Kamisama No Memo-chou

May 27, 2012

Do you know what is a NEET? It is an acronym which stands for “Not in Employment, Education or Training”. In layman terms, it is what a useless unemployed bum is. That is how many would see an otaku who is also a shut-in, right? But here is the ironic thing. Ever heard about a NEET detective? That’s right. A NEET working as a detective. How ironic can you get as that. But I suppose that is what Kamisama No Memo-chou is. Interestingly, the cute quote of this series was what attracted me to watch this: “Because it is the NEET thing to do”. Neat, eh?

But you find a typical fat chubby bespectacled otaku as the NEET detective here. Why, it’s a little girl who looks like she is just 12 or 13 years old! Hiring a child as a detective can only mean that you are really desperate or insulting your intelligence, eh? However don’t ever judge a book by its cover. Though it may seem pretty odd that this girl who locks herself up in her room apartment for the most part of her life, the oddity of seeing computer monitors and servers beyond her stuffed animal toys, she is a pretty good hacker and if you really requests help from her, she’ll see to it that she’ll at least answers the questions that you are looking for and dig up words from the dead (dead people tell no lies, right?). All from the comfort of her bedroom. Who says you need to leave your comfort zone to solve cases?

Episode 1
Miku Kimura is in a love hotel and doing compensate dating with an old guy. The old geezer wonders if she can do stuff like her senpai, Shouko did. Suddenly, Satoshi Teraoka comes in to snap a picture of what’s happening. He assures him it isn’t money he wants. Meanwhile Narumi Fujishima just arrived in Tokyo. Due to his father’s job, he has always been changing schools. This is no different. Perhaps he feels he’s just like a tiny camera pixel. I guess he got his address mixed up and finds himself at the love hotel area. To his surprise, he sees a girl (Miku) jumping out from the window from the second floor. She landed on the garbage pile though she is knocked out. The old guy runs out but drops a bloodied crystal ashtray. Narumi could feel someone pointing a rifle at his back. Hitoshi “Major” Mukai thinks he is the suspect but was pointed out by Tetsuo “Tetsu” Ichinomiya that Satoshi is it. Tetsu is carrying a bloodied Satoshi over his shoulders.  Hiroaki “Hiro” Kuwabara is consoling Miku as he notes Narumi having a weak presence. Then off they go leaving Narumi puzzled and eating their dust trail. In class, Narumi meets his classmate Ayaka Shinozaki. She toys around with him because he doesn’t remember her. So what better way to plant fake memories like helping her change during gym class, eh? Of course that was a lie. Ayaka proceeds to force Narumi to join the gardening club in which she is the only member. Later Ayaka brings Narumi to the ramen shop she works part time, Hanamaru. Narumi sees the familiar faces of Tetsu and Major slurping on their ramen. His first reaction was to go away, not wanting to have anything to do with those suspicious people. But you know, Ayaka can be forceful sometimes. Seeing he is friends with Ayaka, they see no reason to be hostile. Hanamaru’s owner, Min-san tells Narumi not to get too close to these dropouts or else he will become a NEET like them (though the rest would like to differ that they voluntarily opt out, Min-san isn’t convinced). Tetsu wants to teach him to be a professional pachinko player while Major wants him to be a military man. Hiro comes by and shows his name card. This day couldn’t get worse for Narumi, eh? He is surrounded by NEETs. An ex-boxer addicted to gambling, a military freak and a gigolo. Suddenly they get a call from Alice to bring scallion ramen. The problem is who will bring it to her. Yeah, this Alice girl might be in some bad mood to order this kind of ramen. I don’t know what kind of game they played but Narumi ends up having to do the delivery. And he didn’t even know he was involved. He has been every since he met those weirdoes.

Inside Alice’s room, Narumi sees the room filled with monitor screens, computer units and stuffed toys. Alice was sarcastic enough to say if he is going to deliver the ramen since her long isn’t that long to reach it. Seeing Alice has a hard time breaking her chopsticks, Narumi offers to help but was being told off he is the kind of person who acts kindly for self satisfaction but relishes in seeing others fail in the end. In the end, Alice couldn’t break clean her chopsticks and tears well up in her eyes. She chides Narumi for having no decency to watch her eat. As ordered, he goes to get some canned drink in her fridge. It’s not the fact that her fridge is filled with that single Dokupe drink, but rather she knows his name. She even knows other details like his height and class. Seems Ayaka wouldn’t tell her about the new transfer student so she did a little research. All those fancy words she said mean that she’s a hacker. Or in a nicer way as she put it, a NEET detective. There is a huge difference between a normal detective and a NEET detective. While normal detectives go out to do their investigation and gather information, a NEET detective is opposite. You stay in a room, watches the world to gather all the evidence and truths. Sounds like a hikikomori (shut in), eh? Plus, their true role is to act as a speaker for the dead. Only so they may bring back lost words beyond the grave. In order to protect the honour of the dead, she will hurt the living. In order to console the living, she will shame the dead. Alice allows him to ask her questions but is surprised his first question he posed is the kind of ramen she eats. Is this her usual diet? All the monitor lights up and Alice demonstrates how she does her observations, trying to find her purpose in this world. She lets him know the rate of children dying in the world per second. She attributes that tragedy as her fault for not having not enough power to do something about it or at least the ability to manipulate them. There are only 2 occupations that can do something meaningful to those that have died or lost: A writer and a detective. Writers can bring them back to life in the world of dreams while detectives bring them back from beyond the grave and materialize it into information. But the information detectives dig up when all is said and done is no more than reality that was already recorded in God’s notebook. Alice replays a voice recording of the scene with Miku and the old man. Pausing at the point Satoshi came in, she mentions about receiving a request to investigate through a certain channel.  The perpetrator was quickly caught and admitted her crime. She is showing him this because he was there at the scene. There are several surveillance cameras set up at the place by Major. Continuing the recording, they hear Satoshi is blackmailing the old guy not for money but information about Shouko’s whereabouts. But the old guy panics and starts attacking them. That’s why Miku jumped off the balcony. Alice wants Narumi to call the trio to her room.

As Alice wonders about Satoshi and Miku’s connection other than the crime, this Shouko girl has both of them and the one who is really engaged in compensation dating. The duo will probably repeat their actions till Shouko is found. To solve this case, Shouko must be found at all cost but it won’t be as easy as it seems because Shouko may just be an alias as there is no other information except this name. Alice allocates duties to the trio so Narumi asks why they couldn’t just ask directly those involved. Sure, rub salt into the wounds, will you? Miku did compensation dating, leapt from the second floor, admitted to her crime and you want to go talk to her about it? I’m sure Narumi is feeling red faced. Obviously, he is somewhat down in school. Not putting your hearts into gardening? Ayaka thinks of Min-san’s special ice cream to cheer him up but he doesn’t want to go to that place anymore. Ayaka insists. He doesn’t. Who wins? Ayaka lah. Upon entering Alice’s room, Alice in her cute moe crying loli face is in a pinch. Her favourite teddy bear is ripped and wants Narumi to help fix it. Eh? Hiro drives Narumi to the place where this specialist sewing master known as The Fourth to fix this bear or else Alice can’t sleep. Well, Narumi certainly could tell this place isn’t a toy store. Looks like a yakuza clan! The head Souichirou Hinamura AKA Yondaime meets them and he isn’t your nice and polite guy. Mess with him or displease him, he’ll beat the sh*t out of you without batting an eyelid. Upon knowing what is inside the box, he shuts Narumi up from saying anything more and has his goons carefully take it for repair. He wants them never to peep inside or else it’s sh*t for them. Yes, NEVER! Then he as Narumi uses the computer to print out the suspects. It seems all the goons are like idiots, at awe at every click Narumi makes. They think he’s some computer genius. Duh… Yondaime isn’t thrilled that there is no details on Satoshi except his name. That’s because everything on him is rubbish and as they speak, Alice is trying to trace his handphone usage history. Hiro informs Alice’s request to stop the incidents and nothing was mentioned about turning the suspects in. Yondaime orders his goons to find Satoshi at all cost and doesn’t care if he gets hurt. Narumi is against the use of violence but Yondaime smashes the wall (OMG! It cracked!) and tells him to shut the f*ck up seeing he is not related to that kid. Or else he could bring him in himself.

Narumi meets and talks to Miku. She wonders why he hasn’t reported her to the school but that’s not his intention. Asking why she is doing those things, Miku relates the last time she chatted with Shouko. She accidentally saw a picture of Satoshi in her handphone as Shouko confirms they are dating. Shouko also admitted that they have gone that far and had sex. Miku couldn’t believe it because she always believed she’s a cute and smart student that everyone looks up to. Suddenly Shouko’s character change. She dreads that sentence very much and blows her top in the middle of the food joint. She has had enough of it and tells her off she isn’t the kind of person she thinks she is. That was the last time Miku saw her and she went missing ever since. Something must have happened. As for that Satoshi guy, Miku clears the air he is not her boyfriend. Till she finds Shouko, she doesn’t plan on stopping. Elsewhere, Satoshi is sitting dejectedly like a zombie in a dark place remembering his days with Shouko.

Narumi rushes back to Alice to tell her what he knows. Alice now has decent details on Shouko. She praises Narumi for a job well done. Major calls in to say he has found Satoshi at the convenience store. Upon knowing what he is buying, he wants Major and all his troops to abandon their tailing operation and return to base. Alice wants Hiro to prepare the car because she is going outside. I thought NEETs like her stay indoors? Well, she still is a detective, right? She has to go out sometimes. Man, her black dress looks ominous. Shouko confronts Miku who is just coming out from the shower of a love hotel to stop her from making any more foolish moves. Seems she knows where Shouko is. But first she asks if Miku realizes why Shouko is doing compensation dating. It is the high expectations from her parents and her friends’ innocent but sinful idealization that drove her to hurt herself and self destruction since she had no means of resistance. Miku still denies Shouko is that sort of person so Alice tells her Shouko has always been using her real name, Shouko Sakuma. Unlike Miku, whose real name is Miu Ikuto, Shouko didn’t falsify her real name to her clients to hurt herself. Alice says that Miku should’ve received a direct message and at the same data, data on her clients. That is, Shouko’s handphone. Everything she did was recorded there but by that time she went missing and only her handphone with clues was left. That’s why Miku and Satoshi came up with an idea together of calling Shouko’s clients for information on her whereabouts. But there is one thing Alice doesn’t understand. Why would Satoshi join her in these activities seeing he fully knows where Shouko is. Miku couldn’t believe Alice telling those lies and pins her down, wanting to know the real truth. As Alice explains, ever since Shouko’s disappearance, Satoshi has been going to the convenience store daily to buy large bags of ice. This can only mean one thing.

The news report Satoshi has been arrested and police has found the body of a dead girl (Shouko) with her wrist slashed in the bathtub. Satoshi was very calm during questioning and mentioned his actions were because he wanted to stay with her forever. In the aftermath, Narumi ponders that the Shouko Miku and Satoshi knew wasn’t a lie. They just knew half of her. When they both put the 2 pieces together, they understood the real Shouko for the first time. They realized that and chose to be together. Or perhaps as Alice puts it, Shouko herself wished for that. Also there was a will found in Satoshi’s room from Shouko apologizing he had only half of her and wished time had stopped. Even to her, she found them both irreplaceable. Suddenly Ayaka comes in and forces Alice to take a bath when she heard from Min-san she hadn’t take any for 2 days. She must be desperate enough to strip Alice in front of Narumi. Poor guy gets kicked out and label as a pervert. It’s like it was his fault in the first place. With Ayaka ‘gone’, Min-san enlists Narumi to do Ayaka’s delivery job. Since when he joined the NEET detective gang? Well, even if he didn’t, I’m sure he can’t get out nor stay uninvolved.

Episode 2
Narumi must be getting used to his life as Alice’s assistant, eh? Serving ramen and Dokupe. They get a customer in the form of a Thai girl known as Meo. “Sawatdee”. She knows this NEET detective agency due to the card Hiro gave (that gigolo used to live with the woman next door). Meo starts relating her problem. Recently she got a sudden call from her dad to take a bag in the safe now and run. She is not allowed to call him anymore and he hangs up. No word has been heard ever since. Alice has all the details on Meo’s dad, Masaya Kusakabe. From his job to his marriage to a Thai wife. Previously Kusakabe was a yakuza but decided to live an honest living. Alice warns Meo that if she intends to open the bag, there is no going back because it is often that information that kills people. To know is to die. Unless she is willing to know what happened to her father, Alice will not help. Unzipping the bag, they see lots of cash inside. Alice concludes he may be involved in some crime and out of fear from being found out, he fled. Meo thinks that is a lie and though Alice traced she did try to call daddy once via public phone, it is essential she stop if she wants Alice to continue help. Meo takes the bag and leave but after Narumi stops her to reconsider and Alice’s pledge as a NEET detective to scour every corner of the universe for her answer, Meo agrees. Alice contacts the usual trio for the job. So for the time being, she stays at Min-san’s place. Meo is quite the happy girl because she believes in family even if they’re not related by blood. Narumi and Ayaka walk home and they talk about each other’s family. Narumi only has an elder sister and a dad who rarely comes home while Ayaka’s parents are estranged.

Hiro has got a picture of Kusakabe in his hands and hands it over to Alice. But there is an error and she can’t send it so she has Narumi do his stuff. That is, going down to Yondaime’s office computer. He is disheartened to see the computer filled with porn error. I guess the goons really did go to porn sites. Yondaime has his underlings make 500 copies of the picture. Then he tells Narumi to stay out of this if he doesn’t want to get hurt because it involves a former yakuza that left his daughter with 200 million Yen and disappeared. However Narumi can’t do that because they promised to help her and that he is Alice’s assistant even if he has to lay his life on the line. Yondaime gets rough on him to scare him out of it but it’s not working. He notes they’ve got another dumbass working. Narumi gets a call from Tetsu. He’s in a pinch. Gambling with yakuzas?! Anyway they manage to ask one out for a drink, Kiichi Nemoto AKA Nemo. He once traded pledges with Kusakabe and needs some info. Tetsu puts his balls on the line for that. Liking his guts, Nemo lets them know Kusakabe was a money launderer for the Kishiwada Group. When he left, his punishment was to take over and finish the job rather than lose a finger. So he took around 300 million Yen and ran but back then he wasn’t that kind of man. He cared so much for his family. While Narumi is asleep, he gets an emergency call from Alice. He rushes down only to see Meo and Ayaka in bath towels. Double slap! Yup. Her pinch was them giving her a bath. But back to serious stuff, they discuss about the money he took. The problem is the missing 100 million. Is he dividing his risk? Instead of taking it all, did he took a smaller amount and hid it somewhere safe and gave the rest to Meo? Or was he using his daughter as decoy and never coming back seeing he never gave her a handphone to contact him. Alice has them follow the money trail to find the connection between Kusakabe and Kishiwada Group. Ayaka talks to Alice about Kusakabe’s return, in which she cannot confirm nor deny. Ayaka believes Kusakabe isn’t that kind of person or else he wouldn’t have told Meo that her mother was watching over her in heaven. Narumi asks Meo if she has heard anything from daddy lately and since she hasn’t, he tells her he has run and is never coming back. Meo gets distraught but wouldn’t believe that her father would abandon her because he promised her. Ayaka overheard their conversation and runs away. Narumi gets a call from Alice to bring Meo’s back to her immediately. Beneath the pile of money, there is a handphone with a picture of Meo’s family. She feels they should have taken Kusakabe’s words more sincerely and that Meo knew the truth instinctively. And looks like they have trouble outside because a group of yakuzas are trashing the place.

Episode 3
The punks mess up the place and harass Min-san for Meo’s whereabouts but she’s not giving in. Because Meo tried to call her dad, the yakuzas manage to trace the call to this place. Alice’s assistants are ordered to keep an eye on the situation and follow them afterwards. The yakuzas leave and their boss, Mikawa notes they need to get the 200 million back before the head of Kishiwada finds out. Narumi is called to clean up the mess in the store (I guess he really is this useful). He regrets making Meo cry and learns Min-san wanted to open her own ice cream parlour but inherited the ramen shop from her dad. She hated it and wanted to sell it off but couldn’t do so and eventually came to love this place. As for Meo, she believes if they are true family, nothing he says will change the fact that they are family: To rely and be relied upon, to exchange selfish affections. Next day, Min-sans’ store has been vandalized with graffiti and her arm is a little bandaged due to the scuffle though she doesn’t think it’s such a big deal. Narumi goes to wake Meo up but finds she has left a goodbye note, saying she will search for Kusakabe herself. Alice also feels she has failed on her part and wish to rebuke her selfishness. From the recording, Meo left 30 minutes ago and couldn’t go far. She also has information on Mikawa. He runs a financing business that acts as a front company for the Kishiwada Group for their money laundering. They know Meo will try to contact the yakuzas and true enough she did to make an exchange for the money for her dad. Alice tracks her call so Narumi rushes to the scene and not heeding her advice to wait for backup. Narumi finds her first and wants her to come back but the yakuzas corner them. Narumi gets beaten up but before Meo gets pushed into the car, Yondaime and his underlings crash into the party to pick up their friends. Narumi wakes up in bed with Meo by his side. Meo is in a dilemma for what she did because she is afraid they may kill her dad. She doesn’t want to lose any more people she loves. Narumi assures her that Alice and her people will do what it takes to save Kusakabe. Meo reveals her real name, Charunee and promises not to run without saying anything anymore. Narumi talks to Yondaime about helping those he considers his relatives and friends. Because of this, he wants to make a sake pledge of brotherhood with him (not to be mistaken as his intention to join his organization) for his own sake. He has hurt Meo and wants to be someone whom she can trust or else he won’t be able to forgive himself. Next day, Yondaime and Narumi enter the sake pledge procession with Alice and her assistants also watching.

Narumi hands Meo her mother’s handphone and she is reduced to tears. He requests for her bag. As found out, the 200 million was supposed to be laundered by Kishiwada Group via Mikawa. However he embezzled 100 million out of the 300 million given by investing in his own company. Afraid of being caught, he planned to frame Kusakabe for the embezzlement and pocketed the remaining 200 million. When they don’t know where Meo or the money is, Mikawa couldn’t land a finger on Kusakabe so he will be asking for the money in exchange for his release. Narumi suggests using the money themselves. With Alice taking care of the minor roadblocks, we see the gang putting the money in envelopes and giving them away. Narumi accompanied with Yondaime and Tetsuo go see Mikawa. In the bag contains bank statements of the 200 million split into small portions. First thing on Monday morning, the funds will be transferred to Kishiwada Group’s account. Mikawa doesn’t believe his story because he needs the account holder’s permission to do so. Narumi claims he has professional hackers to hack the bank system. He warns Mikawa to hurry because the bank is closing soon.  After Narumi leaves, it is revealed he was just lying all the way. This is a ploy to get them to rush to the bank with Kusakabe to conduct all the necessary transactions. Mikawa couldn’t call the bank because Major had interfered with the phone lines. So once Mikawa and co arrive at the bank, Yondaime and his underlings start a big brawl outside the bank. Kusakabe was to be taken away but when he sees his daughter, he easily broke free from the yakuza’s grasp! That easy?! Probably the power of fatherly love. Narumi caught a glimpse of father and daughter reunited but was accidentally punched out by Tetsu. Friendly fire? In the aftermath, Alice is not happy Meo and Ayaka are using her room as a dressing room. Meo is happy she will be going out on a date with her father and is trying several outfits. That’s where Narumi comes in to chase them out. Can he? Should he?

Episode 4
While working at Hanamaru, Narumi notices a sunglasses dude leaves the place and paid for the ramen he barely touched. Because of that, Narumi is forced to work overtime with Min-san to make the perfect ramen. Seems this isn’t the first time. Each time he orders a different ramen, he will take a sip before leaving his payment and then leaving for good. The ramen is always untouched. So how long did Narumi work? Let’s say three days without proper sleep. One night, Narumi thinks he spots a thief in Hanamaru. He tried to stop him but got away. Min-san just came out from the bath and was told what happened. She didn’t think there was anything worth stealing till she realized her sarashi (cloth used to wrap around the chest) is missing. Major and Tetsuo heard this and straightaway want to get violent with the culprit. They view Hanamaru as the holy ground for NEETs (actually it’s a place they can run up the tabs) and won’t let this pass. Min-san isn’t willing to let them help out though Hiro guessed it’s the work of a stalker. Besides, she said yes to all the stalker-like signals (receiving silent phone calls, strange letters and feeling a presence behind her back). Alice is proud that Min-san finally seeks her help but Min-san ‘bullies’ her that only her attitude has grown big (see Min-san lift Alice up like a doll!). Back to serious business, they notice that whenever the sunglasses dude patrons, the thief always comes but Narumi dismisses the culprit as the same person because of their different size. This means there may be co-conspirators. To complicate things, Alice did not find anything on the surveillance cameras. Min-san still isn’t happy about requesting their help because it feels like they’re trying to ruin her ramen business. She walks off while Narumi tries to persuade her to seek their help. What made her change her mind? The culprit may be sniffing her sarashi and sleeping with it every night! That must be one scary thought! Instantly Min-san pleads for Alice’s help. Feeling needed again, Alice assigns tasks to the trio while Narumi will continue to remain doing the same thing. Because he was useless against the thief so he can’t probably help out. Haha. Was that an insult?

The sunglasses dude visits them again. Everyone watches closely as he sips his ramen. Same thing. He tosses his money on the table and leaves. Hiro tails him but loses him. Min-san gives Narumi taste her soup and in his honest opinion thinks the seaweed flavour is too strong so the ramen doesn’t taste like ramen. Min-san pours the entire pot down the sink and thinks that dude is here for her father’s recipe. Seeing nobody thought Min-san would inherit this place, she never asked for the recipe. Later Alice finds out a piece of information that Narumi forgot to tell her. When Major tried to replace an old front door lock for security, Min-san vehemently refused. Alice wants the lock to be left as it is, slacken their guard to let the intruder in. That night as Min-san showers (she’s the bait), true enough the thief comes in. Narumi stops him by throwing a blinding stun grenade from Major. The thief is rounded up and from his ID, he is Tomio Kimura, a design artist for women’s lingerie. His reason for stealing her sarashi? As an artist striving for perfection, he feels women should wear underwear that makes them shine and it’s his mission to produce ultimate beauty. So by distorting her boobs by wrapping the sarashi is like defiling God’s miracle! His passionate ranting may make him sound like a pervert because he can tell the exact measurements of a woman’s bust with only a glance! Min-san is G-cup if you’re interested. But all Min-san is interested is to beat the crap out of him. However Alice has one more question for him. About the man he witnessed breaking in to the place. Kimura entered the room because it was unlocked but Min-san insists it was always locked. Alice concludes that Kimura has been observing the house every day and happened to witness a certain someone unlocking the front door and entering. That’s how Kimura subsequently entered. Mentioning about Min-san not wanting to change her lock, she suddenly remembers her talk with Narumi that she is waiting for her father. If she goes down to the store, she will find the answer. Alice further explains they thought there was a co-conspirator but there are 2 culprits both acting independently. The sunglasses dude is Min-san’s father, Masaru Hanada. Min-san finds a box containing ramen recipes and a note from her dad to let her have a taste of her ice cream next time. This brings tears to her eyes. Major is telling his theory to Tetsu and Hiro, the sunglasses dude must be someone trained at a special facility seeing he can dodge all cameras, avoid passerby attention and slip inside in an instant. He might be stretching it too far when he mentions about altering his own shape and appearance. But how else would you explain Min-san not recognizing her own father? Min-san wonders a bra present left at Hanamaru. The trio realize it was a favour they asked from Kimura in exchange to let him off the hook. You know Kimura’s ability to guess correctly a woman’s bust size no matter how flat they are? Yup. It’s for Alice. Now they just need someone to deliver to her. Guess who the dumbass delivery guy is? Narumi gets proper shelling from upset Alice. She thinks it’s an insult for her to force her to eat Min-san’s ramen so that she could fit into this. I guess if she was stronger, she would’ve thrown all the servers at him.

Episode 5
Alice makes a fuss about washing her ‘friends’ (stuffed dolls). To convince Narumi that her teddy bear doesn’t stink, she forces him to smell it! But Yondaime seeks to ‘borrow’ Narumi to do advertising for an indie band gig. I guess you can’t expect to be profitable if you’re just running a group of hooligans. Ayaka volunteers to help out but Alice isn’t pleased because this means Narumi would spend less time as her ‘assistant’ in her office. Hiro ‘warns’ Alice about letting Narumi smell her stuff because since she touches it, it’s like making Narumi touch her bare naked body. Man, she believed it and throws a Dokupe at poor Narumi. Later downstairs, Yondaime tells Narumi something about the job that he couldn’t tell Alice. The job may be risky because the band had a previous promoter. They are the Yanagihara Group and had ties with the yakuza. The band cancelled their contract and came to Yondaime’s group instead but so far they haven’t make any overt moves yet. I don’t know how Alice is drowning herself washing her ‘friends’ but Narumi saved her. She’s doing it herself since she can’t risk him touching her skin. During her reprimanding, she accidentally tore her teddy bear. So looks like it’s up to Yondaime’s fingers to sew it again. Narumi and Ayaka go survey several places for the band gig. Yondaime gets word from his goons about someone asking about them persistently. Thing is, he is a kid and not from any yakuza. Yondaime warns Narumi to run if he senses trouble. While Narumi is surveying at a bar, he notices a guy, Renji Hirasaka nearly starting a brawl with a few punks. Narumi purposely splashes his drink on Renji’s shirt to take him away. At a safe place, Narumi reveals he did that to save those punks because he observed Renji was serious in fighting them. Narumi’s sharp observation he took off his sunglasses to head butt awes Renji and he mentions his promise not to use his fist when he gets mad. That’s why he uses his legs and head. I guess there’s always a way around it. Renji brings Narumi along to a shopping spree. Narumi is paying. Yeah, what better way to enjoy life by spending someone else’s money? At a cafe, Renji divulges about his bad attitude, leaving him no friends. He tried turning over a new leaf but isn’t confident. Narumi doesn’t think he is a hopeless case yet so Renji thinks of testing out their friendship. However Narumi feels being friends isn’t something one should test out. Renji spots some guys looking for him so he goes out to ‘greet’ them.

Narumi brings back Renji’s shirts he bought and decides to wash them. Alice is still sulking over everything. And when Narumi wants to leave early, she goes into a tantrum about him abandoning his duty of opening his Dokupe! She thinks he is shoving his obligations to Ayaka to slack off and that her phytoplasma is doing more work than him! That girl cracks me up! Well, it’s not that she officially hired him as her assistant but she tells him off to go to the employment centre instead. Narumi is asked by Min-san to retrieve her apron at a fabric store at Kita Senju. He sees Yondaime and that yakuza guy isn’t happy. He threatens Narumi never to reveal this place or else. Yondaime comes here for items he couldn’t find to fix Alice’s dolls. The storeowner, Yoshiki seems to be quite casual with Yondaime and has no fear in teasing that guy. Not to mention some embarrassing moments in Yondaime’s life (what is it with tough guys and crying?). Yondaime receives a call from the venue. Seems there is trouble. As explained by the staff, a group of men claiming to be from the Hirasaka Group insist they are let into the staff room. They force their way in to steal some spare t-shirts. Narumi contacts Alice for her help and manages to print footage of the surveillance cameras. Though the symbols on the shirt match, she doubts the suspects from the group. Major studies to lock and finds that it is not picked. Since Yondaime has the key and no spares, it means a super professional could only open it without damaging the lock. That means either Major or Yondaime. Screw that theory. And all of Yondaime’s goons are shirtless because since it got stolen, they pledge not to wear any till the thief is caught. Nobody wants to see your tan, buddy. Yondaime tells Narumi if something happens to him, he will be in charge of these boys. Great. Narumi returns to Alice and she is still sulking. However when he says he cares for her, she suddenly flusters over that surprise attack. She eases up and you could say forgives him when she mentions to at least tell her where he goes. Because Narumi is going to Ueno for his survey, Alice brightens up because she has something he wants him to do. Take pictures of capybaras at the zoo. Sometimes he just feels he wants to die. What will people think when they learn you are from the NEET detective agency? But at the zoo, he sees Renji.

Episode 6
What’s the first thing Renji asked when they meet? Where’s his shirt! Okay, he’s still happy to see Narumi. They talk about their lives as we learn Renji wandered around (he’s still a NEET now as admitted), raked up lots of debts and became homeless. Both his parents are dead. Renji is serious about them being friends and this isn’t just a test. They conduct some mock brotherhood drink ritual with the polar bear as their witness. Renji adds that the last time he was here, there was a guy he really hit it off with. He thought he’d never make another friend as close as him and wanted to make a ritual out of it. Then when Narumi gets a call from the concert’s venue, Renji doesn’t want him to go there. But he still did and saw the place on fire, albeit a small one. Suddenly Hiro’s call pulls up before him and Alice takes him in. She was worried sick because he didn’t answer his handphone and his GPS location is idle. She thought she had been burnt to crisp. But knowing that he’s alright, she makes an excuse that she was more worried about the capybara. He got her a stuff doll but it was the wrong one. Narumi gets a call from Yondaime. Noting he is okay, he wants Narumi to stay out from now on because he has found the thief who stole their t-shirts. But Yondaime isn’t amused Alice and Narumi came to his office. Though Yondaime did ask for Alice’s help it was just a mugshot of the culprit. Alice is here to ascertain if her information was accurate but was warned that the culprit has been beaten up to a pulp to a point she might not recognize. So how? Send Narumi in to check. Sure, that guy is badly beaten up but he’s gone crazy, talking nonsense like as though he is hiding something. Yondaime continues beating him up and though we didn’t get to see it, we know how terrible it is because his fists are covered with blood! Yondaime returns to Narumi and remembers something he didn’t tell him. He has a hunch of the person behind all this because he too had another set of key: Renji. Surprise to hear that name? Narumi hears more from Yondaime’s underling about how Renji and Yondaime met and teamed up, even stealing the turf from Gotouda Group and subsequently the formation of Hirasaka Group. The duo enter a sake pledge that neither was superior to the other and they exchanged something very important. But then they started butting heads. The underling pleads to Min-san to stop Yondaime and Renji before things get worse (Yondaime may take things into his own hands) but Min-san tells him off she’s running a ramen store and the most he could do is bring them here and she’ll listen to their problems and beat them to their senses.

Alice confronts Narumi and lets him know he is not obligated to answer. She wants to know what he was doing because he has been acting strange lately. He admits to meeting Renji and Yondaime telling him he was behind it. Narumi looks at Renji’s t-shirt and recognizes the butterfly shape embroidery which is similar to Hirasaka Group’s logo. Narumi admits to Yondaime about meeting Renji. He gets violent, strangling him for answers but Narumi pleads him to seek Alice’s help since they were friends and even held the sake ritual. Yondaime cools off so Narumi wonders what happened between them. He just said Renji broke a promise and nothing more. He shows him Renji’s shirt which is the unfinished design of the group. Something Renji said had sentimental value to him. Yondaime replies it isn’t anything concrete and the embroidery was done by a woman named Hison. He warns him not to go near Renji and if he contacts, let him know. Yondaime sends a couple of his underlings as Narumi and Ayaka’s bodyguard on their normal shopping day. They promise never to take their eyes off them but see how useless they are when they start sobbing and crying right after losing sight of them. Narumi and Ayaka run into trouble with several thugs wanting to hurt them real bad. If not for Tetsu’s return (he went horseracing at Niigata), they would’ve been toast. Thanks to Tetsu’s unrivalled boxing skills, he took them all out! Narumi feels bad that not only he went off on his own, he got Ayaka involved too. He doesn’t pick up Alice’s calls but answers one from Renji. He wants to meet and also to bring that t-shirt. Why couldn’t he just mail it? Otherwise there won’t be any reason for them to meet, right? Narumi catches Alice off guard once more telling her he is here to see her (the way he said it doesn’t sound like a joke but Alice sure reacts the usual). Alice lets him know the manager of a sporting goods store in Ikebukuro called Exeteria used to lead a gang of thieves. But they came into conflict with Yondaime and the gang was disbanded. Alice knows all this because Renji doesn’t know the existence of a certain NEET detective. Alice adds she knows how cruel and ruthless Renji is. He is a dangerous man who can unflinchingly do such things. Those working under him are largely the remains of teams crushed by Hirasaka Group. Only fear of him and Yondaime’s reputation kept them in line. Narumi shows him the t-shirt he is supposed to return. Alice chides him a fool for wanting to go, for wanting to insist on interfering at the cost of his own safety. She gives him her owl doll as safety charm so that he could give it back to her safely. But for now she wants him to sleep since he looks pale and that the sludge in Tokyo Bay has a healthier colour. Oh Alice… Before Narumi leaves next morning, he gives the t-shirt to Alice as keepsake. No, not as hostage but if he gives it back, he won’t have any more reason to meet Renji. Narumi meets Renji and he wants to talk.

Episode 7
Renji has only 2 things to say to him. First, thanks for being his friend despite how things turned out. Second, the next time he sees him, he will kill him because he is working with Hirasaka Group. Narumi isn’t satisfied with the answer and knows something more has happened. Using their sworn brotherhood thingy as an excuse, Renji mentions he and Yondaime used to live with Hison together. The guys always came back bruised but it didn’t matter to her. They made a promise that till one of them found a better woman than her, they will not make a move on Hison. However Renji wanted to protect her. He and Yondaime were making trouble with the Gotouda Group. Yondaime was believed to have used Hison as a shield and died. Hison’s existence was erased and Yondaime was paid to shut up about it seeing she was an illegal immigrant and a hostess of a club. Renji never saw her body and Yondaime even admitted to it. Narumi doesn’t believe it all because he believes there is still a bond between them. But Renji isn’t amused. He crushes his handphone with his fists to show how mad he is and reveals he is going to crush everything Yondaime created. Narumi returns to report to Alice about Renji’s grudge on Yondaime and is targeting the event. But Alice notes he didn’t attack the band directly. Only the concert staff, Narumi and Ayaka were attacked. Since she has not being formally being requested for help, there is nothing much she can do. Reminding him as detectives, they should not speak thoughts that others did not give form to because they only act as speakers and representatives of those unspoken thoughts. Narumi gets a call from Mika, the promoter for the event. She laments her boss is ready to cancel the job due to the incident but she vows to fight on since Yondaime came all the way to plead with them. This boosts Narumi’s morale. Later he goes to seek Yoshiki’s advice on the embroidery pattern and they chose the same pattern. Noticing he is always seated during his job (regular customers usually get the items themselves instead of calling Yoshiki to fetch it from the top shelves for them), Yoshiki reveals an old ache that doctors advised him not to work too much standing up. He also says when he first opened this place, Yondaime helped him out. Because he is stupidly strong and good looking, people just flock to him. Yoshiki quips Narumi and Yondaime should become a manzai comedy pair because the latter used to speak in Kansai dialect. Narumi realized something and calls Yondaime. Along with the sake ritual, Yondaime and Renji exchanged manners of speech too. Narumi is convinced neither of them has forgotten what’s important and there must be some misunderstanding somewhere. Otherwise their bond couldn’t have easily broken. He pleads him to seek Alice’s help but was told to stay out of his business.

Narumi feels down nothing worked out and felt he had only pretended to understand them. But Alice cautions him not to view Yondaime as a cheap man because he’ll return anything he’s entrusted with without fail. Speaking of which, Yondaime is here to seek Alice’s help. He doesn’t care how but to bring Renji to him. Poke their noses where it doesn’t belong and he’ll beat them up. The trio assistants knew it would come to this and already did the liberty to prior setting up and investigations. Yeah, they have some leads on the case. As found out by Tetsu, Renji owes millions of yen in the black market and that debt is transferred to Yanagihara Group so Renji’s got their backing. But Narumi still feels gloomy because he heard straight from Yondaime’s mouth that Hison was stabbed in his placed and he received the money. Alice warns him again about attempting to form thoughts of another. Showing him a newspaper article about a club hostess attacked by Hirasaka Group 5 years ago, Hison was working there and the ones backing the club were Gotouda Group. If she investigates the money trail, the financial connection with Yondaime will become clearer. That’s because the flow of money speaks volumes about human nature. Alice ends the conversation and wants him to leave immediately or he may turn from moss into fungus. Oh Alice… Narumi sees Mika and the final design of the t-shirts are printed out. She gives him a t-shirt made from Yoshiki with the feel of embroidery in the prints. Returning to Alice, she has scooped up more information. Looking from Gotouda Group leader’s account, he transferred what she believes to be living expenses to Hison, his supposed lover. In the month she died, a very large expense transaction was recorded. Half went to a surgeon in Shinjuku and the other a real estate agent in Adachi who is an acquaintance of Yondaime. Confirming if this is what Renji thinks (someone from Gotouda Group broke into the apartment, mistakenly stabbed Hison whom Yondaime used as a shield and then received compensation), Alice has come to conclude as the same conclusion as Narumi (not because she based it on some ‘virtue’ like he did with Yondaime). Something is wrong with the picture. It may be a big cover up. They may have got their premise wrong because if it was so, why didn’t Gotouda Group kill Yondaime and only went as far as paying him off.

With Yondaime’s men station around town 24/7 so Renji and his men won’t have much freedom doing as they like, Narumi hears Hiro’s testimony he got from a woman living next door to Hison. From the recording, she mentioned remembering hearing a loud noise of a woman from Hison’s room. Subsequently the Gotouda Group came and carried away Hison who was stabbed in the stomach. There was also a man with blood flowing from his shoulder though she didn’t get to see his face. But that voice she heard didn’t belong to Hison but another woman. Narumi rushes back to Yondaime’s place and he tried to touch his tattoo on his shoulder which serves to hide a scar. Yondaime quickly restrains him as Narumi mentions Hison was the target all along and that they were never after him. Returning to Alice, she mentions if it was a right choice for him working here as a detective. Narumi apologizes for not being useful but she says at least it is better than doing nothing (well, he handled 5% of her burden). Back to the case, 5 years ago right after the incident, Gotouda Group leader divorced his wife, who happens to be the other woman’s voice described in the testimony. She is most likely the culprit and the madness that drove her to stab Hison in the abdomen could only mean Hison was pregnant. Case of ex-wife jealous with husband’s lover, eh? Touching the embroidery print t-shirt Narumi is wearing, Alice finally understood and wants him to find Renji at once to tell him the truth. However Narumi gets a call with bad news that Yondaime has been attacked.

Episode 8
Yondaime is in critical condition in hospital, unconscious and still unstable. Calling Alice about the situation, she notes this was all along Renji’s plan. With Yondaime diverting his men to guarding the place, he is left alone and was attacked by the group. Narumi visits Yondaime’s place to see it in a mess. He was in the midst of writing an email when the attack happened. Seems he was about to email materials related to the event to Narumi. He returns to Hanamaru only to be greeted by Yondaime’s underlings who are crying for revenge. They have found out his location and are about to head there to kill him. They don’t give a damn about the concert. This causes Narumi to blow his top that Yondaime has put a lot of effort into this event to take shape. If they cause a scene while wearing that symbol on their t-shirts, it would have been nothing. Besides, don’t you think it is pretty funny that they know Renji’s location now seeing the event is pretty near? Yup, it’s just a trap to lure them in. He reminds them he is Yondaime’s little brother and till he recovers, he will be in charge of the group. The goons apologize about soiling Yondaime’s name and put their trust in him. Later as Alice saw through his tactic, he just put on a show in the heat of the moment. She quips he should be a con man. Even the theory of why Renji let them know his location as a trap, he came up with that at that instant. Alice notes he is truly a mysterious young man because when he gets hot headed, for some reason he arrives at the truth via shortest possible route. She lets him know that Major’s surveillance at the supposed place Renji is, there are around 10 of his men waiting. So if Yondaime’s underlings were to barge in, they would’ve really walked into a trap and an inevitable unruly scene. Alice reminds him about Renji’s goal to destroy Hirasaka Group and came close to achieving that had not his miscalculation of Narumi. Seeing he has failed, it is most likely he will come after him himself. Why? Because they still have his t-shirt as ‘hostage’. But how do they call him out? Alice says to do his job. Straightaway, Narumi calls Mika and wishes to take over everything related to the concert.

On the day of the concert, Narumi and the guys act as security. They spot 3 of Renji’s men camouflaging as the audience but they are told not to engage unless they disrupt the safety of the other people. Narumi goes to the backstage and this is a bait for Renji to follow him. True enough, Renji comes in but he is upset that the lead vocalist is wearing his t-shirt on stage. He purposely took the bait to find out but as Narumi pointed out, it wasn’t him who called him out but Alice. She assures him the shirt is a replica and the original one is still with them. She points on the embroidery on Narumi’s t-shirt that uses a traditional Korean technique, similar to the one on Renji’s shirt. In short, it is made by the same person. On that day 5 years ago when Gotouda Group leader’s ex-wife stabbed Hison in a jealousy crime, Hison was transported to hospital by Gotouda Group and her life spared. However it cost her her womb and ovaries and lost her womanhood. Renji thought Yondaime had accepted the money but in reality it went towards renting a floor of a building in Kita Senju. There, Hison set up a small shop and cast away her womanhood and continued living with a new identity while sealing her emotions towards Renji and Yondaime. Yes. Hison = Yoshiki. Oh sh*t! Plus, Yondaime continues to shoulder the blame for not being able to protect Hison and did this because he doesn’t want Renji to know Hison was Gotouda Group leader’s lover or she was pregnant. She presents him with a choice: To reforge their bonds or let them remain shattered. Yondaime has pretty much stumbled his way to the backstage and didn’t like how everything is revealed. Ironically, Renji didn’t feel so much hate when he sees he face. So what can guys like them do to get back together? Trade punches… Maybe it takes away the pain from their heart… The even ended without incident as Mika treats all the staffs to a celebration. At Hanamaru, Renji notices Min-san has received an embroidery carpet from Yoshiki. Seems he also has forgotten to take his sunglasses. But he realizes the deeper meaning to it. Rushing to Alice to retrieve the t-shirt so he can see off Renji at the train station, Narumi says that even if he can only manage 5%, he’ll still do his best so that she’ll feel he deserves to stay by her side. Once more, Alice is flustered by that sudden attack and starts spewing ‘insults’ such as overdose of employment has unbalanced his brain for this natural-born NEET. Oh Alice… I love how you say things. She probably wanted to admit something but she tells him to hurry. Narumi catches Renji in time and hands him back his sunglasses. He finds out he is trying out his luck in Osaka and can’t stay in Tokyo to take responsibility for what has happened. Plus, seeing Narumi again is considered good for a no-good-person like him. Handing back his t-shirt, the embroidery is completed. He remembers the thing he forgot. Seeing the t-shirt is the only thing he had, each time they moved apartments, Hison will stitch on bit by bit. In the end it took 5 years to complete, eh?

Episode 9
Looks like Narumi is hooked playing online baseball with an incredible database of player stats at an arcade. Not that his team has any luck winning. There goes his money… On a side note, there is a fighting game in the background called… Guess? NEET Fighter!!!However a bunch of yakuzas barge in to stop operations. Narumi is surprised to see Nemo. Seems he wants to up the rental for this place or else it’s eviction. Major wouldn’t allow for it so Nemo decides to settle this with a contest. A baseball game. Not the ones you play in your computer. A real baseball game. Oh sh*t. NEETs and outdoor activities don’t go hand in hand, right? If they win, the rental stays or else Nemo will have the place immediately evicted. Because of that, Major seeks Alice’s help. I guess he’s really desperate. Nishimura (the owner of the arcade) asks about Ayaka’s brother who frequents the arcade but recently hasn’t seen him around. Ayaka doesn’t seem too happy to answer so Hiro chances the subject of players. Because they have not enough players, Yondaime and a couple of his goons join in. The rest making up the team are Min-san, Meo, Tetsu, Major, Hiro and Nishimura. Alice too has a role. She is the coach. Seriously? Serious. What about Narumi? The assistant coach and substitute. He’s always got the best position, eh? Yeah, he’s in charge of training the goons who know nothing about baseball. So the days pass as everyone trains hard. Alice shows Narumi data on Nemo. He is quite the athletic person during his school days and his school baseball team (believed to be a high ranking one) even went on winning the coveted Koushien and him the ace player. At the arcade, Nemo shows he still hasn’t lost touch of his baseball skills because the baseball he threw got stuck in the vending machine. Be very afraid. Narumi asks him about his past playing baseball but he mentions he just want to beat up kids who play baseball because they are treating it like just some game. He isn’t happy that even they won the Koushien, once summer ends, they became nobodies. This game is going to make him money that’s why he is pitching. On game day, Ayaka becomes the cheerleader for the NEET Teddy Bears. Yes, this is what their team name is. Embarrassing? Well, Alice is the coach. Besides, she will be coaching from Hiro’s car stuffed with all her dolls. Can she really breathe in there? The game goes on with both sides equally matched though Nemo’s team has the slim lead. Narumi remembers the additional information Alice told him. On the year Nemo’s team was defeated in the semi-finals, he soon dropped out of school. There were no written proofs so Alice believes Nemo was suspected of being involved with a yakuza baseball betting scheme. After all, everything happened 30 years ago and the truth shrouded in darkness. So it’s like everyone has probably forgotten.

As the game is near its end, Yondaime is reaching his limit. Since he just got discharged from hospital, he is in no condition to play baseball. Why the heck did they let him play in the first place? I know his ego is one thing but they should’ve known about his medical condition, right? Not enough players? They can always pick 1 more goon, right? Alice has observed Nemo’s playing style and laments if only she had his past records. Even so, that is 30 years old and how reliable that would be. Narumi realizes something and dashes back to the arcade to get some data. It is a huge gamble he is taking because he believes there is someone who remembers. When Narumi returns, he sees Yondaime being escorted off the pitch and his ribs bleeding. Tetsu makes a bet with Hiro that he can hit Nemo’s throw. He does hit but his bat breaks! Yondaime wants Narumi to be the pinch hitter but Narumi is not confident. Suddenly Alice steps out and will be the pinch hitter. Is this a joke? Not. As Major notes, due to her small stature, the strike zone is shrunk. I don’t understand baseball so this part had me stumped. Seems Alice purposely missed several shots and on the final one, she tells them they had their eyes looking somewhere else and coolly walks over to the next plate. Nemo realizes he has been had and rushes to the plate but Alice already saves it. Alice passes the bat to Narumi. After several fouls, Narumi strikes a stance that made Nemo seems to recognize. Once Nemo pitches, Narumi hits a home run (I think) and NEET Teddy Bears makes a comeback and wins by the skin of their teeth. Is lady luck shining on Narumi? I think Tetsu is pushing it when he wants him to hit the auctions too. Nemo wants to know how Narumi knew his finishing pitch was the forkball. He read his records from the game. Nemo didn’t think that anybody would remember his stats but as Narumi put it, even if he hates the game, there are people who have remembered him and inputted that data. He is sure there was somebody by his side 30 years ago watched him pitched and committed that memories to heart. Nemo is graceful in his loss and maintains the rental of the arcade. In the aftermath, Major experiences his rare defeat. His tenth defeat in a row! Narumi notices the cute teddy bear uniform of the other team and realizes that it isn’t just them who got addicted to online baseball. Yeah, I guess Alice can be a baseball star considering it is confined to computers. Ayaka thinks of playing it too when Nishimura mentions her brother has returned.

Episode 10
They see Toshi playing the pinball. Tetsu plays a fighting game with him. And lost. It’s been some time they’ve last seen him and he doesn’t look like in good shape as he is coughing on and off. However he doesn’t want his concerned sister to touch him. Narumi follows him outside to see if he’s okay. Toshi starts acting like a strange person and badmouths his sister as stupid, annoying and always trying to drag him back. He mentions about Ayaka being the one skipping class and being worried about him is just to make herself feel better. Toshi feels Narumi is like his replacement. He begins coughing again but takes pops several pills with ‘AF’ inscription. The only thing Narumi knew is that it’s called Angel Fix. Toshi stumbles like a drunkard, not caring about the traffic lights. It’s amazing the cars didn’t hit him. Narumi sees an older guy picking him up across the street. Ayaka calls Narumi but Tetsu hijacks the phone. Learning he swallowed a pill and began behaving strangely, Tetsu believes Toshi is doing drugs again. He doesn’t want him to say a word to Ayaka. Ayaka pesters Narumi for information on what the guys said. Narumi can’t play poker because his straight face tells him that he is hiding something. Toshi calls Ayaka to warn her about not telling others more than she has to. Narumi overheard the conversation that Toshi is with Shirou Hakamizaka, a graduate student doing botanical research whom Ayaka has only met twice or thrice. Next day as Narumi goes to serve Alice her noodles, he sees a WTF moment. Why is Ayaka trying to wrap Alice’s hair?! Anyway Ayaka is kicked out and Alice ‘saved’ when Yondaime comes in to request for help. Because there are people dying, he doesn’t want Narumi to be involved. However seeing he is his sworn little brother, he has no choice. Yondaime wants to know how a new drug has been circulating around the neighbourhood. Remember about Narumi’s face about being poker? Yeah, they can guess from his reaction he knew something about Angel Fix too. With the usual trio assistants in the picture, they conclude Toshi may have either bought it from the source (which they have no info on) or a dealer due to the large amounts he has. They need to catch him and make him talk. But for Narumi, his job is to make sure Ayaka doesn’t find out about this. Again Ayaka tries to bug Narumi for what they talk about. She has a hunch it involves her brother. Narumi is reluctant to say and this causes Ayaka to feel that he is like the same as Toshi, always running off without a word. Narumi wonders if he is Toshi’s replacement since she didn’t quite work out with her brother. Those words hurt her but it’s too late to retract them. Narumi tries to apologize to her but the misunderstanding turns a little for the worse with him accidentally ripping her gardening club committee armband.

Over the next few days, he works hard trying to bring back Ayaka’s smile. One evening, they chance each other and apologized at the same time. With that as an ice breaker, Narumi gives her a newly sewn armband of the club with its own logo. He had Yoshiki help out too. With Ayaka being to her happy self, Narumi tells her what Toshi said the other day about her skipping class. She admits it is true because she is not good mixing with people. She loves hanging out on the rooftop alone till she saw Narumi. She wanted to talk to him but had no courage. She bought planters on purpose so she could come to the roof on pretence of club activities. She assures Narumi he is not a replacement and that Narumi is Narumi. The trio assistants are reading up on books on how the drug is made. Not making any sense, eh? Plus, they have no leads on Toshi. They thought Ayaka was coming and quickly hide the books but it was Narumi. He warns them Ayaka will be here soon as Alice calls Narumi and Hiro for yet another broken stuff doll ‘assignment’. Major chats with Tetsu about Hiro getting involved with this stuff, not knowing Ayaka is eavesdropping nearby. Wow. She must be fast seeing Narumi first said she’ll be late followed by she’ll be here soon. At Yondaime’s place, Hiro receives a list of people who were hospitalized in the area for the past month. Narumi returns to Hanamaru to get a taste of Min-san’s new tiramisu ice cream. He and Ayaka walk home as they chat about the cultural festival in which their teacher wanted to use the roof so they had to clean up the planters. Narumi thinks of notifying the teacher they can’t do so in such a short notice seeing the gardening club is their place. He got embarrassed when he realized what he said and says it was only meant as a figure of speech as he is part of the gardening club for what it’s worth. As they part, it’ll be the last time Narumi would see her smile because Ayaka jumps down from the school building in an apparent suicide. The bed of flowers below isn’t going to cushion her fall… Ayaka!!! NOOOOOO!!!!

Episode 11
Ayaka is still alive but lying in coma in hospital. Her condition is so bad that the doctor has placed no hope in her recovering. Only a miracle can save her. Narumi wallows in guilt and depression that he hasn’t set foot to Hanamaru since then and even skipped school. But he can’t stay like this forever like his sister said. One night he goes to Hanamaru and sees Tetsu. He wants him to teach him boxing. I’m not sure if he’s using this as an excuse to take out his frustrations. Once he feels better, he runs into Alice’s room. As usual, the cool reprimanding lines but Narumi is here seriously seeking her help. Why did Ayaka ended up like that? She warns him that by digging up the truth Ayaka wanted to hide, it will destroy his tranquillity maintained by his ignorance. Might as well since his tranquillity has already been shattered. Alice already knows what he wants to know: The reason Ayaka wants to die but that’s not what she wanted to know. Rather, why did she leap from a school roof which is a low level building compared to others and why the school? She didn’t left any suicide note so the police are investigating as an impulse act or accident. Alice gets emotional and blames herself that she too didn’t get to stop Alice. Narumi promises he will stay by her side and face the truth even at most he can only shoulder 5% of her burden. With that, Alice officially makes him her assistant. Every part of his body to the last drop of his blood belongs to her. Erm… Doesn’t that sound more like a slave? Narumi is to continue as he is, observing places Ayaka spent her time. Alice calls him at school and guides him to the greenhouse but he is surprised to see Yondaime there. He thinks the school has something to do with Angel Fix since he is here investigating but he tells him not to get involved anymore. Narumi returns the greenhouse keys to the teacher who is asking about the pretty bluish violet flowers Ayaka planted. However Narumi didn’t see any of those in the greenhouse. She mentions Ayaka growing a rare new flower breed from seeds her brother gave her. Then it hit Narumi what is happening. He rushes back to Alice to see documents Major put together but she wants him to see something first. A profile of Hakamizaka reveals he is an excellent student in the field of biological chemistry in a pharmacy university. Narumi recognizes this guy as the one picking up Toshi. Hakamizaka is researching and mutate breeding a flower that provides an active ingredient in Angel Fix. By mutating the flower’s DNA, he is creating a breed with a more powerful narcotic effect. Popping up on screen is a list of people who have had contact with Hakamizaka. Among them is Toshi. Seems he is aggressively recruiting help to grow, manufacture the drug but since he is an amateur, he didn’t get much foothold. Toshi was in a position to receive the drug directly from he and he used Ayaka to help grow the raw ingredients. Drugs after all corrupt people from the inside out. She wants Narumi to hand over this data she copied into her USB drive to Yondaime. Meanwhile Yondaime is rallying his underlings to string in those bastards and teach them a good lesson for messing with his turf. Narumi confronts Yondaime on what is he to do when he finds Toshi. Though he can’t forgive him, there is still something he wants to ask Toshi. But Yondaime will put an end to this and he being Ayaka’s brother is of no concern anymore.

Narumi sees the trio assistants who can’t do anything more. He lets them hear his theory how Ayaka found out. She probably saw Major’s documents. Narumi isn’t blaming Major but himself because he was the one who gave away clues about Yondaime’s request and Toshi. With photos of the flowers and documents on the drugs, she realized she had been growing narcotics. But it’s not what drove her to suicide. After she found out Toshi betrayed her, she probably thought of wanting to help him too. He is not sure if they met that night. But what he needs to know are words Ayaka were unable to tell him. Seeing him at a lost but with determination, Tetsu suggests asking for their help. Narumi instructs them to find Toshi is soon as possible. The trio get down to work at lightning speed and surprisingly got all the necessary info. As mentioned by Alice, they could’ve obtained this information sooner as this is what they are capable of. It was Narumi who gave their capabilities a direction. Deep down, those 3 always wanted to help Toshi but knew what would happen if they found him. They were poor in acting tough and unable to act on their own will. After Narumi visits Ayaka, he gets a surprise call from Ayaka’s handphone. It is Toshi on the line and he sounds crazy. He is ‘complimenting’ the good job he and Alice had done in putting up wanted posters of him and Hakamizaka. Toshi isn’t going to tell his whereabouts and Narumi knew he was with Ayaka that night. Suddenly Toshi gets a mood swing. He starts emotionally crying he didn’t want it to happen to her. He can’t run away now. There’s no more hope for him. He wants help. All of a sudden, Narumi hears him getting beaten up. It is Hakamizaka. Realizing he isn’t Alice, he wants him to relay a message to her, “Find me if you can. Catch me if you can. If you don’t, I might just fly away”. He doesn’t want to waste his breath explaining why he is doing this because commoners like him won’t understand his ideals. Only the chosen ones get to knock on Heaven’s door. In other words, those who sport the pink wings he has created. Asking if Narumi would like to sprout wings and fly just like that girl, he hangs up. Oh dear, could it be?

Episode 12
Narumi rushes back to Alice to inform what happened. This confirms Ayaka has made contact with Toshi prior to her jump. Alice has located Ayaka’s handphone GPS location and it turns out to be a disco owned by Hirasaka Group. However Yondaime is beating up a small fry in possession of Angel Fix. After retrieving Ayaka’s handphone, Narumi asks the guy about Hakamizaka’s location but that guy is so high that he can only see an angel. Narumi wanted to beat him up but was stopped by Yondaime that he was sent to provoke and fool them, that’s why Ayaka’s handphone was given to him. He doesn’t know a thing about Toshi or Hakamizaka. Yondaime wants Major to analyze the drug and has Narumi leave with him. Because after this, Yondaime is going to get violent with that small fry and have him spill everything out. Back at Alice, they confirm that those who took Angel Fix have the same ‘conversation’ of seeing an angel. The analysis of the pill has lower concentration than usual which means demand is exceeding supply. But if demand has become so pervasive, why hasn’t the merchant been identified? Narumi suddenly realizes something and requests for a pen, blacking out the packet of the pill, a mark of angel wings is seen (previously Narumi thought he saw something strange flickering on the packet when light went over it). Seems the drug heightens visual perception and it’s not a hallucination. They conclude dealers wait for people who are already high to find them and sell the drug (usually it’s the other way round). As Alice puts it, it’s an experiment to test how effective the drug was as well as whether he could create believers keen enough to seek out the wings of an angel. In order to find the dealer, Narumi volunteers to take Angel Fix. Though the rest disagree with this dangerous method, Alice feels if this is the only option left, by all means do so. Narumi visits Ayaka and also sees his teacher there. She tells him the cultural festival will continue but the rooftop will no longer be used. She also says to come to class because his classmates are also worried and care for him.

The operation begins with Narumi taking the drug. He finds it hard to maintain his sanity. Alice is giving him directions while Tetsu and Hiro are close by to take care of anything deemed necessary and not let Narumi hurt himself. The effect of the drug is getting too strong for Narumi to handle. He can’t find himself to obey Alice’s words anymore and finds it irritating. He suddenly sees a vision of Ayaka with angel wings. He chases after her. Next thing he knows, he is in contact with a woman but Tetsu was there to ‘retrieve’ Narumi. When the woman leaves, Hiro tails her while Tetsu tries to hold resisting Narumi. He wants to go to his ‘angel’. Narumi wakes up in Alice’s room with his sanity intact though a bit drowsy. She mentions the case is coming to a close. Pointing to the bruises under his eyes, they are a result of a strong immune reaction to one of the components of Angel Fix. So what he and Ayaka experienced was simply a bad trip. Narcotics exaggerate various mental processes so the thinnest sliver of regret or guilt of knowing that in raising those flowers, she had aided a crime. Tetsu comes in and isn’t pleased Alice has contacted Yondaime. She mentions he is also a client in this case and since they don’t know the enemy well, they may require Hirasaka Group’s strength one way or another. Anyway she has Hiro ready the car as they head to the final scene. Outside a shop, Yondaime and his underlings have surrounded the place. Securing all the floors, they make their way to the basement and see a drug lab with lots of people high on the drug. Among them is Hakamizaka. On a high, he considers his experiment a success and believes is going to His Kingdom in Heaven. Alice asks if Ayaka’s case was a success as well, he replies he had no choice when she discovered the truth behind the flowers and threatened to go to the police so he forced her to take the drug. Initially he wanted to thank her with cash but she wanted the poppy flowers instead. Noting an angel came for her, he wonders if one will come for him too. Alice decides to give him this parting gift. Asking what she looks like to him (an angel, of course), she says she has seen what is written in God’s notebook but among the 144,000 registered names, his was not to be found anywhere. He hasn’t been admitted to the Kingdom as this dim and stuffy room will where he’ll be spending the rest of his time. Hakamizaka panics and turns into a person full of despair. What Alice did was just to toy with his junkie delusions so that he doesn’t remain blissfully high. As for Toshi, Yondaime was going to get rough on him but Tetsu warned him so he gives Narumi the permission to do what he likes. Toshi is still high and wanting more of the good stuff. Narumi is so filled with hatred and anger that he punches him repetitively like a punching bag. Those boxing lessons sure came in handy, eh? See his bloodied fists? If Tetsu didn’t restrain him, it could’ve gotten worse.

In the aftermath, Hakamizaka’s drug ring is busted, the pill disappeared from the city but as the seasons pass, Ayaka remained comatose. Narumi continued to visit her and tell her tales, not knowing if she is listening but this is the least he could do to atone for his failure to notice Ayaka’s warning signs. On his way back, he meets Alice who wanted to check something at his school’s rooftop. Alice tells him NEETs aren’t useless people who can’t do anything or don’t try to do anything. Because of the different rules, others can’t play the game the same way. They get confused and rush to categorize and isolate them so they can regain their peace of mind. But NEET is not a label. It’s a way of life. As for Ayaka’s reason to jump off the building top, it is to seal this place off. When the cultural festival was supposed to be planned here, the school has no choice but to close down the roof for safety reasons seeing an accident had occurred. That way, nobody could intrude upon the sacred ground she shared with Narumi. As the sun rises, they see a beautiful poppy flower field covering the rooftop and what’s more, the pattern forms the logo of the gardening club. Though Ayaka is crushed by the influence of the drug, at the very end, she remembered this. She wanted to protect this place and was thinking of him. Narumi narrates the 2 jobs in the world Alice said can be meaningful to which that has been lost, a writer and a detective. That’s why Narumi decides to tell this story so that he could bring back to life in the world of dreams the words that were written in God’s notebook for he believes it is something meaningful he can do for what has already been lost. And the final miracle: Ayaka opens her eyes!

I NEET A Hero!
I consider the ending to be quite heart-warming. If Ayaka had not regained consciousness in the end, it would definitely have left a bitter taste in my mouth (I’m sure many viewers would also feel that way). So it goes to show that there is still hope no matter how tiny it is. The flow of the story is quite okay and because they are split into short story arcs and most cases are somewhat related to the main characters in the series, I thought I would be seeing one that delves deeper into Alice’s past or at least how she ended up as a NEET detective. I also thought we would have a glimpse of the past of her trio assistants but I suppose the short nature of the series doesn’t allow it so maybe if they were to make another season, they might throw in such stuff. I mean, it isn’t really just coincidence that a bunch of unemployed guys come to work under Alice, right? Say, I wonder how much they are getting paid. Maybe it is not in monetary terms we’re talking about. Perhaps the satisfaction in helping out others, those who lack the power to stand up against the circumstances.

Alice is by far the most amusing character in the series. She is serious, mysterious, cute and funny. Let’s look on the serious side first. For a girl her age, she exudes lots of professionalism in the cases she takes up. Maybe it’s her monotonous speeches but you can’t say that she’s emotionless because that’s where her cute and funny side comes in. But being serious, she doesn’t let emotions control her that’s why she is able to think straight and come up with conclusions that would be pivotal in solving most of her cases. I won’t go as far as saying that her vocabulary is of a high standard but rather the choice of words she uses in her dialogues are not what ordinary girls her age would use. Sometimes it’s enlightening as well as fun to pay heed to what she says. Either you’ll be in awe or just laugh. Especially those reprimanding words that she has to say to Narumi. Man, I could say she is that ‘creative’ in coming up with them. For the mysterious part, how much do we know about Alice and her past? None, right? Heck, you don’t even know if Alice is her real name or not. Now on to her cute and funny side. Because she’s still a girl, she has quirky habits like her stuffed dolls and her obsession for the Dokupe can drinks. I wonder if those fizzy drinks are good for her health. She looks quite frail so it seems anybody could easily overpower her if they wanted to. That’s why she’s no match for even Ayaka when it comes to bath time or anything that needs her to get physical (nothing yuri lah). So her tongue and fingers are her mighty sword, eh? Alice doesn’t just sit in her bedroom-cum-office all the time and when the time calls for it, she’ll go out on scene whenever needed. So you can’t say she’s all cooked up in her room all the time, right? However Alice herself isn’t perfect because at times she blames herself for not having the power to stop occurrences she thinks could have been avoided.

At first, Narumi didn’t quite like being associated with NEETs and the detective jobs they do. But slowly, he finds himself getting involved not because he is turning into a NEET too but because of his desire to truly help others. Okay, stay too long and he will become one. But he really can’t technically since he is under education, still schooling. I guess he is one of those nice guys who can’t turn down an offer to help others even if it means putting his life on the risk or getting reprimanded from Alice. That’s why he is thick-headed in wanting to become sworn brothers with Yondaime. Any normal kid would’ve been turned off by the threats that yakuza head would’ve made. But Narumi is stubborn, his desire and ideal to protect others stood firmly above anything else no matter how many times Yondaime warned, threatened and told him to stay out. But partly his ignorance is to blame. If he had done his research beforehand, he wouldn’t have become a dumb mule to take things the trio assistants that they themselves do not want to bring to Alice, right? If he had been more sensitive and conscious, Ayaka would never have become a victim of the drug. However it is precisely because of that Narumi learns from his mistakes and grows up stronger and becomes mature. So now he doesn’t mind being by Alice’s side and her assistant, eh? Even if he is just doing 5%, I’m sure he is doing quite a fine job. After all, what good is an assistant if he can’t even open a can of Dokupe. Haha! If you’re expecting to see any romance or chemistry building up, don’t get your hopes high up. Alice’s blushing and flustering is just her spontaneous reaction towards Narumi’s words she never expected. But then again, if she didn’t read his caring lines as anything deeper, she wouldn’t have reacted so, right? So no matter how great this NEET detective girl is, she’s still a girl after all. Does she really harbour any romantic feelings for him? Don’t really know. But I feel Narumi’s care for her isn’t the romantic type either.

Tetsu, Hiro and Major provide good assistance and backup to the NEET team and it is safe to say that you can rely on them and place your trust in them to a job for you. It just makes me wonder how they carry on living their lives without proper jobs. Surely being the NEET detective team isn’t the only way to make a living? Or it could be for them. They get ‘free’ ramen from Min-san? Hiro probably could live off from all the girls who would gladly sleep with him. Tetsu may get by with his gambling luck and since he is a boxer, you want to think twice before messing around with him. What about Major? I guess everyone else who doesn’t know this military freak well will always mistake this university-going guy as a school kid due to his diminutive stature. If he’s setup surveillance devices here and there, don’t you think the entire Tokyo is filled with spy cameras? Where is the privacy in that anymore? No wonder Alice sees and knows everything. Yondaime is quite a cool guy too. But he’s not the kind to shower you with love or show you his loving side. That won’t do if you’re heading a yakuza, right? He might be rough, rough and violent but beneath his actions he really does care. That is his way of love I suppose. His underlings, well I would say they are a bunch of loyal jokers. Especially when it comes to computers, they really see Narumi as their ‘God’. They’ve never seen someone working with their fingers that efficient, eh? I can’t believe that some of them don’t even know baseball considering this sport is quite popular in Japan. Plus, they have never seen the stuffed dolls Alice brings in a box. Because they are being told to handle with utmost care by Yondaime, they really go through all the trouble to make sure they deliver it with care even if they don’t know what’s inside. I can only smile seeing them do this because we know inside the box is nothing but a broken doll waiting to be fixed but to them, they’re thinking it must be one heck of something precious. The most intriguing side character has to be Min-san’s estranged father. Today it still bugs me if Major’s theory on that guy is true. I mean, if I understood it in another way, he would be a ghost! So that short story arc on Min-san really baffled me. Why couldn’t she recognize or at least sense him. And he has been patronizing Hanamaru many times. She could have guessed but never even came close. Was she in denial?

The aspect that this anime explores is the darker side of humans. Being evil is only human nature. Because of characteristics like greed, anguish, selfishness, melancholy, breakdown, betrayal and abandonment (you can find more of these in the ending credits animation which I plucked some from, filled with those words that perfectly describe the dark nature of human beings), it brings out the worse in us just for our own gains at the expense of others. Humans would do anything vile and despicable and going more than far enough just to get what they want. So for a bunch of NEET detective team made up by a bunch of kids, you can say them dealing with yakuzas and drugs is quite an achievement. So where the heck are the police officers?! Hmm… Maybe corruption got them. So just like Santa, you better be nice and not naughty because God is keeping a watch on you and jotting them down in His notebook. Hey, would that be the good ol’ paper notebook or electronic notebook?

Yui Ogura as the voice of Alice is most fitting of her role. She really fits the character. I like her when she starts throwing her tantrums. She makes funny sounds. Makes me laugh. Alice sounds like an authentic little girl rather than a grownup trying to squeak out a shrieky voice because Yui Ogura was only 16 years old when she voiced the character. Her other little girl character roles include Hinata of Ro-Kyu-Bu and Mint in Yumeiro Patissiere. Other casts include Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Narumi (Riku Seya in Hourou Musuko), Ai Kayano as Ayaka (Hibino on Kamisama Dolls), Masaya Matsukaze as Tetsu (Ren in Jigoku Shoujo), Takahiro Sakurai as Hiro (Jenos in Black Cat), Kouki Miyata as Major (Kouta in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu), Daisuke Ono as Yondaime (Sebastian in Kuroshitsuji), Hitomi Nabatame as Min-san (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Kenichi Suzumura as Renji (Sougo in Gintama), Akira Ishida as Yoshiki (Chrno in Chrno Crusade), Satoshi Hino as Hakamizaka (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima series), Shinnosuke Tachibana as Toshi (Minato in Sekirei) and newbie Saki Ogasawara as Meo. Initially I thought the ending theme Colorado Bulldog by the American rock supergroup, Mr Big is going to be the main ending theme. But I guess it’s just a special ending for the first special episode in which its duration is twice the length of its subsequent episodes (48 minutes compared to the usual 24 minutes). But I guess the main ending theme, Asunaro by Kenichi Suzumura is quite pleasing too because of its rock tune. But the end of the ending credits animation, it left me wondering why the heck is Narumi handing a Dokupe to Alice stranded in the middle of an empty major road junction. The opening theme, Kawaru Mirai by Choucho beats to your typical anime pop.

This show may not change the perception of NEETs but it is partly true what Alice said NEET is a way of life and only the norms of society have labelled them as something utterly negative. I wonder if people who does volunteer job around the world would fit under this bill. Perhaps it is under employment? You may not get paid like a normal office job and in the sense you are ’employed’ by an organization to do charitable work in your area or internationally. Just because you’re a NEET doesn’t mean you have no other talents. Yeah, a talent at doing nothing. Haha! I may not be a NEET (because I’m still under employment, mind you), but that doesn’t make me different or less than a crazy anime otaku addict. Some people may consider the love of watching anime to be childish but it is what I love and enjoy doing. Why? Because it’s the NEET thing to do.

Freezing

May 26, 2012

Why is it that only young people have the ability to fight against extra terrestrial threats? Be it possessing super human abilities or piloting a certain mecha, I know teenagers are our future but what does that tells us about old people? It all started with that Evangelion series that only 14 year olds can pilot a particular robot. It is no different in Freezing. Though it is never mentioned any age limit for teenagers to fight against aliens, but why are they just confined to high school girls? Oh heck, like I care about that.

This series which is based on the manhwa (Korean manga) of the same name, is one of those typical man versus alien for the future of mankind and set in the near futuristic world. There are lots of sci-fi terms to learn but you’ll get by as you watch. Sometimes it might be a headache to remember the jargon but you won’t get any concussion at the end. Besides, how bad is it going to get for just a dozen of episodes anyway?

But if you want to watch this series, you watch it for the fanservice. Yes, fanservice. No doubt. What else would you want to watch this show for? However when the series was being aired, viewers were given 2 types of video resolution. Either you watch the 704 x 400 (16:9) screen but is censored or the 640 x 480 (4:3) screen in which you’ll get the much needed fanservice that is the point of this show. Sounds unfair, right? It’s either you get wide screen without the ecchi bits or else be contend with the black strips on the sides of your screen. Of course you can have the best of both worlds when you buy the DVD but that’s not the case. For me, I thought it was best to go for the full fanservice not because I’m a pervert but after my experience with Seikon No Qwaser, maybe I can see the larger picture of everything and not have any annoying censors. Okay, maybe I do sound like a pervert. Honestly, I have not watched the censored version at all so I can’t tell. But I did watch a couple of episodes from the DVD version. Which brings me to this point. If you’re watching the 4:3 resolution, you’re going to find it a little annoying because there are words from the side that are purposely cut out due to the insufficient screen length. This is evident especially in the title screen whereby the episode synopsis is listed. Yes, they actually put the episode summary but it’s in English. This is irritating when the words of the sentences are just cut off or blocked due to the screen size.

Episode 1
In a simulated combat training called Carnival, genetically female warriors dubbed Pandoras are brutally slaughtering each other to death! Amidst the bloody slicing and limb cutting action, they manage to put in some fanservice within the violence. Satellizer el Bridget is the Academy’s second year number 1 and also known as the Untouchable Queen because well, nobody can even touch her. Not even if the girls gang up and attack simultaneously, Satellizer efficiently kills them all! Yumi Kim is an instructor at the Military Academy of West Genetics. She is lecturing to her students about Pandoras fighting against extra dimensional aliens called Novas. Pandoras are infused with Stigmata that allow them to deploy their Volt Weapons and grant them physical abilities that far surpass normal humans. With Stigmata, any cut off or damaged parts is able to be recovered without visible scarring but the surgery must be done quick (see the surgery hall filled with screaming ladies. Ouch!). Arthur Crypton wants Yumi to tell them about her past. The time she was still an active Pandora. Four years ago during the 8th Nova Crash, Type-S invaded Japan, she and Elise Schmitz were the only participants that truly protected Japan. Elsewhere, Kazuya Aoi is praying at his sister’s grave. He remembers when he was young, he doesn’t want Kazuha to fight the Novas. She promised she won’t lose as they are the only people who can fight the aliens. But that was the last time he saw her. Kazuya is picked up by student council president, Chiffon Fairchild and is being explained about several terms like Limiter, partners for Pandora (that is what Kazuya is going to be). Ereinbar is a neural system that controls one 5 senses and during battle, a Pandora and her Limiter can synchronize their Ereinbar into one. Its rate is highest when the Limiter is a younger boy. The act of Pandora and Limiter synchronizing their senses is called Ereinbar Set. This is used to neutralize Nova’s Freezing Area with their own Freezing. As battles with Novas involve death, even so they have to fight just like his sister did. Yumi recounts how her team of Pandoras exposed Type-S Nova’s core but its counterattack left many wounded or dead. Yumi even lost an arm! With medics retrieving them, Yumi saw Kazuha sacrificing her life to destroy the Nova’s core. Kazuya arrives at West Genetics and is greeted by student council officer Ticy Phenyl when suddenly a blast within a building occurs. Seems to be the Carnival. Satellizer lives up to her nickname and viciously maim and kills her opponents. No mercy! But the Academy’s number 2, Ganessa Roland, that bratty b*tch isn’t going to let her get all the glory and attacks. Satellizer is obviously better than her but the battle ends up before Kazuya’s eyes. Kazuya recognizes Satellizer as Kazuha (at least that’s what he thinks) and hugs her. Woah! He touched her! Being the Untouchable Queen, this is how she got touched?! Unbelievable. Worse, Satellizer is making embarrassing girly reactions. Probably Kazuya is burying his face in her boobs. Can’t blame that kid because he really misses her sister. Maybe it’s the power of the hug that causes Satellizer to activate a Freezing area as well. Ganessa uses this chance to attack.

Episode 2
The military guys note that it is forbidden to use a Limiter during Carnival but they don’t know who this Limiter (Kazuya) is. Due to that, Ganessa becomes the new number 1 usurping Satellizer. Kazuya wonders why he thought Satellizer was his sister since she’s dead. Chiffon explains that although Carnival is a formal match to determine the rankings of Pandora throughout the entire academy, accidental interferences will also affect the result. In short, her loss cannot be overturned. Kazuya wants to apologize to her but Chiffon warns him to transfer to another school! He just got here! Due to Satellizer’s violent history and the trouble she caused at Genetics, she never forgives anyone who touches her. I guess that’s why they call her untouchable too. Oh speaking of the devil, here comes Satellizer. Probably Kazuya didn’t listen right because he grabs Satellizer’s hand! This causes her to have a horrid flashback as she fumbles losing her glasses. Kazuya returns it to her but she ignores him. Again he grabs her hand and apologizes for causing her that wound. She warns him not to get too close to her. Still he wants to grab her hand but before he could, she draws her weapon to threaten. Now do you listen? Ganessa comes by to mock her and rub salt to her wounds. She even goes as far as to say to find a lover boy and retire forever and forget about reclaiming her queen title. However Ganessa still wants to challenge her now to see who is really number 1 even if this is against regulations for Pandoras to fight outside Carnival. Ganessa deploys her Volt Weapon, Chains of Binding and attacks. But Satellizer was just cool and she didn’t even move much to send Ganessa to a crashing defeat! Eat your words b*tch! Ganessa couldn’t care less about anything now and activates her powerful Pandora Mode. It blows Satellizer away but Kazuya catches her. She doesn’t feel spiteful despite him touching her. Due to the distraction, Ganessa binds her and starts cutting her up. She is about to cut her right hand to commemorate her victory but Kazuya steps in to protect her. She slaps away the kid. Satellizer gets upset and unleashes her Pandora Mode. She breaks loose from the chains and in the final face off, all it takes is a single strike from Satellizer to defeat Ganessa. Yeah, she’s close to naked too. She could’ve been finished if Yumi and Elise didn’t refrain her. They order her to disarm her Pandora Mode since it’s only for experimental purposes and they don’t know what side effect it will have. Both ladies will get their punishment. Kazuya upon knowing who the lecturers are realizes they once fought along Kazuha’s side and believes that there are people who have returned from the fight with Novas. Principal Sister Margaret gives Kazuya his dorm key and advises him about the pairing between Pandora and her Limiter is left to the choices of each person in question. Kazuya finds his roommate is Arthur. He wanted to ask about Satellizer but was told not to get involved with her because she doesn’t even use a Limiter. But Arthur is so eager about telling his own Pandora, the most beautiful, strong and incomparable Pandora that loves him: Ganessa. Oh sh*t. He didn’t watch today’s ruckus, didn’t he? Limiter Eater, Miyabi Kannazuki takes an interest in Kazuya and feels he has got enough qualifications to receive her proclamation. Big breasted girl in her hot lingerie surrounded by her male harem? Doesn’t sound good.

Episode 3
It is Kazuya’s first day in class and he realizes Arthur isn’t around. That’s because he’s nursing Ganessa. Still didn’t know what happened to her, eh? Better don’t ask. Class rep, Kaho Hiiragi shows Kazuya around the cafeteria. She mentions she saw him standing up for Satellizer and though he still feels guilty for causing her to lose the Carnival, she advises not to get involve with her. But Kazuya is upset that she is saying bad things about people she doesn’t even know much. Speaking of Satellizer, she comes into the cafeteria and everyone just ran away like they saw a ghost! Guess what? Kazuya grabs her hand again! Shocking! She drops her food and runs away to the rooftop. Kazuya follows her and not only apologizes but also thanks her for saving him then. She says it’s her principle to return favours. Kazuya feels she is a nice person compared to how others paint and guess what next? He asks her to take him as her Limiter! Arthur and Kaho are eavesdropping and must be surprise at the developments. However third year Miyabi and her men tease them about making a pact at such a place. Arthur and Kaho know Miyabi as a Limiter Eater because she throws away guys once she gets tired of them and has no intention to fight Novas. Miyabi wants to make Kazuya her little brother and do a Baptism with her but he rejects. She doesn’t take light of this insult. In a shocking turn, Satellizer warns her not to lay a finger on him. Now she’s standing up for him? Miyabi feels she’s been underestimated and will show her the different levels between a second and third year. She uses her Volt Weapon, Homing Dagger followed by her high speed Accel Turn but to everyone’s surprise, Satellizer can also do that. Accel Turn is a curriculum only thought to third years. Miyabi goes crazy when Satellizer scratches her face. She orders her Limiters to do Ereinbar Set and sets upon them a Freezing Area. However Satellizer can jump out of it but she sees Kazuya stuck and goes back to get him. In that instance, she got stabbed by the Homing Daggers. Miyabi is going to teach her a lesson for scarring her face. All Satellizer wants is for her to let Kazuya go. But she isn’t going to let it be. She has her guys beat Kazuya up while she fondles Satellizer’s boobs. Adding to her humiliation, she pulls down her pantsu and has her guys take pictures of her nice ass to send it around later. Kazuya is so upset that he breaks free from Freezing Area and sets that area upon them himself. Without Ereinbar Set, how can he do that? Beats me but Satellizer is going to turn the tables on her. Chiffon gets word of what’s happening and rushes to the scene. Look at all the guys beaten up unconscious and Miyabi is begging for mercy! So badly beaten up that she promises never to stand up to her again! What the hell did she do? Chiffon pleads to Satellizer to disarm herself but she won’t listen. Not even the instructors can help. But Kazuya. He has had enough and Freezes Satellizer. Remembering Kazuha’s words, he says Pandoras are not meant to hurt each other. So that’s the end of that. Yumi and Elise research on Kazuya on how he is able to do Freezing. The number of Stigmata that can be matured within a Pandora’s body is between 2 to 4. However Kazuha’s body was exceptional and was able to mature over 20 Stigmata. Though males cannot mature Stigmata or is there any need for it, Kazuya’s body has 30% skeletal structure composing of Stigmata tissue. Whether or not he knows it, perhaps that’s why the government and Genetics knew about this before enrolling him here. Chiffon tends Kazuya’s wound and once again advises him not to get involved with Satellizer. Her actions went too far because in this place, school seniority is like rank in the army, which is absolute. With a third year losing to a second year, this will certainly force third years who have overlooked things so far to take action. Ingrid Bernstein and her Limiter, Leo Bernard are in another practice simulation with a Type-R Nova. As usual, their synchronization is perfect and allows them to easily defeat the enemy. On the way out, she meets Attia Simmons who wants her to take care of Satellizer.

Episode 4
Ingrid remembers her best friend dying in her arms after an attack from a Type-S Nova. Satellizer has been released from solitary confinement after a week. But trouble greets her again. Ingrid, The Guardian of Order as she is called is here to punish those who disturb the order at the academy with all her power. She wants her to find herself a Limiter by tomorrow afternoon so that they both will receive her punishment. The ever stalking Kaho heard the unbelievable and return to inform Arthur and Kazuya. They warn Kazuya to hide because they predict Satellizer will come looking for him. But guess what? He went out looking for Satellizer in her dorm instead! Such a rebellious kid. She is currently in the bath (why the hell didn’t she lock the front door) so Kazuya is tempted to read her diary! Bad kid. Thankfully she steps out and thinks he may have done so and pushes him away. Oh, her towel slipped off. Once both sides have calmed down, Kazuya reveals his intention to come here to find out about her answer in making him her Limiter. The answer is still no. That night Satellizer visits Ingrid and she attacks her because she believes one must strike the opponent while she is separated from their Limiter. So another power fight on the cards. But if Satellizer thinks she can beat Ingrid without her Limiter, she’s wrong because it doesn’t make her any weaker. In fact, she is much stronger and faster especially with her tonfa-like Volt Weapon, Divine Trust. Satellizer uses Accel Turn but Ingrid uses another high end skill called Tempest Turn that clones herself to beat her up. For the record, Ingrid is ranked 7th in her grade. With Leo coming into the picture, Ingrid once again gives her a chance to find a Limiter or else she’ll receive straight the punishment. And conveniently they’re outside the boys’ dorm. Would anybody care to be her Limiter? Oh, there’s one. No prizes guessing who. Kazuya is warned that by becoming her Limiter, he too will be an accomplice with Satellizer in disturbing the order. Heck, screw that. He can’t stand Satellizer being beaten up like this. Kazuya offers to be her Limiter but again she turns him down, citing she hates that dirty sensation of her entire body being licked all over. Ingrid explains her misunderstanding. Though it’s true there is some discomfort as they are sharing all senses, it is not dirty but a sacred bond achieved through deep trust. I guess time’s up so Ingrid charges. To everyone’s surprise Kazuya uses Freezing to stop her even if he hasn’t been Baptized yet. She thinks she should take him out first but was slashed by Satellizer. Kazuya wonders why Ingrid is so obsessed with the order so conveniently Ganessa was there to explain. A year ago before Satellizer transferred here, her grade went on a Carnival expedition but was ambushed by a Nova. Due to its sudden appearance, order within the ranks was thrown into chaos. If the first years did not abandon ship, Marin would’ve till been alive. By the time medics arrive, the Nova is suppressed and Marin died. Ingrid and Leo use Freezing on Satellizer but Kazuya stuns them again by using an omnidirectional Freezing that is normally used by Novas. Satellizer takes out Leo and then targets Ingrid. Ingrid activates Pandora Mode which allows Pandoras to move in Freezing Area without a Limiter. She is still obsessed in protecting the order to prevent unnecessary deaths like Marin. Kazuya using a stronger Freezing begs to differ. Though he may not know her well, but he believes she did not die in vain. She died while upholding her beliefs as a Pandora. He knows it because he too had a sister like that. Ganessa reveals the truth that the first years didn’t abandon ship. Marin purposely let them escape because she knew they couldn’t win as they were without Limiters. Marin stalled for time to let them escape to safety. Ingrid remembers Marin asking her about the first years before her final breath. Thankfully they were all safe. Hey Ganessa, why wait till today only to tell her? More impact? Ingrid feels guilty for even thinking that her best friend’s death was in vain. So end of fight. Kazuya thanks Satellizer for saving him for the second time.

Episode 5
Kaho and Arthur find it strange that Kazuya can use Freezing even without being Baptised. Kazuya himself doesn’t know and all he knew was he wanted to protect Satellizer. Again they try to tell him to stay away from her because even when he saved her, she didn’t even say a word of thanks. Speaking of which, here comes Satellizer. She wants to have a word with Kazuya. At the rooftop, she puts his hand over her cheeks and realizes that when he touches her, she doesn’t get this feeling. She agrees for him to be her Limiter with a condition they don’t do Baptism. I guess he’s happy enough with that. Rana Linchen has arrived all the way from the Tibetan Himalayas to West Genetics as the new transfer student and is fired up to find her Destined Man. Over lunch, Satellizer invites Kazuya to her room tonight. Could this be it? As Kazuya walks back, he spots Rana. Seems she got lost and is happy to see him because he’s the first person she met ever since stepping foot in this academy! WTF?! It took her the whole day?! Kazuya guides her to Margaret’s office and meets up with Kaho and Arthur. They learn about becoming Satellizer’s Limiter and his invitation to her room. They think this could only mean she may be just want to use his power because there is no Stigmata given as a symbol of bond and that the First Room Entry is some kind of custom for Baptism (I don’t blame you if you start having naughty thoughts. Besides it’s a custom for Pandoras to bond well with their younger counterpart). Outside the girls’ dorm, Kazuya bumps into 3 ladies. Once they know Satellizer has consented to join with him, they wish to celebrate with him by beating him up! Audrey Duval AKA Slash Maiden, Aika Takeuchi AKA Silver Leaf of Intoxication and Tris McKenzie AKA Twin Fang are the ladies who bitterly lost to Satellizer at an earlier Carnival. It doesn’t take a genius to guess that they’re doing this out of revenge. Kazuya is pinned down but the thing is, they too get rough with Kaho. They call it re-education or training, but it’s bullying-cum-punishment obviously. Tris and Kaho fight but of course a first year like Kaho is no match for her senior. If Arthur had not stood there and watch and go inform the teacher, he wouldn’t have got beaten up and stepped on especially where it hurts most. Seeing his buddies getting beaten up, Kazuya gets upset and unleashes his Freezing. The bullies are shocked. Meanwhile Rana once again lost her way to the dorm but sees Kazuya using Freezing. She saw the Kunlun Tears trembling. However Kazuya loses power and collapses. The bullies plan to leave a scar on his body but were stopped by Rana. She won’t let them harm this kid. Stronger and faster, she teaches those bullies a lesson they won’t forget. Elsewhere, Satellizer must be spending the entire evening just choosing which dress she will wear to meet Kazuya. But that’s not him at the door but Arthur. He brings her to the Recovery Centre where Kazuya is recuperating. Satellizer and Rana meet for the first time as the latter introduces herself as a transfer student beginning tomorrow. The former seems suspicious. The ‘it’s another woman’ kind of suspicion, get what I mean? Arthur chauffeurs Rana away to visit Kaho. Elise is surprised Satellizer is asking for Kazuya’s condition. His condition is stable, not life threatening and just overworked his body. At Kaho’s side, Rana explains that she was sent by her Elder to find her Destined Men as this is a fate for women who possess Kunlun Tears. Deciphering her terminology: Rana is a Pandora; Destined Man = Limiter; Kunlun Tears = Stigmata. She shows those Tears behind her back and she has 6 of them (Pandoras often have 2 only). Rana has already decided on her Limiter: Kazuya. But the duo mention he belongs to Satellizer. Oh, look at that expression. I smell a big cat fight coming up…

Episode 6
Kazuya wakes up with Satellizer sleeping by his side. He apologizes for not making it to her room but she is okay with it since they spent the night together. Nothing funny happened lah. Rana is in the same class with Satellizer. She is actually a year older than them but held back a year to learn the basics of being a Pandora. Guess where she sits next to? She gets straight in telling Satellizer that Kazuya is her Destined Man. During a free battle simulation, Rana fights against Ganessa. Rana’s Volt Weapons are her iron gloves and boots, making her a close combat type. She easily dodges all Ganessa’s moves and could’ve dealt the final blow if Yumi didn’t stop the match. Elsewhere, guess who are trying to tell Kazuya to stay away from Satellizer. So persistent, eh? They reveal 2 years ago before Satellizer was transferred here, she was from East Genetics and made a Limiter beyond recovery. That guy, Brooks Ribbon was just like Kazuya. Good looking, lots of girls chased after him and offered himself to be Satellizer’s Limiter. However Satellizer used him to a point whereby he couldn’t be a Limiter anymore. She served a year under house arrest and should’ve been a third year instead of a second year. Subsequently she beat up another second year Limiter who touched her by accident. Their talk is interrupted with Rana joining them. The duo leave so they both can get better acquainted. Rana gets picky on how Kazuya should call him and starts seducing him. They’re in the cafeteria, you know. Hope others don’t lose their appetite with her getting too close and intimate to him. And then… Satellizer comes in. She wants to have a word with Kazuya. Obviously that guy follows her. Attia soon takes her seat next to Rana and proceeds to tell her something ‘pitiful’. Gosh. That doesn’t sound good. At the rooftop, Satellizer wants Kazuya to call her casually too (don’t want to lose out to a certain transfer student) and invites him to eat lunch with her. Rana reflects what Attia told her. Because Kazuya and Satellizer became a pair without Baptism, this could only mean Kazuya has been tricked by her pretty face so she can use his ability. After that, she’ll just toss him aside and search for another one. Oh, great lie she’s telling but unfortunately gullible Rana believes her. Rana goes to see Satellizer in her room and wants them to settle a score at the simulation centre. She tells her to break up with Kazuya. Of course she can’t. Then why doesn’t she do Baptism? She’s not obliged to give her private reason, right? Haha. Because Rana touched her shoulder, she got punched. If that’s the way how she wants to settle it, so be it. Let the cat fight begin. If Satellizer wins, Rana will never bother them again. Vice versa. Rana wins and Satellizer breaks up with Kazuya. Instigator Attia is watching with glee as both powerful women duke it out. Both are evenly matched so Rana activates her Holy Gate Stigmata. This allows her to push her power to the limit so she becomes stronger and faster both in the short and long range. Though Satellizer gets pounded, she uses her Double Accel Turn and 3 attacks from 3 directions to return the favour. It ends with Satellizer stabbing her sword into Rana’s shoulder. But that is where she wants her so she can use her Burning Fang up close and do serious damage to her ribs and internal organs. Satellizer lost? Not yet. She gets up and claims it’s not over. Attia doesn’t like what she sees because these women are more dangerous than expected. Kazuya wanted to visit Satellizer’s room but finds nobody in. He overheard some girls talking about the said woman so Kazuya rushes all the way to the centre to stop them. Kazuya is adamant his partner is Satellizer and Rana’s perception of him being use is just a misunderstanding. Attia interrupts them. Mentioning just a little bit more and everything would’ve gone according to plan, she and her friends want them to do something more interesting.

Episode 7
Rana didn’t like the fact she’s been tricked and used. Attia reminds them about the hierarchy of this academy and with Satellizer causing trouble, this won’t set a good example for juniors and thus her plan to punish her. She gives her a choice of who she wants to fight. Either 4th ranked Arnett McMillan AKA Slashing Trickster or 5th ranked Creo Brand AKA Lightning Hammer. Satellizer will take them both. It might seem like bullying with 2 against 1 and especially an injured but with Rana in the fray, it’ll be fair and square, right? Kazuya tries to stop them but gets knocked out. I guess now there really is a reason to fight, right? Satellizer fights Arnett with her Scythe Machina and got slashed here and there because her attacks come in opposing direction instead of where she believed came from. Yeah, it may even be Triple Accel Turn for all you know. How fast can they get? Arnett finishes off Satellizer with a deep cut. Meanwhile Rana meets her match as Creo beats her up with her Infinity Fang. Attia is willing to take them to the Recovery Centre if they say sorry but Satellizer refuses to acknowledge defeat or kneel down to anyone. Attia got so pissed that she orders Arnett and Creo to tear off their Stigmata. They fear they may be hold responsible for causing them to retire as a Pandora but Attia insists they already have crossed that line. The will of their seniors especially Elizabeth’s have been passed to them so in order to preserve that, she’ll gladly accept the academy’s punishment. Yeah, but why order them and not do it herself then? Satellizer close to death sees a vision of her mom, Noelle Allouache. Flashback time. When Satellizer was just 9 years old, she and her mom went to live at the el Bridget’s family mansion. Noelle is Howard el Bridget’s mistress and by this you can make what Satellizer is, right? Howard’s wife, Olivia didn’t like or acknowledged her but was forced to take her in due to Howard’s will. Plus, Olivia is suffering from an illness. The eldest daughter, Violet is kind enough to them but the youngest son, Louis hates Satellizer. He subjects her to harsh and cruel treatment. Violet tries to speak up to Olivia but she turns a blind eye and continues to hate that woman, thinking they’re only here for the family treasure. One night, Louis enters Satellizer’s room and wants her to become his doll. All she has to do is does everything he says and he will make sure her mom gets to stay here. He starts molesting Satellizer and at this rate, he could be a future rapist. She tried to tell her mom that Louis is doing funny things to her body but she brushes it off and tells her to put up with it. This outrage continues well until Satellizer is grown up. You could say this is where her touching phobia stems from. One night, Violet caught Louis in the act and slapped him. Probably he was moving on to rape. Yeah, the excuse of playing with her isn’t going to cut it. Doesn’t that make it worse? In view of Satellizer’s safety, she couldn’t stay here anymore. Then she got news her mother is dying. Noelle’s last words were to never lose, be stronger, surrender to no one, stand tall and live proudly. Wow. That’s a lot. Then she passed on. Satellizer’s strong unyielding will made her stand up. Then she emits bright lights like those from Holy Gate. She is so bloody fast, faster than her Double Accel Turn that Arnett takes a beating with a move she barely could see. Likewise, Rana gets back up and turns the tables on Creo with her Holy Gate skill of cloning herself to counter Creo’s Tempest Turn. The result of exerting her Holy Gate made her cough up blood. Attia panics upon seeing this nightmare. She is about to do it alone but Arnett and Creo stand back up to finish the fight. They probably would have another go if Chiffon did not stop them. Arnett couldn’t care less and lunges ahead only to be halted by Ticy and a single move by Chiffon. A move so fast that we weren’t able to see what she did. Attia and Creo back down as advised because they don’t want to go messing with the academy’s 1st ranked Chiffon with her Illusion Turn. With a battle ended, another one begins. That is, who shall take Kazuya to the Recovery Centre. Seems Satellizer got it. Chiffon is seen talking to Elizabeth Mably and the latter has no intention of backing down about Satellizer. Chiffon warns that many high ranking third years have been defeated by Satellizer and the results of challenging her may only bring the dignity of third years down even further. Even if Satellizer is a second year, she possesses abilities greater than third years. She feels she should only think of ways to subdue her once she has understood that fact because using plans based on powers will not work. Also as warned by Margaret, peaceful days may not be stay much longer. With all the cat fights, I can see why.

Episode 8
Kazuya wakes up and the first thing he did was to apologize for his uselessness. Satellizer berates him for jumping in without thinking but actually she’s worried he would’ve been hurt bad. Rana didn’t like how Satellizer is making Kazuya feel small. Instead, his bravery is the reason why she likes him even more. She is okay if it is one-sided. For now. Satellizer is starting to reveal her true colours as a tsundere because deep down, she’s in fact happy Kazuya came for her. But the highlight of this episode is the Prom night. Yes, which academy is complete without one of these nights to foster the couples closer to each other? In this case, Pandora and her Limiter. But the main event is the Pandora Queen contest which is somewhat similar to your typical Prom Queen. Last year’s winner was Elizabeth and her stunning beauty is no exception. Speaking of her, she tells Attia and co to leave Satellizer alone. With high ranking third years unable to do the job, what difference would it make? Besides, she is interested in the possibilities of her power. Attia still isn’t giving up but it’s not like she’s going against Elizabeth’s order because to her, there are other ways to punish that b*tch instead of fighting. Satellizer is looking for Kazuya to apologize but she didn’t count on Rana beating her into asking him for the Prom. Arthur and Kaho are smart enough not to get involved in the impending ‘fireworks’. Satellizer insists Kazuya is going to the dance with her and before the ‘fireworks’ really take off, Kazuya announces he did have intentions to ask Satellizer. Rana admits her loss this time and kisses him on the cheek! Hah. It’s not over by a mile. Kazuya comes to pick Satellizer up at her room but her dress was too long so she tripped on top of him. Hmm… Where is his hand grabbing? However they are interrupted by Attia who challenges her to see who can rake in the most votes in the Pandora Queen contest. Satellizer accepts the challenge. Oh Attia, be wary of her gigantic boobs. Hope you have not picked on the wrong area to challenge head on. Chiffon and Ticy are watching with Kim and Elise. The student council girls wonder if Margaret is coming but the instructors mention of recent dimensional disturbances (whether it is Nova invasion is still uncertain) so she is busy having meetings every day with Chevalier and the army. All the candidates for Pandora Queen go up to stage and strut their stuff. Why must they wear such revealing clothes? Even Rana. Yeah, every vote from the guys counts. However Satellizer got cold feet and mentioned she accepted Attia’s challenge at the spur of the moment. Now she’s too embarrassed to go out on stage. Rana gives her rival an uplifting advice that the honour of a Pandora is also the honour of her Limiter. Because of that, they can do anything no matter how unpleasant. The crowd is stunned when Satellizer finally takes stage. Never in their wildest dream the Untouchable Queen would even enter such event. However she is saying and doing nothing. Just standing there embarrassed. But you know how guys and their twisted pervertness. They think it’s the new form of moe!!! Following this event is the dance whereby Pandoras dance with their Limiter partner. I guess Rana without a Limiter ends up with Kaho. Kazuya praises Satellizer for doing her best for him. She’s about to confess into doing the Baptism together when it’s time for the announcement of the top 5 Pandora Queen. Miyabi comes in at 5th but due to her underhanded ways, she got disqualified and is replaced by Ganessa. Then in ascending order, they are Rana, Attia, Elizabeth… Oh wait. Last year’s Pandora Queen took second place? Then who the heck got first? You guessed it. It’s Satellizer winning by a mile! Sore loser Attia isn’t about to give up yet. She tells a couple of those organizer girls that this year’s winner is supposed to wear some outfit. She even made up a story Elizabeth let this year’s victory slip away because she doesn’t want to wear it. Well, the girls believe her and put Satellizer in that skimpy dress. Is that even considered to be clothes? Apparently not. As Attia puts it, a prank item. When it reacts to body temperature, it will gradually turn transparent! Satellizer is paralyzed on stage while Attia has her last b*tch laugh. Satellizer screams for Kazuya’s help. In an instant he uses Freezing to freeze the surrounding area. Isn’t that too much? Then he takes her hand as they make a run out of this place.

Episode 9
Kazuya is being invited to East Genetics as he watches in awe, the academy’s number 1, Cathy Lockharte using her Quadruple Accel Turn (how fast can it get?!) to defeat 2 Novas simultaneously. The reason Kazuya was invited was because as Margaret points out, Cathy is one of the Chosen Pandora who inherited a Heroic Stigmata from Kazuha. However even if Kazuya praises her, Cathy is bent on retiring rather than being promoted to fourth year and joining the Chevalier reserves. She feels somebody more deserving should inherit the Stigmata and that her dream is to be a novelist. Even if it sounds embarrassing to her, Kazuya thinks it’s a wonderful dream and looks forward to her first novel. On the way back, Margaret laments Cathy’s retirement because she could’ve been Kazuha’s equal. Having a Heroic Stigmata, there has never been another capable of producing her level of compatibility throughout the world. Seeing Kazuha had 20 of them, Margaret lets Kazuya know that Satellizer inherited 6 of them. Cathy talks to her instructor Milena Marius. She entered Genetics because her father was a politician and wanted her to attain some distinction. She wouldn’t have enrolled here if he hadn’t made her. But even if she has retired, it’s not like she will stop fighting against Novas. She’ll still continue to protect those she loves. What scares her is that becoming someone that guides other Pandora. She knows she doesn’t possess the true strength of a Pandora and realizes herself as a coward. A fight with Satellizer made her realize that. On that day when Brooks was incapacitated, though he admitted he was forceful, if Cathy wasn’t there, he might have died for real. Cathy fought Satellizer but realized the outcome was apparent. Satellizer had that look in her eyes that never gave up, always standing back up no matter how many times you knock her down. She saw the difference in their reasons to fight, the burdens they carry. In the end, the third years came to suppress her but it made her realize she had no right to lead her fellow Pandoras against Novas. A dimensional disturbance is detected near East Genetics and all fourth and third years are put on standby. What they see next is truly shocking. Four S-Type Novas! Something unprecedented. Prior to this, it has always been 1 Nova at a time. I don’t know why they even bother using a normal military helicopter to fire missiles into it. Didn’t past experience tell you it’s useless? See, they died for nothing. And the Novas aren’t even slowing a bit. Due to shortage of Chevalier, East Genetics are roped in. They did well using tactics of decoys, strikers and finishers for the first Nova to expose its core. However when it is Cathy’s turn to finish the job, it was faster than her Quadruple Accel Turn to stop her from getting close to its core. Then another unprecedented act. The Nova fires a high energy blast! Satellizer is frustrated because she can’t be of any use during this point of crisis. She hears comments of some of the Pandoras feeling glad they aren’t third or fourth years because they are scared in fighting the Novas. Can’t blame them. Kazuya talks to Kaho and Arthur about Ereinbar Set and Baptism with Satellizer. Kazuya realizes why he thought Satellizer looked like his sister. The rest concludes it’s because Satellizer looked like Kazuha due to the Heroic Stigmata she inherited, the reason why Kazuya voluntarily wanted to be her Limiter. Oh, guess who is eavesdropping nearby? Oh, that girl. So broken-hearted. And she thought he was special and was ready to give her heart to him. Is this the right time to be sad? Meanwhile chaos and madness is what is left at the battlefield. The Nova did another unprecedented move by grabbing Cathy with its tentacles. No hentai play, please. More accurately, it is trying to fuse the Stigmata of Cathy and the other Pandoras by neutralizing their Volt Texture. Cathy tries to use her Quadruple Accel Turn but it is futile and got swallowed.

Episode 10
Here’s another surprise. All the Novas suddenly disappeared. End of invasion? Not quite. They reappear close to West Genetics and are surrounding it. Oh sh*t. So attacking East Genetics was just a diversion? Better scramble and on the double! Margaret narrates her observation of past Nova behaviours. When they appear, they seem like they are looking for something and the maximum time remained was 5 hours 37 minutes before self destructing. As West Genetics move out, Satellizer plans on going to fight too even if second years are on standby. She couldn’t care less about Kazuya but what made her stop? Ah, Rana trying to take him away. But still Satellizer isn’t fazed. Rana takes this as she has admitted defeat. Taboo word. Satellizer the eternal I’ll-never-lose woman. They gear up to face off but once again, it is Kazuya who has to come between them and remind them that this is not what being a Pandora is about. Besides, her sister too said never to lose. As the Pandoras take position near the Novas, they see one of them suddenly growing tumour. Actually, they are the East Genetic Pandoras it absorbed. However, they have become possessed zombies under its command. Each of them has a diamond-shaped Stigmata formed on their chest. Something Margaret recognizes and fears as Nova Form. These Pandoras bypass the defence and head straight to the academy grounds. Miyabi laments she has to watch the gates but soon she’ll have to eat her words because the Nova Form Pandoras bust their way in. They ignore Miyabi but when she attacks, she got blasted away for good. So much for defence. Kazuya finds out the reason behind Satellizer’s bad mood. She insists she is not his sister’s replacement. She thought she is special to him just because she inherited Kazuha’s Stigmata. Before Kazuya could dispel the misunderstanding, they get a call from Margaret. Satellizer, Rana, Ganessa and their respective Limiters are to meet her at the Ravensborne Nucleochede. Lesbian Nude Chichi (tits) what? That sums up what this show is about. Just kidding. It’s a chamber deep beneath underground that Margaret wants them to defend at all cost. Inside this chamber is Holy Body. Inside this capsule is Maria Lancelot, the body of the person who become the source for Pandoras to be created. Stigmata have been mass produced using this body and by transplanting it into women, they created Pandoras, the only means to fight Nova. Since the composition of the Stigmata is the same as a Nova’s core, it means very Pandora possesses the latent possibility to turn into Nova Form since to create a Pandora is to implant Nova tissue into humans. Just like how Kazuha did. Holy sh*t! You mean it’s like Bleach in which everyone including shinigamis has that potential to turn into a Hollow?! You mean it’s like in that Madoka series that every magical girl has the potential to become a witch? Because of the fact that the Stigmata can be a double edged sword for humanity, they begun to limit the number of Stigmata injected. But now the Novas are even capable of doing things like this. Speaking of the Nova Form Pandoras, they have already broken into the facility. They are so fast that the shutting walls could barely contain them. Due to the several security layers, they are trapped in an area as command centre releases some gas to disarm them. The walls are even hard enough that their blades but they regenerate. However the joy is short-lived when they blast a beam destroying the walls. Nothing can stop them. So how much do you know about your Novas?

Episode 11
Two of the four Novas have been destroyed. Wow. So long and so much destruction just to take out half the numbers. Margaret reminds the Ravensborne-defending Pandoras about defending it at all cost because if it falls into enemy’s hands, they will have nothing to research on to stop the Novas. The Nova Form Pandoras encounter the first line of defence in the form of Attia, Arnett, Creo and Ingrid. Unfortunately their Limiters got taken out and a couple (Cathy and Milena) got through. But Margaret wants them to stand their ground and keep the rest from advancing as there are other lines of defence. The second line of defence is Elizabeth and Andre her Limiter. Elizabeth’s Stigmata Satellite System demonstrates that one is able to turn those girls back to normal without killing them by destroying the Stigmata. Oh sure. I know the enemy won’t tell you that but hasn’t anybody previously been curious enough to try destroying that piece sticking out like sore thumb on their chest? With this information, the rest pummel the other Nova Form Pandoras and destroy the enemy’s Stigmata. However Cathy unleashes a move that blasts a big hole in the ground and right down to the final defence at the bottom. It boggles me too. Why didn’t they just make a straight path down instead of being toyed around by the wall barriers? They are strong enough to destroy the walls and the floor, right? The first thing Cathy did was to pierce her blades into Rana’s shoulder blade. Still, Rana is strong enough to break free but Cathy’s blade regenerates. Ganessa thought she could help by covering Rana but ended up a liability because she can’t use Accel Turn. Rana had to cover her ass or else she end up as a casualty. Kazuya’s Freezing enables Rana to avoid the same fate. Rana runs out of steam and collapses. Ganessa got so scared she passes out. WTF?! All big talk only, eh? Now it’s Satellizer’s turn to do some serious butt kicking. She insists she doesn’t need Kazuya. Not only because she isn’t his sister’s replacement, she has a score to settle with Cathy. Well, they’re on different ends on sanity the last time they fought. Satellizer takes a beating when she couldn’t match Cathy’s speed. But she wouldn’t lose or give in. This means, she still wants Kazuya to stay out. Getting back up, Satellizer uses a high speed move, No Interval Double Accel (Accel Turn that looks like Tempest Turn. Man, how fast can it get?!) to damage the Stigmata but short of destroying it. This temporarily brings Cathy’s consciousness back but the Stigmata starts suppressing it against her will. Satellizer again uses No Interval Double Accel but finds she can’t keep up with Cathy’s speed. She could’ve lost if Kazuya hadn’t use Freezing on Cathy. He tries to make Cathy remember about their promise and that she’s not supposed to do something like this. Wait. Can mere words wake her up? Oh I forgot. Kazuya isn’t your normal kid. True enough, his words reach Cathy. She tries to fight the control. Kazuya is also Freezing so hard to the point he is bleeding. Satellizer still insists she doesn’t need him. Now he’s got an answer for her. Even if she doesn’t, he still does because she is his partner. She is an important person who inherited Kazuha’s Stigmata. He wants to protect everything that is important. Those words finally made Satellizer realize Kazuya didn’t wish for her to be his replacement sister. Besides, it’s not that she can become that heroine in the first place. Though it’s true he may have chose her because of Kazuha’s Stigmata, but without that, she wouldn’t have met him and would never have gotten a partner. So are you glad you met that kid now? Are you glad you got Kazuha’s Stigmata? She still won’t lose, though. Kazuya is at his limit and got blasted away. Satellizer too could have died if not for Cathy struggling to fight the mind control. She is in pain. Anguish. Torture. Pleading for Satellizer to stop her (do those blood tears convince you?). But why is Satellizer just standing there wondering what is going on? She had ample chance to strike the Stigmata but no… She was just starring in awe till Cathy starts glowing. Meanwhile Attia and co rush back to Elizabeth. She seems to have miscalculated her aim because when she let her guard down, Milena got up and drilled a hole right down to the Holy Body.

Episode 12
It’s not that the chamber is left totally unguarded. Chiffon and Ticy are there to keep Milena company. Cathy unleashes a powerful blast meant for Satellizer. But guess who stood up to protect her? No, not Kazuya. Ganessa! I wonder how her tiny body is able to block that big blast. But seriously, the blast is so devastating that Ganessa’s arm got ripped off!!! Holy sh*t!!! She might still be giving an excuse to protect weaker people as a Pandora’s duty but we know she means it on a deeper scale. Arthur is hysterically that his beloved senpai is dying and instead of talking, why didn’t he start carrying her? Look, she’s dead. Okay, maybe it doesn’t change the fact that she’ll die since they’re so deep underground and by the time they reach the nearest Recovery Centre, she’ll already be dead. Seriously, Ganessa dead? NOOOO!!! Satellizer has never felt so much rage inside her that she is entering what is believed to be Nova Mode or Abnormal Stigmata Assimilation on her own will. So fast, so powerful, so full of rage that she blocked every move Cathy struck. So angry that she tore off both Cathy’s arms!!!!! So pissed off she ripped the Stigmata out of her chest!!!!!! Man, she is one mad woman. Satellizer would probably have listened to Cathy’s plea to kill her (she got her consciousness back) but Kazuya stopped the rampaging Satellizer. He doesn’t want to see friends killing friends. Can mere words and hug stop her this time? Maybe Kazuya needs to try harder. To show that Satellizer is still in control of her destiny, she didn’t kill Cathy and reverts back. Oh, as not to end on a sour note, Ganessa is still alive. Better hurry and get medical attention to her. Cathy wonders why she didn’t kill her so Satellizer replies she doesn’t want to disappoint Kazuya as he has thought her an important lesson of those who bear the Stigmata and the sole purpose of a Pandora. Chiffon and Ticy aren’t the academy’s number 1 and 3 respectively for nothing. They disarm Milena and with the Nova down to only 1, it’s a matter of time they defeat it. But they’re not out of the woods yet. The Nova suddenly disappears. Using Milena’s Stigmata as a coordinate, it reappears right in the chamber! Oh, how does something so big fit into there? Never mind. So it’s time for the Pandoras to go into action but wait. Something strange is happening to Satellizer. Her Stigmata Abnormal Activation Rate has been surpassed and she is turning into a Nova herself! I know she tore out Cathy’s Stigmata, but how the heck did it get absorbed into her chest? Satellizer unleashes a powerful Freezing Area, immobilizing all the Pandoras. They think they have a trick up their sleeve as they activate Pandora Mode. But that is only short-lived because Satellizer’s Freezing is more powerful and cancels Pandora Mode.  The real Satellizer is sitting alone within herself, pleading Kazuya for help. Now she really needs him, eh? Kazuya uses Freezing on her and says he believes in her. Satellizer meets Kazuha who tells her to protect her precious people because she has the Stigmata to do that. She gets to extra power to break free from her Nova Form as the Stigmata itself breaks. Kazuya’s Ereinbar Set engulfs the ladies and they felt his warmth. They use this opportunity to strike the Nova’s core. In the aftermath as everybody is picking up the pieces, Kazuya sees off Cathy and Milena. Cathy thinks of joining Chevalier. What about her novel? She’ll do that too. I guess after all the amazing things that have happened today, doing both at the same time is nothing. Kazuya and his friends visit Ganessa recuperating in hospital (don’t worry, her arm is patched back thanks to her Stigmata as with the same with Cathy). Surprisingly, Satellizer also pays a visit as she thanks her for protecting her then. Something she would never have done. So she’s totally change, eh? I can think of one good reason. And remember Kazuya’s visit to her room? Yeah, they haven’t forgotten about that yet. And yes, it’s Baptism for real. Probably she took too long in choosing which dress she should wear that Kazuya and Rana are already at her doorstep. In her panic, she trips so when the duo see her in an ambiguous position, Rana thought she’s planning on doing something sly to seduce Kazuya. Rana doesn’t want to lose out and strips too. I guess the only aspect of Satellizer that hasn’t changed is her attitude of not wanting to lose. Yeah, she takes off her bra… What else has she got to lose?

Specials
These are 3-minute specials that come with the DVD. There are a total of 6 of them and the only reason you watch this is of course, the nudity and fanservice. Not the plot or anything else. Duh. Like we need more of them since the TV series is filled with it. Ah strangely, you can never get tired of the same fanservice :p. I guess even if they have that tough ‘armour’ on the outside, they’re still sensitive vulnerable ladies on the inside.

Special 1 – During a Carnival, Satellizer’s accidental sneeze causes her Volt Texture to turn her clothes transparent. In short, she’s naked. Rana starts fondling her humungous melons and embarrassed Satellizer does the same to Rana for they misinterpret some idiom. Rana notices Kazuya’s eyes nailed to Satellizer’s bare skin so she too strips herself and gets dirty with Kazuya. Seeing Arthur’s eyes are wandering too, Ganessa also strips and uses a certain part (let’s say it’s that part down there) to attack Rana. The cause of their Volt Texture becoming unstable? Catching a cold. Achoo!

Special 2The third year ladies are bugging Satellizer about her First Room Entry with Kazuya on what she should do. Why the hell is Kazuya in the girls’ bath too? Anyway Elizabeth tells them off because they too didn’t properly do their First Room Entry. Elizabeth reveals all their embarrassing First Room Entry failures (all of which I feel are laughable). She feels they aren’t qualified to teach others so they want her to teach them the true way. When Chiffon learns what they are talking about, she starts laughing so uncontrollably hard. Perhaps Elizabeth’s First Room Entry was the worst? Yeah, she can’t even say…

Special 3 – It’s the physical examinations and Rana has this penchant of measuring one’s bust with accuracy by just feeling and rubbing. Some skill… Ganessa has that evil smirk on her face when she thought her bust size increased based on Rana’s measurement. Of course the one who dreads this day is the flat-chest Attia. Chiffon sees her alone and proceeds to measure her herself. She notes her cute tiny breasts are her charm. An insult? Attia vows to turn them bigger with her Volt Texture (can she?). Meanwhile all the guys are eavesdropping outside. This must be paradise…

Special 4 – I’m not sure what this swim meet is about but in this free-for-all race, the girls start getting dirty by trying to sabotage each other. That means, unstrapping and stealing their swimsuit. I don’t think this is a race anymore. All the girls are naked. And why is Kazuya the only guy in this race? He thought with the girls fighting, he will win this since he has been in the lead since the start. But the winner turns out to be a Nova?! WTF?!

Special 5 – Margaret, Yumi and Elise have detected a critical error that will corrupt the data in the Volt Texture system. They fear something terrible is going to happen. Meanwhile, I’m not sure what the heck is this PE class is about because the girls are to do group exercises while the boys watch with glee (they call it studying relations). The girls put up weird group poses with equally grand if not disturbing names. Finally the error in the Volt Texture gives in and all the girls’ clothes disappear. Wow. It must be paradise again for the boys. See how everyone starts snapping away with their cameras. Why the hell in the first place do they have cameras?! As for the principal and instructors, they too become naked. Look at those gawking eyes of the military men. Guys will always be guys.

Special 6 – In this special training session, not only the Pandoras must try and get out of Kazuya’s Freezing Area without activating Pandora Mode, they must also fight against this sensation that they are feeling with his Ereinbar Set. Hmm… Must be something stimulating, eh? Why is Yumi even joining in? How does everyone escape? The girls gang up and strip Satellizer’s clothes to reveal her sensitive parts! I’m sure Kazuya is knocked out after seeing this ‘amazing scene’, eh? Poor Satellizer is inconsolable. The Untouchable Queen just got violated…

Free For All!
At the rate the TV series was going, I thought it was going to be filled with cat fights, b*tch slaps and slugging out of petty egos. Well, at least for the first 2/3 of the series. Then with the final third having the girls needing to fight off Novas, I just felt this final bit was to remind us what the original plot of this show was about. That’s right. Fighting Novas. Not among each other. Ironically an academy which is set up to train Pandoras to fight against Novas, here we see them obsessed with keeping the order. Is it a wonder why we human race do not stand a chance against the Novas? With b*tches like this, it’s no wonder human race is doomed. Not even Superman can save the day. If they can display that kind of violent grit during Carnival, why can’t they do so when faced against Novas? Yeah, when you see the real thing, it’s going to be real sh*t. I guess everybody is also ‘blind’ in the sense that most of the girls who don’t like Satellizer try to pick on her and think they are damn powerful. Just because she lost her status as number one doesn’t make her any less weak. Besides, don’t they know that she is actually a third year and only held back due to her delinquent status? That’s why I say they are blind. They think she has been beaten and touched, a second year and therefore can be easily thought a good lesson. But thank goodness that they themselves receive the painful end of their own actions. You reap what you sow.

I guess there are lots more potential for this show since in the final episode, there is this professor, Kengo Aoi (I believe he is Kazuya’s dad or uncle) mentioning that it is their right decision to choose Satellizer. As because the Stigmata serving as a double edged sword, they will give birth to stronger Pandoras. I suppose this means if they are to make a sequel, they will have more characters, abilities, terms, shocking secrets, twists, revolutions and yes, the catty fights complete with fanservice. The Novas portrayed here are truly a scary creature. For one thing, there is nothing much you know about them. Because of this fact, it makes them dangerous and ‘scarier’ because you know nothing about them. You don’t know why they are here, what they are looking for, their goals and such. Even as I was watching, I couldn’t help feel a little frightened whenever a Nova appeared. Especially when they start making that creepy voice. It sounds so eerie and hollow. Yikes.

The main characters are nothing to shout about. Satellizer is your typical cold and unfriendly heroine at first. Because of a persistent boy, she finally opens up and finds that being touched isn’t that bad. It’s always that traumatic period when you’re a kid that sets the tone and scars for the rest of your life. As the series progresses, I kinda noticed that everyone doesn’t fear Satellizer like they use to. Hmm… Maybe it’s because of her title as Pandora Queen that softens her outlook. Still, she has a potential to develop into a tsundere especially when cheerful honest-to-goodness Rana comes into the picture, expect some tussling. Though Kazuya has his sights set on Satellizer, you might never know in the future. Maybe they should have more of this love triangle in the future. Seeing the ladies got a taste of Kazuya’s Ereinbar Set, I’ll be guessing some would even start falling for him. Besides, that kid is also a mystery himself. Like how can he defy conventional science by using Freezing by himself without being Baptized. Don’t tell me he is a Nova too! I won’t cast away that possibility… Otherwise, you can say he is a nice kid and with a pinch of rebellion within. He keeps doing the opposite of what his friends tell him. But they are the right things. You can’t ostracize people based on rumour or just because one looks scary. Kaho and Arthur are minor characters that have a knack of popping up eavesdropping ‘important’ conversations so I feel this is not to make them being neglected. I mean, what business and role would Kaho have in the series seeing she isn’t a full Pandora herself and even so without a Limiter. As all other Limiters to the Pandoras are so minor (not to mention some of them look the same), their role is so forgettable so where would Arthur stand if he isn’t put into this kind of role? As for the other ladies who fought Satellizer, they may sound like as though they are just big talk but they do have the fighting skills to give her a good fight. Except Miyabi. Of course eventually they will lose out because you know, Satellizer is a bad loser.

Something still bugs me. If Pandoras are able to move inside Freezing Area without Limiters via Pandora Mode, why the heck do they need Limiters in the first place for? Perhaps it’s still under experimentation stage and they do not know the side effects when used often. Seeing this skill called Accel Turn in which Pandoras can use it to accelerate themselves at high speed to attack, it just dumbfounds me that there are double, triple and then quadruple faster speeds than the usual. I guess in the future I won’t be surprised that there will be faster terms to coin this. And if they are so fast, I’m sure you wouldn’t have seen anything, right? They’ll land the blow faster than they can even finish their sentences. It also boggles me that every Pandora has their own nickname. Though it suits their personality and attacking style, I just thought it sounds grand and doesn’t have any real impact in real battles whatsoever. Are the Novas going to stop in fear when they hear those names? Hearing them just made me go WTF sometimes. Even the term Pandora is a question itself. You know what a Pandora Box is, right? One word: Trouble. Ironic, eh? Considering that Pandoras can become Novas and when not fighting the enemy, they fight among themselves.

The action doesn’t disappoint but the fanservice always get in the way. Get what I mean? If you notice this, during the intense fights, the first part of the clothes to be ripped and torn apart are the breasts. It makes you wonder why they don’t make a stronger defence point at this place. Besides, seeing that all the Pandoras are armed with Volt Texture, couldn’t they just let it not rip? For realism? For fanservice is more like it. So for the most duration of the fight, you will see the ladies fighting out with their bare breasts and for extra added service, you’ll get to see some fighting in their undies. If Volt Texture can regenerate the clothes back to normal, then shouldn’t it automatically restore the torn part? The skirt is also so short that it makes you wonder why the hell do they need to wear it in the first place. Who approved of this kind of uniform anyway? They don’t need to even bend a bit, you just tilt your head a little and wahlah! You get a glimpse of panty shot satisfaction. Like as though the skirts were made this short for this purpose (which I think it is). Also, why is it Satellizer gets to wear a different uniform from the rest? It’s not like this was her previous academy’s uniform either.

The mid-intermission is another section to get your fanservice fix. In addition, you can glimpse the biodata of the focused Pandora of the series such as height, blood type, hobbies, nationality, favourite food and the all important 3-sizes. Guess what is Chiffon’s favourite food? Yeah, maybe she’s just living up to her name, eh? But the most mind boggling data is the one which states the weakness point when they are touched. What the heck is this info for? What usefulness would this provide? For instance, Satellizer’s weakness is to be touched on the boobs and under the arms for Ganessa. Huh? So are they saying you can ‘paralyze’ a Pandora simply by touching this area? I don’t know, it wasn’t really demonstrated in the series except for the single scene in which Kazuya hugged Satellizer for the first time. Rana is the only one without any form of weakness (heck, that girl came from the Himalayans, you expect her to have some form of sensitive spot?) while Ingrid is the total opposite having her weakness just about anywhere. I hope the Novas don’t find this information out because they can turn the entire Pandora squad into some hentai flick if they so wish. Another odd thing about the biodata information is that the final episode is focused on Kazuya! And here I thought which of the girls are left out (some episode features 2 Pandoras instead) and was guessing who would the final girl be. It could even be Satellizer again but no… Why would they put up the biodata of a guy?! Even his 3-sizes?! NOT STIMULATING! NOT FUNNY! And why does he have his hair as his weakness point?! Oh, I don’t know what else to say anymore. Sometimes the other reason than fanservice why you won’t want to watch this is the gore and blood. There are several scenes in which girls are violently slashed, their limbs falling apart and blood smearing everywhere. It is very graphic so if you can’t stomach this kind of scenes, don’t watch this.

For an ecchi series like this, there are quite a number of popular seiyuus. For instance, my favourite Mamiko Noto lends her voice to Satellizer. She also doubles as Kazuha so each time Kazuya thinks how similar his sister is to that ice queen, I can’t help smirk and say, “That’s because they are the same voice actress!”. I guess if not for her, I wouldn’t be really watching this series either. Sheesh… I had this feeling Rie Kugimiya was behind Cathy’s voice. If she doesn’t do her tsundere loli trademark, I wouldn’t spot her at first go. But still, her squeaky voice is still recognizable. Kana Hanazawa as Rana is so much recognizable like as though she is a much livelier version of Kobato. Other casts include Mitsuhiro Ichiki as Kazuya (Yukio in Bleach, Takeyama in Angel Beats), Eri Kitamura as Ganessa (Rin in Kodomo No Jikan), Kana Ueda as Attia (Rin in Fate/Stay Night), Marina Inoue as Chiffon (Laura in Infinite Stratos), Aya Uchida as Ticy (Ascoeur in Kiddy Girl -and), Yuko Kaida as Elizabeth (Ryomou in Ikkitousen), Ami Koshimizu as Ingrid (Horo in Spice And Wolf), Yuu Asakawa as Arnett (Sakaki in Azumanga Daioh), Izumi Kitta as Creo (Cordelia in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Natsuko Kuwatani as Miyabi (Suisei Seki in Rozen Maiden), Rumi Ookubo as Kaho (Chinatsu in YuruYuri), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Arthur (Usui in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama), Akeno Watanabe as Yumi (Rito in To Love-Ru) and Fumie Mizusawa as Elise (Juliet in Romeo x Juliet).

Hmm… Don’t you think Pandoras and their younger Limiters make them as cougars? Older women, younger boys… Sometimes it looks like the academy seems like a big match-making organization. So power up humans to save the world from highly advanced aliens? Sounds like a nice idea but first we have to get pass the prejudice and hatred among ourselves. Or else the aliens would just watch in glee how we kill and take each other out. They don’t even have to lift a finger to destroy us. We do a good job in that. Naturally. I hope there won’t be any kind of story whereby only otakus can save the day from menacing super aliens. At that point I’ll just be Fleeing. Don’t want to stick around to find out what happens next. Or worse, get my arms ripped off!

The fact that I didn’t know this came out left me in great despair!!! ZETSUBOU SHITA!!! (I’m in despair!!!). Just joking. Rather, it left me surprised when there was an all-new episode of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei that came out back in January 2012. The reason for this being the release of the entire series in Blu-Ray disc format, thus buyers are treated to a new single episode. For those who have watched the entire series (like yours truly) from the original TV series to the multiple OVAs, you’re going to find their trademark comedy here the usual like how they have always pulled it off before. For those who haven’t watched it, you can still enjoy the randomness but I guess that means you’ll be missing out on all the fun that this black comedy has had to offer. Maybe that’s why they put all the episodes on BDs now.

Part 1: Despair Has Fallen On The Murder Scene
In a detective genre and setting, Nozomu famous detective and his assistant Matoi arrive at a mansion whereby a murder has freshly been taken placed. Yeah, the victim is that chubby bald guy, MAEDAX. Why is he wearing female’s underwear when he died? Beats me. So conveniently, Nozomu is tasked to find the killer to Kaere’s husband so that she can sue him! He has to (despite he is here just to visit his old friend MAEDAX when this happened) or else Kaere will sue Nozomu! Yeah, he’s already in despair, trying to give excuses she better leave it to the police… But smart alec Fuura comes up with a brilliant idea Nozomu should start saying lines from detective stories like ,“The culprit is among us!”. She even gives ideas on how to catch the culprit, that usually appears early in such scenarios, narrow down the suspects and nab him. Yeah, all this fact seems to startle Nozomu like as though Fuura is a detective pro. Does she like reading detective novels? So Nozomu takes up her word to play detective. Oh wait, he’s already one. With Matoi assisting him with some ideas, Nozomu starts off with identifying the people in the mansion. We have Kaere as the wife, Meru the daughter, Maria and Abiru as the travelling performers and the housemaids, Fuura, Chiri, Harumi, Nami and Ai. Most likely when a murder occurs, it is because of a grudge. Looking through the suspects, seems everyone has a reason to kill MAEDAX. Suddenly Ai pops up and confesses that she is the one who killed him. Woah! So fast? She thought the mackerel’s bad smell killed him and profusely apologizes (going to the extent that her existence is to blame). But wait. Didn’t the victim die because of a stab to the chest? You guessed it can’t be this easy to solve a case. Then looking at the dying message the victim left, it was so long-winded and unrelated, before he could reveal the culprit, he already died. Oh, the despair! Nozomu loses motivation that he isn’t cut out to be a detective!

Matoi suggests to analyze the one with the most to gain from his death. Nozomu suspects Kaere because with her husband’s death, she will inherit his vast fortune without the need to step into the courts. However Kaere isn’t interested in his assets but suing! Yes! If he’s dead, she can’t sue!!! WTF?! Using the process of elimination, he wants to know who has an alibi. Everyone raises their hands. So as everyone starts narrating their alibi, it seems each of their alibi covers each other that it goes round in circles and repeating itself! Yeah, they’re all proving each other’s alibis! Could they be lying to cover each other up? Continuing to listen to their testimonies, Nozomu has some of them draw sketches of the person they thought they saw was suspicious. Let’s say the sketches are unrecognizable. Nami notes there is one maid that hates the master more than anyone. Bringing Nozomu to her, she is Komori and is locked inside her own room. She hates her master for always trying to come and peep at her while changing. She wants to kill that bastard. Nozomu is convinced she is the culprit as she wouldn’t even come out of her room. He tries to force open the door but the chains tightly seal it. Since the suspect can’t even leave a closed room, is this some sort of reverse closed-room murder?! How can she even pull off a murder if she is stuck in her own room?!

Nozomu returns to the rest and laments this case can’t be solve, much to Chiri’s dismay. It’s Fuura’s turn to suggest another ‘brilliant’ idea that sometimes there are cases when the culprit is connected to the police force. She takes a look at 4 points that would make that person the likeliest culprit. 1) Someone who is at the scene at the very start; 2) Someone with no alibi; 3) Someone who knew the victim well enough not to raise any alarm; 4) Eyewitnesses’ sketches resemble none of the people living in this mansion. Well, only one person fits all that criteria: Nozomu!!! Suddenly everybody starts thinking and believes that he may be the one. They start interrogating him. Besides, there were some telltale signs that he MAY be the culprit. Like how he was nervous when Fuura first started blabbing about her brilliant detective. idea. Obvious, wasn’t it? Nozomu admits he came here because he borrowed money from him and only wanted more time to return it. With all the evidence pointing at him, Nozomu vehemently denies but nobody believes he is innocent anymore. Fuura says that people tend to try and forget things they don’t want to admit. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of because humans are weak and no one would blame him for that. She encourages him to admit and release the pain strangling his heart. Set your soul free! Even Nozomu may be starting to think that he is the murderer. As Nozomu is about to admit that he is the killer, suddenly MAEDAX gets up! He’s not dead?! He reveals he spent over a hundred thousand yen on call girls but couldn’t get any closer to them. He hated his own miserable guts and couldn’t take it anymore. So it’s just a case of suicide?! So the victim is the murderer himself? Didn’t expect this, didn’t we? But don’t we just feel ripped off, eh?

Part 2: Christ of Nyan-jing
This is somewhat a semi-musical on the characters singing (in horrible tone and sync) that the world would be a better and peaceful place if everything was just a bit different. So they give us a list of examples that by just even changing words, everything would become more harmonic with the smallest change (read: puns). However Chiri shakes that all up and goes the other way instead. If everything was just a bit different, the world would be more dreadful. Yeah, now a list of examples why the slightest little change would spell trouble. This includes sketches and drawings and this means we have the characters suddenly messed up and out of shaped. You thought your kid’s drawing was bad, huh? The segment ends with a little nonsense with some guy in a cat mascot bludgeoning everyone who whispers he is such a weak character. Yeah, what a way to prove you are otherwise not. Poor kids got dropped onto the rail tracks!!! OMG!!!

Goodbye Seems To Be The Hardest Word…
Well, it was a good laugh and it didn’t disappoint either. It was nice that it brought back memories of the series but not so much to the point that I would want to want to rewatch the entire series again. I don’t want to be left in such a despair! Haha! Even watching the frantic and messy opening theme, Ringo Mogire Beam (the theme that was used in the OVA Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, which is used here as well) brought back memories. Sometimes I thought that this special episode serves more like an additional episode to the Zan OVAs because of the format. We have the opening with a pop-up storybook-like narration (of a nonsensical plot of course) and at the end, another short nonsensical what-the-heck-is-this-story-about skit that feels like a silent movie only difference is that there is somebody narrating while the typical frantic silent movie piano style is played in the background. However the segment missing was the Zetsubou Sensei Drawing Song whereby we have guest seiyuus drawing Nozomu in their interpretation to the tune of the music. I liked this segment in particular because I get to see everyone’s different (and very funny) drawing.

I’m not sure if there are going to be anymore releases or sequels in the future. But if that ever happens, I know I’ll be waiting to get my hands on it. If this is the last curtain for the series, so be it. So for a series that has come a long with ever since, it has been a nice and enjoyable ride (maybe except for Nozomu who still has his pessimistic approach). From the characters to the witty lines and the various art visuals and angles, it wasn’t such a despair after all. Except maybe for the overflowing random notes filling up the screen as well as the long list of examples to support their ‘case’ of the theme. That can be very tedious and annoying. Seeing that with good memories, the bad memories are also brought back, I guess I can rightfully say, ZETSUBOU SHITA!!! But I don’t really mind this kind of despair because I get to laugh and be amused. With that, I’m the culprit, guilty as charged. ZETSUBOU SHITA!!!

Bakuman

May 20, 2012

I knew the life of a mangaka is hard. But I never knew it was this damn freaking tough and hard!!! That was what I conclude after watching Bakuman. From my perspective, this series shows us ordinary people what a prospective mangaka goes through in his quest to become the best mangaka in Japan and also their ultimate dream of having their works serialized. Turning it into anime would be icing on the cake. So if you’re thinking that becoming a mangaka is all about glamour and money, then think again because what drives these people to soldier on despite the low pay, long working hours and tons of other conditions is the passion. The most important ingredient you need to become a mangaka. Whether you’ll be famous or not that’s a different story but seriously, passion is what you need. Of course the ability to draw and to come up with an interesting story also helps.

Moritaka Mashiro is a middle school boy who dreams of a normal life. He is happy to be just that. Nothing extraordinary. No big dreams, no big ambition. Just become a salaryman would suffice. Plain ol’ boring life. However his late uncle under the name of Tarou Kawaguchi was a mangaka. He drew a manga popular enough to be turned into an anime called Super Hero Legend. Even if Mashiro has the great artistic skills of a mangaka, he is rather reluctant to pursue a career in this industry. One reason of his untimely death was due to overwork. I guess that is enough de-motivation for a young lad. All that is about to change when he is persuaded by his fellow classmate, Akito Takagi who is a genius story writer to team up with him to publish their very own manga together. Of course the main motivation for Mashiro to take up this offer is to win the heart of the girl he likes, Miho Azuki who is also an aspiring anime voice actress. So the deal as it turns out to be, if Mashiro and Takagi manage to get their works serialized and turned into an anime, they will have Azuki play the lead heroine role in the anime and yes, Mashiro will have Azuki’s hand in marriage. Looks like it’s going to be a long and tough road ahead.

Episode 1
So the first episode introduces to things and the boring life Moritaka is more than happy to lead. One day he returns to his class to retrieve a book he forgot but meets Takagi instead. He took the liberty to take a peep inside his notebook and is amazed with his drawing skills (albeit he was drawing a side profile of Azuki). To Mashiro’s surprise, Takagi isn’t going to blackmail him about his crush but wants to team up to write a manga. Mashiro remains sceptical because only a few people are successful. The rest ended up in failures and it is no different than gambling. Takagi is ecstatic to learn who Mashiro’s uncle is but still, Mashiro isn’t easily swayed by his offer or reasoning to enter the world of manga. Mashiro remembers his uncle told him his motivation to draw a manga. It was for a girl he loved. Though he rarely talked to her during their school days, he received a letter from her during graduation day to wish them to do their best. They only communicate via exchanging letters but as time passed, she ascended through the ranks of society but he went the other way. He felt the gap was growing day by day but persevered on. However she ended up marrying someone else though he continued to continue his failing work and subsequently 2 years later he passed on. Mashiro has always believed his uncle committed suicide. Mashiro gets a call from Takagi that he is going to Azuki’s home to confess to her and wants him to come along. Odd. Anyway he comes and at the front gates of the girl, they start getting nervous. Eventually Takagi manages to ring the doorbell to bring her out (after some messed up lines). Takagi starts his confession. He is going to be a mangaka. Surprise? Even more surprise to Mashiro is that Azuki is going to be a seiyuu. He gets caught up in the conversation and feels the need to say something. That’s when he says he is going to draw the stories that Takagi writes. Azuki gets excited and is confident they will do well. She promises to lend her voice if their manga becomes an anime. Mashiro is so taken in by her beauty that he blurts out his proposal to marry her if that dream comes true. Probably Azuki didn’t expect that and runs back into her house. Though she agrees with his proposal, but until then they won’t see each other. Because that will be a distraction. But email will be fine. With that, Mashiro gets his motivation to do a manga that surpasses One Piece, Naruto and Bleach. See what love can do?

Episode 2
Takagi waits outside Mashiro’s house to walk together to school. Because Takagi is always calling Mashiro “Saikou” (his kanji name can be read this way which means the best), Mashiro in turn calls him “Shuujin” (his kanji name can be read this way which means prisoner). However Mashiro hasn’t agreed to team up with Takagi yet. In school, they come across Aiko Iwase. She and Takagi are the top 2 of their grades. During the test, Mashiro didn’t feel good and excuses himself to the infirmary. Takagi accompanies him. Seems Mashiro is having problems of the heart. They talk it out at the rooftop as Takagi tries to give him confidence that they both like each other. Mashiro wonders why is he studying so hard seeing he wants to be a mangaka. He calls it insurance because he too can’t be 100% sure that he will succeed. Then Takagi starts praising Azuki and her proper upbringing and I think this is the deal that seals it. Mashiro agrees to team up with him. But Mashiro needs to convince his mom first. As expected she doesn’t want him to enter this industry seeing what happened to his uncle. Though she says no, she will have a word with his dad. Mashiro goes back to his room and reminisces the days he spent with his uncle. Then his mom comes in and gave a surprised answer. Seems dad allows him to do what he wants. “Men have dreams that women can’t understand”. I guess that says it all. Now Mashiro has to tell grandpa himself. Seeing his resolve to be a mangaka, grandpa gives him the keys to his uncle’s workplace. It is left untouched since his demise. Though Mashiro feels it is too early to have a workplace but grandpa notes there is nothing wrong to be prepared early. Besides, the room is packed with lots of stuff needed to become a mangaka. Despite having a test tomorrow morning, grandpa gives him the green light to go there now. Mashiro makes his way there and calls Takagi to meet at the workplace.

Episode 3
Inside the room, they are in awe of the shelves filled with action figures and manga collection. This could be a manga fan’s paradise. There are also raw manuscripts on Super Hero Legend. Mashiro explains the basic of a name (storyboard) and its flow and procedure before it becomes a proper manuscript. Takagi looks at some of them for reference. Both guys set a target that they will get their manga turn into an anime when they reach 18 years old. Doesn’t that sound very rush? Mashiro calls his dad to apologize that he always thought his uncle committed suicide. He now understands how his uncle wasn’t a coward but gave up a lot of things including sleep to focus on his drawing. Daddy reminds him of a manga scene he read to him when he was young and this boosts Mashiro’s confidence further. The duo find a box containing Mashiro’s late uncle’s love letters. From the way things were written, they feel both parties couldn’t properly express their feelings in words. Noticing the date, Super Hero Legend became an anime 2 years later after his love married. Looking into the graduation photo album, the guys are surprised to see that his crush looks like Azuki! In fact, it is her mom, Miyuki!!! Or at least someone who looks like her. Oh, how funny how fate can be! They decide to go to Azuki’s house to confirm certain details. Well, let’s Azuki is like a mirror clone of her. Except for that croissant-like hairstyle… First thing they did was to apologize for reading the letters but she is happy he kept them all these years. Miyuki too liked him but was too embarrassed to put it down in words. When his manga became an anime, she was surprised and felt that one of the characters in the anime was like a message to her. Miyuki asks which one is going out with her daughter so Takagi points to Mashiro. At least in the future. Miyuki teases them by saying she wasn’t into studious type and that girls prefer bad boys type. Takagi tries to debate that his type too is popular with girls. Mashiro confirms that Azuki doesn’t know his uncle is the author of Super Hero Legend and wishes Miyuki doesn’t tell her. Miyuki wishes them luck and will support them all the way to become great mangakas.

Episode 4
Mashiro gets down to work and tries using the G-pen, a pen that is hard to use even as his uncle told him. So much so, he hasn’t had much sleep and has bags around his eyes. Mashiro also duplicates a key to the workplace for Takagi. It is only right since they will be a team. Mashiro needs to get use to the G-pen while also trying out drawing sceneries and special effect lines. He also explains to Takagi about the several drawing tools and aids mangakas use in their art. As Mashiro practises, Takagi tries to read all the manga for inspiration. While the duo are at the convenience store, they read a manga magazine and are surprised to see a semi-finalist winner of the Tezuka Award: Eiji Niizuma. The surprising thing about him is that he is just 15 years old! One year their senior. Later Mashiro talks to Takagi about his high school choice. For the sake of his manga, he is prepared to go to a different school than Azuki. He believes that she won’t get another boyfriend. Then they talk about Niizuma, getting an editor and the ups and downs of getting a manuscript being rejected by the editor. Takagi plans out to do a manuscript and show it to an editor of a manga magazine, Jack in particular. So they need to complete their work during summer and show it to them and see their reaction. As they rush back to the workplace, they see Azuki and her family coming in the opposite direction. Even if both sides spot each other, Mashiro and Azuki pretend not to see each other although it is obvious that the duo are blushing. Takagi teases him that he is surprised that Mashiro could feign indifference considering that they are in the same class. Once they pass each other, Mashiro and Azuki look back at the same time and their eyes met. In the rural outskirts, we see the genius Niizuma a little bit of a crazy boy in drawing his manga. Man, his room is messy and he’s making weird screaming noises. He gets a call from his editor asking if he is willing to come to Tokyo.

Episode 5
After Mashiro has his fill reminiscing how he first fell in love with Azuki, it’s time to get down to work. During that time, Takagi is able to come up with a story called Futatsu No Chikyuu (The Twin Earths). It’s a sci-fi fantasy about ‘real humans’ cloning themselves as experiment on another Earth as research to create a better world after all those wars and natural disasters. While they are discussing their work, Kaya Miyoshi interrupts them. She is Azuki’s friend and needs to discuss something with Takagi. Something about the person Azuki likes. Well at least it wasn’t Takagi. Takagi tells her he needs to talk to her later. After she leaves, Mashiro can tell that Miyoshi likes Takagi. Miyoshi tries to get some details out of Azuki but the latter denies that she has somebody. Miyoshi thought she is stuck up like Iwase seeing she has never seen her talk to a boy before but Azuki never had a brother so in a way she is embarrassed to speak to one. It is the summer vacation so Mashiro is going to spend his days at the workplace. His mom reminds him about the tests so Mashiro shows her the high scores he got enough to shut her up make her at least approve his manga work and come back once in a while. The guys burn the midnight oil to get their manuscript done. Takagi takes a break to the convenience store and buys a manga magazine. Niizuma’s work and achievement awes them once more but this also discourages Mashiro. But he can’t give up easily just yet. Though both had this policy to not interfere with each other’s work, Takagi feels he needs to help out so Mashiro entrusts him by doing the tones. Going at full speed, their manuscript is done and all that is left is to call Jack for a meeting.

Episode 6
As the duo are on their way to Yuueisha, the publisher of Jack, Takagi narrates the reason he decided not to become a salaryman due to his parents. His father works in a bank while mommy always pressured him and his brother to study hard. That’s why Takagi is a top student and obtaining full marks is no sweat. One day he overheard his mom chiding his dad about covering his boss’ responsibility and got fired. He never understood what it means till one day his mom told him that he has to avenge his dad. That’s when he started thinking she was just making him study for her selfish wish. He started hated studying and began rebelling against his mom that he is not her tool because he will decide his own future. They let him be ever since. At Jack, Akira Hattori greets them and takes a look at their work. It must feels like an eternity waiting for his opinion. Hattori gets frank with them. Due to the sci-fi nature of their work, he feels it leans more towards a novel than a manga because there are too much narration. For it to be a manga, the story progression should be through the drawings and characters. Though the drawing is good, Mashiro still needs to make his own style. By observing Takagi, he notes that he writes based on how well the story can become popular and sell. He adds there are 2 kinds of successful mangaka. The first type bets on everything into a series and it becomes a huge popular success. The other type calculates as much as they can to produce a hit. He cautions them that the big hits are often those who don’t calculate. He has high hopes for them and gives them his name card and should contact him if they ever are in need of anything. Hattori is going to send their manuscript around for the monthly award. He sees potential in them. Hattori confides in his colleague, Souichi Aida about the duo and though he is not sure if a two-man team will split up like they always do, he is confident that in 3 years, they will surpass Niizuma. Mashiro’s class seats get a reshuffle. Guess what? Mashiro and Azuki are seated together. They are seating so oddly that it feels like putting the same magnetic poles together.

Episode 7
Mashiro gradually gets used to his seating next to Azuki and gets to find out some of her likes. Hattori learns that the editor-in-chief himself is going to Niizuma’s house because that kid is going to make his serialized debut soon. He’s got all the awards he could possible get and his feat of sending in manuscripts every month while going to high school is an amazing feat. Mashiro overheard a couple arguing that they won’t see each other if they went to different high school. This reminds him about his promise with Azuki. So when he wrote to tell her that they should wait until their dreams come true, he didn’t expect her to cry in the middle of class! He feels bad about it but still gets to know her email address. Miyoshi tries to talk to Azuki but she lies that she cried because her pet cat died. Next day, Mashiro softens his approach but writing the time for them to be together always is when he becomes a mangaka. Mashiro thinks of aiming to win the Tezuka Award before they graduate because he doesn’t want to see Azuki cry anymore. Takagi gets a call from Hattori about the results and it seems they barely missed being a final candidate for the monthly award. This doesn’t damper their spirits but instead motivates them to do better. Hattori is relieved that he was worried about nothing. He was in a dilemma to submit their work because if they made it, they may become unreservedly happy and if not, they might lose their will seeing it is their first submitted work. But thank goodness it didn’t turn out that way. The editor-in-chief, Hisashi Sasaki along with Niizuma’s editor, Yuujirou Hattori arrive at Niizuma’s home. His parents have given approval for him to go to Tokyo. The guys are surprised to see Niizuma working at incredible speed. Niizuma has a condition if he moves to Tokyo. If he becomes the number one author in Jack, he wants to end a manga he hates.

Episode 8
Though Sasaki didn’t really say yes to his condition, he gives him an option that he can ask for it when the time comes. Niizuma agrees. Wasn’t that hard. Takagi writes his stories during class and could even come up with 4 of them! Mashiro reads them but doesn’t find anything interesting so this process continues till one attracted his attention. Ichi Oku Bun No (Out of 100 Million) about humans in the future being assigned ranks by a giant computer built by the government. People of lower rank cannot go against those ranked higher than them and by doing so this is considered a crime. Of course a bunch of vigilantes fighting the system and against the higher ranking people who are happy to maintain status quo. After working hard and pushing the limits, they set another meeting with Hattori. He feels their work is much better this time as they have did all the corrections he pointed out the last time. If they do win the Tezuka Award, the next step will be their debut in the main magazine. Though there will be some time before the announcement, Takagi can’t help but feel nervous and can’t come up with a good story. This manga thingy is affecting Takagi’s studies that he dropped out of first place and into third. But he’s not fazed. Hattori calls Takagi to convey the good news that they made it into the final 8. This guarantees they will have their name printed. Their hopes ballooned (so as their dreams of actually winning the award itself). On the day the results are supposed to be announced, the duo are nervous so they try reading some manga to calm down. Then the most anticipated call from Hattori: They didn’t make it past the final selection. Though the depressing news hit them hard, they can’t stay down forever and need to continue because they have a goal to obtain by 18 years old. In class, an obnoxious mangaka-wannabe, Ishizawa approaches Takagi. Showing the duo’s name mentioned in Jack, he mocks Mashiro’s drawing as horrible (he is the one to say). He feels Mashiro is pulling down Takagi and wants to team up with the latter if he wants to be successful. To add salt to wound, he mentions Niizuma who was also the finalist and won the award. Takagi is furious and punches Ishizawa. He will not let that bastard go if he doesn’t apologize to Mashiro.

Episode 9
Takagi is suspended from school for a week as Mashiro continues to feel down. Azuki and Miyoshi also see the duo’s name in the magazine and understood why Takagi slipped in his grades. Mashiro couldn’t sleep that night and talks to his grandpa about his problem that if he is holding his partner back. He wonders if he is regretting it. Grandpa doubts he is because it is something he chose himself. This lifts him up a little. Mashiro pays Takagi a visit at his seemingly run down little house. Thanks to the suspension, he is able to come up with some good stories. But the shocking thing Mashiro sees upon entering his room is Miyoshi and Iwase sitting quietly behind. Oh great. This doesn’t look good. Well, both girls came because they are ‘worried’. While Mashiro understands Miyoshi’s case but what about Iwase? Takagi tells him something he forgotten. When he and Iwase was in the third semester of the first year, they shook hands to do their best seeing they are the top 2 of their grades. However Iwase took that as a sign they are a couple. Huh? So he has to choose between them now? It’s not exactly that he hates them so… Yeah, he likes them. But both of them? So he asks if they both love him and without hesitation, they say yes. Takagi curses his popularity. Though they want him to choose, Takagi still places manga above love. But Iwase wants him to give up on being a mangaka. She thinks he’ll regret it. Though it may be true but he doesn’t want to regret not pursuing it in the first place. Because now he is happy and is planning to go to the same high school with Mashiro. With that Iwase leaves and warns him he’ll regret that for the rest of his life. So does this mean Miyoshi won? Takagi clears up about his ‘confession’ that he wanted to talk to her wasn’t to confess but to ask her things about Azuki for Mashiro. Disappointed? Next thing Takagi knows, he got a super smack right across his face! Did she mention she took akido, karate and boxing classes? Takagi accepts her hitting him but even after that, she wants him to go out with her. After hitting her heart out, she leaves so as not to interrupt them. Finally some real work can be done. Mashiro is going to practice his drawing more so he won’t have Takagi any regrets. Meanwhile Niizuma arrives in Tokyo and after seeing a crow, he gets new inspiration and starts screaming like one. Really weird kid…

Episode 10
Takagi reminds Miyoshi that he can’t afford to go out with her for a teensy weensy bit because of their manga work. But she’s not giving up. Hattori brings the duo up to Jack’s editorial department to discuss about the comments made from various departments about their previous work. There is something about their characters needing to be Jack-like but at the same time the people are looking for originality. However after singing praises on Niizuma, Mashiro asks if the fastest way to get serialized is to write a story aimed for serialization. Hattori isn’t confident when Sasaki interrupts. He tells them a manga only needs to be interesting to be serialized. This was also the last words Mashiro’s uncle said to him. He goes on to let them know on how Jack works like authors being paid a yearly contract fee but ‘dismissed’ if their manga declines in popularity or cannot produce anymore good works. Sasaki was Mashiro’s uncle’s editor about his declining manga but he feels he can start coming up with something new. The biggest difference between them and Niizuma is their love for manga. Though Niizuma may be a rising star and has the things he needs to be popular, however that won’t be number one. It’s because he is young. He may be popular with kids but won’t be enough for middle schoolers. Hattori recognizes the deep story these 2 have and wants them to bring in their names. Sasaki wants them to make 1 interesting name with Hattori first if they want to take the shortest route to serialization. When Mashiro goes to the workplace, he notes Takagi already in earlier and Miyoshi inside. Don’t worry, they’re not doing anything funny. Mashiro doesn’t want Azuki to know that they’re using this place. It may be a total distraction. So Miyoshi becomes like an office girl making refreshments for the guys hard at work. Mashiro and Takagi submit their names to Hattori but he doesn’t find it interesting. In fact, their characters have become too Jack-like. He thinks for them to go into mainstream is unsuitable. He lets them know that if 2 out of 10 people think choose a manga, it is considered interesting even if half doesn’t think it’s interesting. He wants them to do cult instead of mainstream and aiming for universal popularity. In view of all this, the duo decide to use Kono Yo Wa Kane to Chie (This World Is Money And Intelligence) whereby in the future human can sell and buy their brains and thoughts. Smart people will want to sell it as a high price and to sell it to as many people possible especially to stupider people. But if you’re buying, you want it as cheap as possible from smarter people.

Episode 11
Yuujirou makes his way to Niizuma’s apartment to find him blasting to rock music to the maximum level while drawing his manga! Can he hear anything?! Takagi thinks about Hattori’s words that 2 of 10 would make a manga popular. But in this case there are 21 mangas to choose from and only 3 slots so the chances of getting selected are pretty slim. Their talk deviate a little as Mashiro ponders how much he would pay for Azuki’s thoughts. In class, the other guys are astounded by Mashiro and Takagi’s work. Takagi finally gets to go out with Miyoshi around Christmas. They talk about Mashiro and Azuki who could be more in love than they can imagine. Takagi leaves early so he can focus on his names but was beaten up. Lesson learnt: Don’t ever stand up on a girl on a date. Mashiro, Takagi and Miyoshi manage to enter the same high school together. With that aside, now they can concentrate on their manga. Hattori is impressed with their work and sends it for submission. On Valentine’s Day, Mashiro got pencil chocolates from Azuki seeing she thought it would be fitting since he is going to become a mangaka. Then the dreaded result announcement waiting. It could end up like the last time as a failure. Then the call comes. What it’s going to be? It is going to be run in the NEXT magazine. Though they are happy but Hattori lets them in on another info. The reason they are selected is because Niizuma is also running his work from the cover. So they are being used to make Niizuma look good. Even so, getting their work published here is a golden opportunity and they should use it to win.

Episode 12
Hattori treats the duo to a meal as celebration before heading back to discuss about their battle plan. Seeing they are serious in beating Niizuma, Hattori goes over panel by panel the amendments they need to make. Yes, every panel. Hattori is stumped that they want to get serialized quickly but Mashiro couldn’t say. He even thinks Niizuma is going too fast for his own good. Miyoshi talks to Azuki and the former feels bad that they both are focusing on making their dreams come true that they don’t have time to see each other. Though Miyoshi was made to promise not to tell, she can’t help tell Takagi about Azuki moving away. They go tell Mashiro about it and think they should have a talk before she moves. But Mashiro wants to concentrate on beating Niizuma first. Mashiro and Miyoshi end up arguing followed by the latter leaving. Next day Miyoshi apologizes for saying things she shouldn’t have but Mashiro is cool with it. Later Takagi and Miyoshi plan to make memories for Mashiro and Azuki. After the graduation ceremony, Mashiro and Takagi run into Ishizawa. Takagi won’t forgive him for what he said but apologizes for hitting him. Ishizawa responds by telling them to do their best. Miyoshi is trying to stall for time while walking back with Azuki. When Mashiro arrives on the scene, Miyoshi ‘abandons’ her. But Azuki just walk past Mashiro. Feeling the need to say something, he asks how long will she wait for him. She replies she’ll just wait. That’s good, right?

Episode 13
Takagi and Miyoshi love hearing any developments between Mashiro and Azuki. But if you’re putting your hopes high, don’t count on it. They only said 1 sentence to each other? That’s appalling. Mashiro and Takagi submit their work to Hattori and all that’s left is to put a comment on the final page. Hattori wants them to open a bank account seeing manuscripts submitted will get paid. How much? 9000 Yen per page for newcomers! Mashiro is having a problem in what to write to Azuki. He took too long till it’s morning. When he managed to send one, Azuki gave an instant reply. That was fast! In school, Miyoshi helps Mashiro and Takagi to come up with a pen name. It is decided to be Ashirogi Muto (it is based on the kanji names of Mashiro, Takagi and Azuki). Hattori shows the duo the sample of NEXT magazine and they find Niizuma’s CROW good. Hattori explains the important factor in ranking Jack’s manga: Questionnaires. Place cards within the magazine have readers rank the manga they like from 1 to 20. It is split into 2 reports with the preliminary ones amounting to about 100 early cards that are hand counted while the real deal comes out only much later and is sorted out by the computer. Hearing the early reports may not be accurate because one may start out leading but in the end lose out when the total number of votes are accounted for. Mashiro feels they need to serialize Kane To Chie for them to have any hopes of serialization (something Hattori disapproves for them to do while they’re still in school). So they need to make a name that he will approve. As the duo continue their work, they get a call from Hattori about the early report and it seems they are in the lead. But he warns them not to get too relaxed because Niizuma is just behind them by 2 votes and could overtake them anytime. A few weeks later, the real report comes out. Their final standing is third. Niizuma again got first and beats them by a wide margin. 503-312 votes. Hattori feels they have done a good job but the guys are still in shock over their lost. Because of that, Mashiro thinks of redoing their name. He is obviously depressed and feels the need to enter mainstream. Doing cult is just like running away as he tears away the name. Starting from scratch? Yeah, remember to pick up the litter you just made.

Episode 14
Takagi offering himself to get beaten up by Miyoshi? Even all that safety gear isn’t going to keep him safe. It’s part of his research to understand feelings of people who fight in battle stories, a mainstream genre that they will be doing. Miyoshi explains that a failure doesn’t mean they will be failures for life. Their work was good. She also lets them know about Azuki’s failed auditions but she never gave up. Mashiro thinks deep about his dramatic battle manga. He feels his idea has been done to death and the problem is how the story plays out and how they show the battles. Yuujirou goes to see Niizuma and remind him about his serialization. Later he comes back with a couple of assistants to help him with his work. However he is shocked to see that Niizuma is not doing the YELLOW HIT he is supposed to draw but CROW instead. Mashiro and Takagi go see Hattori about their plans to do mainstream and he is clearly not happy they chose this path. Both sides start arguing their points when the editor gets a distress call from Yuujirou about Niizuma’s work. Sasaki tells them to bring the manuscripts along with Niizuma himself. So when they arrive, Yuujirou hands in the manuscripts. This will be a problem because it was already stated in the previous magazine that YELLOW HIT will be serialized. But Niizuma doesn’t want to do that and is doing CROW instead. Mashiro overheard all that and realized he is getting serialized. He isn’t happy Hattori didn’t tell them this. Suddenly Niizuma pops up at Hattori’s table. He is a fan of Ashirogi Muto and thinks their work on Kane To Chie is interesting. His eccentric behaviour continues to surprise the duo because he considers them his friends! Yuujirou cuts in and asks Niizuma if he has done chapter 2 and 3 of CROW and if he does, they’ll agree to serialize it. Niizuma is confident he has it all in his head and starts drawing in his sketchbook. Though he was given an hour, he completed it in half that time! Amazing! No wonder he is a genius. Hope those 2 learnt a valuable lesson watching him draw right before their eyes. After that Hattori warns them that they can’t win against Niizuma’s battle manga CROW but Mashiro isn’t giving in. Hattori throws the ultimatum at them. They have to come up with a name he approves in 6 months, they will follow his plan or else he will resign as their editor.

Episode 15
Hattori continues to tell them about the downfalls of many trying to do battle manga in the mainstream. Niizuma interrupts again to tell them to just draw without thinking. He goes on about the hassle of drawing names and that he lied to the editors when he said he already had a name in his head. The characters he like just moved by themselves. Mashiro is confident he’ll catch up to him and until them he should continue to get serialized. He thinks this world isn’t as soft as to make him number one that easily. Niizuma has this feeling Mashiro will be his greatest rival because he had this incredible burning passion in his eyes like a manga hero. Elsewhere, Azuki manages to get an audition as a seiyuu for the anime Sei Visual. Miyoshi stays over at Azuki’s place. Azuki hears from Miyoshi how Takagi is doing his best so much so they don’t have time to go out on dates. Likewise, Azuki also thinks Mashiro is a really amazing person to be doing several hundred drawings. This encourages her to do better for her audition. She manages to get a role albeit is a minor one with just a few lines. She emails Mashiro about it so he replies to wait for them even if she got the heroine role. She didn’t like his discouraging tone and threatens to block him if he sends another mail like this. Mashiro vows to work harder so she can have a heroine role waiting for her first.

Episode 16
While Miyoshi is probably thrilled about Azuki making her seiyuu debut (the anime airs at midnight), seems Mashiro isn’t seeing you can’t easily get an anime adaptation and that she couldn’t play the part if she doesn’t get into the position where she can be a heroine. Mashiro has this problem of drawing a cute girl so Takagi suggests using an angel for a protagonist for “Watashi No Angel” (tentative title for his name). It’s about bad angel killing people to earn points (?!) so good angels are sent down to the human world to stop them. So good angel falls in love with human girl and goes on their justice hunt. Takagi receives a call from Hattori about the Gold Future Cup whereby newcomers compete in one-shot mangas. He suggests for them to submit their work for it to gain some achievements before the next issue of NEXT. With the deadline close, they work hard to submit to Hattori. He is impressed that they can go this far with a battle manga. Though he is setting a higher bar for them, he wants them to think of it as a compliment because a mangaka has to surpass his editor. Days later, the duo got the bad news that it isn’t even being entered. They feel depressed and wonder if entering mainstream was a wise decision. They manage to catch the end of Sei Visual in time to hear Azuki’s little line. She even appeared on TV in a cosplay. Using this as motivation, Mashiro feels they can’t lose and get depressed over being rejected. On another day, they are being called by Hattori as he shows them critics and comments of those who judge their work. The bottom-line shows that they have potential. Miyoshi shows the guys Azuki’s profile in a magazine for Sei Visual. She lets them know she almost got in trouble with her school because it doesn’t allow its students to do part time job but due to her good grades, she is let off the hook. With this, Miyoshi declares her dream to be a writer. I hope she’s serious in that. She’s going to write handphone novels and use Mashiro and Azuki as her model for her romance stories. I think she’s serious. Plus, she wants Takagi to help her out in exchange she’ll write girls’ emotions for his manga. Mashiro feels she shouldn’t interfere and they need to come up with something unique or the results will be the same. Takagi tries hard to come up with ideas but he’s having a writer’s block. Aida sees Hattori needing a good artist for a second place winner of Story King. He thought of using Mashiro but Hattori rejects seeing Ashirogi Muto is a two-man team. Yuujirou then suggests Mashiro work as Niizuma’s assistant just for the summer holidays, throwing arguments they view Niizuma as their rival and that older assistants are giving Niizuma the cold shoulder. Hattori agrees if only they consent to it. Hattori calls Takagi (who is in the middle of his date with Miyoshi) to seek his permission. Seeing he is in a slump, Takagi feels guilty of holding Mashiro back so if Mashiro says okay, he won’t stop him. Then Hattori calls Mashiro to let him know. He agrees to do it in hopes he may learn something. As he cycles past the park, he sees Takagi and Miyoshi kissing.

Episode 17
Mashiro arrives at Niizuma’s apartment and is being greeted by the other older assistant, Takurou Nakai. He learns about the peculiar habits while working with Niizuma. Like once he sleeps, he won’t wake up for the next 20 hours. Wow. The other assistant is Shinta Fukuda but he is just using this part time job as a stepping stone for his own debut. Due to Niizuma almost singlehandedly doing everything, Fukuda has lots of free time on his hand and is doing his own work. Fukuda and Nakai are surprise to learn Mashiro is part of the Ashirogi Muto team but Fukuda mocks Nakai further because based on accomplishment and age, he ranks the lowest among them all. So much so being an assistant has become Nakai’s full time job (his last award was like 10 years ago). Niizuma is happy to be working with Mashiro. Mashiro and Fukuda give their opinions on CROW and frankly speaking if he doesn’t come up with anything interesting, it will eventually get cancelled. He needs to put the readers’ interest first when drawing his manga otherwise he is better off drawing doujin. With that, the gang decide to help Niizuma make CROW interesting and get first place. Let’s say they would prefer to take down their rival when they’re at the top. Because Niizuma doesn’t do names and finds it troublesome, Fukuda makes him do one so as to assess whether it is interesting or not. Again, he manages to draw the entire chapter in his sketchbook in record time. Since he also has to be redoing an entire chapter, Fukuda takes the rest of the day off. Mashiro and Nakai won’t have anything to do till tomorrow afternoon. Fukuda at least compliments Nakai’s drawing techniques without using any reference and from any angle. He has to be good after being an assistant for 10 years, right? Mashiro continues to observe Niizuma at work and when he decides to sleep, he notices Nakai crying. Mashiro understands how he feels. Nakai advises him not to be an assistant for a long time, because he too has his dreams of serialization and he is already 33 years old. Next day, the assistants get down to work as Niizuma already has some of the manuscripts done. They notice another change in Niizuma because he is apologizing to Yuujirou. He will now attend meetings and draw names. He repents his ways of everyone telling him a genius but turned into a goblin instead. Though things are looking good for Niizuma and Yuujirou now, Mashiro still hasn’t his goal of coming here: For Takagi’s sake.

Episode 18
Fukuda asks Yuujirou about the appearance of mangas in Jack. He is unhappy that the first ones that appear are popular ones and the lesser ones at the back. He thinks of doing a rotation so that the questionnaire results will subtly change. Plus, he isn’t happy that the editorial department decides which mangas are popular. Yuujirou tells him to concentrate on his own work and get serialized first before thinking of those stuff. As they continue to work on Niizuma’s chapter, Niizuma tells how he got into manga. He came from a rural village whereby it took 30 minutes to get to someone in his grade’s house. The nearest convenience store was far and he had no money and thus spent his time drawing manga. This has Mashiro remembering his own past whereby he also drew manga when he was in elementary due to his uncle’s influence. Thinking that Takagi may have something he wants to draw, Mashiro requests to step down as Niizuma’s assistant. He knows he has caught on to something and allows him to go. Nakai is enough to cover everything Niizuma does. Meanwhile Takagi gets invited to Miyoshi’s home. Nobody else is in. She called him here to check out her story. And to write a continuation. Oh, now this? Couldn’t she just forward the story to him? Well, she really wants them to be together. That explains it all. Mashiro goes back to his room to take out a detective manga he drew when he was young (he thinks his drawing sucks at that time). He thinks this will be their mainstream manga as they’re too fixated on battle manga (in shonen magazines, detective manga is the mainstream). He calls Takagi but hears Miyoshi’s sound in the background. It feels like he is fooling around. Mashiro thinks he is neglecting the name. Takagi assures that he is doing everything he can and reminds him that his love with Azuki isn’t really the normal one because it is natural for one to be with someone they like. Mashiro ponders if his relationship with Azuki is drifting apart. So he is resolved to complete the manga by himself if Takagi hasn’t finish a name by the end of the summer holiday.

Episode 19
Mashiro tells Takagi that he will complete the manga on his own because as a mangaka he should know better to honour his deadlines. Takagi dismisses the idea that because of Miyoshi, he started slacking. At first he thought he wasn’t doing this for a girl but feels he is the same as him now. But Mashiro did tell him that if he ever needs a good copy (because his artwork in his names sucks), he can help draw for him but will charge 100 Yen per page. Miyoshi finds out about their break up and feels guilty. She wants to go talk to Mashiro to clear things but Takagi doesn’t want her to go make excuses to him on his behalf. He will continue to do his best but if she says something unnecessary, he won’t like her anymore. Mashiro sees Hattori alone about his detective story whereby the protagonist sets traps to lure the culprits out. Suspecting something amiss, he excuses himself to call Takagi to confirm about the break up. He is surprised that Takagi himself is also writing a detective manga. Aida tries to persuade to do the artwork for the Story King second place but was stopped by Hattori. Hattori explains that if he does the artwork, he may get serialized if it gets popular. But if he plans on doing so, he better makes sure he doesn’t team up with Takagi again. Since Mashiro isn’t sure, Hattori feels he shouldn’t do artwork for anyone besides Takagi yet. Later Hattori sees Takagi alone. Hattori feels if he listens to what he says, he is sure they’ll get back together writing a hit manga. Revealing that Mashiro is also doing a detective story, he wants Takagi to take his time to polish up his and come up with a good name together. How long will that be? Two years. For a detective story, you need time to build things up, right? However Takagi can’t do it. Hattori thinks Mashiro was also thinking about him because he rejected to do the artwork for Story King. Anyway Takagi will come up with his own detective story. Miyoshi still feels guilty so she tries to make it up between the guys. But nothing changed. Miyoshi couldn’t hold it in and told Azuki what happened between the boys. One day, Takagi gave Mashiro 5 names, something Mashiro couldn’t even complete one. They talk about their meeting with Hattori and eventually made up. They couldn’t stand 2 years deceiving each other so it’s safe to say that they’re back on track as a team. Plus, they decide to fool Hattori by making him think they’re still writing separately. In half a year, they’ll come up with 10 chapters needed for serialization instead of doing 3 names. Miyoshi once again tries to butt in but finds out their problem has been solved. As for Azuki’s case, Mashiro emails her that they are back on track and nothing is to be worried about. She is glad that the guys have matching wavelength with each other than him with her. That’s a joke, right?

Episode 20
Back in the workplace, they discuss the detective manga they’re doing and how to improve on it by setting tricks and traps that can surprise readers. Plus, Takagi has received boxes of DVDs of detective movies from Hattori in his bid to learn something from it. That will take him at least 3 months and he hasn’t got enough time for it. Miyoshi volunteers to watch it and tell Takagi the main points. What about her handphone novel? She gave up. WHAT?! So fast?! Well, she wants to help Mashiro and Azuki to be together (still feeling guilty about the break up). Mashiro thanks her for her help and sends Miyoshi into emotional frenzy. Yeah, she even proposes to Takagi to get married. The guys got cheeky enough because in class a girl approaches Takagi to confirm if he is going out with Miyoshi. Mashiro confirms he even has a fiancée. See that shock reaction? I guess they love seeing that. Miyoshi lets the guys know Sei Visual is going to have a second season due to its popularity. She lets them watch a music video of the seiyuus and they find Azuki really bad at singing. Mashiro and Takagi surprise Hattori when they both show up together with their work, Gitantei Trap. Yeah, they really got him. It only shows that they are really a good team. He still feels it’s not good for them to rush for serialization but since they insist, he wants them to get a good result for the next Golden Future Cup but until then, they also have to write and bring in a 19-page manga every fortnight. For each finished chapter they have to bring a meeting for the next one. They usually don’t go this far but Hattori wants to because he views them different from Niizuma. Even if they don’t get serialized, their efforts won’t be in vain. They accept the challenge because they’ve already come this far and got to do this at any cost. The duo on their way home bump into Fukuda. He too is entering for the Golden Future Cup. They renew their rivalry to duke it out fair and square. Mashiro and Takagi work hard (even during classes) to come up as they’re told. Then on the day of the announcement, they got the good news that they have entered the Golden Future Cup. Yahoo! This increases their chances of running in the main Jack magazine.

Episode 21
Mashiro burns the midnight oil so much so he deprives himself of sleep. So it’s no wonder he doesn’t look too good in class. On the way to meet Hattori, they see Nakai chatting with a pretty lady, Kou Aoki (clearly Nakai has a crush on her because he agrees to what everything she says). As much as they want to avoid seeing him, too late, he invites them to chat with them. Aoki is the runner up for Story King and Nakai will be doing the artwork for her. Oh, their work will also be a candidate for Golden Future Cup. The first thing Aoki tell Ashirogi Muto is that their work wasn’t very good. Wow. Right in their faces. Takagi asks her the kind of story she writes and it leans towards fantasy. There are 4 candidates vying for the Golden Future Cup (in descending order): Fukuda’s Kiyoshi Knight, Ashirogi Mutou’s Gitantei Trap, Aoki-Nakai’s Hideout Door and Kouji Makaino’s Colorfusical. Aoki also mentions she doesn’t like Fukuda’s work and prefers the weird Colorfusical that took second prize in the last Tezuka Award. As Mashiro and Takagi go meet Hattori, has them do meetings for serialization now seeing that they have entered the Golden Future Cup and notes their seriousness. He lets them know about the impartial endorsement percentage that ranks a manga. In short, works that run first will have better advantage seeing that the later works are being compared to them to be decided whether to be endorsed or not. Even so, if they don’t win but get good results, they’ll still have a chance to get serialized. They get fired up not to just to their best but win. Elsewhere, famous rock musician known as KOOGY stuns the crowd with an announcement at the end of his concert. Want to bet what it is? You will already make a good guess once you get to know there is an editor from Yuueisha to see him. Mashiro is wakened up by a call from furious Fukuda to watch the news. Last night’s KOOGY’s announcement has him taking a hiatus from music business to continue his manga work as part of his goal to become a charismatic person with success in different fields. Yup, KOOGY is Kouji Makaino. Fukuda is angry at this last minute announcement because it means that his fans will send in questionnaires and votes to seize first place for the Golden Future Cup. This is not fair to the other candidates. Fukuda suggests for the rest to storm Yuueisha to protest.

Episode 22
The Yuueisha editors know the Golden Future Cup entrants are going to storm the place. So once Fukuda and co enter, Yuujirou cuts between them. Fukuda thinks it’s unfair that mangakas like them put all their heart and soul into their work only to have something unfair like this pop up. But Yuujirou begs to differ because he feels his fans would prefer him to get back into the music scene as soon as possible. Fukuda gets a little rough and threatens for all of them to step down as candidates. However if they do, there will be many others willing to take their place. Mashiro, reflecting back Sasaki’s words will not pull out because all they have to do is win. Even if KOOGY wins and they read it, they’ll be able to tell who really won and lost. It is the content that it will be judged on. Though they take their leave, something still needs to be done. They decide to judge each other’s work at Niizuma’s place. Once they’ve finished reading, they’ll give their earnest opinions. Good or bad. Everything goes. No holding back. Niizuma also joins in. It’s natural to think that the ideas and work of others are good. But not Aoki. She thinks hers is the best. Because of that, she abstains from commenting on others. Because everybody else has faith in their own works, there is no further need for such a meeting. Therefore, they’ll hear the opinion of the most neutral one: Niizuma. Though he has a hard time choosing the most interesting one, he notes it is a tie for first place. He feels bad for the third place so he’s not going to say. On the way back, Mashiro can’t help wonder which works did Niizuma place as joint first even if it’s just his opinion. Also, he worries about KOOGY’s popularity that will rake in the votes. Azuki is preparing for a Sei Visual concert event when she heard her colleagues praising about KOOGY entering the manga world. They think of voting for him because they are his fans. Miyoshi and Azuki’s sister watch her sing on stage and seems like she still needs lots of room for improvement. Later Miyoshi shows a photo of Azuki in her cosplay to the guys and how much she is working hard to get better. Soon Mashiro gets email from Azuki herself. She believes the duo will get first place for the Golden Future Cup despite all the support she heard for KOOGY.

Episode 23
Mashiro is still bothered by Niizuma’s flat out opinion as a genius. But they can’t stop now. Mashiro continues to work hard, pinpointing his drawing that needs improvement to complement Takagi’s stories. Takagi has a condition and that is to touch up on the story too. After looking at Story King’s name, he feels the need to aim higher. Fukuda is redoing his Kiyoshi Night and is going to make it even intense while Nakai improves on the quality of the final artwork. KOOGY is having a press conference about his manga work. He is confident he has everything in his head and just need to put in on paper for everyone to see (seems he hasn’t penned anything down yet. I don’t know what he’s up to). Mashiro is going to spend most of his summer holidays at the workplace. His mom is worried but grandpa gives him the encouragement to carry on and at the same time to not forget those who supported him. Not only Ashirogi Muto works hard but Fukuda, Nakai and Azuki in their respective roles as well. They manage to meet the deadline (they haven’t slept in days) and to Hattori’s surprise, the protagonist has become a bit more shonen manga-ish apart from editing a few places. This isn’t a bad thing. He also notes they have grown a lot. Fukuda’s Kiyoshi Knight makes the first appearance on Jump’s Weekly magazine and the story crazily switches between violence and comedy. Mashiro and Takagi read it and find it has gotten more interesting than the one they read. The early report comes out the next day and seems Kiyoshi Knight is garnering favourable votes. Meanwhile KOOGY still hasn’t penned down anything and is confident of making it.

Few days later, Fukuda gets a call from Yuujirou that he can start working on serialization for Kiyoshi Knight. Nakai calls Aoki to inform her about this but she has no interest in the results of others. The following week, Ashirogi Mutou’s Gitantei Trap appears. Mashiro doesn’t look too happy because he realizes his artwork seems bad. He gets email from Azuki who has read their work and finds it interesting and has submitted a questionnaire. The early report shows Gitantei Trap with favourable votes so Hattori gives them the green light to do its serialization names. Few days later, Gitantei Trap’s result seems on par with Kiyoshi Knight though Hattori didn’t mention who got higher. Hideout Door makes its debut in the third week and they are stunned by the amazing artwork of this fantasy world. Nakai could rake in the votes based on his drawing so Mashiro can’t make light of his speed and technique either. Surprisingly Hideout Door also gets lots of favourable votes. Aida calls Nakai to start his serialization names. This is the moment he has been waiting for. Though a few days later their ranking went down, their approval rating is basically the same and most importantly they can still go ahead and move towards serialization. Nakai is so happy that he is crying tears of joy, thanking Niizuma and Fukuda for everything. Finally KOOGY’s Colorfusical appears in the next week and many find it hard to understand the confusing story. It feels like KOOGY is so infatuated with himself he has trouble communicating with the readers. But with his unpredictable votes from his fans, can he really pull this one off? It would be an insult to mangakas if he does. At least this is what Fukuda thinks. He’ll even quit his series if that happens.

Episode 24
The real results of the candidates of Golden Future Cup candidates as well as other works are out. Guess what? Colorfusical ranked at number 14! A big relief! So how upset is KOOGY? He smashed his guitar! So the mangakas were worried over nothing. In the end, it is the real manga fans that showed him. So the Cup now boils down to 3 competitors. With the real winner announcement quite some time away (because they’re recounting 5000 questionnaires!), Mashiro and Takagi continue to work on their serialization names. The staffs at Yuueisha are having a hard time deciding the winner of Golden Future Cup because the votes and margins are very close. Breaking down based on demographics and endorsement percentage seems to make it more complicating because each work has their own set of demographic fans. Waiting for the announcement is excruciating for the guys and when the call finally came, the winner is… Gitantei Trap and Kiyoshi Knight! Double winners?! First time something like this happen! Joy and relief greet the Golden Future Cup candidates. Fukuda notes the incredible prediction made by Niizuma not who got first but predicting a tie for first place. Mashiro emails Azuki about their success but she wants to know Takagi’s handphone number. Takagi is surprised when Azuki calls him to thank him that because of him, she and Mashiro wouldn’t have seen each other again after their middle school graduation. Because of him, Mashiro wouldn’t have aimlessly led a boring life. In fact, this is what Mashiro told her to say to him because it’ll be weird if guys said it to each other. Miyoshi couldn’t stand Takagi talking so friendly with her so she hijacks the phone to ‘warn’ her Takagi is her boyfriend and that she should at least say congratulations to Mashiro in person. Azuki isn’t ready but the handphone is thrust into Mashiro’s hands. It isn’t because Mashiro took too long daydreaming that he got cut off. Azuki instantly cut the line.

Yuujirou and Hattori attend to their respective mangakas and go over their names for serialization. It seems better than before. Aida also goes through with Nakai and Aoki. Even if Aida notes her work is not bad, Aoki’s pride takes it as there is something particularly not good and wants him to point out areas which he thinks needs improvement. It’s not that she’s a sore loser over the Cup’s lost. Miyuki wonders if Azuki has a boy she likes seeing she has manga magazines on her bookshelves. Embarrassed Azuki refuses to divulge any further information but Miyuki is concern if she is properly meeting the boy she likes. She doesn’t want her to end up like her (a relationship that ends up years later with only corresponding of letters). She cautions the other person may not like her after avoiding each other for so long but Azuki believes in that person even if they don’t meet. Hattori has finished checking Ashirogi Muto’s Gitantei Trap’s chapter 3 and is going to pass to the higher ups for decision. Later Hattori meets Aida and hopes he will follow up on Ashirogi Muto’s serialization (Aida is one of the few staffs in the committee that decide which works to serialize. Hattori and Yuujirou aren’t). Hattori shows the 10 chapters Ashirogi Muto has drawn during the days building up to the Cup’s deadline. This is how serious they are and proves they can handle this much. The night before the serialization meeting, Yuujirou treats Hattori out for a drink. They talk about the 13 names being submitted for the serialization meeting. They are worried because since there are veterans, newcomers’ serialization may be limited to one or at most two. Hattori feels he wants Ashirogi Muto to get serialized regardless of his own credit for it happening. And everyone else is waiting with baited breath and having sleepless night over it.

Episode 25
The 6-man panel judge start their discussion over the 13 submitted names to see who makes the cut for serialization for December’s Jack issue. It’s either a yes or no. If a work is given a no, it will be thrown back to the drawing board for changes or made as a one-shot manga or totally rejected. Due to limited space, if new works do get serialized, old ones go out or are stopped. It’s a dog eat dog world. Among the panel include Sasaki, assistant editor in chief Yahagi, Nakano, Aida, Kouji Yoshida and Yoshihisa Heiki. Going true the works one by one, when it is Hideout Door’s turn, Aida fights for its worth to be serialized and Sasaki gives the yes. Then during the debate for Kiyoshi Knight, the chapters may be following the same pattern but it shows lots of vigour and the characters are good. So that’s a yes too. Then comes the work of Rakko 11-Gou (Otter 11) by Kazuya Hiramaru. He is under Yoshida and is his top recommended newcomer. The amazing thing about this guy is that until this year, he has never read manga before. After seeing a copy of Jack in the luggage rack of the train, he resigned from his job at a corporation and started drawing manga. His first work was very good and showed lots of potential (he got an honourable mention in a monthly award). He went from an amateur to a pro in just a month. In other words, he is a genius. The rest aren’t sure since serializing a newbie would be risky but Sasaki gives a yes seeing the story is interesting. Now it’s Gitantei Trap’s turn. Aida tells the panel about all the hard work Hattori told him. They are amazed of the motivation and effort they put in despite still in school. Though worried if serializing them quickly will get them overconfident, Sasaki gives a yes. However there are 7 names Sasaki has given the yes and it is too much so they need to have another round to cut down that number. Meanwhile the mangakas are anxiously waiting for the answer. Not only the mangakas, the editors as well. The nerve-wrecking moment of waiting feels like eternity. Ashirogi Muto is feeling down and negative because though they may have been confident they won the Golden Future Cup, they are competing with other worthy rivals and their chances are slim. Plus, they feel they will not get picked since Jack people don’t need another bunch of high school kids to compare with Niizuma.

A meeting that is supposed to take 3 hours at most finally finishes after 5 and a half hours! Wow. Hattori calls Takagi and the decision was… Gitantei Trap GOT SERIALIZED!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Rakko 11-Gou is the other work that got serialized but for every success, there are many failures. Yuujirou calls Fukuda that he didn’t make the cut but his work will be considered at the next serialized meeting. Same case for Aoki-Nakai. At least they didn’t get cancelled. Mashiro and Takagi are so happy that they couldn’t contain their happiness. They are a few steps closer to their dream. Now all that’s left is to email Azuki. But Mashiro didn’t get a call from her bur rather from Fukuda. He congratulates their victory and though he has lost to them, he isn’t going to give up yet and will beat them in the next serialization. Passing over to Niizuma, he congratulates them and is delighted they can work hard while competing with each other. Mashiro relays the news to his grandpa and mom. Though mom is worried he is still in school and will be ever more busy, Mashiro is adamant that he will do both. He thanks his late uncle but feels there is more to be done and that he is still a gambler. Rushing over to Azuki’s house, he gets a call from an unknown number. It is Azuki. She got his number from Miyoshi. She congratulates him and both are them are going to work harder than ever to realize their dream. Next day, Mashiro and Takagi make preparations at their workplace to greet Hattori because they need to work out on stuffs like contracts and assistants. However Hattori introduces them to Gorou Miura, a new editor who joined Jack last year. He will take over Hattori and be Ashirogi Muto’s new editor.

Bakuboys…
Well, it isn’t over yet. A second season came and went just like that too. What’s more, even when the second season was halfway through its run, an announcement was made that there is going to be a third season! Woah! This means it is really going to be a long and winding journey being a mangaka. It goes to show that being a mangaka isn’t easy and not a bed of roses. It’s all hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Dreaming is easy but to achieve it is only 1% aspiration and 99% perspiration. I’ll be taking a short break for a while before resuming my ‘schedule’ with this series. Hey, I don’t have any deadlines or obligations to finish watching this series, right?

So what else can I say about the team of Ashirogi Muto. They definitely are a pair for each other and no other combination will do. They share a special bond and from a different point of view, it may turn yaoi anytime. Thankfully it didn’t. Maybe it’s just me. No, I’m not a yaoi fan, mind you. Everybody has a part to play in taking them to where they are now. If not for Takagi, Mashiro could have been continuing to live an uneventful life, void of any excitement. He wouldn’t have opened up himself to new challenges or take up challenges that takes him to new heights. If not for Azuki, that dream of marrying the girl he loves would have just stayed a dream. If not for Miyoshi, well, I guess you need somebody to support you like making meals and watching movies for you. Mashiro’s uncle has left him a treasure trove of material references and his family do not object as well. Without Niizuma, the pair wouldn’t have gone all out and improve themselves tremendously. With a genius like him as a rival, you’ll definitely start cracking your head on how to be better at him at his own game. Niizuma may seem like a genius in the eyes of others but to those especially not in the manga line, would view him as a very weird kid. He’s always cawing like a crow while drawing and he can’t really sit still while doing so. His body needs to move with the flow of the ideas in his head that is bursting to come out through his pen. Hattori has been a good editor for the pair and has taught them much in their growth. But I guess any manga magazine editor would want their pupils to shine and do well. But I will have to wait for the next season to find out why he is leaving them with a new editor. Perhaps a change in pace? They may get complacent with the old one seeing they have come to rely a lot on him in submitting their works to the higher ups. So a new one would bring in different challenges, expectations and pace. Like they say, variety is the spice of life.

The love development between Mashiro and Azuki may seem to be not going anywhere on the surface but even if they don’t show it, their love has been growing stronger ever since the day they first met. Besides, as Takagi once said, their love isn’t normal. Normal couples would want to be close to each other every single minute till they get sick of each other and break up. Oops. But perhaps reverse psychology here works. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. Hope it won’t be a case of history repeats itself like Mashiro’s uncle and Azuki’s mom. Takagi and Miyoshi seem like a joker couple in the sense that Miyoshi is always bugging her boyfriend to go out on a date despite knowing well he is busy meeting name deadlines. And even if Takagi does find a way to express his love for her, some of them sounds perverted. That’s normal, right? And for Nakai, he could perhaps try much harder to impress Aoki. But I won’t put my money on it. It’s just a one-sided love. Aoki may seem like a stuck-up b*tch but if she were to let emotions get in the way of her work, what would that make her? Would anyone take her seriously other than the fact she is Story King’s runner up? Maybe being emotionless is her way of being professional.

Just like Ashirogi Muto, there are still lots of potential for the other characters as well. People like Fukuda and Nakai will still try their best and not giving up on their coveted dream of having their works serialized. Then there are new characters like that Hiramaru guy (from what I can see, he got his inspiration to get into the world of manga after eavesdropping Ashirogi Muto talking in a train). I’m sure he will be a potential rival in the next season. Then there are minor ones that are not to be forgotten as well. Still remember Iwase? Even if Takagi has dismissed her ‘advice’ of not pursuing manga but I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll be hearing for her. Hmm… Perhaps a potential love triangle with Miyoshi in the future? I’ve got the same feeling that Ishizawa too will make a comeback somehow. But I do hope that KOOGY guy won’t make a comeback. I don’t know. I just don’t like him. It’s like he is trying to destroy everything that true mangakas have been working hard throughout their lives. Sure, celebrities these days tend to cross over to other entertainment industries to spread their popularity but I feel drawing manga shouldn’t be one of them. So just stick to being a musician/songwriter/actor/brand ambassador/fashion designer and the likes. One shouldn’t be too greedy.

The story flows at a constant pace so unless you’re really not into manga or at least in this industry, you wouldn’t appreciate what is happening nor understand what is going on. Even though I am not a manga enthusiast, somehow the pacing of the story kept me glued to the screen. Albeit there are many parts that I didn’t understand so I had to rewind and watch them explain again and again and again and again. So we have Ashirogi Muto forming as a formidable team to write and draw mangas to be submitted for awards. Each result serves as a lesson and a next step to take be it getting a good position or flat out rejection. They are not the genius type so it is expected that not every of their works will be readily accepted by everyone. Besides, the demographic is so fragmented sometimes it is hard to find a size that fits all for the public. So niche? Well, I’m sure every mangaka would like his or her works to be read by everybody even if it is not its intended target group. Being a two-man team also means there is pressure and expectation of the other. Though the tension and breakup lasted for a short while, it only serves to strengthen their bond even further. You know what they say about loving your wife by leaving her, right? Yeah, what did I just say about absence making the heart grow fonder? Then we have Mashiro temporarily gaining invaluable experience being Niizuma’s assistant before the pair goes on to write up a potential detective manga for yet another competition and the ultimate prize of serialization.

I’m not sure if this is how the flow of submitting your works to meetings of which works get serialized really takes place in the real world. But I think it’s more or like something like this. Although not much in detail, you can learn a thing or two about the process of being a mangaka and how their works get published. It is easy for readers to criticize and form their own opinions but you have to appreciate and give hats off to everyone in putting the effort for the published works. Artwork may not look good but see if you can do the same too. Story may not be interesting but can you come up with something better? The questionnaires and rankings are another daunting task. That little piece of paper is what will make or break you. A single number that can alter your destiny for the rest of your life. And being in a result-oriented world filled with rankings, you can’t blame mangakas for being anxious. You can spot many popular real mangas in this anime like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach and even To Love-Ru. I guess it is for some realism because it’s not like international brands that will threaten to sue if you display their name without their permission and hence the spoofed names.

The voice acting seems pretty decent considering this is an anime about mangakas. I guess the ‘best’ voice acting role would go to Nobuhiko Okamoto as Niizuma because of the way he screams and shrieks. You wouldn’t have recognized that this was the guy who voiced Usui in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama or Rin in Ao No Exorcist. But that ‘craziness’ is almost similar to his other role as Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index. Other casts include Atsushi Abe as Mashiro (Touma in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Satoshi Hino as Takagi (Yuuji in Shakugan No Shana), Saori Hayami as Azuki (Ikaros in Sora No Otoshimono), Sayuri Yahagi as Miyoshi (Haruna in To Love-Ru), Kentarou Tone as Hattori, Junichi Suwabe as Fukuda (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Tomoyuki Shimura as Nakai (Gaira in Marchen Awakens Romance), Ayako Kawasumi as Aoki (Saber in Fate/Stay Night), Hirofumi Nojima as Yuujirou (Kitamura in Toradora), Kikuko Inoue as Miyuki (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama) and Ayumi Fujimura as Iwase (Misaki in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama). I find the opening theme of the series, Blue Bird by Kobukuro, to be a little, how should I put it, gay. Maybe it’s the guy vocals. The first ending theme is BAKUROCK – Mirai No Rinkakusen by YA-KYIM while the second ending theme is Genjitsu To Iu Na No Kaibutsu To Tatakau Mono-tachi by Yu Takahashi with both pieces having that pop rock feel. Even many of the background music in the series have this rock feel to it using the electric guitar as its main style.

Indeed after watching just the first season, I already felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and pressure put in. I don’t think I can work under such pressure to get it out before the tight deadline and schedule. Now I truly understand why a mangaka’s workplace is so messy and their state is an even messier affair. Deprived of sleep, nutrition and everything much else, the passion of their work drives them to carry on. But where is the fun in that? Unless they enjoy going through all that and it would be icing on the cake to see their works get recognized. But that is just the manga part. Now if you are talking about making it into an anime, that will be an entirely different story with lots of different approach. You are now bringing your work into life. You need animators, you need voice actors, you need music and more importantly you need a much bigger budget. It would be ideal if every mangaka would get their work published and serialized but reality isn’t kind enough to have everyone live out their dream. Otherwise nobody would have put in the effort if achieving dreams is such an easy task. For every winner there are many times fold of losers. That’s why just like any other jobs, you’re just a gambler till you succeed. The odds are always 50-50. However in view of this gambler topic, at the end of the series I am inclined to think that buying a lottery ticket or trying your luck at the slots will have a higher probability of striking the pot of gold than trying to serialize your manga.

How do you get students especially boys to have an interest in the boring and dry subject of history? Why, change all the historical figures into females of course! I thought I had seen it all during my stint with Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls but it seems Sengoku Otome Momoiro Paradox is doing it all over again. Just like in the former series, this series has its characters based on historical characters from Japan’s colourful history. The Sengoku period (Warring States era) in particular whereby Japan would be unified under the Tokugawa Shogunate.

However for this anime, the producers just didn’t came out with the idea from thin air because this series is based on a pachinko game of the same name (most animes are adapted either from manga or video games). I don’t know. I’ve never played pachinko in my life before nor have I been someone who is even curious enough to find out the basic rules of the game but I guess this theme is particular popular in Japan so much so the idea of adapting it into an anime series seems called for. Call it a man’s (perverted) fantasy because to turn the man who reunited all of Japan into a woman seems like an insult. Now why would you do that? It’s like turning George Washington or Abraham Lincoln into the opposite sex, right?

In this show, we have a petite ditzy school girl named Yoshino “Hideyoshi” Hide. To describe her in a word: She’s a trouble magnet. Yeah, she even admitted that herself. Bad luck follows her like her own shadow. Not that she enjoys it but it’s part of life. Things turn for the worse when she is mysteriously teleported back to the feudal era and is roped into help the feudal lord gather pieces of armour to conquer the land. She didn’t just go back in time. Perhaps an alternate parallel world because everyone here are females! Where have all the young men gone? Gone to graveyards everyone? Haha. Don’t even start about being abducted by aliens. And to think that she has experienced the worst in life and things wouldn’t get even worse than this. Thrust back into an era whereby iPod, iPhones and even the most basic of handphones are even unheard of. Bet you even know the history of these gadgets more than your own country’s struggle, trials and tribulations, eh?

Episode 1
Yoshino thought she could sneak in unnoticed for her history class (blame her bad luck on getting to class) but was eventually found out by her history teacher, Masamune Date. Hideyoshi is giving lots of excuses why she can’t sleep earlier or take the early train so history freak Date (see all the ancient items in her room!) warns if she fails the next test, she will have to sit for supplementary classes throughout summer vacation. Oh God! Entire summer on history?! No way! Needing a quick way out of it, Hideyoshi goes to pray at a nearby shrine to pass her tests. Seriously, for a girl who has bad luck almost her entire life trying to get good luck? What are the chances? And she has only 1 Yen to spare. Pathetic. I’m sure the Gods aren’t amused. Hideyoshi spots something going on in the room behind the shrine. This is just the start of her bad luck streak. After slipping on a pachinko ball, tripping, nearly having the bell fall on her, she stumbles into the room while some mysterious character is doing some mysterious prayer procession and whoosh! In a flash she is transported to the mountains. Where could this be? The nearby village is on fire. Hideyoshi is still confused and thought she saw her friend-cum-classmate, Mitsuhide Akechi. Mitsuhide doesn’t recognize her though Hideyoshi thinks everything that has happened so far isn’t funny. Confronted with a band of bandits, out of the fire comes Nobunaga Oda. She swings her Blade of Cruelty to save the day. Hideyoshi is brought back to Nobunaga’s castle and she thinks the castle that is void of lights is to save electricity! Still in denial, eh? Worse, there is no signal for her handphone. Nobunaga has never seen such a device before and her suggestion to fix it is to smash it! Well, that always works if you see it on TV, right? Only thing is there is no TV here! Hideyoshi’s handphone is precious to her (who doesn’t value their handphone these days?) but Mitsuhide doesn’t trust her. However Nobunaga thinks of having her help them out. She looks different and her heart is telling her that she isn’t just an ordinary girl (a girl with bad luck is more like it). Hideyoshi insists she wants to go home and fails to realize that she may have gone to a different era when she couldn’t even recognize if there was such a big castle in her neighbourhood. Still in denial? No train stations, no hamburgers, no nothing. Checking her history textbook to confirm, the only thing that puzzles her is that everyone here is female. I guess she got lost so Nobunaga picks her back to her castle. Looks like she’ll be living here for a while. Mitsuhide not happy with that. But she isn’t going to just be a freeloader. Hideyoshi has to help Nobunaga to gather the Crimson Armour. Legend has it that a general who wore it will certainly conquer the land. However the general incurred the god’s wrath and lost his life while the armour scattered and lost throughout the land. Nobunaga seeks the Crimson Armour for her conquest and to unite Japan as a nation. Hideyoshi gladly accepts her task till she can find a way back home. Later Hideyoshi runs into a dog with a helmet. The odd part is, this dog can talk!

Episode 2
It’s hard adjusting to life without modern amenities, eh? Note, I wouldn’t call this bad luck. Referring to her history textbook again and puzzled that everyone here are girls, she thinks they are historical cosplaying otakus! That’s a nice way of putting it but no, it doesn’t help her situation. Nobunaga gives Hideyoshi a proper dress to wear since she’ll stand out like a sore thumb with her school uniform. Then along with Mitsuhide, they go revisit the burnt village (Hideyoshi’s butt must be hurting from that horse ride – I wanted to make a sex-related joke here but I had to refrain). They see everyone working hard picking up the pieces as Mitsuhide announces Nobunaga’s visit to cheer them for their hard work despite their sorrow. However to Hideyoshi, mere words won’t be just enough. She gets involved with the villagers, attracting them with her handphone music. Nobunaga notices she easily captured the peasants’ hearts and is correct to have chosen her. As a reward, Hideyoshi is given her own room back in the castle albeit small but it’s good enough. Seeing how plain and bare her wooden room is, she decides to do some interior decorating. I’m sure such words are alien to Mitsuhide. The helmet dog runs into her again. He is Shiro and seems he too is not of this world and knows Hideyoshi is also from a different world. Guess what? Shiro is the only guy here but I wouldn’t count him because he’s a dog… Shiro may seem knowledgeable but when Hideyoshi asks about how people are born here (because there are no men), he returns to that children’s story of stork delivery or from the cabbage. Duh. More importantly, he isn’t sure if she can return to her own world. So much for being smart. Smart ass more like it. Next morning, Mitsuhide is appalled Hideyoshi has decorated her room (I find it rather okay) but Nobunaga finds it nice. Plus, Shiro reverts to a normal dog whenever he is with others. Looks like he only ‘talks’ to Hideyoshi. Mitsuhide still isn’t thrilled with Hideyoshi and challenges her to several matches to show her the true spirit of a warrior. Seriously, challenge a girl like Hideyoshi? As expected, Hideyoshi fails badly in all the matches. Whether it is dagger throwing, shooting arrows or cutting the hay with the sword. In a face to face duel with Mitsuhide, Hideyoshi pulls off some kung fu moves she loves discussing with her friends. As flashy and entertaining this last bout may be, eventually Hideyoshi lost. In fact, she lost all her matches. Nobunaga is impressed and wants her to continue learning martial arts under Mitsuhide (Grrr…). She also wants Hideyoshi to call her “My Lord” and be her official retainer like Mitsuhide. Later eye-patched Masamune talks to Mitsuhide about information of a piece of the Crimson Armour. Yoshimoto Imagawa has the left leg piece. Mitsuhide will make arrangements to leave with Nobunaga for negotiations.

Episode 3
Archer Yoshimoto learns from her retainer, Ieyasu Tokugawa that Nobunaga is on her way here to negotiate for her Crimson Armour part. She is so bored that she can’t wait to meet her. Nobunaga and her retainers are on their way to meet Yoshimoto. Because whiny Hideyoshi has been complaining nonstop, they decide to stop at the next sweets stall. However they are surrounded by Yoshimoto and her guards. Hideyoshi thought she saw her other friend too, but Ieyasu doesn’t recognize her. Though Yoshimoto sees no use of the armour, she also has no reason to give it to her. She challenges Nobunaga to break through her army to get it. If she can. The trio rest in a nearby inn. Nobunaga thinks Yoshimoto has no real intentions of fighting and scoffs off Mitsuhide’s idea of raising an army to just get the armour. Hideyoshi has an idea: Recreation. Do they even know what that word means? They’ll find out. Nobunaga sends a sarcastic letter of challenge to Yoshimoto that they should settle this between generals or she’ll be a laughing stock for generations. Clearly Yoshimoto has fallen for it. At Okehazama, the generals will fight in a best of 3 matches. The match will be decided via draw from a box. So this is recreation? Each of them can write what kind of duel they want so Nobunaga further taunts Yoshimoto to write all “Archery” if she feels she is just good at that. Yup, she has fallen for it again. The first match is a wrestling match between Mitsuhide and Ieyasu. Mitsuhide has the upper-hand but some magical force causes her leg to trip, thus giving Ieyasu the winning point. Then Nobunaga wins the beach volleyball match (I’m surprised they know how to play it) and it seems this isn’t just a best of 3 match because they played every other match in the box. The last one will settle it since both sides are levelled. It’ll be kite fighting. Ieyasu and Hideyoshi will be tied to the kite. Why Hideyoshi? Because she’s the lightest. Hah! She’ll never diet again. In addition to Nobunaga and Yoshimoto battling it out, Ieyasu and Hideyoshi will also have to duke it out. Plus, a large firework is strapped to each of the kite’s back and after a certain time, the fuse will be lit. Is this really kite fighting? Ieyasu thought she had cut her own fuse so she is safe from the blast but it seems Yoshimoto has taken the liberty to replace it! So Ieyasu’s kite blast off first. She is falling down like a rock. Hideyoshi wants to save her so Nobunaga is impressed with her pity for the enemy and swoops the kite down to grab her. However at this point, Hideyoshi’s fuse lights up and they are both sent blasting into the sky. I can’t believe the water was their safe landing after falling from that height. In the end, Yoshimoto gives Nobunaga her armour piece. She isn’t interested in conquering the land but would prefer watching how Nobunaga will do so. However Ieyasu takes a personal interest in the armour even if her master doesn’t. As reward for her ‘bravery’, Nobunaga gives Hideyoshi a sack of mochi sweets. Was it worth it? Later Hideyoshi refers to her textbook to find that Yoshimoto was killed at Okehazama and this is where Nobunaga’s conquest began. But more importantly, Hideyoshi knew Shiro was peeping at the ladies taking a bath and whacks him. It didn’t help when he mentioned he wasn’t interested with those without breasts.

Episode 4
Nobunaga and her retainers are watching the eternal battle between Kenshin Uesugi of Echigo and Shingen Takeda of Kai. Seriously, after 598 straight draws, where the heck did they get so much energy still? A rumour has it that the fight started over something trivial but Hideyoshi thinks they get along well because they seem to be enjoying the fight. Nobunaga finds her answer interesting. Hideyoshi thinks of snapping a picture of their fight but she got a little too close and the impact wrecks her handphone. However Nobunaga isn’t here for just sightseeing. These 2 have part of the Crimson Armour she needs and negotiating and exchange for gold did not turn out favourable. Why would they sell their family treasure for money? Mitsuhide has an idea. Side with one of them to defeat the other. As reward, they’ll get the armour from the loser and as reward from the winner. Nobunaga reprimands Mitsuhide for using such a cowardly tactic. That night, Mitsuhide bumps into Ieyasu in the forest. Ieyasu knows her wish to make Nobunaga happy and advises her to do something that will accomplish that. Because Hideyoshi is still complaining about her broken handphone, she excuses herself when Nobunaga makes light of it. She then stumbles Mitsuhide scheming to launch a secret night strike with several guards in a shed. Being the dumb blonde, she got tied up in the woodshed. Nobunaga went looking for Hideyoshi and spots her handphone on the ground before finding the tied up girl and learned everything. I don’t know if Mitsuhide was a slow ass or Nobunaga was just super fast because the latter managed to get ahead of Mitsuhide and stopped her dead in her tracks. She is not happy that she disobeyed her order of no interference. As punishment, she got spectacles drawn over her face. Next day, Nobunaga cuts into Kenshin and Shingen’s match to battle her for the armour. She mocks their weak fights because there is no apparent winner and that they seem to be enjoying it. A war means taking lives. Nobunaga fights Shingen first and her deadly aura is proof she is serious in wanting the armour to conquer the land. Shingen questions her desire for it but she questions them back why they don’t seek it. Nobunaga wins her match. Shingen agrees to give her the armour with a condition that she takes her head. She doesn’t want to live with shame. She is ready to do so but Kenshin cuts in between. She wants Nobunaga to spare Shingen’s life and take hers instead. Nobunaga backs out with an excuse that their heads aren’t worth displaying. In the end, she got both their armours. Her retainers thought it was a brilliant plan to let Kenshin plead for Shingen’s life but Nobunaga really did intend to take Shingen’s head. Kenshin and Shingen continue their fight while noting Nobunaga’s strength as the real deal. Since Nobunaga ‘won’ that match, they can’t let her take the lead in their battle.

Episode 5
Yoshimoto is so bored but she won’t conquer the land as suggested by Ieyasu. Instead, she will go hawk hunting with Nobunaga. Well, seems Shingen and Kenshin invited themselves not because they want to regain the armour but they heard there will be a banquet. The hawk is skilled enough to get a pheasant. Nobunaga asks Hideyoshi what meat she wanted and her reply was a bunny to keep. The hawk enters the thick dark forest and never came out. So the ladies went in to look for it. They stumble upon an area believed to be the burial grounds for those beheaded during the war. They are surprised to see Masamune telling ghost stories to real zombies! She’s not doing it for fun, you know. In order to leave, they must tell 100 stories that satisfy the dead. Ghost stories. She seeks their help but they don’t believe her and try to walk away to find the hawk but each time find themselves returning to the same spot. No choice, they have to join in the ghost story. Something Mitsuhide is very weak at. The ladies take turn telling their ghost stories and at the end of each story, a candle will be burnt out. All must be out to complete the ritual. Mitsuhide becomes the annoying scaredy cat, screaming and whining even before the story turns scary. So much so she had to be tied up several times to be shut up. I don’t know why they even let her try. She got spooked out by her own story. But at the rate they are going, it’s going to take an awful long time and they have run out of stories. Nobunaga intends to tell the scariest story that will blow away all the candles. Hideyoshi thinks she has a scary one so Nobunaga forces her to whisper it to her. Seems the zombies are quivering in fear whenever Nobunaga speaks or struggles (Hideyoshi trying to calm her master down). In the end, all the candles are out and the zombies see Nobunaga as one who is worthy of ruling the land. The ladies not only found their way out, they also found the hawk and the rabbit Hideyoshi wanted. Ieyasu is talking to a ninja named Hanzou about Nobunaga’s conquest and that she will snatch the armour from her once she gathers it all. Hideyoshi spots them but didn’t think of anything much. The ladies have a good feast except for Hideyoshi because she wanted to rabbit alive as a pet not as fried meat! Yeah, Nobunaga forces her to eat it! Do rabbits taste like chicken?

Episode 6
On a rainy day, Mitsuhide remembers how she first met Nobunaga. Then, she was serving under Lord Kubou. She heard a commotion that Nobunaga challenged several ladies to wrestling to relieve her boredom. None of them impressed her so Mitsuhide was forced to take part. Though Mitsuhide lost, she wasn’t that bad and Nobunaga took an interest in her. Next day, Nobunaga forced Mitsuhide to go out and enjoy with her because the latter is always cooked up in her room writing. They had fun by the river and farming with the villagers before returning. Nobunaga tastes Mitsuhide’s great tea making and wishes her to be her retainer for she wants to conquer the land and needs her wisdom and talent. She was happy she said those words solely directed at her and the rest was history. Meanwhile Nobunaga decides to show Hideyoshi a secret place. Entering a secret passage that goes through the behinds of the castle walls laden with traps (one wrong move and you’re dead!). Hideyoshi wonders why she carries a pipe she never smokes. It’s a good luck charm given by her grandma. She recounts her mom reprimanded her for being a tomboy (she beat up girls who refused to listen to her). Grandma took her to see the water that runs through the village. With mastery of water, fields grow. But force them to obey and they will rebel. The hearts of women are like water. You must not use force. She gives her a pipe and whenever she feels angry or wanting to get violent, grip it tightly and wait for it to pass. Continuing the journey, Hideyoshi accidentally sets off a series of traps. It’s amazing they manage to evade it all by the skin of their teeth. Not bad considering a girl with bad luck. Or is it she’s with mighty Nobunaga? Eventually they got swept away by the underwater currents. Mitsuhide is practising in the rain and is joined by Masamune. She asks why Masamune doesn’t take the armour herself seeing she has information of the armour’s location. She’s not up to the task herself and doesn’t have talent for war nor is she a warrior. Masamune notes that Nobunaga has recently taken an interest in Hideyoshi but sees Mitsuhide more than sufficient. She must be expecting greater things from her. Mitsuhide pledges to see Nobunaga’s wish fulfilled even if it costs her her life. Suddenly Nobunaga and Hideyoshi wash up through a pond in front of them. Once Nobunaga and her retainers leave for her castle, Masamune takes off her eye-patch. Seems she is Date sensei from the future. Flashback reveals she was passing the shrine and a bright light caught her attention. Some guy possibly from the future (because of the futuristic-like clothes) disappeared in her arms but not before a gadget is dropped. Date used that gadget to do some ritual when Hideyoshi distracted her and sent them back to this era.

Episode 7
It’s that time of year again whereby Nobunaga will hold a festival for her people. Mitsuhide has once again prepared for dancing miko priestesses but Hideyoshi came out with an idea of putting on a play like a cultural festival. So the stage is under construction while Shiro offers her ideas for the script. In short, they all seem perverted and Shiro as the lustful hero. Not going to work. Hideyoshi thinks of asking the rest but seeing how ‘busy’ they are with their own work (more like being scary), the eager beaver who will help her out is Yoshimoto. She has lots of tales in her collection and even some that are steamy and yuri. I guess Hideyoshi has to agree with this but will have some parts changed. Hanzou reports to Ieyasu about the play. Everyone else practice their lines including a scene whereby Nobunaga receives the love of everyone. Yes, everyone! I don’t know, it felt like a big orgy scene. So much so it stimulated Shiro so much that he flew so far away into the big lake. Hideyoshi on her way back suddenly meets Shingen who offers her great food in exchange for a good part in the play. Subsequently Kenshin also does the same but with nice praises instead. Yoshimoto goes overboard with all the fancy clothes that will make her stand out in the play (why are there modern dresses like Bunny Playboy?!) while Mitsuhide is enjoying the moment she’ll get to be close to her lord. Ieyasu meets Hideyoshi to spice things up. She thinks of making Nobunaga go crazy by slicing everyone so that she can save the day and kill her. During the play, Mitsuhide gets stage fright, some ad-lib parts, Kenshin and Shingen thinking they’re outshining the other and Yoshimoto’s flashy entrance. No matter what, the crowd is just screaming all the way. Do they really understand what’s going on? Beats me either. As they get prepared for the final love scene, Hanzou thinks of helping her master out and sets fire to the stage. That dumb ninja didn’t expect the fire to get so big and out of hand, eh? Everyone manages to evacuate except for Hideyoshi who is still inside. But Nobunaga busts out with her like a true hero. That wasn’t part of the play. Even if the stage is burnt down, everyone loves it and is considered a success. Ieyasu punishes Hanzou for her folly. Masamune tells Nobunaga the remaining 3 pieces of the Crimson Armour. They are all in Saigoku.

Episode 8
I don’t know how far Saigoku is but Nobunaga and her retainers must be walking an awful long time. At least to Hideyoshi. Can’t they ride horses? What? Up the mountain and through the forests? Stopping by a nearby town, the villagers run and hide upon hearing Nobunaga’s name. They get wind that there are rumours spread by a person named Mitsuhide that Nobunaga takes their babies and devours them. Eh? Mitsuhide? She remembers when she sent her guards to spread Nobunaga’s mighty strength throughout the land and when she arrives, she will pat the heads of babies and children. Somehow along the way, it got twisted. Yeah, communication by mouth wasn’t such a clean, clear and efficient mode of communication back then. At least it is a good sign to know what to expect in the next town. However they got lost. Hideyoshi must be tired climbing mountains after mountains, eh? Two more mountains and they think they’ll reach a village. They think. Start moving Hideyoshi! Close by and unknown to them, Masamune is tailing them and everything is going as planned. They stop by an inn run by a priestess. Her principle means she cannot shoo them away just because Nobunaga is rumoured to be a terrible person. Hideyoshi is having so much fun frolicking and swimming in the hotspring that she got ill. Play some more lah. It doesn’t help that the medicine she took is believed to be made out of dried and then boiled horse manure and worms. How can you even feel better knowing that?! Hideyoshi’s fever gets worse that night. She thinks she won’t make it but Nobunaga believes in her energy. She will stay by her side and have Mitsuhide rest because she can’t afford to let her get sick as well. The priestess comes in to give Nobunaga a medicine pill. Something she has never seen before and most likely an expensive pill from overseas. The pill is said to be from a traveller (Masamune – man, she has a bag filled with modern medicine). The priestess is glad to know that Nobunaga isn’t as horrible as painted by the rumours. Nobunaga feeds the pill to Hideyoshi. She sees her crying in her sleep, not wanting her lord to leave her. Because she is too weak, Nobunaga uses her mouth to give her water. From this point of view, Mitsuhide sees them as kissing and is shocked. Next morning, Hideyoshi is feeling all better. She tells her about the strange dream she had whereby Nobunaga kissed her. But she dismisses doing anything like that. Maybe it’s because Hideyoshi didn’t explain properly what a kiss is. Lips and lips together… But clearly, Mitsuhide is the one who is not happy with it all. The trio continue their journey till they reach the seaside of Saigoku. Nobunaga notes Mitsuhide’s red eyes but she brushes it off as the journey getting to her. In her heart, she notes that her feelings aren’t reaching her lord. From afar, not only Hanzou is spying on them but the owners of the final 3 pieces of the Crimson Armour as well. They plan to give Nobunaga a proper greeting.

Episode 9
While they are taking a break, the Crimson Armour holders make their flashy long-winded introduction. The axe wielding Motochika Chousokabe, Sourin Ootomo (I thought she looked like Chrno Crusade’s Rosette) with her big Don Frankie cannon and Motonari Mouri with mean looking claws. Nobunaga just blasts them away with her Blade of Cruelty. Haha! They are tied up and forced to tell the whereabouts of the armour. Via tickling, that is. Nobunaga orders Mitsuhide to collect the armour stashed in the wooden chest inside the nearby hut. Because Mitsuhide’s heart is clouded, she couldn’t tell the box is a trap and the swords that sprung up nearly killed Nobunaga if not for her quick reflexes. Nobunaga is going to make the trio pay but they manage to free themselves and kidnap Hideyoshi. If they want her, they must come to the top of the mountain. Nobunaga’s expression is clearly not good. While journeying up to the mountain, Mitsuhide apologizes for her carelessness but she wants her to make up for it via her actions. The duo jump away from incoming missiles but it is clearly a trap to separate them. They will continue their journey separately. Mitsuhide continues to ponder if Nobunaga has abandoned her when she comes into Motochika and Sourin with Hideyoshi tied to the tree while Nobunaga and Motonari prepare to clash in a misty forest. But it’s not just a mist. In fact, the wind is carrying anaesthetic that is paralyzing Nobunaga. Before Motonari could kill her, Nobunaga stands up and blocks her blow. She tells her off that they are not as weak as they think. The final swing of her Blade of Cruelty ends the match. On the other side, Mitsuhide is having an explosive hide-and-seek battle. Reflecting on her selfishness to be close to Nobunaga, she finds the strength to fight back. Making adjustments to some of the traps, Mitsuhide manages to corner them, uses Don Frankie against them and free Hideyoshi. They meet up with Nobunaga and Mitsuhide is happy enough to think Nobunaga will be pleased with her achievements. However when Hideyoshi starts running into Nobunaga’s arms, it’s that jealous feeling again. She doesn’t even feel honoured when Nobunaga praises her. Is it too late for her? If you know your history, you would know what happened between Nobunaga and Mitsuhide, right? Elsewhere, Ieyasu and Masamune are prepared to make their move to steal the armour.

Episode 10
The trio stop at Honnouji to rest. Hmm… Does it sound familiar? Hideyoshi consults her textbook to find this is the place where Nobunaga’s loyal retainer Mitsuhide killed his own lord and this became known as the Honnouji Incident. Is history going to repeat itself? Mitsuhide is attending to Nobunaga’s bath fire and she is thinking doing a double suicide. Masamune overheard her little murmur and she talks to her about Nobunaga obsessing over the useless Hideyoshi than her. She gives Mitsuhide a deep sleeping potion. How she uses it is up to her. For the umpteenth time, Hideyoshi gets tied up to a tree again as Mitsuhide plots to serve the sake laced with the potion with Nobunaga’s meal. Once Nobunaga passes out, Mitsuhide burns the place down. I’m not sure how Hideyoshi got loose and broke free but I bet it wasn’t her growling stomach. She confronts Mitsuhide over her actions and the latter is clearly upset that since she appeared, her happiness alone with Nobunaga dissipated. Even so, Hideyoshi asks her back would it be okay if she never sees her smile again. Can she love her as the sole person she cares for? Hideyoshi rushes in to save Nobunaga. Mitsuhide unwittingly follows her in and reflects her action. She is surprised to hear Nobunaga calling her, wanting to know where the enemy is. The enemy is her heart. Apologizing for being a traitor, she will atone her sin with her life. But Nobunaga dares her not to say something so stupid. Making her read the words on her blade which reads “Conquest”, that dream will never have started if not for her. They are one and that fact will never change. There, happy enough you heard that? Though Nobunaga manages to drag Mitsuhide out, she has inhaled too much smoke and is unconscious. Finding medicine or washing her throat will take too long so the fastest way to make her breath is to… Yup, mouth to mouth resuscitation. Kiss, for short. Probably Mitsuhide wanted this kissing moment to go on forever. See that silly grin on her face? She’s alright. But are they missing someone? Hideyoshi sees Masamune stealing the Crimson Armour. A pillar nearly falls over her but was pushed out of the way. Before she passes out, she thought she saw Date sensei because of the way she addressed her. Next thing she knows, she is safe outside. Mitsuhide seeks her forgiveness over her actions but boasts that she got it 12 times as opposed to her one time (the kiss lah). Noticing Nobunaga looking for her Crimson Armour beneath the rubble, Hideyoshi realizes that Masamune and Date is the same person. Masamune is galloping away, happy that her clan’s long cherished desire will be fulfilled. However she is stopped by Ieyasu and Hanzou who want her to hand over the armour. She is going to conquer the land and will start off by killing her.

Episode 11
Nobunaga and her retainers realize Masamune’s betrayal and rushes back. They see her castle under attack and believe it is her but in actual fact it is Ieyasu and her army. Hideyoshi fell off Mitsuhide’s horse down the ravine and to her surprise finds Masamune close to dead. She reveals Ieyasu stole the armour and killed her with her magic. However Ieyasu did a big mistake on not making sure Masamune stayed dead from her blast. Masamune reveals her reason to steal the armour: So that the Date clan will conquer the land. Nobunaga and Mitsuhide have no time to chat so they continue their rush back to the castle. Hideyoshi confirms with Masamune that she is indeed her teacher. She explains the event of using the futuristic gadget. She really wanted to go back to the Warring States era to find the armour but ended up in this world instead and got Hideyoshi caught in it all. I don’t know how Hideyoshi found a horse but she did. As they gallop their way back to the castle, Date continues her revelation that she is a descendent of the Date clan. Her ancestors dreamt of conquest but never got it. For generations, they tried to make this a reality and forge Japan on how it truly should be. The legend of the Crimson Armour was unheard of in Hideyoshi’s time. Date came to know about it when a clan member from the future appeared before her. That person failed in her mission and passed to her a scroll about the armour before disappearing. She didn’t believe everything but when she saw the data in the gadget that only Date clan members would know, she had to check it out to confirm. If it didn’t exist, she would forget everything that has happened. Returning to her home town and following her dim recollection of the data, she found a scroll and a crystal that was exactly like the one fitted in the gadget. That’s when Date felt that this was more than just coincidence that person appeared before her. It’s like fate. So if Date clan gets their hands on the armour, they will rule Japan. Erm, isn’t that changing history? Well, she wants to fix this perverted history because if a proper doesn’t rule Japan, a proper history is impossible. Hey, what makes her think her clan is proper? She thinks Nobunaga or Ieyasu’s conquering will not change the world and for it to be led back to its correct path, a Date clan member must rule. Again, what makes her think her clan is so righteous? All Hideyoshi can think of the armour is making her crazy. Even so, Date feels the armour has its worth.

Ieyasu is trekking through the castle walls laden with traps. She uses unlucky Hanzou to activate all the traps so she can pass through safely. I guess in a way Hanzou must be darn lucky not to have died, eh? Nobunaga and Mitsuhide have reached the main gate of the castle but her troops can’t break in due to Ieyasu’s spell barrier. Ieyasu finally reaches the room with the armour. Knowing the traps, she sends Hanzou in. I thought this was a joke because each time Hanzou goes in and falls through the fake floor, Ieyasu orders her to go in again. I was thinking, man, this Hanzou is quick to get out from the bottomless pit. Since unveiling fake floors is taking an awful long time, Ieyasu orders all Hanzous to go in at once!!! OMG! There are lots of Hanzou clones! And all of them fell through! Big joke. But it revealed the true path to the armour. Careful, watch your step. Ieyasu activates the armour and Date’s futuristic gadget starts responding. Date cannot believe that the armour is being activated since the crystal is the only thing that could activate it, the reason she never told anyone else. But looks like it worked against her. Date says that if Ieyasu wears the armour without the crystal, she will go out of control. Shiro has been watching Ieyasu all the while because he wanted to see how far her magic could take her. He tries to stop her but seriously, that small fry can’t stand up to anything. Ieyasu puts on the armour and it feels like a henshin scene from a mahou shoujo series. Hey, how come the armour has become so sexy? I believe it looked intimidating and fit for a male body. But now, especially the chest plate has all those curves! Feels like cosplay, eh? Hideyoshi and Date return to Nobunaga and Mitsuhide. Date explains those who wear the armour with evil in their soul will gain power to destroy the land. In short, she has awakened the evil heart hidden within it. Ieyasu has become so powerful and evil, that a very big insignia appears above the land. Oh sh*t!

Episode 12
Mitsuhide wants to know who the hell Masamune is since she knows so much. I’m sure she tries to explain her best in detail about being from the future with all that futuristic mumbo-jumbo terms. As Nobunaga understands, she’s from another country, right? Haha. All the Hanzous are willing to serve their new lord but Ieyasu tells them to disappear as her first order because she doesn’t need weaklings and blasts them out of the tower. Nobunaga uses her Blade of Cruelty to break through the barrier. Finally. If she had done this in the first place, they wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy trying, right? They see the Hanzous badly beaten. They plead to save Ieyasu but Nobunaga refuses since she brought this upon herself. As show of power, Ieyasu unleashes several blasts. Nobunaga orders her army to evacuate but they would rather give their lives as her shield. However Nobunaga tells them they aren’t just running away but to help the people to evacuate. If they are true people of Owari, they should place the lives of people first instead of their lord. Immediately they oblige her order. Yoshimoto comes by and was told what happened. I guess she didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem and nearly got fried by her blast if Nobunaga hadn’t pushed her away. Mitsuhide decides to play hero by getting the job done herself even if it costs her life. Unfortunately she couldn’t even touch Ieyasu and is sent crashing down. If not for Kenshin and Shingen, it would be splat for her. Nobunaga slaps her never to pull that stunt again. Probably the big hug reached her brain. Nobunaga pleads for them to help her to stop Ieyasu from hurting innocent peasants and will take any blame later on. That’s when the Saigoku trio appear. Do they want a piece of the action too? Seems the reason these ladies are appearing now is because they had a premonition of the disaster the armour would bring not because it’s going to be a big bang finale with all the ladies. Okay, maybe that is the reason too

Hideyoshi is distraught that Ieyasu won’t get out of this unscathed. But it is the only way if they are going to restore order. Hideyoshi doesn’t want to lose her friend, what more she getting killed. Nobunaga accepts her challenge to bring her back alive seeing it is more difficult to keep her alive than dead. The warrior heroines rush up the tower (I wonder how Sourin managed to run up with her big cannon) but Ieyasu’s blast makes them start from ground zero again. Can’t even get close. Mitsuhide notes she is too strong for them to attack separately and has a plan. That plan is for them to attack her continuously in succession, without giving her any breathing space or regain herself. Finally Ieyasu comes face to face with Nobunaga. She uses her Blade of Cruelty. So powerful that not only Ieyasu’s wand breaks and her armour coming off, but it also devastated the entire castle grounds! Shocking! Ieyasu wakes up to her normal self, her Hanzous are glad she is safe. Ieyasu chides them as useless but hard to kill. That wasn’t a compliment! But true isn’t it? Ieyasu is made to say out loud her apology for what she had done. Nobunaga feels she should’ve done that from the start and that humans should be honest with their feelings. I guess she took her words seriously because Ieyasu now wants to call Nobunaga her onee-sama and live by her side to atone for her sins! Say what? She is taken in by her elegance and beauty and hugs her. Now she is her fated person to? Oh, this doesn’t sit well with Mitsuhide. And she thought having Hideyoshi out of the picture was the end of it and now she has got to deal with this stubborn brat. Let the rivalry begin! But for Hideyoshi, she’s glad everyone is back to normal. You call this normal? I guess it’s better than people dying, right?

Episode 13
Nobunaga’s castle is being rebuilt as the lord herself sees off the Saigoku trio. Masamune’s future gadget starts beeping and this leads her to the Crimson Armour underneath the rubble. Oh great. Now her evil hopes are back. Hideyoshi didn’t want her sensei to turn into that conquest-mad woman again but Masamune reiterates that she has to fix things and loathes their world filled with selfish people who don’t care about others (look who’s talking). Even if she can’t change their world, at least she would make this one a utopia. She tries coaxing Hideyoshi to help her. But Nobunaga wants Masamune to show her resolve if that is the case. With the crowd building up and watching, Nobunaga explains she once thought like her. All she dreamt was conquest and would defeat anyone who stood in her way. But that won’t be true conquest because it would be ruling by force. True conquest is to rule equally all over. When she fought Ieyasu, she realized she was powerless. It is the help of others that she was able to win. Conquest isn’t about force. It’s about believing in people and having them believe in you. And if Masamune still insists on wearing that armour and go about with her conquest, Nobunaga will gladly punish her in Heaven’s place. The other warrior ladies side by Nobunaga. The verdict? Masamune is going to show them. But look how shaky her hand is. Hideyoshi is horrified and doesn’t want any more bloodshed. Nobunaga shows Hideyoshi her answer as she breaks the armour with her blade. She believes they can forge a future themselves and not depend on the armour. I guess you have to let that go either way, right? That night, Masamune talks to Hideyoshi and notes how Nobunaga has changed when she first met her. She was ambitious but after meeting Hideyoshi, she changed. Masamune admits she always blamed others or the world if things didn’t go her way. She feels she has to change. Glad she realizes that. Seeing they have no further use in this era, it’s time to go home.

Next morning, Nobunaga and her retainers see off the other ladies. Ieyasu and Mitsuhide have that final spat over Nobunaga. Guess she can’t stay by onee-sama’s side. Once that it’s over, Hideyoshi mentions they too have to leave. Nobunaga doesn’t seem surprised and just says to tell her when they’re ready. That was easier than they thought. Masamune gets the shock of her life when she sees Hideyoshi and Shiro conversing. That evening as Nobunaga and Mitsuhide prepares to see them off, Mitsuhide returns Hideyoshi’s broken handphone that she has forgotten. To return the favour, Date advises Mitsuhide on how to seduce Nobunaga. We’ll leave that to your imagination. Hideyoshi thanks her lord but Nobunaga is the one that is doing the thanking. Without her, she would’ve killed Ieyasu and Date. She would’ve ruled her people with an iron fist and in the end get punished by the Gods. She won’t forget the days spent with her and signs off with a little advice to always believe in herself and live to the fullest. Hideyoshi gives her handphone strap as a parting gift. Date activates the crystal and they both return to the temple in their time. Hideyoshi saw the picture taken with Nobunaga and Mitsuhide on her handphone screen before it blacks out for good. She realizes it wasn’t a dream. Hideyoshi continues her daily life. Yes, the usual getting into trouble, being late for school and getting caught by Date. Hey, isn’t history repeating itself? As Hideyoshi passes by the shrine, she thought she saw a dog that looked like Shiro. Following the canine into the shrine, it is Shiro! So what is that dog in a hurry about? Well, they leave it for us to guess. Don’t tell me. He’s an alien from another dimension?!

This wasn’t what happened in history!
They just returned like that without history being altered? Besides, it might be plausible if they have gone to another parallel world as Masamune theorized. Because otherwise, why would the historical characters be females in the first place? So yeah, I believe it to be another parallel world in the past. Because in the real history, Nobunaga was really betrayed and killed by his loyal aid Mitsuhide at the Honnouji Incident before the traitor himself is killed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Furthermore, it is also true that Yoshimoto died at his hands at Okehazama’s battle. So in this world whereby both of these characters are still alive, don’t you think history has been altered and should in some ways affect the future? But something is stopping me from being totally convinced by that fact. Date’s future descendents. Unless they come from a different parallel world in the future, going back to the past to change history could only mean they really wanted to alter the history as we know it. After all, winners are the ones that get to write history, right? So I guess with the armour destroyed, in a way it did not alter the future and perhaps the reason why the Date clan or any other people did not get to be the great lord that unified and ruled great old Japan. Perhaps this kind of reasoning would go easy on my brain seeing if they ended up with the future really getting altered like how they did in Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin, my brain would’ve exploded trying to comprehend the complexities.

Hideyoshi is the pivotal character that changes many of the so called historical figures. But if she was that crucial, why wasn’t her name listed down in the annals of history? In this anime in this sense, that is. For the record, the actual Hideyoshi was Nobunaga’s successor and brought an end to the Sengoku era. So it took a ‘foreigner’ girl from a different time and culture to change things, eh? Maybe back then, people were much more simple-minded and more gullible. Even if they are kings. Luckily Hideyoshi is a nice girl so she didn’t turn into a power crazy woman or have this thought that if she changes history to the way it suits her, she would have it easy in her history exams! But seriously, Hideyoshi herself has changed quite a bit too. At first, like most of us who are deprived of modern conveniences, she gets used to the olden ways and its know-how. Are you so glad that we live in a world filled with modern technology? Despite her whiny and complaining personality, that gets lesser and lesser as the series progresses. But that never stops her from being a positive and cheerful girl with a sunny disposition even if she is a bad luck magnet (care to count how many times she got tied up ever since getting blast to the past?). Isn’t it all good experience, no? But it made me wonder if she still is in denial that she is in the past era because she thought Mitsuhide and Ieyasu are her friends from her time. I don’t remember if she realized they are not because she still keeps calling them pet names like how she usually does.

As much as we remember history, any warlord would need to be brutal if they are to gain conquest and respect from their army. Perhaps it is because of the feminine side portrayed in this anime that makes this Nobunaga somewhat softened. Sure, Nobunaga here still exudes a commanding aura and as stated, because of a little girl that came into her life, she changed in a way that makes a hero that only exists in movies. Nobunaga was prepared to kill and do anything in the name of conquering Japan (but short of doing anything sneaky that may tarnish the image of a warrior) but with Hideyoshi squealing, begging and pleading for clemency, no lives were actually lost during this series. Serious. Thus a warlord that truly governs for her people? I would like to see that in real life too. Mitsuhide was just smitten by jealousy because Nobunaga was dividing her attention between her retainers. Before Hideyoshi came into the picture, she was her only focus. With Hideyoshi’s unconventional methods convincing Nobunaga, it is no surprise that each time she is pushed to the brink. I’m glad she woke up and realized as long as she still had those resenting feelings, her lord is never going to be pleased. Besides, Nobunaga had never forgot the words she made with her, right? I suppose the ‘kisses’ she got was enough to bury the hatchet with her rival but now it seems she’ll have to contend with another one in the name of Ieyasu. Start protecting your lord’s lips. You’re going to need it.

Masamune was so obsessed with changing history that she forgot that she should change herself. Like the saying, everybody wants to change the world but they don’t want to change themselves. Guess who made her realize all that? Hideyoshi who doesn’t harbour an interest for the armour (even if she agreed to help Nobunaga to find it) had more important things in heart. It’s the simple things in life (okay, maybe her handphone isn’t just something simple) and most important of all, friendship that counts. Now that Ieyasu has got a taste of what it’s like to wear the armour, she won’t be playing a megalomaniac who wants to rule the world anymore. At least for now. Hope this is a wakeup call for bored Yoshimoto to pay better attention to her. What else can I say about Shingen and Kenshin? They’re always arguing with each other over something trivial. It’s like fighting is their normal way of conversation. Shiro is still the most mysterious one and that teaser at the end really indicates he might not be just an ordinary dog. Heck, he’s a talking dog! The only purpose in this anime as I see it as a minor comic relief character. Somebody Hideyoshi could talk to because she’d be looking pretty odd if she was talking to herself. Plus, Shiro as the only male character in this era, it is as though a role for him to get sexually aroused when he sees the ladies in sexy positions or acts. Pervy little dog. Otherwise, there is more than meets the eye to this white dog. How and why he ended up in the past or how he jumped to Hideyoshi’s time or even who the heck he really is pretty much is still a big question mark.

One of the interesting and amusing aspects of this series is the next episode preview, dubbed the Sengoku Otome Style Preview. Here, we see a live action feature of the seiyuus of Masamune and Hideyoshi, Yuka Hirata and Rina Hidaka respectively. They also play teacher and student respectively in this preview. We see them talk and do several stuff such as challenging each other to a tongue twister (Masamunemunemunemunemunemune… Ouch. I bit my tongue), trying to tell a ghost story in the dark with a torchlight (they botched the whole thing), playing penalty rock-scissors-papers (they’re sure enjoying it), a student counselling type Q&A (was Rina Hidaka stumped when she was being asked a third party love question?) and sensei asking her student if she has any romantic stories to share (why is Yuka Hirata typing all the details down as she speaks?). The opening theme is Kagerou by Tenka Tori Tai (made up by the seiyuus of Shingen, Kenshin and Yoshimoto) sounds like your typical anime rock piece fitting for this type of genre. The same group also sings the ending theme entitled Atsuki Ya No Gotoku. I find the chorus annoyingly catchy. “Aa aa, AAaaAAaaAAaaAa~ Aa aa, AAaaAAaaAAaaAa~”. There is an episode featuring Mitsuhide’s version of the song. I think I prefer the original trio version because this one sounds kinda ‘hollow’. I guess the ending credit animation is the place you can get a little fanservice. Naked girls but with ribbons overlapping the necessary areas. Speaking of fanservice, I don’t think it amounts to anything much in this series. Despite the characters all being female and wearing the king of armour that resembles more of daring cosplay than practicality, don’t expect any flashy fanservice like panty shots. Heck, panties weren’t invented back then!

Well, I have to admit that I did do a little research regarding the Sengoku era after watching this anime. But it was just to confirm some of the facts if this was really what happened (of course not!). But I doubt that even if they up the fanservice and turn every important historical character into sexy females, this will get people to pick up history books. It is going to require more than this to get people especially with no interest to get interested in history. Like me. I should be ashamed of myself for not even remembering some of my own country’s history. Okay, important ones like independence day or very critical turning points I would but other than that, especially dates (oh, history dates, how I loathe thee), all I have given back to my history teacher. Yeah, that’s history already. I could easily give an excuse that I wasn’t born then so I wouldn’t know what happened but that would be so cliche. Besides, history is supposed to be based on facts and what happens if people who are supposed to assure the accuracy of history do not make it so? We are after all exposed to a certain ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ from the moment we are born so it is sometimes hard and up to the person to deem what he/she believes in. We might believe in something easily without evidence or something that is false that no matter how many proofs we are thrown with, your beliefs won’t change. So imagine if you get thrown back to the past, would you seize the chance to change history? If I’m thrown into a world filled with ladies, I might just stay there and make it my paradise harem. Haha. Just dreaming and kidding. But really, where did all the men go?

High Score

May 18, 2012

Oh. It’s another one of those flash based animes. It’s another of those short flash based animes. It’s another of those 3 minutes short flash based animes. Yeah, High Score seems to fit that bill. But the good news of this kind of short series is that everything happens in a fast pace and this series doesn’t disappoint. It’s about a bunch of high school students and their romance. Each with their own quirky and weird behaviours, inflated egos, their love interest and yes, don’t forget the violence that comes with it. What else more can I say? Just watch this and you’ll know what I mean.

Episode 1
Everybody’s talking about Megumi Fujiwara. How cool this beauty is. Till she spots a bespectacled otaku and makes him her prey! Yikes! She’s chasing him around! WTF?! Thankfully we have the school doctor, Daimon to put a stop to her bullying. Everyone is envious of Megumi and her senpai boyfriend, Masamune Matsumoto. Both are so egoistic about their looks and popularity. He is late because he was busy looking at himself in the mirror. She went to the infirmary because she’s so hot that it hurts. WTF?! WWWTTTFFF???!!! Then some executioner-like guy threatens Masamune with an axe not to touch her Megumi but gets easily beaten up. Megumi isn’t afraid and thinks it’s her sin for having too many fans. Megumi continues beating up the poor chap and could’ve killed him. Why? A man should be happy to die for her! Later, she pesters the karate club to buy her stuff so Masamune feels they shouldn’t oblige her whims and fancies. But they admit they lost to her and are under her complete submission. Masamune is appalled they lost to a girl but they claim that woman is cruel. Yeah, she exposes her panties when she does her high kick. Do they enjoy watching that and getting kicked? Masamune beats them up for looking at her panties. Then everybody watches the cringing lovey-dovey moment. “If being beautiful is a crime, both of us would totally be put to death”. So cheesy that it hurts…

Episode 2
Emika Matsumoto catches her boyfriend, Kyousuke Masuda flirting and almost kissing with another girl! Emika isn’t thrilled her brother Masamune is dating with Emika. Even if Emika is accusing Masamune of cheating her, she is cheekily doing it so much so there is no hostility. It feels like she loves it to the point that she’ll punish him with 100 kisses if that was true. Emika asks the same towards Kyousuke and she violently grabs his collar when he lied. See that sexy kiss mark on his neck? That couldn’t be the mosquito bite, right? She punches him till the windows shatter!!! Later Kaori Tachibana asks Emika how she ended up dating Kyousuke. When he first asked her out, she punched him before he could finish his sentence. Then she throws down the challenge if he can get up in 5 seconds, she’ll go out with him. He stood up in 3 seconds. A record! Kyousuke feels her beatings are too much and wonders if she does love him. She assures she won’t punch any other guy no matter what they do because he’s the only guy whose neck won’t break, organs won’t rupture or cough up enough blood when he is beaten up. With that, Kyousuke wants to be the only guy Emika exclusively punches! Is he an M?!

Episode 3
Megumi’s dad, Reiji wants to get a kiss from his wife Kyouko. She tells him to close his eyes. Apparently Megumi kissed him and got money from mom. WTF?! Reiji asks his wife if there is anything she needs. Yes there is. Lie down like a stiff board far away from here. That’s as good as saying drop dead, right? Yeah, she finds him annoying. Megumi chides her mom for being awful but Reiji scolds her back for saying such things to her mom! He is willing to go as far as breaking her but gets hit by Kyouko instead. Yeah, he was really going to do that to his own daughter?! Later Reiji regrets his actions and goes to talk to Megumi for advice since Kyouko isn’t talking to him. She suggests texting her but he doesn’t know her email address. Suddenly Megumi keeps repeating “I will kill Reiji”. What is going on? That is Kyouko’s email address!!! Oh sh*t! But why is Reiji so happy? Because her email address has his name in it. He thinks it’s her love for him. Unbelievable… So when he texts her on what he can do, she tells him to take out the big burnable garbage bag. The kanji for ‘big’ and ‘husband’ is only a stroke different…

Episode 4
Kaori notices the height difference between twins Izumi and Arashi Hashiba. She has a magic that will make him grow taller. I don’t know about cutting his body in half and inserting somebody else’s body to make him look taller. More like oddly longer. Kaori also notes how Izumi and Megumi are alike but the duo got into an argument to dismiss why they’re not. Megumi asserts she is a rare masterpiece nobody can find in this world but Izumi tells her off about beauty in different standards and paints a picture of beauty that some like those who are fat, long neck and thick lips (imposing those traits on Megumi as an example). Then mentioning about her bad personality, the argument escalates into a physical fist fight. See, they’re both alike. Megumi spots Izumi being kind to a stray cat and gets an idea. She disguises as a cat and instantly Izumi recognizes her as Miiko the cat and hugs her. He apologizes he should’ve taken her to the hospital earlier so that she doesn’t have to possess the body of this stupid bimbo. Megumi gets infuriated and is going to send him to hell! Arashi finds Izumi’s fear cute…

Episode 5
Kaori sees Sayo Yuki looking through a photo collection of gruesome murders! She’s loving it! Kaori asks the girls what type of boys they like. Megumi: A guy who would die for her; Emika: Someone who won’t die if his neck is broken; Sayo: Someone who won’t die after you slice his head off! Is that even possible?! Well, someone who is like a planarian. What’s that? A kind of creature that splits and regenerates itself when it is sliced into 2. Yeah, nobody is like that. When they ask Kaori’s type, she couldn’t answer but her body reaction indicates Arashi. Sayo notices that guy looking handsome. This shocks Kaori as she wonders if she likes him too. Actually it’s that ghost behind him she finds handsome. WTF?! She sees dead people? But Kaori is relief it’s just a ghost. That’s not the point! Later Kyousuke goes to the infirmary to treat his wounds after another beating from Emika. Since Daimon is not here, Sayo treats him on his behalf. Kyousuke’s scream has Daimon come rushing into the infirmary. He is shocked to see Sayo putting her own medicine brand. Sayo escapes by jumping out the window! When Daimon treats Kyousuke, a monster appears out from his face! Looks like Sayo has replaced the contents too. See Sayo snicker… Later when she asks Daimon for some salve, he thinks of giving her her own medicine (no pun intended) but she refuses because if she rubs that, she’ll die from shock. I guess she’s more of a sadist.

Episode 6
Jiro Tokiwadzu wonders why girls avoid him. As Masamune points out, it may be his fluttering clothes. Megumi wonders who this kelp tea drinker is as Masamune explains he used to fight this Grim Reaper-cum-Satan delinquent back in middle school. Only Masamune was the one who defeated him. Megumi pictures him the wrong way and starts laughing. Masamune continues that he loves seeing blood but Megumi gets the wrong idea that it’s tomato and thinks he’s a weirdo. He denies so she settles for Fluttering Weirdo. Upon knowing her name, Tokiwadzu is reminded of his ex-girlfriend, Megu. She describes the perfect and nice sexy body she has and someone Masamune once had a crush on. Masamune shivers in fear upon thinking back because what Megumi didn’t know that Megu is a plus and large sized girl. Wondering if Megu is hotter than her, all Tokiwadzu has to say is that Megumi doesn’t have much of a figure like her. Yeah, getting the wrong idea again.

Episode 7
Rika Houjou who is also a pretty and talented fashion model has a crush on Masamune. But Megumi rubs salt into her wounds by describing how she and her love just kissed. Megumi blows an indirect kiss to her and it was enough to make her nose bleed. Megumi continues to tease Rika she is not good enough for Masamune so Rika puts her foot down and says her love is pure. All she has to do is to think about him and suddenly… A massive nose bleed! It’s like a crime scene! Daimon thought Megumi is the culprit since she too is covered with blood and chases her. Later Megumi hides in a weird outfit to avoid being seen by the doctor. Rika spots her but doesn’t recognize it is Megumi underneath. She treats her nicely so Megumi deduces as long as she isn’t found out, she’ll get this good treatment. Of course Daimon confiscates her outfit. Rika is being hounded by a couple of guys who wants to date her. She refuses. This time Megumi wearing a paper bag over a head beats up those guys, much to Rika’s gratefulness. Just when Megumi thought she is totally in awe with her, Rika has a request for her and wants her to take care of that Megumi b*tch. Damn…

Episode 8
Mikihiko Kitagawa is a professional shoujo mangaka. But he gets bad news when his editor Yoshida tells him he ranked last in last month’s poll. She thinks he must depict more love in his manga so he panics on the different meanings of ‘ai’ (love). First he suggests a love shot through the heart using Izumi and Kaori but Yoshida didn’t think a midget can protect that girl and suggests Izumi a towering gorilla instead. Needing to inject more passion, he writes up Kyousuke and Emika’s violent love passion as their love barometer. Though Yoshida likes the muscle bound Emika (she’s fantasizing about it actually), she finds Kyousuke weak and nothing attractive. So to depict an attractive couple, Mikihiko uses Megumi and Masamune. They may be annoying (Megumi just loving his outer appearance than his other good inner personalities), they are a good attractive couple that make heads turn wherever they go. So when Mikihiko finishes his manga, Yoshida didn’t like how clean cut and innocent it is and wants all the men to be muscular and macho. Would that even be a shoujo manga?!

High Octane Love, Violent Scores…
Yeah of course, with only 8 episodes and each are already very short themselves, it is hard to say that I’m ‘full’ but nevertheless because of the spontaneous nonsensical jokes and violent comedies, I was really laughing at them all. Even for a short flash anime series, the bunch of characters are wacky enough to be memorable even if they don’t have much screen time (each episode seems to introduce a new character). Like the selfish Megumi and Masamune who are so egoistic about their own good looks and popularity, that it feels they have the right to belittle others. So what kind of love is that? Sometimes the words they say to each other are cheesy but yet hilarious and witty. I guess if you have ego only this big you can say such ‘lovey-dovey’ cringing words. Sayo’s obsession with gruesome and occult stuff probably is why there aren’t any other guys interested with her. Kyousuke and Emika’s love is like saying love = pain. Well, love hurts. Literally. Reiji’s love for Kyouko is obviously one-sided and it’s amazing that they’re still living with each other and not divorced.

Of course even short animations like these they can even have several well known seiyuus voicing them. Probably it’s not much but fans do get a kick in spotting their favourite seiyuus in smaller series. We have Yu Kobayashi (Mariya in Maria+Holic series) here as Emika and her voice was definitely suitable for the violent girl who talks with her fist. Still love the way she goes crazy with her voice. Others include Eri Kitamura as Megumi and Izumi (Ami in Toradora), Katsuyuki Konishi as Masamune (Oga in Beelzebub), Takahiro Sakurai as Kyousuke (Suzaku in Code Geass), Ikumi Hayama as Kaori (Matsuoka in Mitsudomoe), Aya Endo as Sayo and Kyouko (Miyuki in Lucky Star), Ayuru Oohashi as Rika (Hajime in Double-J), Tetsuya Kakihara as Tokiwadzu (Natsu in Fairy Tail), Yuuki Ono as Reiji (Kaname in Kimi To Boku) and Shinya Takashi as Mikihiko (Masao in Shiki). The opening, probably the same name as the series is frantic and fast paced like the show itself seeing the lyrics consist of repeating “the lines of High Score…”. The ending theme, Sweetholic by The Lady Spade gives out that energetic and mischievous feel.

I guess they’re trying to say that there are different kinds of love in this world. Not every love in this world is like the fairytale kind that has everyone live happily ever after. Love makes the world go round? Maybe after all that punching and kicking, your world will definitely be spinning round and round. Haha! Just kidding. So it’s easy come and some it’s easy go for some types of love. What kind of love would you like to have? Well, whatever that is, I’m sure you would definitely want to impress and score highly in the books of the ones you love.

Katanagatari

May 13, 2012

Phew. It felt like a long time watching Katanagatari. Even though the series has only 12 episodes and was shown way back in the year 2010, each episode is 50 minutes long and comes out only 1 episode per month! Even as I watched the series way after it ended and on a weekly basis, it still feels lengthy because I’m not really used to sitting down and watching animes that are more than 24 minutes per series. OVAs that usually last longer than that are just one shots so for a series to really have every episode spanning almost an hour, phew, that is quite a feat. And considering that I was expecting this to be a complicated series, I had this tendency to jot down the summary as I watch. Meaning, instead of watching the show finish, I would at certain points pause the episode and write it down so as not to lose the ‘freshness’ of what has happened (that’s why it’s so ‘neatly’ done for this blog). So I nearly spent almost 3 hours watching an episode for this series! Amazing or what?

Basically the premise is simple. Set in the Edo period, a woman who is a strategist teams up with guy who doesn’t use swords under the orders of the Shogunate to retrieve 12 of the greatest sword masterpieces created by the legendary swordsmith around the country. Sounds easy, right? Well, you’re going to face off with the owners of the swords who aren’t willing to let them go so what are the chances that they’ll give it up without a fight? Just because the Shogun says so? Screw him! And it gets a lot more complicated with all the drama, plots, twists and turns coming in as you continue your journey with them. You’ll also learn about the characters, their past and their relationships as you go along. This isn’t just an ordinary treasure hunt. Get ready and prepare yourselves for a long journey of discovery and adventure like no other.

Episode 1 – Zettou Kanna
In Oushuu, Hida Castle is under attack and on fire. Mutsue Yasuri, the 6th generation head of the Kyotouryuu (Swordless Technique) kills rebel leader Takahito Hida. When Shogun Yanari came into power and fearing the power of Mutsue, he banished him and his family to an uninhabited island that nobody has stepped foot on for 20 years. A woman, Togame is seen heading her way towards the island on a boat. Shichika Yasuri and sister Nanami are living alone on the island. Nanami feels he should give up his training since the technique will end in his generation but he is adamant to continue and practice his ultimate move seeing it’s the only thing left by his father. Shichika is on his way to collect water when he stumbles upon Togame. She is here to look for the Kyotouryuu head but was told Mutsue already died a year ago. However since her business is with the Kyotouryuu head, this means she has business with Shichika who is now the head and 7th generation. Observing Shichika’s strength, Togame introduces herself as the strategist for the Shogunate’s army general director. She wants to tests his Kyotouryuu and unsheathes her sword. Then she charges at him but trips on a rock and got knock out! Eh? Well, she’s a strategist, not a sword person.

Back in the hut, they talk about Kyotouryuu and Nanami suggests testing him again seeing she was lucky to trip over a rock because if her blade had reached Shichika’s body, she wouldn’t have escape with just a bump on her forehead. Togame takes her words as proof that he is Kyotouryuu’s head. Togame asks Shichika if he wants to rule the world. He straightaway answers no! But that lady keeps on blabbing long enough to realize he just turned her down! Well, he doesn’t understand what she’s saying. After all, they’re raised on an island and don’t interact with others. Togame wants Nanami to leave for her private talk with Shichika but he says it won’t work because firstly Kyotouryuu is inherited by blood so even if his father was around, he’ll still let them stay and secondly, he is bad at thinking. I guess there’s nothing more to say about that. Togame asks if they know about Kiki Shikizaki, a master swordsmith (again Shichika doesn’t know who the f*ck he is). It is believed that he made great swords and distributed 1000 of them to other countries and they receive an edge in combat on the battlefield. Nanami thinks some countries were big enough to hold an advantage in combat, they tried to amass more of his sword. Togame also mentions the truth for those myths. About 150 years ago, Shogun Kyuu was obsessed over those mystical weapons and almost achieved world unification by holding a majority of 507 swords. After that, he made a corrupt decree to collect all the swords with a reason to have all the swordsmen meet. Though he had 10,000 swords in his collection and managed to track down the location of the 1000 Shikizaki swords, he gave up. Because among the thousand, the final 12 were incredibly unique and it is said that 988 of the blades were used as mere practice to create these 12 Deviant Swords: Kanna, Namakura, Tsurugi, Hari, Yoroi, Kanazuchi, Bita, Kanzashi, Nokogiri, Hakari, Mekki and Juu. These swords evilness are incomparable to any other famous swords. It is said the Shogun sent an army to collect them but were wiped out by the power of a single sword. Thus Togame is here to have Shichika to gather the last 12 Shikizaki swords. Currently the current Shogunate is unstable and if the rebellion gets hold of these swords, you can tell what will happen to the Shogunate. A rebellion will start. Togame reveals half of the sword’s location and the rest are still under investigation. Togame is under orders from the Shogunate to do it skilfully, that’s where her strategies come in (yeah, she just created that title by herself). About hiring those to get the swords, money didn’t work because they hired ninjas but were betrayed. Not only they took the swords but the entire ninja village disappeared too! Hiring those that work with honour didn’t too. Hakuhei Sabi was the most loyal and strongest swordsman picked by the Shogunate but as a swordsman, he can’t resist the lure of possessing one of the Shikizaki swords and also ran off with it. But still that doesn’t mean Shichika would want to leave the island to go on a quest, right? She says there is only 1 reason left: Love. People who work for love can be trusted (Togame just admitted she has been betrayed before). Therefore she wants Shichika to fall in love with her! After that non-stop blabbing it was ‘refreshing’ there was a long pause of silence.

Several shurikens are flying in. Nanami pushes them out of harm’s way. Shichika is upset his dad’s hut is ruined and goes after the fleeing culprit. Judging from the shurikens, Togame recognizes it is from the Maniwa Ninja Corps, the ones who turned traitor after learning the value of the Shikizaki swords. There is only 1 right here since Maniwa dislike working in groups. But why he is here is still a mystery to her. Togame as a strategist couldn’t figure out how someone else knew where she was seeing she didn’t tell anyone or was sure she was being tailed till Nanami had to point out to her if she ferried herself all the way here. Yup, the boatman. Shichika catches up to the culprit Koumori Maniwa who is after Togame for her information instead of him. Shichika prepares to fight his first battle as Koumori pulls out Kanna from his throat! Shichika is worried about his body than the sword. Besides, he is disgusted it’s covered with his saliva. Maniwa tries to slice him but Shichika’s Chrysanthemum move catches it. Seeing he his move is busted, Koumori backs off. But Shichika felt something weird about Kanna because Chrysanthemum wasn’t a move to catch swords but break them. Koumori lets him know that Kanna is different as it can’t be bend or broken. Not even elephants trampling on it can break it, that’s why it’ll fetch a high price. Also why it’s unbreakable was probably Shikizaki dabbled with sorcery and alchemy. Still Shichika wants to break it but Togame (come tripping down again) warns him not to. She wants him to defeat Koumori without destroying the sword anyhow with a flashy move. Why? Because she is going to write a report on this. Let’s say it’s something for her future that will sell. But Koumori puts back Kanna in his throat. Then he unleashes a flurry of shurikens as distraction to kidnap Togame.

Togame is tied to a tree as Koumori mocks her of trying to think of ways to get out of this situation. He reveals he overheard her embarrassing “Fall for me” line and accidentally spat out those shurikens (so it wasn’t a surprise attack). Togame wants him to kill her but he won’t since he is sure she isn’t completely clueless about the location of the remaining swords. He offers her to betray the Shogunate and work for her but she refuses. Then his body starts contorting because he transforms into an exact duplicate of Togame! Including her clothes. He plans to sneak up on Shichika and kill him then perhaps transform into him and kill her. Originally he betrayed her for the money and wouldn’t have worked with her if she knew what kind of person she is. So that offer was so that he could betray her again. He tells her nobody in this world will stay by her side.

Koumori thinks his plan is going perfectly as he runs up to Shichika but was kicked in the waist! So much so he coughed out Kanna! Did he get found out? Actually Shichika couldn’t recognize human faces after living in isolation for so long and just kicked! So if it was the real Togame, she could’ve been killed! Koumori tells Shichika about Togame’s fishy story. Why is the Shogunate collecting the swords now? To prevent a rebellion sounds like a reason because the current Shogunate doesn’t hold the swords with the same reverence as Shogun Kyuu. This means collecting the swords is just for Togame to gain recognition and rise up the ranks to be the Shogun’s right hand man. Or woman rather. Since the Shogun is old and will be retiring, the next step is ruling the world. Shichika didn’t get all of that so Koumori reveals Togame is the daughter of the last rebellion, Hida. She watched her father killed before her eyes. She is willing to do anything for her ambitions even if that means asking her father’s enemies to collect the swords for revenge. Koumori than copycats Shichika’s form and picks up Kanna. He is confident they are now equal in terms of strength. Shichika deduces since Koumori only knows of Togame’s secret, he will finish him here. Koumori prepares to strike but Kanna slips off his hands. Shichika says that Kyotouryuu men don’t have any skill whatsoever with a sword. They’re not swordsmen who don’t use swords but swordsmen who can’t use swords. Calling his flashy move he just developed recently, Shichika Hachiretsu because the opponent takes 7 hits from it and in the blink of an eye gets split into 8 pieces, Shichika consecutively pounds Koumori with his fists like a fighting game combo!

Togame is in a pinch. While trying to untie herself, she somehow ended up in an upside-down position. How embarrassing. Shichika show her he got one of the swords and Togame felt like his words meant like he’ll be continuing it. He cuts her free and tells her he has finished Koumori off with his flashy move. Too bad she missed it. He mentions he did it for her and decided to do help her out. Not because of money or loyalty to the Shogunate. Yup, he has fallen for her. Before they both leave, Nanami approves of Shichika’s departure not because of Togame’s story or journey but rather Shichika has found a reason to leave the island and it’ll be a waste if he doesn’t put his 20 years of training and studying to use. Togame cautions it won’t be an easy journey since it’ll be filled with ‘demons and snakes’ so Nanami notes how caring she is. She has no worries entrusting him to her. Togame has Shichika swear to 4 oaths. 1) Protect the swords (obviously); 2) Protect her (it’ll be futile if she dies, right?); 3) Protect himself (who is going to collect the swords then since it’s their mission?); 4) Protect himself. Eh? What? This is one is more of her consideration for him. After swearing on them, Shichika reiterates he loves her so she has him love her as much as he wants. Do they even know what love means?

Episode 2 – Zantou Namakura
Did Togame get seasick from Shichika’s rowing or the violent waves? Arriving in Kyoto, Shichika is amazed with the number of people. Remember his problem of not recognizing faces? Yeah, he already mistook a girl for Togame because of her same height! Anyway so as not to arouse the suspicion of others that Togame is some dominatrix woman and throw rocks at them, she takes Shichika to a shop to get clothes but she bought all for herself. At night, they pass a couple of bandits. Unheeding her advice to sheath their sword, Shichika kicks and breaks them to protect Togame. He was going to finish them off if Togame had not stopped them that he just can’t slaughter anybody on the mainland. Despite its name which means blunt, it can cut through anything effortlessly. In an inn, Togame has Shichika smell her so that he could identify her scent so as not for him to mistakenly kill her as an assassin! She allows him to lick her but not bite? Then they talk about their next sword retrieval mission: Namakura at Gekoku Castle. The reason she chose this sword next is because its master is a swordsman. However he is a ronin named Ginkaku Uneri. Long ago when Shogun Kyuu ordered the hunt, the owner of Namakura was a samurai serving under a feudal lord named Kinkaku Uneri. However Kinkaku refused to hand over the sword and subsequently killed 10,000 soldiers of the soldier. So now, Uneri the 10th generation is its current owner. One of the heads of Maniwa, Shirasagi (what’s with him talking in reverse?), confronts Ginkaku to steal Namakura. However he was sliced in half! So much for his appearance. Now the tatami is tainted…

Shichika and Togame trek through the deserts of Inaba to the castle. Over the years, the desert has been eating the land up and became uninhabitable. So Ginkaku is the only one living like a feudal lord in his own castle. Togame mentions that every scout the Shogun sent there, none return. So it’s cut first, ask later. She also wants Shichika to come up with a catchphrase. Since she didn’t see his flashy move, she didn’t put it in her report. When she was writing it, she noticed something about Shichika: His weak personality! No matter how she worded her report, Koumori always stand out more than him. She is worried that Shichika has nothing stand out and will lose readers? Is this what it’s all about? She mentions Shirasagi’s reverse talk that made him interesting. Too bad she won’t hear that anymore. Back to the catchphrase, she mentions Hakuhei Sabi’s good catchphrase: “I’ll have you fallen for me”. Shichika would rather die than to have that. Well, he has a catchphrase he often says: “How troublesome”. Togame didn’t like it because it might affect his work in which he should be doing it enthusiastically. If he can’t come up with one, she already has written a few for him to choose. Well, let’s just say it makes Shichika wonder if she really uses her brain as a weapon. Plus, it makes it feel like as though he’s the bad guy. To Togame it does seem it will help improve her image if she demonstrates her ability to handle a tough nut. Because Togame is going to continue this conversation for the rest of the journey, I guess Shichika just picks the catchphrase “However, by that point you’ll have been torn into pieces”. Besides, Togame has her own catchphrase “Cheerio”. Well, she mistakenly thought that foreign farewell world was a popular phrase from Satsuma in Kyushu when the truth it’s supposed to be “Chesuto” (a cry to raise one’s spirits).

After walking so long, Togame is tired. Shichika thought it was the clothes she’s wearing. She reminds him that women have body parts that they need to keep fashionable. But for him, so long he doesn’t remove clothes from his lower part, he’ll be okay. Besides, he’s thankful for the hakama she bought him as he is able to move freely in it. You thought Togame’s tripping habit kicked up but she tripped on Shirasagi’s body in the sand. As stated, seems the 12 heads of Maniwa are competing against each other to find the Deviant Swords. Then appearing before them is the castle. It was camouflaged by a mirage in the air. Togame notes that Shirasagi’s death is a blessing because if he had stolen the sword, they came all the way for nothing. But Shichika cautions this had made the owner defensive and may have run away. Togame is confident he won’t leave the castle no matter the reason because he is bloody confident in his skills. But Togame is also happy to note that she can look forward to write a good report with this outcome.

As they head in, Shichika wonders why she is walking ahead first. She reminds him that she too can fight (I thought she was better off using her brain power?). She clears the air that they are not here to steal like thieves but follow proper government procedure. Opening the room door to where Ginkaku is sitting, Togame introduces herself and her intention for a fair trade of Namakura. Denying that the scum ninja was her associate, she is willing to pay and even help him get what he desires for the sword. However bored and sleepy Ginkaku has her come closer to talk since he considers rude for her to talk to a swordsman across the room. As she is about to take a step in, Shichika spots Ginkaku unsheathing his sword. He uses his Lily move to kick Togame back. Togame is apparently shocked at the mysterious pull back force and thought she was being abducted by aliens! Man, she has a wild imagination! Then she realizes when her front portion of her clothes ripped. Shichika recognizes that move as Iainuki (kneeling sword draw). Ginkaku notes that this is the first time his Zerosen technique failed with Namakura. Togame chides his despicable act but he notes that she was going to take it by force anyway. He also thinks she played cheat by bringing along this ‘big brother’ (see how Togame blow her top by saying which part of her face looked like his little sister). Namakura has being handed down by his forefathers and they would not hand it to the Shogunate. Simply giving it away would make him a laughing stock. Shichika feels that he is afraid to lose the sword since he will lose his speed of light move with Zerosen. Realizing that Shichika is also a swordsman, he challenges him to come and take it and no need for further talk. However Shichika wants to do a bit of strategizing with Togame first.

Outside the castle, seems Shichika was just checking if he would come after them. Apparently he didn’t and let them go. Plus, the moment Togame crossed the boundary into his room, she got attacked. This means he won’t attack as long as they don’t enter his room, his absolute territory and optimal place for him to ambush enemies. They need to find a way to drag him out. Shichika has a plan. First, Togame enters the room and falls prey to Zerosen’s cut. Since he can’t let the corpse be, he’ll have to drag it out and throw it into the desert just like Shirasagi. That’s when Shichika will attack him. But there’s one problem. Togame will be cut! That won’t do! So the other plan is to face him head on. He thinks just winning today isn’t good enough to win tomorrow’s battles. They can’t just win by luck like with Koumori. Togame feels she has no skills to back him up so Shichika says he wants her to do it because people with something to protect are strong. Ginkaku reflects how he became obsessed in protecting the sword when everyone has left. And he will continue to do it. As a swordsman, he needs something to protect or else he cannot fight.

The duo return to the room as Shichika gets ready to counter his Zerosen move with his Iris technique. He’s bending down like a start line run? When he makes his first move, Ginkaku predicts he’ll cut him on the third step. But when it’s done, seems he cut a phantom illusion. Taken off guard, Shichika kicked him with his Rose move. However Ginkaku notes that he could’ve finished him off with Rose but held back. Seems Shichika was overwhelmed by his sword pressure (due to lack of real battle experience). Since the same move won’t work again, Ginkaku uses Five Lives Attacks to cut and it doesn’t matter if he speeds up or slows down. Though Shichika dodged out of the room, the move also wounded Ginkaku’s arm. This was also the move that killed the Shogun’s soldiers. He explains this secret move combined with Namakura and the thing I understand that is the more it cuts, the faster it gets, thus faster than the speed of light. Togame thinks of letting him bleed to death but Shichika won’t allow that. He is impressed by him and will show him the full might of Kyotouryuu. Ginkaku asks if Togame could restore Inaba since she said she would do anything. She says it’s impossible since the Shogunate has deserted this place and no longer under his jurisdiction. Plus, reversing the dessert process is impossible. Ginkaku is relieved and feels it was right to cut her. About the pride thing he was talking about, he said that on a whim. It was just something he wanted to protect. In fact it’s the only thing left to protect. Preparing for the next move, Shichika gets ready into his Iris position and warns him that he’ll be in pieces. Shichika starts, Ginkaku draws his sword. The funny part was Shichika using Togame’s face as a spring board!!! Oh man!!! Shichika ends up on top of the ceiling seeing that Zerosen doesn’t cover every area. Why? He notices Ginkaku cannot draw his sword above his head. With that, Shichika uses his hidden art, Rakka Rouzeki (Scattered Blossoms) and lands a devastating drop kick on him.

In the aftermath, though they have Namakura in possession, Togame is understandably mad. First he thought Iris to Rose move would do the job so he really did that face platform move as insurance. She would’ve appreciated it if he had told her in the first place. Oh, and that people get stronger line thingy, he was just randomly saying things. Shichika learns from today’s battle that having something to protect doesn’t mean that one will become strong and that there are people who need something to protect in order to keep living. Shichika thinks Ginkaku’s final line was a cool catchphrase that brings out his character but Togame disagrees that it’s more of a final message, last words and will before his death since one is allowed to say it once in your lifetime. But sometimes last words can be more powerful than catchphrases. She doesn’t allow Shichika to come up with one and not even think about it. Ginkaku’s last words were “At last, deep sleep is allowed in me”.

Episode 3 – Sentou Tsurugi
The duo enter the autonomous region of Izumo to meet Meisai Tsuruga, the head of the Sanzu shrine and owner of the Tsurugi sword. Togame is confident she can walk 1000 steps up to the shrine since she already trekked through the desert. But after a few steps, she got tired and seeks Shichika’s help! Since carrying her on the back will be tad embarrassing, the strategist has Shichika carry her like a princess. Less embarrassing this way? I don’t know. Go figure. At the top, they meet Meisai. Inside the shrine, we learn Meisai was once part of the bandit but that was 7 years ago and she has left them ever since. Plus, this isn’t her real name and she just took after the previous priest of this temple as she has forgotten her own. Meisai can tell Togame is under orders from the Shogunate and must have an urgent business. She agrees with Togame’s request to speak with her privately. Meisai shows her around and that this place has 1000 armed shrine maidens spread out throughout the area. These maidens are unsettled as some of them have killed their parents, families or their entire clan. Meisai also knows she is here for her Tsurugi sword so Togame says they already have 2 of the Deviant Blades. Togame is aware of the circumstances the Sanzu shrine is in and is willing to let the Shogunate take care of the circumstances in exchange for her sword. Upon learning that Shichika is her sword and a Kyotouryuu, she is excited to pit the Kyotouryuu against her Sentouryuu (Thousand Blade Technique). She agrees to give her Tsurugi as long as she accepts a little condition.

Togame meets up with Shichika and tells him how the deal went. First they have to find the real Tsurugi among the 1000 identical swords (among them is the original and first Tsurugi sword). After they find the real sword, they have to fight her and win. If they lose, they have to give up Kanna and Namakura. Shichika feels it’s not fair since they only get 1 sword if they win but Meisai gets 2 swords if she gets victory. Somehow Shichika got entangled in Togame’s hair and he fell over her in an ambiguous position. Yeah, just watching the shadows from outside really makes it look ambiguous. Meisai’s bodyguards report back their observation on the duo to her. Meisai can tell they are not a couple or a master-servant relationship but are likely tied by fate. She guessed from Togame’s hair and actions that she has been through a lot of hardship and her brightly coloured clothes are so as not to forget herself. She also guesses that Togame is a daughter of a feudal lord and if there wasn’t any war, she could’ve been a princess of her own country. Next morning, Togame leaves to examine the Tsurugi swords and wants Shichika to stay put in the room and not wander. Inside the shrine, Togame looks through the swords and picks up one. Suddenly a maiden dashes forward and steals that sword, ready to cut Togame. However Meisai shields her with her own body. While the other maidens are evacuated, Meisai approaches closer to the maiden as she swings the sword in a panic state. Finally she breaks down so Meisai brings her out and tells Togame to continue with the inspection.

Meanwhile Kuizame of Maniwa has just arrived and kills all the boatpeople just to live up to expectations of being a murderer. Bored Shichika spots several maidens doing chores. When he goes help them, they shriek and run off in fear. He continues to complete the chores so the maidens quietly go back and help him. They thank him once they have finished and go off. Meisai’s bodyguards thank him. Shichika learns that the maidens were under the care of the previous priest. He mentions that he doesn’t feel that aura that Shikizaki swords have in their blades. When Meisai is being told of this, she decides to talk to him. Meisai answers his questions like this shrine is a refuge temple for the maidens. These girls were abused by men way past their limit till their mental health is destroyed and then they get abandoned. Thus their fear of Shichika and men alike (also the reason Togame doesn’t want him to wander). Meisai also reveals the reason she gave the maidens Tsurugi. It’s to use the poison of Shikizaki’s swords as medicine. If taking too much medicine becomes poisonous, the opposite can also be true. The swords serve to restore and sooth their broken mind. After all the Deviant Swords have power beyond human comprehension. Though the talisman over their faces are just ‘fake’ masks, the Tsurugi are their real heart and soul. That is why she cannot afford to give up Tsurugi nor lose to him because she needs to save as many women she can. Shichika likes the way Meisai thinks of using swords to save lives and it’s good that they’ll both give it all in their fight.

Meisai wonders if he is okay of robbing Tsurugi even if it will break the hearts of these maidens. Shichika can’t help it since his body and soul don’t move for anyone but Togame. Asking how many people he has killed, he replies 2 and both in connection of obtaining the Deviant Blades. As for Meisai, she has killed countless but remembers she killed 43 – her comrades. When asked about his reasons to fight, he replies it’s for Togame because he fell for her. Meisai notes that his sympathy and throwing-off-balance technique failed. Shichika then remembers he didn’t kill 2 but 3 people. The other person he killed was his father. They realize Kuizame hearing their conversation. He is of course here to take Tsurugi and is confident in his Uzugatana technique. Meisai offers to take care of this since she has a duty to protect the maidens. Plus, she knows about Kyotouryuu but he hasn’t seen her Sentouryuu. Meisai speeds up and once Kuizame lands, a sudden deep cut is seen across his chest! WOAH!!! After all that cocky and arrogant talk, that ninja just died like that?! He didn’t even see Sentouryuu coming. Shichika returns to Togame who is complaining she practically had been all over the shrine looking for him. He tells her the appearance of Maniwa and asserts the need to be next to her seeing they won’t know the next attack. However she disagrees and shows him the true Tsurugi sword. Explaining her choice to Meisai, she noticed the scars on the sheath and most likely makes it the oldest one. Meisai accepts her decision without any arguments.

Next day, Shichika and Meisai prepare to face off. Once the battle starts, Meisai tosses her Tsurugi at Shichika and flees. He chases after her to a little shrine. Then she u-turns and tries to strike him with her Ittou Ichimonji Kiri strike. Luckily Shichika dodges it. Again Meisai escapes into the woods. Deep in, Shichika sees lots of Tsurugi swords tied to the trees. He realizes the search for the original blade was just to bide time for this setup. A battlefield with 1000 swords. Meisai is confident that with Sentouryuu and Tsurugi combined, her Chikeikouka Sentou Meguri technique is invincible. She gives Shichika a chance to surrender.

Story time. Her father was a commander of a squad in Izumo’s defence corps and from young she was made to believe the invincibility of Sentouryuu as she was taught and inherited the technique. However when war came, the move was somewhat useless. Her father and his followers all perished leaving her the only survivor. She lost everything. Her family, her home, her beliefs. Before she realized it, she used Sentouryuu as a murder tool since Sentouryuu is an art of absolute self defence in which you don’t arm yourself. Tsurugi also follows this same principal. Soon she joined the bandits and the boss was the owner of Tsurugi. She rises through the ranks in no time and became bandit chief. She continued her life killing others. She had known about Sanzu shrine as a sanctuary for weak girls. She wondered why the Gods never helped her so she strangled the priest. But his last words were to forgive him for not being able to help her and also to forgive the girls as they have done no wrong. That’s when she realized and thought deeply the reason she fights and lives. Then she returns to the bandit’s hideout and slaughtered all her comrades and return to the shrine to inherit that priest’s dying wish. She has been fighting for those girls since. That’s why she can’t lose.

Since she truly believes Kyotouryuu cannot beat Sentouryuu, Shichika advises her that when laying traps, it is best not to set near your home (he learnt his first lesson while trying to trap a wild animal but Nanami got caught since it was set nearby). Shichika is confident to test and see if Kyotouryuu is really inferior. He dashes out of the woods and back to the inn they are staying. He knows this place does not have any traps set because Meisai had to look out for them both. Meisai doesn’t admit defeat but requests that if he does manage to take Tsurugi, she wants him to obtain a guarantee from the Shogunate of the future of those maidens and at least send someone who is kind and knows their way around people’s hearts to take care of them. It might sound that Meisai is contradicting herself by not admitting defeat but she figured it’s fine if she loses this fight. Her thought of using the poison of the swords to save the maidens but it didn’t work and ended up more poison than cure and she couldn’t part with the sword. That’s why she’s been waiting for someone like them to come and smash that pointless hope. She then pulls up Tsurugi from the ground and Shichika can tell this is the original one because he can feel its soul. He also says the swords choose their masters but do not choose who to slay. Tsurugi chose Meisai just like how Shichika chose Togame. Finally they both face off. Just when Togame arrives on scene (she totally missed the entire action. Now what is she going to write in her report?) but sees Meisai lifeless and Shichika’s fist covered in blood. Looks like Kuuchuu Ittou Okumoji Kiri was no match for Kyouka Suigetsu.

As Meisai’s bodyguards watch over Meisai’s body, Togame promises to obtain a guarantee for this shrine and its maidens’ safety from the Shogunate. Shichika and Togame leave so he wonders what will happen to the shrine since the maidens are now unarmed. Togame notes it will return to the way it was before the sword got involved. Then shouldn’t Meisai have done that from the beginning? Since she held one of the Deviant Blades, she would’ve been consumed by the poison of the Shikizaki swords. She couldn’t have been able to let go of it unless it was forcefully taken. Shichika wonders if Togame would give up Kanna and Namakura if he had lost. She couldn’t say and gave an excuse she was confident he would win. Shichika feels nostalgic for the shrine’s steps because he won’t get a chance to hold Togame like that anymore. She got embarrassed and was about to give him her Cheerio but tripped as they both tumble downwards. It’s a long way down…

Episode 4 – Hakutou Hari
Togame hurriedly returns to the inn they are temporarily staying. As usual, her usual complaints about her meeting with the messengers that the Shogunate sends. They are supposed to settle here for a while and wait reports on that Sabi guy but it seems Togame has already received a letter of challenge from the person himself. A duel for the Deviant Blades. That’s straight to the point alright. Shichika feels it’s ironic such a straight an old fashioned guy betrayed her and the Shogunate he was loyal to simply for the sword. After all, he was touched by the sword’s poison. Togame’s thoughts wandered as she thinks Shichika was able to kill a woman (Meisai) easily because he grew up on a deserted island and doesn’t know desire for women. If he doesn’t distinguish between men and women, why has this sword fallen for her? She is snapped out when Shichika asks about people leaking information that they have 3 of the Deviant Blades. They also talk about Sabi’s Deviant Blade, Hari. It is thin, frail and above all a beautiful sword. It’s going to be hard to get it without breaking it. But Togame doesn’t want him to be concern with the sword and concentrate fully on Sabi’s swordsmanship since he has the reputation of being Japan’s best. It is also said that he can cut the moon in half! However Shichika doesn’t want Togame praising other swords in front of him. He has his pride as Kyotouryuu. Shichika’s hold on Togame’s collar bone seems to be sending pain. Or is she feeling… After letting go, Shichika wonders if defeating Sabi would mean earning the title of Japan’s best. Since the fight will be on Ganryuu Island, Shichika wonders how Nanami is doing.

The Insect Squad comprising of Kamakiri, Chouchou and Mitsubashi, all heads of the Maniwa Ninja Corps are talking about the recent deaths of the other heads and how things are going down since their betrayal. If things go as it is, it will bring disgrace to their reputation. Their ultimate aim is to take down the head of Kyotouryuu and divide the Deviant Blades among themselves. They arrive on the uninhabited island where the Yasuri household resides. Their plan is to capture Nanami as bait. Kamakiri volunteers to do the job while the rest waits. He leaves them his red crystal orb and if anything happens, they’ll have to complete the task.

Kamakiri spies on Nanami collecting vegetables. She is lamenting how lonely she is when Kamakiri lunges at her with his claw technique, Tsume Awase. However the next thing he knows, he is chained to the tree, his claws and poison molar removed while he was out! I guess suicide is out, eh? She tells him about Koumori’s body buried nearby and gives him a choice: Keep quiet and die or talk and die. Oh sh*t. Is that even a choice? Though she doesn’t really mind which he picked, she would prefer the former since judging from the situation she has a good idea of what is going on and there isn’t much she needs to ask. Firstly with Maniwa coming to this island, she guessed that Shichika’s sword hunt is going well. Kamakiri says though he has never met her brother, she presumes that he must be stronger than her. However she wonders about that since it is about a year since she had a proper contest with Shichika. So the earlier move she used on him wasn’t really Kyotouryuu but a disarmament counter called Patrinia. She wonders how many of them are on the island so Kamakiri only mentions himself with the reason that they don’t have enough manpower to send more soldiers after a single girl. But she knows kidnapping her isn’t just the end of their plans and wouldn’t be surprised if there were more men. She guessed that it would be the same number of swords Shichika carries – three. She is straight in telling him that he should tell about his comrades’ skills and techniques to help her and NOT his situation. She adds that when Shichika was young, he has this habit of biting his nails despite her telling him to stop. To prevent him from doing so, she extracted all his fingernails. He never bit it ever since. However she wants to try the opposite for Kamakiri. Taking his claws and sticking it in his mouth, she wants him to bite. Kamakiri tries to stall for time so that he could surprise attack her with another Tsume Awase but she sealed his movements with her kimono. Then she stabs right through his mouth!!! His dying eyes reminded her of her father’s and how he decided to make Shichika the head of Kyotouryuu by passing this technique to his son and not her. It’s not because she’s a woman nor have a weak body. But rather he is unable to raise someone as exceptionally powerful like her. Meanwhile as Shichika rows to Ganryuu Island, he remembers fighting Nanami only once and lost. He wonders who is more powerful, Sabi or Nanami.

The orb breaks into half so Chouchou and Mitsubashi become alerted that something may have happen to Kamakiri. They’re trying to reason maybe the orb just broke! But they have to face up to reality. Chouchou thinks he’ll go next and wants Mitsubashi to stay behind and watch. He feels Mitsubashi should be the one surviving among the Insect Squad since he’s the youngest. Chouchou continues that after this mission, he is going to marry since in their business there’s no telling when they’ll fall. That lucky woman is Oshidori of the Bird Squad and one of the 12 heads of Maniwa. Chouchou thinks of taking a smoke but remembers Oshidori dislikes smoking he gives the cigarette packet to Mitsubashi for safekeeping. They both take a piece of the orb each and note that Insect Squad will always be together.

Seems Nanami could sense Chouchou’s presence seeing that he is alive and erasing his existence is not possible. Nanami learns of Kamakiri’s name and Chouchou learns that she killed him. He is not going to let her know anything more if Kamakiri himself didn’t tell her. He tells her his priority is to take her hostage so that they would diminish Shichika’s fighting spirit. Chouchou gets ready into a fighting stance that the Kyotouryuu and Maniwa founder once fought together. However Nanami isn’t taking any stance. She gives off a creepy smile and says she has never taken a stance in her life because she’s a deviant of Kyotouryuu. To her stances are useless and from his stance, she can tell his next move. And if she would give her own ‘stance’ a name, it would be Zero Dance: Fig Tree. They both lunge towards each other but Chouchou’s Ashigari (literally means light feet) allows him to swiftly evade Nanami’s attack. He explains the basics of this move that allows him to ignore gravity no matter how heavy an object is. Chouchou brags his amazing technique but what amazes Nanami is the time he spent perfecting the technique that was probably being handed down by generations. She also mentions about Tsume Awase and somewhat feels jealous. She’s sure that they could never understand the feelings of one who doesn’t know what it feels like to make an effort. As Chouchou starts off with Ashigari, he is surprised Nanami catches up with Ashigari! Impossible! Then she stabs him with her Dandelion move, which is an exact replica of Tsume Awase! Lamenting how jealous she is that they are able to put effort into everything she reveals that her power is said to be exceptional and deviant. Mutsue tried to contain it as a father and swordsman and never thought her Kyotouryuu. So how did she master it? She was always watching them train. She has this ability to remember a move after seeing once and master it after the second time. Observing and seeing is her training. She thanks him for showing everything and finishes him off.

Mitsubashi wanted to come out and help but felt torn if he should. Then he sees Nanami coughing and takes this opportunity to throw a Makibishi Shidan bullet into her back. There is poison but it’s not lethal. Mitsubashi introduces himself and their goals to collect the Deviant Blades. But personally he wants to kill her but will not because that will be satisfying his own vengeance. He will avenge his comrades’ death by collecting the swords. Nanami notes how talkative he is seeing that anyone would do so if they feel they have an advantage. He sticks another bullet into her chest just as precaution. Then as he approaches her and is about to finish her with his sword, Nanami escapes using Ashigari and throws back one of the bullets into Mitsubashi’s arm! She reveals she was never in pain and was all an act and have mastered his move (she did warn him about shooting the bullet the second time). She took out the bullet with Tsume Awase. Mitsubashi notes that he can’t die with his own poison but she says she laced it with Kamakiri’s poison. Nanami adds that poison no matter how little or lethal is nothing to her as it’s an everyday experience for her. No matter how excruciating or painful, her body just wouldn’t choose death. Rather it won’t allow her to die. Her parents were just stumped each time they see her in pain or close to death. Taking out the other bullet from her back with the claw, she continues her envy for others who can feel pain. She takes the sword and gives him a choice of his death: By poison or the sword. Oh, this is the first time she has seen someone using a sword. Mitsubashi wants to die by the sword since he can’t face his comrades in the next life if he dies by poison. He also has a favour and wants his body buried with his comrades.

Elsewhere we see Shichika and Togame enjoying a feast of dangos and red bean soup over Shichika’s victory by the skin of his teeth over Sabi! WTF?! WHAT THE?! Where the hell was the much anticipated awesome fight we’re supposed to see?! The one where by a passing shark was cut into half like a hot knife through butter, the one whereby the rocks of the mountain were like cutting through snow, the one whereby the ocean split into half! Where was all that I saw in the previous episode’s preview?! And here I was so expecting it and instead of the usual sword hunt, we had one focused on Nanami. Don’t we feel cheated? Yeah, the island is somewhat decimated too. They are talking about the cool and impressive moves Sabi made in the close battle and Togame’s strategy that also played a pivotal point. They also discuss his masterpiece technique called Hakutou Kaigan only made possible with the combination of Hari. So the rumour that he can also slash the sun in half isn’t such a farfetched idea? Togame feels Shichika can be proud he faced Sabi and won and now has the title of Japan’s best. However Shichika is bothered with Sabi’s last words. Something about Kyotouryuu was left behind by Shikizaki himself, Kiki’s bloodline and Sabi even calling himself as an incomplete failed creation. Togame believes that it’ll all become clear as they continue their journey. They are amazed that they are able to obtain Hari without even scratching it a bit. With their boosted morale, Togame decides to get the next sword at Satsuma. It will be Yoroi which boasts unparalleled absolute defence and the owner is the captain of a pirate ship. Shichika notes that Sabi wasn’t as strong as Nanami. Nanami is seen praying at the buried bodies of the Maniwa ninjas. A narration that they danced like a butterfly, stung like a bee and consumed like a praying mantis but died like bugs. Nanami notes how all that boasting hardly made those moves ultimate and it has a huge weak point. She feels she should go tell Shichika before he ends up in trouble and wonders if she should join the sword hunt.

Episode 5 – Zokutou Yoroi
Back in Owari, Princess Hitei receives message of Shichika and Togame’s progress from her subordinate Emonzaemon Souda. She is not happy she is made to wait. She further learns ever since they’ve defeated Sabi (the title of Japan’s strongest was bestowed to him by her), lots of challengers popped up to fight Shichika for the title, thus the delay (nobody beats Shichika of course). However it’s not like they’re stopping here anytime soon and are on a role to find the next sword. It’s understandable since Shogun Kyuu couldn’t even find one. They talk about Shichika as the sword himself and has never even been scratched once in every battle. Hitei is excited to see how things develop.

In Satsuma, a sword match in Obon is underway and being watched by the crowd including Shichika and Togame. Hey, is it legal for a guy to be totally concealed in tough shiny armour? The armour guy, Kanara Azekura, the captain of the Yoroi Pirates taunts his challenger for his consecutive victories as fluke. But he is not fazed and charges. However his sword broke in half upon contact with his armour. The winner is clear and this is the man will be Shichika’s next opponent. Shichika thought he wasn’t using a sword but Togame says the armour is actually, Yoroi, the Deviant Blade that was modelled after a western armour. The duo then decide to find a place to stay. They relax in a mixed hotspring famed at healing wounds. Togame admits that she was pretty worried if Shichika would be able to protect himself but after winning every duel without a scratch, she is pretty convinced. I guess soaking here is meaningless for him, eh? By obtaining Hari, now they can take their time collecting the other Deviant Blades and perhaps in a ‘dirty’ manner too. Then she also admits because she had been betrayed before and had failed twice, she has her doubts if Shichika would be loyal to her and run away after obtaining the swords. However she is convinced he wouldn’t. He thought it was cruel of her to think that way because after all, he had fallen for her in the first place. In fact, he has fallen in love more and more each day. Well, it just doesn’t show. I mean, a naked couple soaking together in the hotspring. Nothing much exciting happening, eh? She has him stand up to check his body. Ahem, ahem. But I guess her comment about his big muscular body was just a cover for something ;). See Shichika looking puzzled? I guess that’s the sign there isn’t that kind of flame we’d expect to see in their love.

Back in the inn, they get down to business by discussing about Yoroi. Though hard to tell from a distance, the joints of the various armour parts are made of sharp blades. Its primary purpose is defence instead of offense. Since Shichika still isn’t allowed to damage the sword, Togame has come up with various ways to get Yoroi. First option, they can sink the person down to the bottom of the sea and pick up the armour after he dies. Second choice, they can use something hot to roast the person inside. Shichika is appalled at her devilish ways but if they’re going to use backhanded methods, wouldn’t it be easier just to attack him when he’s not wearing the armour? It would be but Azekura never takes off his armour. At least not in front of everybody. Also nothing Azekura’s bigger body size than Shichika, he’ll have to come up with his own way to fight him since Togame isn’t a strategist in martial arts. Togame has Shichika step on her body and head to massage those tired bones and muscles. Yeah, feeling good, isn’t she? Oh, those ambiguous moans. Hope she doesn’t turn into a masochist.

They are interrupted when Azekura wishes to see them outside. He knows their background and mission to collect the swords very well and knows they are here to collect his. But he isn’t going to just hand it to them. He says to hurt others, one must be prepared to hurt oneself. So if he steals from others, he also must have the resolve to be stolen from. The same goes for killing. Togame thought he got his men surround the inn but Azekura only came alone. It doesn’t help when Shichika is spacing out. Has he been hearing what they said all the while? Anyway Azekura isn’t going to just give Yoroi to her because that will mean showing obedience to the Shogunate. Pirates have always been anti-establishment and anti-government, right? He asks what she would do if she manages to tear the armour off him. She replies she would return to Owari first and by boat since it is near the port. He lets her know that if she was successful, she can’t be confident that his men will just let her escape the area easily (Azekura is well known in this part). Togame is impressed he already has his plan laid out. He then challenges Shichika to a duel. He will order his crew and people to stay out of their fight. Of course he has a few terms. If you thought acknowledging pirate activities was his wish, well, you’re far off. He wants her to make him look good as all fights will be held at Obon because he forbids private fights. Fighting there would just mean business and having a fight with Japan’s strongest swordless swordsman (oh, the oxymoron) will rile up the audience. It may be turning Shichika into a piece of attraction but it’s the price to pay to get Yoroi. Togame says that if they beat him, in addition to obtaining Yoroi, they’ll get a safe passage back to Owari. Azekura is surprised that Togame is asking for his reward should they lose. I mean, she is saying that they will not win too? She was pretty confident he would ask for their Deviant Blades but to her utter shock, he wants her to be his woman!!! Yeah, he doesn’t need the other swords as Yoroi is more than enough. Looks like he has fallen for her. Now is this what you call love at first sight. Not like what Togame told Shichika to. Togame is left to reflect on Azekura’s words because he did mention if she loses, she’ll still benefit as he’ll take over Shichika’s job and help her out from the bottom of his heart. Oh Shichika, don’t you feel jealous? Does he know what jealous means?

Next morning, Shichika tries his Red Blossom and Green Willows move on Togame. The impact bypasses her body to break her mirror behind her back. I guess this is his armour piercing technique but Togame is shocked to learn that he uses it with his instincts to land the hit. So it’s by luck! And he hasn’t thought that far if it will kill her! I think Shichika may just know the meaning of jealousy because he teases Togame by pulling her obi, tripping her feet and pulling her hair! That’s bullying! He thought it was just calling even for hitting him each time. Sure it’s not jealousy? Yeah, Togame didn’t even have time to finish explaining if she has accepted Azekura’s proposal (she had already decided during the talk then). Even if she does sound confident and bragging, Shichika ‘bullies’ her. Shichika thought of this idea that Togame secretly cooperates with Azekura and his pirates while they continue collecting swords. Togame notes it wouldn’t work since a pirate like him would like to monopolize his women. Plus, he may see Shichika as an obstacle though he has desires to fight him as Japan’s strongest. As for Azekura’s love, she thinks there may be a catch. He is after all a pirate. Shichika is confused because he thought she’d trust him if he were to help her out of love. Togame couldn’t answer and calls Shichika childish. As for making Azekura his replacement, it all depends on the match. If Shichika dies, he dies. If not, perhaps he could go back to live with Nanami. But that is not what Shichika wants but if she says so… Suddenly Togame Cheerio him on his feet because of his weak resolve and is this how deep is his attachment to her. They are interrupted when they receive a letter.

Not from Azekura, but Houou of Maniwa (of the Bird Squad and the leader of the Maniwa heads). Togame isn’t really trusting this guy since she had to bow her head in shame to many since she got betrayed (ironically she trusted his letter to come and meet and talk). Houou is willing to cut off an arm just for her to listen! And he did so to prove his point! As Houou learns the demise of Insect Squad isn’t of their doing, he notes the leaders of their group have been halved in the short span of 6 months. He proposes a temporary truce and avoid fighting each other for the swords (it’s a 3 way battle between the duo, Maniwa and sword owners). Togame isn’t bent on this plan because they’re after the same goal. Though it’s true but Houou says their method is different as they would be happy to obtain 2 or 3 swords. He proposes they will search in the opposite order of what she is following. Given the lack of info, Togame feels it’s worthwhile to leave Maniwa at large for a while. If they do succeed in getting them, all she needs to do is steal it. Plus if negotiations break down, Houou will fight her here and now. Something both of them can’t afford. Togame reveals the name of the next Deviant Blade she plans to search: Kanazuchi. If Maniwa searches in other places, it should be no problem. So the alliance, or rather temporary truce is formed. In return, Houou tells her the other places of the other Deviant Blades: Mutsu’s Mountain of Spirits (Shireizan), Tendou in Dewa and Lake Fuyou in Edo. Togame is stunned when she learns Hitei has begun to move. Houou doesn’t exactly know what it is but whatever, he suggests her to deal with it quickly. He signs off by correcting her that her Cheerio catchphrase is wrong. Togame got so embarrassed that she ran up and down the mountain, here and there (even in denial)!!! This is the longest tantrum she has ever put up! And she thought by being some intellect strategist means she’s a smart woman, eh? Well, nobody’s perfect. She even wants Shichika to confirm that she’s correct but he too had known all along she was wrong! Oh, the embarrassment, the disgrace. How many bystanders have seen her saying that? Probably lots of them. She gets concern about Azekura’s thoughts of seeing her use Cheerio on him (for the record, she said this word very often ever since in Saitama). Yeah, he may think she’s an idiot. She lets out her final frustration by giving Shichika a Cheerio punch in his gut. In Azekura’s lair, he thinks back when he was young and was playing with his sister onboard a ship. Pirates attacked and killed everyone. He was the only survivor because they wanted a chore boy and made to polish Yoroi. Five years down the road, the drunk pirates suggest he put on the armour. They never lived to see the next day because Azekura never forgot his sister’s murder and kills them all. Watching Togame brings back unpleasant memories of his sister.

Next day at Obon as both warriors prepare to face off. Azekura suggests he surrender so that he could leave this arena unharmed. Shichika remembers Togame’s order not to kill or permanently incapacitate him, making his duty difficult. As the match starts, Shichika quickly uses Red Blossom and Green Willows. However his move had no effect. After all, Yoroi is a defence armour, right? So any offense will not get through. Azekura makes his move and all Shichika could do is dodge. Shichika is contemplating if he should concede victory since Azekura is more skilled as a sword however was snapped out by furious Togame. She is upset she never gave him permission to do so but win. She gives him her piece of mind and as far as she is concerned, a man who can’t show his face to a woman he has fallen for is worthless. There’s no way she would trust such a man. And what fun would there be in travelling with a guy if she couldn’t get into a hotspring with? If a technique of Kyotouryuu didn’t work, he still has other skills, right? If he doesn’t have armour, he has got a body her forged like steel for 20 years. If he had really fallen for her, then he’ll protect her with brute force! That really nails it. Shichika gets his confidence back and moves to his Lily stance. He realizes he was careless to lose sight of his simple nature and thought too much lately (he was bad in this, remember?). It’s Shichika’s turn to taunt and challenge Azekura to steal Togame. But that won’t be so easy because Yoroi is made for defence. Azekura unleashes his ultimate move, Touzoku Kamome (Blade Gulls) and charges at him. The impact was so great that he is pushed out of the ring. But Shichika manages to stop his charge. Then he holds him up with his bare hand. As Togame notes, even without his clever moves, he is strong enough with that tempered body and was relying too much on Kyotouryuu. Shichika thanks him for making him realize that though he may be a single sword, he is also a single human. As he tosses Azekura in the air, he warns him not to touch his woman! That’s the way it should be. Azekura is knocked out and the winner is clear.

As Togame and Shichika depart, they are being told by a crew member how Togame resembles Azekura’s dead sister. If she was alive, she would be the same age as her. As for Azekura, he wasn’t heavily injured and is back up to normal (I guess there’s a first time for everything. The first Deviant Sword master Shichika didn’t kill). Though it will take some time for him to show himself in front of others after hiding behind his armour all this time. Shichika notices he didn’t come to see her off but Togame feels it is better this way so as not to give a rejected man false hopes. As for why Shichika knew her Cheerio was wrong, he heard it from his dad but since Togame was saying it so boldly, he thought he remembered it wrongly. Togame gives him a Cheerio punch and looks like she’s sticking with it. But little do they know, Azekura has set the direction of the boat to the cold lands of Ezo has revenge for his rejection.

Episode 6 – Soutou Kanazuchi
The complex geographical location of Ezo and harsh environment has made it unsuitable for living. Shichika carries Togame on his back as they trek up the snowy Mt Odori to see the Itezora clan. Togame’s hair is frozen and hard as ice! Yeah, she’s complaining that she’ll die in this cold! Shichika teases that as a strategist, her ‘schemes’ are just guesses since she has not much detail on this clan. So cold that Togame couldn’t pull off her Cheerio punch. Hitei discusses with Emonzaemon about Togame who probable knew that she is making a move and thus she went straight to Ezo. Hitei mentions Ezo is designated a disaster area not because of the mountain but rather its inhabitants who are also the owners of Kanazuchi. Togame feels that if she dies, she wants Shichika to carry on using her Cheerio catchphrase as his! Now way! Shichika couldn’t believe she’ll die. Besides, he can’t do anything without her. She disagrees as she has taught him everything she can. She reflects her meaningless life because being with him made her realize true happiness is to be a mother and bore and child. She’s talking about this kind of things? Suddenly Shichika collapses. His body feels weird. He can’t move. Looks like frostbite got his legs. He is going to sleep so Togame tries to slap him awake. They are saved by a little girl, Konayuki Itezora who carries them away in her arms with ease.

Meanwhile Houou meets up with the remaining heads of Maniwa: Oshidori, Umigame, Kawauso, Pengin and the shapeless (more like invisible) Kyouken. Houou reports his alliance and the demise of the other heads. Oshidori thinks they should search in other locations than those Houou mentioned but Pengin says the sword in Shireizan is no longer there as somebody came, laid waste to the place in half an hour and took the sword. Houou thinks Kyouken should make her move but she is no longer around. They think she is after Shichika and Togame so Houou and Kawauso go after her or else the alliance will fall apart. True enough, Kyouken is racing to Ezo to avenge her fallen comrades.

Togame and Shichika are recuperating in Konayuki’s cave. Shichika is impressed of her strength. She has to or else how would she survive in this harsh winter. Togame wants her to be their guide for her clan but she mentions Itezora clan has recently been wiped out by an avalanche and she’s the only survivor. As for Kanazuchi, Konayuki make it sound like she knows it but apparently she doesn’t. Well, she’s a child after all. She thinks the mayor’s eldest son might possess it because he is the only one with a sword. She offers to go get it for them since she knows the village like the back of her hand. Despite her loss, Konayuki seems so cheery like nothing happened. Shichika wonders if she’s being nice since she is lonely but Togame wonders why he recognizes the pain of others and if he could fight Konayuki when it comes down to it. He thinks it will be easy. Konayuki is seen crying at the avalanche grave. As Togame and Shichika huddle closely, she still pesters him about the wrong usage of her Cheerio. She then has him tell her other thinks that he know that she doesn’t. He surprises her with the information that he killed his father and knew that she is the daughter of the rebellion leader Hida (he got this bit from Koumori). Then she was about to say something embarrassing so she tries hiding it by pinching his cheeks. Then she gives him new orders never to reveal those facts to others except her. Shichika surprises her with another question of what she plans to do after getting all the Deviant Blades. What will she do with him. She couldn’t answer him not as an excuse but rather because she wants to concentrate on getting the swords. But it seems Shichika had fallen asleep! And that lengthy from-the-heart speech was for nothing? Well, he was pretending to be asleep.

Konayuki returns and rudely wakes the duo up by pushing them off the hammock! She shows them Kanazuchi but Togame is puzzled and doesn’t think this is it. However Konayuki is pretty sure it is since the documents she read from it ascertains the sword. Shichika wants to have a look at the sword so she tosses it to him. As it lands on the ground, it creates a large crater! Shichika find it hard to lift it but affirms this is the real Kanazuchi. Togame remembers that Kanazuchi is the heaviest Deviant Blade created and the strength of the Itezora clan only makes them able to wield it. Which means… See how Konayuki flings the sword around with ease!!! However she is modest with her strength because among her clan, she is the weakest and always comes up last! Oh dear. However she can’t just give it to them because the document said those who wish to take Kanazuchi must challenge it to a duel. So Shichika prepares to take on Konayuki in the snow. He tries hard not to injure her because they need her to carry it down the mountain. As Shichika pulls off his Kyotouryuu move after move, Konayuki is agile and cheery, like as though she’s having fun. Shichika evades her move in the air but she surprises him by changing the sword’s direction. Upon contact, Shichika’s bone breaks! Togame stops the fight and thus this is the first defeat Shichika experienced ever since their journey.

Kyouken has arrived on Ezo and can’t wait to make this the grave of a certain pair. Houou and Kawauso are also hurrying as they talk about Kyouken’s fickle behaviour. Houou mentions about Kyouken’s ability to jump into minds because a long time ago, an individual named Kyouken died. However that technique is only limited to females. Needing to prevent the worst case scenario whereby Kyouken dies and the alliance is ceased, Houou thinks Kawauso may need to die. He has no qualms because after all his life being a ninja, that’s the only thing he hasn’t experienced. WTF?!

Back in the cave, Konayuki apologizes to Shichika because she never thought he was this weak! Insult? To make it up, she goes out to hunt rabbits. Togame also feels guilty that this is her fault. She thinks he is having a grudge that since now he is a broken sword, she will consider him useless. However he is fine with it. He feels he lost because he underestimated Konayuki but is also unsure if he could win even if he was prepared. It’s her swift decision that saved him because he could’ve been killed if the fight continued. He laments he failed to protect himself but Togame continues to apologize that she miscalculated and doesn’t intend to consider this as his disloyalty. Though it’ll be a month before Shichika’s arm heals for their rematch, Togame thinks Konayuki has been lying about them being worthy. Her loneliness drove her to want to make them stay longer as company. Konayuki is at the grave and ‘talks’ to her clan and knows it is bad to lie and will apologize to them later. But she wants their company a little longer since she is lonely. Point to ponder: If Itezora was such strong people, how did a mere avalanche killed them all?

Shichika and Togame thought they heard a commotion outside the cave but to their surprise see Konayuki subduing Kyouken with Kanazuchi! Kyouken is still bent on carrying out her revenge but Togame points out she is no condition to kill her with that injury. Since Shichika points out that he too lost to Konayuki, Kyouken thanks her and touches Konayuki’s hand. This has Kyouken transfer her soul into Konayuki’s body as her original body turns into dust. Kyouken is happy to receive this strong body as she swings Kanazuchi around with ease. Togame understands how she has lived for so long and that she’ a resident mind. Shichika gets Togame permission to kill her. Seems Kyouken not only can take over minds but their memories as well. She sees devastating visions of Itezora clan’s wipe-out. She attacks Shichika and lets him know that in addition to taking over memories, she inherits them and is confident with 2000 bodies inside of her, she has many years of experience and skills compared to him. However Shichika feels something and decides to confirm something. Using his Plum move, he successfully lands a blow on her. It’s because her movements are now easy to read. Konayuki was tough because she was an amateur but Kyouken is an experienced assassin. As Kyouken approaches Togame, Togame orders Shichika to kill her brutally if she ever gets taken over. She lets Kyouken know her hostage strategy will be futile because her body strength is on par with a sliding paper door and could even lose to a rabbit! Woah! She confidently admits it. Kyouken readies to defeat Shichika with her Twin Dog Blade by holding the other tip of Kanazuchi. Togame understands why this sword is called a pair because there is no obvious top and one can use either end freely. Shichika lands several blows on Kyouken with his Falling Blossoms Scattered Leaves move to kill Kyouken. Shichika’s theory worked because he only attacked Kyouken’s tattoos and since it vanished, it means Kyouken is dead while Konayuki is still alive albeit unconscious. Togame notes this is the first time he made his own decision not to kill his opponent. Though Kyotouryuu is a single sword, he is also human. She thought of waking his human side and make him find his resolve as a human and not a sword or else he won’t be able to overcome obstacles. She thought she had done everything in the last 2 months was merely to dull his blade. After all, she doesn’t know how to handle this sword although she is his owner.

Houou and Kawauso appear before them and looks like their worst case scenario is confirmed. Not only Kyouken is dead but Togame’s trust in them has eroded as she has called off the truce. Houou explains they are here to stop Kyouken who moved on her own accord and would like to take responsibility this time. Kawauso offers to use his Record Tracer technique (something similar to Kyouken’s ability but only with inanimate objects), which is useful in gathering the swords. Since Togame still refuses to trust them, Houou has no choice but to slice off Kawauso’s head!!! A Maniwa head, losing his head. Haha! Togame is appalled by his actions as the head of the Maniwa but he mentions the group doesn’t need one because a ninja merely lives and dies. He hopes she will overlook this minor violation for their alliance since with only 4 heads left, they pose no threat to her. And if she still refuses, he will fight them now. Togame swiftly agrees and wants him to get out of her sight as soon as possible. Houou lets her now that Shireizan’s sword owner has changed owner and that she has to do deal with it quick and is heading towards Shikoku.

Konayuki manages to bring the sword down to the shore and load it on the boat. She apologizes for lying but the rest are okay with it. Konayuki promises to bring the sword to Owari and her new home will be at Sanzu shrine since her ancestors were originally from Izumo. Once more, Konayuki thanks them for playing with her because she really had fun. Shichika and Togame sails to Shikoku and Togame misheard Shichika had a change of heart and has a thing for little girls! Why should he turn into a lolicon when he has a beautiful lady like her (perasan!)?! What Shichika actually said was the feeling of regret. Though he defeated Kyouken, his lost to Konayuki still stands but Togame brushes it off as an amateur fluke and that loss doesn’t count. He shouldn’t worry about it. And as for the change of heart, Shichika says it is impossible because he is her sword. But if he insists of concluding her fight with Konayuki, at least do it after they’ve collected the Deviant Blades. Emonzaemon is on the same boat eavesdropping their conversation.

Episode 7 – Akutou Bita
Flashback sees how Nanami slaughtered all the guardians at Shireizan at Mutsu. She felt sorry for Bita being treated like a deity because it’s being placed in a little protected altar. Breaking the shrine with ease and taking the small and light Deviant Blade, she has this evil smirk to do something evil! Because she is unable to recognize humans, she sees them as weeds. And when a ‘weed’ touches her feet, she ‘tramples’ it to a bloody death! She thinks of waiting at some obvious place in hopes of meeting Shichika. While slashing her way through the holy monks (it’s like they just flew to her to die!) Nanami remembers the haunting words of her dead parents that she’s a failure in life and should have died. But Nanami isn’t bothered so much so she can even scare away the ghost of her parents! After all, they’re just her memories. Is it?

At the Seiryouin Gokenji Temple in Tosa, Shichika prepares to face off with Nanami! Seems Emonzaemon had led the duo here to face Nanami. He is staying to watch to witness up close to see what kind of sword she is carrying. Nanami wants Shichika to fight her seriously to the death since his stalling has got the ‘spectators’ bored and started chatting. Shichika doesn’t want to hurt her so Nanami thinks he has gotten soft. She wonders whose fault it was. The Deviant Blade owners or Togame. It would be easier if she handed over the sword, right? Well, she considers herself a sword and went through the trouble of obtaining a Deviant Blade because she thought he needed a reason to fight. So if he wants it, then fight her. She believes their father didn’t bring him up to prioritise his owner over his sister. No choice, Togame starts the match. As Shichika charges, Nanami evades every hit with no sweat. Then she tells him about her eyes which are able to absorb the skills of everyone. When Shichika unleashes his ultimate Hachiretsu move, he is thrown up to the ceiling. He wonders how she pulled this move off since her arms are thin and small. She reminds her about Konayuki’s brute strength. Togame realizes that she was the one responsible for destroying the Itezora clan (now their demise makes sense) and has obtained the strength of a full Itezora adult. Shichika is upset because of her destruction of the village (why on Earth would she do that?), Konayuki is all alone. She mocks him that as a sword, does he wish to choose who he cuts? She felt she has made a mistake to entrust Shichika to Togame. However Togame says it is up to her how she uses her sword. Nanami relates how she felt lots of enemies on her way here and has absorbed all their abilities. She also came here to tell him the weakness of his Hachiretsu. Because seeing he had become a coward, she changed her mind and is glad the opponents he faced are weak. She feels he isn’t worthy enough to fight her. Shichika dives at her but she uses a combination of Red Poppy and Daphne striking technique to pin him down. She mentions she could’ve killed him 272 times before he hit the ground. But he feels it is impossible to pull such insane move because of her weak and fragile body. Nanami strops her top kimono and shows them Bita embedded right in her chest! The embedded lightning-charged dagger forcibly heals her body’s weaknesses so she now has no blind spots or weaknesses. She goes away and tells him to come back once he has improved.

Flashback about a month ago. Togame and Shichika wanted to head back to Owari but decided to head to Shireizan to find the culprit. Upon landing at Tosa, they meet Emonzaemon who tells them the culprit is currently occupying Gokenji and she is Nanami (they showed a visual of her killing all the monks and the ‘big boss’ like a video game!). Emonzaemon also reported this to Hitei about Nanami’s slaughtering. She is surprised that Nanami could do that even without a Deviant Blade. This miscalculation involving Kyotouryuu doesn’t look good since Emonzaemon’s analysis had him conclude he is no match for her. But they can’t turn a blind eye since she has Bita. So she throws a question to him what would he do if he was forced to face her. He would stall for time to let Hitei escape. Meanwhile Houou also gets word about Nanami’s doing from Pengin’s info. Seeing they can’t risk anymore lost of heads (mind the pun), he hopes the strategist will take care of her.

Togame tries to talk to Nanami about handing over Bita without a fight but Nanami feels it is unfair to bear a grudge towards her because she entrusted Shichika to her. She never thought Togame would treat him so humanely. She feels back on the island he was a sharp sword but a rusty one now. Togame doesn’t like her saying horrible things about breaking him but on the contrary Nanami notes that Togame also have undertake lots of horrible killing in her journey. Looks like a fight is unavoidable. Togame goes back to give Shichika a Cheerio kick for lazing around for days! Actually he is depressed. Seriously. Viewing this as troublesome, she has him lie on her lap and re-educates him. The reason why he never told her that Nanami was stronger than her was because she wanted to be her sword. He was afraid she might choose Nanami instead of him. She chides him for the thousands of defeat she faced but unlike him she didn’t sit around and do nothing. In the end, she came out tops. Shichika still feels embarrassed about his loss to Nanami so Togame slaps him (without the Cheerio) but loses her footing. Still she doesn’t like his disgraceful depression and hesitation. She asks him if she would fight Nanami again. I guess the tears in her eyes settles it. With motivation, he confidently says he will. With that, Togame will lay out her plan and first they have to start by examining Hachiretsu’s weakness.

As observed by Togame, Hachiretsu isn’t really a hybrid of 7 techniques at once but rather a combination of one technique in succession after another. She points out the fourth technique, Ryuuroku Kako has a major flaw and cannot be used in the combo. She even acts it out to let him see how it fails badly! I thought she was doing a weird dance. Anyway that armour piercing technique may nullify an opponent’s defence but its movements needed to perform it makes it obvious to opponents and easy to defeat once they know. Nanami deliberately did a hybrid move to hint him and went soft on him. That’s why she probably let him go and expected him to improve before their rematch. As for her eyes, Togame also have a plan for that. Shichika thanks her at the end. Togame notes that it is up to him now to settle things but can’t help wonder why Nanami is taking a roundabout way and forcing her brother into a duel that he can’t win. She believes there is something amiss with her excuse of no reason to fight. Nanami looks up at the moon and wants Shichika to hurry in the rematch and kill her like how he did with their father.

Shichika trains hard to find a combination that works or at least minimizes the gaps in his techniques. As mentioned by Togame he can make 5040 possible combinations with all his 7 techniques! And if he uses Ryuuroku Kako first, he can reduce it to 720! Good luck trying out all. Togame talks to Nanami and the former tells her about Shichika wondering a sword needing to own a Sword. Nanami feels he has gotten over his depression since he can come up with such a cheek remark. She also tells her the reason why her father was exiled. In addition to avoid Kyotouryuu fighting against the Shogun, seems Mutsue was accused of killing his own wife. The real truth is shrouded in darkness. Since Nanami’s mom belonged to 1 of the 6 Sengoku feudal lord families, Tetsubi, Mutsue should’ve been executed but seeing he was a hero, he was let off leniently. So what is she trying to tell Togame? It’s alright for the Yasuri members to kill each other. Nanami looks forward to see Togame’s plan in work and is confident whatever her schemes, she will not get past her eyes. But Togame is also confident she can evade her eyes and beat her. But Togame says the rematch will not be in the dojo but in front of the Buddha statue.

Before the rematch starts, Shichika gives her a final chance to hand over Bita. Rejected! Then she thanks him for killing Mutsue but at the same time felt bitter because she wanted daddy to kill her since there is no point of her living. So he wants her to kill her for real. She wants Togame to start the match but she feels this is the last time they may get to speak to each other. Nanami thinks her strategy involves stalling for time. In Togame’s heart, she begins her countdown. Suddenly all the lights went out. So this pitch dark is how Shichika will avoid her eyes. Yeah, be amazed by Togame’s precision in making all 300 candles burn out at the same time! Shichika lands his improvised ultimate technique, Hachiretsu Kai right in Nanami’s chest. Togame lights up her lamp to see Nanami motionless on the floor. Shichika takes out Bita from her chest and tosses it to Togame. However Nanami is still alive. With her body back to her fragile state, looks like they need to call a doctor.

Nanami then gets up (she has a gaping hole in her chest! Like a Hollow!). She thinks she was naïve. She reveals Bita was just regulating her strength, dulling it by rejuvenating her life force. As for her eyes, it was just an excuse because she was trying to become weaker by using the strength of others and live a little longer. Now she wants Shichika to kill her. Togame tries to tell her there is no more meaning for them to fight but Nanami cuts off Togame’s hair! Wow. New short haircut look! So shock that she drops her lamp as the fire spreads through the temple. Shichika is super upset and can’t forgive her. Nanami uses this to mock him and increase his rage meter. As both siblings duke it out in an aerial battle faster than the naked eye could catch, Shichika in tears lands Hachiretsu Kai through her chest. Nanami narrates her body wasn’t able to withstand her full strength, that’s why she’s copying techniques to become weaker. She is glad that he killed her and praises him for a kill well done. As Nanami lies lifeless in Shichika’s arms, Togame reiterates Kyotouryuu isn’t a style that doesn’t use swords but rather a style that absolutely cannot use them.

In the aftermath, the duo talk about how Nanami wanted to be killed instead of some farfetched reason to drag Shichika involved or such. She was so powerful that her body wasn’t made to fight. So much a prodigy that her body was weak. Does this even make sense? Shichika feels she wanted to be killed by Mutsue and Togame notes she loved her father as much as he did. Taking a ship back to Owari, Shichika gets permission to touch her hair. He notes they both have no families now but she reminds him that they have each other. She gets embarrassed by his smirk and starts using her Cheerio.

Episode 8 – Bitou Kanzashi
Togame and Shichika arrive back in Owari. Shichika starts laughing at a flashy house like as though its owner is an obsessed attention seeker. Well, it’s Togame’s house actually. She’s not going to let that one pass… He is made to sit and watch the house (an excuse for him to get use to it) while she goes to the castle. As Shichika explores the rooms, he finds it empty. Then he practices outside the yard but is visited by Emonzaemon. He is here to get him because Hitei wanted to pass some info about the Deviant Blades. But it seems when Togame returns, Shichika gets an earful for accepting Emonzaemon’s invitation because if he didn’t come, she could’ve used it as an excuse to go home and not meet Hitei. As the duo meet Hitei, the princess starts laughing her heart out and teases Togame over her new haircut. Once that is done, both women confront each other head to head (literally) and start their b*tchy challenge of trampling each other while remaining invincible. Both refuse to give up. Both feeling confident. I’m sure Shichika must be confused seeing all that. However he is surprised to learn that it’s just a greeting! As they get down to business, Shichika wonders about Emonzaemon. Hitei points he is in the attic because his face makes her down and has him wear a mask. Anyway Hitei has information not on the Deviant Blades but rather Shikizaki. It seems there is a Shikizaki workshop at Lake Fuyou. It is said there is something called Biyorigou roaming the lake protecting something, most likely the workshop. As they leave, Togame notices a pair of weird guns at her place though Hitei dismisses it as decoration. Togame offers to throw it into Lake Fuyou but that wasn’t necessary. Shichika can’t help stare at Hitei on his way out and was yelled by Togame. Meanwhile the remaining Maniwa heads have a discussion and Umigame is to collect a Deviant Blade at Shinano though there is not much information on it.

Emonzaemon leads the duo to Lake Fuyou. Togame is in a dilemma whether to be carried by Shichika since her feet are sore and she can’t risk being seen. After much pestering, she agrees only to have Emonzaemon look back. She gets all red when he grins. I guess it’s back to walking, eh? So once they arrive, Emonzaemon leaves. Togame is glad now it’s the 2 of them but Shichika is slow to understand its meaning, infuriating her. Well, Lake Fuyou seems to be a giant dumpsite. Is this the ‘lake’? As they trek through the wasteland, they see a mechanical doll with multiple limbs, each with a sword. That is Biyorigou. As observed, if you want to live here, you better not make any movements or sound in front of this doll. See how the mouse stopped in its tracks when Biyorigou appear right before it? Though Togame doesn’t have time to settle with Biyorigou, finding Shikizaki’s workshop would help them a lot for the remaining swords. That’s mean they’ll have to defeat Biyorigou. But in order to come up with a plan to defeat it, she must know how it works. Shichika tries to sneak up behind but Biyorigou spots him and starts swinging its sword. Shichika manages to evade but he realizes that the doll itself is the Deviant Blade. That’s right, this is Kanzashi.

Umigame runs into Emonzaemon on his way. The latter knows about his search for a Deviant Blade at Shinano. Umigame is surprised he even know which sword was there (Juu). Was there. He warns if he gets any closer to it, he will learn its historical truth, something an underdog like him can’t handle. Anyway Emonzaemon is going to kill him now. Umigame tries to stall by giving excuses. When Emonzaemon is in a close range, Umigame unsheathes his western sword and breaks his Japanese sword upon a mere touch. Emonzaemon tosses away his swords and tells him he was once a former ninja. From Aioi Corps to be exact. However that clan has been destroyed 170 years ago by Maniwa. Emonzaemon uses his Aioi Kenpo called Hairouken to move so fast and appear behind Umigame, making him sweat in his pants. Then he uses Shinobazuhou Ikasazukorosazu move to kill Umigame. Later Pengin reports the death of Umigame and Houou feels this could only be the doing of Hitei’s subordinate.

Shichika and Togame are staying for the night at an inn. They talk about the different designs of the Deviant Blade and it’s like Shikizaki had too much freedom in designing them. Then Shichika asks about Hitei’s origins and why they don’t get along well. Well, she is just like Togame in the sense their origins are unknown and perhaps they just don’t like each other. Togame starts thinking that Shichika likes Hitei and pours water over his head. However he admits he is interested in Hitei because she is Togame’s enemy so it’s natural he must know her. I guess that reason is good enough. Meanwhile Emonzaemon reports to Hitei about his accomplishment. About Shichika’s sense of swords, Hitei wonders if that is true because he didn’t sense hers (the gun). She feels she wants to play around with him a little more since she’s bored. Back to Shichika and Togame, the former wonders if Hitei knows Biyorigou is a Deviant Blade. Togame suspects she does and didn’t tell them at first probably she thought it would be interesting to see her get torn apart without realizing it. But why is she helping her still? To steal all the credits at the end or waiting for her to fail. Togame also feels she is the same and gives out a creepy laughter. Anyhow, they need to concentrate on what’s at hand first.

Next day, cheeky Shichika moves around to ‘disrupt’ Togame’s note-taking task since she is using his body as a shield from the sun. Biyorigou passes by but Togame doesn’t want Shichika to fight it since their plan is to find the workshop first. Back at the inn, seems Togame has been sketching a map of the place. Shichika notices curvy lines within the map and tickles Togame for answers! This is actually Biyorigou’s path. Shichika thought Biyorigou walks randomly and stops from time to time to ‘sunbath’. Judging from it, she thinks the workshop is somewhere in the middle. So the plan is to dig a big hole in its path. As the duo wait, Biyorigou walks into the trap and starts falling in. However one of its legs quickly plants itself firmly inside the ground and propels itself over the hole. Plan failed. Oh, it stops to sunbath again. On the way back, Shichika is blabbing how his Kyotouryuu is meant to fight human opponents. So fighting dolls whose movements he can’t read is futile. It’s just like fighting with Konayuki. Togame takes it as a sign he plans to rely on her scheme again. But when he mentions her plan just failed, she turns a little crazy (including the laughter). She assures him that she will defeat anyone or anything in any situation with her schemes alone. He doesn’t need to worry and will educate him. She won’t let him sleep all night. Eh? Because tomorrow’s the showdown.

Next day, Shichika fights Biyorigou while Togame watches and places her trust in him. Shichika remembers Togame’s ‘tutoring’ last night that he is only allowed to use strike moves and not hit its head or chest to force it to defend itself and keeping it unharmed. Togame’s observation on the doll’s design outside also means that she has an idea of how it works on the inside. Yeah, very accurate. Because of that, Shichika is able to evade Biyorigou’s extra and hidden surprise swords (especially the one from the mouth). After all, in this way a doll is much more predictable than a human, right? So Shichika stayed up all night to memorize Biyorigou’s movements. Both sides pull off combo techniques and it feels like Shichika’s plants moves versus Biyorigou’s storm-like techniques. Shichika remembers how his dad told him that they are both swords. And swords must remain sharp all the time. Now he understands what it means. As a sword, he doesn’t need to have emotion, think or have any sense of justice. He felt he was like Biyorigou not long ago. Not doing anything except being commanded to hunt swords. That’s why he could kill without a second thought but as a sword without a will of his own, he wasn’t able to defeat Nanami. Biyorigou is just following the commands of Shikizaki he gave hundreds of years ago like he was. He was fighting like Biyorigou then and didn’t find it fun. Ironically, though Shichika couldn’t see Biyorigou as anything more than a sword, the doll sees him as a human. Biyorigou drops it swords and uses its legs like a helicopter propeller, causing huge wind (as predicted by Togame). It even targets Togame but Shichika was fast enough to carry her away in his arms. At the same time, Shichika also mentions he believes in Togame and that he obeyed her out of his own free will. Even if his body is broken, he will still protect her. Not because she ordered him but because he decided from the bottom of his heart as a human. He may be a sword but he also has a human soul. When it’s time to settle it, Biyorigou loses power since it has run out of fuel while Shichika kept it occupied. Shichika rushes to grab Biyorigou before it slams into the ground but to his surprise finds it very light. He thought he saw the doll shed a tear. But could it be the rain? Back at the inn as they pack Biyorigou, Togame deduces it recharges its ‘fuel’ via sunbathing. That is how it is able to go on operating for hundreds of years even after its creator’s demise. So the question was who would run out of energy win: Shichika or Biyorigou. Shichika thought it was fate that she was sure his body would outlast but she says that fate is something one decides oneself. That’s why she believed in him. Shichika somewhat feels sorry for the doll but Togame thinks he shouldn’t empathize with it since it is one of the Deviant Blades. But she feels she has no right to say that since Shichika is also a sword. Then she wants him to say that believe-in-you phrase again but he is rather reluctant.

Hitei receives Biyorigou as she mentions Kanzashi was modelled after a woman Shikizaki loved when he was young. She notes Togame and Shichika aren’t coming back to Owari since they are staying behind at the lake to look for more clues. She wonders if the workshop would have any information so Emonzaemon says that Houou told her about the location of a sword in Tendou and perhaps to ascertain that fact. Hitei want Emonzaemon to assassinate Houou. Meanwhile Shichika is made to dig to find the workshop. That’s lots of holes he’s dug… He finds a heavy chest but Togame doesn’t want him fooling around and continues his digging. He throws it away and it seems there are lots of gold in it. Oh, wasted chance… I guess this isn’t their fate, eh?

Episode 9 – Outou Nokogiri
In Dewa Tendou Shougi town, Togame beats Zanki Kiguchi (the 12th generation and head of the Shinou Issou School) in shogi so the latter must face Shichika in a duel for the Deviant Blade, Nokogiri. However Kiguchi chides Shichika for making an insult to fight a sword duel without a sword. No choice, Shichika picks up one but was blown away when the match starts. I guess he really can’t use any sword. Later Shichika apologizes for wasting Togame’s effort but as she explains, Nokogiri is the only one of the Deviant Blades without the Shikizaki poison. That’s why it’s king. Shichika gets a Cheerio in his gut when he praises the opponent he lost to (about her sharp aura and all). He asks if she has any plans she can come up with. She notes all her previous plans relied on his strength and it would be useless if he is now considered weak. About Kiguchi’s shogi skills, she would’ve been truly formidable if she didn’t devote herself to the path of the sword. Recently she had just become the head of her family and would probably be around Shichika’s age. The talk shifts to Shichika noting he knows Togame is younger than him but gets a Cheerio in his chin since she thought it made her look like a child. She teases him he may like her new hairstyle and teases him with it. Then Kiguchi enters to see them in an ambiguous position. She feels the earlier fight was not fair as she never knew Shichika was that weak (hey! That’s an insult!). She proposes he studies directly under her tutelage and face her in a rematch once he is strong enough. Meanwhile the remaining Maniwa heads are in a cave and before them is Mekki, brimming with evil aura. Houou attached his left arm with Kawauso and could feel the aura. It’s not that the sword was preserved or sealed thus keeping it from rusting, but because of the environment its ominous aura was kept from leaking out. Houou warns Oshidori never to draw this sword.

Shichika talks as though he is looking forward to train with a sword, something his dad or Nanami would never do. Togame feels irritated like as though he is complaining but with a smile on his face. Apparently she is jealous since another woman is involved. She notes her ordinary methods can’t work on Kiguchi seeing she is too uptight and honest (it shows the kind of woman Togame is, eh?). In a way it makes her inhuman and the reason why her dojo no longer has students. Besides, her name Zanki means “Slay your heart’s demon with your heart”. Next morning as Shichika makes his way to the dojo, Togame doesn’t want to tag along seeing she’ll be a burden. He goes off and Togame becomes pissed because he accepted her reason without a fight! Women. Can’t understand them. Shichika is made to clean the dojo and to use formalities. Later as Togame decides to visit the dojo thinking Shichika may be lonely on his first training. From her position, she sees Shichika and Kiguchi kissing each other! Kiguchi spots Togame running away but doesn’t know why. Actually, Kiguchi was trying to take a bug off Shichika’s head. Since she doesn’t preach killing, she lets it free. Togame is going crazy about what she saw though she is still in denial about this is not her business. Oh yes. It is very much her business. When proper sword training starts, we see Shichika sucks so much that he couldn’t even hold the sword properly (keeps slipping off his hands) and his stance… It looked bloody odd. I thought he had constipation… Worrywart Togame waits for Shichika’s return and when he does, she pretends to be asleep. Shichika mentions how he likes the training though Kiguchi’s method is strict. Now Togame’s jealous tone kicks in. She can’t help say about his turnaround for a person who hates and couldn’t use swords. Shichika mentions about Togame’s presence today but she denies and says he must’ve mistaken her for someone else.

Shichika continues his training. Each time Togame peeks, she sees them in a bloody ambiguous position! Going crazy by the second? One evening when Shichika returns and his usual praises about the Shinou Issou School. Togame seems down and lets him know about dinner. Seeing that she was waiting for him to return, he mentions he already had dinner with Kiguchi. Togame snaps and throws a tantrum that he got too close to that woman to even have dinner with her. I guess Shichika must have learnt how to deal with her by now. He says Kiguchi’s food was frugal that he didn’t feel full so he prepares to have a second round dinner with Togame. As they start, Togame brings up the topic of his training (she should have known better). Since he went on singing praises, she gets pissed off. See how rough she is eating? On another training day, Kiguchi tries to correct Shichika’s position but he trips and fell on her. As usual Togame saw everything the wrong way. I guess this is her limit because this time tears start flowing out from her eyes. On the 10th day, Shichika seems happy before going off to his training. Gloomy Togame notes he must be loving it but the actual fact he says there is no improvement! Togame ‘understood’ why he didn’t improve. To make things worse, he says going to the dojo is fun and despite how badly he is doing, moving his body feels great. Oh sh*t. I wonder if this is the most painful Cheerio he got.

Kiguchi feels there must be something wrong with her method since Shichika isn’t improving. Maybe it’s because he’s her first student. She dismisses the fact she is different from other Deviant Blade owners he met. She knows of Togame’s mission but still couldn’t let go of Nokogiri because it represents her dojo and identity. She reveals Nokogiri wasn’t in her school’s hands during Kyuu’s hunt and only came into their possession during the 8th head. Besides, the inheritance of her school is not by blood so the previous heads are not related to her. Because she’s an amateur and rejected the way of the sword while devoting her life to shogi, her behaviour has caused many fights between herself and the previous head. When her grandpa died, she had to leave behind her shogi life and inheriting a dojo with no students is the least thing she would want to do. But when she held Nokogiri, she felt something overwhelming through her body. It may be this sword that she may have become a more upright person. Even grandpa noted he felt reborn when he took up Nokogiri. Then mentioning about the love life, each time she looks at Shichika and Togame, she can’t stop that feeling which she threw away welling inside her. Shichika feels there is nothing wrong being a sword but what can swords accomplish at this age? She is certain this school will die along with her and that clinging on to this tradition since she’ll be the last generation may just be lingering affection. Shichika somewhat understands her feelings. He thinks her school is a way of life instead of death but she notes that she only wields that way of life only in name. Because even if Nokogiri is just a wooden sword, it can still smash your head, break bones, crush organs at the very impact. Only difference is that it cannot cut. In reality it deals death as much as any other.

Hitei is talking to herself. Pretty much badmouthing a certain unpleasant woman and no matter how many times Hitei is defeated, she’ll rise up to her current position and thinks all that strategist can do is just come up with schemes. Elsewhere, Houou is explaining how Mekki’s focus is on its poison and starts laughing at the irony of things. Togame has collected 8 of the Deviant Blades while Maniwa has whittled to a pathetic state and only securing 1 of the swords. He won’t say they are equal but will view Mekki as a bargaining tool. Houou hasn’t completely master Kawauso’s technique yet so he has not many details on the other swords. As they prepare to leave to Shinano where Umigame died, Emonzaemon is waiting outside for them but the Maniwa heads throw a smoke bomb as cover. However Oshidori stays back while the rest escapes. Emonzaemon feels unsatisfied with her as his opponent as he had come to assassinate Houou. He knew they were having Mekki beforehand and not because he overheard their conversation. She had a gut feeling that he was the one who killed Umigame. Oshidori starts attacking with her Eigouben (Infinite Whips), stealing his swords. Emonzaemon counters it Hairouken but is surprised it did not work against her. Oshidori is confident her whip works as an offence and defensive barrier and as she is about to strike him, Emonzaemon pulls out Juu and fires several shots into her. She lies dying in her final breath thinking about Chouchou as Emonzaemon notes how she did well in carrying out her duties and is more honourable than himself who has abandoned the ninja ways.

Happy Shichika returns with yet another satisfied look on his face, learning something new. Yeah, another Cheerio kick to his face. He isn’t happy of her constant attacks lately (he’s too dense to realize a woman’s feelings). She chides him for putting too much effort in the training and have no more pride as Kyotouryuu. Well it was her idea, right? Plus, he admits that he is getting along fine with Kiguchi. Well, they have lots in common. Both recently became heads of their forgotten schools. Togame couldn’t take this anymore (what’s with that “Kiiii!!!” phrase?!) so she turns into her devil self. Yes, she has already come up with a scheme. Reminding him about his first defeat to Konayuki, so what is her plan this time? He’s going to win by fluke! What?! After all that cool and potential talking, all she came out with is just a fluke? No wonder Shichika is shocked. Shichika would love to avoid using dirty tricks to fight Kiguchi but teary Togame is appalled that he may have fallen for her! It’s that tantrum mode again. She points out she knows about his ‘training’ at the dojo and can’t stand his erratic nature anymore. Shichika still couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with her since he’s been doing what she told him for the last 10 days. Then when he thinks that something bad might happen, Togame starts apologizing profusely that it may be her fault for sending him away training and thus drove him away from her. She got the wrong idea when he said their talk is already over. Now panicky as ever because she has lots of things she wants to talk to him, she returns to her normal self when Shichika mentions the talk was referring to her schemes. Seeing her schemes rely on the premise he is a complete amateur, he can’t be called so now since he trained directly under Kiguchi. She apologizes for her mistake and kisses him on the lips! She may have got the wrong idea again. Shocking! So shock that Shichika forgot everything.

Kiguchi is still against Shichika fighting against her since he is not up to her level but Togame manages to convince her that no matter the skill difference, once you take up the sword and face each other, you are all equals. Kiguchi agrees with a condition that if she wins, Togame must completely give up on Nokogiri. They start off with a best out of 9 shogi matches. Though Togame lost the 9th match, she still won overall 5-4. Before the sword match with Shichika starts, Shichika wants to give his thanks to Kiguchi. Lots of ambiguous lines here… He’s saying she thought him a lot and though a terrible student, he felt it was a good experience. Likewise Kiguchi has learnt more from the experience and though she has no qualifications to teach, she apologizes for not providing better results in the end. She wants him to slay his heart’s demon with his heart. It’s amazing Togame didn’t even flinch during all that. Anyway, Shichika is holding the sword the wrong way… Did he really learn? As the match starts, neither made the first move. Suddenly Togame starts saying shogi move co-ordinations.  This catches Kiguchi off-guard as she instinctively reply with her own shogi co-ordinations. She realizes she is being thrown off her concentration and the reason she lost the 9th game was so that she could make the first move. Noting Shichika doesn’t know how to play shogi (the reason he is ‘unaffected’), Kiguchi tries hard to stop thinking but can’t. Suddenly Shichika lands a blow on her head before pathetically tripping (including a pathetic scream). And thus Shichika won the match in an undramatic and anti-climatic fashion.

Shichika later understood Togame’s psychological warfare tactic, something he feels he is weak at. But she tells him to keep his focus on battles which is his domain of experience. But even if Togame intervened during the match, shouldn’t it be foul play considering Kiguchi’s strict nature? Of course it is but the one who was foul was the referee, right? Besides, in this holy town of shogi, nobody would call a foul on the game. Shichika remembers Togame’s incredible move in the shogi rematch in which she won in just 42 moves. Likewise when Kiguchi battled him using his proper Kyotouryuu, he instantly defeated her barely only using Hyakka Ryouran. She apologized for her rudeness in treating someone with his skills as an amateur. Though she feels it’s like a curse for someone to become weak after wielding a sword, she hands over Nokogiri since she is no longer qualified to hold the sword. On the contrary, she also has obtained enough strength from it. She hopes they will visit again and fight. Till then, she will watch over this school’s legacy. She signs off with a lame pun about legacy and herself as a poster girl (“Kanban” = legacy; “Kanban Musume” = poster girl). Hahaha… And what’s with that cutesy smile we never expect to see on that serious face???!!! It’s like she just came from a maid café… Shichika and Togame discuss about Maniwa and won’t be surprise if they have gotten hold of a Deviant Blade now, though she is still not impressed with them. She then ponders why Kyuu wasn’t able to obtain Nokogiri seeing it is a sword without poison and only used as training. The sword hunt’s official purpose was to build the Sword Buddha but its hidden purpose was to eliminate all swordsmen and collect all the Deviant Blades. Was there another deeper and hidden meaning to his failure? Togame feels he shouldn’t be bothered by this and forget about this. But how can he forget something he heard just like that? Well, she ‘threatens’ that she has a way to make him really forget. Oh, look at those luscious lips… Shichika’s face turns red like a tomato!

I guess this is the most comical episode ever, the episode with the most tantrums thrown by Togame, the most envy displayed by her and the ‘steamiest’ one. Yeah, a little fanservice positions and the kiss… Oh, now I understand about the concept of slaying demons in your heart. Once you get rid of the evil intent inside, you won’t kill or hurt. That is the main principle the school stands by. Maybe that’s why she has zero students. Yeah, everybody these days are bloodthirsty.

Episode 10 – Seitou Hakari
While digging, Togame remembers the horrifying day when her father was killed by Mutsue. So shocked that Shichika may have thought she just died. This strange occurrence started 3 days ago when they arrived at Hyakkeijou in Oushuu, Togame’s hometown that she has not returned since she left. This was the place all Hida’s followers were executed though it is a barren and empty land void of any life. Togame could still feel the effects of her trauma. Shichika thinks they should head to the nearest town to find Hakari’s owner, a holy man named Rinne Higaki. But she notes Rinne is here but just hidden from them. Suddenly a spunky little girl appears before them and claims she is Rinne. Soon she turns into Hida (but the form now is like a mirage projection). She knows Togame is here for Hakari and agrees to give it to her. Only thing is, it is buried 30 metres beneath where she is standing and she must do the task all by herself. Then she disappears. Ever since, she has her traumatic visions. Though gloomy and weakened, she still picks herself up to dig. Shichika thinks she should rest and couldn’t watch her being like that. It’s like as though she isn’t the sly schemer he knew and is being cornered. She tells him off not to watch then.

After she leaves, Shichika is suddenly transported to a jungle-like area and confronts Rinne (in girl form). He wants to know why he buried the sword. She felt it was a hassle and plain rude to throw it away since she got it from her friend. Shikizaki himself. So how old is she? 350 years?! Shichika has this feeling he has seen her before so she tells him it’s because of how he’s seeing her. It’s the projection of his memory. People look past her own existence and see a perception of their own memories. Even with her around, they don’t exist. That is what a holy man means. She continues by giving a fairytale example of the magic mirror in Snow White, the mirror that always named the most beautiful person other than the evil queen herself. Shichika doesn’t believe since mirrors don’t talk! But the point is, it’s not the mirror’s answering but rather the queen’s true feelings responding to her vanity. In short, a holy man doesn’t do and can’t do anything. So it’s humans who actually carry out the task. Then she transforms into all the female Deviant Blade owners Shichika has met. Three of them whom he has lost to at first. She knows he is feeling regret and guilt. Looking at his own memories is recognizing the parts he doesn’t want to face. People change their memories to suit what they’re most comfortable with. However when you face the holy man, you have to face your darkest memories, like it or not.

Meanwhile Houou and Pengin are making their way to Oushuu. Pengin wonders who Emonzaemon is and if Houou knows him since he sounded he knows him from long ago. Though Houou knows he serves Hitei, he can’t be that person since he died a long time ago. Plus, he was a respected and a ninja with pride. Of course there aren’t many ninjas that hold such pride today, including them. If they manage to negotiate and get all Deviant Blades from Togame, he thinks of retiring from active duty to bear responsible for losing 10 of the Maniwa heads. He will leave it to the next generation to lead and he indicates Pengin because well, there won’t be anyone left after Houou is gone. They make their haste so as not for Emonzaemon to catch up and attack them.

As Shichika watches Togame dig, Rinne pays the bored guy a visit. He suddenly changes into Kiguchi. He is taken back to the time whereby it is a day after he won Nokogiri. Shichika and Kiguchi fought a hand to hand combat and Shichika thought he had her cornered with his Bellflower move. But she surprised him with a few moves of her own and broke out of his grasp. The only thing was she was at her limit and admitted her lost. Then they talk about their different school concept which probably made Kyotouryuu weaker if wielded a sword, therefore in her eyes it was like a curse. Suddenly the scene changes to Nanami. She is saying she is a sword and this is what happens when a sword tries to use a sword. Shichika is overcome with fear till she disappears. Back in reality, he understood the curse of Kyotouryuu being a sword that couldn’t use a sword. Then he asks about Rinne’s arrogant personality seeing that she comes from his perception and memories. Well, it’s Togame’s since they both saw her at the same time. He wonders if Togame also had something she is weak at so Rinne replies everyone has something difficult to deal with or they don’t want to remember. Later as he massages Togame’s aching muscles, that personality stems from her dad (which includes forcing her to do manual labour). Before he died, he said something important to her which she is surprised she had forgotten. Then they huddle close together.

Hitei is discussing with Emonzaemon that Togame must be in Oushuu by now. She also notes his failure in assassinating Houou. He mentions if Togame gets Hakari, the final stage for all Shikizaki’s Deviant Blades to be assembled. However Hitei doesn’t want him to make it sound like she is a descendent of Shikizaki or kept track of each sword and stayed a step ahead of that unpleasant woman to collect them. Which of course she isn’t (at least to her). She orders Emonzaemon to look into the relationship of Shichika and Togame in relation to Hyakkeijou because when they were here 10 days ago and being told about Hakari’s location and owner, they seemingly acted strange.

Shichika tells Togame what he learnt from Rinne and also his advice to her of facing the part she’s avoiding or else she’ll never remember. Shichika feels he has to fight Rinne though he couldn’t find a reason. She allows him (it’d be good experience to go head on with a holy man…) and if he ever finds that reason, do tell her. Shichika soon faces off with Rinne who is letting him know that she is weak, like as though it’s an excuse to lose. But on the contrary it’s a fact that he can’t win against anyone weaker than him. So as they start the fight, Rinne is able to avoid all his moves with grace and ease. Shichika realizes she isn’t fighting and has no intention of doing so. As Togame digs, she remembers her dad telling her he has failed. Mentioning history is about proof that humans lived to their fullest and should look the way it should be. However he spent too much time correcting those errors and now his role is over. Then he hid her in a room and believes she will not die according to the history he imagined. According to the samurai code, he should have killed her but couldn’t do it. Then Mutsue enters and gives him his death sentence.

Rinne analyzes their fighting strength and that Shichika’s ranks much higher than hers. But his strength is split into offense and defence and if she concentrates all her strength into defence, his attacks will not penetrate. Then she tells Hakari’s focus is an absolute defence and is the truest Deviant Blade. Shichika didn’t like her making him remember memories he’d rather avoid. She says it’s fun harassing people (?!). She continues that Togame said this fight would be good experience for him but she thinks getting any would be futile and he will only end up being unhappy. He may be fighting for close to a year but hasn’t learnt anything. Togame too takes fighting too far. It’s like the concept of life itself is a fight for her. Though Shichika said he fell for her, it doesn’t seem like feelings of love to Rinne’s point of view. It’s more like he sympathized with her. She may not know Togame’s real objective but she feels she is not something worth sacrificing for. Seeing Shichika had killed several people and robbing them from their greatest purpose – life itself (OMG! She said that line “People die when they are killed”. Duh…), from her perspective they both lack resolve. Hakari means ‘scales’ and he needs to consider what he’s doing and how it relates to everything around him. She wants him to tell this to Togame, speaking of which she is taking a break in the hole. Get it? Shichika rushes to Togame but along the way he sees visions of Konayuki when she first broke his arm and Meisai who questioned his purpose to fight. Shichika realizes that he fights for Togame. Screw love or anything else. If it weren’t for her, he wouldn’t be fighting at all. Shichika finds Togame collapsed in the hole but she regains consciousness albeit weak. She asks about his fight with Rinne, which isn’t really much of a fight since she was just running away. He thinks he couldn’t win since his opponent abandoned the fight seeing a fight is an agreement between 2 parties. However she feels there is a big flaw in that strategy and has a scheme to take advantage and defeat her. Suddenly it hit her. She continues digging and finds Hakari, a hilt. Picking it up, Togame sees a vision of her father who then hugs her. She remembers his final words: “I love you”. This brings tears to her eyes.

Rinne congratulates them for finding Hakari faster than she had thought. She wonders if she had kept an offensive mindset while digging, would she have thought that hilt was Hakari. Togame replies Hakari is a sword upon which you weigh yourself, a sword that doesn’t cut people but cuts oneself, test oneself and knows oneself. That’s why it is bladeless and thus swordless. Besides, Japanese swords aren’t preserved by being buried but there is no problem if it is bladeless. Rinne asks about ‘that man’ so Togame reveals it to be her father though she won’t say his name. Wondering if she’s hostile to him, Togame says it’s the opposite and lives for him. As for Shichika not having another go at Rinne, if he had used all his combat strength on defence, Rinne wouldn’t even have to fight. So basically by abandoning offense, even without winning the result will be effectively victory. Togame has always thought that the essence of a sword is in its blade, to cut and doesn’t break easily. But without a blade, you don’t even need a sheath to protect it. If you hold it with resolve, all you need are its hilt and guard to be able to face yourself. So I guess all those painful memories is part of the process of learning themselves more and dealing with their inner demons, eh?

As reward for figuring this out, Togame asks about Shikizaki. Rinne’s reply is that he is somewhat of a denying guy. He somewhat saw the profoundness of himself in Rinne and eventually denied what he didn’t want to face and left. Not before giving Hakari to him. Rinne didn’t want to be poisoned and buried it instantly. Yeah, it was buried a long time ago. As the ages past, a castle was built on it, burnt down and the land turned into an execution ground. Togame realized since Hida Castle was built on Hakari, that’s how her father saw the distortion of history and to correct it, went against the Owari Shogunate and made the ultimate sacrifice, even putting all his friends and family on the line for the sake of history. Rinne lets Togame know something she hasn’t realized all this while. After Shikizaki crafted the 12 Deviant Blades, he went on to forge his final and ultimate completed Deviant Blade called Kyotou Yasuri. Rinne points to Shichika as a Deviant Blade. Not him exactly, but Kyotouryuu itself is a Deviant Blade. They remember and understand now what Sabi told them. But they misheard the part about bloodline, which should be swordline (both pronounced as “kettou”). Togame also realizes that Shikizaki and Kyotouryuu’s founder are from the same generation and there is a possibility they are connected. She also understands Rinne’s strategy of forcing a match into a draw by neither winning or losing for the sake of her objective. But that’s not quite right. Rinne mentions the need to throw away objectives for the sake of your true objective. However Togame can throw everything away except her objective. Noting the stubborn type she is, she could probably live the way she is by forcing her way through. Rinne has her say her father’s last words. As Shichika and Togame walk away, Rinne and the jungle area disappear, returning the land back into a barren space.

Shichika doesn’t feel very much like a Deviant Blade so Togame reminds him that it is Kyotouryuu which is the completed Deviant Blade. This means everybody in his family and generation are one. She starts acting on the lookout because she has that feeling that holy man will appear anything and anywhere, somebody she doesn’t want to meet ever again. Seems their journey has taken them back to Dewa so Shichika thinks of passing through this shogi town again. Togame’s jealousy streak is kicking up again (yeah, we haven’t seen that in this episode) and feels he wants to see Kiguchi. Needing to head back to Owari quick, they can’t pass through here. Shichika then tells her his reason for his fight with Rinne: He is fighting for her sake. This made her embarrassed at first but soon jumps straight to him and wanted to kiss him! However he avoids the last bit because he saw someone lying on the ground. It is Pengin and there is a deep sword cut over his body. He is barely breathing and pleads to them to save Houou.

Episode 11 – Dokutou Mekki
Hundreds of years ago, Shikizaki is watching the eventual founder of Kyotouryuu, Kazune Yasuri practising his sword skills. But he mocks him that he has no talent, his form and lack of intent to kill among others. Shikizaki mentions about his path from perfection to completion. Though Kazune may be an amateur and practising hard, at the rate he is going the war is going to end. However Kazune couldn’t care less about the world and is only interested in honing his skills. Shikizaki admires that in him and also mentions he too has no interest in the world affairs and that he is fighting for history. Introducing himself as a swordsmith and have to fight for results, even though the closer he gets, it still isn’t enough and thinks it’s the problem with the raw materials. So what does he have to do with all this? He is going to take all of Kazune’s passionate effort and make it blossom into flowers. Whether or not the roots will grow will be entirely up to him.

Togame and Shichika are taking a break with the former reflecting their incredible feat of collecting 10 Deviant Blades within 10 months. She thinks it’s due to her strategies and superior intellect! Perasan! Shichika even has a comeback line to say that she actually took them by force. Well, figuring out how to use her sword is part of her strategies so as long as he stays as her sword, everything will be fine. She allows him to play with her hair but he says there’s nothing much to play… Meanwhile Hitei has come to know of Togame’s real identity and she’s not too amused. But whether she knows her or not, Hitei notes she hates her from the bottom of her heart and intends to crush her anyway.

At Oushuu in Dewa, Houou and Pengin come into Emonzaemon. The latter is going to kill them and the way he talks makes Houou feel like as though they knew each other from a long time. Houou is unfazed with his threats and refused to believe he was that person and have changed. Handing Mekki to Pengin, Houou and Emonzaemon trade blows using their pure skill and discipline of the body instead of specialized weapons. Pengin shouts for Houou to use a special move but Emonzaemon also knows that move. Only difference he calls it by another name. Praising Houou as an excellent ninja, even if he is the only Maniwa survivor, he still views their group as a threat and can’t lose to him. That’s because he is him. Admitting he died once but it was mentally rather than physically. His current master denied him that death so he serves her loyally and follows all her orders. Houou replies over Emonzaemon’s remark that he is him. If that is so, he may not beat him but also will not lose to him. A draw? On par? Pengin seeing Houou in trouble tosses Mekki to him. But that proves to be a big mistake because once Houou grabs it, the evil aura of the sword possesses him as he becomes violent enough to slash Emonzaemon. Then he turns to Pengin and slashes him like a crazy blood thirsty killer. So that is how Shichika and Togame found Pengin lying on the ground. The duo change their plans and nurse him at a nearby inn. They hear everything how Houou has gone crazy and is on his way to Iga. Seeing Mekki is in his possession, they need to track him fast and this saves her time to come up with tricky negotiation schemes. But Shichika still doesn’t trust that guy and thinks it’s a trap. Togame explains Pengin’s ninpou and respect is the most feared after Houou in Maniwa. But Shichika still thinks they need to deal with Pengin seeing he is the enemy. Even so, Togame doesn’t like mindless killing and would prefer him to stay alive and consider this as a debt for Maniwa. Something that they could use once the sword hunt is over.

The duo are preparing to head to the New Maniwa village probably in Iga since this is where the Shogunate originally kept its secret service headquarters. Noting the places they’ve visited during the sword hunt, it seems they have almost covered entire Japan! Togame suggests revisiting certain areas so that she could make a living drawing and selling maps! Yeah, she is pretty confident with her drawing skills. But Shichika reminds her they still need to find the last blade. She has a pretty good idea of its location and owner: Hitei. She concludes that Hitei has been proactive about this sword collection and it wouldn’t be strange if she kept one for herself. Plus, with Emonzaemon going around killing Maniwa members, it is logical to assume she holds Juu. The reason she never told them was if she kept a Deviant Blade in reserve, she still has a hand in negotiating with them. Besides, she too may want to take the credit and above all, destroy Togame. Either way, if Hitei is their final opponent, it will be business as usual for Togame. She wonders if Shichika would continue to stay by her side once the hunt is over, seeing she had no right hand man or confidante for a long period unlike Hitei. All those she met were just obstacles and that’s why she trusted no one, destroyed all personal relations she made. She still needs his power despite Maniwa and Sabi gone. The sword hunt may be out but her own fight isn’t. She feels at peace whenever she’s with him and wants him to be her trusted partner. But he cautions his father killed hers. She couldn’t mind because that grudge died when Mutsue was killed, all the more by the hands of his own son. So she has no grudge against Shichika whatsoever. Since Shichika has nowhere to return and Nanami dead, he sees no reason not to unless she doesn’t want him anymore. Besides, he fell for her, remember?

Pengin wakes up from a nightmare while chasing Houou who proclaims himself as Shikizaki. He is surprised to see himself alive and in good condition because from what he heard from Koumori, Togame is rotten to the core and expected at least broken legs so he will not run. Maybe it’s her sword that changed her? Or did he just hear it wrongly from that bias guy? As he is about to leave, Emonzaemon comes into the room. Nevertheless he is going to finish Pengin with Juu straightaway seeing the ninpou he has. However all the shots he fired missed. Is he such a bad shot? Actually Pengin’s ninpou, Unmei Kuzushi (Fate Ruin) makes the bullet dodge themselves. Some may call it luck. No matter how strong the projectiles, it won’t hit him. So to say he’s not invincible if it won’t be a projectile? However Pengin has other skills too and throws a gradually accelerating bouncing ball called Juukyuu. Eventually he can’t dodge it forever and will get hit. Emonzaemon questions if the world will continue to love him hundreds of years in the future like now. Then he fires random shots and one of them hit Juukyuu and explodes, injuring Pengin. I’m not sure what he meant that if the love fate had for Pengin lasted forever, the bullets would have rebounded towards Emonzaemon instead. He concludes his luck did not last hundreds of years into the future at all. Allowing Pengin to have his final words, he begs for his life but he finds it pathetic and fires the gun in his mouth!!! Very heartless shooting a kid. But can you say that when he firmly views him and his ninja as enemies instead of a child that many would easily feel pity for?

Several days later, Togame and Shichika arrive at Iga but see the place decimated and everyone dead. Then they spot Houou and talk in a way that Mekki is fake. Though they didn’t believe this is Shikizaki possessing Houou’s body at first, they soon realize this is true because Houou never jokes. Shikizaki mentions his ability to move from one place to another and finally managed to get a convenient body. Togame thinks Mekki’s focus is like a preserved records of his memories but Shikizaki says it’s like a dose of deadly poison. Noting Houou’s ability to steal parts from various people (this includes their behaviour as well) and use it to lengthen his lifespan, it wouldn’t be a surprise that he got taken over in the end. It’s like he brought it upon himself. Togame could see through Shikizaki’s plan of calling them here. She knows he left Pengin on the ground as his messenger. It was all part of his foresight. You see, Shikizaki is a soothsayer and so is his entire family. Yeah, Shichika thought he just got lucky with that prediction. If you find that hard to believe, then think about this. How in the world was he able to create the Deviant Blades? Yup. He borrowed production techniques he learnt by looking into the future via reverse importing. So while the blades may seem to defy the law of physics, it is so because of the era they are in and that they are just regular Japanese swords exploiting the physics and psychology. So why does a family of soothsayers create those swords instead of giving the best hints about the future as they should? To alter history. Or as he puts it in a better term: To falsify. Well, they wanted to overthrow the original Shogunate in the original history. He adds that the Itezora clan, Maniwa and even Togame never existed in the original history. She realizes her father gave his life for the sake of restoring history Shikizaki altered back to its original state. So what about Kyotouryuu? Well, he’s different. It is a sword he created. The completed Deviant Blade, Kyotou Yasuri as mentioned by Rinne. Kazune, whom Shikizaki considers as his closest friend and someone obsessed with swords rather than the world, didn’t reach his completed state but the foundations he laid weren’t wasted. Now Shichika has succeeded in producing the sword that he is. So thanks to Kazune, forging of the Deviant Blades is now completed. So yeah, Shikizaki is like Shichika’s father, eh? Togame mentions of never expecting to meet the creator at the end. She has met so many people on her journey and even a holy man, she was expecting to meet a ghost! Noting the boring developments it has become, she won’t even mention his name in her reports. Isn’t that falsifying history too? Shikizaki gets into a stance which he came up for 150 years and cannot be dodged. Since negotiations have failed, Togame orders Shichika to attack and plunder! As the fight starts, Shikizaki doesn’t want his ultimate blade to disappoint him. Shikizaki seems to be perfectly dodging every move and though he pulls off his ultimate technique, in the end Shichika manages to dodge it all in mid-air and uses his Hachiretsu Kai right in his gut killing him. That’s it? Shikizaki notes that move isn’t bad and dies smiling. The effects of the evil blade wear off.

As the duo walk off, they wonder if it was really Shikizaki back then or just Houou gone insane. Shichika notes Pengin as the last one left but Togame thinks he’s dead by now seeing the Shogunate has branded Maniwa as traitors and with Emonzaemon on the job, I guess their fate is sealed and Togame can’t do anything to oppose it. Does she sound like she’s sympathizing with them? Well, after watching the carnage of their village, she can’t say she didn’t feel for them. Not just them but everyone they’ve met on their travels. She came to realize how narrow-sighted she was and knew nothing. Shichika’s reply? “This isn’t like you…”. The duo are just several steps away from returning to Owari. Togame wants Shichika to hold her hands before they walk down the steps. She notes how their journey in the past year changed them and it made her experience several firsts. Suddenly Emonzaemon pops up and looks like they have to forgo walking down hand in hand. Togame realizes Hitei has made her first move and predicted they will be passing here. Emonzaemon congratulates her for being a step closer to her ambition but she doesn’t recall having one. Then he notes it may be revenge then seeing she is the former Lord of Oushuu’s daughter and her real name is Princess Yousha. He pulls out Juu and fires a couple of bullets into Togame. Oh sh*t!!! This can’t be!!! Shocked Shichika starts to snap. Wow. Have we seen him with this rage before?

Episode 12 – Entou Juu
Emonzaemon explains because Togame is the daughter of the rebellion leader Hida, he has to complete his job. He also blames Shichika for the battle between Hitei and Togame to end this way. Seeing he has no more reason to fight Shichika, Emonzaemon says he purposely missed Togame’s vital organs so Shichika could hear her last words. Holding a weakened Togame in her arms, an emotionally charged Shichika starts asking her questions that she coolly has answers for. He couldn’t care less about the swords but she realizes how Juu works because she is feeling her inner organs churning up. She is trying to come up with counter strategies but her head is blank. In short, they lost. She wants Shichika to go spread her “Cheerio” around the country (is she joking at a time like this?!). This is as far she can go but Shichika won’t accept this because without her, he can’t do anything. Togame starts recounting her lonely 20 years but in the single year with him, he thought her a lot. She realized, discovered, understood, laughed, smiled, had fun and was so happy with so many things that she lost count. But in the end, she couldn’t change and this is a fitting way to die. Shichika can’t accept all this and reminds her about their plan to travel the country and draw a map. She replies it was all a lie. After the sword hunt, she planned to kill him. Everything was just a tool for her schemes, even her heart. The part that trusted him was just another pawn to her. So what are feelings to her, the feelings he gained for the past year? They’re all pawns. Shichika would’ve killed himself even if she told him to but she says even if words were lies, feelings weren’t. In the end she was the one who got hurt the most. If that weren’t the case, she wouldn’t have schemed. The point of her life, her doing? Even so, she is happy to die in the middle of the road because this way she doesn’t have to kill him and can finally lay down all her burdens. Her final order is to forget everything about her and what has happened and live as he wishes. The contract ends in her death and can stop falling for her. That’s not possible because Shichika really loves being with her. So what is he supposed to do now? She may be selfish and egocentric, thinking nothing but revenge with death only a cure for her stupidity and using him as a tool. But even so, would he mind if she fell for him? Those were Togame’s last words.

Hitei is having an audience with Yanari and is claiming the credit for obtaining all the 12 Deviant Blades. She thought she requested for a private audience but Yanari says they are his trusted subjects and have worked under the Shogun for generations so they are like part of his body. Hitei thinks for him to say this kind of thing, he must be of low calibre. Yanari allows Hitei to speak so she mentions that she is a descendant of Shikizaki. He wants to see evidence so she replies it is foolish to simply rely on physical evidence while making a decision. Letting her continue, she reveals her ancestors as soothsayers rather than swordsmiths to falsify history for the sake of Japan. That’s why the Deviant Blades were forged. Asking if Yanari had ever turned his attention to other countries, she reveals that hundreds of years in the future, Japan will be attacked by foreign nations and perish. This was predicted by the family’s founder several thousand years ago. Their conversation is interrupted when Emonzaemon reports Shichika intruding the castle. Yanari doesn’t think to highly of an insignificant intruder but Hitei knows it’s the end for both of them. Shichika is not to be taken lightly because he was the one who collected 11 of the 12 Deviant Blades so even if there over 1000 guards in this castle, nothing will be able to stop him accept his master, the strategist. Unfortunately as Hitei puts it, she died while collecting the swords. So it’s like he’s going berserk after losing his master. But this may be a blessing and a curse for them because he is necessary to ensure the success of their goals seeing Kyotouryuu, the completed Deviant Blade is part of Shikizaki’s plan. Needing to stop Shichika’s killing spree, Hitei suggests the use of Yanari’s 11 retainers and Emonzaemon, each armed with a Deviant Blade to put the finishing touches on this history.

Shichika is at the castle gates and he doesn’t look like he’s here for negotiation. See how he dispatches all the guards with ease?! Don’t play play! Suddenly he hears the voice of Emonzaemon. He is using his ventriloquism ninpou via crow to tell him that he has withdrawn the guards since the fight is pointless and knows he is here for revenge. He wants him to head straight into the castle whereby he and Hitei are waiting. But Shichika knows he is wrong because he isn’t here for revenge. He came here to die. So let the battle begin!

Versus Hannyamaru with Kanna
Inside the first room, Shichika faces off with his first opponent. Hannyamaru charges but Shichika uses his Chrysanthemum move to catch the sword and breaks it!!! Woah! The unbreakable Kanna is now broken!!! That’s because there is no reason for him to hold back anymore. With a single punch, Hannyamaru is defeated! Astounding!

Versus Furachi Oniyadori with Namakura
The monk guy believes Shichika won’t see his strike coming seeing he has never seen Ginkaku’s slash. However when Furachi strikes, Shichika holds Namakura with his both his fists with a nameless Kyotouryuu move! Then he breaks Namakura while mocking his move was just mediocre! Superb!

Versus Akatsuki Tomoe with Tsurugi
In a room filled with thousands of swords, Shichika dashes through breaking each one of them before landing a fatal blow right in Akatsuki’s chest! Amazing! The reason he hesitated against Meisai was because he couldn’t come to terms with her personality.

Versus Matsuaki Fugi with Hari
Shichika stops his attack with just 2 of his fingers!!! And then breaking it with just a snap!!! He lets Matsuaki learn a thing or two because if he doesn’t swing in a perfect arc, the fragile sword will shatter. His fight was Sabi was a close one because he wasn’t allowed to break Hari and thus his options are limited. So what are his now? No need to even guess. Yeah, another dead body for the count. Awesome!

Versus Kairo Iga with Yoroi
Kairo charges straight when Shichika steps into the room and is bloody confident with his impenetrable defence. However Shichika knows Yoroi’s attributes that transfers any outside shock away from the user by being in contact with the ground. So if he attacks him in mid-air where he isn’t touching the ground or walls, the shock can’t go anywhere and instead the owner receives all the shock. Yeah, it’s a bloody death for that guy in the armour with Shichika’s single powerful punch.

Versus Bofura Maniwa with Kanazuchi
He is of the Maniwa Ninja Corps lineage and is using his ninpou to negate its weight. But what happens if you take that away? What’s the point of this sword then? Yeah, it’s weight is its lethal focus. Shichika throws Kanazuchi back at him at breaks both the sword and user together!!! He mocks him there isn’t a weaker Maniwa than him! Cool! Way to go!

Versus Uron with Bita
Uron thinks he has become an immortal warrior with Bita stuck to his chest. Shichika says just because he can’t die if he kills him, it doesn’t mean he can’t die if he keeps killing him. Using a variety of mixed Kyotouryuu moves and striking in rapid succession, Uron dies 272 times and this breaks Bita!!! Marvellous!!!

Versus Ou Haiga with Kanzashi
It’s 2 versus 1 but in an instant Shichika strikes them away with Hachiretsu revamp! Shichika was able to defeat them easily because Ou was in the way which prevents Biyorigou from showing its full strength. Haha. Doll malfunction…

Versus Kokubo Sumigaoka with Nokogiri
Kokubo is ranting about this meaningless fight, the cruel calmness of the sword and letting Shichika go. Since the latter says nothing, he will grant his death in 1 blow. Shichika shuts him up by replying “Your words are nothing but talk. They don’t move me at all”. He also breaks Nokogiri with a strike to his neck. OMG! See how it contorted the other way!!! Speechless!

Versus Kousha Saraba with Hakari
Kousha laments the sword is useless to her and can’t do anything. Shichika suggest throwing it at him in which she does. He deflects it with his knee to send the hilt back hitting her forehead and knocks her out! I don’t know if her head was hard because Hakari breaks but Kousha was just unconscious! Comical!

Versus Bangai Rogiri with Mekki
How do you deal with a guy who is possessed with an evil sword and going crazy? For Shichika, he releases the guy with a chopping kick right in the head. Thank goodness he hasn’t got a thick skull. Yeah, Mekki cracks too. Magnificent!

Versus Emonzaemon with Juu
Hitei teases that he was rather fast in arriving here. She thinks this is the true strength of Kyotouryuu since he is allowed to destroy the swords now. If he manages to defeat Emonzaemon, he can meet her upstairs at the castle’s keep. If he defeats him. She orders Emonzaemon to kill Shichika but Emonzaemon wonders if Shikizaki’s plan will never come be realized if he kills Shichika. Hitei enjoys seeing Shikizaki’s completed plan as much as his plans destroyed. Either way, she is confident Emonzaemon will show her either one. After leaving, Emonzaemon feels the irony of facing off with Shichika like this. Like a puppet, he only fights for Hitei but the thought of fighting for Shikizaki’s sake is somewhat unpleasant. Shichika disagrees and says he learnt after Togame’s death, it is pointless to fight for both humans and swords. At first he obeyed Togame’s orders without any resolution and after that obeyed her for her sake after finding resolve. If one has to think about it, then one shouldn’t be fighting in the first place. After all, Togame was thinking about herself and selfish. Even so, that’s why he fell for her. Thinking back with all the times with Togame (and her countless expressions!), the match begins. Shichika adds he has been fighting for himself and reveals the reason for invading this castle is to die. Shichika couldn’t think of anyone who could kill him since he was the one who killed Togame. Even if Togame ordered him to live, he doesn’t have any duty to oblige that order anymore. After breaking Emonzaemon’s swords, he pulls out Juu. He starts firing while Shichika is moving at lightning speed. So how did he dodge so many bullets? Well, he didn’t. Shichika resolved to take them all to his body at the start! Remember one of Togame’s orders to protect himself? He no longer has a duty to obey that. I guess that is his true power seeing he no longer has an obligation to protect the Deviant Blades too. So now do you believe his resolve to die? The fight continues at lightning speed so much so you can’t see a damn thing. But the room is scarred and destroyed with their blood tainting every inch and nook! With both sides taking tremendous amount of damage, it ends with Shichika using his Hachiretsu Kai move to kill Emonzaemon and break Juu.

Yanari is panicking upon what is happening as Hitei assures that their wish will come true when Shichika comes upstairs. Shichika throws her Emonzaemon’s mask and relays to her his last words, “Princess, please forgive me for dying for your sake”. Well, she finds that annoying. As promised, Hitei allows him to kill her but he has only strength to kill one more person. Yanari fears for his life and wants Hitei to save him. You think a princess like her has combat abilities? Hitei says he needs to die or else this won’t end. Telling him about Yanari Shogunate that will last a thousand years was a lie just to speak to him since the collapse of Owari Shogunate was Shikizaki’s original plan. It was supposed to be a different Shogunate and Shogun house originally but after preventing them from taking power, Yanari took over the country in a similar manner and built peace across the country. Perhaps it was history self-correcting itself she wonders. She reveals her wish to kill him and that wish will now be fulfilled. Shichika agrees because Togame wasted her entire life because of him. Though she may have reaped what she sow, killing him won’t lift her burden nor make him feel better but Shichika must make an example of him. Shichika tells Hitei a message from Togame to thank her for everything though Hitei denies it. He asks if Hitei likes Togame deep down in her heart but she replies it is more like she didn’t dislike her. Yanari is trying to worm his way out but Shichika kills him with his ultimate Cheerio move that splits the castle in half! Possibly splitting the ground too!

We see the aftermath of places Shichika and Togame visited to collect the Deviant Blades. Some decimated and those with life such as Konayuki living happily at Sanzu Temple and Kiguchi having several students of her own. As narrated, whether it was fortunate or not, history wasn’t falsified as Yanari’s son and direct descendant succeeded the throne as the 9th Shogun. Shikizaki’s descendant’s attempt to alter history, reform the world and destroy history ended in failure. We see Shichika touring Japan and trying to make a map. Yeah, Japan is big alright. We also see Hitei following him (she cut her hair too?). Well, well. She’s a spunky girl now, eh? She mentions how everything started with Kyuu and ended with Togame/Yousha. To Shichika, altering history is like a fairytale and if her predictions of foreign countries destroying Japan do come true, he’ll leave it to warriors of that time to defend. Hitei feels Japan in hundreds of years won’t let itself ruin so easily even if falsification isn’t probably and perhaps a little altering would. Shichika continues his journey but after that nobody heard of him anymore. He may have died or completed the map and sailed to another country but even with everything over despite the historical plan connecting and swords failed, he was there definitely there and lived.

Live by the sword, die by the sword…
Just wow. Sort of lost for words after everything has ended. I mean, it really felt like a long period of time has passed while watching this though I must admit the duration was long enough to make me feel uncomfortable in certain parts of the body after sitting down too long. But this has nothing to do with the story and series actually. Overall, this is quite a compelling and fascinating story if you can get pass the falsifying history part. It may sound farfetched but that is what everything from the swords and the characters boil down and revolves around. I had mixed feelings at the end of the series. It was sad to see Shichika living and journeying alone because I would really have preferred him and Togame to stay together even after everything had ended. However her death was necessary to complete to final Deviant Blade because grief is what makes Shichika the strongest sword ever. The most amusing aspect of this series is definitely the interaction between Shichika and Togame. You’ll never tire of their antics though there are serious times but this is usually left as explanation to viewers on the events and such. Otherwise the duo are quite a comical bunch if I must say. In almost every episode there is a short stretch dedicated in seeing them both together whether it’s spending ‘lovely’ time together or discussing about their next plan-cum-scheme.

You can see Shichika’s change in character as the series progresses. From someone who just obeys Togame and feels nothing as a sword to her, gradually he learns to be more human and you could say that at certain points he even gets cheeky with Togame. Initially he always put up this carefree and happy-go-lucky expression and you don’t see much change in his looks till Togame dies. For once he looked very desperate and cried his heart out. Over the journey he gained more of a human heart and soul rather in addition to increasing his skills. He learns to distinguish human life and not to simply kill and disregard life. Because of travelling for a long time, he also learnt to make cheeky remarks with Togame and also get back at her. See how much a person can change within a year? With him still living in the end, does this prove that only family members of Kyotouryuu can kill each other and since he is the only one left, the only way to die is a natural death, right? Togame is the more lively one of the comical pair. You should hear some of the words she says in her lines. Pretty amusing though quite true. I won’t say that she is silly even if she claims herself as intelligent being a strategist. But sometimes I feel that she is too smart for her own good that it makes her look silly. Initially she has this habit of tripping so I thought this was going to be a running gag throughout the series but I guess not. She also has this inclination to expect the reply of others. But when the other person says something different, it will take Togame a while to realize it because she’ll continue speaking like the person has answered to her expectations. For instance Azekura’s reply on wanting her to be his woman. Togame was replying as though he still wanted the Deviant Blades instead. Togame may have claimed that she used Shichika and everyone else as a tool and everything they had been through was just an act. As much as I want to believe this, I feel that during her journey with Shichika, she indeed experienced lots of things with him so I don’t think she is lying or just acting during those times. Even if those words were painful truths in the end, she didn’t want to hold back Shichika and those words were meant to set him free and on his own. You’ll never recognize the true meaning and value of something till you start losing them. Note, Togame looks better with her hair cut short. I don’t know, it doesn’t feel messy and all over the place :). And oh, looks like her Cheerio catchphrase didn’t catch on :). Also, about Togame’s after-sword-hunt ambition, I thought she wanted to write a biography but changed it to mapping the country? I guess your ambitions do change along the way and with her brains I’m sure it’s not hard for her to do just about anything. I mean look how she mastered shogi after a few observations, something that shogi players would have taken years to become masters. There are so many things that Togame is capable of partly because of her personality of not wanting to be betrayed again and thus not wanting to lose. But it doesn’t matter now since she is no longer around :'(.

Even if I do know that in the end they both certainly have feelings for each other but I can’t help wonder if they really do know the meaning of love. That’s because if you notice that the things they do together aren’t what we would believe couples in the modern era would do. Maybe their meaning and definition of love differs and even the era they are in, love values are much different than today. Just take a look at all the lovely moments when they duo are close together. Leave aside their scheming talk while at it, even by hugging close and having physical contact (no sex, mind you), I just don’t feel the flame and impact of their love. It just feels Togame is doing this so that Shichika would get use to her. Look at this from another point. In today’s world, you can never be too careful so even if he’s a sword, he’s still a guy and ‘capable’ of what guys can do. She only sees him as her sword so she believes she doesn’t need to be cautious or alarmed even though he is a man. Unless you’re head over heels crazy over guy, shouldn’t any woman be a little cautious whenever a guy gets this close to you? This may be debatable if Shichika should get turned on each time he is close to Togame. Especially that one scene he was bathing with her naked in the hotspring. They weren’t shy. They weren’t embarrassed. His male horniness hormones weren’t kicking in. Maybe living on an island alone with his sister did stem all the worldly desires. Of course when they do get jealous about the other, it felt like it’s because the other is supposed to be her/his thing rather than an object of affection or love. On the subject of fanservice, I guess I could say I notice a few but are usually on Togame. But they aren’t that obvious and nothing that will really distract you.

I don’t know about Hitei. The way she portrays herself it seems like she is an obnoxious person but a cool one. Maybe it’s true that she’s a descendent of Shikizaki so she also can see the future and thus not surprise with whatever turns out and plays it cool. Just like what her name means, she loves to deny lots of things (ironically, Yousha means approve – something Togame usually permits Shichika for whatever things). For what I’m not sure. Is it her true past and history? She and Togame may be what you call in modern times, ‘frenemies’. Maybe it’s the way they speak to each other. Maybe when they say they didn’t like each other, they do mean the opposite. Because Hitei wasn’t such a bad person in the end, financing Shichika on his mapping journey whenever she can. So perhaps, they don’t really hate each other. Something I feel it’s like a married couple living together for decades. You get the idea, right? And if her goal was to kill Yanari, couldn’t she have ordered Emonzaemon to do so at the start seeing that guy is totally loyal to her? Oh, I forgot she wanted to see the completion of the final Deviant Blade. I am still confused with Nanami’s dilemma to either die or live. Because of her supernatural strength, she can’t die easily so she has always been searching for a way to die. Then when it’s time for her brother to grant her that wish, it’s like she all that she did was to delay her death as she wanted to live longer. So which is which? I guess even as normal humans, it’s basic instinct that you will be afraid when death comes knocking at your door. I mean if Nanami wanted to die, she could’ve not fight back and let everyone kill her, especially the guardians at Shireizan. Yes, she won’t die but can’t she let them slice of her head, then? Don’t tell me she’s like a cockroach and won’t die that way too? And what is it about Shichika’s death move on her makes it special that is the only way that could make her kick the bucket?

The Maniwa Ninja Corps, I thought they were just slaughter boys of the series. I mean, there are 12 heads and all of them died. Besides Koumori and Houou, the rest were like easy pickings. Some not even enough time to show their true potential. Which makes them somewhat a comical bunch wearing animal clothes (each either representing a type of beast, bird, insect or fish). They came, they appear, they die. True that Houou says that ninjas just live and die but seriously even if Maniwa had 100 heads, I am guessing that a big majority of them will meet a similar fate. It makes you wonder if they were such a great ninja group in the first place. Perhaps they are no match for the Deviant Blades or their owners that contributed to their demise. But when Emonzaemon went on a massacre spree of the ninjas, it feels too easy that they have died. Oshidori and Pengin may have put up a little resistance but in the end the fight was short as their lives. Speaking of Emonzaemon, if he had gone on a Maniwa massacre spree from the start, Shichika and Togame it would save them lots of trouble from bumping into them, right? Besides, the way things are he certainly seems to know the group and Houou well enough.

I can’t say that the fights are totally awesome but each of them is satisfying enough to captivate your attention. My only gripe is that the fights do not last long and just for several minutes. As we know the drama and talking parts takes up most of the screen time in this anime and even during the duels, we have the characters talking and explaining so if you are looking to be amazed by the sword battles, please do not place your hopes high. But I guess this is much better than a match lasting for several episodes and dragging along with it the drama, suspense and whatever flashbacks. My other complain is the no-show fight of Sabi! I was really expecting to see Shichika’s fight with the greatest swordsman and in my opinion it will be the most exciting one because well, swordsmen fight with their swords and not their mouths, right? Yeah, so I was really anticipating lots of action even if they were going to be exaggerative. But we don’t get to see even a bit of it and that is a major disappointment. I thought they might show this part if they ever make and release and OVA but so far the story has ended ever since and nothing more. What a major letdown. Before the fight with Sabi, the first few episodes show very short snippets of him going around and doing his amazing thing with Hari (usually keeping thugs at bay). So amazing that our eyes can’t even catch them. Thus it was pretty normal for me to expect that something great is going building up for this ultimate showdown. Sabi’s supposed episode as early as the fourth episode felt like an early final and when they replaced it with the Insect Squad’s ambush on Nanami, I just thought there was something wrong and couldn’t help wondering over the period of that episode when will I get to see those juicy action bits.

The final fight in which Shichika faces off with the 11 retainers is so fast that it feels comical in its own way. Everyone was like so confident and cocky that they’ve got a Deviant Blade and felt so invincible. Yeah, they didn’t know Shichika went through tougher circumstances to obtain those swords so they don’t really understand how it works or its value unlike Shichika who underwent lots of sh*t just to make sure that sword stays in one piece. That’s why the retainers are easily defeated and some even killed for their own good. But to think that Togame and Shichika spent nearly a year slogging to get all the swords and then suddenly he breaks them all in the end. It’s like all their efforts were wasted but if you look at the bigger picture it’s to complete the final blade. Speaking of Shikizaki’s true role as a soothsayer, if he did see everything that has taken place from the forging of the 12 Deviant Blades to the completion of the final one in Shichika for the sake of Japan and prevent the country to fall into foreign hands, I guess he didn’t see one prediction coming: His falsification will fail. So yet again in the bigger picture, going through all that trouble with the formation of Kyotouryuu right down to the seventh generation after hundreds of years, was it all for nought eventually? Maybe that is what being a soothsayer is all about. You see the future and try to change it even if it won’t work. So why was Hida trying to revert Japan back to its original history then? Would he have not started the rebellion if he knew Japan would perish in the future?

As for the drawing and art of this series, I can say that they aren’t your typical wide-eyed Japanese characters. In fact the drawings here are quite cartoonish and if not for the dialogue, you may have doubts if this was a Japanese production. But it won’t take you long because of the deep Japanese historical setting and by right only a Japanese production studio would rightly do so. I don’t want to go so far to say that the faces of the characters closely resemble Powerpuff Girls but if you notice that many of the characters have different eye designs and tones drawn to them. Sometimes it makes them look creepy. But not as scary when Shichika became the completed Deviant Blade. Okay, maybe it’s not that scary but there is a certain different feel in his eyes. I guess the production also tries to vary the different designs of the swords. I won’t say that they are looking anything unique as there are other animes with much more creative sword designs (I have to admit Bleach is one of them) but at least not every sword is your conventional sword. We have a mechanical doll serving as one and a blade that is just the hilt with no offensive power. It’s also nice to know that each has a different focus and method of use. However as mentioned the fights are short so this means you won’t see them in use for a long duration. In a way this is a good point because you won’t easily get bored with the sword. I mean, once you know how it works and its usage, it’ll be less interesting if they keep using the same moves. So like Shichika’s flower themed moves, I actually can’t tell most of them apart and it’s like he’s just chopping or kicking from a different stance. Haha, maybe I need to watch closely more of his moves to differentiate it like how Shichika couldn’t once differentiate another human being.

Yukari Tamura (Sakura in Da Capo series, Yamada in B Gata H Kei) as the voice of Togame definitely suits the character and all her moods. Her trademark squeaky voice is there be it during scheming points, comical scenes and yes, jealous parts. She really makes the character feel so alive even if the character herself sees herself as dead and no hope. Yoshimasa Hosoya (Arata Wataya in Chihayafuru) as Shichika also does well in his character. Also Haruka Tomatsu (Lala in To Love-Ru) did a perfect job in voicing a proud and conceited Hitei. Masako Ikeda (Maetel in Galaxy Express 999) as the narrator sounds not only passionate in narrating the opening and closing lines but sometimes the way she narrates things, it’s like as though it sounds like a joke. Why not, since the main pair do look like a manzai comedy duo at times. Other casts include Ryotaru Okiayu (Byakuya in Bleach), Mai Nakahara as Nanami (Juvia in Fairy Tail), Rikiya Koyama as Emonzaemon (Kogarashi in Kamen No Maid Guy), Ryou Hirohashi as Pengin (Kyou in Clannad), Shizuka Itou as Kiguchi (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Rina Hidaka as Konayuki (Airi in Ro-Kyu-Bu), Atsuko Yuya as Meisai (Yukino in Yakitate! Japan), Miyako Itou as Rinne (Beckham in Penguin No Mondai) and Aya Endou as Biyorigou (Filicia in Sora No Woto). There are 2 opening pieces for this series with Meiya Kadenrou by Minami Kuribayashi as the first one and Katana To Saya by Ali Project as the second theme (yeah, their naughty gothic style is still there). There are different ending themes for each of the episode, some sung by the seiyuus of the series and other from other singers. The ending credits animation may be the same (a still picture of Togame and Shichika sitting together on a rock with their backs facing us) but if you look closely, the flowers and plants of each animation are different. They may also show something related to that episode like the snowman Konayuki made or the time Togame got her hair cut. Some of the background music are weird. For instance during the comical scenes of Togame, well, they sound really comical. For Hitei’s scene, the music feels like a sultry slow jazz. Then for the exciting battle theme, it felt like a Japanese guy trying to do a Tarzan. OooOOOooOOOo…

Another aspect of this series is about what makes history as it is. It is no doubt that somebody once said that only winners write the history and thus imprinting a certain stereotype of truths and facts on future generations. I suppose everyone has a role to play in history no matter how insignificant they are. Everyone has their own history to tell. Big or small, exciting or boring, common or unique. That’s why I thought everybody in this series should be killed off (well it didn’t but a many of the main characters did die), it all has something to do with the contribution of making history. Whether it’s for themselves or something else, each are trying to write their own history with the things that they are doing justified with their own beliefs and perhaps inspire some sort of hope. Anyway history isn’t one of my favourite subjects so trying to talk about it makes my head turn. So it has been seemingly a long journey and every journey alike has to come an end eventually. Just like this seemingly long blog. Yeah, I even thought at this rate it would never end. Goodnight and Cheerio! Heh, that’s how you should use that catchphrase :).

Deadman Wonderland

May 12, 2012

When you get caught for a crime, you get arrested, go to trial, if convicted, you go to prison. End of story? Well, not in Deadman Wonderland. It isn’t as simple as that as there is more than meets the eye for prisoners who are locked up in this prison. They’re not just rotting their sinful lives away in a cell or making car plates, you know.

In a future where a major earthquake has sunk 3/4 of Tokyo, Deadman Wonderland is Japan’s largest and privately owned prison facility built on ground zero itself. It operates like a circus, amusement park and tourist attraction so the public can come in and watch inmates, especially those on death row do embarrassing performances to their amusement. I mean, these are criminals, right? What better way than to shame them by putting up such carnival acts for the pleasure of the common people. Besides, no amount of repent will make this hardcore criminals atone for their sins. But what will human rights activists say about this? What happens an innocent and framed person is put behind these walls? On the outside, it may seem like an ordinary prison but deep down, there are lots of shocking dark secrets that may have you think that this is much worse than modern slavery. One such kid, Ganta Igarashi, is going to find out the hard way, the hard realities of life…

Episode 1
Ganta and his friends, Mimi and Yamakatsu are discussing about their upcoming school trip to Deadman Wonderland. Are we excited to head to the so called amusement park yet? Ganta has been living a pretty normal life though he is one of the many citizens affected by the great earthquake, resulting him in having no memories of the tragedy 10 years ago. As class resumes, Ganta spots a caped person floating outside the window. Before he knows it, the perpetrator unleashes a terrible blast decimating the classroom. Ganta wakes up in the pitch black darkness and to his horror sees the decapitated heads of Mimi. The villain, as Ganta identifies as Red Man, suddenly sticks some red crystal into his chest. Next time Ganta opens his eyes, he is in hospital but the police are arresting him for the massacre of his classmates. He is the only survivor. Of course everything is happening so fast and he is in shock of the developments. Not to worry. Court-appointed attorney, Tsunenaga Tamaki offers to help him out the best he can. The trial goes on but in the end, Ganta is found guilty and is sentenced to death. Ganta goes berserk and claims his innocence but was beaten up by a couple of fathers of his dead classmates. Though restrained by the cops, they show him a footage as evidence whereby cocky Ganta himself was planning his classmates’ massacre. Was that really him? It’s hard to say no. Off he goes to Deadman Wonderland, still shocked at his life turned upside-down. As part of the new inmates at the prison, they are given the low-down on what to expect in this prison by the head security chief, Makina. The first thing the other prisoners ask this strict, no-nonsense prison guard enforcer is how big her tits. “G-cup!” she says with confidence. I guess if you’re going to be on this job, you cannot be embarrassed with anything and expect those scums to ask such things. Another prison, Yoh Takami bumps into Ganta. He apologizes but Makina tells him to return what Yoh stole though the latter denies anything. In an instant, Makina slashes right across his body! Perhaps an example to expect the harsh reality they’ll be facing in this prison?

Later Makina and Tamaki are having a discussion about Ganta’s death sentence today. She thinks the plan is absurd and that they should just let him be and he’ll die before he knows it. But Tamaki asks her about what she would do when receiving presents. Of course, open it. And Tamaki hates waiting and wants his presents. Ganta is having it real hard adjusting to life. Reflecting everything that has happened so fast. His good times with his friends, the sudden trial, people pelting him with eggs and wishing his death. He wish he is dead. Suddenly a girl with white hair and thick mittens jump down and would be more than happy to kill him. Instinctively, Ganta avoids her iron rod swings. This girl, Shiro tells him that his reactions mean he doesn’t want to die. Ganta is dumbfounded she knows his name when a bunch of thugs come to mock Ganta about his massacre. But they are beaten up by Shiro who believes Ganta didn’t kill them. Suddenly there’s an explosion on the top structure. It is going to crash down on them. Ganta’s is determined to live to avenge his friends’ death when suddenly his chest starts glowing red. Using his reflexes, he uses his blood to blast the falling structure. Meanwhile Tamaki, who is also the promoter of Deadman Wonderland is looking through Ganta’s profile and notes he is unfortunate to have met Wretched Egg and lived to tell. He has 2 options for Ganta: Suffer and die or live and become his toy. Elsewhere, Makina and her team corner a death row prisoner taking another prisoner hostage. The hostage taker is in a panic, demanding some candy as he is out of Cast Points (currency used in this prison). What to do? Makina orders to do nothing and stall for time. Shortly, that guy starts bleeding internally and falls dead. Makina notes that is his death sentence. Ganta finds himself in one piece in the aftermath and Shiro is alive and fine too. The airhead girl starts talking about eating snacks together because they are friends. I guess he can’t stay gloomy forever so he agrees.

Episode 2
Tamaki talks to Makina about the failure in Ganta’s death sentence accident. He considers that failure a real success. Makina is not amused and wonders what this promoter sees in that kid. In the infirmary, Ganta is getting treated by the nurse, Rei Takashima. She advises him to eat his candy if he is to survive which was supposed to be in his beg when he first arrived. But Ganta didn’t find any. Ganta sees Yoh recuperating in the infirmary ward. Shiro drops in to invite Ganta to participate in this afternoon’s Dog Race Show, an athletic obstacle course in which the winner received 100,000 Cast Points. Later Yoh is seen informing Tamaki about Ganta’s participation. Ganta, Shiro and Yoh are preparing to enter the race with other participants by warming up at the backstage. Suddenly, Kouzuji Kazumasa and his underlings come in to instil some fear in the prisoners. They are to let this violent ex-Taekwondo guy win or die. Kouzuji gets violent on Yoh when he smiles wrongly. He also overheard Ganta’s crazy comment and also gets rough. No choice, Ganta plays by his rules even if they seem unfair and this earns him the right to live longer. Because Shiro is being an airhead and ignoring him, Kouzuji is ready to punch that whore’s face but is stopped in time by Makina. It’s time for the race. Ganta remembers reading the booklet of the prison rules and finds out the importance of the candy. He has to eat one every 3 days or else the poison in the collar (every inmate has this) will be released and kill him. And each candy costs 100,000 Cast Points. Man, he better win this. As the obstacle race starts, Ganta gets firsthand view of the horror obstacle course. Prisoners can really die on this race! It’s like Death Race but minus the cars! See them get slashed into half, jump to their death, electrocuted and getting shot by arrows. The crowd really loves seeing blood, eh? Shiro and Ganta are lucky to have gotten this far and the former is like having fun all the way, even to a point getting in Ganta’s way. I guess it’s the sweet bread consolation prize that Shiro is motivated to get. Kouzuji plays dirty by using his underlings as shield. In the final stage, Ganta, Kouzuji and Shiro are the final participants. Only one winner will walk away with the Cast Points. The rule of this final is simple. Whoever holds on to the black Deadman ball in this battle royale at the end of time wins. It’s no easy feat since the floors will be collapsing. And there are sharp spikes underneath. So a series of catch begins and Kouzuji starts playing mind games with Ganta hoping he will succumb to his supremacy. Ganta finally has had enough of this and tells him off if he wants to kill him, then do so. Till then he will live by his own rules. In the dying seconds, Kouzuji slides off the floor to his death. Shiro is having the ball and clinging on by her feet. Ganta sees her bruised body and realized that she had been protecting him throughout the course instead of being a nuisance. Shiro falls off and tosses the ball to him but he grabs Shiro’s hand instead, saving her. In the end, there is no winner and the displeased crowd starts booing and throwing their stuffs. Ganta laments his fate that he will be executed soon since he won’t have enough cash to buy the candy.

Episode 3
Tamaki is having a discussion with some committee. They didn’t like how he turned the event into a public massacre. He reminds them he is in charge here and to just cough up enough funds to keep Wretched Egg locked up here. Ganta is in his cell when he finds out Yoh is his cellmate. He gives Ganta his first candy seeing he feels guilty in crashing into him then and making him lose it. Ganta is very grateful and he better be because Yoh went through lots of trouble to get that. Plus, he notes the race’s difficulty and could’ve died if he had entered. You can say that injury by Kouzuji was somewhat a blessing in disguise. Also, he is Tamaki’s lackey in watching over Ganta. Ganta tastes the candy and finds it horrible. Just like reality, eh? Tamaki gets a call that the Mother Goose system is down. The place is in a mess and Wretched Egg has escaped. He wants everyone to do whatever it takes before Wretched Egg cracks a smile. While Ganta is eating ice cream with Yoh, he suddenly sees the Red Man who unleashes a super whirlwind that it could cut off your limbs! Ganta also gets some cuts but revenge is on his mind. Without thinking, he materializes his blood and shoots at him but nothing happens. Then Red Man escapes, Ganta collapses and Yoh couldn’t believe what he just saw. Ganta wakes up in the infirmary feeling okay with Shiro next to him. He overheard the next bed talking about a person whom Ganta thinks is Red Man. They think he is being locked away in G-Block. Makina confers with her team about Ganta’s strange display of powers. Seeing that their pride rests on maintaining peace and order within the walls of this prison, she wants him captured alive and quickly. She authorizes the use of Necro Macro and the lockdown of the prison. Yoh talks to Tamaki about what just happened. Tamaki notes the Red Man has been safely captured and throws him lots of Cast Points cards to shut him up and as reward. Ganta hears the announcement that he is wanted at the security room. But he has not time as he is rushing to G-Block. Does he know where that is? Luckily he bumps into Yoh who tells him there is no G-Block as all blocks are from A to F only. Shiro knows a secret passage so Ganta pesters her to tell. She suddenly starts getting upset and seals her lips. Necro Macro arrives on scene and is targeting Ganta so he pleads for Shiro’s help. She agrees and lets them through a small air passageway. Thank goodness they got away in time before they got fried by the blast! In a dark place, Necro Macro is still after them. They see a sign on the wall that tells them this is G-Block. It really exists, huh? Necro Macro goes out of control and attacks them. Makina and her team lost the machine’s signal and she fears it may have gone to an area which she has no control over. Ganta apologizes for getting them both into trouble. Upset Shiro kicks away the machine while berating Ganta an idiot. She is upset that Ganta continued to mention he killed all his friends. That’s because Shiro is his friend. Now you get it? So that’s why she’s so upset? The Necro Macro revives and grabs Shiro. Ganta wants to save her but it seems he couldn’t call forth his blood powers like before. Plus, he is too weak. Suddenly somebody slices and destroys the machine with ease.

Episode 4
Ganta thinks this guy is the Red Man and charges. But that guy pulls out a sword made out of blood from his arm. He recognizes Ganta as Woodpecker and wants to know when he is going to use his Branch of Sin. He feels disappointed and walks away. Ganta realizes he needs to use his blood power and with his determination, whips up a powerful blood ball and throws it at him, breaking his ribs. Now that guy is pumped up. Introducing himself as Kiyomasa Senji AKA Crow, he wants to have fun with Ganta and lunges at him. Fortunately Shiro stops him dead in his tracks so as not to pick on Ganta. Senji gets embarrassed upon seeing Shiro and tries to cover her up with his shirt. Ganta realizes he is not Red Man. Suddenly guards surround them and shoot tranquilizers. Makina is upset that there is no trace of Necro Macro’s wreckage or the prisoners so she is going to see the director personally. By the rules, she has to go through the promoter but she doesn’t care if she gets disciplined because it’s her job to maintain order, not to follow rules. Yoh and Shiro are taken away separately and detained elsewhere. Yoh asks about G-Block but is confused about Deadman, Branch of Sin and blood manipulation powers. To make things worse for Yoh, the guards confiscate all his Cast Points cards. So much for that. Senji is being examined by Rei and she thinks of cancelling tomorrow’s match due to his broken bones. But he tears up the place and threatens to kill her if she does that. Ganta is strapped down in a lab and is shocked to see Tamaki. He introduces himself as Deadman Wonderland’s promoter and will use any trick in the book to get Branch of Sin users here. So yup. That video of Ganta planning to kill his classmates was made up. Ganta’s blood is boiling but Tamaki continues to mock him. The rest warn Tamaki not to overdo it or else he won’t be able to participate in tomorrow’s experiment, Corpse Carnival. What experiment? Tamaki explains that Ganta, nicknamed Woodpecker will be up against Crow in tomorrow’s battle-to-the-death between Branch of Sin users. Winners get so much Cast Points that Dog Race Shows won’t matter anymore. Ganta isn’t going to follow his wish but Tamaki says if he does, he may just get to meet his classmates’ murderer one day, Wretched Egg or Red Man as he is known to Ganta. Tamaki continues that carriers of the Branch of Sin infection began appearing 10 years ago after the Red Hole incident so this experiment allows them to release their special powers to their limits. Then he forces Ganta to watch the blood curling gory and violent Corpse Carnival promo video (he can’t blink!).

Episode 5
Even if Ganta loses and dies, he’ll still be valuable because parts of his body will become useful as samples. See all the other samples in the room? Freaky lab! Makina tries to see the director but is stopped by a pair of loyal guards outside. She insists so they point their sword at her neck. She backs down. Ganta and Senji meet at the Corpse Carnival birdcage stage with several ‘guests’ (cartoon icons?) watching with glee. Ganta fires several blood projections but Senji slices them away. It is apparent he hasn’t mastered them yet. Then he starts feeling cold. Obviously. He shot out too much blood, didn’t he? He starts feeling scared as Senji moves into serious mode and shows he is serious in killing him by slicing the tree with ease. Ganta gets cut here and there and is lying in shock on the floor. Then he remembers Shiro. She is his childhood friend. Meanwhile Shiro wants to go save Ganta quick because he is weak. Despite that, she notes one thing awesome about him. No matter how bad things are, he gets back up. Senji is totally disappointed that yesterday’s fight may just be a fluke. Ganta gets up staggering. Though he is scared and in pain, he isn’t going down with a fight. He materializes a blood ball and shoots it straight up to drop a structure on Senji. Though Senji easily slices it away, it’s just a distraction so Ganta could get up close to him and fire a blood ball point blank at his chest. Pow! Senji is knocked out. Ganta wins the match and thinks Senji isn’t such a bad guy after all because he was giving him a high-five after the match. In his room, a programme called Corpse Carnival Post Game Show airs on TV. It is a penalty game for the Corpse Carnival loser. Senji is tied to a chair while Rei starts a slot machine. On Senji’s cue to stop, the slots state “Right Eye”. This means Rei and her team are going to extract his right eye now. Oh sh*t! Warning: Watching this scene may make you throw up because it is f*cking gross even though most parts are censored out!!! I can even feel the pain of Senji’s right eye being extracted!!! AAAAAAARGH!!! Meanwhile Yoh manage to get more information about G-Block and returns to the area with Shiro. Yoh uses silly Shiro as a distraction to fight the guards but he gets more than he bargained for when he sees her destroys an entire tower! Is that her blood on fire?!

Episode 6
Yoh makes his getaway while the prison team cleans up the mess. Ganta hears a commotion outside his room. He sees a young girl, Minatsuki pleading to a weird guy, Masu not to eat her flowers. Ganta offers him his food but it’s not enough. He wants more. Minatsuki takes Ganta and hide in her flower filled room. They talk about this sick place especially the recent post game show they saw. Minatsuki gets close to Ganta, making him fluster. Then she undresses herself to show the scars on her back. She tells him about her violent father when she lost mom to the Red Hole incident. One day the beating got out of hand, before she knew it, unknowingly she used her blood powers to kill him. Her brother never believed her blood powers could kill their dad so cruelly and did everything he could to protect her but she ultimately ended up here. Ganta tells her they should escape from this place and will protect her so she doesn’t have to use her Branch of Sin. Their escape ends in failure as the guards round them up and tells them to save it for tomorrow. Ganta doesn’t seem to know yet. Tomorrow’s Corpse Carnival pits Woodpecker against Humming Bird, which is Minatsuki. Meanwhile Tamaki is talking to the director in his dark room. The director isn’t amused of yet another Corpse Carnival taking place and reminds Tamaki that Deadman Wonderland is a birdcage he built for himself and not his dream land. But Tamaki says the show must go on. Ganta and Minatsuki step into the ring. At first he couldn’t fight her but as soon Minatsuki takes off her earrings, Ganta feels a whiplash. Minatsuki suddenly has a change in character and becomes a violent sadistic b*tch. Seems all that goody-two-shoes act was just pretend because she loves to see his depressing face. It makes her climax. The match is interrupted when Yoh, dressed as a guard starts knocking on the glass. Yoh is Minatsuki’s brother. Seeing the audience is giving out a good reaction, Tamaki allows Yoh to enter the stage to add to the drama. Though Yoh couldn’t believe his sister is a Branch of Sin user, he still wants them to escape. He has accumulated lots of Cast Points to buy her freedom.

Minatsuki knows her brother is a fool and tries to pin the blame on Ganta for tricking her. Yoh steps up to protect her. Minatsuki is prepared to whip them both till the bone when Yoh mentions this is how she killed dad. When Yoh came home, he saw concerned dad approaching naked Minatsuki. In his rage, he tried to kill him. He thought he did but realized it was Minatsuki’s Branch of Sin instead. He also realized too late that dad never laid a hand on her. He never believed in such powers till he witnessed it firsthand. He tells her she doesn’t need to lie anymore. But Minatsuki gets upset because she can’t climax without seeing the depression of others. She beats up Yoh while trying to tell Ganta her brother isn’t all that good either (especially the bumping into him part which wasn’t just an accident). Even so, Ganta replies Yoh believed she was innocent, saved up for her release and even protected him. Minatsuki calls him a liar, a hypocrite and attacks him. Ganta can’t fight back because she is using Yoh as a shield. Minatsuki tells about her mom, which in fact isn’t really a mother. When the Red Hole incident happened and shook the place, Minatsuki was pinned down. The first mom did was to take her plants and run, leaving stunned Minatsuki trapped. Ganta continues to fire his shots but they all missed. Actually it’s part of his plan so that one of them ricocheted to hit her. With Yoh out of the way, Minatsuki binds Ganta’s hands. Ganta coolly walks towards her and tells her off that just because she was betrayed and lied to once, she lied and hurt everyone. Isn’t that making her more miserable? He head butts her unconscious. Man, he must have a very hard head. The audience are disappointed because they want to see more blood and death but Ganta shows them his middle finger and to shut the f*ck up because he had already won. Wow. Where did he learn that badass attitude so fast? The director notes Ganta is an interesting boy wonders if Shiro is awake. He wants her to make his wish come true since the lullaby is stopping.

Episode 7
What’s this? The director and Shiro in some blood fight? Killing continuously and dying perpetually? Huh? Yoh and Ganta are at the infirmary. Yoh recounts how he saved his trapped sister and made it a point to protect her. Suddenly a slight tremor rocks the place. Yoh holds up a cabinet from falling on his sister. The siblings talk to each other while Ganta remembers about Shiro. Meanwhile the director is defeated as Shiro notes about the activation of Mother Goose system again. She wants to know the continuation of the lullaby but the director there won’t be any because she is an abandoned egg. Then Shiro dons the mask and cape and she looks like Red Man! Holy sh*t!!! The prison guards are tending to the wounded prisoners. Ganta talks to Senji when they hear a commotion from Minatsuki’s room. She doesn’t like her sister-complex brother following her everywhere and throws a flowerpot at Ganta for peeking. It hit Senji instead. Ganta remembers his childhood days with Shiro. The one whereby Shiro is sick and tired of all those needles and experiments. Ganta cheered her up with some super action hero called Ace Man. She just got to call him and he’ll come save you. Shiro wasn’t amused and breaks the toy. Outside, Ganta is being attacked by a dog. If not for Shiro jumping out from the window and landing on the dog like a gymnast, he could’ve been a goner. Tamaki learns from Rei that the red crystal in his chest is a capsule of femtomachines. An aggregation called Nameless Worm. Though nothing much is known, they at least know those from the Kanto region where the anomaly occurred became infected with the Branch of Sin. She doesn’t have enough technology to generate Nameless Worm materials since she has no way of examining its source: Wretched Egg, who is completely the director’s toy. Ganta remembers the post game show and tries to get Cast Points to free her. However he runs into Karako Koshio and takes a punch in the gut. Yoh runs into Tamaki with a super monk named Azuma Genkaku. Tamaki reminds him that Cast Points work differently in G-Block. This means all the points he saved up are for nothing. He becomes enraged so Genkaku fires his air guitar at him. Ganta wakes up in a lair belonging to a group called Scar Chain, an anti-management society. He meets their leader Nagi Kengamine and is offered to join them. Their goal is to destroy this absurd birdcage and they need as many allies as possible. But Ganta needs to stop the penalty game. Oh, it’s running now. Minatsuki tries to act tough but couldn’t hide her fear. Nagi sends a signal via a transmitter in his tooth. And it seems the slot machine reads “Hair”. WTF?! Why do they have that option? Rei is upset she got a useless piece. Minatsuki is so relieved. Genkaku crashes into the lair and knocks out Karako. He is going to kill them all. Ganta shoots a blood ball but it disappears before it could reach him.

Episode 8
Before Genkaku could kill Ganta, Shiro jumps in, breaking his guitar. He cancels tonight’s performance and goes away. Ganta is brought to meet the other members of Scar Chain. He is also introduced to Bundou Rokuro, the intelligence officer of Scar Chain and the one who saved Minatsuki during the penalty game. Most of the members are puzzled about Shiro in this block because if she’s not a Deadman, how did she end up here? Her answer is that she has always been living here. Meanwhile Makina and her assistant suit up, preparing to sneak in and steal Tamaki’s secret data. Every year they have a week long inspection to show the public that the prison meets the country’s safety standards. They will use this period to do their illegal raid as everything shuts down during inspection week and even that promoter can’t leave sensitive data lying around. Nagi and Karako convey their plan of a mass Deadman breakout during the week but as noted, the Undertakers (special enforcement anti-Deadman troops under Tamaki like Genkaku) will be a real problem. Ganta informs them about Branch of Sin not working on them but Rokuro shows them a video that Ganta simply missed. That wasn’t how Ganta remembered happened. Everyone laughs at Ganta so he gets pissed off that they are pretty slacking for a team wanting to break out. He is not going to join them and leaves with Shiro. Elsewhere, seems Tamaki is playing bowling with the director’s head! So Deadman Wonderland has become his, eh? Ganta talks to Senji and the latter isn’t pleased he fought an Undertaker. He wants in on the action next time. Ganta learns more about Nagi. Seems Nagi was forced to fight his wife in Corpse Carnival. He lost on purpose and in the penalty game lost his voice. However Tamaki went back on his words and wanted to penalize his wife too. They tried to escape but she was killed by Genkaku.

Ganta goes to find Nagi and apologizes for not knowing anything. Ganta understands he wants revenge just like how he wishes one against Red Man. But Nagi corrects him that he isn’t out for revenge. He has no time because he wants to bring down this place and be free. He wants to hold the baby his wife bore before she died. That’s why he has no time for revenge. That night Ganta thinks about Nagi’s words. He asks what Shiro wants to do. What do you think? Eat lots of snacks and ride the Ferris wheel. Genkaku gets a new guitar while couldn’t help think who the hell that Shiro is. Then Rokuro comes up to him and everything is within his calculations. Oh no. A rat? Ganta returns to Scar Chain and seeks to join them. Shiro wants to be by Ganta’s side but he has Shiro wait in the room till everything is over as promised. Karako cheers up Shiro with a little advice on love. Like she understands. As long Shiro loves Ganta, everything is okay. Nagi continues to go over the plan with his members. It’s not a jailbreak that they’re aiming for but a data chip containing evidence of Tamaki’s illegal operations. They need to leak this out to the real world. With Nagi and Rokuro seizing the control room, the rest will be split into 2 groups to create confusion before riding up the freight elevator. Nagi and Rokuro start off well, dispatching the guards in the control room while the rest being to cross the bridge. Seeing it has weight censors, they cross over by walking on one of the member’s blood in which he uses as a walking net. But the weight is too overwhelming and it breaks. Necro Macro is activated and fires some kind of acid that burns right through your bones! Karako stays behind to hold up the falling bridge so that the rest can cross over. She tosses the data to Ganta and places her hopes in him. Now he’s holding a big responsibility.

Episode 9
Karako remembers how she was a loner in this group till Nagi appointed her as his second-in-command because he believes she is more than just a strong fighter, someone who knows there’s a friend by her side each time she hears the bell on her neck ring. Karako isn’t going down yet. She coats her body with blood, which serves as a defensive shield. Then she pummels Necro Macro till it explodes. Ganta and co have reached the elevator but find no resistance. They just need to wait for Nagi and Rokuro to activate it. Speaking of them, Nagi sees a little girl, Hibana Daida. He thinks this nice girl is lost. Seriously, in this place? Nagi wants Rokuro to activate the elevator but the latter shows his true colours that this isn’t going to happen. Undertaker Hibana takes out a big massive sectioned sword and whips Nagi. His Branch of Sin of explosive isn’t working on her. He realizes that Rokuro was the one who edited the video of Ganta’s blood missing Genkaku. Rokuro explains about Worm Eater, which instantly oxidizes the Nameless Worm that lives inside the Branch of Sin users. This means when a Branch of Sin hits an Undertaker’s weapon, it dissipates. Hibana continues to pound Nagi, as far as scrapping his skin off! She thinks it’s just punishment and that pain builds character. However Nagi tells her she is no lady as she proclaims and just a little girl because proper ladies aren’t vulgar, twisted, rotten and pathetic like what she is doing now. This snaps Hibana as she remembers how her mom tortured her with devices for the slightest mistake. So it’s no surprise she punished her own mother by killing her. What landed her here was the massacre of her kindergarten friends, in which she still insisted that she was just punishing them. Hibana randomly swings her sword till it chops off Nagi’s arm! He throws the arm at Hibana as distraction while he shoves Rokuro’s head into the wall (I guess he was bored that’s why he wasn’t paying attention). Hibana wasn’t paying attention to Nagi’s chopped off arm because he uses the explosive blood in it to knock her out. Nagi uses his last ounce of strength to activate the elevator. Everyone had a nice time joking riding it up till they realize Genkaku and the guards are waiting for them and starts shooting them. Rokuro tells Nagi that he has no chance of winning because it’s his job to make it so. Besides, why do you think Tamaki played along with his crap? He could’ve easily wiped them all out a long time ago. Nagi uses the transmitter in his teeth to relay a message back to his lair. Shiro goes to the lair because she can’t sleep but sees a strange boy. Ganta witnesses in horror one by one his comrades getting butchered. He is about to be done in by Genkaku but an Undertaker reminds him it’s time so they leave. Ganta and only 3 Scar Chain members are left. Suddenly Shiro jumps in, takes the data chip from Ganta’s hand, throws it into a burning room with highly inflammable content, shuts the door and BOOM! So big the explosion that it dented the door. Why didn’t she get away from the door? Was she holding it back? Well, it wasn’t broken.

Episode 10
Contrary to Shiro’s question if Ganta he is okay, he is not. In fact, he is so mad that she destroyed their only hope. He punches her for being a nuisance and doesn’t want to see her face again. Regrouping back in the lair with the other members, they are surprised to see Karako returning alive. Karako isn’t going to give up yet though they’ve lost the chip. The inspection isn’t done yet and all they need is 1 of them to get outside and demonstrate their Branch of Sin to the inspectors. They think Karako should be their new leader but she feels Nagi is still alive because Genkaku won’t kill him. Speaking of which, he is tied up and Genkaku is trying to coax him to join the Undertakers. Elsewhere Makina and her assistant are trying to download all they can from Tamaki’s computer. However that guy unexpectedly returns. They hide nearby and see Major Aohi from the Defence Ministry. Aohi wants to know about the production’s developments so Tamaki lets him know they’re still researching on how to synthesize the Nameless Worm. Aohi doesn’t want to end up with copies of uncontrollable monsters but as Tamaki puts it, if you eat the poison, you might as well eat the plate. So they’re way past the point of no return. Makina realizes the list of prisoners she saw in Tamaki’s computer. Scar Chain are discussing if they were being toyed from the start. The think of hiring a strong fighter. Ganta feeling guilty over his failure volunteers but Karako thinks they can’t afford any more slip ups. When Rokuro comes in, he is clearly upset about the leaked plan. The one about the bomb in the data chip. It was supposed to blow them all away so someone must have found out about it that’s why they’re all still standing here. Yeah, there is no data in that chip. Ganta realized Shiro was trying to help them all along and he jumped the gun. As the guards come in, Rokuro lets them know they are all hostages till Nagi changes his mind.

Genkaku continues to inject drugs but Nagi perseveres and not giving in. Genkaku makes him remember how he massacred his troops after he killed his wife (Genkaku was hiding in fear, witnessing everything. And having an erection watching all that). Nagi doesn’t remember so Genkaku knows he has already lost it. Crazy Rokuro is going to execute one by one the Scar Chain members till Nagi gives in and the first one up is Ganta. While admitting he was the one who edited Ganta’s video and framing him at his trial, he introduces a couple of Undertakers and their sick past and heinous criminal activities, they are going to kill him when Senji slices them both in half! Yeah, he’s looking for a piece of Undertaker action. He realized he just killed the strongest ones. So much for some potential Undertaker action. No choice, he makes do with the small fries. The Scar Chain members fight their way out and since the guards have Worm Eater in their weapon, Senji’s blood sword isn’t working. But that’s not a problem because he uses his supersonic blade faster than the speed of sound, blasting through the air pressure to slice and break through the Worm Eater. Rokuro is feeling the pinch because his perfect calculations are now naught. Karako wishes Senji to join them but he refuses because he thinks there is no difference being on the outside either. Both worlds are just as crazy and messed up. And about their stance of banding together their strength, he tells them off that if they aren’t strong enough, they shouldn’t bare their fangs. Shiro trudges her way back to her room, upset that she was just trying to help Ganta. All she did was listened to that strange boy’s advice. He heard over the transmission from Nagi about the bomb in the chip and relayed it to Shiro. She’s eating cookies all alone and crying. When suddenly that strange boy shows up. He has a hard time remembering his own name. He finally remembers. Toto Sakigami AKA Mockingbird. Shiro isn’t thrilled to meet him but he assures he won’t do anything bad to her.

Episode 11
Ganta must be really thinking how weak he is. So weak that he seeks Senji’s help to train him to be strong enough and punch this pathetic self of his. I guess Senji couldn’t refuse after seeing all that pathetic tears. Meanwhile Shiro still feels empty in her heart even though she says she couldn’t care less about Ganta anymore. Really? Toto is like fanning the fire, saying how weak and irresponsible humans are. They like putting the blame on others and let them suffer. Shiro asserts she still hates Ganta and goes off to find and punch him. Karako and the other survivors move out. Seems Karako lied to Ganta about their meeting time and planned on leaving him out. She remembers Nagi showed her a picture of his daughter in his locket. However there is no picture in it but Karako played along that she could see the picture of his child. Senji feels Ganta’s bullets are too weak and needs to break the sound barrier to stand a chance. He takes all his candy and smashes them except for one. He wants him to penetrate his defence and shoot this candy. If he can’t do it faster than the speed of sound, his death sentence will be carried out right here. Ganta shoots but none of them are good. The place is looking like a butchered scene with lots of blood. Toto interrupts their training as he is looking for Shiro. As said by Senji, Toto is supposedly the strongest Deadman around. Toto gets close to Senji, licking his blood and would have done the same to Ganta if Senji didn’t warn him about their training session. Genkaku seems to have a new toy of his own. Nagi like a mad Incredible Hulk, is smashing the skull of a prison guard! Shiro drops in among the guards and it seems she is a little drunk (perhaps from the sweets). Karako disguised as a guard panics seeing this girl here and tries to get her away. However Genkaku recognizes Karako’s kansai accent anywhere, kicks off her mask and restrains her.

Senji tells Ganta to go seeing at this rate he won’t have enough blood to last. Ganta makes a final shot that not only pierces through the candy but destroys the mirror. That is the shot Senji wants Ganta to remember. Suddenly Genkaku appears on the screen to tell everyone he’s got Shiro and Karako in custody. He gives them a choice to either continue with their escape or save them. Either way, they’ll still die. While the rest had no choice but to soldier on, Ganta is on his way to save them. He thought the rest think he is weak that’s why he left them out. He runs into several guards but Minatsuki repays her debt by killing them all. She won’t join them in the jail break (because she has to take care of her brother who is still injured) and points to the direction of the Undertaker’s base. Ganta thanks her and is on his way. When Ganta arrives, he shoots his smaller and sharper blood shot. So fast and powerful that the guards are sent flying away! Shiro still tries to act tough but eventually rushes to Ganta’s side. However Hibana’s sword breaks her leg. Genkaku will have them see the gig of despair and behind the door sits Nagi. Looks calm. Well, that’s not a good thing. Karako goes up to him and tries to remind him about his kid but he tells her there is no picture in the locket and that Genkaku killed his wife and daughter who was still in the womb. Nagi tried to plead with Tamaki but he was shown his baby in a lab tube like an experiment sample instead. That’s when his rage built up. That’s when he started hating everyone who lives. He couldn’t accept the fact his wife and child are dead. In his despair, his blood bombs blow up the place as Genkaku relishes in Nagi becoming his ideal evil.

Episode 12
Aohi is disappointed that with the end of the inspection, everything is back to square one. He thinks Tamaki as the one behind the bloodshed but as he puts it, Deadman Wonderland is a place that is neither good nor bad. Just a microcosm of society. Behind the beautiful music, rages the ugliest people. He is just a facilitator paving a path for those insane people to earn their freedom. Nagi goes on a killing spree. See how he ripped the guts out of the guards!!! Karako laments she couldn’t protect Nagi, a weak person. A totally opposite person Ganta thought as. Nagi is aiming for Shiro so Ganta protects her, using his body and gets beaten to a pulp. Ganta still have the strength to give his heroic speech like he hates seeing his friends getting killed, the irony of Nagi’s words about having no time for revenge and that he still has light because he’s too ashamed to see what’s important in front of him. The sound of Karako’s bell helps him regains his sanity. Ganta stands firm in protecting Shiro when suddenly he collapses. It’s not that he ran out of blood. Rather, he hasn’t eaten his candy. Death sentence is inching closer. Karako slaps Nagi to his senses and hugs him. But it’s not going to be a fairytale ending yet because Genkaku stabs through Karako’s chest but she’s still alive. Ganta fires his best shot at Genkaku but it isn’t working. Genkaku reminds Nagi he is supposed to be a demon who loathes everyone and saves them via death. He purposely missed Karako’s vital organs so that Nagi could kill her himself as salvation. However Nagi feels not the need to do so because his friends are his salvation. Since Nagi isn’t the murderous tool he is, Genkaku fires a blast from his guitar right through Nagi. Man, it’s a big hole through his gut! Not only that, he starts killing all the guards and wounding Hibana. Flashback time. This is why Genkaku is always talking about salvation, saving others. When he was young and lived at a temple (I thought he looked so much like Naruto’s Gaara), he was often beaten up by his temple mates. The master monk thought he always went out to town and picked a fight. Genkaku has always pondered about enlightenment and salvation seeing the irony of human’s suffering. Then during the Red Hole incident that caused great damage to the temple, he saw how peaceful a dead cat was and realized. He killed his bullies and realized that death is the ultimate salvation.

Meanwhile Hibana who is getting away from that mad scene bumps into Toto. She doesn’t know who this boy is and starts attacking him. But it’s a grave mistake because Toto kills her with the supersonic move he copied from Senji. Ganta still feels the weakling he is and his chest is glowing in red. Genkaku continues to rant about the word consisting of nothing but terror and oppression. He will continue his salvation till somebody comes to save him. Shiro’s leg suddenly heals. She stands up and is about to turn into a mad killer but Ganta this time will do the honours. Funny red marks appear all over Ganta (just like with Shiro) as he blasts Genkaku with the most powerful blast he has ever made. So powerful, it blasted a hole right through the ceiling! Nagi quotes that he will be Genkaku’s guide to hell. I guess he’ll be his salvation. Nagi in his dying breath gives Ganta his candy seeing he doesn’t need it anymore. Karako and a couple of Scar Chain members escape the island. Ganta stays back with Shiro seeing he can’t leave his friends behind. He apologizes for hitting her but she doesn’t mind it because it doesn’t hurt anymore. Friends again? You bet. Besides, Shiro is happy she gets to see the Ferris wheel. Ganta cries in her bosoms. It’s not because the candy tastes bitter. Tamaki loathes the uselessness of Genkaku’s team. Makina wonders if a few death row inmates have escaped seeing he doesn’t look so good. He denies and instead says none has ever under her watch. He is just getting used to his new position as the director seeing the previous one died without naming a successor. Makina plans to interrogate Ganta and Yoh on their whereabouts for the past 11 days and will use any means to do so. Tamaki gives the green light for her to do whatever she wishes. Makina meets up with her assistant who has picked a suitable one from the promoter’s list of normal prisoners. On the rooftop, Shiro hums a nostalgic song made by Ganta’s mom. He wants her to stop seeing it was the song the Red Man sang during the massacre. He wonders how he knew the song. Oh Ganta. It’s just right under your nose… So close yet so far…

OVA
The OVA is Senji-focused and takes place 2 years after the devastating effects of the Red Hole incident. Everywhere is much lawless and chaotic. People are confused trying to get their lives back. Some turned to a life of crime. Senji, a policeman is using his Branch of Sin to slice up petty criminals. He would’ve killed if not for his elderly superior telling him not to. Back at the base, Senji gets into a brawl with other cops whom he thinks leaked the info. His other pals try to gently remind him about staying out of trouble but I guess a tough guy like him isn’t going to learn it the easy way. While at the market, Senji spots a kid he knows, Izuru being chased by a pair of ruffians from a local gang called Goreless Peace. They are trying to teach Izuru a lesson for stealing from their turf when Senji uses his Branch of Sin to slice a deep cut over one of their chest. Though the ruffians live, they run away but promise to be back. Senji takes Izuru back to his sister, Hinata. She slaps the kid for trying to steal again. We can see Senji has feelings for Hinata, the way his body language is reacting. Hinata is remaining positive due to the events that have happened and trying to live life normally with the rest. As Senji leaves that evening, he is surrounded by Goreless Peace members. Their leader, Keigo Ugachi wants Senji to join them to tune and rebuild the world from scratch and filled it with beautiful melodies. He wants a peaceful world without bloodshed and even if it means taking out a kid is necessary, he’ll do what it takes. Yeah, the irony. Keigo continues his persuasion about being tied down to his policeman job with a stupid boss and selfish colleagues. But Senji isn’t interested in his crap though Keigo surprises him by coming close to him without him noticing and managing to avoid his slices with ease. Senji spits on his shoe as his final answer but Keigo is sure they’ll meet again. That night, Senji’s superior had a talk. Senji believes this world is full of sh*t no matter how many people they arrest it’ll still be the same. That’s why there is nothing wrong with idiots cleaning it up that sh*t. Keigo contacts his superior, Akatsuki, noting the interesting man Senji is and that he is of their kind.

Next day, Senji sees fire coming from Hinata’s place. When he arrives, he sees everyone massacred. Hinata is dead. Izuru barely holding on to his last breath. But eventually he dies. In his agonizing scream, Senji sees the mark of Goreless Peace on the handkerchief in Izuru’s hands. Somebody is going to pay. Senji calls his superior to say he is going to massacre everyone in Goreless Peace. Not as a policeman but as himself. His superior and his pals need to take action before it’s too late. Senji arrives right in the middle of Keigo’s dinner. He thinks he has accepted his invitation and admits her got rid of the things that are holding him back. After all that ranting, Senji just tells him he is here to kill him. His superior and pals arrive on scene to take out the small fries. Senji chases after Keigo but it’s a trap. Senji gets trapped in his blood of web like a helpless bug. Yes, he is also a Branch of Sin user. Keigo tortures him and couldn’t stand his pathetic cries because he heard so many of them during the massacre. The melodies he intends to fill the world are the ones filled with silence. No matter how angry Senji is or even if he breaks through the web, he finds himself back to square one and trapped again. Senji’s superior comes in only to be caught. Keigo crushes him. Senji is so mad that his knife enlarges big and long enough to stab through Keigo’s shoulder. He is about to kill him when his superior ekes out a voice telling him to stop. He can’t kill because he isn’t that kind of person. Senji further enlarges his sword to scare the sh*t out of Keigo’s pants. Probably he hasn’t learnt to control it yet so he passes out due to lack of blood. In the aftermath, Akatsuki gets news that Keigo has been arrested and notes Senji will be sorry that he chose to rise against him. Deadman Wonderland is in the midst of construction but the police guys aren’t convinced that things will change even if they cover it up with something shiny. So it’s back to work as usual for them.

Deadman Walking…
Oh, that wasn’t really much of an ending. It feels like everything was just at a halfway point. Maybe not. Perhaps not even a tenth of the way there. Of course it feels unsatisfying that everything ended so abruptly without any solution in sight. There are so many developments left unfinished and unexplained so I think if they really give the green light to make a sequel, I’m sure we’ll see lots more of it. The real reason behind the Red Hole incident, the deep and dark secret that Tamaki has been holding, the list of prisoners Makina has obtained from the promoter, the experiments Tamaki has been conducting and selling to the military, the real motive why the director built this prison as his cage and how it turned into a big showcase of prisoners, the mystery of why Branch of Sin users are able to control their blood as weapons, the Corpse Carnival, what happened to Yoh and Minatsuki, what will be of Rokuro’s fate, who the hell is Toto and yes, above all the most tantalizing one would be the mystery behind Shiro as Wretched Egg and Red Man. Why did she massacre Ganta’s classmate. Or is she really the Red Man? The only similarity that confirms it is that creepy smirk. How did she end up in Deadman Wonderland? Is it really her ‘home’?

The story flows quickly from Ganta being framed and earning a spot in Deadman Wonderland, the way things work around the prison, to the thought-to-be-never-existed G-Block to the Corpse Carnival and finally the rebellion by Scar Chain. However a dozen of episodes aren’t enough to do justice to all the plot because running a prison isn’t just as easy like it seems although Tamaki is like a big child who never grows up. Look at all the toys in his room. Behind that eternal sly smile lies something deeper. Something more sinister. Something darker. He has got his own personal and ulterior motive and I doubt that succeeding and becoming the director isn’t the end of his goal. But I guess he has got to be a very busy man because in addition to just running the prison, he has got to go round looking for people who contain Branch of Sin, frame them and put them in as candidates for Corpse Carnival for his amusement as well as the others. Probably he’s got too much time on his hands that he could even create the Undertakers and toy along with Scar Chain’s plot. Why not turn every prisoner into his Undertakers then? Must be some tough sh*t training they have to pass that I didn’t get. Makina is certainly the no nonsense woman guys will never want to mess with. No matter how big her tits are. Think twice before you make a move. Don’t even think about it. She’ll slash you before you even have time to reconsider. She is the kind of person who is fit to take charge and control of a prison ward. It’s a good thing that she strongly upholds her believe in maintaining order in the prison. If she was given more liberty in her control, Deadman Wonderland would be rid of any kind of dirty fanfare. No Corpse Carnival whatsoever. Just plain boring prison. Yeah, where would the fun be? But still, don’t mess with her.

I don’t know about Ganta. From the start he is portrayed to be someone who is weak. Someone who tries very hard to stand up against all that he believes in. In the end, he too realizes how pathetically weak he is and has always relied on the aid of Shiro to rescue his butt. But it’s a good sign for him because it means the only way for him to survive or even have a chance to achieve his goal is to get stronger. With more practice of his blood shots, I’m sure he’ll pull off more devastating and awesome moves. Just hope he just doesn’t get anaemia and shoot out too much blood till he dies. He needs a faster way to regenerate his blood. I can’t wait to see his reaction if he ever finds out Shiro as Red Man. As for Shiro, she is definitely not only the most mysterious character but the most airheaded one as well. There were many signs to indicate that Shiro isn’t just an ordinary prisoner of Deadman Wonderland. For instance, she has no prisoner number. She pops out from just about anywhere. For a moment, I was even thinking that she might be a ghost! But heck, people can actually touch, see and hear her so I guess that isn’t possible. But then again… The only problem with Shiro is that she doesn’t really know how to convey what she wants to say in words. That is what makes her a happy-go-lucky airhead. For example the bomb that was hidden as the data chip. Ganta wouldn’t have gotten so mad and pissed off or even go so far as to slap her if she had just said everything was a trap to kill them. We didn’t hear her say that there was a bomb in the chip. We didn’t hear her say anything about the ruse. She just said she did this all for Ganta because he is weak. Maybe even if she did tell him about it, there is a chance Ganta won’t believe her but at least it should have opened that kid’s eyes.

I’m not sure why Senji wants to stay in G-Block to continue being a fighter for Corpse Carnival. Has he really given up on the outside world even if it’s both the same inside this prison? From my perspective, he is strong enough to slice everyone through if he really wanted to get out. The OVA on him was a good episode featuring his past but it did little to let us know how he ended up in the deepest parts of the prison. Now with an eye-patch over his right eye, sometimes I thought he looked a bit like Bleach’s Zaraki. He nearly has the attitude to match it. Something about the Corpse Carnival bugs me. If the fighters are supposed to fight to the death, wouldn’t that mean that there are lots of dead fighters by now? Even if many do not die and simply lost, does it mean that Rei’s lab is filled with lots of body parts? This means lots of crippled Branch of Sin users, right? Perhaps there are more of such users than shown. Maybe running into hundreds. So that’s why it seems that those especially from Scar Chain just had one or two body parts taken away. Doesn’t seem much, right? Feels like they’ve been through Corpse Carnival just a handful of times. And survived. And why are the contestants named after birds? So if the best Deadman is just a Mockingbird, who is the grand phoenix, if there is any? Speaking of Scar Chain, I find them a really odd bunch of oddballs. Really. It feels like the group came from all walks of life. If you noticed some of its members, it includes a granny with a katana, a pregnant woman and a wheelchair ridden guy. It makes you wonder if they are really hardcore criminals. But then again, everyone here is a Branch of Sin user and it is a big possibility they have been framed for a crime they did not commit just like Ganta.

One of the biggest complaints and grumbles I have for this series is the total darkness of the scenes. No, not the gory action or blood. Some of the scenes are purposely darkened so much so you can’t see a damn thing and it is very annoying. I was trying to strain my eyes real hard trying to glimpse what is going on through the darkness without adjusting the brightness and contrast of my screen because from past experiences, I know it won’t make any difference. So if you’re going to watch this show, just beware that there will be lots and lots of dark scenes in each episode that will really make you want to expand your eyeballs. Oh sh*t. Just saying about eyeballs made me remember about that horrendous right eye extracting scene!!!! Yikes!!! I’m never going to watch that episode ever again!!!

Also be warned that if you’re watching this show, you should have expected lots of gore, violence and blood. You could have even guessed it from the name of the series that this is no walk in the park. I won’t go so far as to say that you will really want to puke by seeing brains get smashed, guts getting pulled out or limbs getting cut off but if you’re a weak-hearted person, it’s best to stay away from this show. Maybe I’m quite numb myself after seeing lots of violence (thanks to the TV news. Yeah, thanks. That helped a lot) so I don’t really feel that it is thaaaaaaaaat violent. Okay, maybe it is. But still it is manageable for me. What do you expect? In nearly every episode, somebody gets killed whether it’s a minor prisoner or the guards. Yeah. Life is really cheap. So cheap that it makes you think why the heck they spend a fortune putting up flashy shows and keeping the prisoners here. Oh yeah, I forgot. It’s like a show business. On a trivial note, the end of each episode is narrated by Makina in a gloomy, bleak and hopeless tone, which is befitting of the series’ setting.

Kana Hanazawa as Shiro here feels like she is the prisoner version of Kobato. Get what I mean? Okay, maybe it’s because I lumped them in as both characters are somewhat airheads. Romi Paku as Ganta, I thought she was like voicing a weaker version of Bleach’s Hitsugaya or Fullmetal Alchemist’s Edward. Junichi Suwabe’s cool and calm voice fits Tamaki because the character lacks other emotions in his speech so you are unable to tell what really goes on in his mind. You can recognize his voice from Prince Of Tennis’ Atobe and Kuroshitsuji’s Undertaker. Other casts include Takako Honda as Makina (Hone Onna in Jigoku Shoujo), Masayuki Katou as Senji (Matoma in Shigofumi), Daisuke Ono as Nagi (Koizumi in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu), Kumiko Itou as Karako, Jun Fukuyama as Rokuro (Lelouch in Code Geass), Miyuki Sawashiro as Toto (Shinkurou in Kurenai), Iori Nomizu as Minatsuki (Nymph in Sora No Otoshimono), Yuuki Kaji as Yoh (Subaru in Ro-Kyu-Bu) and Toshiyuki Morikawa as Genkaku (Naraku in Inu Yasha). The opening theme is totally a hard rock piece sung in English, One Reason by Fade. It’s the kind of song that tells you what to expect from this kind of show. But for the ending theme, Shiny Shiny by NIRGILIS left me wondering if this kind of dance pop music should be suitable for this violent and dark genre.

A deeper aspect that this show tries to tell us is who are the real villains. Prisoners may be sent to prison and forced to do acts that are embarrassing and equally inhumane. Our pleasure at their expense. We cry for their blood seeing them in life or death performances. So does it really make us different from the criminals? Ganta sure learn the hard way. Not so fun now being on the prison inside, eh? See how the spectators jeered and booed when there was no clear winner at the end of the Dog Race even if they have seen every other single darn prisoner getting killed. Aren’t we any different than our bloodthirsty ancestral savages, no? The only difference is that they have already done something wrong and convicted by the law. We haven’t. Yet. So what gives us the right to visit the prison like as though it’s one huge theme park attraction just to laugh at the silliness just because they did some bad stuff in their lives. Who hasn’t done something bad in their lives before? Tiny or big, a bad deed is still a bad deed. That’s why Deadman Wonderland is a place full of irony whether you are the prisoners, the staffs working in it or just a visiting visitor. Everyone is just plain sick. And the yearly inspection just to check everything is in accordance with the humans right thingy? Give me a break. You can’t even fool a newborn with that argument. I think if everybody really wants to see blood, Corpse Carnival would be legalized live through your TV channel. Hey, anything with possible with humans. Why? Simple. Because we can!

Just remember that if you are going to do the crime, be prepared to do the time. It is sad that throughout the ages, humans don’t really learn from their lesson. That’s why we continue to fight each other over the centuries over trivial things. In that sense, that is what makes us humans too. If Apocalypse descends on us now and we survive, there is a big chance that humanity will take a big step backwards. Building the biggest prison won’t do because Earth itself is a prison for us human beings. But the saddest case would be those who are framed and forced to do time for a crime they never commit only to be cleared of their name decades later. Or never. Their entire lives wasted in that instant. No money or points could buy you freedom. That would be very much a bitter pill or candy to swallow. I’m glad my chocolate still tastes sugary sweet… :)

Is it a must feature that all flash based animation should last approximately 4 minutes or so? Is it something about the production costs that only allows them to make short animations? Oh heck, I was only speculating that last bit. But whatever the reason, Honto Ni Atta! Reibai Sensei (literally means “It Really Exists! Spirit Medium Teacher”) is one of the few flash based animes to be released over the internet like Haiyoru! Nyaruani and Double-J. I read the synopsis that wasn’t much and came to conclude that there was no harm in watching this series. After all, I would expect nonsensical randomness from such short series. 22 episodes x 4 minutes = 88 minutes, which is nearly one hour and a half hours of my time wasted if I chose to watch this. Hah. A big part of my life is ‘wasted’ on animes so this is no different. So to sum it up what this show is about, it’s about this school teacher who is into this occult thingy. She knows everything there is to know about the other world, the world of the dead and spirits but yet knows nothing about our own, the world of the living. Can you smell something funny happening here especially she’s a teacher to a bunch of equally weird students.

Episode 1
Akiko Yoshii is looking forward to her new school term as a middle school grader. She is also getting a new homeroom teacher, Juri Kibayashi. But the boys decide to play a nasty trick by locking the door with a broom. If that doesn’t work, she climbs in from the window and coming in like a ghost! Scared the spooks out of everyone! After introducing herself, Akiko asks her hobbies. First, Juri picks student seat number 4, Saito as demonstration. Then she chants a spell to call his ancestors. Look at all the spirits flying about! A spirit possesses Juri and is going to curse them all for awakening her by tearing them apart and eating their innards! Saito can’t believe his ancestors were that evil! As the spirit further describes how she’s going to make a meal out of them, Juri reverts back to normal and introduces some wonderful beef stew. WTF?! Probably too WTF till Eri Nitta passed out. Juri then says her hobby is communicating with the dead. Eri had just awoken and doesn’t feel too good so Juri casts as spell on her. Suddenly Eri becomes rude and dominating. Seems Juri has endowed Nobunaga’s spirit within her so that she won’t pass out! Oh, now ‘Nobunaga’ is torturing the boys! In that case, Juri puts another spell on Hinako Wakamiya and this time she turns into Mitsuhide! Soon the class is on fire and like a battlefield. It’s chaos! What a crazy way to start the new semester.

Episode 2
Looks like they have to start the term by rebuilding the classroom. But the class isn’t happy that the next period will be PE because of Juri, they have been doing PE all day long when she burnt the classroom down! However there is something more distressful going on. It seems someone has stolen the girls’ bloomers. But not every girl. Those ‘ugly’ ones were exempted. Juri sees no reason in why someone would steal them till she learns it could fetch a considerable price on the internet. So she decides to look for the culprit who stole the panties. Oops, she meant bloomers. First she has everyone close their eyes and warns them not to open them. Then she starts off with a fake spirit chant that scares Saito. So back to the real thing, she tells the culprit to raise his/her hand and promises she won’t do some paralyze thingy late at night and other haunting curses! Was she going to do all that?! Shortly, somebody’s hand is raised so Juri thanks that person for the honesty and will keep it a secret between them. But she is giving away hints about that person! Who has a big sister who graduated last year? When everyone is allowed to open their eyes, Juri says the culprit is a tengu. Do you think they will buy it? Later that evening with all the bloomers in her possession, Juri remembers Eri’s word about fetching a price over the internet. When Akiko comes in to get them, she is shocked to see Juri trying them on (so she could get a feel why it’s so special) and goes insane! Yeah, she was just a step from being reported to the police as a pervert. Well, all she got is interrogated by the faculty staff.

Episode 3
Scientific Nagara doesn’t Juri much and thinks there are tricks to her occult ways. She thinks her spirit summoning is due to dead bodies buried underneath the class! Since the physical examination is coming up, Nagara is confident that her elite class will never lose to Juri’s unscientific one (insert maniacal shrieky laughter here). Akiko tries to calm both teachers down as there is no need for hostility but it seems Juri got pissed off and accepts her challenge to settle things during that examination. The first round is the hearing test as Nagara boasts how her class spoke no more than 10 decibels during lessons. Plus, her students are given vitamins that improve their peripheral nervous system. Juri chants her spell and one of her students start hearing the voice of her deceased grandma!!! Round 2 has them in a vision test. Juri sends feral girl, Chinatsu Akagi to the battle front since she has 20/10 vision. However she starts crying as tears well up in her eyes and couldn’t see a damn thing because Nagara is reading a sad story. With both sides even, it now comes down to the final weight examination. Juri has lost interest and doesn’t want to go on so Nagara had to beg her to continue by giving her deep friend roll if she wins. Juri makes a u-turn decision. Sheesh… So the winner of this challenge will be the one whose weight is the heaviest! The more the better, right? Juri summons a pair of big demons (bigger than the school!) and won the contest! The scales broke… Yeah, Nagara pretend she didn’t see anything. Later as Juri chews on the fried roll, Nagara still things those demons are huge heavy costumes. Akiko thought they can settle this again next year but they’re not going to do it anymore since it’s too much effort. Akiko is appalled that they may actually get along well. In a weird way, they do think alike.

Episode 4
A cat named Kuroneko and other distressed cats are gathering to consult the great Cat King. This is Kuroneko’s first time so he hears about Cat King’s unfathomable strength and wisdom. Upon learning Cat King is black like him, he is ecstatic that even black cats can become king seeing black cats are frowned upon society as bad luck. Once Cat King arrives, Kuroneko is shocked to see her as human! It’s Juri! She’s the cat king?! But the other cats feel Kuroneko is being disrespectful. After all, they see Juri as a cat! Are they blind?! Or they too feel Cat King takes a different form other than a feline? So the cats take turns to tell her their troubles and she earnestly replies them. Well, all I can say is that her ‘consultation’ seems pretty normal, if not odd. Ignore them? Stare into space? When it’s Kuroneko’s turn, Juri notes how black he is, like an epitome of a curse! Shock! Worse, the other cats think she is praising him! Kuroneko starts crying because no matter what he’ll still be hated. Juri tells him there is nothing bad being black because that is what makes him unique. The moment he assumes that it is bad, it becomes bad. Don’t be pessimistic and just love yourself. Kuroneko is overwhelmed over her words. But when Juri starts saying his legs are short, plump, with eyes that looked like he ate a human, like as though he’s a cat goblin, he goes into a further shock. Yeah, splitting in half. The other cats applause over Cat King’s ultimate praise. Well, if you have learnt anything from Juri, don’t take it as an insult.

Episode 5
Juri introduces her class to a new transfer student, a blonde named Emma. However the way she talks seems to be like in those olden samurai days! Akiko even thought she summoned a spirit to possess her. Of course she did not! Then Emma and Chinatsu have a lively conversation of “Nice to meet you (insert ascending number here)!”. Akiko fears they may have another idiot. They ask about her hobbies and it seems she loves playing video games. Plus, she has every game console possible. Even the ones that will have things pop out of the screen. WTF?! Since she plays too much, her parents usually hide it and so she has to go searching for it. Akiko thought Motoko Mihoro was knowledgeable about games seeing she knows the games Emma plays. But it’s due to the fact she resells them. However Emma has a problem that’s bugging her every night. Each time she sleeps, she often feels paralyzed. Juri overheard their conversation and confirms through Emma’s spirit guardian (she has one?!) that Emma does indeed has sleep paralysis. Needing to stem this problem before it gets out of hand (leading to pain and stress, that is), she has her guardian spirits report to her if ever that happens and also Akiko will gladly help out. That night when Juri is playing cards with her spirits, she receives the sleep paralysis report and rushes her way to Emma’s room along with Akiko. In the dark room, they see her uncomfortable and mentioning her body can’t move. When Akiko turns on the light, they are shocked to see all the video game pads’ wire entangling her. So that’s why she’s paralyzed? No wonder they’re so pissed off. I guess she’s really an avid gamer. Yeah, she might be having a nice dream too…

Episode 6
Juri explains the supernatural being called Zashiki Warashi (child-like beings that reside in homes). Why? Because she has one as a new transfer student in her class! Oh no. More weirdoes. She is Kame and once lived in an inn. Unfortunately it burnt down and she was hungry and lonely till Juri picked her up. Hope Nagara and Vice Principal don’t find out. Whoops… Too late. They come into her class to reprimand her of whatever ruckus but couldn’t see Kame! Looks like only children can see her. Seeing nothing is wrong, they leave but with a warning they won’t let her off if she causes trouble next time. Kame took this as an insult and decides to ‘upgrade’ the school! Oh sh*t!!! Uhm… So what was upgraded? Well, the clock turned digital. Huh? Kame goes on an ‘upgrading spree’ other things in school. Whether or not useful, that depends. Portraits of Bach looking realistic? Science lab water faucet gushing out with full water force? Principal’s statue looks so macho? And yeah, Juri has one too. She became such a beautiful person! Not only she is polite but has discarded her occult fetish! Nagara and Vice Principal thought she was causing trouble again and barge in. However they are taken aback by her proper teaching manners but couldn’t recognize who the heck she is. Kame felt guilty that she caused trouble for everyone and decides to leave school with a heavy heart. As she leaves and the rest in tears over her departure, Akiko reads a magazine about Zashiki Warashi. They don’t remain in one place for a long time and is always on the move. But the place that loses them will experience horrendous tragedies, unfathomable damage and your father may even elope with a lover! Quick get her back!!! And so, Kame gets to study and stay with the class. Phew. Major disaster averted.

Episode 7
A bunch of alien cats, Captain, Tonto and Sagan are on their way to Earth. Only 61 days and 18 hours left. Though Captain was excited when they left their home planet (actually he was crying), he’s feeling bored because well, everywhere looks the same in space. Hoping something exciting will happen, suddenly a robot zooms pass them! Doesn’t it resemble Gundam? Displaying it on the monitor, Captain thinks this robot is more robot-like than he thought. So now what? Attack! But they don’t know if it’s friend or foe? Well then, surrender! What? Why? Okay, how about chase after it? But if they do so, they don’t have enough fuel to reach Earth. The robot inches closer and gives out a distress signal. Viewing the robot’s cockpit, they see a distressful jellyfish alien (let’s call him Jellyfish for convenience). Captain can’t believe this alien could make a humanoid robot. But they still have to help him. Meanwhile Juri’s class don’t believe about this alien story she just told. Well, it was from her dream this morning. Make that prophetic dream. There were the words “Prophetic Dream” on the top right corner of her dream that’s why she believes in it! Because Juri wanted to help them badly, she turned the entire day into self study and wants to return home to help the aliens. Seems Principal is an occult freak too and wants Juri to continue her story while Nagara dismisses that unscientific crap. Meanwhile, the cats hear out the Jellyfish’s story that he was supposed to attend his daughter’s big wedding day and was in danger of missing it due to his Economic Class Syndrome till the cats came along to help. He gets emotionally grateful and won’t forget their kindness. Back on Earth, Saito mentions since the alien’s problem has been solved, there is no need for her to return to communicate with them. Juri’s mood changes to an upset one as she tells the class to return to their seats because she is going to start her lesson.

Episode 8
Nagara is bloody pissed that Juri and her girls are using the chemistry lab for their nabe session. Japanese people’s way of socializing? If not for Nagara’s growling stomach, she would’ve shoo them away and not join them and let this tiny bit slide. Suddenly the lights go out. As explained, this is going to be a yami nabe and they must eat the first thing they pick out from the pot. The winner is the one who doesn’t give up. For the first round, the girls got sweet things, Emma gets a crab meat, Juri a horseshoe crab and Nagara a kokeshi doll!!! For the second round, the girls got a little nice slice of meat while Nagara got… Hinako’s handphone?! WTF?! How the hell did that phone got in there? And she got it for her birthday present?! Before the third round starts, Juri senses something amiss because Emma seems to be getting the good stuff. Though she denies, her secret is busted when Chinatsu gets hold and breaks her night vision goggles. The third round has the girls pick out mushrooms. Poisoned mushrooms from Mihoro. Stomach pain coming… Nagara wants to stop all this and get medical attention to them but Juri wants them to continue seeing that they’re the only ones left standing and wants them to settle this. Plus, the girls don’t want her to mind them and end the battle. Viewing them as making such a mature resolve, Nagara won’t let their efforts go to waste and accepts the challenge. At the end of the fourth round, Juri is knocked out because she bit something spicy while Nagara got half a pineapple. Flipping over the other side, there is a fruits carving that wishes her happy birthday. As revealed, this is just a setup for her surprise birthday since they know she wouldn’t accept a proper invitation. As they all wish Nagara happy birthday and Juri calling a truce today, Nagara informs them today today’s not her birthday. Oh man…

Episode 9
There’s this delinquent in class called Wanibuchi. He’s troubled. That’s because he likes Eri and is having trouble confessing to her. Please note Eri is still possessed by Nobunaga’s spirit. The next class is home economics cooking so he is resolved to tell her his true feelings. He has already taken care of all the obstacles for tomorrow’s class. Beating up a guy who is supposed to be paired with her? Yeah, take his place will ‘ya. Akiko and Hinako are worried about Eri because that scary Wanibuchi is in Eri’s group. But Akiko says not to worry because he won’t turn up for today’s cooking class. Speaking of the devil, there he is. Eat your words! Seems the plan is putting sweat in the cooking. When everyone tastes and finds it terrible, he will step in to eat everything and say how good it is. This will have Eri confess to him. Hey pal, you can stop daydreaming now. Juri once again takes the easy way out, telling her students to refer to the manual for their class. Some kind of teacher, eh? While the class are in a commotion, Wanibuchi takes this chance to start his plan but Chinatsu puts an entire tin of machine oil into the pot! The entire room is on fire! Wanibuchi panics but was told by Eri to complete their delicious stew together since that is what he promised. At first he couldn’t do it due to the flames but slowly he gets the determination to do it right now. Promising to complete this, Wanibuchi shouts out loud that he loves her. The class continues to be burnt to a crisp (again) while Eri gives out a maniacal laughter. Yeah, nobody thought of evacuating? In the aftermath, Eri confronts Wanibuchi about his love confession. She thought he loved the over-burnt charcoal stew. NOOO!!! Yeah, she wants him to eat it too. NNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 10
The cat aliens arrive at Earth and Captain notices its pathetic state. He thinks it should be run by higher beings like them (cue for maniacal laughter). They come into Kuroneko and are surprised there are cat beings like them on this planet. After introducing themselves from Planet Tuna-Mayo and their goal to invade Earth, seems Kuroneko tries to escape from this conversation. Captain wants him to bring them to his leader instead. To their shock, it is Juri the Cat King! A human as the king of cats? Kuroneko decides to play along with the other Earth cats to say these aliens are mad. Juri tears off Captain’s antenna and throws it away! Sagan and Tonto are appalled and think this is a sign of war but Captain (after retrieving his antenna) feels they must be calm and be diplomatic. Once again introducing themselves, their origins and their goal, Captain feels the humans aren’t fit to rule this planet that is blessed with sun rays and plentiful resources as they are exploiting it. However he will give the cats special treatment after enslaving the humans. Juri isn’t amused seeing the cats already have the freedom to do and eat what they want. The other Earth cats agree seeing cooperating would be very troublesome. Captain thinks they need to force them to cooperate when Juri again tears and throws away Captain’s antenna! His subordinates go after him and regroup. Captain reminds them that their motivation for this mission isn’t money or women but pride. Then they see an old lady giving free food to the nearby cats. Sagan and Tonto feel the cats have been totally brainwashed under the human’s control. But Captain couldn’t resist the temptation, throws away his antenna and goes join in the meal! WTF?! So where is the pride he was talking about?!

Episode 11
Hinako doesn’t really want to come to the Tanabata festival with her friends seeing she didn’t like the embarrassing yukata her mom bought. Juri and Nagara are at the festival stalls to keep a watch on the students but it seems Nagara will need to devote her time watching out for Juri who is really taken in by the festival’s spirit. They meet Saito and his friends as well as Chinatsu, Akiko and Hinako (forced to come). The guys are complimenting Hinako’s nice yukata but she thinks she’s being laughed at and runs away. Chinatsu goes after her. The guys fantasize about Mihoro in a mini yukata simply she has not enough materials to make it but to their dismay, she’s working at a stall instead. And getting paid for it. Nearby, they here Eri’s maniacal laughter because she is enjoying herself at the shooting gallery. She’s shooting the stall owner to see him dance instead of the target prizes!!! Chinatsu finds Hinako and scares her? Poor girl has had enough of it and runs away again. Meanwhile Juri and Nagara are at the Tanabata tree and see everyone’s wishes. Though unscientific, Nagara decides to write a wish just for fun. The teachers realize they both wrote the same wish for all their students to stay healthy. But soon that turns into disgust when they realize they share the same feelings. Oh, Hinako also wrote her wish. She hopes none of the wishes will come true! Oh dear.

Episode 12
Juri has her class listen up to something important. One day there were 4 guys who decided to do a kimodameshi (test of courage) at a haunted place and waited for 4 hours but nothing happened. They decided to go back but one of them mentioned something did happen. Apparently they could hear the rain the entire time when they’re supposed to be in a tunnel. Juri blows her top when there is no reaction from her students seeing this is supposed to be a scary story! Well, it’s the hot summer and she thought of telling a chilling ghost story to take away the heat. Saito decides to tell her how a real ghost story is done. One rainy day he forgot his umbrella, he decides to take a bus but spotted one waiting that wasn’t stated in the bus schedule. When he steps in, he realizes all the passengers are spirits of the dead! While the girls scream in fear, Juri is unmoved since she sees all those things every day. She throws down a challenge if they can scare her, she’ll let them skip doing summer homework. Thus begins an impromptu ghost story contest. In the middle of class. Mihoro starts off with a story of her neighbour who decided to her hometown during the Bon festival. After packing and leaving her apartment, she felt a chilling cold up her spine she never felt before. She hurried away and 2 weeks later when she return back to her apartment, she saw something terrifying: She left the air-cond on! Saito starts laughing but reprimands Mihoro she shouldn’t be telling jokes. But at least Chinatsu is scared by the ‘scary story’. Emma steps up for her turn.

Episode 13
Since Saito failed, he gets double the homework! Now it’s Emma’s turn for her scary story. Starting off with a couple of young pretty ladies at a prom (oh, the horrible drawing!), they talk about their pretty dresses and partying till they see a horrible girl wrapped in a horrible outfit. The story is cut off seeing Emma is taking too long with the intro story. Nagara comes in to chide the class for being a nuisance again. But once she learn if she can scare Juri so that she will stop whatever she’s doing, she takes up the challenge. She starts out with a good student with good grades who somehow ended up doing some unexplained mixed-up long-winded equation-cum-formula. How the heck is anybody supposed to understand that?! Suddenly the candles are blown up as Juri mentions their ghost story telling has attracted the spirits of the dead. Nagara rubbishes her claims as Hinako starts collapsing. The other kids start to feel nauseating. Juri offers to help but Nagara doesn’t want her to worsen the situation. Trying to find a scientific solution, she concludes it is carbon dioxide poisoning and opens all the windows. She tells the students about the pros of science and reasoning that the occult could never replace. However the students are still feeling sick and we see Juri exorcising the spirits. Nagara faints… Now do you believe? I guess occult is much scarier.

Episode 14
Akiko accidentally enters Nagara’s science lab instead of Juri’s room to seek an advice. However she can’t possibly tell Nagara that she wanted to ask Juri if her last life was a bug! Feeling guilty she started the conversation, Akiko decides to go with the flow and chat with her about their class lacking behind in studies (this is what Nagara thought she came here for). At the same time, Nagara can’t help about her instant noodles she is cooking and was about to eat. Both sides continue to ‘waste’ time talking on topics they probably wish the other will end soon. Akiko is going to miss her drama rerun and Nagara her perfect noodles. So when the conversation finally ended, Akiko’s rerun has already ended and Nagara’s noodle is absorbed in so much water. Mmm… Why does it taste good?

Episode 15
Kuroneko is wondering if he should eat the takoyaki and risk getting fat when suddenly a ugly starving cat, Maru comes up to him for food. Kuroneko learns Maru was once a pet cat but when his owner moved, she forgot all about him and was left behind to fend for himself.  A couple of girls are noting how ugly Maru is so much so that Kuroneko looks cuter. This has Kuroneko start feeling good all inside. I mean, an ugly person is put next to an uglier person, the former would look ‘better’, right? Because of this, Kuroneko takes Maru under his wing as he teaches him how to steal fish from the market. But since Maru is too weak, Kuroneko even shares his fish. But all this is just to make himself feel good. Kuroneko continues to take care and teach Maru the ways of their lives for several days. Then he realized Maru is fattened up, looking much better. The same couple of girls now comment how cute Maru is and that the black one ugly. Oh, it’s hurting inside. They even think of taking Maru back but Maru bares his fangs to scare them off! Maru didn’t want to go live with such owners seeing they insulted his master. Without Kuroneko, he would have never made it. He goes on singing praises about him and they were about to have an emotional hug when Maru’s filthy rich mistress comes looking for him. She regrets her actions and really wants him back. However Maru couldn’t abandon his master but Kuroneko tells him to just go because he’s a nuisance to him and that he is better off without him. Maru thinks his lies are always kind and takes up his words to return to his owner. However this is Kuroneko’s true feelings. Haha. Even cats have grudge.

Episode 16
Captain is adjusting to the nice life on Earth when Jellyfish returns to thank them because he made it to his daughter’s wedding. He feels the need to repay their kindness but why are Captain’s eyes looking like dollar signs?! Jellyfish knows their mission to conquer Earth and shows his name card that his line of work is Discount Conquering. He has lots of those Gundam robots lined up outside Earth and can vaporize the planet in 2 seconds! The cats panic but Jellyfish is eager to wipe out the humans so Captain and his team have an emergency meeting. It’s true that they initially wanted to conquer this planet but vaporizing it means they will no longer enjoy some of their favourite things. Sagan suggests all Captain has to do is refuse his offer. Nervous Captain goes back to Jellyfish and I guess he twisted his own words saying his subordinates don’t want to conquer this planet and to at least torture and tease the planet before conquering. Therefore they don’t need any assistance. Still, Jellyfish doesn’t feel right if he doesn’t help so he leaves a Gundam for them in case. Yeah, it will vaporize the planet in 7 seconds! Elsewhere Juri is explaining to her students about the weird dream she had about the Earth being vaporized. Of course they find it hard to believe. But the point of this as Juri points out is that people are unknowingly being saved and the giant robot that was left behind at Odaiba became a famous tourist attraction… Yeah, I find it hard to believe too.

Episode 17
A bank is being robbed and held hostage by a couple of robbers (We’ll call them Cowboy and Blondie for easier reference). Among the hostages include Juri, Saito, Principal and 3 sisters known as the Misfortune Sisters. Poverty? Bad Luck? Death? Oh sh*t! While waiting for the getaway car, the robbers want the hostages to stash the cash into the bag and it seems Principal agrees to help them out. As explained by Juri, due to the Stockholm Syndrome, when a person is together long enough with the baddies, he/she will sympathize with their cause. But it’s not even half an hour… Principal notes that the cash in the vault consists only of bonds from some poor kingdom which has gone bankrupt just a second ago. Poverty sister’s work? Yeah, Blondie’s wallet is also gone. Hey! The kingdom’s head looks like Steven Seagal?!  Because the robber accidentally got rough with Bad Luck sister, suddenly Principal and the robbers start looking like sick zombies! Now it’s Death sister’s cue. A sniper who can calculate the Earth’s rotation starts shooting at them! Plus, the TV news mentions an incoming meteor! It will slam into a certain bank. Oh sh*t! Time to evacuate? Blondie tells Cowboy that they should head to a beach down south if they make out of this safely.  The duo suddenly bust out wanting to be arrested. Wow. They’re crying, repenting and prostrating! Want to catch criminals like these next time? Just send in the trio of Misfortune Sisters!

Episode 18
Juri and her class are at the beach. But she is going to make the kids do a kimodameshi! They have to make their way through the spooky dark forest to the lighthouse and write their names in the notebook she left there. Since there is an odd number, Saito will be doing it alone! He pleads for Juri to come with him but she gives an excuse she is drunk and that he can take her familiar spirits with him instead! While the rest are freaked out by the real spirits, seems Eri is having the thrill of her life slicing those spirits with her sword. Can she really cut them? Along the way, Saito meets a pretty girl named Kanako as she agrees to accompany him. Kanako finds this fun as she has never played with friends her age. Mentioning she is always sick and that she just recently moved here. Meanwhile Juri is having game with her spirit when she receives a message about Saito. Saito and Kanako reach the lighthouse to see the beautiful sunrise. Kanako has a favour to ask from him. She wants him to be her friend. He agrees and in her happiness she gives him a seashell necklace as commemoration of their friendship. While Saito tries to find something to give her in return, Kanako vanishes as the sun rises! Oh sh*t! Don’t tell me! Juri rushes in only to learn Kanako is gone. She explains Kanako is a ghost. She was sick and came to a hospital at a cape but couldn’t recover in time and passed away. She wandered around trying to find a friend and since Saito befriended her, her soul is at peace and went to heaven. Saito couldn’t believe that because she had just made a friend but Juri says that’s all she needed and also knew well that she would fade out of this world by doing so. What the heck is this melodrama ending? Till we see Eri still enthusiastically slashing the spirits. Yeah, they all got done in by her. No mercy!

Episode 19
Tonto and Sagan are trying to come up with ways to defeat the Cat King in order to conquer Earth. But Captain seems to have found 5000 followers! Serious?! Why does he have a laptop?! This could only mean… Oh great. The ‘followers’ are more like cat lovers posting comments on the site! Why is Captain tweeting back?! Is he serious in conquering Earth?! However he seems to have found a weakness for Cat King: Squid. Tonto and Sagan think Captain is going to do something horribly cruel with the squid to torment Cat King however Captain is such a weak-hearted cat almost puking at their suggestions! So how? Seeing squids are humans’ popular food source, based on his internet search via Ggoole (it’s not a spelling error!), in olden times, if you give a squid to a cat, it will not be able to stand due to some toxin. But how will they cook it? Again based on Ggoole, they have to remove its cotton. Cotton? Squid has cotton? Captain tries his luck but got black ink squirted over his face! After struggling with the squid and managing to make several sumptuous squid dishes, Juri and the cats offer their thanks for the feast. They look like full and satisfied customers. So what went wrong? As narrated, the substance called Thiaminase which is toxic to cats becomes harmless when heated. On a side note, Captain’s followers increased to 10,000 supporters on his profile with comments to do his best for world domination. F*ck yeah! He loves it!

Episode 20
Juri, Chinatsu, Mihoro and third year delinquent student, Akira Yajima are on their way to Mt Cat. Akira has lost her cat, Romeo and was introduced by her childhood friend Mihoro to seek Juri’s help since she is into the occult. Since Romeo and Akira have been together since young, this could mean that Romeo is quite old and his sudden disappearance means he may be at Mt Cat, a place where cats gather, live, train and bath. But any human who becomes lost there will be possessed by cats in human form. Juri didn’t want to help out but with Akira forcing her to help (can you fight that delinquent stare?), I guess she has no choice. Juri wonders if Romeo has forgotten about her seeing cats who come here have abandoned their lives with humans. Akira has proof that Romeo is quite close. A picture that shows Romeo looking like a delinquent and scratching her?! Scars of love? Juri warns not to be fooled by the cats even if they seem polite and kind because it’s just a ruse to deceive them. But it’s epic fail from the start seeing the cat inn owner warmly welcomes them! The girls are invited to dip into the hotspring but were warned in time by Juri they must not or else they will be turned into a cat because the water is from a cursed spring. Then walking through the souvenir halls, they are tempted to eat the delicious snacks. But again Juri cautions them not to fall for the cats’ tricks and eat them as they too will transform into cats. Akira sees Romeo but he doesn’t recognize her. Did he really forget about her?

Episode 21
The cats think they are here to kidnap Romeo and attack them by splashing the cursed water. Romeo seems to be enjoying the fun splashing the water too!!! Mihoro and Chinatsu got splashed and a part of them turned into a cat. Juri got so pissed off that they want to turn them into cats so badly that she transforms into a cat and attacks them back. Romeo accidentally splashes on Akira but she didn’t turn into a cat. Seems it is just regular water. The cats are restrained and Romeo hasn’t forgotten who Akira is. But he tells her to go home instead. There is another reason Juri didn’t tell them why cats come here. That reason is to die. Romeo would be 80 years old if he is human and he didn’t want Akira to see him in such a miserable state. He tells her to get a new kitten but Akira tells him to screw it because there is nothing wrong of her taking care of him till he dies. She wants to be with him. Romeo notes how independent she has grown to be. Someone who was once a cry-baby. He laments they were born on the same day and raised together but can’t be together forever. He has a last wish for her: Let him say goodbye with a smile. Akira cries all the way on the train back home. Juri comforts her with a tale that there’s a legend that cats change their fur in heaven to return to their owners. Chinatsu instantly cries over that touching story!!! WTF?! Isn’t she overreacting?! Akira is confident she will get to see Romeo again.

Episode 22
Hinako for the first time is walking back with Mihoro and Chinatsu from their summer remedial class. Usually she never liked walking home with others. Chinatsu spots Kuroneko sleeping on the street (I thought it was dead!) and took the liberty to draw white outlines like as though it’s a murder scene! The trio stop by a shop to get ice cream but Chinatsu is disheartened her soda flavour has been sold out. She settles for the cola flavour instead while Mihoro shares her coffee flavour with Hinako. They continue their journey after having their fill. At the tracks, Hinako part ways with them since her home is in the other direction. Hinako wanted to say something more than just waving goodbye but couldn’t bring herself to say it. So a normal goodbye is good enough for her. Hinako meets Juri on her way. Juri notes how Hinako reminds her of herself during her younger days. She thinks they are pretty alike but Hinako doesn’t think so.

Honto Ni Hen! Yabai Sensei (It’s Really Weird! Oh No Teacher)
Eh? So it ends just like that? Well, I’m not saying it is a bad ending seeing the nature of this series which has no real plot whatsoever but I feel it could have ended on a better note. At least have all the characters in the final episode as a big final goodbye. But then again, that is my opinion and I shouldn’t have high hopes on flash based animes. Even if this anime is supposed to be about this teacher and her hobbies in the occult, it doesn’t seem to be that overwhelming. I mean, due to the random antics, you’d be trying to understand what is going on rather than be preoccupied with that premise. Yes, we have the subjects of spirits and ghosts touched in nearly every episode but as a break in this format, some episodes were pretty much focused on the cats and those aliens. I don’t see how they are related to Juri and her class besides as a variety and side distraction.

Each of the characters has their own peculiar habits that make them likeable (not to mention a weirdo). Like the sporty and cheerful Chinatsu whose emotion can instantly swing from happy to sad if you tell an arguably sad story (even if it wasn’t sad in the first place). Hinako is people shy, Emma the funny foreigner with penchant for video games while Mihoro is so darn poor that the things she do feels like a joke but nevertheless always smiling (albeit a little creepy). Doesn’t anybody get concerned seeing Eri has been possessed by the spirit of Nobunaga since the first episode?! So Wanibuchi still likes her even if she’s a different person? Maybe it’s the inside that counts. Yeah, good luck pal trying to get the warlord to fall in love with you. I thought Akiko would be the ‘main’ character but she was somehow ‘absent’ not in just the last or few couple of episodes. If I remember, the last episode she made her actual screen time appearance was in episode 16 whereby she went to talk to Nagara. Speaking of that science teacher, I feel she using her scientific approach is just an excuse to join in Juri and her class. She may not show it and it may not look like it but deep down I have this feeling that she really wants to be part of the fun. See how she’s always coming to Juri’s class whenever they make a ruckus? If she really wanted to tell them off, she really, really, really would have. Say, what happened to Kame? I thought with the class deciding not to let her go, I thought she would be a regular, if not making cameo appearances. But I guess she just made a one-off appearance only just like Maru, the Misfortune Sisters and those foreign bank robbers. The bunch of alien cats are a bunch of jokers. Invading Earth is such an easy job but due to Captain’s faint-hearted nature, I guess it is better for them to blend in as Earth’s cats and live off the kindness of kind humans, eh? They can add their names to the list of failed invaders like Ika Musume and Sgt Keroro. I wonder how Juri ended up as the Cat King too. Did she possess some cat spirit? Is she a reincarnation of a cat? It’s odd that every cat except Kuroneko and the alien cats see her as one. But I guess she has no qualms being one either.

As I found out, the seiyuus voice multiple characters for this series. At least 2 of them. For instance Kaoru Mizuhara (Gisen in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls) does the voice of Juri and Kuroneko. Maybe it saves cost? But seriously, I wasn’t paying attention the voice acting closely enough to really tell that they are voiced by the same person. But they did a good job in sounding like different characters. Others include Akiko and Nagara by Miyu Matsuki (Yoshinoya in Hidamari Sketch series), Chinatsu and Captain by Nozomi Sasaki (Nanami in Bokura Ga Ita), Eri and Kame by Emiri Katou (Kagami in Lucky Star), Emma and Tonto by Ayano Yamamoto (Nae Tennouji in Steins; Gate), Mihoro and Sagan by Ikumi Hayama (Matsuoka in Mitsudomoe), Hinako and Maru by Mai Fuchigami (Maekawa in Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko), Wanibuchi and Romeo by Yuuki Ono (Pin in Kimi Ni Todoke) and Saito and Jellyfish by Shinya Takahashi (Masao Murasako in Shiki). The only seiyuu who voiced a single role is Ayana Taketatsu (Azusa in K-ON!) as Akira. Yeah, I can recognize that voice anywhere as long as she sounds tough or reprimanding. There are 3 ending pieces for this series and are all sung by Meaw. I don’t know, they just sound weird to me. The meow-ish Pair being the first one for the first half followed by the upbeat “lalala” Owakare Bayashi and the final casual dreamy Neko Kuronikuru lasting for a meagre 3 episodes!

Next time you have a teacher who can communicate with spirits and do exorcisms, make sure you don’t get her to be a medium to communicate with your dead ancestors. You might be finding out a thing or two about the skeleton closets in your family that you really don’t want to know. Would you like to be haunted by the ghost of your past so to speak? And if she is the kind who loves dancing, she would summon up the undead and zombies and do a Thriller dance ala Michael Jackson! Besides, what the heck is Juri doing as a teacher when she can open her own business as a spirit medium? She is so friendly with some of them and can even play a card game with them! By being a teacher, what is she trying to teach her students? Hell, is she even properly teaching her students? When you can see dead people at any time, I guess you can say that every day would be a ghostly affair. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Ro-Kyu-Bu

May 6, 2012

Finally! This is the long awaited female version to the male dominated Slam Dunk! That’s right, now we have girls doing the dribbling, jumping and shooting. But if you are thinking you’re going to see some bouncing boobs, you’ll be sorely disappointed to know that almost every girl here is as flat as the washboard because you’re talking about lolis playing basketball. Oops, sorry for the insult. After what happened with the sports themed Softenni, I was also expecting somewhat the same with Ro-Kyu-Bu but if you want to compare both series in terms of fanservice, this one isn’t as bad and mindless as the former.

Oh wait. Did I mention lolis playing basketball? And I really mean little girls from elementary school playing basketball. What’s wrong with that? Well, if you’re trying to look for grammatical errors in the sentence then you won’t find any. You know basketballs are usually played by tall people, right? So see my point now? How the heck are they going to pull off any cool slam dunking moves when they can’t even reach the hoop?! But that is not going to be the issue though it is a point it kept bugging me throughout the series. Unless they readjust the height of the hoop, that is. I mean, there’s a reason why they call it mini basketball in this series. They can’t be referring to the players only, right?

Like in many sports themed animes, it is tempting to give the main characters a special skill or two. Be glad to know that the exaggeration factor is almost non-existent here and the moves are more down-to-earth. So don’t expect to see jaw dropping moves of someone who can jump higher than the building or throw the ball so fast that it is on flames so much so the opponents can’t touch it. Really. That is what I thought if you’re going to put mind blowing moves in this anime. Though we have a fair share of screen time of the girls in action on court, what drives this anime most is the interaction between the girls in the team and their coach, who happens to be the only guy in the team. Harem? Love triangle? Fanservice hijinks? Heck, maybe better than those exaggerative moves I mentioned.

Episode 1
High school student Subaru Hasegawa reluctantly drags himself to Keishin Academy to be the coach of the elementary division girls’ basketball team. The girls comprising of Tomoka Minato, Maho Misawa, Saki Nagatsuka, Airi Kashii and Hinata Hakamada greet him dressed in maid outfit! Are they trying to land a good impression on him? As the girls go change to their proper attire, Subaru remembers how his aunt Mihoshi Takamura (f*ck! I thought it was his sister!) wanted him (blackmail is a more appropriate word) to coach them for 3 days. Why? Because she was appointed as the basketball club’s advisor but know nuts about the game. And since Subaru has experience in the game since middle school, why not? Only thing is, Subaru thought he had disassociated himself from the game since his basketball club was suspended for a year when his team captain was caught in a scandal having an affair with the coach’s daughter. So the only way to get Subaru to say yes to her wish is to threaten to tell everyone his embarrassing ambition essay about how he loves mommy dearest so much. Subaru starts off with coordination exercises on offence and defence. He thinks Airi should play the defence since she is tall but she starts crying! Airi has height complex and she is one of those girls who think big is weird. The girls have a hard time consoling her out of this one. Later Subaru sees Tomoka nailing a successful free throw and wants her to show it to him again. The girls take a shower as Airi apologizes for wasting precious time during their practice. But they are okay with it and think her size is proof that her body is growing at the right pace. I guess it’s a cue for them to grope her boobs. What the hell is this groping combo?! Back home, the girls must really love the game because they are seen doing basketball related stuff like playing a video game, reading manga and drawing. Next day, Airi gives her friends each a charm (as read from the horoscope) and hopes Subaru’s opinion on them will improve. The second day continues with Subaru giving more basic coaching as he observes their movements. For instance he can tell Tomoka has experience in playing the game judging from her shooting and passing while Maho can jump high and is fast. Subaru notices Tomoka practising using her own training menu when excited Maho thinks they can level up several times a day to reach the prefectural games in no time. However Subaru has to bring her down the ground because levelling up will take a month the fastest. Maho becomes upset because they can’t wait that long and runs off home. Subaru finds a note in his locking instructing for his resignation. The final day comes as Subaru’s mom, Nayu talks about the team he is in charge and how worried Mihoshi wanted to keep him in contact with basketball in any way she could. Subaru didn’t like what he heard and excuses himself. In school, his childhood friend and former basketball club member, Aoi Ogiyama invites him to go watch street basketball later but he turns her down since he has coaching to do. As Subaru makes his way, he runs into a group of boys led by Natsuhi Takenaka, who has business with him. The girls do some stretching while noting Subaru’s tardiness. Is he still mad over yesterday?

Episode 2
It seems the boys are the ones who sent the letter. But upon finding out he’s only coaching for 3 days, they felt relieved (they thought Maho’s bragging about finding a real amazing coach was a threat). Because Subaru is in the dark, Natsuhi lets him on some information. Seems the boys and girls basketball team are going to have a match next Sunday over the gym hall time usage. The boys are ambitious and want to seriously practice to go further than last year. However Natsuhi thinks the girls can’t improve and are just fooling around. Sharing the hall is no go since practising with those losers will be a waste of time. So when both teams take it to their advisors, the argument (praying mantis vs tiger aura?!) ended up in a match showdown. If the girls win, they get to practice the usual 3 days a week. But if the victory goes to the boys, they will have 6 days a week and the girls must disband. Subaru maintains he is on nobody’s side seeing that it is impossible to turn the girls into pros within 3 days, much to the boys’ relief. Subaru returns to the gym and as the girls are about to apologize, he lets them know what he has learnt. He apologizes he can’t make them win and there is no other way. Just when you thought Maho was over that incident, here she goes again throwing another tantrum before running away. This time Saki chases after her. Later Subaru and Mihoshi discuss about things. She thinks he is running away and the fact that he didn’t agree to coach because of her (I think she’s still partly responsible). Even if he’s still not interested, is he going to just abandon the girl (Tomoka) whom he thinks has great potential?

Next day, Subaru meets up with Aoi and Kazunari Uehara. Kazunari teases him for losing his touch since he quit basketball and challenges him to do 10 free throws. Subaru takes up the challenge and amazes the crowd with each amazing clean shot. However with each perfect shot, he feels unsatisfied that he can be better. By the time he realizes it, he has finished and scored them all, winning the bet. Then he leaves and meets Tomoka on his way home. Seems she wanted to practice basketball at school but the gym is being used by the volleyball club. He invites her to play at his home. After preparing the necessary equipment, Tomoka doesn’t want to just practice herself but play a 1-on-1 game in which if she wins, he must continue to coach them. Subaru agrees and sets several handicaps for himself which may seem unfair but he thinks otherwise. He won’t jump and Tomoka wins if she can score a point. Tomoka surprises him with several fast reflexes and moves but at the end, she is still no match for experienced Subaru. As they take a break, Tomoka explains that she would not play basketball other than the team she has now. It’s because of them she gets to play the game. Before she transferred to Keishin, she was in a basketball club and was so passionate and practiced hard every day that she snubbed her teammates’ feelings and began isolating herself. After her transfer, she was a loner and one day Maho and Natsuhi were in an argument so Mihoshi let them settle it out via basketball match and picked Tomoka as part of the team. The girls won though Tomoka singlehandedly did everything herself. She thought she might be hated again but Maho was so impressed and decided to form a basketball club together. The rest is history. That’s why she feels they are important to her and have taught her a valuable lesson. So if the girls lose next Sunday’s match, she’ll never play basketball again. Not because she hates the game but she would rather stay with her friends. After she leaves, Subaru suddenly has a change of heart and wants her to continue playing. He feels she just can’t quit basketball like that. Not after the amazing talent he saw. He vows to do everything he can to protect both her place and passion. Oh Subaru, you made a loli cry… Subaru sees Mihoshi to get any information on the boys’ team. Yeah, she already knew this was coming and handed him a box of info! I guess this means he’s back as their coach. Hooray! Though their winning chance may seem slim, the fun part is turning that around. Being the underdog is always fun. If you’re a favourite, you get lots of pressure. Next day as Subaru returns to the gym thinking of apologizing to everyone, the girls greet him in their maid uniform once more. Deja vu?

Episode 3
The girls apologize for not taking things seriously and vow to train harder. After Subaru coaches Saki and Maho on shooting practices, he sees Hinata collapsed outside for pushing too hard. I guess he got motivated being called “onii-chan” so he rushes her to the infirmary on his back. Hinata likes his back so much that she is literally ‘healed’. Really. Plus, she won’t let him put her down when he’s supposed to take off his shoes. Then they come across Natsuhi who isn’t happy he is still coaching the girls. He panics thinking Hinata is hurt but is relieved when it’s nothing serious. Hmm… He may have a thing for her. Still, coach or no coach, he is confident the boys will win. At the infirmary, they meet Touko Hatana who has a penchant of giving students nicknames. All except for Tomoko whom she hasn’t come up with one yet. As Subaru puts Hinata on the bed, Hinata mentions she loves basketball very much and will do her best. Even if this means practice will be tougher from now on. Bring it on! Late that night as Subaru studies the videos of the boys in action, he gets a call from Tomoka. She is concern about Airi. She seems troubled. Subaru thought if Airi was the centre due to her height, they could cover more area but it’s going to be tough with her complex. So conscious that words like small or big can mean life or death. Getting superstitious, eh? However Subaru has an idea. Next day during practice, Subaru tells Airi that she has gotten shorter! Actually she didn’t notice him standing on his hind legs. Airi thinks sleeping in the closet made her growth stop! WTF?! Isn’t like sleeping in a coffin?! Later as Subaru goes over the game plan with Tomoka, he needs her help into tricking Airi and keep this from everyone else. For the next few days, everyone practises and trains hard. They get enough motivation to do their best. Match day arrives and as soon as the game starts, the girls quickly take the lead and surprise the boys with their fast pace and steals. Mihoshi is impressed especially Airi’s improvement. Subaru reveals when he was going over the player positions, he made Airi a small forward. He wanted Tomoka to have this position but he has Airi take up the challenge failing which he will have to change her position with Tomoka, which is the centre. And they call that Big Man. Scared enough? Better do a good job. So practically Airi is actually doing the role of the centre in the game but thinks she’s the small forward since she’s not the main attacker but Tomoka. Plus, with Airi close to the basket, her shots will be easier. During time out, the girls take a healthy lead as Subaru predicts the boys’ team will realize a man isn’t enough to cover Airi and will use two-man defence instead. In view of this, they will exploit this one-man opening. The trick is working because the ball is passed to the girl who is not guarded, confusing their opponents. However as time passes, the girls start to tire and make blunders. This allows the boys to catch up as the score is levelled.

Episode 4
During time out, Subaru changes his strategy for the girls to pass around to stall for time and for Airi to receive any rebounds. However it’s not working as the boys manage to steal and take the lead for the first time, stretching it by 6 points. But the girls didn’t give up and fight and claw their way back. When Natsuhi has the ball, Subaru gives the cue to Hinata to block him. Taking advantage of his love for her, he is in a dilemma. Hinata feigns a collision offence when Natsuhi passes close to her (as previously instructed by Subaru). In the dying seconds, the boys lead by a point as they try to stall for time. Three of them are trying to guard against Tomoka. Then she shoots. But it’s a fake shot. She actually passed it to Maho who successfully nails the ball in before the buzzer reaches zero! The girls won by a point! What a dramatic comeback! Time for a big emotional group hug! They celebrate at Subaru’s home as Airi thanks Subaru for her small forward position. But Subaru starts apologizing for deceiving her. To calm her down, Subaru mentions of her courage and beauty so Maho thinks he is proposing to her! Tomoka starting to feel irritated… As Subaru setups the fireworks, Tomoka wishes Subaru to reconsider coaching for them because without him, they wouldn’t be where they are now. She wants to continue receiving his lessons. He still thinks they need a proper coach other than an amateur like him. Mihoshi suggests that if Tomoka manages to do 50 consecutive free throws, he must continue coaching. But he thinks it’s simply unthinkable. Next morning, he receives a surprise visit by Tomoka who wishes to practice her free throws. Since they didn’t set any deadline, looks like she’ll be coming here till she gets 50 in a row. At school, Aoi and Kazunari tell Subaru that they are assembling people who want to play basketball after school twice a week. They decided this after seeing him bat and should do so to prevent getting out of shape. Subaru attends the meet and even coaches several girls nearby, something that Aoi mentions he would never have done and only to guys. Tomoka continues to practice her free throws but doesn’t reach her desired target. As change of pace, he shows her videos of Japan’s basketball team in last year’s FIBA World Championship. Subaru is confident she can do it and it’ll be hard not to see her throw those shots. On another practice day, the sky suddenly started raining but Tomoka continues to throw. Finally she successfully lands the 50th shot and Subaru saw how beautiful she is and calls her Shiny Gift. Something about a flower blooming after the rain. I don’t know if the rain affected her throws… So with Subaru back as the girls’ coach again, it’s that déjà vu scene again. But this time, the girls greet him in a swimsuit apron outfit. Yeah, I guess a change is sometimes good.

Episode 5
Seems Mihoshi has set up Subaru to take the girls go on a training camp since he’s free. Yeah, very free alright. The girls make him onigiris (coming in all shapes and sizes!) and also miso soup. He praises Saki that she can be a good wife so the other girls also want to hear that comment from him. He just didn’t say who would be their husband, eh? Since their next opponent is Class 6D, it will be another match against the boys. Subaru thinks of roping in Natsuhi since he is in Maho’s class but was told he moved on to football. Something about wanting to avoid playing basketball with Maho. As the girls go practice, they are surprised to see Natsuhi practising basketball. Subaru is called in to break up Maho and Natsuhi before the fight gets worse. As mentioned, he did want to play football but his teacher messed up and put him into basketball. So no choice he is here to practice. Subaru confirms this with Mihoshi who says that Natsuhi didn’t refuse the offer when asked if he was fine competing in basketball even though he wasn’t supposed to. But as for mediating the argument part, Subaru will have to figure it out. I guess being a basketball coach isn’t enough. Subaru tries to ask Natsuhi himself and to practice together but was being mocked that he’s a lolicon, since the girls’ basketball team still exists. Maho wants to settle with Natsuhi through basketball to see who will make the regular team but he refuses because it’s not worth seeing her play. Maho’s blood is boiling and if her pals didn’t hold her back, she could’ve exploded. Subaru asks Tomoka for help seeing he can talk openly to her than the rest. Though she feels she isn’t good, till she learns he was going to ask somebody else did she change her mind to try her best. They start off with video games. Team Maho-Natsuhi is doing well. When Saki switches with Tomoka, the former team lost badly and they start blaming each other how they suck! Yeah, another fight! Tomoka still playing the game by herself… Next is a card game but the rivals start arguing when they think each other is holding the game up. I don’t know about the next plan to cut onions together. It’s odd to see them pick up a vegetable weapon and fight while crying! Radish against cucumber? Subaru sees Tomoka to redo their plan. Tomoka thinks it’s her fault but he doesn’t think so. Because it was dark, Saki saw them and misinterprets they were having that kind of relationship. She even assured them she didn’t take pictures with her handphone? You mean, she planned to do that? Anyway Subaru dismisses that thought. Late that night, Subaru has Natsuhi accompany him to buy some stuff. He asks her about his strained friendship with Maho. He reveals Maho will quit basketball. Since young, she has this skill to learn things very fast. As not to lose out, Natsuhi practiced like hell and once he is able to master it, Maho lost interest and moved on to other things. In short, once she gets good on something, she’ll quit. He couldn’t stand it if she does it for basketball and to prevent that from happening, he severed their friendship. So the only thing left for her to master is free throws. When they return, they see Maho practising free throws alone. Subaru says that even if there’s no club meeting, she’ll still practice every day. Not for herself but for the girls of her basketball team. That’s why he thinks she’ll not quit. He also thinks Natsuhi has reached his target to not play around but make her dedicate herself to something. The team didn’t exist for a while, so it took more time to realize it.

Episode 6
A short flashback sees young Natsuhi and Maho arguing. Saki threatens she’ll leave if they don’t stop fighting. In an instant, they did. Saki notices Natsuhi practising together and could guess Subaru worked his magic last night. He also tells them what happened so Saki mentions Maho’s pride began when she entered the basketball team by giving her a pair of eye guard glasses even though Saki couldn’t play the game. And since she can’t turn her down, she started playing basketball. Later Saki, Maho and Natsuhi are cleaning the gym together. Saki hints what she knew from Subaru and tells him that this is his chance since nobody else is around. Natsuhi goes up to Maho and apologizes for avoiding her. Maho is so surprised (she really didn’t expect this) that she is starting to feel weird inside. When everyone else returns, they are glad to see the duo back on good terms practising together. Though, the ‘friendly’ argument and teasing are still there. Subaru announces tonight’s dinner will be okonomiyaki. The rest seem alert. It’s not that they hate that food, it’s rather Saki suddenly turns into a strict slave driver in making okonomiyaki! It’s understandable since her family runs that kind of shop so she wants the dish to be perfect. In the ends, I guess she does everything herself. After dinner, they realize Hinata and Natsuhi missing. No Maho, he didn’t kidnap her. Saki thinks he may have taken her to the shrine seeing Natsuhi once created a basketball hoop there. Because Maho is afraid of the dark, she glued 3 torchlights to her forehead!!! Along the way, they see something strange on the ground. Subaru goes to investigate and is surprised to see Hinata’s panties! He has no choice but to keep it and give an excuse as some cloth scrap. The gang see Natsuhi coaching Hinata in throwing shots. Subaru realizes Hinata mistook her handkerchief and brought her panties along instead. They leave them practice for a while more after hearing Hinata’s determination to play well so that everyone can be happy. Back at the shower, Natsuhi must be one happy guy because Hinata gave him a high-five after landing a successful throw. He is surprised to pick up Hinata’s panties in the basket. When Subaru is about to come out of the shower, he has no choice but to hide it and make a run.

That night, Subaru wakes Natsuhi up on a stealth mission to return the panties. Yeah, he left it there in hopes one of the girls would picked it up. So both guys equally at fault? They manage to sneak in and as Subaru is about to put it into Hinata’s back, Maho’s sleep talking startles him and causes the futons in the closet to drop over him. The girls wake up (except Hinata who sleeps through everything) while Natsuhi abandons Subaru and dashes out. Subaru needs to hide somewhere quick before he is busted. The girls roll and put up the futon back. It seems Subaru is hiding under Tomoka’s futon (she allowed him). Later he goes out when all is clear. Tomoka wonders what happened so he gives an excuse he left some basketball material and came to get it though it’s not important. When he goes back to his room, Natsuhi is still awake (apparently who can sleep after that close call). Natsuhi reminds Subaru about the game rules that unless a player is injured, he cannot substitute them. This means he has to choice which of the 6 will play in the game. Natsuhi wants Subaru not to bench Hinata because she is working hard. But Subaru has no intention of benching anyone. Well, you can’t let all 6 play, right? So how? Next morning, Natsuhi leaves the girls so they can participate by themselves. They aren’t happy he’s leaving so Subaru says he is leaving because he thinks they can win without him. Natsuhi adds that he may reconsider rejoining if they can’t win without him. I guess with him saying that, they can’t back down and take up the challenge. However Subaru makes Natsuhi the coach from now on and he’ll be just an outsider. On match day, Subaru is watching in a vaulting horse box. Well, he really did want to watch so Mihoshi had made arrangements for him. Haha. Just don’t get caught. The game ends with the girls winning the match with Hinata using all she learnt from Natsuhi to throw the final shot in. A teacher notices the box and carries it back to the storeroom. Then the girls come in and Subaru thought it’s his chance to ask them for help to get him out. However, they start changing their clothes. Yeah, best view of the game alright. Hinata bought a new pair of panties since she lost hers during the training camp but the girls feel Subaru and Natsuhi couldn’t be the culprit. How confident are they? Oh, somebody is going to get the towel on the box… Oh Subaru! Is this Doomsday?! Is he going to be busted for good?! Is his status as basketball coach going to turn into lolicon voyeur?!

Episode 7
Subaru brings Tomoka to the sports store to get a new pair of shoes since hers is worn out. He panics upon seeing Aoi and her friends coming in but manages to get out without them spotting. Tomoka thinks back that her pals teased and supported her over her ‘date’ with Subaru. He gives her a packet of towel as thanks for always practising with him in the morning. She is happy and will treasure it. Meanwhile Aoi’s friends talk about her and Subaru. Aoi mentions they don’t hang out as often as before so they get an idea in tomorrow’s group meeting. They suggest Aoi to coach Subaru for his exams next Sunday giving an excuse they won’t reinstate him in the basketball team next year if he doesn’t do well. Obviously it’s a plan to get him and Subaru together but Kazunari couldn’t read the atmosphere and offers to coach Subaru himself. And got punched in the gut. During basketball practice, Subaru notices something bothering Airi as she’s not concentrating. Since she won’t say, Subaru has to mention ambiguous stuff like how irreplaceable she is to him, causing the other girls to misconstrue his words. They thought it was a second confession. He learns they will have swimming lessons next week but Airi can’t swim. Subaru offers to teach them next Sunday. Erm, isn’t that his ‘date’ with Aoi? Apparently he went to beg to Aoi to give the next group meeting a miss but will make it up to her next week. Realizing his folly, Aoi isn’t ready to forgive him and lands him a straight kick. Later, Maho and Hinata ‘ambush’ Subaru to ask his opinion on their swimsuits. They were caught and reprimanded by Saki. Subaru and Tomoka arrive outside Maho’s house for the swimming practice. Make that mansion. Very HUUUUUUGE mansion. They are greeted by the household maid, Hijiri Kuina. The girls get into proper attire and it seems Airi is very ashamed of showing herself. When Maho unwraps her, she panics and accidentally heads straight into the pool. Subaru dives into save her from drowning but she’s clinging like a leech. More like a certain body part of hers is suffocating him. Subaru promises to hold Airi’s hand when they enter the water. Due to his restricted movements, he got into an ambiguous position with Tomoka so the other girls also hop into the fray. This is called teamwork? So Subaru is out for the second time as the girls argue about their flat washboards. Hinata unhooks Airi’s top but Tomoka snatches it back to restore order before Subaru ‘revives’. During the break, Airi reveals her fear of water because she fell off a boat into a river alone when she’s young. Airi breaks down as she berates herself as a useless coward slowing everyone down. However Subaru is confident even if she’s slow, she’s making progress and that everyone is with her. She should do things at her own pace. This motivates Airi to do her best and back to the pool practice, she manages to submerge her head to the count of ten with everyone’s help and support. One day when Aoi goes looking for Subaru to give him notes for the exams, she couldn’t find him in his classroom. Then coincidentally she spots him riding a bus and tails him to Keishin’s gym. She is horrified to see him playing with a bunch of lolis. I’m sure any girl would if the guy they like looks the part of a lolicon.

Episode 8
Luckily Mihoshi was there to explain he’s been coaching this team of girls that he has become proud of. As they’re about to leave, Airi comes up to them and ekes out her thanks. If Subaru hadn’t forcefully shut Aoi up, she would’ve mentioned about her height and its advantage on the court. As for Subaru’s exams, Mihoshi has arranged for him to study at a hotel and she can arrange for Aoi to study in the same room if she wants. I think she’ll pass that. Aoi learns about Airi’s height complex when she gets home. Next morning, Tomoka’s concentration is a little off during her practice. She thinks it’s not good to continue coming here to practice as it will bother Subaru and his girlfriend. But to her relief, she was told Aoi is just his childhood friend and from the same basketball club in middle school. What is more important is Tomoka’s practice. Tomoka relays the good news to her pals. Are they glad they can monopolize him again? Aoi sees her friends and they learn about the failed study lesson. Flashback reveals Aoi and Subaru were captains of their respective basketball team so much so they’re like husband and wife. Aoi decides to go hand the notes again but finds him not at home. She manages to find him at Airi’s residence and instantly becomes upset upon seeing him frolicking with lolis in bikinis. Now she’s on fire! Aoi forces Subaru to return because she is worried he may flunk his exams but Subaru is adamant to stay and coach the girls. The argument escalates with Aoi noting he’s too nice for his own good and when it comes to basketball, he picks up responsibilities left and right. Tomoka and co go into Subaru’s defence and don’t want Aoi to take him away. Subaru adds everyone here re-lit his basketball passion and will definitely affect him when the basketball team is revived next year. The other girls also say without Subaru, they wouldn’t be here together and they need him. Aoi challenges them to a basketball match with Subaru at stake. If Tomoka and co win, Subaru can continue coaching. Otherwise, you know what’s going to happen already.

Aoi ropes in her pals for the game. Why are they in swimsuits? So they can dip in the pool after the game? The first side to score 10 points wins and to make it fair due to the age gap Tomoka’s team outnumbers Aoi’s team 5-3. Tomoka’s team makes a good start as Aoi praises Tomoka and also observes the other members. She can tell from her role that Tomoka is the centre instead of Airi. Soon Aoi’s team make a comeback because they can read their younger opponents like a book. They are just 2 points short of winning the game. During time out, Aoi eavesdrop into Subaru’s tactics. She praises Tomoka’s speed and form and not to lose confidence. However it won’t work against her anymore because of her height and you need someone equivalent or taller to stop her (hinting Airi). She wants them to think over what basketball means to them. Subaru thinks they may lose but Airi stands up and will do her best. When the game resumes, Aoi continues to pinpoints the girls’ movements and how they should improve on them. Then facing Airi who is blocking her shot as the defence, she can tell she is afraid of approaching her. She wants her to show her feelings for basketball are real or else she will snatch Subaru away. Not wanting that, Airi panics and manages to successfully block Aoi’s shot. Though she landed on her. Aoi mentions their team’s great teamwork and withdraws seeing they can’t beat them (even though they’re in the lead). She is also confident Airi can keep supporting them team like this. So Subaru gets to continue coaching the girls provided he does well in his exams and properly revives the basketball team next year. Aoi also coaches Airi how to swim since there is a limit to how much a male coach can teach a female student. The girls now have a favourable view on Aoi as Airi makes gradual improvements in her swimming. She no longer fears water. After the test, Subaru watches videos of Airi’s swimming progress but got kicked by Aoi thinking he’s ogling at lolis in swimsuits. The footage was taken by Kuina for them to watch. Subaru gives back the notes and thanks Aoi for being a great help but the tsundere denies it.

Episode 9
This time the gang will be heading to Maho’s beach villa for the summer. Why the need to buy swimsuits again when they had fine ones the last time? To attract Subaru? Or is it a certain part has grown? At least that’s what Tomoka feels. Aoi could’ve tagged along but she caught a cold. Yeah, a cold on summer. How ironic. Meanwhile Hinata’s sister, Kagetsu doesn’t want her to go for the trip but Hinata is adamant seeing Kagetsu always wants to tie her down. So at the beach, the usual show-your-swimsuit-to-the-guy, Airi’s swimming takes a drastic improvement (she can even swim in the sea without fear), playing tag with the girls becoming ‘it’ so that they can do anything to Subaru if they win but he’s so fast and agile they can’t even catch him and finally does when Mihoshi hints he is good at basketball and mediocre at everything else. So to stop him from running, they corner him in the ocean. Just as Tomoka is about to grab him, she got too close to him that their bodies contact and her top came off. Mihoshi was somehow there to give the lolicon a super kick. Either way, Subaru pays the penalty as the girls build a sand castle over him and tickle his feet. During lunch break, the octopus that took off Airi’s top became their meal. To their surprise, they see Kagetsu and she came here courtesy of Touko. She wants Hinata to go back with her this instant but she’s not budging. Subaru thinks Kagetsu should stay but she points him as a suspicious person. Someone who pretends to be a coach to touch her sister! It doesn’t help when the teachers somewhat agree. Hinata warns not to badmouth Subaru who is important to her so Kagetsu apologizes.

As she joins them for lunch, Touko explains to Subaru and Mihoshi an incident that happened 3 years ago that made Kagetsu always worrying about Hinata. It was a cold winter when their parents were out. Kagetsu was waiting for Hinata to return home from school but fell asleep. When Hinata returned and rang the bell, naturally sleeping Kagetsu didn’t answer. She was left waiting outside till Kagetsu found her collapsed outside. Though she was rushed to the hospital, she only ended up with nothing more serious than a fever. Hinata may be okay with that incident but Kagetsu continues to worry about her seeing Hinata was born with a weak body and was also the reason she was against her playing basketball. She is afraid she might collapse again. Although it might seem alright now for Hinata and her passion for the game is still there, the rate at it’s going, it’s not going to end well for either side. To rid of Kagetsu’s sinful consciousness, Subaru suggests Kagetsu do club activities with them. Kagetsu goes up against Hinata doing several special training activities. She is still worried and thinks Hinata is hiding her tiredness. Hinata suggests running a marathon together and her cute charming face convinced Kagetsu to agree. Yeah, that face. Putting aside Hinata’s endurance, but can Hinata win seeing Kagetsu was last year’s marathon competition winner. Subaru will run behind them for safety. As they start off, Kagetsu doesn’t push but Hinata wants to see her go all out. As she runs, Kagetsu remembers the times spent with Hinata. She looks back and is surprised to see Hinata still following close behind. As they reach the finish line, Hinata does a final spurt and I think they end up crossing the line together. Both sisters make up and Hinata apologizes for making her sister feeling playing with her wouldn’t be fun. In fact Hinata was able to be happy with everyone and run a lot today. Kagetsu goes up to Subaru to apologize and wishes for him to look after her sister. She is confident she can cheer for Hinata from now on. As the girls soak in the hotspring, Hinata mentions how Kagetsu will help with her basketball practice tomorrow. They talk about the fun they had today (including swimsuits slipping and octopus grabbing – something Tomoka and Airi don’t really want to remember). Hinata spots a gecko and follows it to the other side of the bath. The men’s side. Subaru is super shock in seeing her and for Mihoshi, it’s like she has this radar that detects any shameless situation that Subaru gets into and instantly pops up to give him another kick.

Episode 10
The girls continue to practice hard and Maho can’t wait to level up so much so she can play an official match. They have another chance to play an away friendly match when a relative of one of Aoi’s friend is a teacher at Suzuridani, a school at the outskirts and she is also the mini basketball advisor. Of course Aoi is also coming along as part of her friends plan to bridge the gap between her and Subaru and to see if that guy is indeed a lolicon. Because at this rate, the lolis are going to steal him away from her. Don’t want that to happen, eh? Halfway driving to Suzuridani, suddenly the MPV comes to a crashing halt. It’s not like Mihoshi wanted to see some ambiguous position between Subaru and Tomoka, her tummy pain is for real. So much so an ambulance is called in. However she wants the rest to continue with the game so they hike all the way to Suzuridani and meet Hatsue Nobidome, Suzuridani’s mini basketball advisor. Hatsue seems very strict and doesn’t take lightly Mihoshi let her team come all the way here alone. Then she brings them to their camp and won’t introduce her team because it would ruin their schedule (b*tch!). Oh, did she mention camp? Yup, they’ll be camping outside and making their own tent with the materials provided. I don’t know what’s the problem of letting them stay in the gym or dorm because Hatsue needs to check things out first. Aoi is concerned that there is a guy among them. Not to say that he’s a ‘wolf’ but you can never be too sure. In view that they have not come prepared for camping, Hatsue suggests cancelling the friendly match. Subaru is okay with everything and will put up with anything so long the match isn’t cancelled. As the girls set up their tent (fooling around included), Manaka Nobidome comes by to greet them (she isn’t sure why the message of accommodation arrangements didn’t reach them). She is Hatsue’s sister and a second year in Suzuridani’s high school division and also the basketball team’s coach. Subaru and Aoi remember seeing her team play in the finals before because of her habit of scoring shots from the perimeter. However she will be out of action for the time being and is on crutches.

Manaka takes them to a great clear spring water and on the way, Maho tries to snap a picture of a stag beetle and Aoi is pretty concerned that Subaru is interacting way too close with his girls. Subaru gets a call from his mom who is by Mihoshi’s side at the hospital. She is expected to undergo appendicitis surgery but nothing to worry about. Subaru informs the updated developments to Hatsue (meaning, Mihoshi won’t be able to attend the practice match) and thanks to Manaka’s ‘negotiation’ (she called her a bully), the match is still on and they get to stay. Since this is an all-girls’ school, looks like Subaru have to bath outside (if there is a proper one) while the girls head in for a hot bath. The usual antics as the girls wonder the connection between Airi and Aoi’s big boobs. They even think it’s because their names start with the letter ‘A’. Saki suggests Maho to call herself ‘Aho’ (Idiot). Manaka can tell by Aoi’s body reaction that she likes Subaru and will gladly help support her. Yeah, she has plenty of chances during this training camp. Meanwhile Subaru is doing push-ups with 1 hand (?!) semi-naked when a girl (Maho clone?) caught glimpse of him and runs away in fear, thinking she saw a giant salamander! After the bath, Tomoka brings Subaru to view the beautiful and starry sky. Returning to the camp, now the problem is where he should sleep. Subaru is okay to sleep by the entrance so Aoi thinks she should sleep next to him so that he won’t do anything funny to the lolis. However she got too conscious about it (because their sleeping faces were so close) that she couldn’t sleep well and was wide awake. Next morning as they meet in the gym, the girl who thought Subaru as a salamander, Miyu Aida is also part of the basketball team and is shocked to see a guy as a basketball coach (is she from some backwater town? I know the school is only all-girls and far out in the woods, but this…). She couldn’t expect a group of amateurs to practice with them so Hatsue thinks of letting them practice with the bench players. Maho stands up and insists they are a strong team and is confident of taking them down. But Miyu laughs them off to even note that they can’t even compete in the official mini basketball match because they need at least 10 people to make the cut (furthermore, they don’t even have their own uniform). Only Tomoka and Subaru knew this fact so the latter apologizes for not telling. Maho didn’t take this too well and runs away.

Episode 11
Hinata is unfazed and wants to practice and since they’ve come all the way, it would be a waste not to. Suzuridani sees Keishin in practice and thinks their moves aren’t bad but Miyu still thinks they’re novices. Soon Saki goes off to look for Maho. She finds her alone at the stream and talks some sense into her and bring her back to the ground. She shouldn’t be getting worked up and ditching practice because the 5 of them playing basketball should be fun. Manaka also talks to Subaru about things. Though she has a torn ligament grounding her, she still loves basketball and coaching is her way of doing basketball. Maho and Saki return as they seek to challenge each other one on one. Subaru becomes the referee to a game whereby one gets a point whenever she steals or defends the ball for 20 seconds. The one who scores 3 points wins. Soon the other girls come by to see them in action and join in. Subaru notices how much fun they’re having. In the end, Maho apologizes for being selfish and Subaru did the same about keeping quiet (Tomoka also wanting to share the blame). Saki knows he did so for their sake as they get pumped up to not only do their best but enjoy the game from the bottom of their heart. Subaru goes see Hatsue to request a match with the regulars but was turned down seeing she can’t waste any precious second of their practice as they need to stay focus to win their upcoming game since their reputation is at stake. Subaru wonders if that makes it fun and reminds her about their duty as coach to teach them how much fun basketball is. Hatsue agrees upon reasoning that it would be bad for their reputation if they decline out of fear of losing. With Subaru promising to do everything he can as Keishin’s coach, the girls are more motivated that ever. Manaka could tell Aoi is in a dilemma over her feelings for Subaru. As their coach, she wants the best for them but can’t help feel jealous at the same time. She reminds her of her promise to help her out.

That night when Subaru is making strategies, Manaka has booked some time for him to take a bath in the mist sauna. Suddenly Aoi comes in with just a towel, thinking it was Manaka who invited her. Before long, they knew it’s a setup. First thing Aoi did was to punch him (I wonder how many times he has got beaten up over situations like this). Then she tries to run out but the door is locked. This followed by her tripping and falling down on him, knocking him out. Manaka unlocks the door realizing her Operation Sex Appeal didn’t work out. Subaru comes to outside and wishes everything that happened was a dream. Next morning, Subaru and Aoi talk things over and she will let this one slip. In short, Aoi wants to help Subaru in coaching the girls. As the girls practice, Maho is all fired up to beat that ribbon b*tch. Later Subaru sees Saki and wants her to play the important centre role. The girls continue to come up with strategies against their opponents so much so they fell asleep and Subaru puts the blanket on them and comments on each of their abilities and personality. Next day, the match between Keishin and Suzuridani begins. Suzuridani makes a good start seeing Maho is making slip ups due to her hot head. The opponents take a healthy lead at the end of the quarter (Keishin couldn’t score) so Subaru thinks it’s time for Saki to be shifted to point guard. The match resumes and Keishin is able to make steady progress and their movements better due to Saki’s ability to assess a situation coolly and calmly. A tactic that tricks Miyu into guarding Tomoka so that Maho could shoot lands them their first point. Subaru feels that if Saki keeps up with a steady viewpoint and relaying it to everyone, Tomoka can focus on the offense and winning this match won’t be just a dream.

Episode 12
Keishin makes a comeback and draws level with Suzuridani. We see Hinata being the small one slipping pass by the defence and successfully throwing in her reverse shot and Airi unafraid to block shots from opponent. Now it’s Miyu’s turn to feel agitated so much so she can’t keep her focus. Maho’s turn to mock her? It’s like these 2 girls love trading insults when their side is winning. Manaka warns Miyu to buck up and not treating this as a serious game. If she keeps this up, she will replace her. I guess the threat is enough for Miyu to return to her serious and cocky cool self and get Suzuridani back into the pace of the game. In the final quarter, Subaru feels it’s time for his team to unleash their ‘one centre, four shooters’ strategy. With tall Airi at the centre, if she is double guarded, the unguarded member will take a shot and if it’s a one to one defence, a powerful centre and tall shooter will do the trick. It’s not complete yet but still the tactic works on several occasions. As the seconds are ticking away, the Keishin girls are running out of stamina. But they each think back why they continue to love and play the game with everyone thanks to Subaru and each other’s support and encouragement. In the dying seconds, Suzuridani leads by a point and the ball falls into Saki’s hand, she makes a jump shot… Did it go in?

Well in the aftermath, apparently it did not. Otherwise why would Subaru be looking so depressed? Tomoka runs into Natsuhi at the train station and though he heard they lost by a point, he thinks they played well. Saki looks dejected, blaming herself over the team’s lost but Maho snaps her out that it is a team game and it is thanks to her that she was able to control her anger. Mihoshi calls Hatsue to apologize and thank her for letting her team play with her regulars. However Hatsue wishes to thank her instead because they remembered something important that they have forgotten since they were too focused on winning: To have fun. As Subaru returns to Keishin’s gym, he is surprised to only see Tomoka in a maid outfit greeting him. She will do anything to cheer him up and promises to win the next match. Subaru takes her up on her offer and the rest come out of their hiding disappointed because they thought they would see something more interesting and heart throbbing instead of just Tomoka doing a successful jump shot. The girls planned this of leaving them both alone because they saw him depressed this morning and since they thought Tomoka was closest to him and the best way of cheering him up. However Subaru clears the air he wasn’t depressed and was just thinking what to do after the match. He apologizes for making them worry and notes they played a very good game. Just that they ran out of luck and stamina. So what else to do than to practice, practice and more practice, right? As reward, the girls think of giving him a massage as motivation for him to stay longer as coach. Didn’t he already promise to be their coach till graduation? Maybe they think he needs more? Then Mihoshi and Aoi come in with snacks for everyone only to be horrified to see them in an orgy! But would they listen even if it’s not? While the girls get treated to the snacks, guess what Subaru got from Aoi? Don’t they see their coach in pain? I guess the snacks were a better distraction, eh?

Loli-Bu
Well, what else can there be for the girls and their coach put to persevere and continue practising. After all, practice makes perfect as they say. They may still have a long way to go before becoming a real competitive team or even start thinking about getting into real competitions but they have notched up many levels in terms of their friendship and teamwork. You could say that they have grown closer than before. Not to say that they were not close in the first place but basketball and Subaru ties them up closer than ever before. So all we need is a chance for things to work out or to prove oneself. In Subaru’s case, he was being apathetic to basketball once his team was suspended. He didn’t want anything to do with the game anymore just because of that one bitter episode. After realizing he shouldn’t be imposing his misery onto others and that the girls have a bright future, he now goes all out to make sure their passion for the game is intact and most importantly to have fun. And the reason why they work so well it’s because it’s a two-way relationship between coach and players. Not because Subaru is a lolicon, mind you. Though he loves the girls but as his precious students and not in the otaku sense. It’s sometimes too bad that he gets into ambiguous situations and gets what he doesn’t deserve to. Well, no pain, no gain. Oh wait, that’s not rightly applied.

Initially you thought Tomoka would be the main star of the series seeing she is the one who had prior basketball experience. However it is a good thing that she doesn’t hog all the screen time during matches. In addition, basketball is a team game so it won’t be so good if you’re just focused on a player. Each of the other girls also play their vital part in the victories or the recent close defeat they encounter. Each giving them precious experience and memories. After all, you can’t be dejected after losing 1 game, right? No team is perfect, not even the best team and besides, they’re just a bunch a rookies so dreaming of a perfect undefeated record should be the least of their concerns. But it’s understandable and frustrating to lose so close a margin at such a climaxing do-or-die situation. It’s also good to see some of the girls overcoming their weaknesses for the betterment of their team. Airi puts behind her fear of being big while Hinata doesn’t let her weak body get to her. Maho as the cheeky and ‘noisy’ one of the pack should learn to take a little anger management and cool her head but I guess that is what Saki is there for. She is the most cool-headed among the girls and able to assess the situation and make necessary adjustments if deemed necessary. Even if these girls have lots more to do, you could say that each of their strengths also complement and cover each other. So as not to make this series a Tomoka-centric series, we also have episodes that focus on her friends like Airi’s fear of water and Hinata’s sister and her objection of her joining the basketball club. Hatsue and Miyu might seem like ‘antagonist’ at first but I guess they were just a little lost on their goals. That’s why we need underdogs like Subaru and his girls to make such teams who have lost themselves high up in the sky and bring them down. Once they’ve realized that, they’re not such bad people after all.

For those who are hoping to see any love triangle development, don’t put your hopes too high up. Obviously basketball and coaching the girls is what is all on Subaru’s mind. Too busy to even take a hint that his childhood friend has a crush on him. I guess you can’t blame him because with Aoi being tsundere, it doesn’t help much, eh? It is also obvious that Subaru’s girls also do like him but the more obvious one in terms of romantic relationship would be Tomoka. After all, she is the closest one whom he has spent time with, practising her shooting every day at his place. So it’s no surprise that Tomoka would develop a crush on her coach. Hmm… Maybe it’s best if that romantic relationship do not even blossom a bit for now. Remember what happened to Subaru’s basketball team? Yeah, that. As for the others, they still do love him but not towards anything that would lead to anything as romantic as lovers. For instance Hinata would most likely view Subaru as her onii-chan while Maho may be bold in saying and admitting her love, it feels like she doesn’t know the depths and meaning of it. It’s like she’s just saying for fun. Plus, they don’t really think that all of them could become his bride at once, right? I shiver to think once that happens because it will mean a dip in their friendship and performance. So yeah. Being ignorant in that kind of love for him should be beneficial for all parties for the time being. I’m not sure if Touko is a bi or what. She did hint that she is really prepared for that kind of love with Mihoshi, though the latter would pretty much rather not. Then she too loves seeing Subaru and his girls together, hoping something more would come out of it.

The next episode preview is an amusing section. We see the girls in their chibi avatar form either ranting or panicking away on some unrelated topic so much so they didn’t realize the limited time they have to do the next preview. Speaking of the chibi avatar, it seems the girls have an internet chat group of their own. Each time they log on and chat with each other, you can see them dressed in a particular theme at a particular place, whether it’s an exotic location or an ordinary scene. The mid-intermission is filled with not only bio-data of the girls of Keishin but some of the other minor female characters too. I find some of the information to be odd. I mean, it’s okay to know their height, blood type, specialty and their nickname (as given by Touko) but what the heck do you need to know when or what their first swimsuit was?! Even putting their grades at studying isn’t so bad. I’m sure the chest size information won’t be such a turn on to some, eh?

There is something I want to mention about the drawing and art of this series. I thought it looked very similar to those in Clannad or Air. However it is not Key or Kyoto Animation that this series is from but Project no. 9/Studio Blanc instead. Thus I was wondering what the heck was Air’s Haruko doing as Mihoshi or Negima’s Nodoka in Tomoka. Hey, am I seeing shades of Hayate No Gotoku’s Nagi and Air’s Misuzu in Maho too? I thought there was a live action adaptation of the series. However they only made that music video to promote the 2D anime and the video features the voice actresses of the Keishin girls. Makes you feel that the 2D version looks much cuter, eh? Okay, that may be bias because I still prefer 2D over 3D anytime :). Speaking about the fanservice, there are a handful of scenes such as when the girls bath together and when Aoi gives Subaru her super kick. The former will mostly be conveniently covered with steam so I guess it’s another one of those motivations if you want to see way past the steam. Get what I mean? For the latter, seems like the censors slip past the censorship scissors because you’ll get to see Aoi’s stripped panties each time. And as compared to Softenni, the fanservice here is not as mind numbing and kept to a minimum level. I guess in a way it is a good thing not to put fanservice is one of the main focus of the series. Otherwise, you’d be totally distracted by it than the game and character developments. By the way, the games may not have lots of action to satisfy sports junkie fans and doesn’t really last long (it may seem like it lasted 2 episodes but that’s because it started late in the previous one and brought over to the next so it’s safe to say the most it’ll be just an episode worth of a particular match).

Speaking of voice acting, Kana Hanazawa was definitely identifiable as Tomoka. That kind of voice, you can’t really run if you hear it the umpteenth time. Not as airhead as the titular character in Kobato or mysteriously cheeky as Shiro in Deadman Wonderland, though. I thought I heard that squeaky high pitched voice in Maho before. Then I found out it was Yuka Iguchi. Yes, that annoying sister Index in To Aru Majutsu No Index. I guess this kind of noisy loli role is best suited for her. My favourite Mamiko Noto (Enma Ai in Jigoku Shoujo) also has a role albeit a minor one as Nayu. Ayako Kawasumi (Saber in Fate/Stay Night) as Hatsue was also recognizable. I’m starting to think that Kanae Itou’s voice may be fit to play tsundere roles too. After that obsessed squid wacko Kanae in Shinryaku! Ika Musume and the cheery Saten in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun, I guess as Aoi here wasn’t so bad after all. The only voice which I find rather slightly unsuitable was Yui Ogura’s Hinata (Mint in Yumeiro Patissiere). Hinata sounded like a carefree girl and while it may be part of her character, it sounded like as though she’s somewhat of an airhead (maybe she is too). Each time she talks, it’s like as though she is talking from dream land. Other casts include Yuuki Kaji as Subaru (Akina in Yozakura Quartet), Youko Hikasa as Saki (Mio in K-ON!), Rina Hidaka as Airi (Konayuki in Katanagatari), Shizuka Itou as Mihoshi (Haruka in Amagami SS), Minako Kotobuki as Natsuhi (Tsumugi in K-ON!), Mariya Ise as Miyu (Riko in Hidan No Aria), Satomi Satou as Manaka (Wendy in Fairy Tail) and Rina Satou as Touko (Negi in Mahou Sensei Negima). Oddly, for a show with lots of lolis, I was expecting Rie Kugimya to have a role. But I guess not. You can’t have her voicing tsundere and loli characters in every anime, right? Both the opening themes are sung by the girls of Keishin basketball team, though I don’t find both appealing. The opening theme is the energetic SHOOT! The kind of song that is supposed to energize and get you motivated into the game. The ending theme, Party Love – Ookiku Naritai feels like an anime all-girl idol group. Just put in some basketball terms into the lyrics.

If the producers want to continue this series, I guess there are lots of potential to see this underdog team turn into a formidable one. Yeah, turning out to be a shonen type of story flow, eh? Power up, fight powerful opponents, qualify for the next stage, practice and power up more, battle even more powerful rivals, old ones become friends, repeat cycle. And maybe they can throw in love triangle and complicating romance relationships into the equation while at it as distraction. It’s always a challenge to train and coach amateurs who know nuts about the game into a team of players worthy enough for top teams to take notice of. But like the saying, it is often the journey that is more important than the destination. With Subaru around, the girls will be assured that they will not only have their skills level up in no time but have lots fun together for a long time to come. Sorry Maho. Having said that you still need to take months and years to reach that kind of professional level like you see in America’s NBA. No short cuts, cheat codes or magic spells to hasten the levelling up. Who says you need to be big and tall to play basketball? As long as you have the passion, you can score with the right attitude, teamwork and tactics. I have to admit that I once liked the game when I was young but didn’t really take it up besides watching it on TV. In that case, can someone get me a female instructor because I can’t seem to even do a proper dribble. And I think I did a ‘home run’ with that jump shot… Now where did that ball fly too?

I’m still in the midst of figuring out what in the world the plot of Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko is. Let me see if I get this right. Boy from countryside transfer to the big city. Lives with his crazy aunt. Finds out he has an equally crazy cousin who thinks she is an alien. Tries to dispel that fact and make her realize that she is human by doing something equally crazy. Tries to integrate her back into society like an ordinary human. Just as things are getting back to normal, another crazy girl who thinks she’s a real alien shows up. Yeah, I think that is how I should summarize this show.

So yeah. The said kid is Makoto Niwa who is supposed to live with his cheerful (in an odd sense) aunt, Meme Touwa. You would expect this aunty to act her age but unfortunately, she’s the kind that drives you nuts if you can’t accept her character. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t look 39 years old… I guess girls in animes can only look younger than they are. As usual, Makoto’s parents are posted overseas due to their job. Since you can’t leave a young lad behind, what else a better way than to put him in the care of his aunt, right? Makoto is looking forward to his single life in the big city till he finds out Meme had a daughter that no one in his family knew. What the? There goes his dream life. What’s more, Makoto’s cousin, Erio Touwa thinks she is an alien and it’s a bloody wonder how she goes on with her daily life with the futon covering her entire body, leaving only her legs visible. Yes, you read that right. What’s a kid like Makoto got to do? Either you live with it or you do something about it. If the former doesn’t work, then what option is left?

Episode 1
Makoto arrives in the big city via train and is being picked up by Meme. He experiences first hand Meme’s eccentric behaviour as she welcomes him to the city aliens watch over because they get lots of UFO sightings. Uhm, yeah. Whatever. Upon entering his second home, Makoto is surprised to see a girl wrapped in a futon lying on the floor. Meme seems to be oblivious but really, a girl in futon on the floor. That sight is just very bugging and disturbing. So ignoring the futon girl and after resting in his room, he goes down for dinner. The futon girl is there with them. If Meme can’t see her, is she a ghost? So during the havoc conversation, futon girl ‘attacks’ Makoto with her feet. Learning this girl is her daughter, Erio, I guess this is where he puts his foot down. He wants Meme to explain her lie that she lives alone and as far as he was concerned, she is single. Never married. How can she just ignore her daughter so outright? However Meme must be talking in circles because Makoto can’t seem to comprehend what she says. Because Erio girl continues to kick, Makoto grabs her feet and pushes her off. In retaliation, she starts throwing things with her feet, causing a mess at the table so Meme starts throwing her around like a wrestling match. So this is going to be his life? Next day Makoto wakes up to go to school. He stops by Erio’s room to see it like a mini planetarium. Then off he goes to school with his trusty rusty old bike. Luckily the brakes are still working. With nothing much happening in school, he comes home to see Erio watching TV. How the heck can she see a thing with a futon wrapped over? He goes talk to her and another round of odd conversation. Earth is being targeted? Is he her cousin? Is she Meme’s daughter? Are you okay in the head? Are you getting the flow of this conversation? So the so called material transmission she is waiting from the universe turns out to be a pizza delivery… I don’t really know how she eats the pizza with her futon on but amazingly she does and shares some with Makoto. Then he picks up a call from Meme checking on him and prefers him to just ignore Erio. Since he can’t do that, I guess she’ll leave her to his care. Haha. Some mother. Makoto suggests going out for dinner. Erio loves riding in the front basket so hopefully they won’t bump into any policeman and get arrested. Outside the convenience store, I’m sure Makoto isn’t going to let Erio going in with that futon. Erio says that revealing her appearance of an investigation of the second kind may affect the impartiality of the investigation. However being a first class investigator, one must have the ability to adapt to the environment. I guess that’s just her way of saying she’s going to take off her futon. With Makoto helping out, he finally gets to see this beautiful girl beneath the futon. A girl that looked almost like she wasn’t from Earth. Oh, there are pizza stains over her face. Erio decides to reveal her true self to Makoto by declaring she’s a half-alien mediating observer and her mission to assess the people using this city as a sample of all Earthlings. Uh, yeah. What she says.

Episode 2
So Erio explains some subject experiment, losing its sanity and disappearing, monitoring patterns of human souls, reactions of humans when given a second life, bounds of human understanding, some battle royale for some reward, etc. F*CK! I DON’T GET IT ALL! I’m not sure if Makoto is trying to reason with her or just playing along. I don’t know. I still don’t get it. It’s not like he really believes aliens do exist. Next day when he is about to leave school, he meets his spunky classmate, Ryuuko Mifune. Another weird girl as they peddle home together. Back home, Makoto once again meets Erio in a futon. Not amused. She has an important mission for him. Not interested. Next day he enters class early and talks to tall girl Maekawa. Then during recess, he has lunch together with Ryuuko and learns that everyone calls her Ryuushi. A mistake that everyone made due to her kanji writing. I don’t know how and why, everyone finds it easier to call her Ryuushi instead of her real name. Including Makoto. Then they talk about Erio who stopped coming to school by requesting to drop out. Makoto meets Maekawa and they both walk home. He is happy that he gets to walk home with 2 different girls in 2 days in a row. Guess what he sees when he comes home? You guessed it. Erio in a futon lying at the doorstep. Feel like kicking her like a football? So I guess even if he is annoyed with her, he still is curious enough to know what alien activity she’s talking about seeing she allows him to accompany her on a mission. Yeah, read: She just loves the bike ride. So that night the duo head out to the shore with Erio as usual sitting in the basket. When Erio walks into the sea, Makoto gets frantic and thinks she’s trying to kill herself! He rushes in to grab hold of her as she reveals she usually comes here to investigate. Something about how she can fly. Yeah, this is pushing it. So her logic is that she can free herself from drowning at any point by just flying. Huh? Makoto rides back and along the way meets Maekawa doing her late part time job wearing an odd costume. Is that a sandwich outfit? Noting Erio with her, she explains Erio is famous around here because her original claim was that she’d been abducted by aliens but halfway through she suddenly changed her story that she is an alien sent to observe Earth. People soon avoided her and subsequently she dropped out of school. Maekawa is surprised to hear both of them living together. Well, they’re cousins. Makoto returns home to see Meme enjoying Erio’s pizza. He asks her about Erio’s disappearance about a year ago. Was it due to kidnap? Nope. Not that the police could find anything conclusive. All she knows is that Erio doesn’t have memories of what happened during that half year. So her being an alien is somewhat her way to fill in her missing memories seeing she was always infatuated with space. To show proof that she was an alien, she rode the bike off a bridge over a river but failed. Though she fell into a shallow part of the river, she broke her leg and got hospitalized. Ever since, she wrapped a futon around herself.

Episode 3
Makoto and Ryuuko are talking about deep sea creatures. His life seems pretty routinized. Every 3 days he takes Erio out on his bike to the beach looking for signs of aliens. Sometimes they meet Maekawa in her different cosplay outfit. This time they talk about existence of aliens which is something like one’s belief in religion. On another day, Ryuuko takes Makoto out and shows him around the city. They talk about failure is the mother of success (?!), the tricks she can do (planting a wrong flower?) and the meaning of mystery. On another outing with Erio, he tells her she wanted to believe her memories are somewhere out there, that there were aliens who had stolen them. She can’t fly, wrapped herself with a futon and ignored her own feelings and making excuses. The thing he didn’t like was using aliens as an excuse. That night Makoto talks to Meme to find out more about Erio, but that aunt is just fooling around wanting to play with him. So he agrees to play a card game with her and amazingly he lost 13 times straight! So back to serious talking, first thing Meme did is to suddenly hug him. Then she whispers if he’s getting himself involved because Erio is pretty, he should give up. Why is he so concerned about her? Aren’t there other girls he is interested in? Erio wants to be alone so he’s better off keeping his distance. When Meme was pregnant with Erio, she didn’t even know she was. It was too sudden that Erio became part of the family. She hid it from the rest because she didn’t want everyone to talk bad about her. Rumours of her father would spread. With that, Meme suggests sleeping together but was kicked out. Makoto dives his face into the pillow to smell it but was caught by Meme. She didn’t put any makeup so it won’t smell like her. I guess Makoto is ready to explode into insanity. In school, Makoto is summarizing what happened to Erio so far. So much so he isn’t concentrating in class. In short of what he plans to do, he is going to smash the illusion and her notion that aliens exist. He rushes home and tells Erio that they’re going to fly now. If she can’t then she’s an Earthling. After fixing up his bike, he starts peddling. He thought of playing chicken with her but as they ride downhill, he finds it impossible to back out now at this speed. Heck, the brakes aren’t working! Better start praying! Then they break through the guard rail and for that short moment they were like flying. Till they start falling into the sea. Though they are both okay, Erio panics upon realizing that she is human since she can’t fly. Even if they did for just 3 miles. Makoto says he just wants to be friends with the beauty who just came back down to Earth. He won’t mind hearing her out if she’s worried over her lost memories. That’s why they had this fun today so that they could get to know each other closer. With her coming to terms as a human, in tears she introduces her real self.

Episode 4
Though the bike has sunk to the bottom of the sea, Makoto is lucky to have escaped with a fractured arm. He could’ve broke more at the speed and rate he slammed into the water. I guess he will need more time to recover seeing Meme is trying to fool around in his bed in hospital. Then the usual dramatic story by Meme and the one whereby she reveals her husband’s name is Elliot, a foreigner. So that’s how Erio got her name from? She also says they broke up due to their huge different in values and it’s best to live like this now. After Meme leaves, Ryuuko comes visiting. She’s wearing a hat not to mess up her hair. Makoto mentions she is cute and this flusters her to deny it and reveals she was turned down by 2 guys during her first year. Uh? Ryuuko asks if he was trying to commit suicide with that stunt. He denies it when Maekawa comes in (in an eggplant costume?). Ryuuko seems jealous with the appearance of another woman. Imagine her horror when she misheard about them spending a night together. What she meant was all the evenings they met would probably add up to 1 night. Huh? With that, Ryuuko runs away and it’s Maekawa’s turn to take her seat. Guess what she asks? Is he trying to be part of the fish kingdom with that stunt? No, he was trying to fly but couldn’t produce enough power and fell. Yeah, that seems more feasible. So he’s trying to be part of the bird kingdom? Haha. Maekawa suggests that they go to the beach this summer. She is interrupted with Ryuuko returning. More misinterpretation that Makoto may be ‘past’ the beach stage as Maekawa reveals Makoto and Erio to be cousins. After 2 weeks, Makoto is discharged and when he returns home, he makes a shocking discovery that Meme has stuffed herself inside the fridge! WTF?! Her plan for him to warm her up? Not working. To celebrate his release, she invites him to go out and have lunch and has him call Erio since it’s his job. Erio may be gradually trying to be normal but she’s still weird overall. You can’t blame her since she’s afraid that she doesn’t have her memories and Makoto ‘killed’ her dream. She thanks him for clearing up a few things and gives him her panties as reward. Told you she’s still weird. So how are 3 people going to fit on a bicycle? Honestly, how the heck is Makoto going to ride with just 1 hand? With Erio in the basket and Meme as the pillion, it does look like a circus act. Oh my. It’s heavier than usual. At least they won’t fly at this rate.

Episode 5
Erio and Makoto find another futon girl in their house. A twin? They do what they usually do. Ignore. Turns out to be Meme and the reason she’s gone insane (she has always been one since the start) is because she just turned 40. Oh, the dreaded four-o. Anyway the kids have brought her a birthday present: Dangos. Because Meme remembers she forgot to celebrate Erio’s birthday last year, she thinks of making tomorrow her birthday. In class, Makoto seeks Ryuuko’s advice on what to get for Erio’s birthday. That’s the last thing you should ask a girl who has a crush on you but I guess he doesn’t know that. Yeah, so is it a surprise her mood just turned sour? Yeah, she has no time to spend with him. Makoto meets Maekawa and back at the store she is working part time, she hands him Erio’s birthday present: Warabi mochi. Outside, they see a plastic bottle rocket being launched quite a distance away as Maekawa explains a middle aged man with weird ear things launching them from the old school grounds. Makoto returns home and manages to fend off Meme’s smooch attack. He sees mother and daughter tying up the same twintail hairstyle. I guess some people just don’t want to accept reality and grow up. Makoto gives the mochi present to Erio in his room and she tells him something important: She’s coming back to society. That’s a good sign, right? First up as advised, they went to a barber, Toue Oi to give Erio a little haircut and the Toue starts teasing Makoto being the kid who looks at his aunt with complete pervertness. Imagine what kind of rumours Meme has spread, eh? But the biggest challenge is trying to get Erio integrate back into society. Everywhere they went for job interview, it seems she is rejected. I guess she was famous before, right? What would that say about you if you hired her? So Erio, welcome to the realities of society. Returning home, Makoto relays Erio’s failed interviews so she says she thinks it’ll take money for her to start going back to school. She starts sleeping on his lap and feels she knows a place where she could work. If he asks Erio, she may know where it is. When Erio comes in, Meme grabs her and they start rolling on the floor together. WTF?! Mother weirder than daughter?! Next morning, the kids go to Tamura Market and see the owner of the store, Tamura the granny. She recognizes Erio as Meme and Elliot’s daughter. She knows Elliot because that kid is a complete opposite of Meme and loves animals more than humans. Now, Tamura is another weirdo so it’s no surprise that she accepts Erio working at her shop. See, she’s talking about cattle mutilation and the animals in this city disappearing. She thinks she will be the next subject of cattle mutilation! It’s safe to say these ladies can click with each other.

Episode 6
Ryuuko’s friend, Mikki teases her if she has a boyfriend. Her blundering reactions are so obvious. They go visit granny and guess who Ryuuko didn’t expect to see working there? Ooohh… So much so Mikki thinks of stopping to come here but Ryuuko can’t help stop taking a peek at Makoto and Erio inside. Because of that, she spies on them with an excuse to keep an eye. She plans to bump into Makoto but I guess Meme did it first. Meme can tell the friend she is waiting, she is worried about being more than just friends. This startles Ryuuko and speaking of spy, there’s a creepy guy spying over them behind the post. Yeah, Meme could even say he’s a fan of hers. With Makoto coming by, Ryuuko excuses herself. Inside the store, perhaps Ryuuko is trying to use purchasing stuff as an excuse to talk to Makoto. Then she goes see Tamura. Since Ryuuko couldn’t answer straight if they’re friends, granny isn’t pleased of their romantic comedies and wants them to stop flirting in other people’s home! As Ryuuko leaves, she tries to hint to Makoto that Erio doesn’t have a good reputation especially in their school. So if people see them getting along well, he might get shunned. She tells him about Mikki’s opinion and thinks Makoto hates her now. But he doesn’t. Then she rushes off in the rain. Makoto notes that even if Erio has stopped going to school, her influence is still firmly embedded. Makoto talks to Tamura about everyone shunning Erio. She gives her earnest opinion that he should think about it himself first. If he doesn’t count gains and losses, idiots usually make the right decisions because they can see one thing. People can live without friends because it’s a luxury, not oxygen or water. He doesn’t need to care about other people’s friends because they can be your enemies later. If you’re afraid to be alone, then don’t live long. Take her case as an example. All her friends and husband are dead. Every night she can’t help thinking that it may be her turn next. Later Makoto talks to Maekawa about her opinion on Erio. She just ponders if there is a right time and place for everyone, where would Erio belong? In a futon? Not funny. Maekawa suggests that Ryuuko should also come a long to Makoto’s place and do lots of stuffs together. Oh, the way she says things… So first they tour Erio’s room followed by Makoto’s. Makoto has to put up with Erio trying to wrap herself with his futon and Ryuuko’s pouting because she’s jealous over something. So in the end, Makoto tired out because he had to juggle between Erio and Ryuuko 30 times! When Meme gets back, she gets this idea that the kids should make dinner together and hints to Ryuuko that it’s her chance to go after the boy in her heart. Guess who is the only boy around? Meme leaves with Maekawa and so Ryuuko starts to panic…

Episode 7
Maekawa finds several bottles of soda in front of her part time job store as reward. The store owner, Komaki doesn’t feel the need to report it to the police and instead have them stored in the fridge. While taking a break outside, they discuss about someone who has been launching those plastic bottle rockets recently. Komaki feels they’re aiming for space, trying to break free of gravity but could never do so. After her work, Maekawa cycles to the old school grounds to see a middle aged man, Ashiro making those rockets. He reveals launching them is his hobby. He drafts Maekawa to help him make those rockets and offers to pay 5000 Yen to per rocket! Say what?! $$$ *Ching*! *Ching*! So Maekawa brings Makoto, Erio and Ryuuko over to her place to make the rockets. While waiting for her, the nervous trio start passing tea around to each other. Dr Maekawa starts teaching them arts and crafts. Makoto and Ryuuko don’t have problems and they have to worry if Erio is up to the task. Don’t worry. With the support she gets, she’ll get by. After that, they each take turns to make each other a snack. Makoto gets a taste of Ryuuko’s pineapple dish and I guess he wanted to ‘save’ the rest from this taste and gobbles everything. I think he sent the wrong message to Ryuuko. Since it’s dark, Maekawa suggests they sleep over. Ryuuko doesn’t want to lose out so she’s in. That night Ryuuko and Makoto get some time to chat together since Erio and Maekawa got knocked out in the hot bath after less than a minute! Makoto mentions if he sees Erio getting into trouble with her ex-classmates, he’ll take her side even though he’d be an idiot for it but he can’t leave her. But Ryuuko mentions she can’t do the same if that happens. She signs off with a pretty smile. Next morning, the quartet arrive at the beach for their launch as Ashiro does the setting up.

Episode 8
This were the events that lead up to the launch in the previous episode. With today as Meme’s birthday, there is no way she is going to do any laundry. Then she wraps herself in a futon just for the heck of it. After she visits Komaki, she goes to see Tamura. After talking about animals disappearing and Meme’s turning 40 last week (oh, the horror), Meme requests for her to allow Erio to work here. Then Meme goes to the old school grounds because she is curious to see who is launching the rockets. We can see Ashiro has a crush on her but she clearly doesn’t remember him. Or his name. Who the heck is Yamamoto? He hints to her that he quit his job, returned to the city and is single. But Meme wasn’t listening. Meme gets excited when they launch one so he asks her reason for making a rocket. She says it’s to rid of the aliens. She promises to bring more and whispers a favour from him. Of course he’ll do it. Ashiro learns Elliot has left and overcomes his nervousness to ask Meme’s hand in marriage. This has her remember how she first met Elliot back when she was a kid at Tamura Market. It was love at first sight. Tamura was always mentioning she’s next or the cattle mutilation. Worried Meme didn’t want that and needs to do something. That’s when Elliot suggested to just get rid of them. Meme ran home right after Ashiro’s proposal. A week passed and she made sure she didn’t run into him by taking care of animals and watching Erio at work. Then she met Ryuuko outside and that fan-cum-spy was actually Ashiro. Meme further remembers Elliot telling her that the only way to make faith materialize is through ceremony and prayer. That’s the only way you can reach what you can’t see.

Meme returns to Ashiro not only for the rocket launch but to also turn him down. She doesn’t need his explanation but he rants on anyway. He always liked her as a kid. That’s all to it. Meme says she is happy living with her daughter and nephew and her family doesn’t need a husband or father. In fact she never married Elliot and would stay single for the rest of her life. Ashiro settles for being her friend. He adds that he was launching rockets for her daughter to see since he heard she likes space. Even the weird ear things are for that. However he thought she had no interest and had grown tall over 180cm. That was when Meme realized he mixed up the wrong girl (Maekawa) as her daughter. He thought he heard from people that her daughter walked around town looking weird. That is only true up to April. Ashiro returned in May and got the wrong girl. He tells Meme he even told her to make rockets for him and paid her for it. All part of his plan to get closer to Meme. She hugs him for doing a great job. That evening, she told Maekawa to have the rest make more plastic bottles. Then going to see Tamura, she persuades her to come with her to the beach tomorrow. Well, she thought nobody wants to see the body of a granny. Haha. Next morning as Meme and Tamura watch from above (granny could just recognize who and who by hearing their voice?), the rockets start launching. The initial ones didn’t reach as high but it gets better and better with the next wave. With the final one finally disappearing into the sky, Meme shouts to let it hit the aliens and suddenly BOOM! It exploded! Tamura is surprised that she stood up. As Meme explains, they got the aliens to let their guard down with the dummies and finally showed the real one at the end. Meme hopes the aliens and lethargy within her have died and that she is feeling pretty much alive. So now she doesn’t have to worry about the gods taking her away because soon she got rid of all of them thanks to Ashiro as the fireworks master. With that, Tamura assures she won’t be dying anytime soon and that there is no greater joy for her than to play with her grandchild.

Episode 9
It’s summer as Makoto exchanges email addresses with Ryuuko and Maekawa. Later Makoto gets an invitation from Maekawa to join an amateur baseball game. She’s only participating for the summer and hopes he can fill in the numbers they’re short with. Makoto and Maekawa (in a fish mascot?) are at the game between City and Shopping District as he notes a pitcher from their school, Hanazawa. Maekawa introduces Makoto to her dad and you can see the shock expression on his face. Makoto goes up to play and makes friends with Nakajima. We learn this city is split with half as the rapidly expanding city and the other half the older shopping streets and residence. Some of them are in an awkward position because like Maekawa lives in the city but her family’s bar is in the old shopping district. There seems to be a conflict between both sides so that’s why they’re settling out via baseball. The loser ends up cleaning the grounds and it seems Makoto’s team, Shopping District lost. Makoto eats Maekawa’s onigiris during the break and Hanazawa joins them. It tastes so good that Hanazawa even quips she wants to marry into her family. Makoto returns as Erio learns about him playing amateur baseball. Seems she is interested to join even if she’s denying having any. Inside, as usual Meme is up to her antics. Sprawled on the floor ranting she won first place in a popularity contest stealing all the men’s votes and that she is Makoto’s wife separated from birth! That night, Erio and Makoto do some stargazing. He is happy he got to see her smile as she requests to join the baseball game. Next day Makoto introduces Erio to the team. They also see a weird player in a space suit part of the team. Maekawa’s friend? Not that she knows of. Ryuuko passes by seeing she has basketball practice over in the next field. She is not happy seeing Erio and Maekawa with Makoto. It’s like she’s been left out. Upon seeing Nakajima, she starts acting awkwardly and leaves. During Erio’s turn as a batter, the ball hit the spaceman and that weirdo collapses. Oh Erio, it’s not your fault. Unless the vibration to the helmet was that great. Going over to see if that weirdo is better, suddenly she grabs Erio’s cheeks and starts talking in a weird way. Furthermore, she claims to be an esper. Just great.

Episode 10
As the game resumes, Makoto learns this ‘esper’, Yashiro Hoshimiya is a relative of one of the members in the team. Seems she caused trouble and ran away from home. I guess it’s another lost for Makoto’s team because he’s cleaning the grounds again. Maekawa in an Aliens’ cosplay? Yashiro starts chasing Erio around. Yashiro explains that fellow aliens should make friends. I thought she was an esper? Well, she’s an alien too? Yeah, she thinks she’s a real alien and that Erio is one too. Well, they may have clicked if it was several months back. That night as Makoto and Erio prepare to stargaze, they are shocked to see Yashiro crawling out from underneath the deck! Still in the space suit! So how? Erio returns wrapped in her futon. Oh, this is going to be one big odd battle. Yashiro got distracted by the telescope so Erio knocks her off. Her helmet flew off and we get to see Yashiro’s face for the first time. Haughty Yashiro still thinks she is the mighty alien and somewhat feels pity for Erio for having to put up with his rudeness. She realizes her blunder when she thought his name is Itoko (Cousin) because that is what Erio always calls him. The duo lock Yashiro outside of the house till she gives up. Ryuuko calls Makoto for the first time and wishes for him to come to her basketball game next week to cheer for her. She also lets him know about his baseball game in which the winner of the last game determines either City or Shopping District team to organize the festival. Makoto gets to know that Nakajima was the boy whom Ryuuko turned down when he confessed. Was she hoping a confession from him? Next morning, Makoto gets a bigger shock of his life. Why is Yashiro having breakfast with Meme in their house?! Maybe Yashiro called her onee-sama. Oh, she did. So why did she pick up yet another weirdo? Well, she reminds her of Elliot a long time ago and just had to take care of her. Makoto is tasked of sending Yashiro back. After dropping Erio off at Tamura Market, Yashiro gives him directions to her place while explaining about the universe and supernatural phenomenon source. Suddenly she has him stop dead in the tracks because she wants to go soak in the school’s pool. Makoto couldn’t believe this and plans on going home when suddenly a gush of water rains down on his head! OMG! Was that Yashiro’s doing?! Could she really be? Yashiro challenges him to cool his head down and to think that he doesn’t need to give up on things he can do. Makoto jumps into the pool and Yashiro feels choosing him was the right decision. After leaving her to rest at the shed, he goes to pick up Erio who is sitting outside the store to attract customers. Did it work? Well, she stopped Makoto, didn’t she? Learning Makoto has got wet because of the pool, she expresses her desire to go since she likes it better than the sea. She’ll bring him along next time.

Episode 11
Makoto narrates how he was once in the football team and because he was always benched, he quit and considers himself a failure. Thus started hesitating to reach for bigger things than himself. Makoto cycles out for food when he comes into Maekawa. I guess she wants to know what it’s like to sit in the basket like Erio, eh? She takes him back to her home (her parents are out working at the bar) and while she cooks for him, Makoto is yet again shocked to see Yashiro trying to steal the family’s tomatoes! He gets permission from Maekawa to get a couple of tomatoes to feed a ‘cat’ who is begging to have some. After tasting Maekawa’s delicious dish, they go up to her room to play video games. Maekawa notes how he is good at giving up because he always denies things before he starts. For instance, he gave up upon knowing he can’t return Hanazawa’s pitches. If they lose, they’re going to find it hard to participate in the festival. That night Ryuuko has another lovely chat with Makoto till she hears Erio. Mood swing time. Next day Makoto shows up at Ryuuko’s basketball game as promised. Mikki teases Ryuuko that her boyfriend came and tells everyone in the team. Guess who is also there to watch? Uh huh. Yashiro. He takes off her helmet. Then Nakajima and Hanazawa come by to watch the match. Makoto is surprised to know they are dating. As the game starts, Ryuuko is making lots of blunders (some really embarrassing). Hanazawa notes they can’t win no matter how hard they try or don’t give up since the team lacks the skill to score enough. Yashiro explains about some hidden potential especially in Ryuuko. Something about slow but making progress and that everyone is trying to reach their esper powers that will allow one to bloom. A few come close to touching it but most of them give up thinking it’s too far. Makoto wants her to demonstrate her powers and if she can, he’ll believe her. But she says she’ll do so when she feels like it. Nice excuse to run away? Ryuuko gets a free throw so Yashiro decides to show her esper powers. She wants Makoto to stand up and raise his voice. He’s going to do it? Well put it this way. If you will yourself to move, you move others since every human seeks to awaken their powers. Makoto realized that Ryuuko hasn’t given up yet. He stands up and gives a long speech of encouragement. It may be embarrassing for everyone turning their puzzled attention to but Makoto says what he has to say for Ryuuko to give it all her best. She gets enough confidence to land the free throws like it was nothing! Makoto felt good.

Episode 12
While watching Jupiter with Erio, Makoto gets a call from Maekawa about tomorrow’s final baseball game. Well, given their track record, she doesn’t think they can win. She’s saying like as though she’s so confident about that. Next morning, Makoto and Erio arrive early at the field and see Ryuuko at the bench and she is here to cheer him on. Even if she’s supposed to be on the City’s side, she gives the thumbs up that she’ll always be on his side. Maekawa comes by in a dugong outfit (?!) and with her calm tone, you could never guess they are facing a crisis. Her dad the pitcher has bowed to pressure and ran away. Dang. While the team have an emergency discussion, Meme comes by as the role of the beautiful young coach to give motivation to the team. Yeah, she even dresses the part of a baseball player! I’m not sure her advice is worth taking. Makoto asks if she really knows the rules and her reply is that she has no intention of losing to anybody in passion. Well, that’s that. Because of that, she has Makoto benched. Coach’s orders are absolute! Maekawa tells her about the pitcher problem so Meme picks Erio as replacement. Gosh. Will their chance of winning dip even further? It’s going to be tough because they’ve got the ace Hanazawa and even Yashiro (still in the full spacesuit) on the other team to deal with. But Meme doesn’t want Makoto to play ball and have him go in search of Maekawa’s dad instead. Yeah, she even has an idea of the places he would be. Repeat offender? Maekawa will take his place. Initially he refuses till Meme shouts aloud how Makoto loves smelling his aunt’s futon. Brings back horrible memories, eh? The umpire is asking what kind of throw Erio can do. She doesn’t understand and starts saying the other kinds of things she threw. TV remote? Pizza? Telescope?! As the match starts, Erio just finished reading a book on how to play baseball and throws a weak but high lobe. I guess the other elderly guy couldn’t estimate it very well and missed it. Strike one! Ah well. Erio will definitely be fine.

Makoto starts his search as he thinks about this reprieve Meme gave him because he doesn’t have to make a fool of himself with Hanazawa. But if he loses this chance, there won’t be any more opportunities for Ryuuko to come cheer for him. Makoto actually finds Maekawa’s dad. He’s still running. Makoto’s still chasing. They tire out. So they sit and chat as daddy says Hanazawa is too strong and when the team loses, the pitcher always takes the blame. He’s afraid of that again. But Makoto mentions that in school, Maekawa’s team always loses so it’s the case of there’s always someone stronger than you. Makoto’s speech felt somewhat like as though he isn’t a winner, but he plays an important role. This gives daddy his confidence back as he rides back with Makoto. He pesters him about his relationship with his daughter but didn’t believe they’re just friends and will grill him properly after the match. Dad’s confidence is fluctuating, wondering they can still win so Makoto tells him the heroes always arrive on the scene late. When they return, the City side is leading though Shopping District still maintains their ground. However Meme makes Makoto the batter and points to his heart, where the real battle is. Ryuushi yells out loud her encouragement for him to do his best right next to his ear. Pay back for the last time? Makoto is brimming with confidence as he steps up to the plate. Despite facing Hanazawa, he knows her pitching style and habit. He didn’t get struck out 20 times for nothing, you know. Hanazawa pitches as Makoto uses every ounce of strength to hit the ball. It flies so high up in the sky that it may seem to disappear. It might even be homerun! Makoto starts running but feels his hands numb after the hit. Then he sees Yashiro looking at the sky amazed, just like everyone else. Suddenly a gust of wind blows the ball further and it ends up in the river. Homerun! Miracle! Even if they have a couple of innings more to go, they think they can win it. Erio praises how cool Makoto was and Meme is going to give him a reward. I guess he was trying to figure out the hidden meaning of her words and took him a while to realize that Meme had landed a big kiss on his cheek! Eek!

Episode 13 (Special)
This series was meant to be scheduled for 13 episodes but the tsunami disaster on March 26 had the producers cancelled the airing of the final episode and instead released it along with the final release of the DVD and Blu-Ray discs. In this episode, Makoto meets Ryuuko at the festivals. She is in her cute yukata but the helmet makes her look out of place. Something to do with her hair I guess. After some small talk here and there, she asks why he didn’t come with Erio tonight. Apparently she’s out with Meme. Good news or what? Then they see Maekawa manning a family yakisoba stall. Oh, she’s in a weird eel outfit. More oddities from the ladies as Maekawa yells out loud while Ryuuko doing some basketball guard defensive move. Huh? Maekawa gives Makoto a free yakisoba on the house as congratulations for Erio’s new job. Makoto and Ryuuko move along as the latter thanks the former’s baseball heroics, otherwise they won’t be holding this festival now. Makoto feels uneasy being labelled a hero because he felt most of it was by fluke. Nevertheless he puts up an act accepting he is the MVP of this festival. Ryuuko wants them to visit more stalls but obviously Makoto had already made some promise. Though heartbroken, Ryuuko allows him to go but will have him pay back hundred times with interest. But she can’t hold it in and cries while running away. Makoto feels he is going to get divine retribution. Meeting Erio at the shrine top to watch the stars, after a little chit chat, Erio gets excited to see the meteor showers across the night sky. Makoto realizes Erio joined the baseball team to watch them from here tonight. With the festival spirit giving that feeling of release, she could escape her so called quasi-home arrest.

Suddenly they are interrupted with the appearance of Yashiro. Yes, she still wears the space helmet but now in a robe? She was starting to get annoyed and thought of dumping her job and leaving the city but decides to demonstrate her esper powers to him. After all that long-winded talk that includes a twisted version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf (something about screwing morals and that the important part is about the boy who believed in his lies that he really brought a wolf to the village), suddenly the sky is lit up with… Fireworks! Erm… Wasn’t this supposed to be on the programme? But wait! Suddenly something is coming down from the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Superman? IT IS A METEORITE!!! HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIT!!!!!!! It crashed into the shrine and if Makoto had not listened to Yashiro’s advice in stepping back a few steps, he could’ve been directly hit and probably dead! All he got was a scratch on his shoulder. Is this divine retribution? That’s when he starts thinking frantically. Is this really her power? Was she telling the truth all along? Is she really an esper? Is she really an alien? Fear and behold. Seeing is believing. Five days after the incident, Makoto continues to laze around while wondering his denial. Yashiro has disappeared and all that is left behind is her space helmet. He makes an assumption if she really was an alien on a mission and that mission was to save him from dying from that falling meteorite at that time of day, if she foresaw that and tried to prevent it, then that would explain everything. Even if Makoto did a little reading up to find Yashiro’s name was based on temple that meteorite falls frequently, he failed to disprove her argument. He lost. His common sense, reason and pride. The more he thinks, the more he gets confused about this escapism and the existence of aliens. He gets a call from Maekawa about an invitation for baseball practice to train for next year. He’ll think about it and send her a reply. He then asks if aliens exist and instantly she says no. Because for questions with a chance of being 50/50 correct, it’s best to go with your guts. So that’s how she aced her exams? That night, Makoto replies that he will join the training and joins Erio stargazing.

Hen Na Onna To Hen Na Otoko To Hen Na Minna…
So this is how it ends? It’s that what-the-hell feeling once more. I thought it could have ended better. But who am I kidding? What kind of ending would I want to see? Even if Erio has discarded the belief that she is an alien, she is still overall an oddball. The way she speaks and the way she acts, as if there were remnants of her peculiar alien characteristic. An outsider may view her acting to be just strange. It’s tough for a girl who has lost her memories, went round proclaiming to be an alien for a while, to be integrated back to society. After all, even if she won’t ever get back those missing memories, society won’t forget her weird stints. That’s how societal prejudice comes about. Would you want to risk your own reputation and be associated with a weirdo? Think not. But can you blame people for shunning Erio. Can you blame Erio for thinking she is an alien? However the series doesn’t seem to focus much on Erio except for the first quarter. As early as the third episode, her problem has already been solved by that bike flying incident and ever since I noticed she has been gradually being pushed to a minor role. Then we are diverted with Meme’s past via the plastic rocket bottle arc and finally concluding with the baseball arc and the mini nothing-much-happens festival single episode.

Makoto as a guy who starts out never believing in those unexplained stuffs like UFOs and the supernatural, I feel he may have not started to accept those myths but he learns to look at it at another positive way. He somewhat reflects on the things, the impact and effects of certain events. He learns not to give up so easily and just because something seems impossible, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best even if you know it will end in failure. So can I say that the more he lives together with everybody, the weirder he also becomes? Looks like he is getting the hang of life. But after that mind boggling meteorite crash, his belief in the unexplained has become murkier than ever. To believe or not to believe? Is it really out there? Well, it’s up to you to believe. The most amusing character of the series goes to Meme. No doubt about it. She never acts her age and some may find her annoying. But I do find her funny. Because of her quirkiness, Makoto is constantly on his toes. You’d never know a 39, make that 40 years old aunty would hit you where you least expected it. Despite her eccentric and carefree attitude, she deeply cares for her daughter and of course Makoto. It might be hard to admit but the things she do may seem childish at first but actually ends up and seems a lot wiser. For instance, just ignoring Erio be herself as an alien, wrapped around a futon. Seems like a mother who doesn’t care, right? But if she were to be strict, use violence and force, what good would that do? It may even traumatize Erio even further and leave a mental and emotional damage that cannot be repaired. Besides, Erio already had a prior traumatic experience of trying to fly and failed so it’s no good to add to that. Whatever happened to Erio to make her lose her memories or that incident that caused Meme and Elliot to break up may never be shown but the most important thing is Erio is still around and alive with lots of people supporting her. Okay, maybe her family and close friends but that’s a good start.

I thought I was going to see a love polygon between Erio, Maekawa and Ryuuko later in the series but I guess it didn’t materialize. That final episode didn’t really help either. Heck, I was prepared to throw Meme into the fray but we all know she is just fooling around. The type that Makoto would rather stay far away from. It is obvious that Ryuuko do certainly have a crush on Makoto. Erio’s feelings for Makoto may just be gratefulness, someone she can rely on. So it’s unclear if those feelings would turn into anything romantic. Maekawa? She’s always playing it cool and loves teasing Ryuuko. Speaking of Ryuuko, it seems like a little running gag that everyone loves calling her Ryuushi and shortly the girl herself tries to remind them to call her by her real name. No one actually pays heed to that and continues to call her Ryuushi. Lucky I didn’t :). I wonder if she is tired of trying to correct people about her name because it really must have fallen on deaf ears. Maekawa’s cosplay definitely would make heads turn. She loves wearing weird outfits even if she’s not working part time. Just like in Ryuuko’s case, she too has a problem of remembering Makoto’s real name and continues to call him “Transfer Student” right till the end. Past the expiry date. So I guess he’ll always be a transfer student right till graduation, eh?

Just when you thought Erio is slowly coming back to society with her part time job at Tamura Market, then comes along another weirdo in the form of Yashiro. I actually was curious to really know who this white haired girl is. She may be another wacko case like the initial Erio though it was only mentioned that she ran away from home. It is also vaguely hinted that she might have esper powers but I won’t got as far as saying that she’s an alien. I’d be surprised if she ever did. She may be annoying but only in the eyes of Makoto because he’s like somewhat a non-believer in this sort of things. But if you spend a little more time with her, you’ll find the things she has to say are motivating and to a point true. For example, her lecture on every human has potential to use their esper powers. Often, it is that hidden determination and will within us that gives us that extra power to do what is seemingly impossible and when we are on the verge of giving up or at our limits. And when that ‘miracle’ is pulled off, it feels like magic. They may not happen very often in our lives but they do happen everywhere, now and then. So really, who is that Yashiro girl anyway? Was even that meteorite summoning just a big coincidence or is she really something more than meets the eye? We’ll never know that’s for sure. Just more questions. Ironically, why pick a human spacesuit if she considers herself an alien? I guess the townspeople have seen too many weird happenings lately so they’re not really bothered if another one shows up. But if you’re hoping to find any supernatural stuff like the electromagnetic girl as in the title, don’t be because it’s a term used in Japan to refer to a person who holds crazy and odd beliefs.

An amusing section at the end of the episode is Makoto’s Adolescent Points segment. Over the episode, he adds or subtracts points he deems good or bad as part of his experiences growing up. The maximum being 5 points and the minimum 1 point for both sides of the poles. I’m not sure of his purpose in doing so but I guess it is for him to reflect the satisfaction of his life during his high school years because he believes this is the culmination of his life is. So I can safely say that whenever he does something good and favourable with the girls, he adds them and vice versa when something unfavourable happens. It is definitely a minus when it involves Meme. Haha! There are good times and bad times so there may be times he has a positive total and on bad days he will end up with a negative figure. By the end of the series, his total adolescent points stands at +3. Yeah, the penultimate episode gave him lots of good adolescent points and raked up as high as +19. However here weren’t any Adolescent Points tally for the final episode so I’m not sure where or how the points went. But I’m sure that smooch attack by Meme in the final scenes would have taken away all his Adolescent Points. He may even break his own record. Seeing that the meteorite crash took a devastating -20 out of his tally, I guess that eat up lots of his hard earned points, eh? Though this Adolescent Points may serve like a short recap of important happenings during the episode, Makoto isn’t the only one who has those points. Meme and Erio too have theirs but only twice and once respectively. Meme as usual being the wacky one has her points in thousands and in the end, ends up with zero points because probably all those ‘good’ stuff she did to Makoto cancelled out the horrible fact she just turned 40. Haha!

The drawing and art style seems pretty familiar. Then I realized it’s from SHAFT. Those guys who brought you Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Pani Poni Dash, Arakawa Under The Bride, Maria+Holic and Bakemonogatari. Though their signature style may not be obvious, but there are some moments that you will recognize them. Something about the drawing of the female characters bugs me. They way I look at it, it’s as though they are drawn to a very cute manner that makes them look like living dolls. Especially Erio, Ryuuko and Meme. Maybe it’s their lips, cheeks and the smile. Sweet but a little creepily sweet.

I may not have heard Ai Nonaka very much recently but she is still recognizable as the eccentric Meme. Her voice definitely suites the crazy single mom. Something you can expect like Fuuko in Clannad and Fuura in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Asuka Oogame (Mikazuki in KissxSis, Liz in Omamori Himari) voices Erio and she does make her sound insecure and feeble after being brought down to Earth. Other casts include Miyu Irino as Makoto (Syaoran in Tsubasa Chronicle), Emiri Katou as Ryuuko (Kagami in Lucky Star), Mai Fuchigami as Maekawa (Hinako in Honto Ni Atta! Reibai Sensei), Yuka Iguchi as Yashiro (Index of To Aru Majutsu No Index) and of course Kana Hanazawa as Hanazawa (I feel when they introduced her character, it was supposed to be a joke referring to this real seiyuu herself). In keeping with the weird theme, I also find the opening theme and animation to be just weird. More like “WTF is it about” if you ask my opinion. Os-Uchuujin by Asuka Oogame and Shinsei Kamatte-chan feels like Erio trying to sing in her space alien voice which makes it sound odd. Then we have those background vocals that go “Lalala la lalala”, and it sounds like they are singing aliens. The ending theme is Ruru by Etsuko Yakushimaru. Yet another weird piece, it starts off with a soft and slow singing accompanied by a solo piano before it turns into a carnival or song fit for the circus. I thought there were going to be different ending animations for each episode but I guess it becomes fixed by the third episode. The first one has UFOs, the second one paying tribute to E.T. with that trademark bicycle flying across the moon before fixing it with a very Erio-focused animation.

Whether you believe in aliens and supernatural stuff, it is totally up to you. As we learn here, just because somebody believes in something so absurd and impossible in real life doesn’t mean it’s right for us to tell them it is wrong to believe in that ridiculous belief. Whether it’s to fly or being an alien. That belief works out as their hope. So how many Adolescent Points have I raked in for this series? Get to watch this series = +1; Half-assed ending = -3; Didn’t make it a habit to call Ryuushi = +1; Meme the amusing and bubbly aunty = +3; Meme the amusing and bubbly aunt which makes her an annoying person = -3; Finding Yashiro annoying = -2; Comical moments = +1; Ruru is a nice ending song = +2; Total Adolescent Points = +/- 0. Hah. That pretty sums it up. Okay everybody, start singing with me, “I believe I can fly… I believe I can touch the sky…”.

This is one of the few ‘old’ animes to be given the reboot years after the TV series ended. Just like my recent stint with Kaibutsu Oujo OVA, Yozakura Quartet OVA ~Hoshi No Umi~ is also a retelling and remake of the TV series. I guess there were many fans who were unhappy of how the TV series deviated from the original manga works so that’s why you have this OVA which is faithfully reproduced close to the original. Me? I don’t read the manga so I can’t really say but I do find the 2008 TV series version quite okay. Of course as far as my memories serve, it could have been better.

Also like Kaibutsu Oujo OVA, not only there are 3 episodes in total, but it took an entire year for all the episodes to be released! Yes, that is a pretty long time if you are a diehard fan of the series and every excruciating second of the wait seems like eternity. Unless of course you prefer to read the original materials instead of watching the reproduction. So basically this retelling isn’t just an abridged version but one of the chapters from the manga. You need to have some knowledge about this series beforehand if you’re going to decide to watch this OVA without scratching your head to understand the developments of the events. I’ll spare you the details because it’s much easier to Google it yourself (read: I’m lazy to rewrite a brief summary). The big focus of this OVA will be on a minor supporting character in the TV series: Rin. Yes, that Chinese vampire keong si girl.

Episode 1
Zakuro Kurumaki just entered Sakurashin City just to retrieve a ‘toy’ she lost. We can tell she’ll be the main villain for this OVA because she rots a little shrine at one of the Nanagous and steals something within it. Rin is living a peaceful life. For 2 years, she has been living and doing ramen deliveries in a ramen shop owned by a couple we shall simply call as Oya-san and Okami-san. Her adopted parents are kind and understanding people. Life is good. It’s just sad it won’t last long. See the hideous scars over Rin’s body? That tells you she has gone through hell, doesn’t it? During her delivery, she meets Akina who is on his way for a medical check-up. Rin SMS Touka about it and the latter seems pretty excited to join in. I don’t know about this but did Touka ever show us she had a crush on Akina in the TV series? Of course to her dismay, she also sees Hime at the clinic run by Juri. She thought it’s going to just be her and Akina. Hime also secretly likes Akina more than a friend? Surprise, surprise (to me at least). Touka doesn’t want to lose out to Hime on strength so Juri has them both arm wrestle her at the same time. Guess what? A mere human nurse like Juri could completely beat them youkais! Mind boggling, isn’t it? So it goes to show that it’s not your physical strength that counts. You need to know how your bones and muscles work, etc. Master them and you can do almost anything. Now it’s Akina’s turn for his check-up. Juri can tell he has been using his Tuning skills lately (a skill that sends bad youkais back to the other world). She holds his hand and a golden glow is emitted from both of them. As Juri explains, doing too much Tuning has caused him to deviate or slide away and all he needs to get himself back is to hold the hands of another living thing. Well, youkais don’t really count so it’s obvious to see why Hime and Touka are pretty upset about it. Yeah, can’t hold hands with him. After Juri makes Akina leave to do an investigation, she can clearly see how depressed the girls are. So obvious. She snaps them out by saying that they both have a crush on Akina. Also advising them that there are things a youkai can do. If they do a better job, Akina may not have to use his Tuning often.

Ao and Kotoha are at the church to see Yae. They are here to retrieve the stolen items back to the people. I remember the district chief, Yuuhi the kid who is actually a God being an oddball, but I didn’t know he was this perverted because he flipped up the skirts of the duo. There is no rule to say you can’t smack a God if he gets dirty, right? As Ao and Kotoha follow Yae, they see Hime trying to get close to a cat. The funny thing was, why is she wearing an oversized bear headgear? They can tell it’s Hime due to her trademark scarf. Worse, Yae is totally infatuated with the scene. Ao and Kotoha notice Yae’s room close by and take a peek. They see lots of bear stuffs. Teddy bears, posters, bed sheets. Just about everything. I didn’t know she was this much a bear fanatic. Because the duo failed to read the door on her sign (“Please knock before enter”), Yae is going to teach them a good lesson for seeing her secret. Hime gives her bear headgear to Yae. Hime thinks of continuing her patrol even though the crime rate in Sakurashin City is low but she takes pride in it. Yuuhi mentions something bothering him and that there was a victim in the next town. All the more reason for Hime to step up her patrol. Then Yae (still hugging on to the bear headgear and rolling…) assures her that there is a slim chance crime will not happen in this city because the city is made that way. Later Ao and Kotoha meet Touka at the playground. Touka is seemingly down because of the fact she can’t hold hands with Akina. Hey, you can just hold his hand and not necessarily just to tune him back, right? Oh well, I guess for a girl at her age, it’s complicated. Kotoha mentions about herself being half-human and half-youkai so she can only lend half her powers. But there are also other things that she can do, Touka can do, certainly more than just holding hands.

Yae is a Tochigami (local guardian) of this city and it’s her duty to put a damper on any crime. I guess this is partly why the crime rate in Sakurashin City is low. Oddly, before she heads out, she puts on the bear headgear and waltzes through the city! I guess it really boosts her motivation. A bunch of low-life criminals are planning to rob a store that has that rich looks. Seriously. They didn’t plan which store to rob and walk around so boldly with their balaclava masks looking for such stores? Maybe the street is totally empty. No wonder Yae’s job is easy. First mistake the baddies made is that they looked down on a nun in a bear headgear. They probably think she’s a wacko cosplayer. Secondly, one of them wanted to smash her with his wrench. Now this is where we get to see Yae in action. Stealing the wrench and knocking out the other 2 thieves with it. However a nearby villain (Zakuro) uses her telekinetic power to move one of the baddies’ hand and shoot Yae. Fortunately, it hit and destroys part of the bear headgear. Unfortunately, it hit and destroys part of the bear headgear. She is so in shock that the baddies got even time to tie her up! But not for long. Maybe they don’t know how to tie or she’s just to freaking strong for those losers to handle. She gets herself loose and fights back. Now she is one mad nun. Better say your prayers. The impact nearly has a car slamming into one of them. He starts praying to God for help. Haha. A believer at this point? Well, he’s looking at one. Fortunately for him, Yae just scared the daylights out of him.

Next morning, Yae brings the headgear to Akina in hopes he could fix it. He thinks she had done something incredible last night but she didn’t really admit. Akina is suspicious because he heard reports that a bunch of arrested robbers were explaining how they were defeated by someone in such a headgear. Maybe they’re just dreaming? Akina also concludes his investigation on the Nanagou. Seems there are strange things happening and one of them was like decaying. This is perfect timing for Yuuhi to explain that Enjin is on the move. He plans to make all the Nanagous in full bloom. Previously he always worked alone but this time it is different. He is working along natural enemies of the youkais known as Youkai Hunters to fulfil this goal. They aren’t just your typical villainous gang as each are specialists specializing in a certain area with incredible strength. It includes a dragon hunter, a vampire hunter, an exorcist and especially a necromancer. Meanwhile Rin is feeling very strange. So much so she starts collapsing in the middle of the road. It always bugs me why don’t truck drivers slow down at pedestrian crossings. I mean, the light may be green but couldn’t he see a helpless girl collapsing in the middle? That was even when the crossing light was green before it turned red as Rin couldn’t cross the road in time. So really. Why oh why are they speeding? Thankfully, Kyousuke uses his brute strength to stop the truck with his bare hands. But that’s not the end of the problem. In fact, it is just beginning. Zakuro controls Rin and uses her like a doll to throw Touka away and strike Kyousuke. Even a strong ogre like him couldn’t stand her single blow. Looks like Zakuro has got her ‘toy’ back.

Episode 2
Rin is unconscious sleeping at Juri’s place. If not for Okami-san (she is half-youkai) knocking her out, she would’ve gone on a rampage. Yuuhi explains in vain about their enemies making their move but everybody is too busy slurping on their ramen to listen. Can’t fight on an empty stomach, eh? Well, it’s said this is Rin’s new dish. Once done, everyone leaves to do their work. Okami-san wants Yuuhi to bring the culprit to talk to her if she is ‘that person’ (see her scary aura? That means she’s serious!). Yuuhi doesn’t take requests like Yae but that’s not what Okami-san had in mind. He needs to pay for all the ramen bowls his friends ate. Haha. Last to leave, pay the bill. Rin is having a nightmare of running away from a group of people doing a witch-hunt. Alone and afraid, Zakuro pops up to offer her help. In reality, she is rudely awakened by Zakuro who has busted into Juri’s clinic. She reminds her that she is her toy and that she is a bad girl for running away from her master. Besides, she did tell Rin that she will always protect her. Zakuro kidnaps her and along her way bumps into Enjin. Zakuro assures him that she will do his work but wants him to stay out. Hime is doing her night patrol and is tempted by the roadside stall. Then she sees Zakuro with Rin in her arms. Hime goes after her while Akina returns to get Kyousuke’s help. Seeing Zakuro has time to spare, she decides to play with Hime. At the bridge, they introduce each other but Zakuro notes that even though Hime is strong, she is not interesting. Hime makes the first moves and beats Zakuro up. That easy? Is it game over? Far from over. It’s just starting. Zakuro admits that she may be weak but reminds her about Youkai Hunters are only strong when they use their special abilities. As a necromancer, Zakuro needs not be strong herself. Using her true ability to control her ‘toy’, a possessed Rin pushes Akina away. Then she toys with Kyousuke before her fight with Hime. Though she got Hime is in her grasp, Hime ekes out a smile and this temporary breaks Rin out of her spell (Hime’s smiled reminded her of Zakuro’s when they first met). This distraction allows Akina to slam a talisman on her forehead.

With no ‘corpse’ to use, Zakuro starts rotting the ground and summons the ground as her monster familiar. Since the monsters regenerate, Hime attacks Zakuro directly but it won’t be easy since she is well guarded. A wall is slammed onto the monster and Zakuro is thrilled the interesting one is here: Kotoha. Noting that they’re both half-human and half-youkai, Kotoha doesn’t want her to put her in the same category as her. Zakuro taunts Kotoha to kill her because eventually they’re both the same. Kotoha is temporarily stunned when flashbacks of her tragic past resurfaces (she burnt down her entire town). Hime wants her to materialize a weapon but she didn’t like the lance because it’s too sharp. She reminds her about their no-killing policy. So I guess they’ll just have to beat her up till she repents, eh? If only rehabilitating hardcore criminals were this easy. Meanwhile, Ao leads the ambulance driven by Oya-san, Juri and Okami-san to the bridge. Seems they have ‘stolen’ several car batteries and left Touka behind. The battle between Zakuro and Kotoha intensifies with the former summoning more monsters (Kotoha fares better than Hime when she fights multiple enemies). Kotoha is going to have a major sore throat the way she is summoning all the big stuffs in succession to counter all those monsters. See how many stealth planes she kamikaze into the monsters?! How much will that cost in real life! Kotoha has observed Zakuro’s pattern and realizes her weakness is a life source. This is where Juri comes in. She plugs all the car batteries and runs them on the ground, shocking Zakuro with all the flowing electric.

Rin dreams of her likes (cooking) and dislikes (the starry night sky) and also the time Zakuro offered her hand. The reason why Zakuro did that was she too was alone and wanted to protect Rin. The duo started living a blissful life together as Rin learns to cook dishes and opens up her heart and her dislike of starry night skies because it makes her feel alone that she can’t sleep at night. Then at a flower field, when Rin asked why she helped her, though Zakuro said she wanted to protect her, it may be because she too wanted to be protected and that if they’re together, they won’t be alone. But suddenly it’s like she has a sudden change in character. Zakuro becomes the evil lady as we know and forces Rin to go on a killing spree upon those that tormented her. She places a talisman on Rin’s forehead and made Rin her toy. When Rin awakens, she interrupts the fight between Hime and Zakuro. Hime won’t allow Zakuro to take Rin back since she considers Rin her toy. However Zakuro threatens she can escape and return. Each time she’ll leave a scar much worse than before. In a surprise move, Rin says she will go with Zakuro because she’s been with her for a very long time and was the first person who treated her kindly. Zakuro may have felt sympathy in seeing Rin’s eyes when suddenly a flame monster engulfs her. It is the work of Enjin and he has turned Zakuro into a more powerful being. Asking Hime the population of Sakurashin City, Zakuro is glad to add 2,040 people to her corpse collection.

Episode 3
Once more, Rin remembers why she hates the starry night sky unlike other people because there is nothing for her to see as it is pitch black. Enjin is watching from afar and is being approached by Yae (still wearing that bear headgear?). She is here to ensure that he does not interfere further like herself because she believes in those kids. Kotoha is at her limits so she touches Akina’s hand to tune him back and also pass the baton to him. Zakuro attacks as Kyousuke uses his body as a shield to protect Hime from her controlling corpse power. Zakuro uses Kyousuke as his doll to fight Hime. Hime wants Zakuro to give the dragon back (the thing she stole from the shrine and the reason why Rin became weak and fell under her control). Zakuro possesses Hime but is surprised that she could break out from her manipulation with ease. Okay, make that lots of determination. Akina Tunes Kyousuke to free him from his possession. He may not have mastered the control yet but it was good enough because he didn’t send Kyousuke to the other world. Zakuro uses her final trump card in the form of Rin. Rin is not under her mind control when she blurted out how she hates everyone in this city, shocking Hime. She wants them all to leave them alone as Zakuro takes her away. Akina wants to go after them but Hime is doubtful. He tells everyone who isn’t willing to help to stay back as they’ll be in the way. Of everyone goes except for Hime and Kyousuke. Kyousuke gives her a one minute break. He reminds her how he agreed to worked with her because he sympathizes her heart’s desire to fix this city. She gets a call from her grandma informing her that everyone is safe in the shelters (during the fight, the city suddenly went pitch black). Hime gets her confidence back and unlocks Kyousuke’s bracelet to unseal his true strength before rejoining Akina and co. Oya-san too has his doubts over chasing Rin since this is what she wished for. But Akina tells him she wasn’t saying what her heart wanted. What was the reason she left the other world and came here in the first place? Life was so hard back there that she ran away here. And ever since, she has never said she wanted to leave this place once.

Zakuro is furious jumping all over town because there are no people in sight for her to turn them into corpses. In no time, it’ll be another round with Hime. Zakuro again grips Kyousuke to use him as a weapon against Hime and Akina. The distraction to save Rin failed as Akina is tossed off the building. Thankfully he landed on the garbage pile below. Touka, with her bracelet off also joins the fray. Akina gets an idea and wants Ao to telepathically inform the rest to make it to the new government building. Hime and Kyousuke got the message and race through the streets walloping all the tree monsters Zakuro summoned. Hime pleads to Rin to return but she still insists to live with Zakuro. Well, if Rin doesn’t listen, then what are the chances will Hime listen to her to stop fighting? Zakuro pounds Hime into the elevator of the new government building. Giving the signal to Kyousuke, he sends the lift up to the top floor. Hime is confident that with this city and its people’s love for the dragon, they can’t lose. Zakuro fears that she may have been lured into a place with a dragon coil but that was just a decoy. There is none. When the elevator reaches the top, Akina surprises her with his Tuning. The blast is so great that she starts flying off the building. Rin jumps down to save her. This is followed by Hime. But heck! Why is everyone else also jumping down?! Can anybody fly here? Furthermore, they’re offering to be the one as the landing cushion. When Kyousuke volunteers, they let him! Haha! Fooled. But don’t worry. Nobody is going to be a cushion because Kotoha has recovered enough to materialize a giant air bag for soft landing. Recovering from the shocking fall, Hime wraps her scarf around Rin (maybe she wants to hide her tears?). She says she wants to be with Rin even though if she hates them. Of course Rin denies hating them and then cries her heart out. Akina starts crutching in pain but Oya-san holds his hand to readjust him back. Before Rin follows Zakuro to the hospital, she has a little touching reunion with her adopted parents.

Life returns to normal for everyone. For now. Yuuhi tells Akina and Hime that things will really get tougher now but the rest take it in a positive light seeing anticipating it is half the pleasure. Wait a minute. It’s fun to anticipate bad things? Better than being all gloomy, right? As for Zakuro, she now works and lives with Rin at Oya-san and Okami-san’s place. She is more docile than before. Plus, she also has a certificate of residence and is now a citizen of Sakurashin City. Rin narrates that she now loves the starry night sky she once hated because she has someone to look up with.

Yozakura Minna…
It would be unfair to say the ending is unsatisfactory because this is just an end of one of the many chapters in the manga. I’m not sure if there are going to be any more OVA productions for this series seeing that it is obvious everything has not end yet. In fact, the tough fight may only be just the beginning. Enjin may have begun to move but he hasn’t really make his presence felt yet. He is just hanging around, watching things unfold. Then there are the other Youkai Hunters that are yet to be introduced. So perhaps future OVA episodes may introduce them and in return have the series focus on one of the heroes/heroines just like how this one is pretty much on Rin. In a way I felt that some of the characters like Ao have been relegated to a minor background character that doesn’t really stand out. Yuuhi’s assistant, Mariabelle is still around following him wherever he goes but still, her appearance lacks any impact.

There is a lot of potential in the story and characters if they really do want to continue with making more OVAs or even translate it into a TV series remake. For we may get to know more in depth about the past of characters like Kotoha, Ao, Akina and especially Hime. The bits of information like the dragon coil and Nanagou are interesting enough to warrant further expansion. Maybe throw in a little love romance while they’re at it :). For Rin, she is a lucky girl to have lots of friends and people who care and support her. She’ll just realize more that the people in this city will always love her like she does for them. It is still really unclear why Zakuro turned Rin into her personal doll to go on a killing spree. Was Zakuro hypnotized or being controlled by something sinister? How did a nice person could suddenly change into something so heartless? No matter how wicked she was, Rin still considered her as someone dear. Because she was in a dilemma and couldn’t stand her new family, friends and city to suffer any more, she was willing to leave with Zakuro. But at least with Zakuro’s case and issue settled, she’s no longer part of the Youkai Hunters and is one of them now.

One of the many areas why I find this series as similar to Kaibutsu Oujo OVA is also the drawing and art. In one word: Horrible. The TV series definitely has the characters drawn and looking way much better than the ones here. Not to say they are unidentifiable but it is such a turn off looking at those simple lines and other stuffs that lack great details. It is like as though there is a budget constraint in making the OVAs or everybody is doing a rush job to meet the release date. Hah! Three episodes over a year? Deadline excuse is not feasible. However this is how the original manga drawing looks like. But you’ll learn to get use to it instead of criticizing it all the way. It makes life much easier. Besides, it’s not that my drawing skills are superb either so it’s not really my place to say. However unlike in Kaibutsu Oujo OVA, Yozakura Quartet OVA has retained all its original seiyuu voices from the TV series. Misato Fukuen still voices Hime, Yuki Kaji as Akina, Miyuki Sawashiro as Kotoha, Fuji Sakita as Ao, Ai Matayoshi as Rin, Haruka Tomatsu as Touka and Daisuke Ono as Kyousuke. The only addition is Kaoru Mizuhara as Zakuro (Gisen in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls).

At first when started watching this OVA, I was thinking that it may just be some comical fun stiff seeing we started out with the recognition of Touka and Hime’s possible crush on Akina. This is followed by Yae’s comical antics with her bear infatuation and the likes. But when Zakuro finally comes into the picture and abducts Rin, that’s when the real action begins. The action feels smooth and the flow not disruptive. I won’t say the fight sequences are mind blowing but they are enough to keep casual viewers like me satisfied. Just that because of the drawing that makes it a major turn off. The best fighting character to me is of course Kotoha because of her ability to materialize objects by merely saying it. So the part whereby she sent waves and waves of objects in her fight against Zakuro was quite exciting. When Yae was acting all cute and strange, my first thought was where did that kickass nun chick went to? This wasn’t how I remembered her. Then just to show us she still hasn’t lost her touch, that little brawl with those petty criminals was just a prelude before the main action shifts to the main gang. After that, you won’t really see her again except for that little confrontation with Enjin. I also remember Yuuhi being some sort of womaniser in the TV series but here, he is like a naughty perverted kid whenever he is not serious in his job. Juri is still an eccentric nurse but she wasn’t as crazy as I remember she was in the TV series. Was she?

It still bugs me that the quartet is used to describe the team of Hime, Akina, Kotoha and Ao as they go about helping those in need in the city, no matter how big or small. I always thought Kyousuke and Touka should also be part of team because they’ve always been helping out too. But to call a team of six people as sextet may sound a little dirty, don’t you think? But I don’t think that this team is really confined to these small number of people. In fact, I feel the entire Sakurashin City should be part of this ‘quartet’ because everybody helps each other out the best they can. This OVA may not show the hostility between humans and youkais living together and would give off a feel that all beings are co-existing peacefully together (there will always be exceptions like a certain bespectacled baddie). So if everybody is cooperative to protect each other, why do you need God in the first place? Maybe that’s why Yuuhi and Yae play a passive role in just watching over the city. Just in case a big time baddie with devil-like powers show up. Otherwise we could just rely on our trust, bond and friendship to get things over with. Or maybe just pray harder.