Linebarrels Of Iron

February 27, 2010

Let me assert this again. I am not a mecha fan. I repeat. I AM NOT A MECHA FAN. So what prompt me to go watch Kurogane No Linebarrels AKA Linebarrels Of Iron despite fully aware that this is a mecha series before hand? Firstly, during that time I was unsure on what animes to watch (yeah right). Secondly, if not for my favourite seiyuu Mamiko Noto voicing a particular main character, I would have definitely given this a pass.
 
So based on my opinion, this mecha genre is another typical shonen affair. You know. Junior high school kid gets power in the form of a huge mecha, uses it to fight against hordes of evil bent on taking over the world. Powers up. Fights more villains. Meet new friends and the likes while battling equally more powerful enemies. Expect the usual mecha-busting-city-destroying type of action, if you know what I mean. Of course don’t forget the little fanservice and love triangle comedy. Oh yeah. I guess this was the other part which ‘attracted’ me to watch the series too.
 
And that lucky guy would be 14 year old Kouichi Hayase of Misaki City, Japan. His life is about to take a drastic turn. Well, it’s better than the current because as seen in episode 1, this guy is being bullied by his classmate Furuya and his underlings. Though he has got his best friends Risako Niiyama and Hideaki Yajima (I feel his face is too mature to be a junior high student) to stand up for him, Kouichi allows himself to get bullied because he believes he is some sort of "seigi no mikata" (hero of justice). Another bullying errand has Furuya sending Kouichi to buy bread for them. Along the way, Kouichi gets smashed by a mecha falling from the sky. Yeah, he had to be at the right place at the right time. Or rather wrong place, wrong time. So the results? He died. End of story. Just kidding. But is he really dead or in Heaven? He finds himself unscathed while the ground around him is turned into a crater and… a naked girl lying unconscious besides him. Oh yeah! This must be Heaven. Oh what’s this? A giant white mecha named Linebarrel is next to him too? How cool can this Heaven get? Well, he’s not. He’s still on Earth. So this girl, Emi Kizaki, wakes up, embarrassed about her nudity, Kouichi gives his shirt, she has no memories of what happened previously whatsoever, he takes her back to his home.
 
Then a terrorist group using mechas called ARMAs attack the city. ARMAs take out good mechas easily (a probable hint to show that they need a more powerful hero). Emi’s instinct tells her these are her enemies and rushes out with Kouichi tagging behind. Along the way, they bump into Yajima who is looking for missing Kouichi. He tries to bring him back to school but Kouichi is reluctant so during the heat of the battle, a mecha is flung their way and Yajima protects them by holding up a collapsed wall with all his strength. Instead of being grateful, Kouichi feels pissed because his flashback shows us that he’s always being protected by Yajima and Risako from Furuya and co. Yeah, this bullying thing goes way back. No wonder he’s like that. Since he’s so upset, Kouichi punches a nearby wall and destroys it. Wow! Since when he become powerful like Superman? Heck, it was enough for Emi to regain a little of her memories back and realize that he is the chosen one. She invites him to fight alongside her, places his hand on her breasts (yeow!) and summons Linebarrel and whoosh! That giant white robot appears. Kouichi is bloody confident with his newfound abilities as he pilots Linebarrel like a pro. Is this the kind of justice he has been waiting for? Furthermore, Linebarrel can quickly heal any damage taken. He easily overwhelms the ARMAs and its division leader, Sawatari. In the end, the baddies retreat while Kouichi gloats his new power. However his joy is cut short when Emi says that he is dead. Erm… So is this all a dream. Nope. He really died. Just that he came back to life courtesy of Linebarrel. Something like that.
 
One thing different and ‘interesting’ about Kouichi as compared to other teenage heroes is that Kouichi’s sense of justice starts of on a twisted note. Yup, he misuses them even though he repeatedly proclaims that he is the hero of justice. I guess everyone has their own interpretation of what justice means. So as the series progresses, he learns to control and turn this negative energy into a more useful one. Another thing I need to mention is the difference between ARMAs and MACHINAs. They’re both mechas but MACHINAs (like Linebarrel) are robots not from this world and its alien technology called D-SOIL allows regeneration after taking damage unlike human manufactured (or copied, rather) ARMAs which can’t. Because of that, when MACHINAs take damage, the Factor (term for pilot of the MACHINA) also takes the damage and bleeds. Well, that’s what you call one body, one soul.
 
So episode 2 sees the main terrorist group, KATO-KIKAN led by a guy named Hisataka Katou. He is unleashing more of his ARMAs attacking the globe. JUDA may seem like a well known and large medical corporation but behind that facade, they are in fact a group of people with some piloting MACHINAs, and one of the very few things which prevents KATO-KIKAN from taking total victory. They are in a heated battle with the terrorists and are being overwhelmed. However with the return of some cool and good looking bishie but poker face, Reiji Moritsugu and his MACHINA, Vardant, let’s just say he kicks ass. Make that asses. Elsewhere Emi is somehow being accepted into Kouichi’s household and you can tell that a catty fight is on the cards because childhood friend Risako has a secret crush on Kouichi and that kid is too dense to figure it out. So what happens when you put a busty stranger into the mix? Oh yeah. I smell a love triangle coming up. I guess even the respective sisters of Kouichi and Yajima, Mina and Saki, must be loving the new developments unfold, eh? Elsewhere, Kouichi demonstrates his new super strength by overpowering Furuya and co. Kouichi even takes his arrogant gratitude to new heights by thanking Emi for ‘killing’ him because of that a new him of justice has been reborn. Yeah, he even wrote that on the grave of the site where he died. This guy is fast turning into a hate character. Then as part of KATO-KIKAN’s plan to capture Linebarrel, they attack the city once more in hopes of luring it out. He falls into their trap and activates Linebarrel. What about calling Yajima to watch him go into action? How arrogant can he get? He damages the city without giving much thought and only his so called sense of justice pre-occupies his head. Even when 2 of JUDA’s MACHINAs, Miu Kujou’s Painkiller and Satoru Yamashita’s Hind-Kind, arrive to help, he turns down their offer and attacks them! WTF?! He proclaims he is the ONLY REAL justice! WTF???!!! In the end, KATO-KIKAN retreat while JUDA pulled back to avoid further damage while Kouichi laughs in his maniacal I-am-the-hero laugh. Emi and Yajima are devastated to see the monster before their eyes.
 
In episode 3, Kouichi still hasn’t learned his lesson because he is upset that the news didn’t cover his heroic efforts. Furthermore, he is no different that Furuya now that he is having them doing errands for him. Yajima is pretty concerned of Kouichi’s change in attitude and tries to advice him but you can’t reason with him now as he thinks Yajima has inferior complex. Look who is talking. A little guy’s struggle but of course with Kouichi’s super strength, Yajima gets injured. It’s a sign to say "Don’t mess with me, buddy". Meanwhile the ‘battle’ between Risako and Emi turns out… well let’s just say Risako herself admits that Emi is just moe in everything she does whether she’s a klutzy girl or blur girl. Kouichi comes home, don’t know what the fuss is all about, indirectly hurts Risako’s feelings that the old him is gone (which means he may have given up on her). Then the city experiences another bang. Yup, KATO-KIKAN again to lure out Linebarrel. This time led by another division leader, Demitry (looks like Dracula, if you ask me). Yeah, the mindless city destruction again. So it’s Kouichi’s cue for his justice work again. Risako sees him putting his palms on Emi’s boobs and it doesn’t take a genius to interpret what that means. Though Kouichi manages to beat the terrorist, he is still on a rampage so JUDA sends their numero uno guy Reiji to stop him. He shows him his true power and subdues him but Kouichi isn’t happy. Suddenly Linebarrel shuts down before Vardant could land the final blow and Kouichi learns that Emi was the one responsible (she’s also a Factor for Linebarrel). He tells her off so she tells him off, leaving him real stunned. Oh yeah. Bite the hand that feeds you, eh?
 
Due to that, Kouichi has got his Linebarrel confiscated in episode 4. But he still hasn’t learned his lesson. He thinks he’ll become stronger even without Linebarrel. While Emi has lost faith in him, the president of JUDA, Kunio Ishigami, seems to be willing to give that kid a second chance. One night, Yajima once again confronts Kouichi about his attitude. As expected, they fought. Yajima gets badly beaten up as we learn Yajima too liked Risako and appeared to be cool just to impress her but Risako was always more concern for Kouichi. Just then, a rogue MACHINA suddenly appears attacks them and to Kouichi’s horror, Yajima has been impaled by a pole. Before Yajima dies, he tells him to use his powers for good. Something like a certain superhero movie line: "With great powers come great responsibilities". Something like that. But now Kouichi is in a rage and all this anger has given him the ability to summon Linebarrel with his will and without grabbing somebody’s boobs. Of course everyone back at JUDA is surprised to see the Linebarrel suddenly disappearing from their chambers. Even beating up the rogue MACHINA isn’t enough so Kouichi is on a roll, I mean rage. Reiji and Satoru are sent to stop his madness because Kouichi has executed some beam weapon which could be very devastating. A short flashback on how young Kouichi wanted to be a hero of justice. Is this how he wanted it all to turn out? Reiji uses his Vardant as a little sacrifice to disable the beam weapon.
 
I guess it takes a death of a friend to open Kouichi’s eyes. Well, literally. He finds himself naked in the quarters of JUDA with Ishigami’s personal assistant, Yui Ogawa, next to him. She’s fully clothed by the way. Swapped deja vu? Soon she leads him to Ishigami who announces a welcoming party for Kouichi to join JUDA. Since when? What the heck? He’s got an eye on him from the start already. Ishigami gives Kouichi a tour of the JUDA headquarters and the common enemy they are facing. It is obvious that Kouichi isn’t going to be friends with Hisataka once he learns he and his organization is the one behind Yajima’s death. Though Kouichi isn’t willing to join JUDA yet and throws his weak teenage punches which are easily caught by old geezer Ishigami. Thing is, sly Ishigami has somehow got Kouichi’s thumb print signature on the contract to join JUDA while he was unconscious. Then Kouichi meets the twins of the MACHINA Deceive, Shizuna and Izuna Endo. Though Shizuna is another one of those hot tempered little girl not hesitating to kick Kouichi in the crotch, twin boy Izuna is a total opposite. Kinder and trying to restrain her sister. I’ve always wondered if Izuna is suited to be more of a girl since he looks and sounds like one. Which brings me to Satoru’s case. Is he a boy or a girl? Eventually after so much thinking and ‘researching’, I conclude he’s a guy.
 
Kouichi gets more eye opener when he attends Yajima’s funeral. This doesn’t help since Emi continues to scorn him for his irresponsibility. Hey, even those Furuya bullies are crying over Yajima. Who else could teach them a lesson but him. Now he’s gone so the cycle’s disrupted. Haha. Anyway the twins are to engage in a battle with several KATO-KIKAN ARMAs. I find Deceive the weakest in terms of attack because all it could do is send its Nerve Crack to its enemies and make them have horrifying hallucinations. They’ve only got mental victory here. Being the real baddies, they decide to target innocent civilians instead. This gives time to catch Deceive off guard. Kouichi seems to have found a new resolve and I guess it’s enough for Emi’s approval so he summons Linebarrel to kick KATO-KIKAN’s ass and save bratty Shizuna and poor Izuna in his first step to be the real hero. Everyone in JUDA is impressed. Well almost everyone. Reiji doesn’t seem to be happy. Must be his face. So is Kouichi a changed man? You bet. Yeah, he even says how it is never too late to change. Well, better late than never, hero of justice.
 
So Kouichi is now a member of JUDA in episode 6. Yeah, he’s got his own dorm room provided for staffs at the HQ. Same case with Emi too. So he gets introduced to all the other main characters that you’ll see in the series. Ishigami, Yui, Miu, Satoru, Shizuna, Izuna and Reiji. I forgot to mention there is also the young American scientist Rachel Calvin who has an uncanny resemblance to Pani Poni Dash’s Becky. Little girl with blonde hair and white lab coat. Hmm… She too has an elderly middle-aged guy named Maki Goro as her colleague and technician and Hiro Aonuma as JUDA’s field operative. And this Ishigami guy is another weirdo. He loves setting up Kouichi in tight spots to see his twisted version of love development between Kouichi and Emi. Sending pics of Emi changing? Some president this guy is. Only Yui can stop his scheme. But poor Kouichi has to bear the painful end of Emi’s fist/slap. Anyway the rest of this episode sees the JUDA force putting up some weird carnival freak show performance to welcome Kouichi. I don’t know if they’re enjoying tormenting Kouichi because he seems to be the object of torment (no different from getting bullied, eh?) like Rachel making him jump through a loop of fire and Emi doing a magic trick of sawing him into half with a chainsaw! Only thing is, this is no magic trick! WARGH!!! What’s the significance of this party anyway? They should have fun while they can because it will be back to terrorist busting business and in this dog eat dog world, no one is going to praise you for the heroic deeds you’ve done but would quickly blame and find fault when there’s a failure.
 
Being a hero of justice doesn’t exclude him from school. So in episode 7, Kouichi treks to school and I guess the guy who will replace Yajima would be Makoto Doumyouji who makes his grand entrance with a boy’s fight with Kouichi. I don’t know if Kouichi is that desperate that he needs to call Linebarrel. So Kouichi gets reprimanded by Rachel for calling Linebarrel in the midst of some maintenance thingy. The highlight of this episode is that Hisataka himself and his cowboy suit assistant, Masaki Suguwara, personally come to JUDA to see Kouichi and the rest. What happened to all the security? Anyway, Hisataka gets straight to the point. He wants Linebarrel and wants Kouichi to join him. Further explanations reveal that Hisataka is not of this world. No, not an alien universe but rather a parallel world. Just like Emi and the MACHINAs. His goal is to take over this world and the rest of his troops are humans from this world who sympathize with his cause. He also mentions Ishigami was once part of his organization but he turned traitor and stole some of the MACHINAs. Linebarrel is the ultimate MACHINA created by Emi’s dad, Amagatsu. Of course Kouichi rejects his offer outright because he strongly feels Hisataka is responsible for Yajima’s death. So is he going to let the terrorist boss leave easily? Of course not but with all the KATO-KIKAN suddenly appearing to give Hisataka a safe passage out, they have no choice. Meanwhile Risako is trying to get more details out from Emi at a cafe and I don’t know why but Emi seems to be infatuated with her bonsai plant. The next day, Kouichi bumps into Doumyouji again and this time they became friends as he proposes to help Kouichi. Some male bonding thing Emi wouldn’t get. Yup, Doumyouji has Emi join this newly made Hayase Corps with Kouichi as their leader and since Risako is watching from afar, her body reaction seems to indicate she doesn’t want to be left out from the piece of action as they head to a restaurant to plan their next step. On Kouichi’s treat of course.
 
Is bullying Kouichi that fun? Must be lah. In episode 8, Doumyouji and Furuya drag Kouichi along to see Emi, Risako and the other girls changing in school. So when Kouichi’s phone rings and gives them away, only Kouichi gets busted because the other 2 escaped via some secret doorway behind the locker. WTF?! It seems the call from Yui is about some mission to help the Americans kick some ARMA ass. Kouichi confronts Ishigami about his past so he apologizes that he should’ve told him earlier. So our heroes engage the villains. It must be some important mission for KATO-KIKAN because the other division leaders like Yuriannu Faithful, Soubi Nakajima and Jack Smith (who is an ARMA himself) are here as they are trying to prevent to good guys from stopping Masaki in his weird MACHINA from planting black spheres. As Miu takes on Soubi (note how she always gets electrocuted by his lance), Kouichi is thinking of leaving his designated post to stop Masaki and go save Miu and this nearly cause the JUDA to lose. It could’ve been total defeat if Masaki hadn’t call for his team’s retreat after planting the sphere (Reiji taking a blow meant for Kouichi from Jack). So back at JUDA while Rachel is analyzing the sphere but couldn’t get much detail out of it, Kouichi gets knocked around by Reiji for being selfish bla bla bla. Could’ve turned ugly if Miu didn’t plead them to stop. Lastly, Emi decides to strip for Kouichi because she thinks that locker spying thing was some sort of curiosity to see whether she’s human from the alternate world or not. Miu comes in and misinterprets and also does the same. Soon everyone else pretty much sees this and Kouichi blunders that he just wants Emi’s body. Oops. SLAP!
 
After another one of those bath house follies from JUDA (Ishigami showing Kouichi Emi’s inner body secrets – her x-ray skeleton), episode 9 sees our heroes infiltrating one of the enemy’s base in South America. Apparently the local guerrilla group is teaming up with KATO-KIKAN. Emi partly takes over as mission control due to some ill-fated accident which befall on Ishigami leaving him totally bandaged (he deserves it). The assault begins and we see Satoru pretty concerned about Reiji. I hope this admiration thingy won’t turn into some yaoi gay love. Because of that he couldn’t concentrate and his long range MACHINA is no match for the more agile ARMAs and could’ve been toast if not for Reiji. However Reiji shuts Satoru’s damaged MACHINA down soon after relegating Hind-Kind to a gun battery. With Deceive manage to crack in the computer system and access KATO-KIKAN’s secrets, the enemy base surrenders. However Rachel’s joy turns to sorrow when she finds out all the data are empty. Back at JUDA HQ, Satoru and Reiji are in some spat. Reiji is not amused by Satoru’s poor performance even though it was out of concern and shrugs it off. Another development is that Doumyouji is seen as one of the few pilots for Eiji Kiriyama’s SSDF ARMAs, Jinrai. So this guy’s in this game too, huh?
 
The necessary Christmas episode 10 sees Risako preparing to make Christmas dinner for Kouichi and the JUDA girls in Santarina outfits. But Christmas will be the last for some as KATO-KIKAN has some ARMA type laser satellite and has fired several random shots over the a few cities of the world, turning them into huge craters. Is this what terrorists of the future would become to? So the only way to stop this is to send Kouichi to space with Satoru. The duo is sent off by an American army officer, Lt. Judy Brown. Can Kouichi make it back in time for his Christmas dinner with Risako? During their transport, Kouichi learns of Satoru’s past and how he looked up to Reiji. The other JUDA members are deployed around the globe to protect several important cities as KATO-KIKAN isn’t going to let the good guys wreck their plans. Doumyouji and the other SSDF pilots come to their aid. As for Kouichi, he’s going to face another KATO-KIKAN division leader. What happens if you mix a psychopath and a sadist together? Some short and ugly glutton Riku Ousei who is piloting the satellite as his ARMA. Somehow I get a feeling he has some resemblance to the Hunchback of Notre Dame…
 
The tense confrontation continues in episode 11. It’s tough intercepting Riku because his ARMA is fast. Kouichi is pissed because Riku once again blasts another heavily populated city. A good and bad thing is that, the satellite takes time to recharge so they have to take it out during that period before another random shot is fired. Satoru is still having self confidence problems so Judy tells him off that he is only strong as he thinks he is. Emi has concluded analyzing the satellite’s movements and sees a pattern. However Riku’s ARMA is heavily armoured so any direct attack is useless. I’m not sure about this part because Kouichi thinks of using some super powerful Executor move which will drain all its power to defeat the enemy and Satoru has been tasked to ‘catch’ him as Linebarrel falls from orbit. Kouichi manages to do so, fries Riku in the process and the plan of Satoru catching him works. KATO-KIKAN forces retreat upon learning the satellite’s destruction as everyone back on the ground celebrates the hero of justice. How does it feel like now to be the true hero of justice? With the world saved, Kouichi even has time to attend the Christmas party at JUDA and even makes it in time fir Risako’s Christmas dinner albeit a little late. Phew. Emi opens her present from Kouichi which is a necklace and what is this? Miu looking a little jealous? Hint, hint.
 
After a hard fought victory, Ishigami takes his JUDA members to a tropical island for fun and relaxation in episode 12. Yeah, I know. Fanservice. Risako and Furuya are invited. Even KATO-KIKAN is on the island to relax. No fighting here. Hey, can both sides even afford a day off? Jack on the other hand seems to be cutting tentacles of some giant monster in which things indicate he was the source of accidentally releasing it in the first place. He then spots a house and gets enthralled by the way Risako cuts her food. Yeah, he pretty much falls for that girl. Meanwhile Hisataka and Ishigami meet at some tomb cliff and Hisataka wants the latter to rejoin them. He declines. Slowly, the other girls went missing so the remaining ones man a search for them. Risako have everything to worry about because Kouichi is seen more concern for missing Emi. What more Kouichi found her bikini lying on the ground. I don’t know if Yuriannu really had an intention to shota rape Izuna or not. In the end, it turns out some giant squid has its tentacles wrapped all around the ladies so Jack destroys it as Kouichi gets another full view of Emi’s nakedness. Deja vu? Yeah, the slap maybe. I guess everyone has squid meat for BBQ dinner, eh? The final interesting development has Kouichi and Risako talking together alone at the beach and before that guy knows it, Risako kisses him!
 
Kouichi gets the shock of his life when he comes back to school in episode 13. The whole damn school knows about his kiss with Risako and are bloody supportive! Even those admirers happily withdraw for the sake of Kouichi’s happiness. Well Risako, your dream has come true but why are you so embarrassed? Who wouldn’t? Hey, how did everybody know about this? Apparently while the duo was smooching, the other JUDA guys became keh-poh-chi and had a field day ‘observing’ their passionate moment from behind a rock. That is why always get a room. So with lots of teen hormones in this episode, it is no wonder Emi is treating Kouichi coldly even though she’s giving an excuse of him fooling around with her childhood friend (yeah right). Kouichi and Satoru are called in to Ishigami’s office as the president is discussing about the spheres with Reiji. Another shocking twist of events is that when Kouichi and Satoru entered the room, they see Reiji has put a bullet right in Ishigami’s head! OMG! Say it isn’t true! Reiji fires several shots at the kids but they dodged. Reiji summons Vardant and tells Kouichi to fight him. While Satoru is left paralyzed in shock watching the 2 mechas battle, evil Kiriyama initiates his plan to take over Japan via a coup. Kouichi isn’t satisfied with Reiji’s betrayal but the latter continues to mock the former saying that nothing in him has improved since. Of course this is just a psychological warfare to have Kouichi dance right into Reiji’s hands as Linebarrel shuts down after taking many blows. Emi suddenly further remembers her past and jumps down from the building right into Linebarrel’s cockpit. Kids, don’t try this anywhere. Emi pilots Linebarrel back to life and this time unlocks Linebarrel’s teleportation ability to give Reiji a hard time. However due to the strain on Emi, she and the mecha too shut down. Reiji uses this chance to escape as Kouichi regains consciousness and is surprised to see unconscious Emi next to him. I can’t believe that specky Reiji turned to the other side! Or was he on that side all the while?
 
Everyone is in the state of shock in episode 14. Reiji’s betrayal, Ishigami’s death and Kiriyama’s coup invasion backed by KATO-KIKAN. Oh the madness, oh the sadness. The more for Satoru. Kouichi accompanies unconscious Emi in her room. Doumyouji offers his services to Kiriyama and he has high hopes for the young lad. Another defection? Soon Hisataka makes a live telecast about his world conquest and will decide those who will live and those who will die. Kiriyama unleashes his force towards JUDA to confiscate their MACHINAs so the JUDA members are contemplating to fight back or quietly surrender. The answer for Kouichi is obvious. So Kouichi is not too happy that Doumyouji is on the other side so the 2 duke it out. Doumyouji is satisfied with Kouichi’s fight and resolve and tells him to take Linebarrel and run. Before anything else could happen, Kiriyama in his MACHINA, Pretender, intercepts and brands Doumyouji a traitor, blasting him away. Kiriyama’s Pretender has Nerve Crack ability too. If not for Emi suddenly waking up, running out from nowhere and making contact with Linebarrel, Kouichi could’ve been killed under his own illusions as Emi teleports them away. And the last scene is intriguing. So is that Yajima in some chamber or what?
 
Kiriyama has taken over Japan in episode 15 and the entire country is like in an emergency state. Anybody that goes against them will be immediately executed in public! He also uses the media to make JUDA a terrorist and has Kouichi’s mom and sister making a live telecast emotional plea for his return. Yeah, they’re playing it over and over again. Not to mention some embarrassing song they’re singing. I’m not sure how Linebarrels stays hidden but Kouichi and Emi are taking refuge in a US military base in Japan with Judy. The Americans too are preparing to evacuate, since this is Japan’s internal problem. Sort of. Don’t want to get involve, eh? By the way, Rachel has already ‘fled’ to USA since she’s an American to avoid being persecuted. Aonuma gives Miu and Satoru some weird disguise so that they can go see Kouichi and Emi. Arrogant Kiriyama is working together with Reiji and his greed has him wanting to take over KATO-KIKAN next. The next day, Kiriyama is fast becoming Japan’s leader. KATO-KIKAN unleashes attacks on nations which opposes them. The American base in Japan is under attack by Sawatari and Demitry to lure Linebarrel out. Kouichi wants to fight them but Judy restrains him as he will be playing right into their trap. Judy buys the kids some time to escape as she takes on Demitry and in the process sacrifices herself to take out as many KATO-KIKAN forces (including Demitry).
 
All JUDA casts reunite on a US aircraft carrier in episode 16. However only Linebarrel is not grounded like the other MACHINAs due to some security program thingy. So the plan is while Kouichi distracts the enemy, the rest will infiltrate JUDA HQ via some secret route that Ishigami left to reactivate their disabled MACHINAs courtesy of some new gadget from Rachel. With Kouichi’s Linebarrel in sight, Kiriyama decides to show the world the supreme hero he is and tells Reiji not to interfere. Round 2, fight! Meanwhile the gang infiltrates the HQ and goes through a series of security authentication check points (100 of them I think) just to reach their goal. That hologram Ishigami is still as annoying as ever. Even in death. Did he really predict all this? I don’t know they have to play some Twister game or even a strip rock-scissors-paper! WTF?! As Kouichi gets a sound beating from Kiriyama, the rest have managed to enter where their MACHINAs are kept as Rachel starts her hacking. When Kiriyama finally got hit by Kouichi, he is upset and decides to play dirty by targeting Emi whom he spots staring from the JUDA building. Dirty bastard! Of course with Emi’s power to teleport Linebarrel in front to block the missiles. Kiriyama decides to unleash his trump card by using some nearby tanks but his scheme is foiled because Aonuma and Doumyouji disabled them earlier. It seems Doumyouji never defected and joined Kiriyama to attack from within. With the MACHINAs restored, Kiriyama gets desperate and the tables turned on him because the whole world has seen with their true eyes that he is trying to destroy Misaki City. He crashes into the sea. So much for his glory. Hisataka meanwhile welcomes Reiji as a member of KATO-KIKAN. With Japan freed from Kiriyama’s rule and everyone returning to JUDA, Satoru receives a letter from Reiji while Risako is wondering if she’ll ever get to see Kouichi when somebody familiar approaches her. It’s Yajima! Damn, he’s alive! Should’ve seen this one coming.
 
Sure everyone is sure shocked with his return so in episode 17, Yajima tells he has been receiving treatment somewhere else. Don’t mind the details as long as he’s back. Also, Misaki City has been declared independent of Japan and under US territory due to some previous don’t-know-what-splitting-of-the-country from Kiriyama, who is now missing. Can this actually happen? Another defection takes place. No, not from JUDA to KATO-KIKAN but the other way round. Jack is now on JUDA’s side because if he continues to be on KATO-KIKAN, he can’t fight Reiji. Plus, he had some agreement with Hisataka that he would leave whenever he wanted. The rest of the episode sees the JUDA kids along with Risako, Yajima, Doumyouji and even Furuya attending some cosplay karaoke event. I don’t want to say who’s horrible. During the toilet break, Yajima and Kouichi have another round of talk. Yajima isn’t happy that Kouichi is fooling around instead of being the hero of justice and tells him to give it up. Viewers would say that he is jealous of the attention Kouichi now gets. Kouichi doesn’t take this lightly and they got into a fight. Everyone else comes out and is surprised to see best friends fighting. Yajima pins the blame on Emi, making her feel guilty. If you think you have seen enough shocking developments, here’s another one. Yajima has become a Factor. No way! Yes way. He summons his MACHINA, Apparition (the rouge MACHINA that killed him). Looks like he is working for KATO-KIKAN as he tosses Kouichi a disk containing the whereabouts of their base and to meet them there. Yup, his task is to kidnap Emi. So much for being best friends.
 
The twins are trying to tell the world the terrorist they are of KATO-KIKAN in episode 18 and as everyone else is still pondering about Yajima being a factor, revenge hungry Sawatari leads another attack to avenge the death of Demitry. Thankfully Misaki City is covered with a temporary shield as they try to break it down. Doumyouji tells Kouichi to go save Emi and leave the rest of protecting the city. Hey, sometimes you have to let them get the cool parts too. Kouichi arrives at a frozen abandoned Russian base only to find Hisataka waiting alone. Only God knows where Yajima went with Emi. Hopefully he didn’t do anything funny on her. So they chat about how Yajima became Apparition’s Factor and the change in both their attitude when they got revived. Is that how dead people are when they revived? They also talked about peace and some theories which simply don’t interest me. Yajima is seen talking to Emi and his talk indicates he wants Emi to stop using Kouichi to pilot her Linebarrel so that Kouichi and Risako can be happy together. Since Emi can’t decide, this furthers unsettles him and he nearly ripped her dress (because she tripped and he tried to catch her lah!). So if she can’t decide, he’ll decide for her: Leave Kouichi. Back at JUDA HQ, Masaki’s MACHINA has disabled the shield. Hisataka asks Kouichi to join him once more but the latter rejects. That’s when Yajima arrives but Hisataka says Kouichi can take Emi and go. So what was that kidnapping all for? Or did Yajima take to long so Hisataka got upset? Hey, did Hisataka hint that Emi is his sister? As Kouichi flies back with Emi, Yajima still isn’t happy and catches up. He fires a warning shot and wants Kouichi to dump Emi for Risako. Oh, now he’s playing matchmaker, eh?
 
So the guys duke it out in episode 19 while Emi helplessly watch the boys fight. Yajima is persistent that Kouichi should go back to his normal life with Risako and let him do the protecting job but after all that he has been through, is he going to go back to his old ways? The mecha bout turns into a man to man fight and after trading many blows, in the end the truth is that Yajima who likes Risako was too afraid to confess to her in fear of rejection and thus the reason he ‘used’ Kouichi to make Risako happy. So Kouichi tells his buddy to go tell Risako himself. Yup, Kouichi wins. Because of the heavy assault of KATO-KIKAN on JUDA HQ, Kouichi and Emi quickly flew back and leave bruised Yajima to reflect on his mistakes. After Masaki has planted another sphere right in the middle of the school, the attack continues but luckily Kouichi is back to do some serious kick ass. Another good thing is that Yajima has realized his faults so he too flies back and helps Kouichi defend against the menace. However Hisataka orders his team to withdraw saying that their goal of putting the sphere has been achieved and has never ordered an attack (hinting Masaki may have been the one responsible). Later Yajima does confess to Risako, shocking her but she apologizes because her heart is on you-know-who but he is okay with it. Just that he wants to let her know and lift that burden off his shoulders. Another Kouichi-Emi moment and they could’ve kissed if not for Rachel’s calling. Miu looking on depressingly jealous… Anyway Rachel explains that the planting of the spheres are supposed to open some inter-dimensional gate from the alternate world. In other words as Yajima heard, a full scale invasion. So this KATO-KIKAN is just a vanguard force? By the way, Hisataka has successfully unlocked some key after playing some weird programming game (I think).
 
While the twins and Jack are on a world tour to spread the word that JUDA is the good guy and KATO-KIKAN the terrorist, in episode 20, those UN guys don’t give a damn and chase them away. Miu is sinking into depression after overhearing Rachel and Maki’s analysis that Painkiller could be weak. Yeah, her love life is going anywhere too. Just kidding. For good news, Risako temporarily stays at JUDA and Yajima is on their side. Could things get better? Well, everyone’s Kouichi-bashing that he’s maturing and such has got Miu to stand up for him and think that he’s cool (desperate?). So when Kouichi goes to give her encouragement, Miu suddenly kisses him! Wow! Is this guy lucky or what? Soon they’ve got red alert that Deceive is being attack by those UN guys who are still thinking they are the terrorist. Kouichi and Miu fly to their rescue and it seems Jack has been taken out by Soubi and Yuriannu while Deceive heavily damaged and grounded. So another battle on the grand scale. Soubi must be having a field day electrocuting Miu so many times but she gets pissed to see Kouichi being blown away by Soubi’s attack and it somehow activated her D-SOIL thingy and powers up. Miu is going to do an extreme move. She is going to sacrifice herself. She confesses she loves Kouichi before pulling off the crazy move. Of course after seeing so many deaths Kouichi isn’t going to let anymore people die (especially another girl to his harem. Haha! Just joking) and activates Linebarrel’s Mode B teleport system to save Miu and slash Soubi’s MACHINA into half. Yuriannu orders a retreat. And yeah, Miu kisses Kouichi again. Oh yeah. Finally Yui manages to unlock some system which turns JUDA into a flying HQ called FLAG. Can’t believe Ishigami even installed all this prior to his death.
 
Episode 21 starts off with Reiji’s past. Because his sister was the only thing he had, he turned to fights and beat up delinquents as he viewed this protection as his form of justice. But the rest of society didn’t think so and he was equally like a thug himself. Then his sister got murdered and nobody stood by his side except for Kiriyama. And they both went on to realize their so called justice. Then it’s like some sort of trend because Vardant came falling on him, he died, got revived by Hisataka. Back at FLAG, Ishigami is back in the form of a hologram AI and he is no different when he was alive. Yeah, those punch lines too. Is there a program to uninstall his wittiness? So everybody else is pretty preoccupied with Kouichi’s popularity. I mean, he got kissed by 2 girls already right? Even Izuna suggests Shizuna to kiss him! Nanyate?! I don’t know if Emi and Miu are being sadists without modesty because they forced Kouichi to strip and take some medical examination as they’re concerned over his health for piloting Linebarrel. Elsewhere, Masaki does a forceful experiment on Soubi using his body. Now this guy seems to have an agenda of his own. Since Satoru didn’t get on FLAG, he meets Reiji in the forest and asks lots of questions. With Reiji being indifferent, Satoru decides to fight Reiji. At the same time, Kiriyama appears in his Pretender. Now half his face spots a mechanical look like Kano from Mortal Kombat. He is going to attack FLAG with his swarm of unmanned Jinrais so Kouichi is tasked to bring back Satoru while the rest defend the base. Kiriyama is pushing his Pretender to the limits and Rachel concludes that both Factor and MACHINA may merge. In the end, his insanity has his D-SOIL gone overload, explodes and kills him, surprising all those KATO-KIKAN spectators. Hisataka hints that this may be Masaki’s doing though the latter kept quiet. Satoru’s Hind-Kind is badly beaten by Reiji’s Vardant and could’ve been toast if Kouichi hadn’t appeared in time. The hero has always got to appear at the right moment, right?
 
The much anticipated power fight begins in episode 22. Even in Mode B, Kouichi’s moves are predictable as Reiji is still able to get the better of him. He continues to mock his useless effort of being a hero of justice and that is when Kouichi got mad and released some super power, cutting off an arm of Vardant. Then Reiji is satsified and tells him not to forget this feeling and that he and Linebarrel can move forward. Hey, he was helping him? Here’s another twist. Hisataka appears and informs the coming invasion and offers his side to join them. What’s going on?! He mentions KATO-KIKAN’s true goal is to stop the other world’s invasion and all this was to raise their fighting will and power. WTF?! Didin’t see this one coming. Emi then fully remembers her brother Hisataka. Flashback time. In the other world, humans were fused to become MACHINA, lacking feelings. As usual, they seek to expand their kind and the remaining few true humans, Amagatsu was working on a project to counter this. Hisataka was also working along him and some disagreement causes him to shoot his own dad. So Hisataka worked his way up and gained the trust from the higher ups of the other world, Central (one of them being Masaki), and led this fake invasion. He vows to stop it and plans to permenantly seal the dimensional rift. Though both sides are uneasy after some deaths, nevertheless they agree to work together to save the world. Hey, even hologram Ishigami knows about this. It seems he had Reiji killed him so that his body could be fused into 1 and pilot FLAG. No wonder the punch lines are still coming in. This is some grand elaborated plan, eh? Sure had everyone fooled. Soon Risako leaves to return to her nagging mom who thinks it’s better for her not to mix with those terrorists so she gives Kouichi an emotional hug. Then Doumyouji and Yajima forces Kouichi to make up with Emi and they could’ve kissed if not for the alert of the coming invasion. Always leave it too late.
 
The invasion begins in episode 23 and it’s like doomsday on Earth. Hisataka activates the spheres’ other ability to create a shield to protect Earth but the pillar-like ships are decreasing the barrier’s power by the second. It descends onto Earth and though the JUDA and KATO-KIKAN MACHINAs are trying their best to protect, there are just too many of them. Their morale is at all time low. Plus, the enemy is sucking up Earthlings to turn them into human-MACHINAs. Just like how Soubi is. Human-MACHINA Masaki leads the invasion attack and destroys Hisataka’s ship and tells his former boss that Central already knows of his plan. So Hisataka apologizes to Emi and sacrifices himself to open a path for Kouichi. Kouichi then comes face to face with Masaki in another MACHINA, Override. Masaki mocks his hero of justice sense and offers him a chance and the rest of the humans to become one via this twisted evolution. Of course Kouichi doesn’t give a sh*t about all that and tells him off his honest reason for protecting the ones he loves: He just wants to look cool. Well, it’s better than being fair and all that bull. This gives everyone hope to fight back again. Masaki starts attacking and thrusts his sword into Linebarrel. However, Emi takes the strike and before her last breath, tells Kouichi to become a real hero of justice. Now Kouichi is mad. Very mad. Thankfully he didn’t turn big and green. Instead, Linebarrel undergoes a powerful transformation which Reiji hints it is its true form. Nobody messes with his woman.
 
Kouichi is going to do some serious killing in episode 24. He powers up his Executor move with powers off the scales that no instrument could measure and slashes the last boss mother ship with Masaki in it and seals the portal while Sawatari and Yuriannu put Soubi out of his misery while he still had his last humanity left in him. However it’s not over yet as the portal starts to reopen and from the mumbo jumbo scientific explanation, I understand that both worlds are set to collide. Linebarrel has no energy left so Reiji suggests a final order in which all MACHINAs are to channel their energy to Linebarrel via Vardant so that our hero can cut the core and seal it for good. It’s dangerous since it can put the Factors’ lives in danger. But you know, if they can protect the world… Kouichi now sounds more mature because he knows that power is not needed but the will to do it. So yeah. Everybody gives Kouichi their power as he cuts the core and the portal closes, taking Linebarrel with it. Though all MACHINAs are shut down as a result, on the bright side, the invading MACHINAs and those pillar ships start to crumble and release the human captives. They rejoice when they learn their world is saved. Floating in suspended animation, Kouichi is surprised to see Emi come back to life as she says Linebarrel saved her. As they embrace, they see another passing MACHINA with a couple of young kids piloting it (a mirror of themselves from the other world perhaps?). As not to make it end bad, Linebarrel appears back via a wormhole and its signal brings relief to everyone including the other Factors. Kouichi and Emi had a little chat as they fall into orbit but no kiss…
 
So that is how it ends? I’m not a mecha fan so I think it is not my place to say whether such an ending is good or not. But somehow I felt it could’ve ended much better. Sure, the world is saved from an invasion which could turn us all into mindless robots but that’s so much about it. With the threat gone, I wonder if JUDA’s existence is needed. As mentioned this is probable a mecha series and not so much a love harem comedy so I got a little annoyed when Kouichi didn’t make his stand clear on which girl he chooses. Things indicate it should be Emi but the abrupt ending doesn’t seem to bring any conclusive development. Damn, if they had kissed, then I’d go "Wohoo! This is one lucky bastard! Kissed by 3 gorgeous ladies!". Now that the other world is sealed, Emi has got to continue living in the world, right? Right. This show should have a little more fanservice and love comedy…
 
Based on my little reading up on the comments of other viewers who watched this series, a big majority of them did not like it and felt it is somewhat a rip-off from that epic Code Geass series (haven’t watched it myself so I can’t compare). Furthermore, Kouichi’s bad start as a twisted hero of justice turned everyone off and made him a hate figure. And I don’t know why viewers consider Masaki’s cowboy outfit a total failure. Maybe the producers should’ve put his MACHINA as a rodeo horse, eh? Just kidding. Of course if you’re a die-hard or seasoned mecha fan, there are other better and more established mecha series out there like the long running Gundam series and its spin-offs. I know I may sound a little sadistic at this point (partly because of how the show ended) but seeing after a few characters were killed in the series, I thought everybody should have died in the end. Yeah, what good does it bring if you’re a dead hero.
 
The twist in the storyline that Hisataka was on the good side actually caught me offguard. Perhaps I should’ve paid attention. I didn’t expect that to happen. We’ve always been shown that he’s the bad guy via his actions which caused the lost of many lives. Still, I feel all this plan to stop the invasion is one hell of an elaborated scheme. Would it be easier to tell the truth? Perhaps so, the impact won’t be there and our heroes won’t learn any true lesson. Maybe that’s why poker face Reiji was so convincing and successful in his role. Kouichi has certainly matured from his initial character with all the support from his friends so he isn’t totally an ass till the end. Yeah, without him, the rest has got nobody to tease about his ‘brawns over brains’ attitude.
 
Mamiko Noto is the voice behind Emi and as her fan I can say it makes her character sound more tolerable otherwise a bias me would’ve turned a blind eye too. Tetsuya Kakihara does Kouichi and just like lots of teenagers filled with angst, yeah he does sound pretty convincing. He’s the voice of Fujioka in Minami-ke series. A surprise seiyuu for me is that Rie Kugimiya voices Izuna! Man, I can’t recognize her if she does not do her typical tsundere loli role! Stop doing such roles, Rie! You were only meant for that kind of voice roles! Who am I kidding. Coincidentally, Chiwa Saito, the voice behind Rachel, was the also voice behind Rebecca in Pani Poni Dash. Mere coincidence? Or are both characters really mirrors of each other in alternate worlds. Other casts include Aya Hirano as Miu (Haruhi in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu), Kana Ueda as Shizuna (Mikan in Gakuen Alice), Yuuichi Nakamura as Reiji (Tomoya in Clannad), Miyuki Sawashiro as Satoru (Shinkurou in Kurenai), Jouji Nakata as Ishigami (Giroro in Keroro Gunsou), Jun Fukuyama as Hisataka (Lelouch in Code Geass), Noriko Shitaya as Risako (Kuro in Kurokami) and Gou Shinomiya as Yajima.
 
For those who have heard the trademark gothic style of music from Ali Project, one can easily identify their hyped up and ‘naughty’ singing style in the opening theme called Kitei No Tsurugi. Both ending themes are sung by Maaya Sakamoto. Ame Ga Furu (1st ending theme) sounds more like a dramatic pop song while Remedy (2nd ending theme) feels like a slow pop ballad. A segment which I like is the next episode preview narration. In most cases, some random character will boast and gloat about themselves or whatever and it always ends with a thundering thud as Emi cuts in and says "Anata ga saitei", meaning "You are the worse". Haha! How appropriate. I guess we all love her telling off those characters so much that the final narration has desperate Kouichi wanting Emi to tell him that he is the worse since Emi wasn’t around anymore and got stabbed by Masaki’s Override during the show proper. Haha! Oh Emi, dear Emi.
 
While the drawing and art is your typical Japanese anime standards with good looking guys and girls, I’m not sure in terms of mecha battles if this series should be considered good. I’ll give them points for the smooth CG effects during the MACHINA and ARMA battle scenes. Not to mention their designs. As a noob in this genre, of course they look pretty awesome to me. And the names that they give to some of them. How does Painkiller sound to you? And yeah, I find it a little odd when the characters blush because their cheeks will have ‘unrefined’ lines drawn over them.
 
I guess in many mecha series, a massive destruction of a populated city is inevitable. In this case, the entire world. Now they have to start picking up the pieces and rebuild everything from scratch. That way, maybe mankind could learn to really live freely with each other. After watching this series, it’s not that I have found any interest in the mecha genre. But maybe if they put ecchi fanservice elements with some love triangle harem, then maybe, just maybe there is a big chance that I will watch it. Uh huh. Being a hero of justice has it merits because you get the girl(s) in the end! And in addition to looking cool I would also… *Loud thud*… "I’m the worse". Damn it…
 

Linebarrels Of Iron

Lucky Star Soundtrack

February 26, 2010

Surprisingly for an anime which focuses its jokes and gags on the characters and their dialogues, Lucky Star has thrown up quite a few catchy background music (BGM). I guess in order not to make the dialogue and speeches sound like a ‘deafening silence’, those tunes are necessary but that is beside the main point.
 
There are tons of CD albums for this series. I do not know if it holds the record of having the most albums for a single series but heck, too many of them. Not to say they are still releasing the albums but having to know that there are 12 soundtrack albums, it was enough to make my heart skip a little beat. And those albums do not include character albums, drama CDs and anime soundtracks (vocal themes from the anime). This blog of mine will just be focusing on the BGM from the soundtrack albums, since those tunes are the ones which interest me.
 
The music on the albums are the brainchild and composed by Satoru Kousaki whose other memorable works include music from Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu. One thing about the albums is that they are not released at the same time. Why, it took around a year for those 12 albums to be released! I guess it’s a marketing strategy to keep you fans and listeners wait. As they say, things come to those who wait. Something like that. And if you do, it is quite the worth. Each of the albums on average has around 15 tracks (with the first album having the least – 11 songs – and the final album the most – 18 songs). In addition, each album is divided into 2 sections. The first half contains BGM from the anime while the second half is called Radio Bangumi "Lucky Channel". If you have watch the series, then you will know that this section is where brat Akira and her co-host Minoru rant about whatever they have to. Since my Japanese isn’t that good (sadly after all these years), I don’t really fully understand what they are saying so I usually skip this part. Unless you find Akira’s high-pitch squealing voice moe, then go ahead and listen to all of their ‘talk show’. Listed below are my favourite BGM in alphabetical order:
 
1) Drive Dayo, Lucky Star
2) Fun Fun Fun Dayo, Lucky Star
3) Fun Fun Guitar Dayo, Lucky Star
4) Jikai Yokoku Dayo, Lucky Star
5) Karoyaka Dayo, Lucky Star
6) Ran Ran Ran Dayo, Lucky Star
7) Skip Skip Dayo, Lucky Star
8) Tanoshiku Genki No Yoi Kyoku Wo Akatsuki Sensei Ga Tsukuri Mashita
 
Hmm… It isn’t much if you consider the total of 160 tracks from the 12 albums and approximately half of them are BGM, it’s just like 10% only. But it’s not the quantity that matters. Besides, this does not mean that the other tracks suck. A big majority of them have that fun feel to them so it makes listening to them easy even if you’re not a fan of this kind of music. If I had to choose which one of the songs in my list is my favourite, then it has to be Karoyaka Dayo, Lucky Star. Just like its name suggests, it is a light and casual piece (on an unrelated not, probably how the term karaoke came about). Even if it is not heavy, the smooth play of the three-piece instruments (drums, bass and piano taking the lead), makes it quite a catchy piece and in my opinion suitable for daily life or filler scenes.
 
Ran Ran Ran Dayo somehow reminds me of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album. Maybe it’s because of the trumpet and the way the piano and electric guitar are played in the background. This song is also easy on the ears though it spots a little moderate beat. Fun Fun Fun Dayo, Lucky Star is a piano solo (with a little xylophone as accompaniment) and one of the few prominent pieces usually played during the anime. Of course Fun Fun Guitar Dayo, Lucky Star is the guitar version of that piece. I tried to play it on my guitar but in order to sound nice and ‘appropriate’, you’ll need 2 guitars. One as the lead and the other as the lower bass. Drive Dayo, Lucky Star is another relaxing tune and just like its name suggests, a nice song to play when you’re going for a slow Sunday drive. Starts off with the piano in the lead before the flute taking over.
 
Another piece which brings back memories of Sgt Pepper album is Jikai Yokoku Dayo, Lucky Star. Yeah, it has to be the fanfare of the trumpets. This song lasts around 30 seconds and is used during the next episode preview of the series. I know the track Tanoshiku Genki No Yoi Kyoku Wo Akatsuki Sensei Ga Tsukuri Mashita may be mouthful and long winded but this doesn’t make the song less attractive. This is one of the songs which make you get up and do a little shuffle with your feet. You can’t help that the upbeat and lively play of the trumpets and the bass gives out that joyful sensation. Sometimes I feel that the way they blow the trumpet makes the song sound a little Mexican, if you know what I mean. Another track usually played often in the series is Skip Skip Dayo, Lucky Star. Yeah, makes you want to do a little skip too. I’m not sure what kind of organ or keyboard they use as the accompaniment at the beginning or if that lead instrument which follows after is wind based. Need to get my ears checked.
 
Since it’s impossible to blog on every other BGM, I’ll just briefly mention some notable ones (at least to me). Unchiku Dayo, Lucky Star is a piano and xylophone duet and it sounds weird if you ask me and if I remember well, it is one of those themes used during the show while the characters have their dialogue. Tatatakatta Dayo, Lucky Star sounds like a military theme due to its military-like drum beats but is ‘soften’ due to the cute way of that… Sheesh, I can’t recognize what horn instrument that is being played. Yukai Da Ne, Lucky Star is another military-like theme but as usual the other instruments like the short and sharp echo-y piano, make it sound fun and cute. Taiikusai Desu Yo sounds like a march and carnival parade song with all the hyped up fanfare. Gyaaaaaaaa (that’s right, that’s the name of this track) has got to be one of the shortest tracks ever, lasting around 15 seconds. Just like its name is, it gives you a feel that something wicked is going to suddenly befall or happen soon. Yeah, those sharp and short strings can sometimes creep you out. Haisha Wo Nerae! Akatsuki Funbatta is a short track lasting 9 seconds and in my opinion sounds fitting for all those TV news broadcast jingles. Same case with Ginga Shiraishi (like the jingle for an important news announcement). Kagami No Hatsukoi is a violin-driven piece and sounds like a slow song of falling in love. Sawayaka Na Yuujou is another slow and easy track though I find it a little repetitious in the song later. Another slow piece is Heiwa Da Na, Lucky Star, a combo of acoustic guitar in the background (which I find repetitious) and sporadic piano as the lead. 1 Nen Sei Wa Fresh Da Na‘s piano background is the same as Fun Fun Fun Dayo, Lucky Star but the lead piano has a different lively and skipping-like tune. Is that the sound of scratching the washing board they use towards the end of the song I hear?
 
Nangoku Kaze Desu Ga, Nani Ka sounds like a slow tropical version of Fun Fun Fun Dayo, Lucky Star while Atarashii Kaze has a little bossonova feel. Or is it a little cha-cha? Marsh & Mallow sounds like a lively 60’s rock ‘n’ roll beat mixing with several fanfares and Geeyan De Catch Da Ne, Lucky Star sounds like those comedy moments from the olden days because of the solo keyboards (does it have computerized sound effects?). Bubbu Bubbu Budane, Lucky Star is another weird song partly due to its choice of music instruments. Some wind instrument and xylophones makes it sound a little monotonous and one of those tracks mainly used during the show. Bakudan Kun Land is overall comical with a little samba feel. For instance, remember those comical chase scenes or blunders in cartoons? Yeah, that’s what this song is most suited for. Bunkasai Wa Junbi Ga Ichiban Tanoshii though has that light tropical feel, gets repetitious after a while in the beginning but midway the flutes take the lead. Hiiragi 4 Shimai is a slow heart warming piece utilizing slow strings and acoustic guitar to give that touching feel. Setsunaki Jikan is also another heart warming piano solo just like Kagami Kyun which has bell chimes complimenting the piano. Gravity is a hard rock techno dance mix with vocals. Feels kinda odd to have such a song in the album but I guess variety is the spice of life.
 
If you know how Enya’s genre of music, then you should be able to identify with Kore De Enya, Akatsuki No Kunou. Ah, those trademark those slow voices and strings, all too familiar. Kaidan No Kyoufu has a scary and creepy feel because of the soft eerie strings in the background and be warned that there will be a sudden loud pounding of the piano towards the end. GYAH!!! Saigo No Kotae De Yoi Desuka is also eerie if you consider the kettle drum taking up most of the song right till the end. Also, if you have watched the highly acclaimed American series, 24, you will identify the resemblance in the track 24 Jikan. Yeah, those intimidating countdown moments making this short piece filled with high tension and anxiety. Some of the tracks are parody named after certain series and purposely spelled a little different. Remember that theme of the retro American series, A-team? Full Metal Panique sounds like a short parody of it. Then there’s Bun Guster (reverse of Gun Buster) which sounds like a grand intergalactic herald or send off, Filna Fantasy (reverse of Final Fantasy) which sounds like a slow dramatic piece for RPG games with great dramatic storylines, Mariya Sama Ga Miteru Kamo Shirenai (parody of Maria-sama Ga Miteru) which features a flute as its lead in this overall slow and enchanting-like piece. The typical upbeatness heroicness of Erga Mui feels like a theme befitting for sentai-like shows. Imagine the Lucky Star characters as cosmic enforcers.
 
Of course there are themes which are character specific like the monotonous Konata No Theme, Fuutsu Version which has that lazy feel and fits the character well. There are a few other versions such as Chuukintou Version which I think uses the flute that snake charmers use. It starts off with the flute solo before the conga beats come in. India Version sounds a little funny because there are voices at certain points going "Aiyaa". Yutaka No Theme and Minami No Theme features a light and easy piano play while Patty No Theme has a mischievous and cheeky pop beat to it. Kanata No Theme has one of the longest duration lasting close to 5 minutes. Features a slow mix of orchestra strings, piano and horns. Hiyori No Mousou sounds very much like an Indian tune because it employs the sitar. Lucky Channel No Theme needs no introduction for those who have watched the series. This funky piece serves as the opening fanfare for the segment in the anime. Then there is the handphone ringtone of Konata which is the ending theme of that Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu called Hare Hare Yukai (Konata No Chaku Mero). Pachelbel No Cannon (Tsukasa No Chaku Mero) is Tsukasa’s handphone ringtone and if you know Bach’s kind of music, you have an idea.
 
Then there are a few short tracks lasting around half a minute named Girlge (probably for some girl game simulation, I think) with a second title to differentiate them like Isshoni Kaerou (a slow song which feels suitable like walking home together), Lunch Tabeyo (another slow lullaby-like piece using chimes and guitar in the background), Shukudai Yannasai (a comical clown-like tune like to get your homework done or else), Asa No Fuukei (fitting when you wake up to view the morning scenery), Suki Ni Shite Ii Yo (a slow-moderate dramatic-like piece) and Betsu Ni Anta To No Shinpai Nanka Shitenaidakara Ne (a funky beat with funky electric guitar?). Also several few tracks named Sentimental Shuugaku Ryoko with a second title for differentiation such as Chotto Hayai (a faster version using flutes and later trumpets), Chotto Osoi (the slow-moderate paced version) and Narappoi (an oriental string instrument solo version). Beer No CM Ppoi Kyoku Wo Tsukuttemita though is short, is divided into 2 parts. It starts out with a slow and easy jazz then it turns into a more upbeat pop feel to it.
 
So there you have it, some of the variety of songs in the Lucky Star anime series. Some are aptly named and some, well, let’s just say the title is being creative. I’m not sure if all of them were played during the show (possibly not) but due to its short duration of a big majority of them (around a minute and a half), it does make listening to them easier since many of its basic tune are catchy. Unless you are into songs which lasts 5 minutes or over 10 minutes, that is. And if you can’t get enough of them, you could always replay them again. As mentioned there are many more other albums. Like the opening and various ending themes of the series if you like, have several versions and remixes. I don’t know. I never liked the opening theme Motteke! Sailor Fuku. Not only the songs that the girls sang during their karaoke session are on the album, there is a separate album for which that Minoru guys does his belting. As for the character image albums, there are 13 albums, each focusing on a particular girl in the series. Okay, maybe some album feature a few girls but if you like to get to know the character better, that’s what such albums are made for. However there is only 1 drama CD which is based on the anime series using a different seiyuu cast than the anime. Even the videogame of the series has its own albums. Five of them to be exact.
 
For me, I am now experiencing a little Lucky Star overload. Hearing too much of BGMs in one sitting can be a little straining for the body, whether they are my favourite ones or other tracks for ‘recalling’ purposes. Though it’s been some time that I have watched the series but listening to these catchy tunes sure brings back lots of memories (although I can’t remember much). Yeah, who could forget Konata’s quote from Shuffle, "A flat chest is a status symbol". Then looking at her own she continues "I guess I’m okay then". Oh Konata… I guess I’ll be okay listening to these music as well.
 

Lucky Star

Yes, you read that right. So you must be thinking, if they are to be the main characters for a particular series, then their sudden deaths in the first episode supposedly killed them off, wouldn’t it be ironic they will still remain to be the main characters and appear for the rest of the episodes? Unless they get resurrected alright. You can’t be a main hero if you don’t make frequent or enough appearances regardless if you’re alive or the undead. So in this blog, here are the 15 characters who died in the first episode and would have stayed dead if they have not been brought back to life somehow. How they were killed, how they were been given a second shot a life and the consequence and effect of themselves after their revival.
 
Kouichi Hayase (Linebarrels Of Iron)
Kouichi Hayase 
Death: A gigantic Machina named Linebarrel fell on him while on his way to buy bread for his bullies.
Resurrection: Linebarrel linked his soul with its life force.
Aftermath: Attains super physical abilities and initially becomes proud and arrogant of his version as the hero of justice. Gradually learns from his mistakes and puts his powers for better use after the death of his best friend Yajima and joining JUDA, to fight against a terrorist group KATO-KIKAN who is bent on world domination.
 
Hiro Hiyorimi (Kaibutsu Oujo)
Hiro Hiyorimi 
Death: An iron beam fell on him after pushing Hime out of harm’s way.
Resurrection: Hime uses her half immorality flame to revive him.
Aftermath: He becomes Hime’s life servant-cum-slave and though he may not be strong or fast, he assists her in other ways he can, usually as a human shield. Hey, he can be resurrected anytime by her if he dies. Just don’t take too long from between the time he dies and the time Hime resurrects him. Hiro gradually learns about Hime’s battles with the royal throne and grows to protect her.
 
Sakura Kusakabe (Bokusatsu Tenshi Doukro-chan)
Sakura Kusakabe
Death: Violent clubbings from Dokuro’s Excaliborg.
Resurrection: Dokuro’s chanting of "Pipirupirupii~".
Aftermath: Heck, this guy dies at least once in every episode. So you could say that his life has turned into a living hell. He has to be careful with what he says or do or else he could find himself at the receiving end of temperament Dokuro. Because Dokuro has chosen to live with him, his other classmates start to think he is some sort of paedophile and his initial crush for Shizuki shifts to Dokuro. A faint hint that he likes all that pain?
 
Kazuki Mutou (Busou Renkin)
Kazuki Mutou 
Death: Impaled through the heart by a Homunculus while trying to save a girl.
Resurrection: Tokiko puts a Kakugane as his heart’s replacement.
Aftermath: Insisting to go back to his ordinary life, Kazuki follows Tokiko around to fight Homunculi and their masters to protect humans and those he cares from being eaten by those monsters. He also creates his own Busou Renkin (Arms Alchemy) which resembles like a lance called Sunlight Heart and learns to use and control its powers.
 
Arcueid Brunesteid (Shingetsutan Tsukihime)
 Arcueid Brunsteid
Death: Shiki Tohno got the urged to kill her when he first sighted her on the streets because he sensed her Nanaya ancestral blood. Good thing we can’t use such a reason in the real world.
Resurrection: She’s a vampire so she can’t die. :).
Aftermath: She hires Shiki to help fight against the main antagonist Roa, who is on a killing spree. Ironic, eh? To recruit someone who tried to kill you in the first place? Maybe she was after his ‘killer’ instinct. Okay, just made that one up.
 
Kei Kurono (Gantz)
Kei Kurono
Death: Got hit by an oncoming train while trying to save an unconscious homeless person on its tracks.
Resurrection: Suddenly and mysteriously appear in an apartment with other people who have recently died whereby a black sphere named Gantz is supposedly responsible for their resurrection.
Aftermath: Reluctantly forced to get involved in a life and death survival game in which the only way to live is to win. Initially Kei is a selfish person who cares for nobody but himself. But when his best friend dies in the game, he changes and starts taking care of other people in this same predicament and tries to prevent any more deaths. Slowly, his leadership and skill earns the respect for the others.
 
Nozomu Itoshiki (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei)
Nozomu Itoshiki 
Death: Hanged himself from the sakura tree branch due to his life’s despairs.
Resurrection: World’s most positive girl, Kafuka Fuura happen to pass by and uses her weight to snap the rope but her pulling could be the actual cause in speeding his death. And that Nozumu guy has got the cheek to say what if he had really died…
Aftermath: Okay, so this guy did not really die but could have if you look at it in both ways. He continues to be the world’s most negative person even if he continues his job as a teacher, spewing negative examples and lessons of life, culture and phrases (all so true!) to his students. Also tried to kill himself several times but fails miserably. Nothing changes, eh? Only more to add to his eternal despair…
 
Tsutomu Senkawa (Birdy The Mighty)
Tsutomu Senkawa 
Death: Got killed as a human shield when Federation police officer Birdy Cephon Altera was trying to apprehend an alien criminal in one of her mission.
Resurrection: Fuses his soul with his body.
Aftermath: Till his body is fully repaired, Tsutomu is stuck in sharing the same body with Birdy. Has a hard time trying to lead a normal life as he has a tough time trying to keep his family and friends in discovering Birdy’s real identity. So the duo cooperate to take on evil aliens bent on using unsuspecting humans in their whatever experiments.
 
C.C. (Code Geass)
C.C. 
Death: Took a bullet shot right in the forehead meant for Lelouch.
Resurrection: She’s an immortal so she can’t really die. :). Plus, her revival wasn’t shown in the first episode and somehow mysteriously appeared several episodes later alive and well.
Aftermath: After granting the powers of Geass to Lelouch in exchange for her wish to be granted, she passively oversees Lelouch’s missions as Zero.
 
Hazumu Osaragi (Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl)
Hazumu Osaragi 
Death: An alien spaceship crashed right onto him while he is taking a walk on Mt Kashima to sort out his feelings after fresh being rejected from his confession.
Resurrection: The alien of the ship, Sora Hitoshi, feels responsible for his death and revives him as atonement.
Aftermath: However, Hazumu’s body has been reconstructed as a female! It isn’t easy trying to switch living a life as a boy to a girl but many people began to see ‘him’ differently as tomboy childhood friend Tomari and the girl who rejected him earlier, Yasuna, starts to develop feelings for him. Not to mention Hazumu’s loser male buddy friend, Asuta, and his perverted dad.
 
Yuji Sakai (Shakugan No Shana)
Yuji Sakai 
Death: On his way home, time suddenly freezes and a monster starts sucking the life force out of everyone.
Resurrection: Well, the real Yuji died some time ago and that he is just a Torch, a temporary replacement of humans who died. But since Yuji is no ordinary Torch but a Mystes containing a powerful treasure called Reiji Maigo, his blue flame restores his existence at the stroke of midnight.
Aftermath: He befriends a Flame Haze, Shana, who saved him from being devoured earlier on. Though she makes it her mission to protect him from Denizens of the Crimson Realm, together they fight against these antagonists who seek to use Yuji’s powers to destroy the balance of the world.
 
Silk Koharuno (Ultimate Girls)
Silk Koharuno 
Death: She and her buddies got accidentally stomped on by UFO Man while trying to take a closer view of another monster battle in the city.
Resurrection: UFO Man sacrifices and lends her part of his powers.
Aftermath: As a result, Silk and her friends have to become the city’s protectors since UFO Man has shrunk to a very tiny self and unable to fight the monsters himself. Silk’s shyness and embarrassment (especially when her fighting suit starts to deteriorate and threaten to make her fully nude in front of thousands of eyes)becomes her greatest asset and power up in fighting the monsters.
 
Pete Pumps (Ginban Kaleidoscope)
Pete Pumps 
Death: His stunt plane crashed during a stunt practice.
Resurrection: I’m not sure if you can call this resurrection but for some unknown reasons, God forbade him to enter Heaven till the next 100 days so he is somewhat sent down and stuck in the body of the obnoxious ice skater Tazusa Sakurano.
Aftermath: While waiting for the 100 days to pass, Pete tries to help improve her public image and cold and bratty attitude. Because he possesses her body, he has no control over his actions and sees and does exactly through her eyes and movements.
 
Yusuke Urameshi (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Yusuke Urameshi 
Death: Got hit by a car while trying to save a kid playing his ball in the street.
Resurrection: The Spirit World did not expect him to die yet and thus being offered a chance to be revived by Guardian of the River Styx, Botan. Initially reluctant to go back to the living world but after seeing how his mom, childhood friend and even his delinquent rival cried for him at his funeral, he changed his mind.
Aftermath: Hired as the Underworld Detective in charge of investigating paranormal activities in the human world. Oh yeah, he has unearthly powers now too.
 
Makina Hoshimura (Shikabane Hime)
Makina Hoshimura
Death: Already dead at the start of the episode as she and her entire family was being brutally murdered.
Resurrection: Revived by a Buddhist monk named Kesei Tegami via hugging.
Aftermath: Makina becomes a Corpse Princess possessing remarkable physical skills and is being tasked to hunt down others of her own kind who go berserk (like killing of other innocent people) with her cool dual sub-machine guns. She must kill 108 other Corpses in order to gain entry to Heaven and also exert revenge on the mysterious organization responsible for her death. Initially Keisei was her contract priest but after his death, Keisei’s younger brother Ouri takes over the contract between them.
 
Life After Death…
Well, like they say, it takes one to stare in the eyes of death or experience a near fatal one before realizing the importance of life. So by being given a second chance, most of these characters here use it to their fullest. There are other characters which die early too but I was reluctant to include them in this list. For instance Hyatt of Excel Saga. She has a habit of dying every time and reviving instantly for unknown reasons but because she made her appearance in the second episode, I guess I can’t put her in. Same case with Kazuto Tokino of UFO Princess Valkyrie. Though his soul is shared with the said princess, we only see that UFO crash landing on him in the second episode. Then there’s the case of Nagasumi Michishio of Seto No Hanayome. He nearly drowned and was brought back to life via CPR (haha, can’t forget that mouth to mouth one from Masa) but I got a feeling he never really died. Of course there is Rebecca "Becky" Miyamoto from Pani Poni Dash. What? Don’t remember she died in the first episode? She didn’t. Jijii just accidentally (or maybe purposely) put up a deceased picture of her like as though it’s her funeral while introducing class 1-C’s new homeroom teacher.
 
Therefore we should never take life for granted. We must live life to the fullest each day as if it is our last day. Only that way we would learn to appreciate life and all those around us. But even so, looking at it this way, no matter how many days we are given to live, it won’t be enough. Having said so, now I need to watch more animes before my time is up. What?! You call that such a waste of life?! Trading the outdoor sunshine and fresh air for staring at the idiot box for endless hours? Does it matter if I’m happy? Uh huh. With the numerous amount of animes churning out each year, I’d say I’ll never get to finish them all even if I live forever. I’m like the living dead. Yeah, maybe they’ll show reruns up in Heaven.

When the much highly anticipated 3rd season of Nodame Cantabile came out in October 2009, I was a little disappointed because it was just a 1 episode OVA entitled Nodame Cantabile: Paris Hen OVA. Later I found out that the 3rd and final instalment of this series was slated to be in early 2010 (which is currently in the midst of running at the time of this blog) so I guess it must be a trend for anime producers these days that if a series is to have more than 1 season, an OVA is necessary. Just like appetizers, it serves to whip viewers’ appetite and interest for the upcoming series.
 
In this particular OVA which lasts 22 minutes only, the main character in focus here is some conductor guy named Yukihisa Matsuda. Initially I don’t remember who this obnoxious stuck up guy is so I went back and checked my previous blog and started to recall faint memories of it. This Matsuda guy was supposed to be Chiaki’s replacement of the R-S Orchestra right at the end of the first season. Because he was such a minor character then and didn’t make any appearance in the second season, it’s no surprise that I could not remember him.
 
It seems that Matsuda has just landed in Paris. Don’t actually remember the real reason. Whether he gave up his conducting leadership for the R-S Orchestra or he is here to improve his conducting skills or just pissed about his rival Chiaki. Speaking of which, this guy has got his so called beautiful future planned out that he has written them in a diary called Future Journal. Going to be the next world’s best conductor, eh? So why does his attitude towards Chiaki seems like the jealous kind of type? I’ve got a feeling that his obnoxious talk in some cafe with other customers seems to be talking highly about himself and putting down Chiaki. Not that everyone really cares, though.
 
While Matsuda takes a stroll, a lot is going through his mind especially the national level orchestra in France. Not to mention he can’t believe Chiaki is Stresemann’s apprentice. Furthermore, he’s talking about his dark hair colour which should’ve been his character for debut. Huh? Oh just keep quiet already. He gets a call from his lovey-dovey lover in Tokyo, Mai, who seems to be blabbing about something and after all that she hangs up. "Not even a word of good luck?". Yeah, he’s going to need it alright.
 
Matsuda is conducting the Roussel Orchestra as Chiaki and Kuroki are part of the spectators watching his performance. After the concert at the backstage, I’m not sure who this ballerina Caroline is to Matsuda but from the way she said things, she does not want to see him again. He has a secret lover in Paris? Well, that is at least what he thought. Though I don’t understand the root of the problem, I somehow understand why it is a good thing she ‘dumped’ him. She does like him but don’t want to be in a confused relationship. Smart girl. And save your breath, Matsuda. She isn’t interested in listening. Kiss your Future Journal goodbye. After Caroline leaves, Chiaki and Kuroki are seen snickering that he is being dumped so unamused Matsuda suggests going out for a drink together. Kuroki gives an excuse he needs to do something for his oboe and runs away but Chiaki isn’t so lucky as he got caught. Now he has to accompany him.
 
At the bar, Matsuda starts ranting about his beloved Mai AKA Elizabeth. Bla bla bla, some rich pretty girl, yada yada yada, her dad likes him, pushy about marriage, yawn… Well Chiaki isn’t interested in his ‘boasting’ and wants to get straight to the orchestra tips which he promised. I don’t know what that intimidating drink vendor machine flashback was all about. They both ‘selected’ each other’s drinks. So what about the tip? What tip? He’s not going to give it anyway unless Chiaki introduces him to Stresemann. Then Matsuda tells him his experience during his stint at R-S Orchestra and is having a hard time at M. Philharmonic. He proceeds to ask Chiaki about his ‘girlfriend’ Nodame. I don’t know Matsuda is just joking or being a pervert for real because he wants to have a look at Nodame’s boobs himself to judge how big they are. Because Chiaki threatens to leave, he changes the subject… His opinion on French women. Is that all he is thinking about? Well, he says how music and women are the same. They’re both fun and pleasurable. That better not be an insult. He is so like Stresemann. Probably that’s why he wanted to meet him.
 
The duo go back to Chiaki’s dorm and it seems Nodame isn’t around. I guess Matsuda has too much drinks so he rushes to the toilet. As he eases himself, he spots Nodame taking a bubble bath nearby and she’s glaring at him. "Lock on…". GYABO! MUKYA! Ah, those familiar lines. I was beginning to wonder if she’ll ever appear in the OVA. Nodame is in distress as there is a pervert in the toilet. Probably Matsuda is drunk because since he showed her his, he wants her to show hers to him. They continue to argue right after Nodame finishes her bath while Chiaki, you can tell by his expression it’s going to be a long night. Matsuda then learns Nodame is a student living this dorm as she proudly proclaims Chiaki as her current husband. She goes on her ambiguous lines by saying how he’ll eventually do it and that she is practicing hard… For piano. Oh, no amount of rebuke can make her change her mind. Having enough of her antics (she’s also in her room to record her favourite Puri Gorota as her own recorder isn’t working) so he kicks her out of his room. Matsuda gives out a maniacal laughter after all that settled down. Then he gets a call from Mai asking him to be a conductor for one of her new building’s opening but since he’s got a rehearsal with the R-S Orchestra, he scolds her (is shut up and stupid sh*t a little to strong?) and hangs up the phone! So Chiaki throws him back his coat and tells him to go back to his Elizabeth. Matsuda leaves, still pretty much arrogant with his words that he’ll be the next rising star. On his way out, Matsuda calls Caroline, wanting to meet up but she instantly hangs up on him. Haha, padan muka that womanizer. He has to rewrite his Future Journal. Then suddenly appearing behind him is Takahashi (that pretty gay boy in R-S Orchestra). Matsuda is surprised to see him in Paris. Takahashi says he wanted to talk to him alone and suggests at Matsuda’s place.
 
Back in Japan, Mine’s family restaurant in particular, he and Masumi are discussing how obsessive Takahashi went after Matsuda in Paris. Then another member of the R-S Orchestra, Sakojou, comes in to order. Mine notices his dad’s recipe book is missing. He searches for it but finds a journal on the sit. The trio browse through it and viewers can guess that this is Matsuda’s Future Journal. Yeah, they’re reading all those so called poetic but disgusting high-and-mighty lines about his future (which you have heard him spew throughout this OVA). Yuck. Some fantasy delusion he’s got there. They continue reading an entry which includes the R-S Orchestra performance last year and a cheesy proposal he did to Mai (dropping a ring into her glass?). Mine gets a call from Matsuda wondering if his journal is in his place. It has to. That’s because in his bag he has Mine’s recipe book. Ah. He tells Mine not to read it (too late!). Yeah, I don’t know how his other entries sound but it was enough for Masumi to say he is the enemy of all women. Suddenly Mine hears a disturbing thing over the phone. Takahashi is undressing himself and is getting too close to panicking Matsuda. He can’t hold it in anymore and… ARGH!!! Just hang up the phone. Matsuda’s nightmare continues and I really wonder if he could be the next biggest conductor at this rate. Yeah, got screwed in Paris…
 
Well, well. I guess the OVA is pretty much decent even if it does not focus on Chiaki and Nodame. They are like side characters here. It was pretty amusing that Matsuda got done in by that gay Takahashi. I thought he was on to Chiaki? Perhaps because Chiaki left for Paris, he felt lonely and well, saw Matsuda as a ‘replacement’. Besides, there were hints during Matsuda and Chiaki’s conversation that Takahashi was eyeing on the former. And he thought he was just receiving due recognition when the concert master (Takahashi) was always glaring at him. Heh, now he knows what that all means. Hey, Paris is the city of love, right? Sort of.
 
Surprisingly Mine and Masumi made their brief appearance here seeing that they did not make a single appearance back in the second season. Well, it’s good to see that they’re both still doing fine. And Masumi is still pinning for Chiaki’s affection. I guess it’s better than not making any appearance at all or else viewers may have forgotten who they are like how I did for Matsuda at the beginning of this OVA. Since this OVA is short, I suppose those who made their debut appearance in the second season like Tanya and Frank aren’t shown here.
 
Though there is nothing groundbreaking in this OVA (just like the previous season) in terms of story or even the animation, like I said it serves as an appetizers for the final instalment of the series. Maybe then, we’ll get to see if Chiaki and Nodame have got what it takes to be the masters in their respective field and earn international recognition. I’m betting that they will. Of course, not without Nodame’s quirkiness, which is my main motivator for watching the series. Keep up your quirkiness, girl! I wonder if Mine and Masumi will be reunited with Chiaki and Nodame or other characters back in the first season as well. Hopefully the other characters too will shine and improve as they go by. But for Matsuda, maybe he really needs to rewrite his Future Journal. And avoid getting future homo screwing or it will turn into some sex memoir.
 

Nodame Cantabile

Hakushaku To Yousei

February 13, 2010

Do you believe in fairies? Whether they do exist in this world is entirely a different story because if you like your animes to be fantasy and romance, then you definitely don’t want to pass Hakushaku To Yousei. If that’s a mouthful for you to pronounce, then how about its English equivalent then, Earl And Fairy. Oh yeah. Don’t forget the gorgeous looking people too.
 
The setting of this series takes place during the Victorian era back in old England at the turn of the century. Were you expecting some fantasy land with epic names like Lord of the Rings? Or even feudal Japan? Well, to me, it is a little refreshing ‘change of scene’ if I may call it. Lydia Carlton is your 17 year old Scottish lass and she is a fairy doctor. What on Earth is that? As far as I understand, there are some people with gifted powers and are able to see and communicate with fairies, in which other normal people couldn’t. And part of this fairy doctor job thingy is to mediate between the human and fairy world. Who else is suited better for the job, eh? If she was born a few centuries earlier, Lydia may have been burned on a stake for being a witch. Heck, seeing fairies is better than seeing dead people anytime, right? Because of this, I guess Lydia has few human friends to mingle with.
 
Episode 1 opens with hot looking blonde guy with ash mauve eyes, Edgar J.C. Ashenbert, interrogating some elderly professor about some ancient sword. The professor honestly doesn’t know and suggests that a person named Lydia may. Before anything further could happen, a gunshot is heard. The next scene shows Lydia back in her Scottish abode with her pet cat, Nico. This isn’t your ordinary cat. A little bit like Cheshire cat but not. Well, Nico can actually speak! Not to mention preferring to walk on 2 legs like humans and having a penchant for English tea. So I’m always wondering if everyone else can see that fairy cat since at times Nico can turn invisible. Would an ordinary person be surprised if he/she sees a talking cat? They’d better be. Lydia receives a letter from her dad, Professor Carlton, to meet her in London.
 
As Lydia boards the ship, a shipmate, Huskley has Lydia moved into a luxurious room onboard the ship. Nico also warns of some escaped American murder suspect that he read from the papers. In her room, upon opening her closet, a blonde man suddenly grabs her from behind. Lydia thought she would be killed but he whispered in her ear to save him instead. He tells her that Huskley is a bad person and he is being held captive on this boat and her fate will be the same too if they don’t escape. He is going to be killed. She has to believe him since he’s got all those wounds over his body. The duo plan their escape and with a little distraction, managed to get off the ship but not with Huskley and his henchmen giving chase but lost them. Once they are safe in a room, the man introduces himself as Edgar, the Blue Knight Earl. Edgar also has a tanned and loyal servant named Raven who would do anything for his master.
 
You can tell that this Edgar guy has taken a liking for Lydia though the latter isn’t really that interested and is going to leave. But her boat for London has already left and they are onboard another fancy ship to somewhere else. After having Lydia dressed in a stunning gown, they go have dinner with other wealthy people in the hall. They talk about fairies but the rest of the people don’t seem to believe in those children stories. Edgar too believes in fairies and his speech seems to have saved Lydia from her initial outburst about their non-believe in fairies but ironically the Earl (whom Edgar proclaim he is), who is supposedly the one who rules the fairy kingdom. Later outside on the deck, Edgar confronts Lydia and requests her help to retrieve the Merrow Sword. This sword is proof that he would be the Earl since he can’t see fairies (by right Earls should have this power), thus the reason he needs her help. Plus, there are other parties out to retrieve the Sapphire Star which adorns the sword. Lydia has no choice but to accept. No, not because he’s a good looking hunk. But rather she lost her belongings while escaping from Huskley and she is also his target now. I guess you could say Lydia’s life is taking a u-turn. What has she gotten into now?
 
I may not be well versed in fairies or the spirit kingdom but this series has a few terms of them. Not that I understand or recognize what type of fairies they are and the characteristics they possess but you can tell Lydia is an expert in this area. I’m reluctant to do more research on the types of fairies because I don’t want to have sleepless nights… So in episode 2, Edgar shows Lydia a coin with fairy language inscriptions as proof and as they decipher the meaning, it seems that the Merrow Sword is hidden in one of the vast territories of the Earl. Unfortunately, Edgar doesn’t know exactly where since the last of his kin died without telling him. Lydia suggests an island in Ireland since in Irish, Merrow means mermaid and that is the land famous for such folklores. Edgar writes a 500 Pound cheque for her service. Hey, those days such amount of money was considered big! Can’t refuse, eh? The ship captain comes in with his crew looking for an escaped American murder suspect and even states the recent event of taking a lady hostage. A crew notices Edgar to have the same features as the murder suspect. Blonde with ash mauve eyes but the captain stops him and ends his search in their room. The captain later tells his crew that it is rude to ask the Earl to stick out his tongue since the murder suspect has a cross on it. Furthermore, it is believed that he is already dead.
 
Lydia heard this news from Nico and tries to ascertain it herself while Edgar is taking a nap. Of course he had to open his eyes and he misinterprets that she was going to kiss him! Or was it French Kiss since in her shock she stammered "tongue". Later Lydia talks alone with Raven and finds out he is totally loyal to Edgar for accepting for who he is. Because of Raven’s green eyes, he was ostracized. Plus, he is half human to begin with. When the ship arrives at the destination, Huskley and his men are waiting for them. We learn that Huskley is out for revenge against Edgar, whom he identifies as John, as he killed his father. However Edgar says that it was Huskley’s bad shot which gravely wounded his dad instead (possibly that scene in the 1st episode). Raven appears as his left eye is glows green, his speed and agility increases while taking out the menace to give Edgar and Lydia some time to escape. However Lydia tripped and is taken hostage by Huskley. Edgar got injured while trying to save her (he calls out Huskley as Gotham?). They managed to successfully escape to an abandoned hut, Lydia learns that Edgar is indeed the murder suspect so Nico advices her to give him sleeping pills and make her escape. As Edgar mentions that she is still with him after knowing his identity, he reveals his past that he came from a royal family but was suspected of treason. His dad killed everyone and himself but Edgar survived. He was sold off as a slave to America but escaped. Thus that cross on his tongue serves more of a brand than a tattoo. He was also a subject of experiment on human brains in which Gotham was doing but managed to make a last minute switch.
 
Edgar may not be the true Earl and may have lost everything then, thus the only way out is to become the Blue Knight Earl instead of trying to get back his title tainted with treason. Edgar knows that Lydia has put something else in his tea and tells her straight that he would rather die now rather than get poisoned and her escaping. Since Lydia says it is sleeping pills and not poison, he quickly drinks the tea and says how his fate is decided when he awakes because if she escapes while he’s asleep, his life ends here. All this development must be too fast for Lydia to grasp, eh? The next morning, Edgar awakens and is relieved that Lydia is still with him and starts getting a little flirtatious but Lydia says her reason that she’s with him was because he hired her. Hmm… Maybe the effect of the sleeping pill is still on. Lastly, Huskley and the police escort arrive at the place of Lydia’s dad and inform him that her daughter is being kidnapped. Can’t expect Huskley to give in easily, eh?
 
Edgar, Lydia and Raven reached the Irish island in episode 3 and are received by a butler of an old castle, Tompkins, who has Merrow blood in him. He warns them that many who visited the place and attempted to prove that they are the real Earl die within 3 days after leaving the castle. After another short wooing from Edgar (like kissing her caramel coloured hair. Not rust like how other people would say) in which Lydia is still persistent in fending off (saying got easily tricked by his charms?), Edgar has a little talk with Raven and it seems Edgar is not willing to lose anyone anymore after losing Ermine (Raven’s half sister). Lydia is eavesdropping as Raven caught her in the act. Lydia is still terrified on how Raven immobilized the menace back then so she questions his loyalty if he would really kill if Edgar orders to. But Raven says Edgar will never order him to do that and the evil spirit which resides in his left eye may take over his consciousness and start killing anyone who threatens his master. When she says if anyone could be his master, Raven returns the question if she would be his master to teach him what is right and wrong. This had her speechless. The next day, the trio gather as they start the hunt of finding the Merrow Sword with the clues and knowledge in hand. Their search is interrupted with yet again, you guessed it, Huskley and co. Raven once again distracts them to give his master and Lydia time to escape. The duo then come face to face with Lydia’s dad. He wants Edgar to free Lydia but Edgar surprises them all instead by asking his daughter’s hand in marriage! Huskley catches up and is going to shoot but Professor tries to stop him but was shoved aside. Edgar and Huskley struggle and a gunshot is heard. As Lydia and Nico escape, they come into contact a menacing fairy dog that Lydia recognizes as an Unseelie Court.
 
Raven appears in the nick of time to battle the spirit in episode 4. The dog retreats after a while. During that time, Lydia and Professor has been locked up. Raven comes to inform her to wait for Edgar’s rescue. Soon Huskley has Lydia lead him to the goal but is knocked out by Edgar and Raven. Edgar could’ve killed him if Lydia didn’t stop him, worried that her father’s life would be in danger. They continue their journey unlocking several places with the clues and objects they have in hand. Then at the underground winery, Nico tells Lydia to immediately kill Edgar once she gets her hand on the sword since the Merrow don’t care who the Earl is as they’ve been waiting for a long time. As they cross the chasm, Huskley and co catches up to them. He threatens to kill Professor but Raven is unfazed and activates a key to collapse the bridge. Edgar and Lydia rush deep into the cave and sees a Merrow taking a form of a young girl. Edgar sees the sword nearby and grabs it. However it was just a mirage. The real sword is in Lydia’s hands since she was able to see it. Lydia tells him how Raven told her about the need of a human sacrifice and thus the reason he hired her. So Edgar admits defeat while ordering Raven not to do anything. Edgar takes the sword with his palm and starts bleeding before disappearing. Then she realizes Edgar need not have a blood sacrifice since he has a mark on his body which resembles the Sapphire Star. Huskley and co manages to catch up once more but Nico and his bunch of little fairies subdue them as Lydia is going into the fairy world, promising to bring back Edgar.
 
She finds Edgar in the Merrow world and decides to negotiate with the Merrow for Edgar’s release. The Merrow agrees but Lydia must exchange her soul for it. Edgar stops the Merrow in time and shows him the tattoo on his tongue. Though the Merrow notes that it doesn’t resemble the Sapphire Star, it is still a star. The Merrow bestows the Sapphire Star on the Merrow Sword and makes Edgar their Earl. A few days later. Edgar has been officially recognized as the Earl and he officially appoints Lydia as his fairy doctor. And she thought she’ll return to her quiet normal life, eh?
 
In episode 5, a guy named Kelpie meets a fairy named Marigold who tells him that she has a ring moon gift for the Earl but Kelpie made a quick switch. Meanwhile, Lydia is made to attend a ball by Edgar. But since she can’t dance, he hires a dance instructor. However that dance instructor tries to assassinate Lydia and if not for Raven’s quick reflexes, she would’ve been a goner. Raven notices his scarlet crescent moon necklace as the assassin makes his quick escape. Then Edgar tells Lydia how the picture of Tytania he received resembles greatly to Lydia in terms of cuteness and mysterious character. Then Marigold comes to see Edgar (in a form of a young girl so that he could see her) to talk about the marriage between the Earl and her queen Tytania but she is afraid since she has lost the real moon ring to symbolize that marriage and fears she would be reprimanded if she returned empty handed. They promise to find it and allow her to stay here temporarily. At the ball, Lydia wonders her dress is weird. Her comments caught the attention of a man, Paul Ferman, who is the one who drew the painting for the Earl. They chat about how Paul likes drawing fairies because since no one has ever seen them, it gives him creativity to draw them. Just before Lydia was about to dance, Kelpie appears. He is here to bring Lydia back to Scotland and marry her! Wait a minute. This guy isn’t human too. He’s some sort of aquatic fairy horse. Kelpie presents the stolen ring moon as proof for their engagement. The ruckus has Paul coming out so Kelpie thought he was the Earl. A little struggle ensued and somehow the ring ended onto Paul’s finger. Uh… No gay marriage, I hope. Yeah, he can’t take it off either. Edgar comes by and Kelpie doesn’t like him either. Another fight could’ve started but Kelpie backed off upon seeing Raven.
 
As Edgar and Lydia dance, he says he is concerned about Kelpie’s proposal but Lydia tells him that he wasn’t serious about her either. So a lot of love wooing kind of talking. Love made no sense… Any other normal would’ve chosen the Earl but you know Lydia herself isn’t normal… You get the point. Edgar is also worried because he thinks Lydia may have a heart for Paul. Lydia has had enough of this flirting game and tells him to stop. I’m not sure if it was her flashback that made her cry but it was enough for Edgar to conclude that she may hate him. Tomkins then comes by to hand Edgar a threatening letter with scarlet moon mark which intends to kill this fake Blue Knight Earl for pretending to be one and to hand over the Merrow Sword. Lastly, another fairy named Sweetpea comes looking for Marigold.
 
Sweetpea learns of the moon ring switch in episode 6 but intends to introduce Earl as their queen’s groom even if they don’t have the real ring since they’re tired of waiting. But Kelpie turns up and asserts that he’ll be giving Lydia the ring. Edgar ends the ‘discussion’ and decides to hire Paul to paint pictures for him with Lydia as his model till he gets the ring off. While Paul is sketching her, she learns that Paul continued to become a painter due to an encouragement from a person with Edgar’s physical traits when visiting a noble’s residence. After another one of those short spats between Edgar and Kelpie (he made the latter ate foie gras in which aquatic horses shouldn’t), Edgar wants Raven to investigate Paul’s dad whom he remembers going by the name of O’Neil. He also finds out that many people wearing the scarlet moon accessory is seen coming in and out from Slade’s art dealership. That night, another one of those flirtatious moments from Edgar as he kisses her hand. Edgar goes to see Professor on his opinion on the moon ring since he is an expert on minerals. From what I understand, the Blue Knight Earl’s fairy queen was named Gwendolen and was an archer. During that time, a bow and moon meant the same thing. And since Frandolen was also thought to be their daughter, their names could mean white bow and red bow, or white moon or red moon. Of course Edgar too asks about how Professor courted his wife who was also a fairy doctor (hint, hint). So he replies for Lydia’s case that one day an important person more important than her dad will erase all that uncertainty. Seeing Edgar so surprised and speechless for the first time. Was that the answer he was looking for?
 
Elsewhere, Paul is secretly meeting up with Slade who wants the former to eliminate that fake Blue Knight Earl. Looks like Paul is part of the Scarlet Moon group. But he seems hesitant. Later Edgar after bidding ‘farewell’ to Lydia, he goes to see Paul alone. He knows that he lied about not being able to take off the moon ring and that his real surname is O’Neil, though Paul denies this. Paul realizes that Edgar could be that young noble boy because only he knows that Paul initially wanted to be a poet. Paul prevents Edgar from drinking the tea he earlier laced with poison. He apologizes when a woman comes charging in towards Edgar with a poisoned knife. Edgar is laying unconscious back at his mansion as Lydia learns from Raven that Paul is a spy for the Scarlet Moon. However Lydia isn’t going to sit back and wait as she plans to do something.
 
That is to ask for Kelpie’s help. So in episode 7, she knows that Kelpie’s blood has to ability to cure the poison. Lydia promises to go with Kelpie to the fairy world in exchange for a little drop of his blood. Initially Lydia was reluctant to give it mouth to mouth since Kelpie says to place it where the blood flows. So she settled for his hand instead. Seeing that there is no effect, she decides to go for the mouth when Edgar awakens. He is relieved that his dream of Lydia leaving him was just a dream. The next day, Professor comes by to tell Edgar that Lydia has gone to live in the fairy world. Well, he’s not going to let her go like that after saving his life. Many times. After bribing Nico for more info and promising Marigold and Sweetpea to marry the ring, he goes to see Paul and the other members of Scarlet Moon. They are surprised he is still alive as Edgar shows them the proof of his Merrow Sword and makes them vow to serve under him. At first they didn’t believe him and are going to attack him but Paul stopped him saying that he isn’t under Prince. After Edgar suggests that they both cooperate to get back the moon ring, with Nico’s powers, Edgar and Nico teleport to the fairy world.
 
Meanwhile Lydia is with Kelpie and I can’t believe that horse was trying to mate with her! Luckily Lydia shoves him away. Kelpie feels someone is on his turf and goes looking for the intruder. Lydia hears Edgar’s voice and is surprised to see him here while Nico was the one who created that diversion. Edgar tries to persuade Lydia to come back but she mentions she can’t break her promise with a fairy. Kelpie then finds them so Edgar suggests agreeing to his proposal saying that a promise between humans can be broken anytime (so true…). Reluctant at first, Lydia puts on the moon ring as they are transported back to the human world. Well as for Kelpie, he agrees to wait seeing that 30 or 40 years is considered a short time in the fairy world. The next day as Edgar thanks Lydia for saving Paul, he also mentions that his paintings weren’t that great. He also thinks of visiting Professor for a formal proposal. Lydia tries to use that breakable human promise excuse but she should’ve seen this coming because Edgar says she did agree to it and doesn’t remember saying anything like that! He’s so good at this game.
 
In episode 8, Paul wakes up to find a young woman sleeping next to him. Did he turn into a pervert? Well, that girl isn’t ordinary either because the tears she shed turn into amber. Back at the mansion, Edgar once again is trying to get flirtatious with Lydia and obviously Kelpie isn’t amused. A fairy elf named Coblynau appears to explain that the moon ring belongs to the wife of the Earl. He also puts the ring onto Lydia’s finger and states only Edgar could take it off, much to his delight. Coblynau advices Edgar to treat his ‘wife’ better so he suggests a party to introduce Lydia as his fiancee. Raven accidentally saw Lydia and the maids putting on her corset so as punishment, Edgar has Raven wear a dress. During the party, Paul brings the girl and Edgar misunderstood at first but Lydia recognizes that she is a banshee. When a banshee cries tears of amber, it heralds the death of someone in the household. Furthermore, Banshee doesn’t remember anything much except that her master was Gladys, who is in fact the previous Earl. When Paul and Banshee left, Edgar requests Lydia for a kiss but she refuse of course so he hugs her instead. Soon all of O’Neil’s art works are destroyed and they conclude that this is the doing of Prince and his henchmen. Later when Raven asks on what to do with the amber, Edgar thinks of making a necklace out of it but Lydia suggests burning it as it symbolizes sorrow.
 
When Lydia promise to support Edgar as long as he did not ask her to marry him, he couldn’t allow burdening someone whom he only hired and if she isn’t happy, he doesn’t need her and takes off her moon ring. Outside the stairways, Lydia sees Kelpie who hugs to comfort her but Raven interrupts. He tells the horse to get lost but Lydia tells Kelpie to go away instead. Raven advices Lydia not to betray Edgar even though their engagement is a sham it is still an engagement. Raven goes to tell Edgar about Kelpie’s advances so Edgar tells him to protect her as a friend and not because she is his fiancee. Elsewhere as Paul and Banshee chat and the former left to take his sketchbook so he could sketch her, Ermine suddenly appears and tells Banshee that she will bring him to her real master. Lastly, Edgar is thinking of leaving Lydia to protect her.
 
In episode 9, Paul requests Nico’s help to locate Banshee. This leads them to a dark building and to a man named Ulysses, another fairy doctor and the one with the direct blood and descendant of the Earl who is also working under Prince. Paul tries to convince Banshee that Edgar is the real Earl but Banshee feels the power of the Earl coming from Ulysses. Later Nico is bundled in a box and sent to Edgar’s mansion. When Nico comes to, he starts to panic that his whiskers are gone. After calming down, Nico tells what happened but couldn’t remember more and the woman by Ulysses side was a selkie (Ermine). Then Paul returns and it seems the reason he is alive is because Ulysses wants to find a special amber to unlock Banshee’s memories. If those memories of the former Earl are unsealed, then it would give Ulysses the powers of the Earl. Later Kelpie confronts Edgar and wants him to annul their marriage to avoid Lydia being dragged into some mess and tries to hypnotize him. He escapes when Raven comes in. Raven says he thinks he saw Ermine but Edgar says a dead human can’t be revived. Edgar is at Slade’s club investigating a painting of O’Neil for the special amber and tells Slade to directly tell him or Raven if there is any important development instead of going through someone else like his delivery boy Jimmy. Lydia, worried about Edgar makes a late night visit to his mansion and of course Edgar is happy to see her. Could it be that she has finally realized his love for him? Not. Lydia decides to leave but after seeing that Edgar is a little drunk, he tries to support him but it was just a trick as he hugs her. He then carries her to his bed. After all that sweet I-can’t-leave-you talk and just before he passes out, he unconsciously whispers "Ermine" in her ears. And she thought she was ready to give her all his heart. The final scenes show Jimmy transforming into the Unseelie Court dog and entering Ulysses’ place.
 
Edgar wakes up from a dream whereby Lydia has left him in episode 10. Fed up of his flirtatious ways, eh? A warning sign? Anyway he couldn’t remember much from that night as Lydia had already left. So Edgar has Tomkins prepare a carriage to Lydia’s place. There, he tries to propose to her and misunderstood that he did something to her since he noticed her eyes swollen from crying. But after learning nothing happened, we see that Lydia’s reason for being upset at him was he said another girl’s name instead and makes him leave. Ah, women… A funny part was Edgar was asking Raven to list all the possible names he would say while sleep talking so when Raven suggests if he should do it alphabetically, Edgar takes back that idea. Haha! Such a playboy. Later Edgar, Paul and Slade meet up to decipher a hidden meaning on the painting and it seems to say about the birth of the evil Prince and the hope for the next Earl to destroy this evil. Edgar is back alone in his room when Ermine appears to take Edgar to Ulysses. Meanwhile Lydia is dreaming that she is riding on Kelpie to the moon but Coblynau stops him saying that she is the Earl’s fiancee. Of course it was Kelpie who had infiltrated her dream as he says how once the Earl dies, the promise is dissolved. Lydia realizes why Edger removed her moon ring and decides to go help him. She goes to Edgar’s mansion but only finds Paul. They discuss about the painting Edger was investigating and with Coblynau’s help, they find that the special amber is being used as a paint material in this painting. Lydia wants Coblynau to open a path to find Banshee as Paul tags along.
 
Meanwhile Raven couldn’t seem to find Edgar and there are no traces of him leaving the house. He asks for Nico’s help to open a path to bring him to Edgar but Ermine appears instead and will bring them to him. Edgar is seen with Ulysses and we learn that even though Ulysses was the unrecognized and illegitimate child of the Earl’s main family (which has ceased to exist), Edgar was groomed to be the Prince’s successor instead. Edgar remembers Ulysses as a high class middle-aged man but the latter mentions how all those memories were implanted. Ulysses mentions Edgar should’ve played his part as the Prince’s vessel but Edgar suggests a bet to see who is more fitting to be the Blue Knight Earl, upsetting him. So I can see why Ulysses hates him so much. Not only being chosen as Prince’s vessel but also taken the title of Blue Knight Earl.
 
Paul and Lydia arrive at Ulysses’ weird place in episode 11. A sky with 2 moons? Anyway they find Banshee in her room and Lydia knows that the death prophecy is for Edgar and not Ulysses. Jimmy then calls Banshee to see Ulysses. Not wanting her to go, Lydia dons her cloak and goes in her place and leaves Banshee in Paul’s hands. Can’t believe the dog can’t smell the difference. She arrives in Ulysses’ room, as Edgar continues to mock and upset him. As Ulysses comes closer, Edgar quickly pushes him away and steals Ulysses’ pistol. At point blank, Jimmy bites Edgar’s hand so a stray bullet shot hits Ulysses’ shoulder. Lydia takes Edgar away although he wanted to finish Ulysses off. They escape and take refuge at a corridor from a pack of Unseelie Courts courtesy of some magic ornament from Lydia. When they’re gone, their chat feels a little like a lover’s quarrel. Okay, maybe not. Lydia is not too fond of him pulling off this dangerous stunt by himself but Edgar doesn’t want to drag Lydia into this mess. You know, that sort of stuff. And also Edgar mentioning it is his duty not to let Banshee fall into Ulysses’ hands because though he’s a fairy doctor, unlike Lydia, he makes fairies obey him rather than mediate between them.
 
However Edgar starts to reel from the Unseelie Court’s bite and suddenly they’re transported to the snowy outside and are being confronted by several Unseelie Courts. Thankfully the moon ring shields them from the cold. When 1 of the dogs is going to pound them, Kelpie appears to stop it. I don’t know if Edgar is trying to be a hero or what because he tells Lydia to go with Kelpie. So I guess Kelpie makes a deal with him as he will deal with the dogs while Edgar protects Lydia. The duo are transported back to the corridor. Do a lone aquatic horse versus menacing dogs. Who’ll win? The horse lah. Don’t know how. Don’t ask me. Meanwhile Banshee tells Paul that only Ulysses has the power to unlock her seal and that’s when he and Jimmy come in. Ulysses orders Jimmy to pin Paul done and gets rough on Banshee. He then tosses the painting into the furnace fire but it doesn’t burn. Realizing this is the true amber, he takes Banshee away and chants some spell which has a pair of evil spirits passing through Paul’s body, knocking him out. Meanwhile Edgar can still have that talk about whose girl’s name he murmured when he was drunk. He’s even having thoughts of kissing Lydia after finding out that they didn’t do so. Lydia hints that he may do so if they get out of here safely. Now, that’s some motivation. Suddenly Ermine appears before them and says she will show them the exit.
 
Raven and Nico arrive in episode 12 as Raven learns that Ermine may be obeying Ulysses because he stole pelt when she turned into a selkie after dying at sea. As Ermine leads them to the exit, they see Paul just waking up alone in the room. When Edgar learns that Banshee and the painting have been taken, he locks Lydia and Paul in the room and decides to retrieve the stolen items back. Edgar and Ermine meet Ulysses and Jimmy in a room as Ulysses continues to be harsh on Banshee. He then burns the painting with his blood. Banshee regains her memories, shed tears of amber before collapsing. Then Ermine takes Banshee hostage and threatens that if Banshee dies, neither will obtain Gladys’ power. She also mentions she has been obeying Ulysses just to protect Edgar. But Edgar tells her to release Banshee and will not allow members of his family to be killed. Ulysses summons evil spirits to take out Edgar but Raven arrives in time to slice them all. Paul and Lydia too arrive at the scene (Nico unlocked them). When Raven learns how Edgar was hurt, his evil residing spirit goes berserk and is going to aim for Ulysses, only to be protected by Jimmy. So Raven takes on Jimmy and beats the latter thanks to a little diversion from Nico. The other evil spirits are going to attack but Kelpie too appears in time to keep them at bay. Ulysses orders Banshee to hand over Gladys’ power but she tries to bargain she’ll do so in exchange to spare Edgar’s life. Plus, Banshee doesn’t consider him her master. Lydia goes downstairs so Edgar tries to protect her but an Unseelie Court is going to wound him. Banshee takes the fall meant for him.
 
Lydia then shoots the gun Edgar earlier gave her at the moon since this place is enveloped by darkness by the linking of the 2 moons. I don’t know if it’s possible but Lydia managed to hit the moon and bring sunlight to the place, destroying all the evil spirits and healing Edgar’s wound. Heavily injured Jimmy opens a portal for Ulysses to escape so he warns Prince will arrive in England soon and disappears. Banshee tells the gang that she didn’t obey Ulysses because she remembered what she was supposed to do. Also, Edgar acknowledged and protected her like one of his family. Therefore the prophecy will be fulfilled with her death. She hands Edgar the key of Ibrazel and hope he will protect the people of the land from Prince before disappearing. Back in the real world, Edgar says how he once didn’t care about dying but ever since he met Lydia, he only thought about living because it’s his exclusive privilege to love her! Don’t want some other guy taking her away, eh? He continues that he will be the Blue Knight Earl to protect the people he love and wants Lydia to help him and be with him forever. Though she stands firm on not marrying him, he reminds her about the kiss if they got back safely. Not wanting to force her and willing to wait till her heart desires, he kisses her forehead instead.
 
So it ends another fine series. As usual a possible sequel is at hand seeing the several developments towards the end of the series, though nothing has been said about it yet. I’m curious to know who this Prince guy is. Is he such an ominous villain who will bring misfortune to both worlds as painted by those who know his true powers? I’m also beginning to wonder what happened to Huskley and his men. Perhaps once Edgar has become the Earl, they failed in their quest and stopped? Are they any chance related to Prince? Well, if you’re ever interested, go read the light novel, which is still currently running (last time I checked, around 15 volumes already). The anime’s storyline is probably okay considering the short number of episodes. It quickly shifts from Edgar obtaining the Merrow Sword into a noble who will be fulfilling his duties as Blue Knight Earl against the threat from Prince.
 
My favourite character is Edgar. Why? Simply because of his smooth and sweet talk! You have got to love the choice of words he uses which puts Lydia in a tight spot. Whether it’s about love or a job (mostly on the former), he’s such a smooth operator. If I was a girl and quite naive, man, I would have fallen for his charms! Oh yeah, I forgot he’s probably attracted to un-normal girls like Lydia. Lydia on the other hand, tries her best to hold her ground and not get Edgar’s charms get in her way. Hey, it’s an employer-employee relationship, eh? Then what about those company bosses having midnight flings with their secretaries? But that’s a different story. I’m sure with the interaction between the duo all the while, the love chemistry romance has to end up as Edgar x Lydia. Too bad for the rest. Can’t think of another fitting pair.
 
Nana Mizuki is definitely suitable to voice characters such as Lydia. Her innocent yet independent strong voice does nicely fit the character very well. Her other roles include Oboro in Basilisk and Moka in Rosario To Vampire series. Credit goes to Hikaru Modorikawa who voices Edgar whose character’s voice maintains the noble and gentlemanliness at all times. He was also the voice of Tamahome in Fushigi Yuugi series and Rukawa in Slam Dunk. Other casts include Hiro Yuuki as Nico (Claude in Star Ocean EX), Hiroshi Kamiya as Paul (Itoshiki in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series), Tomokazu Sugita as Raven (Gintoki in Gintama), Sayaka Ohara as Ermine (Alicia in Aria The Animation), Takehito Koyasu as Kelpie (Kururu in Keroro Gunsou) and Mamoru Miyano as Ulysses (Sho in Skip Beat).
 
As the drawing and art lean towards a more bishie feel, I guess when the fairies take on human form, they look gorgeous or pretty. Yeah, even the baddies to look good. Hey, this is England so why do I get this odd feeling that everyone does not look like your typical English Caucasian? Yeah, the influence of Japanese anime, I’d say. The opening theme, FEELING, by Acid Flavor is a lively rock piece while the ending theme, My Fairy, sung by Hikaru Modorikawa is a slow pop ballad. One thing which bugs me during the end credits animation is the sleeping semi-naked topless male characters in the series! Hot bods! Yeow! And it ends with Edgar and Lydia hugging each other sleeping. Semi-naked too. Hint, hint…? Yeah, she will always be his fairy.
 
While I don’t take any sudden interests in fairies or spirits after watching this show, it’s not that I totally do not believe in them. Just with a pinch of salt. But if you take a closer look at the world, each culture and civilization is rich with their own versions of folklores and myths. Some are fascinating and some downright scary. So do we really need a fairy doctor in this world? I don’t know about that, I may need an anime doctor to cure my obsession of animes. Now, if only I had Edgar’s verbal persuasive skills…I take my leave and so goodnight my fairy. Pfft! Lame!
 

Hakushaku To Yousei

Ichigo VS Maka

February 12, 2010

Do I sense some similarities here? Or is it just coincidence. Let me see, both animes has its focus on Soul Reapers known as Shinigamis and their job is to take out the menacing threat against humans, the spirit of mankind which has been turned into a mindless evil force known as Hollows or Kishins. Yeah, so in today’s versus blog, it will be Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach and Maka Albarn from Soul Eater. Same but totally somewhat different. Here is a brief look at how the duo stack up against each other.

Meaning of name
Derivation of the character’s name.
Ichigo: Though it may seem to mean strawberry at first, a closer look at his kanji reveals to mean number one.
Maka: A reverse of the word ‘kama’ which means scythe.

Soul Reaper title/affiliation
Ichigo: More of a substitute Shinigami.
Maka: A weapon meister/technician.

Personality
What is a hero/heroine without their version and value of justice and friendship. Don’t forget the angst too.
Ichigo: Though stubborn, short tempered and confrontational, he has very strong determination especially when it comes to the welfare of his friends and family. Does not show his emotions unless when necessary (must be that tough guy thingy).
Maka: Hard working, level-headed and tries to think before leaping though at times she can be naive and stubborn. Also cares deeply for those around her. Does not show facial expressions unless the situation calls for it.
Hmm… I noticed that if they’re not talking, they’re screaming whether it’s powering up or getting hit or pain during fights.

Hairstyle
Ichigo: Orange colour and spiky.
Maka: Light brown with 2 pig-tails.

The black long flowing overcoat
Ichigo: Appears when he uses his Zanpakutou in Bankai form.
Maka: That is her typical uniform whether she goes to school or fight battles.

Inside the physical body
Ichigo: A Hollow self awakens after intensive training from Urahara.
Maka: Black Blood infected her after her first battle with Crona and Soul’s injury.

Partner
The weapon they are wielding.
Ichigo: A Zanpakutou named Zangetsu, whose other form is an elderly man.
Maka: A scythe named Soul Eater Evans, whose other form is a kid obsessed of being cool.

Special technique
The move which is unique to him/her and gives him the extra fighting edge.
Ichigo: Getsuga Tenshou.
Maka: Witch Hunt and later Demon Hunt.

Vision
What he/she can see that other ordinary people can’t.
Ichigo: The ability to see Hollows.
Maka: Her Soul Perception allows her to see the soul of others and hence obtain valuable data on that person’s soul and strength.

School
The school that they attend classes in.
Ichigo: Karakura High School of Karakura Town.
Maka: Shibusen Academy of Death City.

Student status and reputation
Ichigo: A delinquent student.
Maka: A top star student.

Allies
Can’t be an island, eh?
Ichigo: Uryuu Ishida, Orihime Inoue, Sado “Chad” Yasutora, Rukia Kuchiki.
Maka: Black Star, Tsubaki, Death The Kid, Patty and Liz Thompson.

Enemy turned ally
Once fought him/her was beaten by our hero/heroine and become friends. Something like that.
Ichigo: Renji Abarai.
Maka: Crona.

Cat ally
The feline staying close by…
Ichigo: Yoruichi. Serious, intelligent and witty. Provides information of important details and lessons to power up.
Maka: Blair. Airhead, carefree and seductive. Provides fanservice and seducing Soul to drive Maka up the wall.

Father
Notice how both don’t like their dads and in a way they sometimes act like clowns.
Ichigo: Isshin. Runs a private clinic but secretly seems to be a captain class Shinigami.
Maka: Spirit. Currently the Death Scythe for Shinigami.

Mother
Both are not prominently featured if not briefly mentioned in the series.
Ichigo: Killed by a Grand Fisher Hollow when Ichigo was young.
Maka: Currently on a travelling trip to parts unknown on Earth.

Siblings
Ichigo: Little twin sisters Karin and Yuzu.
Maka: Nil.

Rescue mission
Ichigo: Embarked on missions to rescue Rukia from execution at Soul Society and retrieve Orihime from Hueco Mundo.
Maka: Embarked on a mission to save Crona when the latter goes to face her villainous mother Medusa and later Soul’s mind to save and free him from his black blood.

Boss fights
Battling against powerful bosses and ending up victorious. Simply because they’re the hero lah…
Ichigo: 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki, Bounts leader Jin Kariya and Espada number 6 Grimmjow.
Maka: Medusa and the Demon God Ashura.

Transformation
Ichigo: Learns to transform into and control his other wild half, which is a Hollow via Hollowfication.
Maka: Later in the anime, seems to have the ability to transform part of her body into weapon blades.

Seiyuu
The voice behind the character.
Ichigo: Masakazu Morita.
Maka: Chiaki Omigawa.

Conclusion
I guess it is not my place to say who is better. They both have their strengths and weaknesses while being admirable at the same time. Ichigo may seem to have more info about him because of the long running series which allows room for the character to develop and grow. Whereas it is lesser in the case of Maka since the Soul Eater series is short and already ended as compared to the still ongoing Bleach. Nevertheless, you can count on both of them when it comes to saving the town from evil spirits. Better think twice in engaging in mortal combat with them.

Ichigo Kurosaki Maka Albarn

Purple Hair Anime Twins

February 6, 2010

I don’t know. One day suddenly out of nowhere and in an instant the thought of purple haired anime twins seem to generate in my mind. And not just one or two but half a dozen of them. All at the same time. So this got me thinking that if this hair colour is suitable for anime twins? Not that I know any scientific formulas or researches done on it. Seeing that my so called obsession on pink haired anime girls in my previous blogs, so I just said to myself what the heck, let’s just do one on purple haired anime twins. Girls of course…
 
Kagami and Tsukasa Hiiragi (Lucky Star)
Tsukasa & Kagami 
In my opinion, has to be the most famous among the purple haired twins. Even if they are twins, both sisters are like day and night, a total contrast of each other. That is to be expected when they are fraternal twins. Kagami as the older twin is more responsible in her studies and does well in her exams as compared to her younger twin Tsukasa who is more of a stereotypical klutz as she is quite forgetful of her homework. But Tsukasa is not a total useless girl as she is quite good in cooking. Which translates to Kagami isn’t good in the kitchen. Kagami is prone to getting teased by Konata (which sometimes explains her intolerant behaviour) while Tsukasa herself is prone to well, misfortune due to her clumsiness. Telling them apart should be a breeze because Kagami has long hair and ties them up to make visible twin ponytails while Tsukasa spots shorter hair and wears a yellow ribbon-like head band.
 
Kyou and Ryou Fujibayashi (Clannad)
Ryou & Kyou 
This pair of twins are often compared and sometimes associated with the Lucky Star pair. Well, in a way they do share some of their personality. Since they too are fraternal twins, this means their personalities are at total opposite ends of the polar. Older twin Kyou is your typical bad mouth and aggressive type while younger twin Ryou has a more timid nature. But don’t ever bully Ryou because Kyou will come throwing a thick book right in your face! I’m not sure if Kyou has a valid licence but she rides a scooter to school while Ryou as the class rep is more into fortune telling. In contrast, Ryou doesn’t cook well. See the certain similarities here? Telling them apart is also easy because Kyou has longer hair as compared to Ryou.
 
Yuuma and Yuuna Kashiwagi (Pani Poni Dash)
Yuuma & Yuuna 
Here is another example of twins who are also opposed in their behaviour. This time, Yuuma and Yuuna are identical twins and you thought they would share almost the same personality, right? Nope. Yuuma has a more outgoing personality as compared to Yuuna’s soft-spoken, introverted and easily getting embarrassed character. Because of that, Yuuna is always at the receiving end of Yuuma’s pranks. Even with difference in their character, the twins share the same passion in fashion and are members of the school’s drama club. Because they both look the same, it was difficult to tell which is which if you disregard their personality (even some of the characters in the series have a hard time telling them apart). Yuuma is the one with the ribbon tied on the left side of her head while Yuuna ties her ribbon on the right side of her head. Now, I just have to remember this simple distinguishing factor…
 
Imari and Sayoka (Inukami)
 Imari & Sayoka
Can’t have twins which are total different all the time, can’t they? Imari and Sayoka are an example of how twins act and think alike. Because they look the same, I had a tough time differentiating who is who. Thankfully, Imari is the one with the ponytail on the right side of her head while Sayoka has hers on the left hand side. Furthermore, since they usually stand (in the eyes of the viewer) from left to right, so I guess it is pretty easy to tell (assume rather) the left one is Imari and Sayoka on the right. How sync are they? Well, they have a habit of finishing each other sentences and are never seen apart or far from each other. Unless they’re fighting for Kaoru’s top spot, that is. In Kaoru’s pack of 10, I’m not sure which of the twins rank higher but they both occupy the 8th and 9th spot and the rest above them would hate to lose their ranking positions to the twins. Hey, who wants to go down the ‘ladder’?
 
Sango and Ruri Himeyuri (ToHeart2)
Sango & Ruri 
Another set of fraternal twins with opposing personalities. Sango the naive older twin and has no qualms showing her affections for Takaaki right in front of the public. Ruri the younger twin is highly protective of her sister and because of that she does not like Takaaki very much. So much so Ruri becomes jealous and very hostile towards him. You could just feel her anger towards him. Dangerous girl. Doesn’t Sango know that all that negative energy is bad for her? Perhaps Sango herself is an airhead. But I think even if they show both their different attitudes toward Takaaki, in a way that is their love for him, right? Even if the twins both look the same and wear the same hair accessories in the same style, telling them apart is easy. One looks meaner and the other one looks goofy. Sorry.
 
Kei and Chihiro Shindou (ef ~A Tale Of Memories & ef ~A Tale Of Melodies)
Kei & Chihiro 
Surprisingly even if both sisters are twins, in the first season of the ef series, they are never seen together! That’s because they are living apart from each other in different countries. It is only somewhere late in the second season that both of them finally are reunited. As usual, both sisters have a different set of personalities partly because of the environment that they are in. Kei is an athletic person while Chihiro is the shy one. Because of an accident in the past, Chihiro lost her left eye and her memories could only last no longer than 13 hours. It is with this distinguishing trademark which makes viewers to be able to tell them apart. Thankfully she meets Renji whom he manages to cure her memory loss problem and became a couple. On the other hand, Kei becomes jealous and involved in a love triangle against Miyako for childhood friend Hiro’s affection. She lost out to her and in the end, ends up being a pair with Kyousuke.
 
Seeing Double Shades Of Purple…
It’s a good thing that I could differentiate between the twins. Instead of their physical looks, the characters also have a different seiyuu cast for each twin (with the exception of the Kashiwagi twins as they are voiced by the same person). I have a feeling that there are some more purpled hair twins out there. So I’m thinking is the colour purple the colour for anime twins seeing there is a bunch of them. Heck, no. It’s just mere coincidence that I somehow thought of it for my blog. It doesn’t matter what hair colour they have because there are a lot more anime twins out there. Just to mention a few famous ones such as Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin (Ouran High School Host Club), Sousei Seki and Suisei Seki (Rozen Maiden), Zero and Ichiru Kiryuu (Vampire Knight), Mion and Shion Sonozaki (Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni), Rai and Thor (Jyu Sei Oh), Suboshi and Amiboshi (Fushigi Yuugi), Ako and Riko Suminoe (KissxSis), Ren and Ai Nanao (Kanokon), Mina and Nami Kotobuki (Happy Seven) and that whole bunch in Futakoi (yup, an anime full of twins). Then there are those fraternal twins which consists of a boy and a girl but I’m not going into it since that will be double work and effort ;p. Whether they’re opposites or totally like one another, life is double to fun or havoc, depending on how you look at it. Now, if you’re talking about triplets…

Kujibiki Unbalance OVA

February 5, 2010


After watching Genshiken, I thought I should take a look at Kujibiki Unbalance OVA too. Yup, this was an anime that was created within the anime itself so I guess with the popularity of the former series, it is no doubt that in no time that this series will have a show of its own too. However when I did a little reading up myself, I was a little confused at the start.
 
You see, initially the series has 26 episodes planned so much so there are titles for each of the episode. But the OVA released only have 3 episodes of it. That means, viewers will only get to see actual episodes 1, 21 and 25. What about the rest? Unproduced. Such convenience, eh? Besides, now that I have watched the OVA, I remember some of the scenes shown in Genshiken while the club members are watching it. Yeah, they even got into discussions of how different the anime and manga of this anime is.
 
In a nutshell, this series has a prestigious high school named Rikkyouin High School. The one thing odd about this school is its student council system. Individuals and teams are to be pitted against each in a yearlong battle to decide their pre-determined positions and roles for the student council next year. Wow. That long, huh? Running for a country’s presidency doesn’t seem that bad. Plus, the positions are decided based on lottery or draw, hence the term ‘kujibiki’. As such, cooperation is the main focus as a loss in a real competition would see your entire team being eliminated or worse. Get expelled. And you thought reality TV shows are tough.
 
Episode 1
The episode starts off with a young girl, Ritsuko Kubel Kattenkrad (she’s half German as I found out later), walking up towards a boy, Chihiro Enomoto, before breaking into tears. Fast forward to current time, Chihiro is now a high school student and today is his first day as a freshman. He is eager on his first day but it’s a total opposite for his sister Shinobu, who is also a teacher at Rikkyouin. What is your first impression when she clumsily tumbles down stairs in her undies? Not to mention that crude reply to Chihiro. Chihiro meets up with his best friend Mugio Rokuhara as they head on to school. Mugio thinks Chihiro has luck on his side today but the latter feels otherwise. At the school assembly hall, Shinobu once again trips on the microphone wire during her speech. Damn. She’s going to have a dojikko tag if this continues further. The student council president (Ritsuko) then steps up to give her speech. If you are wondering why she’s wearing an oversized helmet, that’s because it is a symbol for those holding the student council president post.
 
Later Chihiro goes to the library to do some research on some weird mushroom his sister brought home earlier on. That’s when he meets Tokino Akiyama. This girl is such a mushroom freak. She knows every damn thing about them and she is excited that Chihiro is reading a book on one. Is it some sort of a turn on for her? Then back at the hall, the students are to draw their positions and roles for the student council as presided by the student council vice president Kasumi Kisaragi and the treasurer Lisa Humvee. It is Chihiro’s turn to pick but he is spacing out till Kasumi calls him out. Chihiro quickly takes a paper but he didn’t notice that Ritsuko was blushing during his turn. It seems Chihiro’s number is 27, his post, secretary and the place, kitchen. To his dismay, Mugio is in a different group. He is disheartened because he is the only person he knows. No time to whine because everyone will have to head to their designated places once they have got their draw.
 
Chihiro rushes to the library and bumps into Tokino again. Yeah, she is relieved that nothing serious happened to… her mushroom book. Her other friends soon appear and they find out that they are on the same team. Other than Tokino the president, there is the tomboyish Izumi Tachibana as the vice president and Komaki Asagiri as the treasurer. However things get heated up for Chihiro’s team because a self proclaimed rival of Tokino appears. She is Renko Kamishakujii and is a very obnoxious bratty girl who wants to beat Tokino in everything she does. Some may call her to have a kiasu complex. She is also very bossy and domineering, having her team mates treating her like a queen. They include the very loyal Kaoruko Yamada, and a couple of guys known as Suzuki and Kenji. We find out why the reason Renko hates Tokino was because during elementary, Tokino ‘hogged’ the toilet so much so Renko wet herself. How embarrassing. Yeah, Tokino remembered her because of that.
 
Ritsuko and the rest are to supervise the match between Chihiro and Renko’s team. This is just a mock battle and the results will not contribute to their records. The 1 hour competition has them to cook up any amount of dish using the ingredients available: Mushrooms. Oh, the joy for Tokino. But be careful, some of them are poisonous. With Tokino using her wide knowledge of mushrooms, kiasu Renko isn’t going to lose so she uses her special ability by reading up the whole book in 3 minutes! Wow! Super fast! She is better than a computer! Not. Why? Though she gives her command to Suzuki and Kenji on what to do, after 3 minutes, she forgets everything! Some 3 minute memorization technique, I’d say. Chihiro is impressed but Komaki chides him for having time to admire the opponent so they continue to work together. However, Izumi is sitting there doing nothing. Chihiro accidentally burns a mushroom as Tokino gets a little excited. Seeing that there is nothing wrong, Chihiro gives it to her to take a bite. By then, Komaki and Izumi knew it’s too late. Tokino ate all their hard work mushroom dishes. Note to self: Never feed a mushroom lover with mushrooms. Renko is laughing and relishing that victory will be hers (oh, just shut up!).
 
However with only 5 minutes left, Komaki refuses to give up so they start working again even if there are only poisonous mushrooms left. Don’t worry, with Tokino’s knowledge, she can turn the inedible to something delicious. Renko starts to panic so she orders Suzuki and Kenji to take them out. Hey, there are no other rules, remember? Thankfully this is where Izumi comes in as she counters the menace of flying utensils while the rest work on their dish. Time is up and Ritsuko is going to judge them by having a taste. After tasting Renko’s dish, Kasumi however is reluctant for her to taste Chihiro’s team because she isn’t sure of the poison being totally removed. However Ritsuko just ate them and finds them delicious. Ritsuko announces that Chihiro’s team wins because of the innate ingredients they put in. You see, they were supposed to make a mushroom dish and not some French or German cuisine. In other words, Renko’s mushroom dish was totally overwhelmed by those factors, which hinders in bringing out the mushroom’s true taste unlike Chihiro’s team. Too bad Renko, suck it up for that lost. Padan muka.
 
When the student council leaves, Chihiro realizes who Ritsuko is, goes up to her and asks her when she returned. He wonders why she didn’t tell him of her return even though she said she returned 3 years ago. Her reply was that there was no need to do so. Chihiro stood there in shock and that flashback from the start of the episode continues: As Ritsuko cries on Chihiro’s shoulders, she asked him would he take her as his bride if she stops being a cry-baby. He nods his head.
 
Episode 2 (Episode 21 actually)
What a better way to put all those unproduced episode into a recap summary episode. Yup. That’s what this episode is all about. Talk about saving time, cost and energy. Anyway Chihiro’s team are having a meal at Umeya House of Plums while reflecting the weird events that they have gone through. And indeed they are weird. All this just for next year’s student council’s posts? One of the matches includes a football game whereby Chihiro’s team won by an unbelievably huge margin 12-0. Well, rough Izumi has taken out all the weak opponents with her pushing so Komaki has no qualms and even took her own time scoring. As for Tokino the goalkeeper, she’s fast asleep. Their next match has them against a bunch of otaku geeks to see who gets the most hits on their website. The geeks’ hit counter is rising by the second because of their ecchi fanservice pictures they have drawn. With time running out, suddenly Chihiro’s team’s counter rises at a super fast rate. That’s because the girls uploaded pictures of themselves in bikinis. Wow! Real life pictures and bouncing boobs! They won by the skin of their teeth! 10,024-10,023 hits! Amazing!
 
Then it’s a sauna competition. If anyone of their members goes out first, the whole team loses. Tokino can’t stand it anymore and is going to leave but the rest try to restrain her (fanservice cue! Body sliding over each other!). To take their mind of the heat, Komaki tells of a story whereby 4 men who got lost in the blizzard took refuge inside a cold dilapidated hut. In order not to fall asleep, each of them stands at a corner and took turns walking to the next corner. When he has done so, that person moves on to the other corner and this process goes on till day breaks when they are rescued. The catch? If the 1st person moved from his spot, his place would be empty and the process impossible to continue, right? The gang tried it out themselves and found it to be true. Komaki’s conclusion? There was no 5th person! A horror story! Everyone starts to get scared but Komaki continues with her ghost stories so much so the other team has to be taken out because they have been dehydrated and roasted! Now that’s a ‘creative’ way of keeping cold in that intense heat! Soon the same competition but this time in a freezing room but their sumo opponents broke the fridge.
 
Next, a jungle military survival game but their opponent’s team has 7 members! And you thought each team had 4 members only. Well, call it the luck of the draw. And don’t question its sacredness. Chihiro’s team is having a tough time because the leader of the other group has a general-like thinking. Four of his men are in the field while he and his remaining 2 operate from a distant headquarters. Airhead Tokino is frolicking with some wild mushroom when the quartet enemy surrounds her. However, 1 of them has had it of this manly ideal and throws down his gun. He goes up to Tokino and confesses his love for her! Soon the rest too went up to the other girls and confess their feelings! WTF?! That huge guy confessed to Chihiro?! Gay?! Furthermore, they have defected to Chihiro’s side and the opposing team is on the losing end. Realizing victory is not on their side, they shoot each other in the head. What a way to win for Chihiro’s team.
 
Fancy a karaoke competition? Think this is easy? Well, until Tokino opens her mouth. She sounds like a burly man singing! Everybody run for your life! Cover your ears! Her singing is enough to cause disasters to happen over the world! Apocalypse, now! From car crashes to birds falling to flowers withering! It’s the end of the world! Next is a swimming match with aliens. While the ladies look gorgeous (albeit the same face), the single guy look like a typical little gray man. Komaki notices their weakness as having weak bowels. At the start of the competition, Tokino’s unbalanced causes her to have several false starts. Then all her members fell into the pool when they tried to pull her out. Having fun? The real match begins and the alien team is having a huge lead. However as their bowels build up, the final female can’t take it anymore, gets out of the pool just before the home stretch, and jumps out of the window. Boom! So kids, remember never to hold it in. Can’t she wear diapers? Hmm… Maybe they would look odd in it. Then it is a mahjong match which is Izumi’s forte. However her partner is clueless Tokino. They are so doomed. Not. That’s because Tokino wins on her first hand. Talk about super lucky.
 
Chihiro and co are running away from monsters in a dungeon-like RPG match. Their opponent led by Maori seems to be having a better time disposing monsters and levelling up with their powers up as they breeze through. Tokino then felt hungry and luckily Chihiro’s handphone still has signal deep down underground as she calls for 4 bowls of garlic ramen. I don’t know how the delivery guy found his way here but the gang had a delicious meal. Meanwhile Maori’s team is close to the home stretch when she suggests healing their wounds. However, seeing that this isn’t like the real RPG and that there are 4 of them instead of the usual 6, there is no healer. Running low on HP and MP, soon all the monsters surround them to get their revenge. And their handphones are out of range too. Say goodbye to whatever help. As for Chihiro’s team, their garlic breath is enough to scare away all those monsters as they reach the mage’s room. As he is about to give them his magical ward, their garlic breath stinks the whole place.
 
Back in reality, Komaki notes how there are 2 more competitions left. Ritsuko and Kasumi are also dinning nearby. Ritsuko seems to have that forlorn look on her face every time she sees Chihiro’s face. She soon takes her leave. Back in her office, suddenly an outsider intrudes through her window. He goes up to her and tries to flirt. Kasumi enters and is surprised to see what is happening. Her reflex has her taking out her sword to battle with him. He is no pushover though as he too whips out a gun and starts blasting away. The short cool battle ends when he leaves through the window. Kasumi asks if Ritsuko is alright and her reply is yes.
 
Episode 3 (Episode 25 actually)
There seems to be a crisis with Chihiro’s team. They are lacking some sort of resolve and have decided to disband. Gasp! Ritsuko comes out of the infirmary, assuring her assistants that she is fine. She then gives a speech regarding the Kujibiki Draw. Six teams have made it to the final phase but they need to register for the final tournament by next Monday 5pm or else they will be considered forfeited no matter the reason. Chihiro walks back with Mugio and the former tells how he isn’t going to participate since nobody wants to. Back home, Chihiro notices tomorrow’s visit to Domyoji Shrine and Shinobu, she’s still tumbling down the stairs, eh? He tells her to go to the shrine with her boyfriend and will go after so as not to interrupt them. He also says he will be fine alone if they both get married. Shinobu tries to deny all this.
 
Chihiro visits his parent’s grave and is surprised Ritsuko praying there as well. They walk back together as Chihiro learns how she is indebted to his family and has been coming to visit their graves every year. Suddenly she collapses and that young promise flashback again. When she comes to, she finds Chihiro carrying her. She gets enough strength to walk on her own again. As they walk home hand in hand, she tells him how she initially hated the tournament nor understand the meaning of it and though she knows the Kujibiki Draw must not be tainted, she feels running away is most shameful. But before Chihiro could say anything, she continues and hopes he will become stronger from here on. He understands.
 
While Komaki is busy tending to her house chores (she is playing a motherly figure to her naughty younger triplet brothers and sister Koyuki), she spots Chihiro from her balcony. He is here to talk about participating in the final tournament but Komaki does not want to because she feels that she is neglecting her siblings as she is busy. Elsewhere, Izumi’s gambling luck isn’t good either as Chihiro stops by to request her assistance in persuading Komaki and Tokino to participate but she too isn’t interested. Meanwhile Tokino is alone in her room when pissed off Renko barges in to tell her off about her no-show. I know she always wanted to beat Tokino but how can she claim true victory if she beats her by default? Hey, it’s her rival. Till Renko starts shedding tears, Tokino hugs and thanks her. Later Tokino meets Chihiro at the library and he wants their team to participate but Tokino still has no change in heart. Chihiro continues to explain that it is better to finish what they had started, that it would be a waste to give up when they’re so close and that they will certainly find something that they don’t see right now. However, it isn’t enough as Tokino walks away.
 
Later as Komaki goes out with Koyuki, the latter wonders wouldn’t it be better if she and her brothers aren’t around so that they won’t bother her. But Komaki denies it and asserts she’d love to spend more time with them. Izumi happen to pass by so she tells her "When tomorrow comes, the situation is going to change". As she leaves, it starts snowing. A gloomy atmosphere befalls on them as we see Shinobu being proposed by her boyfriend. Next morning as Komaki is cleaning the house, Koyuki says she will watch the house so she can go see Chihiro. She doesn’t want to see Komaki holding back anything because even though she is treating them kindly, she feels she has some sort of a scary expression. Komaki apologizes and hugs her. Ritsuko comes in to her office and finds out that 5 teams have already registered and the only one left unregistered is Chihiro’s team.
 
As Komaki treks in the snow to school, she sees Chihiro and Izumi waiting for her. Seems like they are going to participate. They wait for Tokino but as the deadline looms, she isn’t anywhere near. Then Chihiro spots her from afar hiding behind a tree. He yells out for her to come over so she asks what he sees from over there. He replies "A scene that I am seeing for the first time". Tokino gets elated and rushes over into Chihiro’s arms. Problems solved. Yay! They’re back together as one. Then in the hall, Ritsuko announces that all 6 teams have registered for the final tournament and that she will now announce the content and rules of the competition.
 
Kujibiki Unfinished
Because of the way they released the episodes, lots of questions are raised. At least because I don’t read the manga (if ever there is one!). All I can say that this OVA was fun and it could have been a good thing if it was properly released as a full 26 episode series. But then again, it may not have that attracting and retention factor if it was to be shown for that duration. There were quite a number of potential build-ups for the plot and characters to grow but you can’t argue much seeing that only 3 episodes were properly produced. I mean, I saw that potential from the opening credits animation and the producers even made a next episode preview for the next episode which never materialized! Sighs… I would have liked to know how Chihiro and Ritsuko will end up, the kind of illness that Ritsuko seems to be having or even who that funny looking outsider assassin guy is.
 
Summary episodes are not my thing but in this case is an exception because we don’t see those episodes! Therefore I really loved the recap episode because of the hilarious and weird competitions that Chihiro and his team had to go true. Some are amusing while others are outrageous so much so I couldn’t help myself laughing out loud at times. Creative, I’d say. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to go through all that say, to get a job. How I’d wish they should have made more of those kind of short snippets of them going through the competition. Come to think of it, I noticed that Chihiro’s team mainly wins out of sheer luck. Hey, they don’t have any real ability or talents like the rest and the way they won or outlast their opponents was like a fluke. Is this coincidence or fate? Man, the things they go through just for the student council post.
 
Tokino is such an amusing character. She is such an airhead that it makes me wonder how the student council next year will be like. I can’t even begin to think what kind of effect she will have on the entire school if her team wins the tournament and she becomes the next president. Renko on the other hand is another amusing girl. That’s because she can’t stop her fast high pitched yapping. Always blabbing about her high and mighty ways and interested in nothing but beating Tokino. But in a way, she showed that she cared for her in the end, right? You know the saying? Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. And for Shinobu. I hope she won’t tumble down the steps of matrimony if she ever gets hitched.
 
One thing about the drawing and art is that though they are drawn in a kawaii and cute way, I can’t help notice that the characters’ fists are somewhat a little bigger than they’re supposed to be. Then some of the characters’ thighs are like bloated (like Komaki’s. Sorry). Due to that, they seemed a little odd at first. Surprisingly, there are quite a few star studded cast lending their voices here. They include Yukari Tamura as Komaki (Nanoha in Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha), Akemi Kanda as Tokino (Ryou in Clannad), Yuko Kaida as Izumi (Riza in Kaibutsu Oujo), Yuka Imai as Chihiro (Arisa in Fruits Basket), Saeko Chiba as Ritsuko (Natsuki in Mai-HiME), Ayako Kawasumi as Kasumi (Oono in Genshiken), Haruko Momoi as Shinobu (San in Seto No Hanayome), Ikue Ootani as Renko (Chopper in One Piece) and Yuko Gotou as Yamada (Asahina in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu).
 
However in 2006 there has been a proper 12 episode TV release of this series. But then again, the reincarnation is much different than the OVA as there are character redesigns and even the art doesn’t look the same although the main plot remains the same. Even the seiyuu cast is completely different. I read that Chihiro is to be the president while childhood friend Tokino the vice president. Yeah, Renko is part of their team as the secretary. Even if the OVA is interesting, however I’m going to pass this one (one big reason is that nobody subbed this!).
 
Just like life itself, it is one big lottery draw if you like at it in this way. Some call it fate while some call it coincidence. Some may not believe in this luck thingy and believe in making their own destiny instead. Would it be easier if a lot of things in life were pre-determined? But that wouldn’t make life interesting, wouldn’t it? Meanwhile, I’m having a tough time deciding which animes I should watch next. Hmm… Maybe a simple lottery draw should do the trick.
 

Kujibiki Unbalance