Angel Beats

January 30, 2011

Do you ever think about the afterlife? Where to dead souls go especially restless ones? Will there be a transition world for them before they really pass on to the next? Those sentences may seem ambiguous because that is not what the anime series Angel Beats is about to explore. In this series, the setting of this so called Purgatory is a vast high school campus, filled with all the amenities from school halls to dormitories. Why the heck would you want to relive your high school days? I don’t know. Why is the Purgatory a high school area anyway? I don’t know. But I’m sure if I watch this show, I will be getting those answers. At least, that is what I thought.

The plot itself seems intriguing because it’s about a bunch of student council members called SSS (Shinden Sekai Sensen) trying to fight against God. Woah! Most of us would see this as a test of faith whatsoever. You see, since this is the afterlife, all the young ones here have died a horrifying or at least an unfulfilled youth. Deeming that unfair, they decide to rebel against God. If the Almighty was as powerful as everyone think He is, don’t you think He would’ve crushed them all a long time ago with ease? There are quite a number of mysteries surrounding this series as each episode goes by in hopes of finding the truth behind it all and learn the workings of this world. Oh, did I mention that you can’t die in this world? Well, you can feel pain or be killed, but you’ll be resurrected a short time soon after. This gives a whole new meaning to dying over and over again.

Episode 1
Newcomer Otonashi arrives in this world and doesn’t have any memories prior to this. He spots a girl, Yuri, trying to snipe the enemy believed to be an underling of God, Tenshi. Of course Otonashi doesn’t believe all this crap and goes to ascertain this himself by asking Tenshi, but she declines. He still doesn’t believe all that has happened so he tells Tenshi to prove that he isn’t dead. She stabs him. Ooohh. Next thing he knows, he wakes up in the infirmary and his wounds healed. But he gets killed again by a violent guy bearing a halberd. After waking up and wandering around in this world void of adults, he soon collapses. He opens his eyes to find himself in a room. Seems leader Yuri and the rest of her gang are arguing another rename of their group. She offers Otonashi to join them in their rebellion against God. They need all the help they can get, right? She introduces the other members which include Hinata (guy with blue hair), Noda (guy with halberd who is totally loyal to Yuri), Takamatsu (bespectacled guy), Fujimaki (guy with a short Japanese sword), Matsushita (big sized Judo guy), TK (rapper guy who spews nonsensical English words half the time), Ooyama (normal guy), Shiina (some kunoichi girl whose favourite line is “How shallow minded”), Iwasawa (leader of the diversion rock group and lead guitarist of Girls Dead Monster or GirlDeMo for short).

Later Otonashi learns more about this world from Yuri. There are NPC (non-playable characters) that act like normal students in this world. Think of them as those NPCs you see in RPG games. And then, if you are to fully pay attention in class and follow school rules, you’ll disappear. In short, if you found peace, you’ll move on. Yuri plans her Operation Tornado for them to get meal tickets from the NPCs. And you thought that was going to be something big. After going through details of the plan, that night everyone goes into action. GirlDeMo goes into action to draw the attention of the crowd. During that, student council president Tenshi appears before Otonashi. His handgun seriously isn’t enough to stop her when she unleashes her Guard Skill. Even with backup arm support and flashy explosives, none of the bullets penetrate her but deflected instead. Otonashi is dumbfounded at the ferocity of the fight. With enough time bought, a big fan is activated to blow all the meal tickets from the student as the guys make a retreat. As the gang have their meal at the cafeteria the next day, Otonashi ponders of the recent events that has happened.

Episode 2
In order for them to replenish their ammo for their fight against Tenshi, Yuri plans another operation to descend to the Guild via underground. However the path is long and filled with anti-Tenshi traps. This episode feels like a survivor series as each of the members get picked out one by one by the traps. Most of them in a silly way. The last duo standing left is Yuri and Otonashi. Otonashi learns a little about Yuri’s past and possibly how she end up in this world. She had 3 younger siblings and on the day her parents were out, their house was being robbed. The robbers did a cruel thing by holding Yuri’s siblings at hostage and gave her a time limit to find something valuable for them. For every 10 minutes passed, a sibling will be executed. Yuri frantically searched the house high and low but couldn’t find any. All her siblings died and it is only by that time the police arrived and had the robbers arrested. She was the only one left standing and thus her bitterness towards God. Though it isn’t clear how she died, she did mention it wasn’t by suicide. The duo finally reach Guild but Tenshi has arrived. Yuri orders them to abandon this place and return to the Old Guild. Yuri and some of the Guild members fight Tenshi to buy time for the rest to set explosives around the place. Eventually they emerge victorious and evacuate back to the Old Guild. Otonashi feels that Yuri makes a fine leader and it’s no wonder everyone follows her.

Episode 3
Iwasawa composes a new ballad song but Yuri feels it isn’t suitable to retain the crowd’s interest during their operations. Yuri then announces her next operation to infiltrate Tenshi’s room and enlists the help of a computer hacker whizz kid, Takeyama. He insists people call him Christ but nobody is ever interested and always gets cuts off when he does that. Later Otonashi sees a devoted fan of GirlDeMo, Yui, putting up posters of the band’s next performance. Another scatterbrain and airhead if I should describe her. Then Otonashi goes to hear GirlDeMo practice and later talks to Iwasawa. Learning that she came from a family that is always arguing, she found her solace in music and aspired to be a musician. Finding an abandoned guitar and with the talent to write songs, that was all she was living for. But one day fate dealt a cruel blow when she got hit by her drunken dad’s bottle. She was hospitalized and her life slowly and painfully faded away. That night while GirlDeMo goes into action, Otonashi isn’t happy that Yuri and co are just trespassing a girl’s room under the guise of some grand operation name. They find a few weird programmes. Meanwhile the teachers are trying to put an end to this concert and round up GirlDeMo. Till one of them touches Iwasawa’s beloved guitar. She takes it back and starts singing her ballad song. The crowd is astounded in silence. At the end of song, she feels at peace and disappears. Next morning as Yuri and her SSS members think what happened. She feels something odd as Tenshi is developing weapons on her own like the same way as they are. Because of this, there may be no God. Think about it. If she was a subordinate of God, wouldn’t He have given her even more awesome weapons?

Episode 4
With Iwasawa gone, Yui pleads to replace her but I guess she wasn’t convincing enough since she’s such an airhead. Seeing that they can’t pull off any big operations with the band in this state, Yuri proposes that everyone enters the school’s baseball tournament and the worse one will get a punishment worse than death! Hinata convinces Otonashi to join his team and goes around trying to convince others whom he wants part of his group but to his dismay, they already had others in mind. So he is left with urm… Let’s say not-so-good ones or those at the bottom of his pick list like Yui, Shiina, Noda and a couple of Yui crazy fans. Can this bunch of jokers win matches especially when Hinata and Yui are busy doing submission moves on each other? Apparently yes. With lots of luck. The teams are doing well as Yuri is very pleased watching from afar. But Hinata’s team is facing Tenshi’s team next. She’s got the student council vice president Ayato Naoi on her side too. Otonashi learns a little on Hinata’s past. He was on a baseball team and failed to catch a ball which ruined their team’s effort and chances. Feeling down and lousy, he was mocked by his peers and was ultimately given a ‘medicine’ to ‘calm his nerves’. Otonashi is worried that he might disappear. That predicament almost came true when Hinata is in a position to catch the ball. Otonashi tries to stop him from catching the ball but airhead Yui got to him first. Safe. But they lost. Well at least Hinata didn’t disappear. But with that folly, I hope Yuri isn’t serious for them both to disappear.

Episode 5
It’s exam time and Yuri plans to embarrass Tenshi by bringing her grades town. She announces herself, Takamatsu, Hinata, Ooyama, Takeyama and Otonashi to be part of the operation. The plan is for them to write stupid things in the answer paper and then swap it with Tenshi’s. Sounds easy? Nope. They need a distraction when they make the switch. And the only person sitting close to Tenshi is Takeyama so he’ll handle that while the rest will do the distraction. Hey, wait a minute. Do they know Tenshi’s real name? Bummer. I guess Otonashi’s nervousness inadvertently got him to talk with Tenshi and revealed her name to be Kanade Tachibana. End of first test, Hinata does some look-outside-the-window distraction. Nobody is giving a hoot so Yuri presses a button that sends Hinata’s seat flying to the air and into the ceiling! Now that is sure a head turning event. The switch is successful. For the next test, it is Takamatsu’s turn. And he thought he was brought in for his brains but actually it’s Yuri’s plans to have a variety of distractions. End of second test, Takamatsu shows his muscular and greatly built abs! Nobody is interested so Yuri sends him flying into the ceiling. Swap successful. For the next one, Ooyama is to confess to Tenshi but he is bloody nervous to do so. Eventually at the end of the third test, he musters up his courage to confess his feelings. Nobody gives a damn but it was Hinata who was sent flying into the ceiling for distraction!!!

Otonashi sees Tenshi coming out from the staff room and later learns that she scored zero in all her tests and since her answers were ridiculous like as though they were making a mockery and is going to be punished. Otonashi feels something isn’t right. As everyone gathers in the hall, the teachers announce that Tenshi will be removed from her student council president and her position will be taken over by Naoi. With Tenshi out of the way, Yuri puts forth her Operation Tornado. That night GirlDeMo puts up a concert with Yui taking the lead. They see Tenshi coming in but she’s acting weird. Instead of attacking, she’s just buying mapo tofu from the vending machine. Her actions baffle Yuri. The operation is a success as the gang ponder about Tenshi’s behaviour over food the next day. Yuri thinks Tenshi is human and started developing weapons against them since they were disruptive. Otonashi wonders if Tenshi could be considered as one of their allies now but was shot down by the rest.

Episode 6
Tenshi is no longer the student council president so the gang do what they want in class like brazenly playing mahjong or sleeping. Till Naoi comes by so they have to make a run for it. Later Otonashi sees Naoi beating up a couple of guys at the rear of the dining hall and then treats Tenshi to mapo tofu. However Naoi arrests them for violating school rules for eating during break time and throws them into prison. They hear the ground above them shaking so they think something big must’ve happened. Otonashi receives word from Yuri that Naoi is a human just like them. Though he put up a good face in public, he does bad things in the background. They have no choice but to fight him but he is smart using ordinary students as shield. Yuri has no choice but to submit. Communication is cut off as Otonashi pleads to Tenshi to free them. Using a variation of Hand Sonics, they are able to break free. They rush to the field to see their comrades slaughtered. Naoi explains his twisted right to be God. He also reveals his hypnotism powers he has developed and is going to erase them all. Otonashi gets pissed about it and punches him, giving him an earful about memories and the likes. Naoi’s flashback reveals how his father was a famous pottery. He had a twin brother who unlike him was better in doing those pottery stuff. Till he died. Naoi was forced to take over his place and pretend a life as him but he was no good and always got scolded by his dad. Till his dad got bed-ridden and passed away did Naoi felt he was never independent. Otonashi insists that his life was real and struggled hard. He embraces Naoi and acknowledges his existence.

Episode 7
Naoi seems to be part of the gang (I’m not sure if his admiration for Otonashi is just…) so Yuri decides to use his hypnotism powers to regain Otonashi’s memories. His first name is Yuzuru and has a weak little sister who is hospitalized for 2 years. He took up various part time jobs to support her. On a Christmas night, he snuck her out to see the pretty Christmas lights in town but she passed away while being given a piggy-back ride. Feeling lost, he wandered around till he realized his goal in life. He studied hard to be a doctor and to devote the rest of his life to save other people. While taking a train to the university he enrolled in, something happened. That’s when he is snapped out from his hypnotism and wishes to be left alone for awhile. Well, life is indeed cruel. Later, Yuri announces they will undergo Operation Monster Stream. Sounds like another dangerous mission but it seems to be just fishing by the riverside. Otonashi invites Tenshi to come along, much to the chagrin of the rest. As everyone fishes with their own style, Otonashi teaches Tenshi how to fish and control her tremendous strength. Then something is tugging Tenshi’s hook. The fisherman thinks it’s Monster Stream, the master of the river. Everyone join forces to reel in the monster fish. After pulling it out and preventing everyone from turning into fish food, Tenshi swiftly cuts up the fish into several parts. So as not for it to go to waste, they serve it to the other students. Like doing charity, eh? Otonashi wishes to call Tenshi by her first name and hopes she will stay with them. While they’re cleaning up, Yuri comes in hurt and says she’s been attacked by Tenshi. However Otonashi disagrees as she has been with them all the while. They see another Tenshi.

Episode 8
She starts attacking but Kanade defends them. Kanade is unconscious in the infirmary as Yuri reveals a programme called Harmonics which allows her to clone herself, which she found during her room infiltration. Though it is her clone, they think they are following the original’s command from back then. For the time being, she has her members attend class but not to take it seriously while she infiltrates Kanade’s room. She sees a software manual called Angel Player and messes with some of the programme. But the next time they visit Kanade, she is missing from her bed. Yuri reveals something about rewriting a programme which will cause the clones to remerge. They think the clone is hiding the original. The furthest place down below is the Guild and they are going to make their descend once more to rescue her. Another survivor episode as each one from the gang is being picked off while trying to hold of Tenshi clones that are increasing in numbers. The final duo again turn out to be Yuri and Otonashi. While Yuri takes on the clone, Otonashi found the real one. He wants her to activate Harmonics. However since she will be taking in all the clones she created at once, she’ll have to pay for it. The programme is activated as Kanade absorbs all the clones but is in pain.

Episode 9
Kanade is taken back to the infirmary but remains unconscious. They are worried she may wake up as a different personality. Yuri has Takeyama translate the manual and even though they are trying to change the data, that will just be short term measures. As Otonashi sits by Kanade’s side, he remembers the horrific train crash. Both sides of the tunnel collapsed so there is no way out. There were several survivors so Otonashi and another guy Igarashi took lead the survivors and retain order. Supplies and oxygen are running low so all the best they can do is wait for rescue. Morales are at the lowest point when 1 of the injured survivors died and everyone is weakened. Otonashi took out his donor card and circled on every organ possible to donate. In this way even if they die, somebody else will be saved with their donated organs. The survivors are touched by his gesture and did the same. Just when the rescuers managed to dig a tunnel and rescue them, Otonashi’s life fades away. Otonashi wakes up and is relieved to see Kanade awake. He is glad he is able to help somebody after his death. Then they talk about attaining peace in this world and it hit Otonashi that Kanade was trying to do so all the while for the rest. She wanted everyone to lead a normal life and persuade those who stayed but you know her awkward actions made everyone misunderstood her actions. Otonashi teams up with Kanade in hopes of bringing peace to everyone even if it means her playing the villain and being alone again. Later Otonashi exposes Kanade’s exam papers switch. The teachers reinstate innocent Kanade as the student council president and hand the perpetrators their punishment.

Episode 10
The first person to target is Yui. Even if their plan to make Yui accidentally meet Otonashi was a bungling one, but you could consider it a success. Otonashi learns she was bed-ridden and her mom was always taking care of her. She learnt things via TV and some of her unfulfilled wishes include being a musician, baseball player and football player. Otonashi starts off with the supposedly easiest one: German Suplex. After a lot of pain and practice, Yui is able to pull it off. Then he gathers some of the guys to play football as he collaborates with Yui (and Kanade in the background) to make successful tackles and makes her score a goal. Lastly, she practices swings to hit a homerun. Though she isn’t successfully, she doesn’t give up. In the end, she’s pretty happy she’s able to use this body to do things and reveals her last wish to get married. Which guy would want to marry her? Hinata steps up and says he will. Cooking up a manga-like story how their fate will meet in the real world, he promises to take care of her even if she can’t move. Yui is happy with that thought and disappears. Hinata knows what Otonashi is doing and plans on helping him. Elsewhere, Noda and Ooyama are being attacked by mysterious beings and Yuri receives word on this.

Episode 11
While Otonashi ponders who to send home next, it seems the competition between Hinata and Naoi are heating up over Otonashi. To help him in his quest, that is. Suddenly a mysterious shadow tries to absorb Naoi but they manage to set him free. Yuri then interrogates Kanade but Naoi’s stupid reasons cover her up. Then they hear gunfire coming from the field. Several of their members are being surrounded by the assaulting shadows that are also multiplying. With everyone pitching in, they destroy them all but they receive a distressing news that Takamatsu has been eaten by the shadow. They find him to be alive the next day but he has turned into an NPC! Thinking that this is a fate worse than disappearing since one will be stuck as an NPC for eternity. Yuri gathers everyone and knows of Otonashi’s plan of making students disappear and has him explain it. Though they are against it, Yuri gives them time to decide. Yuri then decides to deal with something so she goes off alone and leaves the rest to Otonashi. Yuri thinks that there is a software that transforms NPCs into shadows to attack them and a place filled with lots of computers just to do that. She infiltrates the library that night and concludes the one stealing the computers is playing God in this world. She uncovers an underground path believed to lead to where the perpetrator is but it seems the path is towards Guild.

Episode 12
Many of the members including GirlDeMo decide to disappear and have a few words to Otonashi before they go. Then the shadows attack as everyone cooperate to quell the menace. Matsushita is now a slim person after his self training in the woods. Shiina takes over from Otonashi and tells him to go. Meanwhile Yuri on her way deeper underground encounters infinite number of those shadows. She has to conserve her ammo if she’s going to see this till the end. Entering the Old Guild, she thinks about her relationship with Kanade which could’ve been different. Then Yuri finds herself back in her real world when she was alive. In the middle of class, she stands up and talks about happiness but hers a cruel and meaningless life. She wakes up to see Otonashi, Hinata, Naoi and Kanade next to her. As they proceed further, the guys hold off the shadows so that Yuri can enter the computer lab at the end. Inside, she sees lots of computers and monitors and a guy sitting in the midst of it. This is what I understand. Some guy created this Angel Player programme and fell in love with a girl. However the girl left a long time ago and he fell into despair. He couldn’t wait any longer and turned himself into an NPC. Because this is Purgatory, not paradise, love is not allowed to exist since everyone has to ‘graduate’ from this place. So when it does, especially some amnesiac who lived a fulfilled life for the sake of others comes wandering in, some bug will occur and reset the world, hence those shadows turning them into NPCs. Detecting the source of love to be from Yuri, the boy offers her to be God and rewrite the world to her will but Yuri declines and just wishes to protect and be with everyone else. She shoots and destroys everything in the room. She sees visions of her siblings who express their gratitude, causing Yuri to be overcome with emotion. Yuri wakes up in the infirmary with Otonashi, Hinata, Naoi and Kanade by her side.

Episode 13
It has been 3 days since the incident. No more shadows, no more everyone. The ones remaining left are Otonashi, Yuri, Hinata, Naoi and Kanade. Seems they have planned a graduation ceremony for themselves. Otonashi notes how different Yuri acts when everyone is not around. More feminine than a leader. The ceremony begins with SSS’s anthem (written by Kanade and about mapo tofu), handing of scrolls and the final words from Otonashi as the representative of the graduating class. Yuri and Kanade make up and wish they had more time to spend as friends than previously were fighting. The rest take their turn to disappear and it leaves Otonashi and Kanade. Otonashi suggests to her that they stay in this world together so that they could guide and prevent lost and young tormented souls from repeating the mistakes Yuri did. He also confesses he loves her. However Kanade only wishes to say thank you and reveals that she has his heart in her body (the donor card Otonashi circled became Kanade’s life safer). She wanted to thank her saviour so much that she wandered into this place. She knew it was him the first time because when she first stabbed him, he had no heart! Not just that. He regained his memories when he was sleeping on her chest, near to her/his heart. Then she wants him to confess again but he is reluctant as he fears she will disappear but eventually gives in. Kanade disappears leaving heartbroken and hysterical Otonashi in despair. In the real world, we see a girl and boy resembling closely to Kanade and Otonashi respectively. They pass each other as he taps her shoulder.

Life After Death…
I don’t know if I should consider that a good ending or not. But what I felt was that every of the main characters of the SSS should appear in the final graduation ceremony instead of just those 5. It makes it everything a little ‘hollow’ without them. At least give them a chance to say goodbye, eh? Maybe they just want to concentrate the drama on these few characters? I can’t accept it that the rest went ahead before Yuri. For instance that Noda guy is quite loyal to Yuri so I thought he’d be with her till the end. Decided to go ahead first, eh? Though there are dramatic and suspenseful parts in the series, the comedic parts are nicely spread out especially in the initial parts. I love the ones that had the gang undergoing a survival series and the exam to purposely fail Kanade. But for the plot, there were some parts that I didn’t understand that I had to go do lots of reading up from various blog sites and still only get the gist of it.

It was nice that we get to see some of the past of the characters and delve a little deeper into them but I guess for a short series, it won’t be possible to get to know all of them. Each of them had their own quirks though some don’t have enough screen time to flesh their character out. How I wish to know TK’s past and probably his behaviour. And that mysterious Yusa girl who is always working behind the scenes of GirlDeMo, yeah, she’s another mysterious character. And for some like Yuri, it may sound disrespectful but I too wished I knew how she died after her past was revealed. How the heck did she misunderstood Kanade for God’s angel in the first place and triggered this whole rebellion thing? Probably it’s because of Kanade’s non-expression and stoic appearance that made it hard to tell. However in the end, I could see her showing livelier expressions and even giggling than all the rest of the episodes put together. Otonashi’s appearance to the group is a blessing for without him, I guess everyone won’t be able to move on, accept each other and the meaningless would’ve dragged on for eternity. He is truly someone who puts others before himself. So perhaps that is the price to pay because in the end, he too becomes alone. First his sister, then Kanade, the one he loves. Naoi is still a cocky fellow and sometimes you got to love his arrogant speeches. If not for Otonashi, he’d still be a dangerous person. Even this self-proclaimed God cried in the end.

I read somewhere that there were a few reasons that served as a motivation to see this show. One, Yuri closely resembles to Haruhi Suzumiya. I guess most fans could relate to that. Two, great music. Well in my opinion, if you’re into rock music, I’m sure you’ll like the stuff GirlDeMo sang here or else for a person like me, they’re just pretty okay. Though the opening theme My Soul Your Beats by Lia has great piano play while the slow ballad ending theme is Brave Song by Aoi Tada. In the ending credits animation, you can see the gang in one big photo group and in some episodes, new characters pop up or old ones disappear. The next episode preview is, how should I put it, a cacophony of chaotic voices. It gradually has the characters start yelling about something as the screen is cluttered with the kanji words of their speech. In a way, that makes it easier to know what they are saying or else it would be just a riot and strenuous to listen to what they are shouting about.

If you buy the DVD, there is an extra OVA episode called Stairway To Heaven. The setting of this OVA must be during one of its initial episodes since Yui is leading GirlDeMo, Naoi isn’t part of the gang and Kanade is still the hostile Tenshi that everyone knows. It begins with Yuri calling her usual members for a meeting on Operation High Tension Syndrome. What are they supposed to do? From what I understand, everyone has to go all out and do things in a wild and passionate manner. Don’t forget to laugh out loud too. The reason is that when Tenshi sees them doing such ‘happy’ things and not disappear, she will be puzzled at this strange phenomenon and would go seek God’s advice. It is at this moment that they will follow her to Him. Ah, I see. That doesn’t seem a bad idea unless you are the ones going into high tension for 12 hours straight! And if this operation fails, everyone will fast! Oh sh*t! Better get a move on and go high tension! So the rest of the scenes see everybody in SSS (except Yuri) doing some pretty wild stuff. You can measure their tension level with a Tension Meter at the bottom left hand of the screen. So we see Yui and her band going wild with a ‘love song’; TK, Fujimaki and Ooyama turning into gluttons and ultimately fatties; the rest of the guys passionately (more like shouting) participating in class (probably more chances for Takamatsu to show off his hot bod); later in a race to clean up the school. Lastly all sides converge at the field wanting to use it for their own reasons like playing baseball, dance or hold a concert. It turned into a sports meet with even NPCs getting into the action. It lasts until night fall as everyone prepares for the ultimate kibasen event. During the chaos, Shiina comes slashing in. Then the worst outcome possible: A confrontation with Tenshi. She questions Shiina what she’s doing. She shows her a cute animal doll and goes into extreme moe kawaii mode. Her tension meter is off the scale! Then Tenshi backs down and walks pass Yuri. Yuri heard something about the need to report. Thinking this is the moment they have been waiting for, she wakes up her comrades to follow Tenshi. Tailing her to a secret basement in the infirmary, behind a large door, the SSS gang are ready to bust in. However they are in for a real surprise as they see Tenshi tending to her radish garden. What the?! Tenshi states that when she heard Shiina say “cute”, she remembered her garden and came here. What she meant about the reporting was she was unsure how to report for her sudden departure for this during the student council meeting. Uh… On top of that, so that so called security device to open the door was just a calculator?! Yuri gets so frustrated and pissed off that I think it’s her turn to experience some high tension. Worse, she takes it out on everyone and has them to fast for a week! WHAT?! See their tension meter decrease into the negative level! Over the next 7 days, we see everyone collapsed due to starvation except for Yuri who is happily eating and drinking her share. Oh, Yuri. You’re the true devil! It’s funny to see the ending whereby everyone fades faster than usual, leaving Yuri the only one left standing. Haha! Bad end alright. I know everyone won’t really die, but still… Yuri, you’re the devil in disguise…

Coming together with this bonus OVA is a short clip called Another Epilogue. What I read and understand is that this approximately 3 minutes video is supposed to be “the one more ending that no one knows”. Oh, an alternate ending? This has got to be intriguing. In a classroom we see a guy who has an uncanny resemblance to Fullmetal Alchemist’s Edward Elric. Only difference this one is much taller :). This guy isn’t happy he is taking a test because he knows he has died without accomplishing anything and that all that has happened in this world is fake. Causing a ruckus in the middle of the class, he is upset about the rational of taking this exam and wonders if this allows him to enter Heaven. That is when the student council president walks in. Hey, isn’t that Otonashi? It IS him! Otonashi grabs Ed-look-a-like by the collar and tells him off for complaining. He continues with his ‘advice’ about doing something about it and the different things different people need to achieve their goals like courage and strength for friends and dreams. He questions what does he need now. Ed guy fights back that what he needs now is to face him and releases himself from Otonashi’s clutches. Otonashi didn’t get mad but instead smiled and backed down, saying that if he ever felt hatred or hesitation, he can come to the student council room anytime. The other students marvel in awe how cool Otonashi is. Rumours say that he is waiting for someone. But Ed guy still doesn’t feel good. He crushes his test paper. So does that end line “Next Stage” means that there is going to be a sequel? Is it true in this epilogue that Otonashi really stayed back all by himself to ‘look after’ this world and guide other lost souls? It makes that last scene in the TV’s final episode a little contrasting. But then again, times in both worlds run differently and there was nothing conclusive.

So it still bugs me about who created this world and if God really existed here. I mean from what I understand, some programmer guy created and manipulated this world via some software. So it makes whoever gets to control it becomes God of this world. And thus does that really serve its purpose? So when Yuri was given a chance to play God, for a short moment there I thought she was going to turn into Haruhi. At least for this world if she ever accepted it. And to throw in some random unknown guy to explain and reveal those stuff, I felt it threw me off my pace because I really thought the suspect would be one of the SSS members. Who is he by the way? A human or an NPC? I also wondered if this Purgatory goes beyond the campus, way past the woods. Has anybody ever stepped out of its boundaries before? And given the intriguing ending, does it mean that there is reincarnation instead of the eternal life after death?

I’m not going to ponder further about Purgatory or the afterlife. I think that is not the focus of this series. But instead, make peace and not war. Being friends even if it’s for a day is definitely more beneficial than being eternal enemies. Can you see that if you just open your mouth and explain things, a whole lot of unnecessary killing could be avoided? Of course in this world, nobody could really die. And if there is such a place and I happen to get thrown there, hopefully it would be a beach resort filled with lots of harem 2D girls. Oh wait, that would be paradise…

Burn Up Scramble

January 28, 2011

Continuing my ‘fling’ with the Burn Up series, this time I caught the final instalment called Burn Up Scramble. However this 2004 production isn’t a direct sequel of Burn Up Excess and is more of a remake more than anything else. Call it rebranding of the series if you will. Though the basic plot of the series of a small group of highly elite police women officers taking on crimes that couldn’t be handled by the ordinary police department, a big majority of the series has undergone a major revamp. Be it the visual art or the character designs.

Take for instance the blonde bimbo, I mean heroine of the Burn Up series, Rio Kinezono. Here, she isn’t he money-hungry poverty stricken officer but instead someone who is desperate to find love. Just like the previous Rio, she flops in her love life. But other than that she is still a top skilled martial artist. Then Maya Jingu isn’t a sniper-crazy girl but someone who is rather quiet. But she has a habit of pointing out Rio’s bad habits and mocks her from time to time though both Mayas are still excellent marks(wo)men. Then there is Lilica Evette. A total makeover from her predecessor and the only thing remained is probably her name. This Lilica is a shy, insecure and clumsy psychic rather than the upbeat computer expert as her predecessor. As for Yuji Naruo, he may not be a voyeuristic pervert, but he is still a womaniser and tries to court Rio in his so called gentleman style. That wasn’t a compliment. What about Maki and Nanvel? Heck, they don’t even appear here. Ever.

Episode 1
Yuji is out with colleague-cum-girlfriend Matsuri Tamagawa at the bar when he sees Rio tearing the place apart because she’s not happy about being duped by love (the guy she was supposed to date turned out to be gay!). He tries to calm her down but she kicks his face. Must be his annoying sparkling smile. The bar explodes soon, by the way. Such destructive force. Meanwhile Maya is too good at playing arcade games so much so a group of thugs take her to an alley to play a different game. When they realize she has guns all over her body, she starts shooting and trashes the place to arrest them all. Can you believe those thugs lost to a girl? Not so tough now, eh? The police Supreme Council are meeting and discussing about Evil Frenzy‘s increasing influence in the area. Considering how hard they are to handle, they have no choice but to dispatch ‘them’. Police head chief Yuji is giving one of his speeches to his comrades. He is surprised to learn Rio is also on his force. She is more surprised too because she kicked this womaniser. He then calls her to his room and forgives that incident but tries to hit on her! Rio gets a call and since he is persistent, she beats him up and leaves. Rio and Maya meet their chief Commander who assigns them to handle an armed motorcycle gang case. Rio tries to refuse and gives excuses that she’s going to some place with her boyfriend but Maya knows better because she has no boyfriend. They both argue. Rio confronts Evil Frenzy’s gang on the bridge. She tries to persuade them to stop but they laugh at her. With Maya backing up as her sniper in the background, she manages to scare them with her ‘finger gun’. Since Maya prefers to answer her call, Rio’s ‘finger gun’ didn’t work so the gang gets cocky and mocks her an old lady. Rio snaps and beats them all up with her brute force and takes them all out. She’s so fast that she can even dodge bullets! Don’t need bullet time. Rio eats ramen with Maya at a store and laments spending another year all alone. What the heck is happening to her life, she asks? Maya’s answer: Misery. Damn right.

Episode 2
As Rio is biking one morning, she has not enough money to buy a can drink. She takes out money from an ATM when a truck comes smashing into it, crushes her bike and nearly killed her. But instead of going after it for stealing the cash machine, she ran after her money blown away by the wind. She lost it. She laments some horoscope thingy she read because she believed it would bring her good luck. Who ask her to read it in the first place? After reluctantly taking a thankless request to get an owner’s cat out of a well, Rio meets Maya doing road traffic safety. She teases him for being boyfriendless so she gets back at her. Since the serial ATM robber is getting out of hand, the Council approves the use of their trump card again. Yuji tries to seduce Rio once more and since he has heard of her ‘situation’, offers her to be his right hand person. He wants her to stay by his side and tries to kiss her! Why isn’t she resisting?! Jealous Matsuri watches from afar as Rio gets a Warrior call but since Yuji is persistent, she beats him up and leaves. That night as the serial robber goes into action, Maya snipes from afar to lead him to Rio. She takes on the truck head on and gets her determination from her lost bill. Her kick was strong enough to detach the machine’s arm!!! See what (lost) money can do? After the truck turns turtle, she takes out her frustrations on the guy. But she sees money scattering about and can’t resist the urge to rake them in. However Maya warns her not to or else she’ll shoot her. Too bad for her short-lived happiness, she has to let the money fly. Next day, Rio takes out money from the ATM and nearly got into an accident with a scooter. Deja vu? Because her skateboard broke and her money flies away again.

Episode 3
Rio and Maya are being called by Commander to stop the Green Knights terrorist from blowing up the Bay City T-XO theme park. The bomb is to go off by noon and they don’t have much time and manpower to evacuate the people and must do it quietly. Rio doesn’t want to die in duty due to some excuse of going to some holiday with her non-existent boyfriend. Commander introduces a 3rd member to help track the bomb: Lilica. Seems she’s handcuffed and each light bulb she passes explodes! She was once stationed in the secret service of a country but it was shut down. Her psychic power is needed to predict the bomb location like how she did for the ATM thief. Though Lilica seems shy and apologetic, Commander wants her to shake hands with Rio to show her true powers. Upon contact, Lilica reads Rio’s life details and achievements including her failed and fantasy love story! She was about to spill the losing her virginity part so Rio kicks her away! Sad Lilica apologizes and blames herself for bringing trouble so she tries to run away. But Commander wouldn’t allow that and will have her complete her mission first. She further adds her other powers of reading minds of those she comes into contact. Should’ve said that earlier.

The trio gather at the building as Lilica tries to locate the bomb with her pendant. However a group of rowdy middle-aged bargain-sale-crazy women stampede over them causing her to loser the pendant. Next she tries telepathy to find the culprit but again those broads ruined it when Lilica locked on the possible suspect. Then it’s spiritual visualization to draw the bomb’s location that comes to her head. Unfortunately that is some unrecognizable doodle. Again those broads come stampeding (do they have some sort of a magnet?) so Lilica absorbs their rude horrible memories. Nightmare! While resting, Rio sees the doodle and recognizes it to be an art monument on the next building. Thinking the terrorists plan to bomb that monument and use it to crush this one, they head over there but have no time and can only go by air via this building’s balloon. Rio on her way meets flirty Yuji and beats him up once more. With Maya taking care of the wind directions, Rio is able to make the structure fall into the ocean before it explodes. As the trio head home, Lilica accidentally touches Rio’s face (she was giving her a piggyback ride). She almost continued her lost virginity story so Rio tosses her into the sea! Scary!

Episode 4
A serial thief is causing public nuisance at night. Rio wears and has anything yellow for good luck as mentioned by the horoscope but gets into all kinds of trouble. Matsuri confronts Rio and tells her to stay away from Yuji. That night as Rio is changing, she sees the serial thief outside her window though he escapes. The Council approves the use of warriors since the thief has become a nuisance (WTF?!). Rio is devastated her room is being investigated like a crime scene and Yuji is heading it. He wants her to recreate the scene when she met the thief and even to take off her clothes! She punches him away. Rio gets her Warrior call and rushes to Commander. She is relishing a chance for revenge. Lilica uses her pendant to predict the thief’s next target but a fluke one almost revealed Rio’s time capsule of love! Why is Maya taking down notes of it?! After ascertaining the thief’s next strike, they go into action. Rio chases the hapless thief throughout town and each time stripping him a piece of his clothes. In the end, he’s naked and crucified on a building. Sweet revenge. Next day, Rio wears all pink due to the horoscope’s predictions and as usual gets into those troubles again. Never believe everything you read or see on TV.

Episode 5
Rio loses to Maya in a game exercise so she has to buy ‘that thing’. Commander has Rio and Maya take Lilica out for the day since she’s cooked up inside all the while. Lilica gets into all sorts of trouble like men hitting on her and easily getting lost. So Rio always has to beat them up and stay real close to her. A convenience store is in the midst of being robbed but the girls ignore them because Rio has to get that thing for Maya. After they beat them up and scare them away, Lilica’s telepathy has her select that thing (a little bear memento?) for her. They return to Maya’s place for dinner as we see Maya having lots of guns in her cabinet! Do not touch them! She even has names for them! Rio talks about love, Maya disagrees otherwise. Lilica gets drunk, strips naked and accidentally has Rio in her handcuffs. Then she goes out in just an apron to buy stuff. Again at the convenience store, the same robbers are trying to rob it. They see Lilica but she leaves shortly since she has no money to buy stuff. Rio and Maya are on her tail, come in, beat the robbers up and continue searching. They see Lilica on a bridge as she slips and falls off. Rio dives in without thinking as she still has the cuffs on. As she is drowning, Lilica uses her powers to break the cuffs free. Back home as Lilica rests, the robbers still haven’t learn their lesson and decides to shift their focus on robbing houses. Yup, of all the houses, they had to enter Maya’s. I don’t know why Maya is cooking bullets so her whole apartment explodes! The robbers are apprehended and Maya hands Rio repair bills. Seems everyone put the blame on her.

Episode 6
Rio is out drinking with Maya and Lilica. She’s drunk and upset her love life didn’t come true. They learn Maya just returned from her hometown in Hokkaido and listen to her story. She was a survivor in a war torn city. A mercenary saw her pitiful eyes and they both escaped. He raised her and thought her self defence though she excelled in using guns and surpassed him. One day he left without saying a word so she searched high and low for him, including joining Warriors. After 4 years, she was able to find her Master and spent time with him. A baddie named Dil meets Master and tells him he will have his revenge. Master sent Dil to jail when he was a bounty hunter then and knowing his character, must make a strike first. Dil’s men surround the place but Master and Maya duo put a shame to those amateurs by ambushing them first. Why is there an alien, samurai and weird characters among the hired killers?! Variety is the spice of life? Master uses his body for a bullet meant for Maya. He knows he isn’t going to live long and wants Maya to kill him and die by her bullet. He mentions the reason he left was because she became shining too bright for him. After burying him, vengeful Maya heads over to Dil’s place and guns everyone down without mercy! In present, Maya tells her colleagues they shouldn’t take her story seriously because nobody said it was true. While Lilica is still brought to tear, Rio gets upset and starts yelling. Is that Master in the bar too?

Episode 7
Rio and Maya are escorting Princess Harnes of the Aman Kingdom on a civilian plane. But she’s rather loud and bratty. So much for keeping her identity a secret of visiting Japan quietly from her politically unstable kingdom. A couple, Rosan Graph and Monica Gree give Harnes a takoyaki box but Lilica predicts it to be danger (sleeping gas). The couple are from the anti-government in Aman. Maya and Rio realize they’re under siege but find the plane suddenly void of passengers. There’s a plane flying nearby to let their comrades in and change their course. The couple attack Maya and Rio. Harnes wants in on the action but her bloopers causes lots of nuisance. Almost killed Rio (hanging outside on the plane for dear life!). Another one of her bloopers leads to her and Rio being tied up. Harnes reasons why she was rash because many died the last time trying to protect her. Maya has a standoff with Monica and manages to knock her out with sleeping gas. Rio pulls an unbelievable feat, shooting a gun with her legs to blow up a bomb and hole in the craft to suck out the terrorists! Though Maya manages to get to the cockpit and regain order, Rosan holds Harnes hostage. He escapes with her via capsule but rash Rio dives in. As the capsule falls, Rosa and Rio are hanging on the edge. Rosan falls off because he tried to climb up on her but slipped off when he pulled down her panties (?!). Rio’s panties fell onto Yuji’s face (he’s out with Matsuri on the beach) and thanks God for this blessing. Rio and Harnes wait for rescue in their capsule. On a side note, the actions here are so exaggerated, ridiculous, unbelievable and defy laws of physics! And for the fanservice parts, Warriors were running around in their panties for most parts of the episode.

Episode 8
Rio beats up another guy on her date because he tried to sell her something. She’s upset she spent lots of time doing her hair and even made arrangements to get hitch. Every guy she bumps into seems to be only interested in selling things or her money! Maya and Lilica tail and spy on her. Frustrated Rio goes home to sleep and doesn’t care if the world goes to hell. Next morning she wakes up to find the entire world being invaded by alien UFOs. Police trying to shoot down UFOs with heir pee shooter? Zap! The alien robots are trying to stamp the humans with their mark. Rio barges to her police station via force. Robots don’t even stand a chance. She sees Yuji in a weird space outfit and since he tries to flirt with her, she beats him up. Then she sees the alien mark and the rest of her department colleagues have them. They corner her but Maya in a space girl outfit comes to her rescue. They go see Commander (also in another space outfit) to handle this case. While Rio is taken away to be given her own suit, Maya and Lilica handle the menace outside. Rio’s outfit seems to be her normal police uniform as she fights the robot boss. Everyone is watching in awe. Her pink undies, that is. Though it got her in its wire-cum-tentacles, Rio destroys it with her sabre-like weapon. Turns out she was just dreaming. Next day as she fixes her broken bicycle in the streets and laments her bad luck, Maya treats her to a vitamin drink.

Episode 9
Warriors are to catch a drug syndicate target, 19 AKA Dragon Tail, supposedly going to do a drug deal on a cruiser. They spy him arriving as he is being attacked by mobs demanding money. But his pill-eating girl assassin deals with them swiftly. Lilica can’t read his mind on the person he’s supposed to deal while Rio is to spy on him. Unfortunately she bumps into Yuji and that guy tries to kiss her! She knocks him out. Then she bumps into 19. Matsuri is coming by and he can sense she’s in trouble and takes her away. Later she accepts his invitation for dinner in hopes she can find out more details. During dinner, Rio spots Matsuri and goes into hiding under the table (Matsuri’s intuition can actually sense that bimbo!). 19 does the same and kisses her! Spying Maya notes Rio won’t be useful anymore and tells Lilica that it’s her turn. As they’re alone outside, Lilica uses her telepathy to read 19’s mind but could only see his thoughts only on Rio. Thinking something is wrong because 19 seems to be genuinely in love with her. 19 takes Rio to his room and things are about to get steamy. Maya then realizes the same killing eyes he had and that he is going to kill Rio. 19 pulls out a gun but what stunned Rio more was that he knows she is part of Warriors. He mentions the drug deal was just a decoy to lure them out. He shoots a couple of bullets into her as Maya barges in and makes him stick his hands into the air. Luckily Rio is wearing a bullet proof girdle. The girl assassin fights Maya while Rio takes on 19 in a fist fight. Because the assassin ate too much pills, her body temperature overheats and she collapses due to overdose. Rio also manages to land the final blow on 19. He mentions that he has been hired to kill them and before he could say more, a missile head straights for him, killing him as the girls escape. Seriously, a missile? I’m surprised the whole ship didn’t blow up. Commander is seen adhering to an order of a higher up.

Episode 10
Rio and Maya refuse to barge in on a bus hijack attempt gone awry though Commander orders them to. Because of that, she despatches a couple of New Warriors to finish the job. They seriously wound Rio and Maya and killed the terrorist and people on board! Rio wakes up in hospital as Lilica tells her they’re both suspended indefinitely for disobeying orders. Maya is ‘paralyzed’ due to the mental shock. Yuji visits Rio but he isn’t flirty. Lilica gets a call from Commander and learns she has the New Warriors as her new comrades. However they don’t click. New Warriors get the mission done faster but cause more damage and even injure the criminals. The Council seem to approve this but will cook up some story so as not for the media to suspect. Rio is discharged from hospital and Yuji gladly takes her out to dinner. She is considering if she should settle down with him since he has the looks, money and status. Noticing Rio spacing out, Yuji takes her home and tells her he’s not a man of convenience. He prefers to spend time with the real Rio and leaves. Not flirty this time?! He sounded so serious! Rio receives a letter from Lilica who has snuck around gathering info. Seems the New Warriors are genetically modified human with superhuman strength via drugs. Their data are based off Rio and Maya’s past training, testing and missions all this while. The project is collaborated with the underground world and even conducted illegal human experiments and funding. She also mentions the 19’s mission as a challenge and test case for them. Next day Rio visits Maya and tells her what she has learnt. They decide to put a stop to their plan.

Episode 11
Rio and Maya create new weapons and devices for their showdown. New Warriors are in another one of their destructive missions (they blew up a building!). Rio and Maya lure them to a building under construction filled with traps to fight them. Though New Warriors put up a good fight, eventually they are defeated. The Council aren’t pleased with the results that the superhumans were defeated by mere humans. They start arguing and blaming each other that the public may know about this. But they’re not going to let it end like that. Warriors head into their police HQ and Yuji is back to his flirty self after seeing Rio’s normal self. But she ignores him. They head straight down to see Commander but she just shows herself on the monitor. She reasons their actions to protect citizens and decrease crimes with their super cops to uphold law and justice. But Maya reads a long list of unjust acts by them as proof. Are the police supposed to protect the citizens? Nope. The most important thing is solidarity. Mutual support to those with power and to control the system. What about innocent civilians are killed and used? Mistakes are all part of the experimentation to become better. Twisted! Warriors aren’t going to listen anymore so Commander invites them to her last ‘party’. A final slugfest at the car junkyard. Commander in a power suit fights the trio and overwhelms them with her speed and strength. Maya and Rio are beaten to a pulp as Lilica foresees they will die this time. Commander is going to drop cars on them when Lilica suddenly emits electricity waves to blast Commander and the cars away. Lilica then powers up Maya and Rio’s attacks to defeat Commander. The Council have been watching this all along and we see their room void of them. They are concerned of which course of direction to take now since it turned out like that. The tired trio are having a nice time lying down together but it’s ruined when Lilica accidentally reads Rio’s mind of some virgin novel.

Episode 12
Lilica appears on a TV show to find a missing girl but her doodle was a real turn off since she herself doesn’t know what it means. The police are having an open day since the public’s trust towards them has diminished since the Warriors incident. Though Warriors are disbanded, they’re still sceptical that the police may have several secret Warrior teams. Maya and Rio are driving along when they crash into the rear of a newly wed’s car. It’s Matsuri! And the groom isn’t Yuji. Did he dump her? Nope. She dumped him because he took too long. About time. He never had eyes on her in the first place. Took her long to realize that. So happen Yuji is passing by and gets thrilled to see Rio and wants to marry her right away. Thank God they manage to sneak away while he’s daydreaming. Maya, Rio and Lilica dine out together that night and Lilica is disheartened that she’ll be returned to the facility. Since Maya and Rio think she’ll be a danger to the public, Lilica purposely gets drunk and even kisses Rio! She was too noisy that the other customers learn they’re the original Warriors. Lilica gets rowdy and turns the tables! Outside at the roadside stall, Maya tells Rio that she’s leaving on a journey and came to say goodbye. Next morning, the police take Lilica into custody as Rio drives Maya to send her off. On the way, they hear a radio call of a hostage incident at a train station. Rio decides to go check it out though Maya thinks they should just ignore it as this has nothing to do with them anymore. The train starts to move by itself. Yuji as the head of the team is daydreaming nothing about his wedding with Rio at exotic places rather than focusing on his job! Idiot! Rio and Maya go into action. They enter the train and see the little girl hostage safe. They note the kidnappers aren’t onboard and have left before the train moved. Lilica hears about the runaway train and it’s amazing how she manages to escape from her custody so easily.

At the next train station, she uses her powers and communicates with Rio and Maya, telling them that the train is being controlled somewhere else. The duo find a control computer nearby and manage to bring the train to a stop. The incident was well received by the people so Rio and Maya leave. Lilica is back in her facility, Rio lying on her bed and Maya visiting Master’s grave. Next morning, Rio doesn’t seem interested in her fortune telling horoscope when she hears the news. Reports of the reestablishment of Warriors but this time whatever they do will be made public and there will be transparency. Seems all this was planned by the Council (new meeting spot at a casino?). They also set up that train incident. They say it has just begun and still have a long way to go. Rio learns she is back with Warriors and her post is now known to her other colleagues. She is surprised to see Maya and Lilica returning. Then they discuss who will be their new chief since their previous one has been punished and suspended. As they argue, they get to know Yuji will be their new head! The nightmare continues for Rio! At least she doesn’t have to deal with that annoying ‘no-career’-line from Matsuri anymore. And yeah, Yuji starts to get flirty again. Their first mission? To stop a strategic missile accidentally launched from an unnamed country. You know whose job it is right? “For those who are defenceless!”.

Crash and Burn…
Though the ending is one of those ‘and-so-it-goes-on’, at least it didn’t hang on a complicated cliff-hanger (at least that’s how I viewed it). However I have state something about the animation and action quality. I find it to be jerky and stiff! So if you ask me as compared to the previous Burn Up series, the predecessor is way much better even if both have exaggerated elements, this one just doesn’t feel convincing. Some of the episodes here are just mind boggling and not even possible to pull off no matter how much fiction you’d think about. Even if the updated graphics look better but still in a way the characters here are stiffer whether it’s their facial expression or motion. I won’t say that the fanservice here is over the top but they’re still enough to keep ecchi lovers happy. But because of the animation of the characters as said, I felt it took a little fun out of it.

The characters here may differ from their predecessor but they’re still likeable due to their different behaviour. It’s funny and amusing to see Rio a big failure at love. Sheesh. I’m the one to say. At this rate, she can never find the man of her dreams. I don’t know why guys she dated always have an ulterior motive. They think they can take this dumb blonde for granted? Better think twice. Maya is also likeable when she mocks Rio and she’s quite a cool character. Therefore it’s fun to see Rio getting mad or pissed and sometimes taking it out on Maya who doesn’t fight back. Yuji may not be as lively as before but he is still annoying with his flirty style. It bugs me if he’s a masochist because he loves it when he gets beaten up by Rio. As for Matsuri, I find her dense in the sense that she could never see the truth about Yuji’s interest towards Rio. She’s always blaming Rio for everything that has happened to Yuji when in fact he actually brought it upon himself. Not even if she witnessed first hand that Yuji’s trying to hit on Rio. A b*tch that viewers would love to hate, I guess.

Somehow some of the episodes I feel are a remake or modified versions of the previous Burn Up series. For instance the plane hijacking episode with Harnes as escort seems to resemble closely to the one whereby Rio need to escort a super intelligent tank across an enemy’s desert kingdom. The highly improved New Warriors are somewhat similar to the Mecha Cops in the previous series. There was no main villain in this series and even if I had to point one, it would be their own Council and Commander. There were other terrorists or thugs but they just appeared for one episode (some just by name) and that’s it. So it goes to show that in both Burn Up series, the real culprit is always closer to home and that it is right under one’s nose. So who defines justice and the law is up to those holding powers, eh? In this series, notice that Commander is never seen outside with other people nor do the Council?

I have to admit that a reason I watched this series was because of Mamiko Noto who voiced Lilica. However she sounded a little different than her usual voice. At first I really had to strain my ears to hear her and was even wondering is it was really her. Perhaps this was how she sounded during her younger days? Forgive me! I didn’t mean anything else! At least Rie Kugimiya was recognizable as Maya even if she didn’t break into her tsundere loli voice. Even if her character sounded monotonous and soft-spoken, perhaps her trademark shrieky pitch still gave her away. Rie Tanaka is as usual very convincing if she’s screaming like a mad and jealous woman and in this case as Matsuri. Megumi Toyoguchi also sounded pretty okay as her role as brute Rio while Hiroki Takahashi does Yuji.

So would it be ironic that the city needs a bunch of elite female officers to keep the peace when the higher ups are the baddies themselves? Just as long as these girls keep true to their hearts (their personal lives and weird fetish/interests are a different matter), they can face any adversaries that come their way. Hey, they beat a couple of heavily modified human beings, right? It’s like Windows 7 losing to Windows 3.1. Oops. Said it. I hope they just don’t burn out.

Gintama

January 22, 2011

All good things must come to an end. That is what happened to one of my all-time favourite series, Gintama last year. After running for 4 straight years and 201 episodes, it was one of those long running series that I don’t mind going on forever with no end in sight even if the plot never made sense (oh wait, was there one to begin with?). Unlike those series with a particular ninja or a substitute Death God or a crew of pirates taking a long way around the world, and still no end in sight after all that fillers and dragging, perhaps it wasn’t my luck that this one got pulled instead.

It felt like a long time ago since I started my romance with this series so much so I don’t know where to begin in my blog. So let’s start from the basics. What is the genre of this series? Heck, it’s got everything. It’s got comedy, it’s got action, it’s got drama. Almost about every darn genre you can think off because Gintama is in my opinion the king of anime and cultural parodies. You’re going to see lots of funny antics and bizarre rip-offs and thus to enjoy the effects of the funny side effectively, you’ll need to have a huge knowledge not only in otakuism but the world in general. From certain celebrities to TV show knock-offs, this series tickles your bone to the max. If not for the prompts of the fansubs, I would’ve been a total lost. Of course there will be solemn and dramatic parts in between and the way of the sudden shift in things, you’d be crying the first minute and then laughing out loud the next second. The execution between it is smooth and flawless, I tell you.

As for the setting, Earth is now a melting pot for all aliens of the universe. The alien race of Amanto has conquered the human race and of course with the former being more technologically advanced, it is obvious that the latter category is often suppressed. Please note that this is the Edo period in Japan, which means don’t be surprised to see samurais walking around. However with the Amantos in charge, the samurais are stripped of their honour of carrying their swords and thus ‘defenceless’. It is also quite amusing to see the period to be blended with the fusion of old and new technologies. How about a futuristic hi-tech tower right in the smack of the wooden houses? Gives rise to lots of ideas and concepts actually.

For long running series, the characters are the main driving force that keeps the story moving. Our main hero is the silver perm hair Gintoki Sakata or Gin for short. With a bokuto (wooden sword) with him all the time, his main job is well, do just about anything. Think of this sweet tooth guy as a Jack of all trades. From simple tasks like your cat stuck upon a tree or call him to free you people from the clutches of an oppressive warlord. Gasp! Well, as long as they pay him enough to pay off his rental of Yorozuya. But you know, as far as I’m concerned, that guy is never on time and has several months backlog! Many landlords would’ve kicked this lousy tenant out already. Plus, I don’t think he’s ever paid his followers-cum-workers a single cent. Gin is one of the many characters you should look out for punch lines or even serious advices. He can turn from a statement filled with rebuke into one with deadpan serious tone. If you could compile all the quotable quotes in this series, I think you can make an encyclopaedia! But this guy is serious when he takes up a job, he completes it by hook or by crook. Mostly in an odd way. Well, nobody else can do it, right? However I noticed that you need not have money to hire him. As long as your heart is sincere and truly hopeless, Gin and his team will ‘settle’ it for you even if he doesn’t take any payment in the end. Maybe that’s why he’s always poor. Hmm… Maybe it’s seeing those happy in the end is what counts most.

There are many other characters too such as Kagura, a blunt but strong girl of the Yato clan who has a big appetite and always carrying an umbrella, Shinpachi Shimura, the bespectacled voice of reasoning that nobody ever listens too (most of the counter jokes come from this guy), Sadaharu, Yorozuya’s giant white pet dog who likes to bite (including people’s head), Otose, the old cigarette smoking lady who runs a sweets shop and landlord for Gin (always wearing heavy make-up), Catherine, Otose’s lazy assistant and ex-thief, Ayame Sarutobi, the masochistic ninja responsible for lots of S&M jokes especially when she wants Gin to give her pain, Tae Shimura AKA Otae, Shinpachi’s older sister who is really bad in cooking (stay away or you’re good as dead), Taizou Hasegawa, an ex-official working for the Bakufu (shogun) but became a useless unemployed dork nicknamed MADAO due to an incident, the resistant movement and Joishi leader Kotarou Katsura (if you ask me, he’s more of an idiot in many ways, including stressing to people when his name isn’t said correctly) and his what-the-heck-is-this-thing Elizabeth as his pet (communicates with a signboard and her true nature may be an old geezer underneath it. Gasp!).

Then there is the Shinsengumi, the so called police force working on behalf for the Bakufu and thus the only reason they are allowed to carry a sword around. They include the extremely violent old geezer and direct superior Katakuriko Matsudaira, the commander Isao Kondo (goofy and often nicknamed gorilla and a serial stalker when it comes to Otae), the strict demon vice commander Toushirou Hijikata (I’ve known nobody who loves mayonnaise like this guy), the sadistic Sougou Okita (watch out for pranks from this guy!) and Sagaru Yamazaki (badminton lover). There are many other more characters, some supporting and some just for a particular arc. But as the story goes by, they all do play an important role in the series overall or just their respective arcs. Wikipedia has a summary of some of the other characters so you may want to check it out.

It won’t be accurate to say that the each of the episode serves as stand-alones. They can be divided into main story arcs, which last on average up to 5 episodes, mini arcs usually just 2 episodes and individual episodes that can either be a whole episode or be split into 2 separate unrelated short stories to double the fun and laughter. The pacing of the arcs and the individual ones in between is well planned. After a main story arc, usually there’ll be a handful of individual episodes to serve as a little breather before a mini or another main one begins. Unlike some animes that I know can take a whole season or heck, a whole year just for fillers! You know which shows I’m talking about, eh? Since it’s impossible for me to blog down all the episodes due to space constraints and memory problems (always this darn can’t remember thingy), I’ll (very) briefly blog on some of the memorable ones. Of course Wikipedia and Yorozuya Soul site has some short summaries for me to refresh my hazy and fading memories.

Memory Lost Arc
Gin forgets who he is after trying to get his usual JUMP magazine and starts working in a factory making Justaways (whatever the heck is this little can figure). Seems Kondo is also working there because he too lost his memories. Shinpachi and Kagura tried to help him recall his memories but it seems that the real Gin is never coming back for good. The factory is actually run by a couple of baddies under a disguise. In the end, our heroes and the Shinsengumi bust in to save the day and recover Gin’s memories. Can’t say the same for Kondo, though… He lost his memories twice…

Umibouzu Arc
Kagura’s dad, Umibouzu who is also the strongest of the Yato clan comes to Earth to stop a parasitic menace and at the same time to have a talk with his daughter. Shinpachi quits Yorozuya to go save Kagura who is captured by the parasitic alien gone out of control from (weird) animal loving Prince Hata but in the end Gin teams up with Umibouzu to save Kagura. And since this series won’t do without that specky kid, Shinpachi rejoins Yorozuya. Like any of us cared in the first place :).

Infant Arc
Gin finds a baby at his doorstep and is accused of having a child since the little one does share some of his traits and resemblance. Eventually they managed to find the baby’s real mother and reunite them but not without a bloody fight with a skilled but blind swordsman, Nizo Okada.

Benizakura Arc
I read that this is one of the most popular arcs so much so that a movie retelling its tale was spawned around when the TV series ended. It begins with Katsura getting killed so Elizabeth enlists Yorozuya’s help to find the culprit. Gin is also tasked to find the mysterious stolen sword called Benizakura. Gin then encounters Nizo again who is in possession of the Benizakura and the former gets heavily wounded in the fight. Kagura snoops around and discovers the Kiheitai faction, led by the dangerous Shinsuke Takasugi plotting to free Japan using violent measures. She gets trapped but Shinpachi and Elizabeth come to her rescue. You can’t have the main hero dying so Gin has to return (along with Katsura who wasn’t really dead in the first place since Nizo didn’t make sure that he stayed dead) to save the day, defeat Nizo (since his Benizakura is swallowing and controlling him) and put a stop to Takasugi’s plans

Fuyou Arc
Gin finds an android maid’s head, which they named Tama in the trash, takes it for repairs and gets entangled in a deadly chase from certain parties to retrieve it as part of some project.

Yagyuu Arc
Otae has been kidnapped by her childhood friend, Kyuubei Yagyuu to fulfil her promise of marrying her. Note, Kyuubei thinks she’s a male. Yorozuya and the main Shinsengumi trio go to Kyuubei’s home to rescue her and get caught in a deadly game (destroying plates of your opponents makes you out of the game). I love the one whereby Gin, Kondo, Binbokusai and Tojo are trapped in their toilet cubicles with no toilet paper and are being paranoid of trying to make the first move! It’s ultimately Gin and Binbokusai who emerge and do battle. Of course in the end our heroes save Otae and even inadvertently ‘rescued’ Kondo in an arranged political marriage with a gorilla!

Hasegawa’s Trial Arc
The MADAO guy is being prosecuted after he accidentally did a Nikuman Buster move on a passer-by while on his way to his first job. To his dismay, Gin becomes his lawyer! Now he’s screwed. But fortunately, Gin wins the case for him because the prosecution is a shady person himself. As happy Hasegawa is to reunite with his wife, he accidentally trips and did that Buster move on his wife!

Owee Arc
Parody to the Nintendo Wii console, Gin, Kagura, Shinpachi and Katsura in disguise team up against the Shinsengumi in distasteful game challenges so that the winning team can get the limited and newly released Owee game console. The final match pits the gang to don virtual goggles and play a virtual RPG game with ridiculous adventuring and in the end everything turned chaotic in the real world. Was it really worth it?

Shinsengumi Rebellion Arc
When Hijikata receives a strange sword, his personality changes into one of an otaku called Toushi! Not only he is in danger of losing his post, the advisor to the Shinsengumi, Kamotarou Itou is plotting to rid of Kondo and Hijikata to take over the Shinsengumi and has Okita on his side. More is revealed when Itou is aligned to Kiheitai and Takasugi’s right hand man Bansai Kawakami. As Hijikata pleads to Yorozuya for help and Okita betraying Itou once he found out his plans to kill Kondo, Itou realized he was just being used as a tool by Bansai to further Takasugi’s plans. Gin’s strong will manage to overcome all that and restore order. Hijikata cuts down Itou so that the he could die an honourable death.

Ryuugujou Arc
Parodying the folklore of Tarou Urashima, Gin, Kagura, Shinpachi, Otae, Katsura, Kyuubei and Hasegawa are stranded on an island and discover the nefarious plot of the aging Otohime to turn everyone as old as her with some cannon. Though Gin and Katsura turn old, with the help of a rebel human-cum-turtle, they are able to prevent just that and even save Otohime and bring her to her senses. You don’t need to look young and beautiful as long as the person you love still loves you, you’ll always be beautiful in his eyes.

Screwdriver Arc
The Yorozuya guys wake up one morning to a certain part of their body has been replaced with screwdrivers. Gin has to be the worse one because his ‘little buddy’ is an Alan screwdriver! Not a flat head or Philips! The only clue they have to confront those aliens who did the mutilation on them is via some famous online RPG game they played. Meeting other pals who also experienced this, in the end their search was futile and everyone gave up except Ayame. She finally finds them and gathers the gang to capture the aliens. It ends in a cliff-hanger because while the aliens escape, Gin used his ‘little buddy’ to unscrew some part of the spaceship to send it crashing. How they return to their original bodies remains a mystery…

Penpal Arc
Shinpachi is definitely a hardcore fan of the popular adult singer Tsu Terakado or more popularly known as Otsu (you should hear her lyrics! Kids, close your ears! Even got self censored). He even has his own devoted Otsu Fan Club but when he receives a mysterious penpal letter wanting a reply, he tries to meet the girl. Turns out the girl in the picture is her sister and was pretending to be her. After some unwanted suggestions of how to reply the letter, they go meet her and learn her story and in the end became friends.

Senbokyou Arc
Yorozuya takes a trip to the hotspring inn at the mountains courtesy of Otose. However the place is haunted and the spirits here are those who can’t seem to move on the next world. Heck there’s that Briefs Trio in the form of Nobunaga and the likes! Gin is forced to work but soon rebels to free the spirits. So the usual he comes face to face with the hotspring hostess, beats her and makes her open her eyes.

Yoshiwara Arc
Yorozuya takes on a little boy, Seita’s request to rescue his mom, Hinowa from Yoshiwara, an underground red light district run by an ex-Yato member Hosen. Kagura also meets her older brother, Kamui. Seita learns Hinowa isn’t actually his real mom but one who took him in when his real mother died. Gin and Tsukuyo of the Hyakka cooperate to save Hinowa as Gin takes on a power battle with Hosen. Don’t look down on humans because their will and determination is enough to make them stand back up and fight. In an amazing comeback Gin beats Hosen and the latter dies in the sunlight (something that all Yato clans are weak of) and liberate Yoshiwara.

Otsu Fan Club Arc
When Otsu announces a competition to be her official fan club, you know who will be taking up the challenge. But Shinpachi will be facing Toushi as his toughest competition as he has got all other fragmented fan clubs under his command. Hijikata’s reason for entering this competition is to rid Toushi in him forever. The Yorozuya along with some foreigner wrestler as quick replacement of Shinpachi’s injured friend, go through lots of challenge to show their love for Otsu like running a marathon (to downsize the 5000 mad fans), answering quizzes (answers of questions which are not related or too trivial for anyone to care or notice) and acting out a charismatic scene to hit on her. The final battle pits Shinpachi against Toushi/Hijikata in some card game turned boxing match. In the end, Hijikata is freed from Toushi and though Shinpachi is the official winner, he gives it up to Hijikata because he’d rather be the leader of his own Otsu Fan Club.

Tama Quest Arc
Tama is infected with some virus so the Yorozuya guys are shrunk into small size to enter her body to rid of the black virus. It’s odd to see her inner body like an RPG town (parody to the Dragon Quest RPG games). Gin teams up with Leukocyte King (looking exactly like Gin) to defeat the Tapir King before Tama’s body becomes pixelated.

Jiraia Arc
Tsukuyo’s twisted master with a spider tattoo, Jiraia returns to torment the student he made to perfection. He is going to destroy all the things she loved as he perceived she has grown weak. It might be surprising that Gin may be losing to this guy at first due to his speed and attacks but after fighting the baddest of the baddies, you’d figure out that he will overcome all that and beat that guy. So yeah, Jiraia wanted to be killed by his own student as his own twisted version of completing his masterpiece.

Character Polls Arc
Every darn character has a ranking right over their head! Even unimportant characters! Is this all made up or are do those characters really do have rankings? Anyway the gang turn on each other so as to be number 1 (we know Gin is right at the top. Wink, wink) when a mysterious character tries to alter the rankings by taking out those ranked above him. Everyone’s ranking drops drastically as the viewers (really?) got fed up by the incessant and petty bickering and backstabbing. Turns out the culprit to be Yamasaki as Shinpachi slaps some sense into him. And after lots of nice words, the duo end up being number 1 together but earn the wrath of the others. They throw them down the building!

Rokkaku Arc
A girl, Kirie tries to avenge her dad by killing Okita whom she believed is the culprit of the Rokkaku incident (Okita and another colleague, Kamiyama survived the incident). Turns out that her dad was supporting that faction (the real killer was Kamiyama who had to kill him in self defence) and the remnants of the faction is using her to avenge his brother’s death. In the end, Kirie learns the truth as Okita takes on all the members alone even if the cavalry arrived a little late.

Kabukichou Stray Cats Arc
Gin and Katsura are turned into stray cats (after disrespecting a cat’s grave by peeing and shitting on it respectively). For some unknown reasons, Kondo is turned into a gorilla! The trio are taken by the area’s boss, Houichi and soon learn he wasn’t a cat to begin with. He has been turned into a feline many years ago and felt he deserved this curse for killing innocent lives. But the other stray cats turn against him in order to end his so called dictatorship when they are being captured. Because of some alien cat’s failing manhood, he wants the cats to fight some beast in order to bring out their manliness to revive his libido (?!). Gin and co infiltrate the place to save Houichi and the cats and soon revert back to their normal human bodies.

Onmyouji Arc
Gin is a fan of the weather reporter girl, Ana Ketsuno. But he doesn’t know of her other alter ego as she is from the Onmyouji priest clan and her brother is no other than Seimei who protects the town with his magic from demons. Of course the clan feud between Ketsuno and Shirino has been going on for so long and it got worse when Ana married Domon of Shirino only to divorce later. Then her weather reporting misses all the time so Yorozuya team up with Seimei to end the clan feud in a Shinigami Tag Team match. Doman got desperate and summons a dark creature that tries to consume his body. Summoning all the power they have, they seal the beast and bring back the sunny smiles to everyone.

Santa Arc
Umibouzu tries to pay Kagura a visit as Santa Claus because she’s always asking why the fat guy in red never visits. However Gin, Kondo, Ayame and Kyuubei are also acting as Santa and each claim to be the real one (with their own motives of course). I love it when Gin and Umibouzu got the same thinking that they treat each other as either the fake Santa or the real deal! So Kagura has a competition for them to act out and see which is the real one by acting out some play and in the end it turns out with Kagura jumping in the lead, there was nothing to do with Santa after all. Everybody leaves in a huff as Kagura wishes everyone a Happy Merry Last Episode! Nooo!!! That’s not funny!

New Year Episodes
Some of the New Year episodes see the gang bumming around trying to waste film time as you know, they’ve been pre-allocated half an hour. They even had the guts to use repeated scenes from last year to fill the space! What about using a still picture of Yorozuya as the gang blab about? Nobody is going to listen to Shinpachi whenever he rebukes all this.

Other Episodes
Episode 6: Gin takes a criminal to see Otsu’s concert but he turns out to be her dad wanting to see her.
Episode 21: Yorozuya help a kappa to defend his lake from unruly developers.
Episode 24: Gin and Katsura are forced to cross-dress and work at an okama (transvestite) bar and help a boy reunite with his okama dad.
Episode 25: Some of the characters battle each other in a game of wits to control the nabe pot!
Episode 29: Alien cockroaches invade Edo! Unwittingly, Sadaharu kills the ‘boss’ cockroach easily.
Episode 35: Matsudaira has his Shinsengumi trio follow (read: stalk) his daughter and her boyfriend to the amusement park and try to take him out!
Episode 50: The cast try to think up a new premise for the show after the series is being threatened to be cancelled. Lots of parodies and spoofs of other movies and genres!
Episode 54-55: An old mom enlists Gin’s help to find her lost son who is found working in a hostess bar. I love Gin’s rebuke to that old lady’s face: “Your face is sexually harassing people!”.
Episode 56: Otsu tries to help increase the popularity of Shinsengumi but gets into more trouble like being kidnapped. Of course our heroes save the day and the girl.
Episode 64: A news reporter follows and does a coverage on Katsura and his group but all she is his stupidity (trying hard to reveal his own name when the station is trying to censor it) and the gang idling and goofing around doing useless stuff. In the end when she thought he did something good for once, it backfired and got her injured. So in the end she concludes, if you see this man, CALL THE POLICE, DAMN IT!!!
Episode 65: Yorozuya and Shinsengumi go on a beetle hunt. Did Gin offered to become the golden beetle Matsudaira was looking for? Hara kiri da yo!
Episode 72: Katsura takes up driving lessons so he can get a licence as identification to rent a DVD (WTF?!). With Gin as his instructor, expect all the ridiculous hilarity. It would be easier to just pull out his “Wanted” poster, eh?
Episode 74: Gin and the rest are trapped in a pachinko parlour after the invasion of unibrow zombies! Resident Evil parody.
Episode 83: The Shogun drops by Otae’s work place and Gin and the rest have no choice but to accompany him. But it seems the Shogun is always on the losing end and even ends up naked after a game of King! He even runs outside with nothing on!
Episode 88: Tojo enlists Gin’s help to try and make Kyuubei more feminine by organizing a gokon (something like a blind date) but it turns out disastrous and Kyuubei was more interested in something else on the add rather than wanting to do a surgery for a ‘Babel Tower”.
Episode 89: Using Bleach as a parody, some guy tries to teach Yorozuya an ultimate move but they aren’t really interested.
Episode 92: An assassin tries to assassinate Matsudaira but he sees Gin in the way and starts getting psycho (actually Gin’s actions were just coincidence because he was trying to peep a woman changing rather than knowing the assassin’s presence). In the end, ironically the assassin became a hero after doing a heroic antic.
Episode 96: Umibouzu is hired to save a planet being attacked by vicious creatures. In the end after all that drama and action, it turned out to be one long hair growth commercial! GIVE ME BACK MY 24 MINUTES OF SCREEN TIME!!!
Episode 106: Some of the characters have to fill in for a football team and play a match after the usual team got knocked out.
Episode 109: Yamazaki infiltrates Katsura’s group and undergoes lots of silly tests and still Katsura and co can’t find out he’s from Shinsengumi. Till he dropped his ID at the very end when he was finally recruited. Lots of Jacky Chan and Sammo Hung parody.
Episode 110: An inmate tries to dig his way out of prison when he reluctantly befriends Katsura who tells him a long winded dramatic story in order to allay his intentions of escaping. But it’s just a ploy to put him to sleep so he himself could escapes. But he can’t escape yet since he’s being watched by the other prisoners and so the endless fear of being watched by others puts Katsura and the others’ escape on hold. Yeah, there’re lots of holes just from looking outside the prison island.
Episode 113: A Shinsengumi suggests making their toilets clean. Why is Okita obsessed of cleaning his head mole? It’s amazing Kondo got his ‘little buddy’ stuck in a cardboard cut out…
Episode 114: Since Matsudaira’s daughter fell for Hijikata the last time, Hijikata knows he has got to get out of this relationship before the disapproving big boss gets his head. He manages to by impersonating as some guy from mayonnaise planet?!
Episode 119: With the ban on smoking, Hijikata has a tough time trying to light up and goes to great lengths to just obtain a smoke. Dragonball parody.
Episode 124: Otsu is troubled as she is unable to release her new album without her producer. The rest of the gang chip in to help up and though her album is finally released, due to the racy lines, her record sales are banned!
Episode 136: Gin and Hasegawa go around looking for a house and stumble upon a haunted room that nobody wants to take. It ends on a cliff-hanger.
Episode 138: Shinpachi and Kagura find out about the previous employees of Yorozuya: Black people? Who is that hot chick in the photo besides that?!
Episode 147: Shinpachi and Kagura want somebody to be their trainer to be strong but it turns out all the training methods were just sh*t and in the end they decide to do their own training even though it was a ploy by everybody to watch over them.
Episode 148-149: Hijikata and Okita are chained up by a maniac in a Saw parody as they have to kill each other to save themselves and the Shinsengumi before the time is up. In the end, it’s just a prank by Okita.
Episode 151-152: Yorozuya is made to be in charge of a barber shop when the Shogun comes in requesting for a new haircut. Not to mention keeping arch enemies Katsura and Kondo from seeing each other. They screw up and run for their lives eventually (putting dog poo on his head!).
Episode 153: Kagura can’t sleep and pesters Gin to make her sleep. After all that trouble, Kagura snoozes when morning comes and Gin is darn tired.
Episode 155: Hasegawa and Gin bet on horse races to turn their fortunes but they turn on each other and both lose everything.
Episode 164: Yorozuya goes to see some fake guy who is impersonating them. Also, Shinpachi is being visited by some odd guy from the future in a Doraemon parody. But he got the wrong guy and it’s supposed to be a Terminator parody instead.
Episode 171: The Yorozuya people are losing their hair!
Episode 172: Shinsengumi tries to interrogate a serial killer but their methods were futile in breaking him and it turns out they got the wrong guy. That innocent dude must be one very patient and positive fellow.
Episode 175: Gin and Hijikata may be tough but they have their fears going to the dentist. I think they need to go see a mental psychiatrist after all the mental torture they’ve gone through.
Episode 185: Yorozuya is tasked to clear a temple from alien bees. They accidentally killed each bee tribe’s queen (game console accidentally falling on their head) which leads to an all out war as the tribes eliminate each other!
Episode 188: A young boy did an observation diary on Hasegawa and it was so dramatic (including flashbacks and all) that the teacher and students applauded him for his impressive work. Turns out his mom did his homework. Haha!
Episode 193: The girls and Shinpachi take up cooking class and mock the instructor and thus challenged to make a good dish or risk being expelled. Even if their dish got approved in the end, it was her plan to kick the rowdy bunch out.

Golden Soul
I don’t think this blog is enough to do justice to as how much I enjoyed this series. It’s fun to see how the gang breaks the fourth wall by talking to audience like as though they are interacting with them. They also joke about the stretched and limited budget of continuing to run this show year after year! Not to mention suggesting to the staff to do this and that for improvement. They also toyed with viewers like making a countdown to end the series which began more than a year ago! Then there’s the word play they make on the name of Gintama as Kintama. Woah. Be careful a single change in alphabet could really change the meaning from silver soul to testicles (even if the other meaning could mean golden soul)! With lots of parodies also in terms of speeches, because some of the names and legal implications, you’ll often hear the beep when they mention those trademarked names. If not, they give some made up name that parodies closely to it. Even some of the graphics are purposely censored out like human/animal/alien poo or vomit. But it’s all in the name of comedy I assure you :). For some episodes that still have time left, they add short clips like Ginpachi Sensei’s class in which he tries to answer Q&A from viewers and that monkey (a personification of the series’ creator Hideki Sorachi) lazing around too lazy to do anything.

I felt that the TV series is left ‘hanging’ simply because of some of the antagonists that have yet to be dealt with like Takasugi and Kamui. Because they made their real appearances many episodes back, somehow it doesn’t really impact that cliff-hanging feeling when the series ended. Takasugi isn’t giving up on his twisted goal yet while Kamui is hell bent on making Gin his next target in his goal to become the strongest in the universe. Then there are other minor characters that don’t often appear but I think they are supporting ones (because they sometimes appear in the ending credits) like that ugly but gentle alien Hedoro and the pair of priestess sisters who gave away Sadaharu. But for the known characters, as we get to know them more about their personality and their past, all I can say is that it’s a good thing all of them stayed basically the same in the end, though bonds between themselves and others or certain groups may have increased. As long as we have these bunch of clowns around, Edo will be a safe place. Or not.

Something about each of the episode title. They feel like advices, rebuking statements, warnings and the likes. It’s really funny that it makes you laugh but some of them also had me scratching my own head. As the episode titles are written in kanji, hiragana or katakana, they literally fill up the entire space when they are displayed. I know it’s partly my weak Japanese to blame but unless you’re a pro in this language, they look like doodles to me! Just like in School Rumble, there will be a couple of short lines during the sponsor screen that serve as teasing for that particular episode or the next. The drawing and art may be today’s standard Japanese animation but in certain episodes they do experiment a little with the drawing style. Some very simple and some over detailed. Perhaps for the parody and jokes that come with it.

There are a total of 8 opening themes and 16 ending themes for this entire series. They can range from R&B to pop but they are mainly rock based. I may not like all of them but the ones that I prefer include Pray by Tommy Heavenly6 (opening 1), Fuusan Gam by Captain Stridum (ending 1), Mr Raindrop by amplified (ending 2 – song entirely in English), Shura by DOES (ending 5) and Wo Ai Ni by Hitomi Takashi and Beat Crusaders (ending 14). Others that felt okay to me include Tooi Nioi by Yo-King (opening 2), Giniro No Sora (opening 3), Donten by DOES (opening 5), Stairway Generation by Base Ball Bear (opening 7), Sanagi by POSSIBILITY (episode 9), This World Is Yours by Plingmin (ending 10), Ai Ai Ai (I, Love, Meet) by GHOSTNOTE (ending 11) and Sayonara No Sora (ending 14).

The cast is also very lively and since I have been seeing this show for so long, nobody else would fit the characters better than they do. They include Tomokazu Sugita as Gin (Kyon in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu), Daisuke Sakaguchi as Shinpachi (Sunohara in Clannad), Rie Kugimiya as Kagura (Shana in Shakugan No Shana), Akira Ishida as Katsura (Gaara of Naruto), Satsuki Yukino as Otae (Kagome in Inu Yasha), Susumu Chiba as Kondo (Takehito Asama of Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~), Kazuya Nakai as Hijikata (Zoro in One Piece), Kenichi Suzumura as Okita (Junpei in Ichigo 100%), Kujira as Otose (Orochimaru in Naruto), Yu Kobayashi as Ayame (Lia in World Destruction – man, I love her voice when she goes crazy and loud!) and Mikako Takahashi as Otsu (Ayumu in Hayate No Gotoku). There are a bunch of other famous seiyuu making their cameo roles over the series such as Mamiko Noto, Yuko Kaida, Ai Shimizu, Ayako Kawasumi, Chiwa Saito, Hiroshi Kamiya, Kana Ueda, Norio Wakamoto and Yuko Goto, whether or not they play multiple minor characters or main/supporting roles for a particular arc.

Besides from the TV series, there are quite a number of other media for this series. Aside the manga in which this series is serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, this include movies, a couple of OVAs (the first one in which to introduce the characters and start off the long running TV series), CD soundtracks, light novels, video games and even guidebooks to help you understand the world of Gintama even better. I guess I could say that this series is popular enough to have its own following but not enough to knock the top 3 (you know which series lah). So I’m hoping in the near future, this series will make a comeback and you can count that I will be eagerly waiting when the announcement of its continuation or extension or even remake is leaked, oops I mean, announced. Hmm… Maybe I need to hire the Yorozuya guys to coerce, erm I mean, persuade those production staff to start working on it. I need my daily anime fix, help me, Gin-chan!

 

Dance In The Vampire Bund

January 21, 2011

We all know the recent American vampire craze from the big screen to its TV series. Not to say that Japan hasn’t has its fair share of it but when you talk about vampires against their eternal and natural werewolf nemesis, how many actually do feature the forbidden love between a vampire and a werewolf? Yeah, it’s always both sides killing each other for centuries. Though this Romeo-Juliet setting isn’t the main premise of Dance In The Vampire Bund, at least there is an unbreakable bond between both the main protagonists that are from different clans.

Episode 1
The episode starts off on an interesting tone because it is somewhat like a talk show-cum-debate about the recent vampire-like attacks and thus the discussion about whether vampires do really exist among us. Featuring a panel of famous judges from various backgrounds that include an actor playing some vampire in a recent movie, an old actress who played a role in an old vampire movie, a model, a mangaka and a professor. Each give their views as the programme also interview audiences. Among them and yet unknown to the world, the real princess of Darkness and vampire queen, Mina Tepes, a random passer-by in the street that turns out to be Akira Kaburagi (someone Mina knows but is rather disappointed he doesn’t believe in vampires). As the show goes on, slowly the judges shift their opinion to not believing in vampires’ existence. Till one of Mina’s servant, Vera, brings in proof in the form of a vampire’s detached hand. The actor starts acting strangely and he suddenly turns into a vampire since that was the arm he lost. He goes berserk and attacks, causing chaos in the studio. Finally Mina shows her true self and power as she and her loyal subjects subdue the rogue vampire. She announces her intention to establish a kingdom for her vampire brethren called Vampire Bund just off the shores of Japan.

Episode 2
Akira seems to be a regular high school kid and I guess it’s pretty typical too that he has a childhood friend-cum-classmate who has a crush on him that he isn’t aware of, Yuki Saegusa. Oh I forgot to mention. He has no memories of his first 16 years of his life due to some incident. The students of the school are still talking about the hot topic on vampires and Akira isn’t comfortable about it. He spots a little girl (Mina) spying on him from the bushes. Seems he doesn’t remember who she is. Mina backs off after Akira experiences painful but very vague memory recalls when he sees her tears. After school, Mina confronts him again but they are being attacked by other forces who want her killed. They need a helicopter to do that? Well, she is a vampire after all. After despatching a couple of rogue vampires, Mina is confronted by another spider assassin. The spider has Mina in his grasp while Akira takes a beating. Mina’s tears has Akira at least remember his relationship with Mina so he transforms into his true form, a werewolf and wipes out that spider to rescue Mina. You know, I find his wolf howling to be a little weird. Sounded a little perverted…

Episode 3
It’s bad enough Akira wakes up with Mina in her room and given special treatment by Vera’s other maids, namely Nera, Nelly and Nero. To make things even worse, Mina becomes Akira’s classmate! Isn’t this such a cliche storyline? What’s more, everybody recognizes her as that vampire queen. Now everybody is hounding Akira for answers because Mina announces that he is her servant. Things are just going from bad to worse. At least for his peaceful life. However the student council president Nanami Shinonome isn’t pleased that Japan is already under the influence of vampires and now their school has been infiltrated with one. She decides to confront the school’s director whom nobody has ever seen and to her shock finds Mina as its director. The school was built for her and aid her goal to establish Vampire Bund? Some foresight. Nanami definitely is against this so to settle this dispute, a contest is announced. Guess what? If Akira is captured before the time is up, Mina’s transfer to the school will be cancelled. And to add motivation, the ones who capture her will be given a special reward. Whatever that is. But heck, it was enough for everyone to go all out for Akira’s head. Akira has a tough time running away but a mysterious girl who loves biting candy, Meiren, saves him from all those trouble. Ally or foe, we just don’t know but he got away. At the same time, Mina meets a bunch of higher Japanese bureaucrats and ‘blackmails’ them to approve her Vampire Bund establishment. Since her clan has been subsidising Japan’s economy and clearing their national debt, disapproving her kingdom would mean pulling out the funds. Tough, eh? Now we know how Japan is financed! At the end of the day, Nanami’s decision to stay late at school proved to be fatal as vampires break in to her room and attack her.

Episode 4
Mina is going to hold a worldwide announcement about her kingdom. This is going to be big news so it’s no surprise that extra security has to be taken. Then when a missing vampire rumoured to possess a bomb goes missing, Mina is still going ahead with the conference while the rest race against time to search for the culprit. Clues indicate that the suspect may have escaped the tight security detection because he or she recently just became a vampire. Akira and Vera realize that the bomber is masquerading as one of the journalists and is already in the packed hall. Mina captivates the curious beings with her assertive answers. As the bomber begins to move, Akira spots her and manages to subdue her. The crowd panics while Mina plays it cool. Then extracting the bomb inside her body and throwing it down the shaft. With everyone witnessing first hand that vampires do exist, Mina tells them to report it and but assures them to go back to their daily lives as she will never pose a threat to them. With that, the council approves of her kingdom. Mina thanks Akira for being selfless as the latter learns her goal of establishing Vampire Bund as a sanctuary for humans turned into vampires but are ‘fangless’ and do not want to lose their human heart.

Episode 5
As Mina attends school, the rest still fear her but Yuki approaches her and they soon become friends. At least they are able to talk to each other. Then news of Nanami’s disappearance turned into rumours that she was attacked by vampires. Yuki suspects Mina ordering the attack and is disheartened to see the ring she gave Akira on Mina’s neck. Mina becomes aggressive and tells her off that Akira was born to serve her and that he belongs to her! But Mina has a bigger problem on her hands. Japan’s Prime Minister, Mizoguchi who is against Mina’s kingdom, plans to disband the parliament and this could derail the establishment of Vampire Bund. Mina goes to see him and talk but Mizoguchi thinks he has the upper hand of dissolving parliament. What about the funds? Well, if that is what the people want, then we must respect their decision, right? If only politicians were this true to their words. Since Mizoguchi won’t budge from his stand, Mina has no choice but to execute her plan. Something about kidnapping Mizoguchi’s beloved and only grandson. Wow. Nera slaughtered all the bodyguards and kidnapped the grandson! Meanwhile, those who are close to Akira gets beaten up as they are deemed to be on the vampire’s side. Akira receives pictures of Nanami being attacked by vampires. Later Akira walks back with Yuki but they are being attacked by vampires. The thing is, those vampires are wearing their school uniform. But they managed to escape when Meiren comes to their rescue. She easily dispatches them all singlehandedly. Akira and Yuki take refuge in a building. Not sure if they got their sex interrupted (at least that’s how it looked like) when Mina calls Akira to wonder about his whereabouts.

Episode 6
Akira is confronted with Meiren and the way she says things causes him to doubt his loyalty to Mina. Then his true fears realized when he comes home to see Mizoguchi’s grandson crying in a dark room. Worse, a vampire bite mark on his neck. Mizoguchi has no choice but to give in to her demands and soon resigns from his post. Then in school, one of Akira’s friends, Hiko seems to have turned himself into a vampire. Once often bullied, he is relishing in his new super strength powers but before Akira could stop him, he flees. Akira then confronts Mina (seemingly very happy her negotiation was a success) and is disappointed in her about the recent events though Mina is adamant that he doesn’t know the burden of the kingdom she is carrying. With vampires infiltrating their school, Yuki and the others who are still human converge at the church. Do they really believe that this place will keep them safe? Thankfully Akira wishes to help them out but decides to leave to confirm his own feelings and will fight against Mina. He advises them not to let anyone in after he leaves. Yuki asks Akira about the ring and though he remembers the proof of their promise as friends forever, Akira is glad she didn’t lie to him and was always by his side. After Akira leaves, they hear cries of Nanami pleading for help. They think it’s safe but by opening the door means opening Pandora’s Box. It’s just a trap as Nanami is now a vampire with her vampire pals. Curiosity does kill the cat.

Episode 7
As Akira is on his way, he meets Alphonse, one of Mina’s loyal subjects and the one who suggested the plan to kidnap Mizoguchi’s grandson. He also meets his dad, Wolf and learns something about his failed mission over a year ago that resulted in the lost of his memories. Wolf was supposed to kill Akira then but decided to let him live. He doesn’t want Akira to make him regret making that decision. Meanwhile the vampires that infiltrated the church are raping and turning the humans into one of their own kind. When it’s Yuki’s turn, Mina appears in time. She is not pleased to hear their twisted version of making her a ruler over mankind. These vampires call themselves Telomere and were the ones who manipulated Mizoguchi. Since Mina doesn’t agree with them, they are prepared to kill her. Are they serious in taking their own queen down? She isn’t the queen of vampires for nothing. Even in their true forms, they couldn’t even scratch her. Akira busts in to swiftly deal justice to them. Then he and Mina face off. Both transform into their true form and fight each other (Mina seems to be an adult version of herself. Why is her body glowing in yellow?). The fight ended when Akira used his body to protect Mina from a cross that pierced his body. Don’t worry, he won’t die that easy. Just glad that they’ve reconciled. Those who have been recently turned into vampires are given vaccines to revert back to their human self. In the end, Mina declares the establishment of Vampire Bund and Akira is bestowed knighthood and joins the order of warriors to serve under her.

Episode 8
Nanami is still a vampire and can’t revert back since she has been one for too long. She tries to resist her temptation to bite her next door neighbour’s neck, Yuzuru. In school, Mina and Yuki resume their friendly relationship and seems Yuki writes a yaoi manga with Akira as the main character (WTF?!). Perhaps if she can’t get her dream guy, it’s best to fantasize him to the max. Yuzuru wants to go to Bund to find Nanami, whom he considers as his older sister. Mina and co go look for her thinking she’s under the command of a new master. Turns out to be Hysterica, someone Vera once knew. Hysterica and her vampire army surround the gang but luckily Mina has got her Elite Eight of Beowolf werewolves to do the ass kicking. Vera fights Hysterica while the rest go after Nanami. She pleads them to kill her before she ‘dirties’ Yuzuru and starts to hate her. Before anything else could happen, Hysterica uses her suicide vampire army infused with bombs in their body as diversion to take Nanami away and escape.

Episode 9
Mina is sending out a worldwide telecast to challenge Hysterica but nobody knows that because she’s speaking in an ancient language and the subs are fake. And you thought the fansubs were trolling! Mina briefs her Beowolf warriors about Telomere’s possible plans to do a large scale suicide explosion in subways by using vampires posing as humans. While Yuzuru learns of Vera’s resolve to become a vampire and serve her highness, Mina meets Hysterica and her vampires while the werewolves go on a subway vampire hunt. They try to outdo each other. Hysterica can’t send signals to her vampires in the subway to explode because the building is covered with aluminium scraps and jamming devices. But the ones with her are a threat as the close proximity can still cause damage to Mina if they explode too close. Hysterica tries to command Nanami to do her bidding but Mina unveils her trump card: Yuzuru. She still has strong feelings for her and is able to go against Hysterica’s orders. At least enough time for Yuzuru to stab her. Meanwhile all of the suicide vampire bombers in the subway are snuffed out. The last one left is Hiko. Akira tries to persuade him and promises to help him but Hiko realizes himself to be always weak and blows himself up. Though Akira is sad that his friend is gone, at least there were no other casualties. Mina in her true form battles Hysterica. Nanami then surprises Hysterica by stabbing her. Seems the stake Yuzuru stabbed her had Mina’s DNA, making her Nanami’s new master. Vera finishes the job and kills Hysterica for good. Yuzuru has Nanami bite him so that he could turn into a vampire and be together with her forever.

Episode 10
Mina and her maids (Nanami as the new addition) are taking a day off in their private pool along with Yuki. Akira is absent since that guy decided to accompany Meiren on a ‘date’. She tells him about a story of an unattainable love. Some butterfly danced till its last strength and all its might to attract another butterfly on a flower. Even after the butterfly’s death, the other one still stood there on the flower and it turned out to be just the flower’s petal that resembled very closely to a butterfly. We see a short flashback how Meiren was saved by Mina and was given those candies that she wouldn’t be seen without. Mina gets a visit from the Three Clans, supposedly the true blood lineage of the vampire clan. They are Rozenmann, Ivanovic and Li and are trying to make her submit to them. Why? Because she is their fiancee! We all know that loli vampire would prefer a hairy dog over a few arrogant blood sucking creatures. Based on their strict tradition to carry on their heir and true vampire blood, only Mina can bear a child. Seems they’ve grown tired of waiting. When Akira returns to Bund, he is being swiftly attack by several assailants. As part of the Three Clans’ wager to see who will be Mina’s fiancee, they have make a game in which the master of the assassin who successfully kills Akira will claim Mina to be his. And they’re highly skilled assassins, never failed a mission before Run Akira, run! To add to Mina’s horror, they force her to take the purity test.

Episode 11
Akira is saved by Alphonse as he learns about the purity test not only to see if Mina is keeping her body pure, but a sign to tell her that she is their property. And a little vampire history and feud about the Three Clans framing Mina’s late mom and the previous ruler. Akira is determined to save his princess and though Mina is a little weakened after that violation, quickly gets back up to her feet after and decides to place a wager on herself and her entire future. The Three Clans mentioned something about her true inheritance, something Mina isn’t familiar with. Akira is having a tough time with an assassin but Meiren comes to his aid and finishes him off. Akira can’t transform to his werewolf form. Taking a short refuge with her, Meiren gives him eat a pill and part of his memories start to return. But they are being attacked by another assassin. Since this one is a shape shifter, Akira snaps when she transformed into Mina and in his rage turns into his werewolf form and kills her outright. Bloody decapitated head…

Episode 12
It begins with a flashback of Akira’s previous failed mission. As the only survivor, he enters a creepy place with lots of coffins. And in it, sleeping grown up Minas. The next thing he knows, the entire place is burnt down, the clones destroyed and Mina saying that there are only 2 of them left. Akira wakes up being treated by a group of those fangless vampires as they cheer and give him support. Then he faces off with the final assassin which turns out to be Meiren. He learns her true goal was to gather Mina and the Three Clans together so she could wipe them all out for the sake of her master: She looks a lot like Mina! Her twin? Clone? Leftover of whatever happened at that flashback? Mina learns from her subjects about the true inheritance, which is their ancestors’ blood. As they cannot evolve, they need their blood so that their time can move forward. So those inheritance thingy are those Mina clones and the blood? Akira and Meiren won’t budge from their loyalty to their respective princess and duke it out in their true forms (Meiren is a tiger?). Of course in the end Akira emerges victorious and Meiren is glad to die in his arms. The Three Clans are going to take things into their hands but Mina still has an ace up her sleeve. She gives them a choice. Either they bow to her or they all die together. They make the right decision to continue living. Mina then goes to have her emotional reunion with Akira. News of Meiren’s failure reaches the Mina-look-alike. Akira and Mina have their dance at a cemetery in Bund as he vows to always be by her side.

Vampie + Werewolf = Ugly?
Not sure if they’re going to make another season seeing there are new developments in the form of that Mina-look-alike believed to be heading the Telomere. Mina is definitely a strong character and you have got to love the way she speaks or answers. It is just commanding and very assertive. If you think you could talk back to her, she just has a way with words and answer to just about anything. She is never caught off guard and is prepared for just about anything. It’s a good thing that she keeps her cool but behind that cold demeanour hides a lonely and vulnerable but caring princess of her people. The reason why she remained in her child-like body and kept it a secret was probably to stall marrying one of the Three Clans and bear his offspring. Unlike most vampires who want to rule the world and wipe out the weak humans, at least she tries to coexist for the benefit of both communities. Though Akira has regained his memories in the end, this doesn’t change the fact that he will always be loyal to Mina. With a strong werewolf like him on her side, they’re an unbeatable combo.

Yuki’s character felt very secondary and we know that her romance with Akira ended after the halfway mark. She knows it isn’t going to be possible for Akira to be her lover. Rather than being a rival with Mina (heck, which girl would ever want to go up with the vampire queen?), she quickly accepted for who Mina is. Though Yuki narrates poetically about the story and the fate that has Mina and Akira are bounded together with, I guess that’s just about it for her significance. I also felt that the Elite Eight didn’t make much of an appearance. After their cool ass kicking debut, I was hoping to see them in at least a little bit more action. Well, maybe not. Just let Akira hog the limelight since the series is running out of episodes. Haha. I couldn’t believe that a Chinese vampire (Li) was also one of the true lineages of vampires. And here I thought at least everything will originate from Transylvania of Eastern Europe.

It’s so typical of me to have a stereotypic view on Rie Kugimiya’s voice. I could never guess her if I had never do a little research. She is the voice of Hysterica. Yup, no tsundere loli, no recognize. At least Yu Kobayashi as Meiren (Ayame in Gintama) was recognizable even if she didn’t turned into a screaming hysterical character. Since I never could recognize Chiwa Saito (Rebecca in Pani Poni Dash), this would mean it would never occur to me that she was the voice behind Yuki if I had never find out. Other casts include Ao Yuuki as Mina (Noel in Sora No Woto), Yuuichi Nakamura as Akira (Tomoya in Clannad), Shizuka Itou as Nanami (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Yuko Kaida as Vera (Riza in Kaibutsu Oujo) and Jouji Nakata as Wolf (Giroro in Keroro Gunsou). I like the pop beat of the opening theme by Aiko Nakano called Friends. The ending theme by Hibiku, Tsumeato sounded like a song for a spy thriller.

At the end of most of the episodes, there will be a short comical section called Dane With The Vampire Maids. Usually shown in chibi mode, the short antics of Nero, Nera and Nelly. Whether it’s about giving Akira hell or somebody else. It’s funny and perhaps they should have made this segment a little longer since I guess this is their only place to have focus on them as compared to the episode proper. Also the end picture for each episode shows various illustrations from several different people. Since this is a SHAFT production, the animation style somewhat reminds me of Bakemonogatari in terms of the zooming in and close up to the character’s eye, especially Akira. Then the slo-mo action and movements too bear similar resemblance to that said anime. On a trivial note, I wouldn’t have known about if I didn’t stumble upon by chance. Each of the episodes in the series is named after a horror movie such as “Underworld”, “Interview With The Vampire” and “Teen Wolf”.

Unless you’re a lolicon, I don’t think seeing Mina in her little body amounts to anything fanservice. Mina’s work to her ideal kingdom for her people will be a long road. She’ll face more obstacles to come. From the establishment of her Bund kingdom to threats of other vampires who want her dead, who ever said being a vampire queen would be easy. Besides sucking blood as food and possessing super strength attributes, vampires are pretty much like us humans with emotion and feelings. Hmm… I wonder what kind of offspring would a vampire and a werewolf produce. Ugh… Don’t even want to think about it.

Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn

January 15, 2011

Gosh! I can’t believe it! Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn actually ended! And here I had resigned myself that this show would last forever like all-time favourites Naruto, Bleach and One Piece and perhaps slowly enjoying this show and then suddenly, pop! Last episode. Oh no! I thought they were just taking a few weeks break so I waited for several while and yup, as far as the anime is concerned, after 203 episodes and 4 years of airing, it is finally over. Ah well, at least I know it won’t drag on forever like some series. Eventually it has to end sooner or later.

So if you don’t know what this Reborn series is about already, you should go read some up since it has quite a following though it won’t be as popular as the animes that I have mentioned. If not, let me briefly state it. Whinny high school kid Tsuna finds himself to be the next Vongola mafia boss whether he likes it or not and is given harsh training by his baby-like tutor Reborn. He gathers his ‘family’ and friends as they fight against adversaries who’d bring harm not only to the Vongola name but their other pals too as they bond and grow stronger with each obstacle. Typical shonen anime with good mix of action, drama and humour. The last time my blog ended on this series was before they face off with Byakuran in his Choice game. So yeah, a short continuation from where I left off.

Choice Battle Arc
Wherever the heck everyone has been transported to, it seems like a place filled with tall buildings but void of any living thing. At least no innocent people will die. They spin the roulette to see who gets to participate. For Tsuna’s team it will be Tsuna, Gokudera, Yamamoto, Irie and Spanner while Byakuran’s side will be Kikyo, Daisy, Torikabuto and Saru (a mist ring holder). The rules are simple. Like in chess, the side that takes out the king, wins. Tsuna’s king will be Irie while Byakuran’s will be Daisy. While the match is to be officiated by Cervello, the other non-participants could only watch from the room. So yeah, the high powered fight begins with Tsuna being able to unleash his box weapon Natsu and also use it as a protective cape against Torikabuto while Yamamoto faces off with Saru who turns out to be Genkishi. Irie as the main strategist, their plan seems to be on track till of course the Funeral Wreaths get serious and show their true power. Byakuran shows his cruel side by killing Genkishi via Kikyo after losing interest in him and Tsuna is caught in Torikabuto’s illusion. Yamamoto is having a hard time breaking through the barrier shielding Daisy while Gokudera fails to defend Irie and Spanner’s base from charging Kikyo. In a last desperate move, their base moves to get away from Kikyo but in the end they were no match for him. Just when the game seems to come to a draw as both sides took out their opponent’s king at the same time, Daisy comes back to life once more and since he is still standing, Byakuran team wins! He can’t die?! Oh no! Vongola lost?!

Injured Irie tells Tsuna and co about the real truth. Get ready for this people. Many years ago when Irie received Lambo’s 10 year bazooka as thanks from his Bovine family, he got curious and went to the future and met Byakuran. Irie aspired to be a musician but when he saw his bleak future, gave up and returned to his time. He visited the future several more times and discovered the existence of parallel futures! In each future, he met Byakuran and this unwittingly caused Byakuran to awaken his true ability of retaining knowledge of himself in each of the parallel world. Thus the start of Byakuran’s quest for world domination. You could say that all future parallel worlds have been destroyed and this is the only one left! Plus, this is the only time where Irie and Tsuna met and thus the creation of those Box Weapons. In another time paradox that I didn’t understand, the future Irie planned himself to temporarily lose his memories so that he could work under Byakuran without suspicion and earn his trust. Huh? It got me thinking if there were so many parallel futures, what makes them think that they returned to the right parallel past?

Byakuran demands the Vongola to keep the end of their bargain to hand over their Vongola Rings for his Trinisette policy. Can good guys renege on their word? Irie wants a rematch due to some promise made with him in the past but Irie feints he doesn’t remember. But then Yuni, Millefiore’s second-in-command appears. She has snapped out of Byakuran’s spell and isn’t going to give in to him. Byakuran considers her an important element in his conquest so he can’t do anything rash. With the Choice game annulled, Yuni pleads for Tsuna to protect her as our heroes make an escaping dash with the help of Mukuro back to their own reality. Though the teleport device is damaged, it won’t be long Byakuran and his 6 Funeral Wreaths come breathing down their neck.

Primo Family Arc
The gang is going back to the past once more in order to receive more training and become stronger to fight Byakuran. Though it has been just a few days from the Arcobaleno’s trial completion, this time they will call forth the spirits of the first generation of the Vongola Family, the Primo Family and undergo several tasks required to see if they’re deemed worthy of inheriting their powers. Hmm… Each of the Primo Family guardians look like a splitting mirror image of Tsuna and co. Whether it is their looks or personality. Like reincarnation, eh? Each Arcobaleno is paired with Tsuna’s Guardians respective ring attributes. Of course they need it to beat Byakuran so they can’t possibly fail, right? Well, the first test, Yamamoto flopped due to his aggression towards Ugetsu Asari. After being given a second chance, he passes. Then it’s Lampo for Lambo (near-similarity in looks and name as well?) in some simple amusement park trial but Verde’s interference turns out to be more of a blessing and has Lambo pass his test. Next is G (yeah, just a single alphabet moniker) for Gokudera. No fighting involved like that hot headed kid expected but rather a test of patience and trust/reliability. Of course he passes. Next are Ryohei and Hibari as they team up to defend Namimori School against stupid Arcobaleno Viper’s attack and earn them the inheritance power of Knuckles and Alaude respectively.

Finally it will be Chrome and Daemon Spade but the latter is more of a nuisance and has records of betraying the Primo family because of his twisted and ideal version of the Vongola Family. Daemon Spade uses Chrome and traps the other girls so the guys will have to fight their way through his illusions and playing mind games in hopes that they will abandon and turn on each other. Not going to happen if you know how close they are. With the Arcobaleno and Hibari busting the illusion and Tsuna’s X-Burner defeating Daemon Spade, but after analyzing Mukuro and deemed him worthy, he gives his inheritance power. With all the guardians passed, now it’s Tsuna’s turn with Primo but Primo passes Tsuna because he has witnessed his actions from start to finish and is impressed. Wow. He got it without having to lift a finger. Yeah, after all the trouble everyone else went through. The thing I find odd about when the Primo Family gave their power, their Flame looked more like a spit when it entered the Vongola Boxes. Pttuui! And with everything in the past done, it’s back to the future again.

The 6 Funeral Wreaths’ Invasion and Attack Arc
No time to rest and relax because just as soon as they get back, the baddies will be out for their blood in no time. By the way, a full 10 minutes has just passed. Before they could do anything, Zakuro invades the base and burns everything. Squalo holds him off in order for Tsuna and the rest to escape. Though we didn’t see what happened, it seems Squalo lost. That loud mouth swordsman lost? Tsuna and co take refuge at a realtor’s place that Haru recommended, Kawahira. Yeah, it’s that guy grown up I-pin delivers her ramen to. At the same time, Daisy attacks Dino and his men at Namimori school. They are no match when Daisy opens his Carnage Box embedded in his chest. He turns into a lizard and is able to read all their moves (because Byakuran of the parallel world told them. He remembered every single one of them?). Then it’s showdown with Hibari and since as mentioned the Vongola Boxes existed only in this world, Daisy is defeated via Alaude’s handcuffs. Kawahira manages to use his illusions to fool Zakuro but the mysterious guy leaves the gang with much suspicion. Soon Yamamoto and some of the gang decide to go back to the Vongola HQ to look for Squalo. It isn’t long before Torikabuto has the gang in his powerful reality-twisting illusion (he turns into a moth after using his Carnage Box). Torikabuto has Yuni in his grasp though Ganma and his underlings, Tazaru and Nosaru come to their aid. Thankfully with Chrome’s Vongola Box (Daemon Spade’s lens), this allows her to guide Tsuna to see through Torikabuto’s illusion and beat him. Kikyo and Bluebell decide to retreat and return to Byakuran, who contemplates on releasing the final member of the Funeral Wreath, Ghost, from the Vindice.

Final Battle Arc
Taking refuge in the nearby forest and with injured casualties as they plan their next move to defeat Byakuran. A strategy that protects Yuni from all possible sides, first we see Gokudera, Lal and Ganma teaming up to face Zakuro (transformed into a T-Rex). The gang are nearly obliterated and if not for Gokudera who managed to unleash G’s archery in time to turn the tides to their favour. At least for the time being. Bluebell joins the gang and they could’ve been toast if Xanxus and his Varia didn’t show up and pledge his alliance the fight off the menace. On the other side, Kikyo and his multiplying army of Spinosaur fights Ryohei, Lambo, Tazaru and Nosaru. We get to see Lambo unleash his Lampo’s shield and Ryohei using Knuckles’ Maximum Break but Kikyo is still a cut above them. Then as Hibari makes his appearance, all seems lost when Kikyo quickly dispatches him from a surprise ground attack. Over to Zakuro and Bluebell’s side, they too seem to have defeated their opponents when it is all revealed to be an illusion from Mukuro and Flan.

The battle gets even more intense when Ghost arrives on the battlefield. Kikyo is worried that Byakuran has sent him out. Their attacks do not reach Ghost because, like his name suggests, he is a ghost! Surprisingly, he is supposed to be Byakuran’s other self from another parallel world! Now this explains why they almost look alike. To make things worse, Ghost is absorbing all their Flames and you can’t touch him or even his Flames because that will mean instant death. Too bad Zakuro and Bluebell got zapped. So now it’s up to Tsuna to make his appearance and save the day. As he swoops down from the sky, he too tries to absorb Ghost’s Flames and with his Zero Point Breakthrough, Ghost is absorbed. Wow! That was the fastest match ever! Not considering Hibari’s match with Gola Mosca, it’s amazing that Ghost made his short appearance and just poof! End of his existence. And I thought he was going to be here for a while.

With that over, now it’s Byakuran’s turn to enter the field. He looks bloody confident. He should be because Ghost was just a tool to absorb their Flames into him. Oh yeah, he is bursting with so much Flames that he is spouting wings like an angel. Worse, all the sky attribute holders are dragged into a ring barricaded by a powerful force field. It’s like their own private location to duke it out. Byakuran and Tsuna battle it out while Yuni tries to buy time to revive the dead Arcobalenos using her life force. She’s prepared to give her life but would the teary rest want that? No matter how many times Byakuran beats Tsuna up and even uses killer techniques, he gets back on his feet thanks to certain items that saved his life (Lancia’s ring) and his utmost determination. Yuni explains about the powers under the Trinisette policy like Mare ring holders allow users to retain power horizontally via parallel worlds (like the wave), the Vongola ring holders allow users to retain power vertically via succession (like the clam) and the Arcobalenos appearing in certain points in time (like the rainbow). Primo unleashes Tsuna’s true power and this causes all Vongola Guardians’ rings to change to its true form.

The other onlookers who have been trying to break the barrier manage to make a little crack. This was enough for Ganma to jump in and give Yuni some powers to complete the rite. Sadly, both disappear and lost their lives. So of course in the end, Byakuran loses to Byakuran’s X-Burner. As the Arcobaleno revive and the defeat of Byakuran, it feels like a fairytale ending because all the effects of the parallel worlds destroyed by Byakuran have been removed. Just like that? As Tsuna and friends return to the past, the Arcobalenos seal the Mare ring powers, give some of the characters who didn’t propel into the future (like Dino, Xanxus and his Varia) the memories of what happened in the future (WTF?! Is this kind of convenience even possible?!) and since the Vongola guardians have to leave their Box Weapons in the future, their animals are turned into rings when they return to the past. Everyone returns to their normal lives and is grateful for Yuni’s sacrifice.

End of Training
Uh huh. So it ends just like that? I felt the ending was a little bit rushed. The events that led up to the final battle felt too fast too. As we know, Tsuna has fought and gained so many comrades that the number of members in his ever expanding family seems to be a little too much. So much so we have lots of good guys fighting a handful of bad guys. What does this tell you about quality over quantity? So you can’t have 1 on 1 battles since everyone had to ‘share’ for a fight. Because of this, it also contributes to them being just spectators at the end and nothing much. Notice how almost every main and supporting character in the series watched in awe as Tsuna and Byakuran fight? Heck, we’ve even got Mukuro’s buddies of Kokuyou Gang like Chikusa, Ken and even MM (still remembered that flute playing babe – hey, what happened to that old dude? Dead?) witnessing the grand finale but they didn’t do anything much, right? And for the non-combatants like Kyoko, Haru, I-pin, Bianchi, Giannini and Fuuta, having mainly women and children watching a cruel bloody match doesn’t feel right and it felt like they were excess baggage tagging along. It was just like 1 big party reunion with everybody just looking on in the final bout.

Though it is good that the individual fights do not last very long, but it seems that the characters didn’t spend much time in using their special moves. For instance, the Vongola Guardians’ and their special Vongola Boxes. It’s like they used it once and for a short period of time and that’s it (except Tsuna). You’ll never see them using it again. Oh, after going through that inheritance, they used it for a short while and how do you see that as a turning point to beat Byakuran and his 6 Funeral Wreaths? Okay, so maybe those little Box Weapons do play their role and turn things in favour to the Vongola even if they’re being used for a short while. I was expecting Hibari or Mukuro to have some final fight be it with each other or the enemy but they’ve been reduced to spectators as well. Come on! I want to see Hibari bite somebody to death. And for Zakuro and Bluebell, nothing much spectacular of them after they used their Carnage Boxes and I felt it was more of a convenience to get rid of them. Why didn’t they just kill of Kikyo rather than being taken into custody by the Varia?

And since the series ended, there are several questions still boggling my mind. Who the heck is that Kawahira guy anyway? Even Reborn is suspicious about him and I thought he would play a part somewhere in the end and make a surprise. Guess the surprise is his no show, eh? What happened to Iemitsu and Nana in the future? I thought they went missing? Did the producers forget about them? What about Basil’s mysterious path that boomed him to the future? What happened to Byakuran and the rest of his White Spell men? Is Byakuran living a happy carefree life in some parallel world as we see in one of the closing scenes in the final episode? I’m not going to crack my head over such matters but some things in the future seem pretty intriguing like Ryohei and Hana dating. Well, at least the picture seemed like it.

As we all know that the main focus of the series is how Tsuna and his other friends bond and get along. They grow stronger with each passing time and learn to trust and rely with one another. Tsuna doesn’t have to rely on Reborn using his gun to unleash his Dying Will Flames anymore. I’m not sure if Tsuna’s hell training will end seeing that he has completed his mission. But leave it to Reborn to make his life tougher in anticipation of future threats. By the way, the manga is still ongoing with its Inheritance Arc right after the gang returns from the future. Ah well, more enemies to fight and my guess is that the gang will have to go through more training and this time perhaps the other previous Vongola Family heads would be their tutors. Hey, there was one with a fork, right? Unless they make another season, there won’t be any more of this series. I have to admit that Flan has to be one of my favourite characters because of his constant mocking and verbal attack in his monotonous voice. Especially on his Bel-senpai. Boy, the stuff he says. Everybody else remains the same character-wise. Lussuria still so gay, Squalo still loud mouth, Xanxus still cold, Yamamoto still a simpleton, Gokudera still hot tempered but loyal to Tsuna, Ryohei still extremely letting his fists do the talking and Lambo still the naughty oblivious selfish kid.

I caught a special episode soon after that but it’s just a one-off filler episode which sees Tsuna and his friends taking a trip around Japan to various famous but altered spots (why does Vongola have their mark on them everywhere?). Nothing much except if you want to watch for the hilarity and the usual ordeal Tsuna has to put up with. Before the anime series ended, there were a few episodes dedicated to that short side non-related story called Monster Tamer Tsuna. A continuation where it left off as we see weak Tsuna gathering weird friends to defeat evil Hibari. Sure with lots of fluke and obstacles, they manage to defeat the menace. If I remember clearly, I think Hibari wasn’t going to let it end like that so I was expecting some continuation in the future. Didn’t seem so.

Perhaps there were so many things that I would like to add and say but it’s either I have forgotten them or lost interest and deemed unimportant due to its long duration. The parallel world explanation was hard to swallow as I find it a little ridiculous to believe even if its’ just pure fiction for this series’ storyline. Whether or not Tsuna would become the next Vongola head (he has to. At least that’s what he is in the future, right?), I guess he is happy with the way things are now. He has got his family and his friends that he treasures very much. A little pain along the way won’t be that bad. Perhaps Reborn should consider training him to be a true gentleman. Mafia boss needs his charm, no?

Honey x Honey Drops

January 14, 2011

Oh what the heck. I thought I should just watch the 2 episode OVA of Honey x Honey Drops. You know those short shoujo romance drama series tend to attract me in a certain way. Not that I’m turning into a softie whatsoever but I guess I was curious to know what it was since ‘accidentally’ spotting this 2006 production over the web.

Episode 1
Hot guy, Kai Renge, force kisses cutie girl, Yuzuru Hagino. Result? She slaps him. Any girl would even if he’s such a good looking stud. That isn’t the end of it. While trying to clean herself, Kai barges into the shower and continues his harassment! But he isn’t the perverted kind of guy. From the way he says things, he’s doing it out of revenge and reminds her that he is her Master and she is his Honey as long as they’re students of Hojo High School. Same thing happened at school. Another force kiss at the basketball court. She tries to slap him but his hand was fast enough to grab hers. She tries to take off her ear piercing which signifies the Master-Honey relationship but to her dismay she can’t and as long as she has it on, she cannot disobey him. If she doesn’t, she will be expelled if she quits being a Honey. Even if Yuzuru tells him off, I’m getting this weird feeling that she’s going to fall for him because she starts blushing when he just made his cool slam dunk. WTF. Don’t tell me she’s that easy after all that resistance.

As narrated, the school has a private course within the academy called Kuge for the rich people. There are some other criteria to enrol in this system too but once successful, the students taking the Kuge course becomes Masters and take on an assistant called Honey. The Honey has his/her expenses and other stuff totally taken care of and in return the Honey must serve his/her Master to his/her every whim and fancies. Like a sick master-slave relationship if you ask me. Yuzuru tries to wake Kai up for art class and when the sleepy head wakes up, he agrees to go but on 1 condition: He wants to draw her naked! Sexual harassment! Yuzuru reluctantly gives in after thinking back how her family was elated to learn she became a Honey because all their troubles had been taken care of. As Yuzuru bites the bullet and starts unbuttoning her dress, Kai changes his mind and says he’d rather paint scenery than her naked body. Insult or compliment? Either way, Yuzuru is safe. On their way out, Yuzuru accidentally drops her paint tools. When Kai picks it up, she starts blushing. So he may not be a wicked bastard after all but what the hell? Flustering? Oh yeah, tells a lot about her…

At the basketball court, Kai tells Yuzuru that the Master and Honey will pair in a basketball tournament for a Drop Game. Meaning the team that finishes last will be fired. And Yuzuru’s not good at basketball, you know. But Kai isn’t worried as he does several cool dunking techniques (oh come on Yuzuru, still blushing after seeing those hot moves?). Kai mentions it would be troubling if his toy isn’t around. Now that is definitely an insult but you know Yuzuru’s head must be clouded with so much thoughts of him that she isn’t thinking straight. I think. On match day, the basketball court seems to be on a floating pad over the swimming pool. The other Master-Honey team seems to be targeting Yuzuru. Why not, she’s the weakest. Yuzuru is approached by a guy wearing a traditional yukata, Chihaya Yurioka. Claiming that he has no Honey, he advises her to drop out for her own good since Kai plays around with his Honeys before throwing them away. Yuzuru becomes disturbed by the thought that she may actually be Kai’s toy (you mean she thought it was a joke all along and never crossed her mind after all that tormenting and harassing?).

The match starts with Kai-Yuzuru taking on the cocky Nagi Uran’s team. Kai is doing awesome by himself (yeah, Yuzuru just standing there blushing and admiring him) so Nagi thinks they need an unconventional plan to beat him. That is, by throwing fake basketballs to Yuzuru. Those include an armadillo and a bomb! OMG! Hey, it’s a death match by the way. But I can’t believe Yuzuru to be so dumb to stand there holding the bomb (probably thinking what the heck it was. Hello? That ticking timer gave you a hint?) that Kai had to come to her rescue. Because of that, they lost the match. During the break, Kai tells her off for not concentrating before storming away to change. Chihaya approaches Yuzuru once more. He realizes Yuzuru can’t stop being a Honey due to monetary reasons so he wants her to become his Honey instead. Some guy overheard their conversation and reports to Kai but the latter doesn’t buy it.

The next match has Kai and Yuzuru facing off with the cocky Ibara pair. What a mismatched pair. One so big, the other so small. Anyway Yuzuru is spacing out so much that she’s just standing there like an idiot. Kai gets pissed off and forfeits the match because he isn’t going to play like this. Bummer. Kai then ‘wakes’ Yuzuru up by fondling her boobs right in public! Not to mention the heartbreaking “You’re a toy I bought with money” line. “Why is this such a shock?” says Yuzuru?! Excuse me, girl… One more game and Kai-Yuzuru team is finished. They face off with Torikabuto team but it seems Chihaya is taking his place. Whether the real guy went missing or not, like it or loathe it, Chihaya is his so called replacement. Chihaya whispers to Yuzuru that he’ll protect her so Kai tells her if she’s going to betray him, don’t hold back. So it becomes 3 on 1 with Yuzuru siding with Chihaya but still Kai manages to stay close behind. Then Yuzuru slips and her back is going to hit against the hard pillar when Kai uses his hand to shield her, injuring it in the process. So now Yuzuru’s mind is clouded on why Kai did that to save her even if he considered her as just a toy. With time running out and Kai trailing by a single point, Yuzuru decides to shoot for Kai’s sake but it bounces off. Luckily Kai finishes it with his slam dunk and wins the match. Kai and Yuzuru embrace as he tells her that she is his Honey and will never let her go.

Episode 2
Yuzuru is running late for school because she overslept while Kai arrives in his limo. Since all that running has made Yuzuru’s stomach, growl, Kai gives her some food to make her happy. Chihaya watches from afar and isn’t happy to what he is seeing. During the sports period, Yuzuru once again is running late because she forgot to bring her gym clothes. Chihaya tells her to skip the class rather than being humiliated when Kai comes in. He then forcefully takes her to the infirmary giving an excuse that he has a headache and wants her to take care of it. Chihaya warns him to be gentle with her or else. At the infirmary, seems Kai is unleashing another round of sexual harassment upon poor Yuzuru. This time she manages to break free and runs away. And she’s wondering why he’s harassing her like that? He’s a guy, duh! And well look at this. Yuzuru spots Kai sleeping on the bench and I guess his handsome face is too good to resist even if he’s a sadistic Master and tries to touch it. She accidentally touches his piercing and this abruptly wakes him up. He grabs her hands and chides her for trying to betray him again. Though this isn’t her intention, Kai storms off. Then at the cafeteria, both their hands touched when they try to get the glass of water. The glass rolls off the table and breaks. Yuzuru becomes very apologetic and promises never to touch him again but he just left.

At the rooftop, Yuzuru’s mind is heavy with all those thoughts when Chihaya comes by. They talk and it seems he’s trying to convince her that if he becomes her Master, he’ll treasure her more. Kai gets word from his pals, Nayuta and Genjo about Yuzuru’s possible whereabouts and goes looking for her. Chihaya knows Kai has just arrived so he suddenly gives her a kiss. You know what this means when the other guy is watching, right? Kai isn’t happy she is betraying him for this guy. We all know this isn’t what Yuzuru had in mind but Kai doesn’t believe her. Having had enough of this, he decides to end this by keying a code to release Yuzuru’s piercing. Next day, Yuzuru waits outside the Kuge Course’s gates in hopes of seeing Kai but sees Chihaya instead. He apologizes for his actions but has an idea to make her see him (students without the piercing cannot enter this section). Nayuta and Genjo confront Kai about releasing Yuzuru as his Honey. But Kai is surprised they heard it from the office that told them to tell Kai to hand back the piercing if he is dismissing a Honey. At the office, Kai sees the form when Yuzuru happily comes in to see him but to get another cold treatment from him. She has another piercing on her ear and it seems she belongs to Chihaya now. Chihaya says that once a Master dismisses a Honey, they can never go back to the same Master again. Oh, so now Yuzuru wants Kai back. Too late for that.

Kai isn’t going to let it end like that as there is a way to get his Honey back by enforcing an old Ribbon rule. However this involves having the majority of the Masters in his class to give up their piercing to invalid the contract. Since nobody would want to do so, Kai is going to do it by force. Meanwhile Yuzuru learns the cold harsh truth of Chihaya. He is no better and in fact worse than Kai. He plans to drop her out and has being planning this from the start. Oh, so now Yuzuru admits Kai is her true Master. Don’t appreciate it when you have it, want it when you lose it. Kai is there to stop Chihaya from doing more harm and wants Yuzuru to take off her piercing. However Chihaya challenges him to a game of tag. It’s simple. If Kai manages to catch him, he wins. But the time limit will be when the Ferris wheel carriage in which Yuzuru is in along with Nayuta and Genjo (as observers) makes a full cycle. It’s odd to see 2 guys playing tag at the amusement park. May give the wrong idea. But why this amusement park? Seems Chihaya’s family owns it so it’s like his home ground.

Kai is having a tough time trying to catch Chihaya. So I guess he was desperate enough to crash their go-kart. Yuzuru also gets desperate as she climbs out of her carriage and to the top. Well technically if she doesn’t reach the ground, the game is not over, right? Chihaya is stumped to see Kai still having the energy and will power to come after him (why is Kai climbing the roller coaster tracks?). Why is he going this far for her? His answer: He has found the right Honey for himself. Too bad clumsy Yuzuru slips off but luckily into the arms of her prince charming Kai. A little messed up, though. Seems Kai has got Chihaya’s piercing and he asserts he will never let her go again. Next day at the basketball court, they are given a new pair of piercings and both Master and Honey kiss. No force this time.

Horny x Money Talks
You know that weird Kuge Course system is of course still absolutely weird to me. It gives an impression that the rich can do whatever they want as long as they have the cash to splash. Well, we may not know if the school upholds any traditional values or whatsoever but my guess for having such a system was probably to spice up life for the students. The main focus here is the twisted and hot-cold relationship between Kai and Yuzuru. At first sight, Kai seemed like a cold hearted jerk toying around with the heart of a poor girl but even in these couple of episodes, he realizes her importance even if she’s a klutz. Maybe he was treating her coldly as a way to show his love? Being overprotective, you know what I mean? Yuzuru was annoying herself at the start because I thought she was going to hate him for his harassment but she quickly flustered soon after. But I really can’t blame her seeing she has her hands tied. I still don’t understand why Chihaya dislikes Yuzuru and I thought his presence would serve more for an intense love triangle. Then I found out Chihaya’s attitude was more of the other way round. He likes Kai and not Yuzuru. Is he gay?

It was a little disturbing seeing Kai sexually harassing and fondling Yuzuru. It might not be very graphic to consider this series a hentai one but at least his boldness will be enough to send shivers down first-timer’s spine. Not good if you’re the a feminist. Maybe it’s his way to keep Yuzuru in line and to tell her that she is his property. But you can’t entirely blame Yuzuru for not fighting back at times because she has her hands tied for her family and money woes concerned. But at the end of the day, both parties eventually realize they are the right ones for each other and hopefully their relationship will improve. If there is ever a continuation made, that is.

Since this was just a short OVA, I guess you can’t conclude anything more such as the storyline or the other characters. Too brief to say anything. Even the manga itself was brief, lasting only 8 volumes. Even if this OVA doesn’t amount to anything much, I’m sure those who love bishie people will at least take comfort that everyone here are drawn to be good looking, be it guys or girls. So even if there is such a system in the real world, I don’t think I’ll be able to stomach it. I mean, having a Honey doesn’t mean treating him/her like a toy. They are not toys but normal human beings with feelings. But if you’re talking about those anime maids, then that’s an entirely different case.

Honey x Honey Drops

Flame Of Recca

January 8, 2011

It really feels like anime has come a long way after watching Flame of Recca (Recca No Honoo). This 42 episode anime series based on the manga of the same name came out way back in mid 1997 so you can say that seems like a pretty long time ago. After watching quite a number of recent animes, going retro helps me ‘appreciate’ a little more about those early animes. Though this anime’s quality cannot be compared as of today’s standards, nevertheless it isn’t that all bad because you know, animes during that time are like that. Enough said.

So as the title suggests, we have our main protagonist kid, Recca Hanabishi, a high school teenager living with his widower dad and is crazy about stuff relating to ninjas. In fact, he claims himself to be one. Nope, he isn’t the cosplaying type and his skills are for real. I don’t think this was the show that started the Naruto craze. Upholding the principles of the way of the ninja, he saved a girl-cum-school mate, Yanagi Sakoshita from a fatal accident. Though he is badly injured, Yanagi’s uncanny healing powers healed his wounds. Since she resembles like someone he knows (not too sure who she was), Recca pledges his utmost loyalty to serve her and protect her with his life. That would be cool if she doesn’t mind people staring at them for being weird. Howzabout a guy calling you “Hime” (princess) every time? Embarrassing or annoying? Perhaps both? But since he is quite sincere and she’s the usual kind and gentle girl, you can tell they’ll get along.

Your typical shonen anime in the sense that our Recca boy gets into some plot, fights enemies, some of them becoming his allies, gains more power and fights even more powerful enemies. You get the idea. It all starts with an encounter with some mysterious woman, Kage Houshi. Recca learns he has some ability to control flames but of course he can’t control them at this stage but since he’s the kind of thick-headed guy, you know he’s going to get by one way or another. Kage Houshi pits some of Recca’s friends against him by giving them ancient Madougu (Elemental Tools) that allows its user to control elements or enhance their abilities. For instance, the big self proclaimed rival Domon Ishijima (always want to defeat Recca so he can be the strongest), the tomboyish Fuuko Kirisawa (wants to beat Recca so that he can be her ninja – must be jealous of Yanagi, eh?) and her Fuujin and Tokiya Mikagami and his water wielding Ensui (wants to fight Recca because he thinks he knows the murderers behind his elder sister’s murder. By the way, she resembled very closely to Yanagi). Of course Recca has to defeat them and they become his friends. With that done, Kage Houshi turns into their ally since she was just making them stronger. Well, can’t have it any other way to grow without taking on each other, right? More revelations include Kage Houshi’s real name is Kagerou, she is Recca’s real mom from 400 years ago, Recca is part of the famous Hokage ninja clan and that during the war back then to eliminate the entire Hokage clan, Kagerou used a forbidden technique to send Recca into the future and because of that, she turned into an immortal. Hard to believe, eh? Very. So she’s been going around 400 years looking for her son?

So the real antagonist soon appears and he is Kurei. Guess what? He is Recca’s older step brother. Oh yeah. This is getting weirder by the minute. Kurei harbours a very deep grudge and hatred towards Recca. During the flashback episode, you’ll see how Kurei and Recca though had different mothers, shared the same father. Based on a traditional rule, only 1 of the sons of the Hokage can inherit being the Flame Master. It would be Kurei’s right if not for Recca. But how can 2 Flame Masters exist? It can. Considering if the first one isn’t fit to be one. And sure Kurei and her mom got ostracized and when the war came, Kurei tried to kill Recca. When Recca was transported to the future, Kurei too came jumping into the portal. So now in present time, Kurei has become the adoptive son of Kouran Mori, a filthy rich old maniac who possessed just about everything in this world except 1 thing. That is, immortality. And he’s bloody obsessed with it. So when he learns that Yanagi’s healing powers may be the key to unlock it, he sends his men to kidnap her.

Thus begins the journey of Recca, Domon and Fuuko (later to be joined by Mikagami) to go on a rescue mission. At Kurei’s mansion, they meet Kurei’s supposedly strong bodyguards. They are Reiran Katahishiro (a doll master but defeated by Fuuko and the real puppeteer, Ganko becomes their friend for the rest of the series), Sekioh (some strong stone dude but I guess his awesomeness and thirst to kill got cut short since Domon powered up and beat him), Kaoru Koganei (a master of the 5-form Kougan Anki – fought with Mikagami and lost) and Mokuren Nagai (a sadistic female killer and plant user – got burnt to hell when pissed Recca grills him for playing recorded screams of Yanagi). So it’s face off with Kurei but even if the gang teams up against him, they are no match for him and his cold flame in the form of an angel, Kurenai. Recca manages to summon his 8 Flame Dragons after taking off his restrictive hand barrier. But the dragons aren’t the cooperative type and selfish. But seeing how hard he is trying and his ideals and justice are commendable, they agree to help him just this once.

Before anything else could happen, Kurei’s strongest warriors of the Uruha Juushinshuu appear. The fight ends and Kurei lets the gang go and even gives back Yanagi. Koganei can’t follow Kurei anymore because he broke his promised not to hurt Yanagi during those vicious experiments. Though Kurei lets him live, he plans to kill him later in the most painful way. Ah well. This isn’t the end, though. So with more training and flashbacks, our heroes have no choice but to enter a deadly anything-goes tournament, Ura Butou Satsujin. Kurei’s men are also taking part in this team event and the losers will have to lose their wager. In the case of Recca and his Team Hokage, Yanagi. It was pretty odd to hear Yanagi not wanting them to enter in fearing for their lives but Recca was so stubborn in doing so. So when Yanagi offered herself as the wager, it’s Recca’s turn to protest no way and Yanagi sticking to it. Well, all they have to do is keep winning, right? Why the heck Ganko needs to summon a small fox doll, Kondo for? Comic relief and sarcastic comments, I guess.

First Round: Team Hokage VS Team Kuu
Round 1: Mikagami vs Daikoku – Mikagami gives Hokage the first point after beating Daikoku’s bo ala stopping an… electric fan?
Round 2: Domon vs Minamio – Minamio’s rubber-like body gave Domon problems and though Domon was able to best him, he collapsed so this bout is considered a draw.
Round 3: Fuuko vs Fujimaru – The perverted latter seems to enjoy tormenting and killing his victims and will do anything to win. Even if he tried to fake and plead for leniency, Fuuko won’t fall for his stupid lies anymore and beats him up to take the win.
Round 4: Recca vs Saichou – Flame versus paper. On theory it seems fire will burn paper, right? But Saichou puts up a formidable fight with his mastery control of paper before losing out to Recca since he passed his 10 minute limit.
Round 5: Recca vs Kuukai – Why do we need another round when Team Hokage won with 3 wins and a draw? Because stupid Recca thinks Kuukai did not have a chance to show his skills even though he accepted defeat and was ready to withdraw. WTF?! With Kouran turning this event into winner-takes-all, the other Hokage members aren’t happy their wins have been invalidated. Kuukai is going to make Recca regret his actions and though Kuukai turned into a monster-cum-killing machine after taking 3 hits from Recca, Recca’s strong will to stand up after each pounding not only has him win but let Kuukai live (he wanted to die with honour by Recca’s hands). So phew! Team Hokage advances!

Second Round: Team Hokage vs Uruha Maboroshii
Yeah, it’s the first of Kurei’s men that Team Hokage is going to face. Kurei’s plan was to lure Hokage’s final team member to appear: Koganei. And he is successful in doing so after temporarily trapping Fuuko and Domon when their round is to start. This round will be an elimination match. Meaning, the winners will continue to fight their next opponent till they’re defeated and no one left on their team.
Koganei vs Shiju – Even an experimental beast can’t keep Koganei away from his first debut and win.
Koganei vs Mokuren – Yup, that plant guy is back and has been modified. However he tricks Koganei into not fighting each other and attacks when the kid let his guard down.
Mikagami vs Mokuren – Trying to save Koganei trapped inside Mokuren who is now a tree, Mikagami uses his Ensui powers to freeze the water and ground to cut down Mokuren for good.
Recca vs Menou Sakura – Due to the heavy injuries sustained, Mikagami pulls out and leaves the next one to Recca. Maybe he just doesn’t want to fight girls, eh? Recca is up against a girl who is able to control her hair like whiplash. Then when it is revealed that Menou has her dad hostage and a time limit to defeat Recca before her dad suffocates and dies, she goes all out but in the end she realizes what is important and teams up with Recca to destroy the barrier that is holding her dad hostage and save him. Recca wins.
Recca vs Genjurou – The old geezer may not need any Madougu and he’s a tough one for Recca to handle. Using his psychic surgery to try and pull out one of Recca’s dragons, he is successful but cannot control it and got burnt by its flames. Team Hokage wins and another Uruha member, Neon, kills Genjurou since he did say he is entering this tournament to kill Kurei. Hey, leave that to Recca.

Third Round: Team Hokage VS Team Uruha Oto
Round 1: Domon vs Aki – Too bad if Domon thinks his strength will be enough to bring down this babe because the words she says will become a reality. Though it took Domon long enough to realize what’s happening (after all that pain) before defeating her.
Round 2: Recca-Mikagami vs Neon-Miki – A tag team match to decide the winner of this round. Because Recca and Mikagami can’t get along, they cannot cooperate and this enabled Neon and Miki to perform their ultimate combo. Domon realized he was the cause of their fighting and smacked some senses into them. Because he interrupted the fight, his earlier win becomes invalid. Bummer. And if the powerful duo of Team Hokage cooperates, you can be sure your days are numbered. Victory for Hokage and they advance.

Quarter-finals: Team Hokage VS Team Circus
Team what? Too bad we won’t be seeing who this team is because they’ve withdrawn themselves from the tournament. A lucky and free walkover for the gang. Save energy, save time. Hmm… Maybe they’re running out of episodes and don’t want to bore viewers with more or less the same thing.

Semi-finals: Team Hokage VS Team Uruha Ma
Another elimination type match.
Round 1: Koganei vs Tsukshirou – Little kid against pretty bishonen who can turn invisible with his cape. He got too cocky and lost because his cape got Koganei’s bloodstain all over which allows his position to be revealed. Note: I admire Tsukishirou knowing about H.G. Wells’ book about some invisible man wrapping himself up with bandages to be visible. But to me at that point, nobody would seriously think about that book even if it meant to be a hint for his opponent.
Round 2: Recca vs Kashamaru – Ninja versus ninja. Kashamaru is able to copy Recca’s flame and use it against him but ultimately one of Recca’s dragons agree to help him defeat Kashamaru via some illusion technique.
Round 3: Fuuko vs Gashakura – In a match that both combatants enjoy since they can show their true powers and skills, both sides take heavy damage and even a short temporary interference from Kouran making the ring filled with laser beams, Fuuko powers up her Fuujin and defeats Gashakura.
Round 4: Domon vs Magensha – Magensha not only sent failures Tsukishirou and Kashamaru to his evil realm, but Fuuko as well. Pissed Domon isn’t happy that his love has well, vanished. So he’s really punching like hell but it seems his fists do not connect. Kouran decides to put his plan in motion so Magensha ‘transfers’ his own body to let Domon fight a dummy while he tries to kidnap Yanagi who is tending to Koganei’s wounds at the infirmary. Of course luckily Recca found out and fights the menace along with Saichou and Koganei. Magensha warps back to the bout and continues to beat up Domon. But he isn’t giving up yet. In the evil realm, Fuuko, Tsukishirou and Kashamaru manage to find Magensha’s real whereabouts and defeat him (his real body is in this realm, the reason why their attacks cannot touch him) and return to the real world. Magensha got desperate but ultimate that became his downfall as Domon wins it for the team to advance to the final. Over to the other semi-final which is to be Kurei against his loyal 1-man team Raiha, Raiha withdraws his participation since he can never bring himself to fight his boss. Another walkover, eh?

Final Round: Team Hokage VS Uruha Kurenai
It’s finally here. The underdogs have beaten all odds to reach this far and Recca will have his chance to face off and settle things with Kurei once and for all.
Round 1: Domon vs Noroi – Domon is getting his win to his head so he’s real in for a surprise that he’s fighting an undead zombie who wants his body minus his head. Noroi tries to manipulate Domon’s mind by discarding his memories and making him a ‘vegetable’. But after remembering his silly pride to beat Recca, he gets his strength to finish Noroi off for good.
Round 2: Mikagami vs Kai – Supposed to be Fuuko’s match but after learning that Kai was the one who killed his sister, he jumps in. Both Hyouma En users fight each other and it is revealed that Kai is just playing the part of the bad guy and the real killer of Mikagami’s sister turns out to be their dead master (something about wanting to make him stronger or something like that). Mikagami lost this bloody match and though Kai acknowledges Mikagami the real winner kills and himself by dropping down the pit seeing that he has suffered greatly from his wounds.
Round 3: Fuuko vs Mikoto – That weird looking human doll hides a cunning ninja babe. She uses poison needles to greatly affect Fuuko. But I guess she was bragging and careless too that she herself got scratched by her own needles courtesy of Fuuko. Being the coward she is, she has the antidote with her, only to be snatched by Fuuko. Mikoto still plays dirty so much so Domon has to come to Fuuko’s rescue. Desperate Mikoto plunges to her death while trying to get the antidote. Because of Domon’s interference, Fuuko is considered to have lost her match.
Round 4: Koganei vs Joker – Like his name suggests, he isn’t going to waste his energy on this futile match and wants to see Kurei in action and forfeits this one! WTF?! A big joke, man!

Round 5: Recca vs Kurei – The much awaited grudge match between the brothers. Gives a new meaning to fight fire with fire. Oh yeah, more pounding more bashing and more flame manoeuvres as we see both side trading hits and blows. It even turned into a fist fight seeing that both their flames can’t hurt each other anymore. Recca manages to call forth 7 of his dragons and even combine them. Just then his 8th dragon finally appears and is contemplating to follow whoever wins this bout and consider him their true Flame Master. Kouran interrupts the match since he has grown tired of Kurei’s incompetence. He is going to take things into his own hands and though Kurei doesn’t give a sh*t about Kouran’s wishes anymore, cut ties with him and wishes to just settle this match with Recca. However Kouran unleashes a clone of Kurei to destroy everything. But the clone can’t control his flames and goes spiralling out of control. Recca and Kurei team up to beat the clone and the dragons use the barrier use their shield the spectators. I’m not sure if Kurei manages to kill Kouran since that old guy tried to escape and even ram Kurei down but was met with a fiery explosion. And since Recca is the only one left in the near-annihilated ring, Team Hokage is declared the winner! Yahoo! I expected that, by the way.

End of Round
Though there are some questions left unanswered at the end such as a way to cure Kagerou from her curse, but at least it ended well like I expected these kind of shonen animes to. What about the intention of collecting Madougu from losing participants? That didn’t seem to materialize. Not even when Kuukai’s Team lost and gave their Madougu to Hokage Team. I thought they would use them and power up but to me, it seemed forgotten. Though the manga continued after that but since it has been a long time, I guess there weren’t any plans to continue the anime after all. That’s because there are several differences between the anime and manga such as some characters getting killed off and the likes so if the anime was to continue off from there, it would be difficult.

One thing good about this series is that each fight doesn’t last very long, on average at least an episode a fight. Hey, it’s better than going on for episodes and episodes so much so you don’t know if it is really going to end. In a way, viewers can enjoy the many fights seeing that around 3/4 of the show is focused on the tournament. But the drawback of having such fights and too many characters is that, some potential opponents didn’t have their chance to strut their stuff. For example, that Uruha Juushinshuu guy, Jisho. He looked like one of Kurei’s loyal warriors and I was guessing he would be a formidable to Team Hokage but he got killed during his bout with Magensha. And then for that Raiha guy, though he did meet Fuuko and told her they are destined to fight each other one day and though not in this tournament, I felt that it was a waste and his appearance a little redundant. Don’t even mention that Joker guy. He appeared so late and I don’t remember him from anywhere previously so I thought Koganei is going to proof he isn’t just a kid and show us how he beat that pierrot but nope. He withdraws.

Action wise, the fights aren’t too bad either with each of the unique Madougu adding a little more spice to the fights. Though there are several side stories like why some of the Uruha members follow Kurei and even Kurei’s twisted past of how he was forced to cast away his emotions because Kouran killed his girlfriend and he made her dead corpse into her flame. Kurei wasn’t such a baddie as compared to his adopted dad. Just that he needs to have anger management. Lots of it. Though I won’t say that he and Recca would be going on good terms any time soon. And notice how when someone pulls of a seemingly familiar move, it’s like Kagerou somehow knows what it is and what it’ll do. Yeah, miss-know-it-all. I guess it’s better this way to explain stuff to viewers. And the crowd? I think they’re quite pessimistic. When most of them see Recca and co in a precarious position and all hopes seems lost, they jump to conclusions that it is over. Don’t you know? Expect the unexpected! The impossible is possible for these guys! Need to see more shonen animes lah.

Romance wise, what romance? This is a shonen type anime, isn’t it? Domon and Fuuko’s chemistry is nothing deep and didn’t amount to anything much. I’m sure Recca’s love for his hime is just being a loyal ninja and we don’t see any romantic feelings between him and Yanagi, vice versa. Though perhaps a little corner in her heart that she likes Recca because there was a moment whereby an Ura Butou Satsujin referee who became a fan of Recca, kissed him as a reward! In Yanagi’s jealousy, she stomped his feet! But who wants to see romance get in the way of action as far as this anime is concerned.

There were other several odd things as well. For instance when Recca summons his dragons, he has to write their kanji names in the air. His fast and furious air writing made it seem like as though he is just doing a quick scribbling! I don’t know, it seemed a little funny. Then there are some of the character designs that looked pretty funny themselves. Like Domon’s messy Mohawk hairstyle, if that is what it is. I may not be watching the series on a good system, so it’s probably premature for me to say that the drawing at times may be inconsistent and drop in quality. Sometimes the characters do look a little odd from a certain angle. But then again, this is an old anime.

So it was good that I got to see and finish this series. That is 1 more anime to add to my list, done. Honestly if I were to choose between Recca and Naruto, I would pick the former. I don’t know, ever since watching only the first season, I have never gone to like that series. So whatever Recca does seem to be better from my point of view well simply, it’s an old anime so it’s forgivable. Thus the lesson learnt from this old school anime is friendship and teamwork. When protecting someone you love, do it with all one’s heart and not half heartedly. And even if you can’t do it yourself, you have your buddies to back you up. I’m sure if Recca could master and control all his dragons, they will assist him in more than 1 ways rather than just in combat. Cooking perhaps? Haha, just kidding. I’m glad I don’t have Flame Dragons residing inside me. I think I would have burnt down the whole town myself.

Flame of Recca

Burn Up W & Burn Up Excess

January 7, 2011

This isn’t a diet blog by the way though it may ambiguously sound like it. Instead, this is another one of those retro animes that somehow caught my attention. Why not? Sexy babes in tight outfits as elite crime fighters. Sounds cliche these days but bear in mind, Burn Up W was released way back in 1996 and based on the 1991 movie called Burn Up. That’s even a longer period though the movie and this 4 episode OVA do not share any connection or continuity.

Set in the near futuristic Neo Tokyo, team Warrior is a bunch of elite police personnel led by the mysterious Maki Kawasaki as their commander. Their job is to take on any criminal act that the ordinary police can’t. Of course they’ll be rewarded with their fair share once the mission is successfully completed. If you think that all of them are strict and no nonsense, then think again because their quirky personalities is what makes the team colourful. Firstly we have close combat specialist Rio Kinezono who is always having money problems and in the poverty. You can says she’s in for the money. She spends her money like water and it’s a wonder how she can survive the next 30 days. Then there’s the gun specialist and sniper Maya Jinguu. In short, she’s a trigger happy person. Dangerous. Next, a pink haired computer specialist Lilica Evette and the tech expert responsible for many devices Nanvel Candlestick. The only guy in the team, Yuji Naruo specializes in piloting crafts but his obvious trait is his voyeurism in which he will not hesitate to peep or record any girls to satisfy his sick fantasy. How can this loser be part of such an elite team?

OVA 1
The episode opens with a bang. Terrorists have taken over Hotel Kingdom and are holding VIPs of the International Peace Forum as hostage. Rio of the Homicide department isn’t happy because she’s stuck in office to do paper work with Special Riot department colleague Yuji Naruo. The terrorists identify themselves as The Falcon Claw and want their demands met within an hour. The demands themselves seem questionable. Wanting a baseball manager to prostrate himself, rename some game and an idol Yumi to bungee naked. Lilica broadcasts this to Rio and Yuji to see what’s happening at the scene. Maki has received orders from her Chief to dispatch Warriors. Rio does a fake seduction to let her supervisor let her take 1/2 day off (that burning desire was to go to toilet and not sex). Yuji, Rio and Lilica meet Maki as they analyze the terrorists are more of thrill seekers. Aside accepting their demands, they can’t confirm if they have ulterior motives nor the conditions of the hostages. Meanwhile the real terrorist head makes the VIPs put on virtual goggles. She tells them they’ve just experienced virtual drugs and wish to sell this system to them. She wishes them not to reveal this to the public yet and their ‘salesmen’ will contact them later and leaves. Time’s up and the thrill seekers are excited to see their demands granted. However it isn’t up to their expectations. Till the final one: Yumi’s bungee jump from a helicopter piloted by Yuji. It’s actually Rio pretending to be her and jumping naked. The terrorists and policemen below are having a nice view! But! She’s just wearing an invisible suit. Realizing they’ve been had, Rio confirms there are no hostages and sends the signal to Maya who has been waiting at the same position and relishing to fire her gun. They easily apprehend the fakes as the police secure the hotel while the real ones escape. Maya isn’t happy because she wants to shoot more! Maki has her suspicions on how everything ended so easily since they seemed to storm the hotel like pros. When Rio finds out Yuji has video taped her naked bungee jump, she gets upset and nearly causes the helicopter to go out of control.

OVA 2
As Warrior get their pay from their last mission, Rio isn’t happy since it isn’t enough to cover her expenses. They learn about a virtual idol Maria who has gone missing and the case reported to the police. Yuji is passionate to save Maria (because he plays that virtual game) but the rests ignore him. The terrorist head is meeting a drug syndicate on her virtual drug. Since they don’t agree to her terms, they pull out their guns. The head calls forth a female attack android, Axia and slices them all to their bloody deaths. She then gets a call from her professor that Maria has escaped. Seems she was transferred to a physical body but didn’t like it and wanted to go out to the real world fast. She wants Maria captured since her data is essential in developing the virtual drug. Rio is transferred to handle Maria’s case and soon gets a random call to secure Maria’s release. Actually it’s Maria who is faking her own kidnapping. Maki meets Nanvel to show her scenes of that bloodbath and thinks an attack android was used. Nanvel shows her gigantic attack android, El-Heggunte but due to limited funds, control programme of it was delayed. Rio meets Maria with the ransom money. They argue when Axia turns up and attacks them. Rio fights back but is no match. Then her Warrior colleagues show up. They learn the other android is Maria since she’s pleading for help. Then Nanvel arrives with Heggunte but it goes out of control and crumbles, wrecking the bridge, taking out Maria and Axia with it. Maki talks to Chief about the damage done and budget thingy. Rio gets reprimanded by her supervisor due to all the claims files. She seduces her way out by asking his opinion what price would he buy her panties. Seems she’ll sell it online instead. As Nanvel repairs Heggunte, seems Maria’s data has been temporarily transferred into that mecha. Nothing she can do about it.

OVA 3
Rio tries to sell her panties under a fake ID at a shady store but the owner has his reservations. Yuji seems to be a frequent customer as he steps in, both colleagues are shocked to see each other. Before her real identity is busted, Rio escapes with him. Outside, Yuji wants her to sell her panties to him instead! Her debt collectors soon approach. She leaves him to deal with them while she flees. Is he really going to die for her?! Looks like it. Rio goes back and gets another lecture about managing her finance from her roommate-cum-colleague of the police’s accounts department, Chisato. The terrorist head is upset her virtual drug plan is nearly given away. She wants Cerebus to open the gates of Tartarus. Warrior analyzes the drug goggle the police team got from a computer smuggling operation a few days ago. At the police HQ, Policetown, Chisato’s supervisor Asahara goes up to her and shoots her point blank! Then he goes on a crazy shooting spree, killing some of his colleagues. By the time the alert is sound and the policemen pin him down, Asahara vomits blood. Rio rushes over and is devastated to see Chisato dead. She becomes depressed and upset. Next day, Maki reveals that the autopsy reveals that there’s some drug in Asahara’s brain. It makes him high and seems to be brainwashed and mind controlled. Suddenly a van crashes into Policetown amidst tight security. A couple of punks slaughter everyone! Warrior sees this from their private monitor. Make notes the security and alarm system didn’t go off and thinks it’s an inside job. Maki presents 2 options: Stand and fight or retreat and regain their ground. Angry Rio won’t run away and is going to fight them with all she has.

OVA 4
They’re going to fight back as Maki gives them specific duties (Yuji relegated to praying for them). Nanvel gives Maya a special shotgun while Rio a special power suit. Maya’s happy because she can shoot to her heart’s content even if the damage comes out from her pay. Rio is going to defy Maki’s orders not to kill to avenge Chisato but eventually cools her head and obeys her. Maya takes on the big and strong chaingun totting Wolfhead while Maya duels the agile knife wielding psycho Jackalhead. Doberhead controls those from the shadows while the terrorist head watches in her secret place. Maki gets a call from her Chief to pull withdraw as he isn’t happy with the unauthorized use of Warriors. She refuses and tells him to come to the battlefield to see for himself their bloodied and dead comrades. Maya and Rio have a hard time fighting their adversaries. Maya manages to beat Wolfhead after pumping several shotgun shots into him. Rio is able to knock out Jackalhead but worried Yuji comes rushing in to look for her and got held hostage. Jackalhead wants her to strop or else. She obidiently does so but after thinking about Chisato’s words, she stops (plus, chicken Yuji says not to worry for him) and swiftly picks up her power suit to beat him unconscious. Rio thanks Yuji and kisses him. Rio and Maya confront Doberhead. Rio is going to kill him but he knows she can’t and mocks her. Though she pulls the trigger, her gun was empty so she subsequently knocks him out. Then they hear a voice from his ring (the terrorist head) saying that they won’t spill any details. She further adds this is just the beginning and prays on their behalf. The ring then malfunctions. In the aftermath, the incident was reported as an explosive accident and the real truth kept hidden including Chisato’s death. Rio and Yuji visit her grave.

Burn Up Excess

Perhaps the series was famous enough to warrant its own TV series at the end of 1997 with 13 episodes. Entitled Burn Up Excess, it is a direct continuation from the events of the OVA.

Episode 1
It starts off with another bang. The new communications tower of Neo Tokyo is having a grand opening and Governor Tateyama is to grace the event. Suddenly swarms of robot insects hover over the place and the Dawn Mirage terrorists storms in and takes everyone hostage. Doesn’t this seem familiar? Deja vu? They want their demands to be met: Release all their jailed comrades, get them 1 billion Yen and a big helicopter with fuel for their escape. At least this one sounds more terrorist-like. Maki persuades her Chief to take drastic measure or his reputation will be at stake. She calls forth her Warriors. They analyze a terrorist’s mug and find him to be a petty criminal so it doesn’t add up. They also catch a drone and analyze its weakness before making a plan to disarm it. That is, using some pulse wave. However they’ve to be careful since Tateyama just had a mechanical heart implant surgery. Rio doesn’t care till Maki smoothly tells her she may get to marry his rich son if she saves him. Lilica broadcasts to the terrorists all their demands are met with more goodies thrown in, making them happy. That distraction signals Maya to shoot a bullet with pulse wave to disengage all the drones. Rio crashes in and easily takes out all the amateurs while Nanvel rushes in to save Tateyama via debrifillators. When Rio learns Tateyama has a daughter instead, she changes her mind to save him! Say goodbye to her dream rich life. “Let him die! He’s going to raise sales tax anyway!”. Heartless! After Warriors leave, the rounded up terrorists’ suits start electrocuting and killing them all. One of the terrorists assimilating as the hostage, Ruby, has successfully planted a drone in the tower. This allows her to activate some Scrambler Code as she reports to her boss, Harry. Warrior celebrates at a ramen store when the store owners’ kids bring in a couple of drones found at the site. It explodes and damages the store. Rio is upset because she hasn’t paid off her new clothes. Forever poor and miserable.

Episode 2
There’s been cases of jewellery heists whereby a fake fire is made causing panic. The robbers barge in disguised as fireman to scoop the jewellery before fleeing. Rio reluctantly accepts a case from Maki to catch an underwear thief. She sets the traps (how many undies has she got?!) and though attracted lots of people, eventually catches the culprit. Turns out to be a ronin student doing so to release his exam stress. She interrogates him and the amount of panties and other illegal stuff he’s got enough to fill a hall! Yuji comes by and you can tell he and Ronin clicked. He spots a photo with a pair of nice legs. Seems Yuji recognizes it of the one taken from the security cameras from the jewellery hesit (he can identify beautiful legs?!). They even match it with the police database file! Amazing! Rio gets them both to help her out secretly. She promises to give Yuji a ‘Royal Maisonette Suite with cafe au lait at daybreak’ and Ronin her bra. Yuji is fantasizing too much that eventually the other Warriors force him to spill the beans. Ronin takes Rio to an transvestite bar under pretense to work here (Ronin likes legs of okamas?! So those sexy legs in the picture are…). The okama boss, Chimama takes a liking for Rio while the other Warriors spy from afar. Ronin spots those familiar legs in the heist photo, Mama, and tells Rio he’s the one. She follows him to the toilet and via a secret passageway, sees the exchange of jewellery with Ruby. It’s ludicrous to see Ruby flying her jet plane underneath the sewers. How can it fit?! Chimama is actually part of the crook and has Ronin and Rio tied up. After the successful exchange, Ruby leaves and allows Chimama to rid the nuisances. Chimama and her okama group are watching in excitement to drop Rio and Ronin onto a spinning cutter. Ronin is happy to die in Rio’s bossoms but she’s not too happy about it. Warrior barges in to save and free them. Rio knocks out Chimama by kicking his crotch. In the aftermath, Rio has been given heaps of bills as cost for saving her. As for Yuji’s promised reward, Rio gives him a canned coffee with a daybreak pic on it. Haha.

Episode 3
Rio dreams of being crucified by debt collectors till her prince charming saves her. Unfortunately, no happy ending because he makes her sign a loan contract! Chief informs the arrival of an oil kingdom’s oil company vice president Hassan (looks like that prince charming) and his secretary Abisham. They’ve received threats he’ll be attacked and thinks it’s from a rival company. To prevent events that’ll lead to a civil war, Maki and her Warriors are assigned to guard him. Rio is happy she can marry a rich oil king but it seems Hassan isn’t interested in company matters and flirts with them! That night while on duty, a jet fighter fires into the floor Hassan is on! (Just like True Lies!). Luckily it was just a mannequin since Hassan sneaked out earlier on and Rio caught him. Now they’re out in the streets and Hassan wants Rio to take her around. Oh yeah, he forgot to bring his wallet. Rio getting poorer. Since she forgot her transmitter, Warriors can’t trace her. But Maki’s deduction and calculations has her analyze her whereabouts and possible next destination. However the baddies got to them first. They are tied up in a tanker. Abisham isn’t happy with the guarding but has to leave for business matters. Maki notices some frequency transmittor thingy in his passport and using that info, she’s able to trace Hassan. Abisham is the real culprit as he meets Hassan and Rio. He plans to take over the company and kill them by blowing up the tanker along with the unsuspecting crew as sacrifice. So flashy? Wouldn’t a bullet suffice? Abisham leaves on his helicopter and contacts Ruby. She doesn’t agree to his petty share and her intention is to create more weapons from the prolonged civil war. She blows up the helicopter, killing him. Innovative Rio improvises to free them, warns the crew, moves the tanker a distance and manages to get off before it blows!!! Just wow. Ruby isn’t happy that report of Hassan still lives. In the aftermath, Hassan thanks Rio and has learnt his lesson and decides to succeed his company and be more responsible. He gives Rio 500 acres of his land as reward but she declines thinking it’s a desert in the middle of nowhere. Till after he left, she is told that it is a rich abundant oil field. Stop that plane!

Episode 4
Maya receives a telegram to return to Osaka to see he dad in critical condition. She remembers her dad kicked her out of the house because she wanted to be a policewoman. She learns about the real estate speculators and that Gondo Construction is trying to make people leave their property. Maya returns home and is greeted by her other members. Seems her dad is well, considering the fake coughing and trying to see or touch her boobs. Just like how everyone else, man or woman who tries to have a feel of her big city. Slap! Gondo Construction crashes into their home and the motley group (love snapping their fingers?) introduce themselves. Turning wasteful land into efficient ones? They’re trying to persuade them to sell their land. Maya vows to protect their home as the local police are on the take. They stumble upon a smuggled weapons auction on their website. Some crummy password they have. That night they easily enter the giant blimp. The auction starts (Ruby the organizer) and Gondo makes the highest bids. Maya and her family goons plan to sneak around but are so pathetic you even wonder why nobody notices them. Maya and her dad are being made by Ruby to go onstage to perform during the intermission and it’s pathetic! Duet singing? Lame tongue twister? Boobs fondling? Gondo boss recognizes them and says that the daughter is a cop. This has them use smoke screen to escape and rendezvous with the rest who brought in weapons (they stumbled into a secret room filled with it). They decide to bring the blimp down. Maya goes insanely trigger happy while Ruby has left on her plane and leaves things to the blimp’s captain. The blimp crashes into the sea, Gondo boss and the captain arrested for smuggled weapons were found and crazy Maya has her mug on the front page of the news. Maya’s members bid her farewell as she returns to Tokyo and her dad sends her off with a ‘V’ sign.

Episode 5
Yuji and Rio investigate a stalking incident for idol Anna Kitagawa in episode 5. Seems the obsessed stalker threatened to kill her as he believed she should only sing exclusively for him. Rio tries to cheer her up since she’s stressed but Anna still acts b*tchy. While Anna’s manager tries to quell the reporters, Anna bumps into Ruby. Seems they both dropped their pen and retrieved the wrong ones. Ruby realizes the wrong pen and goes to search in Anna’s apartment but couldn’t find it. To Rio’s dismay, Anna requests Rio to be her bodyguard. She ends up following and doing errands for her. Yuji wants an autograph from Anna so she obliges. He takes it back to Lilica to scan another copy seeing Rio has found out the monetary value of an idol’s autograph. However they see shady footages of some Super Stealth Missile deal priced at 60 million Yen. At the park, the stalker confronts Anna. Rio comes to her aid when she screams but he escapes as fearful Anna clings on to Rio. Maki and Chief view the footage and he authorizes Maki to use Warriors to handle this to keep their reputation intact. Rio takes Anna out for a drink and gets drunk so she turns off her handphone. Anna feels her idol life is fake by singing fake songs. Rio encourages her to sing what she wants. On the way back, they meet Yuji and Maya on stakeout duty but Ruby attacks them. Warriors take her on but she’s too skilled as Anna’s apartment caretaker brings her in to safety. Rio and Ruby trade blows but in the end, Ruby escapes with the pen. The stalker’s real identity is that caretaker as he corners Anna. But she doesn’t have to wait till Warriors finish their fight and rescue her because she knocks him out by throwing a can. Next day Rio is disheartened there will be no rewards because Ruby escape, they lost the pen and the stalker is well, just a stalker. Anna soon becomes an enka singer. Some guy approaches Rio and she accepts his idol deal to be rich. Turns out she has to be a strip idol! No way Jose!

Episode 6
Rio reluctantly takes 3 petty jobs from Maki to earn extra but little rewards. Maki remembers how she first met Rio when she singlehandedly subdued a robber at a convenience store Rio worked part time. She dropped her ID as Maki picked it up. Rio returned to Policetown and chats with her colleagues and ex-Police Academy roommate, Miyuki. That’s when she first met Yuji, Miyuki’s senpai and he’s filming Rio’s beautiful legs. Maki analyzed Rio and you wonder how she graduated since she scored almost everyting ‘D’. But she noticed something unique about her. Rio is on her way back doing errands for the cops when she is attacked by a sniper. Rio is quick to face off with her but the sniper eventually escapes. Turns out to be Maya as she reports to Maki that Rio has passed the test. Maki eventually calls Rio to her office and offers her to work part time with higher pay rewards under the secret elite team called Warriors. Rio turns her down citing she isn’t a team team player. Word has it that a group of bank robbers has taken a female police officer hostage. She’s Miyuki (her b*tch partner ditched her!) and was cuaght in the middle while issuing a parking ticket to a vehicle (the robber’s). Maki is authorized to use Warriors to bring the menace down. Rio can’t sit still so she rescues Miyuki herself by ‘borrowing’ a sports car and rams it into the building. Maki decides to improvise her plan to back Rio up. With team work and cooperation, they defeat the baddies and rescue Miyuki. Later as Maki states Rio’s good points which will be an asset and benefits of being a team player, she gives Rio her share of the reward. Rio gets excited after seeing the amount though this is just the minimal. Rio pleads to Maki to take her in. Always money talk. Back in present, Rio captures the 3 petty criminals as Maki gives her the deserved reward. She is happy she can go to a sale so Maki feels pity for the guys that they lost out to a bargain sale. Miyuki later leaves a pair of apprentices in Rio’s hands. She should’ve known better than to do so since she persuades them to dress in swimsuits and do sexy poses. She collects money from the perverted cops watching behind a one-way mirror. Exploitation! On an unrelated note, I love this episode’s title: “Rambo Bravo! Rio Bimbo!”. Haha!

Episode 7
Maki is on a 3 day paid vacation leave to Hong Kong. When she’s gone, a case of what may seem to be a murder incident happens at the women’s toilet at Policetown. Rio takes up this case herself and drags the rest along, thinking she’ll get rewarded when solved. Then an old granny seeks Rio’s help to search for her missing child Takuto but she’s not interested since the reward isn’t big. Soon the computer data of Policetown starts going haywire and subsequently everyone has their belongings stolen. Maki is at the cliff throwing a bouquet into the sea. Seems on her wedding day to Masato on a cruiser, it exploded and took her soon-to-be husband’s life. She is being observed by people in the shadows. Rio rounds up the gang and gives her twisted long-winded analysis of what happened. More like making a big thing out of something small. Aren’t those just her opinion? Something about a love affair gone wrong and the suspect killed the victim and covered his tracks. Sounds like a serial TV drama. However Matsuoka of the Profiling department was listening to her story and explains his own analysis. His conclusions are more rational and based on the occurrences and analysis of the events, the suspect seems to fit a person: Rio! Due to her alibi, they inspect her locker and find all their things in it. They throw her into the cell. However analysis of the DNA at the crime scene didn’t match so the real culprit is still roaming free. They continue to search and finally corners the real culprit: A crow. The bird named Takuto is granny’s lost pet, took some bone from the ramen shop and ate it at the women’s toilet. It came tothe computer room to play before stealing shiny things to make a nest in Rio’s locker. Granny is grateful and treats them all to as much as they want as Maki returns from her trip. Oh yes. Rio is still locked up. Boo hoo! Missing out on all that good food!

Episode 8
Chimama is released from prison and is reunited with Mama, Josephine and Caroline to hatch a plan. Warriors are celebrating at the ramen store over Nanvel’s diet changing machine (appearance changing machine) that won the Great Innovation Award. Seems she’s not happy they didn’t celebrate at a more posh place. Rio is pestering to be her bodyguard thinking she’ll get lots of money when they’re being kidnapped by Chimama and co. Now he’s an exhibitionist? They want them to cooperate by using her machine to change their appearance so they can rob a bank. Nanvel refuses but gives in after Chimama tortures Rio by rubbing his scruffy face on hers. Nanvel has a condition: She wants them to serve her favourite snacks. She fixes her machine and names it Pinzou. When they test it out, their face seems to be the same. Due to cheap parts, it explodes. Nanvel tells them to get better parts and more of her favourite food. Mama thinks this as an investment and reluctantly spends money to get what she needs. At this rate they’ll go broke before robbing a bank so they need to cut cost. They ‘release’ freeloading Rio into the ocean. When Nanvel finishes her new Pinzou, it turns them invisible instead. But Mama uses this approach to easily rob banks since the cameras can’t catch them. While Nanvel seems to be used to the gang, Rio is ‘fished’ out from the sea and returned to Warriors. They try to get Nanvel’s whereabouts but all she spew were words of Nanvel’s favourite food and location of the stores. Maki analyzes them and deducts the baddies’ next target. Warriors manage to corner them while in the midst of their heist. But they’re still invisible so Maya fires at Pinzou to damage it but Nanvel protects her precious invention. Pinzou goes a little haywire so Rio and Chimama turn into giants and fight like Ultraman. Maki manages to persuade Nanvel to switch it off as Rio knocks Chimama out again by kicking his crotch. Nanvel gets off lightly since Maki surpressed the case as the rest draw marks on her face as penalty.

Episode 9
A secret mission requested by UN has Warriors to escort Mr Henry from Japan to Switzerland quietly. Henry is supposedly to be very square (literally) and a VIP influentual to the balance of the military world. Rio is in the escort plane and thinks the Scientist is Henry and shares her bento. Upon finding out he isn’t, she takes it back! Stingy poker! The real Henry is a super AI tank. Suddenly the plane goes a little off course and several terrorists board the plane. Yuji and Maya are kept busy with enemy fighter jets. Rio has her hands full when Henry suddenly activates itself and unleashes a super blast, crashing the plane. Rio wakes up in the desert of the enemy’s territory (Desania) among the plane ruins. Nobody else survives. Mind boggling… Scientist is heavily injured so he passes her a self destruction watch before he dies. He wants her to press it if Henry falls into enemy’s hands. Rio decides to take Henry to the border in hopes of getting rewarded. Why is she walking instead of riding it? It’s fun to see their hot-cold relationship. Rio thinks she’s the boss and threatens to press each time it gets cocky. Henry on the other hand seems to shoot a Rio to keep her in line when it’s actually to save her from perils unknown to her. Desania’s General gets note that Henry is missing and is adamant to get his hands on the tank. Ruby is with him and makes him a plan to retrieve the tank but isn’t happy to see with it. His tank division discovers their location and starts firing at the duo. They are baffled Henry didn’t counterattack so Ruby suggests to fire closer. When a blast sends Rio flying, Henry fires a super shot to wipe all the enemy out! The other Warriors get info that Rio is still alive via Lilica’s hacking of Desania’s satellite. Maki plans to cover their escape. 100km more to go.

Episode 10
Ruby is seducing General to follow her suggestions by sending his army to Henry but they all get obliterated in an instant. As Rio continues to trek across the desert with Henry, she naturally bonds with it. Why not? Since it saved her life when she slipped and fell off a waterfall. Henry can fly too! Rio sees an oasis and hut filled with food and rushes in to to eat. But it’s a trap set up by the enemy. Rio is captured and comes to face Ruby. She is keeping her alive as hostage because she knows Henry is programmed to protect her so it’s not moving. They analyze Henry but are stumped it has no brain or computer parts to make it move on its own. They figure that a memory chop filled with combat info may be the key. Rio is locked in a room but seduces a dumb guard to get out and don her suit. She is in a dilemma to press the self destruction button after remembering numerous attempts Henry did to save her. She throws the watch away but the guards enter to kill her. She fights them but gets beaten up badly. A satellite in space fires a beam onto Henry. It starts moving and attacking the enemy. General orders his army to counterattack but was no match. Rio gets emotional when she sees Henry protecting her even if it’s badly damaged. General tries to escape from his failed operation but Ruby shoots him, takes the memory chip and flees. Grateful Rio manages to escort Henry all the way to the border. But after she got her 1.5 million Yen reward, she’s back to her normal money-faced self. It’s mentioned that Henry protected her because Rio accidentally turned on its VIP Guard Switch while messing with it on the escort plane. And Henry’s brain is the satellite in space.

Episode 11
Mecha Cops are deployed as experiments to handle crimes. They’re so successful that they’ve solved 10000 cases! Not to mention popular merchandises on them! It revived the economy too?! Put those human cops to shame. Nanvel has her suspicions since the American prototype counterpart is 1/3 bigger and even needed a CPU for it. Remember, computers those days weren’t that small. They manage to sniff around and discover the use of a black diamond in its core. Nanvel notices its complexed process and needed 1000 diamonds to make 1 of this. Maki remembers how Masato was investigating black diamond smuggling case before his demise. Seems Maki suggested that they disguise themsevels as newlyweds on a cruiser to investigate it. It’s illegally manufactured in Hong Kong and smuggled into Japan. But then the explosion occurred. The police covered it up as an explosion accident and everything else was buried with it. Back in present, Ruby initiates Scrambler Code. During another Mecha Cop’s round, it tries to kill the criminal who has surrendered. Rio intercepts by breaking its arm. The makers aren’t happy she obstructed with police work and will lodge a complaint. Soon the Mecha Cops go crazy and start terrorizing Policetown and the city. Warriors are called in to stop them. Maya is happy as she gets to shoot her guns even if they had no effect on them. By fluke shots, Warriors subdue the menace. Why do those Mecha Chops act as if they have emotions like getting mad at being teased or blush like perverts? Were emotions programmed in them previously? Due to the damage done, the Mecha Cop programme is postponed. Maki analyzes the events that has happened and though nothing conclusive and just speculative, she thinks all this was planned.

Episode 12
The Warrior girls disguise as ditzy school girls on tour to infiltrate the manufacturing plant of Mecha Cops. Chief wants her to pull out seeing this is unauthorized by she doesn’t listen. Maki tells her Warriors the plant is owned by ex-Prime Minister Shigeru Tonoyama. Chief reports to his boss, Tonoyama about Maki’s snooping (his men were the one observing Maki at Hong Kong). Flashback reveals Maki tried to tell Chief about Masato’s covered up death but he gave her another mission: To assemble a special squad called Warriors. This was to serve as a distraction for her. Fashion designer Marionne Bardo arrives in Tokyo with her companion and models for a fashion show. During a televised interview, Maki sees a familiar scar on Bardo’s hand. She remembers how she was saved by Masato when a psycho started shooting in public. That’s when she decided to join the police form and became close to him. Bardo is revealed to be Ruby and her companion is Harry. Later Ruby meets Tonoyama and exchanges a suitcase of black diamonds. Rio and Nanvel’s snooping has them spot Ruby and Tonoyama in the plant. To make things worse, Tonoyama plans to sell the robots to terrorists since the police have put a freeze on them! This was the Prime Minister of Japan?! Maki confronts Chief that she has strong evidence of the black diamond case but he tells her to back down as he will handle this sensitive case personally. Maki refuses because she has been waiting for this chance and though she was alone then, now she isn’t. She assembles Warriors and gives them a choice whether to join this non-paying illegal secret mission. Surprisingly Rio decides to join them. No money talk? Maki receives a strange letter and the contents seem to indicate it’s from Masato. She’s surprised he may be alive. She follows the letter to Tokyo Tower as Warriors sneak in to try to take a robot back as evidence. Suddenly the robots move on their own and start attackign them. Though they have a hard time, the Armoured Riot Squad comes in to back them up but they’re shooting like nobody’s business. In the elevator, Maki gets another shock because Masato is alive. Yup, he’s known as Harry now. He tells her she’s going to watch her Warriors who have been branded as traitors/terrorists being taken out in a crossfire. Chief orders the squad to kill them all.

Episode 13
At the end of the fashion, Ruby turns her models into humanoid assassins and slaughter everyone! Even the Riot Squad are no match for the super healing and agile machines! Maki is saddened that Masato has changed so he explains after that explosion, he was saved by a fishing boat. He gave up on personal justice and turned to the underworld, rising up the ranks fast. Insisting Masato has ‘died’ in that incident, he tries to play mind games with her like she’s alone now. Warriors survive and pops up at the ramen store. Then they see the slaughter on TV and go cofront Chief to make him spill everything. Well, there’s only 1 team who can save the city, right? Ruby brings Tonoyama to Harry. He further reveals Tonoyama a greedy man who dabbled on black diamonds. Due to its high experimental cost and unwilling to use his own money, he misappropriated government funds to do so. But someone was on his tail (Masato) and when he rid of him, his girlfriend (Maki) took over and created Warriors as a camouflage. Warriors’ idea was originally suggested by Masato but since it has become a hindrance to Tonoyama, he had them destroyed. Harry gives Maki a gun to shoot that corrupted bastard as revenge but she can’t so Harry shoots Tonoyama himself! Harry couldn’t care less with revenge, etc and only wants Maki to come with him. Now he’s into world conquest? Maki still believes in the old Masato and slaps him to wake him up but gets punched instead. She’s put in a room but feints unconscious and manages to escape to meet her Warriors. She tells them to stop the life core controlling the machines at the tower top.

Maki is confronted with Ruby who isn’t happy that another woman should come between her and Harry. Maki is prepared to die by her hands so Ruby thinks of making her suffer by killing her Warriors first and crush her hopes. Warriors reach the top but face the humanoid assassins. Maya and Nanvel take them on so Rio could head inside. They’re tough to handle but eventually destroyed with teamwork. Rio reaches in and plants a timer device. Soon Ruby comes in and they fight. Though Ruby has the upperhand, Rio plays dirty by squeezing her boobs (teasing her that’s the only unworked body part!) and knocks her out. Rio rushes out to her pals waiting in the helicopter. Harry and Maki are in another face-off. He still wants her to come with him but she is adamant to stop him. The timer reaches zero and the bomb goes off. Did Ruby got caught in it? Well, Maki and Harry still in a stand-off. In the aftermath, Tokyo Tower is in a huge mess, the incident is reported as the most brutal terrorist act, the police trying to link the terrorist act to Tonoyama’s murder and we see Warriors resuming their normal lives. Chief has resigned so does Maki but she goes missing shortly after. They get a new chief, a red head lady.

Burn Out
I have mixed feelings of how the way things ended. It was good to see that Warriors manage to overcome all obstacles and put an end to the terrorizing on Tokyo. However it is unclear if Maki, Ruby or Harry still lives. Well, Maki should be still alive because we see her resignation letter on her table, right? Unless she wrote it before she went into action. And that red head lady, I’m not sure if she’s really a new person or Ruby or Maki in disguise. It’s hard to tell no matter how hard I tried to stare and compare their looks. It could be Ruby seeing that she herself is a master of disguise. Or it could be Maki starting anew. Who knows?

Considering this is an old school anime, I guess I could say that I’m pretty satisfied with the action and even the plot even there are inconsistencies. There are lots of explosion and gun blowing action to satisfy adrenaline junkies though it won’t be as over the top you would see today. The plot may not be original as those who are veterans to this genre may find the real baddie to be a dead loved one to be cliched, etc. But at least the story flow unfolds at a steady pace and the important details all revealed in the end. The inconsistencies I’m referring to would be when certain stuffs were brought over from the OVA to the TV series. For instance, Ruby was never named in the OVA and thus we will never know if she is that same person. What happened to the drug simulator too? Then some of the other henchmen we see shortly appearing in the OVA too didn’t turn up here. So again it might indicate they may not be the same terrorist group.

Rio has got to be the most amusing character because of her mind which thinks nothing about money. She should have become an business woman instead of a cop. Probably she’s more brawns than brains, that’s why. Has she ever thought of hiring a financial consultant? Guess not because it will cost her extra. Is there a way to cut down her habit of buying everything she sees she likes? The way she spends money is scary. See how many debt collectors she’s got. I wonder if she has ever faced a menacing loan shark. Even if she did, she’d beat them up for their harassment. Maya is another amusing character especially when she has to go into withdrawals after not shooting her gun for long periods of time. Good thing this gal is on our side. It was funny in the initial episodes to see her try to keep her sanity in check after several no-action or fast finishing missions that gives her no chance to fire at all. Maki is probably the only serious one but she too has a ‘wicked’ side and that makes it her specialty: To take advantage of others’ weaknesses with her smooth persuasion. That’s how she got Rio to join her team, right? Ruby as an enigmatic character is definitely not someone you could easily toy with. A smart and adept woman, we see her going places from episode to episode and if you think about it, she’s like connecting all the dots to her plans. Unfortunately for most of those baddies who deal with her, they get killed. Lesson: Crime never pays.

I need to mention the fanservice elements here. Yup, they even existed way back then. There’s a large amount of them thrown in especially you know when the girls go into action or the likes, you see their boobs bouncing and swinging so much that you may start to think that they’re made of jelly! An ironic part is that when they don suits that are skin tight, their boobs still move freely, defying gravity. Maybe that part is only loose, eh? That’s why the Warriors team is made up mainly of girls, eh? Yuji’s role serves more like a comic relief. That guy will never learn to get over voyeurism since he usually bears the brunt of it. During that later part of the TV series, Yuji has several short segments of his own. What is it about? You may have guessed it. It’s about him doing some perverted reports like peeping Rio sleeping in her apartment, using Pinzou to make the girls’ clothes turn invisible or cloning himself so he could experience 1000 times more erotic voyeurism. His perverted wolf howling is annoying and his nose bleeds is enough to fill a hospital with a year’s worth of supply the way he’s getting turned on. And even at the end of his segment, he has a cheek to tell viewers that if you have any complaints, you can contact Yuji. Hell, like I will! You’re the main complaint if I must say!

So this proves that even within the police department themselves, there are conspiracies and the people who are given the power to serve justice and protect the public are the culprits. Sometimes having a renegade an independent vigilante squad may not be a bad idea to keep such things in check. Hope Rio’s money-minded personality won’t tarnish the force. Like they say, being poor is a sin and even though I may not be a rich otaku (ironically, all otakus are poor but they spend all their money on their obsession) at least I’m happy with what I have. Could have a little more would be better lah :). If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, you know who to call, right? NO! NOT YUJI, PLEASE!

Burn Up

Sister Princess RePure

January 2, 2011

Because many fans were disappointed at how the way the prequel ended, Sister Princess RePure was made a year later to quell all those dissatisfied siscon, oops I mean fans, out there. The sequel is said to stay more faithful to the original serialized works and hence the name ‘RePure’. Though I have never read the original works, but I thought the first season of Sister Princess ended on quite an okay note. You know, the sole brother gets to be reunited with his one dozen sisters.

The basic storyline though remains the same but as I read that some time has passed and Wataru has left the island. The sisters also decided to split up and live separately but none of them has forgotten their dearest brother. Thus they still stick together to meet him and themselves. Though there are 13 episodes in this sequel, the first 12 episodes are split into 2 parts. The first part features the sisters spending time with Wataru (what else?) while the second part focuses on a particular sister as she herself narrates the entire half on her feelings, desires and things they do with their brother. It gives more depth to the sisters as we find out more about them personally.

Episode 1
The episode begins with Karen dreaming of marrying her brother. When she wakes up, she narrates how that was a dream of hers when she was young but knows she can’t now. As we see the other sisters making their way to meet Wataru, we also see Karen reminiscing the times she spent with him like at the beach and he bought a beautiful dress for her. On her way, she bumps into a boy who accidentally taints her beloved dress with his ice cream. Karen feels sad and thought Wataru may get disappointed upon seeing it dirtied. But when they both finally meet, Wataru buys several ribbons and puts it over her to make her even prettier. Then all the sisters reunite and are happy to see their dear brother again. While Karen is waiting for Wataru at the park, she remembers how her grandma handed down a silver locket. Grandma also said to be honest and put a photo of her favourite person in it. Guess whose picture is in it? Karen treasured the pictures she took with Wataru so she couldn’t them and put it in her locket. Then she remembered the student planner he gave her when he changed grade. Since that picture is small, it fits perfectly. When she showed it to grandma, she laughed and nodded she was same like her. Grandma also put the picture of her brother whom she loved very much in it and thinks this is hereditary. Karen thinks if she remains honest with herself, she’ll become a wonderful woman whom Wataru will turn to. Wataru arrives to pick Karen up as she holds his arm.

Episode 2
Kaho is supposed to meet Wataru at his home tomorrow to pass him her gift of pansy seeds. First time it slipped out of her pocket but luckily Hinako picked it up. Then back home, she realizes she has lost them. Next day, Yotsuba finds out about this and helps Kaho find her precious seeds and is soon joined by Rinrin but they fail to find them. Wataru comes looking for Kaho since she didn’t turn up and when he finds out what happened, agrees to help search tomorrow. That night Kaho has a dream that pansy seeds bloom everywhere including her head! Next day, Mamoru finds Kaho and brings her to Wataru. He shows her the pansy seeds sprouting beneath a tree. Kaho’s intention was to plant them in Wataru’s home so he thinks of making this place as their new flower garden. Mamoru is excited when she’s invited to play football by the boys. But she got injured. In the hospital, she overheard how the boys preferred her to stay feminine. Mamoru notes how she loves sports, just that she’s not good with ball games. She played with the boys because she can’t find any girls to rival her. Mamoru remembers she played a lot with Wataru when she was young. But the difference between them increased as years went by though he never treated her differently. She hopes to be his true partner who’ll always play with him and wants to catch up to him quickly. That night Mamoru plays football with Wataru.

Episode 3
During the physical examinations, Kaho doesn’t like her weight reading and becomes gloomy. Believing it was the crepe she ate, she decides to go on a diet thinking Wataru will hate her for being overweight. Though it isn’t working because she gains more weight instead! She even refuses a crepe treat from Haruka. Mamoru and Shirayuki come by and brought cakes with them. They find out the problem that’s bugging Kaho. Then Wataru comes by and notes how Kaho isn’t touching her cake. Realizing her problem, he settles this by lifting her slowly over the scales and this soon lifts her spirits. He doesn’t want her to force herself and to take a step at a time. It isn’t her weight but rather he’ll be sad if she doesn’t smile. They go back and join the rest for cakes. As Aria wanders through her mansion, she remembers how the circus people came the day she slept twice. There were caged animals (stuffed dolls?) and a clown who displayed splendid magic tricks and gave her nice things. Back in reality, she realizes the clown is Wataru and hugs him. She notes how he always gives her good things and rids her of her sleepy feelings.

Episode 4
Hinako is going to sleep over at Wataru’s place so some of the sisters help her pick a set of pyjamas. After dinner and bath, she gets into her pyjamas and notes that Wataru’s pyjamas also have the same bunny design like hers. They spend the night eating snacks and playing games. Hinako wants to stay up to continue talking to Wataru but she dozes off. She dreams of a pansy-filled fantasy world where she and Wataru have fun. On a rainy day, Hinako contemplates whether she likes or hates the wet weather as each have its own pros and cons. She decides to go pick up Wataru. On the way she sees a frog in her path. She starts fantasizing it wants to marry her?! But she has her brother and starts playing a staring game with it. Noting it still won’t move, she starts crying. By that time, the rain has cleared up and Wataru is seen coming from the opposite direction. He walks home with her. He told her the frog lost the game, that’s why it went away. If the frog is the king of the rain, Wataru is the king of the sun. If the rain continued, Hinako thinks she might have been taken away to rainy land but it was Wataru that came and got her.

Episode 5
After Wataru tells Chikage that Hinako wants to see her, a little girl that closely resembles Chikage gives him a pair of planetarium tickets and wants him to go there with his sister. Since there’re only 2 tickets, Chikage wants Wataru to go there with Hinako instead since she isn’t interested in artificial stars. Wataru tries to find the little girl to return the tickets but couldn’t find her. Chikage is reading the Triangulum star myth about a girl who was told never to reveal her name if she wants her wish granted. If she did, it would deemed she has given her body to the demon and unable to return to the light. So how can she tell her love to her boyfriend without doing so? The princess answered: There’s a little box packed with the starlit sky. If she hands it to him, her wish will reach him. That night as Chikage waits outside the planetarium, the little girl brings Wataru to her. She disappears when Wataru wanted them to meet. Chikage notes how she has returned to the stars. The planetarium is abandoned and run down. Wataru and Chikage enter and sit in the dilapidated hall as they remember how they have come here before when they were young. So that pic of young Wataru and that Chikage look-a-like girl, that has to be Chikage when she was young, right? Kaho’s mom bought her a pair of bright red shoes. She decides to show it to Wataru. On her way after dancing through a group of floating umbrellas in the drizzle (?!), she gets scared to see a black dog in her path. It starts sniffing and licking her so she fears it might dirty her shoes. But her fear subsides when it licks her face. She then continues her way to Wataru’s place but fell into a puddle. Upon reaching his home, she is all soaked and cries in his comforting arm.

Episode 6
Mamoru buys a tent and a couple of mugs to go camping with Wataru, Haruka, Sakuya and Marie. To her embarrassment, seems they’ll be staying in cabins provided instead. They go fishing and have to catch fish or else they’ll have nothing to eat since Haruka only brought vegetables. They manage to do so as Mamoru collected some nuts. After cooking dinner, Mamoru plans to let Wataru use her mug she bought for him but the cabin already had enough mugs. That night she felt sad she wasn’t able to do so and went to sleep by herself in the tent outside. Then Wataru comes by to join her and to her delight he also bought that pair of mugs for them to drink hot milk. Their quiet time together is interrupted by Mikaeru’s barking. Seems the other sisters too join them. No, it isn’t two’s a company and three’s a crowd, it’s the more the merrier. Rinrin remembers how her grandpa she loved very much was a famous inventor. She used to hang around his lab and her penchant for inventing started from there. Messing around, experimenting and creating things. She made her first little mecha then. Soon grandpa made her a lab near her home and came by yearly to see her progress. But one day while waiting for him, he did not show up (he passed away) and she started crying. But she saw Wataru approaching from a distant. She ran and hugged him as he whispered to her that he’ll take care of her in grandpa’s place from now on. Rinrin returns to her normal self and can’t wait to show Wataru her lab.

Episode 7
Aria’s maid wakes her up since Wataru is visiting her. I wonder why Aria calls her Jiiya (not to be mistaken for Wataru’s Jiiya). Must be the same job function, eh? Wataru arrives at Aria’s luxurious mansion and they both played. When it’s time for Wataru to go, Aria doesn’t want him to leave but her maid insists she shouldn’t be selfish so Wataru whispers into her ear. Next day, Aria says she’s sick so Wataru, Karen, Shirayuki, Haruka and Hinako pay her a visit. But Aria doesn’t want to stay in bed and wants to play with them. Her maid gets strict on her in order for her to get well like making her eat up and rest so Aria feels she’s scary. Then the gang learn Aria isn’t sick and just wanted to see Wataru. Wataru whispered then that if something happens to her, he’ll come flying to her. So by saying so, it did made him come, right? Even so, Wataru doesn’t hate her. Her maid doesn’t understand Aria because she herself doesn’t have a gentle brother like Wataru. Then she overhears how Wataru talks to Aria to apologize to her since she isn’t a scary person because if she was so, she wouldn’t ask him to cheer her up. Chikage is trekking through a withered forest, hoping to catch this spirit she’s looking for who is Wataru. There’s a tree on the hilltop that bore only a golden apple that she and Wataru planted on her birthday many years ago. Inside a room where Wataru lies on his bed, Chikage takes a bite at the completed golden apple and wants him to bite so that they’ll go to their world. Then she sees his happy birthday card for her. She is glad he remembered and decides to stop for today because he doesn’t have to hurry though she feels she’ll capture him one day and that someday he’ll want this fruit.

Episode 8
Wataru visits ill Marie at the sanatorium. He sees her interact with the other kids like making clay and doing a hand puppet show. Since Shirayuki will be joining them later, Karen intends to let Marie spend a little more time with Wataru so she buys time before meeting them by taking Hinako and Aria to buy Marie presents, eat lunch and play with the sheep at the field. However they took the wrong tram and ended up arriving late in the evening. But it seems their plan was found out since Shirayuki told them about it. Wataru thanks Karen as Hinako gives Marie the present and everyone watches Marie do her puppet play. Yotsuba, who hails from England, grew up separately from Wataru. When she learnt she has a brother, she became interested in knowing and meeting him. While she was checking his room, she notices a white unicorn made from bone china. It is the same one she had in her room when she’s a child and believed it as a charm that protects girls who are pure. Looking underneath it, there are words written and addressed to her. Then she realized Wataru gave it to her before and though they may have been physically separated, their hearts were connected all the time.

Episode 9
Sakuya, Rinrin, Yotsuba, Aria and Kaho are eating together and talking what Wataru likes but each has different answers. They decide to go visit him but he’s not home. Rinrin notes how Wataru knows them well and treats them nice but they hardly know anything about him. Yotsuba and Rinrin decide to follow him next Sunday and learn his secrets. They stalk, I mean, follow him to the bread shop (Mami making cameo appearance as the bread seller), buying gift cards and at the plant shop (isn’t that Yamada as the plant seller?). They conclude he’s buying presents for his sisters. They tail him taking a train to an abandoned warehouse. Yotsuba thinks he’s some sort of British secret agent and wants to split up and attack him from both sides. Huh? Rinrin climbs to a top spot but falls. Luckily Wataru was there to catch her. Rinrin says she wants to know more about him because she sometimes feels like he’s going away somewhere. He replies he’ll always be in her heart. Yotsuba finally finds Wataru’s secret, which turns out to be a tent on the rooftop. He’s camping here? Why? Don’t know. That night Wataru accompanies them both home via train. Haruka hails from Germany and is infatuated with the Tanabata festival and the Hikoboshi-Orihime legend. She gets dressed in her yukata and is excited to meet Wataru at the festival. But it started raining so this dampens her spirits. But she is glad once more when Wataru comes to pick her up and they both enjoy the festival. The wish on Haruka’s Tanabata paper reads she wants to be with Wataru forever.

Episode 10
As Wataru walks home with Haruka, Hinako and Sakuya from school, the sisters learn he received a love letter. Sakuya however feels disturbed. So next day she accompanies him to school holding his arm (attracting lots of stares) giving an excuse to be his bodyguard because he’s in ‘danger’. Sakuya continues to spend time with him throughout school in hopes the admirer would give up. On their way home, Sakuya mentions about the red string destiny and even hints of the only man she loves but Wataru is so dense and thinks that man is somebody else. Sakuya gets upset, calls him an idiot and runs away. While sitting alone on a bench near the lighthouse, Wataru comes by to apologize and wraps a red scarf around her neck. She still calls him dense but sees him wrap the same scarf around his own neck too. They sit together as Sakuya has him promise to stay over at her place the next time. Marie washes Mikaeru at the sanatorium when the dog gets startled and accidentally splashes on her. That night she felt a little hot and collapses. She dreams of walking through a cold icy place and breaks down upon seeing sleeping Wataru on a frozen bed disappears. Next thing she knows, Wataru is standing next to her as they embrace. When Marie opens her eyes, Wataru is by her side holding her hand. He then carries her to watch the scenery.

Episode 11
Wataru stays over at Sakuya’s place as promised. In her room, Wataru spots her treasure box so she accidentally breaks it while trying to hide it from him. He sees a necklace but doesn’t remember its significance. Upset Sakuya runs away (not again). In town, she reminisced the precious items Wataru gave to her like the ribbon from a wedding’s bouquet, the dolphin hair accessory from the pool and the tile chipped from the fountain. Eventually Wataru finds her at the fountain because they once made a promise to meet here if they get lost. They reconcile as Sakuya gives him a pebble from the fountain as a reminder for today as they return home. Shirayuki hones her baking skills from a confectionary school run by Madam Pikkori, so she can let Wataru tastes her delicious cookies. As they wait for the cookies to bake, Shirayuki talks to her about her beloved brother. Madam is supportive of her love but she looked sad and shed tears albeit smiling. After the cookies are baked and Shirayuki about to leave, Madam gives her blessing and will make her a wedding cake when the time comes. Shirayuki again notices her sad expression but decides not to ask. Remembering a portrait of Madam’s brother in the kitchen she was always looking at, she thought it was probably telling her to have no regrets. Shirayuki rushes to Wataru and gladly jumps into his arms.

Episode 12
Sakuya, Marie, Chikage and Haruka have booked and Italian restaurant so they could dine with Wataru. When they go invite him, they see Kaho, Hinako, Aria and Mamoru visiting him. They too want to go but they only booked the place for 5 people. Sakuya lets them go in their place but notes that there is still a way they can be with him. That is, to work part time in that restaurant as waitresses for that day and serve him (Sakuya knows the owner of the place). Thought they look cute in the maid uniform (first time seeing Chikage letting her hair down), it was busy that day so they can’t spare time to talk to Wataru. After dinner and the last customer left, Wataru is supposed to stay back as promised but the little ones are sleepy so he has no choice but to leave and send them home. But later he comes back and they have their much awaited chat as it starts snowing. Sakuya seems a little upset that Wataru prefers to spend time with his friend than her cute sister. But she forgives him thinking he has to save a day for her next time. While walking in the rain, she passes by a church and remembers when she was young and on her way to a charity bazaar there, she stumbled upon a wedding ceremony. She tried to catch the bouquet the bride threw but somebody else got it. She fantasized of becoming Wataru’s bride. Sakuya also remembers how she told Wataru she wanted to be his bride when they grow up. But she understands the situation now that isn’t possible and the guy who will be standing with her at the altar probably won’t be him. Tearful Sakuya prays to God to be with him forever. She must really love him because it’s pitiful to see her cry like that :'(.

Episode 13
A full episode 13 sees Karen worried that Wataru won’t be around to spend Christmas with them. However to her relief he was just trying to make a surprise preparation to decorate the largest fir tree in town for their Christmas party. The sisters wish to help him out as Wataru shows them a Santa mailbox. Apparently they can write what they wish for and mail it here. Karen is having a hard time thinking what present to buy for Wataru or to write in the letter. At the town’s square where the clock tower displays a play at certain times, they think they’ve realized the secret of the fir tree and mechanical clock tower. Its meaning is a committed wish to the future and the happy days are a dream that the clock tower watches over. But Chikage don’t think it’s true since Wataru is in their eyes and they too are in his eyes. Seems the sisters all have the same desire they want for their present (make a good guess what it is) as they decide to give a present that represent their feelings to him. Wataru realizes the Christmas star missing so he goes to town to look for it and is running late, causing his sisters to worry. The shops don’t sell them. Then he remembers Chikage’s Triangulum myth (a short continuation of Chikage’s story back then about the stars packed in the box but broke out. Not that I’m interested anyway). He rushes to the clock tower and remembers he saw the starry sky in that clock tower when he was young. After the previous Christmas, the ornaments were left here and forgotten. He takes the star and heads back. He apologizes for being late, puts the star on top and they start the party. Then Wataru apologizes for not getting them presents as he was searching for the star. Karen says their feelings are the same and that they’re happy to be with him. They lit up the decorated Christmas tree as his present and then sing him a song. They assert their love for him and will always be together.

Lovelier By The Dozen
Hmm… Anything special? Well, I could have already guessed from the start that there won’t be anything dramatic or heart-stopping, so to speak. All the sisters get to be with their brother they love and spend time with him till the very end. Since there aren’t any more sequels, I guess the fans must have been satisfied, eh? You can’t call this a harem because the girls aren’t fighting over Wataru and like in the first season, everybody here is so nice and kind! That’s how siblings should be. I still can’t believe he really has 12 sisters. Though the characters remain the same from the previous season, I noticed several slight changes from it as well. For instance, Haruka doesn’t don her traditional kimono anymore unless it’s some traditional festival, Chikage does not seem to read her tarot cards or any fortune telling-like equipments and you don’t see that big friendly robot of Rinrin’s creation around. Some are more toned down like Rinrin doesn’t bug her brother all the time for research funds, Aria doesn’t seem to be that retarded (sorry) and Sakuya wasn’t that flirty and naughty as before though her little sad side story was the most emotionally sad one. Otherwise they’re still the same like Chikage who is ever enigmatic and Marie who is still weak and ill.

Because of so, as compared to the previous season, this sequel tends to be more slow paced and calming. If you’re not used to such brother-sister bonding relationship, you may need more than just coffee to keep you awake. That’s because it lacks the exaggeration the prequel had such as the comic relief characters of Yamada and Mami. You don’t have that girlfriend-less loser and that fake ’13th sister’ to totally bring the house down. By the way, these 2 are anime-only characters and do not appear in the original works so I guess even making a short cameo appearance would suffice. It’s like blink-and-you’ll-miss. Plus, unlike in the prequel, you don’t see all the sisters appearing together in an episode (the exception of the first and last episodes). Which means, more ‘space’ and it doesn’t feel ‘crowded’ as each sister is allocated their time and appearance to be with Wataru who is the only character who appears in every episode.

I’m not sure if the characters are living on Promised Island as this was the setting used in the prequel. It was kind of a little odd seeing that they all don’t live together and even the sisters have their own place to live and prefer to visit Wataru’s own home or have him visit theirs. In this sequel, Wataru is never referred by his name. As we all know, each of the sisters have their own expressive ways to call him so it isn’t necessary and even the ending credits list him nameless and put “Elder Brother” instead.

The drawing and art for the sequel seems to be slightly different. Not to say that there are very obvious differences but in my opinion the girls here do look a little mature. Well, it has been a few years already, right? So Kaho and Hinako don’t look like the little lolis that they are as in the first season. Then I noticed that the Wataru drawn seems to look different in both parts. While the one in the first part is recognizable, the one in the second part looks obviously different. Sure, we don’t get to see his true face (his eyes were never shown) but it did bothered me that he felt like a different person (his different body structure, perhaps?). Like, too grownup. While all the seiyuus of the sisters are retained for the sequel, Wataru’s seiyuu wasn’t and another one was used instead so if you pay close attention, you can hear the different voice.

The opening theme is Maboroshi and is sung by can/goo. If you are aware of can/goo’s rock pop style, you are sure to recognize this lively piece. The main ending theme Kimi To Iketeiku also sung by can/goo. Surprisingly this lively song is quite catchy though it somehow resembles Third Eye Blind’s Semi Charmed Life (the scene is just the animation inside the mechanical clock tower). Don’t be surprised that this main ending theme is played in the middle of the show but remember, this series is split into 2 parts. Which means for the sister-focused part, we have 12 different ending themes tailored for each of the sisters. They are all sung by Ritsuko Okazaki (famous for her Fruits Basket series songs). Even if the song tempo and beat doesn’t match the pace of that sister’s story, at least the lyrics will. Some are casual, some jazzy and some slow. This might be trivial but since there are 12 different ending themes, and each of them has the name “I Like Onii-chan Very Much ~(insert title of that story here)~”, I just thought that they should also changed the “onii-chan” to that expression that particular sister calls Wataru rather than fixing it to just “onii-chan” to truly reflect that sister’s story.

I guess this series was famous enough and have its own set of fans to spawn several games. Don’t they get tired of it? Heck, why would you when you have lots of nice and cute looking sisters who unconditionally love you. Plus, from what I read, I believe though the games work like those dating sims, it isn’t your conventional adult material because you’re supposed to interact and spend time with your sisters. Notice that there are no fanservice elements in this sequel? Unless you’re that kind of sicko who gets his kicks with incest or sister rape, perhaps there should be more games like this in the dating sim category. On second thought, why play such a game when you can try to be nice to your real sister in the first place? Practice? Escapism?

Perhaps the other moral and lesson of the story isn’t just about being good brothers or sisters, but rather to treat everyone nice. Whether you have dozens of siblings or relatives or you may just be an only child. Blood is thicker than water. It isn’t the material and monetary gifts that measures one’s love. That special bond shared is something money cannot buy and treasure it for it is irreplaceable. I may not have a sister and since I mentioned in my previous blog that I’d rather have a harem of 2D girls than a dozen sisters, on second thought if they are nice and cute, why not? A chance to play ‘big brother’. Maybe I’m just deluding myself via escapism. Better than having Brother Princess, eh?

 

Sister Princess

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Another year of animes gone. Some mediocre, some okay and some superbly extraordinary. As usual my New Year resolution would be to watch more animes and hopefully though it won’t be possible to ask that they don’t suck, at least let it be decent. Especially when the series end, okay? So here is another blog to kick start the New Year!

It feels like a long time though it has only been a year apart when I watched GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class OVA. I may not be an art enthusiast still, so the reason I’m watching this is mainly because of the quirky quintet of the art class. What would an art class be without the lively personalities of those girls. It would be tad boring if they are only creative in their work so I guess this is where the fun is. Those who have watched the TV series may find this OVA like an extension since many of the familiar aspects are retained.

It begins with Namiko and Noda admiring the weather vane from their class when Kisaragi starts panicking and wishes for a disaster to happen! Gosh, what happened to this sweet naive girl that made her desire something so sinister? Apparently their petite textile teacher, Yoshino Koshino strikes fear among the many art students. She’s a very strict teacher when it comes to her work and it seems she isn’t pleased with the first years handing in their work poorly, especially designing original costumes. Poor Kisaragi is trembling in fear. Yeah, that’s the earthquake she’s been hoping for. Herself. Yoshino has what her students call a Public Execution Chair in which students sit on the lower chair as she criticizes their work while looking at the ‘victim’ in the eye. Several students were ‘executed’ in front of class including Kisaragi and Tomokane.

Kyouju tries to give them some tips since she has finished hers but of course she’s on a level which ‘ordinary’ students can’t understand. Too advanced to learn from her. Then it’s Namiko’s turn as she departs her style of using something random as a symbol and then turning it into a fashion but the rest misinterpreted it. Finally the fashion enthusiast Noda explains her way of doing so like imagining the clothes she would like someone to wear and then adding colours and accessories. But Kisaragi isn’t inspired so she tries to summon spirits to help her! Namiko gives Kisaragi a fashion magazine to read but she got distracted about the model’s thin body size rather than their clothes. Then Tomokane seems to have finished hers and presents her work to Yoshino but again she criticizes it for being a rip-off of a popular sci-fi movie years ago. To make matters worse, she pins her work up on the board for everyone to see the work of the ‘cheaters’! Tomokane gets desperate and just draws what comes to mind and surprisingly she got a pass.

Yoshino’s class period ends and though Kisaragi is relieved but she’s still trembling in fear. Low on confidence, she starts thinking that this area isn’t her forte. Noda advises her that she loves watching and imaging clothes since it’s exciting. For those who hate or even have no interest in them but went on to become world class designers, they really must be talented. She believes they normally started out by being in too much love with it and then getting excited about it. She asks if Kisaragi has any clothes she likes because being a girl, there is always a place in their heart that they love some sort of clothes. Kisaragi mentions she likes the kimono and traditional clothes as she used to collect scrap fabric. Though Kisaragi thinks it’s old fashion, Noda thinks they’re cute. Few days later Kisaragi hands in her work to Yoshino and she praises it and even pats her head. She passes! Way to go girl.

In the next part, Kisaragi looks up to the clear blue sky and this make her wants to draw it because it brought back nostalgic memories when Mizubuchi gave her a sketch drawing of the sky during junior high school. Because of that, she bought her first sketchbook and water colour though she couldn’t draw the sky no matter how much she drew. But Kyouju advises that they can’t do that now as they have to remove yarn balls from the curtain. Kisaragi then hands the done curtains to Usami but she says to bring it to the second art room (the one merged with the environment club). Seems Usami too tried removing yarn balls but she cut too much of them that you could see through the curtains. Namiko accompanies Kisaragi to return the curtains but only see Uozumi and Homura. They request Kisaragi to call their teacher Sasamoto. Unfortunately they don’t remember her name except the various ‘negative’ descriptions about her. Haha. That shows how much she entered the club. But the girls get the idea who they are referring to.

Tomokane decides to follow Kisaragi to find Sasamoto at the third year’s GA class thinking she has been given a challenge. They find her there and for some unknown reasons, the third year girls got fascinated with the first years’ new uniforms and starts glomping Tomokane! But Sasamoto has another task for Kisaragi. Since she knows Mizubuchi, she wants Kisaragi to return her sketchbook. Where is she? Hell, she doesn’t know. Probably somewhere with a good scenery. Wherever that is. Try finding out yourself. Dang. You know how big is this school? Better start looking. Sure Noda wants to accompany her to find Mizubuchi but the teacher drags her away citing she cheated on some assignment (she used computer prints rather than hand work).

Kisaragi walks through the school from the weaving section and till the athletes section whereby she got the shock of her life seeing Awara sleeping in a box! Awara is saying she’s doing some sketching activity in her cardboard box? She lets Kisaragi have a tryout as they both fit into it and see the sky being cropped out like a picture frame via the cut-out in the box. Then Mizubuchi comes by so Kisaragi returns the sketchbook Mizubuchi thought she misplaced it. They learn Awara was the culprit in borrowing it since she used some pages to hand in her work as her own sketchbook was running out of pages. Mizubuchi got the urge to make Awara’s sunny sky turn into rain by threatening to drop a pail of water over her! Kisaragi spots a sketch Awara was doing just now. She is taken in by the blue sky that she drew. Kisaragi happily returns to her friends with that sketch in hand and requests them accompany her to the shop at the university building to buy a new sketchbook.

Art Attack!
Well, there aren’t any real developments or anything special since like I have said, it’s just like an extension rather than anything else. This OVA was a little more focused on Kisaragi so we don’t get to see havoc antics from Noda and Tomokane. Even if there are, it was just short and felt toned down. Also, too short a screen time that Kyouju didn’t give out that have that enigmatic feel. Overall Kisaragi is still that gentle and naive girl but with her friends around, she’ll get by. And Awara, she’s still funny because of her penchant of sleeping in cardboard boxes. She’s calling that clubhouse of hers as Leonardo Da Vin House? (The ‘chi’ in Vinci is a play on word because ‘chi’ means house in Japanese).

There aren’t any obvious art techniques in this OVA unless you consider those short advices and point of views from Kyouju, Namiko and Noda about the fashion statement to be one. So if you like designing clothes and dresses, maybe you’ll get a little inspiration and ideas of some of the drawings but that won’t amount to anything much. The ending credits animation is live-action and stop-motion animation as we see that little black pastel ink bottle going around in its adventure admiring several art pieces. That Mona Lisa one was hilarious as we see her sunshine smile picture turn into a freakish ghoul! Scaring the life out of that poor little bottle. Erm… Doesn’t that claymation of the GA girls look horrible?

This OVA sure brings back memories when I was watching the series. Just like any other OVAs that I watched usually after a period of time once the TV series has ended. But still my interest in the arts department hasn’t awakened yet. Heck, maybe I have no talent because I still can’t draw the simplest manga. Still haven’t passed the stage of drawing ‘stick people’. Guess my only ‘talent’ is watching anime, huh?

GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class