Nodame Cantabile Finale

October 30, 2010

As the name suggests, Nodame Cantabile Finale is probably the final season for the anime series. My little research on Wikipedia has me discovered that the manga itself too has ended around October 2009 so I guess it is high time that the series that was first given the anime treatment back in 2007 will finally come to a close too, no? Well, nothing lasts forever. Unless you’re talking about Naruto. Haha! Just joking! As for classical music, I suppose they’ll be around much longer as long as we humans retain interests in them.

For those who have watched the prequels, you would be bloody familiar who the pianist prodigy, Megumi Noda or more fondly known as Nodame is. You don’t need any more introductions when you hear her familiar trademarks of “Gyabo!” and “Mukya!”. That faithful meeting with her self proclaimed boyfriend-cum-husband senpai of hers, the perfectionist and arrogant Shinichi Chiaki, has them on a crazy ride in terms of relationship and studies in music which has taken them from Japan to Paris. For newbies who want to know more, go read my previous blog or watch the entire series from the start. The live action drama if you wish also.

In this third instalment, Chiaki and Nodame continue to hone their skills in Paris and hopefully we would see some development between the 2 lovebirds. Hopefully. As episode 1 begins, we see Nodame practising real hard on her piano till she forgot to attend Chiaki’s Roux-Marlet Orchestra performance. Sure, the clock died but you can’t blame it all on it can’t you? It’s like saying your dog ate your homework. This was what happened earlier. Chiaki decides to move out from his apartment for the time being because it is a little noisy and distracting (he bought a little car in the previous season). Nodame tells her desire to her professor Auclair that she wants to enter a competition but that Master Yoda (that’s what Nodame calls him) disagrees and gives her assignments of pieces to work on. Chiaki stays at Nina’s place but develops a fever as he is working too hard. With Chiaki gone, I guess it’s obvious Nodame isn’t her cheery self. But the other occupants of the apartment sure are. Remember the Russian Tanya, the Chinese Yun Long, and the anime otaku of the same level as Nodame, Frank? Yeah, they’re all still here. Tanya and Yun Long argue because it seems they are entering the same competition.

So the night of Chiaki’s performance, Nodame rushes all the way there and missed the first piece. Hey, it’s better than missing the whole show. Then Chiaki conducts and plays the piano at the same time. I don’t know how he did that but he astounded the crowd. After the performance, Nodame confronts Chiaki. She isn’t happy that he is climbing the ladder all by himself. Chiaki has a short flashback of how his dad left the family because he can’t concentrate no his music. Rui and her date are having dinner and since that guy is worried about kissing and the likes, it was bright of Rui to dump him because she knows she’s wasting her time getting excited over him. Tell that right to his face! Nodame continues her piano lesson under Maginot but the teacher notices her playing style quite irritated. Nodame tells her about her boyfriend problems. Later Maginot talks to Auclair that she thinks Nodame should be prepared to enter competitions since she is improving tremendously but Auclair doesn’t want to undo all the progress they have made as she is in a crucial period now. Nodame gets a call from Lambert from St Malo and she is over the moon since she is going to hold her first saloon concert.

Nodame is about to relay the good news to Chiaki in episode 2 but her happiness turns into despair when she learns he is moving out to a place of his own. Poor Nodame thinks he hates her! Though Chiaki says he wants to focus on his studies and be independent. So over the so called ‘Last Supper’ with Chiaki, Nodame tells him her first concert. He promises he will come. Sure Chiaki probably tried to cheer Nodame up by allowing her to visit his new place whenever she felt like it. But given an inch, she wants a mile and even asks how long it takes to reach his place or give a spare key to his room. As expected, Chiaki changes his mind and never wants her to come. Later Chiaki gets a call from his mom from Japan telling him not to neglect his angel Nodame. That night Nodame take stalking pictures of Chiaki sleeping before pecking him on his forehead and leaving. Rui manages to have Auclair as her teacher. But it seems having lessons at his home isn’t what she is hoping for. Spending more time cooking? Even talented pianists like can have drawbacks like not being able to cook well. So it’s not surprising when she starts reflecting back on the troubles she had to go to persuade Auclair to be her teacher and he even spend more quality lesson time with Nodame than her. Rui goes back to her messy apartment and finds her mom there. She is planning for Rui’s next performance (she’s been taking a whole year off already) but Rui wishes not to make any while studying here. Mommy is persistent so Rui got fed up and left. That’s why it’s important to leave without an empty stomach. Now she’s got nowhere to go and hungry. Who is the first person she calls? Why, Chiaki of course. He so happen to have finished his orchestra practice (they got dumped out by ballet girls wanting to use the hall?).

Chiaki and Rui dine at a restaurant in episode 3 as she tells him her issues like wanting to get away from piano but her mom wouldn’t let her, etc. They also talk about the time they performed together and since Chiaki said he had a lot of fun, Rui starts to fall for him (gasp!). Since Rui got rejected to go to Chiaki’s new place, she heads back and finds her place cleaned up and mommy sleeping. Rui starts playing the piano and her beautiful play wakes mommy up. Next morning, her mom leaves and is glad to know Rui is playing piano because she wants to. Rui expresses her desire to play piano with Chiaki conducting. News report that a famous conductor Salvatore Lippi has passed on. Many are saddened of his passing and Stresemann not only becomes gloomy but acts like a kid, much to assistant Elise’s dismay. Chiaki then gets a call to perform with Rui via Wiltord Orchestra. The night Nodame is to play her saloon concert, there is a transport strike, thus the reason why everywhere is jammed up. Chiaki sees a poster that Lippi’s orchestra will be conducted by Viella in his place (I changed his name spelling from Viera from my previous blog since it his name is officially spelt this way). Speaking of the devil, Chiaki sees Viella in the crowded bus. They happily reunited. Viella offers Chiaki to come see him rehearse so understandably Chiaki can’t let this chance slip and has to give Nodame’s one a miss. Nodame astounds the crowd with her piano play. During the break when she gets word Chiaki isn’t able to come, she remains her composure and professionalism. At the end of her performance, several ladies congratulate her over her fine play. They wonder why she hasn’t enter any competition so when Nodame says she wasn’t allowed to by Auclair, they think it’s best not to tell her what to do and wish her luck for her next performance. Lambert congratulates Nodame over her improved performance so Nodame leaves but she doesn’t seem happy. Was it Chiaki’s no-show?

Chiaki returns to apologize to Nodame and explain his chance meeting with Viella in episode 4. Though Nodame is okay with it, she is unhappy she didn’t get any offers to perform another concert. Next morning, Chiaki tells Nodame that he will be leaving for Italy to study under Viella at an opera house where he works. Before Nodame leaves with Lucas to walk together to school, Chiaki suggests they attend Lippi’s memorial concert tomorrow by Viella. It was so great that it reduced Nodame to tears! Meanwhile Tanya is heartbroken that her crush Kuroki is hanging out with another girl. And she thought nobody else would fall for a plain guy like him, eh? Though she learns Kuroki’s girl was being asked by his professor to take care of him (being selfish and disturbing neighbours with her incessant playing), Tanya decides to help him out and allows her to move into her apartment. I’m not sure if this is her plan of winning Kuroki’s heart but she doesn’t seem to happy Kuroki is always visiting her and doing her errands. Not to mention the apartment is getting noisier and noisier with all the pianists practising real hard. Keep it down! Yeah it was wise of Chiaki to move out. Probably Tanya’s worries has her put her soul and emotion into her play so much so her teacher is astounded that she improved so much just before her graduation. One day Tanya spots Kuroki’s girl really down so she concludes she didn’t pass. Call it relief or what since she is going back to Japan doing bakery as they hold a cheer party for her. Tanya sees Kuroki sleeping alone as she kisses him.

Tanya and Yun Long are performing at the same competition in episode 5. Tanya is surprised that the crowd likes it and may be able to pull it off while Yun Long is nervous but manages to get by. Tanya qualifies for the next round but Yun Long is out. The gang learns Yun Long will be going back to China and probably open his own music shop. He even proposes to them if they can’t find a job, they can come work for him there. Is that an insult? Yun Long calls Chiaki to go see Tanya’s competition with Kuroki. Tanya is confident of making the next round but her name didn’t show up. Because of that, she sinks into depression and locks herself in her room. Attempts by the gang to get her out failed so Nodame calls Chiaki for help. I’m sure Kuroki was the secret weapon that got Tanya out of her room. Nodame and Frank go see the final round of the competition and were amazed by the high level of the performance. Kuroki learns that Tanya was betting her future on this competition. Her chances of going home are higher since she failed to produce any results. Kuroki doesn’t mind sharing his room with her as long as she can continue schooling but the rest thinks it’s some confession. But Tanya isn’t happy and runs back to her room. That’s when Nodame barges into the room in high spirits. She tells him about the tremendous final round piece and wishes to play it with Chiaki. She is reluctant to name the piece as she thought it would jinx it but eventually lets him know it’s a piece from Ravel and demonstrates it. But Chiaki doesn’t seem excited because that is the piece he is supposed to play with Rui. He just couldn’t tell her. Tanya laments why she didn’t use her time more wisely while Nodame’s plea to enter a competition gets shot down again by Auclair. Not feeling too good now, isn’t she?

Chiaki is in a dilemma over that Ravel piece in episode 6. Though he intends to tell Nodame but that quirky girl eventually found out about it via Yun Long. Chiaki must’ve known what’s coming for him when he sees a ghostly Nodame. Prepare yourself. Obviously she’s disappointed so the duo chat. Chiaki decides to help Nodame as he coaches her the pieces she is assigned to play by Auclair. Nodame need not worry anything else except playing piano because her meals and laundry are taken care of by Chiaki. He’s being doing that since the day they met, right? Because of that, Chiaki decides to cancel his trip to Italy since he wants to make the journey with her this time. They continue to practice and study the pieces thoroughly (not to mention spending quality time together). Probably they’ve been doing all that music theory and notes all day so it was quite a pleasant surprise when they kissed! That wasn’t a fluke, that’s for sure. Tanya sees Kuroki as the latter mentions he wishes her to be his accompaniment for a competition he is going to enter. Nodame isn’t a selfish girl so using the tortoise and the hare example that Chiaki as a rabbit can’t run forever and must take a break, she wishes him to go study his own materials too since his performance with Rui is coming up.

As Chiaki performs with the Roux-Marlet Orchestra’s Subscription Concert in episode 7, he learns Nodame didn’t turn up like she always did. He knows she is focusing on her piece. Then during her lesson with Auclair, Nodame notices he didn’t address her as Bebe-chan anymore and is ecstatic that she may have graduated in some way. She was so happy that she forgot to ask for tickets for Chiaki-Rui’s concert. She wouldn’t have if Lucas didn’t remind her. Luckily Chiaki foresee this and has reserved several tickets for her and her pals. She would happily go pick up the tickets but Chiaki says he will bring them over instead since he will be stopping by at Rui’s to practice. Nodame sinks into depression over this ‘betrayal’. This allowed Nodame to play effectively a piano piece that is filled with depression and sadness. Till Maginot gives her play a cheery piece. No mood for that, eh? Rui could’ve been Nodame no. 2 for Chiaki if he had started cleaning her filthy room. He learns about Rui’s dad who was more into jazz music. Rui and Chiaki practice with the orchestra and they think they’re going to have a swell time with a talent like her around. On the night of the much awaited performance, everyone makes their way into the concert hall with much anticipated. Seems most of them looks up to Rui but not Chiaki. Probably they have different views on what he’s like :). Nodame sees Auclair attending too.

Nodame is pretty confident that though they’ll give a wonderful performance, that piece won’t suit them in episode 8. Too bad Nodame has to eat her words once she sees how magnificent Rui is. It’s no surprise that the performance exceeds all expectations to a rousing standing ovation. Nodame goes to see Chiaki and wishes to stay at his place. Chiaki allows though he will be leaving early tomorrow to Italy. Chiaki can tell Nodame is acting weird but did he expect her to suddenly jump and hug him? Next morning, before he leaves, Nodame (covering herself in a blanket like a Jedi?) springs a surprise. She wants Chiaki to marry her! But Chiaki brushes it off and leaves. Even if it was a bad joke, he couldn’t classify it as one because she had that serious look in her eyes. Because of that, his mind is clouded with that and paid no attention playing poker with Jean and couldn’t focus his concentrating in Viella’s rehearsal. Stresemann returns to Paris (probably not for anything good if we know him) and sees Nodame. He is the same flirty dirty old bastard but he is taken aback when Nodame starts crying. He hears her out and from the way she says things, she has had it with this kind of life. Nothing but music day in day out. Stresemann has her show her the results of her studies. Stresemann, not sure if he turned into some cult figure or what, he extends his hands to help her out and wants him to ditch Chiaki for him. It’s like making a contract with the devil as he narrates how he’ll be her servant and she’ll do the same on the other side for him. I guess Nodame was at her weakest moment and confused so she reaches out to him.

Though word has Nodame being sick and unable to attend class for 3 days in episode 9, she goes missing. Chiaki gets word of it and calls back to Japan to see if she has gone back there. Ah yes. All our season 1 characters make their brief appearances her such as Chiaki’s family, Mine and Masumi. But that’s about it. She’s not there. Maginot is worried that something might have happened to her since she and Auclair were secretly preparing her for a competition (Nodame doesn’t know about this). Nodame is with Stresemann as he introduces the ‘lifeless’ girl to his British orchestra that he will be performing with. They are amazed with her talent. Chiaki learns from Elise that Nodame is going to make her debut performance with Stresemann in London. Nodame is the talk of the town since she is a relative unknown with no competition wins to her name and yet a famous maestro made last minute changes to include her in his performance, she must be really something, right? Chiaki attends the concert and after the lengthy orchestra intro of Chopin’s piece, it’s Nodame’s turn to shine. Her magic finger work is making Stresemann a hard time to keep up but overall she didn’t wreck the music and maintains everyone with her power. Chiaki realized that God probably made him ‘stranded’ in Japan to bring her to this stage. It was a splendid performance in the end. Chiaki was brought to see Nodame in the dressing room but she doesn’t want to see him. Chiaki takes an overnight train back to Italy and has a feeling they can’t go back to their usual ways now.

News of Nodame’s debut success hit worldwide and everyone (even as far as her pals back in Japan) finds out about it after watching a famous online video file sharing site in episode 10. Elise is probably trying to get Nodame to sign contracts for future performances but Nodame is still reeling from the shocking limelight she has just received. She tells Elise that she can’t play anymore. Because of that she runs away and I don’t know how, she ended up in Egypt! Did she have enough money? Now she doesn’t. Apparently Nodame isn’t happy with her success because it has been her dream to do a debut with Chiaki and not somebody else. Now that dream is in tatters. Stresemann and Auclair happen to meet in a hotel. Auclair isn’t happy of what he has done because he had ruined everything. She had nearly become a true pianist and the resolve to live with music till he ruined everything. She loved music but hated the industry and learned the joy of music through different composers and pieces. Till he ruined everything. Stresemann thinks it’s some parental love-like thingy but Auclair thinks he is a devil. I don’t know how Nodame got the money to take a trip back to Paris but she overshot her destination and ended up in Belgium. Stresemann sees Chiaki and talks to him. Meanwhile Kuroki is babysitting children from the Roux-Marlet Orchestra and brings them back to the apartment. Nodame makes her way back and starts playing her piano. Everyone recognizes that play and is surprised to see her returned. Kuroki sends Chiaki a mail on Nodame. Chiaki wonders if it would’ve been a good thing to have left her in Japan. But he will say yes to her proposal.

Nodame is having her hands full playing pieces the Roux-Marlet kids want to hear in episode 11. Remember, Nodame’s ambition was to become a kindergarten teacher so it’s no surprise she’s good with kids. Chiaki’s return shocks her as he wishes for her to perform together. But Nodame declines thinking that if she fails at playing a concert with him, she may stop loving him! Still kicking up a fuss, Chiaki ‘kidnaps’ Nodame and brings her to Nina’s place (since she has 2 pianos side by side). Noting that they both have changed, Chiaki insists that they try. As usual their piano skills didn’t get rusty at all and is more than ear candy. Aphrodisiac if I should say. Though Nodame crumbled in the final movement. But it seems Nodame has fallen in love with him again and jumps to hug him. Nodame returns to Auclair and will work hard to graduate. He also tells her that the Benoit family in St Malo has requested her to play another concert, in which Nodame quickly accepts. Chiaki narrates how the apartment got a couple of new music students as tenants, Yun Long returns to China, Tanya accepted in a chamber music class and gets to continue staying in Paris, Frank gets to play a duet with Rui at the Fontine Music Festival, Kuroki and Tanya take a train to Munich for the former’s competition (it’s safe to say that their relationship blossoms from here) and Stresemann reliving his childhood days by riding rides at an amusement park (he never grows up). Lastly, Nodame prepares her St Malo concert before a packed crowd with people coming from afar and wide just to see her. Chiaki is also there to watch her. And yeah, I never realized this but Nodame’s French must’ve been good by now.

Though it has ended, there is an OVA episode many dubbed as episode 12 as it takes place between the main series and Opera-hen setting. Opera what? After the series has ended, Nodame Cantabile: Opera-hen as a 1 volume sequel (at this point) released back in December 2009 that also serves as a prequel to the live action film released in April 2010. Confused? So am I. In this episode that lasts less than 12 minutes, we see Chiaki narrating about jealousy and stealing of loved ones. Is this guy undergoing some mid-life crisis? It all started when he and Nodame are arguing about food. I don’t know. Must be some sauce. You know, typical lover’s quarrel. Nodame gets a call from Lucas (sounds all grown up now?) asking her to go out for a date. Sly Nodame takes this chance to get her revenge by accepting it. Sure Chiaki doesn’t give a hoot but you can tell by his facial expressions and body language it is otherwise. Tanya teases Chiaki that he may have a date as well since he is humming happily. He doesn’t deny it. As Nodame and Lucas go out on their date (nothing spectacular really. Eating hot dogs on the hill slope…) but Nodame is talking how cool Chiaki is still. She receives an SMS from Tanya saying that Chiaki has a date so she instantly rushes home to ‘prevent any further damage’. Haha! Seems the girl Chiaki is dating is Yuiko (Chiaki’s younger cousin). Lucas is taken in by Yuiko’s beauty and hits on her. Frenchman style! Use the language of love, baby! Did he ditch Nodame? But heck, Yuiko too is taken by his charming words. And heck, Lucas starts taking Yuiko out the next day. Because of that, Chiaki isn’t too fond of that and follows them like a stalker! He’s going to kill him! Now he knows the true meaning of jealousy of hate when he sees the duo so close together. Since when he’s got a loli sister complex? Poor Nodame…

There is another OVA episode dubbed episode 0 because it takes place between the Paris Hen and Finale. Think of it as a prelude to the third season. We see Kiyora (Mine’s girlfriend) joining Chiaki, Nodame, Jean and Yuko in Vienna to see Stresemann. But that old jerk irresponsibly ran off to Japan. What to do than to go sightseeing and I guess Nodame was drunk at a restaurant that she started conducting with a knife! She made Kiyora play her air violin too! The gang also learn Jean and Yuko are getting married sometime soon in Japan. Jean and Yuko depart for Italy while the rest return to Paris. Kiyora is entering a violin competition there. Mine with the permission of using his dad’s secret funds, takes a lifetime trip to Paris to see Kiyora in action. If you remember the idiot he is, you’ll be glad to know that with Nodame around things didn’t change. Two idiots… Yeah, Nodame and Mine even played a mock scene of Chiaki and Nodame respectively. It was so gross that Chiaki had to throw stuff at them. Two idiots… Mine takes a tour with Nodame, Tanya, Frank and Yun Long around Paris. He also tells them and Chiaki about some of the relationship development of his Rising Star Orchestra members. Mine missed Kiyora’s first round performance because he took the wrong train. He still needs time to master French. Also, Kiyora’s number is among the first. Dejected Mine talks to Kuroki about his Rising Star Orchestra whereby it may not materialize because everyone is busy with their own schedule and the conductors like Matsuda and Takahashi are no go because the former is going overseas and the latter loggerheads. Chiaki was eavesdropping. Kiyora’s astounding performance has her reach the final round. There, she surprises Mine by hugging him (he didn’t tell her he was here initially as not to distract her but she could spot her idiot anywhere) and doesn’t care about the results since everyone was here to support her. She got 3rd place. Kiyora and Mine return back to Japan as Chiaki and Nodame see them off. Chiaki gives him words of encouragement and contacts of Katahira and Jean if he ever needed a conductor for his orchestra. Mine is touched that he has been praised by him.

If that was how it really ended, then I can’t say that I am really satisfied. It felt that it could go on further. No doubt that just in the previous seasons, it explores and develops the relationship between Chiaki and Nodame further. In addition to their musical skills being vastly improved, I could say that there is a step forward in their bond. No doubt they may be the same people overall and though the surprising revelation of Nodame’s serious proposal to Chiaki, they’re still short of being officially a couple. See, doesn’t that feel a little disappointing if this series is supposed to be its last? They kissed, you know. But it’s nice to see the duo when they interact with each other. Sometimes hilarious and fun, sometimes heart warming. Hey, what happened to Rui? I was sensing that Nodame was going to get another love rival since it hinted that she has feelings for Chiaki (I already guessed that in the previous season) but after the sizzling duet performance, it’s like they have gone their separate ways. Nodame seems to rely less on her anime and Puri Gorota obsession now. With Auclair giving her lots of assignments, perhaps she has no time with that. Chiaki was able to meet Viella finally and even if he isn’t going to waste this chance studying under him, he still keeps Nodame in his sight.

There wasn’t much on the other characters but it is better this time round as compared to the second season. For example, Masumi and Mine did make their cameo appearance albeit only very brief. It was better than never appearing at all during the second season. Tanya, Frank and Yun Long are still around trying their best but my guess is that they’ll never reach the levels of Nodame and Chiaki. They’re on a different level. Oh wait, Yun Long isn’t around anymore. Hehe. And when Tanya and Kuroki’s relationship was just about to blossom right at the end of the series, it already ended. See, doesn’t that feel a little disappointing… Oh, I’ve said that already. Stresemann and Elise also never changed. The old guy is still a pervert and irresponsible carefree conductor while his manager the scheming woman. I don’t know whether Stresemann’s plan of Nodame’s London debut has more good than bad because although it wrecked her dream, at least in a way it propelled her to the stage and made her decide is this the kind of future she wants. Hey, Nodame’s a simple girl. She dreams of being a kindergarten teacher if music isn’t her priority. I’m being reminded of that Matsuda guy during his Paris Hen OVA appearance. Since he didn’t make any here, I guessed he really got screwed. Haha!

The opening theme by Yuu Sakai is Manazashi Daydream feels like it has a little bit of soul in it. At least it sounded better than the previous season. The little thing I find odd about it was how the music was abruptly ended. I know, trying to fit within the time constraints but I felt that way it was like being ‘cut off’. As for the ending theme, it is Kaze To Oka No Ballad by Real Paradis with Nodame Orchestra. Don’t worry, this sounds more like a pop piece sung entirely in Japanese as compared to the previous season which was totally sung in French. Of course there are feature orchestra pieces and since I’m not a classical music buff, I don’t identify with many of them. Everything else in the series remains the same in terms of the drawing and art visuals (still have that ‘bleached’ and ‘light’ feel to it) to the voice acting (nobody does “Gyabo!” and “Mukya!” better than Ayako Kawasumi) and the next episode preview (short random nonsensical lines that hardly lasts 5 seconds. And if you really want to see clips of the next episode, it is still presented during the ending animation credits).

Maybe the word ‘Finale’ is a little misleading. Certainly with the way things are going it isn’t going to be the finish line for Chiaki and Nodame yet. Yeah, I know I don’t want it to end this way and hope that they would make a proper sequel to end it. Well like I’ve mentioned, there is Opera-hen is still ongoing so maybe if they ever feel like it they could make a sequel from there. Who knows. But I still don’t have any interests in classical music and more into anime pop. It’s the moe-moe culture for me. Time to take out that keyboard of mine and pound some tunes. Never mind, it got rusty…

Nodame Cantabile

Kuroshitsuji

October 29, 2010

Initially I didn’t want to watch Kuroshitsuji because I thought it was one of those yaoi themed animes. However after giving in to my curiosity that the super butler here can do just about anything than the ordinary one, I realized that there is none of such element and unless you really wish to see that, it is very, very subtle. How the heck did I ever conclude that this was a yaoi genre in the first place? Beats me.

That said butler is Sebastian Michaelis. If you think the debt-ridden butler in the name of Hayate Ayasaki can pull off major stunts to protect and service his oujo-sama, Sebastian will overshadow that and make Hayate look more like a baby in comparison. If Hayate’s skills are comedy and exaggeration-driven, then Sebastian is because he’s a demon. Woah. You heard that right. No wonder he makes the impossible possible. So in nearly every episode, you can hear Sebastian’s trademark lines of “Yes, my lord” and “Because I am one hell of a butler” (watashi ga akuma de shitsuji desu kara). Yeah, the double meaning in hell there. Also notice this frequent line, “Where would we be if one who serves as a Phantomhive butler could not (insert action here whether possible or not)”. You get the point.

Sebastian is the ever-useful butler to a 12 year old kid named Ciel Phantomhive. Though Ciel may seem distant, cold, unfriendly acid-tongue and never smiles, don’t put him down because he is the head of the Phantomhive estate and the Funtom Company that is the lead manufacturer of toys and sweets in the 18th century Victorian-era setting of England. How did he end up like there? You see, Ciel bears a tragic past of his family murdered and original mansion burnt down to the ground. His eye-patch on his right eye hides a pentacle which signifies a contract he has made with the demon (Sebastian) to do whatever his master orders him to, no matter how dangerous or silly, whether he likes it or not without complain and fail. Yeah, only a demon can pull such things off. That mark on Ciel’s eye also serves as a location marker that will allow Sebastian to find him wherever he is. Till his parents’ murderers are found, Sebastian must abide every word Ciel says as part of the contract and when Ciel’s goal achieve, Sebastian will have his soul. Well, what has he got to lose after going through so much anyway.

Episode 1 sees Sebastian singlehandedly doing and correcting all chores in the Phantomhive mansion with much grace and elegance so much so you’d wonder why Ciel hired other servants. We have a clumsy bespectacled maid with an equally ‘sick’ fantasy Meirin, a cook that always over burns his cooking Bard, a super strong gardener Finny and an old butler geezer Tanaka who is always seeping tea and in chibi form with chortling as his only form of dialogue in this mode. Seriously, why does Ciel need them if has Sebastian. The gang are to receive a guest named Damian so leave it to Sebastian to clean up and improvise the disaster the other servants make. Seems Damian has an ulterior motive himself. He is trying to swindle Ciel’s money from the factory he has sold. Of course Ciel is sharp and just like Jigoku Shoujo’s Enma Ai, Sebastian has Damian go through horrifying ordeals like getting lost in the mansion, seeing ghostly visions and one whereby he is getting cooked in an oven as dessert! Just short of sending him to hell. Damian’s mind starts going crazy seeing that the board game he played with Ciel earlier on is coming true like losing his leg and being incinerated. In the end, he manages to flee with his life though limping pathetically out of the mansion. It’s a sign he won’t be back or mess with this kid and his butler anymore.

We are introduced to more characters like Ciel’s aunt, Angelina AKA Madam Red (because she likes that colour, duh), her bungling butler Grell Sutcliff, and a Chinese noble heading a British branch of a Chinese trading company, Lau and his hot personal assistant (or play doll perhaps?), Ranmao. Because Ciel’s servants are too noisy trying to catch mice in the mansion, he heads off for somewhere quiet but got kidnapped instead (must be some insulting remarks Ciel said during a meeting earlier on). Sebastian did not panic when he realized his master is gone but remains calm and even managed to avoid snipers aimed at him! Ciel on the other hand is calm because he knows he has a trump card even though he gets beaten up by the mob boss. Sebastian corners the fleeing snipers and manages to get them to spill details about their boss’ hideout. I don’t know if they died after that because Sebastian let their car fall off the cliff. And it goes to show that quality beats quantity because with all the hundreds of goons the mob boss orders to prevent Sebastian from coming him, the butler still makes his way in and takes out every damn one! Guns vs kitchen utensils. Can you believe the latter wins? Of course in the hands of the devil. Though the mob boss plays dirty and has his men shoot Sebastian but he regenerates and wipes them out. Sebastian is fast enough to knock him out before pulling the trigger the gun he is pointing at Ciel. Has Ciel ever felt threatened at any point? Sebastian carries Ciel home.

Madam Red requests Ciel to take in Grell in episode 3 in hopes her useless butler can learn a thing or two. We also learn that Tanaka can transform into his normal old butler self and talk like normal. However he can only last in this form for 3 minutes before reverting back to his useless chibi self. WTF. During his ‘short tenure’, he explains to the young servants how this mansion is a replica of the original one that burnt down few years ago and also took the lives of Ciel’s parents. When Ciel and Sebastian return from retrieving the former’s walking cane, Ciel is disheartened to see Elizabeth Middleford (Yukari Tamura sure makes her totally cute and moe). Who is she? Ciel’s fiancee. How can an over-lively girl be his future bride? Aside from their parents’ arrangement, it must be that opposites attract. Elizabeth on the other hand can be annoying with her energetic-ness as she redecorates the entire mansion with girly stuff and has the servants put on girly clothes. Elizabeth invites Ciel to a dance party but that kid doesn’t know how to dance so Sebastian offers to teach him. That evening, Elizabeth puts up a tantrum and breaks Ciel’s precious ring when he refused to wear one she bought for him. A very angry Ciel is going to slap her for destroying the family heirloom but Sebastian stops him. The butler explains the importance of the ring to her as Ciel soon throws it out of the window while saying that he is still master of this mansion with or without the ring. Ciel let bygones be bygones as he and Elizabeth dance together. That night after Sebastian sends Grell home, Ciel has a surprise before going to bed because Sebastian has repaired the ring and puts it back on his finger.

Ciel also proudly serves as the Queen’s guard dog and takes care of any unwanted incidents in the country at her orders. In episode 4, recently there have been cases of prostitutes being murdered in London and Scotland Yard has labelled the mysterious murderer as Jack the Ripper. Ciel goes to see his own personal informant known as Undertaker (taking jokes as payment?) for more info. Undertaker says that all victims had one thing in common: Their uterus removed and being done nicely. Sebastian has done his amazing research and his analysis narrows the possible suspects down to a man, the Viscount of Druitt, Lord Aleister Chamber since he is a doctor that rarely practices and he likes throwing flashy parties. Courtesy of Madam Red, Ciel and Sebastian go undercover to investigate. Does Ciel look cute cross-dressed? And the last person he wanted to see there is Elizabeth. Better not let her see you. Ciel eventually meets Druitt and makes acquaintance with him. Druitt takes a liking for him (or her from his eyes) and before he knows it, Ciel collapses and finds himself in a secret room and being auctioned. Ciel orders Sebastian to come and in a flash as he takes everyone out to save the day and the case is solved. However the next morning newspaper reports that Jack the Ripper has strike again.

In episode 5, Ciel plays chess with Madam Red and talks about Sebastian being his pawn will only move at his command. Ciel reflects on where he went wrong in his investigations and it seems though Sebastian’s list of suspects is accurate, Ciel missed the fact that the culprit may be non-human. Ciel and Sebastian stake out at Jack the Ripper’s next possible victim, Mary Kelly. However they are too late when they heard her screams. They see Grell coming out but they tell him not to play dumb. It turns out Grell’s real identity is a Shinigami (Grim Reaper). Talk about change in personality. Besides his irritating flamboyant character, he likes Sebastian. As in gay, if you know what I mean? But Grell is only half of it. The other half would be Madam Red. Sebastian and Ciel deduced that all the victims were patients of Madam Red’s hospital. Before the invention of birth control pills, how do prostitutes rid of unwanted births? Abortion. Ciel orders Sebastian to take out Grell and Madam Red. While Sebastian has his hands full with Grell and his modified scythe which is a chainsaw, Madam Red couldn’t kill Ciel no matter how upset she was. This disappointed Grell so he kills her! You know we see flashbacks of our lives when we’re about to die? In this case, film strips of one’s life stream out of one’s body, in this case Madam Red. Something about Shinigamis need to judge those who are about to die by watching those replays. Say what? In the flashback, we learn Madam Red and her sister (Ciel’s mom) fell in love with the same man. But that man married her sister instead so Madam Red was contended marrying someone else. Then the fire which took away Ciel’s parents’ life and an accident that caused the demise of her own husband. In order to save her life, Madam Red who was pregnant at that time, not only had her child removed but her entire reproductive organs removed too. Thus she is unable to bear children anymore. That’s why she gets worked up when prostitutes come to her place seeking abortion without batting an eyelid and that’s when her ‘killing spree’ began with Grell who appeared before her. As Madam Red dies, Grell steals her coat so Ciel orders Sebastian to finish his mission in which he managed to turn the tables and land mean kicks into that gay Shinigami’s face.

The fight continues in episode 6. Grell is disappointed to see Sebastian boring film strips (yes, he stabbed him). Sebastian improvises by using his tailcoat to jam Grell’s chainsaw and turn the tables on him. Before he could kill him, Grell’s superior, William T. Spears, apologizes and takes Grell back for punishment for breaching rules. It took him that long to track down their own kind? Hey, is a Shinigami’s job like those in the real world too? Getting paid, having vacations, etc. Later as everyone attends Madam Red’s funeral, Ciel puts a red rose over her and scattered red petals all over seeing that other colours don’t fit her. The Scotland Yard officers decide to close this case seeing that it has been solved by the underworld. Lau wonders why Ciel didn’t reveal the culprit’s identity to the Queen but Ciel reminds him about his secret opium trade. Later, Ciel has Undertaker do a decent burial for Mary giving atoning for his inability to prioritize her life over his as an excuse rather than being kind-hearted. Ciel also denies he got cold feet when he had the chance to kill Madam Red and says it wasn’t his job and knew Sebastian will always protect him. This kid has got a way with words, eh? They continue talking using chess metaphors like how Madam Red hesitated though she was bent on killing Ciel, the reason why she lost. Thus Ciel orders Sebastian to never betray him.

Another mission from the Queen in episode 7 that sees Ciel and Sebastian investigating a little town named Houndsworth ruled by Henry Barrymore with a few dog problems. Under the guise that this is a vacation and looking for a spot to build a new resort, they also bring the other servants along. Of course this town hides a dark secret as everyone faithfully abides by the rules or else a demon dog will have them killed. Finny seems to take a liking for Henry’s maid, Angela, sometimes abused by him. There must be something more than meets the eye about her because Meirin peeps into the room to see Henry grovelling at her feet in a room. Probably it’s one of her fantasies but that scene is real. That night, the shadow of the demon dog appears. It also left luminescent green footprints in its path. The dead victim then turns out to be a young man who has been secretly keeping dogs above than the permitted number. His dog taken away by the villagers for his punishment the next day. As everyone watches the dog being bitten to death by other canines, Finny remembers a horrifying experience of it and goes to protect the dog. The villagers consider this as defiance and chains Ciel and the servants when they go protect Finny. Sebastian saves them by giving the dogs his glare. Even animals know not to mess with the demon. Sebastian exposes Henry and since the villagers felt used, they take him away. Henry is chained in a prison and fears the demon dog will come for his life and true enough the next morning, the gang finds his gruesome corpse and a giant hole in his prison wall.

As everyone prays for forgiveness to whatever whoever to appease the demon dog in episode 8, Finny and Meirin spot Angela and some guy in a compromising position. Meirin gets nose bleed and Finny heartbreak so he runs off felling trees on his way. Next morning, Angela’s sudden disappearance has the gang go in search for her. At a barren plain, they see a pile of human limbs and one of them belongs to Henry since they recognize his ring. A naked guy walks to the pile but he soon smells their presence. As all the townsfolk arrive wanting to help. The naked man is gone and the next thing they know is that they’re being confronted by the giant demon dog. Sebastian shows everyone his dog-obedience training by employing his carrot and sticks method. More of sticks, that is. First by making that dog liking him by giving him doggy treats and then swiftly beating it up. In the final blow, a hot water spring gushes out. Like killing 2 birds with a stone, looks like they can build a resort here after all. That demon dog turns out to be that naked man and he definitely takes a liking for Sebastian. Angela explains she found this demon dog of hers, Pluto, took care and hid it from Henry but never thought it would turn on him. At the end as the gang departs, Angela leaves Pluto in their hands seeing she doesn’t want Pluto to be blamed or punished by the villagers. Ciel allows it thinking it is interesting seeing that he knows Sebastian is a cat person. But Sebastian knows something fishy about Angela since she is able to tame a demon dog.

In episode 9, Ciel assigns an important mission to his other servants. He wants them to take a photo of Sebastian. Seems the camera he got not only appears the subject in the picture, but a figure of that subject’s most precious that is not of this world. Sounds easy? Remember, you need to be still for 10 seconds when the picture is taken or else the picture will come out blur. And with Sebastian moving at light speed doing chores, the servants are looking more like failures in more than just the photo-taking department. Even with Ciel’s indirect help, they are unable to snap a simple one. Of course Sebastian sensed their ploy and has the servants go take care of Pluto (he is fine in big doggy mode, but can someone please put clothes on him when he is in human form!). Even Lau pitched in but his sexy-Ranmao-distraction failed and even if Tanaka represented Ciel for an interview, Sebastian does his usual lengthy elaboration of the company’s visions and such but refused to have his picture taken. In the end, Ciel has Finny throw a large pillar on him. Since his life is in danger, Sebastian rescues him. In that moment of stillness and flashy fireworks (for lighting I guess), this allowed the servants to take a picture. When they develop the picture, Pluto uses his fire breath to burn it all away (ordered by Sebastian?). That night, Sebastian uses that camera to take one of himself with sleeping Ciel and Pluto outside the window. So when the servants see the picture, they get confuse of who is who is the precious one. Remember, they don’t know Sebastian is not of this world…

Ciel and Sebastian attend the Frost Fair over frozen River Thames in episode 10 to investigate a murder. Seems the victim has stolen a valuable ring called Shard of Hope. This ring is also responsible for the kidnap of several young girls as mentioned by Scotland Yard’s detective, Fred Abberline. Too bad it is on a sculpture and since the judges won’t allow it to be removed (something to do with its beauty), everyone decides to enter an ice sculpting contest to win it. Even the thieves who are hunting it and Abberline himself. Why is Druitt one of the judges? Beats me but he is pretty dramatic and poetic when it comes to judging about beauty. Of course the winner is Sebastian when he carves a beautiful Noah’s Ark complete with animals inside. How can he fail when Sebastian orders him to win. The baddies aren’t happy and threatens to blow up the whole place. Don’t worry, Sebastian is here. Those goons start shooting throwing dynamites and they forgot they were on ice so when it cracks, you can guess what happens next. Unfortunately the ring sinks to the bottom of the river. Meanwhile Elizabeth bought an ark toy supposedly for Ciel’s birthday and to atone for breaking his ring but gets upset when her dad tells her that this rare toy in which she played with Ciel when they were young, is fake. She is surprised to see a ring (Shard of Hope) inside it.

Elizabeth goes to see Ciel to give him his birthday present (that ring) in episode 11 but decides not to when she notices the ring she broke before on his finger. Though today is Ciel’s birthday, Ciel isn’t happy because it brought back tragic memories of his parents’ death and being tormented by other people. Elizabeth laments to her maid Paula on her way back when she sees a doll guy with a penchant of playing My Fair Lady music and follows him to a shop with lots of dolls (reminds me of Rozen Maiden. Hmm…). The doll guy listens to Elizabeth’s story as she breaks down. Ciel gets word that Elizabeth is missing but at the same time a letter from the Queen requesting his assistance in solving the case of the missing girls and that has got something to do with the ring. As Ciel heads off to town to find Elizabeth, he orders Sebastian to do some investigation on the victims. In the streets, Ciel orders Pluto (thank God he is wearing clothes) to sniff for Elizabeth’s scent. They run into Grell who is on probation. They arrive at the doll shop and to Ciel’s horror, he sees Elizabeth as a doll version. They go out the back door and see a huge castle on a hill. Ciel cuts a deal with Grell to help him out in return he can do any sick fantasies he wants with Sebastian. Damn that butler is even useful to this point… While the doll guy is preparing to do something strange to the real Elizabeth, Ciel and co are confronted with another strange doll wearing that ring. The doll starts strangling Ciel. Grell cuts the doll with his new death scythe, a pair of tiny scissors. What can he cut with that?! An army of dolls appear before them. Ciel leaves it to Grell and Pluto while he advances. In a room, he startles to see a logo resembling those of his tormentors. Sebastian has returned from his investigation and mocks Ciel that he has lost everything and wonders is he going to lose Elizabeth as well.

With Grell and Pluto fallen, the doll army reaches them in episode 12. Sebastian swiftly takes care of all of them with his own version of My Fair Lady since he notices they all respond to that song. The doll guy appears and wants to make Ciel into a perfect doll for his master so Sebastian takes Ciel and leaps out of the window. Ciel isn’t happy that Sebastian didn’t save Elizabeth though Sebastian says his priority must always be him. Ciel then puts the ring on his own finger seeing that the victims are chosen this way. They go back up the tower (now with Grell) and see Elizabeth. However she attacks them as her movements are being controlled by that doll guy like a puppet on a string. He also has the gang tied up in his strings. Sebastian uses Grell as a stepping stone to cut doll guy’s head with an axe to free them all. Elizabeth returns to her normal self and is happy Ciel is wearing that ring before fainting. Doll guy fumbles his way to the top room supposedly where his master is. The gang are surprised to see Pluto being obedient before the master sitting on a chair facing away from them. Ciel rushes to see the master’s face but it turns out it is just a straw doll and a smaller doll sitting on its lap in which it suddenly leaps out of the window. Sebastian says it’s futile going after it since the puppet master is not around here. Grell is ready to have Ciel fulfil the end of his promise but since Sebastian mentioned taking revenge for Madam Red’s, Grell decides to back out for now. Everyone goes back to the mansion to celebrate Ciel’s birthday. Meanwhile the small doll runs into the grasps of Angela. She destroys it and throws it away into River Thames.

Ciel and Sebastian are investigating cases of Indian immigrants in London but are being confronted by a rowdy group of Indians accusing Britain of discrimination in episode 13. But they are saved by an Indian Prince Soma and his servant Agni. Somehow their fates intertwined again when Soma and Agni invite themselves to stay at the Phantomhive mansion. The spoilt prince wants Ciel to accompany him but Sebastian ‘saves’ him since Ciel has a schedule to follow. Feeling bored, Ciel and Soma had a fencing match. Their servants took over and it ended with a draw. Wow. A mere human drew with a demon? But Agni is human though he has super strength especially with his right fist. While preparing a meal, Agni has the other Phantomhive servants help him out as opposed to leave-it-all-to-Sebastian. The more the merrier, eh? We learn Agni is loyal to Soma because he saved him from being hanged after being found guilty of committing several sins. Since that day he has changed and pledged to serve Soma. During dinner, Ciel learns that Soma is looking for another servant, Meena. She was a servant who took care with him when he was young but suspected a British guy who had an eye on her, kidnapped her to here. Ciel doesn’t wish to help out since it’s Soma’s problem and this causes him to be upset. You can’t blame Ciel since he has been through a lot as he believes things that are lost cannot be regained no matter how much one wishes. Just when he hints to help him, Soma declines and will solve it himself after reflecting on his words. Eh?

Soma notices Agni always heading out alone in the night after he sleeps. So in episode 14, the gang follows Agni to Lord Harold West’s mansion and eavesdrop their conversation. They seem to be making some deal but when Meena’s name was mentioned, Soma couldn’t hold back and barges in. To Soma’s shock, Agni doesn’t obey him but West instead, though we can see he is reluctant. Sebastian saves Soma under the disguise of a deer head (?!). Back at the Phantomhive mansion, Soma vents his anger over Agni’s betrayal by breaking a tea set of Ciel. So I guess it’s high time that Sebastian teach that spoilt prince a lesson. Thankfully, he opened his eyes after hearing Ciel’s tragic past and vows to change. They learn that West is trying to obtain a Royal Warrant (a warrant that gives exclusive rights to supply goods to the royal house. It enhances one’s reputation) via a curry competition in which the Queen will make her appearance. Ciel decides to enter the competition with Sebastian as a sure winning bet but Agni is a master at making curry. This will be tough. We also learn that the case of Indian immigrants being persecuted was a cover up so that West could take out his strongest competitors. On the day of the competition, Soma finally sees Meena and wants her to come back. But she tells him the harsh truth that she ran away by her own will. She hated her caste life and would never go back there. Truth hurts, doesn’t it? Before the competition begins, we see Angela giving a competitor a spice. The Queen arrives and speaks through her butler, Ash. Why is Druitt there as a judge too? Let the competition begin!

You could’ve guessed that the judges’ decision would be either Sebastian or Agni in episode 15. It is Agni’s blue lobster against Sebastian’s chocolate. Depressed Soma is nowhere near the competition area since he is in shocked after learning Meena’s true colours. We learn Agni’s deal with Meena was to protect Soma from the truth but Meena couldn’t hold back after seeing naive he was. While deliberating on their decision, the crowd are free to try the contestants’ dishes. Suddenly Meena gets possessed and starts rampaging. Soon after some of the audiences as well. Seems the spice that Angela gave was the trigger so Sebastian and Agni tries to fend them off without hurting them too much. But not everyone who ate that curry dish turned into a monster. As unbelievable it may sound, but Sebastian’s curry bread has some calming effect in it as he feeds all the effected people to return them to their normal selves. Because of this, it is no doubt that the winner is to be Sebastian.

Ciel and Sebastian go to see an abandoned castle they’ve just acquired to turn into a hotel in episode 16. Seems the workers don’t want to go on after finding it haunted. True enough it is haunted by Prince Edward V and his brother Richard. Erm, they look like kids? And they have been around for 400 years? Well, since they’re murdered, I guess you could say they’re restless souls. Since Ciel lost to Edward in a chess game, Sebastian has to become their butler. Wait a minute. Why do they need a butler? Do ghosts need to eat and such? How did they go on ‘living’ for the past 400 years then? Anyway Ciel and Sebastian did some research and this has Edward leading them to a secret room filled with bones and a chessboard with skulls of royal family members as its pieces. However a piece is missing and that belongs to Richard. He thinks if the board is completed, they will go to the next world. Ciel orders Sebastian to take by force the skull that Richard is always holding and reluctant to let go. Sebastian succeeds and puts it in place but nothing happens. Richard then says that the skull doesn’t belong to him and belonged to an ordinary person. Edward finally remembers the night they were murdered (something to do with an inside job as well). Finally at peace, the prince brothers are ready to move on to the next world. What the hell is the meaning that Ciel and Sebastian needing to see them off on a boat? With the haunting gone, Ciel has the workers resume work.

Ash personally comes to see Ciel in episode 17 to inform him of yet another mission from the Queen. Seems a cult is gaining influence and possible may overthrow the government. So it’s up to Ciel how he wants to handle it. Slick isn’t it? Just like the Queen to throw any dirty jobs to Ciel without giving specific orders on how to solve it. After going to see Undertaker (Grell happen to be there too), they learn the Shinigamis are investigating cases of missing Cinematic Records (those life film strips) from their library. And there is something about the Doomsday book whereby the cult uses it to reveal one’s past and recruit them. After easily sneaking in, I don’t know what Sebastian did to get more info out of a young cute nun (seemed like sex to me – yeah, he’s one demon after all, haha! Grell not too happy somebody else doing it with his beloved Sebastian). Ciel and co witness firsthand how a couple are being purified by the head priest by the book, leaving the crowd in awe. Ciel is chosen to be next and when it is his turn, Ciel starts to recall familiar memories because the priest’s action and words seem to be exactly of those said before his parents’ death. The priest then tries to strangle him but Sebastian swiftly kills him. Angela then appears with the real Doomsday book in hand and we see her true form, an angel, as she takes Ciel away into a portal while Sebastian and Grell closely slip in too.

Ciel finds himself with Angela in the Shinigami’s library in episode 18. Angela forces Ciel to relive his horrible past using his Cinematic Records. She also shows him how she tried to merge his parents together (horrible combo, I’d say). I’m not sure about her explanation about rewriting the past. Can angels do that? No wonder they’re like film strips. You can edit them and get a Director’s Cut. Haha, just kidding. Anyway Ciel is strong enough to reject being ‘cleansed’ or relieved of his hate. Ciel recovers himself and before they could see some action, Undertaker passes by them. He’s a Shinigami too? No wonder he is so adept in the funeral business. Angela, an apocalyptic angel, goes back to the cult church and plans on saving the followers. And by save, she means destroy. Undertaker has a pink bookmark which allows stopping Angela’s further actions and from that point, he rewrites the future story by making Sebastian the hero with Grell and William as his assistants to pin Angela against the wall. Man, that tool is useful. Now Angela is very mad and is going to bring down the whole place. Not before our heroes make their escape, that is. In the aftermath, Ciel is resolved to have his soul taken by Sebastian since his parents’ murderers have been found. But Sebastian didn’t do so and this suggests the perpetrator is still alive and would like to be with his master a little longer. At Undertaker’s place, he reveals he has Cinematic Records surrounding Ciel’s parents’ death but he refuses to see it.

Another new mission for Ciel in episode 19 as Ash wants him to retrieve something from a murdered man, John Stanley, who is also working under her majesty like Ciel. Something that is important and secretive that Ciel himself is better off not knowing what it is. Ciel goes to see Lau since the incident happened in his area. Though he has never heard of that name, he thinks it must have something to do with a new drug called Lady Blanc. Abberline continues his investigations while Ash suspiciously approaches a boy who is supposedly a witness of John’s murder. Back at Phantomhive mansion, Ciel and Sebastian learn that their servants are being given the latest candy of their company. But as pointed out by Tanaka, it isn’t candy but concealed drugs. Ciel and Sebastian hurry to their factory upon thinking that somebody is trying to frame their good name. Halfway, they are being stopped by Abberline and his police. He is here to arrest Ciel on counts of storing drugs in his factory. Ciel doesn’t resist arrest and though separated from Sebastian who is being held at the torture section. Lau also knows that he is going to be arrested so he has Ranmao bludgeon the entire police force barging in before escaping.

Sebastian is tortured by a torture master in episode 20 but doesn’t give in. Angela takes over from the torturing. Does it feel like S&M in anyway? Man, she does love whipping him. Meanwhile Lau sees an aristocrat and hints that he killed John via Ranmao because he trespassed on his drug territory. Something like that. Lau also says something about tired being a pawn and wishes to make his own move. Ciel is released from his cell (no pun intended) and meets Abberline who wishes to offer his help. Ciel is stubborn that he doesn’t need help because everyone to him are just pawns. But Abberline says he wants to be his comrade. We learn Abberline is getting married and wants to make this world a safe place for his child. As they investigate, clues point to that aristocrat. They ambush his carriage but his men surround them. That’s when Ciel uses his eye contract to order Sebastian to his rescue. He easily breaks out of his chains and kills the torture master and faster than the internet broadband speed to subdue all that gunfire. Ciel complained he was late? Hey, he’s lucky he arrived in time and don’t you compare with the internet broadband speed in those days… Wait, there isn’t any. Now they are on to Lau and with great jumping skills, Sebastian and Ciel board Lau’s junk ship (Sebastian riding on a cannonball! Holy sh*t!). Sebastian fights Ranmao while Ciel confronts Lau. Ciel learns the shocking truth that thing he was supposed to retrieve was a scroll. Something about England planning to align itself with the Axis of Evil a war that will affect the whole world? Wow. History rewritten! Lau is going to stab Ciel with his sword and Sebastian can’t reach in time. To everyone’s surprise, Abberline uses his body to protect Ciel and gets stabbed. It’s sad to see a good cop dead and even if Sebastian finishes off Lau, Ciel slaps him for erring in his decision. They escape from the ship that sinks the Chinese pair with them.

In episode 21, the servants wonder how the previous Phantomhive mansion was like so they seek Elizabeth’s answer (seeing Tanaka can’t talk in his chibi form). They conclude it has lots of smiles and vow to protect it. Then they hear some strange sounds and rush Elizabeth into the safety of the mansion. As Elizabeth learns playing chess from Ciel, Sebastian leaves it up to the servants to handle things. Who would’ve believed that the servants are capable fighters protecting the mansion from that aristocrat’s henchmen! Wow! Who would’ve thought Meirin was a sharp sniper assassin (she looks hot without her glasses!), Bard a soldier in which his mates got killed due to a bad decision from his general but his guts to go against it has him the lone survivor, and Finny a child experiment that underwent horrendous experiments from scientists wanting to create a superhuman and he broke free from their backfired experiment. At the end of each of their ordeal, Sebastian was always there to hire them. Maybe that’s why they suck being servants. Hehe, just kidding. Why didn’t Ciel or Elizabeth notice the gunfire outside? Because Sebastian was busy playing his violin! Either he was playing too loud that drowned out the outside noises or the kids were too preoccupied with chess or mesmerized by his beautiful music. I’ll stick with the first one. In the end, the baddies lost and the servants come back home in high spirits because they protected what they considered important though a little messy. Sebastian sure has a good eye for people. He’s a demon, right? No wonder he puts up with their household farces. But Ciel seems to know what was going on though he just doesn’t say it. He’s not dumb.

It was heartbreaking to see Abberline’s fiancee breaking down once news of his death reached her. So sad :'(. Ciel and Sebastian head to the Word Fair expo in Paris in episode 22. A taxidermy monkey starts causing havoc in a hall so Sebastian takes care of it while Ciel rushes to safety up to Eiffel Tower. He sees the Queen there and when I first heard her speak the first time, she sounded like a typical young anime girl! That’s because as she reveals her true face, it’s of a typical young anime girl! Queen Victoria was an anime shoujo! Haha! Just joking. Ash is also there as she reveals her past. When her husband died, Ash granted her wish to become young and also merged their bodies (at least it seemed like that to me). I also believe she was responsible for Ciel’s parents’ demise. I don’t know why she’s so infatuated about being clean and pure. Of course Ciel is shocked that after being so loyal to her majesty, this is some sort of a betrayal. Sebastian has finished his business and arrives. Ciel orders him to kill the Queen and Ash. Thus an epic battle between a demon and angel begins. But Ciel orders Sebastian to withdraw seeing the destruction they’re causing would bring harm to the innocent citizens below. Partly they’re being noticed too. No matter how much Sebastian dislikes that order, he has to abide his soft-hearted master. Next morning, Ciel realizes Sebastian is no longer around. How does it feel without a butler doing your usual stuff? He can’t have abandoned him because the contract is still valid. Ciel attempts to make his way back to the port to return to England by himself and he sure has a good experience of the harsh life of reality. Getting cheated, kicked out and nowhere to go in the cold. Eventually his wandering has him reach the port. Back at the Phantomhive mansion, Ash controls Pluto to burn the entire mansion down.

As a stowaway on a boat back to London in episode 23, Ciel surprisingly meets Undertake who tells him his end is near. Not only his but probably the entire country. Yeah, it’s on fire! Everything is burning! And you thought the black plague was horrible enough. The fire has taken many lives and causing the citizens to panic. The Queen is in her room and we see her rotting body. She’s in pain. Ash doesn’t have any further use for her and leaves that impure and dirty lady. Ciel trades his precious ring to get a boat to shore. He learns his Englishmen are blaming this incident on the French. We see Sebastian talking to Ash atop a roof. I’m not sure about Ash’s sick idea of wanting to be Sebastian’s partner but what is more disturbing is the fact that Ash and Angela are the same person! He’s like got 2 genders! Ciel finds his servants trying to tranquilize a rampaging Pluto. He orders them to kill it seeing that it isn’t the Pluto they know anymore. Ciel makes his way to the Queen’s castle and notices time has stood still. When he enters her room, he is shocked to see her dead. Like a trap, then moves again and the Queen’s servants are shocked to see her lifeless state and you know who gets blamed as the culprit. Ciel tries to escape but is surrounded by the royal guards. A bullet hits Ciel and his blood somehow formed a pentacle symbol on the floor. Ciel refuses to end it that way and before he knows it, Sebastian appears to catch all the bullets and take out all the guards. I don’t know how many times I’ve been impressed seeing him do just the impossible. With Sebastian back by his side, all that’s left to do is to stop that mad angel.

The final battle place is a partially constructed tower bridge made up of tormented souls in episode 24. Ciel order his butler to kill Ash but Ash is using the souls to power up. Thankfully William, Grell, Undertaker and other Shinigamis intercept to cut Ash off his supply. Ash still has a trump card and summons Pluto. However the demon dog doesn’t respond. Seems Ciel’s servants and Pluto have taken each other out. Now very pissed, Ash cuts off one of Sebastian’s arm and unleashes a frenzy of projectiles. Sebastian manages to protect Ciel and wants him to close his eyes and not open them till he says so. That’s because Sebastian is going to transform into his true demon form and beat the crap out of Ash. We don’t really get to see his black form in all that darkness but it was so shocking to Ash is on the losing path. The destruction was so great that Ciel was nearly flung off the beam into the river. He just needs to hold on till he defeats Ash for good by the count of 10. When he’s done, Sebastian extends his hand to Ciel but he just let go and plunge below. But he can’t die yet because Sebastian saves him. In the aftermath, we see the old Queen addressing the crowd. Actually she’s the fake queen and it doesn’t matter since it gave the people hope. Soma and Agni are serving curry to the homeless while Elizabeth is concerned for Ciel but Paula cheers her up. We see Sebastian rowing Ciel on a boat to an island. He shows Ciel Tanaka’s diary which reveals his father had always known the Queen’s intention of eliminating the Phantomhive family but did not wish to tell Ciel because he didn’t want him to grow up filled with hatred. Well, didn’t work out that way, eh? On the island, Ciel awaits his death and wants Sebastian to make it as painful for him when he takes his soul to carve the pain of life in it. Sebastian agrees and closes in on Ciel. What is Ciel’s ultimate fate is up to viewers to think.

For those who have bought the DVD, there is a filler OVA episode. Independent of any plot in the series, it brings most of the characters back together. Here, Ciel decides to host a Hamlet play for the orphans as part of his charity work. Too bad a mishap has the actors won’t be arriving on time. Since the play can’t be postponed and Ciel’s unspecific orders to fix it, Sebastian gathers the motley crew to play the Shakespearean play. Oh of all people why does it have to be the servants trio, Elizabeth, Soma, Agni, Grell, Undertaker, Lau and Ranmao? They even have their own interpretation and wishes on how the play is to go about. Doomed I tell you. Tarnished the Phantomhive’s name. Training is hell and if that didn’t work, Sebastian goes on telling them the haunted history of the Phantomhive history. What better way to learn such tragic play then to learn the past of a similar person. On performance day, I’m sure young kids don’t appreciate such plays so it was kinda boring. Then with a little improvise, their attention was retained as they even cheered on Ciel who is playing the lead role of Hamlet. I don’t know why it seemingly ended with most of the characters wanting to fight over Grell’s character as Ophelia in the play, but Ciel decides to follow the children’s wishes not to take his own life as how it was supposed to be in the play and hence the play was considered a success. A standing ovation too? From that Druitt guy who is especially noisy and passionate? Purist might condemn them in the strongest form.

Aside from the OVA, the entire series is one big tragic play. I thought nearly everybody would end up dying in the end. Or at least those closed to Ciel. Hey, Madam Red was the first ‘victim’ and her candle snuffed out very early in the series. So when good guys like Abberline, the sneaky drug peddler Lau and even the Queen eventually met their end, I thought everybody has got to go. Except Sebastian and the Shinigamis because well, they’re the undead. No word about Ciel’s servants’ whereabouts but my guess is they’re as good as gone protecting what they truly want to protect. Now I can’t say that they’re 100% bungling. Probably Elizabeth was too cute to be killed off and the producers may earn the hatred of Yukari Tamura/Elizabeth fans if they did so. It was really sad for Ciel to meet such a fate in the end but he’d know one day this would come. After all, his goal has been achieved what more is there to live for? The perpetrators were the ones he trusted the most but believe me, even so, has Ciel trust anybody that much. He’s such a grumpy kid right from the start and he hardly changed till the end. Though he shows his kindness in a different way.

Sebastian is of course the most interesting character in this series because of his ever resourceful and multi-talented ways. It is quite fun to see him do all those impossible stuff for his master no matter what. And with style, grace and elegance! If only we had more of such butlers in this world. Yeah, they had to be demons in the first place. It was also amusing to watch the verbal ‘spat’ between Ciel and Sebastian. It’s like they both have a way to indirectly say sarcastic things to each other. Then they counter each other using an indirect way or rephrased their meaning and intention to a different way. Probably the subtle yaoi part was seeing Sebastian and Ciel close together like the former carrying the latter in his arms. Too bad Grell’s outright gayness over Sebastian is kinda annoying when it’s not funny. Lau is another strange person. Whenever he speaks, it’s like the way he says things he knows about everything but eventually he knows nothing about it. Maybe that’s his way of finding more info and indirectly get involved if it interests him. Another point which made me think was, how the heck did God allow an angel of his to destroy London? How can you call an angel so when he/she brings destruction upon mankind? Kinda ironic, isn’t it? And the devil playing the hero makes the irony even more so. And those Shinigamis keeping a library of humans’ life in record reels and to an extent rewriting them, doesn’t it make them like Gods?

On a trivial note, each of the episode title describes the action or moods that Sebastian is in for that particular episode. Whether he is on ice, in imprisonment, lonely, omnipotent, dependent, competing or dedicated, if this series had more episode and seemingly endless, I guess we could’ve have a glimpse of almost every talent Sebastian can pull off, won’t we? Since the setting is London during the Victorian era, the designs of the buildings and clothing are reflective of that era. It also gives a feeling of sombre and gloominess. Ah, those were the struggling times even if there were rich aristocrats as the majority of the people were homeless and poor. The opening theme is Kiss Of Monochrome by SID and has a little rock feel in it. Halfway through the series, I noticed that not only the animation for the opening credits changed but the lyrics of the song as well. The first ending theme by Becca is I’m Alive! This hard rock piece is sung totally in English and the animation sees Ciel and Sebastian in chibi form going about in a day in life from waking up in the morning till bed time at night. The second theme is Lacrimosa by Kalafina. It feels like a dramatic choir song fitting for a cult group with all those powerful choir voices as backup vocals. The animation here feels like a premonition of Ciel’s impending doom as we see him lying on a boat with flowers while Sebastian ferries him away. Kinda feels like Enma Ai rowing her victims to hell, no?

Man, I wish I had a butler like that. But that would mean making a pact to a devil and selling your soul to him, eh? He’s better than you ordinary genie because he can grant you any wish infinite times rather than the usual three. He’s better than your guardian angel because he’s always there whenever and wherever and not only at times when you needed him the most. Besides, the reputations of angels have considerably gone ‘down’ a lot after the way they’re being portrayed here. Just my opinion. I believe Sebastian would win any talent show hands down. But really, instead of dreaming of having a butler or maids to do your every whims and desires, it’s better to depend on yourself and make it happen with your own hands. The satisfaction is much greater without having to rely on someone. Remember, it’s better to teach a man how to fish rather than to feed him fish every day. Now there’s this rare anime that I have been wanting to get my hands on but couldn’t… Where’s a butler when you need one?

Kuroshitsuji

Anime Vending Machines

October 27, 2010

You know all those convenient drink dispensing machines? The ones that when you put in a certain amount of coins, then selecting the available drinks on offer and at the push of a button, the cool can drink is dispensed, ready for buyers to quench their thirst. So what has that got to do with anime and this blog? Well erm… One day I got this bugging idea that in some animes, the conventional vending machine isn’t just a contraption to sell drinks but there are other uses for them as well! What are they? Below are some of its uses as I have observed. Of course, don’t attempt to try them in the real world.

1) To pick up girls… And successful
Hayate No Gotoku

 Hayate No Gotoku

Down on your luck and have debt amounting to millions? Trying extorting to clear yourself from debt? Well the fated meeting of Hayate and Nagi not only made the former the latter’s butler, but it’s a start of a relationship that goes beyond the master-butler bond. Now, if one would be honest with her feelings and the other not too dense.

Sola

 Sola

Heard of the saying the early bird catches the worm? Sometimes it pays off if you wake up early one morning to take pictures of the sky (if you ever have such interests) and happen to see a nice chic at the vending machine. What better way than to strike up a conversation and be her ‘accomplice’ in forcing the vending machine with her too. And as fate would have it, our guy Yorito is thrust into protecting the Yaka (Calamity of the Night) and promising to show her the true sky of daylight.

2) To pick up girls… And failed
Kanokon ~Manatsu No Daishanikusai~ OVA

Kanokon OVA

I know patience is a virtue and even the saying has it that reward come to those who waits. Our poor guy here, Tayura, has a secret unrequited crush on the tough and morally strict bespectacled bookworm. I don’t know what he sees in her but yeah, love is blind. Anyway he bought a bean soup can drink by mistake and gives it too her. Grateful? Yes. Any progress? No. Maybe he should buy her more can drinks.

3) To get yourself a whole new girl
Akikan

Akikan

Depending on the flavour and material of the can drink, you can get a whole new girl materializing and magically taking shape into its human form just by sipping it. I’m sure Kakeru must have been thrilled when he got his first girlfriend in 16 years (that’s how old he is, by the way), and even if Melon calls him her Owner (master), I hope that guy respects her as a girl and control his perverted antics. Think about it. Making love to a steel can? How odd is that?

4) A place of solace
Toradora

Toradora

Unless you are claustrophobic, you may not want to try this idea out. In fact, nobody I ever knew (living, dead or fiction) tried this until Ami came along. She loves sitting between the little empty spaces between the vending machines at her school. It’s a secret spot of hers to think and ponder things and recollect her thoughts. I wonder if she really has too much on her mind.

5) To further one’s friendship… And probably win a prize!
Kanamemo

 Kanamemo

Sure, buying a can drink for your friend could be a nice way of treating him/her and it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy expensive gifts. I don’t know how true this is in the real world but if you’re the XXXth customer, the vending machine may announce that lucky buyer as a winner and dispenses out a free can drink as a reward. The case of Kana and Mika as their day is brightened up by such a phenomenon and not only they both can have a drink each at the price of one, they probably got their friendship-cum-rivalry renewed as well.

6) Some ego showdown
Nodame Cantabile: Paris Hen OVA

 Nodame Cantabile OVA

I didn’t fully comprehend what was going on or whatever they were trying to tell each other. But the funny part to me was that ‘intimidation’ scene that sees both Chiaki and Matsuda ‘selecting’ each other’s drink at the vending machine. Not the drinks that they were hoping for anyway.

7) To screw and mess with your head
Azumanga Daioh

 Azumanga Daioh

Tomo must have felt the vending machine is messing around with her since she’s got her drinks poured out without the cups. But this didn’t happen to Yomi when she purchased her drink subsequently. Too bad for the vending machine, for the mental anguish that Tomo has suffered (exaggerated, though), just like Osaka said, it has lost the trust of one of its customers.

8) A place for cats to live… And provide body warmth temperature drinks
Pani Poni Dash

Pani Poni Dash

We know Mesousa has always been the over-used, abused, bad luck rabbit the series has portrayed the rabbit to be. It makes each visit to the vending machine for horrific since there’s this God cat called Neko Kamisama that resides in it and became Mesousa’s ‘friend’. Not just a particular vending machine, but any vending machine that rabbit patrons. To top all that terror, Neko Kamisama even gives extra ‘service’ by providing body warmth temperature drinks for the rabbit. Hey, it helps keep your normal body temperature at 37 degrees Celsius, right?

9) Tool to take over the world
Keroro Gunsou

Keroro Gunsou

Imagine if everyone in this world find the vending machine indispensable and a necessity, then theoretically that would mean if such contraptions were to be held at the mercy of the invaders, that would lead to world conquest, right? Since those pesky humans won’t be able to live without them and at the same time make some money. At least that’s what the head platoon Keroro thinks. But make sure this plan is foolproof and not let early success go to your head or else you’ll be forced to swallow 3 litres of liquid and at the same time have your money taken. Plan failed…

10) As a projectile
Durarara!!

 Durarara!!

If you’re strong enough, have no conscious and rage so fiery that even the fiercest tiger would back down, you could try Shizuo’s tactic of just detaching just about any public amenities including vending machines and throw them at your enemies. Big enough to crush a single foe or wipe out a gang cluster. Hell hath no fury like Shizuo does… Pity those can drinks inside have to go to waste.

11) To vent your frustration
To Aru Kagaku No Railgun

 To Aru Kagaku No Railgun

If you don’t like some guy who is acting so cool and in the right way, just because he doesn’t want to take credit for saving people’s life, I’m sure Misaka could do let loose some of her steam by kicking the vending machine until it can’t take the abuse and even gives out a free can drink. It’s your alternative to a punching bag for more powerful people like espers.

Sola

Sola

Hey, it’s this series again. Sure the vending machine here has got lots of use, eh? As usual, if the vending machine doesn’t like you and eats your money, I’m sure Matsuri must have figured out that this must be the best way to get her money back or at least kick it till it dishes out your purchased drink. Ever try buying from a different machine, girl? They should have called it venting machine too…

12) As a shoulder to cry on
Yume De Aetara

 Yume De Aetara

If you’re feeling like a loser and a jerk just because you forgot to ask the girl her name, phone number or address after falling in love with her at first sight, what better way than to pour out your misery at the vending machine? They may not be able to pat you on your shoulder but at least they don’t talk back, right?

13) An indication that you’re lost
Pani Poni Dash

Pani Poni Dash

What happens when you see a vending machine smack right in the middle of the forest? Oh hell, that can only mean you’re lost. Very lost. Where the heck did they get the power outlet anyway? Do monkeys and tigers really buy those stuff? Is it a thoughtful idea for people who are lost to rest and have a drink after meaningless hours of meandering? If you have time to ponder all that, you should have used that time to find your way out.

14) As a secret passageway
Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn

Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn

Having secret passageways hiding behind bookshelves has become so old fashion. By using a vending machine, you can blend the path to your secret hideout with the city itself. We all know how big the Vongola base is in the future, right? It would be just wrong to have a single entrance faraway from the city instead of entry points at certain locations in the city. Just remember to but an ‘out of order’ sign so that unsuspecting and unwanted people won’t use it.

15) To play hide-and-seek
Kobato

Kobato

If you’re a naive and dumb person like Kobato, then I guess using the vending machine to play hide-and-seek will be a breeze. One of the many perfect places to hide from ‘it’ since the vending machine is bigger than the average human and especially little kids. Yeah, she can spend hours looking and looking without noticing the obvious is right under her nose.

And the best use of them all…

16) To time travel
Gintama

Gintama

Accidentally killed someone? Moreover, somebody who is a prince of an alien planet? Oh yeah, what better way than to escape or turn back time by heading towards the nearest vending machine to undo the act. Even if Gintoki demonstrates this silly panic act and was nowhere successful (because you couldn’t fit the rest of your body except your head lah!), but imagine the potential if this possibility was true. In short, a future without errors! “G…G…Gotta…F…F…Find a time machine…”.

Chill out…
Aren’t they useful, no? Yeah I know it only happens in anime. Another feature of vending machines in animes is for of course product placement. You know the power of advertisement? What better way for Easter Eggs and trivia for those with sharp eyes and spot them whether goods or advertised publicity (notice the one in Angel Beats?). Then there are many other types of vending machines not only dispensing drinks. We have seen ones that dispense candies, trading cards, cigarettes and little tit-bits all in various shapes, designs and sizes. Of course another famous variant and cousin is the Gachapon vending machine whereby you get your cute chibi palm size anime figurines in capsules. For those who are hardcore fans of a particular anime series, I’m sure there are vending machines that sell their favourite anime merchandise. I’m waiting for a time when you can just purchase anime via vending machine. Oh heck, it won’t cost you just a few coins, but a few big notes. A big possible target for thieves if I should say. Otherwise I don’t see the trend of vending machines dying out soon or in the near future. Too bad I just can’t use it as a time machine…

Bakemonogatari

October 26, 2010

Usually I don’t like ghost stories or tales that has supernatural elements as its main theme. However Bakemonogatari is an exception. Besides having a supernatural occult theme, it is also funny with a fair share of parodies and play on words and of course romance. Romance in a ghost story? Doesn’t that mean a tragic story? At least not that I can see here.

Our main protagonist is a high school kid, Koyomi Araragi. He’s not a normal kid. He is an ex-vampire. I think he is the first guy I ever know that has turned back into a normal human being from a vampire. Usually you don’t right? However he isn’t exactly back to normal. After being ‘cured’ by a weird but expert in the oddities area, Meme Oshino, Araragi still has super eyesight and his wounds heal very fast. It’s like stuck between a human and a supernatural, eh?

The series is divided into several arcs and there are 5 of them, each with a particular animal that symbolizes them. Each of them focuses and introduces a particular girl because she seems to have or being possessed by an oddity. And kind ol’ Araragi isn’t the kind of guy who would sit around and do nothing. He likes to help them out. It’s just a coincidence they’re all girls. Really. So you could say that this show can also be considered a harem but I have mixed feelings about it. Well, most of them though they do have feelings for him but it isn’t the kind where you really see them fighting over each other over him. It’s like they’re very good friends.

Another ‘odd’ thing about this series is that the total number of episodes are allocated to 15. Since it is too long for an average season, only the first 12 are shown. The remaining are then released through the production company’s website as ONA (original net anime). Why not OVA? Probably to keep viewers guessing because the release dates were also a mystery. It’s anybody’s guess. Release when they want to, eh? I was thinking why didn’t they put 13 then? Probably they don’t want to interrupt a crucial point for the final arc. How about 14 then? Only Haruhi Suzumiya can pull that one off. Haha.

Hitagi Crab
In episode 1, one day Araragi caught a girl, Hitagi Senjougahara falling off the stairs. The odd part is not her falling (if you must know, she slipped on a banana peel), but rather she is almost weightless when he caught her! Araragi talks about this to his class rep friend, Tsubasa Hanekawa. We learn Senjougahara has a weak body due to an illness and unlike her energetic days of being in the track club during junior high school years, Senjougahara now is cold and distant. When Araragi leaves, he is caught by surprise and held at stapler-point-blank in his mouth by Senjougahara. She isn’t happy someone else knows her secret though she mentions a crab took her weight just before entering high school. Better listen to what she says. Though he promises not to tell anyone else, Senjougahara fires a warning bullet shot into his inner mouth! Ouch! It’s pain though it soon healed. But Araragi isn’t going to let this sad case slip by and confronts her again. Woah. You should see all the stationery Senjougahara pulled out from underneath her clothes as her arsenal! Where does she keep them?! Just amazing. Araragi isn’t here to fight but wants to help her by introducing her to Oshino. He shows the healed stapler bruise as proof. After school they head to Oshino’s place and it seems that guy lives in an abandoned cram school. There’s this quiet vampire loli whom Oshino named her as Shinobu, always sitting melancholy around the place or at a corner. After explaining, Oshino says that Senjougahara’s weight was taken away by a crab god and will help her (though it isn’t for free). Some play on the word Omoshikani (weight crab) which is probably corrupted from the word Omoshikami (heavy stone god).

In episode 2, Oshino tells Senjougahara to go home and clean herself. Araragi accompanies her home and learns that it all started when her mom got involved in a religious cult which led to her family being divorced and she living with her dad now. Viewers may initially think Senjougahara flaunting off her hot body for fanservice purpose but she did mention something about the clothes being heavy. I know, she’s weightless. Hey, how did she keep those stationery then? Also, she loves teasing Araragi and she even admits she’s the tsundere type. You’ll love the way she uses her words and sarcasm to corner and put him in a bind. That night the leave for Oshino’s place and the ritual begins with Oshino giving her something to drink and asking her questions in which leads them to reveal her painful past. Senjougahara’s mom joined the cult to cure her ill daughter but one day that religious head who came to her house nearly raped her. It was made worse when her mom didn’t do anything and allowed the rape! She would’ve lost her virginity if Senjougahara had not fight back. Because of that, her mom got penalized by the cult which left them in financial difficulty. Soon after, Senjougahara then sees the crab god and that’s when it took her weight and feelings for her mom away (the word ‘omoi’ can mean both words in Japanese). In reality, Oshino says that was her feelings and when she opens her eyes, she sees that crab god again. Senjougahara is hesitant to say something so the crab reacts violently by pinning her against the wall. Oshino has no choice but to force the crab off her. Senjougahara regains her composure and apologizes to the crab and pleads for her weight and mother back. Though she has got her weight and feelings back, but she couldn’t get back her mom. In the end, Senjougahara is grateful and has made an important friend: Araragi. Next morning, Araragi finds his weight tremendously increased by the crab god. Damn…

Mayoi Snail
It’s Mother’s Day in episode 3 but Araragi isn’t happy that his little sisters Karen and Tsukihi are bugging him for the day’s celebrations, so he ‘escapes’ to the playground on that morning. He meets Senjougahara there and she somehow becomes his self proclaimed girlfriend complete with all the teasing and turning on that one would easily mistake as it to be. Araragi declines her ‘nice’ offer to be his girlfriend but do you think she’ll give up? Senjougahara learns his Mother’s Day escape since his sisters are quite close to his mom and he felt he didn’t belong there. Araragi notices a little girl with a large backpack, Mayoi Hachikuji lost and staring at the map for quite a while. He approaches her but she tells him to go away and hates him! After several times of asking and then going back, Araragi finally slams her head to the wall! Of course anybody would get mad so the duo duke it out in some acrobatic brawl which has Araragi the winner and Hachikuji knocked out. It would be embarrassing if he lost to a little girl. But why is he laughing like a triumphant bully? Senjougahara comes by so it’s understandable she’s disgusted but is willing to help out since she knows the area well. Hachikuji comes to and in her daze says she isn’t a lost child but a lost snail.

The trio continue to search in episode 4. As they pass by an area Senjougahara used to live, they learn Hachikuji is on her way to visit her mom Tsunade (hey, it’s Mother’s Day). However as much as they try to find the place, they can never seem to reach it. Even GPS isn’t working. Senjougahara decides to go see Oshino by borrowing his bicycle while Araragi is left with Hachikuji. I noticed Hachikuji quite afraid of Senjougahara but a total opposite towards Araragi – biting his hand and purposely stuttering his name. Hey, do snails bite? It’s odd to see the duo duking out once more. Soon Hanekawa passes by and after getting introduced to Hachikuji, learns Araragi was with Senjougahara. She asks if they’re dating but he doesn’t give a definite answer. Araragi then gets a call from Oshino. Something about the kanji writing of a snail and cow and her name ‘hachiku’ can be read as ‘yaku’ (misfortune). He also says that since this involves a spirit rather than a god, the process ritual won’t be that complicated. We can tell tsundere-chan has reached Oshino’s place by the change in his talk. He has given her instructions on what to do.

Flashback on Hachikuji’s past in episode 5 whereby she was the only child but her parents were bitterly divorced. Her dad took custody of her and prohibited any contact with her mom. This caused her to worry that she’ll forget how she looked like and thus the reason for wanting to go see her. But that was 10 years ago when she went on that journey but never get to see her mom because she had an accident! When Senjougahara returns (she hints she could smell Hanekawa was here! Scary!), she tells Araragi straight that she can’t see Hachikuji! She always pretended to have seen her and never said anything because she thought it would be odd if she did so (she just experienced an oddity herself, right?). In short, Hachikuji is already dead and a spirit! Wow. Now Araragi can see dead people. Even so Araragi is determined to help her get home. Senjougahara confesses she loves him. With directions provided by Oshino, they arrive at Hachikuji’s house but it is no longer there and only a vacant plot. Happy tears well up Hachikuji’s eyes as she rushes into the bright emitting light and disappear. In the aftermath, Araragi and Senjougahara talk about how the former is willing to help anyone in trouble so because of that she doesn’t really feel indebted nor is anyone that special to him. Nevertheless he is still special to her. She admits it is fun talking to him (I guess that means teasing him) and would like to talk with him more often (tease him more often, she means?). They make a promise to be honest with each other. Araragi also promises himself not to miss next year’s Mother’s Day. Next day, Araragi bumps into Hachikuji and it seems she has been ‘promoted’ from a haunting spirit to a wandering spirit. Looks like she’ll be hanging around for a while.

Suruga Monkey
In episode 6, Araragi meets Hachikuji on the streets as she learns he is planning to study at Senjougahara’s house to study for his upcoming exams. A basketball club member and Araragi’s underclassman, Suruga Kanbaru, passes by to say hi to him. He notices her bandaged left arm and due to that she isn’t playing basketball for a while. That night Araragi heads to Senjougahara’s home to study. The usual teasing and mocking that makes Araragi inferior to the all-high-and-mighty Senjougahara. She says she has never broken up with a guy and will not with him (has she ever had a boyfriend before him?). They talk about Kanbaru and it seems both girls were close friends and that Kanbaru knew Senjougahara’s secret a year before Araragi found out and was subjected to the same hostile treatment. Thus they’re no longer that close now. Araragi heads home once his study is done. He calls Hanekawa for info on Kanbaru and based on what the bespectacled bookworm knows, Senjougahara and Kanbaru were known as Valhalla Combo (derived from their last names combination). She advises him not to dig too deep into Senjougahara’s past. Araragi notices a figure in a raincoat stalking him. It makes no hesitation in punching him and beating him up! Bloody! Blood all over the place! He notices the bandages and suspects it’s Kanbaru. The figure leaves but Araragi is badly bruised. Senjougahara comes by because Araragi forgot to take the payment she has for Oshino when he left. I guess part of being tsundere is to chide him for forgetting something as a cover up than to show concern for his wounds.

Seems Araragi uses the accident of crashing into a pole as his injury source in episode 7. Though she knows he can heal himself but the degree of injuries will take quite a while so she decides to ‘heal’ him in a different way. She just stands over his head. What’s wrong? She’s wearing a skirt… I’m sure the view was breathtaking :). Later Araragi suspects the attacker as Kanbaru and visits her home. She admits she was the one who attacked him and unwraps her bandage to reveal a monstrous monkey paw. She says she feels the arm had a mind of its own and doesn’t remember much of what happened last night. If that wasn’t shocking, Kanbaru’s next revelation should be. She admits she is a lesbian and in love with Senjougahara, though it is unrequited. This explains all those yuri and yaoi books all strewn over her room. Kanbaru tried to help Senjougahara’s problem but was rejected but unlike Araragi, she didn’t pursue further on. Then she saw her chatting happily with him and got jealous and made a wish on that paw. Araragi takes Kanbaru to see Oshino. He says that isn’t a monkey’s paw but of a devil’s since the former doesn’t attach itself to the owner. The devil is known as Rainy Devil since it wears a raincoat. It will grant its owner 3 wishes and once the wishes are fulfilled, his/her soul will be taken in exchange.

Episode 8 begins with a flashback. When Suruga was newly transferred to school and in the track club, she wished upon the paw her late mom left her to run faster because she was always being teased. The result was all her track mates were brutally assaulted. Because of that she got afraid and didn’t join the track club but the basketball one. She soon met Senjougahara and fell in love with her after a while. She had the urge to use the wish when she got rejected by her but couldn’t hold back when she saw her with Araragi. Oshino offers 2 solutions: Either chop off her left arm or let her kill him. Oshino points out that the paw didn’t twist Kanbaru’s wish because a devil’s role is to fulfil its owner’s wish. Which means, Kanbaru’s wish was for her mates to be beaten up. That includes that night of her intention to kill Araragi then. He also concludes that she is fully aware of her surroundings when the paw took control. Araragi lets Shinobu suck his blood and though he has gained 1/10 of a vampire’s strength, it won’t be enough for what’s coming. In a tightly sealed room, Araragi confronts Rainy Devil (Kanbaru in raincoat). He lets her beat him up. The blood and gore is over the top! OMG! She snapped out his guts and throws him around! Horror! Araragi then realized that Kanbaru is using her other limbs, which means Kanbaru hasn’t given up on Senjougahara and is still bent on killing him unconsciously. Kanbaru is to deliver the final blow on a very weakened Araragi but Senjougahara suddenly comes in (Oshino called her). She chides both of them. She emphasizes that if Kanbaru had killed Araragi, she will kill Kanbaru no matter what. And her determination was enough to make Kanbaru backed down. Araragi realized this was another solution because since Senjougahara proclaimed bravely of that revenge deed of hers, it would make Rainy Devil unable to fulfil the wish and thus the contract dissolved. Wow. A devil afraid of this woman? The girls get a little yuri though Kanbaru confesses her love but Senjougahara apologizes she can’t return them. In the aftermath though Kanbaru’s left arm hasn’t recovered, she doesn’t mind it and continues to be good friends with Araragi and Senjougahara.

Nadeko Snake
In episode 9, Araragi and Kanbaru head to a shrine to put a charm there as instructed by Oshino. Why is Kanbaru clinging on to him like as though his girlfriend? Well, she did mention she don’t mind being his love slave or use her body for Senjougahara. And why did Senjougahara allow this? Well, she said to take good care of her friend too. He’s really in a bind, eh? On their way, a girl named Nadeko Sengoku passes them in the opposite direction. She knows Araragi but he doesn’t remember her. They reach the shrine area but the place is decimated. After placing the charm, they noticed the entire area filled with chopped up snake carcasses. Araragi then remembered Sengoku, a childhood friend of his sisters. Next day Araragi goes to the library to do research on this but meets Hanekawa. Other than the snake shrine ritual conversation, they also touch on Araragi-Senjougahara’s relationship (“being kind to everybody is irresponsible…”) and Hanekawa’s desire to not enrol in college when she graduates but to tour the world. Hanekawa experiences slight headache and excuses herself. He then sees Sengoku but she runs away. He notices the book she had in hand was about snake curses. Knowing her next move, Araragi and Kanbaru go back to the shrine to stop Sengoku just in time before she disfigures another snake. They take her back to Araragi’s home (Kanbaru excited to find what porn mags he read?!). Sengoku takes off her clothes not for fanservice purpose (okay, maybe partly). Her reason is to show her body (not that show off lah!) as the rest are shocked to see snake scales over it! Sengoku breaks down, pleading Araragi to save her.

Oshino’s explanation in episode 10 reveals that Sengoku’s Snake Constrictor was due to a wish of a person’s malice. The snake will slowly constrict its victim, strangling him/her to a slow death and once the mark reaches the head, you’re gone. Oshino says that Sengoku’s reading up to kill the snakes wasn’t wrong, just that she got the process wrong. Plus, she had bad luck. Luckily Oshino’s instruction to place the charm at the shrine averted lots of negative supernatural effects since lots of bad things started gathering there when Shinobu appeared in this town. He gives Sengoku a charm to pray at that shrine. On the way, Araragi learns that Sengoku’s friend had a crush on a boy. But that boy confessed to Sengoku and she rejected him because she loved someone else (hint, hint). Her friend hated her and thus cursed her. At the shrine, the process begins. The scales start coming off though very slowly. Suddenly Sengoku is in pain and it hit Araragi that there are 2 snakes instead of 1. Not only Sengoku friend cursed her, but the boy who confessed slowly started to hate and cursed her too. Araragi remembers Oshino’s advice not to directly remove it because the snake may constrict him and even if it escapes, it will return to its owner (the one who cursed). Araragi has no choice so he forcefully removes the invisible snake or Sengoku will die and gets attacked and bitten during the struggle. He is ready to go after the escaping snake but Kanbaru restrains him in order for the poison not to spread quickly inside his poison. She also thinks he is trying to save the wrong person. The snake escapes as Sengoku is healed and thanks him. But Araragi feels he doesn’t deserve it because he tried to save the person who tried to curse her.

Tsubasa Cat
In episode 11, during Golden Week, Araragi notices a bandage over Hanekawa’s cheek. She explains due to her family stress of remarriages, they sometimes take it out on her. That’s why she stayed away from home as much as possible and goes out for walks. At that time, they found a dead white cat and buried it. She wants Araragi promise her he will not tell anyone else. In present time, Araragi talks to Sengoku as she gives him back the bloomers and swimsuit she borrowed to him. Sengoku flees in her embarrassment when Hanekawa appears. As Araragi and Hanekawa talk, she suddenly experiences painful headaches so he thinks it must’ve got something to do with that event during Golden Week. Back then, she experienced the same problem and her hair turned white and soon a cat girl! As Oshino explained, this Sawarineko represents a multiple personality order of Hanekawa and the cat comes out when Hanekawa is stressed. In order to reduce her stress, her alter ego randomly attacked people that included her parents and drained their life energy. She cornered Araragi and was going to pound on him when Shinobu appeared and suck her powers (Shinobu’s power as a vampire had the same effect too), returning Hanekawa to normal.

Episode 12 doesn’t feel like it has to do with Hanekawa’s arc. Instead a ‘diversion’ arc between Araragi and Senjougahara. Seems Araragi is totally overjoyed when he learns he is finally going out on a date with Senjougahara. What he didn’t expect was her father to come along with them! Oh sh*t! Who could blame him for being nervous as her dad drives them to their spot. Because of that, Senjougahara asks him ‘tough’ questions that need careful consideration before shooting his mouth. “Do you love me?”. Double sh*t. It gets worse when she starts teasing him and gently strokes his lap! (Maybe her dad was busy having his eyes on the road than to peep every 3 seconds what’s going on behind). Very seductive but he must control his urges (if he has any – but I guess he’s more of afraid than turned on). She gets dirty by licking his ear! Yeow! When the car is parked in a spot, Senjougahara leaves the car for the guys to be alone. Triple sh*t! Lots of things must be running through his head. However daddy explains he doesn’t spend much time with his daughter due to work and was surprised to see Senjougahara smiled like this ever since she met him. He wishes him to take care of his daughter. Senjougahara returns and takes Araragi through the woods. Lying down on a mat, he opens his eyes to see the beautiful starry sky. She says this is all she has to give him (besides her body), her treasure. Because of some bastard who nearly raped her, she was afraid of losing Araragi. He takes her hand and says although she was unhappy, it was able to attract him. She now asks him if he loves her. Without a doubt he says yes and that there’s nothing he hate about her (wow, he’s firm about this now after all the teasing he went through). Finally she asks him to kiss her.

I don’t know why Araragi was extremely molesting Hachikuji in episode 13 but I realized he was so happy about his outing that he ‘took it out’ on her! Sicko! I can’t blame Hachikuji for biting back. Araragi learns that she spotted Shinobu alone outside a donut shop. Later he decides to skip class to meet Hanekawa who is surprisingly doing so. Senjougahara will gladly cover for him. At the park, he sees Hanekawa in her pyjamas and cap sitting there. Thinking it has to be that Golden Week problem, he decides to ask her several questions to get an idea on what’s going on but the talk always drifted towards lame radio postcard jokes sent in by anonymous senders. Araragi has her remove her cap, which reveals her cat ears. On their way to Oshino, Hanekawa hints that his vampire powers may have made him popular with girls. As soon as they arrive, Oshino knocks her unconscious so her cat personality quickly takes over. This is because it’ll be faster if they ask the other side in person.

The cat girl is being tied up in episode 14 as Oshino explains that Hanekawa must’ve undergone lots of stress for her alter ego to pop out. The problem is they don’t know her root of her stress. Family problems? But that took donkey years to accumulate rather than just the 9 days during Golden Week, right? Even so, they need Shinobu’s powers to suppress her. And yeah, Oshino hints to Araragi that he isn’t going to be around forever. Araragi enlists the help of the other girls to find Shinobu (he finds out they were the anonymous senders of those lame radio postcard jokes). During his search, Araragi gets a surprise when the cat escaped and joins him in his search. Naturally a cat is playful so I guess it’s natural for her to be quite the teaser she is. If she was an otaku icon… Finding Shinobu should be easier due to her keen sense and smell but their efforts are futile. The cat tells him that humans and supernatural creatures are incompatible with each other and will never get along. And then something about Shinobu not liking Araragi bringing back lots of oddities to Oshino’s place recently because it diminishes her uniqueness. Finally she offers a solution to turn Hanekawa back without using Shinobu. And that is to identify the main source of her stress and deal with it directly. So what is her stress? Straight from the cat’s mouth, Hanekawa is in love with him and if he falls in love with her, the cat is as good as gone.

Episode 15 has the cat explain how Hanekawa fell in love with Araragi for the first time when she saw him in a battle against several oddities (that messy scene in the first episode) and won. Because of her family stress, I guess she developed some sort of fairytale-like love for him of a human falling in love with a vampire would be cool (Twilight anyone?). However Hanekawa suppressed her feelings so good that Araragi didn’t suspect a thing. Yup, that guy still can’t believe it and thinks it must be some other reason. Her stress reached tipping point not when she spotted Araragi and Senjougahara’s relationship making a healthy progress, but to her it was like as though he was showing off in front of her. Perhaps Araragi knows what’s good for him if he two-timed Senjougahara. Oh wait, he asserts his love for tsundere girl. Cat girl has no choice but to rid the source of Hanekawa’s stress: Araragi. She grabs him to suck his life force and another very bloody scene. Araragi is ready to accept his death for Hanekawa’s sake but thinking back if he dies, Senjougahara would come after her so that’s a no-no. She mocks him that helped people but no one is coming to his rescue. Araragi then calls out to Shinobu’s name for help. The vampire loli emerges out of Araragi’s shadow and swiftly neutralizes the cat girl and turn her back to Hanekawa. Then she sinks back into his shadow. I don’t get it. How in the first place was she hiding in his shadow? Anyway in the aftermath it is narrated that Shinobu continues to live in his shadow because Oshino has already left town. He had left Araragi signs but he didn’t realize them till it’s too late. Oshino was the one responsible of letting Shinobu and the cat girl loose because he had confidence Araragi could handle them by himself. And right he was. Araragi and the girls (minus Hachikuji) linger around the abandoned cram school for a while, Senjougahara and Araragi continue to date each other, Hanekawa’s recollection of that incident isn’t certain as she acts as though nothing has happened and for the cultural festival, the gang decide on, make a guess, a haunted house.

Ming Otaku
Ah well, I have a little mixed feelings over the way it all ended. It is a good thing that the oddities in the girls Araragi met have been solved but with the slightly opened ending, it threw up a little more questions and had me wanting to know them more. Especially Shinobu. If this series was made a little longer, probably we would have another arc focusing on her. And her animal would probably be a bat because vampires are well, associated with bats, right? Then maybe we could have an arc for Araragi’s sisters, Karen and Tsukihi. And their animal symbol will be hamsters. Huh? Cute and energetic, don’t you think. Well, if you consider the annoying task (at least to Araragi) of violently waking him up from bed every morning and eventually doing some submission move on him. Overall, this series is intriguing and interesting enough to make me sit and totally focus on the story even if I don’t understand some of the explanations or knowledge in certain areas.

Even if you’re not into the story or don’t find it compelling enough, then I guess the other reason why you should watch this show is because of the visual art. Come to think of it, it reminds me a little of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (SZS). No kidding. Both these series are produced by SHAFT. Uh oh. That means lots of words cluttering the screen, right? Thankfully, this series doesn’t have much of it and even if it does, the main one just happens at the early part of the episode. But even so that is manageable though you may still have to pause if you really want to read them. As for the visuals, they use a combination of different styles. The 2D drawing may be ordinary (if I look harder the characters here have that trademark look like those in SZS) but they also employ computer graphics, real photo cut-outs and texts. They are quite refreshing but sometimes can be real annoying especially some of the real images are purposely put and shown in a very messy way. Otherwise, I would say they are quite creative in their presentation. Sometimes during comical moments, the characters’ drawing may turn them so different that it is as though they are from another comic strip. Then there are the camera angles with some of them shot in a different and interesting viewpoint.

Though I have mixed feelings, Senjougahara is one of my favourite characters because of her tsundere personality. I love the way she speaks her mind. She is aggressive, domineering, commanding and gets what she wants. If Araragi isn’t careful and if they ever get hitched, there’s a very big possibility that there is going to be total queen control. Her interaction with Araragi reminds me of Spice And Wolf’s Horo and Lawrence. In this case, it makes the latter one look mild :). It still bugs me how the heck she keeps all her stationery under her clothes. Whatever happened to that after her story arc? Where can you find a nice guy like Araragi in this world? Without a second thought, he helps those with oddities no matter what and wouldn’t even mind giving up his life for them. He may be like those typical hero protagonists with his sense of justice but at least he did something even if he relied on others to a certain extent. Better than most of us who just sit around waiting or praying for something to happen. I happen to notice the close-ups on Araragi’s face especially his eye whenever things get tense or dramatic. Apart from his various facial expressions which relays his moods, his ahoge (hair antenna) also serves as one.

The other girls may have their feelings for him but it didn’t amount to those that felt like it was fit for the harem genre. One was just grateful, another for her best friend’s love, another treating him as her older brother and one suppressing her feelings instead of letting them out to a point where I think she may be in denial that she even loved him. And even though there are some fanservice elements, it isn’t an overwhelming factor because when you think of a series that combines supernatural harem and fanservice, you’d think Rosario To Vampire, right? Is this show comparable to that? Don’t think so. However some of the scenes can be real gory and bloody so I don’t think it will be suitable for younger audiences. Heck, the little fanservice should give a hint to that it is targeted for mature the audience.

Because Karen and Tsukihi don’t make much of a main appearance in the show, I guess their ‘appearance’ would be the next episode preview. Though it is shown in a chibi yonkoma style, their next episode preview is usually asking the viewers some preview quiz. Heck, they’re talking so fast that I sometimes don’t get the joke that they’re trying to say. And it is a little lengthier than usual for the ONA. Even I don’t understand the chibi yonkoma drawing what it’s all about. Apart from the Senjougahara-Araragi spat which also serves as comic relief, there are quite a number of trivia to spot. If you know them and are sharp enough to catch them. One of my favourite is when Senjougahara tried to impersonate Chiwa Saito’s voice (because she is the voice of her character) to mimic Araragi’s voice but totally failed! There are a few oddities that I’m wondering myself. Firstly, I thought Koyomi was and has always been a girl’s name. Till Araragi came along. Secondly, Shinobu has never spoken a single word throughout the series but her seiyuu has been credited to Aya Hirano! Is this a joke?

There are several opening themes for this series, each sung by the voice actress of that particular heroine. However most of them just appear for 1 episode especially during the arc that they are being focused on. The dance pop feel of Hachikuji’s Kaerimichi (by Emiri Katou), the energetic rock pop of Kanbaru’s Ambivalent World (Miyuki Sawashiro) and the cute rap-like of Sengoku’s Renai Circulation (Kana Hanazawa) only had 1 appearance while the dramatic pop of Hanekawa’s Sugar Sweet Nightmare (Yui Horie) made 2 appearances. Senjougahara’s catchy pop Staple Stable (Chiwa Saito) covers 5 episodes randomly throughout the series and if you count the balance, there are 5 episodes without an opening theme. The ending theme is fixed though they may vary in terms of animation. Entitled Kimi No Shiranai Monogatari by Supercell, surprisingly I find this rock piece catchy too. There are a few background music in the series ranging from jazzy to eerie and dramatic.

Even if you are not that superstitious, it pays to respect the supernatural because they are something that science can’t properly explain and has been brought down through generations (via our grandma’s scary stories). With guys like Araragi around handling the oddities in Oshino’s absence, I’m sure the town won’t turn into one filled with mindless zombies like Resident Evil. And if you’re wondering the ‘otaku’ as an ‘animal’ in my final heading, yeah sure we are another kind of those species that prefer to stay indoors and not sociable with the outside world. There are lots of different categories that range from imouto-types to hikikomoris. Some are obsessed with their idols and spend their whole life trying to emulate them from what to wear to what they do and even memorize all the lyrics in their albums. So considering all this and more, don’t you think otakus are such an oddity themselves? Yeah, you’ll hear that in bakamonogatari (stupid story) or bokemonogatari (idiotic story).

 

Bakemonogatari

Durarara!!

October 23, 2010

Despite its strange name, Durarara!! is more of a supernatural action thriller rather than a show for toddlers. Why do I say that? Heck, I don’t even know what the title is supposed to mean so I thought those gibberish may appeal to younger audiences at first thought. But this series is for mature audiences as it has some questionable violence and gang wars in it. Questionable as in exaggerated. Well, that’s what I thought. If you think Ikebukuro is one of those commercial and entertainment districts in Japan, wait till you see its darker underground side. At least in this anime.

As introduced in episode 1, Mikado Ryuugamine returns to Ikebukuro after 4 years of hikikomori shut in-like in his house in the countryside. Wow. He’s got to be bold to take such a brave new step in life. The reason? His parents want him to attend Raira Private Academy, supposedly a good reputable school. He is picked up by his pal, Masaomi Kida as he brings Mikado around the various places in the vicinity. They talk about the gang wars and violence in the streets these days. On the way, they meet Kida’s pals, Erika Karisawa, Walker Yumasaki, Kyouhei Kadota and Saburo Togusa. A girl named Magenta meets a guy she supposedly knew, Nakura. He leads her to a bunch of guys waiting in the van but it’s a trap to kidnap her. Mikado and Kida continue to meet the other people the latter knows like Samia AKA Simon Brezhnev, a black Russian of American descent working as a sushi chef but also a tout (how diverse can you get with this guy?!). In short, don’t mess with him. They also meet Shizuo Heiwajima who likes throwing big objects when mad. In short, stay out of his sight. Meanwhile the kidnappers are waiting for someone when a black biker lady shows up. They get violent but she uses her bike to smash 1 of them and banged another’s head to the wall till he bleeds! Overkill! She goes after the last one but soon crashes. The guy thought it’s over but she gets up without a head! She pulls out a scythe and cuts him! Kido tells Mikado the people he should stay away from apart from the gangs: the Yakuza, Izaya Orihaya and The Dollars. They bump into a girl with a scar on her neck but she runs away in panic. Kido feels Mikado is lucky and will have a swell time with him around. Then they see the urban legend zooming pass them: The black motorbike-cum-headless rider.

New semester at Raira begins in episode 2. We are introduced to some of the characters. Anri Sonohara, a girl who seems like she wants to escape from the worldliness. Rio Kamichika (Magenta), a girl with a mysterious past and supposedly to have died 2 days ago. Seiji Yagiri, a guy coming to class late just to say he can’t attend them anymore because he’s got an important business to attend to. Rio’s flashback on how she was sent pics of her dad cheating on mom with another woman. She kept it a secret and it became awkward. She met an online guy, Nakura, who shared the same past and he decided they meet up to do suicide. That’s when the kidnapping event happened as they’re being watched and the headless rider despatched. After disposing the kidnappers and freeing Rio, the biker, Celty Sturlson (communicating via PDA text because she’s got no head, remember? But you’ll hear her speak since it’s a pain to read her little PDA typing every time. Saves a lot this way) gives her a lift to a rooftop to meet the real Nakura. Rio learns he set everything up from the kidnapping to the rescue to see her emotions, reactions, etc. He brings her to the ledge where people have leapt off (bloodstains on the ground) and continues mocking her. She almost falls when she tries to slap him but he grabbed her hand. After he leaves, Rio actually jumps down! But a mysterious shadow cushions her fall and she survives. It is Celty and in response to Rio’s question on why she did that: “The world isn’t as cruel as you think”. That’s when Rio has her eyes opened, view things differently and has hope to continue living. Celty meets up with Nakura who is actually Izaya. She confronts him about his recent actions. She, a deliverer, isn’t happy that he, an informant, is ‘responsible’ for the previous one that died but he says he isn’t such a bad guy. Though he notes he’s not kind enough to stop someone who wants to die.

Anri volunteers to be the class rep in episode 3 so Mikado volunteers to be one for the boys. Kida thinks he’s such a playboy so after school he drags him out to the city while he tries to hit on girls (major flop!). We learn gangs are represented by a certain colour, thus the term Colour Gangs. But a certain gang without any colour has been increasing its influence of late. They are The Dollars and they recruit members via website. Mikado and Kida bump into Kadota and co. They talk about Dollars and its rumours. Kadota warns not to go near them even out of curiosity. Mikado and Kida spot Anri being harassed by a group of ganguro girls and one of their boyfriend, Hiroshi, supposedly from Dollars. Mikado thinks of rescuing her but is nervous. Izaya happened to show up and push him into their conversation. Izaya lectures them with his poetry and repetitively stomps on 1 of their handphones! Hiroshi goes to beat him up but he and the ganguro girls retreat in fear when half of Hiroshi’s hair suddenly shave itself off. Kida seems to know Izaya and wonders why he’s back at Ikebukuro. He came to see someone and already got in touch. Suddenly a vending machine hits Izaya. It’s Shizuo and he has a grudge against him. As they both prepare to fight, Hiroshi returns with his gang. One of them panics and whacks his stick on Shizuo’s head. Shizuo shows his fury by punching him away so much so his clothes also flew off! Shizuo takes on the entire gang by himself. Izaya tries to use this chance to escape so Shizuo throws another vending machine. But Simon appears to catch it and they start trading fists. Mikado takes Anri and runs away amidst the chaos. At a safe location, she thanks him and rushes off. Seiji seems to have found the person he’s searching for. That scar girl, supposedly the love of his life. Shizuo talks to his friend Celty about Izaya’s return and isn’t happy that his chance to kill him was interrupted by Simon.

Shinra Kishitani, an unlicensed underground doctor knows a lot about Celty. That’s because he lives with her! Episode 4 has him narrate about her and her past. She’s a Dullahan, a fairy from Celtic folklore. She seems to be searching for an old man. So how can she see, hear, talk, etc without a head? Must be that broad sense thingy. 20 years ago when she realized her existence, she was already headless and knew how to use her abilities. She thought if she could get back her head, she’d find out the truth about her existence. Relying on her senses, she sensed her head has gone to Japan and needed to get there and transforms her headless horse into a motorbike. In present time, Celty and Shizuo go see an old man drawing portraits. He was a witness of a Dullahan when he was living in Ireland. She asks about her head but he insists that she did not have any to begin with and shows his sketches of a headless Dullahan. Celty returns to Shinra and they discuss about the possibilities she has no head at all and that guy may have seen wrongly. He wants her to give up her search and just like the old guy said, she doesn’t really need one (on an unrelated note, this may sound like an insult). He also wants to go somewhere with him and may even take her back to her homeland. Celty isn’t happy and storms off. Shinra continues narrating Celty’s past. When she stowed away on a ship, Shinra was 4 years old then when he spotted her in the cargo area. He informed his dad, Shingen, as he struck a deal to do autopsy on her in exchange for a place to stay. On the autopsy table, she was in extreme pain even with anaesthetics. She has organs but don’t work, like as though she’s a living anatomical model. Her flesh also heals back. Shingen gave him a knife to dissect her but thanks to that, he got what it takes to be a doctor. Yeah, starting them young.

While Celty is on a job to retrieve a stolen bag in episode 5, a mysterious figure known as Slasher stabs her from behind, slices off her head and fled. But she heard her wounds telling her she’s a monster! She thinks that was an alien?! Kida and his usual romantic poetic rant as he even tries to get Anri to go out with him. Flashback on the day Seiji left class, teacher Nasujima talks with Anri on how he went through great lengths to arrange her and best pal Mika Harima in the same class (is he trying to seduce her?). But Mika never showed up since as Nasujima indicates to rely on him and some Mr Saito told him to take care of her. Kida spots the ‘harassment’ and jokes about spreading it so he leaves. Mikado, Anri and Kida hang out together and talk about Nasujima’s probably flirting with school girls. Anri tells them about missing Mika. She left a message that she’s on a trip to ease her grief. To the guys’ surprise, Mika is a stalker! Kida concludes Mika liked Seiji but got rejected. In a way, Anri feels bad for relying and using her so she thought being a class rep would able to surpass her. When they part, Mikado feels the need of a strong organization like Dollars to help search. Kida thinks he wants to join them so he advises not to. Kida alone goes to meet Kadota and co at Russian sushi bar to ask more info on Dollars to prevent Mikado from joining. Unfortunately they don’t have much info on them either. They talk about gang battles between Yellow Scarves and Blue Squares. Mikado spots Seiji with the scar girl and notes she isn’t Mika. Seiji tells him to stop bothering them as they’re eloping. Mikado sees Kida being taken to an alley by Yellow Scarves members. Then that Celty-Slasher scene from the beginning and that commotion prompts Kida and Mikado to get out. The Yellow Scarves bump into Slasher as it slashes them all. Izaya visits a girl in hospital, Saki Mikajima, and they know each other.

Episode 6 sees Kadota and co chasing down those kidnappers back in episode 1 (they survived?). They catch them and have them spill details on human kidnapping for experiments. This was what happened 8 hours ago as it’s known as the famous Kaztano incident. The 3 kidnappers enter a rundown building (all tenants fled in fear upon seeing them?) to kidnap a foreigner, Kaztano. He tried to escape but was caught though he managed to SMS Kadota about it. However they dismissed it thinking it was a joke and continued their meal at the sushi bar. Kaztano was put to sleep since he was struggling but the potion was also splashed onto all of them during that. Remember, driving in this manner is dangerous. Though Kaztano is still drowsy, he can still thank and convinces them to leave 1 of their sleeping comrades on the road (that guy has his handphone in his pocket). When Kadota and co return to Kaztano’s place, they realize he’s telling the truth. Kaztano meant a lot to Togusa so they’re going after him. Luckily a little kid at the place, Hashim, spotted the kidnappers’ van and was able to give descriptions. Kadota calls Shinra about the incident and requests for Kaztano to be saved. A scientist lady, Namie, is behind these human experiments, seems to hold her brother, Seiji close to her heart.

Celty is despatched but realizes Shinra gave her a shopping list instead of the van’s number plate. Kadota narrates how Kaztano is Togusa’s life saviour because he was able to give him front seat tickets to an idol he worshiped like an eternal goddess, Ruri Hijiribe. WTF?! He calls Kaztano’s handphone but Izaya picks it up from the sleeping dude. However he has to cut short since Shizuo is hot on his trail throwing vending machines. Kadota fakes the kidnapper’s voice to call his comrades and reveal their whereabouts. Kadota narrates why they joined Dollars. One day they got a mail to join them, saying there are no rules or restrictions and all you need is to say you’re part of the gang. He was given a password and nickname that logged into Dollars’ site. Nobody has seen the face of Dollars’ leader. But he was curious to see who created this strange system and suspects Izaya. Kadota and co finally find the kidnappers. They’re ready to fight till Celty shows up. The kidnappers get scared, release Kaztano, repent never to do it again and fled but Kadota is hot on their heels (that chase scene in the beginning). They manage to get them to lead to a place supposedly where human experiments take place: Yagiri Pharmacy. But instead of checking it out right away, they decide to get breakfast first. Hey, can’t work on an empty stomach, can’t they?

Shizuo is in 1 of his bad moods, throwing things and hurting people in episode 7. He notices a movie poster of his brother, Kasuka or better known by his film name Yuuhei Hanejima, in a leading movie role, Vampire Ninja Carmilla Saizou. When some guy starts talking about Kasuka, Shizuo loses his temper and goes into a rage. Flashback of how it all started when he was a kid. He got provoked by the slightest teasing. He couldn’t control himself throwing things and as a result was always breaking his bones. But he didn’t care and continued doing so, thinking it as a way to make him stronger. One day a kind florist always noticed his injuries and gave him milk. On another day, he saw thugs threatening her. His instinct took over. Not only the thugs beaten up badly, the store and the florist too bear his brunt. Shizuo enrolled in Raira and his old pal Shinra was there too. Too bad so was Izaya. He hated him at first sight and ever since they tried killing each other. Though Shizuo wished for a peaceful life and hates violence, gang after gang just came after him and they fought. He thinks all this is Izaya’s setup. This even continues after graduation and Shizuo’s frequent job change. Till concerned Kasuka gave him bartender clothes. But 1 night he got setup by Izaya again. By the time he was proven innocent, Izaya had fled Ikebukuro. That’s when he met Tom Tanaka, a senpai from his school so he became his bodyguard for his debt collection agency while Kasuka bloomed as an actor. On a debt collecting round, a bunch of kids splash drinks on his beloved bartender suit so he tore the place apart. Back in reality, Shizuo starts calming down but the sight of Izaya makes his blood boil again. There are things that you just can’t stop hating.

Since Shinra notices Celty’s 1st day off in 265 days as a deliverer (he’s got nothing better to do than to keep such statistics?), he decides to take her somewhere in episode 8 but she decides to cook for him. Karisawa and Yumasaki seem to be searching for each other. A strange foreigner has Karisawa write in her sketchbook for things she’s looking for and she’ll go look for them. Kadota alone investigates Yagiri Pharmacy. Celty mistakes Shinra’s tears of joy for her horrible cooking. The conversation turns into that of searching for her head. Though Shinra is okay with the way she is now, Celty’s upset because she’s worried she’ll forget how she looks like. She storms off but when she returns, Shinra isn’t home and thinks he’s at work. Shinra seems to be treating a guy who nearly did a kamikaze at Yagiri Pharmacy by strapping dynamites around his body. The guy who brought him for the treatment thanks Shinra for keeping their big secret. Mikado spots the strange foreigner and goes through her he list of things to be found. Weird ones include “Head”. He writes his. At the end of the day, Shinra and Celty meet up and eat at Simon’s Russian sushi. They read their fortune cookies. Celty is happy that hers say “Lost and Found” but Shinra’s one read “Unrequited Love” and swallows it. Seiji is comforting and assuring his love for scar girl and he calls her Celty. That night, Celty has a wonderful dream whereby she was a whole and holding her head in her hands: It is the face of that scar girl.

Namie isn’t pleased that Seiji is not at his usual place despite recently contacting him in episode 9. She goes to see Izaya and wants him to look for Seiji. He thinks she’s madly in love with Seiji and acting like a stalker. Flashback how Namie and Seiji were always alone together when they’re young as their uncle took care of them. She noticed her uncle was always talking about ‘that thing’, staring and admiring it. It turned out to be Celty’s head in a jar. One day she showed it to Seiji and regretted it because he’s starting to like it, something that isn’t human or have a heart. In order to rid of it and ‘protect’ Seiji, she put it in her uncle’s lab as a research specimen. But 1 day when an American company, Nebula contacted them and she forgot her security card, it got stolen. Namie got a call from Seiji saying he killed someone. Namie felt relieved in a way and promised to protect him. Seems Seiji is slurping his ramen while the girl he killed lay lifeless on the floor. That girl is Mika and was stalking Seiji. She snuck in and saw ‘that thing’ Seiji stole and the rest as you could see. In present time, scar girl still feels insecure and wants Seiji to take her far away. She runs off and happens to pass by Celty. Their eyes met (ironically, Celty got no real eyes lah!) so Celty goes after her while Shizuo stalls Seiji. Even if Seiji sticks pens into Shizuo’s limbs, he’s not feeling any pain! Shizuo knocks him out temporarily. During the chase, scar girl bumps into Mikado. Without thinking, Mikado takes her and runs away. Celty loses them. She relates this to Shinra back home. She was in a middle of a job from Izaya and spotted Shizuo so they both chatted when she saw the scar girl. She’s not happy her head is on someone else’s body. Seiji is back at Namie’s place and very depressed and anxious. Namie says to leave everything to her since she loves him. But not wanting to regret, she calls her subordinates to capture her and if necessary, get rid of her on the spot. Scar girl is at Mikado’s rundown apartment as he learns she has amnesia. She notes she has to go before that person interferes.

Scar girl is fast asleep in episode 10 so Mikado calls Kida over for advice. He says he’ll have to wait and see, decide after listening to her. Next day in school, Kida shows Mikado a list called Dollars Degree Prediction. Vote for a person whom you suspect is part of Dollars? One can vote many times? Mikado notices Ryo Takiguchi has only 1 vote and that’s from Kida. He decides to meet him and confirm so. At the rooftop, Kida asks him directly so he admits it. He thought it was cool to join it when he received an anonymous SMS invitation. He also felt Dollars is kind of ‘colourless’ since it didn’t try to expand its influence by recruiting members unlike the Colour Gangs. He continues his frank answer how he met other Dollars members by coincidence (since members were just given online nicknames) and that it was no big deal. As Mikado leaves school, he is shocked to see that ganguro girl and her new boyfriend Takeshi. Takeshi exacts verbal harassment on him but Celty kicks him to the ground and Izaya stomps on him repetitively! Celty and Izaya follow Mikado and realizing he can’t go back home directly or else risk revealing scar girl’s location, under a bridge as Izaya answers a call, Celty tells Mikado she’s looking for a relative but obviously Mikado knows it’s a lie. After telling what he knows about her being headless, he requests to see it himself but upon 1 condition he doesn’t freak out. She does so and though surprised, managed to keep his cool. Celty pleads Mikado to take her see scar girl. Not wanting her to go into further shock, Mikado tells the duo to wait outside while he goes to see her. However she is gone and suddenly a couple of guys pin him down. They want him to tell them where scar girl is. Luckily Izaya barges in and the perpetrators flee. He recognizes them from Yagiri Pharmacy. Mikado connects all the recent events and gets excited. He hooks up his PC and says how all the cards are in his hands.

Namie gets a surprise call from Mikado to meet up and make a deal in episode 11. In the crowded streets, Mikado tells her he has what she’s looking for. He doesn’t want money in exchange but the truth. In short, he has an idea what she and Seiji did to Mika and wants them to turn themselves in. Obviously Namie isn’t going with that and thinks Mikado is an obstacle in Seiji’s life. Mikado goes on ranting about his beliefs and principals on harmony and peace. Namie then summons her bodyguards. Mikado knows he can’t win so he’s going to rely on numbers. He sends an SMS message. Suddenly everyone’s handphone starts ringing! This startles Namie. It’s an indication that everyone is from Dollars! From Izaya to Shimon to Shizuo to Celty to Kadota and co. Except for Namie and her bodyguards of course. Kadota has scar girl with him as he confronts Celty on the rooftop. Flashback of Mikado’s boring uneventful life in the countryside. He got a PC and hooked it up to the internet and kept in touch with Kida. Seemed Mikado started Dollars and purposely leaked rumours and even fabricated ‘members’ on the forums. As time passed, though it grew and some even defended the group, there were people starting to call themselves Dollars in the real world and doing bad things and their numbers rapidly increased. Even so, there were some doing good in its name. A montage of people’s view on Dollars, nothing of which are bad and some even admitting they’re part of it. Another flashback whereby Togusa was furiously chasing a van who accidentally scratched his van paint with a pebble, nearly collided into scar girl running away. They talk to her and got a message on Dollars forum board admin, who is Mikado, right after the intruders at his place. He agreed to let Celty see her but in return wants her help. At present, Celty asks scar girl her name and her reply is well, Celty. Celty has come to terms with her existence in the city and goes off. We see the message on everyone’s handphone telling them those who aren’t looking at their handphones are their enemies and that they’re not to be attacked by stared at. Namie loses Mikado in the sea of crowd and orders her bodyguards to search. That’s when Celty rides down from a building and fights them. One of them hit her helmet off and everyone saw her headless. Some got scared and some took pics with their handphones. Mikado at the back of the crowd, comes face to face with Seiji who wants him to give back his lover and charges at him with a knife.

Celty takes the stab in Mikado’s place in episode 12. She’s going to slice him with her scythe when scar girl suddenly rushes to cover him. Celty realizes that isn’t her head and Mikado concluding scar girl is Mika. Flashback when stalker Mika picker her way into his room (man, she’s desperate!), she saw the head and right at that time Seiji walked in. Though she promised not to tell, Seiji slams her head against the wall! Mika didn’t die and woke up in Namie’s lab. With Shinra by her side, they did plastic surgery and make-up so she could look like the head Seiji loves. They tell her name will be Celty since that’s the head’s name and Namie even used drugs and surgery to erase her memories. Mika continued pretending to be Celty as she was in love with Seiji for his sake. Seiji goes into shock so Izaya mocks him he can’t tell the fake from the real. Celty goes back to confront Shinra. She’s upset he had a hand in Mika’s surgery. His reason for not telling was because he loved her (he’s a weird guy to begin with). He’s afraid she’d leave him once she found out. They talk about fairies hypothesis, fear, existence and confirm each other’s love by hitting each other and then hug. He says she’s the prettiest when she’s not hiding her face (are you kidding me?!). Izaya praises Mikado’s plan and says if he wants to escape the everyday life, he has to constantly evolve and enjoy it. But he has to flee since Shizuo is starting to throw things. Then it hit Mikado that Izaya may be 1 of the frequent members on the forums. Life returns to normal. Seiji and Mika come to school and as an inseparable pair. Seiji doesn’t love Mika but every time he looks at her, she reminds him of Celty and will accept it and vows to get her back some day. Mikado tries to confess to Anri but joker Kida was there first so Mikado kicks him. Namie visits Izaya’s office and reveals she was using Mika to keep tabs on Seiji. Also Izaya was the one who contacted Mika to flee Mikado’s apartment when his informant called him about the intruders. Seems Izaya has Celty’s head with him. Izaya and Namie talk about myths, Valhalla and heaven. He plans to keep the head since he’s part of Dollars and that Celty won’t expect it to be in the hands of the organization she belongs to. He was also the one who partially started gathering people.

It’s been 6 months since that incident but the Slasher has become that latest hot topic because of the numerous slashing incidents lately in episode 13. Celty is being chased and cornered by a tough traffic cop, Kinnosuke Kuzuhara and his colleagues. He intimidates her not to underestimate her. A supernatural fearing humans? Ironic. Celty is scared and seeks Shinra’s comfort but he has her go pick up returning Shingen (wearing a face mask? Ikebukuro’s air is toxic?). That guy is in the midst of getting bullied by Yellow Scarves led by Horada. Even when Celty shows up, they remain arrogant till she did some shadow trick and scares them off. While Seiji and Mika continue to be lovey-dovey (he says he’s in love with her scar?!), it’s obvious that Mikado and Kida like Anri. Hanging around her and even talking about her attractiveness. Kida is straightforward but Mikado is shy. Anri also knows both guys like her but notes she couldn’t give an answer if they both confess and indicates she still likes Mika. A bunch of Yellow Scarves members come up to Kida, wanting him to return but he refuses, not wanting to go back to that side again. There are talks and rumours on the forums that Yellow Scarves are reviving and Slasher may be part of Dollars and is the headless rider. Anri on her way home gets bullied by the ganguro girls (don’t they every give up?). They mock her for being a slut and parasite living off people. Anri stays silent and does nothing. Suddenly Slasher appears behind them a slashes the ganguro girls right before Anri’s eyes.

In episode 14, Anri gives her statement at the police station as a witness so Kida and Mikado go pick her up later. Shinra comes home and thinks he could take a peek at Celty’s body while she’s bathing but to his horror it’s Shingen (still wearing that mask?!). Shingen is surprised that Celty admits she likes Shinra. During the family ‘quarrel’, Shingen accidental slip of his tongue causes him to reveal he was the one who stole her head. Already childish, he acts even more so and reveals he gave it to that pharmaceutical. He escapes so Celty goes after him but it was just a bluff. Celty sees Mikado depressed at the park and talks to him. He tells her about the rumours of the Slasher and tension between the Dollars and Yellow Scarves. She will help do research on Slasher. Celty sees Shizuo and the latter thinks of killing Slasher for hurting her when he learns she has fought it once. But she tells him to wait as she needs more info to track it down. She goes to see Izaya and he says it has something to do with a demon sword called Saika which has a soul that can take over humans. Coincidentally, Saika is usually seen on the forms, spamming mainly words “Cut” and “Mother” before leaving abruptly. Shingen threatens Namie (now working as Izaya’s secretary) with a toy gun to enter Izaya’s office. They talk about Izaya’s unique theory on Valhalla and Dullahan, and his higher-ups are interested in Celty after seeing her on TV. He says they want to study the body first before the head. Shingen also knows Izaya’s plan to start a false strife in Tokyo to spur Celty’s head or soul. Nasujima once again seems to ‘harass’ Anri so smooth Kida takes her away after mentioning the name Haruna Niekawa, which leaves him paralyzed and sweating. Kida knows Mikado’s in love with Anri and would stay by the sideline to watch their development. Kida visits Saki in hospital. Shinra says that Saika is a sword that can slice through the soul and Shingen used to it to sever Celty’s soul connected to her head and body to steal it. He didn’t want to bring this up since he felt she had begun to forget looking for it. Celty has mixed feelings and decides to be alone as she rides her bike out. Slasher appears before Anri and prepares to slash her.

Shuji Niekawa, a 3rd rate magazine writer is seeking to write an article on Ikebukuro’s strongest in episode 15. He was that guy who got beaten up by Shizuo when he asked about Kasuka. His interview leads him to Simon, Shiki (Awakusu Group executive), Izaya, Yellow Scarves and even Celty, each mentioning Shizuo as the strongest. Niekawa narrates he lives alone with his estranged daughter when his wife ran away. He returns home but Slasher stabs him. He wakes up in hospital but has no memory of the incident and something took control over him as he makes his way out. On the forums, Saika appears but this time in addition to her usual spam, she spams “Shizuo” and “I love him”. Anri wakes up from a dream about her parents who died 5 years ago and she herself was the lone survivor. That was when Slasher first appeared in the city. Shizuo and Celty are on a stakeout and to let off some steam, Shizuo beats up Horada and co nearby. Anri is having lots on her mind so she wanders in the city late at night. Niekawa is seen stalking her. He corners her at an alley and is ready to slash (that scene in the previous episode). Luckily Kadota and co was passing by and rams into him with their van. But Niekawa stands up like nothing happened. He starts swinging his knife violently and attempts another attack on Anri. Now it’s Celty’s turn to land her bike on him. He gets up again and sees Shizuo. The possessing force spouts out his love for Shizuo so Shizuo rips Kadota’s van’s door and slams it into him.

While Niekawa is knocked out and left there in episode 16, Kadota takes Anri back. Celty brings back the knife and shows it to Shinra and tells him what happened. He concludes Saika wanted to love humanity so much and probably tried to show its affections. Saika is a cursed blade with no body that’s why it uses its owner’s body and keep slashing people again and again to realize her love. But the knife can’t be Saika as there is a label “Made in Japan 2009”. As they check the forums, they realize Saika is trying to give birth by putting her ‘children’ into those people she slashed. But Saika vanished 5 years ago and surfaced only recently. Shinra thinks someone strong held it back. Insane-looking Haruna appears at Anri’s doorstep. She tells of her infinite love for Nasujima but got rejected. She blames Anri stole him from her. Haruna can’t forgive her for liking him and was the one who slashed her dad and is here to finish the job. Anri is shivering in fear. Before she could strike, Nasujima rings the doorbell. Haruna is surprised to see him. Nasujima isn’t and flees. She goes after him and sends her Saika-possessed people to kill Anri. Shizuo goes to Izaya’s office to beat him up but Celty comes between them and shows Shizuo the forums and takes him with her. At the park, they’re surrounded by Saika-possessed people, all wanting to love him. Their reason is because they love his super strength and want to spread their love for humanity. Shizuo laughs it off that he never thought anyone would accept him. The power he hated so much and wanted to rid off, he can use it all now. He says he hates them all and not his type and starts attacking. Haruna corners Nasujima and is going to spread her love when Anri somehow escaped and tells her to stop hurting people with her blade. Haruna mocks her for being a parasite and lectures about using Saika’s power to spread her love. She strikes but Anri uses her hand to block. Anri admits being a parasite and says Haruna’s Saika is a child. She unsheathes the original Saika from her sleeves. Anri (her eyes now red) says she cannot love that’s why she depended on Saika who can love others in her place and that she’s her parasite.

Shizuo continues to beat everyone singlehandedly with his monstrous strength in episode 17. Though he got slashed, he didn’t fall under their control. Celty senses something and before going off, she gives him a pair of shadow gloves. Anri disarms Haruna and then slightly pierces her arm. Peeking into Anri’s past, seemed her dad abused his family over his failed antique business. One day when daddy was strangling Anri, mommy (the Slasher) slashed him dead and then killed herself. Anri took the sword. Anri was able to endure it all because she lack lots of things and lived as a parasite. Without a capacity to love, she could listen to Saika endlessly without being swayed. Anri lets Haruna slash her several times to allow Saika take over her mind and protect her own peace. Saying that Saika is a lonely being that loved humanity, Haruna collapses. This frees all the possessed people. Celty arrives at Anri. Nasujima tries to persuade Anri to come with him but she says she’s just merely repaying him. She thought Slasher was Celty so she attacked her when Celty confronted Nasujima then (that time when Celty got her head slashed off) to save him. Nasujima gets defensive, thinking she’s one of them and flees in fear when Anri says she hates him. Celty takes Haruna back to Shinra. Mikado visits Anri in hospital as she tells him what happened but stops short of admitting them as true. With all the Saika-possessed people under her control, her boring everyday life is back unless that person destroys it. Izaya tells Namie how he setup Nasujima to go to Anri’s place. Further explanation reveals he was in debt and was blackmailing him. He went to see Izaya for help from loan sharks but stole a bag of money Izaya set as bait to threaten and use Haruna to blackmail him. But that’s when he encountered Celty and the real Slasher in the alley. Where’s he now? He’s trying to rob someone. But that someone is Shizuo as he got punched to the sky. While Kadota and co’s van’s door is replaced by an otaku deco, they receive an SMS from Dollars leader (Mikado) seeking info on Slasher. Izaya notes Ikebukuro has 3 factions: The cursed blade, Dollars and Yellow Scarves. The former has infiltrated the latter 2. He thinks the general of Yellow Scarves is still a threat though he’s a kid because he was able to gather a large number of members. He knows who he is. Seems Kida is being persuaded to rejoin Yellow Scarves. Initially he refused but since Anri was injured, he got dragged back into it and will make them pay.

Kida visits Saki in hospital in episode 18. He leaves when he she says no matter how many girls he loves, he’ll love her the most because Izaya said so. Flashback a year ago when Saki was in coma, Kida was mad and Izaya very provoking. He talked about guilt, the past, God, life and that Kida loved her. Further flashback on how Kida and his Yellow Scarves were just a bunch spending their days fighting. Kida met Saki on the streets and also Izaya, supposedly her guardian and she even said Izaya’s some sort of esper because he knows everything and is always right. During conflicts when Kida’s at a loss, she always told him to consult Izaya. He stepped in and settled things but Kida still didn’t trust him and kept his distance. Kida pitied Saki and wanted to free her from him. They started dating as Yellow Scarves frequently battle Blue Squares but the latter always used dirty tricks causing many Yellow Scarves to suffer injuries. Saki told Kida to seek Izaya’s advice and with his info, they turned the tables as Kida began to rely and fear him less while basking in glory. One night he got a call from Blue Squares leader, Izumii. He kidnapped Saki and even broke her leg over the phone! Desperate Kida calls Izaya but the latter ignored and never picked up. Kida rushed out to find her but froze in fear midway. A Blue Squares member was trying to persuade Kadota and co (they were part of that gang then) to take part in the kidnapping. He wasn’t happy and betrayed his gang by doing an ambush to rescue Saki. On his escape, Kadota spotted Kida paralyzed in the streets. Soon Saki woke up in hospital and her testimony has Izumii arrested and weakened Blue Squares disbanded. Kadota met Kida outside the hospital and told him he told Saki he was held by Blue Squares, thus the reason he came late. Kida isn’t happy he lied but Kadota tells him off he’s got 2 choices. Lie and life the rest of his painful life lying to her as a way to make up or say the truth to her face. He adds he can run away from his past but not the present and future. Eventually Kida couldn’t tell her or even break up and soon left Yellow Scarves. Thinking how lonely he was, chatting with Mikado online calmed him down and he invited him to join him at Raira. In present time, Kida is at Yellow Scarves’ HQ when a member spots a girl. He orders them to catch her unharmed. Seems that girl is Anri and she is shocked to learn about Kida.

Anri hides to evade capture in episode 19. Flashback how she was released from hospital early. Kida and Mikado came to pick her up but Anri noticed Kida acting strange ever since he visited her. On the forums, Saika appears but is more polite and apologetic. They talked about Yellow Scarves being more violent these days and a possibility of a gang war at Ikebukuro if nothing is done. Anri decided to investigate and was made known by her ‘children’ (several possessed Yellow Scarves members) that Kida is the head. Not believing it, Anri requested to be taken there and was shocked to discover the truth. As Anri hides, Celty appears. Anri texts her to rescue. Celty swiftly does so and puts a shadow helmet over Anri. Celty’s bike transforms into a headless horse, shocking everyone. Kida and Celty come face to face. When they flee, Anri’s instinct has her use her sword to deflect a pipe aimed at her. Kida came to a conclusion: Slasher is part of Dollars. Mikado unknowingly learns from Izaya via forums about the Yellow Scarves-Blue Squares war. Izaya says in the aftermath Yellow Scarves’ leader got sick of fighting and left. Blue Squares members got absorbed into them. Nobody bothered to check who was from where. He warns him to be careful since there are some people in both Dollars and Yellow Scarves and that Dollars have no rules too. Kida goes to see Kadota and co to talk and indicates he is back.

At the sushi bar in episode 20, Kida wants to know the name of Dollars’ leader but Kadota says he doesn’t know. They talk about Dollars picking a fight not with Yellow Scarves but Blue Squares. Kadota and co remain calm and rational though Kida was a little desperate. They think of forgetting the incident as though Blue Squares was a group that never existed. Kadota would help him if Kida had a firm grip on his gang but he doesn’t since Yellow Scarves changed when he left. When Kida tells about Slasher and headless rider incident, they feel it doesn’t add up since there are events when Dollars beat up Slasher. When they part, Kadota gives him the number of a guy who supposedly knows Dollars’ leader. To Kida’s horror, he is Izaya. No choice, Kida reluctantly goes to see him. Izaya’s usual analytical ranting about love and probably Kida was trying to make up to Anri for what he couldn’t for Saki. Kida is willing to take the plunge so Izaya tells him straight Mikado is Dollars’ head. In the forums, Izaya pokes fire by saying the head of Yellow Scarves and Dollars are going to have a showdown. Kida tells his members not to fight back when provoked but to find proof first. Some of the elder members like Horada aren’t pleased. Next day, word has it that Takiguchi got beaten up by Yellow Scarves and is hospitalized.

Mikado visits badly beaten Takiguchi in episode 21. Takiguchi thinks of quitting Dollars because they aren’t invisible anymore. Mikado reflects on Izaya’s advice to evolve and somehow regrets it. Kida beats up those members who went against his orders. But they still don’t listen as they continue beating up those they suspect as part of Dollars. Gloomy Mikado meets Kadota and they talk. Mikado is unhappy Yellow Scarves are targeting Dollars. Kadota says Dollars haven’t retaliated because their leader hasn’t given them orders. Mikado wonders if Dollars is necessary. There’re board postings that Dollars members are quitting or fed up with their leader’s inaction. Celty discusses with Shinra the conflict (including love triangle) and that Anri doesn’t know Mikado as Dollars’ head. After school, Anri orders her children to take out Yellow Scarves members beating up people. Kida interrogates those Slasher-possessed members about their betrayal but they don’t remember anything. A member says that he noticed the possessed ones started acting weird after meeting a girl that fits Anri’s description. Kida fears the worse. Mikado wanders onto the streets and bumps into Mika and Seiji (that guy is like an expressionless robot?). Mika wonders if anything is wrong with Anri but Mikado is surprised he doesn’t even notice anything strange. Before they part, Seiji knows Mikado likes Anri and tells him not to look away no matter what happens. Never let go because when you love someone, it becomes your responsibility. Disgruntled Yellow Scarves members led by Horada spot Anri in the streets. Mikado logs onto Dollars site after several days of staying away. Though there are many discouraging comments, there are a few encouraging ones to protect Dollars. Mikado is surprised to see a sudden post that a girl befitting Anri’s description has been picked up by Yellow Scarves.

Mikado orders all Dollars members to help Anri in episode 22 as he rushes out to look for her. They (including Simon, Kaztano, lost-and-found foreigner girl and Takiguchi) cooperate and exchange info of Anri’s whereabouts to give those clowns the run around. Horada not to be outwitted, calls his Yellow Scarves for backup. Surprisingly Kida saves Anri from a pair of them. Alone at the alley, Kida hints he know she spied on him. When he raises his voice and gets pushy, she slaps him and runs away. Horada and co finally corner Anri at the playground and suspect her of being part of Dollars. She’s going to unsheathe her sword but Shizuo happened to be there and is not in a good mood. He beats all the goons up and soon after Celty takes Anri home with her. Mikado thanks everyone who helped in the forums. Anri wakes up at Shinra’s place and they allow her to stay here for the time being. Horada acts in ‘missing’ Kida’s place and orders the Yellow Scarves to take out Dollars as they continue their beating spree. Kida ignores it all. On the forums, suddenly Mikado announces that Dollars is going to disappear. Many are upset but the website soon becomes inaccessible. Anri talks to Celty but the latter says Mikado is just like her and has something to hide because they consider each other important. Horada shoots and leaves Shizuo to die and says to blame Kida for all this. Mikado ignores calls from Kida.

Celty goes to see Mikado in episode 23 as he tells her he did the unplugging for everyone’s sake in hopes the war will stop. Kida gets a call from Horada telling him he’s fired as the general. He also says they know Mikado as Dollars’ head. Yellow Scarves are eager to see some action so they plan to get Mikado’s head and Kida’s as well. Bloodied Shizuo sees Shinra (he feels no pain?). While Shinra treats his wounds, Shizuo plans to kill Kida. Celty tells Mikado the truth about Kida and Anri and he is shocked. She tells him to solve his problems as his own and not for the gangs. She receives a call from Shinra saying that Anri has rushed out of their place and Shizuo hunting for Kida. Kida meets Simon in the streets. He advises him to stay away but Kida is apologizes and rushes off. Horada is assuming the role as Yellow Scarves’ leader and tells his grand plans of ruling Tokyo since the big guns like Shizuo are taken out. Then Kida steps in. He is shocked to learn Horada and everyone else here are ex-Blue Squares members. But Kida isn’t afraid even if Horada continues mocking him because he’s no longer part of the gang and just a normal high school kid. Kida isn’t just ready to die but to kill as well. Some of the thugs beat him up till he is bloodied and weak. Before coward Horada could shoot him, a member hits his gun away. Seems he is Slasher-possessed and soon Anri slashes her way in. This is soon followed by Celty and Mikado. The trio are stunned to see each other.

The Yellow Scarves surround them in episode 24. Before they could attack, a voice shouts “Now, betray him!” and suddenly some Yellow Scarves turn on each other. Seems Kadota and Togusa gathered around 30 Dollars members to infiltrate and pretend to be part of Yellow Scarves. Karisawa and Yumasaki had to ‘sit out’ because they ‘stood out’. Otaku power, eh? Kida punches Horada when he learns he was the one responsible for breaking Saki’s leg and 1 of Izumii’s men that escaped arrest. The 3 friends reconcile and made up but Horada escapes. Celty tells Mikado and Anri to take Kida to hospital while she goes after him. Horada is driving down the highway but sees Shizuo before him. He wrecks the car with the lamp post! Though Horada escapes, he is soon arrested by Kuzuhara and his men for pulling up next to him. One of Horada’s men meets Izaya as the latter talks of his plot to kill Shizuo. That guy turns out to be Anri’s child and she has heard the truth. She is going to slice Izaya for all of this. However Izaya is calm and smooth, able to play psychological mind games with her. He says he loves humanity? Except Shizuo of course. I don’t know how true or twisted he meant by that. He soon leaves. When he returns to office, Namie is shock to see a big bruise over his eye. Seems on his way home, he got punched by Simon as he lectures him and converse in Russian. Kida wakes up from a dream whereby Saki told him she knew why he was delayed because Izaya showed and mocked the missed calls from him. Kida and Saki talk. She reveals she let Blue Squares capture her because Izaya said it would end it all. Kida also knows she faked her broken leg so that it would keep him distant. They reconcile and confess their love for each other. Few days later, Kida and Saki vanished together (doing a Seiji-Mika?). Life returns to normal at Ikebukuro and for the characters. Mikado narrates Dollars is the town itself because of the various people and ever changing ways. Thus it’ll continue to exist. On the forums, a new member appears and is hinted to be Kida. Mikado and Anri hang out together (though they aren’t dating) as he believes Kida will return some day.

Erm… It’s over? Just like that? I can’t say that I’m totally satisfied but I’m not disappointed either. What is important that the great gang war has been averted and though it is sad that the trio can’t be together but at least they’ll still be friends. At least over the internet. Such a wonderful invention, don’t you think? Why I’m not satisfied was because I was expecting lots of the characters to make their appearance in the last episode for 1 big chaotic mess. I was hoping to see guys like Simon and even Shinra to play some sort of role but it didn’t turn out anything big. Shizuo was relegated to just stopping Horada and there wasn’t any of his usual big brawl in the end. Same for Celty. I thought she’d take out her shadow scythe and start slashing. Even I thought minor characters like Shingen, Kuzuhara or Tom would have a role. Why did I think so? Well, their names just like all the other main characters appear in the opening credits so I thought they would have some sort of impact. Just for show to throw you off guard?

To sum it up, this series is intriguing the way the build-up to the climax by introducing several characters and their stories in the initial episodes and then slowly how the main characters and most of the rest come together. There were several plots and revelations to keep viewers on their toes and wanting to know more. Probably with the large amount of characters, that’s the reason why many of them didn’t play a part in the end as I expected them to. Mika and Seiji were just good for the first half of the series and didn’t do much after they officially become a couple. Namie was relegated to more than just a secretary after that too. What happened to Rio? Probably she was just a one-off character just to catch viewers off guard. And Shingen? Must have gone back, eh? But the most interesting character of all has got to be Izaya. He’s some sort of an instigator and troublemaker. One with brains and schemes. He’s a character you love to hate because of his smooth talk and his mysterious ability just to know about anything. Is he really human? Does he really like the idea of using people as his pawns? You can tell he is so weird whenever he plays his own version of chess-shogi-othello and at one point burns the whole board and pieces! Though Simon didn’t make much impact, I felt that his happy and peace philosophies are something that everyone should heed. He can become a motivational speaker if he ever retires from his sushi job. Shizuo’s monstrous strength to unearth anything to throw is just so exaggerated. He must’ve taken lots of calcium. No anger management can cure him unless Izaya is dead.

Because of the way it ended, I had a few questions that still puzzles me. Why does Izaya want to keep Celty’s head? And if it was to spur her soul, what good would it bring? What would he achieve? What was Shingen’s return for anyway? There are hundreds of jokes and comments that I could have think up about Celty being headless and the love chemistry between her and Shinra but it’s probably not a good idea to list them here because I don’t want to be cursed by a Dullahan. But it goes to show that sometimes you don’t need a head when all you need is a heart. Like Celty, she came to accept her existence and love. Unlike lots of people out there with heads without brains and hearts without kindness. The drawing and art of the series somehow resembles closely to Yozakura Quartet, especially the characters’ features. Though they are produced by different companies, I’m not sure if the artists who work on them are the same. To forums may not be anything spectacular but it’s different since we get to hear opinions and thoughts of the characters in their online pseudonym. Thanks to the hardcore otaku of Karisawa and Yumasaki, viewers can spot several anime trivia from them whether they are life size posters, manga, trademark anime lines or figurines. But as I noticed most of them are from the series Baccano.

The first opening theme is heavy rock, Uragiri No Yuuyake by Theatre Brook while the second rock theme is Complication by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D. Both songs are suitable for this anime genre. One of the unique things about the opening credits is that approximately 3/4 of it when the music takes a solo turn, there will be montages and clips of previous episodes and you can probably guess what is going to be the main focus of this episode whether it will be the characters or the plot. Trust Me by Yuuya Matsushita has R&B flavour for the first ending theme but I find the rock piece of the second ending theme, Butterfly by ON/OFF to be somewhat strange. I’d prefer if they just stick to the first one. Some of the background music are plain weird. Well, there’s one that sound like a cherubic tune, another like a circus carnival and one a cacophony like as though you’re tuning a guitar string but unsuccessful. For the mid-intermission, they are katakana words of “Durararararararararararara!!” in different arrangements across the screen. What the heck does that word mean anyway?

You know the saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies close” and “It’s just right under your nose”? I’m sure Mikado, Anri and Kida found that out the hard way till the inevitable came. Who would figure out that 3 close high school kids are the leaders behind the few powerful gangs in town. I’m not part of any gangs (heck, not even any clubs or societies – but if there was one for otakus anonymous or 2D harem maybe I’d consider) so if there is going to be a big gang war coming to my town, my first reaction would be to run away as far as possible. And if I see a bike-riding Dullahan? Run away faster!

Durarara!!

Bamboo Blade VS Saki

October 22, 2010

Oh yeah, it’s that time again after another long hiatus (just a few months probably). Before I really forget that such a category in my blog exist (yeah, right. Like that will ever happen), I guess it’s timely for another versus blog. This time pitting 2 animes of the sports genre. They are Bamboo Blade and Saki. Both sports in the form of team format during competitions and is mainly focused on a group of girls.

Type of sport
Bamboo Blade: Kendo.
Saki: Mahjong.

The school
Bamboo Blade: Muroe Private High School.
Saki: Kiyosumi High School.

The girls that are part of the club
Bamboo Blade: Kirino Chiba, Sayako Kuwahara, Tamaki Kawazoe, Miyako Miyazaki AKA Miya Miya, Satori Azuma.
Saki: Hisa Takei, Mako Someya, Nodoka Haramura, Saki Miyanaga, Yuuki Kataoka.

The captain
Of the club of course.
Bamboo Blade: Kirino.
Saki: Hisa.

The new prodigy
Behold! The arrival of the genius that will turn their dark horse status into a formidable contender.
Bamboo Blade: Tamaki.
Saki: Saki.

Her initial reluctance to join
The reason why the new prodigy didn’t want to join their respective club in the first place. But it never hurts to give it a try, right?
Bamboo Blade: Tamaki is a pro at kendo at such a young age that she thinks of it not as a hobby and thus unnecessary to join one. She decides to join in to save the club from bullies as a form of hero of justice.
Saki: Always playing with her family members, Saki always bear the brunt of her family members whenever she wins or loses, thus her special ability to keep her score at plus minus zero. Because of that she hates mahjong too. She tries out the mahjong club because of Kyoutarou’s advice to try out and to borrow books to read. Then it is her will to see her professional top-ranked sister that propels her to join and reach the Nationals.

The loser
Not to be misinterpreted as idiots but rather because this is a team based tournament, it’s like you have to win some and lose some in order to show the potential of the other members and for a possible comeback. Just that these characters in our heroine group seem to lose more often than win.
Bamboo Blade: Miya Miya.
Saki: Yuuki (unless it’s during east hands rounds).

The bespectacled one
Who ever says you need good eyesight to play the game?
Bamboo Blade: Satori.
Saki: Mako.

The guys of the club
Feels kind of redundant, eh? But in order to stop the entire series from being dominated by females and to prove useful as comic relief or mule…
Bamboo Blade: Yuuji Nakata and Danjurou Eiga AKA Dan.
Saki: Kyoutarou Suga.

Club advisor
The teacher heading the club.
Bamboo Blade: Toraji “Kojirou” Ishida.
Saki: Not known. Probably nil.

Mascot
Erm… Little cute animal that although don’t make a starring role, if you open your eyes, you may catch them.
Bamboo Blade: A little gray cat.
Saki: Nodoka’s stuffed penguin named Etopen.

Opponents
Some of the selected and other schools faced.
Bamboo Blade: Machido High School, Seimei High School and Tozyo High School.
Saki: Ryuumonbuchi High School, Kazekoshi Girls School and Tsuruga High School.

Dangerous girls
Not to be messed with.
Bamboo Blade: Reimi Odajima because of her infatuation for Miya Miya and thus her stalker behaviour. Also Miya Miya and her dual personality and Yuuri Andou of her sadistic behaviour.
Saki: Hajime Kunihiro. Why? She’s got her hands chained so she must be dangerous, right? Even if it’s to prevent her from cheating in mahjong due to her influence from dad as a failed magician, that is still dangerous, right?

Proud girls
Ego…
Bamboo Blade: Half-American half-Japanese Carrie Nishikawa who is a love rival for Miya Miya.
Saki: Touka Ryuumonbuchi the rich granddaughter of the founder of her school who loves people paying attention to her.

Tomboyish girls
Girls who seem to display more of their masculine side.
Bamboo Blade: Maya Yokoo of Machido.
Saki: Jun Inoue of Ryuumonbuchi.

Battle duration
The length of the shown matches
Bamboo Blade: Individual and overall team matches are fast and last several minutes the most.
Saki: Individual and overall team matches are long and can last up to several episodes.

Battle techniques
If they can do it, can a pro in the real world do it too?
Bamboo Blade: More realistic and such moves are possible in the real world.
Saki: More exaggerated and such moves/styles are not possible to pull off in the real world.

Road to the Nationals
The progress of the club to ultimate glory. At their level.
Bamboo Blade: Unfortunately, the lost in the third round of the prefectural tournament when Tamaki lost the decisive match to Rin and are out.
Saki: Kiyosumi beat all odds and even upset the champions and favourites to qualify for the Nationals.

Training camp and baths
What is a club if you don’t have these kind of activities…
Bamboo Blade: In episode 15, the Muroe kendo girls train with their Machido counterparts by camping at their school.
Saki: In episode 5, Hisa takes her members to a mountain-side inn for training. In episode 25, Kiyosumi invites the other opponent schools in a joint training camp to prepare the former for the Nationals.

Non-tournament episodes
You can’t be always powering up and playing the sport, right?
Bamboo Blade: Episode 8 whereby Tamaki does her first part time job. Episode 20 whereby Yuuji invites Tamaki to a Blade Braver play at an amusement park.
Saki: Episode 20 whereby Kiyosumi as the new prefectural champions head to the water amusement park for fun and relaxation. Episode 24 whereby the gang helps Yuuki study to pass her retake exams and attend the summer festival.

Number of episodes
Bamboo Blade: 26 episodes.
Saki: 25 episodes.

Opening and ending themes
Bamboo Blade: 1 opening theme named Bamboo Beat by Ryou Hirahashi, Megumi Toyoguchi, Sachiko Kojima, Houko Kuwashima and Rina Satou. 1 ending theme entitled Star Rise sung by the same quintet.
Saki: 2 opening themes. The first one Glossy:MMM by Miyuki Hashimoto and the second one Bloooomin by Little Non. There are 3 ending themes all sung by Kana Ueda, Ami Koshimizu, Rie Kugimiya, Ryoko Shiraishi and Shizuka Itou. Netsuretsu Kangei Wonderland (ending 1), Zankoku Na Negai No Naka De (ending 2) and Shikakui Uchuu De Matteru Yo (ending 3).

Conclusion
If I look overall in terms of the sporting aspects, even though I know nothing about both kendo and mahjong, I would say I would prefer Bamboo Blade over Saki because the former’s terms and jargons aren’t heavy as compared to the latter’s which causes me to be in a total loss. Furthermore, Bamboo Blade focuses more on the interaction between the main characters and their relationship instead of focusing on match battles as compared to Saki. No doubt the latter too has its share of character interactions and bonding but the mahjong factor seems to overwhelm it. But in terms of character quirkiness and personality, I would say that both shows have their own unique, peculiar and odd characters. A girl who cares less about her club’s dedication and is more infatuated with her boyfriend or a girl who possesses the mind boggling anti-existence? You just got to love them. Anyhow, I didn’t turn into fans of either sport. But I may just run around like crazy with a stick in hand or flip/throw small tiles in style.

Bamboo Blade
Saki

Seiken No Blacksmith

October 20, 2010

Well, armours are supposed to protect one’s body from most impending harm, right? How about a ‘revealing’ armour then? That would be quite the irony, wouldn’t it? I’m not saying that Seiken No Blacksmith is an ecchi anime but rather when I first saw the kind of armour plate that the lead lady wears, I was like going “Urm… Is that meant to be protective or just fashion?”. You know what I’m saying? I know you can’t protect every part of your body with armour as it stiff your movements but having some armour is better than none. But the way the armour design here, I thought they look more like cosplay than anything… Also known as The Sacred Blacksmith in English, this series leans more towards fantasy adventure and if you like your animes with a little hint of medieval-like fantasy and setting, then you may want to check this out.

As seen in episode 1, Luke Ainsworth saves the head of the prestigious Cambell house and Knight Guard of the 3rd Independent Trade City, Cecily Cambell, from a monster. The third time. The main heroine getting her ass saved thrice? But don’t put her down yet as a damsel in distress because she can hold her ground too. Unfortunately this isn’t one of those times. How did this happen? Earlier at the Independent Trade City of Housman, Cecily tries to quell a ragged knight (with battle scars from the last war) misusing his sword to slash property. He is wondering where his salvation is as Cecily takes him on but is overwhelmed by his strength. Not only that, her sword broke. Bummer. Before he could finish her, Luke steps in and slices to break his blade! Wow. Rescue number one. The knight is arrested. Luke isn’t happy with Cecily’s incompetence and leaves with his assistant Lisa. Cecily tries to have her precious family sword reforged but the blacksmiths in town say it’s impossible. How about other swords then? Of course that won’t do. She decides to find Luke and with the address given, she finds him and Lisa at the outskirts of the 7th city near the river and forest of ash. Cecily introduces herself, give thanks and gets friendly with him though he doesn’t seem interested. She requests her sword to be reforged into a sharp one like his that can cut other swords but he says he doesn’t do that anymore since his dad died and even so he only forge swords for himself. Cecily tells her story how her family head has always fought and protected as knights. Her dad died a month ago and she decided to succeed him. Then she says “I want you to look at me!” and has everyone mistaking she’s quite bold and trying to confess. Words can sometimes be as sharp as swords too.

Then the bell ring and that usually means trouble. Seems the Knight Guards’ cargo is being ambushed by a hooded man in black (I’ll refer to him as MIB because it’s easier) and a group of bandits using magic to manipulate monsters. Cecily rushes into battle to prove herself but could’ve died if Luke didn’t quickly cut the beast and swiftly slay the rest. Rescue number two. Number three soon to follow as we have seen earlier on. MIB unleashes a more powerful ice monster so Luke thinks the culprit has made a contract with the devil. He battles the monster but this time his sword broke. Cecily steps in to shield him (with her armour boobs? Is she serious?) and asserts her vow to protect him and the town. With that, Luke and Lisa use a hilt and tamahagane (a special kind of metal/rock) to reforge his katana using magic and chanting spells. I can’t believe Cecily was watching him cast his spell instead of keeping her eyes on the monster and fighting it. But was the monster watching too? I mean it didn’t attack during the process. Unless the process happened in a split second.

In episode 2, Luke takes his perfectly forged katana as Lisa explains why it is different than other swords. What’s left of Cecily’s broken sword completely shatters as she thanks her late dad. Luke is careful while facing the evolved ice monster and not rushing to use his katana so as not to break it. If he did, it will mean the end of his life. He spots an opening and finally slays the monster like a hot knife through butter. The katana disintegrates and shortly Cecily’s armour boobs too. Back in Luke’s home, Cecily thanks and apologizes for beating up his face then. It’s bloody swollen! I was thinking her armour cracked because of the magic and intense pressure rather from the ones from within :). Because of his swollen face, Luke decides to skip the Valbanill Meeting. The people at the meeting talk about the cargo ambush, how the war ended 44 years ago and this may be a sign if Valbanill is revived, the world will end. There is a way to stop that and that is to obtain the sacred sword first. The Knight Guards captain, Hannibal Quasar, investigates the site that was ambushed. They learn a bandit survivor as he tells them what he knows about the mysterious MIB who told them to attack the cargo. He also says he saw his boss turned into an ice monster before his eyes. Before he could say more, a monster bug bursts through from his mouth (like in Aliens!) and kills him outright. Hannibal reports to the mayor, Hugo Housman. Seems the cargo, a Demon Sword wasn’t really in there as Hugo had to play safe. He mentions the real one walked inside the city with her own legs. Cecily watches in awe as Luke and Lisa do their smithing. She continues to praise and thank him. But down to business, Luke wants her to repay for all that. Since she doesn’t have money, he doesn’t take instalments or deferred payments, Cecily blows her top calling him a cheapskate. Is this how you repay your saviour? Cecily gets a call from Hannibal for a special mission to protect a featured product that’ll be displayed in the market next week. He chose her because of 1 of her abilities: She’s a female. In the room with Hugo, Cecily is introduced to Aria.

Cecily learns she’s supposed to protect Aria, the Demon Sword taking a human form in episode 3. For some reason, Cecily brings Aria back to Luke’s home. Aria teases them if they’re lovers so Cecily tries to kill him before her reputation gets tarnished! WTF?! Aria demonstrates by turning into a sword and Cecily using her to call forth the wind to cut. The girls go out for a hearty meal in the city (apparently Cecily’s getting reimbursed for everything). Lisa’s slip of her tongue reveals that Luke is searching for a sword that can slay God. Aria tells of her sad bloodied past of how she’s 40-50 years old and came to know her own existence during the war. She was exchanged through many hands as men killed each other to possess her once they get to know she’s a Demon Sword. Cecily goes to pick up her sword from colleague Patty Baldwin. They meet another colleague, Reginald Drummond. He seems like the obnoxious and kind of guy who thinks swords are murder tools meant to cut down enemies. Well, you can’t be using them to fry eggs, right? Then the bell rings again. Someone has released and infected the prisoners by implanting special bugs in them. Bugs sticking out from their mouths look horrible! I thought this isn’t a horror show. Hannibal has his men kill the prisoners since the bugs already ate and controlled them so they’re like living corpses. Cecily isn’t happy with her task to stay and protect Aria but Aria gave her words of encouragement to protect the city so off she goes. In an alley, she spots the ragged knight with MIB but soon has to let them go because she has to take care of a possessed prisoner targeting her. Cecily is paralyzed with fear and cannot kill him because he’s human and the fact she never killed anyone before. Reginald appears to finish the job for her. Well at least she wasn’t saved by Luke. But it’s still that bad, okay. Cecily is still cowering in fear but Aria comforts her that she’s a kind knight. MIB tells ragged knight he signed a contract with the devil and lived through the war by sacrificing himself. He can save him but in exchange for his soul.

Aria sees Cecily practicing her sword swing early in the morning in episode 4. Cecily says this is to hope Luke will forge her a katana but Aria thinks it’s the power of love. Aria proceeds to talk about Cecily’s nice and soft boobs like a pillow and thinks she should use it as a weapon so Luke will forge her a sword. Haha. Jokes aside, they both promise to be friends. Cecily overhears Hugo and Hannibal talking that they’ll use the Demon Sword as bait at tomorrow’s show. Hannibal assigns a special mission to Cecily to do a performance with Aria tomorrow. She is in a dilemma so she goes to ask Luke for advice and then tells Aria about the baiting but she fully believes her. Meanwhile MIB tells ragged knight to obtain the Demon Sword. Next day at the show, Aria does her sword transformation and Cecily a little demo with her. She spots the ragged knight amidst the crowd. He suddenly turns into a rampaging fire humanoid monster as the crowd are being evacuated. Hannibal anticipated this and has his magic Sacred Platoon hold him down but still it was too great as he breaks free. He goes on a rampage causing Cecily to lose possession of Aria to him. Cecily pleads to Luke to save Aria and will even work for him all her life to repay her debts or even let him do whatever she wants with her body! Desperate? I guess Luke only agreed because Lisa pleaded to him. However he has 1 condition. His katana can only strip him off his flames and that she must finish him off with that only chance or else she’ll perish. Luke forges his katana and then successfully slashes the flame beast 3 times before it broke. Cecily with renewed determination manages to pick up burning hot Aria and stabs the monster in his heart, killing him. MIB on the other hand flees. In the aftermath, as Cecily asks for the dead knight’s name, Aria says the wind mention it as Jack Stmder (pronounced as Strader. Don’t ask me why). She introduces herself and hopes he won’t forget her name as she will not his as his flesh disintegrates into the wind. As everyone prays for the fallen, Cecily tells Aria that she isn’t a sword that kills but protects and wants her to be her comrade. Tearful Aria pledges herself to serve her.

Lisa helps the old ladies of the village in episode 5. Her helpfulness proves useful as she is well liked among them. Lisa continues to do the chores back home and helps Luke smithing equipments for some of the villagers’ request. During lunch break, Luke isn’t happy Cecily and Aria came by to join them. Seems it’s her day off. How did she become a regular here anyway? Of course, he shoots down her suggestion to make her a katana. They discuss about the Demon’s Contract and as explained it relies on the human body whereby it’s a phenomenon that turns one into a demon by feeding their body to the spirits. Once the body is offered, there’s no way of getting it back. This was widely used in the war 44 years ago. To fulfil this contract, a death song which is carved in everyone’s heart is needed. There are many ways to do so and some are inhumane that’s why it’s banned. Later Cecily notices Lisa doing her chores to help out Luke so back home she asks her maid Fio Atkins if working here is a pain but she denies and loves the Cambell house. Though Cecily learns Lisa isn’t his relative and was picked up, she chides Luke for not treating her well enough. The girls decide to try on some clothes since Luke mentioned he was paying. But Lisa feels she doesn’t deserve all this and is satisfied working with him. Cecily tells Lisa that Luke wants to do something for her but doesn’t know how. Cecily and Aria left early so that they could follow and spy on them in hopes their relationship will improve. Luke seems cold towards lively Lisa and since Cecily is too pissed, they lost them. On the way home, Luke’s monotonous boring yeah-couldn’t-care-less-like answer to Lisa would earn him a top spot in the hate list for making a blonde loli cry. But he shows he’s not a heartless bastard as he gives her a little hat he bought that matches her newly bought clothes. Lisa is brought to tears and feels grateful and happy.

Cecily is being chased by 3 loyal guards of Princess Charlotte E. Firobisher who are after her Demon Sword. She is reluctant to use Aria in battle but since she wants to fight alongside her, she agrees. But as Cecily faces with Doris 1 on 1, she learns she too has a Demon Sword of Earth called Claymore. Meanwhile Charlotte and her assistant Evadne visit Luke and Lisa. She wants him to follow her back to the Empire but he refuses. Who would listen to a sudden request even if she’s connected to the Empire? When he learns Cecily is in danger, he tries to go save her but Charlotte stops him as she has Evadne turn into a Demon Sword of Flames. Luke easily disarms her probably she has trouble controlling it too. Cecily and Doris continue to unleash their Demon Swords’ powers as she is soon faced with Margot and her Demon Sword of Scarlet Ray, Rhomphair, and Penelope and her ballock knife which is a Demon Sword that slays Demon Swords (nullify powers, that is). Eventually the trio gang up to beat Cecily to a pulp (partly she isn’t adept in controlling Aria’s powers) though Cecily doesn’t give in as Aria falls into their hands. Luckily Luke arrives in time to forge his katana and blow the trio away. Yeah, he saves Cecily again.

Cecily has her wounds healed by Lisa and her Prayer Contract as everyone gathers in Hugo’s office. Charlotte tells of her intention to trade the Demon Sword of Wind and an invitation to the blacksmith, in which Hugo politely refuse both requests. But Cecily is upset because they tried to steal Aria and treated her as an object rather than a human. She continues to chide Charlotte so Hannibal thinks Cecily doesn’t understand the deeper meaning of this and tells her to let this one go. Hugo wants to know if Charlotte will truly inherit the blood of the Empire. As proof, she takes out a dagger and explains how her dad fell in love with her commoner mum and showered her with love including bequeathing that said dagger. But her mom was chased out due to jealousy and believes this dagger is proof of her imperial status that will enable them to be recognized and return to the Empire with her mom. Hugo decides to take the dagger and confirm its authenticity. Her loyal guards aren’t happy but Charlotte is okay with it since her mission is to redeem her mum’s honour. After leaving their Demon Swords behind, Charlotte decides to stay at Cecily’s place, thinking she’s a noble and therefore have luxurious facilities. Cecily is reluctant but Hannibal says all expenses will be covered and Luke gives her that you-deserve-it smirk. Haha. Now how does it feel to have other people coming to your home? As their first order to ‘deepen their friendship’, they head out to the restaurant whereby the newcomers ordered everything on the menu and feast! They didn’t have enough money to pay and even tried to escape by putting it all on Cecily’s tab! Imperial family her foot!

The imperial girls feel disappointed with Cecily’s home not up to their expectations in episode 7. But Fio doesn’t care about them and shows them who’s boss and says if those who don’t work will die! Fio makes them wear maid clothes and has them do labour! Though Charlotte is willing to take up the challenge to pay for her lodging, she also wants Cecily to work as she can’t stand her bossing around. Fio finds it interesting and also forces maid clothes on her master! Too bad Cecily had to bump into Luke in the city while doing errands. She got so embarrassed that she punched his face (again). Unlike clumsy useless Cecily, Charlotte is able to do basic tasks. In the bath, Cecily learns Charlotte’s mom passed away a year ago and her wish is to be accepted back into the imperial family. She never spoke ill of the Emperor till her death and with Charlotte being recognized, she is sure her mum will be remembered. That night Charlotte can’t sleep so she makes acquaintance with the madam of the house, Lucy (also Cecily’s mother). Next day, Aria goes to see Evadne in prison. She wants to know why they both can take human forms unlike the other 3 Demon Swords and what Demon Swords actually are. Evadne’s reply is that she’ll know when the time comes. Back home, Charlotte is torn between fulfilling her mom’s wish and to stay here with all the nice people and not return to the Empire. Lucy comforts her and says that her mom’s wish is also for Charlotte to find her own happiness. Next day as they gather in Hugo’s office, he reads the letter from the Emperor. It says no on under the name of Charlotte exists in the Empire and not only she claimed the Emperor’s name but also stole the Demon Swords. Her dagger is fake and they demand the return of the stolen Demon Swords as the aforementioned will be severely punished under the Empire’s law.

Charlotte is in shock and sinks into depression in episode 8. Cecily is adamant to save her but Hugo and Hannibal know their hands are tied. If they refuse to hand over Charlotte who has been deemed a criminal, the Empire may attack them, something they don’t want to happen. Next day, Hugo and Hannibal say their only option is to defect to the military nation but the girls feel that will put them even more against the wall. Plus, a condition for that nation to accept them is if they spill everything they know about the Empire. Charlotte is in a dilemma as it’s like between the devil and the deep blue sea. But she decides she doesn’t want to defect and leaves with her loyal guards. Cecily and Aria head back to Luke’s place and discuss about this. He says there’s no power in her words if she can’t give them a reason to live. When Lisa mentions she doesn’t care where she is as long as she’s with everyone, Cecily knew what to do.

The loyal guards are trying to steal back their Demon Swords that night but are confronted by Cecily. Since they aren’t on listening terms, Cecily allows them to take their Demon Swords to fight not because she wants a fair fight, but she admits she’s STUPID! And stubborn too! On level playing field, Cecily is superior as she injures Margot. Cecily also improvises with Aria to wound Penelope. When Charlotte realizes her loyal guards aren’t back at home, she realizes and rushes over. Now it’s Cecily vs Doris. Cecily tells her returning to the Empire will not save Charlotte but kill her and wants them to find their own happiness instead. It fell on deaf ears so Cecily unleashes a powerful blast to knock them all out. Charlotte has arrived and heard them. Cecily tells her to defect but Charlotte still holds her mum dear to her heart. Cecily tells her to open her eyes that her loyal guards aren’t just servants and wants them to start life anew even if it’s in shame but at least they’re happy. Charlotte still can’t do it so Cecily slaps her till she falls and cries her heart out. Next day as reported, the Empire retrieved the 4 Demon Swords and withdrew. Charlotte and co thank and apologize before leaving. Charlotte tells Cecily that a man named Siegfried who can tame monsters gave them the 4 Demon Swords and planned this whole thing. Finally Charlotte got the resolve to revoke her ‘E’ name and cut ties with the Empire.

Luke dreams of making a promise with a girl named Lisa Oakwood to protect the city together. She wanted him to forge her own katana to become a knight a he a blacksmith. But something terrible happened 3 years ago as Luke wakes up in cold sweat from that nightmare. Lucy isn’t pleased Cecily wants to work out and has Fio and Aria change Cecily into a girly dress to go out on a date with a guy. Well, Cecily’s body reaction to deny it must’ve been a dead giveaway that she has a certain guy in mind. She’s not to come back till she captures his heart. Embarrassed in town, a citizen spots Cecily and wants her to take a girl, Elsa, to see Luke to fix her broken dagger. The usual sarcasm from Luke (first maid outfit, now girly dress…) before looking at the dagger. He notes its core is broken and is irreparable. Lisa decides to do some maintenance work on the dagger.

Luke goes out for business while Cecily tags along. On the way, Cecily asks if Luke and Lisa were fighting. He denies and thinks they can’t go on living like this. He feels Lisa has done lots for him but he realized he never did anything for her till he bought her that hat. So what does he want to do? He wants to protect her. Elsa tells Lisa the dagger used to kill an injured knight who can’t be saved. A knight gave his daughter that dagger before the war and promised to return. When he did, the one who was supposed to die lived and vice versa. Luke brings Cecily to the grave of Lisa Oakwood, a childhood friend he failed to protect from being killed by Valbanill 3 years ago. Flashback when young Luke and Lisa O ventured into the eerie caves up Mt Blair. They saw Valbanill as Lisa O saved Luke and in the process got killed. His dad who came looking for them also got killed. Luke feels Cecily and Lisa O are somewhat similar. She asks if he loves her. He replies that he used too but now she’s gone. Lisa finishes her maintenance job so the latter leaves. On the way, she passes by Aria who is on her way to check on Cecily. Elsa returns to her sick and rageful master (actually Elsa’s dad) asking her if she had sensed Valbanill. He was being told by MIB that the Valbanill’s blood is in this city. Though Elsa wonders if that MIB could be trusted, he scoffs it off and will have revenge on him for killing Elsa. That stormy night, Elsa’s dad approaches Luke’s home and is looking for Valbanill. He starts attacking with his lighting power Demon Sword. One of the shots is heading towards Lisa.

Luckily it was deflected and hit the roof in episode 10. Seems Elsa, his Demon Sword was responsible for it as Elsa’s dad coughs up blood and before going away. When Cecily and Aria learn about this, Aria tells them Elsa is a Demon Sword that can take human form. Just as in the Valbanill Meeting, Luke explains Valbanill was sealed by a sacred sword but its power is weakening. Then there’s this Valbanill’s Curse whereby every day the people make use of Prayer Contracts, the energy that they call Mana is actually a curse released by that thing. Housman the First was smart to assimilate it into their daily lives. Prayer Contracts are like Demon’s Contract, just that it doesn’t use human flesh and blood. Sealed Valbanill was thinking on how to exact revenge on humans and carved death songs into everyone’s heart in hopes they take each other out. Luckily they realized that and stopped the madness. Luke can’t create the sacred sword because he thinks he is missing something. But Cecily thinks it’s Valbanill he doesn’t hate. She feels upset that she doesn’t know a thing even if Luke remains silent to bear the burden. However Aria thinks if she isn’t prepared to live with fate after knowing, it’s better off she didn’t in the first place.

Aria meets Elsa in town as they discuss about their special existence. Aria thinks they’re drifters but Elsa says they’re born out of grief and hatred of Valbanill. That’s why when they chant and transform, they say “Slay God”. That night, MIB pays ailing Elsa’s dad a visit and will help him out. They go confront Luke but it seems he isn’t their target. Elsa’s dad thinks Lisa is Valbanill! Luke is preoccupied with MIB and his Demon Sword with rotting powers. Cecily and Aria protect Lisa but Elsa’s dad is so crazy and resolved in exacting revenge, he exerts so much power that he starts coughing blood. Elsa uses her body to shield him from Cecily and Aria’s blow. He is weakened and wants Elsa to fulfil her promise. She takes out her dagger and stabs his chest and shortly dies with him in his arms. MIB turns out to be Siegfried as he explains Demon Swords were born to kill Valbanill. One day Aria too would want to kill Lisa because Valbanill’s blood is flowing inside of her. In short, Lisa is a demon created by Luke when he tried to escape Valbanill then by using Lisa O. Siegfried escapes but Cecily doesn’t believe a word he said till Luke admits it all and that he killed Lisa O.

The gang prays at Elsa and her dad’s grave in episode 11. It was odd for Cecily to turn down Lisa’s offer to eat at their home. Heck, it was odd for her to always eat there. Cecily is confused with her newfound knowledge but Aria notes she knew Lisa was a demon the first time they met. Well, it takes one to know one. Aria continues to sooth Cecily with words like they haven’t changed so Cecily is back to her normal self and will go apologize to Lisa. The Empire’s representative, Siegfried, comes to the Valbanill Meeting and Cecily is surprised to see him. She can’t hold back her anger and tries to slash him but was restrained by her colleagues. Though she tries to tell everyone he is the MIB, however there is no proof. Luke is there but he maintains his cool and just mentions he will one day kill the MIB. They allow Cecily to in the Meeting but everyone is disappointed that Luke hasn’t forged the sacred sword yet. They mention Lisa has that power and technique to do so in a flash but Luke says swords forges that way are fragile and can’t be used to seal. They know the demon he is raising and mock him that in addition to sacrificing his childhood friend, wants the world to end. Cecily can’t stand it all and gives them a piece of her mind but Luke restrains her. Cecily learns Luke used his left eye (which is now a fake) and Lisa O as catalysts to form a Demon’s Contract. Because Cecily can’t control her outburst, Luke has her leave the room though her intentions were to defend him.

Cecily goes back to Lisa and apologizes to her. They talk about Luke but tearful Lisa feels guilty that she’s just a replica of young Lisa O and probably Luke regretted calling her so though he treasures her very much. She thinks it’s his atonement for failing to protect Lisa O. Cecily finally understands and heads back to the Meeting. She tells everyone the truth of what happened. It was Lisa O who turned into a demon herself. Though Demon’s Contract can only be activated by oneself, Luke didn’t force her to do so because they said they’d protect each other. Plus, the Demon’s Contract was to protect Luke. The demon born Lisa is proof of it. Why an appearance of a cute little girl? So she could protect Luke for eternity even if she’s gone. Thus Lisa O gave Lisa the duty to protect Luke and no one else was born from that contract. Luke is upset and won’t accept what she says so she tells him off to open his eyes that though he understood her feelings, he couldn’t face it and that’s why he bore those sins. He didn’t create a sword to seal Valbanill but to defeat anyone and protect those he loves. And that is his sacred sword, a sword born from Lisa O towards Lisa. Siegfried laughs it off how would love kill Valbanill so Cecily challenges him to try cutting his katana. Confident Siegfried takes her challenge up and the sword he borrowed broke upon contact. Not laughing now, isn’t he? Luke and Cecily leave as she tells him not to overlook the precious people in front of him. Lisa is there to greet him. Pissed Siegfried isn’t happy with Cecily and Luke’s ‘joke’, seems to take his frustrations out by unleashing monsters upon the city.

In episode 12, Luke talks to Lisa and the latter cries as she still feels guilty for being that fake Lisa thingy and making him regret. Luke apologizes and regrets making her bear Lisa O’s burdens. Lisa is Lisa and wants her to walk her own path instead of being Lisa O’s shadow. They reconcile as Lisa tells of her wish to continue living with him. Suddenly humanoid monsters start attacking the city and surround them. Luke knows it’s Siegfried’s doing. They along with the Knight Guards slay the menace that rampage throughout the city. Siegfried is enjoying the scenery of the city being burnt like hell as Luke arrives. Cut the chatter and let the fight begin. Lisa goes to find Cecily and tells her that Luke is missing and is probably fighting Siegfried. Hannibal lets Cecily go to his side while he handles things here. Cecily and Lisa are faced with Siegfried’s knight, Francisca, and though she puts up a formidable fight, Cecily ultimately beats her. However Aria has taken some damage so she wishes them to go ahead while she rests.

By the time they arrive, Luke has taken some damage from Siegfried’s Demon Sword. Cecily vows to protect him but Luke tells her to run away with Lisa because he doesn’t want to see another sacrifice. Cecily tells him off Lisa O’s sacrifice wasn’t meaningless and not to insult her death. She wants him to draw his sword and fight. That is his gift to her. Luke and Lisa do their special katana forging technique and although successful, Luke is weakened. He gives the katana to Cecily and says it is hers. With renewed determination, Cecily clashes swords with Siegfried. She manages to break his Demon Sword and stab his chest though her katana broke soon after. Defeated Siegfried isn’t happy as he vanishes once more (he always escapes this way, eh?) and won’t forget this humiliation. As Lisa heals Luke, Cecily thanks him that she was able to persevere because of his katana. She calls him the Sacred Blacksmith but he just says he’s a Shoddy Blacksmith for now. They go continue protect the people of the city. In the aftermath as the city is being repaired and life returning to normal, we see everyone resuming their daily lives. Charlotte and her loyal guards seem to have been accepted by the military nation and Aria pays a visit to Elsa’s grave. Cecily and Aria join Luke and Lisa for lunch.

That’s it?! What kind of crappy ending is that? Sure everything ends on a happy note but the way it ended not only felt so rushed but it gave an indication that there are more things to come and this ‘peace’ was just temporary. Second season? Dunno. Maybe. It was nice that this short series had short little story arcs in them and with the various bunch of characters, I felt that this series was mainly about Luke bearing the burden of Lisa O’s death and Cecily helping him getting over it. I mean, the much mentioned evil Valbanill was never a threat in many ways as I was hoping to see him revived at the end but nothing of that sort came close. I mean, the city is so close to a mountain always covered with dark clouds at the top (or is it volcanic ashes?) that I have always got a feeling that something evil will be unleashed from there and cause havoc. Do I feel the imminent threat that the world is coming to an end here? Siegfried was easily identifiable as the villain right from the start. You know that evil-looking grin and features. You don’t need much effort to tell he was the MIB even if you don’t recognize his voice. So with him playing as the antagonist was really expected but you know, he wasn’t finished off at the final part so a big yes that he’ll definitely be back though his identity is already known. And yeah, I happen to notice that the other antagonists seem to resemble old bearded men… The bandit leader, the ragged knight and Elsa’s dad… Is there a trend here?

Cecily may be that unlady-like but her honest and sincere heart definitely makes her worthy of being a knight. I have this feeling that Cecily may have the largest boobs in the city. That’s because almost everyone sure admires her racks, tease about it or yearn to grow theirs as big as hers. Yeah, they should have also nicknamed this series, The Boobsmith. Oh wait, I think unofficially that’s what most viewers would call it. Haha. So is her armour over her boobs serves as an iron bra? Even I can’t resist making a joke out of it. In view of all of this boob talk, there isn’t any fanservice. At least not that I can see. Chemistry wise, there is none between Cecily and Luke. There may be circumstances that seem like it but I assure you that there is NONE. Though mommy wants to play cupid. Luke was just preoccupied with his burdens while Cecily probably made those frequent visits in hopes of getting her own forged katana. Well she did, although for a short period of time. Maybe she’ll just have to do with Aria seeing that she does make some improvements while handling her. Hope she doesn’t break her.

Since I have mentioned of the little story arcs, I was expecting to see at least many of the characters coming back and playing a part in the final episode. I mean after watching the opening credits animation, I was anticipating the Luke-Siegfried and Cecily-Francisca showdown. Unfortunately for Francisca’s case, it’s like she made so few appearances throughout the series and when it comes her time for her to shine in the last episode, she hardly has 2 minutes of fame. And I thought Evadne will become Siegfried’s Demon Sword in the final episode too. But I don’t think the sword he was wielding is Evadne because her powers are of flame unless she possesses rotting ones too. What about Reginald or even Patty? Did they forget about them? Uh huh. I thought that arrogant guy too would have at least a minor role like maybe a scene to prove he’s more talk than action when Cecily comes to his rescue… Just wishful thinking, I guess. Something about the fights that last too short. I don’t mean for them to drag on for hours but I don’t thinks most of them last a minute and there isn’t something spectacular. And something about the blood and gore here. It’s a little bit more graphic than your usual slashing flick. Let’s just say that when one coughs up blood or gets a limb stabbed and wounded, I find the blood oozing out a little more than usual. Well unlike in most animes whereby death rate is particularly zero, there are actually a number of people dying (minor ones though) be it Knight Guards or normal citizens. At least our heroes don’t die.

The opening theme by Mayumi Gojou is called Justice Of Light and sounds like a typical upbeat but powerful piece for such genres. Whereas the ending theme by Aki Toyosaki (who is also the voice for Lisa) entitled Miracle Happy Day, sounds more like anime pop. I guess if Lisa doesn’t have enough screen time for lolicons, the ending credits is the place. Why? For instance, I find it real funny and amusing that a stretch of the animation shows cute Lisa tripping over a pebble and each time she does that, the background voice goes “Hoo!”. Don’t worry Lisa, everyone is here for you. As for the terminologies in this series, I may not understand them on the first go and need to rewind several times to listen to understand but it is nothing major.

So it’s not the size or the powers of your sword that determines an outcome. It is how one use it and of course the heart as well. Come to think of it I have don’t remember ever seeing a female knight. I can imagine the discrimination if there was one. “Are you cosplaying or what?”. As for blacksmithing, I guess it’s a dying trade and probably extinct in some parts of the world. You don’t need to forge a sacred sword if the world ever came close to apocalypse. Probably just a busty female knight with lots of determination. And kick ass too.

Seiken No Blacksmith

Kurenai OVA

October 19, 2010

I did not really expect Kurenai to come up with an OVA since the TV series properly ended around 2 years ago. Thankfully this OVA is not a retelling of the story or a continuation either. Instead we have short stories of the characters of the series as the synopsis of Anime News Network puts, “…shows the characters’ everyday happenings and reveal more of their eccentric behaviours and personalities”. That couldn’t be such a bad thing, right?

The Akuu Company
A bunch of shady men are loading up barrels of disinfectant into a van. When they leave, one of them contacts Lucy May of the Akuu Company. Seems they have hired her company to do some request. Shinkurou, Murasaki and Lin are having tea and scones at a fancy restaurant owned by Lin’s family. Apparently Lin is following Murasaki 24/7 like a bodyguard and carries her double swords around. If you’re troubled by that, just take her advice and think of it as accessories. Like that will work. Shinkurou gets a call from Ginko to pick her up. Seems the entire gang have the hotel pool booked for their exclusive use. Even Tamaki, Yamie, Ginko and Yuuno are there. I don’t remember who this Kirihiko girl is (my research shows that she’s one of the descendents of assassins of the Inner Families. She did not appear in the TV series) but she almost drowned in the pool because she did not do her warming up. Leave Shinkurou to pull her out of the water so Tamaki teases him that he’s taking advantage of her. Meanwhile Lucy meets the shady guys and the men think they can pull off some terrorist act on the hotel themselves. Lucy sees Kirihiko and advises her to leave the building because something bad is about to happen.

After a power play of water volleyball, Shinkurou is made to do errands by buying the girls drinks from the vending machine. On his way back, he bumps into one of the shady men as he accidentally spills the barrel filled with disinfectant. That guy is going to take Shinkurou out but was luckily knocked out by Yuuno. Seems she and the rest have noticed what is going on. Ginko’s technical analysis of the liquid concludes it to be chemicals used to disinfect pools and by mixing it with another chemical, it will produce a huge amount of chlorine gas. When that guy wakes up, Shinkurou interrogates him of his target and comrades. Initially his mouth was tightly zipped but when Tamaki did something really painful to his manhood, he spilled just about everything. Shinkurou, Lin and Yuuno head to the different levels of the hotel to stop the other men from placing the barrels, successfully knocking them out. The last one got desperate and took out a knife while charging at Ginko and Murasaki at the pool but was swiftly taken care of by Kirihiko. At the end of the day when Shinkurou and co leave, they learn that the men were fired ex-employees of the hotel and wanted to take revenge, though the reason they were laid off was because they were found guilty of embezzlement. But Ginko feels something is not right as she wonders how did a bunch of unemployed men got all that chemical from. It hints to Lucy and her company. She gets a call saying the mission was a failure but it doesn’t matter because she already received the money. I guess it’s better off we don’t know what she and her company really do.

Ginko’s computer
At school, Ginko as usual is in the process of completing her usual job on her laptop with Shinkurou when the screen suddenly blacks out. Then she fixes it but that was short-lived because it soon completely breaks down. Ginko starts to panic so Shinkurou decides to call the client about the delay so that she could have 1 hour to complete her work using her home PC. However Ginko remembers of her client’s busy schedule so they have to complete the job no matter what. Now she’s really breaking down. She and her computer are alike… Shinkurou thinks Yuuno can help fix it because he remembered she repaired a computer once. Serious? Er… Why is Yuuno holding a pair of scissors and tape in hand? Is she seriously going to fix it just like that? Well apparently the computer that she ‘fixed’ had a broken wire and replaced it with a video game’s. All hope is lost.

Then Murasaki and Lin come in. The little girl wants him to take her to a video game outlet but he apologizes since he has work. When Lin learns of Ginko’s case, she lends hers so she can do whatever she wants. But Ginko is reluctant because she has always been doing work with that laptop. She is faced with a dilemma of using her own laptop or to finish her job. Ginko is prepared to use Lin’s laptop and have Shinkurou rush to where her client is when Murasaki starts pressing randomly the buttons on Ginko’s laptop so Ginko is overprotective of her treasured item and forcefully take her hands away. In the process, her laptop falls off the table. Oh no, all her hard work gone. All her precious memories gone. Thankfully, Yuuno catches it before it hits the floor. Then it started working, much to Ginko’s relief. So like all machines, all it needs is a little whack but don’t go doing this on every machine. Ginko continues her work with intense concentration as Shinkurou goes on his way. Later Ginko treats Shinkurou to a meal as thanks. He wonders when she bought that laptop of hers and suggests buying a new one. Apparently this laptop means a lot to Ginko because she didn’t buy it. It was a gift from Shinkurou he got from a client. Obviously he forgot about that.

Diary
Murasaki and Lin are up and running, living the healthy life. Ginko and Yuuno are there too but they aren’t happy that they came because one thought she’d be able to look at flowers and the other made bento. Seems they are to help Murasaki do her picture diary for her school assignment and her theme is activities that are needed to supplement a good lifestyle. They have no choice since Lin is pointing her sword at them. What about Shinkurou? He’s got a job so he won’t be finished till later in the day and his handphone has no signal. Good for him, eh? After the reluctant ladies put on Lin’s backup clothes, off they start with a jog, followed by a swim and then an indoor game of squash. It’s a wonder why Yuuno and Ginko are so out of breath while little Murasaki so happy and cool. She’s like taking it so easy. Probably her sketching of the workout they did was so horrible that I think Lin was serving her role of taking photos of them in action. Well, you can’t blame her since she’s still a kid so that kind of drawing was to be expected. With 6 more pages to go, Murasaki requests them to do 2 more and the remainder they can leave it to Shinkurou. Next up is boxing so the Yuuno and Ginko are all fired up taking out whatever frustrations on the punching bag while Murasaki is playing it cool. When Shinkurou spots the girls how tired they are at the end, he was going to make an escape but Lin was fast enough to stick her sword at his throat. Four pages may not seem much so ganbaru nee, Shinkurou… Maybe he should’ve gone for OT.

Troubleshoot…
So this OVA was fun and lacks the tension and drama that was present in the TV series. For those who have not watched the TV series, you don’t have to worry because there aren’t many elements that linked it back to it. Therefore this OVA also serves as a standalone. Because of that, some of the characters do not appear here such as Benika, Yayoi and Renjou. Tamaki and Yamie had their short and brief appearances but that is better than nothing. But if there were more short story arcs, I’m sure they’ll focus on them. In my opinion, the limelight seems to focus on Lin, Ginko and Yuuno in this OVA. Shinkurou and Murasaki felt secondary.

I don’t know if 2 years was a long time but I felt something different about the drawing especially Lin and Murasaki. At first I couldn’t recognize them because they looked a little different. Maybe it’s because Lin has got her hair braided and Murasaki tied her hair as twintail. Plus, Lin is a little more talkative than she used to back in the TV series when she was a heartless killer, though she still has a commanding air around her. Or maybe it is my memory that is failing me… But thankfully Murasaki is still the lively little girl she is. Then something about the casual and light background music which somehow brings to mind the series Sketchbook ~Full Color’s~. Yeah, it must be my failing memory…

I don’t know if there are going to be any more OVAs but if they do, I’m sure I’ll definitely look forward to watching them if they keep it entertaining this way. Shinkurou’s life as a troubleshooter may not get easier but I guess you have got what to do what you have to do when you’re poor. Other than that, he’s rich with friends and with them they’re more than just backup and support for him.

Kurenai

Omamori Himari

October 16, 2010

Oh boy. Another ecchi supernatural harem romance comedy. Did I sound like I was complaining? My first thought was Omamori Himari was going to be somewhat close to Rosario To Vampire simply because we have a guy surrounded by a bevy of hot supernatural babes. But that is just superficial and even if they are nearly similar, it still doesn’t stray from your typical ecchi supernatural harem romance comedy. Yeah, I said that already, didn’t I?

So we’ve got our typical main guy, Yuuto Amakawa. How typical? His parents died in an accident 7 years ago, does not have clear memories of his life before then, lives in his suburban home all by himself, and because as a guy he can’t be possibly handling all the chores and meals himself and we have to have that typical childhood friend who does all this stuff that includes waking him up for school. Yeah, that ‘honour’ goes to Rinko Kuzaki, his next door neighbour who has a secret crush on him but being the tsundere she is, you know she can’t say it lah. Their peaceful life is about the get interrupted when more girls show up in his harem. Oops. Wait a minute, that’s how it has got to be, right?

Yeah so, in addition to what I’ve just mentioned in episode 1, Yuuto also has that same allergy Nyan Koi’s Junpei Kousaka has. Yup, allergy to cats. I’m sure Rinko will find it handy to throw their cat Ranmaru at him if he ever does funny stuff on her though it is unintentional. Oh, did I mention that Yuuto’s not a pervert. Why do many main guys in the series have such a low libido? Heck, probably that’s why the girls love to play hard to get. Walking to school one morning, who wouldn’t be surprised if a hot babe starts seducing you right in the middle of daylight and claims to know you but you don’t? That new girl, Himari Noihara gets off to a great start by just doing that and things could’ve been steamier if she had been successful with her tongue licking greeting in his ear! Yeow! Good thing or not, it’s Rinko’s ‘instinct’ that takes beloved Yuuto away from her as they rush to school. And why in such shows that it is always the main guy’s supporting and best friend that is the pervert? Well apparently Taizou Masaki fits that bill. That’s why they are deemed losers. Anyway Rinko drags Yuuto to the rooftop and interrogates him about his secret fiancee when Taizou who was earlier possessed by an Ayakashi (Demon) starts transforming into one and attacks them. Himari in time slays the Ayakashi before it could make mince meat out of the kids. As for Taizou, don’t worry, he’s back to normal after the Ayakashi left his body and is sleeping like a baby. Some dream, eh?

That night, Yuuto is having lots on his mind about today’s events but you can’t blame him for lack of deep concentration if sexy Himari starts appearing on top and seducing him! How did she enter, how did she… Oh never mind. She notes how the power of his charm given by his grandma has wilted and thus the reason why Ayakashis are targeting him. Himari introduces herself and the worst part is not the fact she is an Ayakashi and his bodyguard, but a cat Ayakashi. Uh oh. Allergies. And it’s about to get worse when Rinko comes in to check on him. Yeah, check them out. Oh wait, it’s getting much more complicated the next day because Himari becomes to new transfer student in Yuuto and Rinko’s class! Oh how typical. Back home, Himari explains to them that Yuuto comes from 1 of the 12 descendents of Demon Slayer families. Ayakashis were being exterminated by them but the Amakawa showed mercy on Himari’s ancestors, thus she is forever grateful and vowed to protect his descendents. Rinko isn’t thrilled with all that crap and challenges her to duel to prove that the cat is just more than big boobs. Unfortunately Himari beats Rinko flat (no pun intended) in just about anything. And in some duels, providing the on-looking crowd with much fanservice. That evening, Yuuto goes to talk to Himari and hopes she would forgive Rinko. Since he’s not the guy who would turn down a girl, I guess she can’t turn Himari away. Yeah, she jumps into his open arms. “Take me!”. Next morning, Rinko probably felt embarrassed about then so I suppose she heads over to Yuuto’s room to apologize but when she sees Himari cuddling so closely sleeping next to Yuuto, you can guess what’s coming.

Perhaps Taizou doesn’t want to be left out of Yuuto’s harem so he invites him and the girls to the beach in episode 2. Well, more like the Iinchou (class rep) invited them as goodwill gesture. On the way home, Himari went ahead first then it started raining. Suddenly Yuuto hears a voice telling him to forget it or else he will die. Yuuto accompanies the girls to buy swimsuits (fanservice cue!) and it’s pretty odd to see Himari carrying her trusty sword, Yasutsuna, around with her wherever she goes. Well, it’s for preventive measures just in case. Yuuto chooses a summer clothes for Himari so she feels happy. At the beach, the usual fun in the sun and sand (not forgetting the fanservice as well) as loser Taizou gets regulated by Iinchou while Rinko tries to score more points with Yuuto. Himari was thinking too much that she unknowingly drifted quite a distance from the shore. Luckily Yuuto was there with her but they are suddenly attacked by tentacles coming from underneath. When Yuuto wakes up, he finds a loli Ayakashi, Shizuku, sitting on top of him. I’m sure she’s not trying to seduce him because she’s saying how awakening of the Demon Slayer in him will destroy the balance between humans and Ayakashis. In short, she is going to kill him. At times like this, where is the bodyguard? Oh, speaking of the devil, Himari just appeared in time for a showdown with the Mizuchi (water deity). However Shizuku is able to control all things that are of water and has her water demon seize Himari. Yuuto tries to save her but it goes to show even if the heart desires so, being useless and powerless adds to the liability. Yeah, now he’s drowning. Himari takes an ice fragment and stabs her own leg. This causes the water to be tainted so Shizuku couldn’t control it anymore. But there are ample water surrounding them and at Shizuku’s disposal. Himari tells her master to run but Yuuto tells her off not to sacrifice herself for his sake. Shizuku senses something amiss with that and decides to back down and escapes. Shizuku returns to the forest of Ayakashis who hired her to kill Yuuto. They aren’t happy that she wasted her chance to kill him but she decides to do observe them more.

Looks like Shizuku has made herself a regular guest in Yuuto’s house in episode 3. What a way to make her entrance while Yuuto’s having his bath. Hey, she’s a Mizuchi, remember? Just hope the rest don’t think he’s a lolicon. Shizuku questions him about killing Ayakashis but Yuuto says he has no intention to fight and would love continuing to live with Rinko and Himari. He soon passes out and remembers his late parents took him from the countryside to live in the city. When he wakes up, the usual spat as Himari feels like cutting down Shizuku. Shizuku couldn’t understand the strange relationship between Himari and Yuuto since the latter is allergic to cats but yet allows her to stay. Though Yuuto can’t offer any proof, Shizuku decides to live with him so she could understand him better. Aha. Shizuku proves herself useful as she does all the cooking and chores and beats Rinko at her own game! And she thought having a cat rival was bad enough but now a water loli? Himari has been offered by her homeroom teacher, Sae Kisaragi, to do part time job as a maid waitress as a chance to learn the local culture. Partly, she can’t lose to Shizuku too. She is introduced to Cafe Relish’s main maid, Lizlet “Liz” L. Chelsie. Himari can smell that Liz is an Ayakashi.

Yuuto, Rinko and Shizuku pay a visit to Cafe Relish to see how Himari’s doing and Himari would’ve given Yuuto extra services if Liz didn’t stop her and reminded her about giving equal treatment to customers. Liz starts to get uncomfortable when she notices Yuuto staring at her and thinks he is a spy sent by Himari. Taking drastic actions, she drugs his tea but Shizuku knows it is infused with magic and gives it to unsuspecting Taizou. He suddenly has the urge to go home and is follow suit by everyone else in the cafe. Himari attacks Liz though the latter is against any violence. Liz evades Himari’s sword but eventually got stabbed in the chest. But there is no effect as her body heals (though her maid outfit is ruined). They note she is a Tsukumogami (a spirit that originate from objects) and finds her true form as a tea cup. Himari is going to smash the cup which would’ve killed her outright and during the struggle with Liz, she accidentally drops it. Luckily Yuuto saves it. Why? He knows she isn’t a bad person and was observing how she was working hard to provide her customers with amazing tea in the cafe she loves. Liz is grateful and relieved that she is able to continue her peaceful tea making life. Next morning, Yuuto gets more surprise because Himari, Rinko and Shizuku are dressed in maid outfits to (over)serve him. I guess this is the kind of room service he doesn’t want to get.

What’s worse than Rinko finding out Yuuto is sleeping with Himari in episode 4? Why, it’s Yuuto sleeping with Himari AND Shizuku! Here comes to pain… At Cafe Relish, the girls are once again arguing about Yuuto. Well, Himari should be by his side since she is his bodyguard and Shizuku to observe him. Oh wait, now Liz is in love with Yuuto because he saved her. Oh Rinko, the competition is heating up! But Himari notes Yuuto’s inability to recognize himself as a Demon Slayer and tells him that they are going home to their village of Noihara. I suppose Rinko and Shizuku don’t want Himari to monopolize Yuuto all to herself so they tag along too. They are greeted by a Zashiki Warashi who is very fond of Himari, Kaya. You can tell Kaya isn’t going to be part of Yuuto’s harem not because the ending credits don’t feature her as she also hates that guy for taking Himari away from her. Ah well, not every girl would fall for a guy in a harem. Himari brags in front of Yuuto’s departed grandma and grandpa’s alter how her young master bought these clothes for her. Not very good considering the other girls heard about this.

Yuuto is lazing around and since he can’t remember a thing about his past, all it takes is Himari seducing him (licking his neck!!!) and wahlah! A young Yuuto always seemed at ease whenever he was with his white pet cat. They were inseparable and went just about anywhere. Yuuto snaps out of the dream when he remembered a girl kissed him. Back in reality, Yuuto remembers Himari as that cat. I know it’s natural for cats not to wear clothes but Himari turned into her human form and is hugging him totally naked! Too bad the fanservice has to cut short when they are being attacked by a Hinoenma (vampire-like air demon), Ageha. Thankfully Himari had her clothes nearby so she manages to slip into them lightning fast and subdue Ageha. Himari has to back down seeing that it is Yuuto’s wish not to kill but Ageha’s intention is to raise her status by killing Demon Slayer clans as she summons a Daidarabocchi. I don’t know what this giant Ayakashi is but somehow it reminded me of Bleach’s Hollow. Meanwhile Rinko, Shizuku and Kaya are being confronted by an Ippon-datara, Sasa, who is dropping heavy logs from the sky to crush them. Kaya repels them with her barrier and with the help of Shizuku, they manage to subdue Sasa. As Himari and Ageha clash swords, Yuuto escapes but his heart is unsettled because he doesn’t want to always be protected. Ageha was to slash Himari but Yuuto used his body to protect her. Himari is horrified upon what she saw and she is suddenly engulfed with hatred and rage. Himari turns into an emotionless killing machine and sliced Daidarabocchi in a single strike. Ageha could’ve been done for too if he did not block Himari’s strike with a stick. Actually it’s not that the stick was that strong but rather an aura of bright light emitting from within Yuuto. Some hidden powers he’s got there.

That power is known as Light Ferry and look at the size of the crater it caused! In episode 5, Yuuto lost his virginity to Shizuku. JUST KIDDING! Shizuku healed Yuuto with her water powers and it looked like sex! Was it necessary? Well, Shizuku did admit it made her feel good! As Himari feels depressed for not being able to protect Yuuto, Shizuku explains about each Demon Slayer clan possess unique powers. For Yuuto’s case, the Light Ferry instils its target with magic. In short, it can turn ordinary stuff into powerful weapons. Because of that, the Amakawa family stood above the rest of the Demon Slayer clans. She continues that Himari’s descendants’ true nature killed and ate people and that she derives pleasure from hunting and loses herself in slaughter. Yuuto goes to talk to Himari and he doesn’t want her to become tainted by blood. He is okay with the way she is now. Meanwhile Ageha returns to retrieve tied-up Sasa and warns them that other Demon Slayers are watching them. As Yuuto and Himari walk back, he mentions about the time she first kissed him back then. But Himari says the first time she showed up in human form was when he and Rinko were on his way to school back in the first episode. Back in the city, Yuuto tries to train his powers with Shizuku but she notes it is useless since he doesn’t have the will to kill that would bring out his Light Ferry powers. In view of that, Shizuku brought extra help: Rinko and Liz. I don’t know about Shizuku’s theory that Light Ferry relies on mental strength so they proceed to seduce him to train his composure! Probably just an excuse to get horny with him. Yeah, Shizuku mocks Rinko for being the ‘middle ground’ which isn’t as good compared to a flat chest loli and a very busty maid. Haha! Remember never to incur the wrath of a cat because as soon as Himari sees them in their unholy act, watch out for her blades!!! All that nose bleeding wasn’t from any cut and scratches, you know… Yuuto talks to Himari after school but they are faced with a girl who resembles uncannily to Rozen Maiden’s Suigin Tou. She is Kuesu Jinguuji and not an Ayakashi. But the heiress of 1 of the Demon Slayer clans.

Naturally both Himari and Kuesu duke it out in episode 6. Kuesu feels Yuuto should belong to her side and is here for him. Yuuto isn’t happy that Kuesu tried to attack without understanding first. Using her western magic to hold off Himari, Kuesu wants Yuuto to come and unite with her. She mentions how both their families have arranged for them to be married. Married? Heck, Yuuto doesn’t remember a thing. Oh, she can make him remember. How? She kisses him! See the power of a kiss? It could make him remember that she was the girl who kissed him back then. To add fire to the oil, Kuesu purposely kisses Yuuto another time in front of Himari. That’s number 3, right? Before Kuesu splits, she warns Yuuto to ditch the Ayakashi or else she will have to do the job herself. Shizuku meets her Ayakashi employers and tells them that Kuesu is a greater threat unlike kind Yuuto. Kuesu is living at a nearby hotel and everything is provided and paid for, what more supported wholly by the Professional Bureau of Public Safety that secretly monitors paranormal activities. They sent an agent, Hyougou Kaburagi, to back Kuesu and provide for her needs. Shizuku faces off with Kuesu on top of a building. In the destructive battle between fire and ice, Kuesu emerges victorious as Shizuku barely escapes. We learn the Jinguuji family is the weakest among the Demon Slayer clans and has always been looked down upon. Even among humans, such discrimination exists. So I guess it’s no surprise Kuesu is doing this to bring back her family pride. Meanwhile Himari is so bothered by Kuesu’s kiss that she tries to pester Yuuto for one. Himari wasn’t really sure but I think Yuuto’s actions indicated he really wanted to give her one. Well, she settled for a peck on the cheek, the doorbell rang and causes them to panic. What does this lead to? Yuuto kissed Himari on her lips! If Rinko was only a second earlier, we could’ve seen another cat fight. Now Himari is a very happy cat and Yuuto a little troubled that he did the impossible.

At Cafe Relish in episode 7, Rinko and Liz finds out about Kuesu and the fiancee thingy. Not good. Wow the competition is really getting intense. Speaking of the devil, Kuesu happen to come in to talk but Yuuto can’t go along with her if she doesn’t change her stand to coexist with the Ayakashi. Kuesu could’ve gone into seductive mode if Himari didn’t step in in time. The usual catty talk so much so the other girls know about their kissing. Kuesu decides to back down for now but reminds him about the promise they made that day even if he doesn’t remember it. At school, Himari tells Yuuto that she’s coming up with a countermeasure for Kuesu and wants him to head back home first. That countermeasure is to fight Kuesu at a park and settle it once and for all. Flashbacks reveal that Kuesu never liked Himari as the cat always hanging around Yuuto. Because of that, she cast a spell to make Yuuto allergic to cats. During the fight, Himari feels pity for her that her heart’s paralyzed after Kuesu tells of her sad oppressed family story. Himari could’ve won if Kuesu didn’t play cheat. What cheat? She used a gun! With magic bullets! Himari had to sacrifice Yasutsuna or else get burnt by Kuesu’s flames. One of the bullets grazed Himari’s arm. This causes Himari to turn into her true bloodthirsty killing nature. She tries hard to subdue it and though she’s losing control of herself, she flees. If not, Kuesu could have died. She’s lucky that she’s still breathing and could get away with just her shivering hands. Yuuto finally finds out from Shizuku about Himari’s fight with Kuesu. Why didn’t she tell him? Well, he didn’t ask. Simple. Yuuto sees badly beaten and weakened Himari slumped in his room.

As Yuuto puts Himari back to bed in episode 8, he feels guilty for not taking a stand against Kuesu. Himari soon wakes up and feels ashamed of her nearly losing herself in Kuesu’s trap and the loss of her Yasutsuna but all that matters to Yuuto is that she is safe, though she needs to rest more. However Himari notes that she can take a pill to cure herself of the balance of Kuesu’s magic inside her, though she will go on a rampage. Yuuto is prepared for the worse but I guess he didn’t expect for Himari to turn into a horny cat! Now he’s going to have allergies all night. Himari is fine come morning and as gratitude, she kisses him. Himari sees a snow woman, Yuki, to get replacement for Yasutsuna. Yuki’s stomach is like Doraemon as she stores all her various weapons there. But she has no pocket so how does she let Himari pick and choose? Why, she vomits them out! Weargh… Yuuto pays a visit to Kuesu and gets straight with her that he rejects her ideals. He gives her his piece of mind about this fiancee thingy and the Light Ferry that she wants to revive her family. Of course Kuesu is shocked to hear this. So shocked that she snaps and tries to kill him! Dangerous! It is that time that Yuuto remembers another piece of memory with her. Seems he promised to work with her to kill Ayakashis and protect her. By that time, Kuesu was thrown out of the window by Yuuto’s Light Ferry. But too late regretting that it’s his fault to begin with. Thankfully Kuesu’s magic teleports her back to the room and in a way both of them reconcile, though they may not agree with the totally wiping out of Ayakashis yet. Tsundere Kuesu indicates that she was willing to accept all his urges and fantasies instead of that cat. She could’ve confessed her feelings if Himari didn’t come in (Kuesu’s barrier broke when the window did) and heard her embarrassing lines. And as expected, both ladies continue to challenge each other over you know who lah. It got a little more disgusting because Yuki is there to spit out all the weapons to choose from, ruining the love nest, I mean flooring with her vomit. Yuck. Lastly, the forest leaves a trail of dead Ayakashis and it seems they were being eaten by another Ayakashi.

Yuuto’s class is having an outdoor sketch in episode 9. As usual Himari and Rinko compete with each other to let Yuuto sketch them. Getting naked already? Kaburagi is investigating the eaten Ayakashis and relaying his report to Kuesu. When Himari and Rinko realize they’ve lost Yuuto over their silly battle, they go in search of him but Rinko comes into Sasa. That means, Ageha has kidnapped Yuuto and plans to suck his blood. Probably she stripped her top naked so as to paralyze him while she sinks her teeth into his neck. However it is girl, interrupted, when Himari comes to Yuuto’s rescue. Ageha decides to withdraw as she doesn’t want to die yet. The rest think it has something to do with the slain Ayakashis. Kaburagi picks them up and explains things at Cafe Relish (Ageha and Sasa are their allies now). Kaburagi confirms the dozen of those cases and is certain that a powerful Ayakashi is behind this. Ageha reveals she was trying to take Yuuto’s blood to power up so that she can fight back against those cannibals. Kaburagi suggests Yuuto to cooperate but the latter is against the idea of killing Ayakashis but is put in a dilemma since his harem girls, oops I mean, friends will be in danger anytime. And speaking of that Ayakashi eating demon, she turns up. Tamamo No Mae (a nine tail fox demon) or Tama for short and her guardian Shuten Douji appear. Tama attacks and though the rest combine their powers to attack, they are no match for that blonde loli Ayakashi. Tama targets Himari and sinks her teeth into her boobs. Eh? I guess that’s the juiciest part. Haha, just kidding. Kuesu arrives in time to prevent further damage. She knows Tama and Shuten Douji as 2 of the 3 most powerful Ayakashis in Japan. Tama notes Himari isn’t that delicious yet so the antagonists backs away for now. Himari has magic inside her so Tama is waiting for her to ‘ripen’ in time before devouring her.

In episode 10, Shizuku visits Kaya to do more research while Kaburagi meets up with Shuten Douji and Tama. The rest are gathered and planning their next move to defeat the antagonists. Though Kuesu has no intention to align with the Ayakashis, she is using this opportunity to get closer to Yuuto. They agree that Yuuto’s Light Ferry will be the decisive weapon for victory but it is troublesome that he can’t control it. I don’t know about Ageha’s sick either to help him draw out his latent power by doing seductive cosplay. Feeling something hot that is going to burst out of your body? I think that’s a different kind of power. Rinko isn’t happy so she drags Yuuto out shopping with her. Himari is still ruing the loss of Yasutsuna but there is a way to fix it. Sasa being an Ippon-datara means she is a blacksmith spirit though I can’t see why they portrayed her as a moe loli rather than the traditional one legged Cyclops. Sasa fixes it up real good though her blast may be too powerful and fry the rest. Shizuku and Kaya come back with their research. They say Tama and Shuten Douji were once defeated by humans and by eating other Ayakashis, their powers will grow stronger and Shuten Douji is trying to revive himself via Tama. Plus he has a deep grudge against those who sealed him away. Yuuto concludes that he will fight against them because he wants to protect their future. Kaburagi has made a deal with Shuten Douji and Tama. Seems he has sided with them to take out Yuuto’s Ayakashi’s pals since that’s what his organization’s goal is. But isn’t making a deal with them just ironic? For whose future he says? That night, Himari sets off alone but Yuuto knows his cat better and stops her. He gives her another earful that a master shouldn’t be without his bodyguard. His kindness was enough to send Himari crying in his arms. They nearly kissed and it’s Kuesu’s turn to interrupt their acting as the ladies spew catty words before the rest catch up. I know, they want a piece of him too.

The girls train Yuuto in episode 11 but they are nowhere nearer in getting him to use his Light Ferry powers. I guess Tama is feeling hungry and the time is ripe so a barrier is unleashed around the city and its citizens vanished. Good that no one will get hurt but why go through all that trouble just to draw them out? Yuuto and the girls head into the battlefield and though all of them (okay, so non-combatants like Liz and Rinko are told to keep away and Kaya is tasked with protecting them) team up against Tama, they never come close to scratching her. Kaburagi is observing from afar and his plans going well but as we are made know, Shuten Douji is never going to live up to his promise made to him. Sasa suffers bite damage from Tama. Yuuto tries to help out but is weak so much so Tama got him in her grasp. Yuuto is suffocating and Himari’s anger almost took over if not for Yuuto pleading her not to. Tama withdraws seeing that Himari hasn’t ripened yet. The rest also retreat and take refuge in Noihara village. Yuuto starts going through all the dusty books to see if they’re any ways to unlock his power though Shizuku says she had already gone through all of them and could find nothing. Himari talks to Rinko and tells her Yuuto isn’t suited for battle so if something happens to her, she wants Rinko to look after Yuuto. Kuesu gets a ‘warning’ call from Kaburagi that this is her last chance to come over to his side though he considers the path he took as the most peaceful one. She also tells her to get out of this place soon since his ‘associates’ are moving in. Too late. They’re here. Himari’s wandering has her meeting them at the lake and in no time, they start battling. Himari is still considerably weak as Shuten Douji mocks her about protecting Yuuto. Himari, in a dream-like state, sees Yuuto in front of her and apologizes. She wants to protect him no matter what because of his smile that has kept her here. This means, she is reverting to her dark side and this is what Shuten Douji is waiting for.

Himari’s hair not only turns white but her skin now has markings in episode 12. She battles hungry Tama like a heartless killing machine as the rest arrive but there isn’t anything much they can do. Shuten Douji mocks Himari and the rest and for the first time though Rinko has never lent her powers in battle, she stood up and tells him off that he doesn’t know a single thing about Himari and the bond they have. In short, don’t underestimate the heart of a woman! Tama has turned into her true form, a giant nine tail demon fox and already has Himari in her grasps. She is going to deliver the final blow but the words of Himari’s pal managed to reach her as she revives and beat Tama. As the gang rush to greet her, unfortunately Himari doesn’t recognize them and attacks them all. Shuten Douji is unhappy that his plans for his own revival to exact revenge on human has been set back but nevertheless would settle for Himari doing the job. Kaburagi is another unhappy man that this wasn’t part of the deal so Shuten Douji just blasts the nuisance away. Yuuto still have enough strength to confront Himari as he picks up the sword to stop her. Flashbacks of the time he spent with Himari and that’s when he realized what she meant that Himari will be the first Ayakashi he will kill as a Demon Slayer. Himari charges straight but Yuuto drops his sword and embraces her instead. He can’t kill her. He whispers in her ear that he needs her in his future (his harem I guess?). That was enough to snap Himari out and return her back to normal.

But it’s not over yet seeing Shuten Douji is going to crush them and transforms into his true form, a giant ogre. Yuuto picks up the sword once more as his Light Ferry is instilled in it. As explained, his heart’s powerful desire to protect the one he loves must have given him the power to use the Light Ferry freely. He gives the sword to Himari and I guess her clothes transformation comes with its power. Hmm… Why do I get a feeling her clothes feels more fanservice cosplay? It doesn’t take a genius to tell who will win the match. I don’t know if that will be the end of Shuten Douji for good because Yasutsuna slashed him in half! At the end of the day, Yuuto thinks of going back to his normal life with everyone but Himari can’t. Since Yuuto is now the Demon Slayer he is, her bodyguard role is redundant. Kuesu takes this chance to get close to him and wants him to fix her clothes with his Light Ferry. Unfortunately, he can’t use it. Haha, so it was just temporary, eh? Everyone gathers back at Yuuto’s place and man this is what I call a massive harem! I know Kaya is there because of Himari (continuing to be his bodyguard or rather her twisted reason that Yuuto desires her to stay) but why the heck is Tama there too?! Ah, new loli addition since she has nowhere to go. Hey, I don’t see Yuki around. Sae, Iinchou and Taizou come by since they were worried they couldn’t contact Yuuto during that citywide-disappearing incident. Then they see the bunch of girls there and well… They think he must have been having fun all by himself and can’t be disturbed. Well, do you want to be part of the harem too?

And so it ends another one of those over-cliche fanservice harem animes. At the rate Yuuto is going, he is really going to amass a bunch of girls in his unofficial harem from both sides, humans and Ayakashis. If Sae and Iinchou ever do join in, he literally has a complete list of all the possible desirable attributes of a harem. A childhood friend, a couple of lolis, a maid, a nekomimi, a lustful one, a fiancee and the possible megane teacher and class rep. Varied bust sizes also included. Haha! Since the manga is ongoing, my guess is that Yuuto may meet more of the other Demon Slayer clans and yeah, more girls. It’s so typical of such guys not to choose which girl he really wants to end up with so I guess it’s best for everyone to be together like this first. Hey, the more the merrier! I wonder how Yuuto can cope with all the girls now. Don’t worry, Shizuku is there to take care of the house chores and still excels in them. The fanservice is so cliche that I thought they would run out of ‘ideas’ when they cramp every cliche fanservice ideas into the initial episodes like the beach episode, tentacles, boobs pressing against guy’s body, boobs grab, boobs show off, kissing scene, etc. But I guess that’s why they put it all there since halfway they decided to really put in a plot instead of letting it run around with 100% mindless fanservice. With the emergence of Tama and Shuten Douji, there wasn’t enough screen time for the girls to strut their usual fanservice stuff. Well, not as heavy as before.

More fanservice speak, each of the mid-intermission shows the girls of the series fully clothed and in a pose for the first half. Come the second half, that girl will be semi-naked. Sexy, no? Don’t worry, each of the main and supporting girls will have their turn and for the final episode we have the main quintet donning sexy cat outfits. I don’t know if this series is famous enough because as I see the next episode preview which is in live-action footage, a girl in cat maid outfit introduces to us viewers to the many merchandise of the show from t-shirts to posters. That’s a hell lot of them. And we have different picture designs of the series printed on t-shirts as seen on the sponsor screen. Coming back to the next episode preview, I guess it’s another one of those wacky corners usually hosted by Shizuku and Rinko concerning about their next appearance, other characters or fanservice stuff. The animation here is in chibi and sketchy form.

While fanservice too is smattered in the opening credits, the opening theme sounds like a typical anime pop, entitled Oshichau Zo!! by AyaRuka. The ending credits animation sees the main quintet of girls in chibi form and doing some sort of performance. Wearing cat ears, having a microphone in one hand and a cat paw in the other as they go about singing. Cute or what? The main ending theme Beam My Beam is sung by the seiyuus of the quintet girls (even had a name combo: Himarinko L. Shizukuesu) but I noticed that the later half of the episodes, each of the girls have their turn singing the song. The special ending song for the final episode, Sakamichi No Hate by Daisuke Hirakawa sounds a little unsuitable. A slow male ballad at the end? No doubt the ending scene then showed the flashback of how Yuuto moved into his current house with his late parents and the other events that passed by like his parents’ demise and the meeting point of all the other girls, I felt it should have a livelier tone since everything ended on a happy note.

Enough of the fanservice talk. Now about the characters. What is there more to say? Character development? For Yuuto, I’m pretty sure a ‘seasoned’ person like me could have tell that his kind-heartedness and generosity will be there right till the very end. Overall he is still the same kid otherwise with or without the Ayakashis in his life. Has he grown immune to his cat allergies? I don’t know. He doesn’t seem to show them when he confronted insane Himari in the last episode. Maybe that’s not important. He doesn’t care about all that Demon Slayer clan crap because it doesn’t matter what kind of form you are as long as you want to live a peaceful coexisting life, Yuuto will definitely welcome you. Sometimes the true demons are humans themselves. And for the other girls? Well, seems to me Rinko has learned to be more tolerant with the more girls popping up around Yuuto. Ah Rinko, it’s really getting tough at this point if you don’t make the first move. Kuesu isn’t such a b*tch if she’d just stop thinking about returning her family pride. Liz, I felt she was like a deadweight and didn’t do much and was just tagging along. Come to think of it, I have a theory why Himari is flirty around Yuuto. She’s a cat, right? And you know how cats behave to the ones they love by getting physical and rubbing their skin, right? So in this sense Himari’s act of affection was more because of a cat rather than a slutty bodyguard. Of course the occasional jealousy but that’s natural if she’s going to take a form of a busty female. And I had to come back to fanservice talk eventually…

When I first heard Himari, I thought she was a reincarnated version of Spice And Wolf’s Horo! True that Ami Koshimizu is the voice behind Himari but the way she uses the old Japanese way of expression during her speeches is somewhat similar. From a cheeky wolf to a horny cat, eh? If she had added ‘tawake’ (fool), that would’ve been the confirming point. However I find Daisuke Hirakawa voicing Yuuto to be unsuitable. His lower voice seems to be too mature for a character like Yuuto and I thought it would’ve been suitable if a female takes up this role or at least a male with a little higher pitch. He was the voice of Makoto in School Days and Naoki in Itazura Na Kiss. I know I have been listening to the various other voices of Rie Kugimiya so I was a little paranoid that I thought she was behind Kuesu. To my relief (really?), Kuesu is voiced by Yuki Matsuoka (Yuu in Princess Lover and Orihime in Bleach). Other casts include Iori Nomizu as Rinko (Nymph in Sora No Otoshimono), Asuka Okame as Liz (Mikazuki in the TV version of KissxSis), Kei Shindou as Shizuku (Kuro in Kodomo No Jikan), Chiaki Takahashi as Ageha (Emiho in Final Approach), Kaoru Mizuhara as Tama (Saki in Kanamemo), Masami Kikuchi as Shuten Douji (Tenchi in the Tenchi Muyo series) and Keiji Fujiwara as Kaburagi (Sven in Black Cat).

I guess with Himari around now, Yuuto won’t be needing the charm anymore. Who needs an ineffective little ornament when you can have a sexy sword-wielding bodyguard by your side. So next time if you hear something strange in your neighbourhood, you know who to call for ghost busting activities. All it takes is just a guy with latent powers and a bevy of babes. Behold! The power of love! Maybe I should try that sometimes with my harem of 2D girls… :p.

Omamori Himari

In order to understand better, communication is vital. Misconstruing and misinterpreting words and sentences can be detrimental, life and death. That’s why all of us are bequeathed with a voice to speak and a mouth to channel it out. And so I noticed that there are some anime characters who communicate with others without using their mouths. How do they do it? Sign language and the likes of course. If you were like this, your strict father may have told you off if you are having gold in your mouth! Is it that hard to just speak normally? Well, there are always 2 sides of a coin. Though some of the characters have voices and the ability to speak, there are reasons why they can’t. In a way, it makes the job of the seiyuu much easier, don’t you think? Less lines to remember. So listed below are the anime characters who communicate without speaking that I know of:

Genma Saotome (Ranma 1/2)
Genma Saotome

Form of communication: Signboards.
Why can’t speak: Pandas can’t talk, duh…
When speak: Whenever he transforms back into his original human form.
Seiyuu: Kenichi Ogata.

Megumi Yamamoto (Special A)
Megumi Yamamoto

Form of communication: Sketchbook.
Why can’t speak: To protect her beautiful singing voice that she reserves for (oh, pulease…).
When speak: Besides singing, the first time we hear her spout out actual words was when she had to lie to Jun and Ryuu that she is going out with Yahiro.
Seiyuu: Ayahi Takagaki.

Meru Otonashi (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei)
Meru Otonashi

Form of communication: Handphone.
Why can’t speak: Apart from her name play which literally means ‘no sound’ (otonashi), she is very shy and communicates via her handphone text and SMS (‘meru’ as in mail).
When speak: There was an episode whereby her dad held auditions for people to dub her voice in real time! And another episode whereby it’s an apartment lady knows everything about the universe that has the impossible possible like Meru talking.
Seiyuu: Each episode has a random character voicing her (probably for the huffing and squeaking sounds) but Chiwa Saito was credited in the episode on Meru’s brief talking.

Suzuho Hasegawa (Macademi Wasshoi)
Suzuho Hasegawa

Form of communication: Sketchbook.
Why can’t speak: Because she is so shy.
When speak: Every time she transforms into her alter ego. That means a total opposite change in character as well.
Seiyuu: Ui Miyazaki.

Daimaru Sumiyoshi (Excel Saga)
Daimaru Sumiyoshi

Form of communication: Text and words appearing and floating across the screen.
Why can’t speak: It’s supposed to be his unique characteristic as a character in the show.
When speak: Never. Though ironically he is the ‘voice of reasoning’ among his colleagues in the Department of City Justice. And ironically enough too, he is the butt of jokes among his peers.
Seiyuu: Nil.

Kuchinashi (Needless)
Kuchinashi

Form of communication: Sketchbook.
Why can’t speak: The only reason I can think of is because her name literally means ‘no mouth’ or more appropriately ‘no voice’.
When speak: The only time she ever said a proper word and shocked everyone was unleashing her Fragment ability called Lilith Temptation. I guess she needs to say its name out or else that ultimate fragrance attack will never work. Haha.
Seiyuu: Minori Chihara.

Celty Sturlson (Durarara!!)
Celty Sturlson

Form of communication: PDA.
Why can’t speak: She has no head, so how can she have a mouth to speak?
When speak: Because it will be a real pain to every time read her typing, it is much easier and convenient to give her a ‘voice’ and ‘narrate’ them like as though she’s having a conversation. And since some of the characters know her pretty well, they can actually guess what she’s going to say like as though they’re really talking to her. Pretty ironic too, eh?
Seiyuu: Miyuki Sawashiro.

Elizabeth (Gintama)
Elizabeth

Form of communication: Signboards.
Why can’t speak: Heck, we don’t even know what kind of species this is (is it a duck or penguin?), how do we even know what kind of sound it makes?
When speak: As part of the parody and humour of the series, those familiar with the series will know that some old guy who is supposed to be the director of the series. Whenever he ‘comes out’ of the ‘suit’, it’s usually some rebuttal, joke or warning. For the record, Elizabeth’s first speech via that old geezer was during the Benizakura arc.
Seiyuu: Probably Shinji Takamatsu the director himself.

Shion Yasuoka (Shion No Ou)
Shion Yasuoka

Form of communication: Notepad.
Why can’t speak: Greatly traumatized after witnessing the death of her parents right in front of her eyes.
When speak: In the final episode whereby she won the shogi game and got her voice back to tell Hani that she is her family and friend.
Seiyuu: Ayako Kawasumi.

Kukuri Tachibana (11eyes)
Kukuri Tachibana

Form of communication: Sketchbook.
Why can’t speak: After a failed experiment that took the life of her brother in an alternate world, she went berserk and destroyed a facility doing experiments on children with special abilities. Not wanting to remember her painful past, she sealed off her powers and has no memories prior to the first 13 years of her life. This also results in her losing her voice.
When speak: I didn’t see this anime really so I don’t know if she ever opened her mouth to say any words. But she has a seiyuu who voiced her so that means… Unless they’re just weak sounds… Can somebody enlighten me about this? Edit: In episode 11 when she is about to face off with Liselotte.
Seiyuu: Noriko Rikimaru.

Silence Is Golden…
This list is not meant to be definitive as there may be other such anime characters that I have yet discover. Probably they haven’t speak out, the reason why I can’t ‘hear’ them. Haha! Just kidding. Whether these said anime characters communicate effectively is another matter. Due to their reasons, we should respect that this is their most comfortable and feasible way to communicate with the rest of the world. Environmental-wise, it may be not a good thing if the environmentalists find out that they ‘wasted’ lots of paper or cut down lots of trees to make wooden signboards just to convene what they want to say. For the ones using electronic devices, maybe they have to keep up with the constant changes in technology to do so. I think I have said this before some time long ago in my blog and I will say it again. Just because one doesn’t talk very much, doesn’t mean he/she has nothing to say at all.