Kiddy Girl -and

November 28, 2010

Honestly I didn’t watch the original Kiddy Grade TV series when I decided to jump straight into its spin-off sequel Kiddy Girl -and. Hey, it’s a spin-off sequel and not a direct sequel so how bad can it be, right? Yeah, right. It would be better if one watches the said prequel first because there will be some characters of the former series featured here. Other than that, if you like sci-fi action adventure with lots of futuristic stuff and good looking people (not forgetting the comedy part), than this is definitely your cup of tea. Or coffee. Or pumpkin pudding.

Set 25 years after the events of the prequel whereby heroines Eclair and Lumiere ‘sacrificed’ themselves to prevent the entire galaxy from destruction. Apparently the galaxy is wide and endless so it really boggles my mind that an event like this could even occur given that only God can make such things happen. Oh wait, this isn’t a religiously themed anime either. The organization in the former, GOTT (Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs), has been replaced and renamed with GTO (Galactic Trade Organization). Hey, is there any difference? Depends on the people at the top as always. As usual, we have a new pair of heroines. First, the pink haired Ascoeur who is the typical annoying airhead and blockhead. Reckless, naive, simple and childish at times. Need I say more? Of course what makes her a heroine is her fighting abilities and you know those sense of justice and friendship that all heroes should have. On the total opposite of Ascoeur is Q-feuille, her partner-cum-roommate-cum-friend. Serious, level-headed and intelligent, Q-feuille has very good memory and most of the time has to ‘correct’ or be the rational one among the duo. It’s like a manzai comedy combo. Only set in the future. Well, like they say, opposite attracts. Both girls work as part time waitresses at a cafe in GTO HQ called Touch N Go, run by the masculine-looking chief, Mi Nourouse AKA Minou. Note how her costume changes in nearly every episode. Thus this is the story of Ascoeur and Q-feuille as they work hard to become full ES Members. Sounds easy? Not.

Like in episode 1, we are introduced to them and other characters like Belle and Alisa, friends of the heroine duo and frequent patron of Touch N Go. Ascoeur and Minou are in an argument about wearing bloomers. Too bad they have to cut short their antics when the cafe is under attack by terrorists. They are targeting GTO’s director Hiver and her assistant Sommer who are at the cafe at that time. Even if we want to write off Ascoeur as a dumb heroine, we can’t because she shows us her superb fighting skills via her multi-purpose comb. Those terrorists in full body armour should be ashamed of themselves, losing to a girl in maid outfit. Don’t mess with this action girl. Of course with a little assistance from Q-feuille and her choco bombs, the terrorists are knocked out but the last one made a desperate move by unleashing a robot dragon beast. As it goes berserk and wrecks havoc throughout the entire building, Ascoeur hangs on to it for dear life. It’s going to be the ride of her life. I don’t know why she’s so conscious that she’s not wearing anything underneath her skirt. I know she should, but now? In the end, she cuts it in half (man, her comb is better than any light sabre!) and reinforcements take care of the rest. No doubt Ascoeur and Q-feuille get reprimanded from Hiver for the massive destruction, permanent ES Members, Trixie and Troisienne (pronounced troa-jane) see great promise in them.

In episode 2, Ascoeur works hard at Touch N Go so that she can savour her favourite pumpkin pudding dessert. But before she could dig in, Q-feuille accidentally sneezes and causes it to spill. Feeling a little guilty, she decides to help Ascoeur to sneak into Touch N Go to get her deserved pudding. Expect all the crazy security system traps set by ES Member Tweedledee. I don’t know if it’s called good luck or bad luck seeing each time they bump into them all and each time managing to barely get out. Even some traps are totally weird. Crossing a bridge that resembles like a fat man? Only thing is the man is so slippery that it felt like some sexual innuendo when the girls try to cross (or rather body slide) over it. Then there’s one whereby chibi mini-Tweedledee dolls stuck themselves on the duo and Ascoeur is having so much fun that she doesn’t mind making it look like an afro. Though Q-feuille ‘sacrifices’ herself so Ascoeur could go get her pudding, she eventually fell down a pit. And I don’t know how long they take to climb up the stairs but when it’s done, it’s morning and all the puddings are finished. Boo hoo! Hey, why can’t Ascoeur use her teleporting skill? Maybe she isn’t that pro yet.

Ascoeur and Q-feuille had an argument in episode 3 which puts a serious blow to their friendship. It all started because Ascoeur wants to be so much like Troisienne and is so annoying that you want to strangle her. Then the final straw came when Ascoeur disrespected a magical wand of a famous magical girl franchise that Q-feuille loved so much. Belle and Alisa try to patch them up but ended up being tired out and nothing much improved. Ascoeur and Q-feuille are demoted to doing a receptionist job and they’re still not on talking terms. Till an injured guy came by to request their help for a life-and-death task. He has to hand some draft to a certain person before a looming deadline or else his entire planet is finished! Seeing how grave the situation is, both girls are smart enough to put aside their petty differences and combine their skills to bring the draft to the correct person. Well, the office is such a big place and there are several people of the same name. Just in time. And it’s about time that both girls reconcile and glad that they’re each other’s partner. In the end, they find that the magical wand belongs to Troisienne and she’s also a fan of that magical girl. While Ascoeur is dumbfounded, I guess it’s Q-feuille’s turn to click with Troisienne. And they’re getting along pretty well.

Hiver calls Ascoeur and Q-feuille to her office in episode 4 and it’s not a dream because the duo will be getting their first official mission: To babysit a loli, Di-air. What were they expecting? Cool outer space fights? I find the little blonde loli to be a little annoying. Sure, she’s pretty cute and cheerful but it really gets to you after awhile when she starts repeating end sentences of other people. Seems like a pretty easy mission as they make friends with her. As they take her outside GTO building, they are being attacked by a pair of female assassins, the beast transforming Rubis and ice specialist Saphir, believed to be from the same group of terrorists that attacked Hiver back in the first episode. They thought they were after Di-air but their target is Ascoeur and Q-feuille themselves. The heroines struggle with their limited powers against the antagonist. Till Di-air kisses Ascoeur and powers her up! Now she has more advanced teleportation skills. Rubis and Saphir are forced to retreat when GTO reinforcements arrive. When Ascoeur and Q-feuille report back to Hiver, she decides to continue leaving Di-air in their care. Simply because, she’s also an ES Member candidate like them.

As Di-air is part of Ascoeur and Q-feuille team, in episode 5, the trio are given yet another mission to investigate an old GOTT building. Rumours have it that it is haunted. Oh no. Q-feuille isn’t good at ghost stories, is she? Though she tries to put up a tough front. Scaredy cat. It gets worse when the airheads run off leaving Q-feuille alone and afraid. Very afraid. She goes through lots of traumatic and screaming creepy experiences till she finally meets the real Ascoeur (there was some shape shifting creature pretending to be her pals). Walking through the dark hallways, they enter a lab that houses past ES Members. Then they see ghosts of what is believed to be spirits of 2 of those deceased ES Members. When Di-air finally appears (looking like she had lots of fun, eh?), they are suddenly attacked by a shape shifting mechanical creature believed to be a Genetech Beast. Its attack and reflex is fast so our heroines have a tough time containing it. Eventually Di-air kisses Ascoeur and Q-feuille to power them up as they subdue the beast. Q-feuille realizes that Di-air’s kiss that turned the Genetech Beast into its much powerful form. So it turns into a harmless green little creature named Tama that Di-air will sling around herself as a pouch from now on (I can’t believe Norio Wakamoto has been reduced to a character that says nothing but “Nyuu~!”). Hmm… I’m beginning to feel that Di-air’s kiss is like a ‘refuelling’ station that powers up people. If she does this too many times, I’m going to think that this show will be turning into a yuri series.

The trio smell something fishy going on in Hiver’s office in episode 6. Due to Ascoeur’s bungling teleportation, they see Hiver and Sommer closer than usual! Scandalous! Were they 2 that close to each other and Sommer seems to be the dominating one. Then at one point, Hiver is without her clothes! So when the girls finally confront them, smooth Sommer tells them that he was just trying to teach her magic tricks for the Christmas party. The girls leave and though Q-feuille still having doubts. So do we. Is it really magic tricks or are they really into it? In the second part, yaoi fan Alisa takes Belle, Di-air, Ascoeur and Q-feuille to a male seiyuu cafe filled with male bishonen serving them. Yes, it’s one of her sick fetishes and fantasies. The males are trying to outdo each other of being number one so when jealous Tama accidentally kisses Di-air, he too turns into a bishonen himself! Though he can only say “Nyuu~”. The jealous guys conspire with each other to bring the new guy down by poisoning him but it backfires when Tama goes berserk causing the entire building to be destroyed before Tama reverts back to its little blob self. Was it all worth it?

Trixie and Troisienne take the trio on a mission in episode 7 to infiltrate an illegal weapons manufacturing plant believed to be supplying arms to G Society who are recently attacking GTO. They split into 2 teams and are successful in taking them down but the appearance of G Society’s Shadow Workers, illusionist Torch and fear-implanting-illusions Shade. Torch attacks Trixie and Ascoeur while Shade tries to stall Troisienne, Q-feuille and Di-air from escaping the plant so that the explosions could take them out. But Ascoeur and Q-feuille did not give up and use the best of their abilities to their limits to have everyone escape in the nick of time. That means Torch and Shade also escape.

While GTO are making preparations for their upcoming 25th anniversary celebrations in episode 8, G Society are having their own ceremony of declaring their own independence. Led by the mysterious man in white, Lord Geacht’er, we are also introduced to the other Shadow Workers other than Shade and Torch. They are Saphir and Rubis and a pair of creepy looking kids Pauki and Letuchaia (with annoying multiplication in every of her sentences). We learn the people of G Society are descendents of Nouvelesse from planet Earth and their noble status has been overthrown by commoners and they are seeking revenge to bring down GTO and its ES Members whom they feel are responsible for it all. Everyone worships Geacht’er like God but an old geezer isn’t happy about their progress up till now. Of course he’s so old that he could die anytime before he could see any real achievement so he did the unthinkable by chiding Geacht’er in front of everyone about his incompetence. I guess it’s a lesson for everyone to learn to keep their mouth shut before their leader because Geacht’er plants a red rose on him and the next thing he knows, the old geezer dies as his blood keeps oozing out from his body. That’s a hell lot of a blood for an old guy. Scary…

The GTO 25th anniversary begins in episode 9 but is interrupted when G Society infiltrates it. A large hologram image of Geacht’er is projected as he mind controls the GTO guards to start attacking randomly. G Society uses this chance to blame GTO for harming innocent civilians as G Society unleashes their own soldiers to ‘quell’ the violence. Ascoeur and Q-feuille are tasked to evacuate the people but do you think they want to be left out of the action? The ES Members that include Tweedledee, her brother Tweedledum, Un-ou (possessing amazing hearing abilities), A-ou (possessing amazing visual and sight abilities), Trixie and Troisienne. They face off with the Shadow Workers in a fierce battle. Ascoeur and Q-feuille go help their comrades but Tweedledum and Un-ou got injured during the attack. Geacht’er finishes Trixie and Troisienne off by planting red roses on them. Next thing they know, they’re laying in their own pool of blood. Before the duo die, they plead to Ascoeur and Q-feuille to protect the future of the galaxy. Entrusting the entire galaxy to a couple of apprentices? That’s got to be heavy responsibility.

Ascoeur and Q-feuille continue to be depressed in episode 10 since the duo ES Members that they look up to really died. Di-air is still the energetic and positive girl determined to be a true blue ES Member and though it’s good to have such qualities in such times, I’m not sure if she’s being insensitive. A-ou and Tweedledum are being treated and at the same time GTO and its ES Members have been suspended. Since Ascoeur and Q-feuille aren’t full ES Members, this loop hole gives them the freedom to do anything else. As Di-air wanders outside GTO building, she spots several G Society spies. They start attacking and luckily Ascoeur and Q-feuille arrive in time to save her or else Tama would’ve been at its limits trying to protect Di-air. The spies set upon them their own Genetech Beasts and when Di-air’s life is in danger, it seems Ascoeur and Q-feuille find themselves being able to use the respective abilities of Trixie and Troisienne, that is to control space and time respectively. The enemies retreat. In the aftermath, the duo talk about their newfound powers and they resolve to be full ES Members. Then the trio are called to Hiver’s office as they are presented with their own robot and ship, Typhon and Mistral. Yeah, they are now warrant ES Members.

Letuchaia and Pauki are visiting their hospitalized grandma in episode 11. Grandma is able to get special treatment thanks to their special status and Letuchaia as Geacht’er’s sister (though not really blood related). Letuchaia proudly tells her beloved grandma how dear Geacht’er assigned them to spy in the other Shadow Workers via a maid, Koa. We also see the personal lives of the other Shadow Workers like Rubis a messy eater, Saphir a messy room, Torch a womanizer and Shade his faithful partner and the duo once part of the police force before defecting to G Society. As Letuchaia happily sends her report to Geacht’er, unknown to her, Geacht’er has also ordered the same task to Saphir and Shade into spying among themselves. Hmm… This guy has a much deeper ulterior motive than his pretty face could tell. Meanwhile Sommer informs the gang that G Society is trying to replace GTO by implanting its members in high positions within the organization and also having high ranking allies. They need to trio to fight against G Society but they need to know a little history about the time frozen space incident.

History lesson begins in episode 12 as Hiver and Sommer explain the planet that contained a powerful energy ore that could destroy the entire galaxy. Wait a minute. I’ve said that earlier on, didn’t I? 25 years ago, crazy Geacht’er tried to ignite it but only with the sacrifice of Eclair and Lumiere prevented that from happening. Oh, I’ve said that too. Because of their space bending and time stopping abilities, the explosion is prevented by the after effect is that both Eclair and Lumiere are trapped in it like suspended animation till today. A-ou takes the trio there as they further learn that anyone who tries to get close to it are also caught and gets frozen. Though there is an opportunity to do so once every 3 years. Though that time again is near, but that chance has withered with the deaths of Trixie and Troisienne whose powers are instrumental for that. Reaching at a nearby abandoned station, the girls meet an elderly man named Che sending wreaths in memory of his mother, Eclair. I felt something weird about the short flashback he told when Eclair left for her final mission. When Che was a young lad, Eclair looked young enough to be his girlfriend! I don’t know, it’s maybe because I didn’t watch the prequel. Che wonders if he can see her again so the girls vow to protect everyone.

The trio warrant ES Members are being given a mission to a resort planet that only allows females in episode 13. Seems GTO is still relevant as the higher ups push difficult cases to them. Seems like female heaven with everything you dream and desire served at your fingertips. It’s good being a woman here. Not to mention the fanservice. However due to a security bug, the ladies are trapped on this island and are not allowed to leave. Yeah, probably that’s why they even let Typhon in even if the robot looks ugly in a bikini! Anyway that’s where the trio come in. But they still can’t resist having fun, eh? Hey, Belle and Alisa are there too. After learning that a heavily guarded control centre controls all the robots, the heroines go into action. So much about sneaking it quietly. Thankfully Typhon keeps the security at bay as the girls head deeper underground. They see a woman, supposedly from the previous failed rescue attempt trying to restore the system by herself. I wonder how long she has been doing this. Didn’t the robot security detect her? As they try help to stop the system, Ascoeur and Di-air accidentally destroyed the system causing everything to go berserk. The entire resort island plunge into chaos as our girls along with their robot and ship cooperate to put a stop to the menace and save the rest. When they save Alisa and Belle, it then dawned to them that Ascoeur and Q-feuille are ES Members. When everything returns to normal, they leave the planet. Wasn’t that holiday refreshing?

Q-feuille thinks she is starting to forget her memories in episode 14 so she enters the database to search for her memories and past. She learns that the former GTO director, Eclipse made her 7 years ago (yes, Q-feuille is younger than she looks) though it cost her life. So a flashback from Q-feuille on how she first met Ascoeur. Without a partner at first but being ‘loaned’ to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, she bumps into Ascoeur on the streets of a planet she’s supposed to investigate for oppression of the military police led by Bronco. Because Ascoeur had the ability to teleport, Q-feuille handcuffed them together. They’re stuck together for 5 hours and I guess you could say that’s where their bond started. Okay, it may be a problem if you want to go to the toilet… As they escape from the military police, they soon discover that Bronco isn’t chasing after Ascoeur but Q-feuille. Then they confront him at a building and the cruel bastard has killed all the bureaucrats (though they’re corrupted anyway). He is going to detonate the city but with the cooperation of the duo along with Tweedledee and Tweedledum, they manage to get the detonator away from Bronco and diffuse the bomb. As their handcuff comes off, they feel that they suit each other as partners since they were able to resonate with each other during the fight. As Q-feuille now remembers her past, Di-air and Ascoeur come to fetch her and report the good news that Tweedledum and Un-ou have recovered.

Episode 15 suddenly becomes a high school comedy with Ascoeur running late for school. A filler episode? Yeah, many of the cast are students and Tama as the principal is truly weird. Green head? Anyway the trio ES Members are in the drama club and are supposed to do a Snow White play under the guidance of their senpai Trixie and Troisienne before they graduate. Q-feuille is jittery since she doesn’t want her first kiss to go to a girl. Wait a minute. Didn’t Di-air steal their first kisses already? I guess they’ve got lots to do especially their wooden acting and every time they screw up at the kissing scene. With lots of practice and perseverance, they manage to pull it off. And yeah, all this is revealed to be a dream of Ascoeur. It’s partly because Shade is trying to search through Ascoeur’s mind (other weird dreams include magical girl and Harry Potter parody). As Ascoeur pays a visit to Trixie and Troisienne’s grave, she is surprised to see Geacht’er. She tries to attack him but all her attacks went through like he’s some sort of hologram. Geacht’er reveals that Ascoeur’s real name is Lise-lotte and is his sister. Not that she remembers anyway. As prove, they both have the Rosenburg birthmark on their body. Plus, Geacht’er’s real name is Alfred. Though Ascoeur doesn’t believe him, she has a series of faint flashbacks. She thinks they might be false memories. Geacht’er goes on saying of his time stopping ability and their powers make them compatible with each other bla bla bla. Ascoeur still doesn’t believe him and continues her futile attack. When Q-feuille and Di-air come looking for her, Geacht’er withdraws but will be back since he is giving her time to say farewell.

The gang receives a distress signal from Saphir in episode 16. Seems she is defecting after being fed-up of Geacht’er’s ways (not paying enough attention to her?) and being chased by Rubis. They think it may be a trap but circumstantial evidence proves she is telling the truth. The trio are to pick her up stranded on an ice planet. Saphir manages to beat Rubis and the girls take refuge in the base as they wait for night fall since the colder temperature will have Rubis less mobility and that’s when they’ll make their escape. Over a meal, Saphir is willing to disclose confidential information about G Society when Ascoeur notices the room’s temperature dropping. It is actually a trap from Saphir to put them to sleep. Oh I should’ve known that all this is a plot from the cruel ice queen with a heart of ice. Well actually Geacht’er wants Saphir to bring his sister to him so the best way she could make it look real is by not telling Rubis too. Plus, this base’s staff were all killed and replaced by G Society’s soldiers. Q-feuille powers up courtesy from Di-air’s kiss and time freezes Saphir. At that moment, Ascoeur also powers up but is still no match for Rubis. Then it’s Tama turn to power up but he too can’t do much. Already having her hands full with Saphir, Q-feuille freezes Rubis to order Tama to whisk Di-air and Ascoeur away. In the aftermath, Ascoeur wakes up in a hospital room at GTO while Q-feuille in a white room.

Q-feuille is in G Society’s base, Erde Meteor in episode 17. After she collapsed back then, Saphir and Rubis took her back instead. Seems Q-feuille really has amnesia and also her abilities suppressed due to some sedation as the Shadow Workers make acquaintance with her. Rubis and Saphir tell their sad past how they were assassins for the government 50 years ago. But when the Nouvelesse was overthrown, the duo were imprisoned and tortured into obedience. But Geacht’er appeared and saved them and ever since they’re loyal to him. Though Q-feuille has no further memories of herself, she can’t help think of the Ascoeur name in her head. So much so she writes that name on her bedroom mirror with a lipstick. Meanwhile depressed Ascoeur is trying to cover for Q-feuille’s absence at Touch N Go. Next morning, Shade who was being ordered by Geacht’er, brainwashes Q-feuille into thinking that she is Geacht’er’s little sister so she instantly forgets the name Ascoeur.

GTO has been disbanded in episode 18 so Hiver and Sommer are to be re-assigned elsewhere. Ascoeur wants to go save Q-feuille but Hiver and Sommer stops her because she is G Society’s target. But she doesn’t care about that. As much as she and Di-air try to sneak out, Hiver and Sommer put a brake to her plan. Meanwhile Letuchaia is having the case of jealous sister because with Q-feuille being the new annoying genki little sister to Geacht’er, Letuchaia has been demoted to… Let’s just say it’s something less than his sister. An ordinary Shadow Worker. She has to hold it in because Geacht’er said so. Grrr… But Letuchaia decides to do petty pranks on Q-feuille but it backfires. All of them. The day is just getting worse, isn’t it? Ascoeur is made to sit in the database room as she learns more about Q-feuille. Like she is the same age with Di-air, part of some duplication programme to clone ES Members after the time frozen space incident, etc. Realizing Q-feuille was lonely for a long time, thus her reason why she wanted to save her and was glad to be her partner. If they truly share a deep bond, their resonance would definitely have them meet again one day. Suddenly the building outside goes boom. It is Torch, Shade and Q-feuille as they come face to face with Ascoeur.

Ascoeur and Di-air are trying their best to have Q-feuille remember who they are in episode 19 but each time she does, the butterfly hairpin on her head causes Q-feuille to forget them. After they both pulled each other cheeks, they begin to fight seriously. Partners taking out each other? Q-feuille goes all out but Ascoeur doesn’t want to harm her. Q-feuille has frozen Ascoeur but starts crying when she sees her struggling though she doesn’t know why. Before they both could kill each other, Di-air starts glowing and her powers frees Ascoeur and deflects all attacks from Q-feuille. Looks like she can control both space and time and doesn’t only have kissing powers after all. Di-air collapses so Torch and Shade take Q-feuille away and retreat. Back at Erde Meteor, the trio tell Geacht’er what happened. They think those powers belong to Eclipse but it can’t be her since she died so it is possible that her powers may have been transferred. When they leave, Torch tells Shade how he doesn’t like the idea of partners killing each other. A flashback reveals how Torch was supposed to hunt down Shade for being a traitor (more like he found out the head’s assassination purposes for his own petty reasons). In the end, Torch too was betrayed and was subjected to kill each other but they were saved by the appearance of Geacht’er. Though they’re loyal to him, Torch mentions that if he was ordered to betray his partner, he would rather die. Back at GTO, Di-air is resting as Hiver mentions about how she inherited powers from Eclipse but not her memories, thus why she tires out when she used them all up at once. When she wakes up, Ascoeur suggests that they go save Q-feuille together.

Annoying Q-feuille joins Letuchaia and Pauki to visit the latter’s grandma in episode 20. The girls start arguing so it’s really a bad sign when Letuchaia starts crying that they’re both not really sisters of Geacht’er. This of course confuses Q-feuille as she her false memories tells her that she’s Geacht’er’s sister. So when she starts remembering Ascoeur’s words during their fight, it’s that hairpin-amnesia-triggering thingy again. She collapses and wakes up in her own bedroom with some of the Shadow Workers by her side. Ascoeur and Di-air plan to rescue Q-feuille but this time Hiver allows them since she’s no longer in charge and she’s going to do something about the time frozen space. Ascoeur and Di-air warp into enemy territory and is quickly besieged by a rain of missiles. They manage to get into Erde Meteor as Ascoeur starts having snippets of her past. It’s like she’s been to this place before. Inside, they hear the bell and an announcement for the people to evacuate. But they are attacked by Q-feuille and Geacht’er is also there. He is happy that his (real) sister is here though Ascoeur denies and asserts she is Q-feuille’s partner.

Erde Meteor starts warping to the time frozen space in episode 21. Ascoeur tries to convince and make Q-feuille remember who she is but it’s not working. Geacht’er tries to kiss unconscious Ascoeur (does it make him look like a lolicon?) but Di-air’s powers allow them to escape. Q-feuille finds the duo and tries to use her powers to capture her but Di-air keeps neutralizing it. She then got a little sleepy so Tama turns into an armadillo beast to shield her while she rejuvenates. Q-feuille isn’t happy after knowing the Ascoeur is Geacht’er’s sister and before anything could happen, Geacht’er finds them and is going to kiss Ascoeur once more. Is he that desperate? Well, it’s a way to bring back her memories. Via kissing? Ascoeur is struggling so much and in pain so much so the Shadow Workers (except Saphir) start to pity her. Q-feuille starts crying upon seeing that so the Shadow Workers release Ascoeur from her painful struggle though she passes out. Now Geacht’er has her in his arms, he finally kisses her. The memories come rushing back to her.

We see that the Nouvelesse would rather die than following the orders of the commoners and plan a mass suicide. However young Lise-lotte was spared because due to some agreement by her parents, she was taken away to some experimental facility as a test subject. She met Alfred in a prison and though she tried to kill her for coming to ruin his hopes (?!) she promised to always be with him so he realized his crazy act and backed down. Then she kissed him and the reaction caused the entire facility to blow up (huh?). Alfred saw his sister got pinned under the wall and thought she had died when in fact she unknowingly teleported herself into a capsule and escaped to a planet where she lost her memories. That’s when Alfred turned into a crazy sadist and vowed to give back all the pain and despair society has given him. Back in present, Ascoeur has regained her memories, but Q-feuille instinctively attacks Geacht’er so her orders that puppet to be killed. Saphir gladly takes his offer up while the other Shadow Workers felt pity she has been used and now thrown away. But Ascoeur saves her and they both kiss. Finally a yuri scene between them. Not even Geacht’er’s power could stop their resonance. It was so powerful that it blasted them all away. The hairpin breaks so Q-feuille got her memories back and both girls are glad to have each other back.

Ascoeur tires out in episode 22 and Q-feuille is frozen in time. Rubis volunteers to rid of her while the rest head back. However Rubis tells Di-air to take Q-feuille and escape while she destroys the surveillance cameras. Di-air kisses Q-feuille to free her but they’re going to rescue Ascoeur instead. Ascoeur wakes up and finds herself strapped to a chair that connects Erde Meteor’s warp. She can’t teleport away because it will destroy the whole place and its inhabitants. Geacht’er plans to use her power to undo the time frozen space and destroy the entire galaxy except G Society. Because Ascoeur saw how pitiful Letuchaia is that she wants to save her grandma, she decides to stay put. As Geacht’er leave with Torch and Shade, the rest are surprised to see Q-feuille and Di-air coming in. Saphir is upset over Rubis’ betrayal and intends to finish the job herself. Q-feuille’s power comes up tops over sadistic Saphir and Letuchaia. Ascoeur doesn’t want to leave her seat so Letuchaia finally believes that she is sincere in saving her grandma. Then Tweedledee, Tweedledum, An-ou and A-ou appear via Hiver’s gates. Saphir’s ice pierces herself when A-ou deflects it. She escapes and refuses Rubis’ help while the rest try to stop the countdown machine. Tweedledee puts her computing expertise to use but she notices they need a physical key to stop it. Those of the Rosenburg clan can activate it. So happens they have one. Using a strand of Ascoeur’s hair would do? The timer stops 3 seconds before zero but the gang’s relief is short-lived because the timer is fake and just a distraction.

Geacht’er has already started the bomb in episode 23 and only Ascoeur and Q-feuille can stop it. Who else? The trio teleport onto his ship and learn that he doesn’t care about winning or losing but the destruction of the galaxy. Why? They once tried to deny his existence so it’s his turn to do the same. Tit for tat. His flashback reveals how his body was unique. He wasn’t a boy or a girl but also both (confusing, eh?). Because of that, he can’t be the next successor of his Rosenburg family and was sent to that experimental torture hell. His tormentors were pleased because he couldn’t die no matter how much they did and vow to keep him alive. Geacht’er is going to kill that doll Q-feuille but is intercepted by Hiver and Sommer. Though Geacht’er freezes time, Q-feuille’s similar power nullifies it. They manage to seal him. With Hiver’s directions, Ascoeur and Q-feuille head to opposite poles and begin to diffuse the bomb. The duo meet Eclair and Lumiere who has been waiting for them. They click well and successfully diffuse the bomb after using up all their powers. Hiver and Sommer then notice Geacht’er’s body is ship is just an illusion. Realizing another trap, they receive report from Tweedledee that Erde Meteor’s computer has been locked down and beginning to warp. Letuchaia and Pauki lead Tweedledee and Tweedledum to the main computer block while Rubis stays to protect Q-feuille and Di-air. As Ascoeur hurries her way back to Erde Meteor, she is horrified to see Geacht’er approaching Q-feuille. Saphir unleashes her ice powers to kill her but Rubis uses her body to protect her. Tama changes form to protect Di-air as Saphir freezes Rubis. Geacht’er plans to warp and reignite the galaxy bomb planet and collide it with another planet, Aineias, GTO’s home. So the galaxy isn’t safe yet. Mistral crashes into where they are as Ascoeur leaps out calling Q-feuille’s name.

In episode 24, Torch gives Geacht’er his mind that all this is wrong. So Geacht’er orders Shade to kill him. He refuses. Well, this earns Torch a red rose on him. Before he falls off the ship, Shade takes away Geacht’er’s vision and dives down with his partner. Erde Meteor is on the verge of collapsing so Letuchaia leads the way for her people to evacuation and safety. It’s not about pride anymore. However there are cables blocking the evacuation path and Geacht’er is delighted everyone is in despair. Rubis comes to Q-feuille’s rescue once more when Saphir launches another ice attack. Rubis isn’t dead yet thanks to Q-feuille’s time stopping ability then. Q-feuille freezes Saphir in time. While the other ES Members go stop the galaxy bomb planet, Q-feuille and Di-air go help with the evacuation while Ascoeur stays with Geacht’er as her promise to be with him. Everyone manages to evacuate in time before Erde Meteor collapses but this throws Ascoeur and Geacht’er into space. As both siblings huddle close to each other, Ascoeur wonders if his loneliness was the cause of wanting revenge. He asserts he needed nothing else but her. He’s happy as long he’s with her. He says he loves her before he disappears for good (re-entry burning thingy?). They manage 1 last kiss. Ascoeur felt his powers flowing through her as she uses both time and space stopping powers to stop the bomb planet. Di-air kisses Q-feuille so that they could go help Ascoeur. Wow, another kissing scene between Ascoeur and Q-feuille. Is that supposed to be a greeting? Anyway they’re successful in diffusing it. While floating in space, they’re picked up by Minou. So this answers the question. Yup, he’s a cross-dressing guy. In the aftermath, we see Letuchaia and Pauki happily living with their grandma, Rubis hospitalized but Torch and Shade alive? Not sure about that. Che finally sees his mom. Yeah, the son is now older than his mother! A memorial for Alfred and Eclair and Lumiere join GTO and work in the same cafe as the trio. It’s going to get livelier as they fight over pumpkin pudding! POKKYUN!!!

Hooray! The universe once more is safe thanks to a bunch of kids. Why the heck to we need GTO for? Perhaps we need someone to govern the galaxy, eh? I hope those higher ups have learned their lesson. Whether commoners or Nouvelesse, it’s always better to work together and stay united in this big universe. Ah well, corruption and the greed for power is definitely hard to stamp out even in the future. At certain points in the show, I really felt that some of the girls were just annoying. Like Ascoeur and her airheadness, Alisa and her yaoi obsession, Q-feuille when she turned into that onii-chan complex sister, Letuchaia because of her ego and Di-air… Well, it’s just her. Now we have previous heroines Eclair and Lumiere back, the fun has just started, eh?

Ascoeur no doubt remains the same ditzy girl in the end but we can see her relationship with Q-feuille develop and bond further more than just partners. They’re definitely compatible with each other in that sense. Sometimes I feel Di-air tagging along made her role more of a ‘recharger’. I mean, she powers up the rest with her kiss and sometimes covers their behinds whenever they’re in a pinch. It’s hard to hate Geacht’er because of his twisted and tragic past that made him what he is. Eventually it was his sister’s love that he ever wanted. The true villain is Saphir because she is cruel, sadistic and shows no signs of mercy or repentance. Though I can attribute that to her utmost loyalty to Geacht’er, she’s a real scary person whenever she is in a rage. I’m glad she deserved what she got in the end. Even the other Shadow Workers got a change of heart in the end. They’re not mean people like the rest of the people painted them. Just maybe they’ve got their ideals prioritized in the wrong way. The rest of the ES Members felt like supporting characters. Well, that’s because Ascoeur and Q-feuille are the main heroines, right? I think those cameo appearances of a bunch of ES Members in the final episode are from the prequel and they even had the cheek to introduce them at that point! After all it is hinted that Hiver and Sommer were reincarnations of some previous ES Members in the prequel.

I don’t know if I should consider this series to be a yuri series because of the amount of kissing between the girls. Sure, resonating with your partner is important but kissing as a means to transfer power? Maybe the people here as so used to it that they don’t seemed bugged about it. Hey, now come to think of it, it’s kinda true. Just like in Snow White, the prince had to kiss her to awaken her. Then in Sleeping Beauty? Oh yeah, the power of a kiss. It’s more than just love. The drawing and art cater to lots of bishie and bishoujo so you can bet that there are a number of good looking people. Well at least the returning characters from Kiddy Grade are given refreshing looks.

The mid-intermission is my favourite segment in the series. Simply because it is a take-two of still pictures depicting the characters in some very funny act. Not only that, they are drawn in a very simple way so much so they have that ‘crazy face and looks’! Absolutely funny! Whether it’s about pumpkin pudding, having hotdogs stuffed in their mouths, Sommer’s secret caressing on Hiver, Di-air exploding with super powers, Geacht’er covered in smoke, Geacht’er nose bleeding or melting ice cream, each one of them never fails to bring a smile to my face. Make that a roaring laughter. I just wished they had more of this segment.

The opening theme is by the seiyuu of Ascoeur and Q-feuille respectively, Aya Uchida and Aya Gouda entitled Baby Universe Day. Sounds like your typical upbeat piece for this kind of genre. There are 2 main ending themes alternating with each other as they reflect the personality of Ascoeur and Q-feuille. Ascoeur’s Sun And Moon sounds like the lively and carefree girl she is while Q-feuille’s Moon And Sun sounds calmer and gentler. And no, there is no typo error in the song’s name. Yeah, they just reversed it that’s all. After all, both girls are like day and night, right? Of course there are special ending themes like episode 3’s Magical Sakura-chan and episode 6’s It’s Alright To Dream (damn, this is the only place Norio Wakamoto could say proper words).

So to once more quote from the overused superhero movie line: “With great powers, come great responsibilities”. Ascoeur and Q-feuille were triumphant in doing that since they had to shoulder the fate of the entire universe from total destruction. So if you think that your partner isn’t up to your standards or not to your liking, please be reminded that each of us have our own abilities and talents. Plus, it takes two to tango. Sometimes success comes in the form of the most unlikely combination. Having said that, anybody out there wants to be this otaku’s partner? No special abilities whatsoever. Sighs. If only I was able to stop time and continue watching animes… Wait a minute, wouldn’t animes come to a halt too that way?

Kiddy Girl -and

Scrapped Princess

November 27, 2010

After all this time, I finally remembered to watch Scrapped Princess. It was one of those early animes that I watched its opening theme and was taken in by the catchy opening tune that I decided to put this on my watch list. However as time goes by, I couldn’t find the appropriate time to watch and slowly it faded from my memory until recently. I thought the duration for Suzuka was bad, yeah, this is even worse.

A year 2003 production and set in the fantasy medieval-like land mix with a little sci-fi elements, the story is about a girl, Pacifica Casull, who is more popularly known as Scrapped Princess according to the 5111st Grendel Prophecy, the poison that will destroy and bring disaster to the world once she reached 16 years old. And she’s already 15 years old at the start of the anime. Oh boy. The world has got less than a year before apocalypse come. So it’s no wonder every desperate human fearing for their lives under the faith of Lord Mauser (wearing a white cloth with strange inscriptions covering their face. How the heck can they see? And no, they’re not Mickey Mouse followers) would want to kill her as soon as possible to ‘save’ their world. In the eyes of others, they may be considered selfish. But Pacifica isn’t alone. She has 2 step siblings, the sword master Shannon and powerful magic user Raquel to help protect her wherever they go from 1 village to another. This is going to be one heck of a big action adventure (some comedy of course) seeing almost the entire world is out for her head.

Like in episode 1, Pacifica and her siblings are travelling and ambushed by pheasant bandits of the Mauser faith. Thankfully they are easily taken down by Raquel’s magic and Shannon’s superb swordsmanship. Resting in the next village, Pacifica follows an aunty to a temple. But it’s a trap to lure her in as the priest tries to kill her. Fortunately Raquel barges in to not only zap the fatso but her powerful magic destroyed the temple too. See, if you chant your magic lines faster and shorter, your magic will also come faster, right? While camping outside, Pacifica talks to Shannon about who named her and how everything will be easier if she had just died. Suddenly a lone man, Christopher “Chris” Armalite from the 5th Royal Task Force and weapons specialist appears to kill Pacifica. Shannon and Chris clash swords but the latter withdraws after seeing he is outnumbered when Raquel appears. He asks Shannon why he protected something that will bring disaster to the world and that everyone will rejoice over her death. But Shannon replies that their parents gave her that name so that she can be loved by everyone and will continue to protect her.

In episode 2, the gang faces another band of bandit during their stop. A young knight-in-training and eldest son of a baron, Leopold “Leo” Scorpse appears to defend them but due to his bumbling, he crashes out of the picture. Our usual heroes easily take care of the bandits. Leo follows the gang and gets taken in by Pacifica’s beauty and dignity that he proposes to marry her! Hey, it’s better than wanting to kill her, right? Plus, he doesn’t believe in the Scrapped Princess thingy. They learn of his dream to be part of the kingdom’s elite knights, Amber Knights and wishes to see a legendary sub-commander Doyle Barrett who suddenly resigned 15 years ago and was rumoured to be cursed and made ill by Scrapped Princess. He wants to learn chivalry from him. While resting at a lake, a granny tries to warn Pacifica from afar a creature residing in it. Suddenly a giant frog appears. A mysterious girl, Zefiris appears saying that it’s a spirit taking some form. She uses her magic to turn it into a human form. Pacifica following her words, tells the spirit to rest and it soon disappears. Granny gives them directions to Doyle’s place. Leo, Pacifica and Shannon head there while Raquel watches the wagon. They meet Doyle but he is reluctant to teach Leo since he’s now a mere town doctor. Leo is persistent so Doyle tells him he will only understand if he kills. Besides, he believes that there is no absolute chivalry and justice in this world and tells him to go home. The trio return as granny cooks them a meal as thanks for calming the spirit. Granny says Doyle quit due to something sad that happened. He was in charge of ridding Scrapped Princess then but he found her more cute than detestable in contrary to the oracle’s words. Though he dropped her down the cliff, rumours have it she was rescued and survived till this day.

The gang encounter a roadblock by the Royal Guards in episode 3. Due to the guards recognizing Leo’s family emblem and Pacifica in a disguise, they made it through. They stay at an inn where Pacifica quickly makes friends with a gloomy-looking inn staff, Winia Chester. Since they’ve no money, they go do part time jobs like selling bread (Raquel is hot and attracting sales but Pacifica is scaring customers away because of her hideous mascot suit) while Shannon does chores at the inn. With Pacifica around, Winia seems to open up and smile, something she hasn’t done since her parents died. That evening, Zefiris warns Shannon of new assassins so they had no choice but to pack and leave though Pacifica wanted to stay longer. However Chris kidnaps Winia as bait to lure them out. Shannon decides to go alone to the mirror gorge to rescue her and though Pacifica wants to come, he tells her to stay put and make dinner for them. When Winia comes to, she learns about Pacifica as the Scrapped Princess when Chris tells her about St Grendel’s prophecy which is almost 100% correct and given once a year. When the queen gave birth to a boy and girl twins, the baby girl that emerged from the womb must be killed or else the world will be destroyed. 15 years have passed when the Royal Family found out she’s still alive.

Shannon arrives in episode 4 and another sword fight ensues. Chris is upset that Shannon is protecting something that will destroy the world but Winia feels he is envious that Shannon is able to protect something. In the end Shannon wins but let Chris live. An Apostle of Lord Mauser, Galil of the Purgers and a Peacemaker, decide to personally kill Scrapped Princess after witnessing Chris’ failure. Winia and Shannon return to the rest but Winia remains gloomy. Chris returns to his comrades to report his loss when Major Sturm arrives to inform them about their change in plans as the church has sent Purgers not only to kill Scrapped Princess but the entire village as well. The Royal Force are to withdraw all actions towards Scrapped Princess and just observe. Next morning as the Casull siblings leave, they’re being attacked by the Royal Force but Chris tells them to back down. He also informs the town is in danger. It seems Galil’s blob is absorbing the townspeople. The gang return to fight it off when Galil hypnotizes everyone to kill Pacifica. Feeling afraid, she lets loose a fearful scream that unleashes a powerful inner force and frees everyone from the spell. The blob continues to absorb everyone so Pacifica is overcome with guilt and even tells it to kill her since she’s the source of the problem. That’s when her inner force stops the blob and allows Raquel and Shannon to destroy its core and return order to the town. Before they leave, Winia thanks them and wishes they come visit her next time (citing unpaid inn bills). Leo who is unaware of everything that has happened until now, sees them leaving. Where have you been boy?

Chris meets the Baroness Bylaha in episode 5. She wants him to investigate Grendel’s prophecy and the Scrapped Princess. She makes him her foster son so he can do his investigations smoother. He meets Forcis, the twin brother of Pacifica. The gang on their journey meets a minstrel, Kidaf Gylot AKA Silencer. Just to be safe, they ignore his wish to play them a song. During their rest, they sense him nearby so Shannon goes to confront him. He learns his mastering of the mute melody has him able to control poisonous Bugs. But it was a distraction since a Bug scratched Pacifica’s cheek and its lethal poison was enough to make her fall ill. Leo and Raquel go see Doyle for an antidote but they need to get special herbs from the Stronghold Cave, nest of the Bugs. They enter the cave and meet Kidaf who tells them the kingdom has but a huge bounty sum on Pacifica’s head. Doyle and Leo are shocked to learn Pacifica as the Scrapped Princess. Raquel’s magic defeats Kidaf. As she and Doyle hurry back to make the antidote (deadline before sunrise), Leo’s heart is confused while Pacifica’s condition worsens.

They made it in time in episode 6 so Pacifica is healed. Confused Leo meets Doyle on his way back to ask what he should do as a knight but he gave no straight answer but tells him if his sword is his justice, then cut off her head. While the siblings are travelling, Galil appears before them, hypnotizes Shannon and Raquel before taking them away with him. Pacifica goes in search for them but comes into Leo and Kidaf. Pacifica wants Kidaf to use his Bugs to find her siblings in exchange for an arm of hers. She tells Leo to cut it off. Initially in a dilemma, he refuses after thinking a sword isn’t for cutting people. Kidaf agrees to help search for them with no strings attached. Upon knowing Galil’s location, off Pacifica and Leo go. Seems Galil is confronted with Zefiris. He transforms into a large monster to blasts them. Shannon in a dream state, makes his resolve to protect Pacifica so Zefiris agrees to temporary be his D Knight and let him wield her. When he returns to reality, Galil is going to do another blast but Shannon’s sword unleashes a dragon aura and destroys Galil. In the aftermath Zefiris explains she’s the last Dragoon, a weapon sent from a faraway time to aid them in fighting against God. Though she hasn’t regained all her abilities yet and not perfect, but when he fights the remaining 3 Peacemakers and Lord Mauser, he can call upon her name so that she can be his blade and destroy the enemies. She’s been waiting 5000 years to aid him? Leo decides to part ways with the gang for fear he may become their enemy once he finds the true meaning of chivalry and justice.

Sturm reports to Baroness in episode 7 about Shannon and Galil’s fight. They also talk about the Third Princess of the Empire of Giat, Seness Lulu Giat and the crisis management organization she heads called Scarlet that has been doing suspicious things for the last 2 years. Baroness calls Chris and wants him to go to Grendel for the next prophecy. She also gives him a letter of thanks from Winia. I guess she has nothing better to do than to watch any romance development of her stepson. Like Chris cares anyway. The siblings take refuge in an abandoned house outside town. Shannon goes shopping and it seems a young girl, Sim followed him back. She takes a liking for him and sticks with him. Pacifica’s body reactions are of course jealous. Since she has lost her memories, they allow Sim to stay with them for the time being. Can’t turn down a loli with sympathetic look in her eyes, eh? Chris meets Cardinal Garnest Hogue as they talk about the truth of the prophecy, in which it was inaccurate on 2 occasions. Hogue’s reply was that the priest may have misinterpreted it. Chris also mentions his encounter with the Scrapped Princess and her guardians and can’t believe she’s an evil being and questions God’s will and the mission of killing under the control of Purgers. Hogue doesn’t answer so Chris leaves. Hogue sees Steyr (a Peacemaker and Galil’s replacement) and is shocked to learn of Galil’s death since he believes Apostle of Gods can’t die. Hogue asks a nun’s opinion on God and her answer and belief in Him is unwavering because He is immortal. As Sim continues to get closer to Shannon and Raquel, Pacifica feels alienated. Zefiris appears before Pacifica and requests her assistance: To kill Sim.

Zefiris thinks Shannon and Raquel can’t do the job thus the reason why she wants Pacifica to do it in episode 8. And do it fast or her siblings will be killed. She disappears when Sim comes looking for her. In a dilemma, Shannon soon comes in so Pacifica tosses away, prompting Shannon to slap her. They argue and he’s disappointed in the way she viewed him. Next day, Shannon takes Sim to town to sell the wagon and 1 of their horses. On the way back, Shannon gets injured while saving Sim from being run over by a carriage. Pacifica blames Sim but Sim tries to make up by giving her earrings she bought. Pacifica and Shannon talk and reconcile. That night Sim goes missing so the girls go look for her. Zefiris appears before Shannon and tells him Sim’s true form is an artillery type Peacemaker, Cz. If she changed into her true form, they’ll all be killed immediately. She tells he was under Sim’s control and that she ordered Pacifica to kill her. Also, humans can’t go against Peacemakers but Pacifica is an exception. She can only use that ability if she experiences extreme fear or anger. Pacifica finds Sim and they both embrace and become friends. Steyr appears and explains stuff like Peacemakers come in pairs and Cz was Galil’s partner but he got too hasty and died thus she got uncompressed and thrown out into this world. Artillery types are hard to handle so they’re compressed and maintained in phase space. Steyr is here to retrieve Cz and forces her to change into her true form (an adult version). Shannon and Raquel arrive. Zefiris possesses Shannon to fight but Steyr doesn’t intend to do that and escapes with Cz. Next morning, the siblings leave as they talk about Sim. Pacifica felt she thought she had made a little sister and a chance to act like a big sister. Too late for that now.

On their journey in episode 9, the siblings meet and make friends with a Mauser church heretical procurator (hunting those who aren’t of Mauser Faith), Bergens. Well, he’s quite friendly and treats them to food. Not to mention he looks a little like their late dad (?!). He follows them on their journey as they discover a village hidden by magic. Seems the people of this village are anti-Mauser. Bergens is tied up and taken away while the siblings meet their leaders, Lenard and Elfitine. They are freed after Shannon burns the holy symbol of Mauser. However the siblings are being told of Elfitine’s other famous title: Scrapped Princess. Well, she does have blue eyes and blonde hair. After Raquel uses her magic to save the villagers from a construction catastrophe, they talk to a little girl Audrey who tells them that everyone here has no relatives and seek refuge here from the Mauser faith. They are believers of Lord Browning and they consider him their true God but one considered as a demon if you’re a Mauser believer. Audrey tells of the many miracles Elfitine did like healing and ability to see the future. The siblings are summoned to see Lenard. They talk about the source of magic stemming from Browning. Mauser is the devil who oppresses humanity and Browning a God who fought Him with 26 Dragoons. Lenard invites the trio to join them in changing the world into a correct one. Shannon remains suspicious of Lenard’s abilities and will not interrupt nor help in whatsoever of their plans. Lenard accepts that and allows them to be witnesses instead. Everyone gathers for a special ceremony headed by Lenard and Elfitine.

In episode 10, Pacifica runs off alone to find Bergens. Speaking of which, he has broken himself free and assimilate among the praying crowd in the ceremony. We see Lenard giving drugged drinks to some of the villagers (including Audrey) and putting them into a liquid capsule which powers a strange machine. Lenard commands the other villagers to pray and announces the plan to destroy the Holy Capital Grendel. Pacifica wanders to a hotspring area and sees Elfitine taking bath and joins her. They casually talk. When Elfitine mentions about seeing a dark future of this village and getting scared, she tells her about Lenard’s destruction plans though she believes in him because if not for him she and the other villagers will not be where they are today. Pacifica also tells her own story and her siblings are the only one who believed in her before parting. Shannon and Raquel enter the strange machine room. Raquel notes the minds of these people are amplifying the magic. Then Bergens come in. he consults Raquel about the possibility of Grendel being destroyed. She says a Super Range Strategic-class Assault Magic Spell is possible but notes this village can’t use such large scale magic.

When they reunite with Pacifica, they head to the machine room as Raquel notes the magic won’t reach Grendel but will cause an explosion here. They decide to find Lenard, who has fled with Elfitine. When they catch up, Lenard reveals his plan to destroy the villagers who praise Browning is to correct the world. Yup, a trap. Lenard is a heretical procurator bent with an ambition to be the next church head and the reporting of the destruction of anti-Mauser believers will be his big break. He takes Elfitine hostage but she is adamant to stay with the villagers. Shannon throws a rock to hit off his mask. Some ugly face he’s got. In his panic to hide it, he falls off the cliff but survives. Elfitine and the rest go back to the village as she admits that she is the fake Scrapped Princess and has been deceiving them. But the villagers forgive her as they free the drugged people. Elfitine plans to stay here with her people as the rest part. Bergens decides to go back to the capital and will not report this incident. He hints to Shannon that he knows Pacifica is the real Scrapped Princess and notes she is quite a good girl and to protect her well. He warns that there are many heretical procurators at Giat too. Baroness and Chris arrive at the castle of Queen Elmeyer, the mother of Scrapped Princess.

The siblings enter Giat in episode 11 but are ambushed but Seness and her guards. She knows all about them and has them follow her to her Scarlet fort, Skid. She separates Pacifica from the rest. Seness says she hates Pacifica and bombards her with lots of questions. She tells her she’s going to take Shannon and leave her in the care of her adjutant, Eirote Borchard. Eirote says how Pacifica and Seness are alike. That is, both born a princess, never loved and had people wanted to kill them. The difference is Seness’ siblings never protected her and wanted to kill her as they’re afraid she’d take over the throne since she excels in literary and military arts. Eirote says something about their true enemy not Mauser or Leinwan Kingdom, but something non-human that governs this world like the Peacemakers. Leo is seen escorting Winia to Sauer while Chris and Baroness meet Elmeyer and tell of their meeting with Scrapped Princess. Elmeyer is sad she can’t do anything for her but Chris says she’s a cheerful and open girl. Zefiris is doing her investigation and comes across the fort’s Vanguard, which turns out to be another Dragoon like her, Natalie. Something about transferring her personality to this Vanguard 5000 years ago after the war and was asleep most of the time (thus avoiding Peacemaker’s detection). Seness confronts Shannon and tells him straight he wants to make him hers (nothing romantic, mind you). That is, the power of his fully mobile Dragoon for world domination. They both have a sword fight and though she could also use magic, Shannon comes up tops. Seness and Eirote get a call that ‘she’ has been awaken. Pacifica is reunited with her siblings and they are being told Skid’s official name is Free Orbital Fortress Vanguard, a vehicle from the Genesis War. They enter to room and see Zefiris and Natalie.

As explained in episode 12, Natalie lost most of her abilities and transferred her body and mind into Skid. Steyr and her controlled army attack Skid so Seness and Eirote go counter attack but find it tough to handle since Steyr’s Rally Points (some flexible blob) is sucking and killing the guards and advancing deeper. The Dragoons explain further about Pacifica as the Providence Breaker and everything the siblings went through was planned by them. They’re not the only guardians and proceed to show others who carry the factors of guardian within them. Among the many people include Leo, Winia, Bergens, Elfitine, Kidaf and surprisingly their late parents. The Casull siblings seem to be their best chance against breaking Peacemakers’ plan who are using the Mauser church to interrupt their scheme (the killing of Scrapped Princess). As Seness’ troops are losing, Shannon tells her to call them back as he will go face Steyr with Zefiris. Unheeding Zefiris’ advice not to merge because he doesn’t trust her fully, Steyr’s appearance causes all those who look at her to fall under her control. Steyr’s attack is superior so Shannon-Zefiris make a retreat. Pacifica learns that as Providence Breaker, she is the only one who won’t listen to Peacemakers unlike everyone else who are born and implanted with this. They want to kill her since her specialty is contagious and that Peacemakers can’t attack her directly although her ability isn’t complete yet. So by using her as a rally point, they can gather a people of army and fight against them and start a revolution. Rally Points are killing more people so Pacifica gets scared and unleashes that power and free those affected around her. Steyr lets her guard down and this enabled Shannon to stab her from behind. Before he could finish her, Cz saves her. Before disappearing, she tells him that both sides will back down for now and wants them to come to the capital of Leinwan in 15 days so they can finish everything. They will kill 1000 people if they’re a day late. Rally Points disappear, Seness and her comrades pay their respects to the fallen and Pacifica is resolved to head to Leinwan’s capital.

Zefiris wakes up from a dream being separated by her previous master Beckenham in episode 13. Looks a lot like Shannon if you ask me. As Skid is making its way to Sauer, the siblings learn about history how mankind fought what is known to the Mauser faith as God and lost. The reason why they’re trapped and sealed in this world and constantly under observation of Peacemakers for 5000 years. Through the years, mankind wasn’t allowed to develop their civilization and gradually forgot that they’re being imprisoned. A small number of humans on the outside plan to free mankind. Dragoons were created to aid factors to defeat them and using precise human DNA calculations to scatter the factors which bore fruit now. In short, Pacifica is mankind’s trump card to defeat Peacemakers with her Providence Breaker. Skid suddenly stops moving. The Dragoons feel Pacifica’s Providence isn’t ready yet though they know and will allow thousands of innocent people to die. Seness decides to cut connections to Skid’s power and reconnect it manually. As Seness and the siblings head deeper into Skid, they learn more about Browning who devised a plan by placing a machine that aided the mind and body of the best seer at the time, Celia, in this Free Orbital Fortress to counter attack the alien’s attacks. Her predictions were accurate and attacks successful but Celia betrayed mankind. The gang are suddenly separated from each other. Pacifica sees Zefiris as she’s in a dilemma and asks the former what to do.

The king is desperate after learning Scrapped Princess is still alive in episode 14 and will do whatever it takes to hasten her death. Baroness and the other Royal Force members are in discussion about Scrapped Princess’ contact with Giat and the possibility of conspiring to attack them. Furthermore, a disturbing vision from Jill reveals that the Royal Force may use ‘that’ banned magic. That Super Range thingy. Zefiris tells Pacifica her past how those aliens from outer space has been battling mankind for some time and the creation of Dragoons with God-like powers to aid them, thus their name Last Beasts. But there was some AI flaw which caused a majority of them to operate inefficiently in battle. They’re replaced with better versions called Valkyries but they betrayed mankind and contributed to their loss. They are what we know as Peacemakers. She also shows her the separation from Beckenham. Because Shannon doesn’t trust her anymore and that Pacifica treats her like her previous master, that’s why she asks for her opinion. She also says Natalie is brainwashing Shannon into an emotionless person. Seems he is seeing visions of the past whereby Pacifica was saved and brought into the hands of their late parents. Raquel and Seness manage to move Skid again. When they regroup, Pacifica is horrified to see Shannon brainwashed. He vows to protect her no matter what. But Pacifica isn’t going to leave him like that and the only way to return him back to normal is to enter his mind. Inside, we see Shannon living his happy days with little Pacifica so much so to a point he would even cut his parents and Raquel if they’d suggested stuff that separated them! The real Pacifica is disgusted with his lolicon behaviour and confronts him but gets stabbed! Not amused, Pacifica punches and slaps him several times to snap him out of the spell. Even Natalie is surprised it was undone so easily! As they continue to Leinwan, Zefiris apologizes to Pacifica for dragging the siblings into their fight.

Leinwan’s military General Peter-Stahl considers Skid an invasion in episode 15 and is going to use the prohibited Strategic-class Assault Magic, Ginnungagap. Baroness protests and suggests waiting to verify the truth but it doesn’t help since the kind is desperate in eliminating Scrapped Princess. Leo and Winia arrive and pass by Chris but the latter ignores Winia. Forcis tries to convince his dad but he’s still adamant to rid Scrapped Princess. The Peacemakers (including the fourth one introduced, Socom) use remote control to disable Skid defences and immobilize their movements. Shannon decides to fight them thinking that it will weaken their restrain and they’ll have a chance to move. Shannon merges with reluctant Zefiris who feels he hasn’t trust her fully yet. They transform into her true Dragoon form and battle Cz. While doing that, a black sphere (Ginnungagap) suddenly engulfs Skid. Reports that there are no survivors from Skid’s elimination but the destructive power is so great that the tsunami destroyed the coastal town. A guy named Fulle sees Pacifica standing on the shore. Though she is cheery, she seems to have amnesia and follows him in hopes she may meet those she know.

Peter is using defence as an excuse to attack Giat in episode 16 since Scrapped Princess’ death isn’t confirmed. Baroness is against it so Peter removes her from her position as Director or the task force and replaces her with Sturm. Cz follows Shannon everywhere he goes in the capital as precaution as Raquel stumbles upon Bergens who has been called back to the capital to look for Scrapped Princess. Pacifica is living a normal life with Fulle and under the name of Pamela (apparently the name of his beloved dead cat). Winia and Leo are shocked to see her. Even more, Pacifica goes to work part time at Kidaf’s theatre (now he’s a musician). Kidaf tells the duo about Pacifica’s amnesia, etc. He doesn’t want to tell her she’s the Scrapped Princess and thinks it’s a bad idea to have her walking around town filled with Royal Guards looking for her, thus he gave her this job. Another coincidental meeting at the ramen stall whereby Pacifica, Fulle, Leo, Raquel and Bergens meet (Lenard who is running the stall almost got recognizes but backed out quickly!). When they return to Fulle’s place, Fulle thinks it’s time for her to return to her family but Pacifica doesn’t want to go and wishes to stay with him. Raquel allows her to do so for the time being seeing how happy she is.

Cz tells Shannon the Peacemakers’ side of the story to keep mankind ‘sealed’ for their own good in episode 17. If he wants to make them the villains, he should blame Browning and those who lived 5000 years ago. Sturm relays orders from Peter to his Obstinate Arrow members (Chris and co) to drop all their current mission and focus on finding Scrapped Princess. They have 3 days to do it or else they’ll be disbanded. Seness and her crew are still alive back in Giat thanks to Natalie’s guidance. Though Skid has been destroyed. They are building some giant machine, Giga. Leo and Winia go see Fulle and Pacifica who are continuing to live their normal lives. The former duo tell the latter duo about Scrapped Princess in hopes of returning Pacifica’s memories but it was futile. Leo wishes to take Pacifica away from this place filled with soldiers searching for her but Fulle disagrees. Leo challenges him but was interrupted when Fulle’s friend, Slay from the military comes by to take Lace, Fulle’s codename, back to the military to prepare war on Giat. Fulle refuses, saying he has left the army and doesn’t intend to go back there. Slay is forceful but eventually gives up. When he leaves, he informs a colleague that Scrapped Princess is living with Fulle and wants an order to arrest her.

As Fulle returns to the gang in episode 18, he tells them to leave now because he knows they’ve been discovered. When Slay returns with reinforcements, the gang are already done. They take refuge at Kidaf’s theatre and contemplate where to go next. Kidaf suggests Grendel since it’s better to face the Purgers than the Royal Guards who have increased the intensity of the search. But they need to wear a disguise to get past the guards. Pacifica and Winia look okay in those dresses but Leo and Fulle cross-dressing? Ugly but it worked and they got out. At a safe distance, Fulle and Leo head back to steal horses. Taking them was easy but escaping is hard because the guards are on their tail. Fulle wants Leo to go ahead while he stays back to stall them. As much as he disagrees, Leo has to because no one else will protect Pacifica. Leo returns to Winia and Pacifica and the latter knows something is wrong though Leo says Fulle will catch up. Fulle takes on the guards but their numbers are increasing. At the end, Fulle has taken too much arrow shots and dies :'(. Shannon and Cz see Fulle’s dead corpse lying in the streets. The escaped trio patiently wait for Fulle to come. Pacifica thinks of going back but Leo with tears streaming down his face stops her. Suddenly they are surrounded by Chris and his Obstinate Arrow members.

The trio are captured in episode 19 as Pacifica is thrown into jail. Leo and Winia are soon released. Pacifica makes acquaintance with a prisoner in the next cell unknown to her, which turns out to be Elmeyer. She’s very weak and real messed up. Chris learns that Forcis will be sent away to the Holy Capital for his ‘safety’. Leo and Winia tell Raquel and Kidaf about Pacifica’s case but they can’t do anything about it now. Shannon and Cz are found by Sturm as he requests them to follow him to see Peter. Peter wants Shannon to cooperate with him to use Scrapped Princess as a negotiation tool to negotiate with the Peacemakers for ultimate world domination. Shannon isn’t happy with that idea of using Pacifica so Peter gives him time to think carefully. Pacifica and Elmeyer indirectly talk about Scrapped Princess. Elmeyer knows she won’t last long and wants Pacifica to pretend to be her daugther and call her “mother”. Pacifica starts panicking and screams just that but Elmeyer doesn’t respond.

Chris learns of Elmeyer’s death in episode 20 and Jill foresees the death of many people. Pacifica is taken to see the king. He is very fearful of her and wants her killed but Peter tells him they need her alive as a negotiation tool. As Bergens escort Forcis out of the capital, Shannon and Cz are brought in to see the king. Pacifica is brought into the room. Cz mind controls a guard to swiftly kill her but Steyr prevents her. She wants to hear things out first. Peter tells of his plan to rule the world without the Peacemakers’ interference and in exchange will control Scrapped Princess. Of course they reject his idea and mock him. She says she’s going to reset the world. They’re not destroying the world. Just trim it by 90%. Socom in his true form starts destroying the capital and wreck havoc. The guards start panicking so the king orders Pacifica’s death. Shannon goes to protect her. He doesn’t care if this world is worth saving or not because he considers protecting his sister to the end more important. Pacifica regains her memories. During the commotion to kill Pacifica, Sturm orders her not to be killed but to be taken away and imprisoned. Shannon goes after her but encounters Zefiris who says Relay Points are all over the capital and wants him to prioritize preventing more victims since she mentions Sturm was the calmest of the lot and ordered Pacifica not to be killed. Shannon now truly trusts her because she didn’t take away their freedom to believe or doubt. They transform into their Dragoon form. The Peacemakers are confident that they outnumber him but Seness and her Gigas appear to level the playing field.

The aerial battle begins in episode 21. More like a light show if you ask me. Chris and his team break into the castle to free Pacifica. Jill asks his rational of doing so. He replies after doing research on the prophecy, he began to question if Pacifica is the real threat to the world and the Peacemakers as the Gods they claimed to be. He is going to side with her on his own will. His team is with him. During their escape, they bump into Sturm. he says Peter has given orders for Pacifica’s death and allows Chris to get away. He is fully aware of the position he is in now. As Seness and her Gigas are taken down, the Peacemakers corner Shannon. The usual talk about his ideals and priorities. Since he’s still stubborn, they prepare to crush him. As Steyr is in the process of killing him, Seness and her Gigas kill Steyr (that easy?!). Socom and Cz decide to call off the reset process and retreat. In the aftermath, the Casull siblings are reunited. Shannon and Pacifica talk. She still feels guilty that she is a threat to the world so Shannon unsheathes his sword and asks her if she wants to live or die. If she wants to die, he can kill her right now. Or else he will protect her with all he’s got. I guess Shannon’s lecture of don’t listen to other people’s opinion and she only has the right to determine what she wants to do, Pacifica decides to live.

In episode 22, Socom sees the Mauser God, Celia, to request the use of First Class Divine Punishment Execution Form since Galil and Steyr are gone but she only allows the Second Class Form. Pacifica is camping in the forest with her siblings, Zefiris, Winia, Leo, Chris and Co (Seness and Eirote a distance away repairing their Gigas). Pacifica’s cooking is so horrible that they think their stomach will be destroyed before the world! All hail Winia the saviour! That night as she can’t sleep, a wooden block with an inscription fell out from her clothes. She starts crying uncontrollably though she doesn’t know why. Next day as Pacifica bathes at the river, she encounters Celia. She tells her how mankind long ago created ‘wings’ and flew to the stars. But God wasn’t happy since if mankind was left alone they would consume the stars since He viewed them akin to predatory birds. So He decided to preserve and cage them. But they rebelled and many died. Thus her reason she helped in caging them and took extra precautions to make them not realize that they’re being caged. She asks if she wants to ‘leave the cage and go outside’. After calling her Providence Breaker, Pacifica realized who she is and shouts for Shannon’s name. Raquel and Leo also come running but Celia has already disappeared. Not even Zefiris has seen her. Since Pacifica’s birthday is in 3 days time, Socom hands Hogue a task while Sturm and Slay move out their army to the Holy Capital.

The Royal Force has found the gang’s location in episode 23 but Chris’ team take care of them. Chris goes to see Forcis and the latter knows he was the one who let Pacifica escaped. Forcis is brought by Hogue to see a room filled with injured people supposedly to have suffered from God’s wrath. Many more have died. He wants Forcis to be an envoy for God to save the people. Pacifica has a chat with Shannon, then Winia and Seness who wish to visit her village one day. Bergens arrives to deliver a message. Seems Forcis requests to see his sister. Pacifica has her doubts but Chris tells her Forcis isn’t the kind of guy who would wage a war without any reason and has been worried about her all the while. Bergens give her time to think. Leo talks to Pacifica about his beliefs and chivalry and concludes that all he wants to do is protect her. Since he says it’s better to try and fail than to regret it later, Pacifica decides to go see Forcis. At a nearby church, Pacifica and Forcis meet for the first time. Though a little awkward, Pacifica manages to strike up a conversation. He apologizes for everything and the hardship she went through but she doesn’t mind because she has her guardians and friends around. With tears streaming down his eyes, Forcis once more apologizes and hugs her. He takes out his sword and stabs her back! Then shortly himself! As everyone is shocked to see the events unfolding, Peter orders his army to fire on the church. Raquel’s barrier protects them. As Pacifica and Forcis lay in their pool of blood and weakening, Zefiris thinks she is able to help Pacifica with her material intervention ability but Socom wouldn’t allow that. He orders Shannon to merge with his Dragoon and fight him or he’ll burn down the Holy Capital. Now that is one very angry Dragoon. Forcis says his rational for doing so was to protect his people and hopes they will forgive him.

Shannon with Seness and her Gigas take on another aerial battle with Cz and Socom in episode 24. Raquel panics when Pacifica’s blood doesn’t stop and even pleads to Mauser to forgive and save her! Pacifica’s blood draws strange inscriptions on the ground and unleashes a mysterious power that throws the aerial combatants out of the sealed world and into space. The heroes kill Socom and Cz eventually. Pacifica wakes up next to Celia in a virtual reality place created in the empty space of the sealed world’s control system. Celia tells her how she was born to destroy her but it needed 16 years to develop her power which is activated when she dies. Though she was short by 10 hours. She also mentions the past of the war between humans and aliens that resulted in the death of many. Celia conspired with the aliens to stop the war and preserve nearly-extinct mankind to save her brother (Beckenham?) and sister (looks like Raquel?) but of course it was too late. Celia wants to know if this world should continue like this. Pacifica gives her honest opinion about walking her own path so Celia decides to free the world and bids Pacifica farewell. As Celia breaks the barrier and reveals the real sky, she tells the humans her final words. Put down their weapons and walk their own path of freedom and future together as there won’t be any more prophecies. Pacifica appears in the arms of Shannon. But naked? They start arguing (lolicon, closet pervert?) and things are certainly back to normal. The siblings have an emotional reunion and Forcis’ wounds have also healed so he lives too. In the aftermath, Winia and Chris seem to be a couple. Pacifica and her siblings are willing to miss Forcis’ coronation to help their horse in labour! Zefiris is also living with them as Pacifica notes how she’s glad to be Scrapped Princess because she gets to go places, experience things and meet new people. Leo once again proposes her to marry him but she slaps him! Never in a million years! Not giving up too, eh?

Let’s see, humans are allowed to live freely again, Pacifica is no longer the feared one and gets to continue her life and the aliens, oh heck, I don’t know if they have left the planet or the Milky Way. That’s got to be a happy ending, right? It’s just too bad that a lot of undesirable things happened for a very long time before it came down to this. But it was one heck of an adventure, doesn’t it? I was actually preparing myself for the worse that the world would be ‘saved’ with Pacifica’s death considering a few supporting characters like Fulle and Elmeyer died. Who am I kidding? The story is pretty okay with the plot and twist unravelling at a steady pace. Just that I find that the explanations for the plot, past and its many unique terms to be a little complicated since I’m one of those blur cases. Too much for me to handle. At least the revelations were spread out through the entire series which makes it ‘easier’ for me. Otherwise this could’ve been a fun filled adventure with some comedy and the other various colourful characters.

Pacifica may be tomboyish but her simple and happy ways was a facade to hide her self guilt in which she blamed herself for how the world turned out to be. Though at times her heart may waver, she stood strong till the end. Wouldn’t anybody who has been accused of bringing the world’s end feel so? Shannon and Raquel truly play big brother and sister for Pacifica even if they’re not truly blood related. They are each other’s pillar of strength. Shannon sure puts on his tough love for Pacifica but eventually in the end he is still human and a big brother and cries. Though there are some characters that I felt were like ‘excess baggage’ that didn’t do much at the end like Leo and Winia. That’s the problem when you have too many characters in a series even if they’re just supporting. I thought I’d see Leo in action and though he stays close to Pacifica to protect her, I felt he was just like tagging along. I suppose he has found his own true meaning of chivalry and justice. As for the Peacemakers, I couldn’t believe it that they died so easily. After making their menacing and tough presence, I thought it’s going to be a tough fight. Sure, we have some mediocre aerial battles with lasers shooting just about anywhere but when it’s time to kill them, it was so easily done.

On to the opening theme song that I fell in love when I first heard many years ago, entitled Little Wing by JAM Project featuring Masami Okui, all I can say that this is a very catchy and lively tune and one might mistaken this song to be a Scottish piece thanks to the bagpipes-like intro. However I find the ending theme to be a total turn off. I just didn’t like it. Sung by Yoko Ueno and Masumi Itou, it is called Daichi No La-Li-La. Probably it was the weird singing vocals. On a trivial note, later as I found out that many of the characters’ names are named after firearms or its manufacturers! Well, we don’t see guns in the series but what are they trying to imply here?! I guess if this wasn’t a world of sword and magic fantasy, it would be guns and rifles warfare. Another odd thing I find is the next episode preview. No, it’s not the contents of what Raquel narrates as it’s your real next episode preview and what is to be expected in the next instalment. But rather, Raquel was talking so fast like as though she has to squeeze all her words in a very limited time. Because of that, it sounded quite funny.

I’m sure this series has us think on lots of aspects. For instance, blind faith. Are we really to oppose the one and Almighty even if it is against our morals and beliefs? But sometimes having so doesn’t necessary mean to be walking with crutches. With such a strong belief and hope in one’s heart, it makes us go on when the going gets tough. Just because those at the top painted a rotten picture of someone, who are we to form stereotypic views on that person? You won’t know till you get to know that person better. Yeah, never judge a book by its cover. Like in the series, we see how many characters changed after meeting Pacifica like Chris and Seness. Even the Mauser God herself realized the err of her ways. Bergens, Sturm and Forcis weren’t such bad people as their profession or position would’ve suggested. A subtle message I think may be to tell us that humans in general are self destructive no matter if we are set free or caged. Can we do a compromise then? Although I don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes, but I think if this trend keeps up, a new threat will destroy the world. It’s called otakuism and it is slowly invading the world! Scrapped Otaku! Better then to seal oneself in your own ideal dream world, eh?

Scrapped Princess

If you notice that both girls have a creepy resemblance to a ghost character in a particular horror movie. Their pale skin, their long slender black hair and their socially inability to communicate with the other ‘normal’ people. Yes, that’s right. It is Sunako Nakahara from Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge and Sawako “Sadako” Kuronuma from Kimi Ni Todoke. From a stranger’s perspective, they may get scared out of their pants. But if you get to know them a little better, you’ll find out that they’re not as bad as they seem. Looks can be deceiving…

Age
Sunako: 15 years old.
Sawako: 16 years old.

Eye colour
Sunako: Violet.
Sawako: Dark brown.

Meaning of name
Sunako: Since her name is officially written in katakana, the meaning is not known. However some may translate it as sand or gold dust.
Sawako: It means “lively child” but often nicknamed as “Sadako” as reference to a character from the horror movie The Ring.

How her misunderstood creepy character came about
Sunako: The boy she first confessed her love too rejected her and called her “ugly”.
Sawako: Due to her very shy nature and tendency not to correct people about their misconceptions.

Her good traits
Other stuff she is good at. No, scaring people isn’t one of them.
Sunako: Cooking, athletic, intelligent and plays good piano.
Sawako: Cooking, neat and orderly notes, knits well and makes Christmas gifts by her own hands.

The boy
The XY that is seen as the prospect love interest.
Sunako: Kyouhei Takano.
Sawako: Shouta Kazehaya.

How the chemistry came about
Sunako: Kyouhei and the other guys are tasked by the Landlady to turn Sunako into a lady as part of a deal to live in the luxurious mansion rent-free. Oh course the hot-cold relationship between them is amusing though it isn’t hinted that if they have feelings for each other. I would say it is more of a mixed feeling.
Sawako: Kazehaya as the outgoing and very friendly guy can’t stand seeing others being left out or in trouble. Because the other classmates shun her, Kazehaya takes it to himself to help her not feel isolated. During the course of the series, both developed feelings for each other though they can’t tell each other yet.

The other boys
The other males who get along with her.
Sunako: Takenaga Oda, Yukinojo “Yuki” Toyama and Ranmaru Morii.
Sawako: Ryuu Sanada.

Her girl pals
Girls need to have their own girlfriends too, right?
Sunako: Noi Kasahara. Later it is Tamao Kikunoi
Sawako: Ayane Yano and Chizuru “Chizu” Yoshida. Later it is Eriko Hirano and Tomoko Endou.

Past friends
She wasn’t always alone.
Sunako: 4 mannequins namely Josephine the skeleton, George the husband of Josephine and the anatomical models figure Hiroshi and Akira.
Sawako: Her middle school classmate Shino.

Her rivals
You need this if there is going to be a love triangle, quadruple, etc or someone who just don’t like her.
Sunako: The Goth-loli girls, Ganguro Girls and just about the rest of the other girls who have a crush on our quartet of handsome guys.
Sawako: Ume “Kurumi” Kurumizawa and just about the rest of the other girls who have a crush on Kazehaya.
Yeah, I know. Being least popular is a sin. Especially if you’re hanging out with popular guys.

Her parents
Sunako: They live abroad, believed to be in Africa as they have left her in the care of her aunt known as the Landlady.
Sawako: They live together in a house in Japan.

Prone to
What I notice she is inclined to.
Sunako: Nose bleeds whenever she sees the dazzling light of the guys’ beauty.
Sawako: Profuse apologizing whenever she thinks her words upset people.

First kiss
Sunako: During a heated ping pong match against Kyouhei, they accidentally kissed in mid-air.
Sawako: While walking back alone with Kazehaya, she closed her eyes and tugged his shirt. They could’ve kissed if they didn’t open their eyes and back off. Seems Sawako misinterpreted this ‘advice’ from Pin to do this if she ever wants to talk to him.

Outing with others
Can’t stay cooked up at home all the time, can’t she?
Sunako: A visit to a hotspring inn with the guys, an invitation by the Landlady to an island with a rumoured legendary pirate and an outing with her girl pals to the spa.
Sawako: A sleepover at Chizu’s place with Ayane, a farewell party with her classmates for her homeroom teacher’s transfer and a visit to a local shrine temple with Kazehaya on New Year’s Eve.

Sports festival participation
Sunako: She fiercely participates in every darn event against Kyouhei. She wins some, he wins some. But in the end as they’re both neck-to-neck, neither won when the teacher puts off all deals on the bets (the motivation for the duo to beat each other was the prize they would receive from a couple of students betting on them).
Sawako: She joins her classmates in the football category. Her class lost all their matches.

Pretty version
When they don’t look ‘scary’, that is.
Sunako: Whenever we see her real eyes or her mood turns confident.
Sawako: Whenever she smiles.

Chibi mode
That super-deformed kawaii version we see them as sometimes.
Sunako: As a visual metaphor of how she and the rest see herself.
Sawako: Whenever she is dense, panic (comical) or dreamy.

In the end
The change she underwent.
Sunako: She may not have turned into an ideal lady but at least she doesn’t lock herself up in a dark room watching horror and bloody movies 24/7. She is more receptive towards the quartet of guys she has been living with.
Sawako: She gradually opens up herself and is able to talk to other people with more confidence albeit she still has a long way to go.

Seiyuu
Sunako: Yukiko Takaguchi.
Sawako: Mamiko Noto.

Conclusion
It was quite tough for me to do a comparison between both girls because Sunako lacked information on her personal bio-data while there is no sufficient data on the likes and dislikes of Sawako. Both girls show that it isn’t the outside appearance that counts but the inner beauty that lies within them. Because Sunako comes from the slapstick comedy genre, I’d love her character in the sensed that she went through a roller coaster ride of events. Especially when she is in action mode. On the other hand, because Mamiko Noto is my favourite seiyuu, in a way Sawako is likeable in that area. Otherwise the typically shoujo romance genre makes her less ‘formidable’ as compared to the former. As opposed to misconceptions that popular guys should end up with popular girls, it goes to show that total opposites do attract. After all, they’re both ‘normal’ teenage high school girls, right?

Sunako Nakahara Sawako Kuronuma

Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai

November 21, 2010

When you think of hilarious parodies of TV genres, you think of Excel Saga. But if you add adventure of its parallel worlds into that, then you’d get Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai (Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi). This is quite an old show (in my opinion) and is from the year 2002. Might not seem very far but if you have been watching animes on a regular basis, you can tell the obvious difference and quality of it now and then.

What is this anime about? Set in the shopping arcade called Abenobashi in Osaka, at first the cramp locations of the shops and the narrow maze-like alleys may bring to mind that this is some sort of a slum. Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Our main protagonists are a couple of 12 year old childhood friends, Satoshi “Sasshi” Imamiya whose family once used to run a bath house and Arumi Asahina whose family is currently running a restaurant called Grill Pelican. Due to some magic twist of fate, they are transported to other magical (some may call it nonsensical) worlds parallel to Abenobashi and that’s where the comedy of making fun of some of the TV genre comes from. Hold on to your seats because this is going to be one big (mis)adventure that will have you laughing so hard that your stomach hurts. Well, at least for most of the episodes.

As introduced in episode 1, Sasshi returns to Abenobashi and learns from Arumi that her family and their business are closing down and moving to Lake Akan in Hokkaido soon. They’re not the only occupants evacuating as many of the other inhabitants have also closed down and moved out due to some redevelopment thingy. The kids go back to Grill Pelican to see Arumi’s grandpa Masayuki AKA Masa and his French-talking son Tetsu AKA Papa, the former arguing that he is bent on staying and not close down. On the rooftop, Sasshi and Arumi talk about their grandma and grandpa respectively. They think grandma liked someone else before they got married. Next day, they continue on this and think Masa is staying because of his old crush. A hideous neighbourhood cross-dresser, Aki, happen to pass by so Arumi asks her straight about if there’s any shady relationship between Masa and Sasshi’s grandma. Sasshi ‘softens’ the question by asking if she knows if their houses are related like as in their positions. Aki brings them to Abeno Seimei shrine and tells them about the harmony of 4 gods from 4 directions: A turtle, bird, dragon and tiger. After realizing the locations of the sacred animals to some of the animal statues of the various locations in town, they realize the bird is Grill Pelican, supposed to be the last one left standing. They rush back to ask Masa. Masa is trying to shoo away a cat sleeping on the pelican statue when the old roof gives way. He hangs on for dear life. When the kids arrive, it was too late as Masa falls. Though Masa was hanging on the sign, the statue breaks when it hit the ground. Arumi faints. Masa is hospitalizes after landing on his hip with his family beside him. That night Sasshi woke up and is shocked to see a dragon flying outside his window. He tells this to Arumi the next day. She tells him Masa will be released in a week’s time and has given up on staying and will move with them to Hokkaido. Suddenly the people who are exercising in front of them turn into mushrooms! The panic kids make a run and realize the town flat! The town’s facade collapses to reveal a majestic castle linked by a rainbow with dragons flying all over it. Welcome to Abenobashi Sword and Sorcery Shopping Arcade.

Standing outside the castle gates in episode 2, Arumi thinks they’re in France and the castle a love hotel! After getting a surprise of seeing a talking mole, they see Papa as the king on a horse and Aki the queen. Aki gives them 800 gold coins as war funds to defeat the Great Evil Lord. Walking through the market, they hear the familiar voice of Mr Kouhei. He tells them they’re in Abenobashi Shopping Arcade. Otaku Sasshi is excited to buy all the weapons and armour for a bargain. However Arumi bumps into a hooded guy who sells her a magical key chain for 800 gold coins. Easy come easy go. Sasshi felt she’d been ripped-off. On their way, a weird sexy busty woman, Mune, appears and fights them RPG style. The mole shows onscreen RPG-like texts such as Sasshi losing health points. Eventually Sasshi ‘died’ so Arumi drags him back to the castle to resurrect him. She feels she has a hang of how things work here. Continuing their journey, they encounter Mune in several different forms. Each time Sasshi getting killed and Arumi taking him back for resurrection. Several times. He sucks in RPG. Finally in an attack, the duo get to know Mune’s weakness as snails (Arumi has them because she’s a French cook’s daughter). When Mune spots the key chain and learns where Arumi got it, she asks for directions for that hooded guy and off she goes. Entering the dungeon, Sasshi is faced with the Great Evil Lord. But he’s just running around like a loser. Arumi gives in to his pleas to use the key chain for help. Suddenly he is bestowed with a giant sword but as he strikes the final boss, the sword wobbles like jelly! The Great Evil Lord’s chest starts to expand and then explode! Soon he turns into a harmless cute little goblin. Since he is defeated and the game cleared, he allows the duo a wish. They want to return to the world they came from. After some chanting and magic ritual, the kids are teleported away. But they open their eyes to find themselves in a space colony just outside Saturn. Now, welcome to Abenobashi Great Milky Way Shopping Arcade.

Arumi is pissed that they’ve been deceived and will get her revenge if she ever sees that goblin again. In episode 3, they see a robot version of Kouhei and realize they’re in the Abenobashi Great Milky Way Shopping Arcade. Sasshi argues about gender equality that it’s Arumi’s turn to play the hero. She experiments a way to resurrect him by hitting him out to space with her harisen (paper fan). Sasshi saw the start and end of the universe before he came back to life! While taking a break, they spot a yellow goblin with Arumi’s panties on his head! WTF?! As they chase it, they come into the trio of Milky Way Federation Investigators, the sexy and scantily clad Abeno Angels: Mune, Aki (horrible!) and Sayaka (Sasshi’s sister). As Arumi tells the trio about her woes, Sasshi chases the goblin and bumps into the hooded guy peeping with his telescope into the sky. The Abeno Angels show a wanted poster of the hooded guy so when they learn Sasshi’s encounter with him, off they go. The goblin turns into a giant robot monster, Daimongar! Like we see in sentai shows, Sasshi and Arumi are whisked away into robot vehicles by mecha Papa and scientist Masa. They merge with 3 others (an alien, a dog and an old aunty. WTF?!) into a giant robot to fight the menace. They pull off fluke moves with elaborated made-up names to defeat it. Suddenly a ship crashes into the colony and it’s revealed the Abeno Angels turned into space pirates at night. Their day job not enough? The goblin seeps into Mune’s ship and merges with them to transform into a giant menacing mecha dragon. Sasshi with the guidance of Masa and Papa, uses the legendary power to merge his robot with the entire colony. A big bang battle is on the cards and since Arumi has been irked about getting her panties back (from the start), she charges straight in even if it means the destruction of the universe. Thankfully she got them back (after thoroughly washing them) and with the cheap and same moves made by the goblin, the duo manage to teleport away before the entire universe is destroyed! But Arumi is pissed once more that she has received the short end of the bargain because they end up in Chinatown.

They see Chinese Kouhei selling fake goods in episode 4. Mune is happy to see Sasshi and calls him her brother. She wants him to defeat the Golden Claw, which is Papa. And with Masa as Sasshi’s ‘father’, he learns Papa has killed his eldest son and stole their family doll treasure, a kyonshii (Chinese vampire). Papa challenges him to enter a combat tournament to avenge his death and will use the stolen doll as its prize. Mune makes Sasshi enter as a participant. As part of its condition, he has to buy lots of stuff. The contract is 2 weeks old and expired so he has to pay up before Aki. Otherwise taken to her master, Sasshi’s grandpa, Taro, to undergo special training. After a pathetic intro (getting beaten up by Arumi’s harisen), he unleashes a panda that will prepare him for his journey. Sasshi goes through weird training like scrubbing the panda’s back but at the end, he is over-muscular! Till Mune sinks her boobs into his face, he reverted to his normal scrawny self. On the day of the tournament, the duo meet the hooded guy who sells Sasshi Bruce Lee’s trademark yellow jump suit. Yeah, it only makes him feel strong. Since Papa and Sasshi are the only participants, the start is the final round! Sasshi takes a beating. He reflects on hooded guy’s words “If you gain confidence, your abilities tend to follow suit”. Suddenly his moves become slick and he turns into Bruce Lee! Pulling off his moves and making his trademark sounds! WooOOOoooOOO! Not only that, he gains the moves of Jacky Chan, Virtua Fighter and even that Dragonball character! Super Saiyan! Kamehame! Sasshi blasts Papa through the roof to claim victory. In the aftermath, Sasshi gives the doll to Arumi since he noticed she wanted it. However Mune steals its talisman since that is what she is after and couldn’t care less about the revenge crap. The kyonshii turns into a giant and wrecks havoc. It’s about to eat Sasshi and Arumi but Sasshi manages to but the talisman back on its forehead, returning it to its doll form. Then it turns into a 3-eye bottle goblin so the duo have him send them home for real. After the usual ritual, the duo find themselves in the prehistoric dinosaur ear. Should’ve known better than to trust that little thing, eh?

The dinosaurs seem cute (why is there an Ultraman monster here?) in episode 5. Sasshi seems knowledgeable about them though Arumi teases him as an otaku. They find a red baby Triceratops and decide to help look for its mother. Entering a prehistoric civilization led by the crazy autocratic Sayaka, she wants them to hand over the Triceratops as she deems it as a bad omen. She proceeds to do S&M whip-lashing on Taro and Sasshi’s dad, Arata, and use marks of the whips as signs of the ill premonition. Tarzan-like Mune swoops down to save the kids and escape on her Apatosaurus. On their escape, she tells them there is a person she wants to meet so the kids think it’s that hooded guy. Sayaka and her tribesmen give chase. Mune throws her boomerang but it returns and hits Sasshi. She’s happy with the fact it returned. All the tribesmen that threw their weapons seem to hit Sasshi only. He’s a magnet for bad luck. Then they all off a cliff, swept away by the river and over a waterfall. Sasshi and Arumi see the hooded guy inspecting the fossils. He introduces himself as Eutus. They make fun of his name. When he makes fun of the kids’ name, Arumi whacks him with her harisen. Eutus spots the Triceratops and goes off to make preparations. The kids see the pack of Triceratops and let the baby reunite with them. Sayaka catches up and points towards the sky. A meteor is going to crash and it seems the baby Triceratops is the marker. Seriously? Sayaka and her tribesmen fled in panic while Sasshi draws weird drawings on the ground in hopes the meteor will stop?! Or plead somebody to save them at least. Mune is going to throw her boomerang at it but is stopped Eutus. He has prepared an offering table and wants Sasshi to hand over his most valuable possession he has now. He gives his handphone. Chanting some spell, Sasshi and Arumi are sent flying into the air, colliding with the meteor. They crash onto the ground as Eutus disappears. They see the little green goblin limping over and make him do the ritual to send them home. Thinking that they have never offered anything all the while, Arumi offers her handphone. But they end up in the dark cobblestone streets of Victorian London. Hard boiled…

Getting caught in the middle of a crossfire in episode 6, Sasshi is taken away by Arumi’s mom, Ayako of the Pelican Family. In their secret hideout, the boss, Masa recognizes Sasshi as the legendary sniper Rugolgo. Meanwhile Arumi has become part of the police force and the police chief Taro introduces her to her partners. Calling themselves the Abeno Angels, they are Mune and Sayaka as they drag Arumi to bust the Pelican Family. Sasshi learns snails have been banned and thanks to that, prices of it have soared. They’re doing good underground business but recently it’s getting tough due to Taro’s intervention. They want him to assassinate him and no other ways would do because they would’ve got an errand boy to do that if they wanted to. But Papa appears and claims Sasshi as the fake Rugolgo. I’m not sure if Sasshi’s pretty knowledgeable in weapons but his ranting on the type of gun Papa used isn’t suitable for sniping. And he’s right! They hold a shooting contest to determine who the real deal is. In a fluke shot, Sasshi hits the can. Papa fires like a machine gun but misses! Then he blows it up with a dynamite! Because of that, Masa acknowledges Papa as the real Rugolgo as something to do with being a pro! WTF?! Sasshi is shot and turned into a chibi self because the rational is such characters are comic relief and no one will take him seriously. WTF?!

The Abeno Angels decide to bust into the hideout by using Arumi as decoy and dress her up as a sultry stage singer. Singing and catching the attention of the men, the other Angels duo note that the big boss isn’t here (not referring to Masa). Papa spots them and flashily fires his machine gun. Some sniper. But all missed! Some sniper! It was enough for Sayaka to shoot him and turn him into a chibi guy. Then all hell breaks loose as the police bust in. Both sides exchange fire and those who get shot become chibi?! Doesn’t anybody die here?! Mune enters a room upstairs to find the big boss, Eutus staring at the sky with his telescope. She has been wanting to see him but he talks about humans’ fate can’t be changed. As he leaves, Mune shoots him and turns him chibi. He encounters Arumi looking for Sasshi amidst the chaos. She tells him about the goblin cutting corners, thus the reason why they can’t get home. However Eutus refutes that if it was so, they would’ve remained in the same world. He concludes it’s because they don’t want to go home. Speaking of Sasshi, he crashes into Eutus. He is pissed and decides to do the sending-home ritual himself. Before they teleport, Arumi finds out that Sasshi doesn’t really want to return home because if they do, Arumi will leave for Hokkaido. But she says of the troubles they’ve been through and her wish to go back to the world where everyone is normal. Sasshi agrees as they begin to teleport.

Episode 7 is a flashback during the time Masa was hospitalized. He thinks back 45 years ago when Abenobashi Shopping Arcade was non-existent and he still had hair over his head. Back then, Masa was trying to court Mune, a schoolgirl whose family runs a bath house in the south of the area. Try as he might ranting about opening his own French restaurant and starting a family, Mune only had eyes for Abe Seimei (Eutus) who was the urban planning specialist. His job was to redevelop the entire area into a shopping area. Masa also works under Abe to help him build the desired town. Mune is shown the blueprint of it and I don’t understand Abe’s gibberish about putting 4 sacred beasts across town for balance and security. Sounds like a yin-yang master. Masa tries to get a bank loan but the grim old officer denies him. Remembering Abe’s words to use his card if he’s in a pinch, he shows the officer Abe’s name card. The card starts glowing and the officer made a total u-turn, begging Masa to borrow money. As Masa continues to work hard and place the sacred animals as Abe instructed, he began to notice Mune’s feelings for Abe. He becomes depressed, lonely and broke. One day as he heads home, he sees the shoes of Abe and Mune outside the room so he runs away after thinking his worse fears has come true. He sinks further into depression, jealousy, getting drunk and in a dilemma. At his limit, one night he calls Abe to meet him but has the intention to stab him with a kitchen knife. But Abe knew something isn’t right and notes himself as powerless after all that the world won’t go the way he wants to. After saying he doesn’t want to lose anyone anymore, Abe walks away leaving Masa standing there stunned. The next day Abe disappeared mysteriously. Masa tried contacting the municipal council but they knew no such person. Pregnant Mune frantically searches for Abe but was futile. She never saw him again. Masa went on to marry another woman, Gin, opened his own Grill Pelican restaurant, get married, have a son and ultimately lived through Gin’s demise. Back in present, Masa wonders if Abe has been reborn.

Back to the story proper in episode 8. It seems the kids didn’t return to their original Abenobashi. It’s a high school love comedy harem setting! Tokimeki Campus Abenobashi! A cute girl Amiryun bumps into Sasshi on her way to school. Mune is the sexy school nurse but why is Arumi a chibi version and always being chased by a rooster wearing sunglasses?! Typical love sim-like moments that will cause Sasshi the typical perverted guy craving into his carnal desires and Arumi the jealous girl. Like Amiryun and Sasshi annoyingly try to share a textbook (is this an all-girls school?) and trying to get bread from Kouhei the canteen guy. Sasshi gives his bread to Shiotan, a girl who seems to be looking for her Pocchi. As usual, no jealousy from Amiryun and though she’s sad, she’s not bothered. But Arumi is bloody pissed at all this. Realizing a horn on Arumi’s head, they think she’s a goblin here and went to do that teleporting ritual. However they end up in the same world and Sayaka a high school girl with onii-chan complex (Sister Princess parody as she calls Sasshi different ways of calling ‘brother’). Arumi’s blood is really boiling. Sasshi and Shiotan are going out on a date so Arumi is hell bent on wrecking this world. She summons Freddy Krueger (Papa) and Jason of Friday the 13th (Masa) to teach that perverted kid a lesson. But I don’t know why Sasshi was so scared watching a movie with Shiotan that his precise evasion of their attacks causes them to break their own bones. Arumi gets slammed by another monster she summoned. Then she uses the satellite laser to fire on the duo at the riverbank and I don’t know why either Masa’s forehead was there to reflect the lasers back to Arumi.

Though Sasshi fainted, he wakes up in the infirmary with Shiotan and Mune very relieved. He too has a legion of fan girls outside because Shiotan told them how he was Superman and saved the world. WTF?! Arumi tries to snipe outside but some girl keeps dropping things on her (pots, tables and blackboard?). I guess Arumi has had enough and sick of this world so I guess her tears was enough for Sasshi to agree to return to their world. He mentions about the Confession Tree he is supposed to meet with Shiotan after school. Thinking that the game will be cleared like in most dating sims, the goblin may appear then. As Sasshi is about to meet Shiotan, Amiryun bumps into him and bids him farewell. She reveals herself as an android that has to go back to heaven. Sasshi has fallen for Amiryun and regrets he should’ve taken her route and wishes to Arumi if they could redo it a little for this world. Now Arumi is so mad that she turns into a giant monster and goes on a rampage. She uproots the Confession Tree as all the girls in this world disappear. As Arumi runs away in tears, Eutus appears before Sasshi. He wants him to study science under his tutelage. With nothing else to do, Sasshi agrees and follows him to his place while Eutus spews the tip of the iceberg on linked fates and scientific elements. Erm… What? Say that again?

Eutus and Sasshi are travelling within some time-space link thingy in episode 9. I’m as stupid as Sasshi so I don’t understand what Eutus is saying about locus between karmic bodies. In short, they’re still in Abenobashi no matter how they travel. Suddenly they find themselves in a jungle and horns grow out of Sasshi’s forehead. Something about his fate not linked to this world. Riding a helicopter, Sasshi realizes below that it is feudal era Kyoto! Eutus’ home seems to have modern day amenities and he is doing what normal present people do. Drink beer, watch TV, etc. Where to get electricity? Some chi thing he says. Besides he is what is called Onmyou in this era (something akin to a scientist). After revealing himself to be the legendary Abe Seimei, Eutus seems to know lots about Sasshi and Arumi’s family. He points out that Mune is Sasshi’s grandma. He also tells of his past how he was travelling as an Onmyou for 20 years. When he came back to his homeland at Abeno, only his childhood friend Masa recognized him and warmly welcomed him home. Masa had a wife, Mune. Eutus became her confidant and in time they fall in love with each other. Ridiculous rumours of Eutus started surfacing in court and one day Eutus came home to find jealous Masa has stabbed Mune and then shortly killed himself. In grief, he decided to bring them both back to life via some ultimate technique ritual. Some gibberish about twisting upcoming realities to avoid bad things happening and properly following orderly linkage of fates so you can’t wander easily into nonsensical worlds. The ritual was successful and Eutus appeared in a different world (flashback in episode 7) where Masa and Mune are alive but not together. Unlike him who has suddenly appeared, Masa and Mune are residents of this world.

But this doesn’t explain how Sasshi and Arumi ended up in parallel worlds (beside his otaku fetishes). Eutus tells him straight that Masa died back then when he fell from the roof (the pelican statue was the one hanging on the sign). As long Sasshi is unable to accept the reality of Masa’s death, he is unable to return. Sasshi starts breaking down, turning hysterical and throwing fits. He is desperate for Eutus to tell of any way to avoid this there isn’t. Meanwhile Arumi wakes up in some custodian room in a decimated place of Abeno and is back to her normal size. When Sasshi has calmed down, Eutus tells him to learn and become and Onmyou and decide for himself to return or not as Arumi and Masa’s fate will be in his hands. He thinks he has potential to do so as he ended up in such a predicament. Next day, Eutus throws him an Onmyou training kit while he goes off to do his exorcism job. Cheapskate! Do it yourself, man! Sasshi isn’t happy that he’s cutting corners and bugs him to teach him properly. Some tutelage that was.

Bored Arumi watches the TV in episode 10 and surprisingly sees Sasshi on screen in a traditional priest outfit. They’re able to interact with each other. He summons a goblin to her in which it teleports Arumi to where Sasshi is: A fairytale amusement park named Sasshiland! Lots of sexy babes offering Arumi 1 year worth of goods. Computers, cars, etc. WTF?! She’s not happy but Sasshi thought she’d be happy if he did all that. It’s not the materialistic wealth lah. Walking through the weird town filled with animals and creatures (Kouhei in a bunny suit?), Arumi is whisked away in a pumpkin carriage. Via a TV inside it, Sasshi tells her he is going to make her have tons of fun here. He goes on ranting that he has an Onmyou mystic licence to cast magic and go to other worlds via hitogata (little paper humans). Arumi isn’t interested in all that crap (that includes bragging about his clothes) and just wants to return home. Arumi is then pulled out of the carriage by stepmother Mune and you can guess Arumi is going to be poor Cinderella. While Sasshi consults his Onmyou book, a hitogata escaped and ventured into town. It takes a form of a teddy bear and turns itself giant size. Meanwhile Masa as the hideous fairy godmother wants Cinderella Arumi to go to the ball but she’s not interested so Masa goes home. Sasshi comes as the prince and wants her to do so or else the plot won’t move. As they argue, the giant teddy stomps on Sasshi and goes on a rampage over the town. Sasshi looks up his kit but couldn’t find the answer so in his panic he calls the Onmyou support hotline! Too bad he doesn’t have the serial number with him which was on the box of the kit he threw away. Bummer.

Sasshi materializes a hitogata into a magical pet, Henyasuke (a crazy looking a sounding version of Card Captor Sakura’s Kero). Henyasuke forces Arumi to become a magical girl complete with her own outfit and transformation scene. With embarrassing chant lines and spells, they cage the teddy but it breaks free and grows bigger. Arumi gets whacked by it. Sasshi has finally found the answer: There is no answer! But he decides to do something as he summons all his hitogata and turns them into little green goblins to draw and do up that teleporting ritual and send the teddy away. Sasshi and Arumi appear in a void space. With everything over, Arumi pleads to go back to their original world. Sasshi couldn’t mention the other reason he doesn’t want to go back so Arumi politely says that they can’t change fate. He agrees and off they jump once more. During the journey, Arumi felt this deja vu and to her horror, Sasshi is still bent on going to his crazy fantasy worlds! As they argue, Arumi shockingly pulls out weird stuff from his head (an indication that’s all he ever thinks?). Missiles fire out from his head towards her as he doesn’t want her peeking into his head.

It’s war between Turtle Bath Army and Pelican Army in episode 11. The Abenobashi district has been turned into a decimated war zone! Private Sasshi has been made to run around to relay a message of the enemy’s tank assembling in front of Wakaba Cigarette Shop to Major Sayaka, Major General Taro, Colonel Mitsuyo (Sasshi’s mom) and General Mune. Note his long posting title each time everyone tries to repeat it! Poor Sasshi gets bombed everywhere he goes. Meanwhile General Masa, Papa and Arumi plan their assault on Turtle Bath Army. Kouhei tries to sell stuff to Sasshi and all the army boys are waiting in baited breath for a sexy singer as motivation. Turns out to be Aki acting as Marilyn Monroe. They’re so dead even before going out to war! They pack her up as hazardous material and send her away! Sayaka takes Sasshi to the front lines (via her reckless riding) and encounter Arumi and Papa’s tank army. Due to Papa’s bad joke about Arumi’s boobs, Arumi goes on a rage and starts her tank assault. Sayaka leaves Sasshi to sacrifice himself. Though he gets blasted, he manages to radio for artillery power and it results in Pelican Army’s failed blitzkrieg and Papa got KIA. Sasshi is promoted to sergeant and is ordered to lead a group of bomber planes to bomb the enemy’s Pearl Barber (?!). Closing in on the target, Sasshi spots a rare dog figurine and his otakuness has him change target and causes the entire fleet to crash. This was all part of Arumi’s plan because he knows that idiot well. Turtle Bath Army’s surprise attack fails and Sayaka is KIA.

Ironically Sasshi is promoted to captain due to diminishing men. WTF?! Masa turns his base into a giant ship for a final assault on Turtle Bath Army’s planes. He calls Mune and wants her to surrender (after that joke about wanting to marry her) but she refuses and calls him stupid. Oh, now he’s mad. Mune changes her base into a giant cannon artillery and fires away but it destroys everything. Taro and Mitsuyo are KIA. Mune and Sasshi are the only ones left as she strips herself and changes into Rambo and charges into the enemy’s base blindly, dragging Sasshi along. In the end, Sasshi carries her out and a tearful farewell speech of wanting to see that person and she believes in him before Mune dies. He buries her and notes how everything was rough and that there’s no place like home. Arumi pops out from the rubble and points out what he just said. She adds moving to Hokkaido doesn’t mean they’ll never see each other again. Plus, it’s better to live in good health in their own world rather than keep wandering from one stupid world to another. Sasshi gets his confidence to go back and believes he will jump to a world where Masa is still alive.

Sasshi has to wish right this time in episode 12 because if he doesn’t, he knows what’s good for him courtesy of Arumi. I don’t know why they teleported back to their original world naked but soon got their clothes back (must be some parody from Terminator because Sasshi was trying to force a bunch of thugs to give him their clothes). Entering Grill Pelican, they find Masa and Ayako in mono-colour speaking in a weird tone and the scene is like from a B&W movie. Suddenly Masa gets all lively and says his dream is to be a lumberjack and cut down trees. This prompts Arumi to suspect that this must be another one of Sasshi’s stupid fantasies. They meet Kouhei as a rude punk hotdog seller. He’s using the “f*cking” word in every sentence! OMFG! They also meet the cheerleading trio of Mune, Sayaka and Aki who tells the duo their parents want to see them. At the shrine, Arumi argues that this isn’t their own world and knows the family here isn’t her own due to their un-Osakan accent. She starts suspecting that there’s something Sasshi doesn’t want to tell her. He is adamant that nothing has happened. Suddenly Ayako’s head turns into an alien and swallows Arumi without Sasshi knowing because that kid just walked off! Sasshi gets the shock of his life when he finds the entire Abenobashi area to be a giant movie set. He realizes he is in a Hollywood movie world. Thinking back the wish he made, he realized he wished for something realistic and that Arumi is suffering.

Speaking of which, she is being cornered by zombies in the form of Masa, Papa and Ayako wanting to rip her clothes off. WTF?! Then the trio turn into recognizable Hollywood movie characters and hold her hostage atop a building (Towering Inferno parody) with Taro and his policemen surrounding it below. Sasshi decides to go save Arumi and summons Aki (Robocop with tits?) to take him there. They are being chased by a truck so Aki merges with Mune and Sayaka into Knight Rider (car with tits?) to take him there faster. Crashing into the building where Arumi is held hostage, Sasshi dresses as Indiana Jones and starts whipping. Aside from hitting Arumi, Masa shoots him (for Matrix’s bullet time effect) and I don’t know why but Sayaka is poking Sasshi’s butt. Then a twister with Jaws threatens them all. So everyone starts throwing oxygen tanks and shoot it. But Jaws crashes into the building as everyone clings for dear life on the sinking block (like Titanic). Sasshi and Arumi fall off so the girl says how she’s really flying (like that iconic scene in Titanic) when she’s actually falling! They drop into Air Force One plane which is being hijacked by naked terrorists Mune, Aki and Sayaka. Using recycled actors is getting old. Anyway their random firing causes the plane to crash. Then on land, Masa did some weird human carriage thingy to send Sasshi and Arumi home like you see in Back To The Future. However they find themselves still in this Hollywood fantasy. Then Arata appears and wants Sasshi to hurry home for dinner.

In a mini theatre room in episode 13, Arumi talks about moving to Hokkaido and her dream of going to New York and space (besides that space colony farce episode). Arata comes in to tell them it’s time for dinner and Mitsuyo is keeping vigil. Not wanting to let Arumi know Masa is dead, Sasshi hurriedly whisk dad away. Arata seems to know of Eutus and says he is Sasshi’s real grandpa. Taro is just a stranger. He also knows of Sasshi’s fantasy adventure. Seems when Arata was young, Eutus popped out from his drawer and gave him that Onmyou kit. But he didn’t believe in all that crap. He wants Sasshi to return to reality but he isn’t ready so he takes Arumi and makes a run for it. Arriving outside the real Abenobashi, however Sasshi says this isn’t their place because the shops they know aren’t here and it lacks everyone’s warmth and cheery kindness they know. Arata appears and chides Sasshi for being a kid because the only thing that will change is the imaginary in his head. He hints to Arumi that she’s an adult and will understand. Flashes of Masa’s fall goes through her mind so Sasshi quickly chants a spell to teleport them away. In a blank world (because Sasshi’s in a slump), Arumi’s memories of that tragic event is still fuzzy. Suddenly Mune appears in a sexy lingerie. The usual antics and teasing. But Sasshi gets serious and calls her full name: Mune Imamiya. He tells her straight that he is her grandson though she doesn’t believe it. All the worlds they’ve been through and the people he knew are those from his head. He doesn’t know how Mune looks like when she was young she can’t be making her up. In other words, this is a world of bitter regret that the wandering soul of Mune created. Since he has Onmyou powers, he wants to help her rest in peace. She mocks him for being a kid so Sasshi gets upset. Then Mune gets all emotional and hugs him, wanting to meet Eutus 1 more time. He agrees to help her and since she hints of wanting to do ‘that’ when she meets him, Sasshi gets flustered so she teases him and not to worry about her but his girlfriend instead.

Arumi and Sasshi are walking back through the empty space. Sasshi apologizes to her but she extends her hand and wants them to return to their Abenobashi. During the ritual, she thanks him and it hit him that she already knew Masa won’t be around if they went back. Sasshi blows his top because he feels like a kid and wants to make Arumi happy as he cares for her and orders Eutus to show his face. Eutus is summoned as while Sasshi is in unconscious state. He works his magic to see Sasshi’s true identity: Onmyou Minister Yasuchika. Realizing that’s how his fate is linked, Yasuchika awakens and does a spell. Returning back to the time when Masa is going to shoo away the cat from the pelican statue, Arumi and Sasshi were fast enough to arrive at Grill Pelican so when Masa spots the kids, he steps back down and thus avoided of him falling. The cat also casually left. In the end, Arumi tells Sasshi they aren’t moving to Hokkaido after all. Masa introduces Papa to an urban planning specialist, Abe and his secretary Muneko Muneyama (it’s Mune). Sasshi agrees that being human, having your health is most important.

I find this short old series to be quite enjoyable, especially the hilarious parodies. If this show was a little longer, I bet they’ll go through more worlds and make more parodies out of other themes like murder mystery, sports, western, slice-of-life, typical shonen and drama-romance. Apart from that, it was the mumbo-jumbo that Eutus talked that took away the fun. I didn’t comprehend a big chunk of his explanation about parallel worlds and the likes. I was like scratching my head so hard and even replayed the scene several times just to understand but all that but I resigned myself to be as dumb as Sasshi and just enjoyed the mindless fun. So that guy is just wandering around through various worlds to find an ideal world of his own? It sure hinted that he was going to end up at the real Abenobashi again but this time with Mune. History repeating itself? But I’m sure glad that Mune finally gets to be with him and Masa is alive in the end. It’s odd to note that Eutus doesn’t like to be called ‘ossan’ (uncle). I mean, he doesn’t look that young, right? But I’m still wondering if Sasshi’s inner magic that caused him and Arumi to teleport to different worlds in the first place and the cause of it was triggered by the breaking of the pelican statue. I think just like any kid who doesn’t want to lose a loved one, it was Sasshi’s denial and reluctance to accept reality that caused all this mess.

I know the drawing and art may be old but I can’t help notice that in certain episodes the drawing becomes rather cartoonish and simple, usually during very comical parts and when all helter-skelter breaks loose. It’s quite obvious. Then there are quite a few frontal nudity though all you get to see is Sasshi’s ‘little buddy’. Sure viewers could see Arumi but at most it would be her naked butt, that’s all. Other than that, Mune and Sayaka provide much of the fanservice and Aki ‘neutralizing’ it all with her hideous cross-dressing. And though we’ve never seen the real Kouhei in the original Abenobashi, him being a trader tells us the kind of person he is in the real world, right? It’s quite fun to see the odd relationship between Sasshi and Arumi. Sasshi being the typical otaku, usually bears the painful end of Arumi’s harisen and her reasoning. It’s like they are a manzai comedy combo. If Sasshi isn’t at the receiving end of that, it will usually be some other stuff slamming into him and the likes. He’s such a comic relief guy and takes all the pain (except for that dating sim episode whereby Arumi bears it). You really got to love him. It’s funny to note that Sasshi is such an otaku and what does this tell you? Yeah, anime has influenced every inch of Japan! It’s amazing that Arumi is able to stand him. That’s what childhood friends are for.

As I have earlier mentioned the parodies, if your knowledge is good in the anime and Hollywood section, then you can spot tons of them in each episode. The next episode preview is also one of my favourite segments because it is anything about the preview of the next episode. All we hear is mainly Sasshi and Arumi ranting about DOING the next episode preview but due to silly circumstances like interruption of other characters or taking to long just to start, it always never gets done. Better time management next time, eh? Another odd thing is that as far as I know, this is the only series to do a next episode preview on the final episode. What do I mean? Okay, so it wasn’t much of a preview either but the scenes and title seem to refer back to the first episode! Back to square one? Odd. Yeah, that’s what this show is too.

Since the main characters are from the Osaka area, they speak quite a heavy accent of the Kansai dialect. Not that I’m knowledgeable of that dialect but the way they speak it’s pretty obvious. So when I found out that the seiyuu of Arumi is Yuki Matsuoka, she was so damn convincing in that accent that it didn’t cross my mind that this was the same lady who voiced Orihime in Bleach, Mako in Da Capo and Evangeline in Mahou Sensei Negima series. Thus when I said in my blog that the characters were speaking in weird accent, it was in reference to standard normal Japanese as opposed to their Kansai dialect. Keiji Fujiwara as Papa was also convincing as the smooth, groovy and soft-spoken (literally) guy who puts French words literally in every sentence of his (sometimes English or German). You can’t recognize him as Sven in Black Cat or Paul in Keroro Gunsou. Other casts include Tomo Saeki as Sasshi (Coo Erhard in Di Gi Charat series), Rikiya Koyama as Eutus (Kogarashi of Kamen No Maid Guy), Aya Hisakawa as Mune (Maya in Tenjou Tenge, Yuki in Fruits Basket), Akemi Okamura as Sayaka (Nami in One Piece) and a cameo appearance by Yui Horie as Amiryun. Both the opening and ending themes are sung by Megumi Hayashibara. The opening theme feels like rap and R&B so I didn’t quite like it. The ending theme sounds like a slow song from the old days. The animation here shows real still black and white photos of the Abenobashi district. Though there are a variety of background music. The main ones seem to feel like a carnival or circus. Perhaps it’s to reflect the crazy worlds the kids were in.

It’s natural for a human’s mind to venture into escapism when harsh reality sets in. That’s why we all have our own never-ending dreams and fantasies. If I was in Sasshi’s shoes I would do the same too. How often do we get to live and play out our deepest desires? But sometimes there is no harm in dreaming because it’s what we look forward and strive to achieve. That’s only half right. Because if you don’t wake up, that’s all you’ll ever do. One day, I know that I will have to completely stop watching my regular animes. NoooOOOoooOOOooOOO!!! I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen. Can somebody pinch me up from this dream? Or shall I go on? If you need me, you can find me at Anime Land…

Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai

To Love-Ru OVA

November 20, 2010

Finally. Oh finally. Although there were only 6 episodes in this silly romantic comedy To Love-Ru OVA, it took around a year for it for all its episodes to be released. I guess that’s the point of being sold via OVA. No specific time line so it keeps viewers and hardcore fans waiting. Really waiting. Then it took me around another half a year to finish watching it and I sure took my time too because I had lost a little interest but not completely. Still this short OVA series is worth a shot for those who have watched the TV series and need something a little extra. Or just curious to know what’s in store for that trouble magnet kid Rito.

For those who know this series, it’s about that Rito guy who has a secret crush on his classmate Haruna but due to some misfortunate turn of events, he ends up being the fiancee of Lala, the airhead daughter of the galaxy’s mightiest empire, the Deviluke. Rito gets into all sorts of trouble either due to Lala’s malfunctioning inventions or compromising position with the other female characters thrown into the mix. Oh yeah. He’s got it real tough for a normal boring Earthling kid. Hence the series’ title ‘Trouble’, as in ‘Toraburu’ which morphs to ‘To Love-Ru’. And yes, don’t forget the mandatory fanservice too. Since this is OVA, be prepared for the girls to bare their chest! Ready, set…

Episode 1
PE lessons. You know what that means when boys start gawking at the girls especially that loser Saruyama. Normal. Rito isn’t interested so he’s not normal. So maybe Saruyama has got too much crap when he shouts out men live for boobs and nothing but boobs. Probably his brain is filled with them. As the girls change in the room, Lala ponders about having beautiful boobs and asks Saki straight. That prideful girl strips in the middle of the hallway just to show Lala her prized and proportion-ful assets. Wait a minute. After all the time in the TV series, Lala didn’t think about this? Then she turns to Yami for her opinion. The tsundere girl pretends she’s not interested so later at the shoe area, I guess it piqued her interest as she transforms herself into a busty version just to try for size. So happens Rito was passing by and the first trouble of the series: Yami tries to kill him. As Lala invents some Pai-pai rocket to transform boobs into ideal size, Rito crashes into it and the next thing you know, Rito turns into a girl! Ulala!

Lala takes Rito home and shows it to Mikan. Now she has a sister, haha. There are several ways to turn him back into a boy. Invasive operation? Painful. Some pills? Would you swallow a bucket full of them every day? Compress his body to make it flat? How the heck did she even come up with that?! Mikan suggests to cool things down and take a bath. Well, since everyone in the house are girls, there’s no need to be shy, right? Not. Ironically, Rito is bloody ashamed of his new body and it is becoming bloody awkward. At least we know he isn’t a pervert. Then they try to make him wear girl clothes so Rito dashes out of the house. Along the way, he passes by Haruna and Oshizu but they can’t recognize him. Then in the busy streets, he starts getting those perverted glares from all those horny men wherever he goes. To make things worse, Saruyama tries to hit on him! Wait, that’s not even half bad. Some stranger even comes up to Rito and proposes they get married this instant! Instant rejection! To top it up, he has to bump into that perverted Kouchou who wants Rito to enrol in his school because ‘she’ is so damn cute. Probably Kouchou’s shocking kiss knocked him out. If not for Saki and her underlings, who knows what that dirty old man could’ve done.

Rito wakes up in Saki’s luxurious mansion as she wishes to get along with Rito. Because he heard how she has had enough of stupid Rito and Lala, he can’t possibly let his identity revealed so he bluffs his name as Riko and has some sort of amnesia due to that horrifying experience from Kouchou. Saki vows to take care of Rito till he recovers his memories. Meanwhile Haruna and Oshizu learn from Mikan that Rito turned into a girl. Lala has completed an invention that will turn Rito back as she goes out to find him. After Rito is being treated to a sumptuous luxurious dinner, he dreads this time of bathing together. Rito starts panicking that he may never return to his normal form and all those wild fantasies of living a life as a girl flow through his head. Suddenly Rito’s boobs grow bigger than usual. Too big! Then flat. Then large again. Saki and her underlings start to get confuse of what they see. That’s when Lala barge in and fires her bazooka at him. A direct hit and Rito changes back to his true form. But he’s not out of the woods yet because Saki and her underlings realize they’ve been had and starts shooting their machine guns at him! Hey, how do minors get hold of those arms? What the heck, Saki’s filthy rich.

Episode 2
A flashback of how young Rito and Mikan made a snowman and then had a snowball fight. That time, Mikan called Rito ‘onii-chan’ instead of his first name. Back in reality, Lala tries to feed Rito with her spicy shaved ice. Now that’s hot and cold together. Later Lala and Rito cause their usual nuisance around the house. Lala in naked apron, Rito too busy watching TV to answer the phone, Rito tripped and spilled a bucket of water, Lala added some detergent to that causes some demonic reaction and messes up the whole place, Rito accidentally got his hands on Mikan’s bra (from the washing machine explosion. Because of that, Mikan blows her top. Later Rito decides to go apologize. However he did a fatal mistake by not knocking her door. Yup, she was changing. Once she’s done, now it’s her turn to run out of the house. Rito and Lala go chase after her. While Mikan walks through the busy streets, she sees a pharmacy mascot statue and remembers the time how she wanted it so much that Rito pleaded to the shopkeeper to sell it to them although it wasn’t for sale.

Meanwhile Rito and Lala encounter Saki and her underlings in bikini as they’re trying to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her family group’s shopping mall. Is this fanservice for promotion? When the duo ask if they’ve seen Mikan, Saki mistakenly things they’re searching for tangerine (that’s what Mikan’s name means) and points to them that ‘Mikan’ is inside the mall, in which they also meet Yui. Of course she won’t let it pass this easily and challenges them to a duel. Elsewhere, Mikan is sitting alone in front of the train station when Yami spots her. They talk about stuff like loneliness and such. They happen to see Haruna taking her dog Maron out for a walk.

The challenge seems to be a barbeque battle. Guess who has to taste them? Yup, Rito. Guess whose tastes better? Yup, neither. Saki’s too salty and too much pepper while Lala is too spicy. Then things go out of control like Rito accidentally having his hands on Yui’s boobs and the spraying of mayonnaise on the girls and finally Rito’s accidental violation of Saki. Saki has had enough and proceeds to hand over the tangerine. Obviously not what they’re looking for. As they continue to search, Rito bumps into Haruna. They tell each other what happened so Rito thanks her and rushes off and finally finds Mikan. Realizing he was really concerned about her, the siblings go on an outing together. Mikan teases him that maybe Haruna or Lala is in his heart. That evening at the park, Mikan drops the mother of bombshell: She is not related to Rito by blood! OMG! Fortunately, that was just a lie. Haha! Caught us all there. They start reminiscing the days where they made a snowman here. Lala and Peke are eavesdropping so they have this idea to use an invention of hers to make it snow. For once her invention didn’t go haywire and did more good. The siblings know it’s Lala (because of her obvious wagging Deviluke tail behind the bush) so they enjoy the rest of the day together. Lala also thinks how great it is to have siblings and wishes to go see Nana and Momo. Erm… I take that back what I said about Lala’s invention doing good. That’s because the news report reporting a freak snow storm descending the town into chaos that night. We all know who to blame…

Episode 3
Haruna wins a lottery for a vacation to a south island resort for 10 people. Since it’s only limited to girls, you can guess which girls will tag along to fill up those place. The usual Yami, Yui Oshizu and from Run to Mikado to Risa and Mio. On departure day, Haruna leaves Maron with Rito. Lala is having trouble what to pack so the house is scattered with all her inventions. Rito trips on 1 of them and causes his body to become lifeless while Maron turns into a bag. Mikan takes that doggy bag with her. The girls take a private plane to the resort island courtesy of Saki. Something about her own private island and this resort thingy is for them to try out as she wants to market the island. And you thought she was some kind soul. As for Run, she had to pull out last minute due to some photo shoot in the freezing mountains. When the girls touchdown and head to their huts, the doggy bag transforms back into Maron. As Lala explains that this might have been caused by an invention of hers that can change an animal skin into a bag without having to kill that animal. Of course Lala’s invention never goes right. But this isn’t just Maron. It’s actually Rito in Maron’s body. Too bad he can only bark so the girls can’t really understand what he’s trying to say.

So fanservice cue with the girls in their swimsuits and going about on what people normally do on the beach. Yeah, they even have their own music clip! Not one, but two consecutive music videos! That night, Haruna and Oshizu take a bath and lock Maron outside. I’m not sure what has gotten into Maron/Rito because when he got back in, he starts rummaging their luggage! When the girls come out of their bath, Maron/Rito starts acting naughty by jumping all over Oshizu. I didn’t know that dog was so perverted! He’s trying to pull off their panties?! WTF?! Is it really Rito doing that?! Wait a minute. He just realized he is in Maron’s body?! I thought he realized that earlier on? I just don’t get it. Next day, the fun continues. Play that music video again! Then everyone gets into the jacuzzi and Maron is invited too. Now he gets too much nose bleed after seeing the girls violate each other. Hey pal, just don’t look. Meanwhile Saruyama pays Rito a visit but he does not answer because his body is still lying on the floor. Lala thanks Haruna for this fun trip and Maron/Rito… It ends just like this? I just don’t get it.

Episode 4
It’s the RPG world! Haruna the heroine, Yui the fighter, Mikan the magician and Rito the gardener. WTF?! As they tackle some monsters, Mikan’s flopped magic has Yui’s top come loose. She takes it out on Rito. Who else. It seems a pair of twins are watching them as they note how Lala the princess is asleep and the great Demon Lord is Kyouko (remember that magical girl that solves everything but burning everything down? Yeah, it’s her). A short flashback of how it all happened. Rito thought he found a love letter in his shoebox. When he opened it, he is transported to some job change department led by clones of girls in Playboy bunny suits. Haruna, Yui and Mikan were also there as Rito thinks this is one of Lala’s weird inventions. After being given their character classes and mission to save Lala from the Demon Lord, in which they will be able to return to their original world.

Journeying into a casino, they see Risa and Mio having the time of their life there. More misunderstanding situation and painful consequences for Rito. Then looking for a place to stay, they meet Mikado as the clinic-cum-innkeeper. After the girls have their bath, Rito decides to sleep in the hallway to separate himself from the girls (he’s been in this trouble for so long so I guess he knows what’s best). Haruna and Yui give him their blankets. That night, Rito gets a wakeup call from Kyouko in a skimpy outfit. Seems she can’t wait so she decides to speed things up. Letting him know of Lala’s position, she throws him a deal. If he abandons Lala and becomes her boyfriend, she’ll allow everyone to return to their original world. She then causes an explosion as the watching twins wonders if there’s something wrong with the programme. Kyouko warps them all to her castle. Making their way and facing strong monsters (Yami saves them and joins them at this point) and some farcical ones (like Saki and co – is magic here only able to undo one’s top?), they finally reach Kyouko’s main room where Lala is sleeping. She wants him to choose between her or Lala. Or is there someone else in his heart, says she. Rito says he loves Lala though he’s not sure if this feeling could be called love. Lala wakes up and understood as she says she has loved him always. Hearing his true feelings was enough.

Kyouko isn’t happy with the turn of events so she decides to make it game over to have them start everything over again. She starts burning everything. Upon listening to twins’ advice, Rito lifts his water can to extinguish the flames and purify the world. So that’s how the final boss is defeated. Then twins reveal to be Nana and Momo, Lala’s little sisters. Seems it was them who created this world as they wanted to know more about Earthlings as well as Rito. They realize the many friends Lala has made. As they’re going to return to their original world, the twins realize the remote is missing. The world starts crumbling (and their clothes too). It’s Kyouko and she’s back with a vengeance. The remote is in her hands. The twins summon a giant Maron (he’s talking!) and a carnivorous plant to defeat Kyouko. As everyone return to their original world, Rito wonders why Nana and Momo are living with him too. One pink airhead isn’t enough, how about three? Trouble just keeps multiplying, eh?

Episode 5
Rito wakes up one morning to find Momo sleeping with him. I should’ve seen this coming. Mikan came in. Nana isn’t happy with that beast and to make things worse, Momo said about doing ‘something’ last night. Whatever that was, Rito don’t remember doing it. Good news or bad news? Even if they’re twins, they sure have different personalities. Momo loves him, Nana hates him. The twins follow Rito and Lala to school and observe the kind of guy he is. Well, Lala is sticking like a leech to him and Rito gets into lots of his usual compromising position troubles. Deja vu, deja vu. Yeah, why does it seem all the girls are always flocking around him like it’s some sort of harem? Isn’t this show? Nana concludes he’s an idiot but Momo thinks he hasn’t shown his true strength yet. In order to make him do that, they summon a giant boar and tree to cause danger but all he got was trouble and no super power like they expected. While discussing that Rito may know they’ve been tailing him and reluctant to show his hidden powers, the twins get into a little argument by pulling each other’s tail (Deviluke people easily get weak at the mere touch of their tail).

The gang invite the twins for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) but Momo refuses their offer saying they have something else in mind whereas it’s an excuse to make Rito show his true self. As the usual gang meet up under the sakura tree, the twins unleash a fir tree, Sugitani, who starts blowing spores to the gang. Oddly, all the girls start to act horny! If this is really their true self, man, this must be some sick suppressed feelings they have all the while! Haruna, Yui and Mikan are acting so weird that you can’t possibly think they’re drunk or blame lolicon people for wanting to rape them. Rito and Lala are their usual behaviour simply because that’s how they’ve always been. It’s getting crazy and out of control when Yami wants to undress everyone and Oshizu is already sleeping naked! What’s this?! A yuri scene between Haruna and Mikan? Well, more like Oshizu possessing Haruna’s body. As for Run, she’s kissing anybody she can get her hands on!

The twins have Sugitani spread more of its spores but it creates more havoc. Lala being the airhead thinks everybody is really having fun. Ah, happy people dancing merrily. Nana orders to spread more but the wind blows it back so Sugitani got affected by his own spores and turns violent. So that’s the tree’s true form? Such a violent tree. It grabs Nana and Momo followed by Lala. Yami starts slashing randomly and 1 of her slash made Sugitani to drop Nana. Rito rushes over to save her from her fall. From her body reaction, you can tell she’s starting to fall for him. Too bad she’s the tsundere type too. Then using Momo’s dropped dialler, they free the rest and vanish Sugitani. While everyone else is knocked out (their happy smiling faces seem to indicate a good thing that they won’t remember this embarrassing incident), Nana thanks Rito. That night back home, Nana tries to sneak in and sleep with Rito. But to her horror she sees naked Lala and Momo sleeping with him so she blows her top. Haha! They’ve beaten her! So now all 3 sisters like him, eh?

Episode 6
Yui is reprimanding a delinquent for his dressing but he doesn’t listen. So when Yami tells her to give up, he insults her that includes being a flat chest. Yami cuts everything, the delinquent’s clothes and hair, the locker and unknown to Yui, her panties. I don’t know but it took Yui some time to notice that her panty is gone. Must be the breeze. Her mind starts going wild if all her friends see her without one. Imagine what they’ll think. So in her search for her panties, she has to meet all those people. Yui gets very jumpy when Haruna talks to her, barely escapes the molestation from Momo and Risa, coincidentally meeting Rito at the corridors with opened windows. Luckily Rito is distracted by Lala’s call that she found some cute dog so even if the breeze blows her skirt up, she’s literally safe. Going back to the locker area, she thinks Kouchou may have taken her panties since he’s saying ambiguous words. Yeah, he’s digging in the pan (bread). Geddit? Pan and pantsu. At the hallway outside, Yui sees the dog (ugly if you ask me) with Rito and Lala. The dog spots Oshizu and goes up to her. Oshizu starts panicking that her screams crack glasses and sent lots of things flying. Which means there’s a breeze, right? And so happen Rito finally saw what is underneath Yui’s skirt before getting knocked out by the flying kettle. In the aftermath, seems Yami had Yui’s panties but didn’t get the chance to return it to her while a very embarrassed Yui thinks of making Rito take responsibility.

In the next part, after buying groceries, Mikan spots Peke observing the public to collect data for Lala’s new clothes. Suddenly a robber steals her bag which contains her wallet. In order to chase him down, Peke transforms onto Mikan as her clothes as they fly and search for the perpetrator. Mikan is super embarrassed in the outfit though he has no choice. They manage to find and arrest him and in the struggle pulled off his disguise to reveal his identity as an alien. The alien escapes and at a safe distance, he rummages through Mikan’s bag but is taken aback when he sees Yami. Well, actually it’s Mikan in Yami’s clothes. He knows she’s a fake since the legendary assassin has blonde hair. He is going to get back to her for scaring him as he now turns into a pervert and is going to pound on helpless Mikan. Thankfully she is saved when Rito kicks him away. But he’s not out yet as he takes out his ray gun. He fires but misses. It destroys the telecommunication tower! It would be bad if it really hit them. The alien is finally knocked out when the real Yami appears. In the aftermath, they just let him by the road side since Mikan has got back what she wanted and to let Zastin handle the rest. Yami is happy with Mikan because she notes that they are dressed the same.

The final part sees Rito visiting Lala’s bedroom-cum-lab. He accidentally picks up one of her inventions. As usual it goes wrong and the shock has him grab Lala’s tail. The thing is, his hands can’t come off. What is that feeling when you grab a Deviluke’s tail… Of course when Mikan hears those ambiguous lines, she thinks her brother is doing shady stuff with Lala in broad daylight. As explained by Peke, the item creates a strong magnetic field with a binding effect on anything it touches. He notes that it will eventually wear off. So Rito, until then you have to be gentle and handle it with care. Momo decides to help out and do some research to free Rito’s hand. So in the mean time, they have to be stuck together. From going to toilet (why is Lala so embarrassed now?), having dinner (they got clumsy and spill food), bathing (another clumsy moment so much so naked Lala landed on Rito and Nana misinterprets what’s happening) and bedtime. Rito should’ve been used to Lala sneaking in to sleep with him but I guess he’s not. Lala seems happy he spent the whole day with him and thinks it’s fine if they stay like this. Hell no! Of course she’s just joking. Morning comes and Rito hasn’t slept a wink! Too worried, eh? But at that point, the magnetism wears off so he becomes energetic and happy about it. Momo apologizes she couldn’t find a solution but since it’s solve he doesn’t mind. I don’t remember who that little doll Celine is (don’t remember if she ever made her appearance in the TV series) because she touched that magnetic invention and the next thing Rito knows, Celine is stuck to his head. Here we go again. At this rate if we have more time, he’d probably get stuck with the rest of the other girls. Hey, everybody line up for your turn.

Still troubled…
Oh, it’s already done? Yeah well since it was a short ride I guess it’s okay. The fun and silly antics are still there though if you’re hoping for any breakthrough in the main storyline or plot, you’d definitely be disappointed since it hasn’t gone anywhere. Oh wait. Was there really a plot in the TV series? Erm… Rito did go up against Gid, Lala’s dad and king of the Deviluke Empire but that’s about it. Romance wise? Lala, Haruna or some of the other girls? Just like any other indecisive guys in a harem series, let things stay the way it is. An excuse for not choosing, eh? Not that it matters to me anymore anyway.

The thing which I never liked and was still present in some of the episodes of the OVA was the way it was left hanging. Some of the episodes in the TV series had an open ending which left viewers to interpret how it all ended, which I think wasn’t a good thing. Sure no doubt that this is a comedy genre but even so it is necessary to tie up some of the loose ends. For instance the part whereby Rito turned into Maron. How did he turn back into his normal self? Maybe just wait another few days, huh? Some of the episodes that were dedicated to certain characters like Mikan did add a little development and better understanding to the character. Otherwise the rest of the other characters typically remain the same like Kouchou’s pervertness (how did he ever end up being a school principal?), Yui’s tsundere and Saki’s arrogance. New characters like Nana and Momo are welcomed but old ones like Zastin and Gid didn’t even make their appearance at all. Not needed?

This time I didn’t find both the opening and ending themes appealing (Yattekoi! Daisuki and Apple Panic respectively). Sung by Haruka Tomatsu and Sayuri Yahagi, I find them somewhat a little annoying. Maybe it sounded too girlish. To add to the fanservice, I notice a ‘disturbing’ thing during the opening credits animation. While the girls of the series are walking, we see how their boobs bounce like as though they defy gravity! Are they made of jelly?! Except for Mikan because she’s flat chest (no offence). Even the female version of Rito has her chance to strut her stuff. One of the OVA episodes, they reuse the ending theme from the TV series, Lucky Tune. The only difference is that instead of Lala doing fanservice poses, we have the female version of Rito instead! Haha, I don’t know if we’re supposed to get turned on by that.

After the OVA ended, there was an announcement that a sequel to the TV series is in the works and currently on air. Wow. This series must be so popular that a sequel was inevitable, eh? And I thought I’m done with the series and ready to put it away in my dusty cabinet till that announcement came up. I can guess it will be more or less the same thing. Maybe more plot and character development. Maybe more fanservice. Maybe new characters and stuff. But one thing is for sure, Rito is going to get into more trouble. Much more than before if I should say. Hmm… I’m having this dilemma whether I should give the sequel a second shot due to some of the cons experienced during the TV series and OVAs. Oh, to watch or not to watch? That’s the trouble that’s bugging me.

To Love-Ru

Shinigami No Ballad

November 19, 2010

When you think of Death Gods and shinigamis in anime, Bleach comes to mind, right? Then there are others like Kuroshitsuji, Death Note, Full Moon Wo Sagashite and Zombie Loan to name a few. In the case of Shinigami No Ballad, a 6 episode OVA, shinigamis here are indeed the soul reapers they are. But they don’t unleash powerful moves to fight their enemies nor look scary. Instead in this drama and slice-of-life series, we have Momo a cute shinigami girl in white and her pet cat with bat wings, Daniel, going around in facilitating the inevitable event in life: Death. But Momo is no cruel little girl as her presence would give those whose time are nearly up hope and ease their suffering. Here are some of the lives she meddled with, erm, I mean touched.

Episode 1
Kouta Seto and Mai Makihara are close elementary school classmates and one day while walking home, they see a homeless kitten at the park. Mai decides to keep it knowing well her asthma problem. Kouta suggests putting it at the shrine. Mai hears the sound of bells but Kouta thinks it’s just her imagination. Mai and Kouta go to feed and tend the kitten at the shrine daily. So much so Kouta’s pal Takashi Saiki isn’t happy that the kid is more interested in reading books about cats rather than play football with the boys. He mocks him to go marry Mai if he likes her so much. During their usual tending at the shrine, Mai has difficulties breathing but luckily Kouta had his asthma kit to save her. Naming it Blue because of its eyes like the sky, they decide to be its ‘parents’. They leave hand-in-hand. This time another sound of the bell ring and Kouta too heard it. It is Momo and Daniel watching them.

At times, Kouta goes tend to the kitten alone. He even asks his mom if she could raise his allowance. Of course not. She thinks it is sufficient. One rainy day when Kouta forgot to do his homework, Saiki gladly lend him his. Because of that, probably Kouta felt indebted to accept Saiki’s offer to play against another class. Well, Saiki felt Kouta as the trump card. Kouta tells Mai about this so she doesn’t mind. After the match when Kouta gets home, Mai is tending to the kitten when she suddenly experiences breathing difficulty. She makes her way out of the shrine coughing non-stop.

Soon Mai’s mom calls Kouta’s mother since the former is worried that her daughter isn’t back yet. Kouta starts to fear the worse and rushes out in the rain and to the shrine. All he saw was the kitten and Mai’s handkerchief which she earlier left as blanket for the little feline. When Kouta rushes back, she sees the ambulance going away. Next day in school, a vase of flower sits on Mai’s table. Mai has passed away. After school, Kouta goes back to the shrine and takes the kitten with him. Putting it back at the park where it was first found, Kouta starts blaming it. Then he hears those bell sounds. It is Momo and Daniel, asking him back if he is saying that this entire thing isn’t his fault. Noting that the kitten will die if left in the rain, Kouta thinks he is seeing ghosts! After introducing herself as a shinigami (she even has a licence number! A-100100) and her job function, Kouta doesn’t care what will happen to the kitten. So Momo is going to take away its life. Before her scythe strikes, Kouta changes his mind and shields the kitten.

Momo explains she was here to collect Mai’s soul but the latter was reluctant as she feared Kouta would abandon the kitten if she were to go to heaven. Kouta feels he can’t do it alone when Mai’s soul appears. She believes he can save it, just like how he saved him. She thought by saving Blue, she could be strong like him and didn’t regret it. She wishes for him to take care of Blue before disappearing. Momo hugs Kouta and wishes him to do his best. As Kouta hugs Blue, Momo sheds several tears. Why? Because the dead can’t cry so she cries on their behalf.

Episode 2
Mitsuki Asano is floating in the school pool staring at the starry sky when he suddenly sees Momo and Daniel. She tells him he will die soon and wants him to live life to the fullest. He is also surprised to see his classmate Yutaka Fujishima at the pool. She tells him to get out quick because she has released a piranha in it! Why? Because she hates swimming and wants tomorrow’s class cancelled. Wow. Going to such lengths, eh? Next day at the science lab, Asano learns she got the piranha from her dad who loves rearing fish as a hobby. So technically her house is one big aquarium. They chat about stuff which made Fujishima burst into laughter.

That night as Asano lies in his sister Subaru’s room, Momo and Daniel appear once more. After flashing her shinigami licence card once more, Asano believes his time is near though Momo doesn’t tell him when. Momo however feels it is wrong for him to think he should’ve died rather than someone else since nobody can be replaced and it’s fate. Asano isn’t happy about this fate thingy because Subaru had such a bright future and a cheerful girl but was taken away so quickly. She replies fate is that which carries lives, it won’t change as long as you’re alive. As Momo and Daniel disappear, Asano wonders if he has seen her before long ago. A short flashback how Asano was at Subaru’s death bed when he was young.

Next day, Fujishima hints that she likes him and asks if he’d like to go anywhere for summer but Asano says that he will die soon. This causes her to be upset because it’s fine if he doesn’t like her but she thinks he’s making fun of her with such crude jokes. Fujishima rushes out as Asano sees Momo sitting on a table nearby. She wonders if he could tell her properly that he likes her. Insisting that he’ll die soon, Momo says that he isn’t the only one. Plus, she was asked to encourage him to do his best by Subaru. Asano decides to rest in the infirmary. So happen Fujishima is there too. She asserts that she likes him even if he hates her. After thinking back the times spent with her sister (something about how there are fishes in us humans, that’s why we like to swim. Huh?), Asano sneaks into the school pool and dives in. But he starts to drown. Luckily Fujishima was there to pull him out. She is scared to lose him and was willing to dive into the water she hated so much. He hugs her as she cries in his arms. Asano asserts he wants to live.

On the way home, they both talk about the shinigami girl. Since Fujishima notes that he wasn’t told the exact day when he’ll die, that makes them both the same. It made him realized that everyone lives knowing they’ll die someday and that they live by carrying their own lives. Then they both hear the sound of the bell. Asano remembers meeting Momo before. When Subaru passed away, Momo appeared before him to tell him that she’s taking his sister away. He wanted to come along but she insists he has to live his share of life. Asano notes to Subaru that he is fine. As they hold hands, Momo starts crying. Daniel teases her for being a cry-baby. Plus Daniel mentions about Momo’s habit about coming to people who aren’t scheduled to die yet. But she thinks nothing wrong of it. Next day in school, Asano notes a surgery scar on Fujishima’s chest and the latter decides to try out swimming after all.

Episode 3
Kantarou Ichihara decides to skip his supplementary class and go play a final RPG-like game to find a treasure left by his late grandpa. But he is stopped by his classmate and childhood friend, Tomato Fujiwara (yes, that’s her name) who was told by Kantarou’s mom to make sure he attends the class. Since he is adamant to go on his treasure hunt, Tomato joins him. A series of flashbacks show how Kantarou and grandpa love playing video games together. That old guy loves playing them so much because of the excitement and something one will only understand once you reach the end. While taking a train, Kantarou only hears the sound of the bell. He also sees a pair of young children: A boy and girl with red hair wearing a hat. While the train is waiting in transit, Kantarou and Tomato decide to step out for a while and admire the ocean and talk about the days they spent together when they were young and also his grandpa. Kantarou spots the same pair of children again at the pier but they soon disappear when he turns back.

They finally reach the village of Kantarou’s late grandpa. Smooth Tomato manages to rent a room by telling the innkeeper that they’re siblings who made a mistake while transferring to another train to visit their grandfather in the countryside. In the room, Kantarou sees those children playing marbles. The boy reminds him of his grandpa. He is snapped out of it when Tomato comes by. He remembers back then when grandpa told him when he saw a shinigami and described the beautiful shinigami that was Momo. He told him that the game will be over soon. That night when Kantarou couldn’t sleep, he tells Tomato about how his grandpa saw a shinigami before his death. Tomato thinks he was easily deceived. She also lets him know that she is moving away soon due to her parents’ circumstances. She continues that she isn’t as strong as everyone think she is. But she finds herself being relied on by everybody and had to go along with it. She wanted to depend on people sometimes. Kantarou knows she has been pretending to act strong all the while but notes she still tried her best alone. So she says she’ll rely on him a little and jokes of sleeping with him. Kantarou mentions how grandpa had a girl he really liked when he was young. She had hair as red as the setting sun. Though they promised to always be friends, they were separated. It seems like pieces of those memories are buried in his village and thus he came to find them.

The next day, the duo begin their search but with the simply drawn map, they’re not getting anywhere close. And they have to do it before sunset because they don’t have money for another night at the inn. Kantarou hears the bell sound and spots the children again. They chase after them and this leads them to a tree. Kantarou notices the boy as grandpa as a child. Digging at the root of a tree, it reveals a rusty box and inside it a pouch containing a beautiful marble and a note from grandpa saying the next thing for Kantarou to do is to find his own treasure. Kantarou tells Tomato that he’ll come visit her no matter how far they’re separated. It is revealed the pair of children is Momo and Daniel in disguise. As they watch the teenagers hold hands, Daniel thinks Momo is enjoying watching all this. Well, she did say this is a game.

Episode 4
Chiaki Kazama plays the role of a mother and makes breakfast for her dad and little brother Fuyuki. In class as she’s making a shopping list, the boy that she has a crush on, Nakayama, suggests her getting cheaper toilet rolls at the supermarket. He then notices a stain on her sleeve (due to this morning making breakfast). After buying the necessary stuff, her friend even knows she likes Nakayama but couldn’t be honest with her feelings. Though Chiaki tells her opinion about him, Nakayama is standing there and heard everything. Embarrassed Chiaki excuses herself. Back home, she is pretty particular about the stain on her sleeve when Fuyuki comes in and asks her what the heck is a shinigami. No, it’s not some game or manga character. In fact, the white haired girl and her cat are in his room playing with him! Gosh. What does that tell you? As he describes Momo and Daniel, this has Chiaki remember the time her late mom described the same thing to her on her deathbed. She entrusted the care of Fuyuki in her hands. That night right after bath, she got spooked by the sound of the bell (a cyclist happened to pass by) and a cat (he was trying to avoid it) so Chiaki goes to sleep with Fuyuki.

Next morning, she looks sickly. Probably why Fuyuki comments that her French toast isn’t as good as mommy’s. Developing a fever in class, Chiaki’s friend advises her to go home early. Nakayama offers to walk her home but she insists she can do it herself. Fuyuki is even called home early. They had a little quarrel on food so Chiaki couldn’t care less if Fuyuki wants to eat or not anymore. While Chiaki is sleeping, she hears the bell sound and rushes downstairs to see Fuyuki with Momo and Daniel. After learning the pair are the shinigami Fuyuki talked about yesterday, Chiaki gets defensive and pleads not to take away Fuyuki but they say they’re here just to babysits him. Shinigamis do that too? Thinking that they’re going to take her away since her illness may be some serious disease, they deny that too. Chiaki tires out.

As she is resting, she learns that shinigamis visit a house only when the feelings of a soul they carried away remain. In this case, her mom. Daniel actually babysit Fuyuki like accompanying him to brush his teeth and read a storybook till he fell asleep. Momo tells Fuyuki that the memories which were left over by her mom were actually with regards to Chiaki. She says not to rush herself too much since she’s trying her best to play the role of a dependent big sister. Chiaki starts dreaming as her mom teaches her to make delicious French toast. She says not to hurry to be like mommy and don’t have to push herself too hard. Chiaki sleep talks so Momo thinks she is calling her “mother”. Daniel teases her that she doesn’t even have a boyfriend yet so Momo pinches Daniel’s cheeks. Next day as Chiaki gets better and the siblings prepare to go to school, they see Nakayama outside. He is worried about her cold. She thanks him for everything. Fuyuki can read the atmosphere so he heads off first. Chiaki and Nakayama too head to school together holding hands.

Episode 5
A bunch of kids sneak into the school to investigate the rumoured ghost woman. They think they see one and run for their lives. Actually it’s just Eko Miyazawa in a white sheet. She decides to flee before the patrol comes but the sheet causes her to be stuck at the fence hole. She is ‘rescued’ by Kouta and Blue who happen to be patrolling the area. After hiding from the guards, Eko isn’t pleased Kouta accidentally got his hands on her boobs. However he says that there was ‘nothing’ there. This earns him 2 slaps. TWO SLAPS, baby! Saiki then comes running to them and is relieved Kouta isn’t caught. As Eko leaves when Kouta hears the sound of the bell. Kouta spots Momo and Daniel as they chat a little. However Saiki couldn’t see them so he starts to get scared when Kouta tells him straight he was talking to a shinigami. Eko remembers the time when her late sister managed to secure a dream of being a teacher. That night when Eko’s mom takes her to the lake filled with fireflies, Saiki happen to chance upon her. Eko and Saiki talk about the latter’s kimodameshi (test of courage) and wants him to stop it but he insists the ghost really did appear (Eko, who else). Then Saiki tells her how Kouta is able to see a shinigami ever since Mai passed away a year ago. Eko gets a little squeamish.

Next day, Eko requests Saiki to take her see Kouta. She wants him to hear her out. After knowing he can really see ghosts, she wants him to help her out by accompanying her into the school again. Apparently there’s a rumour that a female ghost is appearing and causing mischief at school. She thinks the ghost is her sister who was a teacher at that school. She isn’t happy with the bad rumours spreading about her doing bad things and tried to drive away kids who went there for kimodameshi but it didn’t work. She wants Kouta to see if he could prove that the ghost isn’t her sister. He refuses because the ghost may actually turn out to be his sister. She slaps him and they both trade insults. Eko tells him off that she doesn’t need his help so he wishes her luck and goes back to his football match.

Eko sneaks into the school that night and got her skirt stuck at the same fence hole. Luckily Kouta was there to help her out. As they patrol the halls, Kouta doesn’t feel anything. They hide from the patrolling guards as Kouta wonders why she is bothered by her sister rather than a ghost. She replies she has something she couldn’t tell her. Back then, Eko didn’t like to be compared to her sister who was better in lots of thinks. Though her sister tried to encourage her, Eko told her she hated her and wished she disappeared before she was born. On that fateful day itself, Eko died in an accident and as a result she hasn’t been able to smile. Kouta understand what she’s saying and relates his experience he had with Mai and the encounter with Momo.

As they continue searching (they’re both holding hands? I think to prevent them from getting lost), they see a firefly and follow it to the classroom of Eko’s sister. Eko sees her sister there and in tears goes up to her. She apologizes that she was jealous of her and didn’t hate her but rather herself. She still loves her. As the room is filled with fireflies, Eko’s sister thanks her before disappearing. Kouta sees Momo and Daniel as Momo rants about the radiance and beauty of the moon. Of course that kid doesn’t understand what she’s blabbing but thanks to her, he can see weird things. Momo apologizes but says those effect will fade once he grows up. Then noting the smile in Eko, the radiance that he couldn’t see in her has returned.

Episode 6
Sakura Kosakai notices something amiss but couldn’t put her finger on it. In school, she tries to buy her favourite katsudon dish from the vending machine but finds she can’t push the button. Some ‘lucky’ guy takes her free meal. Walking over to the music room, she hears the senpai she admires, Matsumoto, playing a lovely piece. She calls out to him but he ignores her. Thinking back, she remembers she was brought by her friend to confess to him but she saw him kissing another girl. Dejected, Sakura accidentally and unconsciously fell off the pedestrian bridge. Yeah, she’s dead. She rushes back to that spot and sees Momo and Daniel sitting there. After confirming them as shinigami, she really thinks she’s dead. How did she ever forget that? And that was just this morning. The duo are to take Sakura to the next world but she wishes to say her last farewell first. Returning home, noting that it has been 3 days since her death, she sees her mom and sister Mayume living their normal lives calmly, having normal conversation and not grieving. Sakura also sees her best friends Miyuki and Sawako cheerfully chatting away as though they never cared for her. Then at Matsumoto’s place, she hears him play another one of his beautiful pieces but she remembers that kissing incident.

That night, Sakura thinks her existence was insignificant since nobody showed they cared and everybody’s going around fine without her. Thinking she made the right choice, Momo wants her to look around a little bit more. Back at her own home, Sakura sees her family making Sakura’s katsudon portion in hopes she would return. Then Matsumoto comes by to give the family his piano recordings because he promised Sakura to do this previously. She also sees Miyuki and Sawako folding lots of paper cranes for Sakura’s sake. Sakura starts to get emotional and she realizes that she doesn’t want to die and carry on living even though she’s pathetic. Momo agrees. Wait a minute? Can shinigamis bring a dead soul back to life? Well actually, Sakura isn’t dead but lying in hospital in a coma. Due to some mistake, her soul went wandering around. Though Daniel did make some cheeky comments, Momo never did mention she died. Sakura’s body has just mild bruises so all that’s left is for her to go back into her body. Sakura thanks Momo for everything but notes that even though this is farewell for them, she will meet her again one day. Sakura opens her eyes to see her mom next beside her. She returns to school and doesn’t care for all the minor details because she’s glad to be alive. As it starts snowing, Momo sheds her usual tears. Daniel mentions Sakura would’ve eventually come back alive without her meddling. She says as long as the souls she carries have life, she wants them to continue living with all their might because peaceful souls are pure white like the snow and are extremely beautiful.

Touched by a Shinigami…
This series may be short but it is sweet. Though death is the main theme, it is subtle and the main focus here is the will to live. It makes you think about your own mortality and with such a short time on this planet, we must not wait until kingdom come and do something that we should have done. Otherwise we will regret it. I find Momo and Daniel to be odd as a pair of shinigamis. Because of shinigamis’ main duty to reap the souls of the dead, we don’t see Momo ever taking one here (at least not directly). Momo should be more fitted to be an angel instead given her meddling attitude to change the lives of those who do not see the reason to live anymore. But then again, she isn’t your usual shinigami. Even if those who face death, I’m sure with Momo around, they will go in peace rather than in fear. It’s also rather odd to see Momo crying for others since it gives an impression that she loves watching a good happy ending. Well, notice how all the episodes end on a good note rather than a grim death?

I realize that the main characters in focus for each episode are young people. In fact, all of them still in school. It goes to show that death discriminates no one. When your time is up, you go. No extensions, no shortening. Life can be tough and painful and times but death is certainly not the way out nor the answer to life challenges. I also noticed that in every episode (except the last episode), the main characters in that episode end up holding hands with their loved ones. So you see, you can’t be thinking about death, right?

The opening theme by KOY is called No One and this slow ballad is entirely in English. Though there are approximately 5 lines throughout the song, but the melancholic words give viewers a hint on what to expect from this show. “I cannot touch you, but I can kill you”. The ending theme is also by KOY, entitled White Messenger is another slow pop but this time in Japanese. Something about the voice acting about this series that I noticed. I seem to notice that a big chunk of the characters do not really sound like in agony, anguish or pain. The speeches here are like polite and calm and even if there are some circumstances like being afraid, it is rather mild. For instance, Eko’s slap felt and sounded more like a tap than anything else. Or when Momo pinched Daniel’s cheeks, the latter wasn’t squealling in pain but sounded soft and gentle remark instead. Probably that’s why in the title it has the word ‘ballad’ in them, eh? Slow and easy.

There is a 12 episode live action drama adaptation of this series but I didn’t watch it. As a total opposite of death themed animes like Jigoku Shoujo, death is portrayed via a gentle approach rather than a violent and vengeful one. Heck, having such a cute shinigami, who wouldn’t be tempted to go with death, if you know what I mean. If the world had more of Momo and Daniel, probably many of us would turn over a new leaf and live life to the fullest. We all take things for granted in life until we start losing them. We don’t know what is important or considered by others as precious till we face death itself. So now I have realized that I have to live my life and not waste any more precious time. Without further ado, let me go back to watching all my favourite animes. Can I live forever since animes are never ending? Hope Momo won’t catch me while I’m in the middle of it…

Shinigami No Ballad

World Destruction

November 14, 2010

I guess I shouldn’t wait for kingdom come to watch World Destruction: Sekai Bokumetsu No Rokunin. It’s not like I’m afraid if the end of the world comes tomorrow nor do I believe in that 2012 prophecy thingy. It’s ironic to find that the ‘heroes’ of the series are trying to destroy the world. And you thought bad guys only do that. I know we have lots of problems ever since day one but to destroy the world to change it?

A spin-off series based on the RPG game developed by Sega, Sands of Destruction, the setting of this world is whereby animals dubbed beastmen rule over us humans. How is that for a change homo sapiens being the oppressed ones? That is what happens when animals have intelligence. So for all you people who mistreat animals, take heed that animals have feelings too. And look what global warming has caused. The world’s dark blue ocean has been replaced into sand, making the world one freaking huge desert. Okay, so I’m not sure if global warming was the culprit. Otherwise, those looking for some fantasy action adventure with a little hint of comedy in it should have a look at this anime.

Starting off in episode 1, the town is abuzz of rumours that a World Destruction Committee (WDC) member has escaped here. Heck, there is only 1 member by the way. Kirie Irunisu works as a waiter in a restaurant when suddenly a group of World Salvation Committee (WSC) soldiers barges in. They recognize a cloaked woman inside not only of her wanted poster mug but her weapon as well. She is Morute Ashera and you could guess she is the single WDC member they’re looking for. She swiftly takes Kirie as hostage but his fake ears drop off, revealing him to be human rather than beastmen. Soon all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile a human kid, Cain, walks into another beastmen bar to request the help of a bear Toppi Topuran (a detective from the Hero’s Guild who ends his sentences with ~kuma) to save his sister Rinan as a sacrifice from the Cat King to his God Sakai. The Cat King tells his men to bring the sacrifice quickly after learning WDC is in town. Kirie and Morute barely escape the gunfire and are resting out of town. They chat as she learns he’s just pretending to be a beastmen to find work and pay for living expenses. She says WSC came up with that weird WDC title and started chasing her. But thanks to that it gave her such a great name. They are stumbled by Rinan and the villagers. They allow them to stay. During dinner, Morute tells Kirie that her intention is to destroy this meaningless world regardless of whether it’s human or beastmen. She shows him a little black orb, Destruct Code that can destroy the world in an instant. Probably her long lecture that he shouldn’t get involved has Kirie falling asleep. How can anyone not get involved when world destruction is at stake?! The villagers are planning to use the guests as sacrifice in Rinan’s place though she’s against it.

That night when they come to kidnap them, Morute is gone and they only see Kirie sleeping soundly. They hand him to Cat King. Morute wonders around and bumps into Rinan and learns about the sacrifice. Kirie wakes up in the middle of the cats’ weird nyan-nyan ritual and a pair of hungry carnivorous plants. Morute steps in and grabs Cat King hostage before throwing him down the pit. The plant eats him up in an instant! As she’s about to save Kirie, WSC soldiers jump down to continue their siege on Morute. She fights them back. Toppi also arrives and joins the fray. He saves Kirie from the monster but is shocked to see the victim as a guy instead of a girl he’s supposed to save. WSC thinks Toppi is also part of WDC and continue their attack. Morute threatens to use Destruct Code so WSC dares her. (Un)fortunately she doesn’t know how. Just a bluff, eh? During the attack, she accidentally drops Destruct Code as it rolls into Kirie’s hands. It starts to glow and causes the cave to crumble. Morute takes Kirie and Toppi out. In the aftermath, she says it was the first time she has seen it glow like that. Rinan and Cain apologize and thank them. Morute and Kirie run off in Toppi’s sand boat. Of course the chibi bear manages to get on too and he’s not happy. Morute says Toppi has been thought to be part of WDC so it’s better to run with them. She says their next destination is to destroy the world as Toppi narrates “There is another kind of hero. One that will destroy the world”.

In episode 2, the sand boat ran out of fuel and they’re trapped in the middle of the sand ocean. Could it get any worse? Yes. Suddenly WSC sand-marine ambushes them. The trio manages to get off before the torpedoes destroy the boat. They are picked up by a transporter guy, Agan Madoru. He shows them a new wanted poster of WDC that includes the trio. He isn’t against them as he will transport anything anywhere for a fee. Since Morute has no money and will not trade Destruct Code, Toppi pays him. That amount was enough for Agan to let them off when his ship and the next pleasure ship (a lawless uncontrolled place) exchange goods. As the trio head into the ship, a raccoon girl, Winno, purposely bumps into Morute and secretly steals her Destruct Code. A pair of WSC members, Naja Gurefu and Lia Dragonell see the captain of the ship, wanting his cooperation to assist in capturing the WDC. But he tells them to do as they wish since this place has no rules. He will not help nor interfere. While Kirie and Toppi have their meal, Morute is gambling and luck is on her side as she rakes in big earnings via roulette. Naja decides to take the soft approach and convinces her to play a card game with him. As Kirie and Toppi wander, they spot Winno and insist on helping her. Since they have no money to save her debt-ridden dad, she goes off. Money is everything. They then run into WSC soldiers. Big trouble.

Morute loses all her money to Naja so he tells her to make a final bet with her Destruct Code. Taken aback, she accepts but realizes the orb is missing and uses a wrapped canned food as decoy. Suddenly Winno rushes up to the ship’s captain and wants him to release her dad in exchange for Destruct Code. Realizing that they’ve been fooled and lost her patience, Lia goes into trigger happy mode. It gets messy when Kirie, Toppi and the WSC soldiers get into the picture. Lia transforms into her beast mode and fights Morute. Destruct Code rolls over into Kirie’s hands but before Lia could pound him, she abruptly stops (why is she blushing?!). Morute uses a diversion to allow them to escape. Winno isn’t going to follow them because she wants to save her dad. Morute gives her the canned food and tells her she can probably exchange that for a gold coin and start from here to save her dad. The trio escape and ‘land’ on the next ‘island’. Morute plans to go alone but the duo insists on coming with her since they’re already wanted. Kirie says they should start a journey to save humanity instead of destroying the world but she replies destroying it is for everyone’s good. Yeah, I agree. We don’t have to pay taxes anymore, haha!

The trio are captured and locked in a remote prison area run by beastmen Wolfman in episode 3. He doesn’t care who they are because he intends to exchange them with WSC for cash in 2 days time. While doing hard labour, the trio manage to secure info on whereabouts of their equipment and location of the key. They plan on escaping and based on some legend, bears are good in digging so Morute makes Toppi dig his way to retrieve the key. Kirie notices a kind guard, Shin, treating a lady prisoner, Aya. Next day, a rude gorilla guard is going to whip Aya but Morute subdues him. She gives up when other guards surround her. Wolfman decides to put pressure on the prisoners by having a midnight inspection in their cells. Toppi manages to retrieve the key and return to his cell before the guards suspect they have 1 man (beast rather) short. Shin shows Aya an escape route. He tells her to escape with the WDC trio whom he has already told beforehand. He plans to stay back as his atonement. That night after the inspection, the WDC trio escape and retrieve their gear. The gorilla guard sees a hole in the ceiling from where Toppi came from to retrieve the key and sounds the alarm. Morute takes Shin hostage while they make a run. As they take cover from the guards’ fire, Aya comes out. So happen Wolfman was near her so Morute throws Toppi at Wolfman, knocking him out. They make a dashing escape. Next day when Naja and Lia arrive, they see the prison in the midst of picking themselves up from the chaos. Violent Lia beats up Wolfman. Shin and Aya part ways with the trio and it seems they are in love with each other. Love really breaks down all forms of barrier. Before departing on their journey, Morute sees a vision of Springland while having Destruct Code in her hands.

The trio enter Springland in episode 4 and Morute thinks their path is guided Destruct Code. Wearing animal ears as disguises (who says kemonomimi are for otakus only), they learn that the new mayor, Yoshi, had all the sakura trees cut down because he believed the superstitious rumours that it’ll suck the blood of beastmen. The trio pass by a large sakura tree, believed to be the last one standing. While fooling around, Kirie accidentally breaks a branch. I’m not sure of Kirie and Toppi’s idea of going around town apologizing and admitting he’s the one who broke it. But everyone stayed away from them and shut themselves in! The duo meet Agan doing his delivery rounds. They learn it was the last uncut tree because it’s cursed and all beastmen fear it. Anyone who tries to cut or break its branches will experience misfortune. When the duo go back and relate this to Morute waiting at the sakura tree, they see a man Jade who is waiting for his lover at this spot. He tells them the cursed tree is a lie to prevent the tree from being felled. Since he hails from the other side of the hill, his village was attacked by beastmen. He and his lover got separated but promised to reunite under this tree. That’s why he cooked up the story and has been waiting ever since. Naja and Lia meet Agan and manage to get some info of the WDC trio after they gave him some money.

Kirie is worried that Jade’s plan will be foiled if he doesn’t experience bad luck since the beastmen will start to suspect. So he plans to do lots of fake misfortune right in front of Yoshi’s house. I don’t know why Toppi has to do it too. He starts by dropping chicken poo on the bear (for realism I guess). While waiting for the chicken to do so, Toppi spots Naja and Lia coming and hides. By that time, the chicken poops but it landed on Lia. She goes berserk and starts tearing down everything! Run for your lives! They didn’t fight back thinking it’s a way to convince the people of their misfortune. They escape in a boat (supposedly the final tragedy of pretend drowning) but are chased by WSC duo in a speedboat. Better row faster! Yoshi came out of his house and over the bridge to see the ruckus. So happen he stepped on the broken sakura branch that Toppi dropped earlier on and in very good timing, when WSC’s speedboat cross under the bridge, it collapses. Kirie and Toppi continue their fake drowning scene. They are later pulled up by Jade. Lia and Naja recover but know the WDC guys are still alive. When the duo return to Morute, she tells them she investigated Jade’s abandoned house over the hills. The war Jade mentioned happened 90 years ago and that Jade is already dead. I see dead people! When the trio leave, Morute passes by an old lady. She notices a similar bracelet that Jade was wearing.

While resting in the woods in episode 5, Kirie and Morute are ambushed by a group of beastmen led by a little black bear that looks similar to Toppi, Yappi. They are placed in a cell of a Colosseum where humans are to fight to their deaths against gladiator beastmen in front of their bloodthirsty brethren. Their turn is up but Morute causes a stunning upset on the horse gladiator. Toppi is in town searching for his human friends when he saves a ram lady, Mutton from being harassed (it even happens in the animal world). He meets up with Yappi (he ends with sentences with ~bear!) as they catch up on old times. They became heroes to serve justice. Yappi lies that he has never seen his pals. Toppi has a hint where his friends might be because of the upset news from the Colosseum. Yappi sees the Colosseum over, Birdman and is being praised that he brought the right humans because he’s raking in lots of gold. Toppi sneaks into the cell to free his friends. As they escape, they bump into Yappi trying to steal Birdman’s gold from the vault. When the guards surround them, Yappi throws the sack of gold away and betrays them by ordering their capture. Toppi is disheartened of Yappi’s change in character.

Yappi wants Birdman to let the trio fight in the ring. First they’re up against a giant worm spitting furiously. Toppi takes it out but they are soon faced with a minotaur gladiator. Yappi leaves the stand but Mutton pleads to him to save them. From the way he said things, he seems envious of Toppi. After the WDC trio is done with the minotaur, their next battle is Yappi and his bear subordinates (looking more cute than menacing). Toppi singlehandedly takes them all out before engaging in a one-to-one fist fight with Yappi in which the former emerges victorious. We learn Yappi accidentally killed a beastmen and was in a state of depression till Birdman picked him up on the streets. He claims he doesn’t understand him and doesn’t consider himself a hero anymore. Birdman gets word that the gold from his vault is missing. Since his henchman spotted only a shadow of a little bear, Toppi steps up and admits he was the one who stole the gold. He also admits he is part of WDC. The crowd realize that they are the wanted people in the poster and try to capture them for the reward. Toppi tells surprised Yappi that no matter the circumstances, as long as he holds it in his heart, he is a hero. Amidst the chaos, the WDC trio make their escape.

While trekking under the hot sun in the desert in episode 6, Kirie faints of heat stroke. Luckily Agan was there to take them to a charity hospital in Summerland. Kirie gradually recovers thanks to the hospital’s chairman, an elephant beastmen, Zoushi and his human assistant, Rigareto. As they continue their stay, they notice both humans and beastmen communicating in harmony as this is what Zoushi believes in. However Morute has her reservations. That night she wakes up from a dream whereby her little brother, Leibe died and was attending his funeral. Seems Kirie had the same dream as Morute wonders why Destruct Code is reacting to him. Next day Naja and Lia arrive and seek Rigareto’s help on the WDC’s whereabouts. Though he admits they are here, he doesn’t think those people are as bad as they seem. Zoushi comes in and Naja recognizes him as the great Desert Slayer. After excusing Rigareto, Zoushi lies to them by saying he’s executing a secret plan and that they mustn’t cause a ruckus and be patient. The WSC duo leave.

That night Morute wakes up to find Kirie, Toppi and the kids gone. Thankfully they’re secretly making a cake for Zoushi’s birthday tomorrow. When she returns, she sees Rigareto tying up Zoushi and pouring fuel all over the room. He is going to have his revenge on Zoushi who killed his family and village back then. He took up a job here to ascertain his intentions and found out when he eavesdropped on his secret plan. Zoushi owns up and makes no excuses though he created this hospital in hopes of saving lives. Rigareto thinks his sins won’t be erased that way. Morute laughs it off and tells him to do whatever he wants. As Kirie eavesdrops too, Morute mentions how Leibe joined the resistance group called Golden Lions to fight against beastmen. He was loyal but died. That’s why she’s so upset and wants to destroy the world since both humans and beastmen’s meaningless existence will continue to create conflict. Rigareto is about to burn the place down but Kirie barges in to stop him. Toppi and the kids barge in too to hand over the early birthday cake to Zoushi (after thinking their plans have been found out). Rigareto backs down when he sees the kids pleading him not to bully Zoushi as this also reminded him of his own family. But the candle fire caught onto the fuel. Luckily everyone manages to escape. Next day, Morute tells Kirie and Toppi to stay back while she journeys alone. Zoushi tells the guys to follow her not to destroy the world, but in hopes it will change her mind like it did to him.

In a human town in episode 7, the WDC trio learn from an innkeeper that WDC is running amok, robbing and hurting people. Seems a group of fake WDC trio are freeloading at a cafe. A womaniser fake Kirie, a taciturn and tanned fake Morute and a large bear but gentle fake Toppi. Toppi goes to do research on the imposters by seeing a policeman. He even brings a little girl Maria who was a witness of the fake WDC’s freeloading at the restaurant. She is thrilled to see a little bear this time and happily spills the details. I don’t know why Kirie is so panic when he spots a rip in Morute’s skirt and tries to distract her so that he can sow it!!! Is he serious about sowing while she’s having her clothes on and not suspecting it?! Obviously not. Naja and Lia enter town to catch the usual suspects. The townspeople aren’t looking up to them due to WSC’s failure to apprehend WDC. However the duo are being led on a wild goose chase, walking from town to another while tracking the (fake) WDC.

The real WDC trio are discussing what they have found. I don’t know why Toppi also panics when he learns Morute’s skirt is ripped. Now it’s a little bigger. Then the fake WDC trio come in. Because the policeman is there, fake Kirie swiftly puts the blame on the real WDC trio. Can’t tell the fake from the real, policeman has them lined up as he inspects them. Based on the evidence of WDC’s traits he got from witnesses, both groups try to outdo each other by proving they’re not the real deal. In one of those attempts, Morute realizes her ripped skirt. She then suspects Kirie had known this all along and beats him up. With the real WDC’s identity discovered, the fake ones try to leave. Fake Toppi tells real Toppi that they can’t afford to be caught as they’re trying to find their utopia where both humans and beastmen coexist. Policeman then notices all the stolen antiques in the room. The real fake WDC (getting confusing, eh?) turns out to be the innkeeper, his wife and a real bear pretending to be a stuffed bear. They admit they’re just stealing valuable stuff and had nothing to do with freeloading and suspects the fake fake WDC (yeah, it’s getting confusing). Before they could attack, Naja and Lia bust in. Lia is pissed because of the wild goose chase and destroys the whole inn with the real fakes while the rest escapes. Outside, the fakes apologize. Toppi advises them to take responsibility of the inn and to create a space where humans and beastmen can live in peace together. He also says that utopia is to be created and not found. Fake Kirie parts with an advice to the guys: Hell hath no fury a woman scorned. By the time you wish to apologize, it’s too late. What does that mean? It means Morute is going to kick their butts…All this over a little rip. Why the heck did she suspect them anyway?

In episode 8, the WDC trio are being thrown off a sand whale. Agan picks them up once more and agrees to take them to Autumnland if they clean his ship since they have no money. But they’re being ambushed by the sand-marines. They want Agan to hand over the goods bearing the Golden Lions logo. Though they got captured and tied up, Agan frees himself and everyone else and cause havoc on the ship. Naja and Lia manage to get into the sand-marine’s ship before it submerges under the sand. Everyone gathers at the cargo area and learn the cargo from Golden Lions is actually a bomb. Naja concludes this is their plan of using a transporter to ship it and then tell the sand-marines of its location to capture it so they could destroy them. During the struggle, the bomb’s mechanism spoils so everyone makes a run for it. Sand slowly seeps into the ship after it explodes. Kirie gets pinned under a door after saving Lia. Not breathing, the rest are contemplating who should do CPR (Lia is tsundere). Toppi does it and Kirie gets the shock of his life. His first kiss when to a chibi bear. They continue to run and lock themselves in compartments (Toppi, Kirie and Lia in the toilet?). The ship has sunk to the bottom of the sand ocean and they’re stranded. Naja decides to call a truce. Toppi is small enough and is sent crawling to the engine room but the tank is done for. Agan tells his tale of a failed delivery from a young Golden Lions member (Leibe). He was supposed to deliver a message to his sister that he’ll return while describing her traits. Morute gets motivation to find a way out when Agan hears the sand whale nearby. He instructs Toppi to activate the engine. This is because sand whales react to sound and will swallow them and the sand as a whole before spitting them out. They are spit out safely atop the sand sea near Autumnland. Naja and Lia leave since the former says the truce is still in effect and doesn’t arrest them. Before Naja parts, he hints to Morute that he has completed his delivery safely.

Entering the campus city of Galura in Autumnland where both humans and beastmen coexist in peace to gather knowledge in episode 9, Morute isn’t happy about this coexisting atmosphere and goes off alone. At a library, she thinks she saw her brother but it was a beastmen who looked just like him, Eoru. He tells of his sad past when his adoptive father was sent to a war between humans and beastmen and died. Then his human sister left shortly and also met the same fate. Eoru thinks it’s time to pack up and leave the city so Morute helps him pack his books. While Toppi is having fun happily eating by himself. Kirie enters another library to borrow a book to learn more about Destruct Code. He then spots Morute doing her packing task but she ignores him and continues. Kirie learns that she got Destruct Code from Leibe as he had it with him when he died. He mentions how the book did not mention about the Destruct Code she possessed. She’s not too happy since she thinks he’s implying it is a fake. Kirie continues that there are no genuine witnesses to the real Destruct Code or how to use it. He goes on talking about how he has been lonely in life and hints that she is destroying the world as revenge for Leibe. She stomps her foot down and tells him to stop ranting. Eoru was eavesdropping on them. They decide to enter a room that Eoru was hesitant to enter ever since his sister left. They see the place with lots of messy artwork strewn all over the place and decide to clean up. Morute notes that it isn’t easy to forgive easily. Then they see a painting of Eoru and his sister. Eoru gets emotional and breaks down before it.

The WDC trio enter the mechanical Clocktown in episode 10 to see Wanishi (Dr Alligator) on how to use Destruct Code. Wanishi also wants Destruct Code to harness its power and is delighted WDC has entered the city. He orders his robots who only obey beastmen to capture them. Since Toppi is a beastmen, he manages to give orders to 1 of them (calling it #28) for them to hide. Wanishi fixes this flaw and sends newly programmed robots to capture them. Toppi and #28 make a break as Morute throws Destruct Code to him while she and Kirie get arrested and brought to Wanishi. Meanwhile the WSC duo are outside the city gates and the robots are instructed to stall them. Naja is bloody patient trying to correct the mispronouncing robot about their WSC name but Lia isn’t. She waltzes right in and any robot that doesn’t obey her, she doesn’t give a sh*t and shoots them with her double pistols! Enough of those distorted titles! Wanishi shows his captors Destruct Code Detector which is supposed to decrypt the devastating power after Destruct Code is activated and wants Morute to hand it over. However she doesn’t have it so he is going to cut her up. Toppi and #28 barge in to save them as Lia also comes in and starts shooting randomly, hitting the machine. It goes a little berserk as it absorbs Destruct Code. They see visions of Dragon Valley of Winterland. Lia is stunned by what she saw. #28 retrieves Destruct Code and escapes with his WDC pals. We see some bonding between Toppi and #28 as they help each other out. Wanishi corners them and since he is superior, orders #28 to take out WDC. But #28 resisted and assisted them in escaping instead. #28 then sacrifices himself to let the trio escape. Outside Clocktown, it hit them that #28 had Destruct Code. Morute plans on going back when #27 surprisingly appears and returns Destruct Code to them. Seems something about a preset rule that robots must know how to take care of themselves. Wanting Toppi to give him an order, he tells #28 to return to Clocktown and live the way he wants. Can a robot understand that? But he’ll try. Wanishi isn’t giving up yet and sets his next destination to Dragon Valley.

The robots of Clocktown surround Naja and Lia in episode 11 but Wanishi tells them to back down since Destruct Code is no longer here. WSC leader, Washishi enters and he too is after Destruct Code. He is disappointed in Naja and Lia and thinks he may have overestimated their abilities as half-human half-beast. He orders them to stay put here while he searches for Destruct Code himself. Naja wonders if WDC is bent on destroying the world. Thinking back the things they did didn’t pretty much reflect it. Naja and Lia talk about Dragon Valley, Lia’s hometown which is just a distant away from this desert. She reveals she is over 300 years old and hasn’t gone back. She also asserts her hate for Morute. Wanishi was eavesdropping and instigates Lia to head to Winterland by telling her Morute wants to destroy Dragon Valley as they’ve been shown visions of that place. Agan takes the WDC to Winterland. As the trio step into Dragon Valley, Lia isn’t far behind. Both women argue that their actions are right. Since words are useless, they do what they prefer to do most: Fight. Toppi feels like going into hibernation (because he’s a bear) so Kirie tries his best to keep him awake. During the fierce fight, Lia knocks Morute off balance as she loses her Destruct Code and hangs precariously over the ledge. Suddenly Naja comes running by to tell Lia to escape. Before she could do that, Wanishi fires a cannonball at her, plunging her into the ravine. Naja dives down to save her. Then it’s a race to retrieve Destruct Code but Wanishi’s robots got it and he is happy it is now in his hands.

Stranded in the snow in episode 12, upset Morute throws sleep talking Toppi to the wall till he wakes up. What a rude awakening. It also reveals a cave. As they enter, they see lots of rotting corpses. Suddenly they see visions of their own past. Morute relives the tormenting moments at Leibe’s funeral, how she was given Destruct Code by Karuna who is a member of Golden Lions and also telling her about it, and the time Leibe tells of his intention to join the rebel group. Then a time when they were young living with their parents, her father taken away by beastmen and the death of her mom shortly. Morute breaks down further as she moves further back in time, having dinner with her family. Toppi finds himself back in his hometown and is frolicking with Yappi and co. Though Kirie sees his past of working at the restaurant where he met Morute, he also sees visions whereby Leibe met Agan to deliver a message. Wanishi lies to Washishi that his robots have lost WDC at Dragon Valley and Destruct Code is also lost with them. Washishi plans to search the area but is cautioned about the Labyrinth of Memories, a place where one relives his/her past till their deaths. Wanishi tries to harness Destruct Code’s power but finds it too weak. He powers it up and sees the same visions Kirie is seeing and understands the whole situation.

Kirie sees the rebel camp Leibe was in, attacked by beastmen led by Wanishi. Barrels of gunpowder caught fire so Leibe tried to put it out but it exploded and he got killed. Destruct Code rolled off the ground and a shocking discovery reveals an unconscious human that looks like Kirie. Twins? Toppi wakes up from his dream (apparently he got hit by a chibi bear lady he was trying to hit on. That lecher…) and goes to wake up Kirie. Realizing the danger of this place, they go find Morute to wake her up but she is reluctant to do so and wants to stay in this dream forever and screw reality. Even her illusion family rationalizes with her about world change and the existence of people making them. They want her to change the world into a bright future where everyone can happily live in. Since Washishi is trying to destroy the cave and smoke them out with his cannons, Toppi and Kirie carry her and make a run. When they reach outside the mouth of the cave, Morute finally wakes up. But Washishi has found them and orders them to have over Destruct Code.

Lia sees her young self crying in episode 13 but was comforted by Kirie’s twin (probably why she likes him?). She is awakened by Naja in the cave. She tells him about meeting Kirie about 300 years ago but dismisses he is a dragon because they should’ve recognized each other and no other races can live that long. Washishi surrounds the WDC but Morute tells him he has been betrayed by Wanishi because Destruct Code is with him. Wanishi then appears. He gives Destruct Code to Washishi but in exchange wants Kirie and knows the secret behind it. He tries to take him by force but Toppi comes between them. While Morute fights Washishi, she steals Destruct Code so the trio escape into the cave. Kirie thinks something is amiss for Wanishi to return and believes if they head deeper and view the memories again, they could figure out something. Washishi’s bazooka sends Kirie falling into the ravine. When he wakes up, he finds himself in the middle of Wanishi’s beastmen’s attack on Leibe’s camp. Leibe is seen talking to the twin who wants to see if he could change the world. The twin seems to know Kirie’s presence and tells him Morute’s Destruct Code is a fake and has him remember his memories. Next thing he knows, Kirie sees the twin rolling Destruct Code next to Leibe’s lifeless body. When he touches it, flashbacks of the eras of conflict flow through him. Morute and Toppi are captured. Washishi is going to make them tell him how to use Destruct Code. Naja and Lia meet Kirie in the cave. Wanishi shows up and reveals the real Destruct Code is Kirie himself. He is going to take Kirie away but Naja wants to settle an earlier score. Lia furiously beats Wanishi up over his betrayal.

In a flash, Kirie moves as fast as sand to where Morute and Toppi are held and blasts open the door to free them. Now he looks like in kick ass mode. He tells them the orb isn’t the real Destruct Code but a memory media for it and the real body is himself. What Leibe meant when he discovered Destruct Code was in reference to Kirie instead of the orb. During the explosion, Kirie lost his media and thus his memories and went on life without it. He reveals he has been around for millennia ever since the world was born. To activate it, one must have the desire to wish for the world’s destruction. Washishi orders his men to capture Kirie but they were all turned into sand in an instant! Don’t mess around with the weapon of mass destruction! Since Morute had always believed in the Destruct Code, it has been activated back then (the glow in episode 1). Kirie activates to reset the world, turning everything into sand. Toppi, Morute, Lia and Naja escape onboard Agan’s ship. He’s still thinking of money when the world is about to go poof? Now Morute has doubts about this isn’t the world that she wished for and jumps off and towards Kirie. She pleads not to destroy the world and will settle to live in this type of world. Did she kiss him to stop? Yeah, even destruction devices have feelings. It was too far from this view to see anything. Anyway Kirie deactivates and returns to his normal self. They both hug each other as the orb cracks. Toppi narrates when God created this world, he also created Destruct Code with powers to destroy it. When someone believes in it and truly wishes for world destruction, it will be activated to reset the world and God gave this choice to both humans and beastmen. Though the world is saved, it hasn’t change as beastmen still hold power and humans oppressed. Destruct Code doesn’t possess the power to change the world. It is us who has the power to do so. There are 2 kinds of future: A bright and dark one. No matter what the future is, through hope the future will continuously change. We see everyone continuing with their lives as Toppi joins Morute and Kirie. She mocks the chibi bear for trying to act cool.

So the world didn’t end and everyone gets to live another day. It was probably mindboggling to see Morute who wanted to destroy to world so badly but in the end she backed out. Did she get cold feet upon knowing what apocalypse looked like? Nobody wants to really die. And why did it take Destruct Code so long to activate? I thought it was supposed to be instant? Can’t destroy without the memories which serve as the key for activation? Probably Morute was so caught up in the death of her brother that she was blinded by rage and couldn’t care less about the world. I find that her unusual blade weapon to be a little redundant. It felt like she’s carrying excess baggage as I was expecting she’d pull off special moves from rather than just swinging it and blocking blows. Kirie seems to be the ‘damsel in distress’, the one not being able to properly fight back and though I knew he was going to be the key to Destruct Code, it never occurred to me that he was the Destruct Code himself. So he really did lose his memories. Toppi is also another amusing character. He is the one who spouts lots of amusing lines that mostly serves as advices, which is true if you think about it. Is that what being a hero is about? You can’t be one without your own lines. It’s funny to see him end his sentences with ~kuma but protests when people call him a bear. It’s so ironic. It’s also fun to see Toppi being ‘used’ like when he is used as a projectile or made to do things the rest are unable to do with their size. Having a chibi bear is useful in addition to being a cute mascot. I’m sure Toppi would disagree to that. ~kuma. Oops.

Lia is also another interesting character because of her mood swings. Basically she’s a violent person who’d prefer to let her fists do the talking. She turns typical tsundere when Kirie is near her otherwise stay away from this crazy b*tch. In contrast, Naja is much calmer, gentler and patient, prefer to talk things out rather than using violence. Because of that he rarely gets the job done. That’s why I’m also wondering if the odd WSC pair is really bent on capturing WDC in the first place. They had several good chances to do so but let it slip by. Another thing which bugged me is that if the second title of this series means “The 6 People That Will Destroy The World”, how come it is only 3 people? Though Agan may be just a transporter but subtly in a way by helping the WDC trio get to places, he’s more like an accomplice, right? And as mentioned, Naja and Lia’s inability to apprehend WDC effectively probably made them indirectly in cahoots with WDC. So will WDC be disbanded and their wanted status revoked since the world is saved? Like Naja notes if WDC is no more, then WSC will also cease to exist as they will mutually ‘wipe each other out’.

The fighting scenes are nothing to shout about but they aren’t that bad either. Just wish they could last longer. Especially Lia’s one because I love it when she goes gun-trotting. As for the storyline, I find that 3/4 of the series it’s like the WDC trio enter into a random town and meet random characters that we will never see again in later episodes, help out if they can and then leave sometimes amidst the chaos. Even the mid-intermission shows bust shots of those random characters instead of our regular casts. What’s with that Mayan-like apocalyptic background at the mid-intermission? Yeah, those minor characters even make appearances in the opening credits animation. And there I was going how all these characters would come together in the end. Each of the episode have the words “There are 2 types of~” (with an exception of episode 10 which has something about 108 rules of a robot instead). I guess in this world you can group everything into either this or that. It’s you’re with us or against us. You’re part of the solution or the problem. You get the idea. Because of this, I suppose those “2 types of” lines are what Toppi usually narrates as in the series. Some of them are crap of course. During the next episode preview, it is amusing to see the WDC trio making fun especially about Toppi’s ~kuma.

Later I found out that the game and anime have several differences. Well, I should have expected it since I did say it was a spin-off. How different. As far as I know, the game has a more violent and gory setting in which humans are used as food and livestock. Then there is the slight difference in the spelling of the characters’ names. For instance Kirie is spelled as Kyrie, Morute as Morte, Toppi as Toppy and Lia as Ri A. Probably it’s just romanization of the words so to be safe I’d follow the former as opposed to the latter ones which are more widely used (because it is to avoid me of pronouncing Kee-ri-eh as Ka-i-ri). Also, the characters’ relationship differs in the game such as Agan is supposed to by Morute’s childhood friend and Toppi as Kirie’s mentor. Plus Kirie in the game is skilled in using knives but I hardly seem him using any weapons to fight back (unless you meant using knives in the kitchen as a cook). And where’s the romance between him and Morute? No time for love when you’re trying to destroy the world. That would be so ironic.

So you see, we don’t really need a tool to destroy the world. Heck, we are slowly destroying the world seeing the way things are going as they are. It is an ideal situation if we could live with each other in harmony but I guess that is going to be a long road and a long way off since we can’t even get along with our own kind. What good does it bring if the world is destroyed? Good things come when we can see positive changes in them. Without wasting precious time, I’d like to move on watching more animes. There are 2 kinds of animes: The ones that I want to watch and those that I don’t. There are also 2 kinds of otakus. One… Oh, forget it. There are too many types of them anyway.

World Destruction

Yay! Another versus blog. This time it will be between power based animes in the name of Needless and To Aru Kagaku No Railgun (Railgun). I’m sure we humans do dream of having superhuman powers such as strength and speed. But since that is impossible now or in the near future, what better way for escapism than to make them into an action sci-fi series, each with their own unique terminologies.

The place
Needless: The Black Spot, a large black crater right smack in the middle of Tokyo, Japan. A lawless place and barren wasteland.
Railgun: The fictitous Academy City in western Tokyo, Japan. A technological futuristic place with high-rise and buildings.

Time setting
Needless: The aftermath of World War III.
Railgun: The near future.

Power beings
The class of humans that possess superhuman powers.
Needless: Erm… Needless.
Railgun: Espers/Psychics.

Power rule
In both series, those possessing special powers may only posses 1 ability and no more than that. The term for this coined in Needless is called Fragment while in Railgun, espers are ranked based on the strength of their powers with Level 5 being the highest and Level 1 the lowest. Non-power users are at Level 0.

Police of the place
So called enforcers to keep the place in check. Effective or not is another matter.
Needless: The Guild.
Railgun: Judgment along with Antiskill.

The main group
The group of heroes in focus.
Needless: Cruz Schild, Adam Blade, Eve Neuschwanstein, Dr Gido, Disc and Momiji Teruyama. They are later joined by Seto and Solva.
Railgun: Mikoto Misaka, Kuroko Shirai, Kazarii Uiharu and Ruiko Saten.

Strange fetish of the main hero/heroine
Nobody is perfect.
Needless: Blade is a lolicon.
Railgun: Misaka loves children’s clothes and is a fan of Gekota, a frog mascot franchise.

The main villains
Bad guys are so needed in order for heroes to exist.
Needless: The head of Simeon Pharmaceuticals, Adam Arclight and his Strongest Four that includes Riru Rokakuji, Aruka Schild, Saten, Uten and Kafka.
Railgun: Harumi Kiyama was the main baddie in the first half of the series and for the later half, the director and captain of MAR (Multi Active Rescue) Telestina Kihara Lifeline takes over this role.

Villain’s mission
Taking over the world is so yesterday.
Needless: Arclight wants to collect all the Fragments to become the next God.
Railgun: Kiyama’s goal is to find a way to free her comatose children even if she makes the entire city her enemy. Telestina on the other hand wants to create a Level 6 esper.

The most powerful unfeatured character
Supposedly the numero uno character with the most powerful power but didn’t make his appearance in the anime.
Needless: The Second, supposedly the only Needless who possesses all Fragments.
Railgun: Accelerator, possessing Vector Change, a kind of telekinesis that allows him to change vector values of anything he touches.

The most powerful featured character
Like the above but is the main protagonist of the series.
Needless: Blade due to his Memorization Fragment and Arclight because of his Positive Feedback Zero.
Railgun: Misaka has the ability to generate electricity powerful enough to cause a massive blackout and thus nicknamed the Railgun.

Computer experts
Not to be misinterpreted as nerds.
Needless: Disc.
Railgun: Uiharu.

Powerless
No special powers whatsoever. Just ordinary humans.
Needless: Cruz.
Railgun: Saten.
In both cases, both characters were pivotal in their roles to turn the tide to their team’s favour in defeating the ultimate enemy.

Weirdo of the pack
Needless: Eve – can’t remember people’s names and is freaking brutal and vicious.
Railgun: Shirai – whenever she goes into her lovey-dovey lesbian mode over her Misaka.

Old scientist guys
Needless: Gido.
Railgun: Gensei Kihara.

Deceiving loli
Look like little girls but they are not what they seem to be…
Needless: Mio – possesses super strength.
Railgun: Komoe Tsukuyomi – she’s a high school teacher.

Maid outfit characters
Needless: Solva and Secondaria.
Railgun: Maika Tsuchimikado.

Saten
Coincidentally, both series feature a character named Saten. The Saten in Needless possesses the Fragment of the Fourth Wave (ability to absorb heat and turn it into projection energy) and was previously Gido’s scientist colleague called Kannazuki. He tried to become God and dispose of Arclight but his plan backfired when Arclight uses his backup plan to kill him. The Saten in Railgun has no powers but loves flipping up the skirt of her best friend Uiharu. She tried to attain powers by using Level Upper and paid the consequences like others who used it by slipping into coma. Thankfully her friends were swift enough to get to the root of the cause and save all the victims.

Rivalry
A little enmity among themselves.
Needless: The main Bishoujo Squad of Setsuna, Kuchinashi and Mio are always at loggerheads with team Nanami and Misaki.
Railgun: The boastful and Mitsuko Kongou and Shirai do not see eye to eye.

Back from the dead
Characters which are believed to be dead but are still alive and well.
Needless: Aruka.
Railgun: Wataru Kurozuma.

Machines
Needless: Testaments are large spider-like machines patrolling to area to hunt and destroy other Needless and resistance forces.
Railgun: The little white robots all over Academy City serve as automatic street cleaners and to a certain extend defences from low-level crimes.

Database
Where all the information is stored.
Needless: Iron Mountain that holds all records of mankind’s history.
Railgun: Judgment’s database is an extensive and comprehensive network containing all information possible on its citizens.

Forced flashback
Flashbacks are essential part of the story to know what happened. In this case, the characters are forced to relive those memories again.
Needless: A negative rejection reaction occurred when Blade tried to use his Byakugou to steal Arclight’s abilities. This past re-examination thingy is essential to see which of both subjects are to be the God since a rule states that there can only be 1. The flashback takes us back to the time when Eden Seeds were used in experiment subjects, the birth of Blade and Eve, and the destruction of the entire lab.
Railgun: While Misaka was fighting Kiyama and beat her, Misaka’s close range use of her electro shock causes her to also relive the memories of Kiyama. The flashback sees how Kiyama was assigned to be a teacher to a group of orphans known as Child Errors till an experiment gone awry as the children continue to sleep in coma till this day.

Other flashbacks
Needless: One on how Blade and Seto met Solva and another on the failed attack of the resistance army led by Zakard.
Railgun: One on how Mii Konori and her involvement with the local gang called Big Spider/Skillouts and the time Shirai and Uiharu first met.

Fanservice
Needless: Lots of them. Girls in revealing outfits, panty shots, boob shots, you name it’s got all those ecchi stuff to satisfy you ecchi people. Just short of being hentai.
Railgun: Quite minimal and won’t amount to anything ecchi. And I don’t consider Misaka’s shorts underneath her skirt to be a turn-on. Not that anybody would unless you’re a hardcore obsessed fan of hers.

Episode title
Needless: Short and are named after characters, locations or techniques. Title is at the beginning of the episode after the opening credits animation.
Railgun: Short ones are usually terms and jargons of the series while long ones tend to feel like as though they’re from quotes and speeches which happen to be said somewhere in the show. Title is at the middle of the episode and serves as a mid-intermission.

Opening and ending themes
Needless: First opening theme Modern Strange Cowboy by GRANRODEO. Second opening theme Scarlet Bomb by Aki Misato. First ending theme sung by the seiyuus of the Needless girls, Aggressive Zone. Second theme also sung by the same group, Wanted! For The Love.
Railgun: First opening theme Only My Railgun by fripSide. Second opening theme also by the same group, LEVEL 5 -judgelight-. First ending theme Dear My Friend: Mada Minu Mirai E by Elisa. Second ending theme also by the same group, Real Force.

Background music
Needless: Mainly heavy rock and metal music.
Railgun: Mainly techno and rock music.

Specials
In addition to the 24 TV episodes, there are motivations to buy the DVD that come with extra specials.
Needless: 12 two minute episodes called The Secret of St Lily Academy whereby Cruz cross-dresses as a girl to investigate a case.
Railgun: Several nonsensical random and funny outtakes that last approximately 10 minutes. An OVA lasting 34 minutes was released on October 2010. There is also an episode called “episode 13” (not to be mistaken with the one from the TV series) to be included with an official visual book on the show back in July 2010.

Conclusion
I favour Needless more as compared to Railgun because of the non-stop action (silly and nonsensical) comedy and that it has to offer. It never has a dull moment even during flashbacks. For the latter, I guess there were too many scientific terms and jargons which I find it hard to comprehend even though I replayed that particular scene over and over again just to grasp what it means. The action is more serious as compared to the former in the sense that you don’t see gags in the middle of battles. However the girls in Railgun do look prettier and cuter than those in Needless ;p. But both series are not that bad either if you love to see some action.

Needless To Aru Kagaku No Railgun

Black Rock Shooter

November 11, 2010

After reading so much about the hype and excitement over Black Rock Shooter, I guess it was enough for me to go check it out. As far as I know, this one episode OVA is based on the song of the same name by the band Supercell. Furthermore, the song was made for the original character created by one of the band members of the group. I’m not a big fan of Vocaloid’s Hatsune Miku but well, I read lots of people associate the character here with her though they aren’t the same.

It’s been a long time since I have watched an anime episode that lasts more than 30 minutes. Heck, I don’t remember if I ever watched anime movies. The last time an OVA I watched exceeded the half an hour time was Lucky Star OVA so I thought this is going to be one big project spectacular project compact into 52 minutes even if it’s just a single episode. Well, I don’t have much background knowledge on this since I’m not a big fan. But watching this was a little confusing because it shows back and forth between 2 different worlds. One, a normal world of a pair of girls attending high school together and another, the titular character Black Rock Shooter wielding a super gun ‘fixed’ to her arm in a death duel with Dead Master and her scary death scythe. Due to that, I’m going to blog on one world first before the next and finally how both sides connect.

The high school girls
Mato Kuroi wakes up early one morning, surprisingly before her alarm clock rings because she is excited for her first day at high school. On her way, she stops at a scenic spot at the top to have a breathtaking view of the city and snaps a shot of it with her handphone. Realizing she’s late for school, Mato rushes to the train station and makes it in time. When she arrives at the gates of her school, she spots a girl coming out of the car, supposed coming from a rich family. Their eyes met but the girl ignores her. Mato finds her in the same class as herself. After the entrance ceremony, Mato quickly makes acquaintance with her. She is Yomi Takanashi and just like Mato, I read her name wrongly as ‘Kotoriasobi’. Pronouncing and writing a word can be very different in Japanese. Rational? Because there are “no hawks” (takanashi) where “little birds play” (kotori asobi). Sighs… I will never understand how Japanese kanji work. They quickly become friends as Mato learns she has just moved into the town and returned from Germany.

They have become so close that they accompany each other from school and going home and even lending notes to each other (sorry guys, no yuri stuff here). Mato tells of her intention to join the basketball club and during the try-out she is pretty good and impressed her seniors. Yomi too thinks of joining a club but it isn’t basketball. Volleyball. Good thing is that both their clubs use the same gym hall so they can still be close to each other while practicing. Just separated by a giant net. On a day they are walking home together, Mato brings Yomi to her special place: The scenic spot. She gives Yomi a handphone strap which also serves as a token of their friendship. Yomi is happy and will treasure it. Over the next one year, the duo continue to spend time together and be the best of friends. From watching movies to the pool and watching the fireworks together. Seems peaceful, eh? But can this go on forever?

One day during club practice, Mato sprains her leg so her super coach, Yuu helps nurse her. Yomi is pretty concern but in the end the injury wasn’t much to Mato. Next year arrives and both girls are now in their second year. Unfortunately, they are in different classes. Sad as it may be to be separated, they remain positive that they can see each other during other times. Though they continue to spend time in school whenever they can, soon Yomi notices Mato interacting more with Yuu who happens to be in the same class with Mato. Gradually, Yuu and Mato get friendly and their friendship of twosome becomes a threesome. Every time Mato and Yuu chat, Yomi kept quiet and felt left out. That’s why the saying, two’s a company, three’s a crowd. On a day when Yomi pays a visit to Mato’s class, she sees her chatting away happily with Yuu. Feeling depressed as Yomi turns away, she disappears into a black aura. Mato notices something amiss but couldn’t figure it out.

Over the next few days, Yomi avoided Mato and the latter started to get worried. That’s because the former left club practices early and even not responding to SMS Mato sent. Mato despite being worried, continues to go to school alone and wondering what has happened to Yomi. One day on her way back, she gets a shocking SMS from her mom to call her immediately after school. A message that includes “Police”, “Yomi” and “Missing”. Fearing the worse, Mato rushes home. She and her mom talk to the police officers waiting in their living room. They tell her how Yomi’s parents have requested them to search for their daughter. Seems Yomi left for school that morning and never returned. They’re not sure if she ran away from home. Mato breaks down while telling them what she knows. She is pretty sure she didn’t run away from home.

In school, Mato becomes gloomy and rumours about Yomi’s disappearance become the talk of the school. The incident was never reported in the newspapers as they think they don’t want to incur the wrath of the kidnappers. Though Yuu cheers her up and says that she has to stay positive and believe Yomi will return, but deep down in Mato’s heart, she’s still troubled. Early one morning, Mato gets a surprise SMS from Yomi, though it is blank. She rushes out to find her and at the scenic spot she finds her handphone strap on the ground. Holding it dear to her heart and wondering where she has been, suddenly a flash of light emerges from it and soon engulfs her.

The fantasy realm
As the anime opens on a creepy rocky island in the middle of the sea, a battle between Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master is taking place. Their swords clash and the only sound you will hear are those and the destruction of the walls and floor as they fight. No dialogues here. In the end, Black Rock Shooter got stabbed as the floor crumbles. I’m not sure if the next scene is after or before this event because we see Black Rock Shooter now with her gun, standing atop a bridge. Entering a place filled with ruined buildings and chequered designed floors, she makes her way across the strange land. Reaching a chasm, she sees a castle below it and dives down. She seems to know where she is heading as she makes her way into the castle, from the dull-coloured corridors to its main gate. Meanwhile, we see another little girl, packing two mean-looking guns on her arms each. She makes a move and jumps down.

Inside the throne room, Black Rock Shooter comes face to face with Dead Master waiting for her. It now dawned to me how Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master look strikingly similar to Mato and Yomi respectively. Just add a gothic touch to them. Black Rock Shooter extends her hand but Dead Master replies by attacking her along with her twin skull ghouls. The heroine jumps to evade and since it has come down to this, her left eye starts to glow in a blue flame. Dead Master seems pleased. Both girls now engage in exhilarating combat. The great clash almost turned the room into Swiss cheese. Dead Master uses her scythe to break the floor. As Black Rock Shooter falls, Dead Master swoops down and they both engage in aerial combat. When she lands, Black Rock Shooter manages to rid of the ghouls and then chases after Dead Master.

Evading Dead Master’s multiple chain attacks and arriving in another chamber, the fierce fight continues. Black Rock Shooter is able to break Dead Master’s scythe with a shot but that didn’t put her off as she know switches to her chain weapons. They were too much to handle so Black Rock Shooter got chained by them. She is chained up to the wall. After staring at each other, Black Rock Shooter got the power to break herself free. She approaches Dead Master, who seems to fear her now. She extends her hand but Dead Master slips off the edge. Luckily Black Rock Shooter caught her and embraces her. Dead Master isn’t happy and tries to break free. Try as she might but it is only Dead Master herself that falls to her death. Seems Yomi was possessed by her and now that she is free from her clutches, we see her smiling while they embrace. The place starts to crumble as Black Rock Shooter carries her while making their hasty escape.

The link
When Mato opens her eyes, she is surprised to find herself in the clouds. She sees Black Rock Shooter who knows Mato cares very much about Yomi and her friend too cares a lot about her. Black Rock Shooter asks if she wants to save her but Mato says she doesn’t want to do that, but rather she wants to walk and laugh with her again. She wants to see Yomi now. Black Rock Shooter notes her determination so Mato asks who she is. She replies “Black Rock Shooter” as both girls merge.

The aftermath
Mato and Yomi seem to return to their normal daily lives and are friends again. Yup, they’re talking like how they use to. I guess they have learned their lesson, eh? But the story ends with a twist. As both girls leave school, Mato notices Yuu and she doesn’t look happy. She’s acting rather strangely in contrast to her cheery self. Why does she give a feel like as though she’s a stalker? Uh oh. Don’t tell me now she’s a jealous and the same thing is going to happen again?

Bleak, rocked, shot down
Erm… That’s it? I couldn’t say that I am satisfied with that kind of opening ending. In fact, there wasn’t anything spectacular about this whole anime anyway. Forgive me but I also seem to read that some are disappointed and some totally love it. It’s personal, I guess. So besides the action sequences, the main part was seeing how the best friends came to be, drifted from each other, then one realized she neglected the other when she start to go missing and went on a rescue mission. Sure, the storyline isn’t anything special though it gives good character development albeit a short one and it is a believable one since there isn’t anything exaggerative. Mato is a cheerful girl and it is understandable that she easily makes friends. Hey, remember the first time she tried with Yomi? I felt Yomi wasn’t jealous that Mato was getting closer to Yuu but rather felt neglected and didn’t want to bother her but unfortunately that turned into depression. There are a few questions that bugged me. First, how did Yomi get possessed by and whisked away to the other world in the first place? Was it her depression? Second, who was that double-arm-gun loli? Her appearance was definitely a mystery and probably a teaser. I don’t know, after thinking about it, she resembles closely to Yuu. Third, do Black Rock Shooter and Mato have any connection with each other?

Though the art for the high school world seems pretty normal, the graphics for the other world seems pretty cool. Probably it’s because it’s fantasy so I’m pretty much taken by the location and setting. The action may not be the best but at least I still consider them to be good. It doesn’t disappoint. I can’t be expecting this series to be about two girls fighting each other for the entire 52 minutes, right? I just wished that they didn’t ‘break’ the fight scenes and should’ve shown them continuously. Need more of Black Rock Shooter shooting her cool gun… There are several background music and they are quite pleasing to the ear as they are composed by one of the band members of Supercell. I thought they would use the Black Rock Shooter song as the ending theme but I guess it’s better to have another one. Named Braveheart by The Gomband, it is your typical rock song and it lasted for nearly 4 minutes! Better to play the whole song, eh? Surprisingly I could recognize Miyuki Sawashiro’s voice as Yomi. After hearing her voice too many times recently, why not? She sure does make Yomi sound dim overall. Kana Hanzawa is the voice of Mato and Kana Asumi as Yuu.

I’m not sure but I think there may be a production of this series either as another OVA or a TV series. Hey, there was a pilot version of it released way back in September 2009 before the full edition was released at the end of July 2010. Whatever it is, I’m pretty ‘turned off’ after watching this because it was nothing much after all my initial expectation. Heck, what was I really expecting anyway? Fanservice? Oh please. Am I kidding myself? Thus I didn’t turn into a fanatic fan of the increasingly popular Hatsune Miku. Hey, at least I know who she is. So people, next time if you’re thinking about disregarding your best friends, please spare a thought that being left out can hurt very much. It’s worse than having a worse enemy. Hey, hey. What do you know? Since I’m an otaku, I don’t have many friends around me to get hurt… Or else, it’ll be real troublesome to have a girl with a big gun going on an adventure fit for video games to save a precious soul. But that’s worth it, right? That beautiful thing called friendship.

Black Rock Shooter

Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu

November 7, 2010

“Study hard so you can get good grades and enter a good college. And then get a good job with high pay”. I’m sure most of us have heard that nagging line from our parents to do so. Why not? At least from where I come from, due to the ‘awkward’ education policy, a great emphasis has been put on obtaining ‘A’s in a very exam-oriented society. What does this have to do with today’s blog? So for those role model students and near-dropouts, depending on your views, you’re going to have a little motivation when you watch Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu. Okay, maybe not. But it doesn’t hurt to watch this fantasy comedy romance genre using school and exam grades as a ‘fighting mechanism’. Say what?

The school is Fumizuki Academy and this is a unique school. Firstly, classes of a grade are strictly divided based on the students’ exam scores. With Class A being the highest to Class F the lowest. The ‘discrimination’ is obvious because if you’re Class A material, your classroom will have all the prestigious amenities needed to guide you in studying. Is this a classroom or a leisure hall?! So if you’re at the bottom like Class F, all you have is a pitiful state and rundown classroom where everything is rotting or a matter of time from breaking down. Is this a classroom or the slums?! So it pays to study, right?

However there is a system called Exam Wars which allows to ‘swap’ classes and hence better facilities. Using something like an RPG system and in a closed space with the permission of a teacher, students can summon their Avatars (fantasy and chibi versions of themselves) and battle it out. Depending on the subject used, that subject can be used as life points. However the mechanism on how one wins or reduces the other life points is still a mystery to me. So if you’re on the high end, that means you would have high scores which translate into high life points. So if you’re on the other low hand… Go figure. That’s why it pays to be smart, right? And thus once the battle is over (with the life points of the opposing side decreased to zero), the winner is hence declared and is allowed to swap class setups. Sounds like fun too, right? Not if you’re on the losing side.

Prior to the start of the series, there is a 4 minute webcast of the show called Christmas Special which gives viewers a peak on what’s to come. We have some the various characters of the series giving their answers on the meaning of Christmas. I’m sure they have different interpretations but it is odd to see a group of KKK people (FFF Inquisition as they’re called in this anime) a bunch of lonely losers that will ‘execute’ anyone who have lovers. Be careful.

Episode 1 proper beings with our main protagonist, Akihisa Yoshii. He is the ‘idiot’ of the series. That doesn’t necessarily mean he is a total loser (though most of the time he is) but a hero (seldom). As a freshman, the Placement Exam is necessary to see which of the class you’re going to end up in. It’s do or die. However, a busty air-head pink haired girl, Mizuki Himeji experiences difficulties and collapses. Akihisa goes to her aid but the strict invigilator takes this as a sign that he has abandoned the test and will get a zero. Test scores are more important than a person’s life? Bummer. No guess in which class he will end up in. No wonder his teacher, Shouichi Nishimura AKA Ironman, who has high hopes of him, is so disappointed. Does he know what happened? Akihisa, welcome to your new Class F. Even the teacher has no motivation to teach and puts the class in self study mode. What else better to do than to fix your broken table. We are introduced to the other characters of Class F. Minami Shimada, the tomboyish flat-chest. Good in maths but weak in kanji. The tsundere type who has a crush on Akihisa but ends up doing submission moves on him whenever he makes fun of her masculinity and bust size. Kouta Tsuchiya AKA Ninja Pervert who is a taciturn-cum-pervert-cum-shutterbug who gets his kicks by taking photos of girls and the more erotic, the more nose bleeds he’ll have. You get the idea when he always tries to snap a shot of Minami or some other girls’ underneath her skirt when they’re doing a submission move on Akihisa. Hideyoshi Kinoshita, the helpful guy but nobody seems to acknowledge he is a boy due to his feminine looks despite the numerous rebuffs. Yuuji Sakamoto, the cool class rep and schemer with high foresight but also another idiot that is on par with Akihisa’s level. And yes, Himeji is also in their class. Not to mention the FFF Inquisition. It’s going to be one hell of a class.

Yuuji is hyped up to declare war on higher ranked class. He is confident they have a secret ace up their sleeve: Akihisa. Why? Because he’s an idiot. Say what? Being an idiot is useful because they use him to go declare war on Class E. He gets beaten up. Teacher Youko Takahashi reports the request of the Exam Wars to the principal of the school, Kaoru Toudou. She is excited that the Exam Wars is already starting so early in the semester and gives her approval. We see Yuuji planning his strategy and sending his classmates to battle at various points. But he seems to be relaxing and not worrying? Is he that confident? Minami and Himeji take the Recovery Exam so that they can earn higher scores while the battle takes place in the background. During battles, if a person loses all his/her life points, Ironman will come rushing in to take them away for remedial classes. I don’t know what is in that class but from the screaming losers’ mouth, it has got to be hell on Earth. Class E defeats and advances to Yuuji and Akihisa’s last standing ground but Yuuji is still cool. He tells Akihisa to unleash his true powers as an idiot. Akihisa’s Avatar is unique unlike anyone else’s. How unique? Whenever his Avatar gets hit, Akihisa will also feel its pain and vice versa. That’s it?! Oh, did I mention his Avatar can help carry physical objects too? Yeah, I’m sure that’s useful. I’m sure that wasn’t the real plan because Himeji shows up in time to slice everyone else with her super high score marks. Seems the Recovery Exam isn’t limited to the number of questions but time and since Himeji could answer lots of them (because she’s supposed to be Class A material), her scores sky-rocketed. Class F wins but Yuuji decides that they not swap classes and remain their own. Just then, Hideyoshi’s twin sister, Yuuko from Class A, enters their room and declares war on them. Class A intends to crush them. Well, they caused an upset over Class E, right? Don’t rest on your laurels yet.

In episode 2, Akihisa continues fixing his table so much so he’s got his hand stuck to it after using a super glue. They then go survey Class A’s facilities. They are faced with Yuuko and the class rep, Shouko Kirishima. She announces a penalty game in a best-of-5 match. The losing side must comply with the orders of the winning side. While Class F is discussing their strategy, Akihisa thinks that Shouko is a lesbian and is targeting Himeji. He’s not going to let that happen. But we are also introduced to another lesbian. She is the energetic Miharu Shimizu and is totally in love with Minami though the latter always try to convince she is a hetero. Not that she’d listen anyway. Too bad Akihisa has made another enemy because Miharu would not hesitate to attack that idiot for the slightest misunderstanding that he is going to take away the purity of her beloved onee-sama. After that bone breaking torment, Akihisa learns that Himeji has a love letter she is embarrassed to give. But it turns out to be a chain letter. Class F vs Class A’s battle begins (Hideyoshi being made the Round Girl). The first match pits Minami against Yuuko and victory goes to the latter. Then it’s Akihisa vs Miho Satou. I guess it wasn’t Akihisa’s glued hand to the table cost him a victory but his idiocy. Next, Kouta up against athletic Aiko Kudou. Kouta shows he’s not a total pervert but with brains as well as he turns the table and defeats her to give a lifeline to his comrades. Then it’s Himeji and Toshimitsu Kubo, who happens to be the 2nd ranked student in school. Though he has a high score, so does Himeji. Himeji’s love for her class defeats the bespectacled guy.

Now the match decider has Yuuji against Shouko. Class rep vs class rep. Yuuji has a special request that their battle is in the form of a written exam, the subject is history restricted to elementary level. Why? Yuuji remembers well that Shouko remembered a date of an event wrongly (the Taika Reforms, that is) and is putting his bet that this question will come up. The battle begins and lady luck shines on Yuuji because that question pops up. When the results are announced, Shouko did not get full marks but only 98 marks and Class A is starting to panic that they may actually lose to Class F! They’re jumping in joy that victory is theirs but when it is announced that Yuuji only scored 53 marks (haha!), it’s too late to learn that never count your chickens before they hatch. The best part is that the broken tables in Class F have now become tangerine boxes! Oh sh*t!!! HAHAHA!!! They’re worse off than before! Yuuji is still cool about it and didn’t expect this ambush. What ambush?! It’s like they themselves got ambushed. Shouko comes in to claim her order. Good news: She isn’t after Himeji. Seems she is after Yuuji and wants him to go out with her. Shouko was eyeing Himeji because she sees any other girl close to Yuuji as a threat. Since she can’t take no, she forcefully takes him away. Bad news. What bad news? Yuuji deserves it, right? Oh yeah, maybe bad news to Akihisa because Himeji and Minami fight over him to take them both out during the weekend.

Already leading a poor life, Akihisa is going to be poorer now that he has to treat both girls in episode 3. But he has to count himself lucky because Shouko has got Yuuji chained up on their date and uses a stun gun if he acts unfavourable. Yikes! Watching a movie that lasts for hours for several runs?! Queen control! Next day, we see how Akihisa tried to divide his limited food so much so theoretically even though the pieces are small, they are infinite in amount! Idiotic. On his way to school, he bumps into Kubo, who dropped his bread. They both misinterpret each other so Kubo thinks Akihisa hints his love for him and yeah, he’s gay! Ironman takes over Class F’s teacher, Shin Fukuhara as their homeroom teacher. And Class F cannot declare another Exam War because based on the rules, the losing side cannot do so for 3 months. That’s a pretty long time. Minami and Himeji makes Akihisa them out on another outing. Due to circumstances, he can’t seem to get a bite of the yummy food the girls are having. So when an opportunity arises, Miharu is determined not to let her beloved Minami get corrupted by the idiot and chases after him. While hiding, I don’t know the rationale behind Hideyoshi’s idea to have Akihisa cross-dress in a maid outfit to turn Miharu away (but Himeji and Minami loves it?) but this upsets her even further. They run back to school and with the teacher’s permission, they summon their Avatars to fight Miharu. Miharu targets Minami and beats her before Himeji brings down Miharu’s life points to zero. Ironman then takes them away for remedial classes. Minami hates it but Miharu otherwise loves it because she gets to be with her. Akihisa and Himeji talk about their unluckiness to get zero in the Placement Exam and also the chain letter. She intends to hold on to it till she has the courage to give it to someone else. Eh? Later Akihisa is delighted when he receives a love letter in his shoe box. Unfortunately, he realizes it is from a guy. It hints to be Kubo…

Class F is having supplementary classes on a weekend in episode 4. Yeah, idiots need more studying. Suddenly a happy little girl, Hazuki barges in to be with her stupid onii-chan Akihisa (that’s what she really calls him). She is Minami’s little sister and has no qualms in telling everyone she and Akihisa will get married one day. FFF Inquisition interrogates and finds Akihisa guilty before he has a chance to defend himself. Wait, he has no chance! She is also here to give Minami the bentos she made but forgot to bring though the latter tries to hide this fact. Himeji also made bento especially for Akihisa but looks like that poor guy gets another round of interrogation by the hooded members. Akihisa is about to taste Himeji’s bento when the other guys invite themselves and have a taste. It was a good thing because they all collapsed! OMG! Whoever said Himeji was a good cook? Akihisa is in a dilemma whether to eat or reject but doesn’t want to break her heart. Yuuji tells her that even if the food is poison, love is the ultimate spice and antidote to it. Taking his words for it, Akihisa also collapses. I guess love isn’t the answer, haha. Minami too wishes to give Akihisa her bento but was chased around by Miharu (“Why are there so many screwed up students in this school?!”. Akihisa and Hazuki go around looking for Minami. When they finally find each other, Minami is going to give him her bento but I guess she was too slow so much so Kubo whisked Akihisa away for lunch. Too bad he can’t eat in peace because Fukuhara requests him to summon his Avatar to help open a can. Since he got hurt and his score reduced to zero, it’s the remedial classes for him. At the end of the day, Minami is going to throw away the bento but Akihisa lectures about not wasting food, etc. She happily gives it to him.

Akihisa tries to save a little toy strap accessory of Hazuki, Phi the Fox, from the road via summon but Kaoru’s car ran over it in episode 5. Hazuki is in tears but Kaoru continues to be harsh. Akihisa isn’t happy and was going to attack her but the closed space was removed. She challenges him and thus comes up with a treasure hunt competition for the entire school. Seems there are lots of prizes. From free meals and those limited editions of Phi the Fox and friends. To search for these treasures, they have to answer questions which will turn out into its coordinates. If different teams come into contact, they can summon their Avatars and do battle over it. Kouta, Minami and Himeji are a team whereby Akihisa, Yuuji and Hideyoshi the other. Akihisa tries several guessing tactics used to guess unsure answers in exams but it didn’t work out. Luck is on Shouko-Yuuko-Aiko team as they easily find treasures. During the search, one of the locations reveals to be Himeji’s chiffon cake. You know what that means. I don’t know why the guys have to eat it and since there are 3 pieces of them, only 1 will be able to live. In the end, all of them took each other out. While Miharu continues to pester Minami’s ‘treasure’, Yuuji’s team continue their search randomly through different levels to cover more ground. At the end of the day, the toy strap prize is at the rooftop but they encounter Shouko’s team and thus a summon battle begins. Thankfully, the time limit of the treasure hunt is over so this means Akihisa has the right to claim that prize. Akihisa, Yuuji and Hideyoshi then get a box of Iron Bracelets. They put them on and are able to call forth their Avatar without needing a teacher’s permission. However Yuuji and Hideyoshi’s bracelet explodes, leaving only Akihisa’s intact. They conclude that only idiots can use it. Kaoru notes it needs a little tweaking while Hazuki is thrilled to receive the full set of toy straps.

Yuuji is at Akihisa’s place in episode 6 and due to some argument over food, they waste food by having a food fight. Tsk tsk tsk. Since the shower heater is down, the duo sneak into the school’s pool to clean themselves but was caught by Ironman and reprimanded to clean it next week. So the rest also come including Hazuki and Shouko (Yuuji knows too well the repercussions if he doesn’t tell her!). So the swimsuits and nose bleeds and too bad for Yuuji because Shouko pokes his eyes to prevent him from seeing other girls. That poor soul. Another poor soul is Minami because Miharu is there too… More poor souls because it’s break time and Himeji have made waffles for the guys. Yeah, a swimming competition to see who doesn’t get to eat it! Akihisa thinks his only rival is Yuuji because Hideyoshi has low stamina and Kouta has weakened due to massive nose bleeds. Yuuji also thought the same thing so when the competition starts, they both fight each other! This means Kouta and Hideyoshi got a head start! When they realized, Yuuji tries to stop Kouta while Akihisa on Hideyoshi. He accidentally rips his top causing the pool to be filled with blood from the nose. It’s ironic he gets into the competition as a guy but everyone sees him as a girl. When it’s over, they go to the public bath. Guess which side Hideyoshi has to take? Don’t worry, there is one gender especially for his case. Called ‘Hideyoshi’. Seriously? So the usual frolicking from the girls’ side with Miharu trying to molest you-know-who’s assets and Minami trying to gauge the bust size of the other girls but eventually lost to Himeji’s ‘attack strength’ of… I don’t know how many digits are there but it’s off the scale! Akihisa and Kouta try to peep and got scalded by the hot water in their foolish attempts. Akihisa attempts a summon but gets beaten up by the girls. Since his score is down to zero, Ironman emerges from the bath to take him away! You can’t escape the remedial.

Yuuji’s hell with Shouko continues in episode 7. Since Shouko won a ticket prize to an amusement park during the treasure hunt, she forces Yuuji on a date with her. Failing which if he breaks the promise, they will get married immediately. Like between a hard place and a rock, eh? To make things worse, Akihisa, Kouta and Hideyoshi are dressed up as the park workers. As usual the pain for Yuuji if he doesn’t listen to her. Oh wait, it’s the same if he does too. They encounter an obnoxious couple who mocks Shouko-Yuuji of being losers. While the trio workers tend to them, they made them upset so they chased after them. Yuuji and Shouko continue their date but encounter Himeji and Minami in a Phi the Fox mascot. It’s so obvious… They suggest the haunted house attraction so Shouko forcefully brings Yuuji there while Himeji and Minami confront and beat up Yuuji for a misunderstanding that he’s dating a college girl. Inside the haunted house, voices imitating Yuuji that he likes other girls sends Shouko into Jigoku Shoujo mode. Ippen shinde miru! Okay, she didn’t say that but you get the idea. During lunch, the gang sets up Yuuji and Shouko to play a wedding couple on stage. The obnoxious couple is there too and wants the wedding experience. Thankfully the guy flopped. Yuuji and Shouko dress up and they look gorgeous. The obnoxious couple continue mocking them and Shouko’s dream of being a bride, hurting her feelings. Akihisa was going to give them a piece of his mind but was restrained. By that time, Shouko had already left the stage. The gang go in search of her. Yuuji meets the obnoxious couple on their way out and fights with the guy. Shouko on her way home bumps into beaten-up Yuuji. He tells her straight that her feelings for him are misplaced but he won’t laugh at her dream because it is admirable she stayed loyal to a person for a long time though he feels he is the wrong one. In a rare ‘unhostile’ atmosphere, they walk home together as Shouko confirms she didn’t misplace her feelings after all.

During a summon battle, Akihisa’s Avatar goes haywire as there are thousands of them flooding the school in episode 8. Seems there was a guy who was trying to get into a secured area. But when security detected him, he escaped and tripped on a plug that causes the summoning system near the core to go berserk. Everyone’s Avatar turns into a sexy and hot version of themselves. Since there was a gay version of Yuuji and Kouta’s, you know where the pain will be coming from, right? Since the access door to get inside it to fix it is jammed, Kaoru decides to use the idiots to work. And that is to have Akihisa use his bracelet to summon his Avatar and enter the area and repair it. With the guidance and directions from his pals, Akihisa’s Avatar makes headway into the system but is attacked by his other friends’ Avatars who have gone hostile. Ah well, it’s the remedial classes again. Thankfully Akihisa attains lots of scores by doing simple maths questions so with this high level, he can at least fend off the hostile Avatars. Akihisa emerges victorious but that means the losers, Yuuji, Hideyoshi and Kouta will have to undergo remedial classes. Then he’s up against Minami and Himeji’s Avatars but gets tortured in an S&M way. Miharu interrupts and due to a blunder, Himeji takes out Minami and the yuri girl. Akihisa is weakened but he tells Himeji to take a Recovery Exam. Won’t that increase her score? Not if she doesn’t answer any questions and get a zero score. Akihisa beats her and is able to plug back the system and return it to normal. But Akihisa too have to undergo remedial class when Kaoru knocks his Avatar’s head. Like she says, don’t cling on to that little score of his. He happily joins his pals. When Youko notes how Kaoru took a huge gamble using them, she replies that you just need to know how to get along with idiots.

Akihisa’s sister, Akira, returns in episode 9 to check on her little brother’s living habits. She’s not the kind who uses force or violence to make Akihisa submit to her, but her sexual charms and sisterly love. Yeah, the kind of sister who wants to marry her brother. Another sicko. Because of that, Akihisa clearly remembers the conditions that allowed him to live alone: Not playing video games for more than 30 minutes a day and have no impure relations with girls. Too bad she can’t give him her kiss penalty. Akira uses a weird points system to add or deduct (more of the latter) to determine if he should continue living alone. Akihisa can’t take this anymore and SMS Yuuji. So happen that unlucky guy was confronted by Shouko who is concerned he received more SMS from Yuuji than her. Then Akihisa’s SMS come in saying “Can I sleep at your house? I don’t want to go home tonight”. Oh sh*t!!! Akihisa’s pals learn he is different than usual, so they decide to follow him home. They see lots of lingerie hanging around and Himeji is so in denial that she thinks they’re Akihisa’s clothes! Akira comes back from buying lots of foodstuff. They learn she is his sister. To Hideyoshi’s happiness, Akira recognizes him as a boy because there is no way Akihisa would have a relationship with a girl. That means she sees Himeji and Minami as boys! She even notes she permits relations with the same sex and adds points to his score! Sicko! Himeji decides to help for dinner and knowing that Akira is a horrible cook too, Akihisa and Yuuji decide to take over. Akihisa’s life is so over when Akira exposes his fetishes and words of comfort which actually break his heart. “The dumber you are, the more loved you are”. He’s got to be the dumbest idiot in the world then. On another day because Akira wants him to focus on studying while she does the cooking, Akihisa blows his top and will show her what he is capable of. He burns the midnight oil and aces in his exams. Oops, my mistake. He could’ve scored high marks if he didn’t write the answers in the wrong spot. Yeah, zero marks. One night he finds lots of Akira’s failed cookings in the fridge in realized she was trying hard to make his favourite dish. So he thanks her and says he loves her, causing her to blush.

Himeji is summing up her courage to give Akihisa her love letter in episode 10. But when she finally does, she realizes she messed up and it’s pictures of him in a maid outfit. How did it… Akihisa’s morning will never be the same because he is now alert when he wakes up or risk being smooched by Akira’s sisterly love. And even breakfast she feeds him with lots of liquid. Still can’t cook, eh? Don’t you just feel bloated? In class, Kouta is gathering data on girls’ bust size while Minami does a submission move on Akihisa and Shouko her usual painful eye-poking moves on Yuuji. Yuuko comes in to chide her twin for being stupid. Meanwhile Himeji is reading a book on how to deliver a love letter. An advice has her asking his friends but the results aren’t desirable. Know what happens when she asks Yuuji? What would Shouko take that as? Yeah, stamp your mark on the marriage registration now. Akihisa has been tasked to carry mock exam questions to the vault but slips. Being the honest guy he is, he didn’t peep and puts them safely inside. Then his friends start to panic that they lost their precious items: A love letter, marriage registration form, info of girls’ bust size and a nurse uniform. Akihisa realized that they may have got mixed up and put inside the vault with the questions. They are bent on helping each other out to retrieve those items.

Since the vault is very secured, Kyouji Nemoto from Class B proposes to work with them to break in. Note that he was the guy who tripped on the wire and caused the summoning system to malfunction a few episodes back. The Class F members use Akihisa as distraction to get keys while Nemoto uses a video cam to record today’s vault code. They manage to get their belongings but Nemoto’s ulterior motive is to steal the question papers. To him getting good scores is everything. Plus, he is confident the idiots are in the same predicament as he is so exposing him would mean exposing themselves too. In worse case, they may get suspended. Nemoto mocks their stupidity so Himeji stands up for them and argues otherwise. But in the end Nemoto leaves and tells them that they never saw or met each other. Akihisa is upset that Himeji was ridiculed so Yuuji says their 3 month ban is almost over and wants him to have another go at the Exam Wars. Using the bracelet, they steal the questions and scatter them all over school. All the students scramble for it and this puts a damper on Nemoto plans. Even so, exposed questions won’t be featured in the next exams so all that scramble was for nothing. Ironman reprimands the duo for it but he noticed something amiss because they sincerely apologized though they can’t tell the reason. Even so, he has them undergo Satanic reviews. They have really suffered a lot, don’t they? Lastly, Nemoto spots a basket of cookies in his locker and thinks it’s from a girl admirer. But those cookies are from Himeji and were put in there by Yuuji and Akihisa. You know what that means… Who has the last laugh now?

In a psychological move, Akihisa is made to go declare war on Class D in episode 11. Yeah, he gets beaten up again. The class rep of Class D, Genji Hiraga accepts their challenge. Yuuji shows he is a true tactician by understanding his team, opponent and the surroundings as he strategizes schemes to their advantage to clear the way for Himeji to take out Genji. Though Class D has their tricks and ambush, but it is still Class F that has the final trick. Yup, Akihisa bears the brunt of it all again. Something about an announcement that Akihisa will go out on a date with some single middle age teacher that turned the tables. The ultimate sacrifice! Though Class D made a final push by ambushing Yuuji, he isn’t afraid because his low scores were purposely leaked to catch his enemies offguard. Plus, those scores are outdated and his new ones you can say consider him a prodigy. In the end, Class F wins and as usual, Yuuji doesn’t have their class swapped. Their next target is Class B. Nemoto talks to his girlfriend of Class C, Yuuka Koyama, and he is looking forward to payback those idiots. When Class F return to their classroom, they find it has been ransacked. Their precious belongings gone. Yuuji wants them to remain calm since they know this is Nemoto’s doing.

The vengeful battle begins and though their scores are obvious, Akihisa plays psychological game by announcing Nemoto has a girlfriend. This sends the FFF Inquisition into kamikaze mode, piercing through the Class B defence. Akihisa spots Himeji being confronted by Nemoto. He has her letter in his hands and mocks her he’ll give it back once it is over. Akihisa confronts Yuuji and wants him to pull Himeji out. He agrees but in return Akihisa has to stand in her place. He agrees. With determination, Akihisa breaks through Class B’s wall in a surprise attack. Though Nemoto has his backup plan, it’s a diversion so Kouta can bust in from the window with Ironman and defeat Nemoto in his best subject. Class F causes a major upset as they are declared the winner. Yuuji agrees not to swap class setup on a condition that Nemoto wears a girl uniform. He is against it but would his other classmate agree to it? It’s his shame and dignity as compared to their class facilities. No choice! Akihisa gives Himeji’s letter back. He learns that it is that chain letter. She now has the courage to rip it apart because she feels she shouldn’t rely on it and wants to express her feelings through her own voice. She decides to call Akihisa by his first name. Lastly Shouko confronts Yuuji and wonders if he wants to get Class A that bad. Yuuji disagrees as he couldn’t care less about the setups. His intention is to show the world that academics isn’t everything (damn right!) and wants Shouko to give her all she’s got and not hold back.

With the battle with Class A coming up in episode 12, Akira makes Akihisa a steak meal as motivation. Pictures of steak, that is. Haha! And even if that wasn’t bad enough, there is a video of her in a swimsuit eating it! WTF?! In class, the gang are discussing strategies when Hideyoshi brings in stuff supposedly to be Yuuko’s weaknesses. Yaoi and BL books?! Of course Yuuko isn’t happy they stooped this low and vows to make them regret. Class A has a mock Exam War with Class B. Part of Yuuji’s plan is to have Hideyoshi dress up as Yuuko (they’re splitting images of each other) and barge into Class C to badmouth them. This causes them to be upset so Yuuka confronts Yuuko to have a mock Exam Wars. But when Yuuka sees Nemoto still dressed in a girl’s uniform, she misinterprets his fetish and break-up. Looks like he has become an idiot in another way. Subsequently, Class D and Class E also request a mock war with Class A. Yuuji explains his strategy since Class A students spend most of their time indoors studying, this means they have less stamina and the mock wars should wear them out. Plus, the reason Yuuji never swapped classes was to gather allies in the long run. The real battle starts so Class F continue to use their strategy to stay advantageous like luring Class A students one by one into an area where they get beaten up by a bunch of Class F guys. Then there’s one part Kouta steal their pants to ‘paralyze’ them. We now know how sick this gay Kubo is because he drops his own pants and wants Akihisa to come at him!

The battle on the rooftop pits Shouko-Yuuko against Akihisa-Yuuji-Minami-Himeji. Thanks to the bracelet that allows them to summon and train, they swiftly avoid Shouko and Yuuko’s attacks. Even with their low scores, as long as they keep hitting bit by bit, it’s better than nothing. Class A reinforcements arrive so Akihisa expands the closed space to drop a bell and foil their advance. Akihisa’s bracelet goes haywire and explodes, causing the bell to damage the building. Yuuji grabs Shouko’s hands before she falls to her doom and the same case for Akihisa for Himeji. They would have been goners if Ironman didn’t pull them up. Himeji hugs Akihisa in her relief so he comforts her. Yuuji and Shoko are seen holding hands even after being pulled up so Yuuji quickly pulls back his own. Just when everyone is recovering from the near-disaster, Yuuko’s Avatar pops up and hits Yuuji’s. Youko declares Class A as the winner. WHAT?! So close yet so far.

Now Class F’s tables have turned into drawing boards in episode 13! OMG! Sure everybody seems to accept that they’ve lost but are they really happy deep down? Even Akira gives Akihisa her sisterly advice to get back up and move on. Till her seducing charms set in, that is. Akihisa barges into Kaoru’s office to request for a rematch. To his surprise, even Shouko and Yuuko are there to request the same as they feel such a victory is unbefitting for Class A. However Kaoru isn’t going to bend the rules. But because she’s responsible for letting him use the prototype bracelet, she will make an exception. It will be a one-to-one test battle between Akihisa and Shouko and though the winner won’t get his/her class setup exchanged, he/she will get a wish granted. If Shouko wins, she’s going to register her marriage with Yuuji straightaway. Doomed I tell you! His future is on the line and rests in the hands of an idiot! Oh Yuuji! Life has you screwed! Akihisa gets more motivation from Hazuki who baked cookies for him so he burns the midnight oil studying. Battle day arrives and the format is sudden death. Both are to answer simultaneously and the first one that answers wrongly will be declared the loser and the test ends. Though Akihisa makes a nervous start, he manages to drag the test to the 32nd question when that Taika Reform question pops up. Is this a make or break? However Akihisa is torn between which is the correct answer! Doomed! Oh Yuuji, it’s the end! In a dilemma to choose which year, Akihisa uses his trusty pencil-guessing tactic to choose which answer! In the end, Yuuji gets it correct while Shouko answers wrongly. OMG! An upset! Class F wins!

In the aftermath, Yuuji confronts Shouko and wants to know why she did that on purpose. Apparently she knew what the correct answer was but because of the promise she made with Yuuji when they were young that she promised to remember that date regardless whether it was right or wrong. Plus, Shouko has gotten her hands on the marriage registration (courtesy of Kouta). Yeah, Yuuji’s life is still screwed. Akihisa has his wish granted: He wants Himeji to resit the Placement Exam again. He mentions that the purpose he started all the Exam Wars was for this so that Himeji will have a better environment to study in. Himeji takes the test and things indicate she is well on her way to Class A. The next day, Shouko seems disappointed because when she dragged Yuuji to register their marriage, they were being told the legal marriage age in Japan is 18 years old. Haha! Didn’t she know that? Yuuji saved… But Akihisa gets a shock of his life. Himeji’s class will be Class F. Seems she scored all correct but forgot to write her name. This means automatic zero points. Akihisa is so pissed that he barges into Kaoru’s room and calls her and idiot. But she and the rest retaliate and call him the same. Didn’t he realize? Himeji wants to study with them all. It’s not the setups, it’s the friends no matter how crazy and weird they are.

Wow! I can’t believe it is already over. But do not fear as there will be a sequel. I’m so looking forward to it. This is one of the very few shows that could retain my interest and had me glued to the screen from start to finish. I must say that I love all the jokes (no matter how corny and weird they are) and I had to keep my laughter in check so as not to drop down hard rolling on the floor and make my family suspect that I’m experiencing some kind seizure. There are quite a number of gay gags and subtexts but it was so funny that it wasn’t a bother to me. One could easily misinterpret if you see Akihisa and Yuuji close together. Not a very good sign if they’re in front of Shouko, Himeji and/or Minami. Kubo may be from Class A but he is outright gay over Akihisa that it makes him a loser.

Each of the characters are likeable in their own way and it’s fun to see them interact among themselves. For instance, Yuuji and Shouko. He can never escape her clutches. For the rest of us, death and taxes are inevitable things in life. Yuuji has a third. At times he may spout cool foresight and guidance but at other times, he is at the same level with Akihisa. Yuuji and Shouko’s relationship makes Spice And Wolf’s Lawrence and Horo very mild, if you know what I mean. Poor guy has to stand all the abuse from the self proclaimed wife. I’m sure he’d find solace in all those marriage jokes circulating in the internet.

Akihisa may not excel in his studies but it shows that even if one puts in effort, one can succeed. And being in a lower ranked class doesn’t mean your kindness and values should reflect that of it. Just like Himeji. To her she probably knows best that she studies better with her friends and even if you are rich in knowledge but poor in friends, you’re not better off than the person who has it the other way round. Just hope she won’t turn into an idiot after staying too long with them. To get so many bone breaking punishment from Minami, Akihisa must have drank lots of calcium and have strong bones. Likewise, the amount of blood that Kouta gushed out from his nose could easily be donated and save many lives. Probably in the sequel, I’ll get to see more mixed up and screwed up love triangles. Will Himeji or Minami reach Akihisa’s heart first or will it be Hazuki? Or worse case it will be Hideyoshi since even Akihisa thinks ‘she’ has a better chance. Don’t dismiss Yuuji-Akihisa too? Oh, I just had to come back to this gay point. But I know that the girls won’t easily give up as in the case of Miharu over Minami and Shouko over Yuuji. Who says you need intelligence to be in love? I was hoping the FFF Inquisition would make an impact since I find it amusing that Class F had such a clan. Other than their suicide attack on Class B, they’re just losers in hoods, that’s all.

Some of the visuals in the series are pretty interesting. Especially during the Exam Wars. For example, viewers are treated to a map-like illustration and animation while the battle takes place. Other than that, if you look closer, the art and drawing of the background scenery has, how should I put it, polka dots in them. If you don’t pay attention and aren’t picky then it shouldn’t be too distracting. Seeing that tests are an essential part of the show, there are many scenes whereby test questions are thrown across the screen. Due to my lack of knowledge in Japanese and other areas, I just ignored them ;p. Even the mid-intermission and next episode preview is in the form of question, answer and comment. We have the correct answer and teacher’s comment to that and also Akihisa’s answer and version with the teacher’s comment to it. Definitely his answer is wrong and well, weird-cum-funny. So is he just joking around or he really thinks the answers to those questions are like that. There are also lots of trivia and parodies for viewers to spot. If you know them well, that is.

This series subtly hints that academics isn’t everything. If you pay heed, you’ll get to learn great lessons that everything isn’t about study, study and study. Take for example Kaoru’s words that no matter how high one’s individual’s ability is, there is always a limit. Those who only worry about their own strength will never excel. It’s always best to work together with everyone because you don’t gain much or go far working hard by yourself. So if you’re still thinking the discriminating setups between Class A and Class F and wonder how on Earth would Class F be motivated to study with all the ruined facilities, then again, the answer lies in that person itself. Equal opportunity, you say? That depends on how the person makes use of what is available to him/her. Sure, rewarding those who have put in lots of effort as compared to those who didn’t should at least serve as motivation and not doing so may send the wrong signal that why should one work so hard if I don’t get anything in return or that guy also gets it. Like I said, it’s all down to what the individual wants. It’s always an ideal to be an all rounder instead of succeeding in one area.

Watching this series, made me remember those memories when I was still schooling and I may not be one of those at the top but at least I’m not at the bottom either. I never liked studying. Besides, don’t you know the word “STUDYING” stems from “STUdents DYING”! Haha! If such summon battle systems are to take place in every school, I think we could see lots of students spending more time levelling up their character like RPG. Hey wait, isn’t that what most people do now online these days? It’s a sad thing to see the paper chase for A’s in today’s world. I think I’ve said this before somewhere in my blog but I’ll say it again here as it is appropriate. “If everybody else is in the world is smart, will it make a difference if there is just 1 stupid guy?”. So how do you define an idiot? Is it a term the ‘smart’ ones came up as an excuse to cover the confusing gibberish that only their kind could understand? Are all anime otakus idiots too? Anyhow, I just hope all this won’t be on the test.

Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu

Yume De Aetara

November 6, 2010

In another one of my search for retro animes to watch, I guess Yume De Aetara (If I See You In My Dream) was lucky to be stumbled upon, got my attention and my guts gave the green light to ahead and watch it. This is a year 1998 production TV series and boy, it sure seems like a very long time then. I’ve said it too often for animes from this era, that how far the anime industry has come.

Though there are only 16 episodes, each episode lasts only 6.5 minutes! Perhaps it’s better to let some development go on rather than dragging it on for several episodes like some animes (I’m sure you can name some very famous ones too). This series is comedy romance based and the main protagonist is a 24 year old Masuo Fuguno, an ordinary salary man. What is so ‘extraordinary’ about him? Well, he’s a virgin and has no experience with women. Is this supposed to hint that all men at that age would have lost their virginity? Masuo is of course like any other guy. He has a crush on the beautiful kindergarten teacher, 22 year old Nagisa Shiozaki, who is also a virgin. Are they trying to imply that women at that age are supposed to be… Never mind. The fun part is seeing how the clumsy and dense but gentle Masuo ends up in ambiguous situations easily misinterpreted by Nagisa. No doubt Masuo may be popular with many of the ladies, but his heart is truly set on Nagisa and only Nagisa. If seeing is believing, it’s just too bad Masuo ends up like that many times. Well, don’t believe everything you see either.

In episode 1, Masuo goes to see Nagisa at the kindergarten while on his way to work. His new colleague, Miho Hamaoka (who is also the daughter of the director in the company he is working in) sees him. Nagisa brushes off her pals’ teasing that Masuo is her boyfriend. She just sees him shortly before going off, breaking her heart. Miho thinks she’s his girlfriend but Masuo feels dejected that Nagisa just called him only her friend. At office, Masuo’s other colleague, Namiko Isobe, agrees to help him hook up with Nagisa. For a fee: 30,000 Yen! Is it really worth it? Though broke, but I guess he feels he is going to get his money’s worth. Namiko takes him to a sushi bar Nagisa and her pals frequent. They continue teasing her of her ‘boyfriend’. Seems all the other girls get friendly and take a liking for Masuo. At the end, Nagisa and Masuo take drunk Akashi back while the rest continue their session. Back home, Akashi gets flirty and clingy when Masuo puts her to bed. She wants him to kiss her and not leave. Nagisa storms away before Masuo could explain the misunderstanding. But why is Nagisa feel so irritated then? Next day, Namiko chides Masuo for going after another woman in front of Nagisa. Since he blew his chance, she feels he has no more hope and should give up on her.

Masuo tries to quell the misunderstanding in episode 2 but Nagisa says Akashi told her she woke up naked in the morning. She doesn’t want to see his face again. What actually happened was Masuo left soon after Nagisa, Akashi stripped herself naked, bathed and went straight back to sleep. Masuo regrets meeting a fortune teller back then who told him he will never have a girlfriend or get married. Miho is in the midst of getting hit by several men but she turns them down and goes to have lunch with Masuo instead. Masuo decides not to give up on Nagisa when they talk about persistency. Namiko goes out with Nagisa. She tells her to forgive him and wonders why she is mad if she doesn’t consider him her boyfriend. On the way home, Nagisa sees Masuo waiting for her. Since he couldn’t bring himself to say anything, she tells him to be firm and confident and shouldn’t feel guilty if he hasn’t done anything wrong. He sums up his courage to ask her to go out with him in which she agrees.

In episode 3, Masuo is so happy that he’s floating in mid-air! The passers-by are wondering what is wrong with this dude. This even made a little girl cry?! Being in love is scary sometimes. Masuo can’t concentrate on work and fantasizes about his first date. Miho requests Masuo for a favour. She’s doing overtime work and knows her superior is trying to hit on her after that by going out for drinks. She wants Masuo to help cover for her and pick her up like as though they have an appointment. They do so and when they’re about to leave, the elevator stopped working. No choice but to wait till help arrives, Masuo gives his coat to Miho but decides to share it with him and sits close by together. Next morning, Nagisa patiently waits for Masuo for their date. Masuo and Miho barely got out from the lift and rush to where Nagisa is. Luckily she’s still waiting and while catching his breath, Miho explains “We were alone together for the whole night”. Shocked Nagisa slaps him and leaves. Miho thinks she may have said something weird. Damn right she did.

Nagisa goes back and tells Namiko about this in episode 4. She also reveals how she did fell in love with a guy before. A tennis coach in her school. They even kissed! But some other girl snatched him away from her and that broke her heart. Thus the reason why she still doesn’t trust men. Masuo confronts Nagisa to clear up the misunderstanding but she yells back that he should be like a man and say it: That he is dating Miho. She tells him he is the worst. Masuo’s life plunges to new low levels. Masuo and Miho are assigned to entertain a big customer of their company. The company boss is making Miho drink and molesting her. She holds it in for the sake of the contract to be signed. Matsuo, reflecting on Nagisa’s words, can’t stand it anymore and tells him off so the boss becomes upset and will get him fired. Miho wonders why Masuo is always kind to her so he says he just wanted to say it straight like a man. She hugs him and pleads for him not to resign. So happen Nagisa was passing by and saw this.

Yeah, Masuo saw her too in episode 5. By the time he sees Miho off in a taxi, Nagisa is long gone. NoooOOoooOOOooo!!! Not only had he lost the contract, but Nagisa too. Nagisa learns from Namiko on what Masuo did so she feels guilty that she jumped to conclusions. She decides to go see him but when she arrives at his office, Masuo had just left with Miho. Masuo’s colleague, Funakoshi, tells Nagisa that they have left and she may be able to catch them at the train station. Miho says if Masuo resigns, she will resign too. Miho confesses she loves him but he thinks she’s just teasing him. When Nagisa arrives, she is disheartened to see Masuo putting his hand over Miho’s shoulder as they board the train. Masuo sensed a killing intent and his worst nightmare came true when he turned around only to see Nagisa. However she just waved and wished them to be happy together as the train door shuts. Can this day get any worse for him?

Since the parent company found out in episode 6, Masuo won’t be resigning. But he’s still unhappy about the misunderstanding with Nagisa. Miho notices him depressed so she goes to talk to Nagisa and explain things. Since she learns it is a one-way love, Miho thinks of giving Masuo a hand-knit sweater because she thought it was rude to give a present like that if he had a girlfriend already. Next day Masuo goes to talk to Nagisa at the kindergarten but she refuses to listen. The cheeky kids say that he got dumped! But he remains persistent and waits for her that night. She says to give up on her because she can’t give him the kind of relationship he wants. He doesn’t mind as long as he is with her. But she just ran off crying because she thinks she’s not good enough for him. When Masuo comes home, he gets a call from Miho. She’s in pain and pleads to him for help.

Masuo rushes over in episode 7 and is shocked to see Miho lying on the floor clad in only a towel. All those sexual innuendos I assure was just Masuo putting Miho back in bed and why is he blindfolded putting her pyjamas on for her?! Is she that weak to dress herself? Or she just wants to let him do it? Miho holds his hand and sends him to ecstasy and confesses her love for him again. Namiko was bored so she called Nagisa’s ‘rival’ but is surprised to hear Masuo picking up the call. Since Miho is in pain, Masuo says he is busy and puts down the phone. Know the interferences in communication? Yeah, Namiko tells Nagisa Masuo is busy making love in Miho’s room! Nagisa reflects on Masuo’s words of any relationship with a man and woman is fine with him. Next day Masuo is totally over the moon when Nagisa accepts his Christmas Eve invitation. But he is unable to tell it straight to her about his night with ill Miho so pissed Nagisa says she hates liars and cancels the Christmas Eve plan. Oh the heartbreak once more…

In episode 8, Masuo is the only person who hasn’t close a sale in December. That means no bonus for him as his superior Misaki puts it. Masuo tries to get a company president to sign a contract but was made to sell 100 Christmas cakes in a Santa suit. Nagisa and Namiko are at a Christmas Party. The latter says how Masuo will turn up because she told him to come over. Nagisa waits patiently for him. But Masuo’s sales isn’t doing well and he is running out of time. Misaki comes by and tells him that she’s got the signature and to leave the rest to her. Masuo rushes to the Christmas Party but the place is already closed. Luckily Nagisa is there. He gives her a present and tells about the incident with sick Miho. Later that night, Nagisa declines Namiko’s invitation to go out drinking because she’s taking care of sleeping Masuo back at her place. While she takes a shower, sleepy Masuo gets up needing to go pee and accidentally sees her naked. I guess he was really sleepy because his reaction took longer than usual so Nagisa kicks him out of the house and into the freezing cold.

While Masuo is really happy in episode 9 because he confessed to Nagisa he loves her outside the Christmas Party building, Miho isn’t because he ignored her while daydreaming. Seems Miho is in trouble after forgetting some delivery voucher and tells Masuo about it. He goes to confront the chief in charge, Nimi, but he says he’ll tell Miho personally and leaves it to Masuo to handle the rest. Miho tells Masuo that Nimi has invited her to a hotel lounge to clear things up. Seems Nimi is molesting Miho who has drank too much. Masuo is on a date with Nagisa and reflects Funakoshi’s words that Nimi is a womaniser. So happen the movie they’re watching is about a chief trying to force himself on his junior colleague. It then hit Masuo so he ditches Nagisa right in the middle of the movie to go save Miho! WHAT?! I can’t believe he did that! Nimi is on his way bringing Miho to a hotel room but Masuo comes between them. Relieved Miho rushes into his arms and Nimi has no choice but to give up. As Masuo and Miho leave together, Masuo gets another shock because Nagisa saw them so close together. She was wondering why he left the cinema and tailed him. Too bad another misunderstanding as she leaves in a taxi.

Word of Masuo’s ‘two-timing’ reaches Namiko’s ears in episode 10. Miho tells Masuo that her dad has arranged a marriage meeting for her. They talk about it and I don’t know what Miho’s version of happiness is. To live in a very poor state and shabby house with Masuo but happy as long as they’re together. Some fantasy that was. Because Masuo didn’t really say he’s against the marriage meeting, Miho is upset that he is still thinking about Nagisa and leaves. Masuo goes to see Nagisa at the kindergarten and explains the seen-with-Miho-at-the-hotel incident and her marriage meeting. Masuo says he loves her, causing her to blush and this is made more embarrassing when the cheeky kids stare at them. So I guess to get him off her back, she says she understands, making him feel happy. Miho’s dad is not happy that she turned down the marriage meeting. She is adamant she’ll find her own happiness and man to marry so daddy thinks it’s Masuo (because of his picture in her room). Masuo must be feeling very chilly someone is talking about him… Thread carefully…

Masuo gets a shelling from Misaki in episode 11 on his poor work performance. On his way, he sees a bridal shop and remembers a flashback whereby he noticed Nagisa staring at the bridal gown. Though she denied that they haven’t gone that far yet. Masuo works late into the night and bumps into Miho on the streets. She tells him that she plans to turn down the marriage proposal and invites him to go out with her tomorrow. As she hangs out with him at the park, she starts noticing Masuo breaking down in tears over his work stress so she hugs and comforts him. She says “I love you”. That’s the third time, right? Still think it’s a joke? Nah, he’s too sad to think about it. Also by now you must have guessed what comes next. Nagisa saw them. But the scene was too heartbreaking to interrupt so I guess she just runs away. Miho’s dad’s assistant is reporting to him about Masuo. Not very good qualities about his character if I should say. He is not going to let that trash lay his fingers on his daughter. And for Masuo, isn’t the chill getting a lot colder recently?

Namiko hints to Masuo that Nagisa saw the chest-hugging-comfort in episode 12. Now he’s in another sh*t! He tries to call Nagisa to clear things up but she isn’t interested. Namiko decides to help him up by creating a story to Nagisa saying that Masuo was saving money to buy a ring and wedding dress for her. He got burdened by lots of work and since he couldn’t show his tears to her, he confided in Miho. Nagisa felt guilty and used an excuse to go to a convenience store so that she could call Masuo. She asks if he has any plans tomorrow but Masuo remembers he promised going out with Miho and lies that he is unable due to work. She understands and will do so the next time when he isn’t busy. Masuo is happy because Nagisa forgave him. Next day, Miho hands Masuo her hand-knit sweater as they go about on their fun date. He notes how Miho is a good girl and would’ve fallen in love with her if he had not met Nagisa first. At the end of the day, Miho now has confidence to reject the marriage proposal. Masuo says that has got nothing to do with him as he still loves Nagisa. Miho takes it as he’s dumping her. Since he’s trying not to break her heart, Miho kisses him! We all expect Nagisa to see this, right? Well it wasn’t her. Her dad did. HOLY SH*T!!!

Masuo is having nightmares about that kiss in episode 13. It will be worse if Nagisa ever finds out. Namiko and Nagisa spot Miho and her dad entering a posh restaurant. Namiko decides to spy on them. Dad is okay with Miho rejecting the marriage proposal but wants her to return to the HQ of his company branch. Miho also declines that and mentions that there is someone she loves. He blows his top and shouts out loud that he can’t forgive the man who kissed her, attracting everyone’s attention. Miho is upset that her dad peeped on them though he calls it coincidence. Miho storms out. Nagisa is in deep shock while Miho’s dad is bent on sending Masuo far away. Misaki compliments Masuo’s improving performance but she gets call from her boss. Namiko confronts Masuo and is disappointed with the kiss after all this time she tried her best to help him out. He’d do anything to keep this a secret from Nagisa but you know she was there when it happened. Hell begins now. Masuo is called to Misaki’s room and she tells him that he will be transferred to another district branch for a year. Gasp! Now he can’t see Nagisa!

When Miho finds out about it in episode 14, she confronts her superior in hopes of rescinding the decision her dad made. Lifeless Masuo gets a call from Namiko saying that Miho is putting her body on the line to stop his transfer. It’s up to super Masuo to go to her rescue again. Luckily nothing happened when he arrived so he takes her away. They chat at the rooftop as Miho promises to be a good girl and will wait for him. Masuo says he’ll use this chance to become stronger and since it’s his fault for not being direct in the first place, he’ll propose to Nagisa when he returns. Miho faints when she heard that. Masuo calls Nagisa but she tells him never to speak to her again. With no choice, he waits outside her house in the rain. When she comes down to throw the garbage, she asks him directly if he did kiss Miho. He admits and got a swift slap as a response. Nagisa runs back in. Now that’s double whammy. So it does prove that the truth really hurts.

Namiko takes Masuo out for a meal to cheer him up in episode 15. She’s trying to hide the fact that she’s partly responsible for dragging Nagisa during her spying stint. Namiko then goes to Nagisa’s place and just tells her that Masuo has no time left. She is concerned what she meant by that. Masuo’s umpteenth call finally has Nagisa picking it up (yeah, that guy is so happy to hear her voice rather than the voice mail). He tells her about his transfer. Though it is shocking, she wishes him to have a good time there and puts down the phone. Miho takes Masuo out for dinner on the day before his transfer. She is thankful that she’s able to meet a person like him. When they part, tears stream down Miho’s cheeks as she runs away in embarrassment. Masuo is left standing in shock.

Masuo’s colleagues throw him a farewell party in episode 16 but Nagisa didn’t turn up. On his way home, he passes by Nagisa’s home. Outside the door, he says the kiss with Miho was his fault for being indecisive because he’s always been rejected by women. He understood Miho’s feelings that it hurt. She did everything for him so he couldn’t break her heart. He doesn’t know when he’ll return or what will happen but the truth is the only person he loves is Nagisa. Nagisa reflects on his words and remembers her own heartbreaking past and finally understood. Next morning she rushes to the train station and manages to see him. It was the much awaited kiss between them but the weird part was the glass door between them! Feels like kissing a picture frame, don’t you think? As the train leaves, Masuo breaks down and Nagisa says “If I see you in my dream”.

Shortly after, I found out that the TV series is a retelling of the 3 episode OVA that was released earlier back in 1998. As said, the principal characters and the overall storyline are still the same. Just that it has been told in a different manner. But the OVA doesn’t last just a few minutes this time. Almost 30 minutes.

Episode 1
On a rainy day, Masuo drops his papers in the streets. Nagisa helps him out and lends him her handkerchief. Masuo sees a fortune teller and gets disheartened when he’s being told he’ll never have a girlfriend or get married for life! Namiko and Nagisa are at a bar when a couple of guys try to hit on them. Nagisa feels uncomfortable and leaves. Namiko follows suit. Namiko talks to her and learns she’s a virgin, went to an all-girls school and fell men are rude and violent. Masuo exits the train station and spots Nagisa (initially she thought he was some stalker). They talk at the park as he returns her handkerchief. She says he don’t have to thank him for that day and was helping him because he looked so sad and lonely and couldn’t leave him alone. She learns he has no girlfriend and his destiny of being alone but she replies she knows how he feels because she’s the same. Then she realizes her apartment key is missing so Masuo helps to look for it and finds it. She wipes the dirt off his face before they part. She is confident he will find a girlfriend because he’s a kind person. Next day at office, Masuo is reeling in regret as he tells his colleagues Miho and Funakoshi that he forgot to ask Nagisa’s name and address. Namiko comes looking for Masuo. Seems he dropped his commuter pass that her friend found. It had his ID in it so she realized he worked in the same company as her. When Masuo realizes her friend is Nagisa, he asks for help to see her. She agrees but as a price (reward says she): 300,000 Yen.

Masuo takes time off during his work to visit the kindergarten Nagisa works. He meets a little real estate boss, Kujira. He is suspicious of Masuo for spying so he lies he’s trying to enrol his son here. They see Nagisa trying to retrieve a model plane stuck in a tree. The branch snaps and Masuo rushes to save her (I wonder why Kujira was preventing him from doing so). Unfortunately they ended up in a compromising position (his hand over her boobs). She slaps him. She soon realized and apologized. But when she learns from Kujira that he is here to enrol his son, she is upset with this liar and says she hates him. Back home, Nagisa gets a call from Namiko. She is wondering what happened because when Masuo came back to office, he was in a mess and in a daze. Nagisa tells her about the lie but Namiko says he is single and it is true because he is her colleague. When she learns Masuo is working late, she goes to see him at the train station. They both apologize as she gives him another umbrella of hers. Before she leaves, he manages to ask her name.

Episode 2
Masuo waits outside Nagisa’s house hoping to see her (now he’s like a stalker). He gets disheartened when he sees her being brought back by a tall handsome guy, Kaizuka. He is saddened and jumps to conclusion he is her boyfriend but she denies it. This was what happened. The headmistress of the kindergarten decided to play cupid and has set her up with Kaizuka the day before because she thinks it’s time she got settled down and married. Nagisa objected to it very much but she already made arrangements (even without her prior notice) so she had to go along with it. Nagisa then invites Masuo to the beach in which he gladly accepts. He is so happy that he’s hugging the lamp post in his daydreaming. But his dream comes crumbling down because it seems Kaizuka, Miho, Funakoshi, Namiko, Kujira and the kindergarten teachers are also tagging along. At the beach, it seems Masuo isn’t the only one planning to be with Nagisa. Kaizuka and Kujira too. Competition is heating up but Masuo makes a fumbling start as the other girls drag him away to play with them leaving Nagisa with viewer’s non-favourites. Nagisa must be so uncomfortable sitting on a boat between 2 idiots trying to vie for her attention. Kujira dives into the ocean to get the fish so this leaves Kaizuka a chance to get closer with Nagisa as he says he wants to start a serious relationship with her. While Nagisa gives her reasons why she can’t, Kujira pops up and struggles with Kaizuka that they both fell into the water. So when she’s done talking, she realized she’s alone (she didn’t realized the boat rocked?) but gets uncomfortable when she posts the other girls getting friendly with Masuo on shore.

That night when the girls are in their yukatas, Namiko has Masuo go get her bug spray in her room. Seems Nagisa is changing but what bugged me was Masuo didn’t realize she was in there till he almost left the room with the spray! Blur case. Almost. It’s understandable that Nagisa didn’t want to talk to him. During their journey through the woods to watch the fireworks, Kujira and Kaizuka try to outwit each other so much so it’s sickening. Nagisa was oblivious to those blokes fighting that she went ahead and when she realized, she’s lost. By the time Masuo and the other girls catch up, they see the goons still fighting. Masuo realizes Nagisa is missing and rushes to search for her. He calls out to her name but Nagisa remains silent when she thinks back how friendly he was with the other girls. Eventually he finds her but she remains silent and wants him to leave her alone. He apologizes for the accidental-room-entry incident and though it was an accident, he will never do something like that on purpose. He leaves her missing sandal and torchlight before leaving. The fireworks light up and Masuo turns around to see Nagisa’s crying face. She can’t hold back anymore and cries in his arms while he comforts her. While everyone else watches the fireworks at a spot, Nagisa and Masuo watch it on a tree branch holding each other’s hands and share a laughter.

Episode 3
Namiko teases Nagisa that she’s cooking for Masuo though she says she’s cooking for everybody but plans to ask Masuo if he’s free on Christmas Eve. Nagisa’s attempts to call him hits a dead-end as he couldn’t answer the phone due to circumstances. Miho gives Masuo an early Christmas present and he accompanies her back home. Miho gets real close to him. He notes the good girl she is and if he hadn’t meet Nagisa first, he would’ve fall for her. Miho pleads to Masuo to let her visit his place. In his room, he is trying to put away his adult magazines but too late because she spots them. She didn’t freak out but was fascinated instead. Masuo is still embarrassed so in his struggle to put the magazine away, he lands over her in a compromising position. Miho hints to give her a kiss and I don’t understand why he was going to go with that though he is hesitant. Must be his inner urge, eh? But they are interrupted when the door bell rings. It is Nagisa and she wants to take his measurements for a sweater she is knitting for him. Then she sees Miho and misunderstands why he didn’t pick up the phone. She runs away in tears. Masuo tries to go after her but Miho stops him and wants him to stay with her. Back home, Namiko knows something is wrong. Nagisa is upset she doesn’t understand men. At office, Masuo pleads to Namiko if Nagisa said anything. She says Nagisa isn’t mad, but disappointed. Next few days, Masuo and Nagisa carry on their lives without seeing each other.

On a day Masuo is determined to tell Nagisa the truth, Kaizuka beats him to it. He plans to give her a ride home. Nagisa initially declined but when she sees Masuo, she changes her mind. She doesn’t want to see him ever again. Kaizuka can tell something is wrong and thinks she should hear him out but she just tells him to drive on. Masuo borrows a bicycle from Nagisa’s pal to chase them. I can’t believe a bicycle can catch up to a sports car! Maybe Kaizuka eased on the peddle. Even more unbelievable is while catching his breath peddling so hard, Masuo can even have time to explain the Miho-in-his-room incident. He apologizes for it but couldn’t refuse her then because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. Because girls always rejected him and always alone, he understood her feelings. Though Masuo crashes into the vending machine, he didn’t give up. Picking himself up, he continues to chase. This time Kaizuka speeds off so Masuo crashes for good after slipping on a can.

He wakes up in hospital with Namiko, Funakoshi and Kujira visiting him. Miho decides to care for him till he gets better. Nagisa and Kaizuka also plan to visit Masuo but Nagisa changes her mind, gives her present for Masuo to Miho to hand it over to him on her behalf. Miho lies to Masuo that the present from Nagisa is bought by her. But soon she apologizes and tells the truth. Parked somewhere, Kaizuka is preparing to kiss Nagisa but he stops when he sees tears streaming from her eyes. When Masuo realizes Nagisa’s present, her hand-knit sweater, he limps out of the hospital into the cold. Nagisa also rushes back and sees him collapsed in the snow. In tears she holds him in her arms. They both apologize. Masuo says she is the only one he loves. She replies she knows that now. He hands her his present, a pair of gloves. He is glad his wish of spending Christmas Eve with her had come true. Finally they both kiss.

If I am still dreaming…
Unless this is only a one-off thing and their relationship don’t blossom from here (which highly will), I guess you could say the fortune teller’s prediction was totally off mark, eh? Masuo has finally strike her heart bulls-eye. As comparison between both versions, the OVA seems to have established a firmer fact that Masuo and Nagisa finally realized that they are the ones for each other. Unlike in the TV series it was left hanging and a little sad because the duo got separated and wasn’t together in the end. Either ways, Nagisa eventually recognized the love Masuo had for her. I was just wondering in the TV series why Miho’s dad just sent Masuo away for a year. If he was that adamant, shouldn’t he be sending him away forever? Was he that confident he will completely change over a year?

Also in the TV version, Masuo has undergone various meltdown modes as we see him being depicted in various forms that way. Call it exaggerations or what but when the love of your life rejects you, your life is as good as over. It is odd that Nagisa and Masuo have to be at the wrong place and wrong time for so many misunderstandings to occur so much so I’m wondering if there is such a pattern to it. It was like getting predictable. This was not so obvious in the OVA since Nagisa’s reactions are always shown in a way that points towards Masuo. Though she’s just not being honest with herself due to her past experiences with men. Luckily that has become a thing of the past after meeting Masuo.

Miho to me felt more persistent in her pursue for Masuo’s love in the TV series as compared to the OVA. Though in the latter she just made 1 bold move to come into Masuo’s room, she never felt like a very real threat to Masuo and Nagisa’s relationship or turn it into a complicated love triangle. Of course the misunderstandings, there is bound to be. Probably because in the TV series, Miho stole Masuo’s first kiss and perhaps that was a defining moment in his life. Ironically though both versions have fanservice elements in them, I am surprised that the TV version has nudity in it. It is usually the OVA version which has so. In this case, you can see the topless body of the females in the TV version while the OVA have none of that. Strange isn’t it?

Sometimes when I look at Masuo’s case, I can relate his situation which is somewhat similar to mine. Probably being an otaku locking myself up at home watching animes is the main reason why I am unable to get a girlfriend and not good with girls. Do 2D girls count? At least I don’t have to get into embarrassing and misunderstood situations like that poor guy. At least he tried and got it right after the umpteenth try. Maybe being a virgin for life isn’t such a bad thing after all.

 Yume De Aetara

My first versus blog featuring three animes based around art. They are Sketchbook ~Full Color’s~ (Sketchbook), Hidamari Sketch (Hidamari) and GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class (Geijutsuka). Art isn’t my favourite or strong subject but it doesn’t stop me from watching them because of the comedy factor (if not the slice of life genre too). Is it because of their quirky and wacky behaviour that contributes to their creativity in art or they’re just like that? Or are they really natural born talents? Since art is a relatively subjective subject, it all depends on the eye of the beholder. Make sure you have the same group of people that have the same taste as you do.

The school
Sketchbook: Fukuoka High School.
Hidamari: Yamabuki Art High School.
Geijutsuka: Ayanoi High School.

The main girls
Notice that all 3 series feature a group of girls in an art club? Is the fairer sex better in art? What a total u-turn than those days when they were dominated by men.
Sketchbook: Sora Kajiwara, Natsumi Asou and Hazuki Torikai.
Hidamari: Yuno, Miyako, Sae and Hiro.
Geijutsuka: Kisaragi Yamaguchi, Miyabi “Kyouju” Oomichi, Tomokane, Namiko Nozaki and Miki Noda.

Other classmates
Other supporting characters of the art club (may or may not be in same year).
Sketchbook: Kokage Kuga, Nagisa Kurihara, Asaka Kamiya, Juju Sasaki, Daichi Negishi, Ujou Sugyou, Ryou Tanabe, Fuu Himuro, Kate and Tsukiyo Ooba.
Hidamari: Nazuna, Nori and Natsume.
Geijutsuka: Chikako Awara, Mizubuchi, Uozomi, Homura and Tomokane’s brother.

The naive one
Which group will be complete without them?
Sketchbook: Sora.
Hidamari: Yuno.
Geijutsuka: Kisaragi.

Always seen with
Refers to the object that is always seen possessed by the naive one. Some sort of a trademark.
Sketchbook: Her sketchbook. And when outside for a walk, her straw hat.
Hidamari: Her ‘X’ hair clip accessory.
Geijutsuka: Her spectacles (always seem like wanting to fall off her face).

Her dreams
No, not referring to the naive one’s goal in life, but the sleeping one. And it’s a little weird too.
Sketchbook: In episode 11, Sora wakes up from a dream that she fed the cats expired food.
Hidamari: The first season has several episodes Yuno having weird dreams. In episode 5, sick Yuno dreams of arriving at school late to see Principal in singlet and shorts. And it’s snowing, you know. In episode 6, Yuno gets chased by a red cloak and misinterprets the red curtain as failing grades. Then in episode 11, she dreams of being abducted by aliens who then performed experiments on her!
Geijutsuka: In episode 8, Kisaragi dreams of being in a dream and in a dream. Among the weird surrealism happening are the locker room getting flooded, an eternal staircase and Namiko hanging from the sky.

The energetic one
The one responsible for many of the jokes and troublemaking incidents. Call them the joker of the pack.
Sketchbook: Natsumi and Asaka.
Hidamari: Miyako.
Geijutsuka: Tomokane and Noda.

Morbid-looking one
The one that have an aura of mystery around them. A little taciturn too. Sometimes creepy…
Sketchbook: Kuga.
Hidamari: Nil.
Geijutsuka: Kyouju.

The annoyed one
Seems they need a little anger management themselves after sometimes needing to put their feet down on the pranks caused by the mischievous ones.
Sketchbook: Negishi.
Hidamari: Sae.
Geijutsuka: Namiko and Awara.

The masculine one
Some girls display more masculine traits than their feminine side.
Sketchbook: Juju.
Hidamari: Sae.
Geijutsuka: Tomokane.

Hairstyles
Not your usual straight hair or pony-tails.
Sketchbook: Ooba has unkempt hair and long bangs that cover her eyes.
Hidamari: Hiro’s hair ‘spreads out’ like Medusa on wet rainy days.
Geijutsuka: Noda, also a fashion lover is seen with a different hairstyle in many episodes.

Siblings
Some of the characters in the series have little siblings.
Sketchbook: Ao is Sora’s little brother.
Hidamari: Chika is Sae’s little sister.
Geijutsuka: Tomokane’s brother (that’s what he is known in the anime as) is Tomokane’s well, older brother.

Teacher
The teacher of the art club.
Sketchbook: Hiyori Kasugano.
Hidamari: Yoshinoya.
Geijutsuka: Takuma Sotoma.

Other teaching staff
Sketchbook: Soyogi Asakura.
Hidamari: The Principal, Kawahara and Mashiko.
Geijutsuka: Mayumi Usami and Sasamoto.

Adult child
The teacher that acts like a kid rather than her age.
Sketchbook: Kasugano.
Hidamari: Yoshinoya.
Geijutsuka: Usami.

Animal mascot
Notice the animals featured in the series?
Sketchbook: Cats.
Hidamari: I don’t know if that bug on Hidamari Apartments could be considered as an animal. If not, then the bunch of doves.
Geijutsuka: Chickens.

The cat factor
Somehow these characters seem to be close to the little feline friend.
Sketchbook: Sora.
Hidamari: Miyako (at least for 1 episode).
Geijutsuka: Kisaragi (at least the cat sketches seen in her sketchbook).

Phobia
Sketchbook: Natsumi fears thunder.
Hidamari: Hiro is afraid of ghosts.
Geijutsuka: Usami is scared of blood donations.

Sleeper
Zzzz… Not to mean that they love sleeping.
Sketchbook: Kasugano (because she’s lazy).
Hidamari: Hiro (not a morning person to be exact).
Geijutsuka: Awara (she loves sleeping in her art club room?).

Outdoor art assignment
You can’t be cooped up in the classroom all year long if you want to hone your art skills further, right?
Sketchbook: In episode 4, Sora and Nagisa had an art field trip at an isolated park with lush greenery.
Hidamari: In episode 11 of the first season, the gang leaves for a sketching field trip to the zoo. Then in episode 9 of the third season, the gang did outdoor sketch at a park.
Geijutsuka: In episode 7 whereby the gang visits the art gallery whereby one of their classmates won an award and had her works exhibit there.

The camera factor
It’s not about brushes and palettes too, you know.
Sketchbook: Minamo (Negishi’s sister) has a habit of carrying a camera wherever she goes and snapping pictures that interests her. In episode 10, Minamo lends Sora her camera so that she could take some pictures.
Hidamari: In an OVA episode of the second season, Sae bought a second-hand Polaroid camera as she and her friends take pictures of each other in different poses and costumes.
Geijutsuka: In episode 4, viewers get to learn tips on how to use photos effectively for art. Also, the gang experiments with this by using their handphones to snap photos as part of their assignment.

The food factor
Yummy…
Sketchbook: Sora feeding the cats expired food. And P-chan experiencing a cold shiver whenever its owner Kasugano expresses her desire to eat chicken meat!
Hidamari: Feast your eyes on the various delicious dishes that Yuno has to offer! And Miyako is a glutton herself…
Geijutsuka: After talking about apples and gravity, the girls decide to go try out a new apple menu at a cafe. Then a time when the girls gather at Namiko’s place for an assignment and ends up making Yami Nabe. Then it turned into Chaos Nabe. Scary!

Skits
Sketchbook: The pair of Drama Queens (that’s what I called them), Ryou and Fuu doing weird comedy gags and jokes directly addressed to the audience.
Hidamari: The yonkoma at the next episode preview.
Geijutsuka: There is a short play before the start of each episode.

The Yuko Goto factor
The characters she voiced in the series.
Sketchbook: Kate.
Hidamari: Hiro.
Geijutsuka: Nil.

The Miyuki Sawashiro factor
The characters she voiced in the series.
Sketchbook: Nil.
Hidamari: The Landlady.
Geijutsuka: Tomokane and her brother.

Art and visuals
Other than the ordinary 2D drawing.
Sketchbook: The beautiful sceneries.
Hidamari: Usually done as shift changer, some of the visual styles include real photo cut-outs, labelling of objects and marker pen-like drawings.
Geijutsuka: In each episode, there will be simple and basic lessons on art techniques.

Episode order
Sketchbook: In chronological order.
Hidamari: In mixed up and anachronic order.
Geijutsuka: In chronological order.

Episode title
Refers to the naming of the title of each episode.
Sketchbook: Normal. Nothing extraordinary.
Hidamari: Have dates in which the event occurs.
Geijutsuka: Mainly named after types of art that is featured in that episode.

Background music
This is what I noticed the big chunk of the background music to be.
Sketchbook: Slow and casual, feels like lounge music.
Hidamari: Fun and simple tunes.
Geijutsuka: Jazzy and easy pieces.

Opening and ending themes
Sketchbook: Opening theme is Kaze Sagashi by Natsumi Kiyoura and ending theme is Sketchbook Wo Motta Mama by Yui Makino.
Hidamari: All opening themes from 3 seasons are sung by Kana Asumi, Kaori Mizuhashi, Ryoko Shintani and Yuko Goto. They are Sketch Switch (opening 1), Hatena De Wasshoi (opening 2) and Dekiru Kanatte Hoshimittsu (opening 3). All ending themes from 3 seasons are sung by Marble. They are Mebae Drive (ending 1), Ryuusei Record (ending 2) and Sakura Sakura Saku: Ano Hi Kimi Wo Matsu, Sora To Onaji De (ending 3).
Geijutsuka: The opening theme is Osaki Ni Sil Vous Plait by Haruka Tomatsu, Miyuki Sawashiro, Yui Horie, Ai Tokunaga and Kaori Nazuka. The ending theme is Coloring Palettes and each have their own version depending on which of the girls is singing it.

Number of episodes
Sketchbook: The TV series has 13 episodes.
Hidamari: Spanning over 3 seasons, the first season had 12 episodes, the second season had 13 episodes and the third season had 12 episodes.
Geijutsuka: There are 12 episodes in the TV series.

Specials
Other non-TV episodes. Means if you but the DVD you get to watch these extras…
Sketchbook: 6 episodes of Picture Dramas.
Hidamari: The first season had 2 special episodes while the second season had a “fourteenth” OVA episode plus additional 2 special episodes.
Geijutsuka: A single OVA episode was released back in April 2010.

Conclusion
Each of the series has their own unique points so it is hard for me to say which one is better. I like Sketchbook because of the numerous background music which truly provides ear candy to me (not forgetting the Drama Queens). I like Hidamari because of the various art visuals on display as well as the amusing weirdo Yoshinoya (she’s got to be the weirdest of the weirdest) and I prefer Geijutsuka in terms of the insights and enlightenment of several art techniques and methods. Ultimately in all series, it is the behaviour of the characters that drives the story and how they interact with each other. My drawing still sucks big time so it’s no surprise that I don’t even draw my own doujin work (if I ever had one in the first place). So being an artist may not make you a millionaire in your lifetime but it is the passion for it that makes many enthusiasts continue with their love. Unless you’re already dead, that should rake in millions at Sotheby’s or Christie’s =p.

Sketchbook ~Full Color's~
Hidamari Sketch
GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class