Stratos 4

September 25, 2011

Is it amazing that throughout the millions of years ever since our planet have been born, somehow Earth manages to evade all those comets and meteorites that zoom pass our little blue planet. Whether it is by a mile or a whisker (in large and proportionate sense, that is), we should consider ourselves ‘lucky’ that no big major asteroids have crashed and destroyed our planet that will instantly wipe out all forms of life. But what if it becomes inevitable in the future? What happens if we do discover asteroids that are on collision course with Earth? That’s where Stratos 4 comes in. Yeah, probably all that Earth-saving thingy was just an excuse for me to watch girls as young as high school students going up into space shooting down threatening comets with some fanservice.

For starters, there are quite a few terminologies to bear in mind if you want to keep pace with the story such as Comet Blasters (teams stationed in outer space who are the first line of defence in shooting down detected and approaching meteors) and Meteor Sweepers (the second line of defence stationed below on Earth and just like its name suggests, they’re supposed to take out debris of meteors that Comet Blasters couldn’t destroy in 1 clean hit). The setting of the story takes place on an airbase on Shimojijima Island, Japan, one of the several intercept bases around the globe. The focus on the people of this base and mainly the quartet of Mikaze Honjou, Shizuha Doi, Ayamo Nakamura and Karin Kikuhara as they interact and protect Earth and the people they love from these falling asteroids. Amidst all the action and drama, some twist and hidden plot along the way. Oh yes. Don’t forget the little fanservice.

Episode 1
The Asteroid Crisis Prevention Forces (ACPF) gets ready to intercept a comet named Catherine on course crashing into Earth as they sortie the famed Comet Blasters (team of Miharu Oozora, Betty Boozeman, Chris Calman, Annette Kerry and Chizuru Kubo) for the job. New cadet pilots of the Ground Intercept Force, Mikaze and Shizuha are running late for their class but make it in time and meets up with their pals, Ayamo and Karin. Since Mikaze slacks in answering a question (not to mention joking around), she receives a Pink Card (a kind of penalty) as she is made to do laps around the field. She is depressed and her pals think she is under pressure to join this force as all her family members are pilots. Her friends find her slacking off at loudmouth chief mechanic Kouichirou Sako-sensei’s garage to pick her up when the alert sounds that all standby pilots ranked 3 and below to evacuate the base as the interception of Catherine begins. The girls return to their dorm-cum-diner, Kouchin (run by grandmother-granddaughter pair Rin and Ran Mikuriya) but was being made to do deliveries. Comet Blasters successfully destroy the comet, turning it into acceptable debris size as it rains down on Earth like shooting stars, rendering other standby pilots like Meteor Sweeper pilots, Kazuma Iwasaki and Kei Fujitani into non-action. As the girls finish their deliveries, they gather at a playground as they watch the ‘shooting stars’ fall. The girls lament that their thankless position sucks as Mikaze notes that another boring day has passed.

Episode 2
A short history lesson in class from their teacher-cum-air-traffic-controller Sayaka Kisaragi on how the UN discovered meteors threatening to crash into Earth and the establishment of ACPF, Comet Blaster and Meteor Sweeper. Mikaze is depressed as she reminisces her younger days whereby her entire family are pilots and they encourage a cheerful her into becoming one. Another asteroid nicknamed Lucy is detected so the usual procedure of engaging Comet Blasters to intercept it. However this time it didn’t go well as there are large chunks falling into orbit. Two of them into Japan. Meteor Sweepers are put into action. However after blasting off, Iwasaki-Fujitani pair abort their mission because they think something flew into their intake. This means Mikaze and co are next in line to finish the job. Finally get to see some action eh, Mikaze? As the girls scramble, suddenly Mikaze froze in fear halfway down the runway. It was so overwhelming that she started to panic and yell out for help. A gust of wind starts to push her forward and that’s when she got her confidence back and rushes to her comrade’s side. They launch and successfully destroy the asteroids. As they get ready to return, Mikaze spots the Comet Blasters soaring above them over the stratosphere. Back on land, Mikaze’s confidence is renewed and won’t run away anymore.

Episode 3
Mikaze now works hard in her training and studies, surprising her pals. Sako thought it was Mikaze playing hooky again but it’s Kisaragi who is sleeping there! Later the girls relax at a river spot. Mikaze dives in but gets attracted to a certain blue and swims for it. The next thing she knows, she is in her bed and ponders about the colourless world she has been looking at all the while. As the girls serve at a packed Kouchin, drunk Sako challenges about breaking the maximum altitude. The girls conduct a live training exercise for a scenario of a medium-sized comet. Their launch and training is successful but during decent, Mikaze-Karin team pushed their jet further upwards till they can’t. However they won’t have enough fuel to land. The nearest emergency landing will be at Anderson Base at Guam. They have to pilot through a storm and though successful, their fuel is now zero. They are also going to try the dangerous no-flap landing. At that speed and that arrester hook, do you think they’ll stop in time? Don’t worry, even if they made everyone else worried, they landed successfully. They’re sure going to get lots of punishment when they get home. While Shizuha and Ayamo slog away their busy shift at Kouchin, Mikaze and Karin are having a blast at a beach in Guam. Enjoy it while you can.

Episode 4
The girls are having their ‘unauthorized’ flight training. Of course when they return to ground, Kisaragi punishes them to run laps. Male candidate pilots Sora Ikeda (the one with brown hair) and Tsubasa Miyazaki (the blondie) watch them run as Tsubasa mocks the girls and thinks they can get their ticket to space without hard work. However as the next results come out, the girls rank ahead of them, much to Tsubasa’s shock. Mikaze is ranked first and will be the first in the starting line-up for the next mission. Mikaze is in high spirits after that. After work, unhappy Tsubasa challenges Mikaze to a shooting duel. He sounds jealous. I know your dream about working hard and going to space, but isn’t that everyone’s dream here too? I don’t know how the duel ended but Mikaze stayed and practice till early next morning! Poor Sako had to sit and watch her all night. Soon the alert for comet Mary is sound. This time all Meteor Sweepers need to standby since this comet is much larger. After Comet Blasters destroy Mary, as calculated it breaks into several pieces. As Mikaze and co pilot their crafts to intercept the meteors, one of them suddenly change course. Mikaze-Karin is ordered to back down and let Shizuha-Ayamo take over but Mikaze remains stubborn as she thinks she can destroy it. Ignoring her orders, she fires the missile (Shizuha-Ayamo also doing the same). Unfortunately the meteor wasn’t destroyed completely and broke into smaller meteorites. It comes crashing down into the surface so much so one of them directly hit an island and turned it into a large crater! Luckily all the people on it were previously evacuated. When the girls return to base, Ayamo reprimands Mikaze for shooting and slaps her. They see Karin unconscious behind. Meanwhile the ACPF has an investigation team on the crater island taking samples of the meteorite.

Episode 5
Mikaze falls into depression but is soon summoned for a hearing on the main base at Okinawa. Though the panel assures her this isn’t a trial or this meeting is of not a military nature, they’re being sarcastic and imposing. The questions they ask seem to try to twist the story and lead her to name a higher up whom they believe gave her the orders to do so. They even have all the info about her family and friends at their fingertips to ‘threaten’ her and warn her about this being ‘adult business’ than child’s play. Confused Mikaze insists that everything was her sole responsibility. Mikaze is even put under surveillance in a room where stays! This continue for several days till the panel orders the summon of other witnesses: Ayamo and Shizuha. It is known that the popular Comet Blasters team are vacationing at a nearby hotel. Mikaze sneaks out (wasn’t there supposed to be a camera in her room?) and attends the packed press conference. However Comet Blasters sound cocky and arrogant. They even walk out halfway when they think their time is up. Mikaze tries to get to the front to confront them. Their eyes met. They see Mikaze’s emblem and mocks her job as ‘wiping their asses’. Shizuha and Ayamo are at the conference too and they yell back to give their piece of mind. Suddenly Sako appears, desperately trying to get Comet Blasters’ group leader Miharu to come back to him (she was his ex-lover) but was restrained by guards. The hearing continues the next day as Ayamo and Shizuha stand up for Mikaze. But the meeting is called off when the panel gets an urgent call from the secretary-general. The girls make up and become good friends again. They return to their Shimojijima Base. They see Karin awake and her appetite equally huge.

Episode 6
An episode dedicated to Kouchin’s fat pet cat, Alice. We see her waking up the girls (no need for alarm clocks). As they rush to the base, Alice accidentally tags in one of their bike (can’t she feel that it’s heavier than usual?). Alice strolls by several sections of the base, passing Sako (still, depressed about that Miharu case), taking a short peep at the women’s shower (perverted Fujitani joins in but of course gets his deserved retribution) and Mikaze cleaning in the kitchen (she is grounded and had a pay cut). Mikaze spots Alice and chases her, bumping into Kisaragi in the hallway. Kisaragi then realizes an important classified data chip is missing and panics. After learning from Mikaze (Kisaragi’s really pissed and taking out her stress on her!) that she saw the chip hanging from Alice’s collar, she summons the entire base to find that cat in an emergency! Apparently she needs to reply to some HQ in 3 hours or else… Everyone goes to search for Alice, even employing weird methods like dressing up as mice! A little kitten takes interest in Alice but the latter isn’t interested though it continues to follow her. The kitten bumps into a group of bad cats. Bad cat boss is going to take the cute little one out when Alice appears and saves the day. Seems the boss and Alice knew each other and the former is going to get his revenge for the scar she left on his ear. A cat fight occurs (literally) and though Alice is outnumbered, she wins and shows who is boss. Karin thought she spotted Alice and went to call her pals but they are disappointed to see the knocked out bad cats instead. Kisaragi laments her fate when she finds Alice in the Commander’s lap. He explains Alice brought the chip to him and so he already contacted the base. What a relief. Everyone parties at Kouchin except Sako and Mikaze who has to serve due to their grounded status. And that little kitten, it continues hanging out with Alice and has been given the name Shogun. Well, appropriate or note, Alice has always been called Admiral by the rest.

Episode 7
Mikaze is happy since her suspension period is over and is now able to fly. They go see Sako (still depressed about Miharu) and talk to him about his incomplete rocket. He mentions about this Stratos Zero that allows ship to launch directly into space instead of the current one which can only reach the stratosphere. Thinking of a need to pilot it when it completes, Mikaze volunteers to do so and thus the girls decide to help him fix it as soon as possible (of course for Sako it would mean getting back Miharu). Tsubasa mocks Mikaze for running away and taking the easy way out to get a Comet Blaster licence and this causes angry Mikaze to accidentally drop a metal beam. Hope it’s not damaged. But the setup will be delayed. In the space station, the Comet Blasters besides discussing the next meteor impact also talk about how the zero gravity doesn’t affect their proportions (girls will be girls). A disturbing scene whereby a Comet Blaster member, Betty is taking a shower, Miharu sneaks in and forces a kiss on her! She swings this way?! Mikaze seems down but gets advice to try her best from Iwasaki. Even the Commander, Robert Reynolds offers some advice so Mikaze works hard and burns the midnight oil to fix the engine. Finally it’s completed and on the day of its ignition test, it attracts lots of crowd. The blast starts and after 120 seconds, it is a success. Everyone celebrates at Kouchin. Mikaze is super positive in her training flight and is confident she will ride that rocket one day to space.

Episode 8
Shimojijima Base is preparing for its 38th festival. The special guests arrive early and it turns out they are parents of the young pilots. We see the dads of Mikaze’s and Ayamo know each other very well and are always in some sort of friendly rivalry outdoing each other while Shizuha’s dad is a maniac pro photographer that can’t stop snapping for a second. Kisaragi’s mom is hounding her with a list of eligible bachelor candidates. Then a flashy jet lands nearby and Mikaze dreads this person because it turns out to be her sister. She’s acting like a celebrity. During the festival, Mikaze and her pals put up an aerial show. Then they go show their parents Stratos Zero and tell of their intention to go to space with it. However they vehemently protest and want them to give up this dangerous and risky idea. Both sides get into an argument so much so the parents decide to see Reynolds and get them transferred. Meanwhile Karin is alone and experiences horrifying memories how she watched her parents perished in a flight crash. The owners of Kouchin meet Mikaze and co’s parents. They tell them that they should just support and watch over their daughters since they’re trying to grasp their own future themselves and doing their best. Dejected Mikaze and co realize Karin is not around and must’ve forgotten about her and go search. Sora sees Karin sitting alone at the pier and tells her that she can talk to him about his problems. She mentions she’s always alone ever since coming to this base. She didn’t mind it till she saw that meteorite and felt strange since like starting to remember past accidents and remembering her late parents. The more she remembers her past, the more she feels like someone else. Karin on the verge of breaking down says she is scared. However Sora apologizes that he can’t help simply because he notes her friends have come looking for her. He leaves it to them to console Karin. As the quartet return to the after-festival party, they bump into Mikaze’s sister. She tells them to go see their parents quickly. After they leave, she notes Mikaze can be reckless all she wants because it is her role to be the perfect sister. The girls reconcile with their parents as we see Reynolds and the elderly Kouchin owner having a chat together. He’s trying to hit on her, is he? But with an umbrella? Well, it has more use than any jewellery.

Episode 9
Mikaze and co successfully intercept another comet but they are soon rushed into a helicopter as soon as they land. Seems the emergency is a hotspring vacation trip for the first batch of Shimojijima Base’s staff. Kisaragi calls Iwasaki for an important talk. Something about Mikaze’s interrogation committee and the actions they’ve taken are unusual. They think they’re trying to hide something and wish to keep this a secret from Mikaze. However the girls are eavesdropping nearby. Later the girls catch a bunch of otakus peeping at them. Seems they are enthusiastic about the crashed comet and the various conspiracy theories surrounding it on the internet which includes government cover up and alien invasion. However they think that ACPF is hiding something and there’s a power struggle within the organization and that the Comet Blasters are involved. During the meal, Karin becomes a glutton while drunk Kisaragi tries to make Iwasaki take responsibility for accidentally seeing her naked in the hotspring, causing everyone to misinterpret. After the girls had a short pillow fight and take another soak in the hotspring, they see the passionate otakus again. This time they show them a chart from an official website about the dramatic increase of space shuttles to the Orbital Station. They think its equipment and scientists sent there to cultivate organisms found in the comets but the girls say it’s to transport food. Back in Shimojijima Base, only Sora, Tsubasa, Fujitani and Sako are left to look after the base. Bored, eh? Yeah, all the girls are gone for vacation. The elderly Kouchin lady delivers their much awaited takeout but they get into a silly argument and spilled the food and continued fighting. Boys will be boys. Mikaze and co realizes Karin is missing so they go look for her and found her snacking in town. (Karin was spacing out throughout the whole vacation except for meal time). Though Mikaze is upset she didn’t tell them where she went, she forgives her. That night Karin couldn’t sleep and went up close to Mikaze’s face like as though she wants to kiss her! But she realizes and backs off. Karin cuddles herself in fear.

Episode 10
Mikaze and co flop in their simulator exercise. Let’s just say the ‘devastating’ effects include destruction of cities, deaths of many people (total 9 billion! That’s human population minus 3 billion!) and the world close to the ice age. The girls feel down and wonder at this rate they’ll get their Comet Blaster licence (except for Karin who is eating away like nobody’s business). If you still can’t forget Miharu’s disturbing act, she’s on the prowl again. This time force kissing an unsuspecting staff while she is changing. Mikaze and co watch a replay of the comet that destroyed the island. She notices a debris that is odd looking and wonders if the comet could change its course. They sift through a comet research website and browse through all its conspiracy theories. On a day when Shimojijima Base is to launch a mission with the Comet Blasters, suddenly communications from the Orbital Station #7 got cut off. Though it is reported as electromagnetic waves and solar wind interferences, Kisaragi notices that only communications to the TV station is broadcast but the ground base still receives nothing. Karin also notices a time lag from 0.3 seconds to 0.4 seconds between the surface and Orbital Station #7 and thinks the broadcast is not sent from space. Plus, Miharu is acting real suspicious and the orbital station team is in some sort of pinch (they’re acting defensive against some sort of threat?). Kisaragi gets a call from the main HQ to initiate Code 00, that is every ground base is to follow direct feed from the HQ. When communications recover, they receive report of several simultaneous comets so much so they need to launch 4 pairs of jets to counter them. The girls prepare to sortie but Karin starts feeling uneasy. When a comet is destroyed, Karin collapses. She is rushed off the island since the base lacks facilities. Mikaze recognizes one of the men from the committee. She realizes too late when she picks up Karin’s dropped handphone and reads disturbing texts of “Help me!”. In the end, 8 of the 12 comets are destroyed and the remaining ones crashed onto the surface with the usual investigation team taking samples.

Episode 11
Mikaze, Ayamo and Shizuha request to take leave to rescue Karin but Kisaragi declines them. However Reynolds allows Mikaze and Shizuha to go. This means Kisaragi will have to pilot with Ayamo for the missions. Mikaze and Shizuha try to search for Karin at the hospital but to their shock she isn’t listed. They earn the wrath and unpleasant stares of the injured patients as they think those kids are playing around. Outside, somebody uses a little girl to pass them a pen drive to tell them that Karin has been taken to Tsukuba Research Facility. The otaku quartet hitch them a ride there as they mention about Tsukuba’s fishy and suspicious independent existence. Also, the Star Seed programme has something to do with alien life form and the Organization has been covering it up. They think Karin might have something to do with it. Meanwhile Kisaragi-Ayamo go on a flight mission as Kisaragi remembers a horrific past whereby she was stunned after a failed interception causes deaths of many. Mikaze and Shizuha impersonate as air-cond repair personnel to enter the base with a special access card. When they reach into the room, they triggered the alarm but realize have to run for it since Karin is no longer here. They bump into one of the committee personnel, Tsukino. Seems he is on their side. On the ride out, he tells them Karin was taken when he tried to contact them and is in protective custody. He explains she is a sample. She was infected by them when the orbital station was under construction. The brains of most of the infected ones were invaded and they lost their true self. Only in her case the invasion stopped after the 1st stage and they think it had something to do with her young brain’s autistic activity. Those weird looking debris from the comet crash are Star Seeds that are sent to Earth, though origin and purpose unknown. All they know it is a threat to mankind’s existence. As Karin is the only sample left, they put her in Shimojijima Base in hopes to find a way to coexist. He didn’t expect them to be friends so fast that’s why the Organization is taking action to prevent them from gathering more data. Mikaze insists they didn’t win her over but are true friends. Due to the rapid breeding ability, those outside the atmosphere are infected, the reasons the orbital stations have gone silent. He thinks they took Karin and are going to use the orbital stations to spread the seeds even if it means destroying Earth. Seems their limo is being targeted and being shot at but it is just a decoy as the otaku quartet are inside instead. The real ones are sent to the air base as the guy says they don’t have to do anything because he’s just extending the hand of friendship to the younger generation.

Episode 12
Flashback how Sako and Miharu dreamt of completing a machine that will keep the Earth safe from the comets. In present time at Orbital Station #7, we see that the crisis is that there are 2 camps being separated. One planning on something nefarious led by Miharu, Betty and Chris while the other trying to escape led by Annette and Chizuru. Shimojijima Base gets a message from Mikaze that they’re going to rescue Karin who has been taken to Orbital Station #7. She mentions that the people in the station have been infected with an alien virus. Shizuha flies the plane low to avoid radar detection but its’ so low that YOU CAN ALMOST HIT THE TREES! Once it ran out of fuel, they abandon it in the middle of the road and ride an old guy’s truck. How many licences does Shizuha have?! Meanwhile the otaku quartet are being interrogated about Mikaze but they go on blabbing about her personal data (including her 3 sizes), likes and dislikes. The interrogator wants to know their objective so one of them spills the beans by revealing his objective is… Karin! WTF?! Then they start arguing among each other that their real objective is supposed to be watching planes. The higher ups decide not to waste time on these useless know-nothing blokes. Whether on purpose or not, man they’re funny. Miharu seems to be like in some sort of dilemma fighting with inner herself in the shower when the other team breaks through to the communication centre. They manage to relay message to Shimojijima Base that Miharu’s group have abandoned their intercept mission and are no longer under their own accord. This means Earth will be defenceless when the next comet arrives. The communication is cut off. Soon loads of armed men storm Shimojijima Base (including Kouchin) and holds everyone hostage and under interrogation. Elsewhere, Karin wakes up in a room with Miharu and her underlings. Seems they’re trying to brainwash her to become one of them evolved humans and cast away her emotions and past. That night the soldiers catch a pair of pilots trying to sneak into a jet. However they’re Sora and Tsubasa acting as decoys to let Ayamo fly off. Next morning, Mikaze and Shizuha’s journey now seems to be on boat as they near Tanegashima for the rocket launch. But they are intercepted by a naval guard. Mikaze’s sexy swimsuit seduction didn’t work as they continue to fire (they must be bad shots). Thankfully, Ayamo arrives in time to bomb and stop their pursuit. The trio reunite outside the rocket as they get in for the ride to space and get ready to save their friend.

Episode 13
Karin has mix feelings about her late dad and her friends and is in a dilemma on what to do. Mikaze is complaining about the cramp space and no windows in the craft since they have flown into space. Well, this is a supply ship after all. When they dock, they get in between with the fight between the invaders and those not affected led by Annette and Chizuru. The young ones agree to help cooperate as they make their way to Karin’s chamber. Though they are ambushed by Miharu and her team, Chizuru’s little distraction bought enough time for Mikaze to stun Miharu out. Back down at Shimojijima Base, Reynolds silences his captors a prep talk about just watching over the youths and not interfering in what they have chosen to do. Mikaze puts unconscious Miharu in a pod to be blasted safely down to Earth. But now they have a bigger problem to deal with. The mother of all comets, Nigel is dangerously close to smashing into Earth. If it happens, humanity will be wiped out. Since the other orbital stations are still cut off, they have to intercept Nigel. Who? Mikaze and co? Yup. Chizuru hands them her Comet Blaster licence. Wow. Dream come true, eh? It’s make or break time. The quartet blast into space as they transmit back down to Shimojijima Base that they have rescued Karin and their plan to intercept Nigel. I guess the captors have no choice but to shut up and watch as Kisaragi gives the orders for Meteor Sweepers to back the girls up. During the course of the intercept, Nigel changes its trajectory not once but twice. Chizuru wants them to abort their mission seeing that if they fire their missiles too close, they may be caught in its explosion. However Mikaze and the rest continue with their mission because they trust Karin’s instincts of changing the angle and degree to launch the missile. Finally they launch the missile to destroy it for good. Six months down the road, ACPF launches a committee to investigate the cause of strange occurrences on-board the orbital stations. Everyone up there including the original Comet Blasters has been brought back down for medical check-up. Sako’s jet machine is complete as we see the newly named Stratos 4 being launched from the ground to space with Mikaze and co riding in it.

Stratos 4 (OVA) 2004

Apparently that isn’t the end yet as a year later, the OVA for the series came out, though it is only 2 episodes long. Stratos 4 (OVA) 2004 is a continuation of what happened at the end of the TV series. Rest assured more drama and revelations are guaranteed.

Episode 1
The OVA starts off in episode 1 with the quartet are landing Stratos 4’s maiden flight but the leg is jammed. Well, somebody is going to have to fix it. Why are they picking on Karin since she’s small? Anyway the landing is successful as everyone takes a picture. As they party at Kouchin, drunk Sako is upset that the girls renamed his Stratos Zero to what it is now when he wasn’t looking. Meanwhile the news reports about the reparation of the orbital stations that aren’t in used. Though the report covers up what happened on-board the station, Reynolds mentions that the mysterious existence of aliens is kept hidden from everyone. The girls take time out at the lake. Ayamo and Karin have a diving competition (it’s hell funny to see scaredy Karin being chased by Alice). As they dive deeper, they see a certain blue below but think they see an alien. Turns out to be Kisaragi and her air traffic controller colleague, Touko Mukai. Back home resting, Karin collapses but it’s because she ate the brandy cake Ran is supposed to deliver to the base. Next day, Shimojijima Base gets a surprise visit from Annette and Chizuru. Seems they are here to seek Reynolds advice on what to do with a video recording tape they found on Miharu. Everyone related is called to watch the video. Including Rin whom many knew as the legendary Jet Rin. Except for Mikaze, Ayamo and Shizuha. How embarrassing. A great legend right under their nose and they didn’t even know it. Proves that they need to study more.

The video seems to be recorded from a time when she was still married to Sako. Miharu made a video diary and slowly at each recording, she turned into from someone cheerful and happy to someone depressed, ruthless and cold as we know her (something about the medical check-up she frequently receives at the base). The video ends with her fighting within herself like as though she’s possessed and wanting to delete the video but couldn’t. Reynolds and Rin tell them about the Star Seed programme that is run in secrecy. Details were tightly kept though they always mention it was for the benefit of mankind. Reynolds, Rin and her husband Mikuriya tried to talk to the higher ups but the truth never came out. That’s when they decide that they need to leave the future to the youngsters. And this is where Shimojijima Base came in. Even so, there were many parties opposing it. They made it in time for Karin but couldn’t for Miharu. Meanwhile Sako visits Miharu lying in an incubator. On his way out, he was purposely led to a secluded area in which Betty and Chris wants him to relate a message to Reynolds. They are cured thanks to Mikuriya. But at this rate, Comet Blasters will be torn down before the next great influx of comets. They also wish him to get them out but a guard comes by so they have to stop their conversation. More partying at Kouchin. Kisaragi is drunk enough to think Chizuru is trying to hit on Iwasaki so much so she becomes bold to tell her off not to lay her hands on her beloved. Next morning, Chizuru and Annette ride with Mikaze and Ayamo respectively in their jets while Karin-Shizuha follow behind in another. The pros show them how it’s done by flying closely just over the atmosphere and then free fall close to the ground before resuming the thrusters. The young ones are really on the edge of their seat. The ride of their lives you could say. Then they want to see the heroes who saved the world their worth. Shimojijima Base gets an emergency message from HQ saying that Orbital Station #7 is falling into the atmosphere due to being hit by space debris. Sako thinks this is what they may have been talking about.

Episode 2
The minimal crew of 3 on-board Orbital Station #7 are trying to fix things in episode 2 but it looks bleak. Plus, one of them is injured. The girls have to cut short their fun and stop the station from falling. They receive a message from HQ that Annette and Chizuru are to head to Tanegashima to fly up to the station. However the odd thing is that they told no one that they are in Shimojijima. Seems Tsukino is here too. Mikaze thinks it is his doing but he denies of being responsible of something this big and is just here on vacation. Before they depart, Chizuru gives Mikaze a form, which turns out to be an exam subscription to be a full fledge Comet Blaster. Once Chizuru and Annette enter the orbital station, they access the situation and get to work immediately. The girls are admiring Stratos 4 but Mikaze feels empty about their achievements. Reynolds replies about the greatest honour of accomplishment for completing a task but that is only momentary. Since people desire to feel that feeling again, that’s why people keep growing. This ups Mikaze’s confidence. Then the emergency siren sounds. The updated status of the falling orbital station will pass their base so they are being told to destroy it. Though they have confirmation that the 3 crew members have been evacuated, Chizuru and Annette’s status are unknown. Mikaze and co decide to volunteer to do the job (much to Kisaragi’s chagrin).

Once they blast-off, they receive communication from Chizuru. Seems the bridge they ‘missed the last train’ as the connecting bridge collapsed. Reynolds wants the mission to be aborted but Chizuru says to carry on and not to worry about them. They are going to escape via machine that Mikaze and co first went up in and left behind. However after the calculations, the time frame between their escape and missile launch is only 2 seconds! Can they really pull this one off? Well, they’re pros, right? And they even seem confident of it. In precise timing, the missile is launched and destroys the station. And yes, Chizuru and Annette escapes in time as their pod is seen entering the atmosphere. A recovery team will rendezvous with them when they land. In the aftermath, Mikaze and co decide to leave to take the exam to become Comet Blasters. Hey, they can’t stay as Kouchin’s waitresses forever, can’t they? Too bad Alice will sorely miss them. Sora and Tsubasa too have found their own goal as they’re leaving on a mission as test pilots. Sako approves of them. Since the lack of real Comet Blasters are a serious issue, they need all the experience they can get. Seems Iwasaki is taking up that offer. Poor Kisaragi will miss him. Though Fujitani offers to take care of her and Ran. What do you think Kisaragi’s reaction is? It’s bad enough he suggested that but putting rival girls together (at least to Kisaragi)? And this has got to be the best quote of the series: “Even chickens will fly into the sky with their own wings one day”. Chickens fly? That’s as close as saying pigs will fly one day too. They narrate about being grateful to have a nice warm place to return to even if it takes years.

Stratos 4 Advance

Well, I guess this series was famous enough to warrant another OVA approximately a year later in 2005, this time calling it Stratos 4 Advance. Instead of just a couple of episodes, at least this one has half a dozen. Besides the unfolding drama and revelation, we have new characters and faces. But still, our main heroines are the one that will hog the limelight for all kinds of reasons.

Episode 1
Iwasaki, Annette and Chizuru are testing the new intercept system of SX 1. Though there were minor problems, the simulation result is a success. The new commander, Diane Earhart seems a little cocky and lets them know that she’s in charge of this project. Back on Shimojijima Base, they get 3 new pilot candidates: Kiriko Aoki, Mirei Tachibana and Mana Ninomiya. Kisaragi brings them to the main tower and introduces them to Reynolds. Then they get a signal from a plane requesting to land. Turns out to be Mikaze and co! Why are they back? Because they flopped the exams! SAY WHAT?! But all of them flop together? That’s what best friends are for. They stick together thick and thin. Just kidding. Kisaragi thinks that the Organization may be behind this but Reynolds tells her not to jump the gun as they don’t have proof. Mikaze and co see Sako depressed and find out that Stratos 4 has been confiscated by the Organization for flying without permission. Speaking of which, Stratos 4 ends up in a base where Sora and Tsubasa are working as test pilots. They find out Stratos 4 was believed to be illegally assembled so the main HQ ordered its confiscation but was brought here under the guise of testing it. Sora and Tsubasa feel that Shimojijima has a bad reputation around and should be careful and not let their guard down. As Mikaze and co share their depression with Sako, Karin blames herself for making the rest fail but they dismiss it. Then they get a surprise when they see Iwasaki. Seems he is back since unmanned intercept programme is doing fine and they don’t need the extra personnel. After he imparts some comforting words of never giving up (in the form of sugar canes and storms?), the girls get their confidence back. He has good news for them. He passes them badges from Reynolds that will make them full time pilots of this base. Just when Sako is going back to work, it’s his turn to hear the depression of the newbies. They lament their bad luck like getting no place to stay (initially it should have been Kouchin but Mikaze and co return so there’s no room. So they’ll be staying at Touko’s place). This place is turning like a church confession, eh?

A news report about the unmanned intercept system and with its success, the roles of Comet Blaster and Meteor Sweeper will diminish. Plus with the downsizing factor, this will save their budget. Reynolds and Kisaragi discuss about this plan that was suggested by Jun Mikuriya in which Reynolds and Rin strongly opposed because it didn’t take into consideration a pilot’s perspective. So why now? Because machines don’t object. The main HQ can take control of it even if the operator disobeys or disagrees. Reynolds assures he’ll work hard to protect the future of the young ones. Another party to welcome the newbies at Kouchin. But the odd part is that the newbies are made to serve the guests! Yeah, this must be some sort of tradition. How does it feel for once to be not serving, Mikaze and co? The newbies sure came to a weird place. That’s Shimojijima for you girls. Drunken Kisaragi cuts in Ran serving Iwasaki. Then she’s happy that she heard him say that he’s glad to see her again. Actually it was Alice and Shogun. She lost to a cat… Reynolds and Rin discuss about Mikaze and co’s failure which isn’t possible since there isn’t any reason for them to fail. Plus, there’s a conspiracy to isolate all those from Shimojijima since Iwasaki was sent back too. As for Sora and Tsubasa, the base is under the control of Mitter Hiber Company, an independent base from the main HQ that manufactures intercept crafts.

Episode 2
The newbies are wondering why Kisaragi is late when she’s supposed to be their instructor. Their worst fears confirmed when it’s Mikaze and co who will train them. Oh sh*t. Well, it’s part of the bigger plan to have the quartet learn things from a different perspective. However they’re still the same. Mikaze is a little bossy while Karin is too technical with her instructions. Then a pair of new MiG jets land at the base. It’s Sora and Tsubasa with the person who designed these improved jets, Ludwig Mitter Hiber or Lud for short. And as for the newbies’ training, they’re all forgotten… Meanwhile Diane on-board Orbital Station #8 detects Comet Clara heading towards Earth. She decides to intercept it using the unmanned craft despite knowing their base is still in test operation. So much so she relegates Chizuru and Annette to operator-like duties in operating the unmanned crafts. Back at Kouchin, another round of party (the newbies continue being waitresses). The usual drunken Kisaragi trying to ‘protect’ her Iwasaki, the usual spat between Tsubasa with Mikaze and Ayamo, Sako getting real drunk and loud and challenging Lud to a drink while Alice really has gotten a bigger belly! The next day, Diane launches an intercept towards Clara while Shimojijima Base is made on standby. Though Clara is destroyed, it missed the core and is split into 2 big chunks. One of them falling towards Okinawa. It’s scramble time. However Diane thinks their 75% goal is achieved and that nothing more can be done. Her attitude pisses off Chizuru. Kisaragi is shocked to see Mikaze and co riding the new jets to take out the fragments instead of the guys (they seem to have agreed to give the girls hog the spotlight). Lud teases Kisaragi about disobeying orders and being disordered, something she lectured him earlier on. Now she’s made to eat his words. Mikaze and co blast-off in the much faster MiGs and successfully destroy the fragment. Mikaze takes a liking for this jet so much so she wants to make it hers as she scribbles her signature on its body when they return.

Episode 3
The newbies seem to outrun the ‘veterans’ in a running training! Mikaze and co ditch them when they see Rin arriving. They follow her and to their surprise see her, Reynolds, Kisaragi, Iwasaki and Fujitani in a room consoling Chris and Betty. As mentioned by Reynolds, they’ve been released and will soon resume their space duty so he invited them here to relax. When Sako finds out about them, he rushes down there and begs them to give any info about Miharu. The duo realize that he was the one who relayed the message so they say Miharu was taken to a further research place at Tsukuba due to her long term infection which will take longer to heal. While Mikaze and co discuss about the return of the duo, Ayamo’s careless mouth and suspicions towards them made Karin apologize (because she was like them before, infected). Kisaragi, Iwasaki and Fujitani try to go invite a very depressed Sako to a welcoming party for Betty and Chris. Then Kisaragi gets a call from Lud. Seems he is flirting with her and the thing is, she seems to enjoy it! Sako must be pissed that she’s acting so lovey-dovey and ‘borrows’ her phone. Actually he wants to speak to Sora and Tsubasa. He begs them to find more info on Miharu at Tsukuba. He can’t do it from the base because he can’t risk Shimojijima and everyone to be put in danger for his selfish reasons (it’s a good move since Shimojijima may or may not be under surveillance). They agree. At Kouchin, Sako is back to his drunken self while Mikaze and co are serving as waitresses. Well, it’s punishment for letting the newbies run all day (they nearly died of dehydration!). The newbies get excited to meet Betty and Chris. However the duo seem to get startled and remembering traumatic memories of just about anything. They decide to go out for a walk to cool their heads. Karin tells them that if they keep running, it doesn’t matter they run to. Seems it strikes a chord within them. Then Mikaze catches up with them and offers them to stay for the night. While Mikaze talks to Chris in the bath, Ayamo has a ‘confrontation’ with Betty. She tells them that everyone has been working hard with them in mind and not to put on those long faces. Betty however says they aren’t superman. Ayamo wants them to remain as their absolute goal till they reach their dream of going to space. Next day at the pier, Karin meets Betty and Chris as Karin tells them about her friends, how they treat her well. She loves them all and that’s why she’s not afraid anymore. Plus, she knows that there isn’t anything inside them anymore. They thank her and their confidence return. Betty and Chris soon left for the Orbital Station #8 and are being given a big coverage. Mikaze asks if what Karin told them is true that they’re not infected anymore but Karin says that it was a like because she’s not an expert and doesn’t know much. Plus, Rin said the same thing too. Haha! Big liar and one big joke. But it cheered them up, right?

Episode 4
Betty and Chris reunited with Chizuru and Annette on-board the orbital station. However they still remain distant despite Chizuru and Annette holding no grudges. Back on Shimojijima, the girls are wondering why Ayamo is down. They think it’s some letter she received it. Karin saw its contents but couldn’t read its ‘calligraphic’ handwriting. Meanwhile a little girl named Rei is being observed in a greenhouse. Tsukino pays the researcher a visit as he is here to see Mikuriya as appreciation for the treatment and return of Comet Blasters (though Miharu is still in recuperation). Tsukino gives them some package. Then they talk about Rei who has some perfect memorization in which she can reproduce things after seeing them once. Something about part of the evolution caused by the seed. The researchers get upset when Tsukino tells them that from a scientist’s point of view, it is natural they want more research samples since Rei isn’t confirmed to be carrier and Miharu is the only one left. He asks them if Rei is actually happy because he doesn’t feel the least bit of happiness from these pictures. Plus, it’s like as though she’s conveying her views like a bird in a cage. He warns that ‘they’ might be using force to bring them to their side and that their loved ones on Shimojijima may be in danger. Mikaze and co get a webcast communication from Chizuru and Annette. They learn about their Comet Blaster exam failure but encourage them not to give up. The girls also hope that their relationship with Betty and Chris will get better. That night, everyone holds a BBQ party by the shore to cheer up Ayamo. Shizuha tries to put on a fireworks display (she even has a freaking certification licence to launch fireworks!), but it turns out to be a small fart. Ayamo feels they’re pushing themselves so Mikaze tells her off that it’s her who is doing so. She pleads to tell them what’s bugging her. However she’s still confused and can’t tell them yet. Later they move on the sparklers and launching paper rockets but flop big time. Then over the hills, an independent fireworks display lights up the night sky. This lifts Ayamo’s gloominess as she is determined to go to space with everyone because the Comet Blasters are waiting for them. Likewise, Chizuru and Annette hold a little party for their returning mates and hope to start anew.

Episode 5
Sako receives a call from Sora and Tsubasa saying that they will debut in a test plane called Salsa Hawk tomorrow. When Mikaze doesn’t know who Chuck Yeager is, Sako gives her an earful. For those who don’t know, as Karin explained, he’s the first guy who broke through the sound barrier aboard X-1. She learnt it from TV the other day, not the textbooks. Is that a good thing? Meanwhile Chizuru and Annette are suggesting to Diane about their plan of intercepting comets at higher orbits. However she shoots their idea down since it relegates SX 1 to a gas carrier role. But when they bring the idea that she will be viewed highly by the HQ, she accepts. However if it fails, she will have them take full responsibility. The original Comet Blasters are to bring back their glory days as they initiate to intercept comet Helena. Diane also launches SX 1 but wants to keep good data on it and forget about the piloted crafts. The intercept is successful and as predicted, a large debris falls into Earth. Shimojijima’s Meteor Sweepers head into action but it will only be Iwasaki and Fujitani. Mikaze and co are grounded by Kisaragi as she doesn’t want them to pull another crazy stunt like before. Tsubasa and Sora are also flying Salsa Hawk at the same time but they notice there is discrepancy in the data sent by HQ to Shimojijima of the debris. Lud mentions that his system is flawless so it must mean that the data from HQ is wrong. They relay their calculations to Shimojijima though Kisaragi is in a dilemma if their source is trustworthy and if so why HQ is sending the wrong data. Iwasaki and Fujitani wonder which data to rely and after confirming with Tsubasa and Sora’s various calculations, they decide to trust theirs. Then an anonymous sender sends them top secret info from the Cosmic Emergency Management Agency’s database and this confirms the large discrepancy. The sender turns out to be the otaku quartet. However even with their altered course, it may be too late to take it out at their position. Just then, Salsa Hawk is flying close by. They are going to fire a shot to deflect it. However they will be caught in its explosion. The rest disapprove of this but they’re stubborn. So badly want to be heroes, eh? Want to be the new Yeager, eh? Fujitani and Iwasaki are fired up and will get in as close as possible and make the plasma discharge away from them. They’re going to show the amateurs the pros they are in the first place. The plan goes well but the Salsa Hawk gets caught in the explosion and spirals out of control. It is calculated that they will crash at Miyako airfield. Seems that they have ejected prior to the crash. When the rescue party arrive, they see the duo badly injured, messed up as they slowly make their trudge towards them. They must be real happy that for the moment, they’re heroes. In the aftermath, though their intercept is a success, they are sent back to Shimojijima for disobedience. Lud tried to fight on their behalf but it’s too much when you crash a bloody expensive test plane and cause an airfield to close.

Episode 6
The Shimojijima gang are discussing about the meddled data and think that someone with influence could only pull off something this bold. Sora and Tsubasa are in hospital as the rest pay them a visit. Seems Karin is eating the food meant for them. Ran then gets a call from Mikuriya and soon she steps on a plane piloted by Shizuha and Mikaze to Tsukuba. Kisaragi spots Touko meeting Tsukino and happily receiving a package so she starts panicking albeit keeping it to herself. The newbies barge into the gang at hospital and tell about the secret rendezvous between Touko and Tsukino so the guys suggest Ayamo and Karin to tail them. They follow them to the movies and nothing much happened. Why is Karin enjoying the movie so much? Ran and co have entered Tsukuba and she has to stop her parents engrossed in their work to have a decent chat. They soon learn that Rei is the daughter of Miharu and Sako. Karin was also here before she met them. As explained, Rei was isolated as a sample of an infected body like how Karin was. When parasites attached to comets fall to Earth was first discovered, ACPF were divided into 2 factions: One that wishes to protect Earth from comets and the other that wishes to utilize the creatures for humanity’s future. Years of research shows that the brain becomes more active though there is no proof it will be beneficial to humanity. To determine that, they are doing research away from Ran. When Ran sees Rei’s drawings, she goes into her room and has a nice chat with her. Kisaragi is still uneasy about the secret rendezvous but gets red-faced when she learns that she was sent by Reynolds to retrieve some document he requested from Tsukino. Since it was him, Reynolds didn’t really want to face him. Then they receive an emergency call from HQ that a cluster type comet is in sight. The standby Meteor Sweeper team are to prepare to go into action. Though the newbies are supposed to take this one, seems they’ve been left out again in the end. When will they get their first mission? Later Kisaragi tries to make Iwasaki jealous by saying she has received numerous gifts and love calls from Lud and an invitation to his homeland. But that guy couldn’t be bothered and ‘runs away’. Even if that rival ‘demon’ (Ran) is gone, it’s not like it’s getting any easier.

Shizuha and Mikaze also see Miharu lying unconscious in a capsule in another room and are being told she’s been that way since that day. After they left, Miharu’s eyes open. That night, the gang plan to ‘kidnap’ Rei out of the base. Ran’s parents will have to stay and pretend to continue their research so as not to cause any suspicion. As they leave, they are surprised to see the otaku quartet who are offering to help them get away. Mikaze suddenly remembers that she forgot to snap a picture of Miharu as requested by Sako so she rushes back in alone. However she doesn’t see Miharu in the capsule anymore and the next thing she knows, somebody points a gun at her and pulls the trigger as surprised Mikaze accidentally clicks the flash shot of the camera button. The rest are waiting for her outside, not knowing what has just happened. Who could it be? Tsukino? I mean, we see him stomping out his cigarette near Mikaze’s dropped camera. But I think it’s a female and should be Miharu. Why? Because I saw boobs shadow during that flash.

Stratos 4 Kanketsu Hen

If that sudden and abrupt end was somewhat unsatisfying, that’s because the continuation and climax of this series continues and ends about 9 months later with a couple of more OVAs. As the title suggests, Stratos 4 Kanketsu Hen (final chapter) is definitely the last run of the series. So they leave you hanging for more than half a year wondering what the heck just happened, eh? Besides, it’s a direct continuation from where we were left off. Felt like taking a break after all that tension, no?

Episode 1
Iwasaki-Fujitani and Ayamo-Karin are trying out a new formation that has no precedent. Shizuha returns inside to look for Mikaze but is shocked to see her unconscious and her rib side bloody wounded. Though Mikuriya treats her and her condition is stable (the bullet just grazed her rib), Shizuha informs the Shimojijima gang what happened so Reynolds suggests that they leave Mikaze in their care while the rest return. Miharu is seen escaping through the forest. She is surprised to see a gun in her hand and tosses it away. She takes refuge in an abandoned hut and is seen fighting her inner self in pain. As the otaku quartet drive along, the come into several professional secret service agents (Ran singlehandedly taking them down as she thought they’re the enemy). They warn them about the airport under heavy security and will be arrested if they arrive. They also have provided a detour route for them to head to a safer place. Shimojijima gang receive information about twin comets that are heading towards Earth but this time coming from the direction of the sun. This means the odds are stacked against them. Sako has to put aside his personal issue to search the whole wide world for Miharu to prepare for the incoming interception. Ayamo suddenly gets a call that her mom has collapsed from overworking so Rin tells her to go to her mom’s side. Because of that, Meteor Sweepers will have a change in line-up. This means the newbies will get to see action for the first time. Hooray! This isn’t a false alarm, right? Orbital Station #3 and #8 will be intercepting the twin comets. The Comet Blasters head into action and blast one of the comets away (after getting around and playing with Diane’s pride to approve their plan). As predicted, a large debris splinters off as Meteor Sweepers. Iwasaki-Fujitani is having a tough time targeting since the sun is in their eyes but they manage to pull it off. However though successful, a smaller splinter escape its blast. So this is where the newbies and Karin as backup come in. Though nervous and ‘under pressure’, they did a decent job on their first interception.

But it isn’t a happy ending yet because Orbital Station #3 reports that their comet has changed its course and heading straight down at Shimojijima. Reynolds orders the evacuation of the tower and shift all control system to underground. Kisaragi and Touko pack the important data but it was too late when the comet crashes into the airfield. The shockwave shattered glasses and Kisaragi is devastated to see Touko unconscious. Thankfully her injury is only minor from the glass splinters and after treatment, she resumes her duty. The newbies felt like they have aged 10 years but now isn’t the time to rest. As night falls, everyone goes to pick up the debris over the airfield. Tsukino pays a visit to Mikuriya and from the way he said things, his side thinks the aliens will be highly useful to human evolution. What Mikaze and co are doing is considered to be foolish in future history. However Mikaze gives him a piece of her mind. She feels that it is important to protect the people and place she loves and that’s why she’ll continue to shoot down comets. Tsukino gave out a heartily laughter not because he is mocking her but is amazed by her honesty. As a reward he tells her that her pals are at Gifu Base, supposedly where Lud is and relatively a safe place at the moment. The Comet Blasters are surprised to receive new info of triple comets heading towards Earth from the sun’s direction. Ran wakes up dead in the middle of the night to see Rei sketching those approaching comets.

Episode 2
Diane and the Comet Blasters discuss about the impending triple comets named Alpha, Beta and Gamma. With the resources they have, they may be able to destroy 2 of them but not the third. Any one of the comets crashing into Earth means half of the world will see Apocalypse soon. Worse come to worse, they’ll have to ram into it and if that doesn’t work, well, they hope a certain person can pull something off. Hah! Always relying on that person, huh? Well, she’s got a good track record doing so. Ran, Shizuha and Rei are at Lud’s Gifu Base. Ran thanks him for taking them in though it may put him in danger. Though he says he’s a fan of Shimojijima, Shizuha comments that he’s more of a fan of Kisaragi. Lud wants to show Shizuha something. Tsukino wakes up from a dream whereby he left his sister for a ‘check-up’ but promised to return. His sister is Karin?! News all over the world report the incoming comets, causing a little panic. Karin gets a call and order from Reynolds that she needs to head to Gifu and a transportation is on the way: Tsukino. In the car, Tsukino seems nervous. He mentions that he isn’t planning anything sneaky and did not break the promise he made that day. Karin smiles and thanks him. Mikaze too makes her way to Gifu as Shizuha picks her up in a helicopter. Ayamo also returns to Gifu soon after her mom’s condition stabilizes. The quartet are happy to reunite at Gifu. Lud leads them to show them a surprise: Not only one Stratos 4 but two of them! Wow! Who else is more qualified to pilot them? That’s why Lud called them all here. Comet Blasters go into action with SX1 while all Meteor Sweepers below get ready on standby. Kisaragi will be in flying action too. The interception begins with SX1 successfully taking out Alpha. Then the Comet Blasters blast Beta but as predicted it splits into 13 fragments. This is where Meteor Sweepers come in. Then zooming pass them are Mikaze and co in their upgraded Stratos 4s. Lud explains that he discussed with Reynolds about the use of Stratos 4 in this mission and their goal is to destroy Gamma. It’s all for the future of mankind. Mikaze and co enter into space and Gamma is in sight. They launch their missile and successfully destroy it. Everyone below rejoice that they get to live for another day as our heroes and heroines return home.

ARMAGEDDON did not happen…
Ah yes. The people of Earth can once again live another day. What a nice happy ending. But wait. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS HALF-ASSED ENDING?! Why half-assed? There were a few more issues that I was pondering and bugging my mind like hell. For instance, what happened to Miharu? Okay, she escaped from the facility and is running around like a mad woman. So is she really cured? I thought she and Sako would finally be reunited somehow but erm… Did we see anything like that? That final scene whereby the end credits were rolling, I thought it was some flashback of how Sako and Miharu met because they looked a little different. Thankfully, I read somewhere that he finally went to get her. Because of things like this, the end to the series overall seems kinda unsatisfying as there are many unloose ends that hasn’t been tied up or explained. Unfortunately, this is an original anime series and not based on any manga or even being adapted into any (at least not that I know of) so lots of things to me were like, “What happened? Who? How? When? Why?”. So hanging stuff like the mystifying relationship between Tsukino and Karin, the intriguing failure of Mikaze and co’s Comet Blaster exam, the kidnapping of Rei (I’m sure the Organization won’t just let her go so easily and it will be a matter of time they’ll hunt her down, right?), the reason why other people are singling out Shimojijima people, the otaku quartet’s role in it all and certain mysteries of the comets (like the ability to change its course) make the series a happy but weak ending.

Enough on the bashing of the ending. Maybe I was expecting too much. So on to the characters. Yeah well, what more can I say. Each of the main quartet of heroines have their own personality that makes them likeable. Mikaze is your typical reckless and underachieving slacker but we see her grow and pull through to become a reliable person. Maybe it’s her recklessness. Tough girl Ayamo is always hot-headed while studious Shizuha is pretty amusing herself because she has all sorts of licence to pilot any sort of vehicles. She’s not just a pretty face, you know. Karin’s monotonous speech may sound ominous but her tendency to get absorbed into her own world and her enormous appetite is what you’ll remember her most. Maybe it’s the trauma of the experiment. But it’s a good thing she fit in and found herself comfortable with her friends who accepted her for who she is. These 4 always seem to steal the limelight whenever a big crisis is approaching Earth. Or rather they are given the chance to shine even further especially Iwasaki and Fujitani who are more than happy to give them hog the centre stage and take credit. I guess Sora and Tsubasa even accepted that they won’t be the main stars. So far everybody has always leave it to them to come up with a way to save the day. So far so good, eh? I hope they can continue riding on this luck. No offense but the girls do have the necessary skills to carry out their missions but if the famed Comet Blasters or the experienced Iwasaki-Fujitani pair could have thought about it and worked, then they would have done it, right?

Alice and Shogun are a bunch of funny cats. You’ll notice that they have a mind of their own in the sense that it’s like their previous life was a human being. In cat speech, they even have their own thoughts and comments about certain stuff and they sure do like to hitch a ride on the jet planes. Fortunately it’s either they pick the wrong plane to sneak in (as the rest blast-off in another one) and getting disappointed thereafter that they chose wrongly or if they hit the jackpot, they’ll be taken out by the pilots. Do cats want to go into space that bad? Well, the first living thing in space was a dog. It’s also funny to see Alice always love ‘picking’ on Karin. Seems that girl has a fear of cats and it’s hilarious to see her get chased around by Alice. But the tables are turned with the arrival of the newbies because they love her and it’s that fat cat’s turn to run away. Speaking of the 3 newbies, I felt they somehow didn’t make quite an impact on the series. I thought they would at least be rivals or enthusiastic trainees but all we see them as a group of girls lamenting the lack of chance to get into some action. It’s like they’re some sort of minor characters made to fill in the void if Mikaze and co aren’t around. They got sidelined very often so much so you’d wonder when they’re going to shoot down real asteroids for good. And when they finally do, it’s not like anything grand or what. Still, it is Mikaze and friends who do a better job and yeah, steal the limelight.

The other supporting characters are pretty amusing in their own way. Kisaragi only have eyes for Iwasaki and is always trying to hit on him but to no avail. So when Fujitani tries to hit on her, she turns him down. That’s why she’s single for so long. If she’s not doing that or being at work at her air traffic controller tower, she’d be reprimanding Mikaze and co for their recklessness. Probably she does that half the time. Sako is a great mechanic but sometimes I feel he is a little annoying because he would start screaming and reminiscing about Miharu. I understand that his love for her is great but to do it every moment when he thinks of her? Still, he displays a strong character by temporarily casting aside his personal emotions and reorganizes his priorities to defend Earth. Tsukino is an enigmatic character. His actions of helping Shimojijima seem like he has an ulterior motive. It’s not what he does, it’s the way he does it. I’m thinking he may be playing the role of the villain so that the gang can improve, push ahead and advance forward. Reynolds is a good commander of the base and he understands the young ones very much. I mean, he always does things and have in mind that old people like them should just step aside and watch over the young ones because it is their future. Future, eh? Well, considering kids like Mikaze, there are good and bad points. And that new commander Diane, all I can say is that she’s an arrogant b*tch who cares nothing about getting praised and commendation. Good thing she doesn’t have much screen time and in the face if the comets do come crashing into Earth, from whom and where shall she get her acclaims? And Lud? He’s just a nice guy who lends his base and planes in the final hour.

The flow of the story would’ve been easier to follow if they had not put in complicated stuff like those Star Seed and aliens sending parasites via comets to Earth. So what the heck are the aliens doing that for? Whatever their reason, they really do love targeting Earth, right? Apparently the TV series is about the main quartet of heroines in a conflict within themselves and overcoming the problems they faced whether it’s about acceptance or family history. Say, I thought we’d get to see some of their family members later on but I guess they were just making a single cameo appearance. And Ayamo’s mom who collapsed felt like a little side distraction that doesn’t make any ripples in the hearts of viewers. After the TV series ended, the OVAs felt like delving deeper into the drama and conspiracy of the organizations and the alien seeds. Do we really need this kind of twist? Well, it beats watching repetitively every darn episode the girls shooting down comets because it’s their job, then go home and celebrate at Kouchin. I guess they need to know why they are shooting down asteroids and even if that human evolution research explanation sounds far-fetched or that partial infection of some crew members turning them into something else against their will sounds like crap, that’s not really important, right? What is important is their friendship, trust and bond that will ultimately save the world and defend it from future attacks. Or else we wouldn’t be sitting here so comfortably watching animes. Oops. Sounds like my selfish view.

The tactical strategy seems pretty cool. That’s only because I don’t understand the mumbo jumbo when they’re giving orders during missions. Seems all like Greek to me. So I just enjoy the cool CGI effects while letting the dialogue into one ear and out the other. Besides, I may not be right but the titles of each episode felt like military air force terms or codes from familiar ones like “Fox One”, “Tally Ho!”, “Engage” and “Mission Abort” to not so familiar ones such as “Checking Six”, “Go Gate” and “Target Merge”. Another thing to note is the calculations and the predictions of the comets whether it is their trajectory or being split into fragments. If they can predict with near perfect accuracy of it (including the speed of analysis and recalculation), imagine this system which can be used for other stuff, right? I’m sure they can use it to predict when the next comet will hit Earth if they ever upgrade it. Speaking of fanservice, all I can say that it’s a mild case for this series. I’m not sure about the designs of the suits the girls wear when they pilot the jets but it felt like a cross between an astronaut and an F1 racer. Look at all the curves on the suit, maybe that’s why they look sexy. Plus, how come when they pilot the jets, they have to be in a position that’s akin to riding a motorcycle? Wouldn’t it be easier in a sitting position like all other normal jets? Fanservice is the only reason I can think of. Don’t they look sexy and turn on in that position? Not to me. Besides the lack of swimsuit episodes in this series, probably you’d get your fanservice fix while the girls are sleeping or the random poses of the girls in the mid-intermission (which is more evident in the OVAs).

So with the destruction of triple comets, I doubt that this will be the last time to whoever is sending those asteroids. But we all can breathe easy because with young girls like Mikaze and co, we can feel safe. Hey, come to think of it, why the heck do we need girls who are still in high school to save our planet? Aren’t there people who are suited to do the job? Say like a certain Bruce’s character and his hard-bitten crew of core drillers? On second thought, perhaps watching a bunch of cute girls going into space and blasting asteroids would be better. To be safe, I’m thinking of taking my first step of precaution if ever a huge comet is coming our way. How? Better start playing that Atari’s Asteroids video game. Hey, watch me beat that high score…

Kampfer: Fur Die Liebe

September 24, 2011

When I first heard that Kampfer is going to have a second season, I was ecstatic not because I wanted to see horny girls fighting over the love and attention of some transgender guy and in a way make it a shameful distasteful lesbian showdown. But rather I wanted to find out more about the mysterious battle and other plot revolving around the fate of the Kampfer warriors. Sad to say, Kampfer: Fur Die Liebe (that’s “For The Love” in German) doesn’t even come an inch close to that. In that sense, it is such an utter disappointment.

If that wasn’t disappointing enough, wait till you hear this. When I heard it was going to be a series, my typical view is that it would span at least a dozen episodes. However, this so called sequel has only 2!!! That’s right, only a couple! I even have more fingers on 1 hand lah!!! So why the heck the misleading TV series thingy?! Why didn’t they just classify it as an OVA or something like that? Well, it did get released on the TV channels first. However… Yes, there is that ‘but’ word again. Even though they are a continuation from where we left off in the first season and named 13th and 14th episode accordingly, due to some reason, the 13th episode wasn’t aired and only the 14th one made it. So unless we wait for the DVDs to come out, we’ve only watched 1 stinking episode of this series, right? And yeah, so I waited for it to come out so that I could watch it in chronological order so that it won’t screw up my mind. Oh yeah, 2 episodes are a major headache if you don’t watch it in order (read sarcasm).

Episode 13
Yeah, this episode starts right off the bat with a fanservice note. Akane, Mikoto, Shizuku and Natsuru are staying together as a safety precaution due to the last time how Kaede singlehandedly defeated them and escaped. Akane and Mikoto are soaking in the tub and wondering why Shizuku is taking so long putting the Entrails Animals to bed. Actually she isn’t. She is trying to seduce pinned down Natsuru with her naked body! Whether he’s a boy or a girl, it doesn’t matter because it turns Shizuku on the more. Licking and caressing the body of that poor guy (or girl rather, now). Then Akane realizes Shizuku’s scheme that she’s trying to jump ahead from the rest of them and decides to go join the ‘fun’.  “Grope my boobs too!”. Can you believe a girl would say that? Then Mikoto comes in to say that the both of them are stealing ahead of her. How would she feel? What would she do? Because of that, the next day on her way to school, she seems pretty down that she’s down (mind the pun) on the pecking order. As the quartet meet outside, they encounter Kaede. Though they remain defensive it seems she is acting like as though she has no memories of what happened the other night. Shizuku calls for a meeting to find out more about Kaede? How? She slaps Hiaburi Lion awake for answers. However his weird answer about Kaede being a moderator, friend or foe has Shizuku confirming that Kaede is somehow related to them and wants everyone to keep their guard on. They think she has some kind of split personality.

Later Mikoto meets Akane at the library as they discuss about Shizuku getting ahead of them over Natsuru. Oh, so this is what is more important? Mikoto thinks that they should practise kissing each other so they could be good kissers and steal Natsuru. I guess they were desperate enough to actually start kissing each other so passionately! They’re so into it! Tongue to tongue! OMG! Desperate horny lesbians! Then when they realized the sin that they have committed, that would be the least of their worries because one of the white Kampfer girls already witnessed their unholy act. Yeah, Akane’s legs are too weak to go after her. Mikoto manages to chase her to the botanic garden whereby she meets the other white Kampfers. They tell her that they want to help her out to be together with Natsuru. They’re not kidding, right? Then they summon their Entrails Animal, Bakuhatsu Penguin! OMG! It’s the voice of Rie Kugimiya! And a tsundere one too! Ah, I remember how the characters here used to poke fun at the seiyuus of the Entrails Animals like how similar they sound. No exception here. Haha, Rie Kugimiya… Anyway the penguin is going to hypnotize Mikoto. Though she doesn’t believe it, she got easily hypnotized herself. Wow. That was fast. Oh by the way. That is all you’re going to hear from Rie Kugimiya. Ever.

Natsuru is surprised when Kaede wants to talk to him. Over the hill slope, she is trying to play mind games with Natsuru, about liking her and trying to get him to join her side. Natsuru is in a great dilemma so Kaede becomes bold as she pushes Natsuru down and will help him in making his decision to forsake his manhood without regrets. Would he pass up a chance to molest her boobs when she’s inviting him to do so? Guess not. Then Mikoto appears but she is hypnotized. Though her body is moving against her will, the real Mikoto inside could still see, hear and feel what is going on. Kaede pins down Natsuru with her magic and has Mikoto take over. She wants Mikoto to have sex with him as part of her plan to make Natsuru hers. Since Mikoto is under her grasp, the only problem lies in Akane and Shizuku. Mikoto too is in a dilemma because with her body moving on her own and preparing to have sex, it’s like she’s jumping ahead of the love game. Thankfully, no sex scenes because Shizuku and Akane are here to save the day. Though Akane fired a shot into Kaede, it seems she is able to stand up like as though nothing happened. Kaede flees while Akane gives chase. Shizuku frees Natsuru (who also then went after Kaede) and then fights Mikoto. She realizes she is under control and needs to give her a little shock to wake up. What kind of method did she employ? She jacked up both her index finger right up her ass! OMG! OMG!!! OMFG!!!!! Yeah, the shock and pain is enough to release Mikoto from her spell. And note that Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Ode To Joy in the background! Makes you want to sing along, eh?

Then when they catch up to Kaede, it seems that they are still no match for her because she gracefully evades all forms of attacks and even got them cornered. Man, you just can’t beat this girl. She is so slick in her moves. Till Natsuru comes by to save the day and protect Mikoto before she gets her brains blown by Kaede’s gun. Kaede decides to retreat and let them go. Shizuku notices that she didn’t even give her best and yet they’re struggling to beat her. Mikoto’s butt still hurts so Akane wants to take a look to see what’s wrong. Of course she doesn’t allow it. I mean, you can’t examine your own butt so somebody has to do it for you, right? Yeah, it’s just embarrassing to remember that incident. Natsuru’s mind is heavily clouded if Kaede is being controlled by the Moderators or not but vows to save her. Then it’s back to the love entanglement that we’re so familiar with. Yes, the girls pester Natsuru how far he/she went with Kaede. Uh huh. They want to know if he/she went tapping some other b*tch’s ass other than theirs (don’t look at me like that! That is what Akane really said!). I guess by now Natsuru must know what to do. That’s right: Run! Run like hell! Mikoto needs to catch up since her butt is still sore and can’t run properly. The Entrails Animals are watching as they mock how there is no cure for Natsuru’s idiocy. Not even death. Hahaha! They just love screwing with him, eh? Everybody does. Lastly we see Kaede giving her white Kampfer subordinates some great ‘rewards’ in bed. She notes she hasn’t given up on Natsuru yet and will have him come to her side.

Episode 14
This is how Natsuru got his ability to turn into a girl. He was abducted by aliens (Entrails Animals in alien outfits) and being an experiment subject!!! Oh, is this the real truth?! Heck, we all know it’s just bullsh*t. Natsuru must be feeling really violated at the end, eh? The true misadventure of this episode isn’t about cattle mutilation or anything close to an answer of what viewers would really hope for. Instead, we have a totally filler fanservice episode. Yes, you guessed it. The usual suspects duking out for you-know-who. Female Natsuru continues to be as popular as ever because she’s got the biggest boobs in town. So big that the buttons on her dress won’t hold and can be a dangerous projectile if you’re standing too close. Seriously. Because of her huge tits, Akane wonders if she’s okay not wearing any bra. Well, actually they all don’t fit anymore! It’s such a sin to have such a voluptuous body. Natsuru thinks of buying a silky bra but doesn’t have enough money. Akane suggests working part time together when the 3 stooges (that’s what I call the pushy class rep, smelling vice rep and pricey treasure) offer them to work in some posh cafe. They have no choice but to accept or else embarrassing private pictures of them will go around circulating. Isn’t that blackmail?! While Natsuru thinks he just needs to do the job, Akane is relishing the moment that it will be just the 2 of them. Shizuku is seen eavesdropping from behind the corner. The way she looks, I think she’s not going to let it have their way. Male Natsuru on his way back, his friend Mikihito Higashida invites him to a mixer this weekend. Natsuru initially turned him down due to his part time job but when he learns that their school’s idol will be making her appearance, Natsuru accepts the invitation thinking the idol will be Kaede and will protect her from all those wolfy guys. Look who’s talking.

Natsuru and Akane arrive at the supposed posh cafe. Natsuru has a weird feeling that the mixer and part time job is the same place. Could it be? Turns out this posh place is some high class cabaret as Natsuru and Akane have to reluctantly ‘serve’ their customers in bunny ears and tight outfits. Yeah, they’ve been ripped off. After that male Natsuru goes to join Mikihito and Nishino (the mixer’s organizer) and being served by not-too-happy Akane. Now, the moment they’ve been waiting for, their school idol turns out to be… Shizuku?! Such disappointment, eh? At least for Natsuru. Speaking about Kaede, she’s relaxing in her big bathtub doing some horny orgy bonding stuff with her white Kampfers. Having fun aren’t we? I’m sure Shizuku has to most fun because she’s trying to screw with Natsuru by making both his genders appear. Of course Natsuru can’t do that so one gender has to make an excuse to go away for the other to come and sit. This is getting tiring and doesn’t Natsuru see Shizuku’s sly actions by now? I’m sure the rest should’ve figured out seeing him/her tired and even his gradually unkempt clothes. Eye candy alert: Notice the few wrong cosplay outfits female Natsuru puts on are those voiced by Marina Inoue like Rio Rainbow Gate, Maria+Holic and Getsumen To Heiki Miina (and of course in Kampfer lah). Oh yeah, Mikoto is there too as a cook. She cooked 1000 curry dishes for him due to some love advice that whoever eats it won’t get sick of their lover. Crap! Total crap! You’d get sick of the curry dish and one sick tummy. Akane is upset that her little private ‘date’ with Natsuru has been interrupted with uninvited annoying pests so she decides to join in the mixer.

Nishino and Mikihito start asking Shizuku about her type of guy. Though she gave vague answers (you can probably, I mean definitely guess who he is), she turns on the question towards male Natsuru. To up the ante, she starts using her feet to caress Natsuru’s, erm… Let’s say it was in between his legs. Natsuru goes away giving an excuse he’s not feeling well but returns in his female form thinking he has nothing to be afraid as a girl. Does he think he can handle it better? However cool and smooth Shizuku continues to molest Natsuru with her feet, stripping her socks (man, she’s good in using her feet) and penetrating deeper inside!!! YEOW!!!! You can obviously see and hear the moaning and groaning Natsuru makes. Enough to send anybody into suspicious mode. It’s like she’s enjoying it. Is she? And I can’t believe the rest didn’t look underneath the table or suspect that there is something fishy going on right underneath their noses. Or rather the table. They just stared in disbelief while Natsuru is taking in all the painful pleasure. Why the heck is Akane trying to do the same feet molestation to Natsuru? Kiasu. However her legs are too short so she can’t reach. Shizuku tries to force an answer out of her the kind of person she likes so Natsuru blurt out hints that may indicate Shizuku. Then she climaxes. Akane also the same (I think her feet cramped up). And they got the curry spilled on their faces. WTF?!

Male Natsuru and Akane clean up themselves after finishing their job. However they hear the 3 stooges coming so they decide to hide in the locker. I was wondering why Natsuru didn’t turn himself into a female. That would be easier, right? Unless he doesn’t want to get into more trouble by seeing their faces. Yeah, I understand that. Anyway in the tight locker, Natsuru’s towel dropped. So now he changes into a girl to that Akane won’t have anything weird poking her below. But this time her boobs are choking out the space and Akane’s towel also come loose. Akane can’t hold it anymore and needs to use Natsuru’s body to support herself. That is, she hugs her. Too bad Akane had to transform into her Kampfer version so all the tough talk of doing her in comes flying. Probably it got too hot and heat expands, right? Yeah, they drop out of the locker on the ground stark naked. Oh look, the 3 stooges found them. Just in time to snap many shots that they will use for threatening purposes in the future. See, they’re trouble all the way. And all the Entrails Animals have passed out after drinking too many liquor. Anyway they can’t because their guts are sorely sticking out. Maybe it got into their twisted system already? Yeah, their bodies are really wrinkled up. Back home, Akane is quite happy that she managed to spend some time with Natsuru. That guy on the other hand, visits the bra shop as a girl to make her purchase of the bra that she always wanted. Hey, she looks like she’s looking so forward to it. I guess having a female’s body long enough turns Natsuru into an underwear expert. Or pervert perhaps?

Crap-fer…
I have rather mixed feelings after watching both episodes. Firstly, I had a few good laughing moments because I realized that there is no other way than to enjoy it but to turn into a sadist and see Natsuru get pounded by the girls left, right, up, down, centre and everywhere. Yeah, I guess that is where the fun is, seeing how his harem girls fight over him just about everything and anything relating to him. So if you set your mind this way, you can take the distasteful humour and indecent jokes like fingers shoved up one’s ass, girls French kissing or even your toes shoved right into your most private of areas. And yes, enjoy the fanservice moments too. Secondly, my other feeling is of course the disappointment. There is really nothing that indicates of any progress of the storyline. Even if Shizuku did mention that Kaede is somewhat related to the Moderators, that is just her speculation and deduction based on what the burnt-to-a-crisp lion said as there is no solid proof. Then after that, it just went downhill all the way. But we enjoyed the thrill of the ride, didn’t we?

Basically there isn’t any development on the characters either. Kaede is still as mysterious as ever and perhaps the way she can get herself out of a corner and corner her foes is pretty amazing. Keep this up and I may find myself rooting for her instead. So does she really have a split personality or she’s just playing innocent at times? And with her loyal white Kampfers, it is just tempting enough wanting to know more about this girl who is more than meets the eye. What else can I say about that Natsuru guy/girl? He still likes Kaede but this whole Kampfer thing complicated and screwed up his life. It got worse when there are 3 girls on his side (that term is rather relative) who are shamelessly gunning after his ass too. A harem guy is supposed to have control of his harem but instead, he got controlled, overrun. Yes, that is what I’m assuming Natsuru to be. So perhaps this sequel is made to focus Mikoto and Akane to spend a little quality time with Natsuru. But alas, Shizuku is always a step ahead of them and steals the show. Too bad for the Entrails Animals. I was hoping they would appear more and at least rant more sarcasm but they’re reduced to unimportant minor mascots bumming around. It was nice of Rie Kugimiya to make a cameo. Hopefully she’ll get more shots at this if there are sequels. And perhaps this way we can add more famous seiyuus like Aki Toyosaki, Aya Hirano or even Yuu Kobayashi like to the list. Yeah, I can only imagine what kind of Entrails Animals they will voice.

I’m not too sure if there will be another sequel. Even if there is whether it is in the near future or the distant future, I hope they can advance the plot in some way and not turn it into a shameless lesbian showdown over some transgender guy. Hah. I already said that earlier on. And even if they can’t make it into a proper TV series, at least do it via OVA or ONA so at least viewers will ‘understand’ the non-standard periodic releases. For the time being, I hope Natsuru can keep his dignity, modesty and virginity all intact before the real and all hell breaks loose. Just curious, how do you have sex with a transgender? Hey, maybe Natsuru can show it to us how it’s done. Natsuru, oh Natsuru, where are you…

Otome Youkai Zakuro

September 23, 2011

If you like half-spirit female demons in kimonos and military guys, you may want to check out Otome Youkai Zakuro. For your information, I’m not the tiniest fan of either but after watching my favourite and ubiquitous high school comedy genre for too long, I thought that it will be good to ‘diversify’ once in a while into other genres. Just like how I did for other shows from time to time. And in view of this once in a while thingy, this series got picked randomly simply well, I thought the half-spirit female demons look cuter than your stereotypical ugly and vengeful ghosts. Sheesh…

Set in an alternate Japan whereby humans and spirits are co-existing side by side, it is a time whereby the country is embracing Westernization amidst their traditional culture. Don’t worry, it won’t look odd and out-of-place like what Gintama is. Due to the uneasy co-existence between both sides, the Spirits Affair is established to maintain harmony between humans and spirits.

Episode 1
The Japanese military has sent 3 of its men to participate in this programme. They are Kei Agemaki, Riken Yoshinozakura and Ganryuu Hanakiri and will be watched over by Lieutenant Takatoshi Hanadate. The men accept their orders to co-habitat with the half-spirit ladies, Zakuro, Susukihotaru and twins Bonbori and Houzuki (those killer locks remind of a certain someone in Ladies Versus Butlers). Agemaki gets Zakuro, stoic Riken with shy Susukihotaru and the young Ganryuu gets double jeopardy, oops I mean the cheeky twins. The ironic part is that Agemaki has a fear of spirits! How can he do his duty when he has this phobia? He’s going to be surrounded by more than 1 spirit, you know. Plus, Zakuro hates humans especially those who are of the Jesuit belief. Whereas Susukihotaru feels that Riken is someone big and scary. Of course you wouldn’t expect things to work out as soon as possible and bonding takes time. The men also meet other spirits in the building they are supposed to live in. They include a fox spirit Kushimatsu, the elephant spirit Amaryouju, a pair of lively pumpkin-head spirit kids, Sakura and Kiri and 3 tanuki-like servants. Agemaki must quickly get used to having spirits around him because Sakura and Kiri enjoy playing with him. Worse, Zakuro’s artefact spirit, Mamezo (I feel he’s like a horror version of Bugs Bunny) likes hanging around this ‘big brother too. Other bonding in this episode includes introducing the ladies to cow’s milk in which Zakuro completely detests. While Bonbori and Houzuki enjoy frolicking with Ganryuu, Susukihotaru finds that Riken isn’t as scary as he seems but someone kind and helpful. Zakuro is further upset by Agemaki’s cowardice of spirit when he even requests her to accompany him to the toilet! And she thought he was hugging her out of romantic gesture but the actual fact he’s just a wuss. To further improve their ties, the gang go on a hanami (flower viewing) and receive unpleasant stares from other passers-by. During the view, a lightning beast appears and unlike its tame nature, it starts attacking them. Agemaki manages to temporarily overcome his fear and safe Sakura and Kiri from harm’s way but that’s when he starts to paralyze in fear. Zakuro and co go into action to tame the beast. She takes out a sakura branch from Mamezo’s throat and with the other half-spirit ladies singing a weird but sadness-filled ritual song in the background, the branch turns into a knife to slash and calm down the beast. In the aftermath, the beast becomes docile as Sakura and Kiri play with it and the gang continue their picnic amidst the hanami.

Episode 2
Zakuro dreams whereby she was picking a fruit up the persimmon tree when she was young. She saw demons crawling up from beneath. In her fear, she carelessly climbs up further, not heeding advice to do so because it is connected to the underworld. She falls off and wakes up from the dream. During breakfast, Zakuro continues to loathe Agemaki. This time he gave her a candle for breakfast thinking spirits like her eat candles. The gang are called on their first mission. Seems there is a ghost haunting a newly constructed western hotel though it is harmless. As they meet the manager, he wants them to exterminate the spirit because his workers are getting too afraid to go to work. They split up to look for the spirit. Susukihotaru tells Riken why Zakuro is important to them and how Kushimatsu brought them all together to this place. Ganryuu seems to be able to tell the difference between Bonbori and Houzuki, much to their delight (I still certainly can’t). Then the haunting spirit appears. Though looking menacing, it’s not attacking them. Zakuro and co go into action but after slicing it, it has no effect on the spirit but the building walls got destroyed instead. The manager is furious as Zakuro explains. Taking a lit candle and approaching the spirit, the light reveals its true form, which is a very tiny and meek self. The big one is just his projected shadow. Zakuro says that there was once a shrine in this area and the construction has caused it to lose its home. Plus, the surrounding rapid development and the streets filled with light makes the spirits’ dwellings vanish so it was just trying to scare humans away. She feels humans have lost the respect for spirits. However the manager and the other humans aren’t pleased with this. You know how much it costs to build a hotel? Hanadate arrives to quell the commotion. He says the military would reimburse all his costs incurred and give him a piece of land as compensation. He feels this is necessary as to maintain a good relationship with both humans and spirits. He also sees the importance of both westernization and maintaining local tradition. With all sides pacified, Zakuro starts blushing when he calls to her to thank her for reminding him about important things. Hey, this cool guy must be better than a certain wuss, right? That night back home, Agemaki asks Zakuro why she is willing to fight for worthless humans. Her reply is that this is where she belongs and that there are wonderful humans (Hanadate) and wusses (Agemaki). She just had to say that, didn’t she?

Episode 3
Zakuro isn’t happy that she is the only one who isn’t on a mission but Kushimatsu says that she should first improve her relation with Agemaki since she’s always bickering. Then when an old guy comes to request for help about girls from his village who start disappearing or in worse case, spirited away, Zakuro becomes all excited to take this mission and feels they can’t wait for the rest to return. In the train, Agemaki remembers what Kushimatsu told him about how half-spirits are born. When pregnant females get spirited away, the return with half-spirits. They who are believed to be possessed by fox spirits are shunned and taken away immediately at birth. She adds that though Zakuro and co look cheerful because they have each other, deep down some wounds are hard to heal. She is trying hard because she wants to be accepted and pushes herself hard. Upon arriving in the village, they are forced to share the same room and in an awkward position. That night they can’t sleep so when Agemaki tells her about learning how half-spirits are born, she explains her mom was spirited away twice. Once before she was born and after the second time, she never return. That’s why she got worked up when she heard about girls getting spirited away and she thought she might learn something about her mom. The next day as they start their search, Zakuro meets a bunch of curious kids who have never seen half-spirits before. They played without discrimination. After the kids leave, they rest but Zakuro is suddenly under a trance. She’s going to follow the voice when Agemaki snaps her out of it. That night, she gets trance again and walks straight into the woods. Agemaki spots this and goes after her. He also sees a giant white fox spirit hovering over the sky. When he manages to catch up and snap her out of her spell, they are outside a cave’s mouth. A pair of hooded ladies seems to be pleased that this is going as planned. The fox attacks them so they retreat. As they trek deeper into the cave, Agemaki becomes scared after seeing human bones everywhere on the ground. Then they see a huge spirit and Zakuro realizes the girls weren’t spirited away but eaten by it. They both cooperate to fight it and Zakuro lands the final stab on its head. Back home, Kushimatsu reports to Amaryouju that a half-spirit is using illusion of girls spirited away as bait to lure Zakuro. They think they’re starting to make their move. As for the rest, they are pestering Zakuro for details about spending the night together with Agemaki.

Episode 4
With Zakuro and Agemaki given a rest day, the rest head over to shop believed to be possessed. The gang are relieved to see the shop owner, Aya Orikata accepting the existence of spirits because she too has a little spirit, Mugi as her assistance. Aya brings out the sword she believes many people around her have met with unfortunate events. Riken is going to touch it but is stopped by Susukihotaru. She then starts feeling uneasy. Riken goes to talk to her while she is resting. The twins tell Ganryuu about Susukihotaru’s power: She is able to empathise with objects and other people by a mere touch. When Mugi shows Susukihotaru a comb from her mom, she starts seeing visions of how Mugi’s mom was brutally murdered by humans. To Mugi, she doesn’t remember much. Susukihotaru encourages her further by saying her mom will come if she is a good girl. Then they see Mugi trying to work hard so that she can be a good girl but she accidentally bumps and causes the cursed sword to drop. Susukihotaru catches it and sees visions of it being used to slaughter. She becomes possessed and attacks Riken. Aya and Mugi could’ve been victims if Riken didn’t get back up on his feet to protect them. Mugi starts to remember how her mom protected her. Riken uses the cloth and wrap around his hands to catch the cursed sword. This brings Susukihotaru back to her senses. She becomes guilty for hurting him and felt afraid to tell him about her powers. Riken holds her hand and asks if she could sense what he is thinking. As a man of few words, he hopes that this is a way he can show his feelings. Susukihotaru is overcome with emotion and hugs him. When they leave, they take the cursed sword back with them. Susukihotaru feels she is no longer bothered with all the other people around her and feels it must be because of Riken. He holds her hand and causes her to blush.

Episode 5
Hanadate pays the gang a visit. Based on a survivor’s testimony, there seems to be an incident whereby victims (all men) are lured away by a beautiful woman who then transforms herself into a giant spider. This only happens at official government parties. And yes, our heroes and heroines get to attend a grand ball as part of their mission. Zakuro seems to be enjoying herself with Hanadate accompanying and dancing with her rather than Agemaki. Then a couple of mean military guys mock Zakuro. She’s upset but holding it in. Agemaki gets this chance to show his cool side when he steps in like a gentlemen so the punks take their leave. Zakuro cries in his arms and he could feel her trembling in fear. Bonbori and Houzuki manage to locate the enemy and send message to the rest. However they are being stopped by those hooded characters. While Riken is clashing swords with one of them, Susukihotaru touched her skin. Though she escapes, Susukihotaru starts crying because she felt a very dark and deep sorrow. Ganryuu and the twins enter a room and to their horror, see lots of rotting corpse of men in the ceiling. There’s a fresh one up there and he is Hanadate. The lady culprit, Rangui makes her appearance and transform into a spider. Bonbori fights Rangui but her power is only at half level since Houzuki is protecting Ganryuu. Bonbori becomes injured as Ganryuu becomes hysterical. Enraged Zakuro whizzes and stabs Rangui for hurting Bonbori. Though Bonbori is still breathing, Ganryuu is upset over her actions. Rangui lies in her pool of blood but she’s laughing. She knows who Zakuro is and even her mother, Tsukuhane. Zakuro badgers her for more information but she vanishes, leaving Zakuro pretty confused and shell shocked.

Episode 6
Zakuro is visibly distressed but all that is alleviated when Agemaki comes by to hand her some cookies from Hanadate. Well, she really likes it. What she didn’t know and Agemaki couldn’t tell her is that it’s made out of milk. So it’s all in the mind, eh? Ganryuu on the other hand seems upset not because of the twins but rather himself for being incompetent and inexperienced that has caused what happened. But they don’t mind because they are prepared to lay down their lives for him whom they love dearly. They tell him their past how a woman once in awhile came by to see how they were doing in a cave. She always told them never to go out of the cave in daylight and never approach humans. They happily played together in the dark and came to love her. One day, the woman never stopped coming and they became curios and ventured out to search for her. They encounter a furious human who believes they killed his wife. In his rage, he hunted down to kills them and all the petrified twins could do was to run as fast as they could. They felt this bad thing happened to them because they disobeyed the woman’s instruction. But the next thing they know, they were whisked away on a flying white fox who brought them to meet the rest just like them. The ironic part wasn’t how they could understand each other without speaking and even so with that woman but rather they never realize they could speak! Until only recently. Meanwhile Susukihotaru tells Agemaki how they first met Zakuro. She’s always cheerful and smiling but is afraid that one day she might just disappear. Zakuro is pestering Kushimatsu about details about her mom, why she was serving her but the fox isn’t telling and will only do so when the time is right. That’s not an answer. Soon Agemaki requests Zakuro’s help to remove Sakura and Kiri’s kite stuck on the tree. Why her? Yeah, he can’t climb trees. When Zakuro climbs it, it’s that deja vu feeling of that persimmon tree dream again. She slips off but luckily Agemaki is there to catch her. Noticing her pendant’s chain broken, he offers to fix it. She mentions it is from her mom as Agemaki notes she is always putting on a brave face and pushing herself hard. After fixing it, he gives it back to her and hugs her. Susukihotaru notes that this is the first time she let someone else touch her pendant.

Episode 7
A young woman named Tae suddenly barges in and hugs Agemaki. Feeling jealous, Zakuro? Who the heck is she, unashamed of throwing herself at a guy? Well, she’s one of the servants back in his home and it seems she is here to ask for Agemaki’s return to the house since his dad has already been making noise. Agemaki then pleads to Zakuro and wants her to temporarily be his assistant. She agrees but on a condition that he owes her each time he insults her. She gives him a paper of coupons of sweets. Erm… I think you need to give a lot more than that seeing the favour he is asking of you. Not wanting to expose she is a half-spirit, she has to hide her demon ears which can be quite uncomfortable. Upon reaching his mansion, Zakuro is introduced to his little sister Kumiko. Tae wonders Zakuro’s relation with Agemaki and as usual those scornful comments but to Tae, he is a kind person that treats everyone with respect. Later Zakuro confronts Agemaki for the real reason of bringing her back to his house. She thinks it must have something to do with a spirit. He admits that it happened since his pet cat Itsue disappeared. Then during dinner, Zakuro hears Agemaki’s boastful father (he’s in the military too) and that he doesn’t like spirits very much. He has this perception that his son is going to rein them all in. That night Agemaki tells Zakuro how he thought Itsue was taken away by a spirit so he begged to it not to do so and would trade all his treasure for Itsue. Plus, his dad was always yelling at him for being a scaredy cat. Because of this, it led him to his fear of spirits. Then Zakuro says that Itsue is here, sending Agemaki into his usual hair-standing-on-ends feeling. Zakuro tells Itsue to appear in her true form. As explained, when a cat is loved, it becomes a demon cat. Itsue appeared before him when he was young because she wanted to thank him for his kindness. Agemaki hugs Itsue and asks for forgiveness for being scared. Itsue returns to her normal cat form in which he can’t see. The next day as they’re leaving, Agemaki tells Zakuro that he wanted to show her how his father is like and not hide anything from her. Then his mom whispers to Zakuro asking her for forgiveness over her husband’s discourteous. She thanks her for making Agemaki feeling relaxed and leaves him in her care. On the way out, Zakuro felt glad she came while Kumiko watches them leave with Itsue. Can this kid see spirits?

Episode 8
While Agemaki and Susukihotaru are out in town for an errand, those hooded pair cast a sleeping spell and kidnap them. The pair are working for Rangui and this is their plan to draw Zakuro out. Agemaki and Susukihotaru awake to find themselves in an earthen cellar. Then Aya and Mugi stop by and tell something wrong must have happened because she found stuffs from the duo lying outside her store. Zakuro wants to go save them but was locked up by Kushimatsu instead. However Amaryouji wants her to free Zakuro as this is an order from the Spirits Affairs. Though Kushimatsu insists that she is just living up to her promise to protect Zakuro, Amaryouju cautions her that she is the one who could be locked up instead for disobedience. That rainy night, Riken frees Zakuro as they rush out for a rescue mission without Kushimatsu’s knowledge while Ganryuu and the twins stay behind as decoys. When they arrive, they are ambushed by the hooded ladies who reveal their true form. They are also half-spirits, sisters Byakuroku and Daidai. They clash swords and Riken got injured. When Byakuroku tells Zakuro that their loved ones are trapped beneath a cellar and will drown once the water fills it up, Zakuro becomes enraged and violent. The fight stops when Byakuroku starts vomiting and feeling pain. Zakuro is shocked to Rangui but the latter is here to retreat her underlings. Agemaki and Susukihotaru are having a hard time holding back the door (can they?) but it bursts open. Luckily, they manage to grab onto Zakuro’s hand. Riken hugs Susukihotaru and is relieved she is alright. Back home, Riken reports to Kushimatsu and will take full responsibility. Zakuro couldn’t hold back her tears because she was worried sick about Agemaki. He holds her and apologizes for making her worry. Rangui and the sisters are back in their safe place. Rangui notes their powers are difficult to use if they’re far away from the Village of Oracles since they’re only half-spirits. After assuring Daidai that she’ll help Byakuroku recover, she turns to the latter and wants her to serve her in exchange for her sister to be treated the same way.

Episode 9
A beautiful day. Zakuro tries another hand at milk but still doesn’t like it. Riken’s punishment is a pay deduction and this is just a light sentence considering it could’ve been much more severe. Then Hanadate pays them a visit. Seems another occurrence in which recently girls are playing a popular game called Kokkuri. Think of it as something like the Ouija Board. When the girls play the game (usually involves pining for love), a peculiar spirit appears though it is harmless. He thinks they need to take action before something happens. So what better way than to investigate but to play the game itself. The gang including the Tanuki servants conspire to make Zakuro play and reveal her true love. As they start the process, a fox spirit appears but Zakuro notes that it isn’t a spirit but the visualization of the feelings of humans. Because the rest are still forcing to reveal Zakuro’s true love, Kokkuri causes a little storm and escapes via window. They give chase and when Zakuro is to cut it down, there is no effect. It soon disappears. Since it is not a spirit and just a mere visualization, they can’t really attack it. Everyone soon gathers to discuss to solve this problem. Amaryouju thinks that they need to show love and if Kokkuri sees a couple in love, it will think its task is done and will move on. Hanadate wishes to personally participate in this too. As they split up and set out to find Kokkuri, Agemaki is getting annoyed that Zakuro is having a friendly chat with Hanadate. Then they see Kokkuri larger than usual and well, it’s so colourful now. Is that a good sign or bad? Agemaki nervously is going to put on a demonstration of his love for Zakuro but she got embarrassed and strangles him. Then cool Hanadate steps in for the kill when he convincingly confesses that he loves Zakuro. Kokkuri is now at ease and disappears. Though Zakuro thanks him for putting up a splendid performance and big lie, unfortunately Hanadate says he is a poor liar. Uh oh. His eyes don’t indicate he’s lying or playing a fool. Back home, Susukihotaru asks Zakuro if she likes Hanadate. More woes for Zakuro when the Tanuki servants continue to pester her and to make her stand clear. She gets pissed off that they’re the root of this problem and they square off. Agemaki goes out after hearing the commotion and sees Zakuro taking on… Zakuros? One of the cheeky masquerading Tanuki goes up to Agemaki and seduces him so the real Zakuro gets flustered and beats him up. Meanwhile Rangui is seen making herself comfortable in the arms of a masked man. How come this guy seems familiar? Don’t tell me he is…

Episode 10
The gang head out for the night festival. As they make their way into the maze, Agemaki asks Zakuro if she is still mad at something. Not really anything important. Really. Agemaki continues that at first he was scared of her and is going to tell his feelings for her but she just ran off. While she is running away in tears, she sees a bright flash of light and soon disappears. Rangui continues to seduce the masked man but he isn’t interested so he orders her to take Byakuroku as her attendant. Zakuro wakes up from a dream of spending time with her mom and then saw her being taken away by those demons. She finds herself chained to the bed as the mask man enters with Byakuroku. He shows his true face… How come it’s no surprise to know the culprit is Hanadate? However he says that is nearly his false name and his real name is Omodaka. He mentions they are both disgraced creatures and will soon be as one. He’s not going to rape her, isn’t he? He orders Byakuroku to keep tabs on her. Zakuro sees her in pain and shares some of her power to make her feel better. As for the other gang, they are starting to get worried that Zakuro hasn’t returned. Their fears come true when Mamezo starts becoming weak, which is an indication that Zakuro is far away. At least by a day or two. Rangui continues her seduction on Omodaka but he is clearly not interested. Then he notices Zakuro’s powers in Byakuroku and is definite she is the one who will bear his child. Jealous Rangui confronts Zakuro and is going to tear her apart in her spider form. But in her rage, she not only destroys the room but accidentally sets her free as she uses this chance to escape. Zakuro chances upon lifeless half-spirits and as explained by Byakuroku, half-spirits like them all are merely tools. Neither human nor spirits, flawed by nature. Though female half-spirits like them are lucky, the males aren’t (those ugly dark demons from the persimmon tree). Zakuro sees an entire cell of lifeless half-spirits calling out her name. She gets scared and runs away through a dark corridor.

Episode 11
Zakuro’s pendant starts glowing and as she follows it, leading her to a secret pathway which leads to her mother sitting motionless in a tent. She is happy to be reunited with her but when she touches her, memories of Tsukuhane start flowing through her mind. Elsewhere Kushimatsu tells the rest about the Village of Oracles, the place where half-spirits are born. She once served Tsukuhane who was a maiden with rare powers. The Chief of the village wanted her powers and took her as a bride and kept her isolated in the mountains. When she gave birth to an heir, Omodaka, she was cast aside and not allowed to see her son. One day when she was peeking at the village where her son is, she fell out of a tree courtesy of the woodcutter, Enaga. He accepted for who she is and as time passes, they form a bond and she sneak out of her confinement to be with him and do chores in his village. She was having the time of her life when she heard that a villager’s wife got spirited away. She ran to the Chief’s village and begged for him to return those ladies.  Then she heard Omodaka’s voice and pleaded for a chance to see him but was turned away. She became depressed but Enaga stood by her side. One day, they decide d to elope but the Chief killed him in front of her eyes. If bearing his child isn’t bad timing, the bad news is that the one who told the Chief of Tsukuhane’s tryst is no other than Omodaka himself. Tsukuhane is taken in to be performed as part of another half-spirit ritual. The Chief noticed the glowing powers belonging to the newborn baby but at that time, Kushimatsu had taken Tsukuhane and her baby to escape the village. Kushimatsu can no longer return to the village since she has betrayed it. In reality, Omodaka puts Zakuro to sleep and gives Byakuroku an important role as a maiden at the wedding ceremony. Kushimatsu continues with her story, saying that half-spirits are the product of fox spirit rituals and they are considered failures. Zakuro’s pendant serves as a seal but over the years it has weakened as it could no longer hold her powers and thus difficult to hide it from the Village of Oracles (at that time Omodaka succeeded the Chief) so Tsukuhane chose to return to the village as atonement for her sins in return for Zakuro’s freedom. However Kushimatsu worries that he will betray them and that’s why they’re constantly on the move. As the years pass, Zakuro’s powers continue to increase and that’s when she met Amaryouju who told her not to run and hide but teach the girls to take pride in their powers. Though he feels that it’s a mistake now, the rest think it is not because they wouldn’t have met nor fought together. They are adamant to bring Zakuro back. But to enter the Village of Oracles, they must cross a barrier. They need to have a talisman which contains magic from that village. Riken shows them a little talisman left behind by Rangui when she appeared at the earthen cellar. This should do it. Meanwhile Omodaka and Byakuroku are starting the ritual. Daidai is jealous that her sister is given the important role instead of her. Rangui comes in to fan the fire and convinces her that she is here for her.

Episode 12
The gang are transported to the Village of Oracles. Agemaki is separated from the rest. As he treks through the corridors, he sees Tsukuhane and hears her voice. Seems she wants him to deliver a message to Zakuro and Omodaka. The ritual is interrupted when our heroes and heroines barge in. The priests use fox spirits to attack. Susukihotaru could feel that they are doing this against their will and wants them to kill them and put them out of their misery. Of course they can’t do it. Riken will bear the burden. No, he didn’t turn into a bloodthirsty slasher. Instead, he scared the priests and they lose concentration and run away. That’s it? It was that easy? And the priests never thought they’d be in danger? Omodaka takes Zakuro to the place where Tsukuhane and Enaga met and is going to defile her here. They get another interruption in the form of Agemaki. Byakuroku clashes with him. Though she got the better of him, Agemaki’s reinforcement arrives. He says it is just not him who is going to rescue Zakuro. Omodaka unleashes several fox spirits to keep them at bay. When a sword comes flying Zakuro’s way, Agemaki dives in to get her out of harm’s way. Can you believe it? He’s faster than the sword. Then he caught glimpse of her pendant. Ganryuu wants him to release the pendant and release her true powers but he did not. His reasoning was that Tsukuhane wanted Zakuro to live a normal life. Omodaka is surprised Agemaki was able to hear Tsukuhane’s voice. The way he says things indicates he must’ve been jealous of Zakuro who is loved more by Tsukuhane. When she returned to the village, she refused to be Omodaka’s tool by bearing more half-spirits and died though retaining her same form even in death. He thinks she is punishing him by sacrificing herself for Zakuro and hates him. Agemaki replies the other reason why Tsukuhane left Zakuro in Kushimatsu’s care. She felt guilty of hurting Omodaka and should her powers be used for ill intentions, she will take her life and her only wish is to be with the child she was separated from, thus her reason returning to the village. Flashback reveals Omodaka too wanted to see his mom badly and one day when he managed to sneak out, his happiness turned into hatred when he spotted her having a nice time with Enaga. Though Omodaka felt pain just thinking about it, he returns to his unremorseful evil self. He no longer needs her power and wants to destroy the world along with Zakuro. Suddenly they see the village on fire. Daidai is setting it on fire and releasing the lifeless half-spirits from their cells. All part of Rangui’s plan as she gets Daidai to fawn her even more by saying she only needs her and no longer Byakuroku. Omodaka takes Zakuro and rushes back to the village. Byakuroku decides to aid Agemaki and co in hopes they can help save Omodaka from his past.

Episode 13
Byakuroku questions them why do they easily trust her. Susukihotaru’s answer is simple: Because they’re half-spirits and have endured the same sorrow. Back inside the burning village, Byakuroku is horrified to see Rangui devouring Daidai. In her dying breath, Daidai apologizes for always being envious of her sister and didn’t want to be a burden because she’s always protecting her. Too late for those now. With her demise, Byakuroku is filled with enrage but being blind with anger won’t do her any good to Rangui. Omodaka tries to cast a spell but Rangui is stronger due to the life force she sucked from her victims. She is going to eat him too (out of love?) but Agemaki protects Omodaka. Rangui gets upset each time they mention Zakuro’s name so she intends of getting rid of her. Zakuro could hear and see everyone around fighting to protect her. Just that she can’t move. Agemaki then confesses he likes her. His feelings reach her and she’s able to move once more. Zakuro breaks her pendant because she wants to use the power to protect those she loves. What is her power up? Well, the Moon turns red and there are red drops everywhere. Zakuro easily slices Rangui in half. The village starts collapsing as Omodaka runs back into Tsukuhane’s room but is shocked to see her rotting corpse. As Byakuroku noted, all she ever saw were bones. Omodaka thinks it’s his self-delusion that caused him to see her retaining her form but Agemaki reasons that their mom wanted her children to see her in this form. Omodaka wants to die with Tsukuhane’s side. Though reluctant, Zakuro accepts his decision thinking Tsukuhane would be happy. Byakuroku also wishes to be by Omodaka’s side. Since her existence is to protect Daidai, with her gone, she couldn’t bear this new freedom and wants to serve him till the very end. The building caves in while the rest manage to get out in time. In the aftermath back at their home, Kushimatsu has an important announcement: The Spirits Affairs will be disbanded! Seems the military agreed to form this as it was part of Hanadate/Omodaka’s scheme to get Zakuro. But now he’s gone, they’ve lost interest and have other more important things to deal with. As the guys pack, their partners say their tearful farewell. Agemaki and Zakuro chat for one last time. Among it includes him being a wuss and she’s not scared of anymore. Out of the blue, Agemaki confesses he loves her, catching her by surprise. He gets depressed when he reprimands him for his bad timing. But I guess there’s so much a man could take so Zakuro blurts out to that dense guy that she loves him too. Finally they share a kiss. The guys leave and the ladies take their stroll in town. The passers-by seem friendlier. Hey, in that passing car, isn’t that Omodaka and Byakuroku? Well, anybody mentioned about finding corpses? Zakuro gets annoyed when she finds that Agemaki, Riken and Ganryuu are having tea with them. Why? Seems they managed to persuade the General about the importance of Spirits Affairs and thus was successfully reinstated. Zakuro is flustered because if she knew this would happen, she wouldn’t have said all those embarrassing things. It’s only going to get worse because Sakura and Kiri spill the beans about seeing them kissed. I wonder how they’ll get themselves out of this crisis.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?
So, I guess everything is rather okay. Nothing much groundbreaking. I just felt that it didn’t have any sort of impact that would leave it memorable for the long run. What kind of impact? A few of them I could name. Firstly, though we see the characters grow and their relationship deepen crossing the human-spirit barrier, it was like they got on good terms too quick. Not that this is a bad thing but from my perspective being from 2 different sides, this kind of bonding really do take time so it really is a miracle that these guys do get along pretty well. And since it is pretty much expected, I guess that’s where it lacks the impact. Hanadate as Omodaka as the villain was somewhat expected. I mean from my point of view, he’s got that villain’s look (no offense, buddy) and his actions were pretty suspicious too (say, being at the right place at the right time). So when he turned out to be a baddie after Zakuro’s power, it was somewhat so typical. Next, Zakuro’s super powers. I don’t really feel that she had powered up. Maybe that’s why they need to turn the scenery reddish with some dramatic effects so that we could see the awesomeness. Would you not believe me that she could still slice evil spirits like a hot knife through butter without breaking her pendant? It’s no different, right? Maybe Rangui has powered up and tougher to kill (which isn’t obvious either) so that’s why the need for a higher power. But the point is as I have said, do you feel the impact of it all? Not to me. Lastly when the military suspended Spirits Affairs and suddenly reversed its decision, it made me think if the top guy is a soft person. I know it’s to keep viewers happy that the guys won’t be separated from their partners but if a General could reverse such a decision, imagine he could overturn major decisions during important events. I doubt the guys are good persuaders as boasted by Ganryuu. Why not? Well, Agemaki’s got a hard time convincing Zakuro or speak up to his dad, so what makes you think he can do that? Riken? He doesn’t talk much. And Ganryuu? Ah, I don’t know he had that kind of skill.

The most amusing pair has got to be Agemaki and Zakuro. I believe Zakuro can be classified as what we call in the otaku world as a tsundere. We know the trend that Zakuro is always berating Agemaki for being a wuss but that tough facade is just to hide the love that she can’t openly express to him. It’s ‘entertaining’ to see Zakuro shooting off her mouth at Agemaki, especially her usual incredulous, “HUUUUH??!!!”. Oh, here’s another thing that lacks impact. I don’t feel Zakuro’s particular hatred towards Jesuit humans nor do I get the impression that Agemaki is totally afraid of ghosts. They seem more like mild cases. I know Agemaki has to sum up his courage because he’s going to be dealing with lots of spirits but you don’t really see the extent of his phobia as a real phobia. More like a little discomfort. Mamezo felt like a mascot (heck, he didn’t even do anything major in the final few episodes) while Sakura and Kiri are too energetic so much so their curiosity can become an annoyance. Okay, so they’re just kids. Humans or spirits, kids will be kids. There are a couple of episodes focusing on Riken-Susukihotaru and Ganryuu-Bonbori-Houzuki relationship but it is nothing that deep and it’s just about that. One thing still bugs me. If Kushimatsu knew Omodaka was a threat to Zakuro, how come she didn’t recognize him when he first appeared as Hanadate? I mean, being a fox spirit, even if Omodaka was wearing that mask or the last time Kushimatsu saw him was when he’s a kid, doesn’t she get that ‘evil targeting’ aura? Unless Omodaka is really playing one cool cat all the way. And yeah, just like many antagonists who aren’t really bad people, he’s the baddie just because of his twisted ideals and sorrowful past. People like him just need to be nudged a little before they realize they’re wrong and return to the right path. So that last bit seeing him with Byakuroku does it indicates that he has turned over a new leaf?

There are quite a number of known seiyuus lending their voice to this series. Mai Nakahara as Zakuro is such a perfect in playing haughty ladies just like how she did for Selnia in Ladies Versus Butlers and Erika and Tsuyokiss. Kana Hanazawa is recognizable as Susukihotaru like she did in Anri in Durarara!! and Mikan in To Love-Ru series. I guess the only way to differentiate between Bonbori and Houzuki are their different seiyuu. At least I could still tell apart (though rather tough) between Bonbori by Aki Toyosaki (Yui in K-ON!) and Houzuki by Yui Horie (Kotori in Da Capo series). Other casts include Takahiro Sakurai as Agemaki (Suzaku in Code Geass), Satoshi Hino as Riken (Yuuji in Shakugan No Shana – his low voice in this role makes him unrecognizable), Yuuki Kaji as Ganryuu (Akina in Yozakura Quartet), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Mamezo (Usui in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama – sounding more like a geek here), Takayuki Kondou as Hanadate/Omodaka (Oishi in Prince Of Tennis), Haruka Tomatsu as Byakuroku (Nagi in Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens), Minako Kotobuki as Daidai (Tsumugi in K-ON!), Kikuko Inoue as Rangui (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama – no dreamy voice here) and Ai Nanoka as Mugi (Fuura in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series).

The opening theme is Moon Signal by Sphere. Sounds like your typical upbeat anime song suitable for this kind of genre. There are 3 different ending themes, each tailored to the partners. We have Mai Nakahara and Takahiro Sakurai doing the lively Hatsukoi Wa Zakuro-iro, Kana Hanazawa and Satoshi Hino singing the slow ballad of Futari Shizuka, Aki Toyosaki, Yui Horie and Yuuki Kaji performing the cheeky Broadway-like Junjou Masquerade. However in all 3 themes, I find it a little annoying that while the ladies are singing the main lines, you can hear the male vocal talking during some parts. It sounded so out of place, so awkward, so disruptive… And even if they do a duet with the ladies, let’s just say I feel that it’s much better if the ladies were to sing it without any accompaniment vocals.

The issue of humans coexisting with spirits isn’t truly explored nor solved. But I guess as long as both sides do not accept the other’s shortcomings or differences, you can’t really live together in harmony. Heck, even half-spirits are discriminated here. It’s like they do not belong anywhere. Neither here nor there. So having a bunch of military guys to show the public as role models (because the military is supposed to be strict and respected, right?) together with a bunch of pretty half-spirit females in kimonos would do the trick? Well, it’s that age where people are more gullible and naive but still strong in superstitious beliefs. In the end, I’m not really a fan of this kind of genre and setting so if there is a sequel to this, there is a high chance that I might not want to watch it to find out further developments in terms of characters and plot. Really, we have a rough idea how that will turn out, right? Plus, I wasn’t really bewitched.

Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~

September 18, 2011

Two years later. Finally the sequel, Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~ was released back in mid 2010. It was kinda expected when at the end of the final episode of the first season, the words ‘To Be Continued’ were displayed on screen. But 2 years seems like a long time for a sequel. However since I wasn’t really desperately pining for it, you could say that I didn’t heave a sigh of relief when it came out. Moreover, it felt like “Oh. It’s already here. Might as well continue watching it and find out more”.

I was wondering why the second title was named “Pure Engagement”. It could either mean 2 things. One, our main Ashikabi (the term for ‘master’ that has made a contract via kiss for the buxom babes destined to fight each other called Sekirei) Minato may have been ‘forced’ to be purely engaged, as in married to the Sekireis that are under his wing. Or two, the Sekireis are ready to engage themselves in pure combat as part of Minaka‘s personal entertainment on a grand scale. By the way, he’s the maniac who discovered the Sekireis with colleague and head researcher Takami and founded the large corporation MBI. So which engagement is it? Feels more like the latter but I won’t dismiss that there will be some truths in the former.

Episode 0
Prior to the start of the sequel, there is an OVA or episode 0 as some like to call it, aired. It only lasts 3 minutes long and to me, it serves more like an uncensored appetizer of fanservice for what is to be expected in the second season. Actually as I later found out, that was just a preview and the real deal is s a full 28 minute OVA and released around 3/4 of the run of TV series. Basically we see a big majority of the Sekireis, known and unknowns, taking a physical examination conducted by MBI. So it’s either you see the babes flaunting their F-cups or flat chests trying to be real proud of their ‘compact’ ones (why are every Sekirei wearing the same colour and pattern undies?). Among the other fanservice antics include Musubi being tied up real tight by a measuring tape by Karasuba which makes it look like they’re in some sort of S&M play, androgynous Homura is in a dilemma of entering the male of female side and with Benitsubasa wanting to scare Musubi and co as revenge, she gets into a humiliating position whereby she loses her bra in which the big busty Sekireis make a mockery of who it may belong to. It’s either too small or too big. Benitsubasa loses her cool and destroys the whole centre. Later an outing at a private beach courtesy of MBI for the Ashikabis and their Sekireis. Everything is paid for and free so you bet that penny pincher and freeloader Seo is going to be in. Here we see the ladies having fun in the water, Musubi squeezing Tsukiumi’s boobs at the locker and another round of flaunting their assets and sexy curves at the spa Then Tsukiumi’s water power accidentally hits Benitsubasa while chasing Musubi and in return she retaliates with an attack that destroys the building. Deja vu? So yeah, we expect these sort of things to happen, right? It’s ironic that these babes who are destined to fight are so relaxed here. The calm before the storm? Finally, we see Miya soaking alone at home and having a nice quiet time together since this is the death anniversary of her husband, Takehito. At the end of the OVA, there is a next episode preview which is actually what the various characters speculate on what the TV series will be. More like their delusions and fantasies. Heck, it lasted over 4 minutes! Everyone has their own desires, eh? The funny part is that they are showing random clips from the first season while they’re ranting. Another funny part was the mid-intermission whereby we see the Sekirei ladies given a manly look! Now we know why Sekireis are better suited to be sexy babes, right?

The story of the second season starts off where we were left off at the end of the first season. The part whereby Minato and his Sekireis tried to help an Ashikabi and his weak Sekirei to flee the capital. They encountered the resistance of the Disciplinary Squad and due to the twist of events like the dead Yume possessing Musubi’s body, the getaway was a success.

Episode 1
We see a group of military flexing their muscle to capture the Sekireis but are being easily taken out by a group of five that includes Karasuba, Matsu, Kazehana and Mutsu. You can tell the leader of it is Miya from the shape and all even if throughout the series this particular character in this scene is never named nor clearly shown. Who needs an army when you need these babes. Erm… Okay, so one of them is a guy. Back at Miya’s Izumo Inn, Minato and his Sekireis are probably having a ‘normal’ time. I guess when they’re not fighting other Sekireis, they’re fighting among themselves over Minato. They get into compromising positions and doing lewd stuff in Izumo is a big no-no. Miya may never have shown her angry face but you can tell she’s mad when the devil Hannya mask and a deadly aura appears right by her side. But later Matsu seems not to have learnt her lesson because she intends on strengthening the bond between her Ashikabi and tries to get physical with Minato. Do you see this pattern every time something lewd is going to happen somewhere in the inn, Miya is always there? As punishment, they won’t be getting lunch. Even if it isn’t Minato’s fault. Uzume goes to see her sickly Ashikabi, Chiho at the hospital. But she too has been reminded by Higa’s secretary, Kakizaki about the things that she needs to do if she wants Chiho to continue living. Although data of the escaped Ashikabi and his Sekirei has been completely erased, there are others too who hold on to that little glimmer of hope and tries to do the same. However they aren’t so lucky this time because Benitsubasa is really taking out on them. On her way home, she passes by Izumo and sees Minato in his usual ‘escape’ from his ever-quarrelling Sekireis over him. She suddenly thinks up a good idea for this.

Episode 2
Masterless Kazehana continues to bum around Izumo. There is something beating in her heart that makes her attracted to Minato but the loss of her previous lover prevents her from moving forward. Elsewhere, Yukari and Shiina have been gaining an infamous nickname as the Devil Ashikabi and Grim Reaper Sekirei because they’ve been going around beating others alike just to get information about Shiina’s sibling, Kusano. Yukari calls Minato and plans to meet him. I guess he doesn’t want her to have an impression that he’s some sort of a polygamous jerk so he agrees to meet her at the train station. By the way, both are still unaware that they have become Ashikabis. Tsukiumi insists that she wants to meet his sister too, seeing that she IS his legal wife (depends on how you interpret this) and Musubi have already met her previously. On their way, the duo are being attacked by Benitsubasa and Haihane. Haihane distracts Tsukiumi long enough for Benitsubasa to kidnap Minato. This is part of her plan to lure Musubi out as revenge for her previous humiliation when she clashed fist with her. In a warehouse, Benitsubasa calls Izumo and Kusano pick it up. Benitsubasa wants to speak to Musubi but Kusano keeps insisting who she is, pissing her off. Kusano hangs up.  She calls again. It’s Kazehana’s turn to pick up. Benitsubasa being rude and all wanting to speak to Musubi, Kazehana soon hangs up on her. This is getting annoying. By the third call, Matsu takes it and this time she learns Minato in her custody. Before she could finish her sentence, Minato knocks her off her balance and breaks her handphone. Matsu uses her hacking skills to determine where Minato is. Kazehana flies like the wind to the warehouse and before Benitsubasa could beat up that Ashikabi, tadaa! Kazehana is here. They both fight while Yukari is left in the dark of her brother’s no-show.

Episode 3
Minato isn’t going to sit around while the ladies duke it out. After freeing himself, He gives Haihane a hard time too by ramming her into boxes so that Kazehana could escape. Matsu relays information about Minato’s whereabouts to Tsukiumi and Musubi and off they go. Kazehana gets injured in the battle and even in this time, Minato is selfless and is willing to buy her time to escape. Iron pillars fall on him. Minato says that this has nothing to do with being an Ashikabi or Sekirei. He doesn’t want any more people to get hurt because of him. That’s when Kazehana has become decided. She was waiting for someone like this. She got over her ex-lover and kisses him. And yeah, she gets Winged and is now Minato’s official Sekirei. Her wind powers increase drastically and sends the Disciplinary Squad duo flying into the sky. By the time Tsukiumi and Musubi arrive, it’s already over. Minato collapses at the end and is being taken to the hospital run by MBI by his mom Takami. Minato shockingly learns about his mom working in MBI as Musubi and Tsukiumi try to look good in her books. I mean, she could be her future mom-in-law, right? Takami soon has to return to work when she receives report of a badly injured Sekirei (seems Karasuba was going on a killing spree). Speaking of which, she meets Musubi on the rooftop to remind her about their promise and wants her to become much stronger. When Minato is discharged, Miya holds a feast to celebrate his return. Kazehana thinks she can do anything by donning a naked apron but Miya’s Hannya… Better change it quick. Uzume gets another vexing call from Kakizaki about Chiho. The conversation is cut short when Kazehana comes in to look for a change in clothes. As she rummages through Uzume’s wardrobe, Uzume spots Kazehana’s crest and has that urge to press it (this is one way of defeating a Sekirei). As for Homura/Kagari, she is still pondering about her future and realizes that she is the last Unwinged Sekirei left.

Episode 4
Uzume stops short of her sneaky actions. Soon she leaves the inn giving an excuse she has business to attend to. Kazehana returns to the party in a Brazilian samba outfit? I guess this is more acceptable. Minato invites Kagari to celebrate with them but she too leaves shortly. In her room, she starts feeling pain in her chest and is dismayed with the thought she is reacting to man. As she soaks in the bathtub, she ponders who she was being told by her adjuster Takehito that she was probably a prototype Sekirei. This means her power is unstable till she gets Winged. That signal to get Winged is when she reacts to someone. But she still isn’t going to believe that crap. Minaka comes up with another devilish plot. He sends mail to every Ashikabi that about the last Unwinged Sekirei in the north. This means there will be a mad frenzy rush for every Ashikabi to come rushing to Izumo or at least this area to Wing the last Sekirei. Kagari gets out of the bathtub since the other buxom Sekireis are getting in. She starts collapsing but Minato catches her. She was even going with her instincts to kiss him but Minato felt something soft in his hand. Seems he has got his palm over Kagari’s boobs. Kagari pushes him away and is going to burn him since her secret is busted (Kagari’s gender is unstable and Minato has always thought of her to be a guy). Minato witnesses fire coming out from her palms and realizes she could be a Sekirei. He could’ve been roasted if Tsukiumi didn’t splash her water over her to cool her down. Kagari has made up her mind. She is going to kill Minaka but Miya warns that it isn’t going to be that easy.

Episode 5
Minato is still confused about his newfound information on Kagari. He tries to go talk to Kagari about being the last Unwinged Sekirei but she doesn’t want his pity. She gets 20 miscalls from Takami and the 21st got through. She tells about her intention to kill Minaka and then out she goes through the window. Takami calls again but Minato picks it up. He is shocked to learn Kagari as the last Unwinged Sekirei. As for Tsukiumi, she finally figures out by herself that Homura is Kagari. Took her quite a while, eh? So Minato and his Sekireis discuss the probably of Winging Kagari before the rest and though this idea is much hated by Tsukiumi as it will increase the number of ‘rivals’ to become his wife, she gives in with some twisted logic of hers (it proves that she is a tolerant wife…) and allows Minato to take Homura/Kagari as his sixth wife. WTF?! But Minato is going to save her not because of increasing his harem, but rather Kagari is a precious friend at Izumo. After Minato and his Sekireis set off, Seo and his twin Sekireis visit Izumo. They discuss about the downfall of Minato having so much Sekireis (in the end there can only be one standing) but this is all part of their plan even if it seems harsh. Homura encounters and fights numberless Sekirei, Akitsu as her Ashikabi Mikogami watches on in hopes of obtaining the last Unwinged Sekirei. Literally, it’s a fire and ice battle. They couldn’t settle their battle in time so much so Uzume joins in. Better hurry before all the others arrive. Homura starts feeling hot and can’t control her fire powers that are burning her from within.

Episode 6
With Kakizaki and his Sekireis appearing, Mutsu decides to take Mikogami and retreat even if his Ashikabi intends to stay on and fight. Akitsu leaves a scathing thought to Homura that it wasn’t the fact that he became her master after becoming an Ashikabi, but rather he accepted her and therefore she has a master. She envies Homura is able to be Winged. Yukari and Shiina’s run to the last Unwinged Sekirei is interrupted when she bumps into another motorcycle-riding Ashikabi, Nishi Sanada. Anyway he gets pounded. Homura can’t go on further and thinks of burning herself to death but is cooled off by Tsukiumi’s water. Kakizaki unleashes his Sekireis to attack, #101 Oriha and #86 Katsuragi. Tsukiumi fights Oriha, Musubi taking on Katsuragi and Kazehana against Uzume. Kusano uses her plant powers to hold up Kakizaki. While the Sekireis are fighting, Minato hugs Homura and lets out his earnest feelings for her. He kisses and Wings her. The result not only stabilizes Homura’s powers but his other Sekireis also power up tremendously. Musubi defeats Katsuragi for good with her Bear Fist. Kakizaki orders a retreat as Musubi stays by Katsuragi’s side till the MBI picks the fallen Sekirei up. Though Homura is still confused, nevertheless she accepts Minato’s extended hand but soon collapses due to exhaustion.

Episode 7
Before her collapse, Homura and Minato talk about if the former still wants to kill Minaka. Though Minato won’t stop her, she won’t do so for now. She understood why she reacted to him. Back at Izumo, Minato and the rest continue to treat and take care of Homura. With that, Matsu decides to let Minato and the rest know a little about the Sekirei Plan. First with a little lesson in history. To cut it short, the Sekireis were found lying asleep in a huge spaceship on some unknown island and were found by a pair of students then (Minaka and Takami). Of the 108 Sekireis inside, 1 was an adult, 8 were embryos (the single number Sekireis) and the remaining 99 were in the state of fertilized eggs. Each of them was adjusted and had a Tuner. Matsu couldn’t say more about the adult Sekirei, which wasn’t technically a Sekirei. Then a threatening event occurred. Some unknown country tried to take control of the Sekireis even if the island was kept a secret to great lengths. To protect the other sleeping Sekireis, the first 5 were awakened and formed the S-Plan Protection Disciplinary Squad who were adjusted by Takehito. They slice and dice the army like child’s play. Takehito wasn’t happy with the outcome. He wanted to create something that would be above people but instead many died. Soon after the first Disciplinary Squad was somewhat disbanded. Matsu was on the run from MBI, Kazehana left because her heart was broken when the President rejected her and mysterious Mutsu just left and disappeared. Now another storm is brewing. Minaka mails to every Ashikabi with another game plan. To all those Ashikabi and Sekirei without a win, they need to fight and achieve at least a victory or else they will be deemed to have no interest to participate in the Sekirei Plan. As such, their Sekireis will be immediately terminated. This is part of his plan to force all those who hasn’t participated yet to fight each other and as statistics show, 40% haven’t seen action and victory yet.

Episode 8
However this doesn’t apply to Minato and his Sekireis as they already have qualified. But Minato isn’t happy with the fact that some Ashikabis and their Sekireis will be forcefully separated. Yukari and Shiina are in this mess even though they’ve been going around beating up others for Kusano’s whereabouts, they didn’t really defeat them. While Minato and Musubi are returning from a shopping errand, they encounter and Ashikabi and his Sekirei, wanting their help to join them and others to escape the capital. Seems he went to Seo for help first but was turned down and that’s when he was referred to Minato. However he keeps badmouthing the weak Ashikabi and Sekirei Minato helped to escape previously so Minato says he will not help them. Soon, that pair are on the run as the MBI army are seen chasing them led by Karasuba. Back at Izumo, Minato explains that he turned them down is that he doesn’t intend to run away anymore. But his action has caused that pair to be taken out by Karasuba. As Minato and his Sekireis continue to frolic, this time Kusano wins the right to accompany Minato to do shopping (Musubi has always been the undisputed ‘champion’). Uzume spends more time with Chiho and is in a dilemma to fight but she has to because she hasn’t had a decent win to her name. Kakizaki says her next opponent will be from the north and won’t be forcing her to fight but Uzume says she’ll do it. Minato and Kusano are on their errand when Kusano follows a kitten and ends up by Chiho’s side.

Episode 9
Both girls have a good talk and soon become well acquainted. Meanwhile Minato looking for Kusano spots a mean Ashikabi, Junichi mistreating and abusing his Sekirei #84 Yashima. She is okay that she will let her master do anything to her. Soon they pick the wrong Ashikabi and Sekirei to mess with: Yukari and Shiina. They look like weaklings? Don’t judge a book by its cover. Yashima whips up her giant hammer to attack but Junichi continues to abuse her over her uselessness. This doesn’t sit well with those watching like Tsukiumi who is searching for Minato after he is taking too long to return. Junichi force kisses Yashima to power up but even so, Shiina’s greater power defeats her. Junichi is not happy and is going to take out on Shiina but Yukari gives her a good kick in his face. Still not happy, he brings out his knife. Tsukiumi breaks it off and Yukari lands the final blow. Tsukiumi and Yukari talk but the former has to run seeing that Yukari is somewhat interested in touching her humongous boobs. Next day, Minato, Kusano, Musubi and Tsukiumi pay Chiho a visit at the hospital. They are surprised to see Uzume there. Kusano and Chiho are left alone together. Minato overhears Kakizaki talking to the other end of his handphone taking down Musubi and Tsukiumi. Speaking of which, Uzume confronts Musubi and Tsukiumi and is dead serious about taking their lives.

Episode 10
Chiho narrates her story. About her born with a weak body, her parents died in a plane crash and their house which was ultimately sold. She lost everything that was dear to her till she met Uzume. At first Uzume wasn’t interested in the Sekirei Plan and was just resting on the hospital’s rooftop. Chiho thought she was trying to commit suicide and tried to prevent her from jumping off but slipped instead. Uzume used her powers to rescue her. That’s when she became her Ashikabi and Uzume found a reason to exist: To protect Chiho. Tsukiumi watches Musubi takes on Uzume in a 1-on-1 battle. Minato arrives and is surprised to find Uzume as a Sekirei. Both sides are heading for a draw and tired out when they are being attacked by Sekirei #18 Ichiya and #16 Toyotama. Seems like an unfair fight as they take on Tsukiumi but Kazehana and Homura arrive in time to turn the tables. Kakizaki orders their retreat but Toyotama plans on stabbing Musubi. Just then Uzume uses her body as a shield and takes the stab in Musubi’s place. With Uzume officially defeated, she has Minato promise to take care of Chiho in her absence. Musubi also promises to do the same because she owes it to her lifesaver. Chiho starts shedding tears after feeling her separation from Uzume. Back at Izumo, Minato learns from Matsu that Higa was holding Chiho’s treatment facilities to hostage. However all that data of it seems to be erased now. Now that her Ashikabi is gone, she can’t stay in the hospital anymore since that hospital is run by MBI. Minato wants to meet this Higa guy and Matsu would gladly help him. First, she hacks into Higa’s computer system to make them go bankrupt. Works like a charm when Minato gets a call from the hospital that Chiho’s in critical condition. Erm… So was it wise to do that hacking? At the hospital, Minato meets Higa for the first time.

Episode 11
As explained by Higa, Uzume offered to do anything to protect Chiho and he merely respected her decision. Though he apologizes for the unintentional death of Uzume, he stops Minato before he turns into an angry monster by saying that they’re all victims of MBI’s twisted game and many lives ruined by that single man. As a Sekirei’s disease is incurable by modern medicine, the data Higa has only slows it down and passes a chip to Minato for Chiho. But he could get his hands on that technology that surpasses modern medicine and the only way is via MBI. Minato calls Takami, wanting a little favour about MBI’s technology but she shoots him down about his promise to be his own man and find his own answer with his own effort. Soon Minato gets a video mail from Minaka that he intends to assist him but with a condition: He has to reach the highest level of MBI tower by tomorrow midnight. Oh, another thing. He also sends mail to all other Ashikabis and Sekireis that haven’t won a single match yet, that if they prevent a certain team from advancing to the top level, they will be exempted from the victory rule and will not have their relationship terminated. And yes, all those who qualified are also free to participate. Looks like another frenzy is about to begin. Higa is seen discussing with Seo about a task to be done by the latter and he doesn’t mind as long he gets paid. The next day, Minato and his Sekireis are ready to charge into the MBI tower. For the first time, Matsu will be leaving her sanctuary. How long has it been since she first saw the sun? As part of her plan, she needs to hack into the tower’s systems to gain control of it and has Kusano and Homura accompany her via a botanic route while the rest follow Minato through the city. The plan to invade by day is so that there will be many people around. However MBI has thought of this and are a step ahead of them as helicopters fly through the city telling people not to leave their homes. Now the city has become a ghost town. Minato’s team are surrounded by a large group of Ashikabis and Sekireis, thinking this is their last chance for a victory. Sanada then rides through and gets pissed off when the rest calls him an idiot. He starts fighting everyone and in the mess, Minato and co gladly take this opportunity to slip away into the building. Matsu’s team stumbles upon Mikogami and his team of Sekireis, Akitsu and #65 Taki. Homura stalls them to let the duo escape. However with the combination of Akitsu’s ice and Taki’s mist, they freeze Homura. Minato has entered the MBI building but it’s like a trap because the shutters come shutting down and trapping them inside.

Episode 12
But it’s more woes for them since Minaka announces that they only have 60 minutes to get to the top. And since the elevators are out, I guess it’s only the flight of stairs. Wow. 108 levels… Crazy! Why didn’t Kazehana just whisk them up with her wind power instead of everyone running like mad rushing for time? As part of Minaka’s game, each time they reach a certain level, they will face the ‘mid-boss’. Like the first one is Benitsubasa. Kazehana fights her on another rematch while the rest advances. Next is Haihane and Tsukiumi offers to take this one. As for Homura’s frosting, seems he defrost himself with his great fire power and has extreme control over it, causing the surrounding plants to be on fire. Another tactical retreat, eh? Then she gets a call from Takami saying that the main control room is laced with traps. Since there is no signal in the tower, Homura has to rush to Matsu and Kusano before it’s too late. The duo are crawling through the air ventilation when they spot Mutsu and Mikogami being confronted with Karasuba. Both Sekireis clash swords. As for the other Ashikabis outside, they see the tower on fire and start thinking that they don’t really have to infiltrate the tower and just need to defeat the Ashikabi next to them. Yeah, they start fighting among each other and Sanada was pretty confused to see more mayhem unfolding before his eyes. Kazehana and Tsukiumi are having a tough time because their opponents got them in a pinch with tight enclosures (Kazehana has no wind to use and Tsukiumi will be squashed). Luckily, Matsu and Kusano have entered the control room and Matsu hacks everything and frees her comrades from the traps. They make a comeback so all the Disciplinary Squad members back out. Then little deadly robotic balls threaten to electrocute Matsu and Kusano. Kusano uses her plant vines to stall the traps while Matsu works fast and hard to find a way to disable them but the system is suddenly locked down. Sanada is bored with this lameness of everything and decides to go home. Minaka ups the ante by activating bombs he placed around the tower. So now it has turned into an event called The Great Escape From The Exploding Building. Better hurry, hurry and hurry.

Episode 13
The collapsing building won’t wait for Matsu. But thankfully in episode 13, Seo and his Sekireis arrive in time to stall the traps as he gives her a chip from Higa to disable the traps. Apparently his job is to access MBI’s server and steal all its valuable information. The traps further activate as they release poisonous gas. Matsu wants Seo to take Kusano to safety while she stays back to handle unfinished business. But Kusano gave Seo the slip to return to Matsu and buy her some time. Before they pass out, Matsu sees onscreen something about the Third Stage is about to begin and thinks all this have been planned out. Minato and Musubi reach the top and meet Minaka. Congratulating them for making it in time (with 37 seconds to spare!), he gives the chip to cure Chiho as promised. However he cautions that they have to escape since the explosions have weakened the building structure. Well, he did set explosives not for this event but demolition and its reconstruction. Minaka escapes via a capsule in the tower top. I don’t know why Musubi and Minato are jumping down from inside the building as it is collapsing. Shouldn’t it be faster, less dangerous and easier if they do it on the outside? I mean, they’re going to ‘fly’ down in the first place, right? Don’t worry, everyone in Minato’s harem is alright, though lying weak on the rubble. But standing between them is Karasuba. She hasn’t had her fun yet and wants Musubi to ‘play’ with her or else she’ll have to make do with the others. Musubi accepts and charges straight. We see the difference in their level. Let’s just say Karasuba is like waltzing through Musubi’s hits. She manages to stop her sword with both her palms but Karasuba is disappointed she isn’t strong enough. Minato goes over to protect her and wants all this to stop. Karasuba gets an idea maybe she’ll unleash her true power if Minato is killed. Musubi’s inner voice tells her about believing in their bond. She wants Minato to lend her his powers as she kisses him. Her Norito powers up and dramatically increases her speed and strength as she launches another attack on Karasuba. Their clash is so powerful that not only the debris are sent flying but Karasuba’s sword also broke. Musubi collapses after using up all her energy. Karasuba is going to finish her and Minato who goes over to cover her. But his other Sekireis stand up to protect them and tells her not to underestimate their bond. Karasuba decides to back off and hopes it will be more entertaining the next time they meet. In the aftermath, Takami leads the swift reconstruction of the MBI building, Chiho is cured and now able to stand on her own feet, Matsu ponders the destruction of the tower as a signal for the next stage as she is holding a weird item called Jinki and thinks Minaka will be looking for it, Higa realized he has been duped by Seo after seeing the data to be a fake (Matsu’s picture in it). Seems Seo two-timed him and he is laughing all the way to the bank with the tons of advance cash he has received. Life returns to normal for the Izumo Inn residence as Minato is now having a hard time tending to his wounded Sekireis wanting his attention. Another different battle, eh? But this is just the calm before the storm. Lastly, Minaka is floating in space (thanks to Matsu’s pre-tinkering of the capsule) and is preparing to re-enter orbit while planning for the next stage in his new capital.

On a wing and a prayer…
As expected and how things are going, the words “To Be Continued” just like in the first season means that there will be another sequel produced. I’m not sure if this will take another 2 years or so but things have started to heat up. Though the development of the story in this season is steady, however in my opinion I felt that it is somewhat slow. I’m not saying that it should be made in a rush but between both seasons, the only major development and advancement is the expansion of Minato’s Sekirei harem and the little events that will set course for the next stage of the Sekirei Plan. Of course that little flashback also helped to understand the formation of the Sekireis. I just thought that the game proper would start and I could see some tournament action between the other Sekireis but we’ve just got short little glimpses and introduction of the other potential opponent Sekireis and their little skirmish. But they replaced this season’s finale with some ‘tower climbing’ arc. Sheesh. By the way, I read that there are supposed to be 6 stages in the plan and as the manga is ongoing, currently it is still at some series of matches in the Third Stage. So maybe if there is going to be another sequel, it will take some time for this part to clear yet as plans or even outlines of the remaining stages are not revealed yet.

While we can see that the bond between Minato and his Sekireis have strengthened to a point whereby it isn’t about Ashikabi-Sekirei relation, noticed that Minato’s Sekireis are elemental base? Well, at least he’s got the 4 basic elemental of fire, wind, water and earth (plants in this case). Non-combatant Matsu provides the brains and intelligence while Musubi serves as a close-range fighter. He’s pretty well ‘equipped’, don’t you think? We are also introduced to the main and powerful Ashikabis that control certain area within the city. Due to the short nature of this sequel, nothing much can be said about them yet. Again it was a hit-and-miss encounter for Minato and Yukari. Both didn’t make any contact with each other nor do they know each other are involved in the Sekirei Plan. And Shiina is still looking for Kusano… It’s the case of right under their noses, so near yet so far. It was a bittersweet case for Uzume because I didn’t think she would get eliminated this early but it’s a good thing in a way that her Ashikabi is no longer under hostage. Characters like Seo and his twin Sekireis and the Disciplinary Squad trio didn’t make much screen time as they did back in the first season but they’re still the pretty same people with the former a shameless freeloader (his Sekireis always having to apologize for his attitude when borrowing stuff from Miya) and the latter a bloodthirsty action group especially with Karasuba as the leader. Miya’s Hannya mask is still as amusing as ever. Even if it isn’t revealed yet but you can tell or those interested would’ve looked it up and with the many hints dropped, she is actually Sekirei #01 which technically isn’t a Sekirei. Huh? Is it a wonder why nobody could beat her? She must have some plan by being passive in this game. Minaka may seem like a mad scientist and a comic relief but he’s got everything well planned out even if he doesn’t show it. Even Takami has a hard time understanding how he thinks or keep that guy away from doing things that will cause unnecessary problems. Heck, he is the big boss of MBI!

I want to mention something about the other minor Sekireis. I know there are 108 of them and all of them have been released into the capital and found their Ashikabi. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw them was it made me think that if they are some sort of cosplay people. I mean, we see all sorts of designs on them and with the kind of ‘weak’ and ‘not important’ Ashikabis, it’s hard to believe that they are really fighting babes rather than cosplay enthusiasts. Besides, many of them didn’t want to participate in the Sekirei Plan but was ultimately forced to or risked being separated forever. After finding yourself a gorgeous girl, do you think you want to let her go? And with the number of Sekireis drastically being reduced due to Minaka’s sudden and naughty prank, I somehow feel that there are still lots more of them hanging around. So let’s think about this and say half of them made it to the Third Stage, so that will be around 50 over of them, right? Some of the main powerful Ashikabis do own multiple and several Sekireis and could be way more than what Minato has. So if the next stage is going to be a team battle, what about those small fries that have only one Sekirei? Wouldn’t that sound like a one-sided match? Who cares? We know which team is going to emerge tops, right? And it’s going to be real hard for Minato and his Sekireis if they ever need to fight each other because there’ll be conflict of emotions and all. After all, there can only be one Sekirei left standing at the end of the game.

The opening theme for this season is also sung by the main quartet of Minato’s Sekireis (that’s before Kazehana and Homura got Winged) and is called Hakuyoku No Seiyaku ~Pure Engagement~. Somehow it gives the same feel as the opening theme of the first season. The ending theme didn’t sound like R&B this time and resembles more like anime pop. Also sung by that same quartet, Onnaji Kanji. Also just like in the previous season, a special ending theme for episode 10 called Oboeteiru Kara is for Uzume and Chiho’s character sung by Saori Hayami (though she is the seiyuu of Musubi) is a slow moderate piece.

In my previous blog on this series, I did mention I felt like having my own Sekirei harem. Sure, it looks fun if several busty babes start fighting for your attention but come to think of it, I don’t think I can really keep up with their pace or do them justice. Hats off to Minato who must be one great patient guy in dealing and treating well his Sekireis. Some bad Ashikabis should learn from him and not mistreat their Sekirei. Just because they are your Sekirei, that doesn’t mean you can do anything you want with them even if they allow it. This is what separates from a good master from the bad. Doing anything you like is only reserved for anime maids. Oh, what am I saying?! So it doesn’t matter the kind of person you love as long as you love him/her with all your heart, forever and ever. That does seem like a long time, doesn’t it? Well, I hope the sequel won’t take that long and cause my interest for this series to wane.

Vampire Knight

September 17, 2011

After all that hype regarding that teenage vampire series called Twilight, I decided to give a try for Vampire Knight. I may have not seen any of the Twilight movies but from some of the comments that I have read, some anime fans felt that Twilight was somewhat a little ripped off from Vampire Knight. That’s why I have to watch this anime series to check it out myself. Hey wait a minute. How the heck can I do comparison when I didn’t even watch the Hollywood movie?

Well let’s see what both shows have in common (from my perspective of course). They have quite a number of handsome hunks. Even more handsome are the main trio protagonists. The 2 main bishonen guys aren’t only just good looking but have their own dark brooding past as well. The main female protagonist has feelings for both of them and is somewhat caught between it all. And yes, did I mention about the vampires? Yeah, those blood sucking creatures of the night that fear the light, garlic and stakes. Okay, just made up that part from the light bit. Unlike conventional vampires, if they don’t show their fangs, deep crimson eyes and super healing ability, nobody would know that they’re vampires as they blend well within the human society. And yes, unlike in Twilight, there are no werewolves here. Yup. You read that right. No werewolves. Only vampires. At least this saves a controversial area of conflict.

Bella Swan’s counterpart in Vampire Knight is Yuuki Cross, the adopted daughter of the headmaster of the Cross Academy, Kaien Cross. She has no memories prior to her first 5 years in life and all that she remembers is that vampire Kaname Kuran (the so called Edward Cullen’s counterpart) saved her from a vicious vampire attack that probably killed her family too. Yeah, probably that’s where the love began. She likes him and he protects her. So it goes to show that not all vampires are bad. Coming into this equation of ‘love triangle’ is Zero Kiryuu. I suppose I’m not going to say he is Jacob Black’s counterpart because Zero is human (and from a line of a well-known vampire hunter) and he doesn’t have the biceps to show for. He too just like Yuuki has a tragic encounter with bad vampires in the past. His family killed and he is the only survivor and was subsequently taken under Kaien’s care. You could say this is his adopted son as well.

One major point in Cross Academy is the division of so called Day Class and Night Class. Like their names suggest, normal human students dress in black and attend normal classes in the day while their vampire counterparts don the white uniform and head to class when the sun sets. Yuuki and Zero are the only prefects in this school called Guardians tasked with ‘protecting’ the Day Class students from the Night Class. Actually, it isn’t so much about protecting those innocent humans from vampire fangs because those vampires under the Night Class are well behaved and mannered lot. Kaname is quite a respected leader and also a pure blood vampire so nobody dares go against his orders. Doing so is like making a death wish. So what are these Guardians really are supposed to protect Day Class from? Screaming fan girls who can’t wait to greet the hot handsome Night Class gang each time they depart from their gate to the academy. Oh, if they only knew they were vampires. Maybe that will make them even go wilder. It makes you think if the duo are enough to handle those annoying fan girls (sometimes you just want to strangle them). Well, only Yuuki and Zero know that the Night Class students are vampires and this is a well-kept secret. Holding them back might be a tough job. Yuuki may have a hard time holding back those irritating fan girls but Zero’s cold and menacing look is enough to put off them off. He’s no fun. But he’s effective. I guess that’s why there’s no need for anymore Guardians. It also makes me wonder Kaien’s rational of splitting both classes. I mean, his ideal is to create a world whereby both humans and vampires can coexist in peace (which is supported by Kaname as well) but keeping it a secret from the human’s side? Maybe it’s not time for them to handle the truth yet.

Episode 1
So we are introduced to all the characters (including Night Class students that are part of Kaname’s entourage such as his personal bodyguard Seiren, Hanabusa Aidou, Akatsuki Kain, Takuma Ichijou, Ruka Souen, and the expressionless pair of Senri Shiki and Rima Touya) , the setting, the potential drama and build-up for the series. During a night with their usual rounding, Yuuki spots Hanabusa and Akatsuki threatening to feed on a pair of Day Class girls who secretly sneaked in just to take pictures of their favourite hot guys (they smelt blood when one of them was injured). They were going for Yuuki (who also bruised her hand) when Zero steps in to fire a warning shot from his gun, Bloody Rose. I suppose any smart vampire will learn how to back off because it’s a gun which can hurt them deeply and probably a fatal one. Kaname appears on the scene, reprimands his underlings and has Seiren erase the Day Class girls’ memories. Hey, it’s that easy right to erase people’s memories? So why the need to hide the fact that they’re vampires in the first place?

Episode 2
More woes for our Guardian duo because they are tasked to organize the exchange of gifts between Day Class and Night Class for Valentine’s Day. You know what this means. Lines and rows of infatuating fan girls waiting to give their chocolates to their admired ones. Heck, there’s even special ‘lanes’ set up for them to do so. Yuuki wanted to give hers to Kaname but was too busy preventing those irritating fan girls from stepping out of line and missed her chance. However Zero picked up her dropped present and hand it to Kaname. Yuuki isn’t too happy about this since she thought it would be hard for Kaname to get chocolates from her. I supposed even if Zero has no girlfriend, he has got lots of enemies. Okay, maybe just the Night Class of Hanabusa and the rest. They confront him for that confrontation the other day. Sure, they’re going to duke it out but with Yuuki stepping in between, the vampires back out since they know too well that they’ll incur the wrath of Kaname if they ever fight. Then something odd is happening on Zero. It’s like he has this fit and urge whenever he sees Yuuki’s neck. Oh dear. Please don’t tell me… It’s like he’s trying to control himself hard and his breathing is rather heavy and uncomfortable. Yuuki gives Zero her chocolates but he has that urge again and leaves. Hey what do you know? Vampires have the convenient little blood tablets to put in their drinks instead of sucking humans’ neck. But does it taste as good as humans?

Episode 3
Another assignment for our Guardians to do a spot check on prohibited items in the dorms of both Day Class and Night Class students. Yuuki spots blood tablets in Zero’s pocket but she didn’t any further than that. Because of that, Zero runs away to the nearby town as Yuuki goes in search for him. She encounters a little boy and helps him get his stuck balloon. But he rushes off as she tries to find and return his balloon. When she does at a bell tower, it’s a trap because the kid turns out to be a vampire as it bites Yuuki’s hand! I guess her scream was loud enough to attract Zero, who was in turn attacked by a female vampire. Thankfully he could fight for himself fires his Bloody Rose and kills her outright. Yuuki could’ve been done for if Kaname didn’t appear in time. For hurting his beloved Yuuki, that kid is going to hell. It must be something horrible enough for him to shield Yuuki’s eyes while he vaporizes the vampire kid. Kaname explains these type of vampires are called Level E. Humans that have turned into vampires and their thirst for blood has them spiralling out of control, thus making them very dangerous. We also learn that the vampire that killed Zero’s family is of a pure blood and when a person is bitten by a pure blood, either he/she dies or slowly undergoes a painful transformation into a vampire himself/herself (probably the reason why Yuuki didn’t turn into a vampire after being bitten). Which brings us to this case. Yuuki spots Zero at the school’s stairways. He doesn’t want her to come near but she wants to talk to him. So I guess her smell of blood is too good to refuse so Zero sinks his fangs into Yuuki’s neck! Oh sh*t! He’s a vampire! Now I understand why Kaname told him he did his best to suppress his vampire instincts for 4 years. Wait. Four freaking years?!

Episode 4
Either Yuuki faints because she can’t believe Zero is a vampire or he just sucked too much blood from her, leaving her anaemic. In the infirmary, Kaien puts the bandages on Yuuki’s neck while Kaname goes to calm down his Night Class fellows (the smell blood is too hard to ignore). Yuuki learns that since Zero isn’t a pure blood vampire, she can’t be turned into one although she is bitten. She now understands why Zero hates vampires very much since the pure blood vampire, Shizuka Hiou was the one responsible for killing Zero’s family and turning him into a vampire. She overhears that Zero is to be transferred to the Night Class for his safety as she heads over to Night Class’ dorm to talk to Kaname about her objections. But she meets Hanabusa and he’s really intimidating her especially about her bite marks which he knows isn’t Kaname’s. He backs down when Kaname slaps him for his rudeness. Kaname suggests she leave and never return here. Plus, since Zero has ‘taken’ something from her, he should be some sort of use. In the end, even if it’s Yuuki, he can’t simply turn down her request to stop Zero’s transfer. After all, humans like him will eventually become Level E. Yuuki isn’t convinced with this and goes to see Zero in his room. He is trying to end it all by pointing a gun to his own head, fearing he would turn into an uncontrollable beast the next time. Yuuki stops him so he packs his bags and leave. She goes after him and hugs his back, asserting that she has known him for a long time and is his comrade. Meanwhile Kaien meets the head of the Hunter Association as the latter mentions of putting someone in the academy to watch Zero. If he is deemed dangerous, that person will not hesitate to finish him off.

Episode 5
That person is Touga Yagari and he is the new ethics teacher for both Day Class and Night Class. Zero seems to know who this bugger is and leaves in the middle of class with Yuuki following. The duo go about in town doing errands for Kaien when Zero goes missing. Again Yuuki goes to find him but is being attacked by another Level E vampire. She tries to defend herself with her pole weapon, Artemis but could barely finish the job. Zero pops up in time but he too can’t kill the vampire off. The honours go to Shiki and Ichijou who were passing by as they’re tasked to hunt Level E vampires. Ichijou tells them to come to their dorm tonight if they want answers. Turns out to be Ichijou’s birthday bash. Kaname calls Yuuki and Zero closer and explains about the never-ending war between humans and vampires. During the time when the battle between vampires and vampire hunters were at its greatest, human vampires were created by vampires by dragging humans into the fray, making them soldiers for the war. Since vampire nobles have control over them, they have to kill them sometimes if they step out of line (the vampire hierarchy is strict with pure bloods on top followed by nobles and then ordinary vampires. At the bottom of the pack is of course Level E). Kaname has Yuuki sit next to him as this would be the safest place for her. Zero mentions about a vampire hunter’s job to kill vampires but Kaname answers that he couldn’t finish the kill thinking he pitied the Level E. Angry Zero pulls out his gun at his head, causing the rest to be alerted. When Kaname calms everyone down, Zero leaves and Yuuki tags along. At the pool, Zero can’t control his urge and is about to bite Yuuki’s neck again but she flings them into the pool, subsiding his urge. But Zero experiences another kind of pain when Yagari fires a shot into his shoulders. Zero recognizes his teacher.

Episode 6
Flashback reveals that Yagari lost his eye when he saved Zero from a Level E vampire but didn’t regret it (apparently Zero prevented him from killing this vampire who is his nurse because he still believed she’s a good person but she took this opportunity to attack instead). Yagari prepares to kill Zero but Yuuki protects him. Kaien comes by to take care of things. Next day, Zero is absent from class as Yuuki finds out he is being isolated. After being told by Yagari where Zero is being held, she goes to see him and in the bathroom, she allows him to suck her blood. He couldn’t hold back anymore and sinks his fangs into her neck till he is full. She wants to help him suppress the beast inside of him. Yuuki tries to hide her bitten neck but even so she can’t hide it from sharp Kaname. Later Kaname passes by Yagari as the latter wonders why he didn’t finish off Zero. After Kaname gives a warning shot, his answer is that so he doesn’t lose Yuuki. Next day, Yuuki senses something amiss when Zero and Yagari didn’t come to class. She rushes to Zero’s room and to her horror sees Yagari pointing his gun at Zero. However Zero pushes away the gun. Yagari remembers Zero’s promise of not making him regret losing his right eye. Seeing him in this pitiful state wants to make him kill Zero but he wants him to struggle on and not run away. As Yagari leaves, he tells Zero that ‘that woman’ is still alive. Zero promises to teary Yuuki that he won’t run away anymore so she vows not to regret it.

Episode 7
Yuuki has flashbacks from the time she was taken in by Kaien after a near-vampire attack and meeting Kaname. Though she was first afraid of knowing he is a vampire, gradually, they grew close to each other. Then when Kaien brought Zero back, she saw him clawing his bitten neck till it was bloodied. She assured him that it will be alright because she’ll always be with him. So when Kaname and Zero first met then, Zero tried to kill him with a kitchen knife (seriously, can that even hurt a vampire?). Obviously Kaname doesn’t plan to be killed by him and this causes Zero to lock himself up in his room. Yuuki tried to comfort him but he brushes her off. Soon after, Kaien establishes the Day Class and Night Class, much to Zero’s dismay. Though Kaien assured that the other vampires would behave with Kaname around, Zero believed if Kaname betrays them, everything would be over. One day, Yuuki tried to see Kaname but got tired of waiting and fell asleep on the stairways. Kaname (nearly had the thought of biting her neck but backed off) puts her to bed. When she wakes up, she peeks through the door to shockingly see Kaname sucking on Ruka’s neck. In present time, Kaname talks to Zero about the uneasy peace in school and believes Zero won’t betray Yuuki, thus the reason why he lets him live.

Episode 8
Ichijou’s grandfather who is also part of the Vampire Council, Asato Ichijou AKA Ichiou plans to visit the dorm. The vampire students await his arrival. Ichiou talks to Kaname and when he attempts to drink Kaname’s blood, Hanabusa and Ruka pull them away. Kaname reprimands Hanabusa for being rude so Ichiou kneels before Kaname to show his reverence as he feels assured that his grandson is under his care in this academy. As Ichiou leaves, he tells Ichijou to continue keeping watch over Kaname, the reason he lets him enrol in this academy. However Ichijou asserts he will not betray his friends. Later Kaien tells Zero and Yuuki that he has received orders from the Hunter’s Association that Zero is to hunt down Level E vampires and he has no right to turn it down. Their hunt has them fighting a Level E who is targeting women. But it seems Shiki and Rima too are chasing after the same Level E as they have received orders from the Vampire Council to hunt down Level E. The vampire has Yuuki in his grasps but Zero saves her and kills him. Before he dies, he mentions that he is glad that he doesn’t have to kill anymore. The whole event is being witnessed through the eyes of a raven to a little girl who finds the turn of events interesting and will be enrolling herself at Cross Academy.

Episode 9
I guess it must be tiring affair day in, day out. Yuuki once again is having a hard time keeping out those annoying fan girls because of the upcoming ball event that both the Day Class and Night Class will attend. That night, Kaien introduces Yuuki to a new transfer student to the Night Class, she is Maria Kurenai. Maria fears of being ostracized due to her weak body but Yuuki vows to protect her. But during Night Class, seems like she’s a different story. She’s rather bold with Kaname but excuses herself after sensing the rest giving her hostile stares. As Yuuki talks to Zero, that guy suddenly points his gun at Maria when she appears. Yuuki protects her and upon learning Maria isn’t that woman, he puts away his gun. Maria gets Kaname’s permission to move into an empty dorm away from everyone else as Hanabusa talks to Akatsuki about Shizuka, a pure blood who disappeared after going mad. Next day as Yuuki worries about her exam problems, she spots Ichijou chasing after Maria right through the academy in broad daylight. Imagine all the fan girls. They think this must be some sort of dreaming for their hunks to be running around at this time here. Yuuki wanted to go after her but is stopped by Zero who warns not to get too close to her. Then Hanabusa did the most ‘vile’ thing as he hugs Yuuki to stir up all the hatred and jealousy towards Yuuki. Woah. They’re burning with anger! They give the poor Guardian a good chase for answers. I have one: You’re losers! Yuuki manages to give them the slip and bumps into Ichijou as they talk about pure blood’s ability to get other vampires to totally obey them. Hanabusa’s public hugging was to get Yuuki out of the way so he could talk to Zero. He wants to know if Maria and Shizuka are related as Hanabusa replies that they are distant relatives. However Zero is suspicious that Shizuka may have changed her appearance since she was last heard of 4 years ago. Hanabusa says that Zero should know since she has blood bonds with her. Back in the dorm, Kaname entrusts Ichijou to look after Maria even if she’s going to be hard to handle. Kaname mentions about the pawns of a certain woman wants has gathered in this academy but it is part of Kaname’s plan. Meanwhile Maria is going to take a bite over her manservant’s neck but backs off as though she’s just teasing him.

Episode 10
Yuuki has a hard time focusing on her studies so Kaien suggests Zero to coach her. She notices the spot on his neck whereby he was bitten before. Zero later goes to confront Maria at her dorm (worried Yuuki following behind as usual). He points Bloody Rose at her but can’t kill her as Maria explains he can’t kill the person who made him a vampire, thus his master. Zero realizes that Maria is Shizuka though the body she is using isn’t hers. Maria takes her sword and slashes Zero unconscious but doesn’t kill him. Kaname grabs Yuuki from the back and erases her memories. She wakes up the next day not remembering what happened the night before. Kaname asks her about the ball but Yuuki says she has security duties. Later when Yuuki picks up the stray cat, Maria appears before her and mentions the cruelty of forgetting the person who thinks so much about her. The cat scratches her cheeks and the blood causes her to remember those events. So her memories weren’t completely erased? Maria warns that Zero is closer to become a Level E and suggests the only way to save him. Something which Yuuki can only do. Meanwhile Zero dreams of his twin brother, Ichiru. They were very close to each other though Ichiru had a weaker body and Zero making up what he lacked. One day they saw a vampire woman (Shizuka) crying and wonder if their parents as vampire hunters had anything to do with it. Then one day, Zero was captured and bitten by Shizuka in front of his parents. She then proceeded to kill them. Before Zero collapsed, he saw Ichiru by Shizuka’s side smiling. When Zero wakes up, he sees Maria’s manservant and knows who he is even before taking off his mask. It’s Ichiru. And he thought he had died all the while.

Episode 11
Well, they aren’t the kind of twins that love each other. As Ichiru explains, he hated Zero because of his own weak body (in which he overheard his parents mentioning about the dangers of letting him become a vampire hunter), thus the reason why he aligned with Shizuka and killed the entire family. But he requested Shizuka to keep Zero alive so that he could be tormented and suffer the pain. Shizuka also cured his weak body. Ichiru offers Zero to be Shizuka’s servant but he refuses. Ichiru draws his sword but decides not to kill him and let him suffer more. Then Yagari barges in and helps Zero up. Yagari always considered Ichiru as student and he proves it when he protects him from his own sword (Zero deflected it) and taking the stab in his place. After Zero sends Yagari to the infirmary, he goes look for Yuuki who is helping her class setting up the ball. Seeing he is injured, he calls him to the store room and offers her neck, in which Zero doesn’t hesitate to bite! This reminded Yuuki of her deal to save Zero: Either to kill Kaname or become Maria’s servant. During the night of the ball, Kaname gives Yuuki a dress to wear. She finds him outside the terrace alone as they dance together. She mentions about erasing her memories that night so Kaname explains he only wanted to protect her. Because Yuuki can’t bring herself to kill him (as Maria’s reason is that he lowers his guard when Yuuki is with him), she runs away. Zero spots this and goes after her after confronting Kaname what happened (he says Zero’s supposed to be her shield). Elsewhere, Hanabusa and Akatsuki enter an underground chamber to see Shizuka’s real body in a container. Because Seiren warns them not to get involved further, they back off.

Episode 12
Yuuki heads straight to Maria’s dorm. Seems the only choice is to be her servant. But before Maria could suck her blood, she pushes her away. Ichiru brings Shizuka’s real body as she awakens in it and explains the only way to save Zero is to drink her blood. Then Zero comes in to finish things off but Yuuki protects her, noting this is the only way to save him. While they’re arguing, Shizuka uses her powers to control Zero to hold Yuuki. Shizuka bites Zero’s neck but when she targets Yuuki, Zero manages to break free from her control and grabs her throat. Zero shoots his own leg before pumping several shots into Shizuka. She then leaves the room since she has something else to do as Ichiru takes over. Yuuki learns about Ichiru. As the brothers fight, Ichiru mentions how he was jealous that Shizuka turned Zero into a vampire and ironically didn’t do the same to him. Though he always followed her, Zero was always in her eyes. Shizuka meets Kaname in a dark room. He then pierces his hands through his heart and then biting her neck. He promises not to let her life go to waste and vows to destroy their mutual enemy, that person who has been upsetting the pure bloods (shocked Hanabusa eavesdropping outside). Ichiru senses Shizuka’s dying breath and leaves the fight to rush to her side. Zero wanted to go kill Shizuka but is stopped by Yuuki, thinking that he will end his life after he achieves that. Zero hugs her and says though he has that thought of dying with her, he doesn’t feel that way anymore and promises to return. Devastated Ichiru finds Shizuka’s lifeless body.

Episode 13
Holding dying Shizuka in his arms, she tells him she is the only person she refuses to turn into a vampire even if he offers his blood. Her reason was so that he wouldn’t turn into a complete servant and obey her every word (it’s more fun when there are people who go against you, right?). So turning Zero into a vampire wasn’t boring? Well, he’s an interesting guy because he did resist trying to become one. Shizuka reveals her flashback whereby she had a human vampire servant as her lover. She loved him so much but before he turned into Level E, he was brutally murdered by the Kiryuu parents. She felt great anger and thus targeted them as revenge. By the time Zero comes in, Shizuka had already disappeared. Ichiru felt sad that right till the end, she never acknowledged him because she doesn’t want his blood. Zero says he understands Shizuka’s intention because he too has someone he doesn’t want to become a vampire. Ichiru leaves but Zero collapses due to the pain and all. When Yuuki comes by, Zero is gone and Kaien says he has been taken away for treatment. The next few days, Zero is absent from class. Kaname is acting like as though Zero was the one who killed Shizuka but Hanabusa doesn’t mention anything seeing that he knew what he saw then. Either way, Kaname has to report to the Council seeing that a pure blood was murdered. Afterwards Hanabusa talks to Akatsuki about Shizuka. The latter mentions about Shizuka’s fiancee changed the list of vampires to be executed by the Hunter Association. The puzzling thing was he hasn’t turned into a Level E yet and the fact Shizuka is in hiding from the Council who are badly pursuing her and her appearance in this academy puts her at risk. Hanabusa suspects it might be something she’s after. Kaname sees Zero being chained in a room. He is at his limit of turning into a vicious vampire. Kaname mentions he left Shizuka’s blood for him to drink but it was unfortunate he couldn’t. Seeing how depressed Yuuki is, Kaname offers Zero to drink his blood to alleviate him from his madness and the latter doesn’t resist sinking his fangs into his neck. Kaname mentions that he is only allowing him to live for Yuuki’s sake.

Vampire Knight Guilty

If the ending was kinda abrupt and unsatisfying, don’t worry because after taking a short break, the series resumes with an equal amount of episodes called Vampire Knight Guilty. The drama intensifies and more secrets and revelations will be revealed as it is going to get darker from this point on. And no, there aren’t going to be any werewolves making their appearance. This is purely and exclusively a vampire anime. No room for those hairy canines.

Episode 1
Life seemingly returns to normal. Well, almost. Yuuki is having a hard time keeping those irritating fan girls at bay. If only Zero was here. Speaking of the devil, he’s back! And with that cold attitude too. So nothing changed? It could be more than meets the eye. Now in addition to those urges, Zero has those headache visions of seeing a guy being cut to pieces. Later Maria awakens in her normal self and informs Zero about Shizuka seeking a certain person responsible for changing the execution list that resulted in her lover’s death. Not long, Yuuki is being attacked by several vampires sent by the Council. They are hunting down Zero whom they believed killed Shizuka. Though Zero appears in time to save her skin (this pattern is kinda getting repetitive), Kaname and his Night Class students order the attacking vampires to leave. Well, they can’t disobey a pure blood. So I guess with conflict of orders, I suppose they’re smart to go with the pure blood’s one (must be that hierarchy thingy). However since Kaname still makes it in a way that Zero was the one who killed Shizuka, Yuuki gets upset and will not talk to him anymore till he withdraws his accusations and proclaim Zero innocent. That night when Zero is asleep, he dreams of Shizuka but wakes up from the nightmare calling Yuuki’s name. She’s right next to him, wondering what the hell. She comforts him and he nearly kissed her. Ah well, don’t want to make it seem like he is going after her neck, no?

Episode 2
Yuuki and her friend Sayori “Yori” Wakaba meet a lost boy while walking through town. Yuuki offers to help him find his parents while Yori goes ahead to return to the dorm. When Yuuki and the kid reach an abandoned building, he kisses her and this causes Yuuki to collapse. Seems at this building, there is an underground party hosted by Shiki’s uncle. So it’s a little surprise if the Night Class gang who are attending this party see Yuuki unconscious on the floor. They may be going “Hey, what the heck is she doing here? Am I seeing things?”. Kaname takes her in and when she wakes up, she is being told about the vampire party and strictly not to leave the room. Ironically, Zero is also at the party to keep an eye on things as instructed by the Hunter Association. As they say, curiosity kills the cat. Yuuki spots the lost kid peeking from the door and goes out to follow him but ends up having a view of the party. She also sees how popular Kaname is as every darn parent wants him to consider their daughter’s hand in marriage to him. Can vampires do polygamy? He’s polite enough not to accept or turn them down. He’s just smooth… When Yuuki returns to her room, Kaname is there too. As punishment for not listening to him, he asks if she wants to be a vampire and live forever with him. Yuuki agrees and prepares to bite the bullet. Kaname shows his fangs but before he could take a bite, he pulls back, saying it was just a joke and had gone too far. Should she feel relieved? He apologizes and asserts he will never hurt her.

Episode 3
During the vacation, the Night Class students head over to Hanabusa’s villa for the holidays. Except for Shiki who will be returning to his family’s home (because his uncle said so) and ironically Hanabusa staying back at the dorm. Seems he has requested Akatsuki to do some research on Kaname’s family at his villa. I suppose he has other important things to do seeing that he asked his buddy and not do it himself. Ah, perhaps this is a chance to sneak inside Kaname’s room and check out his secrets. Like he’ll find anything. Like Kaname will be that careless. Then Hanabusa surprisingly pays Yuuki and Zero a visit at their dorm. No choice, they have to treat their ‘guest’ by cooking dinner. Man, he has got a huge appetite. Makes you wonder if all those blood tablets are enough for him. Hanabusa recalls how he first met Kaname when they’re young. Being the rash kid he is, he was honest in telling Kaname straight in the face that he hated him, much to the chagrin of the adults as they lecture him about the hierarchy and pure bloods’ status. Then at a ball soon after Kaname’s parent’s death, he noticed Kaname has turned even colder and unfriendly but that’s when Hanabusa started to take a liking for Kaname and called him his friend. Yuuki accidentally cuts her finger with the knife so Zero got attracted to her blood and sucks it. Hanabusa witnessed it all and soon leaves. He rummages through Kaname’s room and though couldn’t find anything, he knows he is planning something.

Episode 4
Shiki’s uncle takes Shiki underground. He is shown a man in a tube supposedly his father. He awakens and wants Shiki to lend him his powers and ‘possesses’ the poor kid. With Seiren reporting this to Kaname, holiday time is over so the vampire gang return to the dorm. Because Yuuki is having bloody hallucinations and the fact that she remembers nothing prior to her early years in life is bugging her tremendously, Zero advises her to go to the Hunter Association’s library to look for clues about her past. The meet the Association’s head as Yuuki is shocked to learn Kaien was once a vampire hunter. A legendary one, in fact. As they search through the books, the Association’s head confronts Zero in some room that is causing Zero’s urge to go wild, she mentions about drinking the blood of a  pure blood’s to save himself from becoming a Level E (didn’t he do that with Kaname?) or reverse the Curse of the Twins. Then a book that Yuuki is reading, suddenly bursts into flames, destroying all evidence that may lead her to remember her past. This causes her to be upset so Zero comforts her all night long. Perhaps it’s just an excuse so that he could suck more blood from her. Mmm… Does a sad girl’s blood taste any different? When Hanabusa confronts Kaname about his scheme, he just lets out a little secret that his parents didn’t commit suicide, but were murdered. Lastly, Ichijou visits Ichiou who addresses ‘Shiki’ as his lord. Hmm… That can’t be Shiki because of his different eye colour and yeah, he has more expression on his face worth a lifetime.

Episode 5
Yuuki experiences more horrifying bloody hallucinations and hearing malicious voices in her head that would send any normal girl into trauma mode. This causes her to accidentally attack Kaname (but stop short of touching him) before coming to her senses. He hugs her and confesses that he loves her. Later Zero confronts Kaname and the former thinks he is messing with her memories so Kaname throws him against the wall. He can’t kill him because he needs him to protect Yuuki and forces him to drink his blood. Can’t resist the urge, eh? Might as well since it will prevent him from descending further into Level E madness. As for Ichiru, he is back and working for the Council as her returns to Cross Academy. As a transfer student. How can this happen? Well, Kaien says that Zero approved of it. Plus, he feels this is perhaps the best chance for the twins to improve each other’s relation. And man, that Ichiru is such a hit with the girls. Makes them wonder even if they’re twins, how come their personalities are so contrasting. Like day and night. With one in, another goes out. Yagari this time leaves the academy to his own investigation. Yuuki goes to talk to Kaname again and begs him to tell the truth but he is worried that she will hate him if she learns her bloody and tragic past. It’s easy for her in her position now to say she won’t. However Kaname throws in a condition that if she wants to know her past, she must become his lover. And all in good timing, Zero walks by to see their intimacy. Only, Kaname asserts that he will protect Yuuki as her lover from now on. Like rubbing it in his face, no?

Episode 6
Though Yuuki experiences more restless nights and nightmares, Kaname orders his Night Class friends to guard Yuuki seeing that she has become his lover. Oh, the fan girls are going to hate her. Understandably, Yuuki finds it annoying that they’re following here everywhere, attracting unpleasant stares from the rest. But she has to suck it up and live with it because as Hanabusa mentions, their pride as vampires is at stake especially if it’s Kaname. Yuuki rests in the infirmary since she is feeling unwell. Hanabusa notices Ichiru with some weird blood bottle in his hand and confiscates it from him. Ichiru didn’t put up any resistance and leaves. He reports this to Kaname but he mentions Ichiru isn’t the real enemy and that he has his own role to play. Akatsuki reports to Hanabusa about his investigation and it seems that when he is close to finding clues, the page will burst to flames. It must have something to do on why Kaname is going to great lengths to protect Yuuki. So why the heck was there evidence in the first place? Wouldn’t it be easier if it was destroyed and never recorded in the first place? Kaien invites Ichiru to have dinner with him, Zero and Yuuki. Interestingly, even if he didn’t seem interested, he showed up. However it goes downhill when Yuuki brings up the topic about mistaking Ichiru for Zero at the infirmary. Zero blows his top that he might have done something funny on her so Ichiru leaves. Ichijou and Shiki return to the dorm. Rima notices something different in Shiki and realizes he’s not the person she knew.

Episode 7
As ‘Shiki’ meets Kaname, the latter instantly knows that this person is Rido Kuran, his uncle, Shiki’s father and Shizuka’s fiancee (wow, that’s a lot of relationships going on). Kaname attacks but is stopped by Ichijou. He doesn’t want innocent Shiki to be harmed. Later Rido wants to ‘snack’ on Ruka and corners her but she is saved by Akatsuki. Ichijou comes between them and tells them to leave things as they are as they don’t want Kaname to find out about this. Yuuki continues to bug and beg Kaname about her past but he’s not telling. So much so she collapses and Kaname takes her to Kaien’s room. Kaien mentions something about a promise made to Yuuki’s mother to protect her. More nightmare woes for Yuuki so much so she looks like she’s suffering. Zero comes in to check on her but Yuuki starts to strangle him. Yuuki gets upset when he didn’t put up a fight because he feels his life belongs to her (hey, he drank her blood). Yuuki insists that everything is her fault and that she was the one who pushed Zero to where he is now. When Zero mentions she sounded like she needed him, she replied that isn’t true and the person she needed most all the while was in fact Kaname. She pushes him out of her room and continues to cry in pain (still having those hallucinations) when she sees Kaname standing from the window (this is no hallucination). He casts a calming spell on her and takes her away. Then on the rooftop, Kaname sinks his teeth into Yuuki’s neck. She panics upon realizing what he is doing but he holds her down. Like some sort of S&M play, Kaname then kisses Yuuki and makes her drink his blood. When they’re done, they hear a click of a gun. Zero is furious that Kaname has turned his Yuuki into a vampire (yeah, we all the main protagonists as vampires now). However Yuuki protects Kaname and says not to shoot her brother! WTF?! Then she collapses as Kaname says he would be happy if that was true.

Episode 8
So this is where the revelation/confusion (depending on your view. Mine is the latter) starts. As Kaname explains Yuuki is 100% Kuran pure blood. Yuuki dreams of how she spent her happy days with her brother whom she loved dearly. She even promised to marry him, just like how their parents Haruka (yes, a father with a girl’s name) and Juuri did. Are vampires okay with incest? Apparently it’s okay in keeping the pureness of their pure blood lineage. Anyway they kept Yuuki’s birth a secret from the Council as they fear they would use her for their nefarious ends. However they couldn’t keep her hidden for long since Rido (who is part of the Council) comes looking for her and wants them to hand Yuuki over. This was when Juuri uses her powers to seal Yuuki’s memories and vampire powers so that she could live as a normal human being. WTF?! Is this even possible? How can a vampire be a human? Wouldn’t every human turned into a vampire use this method to turn themselves back? So with Yuuki’s blood permeating the academy, why is it that every vampire is shocked to learn Yuuki is a pure blood? Are they saying Juuri’s powers even suppress the vampire blood flowing in Yuuki? Kaname’s friends pledge their loyalty to Kaname not because of his blood but their friendship. Kaname explains Yuuki was born to be his fiancee. When Yuuki wakes up, her body is urging for blood. Being just ‘awakened’, she can’t control her powers as she unleashes a powerful blast enough to shatter the windows just after remembering how her parents were brutally murdered. Then Yuuki and Kaname proceed to lick each other’s blood. Meanwhile Rima confronts Shiki/Rido as they both fight. Rima tries to awaken Shiki by mocking him. Seems to work a little as the body is fighting back and resisting Rido. Yuuki remembers Zero and decides to go see him, disobeying Kaname’s orders to stay put. Akatsuki and Hanabusa are in a bind to protect Yuuki so she has them tag along. Kaname orders Seiren to take care of the Day Class students and then he talks to Ruka as she pledges her loyalty to him. Kaien takes out a sword from a chest he thought he would never have to use again.

Episode 9
Yuuki is outside Zero’s room and from behind the door, Zero points his gun at her direction. He is upset that she has no trace of humanity in her left so she agrees and says that the vampire side ate the Yuuki he knew. Meanwhile Ichiru opens the coffin containing Rido’s real body. Kaname comes in and borrows his sword to stab it. However he didn’t just stab the body, but his own hand as well and letting his blood flow into the body. Ichijou returns with Shiki’s unconscious body. A flashback reveals how Haruka bid Juuri farewell before his final fight with Rido. In the end, Haruka was killed when Rido stabbed his heart with a vampire hunter’s weapon. Young Kaname saw what was happening and rushed to Haruka’s side but it’s too late as he vanished into dust. Kaname was filled with anger but couldn’t kill Rido because he is Kaname’s master. Rido was the one who awakened Kaname, the first ancestor of the Kuran clan by kidnapping and using Haruka and Juuri’s first son but since it wasn’t enough, that’s why he returned to steal Yuuki after being imprisoned and released by the Council for 10 years. Kaname then blasts Rido into thousands of pieces though it won’t kill him. Though it will take time for him to regenerate, Kaname vowed to find a way to kill him then. Yagari returns and meets Kaien. Seems he has received orders from the Hunter Association to rid of Zero. Then Zero comes in, his body in pain and wants Yagari to put him out of his misery, thinking that’s his reason for coming back. The Association’s head is at Ichiou’s mansion. Seems she was the one who ordered Zero’s imprisonment so he can’t interfere with their plans. Ichiou mentions about conspiring with the Council to obtain ultimate power. Yagari throws Zero into prison and lectures him about his actions of wanting to die. He believes that Zero is not a vampire but a vampire hunter. He lays Bloody Rose down next to him and leaves. Zero is having deep thoughts about Yuuki.

Episode 10
Yuuki’s first day as a vampire watching the sun rise. How ironic is that? But no time to enjoy the view as the Night Class students are helping to evacuate the Day Class students from an impending war on the academy. But it’s too late so Kaien has Yagari take them to shelter in the hall. Vampires start creeping in and attacking. If not for the Night Class students, those stowaway girls from the Day Class could have been goners. Here’s another irony: Vampires killing vampires. Yori, who is worried about Yuuki, sneaked out and nearly turned herself into a vampire meal if not for Hanabusa and Yuuki’s actions. Yuuki couldn’t hold her Artemis anymore (that pole has some anti-vampire effect) so she apologizes to Yori for lying to her about being a vampire. But Yori doesn’t care about that trivial stuff because to her she’ll always be her best friend. Yagari encounters his Hunter Association comrades (who are here to kill Zero – hey, why are they dressed like as though they’re some RPG party) and warns them after a little display of power. They decide to listen to him and go away. When Rido awakens in his real body, it’s like every vampire in the academy could feel his awakening. Must be some overwhelming aura, eh? Ichiru greets him while Yuuki wants to go see Rido but is stopped by Hanabusa. I guess her speech was moving enough to make him allow to her the slip. Zero is still in a dilemma when Kaname appears. He tells him the truth that he created Zero to kill Rido. Yeah, everything was part of his plan ever since day one. Look at it, he blood drank from the pure blood. From Shizuka to Kaname and even Yuuki. So he’s got to be one heck of a powerful being with all the bloods of the pure blood inside him. This power is enhanced since he is a twin of a vampire hunter and its powerful half. Kaname is confident that Zero will never betray Yuuki and plays mind games with him that Rido’s target is Yuuki. So if he fails to protect her, Rido will go after Yuuki.

Episode 11
The real Shiki awakens and thanks Rima for waking him up. The Night Class students continue to battle the endless wave of vampires, turning the academy into a mountain of dust. Rido is having some blood orgy fest. Draining the blood of the women till they turn into dust. Kaien faces off with the Association’s Head. She gives him a last chance to hand over Zero but he refuses and unleashes some sword technique (one slash to destroy the entire ground! Oh sh*t!) on her but she retreats. With Zero still having not made up his mind, this time Ichiru pays him a visit and picks up the gun and shoots him. However it isn’t fatal. Then Zero notices that Ichiru is also bleeding profusely (seems when Rido awakened, he tried to kill him as revenge for Shizuka but was dealt with a fatal blow). Then Ichiru mentions about how he hates him and all those jealousy thingy of the past. About the Curse of the Twins, it is believed that vampire hunters can never have twins. Even if they do, the stronger twin will devour the weaker one (like a vampire). But it is strange in Zero and Ichiru’s case for them to even born and survive. So the point is Ichiru wants Zero to drink his blood and ‘devour’ him so that he could fully obtain the true powers of the vampire hunter that rightfully belonged to him. This is the final piece of the puzzle that will power up Zero to kill Rido. I mean, what better way to go against a pure blood and fight on par with him other than another pure blood? And Zero has got several pure bloods inside him. But will Zero do that even if he hates him now? He has too although he hates the thought of losing his twin brother (and any other thing – like Yuuki). Not till Ichiru finally dies did Zero drinks his blood but in tears. As he leaves the prison, we see the fruition of his powers. A single punch destroys a block of wall! Oh sh*t! Don’t mess with a vampire hunter. An angry vampire hunter, that is. Or is it a vampire?

Episode 12
Yuuki continues to accomplish her mission while the other Night Class students protect her. Yagari is running low on ammo after facing hordes of endless vampire waves at the school gates. Feels like Plants vs Zombies, eh? Kaien shows up to strut his stuff and show us why he was once known as the legendary vampire hunter, taking out all the vampires singlehandedly. Meanwhile the Association’s head sees Ichiou. She wants her reward to drink his blood to keep her eternal beauty (her face is obviously cracking up) and admits that she was the one who sent orders to have Zero killed. However Ichiou isn’t interested in such a weakling and breaks her neck. Good riddance. Kaname arrives outside Ichiou’s mansion. He is turning all the bodyguards into mini fireworks display without even twitching his fingers! Holy sh*t!!! Nobody can stop him as he coolly makes his way into the mansion. No fight, man. He sees Ichiou trying to escape and is prepared to kill him. However Ichijou wishes to take care of this himself. Kaname agrees and leaves the mansion. It must be one hell of a rumble inside since we see the entire mansion crumbling to the ground. The rest of the Night Class students and Yuuki confront Rido on the rooftop, sitting on his makeshift throne of bodies. He orders the corpses to attack while he tries to attack Yuuki (the Night Class students are paralyzed from his spell). Before he could bite her neck, she grabs Artemis as it turns into a deadly scythe and manages to injure him. Then Zero shows up and fires his Bloody Rose at him. However he has trouble controlling his powers as he arms turns monstrous. He wants Yuuki to cut it with Artemis, in which clams the raging power down and returns his arm to normal. He prepares to fire another shot with Bloody Rose as it emits a very bright light. And why the heck are there plant vines connecting to his arm?

Episode 13
With Rido now heavily injured, he flees to the forest and tries to feast on more blood to heal himself. However he comes into Kaname and though he attacks, Rido is confident he can never kill him. However it isn’t Kaname who will kill him, remember? Yup, it’s Zero (whom Kaname called as Yuuki’s Vampire Knight) as his powered up Bloody Rose finishes Rido for good, turning him into fragments which I hope won’t be able to regenerate. That is one awesome power! All that building up to power up and the fight just finished within seconds? Shows how powerful he has become, eh? Kaname meets his Night Class friends and mentions how they are his pawns from the start to protect Yuuki. He frees them and tells them to do as they wish from now on. However they insist that they aren’t his pawns, but his friends. Zero meets Yuuki and though he doesn’t believe she is a vampire, he dares her to drink his blood in which she does and realizes his feelings for her. Yuuki plans to leave the academy with Kaname because he is a person whom she wants to protect. Zero says that he is going to hunt down and kill all the pure bloods even if it means killing Yuuki. She agrees to wait and run from him, thus giving him a reason to live. Kaien is saddened over his ‘daughter’s’ departure but I guess as a parent, that they will come when the young ones will soon leave the nest. But he has to clean up the academy with the help of his vampire hunter pals. Yuuki leaves with Kaname and it seems Hanabusa, Akatsuki and Ruka will be joining them on their free will. Shiki and Rima are at Ichiou’s crumbled mansion. Though we don’t see Ichijou, something tells me he is still alive since they spot his sword at the site. However I don’t feel the same for that old bugger. So Zero, how does it feel to be the only Guardian in school now?

Twi-Knight…
I never liked endings that don’t really end. At least for this kind of series. Well, at that time and even as of now, the manga is still on-going so I guess it’s better than putting in mindless fillers and let it run forever like some series that have 3 digits in their number of episodes. From what I briefly skimmed through, it seems the story continues after a 1 year time skip with Yuuki continuing to live in Kaname’s home and Zero making it his mission to find peace between humans and vampires (I thought he wanted to eliminate all pure bloods, which are vampires, right?) and even in the running to be the Hunter Association’s next head. Which is an ironic situation because he’s now a vampire who is also part of the vampire hunter association. However no sequel of this series has been announced ever since the second season ended its run at the end of 2008. I’ve got a feeling that there won’t be any for the foreseeable future seeing that each episode ends with the motto, “I’ll show you a sweet dream the next night” or for the cliff-hanger at the end of the first season, “The sweet dream has not ended”. Really? Which part of it all is a sweet dream? I think everyone will be glad when they wake up from this ‘nightmare’.

For the anime, I guess the entire drama is quite fair. Not to say that I enjoy it but I’m not the kind of guy who enjoys dark vampire dramas. The revelations were a headache to me and I didn’t understand the little twist that was revealed so much so I had to do a little reading up to understand (which was a good thing, right?). Some things I just didn’t understand like Yuuki being a vampire all the while. She is obviously torn between Kaname and Zero both whom she loves dearly but in the end, she had to choose her brother. Fans of Yuuki x Kaname would be please but to be fair to those Yuuki x Zero fans, there were some close moments too. On a cheeky note, yaoi fans of Kaname x Zero are also treated with a few close-up scenes together. Guaranteed to send them screaming and squealing with joy like those annoying fan girls. Another comic relief guy is Yuuki’s classmate who is the class rep. He always sounds like with full of angst and warning Yuuki to do things right. Like he is the one to say because he is an adamant admirer of Ruka. Unfortunately, it’s a one-sided love. Too bad he doesn’t even exist in her eyes. Yuuki may be strong, caring and independent but after retrieving her memories, she became stronger and resolved in her role to protect. She was less indecisive after remembering her past. Kaname and Zero may look good but their troubled past and personal issues are also deeply reflected in their voice. Notice how Kaname never raises his voice and is always sounding the gentle and respected leader he is worthy of. Deeply concern for Yuuki and his friends even if he doesn’t say it upfront. Zero at times may sound like he is full of angst but during other times, his voice sounds frail and delicate mirroring the imperfect being he is. Given his volatile nature, he values his friendship with Yuuki very much even though he severed his ties with her in the end.

I felt the other Night Class students didn’t make a great impact in the series overall. Even if they are playing supporting roles, I felt their presence was a hit and miss, especially Seiren. Her presence as Kaname’s bodyguard is mysterious but the lack of her presence around means viewers like me don’t really see the importance of having her around and it doesn’t matter if she exists or not. All the while I felt she was just like a messenger to Kaname. As even in the final battle, the Night Class vampires strut their stuff just to a minimum. I was hoping to see them unleash some super power combo (maybe I was just expecting too much) but instead see them pounding low-level vampires with their known powers. Same case for Kaien and Yagari. I wanted to see Kaien pull off more legendary moves instead of that one time. Speaking of Kaien, that guy is amusing because of his comical role from time to time (like wanting Yuuki to call him ‘father’ rather than the director of the academy). Otherwise, it’s no fun if he is dead serious all the time like Yagari. The other comic relief being Yuuki herself, going into her slightly chibi version when she is in her naive mode. Rima x Shiki relationship was slightly amusing because of their expressionless and sarcastic lines but that’s all about it. Ruka was like some jealous woman watching from afar and from the way I see it, I thought she would take some drastic action. Instead she resigned to her fate to be Kaname’s second best though her loyalty for him never wavered. Say, what happened to Maria? And Yori? Did Yuuki leave her for good seeing how things went in the end?

The story flow of the first season shifts from the focus of Zero overcoming his inner demons to a much darker and inevitable fate that gathers all the ‘chess pieces’ for a final showdown. So Kaname must be one hell of a good future planner. It’s a good thing his 10 year plan bore fruit in the end. Or else it could’ve been one big problem for him because from what I know, Rido and the Council want to remove Kaname who is occupying to the top of the hierarchy. Even power-hungry vampires are no different than humans. Another mind boggling fact that I found out and from what I understand, Kaname is the founder of the Kuran family and one of the original founders. So how did he become Haruka and Juuri’s son? Unless he is adopted by them. And even so, given the fact that he is an original vampire founder, he must have lived for a long time but how come he looks like a young kid? Does he have some powers to bend his youthful looks? Otherwise his mysterious power to kill of his enemies without lifting a finger is indeed awesome. No wonder he is so revered and yet his position is much coveted by some. Some of the scenes that involve the vampire licking the other’s neck or flesh can be disturbing at times so if you’re not used to this, you may find this unsettling. Another thing that I’m pondering is that after the conclusion of the battle with Rido, now that the students know about the existence of vampires, will they still be able to accept them for who they are? Or will everyone undergo a major memory erasing procedure? Hell, as long as they look good, the fan girls will still be as annoying as before.

The opening themes of both seasons somehow didn’t appeal to me. For the first season, Futatsu No Kodou To Akai Tsumi by On/Off sounds a little drowsy the way the lead male vocal sings the piece while the second season, Rinne Rondo also by that same group has that gothic feel to it. I don’t know, maybe it’s the chorus part that sounds funny the way they sing the lines in a fast manner. For the first season’s ending theme, it is Still Doll by Kanon Wakeshima. It is a very creepy piece and the ending credits animation (doll Yuuki crying blood? Broken mirror? Horror bunny? Creepy…) adds to the very already eerie atmosphere. It made my hair stand on ends so I skip this part each time the ending theme comes about. Though the second season’s ending theme isn’t that scary, nevertheless it still feels like a horror song especially the fast and wild opening play of the cello. Entitled Sunao No Oshiro also by Kanon Wakeshima. Here we see another eerie depiction of Yuuki spouting butterfly wings made with blood and some spider thingy.

Vampire genres aren’t my thingy but it won’t stop me from watching them if they are interesting enough. If you’re fans of the vampire genre or even this series, I’m sure you’ll have lots of good things to say. Just like Twilight fans. Otherwise this series is just enough to get the curiosity off my chest. From the way I look at it, all 3 main characters are in a way vampires. My guess is that things will get more complicated if they throw in werewolves. Good thing we don’t have them here. Less one problem. So if vampires don’t really want to fight with humans, I guess it would be better if they could drink the blood of their own kind, which is proven here that it is possible. Being a vampire isn’t just about being cool (Hollywood versions like Twilight and Buffy are over-rated). It has its own downside too. Though you live a longer life, have heightened senses and can heal any simple wounds, the thought of drinking blood isn’t my cup of tea. And then getting caught in a blood feud, bloody conspiracy, a bloody love triangle… I don’t want such a sweet dream after all.

Da Capo Second Season Omake

September 16, 2011

Woah! What’s this?! I thought I saw everything there was to be for the Da Capo series when it surprised me that there were extra specials called Da Capo Second Season Omake. How come I didn’t know about it? More like I didn’t bother to find out more then. So yeah, more nostalgic trips down memory lane. Though they are extra short clips lasting around 10 minutes or less, nevertheless they are fun to watch because I still liked the series even if the comical short clips do not have any bearings with the storyline. Well, this is of course like its name suggests, extras you get when you buy the DVD.

The leading character in these extras is Aisia. What do I mean by leading character? Well, she is the only character that appears in all 7 extras. However the amusing thing is the visual presentation. You see the chibi characters in card board cut-outs while there are strings and such to show their ‘movement’, usually bobbing around or the card boards flipping between sides to show their different state of emotion (hey, there are 2 sides to a card board, right? Might as well maximise its use and if there are more, use more!). It’s like as though they’re in a play. It’s pretty obvious but that’s where the fun and hilarious part is.

At the start of each clip, we are being given a dramatic narration about Hatsunejima Island, the place where the series is set and of course these extra episodes. We are being told about this crescent-shaped island’s exact location, population and other detailed information are unknown. There are even legends that this island could be the sunken Atlantis or floating in the sky like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Man, I know this story fiction but to even say like this is stretching it. In short, it’s a mysterious island with no shortage of stories in the imagination. And this story is the crystallization of the blood and sweat of the girls of Hatsunejima. Wow. Some legend…

Extra #1: Girls Have Their Secrets
Aisia is pondering her recent arrival on the island and everyone is being good to her. But there are some things she doesn’t understand like why Kotori always wear her white cap everywhere she goes. She starts imagining the secret she might be keeping underneath it. For instance, a yakisoba bread for Junichi when all other breads are sold out or a textbook in case he forgets to bring his so she could share and get lovey-dovey with him. Then it gets more ridiculous as she starts imagining she keeps a pet tiger that likes biting her head for lunch or a tank for world domination since the school only needs one idol and that is her. Now Aisia is pushing it when she starts thinking about more convenient things hidden under the cap like clothes, detergent, laser disc, calligraphy brush or… She’s an alien and the cap is her real body! As Aisia starts freaking herself out, she feels a cold chill down her spine. It’s Kotori and since Aisia knows too much about her real identity as an alien, she devours her! No! Say it isn’t true! Kotori isn’t an alien! I refuse to believe it!

Extra #2: The Job Yet Un-Dreamed Of
Aisia pays the infirmary a visit and meets Nemu. Seems she has a little problem and Nemu is glad to help. Though Aisia pisses her off a little when she thinks Nemu’s job is Junichi’s little sister and not a nurse-in-training. Worse, a little sister who can’t cook! Anyway back to the problems Aisia is facing, seems she has trouble reading and writing Japanese characters. After Nemu departs her advice in the form of an idiom, she decides to have Aisia undergo an operation by slicing her! Notice the rip in Aisia? However that isn’t the end of Aisia’s problems. Heck, she has more problems. And each time she tells her problem, we see this trend of Nemu giving her that idiom-like advice before slicing her with her operation and another tear appears on Aisia. Her subsequent problems include not liking the taste of natto, troubled about Japanese people bowing their heads when they greet and hard to count Japanese money. Each time, the slicing operation gets faster and faster so much so Nemu does away with the advice. In the end, when Aisia asks about her problems of the boy she likes, before she could finish her sentence, Nemu conducts another operation. Now Aisia is full of tears and rips! It occurred to her that Nemu just wanted to cut her! Yeah, she’s loving it. And the good news? All her problems are gone! Really? Hey, can’t argue with the nurse, right?

Extra #3: The Nabe Kingdom
Aisia meets Mako and Moe pulling their giant nabe pot and are in the midst of gathering ingredients for their nabe. She learns about the duo’s obsession with the nabe dish so the duo explain in detail more about it like Japan having more than 600 million types of nabe (obviously made up!) and that the nabe dish was first developed by NASA to withstand heat of atmospheric re-entry (bullsh*t!). And what the heck is this theory that clay nabe pot comes from space? Now it’s extra-terrestrial? What about the aliens that crashed in Roswell were actually here to reclaims their nabe pot? UFO sightings are actually nabe pots? Oh, now you’re really pulling a fast one. Notice how every poor animal that passes by, be it a bird or cat, gets quickly ‘kidnapped’ and put into the nabe pot? I don’t want to know what kind of nabe this will turn out. Most likely a yami nabe… Anyway the sisters continue with their nabe legend via a play (why does Moe keep interrupting with a giant comet falling in?). Anyway in this peaceful kingdom with a beautiful princess, the Demon Lord of Nabe appeared and kidnapped the princess. If they want her back, they have to give him their legendary nabe pot. Failure to do so means forfeiting the princess’ life. BY this time, Aisia is also dragged into the play and as the king who prepares the nabe for the Demon Lord. The king lets the Demon Lord eat it but the burning sensation in his mouth allows the guards to attack him and save the day and thus the peace of the world is defended. Till today, it is believed that hot nabe is essentially in having powers to drive demons away. Aisia isn’t going to believe in any more of this crap and even spews that they’re going to say the universe is made of nabe. Right on! We see the entire island inside a nabe pot floating in space. It’s final! The universe is actually one big nabe pot! I realized something out of all this: I don’t like nabe!

Extra #4: Forget About Everything
As Aisia strolls in the park, she is suddenly hit by an arrow in the forehead! It’s amazing she didn’t die. Tamaki and Nanako come rushing to her side and are relieved to find she’s okay. This was what happened. Nanako wanted to get inspiration for her new manga work and had Tamaki as a model pose in a ‘kill everything’ expression and wanted her to hold that mean facial expression while she sketched away. For realism, she also had Tamaki hold a bow and arrow and fired it. The rest is history. The thing is, though there are no external injuries, Aisia seems to have lost her memories! But being amnesiac isn’t necessarily a good thing. At least for Aisia. In her case, she starts calling them names like Glasses (Nanako) and Red Skirt (Tamaki). Nanako gets inspiration for a new plot for her manga and wants them to play along even if she gets branded evil for doing so. Aisia continues to mock Red Skirt about her lame fashion seeing that hers and Glasses are wearing the same uniform and that she is old-fashioned. Furthermore, she ridicules her black hair and Tamaki is close to boiling hair while Nanako is taking down precious research notes. The last straw came when Aisia derides her bow and arrow weapon that can’t really win against modern weapons. Now Tamaki blows her top and is going to make sure she loses all of her memories permanently as she fires her arrows randomly. She just snapped big time. In the end, the arrows hit each of their foreheads. Yeah, that’s 2 arrows for Aisia now.

Extra #5: Hatsunejima’s Last Day?
Sakura and Utamaru watch the news reporting about a comet approaching Earth. She’s cool about it until she finds out it will crash into Hatsunejima. With 1 hour to impact, Sakura rushes out the house and meets Aisia. Seems that airhead Aisia isn’t alarmed yet and thinks if the comet crashes, 3 wishes will be granted! It’s not a genie lah! The comet is visible as both girls argue about the crashing sound of the comet (they have so much free time, eh?). Yeah, even Aisia has the cheek to say if the comet really crashes on Hatsunejima, they’ll be no more DVD extras. Then some theory about Hatsunejima’s creation via volcanic eruption and its shape via crashing of the comet. So what to do now? For the first time ever, Utamaru actually speaks! I believe I’ve never heard this mouthless cat say anything other than “Nyaa~”.  Utamaru has a suggestion to stop the comet. And that is for them to transform into magical girls! After chanting the lines to transform (sorry folks, no transformation scene, which is good since we’re running out of time). Okay, so they start arguing about their costume so Utamaru tells them to focus and have a mental image of destroying that comet. Anyway it doesn’t turn out good and got distracted by their own fantasies. Utamaru adds the essential 3 ingredients to destroy the comet: Concentration, courage, friendship and concentration. Wait, that’s four but why repeat concentration twice? Shows that concentration is important. WTF?! Now they need a spell to cast but since Utamaru hasn’t thought about it, they start arguing about saving the world. Don’t care how but as long as they look good saving it? The need to speak English too? Do they know the intensity of the problem here? Then the girls get annoyed by the loud noise and by that time it’s too late because the comet comes crashing on them! The football as the comet just smashed onto them! KA-BLAM!

Extra #6: Banana Relation
Miharu is seen doing some dark monologue about her secret garden which is the residence of electronic fallen angels at the cutting edge of technology ruled by a demon known as science. She is snapped out when Aisia and Alice pay her a visit. Noticing her strange room with lots of buttons, Alice can’t help push ‘beautiful’ buttons that result in weird effects like ribbons come covering them. Then Miharu mentions about the self-destruct switch and this pisses off Aisia for even having such a button. Alice once again couldn’t help press it and sets everything on fire! Well, at least the lights of explosion are pretty. Once everything calmed down, Miharu shows them more meters, buttons and switches in this research lab of hers. How does she know which switch is which? For starters, she introduces the self-destruction switch! Okay Alice, please refrain yourself from pressing it. Then Miharu shows them an altimeter but nothing happens when Alice presses its buttons. Aisia is further angered by what kind of lab this is so Alice says she wants to have good memories since she finally got to see Miharu’s room. Miharu shows them the weird stuff she has like an exact proportionate doll size of Nemu and a comet! Plus there is this new experimental banana that will fill you up with a bite. Miharu takes one and she bloats up into a fatty! Plus, she’s talking like a sumo wrestler! Panic ensues as they try to find a cure for Miharu in the lab. Then they realize the whole lab is flying after looking at the altimeter (Alice pressed the button, remember?). Aisia messes with the precision instruments in hopes of getting things back to normal but to no avail. By this time Alice can’t help herself and presses the self-destruct button. Ten seconds to self-destruct! Let’s just leave it here.

Extra #7: Congratulations
The visuals here are totally different. We see actors dressed in black while the characters they represent as a card board hanging around their chest. Aisia meets Nemu and Sakura on the streets and it seems they are planning some secret thing. Hint: Cake store and decorations. Later, Aisia is invited to a dark room whereby Sakura and Nemu surprise her with a birthday greeting. However the shocking factor isn’t the surprise they pulled off but Aisia mentions it isn’t her birthday today. Thinking that it might be the Xth day she arrived on Hatsunejima or staying with Junichi and co, they soon invite her to stand in a certain position. Then the room gets dark again. A girl comes in as they surprise her with a birthday greeting. She is Inarimon and it seems today is her birthday as Sakura says that since today is Inarimon’s birthday, might as well celebrate it with Aisia’s one. Aisia gets mad that she’s just an afterthought. She holds it in as Sakura brings out the cake. How come it has the name of Yamada on it?! Who the heck is Yamada?! Apparently another person who shares the same birthday with them. Seems she is busy and couldn’t make it, just like their other pals who are celebrating other friends’ birthday party elsewhere. Why the heck are there so many people’s birthday today? Aisia is annoyed of Inarimon’s friendliness and wonders who the heck she really is. Is she even supposed to be on this show? Now for the presents. Nemu presents their gifts: 3 rubber bands, 1 ballpoint pen and a screw. WTF?! An amazing haul, they say? Aisia has had it with this lousy party and wants to go home. The rest feel guilty and with innocent tone mention that they’re doing this out of love for her to be happy. Aisia apologizes, thanks them and makes peace. She then extends her friendship to Inarimon but that girl mentions this is a different case and not to get carried away. Aisia back to her pissed off version wondering if she has misread the signs. Then Sakura and Nemu leave the duo alone as it’s time for them to go shopping. An awkward of silence as Aisia curses what she has done to deserve this fate. Soon Inarimon also leaves as she says she’s got a birthday party thrown for her back home. With Aisia all alone, she starts going crazy and plans to remake the world the way she wants it. A world whereby nobody is happy and every day is her birthday. And with a cute devilish laughter, a line narrates that’s how her magical wish for happiness went hopelessly out of control. Hey, that’s why in the TV series, in a way it did screw up, right?

Extra #8: There are no more extras! Really!
Well, that’s pretty much about it. I have to say that I enjoyed every bit of the comical skits. Aisia in every extra seems to either be pissed off about something or that sarcastic look on her face. The other girls seem to take turn and have their own fair share of screen time as well. Too bad my favourite Kotori only appeared in the first one and that’s it. I like some of the endings which ended abruptly or hanging. For instance the comet crashing or the arrows sticking into their foreheads or the self-destruction end. It made me go, “Oh my”. Hey. Noticed that at the end of each extra, the girl(s) will experience some sort of ‘death’? Whether is being eaten, getting cut, getting strike in the forehead, blown up or being squashed. What about Aisia losing her sanity in the final extra? I guess that’s a dangerous ‘death’ to her sanity.

The creative part as mentioned is the visuals. Nearly in each episode we see almost different formats either for the characters or the backdrop. For the cut-out of the characters, we don’t just see them hanging on strings, but sometimes on sticks or even human fingers. There’s one even using stop-motion action. And the final one using the whole human is purely creative and unconventional. But in most Japanese acts on stage, this is quite normal. As for the backdrops, if you pay attention, some of them are real still images of sceneries and there was one background with live action movement. Others include simple drawn pictures on a cardboard backdrop (one with colour and another one only in black and white) and a montage of pictures. These experiments may not be groundbreaking but they are fun and amusing to watch especially when they put into action the characters. They look cute and funny.

So once again, it proves that I still like this series even if they are in the form of extras. Hoping that there will be sequels or spin-offs in the future but as of this time, looks like there isn’t any news on the Da Capo series and even so I can’t be hoping it would be going on forever. Everything will come to an end eventually. Maybe I should go do some research if the other seasons had other extras to it as well. But then again, maybe I’ll let it surprise me.

Kita E Diamond Dust Drops

September 11, 2011

There has been countless of legends told for instance if you see something with your loved one, you’ll be guaranteed that your love will last forever. Which girl in love wouldn’t really want to pass up a chance to believe such a legend or dream even if it doesn’t sound feasible in the first place. Whether it’s the stars in the sky or the seashells on the shore, or in this case, Diamond Dusts. Diamond what? You know, snow when reflected by light, gives off that sparkly and shiny effect like they’re some kind of diamond dust. At least, that’s how it is in Kita E Diamond Dust Drops or also known as Diamond Day Dreams.

Unlike in many other romance and drama setting, this series is set in Hokkaido, the northern and largest prefecture in Japan. Yeah, all that comes to mind is the numbing freezing cold (at least to me) so it’ll be somewhat a challenge to have a warm date with your girl. As I have found out, this series was originally adapted from a visual novel game that was first released in 1999. However it was known as Kita E White Illumination before its sequel later in the same year called Kita E Photo Memories. Then the third instalment, Kita E Diamond Dust Drops came out in 2003 and was adapted into an anime the following year. Though I have not played or seen all the games before, the thing is that the third instalment has a very different set of characters from the first and second. So it makes me wonder if the storylines are really independent of each other. As far as I read, the different casts used in the different sequels also means that the story is different though the setting remains of that in Hokkaido. In the former, the game was like one of those dating simulations whereby you as the player have to choose and get closer to one of the many main female protagonists.

In the latter, there isn’t any dating feel anymore as it focuses on 6 different girls living in Hokkaido and the issues they face in their life such as love, friendship and conflicts. They each believe in the legend of the Diamond Dust and this would in turn affect and link them in their search for happiness. The way the anime is played out reminds me of a cross between Kono Aozora Ni Yakusoku Wo and Seraphim Call. Like the former because 2 episodes will be dedicated to tell the story of the girl in focus. Similar to the latter because of that same reason too (and also the girls’ story are independent of each other) but in the final episode each of them will converge together and probably find out if their dream will come true.

Hakodate – Atsuko Akanegi
As episode 1 begins, 20 year old Atsuko Akanegi helps her widower mom Sanae at her fish shop. During the busy day, a guy whom she knows, Kurata strolls by and passes her a jazz CD, much to her delight. Sanae has Atsuko do a last minute delivery. At the place, she meets Minoru Jinguuji, her supposed fiancee. She isn’t comfortable talking to him. He thinks of getting a handphone for her so they could easily talk but she shoots him down. Back home, Atsuko talks to her father’s alter, saying she’s too young to be married though she doesn’t view the offer to be bad. She is worried that mom will have a hard time looking after the store is she’s gone. However Sanae tells her she can manage by herself and that she’s lucky to get someone proposed to a tomboy like her. They both bicker but stop when they’re too loud and made the baby cry. Next day as Atsuko is driving in her van doing deliveries, she spots Kurata and gives him a lift home. She enters his room for the first time and meets his pet cat. Then they go out for a meal but ironically at the ramen store, they eat their famous milk pudding instead. When they return to the fish store, they see a bank officer talking to Sanae about falling back on her loan repayments. He is in a pinch as his superior has requested him to collect the debt. He advices them consider selling the place off. While walking back, Atsuko tells Kurata that when her dad died, they sold the house as they couldn’t afford the inheritance tax. Now it’s the shop. She feels she’s slowly losing the things important to her. He advices her she has the choice to give up but when she does, it’ll never come back. Then they chance upon Minoru who is worried about Atsuko’s debts. However she insists it is not his concern. He offers to buy up the business and pay off the debt so that she and her mom won’t have to work this hard. She slaps him for being selfish and says that she has never thought of her work as hard. She adds she hasn’t decide to marry him yet and thus to stay out of it. Next day, Atsuko is feeling gloomy and this causes her to sprain her feet. Kurata was passing by and offers to help do deliveries. He’ll help out for free till her foot gets better. Don’t want that foot to heal, eh? During the rounds, Minoru spots them chatting happily away in the truck. During break, Atsuko says how she wanted to be an idol but never got close. She’s saying that if her dad was alive, she would’ve led a ‘normal’ youth, going to college and hanging out with friends. After work, Kurata brings her to the mountain top to see a beautiful night view of the city. This scene calms him down as he comes here when he’s lonely or depressed. He adds that true happiness may be right next to us but we just don’t realize it. Next day, Minoru confronts Atsuko about Kurata. He thinks of finding a part timer for her as he thinks Kurata isn’t good for her. She wants him to leave him alone if he’s concern about her. But he says he’ll come back again and make it official with her mom. That night, Sanae tells her about some betrothal gift and they need to get out of this debt fast. She continues to tell her the harsh facts of life that sometimes love isn’t everything. Sooner or later, she’ll have to marry him. Atsuko is still against the marriage and runs out in the rain. She arrives at Kurata’s place all wet and soaked, crying into his arms.

After taking a bath and calming down in episode 2, she says she’s not going home because she feels all her mom thinks is about money and doesn’t care for her. Though she knows Minoru is always puts her first, she doesn’t want to marry because of the debt. She asks him if he ever wanted to marry someone but he replies he forgot since it was a long time ago. She wonders if she’s good enough for him because she feels comfortable with him. He was going to answer that he doesn’t have the right to love anyone but Atsuko already dozed off. Next morning, Minoru learns from Sanae that Atsuko never returned. He has an idea where she might be and calls his guys to do some background research. Atsuko tries to cook for Kurata (who has left for his job) when she sees a picture of a lady a young girl. Then the pot overcooks so she opens the windows and doors, accidentally letting the cat out. As she goes look for it, she sees Minoru and his men arriving at the gate. He wants her to return but she refuses and continues that it’s none of his business and that she’s not like his property. Minoru adds that Kurata was divorced 3 years ago and his wife and kid is living in Tokyo now. Noticing her surprise expression, he notes that he hasn’t told her anything and is just tricking her. But Atsuko says she would rather hear it from his mouth. Atsuko still doesn’t want to follow him so Minoru lets her go but will return later. Atsuko later calls Kurata’s workplace, Diamond Dust, a jazz pub but he’s in the middle of playing his sax. It occurred to her what she means to him. When Kurata learns that she has called, he leaves the pub seeing that she didn’t pick up his return call. Minoru is seen talking to Sanae when Sanae’s grandma arrives. She is here to settle this dispute. Seems Sanae was in the same position herself before. She was supposed to be married into the Jinguuji family but fell in love with someone else and ran away with him. However he died early just after opening his business and now Sanae is debt. Sanae knows all this but wanted Atsuko to have a happy marriage and this proposal could make her happy. Grandma asks the meaning of happiness. Does it matter if you have love and have nothing else. She asks Minoru if he can make Atsuko happy. Atsuko sits alone at the mountain top. She falls asleep dreaming about the good times with her dad. When she wakes up, she finds Kurata giving her a piggy-back ride home. When they return, Sanae slaps Atsuko for making everyone worry while Kurata walks away. Next morning, the bank officer returns. But he isn’t here to harass for payment. He mentions about the financing from Minoru that may fall through. Then Grandma appears and when the officer learns of her family status and her intention to make an advance on the debt, the officer becomes very humble for her patronage. Grandma also leaves an elderly man she knows from a restaurant she frequent, Gen to help out with the store. Later Atsuko visits Kurata playing his music. After that he tells her about his dream of going to America to play in a real jazz club. Though it’s just at the auditioning stage, he is going to take his chance. He notes by living his dream, he has sacrificed his friends and family. He devoted his life to jazz so much that everyone got fed up and left. He tells her of the Diamond Dust legend. Sometimes on a clear morning when the wind sparkles with it, a couple who sees it can have eternal happiness. He hopes she will find someone who will see that Diamond Dust together. He pecks her on her forehead and leaves. Next day, Atsuko apologizes that she doesn’t deserve this engagement but Minoru apologizes instead. When Grandma asked him about making her happy, his honest answer that he isn’t sure. Though he hasn’t given up on her yet, he’ll do his best till the day she’ll look at him. They both shake hands. Atsuko returns to her busy but happy fish selling life. Yeah, her tripping is still there.

Kitami – Karin Shiraishi
In episode 3, Karin Shiraishi dreams of being whisked away by a prince to a beautiful place. In reality, she’s actually hospitalized in a Hokkaido hospital for more than 2 years. Nurse Yuuki warns her about exceeding her 2 hour limit per day of using her laptop but allows her to continue since she’s a fan of her website. She puts down her dreams on her website as short stories and updates it regularly so she won’t forget them. Doctor Nemoto introduces Karin to her new resident doctor, Amakasu, and mentions that she needs to undergo surgery to get to the bottom of her problem. Karin doesn’t want to so Amakasu realizes the reason of her hospitalization. It’s not that her condition is serious, but her spoilt attitude. He tries to be friendly with her but this causes Karin to get a little ‘excited’ and suffocate. Nemoto puts on an oxygen mask for her to breathe better. Karin’s brother visits her. As they take a walk outside, he mentions about her doing the surgery since mom is worried and wanting her to return to Tokyo. She is afraid to end up like her dad. Karin receives a fan mail. Calling the mysterious fan, erm, Fan, they exchange photos and chat about cool places. She gets to like Fan as each passing day. On another day, her brother visits to give her a peppermint sweet (as recommended by Fan). He also promises her to take her to a place once she recovers. This has Karin thinking that he and Fan are the same person. After taking a bath, Yuuki wheels Karin back but they spot Amakasu taking a peep into her laptop. Karin becomes very upset as she starts suffocating. In her dream, she is being carried by her prince but can’t seem to see his face. When she wakes up, she sees Amakasu sleeping next to her. She wakes him up. He apologizes for peeking without permission and says he was curious to know her feelings deep down inside and perhaps to find a reason why she’s against the surgery. Karin reveals that her dad died due to a medical mistake and thus she is afraid to die the same way. In tears, she really wants to get better and view lots of sceneries. Amakasu carries her to a show her a place. This reminds Karin of her prince in her dream. On the rooftop, they see the beautiful starry sky sparkling like jewels. Amakasu mentions the Diamond Dust phenomenon. During winter, the moisture in the air freezes and gives out a dazzling light like jewels. If one sees it, his/her wish will come true. He hopes her wish will come true. Karin takes another x-ray. Nemoto says her collapsing lungs are progressing and a surgery is the only way. However she is paralyzed in fear. In bed, she is crying when she receives an email from Fan. He gives her words of encouragement and that someone is always thinking of her. She gets emotional and feels like he’s always right next to her. Karin notices a dropped pen by her bed and thinks it belongs to Amakasu seeing that it has his initials. Realizing that he probably used it to plug in a 2-pin point for her laptop, she decides to return it to his room. I guess the nurses are slacking because they didn’t really see a wheelchair-ridden girl wheeling out pass them. As Karin returns the pen in Amakasu’s room, she is shocked to see pictures on his desk that are similar to Fan’s.

In her dream in episode 4, the prince turns out to be Amakasu but he turns into darkness and swallows her. Waking up in her bed, she finds his pen on the table. But she doesn’t feel betrayed but rather happy. He comes in for her morning rounds so she returns it to him. Karin seems to become conscious of herself and even asks Yuuki how to enlarge her breasts! She soon asks Fan’s preference in girls and his reply is someone with confidence. She is sure that Fan is Amakasu since there are details in their conversation she has never told anyone else but him. Karin experiences a traumatic flashback when her dad died on the surgery table. Then she spots Amakasu heading out to the woods and tries to follow him. Deep inside, to her horror, she sees him and Yuuki kissing. The shock must be too much so she starts coughing. Didn’t they hear her wheel by? Yuuki tries to help her but she slaps her hand away and decides to wheel herself back. I guess she doesn’t have enough strength so Yuuki eventually does the honours. Karin asks how long they have been seeing each other and her reply is that they’ve known each other since school. Karin is upset that she can’t even go to school. Then she has another dream of that darkness swallowing her. This time she sees Yuuki and pleads for help. But she too becomes the darkness and kills her. Karin soon becomes distraught to a point not finishing her meals, that the duo were seeing each other and the reason why he keeps sending her emails. Yuuki tries to be helpful but Karin she tells her off that they’re laughing at her behind her back by doing so. That is when Yuuki deeply apologizes and reveals that she is Fan and Amakasu knows nothing about this. Amakasu took those pictures so she borrowed them. She wanted to see Karin get better but since she refused to undergo surgery and that they couldn’t get their message across, she thinks there was someone she could truly open up to. She never meant to hurt her. Then Karin receives bad news about her brother. He is unconscious lying in a hospital bed. Seems that he has been pushing himself working hard at part time jobs. As Amakasu explains, the medical bills are soaring and it is expensive keeping her here. That’s 2 freaking years, man! Karin realizes why her brother rarely visits nowadays and never told her this. He says that there are people who are worried about her from the bottom of their hearts and don’t want her to ignore them. In her bed, Karin ponders hard. Her brother always puts her first, Yuuki was always worried her and Amakasu never gave up on her. It hit her for the first time that she is a spoilt kid as she always thought she was the most miserable one. Soon she gets the courage to tell Amakasu that she will undergo the surgery but with a condition that he will be by her side then. Of course. During the surgery, Karin dreams of being released by the darkness. Then she spots her young self afraid of the darkness. She gives her some words of encouragement and when their eyes meet, she turns into bright sparkles of light. The surgery is a success as her brother (thankfully back to his energetic ways) and his friend pick up Karin to go sightseeing in their rundown truck. Better than getting cooped up in the hospital, right?

Sapporo – Kyoko Asahina
Kyoko Asahina is filming a scene in episode 5 when her actress, Miki gets a phone call in the middle. Kyoko takes the phone, tells the other line to call back because Miki’s in the middle of a job and has everyone redo the scene. However they’ve been doing it for 20 times in a row so Miki is obviously pissed. Buchou (Club Captain) tries to calm the ladies down but Kyoko reminds him about her absolute orders as director. She even went on to say never to call her by her first name because it would look like he’s making fun of her! B*tch! After calling it a day, Kyoko goes home and is picked up by her boyfriend, Yuu. I guess his stomach was growling that he didn’t listen to Kyoko’s complaining. They go shopping and do some video rental. Man, she even has control over what videos to rent! She’s like a dictator. At home, she works on her film in engross while Yuu is made to cook since it’s his punishment. Then they watch footage of today’s filming. She isn’t happy but he thinks it’s okay. As punishment, she makes him wash the dishes. Next day in the Cinema Club, Kyoko is being interviewed by a committee of the Amateur Film Festival. She has confidence in Kyoko and gives her a movie synopsis manuscript to fill in. Next day, Kyoko and her members resume filming but Buchou says Miki isn’t here and has taken a day off knowing well despite they had to shoot this scene today. Kyoko insists that she wants this scene filmed and borrows Buchou’s handphone and hears Miki with her friends in a karaoke box. She calls her despicable and tells her never to show her face here again. The other members get pissed off with her strict attitude. Buchou tries to reason with her about compromising and the way she does things not being considerate to others. Kyoko remains adamant with her stand that they must win the prize so Buchou will go talk to Miki while Kyoko agrees that they will finish this scene tomorrow. She goes home and being picked up by Yuu. She ponders what has happened today. She receives a phone message from the committee lady leaving her fax number. Before the message finishes, she stops the tape. Looking at the cabinet filled with trophies, Yuu notes that she got an honourable mention last year. Kyoko has a change of heart as she decides to do the cooking. That night, Yuu takes her on his bicycle to show the beautiful Moon reflection over the river. She feels happy and cheers up. Meanwhile Buchou successfully talks to Miki. She agrees to return but hopes he won’t turn up tomorrow so as not to spoil her. Next day, Kyoko seems livelier as she gets prepared to shoot the scene. Miki tells Kyoko that she will do her best to meet her expectations. Back home as Kyoko watches today’s footage she is shocked to see that the film is all blank.

She confronts her club members in episode 6 but they think she’s accusing them. That’s when she puts down her foot. She rips the tape apart and calls it quits from her club. She’ll be taking the equipment since she won it from the last festival. Buchou tries to reason with her and understand she’s the victim but Kyoko has made up her mind. When she comes home, she instantly makes Yuu her film assistant and imparts her rigid schedule to finish her film. They travel to a shore to film sceneries but Kyoko is never happy with the shot. There’s a lone passer-by interrupting the filming so much so he thought he was to be filmed! Annoyed Kyoko tells Yuu to throw him into the sea and the thing is, he did it! The queen’s orders are absolute, I guess. Kyoko tells Yuu about the Charenka folktale whereby Lord Yoshitsune fell in love with a girl named Charenka. But he had to escape from the people against him and left without telling her goodbye. When she found out, she stood on this cape and yelled out to him but her voice never reached him. Kyoko mentions she deserved what she got because if she cared for him, she would’ve never let him out of her sight. Yuu then mentions to head home after dinner. Kyoko says that they haven’t shot anything. He knows seeing the way she is now, no matter how many days she takes it won’t matter. Back home, Yuu mentions that she seemed like she’s just thinking about of winning the prize, making her impatient. He wonders if winning it is important because he feels she should figure out what is most important to shoot and at this rate nobody will follow her. Kyoko gets upset and shoots her mouth off. She mentions about the tremendous pressure she has to keep up. The expectations that everyone had of her after winning a prize. She starts comparing him like a lost kitten and that she has to feed and make sure he’s happy and that’s hard to keep up. Unlike an amateur like him, if he doesn’t understand that, she doesn’t want him to interrupt in her film making ever again. Yuu just nods in agreement without fighting back. Next morning, Kyoko realizes that Yuu has packed his belongings and left. She does the filming and living her life all by herself. Then she gets a call from the committee lady reminding her about the manuscript deadline. Kyoko then requests if she could withdraw from the festival as she doesn’t know what to shoot. In college, she remains gloomy as she watches her Cinema Club members making progress. Then she watches her past film making footage. She seems much friendlier, livelier, smiled a lot and humble about the prize she won. She’s even surprise this was her before the prize. There’s a footage where she was captivated by the “Diamond Dust”, the pretty snow fluttering in the wind. Then she thinks she hears Yuu outside and goes after him in the rain. However it’s the wrong person. She breaks down and let loose a frustrated scream. Soon, she submits her manuscript to the committee lady. She asks her about the Charenka folktale. Though she deserved what she got, maybe Charenka didn’t even know if she liked Yoshitsune or not when she was with him. She only realized how much he meant to her when she lost him (like in her case with Yuu). Kyoko finally realized what that there are things that she wants to film. As the new term starts, Kyoko is back in her Cinema Club (now taking on the position as the club captain) and humbly interviewing new recruits in the club. And yes, she won the prize.

Asahikawa – Suomi Kitano
A flashback in episode 7 when young Suomi Kitano told her friend Hanna Jarvinen about the Diamond Dust daddy told her. Your wish will definitely come true if you make a wish on it. She wished that they win the gold medal together. But there can be only 1 gold medal. So how? Break it into half and share. Ah, such innocence. In present time, Kouta breaks off with his friendship with cocky Haruto. Haruto realizes Suomi watching her and makes a run but she follows him. He panics and trips but Suomi offers him her cream puffs. Then she says she’s hitting on him. That’s is, talking to someone and having tea. Though she doesn’t know what to do after that. Haruto thinks that they should go somewhere so Suomi suggests the zoo. There, she finds out Haruto hates figure skating and was the cause of the fight with Kouta. Seems Haruto was bored and invited Kouta to join the skating class but he sucked. Furthermore, Haruto showed off and he got mad. While eating ramen, Suomi tells him a story about 2 girls who both loved to skate and very good friends. However they had a run-in with each other. One had a pain in her leg, the other in her heart. Soon the girl with the pain in her leg began to feel pain in her heart and thus started hated skating. Haruto didn’t understand a thing so Suomi explains it’s alright to lose interest in skating but to hate it because of a friend is sad. Changing the topic, Suomi wishes to see Haruto skate. While she watches him, she remembers the time when she was skating with Hanna. Everyone else was talking bad about them but Hanna didn’t mind. Then the inevitable happened. Hanna slipped and collided into Suomi during a practice. Haruto invites Suomi to skate with him. Though she fell down, it wasn’t as painful as she thought. Soon she pulls off graceful moves like a pro skater, surprising Haruto. She dances with him, captivating the crowd. As everyone starts to remember who she is, Suomi takes Haruto out from the ring. Outside, he is surprised she skates well. She thanks him for reminding her what is like to skate. Something she has long forgotten. Skating is fun. The next place she suggests is to go make up with Kouta. Outside his home, Haruto is still nervous so Suomi presses the bell for him. “A button on the intercom exists to be pressed”. Haha! When Kouta spots them outside his window, he quickly rushes down. I’m not sure if this is coincidence because Suomi seems to hail a taxi quickly. She says her goodbye to Haruto and pecks him on his forehead before leaving. By the time Kouta reaches down, Suomi is gone. Looks like he wants her autograph. Clueless Haruto finds out that Suomi is a famous figure skater, winning various competitions and her face is on a magazine cover. However she stopped skating after a collision accident. Haruto starts to make sense of Suomi’s words said throughout the day. Since Haruto doesn’t want to reveal how he met Suomi, Kouta calls him an ecchi skirt chaser. They challenge each other via skating. Friendship back on track. Suomi makes an important call, apologizing for the trouble she has caused and that she has changed her mind to enter an all-stars competition thanks to a certain boy. She departs a message for Hanna, hoping that they will make the Diamond Dust come true. She stops the taxi just to go buy and enjoy the cream puffs she loves so much.

Finland & Asahikawa – Suomi Kitano
Actually this is the unaired and bonus episode found on the DVD and dubbed episode 7.5 that concludes Suomi’s arc. However since I’m watching it in chronological order, I’ll be referring this as episode 8. Suomi is being interviewed for her recent successful comeback performance. She can’t help finish all the cream puffs… During the interview she remembers several flashbacks that lead her to where she is now. Like how she flew to Finland to see Hanna and was picked up by her coach. However he tells her that she has to undergo special training to make up for lost time in Japan since it is what the committee decided. He also says it is best not to see her yet as it is for their own good and future. In other words, if she wants to pursue ice skating again, she must forget about Hanna. Suomi dispels the rumours that Hanna accidentally injured her to be on the all-star team. She insists that they are both best friends ever since small and are always together. Hanna was the reason she loved skating. During a short programme performance, Hanna didn’t talk to Suomi and Suomi herself wasn’t in her best condition and finished 7th. When Suomi eventually managed to talk to Hanna, the latter seems rather cold in her words. She seems to accuse Suomi of running away. Though the media nicknames Hanna a cold hearted queen and other criticisms, she isn’t fazed because she is focused on winning the gold medal. She doesn’t expect Suomi to understand since she ran away. Ran away from the promise they made on the Diamond Dust. As Hanna walks away, Suomi reiterates the Diamond Dust wish that will come true. Suomi makes the same wish as before and this seems to cheer Hanna up. During the championship, Suomi gets her confidence back and puts on her best show. Attributing her great and fun memories with Hanna, she is confident she can overcome anything. At the end, her performance enchanted the crowd. Haruto and Kouta were there to even greet and congratulate her. Then Suomi sees Hanna giving the winner with a little applause. The interview ends (and all the cream puffs finished too). The interviewer asks what she was thinking during that performance. Suomi recalls talking to Hanna as the latter asks about the need to break the medal into half. Can she? It’s hard, you know. Thankfully, she doesn’t have too as Hanna allows to keep her half for now. She’ll win the next championship and call it even. They apologize, made up and feel that today was the best and beautiful day for the both of them. One of their many life quotes “A beautiful day doesn’t always have to mean a sunny one”. At the end, there’s a short segment featuring several ‘blooper scenes’. For instance, Sanae slapping Atsuko but her “ouch” reaction was too slow (or was it because it was too hard?), Atsuko screwing her ramen and milk pudding lines, Kyoko opening a door and bumping her head into another one, and Suomi finishing a the ramen before handing the empty bowl over.

Sapporo – Shouko Saibara
Takeda puts a necklace around Shouko Saibara‘s neck in episode 9. Then he says he can’t take any time off to see her due to his busy work. Shouko knows this is coming since she is having an affair with a married man with a kid. However he promises to call before the flower season ends. At her workplace, Shouko tries to call Takeda but receives a voice mailbox. She is a radio personality, more precisely a relationship expert with her own slot known as Cappuccino Break. She and her colleagues Uraoka and Tezuka talk about the recent affairs but Shouko is okay with it as long as they’re happy. Shouko goes on air and reads a fan mail from a fan known as Radio Boy. He looks like the type that can be a stalker. Uraoka cautions her that she shouldn’t get too friendly and maintain a distance but she thinks it’s to value her audience. Hey, even her website is popular. During the break, she tries to call Takeda again but it didn’t get through. Back home, she receives a phone message from him. It’s a courtesy call that he still remembers though he reminds her that he can’t pick up the phone due to his work and doesn’t want others to get the wrong idea too. Next morning, Shouko is happy that her colleagues bought her favourite bread but they denied doing so. Actually it was Radio Boy. I guess the security was slacking (they’re bored and glued to the TV) that a random guy could just walk in and out with ease. Later Radio Boy faxes a message, admitting he was the one who did so. Shouko didn’t mind and doesn’t see a problem since she does reveal her favourite stuffs on air though her colleagues are worried. After work, she goes to the flower shop but it seems the sunflowers are out. A flashback reveals how Takeda brought her to a sunflower field. It’s her favourite flower since she was born in the summer. Then she hears Takeda’s voice but sees him happily with his family. He walks pass by her without batting an eyelid, pretending like he never knew her. Shouko stood there paralyzed. While lying gloomily back in her dark room, she suddenly receives a delivery of sunflowers. Thinking it was from Takeda, she happily decides to call him to thank him even if she knows he won’t pick up. Then she spots a message within the flower and is shocked to read it was sent by Radio Boy.

The sunflower sits in the dustbin in episode 10 as Shouko becomes worried and jumpy. The slightest thing would just cause her to be alert. She tries to call Takeda and leaves a message that she’s being stalked. As she continues her show, she receives more and more favourite gifts in packages from Radio Boy. She’s really getting used to him buying things for her now, eh? After a drinking outing with her colleagues, she comes home to see Takeda in her place. He’s here because he got her message about being stalked and has checked the place for any hidden devices but none. Shouko says that this stalking thing isn’t that bad and perhaps just her imagination. Takeda thinks she’s lying and is saying it just to get his attention. Then he suddenly gets intimate with her, mentioning he came because he really wanted to see her. However Shouko expresses what about her feelings and the times she really wanted to see him. It’s just unfair. She left messages but he never returned them. All she wanted was just to see and talk to him. It makes her feel like she’s talking to a phone or a machine and not him. Takeda steps on a landmine when he says it’s nothing different from her job, just talking to her microphone. Shouko gets upset and tells him to leave. Next day, Shouko ponders about the irony of her doing this. Solving other people’s problem but can’t solve her own. Then a mail with a problem that mirrors exactly like hers, a married man she’s been seeing and not sure if he loves her or not. Shouko is lost for words so much so she breaks down and over the air says she can’t do this anymore. While the faxes and message board are bombarded with concerned fans shocked at the sudden developments, Radio Boy suddenly barges in and locks himself in the radio room. Man, he’s faster than everyone! Once the music is finished, Shouko is on air again. Radio Boy says he was very happy when she mentioned her name because it made him feel existed and not lonely. Shouko still doubts her own problems and is not sure if her voice reaches anyone. He asserts that it does because he is here now and that he loves her voice. Soon faxes and messages come streaming in, voicing their support for Shouko to carry on and hang in there. At the end, Radio Boy is brought into custody. Seems he dropped a sunflower for her. Shouko thanks Radio Boy but says that she is over sunflowers now since summer is over and that he shouldn’t barge in like this. Shouko signs off from her air time by thanking her fans for their support and is grateful knowing that there are many people who listen to her. Though she has never met them all, she feels that they are all her friends and will be okay. I’m not sure the new flowers Shouko is into now but she has to courage to throw away Takeda’s necklace. Hey! Why the heck did she throw it from the middle of the pedestrian bridge?!

Obihiro – Akari Harada
In episode 11, Akari Harada believes in the Diamond Dust legend whereby if lovers see it together, they will be happy together. A scene in which a man approaches Akari’s doorstep, sorry over her loss as he hands her a little gift. As a school girl, Akari works part time at Ryuan Confectionery to help supplement income since her mom died. The cute thing about her is that she tends to mix up lines or actions, causing much embarrassment to herself and to the little amusement of others around. While working at Ryuan, good-kid-turned-bad Kurokawa comes in trying to persuade Akari to come with him but the manager tells him off. Then Akari gets a call that her dad is once again drunk at the usual diner so she has to take early leave and go pick him up. She takes him back and reminds him to continue his real job instead of panning gold. He doesn’t seem to listen, more interested in her good cooking instead though he promises to get back to real work. After school, Akari spots Kurokawa at the park, the kids tease them for being lovers and going to kiss. The odd part is Kurokawa is the one who blushed and Akari was just playing it cool. She asks him why he gave up making Japanese sweets and his reply is he isn’t interested anymore. He was once so enthusiastic about it so Akari says it isn’t about talent but the passion to make good confections. Kurokawa remains stubborn that it’s meaningless so she laments he has really changed. As she walks off, she drops her little mirror. Kurokawa spots it but she’s gone. Then he comes into a bunch of delinquents. One of them got his foot on the mirror. He tells him to get his stinky feet off and was going to punch him but was easily taken out. If not for Akari’s dad passing by, he would’ve been a goner. They both walk back together as daddy continues his wild talk about hopes and dreams and never to give up. Suddenly he starts to have a major headache. He threatens Kurokawa to leave him alone. Back home after dinner, daddy asks Akari if she would like to go pan gold with him on her next day off from school. She’d love to but she has work. He decides to go straight to bed since it’s been a long day at the construction site. Akari ponders something isn’t right but brushes it off. Dad is seen squirming in pain in bed with his hands tightly clutching his head. Next morning, he decides to sleep in longer. He tells worried Akari to go ahead first though she suggested of taking him to see a doctor. After she leaves, he quickly goes to vomit. Akari can’t help worry about her dad that she spaces out in school. Kurokawa returns Akari’s mirror at Ryuan. He asks if there is anything wrong with her dad but she brushes it off that he is fine. But her face seems to indicate she’s really worried. Daddy is seen getting drunk again at the diner. As he leaves, he collapses and his headache getting worse.

He lands in hospital as grief-stricken Akari learns he has advanced brain tumour in episode 12. He first came to this hospital 6 months ago and was referred to go to the main hospital with better facilities but didn’t do so. Akari is upset he never told her about his illness. But she too never realized he has been sick all the time and is at a loss what to do. Next day, she decides to go gold panning with him. Daddy thought she was just trying to make him feel better and she has got to do better than that. Anyway he agrees so Akari pleads to the doctor to release him since she wants to spend the remaining time with daddy. Kurokawa will come with them and pleads for her case. They arrive at the riverbed as sporting and mischievous daddy teaches them how to pan for gold. He tells Akari that he came to this place with her late mom too. When Kurokawa managed to catch some (albeit a little), he got so happy that daddy gives him a judo throw over the shoulder! Well, he wants him to have a bigger dream than that. Aim for the big sparkle that’s far beyond his dream. Then he just walks off laughing nonchalantly as Akari mentions that it’s this happy sparkling smile of his that she loves. Kurokawa remembers the first time he was sparkling with enthusiasm in learning Japanese sweets. When Akari mentions how the gold sparkles beautifully like the snow, daddy tells Akari about the Diamond Dust legend. Apparently he learned it from mommy but never believed it since it was just a legend. They return at the end of the day as daddy is knocked out (snoring funnily). Akari thanks Kurokawa but they admit they had fun. But we all know daddy had the most fun. It’s like he’s reliving his second childhood. She would love to go panning again but that will not be since he is soon hospitalized and weaker now. He mentions that he did see Diamond Dust with her mom. Mommy insisted that they go look so they took an early train, trekked through the snow field and watched the beautiful snow flutter like as though it’s a dream. So when mom died, he got this feeling that it may have been a dream. But he believes what they saw was real now because he’s so happy now. He thanks Akari for everything and morning comes, he goes quietly with a peaceful and content look in his face. Akari takes a look at a little gold ornament. She remembers a man came to her house and told her dad processed the gold he collected for a long time into that to give it to her as a gift. At the riverbed, Kurokawa meets Akari as he tells her that he really does like making confectionery. He ran away from Ryuan because he thought he wasn’t good. But after meeting her dad, it made him realized that he has to pursue his dream because nothing will come out of it if he doesn’t. Akari continues to work at Ryuan (her clumsiness is still there) while Kurokawa continues to work hard making confectionery. Akari wonders if she would one day get to see Diamond Dust with someone.

Diamond Dust Drops
In the final episode 13, Atsuko leaves for the train station for a vacation as she bids Sanae and Gen goodbye. She reads a letter from Kurata who is in New York now, doing fine with his music. Suomi is trekking in the heavy snow to Sapporo to an ice skating competition. However, she’s kinda lost. Sure, Hokkaido is such a big place but she has a whole map of Japan! Similarly, Karin and her brother are also lost and their truck stuck in the snow. They are surprised to see a girl approaching them. She turns out to be Suomi as she hitches a ride. Suomi and Karin exchange messed up stories of Snow Queen and Snow White so big brother steps on the peddle upon learning Suomi’s destination. He just got his licence. Karin just got her surgery… Shouko continues to host her Cappuccino Break as Kyoko and her Cinema Club members are at the airport. Due to the snow, they are grounded and can’t film anything. Atsuko rushes by, nearly bumping into Kyoko. Then at a Ryuan branch in the airport, Atsuko spots Akari being admonished by the evil store clerk (that’s what the end credits listed her as!) for messing up everything. Atsuko steps in and tells her off that for yelling at Akari. Besides, the way she keeps scolding her, anybody would be unmotivated to work and even the sweets won’t taste so good. To prove that she’s a customer of the store, she buys 10 boxes of the sweets to shut her up! Later Akari goes to thank Atsuko for defending her as this made her happy. When Atsuko mentions about the Diamond Dust legend and perhaps marrying the one she loves if they both see it, Akari also says she knows about it. This brings tears to Akari’s eyes since she remembered her dad. Akari bids her farewell before returning to the shop. There’s a massive jam in Sapporo so Karin and Suomi decide to go on foot. On the way, they both learn that they have undergone some surgery the year before. We see a passer-by, Jurota Toukibi, fresh from purchasing a bouquet of flowers. Seems he is nervous of wanting to confess to his girlfriend. He got so into it that he accidentally confessed to Radio Boy passing by! Eventually he meets his love and they walk away together. Kouta and Haruto are in some junior ice skating championship. Haruto gets embarrassed when he sees Suomi and Karin cheering on him in a snowman outfit! As Shouko continues her show, she suddenly sees Diamond Dusts floating outside her window and wants her listeners to go out and have a look. Kyoko wants to film this Diamond Dust scene even if it doesn’t fit her film. Then she sees someone familiar: Yuu. He’s back! After the ice skating championship (let’s say Haruto and Kouta didn’t get good positions), Karin’s brother has caught up with them as they see Diamond Dust outside. Suomi quickly makes a wish that they both will win the gold medal next time. But there’s only 1 medal, right? Then share it as friends! Atsuko is waiting at the arrival hall and finally meets the person she loves. It can’t be Minoru because he’s elsewhere and he too seems to have some other girl he loves. Atsuko narrates back in her letter to Kurata that she is very happy now because she got to see Diamond Dust with the person she loves. Thus what he said about being granted eternal happiness was true. The whole world seems to sparkle while standing being surrounded by Diamond Dust. She’s sure that it’s not her alone and everyone who sees this sight will not forget this happy feeling. She hopes you will one day find this happiness too.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…
Each of the stories is simple and heart-warming. Well, unless you’re not into this kind of slice of life drama perhaps you can start looking elsewhere. For me it is rather okay and I have to admit that the little gem (and motivation) to watch this little known anime is that my favourite seiyuu, Mamiko Noto plays a part here as Kyoko. Whether or not the Diamond Dust legend is true or not, we see that with each of them believing in it, it makes them to move and take a step forward. If not, Atsuko would still be bitter over her arranged marriage, Karin will never have left the hospital (and perhaps dead by now), Kyoko will never rediscover her original reason for filming (and the happiness that came with it), Suomi would have continued to hate ice skating and her friendship with Hanna never reconciled, Shouko will always be stuck as someone else’s mistress and ‘convenience’, and Akari will never be able to appreciate and spend the last happy moments with her dad. Some of the ending of the arc have that bittersweet ending. For instance it was sad that Akari had lost her dad though with his passing she opened her eyes. Kyoko’s end could be the most bittersweet one if Yuu had not returned in the final episode. I would have wondered where he went and left Kyoko for good (I guess any guy would if their girlfriend is this strict) as it was kinda sad to see her breakdown once she realized her important person has gone with the wind. For each of the story arc, I feel that each girl represents a particular issue such as love (Atsuko), fear (Karin), acceptance (Shouko), friendship (Suomi), forgiveness (Akari) and humility (Kyoko).

As for the male characters in the show, the way I see it that none of them are the ‘bad guy’ and they play an important and supporting role to that lady in focus. They may seem like a possible antagonist at first due to their behaviour and of course our stereotype of such people in society. For example, I bet Radio Boy would be easily judged and passed off as an obsessed stalker. Instead of bringing harm to the person he is obsessed with, ironically it is him who makes Shouko realize the importance of what she has been doing all the time. It goes to show that you could never judge a book by its cover. Hey may not have the looks, but his heart is gold. Akari’s dad at first seems like a useless drunkard. However he always holds his daughter close to his heart and it may not be conventional but he always thinks of her when doing the things he does. Even Kurokawa isn’t so bad if you get to know that boy. His delinquency stems from being unable to understand his dream. Minoru sincerely wants to help Atsuko out and there is no ulterior motive or hidden agenda behind it. Takeda’s case may make him look selfish since he only looks for Shouko for his convenience but both sides are to blame as they are both well aware that they are in some illegitimate affair. So when Shouko starts breaking down over her loneliness, he didn’t assert her possession over her and too got the strength to leave her. I want to mention about that Jurota passer-by. He is the only recurring character that appears in every arc (though not in every episode). Albeit his appearance are very short and are usually end up as blunders and comic relief (got bumped into Atsuko’s clumsy tripping during her deliveries, crashing into Haruto during his ice skating practice, almost choked while Akari was serving him at Ryuan and yes, he was the person who was thrown off the cliff in Kyoko’s story!), I guess he too finally found love after all that ‘trial and tribulation’ with some other girl that we don’t know of.

Being a year 2003 production, I won’t say that the drawing and animation are top notched. However what I can give them high marks is the very soothing and calming background music. Though I heard the guitar plucking one, the main one played makes it sound like a Chinese series (probably because it was the oriental strings). However even if they sound good, my only gripe (a very big gripe, that is) is that I wished they could have played a little more variety of the background music. I may not have heard the full soundtrack album but if there are just a handful of them, then I think it’s sad. The problem is the number of times that same background music (especially that Chinese one) is played throughout the episode. It was nice the first few times, but after a while and repeating itself as often as possible in every episode, I think it really gets to you. So much so I would go, “Oh no. It’s that song again!”. Don’t get me wrong. The song isn’t bad, just that as I have said they should have a little more variety in the choice of background music being played. How would you feel if you have to hear your favourite music day-in, day-out straight? A normal person would of course get easily sick/annoyed/bored. It’s like eating your favourite same meal every day and you’ll come to a point where you’ll tire of it. Like they say, variety is the spice of life.

Something makes the opening theme of the series catchy. I guess it’s the opening tune that somewhat reminds me of a cross between Boney M and ABBA’s Mamma Mia! Entitled Hop Step Jump by Five Spirits, it’s a lively piece that makes you want to well, hop, step and jump. I mean, hey even all the characters in the opening animation is seen jumping so I can’t help jump too whenever the chorus went “La la la hop. Shoshite step. Kita e jump. And jump. Jump, jump, hooo!!!”. The ending theme is more of a ballad that gives off that heart-warming feel after each episode ends. It’s called Aitai ~Love Theme From Kita E~ by ALLEY:A. The background for the ending credits animation shows the night sky of a city in Hokkaido. Beautiful? Any city being viewed from the top and at night with its city nights sparkling like the stars or jewels tend to be beautiful. For the mid-intermission, viewers are treated to real pictures of several landmarks, famous places and buildings in Hokkaido. My only lament is that they should have shown it in full screen rather than through some window that probably occupies 1/3 of the screen only. How can I see the picturesque beauty of it all when it’s just such a small view? Perhaps a teaser for viewers to go see the real deal if you want to see more? Like promoting Hokkaido, eh? On another trivial note, the next episode preview is narrated by the seiyuu of the girl she voiced in that arc. At first I didn’t realize who this lady is as she introduces her real name. Till Mamiko Noto’s turn came. But instead of narrating on what is next, they go on talking about some stuff which has no relevance to the next episode such as their favourite things. It makes me wonder if what they said are really so in real life or just reading from the script because well, they introduced their names so I wonder if there are some truth in it.

So the idea of the Diamond Dust legend is to give those who are down and out some hope and something to look forward. You may not necessarily be in Hokkaido to see the beautiful snow floating down to make your wish. As long as you earnestly believe it in your heart and make the effort, your dreams will come true to a certain degree. Think about it, if we just make a wish without putting in effort and each dream comes true, then we wouldn’t really have to work hard in the first place, right? Recently I think I saw some Diamond Dust too. Actually it was the dust that escaped when I was spring cleaning my room. It wasn’t a pretty sight. So does that count because I saw some Diamond Dust-like phenomenon while exerting a little effort? Note: My dreams of watching animes already came true and are continuing to do so. Now to materialize a 2D girl into my girlfriend… Maybe I need to book a trip to Hokkaido after all.

No, this is not a hentai corner despite the title. I don’t know. Maybe I wasn’t thinking straight that day when this topic somehow popped up in my mind: Anime characters who love stripping. Taking their clothes off to show off their birthday suit. First that comes to mind is that there is a high possibility that you could only find such characters in hentai animes and mangas. Even without being hentai themed, there are a few characters alike that are quite the exhibitionist themselves. Don’t worry, most of the necessary parts are covered and their stripping is usually for comical purposes. But sometimes it wants to make you squirm in disgust of their annoying habit. So here is the list of 8 anime characters that I know who like to strip:

Alex Louis Armstrong (Fullmetal Alchemist)

The Strong Arm Alchemist has a very muscular and nice bod so it is now wonder he often takes off his shirt to flex his muscles and proudly flaunt it off to others even if they don’t wish to see it. Well, he claims it is for the benefit of others. Unless you’re a full-on homo person, I don’t think you’re really going to care or appreciate this. And he seems to enjoy it as each time he casts off his shirt, he tends to ‘sparkle’. Maybe he polished his abs just like he did with his nearly-bald head.

Hosaka (Minami-ke)

The volleyball club captain may seem like to cool and handsome hunk. However he has a deep delusion for his love for Haruka so much so while fantasizing about impossible fantasies with her, he starts unbuttoning his shirt and stripping his top. All those who witness this distasteful act would find him a total weirdo (narcissist included) and of course disgusting. Who couldn’t forget that sickening fantasizing when he stripped his top and hugged the fish in the local market (thinking it was Haruka) right in front of the eyes of the shocked customers. Too bad his love is only one-sided and in his mind. Keep dreaming pal.

Ikamasa AKA Masa Ikariya (Umisho)

The crazy captain of the school’s swimming club not only has this sick fetish of shaving other people’s body hair, at times he likes to strip himself naked just for thrill of it. If wearing his scanty Speedo trunks isn’t making him showing off his muscular body, think about the horror after taking that little trunks off. Who would have known that the difference between one’s modesty and a flasher is separated by just a little piece of nylon cloth.

Gray Fullbuster (Fairy Tail)

Currently the most famous exhibitionist character due to the current and long running series. When Gray lost his parents to a monster when he was young, he was taken in by a mage, Ul and became her apprentice. He was thought ice magic and just like her twisted belief, in order to get accustomed to the cold and freezing feel of ice, he has to strip near to naked in the middle of the snow. As time passes, his magic power improves but this also has a side effect as this becomes his unconscious habit to remove his clothes at just about anywhere and anytime without even knowing it. If other people didn’t point it out to him, he would probably have gone the whole way naked. It’s like being naked is his comfortable second skin.

Saori Shikakagami (Ladies Versus Butlers)

One of the few characters in animes who like to strip who is female. As the older sister in the upper-ed section, Saori has this habit of stripping herself just about anywhere regardless of the crowd she is in. It’s like stripping is her favourite past time. The slight mention of the word or even misconstrue of it would send her instantly undressing herself. Has she no shame? Apparently not. This stripping thing must be in her genes.

Twenty/Kai Nijuuri (Tantei Opera Milky Holmes)

A magician makes stuff like rabbits disappear, right? How about one that voluntarily makes his own clothes disappears? You get Twenty, the wildly perverted phantom thief that loves stripping to show off his beautiful body (which is debatable). Not that everyone is interested but he is quite adamant in exhibiting himself. Even while impersonating as a school teacher, his lessons are perhaps hardest to swallow. The only topic he teaches his disgusted students is anything that relates to his hot bod. Possibly the most annoying exhibitionist in this list made worse due to the fact that when he is stimulated, his nipples become erected. Or he would caress them like nobody’s business. Probably that’s why nobody wanted to hire him as a model. When he gets carried away about this, he REALLY gets carried away. Stay as far as possible from this guy. This is not just a warning, IT’S AN ORDER!!!

Harumi Kiyama (To Aru Kagaku No Railgun)

Another female character who simply removes her top without batting an eyelid. The reason she undresses is because she feels a little hot and was even once known as the Stripper Lady though via rumours. Thought of wearing lighter clothes? As a researcher and creator of the Level Upper, she probably got this habit of stripping in public when it gets too hot when she was tasked to baby-sit naughty and prankish orphan kids known as Child Errors.

Keena Soga (Ichiban Ushiro No Daimaou)

Keena has this unique ability to turn invisible (apart from flying too). But that is just her body. So if you want to fully go into stealth mode, you need to strip right down to your undies if you’re not going to be seen by others. And if you have a habit of ditching class and turning invisible often, I guess you can do the maths there.

No shirt, no shoes, no service… No kidding!
This list isn’t meant to be exclusive as there may be other anime characters out there who like to strip but just that I didn’t manage to see (no pun intended). There were some which I was in a dilemma to put on this list such as Lala Satilin Deviluke from To Love-Ru because I felt that even though she has no qualms of being in the nude, it’s not that she likes to strip and get naked, which is the main topic of this blog. It’s as though if she’s naked, then so be it rather than the habit and tendency to remove her clothes. As for the case of Keita Kawahira of Inukami, it is his perverted antics that land him in hot water. It’s the kind of divine punishment he deserves and gets when Youko ‘teleported’ his clothes away and leave him all naked in public and to be mistaken as a flasher. And One Piece‘s Franky… I don’t know, I guess it’s his perverted dressing style.

Just as these characters love flaunting their naked bodies, we are just as disgusted in seeing them. The degree of public indecency is up to one’s interpretations. If these characters are to gather and put up a show, I guess they can give Full Monty a run for their money. So people, please don’t imitate their act anywhere, any time and to anybody. Keep a good control over that excitement and urge to strip. And in the event if you really need to, at least just keep your pants on.

What is it about planet Earth that makes it interested to other life forms to want to invade it? From Hollywood movies to Japanese animes, I’m sure that issue has been tackled and most of the time us humans have come out ‘victorious’. In today’s little blog, we’re going to take a look at a couple of anime series that involve certain creatures trying to invade humanity. It is Keroro Gunsou (Keroro) and Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Ika). And boy, don’t they look cute too? Can they withstand the cruelty and truthful injustice that they’ll find about humans? Who says being an invader is easy?

English name
The name of the series in English.
Keroro: Sgt Frog.
Ika: Squid Girl.

Seiyuu
The voice behind the invader.
Keroro: Kumiko Watanabe.
Ika: Hisako Kanemoto.

Type of life form
Keroro: Frog.
Ika: Squid.

Origins
Keroro: Planet Keron.
Ika: Within the deep ocean.

Reason for invading humanity
Keroro: Part of his mission.
Ika: As revenge against humans for polluting the ocean.

Physical appearance
Keroro: Green body wearing a yellow headgear with a red star in the middle.
Ika: Wears a white knee-length dress, white shoes and erm… that white cap/fins over her head.

Personality
Keroro: As observed in most times: Selfish, lazy, a coward though at certain times regards the value of friendship.
Ika: Naive, easily manipulated though at certain times shows that she cares for those around her.

Currently living with
As we know, both of them failed miserably and multiple times in their effort to complete their mission thanks to a certain ‘brute force’. Therefore, they are ‘forced’ to live within this family as a way to keep them in check.
Keroro: The Hinata family.
Ika: The Aizawa family.
So who is the one getting invaded in the end?

The brute girl
Ah yes. The one that keeps our failed invader in line. Violent and brutish, you don’t want to mess with her.
Keroro: Natsumi.
Ika: Eiko.

What the invader ends up doing.
Keroro: Cleaning the house.
Ika: Serving customers at Lemon Beach House.

Other family members
In reference to the family members of the family the invaders are living with.
Keroro: Fuyuki (Natsumi’s little brother).
Ika: Chizuru (Eiko’s older sister) and Takeru (Eiko’s little brother).
Note how the invader always gets along well with the little brother.

Relatives
In reference to blood related members of the invader.
Keroro: Angol Moa.
Ika: Not known at this point.

Platoon members
You can’t take over the world by yourself, can’t you.
Keroro: Giroro, Kururu, Dororo and Tamama.
Ika: Nil. Okay, so maybe she really thought she could invade the world just by herself.

Favourite person to pick on
Keroro: Not sure. But if I had to guess it’ll be Natsumi.
Ika: Nagisa Saitou.

Special abilities
Keroro: Throwing a Keropa energy ball when he is in his competent and former form and piloting mechas.
Ika: Just about anything from drumming to solving maths equations. Everything except taking over the world.

Other physical abilities
Keroro: Resonate with his other mates and due to his stay in the Hinatas, has become quite a good cleaner and curler.
Ika: Her multi-tasking and multi-talented tentacles, spitting out squid ink, illumination and erm… Whatever those fin on her head does.

Favourite stuff
Which somehow also turns out to be their weakness.
Keroro: Gunpla models.
Ika: Shrimps.

Natural enemy
Keroro: Cobra-like aliens called Vipers.
Ika: Killer whales.

Other rivals
Keroro: (Selected) Garuru’s platoon that includes team leader Garuru, Taruru, Tororo, Zaruru and Pururu.
Ika: The Minamikaze beach house that consists of the Owner and his shy daughter Ayumi. Cindy Campbell and her MIT underlings.

Sentence ending phrase
Keroro: “~de arimasu”.
Ika: “~geso”.

Laughter
Keroro: “Gero, Gero, Gero~”.
Ika: “Huhuhu~”.

Invasion record
Some of the selected (read: those I can remember) attempts that these invaders try to put into action but failed miserably/pathetically/ridiculously. Maybe they should take up a workshop in invasion after all.
Keroro: Trying to take over the world via forced purchase of vending machine drinks, substituting Valentine Day’s chocolates with dango and sweet potato snacks, using furniture (so that everyone will have a painful time when they accidentally hit their little toes in it), channelling all the lazy energy of the life forms against the humans, taking a trip around the world to various wonders of the world in hopes of learning advance alien technologies from it and a desperate last ditch attempt to create a fake baby planet by stealing garbage and water.
Ika: Trying to take over the world via invading a school thought to be a military base, getting those around her to be her servants and planning on using her maths genius to take over the world.

Girl with a double personality
Keroro: Momoka Nishizawa has a split person which is more aggressive and bold compared to her gentle and kind original self.
Ika: Chizuru can exhibit supernatural human abilities like speed and strength when is displeased as opposed to her kind and gentle front.

Obsessive stalkers
Keroro: Chiruyo Tsukigami writes all her observations about Fuyuki in her notebook.
Ika: Sanae stalks Ika each time including forcing her to put on cosplay outfits.

Guardian of the frontier
Keroro: Jessica Harpie and Poyon – Intergalactic Space Policewoman.
Ika: Gorou Arashiyama – lifeguard saver and ‘defender of the sea’.

Unrequited love polygon
Keroro: Giroro loves Natsumi who loves Mutsumi/Saburo. Momoka loves Fuyuki.
Ika: Sanae loves Ika, Gorou loves Chizuru.

Episode division
Keroro: Each episode is either divided into 2 short stories or 1 whole episode of its own.
Ika: Each episode is divided into 3 short segments.

Invasion ends at…
After numerous failed invasions, attempts and other non-related endeavours, this is where the TV series ends.
Keroro: In late March 2011 after 354 episodes.
Ika: By end of December 2010 after 12 episodes. However there is a second season announced and in the works.

Conclusion
As we can see that they are in no shape to invade humanity any time soon. Or even in the foreseeable or distant future. Instead they got invaded themselves and become ‘slaves’ for the family that they are living in. If you ask me, I would very much prefer Ika over Keroro many times because the former is damn cute!!! I’m not saying the froggy isn’t because the Ika was shown much more recent and that I never had the chance to even finish Keroro. Not even 1/3 of it. Therefore this blog may seem lacking a lot of other details since Keroro has lots more characters, plots and developments due to the lengthy and long running series that spans 7 years! Even during my tenure in watching it, it got repetitive and probably one of the reason (the other being, there were no subs) why I never continued. As for Ika, it was something similar but yet totally refreshing and the comedy really did made me laugh out loud and the character more lovable. As such, I’d rather have a squid girl invading my home rather than a two-foot tall frog simply because, I prefer eating fried ‘sotong‘ than ‘tin kai‘ (literally means paddy chicken, which are actually frogs). Ika FTW! Thumbs down to Keroro! Let’s just hope they keep flopping their mission so that we can have a good time laughing. Ah, being an invader is such a tough job.

 

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

September 4, 2011

Who is the greatest phantom thief ever? Lupin, you say? What about the greatest detective? Detective Conan? Even if there is a cross-over movie about their battle of wits, this blog isn’t about them. Instead, where in the world would you find the world’s greatest fictional detectives of Sherlock Holmes, Cordelia Gray, Hercule Poirot and Nero Wolfe coming together as a team and combating and solving crimes together? In Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, that is! Well, at least their descendants.

In a typical detective comedy anime genre, we have Sherlock Shellingford, Cordelia Glauca, Hercule Barton and Nero Yuzurizaki as the quartet of the famous Milky Holmes team and of the famed Holmes Detective Academy which hones future detectives. Yes, not only they have their great forefathers as their background status, in this anime, the existence of Toys that grants users superhuman abilities and strengths. And thus, our Milky Holmes has always been protecting the city of Yokohama by thwarting the Phantom Thief Empire group, led by enigmatic and sexy Arsene and her band of fellow ‘gentlemen’ thieves consisting of swordsman Stone River, fire explosives expert Rat and the very-annoying, very-vain, self-proclaimed-most-beautiful-thing-in-the-world stripper but craft card magician Twenty.

Episode 1
However, Milky Holmes grand luxury life at the academy comes to a rude and abrupt halt. About a month ago while battling Arsene and her underlings to stop them from stealing a prized museum jewel, the detectives suddenly lost their Toys. As a result, Phantom Thief Empire got away scot-free with the jewel. Which also means, they’ve become relatively ‘useless’ and nothing but typical loli dykes. I mean, back at the academy, they get up late for class, take things for granted, blame each other and are even clumsy. Get what I mean? I guess it is part of Arsene’s plan to ‘revive’ their Toys back as the quartet infiltrate the academy grounds as school staff. Arsene as Henriette Mystere the student council president, Stone River as Ishinagare the gardener and cook, Twenty as Kai Nijuuri the sick-stripping homeroom teacher of Milky Holmes and Rat as Nezu their classmate (yeah, just Japanese translation of their original names). Perhaps the best phantom thief wants to only fight the best cream of the crop detective team so I suppose that’s why Arsene is ‘working real hard’ to get their Toys back as they were trained by the legendary detective Kobayashi Opera (note at all their awards and certificates decorating the room). Losing their Toys even makes them worse off than before as they don’t even fare well in their studies. Henriette notes that though they have been skilled detectives, the pampered lives in their dorms may have caused them to fall greatly. Thus she puts the Milk Holmes team to a test to diffuse a time bomb in any way they can. If they are successful, they will continue to enjoy the privileges that they deserved as the famous detective, otherwise they will stand to lose everything simply because, you can’t house a bunch of useless good-for-nothing lolis if they can’t even produce a simple result, right? Yeah, no special favour. Besides, it’s to see if their separation from Toys is a temporary one or not (what the heck is that useless uselesslessless uselesslesslessness tongue twister?!). Try as they might and no matter how hard, they couldn’t use their Toys and in the end the bomb explodes (ripping their certificate). Henriette announces their expulsion. However to be fair, she gives them 3 months to improve in which failure means absolute expulsion. Milky Holmes are grateful to her that they have a second chance. That is just the good news. Everything else, goes downhill from now. They have been kicked out of their individual rooms and are now placed in a creaky humid attic. Yeah, now they have to share a bed. They start blaming each other if the other had stopped the bomb in time but Sherlock says not to fight among themselves and that they promised each other to cooperate and become fine detectives. Well, better start working hard. Three months isn’t a long time.

Episode 2
Erm… Do we see them striving their best to amend the wrongs? Nope. Instead, we see them fighting over little food crumbs. Yeah, food has become such a scarcity. How does it feel like to live the life of the poor? As for Phantom Thief Empire, they’re making headlines with their steal once more. Hey, Milky Holmes isn’t there to stop them anymore, right? In school, more food woes for Milky Holmes. Not only they have been put at a rundown table, their food ration has been significantly decreased! From a roast pork to just a little potato? Be grateful, damn it! Yeah, they’re really breaking apart. Then in class, it’s no more first class tables but broken and shabby ones. On the positive side, since mushrooms are growing out of it, why not collect them and make a mushroom meal? Ever thought of it being poisonous? Heck, who cares? Hungry lolis can’t complain. And Nijuuri is upset that they’re cooking the mushrooms in the middle of art class (?!) than drawing his beautiful body. Sicko. WTF?! Sickly erected nipples?! Oh God?! Somebody stop this guy! It’s a sin not to look at his beautiful body?! WTF?! Milky Holmes are punished and as usual they argue. Later Sherlock finds a stray kitten and brings it home. Calling it Kamaboko (some fish paste – all they ever think about is food now), the little kitten does wonders in their strained relationship as the quartet are happy just with Kamaboko around. Plus, they have to keep it a secret since dorm rules disallow them to keep pets. Then one day, Ishinagare finds that the bread for other students are stolen and accuses Milky Holmes for stealing them due to their quarrel the other day (“I will sell my soul to the devil just to eat those bread”). Other ambiguous actions also points to them like Cordelia not hungry and Hercule not stopping their wrongdoings. However Cordelia notices the real culprit stealing bread in the background: Kamaboko. For the sake of the kitten and her friends, she decides to take the blame and admits she is the thief. She is thrown into prison while the rest try to bail her out. But seeing that they’re great (make that ex) detectives, they decide to do some good old investigation. Anyway their methods suck. Eventually the trail of bread crumbs lead them back to their attic as they see Kamaboko happily eating the bread it stole. Then they see a (lousy) sketch from Cordelia, how she values their friendship and realized she took the blame. And Cordelia must be going crazy since she manages to draw and fantasize her noble act as a great saviour. Maybe it’s just self-gratification after all. Soon Cordelia is released. As Henriette learns the truth and true culprit, she too admits that she is wrong for jumping to conclusions without doing proper investigations. But she asserts that keeping pets are still prohibited. However if the pet has already found a place to settle down, then it can’t be helped. You know what this means, right? Hooray. They can keep Kamaboko. And everybody goes back to have a good night’s sleep in their cramped bed while Stone River undergoes more self training for making such a blunder.

Episode 3
As they watch the news, a group of policewomen known as Genius 4 or G4, led by Kokoro Akechi, Tsugiko Zenigata, Hirano Hasegawa and Saku Tooyama are confident of nabbing Phantom Thief Empire since Milky Holmes weren’t able too. Plus, Kokoro is badmouthing the detectives and even showing them the middle finger (blurted out of course)! Milky Holmes invited themselves to help out but gets into all sorts of blunders and traps. This time the museum is heavily guarding a Venus-like statue. Kokoro doesn’t like those useless lolis one bit (always smacking Sherlock with her golden mask each time she calls her Kokoro-chan) and decides to play a devilish prank on them to regain their toys about playing some Twister-like game based on a Pharaoh’s lithograph. All lies! But Milky Holmes sincerely believed her! Makes you wonder how the heck they became cream of the crop. Did they lose their intelligence to when they lost their Toys? Milky Holmes obediently listen and do all the stretching Twister moves in hopes of getting their Toys back, much to Kokoro’s amusement. Finally the whole ‘process’ fails when Hercule couldn’t do a move which puts her in an embarrassing sex-like position and causes everyone else to fall. G4 gets back to work while Nero blames Hercule for her failure. Then Phantom Thief Empire arrives with the entire place blackening out. Cordelia has a fear of dark places so she’s going crazy. G4 are led on a wild goose chase due to Arsene’s illusion Toys. In the end, the thieves got away due to another blooper from Cordelia after she trips and destroys Saku’s computer that would’ve bring them to the culprit’s hideout. Milky Holmes are thrown into jail and it’s mind blowing that they’re relishing jail food! Haven’t eaten this much since they’ve lost their privileges, eh? Henriette comes by to bail them out since the academy’s reputation is at stake if they’re left here for eternity. Back in their attic, Nero continues to blame Hercule so she runs away. Thinking she must’ve felt responsible, they rush back to the museum to see her doing those Twister moves. They apologize and made up but it seems the gentlemen thieves are also here to return the statue (because it was fake in the first place). They start facing each other and in a twist of fate, Cordelia and Twenty got trapped in a coffin together. Oh the horror! She’s going to die from the grossness before the darkness could even get to her. Everyone cooperates to get them out but to no avail. Till Cordelia yells that something weird is touching her did Hercule suddenly lifts the top lid, throws it away so much so it landed and crush a parked car outside! Thankfully, it was just some strange mask was touching her. Why is Twenty wearing it?! Anyway the baddies retreat while the girls think that for that moment, their Toys returned. What does this mean? It means they go back and try that ridiculous Twister game again. Give it up already! Too dumb to even realize that it’s fake! Besides, shouldn’t they be helping G4 clean up the museum mess?

Episode 4
But God is fair because Kokoro gets a taste of her own medicine as she is being beaten up and made to do those embarrassing Twister moves. They finally found out the truth, huh? But no time for that as they are tasked to look for a girl, Irene Doala who went missing in Yokohama Forest that is close to the academy. Milky Holmes want to help out too but was tied up. Who knows the nuisance they will bring. Unfortunately I don’t know why the G4 tied them up with ropes that are edible. It took those hungry gluttons no time to chew everything up. They try to summon their Toys but all they summoned was just a giant black ferocious bear. It slammed Sherlock away. She finds herself following a group of lemmings leaping off the cliff to their doom. Is she going to follow? I don’t know what to say. She did. I don’t know how this happened too because she started flying somewhere when a speck of water got into her eye as she finds herself in a cave with someone familiar. G4 continues their search but Kokoro fell into a hole in the ground and ends up in the same cave with Sherlock and Irene. Now, Irene isn’t a damsel in distress. In fact, she is much more reliable and smarter than her rescuers. However after seeing cute Kokoro, she develops some kind of stupid imouto-chan fetish over her. Darkness falls so the other Milky Holmes return but follow a banana trail that leads them to being locked up by Henriette and co. They fell for the oldest trick in the book. But no matter, they seem to be enjoying their bananas. Sherlock and Kokoro learn that Irene’s dad’s company is going bankrupt soon so she wanted to save him by looking for some buried treasure based on some Warring States legend. She found it in this cave but it’s useless if she doesn’t get out and the deadline is tomorrow. The next day, they got out of the cave and start their trek home through the forest. How come it feels like Irene was the one saving and guiding them through? They take a break and fight over the last ration that Irene has: A banana. Then they come into that black bear again. Sherlock is going to protect the duo but gets owned instead. Irene temporarily throws a banana at it to buy them some time (and they thought she had no more bananas left). Then Sherlock suggests some resonating moves but they got owned again by the bear. All that’s left is to run away and I’m not sure why the heck a self destruct button is in the forest so they’re actually saved when the bear steps on it. I don’t know what it unlocked. Heck, I don’t even understand all this nonsense. Soon the other G4 girls come in their helicopter to rescue them. With the company saved, Irene bids farewell to G4, she knocks Kokoro unconscious and kidnaps her! I’m amazed that the rest didn’t notice about this. Have they gotten use to her absence? And for Sherlock, she is disheartened that her gang gave up searching for her and instead feast on the bananas till they’re bloated. Meanie!

Episode 5
While having their poor picnic of grilled mushrooms in the park, Hercule tries to rescue Kamaboko from being run over by a truck but they were saved by a pair of flashy girls, Mary and Kate (I hope they have got nothing to do with the Olsen twins). Was it necessary to even explode the truck? However it seems that the pair have ulterior motives as they plan to capture Kamaboko. Back in the attic, Milky Holmes are admiring the great detectives the pair may be while Kamaboko is in risk of being kidnapped by the said pair. While chasing it, they bump into Twenty who is annoyingly dating a pillow cover version of himself! F*cking gross! Then they accidentally meet Milky Holmes and have to play along as some sort of great detectives they admire. The lolis are too dumb to even sense that they’re here to kidnap Kamaboko but thankfully it’s their fluke that ‘foils’ Kate and Mary’s plans. They continue their chase over the kitten and successfully capture it when the lolis were engrossed in their mushroom grilling. Milky Holmes go in search for Kamaboko and Henriette approves of it since it will put to use their detective searching skills. They go around asking the people and stumble upon G3. Who? It’s G4 less Kokoro for now. Yeah, she’s really being kidnapped by a certain genius kid. Meanwhile Mary and Kate are going to have their revenge on Kamaboko and SPCA would’ve taken action for their animal abuse if not for the gentlemen thieves busting in. They are here to bring justice to them for trespassing through Arsene’s territory (the academy grounds) that night. Then they see the walls filled with pictures of Kamaboko. Actually, it is their ex-lover who resembles very much like Kamaboko. Yeah, they’ve already drawn graffiti on its face. So as they fight, it’s the case of revenge for being dumped. They were promised that there will be no feelings in which of the duo he’d choose but dumped them. Maybe it’s because they’re messed up? The funny part was how Twenty’s bolster took a hit and he was inconsolable that his beautiful best buddy sacrificed himself for him. Didn’t he throw the bolster instead? Kamaboko is reunited with Milky Holmes as they head towards where the battle is taking place. Twenty and Stone River got hypnotized into Mary and Kate’s ecstasy Toys while Rat escapes upon his comrade’s advice. Mary and Kate shift their attention to Kamaboko but Rat decides to throw a bomb at them. Kamaboko deflects it and sends the gentlemen thieves flying into the sky. Mary and Kate felt grateful that it saved them from a darkness of revenge from their hearts and brought them back to the light. Milky Holmes see them off in a ship.

Episode 6
Princess Claris of Marlo kingdom is upset that she has to get married to Prince Pero of Lipa kingdom. Anyway I don’t know how Kokoro returned to G4 but she’s complaining that they need to babysit her. Unfortunately too much blabbing means Claris could sneak out without any detection. It’s total freedom and a normal life she seeks. Meanwhile Milky Holmes yearn for a dehumidifier since their place is getting all damp in this rainy condition. They all have this great idea of gathering elsewhere instead of cooping up here. Sherlock bumps into Henriette (her face literally stuck between her cleavage!). Henriette reminds them about finding a way to retrieve their Toys but after seeing the determination in her eyes, she believes her. In the streets, they see on the screen Claris (she is here to be wedded with Pero in Yokohama) and thought it was Sherlock. Yeah, they look very alike. After dispelling it, they notice Sherlock is missing. Sherlock bumps into the real Claris in the alley. Claris wants Sherlock to be her substitute just for a day (she knows of Sherlock due to the badmouthing of a certain cop). Of course she wasn’t going to accept it but the word of ‘great detective’ seems to defeat all other rational. Yup, take the job. As a reward, Sherlock wants a dehumidifier. Uhn… They trade clothes and really look like a splitting image of the other. Milky Holmes find Sherlock (Claris) and drags her away while Claris’ grandma Marple is reprimanding them for their failed watch when Claris (Sherlock) suddenly returns. She is being reminded about the importance of their marriage since the fate of Marlo depends on it (if Lipa finances them, there’s nothing else to be said, eh?). And why the heck is Marple doing those weird squats while explaining this to her? Then Pero comes in. Hmm… Looks like the handsome macho gentlemen hunk. But wait, he wants her to say “meow” at the end of her sentences? Could he be?

Meanwhile the real Claris is really happy to be living a normal life with the rest so much so it brings tears to her eyes. Wow. Never experienced simple happiness before, eh? As for Sherlock, it turns out that Pero is some sort of a masochist pervert. Doesn’t Sherlock hate him? Heck, she’s having fun!!! Of course with both look-a-likes switching places, Sherlock can’t even sleep even if her bed is big and wide or her meals sumptuous. Claris is getting used to it no matter how much it sucks and loving it. She thinks that she can run away and dump all the responsibilities on Sherlock but the latter remains confident she will return. Henriette knows Claris’ disguise and talks to her, asking if this is alright. She mentions about her dream of living a normal life but now she has to marry a guy she doesn’t even love. Henriette replies she can’t obtain her dreams by running away unlike Sherlock who is trying her best to become a great detective. This opens Claris’ eyes so she decides to reveal her true identity to the other Milky Holmes girls. They don’t believe her! Till she tells the real value of pi! Oh sh*t! Is that all it takes? They’re going to storm the wedding hall but G4 stands in their way. As usual, they don’t believe she’s the real Claris till she blurts out pi’s value. Unbelievable! Yeah, probably it tells us Sherlock and co has always been dumb girls. The wedding is going to end as Sherlock starts panicking that Claris hasn’t returned yet. Plus, it’s kissing time. Oh, the horrible lips! Luckily the rest barge in in time and stop the ceremony. Claris reveals her true self and says she cannot marry Pero. Plus, she will not run away and will achieve peace within both kingdoms with her own hands. The crowd applause as Pero admits that he did all those masochist perverted stuff to get her to hate him. That’s because he has somebody else he loves: Marple. Argh! He proposes to Marple and the ugly lips locked. Eww… The ceremony continues with their holy union as Milky Holmes got the dehumidifier as their prized treasure. And why the heck is Sherlock playing S&M with herself?! Finding it nice? Oh dear. I hope she won’t be addicted to it. Hey, everyone come join in! Not!

Episode 7
Phantom Thief Empire are at Phantom Thief Killer Cape. It is believed a multimillionaire named Baskerville hid his lifetime collection of artworks here. Many have tried to infiltrate but none was ever successful. Looks like their plan will need some modification since Milky Holmes are here for vacation (they have to trek here since they have no money for a bus fare. Poor things) and also heard about that cape thingy which they believe will bring their Toys back (they heard it from a certain stripper teacher’s slip of tongue). Hey, G4 are here too. Henriette plays along with the girls while the guys hide and plan their move. Milky Holmes get hungry and try to get some seafood but they’re so useless and beyond help that even their crab got stolen by the seagull, got entangled by the seaweeds or get hit by Tsugiko’s bat instead of the watermelon (now she knows why there is a watermelon ‘growing’ on the beach, eh?). Since it started to rain, the ladies take refuge in a cave. As they trek deeper, there are suspicious signs pointing to the treasure. Of course, they activated a trap and cause them to be separated. Kokoro, Tsugiko, Hirano, Cordelia and Hercule falling to the bottom of the pit and the rest carrying on. Henriette’s group enter into an area that resembles a luxurious mansion. Nero triggers another trap (picking up a coin from the ground) and causes Henriette to be separated as she is switched into a secret room. The rest read on a library of books for clues of the treasure while Kokoro’s group strip themselves naked to make a rope long enough to climb themselves out. Why is Cordelia so enthusiastic about stripping? This leads them to a hotspring area but they are being attacked by a giant squid. Oh no. Tentacles. However Cordelia becomes some made monster because she sees it as a meal… Henriette finds herself in a room with a bikini mannequin while Saku also joins her when she activates a trap that sends her falling into that room. Sherlock and Nero are in a room with a safe. Nero tries using her Toys to open it but to no avail. However it opens probably it’s an old safe. They find a collection of idol figurines in it. Then cold water starts filling the room. Nero again tries to use her Toys to communicate with the safe. Though the water stopped, now hot water comes pouring in and they’re washed away to another room. Everyone is reunited in the hotspring area and having a good squid meal while enjoying their soaking moments. Henriette realizes how it has become ridiculous to even steal from this Phantom Thief Killer now. As for the gentlemen thieves, they’re adrift at sea with no food for 3 straight days.

Episode 8
Milky Holmes fall ill. Seems it was another black-hearted prank of Kokoro making them eat ice cream till they brain freeze, meditating under a waterfall and freeze themselves in the freezer. Yeah, it’s amazing they’re still this gullible. I know they’re desperate to get their Toys returned but to ask Kokoro for help? Of all people? She’s really enjoying and laughing her heart out. Bad girl. Even her G4 mates think so. Even Henriette takes pity on them and decides to nurse them back to health. The next day, Milky Holmes are good as healthy but this time Henriette collapses and has caught their illness. Now it’s their turn to take care of her. The gentlemen thieves want to have the honour of ‘cleaning her sweat off her naked body’ but the girls insist that the guys should stay out of this. They decide to change her clothes and the only one they could find in her closet is… Oh dear! It’s her sexy phantom thief suit! Oh no! Will her identity be blown? G4 are paying a visit at the academy (I guess Kokoro still wants to see the Milky Holmes suffer by bringing some iced peach cans) when they heard Milky Holmes yelling “Arsene”! They barge in and are surprised to see Arsene lying in the bed but being told by Milky Holmes she is Henriette. The gentlemen thieves are worried that this pinch is going to get worse and have to do something. But don’t worry. They don’t even have to lift a single finger. Why? How do the girls dismiss that Arsene is Henriette? Sherlock’s answer: She loves to cosplay! Oh sh*t! Everyone buys it! And for that moment, the guys thought she’d be a goner but remember, they’re retards. Big time. Anyway they change Henriette into her pyjamas as they try to nurse her by concocting medicine based on fairytales. Are they even attainable? I’m not sure the kind of medicine Sherlock mixed (it must be dangerous since it was mosaic out) and poured into Henriette’s mouth. She starts glowing and everyone becomes absorbed into some sort of twisted fairytale. Some Momotarou legend Sherlock is, trying to retrieve some peach at Arsene Island but meets the gentlemen thieves as obstacles. It gets more twisted when they fight Arsene using her boobs as missiles but their combined Toys allows them to defeat her. Henriette is fed by Sherlock a delicious peach. She wakes up and sees the other girls knocked out on the floor. She notes that Milky Holmes’ Toys returned to them briefly albeit it was only in the middle of her illusion Toys. Twenty’s crap words: “The world is beautiful. But I am even more beautiful”. Henriette thanks them for nursing her as Milky Holmes wonder what her Toys power is. Then they see Kokoro receiving her much deserved divine retribution as she is stuck in the giant ice and getting sick. Oh yeah. God is fair.

Episode 9
While Milky Holmes are happily pigging out with their poor meal, they are joined by another student, Sonia and even Nezu. Seems it is to celebrate the 1 year anniversary Sonia met her senpai Sherlock. Hercule finds an Ouija Board and their curiosity has them asking it if their Toys will return. Nezu pans them for fixing the outcome. To prove it, he tells them to ask which among them is the stupidest! They’re really fighting to pinpoint the answer! They then change the question to who is the meanest. Yeah, how come it quickly spells Nezu’s name? Later Nezu walks Sonia back to her dorm but shortly, he is being attacked. Next day, G4 is conducting some boring road safety class (everyone except Sherlock) and after the class, Kokoro finds a trail which leads her to see Nezu’s dead body in a room! As everyone is shocked over his death, Henriette shows them a picture which might implicate Milky Holmes as the perpetrator because Nezu’s wrote the initials of “M.H.” in blood before his death. They insist they are innocent but she wants them to prove it by tomorrow or she’ll hand them over to the police. Milky Holmes decide to request for their ancestor’s help via Ouija Board. It seems to work as the baldy (Hercules), the busty boobs (Cordelia) and fatty (Nero) possess their counterparts. Calling Henriette and Kokoro to the scene, they use their great detective deduction skills to solve the mystery of the initials. Erm… How come the theories sound so stupid?! No wonder their descendants share it! They deduct the culprit based on the animal they could draw on it? Monkey? Hamster? WTF?! Then a bronze statue of Sherlock Holmes comes crashing in as the spirit of the great detective possesses Sherlock. He’s late because he possessed the wrong statue. Oh no. Please not another idiot. Thankfully, Sherlock’s deduction is top class this time, deducting that the victim may not know the murderer’s name so he tried to convey what he remembered about the murderer, in this case via some numerals.

So “M.H.” by reading it in a different direction is “I-3”, which is the dorm block number. And the culprit is no other than Sonia who launches an attack on everyone. Sherlock Holmes’ spirit whisks Henriette away from harm and he whispers in her ear that he knows she’s the phantom thief Arsene. He starts chasing her but I don’t understand the necessity to use their telekinesis powers to uproot buildings and throw it to each other. Wow! I didn’t know Sherlock Holmes has such terror telekinesis! Besides, why does he need to avoid them if he’s just a spirit? In the end, he saves Sonia from falling off the roof. Nezu is seen alive and he doesn’t need to play dead anymore. The great ancestors take their leave and leave them a huge message on the ground, saying that they will get their Toys back after a great trial. Later Henriette sees Sonia and knows that she schemed all this so that Milky Holmes would earn back the respect they once lost. Plus, the message was written by her and not the victim and this means Milky Holmes will move to solve the case whether they want to or not since they’re being doubted. Due to the severity of the case, she has Sonia expelled but recommends her to start over again at Poirot Detective Academy because she feels she should not waste her Toys but become a great detective instead and not a phantom thief. Milky Holmes pray to Nezu’s altar and use the Ouija Board to talk to him but he barges in proclaiming he isn’t dead. They think he’ a ghost coming down to visit them! Something still bugs me. If Henriette didn’t realize it was Sonia’s plan till the end, does this mean Nezu secretly cooperated with Sonia for this?

Episode 10
Milky Holmes are excited over the prospect of their returned Toys. Henriette is expecting high hopes from them with the upcoming exam but they would like to go gather first. Hercule tries to persuade them to study but eventually gives in to their persistence to have fun. Yeah, they wasted a whole week gathering and having fun instead of studying. The gentlemen thieves are pondering the possibility of them getting their Toys back (on an unrelated note, notice a shirt being hang out to dry with the words “I Love Boku” – no prize to guess whose shirt this belongs to). The trio reminiscence the time they first met. Let’s say they aren’t the best of friends. Heck, they’re rivals. As they fight over each other while stealing jewellery, Arsene’s appearance and her display of her illusion Toys has them offering their services to her. Seeing that they are this weak to give in to their desires, she wants them to commit themselves to become phantom thieves with beauty and intelligence. Thus in their journey to ‘redeem’ back their pride, they swore loyalty to Arsene and to her cause. Of course, they start arguing themselves over their petty differences. And Milky Holmes are the one to say how lame it is after watching from afar their Toys going berserk. On the day of the exam, Milky Holmes undergo very weird tests that include a game show quiz, moving an elephant, staring into Twenty’s erected nipples and beautiful body (I can’t believe Cordelia drooled over it!) and some sort of bowling with them as the pins. In short, they failed them all. Henriette isn’t pleased. While Milky Holmes lament about their failures and the non-return of their Toys, they hear a report that Arsene challenges them to a trial that will decide whether they get expelled or not. Sherlock realizes that this is the trial that should have their Toys return and the ones they have taken are just tests (I guess there’s a difference in that). With high spirits, they head to the museum (got caught in G4’s trap again).

Inside, Milky Holmes face off with the gentlemen thieves but the trio are so focused in their petty feud, they couldn’t be bothered with Milky Holmes’ arrival. Why is Sherlock so insistent on announcing that they have arrived? She’s even concerned that they shouldn’t fight among themselves because it would be just like them. So when they do realize it’s those useless lolis, they do some tetrahedron formation. I don’t know the significance of this but how will Milky Holmes get out of this? They desperately try to summon their Toys but again to no avail. Then a blackout occurs. You can count Cordelia out. Then Sherlock decides to use a bomb they used during the test (where the heck did she hide that?). The guys escape while the bomb explodes, making a gaping hole in the building. I’m surprised Milky Holmes are still in one piece. This time, Kokoro’s upset is real. With the way they messed things out, she yells at them to get out of their crime scene. The guys return to Arsene while continuing to blame each other for their pettiness, it seems Arsene is in no mood for it. She is so mad that when she hits the wall, the entire top of the tower twist and bend worse than being bombarded by WWII bombers. Oh sh*t! Milky Holmes trudge back in the rain to their dorm but suddenly their room catches fire. Then they see Henriette. Looks like she has had enough. Her face is visibly upset. Very. She throws down their expulsion papers. Oh dear.

Episode 11
As Sherlock leaves, she bumps into a very displeased (enough to even scare me) Henriette. She apologizes for everything and thus Milky Holmes is disbanded as they leave the academy in shame, each going their own ways. The rest didn’t like her idea of bowing and saying goodbye and thanks to the academy. Meanwhile Henriette takes out her frustration by smashing all the awards, trophies and certificates of Milky Holmes in her room. She thinks everything turned out like this because she wasn’t serious enough. Sherlock continues to work in a ramen stall but she is so clumsy and useless (including pissing off her customers with her klutz), it makes you wonder why the owner didn’t fire her. Her buddies aren’t faring any better. Selling flowers? Selling magazines? Ouija Board prediction? Better avoid them. G4 pays a visit at Sherlock’s workplace and tells her about Phantom Thief Empire’s rampaging robberies. They’re on a hot streak. Sherlock goes to gather her other pals and then they see another news with Arsene announcing that she plans to make Yokohama a phantom thief haven by crushing the academy. Henriette is seen hanging precariously over the rapid river on a bridge. She invites those with a sense of justice to come rescue her. With every 2 hours, a string will be snapped and she will be closer to her doom. After the transmission, we see it’s actually Twenty impersonating as Arsene and the real deal is hanging over the bridge. I hate to admit it, but who is more qualified to play a beauty like her? Yeah, this is going to be a do-or-die bait. Milky Holmes aren’t confident of going to her rescue seeing that they are normal (and useless) girls now and hopes G4 will pull through. Speaking of which, they are first to arrive but are easily taken out and captured by the gentlemen thieves. Milky Holmes resume their jobs but Sherlock tries to convince everyone to go save Henriette. She nails it in when she gets all teary and says that they’ve got their priorities wrong if they put becoming great detectives first and saving others second. Plus, it isn’t about getting revenge on the person who expelled them and their failures are because they gave up halfway, gave up on themselves. This opens their eyes as they reconcile and don their detective suits to go to Henriette’s rescue. Can they make it in time?

Irene’s limo was passing by so she gives them a lift. Then they get a delivery from Sonia. It seems to be a ring infused with a single dose of her Toys’ power. Sherlock should be able to use it since it is from her same bloodline. And yeah, why did Claris send royal plates over? The gentlemen thieves are bored since they’ve taken out just about everyone. Then when Milky Holmes come by, they aren’t alerted, thinking they’re still the useless lolis. However to their surprise, they hit their raw nerve when they call them coward for holding hostages (Stone River), ugly (Twenty – oh, that’s got to hurt) and… Rabbit (Rat)? Cordelia, Nero and Hercule hold off the trio while Sherlock rushes to save Henriette. How can a bunch of lolis hold down full grown men? It’s called determination. When Sherlock reaches out her hand for Henriette, it’s part of her plan to detonate the last rope. Sherlock dives down to save her. Sonia’s ring temporarily gives Sherlock her Toys power but it is too overwhelming as the ring breaks. Falling again? She grabs on tightly to Henriette and probably deep down in her heart she wanted to save her so much that she got her Toys back! Then the other Milky Holmes also feel that they are getting their Toys back and put them to good use. For once, the gentlemen thieves get serious but they are no match and get a serious trashing! As Sherlock pulls Henriette up, the latter pushes her away and unleashes a smoke screen. She transforms into Arsene and relishes the chance she has been waiting for all this time: To fight and defeat the real and powered up Sherlock.

Episode 12
The other gentlemen thieves are pounded to a pulp as the other Milky Holmes join Sherlock in a Toys power battle with Arsene. Seems she too has powered up as the entire Yokohama citizens watch the decisive battle in baited breath. Milky Holmes combine their Toys to attack Arsene but each try makes her crave for more. She’s really enjoying the moment of fighting those detectives at their top form. The fight continues to a different dimension as Arsene unleashes clones of herself. In the climax of the face-off between Arsene’s giant fireball and Sherlock’s pink little energy projection, suddenly Sherlock got too close to Arsene and has her face stuck in her boobs. She is reminded of the bounciness and softness and is happy that Henriette is alright. However surprised Arsene denies it. Sherlock’s pals didn’t believe at first but taking up her advice to touch her boobs, they instantly believe it’s Henriette! I guess that’s her trademark. No matter how much Arsene denies, the retards firmly believe she is their student council president. Even if her mask falls off. Arsene summons a meteor to send the entire place crashing down to the academy grounds. Milky Holmes look very funny with their heads sticking out from the ground like grown vegetables. Arsene is in for another surprise when Milky Holmes identify her as the phantom thief instead. Amidst the blabbing confusing, Arsene deduces that the impact and shock must have made them lose their memories. Arsene decides to withdraw for now and give Henriette back to them but will not lose the next time. The schoolmates rush to Milky Holmes’ side and help out their revived heroes. Arsene and her men are looking forward to more battles with them.

Next day, Milk Holmes are given a certificate of appreciation, much to Kokoro’s reluctance. Everyone is cheering on for them. How does it feel to be back in the spotlight? Kokoro isn’t happy that they let Arsene get away but Henriette mentions that there will be another chance for that. In the packed hall, Sherlock is going to treat everyone with a demonstration of their returned Toys. A rock is sent crashing onto her. It crashes onto her! Wait a minute… What the?! Don’t tell me?! Oh no! Seems like not only the impact made them lose their memories, but their Toys as well! See how everybody’s face turn into despair and disappointment. Except for Kokoro and the gentlemen thieves who are happy they’ve returned to their retarded ways. Even Henriette is lost for words and quickly ends the ceremony. So, back to the dull life for Milky Holmes as they trek back to their room expecting to be expelled. However they get a present surprise it is back to normal and cleaned up. All thanks to Henriette. As mentioned, though they have lost their Toys, you can deny the fact that they saved Yokohama. That means, their expulsion will be… postponed till spring. Dang. And they thought it’ll be cancelled for good. But the quartet are happy that they’re together and since they have each other, nothing is impossible. Oh well Henriette. Looks like it’s going to be another tiring season if this keeps this up. Lastly a new transfer student barges in and is excited of meeting them. She is Mori Arty and knows them all. The quartet finds her cute and takes a liking for her. For those who don’t know, the character named Professor Moriarty is Sherlock Holmes’ greatest arch enemy in the stories. Ironic, eh?

Bungling detectives…
I have to admit that everything has been a fun ride from the start till the finish. There were laugh out moments and this is definitely one of the good comedy series that I’ve seen in recent times. You could say that this show is on par with Shinryaku! Ika Musume and Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt that I too enjoyed. It’s hard for me to totally recommend this series for the family to watch. I know, cute little girls running around may seem harmless but the only reason why I’m stopping my suggestion at that is perhaps of Arsene/Henriette’s over-sized and bouncy boobs. Man, do they even exist? How does she keep it all tightly wrap under that school dress? In a little way, you can call that fanservice. Oh, another factor why this isn’t for kids: Twenty. That guy says it all. Don’t want your kids to have a bad influence from this stripper, eh? The flow of the story is at a good pace as we mainly see how Milky Holmes try to regain their lost Toys by going through lots of tough trial and tribulations. Usually with hilarious and disastrous results. Each time you can’t help feel that glimmer of hope that their Toys will return for the moment but in the end, it all turns back to square one. Even if their Toys temporarily return, was it really fluke? When someone they love is in great danger, could it only be then that their Toys will return? The mystery and reason of their Toys’ disappearance is never explained nor given priority that it will be revealed somehow and though this feels like it needs some investigation but I don’t think that case will be solved any time given the way Milky Holmes are right not.

Milky Holmes as fallen detectives are a bunch of fun loving lolis. It’s hard to hate them since their fall from grace not only because they’re cute but the fact that they never gave up. Other than that, it’s hard to wonder if they’re the genius detectives they once were. I mean, their ‘stupidity’ and retardness is well, genuine from then. From being selfish spoilt brats to happy go lucky simpletons (all they worried at first is food and are easily swayed by it) to annoying useless dumb asses that obstruct others, even if you throw the clues and answers right in front of their faces, they’ll never be able to guess it. So much so I concluded that the only reason why they don’t really lose out is because they’re the heroines. Nothing else. Sheesh. Even the baddies are much more competent than them a hundred times even if one them really has a personality problem. Makes you wonder that they just inherited the name from their great ancestors. At the rate they’re going, they are going to sully and tarnish it. They’d even turn over in their graves. How can a famous detective academy even house such disgraceful retards? How could this even be possible? But you have to give it them and especially Sherlock for their sunny disposition as she is the one that glues the rest together. Hercule is too shy, Nero is too brute and tomboyish while Cordelia is, well, too delusional when she becomes afraid. Say, if Cordelia’s Toys is to see and hear things that others could not, how come she couldn’t sense that Henriette is Arsene then? Oh yeah, retard…

Aside from those ‘idiots’, Kokoro should have fittingly been part of the group if not for her utmost detest for the detectives. She thinks she is hell of a smart each time proudly stating her IQ level, which by the way increases 10 times fold from the 130 level to 130 billion by the time the series ended. Did she magnify that on purpose? Or does she have memory problems in keeping track of her own IQ? Not very smart, eh? Besides, I have no qualms if she even reaches 130 trillion. Yeah, I admit you’re smart. In monkey land whereby the average IQ is 130 quadrillion (that’s 15 zeros, baby!). And she’s a graduate from Harvard? Yeah, my dog also graduated from there with First Class Honours in Business Administration. It’s sad she ended up as the leader of G4 and even her partners are more ‘human’ than her. Even if Saku’s face is always monotonous like her voice, at least she’s more considerate than Kokoro. The only thing that scares Kokoro downright is the mentioning of Irene’s name. Oh yeah. She’s developed some sort of trauma in the end. After all, she personally knows how it feels to be kidnapped and treated like a doll. Hey, how the heck did she escaped from Irene’s grasp in the final episode? Besides it’s not like with Kokoro around, G4 gets the job done anyway. Detectives or police, what’s the difference if they’re retards? No wonder phantom thieves like Arsene can’t be caught.

Arsene/Henriette is full of mysteries and you can’t understand what is going on in her mind. It’s understandable that she wants to beat Milky Holmes at their top form but to go as far as to nurture them and even help them under the disguise as school staffs along with her men, how many baddies in other series do you know are this considerate? Put it this way. If you have put in lots of effort in growing and planting a fruit, when it ripens, it is going to taste a lot more delicious when you pluck it, right? Arsene has a short taste of that and looks like the fruit needs more tending if she’s going to enjoy the ultimate reap. One of the most disgusting and annoying character is Twenty. You have to agree with me on this. Each time, he never fails to deluge himself the super beauty he is (only second to Arsene, that is). He gets his thrills by not only stripping but molesting his own nipples!!! Yikes! Each time he is stimulated, you can grossly see how erected his nipples become! The more aroused he is, the longer his nipples! Oh sh*t!!! During such scenes, it makes me want to laugh and also flinch at the same time. So uncouth, so sickening but yet so funny. Well, it serves as a good lesson that I will NEVER do such a thing. Ever. On another thought, I think the gentlemen thieves will also be retards if they aren’t under the guidance of Arsene. So looks like Arsene is the only and real genius out of all the characters in here. Yeah, the world is filled with so many stupid people. So I guess even if Clark Kent admits himself as Superman here, you could say his secretly is definitely safe. Heck, Milky Holmes couldn’t identify Nijuuri as Twenty when he starts stripping and thought the latter just reminded them of the former. What more can I say? As for the other minor characters, they are quirky enough to have a slightly lasting impression even if they are just cameos for that particular episode. Like Claris’ desire to be free and experience the normal life, Pero’s love for Marple, Irene’s little sister fetish and the amusing poses of Kate and Mary. In a way, these people played a role in helping Milky Holmes to regain their lost Toys.

The opening theme is Sekai Wa Hitotsu! Janaii!! by the seiyuus of Milky Holmes and sounds like your typical genki and cheerful upbeat theme for the detective quartet. However the ending theme is much opposite and it’s like dedicated to the phantom thief of Arsene and her men. Entitled Honnou No Doubt by Faylan, this dark rock piece definitely suits her nature. Each of the episode title is named and based after a famous detective novel. If you look closely, when title is first displayed on the screen, it is the real original title and after the magnifying glass goes across them, the title changes to the modified version that will be the adventure of Milky Holmes in that episode. On a trivial note, the sponsor screen has the characters drawn in chibi form so they really look cute and funny. Of course the end card with different illustrations are also a little eye candy just like the mid-intermission with the characters in poses or places (okay, some of them felt like for fanservice). As for the next episode preview, we have the characters ranting about but it often ends with that character revealing herself/himself as the culprit even if she/he isn’t. Who? What? When? Why? Everybody is a retard, guilty as charged!

I might not get any interest of reading or watching detective novels and movies, but if there is going to be another season of Milky Holmes, you bet that I’ll be around to catch them in their silly antics. I know it’s bad of me to say this but I hope they keep failing their test to find back their Toys so that I could enjoy some laughs when they screw up. Bad me. I do sound like Kokoro enjoying seeing those lolis suffer and not even knowing it or what hit them till it’s too late. Forgive me if I called them retards too many times but it’s true. At least I know who NOT to call when a crime needs solving. Never let lolis do a man’s job. No wonder crime is flourishing. And I’m the guilty culprit for encouraging that. Doesn’t that make us partners in crime?

Wow. Not only just a hero. But a legendary hero as well. Furthermore, having his/her own legend thus the name The Legend Of The Legendary Heroes. How epic and legendary can you get with that? Initially after a few rounds with RPG themed animes, I thought this would be another RPG-like genre based on its name. However this resembles more of a fantasy adventure. No group, classes or parties like archers, fighters, priestess, rangers (insert other classes you can think of) but we do have magic wizards here. Heck, almost everyone who has the ability to fight can use some sort of wizardry powers. Each power is unique enough so much you can tell the user hails from which country.

And being the fantasy adventure type, this doesn’t mean that I am spared with all the epic names of characters (read: hard to pronounce, spell and remember – okay some aren’t that bad), names of the countries (surprisingly they are short and sweet) and the unique terms and jargon that come exclusively in this series. Not your typical good versus evil as the lines between them are blurred. What we’ll see here are basically corrupted nobles, warring nations, civil unrests, scars of wars, traumatic pasts, political conspiracy, backstabbing, and the eternal fight to uphold justice and peace of the people of the land. For slightly more info on the characters and detailed summary of this series, go to Wikipedia and Anime Evo and loads of screenshots from Tenka Seiha. That’s where I go read up when I don’t understand. Not to say that I fully comprehend whatsoever since I didn’t read the light novels that this series was adapted from.

The main protagonist is no other than Ryner Lute. Looks like your ordinary peace loving guy who loves spending his time napping if not for the troublesome task of searching for Heroes Relics throughout the Menoris continent. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone could just take an afternoon siesta instead of fighting for supremacy? Apparently many others in higher places don’t think so. Unlike others, Ryner possesses something rare. He is one of the few with God’s Eyes (or Cursed Eyes if you’re afraid of them) called Alpha Stigma (see the insignia in his eyes close-up?). Though it allows the user to completely analyze and copy all sort of magic, Alpha Stigma bearers are extremely prejudiced and shunned to a point they are feared and being labelled as monsters. As far as everyone knows, Alpha Stigma bearers have the tendency to go berserk and destroy everything it is path. Don’t want to be near to that when that happens, eh? Accompanying Ryner on his journey is the beautiful babe and skilful swords(wo)man, Ferris Eris. Wait. To say she is his company isn’t right. He’s more like a manservant to her. Yes, the most amusing interaction from the duo stems from Ferris actions towards Ryner. In her usually deadpan voice, this sadist will not hesitate to beat up, whack, abuse, insult, mock, ridicule, scorn, tease (and all other words associated with it you can think of) Ryner. She even will not have second thoughts of making up stories, putting atrocious words in his mouth, create his fake past and future dreams that he is a pervert, sex fiend, immoral piece of garbage, etc. Not only that, acting in the front of unsuspecting third parties that she is ‘sullied’ by him though she tried to resist! You’d normally hate women who act like that but you can’t because it’s simply just funny to see Ryner bear the pain. It’s the kind of ‘chemistry’ between the duo that makes them, well, get along with each other so well. Maybe not. It’s a love-hate relationship. Not even the almighty Alpha Stigma could stand up against or even touch her, eh? No matter how strong and swift she is for a normal human, Ferris has a weakness: Dango. Yes those tasty little balls on a stick, especially those of the Wynnit Store. She’d do anything for them (Ryner usually bearing the end of her antics) and has a bottomless stomach to chow down boxes after boxes. No wonder the dango shops are flourishing. And yeah, any motivation or job needed to get done, dango is sure a pretty good excuse. Then there’s the good young bishonen king of the Roland country located at the south of the Menoris continent, Sion Astal. How many kings do you know work as hard as him in his quest to create a place that nobody will have to fight or suffer? A king that laments and blames himself that he lacks the necessary power to change his country for the better? No wonder all his subjects and people love him very much. There are many other characters but you’ll get to learn about them as you go by.

Episode 1
So the series basically starts off with a narration how countless beings and kingdoms fought wars just for that world domination thingy. Till some legendary heroes came along and kicked their asses. Whoever they are, they must be hell good to become legends. Then we see Ryner and Ferris in the middle of fighting some guards during their quest to look for Heroes Relics. Ferris’ excellent skill has them running away. Then they take a rest while Ferris chomps down her usual dango fix while reiterating that she’s just to guard him on his mission to find those relics for Roland. Back in the kingdom of Roland, we are introduced to Sion and his close and trusted subjects, Claugh Klom, Calne Kaiwal and Rahel Miller. Back to Ryner and Ferris, they stumbled into a tomb (Ferris just sliced the big door open as opposed to using Ryner’s ‘ineffective’ Alpha Stigma which was taking too long). They get into all sorts of activated traps but Ryner being the unfortunate chap nearly getting pierced, burnt and drowned. They notice a group of Taboo Breaker Squad following them. Led by the scatterbrain captain, Milk Callaud, she’s from the same orphanage as Ryner but obviously that guy doesn’t remember, breaking that girl’s heart (yeah, she has a crush on him). I guess she introduced herself too long so much so she bit her tongue. Even Ferris teases her for being in a ‘casual’ relationship with Ryner. She wants Ryner to follow her back seeing that he’ll get a chance to get off lightly but I guess the pair doesn’t see her bungling-ness as a threat so they nonchalantly leave. Milk tries to stop them with her magic but trips and causes a big explosion. Luckily Milk gets saved by her team comrades, namely Luke Stokkart, Lear Rinkal, brothers Lach and Moe Velariore. Meanwhile Sion thwarts a boy, Fiole Folkal who is trying to assassinate the king after mistaking Sion as the kidnapper of his sister, Eslina. Fiole wishes to die since he can’t save his sister but Sion saves him with his speech to change this corrupted land. After Sion frees Eslina in his chambers, he attends a party for nobles and learns that it was them who kidnapped Fiole’s sister as their ‘gift’ to the new king. Back to Ryner and Ferris, they encounter a big freaking rock creature. The obvious option is to run like hell. But watching it cause destruction? Well, whoever said they’re heroes in the first place? Ferris even leaves the cleaning up mess to Ryner. He notices a jewel on her and thinks it might be another of those relics. She says she picked it up from inside the tomb. Before anything else could happen, the jewel floats into the air and emits a bright light which turns into a massive explosion, turning the creature and the surrounding land into a huge crater. Some kind of Heroes Relic that was.

Episode 2
Flashback time. We see Sion’s mom was killed and that he is an illegitimate child of a noble and a commoner. Because of that status, he is being put into Roland Royal Special Military Academy. It may seem that the academy trains teenagers for the army but is in fact a place where the offspring of ‘bad’ people are put. Orphans of the war are also placed here and so that they can be sold to nobles and sent to war on their children’s behalf. Despicable. Sion notices Ryner as the Alpha Stigma bearer and wants him and Kiefer Knolles as part of his team. Obviously that sleepy guy isn’t interested. Till Sion coaxes him that he will tell everyone about his eyes. During a mock battle, Sion displays his leadership and strategic skills by ambushing the other team, earning praises from his team members. Back at the academy, Sion extends his hand to Ryner and wants him to join him in his quest to build his ideal country where no one will suffer or die. They are interrupted when cloak people came to assassinate Sion. And Ryner really left the scene to let Sion handle his pursuers! Sion is cornered in an alley but is saved by Ferris. She makes him return the favour by… You guessed it: Dangos. Man, you got to love this lady on how she imposes on everyone. Sion continues to deliver more dangos to Ferris at her family home. He learns that she was being ordered by her elder brother Lucile to protect him (Lucile’s orders are absolute as proclaimed by Ferris) and that the Eris family has personally served the previous kings of Roland for generations. He also meets Ferris’ perky little perky sister, Iris. Your typical little hyped-up loli who looks up to her big sister all the time. At the academy, some of the students are horrified that the neighbouring country of Estabul is trying to invade their land and that they’ll be in the front lines. Another war going to start. Meanwhile Ferris and Iris are torturing some noble in his manor to find out if he was the one behind the assassination of Sion. He laughs his head off since he tells them that the academy people are trekking to their doom because it’s a trap with 50 Magic Knights of Estabul are already waiting for them. Plus, he mentions of a spy within that group. It’s going to be an onslaught.

Episode 3
Lucile appears from nowhere to slice off that guy’s head and do a quick kill. He mentions that this is a test to see if Sion would be a competent king. As they young soldiers take a break in the plains, suddenly they are ambushed by the Estabul Magic Knights. Each one getting their heads or body sliced off in a bloody and violent manner. Each getting picked off one by one. Sion orders the rest of the survivors the retreat as we see that Kiefer is the spy. Then several Estabul Magic Knights got Sion in their grasp. Ryner uses his Alpha Stigma magic to wipe them out in an instant. Sion is upset that he should’ve used his magic earlier and prevent casualties. Then Ryner gets knocked out and when he opens his eyes, he finds that Sion and Kiefer in custody and the only survivors left. Everyone else was killed. The Estabul Magic Knights try to awaken his Alpha Stigma by trying to rape Kiefer. Let’s just say it was effective enough for Ryner to collapse into his dark self. Hear that maniacal laughter? Note that ‘destroy everything’ line? That means you’re in sh*t. BIG SH*T! He turns the entire Estabul Magic Knights into heaps of bloodied dead corpses in an instant! Don’t mess with him. He is even going to kill Sion and Kiefer via strangulation if Sion didn’t close his eyes. Yeah, it’s just that simple to stop a rampaging Alpha Stigma bearer. But can you get this close to him in the first place? In the aftermath, Sion has been hailed as a Hero King while Ryner is being beaten up badly while Kiefer is thrown into jail. Ryner makes a deal to take Keifer’s place in exchange for her freedom. Kiefer feels guilty for putting him into all sorts of trouble but Ryner is okay with it and that she isn’t a monster who killed people unlike him, the greedy ones and wars. She kisses him before she leaves. Soon Sion pays Ryner a visit and wants to take this chance to bust him out but he refuses. This is his only way to get this much needed nap, right?

Episode 4
Sion meets Lucile who puts him through some test to see if he is worthy to be their Roland king. Whatever it was, I’m sure Sion passed because he’s still breathing. Two years have passed since Ryner’s condemned and isolated imprisonment. He even made friends with the sole guard watching his cell. During his captivity, Ryner requests lots of books from the library as he begins writing his report. One day, the guard receives a bad news and reluctantly lets him out of his cell. No, he is not free. Seems he is judged to be too dangerous to even be locked away and will be executed. On the way out, he bumps into and even battles Ferris who is to escort him back to the palace (so that’s how their ‘relationship’ started, eh?). In the palace hall, Ryner is shocked to see Sion crowned as the king. Sion has been reading his research about the search for Heroes Relics and gathering them all will lead to a world without deaths, suffering and crying. And don’t forget afternoon naps too. He takes a liking to it and orders Ryner to go on a mission to retrieve those relics with Ferris accompanying him in case he slacks off. Why the heck would he do that? It’s that or his life. And why the heck would Ferris do that? She’s not his subordinate. Sion must have learned the magic word. If she doesn’t her favourite Wynnit Store will burn down this instant! Get your ass moving now! For the sake of the dango and its future! And yeah, Ryner has to be dragged along with her pace. For her dangos. So the report he wrote to pass the time has come back to be one big pain the ass, huh?

Episode 5
Ryner and Ferris arrive in the country of Nelfa as part of their search. After more of Ferris’ wicked accusations of Ryner’s lust, they save a pair of young children and a teenager from a bunch of unruly thugs. That teenager is Toale Nelphi and he is just like Ryner in the sense that he is born out of a union between a noble and a commoner. They visit his library to do more research on the Heroes Relics. Meanwhile Sion attends another banquet and the stuck-up nobles have not changed a bit. After the party, Sion becomes depressed and blames himself for his lack of powers to make changes when he finds Fiole murdered in his room (and he was supposed to take the day off to see his sister). Noting that this is part of the nobles’ scheme to bring him down (Fiole is a commoner and holding a noble position, thus their resentment for it), he orders Claugh to make arrangements for Fiole’s burial and Calne to protect Eslina before the nobles get to her but chooses not to get revenge yet as he thinks he would be no different than them. Back at Ryner and Ferris who are staying at an inn with lots of noisy children. Iris makes her debut. She takes a very much dislike to Ryner and calls him a wild beast. I’m not sure what kinds of ideas were put into her head but she’s too overprotective over her sister. She even has this thinking that if you talk to a wild beast, you get impregnated regardless whether you’re a man or woman. WTF?! And yeah, Iris does not hesitate to throw her loli punches and kicks whenever possible at poor Ryner. Too bad Ferris worsens the situation by lying about putting up with his advances. Back to Sion, he is approached by Miran Froaude a fast rising and high ranking officer in Roland’s army. He is here to offer his assistance to Sion in creating his ideal country. However as we know, achieving it the good ol’ way isn’t possible so Miran is here to bear the darkness on his behalf. Gulp. I can think of shady tactics that this guy will come up with. Yeah, he even mentioned that he is willing to get rid of his own father to achieve his means. And Sion accepted him? What choice does he have? Since this Miran guy is quite a smooth talker too.

Episode 6
Iris returns to Sion because she’s supposed to be a messenger between the king and that travelling clowns, oops I mean, duo. Anyway her drawing is horrible. I can’t make out anything of it. Sion visits Nelfa to improve relations. Though the Nelfa king is welcoming him, his eldest son, Starnel remains arrogant and even mocks Sion so much so the king has to berate him, get a little physical before he leaves. Ryner gets a rude wake-up call. No, not his nap is being disrupted by a certain blonde bombshell, but rather he is surprised to see Sion in person in Toale’s residence. After that, he gets more abuse from Ferris who continues to show her unreserved and merciless side on him. Sion asks if Toale is Starnel’s son and though he replies affirmative, he is just a burden to his father. His simple wish is to raise his other siblings in a happy manner. That night as Sion attends a party in Nelfi’s castle, Ryner and Ferris protect the castle from outside assassins without letting the party from being interrupted. Those people inside don’t even know what’s going on on the outside. Back at the inn, Ryner and Ferris sense somebody coming. It is Miran. He mistakes Ryner for Toale and wishes to dispose of him. They put up a good fight so Miran knows he’s got the wrong person. After all, even Ferris got injured by Miran’s darkness power that originates from his shiny finger ring. Miran continues to history of this powerful ring that was used in many assassinations till some hero, Halford Miran sliced it off its fingers and stopped the power. Even in this time, Ferris has the cheek to put up a fight with Ryner for talking too much instead of finding the enemy’s weakness or do something about the Heroes Relic (Miran’s ring) right before his eyes. Miran finds them interesting and promises he won’t kill Toale but will kill them since they will pose a threat to the king he serves. However he has bigger matters to deal with first and leaves. After that, Ferris collapses from her injury (she must be one tough woman to be putting up with that bluff) and Ryner catches her. Back in Sion’s room, Claugh digs up some info on Miran but couldn’t find much. He is still wary and suspicious of him. Then Miran shows up for his report of the incident in Nelfa. Noting that his background is being researched into, he coolly asks if he would be dismissed. However Sion says that he would still keep him and will use him as and when he deemed fit. It’s a total opposite if one at such position would do, to get rid of dangerous people at once. That’s what makes him a respected king. Then Sion learns about Miran’s encounter with Ryner and Ferris and wonders if he made a mistake somewhere in accidentally attempted to kill them. Next morning, Ferris’ injury is healed so they leave the place to prevent from being a burden and that incident to happen here again.

Episode 7
A flashback of Milk’s past. Seems she went through hell when she was a child. She wanted death as a way out but Ryner gave her the courage to carry on living. That’s why in a way she’s grateful and chasing him down. She wakes up from that dream and goes to have breakfast with her mates. I think they love seeing Milk’s moe expression every time she digs in her favourite food. Sugoku moe! Elsewhere, Ryner and Ferris continue their raid on the search for Heroes Relics. However the bunch of treasure chests are filled with details of tax evaders. If you think about it, those who don’t pay their taxes are some sort of ‘assets’ or ‘treasures’, right? You can hound money from them in the future. Anyway, they meet a pair of seemingly harmless pink-haired siblings, Kuu and Sui Orla. They too are searching for the relics but gets dismayed when they only see those filings before leaving. Ferris torments and threatens Ryner to rethink the accuracy of the map he got to find this Heroes Relic so I guess in the end he is made to dig the spot of the supposed relic in the woods. Milk and her Taboo Breaker Squad were supposed to use this chance to ambush and take back Ryner but you know, such goofy team can never beat that pair who has gone through so much. They tie the quintet up (another round of weird interjections – what else but the master pervert) and return to work but come into contact with the Nelfa garrison patrol. Milk quickly thinks up of a plot before she loses her chance to capture Ryner. That is, to squeal that she needs to go to the toilet! The patrol spots the quintet but Ryner and Ferris return to impede the patrol. Milk is upset because Ryner wasted a chance to escape himself. I assure you he’s not the kind of guy. Besides, who would leave a damsel in distress behind? As the fight continues, Ryner tries to use the dagger, which is a Heroes Relic that he just dug up, but since nothing happened, he throws it away. The dagger is thrust into the ground and a giant red dragon emerges. So what’s the next plan to deal with that ‘unnecessary dangerous thing’? Walk away like as though nothing happened. WTF?! Seriously?! Yup. That’s what they did. Milk laments over her inept position as captain but her comrades back her up that they will always be with her because they’re like family. They’re even there as far as to correct the mistakes she makes. She remembers how the team was assembled and called into Sion’s room. They were handed a mission to capture Ryner even if they knew the job would mean betraying their own brethren. She accepts it without a second thought because of her gratitude for Ryner. Sion pays a visit to Fiole’s grave, still blaming himself for his failure to protect him. Eslina is also there as she shares the tears over her brother’s death. She later offers herself to serve him. Lastly, Miran tells Sion that Estabul has started a rebellion. It’s going to be busy.

Episode 8
While Ryner is obviously in unbelievable mode at how many boxes Ferris could eat and bring on their trip (he has to carry them all, by the way), Sion and his subjects are in discussion to quell Estabul’s rebellion. Sion comes up with tactics and strategies based on the information given by Miran. He orders Claugh to head the army instead of Miran, who will continue his intelligence gathering. Later as Sion and Miran pass each other, Sion knows that he is the one behind the uprising as the latter says that it’s a way to eliminate those who are against him. At a base in Estabul, Lady Noa Ehn, the popular daughter of the previous king talks to her subject, Salawell about the rebellion. She is against it since she notes that Roland has taken good care of Estabul’s people. Salawell’s reasoning is that it is to get out of Roland’s iron grip before it’s too late. Then a flashback how they wanted to create a kingdom where everyone can smile and be happy. Claugh and his army arrive as he easily takes out the enemy with his powerful magic arm (though he first tries to make them surrender instead of killing them). Estabul is at the losing end as Noa and the rest discuss their further action. I guess they’re desperate enough to say something about beheading the prisoners if they do not withdraw. The internal conflict is interrupted when Miran somehow manages to get pass all the guards and into the hall. He kills everyone as Salawell takes Noa and run. In a room, Noa is horrified to learn that it was Salawell who had a hand in staging this rebellion with Miran. His plan is to kill her and be viewed as the new hero and saviour of their kingdom. And all the while she had truly believed in him. Too bad he won’t live long to see that dream come true because Miran cuts off his head. Now it’s his turn to tell his story. The hostages get killed, Noa commits suicide, the end. Sion predicted this that’s why he put Claugh in charge rather than Miran. Speaking of the devil, before Miran’s story could be a reality, Claugh steps in to protect Noa. Both guys get ready to duke it out but Noa comes between them, having had enough of bloodshed. Noa suggests talking to them in hopes of convincing them to follow Roland instead of letting the hostages be killed and sully their reputation. And if Miran wants to kill her after that, so be it. But not everyone else. This was enough to convince Miran to back down. Noa notes to Claugh that his king is a great one. Meanwhile Sion seems depressed of the bloodshed in Estabul. Perhaps Iris didn’t know what crying means so much so she seems excited that Sion is going to put on a crying face like those she has read in books. She continues with her horribly drawn report about a certain wild beast and a beautiful angel of retribution. Oh God… Then after receiving some alerting news from Miller, Sion wants Iris to head back to Ryner’s whereabouts. Speaking of which, that guy is incredulous over the increase in boxes of dangos. He’s got to carry all that! Easy to put the blame on Sion, right?

Episode 9
The usual hostility when Iris meets Ryner and the usual fawning when she greets Ferris. Anyway, leaving out all those antics, Iris is supposed to hand them a letter from Sion but it seems she misplaced it (it’s in the dustbin with all the stoopid dango boxes). Iris faintly recalls it has something to do with that red dragon so the duo think that Sion probably wanted them to investigate it and head off. However the contents of the letter states about that dragon killing an entire village then suddenly disappearing. Sion wants them to abandon searching for the relics in this area. Too late. The duo arrive in a dead forest and corpses of humans hanging lifeless on the tree branches. They see Kuu and Sui around but notice they have the dagger relic that Ryner thrown away. Seems the siblings were the ones responsible for the village’s massacre. They can’t let any other witness live so you know what this means. Sui shows them how to properly use this relic as he stabs the dagger into his arm. It turns into a dragon and breathes hot fire. As explained, the weapon materializes when it is stabbed into something and its power based on the bearer’s will. Since the ground had no will, thus the reason why the dragon was relatively harmless earlier on. As they fight, Ryner and Ferris learn that they have more Heroes Relic: Kuu’s scythe that can shoot out ice and Sui’s comb that can nullify any magic. Sui also knows that Ryner is an Alpha Stigma bearer and unleashes a crystal to paralyze him as he wishes to obtain the Alpha Stigma. His dark side starts to awaken as Ryner in vain tries to prevent its awakening. Finally Alpha Stigma is fully awakened and is going to destroy everything. Sui is confident that his comb will nullify his powers but he’s gravely mistaken. Alpha Stigma blasts a powerful shot enough to vaporize the comb and if he didn’t cut his own arm, he might have vaporized with it. The siblings make a run for it while Ryner relives his horrifying past how everyone labelled him a monster when they found out he’s such a bearer after he disposed the guards who were punishing the villagers for stealing items off corpses of fallen soldiers.

Episode 10
So Ferris is left to deal with this menace spinning out of control. Even in this state, Ferris remains calm and acrobatically avoids all discharges. Even more amazing, she can spew all those insults like he’s already known as the legendary pervert. Even so, the bottom line is that she has never viewed him as a monster (but her manservant or tea companion at least – hey, she’s honest about it). Can Ryner hear her? Maybe she should speak louder. Does that tears streaming down his eyes tell you something? Ryner awakens a little and manages to give her a hint on how to seal his Alpha Stigma before he actually strangles her. After Ferris closes his eyes, she lends him a shoulder to cry on. Meanwhile Eslina continues to chide Sion for overworking and not eating his meals properly (like shades of Fiole, eh?). After Noa ‘borrows’ Claugh, Miran comes in with news that the northern most country of Gastark is starting some invasion but they don’t have to worry yet as their neighbouring country of Stohl which boasts the mightiest army will be stopping their tracks. Miran also suggests unifying Roland by purging all those (especially nobles) who are against Sion. The king doesn’t seem keen on it till Miran mentions that his country will be destroyed by the time his ideal ways are done. Later Miran meets Duke Stearead. He wants Miran to work for him but Miran only sees Sion because he knows he is the only one who can make his ideals come true. He throws back a question at Stearead on which side he would choose, prompting that old guy to sweat in his pants. Claugh and Noa seem to be like a cute couple. After he escorts her home, Noa finds dead bodies in her hallway. She is being held captive and asked to strip. Claugh senses something wrong and returns. He becomes very mad that the perpetrators may have violated her (naked and crying – does that tell you something even if the baddies said they haven’t done anything to her – yet) so he unleashes his magic on them without mercy. Meanwhile Ryner and Ferris trek their way to a village called Regit they believed may have some hint about the Heroes Relics. They spot a couple of ruffians chasing down a little girl, Kuku. What’s with these people abusing children anyway? After knocking them out, Kuku pleads to them to save her childhood friend Arua who seems to be captured and taken away for investigation because he has that Alpha Stigma eyes too. Yeah, the soldiers killed her parents and was about to kill her when Arua saved her by using his Alpha Stigma, something which he has never used before in his life. Now, this is getting personal for Ryner. Back to Sion, he is being told by Miran about Noa’s assault (of course Miran had no hand in it this time). Then he mentions about his plan to purge the nobles by feeding them with sweet honey and letting their guard down before slaughtering them all in one go.

Episode 11
Sion promotes many of his subjects to high positions. They aren’t happy with it because they’re sincerely following him for his beliefs and not for the promotion. They also discuss about the growing influence and occupation of Gastark. Then Miran tells about his plan to purge the nobles by gathering them all in one place. Claugh is against the idea since it will involve women and children. To his surprise, Sion agrees with Miran. Even if Roland nobles are against him, they are still people of his country and have the right to be protected. I’m not sure the rational of this. Sion wants to save his country without losing any lives but he is taking the aggressive method to do so. He gives them a choice of whether to join and build Roland into a better country and if not, they will be purged. Elsewhere Miller and Luke meet up and talk about the latter’s duty in the Taboo Breakers Squad. They also talk about Milk who comes from an orphanage and was made to go through tough military training at a young age. They note she can’t remain in this country for too long. Ryner and Ferris spot Arua being tied up and instigated by a noble and his Magic Knights to use his Alpha Stigma. They hasten the process by killing his mom. His dad is next. Ryner can’t stand anymore of this and leaps into the fray. Ferris no choice has to kick some serious ass too. Ryner tries to give Arua’s dad some time to take his son and escape but the noble stabs him to death. Arua becomes traumatized after witnessing his dad’s death before his eyes and goes berserk. Yup. Alpha Stigma activated. Luckily, Ryner manages to close his eyes and put him to a long slumber. They are to make their way out but the guards insist that they do not steal their precious research sample and that they will be punished by God. Ryner hates this kind of hypocrisy talk and wonders who are the real devils themselves. And if God really existed, why create such people like them when they have done no wrong at all. Is their own existence a sin? So much heavy thoughts on Ryner’s mind as they take a break at a waterfall after successfully getting away from the reinforcements.

Episode 12
Morning comes. Seems Ferris has stolen a horse carriage. I don’t want to know how. They’re supposed to bring Arua back there and reunite with Kuku. It’s a good thing since Ryner can’t carry him all the way there. However, Ferris makes the poor guy run after them after he puts Ryner in the carriage. At Miran’s mansion, his father hosts a party of nobles. After the doors close, Miran’s dad rallies the nobles to go against Sion and preparations have been made. He requests Miran to explain the details but he wants everyone to do him a favour: To die. With this shocking revelation (they sure didn’t see this coming), Sion uses his darkness power to massacre down to the very last person including his dad. Except for Stearead. He’s so scared of Miran that he’s now like his subordinate doing his every bidding and will never cross his path. Even if this old guy has no backbone, he won’t live long too. That’s because somebody soon decapitates his head. Seems to be the work of a pink-haired guy, Lir Orla. Eventually both guys fight with their power rings (Lir possesses the thunder beasts) but Lir’s power seems superior to the point that it is even eating up his dark beasts. Miran could’ve been dead if Claugh didn’t bust in to save his butt and make their escape. Outside, Miran wonders why he did that so Claugh replies that he was sent due to orders from Sion. Elsewhere, Kuu and Sui are coaxing the Runa king to form an alliance with their country Gastark. Though the king says that their side has already made an alliance with Roland, I’m sure his current situation being all his guards dead around his feet makes him think that it would be wiser to team up with these guys for now. Ryner and Ferris continue to ride into the night with reinforcements chasing after them but were easily taken care off. Then at the border of Stohl, there is an influx of people coming in since Gastark and Stohl are at war. Among the crowd is Kiefer.

Episode 13
Another short flashback. Four years earlier, Kiefer and her sisters were ambushed at a festival for being spies from Estabul. The older sister tried to hold them off but was killed. They’re going to the same to the younger one so Kiefer pleaded that she’d do anything. Anything? I guess that’s how she ended up being a double spy agent. Back in Stohl, Kiefer receives orders from her captain to retreat since Gastark will be upon them soon. However she refuses to leave seeing that there are innocent civilians still in the area. Then she spots a pair of young children in danger of being killed by a magic attack. She rushes to save them. But second round is coming. She was resigned to her death fate when some guy swings his giant sword to dispel the attack. He turns out to be Refal Edia, the king of Gastark and his sword is of Heroes Relic. They get into an argument which prompts Kiefer to say that she hates war (does anybody really love them?). Refal is amused by Kiefer and takes a liking for her (is he trying to flirt with her too?). Then he goes on saying that he hates war too and that wars are inevitable as long as different countries exist. So another contradiction because he says he’s fighting to end all the wars. Huh? That’s like fighting fire with fire, right? Only difference is, so far it hasn’t ended yet. Refal than makes a deal with some contractor to exchange his left eye for a powerful power. He swings the unbelievably awesome and freaking huge magic towards his enemies and destroys them all in a single blow. Apparently this isn’t the only sacrifice he made. He too has exchanged his sense of smell and right leg for previous powers too. Refal offers Kiefer to join him to save more lives but she turns him down (still got Ryner on her mind, eh?). But maybe one day she will. Back in Roland, Claugh is tasked to merge Roland and Estabul’s army. Claugh is against it seeing that many Estabul armies still hate Roland. Sion thinks of using Noa’s popularity for the job. She doesn’t mind since Sion assures her that her people will be taken care of. Ryner and Ferris are in Regit and learn that Kuku is under house arrest. Then they encounter Kuu and Sui. Considering the events of their previous encounter, Sui is very much interested in him now. He’s not just an ordinary Alpha Stigma bearer. Sui tells Ryner where Kuku is being held and expects him to see him there. Miran pays the king of Runa a visit but he isn’t there to greet him but his daughter. She apologizes that he is unwell though Miran suspects something isn’t right and that Runa may have teamed up with Gastark. He later threatens a guard to spill the beans and after disposing of him, Miran feels he has to take action by eliminating those threats by himself.

Episode 14
Arua wakes up. He is still upset about the deaths of his parents when he has done nothing wrong. Ryner tries to cheer depressed Arua when Ferris saves the boy from being a victim of Ryner’s paedophile ways (here we go again). Ferris gives Arua some training so at least he has a chance to save Kuku. That night they arrive at the mansion where Kuku is being held. Sui and Kuu are waiting for them. Each give their reasons why their own king is great and the one who will save the world. Since neither is willing to give way and the ‘negotiations’ have broken down, get ready for round 2. Ryner vs Sui, Ferris vs Kuu. Ryner catches Sui off-guard when Arua unleashes a surprise attack on him. Since Sui can’t win, he thinks of killing Kuku to get Arua. No lolis are going to die today because Miran’s good timing bites off Sui’s dragon arm with his shadow beasts. Kuu is distracted so Ferris snatches Kuku from her arms. Miran questions Sui if his comrades were the ones responsible behind the movements in Runa and is going to kill him anyway when Ryner steps in between. Now he’s saving the guy who just wanted to kill him a minute ago? Sui and Kuu take this chance to escape. Ryner and Miran have a verbal confrontation. Something about eliminating all those every obstacle (according to Miran, if he does so only useful ones will be left). Anyway Ryner thanks him for saving Kuku but Miran doesn’t think so and confirms that he’ll have to kill him one day (didn’t he say that the last time?). Kuku and Arua are reunited but since they can’t follow them on their relic searching mission, Ryner has a good idea on who to leave those kids to: Milk.

Episode 15
Ryner and Ferris adrift at sea? Something like this happened. They came into contact with Milk and her Taboo Breakers Squad, they fight, blast the ship into bits and now they’re all separated. Then a sea storm comes. Ryner is washed up ashore and spots Luke making a meal. They both shortly clash before realizing each other. On the other hand, Milk spots Ferris and thinks this is her chance to save Ryner from that violent woman. Too bad she trips and falls down the cliff. Then Ferris proceeds to fill her innocent mind with lewd, indecent acts and intentions that only Ryner could possibly do. At first she won’t believe a single word but when it comes to making up such lies, Ferris is a number one convincer. Because of that when the ladies find the guys, Milk didn’t hesitate for a moment to fry Ryner with her lightning spell. Ah, she really fell for it this time. Then as Ferris mentions, they are on Roland shores. Ryner gets excited because he can return to kill the king for making him go through hell. Ferris is with him since she has intentions to be the new dango king (what else?) and since Ryner pleaded for afternoon naps, she gives in but on the ratio of dango to naps, 9:1 . Unfair! Sion seems to be reading some document about the world being overrun by demons and a legendary hero appeared to destroy them and save the world from demons. And if anyone finds those Heroes Relics, perhaps peace would return to the land. He wonders if all this is just a fabricated dream in the end. His scary face seems to startle a maid cleaning his room. He apologizes but the maid praised him for being such a nice ruler as compared the king of the country she came from. As Milk and co try to chase down Ryner in hopes to stop them from assassinating the king, Ryner and Ferris already breach into Sion’s palace and are thinking on how to torment him. Stealing the things he likes? What does he like then? Dango! Obviously not. Milk and co run into Claugh. He was supposed to be in Estabul but he heard rumours of someone planning to assassinate the king so he returned. Milk gets more paranoid so she excuses herself (that toilet excuse again) to find Ryner. She finds him but he tells her to duck. He takes out a cloaked assassin behind. Though she is relieved that he isn’t the one to assassinate Sion, Ryner realized that he should’ve let the assassin do the job instead. I hope he’s joking. Sion enters his bedroom but notices a dictionary falling before him before stepping in. Then he sees Ryner sleeping comfortably on his bed and wakes him up by throwing the dictionary on his face. Apparently this was Ryner’s idea of killing him? Is he even serious? Anyway Ryner starts his incessant complain about the troubles he went through on his journey since day one. Then they got into some compromising position that fujoshi girls would go crazy over. Then Ferris and Milk come in. Uh oh. She didn’t know he swings that way. Here we go again… Meanwhile Miran is reading some report and wonders if Milk is the reason why Ryner can’t leave Sion. Then something about the illusion of ideal kings breaks the people and the king himself. He is certain than ever that Ryner’s elimination is necessary.

Episode 15.5
This next episode is a recap episode. Except that it is from the viewpoint of Iris as she reports her biased, one-sided findings of what she observes to Sion. No prizes to guess who she labels the evil one and the all-good saviour. I’m sure Sion is patient enough to listen to her ‘easy to understand’ report. Horrible drawings included. A funny part in the end is that Ryner is having a tough time to finish up his own report too. His main concern is the amount of dangos eaten by Ferris on their journey! Oh the food expense is going to burn a hole in his pocket (he has to treat her anyway). So much that even the number onscreen seems like a rubbish number. And from Ferris’ report, she thinks she hasn’t eaten enough of them! And so far all those she has devoured is only half her usual capacity! WTF?! How much more can she go?! And it’s been a long time since she had a dango?! My foot! Her room is littered with empty dango boxes! With Ferris trying to beat up Ryner again, his room furniture is destroyed so Sion notes that the repairs will be coming out from his allowance. Trouble is so his middle name. And yeah, that montage of him getting beaten up is sure amusing. I’m such a sadist…

Episode 16
Back to the story proper, another flashback this time it’s Ferris. She’s asking the meaning of love so Lucile departs his knowledge on what that feeling is. Seems kinda broad, doesn’t it? And 4 years prior to that, we see her in some tough training with her mom. Mommy isn’t impressed with her ‘uselessness’ so she and daddy had no choice but to make her ‘useful’ by raping her?! Lucile didn’t like how this is developing and kills both his parents and says he’ll protect her from now. Maybe that’s why Ferris is so like that these days. That’s why she abruptly wakes Ryner up from his much needed slumber to go check out new dango stalls. Hey, isn’t this love? Back in Eris house, Ryner pays a visit to Arua and Kuku who are temporarily sheltering here (I guess it was too much for Milk). Ryner learns about Ferris’ abused past though the butler didn’t mention directly but his hints were enough to know what they mean. Then Ryner tells Ferris that Sion wants them to accompany him to Estabul. For once they both agree to ditch that mission and return on their relics searching mission. She wants him to meet her at Wynnit store tomorrow (expect to carry loads of dango backpacks). Soon he meets Lucile personally. The brother does some magic intimidation but Ryner didn’t flinch. Lucile mentions something about Ferris being his partner. Ryner questions back that he senses that Lucile isn’t human unlike Ferris. He gets suspicious of Lucile, seeing that he is close to Sion, he isn’t the one who is being tasked to escort him to Estabul. It’s like as though there is some binding curse and could only protect Sion within Roland. Lucile grabs him by the throat and warns that she is not his nor his blood will ever mix with hers because he is a monster that could never take anything. I’m not sure if this is a comforting note because Lucile mentions he feels safe leaving Ferris in his hands. As Ryner is walking back, he chances upon Milk who hands him an invitation card to her birthday party tomorrow. Uh oh. So it’s the dango trip or her party. A man can’t be at 2 places. After Milk leaves, Ryner reads the contents of the invitation and finds it shocking. Seems the invitation card has been switched by Luke to a letter personally signed by Sion to say that Ryner must be eliminated if he goes out of control outside Roland or betrays the country. Then Milk bumps into Miran. The worse possible match-up.

Episode 17
Ferris waits for Ryner at Wynnit but he never showed up. Oddly, the Taboo Breakers Squad guys are also worried that Milk is missing since last night. Ferris barges her way into Sion’s room to find him (like as though it’s her own house?) and the rest are surprised to learn that the Alpha Stigma guy is missing. Yeah, Ferris had no qualms about telling Sion straight in the face that they plan to shun the Estabul trip. Ferris even asks Lucile but he doesn’t give away anything. Then they receive word that an Alpha Stigma bearer is causing great havoc in Estabul. Sion feels that it can’t be Ryner since he only went missing just this morning. Claugh is ordered to head there to quell the problem. On his way, he learns that this Alpha Stigma bearer has black eyes, black hair and black clothes. Plus, he consumes those he kills. Claugh has a rough idea who he is seeing he met this person before when he was younger. Meanwhile Kiefer is in a library doing research on the different type of God’s Eyes differentiated by the different insignia pattern in their eyes. There are 5 known types so far. Other than Alpha Stigma, the rest include Ebura Crypt (ability to look into other’s dreams), Iino Dwoe (ability to consume the soul of others), Torch Curse and Wil Heim. Reading more about Alpha Stigma, it is believed the bearer will go berserk and will not return to his/her original self (ultimately leading to self destruction). However in Ryner’s case he did return to normal each time. She is interrupted with Refal coming in. He boldly tries to flirt with her though Kiefer tells him for all he knows, she may be a spy for another country. He replies he has a good eye for women (erm… He’s blinded in the left, isn’t he? Unless he likes dangerous women). Claugh arrives to see the culprit in action. He confirms that he is the one he has met before, Tiir Rumibul (looks a bit like Lelouch from Code Geass). He relishes the chance to fight him again. While the other soldiers are shocked to see him consume his soul in front of their eyes, Claugh charges straight. But Tiir is swift and goes on a killing spree, consuming some of the soldiers. The battle climaxes when Tiir tears Claugh’s magic arm! Oh sh*t! Tiir is happy that he made the right decision to let him live, now that he is ‘tastier’. Claugh orders his soldiers to retreat but the soldiers continue to fight on so that they could buy time for another could to take weakened Claugh to safety. Luke is searching for Milk when he is confronted by ruffians. They claim to have Milk in their custody and want him to follow him or else it will be Milk’s life. However Luke has set magic traps on them and knocks them out. Deducting that this could only be the work of military training in Roland, he concludes Miran must be behind this. Speaking of the devil, Miran appears. Miran wants Luke to follow Sion’s decree to kill Ryner but he refuses. As they both prepare to fight, Luke binds Miran in his strings. Elsewhere, Ryner is seen eating dango (he’s a dango lover now?) while contemplating Ferris is mad that he broke his promise. He knew this was coming, right?

Episode 18
Ryner wakes up from a nightmare. The one whereby he heard his mom wanted to kill him but dad calmed her down and assured he’ll protect them all. That calmness is shattered when his Alpha Stigma goes berserk and the next thing he knows, both his hands are bloodied. Sion learns of Claugh’s predicament as Noa accompanies him, in tears that he could’ve died then. Lear bumps into Calne and Eslina and tells them about Luke and Milk’s disappearance. Everybody is disappearing lately, eh? Ferris is so depressed that even her dangos can’t cure her! Is the world coming to an end?! Even Iris isn’t sure what to do. Then Eslina comes by. She has information about Ryner’s whereabouts. Ferris’ mind just spring into evil action, eh? Imagine the divine punishment she’ll give him. Ryner better enjoy his last few moments idly in some inn. That’s because Ferris blasts her way in and starts trashing the place, regardless of anything. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. He knew this was coming eventually, no? He thinks she is one of the elites sent to kill him but Ferris clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Then they hear a scream outside. It’s Tiir and he is glad he has found Ryner. He lunges at Ryner as Ferris tries to stop him. Magic doesn’t seem to work on him because he consumes them and gets stronger. He introduces himself and an Iino Dwoe bearer. Then a hail of arrows rain inside and some of them pierced Tiir. It is Sion and his army. The arrows are not covered with magic that’s why Tiir couldn’t avoid them. Tiir heals himself by consuming one of the soldiers. Sion and Tiir confront each other and the latter says he didn’t kill Sion yet because if he does, Ryner will go berserk. He goes on saying about the discrimination of humans calling them monsters. Ferris tells Ryner not to listen but Tiir’s words seem too true to ignore. Tiir offers Ryner to come with him and his other similar comrades as there is no place for him in the human world. Ryner doesn’t blame Sion and Ferris and doesn’t want to cause them more trouble anymore. By simply existing, he is causing Sion pain and such. Ryner chants a spell so Sion quickly orders his troops to fire but it’s too late as Ryner vanishes with Tiir. Sion is deeply saddened but he forced a smile and rallied his troops that victory is theirs since the enemy is gone. Ferris walks away while Sion tries to reconcile with himself that he did the right thing – to protect what he’s supposed to. Ryner and Tiir make their slow journey away from Roland as Tiir wonders if he has any attachment to the country. It’s not like he ever liked Roland in the first place. Next day, Ferris enjoys her usual dangos but is prepared to leave on a mission to bring a certain idiot back. Yeah, nobody does a better manservant job than he does. Besides, won’t it be boring and lonely if there is no one to beat up and tease?

Episode 19
Back in Gastark, Refal gets word of several God’s Eyes forming an anti-Gastark movement. Who wouldn’t after that kind of invasion. Tiir continues to ‘brainwash’ Ryner about human’s discrimination towards their kind. He states that they are not supposed to be inferior, but superior beings. Some of the subjects of Sion expressed surprise that he was keeping an Alpha Stigma bearer though Sion explains the great importance of such bearers in the military and in the case if he ever went berserk, that is what the Taboo Breakers Squad is sent to keep track of him. Refal is discussing military matters when Kiefer barges in. She’s not too happy that she is being put in a nice gown. Refal says that he plans to marry her. WHAT?! He can think of such things at this time? Not that Kiefer approves, not that his second-in-command approves, but he’s still king so he calls the shots, right? The fling is interrupted when they heard Kuu’s scream outside. Looks like Sui is badly wounded. Her scythe is damaged after using its remaining powers to bring him back. In his last breathe, Sui says his injury stems from an attack from someone who had the same Rule Fragment (Gastark’s term for Heroes Relic) like Lir. Though he doesn’t know the attacker’s country of origin, he notes that there is one similar from Roland: Ryner. This name startles Kiefer. Then the second-in-command says that Kiefer may know this Ryner guy. Reports that Sion was keeping Alpha Stigma bearer Ryner reaches the ears of Claugh and Calne. Briefly going through his history from his early days in the bandit village to some military training facility where he flopped missions, argued with superiors and was thus put into Roland Royal Special Military Academy to keep an eye on him. Calne is surprised that even with this much happening, he has never betrayed Roland. Tiir and Ryner arrive at a small cottage that houses several Alpha Stigma bearers, most of them kids. Recalling an earlier incident whereby the Orla siblings attacked them just to obtain their crystallized powers and succeeded in slaughtering 38 of them! Who are the real monsters? Tiir will not forgive those Gastark bastards and vows to protect these children. That’s why he is happy when he heard that there is another of their kind in Ryner. Ryner continues to join and spend time with the kids. While preparing for dinner, he meets Tiir’s friend, Lafra who possesses Ebura Crypt. He knew of Ryner because he watched him from his dreams and feels he is special, thus taking an interest in him. That’s why he told Tiir to go get him. They talk about wanting to protect those they love but the stigmata that prevent them from making friends with others. Lafra feels is kind but yet sad, weak and lonely. He wants Ryner to save the kids because he himself is unable to do so. Ryner thinks hard on Lafra’s words when he senses someone outside. Lir thought his cover has been busted but actually it is Luke who emerges nearby. He is here to exterminate him under Sion’s orders.

Episode 20
The mystery of what happened that night between Luke and Miran is explained. Luke told him that he will be killed if he lays a finger on Milk. Miran assured him that Milk is alright. He noticed Luke’s Heroes Relic so he admits that he picked it up after Ryner forgot to take it with him. In present, Ryner continues his fight with Luke. He uses his Alpha Stigma but Luke already has traps set around. Ryner thought this is the end when he is slammed away by Ferris. Oh, that was just good timing. It’s like she’s making for all those times he wasn’t around by maximum abusing him. Anyway they have to cut that short because an explosion is heard from the direction of the house. Lir burns the house down and Lafra was killed. That’s when one of his mates, Pueka starts to go berserk, activating her Alpha Stigma. Before Ryner could close her eyes, he was bitten by Lir’s lightning demon. Lir fires a crystal shot right through Pueka’s head and obtains her Alpha Stigma, killing her outright. This is getting personal for Ryner so he becomes rash. Ferris reminds him about the part of him being her manservant and such but will not ever consider him a monster. Lir is amused by their relationship and goes on to taunt the danger this monster is in the eyes of others. But Ferris is unfazed and couldn’t care less about that. Ryner is moved to tears that Ferris cares for him because without him, she’d be lonely (I thought there would be no one to abuse). Lir uses the crystal to force wake the Alpha Stigma inside Ryner. It’s that deja vu feeling again. However this time Ryner didn’t let his dark side get the better of him and on his own, cuts the Alpha Stigma off. This causes Lir’s crystal to break. Frustrated Lir prepares to counter-attack but Luke’s golden threads bind him but he manages to break free. Ryner fires a shot at him but actually was intended to revive Tiir (he was injured when the house burnt down). Ryner tells Tiir to take the kids to safety. Lir is upset that he is only left with one crystal and escapes. Luke lets Ryner live seeing the situation has changed. Ferris tells Ryner the facial expression Sion made after he left. Ryner resolves that he is going to return to Roland and is done with running away. He asks for a favour from her. That is, if he ever goes berserk, he wants her to kill him. As for Sion, he seems to be going through some sort of dilemma. Lucile mocks him about his orders to kill Ryner in which it could’ve been better for him if that guy was dead. However Sion reiterates that he will not kill him. Lucile continues with his riddle talk about sacrifice and choosing the proper path. Either way, he hopes the hero king will not regret it.

Episode 21
Some monster soldier going on a rampage. Refal discuss this issue with his men and fears that forbidden magic is being used. They go see Kiefer who is tied up in a dungeon. So where has that love gone? I thought he wasn’t taking Kiefer’s words as a spy seriously but after knowing her connection with Roland, she’s treated as a prisoner? Ryner and Ferris return to Roland castle and upon entering Sion’s room, they are shocked to see heaps of paperwork! I guess the king hasn’t been sleeping for days, eh? Worse, the duo are made to help him complete his work! No escape! Not even Ferris since she left her sword outside to Eslina. Miran’s sleeping spell on Milk wears off as she wakes up from a weird dream of seeing Sion crying and mumbling about wanting to die. Milk feels that her other comrades are hiding something from her and the first person she thought of who would know something is her father (this includes flashbacks of her tough training getting beaten up while her parents just watched her). That night she sneaks out to her dad’s mansion but to her horror it is in ruins. Luke followed her as he explains that they were killed, prompting Milk to become emotional. Even if they weren’t her real parents, she is grateful that they took care of her up to that point. She wants an answer of what is happening in this country but he couldn’t say. Claugh is fitted with a new black arm as he and Noa spend a little intimate together only to be disrupted by Calne (Noa got really embarrassed that she excused herself). Calne reports the murder of Milk’s parents and even though the purge is still going on for nobles who object Sion, Claugh notes that they are earnest people and wouldn’t do anything for their own benefit. Perhaps they were killed to be kept silent after learning something they shouldn’t have. And yes, Miran doesn’t have any part in this. Always easier to blame to suspicious guy, eh? Ryner notices Sion working too hard and at this rate may end up rate but he asserts that he has to in order to make his ideals come true. After Ryner leaves (probably to get some long nap), seems there is a voice clashing inside Sion’s head about having Ryner killed. Miran is outside offering his thoughts about letting Ryner get killed and the completion of Sion as king. However, Sion will not allow him to kill Ryner, surprising Miran even if he accepts whatever punishment that comes after. Miran continues to pester but was silenced by Sion. The door opens and a bright light emits from it. Miran continues to be shock of what he sees so Sion says he will show him both the light and darkness, causing that general to laugh insanely. Meanwhile as Ryner takes a walk down the street, he sees a familiar man: His father, Lieral Lietolu. I thought he is dead? Well apparently it is Ryner who will be dead because he got stabbed in the heart! And what does Lieral mean by “Welcome home, Ryner”? Is he a ghost taking Ryner back to the after world?

Episode 22
Lieral is approached by Lucile shortly. Lucile says something about Ryner isn’t ready to see some door yet so Lieral escapes using a Heroes Relic like the one Ferris possessed in the first episode. When Sion finds out about Lieral, he orders Lucile to find and kill him. Then Sion opens a door to a room with stained glass as he confronts his other self (clone?). Ferris jumps from building to building searching for Ryner and spots that manservant being carried away by Lieral. Ferris draws he sword and attacks him. Even so, she can’t touch him. He makes her sword heavy and taunts her if she likes Ryner. Then Ferris starts crying when she hears that Ryner is killed (seriously?! I thought she’d put on another poker face at least). Overcome with anger, she manages to lift her sword and charges straight but Lieral knocks her out with a punch to the stomach. I wonder if that will affect her dango input. Just kidding. Lieral notes that she passes and disappears, leaving the duo together. Elsewhere Milk and her Taboo Breakers Squad take down a monstrous masked soldier. Milk is horrified to learn that this is what everyone else is hiding from her. Seems Sion is resuming in secret some human experiments that he once banned. Milk gets emotional and feels sorry for the poor human experiment. So much so she doesn’t want to kill but her other comrades have no choice since this is part of their orders. She has a flashback when she was young, asking Ryner to marry her. She didn’t get an answer as she was called away but he gave her some words of encouragement thus getting her resolve to protect the country he in which he lives. As for Ryner, he is inside his own dream, facing some weird being called Alpha. All I know this being isn’t fond of Ryner whom he calls Solver of All Equations. He tries to use his Alpha Stigma but it has no effect. Alpha is stopped when his mom comes exploding out from its body. Huh? She tells him to get away from the Weaver of All Equations, head to some door and protect those he loves. Alpha regenerates and swallows her whole. Ryner continues running up to a door and after entering it, he sees some knight slaying all the demons. That’s when he wakes up in bed. Next to him is Ferris. Uhn… Did something happen? Who knows what Ferris will do if she wakes up… Oh too late, she just did. So after all the mocking that he is some perverted wild beast, I guess it really got to her mind that he finally did something to her, eh? Even if she was early to jump the gun, her retribution slap was enough to shatter all the windows. Super power, man. Meanwhile Sion continues to fight himself. Each thinking the other can’t do a better job. Something about Ryner. Always about him, eh? Whatever their methods whether it’s killing him or not, both wants to save him. So when one of them fades away, Lucile wonders which one had won. Back to Ryner and Ferris, when everything is calmed down (read: everything else destroyed), Ryner notices a weird symbol on his chest where it was stabbed. Then soldiers come in and swiftly take them away. Elsewhere, Kiefer is still locked up. Refal tells her a story about some hero who fought demons to save the world. As he sought some forbidden power, he was eventually sealed. To break free, he consumed the powers of the Demon of Loneliness. He tells her Gastark is advancing their invasion to the centre of the continent so a clash with Roland is inevitable. He also wants her to save Ryner before Sion betrays him. Kiefer is surprised on why she has to do that. Refal continues that the Black Fallen Hero devoured the Demon of Loneliness in order to save the world. Before despair consumes Ryner (Demon of Loneliness), Kiefer must save him from Sion (Black Fallen Hero). Are they reincarnations of that? Anyway the massive Gastark army gets ready for their invasion.

Episode 23
I don’t know how this happened but Ryner and Ferris are in Sion’s office working their ass off completing all his paperwork. Wait, actually it’s only Ryner who is doing all the work for 4 days straight without any sleep. So when he collapses due to sleep deprivation, Ferris slaps him up. Now his face is swollen. Thanks a lot, girl. Then Ryner and Sion struggle over some paperwork completion which accidentally crushes Ferris’ precious dango box. King or not, punishment is inevitable. Elsewhere too, after a few exchange of blows, Miran manages to convince Claugh and Calne to help in preparations of Sion’s grand birthday bash. They get some ideas from Noa and Eslina. I guess they can’t move without the main star: Ryner. So they drag him away while he is accompanying Ferris in her dango meal. Say, Ryner now has acquired some taste for dango after all this time. He even compliments a dango recipe made by her. A few days later, Sion is seen trying to escape in his carriage but was ambushed by his subjects as they take him back for his birthday party. Ryner is not going to let him slip away after all the torment he has gone through. As Sion steps out from his balcony. The people below cheer for their king as the celebration continues with a firework display over the mountains. Halfway during the party, Sion leaves to pick up Ryner in the woods (that poor guy was the one doing all the pretty fireworks). He takes him back to the place where he first offered his hand wanting Ryner to join him in his quest to make his ideal dream come true. They continue to talk about the endless work. Ryner isn’t happy that he isn’t getting enough sleep time. So how much does he need? 300 hours?! Sion agrees but wants to meet in the middle: In 4 hours time. Haha! Who says his maths was good in the first place? As the sun rises, Ryner apologizes to him that he first thought his ideal was an empty dream but now he knows it isn’t because everyone is happy and smiling. However Sion says it is an empty dream after all because many have died along the way. It’s like they both exchanged stands. Ryner praises him for his hard work bringing change to this country and that he doesn’t need bear everything to a point of punishing himself. Sion remains defiant and suddenly takes out a knife to stab him! Ryner was swift to evade it. It goes downhill from here as both ex-best friends fight each other.

Episode 24
That Black Fallen Hero and Demon of Loneliness story. The Hero went mad killing all the demons and was sealed in the south where he met Loneliness Demon. Hero wanted to break free and eat Demon’s body and the latter was more than happy to do so because he thought he found a friend. That’s when the equations were split into Solver of All Equations and Weaver of All Equations. The Hero continued his mad destruction spree but found only darkness and pain and thus realized he was dying. He needed somebody pass on this pain and the Demon gladly offered his body because for that brief moment he really felt had had a friend even if he was a fool till the end. Ryner continues to battle Sion and this time those masked human experiments emerge from the ground surround them. So Sion says he wants to kill him but apparently Ryner can’t let that happen because he already promised somebody else to that for him (Ferris). The undead soldiers attack Ryner left and right as Ryner dodges them, promising he would save Sion. Sion materializes black swords and stabs Ryner, activating his Alpha Stigma. Their Hero and Demon reincarnations seem to be calling out to each other, possibly repeating history itself. Then Ryner’s mom pops out from his stomach saying that it isn’t time yet. Soon, Lucile too turns up, saying something about underestimating her since he didn’t expect her to manage this long. She wants him to stop Sion and release Ryner because at this rate the world won’t be saved, no one will be saved. Lucile agrees and does so. After mom disappears, Lucile touches Ryner’s forehead and sends him to a dream world. The one where he and Sion are completing loads of paperwork. Back to reality, Sion is in a dilemma to thrust his knife into unconscious Ryner’s throat. He is fighting with his other self again and in the end, couldn’t kill Ryner. The thought of killing his friend to move forward was too much. Once he recollects himself, he walks away wishing farewell to Ryner. Ryner wakes up all bandaged and in a cell. Then the wall crumbles and we see Ferris. Ryner must be thinking he’s in real sh*t this time. But wait! Ferris did something we never expect her to do in a million years. She cries and throws herself in his arms!!! I didn’t see that coming! She was in despair when she heard from Sion’s mouth that he killed Ryner but refused to believe so. She also felt there was something wrong with Sion because when he said that, he was crying. Ferris continues that Sion is marching his undead armies through Nelfa, surprising Ryner. What’s odd is that the Roland people are cheering him on and that he is using forbidden magic in his killing spree. Ryner and Ferris make their escape before the guards come. Shortly outside, they see Kiefer across the bridge she cut off as she buys them time to distract the guards to go after her instead. Ryner and Ferris are going to save Sion as he narrates that he is grateful to Sion because he saved him and he never felt more alive than before. So he is going to save him no matter what because he is his best friend.

What Legend?!
Wait a minute. That is how it ends?! So incomplete, so unfinished?! And there I was worried that after so much potential build-up in the plot, development and characters, there number of episodes seems to be running out so much so I was wondering if they’re going to pull it all off like perhaps doing a rush ending or as it turned out, a potential continuation if ever that happens. Of course there are the novels if you are interested to continue reading but for me, if it isn’t turned into an anime, there is no chance that I will be picking it up. Thus I was a little disappointed of how this was ‘suddenly’ ended since I was expecting a clash between Roland and Gastark army seeing that everybody was already getting very prepared for the inevitable. Then when they throw in more characters in the end, coupled in with the development of those existing ones, my mind just went complicated. I mean, their names were already hard for me to remember, then with so many intrigues, incidents and occurrences taking place for the build-up, I thought I’d eventually lose track of it all. Not to say that this is one hell of a confusing series but I’m not used to this kind of genre so in a way, the abrupt ending was also a good thing and reliever since my head was going to explode with it all. As far as I can see from the storyline, it turned from one of searching for Heroes Relics to the purging of traitors, preparation of war to fighting inner demons.

Ryner is an amusing guy himself but he is more amusing when we see the chemistry and interaction between him and Ferris. He may not be perfect but at least deep down in his heart he is more human than many others. Ever since he started on this quest, he hardly has any good night’s rest thanks to Ferris’ constant abusing and the tons of work Sion throws at him. For a heavy sleeper like him, he could die from insomnia! Just a theory. And if he were to make up for all his sleep deprivation, he could break Rip Van Winkle’s record. Ferris’ character in the end really thrown me off-guard. I never thought she would turn into something like a tsundere! Maybe all those initial hints of abusing and teasing Ryner is a way of showing her tough love for that guy. After all, who else would be so fitting to be her dango expert. At first many would hate Ferris for taking out and even making up stories for Ryner but somehow I felt the opposite. Would you like a straight heroine or one as eccentric as her? She too shows that she isn’t a perfect being with her own traumatic past that probably makes her what she is today. Somebody who only does what is right or wrong based on those sweet little dango balls. Speaking of which, I think her bottomless stomach for it would put Clannad’s Nagisa to shame. As the series progresses, we see her showing more emotions than before. So she’s not a heartless and cold b*tch like we all thought her to be (okay, maybe at least to Ryner). There is something that is more than meets the eye for Sion. He is always putting up his nice smile up to a point that I was suspicious and having reservations if his ideals were true or not. Even if it was, there were several points that indicate that there is much more going on behind this gentle facade, like his contorting angry expression that nobody else sees. His different way of analytical thinking and foresight are perhaps what makes him a good king because for instance he keeps dangerous people near him as he has use for them. You know what they say about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. His inner self is something that puzzles me because it is just as mysterious as Lucile himself. Is he an ally or foe? His actions make you keep wondering if Lucile is just waiting for a moment to kill him when Sion slips up. Miran is also as enigmatic. My stereotype views on such ‘evil-looking’ characters would mean they had an ulterior motive and would do something despicable like betraying the kingdom in the end. However as for now and till this series ends, he is still sticking to Sion even if he did some questionable things. Somebody has to dirty their hands.

Because of the final arc of Sion fighting with his inner self, many of the other characters were sidelined such as Milk, Claugh, Calne, Noa, Iris and the Orla siblings. Tiir leading a group of God’s Eyes bearers in the end would also be interesting watch since there will be a third force that will be clashing between Roland and Gastark. Too bad, he too got sidelined when the story focuses more on Sion at the end. I also thought Kiefer would be reunited with Ryner (and possibly see a love triangle or quadruple – but who am I kidding?) so it felt somewhat ‘injustice’ that they just glimpse each other in the end. Milk’s naivety makes her another funny and amusing character. Without her Taboo Breakers Squad guys, I don’t think she would manage to get by even if her feelings to protect Ryner and kindness to all those living are strong. Noa was initially staying at Roland as some sort of prisoner but came close to Claugh enough to care for him likewise Calne and Eslina did. It’s funny to see Claugh and Calne teasing each other when it comes to women. With lots of other side characters, some of them were killed off. Some expected (like those arrogant betraying double-crossing bastards) and some unexpected like Fiole’s. His appearance was so short as I thought he would have a little more screen time seeing he serves an important position to Sion but got murdered a few episodes later. And then there are some who came back from the dead like those undead human experiments (duh…) and Lieral (well, at least Ryner thought of him to be dead).

I need to mention something about the action sequences. The sword fights and magic battles are rather okay and nothing that will blow your mind away. But the thing that may bother certain people is the bloody and gruesome deaths that befall on the characters. It is very graphic so if you’re not used to seeing limbs getting chopped off even if this is just 2D animation, you may have that sense of throwing up. Everything is just so gory so much so the blood even stains the ‘camera’ from the viewers’ point of view. But yes, that is the horrible effects of war and I guess they’re purposely done for realism. Hey, you’re not going to see people being killed nicely, right? And what the heck is being killed nicely? Does that even exist? Another gripe that I have with this series is the darkness. My estimation that nearly half of each episode there will be dark scenes such as the deep dungeon or even the rainy storm. It is so pitch black that you can’t really see anything. I had to strain my eye each time, thinking that I would miss something important. I thought I was going to blame my hardware problem but this wasn’t so as after turning up the brightness and contrast levels, it just feels too dark.

The irony that had my eyebrows raised is the reason for going to war. Whatever they may be, trying to save the world by killing off others and fighting doesn’t seem convincing enough. It’s just the same like killing off all those that opposes you and all that is left are those who agree and are on your side. And yes, the effects of war are definitely that will affect the land of the people, who are the ones who really suffer. So why can’t we just sit down and have a nice talk to iron out our differences? Why must we get violent and spill blood to show our might and who is right? Is it because it is our deep and dark human nature? Simply, it’s because we can. Just think about it. Why do men still dare cheat on their wives knowing well the consequences and even if they get caught in the end? Because they can. So it’s true though how dreadful it is, as long as difference in nations, race, religion and ideals exist, war is unavoidable. I guess it beats destroying the whole damn world so that we can start from scratch again.

Jun Fukuyama excels in his role as Ryner. I guess he really does fit the character as you’d be amuse with his different kind of moods whether be it serious, rebutting or joking. After voicing various roles like Lelouch in Code Geass, Lawrence in Spice And Wolf and Watanuki in xxxHolic, I feel that there is no one else suitable in playing Ryner but him. Ayahi Takagaki as Ferris (Mikako in Sora No Otoshimono, Noe in True Tears) is also befitting of her character especially her usual deadpan voice, slightly dramatic tone when making up stories about Ryner’s wild beast and the all-omniscient expert on dango. Daisuke Ono as Sion (Sebastian in Kuroshitsuji, Koizumi in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu) is also appropriate for the hero king seeing he sounds better when using his calm and gentle voice. Other casts include Fuyuka Oura as Kiefer (Hiro in Kaibutsu Oujo, Ren in To Love-Ru series), Mikako Takahashi as Noa (Rushuna in Grenadier), Saki Fujita as Milk (Ao in Yozakura Quartet), Tomokazu Sugita as Lucile (Gintoki in Ginatama), Tomosa Murata as Iris, Atsushi Imaruoka as Claugh (Dallas in Baccano), Miyuki Sawashiro as Calne (Shinku in Rozen Maiden), Junichi Suwabe as Miran (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Takahiro Sakurai as Tiir (Suzaku in Code Geass), Mariya Ise as Kuu (Aruka in Needless), Takuma Terashima as Sui (Arima in Princess Lover) and Kazuya Nakai as Refal (Zoro in One Piece). On a trivial note, some of the next episode preview which is narrated by Ryner is amusing because it really reflects that he prefers to nap rather than going through all those ‘troublesome’ and ‘bothersome’ deeds.

War is really one big messy affair. It is good if we learn from it and move forward. But often it doesn’t and what makes it sadder that many of them are avoidable if people just come to understand each other a little bit more and show some tolerance. That’s why heroes are made, the antagonist becomes the scapegoat and history rewritten. With all the recent uprising and rebellion of the people towards those holding high power, it’s up to you to think whether it is a good or bad thing in the overall picture. But really, how do we put a stop to wars once and for all? Do we need to find that special Heroes Relic or the rise of a special saviour-cum-hero that will bring salvation to the land? Ah, screw all that. Sounds too complicated after all. Aha! Maybe we need more nap time so that we can sleep over it and yes, dangos.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

September 2, 2011

IT REALLY HAPPENED! I can’t believe it either! When the traumatic 9.0 earthquake happened right off the coast of Sendai, Japan back on 11th March 2011, I read from comments of many viewers who had watched Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 to be, how do you put it, fateful premonition. Never in anybody’s right mind they would really have predicted such a tremor, which is ranked fourth most disastrous of earthquakes recorded in the history of mankind, to have happened as close as this. Plus, this anime was produced back in the middle of year 2009. That is only less than 2 years! Is this a sign about that Nostradamus thingy and that end-of-the-world-cum-apocalypse in 2012? I hope not.

At the start of each episode of this fictitious series, there is even a disclaimer saying how a lot (and I mean tremendous amount as claimed) of research and verification that has been put into the surrounding circumstance of the massive earthquake. In addition, for realism, many simulators were thought of to create this story though circumstances may differ in the real thing. Very ironic, isn’t it? All I can say is, their amount of research was somewhat quite accurate. Just that nobody predicted it would happen this soon. And when I think about ‘may differ in the real thing’, I thought they were bloody damn right. Except in the real thing, it was much worse. Very much worse. I really pity and sympathize with all those who were affected by the quake.

Thus it took me a massive earthquake and one that hit the homeland of anime and manga that got me the initiative to watch this story. Initially I didn’t want to watch some disaster anime mainly because it involves a lot of drama and human emotion. It wasn’t my kind of cup of tea. If I was hoping for some comic relief, I deserved to be slapped. So I was curious to see how this series would turn out eventually. What would man do in the face of such disaster? I’m sure we’ve read all the articles and conducted practice drills but when the real deal happens, it’s a totally different story. Everything is spontaneous and quick, leaving you no room to think or even breath.

Episode 1
The series begins with scenes of Tokyo being devastated by an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale covering 25km with the epicentre coming from the northern part of Tokyo Bay. Flashback to a slightly earlier period of time, middle school girl, Mirai Onozawa hates her life. She flops her test, has no dreams for her future and annoying things seems to happen to her. Like some guy falling asleep onto her while she’s taking a train. She drops by her little brother, Yuuki’s school and somehow gets involved in helping him and his teacher do gardening. Back home, mom is a busy working woman and reminds Mirai about the chores is left to do. Even so, Mirai isn’t happy that although it’s her mom’s birthday, she only got a triangular cake and not a round one as she hoped for. Life sucks. Complain, complain. Then dad comes home. Seems he isn’t that enthusiastic about mom’s birthday. Then mom comes back home. Late. The parents argue that the children are hungry so Mirai tells them off and goes back to her room. Next morning, Mirai is made to accompany Yuuki to a robot exhibition in Odaiba since summer vacation has started and she has nothing planned out. Mirai isn’t too happy upon arriving at the exhibition but gets absorbed when she realizes how fun the robots are. Her mood only to be disrupted when some impatient lady tells her she’s hogging the line. Then Yuuki suggests to go buy a flower hair accessory for mom’s birthday. A lady, Mari Kusakabe takes it first but upon realizing that the kids wanted it, gives them back. Mirai shows her attitude by not wanting it but Mari lets them have it when Yuuki mentions it’s for their mom’s birthday present. Mirai waits outside while Yuuki goes to the toilet. She gets more annoyed when a kid bumps ice cream into her pants. Then realizing how everyone else is so happy around her, she wonders if anything good will happen to her. Having had enough of it, she wishes that the world should just break. Oh dear. That wish must have been the catalyst that starts everything. Soon everything starts shaking, the ground, the buildings, the bridges. It’s an earthquake. Everything collapses in a blink of an eye. Mirai could only think of Yuuki at that point.

Episode 2
Mirai hangs on to dear life. When the quake is over, everything is at a messed. The city is turned into a warzone. People are in a dazed, scurrying to safety. Mirai heads back into the exhibition centre to search for Yuuki. She searches desperately but doesn’t find him in the toilets. Then an aftershock occurs. Mari drags Mirai away before a block crushes her. She learns Mirai is searching for Yuuki and boy does Mirai sound very guilty of letting him go alone. She decides to help her look for him. They ask other survivors as they try to help their best but nothing conclusive. Mirai becomes reckless by running across a breaking staircase and jumping across a broken stairway! She could’ve been crushed if Mari didn’t act swiftly. They come across a few survivors pulling out a kid. Mirai fears the worse when another aftermath shakes the building. After they recover, unfortunately it isn’t Yuuki. Calm Mari tries to reason with Mirai that they have to get out (the building is starting to catch fire). She must live in order to find Yuuki but this only makes Mirai more desperate. But as they rush towards the exit, Mirai remembers she asked Yuuki to buy her some juice before he went to the toilet. She takes a detour to the drinks area and hears a cry of a boy. To her relief it is Yuuki. They push aside the shelf that is pinning Yuuki down (with another lady covering him) and to her relief, the siblings embrace. They trudge outside and take shelter in a large stable structure since it is raining. They watch the news report about a massive earthquake in the Kanto region. They introduce each other and talk about each other’s families. Mari goes to get some food which is a round birthday cake for her daughter, Hina. Small aftershocks continue to rattle the land, but Mari remains positive for the kids as she tells them to get some rest.

Episode 3
Morning arrives and there is no handphone signal since the communication towers are out. The kids wake up to find Mari gone but she just went to get some food at the convenience store. Mirai gets annoyed when Yuuki asks her just about anything that pops up from his mind. They watch the news to get some updates. There are 843 casualties so far and the injured and missing are increasing. The entire area is devastated and all transportations are crippled. Mari decides to help them return him together. Mirai wonders why she is so nice since she has her own daughter to return to. She mentions that their home lies in the same direction. It might seem like a long distance, but every journey begins with a single step. So start walking! First they need to get off Odaiba, which is an artificial island. While trekking on the crowded bridge, Mari stops to help those in need. Mirai’s heel is badly bruised and sore due to her sneakers so Mari gives her some band aids. Mirai temporarily gets separated but was luckily found so Mari suggests holding hands not to get lost. Another aftershock causes the only bridge off the island to collapse. Now they’ll have to take a ferry. People are getting more annoyed, desperate and selfish as they shove their way through. Then a little stampede started as Yuuki is pulled away. Thankfully Mirai manages to grab him back. The ferry is full but the rescuer mistakes Mari and her children so he lets them go on board. Mirai learns that Mari is a single mom and her husband died so she is raising Hina alone. As the ferry starts moving away, another aftershock occurs. This time this one is huge, causing the already crumbled bridge to sink into the sea. This causes a wave effect and one of the ferries got overturned! Thank goodness they’re on the other ferry. Mirai could feel Mari’s shaking hands. Mari apologizes for putting them in danger but Mirai thanks her.

Episode 4
They reach the main land but Mirai is experiencing stomach pains from the cake though she won’t admit it and tries to hold it in. Mari comes back with a portable toilet but she’s too embarrassed to use it. At the relief centre in the park, Mirai starts lining up to use the tent toilet. A guy cuts in her way so the man behind Mirai gets pissed off for cutting in front of a kid. The duo fight so Mirai flees. She can’t take it anymore and decides to use the portable toilet. Yeah, it doesn’t matter anymore, eh? Feeling much better now? However it’s like today is Mirai’s bad day because a woman accidentally spilled hot ramen on her leg, she got her toes stepped on and she dropped her emergency pack into the mud. As they rest by the park bench, Mari plans their journey to Yuuki’s school in hopes that there will be communication signal. She goes off to throw some garbage. Yuuki tries to remain positive but every word seems to piss Mirai off. She starts taking out on Yuuki by saying that their parents don’t care about them and even throws away her handphone. She crosses the line when she blames Yuuki for wanting to go to the exhibition in the first place. This hurts Yuuki badly as he runs away in tears. Now she has to go find him. So hard to find him alive and reunited and now this. Another aftershock rocks the place. Mirai finally finds him but Yuuki doesn’t want to go with her. He plans to climb Tokyo Tower to see if their home is alright. Yuuki then starts crying uncontrollably as he is worried if daddy and mommy are still alive. This attracts a few good Samaritans as they try to help them out. Once Yuuki calms down, the siblings are on good terms again as Mirai wishes that they return quickly to give mommy her present. However Tokyo Tower’s base becomes unstable and it starts to collapse towards their direction. Run for your life! A flying debris threatens to smash onto Mirai but Yuuki pushes her out of harm’s way. Mirai starts getting paranoid upon seeing Yuuki’s lifeless body. But thankfully, he is still breathing and has just got a little bump on his head. Man, the tip of the tower top was just inches away from them. Lucky! They reunite with worried Mari as they begin their walking journey.

Episode 5
The next shelter they arrive happens to be Mirai’s school. Mirai remembers how her mom tripped and bruised her knee on her entrance ceremony. Mirai decides to take Yuuki to see the beautiful stained glass in the hall but what greets them are rows of corpses and loved ones wailing beside them. Then Mirai sees her classmate Megu crying besides her mom’s body. She also becomes depressed. A kind old man, Furuichi leads the trio to a fountain for a cooler place to rest. A series of aftershocks further demoralizes the already downtrodden people. Furuichi’s wife, Misako seems to be quite nice to Mirai and Yuuki. However she seems to have that concern look at them and even calling them Chi and Kou. Later they find out that the old couple’s grandchildren died yesterday during the earthquake. After having their dinner, Mirai sees Kou continue to volunteer and helping the rest. She breaks into tears that he is suffering and that it must have been very hard for him. Furuichi mentions how he invited his grandchildren who are slightly older than them, here when this sad event happened. He feels that he should’ve been the one to have died because he wanted the young ones to live. The trio huddle together for the night. Mirai feels sad she can’t do anything for Megu then but knows that there are things that she can do now.

Episode 6
Morning comes as Mirai changes into shoes and they continue their journey. Along the way, they hear news of Mari’s hometown, Sangenjaya in which fire has spread throughout the train station though her home is far from it. Mari gets worried and tries to call via handphone but it doesn’t connect. Then she tries a fixed line but it isn’t working either. The kids tell her to leave them as it will be faster for her to reach Hina. However Mari isn’t planning on abandoning them. She takes them to her office nearby where she works. After another slight aftershock, Mari tries to office phone but still to no avail. Mari becomes worried sick that she collapses. The kids hear somebody coming in so they went into hiding. Seems like a girl wearing safety helmet and holding a bat. When she sees the ‘corpse’ on the ground, she and Mirai scare each other that the former starts swinging her bat in all directions before losing her balance. Mari dreams of Hina and her mom being engulfed by flames back in their home. When she wakes up, she finds herself by the side of that girl, Aya, her colleague. Looks like the little ones have stepped outside for a while. As they chat, they hear further news about Sangenjaya. Mari gets worried so Aya says to leave the kids to her and get home to Hina. Then another aftershock nearly causes the cabinet to fall on to Mari but she gets injured on her scalp when the light tube breaks nearby. The next building block even collapses! Mari decides to go look for the kids. On the way, she remembers her biker life while riding with her husband-would-be then. Mari sees Mirai and Yuuki pushing a bike as they think this will help Mari reach Hina faster. However Mari doesn’t wish to ride it and wants them to return it since the 3 of them can’t ride on it together to go home. Mari returns to her office to retrieve her family photo before continuing their journey. Aya tells them to take care as she will be staying here for a while since it’s much safer than her rundown apartment (she lives alone). Mirai wonders if Hina will be okay so Mari assures her that she is because her mom is with her.

Episode 7
While walking through the devastated city, they witness a team of rescuers using robots to locate survivors. They meet a boy, Kento Nonomiya who is sketching the robots. Yuuki and Kento easily click because they both love robots. When Mirai learns that Kento is the same age as her and his obsession-cum-knowledge with robots, she calls him a robot otaku/nerd. The trio continue their walk when Yuuki starts feeling sick due to heatstroke. As the siblings rest, Mari goes off to get some medicine. Yuuki spots Kento chasing after the little robot so he too goes after him. Too bad Mirai too had to go after her little brother. When Yuuki catches up with him, they talk more about their fascination of robots. Mirai continues to call him robot otaku but Kento admits he is one because he loves them. He continues that without them, his parents would’ve died. Thus his dream is to become someone who will create robots. Mirai apologizes for calling him names but he is okay with that. Kento adds that though he found his family annoying, at that time he wanted them to live. Doesn’t this sound familiar, Mirai? He gives Yuuki his robot sketch, much to his happiness. The siblings return to Mari and continue their journey but it soon starts to rain. They take shelter inside the house of a kind owner. Mari falls asleep as the siblings have a nice little chat like they should have. Then Yuuki spots the little robot passing by and he decides to go out and take a look. Oh boy. Not again. Go after your little brother, girl. Yuuki touches the robot but was being told by the in-speaker not to interfere. As they’re about to leave, they see a nearby building moving and on the verge of crashing down. However Yuuki saw Kento went chasing after the robot there. They head over and to their horror see him trying to pull out the little robot that became stuck in the rubble. Though he is successful, he slips but manages to hang on by an arm. Mirai tells Yuuki to call Mari while she herself tries to pull him to safety. Kento seems to value the robot more because he wants her to pull it up rather than just drop it. I guess it was light enough so much so Mirai could toss it up with a single hand before pulling Kento up halfway. Then before the platform they’re on collapses, Kento manages to pull up Mirai. Mirai is about to reprimand him for putting them all in danger but looks like her shin is bleeding. Then the rescue team arrives and gives them a good ticking off for doing pointless stuff and getting hurt. Another round of reprimanding from Mari before Kento part ways with them. Kento promises Yuuki to tell him more about robots the next time they meet. As the trio resume their journey, Yuuki collapses for real. This time he doesn’t respond.

Episode 8
After Mari reads his pulse and feels his head for temperature, she decides to go get help and take Yuuki to hospital. Upon arrival, Mirai falls into a bad dream. In the dark hallway she sees Yuuki’s lifeless body on the stretcher. She wakes up sitting next to Mari as they await the results of Yuuki’s surgery. They observe the chaos and panic around. People are desperate and impatient. Too many injured, too little medical personnel to attend. Then the doctor comes up to them. What he said seems audible but that look on Mari’s face indicates shock and Mirai falling down to her knees, covering her face. OH NO! COULD IT BE?! YUUKI’S DEAD?! SAY IT ISN’T SO!!! Thank God. It’s like a bad dream in a bad dream because Mirai wakes up finding herself asleep in a makeshift tent after hearing calls from Yuuki. She follows the voice of a group of lively children and to her relief sees Yuuki playing football with the other kids. She scolds him for moving too much instead of resting thought Yuuki insists he is okay and the doctor said he only had intravenous. Mirai tells him about her weird dream so Yuuki teases her since she heard her sleep talking. Inside a packed room, Mari sees the update news on Sangenjaya. The fire has stopped burning. The commercial area is badly damaged and has spread to the residential areas. Though the latter wasn’t serious as many people had sought shelter in schools and parks. Mari seems to have her legal documents finished and done by a staff. Then she goes to get Mirai and Yuuki and continue their trip. Mirai can tell by Mari’s face that she has learned something on Sangenjaya. She tells them what she knows and that she has left a message for their parents too. Passing by a park, Mirai assures Yuuki that their parents are fine and probably waiting for them to come home. She’ll take them home no matter what. Now it’s Mirai’s turn to comfort Mari. She is confident that Hina and her mom are waiting for Mari. It’s touching enough to bring tears to the grown lady.

Episode 9
Mari’s pace hastens upon entering Sangenjaya. Seems the area is worse off than thought and not as what it seems as reported in the news. The buildings are not only crumbled but burnt as well. The few local survivors are getting touchy and emotional. Mari rushes to her home but couldn’t find Hina and her mom. They’re being told that there was some gasoline stand blast and sent everything flying or buried. As Mari sits outside her home in shock, Mirai blames themselves for slowing her down. If not she could’ve be with Hina by now. Mirai and Yuuki go ask around and learn that survivors are taking refuge at a nearby elementary school, which also functions as a temporary morgue. They take Mari there and the receptionist mentions that there is a pair of ladies that fit Mari’s family. Taken to the row of bodies, Mari’s fear comes true when she spots Hina and her mom among the row. Without taking off the clothes over their faces, she starts to break down. Yuuki believes that Hina is still alive and pleads to Mirai that they should go look for her. As they shout out Hina’s name, an elementary school teacher caring for a bunch of little children hears them. Mirai brings back a little surprise to Mari: Hina. Both mother and daughter happily reunite. As for grandma’s case, the teacher mentioned she left but never came back. Searching through the hospital, thankfully they find her being treated. The family is reunited once again. Grandma mentions she left to get some clothes and Mari’s late husband’s altar. Mirai and Yuuki decide to go home. However due to the lack of staff, Mari has to help treat her own mom and tells them to wait a little longer. The kids decide to go anyway. They hitch a ride on an army truck heading towards their home (Mirai’s leg was injured so it was ‘convenient’ of her to be allowed on it). Mirai leaves a goodbye note for Hina to give Mari. She thanks her for everything and that without her, they will not get this far. She hopes to visit her when everything is settled down. Surprised Mari rushes out but the truck is already gone.

Episode 10
Yuuki asks Mirai what she would do if he’s dead. She chides him off for talking about something silly but says she’ll cry to death. Then they talk about the nice things they did and the fun stuff they’ll do together from now on. Upon arrival, Yuuki rushes off himself. Mirai sees Megu who is so happy to see her that she hugged Mirai so tight. From her words, we can tell that Mirai’s mom is safe though she has been worried sick about her kids. Her dad is hospitalized for injury though it isn’t that obvious. Mirai passes by Yuuki’s school and meets his friend, Itsuki. He takes her to the shelter where her mom is but she isn’t there. Itsuki’s mom said that she just left to her home. Mirai passes the plant she helped to plant in the beginning. Then she spots Yuuki in the classroom and rushes up. She finds him staring at the board and chides him for running off. Then when Itsuki comes by, Yuuki vanishes. Oh no… Please don’t say it is… Itsuki shows her Yuuki’s drawing on the board of his family visiting Odaiba bridge. This causes tears to stream down Mirai’s cheeks. Itsuki thinks he went to the toilet and goes to search for him. Then Yuuki pops up again and they have another round of talk. Then Itsuki returns but Yuuki isn’t here again. Oh sh*t. Please, no… Mirai thinks of going to look for her mom but Itsuki takes her back to his home first. Itsuki rushes in to get some journal as Mirai spots Yuuki rushing in too. Itsuki hands Mirai a journal of the plant they planted. Then when Yuuki appears, Mirai seems annoyed that he just kept going missing. However Itsuki doesn’t see anybody else but Mirai… Oh f*ck! Then an aftershock occurs. Mirai grabs and covers for Itsuki and Yuuki. The house is split into half as Mirai sees Yuuki appearing from the outside. Then she starts to remember. Remember the truth. Back then when Yuuki was wheeled into the hospital for heatstroke, the doctors couldn’t save him. In short, he died. F*CK!!! NOOOOOO!!! Mari was devastated and that bad dream was really true! Yuuki apologizes and says that he is dead. “I see dead people…”. Sorry, my bad.

Episode 11
Mirai is in shock as she trudges her way home. Then at the park, she sees Yuuki once more. They walk home together as Mirai thinks he’s kind enough to accompany her all the way home. He replies that he wants to be with her and wants to go home together. Reaching home, Mirai calls for her mom but there is no answer. In her room, Yuuki thanks her and slowly starts vanishing. Mirai doesn’t want him to go and wants to be with him. Yuuki’s soft words seem to say that he’ll always be in her heart and loves her. Then Mirai’s mom comes in. They see each other and instantly embrace in tears. In hospital, they blame themselves for that has happened but eventually emotions get the better of them when they talked about Yuuki. A month has passed and reconstruction is slowly progressing. Mirai is still gloomy. During breakfast, Mari pays the family a visit. In Mirai’s room, she relates how it was first hard when her husband passed away but managed to get by when she watched Hina grow every day. She thinks Yuuki and Mirai are quite similar. Then she hands Mirai Yuuki’s bag and her handphone. Seems Yuuki kept it all the while when she threw it away. Connecting her handphone, she receives lots of unread mails. However one of them was from Mari. Actually it was a message from Yuuki using Mari’s handphone to leave Mirai a positive message. Mirai realized that Yuuki was in pain all the while but kept it within himself and kept going without complaining. She misses him and wants to see him and is at a lost now on what to do seeing he isn’t here. Mari hugs her as both ladies shed heart-breaking tears. After bidding Mari farewell, Mirai gives her mom her belated present that Yuuki chose. She also gives her Yuuki’s drawing of her. Another round of touching tears. Mirai narrates that everything she does reminds her of him. Though it’ll always hurt her and make her sad, she’ll tell him everything when she can’t hold those painful feelings anymore. She thanks him for being born as her little brother. Remembering all the happy times they spent together as a family, Mirai resumes her normal life. She takes care of the plant on Yuuki’s behalf now.

Hell On Earth!
It’s such a bittersweet ending. It was hard for me to hold back my tears at the end. Probably because of the real disaster itself, it magnified the pain and sorrow while I was watching this show. It never occurred to me that Yuuki would really die. There were a few signs here and there to indicate that Yuuki is probably a spirit but I was hoping that it wouldn’t really turn out so in the end. Come to think of it, after when Yuuki passed away in the hospital, there were no other people who came into contact with him. For instance, no wonder at that time Mari was looking shocked when Mirai left her a note saying that she was leaving together with Yuuki. And the soldier who let injured Mirai on the truck seems feasible now because he did mention that it was only for those who are truly hurt whereas Yuuki clearly wasn’t.

As any disaster that has plagued the land, we see the best and mainly the worse out of us humans. Often many will become selfish, inconsiderate, thinking about their own survival and do not stop to think that there are others who are also in the same boat, if not far worse. You could say that such events will bring and show the true colours of human nature. Of course there are those who are helpful by nature and these are truly a blessing. It’s understandable that the shock and destruction will cause many to be in daze and be at a lost on what to do. The real Tokyo earthquake proved that the Japanese people are not only a resilient lot, but patient, strong and calm when facing such disasters. Not even a single looting was reported (at least from what I read). So it wasn’t just all made up or because of how animes and stories portrayed Japanese people as such. You truly have to respect them for having such a strong mind-set. That’s why they can advance. I guess in many other parts of the world, if ever such disasters struck, chaos and panic only reigns. Each tossing and struggling with each other for just little the little aid they could get. But that’s just me thinking like that. Especially from the place where I come from, I wonder if people could match the same coolness that the Japanese showed. Heck, could I even be like that? Even the slightest disaster shows how reliant we are on modern technology and conveniences so much so that without them, we are thrown off our pace. How many of us can live without iPad, Facebook or even the internet and go back to basics?

As such, the earthquake has brought many lessons that one can learn. For Mirai, she has learned to move forward and get on with her life without complaints. It isn’t about getting what kind of cake for a birthday or even sulking over the kind of places you want your family to take you for vacation and compare those with your friends. It is sad that it took a tragedy and ultimately a life of her younger brother to realize the importance of her family. She is still considered lucky in a way seeing that many others and some of her friends lost even more. The journey through the aftermath sees how Mirai bonds closer with Yuuki though the time spent is regrettably short. It turns her into a better person Yuuki is always the positive and optimistic child he is. One would easily attribute that he is a young child and doesn’t seem to understand the problems from a larger perspective but I think Yuuki fully comprehends the position that everyone and the country is in. After all, his sister is already shaken by the events so you don’t need another one to worsen the situation. In this sense, Yuuki has grown up and showed much maturity for a kid his age. Mari is another strong willed lady. She may be the pillar of strength that binds the trio together at first but she too is just human, breaking down at times when she can’t help worry about her daughter and mother’s fate. If she didn’t draw that kind of strength from her husband’s death, I’m not sure if she will be able to stand strong and guide the kids back too. It’s also nice to see the other characters that they come into contact on their journey. But they just last for a single episode and don’t make any significant impact besides bringing Mirai and Yuuki closer. Though we get a short glimpse of what they are doing in the end credits in the final episode, could we say that all’s well, ends well? It’s kind of a mix feeling, doesn’t it?

As for the drawing and art, the characters may look simple and lack a lot of details but the ‘scary’ one are the details that they put into the annihilated and levelled city of Tokyo. Though they may just be drawings and sketches, but they are horrifying enough to make your heart sink and even move your tears. Especially the one in the opening credits animation. The rubbles, the wreckage, the mess and the unconceivable damage. All too surreal. They’re just black lines and shadings and yet they look so real and eerie. The opening theme by Abingdon Boys School is entitled Kimi No Uta. It is a rock piece but I don’t feel it’s really fitting the drama-filled series even if the lyrics is something like searching for a lost one (you know those kind of love songs). Surprisingly the ending theme, M/elody by Shion Tsuji is a catchy slow rock. The lyrics is something about uncertainty and moving forward. After watching each heart-breaking drama, the song somehow calms my heart and got me tapping my feet. It’s like it is portraying some hope and light at the end of turbulent times. That is what it should be about, right? On a trivial note, I noticed that the newscaster that reports on the earthquake updates happen to be just that same lady. Isn’t there any others? I don’t know. I just find that her expressions are a little bit robotic. Plus, that same lady reads the next episode preview in the form of short news updates that hardly lasts 5 seconds.

So after all, I just got to be very thankful that earthquakes or other natural disasters like volcano eruptions, tsunami and hurricanes don’t occur in my country. It also makes me feel grateful that I still have my loving family members around. I don’t really know what to do if I were to imagine myself going through all that. My heart goes out to all those in Japan. I have to admit that when this earthquake happened, my first concern was how it will affect the scheduling of animes! I know, I deserved to be kicked in the head real hard. Definitely there are more important things besides 2D animation that were just temporarily delayed. Also, the magnitude of the disaster shouldn’t make us feel weak and our existence small. Instead, it is a much needed push for us to persevere and become stronger. Perhaps the occurrence of natural disasters from time to time are to serve as wake-up calls for us humans since we have a short memory for just about remembering important things and learning from them. That’s why history keeps repeating itself often. So sometimes we shouldn’t wait for another big disaster to do something or change. It all depends on ourselves, our hearts whether we want to or not.