Natsu No Arashi

January 24, 2010

Time paradoxes. You know, if you think really hard, it could get real confusing. Just like those Terminator movies. If you have seen them, you’ll know what I mean. However, even though Natsu No Arashi also deals with this, I find it quite fun and engaging to be precise. Even if you stop and think about it, all the events that has happened to make sense and are related to one another.
 
Our main protagonist is a 13 year old boy, Hajime Yasaka, who fell in love with an older girl, Sayoko Arashima or more fondly known as Arashi. They both work as a waiter and waitress at a bar cafe called Hakobune (literally means Ark). Another thing special about the duo’s relationship is that whenever Hajime comes into contact with Arashi, they are able to time warp to a different era. How cool is that? But remember, just like the classic anime, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, you have to be careful of what you do as it may bear unwanted consequences. And yes, the same person cannot be seen together at the same place at the same time or else. You can tell when your other self is nearby as your body parts start to go transparent like a ghost. Scary!
 
Episode 1 starts off randomly to get viewers into the fun of time travelling. Arashi wakes Hajime up to go to work. Hajime has also created some strawberry bomb in which his unfortunate grandpa got that explosive taste. Yeah, explodes in your mouth, not in your hands. When they arrive at the Ark, we are introduced to the other casts. The other workers include the white haired half-German Kaya Bergmann, the is-this-a-guy-or-a-girl Jun Kamigano, freckled face Kanako Yamazaki, Yayoi Fushimi and the sarcastic couldn’t-care-less-unless-it’s-for-money bar master Sayaka. Then everyone heard a yell that Ken Takakura is here. I don’t know who that guy is but it was enough to make everyone go out and have a look. Except Hajime and Arashi as they went to the back and get their clothes changed. While doing so, they heard Kaya’s scream and Arashi thinks she has seen that guy. Later a burly guy in sunglasses known as Shades comes into the Ark. Hajime doesn’t like him so he decides to test his strawberry bomb on him but realizes he has only 1 left now. He remembers he has 2 this morning so he requests Arashi to jump back in time to get 1. Arashi tip toe past a sleeping Hajime that morning and notes how he has 3 strawberries instead and took 1 (that’s why there were only 2). Back in normal time, Hajime realizes his strawberry is missing. That’s because Sayaka has served it up as a mixed fruit to Shades. Yup, he’s got a taste of it.
 
The other reason why Hajime wanted to save his strawberry bomb was to use it on a regular customer, Yamashiro. This nice guy seems to be hitting on Arashi and you know what that means to Hajime. However Hajime is puzzled to see that there is 1 strawberry cake instead of 2 this morning. Thinking the other one was eaten by Shades, he is confident this is the other bomb. He serves it to Yamashiro and is anticipating the final blow but nothing happens. He wonders if he has made a mistake. Then Sayaka calls Hajime and tells him she knows what he did to Shades and hinted that sweet tooth Kaya may have taken the other cake for her snack later. Kaya heard this and jumps the gun that somebody has eaten her cake. She goes all out to find the culprit. This means jumping back in time. Yup, she too can do this but she has to come into contact with Jun. Hajime panics as this would lead Kaya to find the maker of the bomb which is him. Hajime and Arashi also jump back in time. They find there is still 1 cake so they go back further in time, the time Hajime and Arashi just came in for work. Kaya then tells Jun to distract everyone so Jun yells out Ken Takakura. With everyone else out, Kaya takes desperate measures as she uses her ethereal energy to go through the walls. Arashi, Hajime and Jun can’t go anywhere because their other self is nearby (Hajime and Arashi were at the back changing then). To Kaya’s happiness, she spot 2 cakes and in her relief takes a bite. However the one she took was the strawberry bomb as it explodes. Remember the scream Arashi and Hajime heard back then? Yeah, mystery solved. Now we know why there was only 1 cake in the first place. See how fun this is?
 
Episode 2 goes back in time and properly starts the chronological order of the series. Hajime has just arrived in town and thinks he’s got the wrong address when he enters the Ark. Because he fell in love at first sight on Arashi’s beauty, he decides to stay. He also makes quick friends with Jun. Shades then comes in looking for Arashi. He is here to take her back (she ran away from her family) but Hajime isn’t going to let his love go like that as he kicks Shades. He too fights back but before he could hit Hajime with his wooden sword, Arashi hits it away. Shades backs off for now and leaves. When Arashi thanks him for saving her, that is when she realized that they both could connect. She gets excited she brings him along back in time. Arashi tells him straight that she’s a ghost and that she is possessing him. It’s normal for a kid to be shocked by the sudden events. But I guess she’s pretty so he wouldn’t mind her living with him. When they come back in real time, Hajime begs Sayaka to work here but she isn’t interested. He even goes all out to bet his clothes but lost miserably! Then Shades come back but only Jun is in the Ark. He tells Jun that Sayaka is a con artist and that she’s waiting for the perfect time to sell the Ark at a high price.
 
Arashi talks to Hajime about why she loves this place because it hadn’t changed for 60 years and that an important treasure is hidden there. Money-face Sayaka just happened to pass by and heard this so she tries to be all friendly with Arashi (a moment ago she was telling her it was the best time to disappear. Double face!). Shades is also there so Sayaka suggests an exchange for the treasure and Arashi’s freedom from Shades. Arashi agrees. Initially Shades disagrees but Sayaka’s smooth threatening talk has him into it. It will be a bike race and the first one to reach the Ark wins. Shades is thinking all the tricks Sayaka would pull as he makes a head start zooming past her. Suddenly he is stopped by a policeman for speeding. That’s when he realized it was all part of Sayaka’s plan as she had called the police earlier on. Sayaka and the rest slowly zoom past him. Back at the Ark, Sayaka is disheartened to find the treasure an old box filled with old tops. Well, it was a treasure between Arashi and her long time acquaintance when she was alive.
 
In episode 3, while Hajime ponders about Arashi being a ghost, he finally lands a job at the Ark. Then a group of customers are looking for a girl with long black hair to be an actress in their independent film. Though Arashi is thrilled but she declines as she has other plans. Jun cautious Hajime about Arashi. After work, Hajime takes Arashi to the arcade and play that doll-crane game. They’re treating it like some military rescue mission. Their dramatic acting is sure a crowd puller. Arashi manages to get a doll which she gives to Hajime as a present. Meanwhile Shades has come up with a pretty long intro line when someone calls his private detective office. He gets annoyed every time that person seems to be asking the difference between some noodles. Shouldn’t have made his lines that long. Later Arashi takes Hajime back in time again. This time back to 1945 in the middle of World War II. Arashi meets a guy Murata and his son Sankichi on their way fishing so she politely advises them not to go as they will die in a bombing raid. Who in their right mind would believe her? Seeing that he isn’t going to listen, Arashi takes his fishing pole and runs for it. Later they go check on them but only the father is in the house but the son isn’t. Realizing the son wanted so much to go play at the river, Arashi rushes there. That’s when the bombing raid starts. Murata searches desperately for his son when he comes crying. He says how Arashi has saved him. But rather than being grateful, Murata questions how she knows the timing of the bombing and asks if she’s a spy. Hajime wanted to punch him but Arashi restrains him. They then go back to their own time and disappear right in front of the duo. When they’re outside the Ark, Arashi says that this is her secret and that she can’t travel on her own. But Hajime promises that he will help her no matter what, making her happy.
 
Hajime is happy in episode 4 that he and Arashi alone share a secret but to his dismay, Arashi gladly tells Jun about her ghost and time travelling abilities. Good thing is that Jun doesn’t believe. Later they are surprised to find Sayaka wearing a black wig because she’s interested in that movie making group. They learn that the film will be at Arashi’s old school Ookurayama Girls High School. And there are rumours that ghosts of those who died in the war will appear during summer. Arashi, Hajime and Jun visit its library and find a photo of her and Kaya in a book. This proofs Arashi to be a ghost since she looked same now and then but Jun is still sceptical. Jun takes the photo to test its authenticity but the photo guy is sure that it’s real because he was the one who took that photo. But Jun still refuses to believe. Sayaka eagerly comes to the site of the shoot hoping to get a movie part but the guys let her stay on in fear that Arashi may leave. As they continue to shoot their war themed movie, everyone can’t help stare how beautiful Arashi is. That was when Jun started to believe who Arashi is. However the film results are no good as there are lots of interference (because she was a ghost?). Back at the Ark, Hajime thinks of helping her find her friend in the photo Kaya when Kaya suddenly shows up at the Ark. I don’t know how that happened either. Kaya tells of Arashi’s bad habits of losing stuff like her cherished diary she exchanged with her, though Arashi denies she left it on her school desk. To prove it, Arashi goes back in time with Hajime to take the diary on the desk. Now we know why it’s missing, eh? So the important thing written in the diary was "No matter what happens, let’s promise meet back at the Ark". Arashi even wrote a reply saying that they have met. Kaya thanks her for fulfilling her promise.
 
If you are still scratching your head if Jun is a boy or girl, episode 5 answers it. Jun is a girl cross-dressing as a guy. Period. However dense Hajime still believes Jun is a he even if he saw her close to naked. An insult or what? When Jun is about to open a cabinet, she spots a cockroach and panics. Rash Hajime comes by to quell the ‘threat’ by shooting the cockroach with detergent but the clumsiness has Jun ended up getting wet. After done bathing, Jun is shocked to see herself in a woman’s clothes (she had lots on her mind so she wasn’t aware when she put it on). Sayaka mentions that she has no other male clothes. Hmm… Jun seems a little popular with the customers now. Then another same blunder (a mouse this time) causes Jun to get wet again. After another bath, Jun gets even dishearten that his clothes are now like of those you see in Japanese maid cafe. Doesn’t she look cute? Then Sayaka got this sick idea of winning it with quantity as she puts Hajime in that outfit too and then herself! Arashi and Kaya aren’t spared too. Old fashioned lady-like Kaya is very embarrassed in the outfit so she has a hard time even giving back change to a customer. It gets worse when Sayaka tells her how to do it, anime maid style according to a man’s fetish. Kaya eventually couldn’t and broke down. Jun tells Sayaka not to force her to do it. Arashi consoles Kaya and says that she may even find somebody she could connect with but Kaya says she could only connect with girls. Later Hajime and Jun are arguing if the latter could connect so Hajime forces her to see if she could connect with Arashi (who is also intrigued if she could connect with 2 guys at a time) but nothing happened. Jun is sulking outside (after punching Hajime good in the face) so Kaya consoles and thanks him. Back inside, they got a cola order from a customer. The machine is kicking up a fuss and Jun spilled candies on the floor. When the machine gushes out like mad, remember that famous YouTube video on the effects of mixing Coca Cola and Mentos? Explosive!
 
While Kaya (now working in the Ark) chides Arashi for her reckless time travelling in episode 6, Jun was doing her research and learns Kaya and Arashi from the time of World War II and that she died during a bombing but knew nothing after that. Kaya wants to find somebody to connect but Jun refuses. That is when they accidentally touch and it seems they both could connect. So when Arashi and Hajime come back from their usual time trip, they are shocked to learn from Sayaka who saw what happened between Kaya and Jun. The duo travelled back to 2nd April 1945 and Kaya wonders if Jun is a girl. They then see the then Master of the Ark. The place and area is pitched black under a blackout policy. However a military police rushes in after receiving reports of a flash of bright light in this area. He lets them off with a warning upon learning Kaya is German (Japan and Germany were allies during the war). Master treats them with hospitality and Jun can tell that Kaya obviously has a crush on him. Master offers to accompany and walk Kaya home. Jun could also guess from their talk that Master likes Kaya but both aren’t honest with their feelings. Halfway through, Kaya suggests that she goes on her own from now and so Master understands and leaves. Jun tells Kaya to tell her feelings but she says he will die in an air raid 1 month’s time. Kaya also thinks that if she told him which could save his life, she feels it is dangerous to change the past. But at the same time, she can’t stop herself from seeing him. Then suddenly the sirens start sounding and they realized that there is a bombing raid on that day. In present time, Hajime continues to fool around with Arashi when they see Jun’s project and realize the trouble they might be in.
 
Kaya then feels guilty for changing history because if they hadn’t come, Master would’ve been sleeping right back at the Ark. She decides to go find him but Jun is concern if she is killed and that she will be trapped her. However Kaya doesn’t care for that so Jun is upset she is doing this selfish thing which has got nothing to do with her. As the bombing continues, the city is engulfed in fire. Kaya finds Master trying to get into his parent’s burning house. Because of their hesitant way in showing their feelings, Jun has had it and yells back about them being cowards and that she refuses to die in this insanity. Just when Jun thought her life is over, Hajime and Arashi appear to help them escape by paving a way with their fire extinguishers. In the aftermath, Hajime teases Jun crying alone. Once Hajime and Arashi are gone, Kaya tells her how selfish she was and was she going to waste her 60 years. But Kaya thanks her because she felt better now as they both jump back to their own time. Jun realized that she couldn’t share her emotions at a time like that and how she must have felt over the past 60 years. And when she managed to deliver those words to him, that could’ve been 60 years worth of gratitude.
 
In episode 7, Hajime plays baseball with Arashi and in addition of breaking the ladle as the bat, the weathervane also breaks. Kaya who was asking Jun if she was planning to keep her gender a secret, spots this so Hajime forces Jun to fix it with him. They see a very nice overview of the town as Hajime lets out his loud confession on Arashi. Hajime wants Jun to do it, say whatever she has on her mind to feel better but she refuses. Hmm… That’s a little ironic from the previous episode, isn’t it? Inside, they discuss if there were any more ghosts like Arashi and Kaya. Hajime thinks if they go back to that period which resulted in their deaths due to the bombing, they might find out. But Kaya doesn’t like the idea of Arashi wanting to help those people back then as it may change history. Meanwhile Jun is out on her errand when she chances upon her model friends who think she should dress up more womanly. Then Kaya comes by and they are taken in by her beauty and manners. They even ask her to demonstrate a little dance in which she did. Jun’s friends are on the group date as the guys arrive. One of them put his hands on her shoulder. Kaya becomes very embarrassed and flees. Later as Jun talk to Kaya, she learns how contact between boys and girls were forbidden. Kaya still yearns to go see Master. Since she is wallowing in self pity, Jun calls her a coward and that she is not afraid of destroying history but herself. So she wants Kaya to tell him her feelings, scream it out, that’s why she’s alive. Look who’s talking. Her speech brought Kaya to tears. On a side note, I guess Shades must feel he needs to specify what kind of job he is supposed to be doing because he is seen trying to do errands for whoever his client is. Buying lingerie… Macho guy walks into lingerie story buying bra and panties… Makes you really think, eh?
 
Hajime still thinks Jun is a boy in episode 8. Even if Jun and Kaya were changing together and Hajime sees it, you wonder if he really needs another glass prescription. Sayaka sends Hajime and Jun to do errands and since Jun lacks the necessary strength as a guy, she tires out easily. On the other hand, Sayaka thinks of making Arashi and Kaya go back in time to let her past self drink the milk that has expired so as not to waste it. Hey, the present milk will still taste bad, isn’t it? But theoretically if you go back before the expiry date, it’s still drinkable, right? That’s at least how Sayaka thinks. We all know the current milk is going to stay bad anyway no matter what time friend. Hajime and Jun take a break at a shrine and share a can drink. Jun slips so Hajime catches her. After they both tumble down the stairs, they find that they switched bodies! OMG! This is much worse than believing in ghosts! The duo go back to explain how they’re in each other’s body but the rest doesn’t believe them so Arashi and Kaya does their lame imitation of Sayaka. In order not for me to be confused, I will refer to Hajime and Jun as they are and not their switched bodies. Later Hajime and Jun are having lunch. Jun doesn’t want Hajime to eat a lot because that will make her body fat. As they struggle, Arashi comes in and thinks Hajime is stealing Jun’s food. Now he has a black spot in her books. Then Hajime suddenly wants to go to the toilet. Horror! He’ll find out she’s a girl so she tries to prevent him and wants him to hold it in! Eventually Hajime manages to go to the toilet but he rushes back out because he is horrified his dick fell off!!! He even thinks he has dropped them while they switched bodies! How dense can this guy get?! "Dude your body is messed up. Your balls are gone". That’s what he actually said! Then Hajime starts getting paranoid and thinks his own balls have dropped off and tries to undress Jun to check! Sayaka passes by and misinterprets. She tells them to do it quietly. In the aftermath, Jun knocks out Hajime (the body she has is a little stronger), takes Hajime to relief himself while he is passed out. I don’t know how she did that. Don’t want to know.
 
Later on, they discuss their options. One, wait for something to happen so that they’ll turn back to normal. Two, to live as their other part. Three, to continue living as who they are regardless of their physical appearance. So I guess they’re going for option 2 because Hajime is trying hard to act like Jun. What’s with the lame catchphrase and each time ending with "I am Jun". Then Jun realizes that she and Kaya share a secret about her gender so she tries to subtly hint that she is Jun but it got so confused that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Then Sayaka wants them to go back in time because she’s still bent on that expired milk thingy. But Jun, thinking the possibility of some messed up consequence if they do so because of their switched bodies (the universe will explode?), Hajime takes the milk and makes a run for it with Jun. Sayaka isn’t going to let her few dollars worth of milk go to waste so she gave chase. They throw the milk after a distance to send Sayaka crashing. At the shrine, the duo are resting and sharing a can drink when angry Sayaka appears behind them. The commotion causes all 3 to tumble down the stairs and collide with Shades below. Thing is, now all 4 of them switched bodies! Who is who? How will they turn back? Doesn’t matter. Up to you to think how it’s going to turn out because this unfortunate mishap ends here.
 
However Sayaka is still bent on not wasting her mackerel sashimi in episode 9. Uh huh. Another go-back-in-time-before-it-expires debate. The mackerel is way past its expiry so it really stinks. Thus to play safe, she wants them to go back 6 months before the expiry date. At that point, the mackerel is still alive, you know? It is then Hajime gives his lecture on time paradox. Elsewhere, Shades is questioning his clients and if they are related to Arashi. The client isn’t please with his failure and unleash some hand projection blast as a warning. Later it seems the duo, Kanako and wheelchair-ridden Yayoi are bent on having ‘her’ powers so that they could exist forever. Hajime continues the debate about if they go back and change history, where would the history they know go to. Do they go to another existing parallel world? I don’t know. Even if they explained it with pictures and charts, I’m still blur. Basically what he is saying is that changing history by saving someone who is supposed to be dead is like reviving the dead. However his words hurt Arashi because she genuinely wanted to save them. Sayaka scolds him for being insensitive. Hajime tries to make things up as he suggests jumping back to 1985.
 
Video games were still at its infant ages back then. Ah, those big consoles. A kid shoves Arashi but when he learn who she is, he introduces himself as Hideo. He tells her how her dad was saved by a long black haired girl named Arashi during the war. They learn he is a descendent of Murata. Hideo continues that if his dad ever got the chance to meet Arashi, he would like to thank her but Hideo thinks she couldn’t be her because that girl was back when his dad was a kid. Arashi and Hajime only know too well. Once they part, Arashi hugs Hajime and says that she’s glad they came. Kanako comes to the Ark as a customer and notices Arashi’s nice hands and touches them. Arashi gets dizzy and collapses. When she comes to, the rest are by her side. Kaya explains that although they don’t get tired or use up that much energy when they time travel, their existence is unstable and if they overdo it, they may disappear. This shocks Hajime. As Hajime and Arashi walk home, Kanako appears in front of them. She then puts her hand through Arashi’s chest as a flicker of light glows from it while Arashi collapses. Hajime tries to stop her but Kanako whipped out a crossbow from beneath her skirt. OMG! How did she keep a crossbow underneath there?!
 
Hajime is willing to risk his life in episode 10. But as Kanako fires, luckily Shades deflects the arrow with his sword. He voids the contract so Kanako escapes while thinking how males are beasts for attacking a lady. Hajime brings unconscious Arashi back to his home and tells Shades that she is a ghost. Hajime soon learns that Shades’ real name is Hideo Murata and is a private detective. Hajime realized and is relieved that Arashi was not wrong because the people she saved existed even if she before she saved them. Hajime decides to go after Kanako while Sayaka, Jun and Kaya stay by Arashi’s side. Shades lead the way to a dark mansion (notice all the framed pictures of the characters in this series on the wall) and once inside, they split up. Because it is so dark (why couldn’t Shades just take off his sunglasses?), Kanako easily ambushes him but his fast reflex saves him. Kanako’s eyes are glowing red like Terminator! Though he manages to overpower her, he couldn’t continue as he thinks this is amount to bullying. But Kanako takes this chance to knock him out with a stun gun. Hajime enters Yayoi’s room and she is frightened with anyone other than Kanako. Hajime thinks Kanako may have blackmailed her into doing what she wants and he thinks of kidnapping her back to Arashi. However Yayoi says Kanako isn’t a mean person. A flashback sees how Kanako never liked those girls including Yayoi back during the war (girls were also drafted to do industrialized work to help with the war). She even chided Yayoi for trying to keep a good girl image. But Yayoi invited her to her piano recital so Kanako thinks she is insulting her and left. But for some reason, Kanako did attend her recital and they got close to each other like best friends. Kanako comes in and Yayoi tries to persuade her that there should be another better way. But Kanako reasons that Arashi would be glad to sacrifice her life to save others. She continues that Yayoi has been scarred by the war that she is too afraid to even walk. Kanako is going to kill Hajime when the latter trips. He falls onto Yayoi and it seems they both connect and vanished, leaving Kanako horrified.
 
Yayoi is in a state of shock when she learns that they have jumped back to 10th March 1945. Hajime thinks of finding Arashi of this time in hopes of working things out while hoping not to get caught by the military police. In town, Yayoi tries to warn the people of the bombings but the politely shrug her off. Who would believe her, right? Hajime wonders what she is so frightened off. Later at the hilltop, Yayoi tells him about her life then, how she loved summer and how she and Kanako got along well until she started to partially fade so Kanako vowed to find a way from keep them from fading. But Yayoi thinks it’s a sign from God that they’ve lived long enough. Then the Kanako of this era shows up and she chides Yayoi for being carefree. A jet fighter suddenly appears and starts attacking them. While Hajime pushes Yayoi out of harm’s way, Kanako is slightly injured and lies in the open. The plane makes another attack. Desperate Yayoi suddenly found the strength to walk and rush to cover Kanako. After the plane left, Kanako limps away as Hajime and Yayoi rejoice that the latter could now walk.
 
As they’re walking to town, the duo come across Arashi and Kaya. Arashi has a feeling that she has met him before. Then they realize today is the day of Yayoi’s recital with Arashi and Kaya’s performance so Yayoi tells Hajime to go alone since she can’t meet her other self. At the classroom, Hajime is in awe of their performance when he spots Kanako watching from the back and calls out to her once the performance ended. Slightly embarrassed Kanako goes up to Yayoi and apologizes for the mean things she had said in the past making Yayoi glad. Later Hajime returns to Yayoi and tells his experience and also understood the reason why Kanako and Yayoi were so close. Kanako came to her concert because she felt grateful for saving her life and that their friendship was something Yayoi had created. Just then future Kanako arrives and to her relief finds Yayoi alright. Looks like she connected with Shades (looking very surprised over what has happened). Kanako is further taken aback when she sees Yayoi being able to walk. She hugs her as Yayoi explains that she had done what she had to do and that there was a purpose to these bodies of theirs so she is fine. Kanako understood and they all soon prepare to jump back to their own time. One thing which bugs is me is that why was there a lone fighter jet then? How was it able to get so close undetected? Why was it only targeting Kanako and Yayoi and not some random parts in town? Did it escape unscathed? Not that it matters because what is really important is that Kanako and Yayoi has learned to accept their fates and do not hold any grudges to Hajime and the rest.
 
Everyone gathers around Arashi in episode 12. Kanako explains that she and Yayoi managed to maintain themselves by exchanging their little remaining powers. They then transfer back Arashi’s stolen life force to her. Though Arashi comes back to life and happy Hajime hugs her, but as a result Kanako and Yayoi are in danger of disappearing. They think it’s their punishment for causing hurt to them and have accepted this fate. Arashi won’t allow this so she along with Hajime, Kaya and Jun connect to keep them from disappearing. It seems when ghosts like them connect, their wavering existence comes back. In other words, their life force is replenished. Yeah, the duo would’ve got this problem solved if they hadn’t locked themselves up in their mansion. As gratitude and to atone for their sins, Sayaka suggests that they work at the Ark. Jun’s model friend, Youko, comes to visit and since Jun doesn’t want her identity to be exposed, Youko tells everyone she is her boyfriend. Hajime is upset because he thinks she is cheating on Kaya. Kaya and Youko too act like they’ve been cheated upon. Yayoi thinks they’re fighting so she goes up to Youko to advice her but Youko gives her own views on love which almost sends innocent Yayoi to tears. Kanako isn’t impressed so she proceeds to give Youko ‘bad service’. You know, Kanako is acting like she’s Yayoi’s mom, telling her not to turn out like this or like that.
 
Later, Arashi and Hajime are fooling around outside and splashed water on a would-be customer, Yamashiro. He claims to know her and that it has been a while since they last see each other but Arashi doesn’t remember him. Hajime must be real jealous because Arashi mentions how that guy invited out on a date and she saw no reason to turn him down. When that day arrives, Yamashiro takes Arashi out in his convertible sports car while a real jealous Hajime peddles his bicycle real hard to catch up. Till he crashes. Yamashiro brings Arashi to the beach, supposedly where he met her 10 years ago. He had something on his mind then and went swimming in the night with his clothes on. Before he knew it, the waves were too strong. He shouted for help but there was no one. The next thing he knew, he was alive on the shore and the person who saved him looked very much like Arashi. Arashi goes back to the Ark and tells the rest that Yamashiro is a good person. But Hajime is still sulking and even prepared to let go the love of his life. That’s when Arashi hugged him and tells him her conclusion. A guy whom she doesn’t know yet she saved 10 years ago could mean that she saved him during one of her time travels in the future. The reason for dating him was to find out more so she apologizes for making him worry. Hajime is back to his usual self as he says how he’d know it all along (liar!). Soon the duo jump back in time to go save Yamashiro. Later as the girls chat, Arashi notes how Hajime was the one that brought them all together as Hajime calls them all in for a celebration courtesy of Sayaka (a reason for her to get drunk). Kaya thinks a boy can grow up in a single summer.
 
Episode 13 feels like deja vu. Arashi wakes up Hajime and this time that kid has created a cherry bomb. Then at the Ark, everyone goes out when they heard someone scream "Akagi Keiichiro". Must be some famous person, eh? History repeating itself? Note how everyone are in some swimsuit or costume which changes randomly and the ladies do a pose when they speak. Later, Sayaka gathers the gang and once again wants them to go back in time for her spoilt milk. However this time she wants them to exchange with the fresh milk back then. However there are theories which would make this task impossible. Like the milk will be spoiled twice and if one were to drink the current milk in the past, the past milk in the future will cease to exist. Get it? I didn’t. So to solve this problem, Kaya throws away the milk and suggests buying a new one, much to Sayaka’s horror. Cheapskate. Soon Yamashiro patrons the Ark and starts getting friendly with Arashi so Hajime decides to use his cherry bomb on him but he didn’t order his usual set so he can’t use it. Kaya returns with newly bought fresh milk and a heap of cherries. Uh oh. Sayaka fooled a little with Hajime so this causes one of those cherries to be mixed up with Hajime’s cherry bomb. Furthermore, Arashi takes away the Hajime’s cherry for safe keeping in case he decides to use it. Then everyone has a taste of the stack of cherry. So far so good. Horrified Hajime thinks it’s like Russian roulette so he has only 3 options. Steal all the cherries, dispose all of them or let Yamashiro eat all of them. He goes for the third one but gets beaten up by Sayaka. Thus Hajime requests Arashi to time travel and replace that cherry bomb by giving self study as an excuse.
 
Elsewhere, future Kaya and Jun has jumped back in time on one of Sayaka’s milk exchanging demands. Jun yells "Kobayashi Akira" as a decoy and has everyone in the Ark come out looking for that said person. Don’t they ever learn? Who is that person anyway? And who is this ‘Might Guy’ Shades wanted to show Hajime? Just before they exchanged the milk, Jun mentions how she was sure she said "Takakura Ken" and this brings back humiliating memories of that exploding incident back in episode 1. She decides to get her revenge by creating a super spicy cherry. Then they remember some blooper but too late because everyone is coming back so they have to jump back to their own time. Kaya laments how they really can’t change history. Meanwhile Hajime and Arashi jump back in time to this morning to switch the cherry as Arashi yells "Akagi Keiichiro" as a decoy. Yup, that was her. Back in current time, Hajime disarms the cherry bomb (actually it’s the spicy one Kaya made). Sayaka makes a fruit juice using a cherry for Kaya, Jun, Kanako and Yayoi. As they drink it, they all let out a horrifying scream. It’s that exploding feeling in their mouth. Arashi and Hajime think they have seen Might Guy. Remember that blooper? Yeah, what goes around comes around.
 
Right after the series ended, there has been an announcement that there will be a second season released in fall of 2009. So for those who really love this series and can’t wait should try jumping to the future and catch a future glimpse of this show, eh? For me, even if the explanation of time paradox is explained in the easiest form accompanied with pictures, I just couldn’t fully understand them. So I just accepted what they said and continued watching with a lot of blurness. But I must say that all this time travelling and exchanging thing in this series are quite interesting. It makes you think and recall the events of what happened and try to put them in order if you want to really make sense of it all. Overall, this is quite a fun series from the quirky characters to the things they do even if the main setting is based in the Ark. I was laughing out loud especially when Hajime thinks he lost his balls. Yeah, it’s like he nearly lost his marbles. In super denial, I’d say.
 
For the drawing and art, some may not like the character designs because it makes them look simple sometimes. But some of the background and sceneries are quite beautiful. In order to show the scorching and sizzling heat of summer, the drawing and art at times are drawn to quite a bright extent. I won’t go as far as saying you need to wear sunglasses to watch this show. Because of that, sometimes the ‘heat’ gets to me and it makes me feel hot too. Hmm… I’m thinking that if they claim that the Ark is a tough structure and has withstood the test of time, I’m wondering some of those short real life action depictions of a miniature model Ark whereby it is being destroyed by flood or overflowing cola! An exaggeration perhaps? But funny lah. One thing I’d like to know is how Arashi and the rest ended up as ghosts after they died during the war. I guess we won’t know (at least for this season) since they themselves pretty much are unsure how they turned up like this.
 
I didn’t recognize Ryoko Shiraishi as she played her role as Arashi and only did so much later. Probably I was so used to her voice as Hayate in Hayate No Gotoku that I couldn’t make out it’s her. I was also surprised to learn that Yui Horie was the voice behind Kanako. No more that girly roles like Kotori in Da Capo, eh? Other casts include Yuko Sanpei as Hajime (Fuuta in Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn), Kaori Nazuka as Kaya (Nunnally in Code Geass series, Nadeshiko in Inukami), Chiaki Omigawa as Jun (Maka of Soul Eater – by the way she sounded so much like this character), Hitomi Nabatame as Sayaka (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Hiroki Masumoto as Shades (Chad in Bleach) and Ai Nanoka as Yayoi (Fuura in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series). The opening theme, Atashi Ni Dake Kakete by Omokage Lucky Hole sounds like a song for a James Bond movie. Even the opening credits animation has that feel. Sexy and curvy female silhouettes… The main ending theme is Kirari Futari by Ryoko Shiraishi and sounds like a mix of oldies rock ‘n’ roll and pop.
 
Being a series produced by Shaft, expect to spot lots of trivia. Notice the different designs of the weathervane each time? But unlike in Pani Poni Dash or Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, there aren’t any words to clutter the entire screen. Though the trademark random illustrations from various people are still there right after the episode ends. And because this series was written by Jin Kobayashi, you will notice some of the characters from his popular and recently ended manga, School Rumble, making a cameo appearance as guests of the Ark. What on Earth are Harima and Tenma doing there? Drowning their sorrows? Just kidding. Notice Tenma and Eri on the milk carton? Notice the characters dress in School Rumble uniform? This is sure a tribute to that series. If you pay attention to the customers of the Ark, some of them are from other anime series making their brief cameo appearance like Hidmari Sketch and Maria+Holic. But viewers will definitely notice an Ark customer who is always requesting for the salt to be passed only to be ignored till the very end in almost every episode. Talk about bad service, eh? Maybe he should write in a letter or stop eating here. And then there’s that army guy sitting a few tables away sometimes giving out some military-like advice.
 
In each episode, there is a theatre-like film from Kanako and Yayoi. It is mainly about Yayoi telling Kanako the plot of a book which she has forgotten the title of. It always end with Yayoi trying to impersonate a quote or line that particular story’s character always says but before she could complete her sentence, she’s being cut off. This segment is being replaced later by Kaya, Jun, Sayaka and unconscious Arashi. But this time it always ends with Arashi experiencing a violent spasm like it was like some sort of bad joke. Then the final episode is one with that salt guy and army guy. Need to have more screen time for them, huh? So how many famous animes could I spot from it? Let’s see, Rurouni Kenshin, Zetsubou Sayonara Sensei, erm… That’s about it. How pathetic. Oh yeah. There’s one on this Natsu No Arashi series as well. I’m not sure about the next episode preview because it shows a comic strip about a mangaka and an octopus robot alien doing their own manga. Not that I understand what’s going on but you can see this strip being played in the opening credits too, just without the words. Hey, doesn’t that ramen delivery girl look so much like Yakumo of School Rumble? And as for the next episode narration, it is hardly anything about the next episode as it is about what they do and think when summer comes to mind. It ends with the advice to wake up early and happy tomorrow. I think everyone should, regardless of the season.
 
Sure, time travelling and thoughts of changing history can only happen in the movies and science fiction stories. But think of how messed up our lives would be even if we were to use it for our convenience. The implications which will lead to the ever destruction of the way of life as we know now. But rather than thinking about those kinds of stuffs, it’s better to live your life a step at a time, move forward and never look back. Hey, I just remember there are some animes which I want to watch but they are hard to find because they are out of print! Need to find Arashi to connect and go back in time… Also maybe to the future to see what future animes will be released… Ah, I remember I need to wake up early and happy tommorow. That will be better. It’s always summer down here in Malaysia.
 

Natsu No Arashi

Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn

January 23, 2010

Ciaossu. This is another long running series which I am currently watching. I never expected Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn to last beyond 26 episodes and couldn’t even think of it lasting 3 digits worth of episodes. And as usual because I have been watching this series on a weekly basis ever since its inception back in late 2006, I’ve decided to blog this down before my memory fails me. Oops. It already has started. Surprisingly this series has a following of its own so if you’d like more information, there is Wikipedia and other fansites dedicated to this series.
 
Basically our main hero of the story doesn’t have the qualities of what many heroes possess at the start of the series. Meet, Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada. He is such a useless and good in nothing in almost everything he does, that he has been dubbed "Dame Tsuna" (Useless Tsuna). Yup, a loser. But even losers are normal human beings because he holds a crush on his classmate, the gentle and nice Kyoko Sasagawa. And since he hasn’t got the guts to confess, yeah well, still a loser. But if you think that this is the lowest point in his normal life, then think again because it takes another drastic turn. You see, for some reason which I think must be due to that family tree tracing thing, Tsuna is the only heir left to the powerful mafia in Italy, the Vongola. The rest and of the potential candidates I can say they died. Therefore the 9th and current head of Vongola, Timoteo, sends a trained mafia hitman, Reborn, to whip and shape up Tsuna into the 10th and next successor of Vongola. Seems pretty simple, huh? So in this mafia themed series, you’ll get to hear some Italian words and terms. Not that my Italian has become fluent anyway. But it’s better being a yakuza, right? Maybe not either.
 
Now, viewers will have their eyebrows raised when they first see Reborn. Why? Because he’s a little talking baby! Erm… His head is a little bigger than it’s supposed to be and what’s with that yellow pacifier he always carries around. However, Reborn is no pushover as he is the top and deadliest mafia hitman the world has to know. Yeah, the best is a baby. Don’t think so much. Plus, Reborn is part of the Arcobaleno, the strongest 7 babies in the world. Yeah, don’t think so much. No matter how much Tsuna does not want to be the next mafia head, he gets dragged into whatever weird training schemes (more like torture) Reborn has to offer. Like they say. No pain, no gain. And don’t worry. His kind and blur mama, Nana, won’t realize it all simply because… she’s blur. But that’s the nice part about her.
 
A unique feature for this series is Reborn’s ability to fire Dying Will bullets via his shape-shifting chameleon Leon. From what I understand, when he fires one of those bullets into a person’s forehead, it doesn’t kill him/her instead but rather that person who feels a great regret before his/her death (you know, if you don’t accomplish something before you die, you’ll have that regret feeling), that regret is turned and amplified into a stronger will thus that person being reborn as he/she will go all out with superhuman abilities to accomplish that uncompleted feat. Though it lasts for a few seconds only and during that few moments, a flame will appear over that person’s forehead. And since Tsuna is such a useless chap, Reborn has to use this Dying Will bullet many times in order to get Tsuna started. The funny part is that Tsuna’s clothes will be ripped as he goes about jumping around hyped up close to naked in his boxer shorts. Just like the Incredible Hulk. Only thing is that he doesn’t turn big or green.
 
But no matter how much Tsuna whines and complains, you can’t help cheer him on as he grows into a respectable character. Albeit that will take some time considering the number of episodes :). Being a long series, you’ll get to see how Tsuna gathers his ‘family’ whether he wants it or not. Yeah, it’s like some sort of friendship bond thingy and you know, mafias do place importance on their family ties. As they grow together, they’ll meet formidable foes, fight them and power up in the process. Ah, a typical recipe for a shonen genre with a mix of action, comedy and drama. Besides it’s not that Tsuna alone is going to learn the meaning of friendship, loyalty, tolerance and all those good values. Viewers could take a hint from this good side of his. Not his whinny self, okay.
 
Family Assembling Arc
This arc serves to introduce the would-be and weird ‘family’ members to Tsuna’s Vongola family. Most of them have their reserves on Tsuna initially but after Tsuna did some noble thing like saving them and such, did their perception on him change and they continue to stick around him. In short, besides Kyoko, they include the ever loyal but hot headed dynamite user Hayato Gokudera who proclaims himself to be the 10th’s right hand man, the baseball freak Takeshi Yamamoto who seems to have a little carefree personality because he thinks they’re having fun, Kyoko’s older energetic brother and boxing maniac Ryohei Sasagawa (his favourite catchphrase is "Extreme!"), an eccentric girl who likes to dress up in weird costumes and sometimes uses some English words in her sentences Haru Miura (though she is from a different school, I can’t help wonder why she doesn’t transfer to Tsuna’s school seeing that she likes him after that), Gokudera’s half-sister Bianchi who is in love with Reborn (don’t ever taste her poison cooking. It kills!), an annoying naughty little kid dressed in a cow suit Lambo (supposedly from the Bovino family out to assassinate Reborn but his emotionally immaturity has him accomplished nothing. Oh yes, his hair is like Doraemon’s pocket, able to keep just about anything), the cold leader of Namimori High School Disciplinary Committee Kyouya Hibari (even if he hates crowding and does not want to be associate with Tsuna and the rest, you can’t help but love him. And yes, he loves his school so much. Believe it! Also, don’t bother him or he’ll bite you to death!), a weird looking Chinese girl because of her oversized Humpty Dumpty-like head and the same age as Lambo, I-pin (she is near-sighted and explodes when becomes shy), the perverted Dr Shamal (claims to cure only woman), the boss of the Chiavorone family which is close to the Vongola, Dino (Reborn’s former student and has a turtle Enzo which serves like Reborn’s Leon), Giannini (some technological expert but his inventions go haywire) and Hana Kurokawa (Kyoko’s best friend who hates kids).
 
Sure there are more to come but these are the initial ones first. You’ll get to learn their weird characteristics and relationship among each other such as Gokudera becomes paralyzed whenever he sees Bianchi because he was so traumatized by her poison cooking during young that it becomes a reflex action whenever he just sees her. So just to be safe, Bianchi has to wear a mask or simply put on goggles so Gokudera won’t get that butterfly feeling in his stomach. Also, Dino may be a skilled fighter with his whip but he loses his motor skills when his subordinates are not in sight. Yeah, he goes haywire and all klutzy. WTF?! Since I-pin has a crush on Hibari, she’ll go into that time bomb mode and for unknown reasons, she’ll always cling on to Tsuna. Poor chap. Lambo has a 10 year bazooka kept in his messy hair so when one gets caught in this bazooka, he/she will transfer place with his/her own self 10 years from the future albeit it lasts for a few minutes before the returning to their rightful place. Thus Lambo uses this whenever he throws a tantrum and herald grown up Lambo dubbed Otona Lambo which is much cooler self. However, since he looks like Bianchi’s ex-boyfriend Romeo, he has to be on the run. Worse still, Hana likes him but seems to lose him. I-pin too also has her share when she gets hit by the bazooka. Otona I-pin is some ramen delivery girl always seen trying to delivery her ramen to some uncle named Kawahira. So as we get to learn their personality, we also see them and Tsuna in filler episodes dubbed Daily Life Arcs as they go about in their bonding (and partly as training for Tsuna) like a New Year competition between the Vongola and Chiavorone family, a visit to the zoo (I love the part where Ryohei lost to a fight with a bear – playing video games! WTF?!), getting lost in the mountains, a competition to see how can make Lambo smile, Tsuna having to babysit Lambo and I-pin, Tsuna stricken with an embarrassing Skull Disease which tells of his embarrassing moments, and the ladies making (poisoned) Valentine chocolates.
 
Kokuyou Gang Arc
Trouble starts for Tsuna and gang when they bump into a little kid named Fuuta. This little kid is highly targeted by the mafia because of 100% accurate rankings. Yup, this kid can rank which are the best in whatever topics. Wow. I wonder where I rank in terms of anime otakuness. Probably at the bottom. Anyway, also several Namimori students have been attacked and injured (including Ryohei) by an unknown group which is later to be revealed as Kokuyou Gang. Hibari deals with the leader of the group, Mukuro Rokudo who has escaped from prison with other criminals and has a grudge against the mafia. But since Hibari was weakened by Shamal’s mosquito bite, he lost. As the other members of Kokuyou Gang step up their attacks, the Vongola kids go into action with Gokudera taking on bespectacled yo-yo master Chikusa Kakimoto and Yamamoto against beast transforming master Ken Joshima. Bianchi takes on flutist MM and defeats her with her poison cooking while some Freddy Krueger like twins called Bloody Twins (what a name) are threatening to kill unsuspecting Kyoko and Haru under the command of an old guy with an annoying laughter, Birds. I can’t believe those girls don’t feel a thing as those Bloody Twins are incessantly twitching their blades right behind them! They’re saved just in time by Otona Lambo and Otona I-pin. With that threat out of the way, Birds is defeated.
 
Then Tsuna comes face to face with Mukuro but he is Lancia and is a stand in for Mukuro. Though he is too strong for Tsuna, he manages to defeat him. Then it is round 2 for Gokudera and Yamamoto against Chikusa and Ken but the former lost. Hibari’s defeat has not gone down well with him so has another rematch with Mukuro after defeating Ken and Chikusa. By that time, Bianchi is under Mukuro’s spell as he is an illusionist (depending on the Chinese numerals on his right eye, they transform and give him certain strength). Tsuna is up against him but isn’t willing to hurt his friends. That is when Leon spits him a pair of mittens and a Rebuke bullet. This enables Tsuna to power up and go into Hyper Dying Will mode which allows him to fight calmly and the bullet enabling him to hear the thoughts of others. When Tsuna defeats Mukuro, he and his gang are taken in by the Vendicare, a mysterious group of mafia law protectors, to be imprisoned. Should have done that in the first place. With that over, the gang celebrates at Yamamoto’ dad’s sushi shop. And yeah, a few more Daily Life Arc fillers which include the gang finding a dead burglar in Tsuna’s room and trying to get rid of him (in the end it was just a setup – the burglar is part of the Vongola from Italy), Lambo and Otona Lambo switched bodies and causes chaos throughout the city, Tsuna and co take a vacation on a luxury cruise to Mafia island to meet an Arcobaleno ally Colonello and also encounter a threat from another Arcobaleno Skull, a competition to see whose method gets to make Tsuna swim but it goes awry and in the end the gang have to work to pay off their debts like working as lifeguards and summer festival stalls. With Fuuta ‘joining’ Tsuna’s family, Hibari has tamed Bird’s little yellow bird as his pet, Hibird. Proof? He teaches it to sing Namimori’s school song. He really does love his school.
 
Varia Ring Conflict Arc
The Varia is an independent assassin squad of the Vongola. Led by Xanxus, they arrive in Japan to find Tsuna and co because they do not approve of him being the next Vongola successor. Tsuna’s ‘missing’ dad, Iemitsu (part of Vongola’s External Advisory of the Vongola), returns to hand Tsuna and some of his ‘family’ half Vongola rings. The other half are held by Xanxus and his Varia. These Vongola rings are named after phenomena that colour the sky and are essential to those members who are to lead to the family. For instance, since Tsuna is to be the boss, he gets the Sky Ring while the other Vongola ring holders dubbed Guardians such as Storm Ring to Gokudera, Rain Ring to Yamamoto, Sun Ring to Ryohei, Lightning Ring to Lambo and yes, Cloud Ring to Hibari. Initially Tsuna and co lost to Varia’s ambush and their difference in strength is obvious. Tsuna doesn’t want to get involve because he doesn’t want to be the next mafia boss but I guess he has no choice. The battle for Vongola’s next successor of the rings will be in 10 days time. And during that time, they have to undergo vigorous training. Like Ryohei’s master will be Colonello, Gokudera taking lessons from Shamal, Yamamoto learning to sharpen his sword skills from his dad and Tsuna getting his usual from Reborn and Iemitsu’s subordinate Basil. At least with this lesson, Tsuna doesn’t need to rely on Reborn’s bullet and can go into Dying Will mode when necessary. Hibari wasn’t interested in all that and even prepares to throw away the ring so Dino has a hard time trying to convince him. Yeah, it’s going to be a tough lesson for the ‘tutor’ too with Hibari going to bite him to death relentlessly. The battles are to take place at Namimori, a match per night and holders of the same ring are to face each other. The match will be judged by a pair of same looking masked women dubbed Cervello. So it’s like the boys go to fight while the girls and kids stay home. Uh huh. They gave some reason for their midnight rendezvous for a sumo match. Yeah, they believed it. Makes it easier that way.
 
Battle 1: Sun Ring: Ryohei vs Lussuria
Literally it looked like some boxing match. Ryohei is blinded by the bright lights while gay Lussuria has his shades on (he always has them on). Plus, Lussuria has got a very hard metal knee pad which Ryohei has a hard time penetrating. Eventually Ryohei wins after destroying those bright lights with his crystallized sweat and by unleashing his Extreme Sun Maximum Cannon. Vongola leads 1-0.
 
Battle 2: Lighting Ring: Lambo vs Levi A. Than
Would a little kid understand the implications of being in a match filled with dangerous lightning rods? Obviously not. Thankfully all those torment has cry-baby Lambo using his 10 year bazooka to summon Otona Lambo. If that is not enough, Otona Lambo uses the same bazooka and his 20 year old mature self replaces him. Otona Lambo is on the way to victory but he changes back to little Lambo. This allows Levi to counter attack. Because Lambo’s life is in danger, Tsuna interferes and stops the match. Though Lambo’s life is saved, as a penalty Lambo and Tsuna lose both their rings. Varia leads 2-1.
 
Battle 3: Storm Ring: Gokudera vs Belphegor AKA Bel
Gokudera arrives in time for his match against the knife and wire Prince Ripper. If there are no winners by the end of the time limit, the whole place will explode and endangering both their lives. Gokudera struggles with Bel for the ring even if it costs him his life but after Tsuna tells him it would be meaningless without him, Gokudera gives up and lets Bel win. Varia continues to lead 3-1.
 
Battle 4: Rain Ring: Yamamoto vs Squalo
Dubbed the grudge match between the swordsmen. Squalo who has defeated many skilled swordsmen in the past knows all of Yamamoto’s Shigure Souen style as used by his descendants. However Yamamoto has formed his own moved via the 8th form and defeats Squalo with his Duplicate Rain technique. Squalo admits his lost and is devoured by a shark at the end of the match. Vongola makes a comeback 2-3.
 
Battle 5: Mist Ring: Chrome Dokuro vs Mammon
So who is the Mist Ring holder? Who is this Chrome girl? Originally named Nagi, she is Mukuro’s vessel to the outside world. That means, Mukuro is also part of Tsuna’s Guardians, eh? Chrome was an accident victim and lost many organs so she is kept alive by illusionary organs. Because Tsuna stood up for her, she kisses him! If Haru ever finds that out… The illusion battle begins as we find Mammon an Arcobaleno was formerly known as Viper. Chrome loses to Mammon’s illusion but the game isn’t over yet as this summons Mukuro out. Like a tag match, eh? Mukuro shows his powerful illusions and beats Mammon (barely escaped with his life). Mukuro reverts back to Chrome and the score is tied 3-3.
 
Battle 6: Cloud Ring: Hibari vs Gola Mosca
This is the fastest battle ever yet. Hardly lasting 10 seconds and shocking everyone! Hibari destroys that robot under that time and when Xanxus goes to retrieve it, Hibari stops him. This makes Mosca go on a rampage and Xanxus sees this as a challenge. However this is all a setup and that Xanxus has used Hibari as part of his plan to initiate a coup. To everyone’s surprise, Timoteo is inside Mosca’s body! It’s using him as its power supply. Soon Timoteo is rushed to hospital but the final battle is about to begin soon.
 
Battle 7: Sky Ring: Tsuna vs Xanxus
This match will settle it all, which means all those earlier matches are for nought. The other Guardians who are alive are also involved put are being poisoned. The antidote is in the ring itself and they could die if it is prolonged. So it’s Tsuna’s gloves vs Xanxus’ pistols. An awesome power battle (I guess their Dying Will also makes them able to fly) as gradually the other Guardians are being released by their poison and help one another. We see Tsuna powering up to a new freezing ability called Dying Will Zero Point Breakthrough but Xanxus manages to break through the ice with the flames of his Dying Will. Then to everyone’s surprise, Squalo is still alive as he is being brought to watch the final match. Though Xanxus has all the 7 rings in his hands, however it rejects him. Why? Flashback as he isn’t the real son of Timoteo. Then some crib incident many years ago which left him frozen and once he was freed, he’s like back with a vengeance. Bla bla bla. An elite group of Varia arrives but are defeated by Lancia who is indebted to Tsuna. In the end, Tsuna wins the Sky Ring match to give Vongola an overall victory so everyone goes to celebrate back at Yamamoto’s sushi shop.
 
And the usual Daily Life Arc after a long story which includes Reborn becoming Tsuna’s teacher for a day, Nana’s purse getting stolen so Tsuna and co try to retrieve it, Tsuna and co playing a test of courage at a graveyard only for them to encounter the ghost of Romeo, the gang taking on a group of dojo challengers, a wedding between Bianchi and Reborn which soon turned into one for Nana and Iemitsu (it was funny to see Bianchi threatening to go crazy every time she suspects Reborn goes ‘missing’), Tsuna and co need to find a time capsule in order not to be expelled from school and Reborn holding a party and competition to see who can impress Nana. I remember Tsuna was looking a little cool after the fight and because of that expression he put up, Kyoko was blushing a little. Looking a little like a winner, eh? Not yet. He’s got a long way to go. She also gave Tsuna and the rest lucky charms in which Tsuna treasures very much.
 
Future Arc
Another long arc begins with Tsuna and Reborn being blasted nearly 10 years into the future via Lambo’s bazooka. Strange things began to happen as they don’t switch back to their normal era and that Tsuna’s future year self is in a coffin! OMG! He’s dead in the future! He learns that the Millefiore family led by the villainous Byakuran is bent on destroying the entire Vongola family and anyone related to it, innocent or not (like Yamamoto’s dad who died in the attack). Yeah, destroy the whole world while you’re at it. Slowly one by one, Tsuna’s ‘family’ are blasted into the future including Kyoko and Haru. I just wish Otona Lambo and Otona I-pin didn’t switched places with their younger selves. Not everyone will be blasted to the future yet. Giannini, Bianchi and a taller Fuuta will be from this era. They also have a failed Arcobaleno, Lal Mirch, as their ally. However, due to some deadly rays, all other Arcobalenos are dead in this era while Iemitsu and Nana are missing. Tsuna also has to learn to make use of Box Weapons by using his Dying Will Flame via his Vongola Rings. Thankfully Vongola has an underground base as they operate away from Millefiore’s eyes. They also learn that they need to defeat one of the higher ups in the Millefiore, Shouichi Irie (one of those kids who got frighten by the weirdness of the Vongola family back in the previous Daily Life arc) as he holds the clue to return to the past. The Cervello are also seen to be working on his side.
 
So the kids went out for a while to search for Kyoko and Hibird. Tsuna and Lal finds Kyoko safely in the house of grown up Hana while Gokudera and Yamamoto encounter a captain of one of the divisions of Black Spell, Ganma (the Millefiore is made up of 2 families and are divided into White Spell under Byakuran and Black Spell under an introverted little girl Yuni). Yamamoto sits out due to Gokudera’s obnoxious attitude of taking on Ganma alone. Then of course he has to teach him a lesson about his selfish attitude so the duo combine their powers but it wasn’t enough for them to beat Ganma. Future Hibari shows up to save the duo and defeat Ganma. Oddly, Hibari and Vongola’s underground base are connected. When everyone regroups, they learn that Millefiore’s Japan’s base is located under Namimori shopping centre and that everyone has to undergo training again so that they have a chance to fight against them. Plus, Tsuna has made a promise that he will get everyone back safely and vows to protect them. Tsuna has future Hibari and later Lal as his tutor, Yamamoto under the watch of Bianchi as he tries to figure out the CAI system his future self created, and Yamamoto taking lessons from Reborn. Of course a little tension here and there because of the heavy responsibility they have to shoulder so much so Tsuna nearly took it out on poor Lambo and Haru. Later he realizes that everyone is trying their best and they reconcile. We also learn Byakuran’s quest to obtain the 7 Arcobaleno pacifiers, 7 Mare rings and 7 Vongola rings in order to obtain the ultimate power in this Trinisette policy. Note that in this era, the future Tsuna has discarded all the 7 Vongola rings so the past Vongola brings with them the precious rings which Byakuran very much needed.
 
Glo Xinia, the captain of one of the White Spell’s division arrives in Japan to search for Chrome. Yes, Chrome has been blasted to the future and is all alone. Expect a fight but Chrome won’t be all helpless as Mukuro appears in the form of an owl (he possessed this Box Weapon in an earlier fight) to send Glo reeling in defeat. Future Ryohei brings Chrome back to the base as she is being put under ICU and with all Vongola Guardians assembled, Tsuna makes a tough decision on whether to invade the Millefiore’s base in 5 days. In the meantime, Tsuna undergoes more intensive training and develops X-Burner technique by combining the use of his hard and soft flames. Yamamoto watches Squalo’s DVDs on sword fights while Gokudera has also mastered his CAI system and reluctantly has a small cat, Uri, as 1 of his Box Weapons (cat always scratching his face). Elsewhere, Byakuran defeats Mukuro who has been impersonating as one of his close aides. Though Glo has been heavily bandaged, he has given Millefiore information about Vongola’s hideout and soon they attack their base on a dawn raid. With no time, Tsuna along with Yamamoto, Gokudera, future Ryohei and Lal have no choice but to kick start their journey to infiltrate Millefiore’s base while Hibari singlehandedly beats up all those numerous White and Black Spell foot soldiers.
 
Millefiore Base Infiltration Arc
As expected, the gang finds obstacles in the form of higher level Millefiore guards like Dendro Chilum and his boar Box Weapon. However Tsuna defeats him with his X-Burner in this supposedly warm-up match. Then Lal comes face to face with Glo’s assistant, Gingerbread. Lal defeats him (albeit it was just his fake body), she continues to suffer from the effects of the rays. It is then their presence is made known so Irie goes into offensive mode. Considering Lal’s condition, Tsuna volunteers himself to be the distracting bait while the rest head deeper into the base. Tsuna encounters and battles a group of King Moscas under the control of Black Spell technician Spanner (always having a candy in his mouth). Though Tsuna defeats the King Moscas, he fell unconscious. When he wakes up, he finds himself captive under Spanner but that guy is interested in developing Tsuna’s X-Burner and agrees to help him. Also, Reborn emerges via Giannini’s hologram so they are able to communicate. It wonders me how Reborn is able to see everything in 3D where Tsuna is considering that he is just in hologram form. Elsewhere, Ryohei takes on turban guy Baishana and beats him with his kangaroo Box Weapon, Maximum Ingram. Then Irie starts activating the base. It seems that the base is made out of cubicle blocks which allow them to be moved and shuffled about. Yamamoto and Lal are separated from Ryohei and Gokudera as part of Irie’s plan. Yamamoto encounters a pair of boomerang throwing twins while Gokudera takes on some old guy with an octopus-like hair. No prizes for guessing who comes out tops.
 
Then Irie sets up Ganma to take on Ryohei and Gokudera. Unfortunately, Ryohei got knocked out by his lightning blast so Gokudera takes over and fights him via his CAI system. So some flashback moments as we learn even among the Millefiore family, especially the Black and White Spell members, they don’t like each other. Something about how Ganma suspects Yuni was being put under Byakuran’s spell so he wants to defeat that guy so he can have his princess back. He also mentions how another member of his Giglio Nero family, Genkishi, was their biggest traitor as he sided with Byakuran. Meanwhile Tsuna undergoes some simulation by Spanner to develop his X-Burner while Yamamoto meets Genkishi. Since Genkishi is an illusionist apart from being a good swordsman, Yamamoto is defeated. On the other hand, there is another invasion at the Millefiore’s base. This time led by Hibari’s subordinate, Tetsuya Kusakabe along with Lambo, I-pin and even Chrome. Before Genkishi could dispose of Yamamoto once and for all, future Hibari shows up to duel with him. Irie has also come to know about Spanner’s betrayal and sends Iris and Gingerbread to find them. Thankfully Spanner manages to complete the contact lenses Tsuna needs for his new and powerful X-Burner as he blasts them with it. As Hibari and Genkishi trade blows, suddenly the Hibari from 10 years ago is blasted to the future replacing his future self. Hibari is annoyed with his new surroundings and upon learning that Genkishi has taken out Yamamoto, this is enough for him as to consider as an attack on Namimori. Hibari learns fast to use his Dying Will and Box Weapon but his hedgehog Box Weapon starts to go out of control due to the amount of Dying Will Hibari put in. It starts collapsing the room and the adjoining chambers as everyone makes a run for it.
 
Tsuna is flying through the base with Spanner tagging along to find the strange weird machine he sees in his dreams. Irie tries to prevent him from moving further by unleashing traps but to no avail and since some of the blocks have been jammed, moving them is impossible as Tsuna closes in to his destination. However he now faces Genkishi. As one of the 6 Funeral Wreaths under Byakuran, he uses his illusion and Mare ring powers to play mind games on Tsuna but his determination is strong so he defeats Genkishi via his X-Burner and Zero Point Breakthrough. When Tsuna and Spanner reach their destination, they are surprised to see Irie there. Furthermore, all the Guardians are captured and placed in a chamber so if Tsuna doesn’t hand over his Sky Ring, they will ultimately pay. However there twist in the plot comes. Irie knocks out Cervello and explains everything. Seems that he is on Tsuna’s side. He is been acting hostile all the while so that Byakuran will not suspect him. Furthermore, those matches are to serve as their training for the ultimate showdown with Byakuran is to come. The machine that Tsuna dreamt contains the future bodies of them all. Which means when they were blasted into the future, their future self did not switched places but was ‘stuck’ inside this machine. So destroying it will not be a good idea. Also, Irie has sent messages to his past self to help blast Tsuna and co to the future gradually. This is to help them get strong. Tsuna gets upset when Irie mentions this point when he blasts innocent Kyoko and Haru to the future. However he reiterates that the future Tsuna told him to do so.
 
There is also a battle going on in Italy as the Varia is leading the charge against the Millefiore family. In replacement of Mammon, Flan is the new recruitment to the team and under Bel’s wings. You’ve got to love this kid’s sarcastic in-your-face comments even if he tells them in a monotonous energetic-less fashion. While the Varia are busy dealing with the Millefiore foot soldiers, Bel and Flan chance upon the former’s brother thought to be killed, Sil, who is also 1 of the 6 Funeral Wreaths. He and his servant, Orgelt took them out but thanks to Flan’s illusion, they escaped. Sil and Orgelt come face to face with Xanxus and he still shows why he is the boss (not to mention his stuck up attitude still there). Though he mentions that the conflict within the Vongola and Varia are personal and internal matters, when there is an outside threat, they will unite and cooperate to rid of that menace. Xanxus unleashes a powerful Box Weapon, Liger (a hybrid between a lion and tiger) to kill both Orgelt and Sil. So much for making anymore appearances. With the news of their victory in Italy reaching those in Japan, Ryohei from 10 years ago is blasted to the future. A little late but at least all the Vongola rings are here. However in order for Tsuna to use the given Sky Box Weapon, he and those from his time have to temporarily travel back in time to face the trials of the Arcobaleno within 7 days. Hey, didn’t just Ryohei came to the future? Now he has to go back again. Irie believes it is essential that Tsuna and his Guardians pass this trial as he feels that in this era, it is their only best hope they could defeat Byakuran.
 
Arcobaleno Trial Arc
Tsuna and co arrive safely back at their own time. Though they have been in the future for a few months, it has only been 3 days in between since Tsuna and Ryohei’s disappearance. So they make up some excuse like getting lost in a picnic. What’s not to believe? While a pair of unidentical twins, Monta and Himeko Hariyama (Mammon and Bel in disguise), becomes transfer students in Tsuna’s class, Tsuna’s first trial is against Colonello. While Lal (in Arcobaleno form at that time) is the observer. I wonder how the Arcobalenos of this time get to know of this all important trial. Fate? Plus, the number of Guardians participating depends on that Arcobaleno’s trial. For Colonello’s trial, Tsuna and Gokudera pairs up for the trial to test their fighting abilities. With cooperation and Gokudera as a distraction, they win their first trial. Elsewhere Tsuna is seen provoking Hibari and Mukuro to come together (these 2 never got along even if they’re reluctant under the same Vongola family). However it is a ploy by Skull to take out Tsuna with Mammon’s help but they slug it out among each other. The real Tsuna comes by to give Chrome some onigiri when he sees this. So the second trial of charisma belongs to Skull. Though Tsuna easily takes out Skull’s giant octopus and the same goes for Hibari and Mukuro over Skull’s subordinates, the latter duo continue fighting. However Tsuna manages to come between them and stop them. Because of that, he passes this test. Next is Mammon’s trial as he gives Tsuna, Yamamoto and Ryohei riddles to solve and find his location in which he has kidnapped Kyoko. They manage to do so and find that Kyoko’s kidnap was just an illusion. Mammon was being paid to conduct several incomplete and unstable Box Weapons at that time so it’s no surprise that Tsuna with the experience from his future blasts them all away including Mammon and passes the trial.
 
The next trial is Fong, who is I-pin’s master. If you’re wondering why I-pin likes Hibari at least this provide an insight. Fong resembles very closely to Hibari. Lambo is the only Guardian around so Fong also allows Haru and I-pin to play a game of tag in Namimori. They have to catch him before time is up. It’s no easy task seeing that Fond is like the wind. Eventually Tsuna catches Fong by default (he got beaten up by Hibari for making too much ruckus) and passes the test in the nick of time. The next trial belongs to Luche but that Arcobaleno is currently missing. However her daughter, Aria (the current head of Giglio Nero), does it in her place and proceeds to have Tsuna do all her chores. He passes the test when Tsuna protects her from mysterious MIBs not knowing whether she was a threat or not. She hopes her daughter Yuni will grow up to be like him. The next trial is Reborn. He has Tsuna gather all the Guardians in an all-out battle against him. Reborn shows his true strength and not even Hibari is close in touching him. When all the Guardians are out, it is Tsuna’s turn. However he is hesitant and couldn’t fight back even if Reborn gave him a chance to use the X-Burner on him. Because of that, Tsuna lost and Reborn says he has failed.
 
While the gang recuperates, the final Arcobaleno, Verde, launches his attacks on them. However Verde isn’t interested in Tsuna’s trial and is doing all this to obtain data of the Vongola Rings and Dying Will Flames for his research and complete his Box Weapon. Because of that, the other Arcobaleno team up to fight against him as they view him as a threat in breaking the Arcobaleno promise. They get to beat Verde and eventually find his secret hideout nearby so Verde just passes them in his trial of intuition. Because Reborn saw Tsuna’s determination in that fight and also passes him. The next day everyone gathers at Namimori Shrine to be blasted back to the future. But Hibari is nowhere in sight. Is he not coming? As everyone else goes first, Reborn and nervous Tsuna wait for Hibari but he is no show. Time is up so they head to the future only to find Hibari already there and was the first one who reached here. Even they’ve gone back to the past for 7 days, only 10 minutes have passed here.
 
Battle Preparation Arc
Back to the future. No, not that Hollywood movie from the 90’s. When everyone returns shortly, Byakuran appears to inform the gang that he knew of Irie’s defection so he announces an official battle called Choice between both sides in 10 days. As far as I understand, this Choice game is some strategy game that Byakuran and Irie created during their bored times (they have so much times on their hands then?) and Namimori is highly speculated to be the battleground. Of course. Why not? He also shows them the true 6 Funeral Wreaths and that the ones we knew all along weren’t so because of their fake rings. Plus, that battle in Italy was just a little test. He uses his powers to teleport the entire base elsewhere only leaving the machine and the little land they’re standing on intact. With Millefiore’s presence totally gone in Japan, Irie and Spanner join Tsuna’s team and prepare them to fight against Byakuran as Irie passes the Guardians their own Vongola Boxes. So the usual daily affair like Chrome opening up to the girls and Yamamoto coaching a group of Namimori baseball club kids. Then also blasted to the future is Basil, who first ended up in Spain and followed some instruction book on how to use Dying Will Flames and Boxes (like it was sooooo convenient. Heck it beats having to repeat or re-show his story) as he reunites with the gang. Now they have an ally and Basil’s attribute is rain.
 
As the gang learns how to use an Air Bike for mobility for their upcoming battle, Dino also returns and with his sky attribute, becomes their tutors (aside from continuing to be Hibari’s tutor). As training begins (like Tsuna trying to control his temperamental Sky Box Weapon, Gokudera reluctantly training Ryohei and Lambo, Chrome undergoing illusion training with Bianchi and I-pin via late Mammon’s computer programming and Yamamoto on standby because Squalo is on his way to give him sword lessons (shouting included. Just kidding), Kyoko and Haru feel left out and being kept in the dark by the boys on their activities and eventually find out the real deal (oddly when they first were eavesdropping in the same room, I can’t help feel that the gang who are able to sense enemies and their whatever, are unable to sense the girls. No killing aura?). Of course a little tension here and there but eventually they move on and complete their training. It was a good thing too Tsuna told the girls because Byakuran tells him to bring everyone from his side from the past for the game or else they’ll be disqualified (howzabout blasting a mountain top as demonstration?). Battle day arrives and we could see Tsuna and co ready to take on Byakuran and his 6 Funeral Wreaths. What more convincing do you need when the Guardians’ combined Dying Will Flames are 10 million Fiamma Volts! Whatever the heck that measurement is.
 
Being a mafia boss isn’t that bad…
The series is interesting enough to keep me glued to the screen so it won’t be a surprise that I will continue to watch the series and find out more about what the characters have to offer, whether it is their past or the battles that they will face. It has been a long and winding road for Tsuna and the rest but over the series, you can see them grow, especially Tsuna from a whinny loser to a respectable friend and comrade. Though he still has some of his weak habits but then, nobody is perfect.
 
Many of the character themselves are likeable but I can’t help mention that I find those kids Lambo and I-pin a little annoying. It’s like their main role over the series is for I-pin to keep naughty Lambo in line, chasing each other around. I really wish that their grown up versions would have more screen time. Though the kid Fuuta isn’t bad himself, I’d still prefer the future Fuuta because he looks and sounds more mature. I don’t mean to sound like kid-hater Hana but I just felt that somehow these little kids don’t contribute much accept for comic relief. Then of course Gokudera’s calling of Tsuna as the 10th really gets to you after a while. Chrome’s loneliness and always wanting to find where Chikusa and Ken is always had me baffled why they always leave her behind. Speaking of which, if those trio escaped from the Vendicare, why didn’t they take them back? Perhaps they’ve got Mukuro the big fish so those small fries don’t matter, eh? Another thing about Skull is that if he’s got a reputation of being a strategist and a stuntman who can come back from the dead. But in his Arcobaleno form, he’s like being bullied and looked down especially by Reborn and Colonello. All just big talk? Reborn is also another enigmatic character. When things are not going good for Tsuna and co during their battles, Reborn puts on a worrying look. Then when Tsuna makes a comeback, Reborn lets out a grin and had knew it all along that this would happen. So does he really know it or just playing along?
 
On an unrelated note, I also wished that there were other rings created for Tsuna’s Vongola ‘family’ as they could be extended to the other characters. For instance Rainbow Ring for Kyoko (because of her cheerful disposition), Snow Ring for Haru (because her name means spring so winter is also a season… Sorry if you don’t get it), Moon Ring for I-pin (because her face looks like one. Haha! Just kidding), Wind Ring for Fuuta (because when he goes into ranking mode, everything close to him is like floating and suspended in mid-air. Sorry too if you don’t get it) and Haze Ring for Bianchi (just like her poison cooking because it chokes and bad for your health. Haha! Sorry). It would be interesting if they had such rings so as not to show that they are ‘useless’. But even if they aren’t in the front lines, at least they provide background and emotional support to Tsuna and the rest. So which girl will it be, Tsuna? Still gunning for Kyoko? But he can’t dismiss Haru because she herself proclaimed to be his future wife. How about Chrome? Yeah, gotta face Mukuro first. Don’t want to be called mukou-dono (son-in-law). Get it? Sorry, another bad joke.
 
The extensive cast line up include relative unknown seiyuus such as Neeko as Reborn (can’t seem to find any other info on this mysterious seiyuu), Yukari Kokubun as Tsuna, Hidekazu Ichinose as Gokudera, Suguru Inoue as Yamamoto, Toshinobu Iida as Mukuro, Hitomi Yoshida as Haru, Li Mei Chiang as I-pin (she’s a Japanese by the way). Of course there are other established seiyuus like Hidenobu Kiuchi as Ryohei (Touji in Peach Girl), Rie Tanaka as Bianchi (Suigin Tou of Rozen Maiden), Junko Takeuchi as Lambo (Naruto of Naruto), Kenjiro Tsuda doing several roles as Otona Lambo, Spanner and Romeo (Inui in Prince Of Tennis), Takashi Kondo as Hibari and Fong (Train in Black Cat) and Yuko Sanpei as Fuuta (Renton in Eureka Seven). Others that don’t really have a long list of anime roles to their names include Satomi Akesaka as Chrome (Kuno in Sekirei), Kenn as Dino (Kazu in Air Gear), Daisuke Nakamura as Colonello (Yamato in Suzuka), Yuuna Inamura as Kyoko (Apricot in Galaxy Angel Rune) and Masami Suzuki as Lal (Amelia of Slayers series).
 
With the numerous opening and ending themes, some are rock based while others feels like pop and they range from fast to slow. Those that sounded okay to me include Drawing Days by SPLAY (opening 1), Boys And Girls by LM.C (opening 2), 88 by LM.C (opening 4), Last Cross by Mitsuoka Masami (opening 5), Michishirube by Keita Tachibana (ending 1), Echo Again by SPLAY (ending 3) and Ameato by w-inds (ending 7). Some of them sound a little sissy or weird to me like Friend by Idolling! (ending 6), CYCLE by CHERRYBLOSSOM (ending 8), Suberidai by Mori Tsubasa (ending 9), Sakura Rock by CHERRYBLOSSOM (ending 10), Smile by Aya Ueto (ending 11) and Aoi Yume by Mori Tsubasa (ending 14). I don’t know, I just can’t stand them. Then there is one ending theme sang by the seiyuus of Hibari and Mukuro called Sakura Addiction (ending 5). It kinda feels weird to see both enemies singing together, if you know what I mean. Also, the current 7th opening theme by SxOxU, Funny Sunny Day, sounds funny and er… gay? With a variety of background music, some are quite nice, especially those battle themed ones. Then there are those which are character specified, tailored to a particular main character in the series. So when that song is played, you’ll know which character is going to make his/her appearance or hog a little of the spotlight of that moment.
 
On a trivial note, each episode is named Target and I wonder how many targets Tsuna and co will go through before achieving what they’re supposed to do. Initial the next episode preview starts off with Reborn narrating. Then during the Vongola Ring Conflict arc, the next episode preview is just a short scene lasting less than 5 seconds because the end segment has been turned into some best 3 horoscope fortune telling with recycled lines and actions from the series’ characters representing that horoscope. I don’t know how true is that but do you feel lucky? Some of their quips are funny like Ryohei’s "My constellation is always boxing" while others are just plain and dull. Later during the Future arc, a section called Haru Interview Dangerous whereby Haru and Reborn interview the series’ characters about their personal stuff or anything that matters. Usually it ends in a disastrous way. The characters here are drawn in chibi form so they look quite cute. Some characters appear twice and even minor characters like the Varia and Haru’s dad have their turn showing up. I suppose the horoscope segment must be damn popular because it comes back during the Battle Preparation arc shortly after a few episodes of what-the-hell-is-this Tsuna Monster Tamer filler. Yeah, another round of recycled lines (no Reborn, I did not miss this segment. Ever). I guess after all that end fillers, the next episode preview goes back to where it initially started off with Reborn doing the talking again. I guess those fillers were necessary to ‘fill up’ the air time. No wonder they can drag the arc for so long. I mean for instance for the Future arc, in almost every damn episode you have 5 minutes of recap of what has happened. From the beginning! Stop it already! I get it! Tsuna blasted into the future bla bla bla!
 
The series is popular enough to have video games, light novels and a radio show of its own. However unlike Bleach, Naruto and One Piece, this series does not have a movie feature of its own. I wonder what kind of storyline if they were to make one. Unless it is some alternate retelling or something like that. And I’m sure with cool and good looking guys like Hibari and Mukuro, this draws in the crowd and the more purpose for them to cosplay.
 
The significance of this entire series is about the importance of being a family. I know that when you say mafia, those thoughts of trigger happy Sicilian people come to mind. A good mafia? Well, it’s better than real life corrupted higher officials supposed to serve the people but served their own pockets instead. It does not matter if they are blood related or not, as long as you have that closeness of the family bond which glues everyone together. For Tsuna, he is going to have to live with the fact that his house is one noisy gathering place and whether he accepts his destiny as the 10th Vongola boss or not (well, the Future arc seems to indicate he has become one), he has learned to accept them as they are and to care for them. Maybe it’s about time I should do the same for my own family. At the same time, I’ll be watching this series with my Dying Will! Like my life depends on it. REBORN! Oops. I think I just split my pants. Better than being bitten to death.
 

Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn

Gokusen

January 16, 2010

Have you ever thought that a certain teacher back during your schooling years sucks? Did you ever hate him/her because he/she was always failing or picking on you? How would you treat and react to all those? Well, I’m sure many of us would react differently if your teacher had a delinquent or gangster background! Yikes! No, I’m not talking about GTO here but something similar of that sort. Gokusen in particular.
 
Kumiko Yamaguchi may look your ordinary teacher but she is part of the yakuza, the Ooedo Group to be exact. Enough to send shivers down her students’ spine, doesn’t it? However this series isn’t about a teacher getting revenge on her students by unleashing her violent nature and taking it out on them. If only the world has more teachers like her. You mean a yakuza teacher? Tsk tsk tsk. Not that. Don’t jump to conclusions with just the little information you have at hand. You’ll see why this heir to the Ooedo Group deserves much more than those teachers who aren’t worthy of being called so.
 
As seen in episode 1, she is a newly transferred teacher to Shirokin Private High School. You can guess that this all-male school has a reputation of being a total bad ass delinquent because of all the profanity and graffiti on the wall. Enough to make a normal person turn away. She is one of the 2 new teachers recruited to this school, the other being the busty Shizuka Fujiyama. On their first day, they are being warned by the vice president (I’ll refer him as VP – note how he is always wearing a safety helmet! That serious, huh?) about how bad this school is. He also ticks off the short and bald Principal for hiring female teachers knowing the delinquent status of this school. But Principal’s thinking is that they’re still children and are seeking love. WTF?! Is he that delusional? At least he has hopes for them. Kumiko goes to her class but her students are disappointed because they are anticipating a busty teacher instead. They think she is slow and stupid seeing that she’s acting happy and enthusiastic. Because of that, they call her Yankumi. The class go about making a ruckus, doing their own business when a student, Shin Sawada comes in and tells his pals not to make any more trouble. They listen to him and Kumiko thinks he is the leader of this class. She then gives them a paper each to write down stuff they feel like in order to know them better but they crumple and throw it back at her. While she is writing on the blackboard, a student takes a pachinko and throws it at her. But her swift reflex catches it with her palm. She realizes what has happened and acts surprised. Shin notices that there is something about her.
 
Kumiko and Fujiyama head home as Kumiko’s dog, Fuji, comes by to walk her home (it’s wearing a sweater?), As the students talk bad about Kumiko, Shin tells them that she is no ordinary teacher. Kumiko goes home to her Ooedo Group and is greeted by her underlings. They go pray at her late parent’s altar. She says how she has accomplished her desire to be a teacher. A subordinate of hers, Kyoutarou Ooshima AKA Kyo, asks about her 1st day. She replies all the profanity the students hurled at her. They get upset and even suggest going to kill them! Kumiko of course disagrees because this will expose her background and get her fired. Furthermore, the Kumicho (yakuza boss), Ryuuichirou Kuroda (also Kumiko’s grandpa), says that they shouldn’t get careless for her sake and it must be hard as a woman to be a future yakuza boss. Though she says her mom hates this lifestyle, she liked it. Kumicho and his assistant Shinohara leaves and the latter tells her to do her best, causing her to blush. Well, she’s still a woman deep down. Because of that, her underlings, Minoru and Tetsu act out a disgusting mock love scene, so she beats them up.
 
At school, she enters class to see a superimposed picture of herself (nude body with big tits?!) on the blackboard. She acts slow so her students think she really is one. In the teacher’s room, when she finds out that 1 of Fujiyama’s student got involved in a fight, this prompts her to remember how she spot her own student, Teruo Kumai, looking worried and to meet someone behind the school gym. She rushes there to see him being beaten up by expelled senior Kudou and his underlings. One of them catches her as they continue to beat Kumai. Meanwhile Shin gets a call from his pals about Kumai’s case. Since Kumai isn’t fully knocked out, Kumiko knocks him out herself! Woah! Can she do that? You bet she just did. Then she proceeds to beat those guys up for touching her student. When Shin and gang arrive, they see Kumai semi-conscious but are puzzled to see Kudou and co stacked up too. They dismiss it could be Kumiko’s doing when Fuji shows up. The rest thinks the dog did it (on an unrelated note, now you have another reason other than eating your homework. Haha! Just kidding). However Shin thinks otherwise. Suddenly Fuji stands up on his 2 hind legs and put its paws on his leg. WTF?!
 
You’ll notice how Fuji has a voice of his own and even if he does not communicate in language with the humans around him, you can hear his thoughts regarding Kumiko or the kids or just about anything else. It’s really odd to see a yakuza dog taking on some humanoid features and habits. Have you ever seen a bulldog smoke? Uh huh. Weird. So in most episodes as Kumiko goes about in her teaching life, she has her sense of justice but since she hails from the yakuza, her rowdy behaviour sometimes get the better of her as she spews out yakuza terms and jargon which could expose her identity. Yeah, it’s hard to keep a normal behaviour when you have that kind of background. But thankfully, nobody here is that sharp. Maybe Shin…
 
In episode 2, because Minoru and Tetsu are fooling around, Kumiko does some training on them and easily overwhelms the duo as Fuji watches. In class, Shin is talking to his pals about Kudou’s beating when a fight occurs. But to their surprise, Kumiko is there as she supports and gives her comments on the fight! Till 1 of them takes out a penknife did Kumiko stop them and resume class. Shin tells Kumai to go chop her head while she is writing on the blackboard. He reluctantly does so but to his surprise, Kumiko didn’t evade and took the hit (she didn’t sense a killing intent). Shin decides to leave but she begs him to stay since tomorrow there is an assessment class whereby several teachers will be observing her class. Shin decides to stay but hatches a plan to the rest. In the teacher’s room, Fujiyama thinks of creating an all-male choir club and 1 of the boys she has in mind is Shin. Kumiko concludes she likes pretty boys. Kumiko goes home and wonders if Kyo has got her teacher’s clothes but to her horror, it’s some traditional kimono and a blade. She chides him as they’re not in an execution clan. What’s this? Fuji bringing in a gun too?! What are they thinking?
 
Next day before Kumiko enters class, Principal gives her words of encouragement. Before she steps in, she sees something wrong and tells Principal to stall the observers for 10 minutes. VP is seen contacting a shady person telling him how this will ruin the school’s reputation. He enters Kumiko’s class to see no on there. Kumiko rushes to the rooftop to see her students hanging out there. Sensing Shin is behind all this, she wants him to tell everyone to get back to class. He agrees on 1 condition: To have a 1 on 1 fight with him. She agrees to meet him at the riverbank after school. VP is upset that Principal is doing some weird show for the observers so he leads them himself to Kumiko’s class but to his shock, lessons are going on normally. After it’s over, at the teacher’s room, Kumiko learns from another teacher that Shin had good grades for his 1st year and the reason he came to this school was he beat up his homeroom teacher during middle school. Fujiyama comes in to wonder if Kumiko as asked Shin about joining her choir club.
 
At the riverbank, Shin waits while his buddies remember the time how their middle school homeroom teacher accused his student for stealing even if he was innocent. Shin stood up for him. When the culprit is revealed to be another student, the teacher refused to apologize and that’s when Shin beat him up. To their surprise, Kumiko has overheard this. She faces Shin and gets upset that he did the boycott for his selfish reasons just to see how she beat up Kudou. After some yakuza advice and not wanting to fight, she instead tells him to release his energy via joining the choir club. Not amused, Shin is going to start when a policeman spots them. Kumiko starts panicking and thinks this is a setup and runs away. Yakuza and police are like water and oil, you know. Shin and co also follow. They notice how fast she is running and why a teacher is running away from the police. Fuji spots the police chasing them and manages to give Kumiko and the rest time to escape when he grabs on to the policeman’s leg causing him to trip. Shin senses something different about her and is determined to find out what it is.
 
In episode 3, Kumiko is upset while marking her student’ maths paper because they have just scribbles on them. She then gets a call from an old friend Yasue. A hostess of Yasue’s club, Sayuri is trying to get rid of drunken guys but they got violent to the extent of hitting her with a bottle. But before he could do so, Kumiko arrives in time to stop them. She tells Tetsu and Fuji to ‘teach them some manners’. In the aftermath, Kumiko chats with them and finds out how Yasue picked up Sayuri during tough times. Kumiko finds Sayuri’s face familiar. Next day in class, Kumiko returns the test papers and Shin scored the highest: 98 marks! Maybe that’s why he’s got the brains to be the leader. She then suggests a remedial class for those who failed. The class is upset especially Youichi Minami so he tells her off how they aren’t going to top universities or take up low jobs. Even if they can’t they’ll be thugs. Kumiko chides him off yakuza style that even so he’ll be weak. She realizes she almost expose her identity and quickly returns the papers. In the teacher’s room, Kumiko tells Fujiyama about her remedial class but VP isn’t confident due to this school’s reputation. As everyone goes home, they notice Kumiko waiting in class so they ignore her.
 
When she leaves at the end, she is surprised to see Sayuri looking for her. She grabs her before she could expose her yakuza identity. A Shin’s buddy, Takeshi Noda, informs Kumai that his mom has been taken away by Kumiko. Then Kumiko learns she is Kumai’s mom and that she is here to pay her son’s tuition fees. They chat when Shin comes by and wonder what they’re doing. Sayuri tries to cover for Kumiko without getting her exposed when Kumai comes running by and thinks Kumiko has called her mom because he skipped remedial class. Sayuri knocks his head and corrects him that Kumiko is her life saver. But the kids think she isn’t capable of that so before anymore unwanted accidental exposures, Sayuri tells them to get back to class and study. But Shin knows that Kumiko did it. Next day, everyone continues to ignore Kumiko’s remedial class. Shin passes by to tell her how nobody will turn up. He even quips how this class has a lower turnout rate than the choir club whom she once again asks him to join. Kumai comes home to see his mom upset about remedial class and wants him to tell the truth. He realizes Kumiko didn’t rat on him but got beaten up anyway. Next day as everyone continues to go home, Kumai decides to go sit for remedial class, much to Minami’s dismay. Soon those who failed decide to do so and pissed Minami too attends so as not to lose face. Though Kumiko is happy that they turn up, however everyone is just bumming around not listening. Back home as Fuji narrates how her work has paid off, he hears Kumiko’s scream because the maths papers she is marking still has those scribble and that remedial class was pointless. They never learn, eh?
 
In episode 4, Kumiko is upset that Fuji and Minoru got arrested for theft while doing their night rounds even if they’re innocent. Thankfully Shinohara has secured their release since there is no proof. She is grateful and invites him to a drink but he has matters to attend to and leaves. Minoru and Tetsu act out a lovey-dovey scene again so Kumiko beats them up. Next day in school. Kumiko finds several warning posters of a thief posted on the school walls. In teacher’s room, they’re discussing how the posters make it look like the accused is from this school in which VP hints it is because all incidents have been near the school. A pair of police detectives then comes in so Kumiko hides under her table. Principal says how the latest theft involved an elderly lady who got injured because she was being hit and her purse stolen. The teachers think that their students couldn’t be the culprit because they won’t physically hurt people. Kumiko is happy that they think positively of their students so she too thinks that hers aren’t that bad. But as she enters class, she sees Noda with a purse and instantly gets angry, taking him by his collar. She learns that it was his sister’s purse which somehow dropped into his bag. Though she is embarrassed, Minami isn’t happy because he thinks she suspected them as a thief, just like everyone else. She feels guilty and apologizes. Later at the rooftop as Shin is absent, Minami hatches a plan with the rest.
 
That night, Minami and Noda got caught in an alley but the police for being the thief suspect. Plus, the image of the warning poster resembles closely to Noda. Haruhiko Uchiyama spots this, calls Shin and then Kumiko. She rushes over to the police station to learn that they were trying to catch the real thief. She talks to the officer to get them released but because he too doubts them, Kumiko is upset and nearly displayed her yakuza rowdiness but is restrained by Shin and Uchiyama. The duo are released since there is no evidence. Outside, VP comes by and thinks they are the culprits. Kumiko is pissed off with him accusing them without proof because he wants to have a meeting tomorrow to expel them. The guys are amazed when Kumiko stood up for them as VP leaves. She is determined to find the real thief at all cost. She goes visit Yasue for a favour. When she regroups with the rest, the gang find her wearing a blonde wig and also borrowed an expensive handbag. She intends to be the bait to lure the thief out. Will it work? One way to find out. As she walks around, the guys watch from afar but decide to take a break. During her rounds, she encounters a flasher before hearing a scream. She rushes over to see the real thief stealing a lady’s purse and fleeing via bicycle. She gives chase but luckily Fuji who was watching her from the shadows, intercepted the bicycle. Kumiko catches him and calls for help. The guys come rushing to help her. She tries to make it as though she’s the one in a bind when in actual fact the thief is the one with his hands caught. Roles reversed. The guys pound on him till he’s unconscious. Shin notes how her acting was lame. They unmasked the thief and are sure that he isn’t from their school because he’s an elderly guy. Next day, Principal and the teachers are happy their name is cleared but VP isn’t as he throws the newspaper away. But the other guys aren’t happy about Uchiyama because he’s got his face in the newspaper and gotten himself some interview proclaiming to be the leader of the group. Who could resist that?
 
In episode 5, Kumiko gets a call and learns Kumicho has been hospitalized. She rushes to hospital and into the arms of Shinohara (on purpose). Kumicho’s condition isn’t serious and should be okay in 2-3 weeks. Minoru and Tetsu drank till they’re drunk to relief themselves at Yasue’s bar till they pass out. Nearby, a couple of yakuza claiming to be from Ooedo Group beats up a Kakita Group yakuza member. In school, Kumiko gets warning from Shin that Kudou has joined the Nekomata Group and to be careful if he ever intends to take revenge. Back home, Kumiko’s uncle and Kumicho’s brother-in-law, Tenkai, visits them to inform about how there’s a war cry from Kakita against Ooedo. Furthermore, the injured member claimed it was from Ooedo. Tenkai takes out a necklace which belongs to their group. When Minoru recognizes it is his, Kouzou Wakamatsu grabs Tetsu and Minoru by the throat demanding what they had done. However they proclaim their innocence so Kumiko thinks they have been set up. Tenkai says there’ll be a meeting over this and will be overseer by Tanukibara-kaichou (chairman on yakuza group). Since Kumicho is out, Kumiko volunteers to be the rep. Tenkai also suggests to bring Minoru and Tetsu along so that the other party will listen.
 
That night as they depart, Kumiko puts on make-up and dress in her traditional kimono. She punches Minoru and Tetsu out. Kyo notes she has no intention of taking them along in the first place. In the car, Kyo remembers the past how Kumicho introduced Kumiko to him and how he thought her how to fight. Minoru and Tetsu are tied up back home and also remember how they first met Kumiko. They were doing some bad stuff around Ooedo’s territory. After learning their family abandoned them, Kumiko took them in and treated them like her brothers. She even told them to go to school. When Tetsu said how his teacher told him not to come till graduation day, after that day, Kumiko confronted him and beat him up! Shin and co are hanging near Kakita’s area when Kumiko arrives. She is surprised to see them but they don’t recognize her. Tenkai is already in discussion when Kumiko makes her entrance. Kakita rep gets mad when Kumiko says she didn’t bring the duo. He starts getting rowdy but powerful Tanukibara-kaichou tells him to shut up. He then asks if she is willing to take responsibility and her reply is when that time comes, it comes. He then gives out a heartily laugh and finds it interesting. He agrees to broker a peace deal but Kakita rep isn’t happy so Tanukibara-kaichou chides him that they aren’t living in that era anymore. Kumiko is grateful. As they leave, Kyo tells Kumiko that they have been informed the real culprit impersonated as an Ooedo member is from Nekomata. Minoru and Tetsu come rushing to see if Kumiko is alright (earlier they broke free from Fuji’s watch and tied him up). They also apologize. Then Shinohara rushes in as he wonders if Kumiko is alright but couldn’t recognize her. When he realizes it, he laughs out loud and thinks she has put too much make-up. Oh the heartbreak…
 
In episode 6, while Shin is pondering Kumiko’s real identity, he notices his classmate Kubo being bullied by 3 seniors. He confronts them but they attack him. Though Shin fights back, a masked wrestler beats the crap out of the bullies. Shin knows she’s Kumiko but she acts blur and leaves. While taking a breather, she almost got exposed to VP who wonders what she’s doing. Kumai is lifting Shin back home when they spot a black car with 2 guys waiting (Minoru and Wakamatsu). They then see Kumiko secretly jumping over the school wall and quickly into the car. Shin decides to follow them. At the hospital, Kyo is trying to persuade Kumicho not to leave the hospital yet. Kumiko arrives and learns that Kumicho has learned about the Nekomata’s case and is worried. Kumiko thought he had left the group’s matters to her but he is concerned if the school finds out and got her fired, it would affect her teaching dream. Kumiko assures him and Kyo commits to protect her dream so Kumicho leaves it to them. Shin and Kumai are watching from afar. That night, Shin and Kumai follow them back to Ooedo house and conclude this is a yakuza’s spot. Shin infiltrates to find out more but is spotted by Fuji. Tetsu then brings them in but the ruckus has Kumiko already spotted them from her window. She is surprised to see them here.
 
Wakamatsu, Tetsu and Minoru are interrogating them. Shin is unfazed while Kumai feels scared. Kumiko then appears and tells them they are her students. Just as she’s about to reveal herself, Kyo comes in and pretends to get rough on her. Yeah, he does some mocking slap to her face as Kumiko plays along. He cooks up a story about her debts owed. Kumiko and the rest note that Kyo is doing this to protect her identity but it’s so lame (even crying!) that she thinks her students won’t fall for it. Well, only Kumai did. Kyo lets them go in the end. On their way out, Kumai misinterprets and thinks her dad has left her with a debt just like his own. As Kumai goes get his scooter, Shin tells Kumiko that he knows that the lady in make-up and Kimono then was her. After they leave, Kumiko goes back to see Kyo trying to kill himself for raising his hands towards her but is being restrained by the rest. Kumiko thanks him and for everyone to quit acting already. Next day, Kumiko goes to school early to see Shin waiting. He says he will keep quiet if she tells him why she became a teacher. She answers about Minoru and Tetsu’s case how they were kicked out of school and thought it would be nice if there was at least a teacher who didn’t kick kids like that out. Shin promises not to tell anyone. Plus, he thinks school will be boring if she was fired. Later Kumiko sees Kumai, Minami and Noda hanging around recess and soon it is class time when her stomach growls. Minami and Noda teases her so Kumai secretly passes his bread to her, thinking she is skipping meals to save money for her debt. Kumiko feels sorry for fooling him and thinks how kind everyone is.
 
Kumiko is surprised to learn that Fujiyama has successfully recruited 4 boys for her choir club in episode 7. And they’re all good looking. Yeah, they’re singing in falsetto voice too. Principal tells Kumiko that he didn’t hire both ladies for their good looks or fair skin. Kumiko walks with Fujiyama on their way out school when they see a student, Ichikawa, with a bruise on his cheek. Fujiyama calls him to join the choir club but he runs away. Later Uchiyama, Noda and Minami see a poster of Fujiyama trying to recruit members for her club (she drew her own boobs big!). They speak several nasty and perverted rumours about her so Kumiko chases them away. However Fujiyama says 1 of the rumours is true but will not say which. Kumiko notices a bully going to do a painful wrestling move on Ichikawa so she does 1 on him first, citing wrestling reasons. That guy leaves with Ichikawa. Kumiko goes talk to Fujiyama about Ichikawa’s case but the latter says he rarely talks to her no matter how much she asked. Meanwhile Ichikawa is doing errands for the bullies. They tell him to ‘bring’ the latest released game to their house tonight. Ichikawa is trying to steal a game from the store but Fujiyama stops him in time, offers to buy it for him and requests to talk things out at her home but he runs away instead. She gives chase but lost him after she tripped.
 
Fujiyama is having a meal with Kumiko and Fuji. She tells of her past how when she was a rookie teacher, a student of hers tried to commit suicide. She noticed the good looking student always in a company of some guys and always being teased. She never suspected anything because he was always smiling. Then he took pills to kill himself but luckily was rushed to hospital in time. His parents blamed the school and especially her for not noticing. Fujiyama soon quit and wandered around southern Japan. She realized she wanted to continue teaching as she felt she could take on anything and don’t want that to ever happen again. Fuji notes how she has a big heart in addition to big boobs. Kumiko is having lots on her mind in class about Fujiyama’s past and Principal’s words so she decided to cancel class to have a football match. They are against it but she says it’s that or a maths test. As they are playing, they spot Ichikawa on the rooftop preparing to jump down. Since he isn’t listening, Fujiyama says to jump and she will try to catch him with her boobs! I know they’re big but not THAT big! Well, she did say it’s better than doing nothing. Kumiko tells her to keep talking while she runs up the building. Just when Ichikawa decides to climb back in, he slips. Luckily Kumiko reaches in time to grab his hand. However, her hand couldn’t reach the railing which means she is falling too! Thankfully Shin arrives to grab her hand and the other students follow and pull them up. Ichikawa and Fujiyama emotionally embrace. In the end, Ichikawa joins her choir club. But she has 4 seniors who request joining her club. They are from Big Boobs Lover Group and they look ugly. Fujiyama is so horrified.
 
Kumiko and Fujiyama are thrilled about the school’s upcoming field trip to Okinawa in episode 8. But the male teachers cautioned them how the last time it ended in lots of trouble. When they arrive in Okinawa, trouble brews when Uchiyama gets into a verbal spat with the local Habu Gang leader, Amuro. Kumiko breaks them up but Amuro isn’t pleased and tells her to f*ck off! Kumiko reiterates and this time he saw her scary aura so he and his gang back off. At sightseeing stops, the teachers are contemplating of skipping each one because they have potential for trouble. A group of pretty school girls and nasty brats. Trouble indeed. This upsets them so Shin devises a plan. On the next stop, Shin and co make Kumiko ‘it’ and plays tag. The teachers have a hard time catching them. The repeat this at every stop. When everyone retires at a hotel, the teachers patrol and stakeout at points to prevent them from leaving. Then late at night because Kumiko has been chasing all day long, she fell asleep. This is part of Shin’s plan as he and the rest easily sneak out to town. Fujiyama then brings Kumiko back to their room to sleep.
 
Kumiko wakes up in the middle of the night to find Shin on top of her. She gets furious and thinks he is planning to do something funny. Fujiyama wakes up from all that ruckus and misinterprets. She supports them and plans to give them some time alone. However Shin says something has happened to Uchiyama (he isn’t with the rest). Shin says while he was asking a girl for directions, they nearly for into a fight with a local gang. The flee but Uchiyama got separated in the process. Attempts to call his handphone failed. Kumiko and Shin go out to look for him as he leads her to the spot of the fight. They see the same bunch of gang so Kumiko proceeds to talk to them. They made jokes like how he’s dead so she isn’t amused and slaps 1 of them. Not amused, they all fight back but she slaps them all till their cheeks are swollen and crying! Beaten by a woman? Shameful. They told them how they chased Uchiyama but lost him. As they continue to search, they spot Amuro running by and telling his members how Uchi got kidnapped. Upset Kumiko threatens him for details. He says how the Mongoose Gang has threatened to kill him unless they give up. Then everyone including Kumiko gets hyped up to save him but Shin wonders why they are so eager to go save someone they hardly know.
 
At the harbour, they confront the Mongoose boss and soon realize it’s a trap as they’re being surrounded. Kumiko steps in and demands for Uchi’s release and is willing to bet her life on it. The Mongoose boss acts tough but after seeing her dragon aura (and how it easily discards his useless cowardly mongoose one!), he gets scared, blames it on his subordinates and runs away! Some kind of boss. His subordinates are surprised and also run away. They then find Uchi in the nearby warehouse but to Kumiko’s despair, he isn’t the Uchi she’s looking for. Yeah, he is Uchida. However Amuro is grateful and will help in her search. Meanwhile Uchiyama is seen lost in the streets wondering if the chasing pack is gone. Amuro comes by in his bike and tells him to get on. Uchiyama is suspicious at first but he tells him Kumiko is their saviour and that she’s a good person and someone they’ll never find as amazing as her. Back at the harbour, Amuro’s other members brought back their so called versions of Uchiyama (based on Kumiko’s description on him earlier on). Soon Amuro comes back with Uchiyama and everyone thought there’s going to be an emotional reunion but Kumiko becomes enraged and starts slapping his cheeks till they’re swollen. Boo hoo! When Kumiko returns to her Ooedo home, she has keychain Shisas (those lion statues) for everyone but a very huge one for Kumicho and Shinohara.
 
For the cultural festival in episode 9, Kumiko tells her class they’ll be doing a host club as this is a chance for them to make friends with girls. A male teacher says how seniors and juniors don’t get along citing Kudou’s case. Also, a suspended senior, Ichirou Tsuruta, is coming back for the festival because he wanted it and Principal allowed so. Kumiko is outside the building when he sees Minami taking on big sized Tsuruta. Everyone else is watching and realizes he is back. Minami is scared but tries to act tough. He even pretends to drink Noda’s oolong tea and did drunken fist and hit Tsuruta when he is offguard but that didn’t amount to anything. Tsuruta didn’t want to beat him up because he’s weak so the seniors lied by saying how Minami said bad about his face. As Tsuruta prepares to give Minami a kick, Kumiko notices Tsuruta backed down before his kick connected, though Minami is like flying and taking the impact of it all and then faints. During the festival, the host club isn’t drawing in the girls and scaring them away because of their menacing face. Even if Kumiko coaches them, nothing changes. Minami then tells Shin that the rest will go ‘advertise’ for more customers. Kumiko follows them and eavesdrop on their plan to ambush Tsuruta and the seniors. Tsuruta is making yakisoba for his class when a classmate informs they’ve got a challenge letter from the juniors. In their rage, they all rush out, spilling Tsuruta’s yakisoba. Fuji is visiting the fair and has a taste of his yakisoba and finds it delicious. Tsuruta feels happy and Kumiko observing from afar notes how he’s different from the other seniors. Principal and VP are visiting the empty host club and since Kumiko doesn’t want them to find out where the rest has gone to, she leaves them in Shin’s care while she goes to look for them.
 
The seniors have gathered near a bridge but the juniors are no-show. When Tsuruta turns up, he spots a yakisoba nearby. As he proceeds to pick it up, the ground caves in. It’s a trap by the juniors to immobilize Tsuruta. With him trapped, they all come out of their hiding and they all start fighting. Kumiko watches them all. Once it’s over and everyone gone, Kumiko lends her hand to get Tsuruta out of the hole. She talks to him and knows he doesn’t want to hurt the weak but he believes that the losers must obey the winners and thus the reason he has to keep going. However she says that she is the only person stronger that him in school and challenges him to a duel. She even says she’ll beat him with 2 fingers. Though Tsuruta says he doesn’t hit girls, Kumiko makes fun of his face and in his rage, he starts attacking but ultimately lost when she stuck both her fingers up his nose (it’s bleeding!). Because of that, she wants him to obey what she says. That is, to stop hitting people even if he’s asked to because truly strong people don’t show their power and to study more. Tsuruta wonders if the festival is over so Kumiko thinks he could help out with their host club. When Minami and co come back, they are shocked to see girls flocking around Tsuruta’s yakisoba stand in their host club. It’s a real crowd puller as he becomes their number 1 host. Say, where have those guys been after their fight ended in the draw?
 
A group of cat mask people is seen beating up a student in episode 10. Uchiyama and co are discussing how another of their classmate have been beaten up. That night, a scared student pays a hefty sum for a cat badge. He gets mocked by his pals but the cat mask gang appear and beat them up. Only the one with the cat badge is unscathed. As Kumiko walks to the teacher’s room, she notices lots of students wearing the cat badge. She learns from the other teachers’ discussion that students are resorting to stealing money from their parents to buy those badges since they aren’t cheap: 10,000 Yen! Later Kumiko learns from Shin that someone is selling them behind the train station and notes that place is Tenkai’s territory. She goes to see him and tells of the current situation but he is unaware of it all. Kumiko requests to do an investigation. But when she leaves the area, VP sees her and is suspicious. He decides to investigate. Kumiko goes to wait the train station but nothing happened. Till Shin shows up and says he thinks some punks are secretly selling stuff to students on another group’s territory and that his school is being targeted. Thus he is here to be the bait, though Kumiko protests. True enough, Shin meets a couple of punks who tell him to bring money at a certain place in exchange for the badge or else. After that, Kumiko tells Shin not to get involve anymore.
 
The punks return to Nekomata’s place. The boss is happy with the badge sales and one the cat mask people is Kudou. He is laughing because his plan against his ex-school is going well. It isn’t long before Kumiko barges in. Kudou recognizes her but those who aren’t familiar with her powers, gets beaten up. Even if they had knives in hand, they still can’t touch her. Useless. Suddenly a henchman comes in with Shin in his grasp (he was ambushed while wandering around the area). Kumiko has no choice but to back down so the punks take turn punching her. Shin is upset Kudou is behind this and tells Kumiko not to care about him but she took the blows anyway. In Shin’s struggle, he almost break free but gets pinned down. The henchman is going to beat him up when Minoru, Tetsu and Fuji come in. It seems Tenkai called them and with Fuji’s nose, they get to find where Kumiko is. The punks are scared so the Ooedo guys bashes them up as Kumiko warns them never to lay a finger on her students. Kudou manages to escape but Fuji gives chase. However that dog tires out. Pathetic! A human outrunning a dog? That dog has got to shape up. When Kumiko gives Shin a ride home, she warns him never to get involve in her private affairs. Next day in class, Kumiko notices Shin is absent.
 
Kumiko learns from Principal that Shin’s dad, Sawada, has given him a letter to quit school in episode 11. She tells him to hang on to that letter while she goes to investigate. Shin’s buddies are also worried since Shin didn’t tell them himself. Kumiko and Shin’s pals decide to go to his house and see him. On their way, she learns how Shin may have got into a fight with his parents since they were against his decision to enrol in Shirokin. Kumai says his dad is scary because he is the chief police officer. Kumiko panics and tries to back out but bumps into Sawada. He tells them it is useless to go see him so Kumiko negotiates and he allows only her to see him for 5 minutes. Shin is confined and heavily guarded in his room. The reason is that his elder brother, an honour student, suddenly dropped out of college and disappeared. He was to replace his dad’s position. This means with his disappearance, Shin is seen as his replacement. Kumiko gives him a maths test for him to do. Once she leaves, she has a chat with the rest. They want to go save him but she tells them to give up as they might get arrested. But the guys are adamant. That night, Kumiko gets a call from the police. At the station, she sees the quartet and even Tsuruta, all a little bruised. The officer says that they will not be charged for property damage and will be let off with an official warning. Kumiko is upset with them but Kumai gives her Shin’s maths test. She understood and tells them to go home.
 
That night, Kyo knows that she is going to war along and finds out the whole thing. She is willing to risk her teaching career just to save him. Kyo also wants to help though Kumiko says he is obvious as a yakuza and a screw up could cause trouble for the group. So Kyo plans to take full responsibility if Kumiko gets caught and some dramatic emotional drama of him severing ties with the group while Tetsu, Minoru and Fuji shed dramatic tears. *Rolling eyes*. Kumiko and Kyo bust in and lightly beat up several bodyguards to kidnap Shin. When the guards report to Sawada, he didn’t give chase as he has an idea who the culprit is. Next day, Sawada and his police entourage arrive at Ooedo’s home. He knows his son is here and that Kumiko is part of the yakuza. She is prepared for her identity to be exposed. But when he says he can find a reason to destroy the group and even Kumicho, she can’t let that slip by and tells him how her grandpa is a better person than him even he’s a yakuza. Unlike him, her grandpa didn’t force his children to lead a certain lifestyle. Kumicho then comes out to talk to the police but since Sawada is still persistent, he dares him to do what he wants but he leaves. Everyone is in awe/fear of his commanding aura. Sawada agrees and will return once he has evidence. Shin then steps out and begs that he graduates from this school. He also mentions how he picked this school just to get on his nerve and initially thought this school was for pathetic losers but he soon realized the importance of this place because of his friends and teachers. He was also jealous of his brother and worked hard to impress him but now is a man of his own and can decide for himself. When Sawada leaves, Shin apologizes to Kumiko and Kumicho. She gives him back his test paper in which he scored perfect.
 
Kumiko is running late for school in episode 12 and sees Principal coming late too. But to her surprise he is too tall! She learns that he is Principal’s older brother and this school’s chairman. Chairman is planning to close this school down though Principal is against it. Because Chairman thinks this school has only scums, Kumiko challenges him to a bet that if they get to be number 1 in Japan, the school will not be closed down. He is reluctant but since she puts on a scary face, he agrees to do up a contract and stick by it. Later the other teachers get to know of this and that they have only 2 weeks to do so. Furthermore, they have to be best in either academics or sports. They all get hyped up and start training their students under their specialty. Kumiko finds that her own class isn’t interested because they think they’ll graduate by the time the school closes down and that they don’t want to have any memories of this place. Later she learns from Shin that Chairman’s reason for closing the school down is to build a new company on this site. The deal has already been sealed and this was just an excuse. Plus, Shin mentions the only thing his class is good at is street fighting but Kumiko wants to play by the contract rules. On her way home, she sees a Mexican guy, Carlos, begging for the umpteenth time to Minoru and Tetsu to join their group. When he says his talent is boxing, Kumiko gets an idea. Next day, she forms a boxing club and makes Shin the captain and the rest members. Their coach is Carlos. Kumiko says that the National High School Boxing Tournament has ended and since they are short on time, she will arrange a match with its winners: Yabuki High School. However she got turned down but will try again. In the meantime, she wants them to train so Carlos unleashes unconventional training methods in this crash course.
 
Kumiko fails in yet another attempt to get a match as Yabuki’s coach isn’t giving a sh*t about them and tells her they’re going on a training stint with a university team. The other teachers come back with their own failures (like the judges were laughing at Fujiyama’s choir club during the tournament and she won the unique character award only). With 1 day left, Kumiko takes desperate measures and tells Shin and the rest to pack their bags as they’re going to ‘invade’. Yabuki’s boxing team arrive at the university only to find Kumiko and her students waiting for her. It seems they’ve knocked out the university team and took their place. No choice but to fight them. Minami and Noda instantly lost their matches while Uchiyama after several pounding, wins after he slips on his blood to knock down both his opponent and referee. Yabuki coach isn’t happy but because of Kumiko’s rowdiness, he gives in. Then it’s Shin’s turn and because the referee is still groggy, he beats his opponent kickboxing style and wins. The final match has Kumai pitted against Yabuki’s oversized foreigner named Bison. Kumiko tells Shin to take everyone else out. It seems she is going to take over Kumai’s place. She beats Bison with her agility. Next day, Chairman is shocked to see Shirokin beat Yabuki but thinks it’s an informal match. However Principal puts his foot down and tells him off that they have beaten the best and to stick with the contract. Chairman has no choice and VP is sad because he lost his position as director of that new building. On his way out, he spots Carlos thanking Kumiko when she says he’ll be able to become part of Ooedo.
 
In episode 13, Kumiko catches her cold so her Ooedo underlings over react like it is some big deal but when Shinohara comes by, Kumiko sure puts up an act that she’s sick. VP then snaps a picture of her entering her home and even tells his intention of letting the Board of Directors know about this. However Kumiko is unfazed. Also, Kudou is watching from afar. Next day, Chairman congratulates VP as they can use this info to close the school. However to their dismay, Principal tells them Kumiko has hand in her resignation letter. The duo are upset as this would lessen the impact since she’s a step ahead of them. Soon word spreads to Kumiko’s students as they confront her outside the school gates (except Shin and Kumai as they are absent). They wonder why she resigned so she lied and said she is sick of them. She proceeds to mock they have no balls to hit her and the scum they are. Everyone gets worked up and starts attacking her but Kumiko beats them all. She goes off when Kudou and her underlings appear before her. They want her to come with them but Kumiko resisted. However her cold worsens a little so she collapses as they carry her into their car. Kumai is passing in his scooter and spots this and calls Shin. The duo tail them to a warehouse. Shin tells reluctant Kumai to go and tell the Ooedo family about this. Kudou then goes off to see the Nekomata boss and leaving a henchman to guard her. But this single guy is a tough nut to crack and Shin has a hard time before really putting him out of commission.
 
Scared Kumai goes back to inform Minami and the rest to go save Kumiko but they aren’t interested, seeing what has just happened. No amount of words could change their mind so Kumai goes off himself. After some time thinking and reflecting back, they are contemplating on rescuing her and that’s when Principal comes in and says Kumiko won’t give up that easily and tears her resignation letter. Meanwhile the Nekomata boss is upset to learn what Kudou has done and reprimands him. That’s because they’re dealing with the influential Ooedo Group and any word from the powerful Kumicho could send them all to their doom and destroy the group. He thinks of getting rid of Kumiko and leave no trace. Weakened Shin tries to carry Kumiko out but Shin and the other Nekomata members have arrive. Kudou is going to slice Shin with his knife but Kumiko instantly gets up and holds him off. Before things could turn into Nekomata’s favour, all of Kumiko’s other students arrive and a free-for-all starts. The Nekomata boss tries to escape but sees Kumicho and the other Ooedo. No escape. VP is going to snap another picture of the ruckus in hopes of getting a scandal but Kyo gives a scary death threat. In the end when Kudou and the Nekomata gang are beaten flat, everyone learns the truth about Kumiko. She too learns her resignation has been rejected. Shinohara comes by to see if Kumiko is alright but Shin goes up to him and says he arrived too late. For once, Kumiko didn’t go lovey-dovey over him as she and the rest follow Shin out. Kumiko then suggests a race back to class to take some test, which has everybody rushing back. The teachers and Principal are happy to know things turned out alright.
 
I guess it’s pretty okay the way things turned out for Kumiko and her students. The school won’t be closed down, Kumiko gets to continue her teaching dream and her students get to have their favourite teacher back. See how she can change a bunch of delinquents? Even if their attitude still stinks but overall, I feel that they are much better from who they are at the start of the series. It’s like she’s like their angelic saviour, in the form of a yakuza. It was pretty amusing to see Kumiko sometimes unleashing her yakuza style of teaching upon her students but I guess you can’t win them over with sugary coated nice words. If there were more teachers like her in this real world (talking about her principals lah). Principal is also an understanding guy. He may be short in stature and a little odd in his behaviour but he sure isn’t when it comes to the affairs of his students and teachers. I’m glad that the teachers of Shirokin are equally concerned about their students’ welfare.
 
I wonder if the other threats that would expose her identity be permanently removed. Like VP will be keeping his mouth shut if he’s not willing to risk his life. Such a chicken. The same case for Kudou and the Nekomata Group now that they have taste the true and fearful powers of the Ooedo Group. It is one painful lesson they’ll never forget. What about Shin’s dad? As long as they don’t do any serious crime, maybe he’ll close an eye. Shinohara’s character truly puzzles me. I noticed that every time when he makes his appearance, he is like rushing from somewhere. Hope he isn’t some double spy. But too bad, no actual romance between him and Kumiko.
 
I’m not sure if this series is to make viewers have a different view of the yakuza. A good yakuza? Maybe. But what I mean is, generally we know them as ruthless thugs and gangsters and it is true like many organized mobs like the mafia in Italy, run their own giant business. Whether their trade is legal or not is another different story. In this series, the Ooeda yakuza (including Fuji) are sometimes like one emotional dramatic lot. Notice the several times when they get poetic about their pride, ties and such, the rest would be crying and trying to hold back their tears. And I do find it real funny when that happens. Are they really the tough yakuza they’re supposed to be? Well, even so, this proves that they are still human after all. And remember, being a yakuza should not be on one’s what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up list.
 
One thing I want to note about the drawing and art of this series. Well, I have a feeling that many of the characters here look ‘ugly’ so as to give that frightening look especially if you’re talking about delinquents and yakuza but even the girls here look ugly! Even Kumiko just looks so-so (please don’t kill me!). Another amusing thing is somewhere at the end of the opening credits animation, everyone from the students to yakuza and even Principal and Fuji are seen jogging together. Hey everybody! Let’s all have a round of healthy exercise! Cast away your differences and make a run for healthy living! Haha! Every time I see this, it never ceases to make me smile. This series is quite popular enough to have spawned 3 seasons of live action TV drama with the recent season just concluding in early 2009. I’m pretty sure it’s about the same storyline too but of course there are some differences between the manga, anime and TV drama.
 
So it doesn’t matter if your background isn’t desirable, whether you’re a gangster or an AIDS victim, the important thing here is the heart. Yup, never judge a book by its cover. The next time you decide to badmouth your teacher or even disrespect that noble profession which builds leaders for tomorrow, think twice and look in the mirror real hard. Your teacher could be a secret CIA agent or a king of some tiny Pacific kingdom in disguise or even an alien! I know that there are some teachers who are undedicated and couldn’t give a damn about their students but in any profession, there are bound to be black sheep. So are you still thinking your teacher is a dumb and slow person? Well, if you were that smart, you wouldn’t be in school in the first place, right?
 

Gokusen

Bleach

January 15, 2010

Here is another long running popular anime series that I am currently watching but decided to blog part of it first before my frail memory fails me. Urm… I think it already did. Now, when Bleach first came out as an anime in late 2004, I didn’t have any interest in watching this series because well, I wasn’t interesting. At that time I thought it wouldn’t suit my taste or anime genre. However when the local TV station decided to air it with original Japanese audio, my inner gut told me there was no harm trying.
 
Though the TV station has at a point stopped airing the continuity of the series and opted to rerun from start again (recently I checked back, it is back on track but that is like soooo long ago compared to where the anime is now), ever since I have gone watching the series at my own pace and have caught up with the latest story arc. Tite Kubo, the creator and author of the series must have done something right at the right place and at the right time to have garnered many fans like One Piece and Naruto. While there is no end in sight as the series has around 250 episodes as of now, if you’re the kind who likes shonen type of animes, it is hard to pass this one up.
 
So like many shonen genres out there, our main teenager Ichigo Kurosaki is a normal 15 year old kid when he obtains the powers of a Shinigami (literally means Death God but translated as Soul Reaper) and battle ferocious monsters known as Hollows (mainly because they have a gaping hole somewhere on their body and a skull mask). Boy gets powers, meets friends and foes alike, battles them, powers up and obtains his own unique powerful technique, meets more enemies and the cycle repeats again. Ichigo may be a delinquent but he isn’t hardcore as he too has his own values and principals which he strongly believes in. A must for every main hero. Just like many animes out there, which one isn’t without its terms and jargons. I wouldn’t say Bleach is very heavy in its terminology that one will get a headache trying to recall them, but it is enough to keep fans and normal viewers like me understand the concept of the series. For instance, each Shinigami has their own unique sword called Zanpakutou and they can transform into a more devastating weapon packing enough devastating power if they perform a Shikai or ultimately a Bankai. Then you have that presence thingy called reiatsu. The greater that character is, the greater his/her reiatsu is as you can see the screen like some sort of ‘heavy interference’.
 
Another thing about this series is that it lacks any romance or chemistry between the main characters. You know, a healthy guy and a girl their age, get what I mean? Though there are hints, but it isn’t conclusive enough. Probably the producers want to concentrate it as a more supernatural action adventure. Protecting Earth and human souls come first. Love can wait. Haha. Sure, would you have time to save those 3 magical words when a horde of Hollows come swarming in? And should I mention the amount of blood that the characters bleed during battles? Not to say profusely but each time they get knocked by an awesome blast, for example their foreheads will be dripping with them. Do they have very fast reproduction of red blood cells? Besides the adventure, expect some comical moments to ease the tension. Can’t expect to be serious all the time, eh? I’ll be keeping my blog brief as usual so if you really like more information, there are tons of them over the internet. Try Wikipedia for starters.
 
The Substitute Shinigami Arc
Ichigo’s life takes a drastic turn when a Shinigami who is supposed to watch this Karakura Town, Rukia Kuchiki, bestows him her Shinigami powers to help rid of the Hollow menace. Did I mention that this Ichigo kid can see ghosts too? Ghosts as in Hollows. Normal people can’t see them though they are there but when Hollows attack, you can see their effects in the real world. How the heck did that crater got there? Anyway Rukia sees a potential in him since her powers are weakened. Rukia also enrols in Ichigo’s class to keep an eye from him. She does this by using a gigai (faux body). We are also introduced to Ichigo’s other classmates and pals who will later fight alongside him. They are the busty Orihime Inoue (later on she’ll possess some fairy-like situation-rejection powers), the half-Mexican half-Japanese Yasutora "Chad" Sado (later on will possess a unique ability which gives him super strength via his right arm) and the bespectacled Uryuu Ishida who is a Quincy (unlike Shinigamis, they kill Hollows outright rather than freeing them and use arrows made from spirit particles). Then there is that perverted stuff toy named Kon. Because Ichigo has to become a Shinigami, he has to leave his body and that means his real body will be unconscious. So by using a modified soul like Kon, at least other people won’t think he’s dead or just sleeping in the streets. Till Kon wrecks havoc with his real body, that is. Otherwise that Rukia-loving stuff toy is just as annoying and his existence is merely for comical purpose. Then there’s the cunning and mysterious shop owner Kisuke Urahara and his assistants (includes big guy wearing an apron Tessai Tsukabishi, a naughty kid Jinta Harakiri and a meek girl Ururu Tsumugiya). They provide Ichigo and his allies information or some weird technological devices whenever needed.
 
Rescue Rukia Arc
However the captain of the 13 Gotei squad, Byakuya and his vice captain, Renji, comes to the real world to take Rukia back for punishment for staying too long in this world and giving her powers to a mortal. Her punishment is a death execution back at Seireitei, Soul Society. Where’s that? You see, when people in this world die, their spirits go to that place. It’s just like another world, believe me. And in this Soul Society, Seireitei is the centre where the 13 powerful protection squads called 13 Gotei reside and govern. As expected, Ichigo can’t let Rukia die like that even if she’s submitted to her fate. So he undergoes training from Urahara (like facing his inner spirit and Zanpakutou, Zangetsu and his other inner self which is a Hollow) and along with Orihime, Ishida, Chad and Shihouin Yoruichi (an ex-secret corps member taking a cat form), they head to Seireitei to rescue her. And time is running out.
 
We are also introduced to the members of the 13 Gotei squad. Each of them with colourful appearances and characteristics. Here’s a brief look at them:
1st Division captain: Shigekuni Yamamoto Genryuusai (an old fart but don’t underestimate him. He’s damn powerful. That’s why he is number 1); vice captain: Chojirou Sasakibe.
2nd Division captain: Soifon (may look tomboyish but she’s a tough girl); vice captain: Marechiyou Omaeda (some big guy who’s interested in stuffing his face with food).
3rd Division captain: Gin Ichimaru (always smiling. Such sinister grin…); vice captain: Izuru Kira (looking depress and regretful most of the time).
4th Division captain: Retsu Unohana (note her intertwining locks); vice captain: Isane Kotetsu (a little tall for an average lady).
5th Division captain: Sousuke Aizen (looks like a nice understanding guy); vice captain: Momo Hinamori (this easy-going girl is always looking up to her captain).
6th Division captain: Byakuya Kuchiki (at first I thought his hair accessories were popiah rolls. Forgive me); vice captain: Renji Abarai (a crude guy. He and Rukia know each other).
7th Division captain: Sajin Komamura (why does he wear a basket on his head? To hide his fox face, that is – no not a type error for fox, mind you); vice captain: Tetsuzaemon Iba (this loud guy is always wearing sunglasses).
8th Division captain: Shunsui Kyouraku (what’s with this flower-power hippie guy anyway? Oh yeah. He’s a womaniser); vice captain: Nanao Ise (more serious than her captain by comparison).
9th Division captain: Kaname Tousen (a blind guy. I thought he is some reggae guy because of his hairstyle); vice captain: Shuuhei Hisagi (a 69 tattoo on his face?).
10th Division captain: Toushirou Hitsugaya (a kid); vice captain: Rangiku Matsumoto (a busty bombshell who is carefree and lazy).
11th Division captain: Kenpachi Zaraki (mean looking guy. Pointy hairstyle?); vice captain: Yachiru Kusajishi (little girl who is too cheerful. Sometimes I wonder if she knows what is going on).
12th Division captain: Mayuri Kurotsuchi (is he some sort of alien?); vice captain: Nemu Kurotsuchi (introverted girl).
13th Division captain: Juushirou Ukitake (always sick and coughing); vice captain: Currently nil. Previously it was Kaien Shiba but he died.
 
Of course busting into the tightly guarded Seireitei isn’t a walk through the tulips. So Yoruichi enlists the help of some fireworks specialists Kuukaku Shiba and her brother Ganju to blast their way into Seireitei from the top, even if there’s a powerful barrier. So once they break in, the gang got separated. See some cool fights like Ichigo taking on 13th Division 3rd seat bald guy Ikkaku Madarame while Ganju against the same division’s 5th seat pretty boy Yumichika Ayasegawa (what’s with his eyebrows anyway?!). After their victory, 4th Division 4th seat Hanatarou Yamada helps them to find their way to Rukia. Seireitei is a very big place, you know. Soon Ichigo faces Renji and battles him. Since the latter lost, he pleads to Ichigo to save Rukia (don’t want to bore you with flashback details). Chad’s first battle has him up against Kyouraku but he lost in an instant. Elsewhere Ishida takes on Mayuri and beats the latter with the skin of his teeth. I guess he is worn out after that battle because Ishida is then captured by Tousen.
 
Amidst the chaos, another new development has arisen. Hinamori to her horror finds Aizen murdered and evidence point to the culprit as Hitsugaya though he knows he is being set up. Ichigo is close to where Rukia is held captive but meets Zaraki as his next opponent. This eye-patch guy loves fighting so it’s no surprise he is enjoying every strike and blow he has with Ichigo. Then Ichigo’s Zanpakutou breaks and Ichigo undergoes another inner self fighting before he gets a renewed Zanpakutou. His fight with Zaraki continues and though Ichigo collapses, Zaraki feels that it is Ichigo’s win because he too collapses. Ganju reaches to Rukia but is faced with Byakuya and is easily defeated. While Hitsugaya duels Gin, whom he believed is behind Aizen’s murder, Zaraki agrees to help Orihime and the rest (all recuperating in a cell) find Ichigo so he could fight him once more. Even between the Shinigami captains, some don’t like each other. For instance, Tousen and Komamura believe Zaraki is evil and fights him.
 
At that time, Rukia’s execution is about to be staged. Ichigo arrives in time to stop the execution. Kyouraku and Ukitake also helped and since Genryuusai didn’t like it, he is going to teach them both a lesson. While Renji takes Rukia and makes a run for it, Ichigo battles Byakuya and his sakura scattering Bankai. Hitsugaya and Matsumoto conduct their investigation at Central 46 Chambers (the central government of Soul Society and their rule is absolute, right or wrong) and find each one of them is slain. They are shocked to see Aizen is still alive and that he has faked his death. So the truth is revealed as everyone else put aside their internal squabble to face this new menace. Aizen along with Gin and Tousen are planning to retrieve some orb called Hougyoku so that he could obtain the powers of the Hollow. That orb is in Rukia and everything from the start was perfectly planned. Aizen and the duo are rescued by Hollows back to Hueco Mundo (just like Soul Society but where Hollows reside).
 
Bount Arc
Considered as a filler arc, after settling everything that needs to in Soul Society, Ichigo and his pals return to their world but a new threat arises. Three modified souls, Lilin, Cloud and Nova are imposing the gang through some trial. In the end it is just some test collaborated with Urahara to gauge their abilities. This is to prepare them to battle new threat in the form of Bounts led by Jin Kariya. Bounts are a small group of immortals that have been ostracized by society and as contrast to a Shinigami’s Zanpakutou, Bounts have Dolls instead as their weapon. Initially everyone thought the Bounts were going to Hueco Mundo but their original plan is to enter Soul Society to get their revenge on their creators. Yup, you guessed it. Some failed experiment from some Shinigami, Ran Tao. Furthermore, there is an ex-Shinigami from the 11th Division squad, Maki Ichinose, who is on the Bounts’ side. So Ishida was abducted because his Quincy power is able to open a portal to Soul Society. Something like that. I don’t remember if Ishida had feelings for that kind Bount Yoshino but anyway she sacrificed herself. So Jin and his remaining Bounts break into Soul Society and mouth watering clashes include Zaraki against Maki, Soifon vs Mabashi, Mayuri battling Sawatari, Ishida duelling Yoshi and the final boss match which pits Ichigo against Jin. While Hitsugaya took on Kouga, he spared his life because he went easy on the other Shinigamis and he had no killing intent. All is well, ends well. Sort of.
 
Arrancar Arc
While we learn Ichigo and Ishida’s dads are ex-Shinigami and Quincy respectively, a group of Vizards pay Ichigo a visit. At the same time, a powerful group of Hollows dubbed the Arrancars arrive in the real world. Now the flavour of this series is getting to have some Latin and Spanish flavour. For instance, the names of some Arrancars are hard to pronounce, hard to spell and thus hard to remember. How do you remember names like Ulquiorra or Grimmjow Jeagerjacques. What’s that again? The Arrancars under Aizen’s rule are as powerful as their Shinigami’s counterpart and even some of the captains of the Shinigami have a tough time before defeating them. And these Arrancars aren’t the powerful and main ones yet called Espada. The Espada just like the Shinigami have their own rankings, weapons and powers which are like mirrors of the Shinigami. It’s like being called another name, that’s all. So Ichigo gets another round of training of Hollowfication from the Vizards (ex-Shinigamis who are able to control their Hollow self) so that he could control his inner Hollow and use it as an advantage against the Arrancar. Ichigo has to. Because he is the hero, duh! We also learn that Aizen’s other goal is to gather the 100,000 souls in order to make a key and open another portal to assassinate some king. Wait a minute? There is another world? So I guess this king is what we believed to be God, eh? Whatever. Anyway, where is he going to find such a large concentration of souls at 1 place? Ah, Karakura Town has that requirement. So while preparing for the ultimate showdown with Aizen and his Arrancar, for the time being, Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, Madarame and Yumichika are sent to the real world to investigate the irregular movements of the Hollow and Arrancar (damn filler episodes).
 
Aizen is one scheming guy because he sends Ulquiorra to kidnap Orihime and bring her to Hueco Mundo and use her time reversing ability to heal the deteriorating Hougyoku. Orihime has to or else she will put her pals in danger. Even if Genryuusai disallows Ichigo to go rescue her (after Rukia, it’s Orihime’s turn, eh?), Ichigo remains stubborn and together with Ishida and Chad (after their power up training, that is) embark on another rescue mission and arrive at the monochrome desert which is Hueco Mundo and towards Las Noches, the headquarters of the Arrancar and supposedly where Orihime is held. The gang also meet a little Arrancar kid, Nel and her bungling and comical followers Pesche and Dondochakka. Rukia and Renji also come to Hueco Mundo to help Ichigo. Due to an attack from a Hollow, the gang find themselves lost in a forest of Grand Menos (another type of Hollow). They find a Shinigami, Ashido who has been living there for who knows when as he aides them through and safely out of the forest. When they arrive at Las Noches, they split up in search of Orihime.
 
Cool fights pits the good guys against Privaron Espada (former Espada but was demoted) as warm up matches like Ichigo against Dordonii, Ishida duelling Cirucci and Chad taking on Mosqueda. Rukia goes up against 9th ranked Espada, Aaroniero playing mind games with her using memories of Kaien to weaken her. In the end, they both killed each other. Well, it seemed that way. Renji on the other hand finds himself dealing with 8th ranked Espada, Szayel Aporro. Ishida comes to his aid once his fight is over. However Chad is not so lucky because he is being gravely injured by 5th ranked Espada, Nnoitra soon after. Then it is the grudge match against Ichigo and Grimmjow. After a hard fought battle with his panther-like transformation, Ichigo wins.
 
Rurichiyo Arc
I can’t believe they have got the guts to put a long filler when the exciting Arrancar isn’t over yet! WTF?! Basically this arc has the 3rd Division squad receiving a new captain called Shuusuke Amagai and his long time partner, Makoto Kifune. He’s such a nice guy and understanding guy as he tries to understand and fit in with the rest. Elsewhere some noble princess Rurichiyo Kasumi and her guardians Kenryuu and Enryuu (this guy has no speeches – because much later you’ll find out his voice is shrieky and so girly! Better to keep quiet, eh?) enter Karakura Town and become Ichigo’s transfer student because they are impressed of how he defeated a Hollow. So the plot also has some guy Goukaku Kumoi who is one of the servants under Kasumi family and is planning to assassinate Rurichiyo, the last true descendant of the family. He also created several illegal weapons called Bakkoutou. Something like a Zanpakutou but they consume the user’s life force like a parasite gradually. Kumoi sends assassins to get the job done but Ichigo and pals stood in their way.
 
Rurichiyo then decides to go back to Soul Society alone to stop Kumoi but she becomes under Kumoi’s spell as he prepares her wedding to a boy, Shuu as part of his plans. So Ichigo and Rukia have to go back to Soul Society to save her. He tries to stop the wedding but was misinterpreted as a threat. Now he’s a fugitive. Thankfully, Amagai believes in him. Kira is also conducting his investigations and finds Kifune is working for Kumoi. He beats him and with evidence that Kumoi is doing something illegal, Genryuusai orders to move in. Kumoi takes Rurichiyo as hostage but is killed by Amagai. But wait, Amagai is actually the true culprit and has orchestrated everything. Oh yeah. Deja vu just like Aizen’s case. But instead of becoming a Hollow or destroying something, Amagai has a grudge against Genryuusai and he took the long way to work his way into Gotei 13. Something about he believed his dad was killed by Genryuusai because he was investigating the Bakkoutou. Of course Amagai has his power battle with Ichigo and Genryuusai and eventually realized that he is wrong (his dad was being consumed by the Bakkoutou so Genryuusai had no choice but to kill him). Before Amagai dies, he apologize especially to Kira and in the end, Rurichiyo decides not to run from her responsibility and takes her position as head of her family.
 
Shinigami VS Arrancar Arc
Yes! The tantalizing battles are back. Ichigo is tired after his victory over Grimmjow but Nnoitra turns up to battle him. Then Nel joins in the battle as we learn she was an ex-Espada ranked number 3 but was thought to be discarded away with her servants by Nnoitra and Szayel Aporro. Just before Nel could land the finishing blow, she turns back into her chibi kid self. And before Nnoitra could order his servant Tesla to kill them, Zaraki appears and kills him. Yeah, some of the Shinigami are in Hueco Mundo to help out. A long battle between Zaraki and Nnoitra who powers up to some mantis. On the other hand, Byakuya takes on 7th Ranked Espada, Zommari who was about to finish unconscious Rukia. But you know, he is no match for him. Unohana, Isane and Hanatarou are here to help heal the injured, regardless of whether friend or foe as long as they are still breathing. Elsewhere, Mayuri and Nemu have a battle among scientists with Szayel Aporro. No prize to guess who wins in the end. After the battle ends, Aizen activates his plan to invade Karakura Town. It seems his plan to abduct Orihime and heal Hougyoku is just a distraction to halve the strength of Gotei 13. With some of them in Las Noches, he locks them in. However Aizen, Gin and Tousen finds that the real Karakura Town has been replaced with an artificial town and that Genryuusai and the other 13 Gotei captains and vice captains are waiting for him. Yeah, they transported the real town and put all its sleeping inhabitants temporarily at Soul Society? Can they do that? Well, it beats fighting without a background setting, right? Aizen is bent on beating them all to carry out his plans as he summons his top 3 Espadas: Starkk, Barragan and Harribel.
 
The Pendulum Swings Back Arc
This arc tells how the Vizards came to be. 5th Division captain was Shinji Hirako when Aizen was his vice captain then. Also, Yoruichi was the captain of 2nd Division while Urahara has been newly promoted as 12th Division captain. A series of events which leads to several Shinigamis disappearing has Genryuusai assigning some of the captain and vice captains of Gotei 13 to investigate. They include Shinji, Kensei Mugurama (9th Division captain), the airhead Mashiro Kuna (9th Division vice captain), Love Aikawa (7th Division captain), Roujuurou Otoribashi AKA Rose (3rd Division captain), Hiyori Sarugaki (12th Division vice captain), Lisa Yadomaru (8th Division vice captain) and Hachigen Ushouda (Tessai’s assistant of Kidou corps). To their horror, they find Aizen experimenting with Hollowfication as they all partly turn into menacing Hollows. To make things matter, Urahara and Tessai were framed and since those stuck up Central 46 aren’t listening, Yoruichi busts in to save them as they take refuge in the real world with the 8 Shinigamis that underwent Hollowfication.
 
Shinigami VS Arrancar Arc Part II (Fake Karakura Town Arc)
In Las Noches, Ichigo prepares to take on Ulquiorra and save Orihime but that is not going to happen so soon yet as the battle is heating up at the fake Karakura Town. When Genryuusai temporarily seals Aizen, Gin and Tousen in his barrier of fire, Barragan assumes command and orders his servants to take out the 4 pillars. His theory is that the real town will return back here if those pillars are destroyed. However, they are not unguarded. Yumichika takes on Charlotte Cuulhourne in a battle of beauty (disgusting!), Kira against birdman Avirama and Hisagi duels Findor. They all emerge victorious except for Ikkaku who lost against Poww (because he held back his powers as not to reveal his Bankai). So Komamura and Iba had to interfere and that fox guy shows him his true powers of his Bankai. Barragan is upset of his servants’ failure so his remaining 2 servants, Vega and Nirgge go take on Soifon and Omaeda respectively. Unfortunately they lost too. As Kyouraku fights Starkk (Ukitake sitting out and wouldn’t fight Starkk’s kid servant Lilynette), Hitsugaya battles Harribel while Matsumoto has her hands full with 3 of Harribel’s servants: Apache, Mila Rose and Sun-sun. Hinamori returns to lend Matsumoto a hand but the trio combine their powers to unleash a powerful beast, Allon. They got injured and even with Hisagi and Kira’s help, it wasn’t enough. The best part is when Genryuusai moves in to destroy the beast in 2 blows. Awesome! Respect! No wonder he is number 1. Then in another single slash, he burns the 3 charging Arrancar ladies. Total respect, man.
 
Zanpakutou Arc
WTF?! Another stretch of filler episodes?! This is going to be a drag. After a fanservice beach-swimsuit and high school filler arc, the Zanpakutou arc itself is interesting. But I wish they would finish the Arrancar one first before doing this. Anyway this arc has the Shinigamis in panic because a Zanpakutou guy named Muramasa leads and unleashes the souls of all their Zanpakutous as they take on a physical form. They are rebelling against their masters in their newfound freedom. What would they do without their power weapons? How will they fight back? Fighting against your own weapon seems ironic. That’s what you get when you rely on them so much. Furthermore, Genryuusai is missing and Muramasa claims he has been ‘sealed’ while Byakuya goes missing after fighting his own Zanpakutou. Another chaos and havoc thrown into Seireitei as the shocked Shinigamis try to understand what is happening and to overcome them. Ichigo isn’t spared too when he comes to Soul Society. Of course Muramasa is intrigued with Ichigo’s Hollow side and tries tempting it to his side but Hollow Ichigo is wild. Then Muramasa has Zangetsu fight against Ichigo in another power battle. After seeing enough, he escapes. Zangetsu is grateful to Ichigo for saving him as they learn how Muramasa has the ability to amplify all the Zanpakutous follow their instinct. Soon some of the Shinigamis face and battle their own Zanpakutou to return them under their control or if not, just killed them off. Byakuya then reappears and seems to be aligned with Muramasa (he even killed Rukia’s Zanpakutou to show his loyalty!), throwing Soul Society into further chaos. He claims he is protecting his pride. What pride? Of course an all-out attack from the Zanpakutous as ordered by Muramasa but our Shinigamis overcomes them.
 
Soon Genryuusai is found hidden in a cave inside a barrier so Muramasa uses Ichigo’s Getsuga Tenshou to destroy it. In a Bleach’s style of twist, we learn that Muramasa is planning to resurrect his master Kouga, whom several hundred years ago was a rising Shinigami under Byakuya’s dad, Ginrei, and his son-in-law. Of course he was framed by some jealous nobles and was stripped and imprisoned before he broke out, when on a rampage to the extend of killing innocent people and then sealed by the commander himself with Ginrei. You thought Muramasa had killed his master? Yep, he lied. Seems Muramasa wanted to enter Genryuusai’s mind to unlock the seal which he placed on Kouga in the real world. Therefore, Genryuusai cut off himself from all communications from the rest of the world in order to prevent Muramasa into entering his mind. Ichigo feeling guilty goes to stop Muramasa who has a head start. Thankfully, Muramasa encountered a little resistance in the form of Orihime, Ishida and Chad before Ichigo arrives. But too late, Kouga has been revived. In yet another twist, Kouga stabs Muramasa, claiming he didn’t come to his aid when he was about to be sealed. Yeah, after all the centuries, Kouga still has that high and mighty attitude, thinking his lowly Zanpakutou is just a tool to serve him. So an epic battle is expected when Byakuya arrives. Seems he and his Zanpakutou has been pretending all along so that he could find and kill Kouga and protect the pride of his family clan. I guess Byakuya fans can heave a sigh of relief that he didn’t turn into a baddie after all. Pfft. How could he?
 
Bleached…
So far this is where I am now and of course due to my curiosity of wanting to know how it all ends (especially the Arrancar arc. Damn it! Just show them finish already!), I’ll be following this series for the many episodes to come. I know that putting filler episodes within the Arrancar arc is so that the producers could have enough time to gather more material but this is really annoying. If it wasn’t for the cool fights between the various characters, I wouldn’t have stick around for this long. Don’t say those flashback episodes. They aren’t as irritating as putting a filler episode right smack in the middle of an important arc.
 
While watching this series as it goes by, I can’t help but wonder a few stuff myself. Like for instance, if people die and go to Soul Society, where would their souls go if they die there again? I mean, it is true that I have seen people die there. Is there another Soul Society or dimension for that? Plus, Soul Society is just like any place on Earth in terms of discrimination and prejudice. You can find them just about in any corner of some dark small alley or even the authorities. Like you need such a thing when you go to the after world. Well, it is no heaven anyway. Speaking of which, it is briefly mentioned though not in detail that hell does exists and it is not Hueco Mundo either. Are they 2 sets of different worlds existing together or parallel dimensions? Then there are all those ‘useless’ but numerous Shinigami subordinates. I wonder how they got to be part of the squad since they’re like whipping boys in the sense that though they outnumbered a great rival, they get taken out and easily overwhelmed.
 
Then there is the case of some characters being redundant. For instance after the Bount arc, Lilin, Nova and Cloud’s presence felt like can be done without. It’s like they’re just bumming around and the help they provide is so insignificant. Same case for Kon. What happened to Ganju after the rescue Rukia arc too? Then there are those characters which provide for filler episodes like that weird but popular spirit medium Don Kanonji, Rukia’s Shinigami replacement for Karakura Town (some afro guy whose name I can’t remember), Ichigo’s sisters Yuzu and Karin, his classmates the goofy Keigo and the calm Mizuiro and Orihime’s pals the tomboyish Tatsuki and lesbian Chizuru. I guess with so many characters, a filler episode is necessary so as not to let viewers forget about them. Like I said, can’t have action all the way. I like the various designs of the characters’ weapons and in their different forms. It gives them a unique shape of their own though I find that most of them have just 2 or 3 moves. But that is to be expected when you have too many characters. So for Ichigo’s ultimate Getsuga Tenshou move in his Bankai form, that is about it and if he is not using this move, he’s just like slashing and swinging his sword. Aside the swords, I also think that Ishida’s Quincy arrow-like powers are quite cool and awesome itself.
 
Masaku Morita, a rookie seiyuu voices Ichigo nicely. But I kinda noticed that if he isn’t talking or scolding, he is like screaming whether he is giving or receiving pain. What do you expect from a teen full of angst? Fumiko Orikasa as Rukia certainly doesn’t sound like her other anime roles like Miu of Ichigo Mashimaro and Himeko of Pani Poni Dash. She sounds so crude here. Other casts include Yuki Matsuoka as Orihime (Osaka in Azumanga Daioh), Noriaki Sugiyama as Ishida (Sasuke in Naruto), Hiroki Yasumoto as Chad (Justice in Doujin Work), Satsuki Yukino as Yoruichi (Kagome in Inu Yasha), Shinichiro Miki as Urahara (Takumi of Initial D) and Kentarou Itou as Renji (Shuhei in Soul Link). Yeah I know, a long series has got to have a long list of seiyuu. Some doing multiple characters for different story arcs. Well, like you can really tell unless you really listen closely to each of them especially those side characters. So it may take a while if I were to list it here so I’m giving an excuse that it is more fun to find them out by yourself. As there are many openings and twice as many ending themes, not all are to my liking. They may range from slow pop to hip-hop to fast rock. Those which seems okay to me include D-technolife by UVERworld (2nd opening), Life Is Like A Boat by Rie Fu (1st ending), Houkiboshi by Younha (3rd ending), Life by YUI (5th ending), My Pace by Sunset Swish (6th ending), Sakura Biyori by Mai Hoshimura (10th ending), Tane Wo Maku Hibi by Atari Kousuke (13th ending), Kansha by Real Street Project (14th ending) and Hitohira No Hanabira by Stereo Pony (17th ending). There is one background music which is my favourite. That is the cool acoustic and calm Going Home. Yeah, I have mastered that song on my guitar. While the other background music varies to fit the scene, I noticed for the Arrancar arc, the background music takes on a more Latin flavour.
 
On a trivial note, I like the variety and different designs of each of the episode numbers. While some may be plain, there are some which are creative and imaginative. However, I don’t remember seeing the episode title anywhere. Is it in the opening and ending theme which I often skip? At the end of the next episode preview, there will be a short comical section called Shinigami Illustration Book Golden. It does not relate anyhow to the actual storyline as it pokes fun at several issues based on the characters’ personality and such. The best one I remember so far was all the captain and vice captains having tea while watching the beautiful moon. Then the ‘moon’ turned out to be Ikkaku’s bald head and they made him do it. Haha! During the Arrancar arc, this section is at times replaced by Arrancar Encyclopaedia hosted by Gin (telling about the terms and other stuff relating to Arrancars), Substitute Shinigami Diary (daily errands of Ichigo via Rukia’s horrible sketch drawing – bunnies?) and a Zanpakutou corner (narratives of the characteristics of the Zanpakutou).
 
As the manga is still currently ongoing with the anime, the popularity of this series has also spawned several movies, soundtrack albums, video games, guide books and even trading cards. Then to my surprise, I read on Wikipedia that the series has also been adapted to a musical play! Holy crap! Fancy seeing a Shinigami fighting a Hollow while singing? That is sure going to be an odd combination. Of course with such a huge success, it has won several awards in Japan and internationally. I’m still thinking why this anime title is called so. Does somebody have a fetish over some chemical whitener? Or when one watches or reads too much of the anime or manga, he/she becomes pale as in bleached. Yeah, too many sword clashing battles can make your mind so.
 
If I were to create an own Gotei 13 squad, it would be squad number zero! Comical Division captain Chua Tek Ming at your service! My Shikai is my Bankai, Bokemaru and it makes people laugh therefore unable to carry on fighting! Hey, laughter is the best medicine. Oh uh. I sense some dissent among Bleach purists. Don’t take it to heart. Just joking. It’s not like I insult your favourite captains (from the last I read, Byakuya and Ukitake being the most popular). So what happens if you chance upon a Hollow for real? A) Stand there and get devoured; B) Run like hell; C) Try and fight back; D) Call a Shinigami. Taking A) is succumbing to your loser fate while B) and C) most likely gets you ended up as in A). Don’t bother option D) because everyone is busy fighting the Arrancar. So what choice is left? E) Continue watching Bleach and find out. Hopefully there will be an answer and end.
 

Bleach

K-ON!

January 9, 2010

MIO ROCKS! MIO IS KAWAII! MIO IS MOE! MIO IS MINE! HAHAHA!!! Before I turn this blog into a worship space for Mio, let me just take a deep breath and return to my blog on the anime series K-ON! If you fancy a little slice of life comedy about a group of cute girls forming a band of their own during their high school years, then this is the show for you.
 
So what does the title K-ON! exactly mean? Well, when I first Googled the word, it yielded lots of results from that perverted stuff toy from the anime series Bleach. Yeah, nearly exactly the same name, huh? The name K-ON! is short for ‘kei ongaku’ which literally means light music. However this is not to be mistaken as the Western’s version of light music which basically is a ‘lighter’ orchestra version rather than the full grandeur of a typical symphony. In Japan, light music is equivalent to what we all know as pop music. Hey, compared to heavy metal or punk, it is considered light, right? Right.
 
One of our main heroines is no other than Yui Hirasawa. In episode 1, she has just graduated from middle high and is looking forward to her first day in high school. Thing is, she got up late. Ah yes. Viewers can guess she is the airhead and klutz which makes this whole series fun. You can’t help love her clumsiness and short attention span. Thankfully because of her more responsible little sister, Ui, and her best childhood friend, Nodoka Manabe, Yui gets by. Without them, I shudder to think what would happen to her. So theoretically they have to be around her forever if they want her to lead a less troublesome life. I said less, not free of them. Being the carefree airhead she is, Yui is still pondering which club to join. And it has already been 2 weeks since school started. Still thinking, thinking and thinking. Don’t think too hard. Elsewhere, K-ON! Club’s remaining members, Mio Akiyama and Ritsu Tainaka are devastated to learn from their teacher Sawako Yamanaka that because the seniors have graduated and if a club has less than 4 members, it will be abolished. And the deadline is in a month’s time. Yui then comes in as requested by Sawako to hand notes to her class but Yui spots Mio and Ritsu staring at her so she starts to panic and become klutzy as she drops the stack of paper. Yeah, bad tempo and useless girl, they say. Ritsu unofficial announces that she will become the president of the club though Mio thinks of joining the literature club, Ritsu ‘forces’ her to stay on by tearing her literature club application form.
 
In the club room, Ritsu desperately waits for any new member to join when a girl, Tsumugi Kotobuki comes in lost as she is seeking the choir club she wants to join. Ritsu uses her desperate and intimidating pleas to beg Tsumugi to join. Mio wishes Ritsu not to force people to join the club but she exaggerates their promise to form a rock band after watching a live concert (yup, Mio was forced into it too). Oh wait, all that was made up too. Because Tsumugi finds them interesting, she decides to join. Just like that? Oh yeah, the hell with the choir club. Ritsu on drums, Mio plays the bass and Tsumugi the keyboardist. Now they just need one more. Elsewhere Yui is still thinking about which club to join when she chances upon a poster of the K-ON! Club. She thinks that the light music they play such as castanets. Yeah, anyone can play that too. With that, she tells Nodoka with full enthusiasm that she’ll be joining this club. But the poster says they’re looking for a guitarist… Yui arrives at the club room and the rest has great expectations of her as a great guitarist. Now she can’t back out. Furthermore, Yui knows nuts about guitar. So when Yui decides to tell the truth and on the verge of leaving, the rest become desperate to keep her. Since Tsumugi is a rich girl, she has baked delicious cookies and cookies coupled with fine tea sets for their tea. Yui can’t lie to them anymore so she cries and apologizes for raising their hopes. That’s when the trio decide to demonstrate. In the end, though Yui honestly says that though they aren’t that good, she finds it fun and joins the club, much to their delight. They’re not dreaming, you know. Even Nodoka can’t believe it that she actually joined a club. Since Yui can’t play the guitar, the rest will teach her step by step. Where to get a guitar? Anyone she could borrow from? Nope. Any guitar costing 5000 Yen? Yeah, Nodoka is worried for the club already. But at least it is saved from abolishment.
 
Now, viewers will wonder if the club is really what it’s called. I mean, instead of really practicing every day, everyone is like bumming around having snacks and tea courtesy of sweet and gentle Tsumugi. Maybe it’s the motivation to stick around. People can guess besides airhead Yui, Ritsu will be the cheeky one and the one responsible with many of the group’s antics so shy left hander girl Mio always have to keep her in line by giving her a good whack. Another reason viewers will find Mio moe is that she is afraid of scary stuffs. The slightest scary thing she hears, she will be cowering in fear and pretending that she did not hear them. A cue for Ritsu to continue bullying? Don’t pick on her! And if Yui may not be knowledgeable in the guitaring area, she has a hidden talent for it and some of her picking and power riffs could really surprise you. Surprise, surprise. A prodigy in the making? The next Jimi Hendrix?
 
So in episode 2 Yui finds out why the rest play their musical instruments like Ritsu doesn’t like to do finger work and Mio doesn’t like the attention if she plays the lead guitar. Next, they need to buy a guitar or their band can’t start off. Start saving now, Yui! That’s because the cheapest one will cost at least 50,000 Yen! Or you can break all your piggy banks and it still won’t be enough. Yui even got the guts to ask Ui to borrow some money. I hope she won’t resort to loan sharks. But Ui suggests an advance allowance from mommy. The day comes when Yui goes out with her club members to check out the guitars but they spend the day shopping instead. Finally they get into a music store and browse through the guitar section. Yui seems to take a liking for the Gibson electric guitar but it costs 250,000 Yen. Seeing that no other guitar will do, they agree to take part time jobs. It turned out to be counting traffic. I’m not so concern about Mio and Tsumugi but rather worried if Yui and Ritsu can pull through this. Their job seems to be a little occupational hazard because at the end, they unconsciously start counting clouds and their fingers automatically start tapping. Though they got their pay (nowhere close to their target), Yui decides to give them each their dues and will buy an affordable guitar instead. Everyone gathers at the music store again and they notice Yui still wants that Gibson. So Tsumugi haggles with the store clerk and brought it down to 50,000 Yen! How did she do it?! The employee recognizes Tsumugi as the daughter of the store owner! Her dad owns this store! Now we know why she’s so rich. Yui is thrilled with her new precious guitar and treats it real well. She sleeps with it… Of course everyone is excited now that their band is a whole but a few blunders from Yui since she is new in the area (like the deafening blast of the amp). Can they make it to their goal of playing at the live Budoukan? That will take a miracle.
 
Though Yui continues to practice her guitar in episode 3, she flops her mid-term exams. She deserves it because she didn’t study. However Yui takes pride that she can play a few chords now. She shouldn’t be happy yet. But what has that got to do with the club? Students who failed their exams will have to resit them and thus are forbid to participate in any club activities. Horror! And they just got started. However every time Yui starts her algebra study, she ends up playing her guitar or doing something else. The great temptation… In the end, she didn’t even get to study properly! Desperate Yui pleads to Mio for help so the gang goes to her home to help her in her studies after school. They are taken aback of Ui’s nice and mannered behaviour. Totally contrast from her sister! A total opposite! I don’t blame you if you have thoughts that they may not be related. Mio starts coaching Yui but bored Ritsu causes her mischief several times so much so pissed Mio have to get physical on her. And soon she just ignored her. Nodoka also comes by to help as they all get acquainted. They burn the midnight oil but Yui is feeling sleepy. I don’t know what that weird winter surviving dream was all about. The day of the retake arrives and Yui comes in looking very tired. Not good. Actually she scored 100 marks! WOW!!! Everyone is relieved and prepares to practice but to their dismay, Yui has forgotten the chords she learned! Because she studied too much algebra, she made up her own x and y chords. There are no such chords, girl! Classic one!
 
After Mio finds a tape of the previous club members in episode 4, she decides for them to go on a training camp for their summer break. Plus, Mio wants to play at their school’s festival. But Yui and Ritsu think of having fun only and even suggest doing a cafe or haunted house for the festival, only to get hit by Mio. The gang arrive at their destination for training camp: Tsumugi’s family villa. Woah! It’s bloody huge! Just how rich is this girl? As usual, Ritsu and Yui are interested in playing and even got into their swimming suits. Even if Mio tries to put her foot down that they’re here to practice, eventually she gives in. Hmm… A setup by the rest? Yeah, she’s still a girl who wants to have fun too. So the whole day they have their fun in the sun which includes Ritsu teasing Mio after she gets scared touching barnacles. When it is night time and time to practice, Ritsu and Yui are too tired to start and give excuses. Yeah, another reason to postpone and relax. Then I’m not sure if Mio saw an illusion of Yui playing a super mock live gig but she sure looked like the real deal. Mio then lets the rest hear the tape which plays out to be some horrifying scream. As Mio cowers in fear, Ritsu aggravates it so much so Mio cried. She sure has gone too far. Ritsu feels sorry but can’t help see how moe is when Mio shred tears (I agree!). The gang manage to practice before soaking in the open air hotspring. Next day, Ritsu comes back with the photos of their training stint and since there are only embarrassing photos of them, Mio shows her dark side and threatens Ritsu to hand over the negatives. But it’s a digital camera… I just hope everyone has gained something useful from the camp when they come back. Erm… Maybe not.
 
The gang learns that they’re not an established club yet in episode 5. As they go seek an explanation, they learn Nodoka is a member of the student council. Ritsu thinks it’s a conspiracy to destroy a small club but when Nodoka mentions the club request form, Mio gets pissed because Ritsu as the club president has that form she’s supposed to fill in but forgot. Yeah, it’s her club. In addition, they need to have an advisor. The likely teacher they’re targeting is Sawako and they’re sure persistent. Sawako turns down their offer since she is the advisor for the Wind Ensemble Club but when she gets to know that they have a photo album of the club’s past members, Sawako suddenly rushes down to the club, surpassing all obstacles in her way. However she couldn’t find the photo and it seems the girls were having it all along. Sawako has no choice but to admit that wild rocker girl in the photo is her and that she was a member of this club. Remember that horrifying voice in the tape? Yup, that’s her alright. What a big difference now and then. Oh wait, if you give her a guitar, she’ll transform into a rocker devil! Oh sh*t! Her tapping and strumming are awesome! She’s playing with her teeth too! She chides them for using the room too freely. Sawako then realizes and so she tells of her flashback story. It seems she confessed to a boy she liked but he like girls that are wild. So she started playing in a wilder manner until it is so absurd that he thinks she has gone overboard. So the quartet demonstrates in front of Sawako and she isn’t amused with them lacking lots of things. She starts questioning if they’re just hogging this room. Yup, tea time snacks… She even scolds them for not writing the lyrics for their song yet. So do they want her as their advisor? There’s nobody else, right? Not to mention Ritsu’s blackmailing to reveal her wild past. Sawako could’ve got even rowdier if Tsumugi didn’t calm her down with her cake. Ah, the tempting solution.
 
Mio writes the lyrics and the next day, Sawako and the rest have a look at it. Erm… Fluffy and puffy? Marshmallows? Hey, it’s better than all those profanity you hear in today’s songs, right? Though Ritsu is against the lyrics, Sawako thinks that if she accepts them, the girls will change their perception that she’s a nice teacher. That’s what she did so based on the decision of the majority, Mio’s lyrics is accepted. Now they need somebody to sing it. Mio is too shy while Tsumugi has her hands full with her keyboards. Yui is hinting that she wants to sing so much but I guess Ritsu is trying hard not to notice her till she is their last option left. However, Yui can only do 1 thing at a time. It’s either she sing or play the guitar only. With that, Sawako takes Yui to start on her special training. Don’t want to know what that is. Ritsu and Mio notice Tsumugi’s infatuation with Sawako because she’s been spacing out at certain times but Tsumugi clears the air and says she finds feelings between girls to be nice. Don’t tell me she’s a fujoshi… Yui comes back just in time after her special training for the school festival performance in a few days time. But it seems her voice is totally hoarse and horrible! Oh dear! After all that singing, her voice broke! This won’t do so Mio will have to sing. Mio goes into panic mode.
 
The day of the school festival arrives in episode 6. Mio thinks of one last practice before their turn but it seems they’re all busy. When they’re all done, they gather at the club for practice but Sawako shows up. She has made costumes for them to wear at their performance. And you thought this teacher couldn’t get any quirkier. Later, Mio attempts to persuade Ritsu to take over vocals as she would play both bass and drums. Like that would happen. Yui apologizes so Ritsu suggests doing a mock intro to ease the tension but gets hit by Mio for exaggerating. The hall is packed as it is their club’s turn to perform. As they start, Mio naturally sings the song Fuwa Fuwa Time (Fluffy Fluffy Time) and yeah, seems like they have a video fit for MTV. Wanted girls on the run in the American outback? Anyway they receive a great applause at the end of their song. As they make their exit, Mio trips on a wire, revealing her panties to the crowd. Back in the club room, everyone is delighted of their first performance and it seems Mio has her own fan club now (I want in too!). For the time being, let’s leave her alone because she’s broken. She’s thinking she’ll never get married? I bet there are many fans out there who are willing to do just that.
 
Episode 7 starts with a flashback of Yui and Ui. Ui wanted a White Christmas so the next day Yui showed her their lawn with ‘snow’ which turned out to be cotton from the cushion. In present time, Yui and Ui share their glove and scarf they have lost respectively on a cold winter day. Ritsu announces they’re doing a Christmas gig on Christmas Eve at Tsumugi’s place and tickets costing a 1000 Yen each. Like that will work. Tsumugi says her house is off limits since there are events every time and early booking is required. Eventually they settle for Yui’s home since her parents are going to Germany for holiday. Yui leaves Ui to do the cooking (it’s better that way because you don’t want over-burn and undercook food, right?) while everyone else goes to buy presents. They then try their luck at the lottery but could only manage tissues. Tsumugi’s incredible luck has her won a trip to Hawaii but she exchanges it for a board game so that everyone could play together. Later the girls gather and it seems Sawako unexpectedly shows up. Remember never to say the taboo word, "boyfriend" in front of her or else she’ll snap. She then tries to put on weird costumes on everyone especially Mio so when Nodoka comes by she thinks she has gotten the wrong house when she sees devilish Sawako trying to strip helpless Mio. So Nodoka did come in just in time for them to exchange presents. Sawako gets excited and she got a sucker punch present from Ritsu. Now she’s broken. Mio got Sawako’s horror DVD present (which she intended to give to her boyfriend. Oops, said it). Finally Yui and Ui got each other’s presents of a scarf and gloves. Then they do skits like Ui’s puppet show, Tsumugi’s impersonations, Mio reluctantly dressing up in a Santarina outfit and Sawako an unrefined act (maple leaf symbol on her tummy using her palm?). At the end of the day, Yui sleeps with Ui but hogs the blanket. New Year’s Day as everyone gathers for prayers at the shrine as they pray for better performance. Sawako’s luck isn’t getting any better by the way…
 
Ui is now a junior at Yui’s high school for the new school term in episode 8. Yui, Ritsu and Tsumugi are in the same class but Mio must be feeling screwed because she’s the only one in a different class. So when she learns Nodoka is the only person she knows in the same class, she instantly becomes her pal. With the new term means new club members recruitment. Sawako suggests they dress up in weird animal outfits for the drive. Enough to scare others away, I’d say. Ui’s classmate, Azusa Nakano receives a flyer from them and notes their weirdness. Ui takes her friend to see the K-ON! Club. It’s understandable if her friend is having doubts after seeing them in maid outfits (courtesy from you know who). Ui introduces her to the members and their advisor and soon they demonstrate a little performance in jerseys since their maid outfits make it too difficult to move around. Maybe her friend made the right decision not to join. Not even tea or cakes could tempt her. The weirdness is too great. So when Ui asks Yui what is the best thing about the club, her honest reply is that things are fun. The K-ON! Club are doing a performance for first year students’ orientation. Hmm… Take a look at the song titles they have to sing. Other than Fuwa Fuwa Time, there are Rice After Curry, My Love Is Like Staples and Ink Pen Ballpoint Pen. Ah, everyday objects. I think the lyrics will be fun. Azusa comes in the hall to watch the performance as the girls get on with their next song after a long winded speech from Yui. Since Yui forgot the opening lyrics, Mio instinctively got over her shyness and took over. At the end, everyone is waiting at the club anxiously for new members to come. Doesn’t seem like it when Azusa turns up and says she’ll join, much to their delight as Ritsu immediately accepts and pounds on her. I wonder if she realizes what she has gotten into.
 
Azusa plays the guitar and Yui seems to be getting that senpai thingy over her head in episode 9. Azusa demonstrates a little of her guitar skills and in short, she is much better than Yui! She wants to hear Yui play but the latter gave an excuse. As Azusa drops by the club, she learns of their quirkiness especially their time bumming around drinking tea and not practicing. Including Sawako. Azusa starts playing her guitar thinking this is some test but Sawako scolds her for being too noisy to enjoy her tea. Poor girl in tears. After Ritsu chides her, Mio comforts her but Azusa snaps and tells them off. Yui’s hug calms her down. The next time she comes by to practice, they give another excuse that they need their usual cake for energy to practice. They continue to goof around by suggesting Azusa put on cat ears and say "Nya~". Since they find her to be totally moe, Sawako now suggests to put on a maid costume. Now, that’s going too far. Mio must be relieved that they’re targeting the newcomer but why does she feel lonely? Mio feels that they need to buck up if they don’t want to lose Azusa so the rest misinterprets that they need to do a picnic. Azusa asks why Mio joined such a silly club and not other bands but Ritsu cuts them off with some blackmailing technique towards Mio. Soon everyone finally gets to practice after Mio puts her foot down. Should we be surprise if Yui still doesn’t know guitar terms and has Azusa teaching her some? After the short practice, it’s that long tea break again. That night, Azusa sees a band performance at a club and is confused even if these bands are much better than K-ON! Club. One day Azusa comes in to the club and the rest are worried she may be quitting. Azusa breaks down and says how she doesn’t understand them in the end even if she was in awe of their performance. Thus they perform so she could re-live those feelings again. Mio answers Azusa the reason she didn’t join any other band: Because it’s fun playing with them and that’s why their performances are good. Azusa gladly says she’ll perform with them. Everyone is happy but if Azusa thinks they’re going to start practice right away, she’s got to hold it in a little because Ritsu and Yui are back to their lethargic ways.
 
Azusa goes out with Ui on an outing in episode 10 and lets the latter know what it’s like being in this club. Since it is summer break, Ritsu thinks of having another training camp. She asks Sawako out of courtesy but I think they really don’t want to invite her along. Once again it is Tsumugi’s villa and yes, Ritsu and Yui feel like playing again. Mio and Azusa are bent on practicing so it’s down to Tsumugi. She votes to have fun. Damn. The usual fun till Azusa thinks they should all go practice. But she was the one who played the most. How do we know? She’s so tanned! Practice hits another snag when all hungry Ritsu can think of is to eat. After BBQ dinner and playing fireworks, Ritsu gets an idea of playing test of courage. You know what this means for Mio. Azusa and nervous Mio trudge through the dark forest when they see a ghostly figure heading towards them. And no, this isn’t Ritsu’s trick. A REAL GHOST?! Nope. It’s Sawako. She got lost on her way here. So she wanted to come, eh? Then the girls take a dip in a giant hot bath. Sawako shows another perverted side of hers as she says she can tell the difference between Mio and Azusa if she lets them touch their boobs. Hitting your teacher at this point is acceptable. That night, Azusa can’t sleep and sees Yui practicing alone so she goes to practice with her. Yui feels grateful to have met her so she hugs Azusa. When they come back, Ui gets the shock of her life when she doesn’t recognize tanned Azusa. So they get together and chat how the club members are like especially Yui whose hugs always feel warm.
 
It’s time for another school festival and in episode 11, the K-ON! Club girls are preparing for another performance. Sawako shows Azusa last year’s performance and saw the embarrassing thing that befell on Mio. But it seems Ritsu never learned her lesson because history is repeating itself when Nodoka comes by to remind them to fill in the registration form. However, they need to think of a name for their band, in which everyone has their own weird names and ideas. Then they notice Yui’s guitar strings are rusty so they take it to the music shop to service it. Even the employee is shocked at the guitar’s condition even if it’s just 1 year. After it’s done, Yui finds out that she has to pay for the service. Duh?! And she doesn’t have any money. However she is saved because the employees consider it their free service considering she is Tsumugi’s friend. Then Yui names her guitar… Geeta. Well, it’s better than John, Paul or George. Mio is totally absorbed in left handed bass guitars so when it’s time to leave, she doesn’t want to. A little tussle between her and Ritsu causes Mio to trip a little. Yui remembers a date with Nodoka so Mio eagerly wants to tag along but Ritsu doesn’t look happy. Ritsu and the rest spy on them before she barges into their conversation. Jealous, is she?
 
Then at practice, Ritsu continues to goof around so Mio isn’t amused. The duo get into a little argument so Azusa puts on cat ears to ease the tension. But practice is cut short when Ritsu just leaves the room. Then she didn’t turn up for several days in school and they think Mio is being cold towards her and Sawako wants Mio to go bring her back. But the festival performance is around the corner and Sawako is considering a replacement drummer if it doesn’t work out. However Tsumugi says only Ritsu will be their drummer and will wait till she returns. Mio visits Ritsu and finds that she is sick. She also says how she likes her energetic play and without her it feels lonely. They reconcile as the rest of the girls visit her. But that’s not the end of their troubles yet. Nodoka informs them that they haven’t turn in their form yet and the deadline has passed. So they all plead to the student council president to give more time since the president was sick and she agrees. As they discuss what their band name should be, since they’re going nowhere with all those weird names, Sawako gets annoyed and just decide and write it in herself: After School Tea Time. Very fitting, isn’t it?
 
Yui falls ill from the cold she gets from Ritsu in episode 12. As a backup plan, Azusa takes over the lead guitar. Suddenly Yui shows up for practice and as they do so, they notice something amiss about Yui. Her guitaring is too perfect! Then they notice how Yui calls them differently and that’s when Sawako points out she is Ui in disguise! Wow. She really looks like her sister. And you know how Sawako knew she was the fake? Ui’s boobs are larger than Yui’s! This teacher… So can Ui play the guitar? Well, she thought Yui how to and learned herself during the process. That sister of hers is sure useless. The real Yui shows up and claims she is okay. But she’s not because she can’t even lift Geeta. So Mio bans Yui from the club till she gets better and has Azusa practice in her stead. On the day of the festival, Yui isn’t here but Nodoka checks as though everyone is here. She then tells them a story how Yui once filled up her bathtub with lobsters (real life scary story! Oh Mio!). The point is, if she becomes interested in something, she can’t see anything else but it. Sawako comes in with costumes for the performance: Warm yukatas and Yui is wearing them. Looks like she is here. Azusa is relieved so Yui tries to kiss her for being worried but receives a slap. However Yui notices her Geeta is back at home and she can’t play without it. No other guitar would do. Their performance is in 10 minutes. Yui runs home to retrieve Geeta but can she make it? The performance starts as Sawako covers for Yui’s part for the first song. Yui comes back in time and realizes the importance of this club to her. As they start their next gig, Fuwa Fuwa Time, Yui takes over the lead vocals this time. Another outstanding performance as they continue with an encore. Yui tells the crowd how she loves this club and wants to do another performance but Nodoka says their time and turn is up. Yeah, don’t get carried away.
 
A freezing episode 13 is so cold that it doesn’t feel warm. This episode is just like its episode title ‘extra’ suggests. A filler. Nothing more. We see the gang in the club room with their usual antics as Yui tries to play Geeta with gloves. Not good idea. Have you ever seen Jimi Hendrix play his guitar with gloves? Once everyone goes home, we see what they do individually like Tsumugi taking up a part time job as a trainee in a fast food joint, Yui and Ui shopping for nabe ingredients, Mio heading to the beach to find inspiration for her lyrics, Azusa taking care of her friend’s kitten at home and Ritsu spacing out because of the ‘love letter’ she just received in her mail. Of course a little trouble brewing like Tsumugi mixing up her orders and spilling drinks on her colleague which causes her to lose a little confidence, the kitten throwing up hairballs on Azusa’s couch and Mio’s mind going blank. Yui then SMS everyone what kind of nabe would they rather have. Chocolate-chocolate or marshmallow-soy-milk. Only a weirdo can come up with such weird combo. Frantic Azusa calls back to chide her because she’s in a pinch of her own. Yui and Ui head over but things already calmed down when they arrive. Later they all converge at Tsumugi’s part time job (she’s doing fine by the way) and Ritsu learns that the ‘love letter’ was written by Mio. Yup, she wanted her opinion for her lyrics. As relief Ritsu is, she nearly strangled Mio for the anxiety she caused. Next day back in the club room, everyone continues their antics with Yui having her say on warm and cold hands (either way, what she meant is that the person is warm overall). They discuss about performing at Budoukan but I guess you and I would agree that what they need now is more practice rather than bumming around. It doesn’t hurt to dream big, eh? Hey, whatever happened to Sawako? Didn’t see her in this episode. Boyfriend, oops…
 
If you buy the DVD, you’ll get extra specials which last less than 3 minutes. What are those clips supposed to mean? Heck, who needs a reason if you can’t get enough of cute kawaii girls. Like Special 1 is about Yui’s Curiosity Series as her airheadness makes her ponder stuff like how does Tsumugi’s radish-like eyebrows move (only to miss looking at it), wondering how Mio’s forehead look like (only to bump her own forehead into hers) and the what-ifs that Ritsu will look like if she were to have personalities of the other girls (of course having a personality like Yui would be the worse). Special 2 is Ritsu’s Kodak Moment Series. First up is Mio as she gradually tells her to do reluctant poses like pushing up her boobs. Then when Mio finds out that she’s going to sell those pics for the club’s fund, Mio strangles her to delete the shot or else… But has she learned her lesson? She continues snapping Yui and Tsumugi taking their weights and when she clicks Mio adjusting the scale to cover up, Mio again strangles and threatens her or else… Finally Ritsu takes photos of Yui doing weird stuff like while she is tanned, just waking up from sleep and putting a watermelon as her mouth. Ritsu then strangles Yui and tells her to know some shame! Look who’s talking. Mio fans should love Special 3 because it’s about her panties. About what? First, Ritsu, Yui and Tsumugi sketch how her panties looked like during the school festival but they all drew wrongly. Next, the gang open presents received from Mio’s fan club but it turned out to be a bunch of panties! Lastly, Ritsu creates a membership card for Mio’s fan club but it has a picture of her striped panties on it. Pissed Mio gives Ritsu a big knock on her head and accuses her of making it up herself.
 
Special 4 is about when Yui was young. She thought Christmas was Christmashuu~, she couldn’t wear her socks properly and though she found lost Ui during the New Year’s shrine visit, ironically it’s reversed role when they grew up. Yeah, always need Ui to help find her. Things never change. Special 5 is the Uninhabited Island Series. Yup, the quintet stranded on some deserted island. It has Tsumugi breaking coconuts to quench their thirst, Yui catching fish via strumming her guitar (probably her horrible sound killed it – wait a minute. How the heck did she plugged her electric guitar? Anyway just like Azusa said, she’s misusing it) and Azusa thought there is a serial murder on the island when she spots weird upright leg positions of the girls only to discover Ritsu making a pop quiz for her to guess which pair of legs belong to who. Yeah, how she’d wish to quickly get off this island. How the heck did they end up here in the first place? Special 6 is an Animal Series. It has Yui wondering if Azusa is a cat so Ritsu thinks Yui is a dog, Mio as several animals based on her personality such as a porcupine ("Stay away from me!"), a turtle (afraid and hiding) and a rhino (a bad pun of shy and ‘sai’ which means that horned beast in Japanese), and finally Yui pondering Tsumugi as a pickle for an animal but we all know that isn’t an animal. Hey, I just noticed that the entire Specials did not feature Sawako!
 
So well the series isn’t anywhere the next best series that will leave a long lasting impression unless you’re crazy over the cute girls in the first place. It wouldn’t be fun and totally boring if it wasn’t for the quirky antics of the girls. Who wouldn’t love to have an airhead and simpleton Yui in the group. What about cheeky and troublemaker Ritsu? It’s hard to dismiss nice girl Tsumugi and her dreamy voice too. And Mio. Yeah, she’s the one many viewers claim have stolen their hearts (like yours truly). Though I feel bad at times, but she is too freakin’ moe even when she shed tears! Azusa too has her moe appeal especially when she’s trying hard to put her foot down for the band to practice or submit to their whims. But that’s the K-ON! Club for you. A group with balanced personalities. Now if only responsible Ui and conscientious Nodoka would be part of the band. I guess too many cooks spoil the broth. As for Sawako, I’m really surprised that she turned from a gentle teacher into a wild deranged uncouth split personality advisor. Can’t run away from her rocker past, eh? Is this the kind of teacher the school should have? Some of the band members are already one kind, now the teacher also one kind. Two wrongs don’t make a right, you know. Ah well, birds of the same feather… It’s going to be a challenge for them to reach their Budoukan goal at this rate.
 
The drawing and art of course has the girls drawn between bishoujo and moe area. However the art may seem simple at times (except for the Specials in which the art is totally ‘simple’ and downright horrible if you really take a closer look) but because of the overwhelming moe factor (especially of a certain ‘M’ girl. Oh, you know who), I guess viewers wouldn’t mind it. Maybe it’s the way of this series that I sometimes notice the animation is a little jerky at times. Or it could be my hardware problem. Not. But like I said, it’s the overwhelming moe factor which ‘covers’ it up. On a trivial note, I noticed the head bust statue whom I believe is the founder of the school, is seen at times being decorated with different hats and accessories. I don’t know if that means showing no respect, just for the fun of it or ‘taking care’ of it like as though the statue sometimes needs to be ‘dressed for the occasion’.
 
The producers used relatively unknown or lesser known seiyuus for the main cast so it is quite ‘refreshing’ to watch a series that lacks the usual heavyweight stars. Aki Toyosaki who voices Yui (Najimi in Akikan) is sure convincing in making her character like an airhead. I love it when Yui’s voice broke and she sounded just like one. Very real. Other casts include Youko Hikasa as Mio (she’s quite versatile in making Mio sound scared and being authoritative), Satomi Satou as Ritsu (Yuzuki in Jigoku Shoujo: Mitsuganae), Minako Kotobuki as Tsumugi, Ayana Taketatsu as Azusa, Madoka Yonezawa as Ui, Chika Fujito as Nodoka and veteran Asami Sanada as Sawako (Dejiko in Di Gi Charat). Both the opening and ending themes are of course sung by the initial quartet of the K-ON! Club members. Cagayake! GIRLS as the opening theme has Yui’s seiyuu taking the lead and sounds like an exuberant pop rock. Something about her voice and the lyrics makes the whole song sounds cute. The rock-like ending theme Don’t Say "Lazy" has Mio’s seiyuu as the lead vocals. The ending credits animation shows the quartet in Gothic outfits and I wonder why they didn’t add Azusa in it when she joined the group. Well, at least the opening shows her even if it was just cameo here and there performing with the band. As for the background music, I noticed that some are quite fun to listen to as it makes full use of the guitars, bass, keyboards and drums.
 
I wonder if the club will recruit any additional members in the future. Say, a violinist or a flutist or perhaps a vocalist. Oh heck, it may grow into an orchestra. Rock music and orchestra. Now, that’s a combination I’d like to hear. Sadly even after watching this series, I didn’t find any motivation to pick up my bass guitar and start playing all over again. Hmm… Could Mio be my anime reincarnation or my destined 2D soul mate (besides Mai Tokiha)? We both play the bass, have straight black hair, a shy personality and even closely share our first names (at least the first 2 alphabets). Oh wait a minute. I forgot. Oh Mio, why do you have to be left handed! Damn it. And if there is a club in need of a musician while offering animes to watch as motivation to join their club, heck, count me in.
 

K-ON!

One Piece

January 8, 2010

Arr, matey! Fancy a high adventure on the seven seas and take on swashbuckling pirates? Unless you’re just contend in just reading the manga or watching the anime series One Piece. This is a very long running anime and because it has stayed true to its manga roots, it is no wonder its popularity has been rising over the years and speaking of which, it has been more than 10 years that the anime has been running! Thanks to the creator of the series Eiichirou Oda and due to his magnificent work, he has been dubbed Oda-sensei. One of the very few animes which could retain and garner attention of anime fans worldwide. Even if you are not a hardcore fan of the series, you should at least know and heard a little about this series.
 
Now I have not actually read the manga nor have I actually followed the anime series ever since its inception back in 1999. The truth is, I only started to watch the show around 2 years ago when it was nearly halfway to its 400th mark (by now it is well over 400 episodes! Imagine that!). It’s just like The Simpsons of Japan in terms of air time, eh? So what made me go watch the show? Well, initially I had a little interest to watch it before that but I was always procrastinating due to the hefty amount of episodes and hoped that the series would finish before I started watching. But I was naive and wishful thinking, it didn’t. So what the heck, if I don’t start then, when am I going to start? That’s right. So my weekly romance of the series thus began and I was like watching as close to around 20 episodes per week to play catch up! Maybe it’s a good idea to delay watching the series because come to think of it, if you watch it week by week, overall it would look draggy as some of the entire episodes can actually focus on just 1 thing. So if you watch a bunch of them, take away the opening and ending credits, the next episode preview and some of the episodes which have a 5 minute recap of what has happened so far (especially those long arcs), I’d say on average I’d watched around 16-17 minutes per show.
 
But enough of that. The reason I’m blogging this is that I’ve got a feeling that I have forgotten most parts. So before I lose that entire memory of mine, I’d just like to blog it down for nostalgia. Speaking of which, it’s true that I am starting to forget already. So my blog won’t be that comprehensive and if you’d like to know more about the series, there is always the up-to-date Wikipedia and many other more dedicated One Piece fansites all around the internet.
 
The premise of the story tells of a young boy named Monkey D Luffy. Your typical not-so-bright kid but with a high sense of justice and values even if he doesn’t really know how to put it in words. Since this is the age of pirates, Luffy is one of the many who seek to obtain the late legendary Pirate King, Gol D Roger, who has hidden his One Piece treasure at the end of the most treacherous sea in the world, the Grand Line. I was thinking if the world is round, why not start from the other side? I guess maybe the entrance is just one way. Hey, if you go against the flow, where would all the exciting adventures be? Not only Luffy sets his mind on obtaining One Piece, he is also bent on become the great Pirate King himself. Something which most of everyone will laugh and scoff at. Don’t underestimate this boy. Furthermore, he prizes his straw hat very much because it was given to him by Shanks, the leader of the Red Haired Pirates. Shanks lost his left arm while saving young Luffy. Shanks gave him his straw hat so that Luffy would return to him one day when he has become a great pirate.
 
Seeing that this is a fantasy world, you will notice how certain characters including Luffy possess superhuman-like powers. That is because in this world, there are what you call Devil Fruits in which whoever eats them will gain certain powers like how Luffy is a rubber man and stretches because he ate a Gomu Gomu No Mi (rubber fruit). Expect to see him stretch his body parts (no dirty thoughts, please) as he unleash his trademarks move which I find they are just a variation of each other even if he calls them by a different name. No two Devil Fruits are alike so you can assure that you won’t see any duplicates though there will be model variations. A reason for high explosive exaggerated moves, eh? So why don’t one eat another Devil Fruit? Well, as far as I can remember, the body will explode. Don’t be greedy. There is a catch when one devours a Devil Fruit. He/she cannot swim in the sea and will fall like a hammer! That’s something that pirates wannabe wouldn’t want, eh? But I noticed that many top pirates too posses the Devil Fruits power. Yeah, just don’t swim. So as Luffy embarks on the adventure of the lifetime, he’ll gather a crew of his own, meet friends and foes alike, fights for allies, fights against enemies, powers up, go on an even more exciting adventure. Seems repetitious? But that’s why Oda-sensei manages to keep it fresh with all the new ideas, characters and plots.
 
When one first sees One Piece, the drawing and art may not be like your typical Japanese anime standards and for those not familiar with anime drawings would easily mistaken it to be a Western cartoon. Don’t blame you. Even I initially had that impression. Because of the powers of the Devil Fruit, this give rise to odd-looking characters with odd-looking body parts. So if you are really particular on how characters should look or should look as good as your bishonen or bishoujo, well, just hang in there. I’m sure you’ll get used to the art.
 
West Blue Arc
Besides the Grand Line, the world is divided into 4 divisions: North, South, East and West. The start of the series has Luffy trying to gather a crew of his own when he faces off with a fat and ugly female pirate Alvida. She has a crew, Colby who seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Something about he boarded the wrong boat and ended up being a pirate. As expected, Luffy wins and rescues Colby. However Colby’s dream is to be a Marine rather than a pirate so well, Luffy acknowledges that. The first crew Luffy ‘recruits’ is the pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro. A great swordsman (uses 3 swords: 1 in both hands an another via his mouth) and just like any Luffy’s future crew, nobody takes a liking for Luffy even if he pesters them to join his crew but will eventually give in even if they have some reason. Luffy saves Zoro from public execution of a corrupted Marine, Morgan and his spoilt son Helmeppo. Then after the duo along with jewel thief Nami take on pirate clown Buggy and his crew, they stop over on an island to get a boat of their own. Luffy’s next recruit is Usopp, a habitual liar but a good sniper. So it’s no surprise nobody believes him when Kurohadol, the butler of Usopp’s sick lady friend Kaya, displays his true colours of taking over her fortunes and attacking the village. But leave it to Luffy and co to settle things and Usopp is on his way to be a great pirate. Dream on pal. As token of appreciation, Kaya gives them a proper ship named Going Merry. Luffy also names his crew Straw Hat crew because of you know his obvious trademark hat.
 
Next they need to find a cook. It would be useless to sail the seas if they have nothing to each. Plus, Luffy is a glutton and loves any meat. That person would be Sanji of the famous floating restaurant Baratie. As usual, this lady-killer isn’t interested till some strong pirate Don Kreig crashes into his place for food and becomes ungrateful. While Luffy takes him on, Nami runs away to her homeland. Zoro also encounters one of the Shichibukai (literally the seven strongest pirates working for the Marines. Because they are on the Marine’s side they enjoy lots of privileges including exempted pirating), Dracule Mihawk. Zoro gets a taste of what true swordsman skill is and lost with honour. You’ll notice how Sanji uses his legs for battles since cooks consider their hands to be valuable in the kitchen. His kicks sure pack a punch. In the end, Luffy beats Don Kreig and has Sanji join his crew. Well, that cook is a flirt so I guess if Nami wasn’t around, he wouldn’t even think about joining. Next the gang head to Nami’s homeland. It seems that a group of Mermen pirates led by the cruel Arlong has the village on stranglehold. The reason money-minded Nami has been a thief all the while so is that she could by back the village from him. But when Arlong breaks his promise, distressful Nami pleads to Luffy to save her. Of course he would. He’d already have set his sights on recruiting her as his navigator. Nami also removes her Mermen tattoo on her arm and replaces it with a combination of a windmill and orange.
 
Before the quintet head into the Grand Line, they made a pit stop at Logue Town, the place whereby Gol D Roger was executed. They also encounter Captain Smoker of the Marines and the combo team of Buggy and Alvida (now she’s looking slim and pretty!). As Luffy and co make a run for it, a mysterious figure, Dragon, allows them to escape from the Marines. Later I found out that this Dragon guy is Luffy’s dad and is considered the world’s greatest traitor. By now, Luffy’s fame is spreading wide so much so as the series progresses, the Marines will issue higher bounty for him (this world’s currency is called Beri). Yeah, how high can they go. It’s like they’re doing charity by offering so much not only on him but on other powerful pirates as well. Are they that hard to catch? Must be.
 
Apis Arc
The crew makes a detour when they saved a young girl Apis from the Marines. We also learn that one can’t easily cross into the Grand Line because of the Calm Belt. In this section, there are no waves and winds. This means if your ship is stuck here, it will literally mean forever. Plus, there are giant dangerous Sea Kings residing underneath. In this arc, the obese Admiral Nelson and a hired henchman, Erik, are seeking Apis so that they could get their hands on some legendary 1000 year old dragon. Plus, Apis is able to communicate with the dragon because she ate a Whispering Devil Fruit. The gang’s adventure to escape with the aging dragon has them discovering an abandoned island where the dragons used to live. Then the lost island resurfaced, Erik betrays Nelson, Luffy and co take on his admirals, guess who wins? And with all that over, now they’re all set for the Grand Line adventure.
 
Laboon Arc
After entering the reverse mountain side, they encounter a huge whale with a scar across its face, Laboon. They learn from his lone caretaker, Crocus that when Laboon was a calf, he followed his beloved Rumba Pirates down to Grand Line but seeing that the sea is too dangerous for him, they left him back here while promising to return one day. So lonely Laboon tries to bang and destroy the hard continent to reach them at the other side but to no avail. Luffy makes a promise with Laboon that they will do a rematch when they come back so he can’t destroy that lame straw hat logo painting on his front then. Before they leave, Crocus gives them a Log Pose, which is essential when travelling between islands of the Grand Line. Without it, you’re good as dead and lost because of the irregular and misleading wind and sea pattern.
 
Grand Line Arc
This includes meeting a secretive group of villains known as Baroque Works. One of them, Vivi, is actually a spy to infiltrate the organization and when her identity is exposed, she knows too well that they are out for her head. Vivi is the princess of the Arabasta Kingdom and it seems she has found out the mysterious leader of Baroque Works: Crocodile, who is also a Shichibukai. So in the meantime she and her giant duck join Luffy’s crew. Sadly as they leave the Whiskey Peak Island, her faithful royal guard Igaram has been killed when Crocodile’s assistant, Miss All Sunday blows his ship up. Other initial adventures include visiting the prehistoric island with 2 giants battling each other ever since who knows when and a short side story of Colby and Helmeppo (turning over a new leaf I suppose) joining the Marines and undergoing rigorous training from Monkey D Garp. Yup, you guessed it. He is Luffy’s grandpa. What’s with their family line anyway? One a pirate, the other a Marine head and another a traitor. Such colourful family background.
 
Drum Island Arc
While the Baroque Works dealings are still in the background, the Straw Hat crew find themselves on Drum Island after battling a weird crew led by a selfish and cruel tyrant Wapol. Nami is out sick and thus the need to recruit a doctor as soon as possible. On this whole island, there is only 1 doctor, Kureha, but this "witch" lives on the other side. Kureha has a reindeer assistant that ate a Human Devil Fruit so at times, Tony Tony Chopper as what he is called, transforms into a little human or a hybrid. Furthermore, the islanders aren’t too fond of Luffy and co because of their past experiences with pirates. Then to everyone’s horror, they learn of Wapol’s return. Before he was banished, he ruled with an iron fist and made all doctors exclusive for himself and let the people suffer. As usual the flashback of some quack doctor Hiruluk but I don’t remember much to elaborate. As usual, Luffy beats the crap out of Wapol for good, Nami gets cured and Chopper joins the crew as their medical doctor. Chopper from time to time does experiments on his Rumble Ball which seems to give him temporary strength (depending on which type).
 
Arabasta Arc
The crew arrives at Arabasta Kingdom and the rest are surprised to meet Luffy’s older brother, Portgas D Ace of the Whitebeards Pirate. Note the contrasting difference in character. How can such a carefree joker like Luffy be the captain? Ah well, I guess there’s something about him which makes his crew respect and follow him. Portgas is here to find a traitor from his crew Blackbeard. But later it is found to be a hoax so before he leaves, he gives Luffy a Vivre Card paper (something about it which indicates the direction of the person and his/her life). They also enter Erumalu city to find it is now a desert due to some misuse of some Dance Powder which brings rain. Vivi also learns that there is a rebellion planning to overthrow the kingdom and is led by her childhood friend Kouza. Plus, Baroque Works are the one instigating both sides from the shadows. It wouldn’t be interesting if Luffy and the rest didn’t take on the highest subordinates for Baroque Works. Their ranks are given and are called by their numbers while their assistants by a famous holiday (previously, Luffy and co met and battled some of them already). Our heroes also run afoul into Smoker and his assistant Tashigi but they got trapped by Crocodile. Even if Luffy busts free, takes on Crocodile (he has eaten the Sand Devil Fruit) and initially lost, Luffy is the hero so he can’t really die that easily. So a lesson for Crocodile to learn is to make sure the person you thought have killed stays dead.
 
So it’s a race against time to stop the oncoming rebellion from Kouza while Crocodile plans to unleash some powerful Pluton weapon to wipe everyone out and take over the kingdom. Awesome fight scenes that has Luffy’s side eventually winning them include Usopp-Chopper team bettering against Mr 4-Ms Merry Christmas, Sanji winning against face-changing Mr 2 Bon Clay, Nami beating Ms Doublefinger with her new weather creation stick courtesy from Usopp, and Zoro claiming victory after a hard fought battle with steel/blade body ability Mr 1. Elsewhere, Vivi manages to tell Kouza about Crocodile’s plan but before he could call his side to surrender, he gets shot (note he doesn’t die. Many characters who are thought to be dead somehow come back alive. Like Igaram). Meanwhile Ms All Sunday AKA Nico Robin, takes the king of Arabasta, Cobra (Vivi’s father) to a tomb where the Pluton Poneglyph is hidden. Since Robin was the only one who can read such hieroglyphics, Crocodile gets suspicious and thinks she has never intended to tell him at all and gravely wounds her. Luffy arrives in time to have a second round rematch with Crocodile and he emerges victorious this time after all the hard trading punches and moves. Luffy also saves Robin from the wreckage and she can’t comprehend why he is doing so since she is his enemy. As for the Pluton weapon, Vivi realizes it has been hidden in the clock tower and since there is no time to stop it, one of her loyal guards sacrifice himself by blowing himself up with the bomb in the sky (don’t worry, in the end things indicate he is still alive). When order is restored to the kingdom, Luffy and his crew celebrate with a feast. But they have to run since the Marines are on to them. Vivi isn’t joining them since she has a responsibility towards her people and the distraction from Mr 2 Bon Clay helps the Straw Hat crew to escape. Also, the gang finds Robin on their ship and to their surprise she joins them. Also, Crocodile has been stripped of his Shichibukai title and privileges.
 
Goat Island and Rainbow Mist Arc
While the next several episodes are fillers including character focused episodes like Usopp’s fireball fireworks, Sanji’s cooking on board a Marine ship, Chopper’s Rumble Ball secrets, Zoro’s flashback before he met Luffy and Nami’s dream of creating a complete world map only to be hindered by the nuisance of her noisy crew. The Goat Island arc has Luffy and crew meeting a lone old man named Zenii living on the island with his herd of goats as companions. Of course a corrupt Marine official is bent on getting some treasure because Zenii was a money lender to pirates. Ironic, isn’t it? In the end, it is revealed that all his money were eaten by his goats a long time ago and that his true treasure are their companionship. The Rainbow Mist arc has the gang landing on an island whereby everyone hates a mad scientist named Henzo because they are heavily taxed and this money is used to fund his research for some phenomena called Rainbow Mist. It’s like some dimension-time-bending thingy as Luffy and some of his crew are absorbed into a rainbow-like portal and thrown into another ship graveyard-like dimension only to find several kids. Just like Neverland, eh? Never grown up. Fifty years ago, when a pirate Whetton (now governor of this island) attacked the community so the children fought back but their ship sailed into the portal with the kids on it and since then they got stuck except for Henzo. So in real time, Whetton’s aim is to create a tower via Henzo so that he could link both parallel dimensions together and reclaim the lost treasure on his ship. Whetton knows he can’t beat Luffy so he tries to make them all stuck in the other dimension. The children stayed back to generate enough power to blast Going Merry through the portal. In the aftermath, Whetton and his men are arrested by a Marine officer, who is one of the grown up kids.
 
Jaya Arc
The next island is Jaya and the crew meet a descendant of an infamous liar Nolan. He is Montblanc Cricket but he knows too well that the history of his family has been twisted. Something about how Nolan went on an expedition, found a lost city of gold, went back to tell the king but when the king and his convoy came, there is no such island. Of course, anyone would conclude he was lying and had him executed. So Montblanc has been diving into the sea ever since to seek the truth of the lost city. On the island, Luffy and Zoro encounter and got ridiculed by Bellamy the Hyena about their dreams. He got a taste of what it means to face a pirate with a higher bounty later on. Soon Montblanc and his monkey crew fix up Going Merry so that they can ride a once-in-a-lifetime knock-up stream and enter the legendary Skypeia Island which is located in the clouds. Elsewhere, with Crocodile’s status as Shichibukai revoked, the higher authorities of the Marine are having a discussion to replace him. A member of Blackbeard’s crew pops in and suggests Blackbeard.
 
Skypeia Arc
It’s like an island in the sky. Weird people (with little white wings on their backs?) and weird customs (doing a "Heso" as a salute?). Anyway such a great arc won’t be great without a great villain. The self proclaimed thunder god Enel is holding his form of fear on the citizens of Skypeia. Well, he seems to be able to know and hear just about anything so if you say bad, you can expect lightning to strike you anytime. If this ever happens in the real world, there’re going to be lots of roasted people. Of course there are those Shandian tribe rebels who claim to be the rightful owners of Vearth (the only true dirt and land on Skypeia) led by a hothead Wiper (yup, that’s his name. If it was Viper, it wouldn’t sound as bad as this car accessory). Enel’s got a high and mighty attitude well since he is nearly as close to God himself and he’s got some plan to destroy the entire Skypeia kingdom. Because Luffy and co and Wiper’s rebel team are in the way, Enel unleashes his Enforces and Priests in a survival game. Enel predicts that at the end, only 5 will remain. So it’s an all out battle royale right from the start as Enel joins in as well as other new comers (whether they want in or not, so long as they are on Vearth, they’re part of the game. Hey, it’s God’s command). Then amidst all that, the usual flashback of how Nolan met a great Shandian warrior, Calgara and helped the tribe to be cured of some disease, though the tribe misinterpreted it as an act of treason against them. So Calgara eventually realized Nolan’s good intentions but he has already left. To atone for that, the island has a golden bell which rings a beautiful sound so that it could help Nolan find his way if he ever intended to come back here. And when Nolan did come back, the island was missing because due to the knock-stream, it sent it flying above the clouds. So you could say Jaya and Vearth was once a joint up island.
 
In the end, the remaining ones include Nami, Zoro, Robin, Wiper and Gan Fall. Since Enel counts himself, one of them has to go out. Yeah, everybody gangs up against Enel but Enel wipes them all out except Nami who decided to play along and follow him to his finished golden ark. Where is Luffy? Well, he and a little girl of the Shandian tribe, Asia, is stuck in a giant python’s stomach. Can’t believe Enel can’t detect them. Are pythons’ stomach invisible to any radar effect? So anyway Luffy comes out and another epic showdown. It’s a good thing that Luffy is Enel’s enemy. Why? Because he is made of rubber and that means electricity won’t have any effect on him. But even so, Enel is good enough to take on close combat with him and also initiates a machine to destroy Skypeia. Enel is also after the golden bell (lost during when the island split) but can’t seem to find it and it only took Luffy and co to guess where it was. Luffy wants to ring the bell so that he could tell Montblanc that the bell is up there and not under the sea. In which, he is successful as he beats Enel too. In the aftermath, Skypeia is safe though part of it has been destroyed by the machine. Robin deciphers a Poneglyph and is surprised Gol D Roger wrote on it there. How the heck? As for Enel, he isn’t dead yet because he is seen flying in his golden ark in his delirium to what he calls the ultimate Vearth: The moon. Erm… There’s no oxygen there lah. Luffy and co’s Going Merry float down with Skypeia devices. Only thing is, they are falling into the Marine’s headquarters.
 
Navarone Base Arc
Yeah, fate has them landing right smack in the middle of a marine stronghold. However the marines find the ship empty. Is it a ghost ship? Well, they’re all in hiding. The base commander Jonathan seems to know what is going on but I guess he’s having a little fun of his own seeing the events unfold. Of course some got captured, lots of run around here and there, retrieve the stolen treasure from Skypeia that was confiscated (they’d better or Nami will blow her top) but in the end, the Straw Hat crew manage to regroup and make their daring escape from the base.
 
Foxy Fightback Arc
Luffy and co’s next island is Long Ring Long Land Island. They meet an annoying pirate Foxy and his motley band of pirates whom he has gotten via his weird Foxy Fightback game. To make matters worse, Luffy’s ignorance and blundering has the Straw Hat crew getting involve in that game. Since this Foxy guy has a penchant for cute animals, he takes Chopper after winning the first out of 3 games (a boat race). Note his Noro Noro beam too (makes you go slow for several seconds) and seems to get easily depressed. Then in the second game (a ball game), Luffy wins but takes back some other animal belonging to an old man. I guess Chopper will have to sit still and wait for the 3rd and final game which is a roller skating ring match. Luffy wins and Chopper is back with them. However, another blunder causes Luffy to accept another game challenge from Foxy. That guy doesn’t learn, does he? Unfortunately, Luffy lost both the first 2 rounds and lost Chopper and Robin. So in the final round even if he wins, he can only take back 1 of them. Thus Luffy in this final match, both sides will bet on everything. So in this boxing parody bout, Luffy beats Foxy and in addition in reclaiming his comrades back, also claims Foxy’s entire crew but since he doesn’t need them, he sets them free. Shortly, Luffy and co come into one of the 3 highest ranking admirals in the Marine, Aokiji. Robin knows him and isn’t too fond of him. As expected, Luffy and Aokiji clash but they are no match for his ice powers. Aokiji decides to spare Luffy’s life because he considers this as a repayment of debt for defeating Crocodile.
 
Water 7 Arc
After sailing the treacherous Grand Line, Going Merry has taken some damage so the Straw Hat crew’s next destination is Water 7, where they need to find a shipwright to repair their ship. Don’t worry. They have enough money from the treasures given from Skypeia. They meet the mayor of this city, Iceburg, who is also part of the company which houses the finest shipwrights on the face of the planet: Galley-La. The other staff include Rob Lucci (he talks through its pigeon!), Paulie (rope master), Lulu (some part of his hair is always standing out), Kaku (looks like grown up Pinocchio), Tilestone (another big guy) and the secretary Kalifa. There is also the local ship dismantlers called Franky Family, led by the part-cyborg Franky (likes running around in his swimming trunks?). The turning point came when Franky stole Luffy’s bag of money and even if they had the money, Galley-La said Going Merry is beyond repair. It is better to get a new one. Luffy makes a painful decision but Usopp can’t agree to it because Going Merry was a gift from Kaya and there is some emotional attachment to it. Because of that, Usopp fights with Luffy and though he lost, Usopp leaves the crew. But that is not the end of the crew’s crisis. Robin has been acting strange after she change upon some shadowy figure who whispered "CP9" into her ears. To make matters worse, Iceburg was shot and injured one night and the blame was put upon Franky, Luffy and co.
 
It seems the world government’s secret and most powerful police, Ciper Pol 9 AKA CP9 is bent on stealing the secret Pluton blueprints. Some of them were impersonating as Galley-La members for years like Lucci, Kaku, Kalifa and Blueno (impersonating as a bartender). Robin thinks she is a burden to her crew and voluntarily follows CP9. A phenomenon called Aqua Laguna is approaching so the gang have to take the last train to catch Robin before the city curfews itself. Franky, Sanji and Usopp (disguising himself as Sogeking – he’s even got a theme song of his own!) manages to get onboard the train heading towards Enies Lobby, the judicial island where Robin will face her trial and punishment as accused by CP9. While they battle some of the lesser subordinates, Luffy and the rest later take a sea train called Rocket Man on a track system created long ago by a skilled shipwright and Franky’s master-cum-guardian, Tom the Fishman.
 
CP9 and Enies Lobby Arc
The race to save Robin is on. The Straw Hat crew teams up with the other members of Galley-La and Franky House to break through all the obstacles that Enies Lobby has to offer, whether they are giants guarding the gates or streams of marines and world government officials. We learn that the head of CP9, Spandam (hmm… wearing those masks to cover up his hideous scars reminds me of the man in the iron mask), holds a grudge against Robin. He may be cruel but he is in fact a coward and holds no true fighting powers unlike his other CP9 members. Flashback on Robin’s past on how she came from an island considered to be the world’s greatest library, Ohara. Because they did some forbidden research, the world government is going to wipe them out and that time, Spandam’s father was leading that expedition. The island burns like hell till nothing under a move called Buster Call but Robin survived and escaped because Aokiji’s help. So you could say that this is the reason why Robin became distrustful of people and turned to a life of crime and even after turning over a new leaf after the Arabasta incident, she still feels guilty and a burden to Luffy and co. But would Luffy care? He’s here to save her because she is their comrade. That’s it. Nothing else matters.
 
So the one on one battles start and the Straw Hat crew have to obtain 5 keys from CP9 in order to free Robin. Since they didn’t say which keys, I guess they’ll have to beat each one of them. Prior to Luffy’s warm up match with Blueno (which also has Luffy powering up to some move called Gear Second), we have Franky taking on an Owl, Fukurou, who can’t seem to let his tongue slip on important information (is that what his mouth zipper is for?), Chopper against a kabuki-like Kumadori but the reindeer took a risk and ate several Rumble Balls which turned him into a mindless monster reindeer (Hulk Smash! Just kidding), a sword match between Zoro and Kaku (he turns into a giraffe), Sanji versus Jabura (he turns into a wolf) and Nami against the bubble ability Kalifa. As expected, they all win. Meanwhile as Luffy chases after Robin (Spandam in a desperate move to take Robin away), he encounters Lucci and another epic battle begins. Rubber man vs leopard man. Sure we see Lucci’s flashback as some cruel and rising kid befitting this kind of position but it’s all part and parcel of the show on why he turned out like that. Bla bla bla. To make things worse, Spandam has invoke the Buster Call. Yeah, they’re going to roast this island even if it belongs to their own. All in good timing while the marine ships fire their cannon from every angle on the island, Luffy powers up to Gear Third, did the unbelievable by knocking Lucci out cold after an intense match, frees Robin and the entire crew escape via Going Merry (it’s like that boat has a spirit of its own and sailed all the way here by itself!).
 
In the aftermath, back at Water 7, everyone says their emotional goodbye to Going Merry so Iceburg and the rest builds them a totally new and better ship and names it Thousand Sunny (that lion head somehow reminds me of that perverted stuff toy Kon from Bleach). Franky also joins Luffy crew and Usopp rejoins them before they leave to their next destination. Then we have other developments like Garp, Colby and Helmeppo paying Luffy and co a visit, Ace finally gets to duel Blackbeard but the latter’s Darkness ability proves too much for the former’s Fire ability and lost. As this arc is one of the longest so far, it was a little irritating when they showed a few non-related filler episodes like the feudal Luffy the Legendary Oyabin and dedicated episode recaps of each of the Straw Hat crew on how they joined Luffy. And since Luffy and co beat the world government, his bounty rises to 300 million Beri! Wow! Each of his crew too now has a handsome bounty on their heads. Well, except for Chopper: 50 Beri. An insult or what? So don’t play play with this bunch of pirates. They have taken on the strongest pirates, marines, world government and even God and emerged victorious in all! What is next for them?
 
Accino Family Arc
The Accino family is bent on collecting the Straw Hat crew’s flag. I guess what makes every pirate its identity is also its flag. Though Luffy and co bump into the Phoenix Pirate crew led by the depressed Puzzle (due to some failure in the New World – the other half of the Grand Line), they encounter lots of assassins from the Accino family as they traverse through the icebergs. Unfortunately, the Straw Hat pirates lost their flag and will have to go all out to retrieve it. After lots of battling and the final match between Luffy and the head of the Accino family, Don (possessing a Heat Devil’s Fruit), they get their flag back while Puzzle gets his confidence back as his crew stalls the Accino family to give time for Luffy and co to escape while promising to meet them once more in the New World.
 
Thriller Bark Arc
Luffy and crew are in the misty Florian Triangle and chances upon a deserted ship with a talking skeleton, Brook. While the rest may be a little afraid, Luffy wants him to join his crew and Brook accepts. Well, Luffy did mention he wanted a musician and Brook qualifies for it. Yeah, Brook is such a joker himself since he makes life-death statements. The gang then got sucked into the world’s biggest ship, Thriller Bark, which is owned by Shichibukai Gecko Moria. The ship is so big that you may think it’s an island. This place may send the shivers down many of their spine (especially Usopp) because of the walking dead zombies. Chopper meets a Dr Hogback whom he looked up to but later finds his research to be morally questioned like bringing to dead back to life just like how he did with some famous actress Cyndri. Then Zoro and Sanji went missing and later it’s revealed they got their shadow/soul implanted into one of the many hideous zombie doll animals of Perona. Also, the general of the zombies, Absalom, seems to be infatuated with Nami and plans to marry her to the extent of kidnapping her but a wild boar zombie, Lola, is bent on making him her bride first. Soon the gang learns of Moria’s ability to manipulate shadow because of the Shadow Devil Fruit and this whole ship is like some sort of experiment to him. Furthermore, when one loses his/her shadow, he/she can’t go out openly into the sun or else they will be dissolved. Brook is one of them too, a reason why he follows the crew to Thriller Bark to settle a score. Moria then successfully steals Luffy’s shadow and puts it in a huge monster giant, Oz, as his ultimate and powerful zombie.
 
Amidst all that, we’ll hear Brook’s past of how he was the only survivor from the Rumba Pirates and is seeking to reunite with Laboon back at Reverse Mountain. While Usopp fights against Perona and her spirits which makes one go into instant depression, Sanji rushes to save his beloved Nami from Absalom’s unholy matrimony ceremony (can’t believe Nami stayed unconscious throughout all that ruckus) and Zoro takes on a legendary zombie swordsman, Ryuuma, believed to posses Brook’s shadow. When Zoro defeats Ryuuma, the latter gives Zoro his sword and Brook’s shadow returns to its rightful owner. With the resurrection of Oz, the Straw Hat crew take the menacing giant on but to their surprise Oz can stretch just like Luffy. Even his personality is uncannily similar. Meanwhile another Shichibukai, Bartholomew Kuma, arrives on Thriller Bark to inform Moria that Blackbeard has been made a Shichibukai as Crocodile’s replacement for defeating Ace and also he is here to make sure of the Straw Hat crew’s defeat just in case, something which doesn’t go down well with Moria as he teams up with Oz to prove he can do it by himself. So they also find out that Oz don’t actually stretch like Luffy, just that his body has to follow the form of its shadow that Moria is controlling. Elsewhere, Luffy bumps into the Rolling Pirates led by big-lips Lola (what’s with her asking any guy to marry her but gets instant rejection?). All of them lost their shadows and they have faith that Luffy can defeat Oz and Moria by implanting hundreds of captured shadows into him. Yeah, he’s bulging like the hulk even if he has acquired the shadow’s strength albeit temporary. And once all the members of the Straw Hat crew are knocked unconscious, it’s a showdown between monster Luffy and Oz. Luffy defeats Oz and with the help of Brook, destroys its spinal cord to prevent it from moving further.
 
Moria isn’t going to give up yet as he absorbs all the 1000 shadows on his ship to bloat up himself into a monster. By this time, Luffy is back to his original size and lost all the implanted shadows but unleashes all his super techniques including the all new Gigant Jet Shell to send Moria reeling in defeat. Thankfully everyone got back their shadows just before the sunrise could disintegrate their bodies. As Luffy lays unconscious, the joy of victory is cut short when Kuma appears to finish the job. His powerful repelling powers sends everyone flying away and knocking them out after unleashing a powerful blast when they refused an offer of him taking Luffy’s head in exchange for their lives. A fatigue Zoro then offers himself in place of Luffy so Kuma creates a pain bubble in which he will let them all go if he could survive it. Zoro has only but 1 choice. In the aftermath, when everyone wakes up, Sanji sees Zoro standing but covered with blood (Hogback and Absalom escaped with unconscious Moria while Perona was made ‘disappeared’ by Kuma). The healing process begins as everyone celebrates their newfound freedom and of course listened to Brook’s past. Before the Straw Hat pirates depart, Lola notices Luffy’s Vivre Card is close to being falling apart and fears that the life of that person’s card is in grave danger.
 
Flying Fish Riders Arc
After that spa island filler, Luffy decides to make a little detour after encountering a mermaid, Camie and her pet starfish, Papagg to rescue a fellow friend from the clutches of the Iron Mask Duval and his Flying Fish Riders. The gang finds out that their friend is Hachi, whom some of them fought against when he was with Arlong. However he has turned over a new leaf and I guess the motivation for Luffy to go save him was his takoyaki. Can’t think anything but food, eh? It seems this is all part of Duval’s plan as revenge against Sanji. Why? When the world government drew up bounty posters for the crew, they didn’t have a picture of Sanji and horribly sketched his face instead. So this Duval guy somehow has that uncanny resemblance so his life (even if he was a bully) was hell as he is being mistaken for him. Pissed off Sanji teaches him a lesson and kicks his face several times till he turns…. Handsome?! Thus Duval becomes grateful and they are like so good friends now. So if there is anything they need, just call him and he and his gang will hurry over. Yeah, just try not to wink, Duval. Perasan betul…
 
Shabondy Archipelago Arc
Wow. It took nearly 10 years of air time to reach the halfway line. Anyway, since the gang’s next destination is Mermen Island, they need to find a specialist to coat their ship in order to dive down. This brings them to Shabondy Archipelago whereby the several islands are divided into grooves. This place serves as a pit stop for all those who plan to enter the New World. In addition, the world government headquarters is located nearby and also the Nobles called Celestial Dragons. They are so arrogant, obnoxious, proud and all the other words you can find so much so they wear oxygen masks as not to breath the same air as commoners. Nobody dares stand up to them because they have the backing of the world government and Marine. This of course pissed off Luffy when they are seen doing as they please but is greatly restrained by Hachi. Later the gang finds out that there since their arrival, this brings a total of 11 rookie pirates with a bounty of more than a million Beri on their heads. Luffy ranks second and the one who tops the list is Eustace Kid with a bounty of 315 million Beri. As they search for the coating mechanic Rayleigh (also Gol D Roger’s right hand man), Camie gets kidnapped and is sent to the auction house. Duval and his crew are called up to help send the Straw Hat crew to the auction house to stop Camie from being sold to the highest bidder. They also learn how Fish people and Mermen are greatly discriminated on this island. Plus, mermaids fetch the highest price. Everyone arrives but fails to stop the process and as Luffy is the last one to show up, he punches one of the Celestial Dragons, the moronic Charlos who fired a shot at Hachi when his identity has been exposed. This throws the entire area into chaos. The Marines are called in as the Straw Hat crew fights the Celestial Dragons’ bodyguards. Rayleigh who is also one of the auctioned humans, used his Ambition power to knock the bodyguards unconscious. He says how he has always wanted to meet Luffy. Camie is freed but the house is surrounded by Marines.
 
Since Kid and another high bounty rookie pirate, Trafalgar Law, were at the auction, they ‘team up’ to take out the Marine foot soldiers with their weird powers. Meanwhile one of the 3 powerful Marine admirals, Kizaru, has arrived on Shabondy as he takes on the other high bounty rookie pirates at the same time which include Basil Hawkins (voodoo user?), Drake (ex-Marine turned pirate), Apoo (funny limbs…), and Uruoge (some priestess from Skypeia). In short, they’re no match for Kizaru. Eventually Luffy, Kid and Law have to make a run for it but each of them encounter Sentoumaru (a stocky-build sumo wrestler-like guy from the technology division of the Marine) and Kuma. Not the real one but a Pacifista (some super cyborg). They sure have got their hands full and could’ve been worse if Rayleigh hadn’t intercepted to keep Kizaru busy. To make matters worse, they are no match for all of them when the real Kuma appears. He uses his powers to send each of the Straw Hat crew ‘vanishing’. Well, that vanishing thing may be something like flying nonstop for 3 days as said by Sentoumaru. Finally the Straw Hat crew tastes ultimate defeat when Kuma sends Luffy, the last one standing, vanishing too.
 
Amazon Lily Arc
Lone Luffy has been flying in the air for 3 days and finally lands in a jungle island. I guess being a glutton and low on jungle survival, he just eats any mushrooms he can find. Thankfully he is found by several Amazon ladies and was taken in to be nurse. Seeing that this is an all-woman island where strength equates beauty, the ladies are amazed with their new findings. So when they were removing mushrooms from him and found 1 that is irremovable, an elder concludes that he is a man, taking them all by surprise. They are wondering how he got in since this island is located within the Calm Belt. So of course Luffy gets up and because of his little unrefined behaviour, they misinterpret it as being a brute and decide to eliminate him before their queen Boa Hancock (another Shichibukai)whom they fondly call Hebihime, return. Luffy though is grateful for the women who saved his life, has to escape their arrow blasting attacks. Elsewhere Hancock is returning from another pillage only to be confronted with a Marine vice admiral who requests her presence at Ace’s public execution. Due to that, Ace’s Whitebeard Pirates may intercept and thus the need for her presence. However Hancock isn’t going to oblige and though she wants to continue enjoying her privileges as a Shichibukai. After turning the entire Marine crew except for the vice admiral into stone with her Mero Mero Devil Fruit powers, she leaves but the vice admiral is adamant and will wait for her.
 
The pursue for Luffy is still on when Hancock returns. Everybody loves her and nobody in their right mind would go against her. Simply because she is too beautiful. Yeah, she just need to act cute and she’ll be forgiven. So when she is taking a bath, Luffy who is still running away and thinking of asking this island’s chief for a boat, accidentally crashes into her bathing room and saw her forbidden back. If no women ever saw her naked, what are the chances that of a guy? Another order to hunt him down and it won’t be long before Luffy is captured and brought to public execution. The women who saved Luffy felt guilty and went to plea for clemency but merciless Hancock turns them to stone. Luffy is upset that she did this to her own comrade and for the first time in Boa’s life, someone who isn’t taken in by her beauty. He thinks she is annoying. She sends a giant panther to devour him but Luffy punches it away, surprising them. Then Boa’s sisters Marigold and Sandersonia (both Devil Fruit users of the snake type) are directed to execute him. During the fight, Luffy protects them when one of their backs became exposed to the crowd. After evacuating the crowd, Hancock is further surprised by Luffy’s answer if he wants to save those ladies or take a boat out of here. He chose the former. Hancock explains how she and her sisters were slaves to the Celestial Dragons and the mark on their back was proof of it.
 
Everyone now has a favourable view of Luffy as they feed him with lots of food (even wanting to touch him!). When Luffy learns his brother Ace is going to be executed, he desperately pleads for a boat to go rescue him but Hancock falls ill. Actually she is love sick! OMG! She has turned from a cold hearted woman into some tsundere lovey-dovey character! Hancock agrees as she secretly stows Luffy away on that vice admiral’s ship on 1 condition that they head to Impel Down first (the place where all prisoners are kept). In order not to keep viewers in the dark about Luffy’s crew, short clips are shown on their whereabouts. Like Nami at some sky weather control island, Franky at some snowy science lab island, Chopper on an island with giant birds, Sanji running for his life on transvestite island, Robin on a eternal bridge building ‘country’ constructed by prisoners, Zoro unfortunately landed on a desolated place where Perona earlier ended up (I guess she was lonely and wanted to ‘keep him’, Usopp on a man-eating-insect-and carnivorous plant island and Brook being worshipped by a demonic cult for some revolution thingy.
 
Impel Down Arc
Luffy and Hancock enter the world’s most tightly guarded prison holding hardcore prisoners. Luffy manages to sneak out to rescue Ace on his own without getting caught while Hancock is being escorted by vice guard Domino, vice prison warden Hannyabal and chief warden Magellan to see Ace (who has been recently visited by his grandpa Garp). Of course with Luffy making a ruckus trying to get deeper into the prison, he faces many obstacles at each level while meeting ex-foes-turned-‘allies’ like Buggy, Mr 3 and Bon Clay during his journey. Their attempts (except for Bon Clay) to cooperate with Luffy in order to get out backfire as they get dragged deeper into the prison. They’ll never get out at this rate. People trying to get out while he tries to get in. We are also introduced to another Shichibukai, Jimbei, a mermen, who has been imprisoned because of his refusal to fight against Whitebeard Pirates (because he looks up to him) as they too attempt to rescue Ace. Yeah, it’s going to be one hell of a bang that will shake the world when they collide. Hey, isn’t that ex-Shichibukai Crocodile in jail with them?
 
One heck of an adventure…
So that’s where I currently am at this point and it is safe to say that I will be continuing to watch this series since I find it interesting and engaging. Sure on occasions it may be draggy if you look at it on an overall picture in terms of number of episodes needed for a main story arc but it is what helps viewers to understand better about the characters and situations even better. Now if Oda-sensei does not end his manga work anytime soon, I’m thinking it will take around another 10 years or more to reach the end half of the Grand Line, don’t you think? But think of all the exciting adventures that Luffy and co will face. Like they say, it isn’t the destination which is important, but the journey. Through thick and thin, I feel that this crew has what it takes to go all the way to the end.
 
There are too many odd and trivial things which I have noticed throughout my duration of watching the series so much so that I may have forgotten what they are. Just like how I noticed everyone (especially extra minor characters) have this sense of herd mentality. In the sense that everyone initially has a pessimistic outlook as they think our heroes cannot defeat the impossible. Then when they get the slightest hope, they make a total u-turn cheering them on. Sometimes when the match is like a roller coaster ride (hey, being a hero doesn’t mean giving the enemy all the time but you have to receive some too, right?) so their support also wavers. These people have got no backbone. Another thing which I noticed is how when the characters get emotional and cry, you can see their tears or whatever body fluids flowing out not only from their eyes but their noses as well! I know it is true but at first I find it funny and disgusting. Then of course, I got used to it.
 
Just like the many terms and jargons in the series. Okay, so maybe I have forgotten some of them by now since they weren’t re-inforced but for the main ones, it’s still in my memory. Don’t worry, most of them are easy to remember and do not require complex tongue twisting techniques just to blurt them out. There are also many likeable characters and those whom many would love to hate, whether they are just supporting or minor characters for that particular story arc. Some are memorable because of the quotes they say which may very from realization insights (like Hiruluk’s saying that a man truly dies when he is forgotten) to contradictory stupid ones (like Spandam’s "Shoot her to death, but don’t kill her"). But these characters help our main heroes grow stronger and formidable as they go along.
 
For the mid-intermission, you can tell which character will hog that short 5 seconds because each of the background music is tailor suited to for that particular character’s personality like Zoro’s death march-like theme and Franky’s upbeat and funky beat. The animation for the initial episodes of the series started off with the character’s face on their bounty and wanted posters. Later they changed it to the things which the particular character in the Straw Hat crew likes such as Nami’s map drawing and oranges and Chopper’s medicine bag and blooming sakura trees. As I have mentioned, the animation of the series isn’t your standard Japanese art but at times such as comical moments, the characters will go into those trademark incredulous looks or rebuking mode. Oddly, I find many female characters in this series to be quite gorgeous. Slim, tall and lanky.
 
Regarding the names of the characters, place and certain items, I find some of them to be creative while others an eyebrow raiser. Sure, no doubt that since this is a fantasy adventure on the high seas, you’ll meet a diverse range of cultures. I noticed that the Shichibukai has names in relation to animals and if not, they look like one. Except for the new addition Blackbeard, of course. Also, some of the characters in the series are named after famous pirates of the past. I wonder if they’ll name one in the future after Jack Sparrow. Another thing I find amusing is the Den Den Mushi which is literally the main telecommunication transmission via a snail. The odd part is that the snail’s mouth and expression moves exactly how the speaker of the other line is talking. Quite a handy handphone, I’d say.
 
Since the series has been a long running production, the list of seiyuus is a very long one indeed. I guess some who played supporting characters even lend their voice as minor characters in the sense that they voiced a character in an earlier arc and then another character in a much later arc. Some of the usual main casts had a change albeit briefly. Especially Chopper and Nami’s voice, for a short stretch I noticed that the seiyuus for them sounded slightly different (In the case of Chopper’s seiyuu, I found out she was on maternity leave, so they needed a temporary replacement). After watching too much episodes, you’ll get used to Luffy’s loud and noisy behaviour that is voiced by Mayumi Tanaka (Mao in Chuuka Ichiban). She must be so used to the role by now. Other casts of the Straw Hat pirates include Kazuya Nakai as Zoro (Hijikata of Gintama), Akemi Okamura as Nami (Risa in Lovely Complex), Kappei Yamaguchi as Usopp (male Ranma in Ranma 1/2), Hiroaki Hirata as Sanji (Sha Gojo of Gensoumaden Saiyuki), Ikue Ootani (Pikachu of Pokemon), Yuriko Yamaguchi as Robin (Ritsuko of Neon Genesis Evangelion), Kazuki Yao as Franky (Bunshichi in Tenjou Tenge) and Yuuichi Nagashima as Brook (The Principal in Hidamari Sketch series). As for the rest, I’m sure if you’re interested, you can look it up by yourself. I’m just too tired to do the rest. It may take all day.
 
Speaking of the opening and ending themes, there are quite a number of them. They can range from catchy fast beats to slow tunes. I noticed that after the CP9 and Enies Lobby arc, the series does away with the ending themes and go straight into the next episode preview. That means, viewers will only get to see the opening theme but this time it lasts over 2 minutes! Of all the themes, the best one is still the first and original opening theme, We Are! by Hiroshi Kitadani. This upbeat and lively pop beat I think serves as the series’ overall theme. So much so there is a remake of this song in a hip-hop style much later in the series. Not only that, some of the background music are based around this tune as well. Speaking of which, there are a variety of them in the series with many of them sounding like a piece made for the grandeur of an orchestra concert. They may be action suspense or just buoyant. As for the soundtrack album, I did a little research on them and found out that some of the songs on initial albums are repeated over in later albums. Is it to make more money to fill up the CD so as not to make it look empty or is the old one out of print? Note the recent 12th opening theme, Kaze Wo Sagashite, sounds very gay… Ugh…
 
The popularity of the One Piece series isn’t just confined to manga and anime. Ever since its conception, there has been many TV specials, OVAs and even movies spawned over the years. People don’t get tired of them, do they? Then they have drama CDs, light novels, art books, guidebooks, video games and even trading card games! You have really got to be a real hardcore otaku and obsessed fan if you are going to have all the One Piece merchandise. Yeah, like a million pieces of the series worth of products. Haha! Thus it is no surprise that the manga won several awards not only in Japan but worldwide as well.
 
So what do you think that One Piece is at the end of the Grand Line? Well, at first thoughts based on the word itself, it may be a golden swimwear. Haha! Just kidding. Maybe it would turn out into something shocking and unexpected or something rather plain and disappoint many who has harboured high hopes of it. Whatever it is, I’ll be rooting for Luffy and co for the many adventures to come. So if you think Pirates of the Caribbean is tough, you haven’t seen anything yet. Now, if I were to have a Devil Fruit, what kind of powers should I have? Should I have the kind which saves the world or the one which destroys it or simply just for my own used like being able to understand animes without subs. Hey, wait! I could just take up Japanese classes instead. Hmm… Tough choice. Life isn’t as smooth sailing always.
 

One Piece

Pani Poni Dash

January 2, 2010

I love slapstick comedies. Even if they don’t make sense or filled with otaku and cultural references and parodies which I will never understand due to my limited and shallow knowledge. Pani Poni Dash is one of those crazy animes and those of you who intend to watch this series, make sure to have read up on a lot of stuff whether or not they are anime, manga, game or even worldwide facts if you want to enjoy this anime to the fullest. Me, I’m okay being in the blur because ignorance is another form of bliss.
 
Basically one of the main protagonist of the show is the 11 year old Rebecca Miyamoto of mixed heritage (daddy’s an American while mommy is a Japanese). Why is she so special? She’s a child prodigy, a genius if you may call at her age. At just 9 years old, she has graduated from the highly reputable Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). And 2 years on, she will be a teacher at Momotsuki High School. Hmm… What do you think about having a teacher younger than you? Sounds like Negima, eh? Don’t forget, she’s a genius. Well, sort of.
 
As seen in episode 1, she got lost on her way to school with her pet rabbit Mesousa. Hey, nobody is perfect, right? If not for the school authorities to bring her back, who knows where they’ll end up. I don’t know how a vending machine is supposed to be there right smack in the middle of the forest but remember, this series isn’t supposed to make any sense. Rebecca is to be in charge of Class 1-C since the previous teacher suddenly resigned due to reasons that can only be purposely censored. So meet the wacky bunch of Class 1-C. First up you’ll notice the dumb but energetic one, Himeko Katagiri. With her trademark ahoge and words like "Omega" and "Maho", you can tell that she is the loose cannon responsible for many silly and mindless antics. Then there is the mature one, the bespectacled Rei Tachibana. Though she may look cold on the outside, she has a heart and because of that is sometimes is dubbed the witch. Next is the bookworm Miyako Uehara. She has a large forehead area as many of her pals won’t hesitate to poke fun with it. It’s also so shiny that you can see reflected things on it. Then there’s the nice girl Sayaka Suzuki AKA Rokugou who has "~ of the year" in most of her lines. Then there is the plain girl Kurumi Momose. Need I say more? Finally, the class rep, the mysterious and unpredictable Ichijou. Just like Himeko, Ichijou is also responsible for lots of unnecessary troubles but because of her enigmatic, erratic and questionable behaviour and thinking, I guess nobody dares make a move.
 
So the girls of 1-C are thrilled to have a cute little girl as their homeroom teacher and you can’t blame them for wanting to have fun with Becky, whom the girls fondly call her. But as I said, being a genius doesn’t mean being perfect. Since the girls bombard her with many questions, she gets so scared and like a little girl starts crying and sobbing her trademark "Hauhau" lines and hide behind the curtains. This won’t happen once but many times over the series. Her little girl attitude doesn’t confine to this but sometimes Rebecca acts lazy among others, what teachers should not do so the girls will have to persuade or even put their foot down, which includes scaring her. Poor Rebecca will go into that crying mode and hide behind whatever there is while saying "Hey, I’m a teacher!" so much so she has to be pacified to come back out. So in this episode, Rebecca on her first day is being traumatized by the teasing and bullying of her students. In the end, the class apologize for their behaviour, she manages to sum up her courage and after putting her foot down by telling them not to treat her like a kid and she takes their attendance.
 
In many of the episodes, there is basically no particular plot except the so called random adventures that Rebecca will have with her students. Aside that, there will be many other colourful characters to add to the list and complications. Let me briefly introduce them here. For instance the old fart and homeroom teacher of Class 1-D, Jijii, and his students Misao Nanjou (an obsessed animal lover sometimes bringing her entire zoo to school), Behoimi (some Healing Type Magical Girl), Akane Serizawa (a drama club costume freak), Tsurugi Inugami (a conservative and serious guy who unfortunately Nanjou seems to put the blame on for whatever unrelated reasons) and Akira Miyata (world’s clumsiest girl). Then there is drunkard homeroom teacher of Class 1-A Miyuki Igarashi and her students Shu Momose (Kurumi’s twin brother who excels in cooking), the Kashiwagi twins Yuuma and Yuuna (reminds me of Kyou and Ryou of Clannad), Yuzuko Kurusu (a movie club member with a penchant for wearing weird movie costumes).
 
Then there is class 1-B with the nice P.E. teacher Saotome and his students Suzune Shiratori (a tall girl), Otome Akiyama (a short girl but always being bullied by Shiratori), Hibiki Watanuki (an intelligence club member), Zula (is this transfer student a he or a she?) and Yanki (a typical looking delinquent. Before I forget, I also want to mention about Mesousa. Viewers will find that poor rabbit to be used, abused and ignored for just about everything. Whether to be substituted to take another person’s place or as a guinea pig in some dangerous experiment, Mesousa sure comes in ‘handy’. It’s like nobody cares about this rabbit ever. And if you think Kurumi is being ignored is bad enough, you should see Mesousa’s case. Plus, Mesousa don’t have fingers so anything he grabs will slip off from his hands, sending that rabbit into further depression. As the series goes by more side characters will appear such as Neko Kamisama (some freaky cat from the vending machine who always want to give Mesousa his body warmth can drink and ends his sentences with "~Nya". Yeah, he appears just about anywhere too), some weird looking salamander that proclaims itself to be some endangered species Oosanshouou (ends his sentences with "Kero") and a raccoon dog named Tanuki (ends his sentences with "Yansu").
 
Other things you will notice in each episode is that besides the usual Rebecca and her students, there will be short ‘filler’ clips about the other characters mentioned though it won’t really be related to the storyline of that particular episode. Then there are those mushroom headed aliens who decide to observe Earthlings from their parody USS Enterprise using Rebecca as their subject. Note how the leader is always goofing around doing random and useless things. Makes you wonder if they’ll ever succeed in their mission. Remember Keroro Gunsou? Plus, there’s some rule that they can’t intervene or help out as they can only watch. If you notice if all the other unimportant extra students in class resemble the same like some mannequin, that’s because they are! Talk about saving budget. Furthermore, at certain points, the episode will show it an angle that they are filming this whole series like showing the backdrops, props and staff filming the show. So are you still with me? I know I’m already lost but I got used to all the craziness after a while.
 
Just like in episode 2, Rebecca shows her lazy self as she doesn’t make an effort to remember her student’s names, upsetting them. I guess it’s better to call them by their nicknames, eh? So much so this hurts Kurumi a lot because well, she’s a plain girl. No girl would like to be called that (even though purposely that’s her role). Kurumi confines herself in the rabbit coup. Rebecca goes to sooth her but ends up making matters worse because she still can’t remember her name. Ichijou’s solution? Use Mesousa as Kurumi’s replacement! No, not as replacement in Rebecca’s class, but to accompany her so that she won’t be lonely! Can you understand how this girl thinks? Later, a robot has replaced one of Rebecca’s students but they realized the robot is a fake and knows she is Serizawa and won’t let her leave. Then she needs to go to the toilet but can’t hold much longer and explodes. In the end, Serizawa escapes and Rebecca manages to remember the name of her students. However Igarashi notes there is one she can’t remember and that is Kurumi, she falls into despair once more. Welcome to Mesousa’s world.
 
Rebecca is pissed off with Himeko’s constant hyper active behaviour in episode 3 so much so she rips off her ahoge. Okay, that’s one way of stopping her because now she is like a lifeless zombie. During PE, Rebecca pities seeing Himeko in such a state and decides to return her ahoge but to her dismay it is missing. Then during recess, Himeko’s ahoge is replaced with a chopstick and she is back to her energetic self. But when she takes off her chopstick to eat, she returns to her lifeless state. Rebecca decides to conduct experiments to recreate the ahoge. Guess what? She uses Mesousa as her test subject. Dangerous results including the ahoge exploding and weird stuff growing out from Mesousa’s head. Then they found out the reason their experiment didn’t work was because they were using Ichijou’s hair all along. In the end, with Himeko getting her ahoge back, she is back to her super energetic ways, continuing to hound Rebecca.
 
In episode 4, Rebecca announces a sudden quiz and has her students alarmed. The gang decide to go to an inn to do some study and since they are having so much fun like soaking in baths and taking a sauna, hardly any studying is done. Yeah, how did a study session turn into a slumber party? Yeah, they also treat Shu as some sort of servant, wanting him to do this and do that. Understandably Miyako is pissed. So they decide to cheat even though Rebecca is in the same room and has overheard their plans, they continue to ignore her! So morning comes and it’s test day, how will day face it? Ichijou suggests wearing specs like Miyako and I think they’re letting Miyako taking the test since she was the only one who tried to study. Should have had fun with them.
 
The entire school takes a camping trip in episode 5. Furthermore, it turned rainy season. Thanks to Ichijou. They are divided into groups of 4 and though Kurumi came up with this idea, she forgot to put her name on the list and becomes depressed once more. Rebecca cheers her up and offers to be in her group along with Mesousa (as Kurumi number 2!) but this further depresses her. So who is the 4th person in her group? Ichijou introduces Oosanshouou. While there are rumours that there is a kappa in the woods, Miyako is searching for firewood when she spots a missile being fired into the air. Then it gets weirder when the group sees several kappas polishing a missile. As usual, Rebecca becomes lazy and doesn’t want to put in effort as she tries to intercept Rei’s group to get a free meal. Not until she hears Rei offering mouth watering delicious Chinese cuisines did she instantly starts working. In the end, everyone has a delicious meal and that’s when Mesousa realized that Oosanshouou has become part of the meal. Yeah, everyone has a taste of that salamander. Don’t worry. This is not the end of it as it will make more appearances in future episodes. Finally as everyone gets ready to do a bonfire dance, Ichijou prays for rain…
 
Rebecca manages to convince the principal to have a research lab of her own in episode 6. Because of that, her students are interested in checking out her lab rather than studying in her class. It seems her new lab is located in some old section of the school. And rumours have it that old school buildings are haunted. Upon reaching the place, they also find it in a mess. Then they spot a door on the ceiling and as usual, Ichijou causes the trouble when the door opens, some horrible menacing creature starts to attack them and barely manages to hardly contain the threat. Later, Rei puts a sign on Rebecca’s lab door making it look like Rebecca is doing some counselling. A few students come in to talk about their problems such as Yuuna and Miyata. In the end, her 1-C students come in to have fun with her as they share their snacks and can drinks.
 
Because Rebecca lost a scissors-rock-paper game among the teachers, she has to clean to school pool and makes her class stay back to do so in episode 7. Some teacher. To make things worse, Rebecca refuses to lend a hand. Of course there is a solution. Herald Mesousa as Rebecca’s replacement. This rabbit is sure useful. Not. He can’t hold anything, remember? The girls punish Rebecca via some pinball parody for lazing around. Elsewhere Ichijou’s little sister (whom I’ll refer to as Imouto) appears and causes her brand of mischief. Yeah, birds of the same feathers… As Rebecca helps out with her students (I’m not sure how the pool monster came about but they manage to defeat it with Behoimi’s help), they see Inugami with Imouto but this time the little sister has grown to be giant size. How did it happen? Well, the mushroom aliens briefly kidnapped her and did something accidental on her before sending her back down. Everyone sends Mesousa to attack Imouto but she jumps off the building! The aliens also did some film editing to undo their blooper and return Imouto back to her original size. So Imouto soft lands on Mesousa. As Ichijou introduces Imouto, the brat drew pictures of her interpretation for some of the people she sees. Like Rebecca, a bag of cross bones and skull (dangerous!) while nothing for Kurumi (that plain, huh?). Everyone finishes cleaning up the pool and takes a dip. Imouto causes her mischief by releasing the air from Rebecca’s inflatable bed and sends her sinking to the bottom. She is saved by Nanjou’s pet crocodile but got scared out of her wits (she was carried out in its mouth) as she is soon sent to hospital.
 
Behoimi takes the spotlight in episode 8. It all started when she saved a boy from a tofu seller bicycle and that kid wanted to see her magic very much. But she notes she hasn’t mastered her magic yet. In school, Behoimi encounters lots of annoyance from her fellow friends and classmate. Then Yuuna and Yuuma proceed to dress up Behoimi in several outfits for a new look. But all that attention came to a crashing halt when they figure Rebecca is cuter in her lab coat and ignores Behoimi. Behoimi tries to help her fellow students with their problems but it didn’t turn out well in the end. She gets depressed so Rebecca cheers her up and learns she is using her magic secretly because if other people finds out, she will have to return to her magical kingdom. Seriously? The girls of 1-C decide to help her out and I’m not sure that the ritual they did resembled like some black magic thingy. It went awry and summoned some monster and blamed it on Mesousa. How convenient. Then the rabbit coop catches fire. Saotome manages to save the rabbits but Oosanshouou is still trapped inside. What is it doing in there anyway? Have to save it because it’s an endangered species, you know. Behoimi rushes in without giving thought for her own safety. As she clings on to Oosanshouou, it started to rain and the fire doused. Everyone thinks it is her magic. They then wish farewell to her because they think she has to return to the magic kingdom. Now she to go back. Later, Behoimi rescues that boy from a tofu seller bicycle but he doesn’t recognize her because Behoimi now looks like a normal plain boring bespectacled girl. In future episodes, Behoimi will don this appearance but at times will transform to her magical girl for a short period when necessary.
 
In episode 9, Rebecca is being invited by her MIT professor for an archaeology expedition on some island during. The Professor’s assistant, Media, comes crashing into Rebecca’s boat to greet and pick her up. When they reached the island, Rebecca is shocked to see her 1-C students there. As they continue their journey to Professor’s place, they encounter lots of weird animals (reminds me from the Hare+Guu series). Then they encounter a tree with lots of Mesousa hanging and they need to pick the real one. Too bad Rebecca picked one which doesn’t look like Mesousa. Purposely or does she not know how he looks like. Oh yeah, that rabbit is forgettable. Eventually they fell into a pit and arrived to where Professor is. Professor starts taking out a photo album and tell Rebecca’s students about her stint at MIT. Embarrassed Rebecca is against it so they tie her up (and fake Mesousa too) and carry on. When she was studying at MIT, lots of people would gather around her. But because of her cold nature, she eventually got isolated as everyone left her alone. Professor wanted to see Rebecca smile and told her some lame story in which Rebecca showed an evil grin. Hey, it’s still a smile. As everyone helps out with the expedition work, Professor is glad that Rebecca didn’t turned into a criminal as he has always thought she wanted to be a teacher to destroy Japan’s education system. Haha. Rebecca and her students resume class once vacation is over and looks like Media has become a new transfer student in Jijii’s class.
 
Rebecca wants her class to write what they did for summer in episode 10. Elsewhere, Behoimi confronts Media and it looks like the 2 know each other and once fought in the past. Media says she is here to look after Rebecca upon Professor’s request. They then notice a suspicious looking box and find out it is a bomb. There are several of them planted around school. They think that somebody is out to assassinate Rebecca. While the students are presenting their weird projects in class, Media and Behoimi are going around disarming the bombs with the former’s large tool box. Then on the final bomb, Rebecca comes in and unwittingly holds it. They have to be careful since this one has a motion sensor and any slight movement will cause it to explode. However Rebecca can’t hold it much longer as she needs to go to the toilet. Just before Media and Behoimi could cut the wire, Rebecca swiftly substitutes Mesousa in her place and rushes off to the toilet. Everybody is happy that Rebecca has escaped and since she is in no danger, everyone leaves that poor rabbit still holding the bomb right till the episode ends. Heartless girls…
 
In episode 11, Rebecca chides her students for using Rokugou as their errand girl. Later, Rokugou is seen riding with someone in a green convertible car. Media sees this and informs her friends so they misinterpret that the driver must be Rokugou’s boyfriend. Though she denies, in her embarrassment she runs away. The girls decide to find out who is Rokugou’s boyfriend and even convinces Rebecca to help them. To their surprise, Rokugou’s boyfriend is Jijii! Does she like older men? Soon Jijii takes Rebecca out on a wild spin and she has a hell ride of her life. I wonder if this guy really does have a driving licence. While Jijii and Rebecca are on their ‘world tour’, the girls find out the true owner of the car: Igarashi. She was just lending Jijii her car. The girls misinterpret that Rokugou and Igarashi are in some yuri relationship but Rokugou says she merely looked up and admire her. What does she see in that drunkard? They also learn that Rokugou was offered a ride home by Igarashi and she liked it very much. By that time, Jijii has returned and words couldn’t describe how pale Rebecca has become. Because of that, she develops a phobia of cars and finds it frightening to cross roads and even shiver when one zooms pass her. Hope she isn’t scarred for life.
 
Rebecca teaches her class on the topic of dreams in episode 12. Meanwhile the aliens have invented a device which reads people minds and they turn on each other when they reveal undesirable thoughts about the other. So much so they pointed the device at Rebecca but it accidentally hit Himeko. An explosion occurs. What is worse than having to find yourself stuck in a dream? To find yourself stuck in Himeko’s dream of course. Her dream is just as weird as her. Everything here has an ahoge. The weirdness experienced includes challenging some fat guardian (in which they lost) and eating crabs which are of low quality. They need to find Himeko in order to get out of this dream. They open a door to see a young version of Himeko. However that guardian isn’t happy that the door has been opened and once again challenges them to a duel. They use Mesousa first and you know the outcome lah. Seeing that this is Himeko’s dream, anything is possible so the girls unleash their own versions of super powers to defeat the guardian. Now that’s left is to wake from this dream. How? Everyone pinches Himeko’s face and in no time they get up in the real world, though nobody really remembers what happened. It ends with Rebecca giving an advice to her students "If you live life to the fullest every day, you don’t need to dream". Very true.
 
In episode 13, some intergalactic Banchou League comes looking for Rebecca to challenge her to a duel. Ichijou talks to the League which consists of a red bull, a ninja babe and a giant, that they have misunderstood, however their joy turns into despair when the League isn’t leaving. That’s because Ichijou told them that since they’ve come all the way here, would it be alright just to leave just like that empty handed and ruin their reputation? Yeah, the problem worsens. So they have no choice but to regroup and think of a plan to defeat them. They try using Serizawa dressed in a cow outfit to convince the red bull to fall in love with her but it didn’t work out. So the red bull and ninja babe enter the school to find Rebecca. The class learns that red bull has a crush on Shiratori and sends in a fake one. However he blasts her away so when the real one appears, she chops him down. Yeah, defeated just like that. Mysteriously, Ichijou manages to tie up the ninja babe. Then the giant starts smashing the school so the principal sends Rebecca to pilot a mecha called Pani Poni X and beats the crap out of him but stops short of chopping the giant with her mecha axe. She slaps his nose instead. The next day everything goes back to normal. Well almost. That ninja babe somehow becomes Ichijou’s servant. And yeah, poor Mesousa has been pinned down with a table ever since the start of the episode and nobody bothers to go help him. Still there…
 
Rebecca doesn’t like her lunch in episode 14 so she devises ways to get someone to cook for her seeing that she herself can’t cook. Rebecca manages to get Shu to cook for her when she notices a Tanuki as an ingredient. Tanuki is let down as the rest ponder what to do with him. Eventually they all decide to eat him because he is rich in collagen (some growth protein). One of Tanuki’s ability is to change into other people. However one can still recognizes Tanuki because his face still remains the same. Tanuki turns into Kurumi and I’m not sure if everyone is that dumb or just purposely wanting to piss her off because they believe it is her when his face is obviously not. Tanuki also turns into Igarashi and substitutes her class. Next day, Rebecca is horrified to find Shu absent due to illness. This means, nobody to cook for her. She pesters Rei to do so but the latter refuses. After throwing tantrums, Rebecca decides to cook herself. She is such a disaster. Nobody let her on cooking programmes ever. She turns good ingredients into some messy inedible stuff. I think she can match Bianchi’s poison cooking. Seeing how hard Rebecca is trying, Rei and the rest decide to help out. By the time they finish, recess is over. Took too long, eh? Yeah, find the Tanuki!
 
Class 1-C and Rebecca are hanging on for their lives in episode 15. Literally. A school trip somehow has their bus ended up on the edge of the clip and any tip in the scales of balance will send them plunging down below. Everybody sit still and don’t move. Even if some of them are in awfully weird positions. A flashback of how it all happened. Some hijacker enters the bus, Rebecca gets mad and tells him to stop waving his gun and they got chased by some truck till it ended up to where they are now. Of course things have to happen like a fire breaking out and Himeko feeling hungry. Every time Ichijou throws a snack, someone else intercepts, leaving Himeko who is at the end of the bus all hungry. Everyone for herself! Then a giant crab lifts the bus with its claws. Imouto appears to save the day by showing the crab with some peace drawing. The crab leaves but puts back the bus in its original position. Yeah, nothing changed. In the end, it is announced that they were all just on candid camera so everyone gets up and leaves like as though they were just acting out this danger scene. At this rate, one should try laughing mindlessly rather than trying to comprehend what is happening rationally.
 
The gang notices Ichijou is acting strange in episode 16 and based on Watanuki’s information, she saw her shed a tear outside a bridal shop. Rebecca and the rest try to ask Ichijou but she thinks they are targeting her and goes on the run. They split into groups to go in search for Ichijou but she is so sly that she manages to give everyone the slip. Meanwhile Mesousa joins the courage club run by Oosanshouou to increase his well, courage. After all that abuse, I think this rabbit really needs it. The alien henchman realizes that his captain has been communicating with Ichijou, which is against the rules (it seems that Ichijou and Imouto are the only ones who know that the aliens are watching them). Finally when Rebecca meets Ichijou, a car pulls up alongside as Ichijou steps in. The MIB in the car (looking a lot like Tommy Lee Jones) is trying to escape for Rebecca’s helicopter. They are going to fire Mesousa at the car (is this how being in the courage club pays off?) when an alien ship hits the car, sending it off the cliff. Thankfully Mesousa isn’t launched. We learn that the MIB guy is actually the alien’s captain as they beam him back to their ship. There are hints that Ichijou and the captain are in some relationship. The rest wonder if she is okay so Ichijou puts up a magic show to indicate that things are back to normal. Lastly as Watanuki, Miyata and Kurusu decide to join the courage club, they are confronted with Ichijou. Now they can never escape…
 
It’s the school festival in episode 17 but Rebecca isn’t happy because it involves lots of paperwork. Class 1-C decides to do a cafe. Money minded Rei comes up with several plans to overcome the budget problem they face. Like selling coloured chicks (?!). Then they have their cafe theme as Civil War Maid Cafe with the girls wearing colourful maid outfits. Elsewhere, Class 1-B does a haunted house while Class 1-D has some nature walk-cum-mahjong tournament. Whatever that is. In the end, Class 1-C’s cafe is a huge success and they reap huge profits. They’re going to have a major celebration when Saotome announces that all proceeds are to be donated to charity. Oh Rei… Surprisingly Rebecca seems to be enjoying herself at the festival and since she is happy, the rest feels that everything is okay and head down to the field for post-festival activities.
 
Mesousa is having a bad day in episode 18. Oh wait. Every episode is a bad day for him. This one is even worse because a loli bad luck goddess trainee attaches a time bomb on Mesousa’s head. Oh the misery. I guess the goddess is doing a fine job in this context. The bomb is supposed to go off in 3 days but Media messes with it so Mesousa has only 3 hours to live. Because the rabbit is being too noisy, Media throws him away so that she could find a solution. With that, Mesousa undergoes more misery and pain while trying to find the goddess and get the bomb of his head. Along the way he tried to ask for help to remove the bomb but either he got ignored or misinterpreted him. So bad luck. Meanwhile Behoimi, Media and Rebecca forcefully ties up Serizawa dressed up as Mesousa and put real time bombs on her to find a solution. Hey, it’s for realism effect and purposes. I don’t know how many times she exploded. Finally Mesousa enters a cafe where Kurumi is working part time and sees the goddess there. At the same time, Rebecca, Behoimi and Media has successfully found the answer and rushes over to the cafe. Everyone rejoices and celebrates that they have found the answer so much so they forgot to disarm the bomb and it goes off. Counting your chickens before they hatch, eh? Then we see Neko Kamisama talking to the goddess saying how she overdid it. Yeah, at the expense of other’s misery on a huge scale.
 
A mysterious Peach Moon Virus has infected the students of Class 1-C in episode 19 so much so they are quarantined. Jijii is also infected with the virus and has the word ‘peach’ on his forehead and is quarantined along with the girls (who also have words appearing on their forehead). Himeko tries to get out but when she touches the bar, she gets electrocuted. Rebecca is sent as Class 1-D’s replacement. Media wants Behoimi to transform into a magical girl and do her healing but she says she has already lost her powers. Media persuades her via teasing by taking her specs but it didn’t work. Soon everyone in Class 1-D starts accusing each other that they may be infected with the virus or the carrier. Especially Nanjou because of her pet animals. Finally the students turn against Rebecca and wants her to go see a doctor (Rebecca hates them by the way, fuelling their speculation). Chaos is going to break loose when Neko Kamisama and Oosanshouou tell tied up Mesousa to scream out loud. He does so in order to get everyone’s attention. For once, everyone gives Mesousa the deserved attention because he suggested the cure. It seems the virus’ weakness is for them to think differently and behaving totally opposite like a life form with no reason to live. As everyone returns to school, we learn the origin of the virus is from Ichijou. Well if you think Mesousa is going to get more attention, that’s about it. What happened to him in the end anyway? Ah, all forgotten as usual.
 
Episode 20 begins with eternal rivals between the movie and drama club facing off. Because they’re always under some costume, they don’t know the enemy’s real identity. Furthermore, Kurusu and Serizawa happen to be best of friends without their gears on. Oh, the enemy sleeping close by. Right under their noses. Other than that, Himeko is acting weird like snuggling up close to Rei and her ahoge being replaced by a mushroom. Ichijou takes her hand and Himeko gets electrocuted. When she comes to, everyone is surprised that Himeko is afraid of kids, especially Rebecca. This causes Rebecca to be upset. The girls later find Himeko enjoying basking in the sun. Later as they go talk to her, they find out that Himeko has been taken over by an alien mushroom whose real intention is to dominate Earth. Can’t believe it told them its plan. Furthermore, it explains its strange habits like why it hates children because back on its own planet, kids are violent. They tie up Himeko but the spores are about to explode and spread. The aliens can’t do anything because it will hurt the Earthling. Rebecca comes in and somehow Ichijou’s electrocuting arm zaps Himeko once more causing the mushroom off her top. In that exact moment, the aliens fire their beam to destroy it. Himeko is back to her usual self but Mesousa’s back is sprouting lots of those suspicious mushrooms… Also, since Himeko’s ahoge has shrunk, she wears a wig to make it look like her initial appearance didn’t change. Just like her ahoge, whenever her wig is pulled off, she loses her energy till it is bput back in place.
 
The drama and movie club once again in a stand-off in episode 21. However Serizawa is knocked unconscious and the next thing she knows that she is being dressed up as Rebecca by the students of Class 1-C. Why? It seems that the PTA is coming and Rebecca is nowhere to be found. They aren’t fond of having a kid as a teacher and will be here to observe and try to find fault to expel Rebecca. Since the girls of 1-C tried to dress up like Rebecca and failed miserably, I guess what better way than to shove it to a costume freak. Not even Mesousa. Surprisingly, Serizawa looks just like her! Even if she is reluctant, Serizawa is forced to act as Rebecca’s replacement. Yeah, Rei’s smooth talking of how Serizawa’s talent will go to waste made her changed her mind. So Serizawa underwent some sort of hell on-the-spot training in order to replicate Rebecca when the masked PTAs come in. Of course lots of near misses as nervous Serizawa tries to cope with the class even if they are trying to help out by using signboards on what to do (they’re facing the teacher, right?). To make things worse, Class 1-D are watching her! Including Jijii! Eventually the PTAs aren’t amused and think of her as a failure and are prepared to fire her. At that point, Serizawa has had it and gives them a piece of mind. She’s saying all they do is yap yap yap and they don’t know the hell that she’s been through (referring to this morning’s hell training as Rebecca rather than the MIT stint). Class 1-C applause and tells her to carry on. The PTAs are shocked, backs down and leave. So where is the real Rebecca? It seems when Rokugou comes in, everyone sees 2 of them. No, their eyes aren’t deceiving them. The fake Rokugou (the one who attended class) eventually turns out to be the real Rebecca and the reason why she did that was she didn’t like being observed and such. Serizawa goes ballistic. Yeah, the hell she went through today, it’s understandable.
 
Himeko tells Rebecca the reason she is late for school in episode 22. She was dreaming about romantic parting with some handsome guy. Not going to buy that story… This episode has a reporter and her crew doing a surprise interview on the classes of Momotsuki. However Rebecca doesn’t like the idea and locks herself in the lab while her students try to coax her out. Meanwhile the reporter goes around doing her surprise interview but eventually thinks she isn’t cut out for this kind of job because like Class 1-A Igarashi is trying to hog the limelight but her students badmouth her instead, or Class 1-D whereby Jijii tries to fix their class image but flops, and Class 1-B whereby she just closes the door after witnessing something terrible. Just when Rebecca is ready to be filmed, Oosanshouou lowers a head of a late ancestor, causing everyone to flee in fear. Next day, Himeko continues with her romantic dream as reason for coming to school late but as usual Rebecca doesn’t buy it.
 
The alien captain is distressed in episode 23. That’s because this series has only 4 episodes left! Umm… Yeah, it’s like the end of the world. Speaking of which, there are some strange events going on back down on Earth. Like it is freezing cold lately and Kurumi has gotten a cold. So the girls dream of doing things to warm up such as soaking in a hotspring among others. Then there are signs of misfortune befalling on the world as some of them are experiencing bad luck. Like Rebecca’s string of bad luck has her being chased by a dog after stepping on its tail and then a bucket of paint comes falling down on her head. Hmm… Maybe it’s divine retribution. Oddly Himeko isn’t happy she’s the only one that doesn’t have bad luck (WTF?!). Want so much to be with them, eh? Maybe because of that in a way, that’s her bad luck. Suddenly it starts snowing outside so the principal appears and with Oosanshouou as his translator, he tells of the legendary large comet that will destroy Earth and wants Rebecca and the girls to go save the Earth. They are being dressed up in sentai-like outfits (probably to suit the occasion) and have 31 days left to save the world from Armageddon.
 
But that save the world feat takes a backseat as in episode 24, we are travelled back in time to feudal Japan whereby Rebecca is a genius ruler but a cruel one. She imposes a Hauhau tax on the land. What is that? If anybody cries, they will be taxed mercilessly! This means, you can’t shed tears after some clumsy move, see a tear jerking movie or eat spicy food because her taxmen in the form of Yanki and Zula will instantly show up and impose the tax on the poor citizen. Unable to stand this tyranny anymore, some of them decide to stand up and rise against the tax. They are actually Rebecca’s Class 1-C students and in this episode they are commoners such as Rei, Kurumi and Rokugou are restaurant workers, Ichijou an instrument player while Miyako some chiropractic. I’m not sure about the reward which ended up being as cheap as 50 Yen but I guess we’ll have no other group doing it. One night, the rebellion heads over to Rebecca’s palace (they forgot Kurumi because she was waiting at the wrong place) and try intercepting her. However Rebecca shows that she is a genius and not a mere brat as every time the girls pull off a trap, Rebecca substitutes Mesousa in her place and taking the pain. Rabbits are so useful way back then too. Rebecca knows she’s being on to and tries to escape till she meets Rei. Cornered, Rei unleashes a scare tactic which brings Rebecca to her trademark "Hauhau" crying. Got a taste of her own medicine, eh? And since everything went well, they all gather and have a good laugh. Yeah, so is the tax abolished or what? But the ending is a blast. Literally. When the girls are having a hotspring bath together, Himeko spots a button at the back of Ichijou and presses it. The next thing you know, the whole office in which this series is produced, blows up! No more Pani Poni Dash? Not if they can help it.
 
Back to the world saving feat in episode 25. Since it’s so cold, the girls aren’t bothered to do such a heroic act even if it means they will die too. So principal has no choice but to announce free ticket meals for the entire school term in order to get them going. Yeah, they’re so up to it now. Cheapskate. Now they’re talking about peace and humanity. As the world is besieged with alien invasion, our heroines fly up to space and find out that the comet is in fact Ichijou Festival (some weird box which made its appearance back in the school festival episode). Ichijou goes up to it and manages to convince it to go back, much to the delight of the gang. But why is it returning and turning hostile? Ichijou did mention that would it be okay just to go back empty handed and ruin its reputation. Deja vu? Never learn, eh? Back to square one. Or worst off rather. Attacks on the comet remains futile till Ichijou says of its weakness. That is to get inside its core and destroy the shrine God is feasting on. Should’ve said that earlier. Well, it’s Ichijou we’re talking about. When everybody gets sucked into it, the girls find themselves succumbing to their dreams and desires and in their own dream world. Rebecca snaps them out of it by announcing a surprise quiz. Since everyone detests it, she asks do they hate school then. But everyone give their own reasons why they love school and will protect it. With that, they snap out of their dream and blast the shrine (which is inhabited by Neko Kamisama) to save the world. As everything goes back to normal, in class the girls wonder why Rebecca isn’t affected by the illusion and wonders if she doesn’t have any dreams but she says that she is happy with the way she is now. They all get their picture taken under the Earth Defence Memorial. Who says saving the world could be such a pain in the ass? By the way, Mesousa now has to deal with 2 Neko Kamisama. Double the pain.
 
It’s back to school in episode 26 but since the weather now takes a total u-turn and it is bloody hot! Too hot and lazy to study? No problem. The principal unleashes a giant pool resort right smack in the middle of school and cancel all classes while asking everyone to freely do as they wish. I want to enrol in this school too! Like they’ve done some real studying ever. Seeing that this is the final episode of the TV series, this episode is mainly random skits by the characters of the series as much as the producers can cramp in. They include Himeko dressing up in a yukata, Media and Behoimi swap dresses, Jijii putting on a magic show, some students go see Rebecca for counselling, the Kashiwagi twins drawing a funny face on Shu’s face while he is sleeping (but he isn’t sleeping), Himeko putting a lame doll play in front of Rebecca, Jijii selling some invisible stuff, Shiratori displaying a twisted Red Riding Hood puppet theatre, poor Mesousa getting launch into space as punishment for not being able to say things out loudly and finally the aliens get disturbing news that their mother planet is going to annihilate Earth tomorrow! Why? They think Earthlings are dangerous organisms even if the data the aliens sent back are just Rebecca’s. Yeah, I guess they’re afraid of a genius. Just then, Rebecca appears because she thinks somebody has called her. WTF?! Don’t think too much because the whole prop stage then breaks down for the end credits. Rebecca takes her class attendance and tells those foolish people to be in high spirits. Not liking what she calls them, they scare her again and send her to her usual crying state. Finally as Mesousa thanks the aliens for saving him, he gets disheartened to know that he is going back to their home planet with them! The long ride of his life! Will he return? Misery right to the end. But I think he’s better off on the new planet because he won’t get bullied anymore. Unless those aliens… Oh yeah, the alien captain mentioned how plans to annihilate Earth has been scrapped. Phew.
 
There is an OVA episode released in April 2009 for those who can’t get enough of the weird randomness. This time, Himeko, Rei, Miyako, Kurumi, Yuuna, Serizawa and Akiyama failed some test and will have to resit them. However they can bypass that if they win the kick-the-can game. Why go through all that trouble? Who cares. Anyway Rebecca who is in charge of the game doesn’t know what it is so her students mock her. She gets pissed and vows to make the resit the test. The game starts at 3pm and ends at 5pm. If anyone from the Team Fail kicks the can, they will not resit the test. However if they fail to do so or get captured by Rebecca’s team (include students who did not fail the test), then it’s game over. The game starts as Kurumi, Akiyama and Miyako slowly get captured due to their handphone ringing which gave away their location (plus the selfishness to save themselves from the rest). Rebecca enjoys the praises she gets from her team like as though she’s a genius. The balance of Team Fail manages to cause a slight diversion and chaos for the pursuers before Himeko and Yuuna got captured. Time is nearly up when Inugami realizes Rebecca to Serizawa in disguise (too tall, remember?). She heads towards the can but Ichijou is in the way. Rei appears and says to attack at the same time. However, Rei tackles Serizawa and brings her down. It seems this fake Rei is Rebecca in disguise as the real one has just been captured. Seconds before the pursuers could claim victory, Ichijou betrays the team and kicks the can, letting Team Fail win. Yeah, she just wanted to kick it.
 
Wow. I don’t even know where to begin my summary for this series. All I can say that it has been really a fun and enjoyable ride from start to finish even if many of the jokes and parodies I didn’t fully comprehend. But it is presented in such a way that I can’t help but automatically laugh. Maybe it’s just me. The good thing about a series like this without a plot is that you don’t have to crack your head thinking how everything ends up. Just sit back and watch the hilarious unfold mindlessly and anarchy in front of you. Unless you consider all that cluttering parody a headache. Therefore, I don’t want to question what Ichijou and Imouto’s relation is with the aliens seeing that they are the only humans who know that they are being observed, at times waving back at the surprised observers. I also don’t see how Media is keeping an eye on Rebecca seeing that she is always with Behoimi and trying to return the latter to her magical girl ways.
 
If the series resembles a lot like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, then it is because it is produced from the same company, Shaft. For instance, the nonsensical writings on the blackboard or notice board cluttering the background which seems to change at every turn of the scene. Yeah, purposely want you to make you pause and read all that. Also there are lots of things floating across or popping up from the side of the screen whether it is the head of that fast food mascot Ronald McDonald to in-series characters like Imouto or some other weird things in which I feel if your knowledge on anime and cultural is sky-high, you can definitely identify them. You need to have a sharp and quick eye to spot all these at almost every second. Hats off to the fansubbers who did an amazing job of putting up translator notes so much so I got tired of pause and reading them. Heck, I think in the later episodes they just put up a pdf file for viewers to go refer the reference so as not to clutter the screen.
 
Though the drawing and art of the series has the characters looking kawaii and moe, they also adopt various other art and designs whether they are short cameo trademark drawings of popular known series or video game screen displays (like those RPG or dating simulations). Another interesting aspect is the angle and perspective of how it is shown. For example, characters would turn into chibi form doing their antics onscreen or the screen would turn into like one you see in news channels (complete with scrolling information and weather forecast). Speaking of data, in the earlier episodes I remember when they introduced a character, they will display their name and certain points of to some of their personalities. Then in the final episode, they also did the same thing but this time they include hobbies and the character’s seiyuu. They also use various arts for scene changers and mid-intermission like in the initial episodes Behoimi was the ‘official’ scene changer and later that sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. Another thing that I noticed in almost every episode, Rebecca will appear in different fashion or hairstyle. Something ‘refreshing’ in the sense that you don’t expect to see the same mundane designs for a main character episode in and episode out.
 
Each of the characters are very likeable in their own way, which makes them all unique in the first place. The most pitiful one is of course Mesousa. You have to agree with me on this, no? Right up till the end that rabbit is nothing but to be used for someone else’s plans. But think about it, that’s his role, right? Something is funny only at the expense of others. Even Kurumi and that emergency food supply Oosanshouou do not have it that bad. While Rebecca may be a genius, but she is still a child and I wonder if being a teacher would take away her childhood. Who cares but looks like she’s having fun with her class. I don’t think Rebecca would change her attitude any time soon or any of her students would too. It won’t be fun anymore if Himeko isn’t the dumb one or if Ichijou loses her enigmatic erratic troublemaking thinking. The other side and minor characters from the other class may not make much appearance as Class 1-C but still they add to the overall fun of the series. Maybe they should’ve let Jijii make more appearances. Or just let that old geezer die of…
 
The voice acting is excellent. I was surprised to learn that Chiwa Saito was the voice behind Rebecca. After hearing her voice brute tough girls like Kirie from Girls Bravo, Natsumi of Keroro Gunsou and Aika of Aria The Animation, I would never suspect her to perfectly voice such a bratty little girl. Good job. Initially I thought Yui Horie was the one behind Himeko due to her energetic and dumbness but once again to my surprise Himeko is voiced by Fumiko Orikasa, who also did Miu in Ichigo Mashimaro and Torako in Hyakko. Come to think of it, she does sound like her. Yui Horie instead voices Miyako. Yeah, the voice of Kotori in Da Capo and Eri of School Rumble. I also though Tomoko Kaneda was the voice behind Mesousa but instead a relative unknown seiyuu Vanilla Yamazaki. Boy, she sure did a nice job making Mesousa sound shaky, among other pitiful states that poor rabbit has to go through. Other casts include Ai Nanoka as Ichijou (Fuura of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei), Satsuki Yukino as Rei (Kagome in Inu Yasha), Kana Ueda as Kurumi (Mikan of Gakuen Alice), Kayo Sakata as Rokugou, Miyuki Sawashiro as Serizawa (Shinku of Rozen Maiden), Miyu Matsuki as Media (Yoshinoya in Hidamari Sketch), Mai Kadokawa as Behoimi (Mimi in Kodomo No Jikan), Ryoko Shintani as Miyata (Milfeulle of Galaxy Angel), Hitomi Nabatame as Nanjou (Akira in Special A), Hiroshi Kamiya as Inugami and Neko Kamisama (Nozomu in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei), Sawa Ishige as Yuuna and Yuuma (Benika in Kurenai), Hiroshi Ootake as Jijii, Mugihito as the alien captain (Zenjurou in Kamen No Maid Guy) and Tomokazu Sugita as the alien subordinate (Gintoki in Gintama). I later found out that Oosanshouou’s voice changes in most of the episodes as different seiyuus voice it in different episodes. Not that I can tell the difference anyway since its voice always sound like it is speaking through underwater.
 
All of the opening and ending themes have the fun feeling in them. Furthermore, the animation of the opening and ending credits of some are filled with craziness and parodies like opening theme 1 Kiiroi Vacancies, ending theme 1 Girlppi and the lively mambo-like opening theme 2 Roulette Roulette. Ending theme 3 Moon Light Love has its animation with characters of the series on tarot cards while opening theme 3 Shoujo Q has the characters like split in half revealing their insides. Erm… Yeah… Each of the animation differs for each episode (for instance, random characters appearing) albeit not much so you really have to sit and watch through all of them if you’re really particular about this. I mean, it beats your typical standard recycled opening and ending animation, same animation after every episode. Thus in a way it’s like extra eye candy for viewers. There are other special ending themes for certain single episodes like Healing Type Magical Girl Behoimi for episode 8, the olden Japanese-like song Haruka Na Yume (episode 13) and Setsugetsuka (episode 24).
 
On a trivial note, the next episode preview is called Hekiru Hikawa Theatre (the creator of the series). While a random character rant about stuff which don’t relate to what is in store for the next episode, the ‘theatre’ is displayed in yonkoma comic style such as Ichijou or Himeko in some head chopping antic and Rebecca facing off with some tanned clone of herself. Each of the episode titles are named after Japanese adages like "An 8 Year Old Sage Beats A 100 Year Old Brain" and "A Wise Man Will Know When To Approach Danger". So I guess this is the only part where you can learn something educational. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of them ;p. Just after the ending credits and before the Hekiru Hikawa Theatre, there are little more short clips of randomness which isn’t related to the flow of that episode. Much of it is left hanging or end in certain ways which made me go "What was that all about?". And just like how Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei episode ends, each episode has random illustrations and sketches of the series’ characters from different people.
 
If everybody in this world was as smart as Rebecca, graduating from famous institutes at tender young ages, heck, why do we need schools in the first place? So do you think it would be fun to have a teacher half your age? Can’t resist playing or bullying? Just remember it is not what the outside that counts. Hmm… Maybe it’s not a good idea to have kids with attitudes like Rebecca teaching a class of oddballs. It’s like a recipe for disaster. Me, I think I need to get myself a Mesousa. I need a multi-purpose standby rabbit too, you know! Maho!
 

Pani Poni Dash

HAPPY NEW YEAR! And as usual what a way to start the brand new year with an anime blog. Hopefully there will be more ‘interesting’ animes for me to watch and discover during the next 365 days.
 
The fascination with pink haired anime girls continues… This time those girls whom I feel do not fit into one of my earlier categories as airhead, menace or kick ass. That’s right. This time these are the girls which I find and considered to be moe. What does moe mean? For those anime otakus out there, you should at least know this term. For those who don’t moe (pronounced mou-eh) is a slang which refers to the attraction or appealing factor of a particular character (especially girls) in animes, mangas or video games. That’s generally how I would put it. Well even so, the moe-ness level of a particular character very much depends on the taste of a particular person. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Before this gets out of hand, here is the list of pink haired moe anime girls. In no particular order.
 
Miyuki Takara (Lucky Star)
Miyuki Takara
Many otaku viewers would classify her moe points as a typical meganekko (bespectacled girl). What’s not to like about her? She is from a wealthy family, intelligent, well mannered, beautiful (erm… the drawing of the series in my opinion says otherwise) and friendly. Better still, for a girl of her age, she is quite well endowed. Because of this she is often the object of ‘sexual harassment’ of Konata. Miyuki is also quite knowledgeable, pays attention to details and helps out her friends with their studies. Though she isn’t totally perfect and has fears of visiting the dentist but even so this does not overshadow her other good qualities.
 
Riko Fukamine (Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~)
 Riko Fukamine
Seeing that this is a character from a drama-harem-comedy-romance series, it is no surprise that even if she is the younger sister of Haruhiko, they are not blood related. She returned to her hometown after spending many years away. I guess in this aspect viewers could consider to be moe seeing that her best pal Kirino takes the role of Haruhiko’s childhood friend and next door neighbour. She felt guilty when she broke her promise made with Kirino not to use her Gift towards Haruhiko. In the end, both girls reconcile and Riko ends up as Haruhiko’s girl.
 
Makie Sasaki (Mahou Sensei Negima)
Makie Sasaki
A hardworking and energetic girl from the rhythm gymnastics club. Even if she is hardworking, she still isn’t good in her studies as she is one of the Baka Rangers (the pink one). Perhaps she is always daydreaming about gymnastics. Because of that, it is no surprise that she carries her her gymnastics ribbon along with her everywhere she goes. And her moe part is that even if she is an expert in gymnast, she is still clumsy at times. See the connection? Clumsiness + strings = super kawaii!
 
Tenko Kamiyama (Kamisama Kazoku)
 Tenko
I suppose that if God had a son and have to groom him to be the next God but is too busy to do so himself, might as well assign an angel to be his guardian. Tenko was born on the same day as would-be God Samatarou and her fate sealed to be his guardian ever since until he is ready to move on with his own feet. She acts as Samatarou’s conscious and guide through life while being conflicted with her own emotions and feelings for him. Ironically, she initially lacks general knowledge of human customs and traditions. Whenever she gets embarrassed a little puff of cloud explosion appears over her head.
 
Nao Morisaki (Soul Link)
Nao Morisaki
As a medical and paramedic student of the military academy, she is kind, warm and passionate. Does not have much of a fighting ability as compared to the rest of her comrades. Has a crush on the academy’s prodigy, Shuhei. During the terrorist hijack of the Aries space station, she got infected by the deadly and mysterious Sukurya cells too. In the aftermath, she lives happily after and secretly with Shuhei along with their ‘daughter’ Nanami.
 
Ermin (Tears To Tiara)
Ermin
One of the House Elves who guarded and took care of the Avalon castle while Arawn was in his long slumber. She later becomes his third wife because she wanted to. She also drew a picture book about Arawn and Pwyll.
 
Misora Ayukawa (Lamune)
Misora Ayukawa
Biker girl with a Honda CB400 SUPER BOL D’OR model. Which guy wouldn’t find her moe if you’re the kind that is into big bikes too? She is from the city and was visiting the countryside when her motorbike broke down. She had to stay longer because unauthorized mechanic Kenji don’t know how to fix it and made it worse. During her stay, she temporarily works at Nanami’s family shop.
 
Miwako Sakurada (Paradise Kiss)
 Miwako Sakurada
An art student working along with her group of classmates to create their fashion line brand called Paradise Kiss. A sweet and cute girl, Miwako loves dressing up in Lolita styled dress and tends to act a little child-like but because of that, she is liked by many people including the group’s model and newcomer Yukari. She has a crush on both her childhood friends Arashi and Tokumori. In the end she chose to be with Arashi as she loves him dearly though she felt guilty for hurting Tokumori.
 
Tamao Tamamura (Shaman King)
 Tamao Tamamura
A relatively shy girl who holds a secret crush on Yoh even if she knows too well that he is engaged with Anna. Always seen carrying a sketchbook with her because of her shy personality, she uses it to communicate with other people. I know some people may find shy girls to be a moe point but over shy like this? Tamao’s special ability is to perform divinations using her kokkuri board and has 2 spirits Ponchi and Conchi which comically resembles Ren and Stimpy.
 
Miu (DearS)
Miu
She is supposed to be the official transfer student representing the DearS at Koharu High School. However the supposedly imperfect DearS, Ren, somehow took her place due to mixed up circumstances. Obviously Miu is upset because everyone believes her to be the fake and impersonator! Though she tries to challenge Ren whom she considers her rival, eventually she takes it upon herself to train Ren to be a better DearS. Along the way, this tutoring with backfiring side effects has her realizing her love for Takeya but eventually realizes that he is in love with Ren.
 
Komaki Asagiri (Kujibiku Unbalance OVA)
 Komaki Asagiri
In addition to being a quiet and thoughtful girl who is to be Rikkyouin High School’s next student council treasurer, she is also quite an intelligent person. She also takes on a motherly role and responsibilities for her siblings and does the household chores. The reason for her wearing the scarf over her neck 24/7 on all occassions is unknown but I guess that factor makes her moe, doesn’t it?
 
Nodoka Haramura (Saki)
 Nodoka Haramura
She is one of the new recruits for her Kiyosumi High School mahjong club. Besides her notably obvious bust size (probably her moe point), she is revered and respected by many as a genius seeing that she is the reigning champion for the national middle school division. Whenever she plays mahjong, she carries her stuffed doll penguin named Etopen. It gives her a sense of calmness while doing so. Initially not too fond of her team mate Saki, eventually she becomes her close friend.
 
I know, I know. The list here isn’t really complete. I know there are many more missing and famous pink haired moe ladies which should be included in this or the previous list such as Lacus Clyne (Gundam SEED Destiny), Amu Hinamori (Shugo Chara!), Kurumi (Steel Angel Kurumi), Ichigo (Tokyo Mew Mew), Himeno Awayuki (Pretear), Utena Tenjou (Revolutionary Girl Utena), Tsubomi Okuwaka (Strawberry Panic), Sumomo (Chobits), Lucy (Elfen Lied), Akiha Shishido (Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo), Rini Chibiusa (Sailormoon), Megumi Minami (Detective School Q), Michi (Weiss Survive), Mio (Needless) and Kuniko Houjou (Shangri La). One major reason is because I haven’t watched those animes so I can’t really say or comment much about them.
 
Also there are some which I feel that their hair colour isn’t really pink. Some are too light and lean towards light red (Risa of Lovely Complex) while there are those that are too dark (Minori of Toradora and Nene of Hyakko). Then there are those which fall towards purplish colour like Rabien Rose from Di Gi Charat. So in my opinion that is why they aren’t really included too. I know that some of the hair colour of anime girls in my lists are debatable but hey, they seem pink to me. You can argue if you want too. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion.
 
I’m sure that there are many more pink haired anime girls out there whether they are main, supporting, side or extra and non-significant characters. And they certainly come in a wide variety characters and personalities and not confined to the ones I have blogged. And the colour pink is certainly not only restricted to hair but others like eyes and clothing. Now I better close this topic before I get pink fever and hazard. Thank goodness I’m still in pink of health. Pink, Pink Floyd, Pink Panther, Pink Slip, Pink Films, Pink Ribbon, Pinky and the Brain… Argh! Don’t worry, I’m still alright. I pink. I mean, I think.