2×2=Shinobuden

May 28, 2010

Actually I have seen this show quite some time ago. Many years back actually. Just that I forgot to blog about it. It was a good thing too because it made me rewatch 2×2=Shinobuden (or its English equivalent Ninja Nonsense) to relive and remember all those hilarious moments and antics. Oh boy, and you thought being a ninja is tough. Wait till you meet this bunch of bums and losers.
 
Basically, there is no plot whatsoever in this laugh-out-loud comedy and even if you do need one, let’s just settle with what the so called students of Ninja Academy do and go about in their daily lives. Of course it is the characters which contribute mainly to the hilarious factor. First up, we have Shinobu, the only 16 year old girl in training in the village. Somewhat naive and dense. Tells us a lot doesn’t it. But the one that viewers would look forward for laughs is Onsokumaru who is Shinobu’s friend-cum-master. Wait, my mistake. More like perverted temperamental idiotic instigator. And that was just an understatement. Furthermore he is greedy, a cheater, lecherous, messy leader of the school. What the heck is this yellow piece of sh*t anyway? He can morph, he spews random nonsensical lines, he starts trouble, GETS into trouble, never learns and back to square one. Like a meaner version of Pac Man and his smile is not to be mistaken for that yellow Mr Smiley because it means a more sinister or perverted intent. Then the rest of the ninja students are typical ninja look-a-likes, probably clones, with the main one being called Sasuke. They too are perverts and have a herd mentality. Another useless good-for-nothing bunch. So what the hell is this ninja school for?
 
Due to the vulgar (hilarious from my point of view) nature of Onsokumaru, please beware that if you intend to watch this show, have a very open mind. Or at least leave your brain safe locked in the toughest safe box or the deepest cave in the world. Yeah, you could say that this series is filled with sexual innuendoes courtesy of that yellow ball. Not to mention some of his fanservice daydreaming fantasies and poor Shinobu doesn’t know the meaning of sexual harassment. Don’t let Onsokumaru corrupt your mind. Too late with mine. I couldn’t stop laughing, that is. Besides, Onsokumaru has already ‘warned’ viewers in the opening credits that this anime is fully loaded with, love, lust and youthful indiscretion. Beware, folks. Each episode is divided into 2 parts making the comedy ‘easier to digest’ as each episode title ends with "~no maki" (meaning, volume).
 
As seen in episode 1A, apprentice Shinobu has arrived and has been tasked by her bearded master (Onsokumaru in disguise for those naive believers) that she has to choose 1 of the 1000 tasks presented to her as her exam. They are all so weird that it makes you wonder what it has to do with being a ninja. I’m not sure if Shinobu was listening because she had to pick the so called easiest one, which is to gather female high school students’ underwear. Oh boy. And that unlucky female high school student seems to be Kaede Shiranui. Her night study for tomorrow’s exam is disrupted when Shinobu enters her room after confident of putting on an invisible spell. Of course Kaede like any other girl would assume she’s some sort of thief. Her identity gets busted, not to mention embarrassed. After pulling off a few ninja techniques which aren’t that good either (more like bloopers) and even Kaede is suspicious whether she’s really a ninja or not, Shinobu gets broken hearted and calls forth her partner: Onsokumaru. The yellow idiot makes his idiotic appearance coupled in with his wise cracks that only gullible Shinobu can believe. Shinobu then continues to raid Kaede’s underwear closet and this has Kaede screaming that she’s a pervert and the likes. This makes Shinobu lose heart once more and may have to abandon the exam. However Kaede gives her a panty since she knows how it feels like to be stressed out over an exam. Because of that, Kaede has no time to study as she feels awfully tired during her own exam. So if she thinks she’ll do her study properly this time, think again because Shinobu is back with another mission: To get a kiss mark. Yeah, repeat offender and frequent visitor from now on.
 
In episode 1B, Shinobu invites Kaede to her ninja village even if the latter doesn’t want to. The trip there is dangerous because Shinobu flies there via her kite while Kaede hangs on for dear life escaping obstacles by the skin of her teeth. And you thought driving was bad. As usual, the nonsensical Onsokumaru thinks up a short training scheme to improve Shinobu which includes showing her a flip cartoon of a man shitting backwards. WTF?! The girls enter the village to look for Shinobu’s master and the bearded appears. Kaede isn’t amused because it is obvious the master and Onsokumaru is the same idiot no matter how much he tries to deny. When master notes that outsiders aren’t allowed in this secret training centre and that if they do, they cannot leave alive, Kaede fears she’s going to be smacked for good with a baseball bat by Shinobu via Memories Fly Away technique. Of course Shinobu wouldn’t do something like that and it was just a joke. Onsokumaru throws up a tantrum as he harasses Kaede to marry him. Seeing her in danger, Shinobu whacks Onsokumaru and sends him flying. In the aftermath, Onsokumaru seems to have lost his memories and is acting like a baby. His memories indeed flew away very far. Shinobu then strips to show Kaede all her training scars but she should be more concern about her modesty. Shinobu then sends Kaede back via her kite. Not that transport mode again.
 
Even ninjas love watching the cherry blossoms in episode 2A. Yeah, they’re creating so much hype about doing so and when they’re prepared to step out, it’s raining heavily. Boo hoo! What has depressed ninjas got to do but stay in? Yeah, the usual indoor antics like when they find out Shinobu and Kaede get to grow flowers inside by sprinkling white ash of a burnt onigiri, they try to do the same but weird and horrible flowers grow instead. Cactus? Painful. Rafflesia? Stinks. The ninjas have the cheek to grow a rose on Onsokumaru’s head and tease him so he gets back at them. Having enough of this, Onsokumaru says they’ll make cherry blossoms bloom if they have to. Outside in the rain, everyone trudges through the so called ‘forest’ and in the pond they find a toy Nessie. Then a real crocodile shows up and almost swallows Onsokumaru. His extended limbs are the only reason preventing him from being crocodile food. Are the rest going to save him? Erm… After a few unrelated topic discussions, Shinobu is going to handle it by herself. She is going to pull Onsokumaru out with her great timing. With her full concentration, finally she sees an opening. Snap! Onsokumaru is still caught in the crocodile’s mouth and it’s like a tug-of-war now. Timing my foot! As for the couple of ninjas waiting at the cherry blossom spot, keep on waiting pals.
 
Shinobu tags along with Kaede to the city to shop together in episode 2B. As usual perverts Onsokumaru and Sasuke invite themselves to follow the girls. Shinobu isn’t used to the crowded streets but thankfully Kaede is around. Onsokumaru and Sasuke cause lots of commotion by attracting lots of unwanted attention not only from their weird appearances. Kaede must be having a hard time. She warns them to hide because she doesn’t want her friend to be in shock if she ever sees them. Too late. To Kaede’s horror, her friend seems to rather accept them and finds them cute and amusing! Onsokumaru commemorates her with a bouquet of roses, saying she is the 100,000th person to do so (liar!). As the gang eat at a diner, Shinobu seems to be pulling pranks on Onsokumaru and Sasuke. But it’s not her really. This fake Shinobu transforms into Miyabi, Shinobu’s littler prodigy sister who is a summoner. She wants Shinobu to quit being a ninja and be a summoner instead because she’ll learn nothing with those fools around (I agree). Onsokumaru feels threatened that their only sexy female student will be taken away and summons his ninjas but are easily beaten. Then her spell scrolls start to go out of control but the ninjas with great accuracy nail them all and restore order. However, it’s just fluke. Not skill, mind you. In the end, everyone gathers back in Kaede’s room and yeah, her place is sure lively as ever. How did it turn into a meeting place in the first place?
 
Onsokumaru is burning with rage and training his heart out (yeah right) in episode 3A to avenge the punishments that he’s been receiving from Miyabi. But he’s no match for the little girl no matter how many times he tries. All just big talk. Butt taking serious damage… Later Onsokumaru discusses with Sasuke and the other ninjas on how to defeat Miyabi. Sasuke introduces some guy named Devil. Woah. He’s got to be some tough cookie with such a scary name. Actually he is that crocodile who tried to eat Onsokumaru. Only difference he is domesticated and has been taught to speak. Maybe the domesticated part needs work. Lots of them. Still trying to eat Onsokumaru… The yellow pervert gets an idea to fuse his brains (don’t make me laugh) and Devil’s strength as he sits at the tip of its mouth (looking like a robot if you may call). As Shinobu tries to persuade Miyabi to go easy on Onsokumaru, Devil attacks but falls short. As a result, he accidentally swallows Onsokumaru so Miyabi uses a spell to pull him out. Not happy, Onsokumaru ransacks the place for a spell to even the score. He causes lots of mischief like scribbling in Miyabi’s books. When they finally cornered him, it finally took the gang some time to realize that there are 2 Onsokumarus! Yeah, stupidity is infectious. They learn he did chant a spell which causes a part of him to split. And to see both yellow idiots fight it out using cowardly tactics is just plain hilarious and downright stupid! Thankfully there is a time limit so the clone gets absorbed back to the real one. But he still doesn’t learn because the next time, there are like 100 clones of himself. Trouble multiplied!
 
The regular meeting with nothing but nonsense and empty talk takes place as usual in episode 3B. Shinobu was passing by when she eavesdrop that the gang are planning to make her leave. Devastated, Shinobu runs away from home. Where to seek refuge? At Kaede’s place. But of course. Kaede pities her and allows her to stay. However her mom, Kaori, is super enthusiastic about it and even considers Shinobu as the daughter she has always wanted. So what is Kaede to them? Even daddy too! Though Shinobu may be a klutz, she tries her best to help around. Then before the girls go in together for a bath, Onsokumaru and the ninjas barge in to demand Shinobu to come back. Kaede beats up Onsokumaru for being a heartless bully before learning that the reason why they wanted to make Shinobu leave was that they intend to get rid of the rats, cockroaches and pests that innocent Shinobu wouldn’t lay a finger on. They were going to tell her to stay away for a little while but I guess she jumped to conclusions. Looks like Onsokumaru got beaten up for nothing (not that I’m complaining). When it’s time for the girls to take a bath, Onsokumaru wants in and he intends to see how Mother Nature meant for them to look. Luckily, the girls get to take their bath in total peace and quiet while the perverts are tied up and dumped into the garbage section outside. Burnable garbage to be exact.
 
A hot summer day in episode 4A and I don’t think the heat is getting to their perverted heads. They’ve always been this way. Onsokumaru calls Shinobu to wonder what panty she is wearing and her reply is that she isn’t wearing one! Yeow! That’s only half true because she’s wearing a swimsuit. The gang then go to the river to cool themselves and as usual the idiots make fool of themselves and bother the girls. When Miyabi points out a changing room, the guys’ horniness start to kick in and peeping is on their mind. Let your fantasies run wild! However the ninjas become more infatuated in collecting beetles instead. They then spot a very rare beetle on Onsokumaru and start fighting over it. This causes Onsokumaru to fall over the falls. They kick into rescue mode but upon seeing the girls in their swimsuit, they totally forget about the yellow sh*t and start playing. Life is great! Woot! Onsokumaru is so pissed off that they left him to die, his rage unleashes a tidal wave. Wait a minute, that’s a real big one. The river suddenly turns into a large natural hotspring and though everyone else is safe, Onsokumaru is still being tossed in the air by the water spout. Maybe the rest are admiring the beautiful rainbow in the background…
 
In episode 4B, to Miyabi’s horror she finds out the idiotic ninjas, erotic yellow troublemaker and big sister are spying on her while talking to a boy she likes, Takeru. The usual suspects start teasing her about her dual personality but Shinobu plans to help her out. They take her to a forbidden medicine research facility and show her the ultimate love potion. Being the selfish bastard he is, Onsokumaru swallows the entire potion. However it’s divine retribution as one is supposed to give that potion to the person he/she likes as he/she will fall in love with whoever he/she sees first. Now Onsokumaru can’t open his eyes as he frantically calls for Shinobu. After using his so called super hearing to locate where she is, he opens his eyes only to see himself in a mirror. Yup, he falls for himself! And when he sees Shinobu in the mirror reflection, he gets jealous and thoughts of cheating crossed his mind. It’s Onsokumaru versus himself! The ninjas are betting to see who would win! Haha! Hilarious! The lab is destroyed and Miyabi regrets asking them for help. The next day, Onsokumaru and the ninjas try to kidnap and interrogate Takeru with their idiotic questions. Miyabi isn’t pleased and unleashes her summons to furiously beat them all up. But when she notices Takeru saw her violent side, she gets disheartened and runs away. Onsokumaru thinks he has claimed victory but got stepped on by Takeru as he chases after her. Shinobu thinks of going to but the ninjas say they’ll be fine. What a total u-turn in their personality. Trying to look cool? When Takeru catches up to her, he says that he doesn’t hate her and thinks she’s cool. This has relieved Miyabi to confess… But soon we see Miyabi mercilessly beating up Onsokumaru. But he is laughing like hell. S&M? Nope. It seems Miyabi’s confession was rejected by Takeru because he’s already got a girlfriend. Aww…
 
Onsokumaru once more causes his harassing nuisance in episode 5A so much so he’s making a mockery of the after life like how he’s looking forward to seeing hell. He tastes divine retribution again as a basin lands on his head, breaking his skull (on an unrelated note, I didn’t see any brain there). The next thing he knows, he is in hell as he meets Shinobu the angel and Kaede the judge Enma. He can still be a nuisance in the after life! Kaede sends him to hell for his life filled with bad deeds. He meets Sasuke and the ninjas as ogres but they’re so weak that after Onsokumaru tells them a perverted fairytale, he wants them to take him to heaven where they can find stories like this everywhere. I don’t know how but they got there and Onsokumaru is pissed to see Miyabi and Devil residing in heaven. He thinks the judge is corrupt and proceeds to install himself as one. Upset Kaede hammers his head and breaks his skull. With that, he is banished from the after world and returns back to his Earthly life. Not even the after wants this pervert. Everyone especially Shinobu is relieved that he is alive so she hugs him so tight that she may have actually killed him this time. It’s like heaven and hell being smothered by her boobs, don’t you think?
 
Another hot summer in episode 5B when a blackout occurs. Onsokumaru suggests a scary story because his ulterior motive is to get those girls huddle close to him as part of his perverted plan. The ninjas think the same. Unfortunately Shinobu too has the same idea and at this rate she may turn into a lesbian due to her infatuation with Kaede. Onsokumaru starts with some story about a large scary eye which turns out to be a life size figure of a maid bishoujo. No prizes to guess what Kaede did to that idiot. Probably it’s not a good idea getting cooked up in their village so the gang visit the Bon Odori festival. They have their fun (or nuisance in the case of Onsokumaru) before singing their own version of the festival dance song and finally watching the fireworks.
 
A typhoon is passing through in episode 6A and the clowns are still fooling around. Onsokumaru gets blown away by the wind and ends up in Kaede’s room. Oh no. Sexual harassment alert. Kaede throws him away but soon Shinobu worried that her precious Kaede may get ‘tainted’, she goes looking for him but finds he is gone. The typhoon picks up so Shinobu has no choice but to stay. Onsokumaru is back in the village with the ninjas and upon finding out where Shinobu will stay for the night, to his horror this place will be filled with nothing but men! The storm is keeping them from taking even an inch outside so I guess they can’t bring back Shinobu. I don’t know how or why but Miyabi is cooking for them. She’s a horrible cook by the way. The house is on fire… With the useless bunch, it’s amazing how they made it through the night. It’s all clear and sunny the next morning as Shinobu returns only to find everyone in devastating conditions. However she gets thrilled after misinterpreting they had a candle party. She doesn’t know the hell that they’ve been through.
 
Onsokumaru mounts a search and rescue party for Shinobu in episode 6B after learning she went mushroom hunting in the mountains and fears her naivety may put her in danger. I think he’s going to be the real danger. Thankfully Shinobu along with Kaede and Miyabi are safe but is it? The ninjas test taste a mushroom and start going crazy. Onsokumaru follows suit. With the guys persisting the girls to join their mushroom club, suddenly another female ninja, Izumi, appears and saves them. She is also another ninja teacher of another class as Shinobu introduces the gang back at Izumi’s village. It seems Onsokumaru knows her. How well? Enough to say that she was the wind that passed over his body. They didn’t believe him at first but seeing how Izumi blushed, OMG! It must be damn true! Surprise, surprise. Izumi’s students (all girls) make their appearance so the ninjas start acting tough like they’re hell of a good. However they’re still useless despite the female students showing off their true strength beneath their girly smiles. Meanwhile Onsokumaru and Izumi chat over tea and the latter is not too happy that he still haven’t told Shinobu about ‘that’. He says she’ll find out when the time comes. The ninjas then ruin their conversation as they plead to Izumi that her girls are mean. This causes Izumi to snap as she proceeds to give harsh training to those losers. Yeah, she can’t stand weak men.
 
In episode 7A, Onsokumaru gets stuck onto Miyabi’s clothes after she tripped and fell on him. This is much worse than death. To make things worse, he can’t come off. Arguing with a pervert doesn’t make things better either. I guess Miyabi gets desperate so she tries to pull him off. The rest joins in pulling/stretching him but soon the backlash has Onsokumaru wrapped around her entire body. Gross! Now he controls her movements! Super gross! Miyabi zaps everyone including herself when she lost her cool to revert back to how it was. Not wanting to sleep with this pervert, Sasuke gets an idea: Chop him off! Oh my God! Panic Onsokumaru flies away with Miyabi intact. In mid-air, Miyabi struggles so Onsokumaru loses control and starts falling at rapid speed. Miyabi cries for help when Onsokumaru sprouts wings as they float down slowly. Remember, this idiot can fly. As they watch the scenery, reluctant Miyabi thanks him but it’s not over yet because he can’t hold much longer and suddenly drops like a rock. I don’t know how the shallow pond in their village broke their fall but because of that, they are separated by the wetness. Miyabi and Onsokumaru continue with their ‘friendly argument’. A few days later, Onsokumaru is stuck on Sasuke’s butt. And he’s going to fart…
 
No day is a day of peace with Onsokumaru continuing to be the tyrant by disrupting the girls’ badminton game by playing catch with the ninjas in episode 7B. He proceeds to throw his diabolical pitch which causes damage (more like nuisance) everywhere. He also throws the baseball onto Shinobu’s boobs so when the latter throws back the ball and whoever catches it can keep it, the guys are up to it. However her pitch is so damn powerful that it makes them look pathetic. Onsokumaru has no choice but to make it a gender challenge. But there are only 2 girls. Their problem, says he? Hah, watch what you say because Miyabi, Izumi and her entire female students join in to help out the girls. The baseball match begins with Onsokumaru playing dirty mind tactics on Shinobu but still flops. Probably the sexy cheerleading from the other side is distracting the ninja boys. Too bad. Onsokumaru plays dirty by blindfolding Sasuke (who is the umpire) so that he could unleash hundreds of baseball. However Miyabi counters this tactic by summoning hundreds of hands to catch them all. This means the tactician is defeated by his own scheme as they lost by hundreds all in one shot. The girls win but Onsokumaru continues to bully Shinobu, accusing her if winning like this makes her happy. The next day, Shinobu and Kaede continue their badminton game but the guys interrupt and blame them for intruding their sumo wrestle space. Perhaps they just wanted the girls to play with them after all.
 
Shinobu and Onsokumaru pay another visit to Kaede’s house in episode 8A but Kaede isn’t in. Onsokumaru thinks of setting several pranks when a hideous monster appears and freaks them out. Actually it is Kaede in disguise and she did a pretty good job in scaring the pants out of them. Of wait, the yellow freak isn’t wearing any pants. Anyway he’s still scared and acting tough. The duo learn Kaede is to play a monster for her class’ haunted house during her school’s cultural festival. She invites Shinobu to participate but of course she is more cute than scary. Kaede and Onsokumaru argue on what monster Shinobu should play. A nekomimi one or an erotic kappa. Of course Kaede wins. Using her fist. Nothing that can’t be resolve by violence, eh? Also, Kaede thinks that due to Shinobu’s horrible acting, she thinks of putting her as the receptionist in this outfit. This prompts Onsokumaru to wonder if Kaede has what it takes to wear the monster outfit the whole day. Probably this got to her so she agrees to undergo stamina training. Yeah, part of Onsokumaru to unleash his harassment and pervertness. After tying up the idiot, Shinobu takes over training which has Kaede tying a rope to her waist and run as fast as she could without dropping. Kaede isn’t happy with the low progression rate so Shinobu gets philosophical about hard work and effort. I guess she was partly referring to herself so she breaks down as Kaede comforts her. During the school festival, Shinobu’s cuteness is attracting the crowd. When Kaede finds out Onsokumaru and Sasuke’s plan to touch girls’ body at the festival, she blows her top but they flee.
 
Onsokumaru and the ninjas are at their usual frolicking about jumping over a young plant in episode 8B. Shinobu shows Kaede a new plant of hers which turns out to be a large wild ferocious man eating plant. Calling it Pochinosuke doesn’t make it look cute. The odd part is that every time Shinobu looks the other way, Pochinosuke grabs and swallows as many birds and butterflies into its mouth! Dumbfounded Kaede tries to indicate this to Shinobu but every time she turns, Pochinosuke becomes tame. See a pattern here? Soon Pochinosuke starts rampaging around the village which ranges from outraging Onsokumaru’s modesty to rare anime collections (what kind of ninjas keep those). Sasuke learns from an encyclopaedia that long ago this plant’s seed would be thrown into an enemy castle to destroy it. Plus, the more it eats, the bigger it grows. The buildings undergo serious damage as Shinobu pleads for it to stop only to fall on deaf ears. Shinobu starts crying and that’s when Pochinosuke returns to its domesticated state and vomits out all the birds and butterflies it swallowed. There is also the cat, electrical appliances and several ninjas. Wow. Shinobu gets the green light from Onsokumaru to keep it after promising it will behave and to take care of it (that yellow sh*t was thinking of perverted thoughts. Wrapping tentacles, for instance). Later, Shinobu is disheartened to find Pochinosuke gone but Onsokumaru assures here otherwise because Pochinosuke now has many seedlings that are running wild.
 
The heater broke in episode 9A so Onsokumaru nearly got his balls frozen. Shinobu suggests the gang to visit the newly opened open air bath which was that natural hotspring previously. Of course the girls aren’t going to get into the same water as the guys no matter how much persuasion they make. Miyabi sends them all to another section as her summoners keep watch to prevent any untoward incident. After getting bored talking about each other’s perverted dreams, Onsokumaru plans on going to the ‘other side’. While the girls are soaking, a monkey comes up to them before leaving. Seems it was a spy sent by the guys to report what it saw but since monkeys can’t write or draw, those scribbles are up to one’s interpretations. Then they are shocked to see Devil with a better drawing on the girls. Realizing the girls have no qualms sharing their bath with animals, Onsokumaru joins up with Devil. After noticing several types of baths (money bath?), Devil steps on a high voltage barb wire bath and the electrocution sends Onsokumaru flying in the sky. He is coming down fast into the girl’s area and nothing can stop him, not even Miyabi’s summons. However he is defeated when frightened Shinobu knocks him away with her hair. Back home, the heater is fixed but this time lots of afro hairs come out from the hose. Yeah a pun of afuro (bath) and afro. Duh…
 
Kaede catches a cold in episode 9B so panic Shinobu promises to nurse her back to health. Can she? Oh no. Not Onsokumaru too. I can’t believe Kaori left them in their hands. How can Kaede rest when the round idiot is causing the usual commotion like wanting the girls to strip naked and rub their bodies with each other’s warmth, make a hell lot of copies of himself via the photostat machine and scattering it all over her room. Shinobu thinks of getting medicinal herbs in the dangerous forest heavily guarded by the Kiba Clan. She’s sounding as though it’s life or death. It’s only a cold, girl. Anyway Shinobu doesn’t know how the herb looks like so Onsokumaru shows her. Hey, they can use that instead of really going. Next day, Kaede is well and it seems Onsokumaru has caught her cold. Wait a minute. I thought Japanese believe idiots don’t catch a cold? Anyway, feeling sorry, Kaede pays him a visit only to see him fooling around. Furthermore, he sexually harasses Shinobu in the name of nursing and it is a success because that girl is so naive. Now he wants Shinobu to bath him but the ninjas stand in their way. No, they do not intend to bath with Shinobu. Instead, they are going to protect her by washing Onsokumaru on her behalf! Yeah, the manly skinship. At the end of the day, Shinobu catches the cold so Kaede takes care of her. She puts her forehead on hers and gives her words of encouragement. I’m sure Shinobu took this the wrong way because she invited Kaede into bed with her so I guess she had it and leaves. Not funny, you know.
 
In episode 10A, Kaede receives an invitation from Shinobu to join them on 24th December for food, drinks and laughter. Thinking it’s a Christmas party, to her horror she finds out they know nuts about it as the event is supposed to have them finish preserved food before it expires. WTF?! Kaede offers to teach them the basics of a Christmas party. Stupid Onsokumaru tries to steal the spotlight by eating both the cakes Kaede bought, bringing poor Shinobu to tears. Next, they are to exchange gifts. Since Onsokumaru’s gift is erotic kiss coupons, nobody wants to trade their presents with him. Kaede gives Shinobu a scarf as a present and the latter some cane sword to the former. Does she really need that? Everybody revel in happiness while Onsokumaru sulks outside. Kaede tells Shinobu that Christmas is a time for a girl to spend time with the one she loves and asks if she has anyone special in her heart. Shinobu nods and Kaede is excited to know who that person is. However her enthusiasm diminishes when she realizes Shinobu is staring at her with those eyes. Uh oh. Yeah confirmed she’s turned into a lesbian. Then everyone goes outside to watch the snow fall while Onsokumaru quietly ransacks the gifts.
 
As Onsokumaru and the ninjas argue about cleaning duties in episode 10B, he learns Shinobu discovered a secret passage in the mansion. Clumsy Shinobu soon gets herself trapped in a secret passage with Onsokumaru as everyone else starts to panic. In the dark passage, Shinobu’s clumsiness sets off several traps and Onsokumaru bears the brunt of it. The traps seem perverted… They exit the passage only to find themselves in Kaede’s yard. And she thought she was going to have a nice quiet and day. When they regroup back at the village, Sasuke brings in a box with a clear warning sign that it’s cursed. Before you know it, Shinobu opens it and curiosity kills the cat. The curse has almost everyone with changed personalities depending on the prop they don. Weird ones. Sports car curse? Afro curse? Hamster curse? WTF?! Shinobu gets the moe curse of the megane girl. I guess Onsokumaru and Sasuke felt left out and race each other to grab the last cursed prop. Sasuke wins leaving the yellow loser to be all alone. Furthermore, there is a note in the box which congratulates that one will not be cursed (the kanji writing of congratulations and curse are closely similar). Thankfully Miyabi purifies them all and quells the chaos. In the aftermath, Onsokumaru dresses up as a tangerine and makes up his own tangerine curse. I think his whole personality is a curse, don’t you think?
 
Sasuke hogs the limelight in episode 11A. After waking up from his perverted harem fantasy dream, he overslept and is late for class so Onsokumaru plans on replacing the class leader. A pair of mean looking ogre brothers, Sodom and Gomora arrive at the doorstep of the ninja village but they encounter Miyabi. Meanwhile Sasuke is trying to plead his case (or rather give excuses) when he sees Miyabi being confronted by the ogres. He goes into action mode to save Miyabi from being captured. After all that hyped up exaggeration, he puts mustard underwear on Gomora to send the big ogre in spicy pain. Then he dukes it out with little Sodom and overcomes his illusion tactic by throwing card shurikens up his butt. After some heroic words, we learn that the ogres were here to retrieve their baseball. Haha, got beaten up for nothing. While the ogres are being treated, the rest looks suspiciously as Sasuke. But he makes it up by returning their baseball and all is well ends well. Okay, he cleaned his mess up by talking nonsense. In the end, Onsokumaru replaces Shinobu as the class leader as Sasuke continues to have his nightly perverted fantasies.
 
Kaede must regret saying that she is bored on New Year in episode 11B. Yeah, Shinobu and the entire ninja pals turn up to spend New Year’s Day with them. Too bad Kaori accepts them. They sure act like as though this is their house. Kaede learns Shinobu and the gang are doing a play as they will host a theatrical convention so they discuss what play they should put on. They decide on the classic Japanese folktale, The Crane Maiden. Of course with their own twists. Onsokumaru and Sasuke being the crane which is supposed to be found and brought back by kind Shinobu. Some perverted crane. This isn’t how the story went. In the folktale, the crane’s identity has to be kept secret while he repays the saviour with happiness and wealth till his curiosity ruins it. In their version, Onsokumaru and Sasuke tell Shinobu and Kaede not to peep but curiosity got the better of them. They do so and only find them fooling around. Then the room caught fire so pissed off Kaede is fed up with their lies and that they were just fooling around. This gave her away that they peeked and in the end, a sudden story switch to another Japanese folktale, Momotarou, in which Onsokumaru and the ninjas leave them to fight ogres. Because everyone fell asleep, Onsokumaru is mad that he wasted his breath and gets back by putting tangerines on everyone’s sleeping faces. Suddenly Kaori slaps him for wasting food! Woah! Just like Sasuke says, the first moral lesson since the show began! Onsokumaru quickly reconciles so Kaori forgives him and all goes back to normal. To make things worse, Kaede’s dad was fascinated with the performance so Onsokumaru declares that they all will be his children from now on. Haha! Do you want a yellow pervert and a bunch of losers as your brothers? Think not.
 
It’s been a year since Shinobu entered Kaede’s life in episode 12A. The ninjas want Onsokumaru to explain the thing Izumi ticked off Onsokumaru for not telling Shinobu yet several episodes back. Because the yellow freak is making up nonsense, the ninjas take matter into their own hands and reveal about ‘that’. Yeah, Shinobu is a candidate for the next queen of Magic Land. Some magical girl parody as Shinobu passes her test so Onsokumaru isn’t needed and disappears much to her sadness. After all that teary emotional drama, then it is ruined when he returns as the Magical Prince disguised as her magical pet. Some story. Soon the gang receives a letter stating that Shinobu is to undergo a final exam so Onsokumaru is going to tell her everything. After several false alerts which Shinobu easily falls for (like he is her brother), he finally reveals that the bearded master and him are the same person. However Shinobu brushes it off and says it was a good disguise. Haha! The easiest see-through lie is the most shocking truth that is so hard to believe. Onsokumaru further explains that if she doesn’t pass the exam, her chance to study abroad in England will go down the drain, that’s why he has trained her properly for the whole year. WHAT TRAINING?! More like fooling around and partying! Now the time has come, die lor… Kaede is eavesdropping outside and feels uncomfortable upon knowing this.
 
Shinobu burns the midnight oil with Miyabi assisting her, the ninjas cheering on and Onsokumaru lazing around in episode 12B. Some master he is. On exam day, Shinobu is in a dilemma to go on because if she passes, she will go to England but will never see Kaede again. However this is her dream too. Kaede supports her dream but deep down in her heart, it’s tough. Yeah, though she’s a nuisance but she is HER nuisance. The exam has candidates needing to enter and exit the tough Cave of Ordeals. Everyone is there to show their support as Onsokumaru and Izumi are part of the judges. Shinobu thinks of pulling out when Kaede arrives and encourages her to do her best. Shinobu gets her self confidence and due to time constraints, we see her emerging from the cave to enter the final phase of the test, that is to defeat her master Onsokumaru. Though reluctant, however her body reaction tells us a different story. Uh huh. She may be dramatically saying that she can’t do it but she’s whipping his ass like nobody’s business. Being the sore loser he is, Onsokumaru refuses to admit defeat, gives excuses, earning the wrath and resentment of the rest. Yeah, he’s showing his true colours. A few days later as Kaede narrates, Shinobu has left for England and though her days are quieter, she feels a little lonely. It’s hard to give up on all that ruckus once you’ve gotten used to it. She continues it was hard for her to visit the village and felt the past year was just a dream. As she turns around the corner, to her surprise she sees Shinobu. Not dreaming definitely. She flunked her so they sent her home. So fast? Now we know who to blame for her failure. Shinobu needs to report this to her master and hesitatingly requests Kaede to accompany her. Kaede instantly hugs her.
 
It’s a shame that this series does not have a sequel. I would really love to look forward to Onsokumaru and his nonsensical antics. That guy sure cracks me up. I know this may sound disturbing but that yellow ball is my favourite character in the series because he provides the most laughs. It’s been such a long time since I have laughed out loud and rewatching this series sure brought back memories. That yellow guy has got a way with words though they may be debatable especially his perverted actions. With him around, I wonder how they’re ever going to be a real ninja. They won’t even size up to Naruto at this rate (not that he’s the ultimate ninja whatsoever). With all the fooling, lazing and revelry, my guess is that everyone is better off suited being clowns. Would they become better ninjas if Izumi took charge? Somewhere deep down in my heart I’m hoping Onsokumaru would at least have a spin-off sequel for himself. 0x0=Onsokumaruden anyone? Can’t get enough of that guy, really (for laughs, that is).
 
Shinobu has got a long way to go and I feel she won’t be a ninja too at this rate for being too susceptible and innocent. Thankfully with Kaede around, this should keep Onsokumaru’s perverted antics to the minimum. At least, but not guaranteed. Look at how the power of friendship has changed her. Initially she was reluctant to be with this weirdo ninja girl. As time goes by, she accepts her and even makes frequent visits to the ninja academy. I guess the same for Miyabi towards those blokes. Wouldn’t want to have it any other way, wouldn’t they? Hey, someone has got to play the idiot. Even if that plot about not letting Shinobu know about ‘that’ (which probably was about Onsokumaru and the bearded master being the same person), it is forgivable that they didn’t ‘properly’ lay it out as mentioned and parodied in the final episode since this show lacks a proper storyline anyway. Not that I would care a lot about either.
 
The voice acting is superb and perfectly fits the characters in their series. Of course the best one has to go to Onsokumaru who is voiced no other than Norio Wakamoto (Britannia Emperor in Code Geass series, the Narrator in Hayate No Gotoku). Every tone and pitch highly corresponds with the several moods of Onsokumaru. From his low sexy voice to when he blows his top to nonsensical gibberish. You just got to love his voice. Nana Mizuki too is befitting of her role as Shinobu, making her sound naive and gullible but at the same time exuding lots of moe and cuteness. You can recognize her in similar voices from other animes such as Moka of Rosario To Vampire and Kotoko of Itazura Na Kiss. Ayako Kawasumi as Kaede is equally suitable as the voice of reasoning among the pack of jokers. She was the voice of Nodame in Nodame Cantabile and Oono in Genshiken. Who wouldn’t recognize Rie Kugimiya as Miyabi due to her trademark tsundere loli voices. You’ll know what I mean if you have watched Louise in Zero No Tsukaima or Taiga in Toradora. Versatile Tomokazu Seki does Sasuke (Sagara in Full Metal Panic, Kyo in Fruits Basket), Michiko Neya as Izumi (Riza in Fullmetal Alchemist) and Rio Natsuki as Kaori (Nanami in El Hazard series).
 
The opening theme, Shinobu Sanjou! by Kumano Kiyomi and sounds like your typical Japanese anime pop beat. Of course the opening credits is filled with hilarious stuff and by now we all know it’s due to that yellow guy. The ending theme, Kuru Kururin by kaoru sounds like a western country song because of the banjo picking. The animation here is a mix of claymation and 2D paper cuttings. As for the drawing and art, I wouldn’t say they are bishoujo style exactly as the characters especially the girls are drawn towards a more roundish and cute extent. As far as I’m concern, the only real guy to show his face is Kaoru’s nameless dad. What about Takeru you say? Well, I thought he looked a little girly. The rest were just non-human. The ninjas? Well, even if they took off their clothes, they still left their mask and head gears on. It’s like it is part of their face or head.
 
Why bother opening a school for ninjas when all they do is having fun all year round? Beats me. But at least now I know the reason why and how the term yellow culture came about. Yeah, everything points to the direction of you-know-who. Remember people, do not try or say any stuff from Onsokumaru as your wellbeing, not to mention your self image, will be severely affected. So if an apprentice ninja comes into your room looking for something unwarranted, would you relent or would you turn her down? The answer would be clear cut if there is a yellow freak around. And we all know where and who to look for if we ever need a wild good time, riotous fun and rousing entertainment. That’s why, to quote from Shinobu, "My feelings are always swirling". "GABORAAAA!".
 

2x2=Shinobuden

Anime Group of 7

May 21, 2010

Seven. The number which Japanese considers auspicious and lucky. The number isn’t exclusive to Japan but to certain parts of the world as well. Heard about the Seven Wonders of the World? Why this prime number and not a six or an eight? Well, this blog isn’t going to solve the mysteries or give theories about the said number. Instead, I noticed that in some animes, a group contains seven members so perhaps a blessing for the group or a fate of ill-omen?
 
Also included in the list is what I feel supposedly to be the eighth member of the group. It’s like they don’t really belong to the team proper but cannot be entirely excluded as well. The ‘in the end’ label refers to the fate of the seven members at the end of the anime series. So listed below are some of the anime group of seven members that I know:
 
Samurai 7
Anime: Samurai 7
The group: The seven samurais.
The members: Shimada Kanbei, Okamoto Katsushiro, Shichiroji, Kikuchiyo, Hayashida Heihachi, Katayama Gorobei, Kyuzo.
The 8th member: Villagers who hired and travelled with them: Kirara, Komachi and Rikichi. Hey, 3 peasants make a samurai? Bah…
Their purpose: Hired to protect and liberate Kanna Village from the bandits and oppressing ruling emperor.
In the end: When peace finally befalls on the village, only 3 managed to survive the onslaught.
 
Vongola Guardians
Anime: Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn
The group: Vongola guardians.
The members: Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada, Hayato Gokudera, Takeshi Yamamoto, Ryohei Sasagawa, Lambo, Kyouya Hibari, Chrome Dokuro.
The 8th member: Mukuro Rokudo – well, he’s part of Chrome but still a separate entity of his own, right?
Their purpose: What do mafia groups do? Well in their case being a mafiaso-in-training, for the Varia Ring Conflict arc, they have to defeat the Varia to establish their right as the true Vongola successor, and in the Future arc, they have to defeat Byakuran and his team bent on destroying them in order to return back to their original time.
In the end: Though the Varia arc ended with victory going to the Vongola guardians, the Future arc is still ongoing but it won’t take a genius to figure out who’ll prevail. All credited to their strong bonds. Well, at least most of them.
 
Arcobaleno
Anime: Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn
The group: Arcobaleno.
The members: Reborn, Colonello, Skull, Viper, Fong, Verde, Luche.
The 8th member: Lal Mirch – the failed Arcobaleno.
Their purpose: Having sacrificed themselves to protect the balance and ultimate power of the world (?!). In the Arcobaleno arc, they are to give trials to Tsuna and his guardians and if they pass, will enable the Vongola guardians one step closer to open their Vongola Boxes.
In the end: In the Future arc, due to the Trinisette policy, all Arcobalenos are dead. Unless you’re blast from the past, that is.
 
Shichibukai
Anime: One Piece
The group: Shichibukai.
The members: Dracule Mihawk, Don Quixote Doflamingo, Gecko Moria, Bartholomew Kuma, Boa Hancock, Jimbei, Marshall D. Teach AKA Blackbeard.
The 8th member: Crocodile – ex-Shichibukai revoked of all its privileges.
Their purpose: Allying themselves with the World Government, they keep the balance with the ever ongoing war with the other pirates and the most powerful pirates, Yonkou.
In the end: The series is still ongoing and though some of them have faced and lost to Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates, there is going to be a big mother of all battle coming up as they prepare to face a Yonkou, Whitebeard in his quest to rescue Ace.
 
Special A
Anime: Special A
The group: S. A (what they are known in short).
The members: Kei Takishima, Hikari Hanazono, Jun Yamamoto, Megumi Yamamoto, Tadashi Karino, Akira Toudou, Ryuu Tsuji.
The 8th member: Yahiro Saiga – childhood friend of Kei and Akira. Attends a different school, though.
Their purpose: Being the top students of Hakusen Private Academy, what more a better way for the school to show their ‘respect and gratitude’ by offering an entire greenhouse building just for them and even making class attendance optional! Is that what being smart is about?
In the end: Status quo. Nothing much changes in terms of their rankings but at least in such genres, their relationship and bond with each other progresses.
 
Seven Deadly Sins
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist
The group: Seven Deadly Sins.
The members: Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Greed, Wrath, Sloth, Pride.
The 8th member: Dante – leader of the homunculi.
Their purpose: As the main antagonist of the series, they seek to fulfil their leader’s goals in creating the Philosopher’s Stone.
In the end: All except Wrath are killed.
 
Fushigi Yuugi
Anime: Fushigi Yuugi
The group: Celestial Warriors of Suzaku.
The members: Tamahome, Hotohori, Tasuki, Chichiri, Mitsukake, Nuriko, Chiriko.
The 8th member: Miaka Yuuki – the priestess of Suzaku.
Their purpose: To protect and guide the priestess of Suzaku to summon the Suzaku god to obtain 3 wishes.
In the end: Only 3 are still breathing.
 
Pretear
Anime: Pretear
The group: The Leafe Knights.
The members: Hayate, Sasame, Kei, Go, Mannen, Hajime, Shin.
The 8th member: Himeno Awayuki – she has to pret with them.
Their purpose: To maintain the balance of Leafe in the world and to stop the Princess of Disaster, Fenrir, from awakening and later the world from being destroyed by her.
In the end: Fenrir is defeated and the Leafe Knights happily live ever after with some of them experiencing their own romance and true love. Who doesn’t love a nice fairytale ending?
 
Band of Seven
Anime: Inu Yasha
The group: Band of Seven.
The members: Bankotsu, Jakotsu, Renkotsu, Suikotsu, Ginkotsu, Mukotsu, Kyokotsu.
The 8th member: Naraku – hey, he did bring them back to life with the Shikon Jewel shards, right?
Their purpose: Their revival is for eliminating Inuyasha and any other parties out to destroy Naraku.
In the end: All of them died. Talk about dying twice.
 
Eight Fists
Anime: Shijou Saikyou No Deshi Kenichi
The group: The Seven Fists.
The members: Odin, Berserker, Freya, Loki, Siegfried, Hermit, Thor.
The 8th member: Valkyrie – the new recruit thus renaming the group into The Eight Fists.
Their purpose: The powerful leaders of the organization Ragnarok have their plans on domination (not that I can remember).
In the end: Kenichi and his team defeat them all and the organization disbanded. A majority of them joins Kenichi’s Shinpaku Alliance and some joined YOMI.
 
Happy Seven
Anime: Happy Seven
The group: Better Fortune Research Organization.
The members: Kuriya Kuroda, Tamon Kitayama, Kiku "Okiku" Sarasugawa, Mahiru Oki, Miku Munakata, Mina and Nami Kotobuki.
The 8th member: The other club members who aren’t bestowed the powers of the Shichifukujin (Seven Lucky Gods) – Kikunosuku Kagawa, Kuan Kitayama, Shouko Shouda and new manager Amano Sakogami.
Their purpose: Under the guise of a club, they help other students get rid of their bad luck.
In the end: After saving the world from destruction (some alien weapon that was) everyone continues with their normal lives together.
 
Ouran High School Host Club
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club
The group: The Host Club.
The members: Tamaki Suou, Kyoya Ootori, Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, Mitsukuni "Honey" Haninozuka, Takashi "Mori" Morinozuka, Haruhi Fujioka.
The 8th member: Renge Houshakuji – the self proclaimed Host Club’s manager.
Their purpose: To entertain their female clients to their whims and fancies and at the same time make a profit out of it.
In the end: The Host Club gets to continue to stick together after managing to keep Tamaki from leaving Japan.
 
Rozen Maiden Dolls
Anime: Rozen Maiden
The group: Rozen Maiden dolls.
The members: Suigin Tou, Kanaria, Suisei Seki, Sousei Seki, Shinku, Hina Ichigo, Kirakishou.
The 8th member: Bara Suishou – the fake Rozen Maiden doll.
Their purpose: Destined to play the cruel Alice Game in order to meet their creator whom they fondly call Father.
In the end: Well, not much of a group in the sense that they had to beat the crap out of each other. In the anime, 2 of the dolls legitimately lost and as a result lost their Rosa Mystica as well.
 
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki
Anime: Kyouran Kazoku Nikki
The group: The Midarezaki Family.
The members: Ouka, Kyouka, Yuuka, Geka, Ginka, Teika, Hyouka.
The 8th member: Chika – FKA Senko Himemiya and the only one who doesn’t have Enka’s DNA but was accepted into the family after Kyouka’s cheating intervention.
Their purpose: Operation Cosy Family is initiated to prevent the awakening of the god of destruction, Enka and in the event if he does, hopefully he’ll learn the meaning of family values and change his mind in not destroying the world again. It’s crazy but it’s worth a shot.
In the end: You know the saying, the family that eats together sticks together. Something like that. I guess everyone is happy to be part as a real family and not so concern with the initial mission plan.
 
Amaenaideyo
Anime: Amaenaideyo
The group: The monk-and-nuns-in-training at Saienji Temple.
The members: Ikkou Satonaka, Chitose Nanbu, Haruka Amanogawa, Yuuko Atouda, Sumi Ikuina, Sakura and Hinata Sugai.
The 8th member: Jotoku-baa – the elderly head monk of the temple. In the second season (which I didn’t watch at all), a new girl joins the pack – Kazuki Kazusano.
Their purpose: To perform various exorcisms of demons and spirits in town whenever needed.
In the end: You know the saying, the family that eats together sticks together. Sort of like that. It’s a love-hate relationship, you know. Have you seen any anime whereby the girls grow to rely on their stripping powers to awaken Ikkou’s latent super exorcism powers?
 
Mermaid Princesses
Anime: Mermaid Melody Picchi Picchi Pitch
The group: The Mermaid Princesses of the seven seas.
The members: Lucia Nanami, Hanon Houshou, Rina Touin, Noel, Karen, Koko, Sara.
The 8th member: Seira – Sara’s replacement.
Their purpose: In order to stop the threats of Suiyou, they have to gather their pearls to bring back the legendary goddess, Aqua Reina.
In the end: With Suiyou defeated and newfound peace, what better way to celebrate by organizing a reunion concert.
 
Seventh Heaven
That’s so much I could think of for now. There may be some groups missing from the list and that’s because for instance, even though I may have watched the anime, I did not finish watching them or watched enough episodes to make them part of this list. This include Digimon Adventures (the seven children whisked away to a parallel reality called Digital World), Naruto (the seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist), To Aru Kagaku No Railgun (the seven strongest and most powerful Level 5 espers), 07-Ghosts (the Seven Heavenly Lights and Seven Ghosts) and X (the Seven Seals and Seven Angels). In the case of Fate/Stay Night, I wasn’t sure to classify the seven different classes of Servants as a group so I left that one out. Same case for Ikkitousen as they have seven warring school factions. Of course the group in Koi Koi 7 is totally left out because despite their misleading name, their group have only six actual members.
 
Besides group members, we also have animes which have their number seven focus on items or non-human things such as Yugioh (the seven Millennium Items to confine the ancient Shadow Games magic), Yozakura Quartet (the seven pillars called Nanagou that serves as a barrier to protect the town), Dragonball Z (the seven mystical Dragon Balls to summon a wish granting dragon), Pretty Cure (the seven Prism Stones to restore the damage done at the Garden of Light), Grander Musashi RV (seven Legenders believed to grant ultimate power to change the world), Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn (the seven Vongola Rings each with powers attributed to the phenomena of the sky), Slayers (the Ruby-Eye of the powerful evil ruler Shabranigdu was split into seven pieces and buried in human souls), Deltora Quest (return the seven gems to save the land), Ragnarok The Animation (the Seven Crystals representing the seven ambitions), Night Wizard (Seven Fortress, Seven Jewels, Seven Attributes of Virtue), Katanagatari (the seven technique moves called Shichika Hachiretsu) and Power Stone (seven Power Stones with mystical powers). And if you watch Nana, which name also means seven in Japanese, there are lots of number seven recurrences in this anime.
 
I guess I should end my blog now as I have overstepped and provided more than enough examples of this number instead of restricting it to just seven. Even if I did that, it wouldn’t do much justice because there are quite a number of them as you have seen above. Depending on the genre of the anime, those groups that stick together are mainly from the drama and romantic genre while those usually from the action and shonen genre have their numbers decreased. Seven may not be my new favourite number anytime soon but if it isn’t seven for this blog, it could have been any other number.

Black Cat

May 15, 2010

If you are the superstitious kind, you’ll know you’ll be in for a lot of trouble when a Black Cat crosses your path. And I’m not referring to the little purring feline. How does a highly skilled and deadly assassin sound? Faster than a speeding bullet, more agile than a cat, folks if you ever cross path with Train Heartnet, you’re definitely a goner. He is so swift in executing his mission that it is as though time stood still when he comes to ‘deliver bad luck’ to his victims.
 
In this fictional world, Chronos, a large organization rules part of the world in much secrecy and thus maintaining its so called world peace. If this organization falls into the wrong hands, you’ll know what kind of disaster to expect. In order for them to efficiently carry out their goal, serving under them are 13 elite assassins, Chronos Numbers, each bearing a roman numeral somewhere on their body and each been given a special and unique weapon made out of a special metal, Orichalcum (I guess an excuse for blowing up and super destructive exaggerated effects). Train is part of the Chronos Numbers and with his number XIII and nickname, Black Cat, you don’t want to mess with this guy wielding a special tough pistol, Hades.
 
I’m still confused about the official number of episodes. Okay, maybe I should put in a little more effort in my research but I was lazy :(. Some sites listed as 23 but others 24 number of episodes. For some reason, one of the episodes (episode 15) was not broadcasted on the Japanese television and it was released as part of the DVD. However the Animax channel (for South East Asia) broadcasted all 24 episodes, albeit much later after the anime ends. Therefore the confusion is the numbering of the episodes. For me, I watched the episode numbers based on the 23 episodes. So when I watched the ‘extra’ episode, I kinda noticed it bears the same number. So there are 2 episode 15?
 
Okay, back to the story. In episode 1, Train has been sent on yet another mission to assassinate a soon to be elected governor, Lib Tyrant. With that kind of name, it’s not hard to guess he’s a crook like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What’s with these people voting in an ex-criminal? Sven Vollfied, a sweeper (term for bounty hunter) is also targeting the same person. This so called gentleman is always poor and you got to pity him each time he has no money to pay for his meals. Put it on his tab, will ya’? That’s why he needs the money in his sweeper job but does he succeed? If he did, he wouldn’t be worrying about his next meal. So I guess this Lib guy is his big break and attends his welcoming party. Now, the reason why Sven wears an eye-patch is because to hide his Vision Eye. With this eye, he can look 5 minutes into the future though it drains lots of energy. Accidentally, he has a glimpse will be assassinated by Train by that time and goes to try stop the assassination. Hmm… Love his handy suitcase. All those weird contraptions in it. Unfortunately, Sven can’t change fate because Train sneaks in so fast and shoots Lib right when he was about to give his speech. Lib’s dead. Train’s gone. Gone with the wind. Nobody even saw what happened. One of Lib’s bodyguards manage to track Train and put a scratch on his face but Train wounds him and lets him live. However, an obsessed fan of Train and another assassin under Chronos, Creed Diskenth, kills the bodyguard for scarring his beloved Train’s face. Is this guy gay or what? Later on the rooftop, a confused Train remembers the time his parents were killed when the humming of a sweeper girl in yukata, Saya Minatsuki, attracts his attention.
 
Some may call it a date because Train and Saya frequent each other in episode 2. Saya’s the sporting and bubbly kind of girl so it’s not too hard to see why Train is ‘attracted’ to her though he doesn’t show any emotions. Elsewhere, Sven needs to get another job since he blew the last one or else he won’t have anything to eat. Lady luck shines on him as a lady named Elena hires him to rescue her kidnapped sister Eve from a ruthless weapons dealer named Torneo Ludman. Sven recognizes Eve as one of the guests at Lib’s party. Back at Train and Saya, the latter takes up a sweeper job to capture a criminal, Preeta Ghoul, who has uncanny powers to melt stuff he touches. Since this serial mad killer targets only girls, you bet Saya is going to arrest this guy before anymore ladies gets murdered. Oh, did I mention the bounty reward is 180,000 Gold? Saya arrives at Preeta Ghoul’s hideout and gets cornered. Thankfully, Train arrives in time to save her and allows Saya to defeat him before being brought to custody. Back at the rooftop, confused Train questions why she didn’t kill him. Her answer is simple: She didn’t want to. When Train goes back to headquarters, he is been given orders by Chronos Number II’s second in command, Belze Rochefort, to assassinate Eve.
 
Sven and Elena arrive at Torneo’s hideout to rescue Eve in episode 3. However somebody else beats them because Torneo’s bodyguards are knocked out. It is Train and he is just one trigger away from assassinating Eve. Sven pleads to let him spare her life but by this time, Torneo comes in with more men so Sven distracts them and all make their escape, leaving Eve behind. Back in a room, Sven confronts Elena and knows Eve is not her sister and that Elena’s true identity is Rinslet Walker, a super thief. The reason why Rinslet wants Eve is because Eve is some sort of a genetically engineered biological weapon made from nano-technologies. She intends to steal the data and sell them. It’s all about money, eh? A walk in the park has Sven very surprised. Isn’t that Eve? Yeah, she escaped from Torneo’s mansion. How? Dunno. Can’t remember. Sven takes this opportunity to befriend and get to know more about Eve and she’s just like a lost child learning new things for the first time about her surroundings. Unfortunately their bonding is cut short when Torneo’s men show up and kidnap her again. Sven decides to go rescue her. Elsewhere, Creed meets Train about Eve’s case so the latter has made up his mind to ambush Torneo’s hideout.
 
After that chaotic cat diversion in the beginning of episode 4, Sven and Rinslet break into Torneo’s mansion. Rinslet goes in search for the data (she found some horrible experiments of turning things into monsters in some lab using nano-technology) while Sven notices Train is here too and goes after him. This time, Sven reaches Eve’s room first but Torneo’s men soon gather and capture him along with Train. A disc containing controlling nanomachines is being inserted into Eve (after she refuses Torneo’s orders and decides to follow Sven) so she goes berserk and turns into a killing machine. Outside, Eve’s body materializes into sharp and deadly weapons as she and Train battle. During the fight, Sven got his stabbed by Eve in his attempt to remove the disc. In the aftermath, Train burns down Torneo’s entire mansion and that mad guy perishes with it. While Sven, Rinslet and Eve are resting, Train shows up to finish his job. However, remembering Saya’s words and way of life, he puts away his gun and walks off. Back at the rooftop, yet another visit from Saya, I guess she gets a pleasant surprise because for the first time, Train smiles.
 
Would Chronos accept Train’s mission as finished in episode 5 even though Torneo’s mansion was destroyed but Eve escaped? They want him to resume his mission to find and assassinate Eve. Because of that, Train decides to leave Chronos and live a free life of being a sweeper (I guess thanks to lots of ‘brainwashing’ from Saya). Can he do that? Can he just leave? Of course not. So Creed volunteers to persuade Train back. Creed knows talk isn’t going to make him rejoin so requests a duel. He fights him but loses. But I guess this is part of Creed’s plan to have Train join him in an organization much powerful than Chronos, The Apostle of the Stars, so that they both can make their ideal world. Yeah, one of those ideologies again. They get to choose who lives and who dies. Of course, Train refuses. Seeing this would happen, Chronos send their men to kill them but Creed mercilessly disposes them off. Train meets Saya back at the rooftop. He hands over his Hades for her safekeeping and thanks her for helping him made up his mind to leave Chronos. From afar, Creed is not too happy that there is someone Train has eyes for. I guess this confirms it that Creed is gay. Later Creed tries to persuade Train to join his group once more but this time Chronos Number I and Numbers’ leader, Sephiria Arks, appears and warns Train this is the last chance she is giving him to rejoin Chronos or else. You know how stubborn cats are, right? No. No choice, Sephiria draws her sword, Christ, and attacks Train.
 
While Creed takes on the other Chronos men in episode 6, Sephiria and Train’s battle ends in the favour of the former since the latter doesn’t have his Hades with him. Train questions her about Chronos and she has faith in the organization will bring true freedom to the people. She’d better be right. They are interrupted when one of Creed’s men, Shiki (some insect user also using the forbidden powers of Tao) attacks. This allows Train to escape and keep Sephiria busy. Train returns to his room where he meets Saya. She returns his Hades and from outside, Creed is like a jealous kid watching from afar but a much dangerous one as he plans to finish off that witch. Saya plans to have a date and watch the fireworks with Train the following night. However Creed leaves a note of his intentions as Train rushes to the scene. Unfortunately by the time he arrives, Creed has slashed and killed Saya. He hopes this would free Train from the witch’s spell and open his eyes to join his group. But this enrages Train even more as in his fury attacks Creed. He likes those cold assassin eyes of Train? Poor Saya had to die in the hands of some gay guy… I guess the heavy fireworks drown out the battle or else it could’ve been a major distraction.
 
Train is still engaged in a fight with Creed in episode 7. Creed loves the way Train is back to his old self. Sven and Eve are watching the fireworks nearby and she notices gunshot sounds. A large explosion soon follows and the next thing Train knows, he is in the care of Sven and Eve. It’s understandable he’s cold attitude is due to the death of Saya and that he’s with target he was once assigned to assassinate. Plus, Eve doesn’t trust Train because he tried to kill her. Vice versa. Speaking of which, Chronos assigns Chronos Number VII, Jenos Hazard to assassinate Eve. He finds Eve wandering outside the hut (after another spat with Train about being assassins and the likes). Jenos attacks Eve with his Excelion (gloves with strings) but before he could finish her, Train comes to Eve’s defence and knocks the ladies’ man out. Actually he faked his defeat to avoid heavy damage. When Sven finds out about this, it’s time to move again unless you want Chronos to come knocking on your door every now and then. Train joins them as wandering sweepers and notice how he is more open and well erm, funny? Not the serious and cold assassin he once used to be anymore.
 
As the trio roll into a new town for another sweeper job in episode 8, to apprehend one of the few escape convicts, Igor Planter, Rinslet comes into contact with Jenos. He hires her into getting some kind of drink, Shinkitou, which is believed to give users the forbidden power of Tao. Furthermore, the drink is believed to be handed to criminals by a long-haired blonde man in shades wearing a tall hat, Charden Flamberg (somehow he reminds me of the late John Lennon) and the spunky high school girl, Kyouko Kirisaki. Would you turn down an offer which rewards you 10 million Gold with all expenses paid? So fate has Rinslet reunite with the trio and yeah, they’re searching for Igor since it is believed he was given Shinkitou. Seeing this as a competition, Eve and Train race each other to see who can apprehend Igor first. Eve finds Igor first in his greenhouse. Seems he has given up his criminal ways and plans to live his peaceful gardening life. Until Eve accidentally steps on one of his plants, Igor gets upset and like Incredible Hulk, the powers of the drink transforms him into a super strength beast. For the second time, Train arrives in time to save Eve. Igor takes another sip of Shinkitou to control his garden and gain further powers. In the end, the powers are too much for Igor to handle as he turns into a giant plant. And the gang didn’t get the reward money because Igor is no longer human. Bummer.
 
Sven and co agree to help Rinslet track another criminal who attacks women and children, Gyanza. So in episode 9, it seems Gyanza is one of those escaped convicts and been given Shinkitou. Also, he has a grudge against Sven when he arrested him 7 years ago when he was an agent of International Bureau of Investigation. Train is alone and comes into contact with Kyouko. She instantly falls in love with him. Note how she tries to get lovey-dovey with him but somehow he avoids her advances. So funny lah. Kyouko reunites with Charden to find Gyanza and recruit him but encounter his underlings. One of them drank Shinkitou and died (the drink either gives you super powers or kills you) so the others attacked but were easily defeated. Back at the heroes, Sven cross-dresses as a female to lure Gyanza. However Gyanza is arguing with Kyouko about joining their group after obtaining power. And since she’s a girl, well, he attacks her. Then herald Kyouko’s beloved hero, Train, to the rescue. With the help of Sven’s Vision Eye, Train defeats Gyanza by shooting at his weak point. Gyanza is killed with the after effects of Shinkitou. Charden arrives and introduces himself and Kyouko as part of the Apostle of the Stars. Train is not happy when he hears Creed’s name. And I guess since Creed and his gang are proving to be a major threat to Chronos, bringing them down is their new top priority and Eve’s assassination takes a back seat.
 
Conveniently before Charden and Kyouko escapes via helicopter pick up in episode 10, he tells Train he can meet Creed in Sangeles City in 3 days time. What’s happening there? Every high level politician is there for some high level meeting and The Apostle of the Stars will use it to launch their attack and further their agenda. And a hell of a grand entrance they sure make, exploding buildings and making the security forces look like wimps. Not to mention taking over the controls of the broadcast. And yeah, we’re introduced to the other members as well. Durham Glaster (the gunman), Leon Elliot (Tao powers to control wind), Maro (Tao powers to control gravity), a scientist whom I shall call Doctor, and a famous actress turned to the dark side Echidna Parass (Tao power to create ‘gates’ which opens portals to several places). Hmm… Creed’s new outfit somehow reminds me of Busou Renkin’s Papilion, though it may not look the same. Despite numerous warnings from Sven not to let Creed get into his head, Train rushes to confront Creed. He’s happy Train is here and offers him to join once more. You know the answer. He’s here to avenge Saya’s death. He attacks but is pinned down. Durham fires a shot at Train but Sven uses his body to block. Though he’s injured, but not serious. Train is upset once more and Creed isn’t pleased that Durham tried to shoot his object of affection. I guess Creed mentions he was just happy to see him for now and disappears with the rest of his group, though he notes filth has grown around him once more (after getting rid of Saya, I can see why). While recuperating, Train learns how Sven’s partner died while trying to protect him and that’s when he got his Vision Eye. I guess they can’t stay mad at each other and are back to being friends. After another childish fight, that is. Ah, back to normal.
 
Arriving in another town in episode 11, the gang are being told that their sweeper job of their next target has been captured by Black Cat. An imposter? Damn right. Some chubby guy named Woodney is going around with his fake VIII mark proclaiming to be the feared Chronos assassin. I guess being an imposter has its advantage but how long can he keep this up? Furthermore, he bumps into Eve and proclaims himself as the Black Cat. Perhaps Eve is just going with the flow, eh? Of course some criminals challenge him to a duel and without Eve’s discreet help, he could’ve lost. Durham, not pleased with why Creed intends to have Train join the group as he sees himself fit to be the only gunman of the pack, goes in search of Train. He sees Eve in a cafe and demands that she tell about Train’s whereabouts. Woodney of course not knowing the true story continues his impersonating though he is shaking with fear despite his heroic act to protect Eve. So happen, Train was passing by outside and upon sighting him, Durham instantly attacks the real Black Cat. Of course Train still has got his deadly touch and shows Durham why he is no match for him and the only opponent for him is Creed. Not even if Durham unleashes his secret weapon, he still gets defeated. With that, the gang takes Durham with them hoping he will reveal Creed’s hideout and at the same time, Woodney joins the gang while regarding Train as his master-cum-brother.
 
It seems Train is the impatient cat he is (can you blame him for having recurring nightmares of Saya?). While the rest are sleeping, in episode 12, Train has already interrogated Durham about Creed’s whereabouts and made a dashing start there. By the time the rest finds out, it’s already sunrise and they need to get there quick. Meanwhile, Jenos forms Cerebos, Chronos Numbers’ assassination squad, also comprising of Chronos Number V, Naizer Bruckheimer and Chronos Number XI, Beluga J Heard, to track and destroy Creed and his group. They arrive and encounter Leon, Maro and Kyouko as their first obstacle. Kyouko disappointed that it isn’t her beloved Train. Anyway Cerebos wins and proceeds. Train too has arrived and confronts Creed, who has been waiting for him. He’s so obsessed about that guy that he’d cut off anyone, friend of foe for intruding their personal exclusive time and space. He even persuades Train to shoot him! Plus, he has got Train’s pals captured. Creed destroys part of the castle so that nobody could interfere with them. As the blocks come crumbling down, Train dives down to save his friends. This devastates Creed because he’s thinking Train abandoned him to save his pals. Haha. Beluga and Naizer has cornered Creed as the former fires his bazooka letting off a big explosion. Boom! Is Creed dead? Don’t count on it.
 
Durham comes back to the Apostle of the Stars in episode 13 and faces Creed’s wrath. In short, Creed kills that trash. So much for appearing anymore. Charden isn’t pleased on how Creed is handling things by killing his comrades easily so he and Kyouko decides to leave The Apostle of the Stars (Kyouko of course for the love of you know who lah). With Kyouko back being a normal high school student, she decides on what to get Train for Valentine’s Day. Chocolates for starters? Doctor on the other hand knows the defection of the duo but plans to test some invention of his (a bullet which alters a person’s DNA and causing effects unknown) targeting Kyouko as a guinea-pig. Kyouko finds Train to give her chocolates at a sweeper’s bar. But some unruly big size sweeper bumps into her and destroys her chocolates. All her hard work. Plus, he is going to beat her up! But Kyouko is no pushover and uses her Tao powers of fire to destroy the entire place. Though he manages to taste her burnt chocolates, he makes her promise not to use her Tao powers since she is no longer associated with The Apostle of the Stars. I guess being in love, she agrees wholeheartedly. Doctor shows up and fires a shot at Kyouko but Train gets hit instead. Doctor is interested to see what happens to him so he leaves without putting up much of a fight. Back in the room, everyone is surprised that Train has turned into a kid!
 
Yeah so, Kyouko is like having fun going out with little Train in episode 14. On an outing with Eve, they meet a bunch of orphan kids including Tim and Layla, living in a rundown bus. The kids are having a hard time with the adults who want to shoo them out so they can take their land and build something on it and make profit. As usual, Train saves them so Tim requests his help in keeping the baddies away. Train remembers the time he was being brought up by a ruthless assassin, Zagine, after his parents died and set his sights in killing him. But he died before he could achieve his goal and was left alone. Thus Train rejects Tim’s proposal and continues to play with the other kids. Eve talks to Layla and she finds out that their leader went missing some time ago and resembles a lot like Leon. That night, the bad guys come to harass the kids. Tim goes to fight them alone but is no match. Till Train helps out and easily defeats the men twice his size. He passes Tim Hades and tells him the final decision is his. Tim decides not to shoot them but knocks them out instead. See people, killing causes a never-ending cycle of deaths. Tim understood that and was given the change to stop it. With the baddies leaving for good, the kids can continue to live in peace. Train goes back to the rest and after a bath, he returns to his normal self. So is it the bath that returns him to normal or the effects of the invention wore off?
 
Some dubbed this episode 15.5. This episode is the one mentioned earlier which wasn’t aired over the Japanese airwaves. The scene takes place shortly after the ambush on Creed’s hideout, which I also think Naizer and Beluga died in their failed attempt to stop Creed to allow Jenos to escape. In this episode , Sephiria takes a short leave to confront Train and make certain about his decision to leave Chronos and become a sweeper. She even intends to kill him if his answer isn’t satisfactory. During that time, Charden, acting on his own, attacks Sephiria since he has a grudge against Chronos. A three way battle ensues but in the end, Train sticks steadfast to his beliefs and prevents them both from killing each other. Charden escapes wounded though enlightened by Train’s beliefs and thinking. Since Sephiria has come to respect Train’s decision, she gives him a special Orichalcum bullet to use whenever in need. When Sephiria comes back, she appoints a new Chronos Number X, Lin Xiao Li, as replacement of a former Chronos Number killed by Creed some time ago.
 
I’m going with the 23 episode chronological order so in this episode 15, Creed’s bounty is 3 million Gold. Sven desperately tries to prevent Train from seeing this. He learns that because of the high amount, some guy is proposing a Sweeper Alliance to take down Creed. Sven goes to the meeting place to see other sweepers planning to join the group. But the guy claiming to know Creed’s new hideout will only reveal it if they join. Meanwhile, Woodney informs Train about a job: To find a local wealthy madam’s lost lizard pet. Everyone in town seems to fear her pet, though. The gang searches for the lizard right in the sewers and meets a lost sweeper on his way to the Sweeper Alliance meeting, River Zastory. Soon, they come to realize the pet lizard has grown into some sort of T-Rex and it’s hungry for meat! Better run for your lives! The chase has them popping up where the Sweeper Alliance is having their meeting. With their combined skills, everyone subdue the dinosaur. The madam is pleased with her pet returned and rewards them. However since there are too many sweepers involved, everyone is fighting for a piece of their reward share. That night when Train learns of Creed’s whereabouts, Kraken Island, he once again heads off alone.
 
Train’s journey has him ended up in a misty mountain in episode 16. He meets a lone woman staying by herself in mysterious circumstances. She looks so much like Saya and her name even close, Saki. While Train is in the care of Saki, he learns she is protecting something important but apart from that she is not willing to tell him more. I guess he can’t stand Saki fighting her lone war anymore even though he’s been hearing gunfights night after night. Train finally helps out and disposes some mecha that Saki has been fighting ever since. The person controlling the mecha tells Train that Saki is harbouring something evil and must be rid off. Soon Train finds out that Saki is protecting an infant believed to be cursed and will bring disaster. When the baby is to be executed, Saki and her other comrades ran away and lived here ever since. Slowly her comrades died out and she’s the only person left. Train remembers Saya’s words and so he tells her to benefit of fighting along with friends. I guess he doesn’t want to get involved any more in somebody else’s fight so he leaves (in a way this episode’s rush ending left me unsatisified). He meets Sven and co as they continue their journey together.
 
While Doctor is implanting his nano-technology on Creed is satisfied with the progress, in episode 17, everyone including the Sweeper Alliance prepare to make sail for Kraken Island. But nobody is willing to give them a ride as the island is filled with fearful rumours. Train knows the leader of the alliance is putting up a disguise. So he reveals his true identity and he is no other than Lin. Because of that, the members of the Sweeper Alliance think of leaving as they don’t want to work for Chronos since Lin reveals this is part of Chronos plan to use the Sweeper Alliance as decoys while they attack. Lin and Train chat about the latter’s choice to leave Chronos and become a sweeper. Suddenly monsters start appearing all over the place so Train and the rest including the Sweeper Alliance go into action in subduing the creatures. Seems these monsters are a combination between Tao powers and nano-technology. Though not perfect yet, it enables the heroes to destroy them. Lin watches the sweepers in action and understands their way of life. In the end, they agree to follow Lin to Kraken Island. As everyone sails in a boat, Echidna comes out of her gate portal and tosses a bomb into the deck. Boom! I hope everyone can swim.
 
Sephiria is leading the Chronos Numbers on an assault on Kraken Island in episode 18. Thankfully the bomb didn’t kill everyone onboard the boat. But as a result, they got separated when they are washed ashore the island. Eve battles Leon in a power battle and as much as Leon believed joining the Apostle of the Stars was the only way out, he gets defeated and Eve makes him realizes who his real friends are. Since Leon lost, I guess it was convenient of Creed to forget who he is. Did he even know he existed? Hmm… He must be busy composing a song for himself and Train. Elsewhere, Sven takes on re-emerged Preeta Ghoul who is obsessed on finding Saya and getting his revenge. As expected, Sven wins. Also, Chronos Number X, David Pepper, faces Maro but in the end, they both killed each other. Doctor also unleashes improved versions of his monsters and in addition to the guards, the rest have their hands full with them. Sephiria has arrived in Creed’s room. She draws Christ but Echidna stands in her way.
 
While Creed is busy playing his piano in episode 19, Echidna fights with Sephiria to keep the latter at bay and from touching Creed. But when Sephiria finally succeeds in slashing him, to her surprise, Creed’s body regenerates and quickly heals all wounds. Creed uses his upgraded sword and wounds Sephiria. Train finally arrives in the room. But to Creed’s disappointment, he sees a shadow of Saya in him. He is saddened that at this rate Train will never join him (he realized that now?) so after destroying all his art pieces of Train (creepy…), Creed is going to kill Train with his hands. He goes crazy and berserk as his sword fuses with his body and turns into a monster. With Sephiria’s advice, Train uses the single special Orichalcum bullet and shoots through his sword, leaving Creed’s body exposed. Sven, Eve and the other Chronos Numbers arrive to destroy the nanomachines in his body and return that insane guy back to normal (a flashback how Creed was abused as a kid. No wonder he grows up to be a mad person). Sephiria learns Train doesn’t intend to kill Creed but apprehend him as a sweeper. But Echidna takes Creed with her and leaves. She didn’t stop the heroes for she fears he might turn into someone who is out of her reach (is she in love with him?). Is Train okay with that? Sure, as long as he lives a life of regret. While the heroes are celebrating, Sephiria learns another shocking news. Some of the Chronos Numbers, led by Chronos Number XII, Mason Ordrosso, have defected and call themselves Zero Numbers along with the remaining The Apostle of the Stars, Shiki and Doctor. Oh uh. This is what happens when somebody with self interests initiates his big time plans.
 
Train and the rest go back to the mainland to celebrate in episode 20. Everything is back to normal. But a crisis is looming back at Chronos headquarters. Looks like the monsters attack the base and killed its leaders! That easily to dispose off, eh? Furthermore, the remaining Chronos Numbers left are Sephiria, Belze, Jenos, Lin and Chronos Number VI, Anubis (a talking wolf). Mason orders Doctor to capture Eve as she is instrumental in his Eden Project. Sven and Eve got into an argument because the guy wants to put her in a boarding school thinking about her future. But Eve is unhappy that he doesn’t understand her because she wants to follow him around being a sweeper. Like a little kid, Eve rushes out but was caught by Doctor using a disc to control her. When Train and Sven find out about Eve’s case, they rush to rescue her. Too late, Mason and his gang are leaving. And since Eve is under their control, she attacks them to allow Mason and co to leave unharmed.
 
In episode 21, while the gang are planning their rescue when Rinslet brings a person looking so much like Eve. Like as though she’s Eve’s grownup version. She is Tearju Lunatique (with that kind of name, no wonder she was hospitalized) and reveals about Eden Project. She and Doctor were once colleagues but behind his smiling face hides an ulterior motive. Eve being an ultimate biological weapon was just a facade and her real purpose is to bring world peace. That’s a good thing right? Not when everyone is like robots devoid of emotions whatsoever. In other words, this one Eve activates a machine, this so called paradise marks the end of the world as we know as people will be controlled. Elsewhere, Train meets the remaining Chronos Numbers and suggests that they work together. Not that both sides want each other side since it’s personal. Sephiria agrees. Meanwhile Doctor prepares to initiate Eden Project as Eve finds herself in a dream world. She meets a young boy Adam who seems to be ‘poisoning’ her mind with the so called paradise. In the bible, Eve gave Adam to eat the forbidden apple fruit and as a result God banished them to Earth. In this show, Adam gave Eve to eat the apple and as a result, Eden Project is activated and a large mothership starts sucking up humans. What a reversal of roles. Our heroes, Train, Sven, Rinslet, Chronos Numbers and even the Sweeper Alliance (maybe I should put Woodney’s name too since he’s joining the fray) assemble as they race against time to stop Mason and his plans. Hey, somebody’s got to do it even if it’s a non-paying job.
 
The mothership is consuming more and more people in episode 22. Including Tim. Where did Eve learn to do such horrible things? Ah, the TV. Now we know the real root of evil. Adam further poison her mind by making her attack ‘serpents’, which in reality are Chronos army attacking the mothership but failed and perish like ants. So more ex-foes join the alliance which includes Leon, Charden and Kyouko. Yay. Glad to see that spunky girl back. All she can think of his her Train? There’s something more important to do now. Like saving the world for instance. Because Eve’s conscience isn’t totally cut off (time limit is till the next big city), the gang plan to distract and ground the mothership in a nearby chasm and invade the ship via fireworks (Eve did show interest for it many episodes back). Leon brings back the pyrotechnic equipments in time and everyone play their part to successfully ground the mothership while Adam tries to direct confused Eve to his way. It’s time for the final showdown as they get onboard. Train takes the lead while Sephiria and her Chronos Numbers take on the defected Zero Numbers.
 
It’s do-or-die in episode 23. Our heroes have short flashbacks to tell us why all the need to defeat the villains and move forward with their so called justice and principles. I’m not sure why Doctor is activating the programme for Eden Project by playing billiards but thankfully Train and the rest shows up. Is he outnumbered? Well, because the baddies have nano-technologies fused in their bodies, they resurrect at every lethal blow taken. Like immortals, eh? So round 2 of fighting while they buy time for Train and Sven to rescue Eve at the top. Train comes face to face with Mason and we hear his story of how he got this idea of his 20 years ago while Chronos was fighting the Tao. Plus, everything up to now was Mason’s plan. From the destruction of Torneo’s lab to the abduction of Eve so Sven could be a father figure to her and oh yes, The Apostle of the Stars too. Some mastermind he is. And he gets a pleasant surprise too. Yup, Creed appears and he is on Train’s side this time, facing off with Mason. Sven climbs and finds Eve within the receptacle but can’t reach to destroy it. As for Train, he is having visions of Zagine. Though beaten badly at first, Train soon realizes all this is an illusion of Project Eden and knows the fake Zagine is just spewing lies unlike the ‘fun’ he has been through with his freedom. He fires a shot through Zagine and destroys the receptacle. The baddies, whose mind and body are connected to it, perishes along. Saves lots of trouble to show them being killed off one by one. In the aftermath, everyone sucked up by the mothership is alive and rescued. Sven and Eve travel together being sweepers (Eve cut her hair! Note: I prefer her with long hair), there is a hint that Rinslet and Jenos going steady, Creed and Echidna having their peaceful countryside life, the remaining Chronos Numbers meet (but for what I don’t know since the whole organization was destroyed), the rest of them going back to their normal lives and Train travelling alone by himself.
 
After watching the series I did a little reading up myself and found out that the anime differs completely from the manga. For instance, Mason replaced Creed as the main antagonist towards the end of the anime but in the manga he made his appearance in the final few chapters to help defeat Creed and his Apostle of the Stars. Plus, some of the Chronos Numbers have never made their appearance in the manga and only exclusively appeared in the anime. Then there are some Apostle of the Stars members that appear in the manga but completely left out of the anime. Yeah I guess this is one of those series which strayed from the original manga works but if you’re the kind of person like me who does not read, then the totally different ending wouldn’t pretty much matter. So my guess is that if they ever want to make another season, they’ll have to do a remake or create a new story from where they left off (by the way, the manga has already ended before the anime was produced).
 
I wouldn’t say the ending for the anime is terrible but I can’t really say I’m that satisfied either. I felt that it was a little rushed. I mean there were too many characters and I guess since they can’t cram in all the fights of everyone into a single episode, it felt like it was fast and over with it. Considering the ‘grand’ introduction of Creed and his Apostle of the Stars at Sangeles City, I must say that as the series progresses, they went out on a whimper, even if they were plans from Mason. They’ve got members killed, quit and defected which pretty leaves the group much in shambles in the end. Probably the longest fight from the group was probably Leon and Eve’s. Overall, the fights and action sequences in the series are quite okay with its fast pace and doesn’t drag on for several episodes like you know which series lah. So if you like some gun fights and a couple of fast action, this show may suit your taste.
 
On a trivial note, in initial episodes I noticed that each new town that Sven enters and the bar he patrons, there will always be that same waitress. Is she job hopping in different place? It’s like fate, eh? Too bad that guy is so poor so she’ll always have to put it on his tabs. I wonder what happened to her half way. Maybe she got a new job? Then there is that white smirking cat sometimes seen here and there (non serious moments, that is). Probably it’s like Yin and Yang. Providing a balance between the Black Cat that is Train, you know. In addition, it is really cute to see the sponsor screen as all of the characters in the series will have their turn have their face being replaced of that chibi white cat. Funny. Each of the episode title has the word cat in it to reflect the mood or actions of the Black Cat even if that particular episode doesn’t have Train pretty much in focus. So in addition to 9 lives, cats also have 24 moods and actions (according to this series of course).
 
My favourite character is Kyouko (believe it!). I love her spunky character and all she could ever think about is her beloved Train. I wished she had more screen time because after she quit the group and went back to her normal school life, it’s like "Oh dear, it’s so less energetic and funny without that girl" feeling. At least to me. It was pretty funny to see her offering herself or trying to kiss Train! Unfortunately her first kiss and subsequent ones are always stolen but that smirking white cat. Nope, she didn’t kiss Black Cat. Too bad then. Creed is also an ‘interesting’ character in his own way because of his obsession for Train. His voice actor, Shinichiro Miki (Urahara of Bleach), perfectly portrays the crazy gay guy precisely downright to his maniacal laughter. I have to tell you he is damn convincing (not to mention creepy) when he laughs! The spunky feel of Chiemi Chiba as Kyouko (Mio in To Love-Ru) is also a reason why I liked her character. Among the cast casts include Takashi Kondo as Train (Hibari in Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn), Keiji Fujiwara as Sven (Hughes in Fullmetal Alchemist), Misato Fukuen as Eve (Kurumu in Rosario To Vampire), Yukana as Rinslet (Teletha in Full Metal Panic), Takahiro Sakurai as Jenos (Kamiyama in Cromartie High School), Kikuko Inoue as Sephiria (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama) and Megumi Toyoguchi as Saya (Meg in Bakuretsu Tenshi).
 
The opening by Yoriko, Daia No Hana resembles more like an anime pop rock outfit and though the first ending piece, Namidaboshi by PUPPYPET is an upbeat piece, I find it a little odd for such a song as its ending. Besides, the animation has Eve doing a puppet play of cat faces Sven and Train in a little bout of their own. Cute or what? For the second ending theme, Kutsuzure by Ryoji Matsuda, it totally turns into a very slow romantic ballad with a hint of nostalgia. Though there are a range of background music (the best ones are of course those action themed pieces), the one I want to point out which had my eyebrows raised was the one with the opera singer. I somehow feel the song is a little out of place usually played during those snippets of action sequences. You know opera singers have a loud voice so it gets a little loud at times. And don’t mention the ‘cacophony’ when they hit the high note!
 
So without the organization of Chronos, I wonder how the world will fare now. I mean after being imprinted how this organization is such an important all-powerful body whereby nobody challenges its authority but it easily got destroyed and even its leaders killed. What does that tell you about them? Not to mention members of the highly revered Chronos Numbers reducing in numbers starting from Train’s departure to member’s death to ultimate defection. And Sephiria at one point even believed Chronos Numbers shouldn’t have feelings and must obey all orders from them without question in order to maintain world order. See what happened? I guess the ‘feelings’ of world domination got to somebody, eh? It was a good thing Train changed after discovering true freedom before Saya’s untimely death. From a cold heartless killer to a carefree sweeper. Not bad of a change, I’d say. I thought that girl would make a surprise revival at the end seeing her body was never found. Ah well, she’ll live on in Train’s memories and heart. So keep in mind the next time a black cat crosses your path, it may not be all bad luck but a sign of hope and salvation. I wonder if I can say the same for walking under a ladder or a broken mirror.
 

Black Cat

Did her secret get found out by the mass public? Was that why they made a second season? Well actually, nothing in this sequel that comes close to that so much so the way the storyline was played out here made me forgot that she indeed had a secret to protect from the eyes of the public. Fans of the seemingly attractive and highly perfect high school girl but in actual fact she’s an otaku, sure did have their wish come true in the sequel Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu: Purezza. At first, I thought what on Earth does Purezza mean? I thought it was some kind of pretzels or pizza or a combination of both. Then I thought based on a widely believed but false assumption, it was stem from the English word "Please". Uh… Of course at the end of it all, I came to discover it is an Italian word which means ‘pure’. Just like Haruka herself.
 
For the uninitiated and to keep it simple, Haruka is that said girl and her chance encounter with ordinary boy Yuuto who unwittingly discovered her darkest secret, led from a ‘relying’ friendship to a blossoming relationship that falls short of being an official couple. Of course add in a bunch of odd characters like the busybody little sister and her maids, the over-protective father and very young looking mother, a potential love rival, the very unrefined and drunkard pair in the form of elder sister and homeroom teacher, and a bunch of other guy losers, Haruka and Yuuto’s so called friendship are being put to the test and to me at the end of the first season though they got closer, it was frustrating that they didn’t develop any further from there. But hopefully in this second season, that may change. Hopefully.
 
Those intending to watch this series or for those who have watched the first season, be warned that the fanservice and sexual innuendo levels are raised. I’m not saying that there are full blown nudity but I felt that this season takes a little more ecchi turn. For instance, Yuuto in an ambiguous position that would make the innocent, let’s say, shriek in total horror. Even if it’s not his fault. Then there’s the fanservice part in which viewers get to see the girls in their lingerie. And this isn’t the uncensored version, you know.
 
So back to the storyline, Yuuto at the request from his ever otaku buddy Nobunaga, is watching another shoujo anime called Nocturne Girl’s School Lacrosse Club. Funny thing about this anime is that the characters closely resemble those of Haruka, Mika, Hazuki, Nanami and Shiina. Not to mention their names and voices too (but of course). It’s like some sort of a real life parody, eh? Next day as Haruka and Yuuto go to school together, as usual they attract unwanted and deadly jealous stares from the guys around. Young or old. Too bad losers. Haruka’s sticking with Yuuto. In class, Shiina invites them to a hotspring since she has extra free tickets. Not just a couple of extras, a few extras. So much so those 3 stooges loser boy classmates could even tag along (their names that I don’t bother to remember). If Yuuto thinks he’s going to have a nice train trip alone with Haruka, then think again because Mika can’t resist tagging along with her maids. Seems they really love to watch their relationship development. In addition to the trio, they have an extra member maid tagging along for the rest of the series. She is Alistia Rain AKA Alice and veterans can tell Rie Kugimiya voices this over shy loli. She is so shy that she doesn’t have proper dialogue lines and only sighs and heaves throughout the whole series. What a waste. But Alice is no pushover because if there is any threat or at the command of her higher ups, she goes into threat neutralizing mode, displaying super strength and agility. Don’t mess with this loli. Innocent but dangerous.
 
When they arrive at their destination, guess who is there? Why, it’s Ruko and Yukari sensei. Oh great. That’s what Yuuto needs. Then the usual hotspring fanservice with the girls teasing each other’s bodies while the tempted loser guys could only hear from the other side. Yuuto intends to tell Haruka that her Lacrosse Club are making a special appearance in the area but is whisked away by Mika. They have a plan to have Yuuto and Haruka spend their lovely time at the hotspring. I’m not sure what kind of plan is that because drunken Ruko and Yukari come into the room to see Yuuto being taught to let a maid suck something big and hard (a cucumber for your information). Ruko gets upset and starts cutting down her little brother. Later Yuuto after barely escaping from Ruko’s wrath, soaks in the hotspring alone when Shiina comes in. They chat on stuff and before they know it, the other girls come in so Shiina distracts them while Yuuto makes his escape. The next day, Yuuto manages to speak with Haruka alone on the Lacrosse Club’s event. She is thrilled and agrees to go. Shiina is worried and wonders if Yuuto and Haruka are dating (with the help of the maids, Yuuto and Haruka were separated from the rest). However they need tickets to get in and luckily Nobunaga was just passing there. He gives Yuuto his tickets knowing he is a ‘beginner’ in this area. In the hall, Yuuto notes how the main character of Lacrosse Club sounds so much like Haruka (haha! Of course lah). Haruka thanks Yuuto for these wonderful memories.
 
Back from the trip in episode 2, you’d think Yuuto and Haruka are ready to take their first step into adulthood by suggesting to do ‘that’. So irresistible that Mika and her maids are eavesdropping outside their door with tapping devices. However daddy Gentou just happened to pass by and doesn’t like what he hears so he cuts down the door in his rage only to see them drawing doujinshi. Mummy Akiho isn’t pleased with hubby invading his daughter’s privacy and takes him along for a good lecture. The others? What others? They’re gone by the time. It seems Haruka wants to participate in a doujinshi event via an illustration drawing book of the Lacrosse Club. You know how horrible her drawings, don’t you? I guess Mika was bored watching them draw so she tries a little distraction by showing embarrassing photos of Haruka and herself when they were young. While the duo continue to draw till exhibition day, Shiina is at Yuuto’s doorstep, hoping to ask him out to a movie. Unfortunately it will be the biggest mistake of her life. Since Yuuto is out, Ruko and Yukari invite her in and I guess they start to get horny and molest Shiina! Oh the horror! Haruka and Yuuto meanwhile have set up their booth and line up their finished copies. Initially Haruka feels nervous but gets used to it. The hall is soon crowded with people but nobody seems to be stopping or buying their work. Mika and the maids plan to help out but were being chased out for being mistaken as cosplay performers. As time passes, Haruka’s morale diminishes so Yuuto goes to show Nobunaga Haruka’s work to get his opinion. In the end, Yuuto learns that it isn’t how many copies one will sell, but the heart and soul one has put in. With renewed hope, Yuuto goes back to Haruka and cheers her up as he calls to the crowd to have a look at their work. Haruka joins in and soon they have their first customer. She sold her first copy and this made Haruka very happy so much so she is brought to tears. At the end of the day, though they only managed to sell 3 copies, at least they are happy. And as for Shiina and the perverts, I can’t believe she’s still being molested till sun down! So violated! Such shameless breach of modesty! WTF?! Poor Shiina…
 
In episode 3, Yuuto decides to find a part time job to buy a gift for Haruka after finding out she is doing the same and he somehow ended up working as a butler for a super stinking rich, obnoxious typical tsundere brat named Touka Tennouji. Hey wait a minute. Isn’t she the voice of Rie Kugimiya? Now I know why Alice doesn’t have speeches… Anyway, it is the same stinking attitude which has several butlers of hers lasting for only a day as said by the head butler Mudou Koinugawa. So can Yuuto stand up to her? Hey, he’s faced worse attitudes than her. Her sis and teacher for instance. Besides, Mudou feels Yuuto has the power to change Touka. Touka proceeds to abuse Yuuto for the slightest thing which include calling him Rodriguez, making him do time impossible chores and any other stuff to her fickle whims and fancies. This Touka girl would even drag him after school to be her butler! Because of that, Ruko and Yukari are lifeless without their slave around to cook for them. Serve them right. Then the usual tsundere-ness. She scorns him, dangerous things start to fall on her, he saves her, treat her injuries and probably you can tell she’s starting to have feelings. Yuuto retires to his room only to find the maids waiting there out of ‘concern’ for him. They mention about the inheritance issue of the Tennouji household since the head has recently passed away and Touka is 3rd in line for the inheritance.
 
That night, a blackout occurs so scared Touka goes to Yuuto’s room and makes an excuse to accompany him till the lights come back. They chat as he finds out, she intends to get out of this family but can’t now because she needs its powers for world domination! Seriously?! People, beware of girl in cow pyjamas bent on taking over the world (lol). Suddenly the alarm went off and it seems a couple of intruders have invaded their mansion. They swiftly took out the bodyguards so Mudou hands Yuuto the task of bringing Touka to safety. When they can no longer run, it is revealed the intruders are Ruko and Yukari, who want Yuuto to feed them. WTF?! Wait a minute. A whole bunch of MIBs got beaten and the mansion destroyed by a couple of drunkards?! How useless is that?! The next day, Yuuto gets paid for his job but is only 5 Yen. Well, it seems they have to deduct his pay to repair the damaged security system and the wounded bodyguards. Wait a minute. A couple of drunkards can cause this much damage?! Grateful Touka promises to help him out if there is anything in the future. Yuuto appreciates this so Touka goes back to her tsundere mode.
 
Haruka along with her family and usual maids are having their Christmas party at Yuuto’s home in episode 4. Thankfully the drunkards aren’t home because they’re at some Christmas drinking competition. Everybody beware. Mika shamelessly sits on Yuuto’s lap and since she doesn’t listen to daddy, he falls into despair. He falls even deeper when the girls put on Santarina outfits and when Mika says she hates daddy for being boring. I guess Haruka did try to indicate the same thing but in a less direct and polite manner. Gentou is going to slice Yuuto up but Alice takes care of him. Akiho takes Gentou back so the kids are by themselves. While working in the kitchen, Yuuto collapses due to his part time job fatigue. He wakes up in his room to see the gang around. He is also introduced to another medical maid of the family, Maria Yukinohara. Haruka decides to stay back and take care of Yuuto in bed. As expected, they trip while Haruka tries to feed him. In such an ambiguous position (not to mention the fanservice), would viewers finally see the duo make their first kiss? Unfortunately kiss, interrupted. Mika calls them Yuuto and even has the cheek to say they might be doing lovey-dovey stuff. Well they would if you had not butt in. With that mood ruined, they continue to chat about believing in Santa Claus as Haruka goes prepare Yuuto’s present. No, she’s not going to wrap herself in strings for Yuuto. It’s his lawn decorated with beautiful lights. She also gives him a necklace souvenir which he likes very much. In return, he gives her a ring and puts it on for her. Oddly it started to snow but the duo stay close together watching the beautiful scenery. And I should’ve guessed it that Mika and the maids were the one making the snow from the rooftop.
 
Yuuto must be having some wonderful dream about Haruka in episode 5. But no matter how good he is, the maids wake him up and whisk him away to the International Maid and Butler Union Year End Party hosted by the Nogizaka maids. Well, since he worked as Touka’s butler, I guess he has been registered as one. All the top 10 Nogizaka maids are here as they introduced themselves (dramatic explosion effects included). However Yuuto counts a couple of maids short. The 4th ranked maid, Minamo Kusumoto is busy with stuff with 2nd ranked maid is currently MIA and it is so unspeakable that the mere mention of her would bring horrified faces upon the maids like it’s the end of the world. Perhaps some things are better left unknown. The party starts as Yuuto is left with Alice. Yuuto meets Minamo when Alice’s tiny fumble causes a little commotion. Well, the crowd are pleased to learn she is from the highly respected Nogizaka maid team so Minamo disperses the crowd. During the bingo game, Yuuto notices Alice wanted a frog stuffed toy but she got depressed when she didn’t win. When Yuuto wins his turn, he takes the doll for her instead of the rice cooker he wanted.
 
Remember that Shute jerk from the last season? He’s back and being made a butler to repent his ways. But did he learn from his mistake? Nope. Still high and mighty, arrogant and looking down at the rest. So when Alice accidentally bumps and splashes water onto his suit, the bastard threatens her like even stepping on her doll. Yuuto goes to protect her and even on his knees begs for forgiveness on her behalf. However Shute continues to pour wine over his head and insult them all so Yuuto tells him off that they’re not just servants, but valuable and irreplaceable people. He should be a shame of himself for calling himself a master. Shute isn’t going to take all this and sends his butlers to beat the commoner up but that’s when the Nogizaka maid team steps in. After teaching him a lesson, he still hasn’t learnt. Till he receives a phone call from his dad. He’s not amused and apologized on everyone’s behalf. He was wrong that his useless son would learn his lesson and allows the rest to do whatever they wish. Yeah, payback time. At the end, for the first time, Alice speaks a smatter of Japanese as she thanks Yuuto. The other maids also thank him for standing up for them. They feel happy for they will do their best from now on. Alice along Hazuki and Nanami hug Yuuto in their appreciation. Thankfully, that’s all the appearance Shute will ever make. Good riddance.
 
In episode 6, Haruka learns from Akiho about a legend that if she watches the first sunrise of the new year at Ouse Misaki with the person she truly wants to be and exchange a kiss, they’ll be together forever. Sounds too good to pass up, right? Yeah, the New Year episode with the gang paying the obligatory visit to the shrine and have their fortunes read (funnily, Nobunaga’s fortune are all otaku based like some mangas going to be animated for the year. WTF?!). Guess what? Mika and the maids are there too working at the shrine. But that’s not the only problem Yuuto will face. A group of Haruka fan girls whisk her away to spend some time so Yuuto is left alone. When she finally manages to give those loser girls the slip, Mika and the rest plan to record their lovey-dovey adventures but each time they get thwarted by the crowd (thinking they are miko priestesses) and the police (thinking they are suspicious stalkers). Yuuto and Haruka bump into an obnoxious and rude pink hair girl. She requests them to hide her from her manager, Yayoi Kayahara, who is looking for her. Once she has passed, the girl thanks them and goes off. Kayahara comes into contact with the duo wondering if they had seen the girl. But she soon gets word that she has returned and before she goes back, she hands Haruka her name card as she is seemingly interested in her. Yuuto and Haruka continue their time together. Haruka’s clumsiness has her trip and almost undone her kimono. They go to a nearby shed to fix it as she requests Yuuto to stay by her side for fear of being alone. By this time, viewers should’ve seen this coming. They slip, fall into an ambiguous position, prepare to kiss, something interrupts them, they forget about it and carry on. Geez. Then Haruka brings Yuuto to Ouse Misaki and thanks him for the wonderful and special memories. He too says he always wanted to be beside her. That’s when she kissed him! Oh yeah! Okay, maybe just peck his cheek. Nervous Haruka tells him about the legend as they watch the sunrise together.
 
Shiina steals the spotlight in episode 7. She meets Yuuto on his way to buy groceries for his rowdy ‘bosses’. A freak mishap has Shiina dropping her hairpin into a nearby river. Gentleman Yuuto goes to look for it even if the water’s freezing cold. I can’t believe he took the whole day till it’s sun down! Shiina is so moved that she cried. Yeah, those nearby busybody kids watching tell Yuuto to kiss her and even think he made her cry. Back home, Shiina has one of her usual fantasies of Yuuto so she accidentally hurt her foot. Her pals Ryouko and Mai along with Yuuto pay her a visit (I guess he just wants to get away from the drunkards). Cheeky Ryouko starts raiding Shiina’s room and sifts through her underwear closet since the latter is being reduced to a crippled. Then the gang play Old Maid with Yuuto being the loser so he has to give them all back massage. Probably his practice with the drunkards made him good with it because Mai is really enjoying it so much so she’s making feel good ambiguous sounds. Then it’s Ryouko’s turn so she strips down to her undies for a full massage and what do you know, he exceeds all expectations. Is he that good?! You could say the best hand job in the world. Haha! Finally it’s Shiina’s turn as Ryouko suggests Yuuto to massage at forbidden places. If not for their embarrassment, Ryouko would’ve had her perfect fun. After they leave, Shiina has trouble moving around and drops the kitchen utensils. Oddly, Yuuto was still around so he rushes back in to help her. He even makes her dinner and stays with her. Like I said, it’s better than going back to that useless pair back home. Let them starve to death. Tired Yuuto falls asleep at the table so Shiina takes this chance to cover him warm with a sweater and from this angle, did she kiss him? Morning comes and Shiina’s foot is healed as she is back to her normal happy self.
 
Yuuto has been invited to Mika’s all-girls school in episode 8. Mika’s classmate Eri Tougazaki, Hikari Hazuse and Miu Fujinomiya escort him in. Hmm… It’s like this whole school has never seen a guy before because they’re so stunned to see Yuuto. Likewise, he feels so out of place. It seems Mika has invited Yuuto to her class so that she could brag about him! WTF?! Her classmates are even taking down notes in this so called interview. Then they all get so thrilled when they touch him till he fell off his seat so jealous Mika has to take him away. Mika and her friends then bring Yuuto to their Modern Theatre Arts Culture Research Club room. Then when her pals start to get friendly and even sit on Yuuto’s lap did Mika really start to get jealous. See lah. Her plan to bring him to brag has backfired. She tells them that his lap seat is reserved for her and only her. Then she shows him a play script and acted it out in front of him. Further to asking him for his opinion, they have him help out in their acting too. I supposed he could’ve turned them down if they had not put on those innocent wide puppy eyes begging please. Yuuto acts out with Eri and there is one scene whereby they’re supposed to kiss. Mika realizes this and puts a stop to their act before they really do it. Mika heads out after being called by the vice principal. When she returns, she sees Yuuto waiting alone and the rest have gone home (their plan to set them up?). A teacher is coming and who knows what she’ll do if she sees a boy in an all-girls school. They both hide but when she’s gone, they’re devastated to find that they’ve been locked in. Mika tries to seduce him but that dense guy isn’t getting it so she pushes him over. While on top and spewing those please-look-at-me-too lines, she prepares to kiss him but is interrupted by her maids who came in search for them. How embarrassing. On their way home, she has Yuuto carry her home as she whispers in her ear that she hasn’t given up yet and would make him fall for her inside out. Has her onii-chan complex turned into a lover’s love?
 
After being left out for the last couple of episodes, it’s Haruka’s turn to be back in the limelight in episode 9. Haruka asks Yuuto out for a date. No, not just as company to an anime event. But a real date to a theme park. Finally? The duo meet at the theme park but also see Kayahara and her assistant Nozomi Kobayakawa. They invite them to a photo shoot even nearby before leaving. As usual, busybody Mika calls at the right (or wrong, depends on how you look at it) time, interrupting their date. Yeah, she even has a guide book on dating for Haruka to follow. After sitting all the rides, they go over to the photo shoot as Kayahara is thrilled to see them. When Yuuto first steps up to take his shot, they quickly get over with him and give their extra and undivided attention to Haruka. Talk about substantial difference in treatment. Haruka is nervous so her smile isn’t natural. Kayahara then notices how her smile is most beautiful when she is with Yuuto. At the end of the event, Haruka and Yuuto go ride a Ferris wheel. Okay, expect the usual pattern. The carriage shakes, they both lose their balance, Haruka on top, they get back up, get ready to kiss, Mika’s phone call interrupts. Damn it girl, stop calling at important moments! The next day, Mika comes in and notes that there is trouble. A congratulatory note from Kayahara’s production company that she has passed the audition to be a future model idol. Say what?
 
They go seek an explanation from Kayahara in episode 10 and it seems due to some mix up process, the accidentally entered her. They want her to continue with the audition since it’ll be hard to back out. Haruka agrees since she’ll be taken off after the auditions though there may be some lessons to take. Yuuto stays by Haruka doing her lessons but Kayahara tells him he would distract her and to leave :(. Yuuto bumps into that pink hair girl and her obnoxious attitude is still there. She instantly orders him to do errands and I don’t know why the guy just obliges. Furthermore, she makes him her manager! Why don’t you just refuse, Yuuto? Then he sees a poster resembling her and realizes she’s a pop idol, Milan Himemiya. Another odd part is that when Milan asks Yuuto to pick a dress for her next interview, she strips right in front of him. She’s not embarrassed because she doesn’t see him as a guy! Just like the obedient dog he is, Yuuto becomes a temporarily dedicated manager. They are in a car to send Milan home as Yuuto asks about Kayahara. She says she may look like an innocent and caring person that loves helping others but it is made worse that she herself is believed to be such a person. You know what this means. Yuuto goes back to get Haruka but finds out from Kayahara that she has left.
 
Over the next few days as Haruka continues her lessons, Yuuto also continues his reluctant manager job. Mika and the maids once again are worried that the supposed lovebirds aren’t spending enough time together so Mika plans to give him a practical lesson for Valentine’s Day. Not good. He’s damn right because when Ruko and Yukari come in, they see Yuuto in a position trying to make a loli maid lick a shining upright chocolate banana. Slicing time. It’s amazing how he escaped from that. Next day, Yuuto accompanies Milan to a recording studio for the Lacrosse Club anime. Yuuto calls Nobunaga for advice on what to do. Then some male seiyuu couldn’t show up so the producer has Yuuto stand in. This kid is sure useful. Even if it’s just a single line, everyone is amazed by his talent and give him a round of applause. When Yuuto goes back to get Haruka, he sees Kayahara and Nozomi plotting something sinister. Yup, they have plans to make Haruka into a full fledge idol. Yuuto isn’t happy that they lied but more importantly does Haruka know of this. Kayahara wants Yuuto to do them 2 favours. First, never tell Haruka that this conversation ever takes place. Second, stay away from Haruka. Oh dear. Don’t fall for that lame excuse that it will put pressure on her! Oh no. Some wicked person this Kayahara turns out to be.
 
Because of that Yuuto isn’t his usual self in episode 11. It’s so obvious. Thinking for Haruka’s case, he even declines to accompany her to her lessons even if Haruka invites him. After school, Milan confronts Yuuto that she was being told by Kayahara that he wanted to quit being a manager. But the point is, is Yuuto really going to listen to her and not his feelings. He’s still indecisive so she goes off. Yuuto is so disturbed that even Mika and her maids are worried. He wants to be left alone so they go do some detective work and find suspicious stuff about Kayahara’s company. Something about such a small company incurring large expenses. Yuuto receives free tickets to Milan’s Valentine’s Day live concert (because she WANTS him to come) so he gives them to Shiina and other friends except Haruka (it seems Haruka’s final audition is on that day too). At the concert, Milan notices Yuuto looking gloomy so before her next song, she tells her life story about regrets and making decisions to try and hint indirectly to that dilemma-ridden kid. Yuuto remembers the times spent with Haruka and though the audience are bewildered of her rare banter, Shiina knows he wants to go see Haruka and encourages him to do so. Without a second thought, he rushes to the audition.
 
The winner is going to be announced with Kayahara and Nozomi happy that their plans are working well. However Yuuto barges in and apologizes that he can’t go with her request because he needs to tell Haruka his feelings. I can’t believe 4 guards are not enough to stop a kid from running towards the stage. He says he wants to be close to Haruka and she reiterates the same. But when Yuuto says he doesn’t want her to be an idol, she gets puzzled and spills the mistake thingy and that she thought she was just filling space for this audition. However Kayahara isn’t going to let her plans go down the drain yet as she will still win if she announces the winner. Before Nozomi could, a smoke screen is tossed at her courtesy of the Nogizaka maids. Gentou too has a hand in this. He announces he has bought over every single particle of their company right down to the merchandise they made. So technically, they belong to him. He would’ve sliced them for tricking dear Haruka but after Akiho and Mika say that they did try to make Haruka into a beloved idol despite their self interests, he puts down his sword. Phew. Yuuto and Haruka resume their I-want-to-be-by-your-side conversation. In the aftermath, Kayahara and Nozomi are relegated to some embarrassing game show, Milan seems less obnoxious during her TV interview and Haruka gives Yuuto Valentine chocolates and her own original piano CD (the reason why she entered the audition). Yuuto suddenly hugs her, much to her embarrassment. Before he could proceed further, his spider sense is tingling because he busts the eavesdropping Mika and the maids. He’s so used to this by now.
 
The whole jinjang gang are invited to the Nogizaka holiday hotspring villa in episode 12. Get ready for round two of hotspring fanservice with cheeky Ryouko fondling the Nogizaka sisters’ boobs while Gentou steadfastly guards Yuuto. I wonder why he doesn’t guard against the other boys. Maybe he sees him as a direct threat to his beloved Haruka? Then more fanservice with ping pong as the ball goes here and there and the girls end up in various ambiguous fanservice pose. What more can I say. That night, Shiina thinks of confessing to Yuuto and follows him to the boys’ section. While stammering and building up lots of emotion, Shiina even starts hugging Yuuto under the blankets but to her horror she finds out it is Gentou! Of course Akiho sees this and misinterprets. If this was a shonen anime, her stormy aura could’ve blasted the entire villa. Shiina runs away in embarrassment upon seeing Yuuto who has just come in. So the next day everyone makes a trip to the shrine minus Gentou because that guy has been so traumatized hiding in a cabinet profusely saying he won’t do it again. That’s how you tame a tiger. Somehow I find everyone’s luck reading at the shrine to be somewhat the same when they took it the last time.
 
Before dinner time, everyone receives the bad news that Haruka is missing. Rumour has it that Haruka was seen going out alone and currently the blizzard is at its worse. Gentou mobilizes the entire maid squad to look for them. Yuuto wants to help out and I guess it must be one of Hazuki’s fetishes to have Yuuto wear a giant white bear anti-freezing suit. He gets separated and finds Haruka searching for her precious ring in the snow. She is so desperate that the freezing cold doesn’t even get to her! Eventually she finds it but the cliff they’re on collapses. They see a nearby cottage and seek refuge in it. Their clothes are wet and they need to dry and warm themselves before they catch a cold. Any ideas? Damn right. Strip down to their undies and huddle close together in the bear suit big enough to fit them both. Oh yeah! Are they going to do it for the first time? The build-up of their romantic mood (which may lead to ahem, ahem) is ruined when all the maids bust in. Always at the right time. Or wrong time, depends on how you look at it. Haha. How embarrassing seeing them like that. How did they find them? The cottage is just behind the inn and the bear suit contains a tracking device. Gentou is crying blood so Alice has to ‘shut him up’. Akiho asks what they were doing so they both confidently answered "It’s a secret!". They sure know how to get around. But I guess they’re so amazed by their answer, everyone applause instead (except for Gentou of course). Did Haruka and Yuuto kissed during the end credits? Leave that to your imagination.
 
Ah well. Even if Yuuto and Haruka did not really confess their true feelings for each other, I guess having wished to stay by each other side is good enough. Something in this series still bugs me. If that idol stint would expose and make Haruka famous, wouldn’t that mean her secret hobby is in danger of being revealed? I mean at the end of the first season, she wasn’t so obsessed about protecting her secret anymore and came to embrace it. If her other classmates found out about it, would that be troublesome? I guess all that don’t matter as long Haruka and Yuuto are happy together. While Haruka is quite cute whenever she is in panic, embarrassed or shy mode, I have mixed feelings on Yuuto, though. It is quite admirable that he is a tolerant, nice and helpful guy and wouldn’t hesitate to assist those in need. But in this sequel, I felt that he was too obliging so much so I find it quite annoying. Has he ever learnt to say ‘no’? And that everything has a limit of what one can do? From Touka to Milan, he’s just like a total servant to them! Say, what happened to Touka? I thought she’d make a final episode appearance and help Yuuto out but it was Milan who took that part instead.
 
I guess this season too they tried to throw in a little love triangle tension but I felt it wasn’t as suspense as in the first one. Shiina has her moments but it didn’t come close in changing or move Yuuto’s heart an inch. That final ditch attempt to confess her feelings was a bold one and though it was a total failure, at least she tried. The first step is always the hardest. Try again, girl. Not that I’m getting my high hopes up Yuuto will be looking at her. What about Mika? I’m still wondering if she’s really serious about making Yuuto her true lover or maybe it was just the spur of the moment. She seemed desperate then. Perhaps it’s always better and more exciting watching other people’s romance, eh? As for Ruko and Yukari, I feel they’ve both been reduced to useless side characters bumming around. Have you seen any other supporting minor characters who spend more than half of their screen time appearance getting drunk and rowdy? And Gentou has got to learn to let his daughter go. One way or the other. Kayahara and Nozomi are quite the ‘villain’ though sometimes I feel if they’re really sincere in making Haruka an idol or not. From the looks of it of course she was just a tool to further their self interests. It makes me wonder do successful idol hopefuls undergo lots of these rigorous stuff? Maybe. If that’s so, I don’t want to be an idol :). On a side note, I notice this season, Hazuki and Nanami didn’t wield their chainsaw and hammer respectively. Did they do away with those weapons of theirs because they have Alice now?
 
As mentioned the sexual innuendoes were turned up but really can’t get enough of that, if you go buy the DVD versions, I’m sure you’ll get to ‘see more skin’. Guaranteed. So which is better? Victoria’s Secret or Haruka’s Secret? Haha! Just kidding. Likewise, the episode titles sound ambiguous as ever like episode 2’s "Please Put It In", episode 3’s "It Hurts…", episode 6’s "My Body Feels Hot" and episode 9’s "This Is My First Experience". How do they relate to the story in that particular episode I wonder? Just like in last season, there are a few anime trivia for viewers to spot. For instance Alice’s club which resembles closely to Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan’s Excaliborg and that little scene with Touka and a little tiger in hand is a reference to Toradora’s Taiga because both characters are voiced by the same person. I kinda noticed most of the trivia come from characters played by Rie Kugimiya in other animes.
 
For this particular season, I didn’t like the rock pop opening song, Chouhatsu Cherry Heart by Milan Himemiya and Chocolate Rockers (for your information, Milan isn’t a real person. She’s just a moniker created for this series and the voice behind her character is Hitomi Nabatame). I didn’t find it as catchy as the first season probably because of the heavy rock beat. The ending theme too did not appeal to me. Himitsu Suishou! Urato LOVE by N’s is a pop piece with some techno effects. Plus, the lyrics especially towards the end of the song sounds a bit gibberish to me and took me time to understand what they’re saying (not that my Japanese vocabulary is good anyway). The ending credits animation has the characters in chibi form doing some random dance. Cute or what? As something extra for this season, at the end of the show there is a short segment called Nogizaka Vocabulary Fundamentals whereby viewers can learn simple anime related words such as cosplay, Komike and tsundere. The mid-intermission has characters of the series in random poses while uttering a short sentence usually related to that episode’s story.
 
So will there be a third season? No news of it yet. Even if there is, I’m definitely going to watch it to see the love developments between Haruka and Yuuto. I do look like Mika and her maids, do I? Maybe they should rename this series and discard that ‘secret’ word in the title. Like I said, did it even come close to Haruka’s secret otaku hobby being exposed? Heck, she doesn’t seem worried or bothered now that has taken a back seat. For me, I’m still the same anime lover and sure my love for it has grown over the years that if you look at it in another way, it’s like an addiction. And I’m proud of it! It’s no big secret.
 

Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu

Sora No Manimani

May 8, 2010

Starlight, star bright. In our daily hustle and bustle city life, how many of us have really actually stop and take a good look at the starry night sky? Perhaps most of us would have answered nil and I would have been part of the growing statistic if not for the anime series Sora No Manimani. Not to say that this show got me into loving the night sky or so, but at least it made me remember my childhood days when I was in awe looking up at the magnificent and beautiful stars in the sky.
 
This short romantic comedy and slice of life series focuses on a group of star gazing lovers, the astronomy club of Souei High School. Well at least some of them. While viewers can get insights on the several constellations and simple terms of astronomy in this series, don’t worry they won’t turn it into a bore fest and making this show like some sort of educational programme. Besides, I did say it was a romantic comedy too.
 
Saku Ooyagi, the bookworm and literature lover has recently moved back to the town he once grew up in after 7 years in episode 1. However, he doesn’t have many fond memories of this place. Especially of a devil in the name of Mihoshi Akeno. This hyperactive girl loves watching the stars just like her dad and since Saku was the only child her age, she always forcefully drags him out to gaze the night sky instead of leaving him in peace to read his beloved books. Until an incident whereby Mihoshi climbed up a tree and fell off. Saku broke his arm while trying to save her. Bad memories. He’s still having nightmares though. Now he’s going to relive them all again. So on his first day at school, he sees a flashy club recruitment from the astronomy club and his reaction and surprise has him call out Mihoshi’s name. Realizing his mistake (because Mihoshi instantly has recognized Saku), he makes a run for it but Mihoshi the persistent devil gives chase so much so she ends up on him. So much for the quiet high school life he’s hoped for. It could’ve been out of control if Mihoshi’s astronomy club pals, Sayo Yarai and Takeyasu Roma hadn’t shown up. Oh wait. My mistake. Not till the student council president, the strict Fumie Kotozuka appears. You don’t want to mess with her. Plus, she has some seemingly grudge over the astronomy club. So anything they do is like annoying to her. Yeah, some may call her a b*tch.
 
Saku may meet fellow classmate and photography club Masashi Edogawa as his friend but the constant stalking from Mihoshi doesn’t do him any good. How is spying from the opposite of the block or rushing right to his class at the ring of the bell do him any good? So I guess he has had it enough of her ‘enthusiasm’ so Saku rejects her invitation to join the astronomy club. Oh, I need to mention that a club needs to have a minimum of 5 members or else it will be disbanded. The astronomy club currently has only 3. No wonder Fumie is happily counting its days to its non-existence. But Mihoshi isn’t giving up yet. Uh huh. Emotional teary eyes pleading of all that precious memories. Precious memories his foot! More like nightmares to him then. So when Saku says she didn’t even bother to come wish him farewell after he was released from hospital for his broken arm (because he moved soon after), that’s when he realized that Mihoshi was hospitalized too. She did come but he was gone. Mommy never told him because he was always in a bad mood whenever that incident was brought up. Feeling guilty, he realized he wasn’t the only one lonely all this time, apologizes and joins the astronomy club much to Mihoshi’s delight.
 
Mihoshi and Sayo bring Saku to see their astronomy club. Not the most modern or updated but at least there are a few models. What’s that out of place futon for? It’s for Roma, you see. Uh huh. That club president is like a zombie and it’s like his constant coughing, bleeding and collapsing could send him to the next world anytime. Anytime. So the gang continue their member recruitment drive and as usual the typical confrontation between Mihoshi and Fumie. Fumie learns about the new guy and what do you know, she’s part of the literature club too and is somewhat ‘interested’ in their conversation. I guess the duo could’ve gotten real close and him joining the club (gasp!) if they continued with their ‘friendly’ conversation, interrupted courtesy from Mihoshi. Jealous? Maybe not. But a close shave indeed. Saku hears Mihoshi’s desire to let everyone experience the excitement of watching stars, so Mihoshi decides to organize a sunspot observation. Unfortunately it rained. What a damper on their plans. But when it’s over at night, the sky is clear as the gang watches the beautiful star lit sky.
 
Mihoshi’s persistent harassing must be really getting to Saku in episode 2. She’s in his class every time a period ends. That’s why one of Saku’s classmates, Hime Makita, doesn’t like it. Apart from the fact that she harbours a secret crush on him. A short flashback reveals how she first met Saku on a bus on the day of her entrance exam. She was nervous and her nice fluffy hair somehow got entangled in Saku’s shirt button, making it a very embarrassing incident for her. However he calmly unfastens it and compliments her beautiful hair. That’s when her love began. Besides rejecting Mihoshi’s outright invitation to join her club, Hime tries to get to know Saku and possibly remind him that they’ve once met a long time ago. Of course their conversation is interrupted when Mihoshi crashes in. She invites them all to the rooftop for stargazing. Hime is lamenting her fate that she has no chance whatsoever with Saku because of his childhood time spent with Mihoshi. But when she learns the duo aren’t dating, she immediately signs up to be a club member, delighting everyone. Just like that, huh? Now she’s got a chance. Now the club has got a chance too. Edogawa too must be a permanent non-member because he’s seen spending most of the time with them. Must be the school’s policy that one can only join a club. In his case, must be the cute girls. As the gang celebrate, Fumie and her obedient servant, oops, I mean vice president of the literature club, Haraguchi, enter to mock the club’s activities always being affected by the weather unlike their large club.
 
Roma then decides to organize a stargazing event for the club that night but it seems the weather always isn’t on their side. Yeah, it’s raining cats and dogs. With their plans on hold, they get this idea to visit Saku’s house. Majority wins, pal. It doesn’t help when Saku’s mom is a little child-like spewing details about Saku. However she notes how he was more animated in this town and smiled more these days. The next night, they try their stargazing plans once more and thankfully no rain. Hime is having a hard time because of her fashion sense and since she didn’t have a bicycle, she has to ride pillion with Roma (he’s the only one with a double seater). Hang on for your life! Not sure he’s dead while steering the two-wheeler. Because of that, the duo are ‘knocked out’ when they arrive at their destination while the rest have their field day watching the stars. Saku is still knowledgeable about the stars since he read books and his past ‘nightmare’ with Mihoshi but for Edogawa, he manages to connect the stars with his otaku head. Fist of Northern Star anyone? He’s really hooked now. Considering giving up the photography club for the astronomy club? Sayo talks to Saku and to her relief he isn’t burdening himself with what happened during his elementary school days and wishes for him to take care of Mihoshi.
 
Saku’s plan of staying out of the limelight is always hampered with Mihoshi barging into his class. In episode 3, she even says ambiguous lines of doing that on an exciting night. We all know it’s stargazing but for the other boys, they really want to hear the details of his path to manhood. Yeah, talk about the rumours spreading fast throughout school. He decides to take some time off from club activities and doesn’t want anyone to come look for him. He takes a ride to the town’s library and to his surprise sees Fumie there. The duo chat as she wonders if joining the literature club ever crossed his mind since he loved books. His reply was though he still loved books, whenever he looked up at the sky, a part of him becomes awe. But she still opens the door for him to join and even if the astronomy club is disbanded. Yeah, she still hates it. Saku goes home and is surprised to see Mihoshi waiting at his doorstep. She apologizes for going overboard. I guess he couldn’t keep a grudge after a cute girl sincerely apologized so Mihoshi is back to her energetic self. Yeah, dragging him for more stargazing activities. However it continues to rain so yeah, sad day for Mihoshi. Fumie comes in to brag about her club being ‘weather proof’ so Mihoshi does an astronomy quiz to prove otherwise. Say what? Saku gets an idea to bring the gang to the local planetarium since it’s raining. They meet a navigator, Haruko Hatori, who guides them around the place and the projection dome. At least when the weather is unfavourable, they can come here and watch this small universe unveiling right before your eyes. You could feel like reaching out and touch the stars!
 
Perhaps Hime’s crush on Saku has become obvious that her pals even hints of trying to help and support her. But summer has arrived in episode 4 and that means summer camp. While Roma and Sayo go to get the student council’s approval, Hime tries to get closer to Saku but always gets sucked into Mihoshi’s pace. She can’t take it anymore, their friendliness so she yells what Mihoshi thinks of Saku. Her reply: I love him. Gasp! Hold your horses. She adds: I also love everyone else. Phew. The astronomy club and other clubs arrive at their designated lakeside for their camp. And yeah, another confrontation between David and Goliath. When it’s time to move into their summer dorm, the astronomy club gets to stay in a rundown ruined and dilapidated house as compared to the cosier one the rest will be. Talk about double standards. But no use feeling down as the gang pick up their cleaning gear and starts cleaning and sprucing up the place. As for Edogawa? He just wants to have fun and pick up girls. Go pick up yourself. He’s so tanned at the end of the day. That night, they have candle light dinner (not for romantic purposes, mind you) so that their eyes could adjust to the lights to watch the night sky. Though it may be the same sky, it’s really beautiful and different from where you’re watching, the city or the wilderness. They camp outside and sleep underneath the stars till sunrise. Next morning when Fumie comes to check on them, she is very annoyed to see them all sleeping in ‘shameless casual positions’. At least to her.
 
Fumie gives them a ticking off lecture in episode 5 but the real reason was that they were so tired from last night’s star gazing that they just collapsed when they returned to the house. But even so, Fumie would hear no excuse. Abide the rules or else. Anyway they’ve been forbidden to do night activities so the gang try to win Fumie’s heart by doing charity work like cleaning up the beach. Not going to work. Fumie even forbids her club members to go near them! However a couple of them, Yoshinari and Izumi, went over and get friendly with the astronomy club members. When Saku learns from them Fumie’s morning visit was that she negotiated on her behalf for the club to use the baths, he rushes to Fumie to apologize. He learns that she cares about the club since you know, being an astronomy club means doing night activities and the impression that will impact on people. I get what she means. Perverts and night stalkers gazing at their ‘stars’ from the other side. So Saku says the she may come to know the beauty of stars if she sees them herself and will perhaps see the star of words. Suddenly they hear screams from Yoshinari and Izumi. A couple of punks are harassing them. Fumie puts her foot down and slaps one of them. That jerk was going to retaliate with a punch. Saku rushes to save her but trips and accidentally got punched. This activates ‘protect Saku’ mode from Mihoshi and Hime as they beat up the punks in no time. And they’re exaggerating his light injury… Later Fumie goes to thank Saku for what he has done and gives him a chance to show what his club can do.
 
This mean, they will do a stargazing event with the literature club. The next morning, the gang divide their chores to prepare for the event. Roma is in charge of doing to brochures, Sayo to scout for the location and the rest to obtain supplies. A short flashback on how Fumie and Mihoshi as an odd pair. It goes a long way back. Meanwhile Roma has completed his brochures but he’s on the verge of dying because he has handwritten all of them for there was no photocopier. As for Hime, she is being made as the announcer-cum-guide since Mihoshi finds her well versed in the stars as well. Night comes as the literature club members highly anticipate what they will see. Hime though nervous at first manages to guide her audience on a starry trip, making everyone in awe and holding their interest in the subject. Fumie understands now what Saku meant by star of words and compliments Mihoshi for showing something great to her. However she saw straight through her and won’t increase her club’s budget.
 
Back to school in episode 6. As usual, Mihoshi spews ambiguous lines of wanting to show photos that they took at night. Hehehe… As for Edogawa and his photography club, they scored big with successful pics of babes in swimsuits. This episode sees a new teacher replacing the one of Saku’s class. He is Nozomu Souma and okay, he’s got the looks enough to make girls’ heart pound. However Mihoshi recognizes him and calls him Sou-nii and in return, he too is surprised and recognizes her. I guess it’s enough to make the whole hall go into gossiping mode. And I guess Saku’s whole class is intrigued enough that Saku and Souma have something to do with Mihoshi and unanimously picks Saku as volunteer for handouts. Saku himself wonders who is Souma to Mihoshi and must have been someone during his absence. With Souma around, looks like Mihoshi is ‘shifting’ her attention to him. Yeah, right after the bell rings, she’s seen trying to look for him. At least it takes the attention off Saku but why does he feel lonely and bothered? Aha… Souma later surprises the astronomy club when he announces he’d be their advisor (there was no teacher available all the while). They learn he just returned to town and wishes to see Mihoshi’s dad, a university professor whom he is indebted to. More surprises are in store for the gang when they learn Souma got approval for their club to do a planetarium dome for the upcoming cultural festival. Not to mention a slightly bigger room. Furthermore, there will be a best event competition during that and the top 3 clubs will get their funding increase. Enough for them to buy a much needed telescope. Now there’s a motivation to get started. Later Fumie nervously talks to Saku and wishes for him to help out with the literature club’s publishing works during the summer for their literature magazine. Though he doesn’t have to give an answer nor is it compulsory, after seeing how happy Mihoshi is, Saku mentions he has plans to help other people out, surprising them all.
 
Saku is really regretting why he agreed to help out the literature club. But Mihoshi was like so ecstatic because with Saku helping them out (since the project work is a joint between the literature and astronomy club) it’s like he’s a diplomat for their club. So in episode 7, Saku plans to decline to offer properly. As he faces Fumie, he spots Mihoshi in the background and panics. Yup, he’ll help out. Serious slip of the tongue. Now he can’t back out. Saku starts helping out by giving ideas to enthusiastic Yoshinari and Izumi while the astronomy club members plan on their dome and go buy supplies. At the end of the day, Saku stops by the astronomy club but finds nobody. Then Mihoshi comes in. At first she acts like nothing then suddenly she hugs him like a girlfriend who has never seen her boyfriend in decades. Till she realized what she was done, that is. Souma saw this and misinterprets (on purpose, I guess). Later Souma talks to Saku alone and asks if he loves astronomy and should read up more about it. Everyone works hard to prepare for the festival which is less than a week away. Fumie finds Saku working alone late in the literature club room. She feels something is going on since there’re lots of rumours going about between him, Mihoshi and Souma. They carry on talking about this small town and the likes. Since Saku went on his nostalgic chattering, Fumie asks if he would join the literature club before taking back her words as just a joke. She assures him that he is who he is. When Saku leaves, he sees Hime presenting to him a notebook of their daily progress of the planetarium. After realizing his pals are doing their best and will be waiting for him, he rushes back inside.
 
The cultural festival begins in episode 8 and thanks to Saku returning back to help out the astronomy club, they get to finish the wonderful mini planetarium in time. They even have their own t-shirt design for the festival. The usual hustle and bustle. Hey, there’s a male host club too! Is this allowed?! The astronomy club tries hard to woo people to their planetarium but to no avail. Perhaps they need to reconsider their advertising strategy. Saku’s mom is at the festival and she’s totally in awe and swooning with the theatre club doing some Rose of Versailles act. "Oscar! Oscar!". Haruko also visits the festival and since she has the experience of being a guide, she manages to draw people to the planetarium. All goes well with Mihoshi as the presenter. Edogawa’s cute sisters pay him a visit but are shocked to see him well erm… Let’s say he’s a semi-nude model for anybody who wishes to take a photo shot. Elsewhere, an author praises Fumie’s literature magazine as it is different from her previous years’ work. The festival is soon over and the astronomy club didn’t win the best event competition. It went to the theatre club. Then it’s time to tear down the dome but nobody has the heart to do so and sink into depression. Just then, Fumie barges in with her usual ticking off tone because of the pile of junk cluttered in the hallway which they bought cheaply at the bazaar (including Elizabeth from Gintama?!). After the usual get-your-act-together lecture, Mihoshi gets renewed determination because it’s stargazing season. First up, moon gazing at Sayo’s place. Since they’re sleeping over, I guess Sayo’s dad has every right to get suspicious about the guys. Or maybe he’s just plain weird to begin with. Though they don’t have a telescope, they still enjoy the full moon view (no dirty thoughts here). Then Souma tells the gang they’ve received a video letter from the astronomy club of Nogishiro High School. Its president, Ayumi Oumi, was amazed at their cultural festival and invites them to participate in the Prefecture High School Astronomy Network’s stargazing session that they’re hosting.
 
The gang takes up on the invitation in episode 9 and as usual the surprise of seeing a school much bigger with more facilities than theirs. Their astronomy club members have more members unlike some you can count with your fingers and still have spare. Oumi is a very sporting girl and is very excited to greet her Souei counterparts. She thinks she has met Roma before but the latter says otherwise. While Hime’s wish that no new love rivals would appear may come true, she should also wish that there were no guys hitting on her. Yeah, that polite Musa guy must be getting on Hime’s nerves. The Souei gang get more surprise in their lives to see such a full fledge telescope and a huge congregation of enthusiasts alike which include a pair of girls who have hots for certain stars (the ones in the sky instead of Hollywood hunk celebrities). Oumi wishes for everyone to get along but she’s getting along too well with Saku. How’s holding his arm for a start? Pray hard to the stars that there won’t really be a new love rival, Hime. Everyone is divided into groups for their stargazing activity from which I understand to count the number of stars in a certain area. To me, that’s like counting sand, right? I’m laughing out loud at Edogawa’s group because that shutterbug kid is being grouped with a couple of astronomy photography boys. They’re holding his hands while giving lessons on how to press the switch! It’s so gay! As for Hime, her unlucky fate has Musa in her group. Musa, trying real hard to be a gentleman… Hime, trying real hard to stay away…
 
Before the actual event starts which is around midnight, Oumi has Saku help her out patrolling the area to keep in check ‘unwanted’ activities when they hear a scream coming from inside the building. It seems to be Hime. Due to a misunderstanding, she beat up Musa. He was trying to save her from a falling planet model but in her vision, she sees a perverted monster coming her way. Oumi ticks Musa for being irresponsible while Hime is still feeling frightened from it all. Saku’s words comforted her so Musa thinks he is the person she has a crush on. He gets another beating. The stargazing event soon starts as Oumi mentions that not everyone in her school are astronomy club members as some are here to participate in outing events. Like Musa, who is from the light music club (K-ON! club?). Saku also learns of Oumi’s wish to have everyone to see the stars even if they don’t own a telescope or such and in a way she wants to repay the person who taught her to stargaze (hint: the one which resembles like a zombie). They start the event with Roma narrating the myths and legends of the stars. The next day as Roma and Oumi talk, we learn they were both from the same astronomy club but Roma quit suddenly due to his weak body and Oumi worried about him. As everyone prepares to leave, Edogawa snaps and needs to feed his urge to take girls pics. Well, better leave now.
 
Mihoshi comes back from her Hokkaido trip in episode 10. However, Edogawa and Hime become suspicious when Mihoshi and Souma plan to go out together one day and decide to tail like stalkers, dragging Saku along. I guess they too are curious to see Roma and Oumi together and would want to follow them but seeing that they’re in a train… Then Sayo unwittingly joins the gang on their stalking mission following them around town and finally when their presence is busted, they realize that the duo were visiting Mihoshi’s dad’s grave. It hit Saku that he didn’t even know he passed away. Souma reveals that he died in a car accident back from a stargazing event. Mihoshi apologizes for surprising them. Even though Mihoshi is back to her usual self and cheers them up, Saku still can’t help but feel gloomy. Meanwhile Fumie thinks of giving a bookmark to Saku as a souvenir. No more than that. Ahem, I think not. She’s trying hard to sum up her courage to give it to him but hesitates. Then one evening she gets to speak to Saku but a baseball comes flying their way. Saku saves her but accidentally broker her spectacles. Good news: She looks less intimidating. Bad news: She’s as blind as a bat. It’s like she’s ‘attracted’ into bumping into things.
 
So Saku helps walk her home. At the playground, Saku feels nostalgic during his childhood days spent at this place which he has not visited since his return. Fumie manages to give the bookmark as appreciation for what he did during the festival. Yoshinari and Izumi appear so they take over to guide Fumie home. However Saku has something troubling him and wants them to hear him out. Seems he has got Fumie and the principal to approve a onetime event to cheer up Mihoshi. When Saku’s other pals find out, they too want to help. Mihoshi is back in her room feeling that Saku may still be mad at her when he turns up at her doorstep and brings her to school. At the rooftop, she sees everyone waiting to stargaze with her. Mihoshi is overcome with emotional and starts crying like a child. When that’s over, everyone gathers under the kotatsu as Mihoshi tells Saku that she feels it’s like her dad is still living inside of him and thus did not intentionally wanted to keep his death a secret from him. Then they hold hands while watching the star lit sky as Yoshinari and Izumi are excited about the so called lovey-dovey development and power of love thingy. Till Hime tells them they aren’t dating that really caught them by surprise.
 
The Souei astronomy club members are being invited by the Takami Girl’s School’s counterpart for a winter camp at Nagashiratsuri in episode 11. Except for Roma because he has to study for exams. Plus, I think he’d freeze to death with the weak body he has. Since Hime can’t take the cold and the clothes she is wearing isn’t enough (probably due to her fashion ego), she has trouble settling down. Furthermore, the heater at the camp is being fixed at the moment. That night, she thinks of getting warmer apparel and goes to the nearest convenient store. It isn’t convenient because it is closed and what’s more a blizzard is building up quickly. The rest soon realized that Hime isn’t with them and fears she may have gone out by herself. Mihoshi who earlier on spotted Hime going out by herself, also went out to search for her alone. The situation is too dangerous for the rest to go out for a search as they are stuck in the camp house and hoping for the best. Hime treks her way back in the snow and she’s starting to lose it when she sees Saku coming and hugging her in his worry. But all that was just her hallucination. Weakened, she starts thinking this may be God’s punishment for being a jealous and dishonest girl and reflects upon her life (isn’t that more like her life flashing past before her eyes?). Thankfully out of nowhere suddenly Mihoshi finds her. It’s amazing she’s so energetic. They take refuge in a makeshift snow shelter and chat about things like I’m-your-rival and I-won’t-lose-either. To you know who lah. Then the wind stop as they get out of the shelter to find the blizzard gone. Wow. Such a dense but starry sky! I guess they could use the stars to lead them back. But it is the flashlight of the telescope from the camp (idea from Edogawa’s flashing camera) that guides them back. In the end, everyone’s relief and the usual lecturing for going-out-like-that-when-you-should-know-better-yourself. Finally to Hime’s dismay, she realizes that Mihoshi’s interpretation of rival refers to the best stargazing spot or who could stay out and watch the stars the longest. Yeah, that’s her first love always.
 
The camp continues in episode 12 and I guess the hotspring fanservice in the final episode isn’t too bad. What fanservice? Nothing much lah if you ask me. Edogawa eavesdrops into the girl’s area and their mischievous talk has him thinking that they’re really inviting him to peek. Thankfully Saku restrains the pervert but to their surprise Mihoshi takes a peep at the guys and even suggests washing Saku’s back! Meanwhile Roma is having a hard time with his exams so Oumi takes him out on a date to lift his spirits. And their date wouldn’t be complete without stargazing, wouldn’t it? Back to the camp, the gang are ready to take photos of the night sky with several cameras courtesy from Edogawa’s photography club since the air here is clearer and lacks the city pollution. The usual talk about next year like how the seniors will be gone and the low confidence next-in-line would have to take over or for Souei’s case, would there even be an astronomy club. But cast aside their worries because it’s stargazing time. With an eyepiece belonging to Saku, everyone watches in awe via the telescope, a vision of planet Saturn. Soon it’s spring time and a new term begins. Mihoshi is now the new president of the astronomy club as Roma has passed with flying colours and is currently living his campus life with Oumi. Hime is sticking with the club since she and Saku aren’t in the same class anymore and as for Edogawa, you know why lah. It’s the astronomy club’s first duty to recruit new members to replace Roma and I think Mihoshi is too enthusiastic because she’s wearing a star outfit! Saku has written a publication to better introduce their club. Fumie, who has won re-election for the student council president, takes a look at his writing and is impressed. Yoshinari and Izumi tease that she complimented a paper, making her blush but gets back with usual strict ways with them. Finally, Mihoshi unleashes that flashy tactic she did back in the first episode to recruit members to watch the stars together.
 
Of course if you buy the DVD, you’ll get special clips. About 6 of them, each lasting around 2 minutes or so. Half of them are short extra fillers which won’t be anything conclusive while the remainder are short music clips. The first special, Summer Memories, the Souei gang are returning from their summer camp and are making a stop at a train station. Hime is having problems in deciding what souvenir to get when the train comes. Saku swiftly buys 6 weird key chains before he and Hime manage to get onboard in time. He gives everyone a piece and this makes Hime happy. Elsewhere, Fumie too bought the same key chain. The second special, Meteor Distance, Saku must be in seventh heaven because he gets to read his books as Mihoshi is on a field trip. As expected, she calls him and they talk about the beauty of the night sky and the city lights. However their conversation is cut short when angry Fumie has found her (Mihoshi left a dummy as a decoy?). As for the music specials, they are just recycled clips from the series and the songs mainly reflects on the character who also sings the song like Mihoshi’s Heart Pounding Constellation Meteor Shower and Hime’s Dive To The Sky.
 
So looks like it ends another short series. Not to say that there are lots and overwhelming development. What kind of development? Take the love chemistry for instance. Hime’s not giving up on Saku though she hasn’t really confess her feelings yet. Fumie? It’s because of his passion for books that she sees him on a different view. Since he’s on the astronomy club, she gets an even different perspective. Charming, is he, don’t you think? Or else she may have just lump him with the rest of the astronomy club. Maybe if she really wants him in the literature club, why not change the rules and allow one to join multiple clubs? Then Edogawa don’t have to be an ‘immigrant’ too. What about Mihoshi? We all know her first love will always be the stars but that part whereby she hugged Saku in her reflex, was it she was just missing him or some deep inner feelings she never knew? Glad to see Roma and Oumi going steady, though. Nice guy Souma’s presence seems lacking in impact as the series reaches the end. He made a little stir when he first appeared but other than knowing Mihoshi before, that’s so much about it. I wonder if Haruko has a thing for him since she introduced herself to him with sparkling eyes during the cultural festival.
 
Though the art and drawing is your typical today’s standard Japanese anime, one thing I need to say though is how the stars of the night sky are beautifully drawn. I know it doesn’t beat watching the real thing but it was still awesome and magnificent enough to make me go "Ooohh…" and "Ahhh…". The visual representation of the constellations are nicely rendered too. The opening theme by Sphere is Super Noisy Nova and sounds like an upbeat Japanese anime pop song. If you’re the person who skips opening credits then you’ll miss the title because that’s where it is after several seconds into the song. The ending theme is Hoshikuzu No Surround by CooRie. If you are familiar with her style of singing then you can easily identify with her slow pop piece here. The special ending theme for episode 4 also by CooRie, Yami Ni Saku Hoshi No You Ni, is a slow ballad.
 
Till this day, I still couldn’t see how joining a few dots here and there would conjure a picture of a certain constellation. I guess you must have a damn good imagination to do so. I too have my own interpretations. For instance, if I wasn’t being told that star was Orion’s Belt, that set of stars would look like a lobster to me! And the Big Dipper looked like a petrol pump! Need I go on? I’m sure there are basics on how you connect the stars together. Me, I’m just lost. I wonder if I can name a few stars of my own if I just simply connect. Yeah, even discover a new constellation. Dream on.
 
If the anime series Sola made me appreciate the bright clear blue sky, then this series made me appreciate the starry night sky. It’s been a long time since I’ve stopped and take a real look at them. But I can’t still see much since you know, city pollution gets in the way. But I do remember seeing such beautiful stars during my childhood and thinking back just made me realize how insignificant we are. The universe is vast, scary and unknown but yet mystifying and so captivating at the same time. I may not have any interests in stargazing or stuffs related to astronomy (heck, not even the horoscope – don’t even read that section in the newspapers) but this series made me take a little breather and break from continuously watching the idiot box filled with 2D animation. Hmm… Since it’s a little cloudy today, I guess that’s over with and back to my usual programme routine. :)
 

Sora No Manimani

YAHOO!!! More Mio! Banzai for Mio! Long live Mio! Ahem… Before I get carried away and turn this blog into a dedication space for her, let me get to what this blog is really about: Mio. Oops sorry, I mean the moe and kawaii girls of the light music club better known as K-ON! I’m sure fans alike have known that a second season has been given the green light so to satisfy those who eagerly wait for the sequel (like yours truly), a special OVA episode has been released back in January 2010.
 
Actually, K-ON! OVA: Live House is more like an extra episode and some may dubbed it the fourteenth episode in the series. Well, if you are an obsessed fan of the series and had bought all the DVDs and Blu-Ray discs that have been released into the market, this OVA stems from the seventh and final disc of that said series. What else is there for a bunch of band girls to do? No, we are not going to have an episode filled with fantasy such as the girls being given an RPG makeover going on a quest to retrieve some super and legendary musical item. No we are not going to have them play out remakes of historical scenes in the form of samurais or ninjas. And certainly no, we are not going to have an episode filled with lots of fanservice either in the form of a hotspring, water park or beach outing (or all of them combined).
 
Instead we have the girls planning to do a live house performance as their last gig before the year ends for some wonderful memories. If that doesn’t pique your interest, then go watch something else. I’m in for Mio XD!!! Anyway, Ritsu has been invited by a friend of hers to do so. The gang are divided on doing the performance because the shy ones like Mio and Azusa are passing this up. However they put it to a vote and majority wins. They’re doing it. The decisive vote was by Tsumugi who feels that this isn’t a chance to be missed. So I guess it’s better to go along with the atmosphere and prepare for their first live performance scheduled in 10 days time. With that, Mio and Azusa reverse their votes so it’s a unanimous decision.
 
The girls pay a visit to the live house that they’re supposed to be performing. I’m not sure since I’ve never been to one but the place seems small. But I guess that’s the exclusivity of being in a live house rather than a large open air concert. They go up to the manager of this place, Janice, and make known of their intentions. Janice seems to have heard about them from Ritsu’s pal, Maki of her band Love Crisis. Yui wonders if their band’s name After School Tea Time sounds a little sissy but Janice thinks it sounds cute. She gives them a form to fill out and the usual programme of what is to be done before like rehearsal and the likes but I guess the girls are too excited to pay attention.
 
Janice shows them the dressing room and the door that leads to the stage. Though the girls are feeling really excited, Mio starts to burn out, thinking of all the people that will stare at her. Oh, you’ve already stolen the spotlight off screen :). The girls then go back to Yui’s place as Ui finds out about their live gig. Yui plans to invite her and her other friends to watch their performance. Then they discuss on what sort of outfit they should wear. I’m sure they’ve got lots of interesting ideas but please don’t mention the outfits Sawako made for them. Don’t even ask her to make new ones! They settle for their high school uniforms. Next day, Yui passes an invitation to Nodoka and she even has a pre-signed autograph to give her in case she becomes famous. Counting her chickens, eh? The days are counting down as posters of the live house are posted everywhere. As usual, Mio feels burned out.
 
The girls arrive for their rehearsal and meet the other bands. Okay, in terms of dressing, they may seem out of place. Street punk and hooded style fashion? Seems like a rough bunch. Yeah, so out of place. Maki and her Love Crisis band mates are there too as they introduce themselves. They invite Yui and co to come see their next solo live performance and hand them a demo CD. Yui then suggests a logo for their band and they agree on a tea cup. After being given backstage passes, they are given a form to fill out for timing of special effects and the likes. Being newbies, Yui had to go ask the meanest looking group. Thankfully they’re nice and help out. But it seems she went and asked too many times so they just lend their sheet for reference. Then it’s rehearsal time as the girls watch the others as reference. They must be dedicated people to have such high-tech equipment. As usual, Yui being the airhead girl gets distracted by the stuff being sold at the place like CDs and sweets. Because she’s rather ‘lively’, the rest must have felt embarrassed and took her away.
 
During the break, they have their usual nice hot cup of tea and delicious cakes. It must be too irresistible since the other bands decide to join in. Yum. Once they get to interact, they aren’t as bad or mean as they look. See, never judge a book by its cover. Such nice people pursuing their dreams in music without giving up. It is After School Tea Time’s turn for rehearsal. As first timers, they start to panic on what to do. Feels a little chaotic, doesn’t it? Trouble continues when they start their Fuwa Fuwa Time piece. Yui forgot to start her vocal lines and like a domino effect, everybody starts tripping and falling over. The encouragement and support from the others gave the girls their self confidence back as they take it from the top once more.
 
On the day of the performance, Ui and Nodoka come by so Yui greets them and even tease to call out their names during their name. Sawako arrives while After School Tea Time is performing on stage. She sees Janice and it seems they both know each other. Janice calls out to her as Catherine. They’re glad to see each other as Janice learns Sawako is their teacher. At the end of the show, the girls are being congratulated by Sawako and their pals. Then they see Love Crisis with a small group of fans. Yui thanks them and hopes to perform with them in the future. They converge back at Yui’s place to celebrate. This includes Sawako unleashing her fetish and wanting to put on embarrassing outfits on Azusa. With 1 minute left as countdown to the new year, Ritsu asks Mio how did she like this year. She says it was very much fun thanks to them. Ritsu teases her statement as lame. The new year has finally arrived but the duo are surprised to see the rest already fast asleep due to exhaustion. The next morning, Yui wakes up the rest to watch the morning sunrise. Except for Sawako whom I too personally feel she is better left asleep. Don’t want to get any funny ideas or wake her up from whatever weird dream she is having (if she’s having one anyway). As they watch the first light of the year, they wish each other happy new year and Yui points out to Azusa that she is still unknowingly wearing the cat ears from last night. Doesn’t take a genius to tell who put it there.
 
And yeah, if you have bought this OVA DVD or Blu-ray disc, then you’d be happy to know there is the final continuation of the K-ON! Specials, which I finally caught to watch. So in Special 7, dubbed the Winter Chapter, the usual short two and a half minute of random silliness (not to mention the horrible chibi drawing). The first part has the gang trying to practice their autograph and since none of them have any artistic sense except Mio, they think she must have really been practicing them. The second part has the gang making their own versions of snowman. Till Ritsu creates one on Mio’s panties, did she deservingly get whacked by the fury of the bassist. She never learns. Finally after the events of the live house concert, everyone goes back to have a nabe celebration. However Tsumugi shows her strict side and reprimands them for doing it wrongly and not following proper procedures. Like the nabe magistrate, is she? What the heck is that ending pose from the group anyway?
 
Sure this OVA doesn’t offer anything much except the usual bonding and interactions between the K-ON! Club members. But with this live house performance, at least they have experience and a step closer to achieve their goal at playing at the Budokan. Though, it may be hundreds of steps away. Also, now they can add this live gig to their list of activities instead of just bumming around in their club room drinking tea and savour delicious pastries.
 
Though I’m not the kind of person who goes to such live house performances or even a fan of indie music, but at least I have a little glimpse on how such a small event works. May not be in detail but it gives me some idea and insight. So till the second season finishes it’s run (so that I can watch it smoothly in one go), I guess I’ll have to make do of watching reruns of the series. Heh, Mio should be my motivation. Now to take up my guitar and jam my heart out all the way. If I could still remember those chords anyway.
 

K-ON!

Do you remember that kid who was being left a staggering 150 million Yen debt by his useless and now missing-in-action parents? So young, so poor and so in debt. Till he was being saved by a tsundere stinking filthy rich girl who doesn’t even know the true value of money, that this boy finally works as her personal butler-cum-bodyguard-cum-confidante to pay off his debts and of course to show is gratitude and loyalty. Yeah, we all sure remember those hilarious times as the sequel Hayate No Gotoku 2nd Season came and went as fast as it did back in 2009.
 
With all the parodies as well as the mix of the odd characters, it was no doubt that the first season was a surprise hit (at least in my opinion). However the sequel doesn’t last a whole year as its predecessor as it is only half that duration. Twenty five episodes to be exact. That doesn’t count the single OVA episode prior to its release. So this sequel promises to see further developments between the characters especially Hayate and Nagi and perhaps add a few more new characters as introduced during the OVA. In for another hilarious ride? Watch to find out.
 
Episode 1 starts off randomly with Nagi being forced to participate in Hakuou Academy’s freestyle marathon run. With Hayate by her side during training, can she even make past 50 metres? Tell that to a manga freak who locks herself up in her room all day drawing manga. Yeah, she collapsed after 3 metres. Klaus takes this chance to make a bet. If Nagi does not finish first place in the marathon, Hayate must quit. Oh boy, that’s pretty dangerous don’t you think? Furthermore, she has major competition in the form of Hinagiku. What’s more, the winner of this competition will win 150 million Yen cash prize! Yeah, a big motivation for Hinagiku’s useless drunkard sister-cum-teacher Yukiji to even enter the race. Hayate trains Nagi till race day. Thankfully this race has competitors racing in pairs so Nagi can be rest assured that Hayate will be on the lookout. And since this is a freestyle marathon, apparently shortcuts are allowed. If you know where they are. Good for Hayate-Nagi team. Of course the duo encounter obstacles in the form of other butlers such as Nonomura and Himuro. Then there’s that weird distraction from Maria and Saki in weird (and embarrassing) Max Heart Pretty Cure parody. The inevitable happens when Hayate is faced with Hinagiku. She is the only person left standing for Nagi to reach the finish line. Hayate would do anything for Nagi and that means turning into a devil. No, he does not transform into a horned imp. Rather, he changes their battle stage on a suspension bridge. If you remember, Hinagiku is well afraid of heights. With her scared stiff and paralyzed, Nagi is just metres away from the finish line when Yukiji crosses it first! By a hair’s length! I can’t believe that drunkard won!
 
Therefore in episode 2, Klaus is going to fire Hayate as part of the deal. However Nagi is the boss so she is going to fire him as well. Plus, Maria seconds Nagi’s decision because it was Klaus who made Maria and Saki don that embarrassing stint back then. So panic Klaus changes his mind and decides to give him a second chance. He recommends Hayate to do some butler training at some Tiger Den place. Say what? On his journey, he meets a young priestess, Fortesia, who on one hand could take out some loser otaku robber all by herself but at the same time is so money-minded. As fate would have it, Fortesia seems to be the person in charge of that Tiger Den (some church) and to train incompetent, useless and trash butlers. Of course Nagi gets suspicious that Hayate may get picked up by weird women and due to his bad luck with them, she calls him one night and she misinterprets when she hears a woman (Fortesia) yelling back about no handphone policy in church. Thus the next morning, Nagi intends to head where Hayate is. It seems the test Hayate will undergo is some RPG-like quest called Butler Quest. Yeah, form a party of 4 and retrieve the Butler’s Medal through the dungeon. Uh huh. How is this really going to help in his training? So the other members in his so called party will be Nagi, Yukiji (she become broke after repaying all her debts to Hinagiku from her win – so she’s basically here for the treasure) and Wataru (based on Saki’s recommendation). A twist in the end shows Isumi talking to an old sister named Fortesia! Oh my. Unless there are 2 Fortesias, one must be an imposter, right?
 
The so called adventure-cum-training begins in episode 3 and useless Yukiji goes out as soon as it starts. So the remaining brave ones trek through the treacherous and haunted labyrinth dungeon. The gang meets the ghost of a dead priest Rin Regioster of this church as he tells them to seek some flower to heal Hayate since he got poisoned while protecting Nagi from the traps. While Nagi and Wataru get chased around by ghosts and robots, thankfully Hinagiku appears in time to save them. Hinagiku was given a wooden sword Masamune to fight by Isumi while she herself heals Hayate a little. When the gang regroups, Fortesia reveals her true nature as she summons a monstrous robot to wipe them all out. However Hinagiku unplugs the power source so it’s good as scrap metal. We hear Fortesia’s story on why she wants to exact revenge on Nagi. Daddy was a mafia back in Sicily and his first job was to assassinate Nagi but was thwarted by Hayate. Daddy decides to go to Japan and be a cook seeing that being a mafia wasn’t his forte but ended up getting poisoned by a blowfish. Yeah, so she blames it on them for her revenge. Hinagiku dukes it out with Fortesia when possessed Yukiji returns. Another humongous robot unleashed. Wataru saves Fortesia from being crushed and offers her words of advice so much so you can tell that she’s actually starting to fall for him. With Hayate’s determination to protect Nagi, he gets the much needed super power to destroy the mechanical being and the ghost freed courtesy from Isumi’s exorcism. However the impact has destroyed the whole church. And the old sister thought she just wanted a ghost exorcism. When they return, Hayate has passed the test and is back as Nagi’s butler. He has to. Otherwise Klaus would have to go to :).
 
Valentine’s Day is approaching in episode 4 so Nagi is preparing hard her chocolates for Hayate. But we all know the disaster it will turn out at every try. Ayumu too has the same thinking but seeks Wataru for advice. Hinagiku on the other hand has received many chocolates from her fans alike. She spots Ayumu being harassed by the MIBs outside the school gates for trespassing so she allows her to come in. Ayumu wishes to see Hayate so Hinagiku arranges for butler boy to meet her. But shortly after so, Ayumu rushes out of the room. What has just happened? Seems she gave Hayate obligation chocolates rather than her handmade ones. Does she regret making both now? Underneath a bridge, Ayumu reflects on her actions. Hayate shows up and her instant reaction was to hug him (yikes!). She gives him her handmade chocolates and says that he doesn’t have to give her an answer now (fans should know that she holds a secret crush on Hayate). Ayumu goes to find Hinagiku and gives her a box chocolate as token of appreciation and both girls become good friends. Meanwhile Hayate is annoyed that Rin seems to be hanging around in the mansion rather than going to heaven. Hayate also asks Maria for advice about receiving Valentine chocolates but she has no experience in such an event. Thus Maria is in a dilemma to give him chocolates or not. As for Nagi, I guess all the times she tried failed so she orders Hayate to make and giver her chocolates. Hayate and Maria both make their chocolates but each time Hayate unknowingly makes better themed chocolates than her. She gets depressed so Hayate cheers her up with some words and gives her his chocolates after giving his to Nagi.
 
In episode 5, Ayumu’s brother, Kazuki, remembers how he first met Nagi and fell for her. In present time, Nagi once again leaves the mansion and I wonder if those bunch of SPs are really doing their job. Can’t even keep an eye on a little girl. As expected, Nagi realizes that a stalker is following her. Actually, he is Kazuki. He panics and starts saying "I love you". It’s really embarrassing if you consider many passers-by watching them in broad day light. To make up for it, he takes her out to places like the train station (seriously Nagi is so excited sitting in one), playing video games at the arcade and a boat ride at the park. Of course Nagi starts acting up and is going to fall over. Thankfully Hayate pops out from the water to keep her from getting wet before disappearing to who knows where (if you watch closely, he has been following her in the shadows all along). The day ends and the duo will soon have to part. Kazuki notes that Hayate may be the person in Nagi’s heart but he isn’t going to give up early yet. In the second half of the episode, Nagi is upset that Hayate isn’t seeing her as a woman. One night while Nagi is bathing with Maria, the latter leaves and hands Hayate the task to give Nagi towels. The obedient butler does so and in great timing, sees her naked when she stands up from the bathtub. After all that ruckus, Hayate blindfolds himself to help clean Nagi. Since he did make Nagi feel better, she pecks him on his cheeks. Maria saw the whole thing and wonders how they ended up in that situation but feels glad for Nagi.
 
However Nagi is still embarrassed by all that so in episode 6, she doesn’t want to see Hayate’s face for the next 3 days. That means he has to leave the mansion for that period. Now he’s homeless, eh? Don’t worry. Maria gave him 1 million Yen as allowance! That’s enough for him to last a whole year! Of course holding so much cash means attracting money-minded people like you know who. He also meets people who seem conveniently in dire need for money so generous Hayate gives them what they need till he is all broke. Yeah, homeless and broke now. Luckily he is found by Hinagiku as she takes him in. Funny thing about Hinagiku’s mom is that she is quite enthusiastic about Hayate and even wants to put girly clothes on him. He sure does have a girly face. Hayate stays in Yukiji’s room (she stays at school, remember?) as Hinagiku helps him study for his exams. Of course Hinagiku misinterprets that he had a fight with Ayumu. Soon all the people who received money from Hayate come to the mansion and return the money to Maria, prompting her to wonder where he is. She finds out that he is in school and decides to go undercover by dressing as a student to observe him. However she is stunning in it that the boys are starring at her and attracting unwanted attention. I’m not sure if those glasses help. Then Hayate and Maria come close in the elevator and both pretend to not know each other so Maria thinks of playing a little prank on him.
 
Maria must be really enjoying teasing Hayate in episode 7 because that kid’s face is so red. Then the elevator stops, he wants to apologize to her, they accidentally got into an ambiguous position and Hinagiku sees it. Before anything else could happen, Hayate and Maria escape. Hayate confirms who Maria is and when the latter realizes that she left Nagi home alone, she leaves. That night, Hayate and Hinagiku shop for dinner ingredients and after they reach home, they cook together. Then to her surprise she finds out he and Ayumu aren’t dating and her mind starts to run wild because she’s home alone with a single guy. You know what that means when 2 healthy kids are strung together. She panics and runs out, he chases after her. Hinagiku meets Ayumu on the way and with Hayate by her side, it’s Ayumu’s turn to misinterpret. She thinks they’re like newly-weds and have committed adultery?! Thankfully Hinagiku explains the truth. On their way home, they pick up a homeless black kitten and nurse it. As Hayate goes out to get some stuff, the girls chat as Hinagiku finds out the real background story about Hayate being in debt and all. Hinagiku decides to support Ayumu for Hayate.
 
Episode 8 is the day Hayate is allowed to return. Because Hinagiku’s mom is allergic to cats, Hayate brings it back with him. Nagi is happy to see them both and decides to take care of the cat which she calls Shiranui. Has she forgotten she has a cat? A big one? Yeah, that white talking tiger named Tama. Feeling abandoned, eh? Tama plans to get even or rather put the blame on Shiranui by making it shred Nagi’s manga work. Well, the kitten does it and because they didn’t really expect that, Nagi comes in and sees Tama as the one who shredded her work. Grrr… Plan backfired and he’s being locked away. Isumi pays Nagi a visit but it seems Shiranui doesn’t like her. So she goes to Sakuya for advice. She should have known better to come to this comedian for one. After soaking in the hotspring, Sakuya suggests changing her appearance and proceeds a total make over for Isumi. It is embarrassing for her to wear frilly skirts but if that’s what it takes to make the cat like her, then well so be it. On her next visit to the mansion, Hayate sprays a little diluted catnip extract on her so Shiranui instantly likes her and mentions that her usual kimono may have a smell that cats don’t like. Isumi gets upset when she finds out Sakuya made her go through all that embarrassing stuff. Isumi later successfully bonds with Shiranui and Tama is let out because as Hayate says, it is no fun without him. And all the photo shots of them are being sold by Sakuya to Wataru (that guy is totally taken by Isumi in a skirt).
 
Fortesia is really in love with Wataru no matter how she goes around in her thinking so in episode 9 she takes up his offer to rent his videos as an excuse to see him. However she notes his interaction with Saki and you know, doesn’t like the other woman. Soon a pair of bungling baddies accidentally kidnaps Saki so Fortesia asks how important she is to him. She’s like his family, you know. She further adds if he would kiss him if she saves her. What kind of thoughts are coming from this sister? Anyway Wataru kisses her cheek as advance payment. She goes into hyper mode and saves Saki unscathed by slicing the car in half. Wow! What’s worse than a crazy sister? A crazy sister fantasizing that she’s in love. Don’t mess with her. The next time Fortesia goes to rent videos from Wataru, Saki is not too happy over their ‘friendliness’ and gets this thirst to kill. All women have that instinct, I guess. In the second half, of all people to ask, Makimura had to ask Yukiji for advice on love. Yeah, she fakes that she’s soooo experienced in it. After that she reflects over her boyfriendless status and wants Hayate and Nagi to hold a social party so she can grab a boyfriend for herself. A rich one. Some teacher. Later she goes about trying to ask some people for some experience at a social party. It ends up having Hayate doing a mock confession to Izumi (one of the student council’s 3 stooges. Finally I get to remember their names). Yukiji put words in her mouth as part of her experiment and after realizing that boyfriends aren’t what she really wants because she loves booze more them, so to hell with boyfriends as she rushes to the social party for the booze. Speaking of which, the party is in a total mess.
 
Episode 10 starts with a short flashback on how Ayumu meet Hayate when he saved her from her speeding bicycle without brakes. That’s when she fell in love with him. In present time, Hayate intends to buy Hinagiku a birthday present when he bumps into Ayumu on the streets. He asks her for advice and what do you know, the 3 stooges show up and they all agree to help choose a present for Hinagiku. And yeah, Hinagiku spots her girls on the streets and thinks they’re ditching their duties. So she learns straight from Hayate’s mouth that he doesn’t have the right to date any girl because he doesn’t have money to support her for the rest of his life (I understand what you mean, Hayate). Furthermore, he got this idea during kindergarten when some girl told him if he wants to have a girlfriend he must be strong and have lots of money. Some concept that was. But good thing is at least Ayumu knows Hayate doesn’t hate her. Hayate goes home and after giving Nagi a hairpin as her present, he asks Maria when is her birthday but she avoids answering him. Thinking he may have said something wrong, he searches for her to apologize. Maria eventually tells him that her birthday was set to be 24th December. Why? She claims she doesn’t even know her real name or even how her parents look like. Hayate gives her a weird rabbit stuff doll as her present and promises to give her a much better present on her birthday. On an unrelated note, that rabbit doll seems to be a character from a TV show – "I’m an assassin from hell. It’s another day of massacre!". Don’t judge a book by its cover.
 
Hinagiku seems to be thinking a lot on Hayate lately though she denies she’s in love or whatsoever in episode 11. That’s what they all say. As tomorrow is the Hinamatsuri festival, Sakuya accidentally breaks a Hina doll. Isumi says that if the seal is broken, the unluckiest person will be cursed. Oh uh. You know who that is. So it is bloody shocking for Nagi and Maria when they see Hayate dressed in a maid outfit doing chores. Yeah, like their dreams of putting on girly clothes on Hayate came true. Even Hayate doesn’t realize it till Maria points it out. To Hayate’s horror, he can’t take it off. So we find out the curse was by a craftsman who has some sick fetish of cross-dressing and the only way to dispel it is to defeat the owner of the highest place in this area. In other words, beat Hinagiku at the top of the student council room, the clock tower. What else is new? Meanwhile Hinagiku is still confused about her feelings for Hayate and though Rin tries to point out, eventually Hinagiku thinks her unsettled feelings stemmed from their unsettled fight. Matters are made worse when Isumi hands a letter and her poor explanation makes Hinagiku to believe it is a challenge letter. On the day of the festival, Miki seems interested to know what Hayate is hiding underneath his cloak and chases him. Though he manages to lose her, he bumps into a loser butler, Kotetsu. He instantly falls in love with him! He isn’t going to let Hermione (the alias Hayate gave so as not to give away his identity) escape! He’s sure having a streak of bad luck.
 
Hayate is having a tough time getting away from Kotetsu’s persistent advances in episode 12. It gets worse when Miki (Kotetsu is her butler by the way) is enthusiastic in watching the developments. Furthermore, when she points out that Hayate is actually a boy, Kotetsu goes into a rage and thinks he’s like all the other girls who have betrayed him. WTF?! Hayate manages to give him the slip but Kotetsu kidnaps Nagi in order to lure him out. Hayate ends up over a cliff and that’s when the craftsman spirit appears. He is still sick even in death. After learning Nagi’s life is in danger, Hayate now couldn’t care less about his appearance and takes the shortest route to where she is. Right through the festival, even if it means everyone seeing him in that embarrassing outfit. While Hinagiku is forced to give the crowd a karaoke rendition, Nagi on the other hand spites Kotetsu for his actions. He’s going to regret ever kidnapping her. Besides, she’s a veteran of being kidnapped, you know. Now, you have got to love what that acid tongue girl says to him. "Your cheap love is the reason why you’re not popular with girls", "You care only about the physical appearance", "Where’s the heart?". All so true. By that time Hayate has arrived and is ready to give Kotetsu a piece of his mind. But Kotetsu has opened his eyes. He has realized. Thanks to Nagi, he can move on. No wait. He wants to move to Holland and marry Hayate because they legalize gay marriages there! Yeah, it’s gotten worse. So Nagi pounds him instead because Hayate belongs to her and only her. The craftsman after seeing how fierce Nagi is, uplifts Hayate curse. When Hayate goes back to his room he remembers that he has a match with Hinagiku. He rushes to the clock tower and finds Hinagiku sleeping there. Waited too long, eh?
 
So Hinagiku wakes up and thinks it’s part of his sneaky plan to take the enemy when she’s got her guard down. The battle begins in episode 13 as Hayate tries to reason with her. It seems the Masamune sword though gives Hinagiku great powers, its side effect cause her to be very emotional. Yup, she loses control of herself. Was it Hayate’s profuse apologies that got Hinagiku to stop short of striking his head? Whatever it was, it seems she calmed down and shed tears. Then she puts her head on his chest. Emotional alright. After that, he hands her his handmade cookies as her birthday present. Hayate learns that Hinagiku’s real biological parents went missing and left her with an 80 million Yen debt and they managed to get by because of Yukiji’s sly character before settling in a foster family who was a teacher in her school. Upon realizing she had a past, Hayate proceeds to show her the beautiful night lights of the city. Afraid at first, she soon is in awe of the magnificent view. That’s when she is really certain that she is in love with him. The next day, she is back to her happy self and though she notes it is great to be in love, she is still scared of heights. Maybe some things aren’t easily overcome.
 
After that filler popularity contest at the start of episode 14 (Hooray! Hinagiku tops it! The poll results are actual results, just to let you know), this episode has Isumi bumbling in one of her exorcism duties. Since she is not well since, Hayate is being tasked to visit her. He meets her mother Hatsu and realizes where Isumi gets her ditzyness and disorganized thinking. Yeah, it’s all in the genes. Even grandma. How could mummy and granny mistake the former for Nagi’s new butler? Then a real monster shows up but Isumi is too weak to exorcise it as it has her in its grasp. With a little focus, Hayate banishes the real monster after finding out the real one was just playing video games. WTF?! On the way back, there are many close instances to take Hayate’s life. There’s one where somebody groped Maria’s butt and put the blame on him. Hayate finds out the culprit to be some little girl in a voodoo-like mask. They confront, he kicks her face, she gets mad, unleashes great powers, but withers away. Yeah, she turns into a petite old hag. She’s supposed to be Isumi’s great grandma Ginko and she is out to kill Hayate in order to take his blood and maintain her youthfulness. Though Isumi notes she was doing it for her, Hayate feels guilty for kicking her face and allows her to suck his blood. Uh… Maybe she sucked too much. He’s like a zombie now.
 
A mysterious meteorite has crashed into Shimoda Onsen in episode 15 and it is rumoured to have potency values like increase in bust size, grades and healing lost spiritual powers. Uh huh. So a reason for some of the gang to head down and take a dip (not to mention the fanservice). Hayate, Maria and Nagi take a train there and seeing that the ladies have no common sense in the outside world, he’s got a tough time watching over time. Elsewhere, Ayumu starts her early cycling trip there. Seriously, she’s cycling the whole way? Then at a train stop, Nagi gets separated from her servants as the train leaves without her. So Hayate desperately wants to go save his milady but on the other hand, can’t leave Maria alone. Thankfully Hinagiku is on the same coach so he leaves Maria in her hands as he jumps out. Kids, never jump out from a running train ever. Don’t attempt this anyhow. Nagi’s wandering has her in some Russian ramen store. Call it a good thing or not because Ayumu happen to stop by. The duo continue their journey while exchanging light insults. I don’t know if they can reach in one piece. This probably gets tougher because a car with a group of masked terrorists pulls up and wonders which of them is Nagi but decides to kill them both anyway. Seriously, can a bicycle outrun a car? Not when your life is at stake.
 
So thinking that they’ve lost them in episode 16, Nagi learns that this bicycle is precious to Ayumu as her mom bought it for her. This doesn’t sit too well with Nagi so she gets off and tells her to continue the journey without her. Eventually the terrorists catch up but luckily so does Hayate. He makes a deal with Ginko to give Isumi his blood so she takes them all out with her powers. They meet up at the next station so Nagi wants Hayate to help Ayumu pedal to her destination seeing that this is her precious bike. As for Nagi and Maria, they’ll be in the safe hands of Hinagiku. On their way, they meet an obnoxious foreigner in their speed car and give them a taste of their own medicine. Hayate asks Ayumu what she wants for White Day so she feels she doesn’t need anything because she has him. Everyone reaches the destination safely. Nagi tired from the journey, dreams of her late mom who said she will support her as the stars in the sky before her passing 8 years ago. Later Nagi soaks in the hotspring with Sakuya but the former starts to act like a drunkard. Hayate catches hold of her. Wait a minute? Isn’t this the second time he sees her naked? And there’s no reaction from both sides whatsoever? Nagi thinking that there is no meteorite proof at the hotspring, concludes that a UFO crashed instead and it’s a first strike by the aliens! In her room, she’s praying real hard to meet that alien and hopes it will use its super technology to give her a sexy body. WTF?! Be careful what you wish for because an alien did crash into her room.
 
That alien Maya, seems to have been separated from her spaceship while doing research on the planet. So in episode 17 besides Hinagiku finding it real hard and in a dilemma to tell happy Ayumu that she loves Hayate, Nagi hides Maya from the rest as she helps Maya find her spaceship in return for a sexy body transformation. So that’s her motive, eh? Anyway the spaceship isn’t at the hotspring but at Isumi’s residence. Nagi sees Hayate at her doorstep and becomes suspicious. He’s here to keep his end of the deal and give his blood to Isumi as promised. Isumi doesn’t want to get his blood like this so she leaves. I don’t know why Kotetsu is there but he isn’t giving up on his gay love for Hayate. So when Nagi sees them… Yeah, she thinks he’s into this sort of things too. She throws a tantrum and unknowingly gets into the spaceship. Ginko gets upset for anyone who touches her ‘toy’ accidentally activates it so the spaceship blasts off with Nagi inside. There is one way to reach her before it’s too late. Yeah, some baseball guy will do the trick. This is going to hurt. A lot. Nagi regrets that she won’t be seeing Hayate again when to her surprise he shows up. Okay, I don’t know what Yukiji is doing in there besides getting drunk but Maya takes control of the spaceship, thanks them and before Hayate knows it, he’s in a dream state and thought of seeing a grown up version of Nagi. When he wakes up, he finds himself and Nagi sleeping next to a grave overseeing a tombstone. He learns Nagi’s mom, Yukariko was buried here. She was suffering from an illness and since the mother and daughter was always arguing, she died too soon and Nagi regrets that she should have made up with her. After everyone gathers for a celebration, Hayate alone at the tombstone apologizes to Yukariko on Nagi’s behalf and vows to protect her for the rest of his life.
 
Speaking of regret, in episode 18 though Ayumu did mention she didn’t want anything from Hayate for White Day, in her heart, she really does want something. Hayate is out on the streets to get something for Ayumu anyway so he bumps into Hinagiku for advice. She’s feeling guilty than ever. Hayate got some cookies and is practicing giving it to Ayumu at the park (of course Ayumu eavesdropping) so he accidentally gives it to Maria, who gladly accepts it. Then he sees Ayumu and makes a promise for her to wait here by 6pm because he has something to give her by then. His bad luck continues when he bumps into Hinagiku and she finds out what happened. Furthermore, he has no more money to buy that gift again. So she takes him to Donguri cafe belonging to her friend, Hokuto Kaga, so that he could bake his cookies. However the cafe which normally does not have many customers suddenly experiences a surge in them so Hayate has his hands full in serving them. Luckily Maria and Hinagiku had heard all about it and lend him a hand so he could bake his cookies in peace before the deadline. He manages to give Ayumu the cookies, making her feeling very happy. That night, while Hinagiku walks home, she gets a pleasant surprise from Hayate as he too gives her his homemade cookies for all that she has done.
 
Nagi decides a change of pace in her life in episode 19 and wishes to follow Hayate to buy his new handphone. No guys, you’re not dreaming nor is this an April Fool’s joke. At a crowded store, Nagi gets lost though she pins the blame on Hayate. Of course with her small stature, it’s no surprise that the lost and found employee would mistake her for a lost child (which she really is). While waiting in the room, Nagi is confronted by 3 young punks teasing and mocking her. She decides to fight them all via Hayate No Gotoku Trading Card game! Wow. Some shameless advertising of their products, eh? I suppose all the illustrations are from the real cards itself. The power ups, the combos, you know those sort of stuff. Because the heroine of the show can’t lose, she eventually unleashes some super combo to defeat the trio. When Hayate arrives, he sees Nagi being treated like a boss so she gets embarrassed and starts denying everything. In the second part, Sakuya’s birthday is coming up so all she wants from Hayate is a good laugh. Easy? Not. So with Nagi, the duo observe anything funny that may arise from Maria’s actions. Since they can’t be a stalker, Hayate is being suggested to do a comical jab. The one whereby hitting he person with a paper fan whenever a joke arises. Nagi and Sakuya sure must be enjoying this. After having several close shaves, Hayate thinks he finally hears Maria says something funny. He rushes over to slap the fan but slips and accidentally hugs her instead. Pissed off Nagi hammers him. Sakuya sure is enjoying this. Later Sakuya thanks Hayate for the wonderful joke and hopes he’ll do his best on the real day. Yeah, that was just practice you see. I guess she can’t help wanting more because Sakuya is watching Wataru trying to jab Isumi. Can her ever jab at her cute face?
 
The reason why Rin’s soul can’t rest in peace and go to heaven was because he has a regret. And that regret in episode 20 is… He wants to flirt! And this guy was a priest in his life?! He thinks of flirting with Maria but she can’t see him. He and Hayate go to Isumi for help and since taking over somebody’s body to flirt is out of the question, Rin has Isumi dressed up as a maid but since Isumi does not have the spirit of a maid, Rin loses interest. However Isumi is adamant on seeing this mission through and will learn what it takes to obtain the spirit of a maid. This includes eavesdropping on Nagi’s interrogation on Wataru on what he thinks on maids (how embarrassing for that guy once he finds out). So Isumi is ready to show her maid spirit as she spins but trips on her long skirt. Considering that a failure, Sakuya suggests to introduce a real maid instead. One she has recently hired and is working part time at one of her cafes. She is Haru and is exuding all the moe appeals a maid should have which could make the slightest otaku geek go gaga. She teaches Isumi how to be a maid like wearing a shorter skirt and putting on fake smiles. At the end of the day, Isumi gets by and Rin is satisified. So is he ready to go to heaven? Not yet. Actually that was just an April Fool’s joke as he has more regrets and won’t be resting in peace soon. Isumi is near breaking point that she has been put through all those embarrassing moments and is going to send him to heaven anyway. While Isumi chases after him, Hayate is bewildered when Haru thanks him for taking care of her master (not Sakuya). Then Hayate is send crashing into the house so furious Maria has him clean it up in a maid outfit. It is revealed that Haru is actually Chiharu, one of Hakuou’s student council members. She thinks that Hayate and co don’t recognize her because she doesn’t deal directly with them. Plus, she doesn’t want Hinagiku to find out she is working as a maid.
 
Tama gets more screen time in all the other episodes combined in episode 21. A short flashback how young Nagi found him in the heart of Africa and proceeded to be its mom and take care of him. Wait a minute. There are no white tigers in Africa. So how? Yeah, her pals must be thinking it has to be a cat then. Anyway Tama as usual doesn’t like Hayate and Shiranui because with those 2, Nagi pays lesser attention to him. So on an attempt to get back at Shiranui, Tama accidentally gets locked up in a delivery truck with the cat to parts unknown. Can this spoilt feline survive? He’s having a hard time trying not to get spot by humans because he’s thinking that they will shoot him to death upon sight. Hayate finds out about Tama’s case from Rin (who is watching eternal reruns of Isumi’s maid skirt tripping. Sick guy!). Tama finds Shiranui and for once is glad to be with it. Seems that they’re not far away (not in another district at least) because they spot Miki and Izumi. Shiranui steals Izumi’s handphone with GPS but even with directions, he couldn’t possible know where his home is. So he turns to the forums for help instead. Mostly unwanted and unrelated comments except an anonymous one which proves helpful. As Tama follows the directions, he then sees Shiranui playing with a hand puppet in the middle of the street. Hey! Isn’t that Pucchan from Gokujou Seitokai?! What is he doing here?! Anyway it’s lifeless without someone having to put his/her hands through it. Then Tama is in a dilemma to save Shiranui from an oncoming truck or not. In the end, he decides to save Shiranui and puts his life in danger. Before Tama becomes road kill, Hayate swiftly appears and saves them both. However Tama’s cover has been busted and the crowd alerted of a tiger’s presence. But Hayate disperses them by saying that this couldn’t be a tiger because it looks ugly and is just a costume. Now he feels like ripping the butler apart. When the gang arrive home, we find out that Nagi was the anonymous sender who helped Tama. Their bond sure goes back a long way.
 
In episode 22, Nagi asks Hayate what he wants for his birthday and his reply is a wristwatch. Thus Nagi shocks everyone by deciding to work so that she could buy him that gift. She ends up at Donguri but Hayate is there to keep an eye out for her. Guess who is there working part time too? It’s Ayumu. The rivalry is still there. It’s like a cat and a dog, oil and water, fire and ice. You could feel the tension. So the battle to see who could do better begins. But it seems Nagi can handle the work pretty well. Then a famous mangaka enters but he starts breaking down after getting lost in his plot for his story. After getting a good lecture and coffee brew from Nagi, he calms down and gets inspiration to go on. Wow. The master getting a lesson from his fan. Maria who is worried on how Nagi is doing, disguises herself in a nurse outfit (probably must be the SPs sick fetish) and patrons the cafe. Of course both sides pretend to not know each other. Then the mangaka returns and instantly falls for Maria. He wants to marry her! Hayate intercepts and after thinking how not to give away Maria’s identity, says that she is a man! That guy believes it and leaves. Yeah, another cheap love based on appearance, I guess. Maria is not too happy and gives Hayate a long lecture.
 
It’s Sakuya’s birthday in episode 23 and Chiharu is disheartened to learn that Sakuya’s pals include Hayate and the rest. This means there is a high chance her cover will be blown. We learn she took up this maid job when her dad’s company is going to bust. Noticing how some maids aren’t doing their job properly and wanting to show them the proper way, she takes up the offer. But soon after her dad’s company was saved after an investment group showed up. Chiharu learns that Nagi is too tired from her part time job to attend so in a way she is happy. But her happiness is short lived when a student council member, Aiko, spots and recognizes her instantly. Chiharu starts to panic and pleads to keep this a secret. Her actions tell us otherwise. Big trouble. Because Wataru is the only childhood friend that turn up, Sakuya has him do some onstage comedy. Urm… His finger trick is lame. Eventually Nagi and Hayate did show up for the party and while Sakuya is comforting Wataru in the waiting room, they get into an ambiguous position that anyone could misinterpret. And that person happens to be Isumi. You just wish she’d be lost at this moment. And now that Hayate is here, Sakuya has him do the onstage comedy. But Hayate is a natural. The crowd is going wild with the lines that I can’t comprehend. He may be better than Leno, Lettermen or O’Brien! Then later the gang meets part of Sakuya weird family (her dad doing strip talk show?). Nagi walks away after seeing how close they are. On the other hand, Hinagiku is surprise to see Ayumu working at Donguri. She makes up her mind to tell Ayumu her feelings for Hayate.
 
Ayumu and Hinagiku take a walk in episode 24 but to Hinagiku’s horror, Ayumu wants to ride a Ferris wheel. Though Ayumu finds out her fear of heights, she manages to take her mind of it. That’s when Hinagiku confesses her love for Hayate and that she has betrayed her. Ayumu isn’t surprise because she was expecting they’re already dating and have done all sort of things (wink, wink). Plus, Ayumu remains positive and optimistic that no matter who Hayate loves, she’ll make him look at her eventually. So a race to see who’s first to sweep Hayate off his feet? Meanwhile Nagi has gone missing so the gang searches for her. Sakuya learns Hayate has a missing older brother and because of her onii-chan complex, she wants to call him one. Eventually Hayate finds Nagi staring at the moon from a rooftop. She tells of her loneliness so he assures her that she has a family in the form of himself and Maria (I guess Klaus and Tama aren’t that prominent, eh?). However Nagi points out that Maria too will one day leave her when she falls in love and all that stuff. Hayate, needing to comfort Nagi at her depressing point, pulls off that lame finger trick and earns her wrath. Nagi instantly hugs Maria when she comes as Sakuya unleashes a lavish fireworks display. This is her birthday party, right?
 
Nagi falls sick in episode 25 after all that recent ‘hectic’ activities. I guess being ill doesn’t mean she still can’t be sarcastic or a spoilt princess. When she finds out she and Hayate are the only ones in the mansion (the rest went out for a while), she gets flustered. But not wanting to be alone, she requests him to stay by her side. He reads a twisted picture storybook of Alice In Wonderland (Hinagiku as Alice and her 3 Stooges as rabbits – Playboy bunny outfits, that is). Maria comes back and finds her not really resting but Nagi wants Hayate to entertain her for the next 3 hours and sends him to go buy Packy sticks. Before that she secretly puts a tiny camera on his bowtie so she and Maria could have fun watching his adventures. Of course, bad luck Hayate experiences a string of misfortune along the way and I’m not sure if Nagi and Maria are enjoying it. His bad luck include needing to cross-dress and work part time at a maid cafe after forgetting to bring his wallet and going to every store only to find Packy has been sold out. This is why it is sold out. Hayate sees everyone eating Packy on the streets! Some urge or his bad luck. Then Hinagiku and her 3 Stooges saw how pitiful he is without one and proceed feed him, much to Nagi’s dismay. Not giving up, Hayate goes to a secret phantom store and just his luck, there is 1 Packy left! However Ayumu picks it. Hayate is bent on taking it from her but Ayumu buts on her cute innocent face so I don’t think he’s got the heart to do so.
 
He searched high and low and till the ends of the Earth and still no Packy. Frustrating. Refusing to give up, he goes to Donguri and makes his own Packy! On his way back, Hayate got into an accident with a truck. Nagi is very distraught and guilty that she sent her butler to her death over a little snack. Just as she’s about to leave, he pops up fine. So we hear he did get banged by the lorry but was saved by a super bouncy football. Wow. Kids, remember to have such a ball in hand. He hands the broken Packy snack to Nagi and though only a stick, it is the best snack Nagi ever tasted. That’s because of all the effort he put in. So appreciate it, girl. Hayate also says he knew about the secret camera all along because he’s her butler so he knows everything about her (thank God he’s not a stalker). Nagi is able to rest in peace and that night as Hayate accompanies her and sits sleeping, Nagi pecks his cheek. The new school term begins and is Nagi ready to go to school or keep faking her illness? Yeah, if she can still shout like that, might as well.
 
So ends another season. However I feel that this season is not as wacky as its predecessor. Though partly that’s because the number of episodes have been halved, this season made several developments between some of the characters. While obviously it is Hayate and Nagi (heck, they’re the main protagonists – besides their love development still like that lah, so-so only), it was also mainly on Hinagiku and Ayumu. Their character development was mainly on their feelings for Hayate. I don’t know but I think it’s just me but I find Hinagiku having some sort of an ego problem while she’s sorting out her feelings for Hayate. On the contrary, Ayumu was the cooler one though she may be a simpleton. Because of that, I find Hinagiku to a certain extent exuding less cool and calm personality than in the previous season. Like Ayumu said, love isn’t about losing or winning. Probably never-been-in-love-before Hinagiku got that mixed up. Who will win the race to Hayate’s heart? Or will it ultimately be Nagi or the appearance of a 3rd unknown outsider? Or maybe he’s still into 2D girls and got no money to support a girl.
 
Speaking of the other characters, I felt that some of the other characters from the first season have been sidelined. It’s like it could have been done without them. For instance the butlers Nonomura and Himuro and the names of their young masters that I have forgotten. The first episode did fans a favour by introducing a host of the main and supporting characters like them but they hardly make any appearance in other episodes and even if they did, it was just a handful of seconds. Just like Makimura and her robot boyfriend Eight. Worse screen time than Klaus and Tama. Hey, that vile superintendent of Hakuou, Kuzuha and her servant, Shion, did not even make a single appearance! Whatever happened to them? What about Nagi’s grandpa, Mikado? And I still don’t understand the significance of that pendant he gave Hayate back in the first season. Didn’t play a prominent role here, eh?
 
As for the new characters, they did not leave much impact either. After the first few episodes of the initial arc, I thought I would see more of Fortesia but she too was reduced to a minor character after that. Rin is just bumming around and Ginko is just prominent during the Shimoda Onsen arc. Kotetsu is hilarious but Hayate really wished he was locked up somewhere and the key thrown away for good. And the producers even have the cheek not only to introduce new characters in the last episode but in the final few seconds of it! Total viewers teasing, I’d say. As far as I can remember, those 2 new students in Hakuou did make their brief appearance in the OVA. I was wondering when they’d show up and to my surprise it is at this moment. Not to mention some blonde little milady-like girl that seems to be connected to Hayate in his past. So yeah, other than the character developments, there were developments in some of the characters’ past as well like Hinagiku, Maria and Nagi which offers interesting insights. Yeah well, like they say if you want to know more about those mysterious characters, read the manga.
 
I think it’s my ignorance on the knowledge of otaku culture parodies that I find this season totally lacks in as compared with the first. Well, the fansubbers didn’t prompt so naturally I wouldn’t even realize a parody has occurred. Therefore the out-of-this-world hilariousness is less but not to a complete zero. I guess they replaced those parodies and trivia which you’d see very much abundant in the first season with the developments that I have mentioned. Just for the record. I’ve spot a few besides the one I’ve mentioned in my blog (nothing to be proud of, seriously) such as Street Fighter, Yugioh and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The mid-intermission for this season too is different. No more random lines but a pair of cards featuring still pictures of characters in focus of that episode in some position or certain action. The title of each episode too seemed toned down and lacks that wacky and witty punch which I felt the predecessor has.
 
Both the opening themes are lively and upbeat pop pieces. The first opening is by ELISA, Wonder Wind while the second opening is Daily-daily Dream by KOTOKO. Those familiar with KOTOKO’s singing style will be glad to know that she still maintains them here just like how she did for the themes in the first season. The first ending theme, Honjitsu Mankai Watashi Iro features a karaoke outing with Hinagiku and her 3 Stooges. Sounds pretty good. Why not, it’s Hinagiku’s seiyuu of course, Shizuka Itou. I find the second ending theme a little bit weird. Though the techno dance beat of Karakoi ~Dakara Shoujo Wa Koi Wo Suru~ by the seiyuus of Nagi and Hayate (Rie Kugimiya and Ryoko Shiraishi respectively) feels like one of those tsundere love songs Nagi and Hayate would sing about, I find it weird every time Nagi says "Zo!".
 
I’m not sure if they are going to make another third season out of it since they did not announce it at the end, just like how they did in the first season. Perhaps they were just testing to see if they were able to retain the fans’ interest. Hmm… Not so sure since as I have said there were half the number of episodes as compared to the first season. But with so much promising developments, it’s hard not to continue even if they have budget problems like the eternally broke and bad luck stricken butler. Even with his streak of misfortune, in a way Nagi is his blessing in disguise, don’t you think? But even if they do come out with a sequel, you can bet that I will be just like Hayate, always loyal ever ready to serve his milady no matter what it takes. Yeah, count me in for the ride. Anime, the Nagi of my life. Just that I don’t have a 150 million Yen debt to my name.
 

Hayate No Gotoku

Kanon VS Clannad

May 1, 2010

I was bored. So I decided to do a versus comparison between another anime series that are produced by the same company, Key. I’m sure viewers who have watched the original version of Kanon and Clannad would definitely identify with the trademark art and drawing especially the character designs. Both started out as adult visual novels before being adapted into a drama, romance and fantasy genre anime TV series. Though I have never played the games before, I’m pretty sure it follows some path in it. I think.

The main guy
Kanon: Yuichi Aizawa.
Clannad: Tomoya Okazaki.

The harem girls
Kanon: Ayu Tsukimiya, Nayuki Minase, Makoto Sawatari, Shiori Masaka and Mai Kawasumi.
Clannad: Nagisa Furukawa, Tomoyo Sakagami, Kotomi Ichinose, Kyou Fujibayashi and Fuko Ibuki.

The non-harem girls
You know the saying, too many cooks spoil the broth? So I guess these girls may not serve as the main love interest for the main guy but play more supporting roles.
Kanon: Sayuri Kurata, Kaori Misaka and Mishio Amano.
Clannad: Ryou Fujibayashi, Yukine Miyazawa and Mei Sunohara.

The other guy
So it will look like the main guy isn’t hogging all the girls but heck, these best pals for the main guy are just secondary and usually losers.
Kanon: Jun Kitagawa.
Clannad: Youhei Sunohara.

The (main) girl the main guy ended up with
Spoilers…
Kanon: Ayu.
Clannad: Nagisa.
Hmm… Both seemed like airheads too.

Her goal
Refers to the main girl’s aim in the series.
Kanon: To find something she lost but can’t remember what it was.
Clannad: To establish a drama club in school.

Her favourite food
Refers to the main girl’s favourite food.
Kanon: Taiyaki.
Clannad: Dango.

Her catchphrase.
What the main girl usually says.
Kanon: “Uguu~”.
Clannad: “~Desu”.

The main guy’s life and thus the plot
Kanon: Amnesiac Yuichi comes back to his hometown after 7 years. He meets the girls who once knew him as their interaction slowly return their memories and those around them.
Clannad: Delinquent Tomoya thinks his school life is dull and sucks. When he finds a girl 1 year his senior alone, he hangs out with her and slowly his life shifts towards a new direction.

His torment
Sort of mental of physical scar.
Kanon: Yuichi experiences mental trauma when his then childhood friend fell out of a tree and believed to have died but actually has been in coma in hospital.
Clannad: After a heated argument with his father, Tomoya’s shoulder becomes permanently injured after a fight as he can no longer lift his arms higher than his shoulders.

His parents
The main guy’s relationship with his parents
Kanon: Assuming he has a normal relationship with his parents, his return to town was due to his parent’s job posting in Africa. He currently lives with his cousin Nayuki and her mom Akiko in their home.
Clannad: Tomoya’s mom died in an accident when he was young causing daddy to be an unemployed bum and an alcoholic gambler. Thus the strained distant relationship as Tomoya lives alone or sometimes with his friend Sunohara at the dorm run by Sanae Sagara.

Ghost girl
Not really dead. But I guess their spirit is so strong, they could materialize like as though they’re living a normal life. Sort of.
Kanon: Ayu.
Clannad: Fuko.

Sick girl
Refers to the girl suffering from an illness since they are born physically weak and not some sick fetish fantasies.
Kanon: Shiori.
Clannad: Nagisa.

Siblings
Related by blood.
Kanon: Shiori and Kaori are sisters.
Clannad: Kyou and Ryou are twins while Mei and Sunohara are siblings.

Tough chic
The girl who can fight back. No need Prince Charming for protection.
Kanon: Mai – a swords(wo)man who take it upon herself to fight demons at school at night.
Clannad: Tomoyo – part of the student council and eventually its president. Fights to save the sakura trees from being cut down.

Brute girl/prankster
Can’t leave our main guy alone, can’t she? Perhaps her way of showing her love?
Kanon: Makoto – her mischievous personality has her making several pranks on Yuichi.
Clannad: Kyou – If you bully her twin sister, she’s going to throw a very heavy dictionary at you. Better learn to dodge.

Smart girl
Brains over brawns (personally can’t say about the beauty, though).
Kanon: Kaori.
Clannad: Kotomi.

Student council president
Kanon: The arrogant and full-of-himself student council president, Kuze, wants Mai expelled after events that has happened during the dance event.
Clannad: Tomoyo works hard to become the school’s student council president.

Cat
Furry feline. Meow…
Kanon: Piro is a Siamese cat belonging to Nayuki and lives with her.
Clannad: Misae’s pet cat Shima is the reincarnation of a deceased boy’s cat who was given the duty of granting Misae’s wish before he died.

Other pet animals
Kanon: Makoto was once Yuichi’s pet fox before she died and reincarnated.
Clannad: Botan is Kyou’s little pet wild boar.

Little round things in the air
You know those floating phenomena… Sort of.
Kanon: Snow (note the setting of the entire city is covered with them).
Clannad: Light orbs (believed to represent spirits of the deceased or life from another world).

Number of episodes
Kanon: The original 2002 version has 13 episodes while the 2006 remake expands it to 24 episodes. Prior to the remake there is a special episode called Kanon Kazahana.
Clannad: The first season ran for 23 episodes and the second season called Clannad ~After Story~ which is a direct sequel spans 24 episodes. There has been 2 OVA episodes released which focuses on Tomoyo and Kyou-Ryou chapter and a movie length feature.

Conclusion
Yeah, like I said so I was bored so perhaps this versus blog isn’t much. Furthermore I have never watched the remake of the Kanon series and unlike Yuichi, my memories seems on the original one seems to be fading rather than being refreshed. Because of that, if you ask me, I’d prefer Clannad since I have watched all the episodes (except the film) and also the original art and drawing of Kanon isn’t as refined as the remake. Plus, the former has many laughing moments that I still remember (keeping fingers crossed that it will stay that way). Fuko is still my favourite character and stands above all. As both sides deal with memories and life, it isn’t what we do or have done in life but rather how we deal with them that matters.

Kanon Clannad