems so like that. Through flashbacks we see that Souju was treated badly by Kazuko and such violent scenes are enough to traumatized a little Murasaki, who loved Souju very much.
 
Benika was once a worker in the Kuhouin’s residence and before Souju’s passing, she made a promise with the latter to take Murasaki out from the Inner Sanctuary so that she could see the real world outside. So one night, Benika and her subordinate Yayoi Inuzuka, whisks Murasaki away even if the mansion is heavily guarded. Obviously by doing so, Benika is asking for trouble with the Kuhouins but she is unfazed. Of course Renjou wants his men to get Murasaki back but for now, Benika has managed to successfully get away.
 
Seeing that Murasaki has to be temporarily sheltered and lay low somewhere, why not at Shinkurou’s place. I mean, that place is so run-down and for a little rich princess like Murasaki, nobody in the Kuhouins will suspect that she’ll stay at such a place initially. And thus Shinkurou has himself another job, which is to babysit Murasaki. Or perhaps the correct term is to bodyguard and protect her. However you look at it. But unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Kindergarten Cop or Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier, Shinkurou doesn’t have that six-pack nor is he really 100% with Murasaki all the time. I mean, this guy has got to juggle between his school and babysitting, I mean bodyguard job. So he’s got it real tough. But if Benika is paying him, I guess he has no choice. Hey, note that LCD screen in his room? It stands out like a ‘sore’ thumb. Makes you think too what kind of shady job Benika does. Maybe it’s better not to know. However, Yayoi isn’t too pleased with Benika’s choice of entrusting Murasaki to a green kid like Shinkurou. But Benika’s the boss and she is willing to put her trust into his abilities. As Benika leaves Murasaki in Shinkurou’s hands, Yayoi stays back to double make sure things don’t go wrong. Yeah, you’ll notice that she stands outside Samidare in the cold on guard, 24/7.
 
Initially Shinkurou and Murasaki don’t get along well due to their obvious upbringing. Yeah, they quarrelled over his smelly stinking futon among other stuff besides his small cramped room. Get use to it girl. The thing is that Shinkurou has his school responsibilities too and since he can’t bring her along, he has to leave her home alone and tells her not to go out until he comes home. That’s pretty dangerous don’t you think? He actually leaves her and what is a bored little girl got to do in a tiny little room besides watching boring drama shows on TV? Because of that, Murasaki decides to go out on her own and when Shinkurou returns, he starts to panic when she is missing and goes all out to find her. He finally finds her alone in the park and they both reconciled. Yayoi has been tailing Murasaki ever since and reports back to Benika. It seems that this was a test for him and she acknowledges that he passed. Murasaki later tells Shinkurou that she is afraid of being alone and that her mother has passed away.
 
And so it begins the unlikely bond between Shinkurou and Murasaki. The first half of the series is quite funny and light-hearted as we see how Murasaki adjusts to her new surroundings. If you’re thinking that she’s going to be a spoilt brat then think again because I find her she’s quite open to changes though she has a hard time understanding them due to her previous royalty-like living. It’s fun to see Murasaki and Shinkurou bond and get closer to each other. Of course the second half will take a grimmer turn but more on that later.
 
Before I move on, I want to mention a few of the other notable characters in the series. Also living within Samidare is the sarcastic landlady Yamie. Always dress in mundane and black fashion, one may probably think that she is some occult obsessed with the dead, which I think it’s partly true. Then there’s the other tenant, Tamaki Mutou. A university student who considers herself a love doctor. Yeah, be careful of her adult lines. She loves teasing and flirting with Shinkurou with them and with Murasaki around, you wonder will it be right for a 7 year old to hear those lines. But then again, sometimes Murasaki doesn’t really get it. At school, Yuuno Houzuki seems to like Shinkurou and at times gets really close to him. I’m not sure if that guy knows it or not or he’s just treating her as her best friend. Then there’s Shinkurou’s classmate, the bespectacled childhood friend Ginko Murakami. There are hints that Ginko may have a crush on Shinkurou because there are tell-tale signs like she gets jealous when Yuuno is too close to Shinkurou and she refers to Yuuno as an indecent woman. Also, Ginko seems to be some sort of information specialist, having able to find them with through her laptop and informing whatever Shinkurou needs. Yeah, sometimes she too gives Shinkurou some odd jobs. But I guess he needs the money.
 
Though episode 2 begins with Renjou talking to Kazuko about Murasaki’s kidnapping, we also have a glimpse of Shinkurou’s flashback. When he was a child, he was stuck in some sort of plane crash wreckage and has been traumatized to see his dead bloodied faces of his parents right in front of his face. Other than that, the rest of this episode sees how Murasaki has her own ‘fun-filled’ day. While Shinkurou is at school, Murasaki calls him on his handphone (he gives him one so that they’ll be able to contact each other) just to find out what do cats eat (because she spots one walking across outside the window). At the same time, Murasaki is tired because of his new job so his friends scrutinise him. Yeah, he has to keep it a secret that he’s protecting a 7 year old. Why? People may think he has turned into a lolicon! Hahaha! Just kidding. He has to because if word spreads, eventually the Kuhouins would know their whereabouts and that will defeat the entire purpose. Even back at Samidare, Murasaki meets Tamaki and Yamie. Oh yeah. Hopefully they don’t get the wrong idea that Shinkurou has loli fetish by keeping a cute little girl in his room. Oh wait, Murasaki is telling them how she is Shinkurou’s master and he is her servant. Tamaki must be thinking that boy’s doing something kinky, isn’t he?
 
Also we see Murasaki trying to open a canned food from the fridge and because she has no strength, it’s pretty funny to see her try real hard. Then there’s a part where she’s washing herself in the sink. Since Shinkurou is worried about Murasaki, he calls her but she didn’t pick up the phone but Yamie did. Yeah, secret busted. When Shinkurou comes home, he takes Murasaki to a public bath. Luckily she’s still a kid so she can go bath with him together. Nothing ecchi here, mind you. It just shows how Murasaki is like ‘a frog who lives in a well’ but funny lah. Then another hilarious part was after they finished, the old lady who runs the public bath bought Murasaki milk. Shinkurou tells Murasaki that she needs to say thank you but Murasaki wonders why she needs to say so to a servant. This causes him to knock her head! Ouch! "You hit me! Why did you hit me?!". Because it’s his job, silly. And since Murasaki is still ranting, Shinkurou hits her head a second time while she’s at it. "You hit me again?!". But soon she understands and goes to thank the old woman. On their way back home, Shinkurou buys a new futon for Murasaki and she’s so happy even if it’s just a new fresh futon. Ah, kids and their innocence. After Murasaki falls asleep, Shinkurou goes out to do his troubleshooting job (Yayoi tails him but doesn’t get involve or let her presence known). Yeah, some gangsters want some old bartender about giving up his bar. Shinkurou comes in and the thugs took the violent way out. We see that Shinkurou possess abnormal human strength. They’re no match for him as he throws them around, messing up the place. Then his right arm starts to experience pain and something seems to be protruding out from his elbow but he manages to keep it in control. Once Shinkurou knocks them out, he asks if the bartender is alright but he is cowering in fear saying how he is a monster. He goes back bruised to find Murasaki still sleeping so he too falls asleep.
 
Episode 3 has Murasaki and Tamaki watching a drama show in Shinkurou’s room. You’ll notice how they love converging in his room. Tamaki did say how finding a ‘good guy’ possible as opposed to what Murasaki said after watching the show and thus brings her to Shinkurou’s school. Meanwhile Shinkurou is discussing with Benika on his handphone about the previous night’s job and he gets a pay cut for wrecking stuff. He then goes to see Ginko if she has any other jobs available for him. It seems it involves about an old kindergarten Ginko used to attend and it’s going to be demolished soon and she doesn’t want that. At the same time, Murasaki has arrived at Shinkurou’s school and I don’t know why Tamaki just left her there after saying that the ‘good guy’ is in there. Murasaki’s fun continue as she tries to do a warm up run with a group of students. Then she went over to the baseball team and wonders why everyone wears the same uniform. A baseball player gives an answer which is a pun between the world baseball player (yakyuukin) and servant (kyuujin). After that, she is amazed by the huge space of the sport’s store room (a little dusty she finds it) and the library. Now this part is hilarious. Murasaki is in the science lab and spots that biology mannequin but doesn’t know what it is so she calls Shinkurou for help. Shinkurou thinks Murasaki is still back in his room when she starts saying that there is a half-naked (exposed organs, that is) man died standing up. Shinkurou thinks she has entered Tamaki’s room and found something ecchi! He tells her not to touch it and leaves. Though Murasaki wanted to help the mannequin, she apologizes to it that she can’t help him and leaves.
 
As Murasaki continues to wander in the school’s hallway, she bumps into Yuuno. Yuuno gets a little suspicious upon hearing Murasaki’s name but soon gives her a tour around school. Shinkurou meanwhile overheard several guys talking about a strange little royalty-like girl and it occurred to him that Murasaki must’ve been here. Yeah, he spots the biology mannequin and realizes what Murasaki meant. He calls Murasaki and since Yuuno wants to speak to Shinkurou, Murasaki becomes suspicious when Yuuno says she knows Shinkurou. Yeah, now Murasaki thinks she has been deceived and considers Yuuno her enemy. Murasaki runs away while Yuuno give chase. As Murasaki escapes, she tells Shinkurou on her handphone how a ‘vile woman’ is chasing her. Eventually the trio meet and the funny part was that all 3 were talking and you can imagine the cacophony! Shinkurou must be having a hard time trying to settle things (Yuuno was a little upset when Shinkurou realized who the vile woman Murasaki was talking about). Two woman talking contradicting stuffs. Eventually Shinkurou comes clean and tells Yuuno about his bodyguard job.
 
Later as Shinkurou and Murasaki take a train home, the duo had a little argument about Murasaki feels she’s only with him because of his job. He explains about Yuuno’s case how he was taken to live with her family for a while and was thought some martial arts by her grandpa. Then they spot several punks trying to make an old lady give her seat to them. WTF?! These punks have no conscious at all! Murasaki didn’t like what she’s seeing and confronts them. Yeah, she’s not afraid but so are the punks. Shinkurou intervenes and apologizes to them for butting in but Murasaki is appalled that he’s not fighting back. So much so one of the punks spit on Shinkurou and punched him! And he still doesn’t fight back. We must all learn patience from him. After they alight, Murasaki is still upset why he didn’t fight back because this brought back painful memories of how her mom died with a fake smile. That same fake smile which she always showed to Kazuko. Then the old lady comes by to thank them for their brave display and that she’s okay. Later that night after putting Murasaki to bed, Shinkurou goes out to do another job but this time Murasaki was just faking it. She follows him closely behind to find what he’s up to.
 
In episode 4, Shinkurou arrives at a building (the job Ginko gave him about the one regarding the kindergarten). At the same time, Yayoi tails them from the shadows. As Murasaki follows him into the building, she complained about how the elevators are made (she’s short, remember?). Shinkurou arrives inside a room to nicely negotiate (it’s like blackmail if you look at it in a way) with the boss to drop his plans or else he will publicly reveal some shady secrets which could ruin him for life. Surprisingly, Murasaki comes in and interrupt them but it’s back to discussions for them. In return, Shinkurou will permanently dispose of those sensitive info. Can he trust a kid like him? He just have to. The boss agrees and when Shinkurou leaves, Murasaki notices something in the boss’s eyes which indicates he is lying so she tries to tell Shinkurou not to trust him. But he isn’t listening to her so when the elevator door opens, Shinkurou receives a punch from one of the boss’s subordinates coming out. A fight ensues but I can’t believe those guys would even hurt a little girl! JERKS!!! Because of that, Shinkurou gets upset and suddenly a long sharp bone horn comes out from his right elbow! OMG! What on Earth is he?! Even the boss can’t believe it! I don’t know if the boss is a bad shot because his firing seems to hit Shinkurou’s whatever bone weapon (I mean Shinkurou isn’t really blocking or deflecting it with effort). Yayoi finally manages to get inside the building to save Murasaki and after the commotion, Benika comes by in her car to pick them up.
 
Back home, Yayoi confronts Benika about Shinkurou’s failure which puts Murasaki’s life in danger. Yayoi still doesn’t believe he can do the job and of all other potential people, she had to pick him. Yayoi leaves with Benika then. The next morning, Shinkurou and Murasaki reconcile. As he goes to school, Murasaki decides to clean his place to make up for last night. At school, Shinkurou reports to Ginko about the job and she notices a wound on his right elbow. Later Yuuno too notices it and wants him to come to her place so that she could apply some medicine. We learn that the bone horn technique thingy is called Houzuki-ryuu and Yuuno says he shouldn’t rely on it as it’s unsuitable for the inexperienced. When Shinkurou returns home, he takes Murasaki to the public bath Murasaki as gratitude for cleaning the place. She then takes the opportunity to ask of his job on the way home. Shinkurou tells her of how he and Ginko was part of a group of abducted kids after some terrorist bombed the airport and decides to kidnap them for child trafficking. These people were real heartless to point a gun at a child! Because his parents were dead, Shinkurou didn’t care for his life anymore and even challenged the terrorist to kill him, though Ginko was obviously shaken. Then Benika and her squad came in and do some serious kick ass to save the kids. Ever since then, Shinkurou has admired and looked up to Benika as a strong person and has been sent to live with Yuuno’s family for 8 years and learned the Houzuki-ryuu style of martial arts. Shinkurou also decided to follow Benika’s footsteps to be strong. Likewise, Benika is explaining the same story to Yayoi and says the reason she chose Shinkurou was because his past, he somewhat resembles Murasaki and is the only one who could understand her feelings. Benika believes because he has someone to protect, he will grow stronger in doing so. Though Yayoi understands now, she heads back to Samidare to keep watch and as further precaution.
 
Shinkurou and Murasaki visits Yuuno’s household in episode 5. While Shinkurou spars with Yuuno, Murasaki will be playing with Yuuno’s little sister, Chizuru. We see that Yuuno is no pushover as Shinkurou has a hard time trying to get the upper hand. Even if she looks sweet on the outside, don’t mess with her. But the funny part was when Murasaki got so obsessed in playing with Chizuru’s Nintendo DS (never played such a game before, huh?) so much so she broke the screen by poking too hard! Poor Chizuru. She knew the way Murasaki handled it was a sign her precious portable console is going to be destroyed. Then the girls went to play with dolls (should be safer… she thinks) but Murasaki ripped off the doll’s arm when she tries to force a toy fork into it! Don’t let this girl play with your toys! Oh the heartbreak for Chizuru. Seeing how sad she is, Murasaki decides to fix the doll but ends up making its head fall off. Now Chizuru’s in tears so Murasaki goes to Shinkurou for help. Murasaki spots Shinkurou himself in a pinch and I’m not sure if she’s amazed or surprised of what she saw. Later Shinkurou goes to talk to Yuuno’s grandpa and we learn that their family is from a line of assassins and killers. Grandpa expects both his granddaughters to carry on this tradition. Once they’re done and ready to leave, Shinkurou finds Murasaki fast asleep as he carries her home while Yuuno accompanies them to the train station. Later when Shinkurou and Murasaki are shopping for groceries, Murasaki finds out that Chizuru’s doll has been fixed but he’s short of money to buy the DS, so she wants him to get her 1 too. Shinkurou finds that Tamaki and Yamie are in his room probably waiting to eat what he has brought. Because Murasaki ambiguously told Tamaki how Shinkurou and Yuuno were doing their private practice together, Tamaki starts teasing Shinkurou that if he wants to learn any ‘moves’, she’ll be glad to teach him. They all dig into their hot nabe and Murasaki seems to be enjoying it. Except for Yayoi. Waiting outside in the cold and hungry…
 
Fancy a musical version of Kurenai? Well, that’s what episode 6 almost turned out. A local producer comes knocking on Samidare to recruit participants for the upcoming musical play at a nearby park. Since Shinkurou even got the green light from Benika to have Murasaki in the play. So the first practice (in Shinkurou’s room obviously)… IT SUCKS! In short, they all sound so horrible, so out-of-tune, so off note, so flat, no coordination. Oh the cacophony! God save us! And Yamie said she had some singing experience as a kid but that was HER friend singing instead of herself. Then I think Shinkurou panicked and decides to call Yuuno over but she too… let’s just say everyone here isn’t American Idol material. Yeah, William Hung even does better! Because everyone else is mocking Yuuno who is no better than them, Shinkurou kicks them all out from his room to practice with her (nothing hentai, mind you). But erm… it seems Yuuno is taking this chance to go all over him. Meanwhile Yamie spots Yayoi and pesters her if she can sing. By golly! Yayoi could! She sounds so much better! Yamie wants to learn from her and I guess Yayoi couldn’t turn her down.
 
The funny twist and turn of events begin when Murasaki and Tamaki decides to swap their roles and then barge into Shinkurou’s room after eavesdropping and probably misinterpreted they’re doing something forbidden. Yeah, now everyone’s voice becomes beautiful and the several scenes show how everyone gathers into Shinkurou’s room in dramatic musical play style. I don’t know about the musical plot but hearing them all doing the play was hilarious, even if it was meant to be serious. Their play ended with the local producers approval, but they’re confused because the gang added some extra lines and characters of their own (variety is the spice of life). Meanwhile Ginko is at the park and is horrified to know that there is no musical play to be held at all but a manzai comedy instead (earlier on she was invited by Shinkurou to come watch them) and rushes to Samidare but bumps into Benika. We learn that all this was a setup by Benika so that everybody could have some fun. Yeah, the local producers were hired by her. In the end, everyone is still in their dramatic musical singing except for Shinkurou who wants to go to sleep. Dream on people… A minus point for this episode is that during the musical part, the animation is kinda jerky.
 
In episode 7, after Tamaki and Murasaki watches some drama on TV, Tamaki decides to bring Murasaki along with her to university so that she could find a good man. Sometimes I don’t know if what Tamaki teaches this little girl is a good thing or not. I mean, stuff like this she will eventually find out as she grows up. When Shinkurou calls home to check on them, Yamie covers for them by saying she’s still around. Before they shortly left, that is. At university, the duo comes face to face with Tamaki’s stuck up rival (what’s with her fashion sense?). She hates Tamaki for stealing her boyfriend but Tamaki has her way with words and since she said too much, her rival takes off her high heels and smacks her head! As the duo sit around observing other couples, coupled in with yours truly Tamaki’s love advice, they are being approached by a guy named Satoshi. He is Tamaki’s boyfriend and he wants to break up (Tamaki tried to delay their talk to some other time because Murasaki is here but was unable to. Can’t let her know her words are contradicting her own situation, huh?). See, can say people lah but now she herself is desperate to keep their relationship alive. Satoshi says how she’s controlling and abusive and true enough Tamaki gets pissed off and raises her fist, sending Satoshi to cower in fear. Tamaki then realized and apologizes to him. Murasaki and Tamaki are at a restaurant as the latter tries to cheer her up when they spot Satoshi going out with a new girlfriend. As Tamaki continues talking about men liking weaker girls to rely on them, Murasaki realized Shinkurou is in the same danger from that vile Yuuno and rushes out to save him. Murasaki bumps into a man while heading out and the man seems to remember who Murasaki is after Tamaki calls for her to wait. He checks his handphone to see a picture of Murasaki and realizes that she is the runaway daughter of the Kuhouins. Oh oh.
 
When Shinkurou comes back from school, he is furious to find Murasaki gone and confronts Yamie. Yeah, she did told him the truth that she was here. Several hours ago, that is. Just then Murasaki comes back and vehemently tells Shinkurou to dump that woman and the reason he’s staying with Murasaki was that he turned into a lolicon! Wow. She must’ve learned that word from Tamaki. Meanwhile that man managed to locate Murasaki’s hideout as he drives pass by and recognizes Yayoi standing guard outside. He reports this to Renjou, who in turn has a flashback when Souju was alive. Her whole life was filled with misery and pain. But the most painful one was the pain in her heart, especially about Murasaki as her real child but couldn’t refer to her as her own daughter. Even if Renjou said how he only loved Souju (don’t know how true is that. Or maybe he’s just saying it then), she wondered if he could love Murasaki as his own daughter as well. Soon Souju committed suicide holding a doll and Murasaki was crying incessantly (she had found out who her real mom was by that time). Renjou was distraught and confided in Benika but since she supported Souju’s views of freeing Murasaki, he fired her. Even so, Benika was bent of leaving without having to tell her to do so but laments that he could’ve done more. Back in present time, Renjou orders one of his subordinate, Lin, to get Murasaki back but without attracting attention or suspicion. Now Lin’s look may seem a little weird but she is a bloody skilled fighter and she has that cold killer look in her eyes and smile.
 
In episode 8, Renjou’s men drive pass Samidare several times to keep watch and even switch cars in order to avoid suspicions from Yayoi. Renjou is discussing with Kazuko about Murasaki and the conversation indicates that Renjou is starting to have second thoughts about the Inner Sanctuary, much to Kazuko’s objections. Back in Samidare, the gang agrees to take Murasaki out to a temple shrine for her shichi-go-san celebration (seven-five-three in reference to age). Though Yayoi was initially against it, but after calling Benika and getting the green light from her, she has no choice but to obliged. Say, Benika is in some sort of hostage interrogation when Yayoi called and even got the cheek to tease that ‘victim’ about it even if he’s tied up, blindfolded and pointing a gun to his head! This woman… Also, Shinkurou asks Ginko for her help to find any information about the Kuhouins. So the gang dresses up and since they got not enough money (and partly due to Benika’s condition), they settled for a less grand and smaller shrine. The usual fun affair, taking pictures, praying, having their fortune read (Murasaki’s reading turned out unfortunate. A tell tale sign of things to come?), buying good luck charms, before heading to a restaurant to eat. Back at Kuhouin’s mansion, Renjou’s eldest son, Ryuuji, makes his appearance as he says he will personally bring Murasaki back to the Inner Sanctuary because he thinks his dad is weak, delighting his grandfather.
 
After the gang has had their meal, Tamaki and Yamie decides to hang out longer to test their newfound luck (at the shrine, they prayed so much because of a belief that it will increase their gambling luck…?!). So Shinkurou has to take Murasaki home. I don’t know if Murasaki knows what she’s saying or not because she asks Shinkurou if he likes woman with big boobs as her mother had them and thus she too will grow to have big ones. Since she herself is flat so feels she can’t satisfy him now. Did she learn all that from Tamaki? She wants to grow up quickly so that she can be there for him but Shinkurou says he likes the way Murasaki is now. The next day at school, Ginko tells of her information on the Kuhouins. She says they have no daughter and only 2 sons and that the girl Shinkurou is protecting was probably a lie made up by Benika. Shinkurou is confused but believes that there is something more and that Murasaki is from the Kuhouins. When he returns home, Shinkurou is confronted by 2 Kuhouin men as they beat him up as a warning. Luckily Yayoi was there to fend off their attack. Shinkurou rushes in to his room to check on Murasaki, in which she is doing fine and unaware of what just happened. When he tells her that the Kuhouins may have found them, Murasaki says how she doesn’t want to go back to that place again. Similarly, Yayoi reports this to Benika who is on her way to pick them up. Looks like they can’t stay here anymore.
 
In episode 9, the gang are temporarily staying at a hotel. Shinkurou pesters Benika for information about the Kuhouins. Now the picture is clearer. It seems that the Kuhouins have this strange custom that they could only have children within women among themselves. So is it like marrying your own sister? Well thing is, those women born under the Kuhouin family are not allowed to become their wives nor even exist once they have done so. Yeah, they are put into the Inner Sanctuary the moment they are born. So in order to cover that up, some outsider who craves fame, power or money will be married into the family and be that child’s new mother. Thus a Kuhouin woman will forever live and die inside the walls of the Inner Sanctuary without having contact with the outside world nor does anybody from the outside world know of them (would they? Call the Human Rights Group!). What cruel, sick and twisted fate/joke is this?! It’s like their sole purpose is just to breed the children of the Kuhouin and that’s it, their existence doesn’t really matter. And so far all the males in the family have rigidly uphold this sick tradition. OMG! That flashback of Murasaki makes her resemble so much like Enma Ai of Jigoku Shoujo (and with the dark surroundings and traditional wall paintings too!). I guess Souju didn’t want Murasaki to end up like her and that’s why she sought the help of Benika to whisk her away.
 
Benika’s initial plan was to have Shinkurou and Murasaki leave the country but Shinkurou wants to go back to Samidare with Murasaki to say their last goodbyes to Yamie and Tamaki. The quartet have their usual meal but Yamie and Tamaki notices something strange because Shinkurou is awfully generous with his food (he has to be stingy since he’s poor, right?) and Murasaki having a sad expression. Also as they’re packing, Murasaki gives Shinkurou a kiss on his cheek because she remembers her mom once told her to kiss people they love. I’m sure she doesn’t mean that lover’s kind of love, does she? Hopefully this doesn’t mean Shinkurou has turned into a lolicon. At the same time, Benika sneaks into the Kuhouin’s estate to have a word with Renjou. They’re both betting on which of their ‘pupil’ would do better. Back at Samidare, Lin arrives with several Kuhouin men. Yayoi tries to intercept them but is no match for skilful Lin. The men on the other hand, made several rough gestures like punching Tamaki in the stomach to make them give way. Smart Yamie who doesn’t want trouble surrenders and gives in peacefully. As they open the door, Shinkurou thought he had a surprise attack on them but was soon overpowered by Lin. He can’t lay a finger on her! Murasaki is shaking in fear. Ryuuji then comes in and smooth talks Murasaki into going back. You can see the fear in this little girl’s eyes and even though she’s saying stuff like she’s a Kuhouin woman and her place is in the Inner Sanctuary, Shinkurou knows too well that deep down in her heart Murasaki doesn’t want to leave. Shinkurou can’t do anything about it since he’s being pinned to the ground. Yayoi along with Yamie and Tamaki to were being held back by the men. Ryuuji tells her to walk back down to their car with her own will, in which she obliges after saying goodbye to him. Shinkurou screams for her name but Murasaki continues to walk away.
 
In episode 10, Murasaki is driven back to the Kuhouin estate and eventually the Inner Sanctuary. It’s back to her royalty life but finds it hard to swallow because she got scolded for doing things on her own when it’s supposed to be done by her servants. Shinkurou indeed has taught her a lot about the outside world. Yeah, Shinkurou and the rest tries to resume their normal life but I don’t think it’s going to be the same since Murasaki has been taken away like that. At the park, Yayoi has Shinkurou demonstrate his Houzuki-ryuu and she also tells him a time when she was careless and inexperienced. She was supposed to be guarding some guy and was just a few metres away getting him juice when a car stops by his side and pops a bullet in his head before speeding off. Shinkurou continues to resume his normal life but I guess there’s nothing much he could do (thinking of joining his male guys in whatever they’re doing? Think not). Memories of time spent with Murasaki just kept popping up. Because of that, he is thinking of going to the Kuhouins and rescue Murasaki. He goes to tell Benika of his intentions and Benika doesn’t think well of his suggestion. I mean, he’s up against a powerful family and can a weak fry like him do? Can he save a little girl from being loli raped by her own brother who thinks incest is part of the family’s tradition? It’s like Benika is ‘interrogating’ him on whether he can pull off this one (and even giving the excuse that their mission was over because their objectives has been reached) as Tamaki and Yamie eavesdrop from outside his room. So I guess she says okay since Benika herself has a bone to pick with them. Before Shinkurou leaves, Tamaki and Yamie comes in to tickle him and give him a scarf and the shichi-san-go photo so that he could give to Murasaki. Shinkurou gets ready to leave with Yayoi and Benika in her car.
 
The trio finally arrives at the Kuhouin estate in episode 11 and the vast place is covered in snow. They tried to use a pathway Benika used previously to sneak in but are met with lots of guards. Looks like they’re taking precautions too. Fighting in the ice cold winter must be real miserable, huh? Especially if they come into contact with that frozen stream. Brrrr… Shinkurou’s fighting still isn’t up to par and needs some assistance from the ladies. Soon Lin comes by and wants to have her fun and dukes it out with Yayoi while Benika and Shinkurou heads toward the Inner Sanctuary. By that time, news of the infiltration has reached the family. Ryuuji confronts his dad who is spending some time with Kazuko and he shows like no respect by eating his snack. Is he trying to say that he’s holding the real power and weak old farts like him are useless? The duo finally reaches the Inner Sanctuary and a female servant who knows Benika refuses to let her in. But after seeing their determination, she has no choice but to allow them.
 
Upon entering, Ryuuji is seen waiting for them with Murasaki sitting all gloomy. Meanwhile the grudge match between Lin and Yayoi ends up with Yayoi beaten to a pulp as she lay unconscious on the snow. Lin then proceeds to the Inner Sanctuary to continue her kick ass fighting and interrupted the conversation. Yeah better to have action than talk. Ryuuji also joins in the fight as she takes on Benika. Since she was once his teacher, Ryuuji knows all the possible moves Benika hides up her sleeves and you could say that Benika has met her match while Shinkurou still has trouble with Lin. Then Shinkurou got happy when he managed to slap Lin (fluke shot?). But what is that to her as Lin returns a more devastating blow. So when Lin faces off with Benika, Ryuuji decides to take Murasaki elsewhere. Just then, that lady servant jumps in to stab Lin with a knife as she tries to hold her down to buy time for the duo to escape. Lin manages to avoid getting stab but uses that same knife to multiple stab that servant to death! Shinkurou is horrified with what he saw and his Houzuki-ryuu starts protruding. But by the time Lin finishes stabbing her, the duo are already gone. Out in the cold, the duo takes refuge in a shed and replan their strategy. Worse come to worst, they may have to abandon their rescue mission. Benika tells Shinkurou to wait in her car while she gets Yayoi. In the car, Shinkurou looks at the picture of the one taken during Murasaki’s shichi-go-san festival and once again feels he can’t let this slip by. At the same time, Ryuuji has the female servants clean up the blood on the floor caused Lin’s stabbing of the other servant. Since they’re saddened by her death, Ryuuji’s being such an idiot jerk when he tells them not to further stain the floor with their tears. When Benika returns, she finds Shinkurou not in the car and fears that stubborn kid has gone back. So she has to drive her precious car through the snow to go after him.
 
Episode 12 begins with a car chase scene. Yup, it’s Lin. I guess their driving are so good so much so they make driving through the snow look so easy. Poor Benika got her precious car dented here and there. It’s going to be a wreck in the end. Meanwhile Shinkurou has found his way into the Inner Sanctuary and meets Renjou there. Their ‘debate’ to free Murasaki is interrupted when Benika and Lin comes crashing in! There really goes Benika’s car. Remember, don’t drive like them. Since Lin’s car overshoots and crashed into the pond outside, she has a hard time getting out while Benika and Shinkurou heads to where Murasaki is. Once Lin manages to get out, she is confronted with Yayoi. Another rematch in the waiting. Inside the Inner Sanctuary, Murasaki is still telling her saviours to leave the place and once again Shinkurou engages in another heated battle with Ryuuji. However Shinkurou uses his Houzuki-ryuu (without the horns protruding) to get the upper hand. Likewise, Yayoi uses this move to beat Lin and turn the tables on her (why didn’t she use this in the first place? And how come it’s like her previous injuries is all healed?). At that time, Renjou and Kazuko shows up and another ‘debate’ on Murasaki’s future ensues. So deep down in Murasaki’s heart, what does she really want? Yeah, she does want to go outside and leave the Inner Sanctuary. What is she to do out there? Murasaki answers that she wants to fall in love, just like her mom did. But Murasaki’s answer further shocks the rest because she says she doesn’t want to leave the Kuhouin’s estate and just the Inner Sanctuary. If she were to leave with Shinkurou, that would be like running away from it all. In short, she intends to stay within the Kuhouins and fight against this strict twisted tradition of theirs. Because of that, Renjou too somewhat sided with Murasaki’s opinion and this causes Ryuuji and Kazuko to be infuriated. Then Benika went on to further say that it’s eventually Murasaki’s choice on whether she wants to end up like Souju or choose Ryuuji as her husband.
 
Since Ryuuji didn’t like all that, in his rage he stabs Benika! Shinkurou becomes upset in what he sees and in an instant as though like in some trance, his Houzuki-ryuu horn grows out and slices Ryuuji several times but without killing him. We’ve never seen Shinkurou so upset before as he’s saying how this was all their fault. Renjou and those who have never seen such monstrosity before are surprised of that he has such weapon attached to his body. But Shinkurou begs to differ that he isn’t a killer and that he won’t kill (how was that different earlier on when he sliced Ryuuji?). When Murasaki questions him, he explains how he embedded such weapon in order to become stronger but realizes his mistake because there are other people who supported him. Upon hearing this, Murasaki says that Shinkurou is a weak person and has always thought that he was a strong person she could never catch up too but in the end, he’s just like her. Thus she affirms her decision to stay back and fight the Kuhouin’s ways. After Renjou questions why Shinkurou would go so far for a little girl, Renjou agrees to let Murasaki do so but if she fails in her fight, he wants Shinkurou to come back and face him. Ryuuji is still opposing to all this when Renjou puts his foot down and says that since he is still the head of the Kuhouins, he promise them that he will protect them all.
 
Before Shinkurou leaves, he gives Murasaki the scarf and the shichi-san-go photo. As Benika drives out of the Kuhouin’s estate, Shinkurou SMS to his pals that everything is alright (Tamaki was in the toilet when she comes out excitedly to tell Yamie about it). In the final scenes, we see Murasaki sitting on Renjou’s lap like how a father-daughter’s relationship should’ve been in the first place, telling each other their own stories like about Souju and Murasaki’s experience living outside. Finally Shinkurou falls asleep in the car and dreams of walking hand to hand with Murasaki down a peaceful hilly road filled with violet flowers. Ah, he found real peace at last.
 
I couldn’t really say that the ending was that satisfying nor am I complaining that it could’ve been better. Well, it did end in a good way, right? Even though in the end Murasaki didn’t end up being with Shinkurou, but it’s good to know that for a girl her age, she knows what she wants to do and is willing to fight for it. Speaking of which, Murasaki is still my favourite character in terms of development and growth throughout the series. Initially one may think that because of her luxurious lifestyle, but surprisingly she’s not a spoilt princess. She’s willing to learn, change and adapt to the surroundings. I just love her bubbly, cute and innocent ways and her loud arguments with Shinkurou. Like a katak dibawah tempurung at first but see how much the outside world has thought her? By the end of the episode, her character has matured a lot. Most probably her decision to go back to the Kuhouins was not the fear instilled within her of being a Kuhouin woman but rather she doesn’t want to see the ones she loves get hurt.
 
Shinkurou on the other hand is still majority weak but his determination to save Murasaki made him stronger. Remember what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. This job of taking on a plutocratic family should be a good experience for him. It shows that even anybody can take on a strong and influential family if you have the will and determination. I felt that the other characters such as Tamaki, Yamie, Ginko and Yuuno didn’t have an impact towards the end of the series and the reason their short appearance in the final episode was just to tell viewers that they are still around. Though their roles were enough for the first half of the series providing comical relief, little love tension and slight plot development. Ryuuji is a character one love to hate because he is so bent on carrying on the Kuhouin traditions no matter what. I felt that he had no real love for Murasaki even with his sweet talk of assurance and just sees her as his baby making machine. And who says leopards don’t change its spots? Well, I mean Renjou in the end did have a change of heart because like any father should, Murasaki is his daughter no matter what.
 
Initially the drawing and art somehow brings back memories of NHK Ni Youkoso. Though I found out that both animes are produced by different companies, probably it was the dark scenes and the character drawings which made me think so. Also, sometimes I find the drawing of Murasaki to be a little disproportioned. Is it because she’s a little girl and the clothing that she wore during her spell with Shinkurou was kinda odd? Speaking of which, I did find her clothing to be a little weird. Makes her look like a little walking lump ;p. The fight scenes during the last few episodes were quite nicely choreographed with all the twists and turns, the punches and kicks. May not be the best of fight scenes but it was enough to captivate me.
 
At first when I heard that Miyuki Sawashiro was one of the seiyuus for this series, I thought she was going to voice Murasaki due to my experience of hearing her as Shinku in Rozen Maiden, Reika in Goshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun and Maria in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. But to my surprise, Miyuki Sawashiro voices Shinkurou! I didn’t expect that. If you know how Khi of DearS sounds, you’ll have an idea of how she sounds like here. And so Murasaki’s character is voiced by a newbie instead, Aoi Yuuki. She does a very good job in making Murasaki sound so lively and cute during the initial episodes (especially those ‘fierce’ high-pitched arguments), and then gloomy and fearful later on. Thus she is also my favourite character in terms of voice acting. Can’t get enough of her voice. The other voice acting are splendid and they include Sawa Ishige as Benika (Haruna in Mahou Sensei Negima), Ryoko Shintani as Yuuno (Milfeulle in Galaxy Angel), Asami Sanada as Tamaki (Dejiko in Di Gi Charat), Haruka Kimura as Yamie (Okoi in Basilisk), Takaya Kuroda as Renjou (Masked Takenouchi in Cromartie High School), Kana Ueda as Lin (Mikan in Gakuen Alice), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Ryuuji (Yorito in Sola), Aiko Oukubo as Yayoi and Nozomi Masu as Ginko.
 
The opening theme is Love Jump by Minami Kuribayashi and sounds like a generic pop song. I lately found out that this short series has 2 ending themes but I’ve only heard the first one because the fansubs cut out the opening and ending credits just after a few episodes. Both the ending themes are sung by Ryoko Shintani and the first one is entitled Crossing Day and the second one called Te No Hira No Taiyou. Of course the final episode’s ending theme is just an instrumental piece. The opening credits animation seems different. I’m not sure what that kind of drawing is called so if you want to know what I mean, you have to watch it. While I’m not sure if psychedelic is the right word for the first ending credits animation. Another thing is that aside from those boring credits scrolling across the screen or appear then disappear, the text of those credits come in different sizes, alignments, tones and lengths. Just unique. I also noticed that there are quite a number of background music in this anime. Some of them sound jazzy while the rest has that sombre gloomy atmosphere. The next episode preview is an eyebrow raiser because as the scenes of the next episode is being played, the background music is just a solo of a traditional Japanese string instrument and it ends with what seems to be a funny old guy narrating in a funny tone "Next time on Kurenai, (insert name of next episode’s title here)".
 
Living in this world as each day passes, we learn new things from just about anything. Sometimes one has to get out of their comfort zone and experience the many wonderful things in life. No doubt that there are bad stuffs too but that is what life is all about. And no, I’m not ready to leave my comfortable seat and drop watching my animes to go see the world. And if I have any problems, I’m sure to keep Shinkurou in mind. A handy troubleshooter and problem solver? Well, we all need to give him a few more chances, right? Just like all of us and life.
 

Kurenai

Handsome Na Kanojo

April 3, 2009

I happened to come across this title while I was browsing what animes should I watch in the near future. Well, the name of this series seems to have caught my eye and attention, which is Handsome Na Kanojo. You know, since I found out that there is going to be just 1 episode in this OVA, my usual habit tells me that it won’t be such a bad thing to try and watch this series.
 
Now, this is quite an old production in the sense that this OVA was first released way back in the year 1991. Wow. Very long time ago. Look how far anime has come and developed throughout the years. Thus, the drawing, art and animation won’t appeal to those who are more into the contemporary styles of anime drawing. Furthermore, this OVA unlike others has a little longer running time. Yup, it lasts approximately 37 minutes. Half a dozen and one more minutes than those half hour OVAs. Perhaps they have a little more story to tell but not long enough to make it a movie length feature.
 
Going by the name of the series which means ‘handsome girl’, one might think that this series is probably about a girl who dresses up as a guy or vice versa or that a girl is so manly that she looks quite the prince charming most males are. Wrong. Though the term may be a little misleading, it’s just your typical drama romance genre about a 15 year old student, Mio Hagiwara, who is also an upcoming actress in the showbiz world and her (short) trials and tribulations with the person she loves, which is the young cool film director prodigy, Ichiya Kumagai. That’s it. Short enough? If not, continue on reading.
 
The series starts off with a biker being chased by a couple of cars on a seaside winding road. The brakes of the bike are not working so he crashes through the barrier and off the cliff. At the same time, we see Mio standing in the studio when she comes face to face with Ichiya. If you think they’re a lovey-dovey couple already than think again because Ichiya comes up to her and says how her acting stinks (in a polite manner, that is) and that it’s enough only for festivals at school grades. He advices her to think more like a pro before leaving. Even if he sounds stuck up or that criticism is in good faith, one can’t blame Mio for feeling really upset. It’s like so in-your-face.
 
The next scene shows Mio talking to her best friend Aya Sawaki about getting that scathing remark from that jerk. We also learn that Mio has been exposed into the acting world ever since at very young age and that she’s looking at acting as a career path. Meanwhile we see Ichiya and his pals talking to the director of Somy Corporation, Okita, about their demo video. Hey wait a minute? Somy? Copyright thing? But how come I noticed the motorbike scene they put actual brand names like Suzuki and Shoei? Anyway Okita is very impressed with the demo tape they have and is even more astonished by the fact that Ichiya is still schooling and the choice actress that he chose for the video. Thus, Okita decides to sponsor them for their upcoming movie project and will be betting on their success. Ichiya and his friends are overjoyed.
 
We also see that Aya is a singer in the entertainment world and has her own popularity as well. After putting up another dazzling performance on stage, Mio goes to congratulate her when Ichiya comes in. Everytime Mio sees that guy she’s like so annoyed. Aya knows him and proceeds to tell Mio that this former classmate of hers went overseas to study movie production in America for 2 years and has recently returned back home. Before Ichiya leaves, once again he tells Mio to go study properly on acting. He sure enjoys pissing her off.
 
On the way home, Ichiya remembers what Okita told him earlier this morning. He wants him to make a promo video to project themselves and get word of it around. That is, Okita wants Ichiya to use his talented gift to carve his name and talent’s into people’s mind, after which they will hold a reception to introduce the movie. Not only that, the movie is also for the pride of Somy, Aya. Over the next several scenes, we see Ichiya and his crew filming Aya in their promotional video and soon it becomes a hit. As Aya celebrates with Mio at a nightclub, Mio once again becomes annoyed to know that Ichiya is there as well. When they’re done, Ichiya and Mio got into the same cab sine their home is in the same direction (and to save cab fare of course!). Ichiya takes the opportunity to tell Mio that though she has a good acting sense, she’s a coward when doing her lines. He didn’t mean to be rude when he said she sucked but if she puts a little more effort, she’ll definitely be a good actress. With that, Mio’s perception of Ichiya changed and she can’t help think about what he said as she lay on her bed. Then Mio suddenly gets a call from her manager to turn on her TV. It seems there is a press conference on Ichiya and Somy announcing their upcoming movie production in which Mio is the main star. Oh, she’s going to make her silver screen debut.
 
The next day, she heads to Ichiya’s place to find out more details. Mio is introduced to the filming crew and the reason her name was announced during the reception was because Okita felt that it would create an impact. Everyone is happy that Mio agrees to act in their film and gets down to work right away. Later Ichiya invites Mio to go watch a movie with him. He shows her a movie whereby several females have been dubbed ‘Handsome Women’ because of their cool, sophisticated and imposing effect, even though that handsome term is generally reserved for men. Ichiya thinks to find someone like that is exciting and that it has been his dream. Thus, when Ichiya first saw Mio on TV, she felt that she too fell under that category and wants to capture that beauty on film. Now after hearing all those sweet words, I think any girl would definitely want to become a handsome woman. The next few scenes show Aya doing a wonderful acting job.
 
As the filming reaches its end, Mio meets up with Aya and the latter seems gloomy. Aya says how the love is gone and that she’d somehow forget. What is she talking about? We learn that Aya and Ichiya once dated each other and Aya’s first kiss was from him. Mio looked so shocked. Is she feeling guilty that she stole the love of her best friend? They broke up when he left to study abroad. Though Aya wanted him to say to wait for him in 3 or so years, he left without saying a word. That’s why Aya in a way feels envy for Mio because she’s always with him.
 
At Ichiya’s place, Mio was passing by when she overhears a conversation between Ichiya and one of his buddies, Osamu. Osamu is telling Ichiya to take note of Mio’s feelings for him. It’s so obvious that everyone can see it that everytime Mio sees him, there is that love in her eyes. However, Ichiya says that he loves her as an actress and not as Mio as a girl herself. This shocking news sends Mio running out and Osamu may have noticed too late that she was eavesdropping on their conversation. Though Ichiya didn’t go after her, but the look on his face indicates that he may have regretted what he said. As Mio is running away in tears, she laments the fact that Ichiya sees her as a tool for his movie making purposes. This affected her acting as her mind becomes disturbed by it.
 
Meanwhile one the filming crew is in Okita’s office and he is receiving the bad news that the company is pulling the plug on their movie, even if there is just 1 scene left. Though it isn’t Okita’s decision, but the president of the company, which is his dad, who like a typical businessman, thinks that making movies is a bad investment. When he comes back and relates it to Ichiya and the rest, Ichiya is determined to film the last scene and finish the movie, even if it means mortgaging his apartment to fund it. Yeah, he’s put his life, heart and soul in it and at the same time cast aside his school, family and friends. He can’t back out now. Not when he’s so close.
 
The final film scene is a car chase scene in which Ichiya will be playing the role of a stunt actor riding a motorbike as well. Though Mio isn’t part of the scene, she comes by to watch and support him. Yeah, she’s afraid for him. You know what that means. I think Ichiya gets what she is trying to say. The shooting begins and everything goes well as planned in perfect timing, the car crash and all. Then as Ichiya approaches the bend, he finds that the brakes aren’t working. The crew wonders what is wrong because he’s supposed to be slowing down by now. I don’t know if he has any experience in racing in MotoGP races because he tries to corner like one at that high speed. Of course he crashes through the barrier (that same scene in the beginning). Everyone is horrified because the bike burst into flames as soon as it crashes (wow! A really huge flame!). In addition, Ichiya did not response through his mini microphone. Mio is devastated and almost collapses but then they heard Ichiya’s voice and are relieved to know that he is still alive and goes to help him.
 
Ichiya is recuperating in hospital and is relating his near-death experience to Osamu. He also tells him why he turned his back on his true feelings for Mio because he wanted to make a good movie without making any compromises. Thus he has to put everything aside for it. I mean, it would be bad if their love got into the movie’s way, right? Osamu says that he’s an idiot and doesn’t want him to just tell him but Mio as well. If he doesn’t, Osamu will promise to make his life miserable. Speaking of which, Mio then comes in to visit. Ichiya wobbly gets up from his bed to hug Mio. Outside as the duo chat, Mio wonders if he’ll use her if he ever makes a second movie. The answer is a definite yes because Ichiya won’t allow anyone to use her as she is his personal heroine… for life. You can take that as a compliment or insult. But for Mio I think she takes the former and is glad to be with Ichiya.
 
For a very short one-off story, I guess it’s pretty much okay. I mean at that era, the setting and story are kind of like that. Your typical girl-meets-boy, falls in love, a little tension and suspense, everything works out in the end, and they live happily ever after. Unless you dig this kind of short love stories, I guess that there are better ones out there. Besides, the focus is mainly on Ichiya and Mio. I felt that the rest of the characters weren’t so prominent nor do they have any impact on the show. Especially Aya’s character. After she tells Mio that she and Ichiya was a couple, her role ended just there.
 
As mentioned that the drawing is old school type, but If the drawing of the characters reminds you of another old series, namely Marmalade Boy, that’s because that series and this one are done by the mangaka, Wataru Yoshizumi. Speaking of which, the Marmalade Boy series comes after this one and I read from Wikipedia that some of the characters in Handsome Na Kanojo do make a short cameo appearance there. The opening and ending theme are actually the same song entitled Maigo Ni Sasenaide by Erika Haneda and sounds like a typical pop song from that era.
 
So will Mio turn into the handsome woman Ichiya hopes for her to be? And will their love for each other grow stronger? You’ll have to read the 9 volume manga if you want to find out more. Me, I’m just stopping here. Besides the term handsome woman in this world, I’m sure we have also a lot of cross-gender terms like pretty boy (yeah, that song by M2M comes to mind too), metrosexual and ubersexual. It’s such a topsy-turvy world after all. But remember it’s not the appearance that counts, it’s what inside and the heart that does.
 

Handsome Na Kanojo