Shigofumi

November 27, 2011

There are certain things that we can’t say face to face to someone when we are alive. I’m sure everyone has gone through this dilemma before. So we keep those words right in our hearts till the day we die sadly without letting our intended person ever know the truth. That’s why we have letters from the departed called Shigofumi. Derived from the word “shigo” (language/words of the dead) and “fumi” (writings/letters), Basically it isn’t an ordinary letter because one can only receive it after you somebody (the sender of the letter) passes away. The best and beautiful part of all Shigofumis is that they are truthful and honest of what the sender really wanted to say. So sometimes we may not understand why we need to take so long and only until death we could say things but I guess with Shigofumi around, the deceased will have a final chance to say what they want and the receiver will finally understand what was to be said.

However Shigofumis like any other letters and postcards don’t get mailed by themselves. They need a carrier to deliver them. Enter one of the mail carriers of the afterlife, Fumika and her talking staff, Kanaka. Her job is to deliver Shigofumis to receivers and her designated area is Kamome city in Japan. Think of her character as a cross between Shinigami No Ballad and Letter Bee. She does her job with utmost dedication without complaining or fail. Whether the receiver is in the midst of big trouble or has issues accepting them, it’s not her problem because all she has to do is to deliver the mail. She sends them. You take them. End of story. What you do with it is up to you. Sighs… If we only have such dedicated postmen in real life. But that’s beside the point. So while Fumika goes round delivering her Shigofumis, she’ll meet lots and different types of people as we slowly learn her tragic and shocking past. If you like your animes that deal with the depressing and dark side of human beings, then this show should be on your watch list. I read that this series is deemed an original anime. Meaning, it is not based on any manga. However oddly enough it was serialized as a light novel a couple of years before its release as a TV anime. Yes, the novel was adapted from the TV series. Odd. Just like the show. But interesting.

Episode 1
The series gets the ball rolling with the introduction of high school kid, Shouta Machiya. He is obsessed with making his experimental rocket and the only person who takes interest in it is Asuna Ayase, who is also the girl he secretly has a crush on. Asuna then receives a call that her father is dead. Murdered. Hey, people die every day, right? One day as Shouta goes to his experimental hideout, he meets Fumika and Kanaka. Who wouldn’t be surprised to see a talking staff? Fumika has a Shigofumi from Asuna’s dad but the addressee is Asuna’s lover. Plus, if you’re hearing some mumbo-jumbo on letters from the afterlife, would you believe it? Though Kanaka puts away the Shigofumi and thinks she has mistaken Shouta as Asuna’s lover, Shouta stops her. He wants her to hold on to that letter till he officially becomes Asuna’s boyfriend. He tries calling Asuna who is in the middle of packing up with her little sister Miku. He can’t bring himself to say it except that he wants her to come watch his rocket when it is finished. Obviously a longshot but if he can finish it within that period, it’ll be okay, right? Fumika waits patiently as Shouta finishes his rocket. So why the sudden belief in Shigofumi for this kid? Apparently nobody believed him about his rocket except for Asuna. Nobody but her believed in him that his rocket will take off one day. When Shouta returns to his room, he sees the Shigofumi lying on the floor and as the curious kid, he picks it up to read it. Fumika realizes that Shigofumi is missing and fears the worst. She rushes to Shouta who is seemingly upset. He cannot believe the Shigofumi is accusing Asuna as the culprit who killed her own dad! How could a docile girl like her be killing her own father? Hard to believe! Shigofumi was one think but Asuna the killer? No way, man. That night Shouta meets Asuna at the park bench. She mentions about dropping out from school to find work to support Miku. Shouta tells her his rocket has been completed and if it successfully takes off, he wants her to go out with him. Finally a confession, eh? But she says she can’t and that’s when Fumika appears. Shouta gets pissed at the sight of her and tells Fumika off for accusing Asuna. Then as he is about to take Asuna’s hand and go away, Asuna suddenly stabs him in the heart!! OMG!!! OMFG!!! So it’s F*CKING TRUE!!! See how her face turned into an evil killer? Scary! As Shouta lies dead in his own pool of blood, Asuna slowly walks towards Fumika and Kanaka. Though Kanaka is panicky and wanting to escape, Fumika is playing it cool and mentions how living humans tend to lie.

Episode 2
Fumika asks Asuna if Shouta is her boyfriend. Her reply is that she’s been with many guys. Fumika then disappears with Kanaka. Kanaka is curious about why Asuna killed her death and the dark side of human beings but Fumika notes that it is not their job to know that nor are they here to judge others. Yeah, just deliver the Shigofumis, that’s all. Everything else is not of their concern. Asuna is seen trying to dig a hole to bury Shouta’s body. Wait a minute. She’s not serious in digging with a knife, isn’t she? Yes, she is. Desperate. Amazingly, I think she manages to dig a hole big enough to dump his body inside. However, because of Shouta’s disappearance, the local inspector Tatsumi Nojima is hot on tracking the killer’s trail. While Asuna and Miku continue to live in an orphanage, Asuna’s flashback reveals why she killed her father. Let’s say he’s a despicable person who has no shame about letting her daughter getting photograph naked by lots of men for some porn activity in exchange for scraps of paper called money. She was alright with her dull, mundane and meaningless life till daddy decided to use Miku as well because he pretty got much a good deal out of it. That’s when she snapped and stabbed him. I know we all would say he deserved it, but hey, who are we to judge others? With the inspectors hot on her tracks, Asuna decides to run away and has an image change by cutting her hair short. Inside the train, Asuna is surprised to see Fumika. She has a Shigofumi from Shouta. But Asuna sees this as an opportunity to kill her. But Fumika is quick to use Kanaka to knock Asuna over. Then Fumika pulls out her gun and tells her about dying and regrets. It was enough to wake Asuna up and receive the Shigofumi. Upon reading it, she rushes out of the train and back to Shouta’s experimental shed. In the Shigofumi, even though Shouta was killed by her, he apologized instead for never realizing her feelings and felt he was a selfish person thinking nothing but his rocket. Asuna didn’t think so because when she first say his rocket lifted off in the sky, she felt the endless sky she had never seen before unlike the bed she was forced to do sleazy activities with. A boring colourless wall. And it wasn’t the rocket that she believed in, but rather their future (something symbolic if the rocket takes off). Asuna makes preparations for the rocket blast-off following carefully the instructions left behind in Shouta’s manual. When she starts the final countdown, Nojima confronts her. Then a canvas covers the rocket and threatens to ruin the lift off so she rushes straight to cut it away with her knife. However, Nojima’s panicky rookie partner sees this as a threat and shoots her! Now it’s Asuna’s turn to lie in her own pool of blood but she’s happy because the blast-off is a success. In the aftermath, Fumika delivers a Shigofumi (from Asuna) to Miku saying that it contains the most beautiful and purest feelings in the world.

Episode 3
Tooru Kotake has this weird thinking about death. Yeah, he is asking his friends Kaname and Senkawa what it would be like to jump in front of a train. Of course you die lah! They continue this discussion but each don’t seem to take this death thing seriously. I mean, who in their sane mind would think of dying. That night when Tooru is bored playing his video game, he receives call from Kaname that Senkawa is dead. You heard that right. D-E-A-D. He committed suicide by jumping off a building. Everyone is in shock over Senkawa’s death because he never looks stressed or worried and always carefree. The reporters start hounding the school for questions and their reputation is going to take a big hit if it goes out of hand. Tooru is even called to the teacher’s room to discuss what may actually have happened since they’ve hang out together often but he too doesn’t know. He starts wondering if they’re really friends because all they every do is just hang out with each other and not knowing much about the other. Then one day suddenly Senkawa’s father enters the classroom and takes everyone hostage as he barricades the classroom. He believes that his son committed suicide from bullying (as he told the media) though he just wants to know the reason for his son’s death. Police surround outside the school as Nojima comes rushing to the scene. Particularly, his son is one of the hostages: Kaname. The class is terrified when Senkawa’s dad starts questioning and so he shifts his attention to the guy who spends the most time with Senkawa: Tooru. He mentions about the death topic they discussed the other day so dad wants him to name to culprit responsible for Senkawa’s death but Tooru himself wants to know. Suddenly the door bursts open and coming in are Fumika and Kanaka. She hands a Shigofumi from Senkawa addressed to Tooru. Daddy becomes frantic because he wants to read his son’s letter but Fumika warns him as she points her silver revolver at him. So he requests Tooru to read it out loud. In the letter, Senkawa mentioned there was no reason at all for his death. He thought about Tooru’s words and wondered what would happened if he jumped (of course you die lah! But that’s what most of us would think). Though he had no reason to die, he had no particular reason to live either. So this was just taking a different path from the usual (what the hell is so different about the path like jumping off the tracks into the train’s path as thought? Naturally death only awaits, right? You’re no Superman, no?). Daddy thinks the letter is fake but Tooru insists it is true. Just then, the SWAT team throw a flash grenade inside. The blinding light paralyzes everyone as they take Senkawa’s dad into custody, still refuse to believe everything. Tooru knew it was from Senkawa because he was his friend and wonders if he could be his friend too. A little too late, aren’t we? While Fumika is about to leave on the rooftop, Kaname stops her. He recognizes that gun she pointed out. He knows her as Fumika Mikawa, the girl who shot her father. Must be something to do with a girl lying in a comatose state with a book written by Kirameki Mikawa.

Episode 4
Fumika does another Shigofumi deliver. A thick one. Wow. What could be in it? This time to popular tennis high school girl Ran Yahiro. However she isn’t willing to receive the Shigofumi even if it was from Naoko Kaitenshi. The disturbed look on Ran’s face indicates that she must have some trouble with this person. You see, Ran lives alone with her divorced dad and the reason why a popular girl like her has no boyfriend is that, well, she’s pretty close to the club captain, Nanae Yotsugi. So close that you can smell yuri each time they’re close together. Her tennis club members are to leave for a training camp in the woods. This means the delivery area is out of Fumika’s reach. But distance and location aren’t going to stop Fumika from doing her job. Yeah, tag along. Despite attempts to hand over the Shigofumi, Ran vehemently refuses. Then we meet any Shigofumi mail carrier, Chiaki and her talking staff, Tomato. Oops sorry. It’s Matoma. Easier to remember that vegetable name, eh? By the way, this is Chiaki’s delivery area and she’s taken a keen interest in Fumika because all Shigofumi couriers do not age and Fumika is the only exception. Ran is having so much on her mind so Nanae goes to talk to her. It is revealed that her mom, Naoko left with another man when she was young, the reason why she hated every inch of her. So when she found out that she was trick, she felt she deserved what she got. Ran finally accepts the Shigofumi when Fumika pays another nightly visit. However she throws it away. Is it okay? Well, once Fumika has done her job passing the letter, it’s up to the recipient to do whatever she wants. Aren’t you curious to know what’s written in it? That’s not their job scope. Simple. But her mind is still distracted with these thoughts so much so Ran sprained her ankle during the next morning’s training session. Nanae helps nurse her but admits that she was eavesdropping back then when she received her Shigofumi. She urges her to read the Shigofumi to put an end to this issue and promises to always be by her side. While everyone is away training, the dorm catches fire. I don’t know, was the sunlight that hot? By the time the teammates spot the fire, they rush to the scene. Ran isn’t going to be some damsel in distress as she limps her way out of the fiery inferno while clutching the Shigofumi in her hands. She manages to reach to safety outside and just as the Goddess of Luck is smiling down on them, a heavy downpour soon puts out the fire. Was it Fumika? No, she notes it wasn’t her doing. In the aftermath Ran read her Shigofumi and it seems Naoko apologizes for everything and is proud of all her achievements (she secretly went to watch her tennis matches – so the Shigofumi is filled with all her winning photos and everything). With that, she buries the hatchet with her late mom.

Episode 5
Kirameki is being interviewed. Being the pretty guy he is, he loves everything beautiful and when the interviewer has the cheek to ask for any solution to cure his ugliness, he tells him “Go and die”. WTF?! Fumika and Chiaki are chasing after the same cat, Schrodinger all over the place to deliver their Shigofumi. Seems its elderly owners passed away at the same time. Isn’t that coincidence or bliss? Because of that, our courier girls are having a hard time catching it. Harder for Fumika since she’s afraid of cats. Could this be the first job that she’ll falter? No way! So how to attract it? Buy catnip! But since they don’t have real money, Chiaki actually thinks of turning invisible and stealing it! Of course Fumika isn’t going to allow it. Then a couple of sleazy guys try to hit on them but they fire back calling them unsightly names. They should learn a lesson not trying to use violence to solve matters. The girls easily overpower them and while begging for mercy, they leave their wallets as repentance. Hey, now we can buy catnip. So as they cook the catnip at the park, they attracted every cat except the one they’re looking for. Chiaki gets cheeky and blows the smell of the catnip towards Fumika till she passes out. Meanwhile Kaname continues to research on Fumika and calls all his previous classmates who know her. This leads to Natsuka Kasai. From the looks of it she once had a crush on him. Still has, though. She wonders if he still likes Fumika though Kaname says that he was rejected. Kaname learns that Fumika is hospitalized. Fumika wakes up on Chiaki’s lap and their catnip plan failed. Suddenly they see Schrodinger so it’s back to the good ol’ chase but they both got into each other’s way each time they are closing in on the cat. Fumika chases the cat outside the hospital. She becomes shocked upon seeing the comatose girl, supposedly the real Fumika. She crashes into a tree and lands on Kaname, who happened to walk by to pay a visit to the real Fumika. Funny part is that Chiaki tries to cover his eyes so that he can’t so who landed on him. It gets worse when Schrodinger lands on her so she gives Kaname to worse chiropractic massage that will last his entire lifetime. Chiaki follows Schrodinger into a building in process of being demolished. She manages to catch the cat but can she make it out in time? Apparently Fumika did some ghost-scaring tactic by taking control of the demolition machine so the poor workers think the place is haunted! In the aftermath, they realize this building is where Schrodinger’s owners once lived. Inside the Shigofumi is a key to the room. So the cat travelled back 2 hours just to be back at a place called home? Well, that’s why it’s call a home, right? Yeah, they’re like family. Schrodinger makes itself at home. Chiaki asks Fumika about her family but she just says that they’ve already ended. Kaname sees the comatose Fumika and his dad is also there. He says she has been lying there for 3 years without ever waking up. This causes Kaname to wonder who that girl he met at the rooftop was.

Episode 6
Shunsuke Morishita surfs an online message board when he chances upon a guy who calls himself Half Dead because of the incessant bullying. This bullying thing must be becoming a trend since there is a bully victim in his class too. He is Kouichi Kikukawa and is always being the target of the 3 bullies in his class. It’s bad enough that nobody stands up for him, they also become ‘accomplices’ when the bullies tell them to do stuff like throw rubbish in his bag. Morishita then realizes that this Half Dead guy is Kikukawa because of the posts he made were strikingly similar to the one that just happened today. Then he bumps into Kikukawa outside while cleaning and his suspicions are confirmed when he responses to his online moniker. Kikukawa begs for help but Morishita doesn’t want to get involve. On his way back, the bullies think Morishita is Kikukawa’s friend and wonders if he’s willing to trade places. Though Morishita denies that they’re friends, they want him to prove it by helping them out. That night, Kikukawa gets a call from Morishita to meet at the school rooftop as part of his help. However it is a trap set up by the bullies so that they could play some sick game of making him cross an iron beam between the buildings. Luckily the death game didn’t go on since the security guard was patrolling so they have to call it off and pretend that they’re from the astronomy club. Morishita thinks this case is settled but the next day, the teacher informs that Kikukawa has committed suicide! Yeah, this school’s reputation is really at stake after another student suicide. The students are given a gag order. But unlike Senkawa’s case, nobody give a damn about Kikukawa. And because of his demise, Morishita becomes the next target of the bullies. Yeah, it’s a vicious cycle. Now does he understand what it feels like to be bullied? He becomes Half Dead 2. He endures all the bullying but it becomes no fun for the bullies. Then he finds himself in a deja vu situation because the bullies now want him to walk the iron beam. At this time, Fumika appears to overwhelm the bullies because her job comes first. The Shigofumi to Morishita is from Kikukawa. But the letter is full of hatred and telling him to go die. When the bullies regain their footing, Fumika is gone. Morishita starts to panic when the bullies continue their ganging up. He spots a screwdriver and stabs one of them. The rest flee while Morishita lets loose a crazy madman scream. Fumika and Kanaka note how he has become a criminal for a scumbag even if he did it in self-defence. As humans are social creatures, they die socially but lived like animals. In the aftermath, the bully didn’t die from the stab but remains in critical condition and Morishita is picked up for questioning.

Episode 7
Haruno Kasai is made to be Kirameki’s editor and she’s pretty happy since she’s a long time big fan of his. Yes, she is Natsuka’s elder sister and she teases the latter about a particular boy she likes. Meanwhile Chiaki notices Fumika troubled. That’s because her next Shigofumi is to Kirameki, the person she shot. Fumika stops by the hospital to visit the comatose girl and reveals to Kanaka that this is her other half. Split personality? Then how come? Kaname visits Natsuka to find out more about Fumika, though it’s not about confessing to her. Disappointed? What he wants to know is the reason Fumika shot her dad and why she is lying in hospital. Their conversation is interrupted when Haruno calls to request to scan and send a map to Kirameki’s place. Kaname thinks of going there too because it would be better if he asks Kirameki directly about his daughter. Unfortunately it’s going to take some time since they got lost deciphering the map. Haruno arrives at Kirameki’s odd glass house as the eccentric author starts welcoming and showing her around the place. He mentions how he likes beautiful things. Before Haruno could pass her manuscript, Kirameki gets obsessed with her wrist and starts writing on it! However he realizes that she isn’t the one. Then Haruno requests to see his workplace but he refuses to show it to her citing excuses that it is dirty. For a guy who likes beauty, having a dirty room seems pretty ironic, eh? Kirameki turns into a child as he takes Haruno’s hand and they go dancing in the sun shower. I hope confused Haruno can still keep her sanity at the end. After Haruno takes a shower and is given a dress to wear, Fumika shows up and delivers the Shigofumi, the shocking thing is how Kirameki tosses it away without a care after reading it. That letter seems to be from a fan who killed herself after she was taken in reading Kirameki’s works. Something about the world of death, how it’s devoid of anything thus making it clean. I guess crazy people could understand each other. If not why would she jump off from a building then? More shockingly, Kirameki decides to burn this ugly letter with his beautiful lighter. This upsets Fumika as she says he has not changed at all. For the first time, we see her emotions getting the better of her as she continues to chide him for being selfish and not thinking about everyone else, the reason why his wife left, his daughter or rather daughters left. But Kirameki continues his usual screwball character as he finally recognizes Fumika. She points her gun at him. She wants him to remember how she shot him. That time, Kaname and Natsuka finally found the place and barges in. Kaname restrains Fumika from pulling the trigger, causing her to drop the gun. Though she explains that she only intended to scare Kirameki, that crazy father picks up her gun and shoots her! Oh sh*t! Is shooting a family member part of their family tradition?

Episode 8
Kaname full of rage punches Kirameki. I wonder what he has to say about his bruised face now. They lock him up in a room filled with creepy stuffed dolls. The rest are worried that Fumika is dying but thankfully being a Shigofumi courier means you’re already dead, right? Yeah, the bullet expels itself out of her body. Like no damage done, eh? Fumika starts explaining her past. When she was born, her mom a famous actress, Kirei Aizawa divorced Kirameki immediately and left for overseas and has remarried since. He was left to raise her all alone though he did it with pride and like what fathers would do. He was kind and caring, the kind that would make Fumika the happiest and proudest daughter of her father. Then one day, daddy told her it was art time (probably after he saw her horrible rendition of her loving sketch of him). That’s when the nightmare began. Kirameki used Fumika’s pure skin and body as a paper draft to write gather his ideas! Freaking crazy! I don’t know what kind of brush he used but each time he uses the strokes, Fumika was very much in pain. It’s like he’s taking out his frustrations and betrayal of her because he saw visions of Kirei in Fumika. He hated her so much and told her to disappear that this trauma caused Fumika to split into her other personality. So to avoid confusion, we’ll refer to the original shy one as Fumi (also the one in hospital) and her alter ego as Mika (the now Shigofumi courier as we know). They were each other’s friends and only friend since Fumika was never allowed outside the house till junior high. So meeting a crowd of people was a scary affair. So when Kaname confessed to Fumika then, it wasn’t that she hated him, rather she was surprised.

The flashback is interrupted when they heard a small explosion. Yes, Kirameki has gotten himself out of the room. He hid bullets inside the stuffed dolls and took out its powder to blow up the door. See how crazy and dangerous this guy is! He passes by a corridor filled with swords on one wall and guns on the other. He notices one missing and starts remembering how he was shot by Fumika. He’s going to punish her. Now Mika enters the room as the door behind her closes. She wonders if he has remembered. Kirameki becomes afraid of her and tries to throw swords and shoot guns but Mika is able to close the distance and land him a punch in his face. Looks like he will need surgery if he wants his beautiful face back. Mika chides some sense into him by saying Fumi had always loved him no matter what but it was Mika who shot him. However Fumi always felt guilt that she was the one who pulled the trigger and in her shock, fell into coma. Mika is going to kill Kirameki but the rest barges in to stop her. Haruno calms Mika down and says that they need to make Kirameki work to pay for his daughter’s medical bill (Kirameki has not released any work since Fumi’s coma but this has been covered up by the publishers and the fact that they have undergone many editors to release works in his name and place). Well, he is going to have to manage somehow even if he says he can’t do it without Fumika because Haruno will be making sure he does so. Later Kanaka hopes Fumika will not keep any secrets from her since they’re partners. Fumika visits her other self still in hospital and will wait for her when she wakes up. Kaname and Natsuka also do the same because they like her.

Episode 9
Fumika talks to her other self hoping that this therapy as suggested by Kaname would wake her up after hearing her voice. Natsuka wonders if the person Kaname confessed was to Mika since she wants to do all the things normal high school students do. Chiaki visits them and that’s when she realized Fumika’s aging phenomenon due to the fact that she’s not really dead yet. So how the heck did she get picked to be a Shigofumi courier if only dead people are qualified? Anyway Chiaki suggests taking a vacation to the southern islands. Yeah, time for some fun in the sun. But hey, don’t expect any swimsuit fanservice. Hmm… Funny, workaholic Fumika agrees. Actually, more like a working vacation as she has to deliver it there. Though their destination is an uninhabited island nearby, they stay at an inn for the night on the main island. They meet another girl, Touko Shirakawa and learn she is here to clean her ancestor’s grave situated on that uninhabited island. However she is also taking up a challenge (after watching some TV programme, I guess). She hopes by doing this, she can confess to the boy she likes. This leads to Chiaki turning into her cheek self as she pesters for the girls to express who they like. What is a girl’s night out without such confession? The funny one is Fumika because she mentions how much she likes Fumi so it’s like as though she likes herself! Narcissist!

The next day as they head to their private beach, I mean uninhabited island, Chiaki and Fumika see Shirakawa praying and cleaning at the grave. Chiaki learns that her grandpa is Saizou Kiyosumi and then it hit her. He was the guy whom Chiaki liked as seen in the beginning of this episode. However she died when their truck collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle. That was 50 years ago. Chiaki is filled with nostalgia, thinking Saizou has remarried and thus when she suggested going for a vacation, it was because she recently visited the town she grew up with but couldn’t recognize everything because it has changed. The things and people she knew were no longer around. Only she remained the same. Then she spots a Shigofumi stamp on the grave and next to Saizou’s name is Chiaki’s. Fumika reveals Saizou as the sender of the Shigofumi. But Shirakawa doesn’t recognize Chiaki’s name because Saizou never got married and that her mom was adopted by him when she lost her parents. Chiaki starts remembering the fond memories on she first met Saizou (he rescued a cat out from a tree, thus why Chiaki likes cats as opposed to Fumika) and fell in love at first sight. They started going out with each other and on that fateful night on their way back, before he could confess, tragedy struck. Tears now well up in Chiaki’s eyes because she ‘scolds’ him that he should’ve find someone else. Besides, shouldn’t he propose to a girl with a ring instead of a tombstone? Creepy but unique, eh? Hope this trend doesn’t catch on. Chiaki accepts his proposal and a ring forms on her finger. On the way back home, Shirakawa now gets the confidence to confess to the boy she likes. Don’t worry, he’s not anybody in this series we know. That will complicate matters only.

Episode 10
We have another Fumika. No, she’s not another Shigofumi courier. A young little curious girl poking a dead sparrow on the street. While her mom pays a visit to her sister and other Desperate Housewives (what else to do but gossip?), little Fumika meets her cousin Takehiko who doesn’t know what to draw. She suggests going outside. After the ladies left the house in charge to him, Takehiko takes Fumika out for something to eat since her stomach is growling. We learn that Takehiko works as a game designer but suddenly quit recently. Then after taking her to the video game arcade, he takes Fumika to the movies (it was weird the audience laughing along with the hero in the end), Takehiko reflects his current depressive state: The diagnosed him with an incurable cancer. Outside, they bump into a couple of ruffians. But it’s partly Takehiko’s fault for challenging them so he gets beaten up and realizes the weakling he is. Though the security chases them off, they arrest him thinking that he is kidnapping the child. He is taken for interrogation as Fumika waits outside playing her handheld console. She hears a woman crying and follows it. Well Fumika, meet Fumika. The little one thought the courier girl was being the baddie (she was just delivering the usual Shigofumi) but after learning they share the same name, she casts away her doubt. The inspector manages to confirm Takehiko isn’t some abductor when he calls his game publishing company. Takehiko’s colleague wants to speak to him and about his sudden resignation but he couldn’t say anything so he is disappointed (because it put a damper on a game project they’ve been working on) and hangs up.

After being released, he calls his mom who thinks of getting him a normal job and lied about his unemployment status to dad. Takehiko gets upset that the views of society are more important and that all she ever wanted was a normal child to do normal things in a normal society and disliked the game and drawing otaku he is. As Takehiko drives Fumika back, the car goes out of battery. I don’t know what he’s thinking but he plans to leave Fumika to wait all alone in the car while he walks to get help. Of course Fumika hates being alone and follows him. Remember, you should never leave a child alone in the car! Then Fumika takes out her handheld console and Takehiko recognizes this is the game he helped designed. This leads him to remember the happy days of how he loved drawing and joined the game industry because he wanted to draw. All he wanted was to make people happy with his drawings and for his parents to be happy with what he drew. Then suddenly an oncoming truck threatens to smash into Fumika. Takehiko quickly dives to push her out of harm’s way and gets rammed instead. I don’t know why the heck the truck is speeding on a deserted road but shouldn’t Takehiko and Fumika at least know that a vehicle is approaching. They could and should’ve tell, right? Unless they’re too deep in their thoughts. In the aftermath, everyone attends Takehiko’s funeral and they realize the kind and gentle person he is (they realize he was suffering from cancer). Fumika also attends the funeral but doesn’t understand the magnitude of Takehiko’s demise and thinks he’s sleeping. She even pokes his face in the casket! Then outside she continues playing her handheld console and that’s when Shigofumi Fumika appears. She hands little Fumika a Shigofumi from Takehiko as it reveals to be a sketch of her. She asks what it means to be dead so the reply she got was being dead just means that. Elsewhere, the comatose Fumi finally opens her eyes.

Episode 11
She is rather confused and in a daze as she comes into Kaname and Natsuka, who are shocked to see her awake. As they talk to her, they realize that she hasn’t gotten her memories back yet (like her abusive dad or Kaname’s confession). Chiaki talks to Mika about Fumi’s awakening so Mika plans to give her gun as Shigofumi to her so that she can shoot her. Say what? She knows she can’t die, right? Well, this is a test to see if Fumi accepts her. If not, Mika dies. Chiaki goes to warn the rest about Mika’s intention and thinks she’s doing it to atone for her sins of putting Fumi into deep sleep. Mika later visits the hospital is surprised to see Fumi not in her bed so Kaname lies by saying that she has been transferred elsewhere for some tests and will be back in a week. In reality, she is temporarily staying at Natsuka’s house as her family welcomes her with open arms. This is part of their plan to prevent both of them from meeting though they’re just delaying the inevitable. Natsuka wonders what would happen to Mika so Haruno thinks they will become as one. One inside the other, that is. Next day, Kaname and Natsuka continue to jog Fumi’s memories especially about a time Kaname came rushing to rescue her from a menacing dog but she chased it away herself instead. Kaname describes she has a face of a victorious boy. As Mika continues her Shigofumi duties, Kanaka tries to persuade her to continue as a Shigofumi courier and would love to continue as her partner but Mika thinks this is necessary as her punishment. Later when Fumi is alone, she spots a book from Kirameki and that’s when all the horrible memories start flowing back. She goes crazy and runs out of the house. So when Natsuka finds out about it from Kanaka, she goes all out to find her. Meanwhile Chiaki visits a woman, Lisala in hopes of finding a law and ruling that will save and accept Fumika’s existence. Fumi arrives at the shrine and sees Mika and recognizes her. Fumi becomes more shock when Mika reveals she was the one who actually shoot Kirameki. She hands over her gun for her to shoot. What can you conclude after hearing a single gunshot? Shortly, Natsuka finds Fumi as the latter lies about not meeting anyone and just going for a walk while hiding the gun behind her back. Lastly, Fumi meets Nojima and wishes to make an accusation towards her father. She says she’s going to shoot this time.

Episode 12
Fumi spills everything about her father’s abuse. Natsuka learns she is doing this because if she didn’t, she can’t move forward. Soon Fumi is enrolled in Kaname’s class but everyone starts whispering and taking sneaky shots of her (because she’s the daughter of a famous author) and this spooks her out very much. While Kanaka is having a hard time getting a new partner, Matoma also claims Chiaki is burnt out since she has found a way to save Mika but now she’s gone. The media frenzy over Kirameki’s abuse daughter gets out of hand as they hound Natsuka’s household for answers. Kirameki has to stay secretly and temporarily at a hotel as Haruno watches him. The publishers are thinking of a way to deal with this problem so when they decide to ditch him, Haruno says that she will have Kirameki publish his book. That’s because she feels they are ‘accomplices’ during his ‘absence’ they made money out of it too. You can’t just abandon ship when everything’s going bad, right? While waiting for Fumi, Natsuka talks to Kaname and thinks that he likes Mika, the reason he’s being kind to Fumi. He denies so Natsuka finally manages to sum up her courage to tell him that she likes him. Fumi of course eavesdropping right at the corner and walking away by herself. Back home when Natsuka asks Fumi about meeting Mika at the shrine, she knew she is blatantly lying when Fumi believes it is her imagination. Several days later, Fumi accompanied by Nojima meets Kirei who just arrived from Italy at the airport. They are happy to see each other as Kirei thinks she can surpass Kirameki and be more beautiful. However Kirei doesn’t want to claim responsibility for Fumi. She wants to be a woman, not a mother. Fumi is devastated to hear this and all the more, Kirei acts as though she has no care in all the world for her and goes frolic with her lover. So she got married just to experience the so called woman’s joy?! She’s as irresponsible as Kirameki. Fumi goes crazy upon hearing camera clicks (those people like as though it’s a big deal seeing a famous actress and her daughter reuniting) and runs away.

Nojima calls Kaname to tell him what happened so he goes over to Natsuka’s house. Since Fumi is not there, he can only conclude that she is at her dad’s place. Natsuka refuses to come along seeing how Fumi lied to her but after getting a pep talk from Kanaka, it doesn’t matter anymore because she’s her friend. Fumi is right at Kirameki’s house and plans to shoot herself with the gun. However Mika comes in and is disappointed she did not change and is still weak. Flashback reveals that Fumi didn’t pull the trigger but Mika helped her do so. Mika feels that Fumi is trying to run away again so before Fumi can slap her, Mika punches her! Oww! Not just 1 punch, but many punches! Fumi gets upset that Mika always steal her chances and never waited for her till she gets her courage to do something. She gives the gun back to Mika and challenges her to shoot her so they can both disappear. Since she can’t, Fumi further accuses that despite all that hypocrisy of wanting to atone her sins, she is the one who wants to make friends and do other normal stuffs. A shouting match begins with Mika admitting she wanted to do all that too. Mika also thinks how she herself is similar to Shigofumi. Something that cannot exist and be sent in reality. She thanks Fumi for creating her or else she was like a personality that didn’t exist. Both girls start crying loudly but it’s a good sign that they’ve made up. Yeah, they should smile often like that. Kaname, Natsuka, Kanaka and Chiaki arrive but are relieved that they need not do anything because the issue has been resolved. As we see a montage of the characters going on with their daily lives, Mika and Kanaka continue to go about their Shigofumi job and Fumi continuing her school days. Fumi vows never to let Mika to return into her body.

Episode 13 (OVA)
There is an OVA episode dubbed the 13th episode that you can get on the DVD. It takes place after the TV series ended. It begins with a desperate father trying to rob a bank to pay for her daughter’s surgery. But when Mika arrives to hand him a Shigofumi from her just departed daughter, he breaks down and gives himself up. Sad, but that’s life. Back in school, Kaname and Natsuka are pondering about the recent curse of Kikukawa. It’s like that kid is back with a vengeance and there are multiple Shigofumis sent. They think this is fake and not possible but when something big like curse writings on the world and field appear, do you think the students can maintain their rationale? Fumi continues to suffer as a bully victim though. Like getting injured with tacks in her shoes. However a girl named Suzune Shinozaki helps her out despite warnings from her pals not to get involved with her. Then those bullies who bullied Kikukawa and Morishita get a taste of their own medicine as one of them receives a Shigofumi. Though scared, they plan to meet up as instructed in it to confirm if it’s a prank. The odd part was that the Shigofumi is computer printed. Shouldn’t it be handwritten? Kaname overheard this and tells this to his pals. He, Natsuka and Fumi visit Morishita working in some office. Morishita recognizes Fumi as they talk about Shigofumis. He mentions that Kikukawa’s sister had come to see him before after his death but he lied about the contents of the Shigofumi since it was filled with hatred. To Fumi’s surprise, Kikukawa’s sister is Suzune. Small world, eh? They had a different surname because their parents are divorced.

Back home, Suzune recalls about her parent’s bitter divorce because daddy couldn’t tolerate mommy for having an affair and giving birth to a child that wasn’t his. Due to circumstances, Suzune couldn’t live together with her brother and after learning of her brother’s death, she became furious and started sending multiple fake Shigofumis. The bullies arrive at the rooftop but they are jumpy at just the slightest sound. Till Matoma appears, they really freak out and run for their lives. Suzune waits at another part of the building to trap the bullies but she was greeted by a Shigofumi courier. She hands over a Shigofumi to Suzune from Kikukawa and its contents warn her not to do anything stupid. Suzune reflects on her actions that won’t make her brother proud when Fumika and Kanaka appear. Urm… Two Shigofumi couriers? Well, as Kanaka pointed out, one of them is fake. The earlier one turns out to be Fumi in disguise. The reason why she did this was because she didn’t want to go through the same burden as she did. When Fumi started her revenge against her father and reported him, instead her plan backfired and bit her back. That’s why now she is repenting in a prison called school. Thus she did this to save her from all this trouble. As for Mika, she’s here because Chiaki has requested her to retrieve her clothes. Yeah, she’s so drunk and out (seems she likes to hang out in the hotel room where Fumi is currently staying on her own). Otherwise, how would Fumi have gotten those cool Shigofumi courier clothes? Of course, Kanaka knows that Mika has another reason why she came. Make a good guess. As for the bullies, they are truly scared and repentant, believing that Kikukawa really did curse them. I guess they learned their lesson after all. In the aftermath, Fumi and Suzune continue to be great friends.

Dead People Don’t Talk…
I’m glad I made the right choice in watching this series. The overall feel of the show has that gloomy and depressing feeling though the ending can be said to be satisfying because both the Fumikas have made up. I just felt that the show should have more other side stories of other characters receiving the Shigofumi because I personally feel that it would be better if we get to see a variety of different stories and backgrounds. Thus I feel that with this series being already too short, after a few stories that introduce us the concept of Shigofumi, the story shifts to that of Fumika’s dark past and how she is to deal with it if she is to continue existing. The concept of Shigofumi is interesting seeing that it is a tool that is neither bad nor good but just a communication tool to tell what one really wants to say before he/she goes away forever. It is how we humans use it whether it is for positive or negative purposes, it all boils down to the truthful words that we want to say. Even if you can’t put them in words, pictures would suffice. See how flexible it is? But I’m just thinking why they are just restricted to 1 Shigofumi and to only 1 person. What happens if you have more than 1 loved ones to say? Perhaps it’s a way to make you think hard on to whom you want to reach those words so that you won’t waste your only valuable chance.

The most interesting characters have got to be the interaction between Fumika (the courier girl) and Kanaka. There is never a dull moment when these 2 are together even if things get tense. While Fumika puts on a deadpan serious voice and expression in 95% of the scenes (oh by the way, Fumika has her cute side too: When she is afraid of cats), Kanaka is totally the opposite as she is a lively cheeky staff always thinking that she wants to be human. But the ironic part is that even if this staff (and all others) are actually non-living organisms, why the need to become human even if they badmouth homo sapiens about their dark habits? As I remember Kanaka once said, “So that I can lie too!”. Oh yes. You got to love some of the lines and words she says. Another oddity about the staffs being treated as humans is that during the vacation trip at the southern islands, the guys and girls room are separated. So it’s kinda odd to see Kaname and Matoma sleeping together with nothing happening. True, they should treat their staffs with utmost care and like humans since they are their partners but at times, Fumika just loves using Kanaka as a weapon hitting things, much to Kanaka’s dismay. But it isn’t just Kanaka who is cracking all the wise lines and sometimes surprisingly from Fumika too, though in her usual deadpan voice. For instance, she and Chiaki were talking about Shigofumi couriers never aging. So Fumika said that because of her unique ability to age, she gets to grow into a beautiful sexy body while Chiaki will be stuck in her flat-chest one forever. Haha! Beside the little chatter, it’s also nice to pay heed to the words they say about us humans. Honest, true, in-your-face comments that make you go think that we are indeed the lowest and worse kind of creatures to walk the face of the planet. But that is what makes us humans. The ugly side of human nature tend to make us lie and our selfish thoughts sometimes not only hurt others but ourselves as well.

Kirameki is one creepy character. You can never understand the way he thinks. He is just crazy and sometimes you just think that he deserves to get shot. But he isn’t as bad as Kirei who boldly exerts that she doesn’t want to shoulder responsibility at all. One day, this will all bite back to her but that’s another story. Even if Kirameki has a few (okay, maybe lots of) screws loose in his head, he isn’t that totally bad. At least for the early part in Fumika’s life, he does take care of her well and for the part of being bumming around experiencing writer’s block, all he needs is someone to put his/her foot down so that he can start to get cracking. Haruno is a good person for that job. As for Kaname and Natsuka, I wonder if he would answer to her feelings since there is nothing more after her confession. Or is he still gunning for Fumika? Chiaki is also another amusing girl. But that’s only when she turns on her cheeky mode. Sometimes it’s ironic to see her drink liquor because although she looks like a child, she is actually over 50 years old. The part she went to request for Lisala’s help made the latter’s role rather redundant. I thought she would play an important role as the series reaches a climax but unfortunately she was forgettable enough to annoy me to think what the hell the producers put her there for if she’s not going to make any significant impact.

There are some parts which I didn’t comprehend after thinking too much. Maybe it’s because of just that. But I would like to know more about it if possible. For example, if Shigofumi couriers can only be of those who are dead, how the heck did Fumika become one if she isn’t fully dead? Does being half dead count? I’m sure the council at the Shigo world aren’t that dumb. What happens to the Shigofumi when it goes undelivered? What happens if the courier fails to deliver it to the recipient? Then there’s that field in the Shigo world filled with staffs sticking out like as though it’s some kind of maize field. Is this the place a Shigofumi courier can come and pick any staff he/she likes and dump it back if it is found not to one’s liking? Then about Chiaki’s lover. If she received the Shigofumi means he just departed from this world, right? But the way it feels and played out seems like he has died quite some time. But then again, I could be wrong. And what about the ruling that Chiaki has found out that allowed Fumika’s existence? It could be interesting if we are told what it is but since we’re not, again it felt like this part of her going through the trouble of researching all so useless. It’s as good as leaving this part out. That’s because if every split personality is allowed to co-exist in reality, imagine how many imaginary friends will come to being if such a case happens. That’s why it is odd when Mika loves Fumi which is so much like loving herself in the eyes of others.

When I first heard the opening theme, I went “Oh God, don’t tell me this is Ali Project”. Yes, it is them alright. You can’t run away from their trademark naughty gothic tunes so much so I thought they may have reused the same tune in the other songs I have heard them sung in other animes as well. So if you like their kind of music, be sure to check out Kotodama as the opening theme for this series. The ending theme is a slow ballad called Chain by Snow. The lyrics are filled with sadness with the fact that the singer could no longer feel and touch her lover one day but at the same time filled with hope that she would be able to do so. Kana Ueda was unrecognizable when she as she did the voice of Mika. Probably I was so used to her role as Mikan in Gakuen Alice and Rin in Fate/Stay Night that it didn’t occur to me that it was her in this role. Okay, so I don’t hear her voice very often. Yuki Matsuoka (Orihime in Bleach) definitely suits her role as the lively Kanaka. One thing for sure, I won’t mind if this staff doesn’t stop blabbing! Other seiyuus include Eri Sendai as Fumi (Kuan in Happy Seven), Masumi Asano as Chiaki (Hakufu in Ikkitousen series), Masayuki Katou as Matoma (Kiyomasa Senji in Deadman Wonderland), Takuma Terashima as Kaname (Teppei in Princess Lover), Saeko Chiba as Natsuka (Natsuki in Mai-HiME), Rikiya Koyama as Kirameki (Kogarashi in Kamen No Maid Guy) and Fumiko Orikasa as Haruno (Rukia in Bleach).

One of the good things about this series is that we see the true side of human beings. You can learn a lot from our shocking behaviour. Mostly we tend to hide our true feelings behind a facade so that’s why when you find out a person isn’t supposed to be what he/she is, it is truly a shocking and eye opening experience. Different people have different reaction to the same thing. Notice how Fumika always repeat the same lines while delivering the Shigofumi to the recipient? Some express gratitude while some scoff it off as some garbage. The Shigofumi may not be exactly like a life or death thingy but it brings out the best and worst in humans. It got me thinking what I should put down if I were ever to write a Shigofumi. To whom should I address it to? Can’t say it now. I guess there are some things that you would only know after you die.

Fractale

November 26, 2011

Fancy the utopian life? The ultimate luxurious lifestyle that you’ve always dreamed of is now attainable. All your utmost and deepest desires will be fulfilled while living out the lifestyle you have always wanted. This is true freedom. This is true living. This is where your dream is your reality. Folks, welcome to the world of Fractale. Seems like a far-fetched idea, eh? But then again, it’s not wrong to dream, right?

The setting is in a distant futuristic world. But that term is just relative if you’re living your dream world. Many people have gained the ultimate way of living through a system known as Fractale. A system that ensures mankind’s stability and prosperity throughout the ages. All you need to have is just a terminal inserted in your head to enjoy the benefits and blessings of this system. I’m not sure if the human population has dwindled or not but it seems in addition to the humans, there are holographic artificial intelligence creatures called Doppels. They take a life form of their own and have their own thoughts, feelings and can act independently. Whether it is some trader on the street or friends or even substitutes for your parents, Doppels have become part of life for those using the Fractale system. So does this system really bring happiness to mankind as it seems?

Clain Necran is one of the many users of Fractale. His Doppel parents are very odd looking creatures. Aliens? Unlike many other residents, Clain prefers to live in an old fashion house instead of a mobile one (rational of opting the latter is to experience true freedom and not being ‘tied down’). Plus, he loves anything old and before the Fractale system era. I guess with too much wired and advance technology, young kids like Clain have taken an uncanny interest in rare items. Remember the time when handphones used to be such big bulky items? There were no iPhones or iPads for your modern conveniences. Yeah, those were the good ol’ days. Heck, for those of us old enough, do you still remember what a typewriter is? Thank God I still do.

Episode 1
Clain must be in his rebellious age as he decides to head to the flea market to see if he can get any old junk rather than eating with them. Do Doppels really eat? Along the way, he ponders the weird lyrics of the Day Star Song because instead of wishing upon it, you offer your wish to it. Clain got some data disk at the market but soon it turns into a ghost town when the Data Security turns up. Clain listens to the disk in hopes it’s some music data but it turns out to be a textbook-like history of the Fractale system. It has several trillion processors? Woah. Can today’s technology match that? Clain seems to be content with this boring life. The usual 5 o’clock prayer in which everyone has to face to the direction of the temple and not blink. But appearing before Clain’s eyes is a priestess, Phryne riding a little glider being chased by goons in a mini blimp. Clain chases them (unbelievably his bicycle can match the high speed chase of the aircrafts). But he trips and tumbles. His eyes met with Phryne. He blushes. She jumps off her glider. SHE WHAT?! Sorry Clain, she can’t fly. He climbs down the cliff to see her unconscious and they hide in a little cave before the pursuers gave up. Clain brings Phryne back to his house and he has a tough time explaining to his Doppel parents about the situation. Have you ever seen a tomboy priestess in your life? Well, Phryne is one. Without shame, she takes off her clothes right in front of Clain! Don’t worry, she’s not getting horny because she wants him to apply ointment for her wound on her back. Sheesh. Asking a guy to do it. But then again, who else is around?

Phryne sees a hologram album of Clain when he was a baby and a time when he had real parents. She thinks he treasures the memories and times with his parents but he says it’s rather he is interested in the antique device. Phryne starts crying because he doesn’t smile like that anymore but soon pulls his mouth to make him understand what she means. She notes that he is the one and starts singing the Day Star Song. She then gives him a little amulet as a charm to protect his smile. Then the pursuers came knocking on their door. Clain could tell them because of their horrible disguise and excuse. They’re so dumb no wonder they couldn’t find Phryne when she dropped right off the cliff right on to the edge. Couldn’t her blue outfit be easily spotted against the backdrop? Yeah, they tried as staff from the hospital and travellers seeing their sick mother but even a normal person can tell they’re just trying too hard. Anyway the goons, led by obnoxious loudmouth loli Enri and her underlings Butcher and Takami, storm into the house to search for Phryne. Enri spots Phryne’s dress and thinks Clain has done something perverted on her. They ‘disinfect’ him by throwing out of his own house. But they soon leave seeing that they couldn’t find their target. Their blimp experiences problems after flying off thanks to cheeky Phryne ‘borrowed’ a screw from it. A little missing part can cause such a problem? Clain brings Phryne to his secret hideout, a ruined chapel supposedly where radio waves can’t reach. Phryne is talking about the moon light that gives her peace but that kid just doze off. At least it’s not as bad falling asleep when a girl is confessing to you. I’m not saying Phryne is but just saying… He wakes up at the break of dawn to find Phryne missing. He goes back home to analyze the amulet she gave and suddenly a red haired girl appears.

Episode 2
That energetic and happy girl is Nessa. Clain thinks she is a Doppel but to his surprise he can touch and feel her. Nessa is one quirky girl because she bluntly says she loves love and hates hate. Erm… Yeah, I figured that one out too. Though she has no memories prior whatsoever, she starts singing the Day Star Song and goes exploring the house. What would Clain’s parents say after yet another girl in the house? They advice him to give her back since she isn’t human. Clain peddles Nessa to the main town. She is rather playful causing Clain little worries. Like running off on her own into a building. Clain has a hard time chasing her down because since she has this ability to pop up just about anywhere. So when Clain catches up at the top of the building. She’s already down there. Boy, he’s going to need lots of strength to keep up with her. See how technological conveniences have made us unfit? Nessa then causes havoc with those freedom-living citizens at a campsite because her mere touch causes their machine to go haywire. Now they are gunning for Clain’s head. Clain thinks of leaving Nessa with Security but she wants to be with him because her home is wherever he is since he is the one who summoned her. But Clain can’t touch Nessa anymore so he leaves her with Security and goes off. He finds his bicycle dismantled courtesy of Enri and her goons. Revenge? WTF?! They bring him to Enri’s brother, Sunda Granitz. He is interested on the one causing an uproar at the campsite but since Clain doesn’t know any much, he has him leave, much to Enri’s chagrin. Sunda parts with words to Clain that though they leave work and stuff to Doppels, but something you can feel on your skin will have a totally different impression. Clain goes home to do research on Doppels like Nessa. He is shocked to learn they are sold on the black market as sex toys. Uh? What? Later Clain’s parents talk to him about his recent change in behaviour and the importance of trust in families. Well, when you have strange looking Doppels for parents… Yeah, just turn them off. See how convenient if you don’t want your parents to lecture you? Every kid wished they could do this. But Clain still feels bothered. Or rather lonely. So he runs the whole day till he tires out. Lying flat on the ground, then the reminder for the 8 o’clock prayer. He dreads that it’s just some excuse to collect data. Suddenly he sees happy Nessa approaching. She jumps into his arms as he thinks her smile isn’t that scary after all. But the mood is ruined when he notices the 3 Stooges (Enri and the gang) stalking them nearby. They’re so easy to read. Then Nessa spots a suspicious treasure chest nearby but and approaches it. It was an obvious trap as the duo fall into a pit. Enri and co captures them and prepares to take them away in their blimp.

Episode 3
They are taken to Granitz Village as prisoners. But Clain gets excited upon seeing all the old stuff. Some of the citizens meet them and it seems they need a special visor to see and touch Nessa. That’s because unlike Clain, they do not have terminals input in their head. So there are many villages living outside the Fractale system too. Sunda has a man to man chat with Clain. Sunda feels that the post-Fractale system has caused humans to have lost their pride and spirit and robbed them of their true lives. Thus the Lost Millennium is a big rebel group formed to bring down Fractale. To Clain, it’s just a big terrorist group. Clain further learns the village does everything without the help of Fractale or Doppels. From growing food to the good ol’ schooling system. Sunda feels recently the Fractale system is collapsing because Balloons everywhere are crashing. As for why they’re chasing after Phryne, she is the priestess of the temple and Key to the world and ran away carrying data of a Doppel with her. He thinks there are invaluable secrets and data hidden in that Doppel. Meanwhile Nessa continues to freak Enri out by appearing anywhere, including the toilet. Hey, she’s a Doppel. That night, everyone celebrates to welcome their guests. I thought they’re prisoners? Clain doesn’t like the people here though Nessa thinks everyone here are nice. Then Clain tastes a soup and finds it really delicious! Yum! Why not? He has never eaten anything outside from a tube. Eww… Clain and Nessa are given a room to live as Butcher and Takami advises him to go easy on the horny stuff. Yeah, what else to do but to spy outside. Since Nessa couldn’t eat, she asks Clain the taste of the soup. He has a hard time describing it to her (like explaining colours to a blind man) so he starts dancing in weird poses to convey it to her. Uh? What the? I don’t know if Nessa really understood that but she seemed so happy. As for our spying duo, they think Clain’s horniness has just kicked in. Yeah, those shadows cast on the curtains… Man, he’s good…?!

Next morning, Clain learns that Sunda will be leading his team to gatecrash the Star Festival. We learn that this festival is a must to attend. If you don’t you won’t get your blessings. That is, your Doppels stop functioning properly. Sunda gives Clain special visors so he won’t be influenced by the festival. The place is packed as the priestesses arrive. As the process begins, they see everyone staring at the sky like as though they’re possessed. Sunda mentions this festival is just a cover-up for a mass update of nanomachinery. In short, brainwashing. Before humans start to stray by asking questions about their lifestyle, this is what this festival is for. So much so it is normal for them not to be living together as real families. No wonder nobody rebels against the system. Sunda and his gang start the rebellion by firing at the old priestesses. The priestesses in turn protect the main priestess. Her hood falls off and she reveals to be Nessa! The real one? But the temple also retaliates with guards firing back. Many of the innocent people were hit and died without knowing what hit them. Between the firing from both sides, Butcher was hit and killed. Clain gets sick upon seeing so many dead bodies. Suddenly Phryne shows up to continue to ritual. She goes up to priestess Nessa as she greets Phryne as her sister.

Episode 4
Sunda changes his plans and wants Phryne captured. When the people snap out of the ritual, they panic upon seeing so many dead bodies and cause a stampede. Phryne is surprised to see Clain here but smoke screen soon fill the place. Sunda knocks Phryne out and takes her with him as his gang retreat. While Enri is saddened over the passing of Butcher, Clain and Nessa go to cut Phryne lose and want her to escape with them. She is not amused and slaps him for awakening Nessa. Nessa gets upset and starts hitting Phryne for hitting Clain. Their kiddie fight is interrupted when Sunda (after kicking Clain in his ass) comes to escort Phryne for questioning. Phryne also shares the same view of wanting the Fractale system to break down so Sunda offers her to join them but she doesn’t answer. Back at Granitz Village, everyone attends Butcher’s funeral. Clain is still confused that these murderers are being called noble warriors. Elsewhere at the temple, many old priestesses report to the grand priestess Moeran about the recent events and the Lost Millennium faction. With no choice, she thinks of suppressing the rebellion. Sunda also has predicted that the temple will be after them so he and his big Granitz family will be preparing to leave the village to spare its people. Clain and Nessa take this chance to escape. Since Clain is thinking about Phryne, Nessa gets upset and wants him to only think about her.

Suddenly part of the temple’s army led by Barrot arrive at the village. Under the name of God, they seek to capture the Granitz family and not kill those who aren’t related to them and only use force as a last resort. As mentioned, the temple has always known about their location but chose to keep quiet and tolerated their actions. Sunda and his gang spring into action to defend the town while at the same time make their escape to their ship, Danan. Clain sees Phryne trying to climb down from her prison tower with a makeshift rope. She’s no damsel in distress that’s for sure. Nessa blocks him from going to see her but he still insists so she starts sulking. Meeting up with Phryne she notes that Nessa hates her and never thought someone like him could break open such a data. She won’t allow the temple to capture her so like the tomboy she is, she rides a quad-bike to escape with Clain as her pillion. Wow. She sure is multi-talented. Barrot’s ship is hot on their tail, even firing beams at them. Then Barrot corners them but she isn’t going to follow him back to the temple quietly and continues to escape on her quad-bike. Phryne probably has more balls than Clain because she rides off the cliff! Oh sh*t! Probably everything was calculated because she lands on Danan. They leave Barrot’s ship with a farewell present: A barrage of missiles. Clain and Phryne meet up with Sunda and the crew in the cockpit. Sunda thinks he likes their company despite of what he said against them. As for Nessa, Clain feels bad for leaving her behind and won’t be appearing till she cheers up. However Phryne doesn’t think that’s possible. Nessa is seen standing on a cliff watching Danan fly away.

Episode 5
Clain is given a choice whether to leave the ship or work and earn his stay. Since it won’t be a good idea to just parachute down to nowhere, I guess it’s better to take the latter. But that means doing boring chores like cleaning toilets and the laundry. Clain finds it odd that everyone eats together but as they say, food taste much better when eaten together. Except for Phryne who is nowhere to be seen. As Sunda notes, she doesn’t blend easily unlike him. Clain couldn’t get Nessa out of his mind. For the longest time, she has not appeared. He sees Phryne at the laundry room and they talk about Nessa. She envies him because Nessa thinks highly of him. Clain bombards her with lots of questions pertaining to the temple but she didn’t answer. As for Nessa’s case, she mentions she can’t allow herself to love her. Suddenly Danan’s cooling system breaks down. Everyone heads to the laundry area as it is the coolest area. Yeah, they even crack jokes why it’s so hot because of Clain-Phryne thingy… Clain goes to the cockpit to find out what has happened but the grumpy grandpa throws him out thinking he’ll contaminate the system. So where to search for the source? In the toilet of course. Anyway from the mumbo-jumbo talk about the pre-Fractale system that this ship is using, Clain thinks Nessa is the source and is hiding somewhere in this ship. She is in some sort of bad mood and they need to cheer her up. So how to cheer her up and make her appear? Dance? Okay, let’s dance. Everybody starts dancing that it looks like a very weird orgy. Believe me. It really looked like that. Shake it everybody! It just feels so wrong… Then when everybody tumbles to a side together, Clain spots Nessa. Everybody starts chasing and finding her in this hide-and-seek game but it would be hard to catch a Doppel who can just disappear and pop up anywhere. Nessa spots a weird spider and plays with it. Turns out to be a spy camera of Moeran. Then Phryne got locked in some room. She thinks Nessa won’t come out because she’s still mad but Clain says she has forgotten about that and having fun playing hide-and-seek. But Phryne continues to talk in riddles and wants him to forget about her. As she sits by herself, she sees Nessa who thinks she’s hiding too. They made up as Nessa ‘catches’ Phryne who is ‘it’. Once that is done, the ship’s system recovers. Everyone smiles more often and they don’t treat Clain like an outsider anymore. Yes, Phryne also eats with the rest at the table.

Episode 6
Danan lands so that they could undergo maintenance. Nessa and a young girl of the ship are having fun in the water. Phryne wants to join in the fun and suddenly strips naked and jumps in! Has she no shame? And if Clain happens to come by… Oh wait, he already did. Enri really thinks his pervert radar is super strong. However they see an old guy snapping photos of them. A voyeur? He runs away but Clain is interested in his old fashioned camera. Then they see a group of lost people wandering aimlessly. Sunda points out that they have stopped receiving Fractale’s blessing when the Balloon crashed. They can’t live on their own and was totally reliant on Fractale. The dark side of human nature is seen when they tussle with that old guy after thinking he is hording food in his bag. Clain goes to help him out when suddenly an army arrives to retain order. Another Lost Millennium faction led by the dashing Dias. He gives the accuser a taste of pain and seems to know Sunda. Then he proclaims he wishes to help those who have been betrayed by Fractale and wants them to follow him. The old guy dashes off so Clain goes after him. He too is living in an old fashioned house and the first thing Clain said to him is he wants to be his friend. This old man is some antique collector too so it’s no surprise Clain is absolutely excited about the treasure hoard. He tells Clain to meet him tonight at this place because he wants to show him something. When Clain returns to the rest, he talks highly of Dias compared to Sunda so the latter punishes him by making him do the night patrol. When everyone is asleep, Clain uses this chance to sneak away but was caught by Phryne who insists she wants to tag along.

On the way, they pass by Dias’ camp as he treats all the lost Fractale citizens. He seems to be a pretty nice guy so it’s no surprise that they feel very indebted to him. But Phryne says she prefers the people of Granitz more. Because of this, Clain and Phryne try to outrun each other, accusing the other of being a sore loser. Huh? What? Upon reaching the old guy’s place, he takes them to his roof whereby he tweaks some device and suddenly the entire place turns into a beautiful town landscape. As explained, the temple accesses these Balloons at midnight on a full moon. The radio waves become stronger so his antenna managed to pick this up. This is what the town looked like before the Balloon collapsed. The old guy’s dream is to bring this region inside the active zone (areas receiving Fractale’s blessings) once more since people can’t live without Fractale anymore. So instead of wandering and searching about for radio waves, why not bring Fractale’s blessings right here themselves? He tells them to go down to the town to see the truth with their eyes. Down there, they see some of the lost people relieved upon seeing the return of the Fractale system. However there are some getting upset that they can’t. As mentioned by Dias, he removed some of their terminals so they can’t see utopia anymore. Dias shows his true colours when some of them try to escape and has them shot dead!  Though he assures that he will save them, they have no choice but to follow him. Hey, they said they were indebted to him, right? Soon the place loses the waves and return to normal. Clain rushes back to the old guy. He can tell he is dying but he is not leaving this place since there are precious memories of his past. He wants to keep searching for radio waves from where all his memories lie. He gives Clain his camera as his parting gift before they all depart in Danan.

Episode 7
Clain is having fun experimenting with his new camera. Suddenly he finds himself in bed with a sexy hot babe, Meegan. Clearly she is a Doppel but she claims they had a passionate night. This is a dream, right? Well, this is definitely a dream city, Xanadu. Remembering back how it all happened, seems Clain and Nessa took the little blimp out and it crashed after Nessa starts feeling sickly. Phryne, Enri and Takami investigate the crash blimp and are curious where Clain went but meet some Tibetan-like guy. He claims his village isn’t part of the Lost Millennium as everyone lives a simple life alongside nature and appreciates its blessings. Clain is taken on a tour of Xanadu by Meegan but he is worried of Nessa’s whereabouts. She takes him to see one of her friends, Collin, some sort of Doppel designer. Clain finds Nessa in fever on his couch. He explains that she is being hacked. So it’s something similar to human bodies following sick. You know white blood cells attacking the virus so in Nessa’s case her antivirus programme is fending off whoever is hacking her (it’s the temple actually). Then later Clain overhears Meegan and Collin discussing about handing over Nessa to the temple since she is a wanted girl and getting their share of the reward. But Collin isn’t giving an inch to Meegan. Meanwhile Enri talks to Phryne if she’s in some sort of a sexual relation with Clain (tsundere mode on!). She claims that they are just friends because she has no right to be loved. Then Phryne enters the art workshop of that Tibetan guy. He sure has a weird taste in art. He asks for her opinion and in her honest words, it looks like a tap-dancing neurotic worm. Haha! That’s what I thought too. However that guy isn’t happy and slams a vase at Phryne! He accuses her of being a parasite of the network and is going to kill her. But Enri knocks him out with a giant work of his. Enri explains everyone here are liars. They are billionaires completely immersed in Fractale while they let their Doppels do their work as they themselves go around pretending to be environmentalist nomads. Meanwhile Clain takes Nessa and tries to escape. He feels how warm Nessa is and realized that being in a world one can’t touch is sad and cold. Meegan prevents Clain from escaping by inputting a virus worm in his terminal. Nessa gets distraught seeing him writhing in pain. She goes berserk as she promises to protect him. A bright light engulfs the city and turns Xanadu to its original state. Yeah, a desolated city void with all the ‘cosmetics’. Collin (in a form of a stuffed doll monkey) confronts Clain as he won’t let Fractale end because some people can only be free here. He also mentions about the rumours that the Key that could destroy or save Fractale. Then he shoots Clain. To complicate matters, Barrot has also arrived.

Episode 8
Enri notes that Clain and Phryne are captured. Nessa went crazy after that and is currently hiding somewhere in Danan. Phryne meets her father Barrot and we this creepy scene is enough to disgust you. He rubs his freaking face over her stomach, happy that he is reunited with her. He then wonders how close she and Clain is and will have her undergo a test to see if she is still worthy of being the Key. She has too since Clain’s surgery is on the line. Impatient Nessa wants to go safe Clain so even if the rest are properly watching her, you can’t hold her down. Poof in a blink of an eye. Clain wakes up fine and sees Nessa by his side. She is the one at the Star Festival. She claims she is here to watch over him. He learns her name is Phryne but he wants to go see HIS other Phryne. Oh, this is getting confusing, the names that is. Sunda talks to the other Lost Millennium faction leaders about attacking the temple-cum-laboratory. But they disagree and would prefer to sit and wait. But only Dias agrees to come along because he deduces Sunda has found something interesting, perhaps the Key? Phryne Nessa (that’s what I will call her to distinguish from the others) takes Clain to a room filled with her clones in a tube. They are all Phrynes and they can be touched and not Doppels. They are all also Keys. Clain gets a headache after reflecting on Sunda and Collin’s words. Then he notices Phryne Nessa’s hand bruise and wraps a cloth around it.

Elsewhere Phryne is taking an eligibility test which turns out to be some virginity test. Just sick. Suddenly the room bursts into flames. Nessa is here to the rescue but the alarm has already sounded. Fate has them meeting up with Clain. Phryne leads the way as Clain asks about everything (including Barrot as her father but he’s only a father for raising her, that’s about it). She mentions that she was trying to run away from it all as she couldn’t bear that she was just a Key and afraid she wouldn’t be herself anymore. Till she met him. They end up in a chamber with lots of Phryne Nessa clones being vaporized. As explained, they are all failures and deemed useless. Phryne says they are all her, her younger self. WHAT?! So if Nessa is her younger self, how come they looked so different? Nessa is engulfed in sadness that she fades away. Then Clain spots the Phryne Nessa with a bandaged on her hand and tries to safe her. Is he serious in pushing to tube out? I mean, it doesn’t seem to be even budging. Phryne thinks his attempt is futile as there will be many more replacements but he denies that each and every Phryne is different and unique. It was enough for her to go help out. Too bad Barrot has got to them. Sunda and Dias prepare the charge head on since sneak attack won’t help as the laboratory has already detected them. The blast throws everyone inside off-guard. Clain takes this chance to escape with Phryne. Dias launches a daring move by blasting his missiles right into the laboratory. Clain sees Phryne Nessa and wants her to come along but she points the direction to the safety shelter before the whole area blows up.

Episode 9
Thankfully Clain, Phryne and Nessa are safe and well. Thankfully the shelter is the only one standing as the whole place is now a crater. Too bad all the other clones had to die. Enri and Takami pick them up back to Danan. Moeran talks about how perhaps they are receiving the same punishment from God. You know, in the Bible the time when men tried to build a tower to reach the Heavens? That freaky Barrot is still alive albeit bandaged and sulking that he is humiliated and tortured after find the Key. I think he deserves it. Moeran is left with no choice but to make an announcement to all the remaining Fractale citizens to exterminate the Lost Millennium factions. Clain talks to Phryne and learns that Nessa is the first girl who looked like her (really? I don’t see the similarity in terms of physical and personality). That personality that is called God is residing in a girl’s body is the soul. Thus Phryne is the body, the physical medium created to house that soul. The Key will be born when the body and memories come together. That very Key will allow the Fractale system which close to collapse due to entropy accumulation to reboot. They don’t know how this come together thing will happen but she feels if it does, they won’t be themselves anymore. Nessa wakes up from a nightmare of disappearing. Clain comforts here and promises that they will all be together. A group of Fractale citizens gather outside Danan as they tell Sunda and his crew to get out of their place or else the temple will stop giving them blessings. They think their actions to destroy Fractale will only kill them. Enri becomes distraught that what she struggled for to free people had turn into this. Yeah, we’re all only human. Then they receive report that villages of the Lost Millennium faction are being hit by the temple.

They rush back to Granitz Village as the Lost Millennium leaders hold a meeting about what to do next. Dias suggests that since Sunda holds the Key, they have lost their rational. Which means there is no reason for them to exist. In short, it’s going to be a big showdown and an attack by every Lost Millennium force against the temple. Sunda wants Clain to stay back to protect Phryne and Nessa. Before Sunda and his crew depart, they take a group picture with his camera. Butcher has not been forgotten either. Perhaps Enri’s body language was telling us she wanted to confess to Clain but she ends up punching him when he thought she wanted to go to the toilet! Haha! Sunda wonders why they can laugh so Phryne says that it’s because they are scared. But they are more afraid if they can’t protect the ones they love. Sunda and his crew leave and rendezvous with the other factions. Clain, Phryne and Nessa spend time together and take time to notice the beauty of the natural world regardless of the kinds of people. Phryne asks Claine’s wish on the Day Star so he says he wishes for all 3 of them to be together. But it seems that night, Phryne decides to leave them while they’re sleeping. Noting that Nessa is herself when she was beautiful, if she can be with him forever, she’ll be okay with that. Phryne plans on returning to the temple to negotiate with Moeran and Barrot and is confident because since she is half the key and thanks Clain for giving her the confidence to do so. So when Clain reads her goodbye letter, he’s not going to let her have her selfish ways. Yeah, he’s going to rescue her with Nessa. The big showdown with the temple and Lost Millennium begins. Lots of aerial missiles and beams like it’s some day time fireworks show.

Episode 10
Of course the temple can’t go down that easy. It won’t be the main temple if it doesn’t have loads of cool arsenal, right? I don’t know how this is possible because Clain’s mini blimp get to catch up with Danan and board it. I know it is light and face but distance-wise, can it really match Danan’s speed power? Sunda is not happy that they came because it means their efforts are wasted if both the Keys fall into the temple’s hands. He punches Clain. Despite that, though he thinks they are murderers, he considers them his friends. That’s why he wants to go where Phryne is. Dias has overheard them and plans to use himself as decoys to give time for the negotiation. Meanwhile Phryne sees Moeran. Phryne threatens she will kill herself if her request to let Nessa go isn’t met though she will stay here and endure the pain. Moeran explains that it will be useless since they need both Keys to reboot Fractale and there will be no point to stop this battle if she doesn’t function as the Key. She continues that people are dependent on Fractale. Take that away and the world will descend into chaos. Sunda and Clain have breach into the temple. Moeran asks Phryne’s intention to return if she doesn’t intend to become the Key. She wants to stop this battle and is confident she can do it. That’s because she knows Moeran understand her feelings as they used to be the exact same Phryne. Oh God. Don’t tell me this grand priestess is the older version of Phryne. Maybe. That’s why Phryne called her mother or rather, her sister. Phryne explains even if she is successful in rebooting Fractale, the same problem will recur again in hundreds of years’ time. Then they will have to undergo painful experiments to see if they’re fit to become the Key. With tears in Moeran’s eyes, she has Phryne come to lie on her lap. Then she starts strangling her. Moeran is envious Phryne is trying to protect something for someone she loves but she on the other hand has no one to love but have to continue to protect this world. She will reboot this world as many times as it takes so that the people will die without knowing the true joy of being born or what is important to them. She considers this her revenge to the world for giving birth to her. So she is just as twisted as any villain who wants to rule the world.

After she lets go of Phryne, Phryne now understands Moeran’s sadness and leaves. Sunda and Clain are cornered by the temple’s army when Dias’ ship comes crashing in. They have also hacked the temple’s systems. Sunda is surprised to see Enri and Nessa in the temple. These girls are just so impatient, eh? The army has captured Nessa in a spell so for the first time, Clain fires his machine gun, killing the army and the old priestesses. Then they are surprise to see a blob floating around Dias and realize he has a terminal within him. He claims this is a necessary tactic to have a winning chance against the enemy on their ground. Clain and Nessa go off to search for Phryne.  Sunda then hears Dias’ actual sneaky plan to destroy the actual Key to prevent the reboot for now. Sunda punches him but Dias mocks him that he has fallen for her. Nessa begins to fade as she sings the Day Star Song. Clain wonders if that song was popular during pre-Fractale days. Meanwhile as Phryne escapes, she comes into Dias’ men. They fire at her but the old priestesses protect her with their bodies. Finally Phryne and Clain meet but a glass wall prevents them from contacting. Nessa becomes their medium of communication as Phryne says Nessa is all she wanted him to protect, the time of her memories when she was beautiful. It’s such a bad time to have Barrot coming in now. He’s saying that Phryne is still beautiful in both body and soul. He hugs her and starts licking her cheek!!! He wants to let her ‘boyfriend’ know how they are bonded by a deep love. Now this guy just totally creeps me out.

Episode 11
Barrot explains the truth about the world. To conserve and protect the biological data of the original Phryne whom they called God, the scientist who created the Fractale system split God into body and spirit, creating the Key. Hundreds of years later, for some reason, the Key did not fit into the keyhole when it became necessary. Thus they decided to have God descended again to reboot the system. God’s spirit was of a 10 year old girl and thus it is that 10 year old girl they recreated attempted to imbue into the spirit. However the results failed no matter how many times they tried. Thus the many rejected experimental bodies we see in Phryne Nessa. Barrot was given this task and in the process adopted several of them as his daughters. Then one day he found the elusive secret to God and Phryne. It turns out God’s age was 16 (which is this Phryne as we know) and not 10 as believed. Due to some traumatic experience, God created a 10 year old personality and hid herself in it. So do you understand everything? Hell, no. I’m still bloody confused. Barrot continues that God and Phryne went through the same experiment: They knew love. He starts bragging how she belongs to only him and mocks the total loser Clain is. Watch your mouth buddy because Phryne stabs him while he is ranting away! He deserves it. Phryne upon realizing what she has done, runs away in shock. Nessa goes after her and comforts her. Then they hear a familiar song. Meanwhile Clain is so troubled with Barrot’s words that he starts seeing visions of him! He nearly mistook Enri for him and almost shot her! Anyway as Sunda explains, Dias’ team has set explosives all over the temple and are attempting suicide. The reason being is that he knows he has been betrayed since all other factions have pulled out. Nevertheless it proves that they’re human after all. Sunda orders reluctant Enri to take the rest of their men out of the temple and assures her he’ll return. Sunda and Clain follow a familiar song to a room whereby Moeran is conducting the sacred ceremony. Phryne and Nessa have volunteered to be part of the ceremony and become the Key to the world. She invites to witness the historical moment that happens only in a thousand years. Dias comes in and wishes to be part of the moment. He goes up to Moeran and hugs her. The way he says things indicates that he’s going to sacrifice himself (he’s already badly injured by the way). The way she says things indicates she cares little about her life. And yeah, Dias blows both of them up. In the commotion, Sunda has Clain, Phryne and Nessa enter an elevator to the Firmament. I guess Sunda too wants to be a hero because the way he says things indicates he’s going to sacrifice himself. Follow the path you believe in? Those are the words of a man going to meet his maker. So what about his promise to return? Maybe not in human form, eh? He stays back to stall the advancing soldiers.

As the trio ride the elevator up, Phryne is going to merge with Nessa though it may be risky and they may lose their lives. Clain wants to know if they cared about his feelings and though both the temple and Sunda had some things right and some things wrong, he is definite he’d be sad if he loses both of them. He then hugs Phryne and says he loves her. Even if she’s stubborn and decides things on herself, he loves her for being that way. Enri has managed to get Danan out of the temple and finds it hard to contain her tears. Grandpa comforts her by saying Lost Millennium wasn’t created to destroy the Fractale system but to pass down true freedom of being humans to future generations. Clain and co reach the top of the Firmament. Looks like a pretty flower garden in space. Phryne says this is where Nessa’s memories will lead them from here. They see a short video clip when God, a happy Phryne recording a video of herself summing up her courage to go to some place called Fractale for ‘data collection’. She gets her confidence from a stuffed toy rabbit named Nessa. So God is that girl?! Oh God! But as Phryne notes, they are both different because that Phryne was able to accept this twisted world with a smile. At first Phryne thought she couldn’t but now feels she can because of Clain and Nessa, they were there for her. She wants to protect them with all her strength. Clain promises that no matter what happens, he’ll take them both back and live together. Phryne and Nessa start the process as they sing the Day Star Song. Clain could only watch but oddly he couldn’t shed any tears because he feels that there are people wishing for his eternal smile. In the aftermath, Fractale has been rebooted and a year has passed. People have begun to rely less on Fractale to live. Enri and the Granitz family are doing fine (minus Sunda). Enri is grooming into a fine leader as grandpa says that another reboot is impossible since the temple was completely destroyed. Meanwhile Clain continues to live in his permanent house. Phryne is also there but sleeping in his bed. Then she wakes up and it’s like both personalities of Phryne and Nessa are in this girl. Hard time guessing which, eh? When Phryne says that she loves him ever since the first time they met, he breaks down and hugs her. Aww… How sweet. Phryne finds it odd since he’s crying like a baby. And the group photo they took back then, Nessa is missing from it.

Welcome… To The Real World
So the world was not destroyed like I thought it would be. Considering that there are quite a number of deaths in this series (though most of them are unimportant minor characters like the temple people and innocent civilians), I was expecting a major tragedy at the end. Maybe having people relying on Fractale system from the start is already a tragedy itself. I think I can consider this to be a bittersweet ending because though we have the main characters continuing with their normal lives, it is sad that all the sufferings and sacrifices that had to be made in order to achieve this. The idea and concept of the Fractale system seems interesting in the sense that mankind has reached its ultimate utopia but at what price? Does mankind really achieve true freedom by being too dependent on sophisticated technology? Immersing yourself in the fake digital world, is that call true living? This depends very much on the individual. Some like it, some don’t. But the bottom line is, are you truly happy with your lives now? But when you’ve been brainwashed for such a long time, it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. How many of us can do that?

However the explanation of the rebooting system of the Fractale system seems a little far-fetched to believe, if not complicated. If God was a young girl, they could have given Haruhi Suzumiya the job. Sorry, jokes aside, the reason of why they need this Key thing to work the Fractale system still bugs me. How it didn’t fit one day and how they came up with the conclusion that a 10 year old is the key to solving their woes add to the confusion. So is this Phryne girl, a descendent of the original one many centuries ago? If so, she must have been over-cloned. No wonder the experiment hurts. I wonder if it really was a virginity test. Assuming despicable Barrot may have laid his on Phryne, what are the chances she isn’t that pure in this sense?

Clain has turned from someone who prefers to be alone at the start into someone who enjoys the company of others. Though he leads a simple life but I guess you’ll never know the meaning of loneliness if you have never have friends before. Having Doppels do not count. It’s like talking to your television or some other electrical appliances. Just that it has more interaction capabilities. Phryne also learns to open up at the end from being someone who keeps to herself. Nessa is always the happy girl and she really acts like a kid, throwing tantrums and fits whenever she is unhappy. It boggles me that if she was part of the Key to rebooting the system, how did Phryne get her hands on it? Where was she all the while when others searched high and low without finding an answer in sight? Enri’s tsundere proves to be amusing and a comic relief. Too bad she just didn’t have the chance to tell Clain her true feelings. Either way, Clain would have preferred very much to live with Phryne and Nessa. Sunda and Dias aren’t as bad as they seem. While Sunda may sound arrogant and Dias hides a cold blooded nature, ultimately they stood for what they believe for and fight all the way till the end of their lives. Barrot is the creepiest character, possibly the most hated character. I’m sure his molesting of Phryne creeps you out. Because this isn’t an ecchi series, caressing a girl’s stomach and licking her face is utmost disgusting. Partly because he’s an old geezer and not a hot bishonen :p. I thought we’d seen the last of him when the slab collapsed on him at the lab, but he is one tough nut to crack. Well, we must be all happy since he’s dead for good in the end. Moeran’s jealousy is fuelled by the fact that Phryne is considered more important compared to her even though her intentions of protecting this world is sincere. Any point bugging me is that if Nessa is the younger version of Phryne, then Moeran must be the older version of her, right? I mean, she did address her as her sister. So we all know what she’ll look like when she grows old :p. And don’t tell me all those grandmas at the temple are her too.

I need to say something about the drawing and art. It reminded me so much of Sora No Woto in the sense that the scenery and backgrounds are breathtaking that it makes you go ooh and ahh. However the same can’t be said about the human beings. Their details are so lacking so much so it feels like not much effort has been put into them. At one point (the part where everybody was dancing and getting jiggy with it), they really look like weird sketches. Just horrible. Therefore I sometimes would avert my eyes to the scenery behind rather than the characters in focus. Of course the main characters like Clain, Phryne and Nessa are given more details but generally the quality of the art isn’t as good as they give to the background. Both the opening and ending themes are sung by Hitomi Azuma. I’m not sure if I could classify the opening theme, Harinezumi as a dance song even with its upbeat nature. That’s because the animation is just all about zooming in and out of the colourful kaleidoscope effects. Not sure if you’re watching some virus thingy or light show. The ending theme, Down By The Salley Gardens is a slow and calming piece. It is totally sung in English though I feel that some of the grammar doesn’t make sense. Then halfway it changed to a Japanese version before reverting back to its original English. The animation here is nothing surprising. Nessa sitting by the rocks watching the scenery till a little butterfly flutters by and in her distraction, she falls off the rock. Cute, no? For the Day Star insert song, humming it by yourself is just horrible. The full version with other instruments accompanying it sounds better.

I don’t really have any problems with the voice casting except Clain’s. Yu Kobayashi is the voice behind him and I feel that her voice doesn’t really suit this character. Based on my views, Clain just sounded odd and with Yu Kobayashi’s crazy voice antics, I had this feeling the character would burst into a crazy fit somehow. Though she has voiced some boy’s role before, I still feel that she would suit better in other roles than this. In contrast, Kana Hanazawa was perfect and definitely suitable for the sunny Nessa. After watching her voice lively characters such as the titular character in Kobato and Kozue in Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin, there is no others who would be better than her to play Nessa. Other casts include newbie seiyuu Minami Tsuda as Phryne, Yuka Iguchi as Enri (Index in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Shintaro Asanuma as Sunda (Tsuda in Seitokai Yakuindomo), Sumi Shimamoto as Moeran (Kyoko in Maison Ikkoku), Mitsuru Miyamoto as Barrot (Ayame in Fruits Basket), Tomoaki Maeno as Dias (Junichi in Amagami SS) and surprisingly Aki Toyosaki as Meegan (Yui in K-ON!).

Modern conveniences serve to lessen the burden of humanity and to make life easier. But depending too much on it has reduced the quality of life. You can say that this is some sort of apocalypse. Some sort of illusionary prison on Earth without everyone realizing it. In a way, this series reminded me of a Hollywood blockbuster, The Matrix. See the similarities? The people in general are living in the fake world with those in power trying to brainwash and keep things as they are. Then there are a few outsiders and rebels trying to break into the system and save humanity once and for all. If you are given a choice, would you really want to be part of the Fractale system or get down and dirty with reality? For me, as long as I can watch my animes, I’m fine. Come to think of it, is this life of mine just an illusion too? If so, I don’t want to wake up yet.

Using tournament-based fights are another way for baddies to rule the world or get what they want. Feels like money laundering. But that’s not the point of this versus blog today. Though in this blog I have both animes that spend most of its run on the course of the tournament, The Law Of Ueki (Ueki) and Flame Of Recca (Recca). You can tell that the hero of the show is uber cool partly because he has his name embedded in the series’ title itself :). And one of the good points of doing team tournaments is that the other teammates get to flex their abilities as well instead of leaving it all to the hero. Which goes to show that no man is an island. So here are the comparisons between both these shows:

Japanese title
Ueki: Ueki No Housoku.
Recca: Recca No Honoo.

Name of tournament
Ueki: Battle of the Supernatural Powers.
Recca: Ura Butou Satsujin.

Winner’s reward
Ueki: A Blank Zai that allows the winner to write whatever talent he/she desires.
Recca: Since losers lose what they wager, the winner will take all that is at stake.

The main hero
Duh…
Ueki: Kousuke Ueki.
Recca: Recca Hanabishi.

His powers
Ueki: Turning trash/garbage into trees and subsequently Level 2 powers in the form of Recycle.
Recca: Ability to produce and control fire.

His secret powers
Packs more punch and firepower.
Ueki: The 10 Sacred Treasures AKA Jingi.
Recca: To summon the 8 Flame Dragons called Karyuu.

His ‘teacher’
Ueki: Kobayashi AKA Kobasen.
Recca: Kage Hoshi AKA Kagerou.

His sibling
Not really blood related anyway.
Ueki: Adoptive sister Shouko.
Recca: Half-brother Kurei.

His background
Refers to our main hero’s family background.
Ueki: A heavenly being.
Recca: Second son of the Hokage clan’s leader.

His teammates
Those joining him during the tournament rounds.
Ueki: Seiichiro Sano, Ai Mori, Rinko Jerrard, Hideyoshi Souya.
Recca: Fuuko Kirisawa, Domon Ishijima, Yanagi Sakoshita, Tokiya Mikagami, Kaoru Koganei.

The ‘princess’
Well, serves more like a cheerleading support…
Ueki: Ai.
Recca: Yanagi.

Foe turned friend
Once part of the enemy’s side is now part of the hero’s team.
Ueki: Rinko.
Recca: Koganei.

Main antagonists
Ueki: Initially Robert Haydn and then towards the end Anon.
Recca: For the most part Kurei and subtly his foster dad Mori Kouran.

Their group of fighters
Even baddies have their own personal team of strongest fighters. You can’t really fight the big boss till you’re done with his underlings, eh?
Ueki: The secret group who fights for and only for Robert called Robert’s 10. Team Ballow are a group of heavenly beings tasked in helping Anon.
Recca: Uruha Juushinshuu are the strongest warriors under Kurei.

Reason for holding tournament
Ueki: To decide the next God with each junior high school kid called Power User representing a God Candidate.
Recca: As Kouran’s obsessive attempt to obtain the madougu for eternal life.

Fighter’s abilities
Ueki: Each Power User has the ability to change an object into something else.
Recca: Elemental tools called Madougus enable users to control elements or enhance their abilities.

The fox mascot
Ueki: Tenko, a gigantic tail-less fox-like creature in its original form but is mainly stick onto Ueki’s wrist as an arm protector.
Recca: Kondo, a small fox doll of Ganko.

The monkey
Ueki: Hideyoshi – because of his face (sometimes acts and sounds like one too).
Recca: Fuuko – at least that is what Mikagami insulted her during Yanagi’s rescue mission. Oh, there are more insults from him. Recca the sea monkey and Domon the gorilla…

One man team
How is this even possible?
Ueki: Rihou.
Recca: Raiha.

Best hairstyle award goes to…
Ueki: Junichi Baba – Nice ‘wormy’ dreadlocks you got there.
Recca: Domon – Is that a Mohawk hairstyle he spot?

Playing God
Ueki: Kamisama is the current ruling God, a happy womanizing hippy.
Recca: Kouran who is obsessed in acquiring immortality.

Healing properties
Ueki: Tenko has a healing chamber within its body.
Recca: Yanagi has the innate ability to heal any physical injury.

Taken away
Ueki: Kobasen is whisked to hell after his interference and breaking a tournament rule to save Ueki’s ass during a battle.
Recca: Yanagi is abducted by Kouran as he believes her healing properties will bring him immortality.

Out before it even starts
Not in the match proper because taken out early.
Ueki: Rinko, due to a surprise attack right at the start by a very organizes Team Marilyn.
Recca: Fuuko and Domon temporarily trapped by Kurei for the second round match against Uruha Maboroshii.

No-show potential
They seemed to have the potential to give our heroes a run for their money but unfortunately, we don’t get to see them flex their muscles much.
Ueki: Oni – Defeated too fast and easily.
Recca: Jisho – Died during a match with another team under Kurei.

After tournament opponents turned friends
True to being a shonen genre, the opponents you beat becomes your friend.
Ueki: Team Marilyn.
Recca: Team Kuu.

The battles fought
Ueki: Individual knock-out matches serve as pre-qualifying rounds, followed by fights against Robert’s 10 and then more fights against new members of Robert’s 10 before the final team tournament.
Recca: Fights against companions in test of acceptance, Yanagi’s rescue mission before the final knock-out elimination style team tournament.

Final match shamble
Ueki: After Anon devours Kamisama, he invites all Power Users to beat him (by individual or by team, whichever he is fine with) on a raised platform within a time limit of 12 hours or else he will bring upon his wish onto the world.
Recca: Having grown tired of Kurei’s incompetence (not that his adoptive son would give a damn about that old fart either), Kouran sets loose a clone of Kurei with his own flame powers. However the clone can’t control its own powers and soon the fire goes spiralling out of control.

At the end, the winner…
Ueki: Of course Ueki lah! And his wish on the Blank Zai is the Zai of Reunion.
Recca: Well, Recca is the last one standing in the ring so he has to be the official winner, right? But he didn’t get any prizes nor any of the issues solved. Like left hanging…

Number of episodes
Ueki: 51 episodes.
Recca: 42 episodes.

Year of production
Ueki: 2005.
Recca: 1997.

Conclusion
Ironically I watched Ueki way before Recca so my memories of the latter are much more intact than the former. But after thinking hard, I feel that Ueki fares better than Recca not just because it is a more recent anime but rather it had an ending (good one or not depends up to you viewers) rather than an incomplete one (for Recca, though the anime stopped, the story and plot continue through the manga). Of course Ueki also has better quality animation and art though Recca may look old but it isn’t that shabby either. The fighting sequences are also better for Ueki but some of the matches can take more than an episode to finished as compared to Recca, I can say that 99% of the matches start and end in 1 episode. It won’t be a draggy affair that way. Also, Recca‘s plot and terms are less complicating and simpler. Not to say that Ueki‘s are hard to understand, you need to sit down for a while and digest things if you’re going to understand. But aside all that, both series are similar in the typical flow of the shonen genre. Hero and his team goes along defeating baddies, powers up and continues to fight even more powerful villains till the final boss. In the process, we learn about their past and just about everyone else’s past and how they came to be. So if you like team action and some comedy in it (sorry, don’t keep your hopes up for any romance), give not only these titles a try but other similar ones like Shaman King or Marchen Awakens Romance too. Hmm… Maybe I should’ve included them in this blog too? Or maybe I’ll just wait another fighting day.

 

Kuragehime

November 20, 2011

What is it with society and unmarried women who reached the age of 30? Another form of discrimination, I guess. But that isn’t the main theme in Kuragehime though it is one of the topics worthy of discussion. Also known as Princess Jellyfish, this anime focuses on a group of single ladies living together in a dorm called Amamizu right smack in the hot area of Tokyo. Thing is, they aren’t your typical beautiful women that would send men drooling crazy over them. Yeah, they are more like NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training), each with their own obsessive and weird (depends on how you look at it) fetishes. So is it a wonder that many people don’t find them attractive?

One of such people and tenants is Tsukimi Kurashita. Though she is the newest tenant of Amamizu, she is obsessed with jellyfish. Something that many people won’t find fascinating to even own it as a pet. When she was young, her late mother took her to an aquarium to see the splendour of the floating jellyfish in the tank. She akin the long flowing tentacles and tendrils of the jellyfish like the beautiful gowns of princesses. Which girl wouldn’t dream of being a princess? And thus, begins Tsukimi’s obsession with the Medusozoa. However reality isn’t fairytale so Tsukimi’s dream of being a princess never even got close. That’s right. She turned into a jellyfish otaku and her fashion sense is just wearing grey jumpers with her hair braided and unfashionable glasses. Can you fathom why she’s still single? Something must have gone wrong along the way, eh?

Part of the fun at Amamizu no matter how dull their lives are the other residents. Their colourful personalities make them a lovable bunch though you might be turned off by their appearance. We have the chubby Chieko whose infatuations are with kimonos and traditional Japanese Hina dolls. She is Amamizu’s building owner and is currently the manager since her mom is away on some overseas trip. Then we have Mayaya, probably the liveliest one among the gang (notice the movements of her hand when she talks?). She’s quite fixated on anything that pertains to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and even makes statements and references using it in her daily speeches. Banba is the most peculiar one because she has this peculiar sense and vision to trace good food. Yes, her messy-hair afro is natural and she likes trains very much. Finally, zombie-like Jiji is fixated on old men. Say what? We also the mysterious Juon Mejiro who is never seen out of her room. Or even heard. Only known to be a ‘nocturnal creature’, she is the author of a popular yaoi manga and sometimes have the Amamizu residents helped her out with her work when the deadline looms. Due to her chronic social anxiety disorder, she barricades herself in her room and her only communication is via paper. What again? You see, if the girls want any advice or something cleared, all they need to do is just write on a white piece of paper, slip it under a door and wait for a few seconds for a reply. And what she ‘says’ seems to be like a decree like “No Boys Allowed” in Amamizu. Thus the girls at Amamizu form some kind of nunnery called Ama. It’s not like they dislike the male gender, even ladies too. Especially if they’re the hipster kind. Of course in life, nothing remains the same as they’ll soon be encountering a life-changing chain of events.

Episode 1
We are introduced to the characters and their obsession as well as their ‘mundane’ lives at Amamizu. We see Tsukimi’s otaku on Jellyfish as her knowledge of every jellyfish known would put jellyfish experts to shame. Yeah, notice all the jellyfish sketches and drawings on her room walls. Creepy if you have phobia of jellyfish. One night while she passes by a local pet store, she is horrified to see 2 different jellyfish being put together in the same tank. Well, from what I understand from her technical hullaballoo one of them excretes poisonous secretion that will kill the harmless other. She tries to inform the shopkeeper but she gets petrified because he’s a guy. She sums up her courage to save the harmless jellyfish that she names Clara but the shopkeeper finds her creepy and annoying. He shoves her out and while on the ground, Tsukimi sees a beautiful hipster lady standing up for her. After hearing both sides of the story, she buys the jellyfish. Woah. She’s so cool. That must be what Tsukimi is thinking. She follows Tsukimi back to Amamizu so they but Clara in the bath tub for the time being. Remember not to take a bath or you’ll get that stinging feeling. Tsukimi brings hipster lady to her room and she gets fascinated with her jellyfish drawing. Since she’s tired, she crashes in her room and immediately falls asleep. Next morning, Tsukimi wakes up to find hipster girl’s fake wig and puts in on for size. It must be a wonderful dream, eh, if you could be as pretty as her. Now she gets the rude shock of her life. Can you guess what is it? Hipster girl wakes up and is NOT A GIRL!!! SHE’S A GUY FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! He is Kuranosuke Koibuchi and loves cross-dressing as women. Tsukimi knows she’s in big sh*t because of the “No Boys Allowed” decree at Amamizu. Imagine the terrible things that can happen if everyone finds out. Poor Tsukimi, she’s so confused about the kind of pretty people in Tokyo but it never hit her that guys like him can be this pretty too.

Episode 2
Tsukimi tries hard to cover up Kuranosuke since they were too noisy. But Kuranosuke isn’t fazed with his gender thingy and even walks out of the room shirtless! Tsukimi goes down and pretends that nothing is happening but the rest heard noise coming from upstairs. What could it be? A cat? A thief? And it’s coming from Tsukimi’s room. Oh, nobody. Really. Kuranosuke seems to take a liking for this place (because it’s chaotic?) and plans to return here again. Oh no. Looks like the nightmare will continue. At least for Tsukimi. Clara has been transferred to a proper tank as Tsukimi tells the rest of Clara’s lifesaver but falls short of revealing his true identity. After the gang shops for ingredients for their nabe dinner, Tsukimi is still bothered about Kuranosuke’s case and goes to seek Mejiro’s advice on what would happen if boys are allowed into Amamizu. That doesn’t need any much thinking: DEATH. Holy sh*t! To add to her terror, Kuranosuke (in drag of course) returns to ruin their weekly nabe meal by joining them. Due to their fear of hipsters, they have this uncanny ability to ‘shut down’ by turning into stone. Only Kuranosuke seems to be enjoying himself, though he tries to be friendly. Yeah, he finds out that they are all otakus. Tsukimi wonders why he came back so his earnest reply is that he wants to see her. Gasp! However the rest start leaving the room so Chieko tells Kuranosuke bluntly that nobody wants to be ‘her’ friend. Tsukimi accompanies Kuranosuke home (which is by the way 15 minutes walk from Amamizu). He mentions how he envies them because they get to eat together unlike his family. Tsukimi gets another shock of her life when she reaches the gates of Kuranosuke’s house. Not just a house, it’s a bloody big mansion! Make that a luxurious mansion! She gets petrified upon seeing his elder brother, Shuu (because he’s a guy in a suit). Kuranosuke asks Shuu a favour. That is, to bring the best Matsuoka beef back to Amamizu. After Banba confirms the meat is the real deal, looks like they’ve accepted her. Woah. Can be easily bought over! If Tsukimi thinks she has seen enough shock to last for a lifetime, she hasn’t seen anything yet. Next morning, Tsukimi sees the TV news report and recognizes Shuu behind the former Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Keiichirou Koibuchi. So Shuu’s the son of a former minister?! How shocking could it get more? Yeah Tsukimi, you’re over-spilling the coffee. And she just realized that meat might be a bribe… Welcome to the world of politics, Tsukimi.

Episode 3
As we learn Kuranosuke comes from a family of politicians. He narrates why he cross-dresses. Firstly, he plans to leave it all to Shuu so that it’s easier to live his life of freedom if people think he’s some kind of deviant. Secondly, he wants to live in the fashion world and not a politician world. His uncle, Saburouta Negishi is coming for a visit. Oh yeah. Did I mention he’s the Prime Minister of Japan? However the PM seems to not mind Kuranosuke cross-dressing. Yeah, he’s even getting so moe when he sees him and even calling him Kura-pyon. What does this say about Japan? After that, Kuranosuke goes to hang out at his new ‘in’ place: Amamizu. He seems to find Tsukimi’s jellyfish interest much more interesting than hanging out with his friends. She then learns the NEET they all are though they deny and have a certain kind of job or allowances to sustain this kind of lifestyle. It was enough to make everyone go mad. At the park, Tsukimi asks why the son of the PM is cross-dressing. So he takes her back to his place and gives her a total make over. You see, when given proper make-up and the likes, Tsukimi can turn into a beautiful lady! Yes, she’s stunning! In her panic, she runs out of the room and when Shuu is about to come in. It’s like they’ve fallen in love but like Cinderella, she just ran away. But didn’t leave behind any glass slipper. Kuranosuke gets excited that he has found a new ‘rough diamond’ to polish. Yeah, he thinks every girl at Amamizu has the potential to be pretty. Tsukimi tries to wash off her make-up but it makes her look more like a Chinese zombie. She is pondering if she’ll be labelled a traitor if the rest sees her like this. Shuu asks Kuranosuke about that pretty girl that just ran out so Kuranosuke knows he has a crush on her, causing him to blush. He tells her what he needs to know about Tsukimi in exchange for his mom’s address and has him go deliver the clothes she has left behind. When Shuu arrives, he sees the bunch of geek girls frolicking around but doesn’t recognize Tsukimi even if she’s just right under his nose. After he leaves, Tsukimi starts falling for him but is confused. She remembers her mom’s words that girls become beautiful when they fall in love. Does it mean she’ll be grubby if she doesn’t? When Shuu returns, Kuranosuke learns that Tsukimi’s make-up effect has wear off, the reason Shuu didn’t recognize her. Shuu asks him about wanting to meet Lina (Kuranosuke’s mom. Yes, he is the illegitimate son of the former minister) so he says all he wants to do is look inside her clothes wardrobe. Kuranosuke then pays Tsukimi another visit and this time he’s really going to do another super make-over. Terrified Tsukimi didn’t want to go through all that trauma again so she’s fine not being pretty. Have you ever heard a girl saying that?

Episode 4
Amamizu is having their own bonfire but each time this reminds Tsukimi of her mom so she finds it hard to swallow. Meanwhile Kuranosuke learns that Shuu is studying a proposal of an urban redevelopment plan. Seems Amamizu and the building in its area are being planned to be torn down to make way for a high-rise hotel. Kuranosuke goes to warn the Amamizu girls of this but they don’t seem alarmed or fazed. Kuranosuke then plans to take Tsukimi out to an aquarium though it’s a little far. He borrows a kimono from Chieko and has Shuu personally drive them there. Tsukimi becomes fascinated with the jellyfish and even has Shuu stand side by side a jellyfish as comparison. I guess because she didn’t have her glasses on, she could see the similarities of Shuu and the jellyfish! Then Kuranosuke felt this annoying feeling in his heart. Yeah, you could say he’s starting to like Tsukimi. He takes off all his make-up and women’s dressing (in the female toilet) and when he goes back out, to his horror he sees Shuu hugging Tsukimi! Flashback reveals Kuranosuke was so popular (even way back at kindergarten) that he has girls flocking to his side and has dated the most popular, prettiest girls to beauty queens and college girls that only men could dream of. Wow. How lucky is this guy? But because of that, many girls end up fighting over him and got injured and that’s when he has had enough. Back in reality, he is kinda pissed off seeing them hug in public. Tsukimi excuses herself to wash her tears as Kuranosuke pesters for an explanation. She started crying when she started remembering her late mom so that’s when he hugged her and told her it’s okay to cry. After driving her back, it seems Amamizu is under a state of panic and chaos. Everyone is rushing to help Mejiro complete her work because she got mixed up over the deadline. Yeah, everyone is already breaking down and Tsukimi is their only saviour since she is the only ‘sane’ one. She has trouble taking off her kimono and only manages to take off her top part when Shuu returns to thank her. Yeah, his nose bleed is enough to stain the car. Because of this, Tsukimi also breaks down and adds to the already messed up chaos while Kuranosuke is getting hot under the collar, bothered by a love scene between a couple of virgins.

Episode 5
Chieko gets a call from her mom. She’s rather happy to sell the place and not listening a bit to her daughter. Soon the Amamizu girls attend the local explanatory presentation on the urban redevelopment. They are greeted by Shouko Inari, the real estate developer but became scared (because she’s a career woman). Then they see Shuu and the only seats available are those next to him. Tsukimi is made to sit next to him but Shuu doesn’t recognize her. Because the otakus are being noisy, they dash out of the room after receiving glaring stares from the rest. They realize that they left without Chieko so Tsukimi volunteers to go get her. During the break, Shouko realizes that Shuu is at the presentation and devices a scheming plan. Tsukimi ponders about the different person in Shuu when he sees him and Shouko going off together in an umbrella. She gets disheartened but Kuranosuke chances upon her. Back at Amamizu, Kuranosuke learns that the girls flop their session and didn’t even manage to say a single protest. Then Chieko comes back and it seems as long as her mom is the owner of the building, they can’t do anything. Kuranosuke goes into a raging mode to bring all the depressed girls out of the pits. Though the rest are puzzled of his sudden change in his deep voice, it never hit them that he’s of the opposite gender. Kuranosuke gives Mayaya a total make-over and she turns into a beauty herself! Yeah, she looks so much classier with this. Well, she seems to be admiring herself in the mirror since she isn’t taking it off. Then another make-over for Banba. The point is, he’s not going to make them change into a hipster look. He wants them to understand that in this sort of clothes that they are wearing now, they don’t stand a fighting chance. That’s right. You have to dress to kill. It’s a dog-eat-dog world battle out there. Meanwhile Shouko is ditching all the other parasitic men who have fallen out of her favour. Note all the cigarettes stained with her purple lipsticks? Bad for health… As part of her scheme, she calls Shuu out for a drink with an excuse to return his umbrella.

Episode 6
Everyone gets a make-over. Except Chieko. Because of everyone else being hip, this improves her kimono image and is now seen as a rich celebrity. Then she brings them to a posh cafe to discuss their plan to stop the demolition of Amamizu. What plan has he got in mind? Nothing yet but I’m sure he’ll think up of something along the way. Man, this is dangerous. As usual, the Amamizu girls are stunned by the surroundings and the pricey menu. But since it’s on Kuranosuke and his Gorgeous Express credit card, they start ordering the entire menu! See what power money wields? Then she shifts their location to the terrace to have an awesome view. Seeing how happy Tsukimi is, Kuranosuke gets irritated that he is taken in by her cuteness. Elsewhere, Shouko buys Shuu a drink with an excuse of gratitude but spikes his drink. Being the amateur he is, he falls for it. Shouko proceeds to set him up and takes a photo of themselves in bed for future purposes. When Shuu wakes up, he must be in total shock that he seems so calm. Asking for his clothes, but Shouko continues to seduce him. Then he couldn’t take it anymore as he shoves her and dashes out. Back home, the PM talks to Kuranosuke thinking he wants to fish for dirt about Shuu’s relationship with women. However he just wants to know his love life. Dear PM changes the subject and makes a dash out of the house but with Kuranosuke chasing him. Then he spots Shuu coming in all dazed and his clothes unkempt. Kuranosuke goes to talk to their family driver, Hanamori about Shuu’s phobia on women. He was reluctant to tell till Kuranosuke threatens to imprint his finger prints on his Mercedes Benz. Wow. He spilled the beans without a second thought! Seems 21 years ago when Shuu’s dad brought him to see a musical, Shuu went backstage and saw a traumatic incident. Yup, his dad and Lina were making out in a closet. Well, to a 9 year old boy, that must be traumatic, right? For some odd reason, Shuu drives all the way to Amamizu to meet Tsukimi (still in her fashionable dress) just to shake hands with her. Then he leaves. Huh? As for Shouko, she is pretty confident that Shuu is convinced they did it and it will be just moments before she wraps her little fingers all around him.

Episode 7
But Shouko finds that the Amamizu deal isn’t closed yet. She pays Amamizu a visit and she got them bribed with a box of fine macaroons. Banba takes the bag to show it to Tsukimi in her room. But Shouko comes in because she left something in the bag. They are Shuu’s spectacles that she plans to return. Tsukimi gets dismayed and tells her to stay out of her room. As Shouko leaves, she bumps into Kuranosuke coming in. He tells her off that Amamizu is not for sale but she plays it cool. Kuranosuke then says that they are going to buy this building even if it costs billions. Then Mayaya throws salt at her to kick her out. What? Kuranosuke and Tsukimi are alone at the park. Tsukimi is down because she thinks Shouko is Shuu’s girlfriend and that spectacles in her hands seem to confirm it. Then it all starts to make sense to Kuranosuke why he saw Shuu coming home in an unkempt manner. He comforts her but they get teased by a couple of naughty kids who think they are lesbians. Back to Amamizu, the rest don’t seem to take Kuranosuke’s words of buying this place seriously. Yeah, they think it’s some kind of a gag joke. Since they lack savings, Kuranosuke searches the place for anything valuable to sell. I’m not sure if he’s that desperate because it seems like he was having no respect for Chieko’s dolls because he nonchalantly handled them and even thinks of selling them disregarding Chieko’s feelings for them. Even if they’re creepy, they’re family to her. I think that was a bad move. Kuranosuke sulks in Tsukimi’s room (only in his shorts?!) and I guess he gets pissed off that he tries to kiss Tsukimi! However that didn’t happen when Mayaya barges in when an emergency decree from Mejiro. She needs someone to fax her work. NOW! Elsewhere Shouko meets up with Shuu and her blackmail starts when she shows him the intimate picture she snapped with her handphone. While Shuu goes crazy over the thought of kissing Tsukimi and falling for her, they go to seek Mejiro’s advice about selling out the place. She is against it since she will suffer the most due to her disorder. But since she’s low on cash, she has no plans to sell her work but if the one she is working now is a hit, she’ll make the down-payment herself. Shuu tries to ask his dad for money but dad thinks he’s just tired and needs to turn in for the day. Yeah, 300 million to buy a property? That’s crazy! He tried to blackmail by saying he knows about Shuu’s trauma but he makes it clear that they just made it to second base (a term to describe manual stimulation of genitalia. Penetrative sex would be fourth base as I found out). Next day, Kuranosuke tells the Amamizu girls that he has booked a spot in a flea market (oh, the horror of mixing around with other people) and searches their store room for anything valuable.

Episode 8
Lots of uncute things. At least that is what Kuranosuke thought when he opens the boxes. Then he sees the tableware and thinks this will do to rake in the big bucks. Shuu’s dad notices his son not acting strange and as usual Hanamori spilled the beans about his fling after boss agrees to buy a new Benz. As for spying on him, he initially declined (because of his pride as Shuu[s childhood friend, bla bla bla) but when the Mercedes is on the line… Yeah, he gets right to it, calling his close buddy Sugimoto for a meet up. Kuranosuke and Tsukimi are at their flea market spot. The cups aren’t selling but it seems the customers are more interested in the handmade teruterubouzu Tsukimi made. Or is it a jellyfish version? They sold it for 500 Yen but it’s a start. He gets an idea as he calls the rest down to the market and wants them to make those jellyfish dolls. Chieko is sewing in lightning speed! This plans works out well as they’re attracting customers. Kuranosuke wants the rest to draw up a poster but the rest drew their own fetish instead. At the end of the day, their jellyfish dolls are a sell-out! Tsukimi is in her room pondering over her mom’s words of becoming a princess. She unknowingly puts on white cloth around herself and pretends to be a princess when Kuranosuke walks in. He sees her as a stunning bride. She goes into hysteric mode while Kuranosuke confirms that he indeed has feelings for her. Each time he sees her or thinks about her, his heart clenches. Then he chokes on a dessert and the rest saw his fake boobs! Could it be?! Well, that’s just about what the rest thinks. Fake boobs. Nothing more. Elsewhere, Shuu is being blackmailed to accompany Shouko for a drink. She has no intention of leaving him alone as she keeps reminding him about the picture. He thinks he’s blackmailing him to get close to his father about the redevelopment project. Unknown to them, Sugimoto is tailing and snapping pictures of them. It’s like he’s got this stealth mode on that no matter how close he is, they don’t realize he’s there. Hanamori was to make a call to Sugimoto but he accidentally calls Shuu’s handphone and unknowingly says everything about the spying on Shuu and to get proof. Well, looks like the cat’s out of the bag. Tsukimi is so horrified that Kuranosuke saw her in that horrible drab, she hammers her head on the sink so hard! Same time, Kuranosuke wonders why she was wearing that and ponders if she is finally getting into the world of clothes. He remembers his mom showed him her wardrobe and her dream of filling it with all the gorgeous dresses in the world. He sees Tsukimi staring out of the window and tells her there’s nothing to be ashamed about. She mentions after making those jellyfish dolls, she remembered that her mom told her that she would make her a jellyfish-like dress, the reason she dressed like that. Kuranosuke tells her that they’ll be doing that so that they can use this money to buy this place.

Episode 9
While Hanamori chauffeurs Shuu and Shouko back to his home to meet his dad, Kuranosuke looks through Tsukimi’s books and sketches to get ideas for a jellyfish dress. Because of his horrible sketch, Tsukimi breaks and turns into a jellyfish geek, ranting what is right and wrong on what to do! Eventually it’s some flower hat jellyfish that Kuranosuke plans to use as his motif. Then Kuranosuke decides to discuss their strategy back at his room without interruption (can’t tell when the other Amamizu girls will barge in) but they see Hanamori’s car outside. Shouko puts up crocodile tears when Shuu starts doubting their relationship. Shuu brings his dad out as he meets Shouko and asks her straight that if they had gone all the way. Poor Shuu ran away while Tsukimi becomes distraught. Kuranosuke says it’s all a lie because he knows his brother is a virgin. Shouko starts to panic so much so she shows the blackmailing pic as proof (along with all the fake aliases she had as a sex cougar). Tsukimi becomes distressed upon seeing the pic and runs away in tears. She trips along the way. In her unconscious state, she dreams how her friends found her creepy of her jellyfish obsession. She dreams of being in a jellyfish field and thinks sleep will make her feel better but each time Shouko’s face pops up so it’s back to square one. Kuranosuke thinks hard on his motif and remembers when mom told him of all the beautiful dresses she has worn, she has never put on the wedding dress. He strikes an inspiration and decides to head over to Amamizu, bringing along only a wig. Meanwhile Shuu is seen having another drink with Shouko. She tells him that he likes to be under a thumb of a woman because if not, he wouldn’t be here. She says deep down, he wants to have sex with her again. Shuu’s dad and the PM are discussing on the new woman in his life. Apparently since it’s that developer, it’s going to complicate things. Dad thinks of sending him away overseas on a tour inspection and has Hanamori do some investigations while he’s gone. Tsukimi still can’t sleep so she sees Mejiro for advice: Booze. Say what? Well, she’s over the legal age. Mayaya and Banba think there is a thief in the kitchen but it turns out to be Tsukimi wanting to find something to drink. They give her drink a sweet sake and with just a sip, she’s out cold! Note that amazake are low in alcohol content and are made mainly out of fermented rice. She starts dreaming of frolicking in the jellyfish sea with Clara and feels like her mom picking her up to her bed. But it’s actually Kuranosuke in a bad drag.

Episode 10
Kuranosuke borrows Chieko’s sewing machine to make the dream dress. Tsukimi wonders how he knows she had fever the night before. Since he sucks in using the machine, he asks Chieko to help them sew. Chieko goes into her otaku mode telling the difference between Japanese and Western clothing cuttings and why it’s impossible for her to do so. Man, she’s sewing so fast that she’s the hummingbird of sewing! She can even sew without looking at the machine!!! How amazing is that! Shuu attends another of Shouko’s presentation but his mind is clouded of thoughts marrying Tsukimi and living the simple life so much so he falls off his chair. Kuranosuke buys a large cloth to make their dress. But Mayaya and Banba come in to cause their ruckus so he gives them money to leave them alone! Yeah, go buy something you like, will ya’. The duo are having a fun time on their spending spree but gets petrified when a hipster lady, Sara takes interest in Banba’s afro and even takes a pic of it! Kuranosuke lies on the cloth and wants Tsukimi to cut his outline. Meanwhile Shouko puts up another emotional act that he’s treating their relationship as a one night stand when Shuu isn’t amused that she’s following him again. She is pretty confident this tactic will have him come crawling back to her in a few days time but being the amateur virgin he is, Shuu panics and wants to reconsider. Shouko is surprised the events are unfolding too fast but plays it dumb but hailing a taxi to go away. The cloth is ruined so Chieko stitches back for them.

When Kuranosuke puts on the plain skirt, Tsukimi goes into her expert jellyfish fashionista mode again. It’s like she’s possessed as she does some amendments on the skirt. Not bad actually. Kuranosuke thinks of doing this back at his place since his brother will be leaving for a trip. However upon hearing that, Tsukimi gets disheartened and leaves. Kuranosuke convinces Chieko and Jiji to follow him back to his place (Tsukimi forced to come along too). Tsukimi seems uninterested to finish the dress as he tries to motivate her to continue. Chieko accidentally knocks a necklace off the table so Tsukimi suddenly gets an idea. Shuu tries to call Shouko many times but she’s not picking up. And when she does, he jumps to a conclusion that she’s going to do something rash by killing herself! He rushes over and to his horror, he sees her lifeless on a couch and a bottle of pills next to her. Then she wakes up and says it was all a joke. Shuu suddenly slaps her! But the most surprising one has to be he starts hitting her like a school kid! In tears too! When he comes back down, Hanamori thinks the girl is dead since he finished his business so fast and all the better to whisk him away to the airport. Of course she’s not dead. Tsukimi finishes her dress and Kuranosuke is stunned by the beauty of it. She has used the million-dollar necklace beads to make it as the dress’ accessory. Yeah, each pearl costs at least tenths of thousands. Though the necklace was given by his mom, it doesn’t matter because it was turned into a cute dress. As he puts on the dress, he looks very gorgeous in it (even though we know he’s a guy). He starts thinking if he was a girl, would he have gotten the chance to live with his mom. Mayaya and Banba return from their shopping spree but are shocked to see Amamizu sealed up, ready to be torn down.

Episode 11
Tsukimi is in awe with how Kuranosuke looks beautiful in the dress because he really looks like a Princess Jellyfish! She is inspired to create another dress and goes through his closet, takes out one and cuts his precious mom’s dress like nobody’s business! Scary! But I guess he wouldn’t mind since she has awakened. Chieko and Jiji take this chance to leave before it gets crazier. But when they get back to Amamizu, they see Mayaya and Banba trying to penetrate the sealed dorm. Tsukimi has finished her second pink jellyfish dress. Kuranosuke dreams of making it big, opening fashion stores around the globe with his brand strategy. But reality bites when Tsukimi accidentally pokes him with a needle. But it’s going to be more shocking because the Amamizu ladies come rushing back to inform of their dire predicament. Everyone is shocked to see Amamizu in that state. The girls plead to the workers to at least give them time to let them take out their precious belongings. However the workers tell them they are mistaken. They are not here to demolish Amamizu. It seems they’ve got the wrong address while asking directions from Sugimoto (who got the wrong picture from Hanamori). The actual tear down is a house a few blocks away. Chieko tries to call her mom about Amamizu but she abruptly hangs up and there is no further reply. When Tsukimi sees the excavator tearing down the other building, it hit her that Amamizu will soon meet this fate. She rushes back to Kuranosuke’s place and asserts that they need to make more jellyfish dolls so that they can make money and buy the place. Well, Chieko is doing fine with her fast hand, Jiji and Banba are barely coping while Mayaya has already given up and throwing tantrums. Can they make millions at this rate? Kuranosuke gets an idea to take a picture of Tsukimi’s dress and show it to the world via contest. He is confident the pros will love it. We see Sara looking through a bunch of photos for the contest entries. Then she spots Tsukimi’s dress and is awed. Actually, it was Banba’s afro she got excited about (her afro was covering half the picture). Meanwhile Shouko isn’t really herself. She’s got lots on her mind ever since she got slapped. Did she learn her lesson? More like she’s in a dilemma because now she has a crush on Shuu. Then they surprisingly meet at the airport but ignore each other. It seems the PM is also there though he is incognito. I guess with his popularity ratings going down further, nobody cares about that old guy. Yeah, so why not take this as a chance to go on a vacation? And Shouko is also on the same flight. She’s really like a high school girl in love, plucking flower petals to see if he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not. I think she needs to get more flowers.

The Amamizu ladies attend the fashion show contest (of course all dolled up) and since Mayaya is causing her usual antics, Banba’s wig fall off. Sara spots her afro and gets excited. Backstage, seems Sara and Kuranosuke know each other. Tsukimi lacks confidence that her brand will sell (how could anyone believe it will fly since she only made 2 dresses?). However Sara and the other models think her dress is pretty cute. As the models catwalk on the stage, it is Kuranosuke’s turn as he dazzles the crowd in a white jellyfish dress. Even Tsukimi is mesmerized. Looks like at the end, Tsukimi’s brand won in all categories so it’s time for the winner’s parade. Tsukimi is having cold feet of fitting into one of her dresses and going on stage. With the help of Chieko and Jiji, they dress her up but is she ready to go out? Kuranosuke holds her hand to calm her down. When the curtain finally rises, they are greeted with cheers. But the blinding stage lights remind Tsukimi of those beautiful jellyfish. But Tsukimi still gets stage fright and freezes. Sara wants to know the name of this winning brand so Kuranosuke asks Tsukimi what is jellyfish called in English. Back at Amamizu, Tsukimi is still traumatized and thinks she just had a near-death experience and saw the ‘light’! Kuranosuke tries to come up with a logo for the Jellyfish brand but couldn’t. The other girls tried to help too but they put their own fetish in the design. Not going to work. Tsukimi ponders that she doesn’t remember much during the contest except Kuranosuke holding her hand and him asking the jellyfish word. Kuranosuke goes to see Tsukimi in her room. She still has trouble looking at him when his face is too close. However he says he needs to do this even if he’s not cross-dressing since they are bound by fate now. She turns around looks at him but he starts to blush instead. He gets embarrassed of what he just said. She asks if this will work and he is confident it will. Just then, the doorbell rings and it is Chieko’s mom at the door. OMG! She’s a splitting image of her daughter! Like mother, like daughter. There are 2 Chiekos! How can you tell them apart?! Well, to me, mommy looks like that fat teacher lady in the Lat cartoons :p. The girls want her to reconsider about Amamizu but she says she returned to tell them that her Korean actor Yong (she’s a big fan of him) is moving to Japan so she doesn’t need to sell the dorm anymore. That time the non-communication was due to someone stepping on her phone and breaking it. However she misinterprets that the girls want it sold so she goes off to reconsider. Yeah, better chase her down while you can. Tsukimi narrates that she has come to Tokyo for 6 months and feels this metropolis is a wonderful place. She is sure more wonderful things will happen to her. Now, that’s the positive spirit. Hey, Mejiro too has drawn her own Jellyfish brand logo. If you ask me, I’d say it could have been better.

Everybody Is Beautiful
It didn’t feel very much like a satisfying ending. I’m not saying that it sucks but there were some issues that I was pondering at the end. So what about the redevelopment plan of the area? Chieko’s mom may not sell the building but still that doesn’t mean that the plan has been totally abandoned. You know, some people have invested lots of time and money and you just can’t let a group of otakus put the brakes on your plan. And is Shouko still in her real estate job? Why did she take a flight out of the country too? To forget her woes? Seems like her plan to seduce Shuu backfired as it is her who finds herself falling for him in the end. The ending also doesn’t give a clear indication about Shuu and Tsukimi’s feelings for each other. Has Tsukimi gotten over him after the shock of seeing that fake pic? Though we know Kuranosuke has feelings for Tsukimi, but I thought he would at least confess it to her in the end. That’s why for the chemistry department, it’s like this section has been thrown out the window when the series reaches its end. What about the reason Kuranosuke and his mom are separated? Where is she? I would love to know about that too. But the important thing is that everyone can continue to live together at Amamizu, doing the things they love as before. At least for now. I also wonder if Tsukimi and Kuranosuke will be going ahead designing more jellyfish dresses seeing that Chieko’s mom isn’t selling the building. Why not? Their first designs were a major hit!

Many of the characters especially the Amamizu ladies are an interesting lot. I won’t go so far to say that they have changed a lot, but they have made a little progress. One thing is for sure, they aren’t afraid of Kuranosuke anymore seeing that they are the kind of people who freaks out at any hipsters. Okay, so it may just be him that they aren’t afraid anymore but that’s a good start, right? For someone who can give you good quality meat, you’d be insane to reject his friendship. Tsukimi at the end of the series gains more confidence in herself as compared in the beginning. She may not see herself as a princess like her mom once said every girl would and prefers frolicking with jellyfish, but as long as she can be true to herself, I think that is more than enough for her to be a princess by her own means. Kuranosuke as the son of a politician seems to have everything in life. He’s rich, got a pretty face (enough for other girls to fight over and die for!) and the freedom to do what he wants in his life. Isn’t it mind boggling to not see the media snooping around him like a mad paparazzi? Probably he has been surrounded by so many beautiful people so much so when he saw how different Tsukimi was, he fell in love with something unusual. He finds it more interesting to hang out with these people because they are who they are rather than those who’d get close to him because they want something in return (though this point isn’t presented in the anime). Another mind boggling fact is that at times Kuranosuke’s identity came to very close to being busted. Sometimes too close that it’s right in front of their eyes. Whether his fake boobs drop off or they come straight into Tsukimi’s room while he has taken off his cross-dressing, with their ‘blurness’, he can assure that his identity as a female is safe in the eyes of the Amamizu girls. Plus, he has this penchant of using “Ore” (masculine form of “I”) and each time he does that, Tsukimi has to quickly cover him by shouting the Mexican “Ole! Ole!”. Secret safe alright.

I was hoping to catch who this Mejiro lady is but right till the very end, she’s someone that nobody could paint a face of her. So mysterious… Shuu as the rookie politician makes me wonder if he can survive the political arena. He’s too innocent and clean that it seems he could be eaten alive at any moment. He should’ve been a normal office worker. Another interesting character is Hanamori because of his utmost love for Mercedes Benz. He’d do anything for them. He’s so obsessed with the German car that he could sketch it so well but a simple drawing he could not. No matter how many times he sticks to his principles of not ratting out or revealing secrets, once you mention the magic word, he will make a total u-turn without a second thought! This guy is dangerous. Don’t share your secrets with him. Clara at times make her onscreen debut as a chibi jellyfish (sometimes I think she looked more like an alien with tentacles) as she explains certain stuff to viewers and introduce to us the most taboo word of the weekly Top 5 such as working, etc. I’m thinking with so much dislikes, man it’s hard for them to really integrate back into society.

The main point of this series is about inner beauty. Never judge a book by its cover. It doesn’t matter how you look on the outside but the contents of your heart that matters. Anybody can put on a fake and beautiful facade but can you be true to your heart? Only through testing times that one’s true character can be revealed. Another point is that everybody has a potential to look pretty and beautiful. See how clothes maketh a (wo)man? With just a little sprucing up, not anything heavy, can turn you from looking like a rundown shaggy person to a smart and sharp looking professional. It’s all in the looks. The way you dress partly helps to give you confidence but basically it’s still down to your self-confidence and if you put your mind to it, you can definitely do the impossible. Okay, maybe not everything. The Amamizu girls before and after image sure make them look like as though they are really different persons. Though Shuu doesn’t know Tsukimi’s real identity at the end, I wonder will he still like her if he finds out about it. Will he still accept her for who she is? In the end, even if the Amamizu ladies aren’t going to change, that is fine because it is what defines them. We should accept and embrace diversity rather than isolating others who are just different from the norm.

Kana Hanazawa displays her versatile voice of the various and different moods as Tsukimi. Whether she is depressed, in shock or just gone crazy, she absolutely did a good job to fit into her character. I was convinced that a guy would be voicing Kuranosuke because the voice didn’t sound high enough. Well, I was wrong. Mitsuki Saiga is the voice behind Kuranosuke (Phantom in MAR, Kousaka in Genshiken) and she does make her character sound exuberating with confidence. My favourite Mamiko Noto took a while for me to recognize because her character didn’t really speak much and even if she did, it was quite soft. Yeah, her character is something easily missed. Other casts include Kimiko Saito as Chieko (Ofuku in Basilisk), Akemi Okamura as Mayaya (Nami in One Piece), Motoko Kumai as Banba (Ginta in MAR), Junichi Suwabe as Shuu (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Junko Kitanishi as Shouko, Takehito Koyasu as Hanamori (Kururu in Keroro Gunsou) and Sumire Morohoshi as Clara. The opening theme is Koko Dake No Hanashi by Chatmonchy. To sum it up, it sounds like a tone deaf ten year old singing out of tune. I didn’t quite like it. But the opening credits animation is filled with Hollywood movie parodies like Star Wars, Mary Poppins and James Bond. However you don’t get to see any these parodies in the episode proper. Surprisingly the ending theme is striking enough to my liking. Kimi No Kirei Ni Kidzuiteokure by Sambomaster is a jazzy and filled with soul while the lead male vocal sounded like he is drunk and had too much. But it makes you want to get up and dance along. “Love is coming back… Love is coming ba-a-ack!”. Oh yeah. Of course the lyrics of the song is meaningful and it’s about realizing the beauty of her lover.

I can’t say that I have more favourable views of jellyfish as I still find them creepy (just like many other creatures). Just remember that being a geek or different doesn’t mean you are lesser than any other human beings. Each of us have our own fetish and weird (though some may term it as unique) hobbies. It all boils down to the individual. Usually it is the norms of society that discriminates. So I’m a 30 year old otaku bachelor still watching my favourite animes every week while most people I know are already married and getting on with their family life. Should I feel worried? Should I feel pressured? I know I’m happy doing what I love most.

Memories Off 3.5

November 19, 2011

If you are wondering why the third instalment of the Memories Off anime series is weirdly named this way, that’s because Memories Off 3.5 is what the game is also called. Okay, so perhaps the other reason is that the story is made up of 2 different love stories but overlapping characters. In fact, some of the characters do overlap and appear in other sequels of the game itself.  This time round, you’re not going to experience different alternate endings with the guy ending up with different girls but a straight-to-the-point drama romance. You can easily guess that the main guy and the main girl will end up together. Just that there are some little issues cropping up and how they overcome it before all’s well, ends well. We love this kind of happy romance stories, do we? At least I do. Why else keep watching the same ol’ genre year after year?

Omoide No Kanata E arc

Episode 1
Shougo Kaga dreams of his girlfriend Neo Kashima tempting him in bed. Too bad it was just a dream as she wakes him up for being late. Shougo meets up with Neo who works at Cubic Cafe along with his other friends. Hibiki Kodama is happy to see him and flirts with him but wheelchair-ridden Mifu says Shougo belongs to her sister Neo. It took long enough for that airhead to realize so she starts crying, blaming her love chameleon. Upon realizing that charm is missing, she dashes out to find it. Yeah. Shin Inaho even suggested he be her boyfriend but she’s clearly not interested. Neo has Shougo taste a yoghurt mousse which turns out to be from a rival store. Seems it has received good ratings in a magazine too. Neo is not amused that they are stealing their ideas and stealing their customers and wants to investigate. Shin proposes that he has an idea and to leave it up to him since if left to the duo, they’ll be like scouting around. As Shougo cycles his way, he nearly crashed into a yellow car. Thankfully nothing happened. He meets up with Neo and Shin and recognizes the yellow car. Turns out to be Shizuru Shirakawa and her sister Hotaru (from Memories Off 2nd). They apologize for their reckless driving and it seems they are the people Shin has ‘recruited’ to investigate. Shin, Shizuru and Hotaru go off so Shougo and Neo kill time by spending time together. Back at Cubic cafe, Hotaru tastes the puddings and though feels Cubic Cube’s is better, she still prefers her sister’s. Neo suggests to the cafe’s owner Tanaka to get a write-up in the magazine but he said though reporters came, he turned them down. He is happy with the customers he has now.

That night after the cafe is closed, Shougo cycles Neo home to catch some drama. His mind starts to wander, remembering a similar girl he once dated, Kanata Kurosu. Luckily Neo snaps him out before they crash into a construction area. Thankfully only his front rim is crooked. Neo stays at Shougo’s place for the night. Can’t say if anything passionate happened. What are the chances if you see a girl just dressed in an unbuttoned long sleeved shirt? That evening, Shin seems to be discussing with his pals to put up a surprise birthday bash for Tanaka, which is 2 days away. Suddenly Kanata comes in. Shougo is surprised by the sight of her. Now you can tell a lot by Neo’s look that she is deeply troubled. Call it a woman’s intuition. Seems everyone else knows about Kanata since she is a popular model. Shougo didn’t know because he doesn’t watch TV. Say what? Flashbacks reveal how Shougo first met Kanata in a train. Her skirt was stuck in the door and he accompanied her till the end. Then they hit it off, dating and possibly more. Yeah, even sex. Maybe. Then she broke it off and went away. However Kanata is here not to see Shougo but talk to Tanaka. Even Shin can guess Shougo is bloody troubled. But whatever it is, don’t make Neo cry. That’s not possibly seeing that this is a drama romance show. It’s bound to spill a few buckets of tears. Later Shougo tells Neo about Kanata but she’s okay with it. Really? Can you sense the sadness in her smile? Obviously Shougo still can’t get Kanata out of her mind. At least the sex part. Yeah, he is seeing visions of her tempting him to come to bed with her. Did that really happened? Or is it his mind just went crazy? Shougo and Neo go shopping but he gets distracted by Kanata’s recently released music video. That was enough to make Neo increase her worry level. Mifu tries to cheer her up by giving Neo a pair of tickets to the movies.

Next day at Cubic Cafe, seems Kanata is there too but she’s not bothering them. Shougo accepts the movie tickets from Neo. That night as everyone prepares for Tanaka’s party, he never showed up. Two hours later, everyone is still waiting. Then Hotaru gets a call from the police. Tanaka and Kanata are injured in a car accident and are at the hospital right now. Kids, remember no matter how much you are in the rush, never speed on a bicycle in the pouring rain. When Shougo, Neo and Shin arrive, they see Kanata walking in a daze. How the heck did the hospital staff let a patient wander outside the building at this hour? She is heavily bandaged and when asked about Tanaka, when a woman can only answer you in tears, you know what this means, right? Kanata breaks down and cries so hard that Shougo had to embrace to console her. Oh Neo, this is not the time to worry about those petty things. Oh wait, sorry. I guess she can’t help it.

Episode 2
Shougo and co attend Tanaka’s funeral. He notices a map in Shin’s pocket. They are marked places that Tanaka travelled to. Kanata continues acting in her drama while Neo continues to feel gloomy. Kanata comes over to Shougo’s place one day on pretence to help her out with her drama script. Then she gets bored and rests on his back on a while before leaving. Shizuru, Hotaru and Shougo see off Shin at the train station. He is going to make a map that is better than Tanaka’s. As Shougo walks back, he sees his friend Shinkurou Rikimaru AKA Maguro lively working at the fish store with Tamaki Momose helping out. He wonders if he is okay like this and that if he can just forget all that has happened. Maguro believes Tanaka won’t be happy if they put on a sad face. Plus, Tamaki said Maguro has been crying a lot since his dad too died in a car accident. Maguro has confidence that Shougo will recover since he is not a weak person. Cubic Cafe is temporarily closed. Shougo meets Yue Imasaka. He apologizes for eavesdropping her and Tanaka talking about their childhood friend times. She also speaks metaphorically about Tanaka like the rain. Though it’s hard at first and tough to forget, that memory is also important. Shougo feels it’ll be hard for him to think like her but she says they have to accept reality and these things take time. Neo’s depression is so obvious that it annoys Mifu. She even threatens to take Shougo away if she continues like this. Of course she won’t. She finishes knitting a scarf and gives it to big sister so that she can give to Shougo.

Neo goes watch a movie alone. At the end, she sees becomes happy upon seeing Shougo as they both embrace. They also apologize to each other for not believing in each other enough.  Shougo comes clean and makes clear his feelings for her. He was afraid to face the truth because he was scared he would hurt her. But now he has sorted his feelings and that she is the only one he loves from the bottom of his heart. Neo takes a shower and change at his place. After she leaves, Kanata pays him a visit. She is dressed in a nostalgic school uniform. Then she starts undressing and tempts Shougo to make love. Tempting indeed but Shougo is strong enough to reject her. He’s now a different person. Kanata buttons up and leaves in her cheery self. Shougo and Neo date during the Christmas season. She gives him the knitted scarf, albeit it is a little too long. Then he gets a call from Kanata to meet. Must he? But Neo is okay with it and will wait for him because she will no longer run away. Shougo meets Kanata at the bridge, the place where they broke up. She tells him that she is going overseas and will be away for a long time. Shougo starts spouting about change and memories. But the Kanata in his heart will not disappear even if she will change into one that is no longer the same in his memory. Before he could rant a speech lasting for hours, she puts her finger on his lips. What does she has to say? The scarf doesn’t suit him. I guess this means goodbye, eh? Shougo goes back to Neo. She wonders if she’ll turn into his memories. He replies she’s doing that right now. But she is the one he will always want to be with. They embrace and he wraps his scarf around her neck. Hey, it’s long enough, right?

Six months later, Cubic Cafe’s rival, at Narazu-ya Cafe, Isshu Sagisawa and Nonoha Haya notice their owner in a gloomy mood. Nonoha goes into some scientific rant about the Moon (light and darkness reflecting thingy and no air. Damn science!) because his back looks like its Sea of Tranquillity. Inori Misasagi comes rushing in to hand him his test review sheet he forget. He isn’t too happy since he has to study now. However it’s not nice to disappoint somehow who ran all the way to bring you something so he treats her to a drink. Then Shizuru comes in and Isshu realizes she is looking for a part time job and brings her to see the owner. Inori recognizes her.

Inori No Todoku Koro arc

Episode 3
Inori invites Isshu to go to the Ashikajima Fireworks Festival with her but he declines citing busy with his work. He chose his job over a girl? Well, it’s not like they’re officially dating or anything. Though Inori is okay with it, you can tell by her sad face that she isn’t. Shin pays Narazu-ya Cafe a visit. He did say he still doesn’t like this place but with Shizuru as assistant manager, the place is coming nicely about it. He also teases Isshu for looking at other girls when he already has a pretty girlfriend when the latter’s mind starts to wander. Of course he denies all of that. Then Sayori Rikimaru passes by. She’s going to the festival but with Yukari Sagisawa. Shin teases her about her boyfriend. She gets worked up and denies having one at all. Her body language indicates she likes Shin. Nonoha brings Karin Hanamatsuri to the cafe on her day off. They talk about Kanata who hasn’t returned yet since she’s busy. Back home, Inori is deeply troubled of Isshu’s decline. See, it’s really getting to her. Sayori and Yukari patron the festival. Sayori thinks Isshu can’t come because he’s staying with his girlfriend. Yukari didn’t like her saying that so she gets back at her about the person she likes. Sayori flusters and walks away. Inori walks alone on the beach. She remembers the time she and Isshu were fixing some furniture at the chapel. He injured his finger and since it was bleeding, she instinctively sucked it before pulling back upon realizing what she’s doing. They rest for a while. She says to always come here to watch the fireworks together. They start holding hands and the mood seems to be right so they got their faces close to each other. Before they could really kiss, the bench broke and they fell off. Bad workmanship? Or God didn’t want to make them do anything unholy? Anyway they laughed it off.

Miyabi Fujiwara beats a senpai in a kendo match. She tells them all not to get cocky and never let her do useless training. Seems she doesn’t like doing club activities during summer vacation and prefers staying at home. Hotaru is coaching Inori on piano. Seems she also becomes her love coach, offering advice to low self-esteem Inori. Seems she is afraid of confessing because she’s happy that they’re friends now and if the confession fails, they won’t be even that anymore. But Hotaru advises to quickly confess or else some other girl will end up stealing Isshu away. Hotaru relates her own love problems with Ken and how she overcame it. She encourages Inori to confess and ask him out to the festival. Back home, Hotaru tries to perk up her confidence and prays on her Buddhist charm, Souchin-yan to give her the courage to confess. As she is walking on the streets, she is happy to see Isshu coming out from his workplace. However that turns to despair and all her courage down the drain when she sees a girl running up to Isshu as he pats her on the head. She gets so disheartened that she is convinced he is seeing some other girl. Was she that shocked that she had to drop her umbrella?

Episode 4
That girl turns out to be Yukari. She’s here to pick Isshu up. We see her onii-chan complex because she got so happy when he says to share the umbrella when she forgot to bring another one. However Yukari will soon be left in despair as Isshu leaves her after thinking he can’t leave Inori like that after spotting her turning away so abruptly. He catches up to her and soon Inori asks who the other woman is. Isshu can even joke that he got caught with something embarrassing. When Inori wonders if she is his lover, he gives off a heartily laughter and lets her know she’s his sister. Now do you feel relieved? Inori manages to ask him out to the festival and to her surprise he agrees. Isshu meets up with Inori and compliments her yukata, causing her face to go red. They had their fun as Inori thinks the place is too crowded and wants to go somewhere quieter. She spots Yukari and Sayori and panics so she takes Isshu to turn around and go somewhere else. Sayori thought she saw Isshu and starts ranting how cool Yukari’s brother is. Perhaps she crosses the line when she says he may be having a lover. Yukari throws a fit and starts hitting her like a kid. Hotaru is out with Ken and sees Inori with Isshu. She gets happy and starts hugging surprised Ken while asserting how much she loves him. Inori’s confidence must be fluctuating like the unstable share market about advancing her relationship with Isshu. She mentions they can’t get a good view of the fireworks so Isshu brings her to the chapel at the top of the hill. Isshu then said the most heart-breaking words ever. Though this is his favourite place, he has never brought anyone here. Eh? Did he forget he was here fixing stuff with her? Was the bump on his head hard enough to make him forget when he fell? Was it another guy? WTF?! It’s no surprise that Inori starts shedding a tear or two. As they watch the fireworks, she asks him if she could hold his hand. After that, she confesses that she likes him and collapses into his arms. She also gets the green light to make this her favourite place.

Then the scene changes as we see Inori alone at the chapel. Wait a minute?! Was it all something that happened in the past?! Was it all just a dream?! That’s because Isshu is working at Narazu-ya. Shizuru wonders if he’s okay not going and yeah, he’s being a hero by agreeing to it. Obviously his spacing out is so obvious that even Shin seems pretty annoyed that he’s not honest to himself. Isshu is surprised to see Nonoha in her uniform seeing that today is her day off. She will gladly cover his shift. Nonoha starts spouting about that dark of the sea on the Moon (I don’t really get it). Shizuru agrees that it’s no good to make a girl cry. With that, Isshu gets permission to get lost. Oops, I mean to go over to where he’s supposed to go. He races all the way to the chapel. He passes by Yukari and Sayori. The latter thought she spotted him. Yukari’s interest peeked but falls into despair when Sayori says he’s already gone. Isshu reaches the chapel but doesn’t find Inori there. Actually, she’s hiding behind a tree. Why? She thought a stranger was coming. Though she’s surprised that he turned up, she becomes glad that he did. They both embrace and watch the fireworks. He agrees with her that they’ll be together from now on.

Memories On…
What the? The love issues here are so simple that it doesn’t amount to anything serious. So simple that you don’t feel that their relationship is threatened at all. Take for instance the first arc. Kanata returns. Shougo still has memories of her. But after a short failed flirting, she goes away. The end. So why the heck did she return for? Perhaps she has something to do with Tanaka but that case is history since he’s a goner now. By the way, news of Tanaka’s accident and death was the most distressful one. I don’t sense the ‘danger’ of Shougo being taken away (even with all the tempting) so perhaps it’s just all in Neo’s mind. Then for the second arc, it was just Inori’s memories of spending good times watching the fireworks with Isshu but when she learns this year he can’t make it, she turns into a worrywart. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be concern if your boyfriend has something else to do on that special day but the way they show it lacks any punch to make me feel there is some sort of a strain or tension in their relationship.

I know the Memories Off boasts lots of other female characters as part of the game mechanics. However in the anime adaptation, they seem redundant. It’s like they try to fit in all the girls but it ends up and feels like as though they’re just doing it to fill in time or else the main love story could actually end in just 10 minutes or less. For example, that Hibiki girl just appeared in the first scene and then when she scoots off, you’ll never see her again. You’d be wondering who the heck is she, what the heck was her appearance, impact and prominence for? Comic relief? Then Miyabi’s kendo scene had no relation whatsoever to the story. It was so independent of everything else so much so in fact it could actually be left out and have no impact on everything. Then for Karin’s case, she was just hanging around with Nonoha. See, there is no relevance for these girls to even appear in the first place except for the fact to tell viewers that the producers haven’t really left them out (so fans of those girls won’t get mad, I think) and to make the OVA longer. Yukari is the most amusing one because of her onii-chan complex. I wished she had more funny scenes because the love story seems to be a drab but she manages to put a smile on my face with her comic relief. Nobody loves Isshu like she does. Now she’s got a rival in Inori so it’s time to let your brother fly, little girl.

As the anime produced way back in year 2004, the animation quality and standard is not as good but it’s an improvement from the first one. However the drawing, art and animation for both story arcs differ so much so I was wondering if this Shin guy is actually the same person in both stories. Plus, some of the recurring characters like Yue looked totally different than she was from the previous adaptation so I too thought if this was the same Yue back then. Remember, this game which the OVA is based on has characters overlapping in different stories. For the first arc, the characters’ drawings looked simple but come the second arc, they look much better with slightly more details given. I don’t have any qualms with the voice acting but I feel that some of the characters’ voice doesn’t fit. For instance, Yukari has that deadpan ominous look (which grey haired girl wouldn’t?) but when she sounds like your energetic onii-chan complex loli, it somehow doesn’t fit. Then for Sayori, she sounded slightly more mature for her age. The opening theme is Dry Words Dry Maker by Asumi Masano, a rock pop piece (which was also used as the promo video clip for Kanata). Maybe it’s my hardware because I feel the bass lines were too ‘deep’. The ending piece is Shining Star by Ayumi Murata, which is a slow rock.

Perhaps the underlying theme for this OVA is just like in its series’ name: Memories. Shougo had memories of dating Kanata but they broke up for reasons unknown while Inori had memories of times spent with Isshu and is worried if she could continue to make more beautiful memories with him. A person need not be gone to be turned into memories. You just need to enjoy the moment and that’s enough for you to make everlasting memories. Unless you have bad memory, that is. It’s sad that the third instalment turned out to be a yawn fest and thus nothing unique or memorable for me. But I guess you have to play the game if you want to appreciate everything from the scenarios to the characters. Now I need to recall good memories of good animes I have watched to replace this one.

Asobi Ni Iku Yo OVA

November 18, 2011

Well, they actually live up to its series’ name this time. Asobi Ni Iku Yo OVA is just more than the Catian bombshells from the sky coming down to Earth to play games only peculiar to this globe, but also as part of their research and better understanding the games that people play. I’m sure you can see from a mile coming that if you’re going to play games with humans, it’s either you expect some cheating or some ‘bend’ in the laws and natures of the original game to spice and make things more interesting. This one is more of the latter. Yeah, expect some tits showing scenes to make you laugh and satisfy your inner horniness of girls in cat outfits. So will they understand the basics at the end? My guess is that entirely, no. Because they’re simply not just humans…

At the start, we see the ever-mysterious Ichika paying a visit to a family restaurant called Kokkoroko House, supposedly famous for its superb roast chicken recipe. Yum, I would like to try that out. But we’re not here for the food, right? Albeit a different kind of ‘food’ to feast on. Inside, she feels the tense atmosphere as Kio, Manami, Aoi, Eris and Antonia in an intense card game. It all began somewhat this morning. The Catian quartet of Kuune, Melwin, Chaika and Durel are playing mahjong. Not just any mahjong. Strip mahjong. Durel is on a winning strip and the only one who hasn’t stripped because games based on strategies and tactics are her forte. However they strip without knowing the significance of doing so. See, what did I tell you? And they just went on playing and playing without giving a second thought about their modesty. If only outsiders were to see the busty feline babes. And thus our human counterparts like Aoi, Manami, Kio and Antonia are tasked into helping out because Eris couldn’t understand many of the rules. Have you ever heard reading the rule book or Google it? Ah well, it goes to show that it’s more effective when you play it first-hand. You’d understand better that way.

Of course, Manami would love to spice things up by including rewards for winners. No fun if you play a game with many players without any sort of reward or punishment in the end, right? Yeah, everyone will be serious to get that reward. Now for them to sponsor the prizes. Antonia offers a suitcase full of cash! But I guess they’re feeling guilty so they settle for her miniature model of Eris. Guaranteed to send fans of Eris go wild. Next, a research DVD of the movie club. Boring. Not just any DVD. It’s filled with footages of Kio! From sleeping to changing clothes! It’s like he’s been watched! Of course we know which girls want that disc badly. Oh Kio, you’re so screwed if they win that one. Yeah, not like he’s going to lose anything if they see anything. Really? The prize from Eris turns out to be 3 chocolate wild cats. Erm… I hope it’s their look that is just ugly and horrible. Finally, another DVD staring Aoi and Manami as teenagers in an obscene battle! Yeah, it’s those footage during the time the girls raided Antonia’s ship in head-turning bikinis by that gay baldie director Takao Kawasaki. Apparently they had dozens of spy cameras on board the boat. Bunny Amazons of Hell vs Slave Girls Group? WTF?! I guess the film is already successfully made, eh? Kio takes this opportunity to get back at the girls saying that they’ll have nothing to lose if he sees anything. Plan backfired. Now the stakes are set, it’s game time! Fast forward to where we are now at the card game. Antonia is finding a number 6 card but AssistDroid no. 6 turns up instead. In her frustration, she hits it away and into Ichika, interrupting her chicken meal. And back to Kuune’s group, they’re playing poker and as usual, Durel is the only one fully clothed. Yeah, the rest are close to nothing. Poker needs brains? Not luck meh?

Back to Eris’ section, they’re playing some pun card game. Manami is a bad liar so Kio could see through her as she accumulates all the cards that were thrown in. In the end, Kio wins. What prize is he going to choose? Aoi and Manami are dreading their most embarrassing moment will be seen. However, he plays it safe by taking back the research DVD. Well, there goes their hopes of seeing naked Kio. But at least they still have a reason to fight for. Meanwhile at the movie club in school, a pair of movie club female members tell Maki about their idea of making a sci-fi movie. Maki went on giving suggestions the kind of futuristic and abstract looks aliens should be but the girls would prefer something simpler. Like Eris, because she exists for real. Then Yuichi comes in and is looking for both the girls. They seem pretty excited for being called.

Elsewhere back at Eris’ group, Antonia wins a twisted version of Monopoly (Nahapoly?) because of her skill in acquiring assets and accumulating wealth. That’s a rich girl for you. Everyone else is bankrupt! So the prize she chose? Eris’ miniature model! She sure loves Eris very much. A short diversion as we see Jens and Muttley playing chess. Obviously Jens has to lose or else there is no motivation for us to watch her strip, right? Besides, why the hell do we want to see a Dogisia AssistDroid strip for? Moving on to a Twister game, Eris and co are really in a bind. Even more so for Kio. Because everywhere he turns to, he will end up in some ecchi position with one of the girls. Is Aoi’s butt nice to look at? What about Manami’s boobs? During Eris’ turn, she has to put a body part on a spot and chooses to use her tail. However she ends up ‘suffocating’ over Kio. Manami initially disagrees with the move but after seeing Kio getting a nice time, she allows Eris to use her tail. It sweeps Aoi’s butt so she panics and causes everyone but Eris to fall. With 2 prizes left, which will she choose? The chocolates! This means it’s all down to the embarrassing movie. The last game will be rock-scissors-paper. Coincidentally, Kuune’s group is also playing this and for the first time Durel is stripping because it is based on luck. Now we get to see her tits. Life is fair, eh?

Now as for the rest, this is a very odd phenomenon. Kio has his eyes blindfolded so that he won’t get to see the girls naked. However, he is on a hot winning streak!!!!! NOT FREAKING LOSING ONCE!!! Even if Ichika and both of Antonia’s maids are playing, Kio is the only one fully clothed! The odder part is that all the girls have the tendency to show the losing hand sign at the same time! Are their thoughts that alike? Kio, you one lucky bastard! With another win for Kio, Antonia removes her cat ear piece but Manami isn’t happy and wants her to take off her panties instead. In the struggle, Manami trips and accidentally removes Kio’s blindfold. This is the best present he has ever won! But was it worth it? Yeah, apart from all the face bruises he got (thankfully nobody mentioned about they can’t get married anymore except to him), Kio takes the research DVD. But he gives it to Manami and Aoi. He feels that they both starred in it and that they should watch it first. On one condition: They’ll have to let him watch later. So, just delaying the inevitable, eh? But as Ichika narrates, Aoi and Manami’s nightmare isn’t over. We see Yuichi and the rest watching that crappy obscene battle movie with crappy voiceovers and effects. He praises the girls for their good acting and would recommend them to Kawasaki if needed, making them both feel happy. However Maki feels frustrated and won’t accept this. I guess she’s the kind who doesn’t like Godzilla-like creatures as her alien as seen in the movie.

Still Fooling Around?
So have they learnt any lesson from playing Earth games? I’m not too sure about it but I can guarantee that they all had fun. For the stripping part, of course it won’t be so fun if you’re the one who have to strip, right? It boggles me why they didn’t try some educational games. Then I remembered, we’re supposed to have our fanservice here. So remember, if you want to play such striptease games, make sure you play with the right people. Or else… What is seen, cannot be unseen.

There is something about Ichika that I noticed. In the TV series, she was so mysterious that nothing much was known about her. In this OVA, it’s not like we know her more but did you notice during the final game where everyone strips, she had cat ears and tails too?! That means, she’s a Catian?! Well, at least we know where she’s from. I’m also not sure if there is another OVA coming up because there is an ending teaser which sees Aoi and Manami accidentally getting Eris’ top and tail respectively while they race to grab a flag in the sand. Then some message in a bottle stuck between Eris’ cleavage while Aoi shrieks in fear. Is it her humongous boobs she’s freaking out off? So the title of the next episode “Attara ii na” (I hope it’s there) doesn’t mean anything?

I didn’t have good memories of the TV series but if they do mindless OVAs like this (and probably after a long time), then I would welcome it very much. Unless if they want to make a sequel, they better put in better plot so as not to feel ‘irritated’. Oh, on a trivial note, I recently found out that the official English title for this series is Cat Planet Cuties. WTF?! Well, I guess it sounds less naughty than “I Came To Play: Bombshells From The Sky”. Even though, the content is what we already well expected, right?

Comic Party Revolution

November 13, 2011

When you talk about doujinshi, animes that come to mind are Genshiken, Doujin Work and Otaku No Video. Comic Party Revolution fits under this bill as well. Actually, this is the sequel to the Comic Party series and the reason why I went straight into the sequel was because I couldn’t find any decent shows of it around. Even if there were, they’re all dubbed. You know me and dubs. We’re like cats and dogs. It’s not that I’m going to lose a lot if I don’t watch the first season, right? That depends. But who cares anyway. I just wanted to know more about the doujin world. Not that I’m really keen of entering it but after my experience watching some of the titles as mentioned earlier on, I am just curious to find out how different this is or how strikingly similar everything are. Behold! The world of the doujin otaku…

Based from what I read, the first season is about this university guy, Kazuki Sendou and his childhood friend-cum-university-mate, Mizuki Takase living a pretty normal university life till Kazuki’s scheming buddy Taishi Kuhonbutsu drags him into the world of doujin. Once you check in, you can’t check out. So this Kazuki got fascinated and addicted into drawing his own doujin so much so he cares about the next convention rather than completing his homework. But Mizuki, the kind of girl who hates all those otaku stuff is adamant to bring them back to their normal lives. Can they? Watching from this sequel, I can definitely guess Kazuki didn’t really go back to those good ol’ days. Looks like you’ve got to try harder, Mizuki. If not, if you can’t beat them, join them. No way!

As I further found out about this sequel, it was supposed to be only a 2 episode OVA but was subsequently expanded to 4 episodes. However they decide to adapt it to a TV series but the thing is, the first 4 episodes are exactly the same as the OVAs. It’s like repeating the same thing over the TV, eh? So how would those who have bought the DVD prior on feel? I don’t know? Maybe it’s the kick of rewatching such shows. As compared to the first season, this sequel does not follow any particular storyline so you can say each episode can serve as a standalone. Yeah, you don’t have to crack your head worrying about missing the plot if you skipped an episode. Plus, some of the minor characters are given more screen time so that fans of that character can go squealing in glee. Oops. I mean, for us to appreciate their presence more.

Episode 1
Kazuki is manning a booth at Comic Party AKA ComiPa doujin convention (parody of Comiket). He notices Aya Hasebe gloomy because everyone is bypassing her booth. Even her lane! Kazuki’s friend, Subaru Mikage (“Pagyuu~!”) pays him a visit. He tells her about Aya’s predicament. She reads her doujin, gets excited, takes a liking, becomes her instant fan and buys her work. Then when being told that nobody else bought it, she thinks there is some conspiracy. She pinpoints to be some huge muscular gangster-looking guy, Yuuzo and gets ready to exorcise him in her miko outfit. However she is taken away by the official, Minami Makimura for causing a ruckus. Next day, Aya pays Kazuki a visit to get help to finish her manuscript before the next event. Subaru also comes by and also Yuu Inagawa who gladly offers her advice. Then it’s Eimi Ooba turn but since she and Yuu can’t get along, they argue and cause a pen to be stuck in Kazuki’s forehead! He kicks them out. Next ‘teacher’ to come in is Taishi (he came out from underneath Kazuki’s bed!). Proclaiming to be Kazuki’s eternal brother, he tries to kiss him! Of course he gets kicked out too (probably getting beaten up with a bat with nails too). Next ‘teacher’ turns out to be cosplay fanatic Reiko Haga as she puts Aya on several cosplay costumes. Some familiar ones like ToHeart and Utawarerumono. Then with Aya in a swimsuit, Yuu teases Kazuki and hits him, causing him to fall onto Aya. When childhood friend, Mizuki comes in to let him try her stew, she sees them in an uncompromising position. Hey, why is everybody else there too? She gets upset and beats him up before dashing out the door. While Kazuki is recovering from his pain, the rest are eating Mizuki’s stew! That’s it everybody! Get out!

Aya pays Subaru a visit the next day so that they can finish their manuscript. However Kazuki got a fever and collapses onto her lap after spilling his drink all over his manuscript. Aya nurses him back to health but he wants to help her finish her manuscript. So they make a deal that he will continue to rest and will help out once his fever comes down. They work hard and eventually manage to finish it. On the day of the convention, Subaru puts up bright lights over their booths. Due to some logic that bugs will be attracted to lights. Is she referring otakus as insects?! Anyway the whole thing got taken down and she taken away by Minami. As usual, everyone bypasses Aya’s booth. A couple of otaku jerks start taking unauthorized pictures of Aya (she’s in a cute cat maid outfit). They ignore Kazuki who is telling them off. When Subaru comes by, she sees Aya in a pinch and goes into her exorcist mode and sends the duo flying into the ceiling with her ultimate Daieryuu Evening Whirlwind Technique. Though she got taken away once more by Minami. But the ruckus has attracted the attention of everyone so Kazuki takes this opportunity to advertise. Some customers have a look at Aya’s book and some are impressed. Though at the end of the day Aya’s sales aren’t much, she is happy that she has more readers now. Then they meet Subaru, who by the way hasn’t sold a single book of hers. Kazuki thinks it’s Subaru’s turn to get help. But the thing is, everyone is converging at Kazuki’s place with their usual ruckus.

Episode 2
Eimi is devastated that she’s the only one who has to attend summer classes. Taishi spots Eimi staring at a poster intensely and thinks she’s aiming for world domination! Actually she’s looking at a beach poster and yearns very much to have fun in the sand. At Kazuki’s place, Eimi forces him to want to go to the beach so she will have to tag along. However he teases her about summer classes. I’m not sure about her consulting a badass cigar-smoking Moroccan penguin mascot on her monitor about the beach and summer classes. He tells her all she needs to do is not let others know about her summer classes. So as Eimi is on her way to class, she spots Subaru and panics. She tries to hide and when Subaru spots her, she pretends she didn’t see Eimi and walks away (because she’s giving her that evil look). Same thing with Mizuki but with a poster board? Eimi tries to put on sunglasses and a mask as disguise but Chisa Tsukamoto recognizes her and starts fearing her. Seems she’s standing in the middle of the road. Chisa runs pass her while Eimi is left stranded in the middle of traffic. Unknown to Eimi, Taishi and Yuu are observing her every move via cameras everywhere. Consulting the penguin once more, he chides her for her weak disguise and suggests a more thorough one. Next day, Eimi wears a foreigner drab but it seems Chisa could still recognize this fake French chick. Then outside a store, Minami spots her and gives her a lecture about not worrying others. Too bad Eimi didn’t stay long for her long boring speech. I’m not sure about this but Eimi accidentally bumps into Yuuzo who tells her to be careful of his huge swimming trunks he dropped. Isn’t that sexual harassment.

Back to the penguin, he tells her that everyone she ran into is making a fool of her since she may be the only one who hasn’t gone to the beach. To make sure Kazuki hasn’t leaked this secret to everyone else, Eimi rushes to find him and sees him working at the doujin store. However she can’t confront him since she’s in her school uniform. But she’s having paranoia that Kazuki plans on going to the beach with the other girls except her. Meanwhile Taishi calls Subaru, Mizuki, Chisa and Minami to a meeting with him and Yuu. It’s about Eimi’s weird actions and he tells them of her ruthless plan to conquer the world! However he is confident she hasn’t arrived at the final destination yet, which is Kazuki. Kazuki finds Eimi sitting dejectedly outside his door. She comes crying into his arms. But Taishi and co confront them as he mentions about her world domination ambition. Seems the other girls have their own misinterpretation of Eimi’s world domination like space colony, dictator and even a secret evil company. WTF?! The girls ‘interrogate’ Eimi about her plans so she reveals about her intention to go to the beach. With that, the other girls turn to Taishi and he’s going to need a very good explanation of the predicament he has gotten them into. No need for that. Just beat him up. Kazuki finds out Eimi was hiding for it from him so he would keep his promise. Eimi throws a tantrum about wanting to go to the beach and even rants about her ideal beach. She and Yuu get into an argument since the former didn’t make it clear earlier on which landed them in lots of unnecessary trouble. And when Eimi finally manages to go to the beach with Kazuki, she’s embarrassed to come out due to her swimsuit. After all that trouble…

Episode 3
Yuu and Eimi are upset that they got the same booth number for the ComiPa. Of course as Minami notes there is some mistake but it can’t be helped now. Since they aren’t willing to give way, the only way to decide is via baseball match. Yup, winner gets it. Yuu goes on a member recruiting spree and beats Eimi to recruit Kazuki first, even if that guy doesn’t know what’s going on. She then goes on to ‘persuade’ others to join her like Taishi (volunteered), Mizuki (reluctantly), Chisa (promised to book lots of printing), Subaru (because Kazuki said so) and Reiko Haga (instantly agreed). While they have amassed 7 members and needing 2 more, Reiko brings 3 of her pals to sew clothes. Yuu takes this chance to force them to join her team. Hey, now she has 10 members! First training that Yuu gives to her team is to read baseball manga! WTF?! Then everyone starts fantasizing their own ideal baseball manga fantasy. I don’t think this is going anywhere. On match day, Yuu and her team meets Eimi and hers. Seems Eimi has that otaku pair, Yuuzo and Aya. Hey wait a minute. Taishi and Chisa defected to her team? Chisa’s reason something about her side will book more printing orders? With Minami as the umpire, the match starts with an opening ceremony. What? Yeah, a ball toss from a popular idol Asahi Sakurai. She pitches a throw to start the match but the otakus and Taishi start fighting among each other to bat her ball. When Yuu makes Asahi part of her team, those 3 guys request to transfer team. Rejected! So it’s Yuu’s Rockers vs Eimi’s Penguins. Expect lots of antics, passion and clumsiness as they bat and pitch their way through the games.

Aya’s pitch may be soft but her ball glides over the bat so nobody could hit them. Mizuki faces off with Yuuzo but each time he hits a homerun. She got tired after pitching all day. Her teammates are concerned but after some flashback about making some promise not to give up to her coach (who the heck is he?), she continues to pitch. Penguins are in the lead so Yuu calls an emergency player, Ikumi Tachikawa to counter Aya’s miracle ball. She came straight out from the ambulance from the hospital! She can even barely stand! As Yuu explained, Ikumi is their secret weapon since they need somebody wishy-washy to hit a wishy-washy ball. Huh? Yuuzo is moved to see Ikumi going to great lengths in the game and is ‘paralyzed’ (because she’s his little sister). Though Ikumi is able to counter Aya’s ball, it is   a soft ball but heading towards Yuuzo’s way. However he could only stand there in tears thinking how brave front Ikumi is putting. Yeah, he can’t catch her ball. Thus letting Yuu’s team win. Then on the final face-off between Eimi and Yuu, Penguins could’ve won if Yuuzo didn’t get ‘affected’ by Ikumi’s ‘brave performance’. In the end, the total scores have both teams draw. Yuu and Eimi demand a rematch but it seems everybody has already left the field. So what the heck is this match for anyway?! In the end, Yuu and Eimi are forced to share their booth and they are more preoccupied quarrelling about invading each other’s space rather than serving their customers. Minami thinks they get along so well that they should’ve done this in the first place. Save all the baseball trouble, eh?

Episode 4
Minami is put in charge of organizing Asahi’s concert for the next ComiPa. After discussing details with the producer, he sees a familiar girl in spectacles (not realizing she’s Asahi) and goes talk to her since she looked troubled. She learns that she is having trouble in writing so Minami thinks she’s trying her hands at doujin. She even tries asking what type of story she is writing (love story by the way) and some advice about love via doujin characters and that if is she has dated someone before (of course no). Later Minami meets up with her senpai at the bar and she tells her this girl’s problem. Since senpai is an artist, she always tells her students to fall in love even though it is one-sided just for the experience. Getting inspired, Minami calls Asahi to meet this Sunday. Then they hear the next table getting loud and realize it’s Kazuki drinking with his friends. Actually it’s Taishi getting drunk arguing about some colour. He soon collapses. Minami gets an idea and asks Kazuki to go out on a date. Nope. You didn’t hear wrong. Mizuki and Taishi are spying on an excuse that they’re worried or protecting him from assassins. Huh? But when they see him meet up with Asahi, I guess all that concern turn into jealousy. Yeah even if he is his best friend, this is unforgivable, says Taishi. Minami is also spying so she explains to them what is going on. However Taishi is still unhappy and is going to stop them by force. Minami learns that Taishi is part of Asahi’s fan club and thinks it will be troublesome if he gets involved. So for each ride, each time jealous Taishi (in a mascot suit) tries to interrupt, Minami will be there to bring him away.

Later while Kazuki goes to get a drink, he is confronted by Taishi. He warns him to leave Asahi or else he’ll shoot his air gun and break up their friendship. Not that Kazuki would mind anyway. He gives Kazuki another chance and he sounds dead serious. When Kazuki goes over to Asahi, he takes her hand and run. Taishi gives chase but due to his clumsy suit, he can’t turn and fell off down the waterfall. Elsewhere safe in the cable car ride, Asahi apologizes for the troubles but Kazuki feels honoured to date an idol like her. Then he learns that Asahi’s trouble is actually she has problem writing lyrics for her love song. He advises not to think too much and that everyone just wants to hear those honest words that reside inside her, that’s all. Back home, Minami gets a call from Asahi thanking her for everything. Then soon another call from Kazuki who expresses his gratitude for the fun date. She teases him that she should ask him out on a date next time. He seems okay with it but I guess she was only joking. Yeah, he was even looking forward to that. At ComiPa, Minami visits Kazuki at his booth. He mentions Taishi has never talked to him ever since that day. Then she sees his new doujin so Kazuki lets have a copy free and take an extra one. This is to be brought to Asahi. When Minami relates that date setup the other day, Asahi realized that Minami didn’t know it was her whom she helped. Then she put on her specs and Minami recognizes the similarity. They have a good laugh and express that they love Kazuki’s doujin. Asahi then goes out on stage to appease her screaming fans. Yeah, Taishi’s there too. What a better way to cure his broken heart, eh?

Episode 5
Though embarrassed, Mizuki seems to be doing fine her cosplay of Card Master Peach among the crowd at ComiPa. Then she notices the otaku pair taking sneaky shots of her and rummages their bag to find a small camera device. They maintain innocence and being framed but she isn’t buying it and sends them flying through the air with her perfect batting move of Peach. The crowd goes wild while Reiko and her pals observe her with glee. Kazuki and Taishi also saw what she did. Back in the train, Mizuki asserts her disgust and hate for otaku. Reiko and her pals are discussing about the upcoming Cosplay Fight competition. Miho thinks it’s the best chance to beat Mizuki (I don’t think we want to hear her passionate ranting). But Reiko insists that cosplay should be for fun. Meanwhile Kazuki learns that Mizuki isn’t going to enter the Cosplay Fight. She still thinks this whole otaku thing is indecent and wants Kazuki to go back to their normal lives together. Can he? Well of course it’s a big no-no for Taishi because he needs her for his world domination crap. Well, Miho was listening all the while and throws down the gauntlet that she’s chickening out. But she didn’t like it by taking Kazuki along with her. She went further saying with her out of the picture, they will become Kazuki’s salesgirls in his doujin circle. Taishi agrees when Miho says in exchange Kazuki will draw a BL manga! Miho tells what happened to Reiko and seems she is quite happy. About the BL part, that is. So if Mizuki wins, she and Kazuki will quit the otaku world for good and if Reiko wins, they get the BL. Can’t bear to see their friends fight, Yuka and Mayu later head to Kazuki’s place and place him responsible to stop this feud. Always getting him involved, eh?

During competition day, Asahi is the main judge along with Taishi and Yuuzo. As some of the girls of the series parade their cosplay, Asahi is always giving a full 10 while Taishi and Yuuzo’s score seems to be decreasing with each passing girl. Not moe enough? Then it’s Reiko’s turn. She passes by dejected Mizuki and tells her if she loves Peach. After Reiko has finished, Mizuki goes onstage without her cosplay outfit. Furthermore, she shocks the crowd by yelling she hates the otaku! Then Taishi realizes her uniform is one of the earlier Peach school uniform. Mizuki asserts though she finds the otaku disgusting, she loves Peach very much. Then she underwent a full henshin scene! For real?! The crowd goes wild. The final contestant seems to be a character from ToHeart2, Konomi. It’s the person herself or rather someone who looks very close to her. Everyone is so captivated by her cuteness that they can’t contain their happiness. The otaku pair start going up on stage to take unauthorized pics. Reiko and Mizuki give them a good kick. However they aren’t giving up yet as they plan to get back at them. Absorbing them into their otaku dimension, they seem pretty confident. However Mizuki and Reiko combine their strength to pound them away. I’m not sure if everything was special effects or I’m just seeing things. Either way, it was damn real. But the crowd loves it. Pervert Taishi tries to see what kind of panties Konomi is wearing but spots a mascot of that penguin on it! Shock of his life. But the shockest of them all is Konomi’s wig fell off and it is revealed this person is Kazuki! NOOOOOOO!!! Otakus’ dream shattered. At the end of the day, it’s revealed as a plot by Yuka and Mayu to have someone else win so the rivalry between Reiko and Mizuki will end in a stalemate. They tease Kazuki’s inner awakening for cross-dressing while Taishi is going to be traumatized for quite a while.

Episode 6
Subaru is ecstatic as she relates to Kazuki her new doujin work. Suddenly Chisa comes crashing into them and burst into tears. They learn her dad had collapsed at home and is now recuperating in hospital. Partly he overworked but the other reason is that he pulled an all-nighter for 3 straight days playing an online game. WTF?! Chisa can’t afford to close her shop down and fears this may be the end of the road. Kazuki calls his pals but since ComiPa is just around the corner, it’s either they’re busy, need help or warped in their own world like Taishi. Just leave him there. Subaru gets passionate after hearing her story and vows to help her out. Subaru suggests many flashy suggestions but I guess Chisa has no budget for it. Then Subaru notices the attic filled with otakus trying to meet the deadline. They are there so that they can print immediately after their work is done. Upon realizing Subaru as Chisa’s part time assistant, they have her do errands but she insists she is not their maid. Both girls continue to work hard and though clumsy (like spilling paper everywhere) they didn’t give up. Subaru sees several serialized magazine at the shop and gets an idea. Kazuki pays Chisa a visit as he requests a printing order from her for his finished manuscript. They see Subaru on the phone talking to the magazine publishers. Seems she has an idea of getting them to take printing orders for them so that Chisa’s shop reputation will go up. However nobody is taking the offer. Of course lah. She starts apologizing for the trouble caused. Well thing is, since she was so confident she could get at least one of those publishers, she cancelled all bookings of Chisa’s shop! Yeah, all the otakus in the attic are gone. Boo hoo! What will they do now? Eimi, Yuu and Aya become lifesavers when they show up to request their manuscript to be printed. Mizuki is also there with her delicious cooking, attracting back all the otakus. I think that’s what they’re attracted to. Everybody chips in to help with the printing and by morning, they manage to finish all in time. Just in time for ComiPa. Then Kazuki just realized he forgot to print his own manuscript! Beg as much as he would but Chisa and Subaru are so darn tired that they slept right on the road! In deep sleep! They’re not coming back anytime soon. Perhaps he should go find some other printing shop. Taishi is still waiting…

Episode 7
Yuu wants Kazuki to help her out with her Kansai ComiPa. This means going back to her family-run hotspring inn. He thinks it’s nice once in a while to relax but it seems the rest of their pals are eavesdropping or conveniently passing by and want in. Oddly why the heck is sickly Ikumi lying in Kazuki’s bed in the first place?! Yuu agrees seeing that the more the merrier. There goes Kazuki’s peace and quiet… At Yuu’s family inn, they learn her dream of inheriting this place and running it together with her good future husband. What else to do at the hotspring? Your mandatory soaking-in and why do girls always want to touch each other skin? Taishi plans to go peep so Kazuki goes to stop him but slips. He crashes into the barrier and when it comes down, it’s as though he’s the peeping Tom. Yeah, he saw the girls and they saw him. You can pretty much guess what happens to him. And the other guys. Yuuzo must be one siscon because he only has eyes for his sister’s body. Is that a bad thing? While the rest are playing indoor games, Yuu goes to talk to Kazuki. Suddenly she gets nervous and wants to talk something important. She goes closer to him. In his haste, he nearly fell off the chair but Yuu catches him so they end up like in an embracing position. Eimi saw it but Yuu brushes it off as the girls get into an argument. Then Kazuki overheard Yuu seeking Minami’s advice to ask Kazuki’s feelings. She’s going to do it for herself for the sake of her dream. Later when Kazuki bumps into Yuu delivering the food, she wants to hold him for a little longer. During dinner, I guess dinner could’ve been tasty if Taishi actually proceeded fully with his Full Monty striptease! Yuuzo too wants to show off his bod but when his sister says “Sit!”, he better sit. But Kazuki’s mind is clouded with thought of Yuu and what she did today, his heart confused. That night Yuu goes to soak together with Kazuki in the hotspring since at this hour it becomes mixed bath. They talk about things. But when she starts to get serious, Kazuki then apologizes for never noticed her feelings. She also apologizes that she was using the Kansai ComiPa as an excuse as she really wants to show him around her inn. Kazuki’s mind start fantasizing about them being married so he says he can’t do that yet as he has lots of things he wants to achieve yet. Yuu then realized that it wasn’t what she meant but decides to play along and a little trick on him. Faking crocodile tears, she has him hear out her request. Next day at Kansai ComiPa, Yuu is all energetic to get it moving. The rest see Kazuki in a boar outfit, Yuu’s family inn’s mascot. Seems that all those romantic gestures were actually for him to wear this suit. Yeah those hugging were just to take his measurement! Oh Kazuki, you’ve been tricked. He wants his pure heart back but Yuu indicates that she too at a point shared that same sentiments but brushes it off and has him go to work.

Episode 8
Taishi officiates a tennis match between Eimi-Yuu and Chisa-Subaru. Eimi is distracting Chisa with lots of printing orders so she can’t return a hit even if Subaru takes it. Thus Eimi-Yuu wins the match. Next match is between Mizuki-Ikumi and Asahi-Aya. Asahi is confident she will not lose due to the intensive training she has done at the same time while doing her idol job. However she is as shockingly defeated and realized that Mizuki is better than her as she is still wearing some restraining accessories during the game. Next up, Eimi-Yuu against Miho-Yuka-Mayu. WTF?! Three people to a team?! Is it legal?! Anyway Eimi is serving serves with ridiculously long names but the trio can’t take because they’re can’t decide who to do so and shifting the ‘responsibility’ to the other. Mizuki visits Ikumi at hospital when Yuuzo confronts her. He begs Mizuki to forfeit the next match because Ikumi’s body can’t handle more than 30 minutes of exercise. Though she may not show it, she is bearing a great pain inside. However Ikumi tells of her flashback how she used to watch Mizuki and her then partner Kazuki play tennis matches outside her hospital window. She admired Kazuki though Mizuki was the one who is doing all the work while he just stood there catching his breath. Then one day a stray tennis ball flew into her room. That’s when Mizuki and Ikumi became friends and she learned about tennis and that’s why she wants to badly play and win.

As they prepare for their next match, Mizuki realizes her shoe has been sabotaged because there are enough tacks to fill a bucket! Too late her foot is already injured but she pretends as though nothing happened. The injury is taking its toll on Mizuki during Minami and her foreign partner’s match though Mizuki insists on continuing. Eimi realizes the pair of otakus camouflaging in a poor tree disguise and learn that they are the ones who sabotage Mizuki. It seems they are supporting Eimi and hope to get priority for Eimi’s next doujin issue. Of course everyone has heard it and is upset Eimi would stoop so low though it isn’t Eimi’s fault since they did it on their own accord. Minami gets so mad that she unleashes a flurry of “Sales Terminated” papers to wipe them out! Yuu then forfeits their team from the game. Even so Mizuki isn’t planning to quit. As the match continues, she has flashback of words of her coach not to give up and his harsh tennis training. She makes a comeback with a super fireball smash!!! For real?! Awesome! In the end, Mizuki-Ikumi won as Taishi presents the trophy but they say it isn’t over yet. Yup, they’re going to face-off each other. They mention have they envy the other’s position and their resolve to win. I feel it’s more like the grass is greener the other side. They transform into their respective cosplay characters and prepare to fight. Though we won’t see the match, it seems to indicate that Mizuki won since she has Kazuki accompany her for the day. As revealed, this match was set up with the winner having Kazuki’s day off time priority! No wonder for the whole episode, Kazuki is like so trouble-free and bored! Some dejected, some pumped up for the next match for their Kazuki time. Ikumi is back in hospital and she can’t wait for the next match as she vows not to lose. Looks like she’s taking up boxing now.

Episode 9
Mizuki is upset that Kazuki is turning more into an otaku and wants him to get out more often and exercise. Camping seems to be a great idea but she didn’t expect for everyone else to tag along. Upon arriving at the remote mountain campsite, Mizuki is dismayed that Taishi didn’t bring any food but his useless otaku accessories as part of his plan for world domination. She punched him so hard that he circled the world 7 times! When he comes back, Taishi adds that the nearest convenience store is 3 hours’ drive away and they close at 6pm. Now all the girls are upset and force him to drive them back down to town. But at the end of the journey, they return back to the same spot. Taishi explains this cursed area as an inescapable forest of bewilderment. Plus, there is neither handphone reception nor the GPS works. Looks like Taishi earned himself another 7 trips around the globe. Suddenly a group of armed uniform men appear. Since they aren’t going to handover classified info on the nearest route to town, a survival battle is in place. With sophisticated gun technology and sensor, Taishi starts bragging about this new form of fighting. Since we can’t stand him, he is the first person to get shot and taken out. Even so, he can still continue to brag. However the Pro Team are taken by surprise with some getting taken out since the girls are dressed in cosplay outfit. Moe!

Then some distracting via Chisa as she rampages in high speed via her trolley, breaking through the enemy’s defence. But that’s about it. However the girls get taken out one by one by the Pro Team’s leader because their cosplay is not working on him. As indicated, he has no interested in girls with developed bodies over a certain age. Lolicon! Pro Team are confident of winning since Taishi’s team has only 1 remaining member left. As they regroup, they find themselves slowly being taken out. Confident Taishi explains that the last remaining member, Aya has this stealth personality so nobody can sense her presence. Yeah, I guess all those bypassing moments at ComiPa at least came in handy for this, eh? The leader is the only one left as he starts to panic and search for her. When he thinks he has found her, he found a stuffed doll rabbit instead. It’s a distraction trap as Aya takes him out. In the end, Pro Team admits defeat and for the record, this is the first time they have lost. Taishi continues to brag his bold ambition of world domination going into phase 2. As for the route to town, seems Pro Team are lost and are searching for it a week ago! Mizuki is so pissed off that in a single punch she sent all of the men flying around the world. If you want a free trip around the world, call this girl. Lastly, Chisa’s uncontrolled rampage has finally stopped (by some raccoon statue). She realizes she got separated from the rest and without knowingly went to town. Yeah, she’s the only one who found her way back. While the rest camp out, they get this feeling that they’re short a person but can’t pinpoint it. Hey Taishi, don’t worry it’s not you. WE DON’T NEED YOU!

Episode 10
Eimi is the unbeatable queen of video games. She meets her match when she lost badly to… Asahi?! Yes, that’s her. They have to cut short their meeting since the fans around them start to realize who the idol is. Seriously, they don’t recognize her if she puts on her glasses? Somewhere safe, Eimi thinks the harsh training Eimi has to endure and thus why she has to go to the arcade in secrecy so she decides to be her friend. They hang out together and exchange handphone numbers. Eimi tells her pals about her friendship with Asahi. Taishi is down in the dumps because he worked so hard to approach his idol but somebody like her casually became her buddy. Then she receives an SMS from Asahi but it was plain and boring. Next time, Eimi brings Asahi out shopping with her. A couple of Asahi fans recognize her and goes to talk to her. Eimi gets upset that they are bothering her but they tell a commoner like her to keep out. Eimi blows her top as Asahi brings her away. Because of that, Eimi vows to show the world she can be an idol too. At ComiPa, Asahi accompanies Eimi at her booth. Eimi’s goal is to sell all her doujin to get some prestigious doujin circle fame. When ComiPa opens, they experience brisk sales till people realize the bespectacled person is Asahi. They love her so much, yet they can’t recognize her behind a pair of glasses? They start pulling and pushing so much so the ruckus has Eimi’s circle closed down. Yuu teases Eimi (a little bruised from all that pushing) that she used Asahi to sell her doujin. Of course this is not Eimi’s intention. Then they realize Asahi is not around and must have got separated during the ruckus. Taishi pours salt on her wounds by saying that she abandoned her after using her. Eimi feels gloomy and says if she hadn’t become friends with her, all this wouldn’t have happened. Later Kazuki goes to talk to dejected Asahi. Since she doesn’t know how to apologize to Eimi, he cheers her up that saying anything will do because they’re friends. At the end of the day at the beach, Asahi and Eimi meet up and reconcile. Eimi says she manages to finish selling all her doujin thanks to Brother 2 (Kazuki and Taishi team). Then they both exchange doujin. Finally Asahi asks the most awkward question if Eimi likes a certain person since they should know each other’s boyfriends for a start (as learned from an anime?). She can’t answer so Eimi tries to deflect it back to her and it becomes an awkward situation for them.

Episode 11
Aya picks up a strange Super Manga by the window. When she reads its contents, her face suddenly turns pale. Yuu thinks Taishi is outside her door but only finds the Super Manga. She opens it and becomes terrified. Eimi is annoyed by Taishi’s pestering. He claims they are engaged! It must be true since Eimi didn’t rebuke. She has this feeling about a stalker but notices the Super Manga. Taishi gets scared and warns her not to open. But she was curious like the cat and reads it. Yup, her face is full of fear. A very dejected Aya, Yuu and Eimi gather at Kazuki’s place. He sees the Super Manga and picks it up but Yuu swiftly takes it back. As explained by Taishi, this Super Manga is known as poisoned doujin and those who read it will have their doujin career dead by 100 days. Well, it must be true since the girls are having the worst writer’s block of their lives and can’t draw anything. Their minds are blank when it comes to doujin. Kazuki realizes a print on the doujin that belongs to Manga King of the manga circle in their university. Next day, he along with Mizuki and Reiko decide to go see him at his horror-like dilapidated building. Reiko’s pals are passing by and when they heard about the poisoned doujin, they remember this doujin made everyone fear Manga King though he was restrained and they were all confiscated. As they trek deeper into the dark corridors, they see ‘scary’ stuff enough to be considered greatest horror legends like piles of doujin in the side, teabags on the wall and a wave of porn doujins. Meanwhile Aya, Yuu and Eimi are still down but Aya picked up the poisoned doujin and flips through again. She remembers something and says that they have seen this somewhere before. Aya mentions the poisoned doujin the poison spreads when they read as they are embedded within the small words. Then they recognize this familiar handwriting that belongs to Subaru.

Kazuki and co reach the Throne Room and sees Subaru neatly binding Manga King’s doujin. Reiko recognizes him as the club president, Tsukishima. He wishes to take over the otaku society by doing doujinshi once more. Taishi narrates the history that Manga King was second to none in the doujin world, but since everyone who reads it will have their doujin career killed off for 100 days. In fear of the other doujinshis are also poisoned parodies, they were banished and wiped off the face of the world. Manga King was then treated as an errand boy as punishment. Thus Tsukishima’s reason for revenge. However after years of idling, his manga creativity has gone stale. But thank goodness, that’s when he met Subaru. With her as his right-hand woman, he will confidently reclaim the top of the doujin world once more. Hey, I thought the manga was shelved due to its destructive nature? So this is his personal ambition, eh? Yeah, they’re really hyped to take over the world. As for the question of why it was sent to Aya, Yuu and Eimi, Subaru told Tsukishima to do so because she wanted the queens of the doujin world to bow down to them. And if it’s delivered to everyone in the popular circle, this revenge will become sweeter and sweeter. Kazuki remembers about the 100 days dead career period and when thinking about it, if you want to do it, you have years to do so since 100 days is comparative small and nothing. Everyone starts laughing that what he said is true. A gust of eerie wind blows as Kazuki picks up the poisoned doujin at his feet while a creepy laughter is heard in the background.

Episode 12
Kazuki’s mind is heavy. He’s weighing on Mizuki’s words that he’s already in 3rd year university and she wonders is he going to keep drawing doujin manga forever. When Aya finds out about it, she takes him to see somebody. Likewise, Reiko brings Mizuki to see someone. Aya and Kazuki meet Sawada, an editor of a professional manga publisher. As Sawada mentions, she has invited Kazuki to join them before but he declined. She opens the invitation again but he is unsure of how professionals work so Aya suggests seeing their workplace and how they work. They arrive at the building and learn several weird working habits. Like how nobody is around at this hour. Then they are surprised to see Mizuki and Reiko. They are being brought around by Sawada’s colleague, Chou of the animation department. Sawada brings Aya and Kazuki to see a passionate story making discussion, the pros and cons of editing a story. Chou brings Mizuki and Reiko around town going to several manga artists to collect their work as the deadline is today. Though the artist tries to play dumb about the deadline, but when he spots the cute ladies behind him, he gets excited. Chou becomes the smooth operator in persuading him to submit his work before the deadline. The artist promises he will submit them tomorrow. Yeah, he’s even staring at the girls as they’re leaving. We see several scenes of how unkempt these artists are. Sleeping in unorthodox places and even piles of books over them! Sawada gets a call from an artist, Youya that his assistants all ditch him to do their own doujin since ComiPa is around the corner. Kazuki and Aya volunteer to help out so Sawada gives them directions to his place.

As they arrive, Youya seems tired and lethargic but when he sees pretty Aya, he gets motivated to start work. Do I see a trend here among manga artists? As the duo help out, they talk about doujin as Youya was once into it before turning pro. Sawada stops by to give them a much deserve break and also a sample printing of their work. Youya feels excited about it as it’s like ‘giving birth to a new child’. Aya feels the same as it’s like handing their doujin over to customers after they’ve finished them. Meanwhile Chou continues to bring Mizuki and Reiko around town to ‘remind’ artists to submit their work. When they return, the editor-in-chief says there’s some mistake being corrected so printing is currently on hold but thinks will make it in time. Chou hurries to continue work. As Aya and Kazuki take a train home, Kazuki realizes that she did all this for him. She explains that he looked different yesterday and thought he may have lost his objective for drawing doujin manga. She too had this kind of feeling before. Next day, seems everything manages to meet the deadline. Kazuki now has an answer for Sawada’s invitation. He still wants to keep doing doujinshi rather than turning pro now. Sawada understands because doujinshi is made from the same people that share the same interest so there’ll always be comrades. She feels happy for them. Kazuki and his friends walk back and they seem much happier now. Kazuki returns to his apartment. Taishi is sleeping like a slob on the floor. But Kazuki is unperturbed because he gets all fired up for world domination! Of the doujin world, that is.

Episode 13
Kazuki gets a shocking but good news from Minami that he will be placed in the famous Kabe place position for the next ComiPa. Though Yuu congratulates his success, Eimi isn’t too happy about it and even crossed the line by saying he just draws whatever to attract the crowd and stamp his name on it. However Kazuki is under pressure as he experiences writer’s block. He can’t seem to get it right. Mizuki tries to encourage and cheer him up but he is in no mood to talk. Though he later apologizes for his rudeness, Mizuki decides to help be his wife, oops I mean help cook for him, do his laundry, etc. It’s like she’s being a typical tsundere, giving an excuse that she’s not really doing all this for him. Soon all the other girls congratulate Kazuki and support him to continue to draw what he desires. However things aren’t getting better and it’s getting to him. He’s feeling gloomy. Idiot Taishi can only call him and brag about his world domination. It’s like he’s only giving lip service. Each time Kazuki gets this annoying call, he just hangs up. That’s the way, pal. Don’t further add to your stress. At least Yuuzo even did something to help out. He gave him cookies! No, actually it’s from Ikumi. No yaoi scene here. Anyway after relaying Ikumi’s supportive message, he warns Kazuki not to waste her efforts. Or else… He should know what’s good for him. One morning, Mizuki wakes him up to take him out to relief his stress. He seems refreshed so he wants to return the favour. Mizuki suggests sketching a picture of her. So what kind of model did Mizuki become? One that is clad in only a towel! Is he going to sketch her in that? What choice does he have? Outside, the other girl pals are trying to do something to cheer Kazuki up but they’re worried as he’s not answering the door (maybe he’s so engrossed in naked sketching). They think he has locked himself in for good since the deadline is nearing and there is some kind of special barrier protecting the door so they can’t easily break it down. Seriously?

Once Kazuki finishes sketching, well, it seems pretty good but as Mizuki notes, it’s an oil sketch. Then it’s like she’s hypnotizing him, saying that he never entered the University of Art but yet he drew what he wanted, oil paintings. She says he will continue to draw them. As she prepares to kiss him, the window breaks and suddenly… Another Mizuki?! Seems the Mizuki in towel is the fake illusion that Kazuki desires (?!). She explains due to the pressure of the Kabe space, the nearing deadline and unsure of what to draw, she is an illusion created from his feelings. Plus, the real Mizuki remembers how she wished for everything to return back to those days. Fake Mizuki continues to say the she really doesn’t want Kazuki to draw manga and invites her to her side. However real Mizuki slaps off her hand and won’t accept it because he’s not the Kazuki she knows. She can’t accept this Kazuki who does not like manga. She transforms into Peach while her fake counterpart transforms into… A tennis uniform? Their powers are evenly matched when they hear Taishi’s annoying voice. He pesters Kazuki about the deadline and this manages to snap him out of the spell (I guess his annoyance has its good points). He is shocked to see 2 Mizukis. The real Mizuki tells him not to give up on doujinshi because he likes them. That’s when he got his resolve that he will continue to draw manga. This gives the real Mizuki enough strength to blast the fake one away. Kazuki then returns to draw his manga as Taishi teases Mizuki that she has slowly turn to the doujin side. Think not. At ComiPa, Kazuki mans the booth while his friends and other people patron his work. He is surprised that Mizuki buys a book because she likes his gentle and warm drawing.

Once You Check In, You Can’t Check Out!
Is this a sign that Mizuki has accepted the doujin world? I don’t think so. It’s just that she accepts Kazuki for who he is. Period. Perhaps she realized that Kazuki is much better drawing what he loves rather than forcing him to go back to their boring university lives. In a way, because of Kazuki, he is who he is and there is no one as unique as him. Same goes to every doujinshi. I guess that is what the doujin world is mainly about. The passion of drawing your work and showing it to the world. Of course the selling point is important but that is not usually the main motivation why doujin otakus continue to be a zombie, slog day and night to finish their precious works of art before the deadline. It’s the thrill and joy of having finished something and someone else reading it appreciating it. I think that counts a lot and is definitely priceless. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of happiness and feeling. So Mizuki’s absolute love for Peach doesn’t mean she’s an otaku. Put it in another way. If you love Mercedes Benz, it doesn’t mean you like cars, right?

You can’t judge or say whether the path Kazuki has taken is a good or bad one. He’s doing his best and making the most out of it the way he can. By entering this doujin world, Kazuki gets to meet lots of other nice ‘comrades’ and form his own inner circle. Everyone here helps each other out the way they can. Not only you can find this kind of friendship, teamwork and cooperation in the doujin circle, it’s just like in other circles or societies as well. Taishi is the most amusing and annoying character in the series. You can’t help love and hate his antics but I guess in every group, you need to have a big joker like him. Somebody you could use as a punching bag or give words of advice when needed at times (for Taishi’s case, it’s more of the former). Each of the girls have their own quirky personalities that make them likeable for this series but not memorable in the long run because some of their characteristics are too typical in this ubiquitous genre. How many series do you know have a clumsy loli? The genki airhead? What about the tough girl? Don’t forget the all-important tsundere too. But as far as I know, deep down in all of these girls’ hearts, they definitely have a thing for Kazuki. Because he’s a nice guy and less annoying than his other brother half. Why not? Since this series was based on a dating simulation game of the same name (but without the adult elements in most of them), in the end, he’s got to choose which girl to go out with, right? That’s in the game. In this anime, it doesn’t seem obvious because to me, I think his doujin comes first. His first love. Ah well girls, you got to toe the line for now. It’s nice that some of the girls have an episode focused on them with Kazuki but the series is too short to develop into anything concrete. I mean, there are 10 girls here, how do you expect them all to fit into a short season?

So let’s see if I understand what the doujin world is all about now. Artist draws manga with story. Prints out story. Participates in convention. Waves of people/otakus come in. Walk by your booth. Browse through your book. If they like it, they buy it. Repeat selling process till the show is over. Wait for next convention. I suppose that pretty sums up how I see it. After all these years into anime, I still know nuts about the manga and doujin world. I may have tried to do a little research but the amount of information and details were just overwhelming that I ‘chickened out’. Too scary-cum-awesome to behold and digest it all. And remember if you’re obsessed in something, make sure you don’t neglect the other important stuffs as well. Maybe the word ‘important’ is vague here… Oh well, it’s safe to say that I won’t be entering the doujin world anytime soon or in the future mainly because my drawing still sucks. Looks like I can only draw curtains. Haha! That was a joke-cum-pun for you. Oh dear, looks like I don’t do well in this area too…

Koisento

November 12, 2011

Hmm… Even religion has taken a technological advance. At least that was my first impression when I saw Koisento. Imagine a self-automated Buddha statue, other deity statues that are able to move about themselves like as though it’s some kind of parade. Oh wait, isn’t it a parade here? Well, this anime isn’t about Buddhism or Shinto but you can feel that this city is heavily influenced by these religions.

I’m still trying to figure out what this 1 episode OVA is all about. Set in the very distant future in the city of Nara, it is the year 2710. The city is celebrating its 2,000th anniversary of the relocation of the capital. Wow. Four digits in celebrating your anniversary. We have this kid, Shinichi Kajimoto who is on a school field trip with his male buddies, all probably some kind of otaku because they’re cheering on the hologram Himiko bus operator. Everyone’s caught up in the festive mood as Shinichi’s pal is hyped out just about everything like the rumours that the Buddha statue is said to bring love and luck and perhaps Shinichi himself will be able to meet a girl. Even Himiko herself. Shinichi daydreams about getting some love letter from Himiko. But he misread the words and to his surprise, Himiko’s head turns into a white deer.

In a laboratory, a Himiko nicknamed HRF-12 is locked in a capsule being under heavy scrutiny as the scientist mentions he has discovered problems in her nervous system and visual ability. Petite but evil Mama (her big lump of hair is so big like a cushion, it feels like it could crush her head anytime!) wants the problem fixed and have the genetic sequence of her nervous system genes improvised. HRF-12 wants to go out but Mama disallows it and wants her to listen to her orders instead. She has her goons keep a close watch on her. However, being the unreliable goons they are, HRF-12 escapes. Yeah, even Mama mentions that there was a case of a sample running away 20 years ago. And history repeated itself. Why not? I mean, look at their outrageous hairstyle (enough to turn heads), colourful suits and ridiculous make-up. They look more like clowns than villains.

Shinichi is ruing his luck of seeing a deer in his dream. At the deer park, Shinichi’s friend is being glomped by several deer while a white deer cheekily steals Shinichi’s bag. Not willing to give it up, he chases after it and ends up having the wildest ride of his life. Imagine a deer jumping and prancing throughout the city in high speed. Hold on to your horses! Or deer in his case. Mama and the goons are hot on HRF-12’s tail. She escapes but is dangerously tiptoeing outside the building’s ledge. One of the goons accidentally bursts open the hatch and sends her falling. All in good timing, her fall is broken when the white deer with Shinichi zooms pass by swooping her along.

Once somewhere safe, HRF-12 is fascinated with the crowd and blends into it by transforming her priestess robe into a high school girl’s uniform. And Shinichi is still fighting with the white deer for his bag. Hey, it’s his, right? They introduce themselves and HRF-12’s real name is Yamto Totohimomosohime. Tototototototo what? Just call her Toto. They walk around the city as Toto mentions this is her first time outside. She wonders about seeing the ocean since she was never allowed to go anywhere. Shinichi apologizes for bringing up this weird question and says that he has been lost before and wasn’t able to anywhere. Toto suggests they tour the city together. Shinichi thinks this is some kind of date like what lovers do. Keep dreaming pal. What Toto had in mind was visiting the various Buddha statues. How disappointing? Mama has located Toto’s whereabouts and prepares to move in.

Inside a temple, Shinichi and Toto climb onto a giant Buddha’s palm. Toto connects with the statue and moves them closer to the its nostrils seeing that there is this rumour that if one climbs into Buddha’s nostrils, your wish will come true. What again? If that was true, don’t you think many would have done so and look so odd embarrassing themselves. Nevertheless it didn’t stop Shinichi from trying. Urm… He seems stuck. But when he manages to pull himself free, Toto gets shock thinking that he lost his head! Actually it’s just ‘sunken’ underneath his shirt. In her relief, she cuddles close to him. Shinichi is now in a dilemma. Is he going to take advantage of this situation or not. Yeah, his angel and devil are toying over this. But they’re taking too long and by that time, Toto’s already up and away. Then she starts acting strange, like as though she felt some pain. She thanks him for making her day fun. He gives her his charm and promises to go to the ocean together.

Their nice moment is interrupted when Mama and her goons come in. Yeah, they are riding temple guardian machines. Since she isn’t going to go with them, Mama prepares to take her by force and if necessary, give her pain. Toto connects and moves the Buddha statue. It wreaks havoc all over the place and manages to throw the villains off their footing. Toto tells Shinichi to run as she will stall for some time (she doesn’t want him to get involved). He is reluctant but the white deer pulls him away. Then she transforms into her priestess outfit and do battle with the temple giants. However her leg stops functioning so she takes a beating. Messed up Mama gives Toto an earful about disobeying her. She rants about placing her entire life on her and reminds that she is her creator. Every inch of her body is created by her. However Toto says that she only belongs to herself and the emotions she felt like crying, laughing and falling in love are real. Suddenly a deer stampede crash into the temple, stomping all over the baddies. Shinichi rides on the white deer looking for Toto. Mama is one hard mama to stay down and continues to threaten Toto. Unfortunately for her, the white deer sinks both its back hooves into her face. Maybe she’ll need facial surgery now. Shinichi picks Toto up as they escape outside. He is going to take her to the ocean but there are no oceans in Nara. Well, you won’t know if you don’t try looking for one. He is so determined that he even ride and jump pass the lines of police surrounding the area!

In the aftermath as Mama and her goons are arrested, who knows where Shinichi and Toto reach. He tries to confess but was cut short when all the deer resonate. Don’t tell me he’s shy to say so in front of the deer? Unless those deer understand human language. As the sun rises, they see the magnificent view of the ocean. While Shinichi is gawking in awe, Toto closes her eyes, stops functioning and disappears. Shinichi goes to find her but she was nowhere to be found. Down and out, he returns to the parade and his friend thinks he got messed up due to a girl. Shinichi sees a parade float with Toto and the white deer on. A group of deer shove Shinichi right in the middle of its path. This is the Toto that Shinichi knows because she is wearing his charm. In her happiness, she rushes down and hugs him. Wait a minute, they’re doing this in public? But what is odd is that we don’t see any shocking reaction from the crowd. Then she whispers something inaudible but it was enough to make his face turn redder than a tomato. Wanna bet it’s “I love you”?

WTF?! So can someone tell me what all this is about? Maybe it’s a short story of a chance encounter of a boy-meets-girl. He becomes her unwitting rescuer from her chasers and end up happily reunited. Oh, not forgetting the deer. Other than that, I try not to think hard of the other stuff like Toto’s background of how she’s someone important to Mama for something. And will Toto continue to be with Shinichi from now on instead of going back to her mundane experimental life? Maybe if they turn this into a TV series or a few more OVA episodes, they could expand on this area and several others as well. So this OVA was just weird and it’s best you watch it with a pinch of salt.

Another odd part is the ending credits whereby we see the group of deer dancing! They’re standing on their hind legs while their front legs holding each other’s hooves, swinging from left to right and right to left. You know those scenes of those human chains? How can they hold each other without fingers? Then they are joined by Mama and her goons but they are doing more posing than anything before Shinichi’s friend, Shinichi and Toto get down and jiggy with it. Both the ending themes are sung by Minako Kotobuki (the voice of Toto). The opening theme Metamorphose has a hint of Chinese feel in it and mixed with pop. The ending theme Startline is livelier since we have the characters dancing, so why not get up and dance to this party pop beat too?

There is something about the art and drawing. At first they seem like they are 2D but upon closer look, I think there are some computer generated animations blended into it. For instance, if you take a close look at the movements of the characters, they are moving in a way that only computer animation can do so. Slightly smooth transition. Of course the zooming in of the scenes and some of the effects like confetti falling are definitely CGI. So the next time you see a deer at the park, don’t think they are just some creature who wants to feed on you biscuits and lick you all over your place. They may lead you to a destined love one and one heck of a short adventure. Then you can exclaim “Oh deer!”. Haha. I just wanted to say that anyway.

Memories Off

November 11, 2011

Out of all the Memories Off anime series, I only watched the second instalment. And that was a pretty long time ago. I don’t remember exactly why I didn’t watch the rest. Most likely it was unavailable then. Can’t remember. Really. You could say that my memories for this went somewhat off, eh? Anyway it was a good thing that I get to watch the entire series again. Yeah, I get this satisfaction of finally completing a series instead of that puzzling feeling of why I only saw part of it. So here is the first blog on the first instalment of the series.

Adapted from the dating simulation game of the same name, there are only 3 OVA episodes for the first instalment that came out in late 2001. Yeah, around a decade ago. Makes it look so old. But each of the episodes are independent though inter-related. What do I mean? Put it simply, each episode sees the main protagonist guy meet a girl and fall in love with her while overcoming his tragic trauma of the death of his previous girlfriend. Yikes. It’s tough for a guy to move on and forward when the first girl he loves passed away. It is only worse if he takes all the blame himself. But you know about love, it works in a mysterious and magical way. So it’s like each episode is like another alternate world. Another day, another life. Yeah, if real life can only be like that. Oh, we have a word for that scenario: Multi-branching arc.

Episode 1
College student Koyomi Kirishima gets off the train and thinks it’s a nice day to get a boyfriend when Tomoya Mikami and Yue Imasaka bump into her. However they are in a hurry and can’t stay to ‘entertain’ her, much to her dismay. However Tomoya dreads that he’ll receive some punishment from Koyomi especially in his lunch. Rush as they might to school, however they are too late so Tomoya jokingly blames Yue. As Tomoya sleeps on the rooftop, he has a nightmare of his late girlfriend Ayaka Hizuki. Seems she went to fetch him on a rainy day but got involved in a car accident and died. No matter how many times Tomoya screams for her not to come, the inevitable always happen. He is awakened by his friend Shin Inaho. Seems he has missed all of the afternoon class. Shin asks an important question: Is Tomoya dating Yue? That’s the important question? Tomoya scoffs it off as they’re just childhood friends. Nothing more. It should have occurred to him that since Shin has been pestering Tomoya if that is true so many times, you can tell that guy has a crush on her. Tomoya walks out of school with Yue and his words of letting fate and fortune decide his future means he hasn’t studied for tomorrow’s supplementary exam. Yue sees a pregnant cat and gets excited. She puts some Jewel Choco ornament on its collar as it is rumoured if you do so, you’ll end up with a nice person. She then makes a wish. Eventually Tomoya goes to study at the library. Shin comes in and tells him he will confess to Yue at the park. Because of his incessant pestering wondering if Tomoya is okay with this, they get too loud and it descended into a verbal argument. So much so, they didn’t notice the several attempts of librarian, Shion Futami telling them to pipe it down. In the end, she blows her top that she becomes the loudest among them and Tomoya fell off his chair!

Thoughts of Ayaka cloud Tomoya’s mind even during the exam. After that, he sees a letter in his shoe box locker asking if the rain has stopped. He starts to remember how Ayaka promised that she, Tomoya and Yue will always be together. He rushes to the park to see Shin coolly sitting on the bench. He says he has been rejected and Yue has just left. Plus, she said she had someone she liked. He catches up to her and she berates him why did he come since she was going to give up at last and be able to forget everything. She starts crying now that she can’t forget. She felt she didn’t know what to do after Ayaka’s death. Even so, she has always liked him ever since. He promises her that they will always be together so she hugs him. Tomoya and Yue start dating and have fun at the amusement park. However Tomoya starts seeing Ayaka in her. At the end of the day, Yue says she not only had fun today but for the past few weeks. That’s good enough for her and won’t be sad anymore. She knows Tomoya isn’t having fun because in his mind is only Ayaka. She thanks him. But she starts crying. Tears of joy? Think not. She runs away. In class, Tomoya sees visions of Ayaka (in angel form). She asks if she is going to forget her. He vehemently protests that he will not but she fades away. Then he sees a picture of the 3 of them when he was young. He remembers how Yue comforted him when Ayaka passed away. He was clearly depressed. He learns Yue has gone out to buy stuff for the cultural festival but hasn’t come back since 2 hours ago. He rushes out in the rain to find her. He ponders why Yue wasn’t able to realize that she too is in his heart just like Ayaka. The sound of the ambulance and Yue’s umbrella on the roadside was enough to make him fall into distraught. However she was using the umbrella to shield the abandoned kittens. She starts to panic. But Tomoya gives her a quick kiss (so quick it makes me wonder if their lips met). He thought he had lost another one and doesn’t want her to disappear. He assures she is always in her heart. He confesses that he has liked her for a long time. He apologizes that he wasn’t able to tell as he puts on the Choco Jewel on her finger. Happy Yue hugs him as she confesses she likes him. Probably they should go somewhere warmer to hug… In the end, Tomoya has to adopt the kittens. But he’s going to teach them to take care of themselves. But it’s his way to say that he’s lazy to feed them. Yeah, he thinks to need to feed himself first because he’s poor. Ayaka gives off a happy smile from the rooftop.

Episode 2
Tomoya and Yue rush to school but bump into Shion, causing her to drop her books. Though Yue scrapped her knee, it wasn’t serious. Yue chides Tomoya for not recognizing their classmate Shion, the transfer student. However Shion doesn’t recognize Tomoya too! Koyomi seems to be having a hard time managing the crowd at her bread booth. Hope she didn’t collecting the wrong payment amount. Tomoya finally got his and as he goes out to enjoy his lunch, he sees Ayaka sitting on the bench. However she turns out to be Shion. Guess what? She doesn’t remember who he is! Anyway she leaves thinking she prefers to be alone when Tomoya wants to finish his lunch. He notices she left behind her tumbler and as he is about to dig in, he realizes Koyomi messed up his order. Tomoya falls asleep during English class and dreams about Ayaka. She’s asking whether he has read a book called Force. Something about the hero who doesn’t realize the hidden power he has. She thinks Tomoya is similar to the hero. He is rudely awakened by the teacher who wants him to read the text but since he is lost, Shion does it flawlessly. However Shion gets annoyed when the teacher calls her a foreigner. As for Tomoya’s punishment, he is to translate 10 pages of the book and hand it in. Oh boy. Tomoya is worried about his assignment but his friends suggest asking Shion. Then he remembers he forgot to return her tumbler. He does so at the library but at first she didn’t remember who he is! Seriously?!  However she is grateful because she thought she had lost her mom’s keepsake. He then requests her to tutor him English. During tutoring, she seems to be fascinated with this samurai thingy and wonders if there any around. But Tomoya learns that it was probably an amusement park with people dressed up as samurais. Shion gets disappointed and says she hates Japan now. WHAT?! How can you hate the land of anime, manga and video games?!

Later Tomoya obtains free passes to Marine Land (by winning from Koyomi) and plans to use this to apologize to Shion. Then Yue hands him Shion’s handkerchief so that he can hand it back to her. He waits at the library but falls slowly asleep and dreams of sleeping on Ayaka’s lap. He is abruptly awakened by Shion who is taken by surprise when he suddenly gets up. He returns her handkerchief and offers to help clean the library but seems she has already done everything. However she says he can help out tomorrow. Tomoya asks if there are any interesting books to read so she recommends Force and lends hers. Urm, I think he already got that book. Next day after Tomoya helps out Shion, she brings him to pick thorny chestnuts since her dad is returning tomorrow. She didn’t realize they can buy this at the store so the orchard farmer comes chasing them. Run for your lives! While resting at a safe distance, Tomoya makes up an unbelievable storey that they picked too much that’s why the chestnut fairy got met. However he says that this orchard belongs to one of his relatives and will apologize later. Shion starts laughing and notes that he is nice even to someone like her. Tomoya and Shion enjoy their time in time. Then resting on a bench, he invites her to Marine Land as he thinks there will be some people in samurai suits. She agrees. Then while dining at a cafe, the waitress accidentally slips and it’s as though she is going to spill all over Shion. Tomoya is faster than The Flash (really!) that he covers Shion and gets soaked instead. However Shion seems upset rather than grateful. She doesn’t like the idea of being too nice to him. Urm? WTF?! She runs out but Tomoya chases her and catches up. She says this is not the real her and is just wearing a mask. As revealed, Shion’s dad moves from place to place all over the job due to his archaeology job. But when she got back to Japan, all the kids bullied and tormented her just because she’s not Japanese. That’s when she decided not to have any relationships with anyone. She will wear this mask each time she comes to Japan. She was planning to do the same this time till she met Tomoya. She can’t stop thinking about him. Now breaking down, Shion continues she’s afraid to let him see her true self but wants to be with him. So why does he care about her? Simple. Because he loves her. Whether she puts on the mask or not, he loves her. He wants her to take off her mask and move forward together. To start it off, they should go dating tomorrow.

Back home, Tomoya reads and finds Force interesting when he gets a call from Shion. She profusely apologizes that she can’t go with him tomorrow and will say no further. But Tomoya says he will wait for her till she shows up. Tomoya did wait but she didn’t turn up. On his way back, he meets Shin who relates a message from Shion. Seems her dad is leaving this country today due to his job. He frantically searches for Shion in the crowded city. What are the chances? He sees vision of Ayaka and remembers she said about the hero’s hidden ability: Luck. Yup, that’s what he’s got as he finally manages to meet Shion. They both embrace. Shion in tears really wants to be with him. Out of nowhere she gets a call from her dad saying that she can stay since she has made a precious friend. Boyfriend rather. How convenient? How does he know? Well, he was part of the crowd and saw his daughter’s true feelings. Tomoya and Shion kiss. Maybe they should get a room instead of boldly exhibiting in public. Tomoya and Shion go through the events they had done over the past half year. As Ayaka’s words echoes to Tomoya: All he has to do is be right there. That’s enough for her to let her be herself. Shion notes that his power is the hope he gives.

Episode 3
Tomoya sits alone in the train as he heads for school. Something unusual has happened. In a train which is usually packed with all kinds of people, there is no one else but him. What kind of conspiracy is this? Has everyone been abducted by aliens? Or maybe he may have just woken up late. But he’s not the only one in the coach as a few seats away, he spots Minamo Ibuki. As the train arrives at its destination, Minamo was engrossed with her notes that she almost didn’t make it out. Luckily Tomoya holds the door long enough for her to get out. Both of them have a nice chat while walking to school. Guess what? Minamo is Yue’s best friend. It’s a small world alright. She thinks Tomoya is secretly dating her! Minamo wants Tomoya to teach her some literature so he agrees to do the best he can. Him? Literature? Does he look like the studious type? Yue teases him not to assault her no matter how pretty she is. Tomoya wakes up from his late girlfriend’s nightmare again in class. He helps Minamo read some sad poem but Minamo aspires to be like the poetic because she finds it romantic that she is eloping with her lover on his back. As thanks, Minamo treats Tomoya at the ice cream parlour. He learns that she likes to draw as she shows him her sketchbook. Seems pretty decent. One of the scenery drawings seems pretty familiar to him but he can’t put his finger on it. Then Minamo asks if he would be free this weekend. He thinks it’s going to be a date and gladly looks forward to it. It turns out to be a big picnic with their friends. There goes his hope… Minamo and Tomoya see a dried leaf flutter and shined like gold. Minamo gets excited thinking if all the gold leaves filled the sea, it would be a wonderful sight: A golden sea which keeps shining.

On a rainy day, Tomoya gets a letter in his shoe box from Minamo. She is waiting for him at the school gates. Oddly, she was just standing in the rain without any umbrella (perhaps to rain suddenly came?). Tomoya gives her a piggy back ride to the infirmary since she has a fever. She notes how this is like that poem she read and perhaps her wish came true. In bed, Minamo reveals that she knows him since a long time. From Yue? Nope. From Ayaka. You see, Minamo and Ayaka are cousins. Ah, it’s indeed a small world. Ayaka was like a sister to her and they frequently exchange letters while Minamo spends most of her time in hospital. So she learned lots about Tomoya during that. Tomoya starts feeling guilty that he is the cause of Ayaka’s death. But Minamo says she doesn’t want him to be sad and that Ayaka was happy. As Tomoya goes to find a nurse, he accidentally knocks over Minamo’s sketch. He sees her sketch of the ocean and promises her to take her there. Tomoya thinks he can move forward now but he gets the bad news from Yue that Minamo’s condition is worsening (it wasn’t due to the rain by the way). The doctor talks to Tomoya as he learns that the only way to cure Minamo’s disease is via transplant operation. But they can’t find a donor. Tomoya pleads to be her donor but the doctor will need to run some tests to check his compatibility. While visiting Minamo in her room, she notes how she can’t draw her own face. He narrates that she was getting thinner and thinner so much so her hand can’t catch up to it. He is putting his hope on that small possibility to cure Minamo. But Minamo wants to go to the sea now. Tomoya tells her to be patient and will take her there once she is better. The test results indicate Tomoya isn’t compatible but the doctor tells him she did have a compatible donor before: Ayaka. Minamo got the transplant right after her car accident. Plus, Minamo knew about this since the doctor told her before the surgery though she was shocked. Tomoya sinks into depression and didn’t answer the incessant phone calls. He can’t face Minamo after what he has learned. Ayaka’s spirit appears and tells him he should think about Minamo’s feelings. Then the doorbell rings. It’s Minamo. She partially collapses into his arms. She wants to keep their promise because she loves him and she wants to be with the person she loves every moment till the end. Tomoya carries her all the way to the sea as they watch in awe the sunrise reflecting the waters, giving off a beautiful shine of gold.

Memories are made of this…
Well, for a drama romance I guess everything is rather okay. Not to mention it was one of those anime so the plot is rather forgivable. I have not played the actual game itself but I’m guessing that the other girls could have been included if given more episodes like Koyomi and Kaori Otoha (Tomoya and Yue’s classmate-cum-friend). But then again, it would be more or less the same thing and offering nothing new. In each OVA, we see how each one of them have their own issues or ghost of the past to deal with. Thus the chance encounter brings them together and makes them move forward. Tomoya is able to get over from the death of Ayaka though at times memories of that scathing accident threaten to undo everything back to square one. It clearly goes to show that clinging on to the past only impedes your step forward. I have a theory why the series is named so. With Tomoya ending up with a different girl in each episode, it’s like as though his memories have been ‘reset’ and thus memories off. Geddit?

As I have said that this is an old anime, the art and drawing is of that era. It is not as good as compared with today’s standards. However, I have to point out that the quality is annoyingly bad at certain points, especially the second episode. The consistency of the animation is fluctuating so bad that it seems like there have been different artists drawing them and then putting it all together. I tried to scoff it off but it was really obvious. Too obvious that it made the characters look way different than they originally are. The opening theme song is Yuuki No Tsubasa by Maria Yamamoto. Sounds like your typical anime pop for a dating simulation game. However I find that the singer’s voice isn’t suitable at certain lines. It is as though she is trying to reach certain notes during the chorus but seems like she’s struggling to do so. And even if she did, it sounded ‘strained’. I’m not sure whether it’s on purpose or not. As for the male background voice. I just felt it should sound better without it. The ending theme is Yasashii Seiza by KAORI, a slow gentle ballad.

Recently we had another anime with a guy dating different girls in much longer arcs (Amagami SS) so I thought that the best way for a dating simulation to get adapted is to have it this kind of format. It’s like giving every girl a fair chance and then at the end of it all, you yourself personally decide which is the best girl who should suit him, though this is based on your personal preferences and open to discussion. It’s possible to do this too all at the same time. That term is called a harem. But this way you’d hurt others when one is picked and everyone if you remain indecisive. Thus having alternate possibilities of what kind of girlfriend that you end up with seems like a nice idea but doesn’t it just feel tiring after a while? You can have your slice of your cake and eat it but not all of it.

Domo, domo. Larufa kuina vashiina. Larufa what? Hmm… I think it must be some sort of greeting of some language. The kind of language that you learn and will know if you play the MMORPG game called Master Of Epic. Maybe the title is a play on words too because when you abbreviate it, it sounds like MoE. And when you have cute characters in Japanese anime, you got to have this moe to appeal to the audiences, right? So back in 2007, this MMORPG game has been adapted into an anime series entitled Master Of Epic: The Animation Age. Sounds pretty anime-like?

Unfortunately I did not play this game nor did I even know of its existence till the anime came out (even so I did not play it). What’s so bad about that? That’s because the anime series isn’t like your typical continuous shows with plots that viewers have to diligently sit and watch through each scene and episode to follow the storyline. Instead, this series are actually made up of short comical skits and vignettes of the game. Plus, it relies heavily on the viewers’ knowledge on the game. If you’re a person like me who know nuts about the game, you’d be at a lost and start wondering what the hell this joke meant. Yup, inside jokes that only fans can understand. Of course you’d still be laughing since many of them are of the ‘physical’ type but to appreciate it further, you need to know the mechanism and the workings of the game very well.

As each episode starts, there will be a short and ominous-like narration of the several ages that the land has gone through. From the Chaos Age to Demon King Age to Resistance Age and then War Age. It gives that dreadful feeling that if fighting is the only thing that never changed. You’d also start to wonder if this is a comedy series as mentioned.  Then the current age now as announced: The Animation Age. The opening music starts to get all kiddie-like and happy-happy. It makes you go WTF?! Yeah, I guess after all the fighting between races and clans, maybe it’s time for an age to record it all down via animation. Perhaps this is where the moe comes in. Who wants to see bloody corpses when you can enjoy gawking at cute loli elves.

I can’t really give a good comparison between the game and anime since I haven’t played it so there are some stuffs which I am not sure. For instance there are many one-shot characters in many skits. So I’m thinking if these characters really do exist in the game itself or if they are just made up solely for the anime. But you won’t see each segment to be random as there will be some recurring and familiar skits as you go along. For example, after the opening credits, each episode begins with a pair of hosts in an Opening Explanation Theatre. They will briefly explain a specific theme that will be used for this episode while putting on a manzai comedy duo act. It’s like watching a stage show. Aren’t we? Other recurring skits include the Master Of Epic TV news hosted by a Cognite announcer and an onsite reporter named Monio (it always ends with the newscaster being given by the crew to read some other news), Bukotsu and Chuu pair, a Pandemos guy sitting by the ocean (usually falling into it somehow in the end), Playback which involves some Newtar guy doing some attacks but always dies in the end no matter how many times he gets resurrected, the bandit lolis called Waragecha 5, the MoE Enterprise Troop and the daily activities of the MoE-like people.

Episode 1
• The pair of hosts introduce the general stuff about RPG and this series which has been adapted into a game.
• Somebody left a mammoth in front of the bank door and the owner is nowhere in sight. The reporting reporter, Monio gets an idea by stabbing it with his toy sword and sends the mammoth flying in the air. But shortly the mammoth falls back down squashing him.
• Collon is saved from a spider monster by a knight named Rono. They team up and go on an adventure together. However Collon thinks she is weak because he is always protecting her and runs away. Rono finds her in some ring match and her reason is to become strong. She takes a beating though she doesn’t want him to interfere. However if he couldn’t help physically, he does so giving advice, allowing Collon to evade the giant. With his fist stuck inside the ring, Collon uses him as a punching bag and wins. They amend their friendship and continue to go on adventures together.
• Chuu and Bukotsu are eating but the former is hungry. No time to go to any restaurant, she eats their summoning pet bat!
• A pair of chefs are trekking through the forest to find some seaweed for their dish when they are ambushed by bandits wearing a red mask. But do not fear! Suddenly a group of 5 lolis who call themselves Waragecha 5 make their appearance. Think of them as a cross between magical girl, Sailormoon and Power Rangers. They even have their own theme song! As protectors of justice and messengers of love and peace, they easily beat up the bandits. As the chefs are to thank them, to their surprise, they see the Waragecha 5 sifting through the unconscious bandits for any valuable belongings!!! Because they can’t find anything valuable, they run off with their red masks. Notice that one of the lines in their theme song goes, “Where in the world is the true justice?”. Oh, don’t be fooled by their cute looks…

Episode 2
• The pair of hosts introduces the thing called ‘death’ to characters in RPG.
• Bukotsu is happy that Chuu offers to shampoo his hair but when there’s somebody who offers to do it for free, he jumps into the sea thinking this is good enough but gets eaten by sharks and sting ray. Later Chuu summons zombie to fight… Zombies. Then Bukotsu thinks about how cute it is to have a pet so Chuu summons several zombie beasts.
Ranka writes to her sister how she is a pacifist and does not like to fight. While farming for bandage materials, she spots a warrior getting beaten up by a pair of sandworms. She tries to ignore him at first but reluctantly heals him a little. However he gets knocked out soon. The sandworms turn their attention to her and attack. This doesn’t dampen her spirits to be a pacifist. Next day she is picking strawberries but is confronted by several female warriors. And she gets beaten up. Still maintaining her pacifist ideal but getting an idea to run away if ever such an event occurs, the next day while chopping tree, she runs away from a menacing zombie and hides herself in a hut. She thinks her method has worked but to her horror, there are wild dogs ready to pounce on her. She’s so dead this time.
• A lady is seen fishing. But soon, everyone from animals to humans to clones dive right in so she gets annoyed and gives up. Chuu does night fishing but to her horror, she is surrounded by vicious mermen. Then for morning fishing, a huge electric eel pops up right in front of her.
• Waragecha 5 arrives at the bottom of the floating kingdom of Baha. As explained by Blue, there are treasures in it but they have to traverse its traps within a certain time limit as a team. Failure would mean death! Green and Yellow make excuses to chicken out. As for the rest, they see several fallen warriors coming out from the sky and heard the incredible damage they have taken. Using this ‘painful’ experience, they decide to do other things.
• Somebody again left a mammoth in front of the bank door. Onsite reporter Monio found the owner but he seems to be asleep. No matter how much yelling, he is still fast asleep.
• MoE Enterprise Troop led by Captain Shiozou and Private Phillip infiltrate the mysterious Irvana Valley on Diaros Island to look for dwarves but are surrounded by orcs. I’m not sure Shiozou’s weapon of bow and arrow full of wisdom and valour, but it was a flop and they take a sound beating. They collapse an entire day only to be awakened by the sound of a damsel’s scream. Seems the orcs are harassing her. The duo try to chicken out but are surprised when the orcs run away in fear. Think it’s them? Maybe it’s that giant dwarf (pun not intended) behind them. Oh yeah. They got beaten up again.

Episode 3
• Today’s theatre is about the main races: Newtar (humans), Cognite (elves) Elmony (chibi elves) & Pandemos (devil-like beasts).
• Bukotsu allows Chuu to go on a quest thinking she’ll receive a pair of cute Shippu wings. Turns out to be bat wings and she uses it as a face mask. Not cute!
Angelica laments to her friend Karen that wants to fall in love. She starts drooling when she sees couples nearby in lovey-dovey mode. She decides to go hunting. For men? No, for mice! To take out her frustrations of course. Poor mice. After beating up a few of them, she spots a Cognite guy rescuing a damsel in distress. They fall in love and hit it off. Angelica gets an idea to get attacked by large beasts so this could also happen. Well, she got attacked by a zombie but it seems she’s beating it up in her fear. She is rescued by a Pandemos guy who also advises her to be careful. Angelica totally falls for him. Hey, at least she’s not picky about looks. She decides to hunt more monsters so that she could be powerful as him and fight along his side. One day Pandemos guy is in a pinch but is saved by Angelica. She manages to ask him to go out with her but got instantly rejected simply because he doesn’t like women stronger than him or being protected by them as it’s not his style. Karen felt sorry for her but it seems Angelica is over it quickly as she starts chasing a cute Elmony kid walking by. Now do we understand why she can’t get a guy?
• A Newtar guy waits for a Cognite girl. He thinks the present she gives him is for his birthday. Turns out to be an orc’s nose. Upon her request, he puts it on and she finds it extremely cute and makes him promise never to take it off. So wherever he goes, Newtar guy gets chased by other races as they deem it as an offense or provocation. Don’t think he’s going to break the promise soon.
• Waragecha 5 are extremely bored because they’ve annihilated every bandit there is! WTF?! Then they get a call from a group of robbers who plan to rob Nishigin using some mammoth and then enlarging it via Dominon spell to fill the bank and cause the customers to faint. They’re confident Waragecha 5 will never make it. However the quintet use a secret (but cheap) technique call Character Change to change outfit and thus able to teleport. Inside Nishigin, they use a Baby Gigas, enlarging it and breaking the entire building. Yeah, Waragecha beat the robbers to a daylight robbery!
• The news report the chaotic aftermath of the robbery. Monio is on site and it seems the culprits have been captured: The robbers! Though they plead they are innocent, the witnesses do not believe them because they heard them saying about using Dominion to rob the bank (remember that call to Waragecha 5? Yeah, backfired…). To add salt to injury, Waragecha 5 got the guts to appear in front of them and beat them up for trying to be in denial! WTF?!

Episode 4
• Today’s topic is about friendship.
• A Pandemos guy in drag disguises as an evangelist named Rosario, going around spreading ‘her’ advices of love around the world with his assistant James. Their first ‘victim’ is a Pandemos lady as Rosario smacks her with a thornless love and departs ‘her’ knowledge on love aspects. Like she cares. They notice her out of fashion skirt so James instantly makes her a new one. Rosario forces her to put it on and why does it seem like cosplay? As the duo leave, the lady ponders who this weird old guy is. Rosario gives her that look so she corrects herself by referring to Rosario as madam. With that over, the lady suddenly finds herself surrounded by lots of guys truly madly deeply in love with her. So is it the costume? Next ‘victim’ is an Elmony loli James ‘fishes’ out from the sea. Rosario proceeds to put a number on her swimsuit as part of his twisted ideal of perfect love to attract lolicons! Well, she got chased by giant sea monsters. I don’t know if they’re in love with her or want to eat her. Next they force a Newtar girl (who is a chef) to put on a maid outfit which results in all her Elmony subordinates to fall for her. Want her to be like a maid cafe, eh? Finally they see a group of men dancing by the sea in loincloth. Rosario gets excited and joins in. James is shocked and wonders why Rosario was so strict with women but easy on men. Probably he’s gay…
• Monio is onsite to report a shipwreck and a heap of corpse next to it. He got scared after stepping on a snake but to his relief it’s just its carcass. Then he realizes he’s being surrounded by several of those poisonous snakes. He is so scared that he sounded like a chicken! He tries to escape but gets hit away by a giant scorpion. He lands at where all those corpses are. Now we know how they came to be, eh?
• Waragecha 5 are bored again but they get a call from Black. Since her words aren’t clear, they deduce that she’s being held at Tartarossa Palace. They rush over, battling through Ichcyon mermen and Tartarossa pelicans. They see Black lying unconscious on the ground and are saddened that they didn’t make it in time. Then Black wakes up. She was just sleepy. She called them to show them a flower that they can use to dye their uniforms. The problem was it took too long to bloom so she fell asleep while waiting. With that, the rest decide to leave her here and return back to base and go through all those obstacles again.

Episode 5
• Today’s topic is skill.
• Angelica is all over that Elmony boy, El-kun she fell for and decides to level up her skills via sewing by making him new clothes. However she learns the hard way as she has to break her back and harvest materials. Thankfully Karen lends her a helping hand. After putting her heart and soul into it, she manages to give happy El-kun as her present. Karen is disappointed that the clothes turn out to be a simple yukata. You don’t need high skills for that. However Angelica insists that there is a difference between hers. Upon closer inspection, Karen sees fine prints of the words “Angelica Love”! Angelica gets psyched up to make more clothes. For instance, clothes that are suitable for Halloween and Christmas. Angelica returns with a heap of clothes presents. So how much clothes has she sewn? Let’s say if they both change clothes every day for 365 days, the new clothes can last them for 30 years! WTF?! Just then, they notice El-kun missing and he has left behind a letter to Angelica. It says that her love is so big that he doesn’t think he could answer it and wants her to forget about him as there will be another person suitable person for her. In short, he dumped her. Karen feels sorry for her but Angelica doesn’t seem to mind though it’s obvious she’s forcing herself to be happy. She gives the returned yukata and letter to Karen’s pet, Uu-chan to devour and also the rest of the clothes she made. What a waste. Later Karen decides to go cheer up depressed Angelica but she finds out she’s sad because she accidentally gave Uu-chan ate her money and wants it back!
• Bukotsu is looking for a new backpack and is happy that Chuu has made a new one for him. However it turns out to be a kiddie elephant and bear backpack.
• As their name suggests, we see the success and failure attempts of Lucky and Unlucky.
• MoE Enterprise Troop is infiltrating the ocean depths in their submarine. Turns out that Shiozou and Phillip have toy submarines attached to their heads and are just submerged in some pool water. Phillip gets a leg cramp and drags Shiozou along with him. Their floatation device saves them from drowning but they can’t move since it requires a ridiculously long password so they drown. Infiltrating the underground cemetery of Mutum, they see a scary tomb and give and excuse that it isn’t suspicious and move on. Then they are attacked by bats and when they counter attack using special skills, it seems so comical that they blunder without the enemies doing anything. Like Shiozou’s flames that can’t even boil an egg or Phillips armour that is so heavy that he can’t move. So much so it breaks the ground and they fall deeper underground.

Episode 6
• Today’s topic is heavy. Elmony host thinks Cognite partner is mocking his short stature since she insists that she is light.
• An Elmony kid panics when he realizes he can’t move his legs and walk away. A pair of guys watching explains those who can’t move will throw out any heavy stuff they possess till they realize that money too has weight and will throw that one out too. They make a bet if he would realize if he would use a raising spell before he starts throwing out money. Since they both bet that he won’t realize it, they give up and leave. And that kid still can’t move.
• Tatsuya seems to be doing well in his gun trading business. There is a pretty Pandemos trader, Minami whom he likes and hopes she would notice his feelings (thus the reason why he opened his store next to hers). Then when he thinks she’s making a move on him, turns out that she just wanted to buy his gun. Oh, the heartbreak.
Black creates new suits for her Waragecha 5 pals. A loincloth? Haha, she’s just kidding. The actual set of clothes turns their sailor uniforms into Power Rangers-like outfits. Then they go everywhere (including in the middle of dangerous scenes and processions) just to take poses! They want people to notice them! They think Black put in so much effort so they need to appeal more. I think they just want to show off, that’s all. A mysterious field opens in front of them and out comes a giant robot. He knows about them so they think they’ve finally gotten popular. However he dismisses it so Yellow tells him off all the pain and troubles Black went through to make, sell and give away these clothes (not sure if they’re all true but they sound pretty exaggerated). The robot tells them off to stop making it emotional and mocks something about account holders of game users, which causes Waragecha 5 to zap him several times. Finally he tells of his true identity: He is the producer of this programme, P#1! Waragecha 5 aren’t amused and think he’s using the programme for personal gain. They continue to zap him and he condemns their dirty trick. Waragecha 5 proceed to lecture him about justice so he tells them off that they are no different than bandits. Thing is, they didn’t deny but admit it! Plus, to them justice always wins! So whoever wins means justice, eh? What screwed up thinking. Waragecha 5 combine their attacks to beat the crap out of P#1 till his head gets warped into another portal. Another justice victory! However they feel that won’t be the last of him. P#1 returns to his floating fortress and the defeated pilot comes of its head. He’s going to get his revenge via another stronger machine, P#2.

Episode 7
• Today’s topic is about party. No, not birthday parties. But the one whereby you form comrades.
• Bukotsu and Chuu are overlooking from above a very tall tower. She asks if he would die for her so he gladly says yes. She pushes him off the cliff!!! Then she uses a spell to transport his corpse next to her to avoid him from climbing back up.
• A Pandemos lady warrior defeats a Death Knight and sees a Cognite woman and Newtar girl do the same. They decide to form a party when a hyper genki Elmony also joins in (she dances each time she is happy). They agree to find a mummy for Elmony so she could get some curse and end the quest. However she proves to be tad annoying like bringing hordes of Death Knights back to them and letting them get beaten up while Elmony runs away because she has no fighting skills. Then she gets ‘killed’ when she walks ahead after spotting the mummy. Then when the rest plan to fight the Death Knights as distraction so that Elmony can go get the mummy, she gets killed instead. Then regrouping again, they plan to fight and bring the mummy to her. After doing so, the mummy curses her and now she has to run up to the guard at the third floor. However halfway through the curse wears off and now they have to do it all over again. Easy for Elmony to say. Yeah, it feels like the rest are being ordered around.
• A pair of radio hosts of All Night Diaros’ Midnight talks about Ichcyon. One of them believes there are just part timers wearing suits of it and doing it in shifts due to some Washington Treaty that they are endangered species. Of course the other guys don’t believe and the whole radio show is about them arguing on this.
• A pair of giant Gigas are wrecking havoc on a group of people. P#2 uses his Super Tage Tori Beam on the Gigas so that they will follow him in his plot to gain revenge on Waragecha 5. Speaking of the quintet, they get a call of P#2’s rampage (firing Sour Missile and Rocket Pants?! WTF?!) and head to the scene. He thinks they have finally fallen into his trap when they blast him. Of course he isn’t happy of their dirty tricks but they continue to mock and insult him for abusing his show powers and common sense of how the world works! P#2 calls on the Gigas to beat up Waragecha 5 but they pound on him instead. As explained, his Super Tage Tori Beam makes the target go against the person who put it on them. Yeah, P#2 thinks he screwed up on the naming! P#2 is prepares to charge at them but Yellow picks up a stone and throws at him. The entire machine falls apart! Well, it was on the verge of breaking anyway. Justice wins! P#2’s head flies back to his fortress but still hasn’t given up on his revenge yet as he has a stronger P#3 machine.

Episode 8
• Today’s topic is Shippu (something like one’s rank in an occupation).
• Monio is reporting at an Orc school. They are doing some smelling exercise which creeps him out. The Cognite newscaster warns him of a certain female orc named Akiko but Monio isn’t worried. Akiko is next to him and before he knows it, he is cut off from camera.
• Rosario and James continue annoying, oops I mean, spreading the love to the girls like exchanging a female Cognite’s spectacles to a geeky one, handing over a wand and a racoon to an Elmony girl while making over her front ahoge with various outrageous fashion to increase her magical girl appeal (she got bitten by the racoon by the way) and putting a pair of elephant ears on a Newtar and Pandemos lady when they ignore them. However they like it and almost got into trouble when they addressed him as ‘uncle’. I guess Rosario went too far as he even tried to spread his love to the sandworms and got chased instead.
• Green manages to create Waragecha Robo in a week and shows it to the rest. However she collapses not due to exhaustion but hunger. Seems she spend all her money to buy robot parts. After the rest treat her to a glorious meal, she introduces and explains the functions of each Waragecha Vehicles, 5 separate vehicles that parodies those in Thunderbirds that can be combined into Waragecha Robo for convenience. Everyone wants to ride #2 (which is a container craft) so they draw lots to determine who will get to ride which vehicle. Pink is ecstatic to get #2. Then they get a call about P#3’s rampaging (Super Catch Tooth Pulling Beam?! WTF is that?!) and head into action in their new vehicles.

Episode 9
• The hosts seem unhappy and lethargic in today’s topic about beauty. Seems their hairstylist cut them bald!
• The mixed party of female races are up against the evil Beautician. They fear her Coerced Beautification. What is that? She can forcefully change one’s hairstyle. Unfortunately for the girls, they couldn’t escape her strong grip and each got a different unwanted hairstyle like Yamanba (something like ganguro), Mohawk, bob cut and Okami (usually seen on geisha and hostess). When the girls wake up, they laugh at each other’s funny haircut before lamenting their own embarrassment. However they aren’t going to let this slide and are seeking revenge. To counter the problem of getting their hair restyled again, they shaved it bald! Then they confront the Beautician with confidence but it seems she has the ability to grow hair too! In the end, all of them got an afro hairstyle. Bummer.
• Tatsuya is doing well in the blacksmith business selling swords. Then his true love Minami approaches him to buy a new gun since the other one broke due to over-usage in some training. Tatsuya starts fantasizing of giving it free to her in return for her love. When he does so, grateful Minami pats his back so hard that he flew away and got stuck on top of a goddess statue.
• The Midnight radio hosts talk with gossip details about some necromancers dating and the possibly of a love triangle and cheating the other. Of course one doesn’t believe while the other insists it’s true.
• Waragecha 5’s Blue arrives on scene first since her jet is faster. She recklessly bombs around and getting civilians involved. They snap a shot as proof of Waragecha 5’s rampage but it seems due to Green’s technology, any shot they take will come up as a pose from Green. P#3 forces the giant Water Undine to attack Blue but she bombs it away. Then when her pals arrive, they unite into Waragecha Robo. However due to some flaws, Yellow is upside-down and Pink is in a cramp space. Green tells them off not to complain since she is the calmest one to make decisions in battle. P#3 throws a tantrum that he was ignored the last time while insisting he is this show’s producer. But a giant shadowy figure appears before them.
• Bukotsu is fighting several Tartarossa pelicans. He is losing energy when Chuu throws him something to eat to replenish his strength. Turns out to be a puffer fish. And the poison isn’t removed! Oh, he’s so dead meat!

Episode 10
• Today’s topic is nothing. That’s right. Nothing. No wonder this part is so fast.
• A silent movie style from Collon’s point of view of her times spent with Rono and then they got separated during the war but is confident they will meet again. That irony turns out to be a tragic one as Collon continued fighting on her own and one stormy night she accidentally kills Rono thinking he was the enemy (she recognized a heart memento she gave him before they part). Oh dear. It’s just so sad, too sad. This has got to be the saddest and the only gloomiest skit ever!
• The news has Monio reporting some Pandemos lady being able to fish treasure boxes out of the sea. However nothing happens. Even the next time round when it’s midnight, it looks like as though she may have caught something but her fishing rod broke. Then the next day, after catching more than 250 sharks, could it finally be the treasure? Turns out to be another shark! Suddenly Chuu and Bukotsu and the former easily fishes out a treasure box! The Pandemos lady got so upset…
• Chuu and Bukotsu plan to eat onigiri on the mountain top when they face a menacing bear. Bukotsu beats it up and they see an onigiri dropping out from it. Peeking round the corner, they spot a mother bear feeding its cubs with onigiri! They decide to go elsewhere to have their meal.
-Shiozou and Philip are trying to use some secret scroll technique against a wolf. Reading from it, it seems like a technique to tame dogs by petting their tummy. Shiozou dangles a meat and this attracts a pack of other wolves. In the end, they bite his hand.
• Continuing from the previous episode, the so called final boss blasts P#3 with her Major Idiot scream blast. Then he hits him away and fires him! Waragecha 5 continues to be defensive with this turn of events and plan to wait for the enemy to make the first move. Suddenly the final boss starts fawning over them and apologizing over her subordinate’s troublemaking ways. Plus, P#3 did everything on his own accord and never listened to her. She wants them to continue the way they are since they are very popular. Once they both turn their backs and walk away, the final boss suddenly turns around and fires a “Don’t Give Me That Crap” beam. However Waragecha 5 saw this coming and separate to their individual vehicles to avoid getting him. Well, it takes one villain to know how the other is thinking. Seems it is a ploy by P#3 and the final boss to get their guard down and attack them. The boss understands why they are on par evil as them but Waragecha 5 remains that they are protectors of justice and that they are the villains! Waragecha 5 combine into a second and cooler version of Waragecha Robo.
• Bukotsu is preparing to enter a fighting ring against Collon. Chuu gives him an item for good luck and ties it to his head. When he enters the ring, his opponents start laughing uncontrollably after seeing the ribbon on his head.

Episode 11
• No opening explanation theatre? Yeah, they just jump straight into the skits. Nothing else to say since the last episode, eh? Have they covered everything we need to know?
Fukui is the commentator for the Fire Of The Kitchen cooking tournament. The competitors are knife wielding Musashi, fire user Mai Mai and flirtatious cooking Juliano. They are to prepare a dish based on the theme of mother’s taste but they start sabotaging each other’s preparations so much so it descended into some farce. And the co-commentator, supposedly some master chef, Hattori is only interested in reading his magazines or make bad puns of the situation. In the end, all the competitors turn each other into animals. Can’t proceed anymore, eh?
• Monio is doing an interview with some runner guy who is running a marathon for 720 hours straight. He’s running for only 3 hours and is already sounding so out of breath! So why the heck is he running this much? Well, just for the fun of it and no particular reason since 24 hour marathon is so common. WTF?!
• Tatsuya is digging iron to make guns. As usual he starts fantasizing of Minami. He realized he is surrounded by enemies but luckily for him, Minami is there to scare them away with her gun. She praises the good gun he made for her. Of course he starts fantasizing and expecting that she is going to ask him out on a date but to his dismay, she asks him to make her a Gatling gun next time. Then she hits his back so hard that he tunnels underground till the next city. He sees a gachapon machine with the ultimate Gatling gun as a prize. A lady tries her luck and wins it on her first go. Tatsuya decides to try his but all he got was pocket tissues! He’s got a mountain of them! Hey, how can all those tissues fit into that tiny vending machine?
• Ranka writes to her sister that she is into fabric dyeing and plans to make her a pretty coloured t-shirt. She goes diving in the ocean to find some michihcin flower. She sees a sea bear and thinks it is drowning and goes rescue it but was chased instead. On the next try, she manages to find the flower but is surrounded by sharks and manta rays. Though she manages to escape ashore, she is knocked out by some butcher guy.
• The boss fires her “Screw This Crap” beam at Waragecha Robo. However they use some unfair technique called Cannon Energy Conversion Apparatus that absorbs the beam and increase their… Music abilities? Anyway they finish off the adversaries by playing their theme song! Argh! Can’t stand it. They exploded. After hearing it in every episode, it’s understandable. Though they feel unsatisfied with this kind of victory (because listening to their song will cause you to explode), all that matters is that they won because being strong is justice!

Episode 12
• Bukotsu thinks it would be nice if Chuu knows how to dance. Taking this an insult, Chuu quickly summons a Ghost Dance. It wasn’t up to Bukotsu’s cute expectations.
• The mixed female party plan to eat eel to heal their tired bodies. However they get scared upon seeing how big it is. The eel starts chasing them on land and they got electrocuted. But by a stroke of luck, the cliff falls and kills the eel. However their victory is hollow since none of them knows how to cook.
Angelica thinks cooking is the in-thing to get boyfriends as her delusions cause her to lead to some sleazy imagination. Yes, she’s in love again. This time she gave her bread to a hungry guy, Myuuta. He was so grateful and gobbled up her delicious bread, so Angelica got this resolve to cook for him and fill him up. And yes, Karen is forced to help her out. You can tell her cooking level when she can’t even fry a decent egg and there’s a hole in the frying pan! You can’t blame Karen for being lethargic. She gives her a taiyaki headgear to improve her cooking skill. Angelica goes on to cook a huge feast for happy Myuuta as he chows down every ridiculous dish she makes. This goes on and on till one day Karen spots a very fat Myuuta running away. Seems he realized his body physique and has to stop eating Karen’s food since there is only so much he can take (having large appetite doesn’t mean he can eat in big quantity). Yeah, he needs to go run a marathon now. What does this mean? This means Angelica is dumped. Again. Poor Angelica is reduced to tears that the 5000 dishes she put her heart and soul into it are wasted. Isn’t that too much?!
• For the Midnight radio programme, they’re talking about pets and it ends up with them arguing about a mammoth who can cook.
• A trainer is training his student Holy Drunken Boxing. He is tired when suddenly a WTF moment. Several full-body animal mascots start singing and dancing the MoE theme song on stage, bringing the guys on stage to join in the merry event. At the end, they get pumped up to fight and as they confront the giant eel, the trainer instantly got knocked out.
• Waragecha 5 are so bored that they can even have time to break the fourth wall by saying how their lines are recycled due to lazy writing and that this is the last episode. The cheer each other up by talking about the good times. Suddenly their Waragecha Robo crashes as they realize they are being surrounded by a group of army led by the boss of bandits. He is going to end their reign. Suddenly a group of characters in Waragecha suit speaking (yes speaking, not singing) the Waragecha 5’s theme song as they go battle the army. In the big ruckus, Waragecha 5 feels honoured that there are people who understand them. They decide say goodbye and end everything by detonating everyone!
• An Elmony kid manages to defeat a wolf creature but feels gloomy though victorious. Then it’s that WTF moment again. Yeah, the mascot MoE theme song and dance. Why not join them? In the end, he feels pumped up to fight but his summoned bat dies at first hit.
• The hosts for the Opening Explanation Theatre appear in the final skit and thanking viewers for watching this show. The Cognite host sterilizes the Elmony kid with a flame thrower as a final gag. Huh? I don’t get it.

When another age ends, a new age begins…
Well, it was pretty much okay. The jokes were spontaneous and many of the skits can serve as a stand alone. At times I was laughing simply because it was funny enough for a two year old to understand rather than having any background knowledge of the game mechanics. Speaking of which, after every skit, there will be an informative guide on a particular skill, spell, character, location among the many weird items that I believe you will find if you play the game. Some even how to achieve it and its characteristics. It must be one helluva epic game since it even show you weird stuffs like dancing and cooking, whether or not you find it useful is a different story altogether. Some of them are pretty amusing to read but because I don’t really know the game, it’s like trying to read advanced calculus. So you could say that most of them (in fact all) do not have any significant bearing on me since I’m not planning to play any sort of RPG game any time soon.

Of all the recurring skits, the most amusing one has got to be Waragecha 5. Yeah, a band of loli bandits trying to bring their own kind of justice to the world. Like the saying: A thief with a noble cause is still a thief. But look at it this way, if they have beaten up all the villains and baddies, then there won’t be any more ‘evil’ in this world, right? I have to admit that their theme song is annoyingly infectious. They must have played that tune so many times that each time when they play it, I would instinctively sing along the chorus. “Gangangangangan, Warage, Warage, Waragecha 5~”. Oh no. Am I under their spell? As long as I don’t get my butt kick from them, I’ll be fine. Angelica’s skit is another amusing one because she simply overdoes her love. If she kept it in moderation, the guys that she dated probably wouldn’t have run away. Yeah, when she puts her mind to something, she really goes all out in obsession. Nobody wants a crazy woman like that! Chuu and Bukotsu’s skit seems to be the shortest among the regulars and the way things indicate Bukotsu may have a thing for Chuu. Too bad Chuu doesn’t realize it. Monio is always getting into some sort of trouble in his reporting (shows that the world of journalism is a dangerous one even in RPG world) while MoE Enterprise Troop are probably the dumbest pair ever in the series.

During the course of the skit, sometimes you can see the characters’ emoticon in a word balloon but it isn’t going to be those little yellow smiley faces that we are very familiar with. They seem squarish, blocky and a bit like robot. The mid-intermission feels like a stop motion animation as we see Uu-chan and some kid fooling around. Usually Uu-chan is the naughty one chasing the poor blonde kid. Whether it’s taking a nap on the hammock, swinging on the swing or swapping head and body. The opening theme is Miracle Episode 1 and as mentioned it sounded like a kiddie song fit for Disney Channel. But that’s just the beginning and you’ll find that this piece will turn out to be another typical anime pop. See how happy everybody is, walking side by side? Mamorasete by Ui Miyazaki for the ending theme sounds moderate pace but it wasn’t anything memorable. Though the ending credit animation is just a still picture, I wonder why the characters are dressed in elaborated costumes. Not that I see them donning it in any of the skits.

I have this mixed feelings about the voice acting. No, it’s not that they suck. The issue is that the same seiyuu voices the same race regardless if the character is a different role altogether. For instance, every male Pandemos you see is voiced by the late Daisuke Gouri (of Dragonball fame). At first it might be confusing because you’d be wondering if this Pandemos guy is the same as in the previous skit. Then you realize that he isn’t because of his clothing, accessories (if any) and role in the sketch. Just that the voice is just the same. It feels like they’re trying to ‘save’ cost by having the same person voicing several roles but then again, for easier recognition I guess it’s best to have the same voice and it won’t be feasible to have many seiyuus for the many sketches and different characters. So don’t be surprised to hear every female Pandemos by Gara Takashima, every male Elmony by Mayumi Tanaka, each female Newtar by Hiroko Kasahara, all the male Newtar by Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Hiromi Tsuru as female Cognites and Kazuhiko Inoue playing all the male Cognites. But each of the Waragecha will have their own distinctive voice like Nana Inoue as Blue, Tomoko Kaneda as Pink, Yui Shoji as Yellow, Momoko Saito as Green and Ui Miyazaki as Black. Of course if you see any other female Elmony that resemble closely to one of these five in other skits, you bet that seiyuu will also voice that loli Elmony character.

It dawned to me that living in this RPG fantasy world is much tougher than in the real world because you’d have to do lots of stuff (even if they sound silly) just to level yourself up. Then consider all the dangers around you, it’d be a death wish if you don’t have the necessary skills to fight back or at least defend yourself. It’s amazing how the pacifist Ranka survived all this while. Oh wait, I forgot that there are resurrection spells here. Unless you’re trying to juggle with both your real life and virtual online life, that would be even tougher. Looks like the Animation Age is far from over the way things are going. But I wonder what age will come after that seeing that no age really lasts forever. Maybe it’ll be the Otaku Age! Perhaps by then it’ll really be known as the Master of Moe.

Seems like they haven’t been evicted yet. Heck, who would dare to?! Arakawa Under The Bridge x Bridge didn’t feel like a sequel but rather a direct continuation from the first season. It’s like as though the show took a season’s worth of break before resuming the series. You could say that all the wacky mayhem continues directly from where it all left off at the end of the first season.

A basic recap of what this series is all about. We have Kou, the son of the famous Ichinomiya Company who finds himself becoming the boyfriend of one of the Arakawa residents, Nino. Just because he has never been in debt before and wishes not to be in one. So yes, as weird as Nino and all the other residents of the riverbank goes, common sense is literally non-existent so you can say Riku (Kou’s new nickname as a resident here) is having a hard time adjusting or talking sense into these bunch of misfits. Along the way, he learns and grows closer to Nino.

Episode 1
Nino wakes up from a strange dream. Too bad her sleepwalking means Riku bears the brunt of her actions. Yeah, at his place. Riku wishes to help with her sleepwalking problem by suggesting that she sleeps here. She agrees since they are lovers. But he didn’t expect what she meant was they should swap places. Yeah, she lives in his room while he gets to sleep in hers. Riku moves into Nino’s place for the first time and the first annoyance he encounters is Hoshi’s annoying love song just outside the curtains. Riku just ignores him while Hoshi finds out too late that it’s not the girl he loves who is listening. Of course there are other residents who are surprised to see Riku in Nino’s place like Piko and Chief. Some lame excuse they give just to excuse themselves. That night, Riku becomes paranoia that Nino may be settling comfortably in his place so he panics to make her own place more comfy so she can return. Pulling out the drawers of the bed, he finds fine quality fabric. Then Nino appears. He thinks he’s a goner for peeping. Thankfully, she’s just sleepwalking as she collapses onto the bed. Riku pulls a blanket over her when she starts kicking his stomach. Then she locks him in the drawer and for a guy like him, sleeping underneath there can be one hell of an uncomfortable experience.

The gang are playing baseball when the ball flies out of range. Guess who has the honour of picking it up? Yeah, Riku has to trek all the way to who knows where just to find the ball with a celebrity’s signature that probably doesn’t exist. He encounters a large sized woman, Amazoness. Wait a minute. He didn’t end up in Brazil, didn’t he? Uh… That signboard indicates he is still in Saitama. This part will be continued later as the scene turns into Arakawa Marathon Championship. While the guys are running, the girls will be waiting at the other end. Shiro seems fast and leading by a mile and heading for an easy victory till he ran out of white lines and had to u-turn to replenish. So it’s Riku and Hoshi with the usual insulting and mocking as they race neck to neck to the finish line. Just as Riku thinks he is going to cross the finish line (because Hoshi is already in some Budoukan delusion), Shiro suddenly zooms pass and pips Riku for the win! And you thought he already dropped out. Billy and Jacqueline must be the smartest runners in the marathon. Not only did they enjoy a romantic moment together, they had Sister do the running for them because they’re sitting right on top of his heavy backpack load while admiring the sunset as Sister pants it out. Even if they don’t win the race, I’m sure they are winners in other areas. Lastly, we see Nino’s dream of seeing her young self being blasted into space with her parents and other Venusian aliens. Huh?

Episode 2
Continuing from Riku’s encounter with Amazoness, he is bloody sure he didn’t wander into the Amazon forest because Amazoness has 3 tengu underlings. More like guys in tengu masks. Amazoness thinks he is trying to search for their treasure but of course we know he couldn’t be bothered with their nonsense and wants to go home. Probably it’s part of their conspiracy or their dumbness when they show him the treasure which turns out to be Master Softee ice cream (a Saitama novelty) in a golden refrigerator. Hey, you can get those around here! They are going to torture him by… Asking for his driver’s licence? Seeing that it is legal, they let him off. WTF?! Riku gets pisses off with the whole thing so he blows his top by eating the Master Softee! Amazoness shoots a blowpipe at him. Thinking he is going to die, it dawned to him that the blowpipe was a Cheetos snack! He abruptly wakes up to find his Arakawa pals around him. They don’t believe him meeting Amazoness and think they were too harsh on him making go look for the ball. As for Amazoness and her tengus, they really do exist as they talk about Riku eating the fake Master Softee and the real one is somewhere else.

It’s a nice morning for Riku but it’s ruined when he sees a SF Nerd cosplay guy lying unconscious on top of the bridge’s pillar. He brings him to Sister and when he regains consciousness, he mentions how he was put up there by a bunch of naughty kids. Do we see a trend here? However he claims he climbed up there on his free will. Riku starts to fear when he starts displaying his weird behaviour. Yeah, his suit is supposed to protect him from being charred by the sun? Oh no. Chief and Hoshi come in after hearing they have a visitor. Seems birds of the same feathers flock together. Yeah, they can really click. Oh, the idiots! This crackpot claims he is the captain of the Earth Defence Force and will protect this world from aliens. Riku decides to chase him out by playing along, claiming that he is an alien. That’s when he starts to narrate how he saw Nino the other night and her incredible leap. It gets ridiculous how Venusians are trying to alter the life force on Earth and that Nino’s snot is the real alien controlling her body. Riku scares him with thoughts that she could destroy the planet on a whim so he better leave. He is in a dilemma but Hoshi, Chief and Sister decide to stick by his side and fight! So when Nino appears for real, she gives the weirdo her typical greeting of stuffing fresh seafood in his mouth till he chokes! Because of that, he gets scared and runs away. And thus, the danger of another resident added to the riverbank was averted. Phew! This place doesn’t need anymore weirdoes.

Episode 3
Riku and Nino swap back their original rooms. Riku is doing spring cleaning because his room stinks with fish smell. Ugh! Then he discovers a radio cassette left behind by Nino and becomes curious to hear what’s on it. He is in a moral dilemma whether to do so or not but in the end, curiosity kills the cat. After hearing the first few nonsensical lines, it’s getting to the interesting part. The tape is addressing the Queen of Venus when suddenly Nino comes in. She goes into shock so he tries to apologize but she puts on a defensive mode and confiscates the box of cassettes. Oh no. He is in real trouble indeed. Nino becomes some sort of a wild animal that she isolates herself on the telephone pole. Attempts to get her down fail like Sister’s cookies (she used telepathy to summon the crows to pick it up from his hands!). Riku is desperate so much so he would even try Maria‘s methods of reading cue cards. They are all just nonsense and of course it’s part of her ploy to get some sadistic kick. Finally Riku apologizes again and assures her he will accept Nino for whoever she is. This time Nino drops the box. However she seems angrier than before and as Chief advises him to think hard because it will weigh heavier on his heart rather on his body. After everyone leaves, Nino comes down as Riku is going to play the tapes. When he does so, they hear Hoshi’s singing of “Himo, himo, himo, himo” (gigolo). Urm… Looks like he recorded over it… Though Riku remains apologetic, Piko gives him her piece of mind of what he has done. The girls organize a pyjamas party to cheer her up. They talk about their ideal kind of guy (some going overboard with the fantasy) when Riku comes in again. He wants Nino to listen to his secrets since he has listened to hers. How come they all sound like boastful achievements? Piko kicks him out but Riku is still adamant to have Nino hear him out. He’s saying his inside will burst each time he sees her making that face. But Riku feels that no matter what he says, his words didn’t get through her heart. He suddenly hugs her and his sincere apology finally got through her. The real tape seems to be with Chief as he mentions it is still too early for him to hear.

Episode 4
Piko decides to make a film to make something out of Riku and Nino’s relationship. Partly it’s for her unrequited love for Chief too. Riku becomes the director and after hearing the ridiculous triangle plot and casting, it’s no wonder Billy withdrew. Shooting begins with lots of the usual antics like Nino forgetting her lines and the film turning into a CG-spam fantasy flick without even reaching the editing stage. Then a scene whereby it involves Last Samurai and Chief’s final showdown over Piko, it turns out to be a duel to see who is the better one to play some swordsman. Piko becomes a tragic heroine because she got slashed in between the swords. Oh, how awful! When the film is finished, it turns out to be heavily edited because every scene only has pictures of Riku! Yeah, that Takai old bugger hasn’t give up on his ‘son’ yet. So gay! The Arakawa guys are doing a haunted house for the festival. Riku is challenged by Hoshi to enter it. Of course each of the scare tactics weren’t effective on Riku and it isn’t that he got scared. For example, it was Shiro trying to hang himself rather than a floating tofu. And Piko in a cat outfit seems more cute than scary. Plus, she has a sunny disposition so how can Riku be scared out of his wits? Hoshi and Nino team up to scare Riku so much so he will scream his mother’s name. They put a pair of sunglasses over his eyes to make the room darker (but Nino messed up and put a pair of normal specs instead) and when Riku sees himself in the mirror, he screamed out his father’s name instead because he saw a splitting image of his dad! Woah! That’s got to be scary!

Episode 5
Guess who is back? Yeah, it’s that SF Nerd! Weirdoes keep coming back, eh? Chief is willing to give him a chance to stay and if he’s still here in a month, he’ll give him a name. He takes out his doujin and shows it to Chief. Yeah, since he is the star of it, he suddenly accepts him and calls him Master! Oh no. Another new resident! He has also drawn the others and it seems Riku’s one is like a loser. He failed lots of job interviews? Riku is determined to find his true identity and gets him to sign him an autograph. Potato Chip Kuwabara? That’s his manga pen name? Riku does research and this guy really does exist. He goes to see Sister but sees Potato drawing his manga. Worse, Nino is his assistant and helping him out. Then Potato’s editor found him (Riku did his civic duty of calling him) and wants him to return. His emotional plea of not wanting him to run away to disappoint his fans has Chief saying that he already has a name so he can’t live here. The editor assures that he gets to draw anything he wants. With that Potato returns and draws some sci-fi manga using the Arakawa residents battling the evil Venusian Nino. Though Chief is taken in by his work, the rest of the normal world citizens think he’s so washed up. It’s amazing how this crap got through the publishing. While talking on anniversaries, Nino mentions today Jacqueline has an important meeting with Billy. Today is also the day that Billy risked his life to rescue Jacqueline from slavery of her bee hives. Doesn’t it feel like a clash between species? They all go to spy on Jacqueline waiting and it seems she is becoming anxious with Billy’s no-show. Yeah, she thinks every cockatoo she sees is Billy! Suddenly a Sparrow-head guy jumps in. He is panicking that Billy is going to get killed. He tells of Billy’s popularity in some national mobster thingy and was respected till he touched the boss’ woman. So the reason he returned was to because he promised her he would. Then they realize Jacqueline is the boss’ woman. She straps on her kimono and settle things once and for all. She plans on ending her life with her stinger when Billy comes back. The lovers reunite. But Sparrow thinks it’s sad because they have got his wings clipped. But Billy doesn’t need to fly away anymore there’s only one person he loves. Aww… How manly and romantic.

Episode 6
Shimazaki is under pressure from Kou’s dad to find out more about Nino but she couldn’t find any more info on her. Then a mysterious figure (Chief?) suddenly appears from behind her and warns her of sticking her nose in any further or she’ll be killed. While Riku is conducting his business meeting with Takai and Shimazaki, Nino makes a ruckus by thrashing the meeting table and putting her shoe on Riku’s head. Then he learns her parents got in touch with her and wants him to come to her room for a private chat. Shimazaki takes this opportunity to tail them and find out more but gets into weird but embarrassing traps set by Maria. Then she meets Shiro and starts falling for him. Yeah, looks like she got distracted from her mission. Meanwhile at Riku and Nino, she wants to give her heart but doesn’t know what to do. She reveals that she has to leave this riverbank and even knew this before he became her lover. She’s going home to Venus. Sure, it’s not some place on Earth? The part Nino couldn’t understand was even though she knew they have to part, she didn’t want to leave him. She didn’t want to leave everyone in the riverbank. So she pleads to Riku if he could come with her to Venus. Once they leave, they may never come back here. Riku agrees to follow her and starts fantasizing the kind of parents she have. However Hoshi has overheard their conversation and in his desperation puts on Nino’s finger a flowery engagement ring to claim her. Then some of the other residents also overheard her leaving to Venus and wonder if they can tag along. Riku spots Potato doing his manga sketch on Nino. Seems like he’s doing a stalker’s diary because he drew every move of Nino’s.

Episode 7
Chief and Shiro are drinking together and it turns out into an argument of who is older. Anyway the Arakawa residents are undergoing physical examinations courtesy of Takai and Shimazaki’s equipment. Diet freak Piko is close to a zombie, Stella‘s incredible height transformation, and Chief’s inner fan coolants are part of the antics you’ll see. Shimazaki blushes when it’s Shiro’s turn. She is having trouble speaking her mind but eventually her message is deciphered wrongly because the irregular heartbeat wasn’t interpreted as a love message but a serious medical condition by Shiro. Hoshi and Sister decide to become sick after seeing Nino gently caring for Riku. He feels he is faring better of his family’s hereditary disease as he doesn’t choke as often when stressed. When Riku finds out Hoshi is attempting to make himself sickly to get Nino’s attention, the competition of who will become more ill takes place. But Nino mentions that if they’re sick, they can’t break through the atmosphere and go to Venus. So the next test is to evaluate how well they will fare in space together. For the best simulation and training for cooperation, they will be locked up in Sister’s underground room for a week. The girls will do theirs first but Jacqueline drops out seeing she can’t stand a moment without Billy. The rest of the girls are doing well interacting and keeping themselves company but by the 6th day, Maria couldn’t take it anymore because she hasn’t been mocking anyone since. Yeah, it’s like her withdrawal symptom. She insults Piko so much that she got paralyzed. Then everyone got so crazy and dash out of the room, leaving Nino as the only one left. Now it’s the guys’ turn. Riku realizes that this Chief is fake but Jacqueline in a kappa suit! The real Chief is outside and isn’t going to sweat himself out. Seeing that this is all-boys only, Billy takes Jacqueline out together. With Sister totally focused deep in his thoughts and Shiro fixing his machine, Riku needs to think of something to keep the sanity with Hoshi and Samurai. He spots Piko’s diary during the girls’ stint and starts reading it. Seven days later, the girls pay a visit and to their surprise none of them has come out and they hear them happily chatting away. But to their horror, the trio have gone crazy in their own delusion world so I think it’s best to call the doctor. Looks like no one is fit to be an astronaut.

Episode 8
While Riku conducts his open air classroom, he is shock to see Amazoness attending his class. Since Riku was the ‘winner’ of the last Master Softee he ate, Amazoness takes a liking for him but Riku says he already has a girlfriend. Oh, the heartbreak. But she’s not giving up yet as she has her tengus hypnotizing Riku to be on her side. Piko tries to have Riku back to teaching but they ended up argument over Amazoness’ scant clothing. Piko later relates this to Nino about the difference in Riku’s eyes. Nino didn’t think of anything wrong till Riku actually rejected her fish lunch over Amazoness’ bento. Later with Piko’s help, Nino is able to get Riku to go on a date this afternoon. However the tengus overheard this and have Riku go ‘rescue’ Amazoness for some shoplifting crime. Nino patiently waits at her home and when Riku finally shows up, he is holding Amazoness in a wedding dress in his arms! Oh gosh! They’re married because Riku wants to protect her! Plus, he wants Nino to break up with him! He is ready to endure her slap but she punches him in the gut. Didn’t see that coming, eh? Nino couldn’t care less about if they’re married so she and Amazoness have a battle to see who cares more about Riku. Well, it isn’t a fight to the death as thought. Yeah, just drawing circles how big their love for Riku is. WTF?! Hoshi learns that the tengus are behind Riku’s hypnotizing and they want to draft his help seeing that he too would benefit from it. But he rejects their offer. Meanwhile Amazoness is losing out to Nino since the former isn’t as healthy and athletic as the latter. Well, Amazoness mentions if she plays the sick girl, Riku could have protected her but as Nino states, she wants to protect Riku because of his asthma. She extends her hand to help Amazoness up. Riku is having weird dreams. Though he is with Amazoness, he feels lonely and wants to be in the company of Nino and co. Amazoness clones herself to deal with his loneliness but what Riku needs is not a legion of Amazoness but 1 Nino. That’s when he snaps and wakes up from the spell. Riku is going to apologize to Amazoness but before he could finish his sentence, she admits defeat and goes away. Now he apologizes to Nino but she mentions about getting married. What? Now? Here? Well, it’s not what Riku is hoping for since to Nino, wedding means drinking milk while sitting. Nyuu = milk. Chair = seki. Nyuuseki = wedding (actually more like register in the family name). Makes sense, right?

Episode 9
Riku receives a courier but it is attention to Shiro and is from his wife. Important documents? Has she finally had it and wants a divorce? Riku goes to bring the package to Shiro but he seems to be coaching Shimazaki positions for some championship with the machine. After Riku snaps Shimazaki out of her true purpose here, she asks Shiro what is her to him. He says that he wants to walk by her side so she blushes and goes off to practice somewhere. Riku chides Shiro for being a terrible human being but says he is aiming for the doubles championship this time rather than the singles. He finally gives him his wife’s package and it turns out to be a letter supporting his cause and an entry form for the championship. Damn, his wife is too understanding! Later Piko and the rest are having a lovely English tea party but it seems Samurai can’t stand this foreign party and wants to conduct his own traditional tea party. He has the guys come along. Except for Sister, who has to be Maria’s personal servant. Riku and Hoshi attend Samurai and Chief’s traditional tea ceremony and witness all the odd process like Samurai using his topknot as the tea brush and Chief using his kappa shell as a cup. I guess being amateurs, they have no say, right? So they have a go of whatever this wabi thingy is and got so infatuated with it that it looks like they turn into psychos. The girls decide to pay them a visit but see Riku and Hoshi breaking down over the harsh training of the wabi. So tradition is something to drive out newcomers?

Episode 10
For the trip to Venus, everyone is required to diet. Or else, how can you break through the atmosphere, right? First we have Piko’s strawberry diet, a dream diet for every girl. Nino and Stella join her. Jacqueline’s massage therapy has Riku and Chief singing up while Hoshi, the Metal Brothers and Samurai undergo Sister’s Boot Camp. What does this mean? Sister shoots and you run! Well, it’s a great way for them to work out. Even with them shivering is enough to burn lots of calories. Shiro is the only one not going so he will gladly help wherever he can. The results are in. Piko’s group didn’t do well since they gained weight as Piko becomes a crazy person going to great lengths and even eating the strawberry’s leafy top. Yeah, they’re even thinking of cutting of their own hair or soul just to lose weight! Jacqueline’s group has the guys showing off their feminine side while Sister’s group has everyone tanned and ripping in biceps. Shiro then brings some konnyaku as a farewell gift but it seems the insides are filled with fatty foods. Yeah, he doesn’t want to be lonely. Get his drift? With that, all that hard work has reduced the muscular guys back to their usual bodies. Yeah, it’s such a pain to maintain that figure. However Tetsuo is the only one who is maintaining his muscles. He becomes obnoxious and arrogant flexing his power and authority. He doesn’t even listen to Tetsuro anymore. He even got so stuck up that he even challenges Stella to see who is boss. They fight as Tetsuo throws his punches around but Stella is swift and agile as she is in her child body. Then when Stella transforms into a giant, Tetsuo also does the same and now we have a huge battle in gigantic proportions. Tetsuro is adamant to stop his brother so he starts doing push ups. Can doing that in a short time make him muscular? All you need to do is believe in the muscle! And what do you know? Tetsuro is suddenly ripping of muscles! Unbelievable! Stella shrinks to her normal self when Sister says he can see her panties. Now the brothers face-off but Tetsuo taunts Tetsuro’s soft muscles. However Tetsuro says that they need to treat their muscles kindly and not subject them to abuse. After doing lots of muscle flexing show, they both clash as Tetsuo wants his muscles to give him more power. But it seems Tetsuo’s muscles are being absorbed into Tetsuo. It’s like they’re defecting to him! I don’t understand that crap of this Holy Muscle Revolution but Tetsuo is now the skinny boy he is. Though Tetsuro’s body remained muscular for the time being.

Episode 11
It’s the summer festival and the girls are in their yukata. Amazoness is in a hideous one too but she isn’t giving up on Riku yet. She misinterprets that he likes tough girls and is going to snatch him away before Nino’s eyes. For example, biting her finger till it bleeds for the goldfish scooping. Thing is, they’re goldfish not piranhas! Nino does better: She tries to eat the goldfish raw! Then Amazoness and her tengus try to do some cannibalism dance but notices Riku is all over Nino and not looking at her. She feels defeated and shed tears that she’s so lame. However Hoshi says that he thinks she’d be lame if she gives up now. He is disappointed that he thought he has finally met a good woman other than Nino. Amazoness’ love for Hoshi is sealed when he says she looks cute while so enthusiastic about loving that moron. He’s going to show her how it’s done. By pulling Riku’s belt? The next day, the tengus congratulate Hoshi for being the second guy to be accepted by Master Softee. While Riku is having lunch with Nino, Hoshi comes by to cause his usual ruckus. Amazoness is also there with a bento so Hoshi takes it to mock Riku but to everyone’s surprise, there is Hoshi’s picture in it. Amazoness pretends to smash everything. Her words are so contradicting that it is as though she is showing her love for Riku by destroying images of Hoshi. Nino asks her if she likes Hoshi, why she is pretending to like Riku. She becomes a tsundere and starts crying. She can’t tell Hoshi her feelings because she fears he will hate her if he finds out since he likes her enthusiasm for Riku. Nino washes away her tears by putting her face in the water! Almost drowned her! The girls make up and Riku has this jealous feeling that Hoshi may be better than him. Later, Riku, Hoshi, Sister and Samurai spot a sign pointing to the beach but are puzzled since there is no sea at Saitama. However they start believing in it when they see Nino in a bikini surfing pass by. I guess it was enough motivation for them to start running 3 hours to the beach house. Upon arrival, Riku, Hoshi and Samurai start playing and acting all girly but when Sister tries to play along, they felt weird so much so Sister just stayed in the water. Then they heard the voice of a girl drowning. They rush as Hoshi is the only one who reached her (the others fell into some hole trap). Looks like she is Amazoness. It is part of her ploy (conspiracy with Nino too) to have Hoshi rescue her as she confesses her true feelings for him. He apologizes for never realizing it. Amazoness even made Master Softee sticks as a good luck charm vest for him. The rest who are watching are taken in by his manliness. As for the girls, they are enjoying their beach outing down at the riverbed. You don’t need the sand to call it a beach, huh?

Episode 12
All the Arakawa residents will be participating in a King Game. That’s just a nice name for a bloody battle royale. Riku doesn’t want to participate till he hears that the winner will have a wish that everyone must obey. Yeah, how nice if everyone else would treat him nicely and politely. After everyone writes down their wish/decree, the preliminaries begin. Those who are untrained fighters are not seeded and take part in this tournament whereby the last one standing wins (you mustn’t fall off into the water or go out of bounds of the ring). They are Riku, Hoshi, Billy, Jacqueline, Hoshi, Piko and the Metal Brothers. Riku and Hoshi agree to team up to eliminate everyone till they’re the only ones left. The Metal Brothers are in sync. Till they became selfish and started fighting each other that they will get the share of the pudding and cause each other to fall off. Hoshi and Riku plan to take out Shiro but they don’t want to be seen as the bad guy. Billy goes up to Shiro and knocks him out! He rips his own white feathers and puts Shiro on it so technically he isn’t stepping out of his white line. Piko is contemplating to push Jacqueline over while she is distracted. She manages to do so but Billy rescues her though it means both of them are out of the ring. Piko falls into depression that she pulled off a cowardly tactic. Hoshi and Riku have no heart to finish her off. She starts breaking down over her unrequited love so they both try to comfort her. It seems to be working so in her happiness, she pushes them off the ring. Oh well. Didn’t see Piko winning the preliminaries, eh? Now she has qualified for the finals, she suddenly wished she had never after seeing all the bloodthirsty killers.

For the finals, in addition to the out-of-bounds rule, each have a balloon on their head and if it is popped, they’re also out. Plus, each of them can have a weapon! Oh Piko, you’re screwed. Quick, bring a garden hoe! Sister and Stella team up and it seems their formation is undefeatable. With Stella in her hulk form and Sister on her shoulders, this perfect combination means Stella’s balloon is shielded by Sister’s skirt and Sister’s balloon is too high up to reach. Nino in sleepwalking mode goes into attack mode. Though she manages to dodge Sister’s bullets and even distracts Sister with her fake bubble (her snot, that is), Sister knows Nino too well as she throws cookies into the river so Nino instinctively dives for it and goes out. Maria plays dirty by saying Stella’s panties are revealing so she shrinks to her little size and her balloon is popped due to Sister’s weight. Boo hoo! Maria and Sister fiercely clash while Samurai faces off with Chief. In the end, Samurai loses and now it’s Piko’s turn. However she is in a dilemma whether to take away the dream of the man she loves so that he could love her. Eventually she decides that his happiness is more important and drops her hoe. Chief is too dense to see that as a confession but instead as some legendary technique awakening. As they both charge to each other, they knock out each other’s balloon while Piko manages to blurt out she loves him. And so the finalists will be Maria and Sister. Riku is troubled if Maria actually wins but is even worried that although Sister has dodged all of Maria’s physical attacks, he hasn’t dodged any emotional ones! Oh dear…

Episode 13
Maria seems to hold the advantage because Sister is taking lots of blood transfusion due to the emotional attack he received. Yeah, he got his blood from Riku! He’s so dead, man. By the way, Riku volunteered to give his blood because he needs Sister to win. Who knows what will happen if Maria wins.  The no-holds-barred final resumes with Maria deflecting Sister’s missiles with her knives and playing psychological mind games to paralyze him. She’s sure a sneaky woman because I’m sure she knows she’s no match when it comes down to a physical match. But Maria experiences her first end of sarcasm when she cuts off Sister’s veil. His veil is so heavy that it dented the ground. His answer why he is wearing weights in his veil during battle is for handicap purpose. Oh ho. Have we ever seen Maria this mad before? Then when they clash knives, it’s as though time stopped. But as Chief mentions, they’re fighting so freaking fast that to the normal eyes, it seems that they’re just standing there! Everybody is so taken in by their willpower and start cheering for both of them and that it doesn’t matter who wins. It ends when Maria whispers insults in Sister’s ear, sending that guy falling like a rock. And thus, we have not just Maria, but Queen Maria. Oh God. God doesn’t exist… As everyone bows before her, she has Riku read her absolute decree: To make clothes for her sheep she shaved recently. Erm… That doesn’t seem that bad? The girls are happy to join in but why are Riku, Hoshi and Samurai shivering so scared? Yeah, they think she must have some ulterior motive and it can’t be this easy. However Maria says that she is not the kind of demon they imagined and that she joined in the game because it was fun and doesn’t have any ill intentions. Plus, she’s happier here than before. Just as the guys calm down and are going to join the girls, Maria has a different task for them. She wants them to be her sheepdog and rein in the sheep. Yeah, put on the collar and grovel on the ground too. Now this is the Maria we know. I guess the guys have no choice but to degrade themselves to a dog level since Sister is leading them and even a sheepdog is looking down on them! How insulting and embarrassing. Maria has a final task for Sister and that is to count sheep. Riku notices that they all have nice human names so Maria says she named them after her lovers. Oh, Sister. This is one emotional scar that is going to be forever permanent. By the way, there aren’t any named after Sister. At the end of the day, everyone has their written decree flow down the river with a final salute. Riku sees Nino watching her decree stuck so he goes to let it loose and is more confident since the last time he untangled her grass boat (in the previous season). Her wish is to always be with everyone so he extends his hand and just do that.

Arakawa Under The Sanity Level…
Eh? What happened to the trip to Venus? Is it delayed? Is Nino still planning on going there? Or did she cancel her trip seeing that she wants to be with everyone? After all that teasing that she might actually leave for the Evening Star planet even if it is probably some place on Earth, I really thought it was going to happen and was prepared for it. Plus, the gang even went on isolation training and dieting to achieve that so it seems pretty serious that they’re going, right? But that’s not important seeing that the most important thing is to cherish the times that she has with everyone. And that moment is now. This season has been a fun and enjoyable wacky ride and is one of the few animes that a sequel is worthy as its predecessor. I enjoyed all the random jokes and funny moments even though there are some which I do not understand. I mean, what more do you expect to see when you have a bunch of weird people living underneath the bridge. Don’t you feel that they are more alive and happy in this way as compared to their whatever previous lives they had? It’s like they’re living in a world of their own. Heck, they should just call for independence from Japan.

This season tries to explore further the relationship between Riku and Nino and there were some moments that really brought them closer to understanding each other. I won’t go so far as to say that they really do comprehend each other perfectly but they have made some progress. For Riku, he has made lots of big steps. As compared to the last season, Riku doesn’t seem to have his asthma attack when he is in dire straits anymore. Plus, we don’t even see him concern about this debt repayment thingy so much so it will never cross our mind if we don’t sit down and think about how the hell he ended up here. Lastly, living with weird citizens has made him ‘one of them’. Sure, he still has his common sense but notice how he is so much like the Arakawa people now? He can be a full-fledged citizen by now. Nino is still the mysterious and strange lady as we know but at times we too see a side of her that we don’t normally see. And at certain points her actions do indicate that she really does love Riku.

Another nice thing about this sequel is that the minor characters that lack screen time back in the first season have their fair share of it here. It’s wonderful to see Samurai mixing with the rest in some of the antics rather than just the final episode in the previous season. Amazoness too has a decent amount of screen time though it would’ve been even better if she starts living close by with the rest of the gang and also took part in that crazy King Game. I would love to see what she would do. Of all the characters, the coolest one has to go to Billy. This yakuza cockatoo-head sure knows how to say the right words to steal the heart of Jacqueline. Even if they don’t seem like your typical sugar coated words, the way he uses his own style of tough love fascinates you each time. I should learn some pick-up lines from this guy! No wonder Jacqueline is head over heels over this him. Of course with this much characters over the series, there are some I felt didn’t make much impact such as Stella, the Metal Brothers and Maria. Stella wasn’t as assertive like she was when she first appeared back in the first season and in this season she seemed pretty much docile though at times she really does turn it on but it doesn’t feel anything ‘threatening’. The Metal Brothers and Maria didn’t make much presence in the earlier episodes and only towards the end so I thought they weren’t going to have much prominence. I wonder what it would be like if Potato actually did become part of them. Can’t imagine the mayhem. Riku’s dad is close to missing in this season and only made a very short cameo. I thought he would be playing the antagonist again like he did the last time but I guess he decided to let his son do what he pleases. Besides, there are more important stuffs like managing his empire.

For the love and romance part, I would say that everyone’s love is unrequited with the exception of Billy and Jacqueline. Riku and Nino? Well, I wouldn’t go so far to say that their relationship of being lovers are just for show and though they don’t seem to be doing what normal lovers are doing, I figure it would be better for them to take it a step at a time and at their own pace. So to me, there isn’t any chemistry brewing in this department. For the rest, it’s just too bad. Hoshi can try how many times he wants to get Nino but I can bet she will never betray Riku. Amazoness realized that she’s no match for Nino but now with Hoshi in her eyes, can she pull it off? Speaking of which, did Hoshi really fall for her or was he just putting up some fabulous show? Haven’t heard from her ever since that beach incident. Piko can continue her fantasies on Chief because that kappa is just too dense to realize it all. When will Sister realize that Maria is just using him to get her mocking kicks? And is Shimazaki really going to go for Shiro? I would love to know how far Shimazaki would take her love for him even if it’s drawing white lines on the ground. But this is another case where we won’t get to know any further. Ah, that’s love. Usually one-sided affair. Don’t even mention that Takai guy. This old bugger’s love for Riku is so annoying that it resembles more like gay rather than an adopted son. He must be so glad that he didn’t leave for Venus, eh? At least not yet.

There are some parts which weren’t made clear. For instance the part about the mysterious shady character who warned Shimazaki into prying further into Nino’s case. So is he really Chief or somebody else? What about Nino’s personal tapes? What important recordings does it have? At the start in most episodes (with the exception of the last one whereby it appears at the end), there seems to be some kind of abstract narration either by Riku or Nino. It feels like they’re narrating like of a novel. Sometimes it has something to do with a particular theme in that episode or it could be just a reflection of the journey Riku has taken or will be facing. The opening theme for this season is Cosmos Vs Alien by Etsuko Yakushimaru. In short, it’s a very weird song (just like in the first season). Picture this: A bored and tired girl trying to rap. I don’t think she sounded like she was singing for most of the part and it was like she was saying her lines too fast, hence like rapping. I prefer the pop rock ending theme of Akai Coat by Suneohair. His laid-back voice and guitar strumming made this song enjoyable. Of course there’s a special opening theme in episode 10 called Kou-sama Go! Summer! ~Iya, Yuku No Wa Kinsei Dakara~ by Cho (who is the voice of Takai) sounds like a desperate song by that Takai guy not wanting his beloved Kou/Riku-sama to leave. Learn to let go, dude.

In the previous season, the next episode preview is a live-action clip of somebody dressed in a kappa suit doing random stuff around the riverbed. Here, not only we have the kappa, we also have somebody wearing a star-shaped mask as Hoshi. I wish they could have put in more characters as well but I guess it’s funny enough to sometimes see them duking out in a gun battle, playing baseball, having a campfire dinner and to even something silly like Hoshi jumping from a bridge so that Chief can make a wish upon a shooting star. WTF?! At the end of the show just before the next episode preview, we have the usual Arakawa One Shot Performance like the Metal Brothers telling a riddle (which I don’t understand), Nino’s lame impression of her lover (which isn’t anything close), Billy using his shooting skill to the judges show his victim (Riku in this case) a frightening face and Sister-Stella bazooka-firing pun (WTF?!). However towards the end of the series, this section is replaced with Arakawa Open Air Classroom whereby some of the characters get to go up to the blackboard and teach a thing or two. For instance, Nino making a worldly make-up on Amazoness’ face, Shiro teaching the complicated and finer points of drawing white lines and Jacqueline teaching her class to put all their love into their kneading skills (it turns out everyone made some cool accessories for a clay version of Billy). Interesting but do these lessons serve any purpose other than to make us viewers laugh?

The way this sequel ends indicates that there isn’t going to be a continuation. At least for the time being. There are no announcements of another season in the works. It would have been nice to advance some of the plots and also see more antics from the weirdoes under the bridge. For a guy who had a promising future and to cast it all by living with a bunch of peculiar people, you have to be really weird to do that. Weirdness is definitely one of the main themes of this series but that is rather relative and subjective. What you deem to be weird is normal in the eyes of the weird group. They aren’t any much different from us because generally we’re all just the same. So by being weird, it makes us unique too, right? Which means, being an otaku and fawning over 2D girls would be considered something unique? Well no, that would just be plain weird.

Very Private Lesson

November 4, 2011

Despite the name of this title, Very Private Lesson isn’t a hentai anime. However it is nevertheless still an ecchi anime though the fanservice is quite mild. What do you expect from an anime produced over a decade ago right before the new millennium? Yeah, these double OVA episodes first premiered way back in mid-1998. Seems like a very long time, eh? I was intrigued in watching this short series after reading the amusing synopsis from Animenewsnetwork, which goes something like this:

Tairaku is a lucky man…He has a comfortable job teaching at a local High School. He has Satsuki, a fellow teacher whom he hopes to marry someday. He has Aya Shirakaba, a beautiful student who has fallen in love with him. He has Aya’s father, a wealthy man who wants so much for his little girl to be happy that he has sent her to live with Tairaku. Tairaku is a very lucky man. Of course Aya loves nothing more than to come on to Tairaku by lounging around his apartment half naked. Unfortunately for Tairaku, Aya’s father happens to be wealthy because he is a major crime boss, and he will have Tairaku slowly murdered if Aya doesn’t remain absolutely pure. Now Tairaku must not only restrain himself, but also protect Aya from the hordes of men and woman at school who’d love to get their hands on her body. And of course, if Satsuki or any of the other teachers find out that Tairaku is living with one of his students, he will be permanently dismissed from the teaching profession. Oh yes Tairaku is lucky…”

Oh yeah. If you don’t mind the seemingly poor diction and the repetitive “Tairaku is a lucky bastard” line, you can look at it in a funny way in the sense that you can expect sh*t for this Tairaku guy. It’s bad enough he has to babysit a yakuza’s daughter but what happens when she makes a move on you? Uh huh. This teacher-student relationship is something similar to Aoki and Rin in Kodomo No Jikan. Will Tairaku get into the pants of Satsuki or will it be Aya’s? Either way, if he isn’t careful, he is going to be absolutely screwed. Oh yes. Tairaku is sure lucky…

Episode 1
Tairaku is one of the teachers of Otome high School, famous for its high delinquent rates. He tries to stop a fight between Okubo, one of his students fighting with another. However he gets hit in the process. At the roadside stall, he and Satsuki have a meal together. He contemplates of quitting but I guess the only reason he kept staying is because of her. After they finish, Tairaku think he has his big chance with Satsuki because she invites him over to her place for shower. Is he going to get lucky for real? Till he spots a young girl (Aya) smoking in the streets, he decides to show off by using an excuse of teacher’s duty to advise this girl to go home before she gets approached by bad company. But little does he know this is the start of his troubles. And you thought one good deed leads to another. Aya tugs Tairaku’s coat as he is about to leave. She wants him to accompany he her home. What about his date with Satsuki? Well, a teacher’s duty comes first. And so, Aya throws Tairaku along with herself into the taxi right back to her place. Too bad, there goes his chance of bedding Satsuki. Tairaku is furious about his lost opportunity so Aya did a bold move by putting his hand on her boobs! Does he prefer the body of a 24 year old (Satsuki who is the same age as Tairaku) or a 16 year old? Tairaku insists that he has only eyes for Satsuki. When Aya reaches her destination, she kisses him! She really freaks him out.

Next day in school, Tairaku is called by the principal to his room. His mind starts to go crazy wondering if Aya reported on him. To his dismay, he sees Aya in the principal’s room along with her dad. Fearing the worst, he starts apologizing. However the principal commended him from preventing her from being going with a strange man (obviously a lie). Because of that, Aya’s dad is grateful to him and wants him to watch over her. He believes a teacher-student relationship should be like those of a parent-child. Say what? Plus, Aya loves him so much that she requested a transfer to this school and will be in his class. Oh boy. Later as Tairaku shows Aya around, they meet up with Satsuki. Aya heads off first so Tairaku asks Satsuki to go on an outing together this Sunday. She agrees. So all hope is not lost yet. Tairaku’s happy is mood is ruined when he goes home. Why the heck is Aya in his room and cooking for him? How did she get in? Apparently the landlord let her in after she lied she is his sister. It dawned to Tairaku that her dad is serious in keeping watch over her 24/7.  Aya refuses to leave and goes to sleep in his bed. She even strips down to her undies so it’s impossible for him to kick her out. He sleeps on the floor and probably dreams about doing something dirty with Satsuki but in reality he is rubbing his face all over Aya’s legs. He’s in for the shock of his life. He can’t take any more of this and decides to send Aya home. Outside her gate, Tairaku will get another shock. He sees group of men lining up and greeting Aya. Yeah, the daughter of the yakuza boss. You’re in real sh*t, buddy. And guess what? Today is Sunday. Uh huh. Satsuki is patiently waiting for Tairaku to show up when it starts raining. Eventually she walks away and you can tell from her face that she is not amused. NOT amused.

Tairaku has a private chat with Aya’s dad. He asks if she is going to live with him till her sophomore year. Of course not. It will be till her graduation. OH SH*T!!! Knowing that the school is full of delinquents, that’s why he entrusted Aya in his care. Oh dear. He wants him to protect her till she graduates safely and offers one hundred million Yen as a reward. How many zeroes are there here? Of course Tairaku declines since it’s not about the money (really?). Aya’s dad has no choice as he points his gun at him. Tairaku immediately accepts it. Actually he was given his gun so that he could use it when the time calls for it. Yeah, I’m sure he totally ‘understands’ what he is into. Tairaku and Aya later go to the public bath house together. Aya is pretty noisy like as though it’s her first time. Then it hit Tairaku that he had forgotten about his date and turns into a noisy one himself. Next day in school, he thinks of apologizing to Satsuki face to face. He did call her but it only reached her voice message. Tairaku learns Satsuki is absent due to cold (guess who was responsible for that?). The principal tells Tairaku to quickly see Aya to her classroom since he mentions that they both want to live longer. Looks like there’s another person being threatened. But Tairaku is rather perplexed because for his class of delinquents who never show up for his lessons, everyone is here in full attendance! Yeah, they heard about the new transfer student. I’m sure you know what they’ll be thinking. Aya comes in and introduces herself. Everyone is stunned by her beauty so much so they start having sick fantasies of doing it with her! Even the girls! OMG! They’re so easy to read that it makes Tairaku bloody uncomfortable! He has trouble assigning Aya’s seat because everyone looks like a baddie. He then puts her next to Kusakabe’s desk seeing that this otaku class rep is the harmless among the rest. Then when Kusakabe notes how Aya looks like her Mako-chan doll and will make clothes for her one day, Tairaku starts to fear that he may be the most dangerous one.

After school, Tairaku visits Satsuki at her home. Outside her door, he goes on his knees and explains why he didn’t show up on their date. He thinks Satsuki accepted him when she opens the door. But she’s just inviting them in so that they won’t look weird bothering the whole neighbourhood. Them? Who? Oh, Aya it’s there too. Damn. Aya makes up another story how her daddy forced Tairaku to his place and thus apologizes for ruining their date. Satsuki never minds it all but feels Tairaku brought Aya here to make her responsible. It’s like as though he won’t get shelling if she’s around. Tairaku on the other hand has his hands tied. He can’t tell that Aya is living with him or else… Two things to lose: His job, his life. Satsuki gets a call from her mom who is pestering her to go on a marriage interview with a doctor. Since she is still pissed with everything she accepts the interview, much to Tairaku’s dismay. Later Tairaku is at the ramen shop with Aya. He is disheartened over the whole thing but learns that Aya never had a mother since she died after giving birth to her. Then the funniest scene ever because just before Tairaku could finish saying Aya’s name, he quickly falls asleep due to too much drinking. Aya brings him home and since he is still drunk, she gives him a back massage (I’m not sure if she’ll break any bones of his) but Tairaku starts fantasizing doing ecchi stuff with Satsuki. He gets too noisy that Aya had to knock him out. And with Satsuki back in school, Tairaku could still feel that she’s upset about the whole thing. It’s so cold in here even though it’s hot.

Okubo questions why Aya always go home with Tairaku but she cheekily says it’s a secret. Then their classmate Saki calls him a slimeball and thinks that a girl to girl relationship is much better (note: Saki is a lesbian). Yeah, she kicks Okubo in the crotch and proceeds to molest Aya’s boobs. Later Okubo and his underlings discuss the b*tch Saki is. Okubo relates how Saki ‘stole’ his girlfriend away. You got to believe this. Okubo finished having sex with his girlfriend but she told him how much he sucked and that Saki was so much better than him in bed! Woah! Total insult! That led to their break up. Then they see a popular senpai trying to ask Aya out but she coolly rejects him. Because the senpai gets cocky, Okubo smashes his head on the wall! OMG! Bloodied wall! Okubo decides to throw Aya a welcome party and be the first one who will do her in. Meanwhile Satsuki feels guilty that she’s blaming Tairaku for everything that has happened and taking it out on him. All she wants is just a chance to be honest. Tairaku sees the principal. But the latter makes it clear that Tairaku must do his job to protect Aya. He is so desperate that he even compares wild animals having more moral values to their students! This means he gets no rest, no lunch breaks! It’s a hell 24/7 watch over Aya! It’s his duty as a teacher! There goes his life.

Aya is invited by Okubo and his pals for a welcoming party at the broadcasting room since they can be noisy as much as they want without bothering others. Uh oh. This smells trouble. Carefree Aya accepts and on their way, they bump into Saki. She plans to join them too. However Okubo and co aren’t going to let her spoil their plans and have come up with something. Meanwhile Tairaku waits for Aya outside as Satsuki comes by. She gets upset when he asks about Aya. Then Satsuki spots Aya walking with Okubo through a corridor. Tairaku panics and immediately rushes to Aya. Satsuki wonders why he is so worried about her so he replies that he is her teacher and that there are some things he has to take care of that is not written in the text book. Wow. What a mature answer. Tairaku searches the entire school and deduces that they can only be in the broadcasting room. He arrives too late when he hears the girls screaming. Okubo and gang have seized Saki as they’re going to show her a good time. Tairaku gets desperate as he goes drink the janitor’s sake because he’s going to need it for the unbelievable stunt that he’s going to pull off. Yeah, he ties a rope to himself on the rooftop and swings in like Tarzan, crashing through the windows into the broadcasting room. I don’t know, everything was so precisely calculated that it looked unreal. To his surprise, Okubo and his buddy (half naked) are doing some ritual dance with each other. Something about this forbidden dance tradition that has been passed down through the classes and only few know about it. Why does it look so S&M and gay? So this is the welcoming party? Just weird. Tairaku collapses in his relief. He wakes up in the infirmary and sees Satsuki by his side. She commends his bravery and said that she turned down the marriage interview. Good news, eh? They were about to kiss but was ruined when Aya comes in. She reminds him about the taking her first kiss. Hey, hey, hey! As Aya and Tairaku walk home, she thanks him for coming to her rescue even if it’s a misunderstanding on his part. She wants to continue learning from him all the lessons that are not written in the text book. Now where have heard that before? I guess he has to continue ‘teaching’ her or else she’ll tell her daddy… Hope it won’t be any hentai lessons.

Episode 2
Aya wakes up from a nightmare that she’s being violated badly and Tairaku didn’t come to her aid. In school, a pair of Ganguro sisters are trying to ask a popular handsome guy out. However that guy rejects them straight in the face. But they’re too stupid to realize anything so much so they go on saying how they were scouted by a modelling agency though it’s an obvious fact that they got cheated because they had to pay sixty thousand Yen for registration and pictures. The guy gets fed up with them and tells them that girls like Aya are his type. The sisters get annoyed and go spy on Aya at her class. Seems she is getting along well with Okubo and Saki. The sisters think that Aya is just a brainless whore with big boobs but they overheard the teachers talking that she scored the highest. Their homeroom teacher tells them off for not doing well in the exams. The sisters decide to get their revenge on Aya by making her slip on a gel on the stairs. Oddly, the pair was standing right at the stairs so anybody could’ve been suspicious. However, Aya is the carefree kind. Before she takes a step, Tairaku calls her. Plan foiled. Not only that, it backfires on them when they accidentally stepped on it themselves. See how they tumble down… But stupid people like them don’t give up so the next plan is to splash acid! As they’re running in the corridor, they bump into Kusakabe and the concoction splashed and destroyed his precious Mako-chan doll. Hey, doesn’t the doll strikingly resemble Aya? However the sisters think it’s his fault and makes him their accomplice. Aya goes to call Kusakabe for the next class. Anybody can tell he is acting strange. It’s part of the sisters plan to use him and invite Aya over to his house since Kusakabe has finished making clothes for her (he really did, huh?) so that the sisters can torment her there. Aya manages to get permission to visit Kusakabe after school though he wants her back by 8pm. A girl like Aya couldn’t just leave an outcast like Kusakabe alone, right?

Aya arrives at Kusakabe’s house and sees the sisters (in S&M leather outfits?). They go up to his attic whereby Aya gets dressed in Kusakabe’s Mako-chan dress (it’s a life size doll!) and is given a spiked drink. She falls asleep as the sisters jump in joy. However their drinks are spiked too so they too collapses. After taking care of the sisters, Kusakabe is going to molest Aya. Is she going to get violated by this guy? However Heaven must be on Aya’s side because Kusakabe felt hot and drank the spiked drink too. Tairaku is worried Aya hasn’t return home and goes to Kusakabe’s house. He is surprised to see the front door unlock and goes in. Then up in the attic he sees Kusakabe’s head sleeping on Aya’s lap. So if you’re wondering where the sisters are, Kusakabe put them in large garbage bags and they are taken to the dump the next morning. Yeah, from now on they stink. Much worse as their stinking revenge plan.

While the sisters are spying Aya waiting for Tairaku, Aya turns down Okubo’s request to hang out. He’s okay with it. Then he sees his senpai, Ken in a sports car. He is interested in that Aya babe but Okubo pretends he doesn’t know her. However Ken threatens him by wedging his head between the car window and lights his lighter close to his cheek to remind him how he is indebted to him. Poor Okubo has no choice but to spill the beans. As Tairaku and Aya walk off together, the twins get into Ken’s car and tell them to go after the duo. Okubo tells his underlings about Ken who was known as The Devil. He was a normal person till he stabbed somebody from a rival school. His personality then changed and he laughs while beating people and rapes girls without hesitation. Fearing that Aya will get raped, Okubo says that this is up to Tairaku. Back home, Aya nearly falls off the balcony but Tairaku grabs her and ends up in a compromising position. Below, Ken and the sisters see everything. The sisters plan to reveal this at school to humiliate Aya and get her expelled but Ken tells them that they had seen nothing. Then he punches both of them in the gut and walks away. Ouch. Okubo sees Tairaku and warns him that Aya is being targeted by Ken. He leaves it up to him. Great. More sh*t. Tairaku is on the lookout for just about everything when they chance upon Satsuki. Aya is not happy that Tairaku is more interested in the other woman so she goes off herself to leave them together and go home alone. Aya is soon picked up by Ken and his underling posing as tourists asking for directions and wants her to show the way. I think Aya would’ve turned them down if she didn’t get so worked up after hearing Tairaku calling for her. She gets in but gets the shock of her life when Ken reverses and slams the car into Tairaku! OMG! He didn’t die after that impact?! He can still stand up?! Ken speeds away while the annoying sisters follow closely in their scooter as they have this great idea of filming Aya’s humiliation.

Aya is tied up at an abandoned building. The sisters come in and reveal their plans. Ken thinks it’s a good idea and just like history repeating itself, the sisters got their guts punched again. This is bad for the womb. But then again, who wants a pair of ugly sisters? Yeah, those eyesores… Tairaku is in a panic himself. So much so he thinks of running away but thoughts of Aya’s words that she trusts him ring in his head. Then he gets a ransom call from Ken. He wants 3 million Yen in 2 hours or else. Tairaku agrees in exchange he doesn’t harm her. But Tairaku is naive. Ken isn’t going to let 2 hours go by without doing anything to Aya. Of course that’s what he thinks. Tairaku also knows that he’s lying. I guess it’s better than nothing as he calls Okubo (in the middle of making out with his new girlfriend) about Ken’s whereabouts. Aya tricks Ken’s underling into having sex with her so that guy obviously has brains between his balls as he unties her. Then she knocks him out when he is off-guard. Ken commends her tactic because he used to do that too. Then he punches her in the gut. That’s his favourite punching spot, eh? Aya remains strong and holds back her tears. He gets rough with her when Okubo appears. Under the pretence that he wants to also ‘share’ her, Okubo hides a metal pipe behind his back. However the stupid sisters gave him away so Okubo gets a real beating. Ken is going to teach him a real lesson for his betrayal. Okubo says that Aya is his friend and won’t ignore her when she’s in danger. But Ken tells him about his version of friend and the nickname he was given. If somebody has supported and stayed by him, he would’ve turned out differently. He repetitively hits Okubo till he passes out. Then he proceeds to whack the sisters (who are trying to get away. Too late now) till they are unconscious. They are sure a good punching bag. When Ken’s underling awakens, Ken calls him an embarrassment for being knocked out by a woman so in his rage, he pins Aya down. Aya still believes Tairaku will come.

Speaking of which, the teacher arrives but with a gun in hand. However he is drunk. Ken is unfazed and beats him up. He thinks he used the money to get the gun but the underling starts to panic when he recognizes the gun from the boss of the Shirakaba yakuza family. This gun is only given to those he closely trusts. Tairaku gets confident and tells them he will forget all this ever happened if they leave town. Ken isn’t going to run so he tells his cowardly underling if he wants to, then go ahead. I guess the underling knows his place well so he flees. Aya calls Ken a coward as he is not strong enough to go back to the right path. She continues to taunt him so he fires a warning shot. Tairaku is scared so the first thing he did was get down on his knees to plead for their safety and promise to get the money first thing tomorrow. Aya is disheartened but she has no choice but to follow Ken’s orders of tying him up and putting her panties on his head. Ken fires another warning shot to show he is serious. Then he grabs Aya and mocks the coward Tairaku is. A person with no balls who can’t possibly do anything even if a girl gets raped in front of his eyes. Tairaku continues apologizing like a dog but it’s just a ploy to get up close to Ken so that he could head-butt his face. He tells Aya to run away but Ken recovers and points the gun. Tairaku grabs it with his teeth! OMG! He wants Ken to promise never to attack his students again but he says he doesn’t need to worry about that once he’s dead. In that case, he’ll curse him forever and haunt him as a ghost. You think the supernatural can scare this badass gangster? Finally Tairaku says that he has got bigger balls than him. Ken replies his balls got no sperm. Huh? What? Tairaku dares him to pull the trigger but Ken says if he wants to die so much, he can shoot himself. He doesn’t want to kill an idiot like him. As Aya unties Tairaku, Ken says he will send Okubo and the sisters to hospital himself. He has something he wants to talk to Okubo before he leaves town. See, he’s not such a rotten apple after all. Outside, Tairaku says Aya was brave, composed and more mature unlike him who was terrified all the time. However she starts crying and says that she too was scared. She breaks down and hugs him. Tairaku carries her back home. Lastly, the Ganguro sisters wake up in hospital bandaged from head to toe. They have no recollection who Aya is. Thank God.

Lesson over?
It didn’t feel right the way the OVAs just ended like that. It felt so abrupt. Tairaku brings Aya back after the kidnapping. Period. That’s it. I thought there would be a little more just to tie things up if it was going to end after a couple of episodes. It would have been better if this series spans a few more episodes because it would be hilarious to see how everybody just wants to do Aya in while her poor teacher will be so worried and frantic that he’ll have grey hair before he reach the age of 30. Worse, no hair at all! But then again, it would be more or less overusing the same formula which will eventually get stale and boring. I mean, the fun part of this series is to see how Aya gets into trouble, then see Tairaku gets into trouble, see how they get out of trouble. In the end, it only serves to deepen the relationship between Tairaku and Aya as a teacher and student relationship and possibly more subsequently.

Tairaku isn’t a perfect guy. He may not totally like his teaching job but when he puts his mind to it, he does it nobly. I noticed in the earlier parts when Aya came crashing into his life, if he is not talking, he will be screaming his head off! In a way, it shows he cares for her, right? Otherwise rest assured he’s not going to fall madly in love with Aya any time soon. I’m not sure about his love interest Satsuki. In the second OVA, she has been seemingly tossed aside and therefore any possibility of some love chemistry between them is next to zero. Clearly Satsuki also likes Tairaku but her pride just gets in the way. I wonder if I can call her a tsundere? With his hands full with Aya, I think his love life can take a back seat temporarily. Aya as the daughter of a yakuza boss, you’d expect her to be a tough nut and crude gal. Instead, she turns out to be someone surprisingly polite, friendly, cheeky and nice. Heck, the way she acts as though she’s a naive and carefree person. She has no qualms of mixing around and befriends anybody who approaches her. I thought she was just putting up an act but I realize this is how she behaves naturally. Maybe it’s the overprotective environment that her dad raised her. Notice how it’s her first time doing many things? She may look carefree but she is not dumb. Certainly of course you can tell that deep down in her heart, she loves Tairaku. Too bad I was hoping there may be some sort of a love triangle but with only 2 episodes, how far can you get even with each episode lasting close to 40 minutes? There are some scenes coming close to intimacy but it doesn’t amount to anything much. The delinquents at Otome aren’t as bad as they seem. They may like to pick fights but perhaps this is their way of communicating. See how Okubo and Saki suddenly became good friends with Aya? I don’t think everyone knows that she is the daughter of a yakuza boss. Even rotten people like Ken can change in the end. But it’s unbelievable that a teacher’s words could change a hard-bitten gangster. But heck, he’s better than the stupid Ganguro sisters who never seem to learn anything. They’re the most annoying characters ever.

The main antics are seeing Tairaku freaking out at Aya and the Ganguro sisters’ big time flop otherwise it is much your standard generic type. The funniest one has to be Okubo getting dumped by his ex because of sex. That one is sure mind blowing. The top list of things to say if you want to hurt a guy’s pride. As mentioned the fanservice are very mild. So mild that you should not get your hopes high up to see naked tops of the ladies and even school kids won’t even bother looking at. Oh, what am I saying? Hey, this is an old show, remember? Some of the action are unfeasible, hard-to-believe like Tairaku’s Tarzan attempt and getting hit by a reversing car and still be able to walk. Some are just gruesome like the bloodied smashed head on the wall (okay, this one is possible if you really, really, really hit that hard) and the beating up of girls (especially right in their tummy). Though Tairaku’s days are numbered, if he wants to live longer, he will have to tread carefully. It will be hard seeing that over a couple of episodes, Aya nearly got gang-raped (or so we were believed to be thought), a bully victim, molested by an otaku and abducted. It’s odd that if Aya’s dad is so worried about her daughter’s safety and virginity, he could have just ordered his yakuza underlings to keep a stealthy surveillance. That would be so unreal, right? So what better way than to have a teacher in guiding and protecting his daughter? I hope if Tairaku is doing his job so well, Aya’s dad may want to extend her protection till she finishes university! Or even get them hitched! Yeah, reminiscence of My Wife Is A Gangster, eh? It’s going to be hard to keep Aya’s virginity intact unless Tairaku becomes to first one… Nah! It is true that some of Tairaku’s words do ring true like some lessons are not taught in textbooks. Only in real life. These are called experience. Whether wrong or right, knowledge is power. If only I had such a sexy busty teacher to learn about life… Never mind. I’m not that lucky of a guy.