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.


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