November 25, 2012

Fishing? That’s for boring old people, right? Either with nothing else better to do, lots of time to kill or have nothing exciting to pass the time, right? Hah! I hope fishing enthusiasts, young and old won’t kill me. But really, if you are really into this outdoor sport, you better have lots of patience and be prepared to endure hours after hours of idleness. I’m not one to say but I just can’t seem to understand the thrill and excitement of man against fish. The exhilaration while trying to reel in scaly creatures. So it was kind of odd for me to actually go check out Tsuritama because I well know beforehand and from the promo poster and synopsis, fishing is going to be the main theme of this series.

But something else caught my attention like a lure. There’s an alien involved! Oh, among the boys there’s a guy who puts on a demon face when he gets nervous and an Indian national spy. How weird can it get? This I got to see. While this anime is about friendship fostered via fishing, perhaps for beginners you’ll learn a thing or two about the basics of fishing (professional anglers would definitely have better material for references). Without giving away too much, this anime is something like this. Alien kid comes to Earth to find somebody worthy to fish out something dangerous from our ocean and bring it back to his home planet. Seriously, fishing? Don’t they have some high-tech equipment that just sucks whatever he is looking out from the depths of the sea? Or maybe the alien is just really into fishing… Hmm… Sounds like a fishy story…

Episode 1
A narration of a story that a five-headed dragon that lived in the ocean terrorized Enoshima till a beautiful goddess descended from the sky and stopped it. There’s this weird kid named Haru with his talking goldfish in a fish bowl walking around Enoshima. He is mesmerizing the crowd at the aquarium as he can command a school of fish to swim in patterns. Elsewhere Yuki Sanada is going to transfer out of school due to his family’s job. He has to give his final speech but since he is afraid of people staring at him, he feels like as though he is drowning and his face contorts into a devil!!! Soon he and his grandma, Keito pack their things and they drive down south to Enoshima, where they’ll be staying. Haru spots them and gets excited. The mansion Yuki will be living in seems decent. I mean, it’s got an ocean view so what’s there to complain? As Yuki makes his way to school, Haru comes by the house, proclaims he is an alien and will be living with them! Well, well. Keito accepts him with open arms! Yuki is on the train and facing a dilemma to give up his seat to an elderly guy. Is that panicky face again and by the time it’s over, Natsuki Usami already gave his and Erika, the girl sitting opposite is laughing. In class, Yuki yet again has a hard time introducing himself. Considering how he is explaining about the goodness of Enoshima, I say he’s doing pretty well despite nervous deep down inside. Taking his seat, he gets a shock when he realizes Erika is sitting next to him! Then everybody starts staring. The sweat is running down his face. Suddenly the other new transfer student, Haru enters class. With a fishing rod in hand, he introduces himself as an alien and is seemingly wants to get friendly with Yuki. Who the hell is this kid to know his name? Of course with the others staring intensely, his face is about to turn into a demon again when Haru shoots his water gun into his face. Next thing he knows, Yuki is doing the Enoshima Dance with Haru. Huh? WTF?!

Haru follows Yuki after school. Since he’s going to pull that face again for being too close, another water gun squirt to his face. Next thing he knows, he is in a fishing shop run by Misaki. Natsuki comes in and it seems he is a part timer but as Misaki awesomely describes him, he is a talented fisher nicknamed the Fishing Prince. Since Natsuki doesn’t want to get friendly, it’s cue for Haru to squirt his water gun on the guys. Next thing they know, they’re at the pier with fishing gear. Since Haru wants to fish and it’s come down to this (despite Yuki having no interest in fishing whatsoever), Natsuki demonstrates how to use a lure. Yuki the amateur did a mistake with the lure and thought Natsuki was angry so much so he felt that drowning feeling again. Then he felt his line pulled. Yuki has a hard time reeling it in but manages to do so with Natsuki’s help. He gets his first lesson that the sea bass will shake its body to unhook the lure. Don’t panic or you will lose it. Yuki goes back home, tired out. If he thinks this will be his sanctuary, think again because here comes Haru. This is his home, remember? So it’s kinda funny to see Haru chasing Yuki here and there like as though he’s some happy serial molester. Haru wants Yuki to save the world together. Say what? Oh, don’t put up that face again or else you’ll get… Too late.

Episode 2
So it’s a pain having Haru following so close to him so much so rumours has spread that the duo are like an alien and Hannya combo. I wonder how many times have it been Haru shooting his water gun into Yuki’s face and they end up in that weird Enoshima Dance in front of class. Then entering the shop, he gets another water gun squirt. This time by a girl. The next time he finds himself on top of Skytree Tower! That girl, Koko is Haru’s sister (and that goldfish too). Oh dear. That means she’s an alien too. She wants him to help Haru out for a big catch as he is the only one who can save the world. Otherwise, Earth will be destroyed. If that isn’t a good motivation to agree, I guess her water gun is. Back at the fishing shop, Haru pesters Natsuki to teach him fishing. Both remain stubborn. Till Natsuki’s little sister, Sakura comes in that we see a total change in Natsuki’s attitude. Man, he agrees to teach them and he even smiled! So at the pier, Natsuki teaches the guys on the basics, especially how to tie a uni knot. I guess amateurs and unenthusiasts like me won’t get it at first go, eh? As for Yuki, he has to do it since Koko is pointing her water gun from a far. Since Natsuki won’t show them again, Haru shoots his water gun. Now Yuki can see for himself how Yuki fully commands Natsuki to show him again. So that was how he’s being controlled all the while? Scary indeed. Of course it isn’t a good tie so when Yuki gets his line hooked again, despite his confident feeling he can reel it in this time, the line snaps. However Natsuki asks if he tied his knot right. Since he didn’t, he wants him to think who’ll suffer the most if it doesn’t. He refuses to fish with such a guy. A bunch of harsh words has Yuki’s face turn into a demon and in the end, he runs away. Not even Koko’s water gun threat could stop him. Screw fishing!

Back home Yuki locks himself in his room and despite Haru’s pestering, he won’t come out. Haru talks to Keito so she advises just to let him be because he might be thinking about something important if left alone. She is confident he can be his friend. Yuki reflects on Natsuki’s harsh words and realizes the frustration he felt. Next morning, Yuki works hard to tie the perfect uni knot. Koko doesn’t think Haru should fish with him since he broke his promise about fishing together. But Haru remains positive and if he leaves him alone, they’ll be friends. Yuki still couldn’t make the perfect uni knot but thinking back thoroughly at the things Natsuki did, he follows exactly the steps to reduce friction and keep it from breaking. Later he confronts Haru and agrees to fish with him but wants him to stop shooting the water gun because he doesn’t like it. Okay. In class, Yuki summons his courage to show Natsuki the uni knot he tied and wants him to teach him fishing. Now, if you realize an Indian turban guy in a suit spying around in some scenes, now he makes his proper introduction. Akira Agarkar Yamada and his pet duck, Tapioca (nice name for a duck. Should ducks be named, say, Donald?) is the new transfer student in their class. Despite admitting he is 25 years old, he hopes they can be friends. How weird can this get? And Haru seems to be afraid of him.

Episode 3
Being interested in fishing doesn’t make you an overnight pro. So Natsuki teaches them how to cast but being amateurs, he won’t let them cast into the ocean yet till they manage to throw their line into the bucket. They have to shout “Enoshima Bowl” while casting. Why? Donno. Just do it! It’s not easy as it seems despite Natsuki making it look so easy. He’s a pro, remember. Thus Natsuki explains about feathering (something about controlling the reel and line with your finger as a break). In the end, the duo didn’t even come close to the bucket. Back home, Keito says from tomorrow she won’t be home because she’ll be hospitalized after a check-up at the hospital. Yuki is not amused since she is telling him last minute but accepts this kind of thing since he’s used to it. Keito notes he won’t be lonely this time since he has Haru around. Meanwhile Akira has been going around Enoshima and experiencing the place. He returns to his base which is masquerading as a roadside duck restaurant. The name of his organization? Guess. DUCK. Uhn… If you’re interested, it stands for Defensive Universal Confidential Keepers. He reports to his boss, Joushi about the alien known JF1 (Haru) and JF2 (Koko). Joushi is baffled since they’re just tourist aliens. What more, they’re impersonating humans and Haru fishes every day. Akira warns about Haru’s water gun that can control humans so Joushi lets him take care of the rest because they’ve got their hands full with the Bermuda Syndrome investigation as well. Haru is taking a bath and communicating with Koko. He is afraid of that Indian guy, especially his duck. Yeah, they think it’s some sort of weapon! Koko tries to persuade him to ditch Yuki. That night Haru can’t sleep and talks to Keito at her flower garden. He wonders why she is taking care of the flowers since they’re going to die. It’s because they’re going to die. Huh? Because of that, she wants to make them bloom beautifully. She hopes he can look after Yuki and thanks him. But he hasn’t done anything yet. You not necessarily thank people when they’ve done something. You thank someone because you’re happy. She keeps him a pot of her flowers and whenever he’s sad or they have a fight, just look at them and they’ll make him happy and think of those flowers as her. Just water them every day. Haru notes they’re the same like him. They need water to survive.

So after Keito is admitted, Haru and Yuki’s relation takes a nose dive. Well, can you blame him when Haru tried to console him by saying that everything dies eventually? Yeah, Yuki is not talking to him. So much so he skips school. Even Natsuki pays him a visit to convince him but it’s no good. He doesn’t even want to fish. Haru tries to talk to him again but Yuki blows his top saying he doesn’t know how he feels since he’s an alien. Sure, he may not understand but Haru starts wishing good things for Yuki and reiterates what Keito told him. May he get the Enoshima Bowl in, among others. Koko once more tries to convince Haru to break up with that guy but Haru believes in him. Yuki after having serious thought about things finally gets up in the wee hours of the day to practice his casting. Not even the rain can stop him. Haru, Koko and even Akira are watching and tell him to give up. Haru then gives him the necessary verbal support and Yuki’s face change into a demon. I’m not sure if this helped his casting. But his casting with passion now. Then he got close enough and notices he can control the line with his finger. A few more tries and Haru’s constant cheering finally has Yuki landing into the bucket. At this point, Natsuki who is doing is morning jog saw everything. Yuki thanks him but he says he didn’t do anything. Haru begs to differ. It’s because he taught him Enoshima Bowl and became his friend. So Yuki and Haru continue to practice their casting over and over throughout the day. Practice makes perfect.

Episode 4
Mornings have become busier for the duo ever since Keito got hospitalized. If only Haru didn’t make a mess of things. Well, he’s alien after all. While practising their casting, Yuki couldn’t believe Haru and Natsuki’s dad, Tamotsu whom he affectionately calls Tamocchan are good friends. Yeah, they even know the hand signals. Back at his ramen store, they also meet Sakura (she also know the hand signals) and Mari (Tamocchan’s new wife. Natsuki and Sakura’s mom passed away). Seems Natsuki and Tamocchan aren’t getting along despite daddy trying to patch things up. Haru isn’t tact when he blurts out Tamocchan and Mari’s relationship. Moving onto what they want to catch, Haru says something huge in Enoshima. Akira with his spy cameras everywhere are watching them and wonders if he’ll return to outer space once he catches it. Yuki visits Keito and complains about Haru’s attitude but she notes Haru has a strange power. The kind that melts people’s hearts. Once Yuki and Haru master their casting in a bucket, Natsuki takes them to fish at the ocean. With more fishing terms and techniques (unenthusiasts like me are just lost), they cast their lures and Yuki manages to hook a sea bass. Of course Yuki panics and the fish got away. Akira shows Misaki some cool fishing gears and asks the big fish around here. The boat captain, Ayumi Inoue heard and will allow him to fish on his boat (he considers anything less than 60cm not a fish – so what are anchovies?). Ayumi departs some cool advice that it’s not the equipment but the skill. Misaki is impressed (in a teasing manner) of his coolness so Ayumi rushes off to proclaim his love victory. I take it he’s always like that. Next morning, Haru uses his water gun on Natsuki so that he could patch things up with his father. Yuki is surprised to see them both fishing together and they both snap out from the hypnosis when Yuki talks to them. They both didn’t realize what happened before. Natsuki is not amused despite Tamocchan wanting to fish together and leaves. Haru tries to stop him but Natsuki isn’t staying. Once Yuki learns Haru used the water gun, he blows his top he broke his promise. Even though he didn’t us it on him. Because of this, Yuki gets upset and is through. He doesn’t want alien boy to follow him. Haru visits Keito and seeks her advice. Though it was his fault, she notes that “Sorry” isn’t just a word and it takes more.

Yuki thinks deep and remembers Keito’s words of what he’ll do if Haru disappears. He is confident he’ll be fine. Next day, only Natsuki and Yuki went fishing. Seems quieter without that alien boy around, eh? Then Yuki gets another pull. This time, he doesn’t panic and focuses with Natsuki guiding him when to lift his rod and to reel it in. In the end, Yuki successfully catches a big sea bass. In his happiness, he wants to take a photo of his catch to show it to Haru. However he isn’t at home and goes out looking for him around town, worried he already returned to space. He is surprised to see him lying face down in the ocean and dives in to save him. Well, Yuki can’t really swim. Imagine the surprise look on his face when he knows Haru is alright. He’s just floating in the sea since he felt ‘dry’. Haru is happy that he was worried about him. But save that for later because you got to save this guy first before he drowns. On land, to show his sincerity, Haru is willing to throw away his water gun so he won’t get mad anymore. But Yuki cools down and apologizes that it’s his fault for getting mad in the first place. He’s an alien who doesn’t understand humans after all. That’s why Haru wants to understand so that they won’t fight anymore. Yuki shows him the picture of the fish he caught but since his handphone got soaked in the sea. I guess nothing’s coming out. Haru thought he’s lying. Akira watches from afar and wonders if Haru is here just to make friends. Though Yuki caught a cold that night, Haru stayed by his side the entire time and he didn’t feel the least bit annoyed.

Episode 5
Yuki thinks of buying his own rod since they can’t forever be borrowing from Misaki. At her store, Misaki introduces some rods (with an equally lengthy product explanation that nobody would care to hear) but guess what? A rod costs a bomb! Can a high school student afford that? Ayumi comes in and seems Haru is his friend too. Yeah, he knows about his planet which is all cool. The perfect place for summer vacation. On the other hand, he doesn’t like Akira too much because his turban makes him feel hot. Natsuki suggests they can make money while fishing so he pleads to Ayumi to work on his fishing boat. Ayumi accepts and they’ll start tomorrow. He’ll make them a real man of the ocean in 3 days. Misaki praises him so Ayumi rushes off to do his usual victory call. Later Akira spies on Haru talking to Koko. He wonders who the other guy is because Koko warned Haru if ‘he’ is out there, he’ll be in trouble. Akira thinks of joining the boat job. As the boat departs, the boat is rocking, Yuki’s confidence is rocking too. He can’t even stand up. But Haru is so happy and jumping around like an agile acrobat. He’s having so much fun. In the middle of the sea, Natsuki seems to be fishing first. But he says he is instructing on how to catch mani-mani fish. It’s his job to catch the first one. With the school of fish gathering, Natsuki gives the signal to cast away. Yuki and Haru’s job is to scoop up the caught fish with their net. Since Yuki is still nervous, he is slow. When he manages to net in a customer’s fish, the handle of the net broke. He panics and makes his demon face. Ayumi is quick to apologize on his behalf and lightens the mood that his face looks like a stone fish. At the end of the first day, the guys receive their first pay but Yuki isn’t thrilled. Next day, the gang are waiting for Yuki who is running late. Akira thinks he won’t show up after that embarrassing incident but Natsuki says he is wrong. Yuki will be here and won’t let something like that get him down. He notes Akira doesn’t have any friends. Soon, Yuki comes rushing in. He was held back because he was trying to fix the net. Yuki observes Natsuki does his cool catch and reeling. It gave him enough confidence to stand and boost his morale further when he is able to net the fish properly. See how happy he is? On the third day, Yuki gets the honours to instruct and though fights a big fish, he doesn’t forget his lessons and puts all his knowledge to good use to reel it in. He is also made to let out his loud voice to signal the others to cast away. Yuki is a happy man by the end of the third day. Akira notes he doesn’t need friends now. Yuki narrates he found something interesting. He has friends by his side and is surprised how he can loudly laugh out now.

Episode 6
It’s been 3 weeks and Yuki is enjoying his job. Man, he’s worked up a tan. Natsuki points out to a bait ball whereby small fish are swimming on the surface and probably bigger fish, tuna perhaps, are trying to eat them from underneath. Yuki and Haru visit Keito and the good news is that she’ll be discharged by the end of the week. Thinking of celebrating her return, Yuki thinks of fishing a tuna since it is her favourite. Meanwhile Akira reports to Joushi about some strange phenomenon that he believes has something to do with Bermuda Syndrome. However he wants Akira to continue with his assignment instead of investigating this incident. Akira goes to see Eriko who is also a miko priestess at the shrine to ask about Spirited Away incidents. She thinks it’s better to ask her grandpa, Heihachi who is the head of the shrine and town mayor. Heihachi explains about the old legend about the dragon who spirited people away and the goddess who subdued him. Akira doesn’t believe it since dragons are mythical creatures. Heihachi believes the dragon is real and did spirit people away. Koko is seen eavesdropping outside. The gang are out fishing for tuna and they are given finer tips on how to catch the big fish like jerking and wearing a fishing belt to support the rod. Because tuna are cautious, they only have one chance as they can’t easily approach them either. Plus, the boat driver must also be good so fishing tuna takes great cooperation. But the biggest problem is finding the tuna’s location. One day they passed Akemi, the nickname for an artificial reef where lots of fish gather. Even so, locals do not fish here and there is no fishing ban. Rumours have it a boat went missing there a long time ago. While the kids continue to fish, Akira requests Ayumi to teach him to drive a boat. However Ayumi has to head back early since he has something to do. He warns them not to go near Akemi. The trio lament that there are no free boats and that they can’t fish for tuna on shore. Then comes Akira the saviour. He offers to take them on his boat.

Of course with no tuna around, I guess it’s tempting to head to Akemi where they believe will be lots of tuna. Seeing fish leaping out of the water is a magnificent sight. Yuki casts his line and baits a tuna while Akira steers the boat. He struggles with it but loses out in the end. Akira wants to handle it since Yuki can’t but Natsuki wants him to give Yuki another chance because if it’s not him, there’s no meaning to it. Giving it another shot, this time Yuki manages to catch it. Before they could celebrate their teamwork, suddenly everything goes pitch black. They realize Akemi is gone before their eyes. Misaki, Sakura and Ayumi are waiting for the boys to come back. They never did and it’s already closing time. Till Heihachi tells them the sea god is in sour mood today because a bunch of kids went to Akemi to fish. So the adults scramble to find them. Speaking of which, they manage to see Akemi in their sight at a distance and wonder if they have teleported (they notice their fuel level is still the same). Or did somebody do memory manipulation? Suddenly a huge bait ball appears. Haru becomes so happy and points out it’s ‘him’. It’s been a hundred years since they’ve met. Haru starts going happily crazy and fires his water gun at Natsuki and Yuki (they’re hypnotized to do the Enoshima Dance). Akira becomes defensive thinking he has shown his true colours. The choppy waters means Akira can’t balance well and loses his gun and knife but Haru’s hand is shaking and can’t pull the trigger. The tuna flies into Akira’s face. By the time the boys regain consciousness, they are on the rocky reef. Akira flags for Tamocchan to rescue them. Well, their boat’s done for. How did Koko get here? She made an I-told-you-so statement to Haru. Thankfully the tuna is alright and is preserved in a freezer back on land. The kids get slapped by Ayumi for doing something reckless but he is glad they’re alright. When it’s Tamocchan’s turn to be worried about his son, Natsuki just walked away. Not interested in his old man, eh? Soon Keito is discharged and everyone celebrates her return with a huge tuna feast. Yum! Yuki notices ever since that day, Haru hardly smiled.

Episode 7
Yuki now has enough to get his own gear. But will it be enough? Thankfully Misaki was kind enough to give him a discount. However Haru is not interested in fishing anymore. He claims the ocean is dangerous and forbids fishing! Akira reports to Joushi about the Bermuda Syndrome happening right here in Enoshima and that it’s the work of aliens in which JF1 is their kin. Despite himself witnessing it, since he has no recorded proof, he wasn’t taken seriously and is told to maintain his distance with JF1. On a bright sunny day as Natsuki, Yuki and Akira fish, Natsuki can’t help wonder Akira in a raincoat. He thinks it’s going to rain? Natsuki thought he should just admit he had fun fishing tuna with them. Though Natsuki won’t be teaching Yuki anything today because as an angler he has to think and make his own strategies base on his location and condition, he still imparts some advice like countdown. Yuki may still be an amateur but at least he is picking up things and has his own reasons why he chooses certain lures. They challenge each other to see who could first catch a sea bass feeding on a school of anchovies underneath the bridge. Haru suddenly apologizes to Akira for pulling off that stunt and promises it won’t happen again. I guess that’s why he wore the raincoat and had an umbrella in hand. Yeah, he’s really getting defensive not to become wet. Sakura comes by to inform that the day after tomorrow is Natsuki’s birthday and the family will be going on a fishing trip. Natsuki is not too thrilled because it isn’t really a ‘family’ because there’s Mari… Back home, Keito notices Haru’s heart in pain so she talks to him that sometimes band aids won’t be enough to heal the hurt in the heart and have to try harder. Next day, Sakura shows Ayumi, Haru and Yuki several colourful necklaces she made for her family. She plans to give it to them during the outing but is afraid Natsuki won’t turn up. Ayumi suggests they all go and will allow them to use his boat. With everyone around, they won’t fight. But Haru is reluctant so Yuki uses some reverse psychology to say that this is their chance to get along. That night, Haru hopes ‘he’ won’t get in their way tomorrow because he wants to be friends with everyone.

So everybody gets on Ayumi’s boat for the fishing excursion. When it’s time to take photos, Natsuki can’t seem to do a proper smile when he’s with his dad. Thinking it’s because he hasn’t caught anything, they are confident he will. Tamocchan says his son will be a bass fishing pro when suddenly Natsuki objects. This leads into an argument as Natsuki says he knows well he can’t catch black bass at Enoshima. In that case, Tamocchan asks him to leave this place but he can’t. Is it because of the store? He doesn’t have to worry about that because he plans to turn it into some carpet store. Besides, it’s his store and he doesn’t need to impose on himself about taking over. Natsuki is upset he was never consulted despite them being family and hates him. Suddenly a speeding boat is threatening to crash into them. Koko thinks it is ‘him’ controlling those happy boaters. Ayumi quickly steers his boat away and though they barely missed each other, the impact of the turn has Sakura losing one of her necklace. The one she made for her late mom. She could’ve been thrown off if Haru hadn’t grabbed her but the price to pay is that her necklace sinks down into the sea. Sakura blames Natsuki for it. She wanted to give the necklaces but he had to go fight. She doesn’t want a new one and tells him off why he can’t ever get along with dad. Natsuki has had enough of this and slaps her. Poor Sakura crying so loud… Yuki wants him to apologize but is being told he knows nothing about their family affairs. So with relationships strained, Yuki gets a call from Misaki that night because Sakura is missing and nobody could find her.

Episode 8
Everybody goes out searching but to no avail. Even Akira dispatches his colleagues to find Sakura. But Heihachi believes she has been Spirited Away by the dragon. Yuki tries to console Natsuki but in return he himself became emotional because he agrees he knows nothing about siblings or families as his own parents are never coming back. Watching him made him feel jealous. He doesn’t want Natsuki to act as though he is alone. Akira advises Natsuki that he speculates Sakura went off to see her mother. Only Natsuki will know what it means. He thinks back and remembers the time they spent together. Instantly he knows where Sakura is and heads over to the closed amusement park. He finds her there and both siblings reunite. Sakura breaks down into tears. Natsuki apologizes and thanks the rest (except his dad of course). Later Akira meets Haru and Koko and introduces himself as an alien investigator of DUCK (I guess they weren’t too impressed with his posing). He asks their reason on Earth and they reply it’s to catch ‘him’. One of their kind who came to Earth a long time ago and doing naughty things while travelling Earth’s oceans. They will bring him back home once they catch him but the only way to subdue him is to bring ‘him’ out of the ocean. Communication via water works within their kind but somehow it ends up controlling humans, that’s why they don’t get along. So ‘he’ sometimes forgets his own strength and becomes dangerous. Because they have no fishing experience, they can’t do it themselves. That’s why they were going to catch ‘him’ with Yuki. Once he fishes ‘him’ out, they’ll subdue ‘him’ with their power. Besides, if they’re not careful, they’ll be affected by ‘him’ too (like the other night Haru went crazy). And this isn’t his peak yet. When he gets really strong, he can even control people via moisture in the air. So if humidity suddenly increases, the air is filled with moisture, everyone will fall under the spell and do the Enoshima Dance. That doesn’t sound so bad. Akira wants them to go home and DUCK will take it from here. He can’t have them endanger human lives. Natsuki and Tamocchan talk things out. He mentions about renovating the store and sell all sorts of things. Hey, you won’t know if you don’t try. He gives his son advice to do what he wants. As long as he is happy and serious, he’ll support him. Yuki also talks to Keito about his problem of being lonely for too long. He is glad he had people to talk things out to. Haru later comes back feeling much better so Keito reminds him if he ever leaves, make sure to properly say goodbye and not without saying anything.

The next day the guys continue their unfinished fishing challenged. Haru now rejoins them. They talk about wanting this time to last forever and Haru assures them the world won’t end because it’d be just sad as he loves Enoshima. In the end, Yuki caught the biggest fish while Natsuki the smallest. This means it’s punishment time. They cut his hair! Natsuki now has confidence to try and be a pro fishing bass and catch the black bass. Natsuki reconciles with Sakura and his sister realizes he has been staying up all night to remake the lost necklace. He sucks. Akira reports back to Joushi that JF1 is not a dangerous alien and holds the key to explain Bermuda Syndrome. However Joushi says he has sent a combat unit to Enoshima as he has determined the unusual events occurring in Enoshima’s vicinity to be the product of Bermuda Syndrome and that JF1 is one of them. See all the ships beaching on shore and everyone happily doing the Enoshima Dance? Weird indeed. Akira is shocked with the decision and tries to convince that JF1 is not hostile but Joushi wonders if Akira is a real DUCK investigator. That’s because he has footage showing him having fun fishing with his new friends. He is being apprehended by his colleagues. Yuki meanwhile narrates he realizes Haru telling the truth because with the typhoon from the Mariana Islands slowly picking up steam and moving towards Japan, Earth is a step closer to being in danger.

Episode 9
Anybody that comes into contact with any water will do the Enoshima Dance. Serious. And DUCK has landed at Enoshima. It just bothers me that their containment suits look like yellow space bunnies. They make squeaky rubber noises when they walk too? WTF?! How do you cure people of the dancing fever? Blow them dry with powerful hot blowers! Yuki can’t find Haru anywhere when DUCK makes a public announcement not to touch or use water. Whether it’s drinking or washing your butt, it’s all off limits! Can humans survive without water? Joushi sees Akira and is not convinced that JF1 is their ally. He doesn’t listen to Akira’s advice to come up with a plan to remove JFX (‘him’) from the ocean even if this information bit came from Haru, they don’t trust an alien. Plus, they didn’t come here to fish and will commence military strike when they find JFX. Haru and Koko are together. Nothing ‘him’ is coming closer. They have no regrets if they don’t ever leave Enoshima because they had fun here. DUCK invades Yuki’s house and suspects him of hiding Haru. Then they get a call that Haru has been spotted. Yuki is confused where Haru went so Keito confirms if he had said goodbye. Since he did not, he is still around. Haru and Koko swim towards ‘him’ and they combine their powers to contain their target. But ‘he’ was too powerful for them to handle so before Koko gets swallowed by the waves, she blasts Haru back to shore. The DUCK guy guarding Akira made a mistake of eating curry at this point and he is experiencing stomach discomfort. Of course Akira laced his drink with laxative to make his escape. While Keito is treating the DUCK guards to her sweet treats, Yuki escapes outside and meets Akira. He reveals his identity and purpose of observing Haru and believes he is connected to the Bermuda Syndrome of lost planes and ships that they were investigating. These incidents have been happening around Enoshima and an alien life form is responsible. That organism has the power to control others through water and though Haru himself is not dangerous, he is involved with this incident that threatens Earth. He wants Yuki to leave it to DUCK to handle and that Haru as an alien will one day part from there. Yuki doesn’t buy his crap because they had fun together. Then a bunch of DUCK guys rush back into Yuki’s house as Haru is believed to be inside. But they all return out walking away calmly. When Yuki rushes in, he is happy to see Haru but the alien kid says he hates him. What’s more, Keito is unconscious in the floor. Haru uses his water gun on Yuki and tells him to leave Enoshima. Soon, Yuki goes on a rampage throughout Enoshima, firing his water gun at people, telling them to leave Enoshima as the alien has invaded.

Those not affected by the water gun are being evacuated in buses by DUCK. By the time Yuki and Keito regain consciousness, they find themselves on the bullet train and that the news are reporting on aliens invading Enoshima and all residents have been evacuated. Haru is alone at Enoshima as Akira confronts him, trying to talk to him. But Yuki throws up a fuss and escape. Yeah, that containment suit is indeed clumsy. By the time Natsuki could connect with Yuki, the former is in an evacuation shelter and the latter in Nagoya. Yuki is confused what to do. He doesn’t know whether he should go back or not because Haru is an alien and doesn’t understand him. So Yuki talks to Keito about Haru’s betrayal. She replies she believes what she sees with her eyes. Before Haru pulled the trigger on her, he said only this to her: “Help me”. Yuki asks why she invited Haru to stay with them in the first place. She likes flowers and thinks Yuki needed some flowers too. When Haru arrived, he looked like a blooming flower. Yuki feels better and realizes things. He is going back to Enoshima because he can’t let flowers wilt. Joushi contacts Akira of his whereabouts and learns he failed to convince JF1. Akira wants a chance to fix this blunder as he is a skilled fisherman. Joushi reminds him of DUCK’s policies and will have him suspended for this nonsense. However Akira can’t do that because Enoshima has been entrusted to him. He may not be into DUCK’s policy of protecting and saving the Earth, but he has something equally as big as the planet he wants to save. That’s called friendship, right? Yuki boards the bus back to Enoshima. Though regretting he doubted Haru earlier, all he knows now is that he wants to see him.

Episode 10
Akira has been eluding the DUCK guys and it seems Joushi has given orders to be wary of him for he may have been brainwashed. Yuki tries to get a taxi back to Enoshima but none will take him since the news said that place is off limits. I guess his demon face did the trick for one. Though he has not enough cash, the taxi driver will take him as far as he can because you can’t buy friendship with money, can you? Yeah, they’ll last you an entire lifetime. It may be a distance away but the traffic is starting to crawl so Yuki gets out and run. Wow. I don’t know how far it is to Enoshima but I guess he can be a good marathon sprinter. Keep on running, Yuki! Akira knocks out some of the DUCK guards to see Natsuki and reveal his identity and what’s going on. Then with Heihachi, the expert explains about the legend and it seems even in the drawing too, the only way to calm the dragon’s rage was via fishing. Then meeting with the rest, they plan in fishing that big dragon out of the sea. Natsuki reconciles with his father, assures Sakura he’ll be back and accepts Mari to take care of her in his absence. But first they’ll need to get out of here. Easy. Misaki fakes she is going into labour so the panicky DUCK guys let her and the rest (in DUCK suits) to board the train. In the train, they further delegate their duties. Based on the legend, not just an ordinary fishing lure can be used. Akira remembers the one back in Heihachi’s shrine stuck in the dragon statue’s mouth. All that’s left is who to fish the dragon. Though they have many anglers here, he can’t just be an ordinary angler. Yup. Guess who the hero will be? Akira drives his truck and rams through the DUCK security to grab the lure in Heihachi’s shrine. That easy? I guess it must be the clumsy suits. Yuki arrives in Enoshima and meets Natsuki who becomes a decoy for him (Enoshima Dance?) so he can pass the DUCK guards to his house.

When Yuki finally comes face to face with Haru at his house, Haru becomes enraged because he thought he told him to leave Enoshima. He is quickly greeted with a slap. Yuki tells him off he didn’t say goodbye as promised and not to run off like that so Yuki explains it was getting dangerous here that’s why he had everyone whom he loves to leave. Yuki hears from his mouth about his goal here as an alien and the bait ball they saw underneath Akira’s boat then was one of their kind. Since they can’t fish, that’s why he thought Yuki could do it and thus this is what saving the world meant. Haru adds that he was too strong so he and Koko decided to lure him far away and save everyone from harm. Since they are fish, they baited ‘him’. Unfortunately Koko fell under his spell and became part of his horde. She might not come back. That’s why he sent everyone away from Enoshima so he could lure ‘him’ away this time. He has to hurry or he might fall into his control again. Now it’s Yuki’s turn to give his lecture on why he should rely on his friends and not go at it alone. More importantly, he wants to continue fishing with his friends. So he wants a chance to fish this one and save everyone as they promised to fish together. Haru feels better but is weaken from the lack of water (he used it to water all the flowers). However he can hold a bit longer because there is ‘water’ running down from his eyes. Natsuki heard everything and brings them back to everyone. Haru says that even if he manages to catch ‘him’, he may have to leave this planet. Once reunited with everyone, they are glad Haru is back with them and aren’t mad. DUCK has detected JFX’s presence so Joushi orders to prepare deployment of the missiles. The DUCK guys on the ship think they are safe as long as they are in the suits but suddenly, everyone starts dancing! One of them accidentally pushed the missile button and the ship fires the warhead into the shop at the harbour where Ayumi is getting the fishing rod. HOLY SH*********T!!!!!! Everyone is completely stunned.

Episode 11
Guess what? Thankfully Ayumi wasn’t directly hit by the missile and is still alive (and the rod is safe too). Misaki is so relieved that she hugs him. Well, this must be how heaven feels like. However he has some broken bones and is in no shape to drive his boat. Akira will do that. Since Yuki will be the one to fish, Ayumi makes Natsuki the group leader because he knows the ocean better than anyone else. They promise to return alive. But Haru wants to say goodbye because he’ll be leaving after they catch ‘him’. Ayumi hugs him and tells him to say that after they throw him his farewell party. Before the boys could get on the boat, Joushi and his DUCK members stop them. Joushi is still not amused Akira is going to fish JFX up since all their DUCK fleets have fallen under JFX’s control. Since Akira refuses, Joushi strips him of DUCK’s membership thinking he is under JF1’s spell. Like he cares. Akira gives the Duck guys a taste of his kung fu as Tapioca starts up the ship and the boys make their journey. Because the typhoon is coming closer, to avoid further casualties, Joushi has everyone evacuate. Tamocchan wants to stay behind for his son but Joushi says those are the wish of the boys who want to save Enoshima and also do not want them to be in danger. In the end he relents because he believes in him. Haru guides them close to JFX. They can’t go closer or else Haru will fall under his control. Yuki starts fishing and we catch a brief glimpse of JFX. Looks long like a dragon and all those fish swimming around it make it look like a swarm of bugs. However as Yuki tries and tries, he feels something is wrong because he knows something is there but it’s not biting the lure. Then he drops everything and goes into deep thinking mode. It hit him. He starts painting the lure red. If JFX is one of Haru’s kind, then he should be also be attracted by this colour which is Haru’s favourite. However he gets a little freaked out and puts on that demon face when he realizes the world is broadcasting their heroic feat. The world is watching! But he calms down after Natsuki says who cares if this is the focus of the world. They’re just fishing. Yuki throws the lure once more and JFX bites the bait. However this is one strong mother to pull out. Joushi contacts Akira to tell him the typhoon is his time limit. After that, he will order the deployment of anti-missiles at JFX’s position. Akira disagrees with his idea since a DUCK fleet is in the way and will kill their own comrades. Even so, this is to minimise further damage. What if their fleet fires another missile onto shore? But Akira is confident they will fish it out without further casualties. He goes to help Natsuki pull Yuki to reel in JFX. Haru is close to losing himself when the lure snaps and breaks into half. Oh dear. Then the dreaded thing happened. Before Haru completely loses himself, he tells Yuki he won’t bother him anymore and will lure ‘him’ away. He says goodbye to Yuki, much to his dismay. Meanwhile on land, more people and DUCK members are being affected by the Enoshima Dance.

Episode 12
Haru is saying his last goodbye speech but you know his friends won’t let him go. Joushi gets a call from his boss back at DUCK’s headquarters wondering when he will deploy the missiles. Joushi wants a little more time but time they have got not. Some sacrifices are inevitable and is he going to take responsibility if this incident becomes a worldwide phenomenon? In the case Joushi fails to conduct his role, 4 members of the council are also at Japan will act on his behalf. The boss will wait no longer than 3 minutes. Yuki thinks hard at all the lessons he learnt and what happened. Then he screams out he won’t let Haru wither. This causes Haru to snap out of JFX’s spell. Yuki throws away the broken lure and mentions about the legend whereby the goddess worked with her companion to fish the dragon. How did that goddess subdue the dragon? There were 2 goddesses in fact. One was watching over the fisherman and the other was the legendary lure. Since Haru and Koko knew nothing about fishing, then why where they sent here? This means Haru is the lure himself. As more casualties (in the form of Enoshima Dance) are increasing, Joushi warns Akira one last time to leave the area but Akira says to give more time because they have one more measure to try. Joushi can’t wait and presses the button. Akira hears from the guys how they want to stay and fish so he apologizes for doubting them. Haru then squirts his water gun over their faces (including Tapioca) to prevent them from being under JFX’s control for a limited time. Once they prepare Yuki as the lure, Yuki fishes him into the sea. JFX takes the bait and it’s a strong fight to reel it in. Suddenly Tapioca starts dancing. Uh oh. It’s a sign that water gun protection is running out. A dancing duck? Weird. Yuki is by himself now when Akira and Natsuki starts doing Enoshima Dance. With all his strength, Yuki pulls out JFX and instantly the dark skies disappear and everyone stops dancing. Hey, it’s raining fish! Akira reports JFX has been captured and Joushi says he has done his part in stopping the missiles. He merely adjusted the attack time. Because he believes in him…

Haru and Koko are reunited as the boys realize JFX is just a really small blue fish! Palm size! Man, for a little fish it sure put up a tough fight! You could say the fish is out of troubled waters. After Akira dries everybody, JFX transforms into his human form. He introduces himself as Urara and gets down on his knees to apologize. Well, all this wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t so naughty in the first place. Soon the aliens say goodbye to their human friends and they too equally bid them farewell before blasting off into space. First, unidentified organism that controls others via water contact and now, a UFO spaceship in the sky? Somebody call in the X-Files! Six months down the road, Heihachi draws on the scroll the boys as part of his new legend that calmed the dragon, Tamocchan didn’t renovate his store and maintains it as it is and experiences brisk business, Mari is a few months pregnant, Akira went to America to be a bass fishing pro, Akira fishing somewhere alone, Tapioca found the love of his life, Ayumi and Misaki got married but that guy is regretting it big time because Misaki has totally changed into a ferocious slave driver! Women are fearsome! Yuki and Erika end up in the same class again as he notes he may have not changed much. The teacher introduces 2 new transfer students. When Urara comes in, nobody reacts except Yuki. Seeing Urara a little shy, Yuki invites him to go fishing. But when Haru walks in, everyone reacts with astonishment because they know who this weird alien is. Yuki notes maybe he did change after all.

The Big Catch That Almost Got Away…
Well, it’s a nice end to this short series. In the end everybody continues to do what they love and pursue their dreams but it still bugs me why did Haru and especially Urara came back to Earth once more. I’m sure it’s the allure of Haru’s friends and that he wants to go fishing with them once more (the fishing rod was in his hand when he returned). But Natsuki and Akira are so far away so I guess he’ll have to make do with Yuki for now. But for Urara? He doesn’t really look that all threatening when he is a fish out of the water. So why did he come back? Whether he got his punishment and served his time for it back on his planet is a different matter. Maybe he has changed. Maybe he learnt his lesson. Maybe he just wanted some friends. Well, Yuki is the best person to start with. I just hope he won’t cause another disaster that will erupt the entire world into that infectious Enoshima Dance. Maybe that is why Haru is back with him too. To keep a watch on him so he doesn’t pull off that stunt that lasts for hundreds of years. Yeah, conveniently he was the reason why Bermuda Syndrome existed, eh? Maybe the answer to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance is linked to Urara. Haha! Hey! Come to think of it, didn’t Koko tag along back with them too? She did say she love the food at Enoshima.

Yuki as the main person is the one who underwent the most changes. From someone who was just afraid of starting a conversation with others, he easily breaks into one without sweat and is now a natural. It was really funny to his face turning into a demon. I mean, can someone really pull that off? I guess when Japanese want to throw those beans during the bean-throwing festival, Yuki can easily play the demon part. Haha! Initially he wasn’t too interested into fishing but after giving it a shot, he is now a pro, looks forward to it and has the knack and talent to come up with his own fishing strategies on the spot. Maybe I should give fishing a chance too, eh? Not! Just like Haru, he all he needed was a friend he can smile, laugh, fight and share things. It’s a good thing that they’ve met because they needed each other for help, support and changed for the better. Another odd thing about Yuki is that when he thinks deep, we see a scene that is like a roll of film rapidly rolling with scenes of past events. I thought this was a prerequisite for him to unleash some latent super power. I guess I was wrong. Maybe it just makes him think clearer and better. Akira is another changed dude. At first he was a loner, sceptic of the boys and only true to his duty. But the longer he stays and observes them, he realizes what is more important. You can’t replace friendship like you can replace your job and position. I’m not sure what his relationship is with Tapioca and I guess it’s just his faithful pet but the funny thing about them is that Akira understands every quack this duck makes! Maybe Akira previously had no real friends so he turns to ducks for company. At one point I thought Tapioca may be an alien too! Because this duck has got brains and not just one waiting to be slaughtered to be roasted over the fire. That won’t ever happen! I just wonder how Haru and Koko got over their fear of Tapioca. I thought they were really scared of that duck and the Indian guy but one day all that fear just vanished like it never occurred in the first place and they’re already best of friends. Natsuki is okay. Just that he had trouble accepting his new mom and filled with angst with his dad and despite being dubbed the Fishing Prince, he is initially a distant person. What’s the use of being a pro at something when you don’t share or teach others? Once he gets over that, he won’t hesitate and is definitely better than his grumpy self. Haru as an alien doesn’t understand human emotions so it’s really funny when you see him trying to understand the way we humans think. Even the way he talks is like as though he is a carefree person always putting up a smile. That’s good, right? At times he may get lost on what to do but that’s why he has his friends to support and encourage as they go along.

The coolest character of this series has got to be Keito. I don’t believe I have ever seen her angry. I have this feeling that she doesn’t even know how to get mad. That’s not human! Like as though she’s an alien? She is the best person to speak to if you have any troubles bothering you. She says the nicest things and gives you advice. Which kid wouldn’t love to have this old lady as their grandma? The way she speaks is quite dreamy and it always gives off that happy feel. Even when those DUCK guys come invading, she didn’t panic but remained calm and cool. Ayumi as the cool boat captain probably is the only one worst off in the end as compared to the rest. Yeah, you know what they say when a man marries a woman because she won’t change and a woman marries a man because she believes he will change. The opposite is often true, no? So why the sudden change in Misaki’s behaviour after marriage? Maybe she’s an alien? Nah! That’s very human-like. Tamocchan is also a good father and doesn’t want to impose on his son too much. But I guess when you have kids with raging hormones at their age, there’s nothing much you can do about it until a big event like this happens for father and son to reconcile. While Sakura is the cute and adorable caring sister caught in between her father and brother’s spat, I thought Erika’s role was rather redundant. I mean, she wasn’t really featured much and easily forgotten if she didn’t tag along often. I thought she could even turn out to be an alien. I’m not sure if Joushi is some sort of a drag queen but he too was like Akira, just focusing on his job and not really trusting of aliens. So when it’s his turn to feel the pressure from the higher ups, he starts to realize that Akira wasn’t lying all along and the all important trust plays its part for him to leave it to his precious subordinate to get the job done when no one else can. And I thought DUCK was going to be a rival alien hidden as a spy organization. What’s with me suspecting almost everybody as aliens?! Getting alien paranoid. Besides Tapioca, the other cute mascot of the series is the fat cat of Misaki’s store whom she calls Tenchou (literally means store owner). It was first funny to see Tapioca and Tenchou face off. But I guess we won’t know who’ll ever win in a fight between a duck and a cat.

The drawing and art of the characters may seem simple but the hues of the scenery and background can sometimes be colourful. For instance, the sea is always filled with that ‘shiny pearl’. I’m not sure how to explain it but I guess when the sun is shines on the surface of the ocean, it reflects the mini organisms like planktons and such. Despite Akira and his DUCK members wearing a turban, it doesn’t really feel that they come from India. Heck, most don’t look like Indians. From the way I look at it, as long as you just wrap a cloth over your head, there’s a big chance that you can be considered to be one. I mean if Haru, Yuki or Natsuki wears a turban, I think they’ll fit in. DUCK as an alien organization, I can’t help think that they look like a bunch of clowns. Firstly, their funny looking bright containment suit that will have kids thinking it’s some mascot parade. Secondly, their organization’s salute which is cross-hugging their arms with a DUCK card in hand. It makes me go WTF. I thought they were trying to be Ultraman. The opening theme is Tsurezure Monochrome by FUJIFABRIC. Though this rock pop isn’t appealing to me, but the amusing thing about this opening animation credits is the Enoshima Dance that everyone is doing! See how infectious it is? I bet even without any alien interfering, the dance is contagious enough for all the casts to do those hand movements (I would rate this to be on par if not slightly above Nisemonogatari’s Platinum Disco’s opening hand dance by Tsukihi – at least Enoshima Dance had more movement variety). But it may not be catchy enough for viewers to follow and imitate like the popular Hare Hare Yukai from Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu. The ending theme is Sora Mo Toberu Hazu by Sayonara Ponytail. It is a slow-moderate ballad that gives off a calm feeling. I guess this is what fishing should be about.

There are some issues that I am pondering about. Like the reason why Natsuki once wasn’t confident enough to catch the black bass at Enoshima. Why or how it end up like that or what its implication means is anybody’s guess. Probably some sort of fear pertaining to that has made Natsuki hesitant to move forward. I also what happened to Yuki’s parents. I presumed they aren’t in this world anymore from the things he said. So I suppose he must have been a loner for a very long time assuming his parents has passed on for a very long time so grandma is his the only family member he has got. What is Keito’s job that requires them to move from places to places? If assuming Urara was the one responsible for all the Bermuda Syndromes that happened on Earth, why did it took a long time for Haru and Koko to be sent by whoever from their planet to retrieve Urara? Distance between the galaxy? But the aliens did return in 6 months, right? But 100 years from the previous meeting? Heck, it was kind of those aliens to perhaps notice how Urara has been troubling humans by disappearing planes and ships and to send the legendary lures to us. A hundred years later. Did Haru and Koko know they are the legendary lures then? So why did Urara only recently moved to endanger lives of people living on the land supposedly he has been carrying out his pranks in the deep ocean? How sure is Haru that Urara will stay in the ocean and not come back close to Enoshima if he successfully lures him away? Then when Urara had increasing control over the people of Enoshima, what constitutes some of them to do the Enoshima Dance? Because if DUCK’s containment suit which is so air-tight and water proof can have the wearer falling under his control, then how come our heroes and their family and friends didn’t really fall under his spell? I mean the boys were the closest to Urara so even if Haru had eventually sprayed some of his water gun on them, shouldn’t they have already been under control prior to it since some of the residents as far as back as the land have already been affected? Maybe only those strong in the heart can resist it? After all about 70% of the Earth is covered with water and our body averaging 75% Why Haru’s water gun had no hypnotizing effect on the guys in the end still boggles me. Was it some special water he used? Or maybe the power of friendship dispelled all that.

Despite some of the basic fishing terms and principles as demonstrated in this anime, it’s good they didn’t really turn and overwhelm the show into a fishing documentary because the main driven focus is the friendship cultivated among the boys. It is like as though their meeting and being brought together was by fate instead of coincidence. For good or bad, I think I’m not taking up fishing as an interest anytime soon or for the foreseeable future. I think I’ll even lose to a goldfish if I ever tried my hands at fishing. The only fishing that I’ll be sticking to is the one using cards. However I have been thinking that if there is an alien life form that could really control you by the mere touch of water and make you do the Enoshima Dance, I guess that isn’t so bad, right? I mean, you see happy people dancing everywhere. No more sadness, nobody fighting. World peace if I should say! That’s why sometimes when I think from this perspective, Urara may be trying to bring humans together. You don’t see them kill each other, right? Maybe the only danger is that everybody is so happy dancing that they are oblivious of their surroundings and may hurt others without knowing (like that speeding boat incident as seen in one of the episodes). So how is this a threat? Yeah, if that really ever happens, I don’t really mind doing the Enoshima Dance mindlessly too. But if I could wish, perhaps make me do the break dance, hip hop, tap dancing, Cossack or Moonwalk. I’ve always wanted to do those moves. And especially those impossible dance moves in the ending credits of Kill Me Baby. Imagine if everybody suddenly got up and do the Macarena. Sounds like a flash mob? Hmm… Sounds fishy to me. “Haino, haino…” *Starts doing Enoshima Dance*

Bakuman S2

November 24, 2012

They’re still at it. I guess it’s really going to be a long road in achieving their dreams of having their manga being adapted into anime. Which mangaka doesn’t dream of this ultimate dream in life? The second season, Bakuman S2 continues to follow the footsteps of the young and upcoming high school mangaka, Ashirogi Muto made up of the duo Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi. They’re aiming for serialization in hopes of not only turning their manga into an anime but if they are successful in doing so, Mashiro will have the girl of his dreams, Miho Azuki‘s hand in marriage. Seems like a simple plan, right? Well, if only the road and life of a mangaka was that simple.

After watching the first season, I was excited to go watch the second season so much so I had a little cooling off period to calm down the excitement (thus why this blog is so late and way after the sequel has ended). But just knowing the tough and hectic life of a mangaka sure instilled a new kind of fear in me. I never knew it would be that daunting to be a mangaka. I mean, I know it’s tough but I didn’t really think it was thaaaaaaaaaaaaat tough. As the second season takes off exactly where the first left off, even after their detective manga Gitantei Trap (TRAP) got serialized, we’ll see more trials and tribulations from Ashirogi as they try to grasps their dream oh so close within their reach. Of course in their pursuit of that, there’s going to be a strain in health and testing of relationships. Ah, stories in mangas always sound and look so much easier.

Episode 1
At the end of last season’s cliff-hanger, Hattori drops the bombshell that Gorou Miura will be their new editor. Of course the duo are surprised by this decision but will have to accept it. Miura on the other hand may be a newbie but you sometimes wonder where he gets his confidence and positivism. It’s good to have that but seriously, too positive that it seems unreal. So first thing to put in order is to sign up a contract. As TRAP has been serialized, they need assistants and Miura suggests a pro by the name of Naoto Ogawa. Of course talking about the monetary part it seems tempting but I guess that’s the reward of all the hard work being a mangaka. Next Miura plans their schedule and deadlines of submitting in their works and they also talk about the new rising star, Kazuya Hiramaru. His genius level is said to be rivalled of Eiji Niizuma. He quit his day job just to draw manga. Of course they shouldn’t worry too much about him and think about their own work. Miura also wants them to attend the New Year’s party whereby all serialized manga authors attend. Later Miura introduces Ashirogi to chief assistant Ogawa and his other assistants, Natsumi Katou and Shoyo Takahama. They witness the professionalism in Ogawa as he makes his observations and quickly settles in by delegating tasks to the rest. On the night of the party, Ashirogi gets the taste of life as a serialized mangaka. There is in a chauffeur to pick them up! At the lavish party, they meet rival Niizuma and also Hiramaru. However to their surprise, Hiramaru regrets being a mangaka and wants to quit! He got inspired at the moment and now he’s trapped with lots of hard work. He thinks he should’ve been born as a panda in a zoo! His author Yoshida has a knack of persuading him to ‘cool off’ and takes him away before he puts in more weird ideas to Ashirogi and demoralizes them. The party gets underway and Takagi wins a TV in a lucky draw. Ashirogi is introduced to Kazuhiko Torishima, a member of Jump’s board of directors. He knows Mashiro’s uncle and regrets the way things backfired on him. However Mashiro says he’d like to do things his uncle couldn’t do (make a living off manga) and the things he left undone (getting first place in surveys). Noting that mangakas want to have both first place and a long serialization, Torishima sees potential in them.

Episode 2
There’s trouble brewing on Azuki’s side. Due to the success of the anime Sei Visual, there is going to be a photo book of the seiyuus of the characters. Something Azuki doesn’t want to do but her manager is trying to force her to change her mind. Despite her lousy singing, she still manages to get offers like this. She needs time to think. Ashirogi is going full steam with their serialization with their assistants. Miyoshi is introduced to them and also helps out. On another meeting with Miura, he wants them to do 2 different storyboards and revise their storyline for chapter 4 for the committee. Working late one night, Mashiro is left with Takahama. The latter feels Ogawa and Katou are wasting their time being assistants. Being mangakas they should’ve dream big and take their skills to the next level instead of being satisfied as assistants. That’s why he wants to work hard and achieve his dream. Mashiro learns about Azuki’s dilemma. Should she or should she not? He texts her that it’s up to her to decide and she cheekily replies if she’s going to do it, she’d want him to see her naked before then! Is this a joke? He tries calling her but her heart is so confused that she didn’t pick up. News of Azuki’s strange behaviour reaches Takagi and Miyoshi. Mashiro rushes to her place. Takagi calls Azuki’s household and her mom Miyuki picks up. She makes Azuki take the call as Takagi tells her Mashiro is on his way to her house. Because of that, he is ignoring the manuscript he has to draw. Azuki calls Mashiro to apologize that she doesn’t want him to stop drawing manga because of her. As for the photo book, she asks if he would be happy if she had taken up the offer regardless it affects her career or not. His answer? He only wants to see her all for himself and nobody else! She feels better now and from now on should talk about things. Mashiro returns to draw his manuscript and they await the results of their first serialization.

Episode 3
TRAP got third place but Ashirogi isn’t thrilled. They were expecting first and that spot went to Otter 11 (of Hiramaru). Of course Mashiro is now worried how much they will fall now. I mean it’s going to be hard to maintain that position what more get higher. Meanwhile, I thought I won’t see that annoying KOOGY anymore but it seems he’s back and is going to team up with Aoki. Aida wanted her to polish up her story for Hideout Door but she’s inflexible and not willing to change so that’s why the editor from another magazine, Jack SQ invited her to come over to his magazine. It’s panic bells ringing for Nakai. He is so desperate that he tries to convince Aoki that he’ll polish up his art no matter what (without sleep included) to make her accept him. This means camping out outside the park next to her house and continuing to draw right into the dark hours of the night. In the cold. Ashirogi get wind of this and can’t help feel worried. Fukuda has been observing him but Nakai is too stubborn to change his mind. Not even Aoki could do that. She wants him to stop but he is persistent in drawing the kind of art she’ll be satisfied with. Despite getting bullied by park punks, Nakai doesn’t give up and struggles in the wintery cold. When his work is done, Aoki is amazed he could draw something so perfect despite the chilling conditions. This continues for several nights and it starts to snow. At this rate Nakai will die so Mashiro convinces Fukuda to go change his mind. How? He’s part of the Fukuda Group. Well, first attempt by Fukuda didn’t work so he leaves to get Ashirogi. Next persuasion comes in the form of Aoki. She extends an umbrella for him. She says his art isn’t bad. It’s just that she didn’t want to admit and ran away. She’ll write a story worthy of his art. She invites him in to warm himself up. Are you sure about that? Even if it’s just an invitation as a working partner? With this problem solved, the partnership with KOOGY is called off. But there’s another issue brewing. The second chapter for TRAP gets eighth place.

Episode 4
Third chapter gets ninth place. If this doesn’t ring any alarm bells, then what would? However Miura continues to be cheery positive despite Ashirogi worrying about the dipping trend. Takahama advises that they shouldn’t listen to Miura too much. Miura is also Takahama’s editor and when he submitted 3 manuscripts, he didn’t win any prize despite Miura being confident he would. Hiramaru is at Niizuma’s place. He has run away from his work and barged into another mangaka’s work place to complain? Yeah well, Yoshida knows very well where he is and drags him back. While it is good news for Hideout Door and Fukuda’s Kiyoshi Knight as both will be getting serialized, Ashirogi can’t worry that one of the popular serialized manga, Baked Cheesed will be dropped. They remember Miura telling them despite its 12th placing it won’t be axed. And now look what happened. So they call Miura for another meeting and Takagi wants to redo the storyboard. Naturally he is worried that at this rate TRAP will get cancelled too and because he isn’t confident, he got stepped over by all the other editors giving their own views. Till assistant editor in chief Heishi puts hit foot down. Miura meets Ashirogi and he doesn’t want them to change their storyboard. He warns he has seen many people failed because they rush in and paid too much attention to their ranking. In the end, Mashiro agrees with Miura and believes in Takagi’s stories. He also thought he was desperate and if he’s that, they’ll lose. In the end, they decide to stick to their current style instead of taking the easy way out and turning it into a battle manga since if they’re going to gamble on TRAP, he’d rather do it with their style till the end and gather fans and let them know there is a genuine mystery genre in Jack.

Episode 5
Ashirogi are third year high school seniors now. TRAP has improved a spot to 12th from their previous ranking. Comparing TRAP to Otter 11, TRAP is wordier so Takagi thought of putting in jokes and does research on comedy. Yeah, Miura had the same idea too and brings lots of comedy materials for them. They implement them and their ranking steadily rose week after week as high as sixth place. Miura shows them bags of fan letters ever since their serialization. Some love their work and others had ideas of what they should put in. TRAP’s chapter 11’s early ranking came in seventh and Nakai persuades Aoki to change her storyboard for her next chapter because he feels the fans may get tired of the dense dialogue. She agrees as she finds him trustworthy. Azuki gets another minor role in the anime Sket Dance (there’s a mini cross-over in that show too) and this gives Mashiro the much needed booster to carry on. Final results of the ranking show TRAP and Niizuma’s Crow tied at third place while Hideout Door massively jumps to eighth (Kiyoshi Knight in sixth). Ashirogi is overjoyed when Miura says he got them a front page colour spread for the 20th chapter. The guys are excited as this is their chance to surpass Crow. Once more, Hiramaru runs away from his work and ends up at Ashirogi’s place. Complaining. Till Yoshida rings the doorbell. So how does that guy motivate this lazy bum to work? He’ll take him to a place with cute girls if he submits his manuscript. So easily bought over. Rankings for TRAP’s next chapter fell to sixth while Crow maintains a steady third. Takahama and Katou arrive early at Mashiro’s work place but to their horror see Mashiro unconscious on the floor! Is history repeating itself? IS HE DEAD?! Thankfully he is still breathing but he’s not waking up.

Episode 6
Mashiro is rushed to hospital. Miura and Hattori also come rushing. They see Mashiro’s mother, Kayoko and deeply apologize for what has happened. From the doctor’s diagnosis, Mashiro needs to remove a liver and needs plenty of rest. Plus he’ll be hospitalized for 3 months. However Mashiro can’t rest now and wants to continue working on his colour spread since he can’t pass this chance up. The editors start talking about the time he needs to finish and the number of assistants to finish it so Kayoko chides them off that her son isn’t a manga drawing robot! Late that night, Mashiro sneaks out to call Takagi to bring the manuscript because he’ll be drawing at hospital and won’t wait till he is discharged. Since he’ll undergo surgery, that will only be 1 day. Takagi is of course in a dilemma because too wants to continue the serialization but by doing so, Mashiro’s health will be further jeopardized. Sasaki thinks of putting TRAP on hiatus and wants Miura to monitor Mashiro. Azuki gets word of this and visits Mashiro albeit they’re talking from outside the room. She wants him to stop drawing until he is discharged or else she will hate him. If by all means, then go ahead. Azuki thought it’s unfair because he said that knowing well she can’t hate him. Azuki confesses she has been in love for him for 8 years. She saw his drawing on display at a cultural festival and when she first laid eyes on him, that’s when it started. Azuki asks if he values manga more than him. Since she puts it that way, he answers straight that it’s the manga. Mashiro calls Takagi to tell he is really all fired up. Takagi notes how his plan to send Azuki to stop him didn’t work so he too gets motivated and will bring the manuscript to him. Ashirogi colours his page and Niizuma drops by. Seeing he is alright, he leaves as fast as he came. Miura learns Mashiro is drawing in hospital and rushes there to stop him. Mashiro is adamant to continue when the pain starts kicking in. Mashiro feels he can continue despite struggling. Azuki sees his determination and helps pick up the pen for him to continue. If Takagi wanted him to stop, he shouldn’t have brought the manuscript here in the first place. Miura doesn’t have the heart to tell him to stop.

Episode 7
Though Miura tells them the editorial department has planned to put them on hiatus, he’ll try to convince them that Mashiro can still draw in hospital. Miura tells Sasaki and isn’t pleased so he himself heads down to hear from the doctor if Mashiro is fit to draw. As long as it’s in moderation. How vague. Sasaki also meets Kayoko and he assures her harm will not come to him. Hiramaru is trying to make another excuse to avoid work by visiting Mashiro in hospital. He is saddened that it wasn’t him who got hospitalized. Yeah, if he worked as hard as Mashiro then maybe. So he gets the permission to visit Mashiro but is taken aback by Azuki’s beauty. He trying to flirt with her? Fukuda is also there. Then Sasaki and Miura come in to tell them that after much discussion, TRAP will be put on hiatus till April, after Ashirogi graduates from high school. Of course the rest aren’t happy because it’ll be too long a period. Sasaki made this decision because Tarou Kawaguchi is his uncle and died from it. Mashiro disagrees his death has nothing to do with this so Sasaki adds his mom wants him to stop manga completely since nobody wants to lose their family. Mashiro wants to continue but even if he gets better, the hiatus will still be until April. He may sound contradicting but after Niizuma’s genius case, they’ll refrain from making such decisions pertaining high school kids. Mashiro will drop out of school just to continue. Will his parents be happy? He doesn’t live for them. Sasaki stands by his decision for TRAP to be on hiatus till April. Hiramaru didn’t like this lame excuse he got to be on hiatus because he is Tarou Kawaguchi’s relative and leaves to continue his drawing. Fukuda won’t accept this too and talks to Niizuma about this. He won’t draw for Jack until the hiatus is lifted. Niizuma thinks of doing the same too. Thinking of a boycott, they call over Hiramaru, Nakai and Aoki to do a boycott. If it doesn’t work, they’ll just pay off the termination fee and draw for another magazine. Aoki agrees to do so and obviously Hiramaru is in it because he doesn’t have to work anymore… Yuujirou gets mail from Niizuma about their boycott and arranges for a secret meeting with all their editors.

Episode 8
At the diner, Fukuda and co are sticking to their guns about the boycott. Knowing Ashirogi will feel guilty that their actions caused them to go on a hiatus too, that’s why they will not tell him about this. They are willing to risk cancellation of their serialization. Since talking to the editors won’t do much, Fukuda thinks of talking to the chief directly. The editors will do that but they must continue drawing their manuscript. So Aida and Yoshida talk to Sasaki about the boycott but he just tells them it is their job to make sure the authors submit their work. TRAP’s hiatus is already a settled matter. Hattori negotiates to at least make the hiatus till Mashiro gets better to convince the rest. Mashiro undergoes surgery and it is a success. Miura visits and brought them presents in the form of TRAP’s very own manga. But as Ashirogi read the next issue of Jack, they are puzzled to find several of the other serialized works going on hiatus too. Miura tells them what’s happening so of course they are surprised. He advises them to take a hiatus until Mashiro is discharged. If he does that, it will stop Fukuda and the rest from the boycott because they’re the most upset when they learn about their hiatus. Streams of calls from fans start coming into Jack’s office about the hiatus of the several titles. This will be problematic if this continues week after week. The editors’ head will be on the line too. So Mashiro is okay with his hiatus but as for convincing Sasaki, it won’t be easy. While the editor in chief is still deciding, the rest continue their work and Miura notices major improvement in Mashiro’s drawing. Mashiro is finally discharged from hospital. Miura tries to convince Sasaki he has been drawing manuscripts in hospital and this shows his resolve. Sasaki wants him to consider what if the scenario turns out the opposite. Mashiro tells him he refused to let anyone stop him and remembered his uncle’s words about being serialized. Once you get there, it’s about conceit, effort and luck. After that it is physical strength, emotional strength and guts. And so Sasaki overturns his earlier decision and will continue TRAP as soon as possible with their colour spread. Hattori is so happy they tried their best that he hugs them.

Episode 9
With a little party celebrating Mashiro’s return, Takahama shows them his manuscript of Business Boy Kenichi in which Miura suggests to submit for the monthly contest. Ashirogi meets Miura and the latter tells them another detective title called Detective Gosuke Akechi AKA Cheater is slated to debut because TRAP was supposed to be on hiatus. Due to TRAP’s popularity, you can say currently there is a boom in the detective genre. Miura gives them more fan letters which came in during Mashiro’s hospitalization. Crow is given an anime adaptation while TRAP finds its ranking drop drastically because the votes went to Cheater. Of course with their rankings getting lower, they’re close to be candidates for the drop. Ashirogi doesn’t want TRAP to end and thought of looking through fan letters for ideas. Fukuda calls Niizuma about TRAP and Hideout Door in danger of receiving the chop but Niizuma is not worried. If it was unjust cancellation then he would but now it’s about survival of the fittest. Aida meets with Aoki and Nakai in hopes she could change her story to save Hideout Door. Being the stubborn girl she is, she agrees to only if they credit themselves for it. Miura reads Ashirogi’s latest manuscript and is not impressed because they’ve been using fans’ ideas. At this rate it will be a manga of the fans and not Ashirogi’s. Later Ashirogi meets Hiramaru driving a cool sports car. They realized he has been tricked by Yoshida to spend more so that he can’t get out of drawing manga. Hiramaru panics and even lies Otter 11 is going to have an anime adaptation. TRAP continues to drop to 17th and at the same time Takahama’s Kenichi makes his debut. On the next meeting for termination it is decided that Hideout Door and TRAP will be cancelled. Ashirogi receives the shocking news and will have only 5 weeks before termination. As much as they dread, they’ll have to think of a way to wrap up their story. Nakai lets Aoki know about this and hopes he could draw his own ending which might lead to her next big story. But she’s thinking of going back to shoujo manga after this completion. Another newbie editor, Masakazu Yamahisa gets permission from Aida to be Aoki’s editor and vows to bring her back. Ashirogi feels nostalgic to wrap up their title. Mashiro gets a much motivated SMS from Azuki that she wants to get married to him by 40. He gets fired up to do their next title. He can’t make her wait that long, can’t he?

Episode 10
Ashirogi has no idea what to draw next so they meet up with Miura. He suggests they should try a gag manga. Takagi thought he may try his hand at comedy but Mashiro has his doubts. He feels it’s better to try a one-shot with potential for serialization. He thinks Miura is no good. They seek Hattori’s advice but since it’s not good to talk behind his back, all he can say is it’s okay to disagree with their editor. Mashiro and Takagi have different opinions about doing gag manga so Takagi calls Niizuma for his. He wants to read a harsh story by them. They have this feeling Miura is wrong and will fight against him. Meanwhile Nakai is disheartened that Aoki don’t want to write for Jack anymore. She commends his artwork but wonders why he is so fixated on her. He admits it’s because he loves her! But she says he respects him as a manga artist not as a man. Heartbreak! Soon Aoki gets a call from Yamahisa as her new editor persuading her to do a love story for Jack. As long it has 3 panty shots a week. WTF?! Well, it made her stay in Jack. Ashirogi tells Miura that they aren’t suited for gag manga but he still insists they should do one. Takagi will create 2 works then. A serious one and a gag. Takagi comes out with the sci-fi Two Of Me and the action Hitman 10. The former may seem like a gag and the latter serious but in fact, it’s the opposite. So when they show it to Miura, he views both of them great but wants to serialize Hitman 10. Something Ashirogi wasn’t hoping for because they were betting on Two Of Me. Then Miura learns they also submitted a secret third work for the monthly competition. If they’re going to fight Miura, they might as well go all out. Plus, Niizuma is one of the judging panels for this contest. Ashirogi insists they don’t want the prize. They just want to be judged. They get into an argument so Hattori steps in. Miura will take their one-shot for submission and if this ends up in the magazine and goes on to become serialized, he’ll quit being an editor. Yoshida agrees to take this one-shot for submission but lays down several conditions.

Episode 11
Niizuma is surprised by Ashirogi’s one-shot submission, Future Watch and perhaps he’s a little bias to think it’ll be the best. But it’s true because as compared to them, the other works are below average. Niizuma gets the idea about serialization as it begins by dragging down a popular manga and taking its place. Ashirogi still hasn’t forgotten about their goal to best Niizuma. Ashirogi are walking around their school before the entrance ceremony. Miyoshi brings them to an Anime and Manga Research Society. So? Remember Ishizawa? Well, he’s in this club bragging about being a professional mangaka serialized in some magazine. Better avoid this dude as much as possible. The editors have their meeting and Miura calls Takagi that Sasaki has came out with an unprecedented decision. TEN (the name Hitman 10 was renamed to) will be submitted as a one-shot followed by Future Watch in the next issue. This is to let readers decide if Ashirogi goes serious or comedy. Takahama calls Ashirogi to thank them for everything because his manga finally got serialized. On another meeting with Miura, seems both one-shots by Ashirogi are well liked. They also realize their one-shots will be running against new serialized series and it seems the editor in chief wants to see how they fare against the new titles. So Miura has them rework TEN into a one-shot. Meanwhile Nakai is reeling over his ‘loss’ of Aoki. Since Takahama is serialized, he’ll need a couple of assistants. One of them being Nakai and the other is Katou. Guess what? Nakai’s broken heart is suddenly mended when he lays his eyes on Katou! New love? So fast! Mashiro doesn’t think TEN will fare well with the kind of humour Takagi puts in. But surprisingly Miura is laughing his head off! However they’re still putting their money on Future Watch. A week later and the results are TEN comes in at, well, tenth. A double digit. Not what they had in mind. Mashiro is convinced Takagi is not suited for gag manga. Then they get a call from Takahama. He is devastated he got sixth. That’s not too bad but during the competition, he got 2nd and thinks Miura has ruined it all by suggesting his kind of jokes. The point is, he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to them and to go with their own style and not follow him. A week later the results came in and Future Watch ranks 9th.

Episode 12
Miura heard from his fellow editors that putting in jokes was the right decision. So he decides to do research on past gag mangas and their stability compared to serious ones. Aoki meets with Yamahisa to discuss about her love story which is written from a girl’s point of view. He wants her to write it from a boy’s point. He asks if she had personally gone through such relationships. Not going into too much detail, she says she has her fair share. Seeing she needs to write from a man’s view he suggests to give his opinion. I think she’ll pass. Aoki gives much thought about it and thoughts of Nakai flashes through her mind. Speaking of that guy, he’s trying to hook up with Katou. In another meeting, Ashirogi submits their storyboard for Future Watch but Miura says he’ll go ahead with TEN’s serialization. They are not happy as this is not what they agreed on. He then shows them about data of gag mangas that will fare better. Mashiro still wants to do Future Watch but Takagi looks at the data and thinks TEN may work out. The argument escalates so much so Miura says he can work on changing his art or Takagi get someone else to draw for him. This hit a raw nerve so Takagi leaves and can’t deal with this guy anymore. Because it’s like asking them to split up. Aoki is walking into her university and ponders about directly asking a man’s opinion on the subject of love. Nakai? That will be too bias. Yamahisa? Not possible. Fukuda? Too humiliating. She is snapped out from her thoughts when Iwase (look who’s back after a long absence) asks her why she chose to do manga. Iwase she has been writing novels under the pen name Aiko Akina and Green Graduation is her most successful one. Aoki has read that book and asks if her romance was based on past experience. No. It was all fiction. As for her question on why manga, it’s because she loves manga. Miura realizes he is wrong and Hattori advises he got apologize quickly. Ashirogi gets tons of boxes of gag materials from Miura. Some even with his own stupid joke comments! Yeah, he’s a big joke himself. Then Miura pops up and goes on his knees to apologize. Ashirogi lets the past slip and they feel it’s okay to try a gag manga now.

Episode 13
Ashirogi lays out a couple of conditions. They don’t want to do TEN and will try a new one-shot and to be aimed at kids. Miura suggests they do this in NEXT. Yes, that tri-annual magazine they debuted in. Though it’s for newbies, they’re looking for someone to do a featured one-shot which will get a colour page. If it gets first place, it’ll lead to serialization. So they discuss the kind of characters they’ll have. An animal? I guess the best place to seek such inspiration is at the zoo, huh? Takagi coincidentally meets Aoki there. They both let each other know about the trouble they are facing in their work. Takagi suggests they could help each other out in understanding the opposite gender better. So thus began their midnight rendezvous in exchanging manga ideas and their own opinions. Takagi even lets her know about Mashiro and Azuki’s odd proposal. Aoki enjoyed her time talking to Takagi that from what I can see, she’s starting to like him! Takagi gets an idea for their next work. Protagonist is an elementary kid and his grandpa is an inventor. Grandpa likes his grandsons’ teacher and invents sorts of inventions that usually goes wrong. Elsewhere Iwase meets up and wants to talk with Aoki. Asking if she is familiar with Takagi, Iwase explains they were once in the same class and she was rejected by him. Seeing them work so hard makes her feel she has to acknowledge manga. To her, literature is more cultured than manga. Aoki realizes she still has feelings for Takagi. Actually Iwase wants to see Takagi for who she is now but is too humiliated to go by herself (some pride thingy) and thought Aoki would accompany her.

Takagi gets a shock when he hears Aoki calling to ask if he wants to see her panties! Actually what she meant was a girl’s. It’s for her work. Don’t get funny ideas or jump ahead. Once more they exchange useful ideas. So happen Miyoshi has been trying to call Takagi at this hour and couldn’t get through. Why so long on the phone? Aoki wants to meet Takagi at the zoo. This is a setup for Iwase to meet him. I’m sure he didn’t count on that. Iwase hands him her book and notes she has read all his manga works and tries to convince him he is capable of writing novel material instead of manga. Takagi will continue with manga and Aoki agrees that both novels and mangas have the ability to entertain people. That is what’s important. Iwase challenges him that she will write manga too because she wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with him. Takagi compliments her achievement so Iwase brings up the topic of him still dating Miyoshi (which is news to Aoki). Iwase thinks he is lying because although he said she is a thousand times better than Miyoshi, he should date her but he couldn’t. Takagi lets Mashiro know about this when they get a call from Takahama. He heard they’re going to do a gag manga and advises them not to. However they say this is what they feel like doing now so he gives them their blessings. He also tells them about Nakai and Katou. Miura likes the work for Tanto (Ashirogi’s new one-shot title) and wants to have a meeting with Ashirogi now. Their place is in a mess so they give the keys to Miyoshi to help with the clean up. While cleaning up, she sees the Green Graduation book. Inside is a letter from Iwase addressed to Takagi about her true feelings for him. This news hurt her heart as she leaves the place.

Episode 14
Miyoshi talks to Azuki about this but she wants to wait till they finish their work before confronting them. Can she hold out that long? Miura goes over the manuscript of Tanto with the duo. He thinks the main protagonist needs a unique feature that makes him stand out. Elsewhere Yamahisa discusses with Yoshida about Aoki’s storyboard. Seems it is pretty good but they think it’s better for her to draw the characters and her assistant to draw the background and panty shots. Yamahisa calls Aoki to suggest letting somebody handle the panty shots if she still opposes to draw them. Wait. Man or woman? Yamahisa knows a guy who is great in drawing this. Aoki rejects that seeing she can’t trust a guy whose specialty is such. Haha! Right on! That night Takagi calls her to ask for her opinion about boys flipping girls’ skirt. She hoped the conversation would last longer and probably tries to dismiss that she likes him. Miura and Yamahisa are in a challenge to see whose manga will rank higher. Takagi realizes he hasn’t called Miyoshi lately and when he does, he panics upon knowing she knows his meeting with Iwase! Trouble is brewing. They can’t have time to ponder how she knows about it and concentrate on their work since Aoki will be their main rival in NEXT. When the issue comes out, they see something disturbingly familiar. Aoki’s love story, Time Of Blue Leaves is somewhat a duplicate of Mashiro’s real life weird proposal to Azuki! OH SH*T!!! Doesn’t that PE teacher look like Nakai too? Big trouble. Fukuda saw this and calls Nakai. But he doesn’t care or shows the slight interest. Fukuda notes how Aoki will be wasted on him. Niizuma has also read this and thinks they’re suited better for a story manga. Though it’s good, he hopes they won’t become jack of all trades but master of none. And Hiramaru, he gets tricked yet again to continue drawing manga because Yoshida promises to introduce him to a real hot babe. Azuki calls Takagi about what happened. Since Mashiro is here, he passes the line to her and wants him to explain what’s going on. Seems they didn’t know about the letter in the book and that the meeting was just a coincidence. Azuki doesn’t want them hiding anything but Mashiro insists he is not. Since it’s come down to this, Azuki can’t trust him and hangs up. Did she just dump him?

Episode 15
Mashiro calls again to apologize but since he can’t tell about Takagi, their argument escalates for the worse. Takagi feels guilty that Mashiro and Azuki may break up because of him. Takagi decides to call Aoki to clear the misunderstanding but since she’s praising how much she enjoys talking to him and the only man she trusts, he couldn’t have the heart to say it. Mashiro and Azuki are both equally stubborn not to give in and Miyoshi also feels guilty that it’s her fault that it led to this. On to serious stuff, for the first time in their lives, Tanto gets first place! Indescribable happiness! Since Time Of Blue Leaves got second place, Yoshida suggests doing something about the artwork. Perhaps get Nakai back and pair them up again. Aoki calls Takagi to congratulate them but she oddly feels happy despite getting second. Then she gets a call from Yamahisa about the art. Yamahisa thinks he’ll contact Nakai but Aoki wants to leave that to her. So Aoki and Nakai meet and you can tell the fatty bastard is being arrogant. Aoki asks if he could draw her art and he blatantly says he’s having trouble choosing between her and the other fellow female assistant. If she wants him to draw for her, she’ll have to date him. Instantly Aoki slaps him for being an awful person to impose such condition. But Nakai isn’t fazed. This made up his mind and leaves. Wow. People do change. Takagi notices Mashiro isn’t in his top form and better clears this misunderstanding before it affects them. He calls Miyoshi, obviously still mad. And about the one that used Mashiro and Azuki’s romance too. He tries to convince her that he still loves her 1000 times more than Iwase. It’s going to take a lot more than that. If that’s the case, she requests to take him out on a date to the zoo. Unfortunately when Takagi gets there, Aoki happens to be there too. A distraught Aoki is so in a quandary on what to do that she collapses into his arms. Guess what? Miyoshi saw it all! FFFFUUUU!!!! Another huge misunderstanding he needs to clear. They chase her down and the only way he could get her to stop is to propose to marry her. Right now. So the trio sit down and talk things (and make cheesy jokes that would make couples break off. Really). Aoki apologizes for what has happened and promised will not call Takagi again. Miyoshi won’t impose such restriction and wants them to continue to talk to each other. In exchange, they’ll be friends. Mashiro is facing a slump when he thought he received a break up mail from Azuki. Seems she has forgiven him after hearing things out and has made friends with Aoki. Mashiro feels left out that the four of them are together but when he finds out about Takagi’s ‘forced’ marriage to Miyoshi, he gets fired up to get serialized and make a popular manga so when it becomes an anime, they can get married.

Episode 16
Yamahisa learns about what happened between Aoki and Nakai. He’ll still need somebody to draw the panty shots and all. Thus Aoki meets Ashirogi to seek their advice. They suggest Fukuda since his Kiyoshi Knight has lots of panty shots. Of course she doesn’t want him to think she’s using his work as reference material. Miyoshi suggests Ishizawa. Despite Ashirogi still hating that guy’s guts, Aoki would like to meet him. So reluctantly Takagi calls Ishizawa (still arrogant) for a meet up. Meanwhile Fukuda tries to call Nakai but doesn’t get through. He thinks of heading over and gets Takahama’s address via Mashiro. Once over, he tries to make Nakai realize about his resolve and even punches him. But Nakai seems to be comfortable and happy now. He chose Katou over Aoki and doesn’t want him to get in their way of their love relationship! Eh? Was there ever one? One way maybe. Fukuda notes he didn’t come here to work but to date. Ishizawa is still haughty. If Aoki wants his help, then she’ll have to do what he says. I don’t like the sound of this. The best way is to take pictures of movies of herself in various poses and he’ll decide what’s best. Won’t that be material for future blackmail? So it’s a bad idea to ask him because that guy won’t shut up and on the way out, Ishizawa’s face get pinned by Fukuda. He’ll coach Aoki to draw panty shots instead. In return, he’ll be very strict with her manuscript. Hattori gets a call from an old friend, Taninaka. He needs a favour of turning Green Graduation into a manga. Yuujirou is worried about Fukuda taking extra responsibility because he has his own manga to worry. He assures he will make Kiyoshi Knight even more popular and makes it clear he doesn’t have feelings for her. In fact he still hates her but since she participated in his boycott, he’ll help her out when she’s in trouble. Hattori sees Iwase and it seems she is bent on writing a manga that will rival Takagi. To ensure she’ll beat him, Hattori needs her to listen to every word he says and starts making suggestions on what to change on her work. Miura sees Ashirogi in another meeting. He is confident Tanto will get serialized if they make 3 chapters but the boys have their reservations. Miura notes Business Boy Kenichi isn’t doing well and is on the list of cancellation so he has no choice but to bet it all on Tanto. Fukuda continues to give his harsh opinions on Aoki’s work. Well, at least she’s taking all the useful notes down. Yoshida takes a look at Aoki’s work and notices the difference in drawing. Yamahisa thinks of submitting it to the serialization committee instead of doing a one-shot. Aoki’s improvement has her work being submitted for serialization. She thanks Fukuda for his coaching. Her editor told her to aim higher than Ashirogi but has mixed feelings about that since Ashirogi is both her friend and rival. Fukuda tells her like he tells Ashirogi: Don’t lose.

Episode 17
Miura and Yamahisa read the comments of their mangaka’s work. Safe to say, Miura lost. Mashiro and Takagi are in a weird practice. The kind whereby Takagi is preparing to meet Miyoshi’s father. They’re getting married, right? Nakai continues to flirt with Katou but now that she knows his feelings, she is treading carefully not to commit and at the same time not hurt his feelings. Takahama is obviously annoyed so he tells them Business Boy Kenichi is on the chopping board. If serialization stops, this means they can’t work together, right? Nakai notices how upset Takahama is and realizes his work is really in jeopardy. So after another serialization meeting, Time Of Blue Leaves will be serialized. Business Boy Kenichi will be dropped after 4 more chapters. I guess that’s the end of the road. And Tanto didn’t make the cut this time either. Devastating. Miyoshi accuses Takagi he didn’t want to marry her and thus let the quality slip! Of course not! Nakai wanted to tell Katou something but she says she can’t have any special relationship with him. Thinking that Aoki’s work has been serialized, she may need assistants. Yeah, he got the guts to even call her! Even if he strictly means business, what’s done is done. She doesn’t want him to call her again. Even if he apologized she already has decided her assistants will be females (subsequently one of them will be Katou). Ashirogi gets a call from Takahama not turning up for work. Because he got rejected by Katou and Aoki, he has decided to hang up his drawing pen and return to his hometown. Everybody else thinks he got what he deserved but Mashiro isn’t going to abandon him yet. He calls Nakai and he admits his talent of drawing has led him down the wrong path. He abused it. He’s disgusted with himself. He’ll be leaving tomorrow. Mashiro heads to his place to try and convince him to stay but he feels he has no right to draw manga now. Also with Mashiro are Fukuda and Aoki. She thanks him for his assistance on Hideout Door. He apologizes for all the trouble. No turning back now. Goodbye.

Hattori meets Iwase and is impressed with her work. She followed his instructions and it turned out to be very good. Now he wants her to continue her work and see how far she can go on her own. Ashirogi is going to meet Miura and they’re not placing much hope on Miura. During the meeting, Sasaki calls him and wants to see him. It’s because Takahama is with him. He also wants Miura to bring Ashirogi along. Seems Takahama wants to change his editor because Miura isn’t letting him draw what he wants. But Sasaki tells him off that is an admission and excuse he doesn’t have any talent. If he wanted to draw an excellent manga, it would’ve been accept as it is. If he disagrees with his editor and believes he is right, then he should draw a manga that will force him to agree. He will not change his editor and if he can’t get along with Miura, he can leave and draw for another magazine. Takahama apologizes for being conceited and make up with Miura. Ashirogi are glad they didn’t complain or badmouth about Miura. Yeah, better stop blaming him and focus their energy on their work. Hattori shows Yuujirou Iwase’s work that is comparable to Takagi. However he needs someone of Ashirogi’s level to draw them: Niizuma. Giving him read the script, Niizuma gets excited to draw a storyboard. Yeah, he’s doing it now. Once done, the editors are impressed. Even Yuujirou admits this is too good and must do this. Hattori will take it to the higher ups on a condition that he keeps doing Crow and keep its quality up. This will give Ashirogi some motivation. But can a mangaka have 2 serialized works? It’s unprecedented. Hattori suggests Niizuma should draw as if he was someone else via a pen name. If the committee approves this, they’ll reveal the truth. Yuujirou thinks this will fire up Niizuma (he has been sluggish since TRAP got cancelled), rivalry between mangakas will be something good for Jack and he may get promoted to be a lead editor and accepts this secret collaboration.

Episode 18
As Miura discusses Tanto with Ashirogi, Hattori shows Iwase the artwork drawn by MONEYS (Niizuma’s pen name for her work). She is impressed and also agrees to his suggestions of improving other areas of her manuscript, +NATURAL. When Miura hears about +NATURAL would fare better than Tanto, Hattori gives him permission to let Miura let Ashirogi know seeing Takagi and Iwase have some sort of rivalry dated back to middle school days. Of course they are shocked that +NATURAL has been submitted for the next serialization meeting. They are determined not to lose to her. Takagi goes home and sees Iwase waiting outside his house. Though she apologizes for the letter and the trouble he got into, she wants him to acknowledge her if they both get serialized and her manga becomes popular. He will. Only for her talent. That’s because Takagi will register his marriage with Miyoshi after getting serialized. Shocked by the news, Iwase vows to beat him and won’t accept his marriage if she doesn’t. It’s her pride thingy. Christmas Day is like D-Day because it’s the serialization meeting. The committee members are surprised with +NATURAL’s great artwork and yet MONEYS is such an unknown author. Till Yoshida recognizes it is Niizuma’s style. Plus, MONEYS is a play on Niizuma’s name. Niizu-ma. Ma-niizu. MONEYS. Geddit? Hattori and Yuujirou are summoned to the committee so they come clean. Reading Iwase’s manuscript further, they feel it is too good to be passed up. Only Niizuma’s art made it even better. Sasaki warns about Crow dropping quality but Yuujirou begs to differ. If he doesn’t do both, he’ll lose motivation. Ashirogi gets the good news that Tanto has been serialized. Though they are surprised that +NATURAL is also serialized, more surprisingly they get to know Niizuma is the artist and he’ll be using his real name now. But this unprecedented move is causing uproar with the other editors. With an established mangaka doing 2 works simultaneously, this means new ones will have a slot less. Hattori calls Iwase to tell her the good news but she doesn’t sound happy. Maybe it’s because of her pride that she is used to winning? Or was it that recent confrontation with Takagi? She also learns Niizuma is her artist. Fukuda blows his top upon learning this and calls Yuujirou for an answer. It’s business.

Meanwhile Hiramaru gets duped into continuing his manga work. Yeah, after that failed date Yoshida set up (she’s uglier than she looks in the photo), Hiramaru gets played once more into his hands when Yoshida mentions he might get hooked with Aoki. Hiramaru gets a call from Fukuda for their usual meeting. Since Aoki will be there, you can count on him to be there too. Looks like the Gods haven’t abandoned him. So Fukuda Group meets and they’re short a member. No, not Nakai but Iwase. Fukuda thinks they should call her too but Takagi doesn’t want to as they don’t get along. I guess majority wins. Iwase is called over, gets to know who Niizuma is but isn’t thrilled that this gathering is supposed to be their routine exchange of ideas and opinions. She chides them for having no pride and will never accept opinions of others. Even Aoki. She hastily leaves and will leave the artwork to Niizuma. With that short drama over, now Fukuda questions Niizuma’s goal of having 2 serialized works. Is it as insurance in case the other one fails? The others too have their objections against what he is doing. But as we know, Niizuma’s goal is to motivate Ashirogi. Thus he tells them to shut up and says he draws because he wants to not because of pressure by his editor. And if they have any complaints, do so only after making a better manga than him. He’s right. At the end of the meeting, Hiramaru wants to give Aoki a ride back in his sports car. She doesn’t mind but there’s something missing. It’s his sports car! Oh dear, it has been towed away for illegal parking! So Fukuda gives Aoki a ride home on his bike instead. The Gods have abandoned him. So fast? Were the Gods ever with him in the first place?

Episode 19
Miyoshi brings Takagi to meet her parents. Well, he’s nervous and ever apologizing. Don’t be. Miyoshi’s dad learns he is a mangaka and it reminds him of his late best friend: Nobuhiro AKA Tarou Kawaguchi. Oh, fate really works in mysterious ways. Also learning about Mashiro, he wants Takagi to call him here right now for a karate challenge to test their determination! So off the guys go to the dojo but they end up in a diner instead. It was just an excuse to get them away because there are some things he can’t say in front of the women. Starting off his story with Mashiro’s uncle as his best friend and love rival, they were in the same school. Nobuhiro got a letter from Miyuki and it isn’t a love letter but one that encourages him to do his best. So they continue to write letters to each other but in the end we know they didn’t marry. Miyoshi’s dad also learns about the uncanny and similar case of Mashiro and Azuki. He remembers telling off Nobuhiro to just tell his feelings to Miyuki but he wants to make sure he can make a living being a mangaka first. Because of this, he supports the duo and feels he should tell the person he loves as soon as possible. At the New Year’s party, the usual gang meet. However Ashirogi sees lots of attention and praises for Iwase and Hattori. This made get them riled up not to lose to her. Even Niizuma wants to head home and continue drawing her chapter’s storyboard. Which he did. Hiramaru wanted to party with the rest of the Fukuda Group but after seeing Niizuma’s determination, they have no mood and also leave. Go party by yourself. Hattori is alone with Niizuma at his place. Niizuma knows he is supporting Ashirogi and wants to know why. He explains it is not good practice to support authors one isn’t in charge. He feels Ashirogi will be a strong pillar of Jack in the future like him. Niizuma agrees to help out but also won’t lose to them. Miyoshi is now Takagi’s official wife and Ashirogi get Takahama and the energetic Ichiriki Orihara as their assistants. Miura shows Ashirogi the publishing sample that +NATURAL will debut in. It is basically a Niizuma’s edition as what many people would call it because he has the cover colour and middle spread to his name. Ashirogi reads it and finds it to be terrifying good. The kind that can draw in more kids and easily be adapted into anime. Speaking of which. Otter 11 will be getting its anime adaption. That’s not a lie!

When Jack is out, by 3pm all copies at every convenience store and bookstore has been sold out! Thanks to the word going around the internet that +NATURAL will be a great hit. As expected, it ranked first in the polls. The next week is Tanto’s debut as Miura tries to give them hope that their gag manga is different from a plot driven one and a top 5 finish should be good enough. That week comes and no sold out miracle for that issue. When the polls are out. Tanto ranks fifth. +NATURAL is at third while Crow takes fourth spot. Not what Ashirogi wanted. Takagi and Miyoshi are moving stuffs into their new apartment block when they are paid a surprise visit by Iwase. She is here to congratulate them on their marriage but Miyoshi doesn’t believe her sincerity. Iwase fans the fire and admits she likes the Takagi with talent. It would’ve been a heated argument between the women if Takagi didn’t step in. He acknowledges Iwase’s better talent than him, something that he knows she wants him to say. In the end, Miyoshi doesn’t need her congratulations and advises her to find a man with better talent quick. Oh, she already did: Hattori. She’s dating him?! Not exactly. She admires him because he has great talent. Well, I felt Iwase won this bout. Tanto continues to slide in the next few weeks till it stabilizes at 11th spot. Even so, Miura notes that they are doing well to draw in younger audiences. That’s because kids pick their top manga based on how funny it is, not the plot’s quality. Yuujirou tells Niizuma that Crow didn’t exactly fell from popularity since it got more votes than before (+NATURAL still holding strong in second place). Asking about his opinion on Ashirogi’s Tanto, he says he’s not reading it anymore.

Episode 20
Takagi is doing some funny antics for Mashiro and Miyoshi for ideas but it looks lame. Meanwhile Hattori is troubled because Iwase has been asking if she is appealing to him as a woman. Miura discusses with Ashirogi about the ideas and even thinks of coming up with a catchphrase but all Mashiro has on his mind is Tanto’s dismal ranking. Miura lets them know that +NATURAL is being fought over by TV stations to be adapted into anime, drama and live-action. That good, huh? But when Mashiro learns Niizuma isn’t even reading Tanto, he gets even more worried. Something is wrong. He notices his assistants not even giggling while reading it, Takagi may be pushing himself to do the impossible since his livelihood now depends on it, Miyoshi is worried (you don’t want your soon-to-be-husband dead, right?). So come the official wedding day (I didn’t know Miyoshi could look this beautiful), Hattori gives his speech and names all of Ashirogi’s work since the day they meet. But something in his speech bugs Mashiro. Despite naming each of their submitted works, he left out Tanto. So he confronts Hattori and nearly causes a scene at the wedding! Hattori tries to play it cool that they may be labelled as troublemakers if they quit their serialization. Takagi wants to go over but Miyoshi stops him. The groom shouldn’t leave his seat and to have faith in Mashiro. Taking it outside, Mashiro wants him to tell him straight that he should quit doing Tanto. Since he’s persistent, Hattori tells him the truth. He really wants him to quit Tanto. Shock? That’s what he wanted to hear, right?

Despite now officially married, I’ll continue to refer to Takagi and Miyoshi as they are because I’m much used to how I refer to them. The duo are having their local honeymoon and Takagi’s mind is heavy with what has happened. To cheer him up, Miyoshi thinks of watching TV and surprisingly, Niizuma is on the late variety show. At least he is still his quirky self. But the thing that caught Ashirogi’s attention was Niizuma’s declaration that they are his biggest rival. Mashiro is so distraught that he ran back home from his workplace. He calls Azuki to confide in her. She thinks he should quit Tanto too. She is glad their love is maturing because they’re talking together by phone and confesses she loves him. When Takagi comes back, Mashiro has a serious discussion with him on Tanto. They see no future in it. At least not the kind that they could beat Niizuma with. Then meeting with Miura, they decide to stop it, much to his dismay. So they go see Heishi but he is vehemently against it. He tells them off for being selfish. They may not be in the top 10 but Tanto has got the children’s votes. He reminds them a manga had to be cancelled for Tanto’s serialization. The duo seek Sasaki’s advice. He agrees with them. Provided if they don’t draw for Jack anymore. They should be prepared for this, right? Mashiro expresses his desire to beat Niizuma so Sasaki asks if he can really beat Niizuma if he drops Tanto and writes another story. Of course he can. Sasaki doesn’t. Hattori steps in seeing he feels responsible for telling them all the while they’re able to surpass Niizuma. Even Heishi agrees. He thinks they have talent but haven’t fully utilized them yet. Takagi hopes he could let them end Tanto. Since their contract is for the full year, they’ll come up with something for the committee that the entire editorial department can approve otherwise they’ll quit Jack. Mashiro agrees but Sasaki says this doesn’t fall under his responsibility. Well, Miura? What is it going to be? Let’s beat Niizuma! Hattori thought they’ve raised the bar level too high and it may be impossible now for them to beat Niizuma.

Episode 21
Ashirogi tells their assistants that Tanto will end in 2 more issues. Takahama is in favour of that while Orihara is surprised, he also supports them. Niizuma tells Hattori that his plan is going accordingly but is confident no matter how they approach him, he will not lose. Takagi is having writer’s block. There’s the wrapping up of Tanto to be done with. So with Miyoshi stinging on the food, he thought she should just go all out and buy what she wants, no matter how branded or pricey because he feels he won’t write something good if he starts feeling cheap. He’s not joking. In another meeting with Miura, since Takagi hasn’t come up with anything, he suggests to do Money And Intelligence which was the only manga to have beaten Niizuma in rankings. But they should expand it into making appearance as well, thus Money, Intelligence And Appearance (abbreviated as KTM – Kono Yo Wa Kane To Chie To Mitame) whereby you can buy not only intelligence but appearance as well with money. Takagi thinks hard and pens down all the ideas that are flowing through his head. Takagi shouldn’t fret on the setting because Mashiro will cover it up with his superb artwork. Mashiro notices that Miura is working with their strengths. Ashirogi wraps up Tanto and Takagi feels sad to end it. Even though it’s hard keeping it going, he got more attached to it. But he isn’t regretting. It motivates him to do a much better manga than Tanto. So with the ideas flowing through Takagi, Miura helps polishes them till KTM is submitted to the serialization committee. However the end results show that KTM won’t be serialized. Shocking? At least Miura sounded calm and not too obsessed about getting serialized. Ashirogi gets another shock when Miura says they’re not continuing with KTM and should do another manga, one that is mainstream fantasy. Why? Because they haven’t tried it out yet. But there are lots of other genres they haven’t try yet. Seeing Miura is serious, Mashiro decides to go with him so they sit down and discuss some ideas.

Niizuma learns that Ashirogi won’t be drawing for Jack anymore if they can’t draw something good. But he wants to know why Hattori is lowering the bar from them. Is he? Niizuma points out Iwase’s manuscript isn’t as sharp before and wants it rewritten. Wow. He can tell? So Hattori meets Iwase and points out what needs to be redone. Iwase mentions he never praises her work. Not as an author, but as a woman. I wonder how Hattori is going to wiggle his way out of this. Iwase is dead serious. Okay, first he says she shouldn’t view him as Takagi’s replacement and since they are meeting weekly, she can use that time to change his mind. I guess that worked. Ashirogi comes up with Stopper Of Magma despite Takagi still having some doubts in this work. But Miyoshi seems to like it because it is pretty easy to understand. They do the necessary and hand it to Miura to submit it to the serialization committee. Unfortunately it wasn’t even good enough to be submitted to the committee. Seems they felt it wasn’t their usual quality. Though Takagi is alarmed, Miura is cool. Takagi blows his top when he suggests they should’ve reworked KTM (which was what Takagi suggested) and have no more breathing space (they have used up 2 of the 3 chances to submit their works to the committee before the year end). Miura even throws back the responsibility to him saying that it was something they decided. Don’t worry, he’ll come over now. While Ashirogi are having doubts whether Miura has changed, they are surprised to see Hattori with him. Seems Miura sought his advice and wanted Ashirogi to beat Niizuma so much that he doesn’t care about appearances anymore. Hattori was the one who suggested with the mainstream fantasy idea. Since he was responsible for that, that’s why he is also here to help them.

Episode 22
Asking if they enjoyed doing Stopper Of Magma and Tanto, Ashirogi of course says no. Hattori mentions that KTM was too elaborated that’s why he suggested mainstream fantasy. So what they both need now is serious humour. Eh? What? You see, they were trying too hard to make a funny story that it wasn’t funny. Citing Otter 11’s serious humour whereby the scene wasn’t supposed to be funny but it became funny due to circumstances. In short, making people laugh without trying to make them laugh. Confused? The joke must come natural. Lastly, Mashiro needs to do more serious art. The more serious it is, the more what they’re trying to do will shine. So with the advice, Hattori leaves the trio to discuss their next work. Hiramaru thinks he can stop drawing now that Otter 11 has its own anime but Yoshida once again has tricks up his sleeve to get that lazy bum to continue. I guess if he wants to know more about Aoki’s likes, he’ll have to keep on drawing for weeks to come. Miyoshi tells Azuki what she learnt from Aoki that Ashirogi has one last chance left otherwise they won’t draw for Jack anymore. Azuki says to just watch silently over them. Next morning, not sure if it’s desperation from writer’s block, Takagi gets this idea to secretly tail Hattori and drags Mashiro into it. He himself doesn’t know why. I guess they’ll figure it out along the way. They see him entering his office, wait for him to leave, follow him to the bookstore and notice him picking books on ways to find romance. This is getting interesting. Then at the diner, what surprises them more is not his meeting with Iwase but that girl is boldly asking if she looks pretty (screw the manuscript!). It was just too funny for Ashirogi to contain their laughter especially the way Hattori tries to give his answer so they leave before they blow their cover. Lastly, Hattori is at the bar drinking with Yuujirou and Miura. He felt his judgement was right when they first met and had this feeling they’ll be great mangakas. That’s all he wanted to prove. Hearing that, Ashirogi get the motivation to give it their best.

Takagi has already got an idea from the tailing. He knows what kind of story to do. The kind that involves the perfect crime. We’ve got this protagonist kid that is fascinated by perfect crime. For instance, he will notice the contents of the pencil box. How long the pencils are, what brand, how used the eraser is, so on. He will then replicate everything and will be satisfied if the ‘victim’ couldn’t tell he is using a replica. Soon he finds others with similar interests and they start a club that does perfect crime. Mashiro is amazed with his fun and addictive story and Takagi has got lots of ideas to go with it. Takagi is tired out from his recent ‘data collection’ so Miyoshi tells him about Azuki’s birthday the day after tomorrow (Ashirogi can’t attend by the way) and she plans to give her a dress. Takagi get this idea to enhance their storyboard by doing the perfect crime itself. He brings Mashiro along to try and find an exact replicate of Miyoshi’s gift for Azuki. Where to start? I guess it’s trial and error. Needle in the haystack. See the humour coming in? The editors are getting nervy and hounding Miura for Ashirogi’s script. They know it’s their last chance saloon. What a panic bunch. What is Miura got to do but to rush over since lately Ashirogi hasn’t been answering his calls (and forgot to call back). Meanwhile Miyoshi celebrates Azuki’s birthday and gives her the present. Azuki finds the painting of herself lovely. But Miyoshi is puzzled because that isn’t her present. The real present subsequently arrives via courier. I guess this is Takagi’s example of surprise to shock the readers. While greatly working on their Perfect Crime Club, Mashiro gets a call from Azuki to thank him for the lovely art. Miura comes knocking on their door and is desperate for their storyboard, which they claim is 100 times better than KTM. They hand it to him to read and it looks like they’ve got the surprised reaction that they wanted.

Episode 23
Miura continues to read the script and somewhat finds the crime of the protagonist to be petty. But as Ashirogi points out, it is better to start off small first. So the story of this kid who thinks he has done the perfect crime is halted when he notices somebody else noticing his deeds. Thus he starts observing and tailing him that leads to a surprise end in the formation of the club. Miura is excited this new genre can beat Niizuma and Takagi has already ideas for the next chapter in which they’ll have a heroine joining the club via perfect crime style. Aida hounds Miura for Ashirogi’s work but he plays cool and goes off to collect Takahama’s work. However he tells him he won’t submit it. It’s not because this is Ashirogi’s last chance but rather after reading their work, he knows Takahama’s won’t stand a chance. But he still wants to send it in for serialization as he won’t go out losing. Miura has changed his viewpoint about everything will be okay if one is serialized. But now he realized there’s more to it. Fukuda learns from Yuujirou about Ashirogi’s predicament. This made him think about his own since Kiyoshi Knight has been serialized for 3 years with no anime offers and always lingering around 10th place. Besides, +NATURAL is getting an anime adaptation. Mashiro gets a call from Takahama who wants to see his manuscript. He agrees since tomorrow is the deadline and he won’t be any time to do adjustments. Takahama reads their story and is amazed. He understands what Miura meant and will withdraw his intention to serialize. This fires him up to do better so he can catch up to them. Mashiro is invited to Takagi and Miyoshi’s Christmas party while they wait for the committee’s decision. Since Azuki couldn’t come, as thanks for his drawing, she made him a Christmas cake. Miura finally submits Ashirogi’s work to the committee and they are amazed of how drawn in they are with the story. However Sasaki is not about to give the green light to serialize them. Because the question now is whether Ashirogi can beat Niizuma. That was the bet and condition. This is going to be tough. Even if Aida supports Ashirogi and if they don’t try, they won’t know, in that case as pointed, other mangas also have the chance to beat Crow and +NATURAL because the possibility is not zero. Yoshida is worried that the realism of the drawing may cause others to imitate. Since nobody can decide, Sasaki will have it decide on majority vote. In the 7-man panel, the score is levelled at 3-3. Yeah, it’s Sasaki who is to make the final decision. Felt like his suggestion backfired and eventually came back to him as the one who will make or break Ashirogi, eh? But he’s still cool. Now the decision that we’ve all been waiting for. Drum roll please. Come on… Come on… Despite praising Ashirogi’s works highly, he doesn’t think Ashirogi can beat Niizuma. OMG. That’s a no! No serialization!

Episode 24
Oonishi, the guy who voted against Ashirogi decides to change his vote because he feels guilty for affecting the lives of the mangakas. How nice of him. Even Heishi who voted a no decided to change his stance since he really wants them to win. If it was unanimous 7-0 loss than it’s a different story but it was a 4-3 close fight. Besides, they should let the readers decide. That’s what they’ve always done, right? And so that heart stopping decision ended with Perfect Crime Club given the green light to be serialized. Yes! Ashirogi finally did it! Fukuda and Niizuma call them to congratulate so the rivalry begins now. As Mashiro is going to eat the cake, he notices a USB inside from Azuki. Trying to get back with a surprise, eh? As thanks for the drawing, the USB contains a file of Azuki’s voice recorder of her congratulations for him (it is only fitting since she’s a seiyuu) and a Christmas song. At least her singing didn’t suck this time. Miura reads the announcement of change in editors so he talks to Sasaki to apologize about his conspiring with Hattori. But Sasaki says it was the result of him taking action to help Ashirogi so he’s okay. Plus, he could tell that Hattori was involved too since he understands them well and decided to leave it to him. Miura calls Ashirogi to let them know about the editor swap. Hattori will become their editor again and Miura will be in charge of +NATURAL. Miura suggests Hattori should come with him to see Ashirogi now. Hattori mentions the details of their loss but got serialized because of their potential to win outside. Ashirogi is surprised and decides to redo their storyboard again. Now? Yes. Mashiro feels they need to rewrite a storyboard that everyone will agree they’ll win.

Discussing about Niizuma’s work, Hattori explains about his straightforward method that is easy to understand and the way he uses perspective and sound effects. Showing them a manuscript Niizuma did for +NATURAL, Niizuma cut out unnecessary parts and inserted new scenes deemed appropriate. His expressiveness made +NATURAL much better but Mashiro thinks it has more to do with his imagination because of the way he uses the space in panel layouts. Panels without words or just scenery made readers freely engage their own interpretation. Ashirogi thanks Miura for everything and he vows to make +NATURAL better. Sure, he is happy he’s got a pretty girl to work with now but for Iwase’s case, she is not happy. Very. She thinks Takagi and Hattori have cast her aside. She is through with love and is going to be the best author around. Miura has to stop with his jokes and compliments or she’ll sue him for sexual harassment! And he better act as her editor or else. He just realized the sh*t he has gotten into. Wow. The author is flexing control and authority over her editor. Miura is introduced to Niizuma and the latter though not happy he made Ashirogi write a gag manga because they are suitable for realistic stories with realistic art, he thanks Miura for having them do Perfect Crime Club because it will be a manga that can compete with his. Mashiro thinks hard how to effectively use blank spaces and sound effects. Realizing how Niizuma turned Iwase’s script into a manga, suddenly an idea hits him. He wants to do stories with script only format so he can use his imagination to draw freely and put blank panels where he wants. It’s worth a shot. Meanwhile Fukuda is worried about his Fukuda Group because his mates are surpassing him. He is doing a one-shot manga but promises to not let Kiyoshi Knight slip.

Episode 25
In just 5 days, Ashirogi pulls off the impossible by redoing everything that is needed. They even want Hattori to point out any more stuffs that needs to be redone. There are. First, the name of the character since theirs doesn’t leave an impact. The manga’s title too could need some polishing. Hattori also wants a suitable design for the main character. Because of Mashiro’s realistic drawing, the protagonist is too normal and can’t be told apart from other characters. It’s that time of year again for the New Year party but Ashirogi are so busy that they couldn’t attend. As penalty, Hattori and Yuujirou are made to dress and dance in animal outfits. By the way, Fukuda is also hard at work doing his one-shot manga. Hiramaru thought he could relax and let some steam off but Aoki felt disappointed with his statement and have misjudged him. I guess he deserved it. Aside Orihara, Ashirogi will be getting 2 new assistants. They are Shuuichi Moriya who is aiming to be a mangaka and Shun Shiratori who has never drawn manga before despite loves reading them. Mashiro gives them a test to fill in the backgrounds because he only needs one to draw them for his manga. In the end, Mashiro chooses Shiratori to do it because it is closest to what he imagined. As they talk about rankings, Moriya points out it is pointless for manga to be ranked and drawing them to get popular and you can’t draw good manga if you think like that. Because Moriya insulted Shiratori he has nothing to do with manga since he has never drawn them before, Shiratori wants him to explain his ideal manga. It is a form of self expression and fine art. Shiratori counters that it just makes himself feel good but it won’t sell. Because Jack is doing business, ranking and sales are important. Mashiro puts a stop to this and lets out his opinion. They are trying to sell this manga but have no talent. Parents used to say reading manga makes you stupid, that’s why he thinks they should draw manga with content and quality that one won’t be ashamed to say it has cultural value. Because Ashirogi have no talent, they have to draw with popularity in mind. In short, each one should draw their own manga.

By coincidence Takagi finally gets the perfect name for his characters. Despite the perfect crime title, their names will be opposite and when put together would mean moral and truth. Their title is renamed as Perfect Crime Party or PCP. Hattori is impressed with their efforts but also mentions about Fukuda’s one-shot. It will appear in the same issue as their debut. Speaking of which, Fukuda is rushing to get Road Racer Buchigiri finish on time (it’s a one-shot based on his hobbies for motorbikes). Even Yuujirou is helping out as his assistant. The manga sample comes out as everyone reads it. It’s a tough one to call since they predict the votes will be split between PCP and Buchigiri. Aida feels Buchigiri may be easier to understand since the race scenes are showy and intense as compared to PCP’s exposition and plain looks. Ashirogi continues to work on their chapters and only wants to hear the final results instead of the preliminaries. D-Day arrives and they are anxious to know the results. They’re waiting for that phone call that will make or break them. They think their assistants have arrived early but to their surprise it is Hattori. He is catching his breath. Wait till you hear this. PCP secured number one spot with a majority of 150 votes over second place Buchigiri with 422 votes! Finally! They did it! They got the top spot! More amazingly they got more votes when Crow or +NATURAL debut at top spot (401 and 310 respectively). They wonder if Buchigiri wasn’t in, they could’ve gotten even more votes. While Fukuda feels frustrated he got walloped by Ashirogi, Yuujirou says this is the readers’ stamp mark for him to continue Buchigiri. He gives Fukuda the green light to end Kiyoshi Knight and work on Buchigiri. Miura informs Iwase that +NATURAL fell to 8th place because PCP and Buchigiri were just too good. Since she is a bad loser, she is going to rewrite everything again! She won’t lose to Hattori and Takagi. Miura tells this to Niizuma and he is pretty happy with Iwase’s decision and tears up the manuscript he is drawing. If she wasn’t fired up, he would’ve been disappointed because if they don’t do better, Ashirogi will overtake them.

As Hattori shows them the demographics and breakdowns of PCP’s position, Mashiro wonders if he can have that chart. Sorry, buddy. You can’t. Even if he wants to show it to someone, it’s all the more reason not to lend him because other authors’ rankings are in it and they are sensitive stuff. But he can feel free to tell it to others. If that’s the case, Mashiro wants him to follow him and also brings Takagi along. That person whom Mashiro wants to show is his uncle. At least at his grave, he shows the chart and the number one position that he failed to achieve in his lifetime. Maybe Mashiro is seeing things because he sees his uncle talking back. So what now since he has gotten first place? The tough part only begins from here. When he gets really popular and is truly number one, then he can come back here again. You bet he’s going to make frequent trips back here. The shocker ending comes with Hattori receiving ‘warning’ from Sasaki that if they get low rankings, he won’t hesitate to cancel them after the 7th chapter. And if they cannot go head to head with Crow and +NATURAL, he’ll straightaway cancel them!

From Boys To Men…
Wow. This season was equally if not even more thrilling and exciting than the first. With the different developments throughout this season, each episode really kept me glued to my seat. From Mashiro’s hospitalization to the boycott to Nakai’s romance that led to his downfall and ultimate he left the scene, to Takagi and Miyoshi’s wedding, Iwase’s sudden entry into the world of manga and finally a hit series for Ashirogi, it just keeps getting better and better. The jokes as well as the direction of the story were also paced nicely so the flow felt seamless and smooth. Now this is what you can really consider to be a worthy anime like how Ashirogi created a manga worthy of their readers. However this isn’t the end yet and as at the end of the final episode, the announcement of a third season is to come. So it really shows it is indeed a long arduous and tough road to become a famous mangaka. Remember, Ashirogi’s goal is to have their works turn into anime so that Mashiro and Azuki can fulfil their promise to each other. Even if it does sound a long way off, at least they are a step closer to that dream.

The characters here have grown much since and I’m sure they’ll grow on you too. Despite everyone trying their best to be the best mangaka around, they maintain friendly rivalry with each other and give support when the time calls for it. Mashiro and Takagi have improved a lot since their debut days. You can consider them to be veterans in the manga world but they are still young and have lots to learn. Just as Takagi’s stories get better (okay, sometimes he is hit with the inevitable writer’s block), Mashiro’s art also improves and this could up the rivalry between the best authors in Jack. You know they say competition is healthy, right? It is also good that Mashiro is starting to move out and away from his uncle’s shadows and form his own style. You notice he rarely compares or mentions about him unless when necessary. We also rarely hear him speak about mangakas being gamblers till they hit it big. So much so if I hadn’t thought about it, I would have forgotten all about it. I suppose instead of worrying if your story can be a hit or not, it’s best to improve your own abilities first. After all, the readers are the one that determine a manga’s success. Azuki and Miyoshi continue to indirectly support their guys in reaching their dream. We may not have glimpsed very much of Azuki’s struggle as a seiyuu but I’m sure she has her own troubles and is trying her best too. After all, she leans on Mashiro and him on her for support and pillar of strength. I’m not sure what Miyoshi dreams to be because in the previous season I remember she gave up her handphone novel after a while. Yeah, she tried jumping onto the bandwagon but didn’t find it to be suitable. But I suppose she found her dream in marrying Takagi. What more could she ask for?

One of the most surprising change in character is Aoki. One thing for sure, I find Aoki to be quite a pretty person herself is she smiles more often! True. Initially she was such a stuck up and not willing to bend her principles by an inch. After Nakai’s perseverance, she gradually opens up and starts to smile and laugh more often with the gang. I hate to admit this but Aoki being friendlier and more loosen up seems to make her look like a retard. Oops. Was it too harsh? Maybe funny should be the right word. So which do I prefer? The one with the sweet smile of course. Replacing Aoki’s snobbish behaviour is Iwase. I get a feeling that this woman will be twice, no, make that triple, oh wait, hundred times a more dangerous version than Aoki. She is more aggressive, very strict, has high standards and competitive. I’m sure men don’t like their women like that, right? So is it a wonder why she has been single all this time? The guys she liked never reciprocate her love. Takagi was in love with a woman who is so much more ‘lower standard’ than her and Hattori just simply chose to maintain their professional relationship. I’m not sure if she will become an even more dangerous woman after vowing never to love again but if it spurs her to make greater manga, then I guess in this aspect it is good. Maybe some right guy will ‘save’ her with love. Maybe we might see that in the next season? The other surprising change in character is Nakai. From a guy who aspires to get his first serialized work, he fell from grace after his fallout with Aoki and eventually Katou’s rejection. He became cocky, contended and lost sight of his true goals. Was romance he was seeking in the first place? It was good he realized his mistakes but the damage is done. Maybe he’ll make a comeback. Who knows? Maybe he just needs some time to cool his head. Or did he hang up his pen for good?

Some of the other characters stay relatively the same. For example, Niizuma continues to be the eccentric manga genius and his continued quality in his works is prove he is a class and cut above the rest. He may act like a kid and cawing like a crow but you will notice that Niizuma is not stupid. He has an eye and a good judge on people. Especially with Ashirogi whom he considers his ultimate rival, he wants to make sure they are at the top of their game because you feel good when you win the good fight fair and square, right? He observes details that normal people would not notice. And when he points them out, it really makes sense to what he says or the action he undertakes. Fukuda is still the rash and arrogant guy but I suppose that is his way of caring for his rivals-cum-friends. Hiramaru is one amusing joker. I guess that is what his role and existence is. A comic relief. The moment you see this guy, you know you are going to expect some crazy excuse to be lazy, not start his work or procrastinate. Despite the numerous calls of wanting to call it quits, at the end of it all, he is still continuing to draw manga. Like Hotel California, eh? Once you check in, you can’t check out. So it’s hats off to Yoshida for managing to keep that guy drawing for Jack. Or maybe it is Hiramaru’s gullible nature to be easily tricked. You just tell him what he wants to hear and spice it up a little to make it look good and he’ll put on his thinking cap that will probably last for around 2 weeks. I’m sure that will be enough time for Yoshida to come up with new excuses to keep him in.

Miura may still be the same easygoing guy but at least he realizes that getting serialized isn’t everything. It’s not just pushing what he thinks it is best for the mangaka because he too needs to hear out their opinion. Eventually even if ranking and popularity still matters, the most important thing is the help the mangaka to develop his/her skills and talents and make them use the best of their abilities. Hattori may not provide most of the guiding light for Ashirogi this season but he wants to see Ashirogi improve so bad that he is willing to conspire with Yuujirou and Niizuma for them to get better. You can say that it paid off and clearly shown in PCP and their greatest masterpiece ever since TRAP. The other minor characters may be playing minor roles but I feel their short contribution has helped in the development of the story and ultimately to Ashirogi’s improvement. Takahama may already have his break in his first serialization (which was unfortunately cancelled), he still continues to make the effort to catch up to Ashirogi. Katou may still happily be Aoki’s assistant but what happened to Ogawa? Did he move on to being some other mangaka’s assistant for some other magazine? Orihara still has his spirits high up in serving Ashirogi for the second time and with 2 new assistants introduced at the end, this will broaden Ashirogi’s horizon even further. But I’m glad that the 2 most annoying characters of the series didn’t make much screen time. Thank heavens. Everyone else could use less of KOOGY and Ishizawa. The rocker should stick to his rock music instead of producing weird mangas that nobody comprehends. I thought it was the end of the world when Aoki wanted to collaborate with him. Good thing she has common sense to call it off. Ishizawa shouldn’t brag and be so boastful just because he got serialized in some other magazine. It might not be right to judge him seeing we aren’t given a chance to see a sample of his work but I’m betting that Ashirogi and the others at Jack will be many times much better than his.

The opening theme of this season at least sounds better than the first season but still it wasn’t enough to attract me. The rock pop of Dream Of Life by Shouhei Itou at least sounded fitting for the theme and genre of this series. At least it doesn’t sound so gay like the last time… Monochrome Rainbow by Tommy Heavenly6 is the first ending theme and another rock outfit. I didn’t find it appealing to. I won’t say that out of all the themes I prefer the second ending song but at least this soothing and calming piece of Parallel= by Fumiya Sashida gives out a happy feel and though my feet won’t go as far as to shuffle with the beat but at least it makes my heart feel sunny and happy. Get what I’m saying? Well, when I heard this song, it reminded me of that song from Hall and Oates, Private Eyes. There is this insert song briefly played once called Crow Sky by Shuhei Kita and it is a song for Crow’s anime opening theme. Sounds like your typical song for a shonen action anime.

Though there are still some insights on the workings and procedures of the manga industry, at least it isn’t as heavy as I perceived to be when I first watched the first season. Maybe there are but I wasn’t really paying great attention since I won’t really be able to comprehend it as I am not in this line so I won’t fully understand what is being explained. Even when Ashirogi were pointed things to be redone or they come up with reasons why they should do it a certain way, I just accepted them as it is without thinking deeper. From past experience, doing so will only cause massive headache and prevent me from enjoying the anime. Hah. How can I enjoy the anime without understanding those stuffs? This is what I understand. Manga artists must work hard and draw hard, submit their manuscripts before deadline to be printed in the weekly manga magazine, cycle continues for future chapters. If Plan A of certain chapters doesn’t work, make sure you have Plan B. Better to have Plan C too. Every now and then, there are works that are submitted to the committee to see it is worthy to be given a shot at serialization. See? Simple. On whether it will be a hit and its ranking is another story and left to the readers to decide. Since this is an anime dealing with manga, I’m sure you can spot all the trivia of different mangas in the Jack office with Naruto, One Piece and Bleach as the famous real mangas decorating the walls. Because it is expect, the surprise factor to point out and go, “Hey! Isn’t this manga so and so?” isn’t really there.

Another thing to ponder about is the hectic work life of a manga. Mashiro’s collapse raises the moral issue of whether they should continue to work under pressure to meet deadlines. This topic is quite controversial and it’s not really my place to say who is right or wrong in the first place. We have to look at both sides of the argument. Firstly if the mangaka wishes to continue despite their failing health that would lead to further detriment consequences, do others have the right to stop them since this is after all their life? They have made the decision fully well known of the effects and yet decide to carry on. On the other hand I’m sure being a mangaka would mean a weird loner but there are many who have loved ones. They will be worried if you get hurt or die. It gets complicated when a person dies, get what I’m saying? The doctors who took an oath to save lives will be in a dilemma. But ultimately that life is in your own hands and you decide what you want to make out of it. So if Mashiro had really died, Jack would have gotten into lots of trouble and would be seen as a merciless slave driver making high school students work to their death. That won’t be so good. For Mashiro, his family, his friends, the magazine, society and the most of all the manga and anime industry. Thus the tough part is always to maintain that correct mix between work and play. But as we know, it is always leaning more towards work for budding and established mangakas.

I guess we’ve been fooled when we were given a glimpse of a possible anime adaptation of TRAP right at the start of the first episode of this season. Maybe that is just a dream. An imagination. A what if. Supposing that is what we are to expect if TRAP ever makes it but as we know it received the chop before halfway of the series. Was that just a false alarm? Don’t count it out yet because I am expecting the sequel to pull more surprises and keep captivated like it did for the past 2 seasons. Who knows? Despite PCP looking like the perfect manga for Ashirogi to stamp their mark, perhaps TRAP will make a comeback and bring them real success with an anime adaptation. We’ll just have to wait and see. Want to make a bet that Ashirogi can do better the next round? For the record, I still suck in drawing manga. It reminds me of all the sweat, effort and time put in just to bring the story, characters and art come to life. To me it’s very daunting. That’s why I continue to do what I do best: Watch animes. Heck, that’s not even reading manga.

Miyuki-chan In Wonderland

November 23, 2012

There must have been countless of parodies of Alice In Wonderland or at least adaptations from that Lewis Carroll book. When I heard about Miyuki-chan In Wonderland, my thoughts were right when it’s supposed to be a nonsensical parody of that said book. Instead of Alice, we have this Miyuki girl. However as I read further, this series which is by CLAMP is not only nonsensical but a yuri and lesbian rendition of Alice In Wonderland. Ooohhh… WTF. Must see… The 2 OVA episodes of 15 minutes each are only based on the first 2 chapters of the manga and sees this Japanese high school girl named Miyuki being pulled into nonsensical worlds whereby scantily clad ladies want to have their way with her. Ooohhh… WTF. Must see…

Episode 1
Miyuki wakes up from an awful dream to realize she is running late for school. While making haste, a ditzy Bunny Girl on skateboard is equally rushing to somewhere because she too is late. Then they both fall down a rabbit hole. Or man hole. Wait. It’s too big to be a manhole. Miyuki wakes up in another world and sees a lady stuck to the door. She asks for Miyuki’s name and wants her to turn her knobs to enter the door. Where’s the knob? There. Where? Right over there. She has 2 of them. Oh. Making Miyuki squeeze her tits and putting her face into them, Miyuki goes through the other side and ends up in a forest whereby she meets a pair of Chinese twins, Cho Lee and To Lee. After asking her name, they simply want to fight her. Since Miyuki doesn’t possess any martial arts, she makes a run. But the twins split the ground and have her fall into the abyss. Now finding herself in a desert, she sees a pot filling up a tea cup and a message wanting her to drink. She regrets doing so because now she has shrunk to the size of an ant. Walking along, a Mad Hatter lady and her group invite her up to her leaf for drink. Though Miyuki refuses, she is brought in anyway. Miyuki wants to know where this place is so the only reply she got is “This is here”. Huh? Mad Hatter makes her drink another cup and this time she grows back to her normal size. Realizing it is night time, Miyuki is appalled she has missed school. There goes her perfect attendance record. Then popping up behind her is Cheshire Cat. Wouldn’t every guy love their Cheshire Cat to be this sexy? Meow! After being asked her name, Miyuki explains the outrageous adventure she had but Cheshire Cat is interested in Miyuki’s cuteness. She is about to pound on her when the next thing Miyuki knows, she is in a garden outside a castle. She sees a group of card ladies painting the white roses red. Seems the Queen prefers the red ones and if she finds out about this, they’ll be punished. I think those ladies are masochists because they really want to be punished by the Queen. Speaking of which, here she comes. Looks more like S&M Queen! Yeah, everybody is proclaiming it’s their fault and wants to be punished by her. Noticing Miyuki and asking her name, she will have her kneel before her! She starts cracking her whip as Miyuki makes a run deep into the dark labyrinth. With Queen hot on her heels, Miyuki sees Bunny Girl riding up next to her. But Miyuki is caught by Queen’s whip and something nasty is about to happen to her when she wakes up from this dream. What an awful dream. Then she realizes she is late for school and makes haste. While running along, a ditzy Bunny Girl on skateboard is equally rushing to somewhere. Hey wait a minute! Deja vu?! Have she seen this scene somewhere before?

Episode 2
Miyuki is brushing her hair in the mirror when she realizes that her reflection is doing a different action. Yikes! Her reflection than comes out of the mirror to pull Miyuki in. Finding herself in a weird place again, she sees a sign but soon realizes that it is the reverse for “Welcome to Mirrorland”. Suddenly a gargoyle lady flies by and takes Miyuki away. She gets freaked out that the sky is at the bottom and earth is on top. She’s not upside down, no? Noting she is yet again in a strange land, she struggles to break free and falls off. Yeah, she’s falling to the sky. Falling on to a flower field, Miyuki realizes she fell on a petite flower fairy. After getting off her, the fairy joins with her other friend to have fun. Touching each other’s body? They invite Miyuki to join in too but I think she would prefer very much to decline. Walking along the floating islands, she sees a very cute little butterfly lady. Because they could not understand each other, Miyuki heaves a sigh. Her sigh is so powerful that it blows the butterfly girl away! Oops! Then a strong gust of wind blows Miyuki off the island as she crashes down onto a chessboard. She sees a lady sitting in a cracked eggshell identifying herself as Humpty Dumpty. I guess Miyuki must have been used to it so before she could ask, she tells her own name. Humpty Dumpty wants her to play chess and has the pieces (beautiful ladies?) stepping onto the board. Her opponent will be her mirror self. Hey, that’s like playing against yourself, eh? Miyuki has to play because the loser will strip naked. As the game progresses, the funny thing is that when a piece captures another piece, the capturing piece will smack the other piece before the losing piece turns completely naked! What kind of chess is this?! Then it dawned to Miyuki that since she is playing herself, no matter who wins or lose, it will be her who will strip! The real Miyuki wins so the mirror one does not hesitate in stripping herself. Miyuki is embarrassed and tries to stop her from stripping but by this time, she is already totally naked. Also, when Miyuki tries to grab her, she falls right through and crashes through the glass, falling yet into another abyss. The next thing she knows, she is in her room. Phew. Bad dream? Whatever. Thank goodness she’s back home. Miyuki finishes brushing her hair and is about to leave. Unknown to her, her mirror’s reflection puts up a victory sign as teaser.

Miyuki-chan In What-The-Hell-Land
So what the hell? WTF is going on?! I guess this is what you should expect when things are just nonsensical. Questions like why Miyuki keeps getting pulled into weird worlds or why every girl in the strange world wants to seduce her (heck, why are they all women only?!) aren’t really answered because I don’t think you’re here to seek answers about all that. Just enjoy the mindless fun. As I found out further, there are other lands that Miyuki drops into such as mahjong and video game land and meeting even weirder ladies. Well, it will be amusing to see the hell she goes through before coming back to reality where she once started. Bad dream? Too vivid her imagination? Was it all real? Who knows. Good to know she’s back in one piece. Or so she thinks. Since this is a manga by CLAMP, I read that this Miyuki does make some cross-over cameo appearance especially in Tsubasa Chronicle. But it has been a long time since I have watched that show so I can’t really remember. There’s nothing much I can say about this show since this is a 1995 production, the animation quality is of that era so no big complaints. I think it would be great that if there were more short OVAs produced to see the nonsensical worlds Miyuki went through but since there is nothing, I guess I’ll just be content with this pair. So the next time if you see a bunny girl running next up to you, make sure you look straight ahead and lookout for that big hole not to fall in. Hey, aren’t bunny girls the kind you find at Playboy mansions or naughty adult clubs only?

Natsuiro Kiseki

November 18, 2012

Let’s see. A quiet countryside town in Shimoda. A group of cute girls as best friends. One of them is moving away so they are going to spend their last summer together. Sounds pretty normal and nothing extraordinary, eh? Well, not if you include a wishing rock. A wishing what? For Natsuiro Kiseki, the tale of friendship between four friends in a sleepy town in summer may keep many of those who wish to seek blood, violence, action and ecchi fanservice away. To spice things up, that’s why there is this ‘miracle’ in the form of wishes that a certain rock at a shrine grants that it bestows on the girls as their bonds and friendship is tested and strengthened while they spend the remaining summer together. So what kind of ‘miracles’ would you be expecting? Oh, nothing much. Except maybe flying, body magnet, body swapping, cloning, invisibility, the little ghost of your past and yes, Groundhog Day.

For many of those who are watching this series, you might have already well known that this original anime series was supposed to spearhead the J-pop idol group, Sphere. They are an all-girls group consisting of 4 seiyuus: Aki Toyosaki, Haruka Tomatsu, Ayahi Takagi and Minako Kotobuki. It’s the first time that all 4 of them will be playing a leading role in an anime together. I’m not sure if this show will be similar to AKB0048, another anime that was created and based on that gigantic and popular pop idol group (because I haven’t seen this one yet). Don’t worry. This anime series isn’t really going to be classified under a musical genre whereby you’ll hear the girls popping out into a song every 5 minutes or so. No doubt that the characters they play aspire to be idols, you’ll hear some of their songs and dance moves in between. Hey, who wouldn’t want to replicate your idol’s move? Maybe you can improvise and come up with cooler moves on your own.

Episode 1
Natsumi Aizawa, Saki Mizukoshi, Yuka Hanaki and Rinko “Rin” Tamaki are putting their hands over a big rock at the shrine as they believed if the four of them wished for the same thing, that wish will come true. One summer morning Natsumi wakes up early for her tennis club practice but she is not amused her partner Saki didn’t show up. In fact she is in class as Yuka and Rin show her a limited edition CD from an idol group called Four Seasons as this is their latest single. Natsumi comes in to class to drag Saki to the court. She mentions about not coming to practice or even the club since they are going to be the main pair in next year’s tournament. Saki tells her she’s quitting and that she can become the club president. How’s that for a bombshell? Because of that, Saki and Natsumi haven’t talked since as the latter doesn’t consider Saki her friend anymore. The next day, Saki continues her streak of not showing up for practice. Then before class starts, they are surprised to see Saki coming in with the teacher. He makes an announcement that Saki will be transferring away. Now this is a bombshell. After class, Natsumi confronts her about never telling them about moving away to the outskirts of Tokyo. Well, she wasn’t considered her friend, right? Yes, but before that? Natsumi reminds her that it was her who wanted her to join the club and that they made a promise to go to the Nationals. However Saki says she doesn’t remember making such promise and this breaks Natsumi’s heart. Actually she would rather forget a promise if she can’t fulfil it. After club practice, Natsumi gets a startling message that Yuka has collapsed at the shrine. She rushed all over there to see her lying on the big rock. To her surprise, Yuka revives! Then Saki is also seen arriving, catching her breath. Looks like it’s a ploy by Yuka and Rin to make them reconcile by wishing on the rock.

Flashback 4 years ago when Rin introduced them to this rock that could make wishes come true. Though Saki was reluctant to believe it, the rest persuaded her to try it out. They wished to become idols together and well, though they didn’t become international stars, at least they won the local kids’ singing competition. I’m not sure if the other big dreams they wished (like performing at the Budokan) came true or not. I guess not. Why would they still be here then? So Yuka’s plan was to have the duo reconcile with the rock’s help before Saki’s moving. So when they start wishing, Natsumi and Saki are surprised to hear Yuka and Rin wishing to become idols. Weren’t they supposed to wish for them to reconcile? According to her, if their dream comes true, then they’ll all be friends again. Saki isn’t amused with this crap and tells Yuka to grow up since they are already mature enough to not believe in this kind of stuff. Also to quit forcing this childhood dream stuff on her. This hurtful statement makes Yuka cry (albeit crocodile tears). A heated argument between Natsumi and Saki ensues. It is broken up when Rin notices the blue sky and as they all look up in amazement, Rin wishes she wants to fly. In that magical moment, a bright light emits from the rock and the next thing the girls know, they’re floating in the sky! Natsumi realizes it was them all who wished for this together. The quartet watch with awe the bird eye’s view of the town while thinking back about the time they won the local competition together. When they float down and touch ground, it’s like the magic had disappeared because Saki returns to her unfriendly self and leaves for home.

Episode 2
Natsumi is doing morning exercise with her little brother Daiki. When she looks up at the sky, she remembers the flying incident and spaces out. She had to be ‘brought back down to earth’ by Daiki. Similarly, Saki jumps off her bed and lands on the ground with her feet. Her mom just walked in. So it’s her fault for not knocking. Natsumi’s mom learns she is fighting with Saki and hopes they would make up quickly. Natsumi and Saki see each other when they open the window (they’re neighbours) and aren’t happy. They draw the curtains close. I guess they’re still fighting. Rin finds Yuka making a hell lot of wishes at the big rock. Be a billionaire? Be slim? Become a model? That’s one long list she got there. Well, since it didn’t come true I can conclude she’s not really wishing from the bottom of her heart ;p. So as they sit together leaning their backs against the rock, they get the same thought that if Natsumi and Saki are one, they’d be unstoppable. Suddenly the effects of the wish rings and the next thing you know, Saki and Natsumi are suddenly drawn together! Something is pulling them close together with Natsumi crashing onto Saki in her room! And stuck like a fridge magnet! They can’t pull each other apart. Natsumi thinks this is the rock’s doing though Saki doesn’t believe. But when they think if Yuka is involved, then it might be possible. Natsumi borrows Saki’s clothes so that they could go out to confront her. Saki’s parents see them stuck together and are puzzled. Weren’t they fighting? Maybe they made up. Yuka and Rin must be thinking nothing really happened. Don’t look now because here comes Natsumi and Saki. They look mad. Very mad. Rin can see what’s coming and realizing the rock made their wish came true, she takes Yuka and run!

Run and run and run throughout the town. Chase and chase and chase throughout the town. At this point I thought Natsumi and Saki would make good partners in a three-legged-race seeing how in sync they are! Not bad keeping up the chase while being bound together! Yuka and Rin manage to hide and give them the slip but that is only temporary because when the duo start arguing and blaming each other, they turned busybodies to eavesdrop and this gave away their position and the chase continues. They pass Daiki who is out with his buddies, Yuusuke and Keita. Yuusuke mentions he saw the girls flying in the sky the other day but they don’t believe him. I also believe at this point Saki and Natsumi make a pair of good hurdle jumpers! See how they jump through the obstacles with ease and in sync! Of course you can’t outrun a pair of tennis players because they’ve got stamina. They close in and Rin is really getting scared. In a desperate attempt to let Yuka get away, she jumps on them and explains about the wish. Yuka is so tired she didn’t see where she’s going and ends up cornering herself at the pier. Saki and Natsumi are going to grab her from both sides when the effects of the spell wear off and split them. This means that their momentum couldn’t make them stop in time and off the bridge they jump and into the sea. Yuka didn’t even know what’s happening. As they pick themselves up, Saki deduces that because they made up and their hearts thought of the same thing, the effect wore off. So being the true friends they are, they made up as Yuka and Rin join them. Yuka wants to go wishing on the rock but the rest would prefer to just ‘sleep’ here. Dead in the night, Yuusuke is doing research on a book on… Witches of the world?! Does he think the girls are one?

Episode 3
Daiki catches Natsumi by surprise when he asks about them flying so she panics and denies. Next day she calls her friends for an emergency meeting about somebody spotting them flying. Yuka is okay with it and in fact they should let everybody know. But Rin cautions if people know, the MIBs may kidnap and do hideous experiment on them. Wouldn’t want that, would you? Plus, Rin doesn’t want her shrine becoming a tourist attraction and likes it the sleepy way it is. Natsumi thinks they shouldn’t let everyone know this secret because she feels this is the rock’s secret gift to them. You could imagine what will happen if everybody is making a beeline just to get their wish come true. They agree to keep this rock a secret. So the problem now is Yuusuke. From what Natsumi heard from Daiki, he’s the kind of stubborn boy. Oh, and to return yesterday’s favour, Natsumi and Saki wish for Yuka and Rin to be stuck together. And they really got stuck like fridge magnets. But unlike them, they don’t really have sync. Have a nice day. They try to wish to undone themselves but it’s not working. Maybe you can’t wish another wish away? Yuusuke continues to persuade Daiki and Keita what he saw was real. He went on to explain about witches. In short, he thinks his sister is a descendent of a witch! Keita is not amused and pushes him down. Yuka and Rin help out cleaning Yuka’s inn that her mother runs. She thought it was nice of Rin to help but she says they’re stuck at the hips. She interprets that as being very good friends. See? How can people believe they flew? Yuka suggest shirking their duties and they almost come into Takashi Sano delivering stuff to the kitchen. They hide and Rin senses Yuka’s body reaction for this guy. Yuusuke is outside Daiki’s house but decides to not go in. Then she sees Saki leaving and tails her. Of course she knows and lures him in to scare him. It got a little too far because he tripped and fell. Feeling guilty, Saki helps get some anti-septic for his wounds since her parents work in a hospital nearby. Yuusuke is straight to ask if she is a witch because he saw them flying from his hideout base. Of course she denies. Then walking along, she learns he might be seeing things or just dreaming. He wanted to apologize to Daiki but couldn’t bring himself to it seeing he can’t get that flying image out of his mind.

Yuka and Rin escape and meet Daiki. They learn he and Yuusuke are fighting. But it’s not the part he called his sister a witch that he’s upset about. It’s because he lied like that. Sure he may be an occult freak but he’s not the type to lie. Yuka tells to believe in him then because they’re friends. But flying? Well, when it comes down to friends and common sense, she’d choose the former. Rin agrees and in that instant, the magnetic effect comes undone. So the girls meet up and wonder how they should make the boys reconcile. Yuka thinks they should just show them that they fly and this will make Yuusuke not a liar. Natsumi isn’t happy with this plan since she doesn’t want to be labelled a witch. Saki says she’ll play the witch’s role and just made the trio fly. It’ll work since she’ll be moving away soon and won’t have any problems if they promise to keep it a secret. She feels bad for Yuusuke trying to convince himself he is just dreaming. That night when Yuusuke finishes his tuition class, Saki pops up and admits she is a witch and sometimes takes her friends flying. She can demonstrate flying if he promises to keep it a secret and to meet 2 days at the same spot where he saw them. If he wants to, he can bring a friend. Yuusuke is up to it. On that day, I guess to look like the part, the girls dress Saki in a witch’s outfit. Yuusuke brings Daiki, happy to make him believe what he saw. When the girls start wishing on the rock, nothing happens. Saki starts to panic and grows desperate. They’re not flying. Saki rushes to Yuusuke and is disheartened to see his disappointed face. In tears, she apologizes and explains she is leaving this town soon and the reason she did this was to have them make up. Yuusuke just says goodbye and continue his trudge. She felt sad that she couldn’t do anything but Natsumi says on the contrary to leave it to Daiki. He’ll know what to do. Daiki runs up to Yuusuke’s side and starts ‘banging’ into him. He does the same. In no time, the boys are back on good terms. In the end though Daiki couldn’t see how his sister can pull off that flying feat. But he is grateful that he is able to make up with Yuusuke and writes in his picture diary that he thought today it wouldn’t be strange to see girls fly.

Episode 4
Yuka wakes up morning and waltzes into the kitchen. She really wakes up when she sees Takashi there. I think she’s panicking. Yeah, she’s hiding. Huh? So they sit down and chat and Takashi asks when Saki is moving. Yuka talks to Rin about this and as explained, Takashi is Yuka’s cousin and she really likes him. However as we see it, he may have feelings for Saki. Yuka wished how she was more like Saki. Oh, guess what? Next thing she knows, a tennis ball comes flying straight into her face! Yuka realizes she is in Saki’s body! She’s bloody happy about it. This means Saki is in Yuka’s body, right? Yeah, she’s not happy that troublemaker did something again. Oh, pity Rin… This is worse than body magnet, eh? Even though Yuka is Saki, she is still nervous trying to talk to Takashi. To the point it looks unnatural. Anyway she manages to get permission to text him. Of course Natsumi doesn’t approve of her plan to date him because she doesn’t need to pretend to be Saki. Yuka plays psychology on Natsumi’s mind asking her if there is somebody she likes to be. Say, a certain idol in Four Seasons? Sounds pretty good, right? And with Saki (remember, in Yuka’s body) just coming in, I guess it was a short-lived dream, eh? So the quartet are at the rock and are going to wish for things to return to normal. Didn’t work. Sure Yuka isn’t sabotaging this? Wish harder. Harder! HARDER! Well, Saki and Yuka didn’t switch back but… Natsumi and Rinko switched bodies!!! Confused who is who now? Rin’s mother comes by and not wanting her to find out about the rock or confusion, Natsumi (in Rin’s body goes with her). That’s when Yuka gets the much anticipated text from Takashi asking her out tomorrow. To avoid suspicion, the girls stay at the respective homes based on the appearance of their outer bodies. Like Saki helping out with Yuka’s chores at the inn and she finds her body really unfit to do stuffs. In her room, she notices Yuka never changed since her room is filled with posters of Four Seasons. Then she gets a text from Yuka saying how she’ll be going out on a date with Takashi at the aquarium tomorrow and that they’ll switch back after her dream comes true. So hang in there. Must be the worst news Saki ever heard.

So the next morning, Saki and Natsumi desperately ring the doorbell to get sleepyhead Rin to stop Yuka’s plan. Too bad they missed the bus. But since she’s desperate, they’ll run there if they have to. Yuka’s body is so unfit, you know… So Yuka in Saki’s body is having the time of her life. She is able to get close to him. Her friends made it to the aquarium and look like stalkers spying on the couple. Yuka is adamant to prevent any untoward incidents. Like kissing. Don’t want somebody to do it with her body, eh? So Takashi and Yuka had fun the entire day at the aquarium. She brings up the topic of calling her by her first name. However she realizes he sees her as Saki and wants him to call her that. She starts crying. Takashi did just that and put his hands on her shoulders. Yuka confirms in this heart breaking moment that it is Saki whom Takashi likes. Then surprisingly it is Rin who pops up and brings Yuka away. Takashi is confused because, well, Yuka is Saki? Rin is Natsumi? Who? What? Outside, Rin makes Yuka feel better and at this point, the magic wears off and the girls return to their original bodies. Saki texts to Takashi that thanks to Yuka, this will be good memories and to take care. I guess that means she rejected him. Yuka jokes she’ll never be Saki but the rest say Yuka will always be Yuka. Then they race each other to the convenience store and the last one buys their drinks. Not fair! Yuka is so unfit… Get ready to pay!

Episode 5
Yuka is not happy that the store messed up her order of a Four Seasons’ poster. Yeah, she’s making a hell of a fuss that she’s probably the only fan in Japan who couldn’t get it. Cool it, cool it. The correct poster should arrive tomorrow. Yuka laments happening things are at Tokyo and maybe she could go live there. She asks Rin where she would like to live. Anywhere as long as it is with her. Next morning, Rin gets sick and couldn’t accompany Yuka to get her poster. She starts seeing visions of a whale swimming in the air! Yuka makes her way to her place and takes care of her since her parents are out for a committee meeting. She thinks of calling Natsumi and Saki to wish away her sickness at the rock but Rin doesn’t want to. Natsumi and Saki are practising their tennis when their seniors, Asano and Ishida tell them they have arranged a practice match with the team they lost to last year, Shibata and Mizuno. It’ll be good for them since it’ll be the last time they’ll play as a pair before Saki moves. Later they get a text about Rin’s sickness. They thought of visiting but they better leave her alone so she can rest better. They wonder if she could see that whale. As explained, Rin always sees a whale swimming whenever she gets sick. Yuka remembers the first time she did that back in kindergarten whereby she stood up and pointed up to the ceiling at a swimming whale that nobody else could see. Yuka and Rin watch a video of one of Four Seasons’ live concert and talk about the four of them always wanted and dreamt to be just like those idols and practised dancing. The next day, Rin is all better but Yuka catches her sickness! Rin meets up with Natsumi and Saki and they are amused because they thought idiots do not catch a cold. Rin wanted to visit her but the rest thought she shouldn’t risk catching the sickness again. The trio spend time together but it just doesn’t feel the same. Yeah, the clown of the group isn’t with them. Rin goes to the store not to pick up the poster but just to assure it is there so that she could go pick it up with Yuka another day.

Next day, the trio visit Yuka but her sister says she’s being ‘quarantined’. That bad, huh? It’s been four days… They are worried and talk about Yuka, the girl whom they always think of when something crazy happens and the one who is always thinking about them. Rin narrates when she first transferred here, everybody thought she was weird. The kids thought she was a liar when she pointed out a swimming whale in class. But Yuka defended her by saying she could see them too with Natsumi and Saki coming to her aid. In no time, that’s when the quartet became close friends ever since. They also found out that they all love Four Seasons, which was quite popular then. Then it hit them. They want to spend every moment with each other before Saki moves and rush to the rock to wish for Yuka’s sickness to go away. The less sick time she has, the more time they can spend together. At the rock, Rin hopes to keep this a secret since when she was sick, she refused this. Before they could make their wish, Yuka pops up. She’s healthier than ever. Seems when she got sick, her sister went overboard and took extreme measures not to spread the germs to guests by quarantine her and even took away her handphone (that’s why her friends didn’t hear any reply from her). Rin is so happy that she is brought to tears and hugs her. As they leave, Yuko cheekily comments she is glad to have stopped them or else they might have wished for something crazy. Look who is the one to talk! Then they all see the cloud shape of a whale in the sky. But I’m not sure if they really see it swimming like how Rin does.

Episode 6
Yuka and Rin are doing their summer homework while Natsumi and Saki are practising hard on their tennis for their match with Shibata-Mizuno pair. Of course when Yuka’s mother requests to help out with the inn, this gives Yuka an excuse to escape. Natsumi tires out at the end of the match with Asano and Ishida because the seniors seem to be hitting to her. Unlike Saki’s ball, her returns feel honest and easy to hit back. Yuka and Rin pick their friends up so that they could finish their homework together. But halfway Yuka changes her mind and wants to go karaoke as practice for a singing competition. Natsumi wants to sit this one out since her mom is away and needs to cook for Daiki. Oh God. Look at Yuka’s face. Seems like she has conjured up some sneaky plan again. And I bet it has something to do with the rock. Natsumi back home ponders about her seniors’ words. Daiki comes into the bath and is not amused big sister is taking a bath again. Huh? What? Natsumi leaves the bathroom but is puzzled her clothes are missing. Going back to her room, she is shocked to see herself! OMG! Two Natsumis! Twin?! Clone?! So she furiously calls Saki over. Can’t believe your eyes, eh? Yeah, I can’t tell which the real one is either. Both Natsumis question each other as they claim they are the real one. How can you beat yourself asking questions you yourself know? I guess this proves they’re both real, eh? Better keep it down or else Daiki may suspect and freak out. Which almost happened… So of course Natsumi calls Yuka and knows she is the main culprit but she can’t answer the phone as she is busy helping out with the inn. Can’t escape this time, eh?

But having two of herself is also good because while one is practising tennis, the other goes to complete her homework. The tennis Natsumi seems to be making more errors because she’s trying to change the way she hits the ball. Can she do it in a day before the practice match? Soon Saki leaves to help complete the homework and the tennis Natsumi practises by herself. That night after bath, the tennis Natsumi went to bed seeing she’s tired out after practice. The other Natsumi calls Saki to discuss about the way she plays tennis and to come up with a strategy. Next morning, this Natsumi realizes she has overslept and rushes all the way to school. The practice match has already begun and Natsumi is still making lots of errors. Watching Natsumi realizes she is just thinking about hitting the ball past the other team and not the game. She wants to go over there and tell her but her friends warn this might freak out the other people. Eventually Natsumi can’t stand her horrendous play and yells out how dumb she is. As this distracts everyone, the watching Natsumi suddenly disappears and back into the one playing tennis, leaving only her clothes behind. Feels good to be back as one, eh? Yeah, I don’t know how Yuka is going to fool the others of this ‘trick’. With both Natsumis combined, she could see a clearer picture of everything and wants to put that tactic she discussed with Saki to play. Though they clawed their way back, it wasn’t enough to bring them victory. But the seniors and opponents are impressed and had fun playing them. Shibata and Mizuno would gladly play them again. That night the quartet visit the Obon festival and write their wishes on glass lanterns. Yuka still wishes for them to become idols and cheekily says one don’t usually experience splitting into 2 every day. Natsumi hits back maybe she should wish for her to be an animal. Rin thought that sounded like fun. She doesn’t mind being a wombat. Wombat?

Episode 7
The girls are practising their moves for the singing competition which is part of the Taikobashi festival. However Yuka keeps making mistakes so Natsumi wonders if she really did practice. Well, she did watch the videos. Isn’t that totally different? Unfazed, Yuka even thinks if worse comes to worst, they could just wish on the rock. Natsumi is not amused in that kind of cheating. Because of that, Natsumi and Yuka’s relationship strained a little and aren’t on talking terms. Later Rin suggests to Yuka that she practises at her place so that she could surprise Natsumi and Saki when she gets it down perfectly. Initially she thought of doing it at Yuka’s place but this is the busiest time of the year at her inn. Yeah, an excuse not to help out. Then Yuka realized something. She forgot her uniform for the competition! Thus she sneaks back into her room to get them. She gets spotted by her sister and makes a run! Takashi thought Yuka was really helping out with the errands but when he sees her sister chasing her, he realizes it’s the same old thing year after year. Yeah, Yuka is always missing at this point of time. The boggling part is that the unfit Yuka could outrun her big sister! It either shows how desperate Yuka is or big sister was just more unfit. Ironically she’s been working hard at the inn despite not doing any hard labour but really, she lost Yuka and is really catching hard her breath. Yuka is equally exhausted but at least she’s safe. Meanwhile Saki helps Natsumi put on the uniform and Saki notes how she never even thought of entering this competition when summer started. She believes this is going to be a wonderful memory. Then they reminisce about the time when they played water balloons. Yuka was always the first to run because she doesn’t want to get wet. And when she returned with a bigger water balloon for the enemy, she tripped and splashed it all over her friends. Own goal, I’d say.

Yuka is at Rin’s place watching DVDs of Four Seasons’ live concert and ready to practice some moves when it starts to rain heavily. Though the festival continues into the downpour Natsumi remembers a big clause on the poster of the singing competition. If it rains, the competition will be cancelled. Oh no. Will this be good news for Yuka as she doesn’t have to practice anymore? Rin wants to wish on the rock to stop the rain. While at it, Yuka thought they should also wish to win the competition. However Rin doesn’t want that because she wants to really win it with them on their own. That way it’ll be the best memories. Rin’s mom knows her daughter and friends are in a singing competition and lets them know of a way to stop the rain. Natsumi and Saki also have the same idea of stopping the rain as they rush down to the rock. However Natsumi still has her doubts and her heart undecided. Suddenly the rain stops and the sky clears up. Thinking it’s Yuka and Rin’s doing, they make haste and see the duo by the rock. So the singing competition resumes and the quartet strut their stuff on stage. In the end, they won first place. As Yuka brags about their big dream and first step to become real idols, Natsumi and Saki ask Rin if they really wished on the rock to stop the rain. That’s only half true. While Rin acknowledges she did want the rain to stop, she didn’t wish on the rock. Her mom thought her how to make teruterubozus (symbolizing themselves) and when they wished for it, the rain just went away. Miracle or coincidence? You decide. And Yuka continues to rant away about passing their next audition to debut as real idols. I know it’s good to dream big…

Episode 8
The friends plan for a trip. Bali? Can they afford that? Okinawa? Rin’s afraid of planes. Hokkaido? But Saki isn’t in the mood for trips. She’s moving, right? Natsumi suggests they go to Tokyo to see where she’ll move. However Saki says her place isn’t really in Tokyo itself but Miyakejima, an island that will take 11 hours by boat from the mainland! Saki has this dream whereby her friends interact with each other in class like as though she doesn’t exist anymore. Feels scary, huh? So the friends buy swimsuits and pack their stuffs ready for the big trip. Rin’s bag is the smallest since mom advises her in travelling light. While Natsumi and Saki’s bag are considerably of reasonable size, Yuka’s luggage… I thought she was eloping! Haha! They sit the train to Tokyo and like the country bumpkins they are, get awed by the majestic sight of Tokyo Tower. Then the board the ship towards the island. Putting their bags down, they go explore the ship. Yuka as usual being her cheeky self while Natsumi, I don’t know she’s afraid of ghosts. So if you’re wondering why Yuka needs a damn big bag, behold! She brought snacks! Saki didn’t want it but Yuka pesters her so she gives into the temptation. As the night is still young, Yuka suggests doing things that school field trips usually do. Pillow fights? Rejected. Kimodameshi (test of courage)? Not for Natsumi. Love story? Okay, they’ll go with that but Saki and Natsumi say they don’t have any particular person they like. Really? More junk in Yuka’s bag because she brought games. However the announcer says the lights will be put out soon and that the waves will be a little choppy. Out the light goes and Yuka scares Natsumi by using the light of her handphone against her face! Like a ghost! I hope they don’t bother the other passengers. Yuka shows them a pack of balloons she found while looking for her swimsuit. Brings back memories of their water balloon fight. Suddenly Yuka feels seasick! She’s going to hurl! Can she hold on?! CAN SHE?! I’m not sure what happened next. Anyway Saki gets this weird dream that again her pals are interacting in class as though she was never there. Come morning, Natsumi notices Saki has been gloomy ever since they left Shimoda. She asks if she really wants to move. Her parents could move while she stays behind and live at her place. Saki says there is nothing she can do about it since it’s her dad’s dream to work in a hospital on an island. Natsumi is upset that she gives up easily without trying. If she can’t tell her dad that she doesn’t want to move, she’ll tell him herself instead. Once they reach Miyakejima, the first thing Yuka did was to rush and swim in the ocean! She got what she deserved because without warming up, her leg got cramped and is drowning. If not for the local kid dragging her out, it could’ve been fatal. The girls thank and apologize for the incident but he is not amused and says that’s why he hates people from the mainland.

Episode 9
The girls make their way to the inn and pass by the school Saki will be schooling in. At the inn, they are surprised to see that local kid greeting them. But wait! Now that kid has got humungous boobs! As explained, she is Chiharu Okiyama and the kid they met is her younger twin Koharu. Upon knowing they are from Shimoda, Chiharu gets excited because they know a doctor from there. Not only that, everybody on this island knows Saki’s father. They are happy things will get much better with him around. News spread like wildfire as the other kids soon come knocking on their door wanting to meet the doctor’s daughter. Natsumi is not amused they’re treating Saki like an exhibit and takes her and run to the hotspring where Yuka and Rin are dipping. Saki seems to be a little dizzy from staying in the water and this has her friends panic. She’s nose bleeding too! Koharu heard a commotion and opened the door. Of course the girls get embarrassed and Natsumi throws the bucket, straight into that kid’s face! Total knockout! However they realize Saki is missing. Actually she isn’t missing. She turned invisible! Gosh! How did that happen? They can see or hear her! At least she can write to communicate. Rin points out the familiar looking rock in the middle of the hotspring may be a cousin to the wishing rock back home. Rocks have cousins? But we did saw the effect when the girls somewhat made a wish. Chiharu comes to see what’s wrong and finds Koharu out cold. Natsumi says Koharu tried to be a peeping tom. Chiharu clears the air that Koharu is a girl. EEEEHHHH???!!! Well, she is her younger twin sister but how come the disparaging difference in boob size?! I don’t know how but Saki continues to join her friends albeit being invisible, she writes down whenever she needs to say something. But the most mind boggling part is that she’s walking around naked! I know putting on clothes will freak others out thinking there’s a ghost but really, doesn’t she feel cold or hot naked in 2/3 of the episode? That night when the visible trio can’t sleep. They discuss why Saki turned invisible and shouldn’t she turn back upon realizing Koharu is a girl. But more importantly, Rin can tell Saki doesn’t know what to do. Natsumi knows she doesn’t want to move and Saki won’t say it. She mentions about wanting her to stay but Yuka tries to reason that she can’t keep Saki for herself forever and it’s not like she’ll be gone forever and can visit her whenever they want. Yeah, how long did it take them from Shimoda to Miyakejima? It won’t be the same anymore knowing Saki won’t be at her window each time she looks out hers. So being invisible has its good points too. Saki heard it all without raising any alarm.

Next day Chiharu wants to take them tour the island but can’t help where Saki is. She went for a walk. I’m sure they’ll be running out of excuses of her no-show. Anyway Saki wants them to go and she’ll tag along invisibly. Thus the girls visit several places on the island and all the islanders are friendly. Some even mistook Natsumi as the doctor’s daughter. Yeah, they really love to see him. They want to see where Saki’s father’s clinic is and though it’ll be near their inn, it’s a long way from where they are now and Chiharu calls a taxi.  Oh no. To avoid suspicions, Saki sits on Yuka’s lap. So heavy… Oops. The girls are thrilled with the simple clinic when Koharu barges in and doesn’t want them to touch anything because they’re outsiders. Chiharu explains there once used to be an old doctor here but he got too old to work and has retired to live with his son in the main island. But they’ve got a replacement in one of his former students, which is Saki’s dad to continue to take care of things. Koharu is sad because the old doctor was here before he was born. He thought him everything and promised he could take care of everyone. He is sad that won’t happened anymore (I guess he overworked and had to retire). But what Koharu doesn’t get is why everyone doesn’t feel sad about the old doctor’s departure. Chiharu of course tells him everyone is sad and it’s hard to say goodbye but hopes the new doctor is as good as they say. Natsumi assures them Saki’s father is a good doctor because he is her friend’s dad. Chiharu takes them to a final place. A classroom in school whereby it is a panorama scenic view of the ocean. At that point, Saki turns visible. Still naked! Thankfully Natsumi has brought extra clothes with her. Then they have Saki practise a mock self introduction and Koharu makes up with her. The next day, the girls depart from the island and are glad they came here. They plan their next trip since they don’t have much time before Saki moves. Where does she want to go next? Anywhere as long as it is with them.

Episode 10
While looking through the photo albums, Saki is surprised to see a cute photo of herself sleeping. Guess who took that photo? Yuka is going to get it! Because there’ll be a typhoon today, the girls remember there was once they went out to play and couldn’t get home due to it. They don’t really know whose fault was it because on that day Natsumi wanted to go explore a haunted hotel, Saki fought with some punks, Rinko got lost and they went looking for her. Something like that. Since they can’t remember exactly, they wish upon the rock. Do they remember anything? Well, Yuka remembers she hasn’t done her homework yet! After they leave, the effect of the wish from the rock is seen. Back home, Natsumi is surprised to see her younger version of herself rushing out. Is she seeing things? Apparently not. Saki is in confrontation of her mini self. This little girl is feisty because she takes out her nunchukus and whacks big Saki and sprayed pepper spray all over her face, chasing her out of her own house! Even Yuka and Rin got a surprise when their mini twins ran pass them. Yuka’s mom thought it was Rin’s cousin who looked very much like her when she’s young. Oh, you don’t know… The big girls realize the mini girls are them from 4 years ago because they wished to remember what happened that day. The problem is that they don’t know this is 4 years later! But it won’t ring any alarm bells because this place didn’t change much in the past 4 years. So the big girls tail the mini girls (to find out who gets the most blame) and they start to remember bits of it. Seems Natsumi then wanted to go ghost hunting and decided to do so at this rumoured abandoned hotel and brought weapons. Including talisman. But of course. Both sides almost ran into Natsumi’s mother but manage to give her the slip. Then they remember a typhoon on this day. Bits of memories had them remember they’ll be alright because ghosts saved them. Say what?! But ghosts don’t exist, right? That’s why they need to follow them and find out the truth. As the mini girls walk through the dark corridors, they freak out upon seeing a ghost! Actually it’s big Rin. They run away but mini Rin trips and got separated from the rest. Big Rin tries to calm her down and say she is her but she’s too busy throwing ineffective talisman. Oh wait, they aren’t. Handmade tickets? Soon both sides of the girls reunite but the mini girls own their big counterparts by attacking them with weapons! How embarrassing! Big Saki got hit but mini Saki’s nunchukus again. Yuka launches a plastic bottle missile. Enough to send the big ones retreating and got locked in a room! Way to go! Mini girls rock!

Inside the room, big Rin remembers why she came here. Seems there is a stage at a corner of this room. They remember after winning their first singing competition, they were filled with confidence. Rin even made handmade tickets in anticipation of their own concert. At the rock, they think they need 4 years of practice and take lessons before they can debut. They wonder how they’ll be like in 4 years time and Yuka suggested this stage corner at the hotel. Unknowingly, they set off the wishing effect of the rock. So now 4 years down the road, the big girls gather on stage to sing their song. The mini girls heard the good singing. Since the typhoon is building up, both sides decide to head back. But the big girls remember their younger selves took the dangerous road by the ocean. True enough, they are holding on to the edge while the violent waves threaten to drag them in. Mini Natsumi has no strength to pull them up when the big ones arrive and pull them all to safety. As they take shelter at the bus stop, they thank their counterparts and mini Saki thinks she has figured out who they are (Four Season?). Big Saki hushes her and says she’ll know one day but not right now. Then the big girls disappear before their eyes! What does this mean? They’re ghosts! WARGH!!! So this is how Natsumi got scared of ghosts. But those ghosts were really good at singing. Then the girls notice they have received many miscalls from their worried parents. They rush home and each got a very good ticking off from their parents. So back to our big girls, they actually didn’t disappear. They just went back to their time so I think from their perspective the little ones are the ones who ‘disappeared’. Rin mentions she was serious of wanting to become like Four Seasons and Yuka shows them the application form for the audition she’s got. Seems they got through the selections. Wow that’s great. Yuka notes it’ll be their last memory together.

Episode 11
Today is the day the girls will depart for Tokyo for their audition. Are you ready?! Yeah, they’ve been practising hard since. Even Yuka. So ARE YOU READY?! Since they arrive early, Yuka suggests they practice. Wait. This coming from Yuka? Unbelievable. She even suggests minor changes to some parts. At the end of their practice, the park goers applause their wonderful do. Inside the audition building, the girls are amazed to see so many audition hopefuls. Yuka accidentally bumps into a girl and though she apologizes, the girl remains cold, unfriendly and worse, ignored her. Suddenly something overcame Yuka. She’s starting to feel the pressure and wants to chicken out! For real! Her friends calm her and give her encouragement. Think back to the things they did all summer. This would be just another one of those crazy days. As they wait for their turn, the obnoxious girl came out from the audition room and loudly breaks down into tears! Gosh. I know she didn’t pass but this is sure demoralizing for the others. Soon the quartet is next and the judges ask them a series of questions. Man, it felt like an interview to get a job or into college! From their personal life to what they did for this audition. Then the final question, what happens if only one of them passed. Yuka panics but Saki and Rin were calm and answered confidently they will congratulate her and keep on practising for the next audition so she could keep up with her. I’m not sure if acting is part of the ‘interview’ but it finally gets down to the dance part. The practice pays off but Yuka slips and falls, though she manages to get back on her feet.

In the aftermath, Yuka is near inconsolable. She regrets not practising enough (see how now?). Not even consoling from her friends could do justice. Though this isn’t going to be their last chance whatsoever, Yuka says Saki will already be transferred out before the next time. That’s why if they passed this audition and become idols, they could be with Saki forever. That’s why she even wished on the rock that all 4 of them could become idols together. So no use crying over spilt milk now. What’s done is done. The girls go sightseeing and reminisce the things they did for summer. Don’t remind about the homework, okay. But reality soon hits them especially Natsumi because the topic shifts to Saki’s transfer and it’s getting imminent. She feels sad because the scenery from her room window will be different. Despite Yuka’s suggestion of modern technology like airplane and handphone connecting everybody together, but it’s just not the same. Natsumi wishes summer vacation will never end. Leave it to Yuka to lighten up everybody’s mood. Since when did Saki become their visuals leader? After taking a bath at the inn, Natsumi catches fever. It’s probably the tiredness catching up to her. As she rests in her bed, Natsumi really doesn’t want Saki to go. Is that the fever talking? She really wished this summer would go on forever and ever. Next morning when she wakes up, she is feeling fine but is puzzled she is back in her own room. Then she gets a panic call from Yuka that today is the audition day! And something about yesterday is today and today become yesterday. So which day is it? Well, checking their schedule, today indeed is the audition day. Gone back in time? Just a dream? Or they screw up their schedule somewhere.

Episode 12
So the girls gather preparing to head for Tokyo and ponder what happened. Rin thinks today is the second day of yesterday because her mother said a different sentence when she left home compared to yesterday. Yuka takes this as another chance to do better at the audition. It’s like they’ve been given another shot. However… History repeated itself. Not exactly. While Yuka didn’t slip this time, she forgot her moves. That regret feeling again… Then they pass by a shrine where they talked ‘yesterday’ and realize there is a similar rock nearby! Rin says it’s another one of its cousin? How many cousins does this rock have? Lots, apparently. Although they didn’t touch this rock, there is a notice that says all other rocks in this shrine are cut from this one. Well, that explains how their wish came true. Now the question is what they wished for. Think, think and think… Then they realize, they wished for an endless summer. Next morning. Natsumi opens her eyes. Back in her room. So it’s confirmed. It’s going to be Groundhog Day. I guess when you’re going to repeat the same day all over again, might as well do something different, eh? So Yuka suggests going to the beach to relief stress, among the many more other activities they’ll be doing throughout the same day. Longest day ever. Haha. Rin and Natsumi’s mother meet up and talk about things. When Natsumi’s mom mentions her daughter saying that this audition is their last memory with Saki this summer, Rin’s mom notes she’s been feeling something that’s been bothering her for a while. So the loop continues. They have fun every day. Till one morning Rin’s mom asks Rin before her departure, “When are you four coming back?”. So the girls know they can’t leave things as it is now and need to end the wish. They can’t cancel or overwrite their wish, so how? Yuka suggests going to the audition since if they don’t have anything more to do, the wish will end. Guess what? Finally Yuka got all her moves right and perfect! Wow! Practice do make perfect. Many loops for Yuka’s case. At the inn, the girls try to stay up past midnight to see what happens. When the clock strikes 12, it’s like somebody hit the big rewind button and before Natsumi knows it, she’s wide awake back on her own bed at home. So unreal, eh?

The girls hurry to the rock as Rin has figured things out. They need to end everything. Say goodbye to the miracle the rock gave them. That is what her mother meant by ‘coming home’. The girls get ready to make that wish but Natsumi seems reluctant because she feels kind of sad. But as Saki puts it, if they don’t end it, it won’t be a memory. Thanks to them, this has been an amazing summer. Thus when the girls wish goodbye to the miracle, a little impact blows them off their feet. To find out if it really worked, they’ll need to wait till the day ends. So when the sun is up, the girls prepare to leave for the audition in Tokyo and this time Rin’s mom says to come home soon. So the audition, the sightseeing (I wonder how many times they’ve been awed by the Skytree. It’s kinda funny), Natsumi’s fever. Everything that happened before happens again. Now it’s the moment of truth. Next morning when Natsumi opens her eyes, she finds herself sleeping with her friends at the inn. Hooray! Time is back on track! With that, their summer vacation miracle ended. The girls return to Shimoda to help clean Saki’s house and pack her stuffs. Gathering one last time at the rock, though it’s a shame they didn’t pass the audition, they note they can always go for another try. As narrated the rock doesn’t grant them anymore miracles but the quartet aren’t wishing for a miracle this time. It’s a wish that they’ll all stay as best friends forever. I think that wish has always been true.

This 7-minute OVA of course came with the DVD. It is just an epilogue about the four friends getting together again after 4 years at the big rock. Don’t expect to see any miracles here as this is just all talk and nothing more. With Saki returning to Shimoda, the friends catch up on the developments among each other. Seems Yuka has become a TV idol with lots of fans to boot (as mentioned she passed a major audition 2 years ago but it brought back horrifying memories Yuka doesn’t want to remember), Natsumi herself is popular enough to have admirers from both side of the gender at high school, Saki thinks of becoming a doctor after watching her dad treat patients and felt she wanted to do something in this line, Rin wants to study folklore to go chasing mysteries around the globe (thanks to the mysteries of the wishing rock that spurred her interest), Natsumi still doesn’t have plans for her future despite mom advising her to go to college, if that’s the case Yuka suggests Natsumi to be an idol to pay her college fees, Rin got an honourable mention from a novel she submitted using themselves as the main characters based on their adventures 4 years ago and Yuka suggests that all 4 of them could go on TV since her producer did mention about that. That way, she thinks it will lead them to become an idol unit. Rin notes that they haven’t wished on the big rock since but wonders if it will grant anything else. Rin sends Saki the manuscript for her book. Guess what the title is? Yup. Summer Coloured Miracle.

Friends For All Seasons
Yeah, it was nice end. It was fun seeing the girls hang out with each other and the little ‘sci-fi’ events made each episode a little more interesting to watch. Despite the ‘troubles’ that they went through with the wish, you can say that it was good experience. I mean, how often do you get to swap bodies, turn invisible or stick onto each other’s body and give a new meaning to friendship of sticking with each other no matter what. Yeah, nothing can pry us apart. And I mean absolutely nothing. Heh. It was also good experience in the sense that the girls get to spend their last summer vacation together in a very meaningful way. Because a friend of theirs will be transferring out and they can’t see her as often as they want to, it’s like they will have to spend summer in a way as though it is their last day on Earth. Live life to the fullest. That I think is what the subtle meaning of this show is about. Cherish your friendship for good friends are hard to find. Though one can go on and make new friends and it is good to have many more friends but those you have made first and been with since the early days of your childhood, those kind of friends hold special meaning and bond for the rest of your life. Thus if Saki was never going to transfer away, it would have been another boring summer doing the usual things, nothing out of the ordinary. Therefore the girls are forced to think how to spend each day to the fullest while making up, burying the hatchet and leaving behind no regrets. Then you move on.

Of course when you are having fun doing the things you like with the people you love, you would want this time to stop and sometimes to go on like this forever. However as we have seen in the final episode, we can learn a special lesson from the endless loop. No doubt that we see the girls have fun all the way and the way they wanted it. But when you have too much of something, the meaning behind it all is lost. It dilutes that special feeling of why you want to do something so much in the first place. Imagine this. If the Olympics were held twice every year instead once every 4 years, the event won’t feel exclusive anymore because it’s being held too often. The competitiveness to strive to do one’s best is lesser because if you don’t win the gold this time round, you can wait in the next, say, 6 months instead of 4 years. Therefore when Natsumi was reluctant to have this special time together stopped, Saki was right to say it only becomes special and dear in your heart once it becomes memories. It is because she feels sad, happy, fun, irritated, wanting and more because she knows she won’t get to do all that as frequent again. The more intense those nostalgic feelings are, the more precious it shows those feelings and memories are. It is proof that they have lived, done all that and how much they loved each other. Side note: I thought for the Groundhog Day arc, it brought back terrifying memories of Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu’s Endless Eight arc. Thankfully we viewers don’t have to go through all that repeating crap again. Thousands of times! I wonder how many times the girls lived through the same day. For a person like Yuka, she can have the same fun thousands of times and still not get bored.

I guess in every group, you need to have the ‘troublemaker’ or the lively and hyperactive one and Yuka definitely fits this bill. Without her, the gang wouldn’t be as fun and dynamic because of her crazy ideas. She’s the kind of person that leaps before she thinks. Always putting on a cheery face and her joyful exterior may lead others to think she’s kind of a resident airhead, she wants to have fun rather than work hard (her absence streak at her inn during busy or non-busy periods is absolute proof). She isn’t perfect though. The part where she chickened out for real shows that she really cracks under pressure. Some may say she’s just all talk and no essence. I mean, she is the one who talks and dreams big of becoming an idol, but when faced with the real situation, it’s like she’ll feels her life is too big to handle such a big destiny. Despite getting her friends into trouble with some of her crazy wishes and no-brainer comments, she is the one that glues them all together. You can’t hate this girl. Sometimes she says the right things, sometimes she says the wrong things but it tugs your heart. Side note: If Yuka is the most unfit among the girls, where did she get so much energy in being cheeky and always wanting to have fun? Maybe it’s like having a different stomach for dessert. She has different energy storing for different activities she wants to do. Rin feels like a dreamer girl because of her monotonous expression. If not, the way she speaks does make her sound tired as though she doesn’t have enough sleep. Speaking of which, she did admit she’s a heavy sleeper and will need 5 alarm clocks to wake up if she ever becomes a busy idol. With this fact that among the girls she is somewhat a little mysterious because you don’t really know what she is thinking. I mean, how many people you know could see ‘whales’ when they become sick? At least I don’t see demons. Touch wood! In the eyes of others, the way she acts may be deemed ‘slow’ and a weirdo but that’s why it’s good she has friends like Yuka and co who see pass her exterior. Tomboyish and stubborn Natsumi is a responsible girl while Saki may look like a composed and cool beauty, deep down she’s also a passionate girl. She just doesn’t express as much (and honest) as Yuka.

Since the series focuses on the quartet, sometimes I’ve been wondering about the other minor characters. So what happened to Takashi? I mean, he still continues to deliver stuffs to Yuka’s inn but what I meant was about the love relationship. No doubt Saki ended it by rejecting him but does that mean he is okay and accepted it? What about Yuka? I am sure that she still harbours feelings for him unless she too has given up hope that he will never look at her as another woman and will be just as far as his cousin. After that failed ploy to have Yuusuke and Daiki make up, does Yuusuke still believe Saki is a witch? I mean, as an occult freak, you can’t just give up after one failure and no-show, right? Perhaps the most important part is that he and Daiki became friends again. Whether his sister’s friend is a witch or magical girl, it’s better to believe in the magic of friendship. As for Rin’s mom, it is greatly hinted that she too knows the effects of the rock (since it was mentioned that she was the one who introduced it to Rin) and perhaps what the girls are wishing with it. She just lets them be and just watches over them. After all, you discover a lot of things when you experience and do it yourself, right? Chiharu and Koharu may be twins but they are like day and night. See the huge difference in their boob size is already a point. Maybe they’re unidentical twins. Koharu just like most of us wouldn’t want things to change when we are so comfortable with it. But as in reality, nothing lasts forever so we have to face them, accept it and move on. Give new things a chance. This is the same dilemma Natsumi and her friends were facing since knowing Saki will be moving away. So in the end Natsumi didn’t really talk to Saki’s dad into letting her best friend stay behind. Can’t keep her all for herself, can’t she?

Sometimes the workings of the wishing rock baffle me. How does it really grant wishes? Though it is only exclusive to them, at times it works when all four of them wish the same thing with all their hearts and at other times it doesn’t. For instance when Natsumi and Saki wanted to get back at Yuka and Rin for sticking them together, all it takes was just the duo to make the wish to exact the revenge. Natsumi and Rin certainly didn’t want to swap bodies but they did. Then how does the effect end? It is highly speculated that it does when the wish comes true. But if you look at the body swapping case, what wish was it that came true before the girls swap back to their original bodies? Well, wishing rocks do work in mysterious ways. It makes the rock feel like as though it is a living thing because sometimes when the girls earnestly make a wish, it doesn’t come true or take effect. It’s like the rock is being fickle and picky in granting the wishes they want. I guess this is partly good because if it really grants each and every of their wish, it would have led to massive abuse (Yuka is the first thing that comes to mind). If it was so easy to get what they want, they don’t even need to put in any effort. That defeats a lot of purpose. So by selectively granting certain wishes, in the process the girls get to learn a thing or two. Thus that’s why I felt the rock is like some living sage instead of a mindless wish granting machine. Therefore the girls didn’t become instant idols because I don’t think it’s right to take the easy way out. If they’re going to be that, might as well put in lots of efforts, sweat and tears. When the results come out, they can be proud of their own achievement instead of relying on divine intervention. The thought about rocks having cousins, I think every rock on this face of this planet is related, if not just one giant boulder. Hey, they come from the same substance that made planet Earth, right? Just like water in the ocean, lakes and rivers. They may be from different places but actually are the same body of liquid, right? During the time paradox arc (facing off with their younger selves), I just had this faint thought that what if Four Seasons are actually them! But I get the feeling they aren’t because, how can the same person from different times be at the same time together? Oh wait. That just happened for the girls, right? And if you want to think further about that sci-fi effect about not meeting oneself, shouldn’t that be a big no-no? Because I read somewhere you’d vanish if you do so. Now where did I get that idea…  And when the girls are young, it didn’t cross their mind how similar their bigger counterparts are or that they may be their future selves? Maybe they aren’t into sci-fi…

Recently I’ve been noticing and saying that Aki Toyosaki is moving away from voicing stereotypic roles as airhead girls (from my point of view, that is). Her role as Rin here, I won’t say her character is a total airhead but it’s just the sleepy and dreamy look she has. It needs a little use to getting to since she is voicing a character which sounds monotonous and lacks lots of emotion. And sound sleepy here. Heck, I thought Rinko was somewhat closely familiar to Nekogami Yaoyorozu’s Shamo. Coincidentally, this character is also voiced by her. Do I see a disturbing resemblance? Haruka Tomatsu liveliness and perkiness in voicing Yuka reminds me of her role as Lala in To Love-Ru. Just that she is no space alien with inventions that go wrong in this anime. Hmm… On an unrelated note, doesn’t Yuka have that uncanny resemblance to To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Saten? I’m not very familiar with the voices of Ayahi Takagi and Minako Kotobuki as Saki and Natsumi respectively so I can’t really compare. They both have voiced several anime roles. Ayahi Takagi did a variety of different character roles ranging from Noe from True Tears, Megumi from Special A, Mikako from Sora No Otoshimono and Mitsuba from Mitsudomoe while Minako Kotobuki would probably be known best for her role as Tsumugi in K-ON! and Yuuko in A Channel. Other casts include Mamoru Miyano as Takashi (Shinku in Dog Days), Ai Kayano as Chiharu (Menma in Ano Hi Mita No Hana No Namae Wo Bokutachi Wa Mada Shiranai), Yuka Terasaki as Koharu (Sasha in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Kei Shindou as Daiki (Kuro in Kodomo No Jikan), Mako as Yuusuke (Yurie in Kamichu), Miyuki Sawashiro as Natsumi’s mother (Mint in Galaxy Angel) and Ayumi Tsunematsu as Rin’s mother (Takako in Hanasaku Iroha). I don’t really hear much about Sphere’s music and the one I remember was Hanasaku Iroha’s Hazy. Well, what else can I say for the opening and ending themes that are sung by them? Just what you want to like any other J-pop groups. It doesn’t sound bad if you give it a chance. Though, the opening lines of the opening theme, Non Stop Road reminded me of John Denver’s Country Road. The ending theme is Ashita E Kaerimichi. Of course throughout the series there will be a number of insert songs featuring them. So if you’re a big fan of Sphere, I’m sure that the featured music will be a treat.

While this anime isn’t anything groundbreaking or offer anything that differentiates and sets itself apart from other similar animes that set in summer with a group of friends, at least it proves to be an enjoyable and decent watch. Hey, there are cute girls, right? Whether you believe in some of the miracles or not is entirely up to you. Sometimes such a miracle is just there to give you a push to have you do what it takes to achieve your goal. And perhaps sometimes screwing things up along the way. But the outcome and rest is up to you. Thus when a miracle comes your way, you should grab it for such miracles do not happen very often or every day. Okay, maybe little miracles do happen every day if you open your eyes around. You don’t need a miracle or a wishing rock to make friends. If wishing rocks do become a trend for people to pray for their wish whether it comes true or not, I fear that this might make people pray less to God for miracles. Oh heck, people will pray to just about anything if they want something. Somehow I have this feeling I should be careful with every rock that I see now. Even if it’s just a pebble by the road side. If I’m not careful with what I wish, I may end up getting more than what I bargained for. Who knows? A paradise harem filled with beautiful 2D girls. Hey, maybe that wish isn’t so bad after all.

Who again? Do you know him or her? Some characters love to have all the attention on them while others want to be left alone. And then there are those in limbo in between. What am I saying? Not sure you have noticed this or not but there are a handful of anime characters in animes that nobody really notice. For whatever reasons I’m sure they won’t even notice why. Haha! So before they fade into oblivion, here is a look at some of the forgettable, oops, I mean some of the characters that people just don’t seem to realize their existence. It’s a good way to let you know about them (if you care enough) before they fade into oblivion. Hope not!

Akari Akaza

Anime: YuruYuri.
Episode debut: 1.
Nickname: Akarin.
Affiliation: Amusement Club.
Oblivion: Probably currently the most prominent character that nobody notices (oh, the irony). Even ironic is that she is supposed to be the main character of this series but as the anime progresses, she starts fading into the background and becomes forgettable even by her own friends. So oblivious that she can even win an othello board game without anyone noticing what moves she made! Because of this, she slowly develops some sort of desperation to be noticed and concern about her presence. Maybe her sweet and nice personality makes it too normal for her to stand out…
Who knows her: From time to time, her friends like Kyouko, Yui, Chinatsu and Ayano.
Seiyuu: Shiori Mikami.


Anime: Keroro Gunsou.
Episode debut: 13.
Rank: Lance Corporal.
Nickname: Zeroro.
Oblivion: I guess sometimes being a stealthy ninja in the platoon doesn’t pays. So much so that even your own comrades and members forget that your presence. Whenever this happens, Dororo’s inner Trauma Switch will be flipped on and he will sink into depression, sitting in one corner crying quietly while ranting away the past pranks and bad experience he got from Keroro.
Who knows him: Actually his case isn’t as bad as the rest as many other characters in the series know about his existence. It’s just his mates that don’t seem to remember him.
Seiyuu: Takeshi Kusou.


Anime: Oh Edo Rocket.
Episode debut: 1.
Specialty: Mathematics.
Oblivion: Even cross-dressing doesn’t help. Yeah, this guy dresses in a kimono in hopes to gain the attention of the other residents of Furai Row Block House but nobody really seem to notice him for whatever reasons and for any other reasons. So whether he turns into a pigeon for a long time or not, nobody is fazed with him not around simply because, they never knew he existed in the first place!
Who knows him: His mother and the town belle Onui.
Seiyuu: Katsuyuki Konishi.

Kagerou Usui

Anime: Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.
Episode debut: 5.
Name significance: A play on the word ‘kage ga usui’ which means overshadowed.
Class position: The actual class rep.
Oblivion: So oblivious that he literally vanishes into thin air. It’s like as though he is a ghost! The only way people would notice him is if his bald spot becomes noticeable. And when he is noticed, people just can’t take their eyes off the bald spot. They just keep staring and staring and staring and staring… Yeah, they look and notice that only part instead of every other part. So it’s like between a hard place and rock. It’s either he gets totally ignored or put up with the unpleasant stares of his bald spot.
Who knows him: Sadly, no one.
Seiyuu: Youji Ueda.

Momoko Touyoko

Anime: Saki.
Episode debut: 13 (she might have appeared earlier as cameo when the team makes its first appearance and this episode debut is when it’s her turn to go up and play).
Nickname: Stealth Momo.
School: Tsuruga Academy.
Oblivion: Due to her anti-existence nature, she has this ability to go into stealth mode and not get noticed by anyone. So I guess it is important when you are playing in competitive mahjong because your opponents won’t even know what moves you’ll be pulling off and every hand that you make will catch them by surprise.
Who knows her: The first person who realized her existence is Tsuruga’s mahjong captain, Yumi Kajiki due to her exceptional skills. Momoko might be unnoticeable but that is only confined to her play. Yeah, it was really hard to find her, eh? Right under your nose…
Seiyuu: Momoko Saitou.

Tsukiyo Ooba

Anime: Sketchbook ~Full Color’s~.
Episode debut: 13 (if your eyes are sharp enough, you would notice her little cameo presence in other episodes).
Club: Art club.
School: Second year of Fukuoka High School.
Oblivion: Since she often do not turn up and attend activities with her fellow art club members, she is often forgotten and what more if she keeps long and unkempt hair which covers her face that contributes to her anonymity. Even if she turns up, I’m sure the rest would mistake her for being a ghost! So really, a ghost member of the art club in name and almost by appearance?
Who knows her: As far as I understand, the club’s captain Ujou Sugyou who introduced her to the rest of the members.
Seiyuu: Mamiko Noto.


Anime: Hetalia ~Axis Power~.
Episode debut: 19.
Human name: Matthew Williams.
Pet: A bear named Kumajirou.
Oblivion: We know how close Canada is to America, right? So close that the other nations tend to mistake Canada for America and this poor shy, sensitive and peace-loving guy finds himself getting into trouble and bearing the brunt of incidents caused by America. And when he is not being mistaken in identity, he is often forgotten. I guess in a way he sometimes deserves not being noticed because he can’t even remember his own pet’s name… Yeah, the bear can’t remember his too. Uh huh. It’s mutual. So do you know where Justin Bieber came from?
Who knows him: I didn’t really see this show so I can’t really tell. From what I read, perhaps his brother, America.
Seiyuu: Katsuyuki Konishi.


Anime: Nagasarete Airantou.
Episode debut: 26.
Skill: Archery.
Lineage: A half youkai and daughter of a snow woman.
Oblivion: Due to her inability to interact with others, the other villagers on the island tend to forget her existence or mistake her for someone else.
Who knows her: Heck, she was introduced in the final moments in the final episode during the second Catch-The-Groom-Hide-&-Seek Tournament. So how much do we know about her? How much can we know about her? Unless you continue reading the manga…
Seiyuu: No dialogues means no seiyuu assigned, right? Why would you since her debut scene only lasts seconds.

Tetsuo Ishimaru

Anime: Eyeshield 21.
Episode debut: 2.
American Football Team: Deimon Devil Bats.
Position: Fullback/Cornerback.
Oblivion: It’s a wonder that a player can still play for his team when his teammates don’t even know he is there playing with them. Don’t they realize they are a man short if that is the case? Ah well, his obscurity also proves to be an advantage because his opponents will never realize the ball being passed to him. Even if he scores big, I guess he’ll be celebrating his victory all alone…
Who knows him: I didn’t see this anime either and from what I read, perhaps his teammate Sena Kobayakawa who recruited him into the team.
Seiyuu: Kei Katou.

Say Who Again?
This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive because I believe there are many other anime characters who lack presence in the eyes of others out there yet to be discovered. Or rather, maybe they just pass me by and I didn’t notice them. There are some characters that fall in the grey line of whether they are noticeable or not and it was hard for me to decide to whether to put them in this list, which eventually I didn’t. For example, Tadakuni from Daily Lives Of High School Boys. He might be one of the main characters but gradually his role becomes lacking (partly he is a normal guy with no traits that stand out) to a point the series even plays a joke that he has been demoted to an extra and almost forgotten. I feel that it’s not that he is being forgotten. It’s just that the show chose to focus more on other characters. The other grey area is those who can turn invisible instead of everyone naturally not knowing about their presence. Take like Tomoki Sakurai from Sora No Otoshimono when he decided to peep on girls by turning himself invisible or Lucy from Fairy Tail in an episode she accidentally casted a temporary invisible spell on herself or Keena Soga from Ichiban Ushiro No Daimaou who can turn invisible as and when she likes. Those who are ignored aren’t really put on the list because their existence are known. Just that those other characters just don’t give a damn. For instance, Gonta from Nekogami Yaoyorozu. Characters whose role has been demoted to being extra or just gone ‘missing’ somewhere along the line. So having going unnoticed has its good and bad points. People won’t bug you but at the same time you will have trouble getting help or making your voice heard. It’ll be hard to say that person has been there, done that. It may seem disrespectful not acknowledging the existence of somebody but how can you when you don’t even know he/she is there? Do you know who am I talking about? Eh… Who was I talking about again?

Gunsmith Cats

November 16, 2012

Girls with guns. Don’t mess with them. And if they have a partner who specializes in bombs, you better not get on the wrong side of their books. You’ll get more holes than a Swiss cheese if you push the wrong buttons. Folks, meet the female combo team duo in Gunsmith Cats. Irene “Rally” Vincent is more than just a gunslinger with a pretty face with extensive knowledge with anything to do with guns and is equally skilled in using them while Minnie “May” Hopkins may look like a petite kid but don’t underestimate her highly self styled bombs that she makes. On the surface they may seem to run a gun shop but underneath it all, they are bounty hunters. Hey, if the police can’t take down the rampant outlaw gangs, you might as well want to use these babes to get the job done.

Based on the manga of the same name, this series has been adapted into 3 OVA episodes in 1995 and from what I read, the OVAs are not directly adapted from the manga and are considered more of an original animation story. That’s because from what I read it leaves out lots of major characters from the comic and inserts anime-only supporting characters and the plot that isn’t based on any of the manga’s chapters. So it’s like using the main characters but in a whole new different story. That’s not a bad thing, right? Well, that depends. Because it didn’t follow the events in the manga, some would classify this as a filler. After all, I didn’t really read the manga. As long as we can see them busting around with guns and bombs then I’m okay with that.

Episode 1
Jonathan Washington thought he got a wrong call from a girl when he realizes the sh*t he is in. He quickly gets up and tries to arm himself but a smoke bomb is dropped at his feet. He is arrested by bounty hunter Rally and her partner May. Back at her shop, Rally learns from Becky that even though Washington was arrested for drug charges, they have not found any drugs. Rally wants her to investigate more. Sure. If she pays. A customer comes into her store as recommended by Roy to order a gun. After he leaves, William “Bill” Collins from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) comes in. He wants them to help out with a sting. Seems that Washington guy was handling guns and not drugs so he was trying to sell them to pay for his bail. Rally caught him before he could do that. So he wants them to contact him and ‘do business’ with him so they can catch him in the act of selling firearms. Since he can’t pay, the girls aren’t interested in the conversation anymore. However Bill resorts to blackmail tactic and has researched the illegal firearms and explosives they possess. No choice but to cooperate. If they’re successful, he’ll get them the licence to sell those stuffs and also tax deductions. Bill makes his way out and the girls show him the middle finger. The girls leave for home and discuss about Bill’s offer. And badmouth him. Unknown to them, Bill and his team are staking outside their house. They heard everything… Late that night, a group of thugs break into their house to steal weapons. Little do they know, they have sounded the silent alarm. Rally gets excited because it’s been ages since something like this happened but isn’t thrilled when May wants to get in with the action as well. As the burglars rummage through the secret room filled with firearms, Rally hits the light switch off and nails them with a couple of shots. Even if the baddie was holding a submachine gun, he missed! The last thief runs away but he ran the wrong direction. He ran upstairs and triggers May’s bombs. Boom! Thank goodness they’re just smoke screen. Soon all the thugs get arrested but their collection has also been confiscated. Rally thinks Bill had it all planned but he insists he did. Rally has no choice but to agree with his deal but with one condition. She will do it her way and doesn’t want him following her. Isn’t that two?

Rally goes to see Washington in jail and wants to buy all his ‘toys’. He agrees to do it but needs her to pay the ‘deposit’. How much? She’ll have to ask the court. Oh, it’s his bail. Rally reports to Bill and she feels she can’t trust him. He assures her he isn’t following and the good job she is doing. Bill gets called by his boss, George Black that 3 infiltrators have been killed. Bill thinks someone from ATF is leaking information especially from the Illinois branch. He can’t say because he has no evidence yet. Worse come to worse, he’ll go undercover. Meanwhile Rally gets an earful from Becky Farrah for accepting such a dangerous assignment. She promises to make it up by treating her to dinner. As long it isn’t Chinese or pizza. Really? That simple? I thought it was only through the stomach that you need to convince men. Rally then brings Becky along. Why? To watch May so she won’t go crazy. Rally arrives at the warehouse and goes in alone. After that thorough body check for weapons (that guy doing the body search must be real lucky), she is brought to Washington upstairs. He needs her to pass a test first before they conduct their deal. Inside a room, Rally is shown Bill tied up. He says they spotted a suspicious guy lingering outside and their boss recognized him and ringed him in, they discovered he is a government official. At first Rally feigns he didn’t recognize him and when she does, she blows his cover by revealing he is the weasel that tries to convince her to sell him out. Washington hands him Bill’s gun. So the test is to shoot him? Rally can tell there are no bullets in it so Washington gives her one. After confirming where the goods are, Rally prepares to shoot Bill. But in that single bullet breaks his ropes and wounded the lackey’s knee. Then in swift action, Rally and Vincent pull off stunning manoeuvres to turn the tables on their captors. The others get a feeling what has happened inside the room and move to surround the place.

Becky sees the lights go off and thinks something bad has happened. I’m not sure how May got free from her binds but she scoots off into the building thinking it’s her time for debut. While Bill and Rally round up Washington, the wall and door are greeted with a hail of bullets. Thankfully they have foreseen this and were hiding. Otherwise those goons who couldn’t care less about Washington could have put holes in him too. Bill and Rally soon bust out to do some slick gun shooting moves that put those thugs to shame. They only got a pistol and make each bullet count while the baddies armed with machine guns sprayed the entire area and couldn’t hit their target. Rally is trapped on the walkway above so one of the baddies tries to use a crane to wreck everything and bring her down. Her clothes get stuck so she tries to improvise by stripping but her gun fell down. Now she’s unarmed. And semi-naked. Bill is also having problems with the shotgun guy. May busts in looking for Rally and this distracts the baddies. In precision timing, Bill jumps out endangering himself so he could throw Rally’s gun to her. Rally jumps down to fire her at the shotgun guy while Bill takes out the crane operator. Nice teamwork. But the shotgun guy isn’t out yet and has a hidden pistol in his sleeves. That’s when May barges back in to drop all her bombs on him! As for Becky, she’s feigning she didn’t see or know anything. In the aftermath as the bad guys are arrested, amazingly after all that gun fight, there were no casualties! I thought some died! Rally and May argue and blame each other for being reckless but ultimately put the blame on Bill. But he pretends he couldn’t hear that and since he has no shame, he requests the girls for another favour. Oh no. That doesn’t sound like a joke. Run away!

Episode 2
Russian freelance mercenary, Natasha Radinov (I thought she was a guy!) just killed the security guard and completed some other shady activities that includes receiving a suitcase of heroine. Those Japanese guys thought they could mock her by speaking in Japanese but she just kept quiet and ignore them. They get a call from their boss requesting her for another job. Of course there’ll be additional fees for the job. Radinov is happy that this might involve killing somebody. Meanwhile Washington is being interrogated by Rally and May in a room in ATF’s safe house (supposedly the safest place in Washington. Washington as in the place lah). Washington is in a panic and pleads them to get him out of here and have information regarding the organization. They assure this place is safe but he tells them the ATF can’t be trusted. Rally doesn’t seem convinced so he gives her his Rolex watch so that she can deliver it to his daughter at this address but she’s reluctant to do it. The ATF guys come into the room and the conversation ends. The ladies walk out but Washington slips it into the back of May’s pocket. Then he tells them what he said is true and they’ll soon witness it. By that time, he won’t be alive. Seems May have taken up this delivery job and Rally isn’t happy she took that assignment that doesn’t profit them a single cent. Well, she’s the one to say. Suddenly Rally has to swerve her car to the side or else she would have crashed into that crazy Radinov b*tch coming from the other direction. On the TV news, mayoral electorate hopeful, Senator Edward Haints is boosting his image working with ATF and pledge for a safer America with the extermination of illegal firearms. Radinov enters the safe house and coolly kills all the ATF guards with ease! She’s like a walking arsenal because underneath her trench coat are weapons and bullets! Washington is hiding in the toilet and fears for his life. He pleads he has information on the organization but she doesn’t listen and kills him. The area is soon cordoned off and Black isn’t happy how things are going and takes Bill off the case. It’s not that he suspects him and knows someone is trying to pull a con on him but he says this isn’t a battlefield and won’t get any medal for impressing.

Radinov is back home when she receives a call from her employer. Seems her next target is Rally and May and she has done her research on them. However she has no information on the fourth person and that this man will never imagine his own partner will kill him. Meanwhile Rally and May have arrived at the address to deliver the Rolex. But Washington’s daughter… A big burly man?! WTF?! Back home, Becky thinks it is a fake Rolex and a fake address. Rally fools around with May till the latter falls down on the floor. She then notices a bugging device. Bill and his team are still eavesdropping on the girls when suddenly Becky knocks on their door to deliver pizza. Busted. Rally tells him off if he has time to snoop around, he should be getting his ass to do her licence. No choice, they leave. But all that talk was just to buy May enough time to plant a bomb underneath their van. At a distance, it goes boom! Don’t worry, nobody died. Just lots of equipment damaged. Oh, Radinov is around the corner watching. Becky is trying to figure out the connection of the watch and address. Rally thinks hard and remembers Washington was at his computer when she met him at the warehouse. They think the address is some sort of code to a website. May also sees a number on the watch and Becky thinks this is some secret access code. Putting them together brings them to an adult website. But neatly hidden beneath it is data for all the transactions for the illegal firearms before ATF seized them. This data could fetch a high price but they only need evidence now. Rally and May quickly leave to get things done before Becky could finish printing them out. On the other hand, happy Bill has just finished printing those data after yet another round of spying.

While Becky continues to stay safe in the car as usual, Rally and May infiltrate the suspicious yacht club. I mean, it’s a little heavily guarded, don’t you think? They manage to get inside the warehouse that houses the firearms but it was a setup. The baddies corner them because their boss told them they would pull such a stunt. However the girls have tricks up their sleeve. May releases a flash grenade to blind them and Rally uses her slick moves to shoot them all out. However she could’ve been Radinov’s next victim if not for Bill who is conveniently at the scene. Radinov makes her escape but bumps into May crawling around. She intends to kill her but because of the police sirens, she kidnaps her instead. Rally isn’t thrilled Bill is here and thinks he is the one who staged all this but he says he doesn’t trust the ATF more than she does. Suddenly they realize May is kidnapped so Rally gets into her car to start the high speed pursuit. I’m not sure how long Rally has been horning but it was enough to wake May up from her unconsciousness and signal the start of some synchronized attack thingy of theirs. I can’t believe Radinov didn’t tie May up properly and this allowed her to interrupt her driving. May is thrown to the back seat and during the high speed chase, May sets up her bombs. On the freeway, the ladies are breaking every rule there is to safety driving. Keep both hands on the steering (they were driving with one hand and firing with the other)! Keep both eyes on the road ahead! Don’t tailgate! Don’t swerve in and out and in between lanes! People, please don’t imitate them. Radinov shoots the wheel of a truck to send it crashing into Rally behind but her slick precision driving means she avoids the big bang. When Rally manages to fire at Radinov, shooting off her ear stud (bloodied ear?), she becomes enraged and is going to kill May. The petite girl has already finished setting her bombs and presses the detonate button. The back window shatters and the blasts send May hurtling outside towards Rally’s car behind. If not for Becky’s terrific catch, May could’ve been splat! People, another reminder not to imitate such dangerous stunt! But it was awesome! Radinov trying to regain her composure realizes she has just gone off the bridge and in mid-air another explosion turns the car into a fiery fireball. Dead for good? Rally and May are happy their tactic paid off but Rally knows this isn’t over yet by a long shot.

Episode 3
Though the police has cordoned off the area for investigations, they found the car but no body. I guess you know what this means. As for Rally, May and Becky, they’re being ‘scolded’ by their boss, Roy Coleman for the mess they’ve gotten into. He shows them a file on Radinov about the ruthless killing machine she is. She was once from the KGB but now is a freelance. Nicknamed Bloody Pierce because of her lethal skills, she is a murder machine that has been doing some illegal business for a long time and recently entered the country illegally via Canada. He wants them to leave the case to them. When the trio leave, they are surprised to see a knife sticking out from their car’s bonnet. Rally knows it is her sign for revenge. Back at their base, Rally gets a call from Haints. Seems he wants to give them an award and spearhead his campaign for anti-illegal firearms since the weapons case is finished. But Becky notes Radinov is still alive and they haven’t found out who is pulling the strings in ATF. Rally thinks it’ll be their chance to appeal directly to the government but Becky wishes to decline because it’ll be bad for her business if she shows her face and will leave it to them. Back home, May suggests Rally to try out high heels she bought for her for the event. Let’s say Rally doesn’t suit walking in them. Heck, she can’t walk well. May quips in that case the men will just come over to her. Speaking of which, there is one at the door now. It’s Bill. See, what did May say about men coming to her? Anyway Bill wants Rally’s cooperation again or else the case will be cancelled. She’s not interested and has already made arrangements to deal directly with a certain VIP tomorrow. Bill is ushered away by a policeman who has orders not to let anyone near them. Not even the President of USA. Gee, I’m glad he is dedicated to his job. Bill is back at his office when his colleague Cathy shows him suspicious telephone usage record from the safe house which is supposed to be closed off. And the user is Black. Conveniently, he is on sudden vacation now. I guess he’s the one pulling all the strings, eh? Don’t guys like him know how to cover his tracks? Bill lauds her for a good job and hopes she could keep this a secret.

Black has packed his bags and gone to see Radinov. He is panicking that he can’t hide it from them anymore and wants her to take him along. He can pay how much she wants. However Radinov is on the phone with another person and it seems the order is to eliminate him. Without mercy, Radinov shoots him dead. One bad turn deserves another. When Bill and his partner Jody barge in the house, they see Black’s body. Bill knows he is dealing with a professional killer and takes away a bomb trap hidden in Black’s body. They could’ve been blown to bits had they moved the body carelessly. Jody then carelessly redials the telephone to see the last number Radinov made and it connected to Haints’ office. Well, well. Looks like Radinov and Haints are a team, eh? Bill sees photos of Rally and May on the wall and knows they are her next target. And I guess he also realizes the VIP they’re going to see tomorrow so he rushes out. When Jody puts down the phone, it triggers a bomb and the entire house goes boom! That’s a professional killer for you. Radinov is seen talking to Haints on the phone. Although she is supposed to leave the city but she wants to remain till she finishes off those ladies. It’s a matter of pride. The rain is delaying the event as Rally and May wait in the tent. Haints’ men need to make sure of his image and have them remove all the guns and bombs. Much to their dismay. Roy assures he will look after their weaponry. As the event is underway, Haints presents the award to Rally as Radinov edges closer to the front. As she pulls out her guns, Bill shouts to warn Rally. Conveniently that distracted Radinov for a while but not before firing all she’s got before escaping. Luckily Rally’s high heels broke so Radinov’s shots miss and destroy the award instead. Seriously I don’t think they needed the plaque either. With the place in panic, Roy and Becky spots Bill badly bruised. He needs to warn Rally because this event is a trap for her. Rally and May retrieve their weapons and chase after Radinov. Rally thinks she has got Radinov cornered at the rooftop of a remodelling museum and tells her to lifts her arms in the air and turn around. However she has already planted a bomb in the nearby water tank and sets it off. The impact blows Rally off her feet and throws May off the building. If not for the ropes, she could’ve gone straight down. Radinov sticks a knife in Rally’s shoulders and won’t kill her easily and will make her suffer. May throws a flash bomb up to temporarily blind Radinov. By the time she recovers, Rally has already escaped.

May is seen carrying bleeding Rally inside the museum. She assures Rally she has set lots of traps. But Radinov isn’t stupid. She sees through all the traps and even throws a fire extinguisher into the hallway filled with bomb traps to make them think she has taken the bait. Then she follows the bloodied trail that leads her to the duo hiding inside the woman’s toilet. Thinking she has got them cornered in the cubicle, before she could start her trigger frenzy, May presses her detonate button for the bomb set where Radinov is standing and blows her away. Meanwhile Haints thinks of getting away and will use this chance to escape while the media is preoccupied with Radinov. In his room, he is surprised to see Radinov standing at the corner and tells her off about pointing the gun at him on stage too. He wants to call their partnership off and return all the heroine he gave. He gets a little scared when he thinks Radinov is going to kill him and tries to worm his way out like a politician. Just like all bad guys, he notices the gun on the table and picks up to shoot her. Guess what? It is empty. It is revealed that this ‘Radinov’ is Roy’s assistant in disguise and Becky hiding behind the curtain has recorded his confession live to the media. Yeah, what a big scoop. Everybody has seen this dirty politician’s trick. What a way to get the media to suddenly focus on you, eh? Haints thinks he can escape but outside are Roy and his men waiting to arrest him. And Haints can still try to talk about how he is doing all the cleaning of illegal immigrants and gangs for America?! Did what?! Rally and May are safe and picked up. May thinks they were careless this time but Rally thinks Radinov too was careless. Radinov is wheeled away into the ambulance but suddenly, yes SUDDENLY she jumps out with an axe in hand (where and how did she get that?!) and is going to chop Rally to pieces. Rally can’t move because her arm is bandaged. Bill fires a shot to break the axe. Rally follows up by pumping several shots into Radinov’s body to put an end to her for good. Bill wonders if Rally thinks better of him now that he can be useful. It ends with Rally noting that this is how strong they’ve got to be if they want to live in this city.

Armed and Dangerous…
So it was rather entertaining and my favourite part is of course the action bits. They were exciting enough to draw me in and glued to my seat. And sometimes the edge of my seat. The first episode’s warehouse gun shootout with the baddies is amazingly cool. The second episode’s high speed car chase with Radinov is exhilarating. The final episode’s face off with the terminator may not be as intense but it is still a good watch. Overall, it is the action that scores highly and the reason why one should watch this series but may not satisfy hardcore action junkies. I’m sure they try to throw in some fanservice too with some scenes of Rally and May fighting in their underwear (the scene whereby thugs broke into their house) but don’t get your hopes high up too much and consider them as just little extra bonuses. As for the storyline, well, it’s nothing extraordinary. Typically, the duo get involved in a conspiracy that endangers themselves and after a little digging here and there, the culprit is always the people at the top. See? So predictable. I could have guessed that when Haints made his first appearance, I had a hunch that this guy isn’t what he really seems to be on TV. True enough, he is the biggest crook and he got what he deserves like all baddies in televisions get. Smaller fries like Black get killed. And our heroines come out tops, smarter and wiser from the experience. Happy ending. End of story.

The one thing I find very odd is about the setting of this anime in Chicago, Illinois. Actually it isn’t the setting that is odd. I just find that for this very heavily American themed series, for the characters to speaking in Japanese to be just weird. I know I could have ‘neutralized’ that by watching the dubbed version but you know me, I am very anti-dubs and would rather put up with this weirdness than hearing a different voiceover. So like the senator, he is like speaking as if a Japanese instead of a true blue American. Weird, right? As I found out, despite having just only 3 episodes, there were lots of research put into this anime to make this series have this local feeling that you are in Chicago. Well, I haven’t been to that city in America so I couldn’t identify any landmarks. The production team also consulted with the actual Illinois police academy and research on the guns because as we know, Japan has a very tight control on its guns.

As mentioned, the anime leaves out lots of other characters. That means you don’t get any deep character development for even Rally and May. From what I briefly skimmed through Wikipedia, they have lots of history and ‘happenings’ in their life (the manga lasted for 9 volumes). They have the personality and past that would make worthy a discussion among enthusiasts. In the OVAs, you don’t see much of it and just get to know that they are a team of highly skilled bounty hunters, that’s all. I think they were trying to put in some romance between Rally and Bill by making them look good as a makeshift team combo but I don’t think it’ll work out. It never. Maybe they have good sync in that area but chemistry wise, they just fail to click. And May is always such a tease sometimes when it comes to Rally and men. So what happens to them all in such an ‘abrupt’ ending? Life goes on as usual for the living. Crime fighting never ends. That sort of thing.

The drawing and art despite being old school is acceptable since it is during that era but it is nothing much to shout about. Still, they manage to pull off some good designs for the cars and give details to the guns in Rally’s possession. Even the action is smooth and because of its realism (nothing that really goes overboard in defying physics), this is one of the reasons why I said that the action in this anime is quite worth the watch. This series should be a decent watch for those wanting a little action in the backdrop of an American city but not might sit well with hardcore fans of the original manga series. If you’re thinking that America is one dangerous place to live, just to assure you, this entire world is one big dangerous place. As long as there are places where humans will tread, you’re never safe. Not even from yourself. So it’s best to have some sort of self defence and alliance to keep your behind safe. You know what they say about cats having 9 lives? The way Rally and May are chalking up their enemies, they might have already extend their 1ups to over a hundred.

Mawaru Penguindrum

November 11, 2012

How far will you go to bring back a loved one? How much are you willing to sacrifice to bring that person back to life? How far will you go to alter destiny and go against fate to achieve the impossible? Seems like too much trouble, eh? Life would have been one big boring existence if nothing exciting happens. That’s why sometimes fate can indeed play a very cruel prank in life. Just ask the brothers in Mawaru Penguindrum. Their sister is terminally ill and suddenly dies. But she is given a chance at life again and in exchange they are to seek the Penguindrum. If they only knew what that is. Heck, we viewers aren’t even given much detail on what it is either. And thus the wheels of fate and destiny start intertwining for them and the other characters as they do whatever it takes to keep their sister alive, no matter the cost and absurdity. Life’s more interesting that way? Or is it just their fate?

One of the main reasons for me watching this series is the penguins. The siblings received a cute penguin each as aid in their ‘mission’ after the miracle happened. Penguins are already natural cute flightless birds and seeing them doing equally cute and funny stuffs sure does ease up a lot of tension, drama and suspense that you’re going to find in here. Who could hate penguins, seriously? Well, maybe except for that one little girl in Minori Scramble. But that’s beside the point. The other reason for me watching this show? The big ‘M’ factor. That’s Mamiko Noto for you! No, she doesn’t voice one of the penguins.

Episode 1
We start off with a narration by one of the Takakura brothers why he hates the word ‘fate’ so much. He feels it’s like a cruel prank from God because you’re already set out to do what is written and have no chance in going off track. Brothers Kanba and Shouma and their younger sister Himari may have lost their parents but they are happy as a little family unit together. Himari is feeling happy at the moment and it’s something the brothers want to keep that way. Because they were being told by the doctor that there is nothing he could do to save her. Should a doctor be saying that? Aren’t doctors supposed to save lives? She needs a miracle. And doctors don’t do miracles and they’re not Gods. In this case, God must not exist, right? So the brothers take Himari to the aquarium to watch the penguins. Shouma accompanies her to the souvenir store as she puts on a penguin hat. Shouma took his eyes off his sister for a while and before he knows it, she’s missing. Reuniting with Kanba, they hear a commotion that a girl collapsed. It is Himari. She is rushed to the hospital but is pronounced dead. Kanba tries to deal with reality but Shouma didn’t like the way he put his words that made it seem it was good for Himari to be released from her pain. Suddenly Himari revives and shouts “Survival Strategy!”. This is not a joke, right? They’re not seeing things either. Actually she is not Himari. But Princess of the Crystal. Due to this fate thingy, she has prolonged Himari’s life. The penguin hat slips off her head and Himari returns to her normal self, much to the delight of the brothers. Nobody knows what this miracle was. Not even the doctor. So life resumes back to normal for the trio. They receive a package and inside are 3 penguins. Shouma rushes to school since he is late. On his way home, he notices a penguin following him and helping him out. He realizes he is the only one who can see it! Is it a ghost?! His eyes are not deceiving him when Kanba also mentions about this. Seems they can only see the penguins and they understand every word they say despite not having much dialogue themselves. Foulmouthed Crystal initiates Survival Strategy and in an elaborated, grand-scale and fancy appearance (or is it illusions?), she explains to those low lives to obtain the Penguindrum since everything has a price and that she is not their sister. Kanba could tell the hat is controlling her. Shouma is sent falling through the trapdoor while she takes out a fragment of Kanba’s heart. Or so it seems. Kanba thinks deep about the existence of God, the existence of fate and if a man is considered human if he ignores his fate and follows his instincts.

Episode 2
On the other hand, Ringo Oginome narrates how she loves fate because everything that has happened, there has to be a reason for it. Kanba and Shouma get another Survival Strategy summon and are being given directions on how to obtain Penguindrum. They’re supposed to ride a train to meet this Ringo person. It’s going to be tough seeing the train is packed. Worse, Shouma gets accused for being a molester by a ganguro girl (his penguin did it). Kanba the playboy charms her heart so she lets it slide. The brother found their target since Ringo is this ganguro girl’s friend. Kanba tells him to follow her as he has something to do. But he stops right outside her school. That’s because Ringo attends Ouka All-Girls High School. Kanba returns with a laptop and some information on Ringo. He has labelled the penguins with number for easier reference. Kanba gets penguin #1 (it’s a pervert), Shouma gets penguin #2 (big eater with bug spray) and Himari gets penguin #3 (the one with a ribbon). Kanba has #1 and #2 do their bidding. Since the penguins are invisible to the rest, they are to sneak in with two-way radio. The penguins find Ringo’s class and start searching through her desk and bag. If she only knew what’s touching her… But do they even know what Penguindrum is? The brothers continue to tail her and at the bookstore, Himari calls Shouma as she got a call from his homeroom teacher, Keiju Tabuki that he is absent. He can’t let her know what they’re doing and will call back later. The tailing reaches to yet another out-of-bound place: The lingerie shop. I guess they’re desperate to get Penguindrum so no choice they go inside. But Ringo is not shopping for lingerie. They see her going out the back and tiptoe-ing on the edge of the building! I guess it was a bad idea to send the penguins to follow her. How can fat little birds tiptoe through the thin ledge? They see Ringo taking a picture of something with her handphone and assume that picture may be what Penguindrum is. Back down on the ground, the brothers panic upon seeing Tabuki heading this way. Ringo meets up with him and shows him the picture she took: A swallow’s nest on a corner of the building’s wall. When Ringo and Tabuki part, it doesn’t end there. The brothers see Ringo secretly tailing Tabuki back to his home. So, she’s like a stalker and has feelings for Tabuki. Then they send the penguins underneath the house since this is where Ringo went. She is lying beneath the floor listening to what Tabuki listens. Wow. She’s the ultimate stalker! Then she takes out her pink diary and assures she’ll always be with him because their future is already written in this diary.

Episode 3
Ringo loves curry. It’s what bonded her family together. She looks forward to every 20th of the month. But with mommy busy with work, looks like she’ll have to eat alone tonight. But she’s not fazed yet. She’s going to make her special curry and take Tabuki’s heart away. In another Survival Strategy summon, Shouma still doesn’t believe Crystal so she demonstrates that she could drink milk (why in a cow suit?) since Himari is lactose intolerant. Still don’t believe? Now here’s the nightmare. She takes off her hat and drops dead! Put the hat back on! So now do you believe? The brothers break into Ringo’s home. Shouma feels guilty but Kanba has to tell him straight they’re doing this for Himari. Not that Ringo is an angel herself since she’s a psycho stalker too. They search around the house but Ringo comes back. Hide! They watch her happily making her curry for Tabuki. Flashback reveals Tabuki was still a high school student and came to their house to eat curry. I guess that’s when she fell in love with him. So is the diary Penguindrum? Then she reads her diary and mentions about fate and the project has reached the next stage. The brothers follow Ringo to Tabuki’s house. Ringo fantasizes she’ll steal his heart away with her curry. But guess who answers the door when she comes knocking? Isn’t that Yuri Tokikago? That famous theatre actress? The worst possible scenario. Stalker girl runs into guy’s girlfriend. Yuri is a very nice and polite person and invites her in. Ringo is disheartened to see her making dinner for Tabuki who hasn’t come back yet. Not wanting her plan to be ruined, she sneakily switches her curry pot with Yuri’s. On her way home, she bumps into Himari and got the curry all splashed over her face. Eww… The brothers know they’re going to get it from Himari so Shouma was the unlucky one who will go in to face Himari’s wrath. However she makes tonight an exception since she has made a new friend: Ringo! Shocking, eh? The girl whom they were trying to stalk so hard has become their sister’s best friend. As they eat curry together, Kanba asks her straight if she had a plan for today. She didn’t hesitate in explaining about her plan that didn’t go well but it worked out fine since everything went as written. And that to execute fate is her reason for existence.

Episode 4
Ringo is welcomed here anytime. So it’s no surprise that Kanba wants Shouma to check her bag for Penguindrum. Why him? Well, Kanba has got some plans with another girl today… Shouma accompanies Ringo on the train ride. She mentions about her important mission to execute her destiny. Ringo starts fantasizing her ultimate fantasy with her prince charming. Wow. Nice dream. If it she could only turn it into reality. At the park, a skunk stinks her clothes so she forces Shouma to borrow his. Meeting up with Tabuki, he thinks she brought her ‘boyfriend’ but she dismisses he is just one who insists one coming to watch the birds since he is a fellow bird lover like Tabuki. Was Shouma a bird lover? Ringo continues to pin every blame on Shouma to why he stinks. Now here comes another stinking scene. Yuri is here accompanying Tabuki. Ringo’s fantasy play comes crashing down. Meanwhile Kanba meets a group of girls. Seems they once dated him and are out to get revenge by making him take responsibility for toying with their hearts. Ringo’s plans are falling apart. Whenever hers do, Yuri’s backup ‘saves’ the day. Like lunch. The crows got Ringo’s so they have Yuri’s fabulous lunch. Like taking a walk but it got backfired (Ringo got sting by her own bug trap) and Yuri ended up with Tabuki. Later Yuri tells Ringo that she knows she switched their curry pots. Her dish was lovely and this will be their little secret. You just can’t beat this lady. Time is running out and the final agenda I supposed to be a kiss by the pond. She’s summoning up her courage to jump into the pond. She didn’t expect the skunk to stink her again and sends her sinking like a rock. Too bad Tabuki and Yuri are too into each other to hear her cries. Shouma wonders if her fate is written in her diary when she sees her drowning. She laments she couldn’t follow fate and blacks out. When she wakes up, she finds herself in Tabuki’s arms. She thought Tabuki had given her CPR and is ecstatic that her destiny came true. In actual fact it was Shouma who dived in and gave that psycho girl her first kiss. Well, destiny said she got her first kiss but didn’t say from whom, right? Elsewhere, one of the jilted lovers of Kanba, Asami Kuho is being attacked as she got pushed off the escalators while heading down the subway.

Episode 5
Flashback shows when Himari’s fever worsened one stormy night, their father, Kenzan took her and ran to the hospital. Worried Kanba went after them instead of staying home. A glass flew their direction but Kenzan shielded Kanba. Though bleeding, they continue their journey to the hospital. Shouma shows his doctor the penguin hat and wonders this extraterrestrial organism is the miracle to Himari’s cure. The doctor laughs it off and believes Shouma was just trying to apply laughter is the best medicine. Masako Natsume visits her friend Asami at the hospital. She asks if she remembers anything and since she remembers seeing somebody, Masako takes out her modified slingshot and fires into her forehead! Kanba’s uncle, Ikebe talks to him about moving out but Kanba believes they will stay here in this house and look after Himari. He is confident he will come up with the money to keep this house. Ringo goes out with her father (their parents are divorced) and sees a matching handphone strap he had when they were a family. When she goes home, she is disheartened to see Tabuki and Yuri eating together at a Mont Blanc café. So much about buying the best Mont Blanc and stealing his heart. She becomes depressed and ends up walking in the rain. Only to bump into Himari and Shouma who invite her back to their home. Shouma must be getting desperate to even ask Ringo to lend her diary. To her shock, the way he said it indicates he has read its contents (which he did). Ringo explains her fate is written in that diary so Shouma explains about the penguin hat that gives Himari life and ordering them to get her diary. Ringo doesn’t buy it. Not a single bit and punches him. Then it’s Survival Strategy time. Crystal orders that b*tch to hand over her diary. Ringo doesn’t sit back quietly. She fights back by running up to her and throws away her hat! Whose fault it is now that Himari has collapsed?! Worse, the hat got stuck to a passing truck. When Kanba learns about it, he chases after it. He must be peddling the bicycle so hard to even catch up to it. He tumbles but manages to grab the hat. Amazingly, he didn’t die after getting dragged for so long… Is this what you call determination? Another flashback reveals Kenzan managed to get Himari to the hospital. He told Kanba that no storm would last forever but you can’t protect your loved ones if you just wait for it to pass. Amazingly Kanba returns with the hat. Though all messed up, it’s amazing he didn’t break any bones or got his skin scraped off! He also manages to get enough money that enables them to stay longer in this house.

Episode 6
When Kanba visits Asami, she has no clue who he is. There is a busted ball next to her on the floor. Shouma has to follow everything Ringo orders if he wants to look at her diary. He will be helping out with her mission called Project M. Does that stand for marriage? First order is for Shouma to become her donkey and carry all her belongings to Tabuki’s house. Yeah, she’s going to set base close to him. Kanba confronts his other ex-lovers, Yui and Chizuru thinking it was them who were playing the prank. They both deny so Masako snipes them from afar. They experience weird convulsions before getting knocked out. Kanba sees the same busted ball after the girls took a direct hit on their foreheads. When they wake up, they do not recognize who he is. Ringo is harassing Shouma to complete the moving. So close that when mommy comes in, she thought she was making a bold move on her ‘boyfriend’. Turns out Ringo has fever. Ringo remembers her parents got into an argument over her sister, Momoka’s death. Mummy wants to remember her forever but daddy wants to move on. This tore their family apart as Ringo learnt what fate meant and if she becomes Momoka, her parents won’t fight and they’ll be together forever. On that day when she met Tabuki, that’s when her destiny was decided and found Momoka’s diary (Tabuki and Momoka were classmates in elementary school). She believed the world’s fate was written down here and when it becomes true, everything precious to her will become eternal. She has to become Momoka. Shouma and Ringo’s mom talk. She learns he is Tabuki’s student and he learns about Momoka’s death. Shouma gets summoned for another Survival Strategy. Crystal tells him to let the perverted girl do whatever she wants so he can snatch Penguindrum. Even though Ringo is sick, she manages to trick her mom and sneak out to live under Tabuki’s house. True stalker. True psycho! She eats, bathes and sleeps just right underneath him! That desperate to be Momoka, eh? Meanwhile Masako is speaking to somebody and that everything is going according to plan. Oh. She has her own penguin called Esmeralda.

Episode 7
Not that Shouma wanted to accompany Ringo but he has to live with her underneath Tabuki’s house. Ringo is ecstatic when Tabuki gives her tickets for the play. She didn’t expect it was a play that starred Yuri, eh? The Tragedy of M… At the end, Ringo’s eyes light up once more when Tabuki suggests they go for dinner. Just the 2 of them. All right! Then he gets a message that Yuri has booked a fancy restaurant for the 3 of them. Bummer. Ringo continues to be suspicious of Yuri. She’s the kind of person who puts up a nice facade but has a black heart underneath. She might even have devoured lots of men to get to the top. Yuri is planning a little party and hopes Ringo could bring along her ‘boyfriend’. Ringo did bring Shouma along but he is to watch that black widow and keep her away from prince charming. Yuri makes an announcement that she’ll be retiring after her next play. So? Here’s the second announcement. Yuri and Tabuki are getting engaged today! She is retiring from showbiz to pursue a new beginning with the person she loves. FFFUUUU!!!!!! Ringo may be heartbroken but she isn’t giving up yet. Now she’s into black arts? That desperate, huh? Once every 16 years, a miraculous frog appears. One must allow it to spawn eggs on the back of a 16 year old boy underneath the full moon and crush it with the powder of eggs to create the ultimate elixir of love. Who would believe this crap? Ringo did. Guess who that lucky boy is? How did she persuade him to do it? “For Himari”. She knows how to play this game too. It’s getting gross, ickier, disgusting, sickening and horrible by the second! In the end… No eggs! Then another Survival Strategy summon. Crystal still wants them to obtain Penguindrum. How is it possible now that Yuri and Tabuki are engaged? Kanba realizes something. Ringo wants to do ‘stuff’ with Tabuki and he is a man, right? Get what he’s trying to say? Anyway Shouma has to do the dirty job of getting Tabuki seduced to tap Ringo. Ringo wonders why Tabuki got engaged to Yuri since whatever happens in destiny is written down here. That is, Tabuki belongs to her as far as the diary states. Thus her Project M which means Project Maternity is a mission to bear Tabuki’s child.

Episode 8
Ringo is about to begin her seducing but Tabuki isn’t in his room to begin with. Actually he got called out to fix some plumbing problem at their new condo unit. Yeah, they’re moving in together already. Another round of depression for Ringo. Tabuki’s not coming back here anymore. Kanba wants Shouma to stop going along with Ringo’s whims since she is just using him. Just snatch the diary. Himari thought they were fighting and feigns she’ll get lonesome since they’re never around and accidentally punches them. Ringo is at the aquarium and sees her father with his new family. Seeing how happy they are, she starts fantasizing that he is being slowly strangled in their clutches. Then another wild western flick how she’ll complete Project M at all cost. Just don’t take out your fantasy in public, okay? Shouma thought Ringo is over her heartbreak but she’s got another plan up her sleeve. Since Yuri is away on a tour, this means Tabuki is home alone tonight… Oh no. Shouma fears he may be doing double suicide! Ringo lets the guys taste her congratulatory cake. But it’s lace with sleeping potion! Out cold! Ringo initiates her Project M when Shouma barely having enough strength to stand, barges in. He is trying to tell her what she’s doing is wrong even if she’s trying to do what is stated in the diary. Suddenly Yuri is at the door. Seems her flight got cancelled due to the storm. The kids make a run and as they’re taking a breather, Shouma puts his foot down this time. Her heart is so pitch black than any girl he has ever known. But she too has some words for him. How far does he know about Tabuki? He may act all innocent but does he really care about Himari? Ringo will complete this mission and become Momoka. A struggle ensues and this causes the diary to fall off. By the time Ringo runs all the way down, a motorcyclist snatches and rips half of the diary. Ringo is paralyzed in shock that she didn’t see a car coming her way. Shouma dives to push her out of harm’s way but gets hit himself. That’s a beautiful body twist and turn. Oops sorry. Not funny.

Episode 9
This feels like a flashback because while the siblings are at the aquarium, they see a little girl wearing that same penguin hat. Then Himari follows #3 down the elevator. It must be pretty deep down but it’s as though she came out through a different world. She enters the library and since the book she’s looking for is not in the database, she looks for it herself and this leads her to a mysterious door that leads her to a darker annex part of the library. Man, it’s filled with endless rows of books (despite they all have the same title). She meets the head librarian, Sanetoshi Watase who agrees to help her find the book she’s looking for. But each time he stops to take out and read the book he thinks it is it, it turns out to be a chapter in Himari’s past. So we see Himari and her best friends, Hibari Isora and Hikari Utada were trying to find a suitable name for their group for an idol audition. They had silly names till Himari comes up with Triple H based on their first names. Since part of the dress was to wear matching ribbons, Himari noted that the one her mom Chiemi bought didn’t match and wants her to go buy matching ones even if it’s out of town because she promised. Himari accidentally makes the full size mirror and it crashes on Chiemi. Though she is hospitalized, it left a deep scar on her face. Himari felt guilty but Chiemi is glad she is safe because if something happens to her, she’ll never forgive herself. She looks forward to Himari and her friends to become idols. Himari told her friends to just go to the auditions themselves but they are worried for her mom and wanted to help out in making her better. I don’t know where they got this idea but to kill a carp and make her drink its blood? Lucky the teacher stopped them but Hibari and Hikari defend Himari and would like to take the blame instead. Then on the day Himari left school, that was when their friendship ended. Hibari and Hikari went on to be popular idols known as Double H and the spokesperson for the train line, Tokyo Sky Metro. If that had never happened, she would probably been up there on stage with them. She doesn’t despise them at all because they’re her true friends and continue to cheer them on. Then Sanetoshi presents Himari with the penguin hat. This is the wedding veil bestowed upon the bride of fate. Whose bride she’ll become is probably at the destination of fate. He’ll tell her the answer when she needs him again after she returns to her own world. I don’t really get the next part. Some apple, a kid before her who is supposed to be her soul mate and Himari wakes up from her sleep. Was that a dream? But she doesn’t remember anything. Himari gets a frantic call from Ringo about Shouma in an accident.

Episode 10
Shouma wakes up in hospital and amazingly his injuries are light. His siblings are relieved he is alright and Kanba attributes Ringo who called the ambulance and stayed with him the entire time. Kanba wants to know if his accident had something to do with Ringo’s item so Shouma denies and says it’s not her fault but his own. Ringo thought he would’ve told everything to his brothers and apologizes for everything. He too felt guilty for saying some mean things to her. So they’re even? She lets him know that half of her diary had been stolen. Masako disguises as a nurse to drug Shouma’s pudding and take him away. Kanba and Ringo are baffled that Shouma is missing when Kanba receives mail from Shouma’s handphone. The message states to hand over half the diary otherwise Shouma will die. There is a video to proof Shouma is in a precarious position. Ringo gives Kanba her diary and tells him what happened to the other half that led to this. But he hands it back to her and promises he will save Shouma. That’s why she needs to protect it since it was so precious to her that she couldn’t let it go to Shouma even if he followed her all this time. Kanba goes up the rooftop as mentioned in the message. The culprit has seen through his plans and this leads him to an orgel with a voice asking him if he remembers. With the cacophony messing with his head, Kanba struggles to get to the lower floors. Several items like bento and wedding cake are trying to make him jog his memories. Even an incomplete sweater that bears his name and a big heart. Meanwhile Ringo gets a call from a mysterious person to bring and drop half her diary outside. The person plays on her fears on Shouma’s life so she does so. The mysterious person takes her diary and disappears. Kanba enters a room to see Shouma tied up. The door closes and it becomes pitch black. Masako wearing night vision goggles messes around with Kanba and kisses him! Even Esmeralda did it on #1! When the lights come on, she has escaped. Masako is on the train with Esmeralda. She notes she has obtained the diary as planned and that Project M will be completed. What’s this? A kid named Mario wearing that penguin hat and is related to Masako?

Episode 11
Kanba confronts Masako in her mansion. Seems this woman is obsessed about him. She wants to know how much he loves her but to him she is just a stalker. Then she starts explaining about being a love hunter and that her match is him and vice versa. She made those foolish girls forget because they aren’t qualified to hunt him. Masako continues spewing abstract stuff but all Kanba wants is Ringo’s diary back. She can’t hand it to him because they need it too. Kanba sees Mario as Masako says even if it’s him, she’ll have to fight him for it to save Mario. After Kanba leaves, Masako notes that Kanba has not realized she only has half of the diary and needs to find out who has the other half. Shouma gets more abuse from Ringo when he teases her for giving up her diary so easily. She insists she’ll still complete Project M and that she is Momoka. Shouma points out Ringo is Ringo because pretending to be her dead sister won’t bring back what she has lost. Ringo will go ahead with her mission herself. Erm… It’s that frog again… So how does it feel like putting the frog on your own face!!! Damn it! I can’t believe she did it! So she brews that liquid from the frog and in the Ferris wheel with Tabuki, she manages to make him drink it. Woah! Violent convulsions! Was it a good idea? Suddenly her revives and declares he loves her! OMG! It worked?! IT WORKS!!! Tabuki takes her back to his condo and is about to make love to her. But she’s hesitating. She’s got her wish, so what’s her problem? Well, she really doesn’t feel like doing it and walks away. But Tabuki turns into a horny beast! Run for your life! “I love you Ringo! Ribbit”. Ribbit? Then Yuri comes back. Oh dear. Ringo tries to convince her Tabuki can no longer love another woman and to give him to her. But Yuri is playing cool. Even if she does, will she be happy? Though she says yes, Yuri thought she was in love with Shouma. Ringo falls into shock. She never realized that herself, did she? Well, I guess the effects of the elixir only lasts for one night… On the way back, she encounters Shouma and Himari. She starts abusing him and blames him for waltzing into her fate and ruin her hard work. Time for another Survival Strategy meeting. Ringo reveals on the day Momoka died, the family was eating their usual curry and she was born. Momoka was a victim of that incident and if he had never showed up, everything would have gone according to plan. Shouma admits that it’s his fault. The one who messed up her fate. On that day, he and Kanba were born and Momoka’s death was their fault.

Episode 12
Kanba comes back and he gets a phone call from Sanetoshi who tells him Himari will die again tonight. Ringo wants to know how Momoka’s death is his fault. Shouma says the perpetrators of that incident were his parents. Seems on the day the brothers were born, Kenzan and his team went to initiate their plan at the subway. Similarly when Tabuki was an elementary school kid, he was running late and supposed to meet up with Momoka at the station. However upon arrival, there was a commotion and the station was cordoned off. Seems there were many victims of the subway blast and Momoka was one of them. There was no trace of her but only her diary. To put his long story short, his parents were part of an organization that caused grievous hurt to many on that day. So long his story that Crystal almost fell asleep! She tells them since they have lost Penguindrum, the world has called forth Dark Bunnies again. Suddenly she collapses. Her final words were to tell them to find Penguindrum if they wish to save Himari’s life and escape the fate that binds them. Himari is rushed to the hospital and the hat is not working. A story-like narration about Mary had 3 little lambs (the siblings) and they were a happy unit till her treasured apple tree withered. The world became shrouded in darkness. She became depressed and the lambs’ consolation fell on death ears. A pair of dark bunnies appear to give her hope that it’s not the end yet. All she has to do is collect ashes from a torch deep in the forest of the Shrine of Goddess. Sprinkle the ashes over the tree and it will revive. However it was taboo for a human to come into contact with Goddess but the bunnies convinced her she’ll be just borrowing them. Mary did so and the tree revived. However this earns the wrath of the Goddess and as punishment, she chose the youngest lamb (Himari) as sacrifice. Why chose her? Because punishment has to be unjust. Kanba rushes to Himari’s side and tries to revive Crystal. Seems the life she took from him as ran out of juice. He would gladly transfer his life again but she says it only works once. How would you know if you don’t try? It didn’t work…

Episode 13
Sanetoshi enters the hospital with his 2 young assistants, Shirase and Souya. He claims he is a newly transferred doctor and has a serum that will bring Himari back to life. However there is a steep price to be paid. The price? If he thinks money is equivalent to his sister’s life, so be it. But can he get that insane amount? Sanetoshi asks what’s in it for him so Kanba tells him off that he just wants to be with Himari. Is that so wrong? Shouma is ridden with guilt that this is punishment for what their parents did. Nothing they could do will atone for their crimes. Flashback time. When the trio were having dinner together. A couple of police investigators come in. Ikebe calls Kanba to take a few days worth of clothes and leave the house. Staying at a hotel, they see the TV news that their house is being swamped with investigators. Their parents were prime suspects of the subway explosion. Kanba refuses to accept their parents were responsible since they’re not that kind of people despite police has been investigating them for quite some time and there is evidence that points to them. Sanetoshi injects the serum and Himari comes back to life, much to the relief of the rest. It is narrated that the Goddess didn’t revoke her punishment out of pity or mercy. If the punishment ended, there would be no fun. Now it’s Sanetoshi’s turn for his own monologue. He’s wondering about fate and all alone in the annex library till he met this girl. However she rejected to be by his side even though she was the only one who could see the same scenery with him. So he wanted to find out whether fate exists in this world and whether or not that rule governs the universe. Thus the search for Penguindrum if it really exists. Till then, return to the siblings’ side and observes what happen. While Himari is recuperating, Tokyo Sky Metro is holding a memorial anniversary for that incident. Masako learns the other party who has the other half of the diary. Ringo talks to Tabuki about the brothers. He was first shocked to learn they were students of his school because a friend of his was a victim of that incident. However Tabuki doesn’t harbour any desire for revenge since it’s not like they killed Momoka with their own hands. Ringo laments she failed to become Momoka to sooth his and her parents’ pain. But he says there are things in life that can’t be restored and is glad to have met her. For Momoka, she wished she has never found out about their parents.

Episode 14
Eh? Yuri having an affair with her co-star, Tsubasa Yuuki? But she’s a woman despite taking on a man’s role. However she got bored and dumps her. Not even moved by her threats. While speeding along the highway, she narrates no one will reach her heart as she has discarded her past. She starts crying upon knowing no one will ever need her in this world full of lies. Not even for eternity. Ringo bumps into Shouma in the streets. However Shouma is in no mood. He tells her off he can never make it up to her no matter what he does and that it just hurts to talk to her. He doesn’t want to see her anymore and they’re over. Poor Ringo is left crying in the middle of the street. She got what she deserved? Kanba gives Sanetoshi money as promised but it’s not enough due to fluctuation in market price, though he is impressed for a high school kid he managed to get this much. He promises to get the rest of the money and with a few more ampoules, Himari will be well enough to go home. Himari has finished knitting a pair of scarf for Hibari and Hikari. I don’t know what’s gotten into her so she decides to throw them away. Sanetoshi decides to pick them up. Ringo is in another round of depression and this time Tabuki isn’t the cause. She finds an unlikely saviour in Yuri as she picks her up. Kanba gets the money he needs from some guys in coats. They’re all taken out by Masako as she threatens the danger he is getting into. Even so, he will not ask her help. Masako mentions she has trained his eyes only for him and knows everything about him. She points he is madly in love with Himari but Kanba clears the air and just wants to save his precious family. Masako leaves and will seize happiness in her own way. Yuri and Ringo spend some time together at a hotspring inn. She asks about Tabuki and it seems they were classmates in elementary school. This means she also knows Momoka. Yuri views Momoka as an amazing person and notes the many traits Ringo has similar to her. Then about her marriage to Tabuki was just for show (is she kidding?) but more precisely, they’re bounded by the wheels of fate. Yuri has drugged Ringo’s drink. And when she’s out, she notes how she is a carbon copy of Momoka. OMG! Is Yuri going to rape her?! Is she into S&M play?! Yuri continues Momoka is the only person who knew all about her because in this world full of lies, nobody knows the real me and still thinks she’s beautiful. Since beauty is truth, no one loves her. Momoka was her soul mate and will do whatever it takes to see her. And that time has come again because Yuri has the other half of the diary! So she was the motorcyclist that snatched her diary? She wants Ringo to become Momoka despite knowing she’ll hate her once she sees her true self.

Episode 15
Shouma’s friend is treating him to a stay at the hotspring. But Shouma feels guilty for saying harsh words to Ringo. Just when he got a mail from her, she blames him it’s all his fault. He calls her and from the way she is saying things, he thinks she’s going to commit suicide. His friend is eavesdropping the juicy and steamy conversation next door and Shouma realizes he’s also hearing the same conversation! They’re just next door?! He rushes next door and sees Ringo sleeping peacefully. However he trips and knocks himself out on a bottle. Thanks #2 (read sarcasm). Flashback time for Yuri. She notes as long as she sees that tower (a giant building in the form of Michelangelo’s statue), she’ll never be free. Her father was a sculptor and likes beautiful things. However he didn’t mince his words to tell Yuri was ugly just like her mother. He went on to brainwash this poor kid’s mind that ugly children are loved by no one including himself. So of course Yuri will do whatever it takes to earn her daddy’s love. I guess that means getting violated to be his sculpture of perfection. Then she met Momoka who was the only person who talked to her. They talk about Ugly Duckling and Yuri believed ugly things need to endure till they become beautiful. But Momoka doesn’t find them ugly since God created this world. So when Yuri’s father finds out she made a friend, he sows more doubt into her head by telling she’s a liar and can’t be trusted. The only people she can trust are family members like him. F*ck you! Yuri tells Momoka never to talk to her again but she’s unperturbed. She calls her out because she wants to get Yuri to trust her and says she can chant a spell to change fate with this diary and transfer fate to another. She tells about how she changed a fate of a rabbit who is supposed to die and the price she paid was just a little cut on her finger. So learning that the tower is her father who is always watching her, as long as it stands she’ll never be free, she is going to make the tower disappear. But Yuri doesn’t believe her and calls her a liar since she would rather die than live without being loved. Yuri’s father has got his ultimate chisel and is moments away from turning Yuri into a masterpiece he will love eternally. Himari sees Double H on TV and notices the scarf she sewed for them. She is amazed at him. Kanba makes his full payment and wonders how he knows those idols were Himari’s friends. Well, it’s a doctor’s job to know about his patients. Masako is disguising as an inn hostess and cleaning up Yuri’s room. She hints she hates celebrities because they’re always desperate for love. That’s why they’re consumed by the desire to make up for their childhood. Masako reveals her true intention to take the other half of the diary and the women face off. Slingshot versus table tennis bat? Don’t underestimate Yuri. She can return the shots even if it’s pitch black! Eventually Yuri slips up and the diary falls into Masako’s hands as she makes her quick escape. Funny note: Why does Esmeralda need flippers to swim away? She’s a penguin for heaven’s sake! However the real half of the diary is still in Yuri’s safe hands. She tells Shouma what has happened and somebody took the bait on the fake one. She admits she was the one who stole Ringo’s diary half and needs this diary. Continuing Yuri’s flashback, when she wakes up from her father’s masterpiece, she is shocked to see the tower gone. Has the scenery changed because of Momoka’s spell? She learns Momoka suddenly busted into flames. She was hospitalized and told Yuri her father was left behind with that tower (in place of it is now Tokyo Tower) and he won’t be coming back. Yuri wonders why she went this far. It’s because she loves her a lot and that she is beautiful the way she is now. Soon Momoka disappeared after that incident. She will use the diary’s spell to transfer to another fate and bring Momoka back to this world.

Episode 16
Now for an episode focusing on Masako. When she was young, her father left the family but hopes they could live as a family once more and entrusted Mario in her care. Masako realizes the diary she got is just a replica because of Yuri’s taunting voice recorder. It exploded and almost caused a fire! She sends Renjaku, her trusted maid to continue observing the Takakura siblings. Masako narrates about her late grandpa, Sahei who built the Natsume Clan from scratch. He’s got a “Grandpa” note covered over his face? Masako inherited all that and holds the top position. See her make business decisions! Himari appreciates Sanetoshi’s kind act to give the scarves to Double H and befriends him. This doesn’t sit well with Kanba so she warns him not to badmouth the doctor. Renjaku continues to video tape Himari but it seems she got summoned for a Survival Strategy! Crystal knows she’s been spied on and lets Renjaku have a taste of her own medicine. Hey, Renjaku is quite pretty when she loosens up. Anyway she thought it was a dream. Masako remembers how she always dreams of killing grandpa with her elaborated (and hilarious) schemes only to wake up seeing him alive and stronger than ever. She fears if he is still alive, her father will not return. To Sahei, everyone is either a winner or loser and has absolute control over everything in the clan. He once burnt all their soft toys and the treasured letter from Masako’s father, whom he badmouths as an embarrassment to the clan (he couldn’t stand Sahei’s oppression and thus left). Because males can only be the heir, he will train Mario into a man worthy of carrying on the name. The training seems harsh… And perverted… That’s when Masako met Kanba and told him about her predicament and vows to crush that old geezer even if it curses her. If that’s the case, he’ll keep her company. One day, Sahei had this urge to eat his own handmade puffer fish. Being the amateur, he died eating its poison. Just like that. The strongest man who vowed never to be crushed just gone like that. And Masako didn’t even lift a finger. But even so, his death didn’t bring daddy back. To her horror, Mario starts acting like Sahei like as though he reincarnated in that kid. Or is he possessed? Mario challenges her eat a plate of puffer fish. One is done by a certified chef and the other laced with little poison. The survivor becomes the heir. Since Masako is hesitant, Mario makes his move first and believes in his luck. But Masako won’t let him and pushes him into the pond before devouring both plates! OMG! She got poisoned! I’m amazed she got enough strength and consciousness to pick up a call from Sanetoshi who is explaining the deadly effects of the puffer fish toxin. I didn’t know a single milligram could kill 5,000 mice! Masako finds herself in a train and sees Kanba mixing with a group of shady people. She wants him to stay away from them because she thinks they’ll use him and toss him aside. Sanetoshi explains they are chosen to put the world back on track by taking it back. What about the deal to save Mario? Oh, he’ll save him. Provided if she joins them as the chosen one. Masako wakes up after 3 days after hovering between life and death and miraculously didn’t die of the poison. Even though Kanba ‘went’ with them, she vows not to take that train.

Episode 17
Shouma tells Kanba Yuri has the other half of the diary. Kanba doesn’t want him to worry where he gets the money for Himari’s medicine and wants him to continue smiling. The siblings are spending time like a family like they should in the hospital room eating takoyakis (why is there a battle raging on between the penguins and the octopus?!). Himari asks their opinion of a sweater she is knitting as a thank you gift for a man. Is it ‘that guy’? I’m sure Kanba doesn’t like it but well… Then Crystal had to ruin it all with another Survival Strategy call. Wipe your mouth clean before you speak! The usual. She tells them not to waste time in getting Penguindrum but doesn’t tell them what it is. They have to get it otherwise someone whom they treasure most will suffer and get punished. Guess who? Kanba laments he can’t be the one to save Himari but Crystal believes he can do it. Yuri and Tabuki are talking about things. Yuri harbours deep hatred for the Takakura family for what they’ve done to Momoka but Tabuki has no feelings for them seeing regret and hatred won’t bring the dead back and that the children weren’t directly responsible for that incident. Of course they can’t forget about Momoka and the fun days they spent together. Tabuki knows Ringo is Ringo and can’t be Momoka. Sanetoshi narrates about humans and their own versions of truths that cause them to fight and die for it. It’s time for Himari’s medication but she has left a note she has went out shopping (because she feels so much better). She has to be back before sun down or else. What else? The brothers run around to find her. Himari is shopping at a fabric store with Ringo. She says she’s knitting sweaters for her brothers and wants her to keep it a secret. Ringo gets a call from Yuri to meet but when she mentions Himari’s name, Yuri invites her to have dinner together. Though, her irritated expression doesn’t really match her polite words. Hey! They’re even in the same store and didn’t realize it! Yuri waits in a dark car park as she imagines killing Himari. Then it’s a showdown between Yuri and Masako over the diary. One ones to bring Momoka back, the other to save Mario’s life. They trade insults (in a polite manner) and philosophies of life and since neither are going to give in, it’s face off! Woah! Yuri’s got a badass crossbow and Masako a kickass gatling gun! Fire away! At a cafe, Ringo tells Himari she can meet Yuri because she told her she is her biggest fan. Tabuki happen to be there and brings them to see Yuri. Riding the elevator to the building top, Tabuki mentions he invited them here because he wants to let them know something. He wants to show them the meaning of his life and today, shall hand down the punishment to the Takakura family.

Episode 18
Is it Tabuki’s turn for his story? Seems like it. When he was young, his mother loved people with talent and married a pianist. Oh God. Not another sicko. After Tabuki was born, she found her husband wasn’t as talented as she hoped and ditched him. Then she remarried a talented composer and had a child. It didn’t take long for Tabuki to discover his step brother is a genius so he did all he could to practice his piano but to no avail. Mommy loved his step brother more because he was more talented. Soon Tabuki found himself in an area called Child Broiler, where unwanted children are tossed away and stayed here to the point they become invisible, then vanish from society. Tabuki was resigned to his fate when Momoka busted in to save him. Despite his severed fingers he can’t play piano anymore, Momoka still loved his music. The music of his heart. Tabuki was still unconvinced seeing this way he will be free from his mom and piano. But Momoka risked injury to her hand to pull him free. She says she loves him and that he has to be himself. That’s why she doesn’t want him to be invisible. Tabuki is pulled to freedom as Momoka says this must be fate since they both have severed hands to match. In reality, Tabuki pulls Himari out of the elevator and locks Ringo in it and let her watch the punishment he is going to met and the reason why Momoka wanted him to live. He calls Kanba and wants him to bring his dad here in exchange for his sister. Kanba arrives but without Kenzan. Heck, he’s missing, right? Himari is on a tray hanged precariously on some wires. A push of the button will set the explosive off a wire and send Himari closer to her death. Kanba insists he doesn’t know where Kenzan is but Tabuki is not convinced. Ringo threatens to call the cops but Tabuki knows she’ll be doing Kanba a great disservice. Kanba pleads her not to. Tabuki knows Kanba’s secret. How he got money for Himari’s medication and has photo proofs of the shady people he met. Kanba continues to deny he knows anything so Tabuki explains how special Momoka was. If she was here, many unfortunate events would’ve been averted. Just like the incident his father was responsible. Momoka tried to stop it but couldn’t save everyone and vanished from the world while leaving him behind.

Himari is a wire away from plunging below and Kanba continues to swear he doesn’t know about Kenzan’s whereabouts. In that case, Tabuki will have him take the punishment. He is going to test how much he cares for his sister for his hand grasping the wire is the only thing that is stopping her from falling. Tabuki sets off the final explosive as Kanba clings on tightly, not caring what happens to his hand. Thankfully #1 bloated up and became a weight to help Kanba hold his ground. Seeing Kanba’s determination in not letting his hand go, Tabuki remembers Momoka. He felt like an ugly monster. Momoka tried to save him and yet he became a failure of life. When he lost Momoka, he lost the meaning of his life. Himari couldn’t bear to see Kanba suffer anymore and is prepared to jump off as she concludes her illness is incurable. She is prepared to take her father’s punishment. She jumps off, much to Kanba’s dismay. However it is Tabuki who saves her. Safely returning Himari to Kanba’s arms, Tabuki frees Ringo and whispers not to grow up to be like him. By this time, Shouma arrives (Ringo called him earlier). I guess he missed everything. But thankfully everyone is alright. Also missing this ‘interesting show’ is Yuri whom Tabuki bumps into at the bottom of the building. He notes they are a fake family using each other. Yuri slaps him. Tabuki says goodbye. Probably Yuri and Masako’s showdown ended in a draw seeing they still own each half of the diary. While the siblings huddle together, Ringo says she’ll never hate their family. Sad and painful things aren’t pointless and if that’s fate, then they must have a reason to happen. She will accept it and become stronger.

Episode 19
Despite Kanba said he doesn’t know where Kenzan is, we see him talking to his parents at a ramen shop! They’re both alive and well. Man, Kanba was strong to put up such a poker face. Kenzan praises him a job well done since it’s his duty to protect the family till they carry out the mission. He has one of his men slip Kanba the money. Tabuki has resigned and gone away. He returns his ring to Yuri. She remembers suggesting to be together as a family. This way, they’ll be with Momoka for eternity. They can pretend at first and slowly turn into a real one. But that isn’t going to happen right now so Yuri vows to bring Momoka back herself. However she needs the other half of the diary if she is to transfer fate. Ringo celebrates with the siblings over her discharge and return. Himari gives her brothers a sweater she knitted each as appreciation. Surprise? Himari sees Shouma and Ringo close enough and her heart is stirred. Later she sees Sanetoshi and thinks he released her because her disease is incurable as each time he increased to dosage of the medicine. He assures she won’t. Seeing her troubled face, he lets her spill out what’s bugging her. She feels she doesn’t belong at home anymore and wants things the way before. However he cautions if she realizes that, something precious to her will crumble. Maybe her feelings, truth or past. Later Masako sees Sanetoshi and wants him to decipher the ‘spell’ of the diary to save Mario’s life since she assumes ‘spell’ as some medication. However he tells her he’s a magician trying to put the world back on track. Masako won’t allow him to let Kanba do his bidding and will not get on that train of fate either. She leaves in a huff and Sanetoshi notes she is angry. Hopefully angry enough to burn the diary since he can’t win the game with that thing around. Masako is about to burn it but have second thoughts that the diary may be the key to save Mario’s life. Shouma and Kanba talk on the train. Shouma can’t forgive his father since because of him, many others hold a grudge towards the family. Meanwhile Himari greets a person at the door that turns out to be Masako. She lets herself in hoping to find Kanba but he’s not in. She wants to retrieve something back. Well, Kanba being the playboy I’m sure he had received countless gifts but as Masako notes, he rejected them all. So what is it that she wants returned? Love. Eh? Himari thought she has mistaken her for Kanba’s girlfriend and clarifies she is his sister. But Masako scorns her that she’s not even part of the real family. Kanba can’t come back to her if Himari continues to pretend to be his sister! She is going to make her remember with a custom-made recollection ball. Before she can fire, the brothers return. She misses and Himari runs outside. Kanba wants to know why she’s here and her answer is to take back her past and her love. Masako corners Himari outside and she missed again thanks to Kanba kicking her slingshot. Himari trips and starts to remember her true past. She was an unneeded child at the Child Broiler too. She too resigned to her fate when she heard a voice to come home with him. He assures her not to worry even though they aren’t family because they have magic. He hands her an apple and wants to share this fruit of fate. Himari is grateful and takes the apple. She now remembers that person whom she shared it with: Shouma.

Episode 20
Flashback reveals Kenzan was giving his speech to his followers about the corrupt world. They plan to cleanse this world with their Flame of Hope. The brothers come to Himari’s protection but Masako tells them this pretend family cannot go on any longer and leaves. Though life returns to normal for the siblings, Himari sees Sanetoshi and he tells her about some love story about chasing and running away. What he’s trying to tell her is that her love won’t materialize but Himari is okay with that since she won’t fall in love. Then she mentions if she is the chaser, the one being chased would refuse to give her the fruit. His reply is if the one being chased does, the game would easily end. Sanetoshi notes she wants to obtain the fruit and that a kiss isn’t enough. Kissing without the fruit makes her empty. Sanetoshi gets close to her probably trying to make us think he’s trying to kiss her. Since Himari is in a dilemma, he tells her to let her heart decide since kisses are perhaps the only real fruits. Shouma talks to Ringo. He feels he should be the one to bear the punishment and blames it on his parents though Ringo doesn’t feel it’s his fault to begin with. Shouma says Himari was chosen by him as family. Flashback time. During Kenzan’s speech with his followers to prepare the next Judgment Day (including changing their organization’s name to Kiga Group to mislead authorities), young Kanba, Masako and Mario were at the speech too. Shouma probably didn’t want to hang around that boring speech and as he wanders, sees Himari by herself on the steps. She isn’t enthusiastic about life since she’s waiting for her mom who never returned. Next time he meets her, he finds her observing an abandoned kitten. To her, those unselected will die. Shouma got this idea to take care of it till it’s adopted by someone. So they spend happy moments together raising the kitten and bonded. However due to the place’s strict policy on no pets, one day it was thrown away. Himari didn’t feel pity since she still believes the world is divided into those who are chosen and those who aren’t. After that day, Shouma never saw her again except for a goodbye note. He talks to Kenzan about the Child Broiler she is headed to. After learning the horrible truth about that place, he rushes over while reminiscing the contents of the letter in which she was happy to have met him. It was the first time waiting wasn’t painful and it felt like they were a family. Shouma busts into Child Broiler to rescue Himari and she thanks him for choosing her. So that’s how Shouma brought Himari into the Takakura family. Meanwhile Kanba sees his parents at the ramen shop. While Kenzan talks about the need to cleanse the world due to the increasing invisible children at Child Broiler, Kanba knows he needs money for Himari’s treatment and feels he is the only one who can save her.

Episode 21
A reporter approaches Ringo wanting to hear her comment about the make believe siblings and Kanba’s shady activities. However she tells him off not to publish a made up story. So Ringo talks to Himari about it and she already knows her past from Shouma. Himari explains their house is called Mika House. Just like that doll house. She wanted it so much but her parents never bought it. After they left, she cried every day so her brothers remodelled the house by painting it with bright colours down to modifying her bed and pink teddy bear to look like the real deal. However Tabuki’s words of Kanba’s shady activities still ring in her mind so that night she sneaks out to follow Kanba to that ramen shop. She remembers a reporter showing photo proof of Kanba’s suspicious activities since it is unthinkable for a high school student to afford that kind of medical treatment. Seems the source of the money is from people who are remnants of their parents’ organization. Their money is paying for her life. Kanba laments Himari isn’t getting better. Is it because he doesn’t have enough money? His parents are proud of him for doing a good job and that they are all their precious future. Once Kanba leaves, Himari enters the shop. It is dark and rundown unlike what we have seen. Then she stumbles upon something shocking. Meanwhile Sanetoshi ‘interviews’ Washizuka, Himari’s previous doctor. He asks if he believes in ghosts. A man of science, of course not. So for a certain person to see dead people, he merely believes it’s just hallucination. He sees a photo of Kenzan and his group on some Arctic expedition. He sees his old assistant of his who unfortunately became the leader of a criminal organization and died after a terrible incident. Doesn’t that person look like Sanetoshi?! Sanetoshi admits he was just inches away from succeeding till Momoka got in his way. Yes, he is a ghost! Oh shiiii! Shouma confronts Kanba about lying and the way he gets money for Himari’s treatment from the remnants. He doesn’t want to think too much about it since everything will be solved if he gets the money. Of course Shouma didn’t like it a bit and they both fight. Obviously Kanba is much better and comes out tops. He still believes all Himari needs is money and ends their relationship. How can they end their relationship as brothers? Kanba says they just happened to be born on the same day and were different from the start. Just strangers. All 3 of them. Kanba tells Shouma he can’t save Himari and to just sit back and watch him do the rescuing. Shouma goes after him but he is too late because Kanba has given orders to his men to ram a truck into the pesky reporter’s car, killing him.

Himari waits for them to return and in the mean time she remembers meeting Masako at her terrace. Masako explains she is Kanba’s real biological sister. Out of concern for Masako and Mario, he abandoned the family and everything to stay with their father’s side. Because of Himari, Kanba is in a dangerous position now. He is involved with the remnants of the organization responsible for that incident 16 years ago. Kanba is doing everything for Himari and they must stop him otherwise he will be killed. Tabuki finally finds the ramen shop he believes Kenzan is hiding. Upon entering, he is shocked to see the decomposed body of Kenzan underneath the counter. Yuri then comes in and tells him their revenge was over a long time ago. She wants him to return to their home. A remnant watching outside attacks them. When Shouma returns home, he tells Himari that Kanba has left home and to stop playing house. He thinks their family should never have existed in the first place and at this rate will end up unhappy. Himari agrees to his suggestion to go live with their uncle and packs her belongings. She thanks him for everything and returns the scarf (the thing he wrapped around her when they first met), the bond that connected them. Now that she has given it back, they’re just strangers. Shouma starts shedding tears and remembers the cruel revelation he learnt from Sanetoshi a few days ago that Himari’s days are numbered. The medicine isn’t working anymore since by using it too frequently it has build up immunity and lost its potency. But Himari doesn’t return to her uncle’s place. In fact, she joins Kanba and his organization. He is in the midst of planning with the other men on their next move to save Himari. However this is part of Himari’s plan to stop him even if it costs her life. Flashback 10 years ago when Kanba’s real father died and he met Kenzan at the funeral and became his son (both fathers were good friends). Kanba remembers his father telling he made the mistake of choosing him and has failed his family. Kanba was sad but Himari put a band aid over his face hoping it won’t hurt. At that moment that’s when he vowed to protect her.

Episode 22
Double H is outside Himari’s house but she’s not home. They’re heavily disguised so much so Ringo thought they are suspicious people. Once they take off their disguise, Ringo is surprised to see Double H in the flesh. They are here to give Himari their new CD album. Shouma returns from the police station as they have no leads on Himari’s whereabouts. He was foolish to think she would go to their uncle’s place. Ringo thinks she’s with Kanba. Indeed she is as she watches him commanding orders with his men and putting their plan in action. Kanba remembers he tried to strangle Sanetoshi when he told him Himari was going to die. However he disappeared and reappeared behind his back. Sanetoshi told him he can’t be killed. However there is a way to save Himari and that is to follow their curse. Himari hugs Kanba and doesn’t care if she dies because she realizes his feelings, sacrificed everything for her and will always be together. However Kanba is still going to burn this world to ashes because Himari is his world and will never forgive them if she dies. She tries chasing him but ends up at the aquarium once exiting the door. Realizing this is the place they first met, she thought if she had died then, Kanba wouldn’t have gone through all this. She wants to return this live which has been give to her. I’m not sure if she got her wish because it’s like as though she got shot! Then she lies on the ground, wasting he life away. Elsewhere Yuri meets Ringo. She tells her the other night when she was attacked, the attacker turned out to be Tsubasa blaming her for everything but Tabuki took the stab and is now lying in hospital. Tabuki realized the reason they were left behind. Even though they were beyond help as children, most children in this world are like them and just needed someone to tell them they were loved. Yuri returns Ringo her diary.

Masako follows Kanba and tries to persuade him to surrender because the authorities are closing on him. However he is adamant to save Himari’s life and with some cool iPhone app, he rolls in the explosive balls under the pursuers’ cars and makes them go boom! Where can I get such an app? Masako couldn’t believe her eyes the person Kanba has turned into. Kanba destroys important information from a hideout but finds himself surrounded by the authorities. Kanba escapes via underground which is a very large and complex maze. Masako continues to follow and tries to make him realize. Make him realize that she is his real sister, not Himari. That they were cursed in the past and the horrible thing their father did. He was eventually used and tossed away. She just wants him to tell her she is his precious little sister one more time like before and wouldn’t mind being cursed with him for all eternity. The authorities have also surrounded the area so Kanba drops another bomb to finish them all! At the bottom, gunshots are fired. Kanba runs up to Masako to protect her. Flashback reveals Kanba volunteered to stay behind so that Masako and Mario could be returned to the Natsume Clan. It was painful separation for Masako. Kanba lies in his pool of blood as the remnants of the organization are at a lost what to do. Masako wants them to surrender but they know they’ll never be forgiven and will be killed if they go out. They take Kanba’s body away as Masako decides to buy time for Kanba to escape. She loads up her gun, apologizing she couldn’t save Mario. Noting this curse of her clan, this world only bears fruit for the greedy. She thought her father who had thrown away everything was a beautiful person. But that beauty comes with a shadow. And that shadow was a casket. Kanba saved her and Mario from that shadow to a world lit by the sun. She will not let him die in this darkness. Gunshots are heard…

Episode 23
Flashback 16 years ago as Sanetoshi realizes he hated this world and akin people to boxes because they stay in there for the rest of their lives. So he’s getting out to destroy the world. However Momoka confronted him and will recite a spell in the diary to transfer fate. In return, he’ll seal her inside a curse. He places a half-curse that she won’t save everything. Sanetoshi too got the spell from her and she becomes the penguin hat. Two of them. As Himari is being hospitalized, Shouma learns from Washizuka that Himari has until at least tomorrow morning to leave. About Sanetoshi, he doesn’t remember who he is except he dreamt of him interviewing him (he still doesn’t believe in ghosts). He lets Shouma know he was his ex-assistant who died 16 years ago. Kanba is bent on destroying the world to save Himari. So Sanetoshi decides to show him his magic. Whisking him to Masako’s mansion whereby she is lying on her deathbed, Masako dies (from the gunshot wounds). Then Sanetoshi revives her and those around her thought it’s a miracle. Kanba is convinced that he can save Himari. Masako sees Kanba and tries to warn him not to get on that train but too late. He has left and will destroy as much as he can. Shouma talks to Himari about the time she was at the beach and felt so scared that her family went home without her. It was the first time she felt she would be found and knew her brothers would always find her no matter how far they were. It was tears of happiness. Himari wants him to stop Kanba as she feels he thinks he is all alone in this world. Suddenly the window breaks. Kanba threw #1 crashing into it? Anyway he is here to take Himari and will follow their parents’ will to bring this world back on track. Shouma won’t allow him. Kanba hugs him and shoots him in the back. Ringo remembers Yuri returned half her diary because she realized Momoka left it behind for her. Somewhere inside is a spell to transfer fate. Ringo wasn’t sure but Yuri believes when the time is right, she’ll find it. She gets a call from Kanba who wants her to bring her half of the diary and meet since he has the other half.

At the aquarium, Ringo did as she was told and tries to persuade Kanba to go visit Himari together. Yeah, they’ll go together alright. To the new world. Ringo senses something amiss because Kanba is talking via black teddy bear and that he knows about her possession of half the diary since she hasn’t told anyone about it. The one who told him was his ‘friend’. Sanetoshi pops up and mentions how relieved he is. He was afraid and had a feeling Momoka would get him again as long as that diary existed. The teddy bear explodes, knocking Ringo off her feet. Her diary catches fire. The odd part is, why is she trying to save it by putting it close to her heart? I mean, shouldn’t she be flapping or stomping to put the flames out? Is she trying to save it with love? Too bad in that case her love wasn’t strong enough has the diary turns into ashes. Sanetoshi thinks it’s good for her too seeing if she had cast the spell, the curse of the fire would’ve burnt her entire body away and be erased from the world. Meeting up with Kanba, he tells him to burn his diary half he got from Masako since he can’t touch it. Kanba does so and they board the Destiny Express. Shouma wakes up and it seems Kanba didn’t kill him. He hears the penguin hat talking to him. Isn’t that Momoka’s voice? She tells him to quickly head for Destiny Express as it will be leaving soon. He can’t miss it as the black bunny is going to destroy the world. She believes he and Kanba are the only ones who can stop this. And on that train, he will find his Penguindrum. Shirase and Souya narrate how their revenge will come true on the world that had abandoned them. Sanetoshi narrates about that box thingy called ‘self’ and how humans can’t escape them and that those boxes don’t protect them. It takes precious things away and will never gain anything inside it. Shouma manages to get on the train and confronts Kanba. He’s going to settle things once and for all. Another flashback 10 years ago when they both first met. They’re inside a caged box and don’t remember things.

Episode 24
Both the boys are starving and weak. They made a promise whoever got out of the box first will do something in the other’s stead. But Kanba noticed something at the corner of his box. It’s an apple. However Shouma had none. This means Kanba is the chosen one while Shouma accepts his fate to die. In the train, Shouma faces off with Kanba. But Sanetoshi mocks that he cannot give Kanba what he wants unlike him. Kanba will complete his mission to save Himari. Ringo manages to get on board the train in time. She has Momoka’s spell to transfer fate. Sanetoshi thinks it’s crap because the diary is burnt. On the contrary Ringo knows the most important phrase of the spell thanks to Double H. It’s in the new song named after the phrase Himari cherished most. Even if it ends up burning her, Ringo doesn’t mind and wants to save people. Things are getting abstract now because in Crystal’s world, we see Himari trying to convince Kanba to come back to her. She mentions about being punished in small doses (like the brothers’ bad habits). Because of them, she felt alive. She was able to be who she was. Kanba is in pain. Like his blood is splattering out from his body while Himari hugs him. As for Shouma, he’ll return what he shared to him that day. Their love and punishment too. Shouma rips out his heart (sort of). Gives it to Himari for her to give it to Kanba. This is what Penguindrum is. When Kanba was the only one who had the apple in the box, he gave half of his to Shouma to share the fruit of fate. “Let’s share the fruits of fate!”. That is the spell word and what Ringo shouted out for the spell transfer. In that instant, she is engulfed in flames. But Shouma takes it on her behalf and confesses he likes her before burning into oblivion. Kanba while taking Himari in her hands sacrifices himself so Himari could live before vanishing. Her heart beats again. Sanetoshi warns they will never escape the curse and will simply disappear without leaving anything behind. They’ll never happy. I don’t think he cares what he says now. Sanetoshi and Momoka meet. She says the train has left but he is confident it will come again. Even if he’s not going anywhere, she’s leaving. Goodbye. Back in reality, a crowd of people gather around unconscious Ringo and Himari. In the aftermath, Tabuki and Yuri are together. They narrate about being left behind. Even if fate steals everything, loved children will still find happiness. They were left behind to do just that. Masako regains consciousness and is glad Mario has to. She tells him the strangest dream she had that she had another brother who called her his precious sister. Himari and Ringo are still friends but have no recollection who Kanba and Shouma are. But when Himari sees a note left behind by her brothers, she can’t understand why she’s crying. Kanba and Shouma have been reverted to their child form. They’re still together talking about fate while the penguins including Esmeralda follow them.

Destiny’s Child – I’m A Survivor
Let me admit this first. I’m not the smartest guy around so when I started thinking back and trying to put and piece all the events together to make sense, I got even more confused. So in my slightly desperate attempt to understand at least the basic of what really happened, I went to this ‘wonderful’ site, The Penguindrum Station and read through some of the points and wahlah! Suddenly some of those blur parts became clear. It has almost everything possible on what you want to know about the show and I could say it’s quite comprehensive (except maybe for the episode summary part). For instance about Sanetoshi. I’m sure he had his bitter reasons in wanting to blow the world up but I just couldn’t find his connection with Momoka (despite his flashback episode) till I read this site. From what I understand, he was in love with Momoka because they both were alike but she rejected him. In the end, their different ideals made them rivals. He wanted to destroy the world, she wanted to save it. He was part of the Kiga Group responsible for that deadly incident. That’s why when Momoka tried to stop him, they placed cursed spells on each other. Momoka split into 2 penguin hats while Sanetoshi into 2 black rabbits. Thus Crystal’s true form has always been Momoka. It was also Sanetoshi who sent especially #3 to lure Himari to him and after revealing her past, he sent the penguins to the home of the Takakura siblings. Because Sanetoshi is a ghost, he can’t really have physical contact in this world and took advantage of Kanba’s love for Himari to manipulate him into planting bombs around to finish the nefarious job he couldn’t complete.

I guess overall this show is a good try but there are still several points that made me ponder. For instance, the Penguindrum. I suppose the producers want to keep viewers guessing throughout the series what the hell that Penguindrum thingy is. We are made to believe it is that diary but your guts will tell you it’s not as simple and obvious. I mean, for some unknown reasons, Crystal just doesn’t want to properly explain what Penguindrum is. It could have saved them lots of time. But thinking about it, if they can’t really remember what it was by themselves, then it defeats the purpose entirely. So why call it Penguindrum? Shouldn’t they have named it Big-Red-Apple-Fruit-Of-Destiny? That would be easier to remember, right? Instead of making the brothers go on a wild goose chase. Then if Crystal’s real identity is Momoka, the amusing part is her vulgar and blunt attitude. Unless you’re telling me Momoka has a split personality, that girl as far as I can see is a nice girl with nice words who will sacrifice herself to save others. Then comes Crystal, her first lines are to mouth off the brothers by labelling them ‘low-lives that would amount to anything’. So how can I really see the connection that Momoka and Crystal are the same entity? And what is this Survival Strategy that she wants to initiate? I wouldn’t believe it’s just discussion in her world, right? And how did Masako get Esmeralda as her penguin? How did the penguin hat end up with Mario? I guess it was that puffer fish incident and big probability it was Sanetoshi working his schemes again trying to convince Masako to destroy the diary (since he can’t do it himself and the unexpected Yuri somewhat thwarted this), hop aboard his train since her father seems to be linked with Kiga Group. But she didn’t take the bait like Kanba did. It was also never clear why Himari left school, thus Triple H materialized into Double H instead. I’m not sure if Himari keeps in touch with them frequently but to Double H as seen in the final episodes, they still consider Himari their dear friend.

The characters themselves are okay. As the episodes progress we learn more about the siblings. Basically I don’t understand what fate or curse they were bestowed upon. Not that I understand but fate must be cruel enough to try and separate the siblings. The brothers were trying so hard to save Himari and maintain as a family that it’s sad that it didn’t turn out that way in the end. I guess it wasn’t their fate. Or rather they threw away their fate so that Himari could live and in a world where they don’t exist. At least not as their teenager selves. At first when Masako appeared, I thought she was some crazy obsessed ex-lover-turned-stalker because of the way she stalks Kanba. What’s more, Kanba has got a reputation as a Playboy. She was aggressive and unyielding. Then when we find out she is his real sister, I thought her character ‘weakened’. She tried to stop Kanba but was just powerless. Just like the other side characters like Tabuki, Yuri and Ringo, once their limelight is over, it feels like they’ve been casted aside to a lesser role. Ringo was an equally desperate and crazy b*tch trying to get into the pants of Tabuki but after that failed and witnessing Tabuki’s punishment of the siblings, it’s hard to notice her presence in the remainder save for the final scenes. Even if each of them had their crazy reasons of wanting the diary to make their dream come true (something which involves bringing back Momoka), it feels the fight for the diary was like a side distraction. We see it change several hands. We see Yuri and Masako doing a gun battle over it (I wish I get to see that scene) but in the end, was it the diary that they really need? It was just a tool they think would bring them closer to achieving their dream. In the overall picture, it felt like a big war between Sanetoshi and Momoka, each trying to use their ‘pawns’ to win. It was like Sanetoshi faction (Masako and Kanba) against Momoka faction (Yuri and Shouma), don’t you think? Momoka giving those a twist of fate and Sanetoshi turning fate worse than death. Another amusing thing about these minor characters is their catchphrase. Most of them if you notice say this sentence over and over again. Well, for the early parts. For Sanetoshi, it’s “Isn’t it electrifying?”; Masako: “Gosh, I must quickly crush him/her”; Yuri: “Fabulous Max!”; Ringo: “Destiny!” (at least when she’s still head over heels over Tabuki”; Crystal: “Let’s initiate the Survival Strategy”.

But the stars of this show are the penguins. Yes, you have to agree with me on this one. They are the most amusing penguins ever and the only reason I can think of about their role in this anime is for comic relief. You see, no matter how tense the dramatic suspense is, you will definitely the penguins doing something cute and funny. Guaranteed. It’s like they’re in a different world of their own. Even in the face of danger whether the rope is going to snap and send them plunging to their death, they’re just doing something that will make you smile! It somewhat distracts you from the serious stuff and the storyline. That’s why they are so fun to watch. For example, #1 is such a pervert. Reading his porn magazines, stealing female’s lingerie and looking up a girl’s skirt. If it was a human guy, I’m sure you won’t find it cute anymore. I just can’t help laugh each time #1 cowers in fear whenever Esmeralda tries to make her advance on him and he’s not very fond of it. Yeah, she never gives up. Just like Masako’s perseverance. Even trying to pose in sexy poses won’t do the trick but she doesn’t give up. Wait. Penguin in sexy pose? I guess that #1 is more into human porn. Towards the end when Kanba becomes a terrorists, #1 forgoes his porn! Not even the temptation of the magazines could bring him back! Yeah, they can even really make this a funny scene. For #2, I thought the bug spray would be his eternal trademark but halfway through, I guess they ran out of bugs to spray, huh? And yeah, being the big glutton he is, he devours just about any food he can get his hands on. Sometimes nearly choking to death. And he still continues to stuff. Don’t you just love them? #3 isn’t as comical and does helps out more as compared to the duo. Though I just find her funny adopting a blonde wig. Penguin and wig combo? Never heard of it.

At first I thought the unique animation style and visuals were of SHAFT or at least Silver Link but once again it got me. The studio production for this series turns out to be Brains Base, the studio responsible for producing Baccano and Kurenai. Being an original anime production that is not based on any manga, I suppose that the production people did quite a fantastic job in displaying the few visual styles. You can call it crazy, you can call it plain odd or you can just call it creative. They’re just different than your typical anime that you see nowadays. For instance, every unimportant extra character is in the men or women form that you see in signs. I guess this really makes it easier for my eyes to spot where the main characters, eh? Ringo’s royal fantasy about Tabuki (and usually ends up being crushed by her arch nemesis Yuri) takes shape as a 2D cut-out cardboard play. And Crystal’s exaggerated appearance scene is filled with. Well, I don’t know what you call all those cute and funny symbols floating around and in the background. I thought this was going to be one of the mandatory scenes you’ll see in every episode because they’re repeating it for almost every episode in the first half. Once that dies down, this scene appears sparingly. Speaking of ‘mandatory scenes’, you’ll notice a few. For example, the train station turnstile which serves as an indicator of the location of the next scene. Then the flashback screen board with that screaming ringing siren in the background heralding the start of a flashback. The Slogan Of The Day that you’ll see on the screens in the Tokyo Sky Metro train hosted by Double H as they share with commuter’s today’s short animation advice of the do’s and don’t’s in life. I’m sure you can learn a lot from these little helpful bits. I guess everyone is too busy with their own stuff to be paying attention. And not forgetting the mid-intermission which shows the series’ title moving on to the next train stop each time it advances an episode. Yeah, this show is like a slow train ride to the destination. So enjoy the journey.

My favourite segment of the show is the next episode preview. Actually I am not paying to the serious narration of what is going on for the next episode. Heck, I don’t even know or understand if it has something to do with the next episode. If it does, I’m sure it must be subtle. What I am amused in this segment is the animation of the penguin trio. We see them in a certain location while they do funny things that will tickle your funny bone. Like they always have. That location will appear somewhere in the next episode. So it is always fun trying to spot that location when watching the next episode. It always made me go, “Hey! Wasn’t that the place those penguins were fooling around at?”. Yeah, fun indeed. After this segment, the episode ends with an end card illustration. All of them are drawn by Lily Hoshino, a renowned BL manga artist who designed the characters for this series. Also in this segment we get to hear Crystal’s short Survival Strategy line. They can range from funny to serious. For instance, “Survival Strategy, in progress”, “Survival Strategy, it’s too revealing”, “Survival Strategy, might as well be hanged for a penguin as a chicken”, “Survival Strategy, Playboy” and “Survival Strategy, there’s no turning back”.

I guess the voice acting is not bad. Newbie Arakawa takes on the role as Himari and Crystal and did well respectively to bring out the opposing personalities of both characters. Subaru Kimura (Gian in the Doraemon movies) as the voice of Kanba, I thought he sounded a little too mature to sound like a high school kid. He sounded like a young adult but if he didn’t, it wouldn’t have made Kanba sounded like a serious and experienced person. It’s just coincidence that Ryohei Kimura as Shouma (Kodaka in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, Chihiro in Sankarea) had the same surname as Subaru Kimura. But unlike the characters they play, they aren’t blood related. Yui Horie as Masako isn’t in her typical sweet girl roles like Kotori in Da Capo or Tooru of Fruits Basket. Initially the way she sounded reminded me of Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai’s Raika because of the lack of emotion she puts into her character. Subsequently after her real connection with Kanba is revealed, Masako displays slightly more emotions in her voice, albeit they are of worrisome and troubled tone. I’m getting a feeling Aki Toyosaki is moving away from stereotypical voice roles because recently I’ve been hearing her other than ditzy airhead girls. So as Momoka, she sounds more intellect just like her other roles as Nako in Hanasaku Iroha and Aoi Kunieda in Beelzebub. Other casts include Marie Miyake as Ringo (Ami Kirino in Acchi Kocchi), my favourite Mamiko Noto as Yuri (Enma Ai of Jigoku Shoujo), Akira Ishida as Tabuki (Hakkai in Gensoumaden Saiyuki), Yutaka Koizumi as Sanetoshi (Satou in NHK Ni Youkoso), Romi Paku as Tsubasa (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist), Mai Nakahara as Renjaku (Mai in Mai-HiME), Takehito Koyasu as Kenzan (Kururu in Keroro Gunsou) and Kikuko Inoue as Chiemi (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama).

Both the opening themes are sung by Etsuko Yakushimaru Metropolitan Orchestra. However for the first opening theme, Nornir, the odd part is that the lead singer doesn’t feel like she’s singing. From what I can hear, she is somewhat whispering! Either that or she has a sore throat that makes her unable to say her words any louder or just tired and forcing herself to sing. I’m not saying that I couldn’t hear what she sings but you might need to strain your ears to listen to what she says considering the dramatic pop music almost drowns out her voice. The second opening theme, Shounen Yo Ware Ni Kaere doesn’t fare better and it sounds almost similar in terms of her voice volume and the tune of the song. The first half of the series has a fixed ending theme, Dear Future by Coaltars Of The Deep. Again, I thought the voices of the singers are too soft and are being drowned out by the heavy electric guitar riff (which I suppose is the catchy part of the song). I also thought the way they ‘sing’ felt somewhat like a chant. Of course there is Yui Horie version of this song and it sounds clearer and cuter without the electric guitar and it almost sounds like a Chinese piece. But I prefer the one with the electric guitar. Come the second half of the series, it seems that almost every episode has got a new ending piece despite the animation being the same. They are all sung by the seiyuus of Triple H. Ash Grey Wednesday is a slow and sad piano driven piece, Bad News Kuroi Yokan initially starts off with a slow and depressing pace before turning into pop (the whistling reminds me of a Mexican standoff). Asa No Kageri No Naka De is also a slow piece. Changing the pace is Ikare Chimatta Ze, which is a lively and crazy rock n roll piece. The rest of the other tunes, Hide And Seek, Private Girl, Tamashi Kogashite and HEROES ~Eiyuu Tachi, feel like anime idol rock pop. There are also a few insert songs done by Triple H. The catchiest one has to be Rock Over Japan, Crystal’s lengthy appearance scene. Sometimes it makes you want to sing along as well. Breaking the stranglehold on Triple H’s songs, Yuri’s The Tragedy Of M is the insert song for her play of the same name.

Though its name was never mentioned, I believe the horrible incident that happened in this anime is based on the infamous sarin gas attacks in Tokyo’s subway stations by the Aum Shinrikyo Sect. There are several other indications in this anime to indicate it might be this and one of them being the number 95. You’ll see this number quite frequent in certain episodes and that number is the year 1995 whereby the attacks happened. This anime was made in 2011 so it is 16 years after the event. Other than this, I thought this show also parallels to the Liverpool Fab Four, The Beatles. Like Ringo’s name is coincidentally similar Ringo Starr (although Ringo in Japanese means apple while Momoka is peach), there is an Octopus Garden in Ringo’s bedroom (Octopus Garden is a song by The Beatles sung by Ringo Starr) and there is even a line in Rock Over Japan that speaks of John Lennon’s assassination in New York on that cold night! And what about Crystal’s yell of “Imagine!” when her appearance scene completes?

The other thing I think this show is trying to highlight is about abandoned children and bad parenting could lead to irreversible damage to a child’s future. As we can see, there are so many unwanted children just waiting to ‘disappear’. What does this tell us about society? If so many children were being sent to the Child Broiler, don’t you think the human population would have been dwindled? And they say children are our future. I just can’t comprehend how such irresponsible and selfish adults would just toss away an innocent child without even batting an eyelid. Have they no conscious? They were once a child too, right? So it’s no surprise that when these children who survived from ‘disappearing’, they’ll be traumatized and turn into future psychotics? You reap what you sew. The world becomes an even more dangerous place and the vicious cycle repeats itself. Then about those who are chosen and those who are not, I’m not sure about the selection criteria but it doesn’t look like it’s sticking with the survival of the strongest and fittest. Such selection indicates that if you are chosen, you win while it is definite doom for others. No two ways about it. This creates unfairness and unjust. Those not chosen will definitely ask “Why not me?” and feel left out, no chance of trying to show why they deserve to stay.

So this fate and destiny thingy is really up to you to believe in. Some prefer to leave it in the hands of God while others would prefer to carve out their own path with their own hands. Thus if you think about it that if our life has been pre-determined and planned from the very start, what is the meaning of life itself? It’s like as though fate is laughing at us if we try to change it but fail miserably. But if you are really given a chance to alter and change your fate, would you not take this opportunity? Though it is interesting that one can transfer fate but doing so surely must have its repercussions. You can’t flood a parched place without turning some other place into a dry desert, right? Maybe that’s why in reality the 1995 Tokyo subway attacks weren’t as fatal because of Momoka? Tokyo Tower is in now place of a weird statue? Who knows? I wasn’t there in that alternate dimension when it happened. So can I break out of this box of being an otaku or has my fate long been sealed?


November 10, 2012

I’m sure you’ll meet all kinds of people and personalities when you’re in the working culture. Some are nice and friendly while others are just cold and selfish. Yutori-chan isn’t exactly about the working culture but a comedy about the different behavioural of the generation gaps in the work force. In this short ONA that lasts approximately 3-5 minutes, the 3 main characters represent the major generations in Japan. Mainly being Yutori (teenagers), Tsumekomi (between 20s-30s) and Dankai (middle age). Because of the different range in age, you could say that the different level in behaviour and maturity is what makes this series funny because as we all know young people these days are usually the reckless, rebellious, don’t follow orders well and know-it-all attitude type. Yeah, I know. I’ve been there once too. So can the much older counterparts comprehend and tolerate the younger one while getting their work done in this toy company called Popuu?

Episode 1
Shiori Tsumekomi explains to her colleague, Reiko Dankai that she is making preparations for the new part time girl who starts work today. She is Yutori Tanaka but despite looking cute and sweet, she’s somewhat idiotic and selfish. I mean, she’s really expecting Tsumekomi to teach her stuffs if there are things she doesn’t know since it’s her job. For example, Yutori left the photocopy machine halfway because it ran out of paper. Why didn’t she refill it? Because she wasn’t taught how to refill the paper! While Tsumekomi is carrying boxes, Yutori is just standing there watching her. Why didn’t she help? Because she didn’t ask! By the time Tsumekomi explains every step (yes, even where to staple the bullets on the paper), Yutori praises her that she got better at teaching! So it’s no wonder Tsumekomi is just feeling tired at the end of the day. Feeling it’s impossible to get along with her, Yutori gives Tsumekomi a matching handphone strap before leaving. Dankai recognizes the strap as samples from the lockers! Oh sh*t! Embezzlement?!

Episode 2
Thank goodness Tsumekomi teaches Yutori how to handle incoming phone calls. Who knows what disaster might have happened. So when this Yukawa from Accessories Incorporated calls looking for Tanaka, Yutori mentions there are 9 people with such name. Because he can’t remember his first name, Yutori gives hideous descriptions about them! Depressed Tanaka? Smelly Tanaka? Haemorrhoids Tanaka? Since it’s this Haemorrhoids Tanaka he is looking for, Yutori starts calling that Tanaka he’s got a call. She got smacked by Dankai because they might have to compensate those people whom she ‘leaked’ those information! And Tsumekomi is in denial that Yutori was wrong!

Episode 3
Because of Yutori’s mistakes, Dankai is also being yelled by the chief clerk and of course this worries Tsumekomi. Yeah, he’s been yelling at them for a good 20 minutes already. No signs of letting down. Suddenly Yutori’s handphone rings. She picks it up! It’s her friend and she has the cheek to say she’s being yelled at. She also describes the chief clerk’s sliding wig!!! Later as Tsumekomi fails a crane game, Yutori promises to get one and is successful. Tsumekomi is grateful so Yutori brags about her image training. However they end up late for work ad Tsumekomi also gets shelling from the chief clerk. And you can tell Yutori isn’t paying attention because she is doing image training of using the crane hand to lift the chief clerk’s wig.

Episode 4
Tsumekomi is out sick and resting in her home. Suddenly she gets a surprise visit from Yutori. How did she know where she lives? She accessed her PC and found out about her address. There goes her privacy. Yutori also wants to nurse her back to health. You can’t blame Tsumekomi for worrying what she’ll do, right? Her sickness may just get worse. She may not even heal. Surprise, surprise. Yutori handles everything perfectly! No slip ups! And you’re not dreaming either! So when Yutori leaves, Tsumekomi is left dumbfounded and panics that Yutori hasn’t done her punch lines yet!

Episode 5
Dankai is fired up in the sales conference meeting. She sets aggressive duties for the other staffs to rake in the sales. Tsumekomi admires her very much and hopes to be like her but Yutori says she prefers Tsumekomi a lot better. Is that a praise? Wondering why Dankai carries a hammer around, Tsumekomi explains it depends on her mood. Depending on her mood, the items she holds could vary. Holding a hammer means she is in good mood. So if she’s in a bad mood, she’ll be holding a club with nails! And today she is in one sour mood because the chief clerk has made a couple of mistakes in his writing and she’s yelling her head off! No mercy even if he’s the boss! Scary! At times like this, Tsumekomi advises it is better to continue work quietly and wait for the yelling to subside.

Episode 6
Yutori leaves without completing her job and she’s not in for overtime. This is an hourly paid job, you know? Because of that, Tsumekomi has to reschedule and complete her pertion. She can’t finish early as planned. Back home, she feels tired and stressed. She throws a tantrum over her never-ending schedules to feel better. Then she goes to reschedule her plans. One rescheduled plan leads to another till she has to reschedule her life’s plan! Next day, Tsumekomi once again is upset because of Yutori, her schedule is messed up. Yutori has the cheek to say that she needs to live in the spur of the moment instead of making schedules. Doesn’t she just want to strangle her? Telling her off that schedules are necessary to maximise work done in limited time, Yutori points out how she spends most of her time doing schedules. So true… What is the meaning of life…

Episode 7
Tsumekomi is disheartened Yutori didn’t use the company’s format for the questionnaire (because she didn’t say so) and wants her to redo it again. However it’s going home time and no matter how much she loves her, she won’t work overtime unless she pays. Poor Tsumekomi has no choice but to do it on Yutori’s behalf. Suddenly angry Dankai forces Yutori to stay back and complete it! See the club with nails! Better get your ass moving! Work! Work! WORK!!! Dankai then notices the incorrect data used but Tsumekomi points it she got it from her. Dankai realizes and apologizes she gave the wrong data and will give them the new one. Tsumekomi blows her top, lecturing her about the same mistake she did last week and 3 days ago. The section chief notices how well the trio get along with each other.

Episode 8
Bubble from the sales department comes in to talk and brag to Tsumekomi. As she points out to Yutori, he is the company president’s son and in short, he is a useless idiot. Of course, Tsumekomi tries her best to be polite and kind enough to entertain him, much to Yutori’s annoyance. She can’t take it anymore and tries to show off a picture in her handphone of something cooler. Bubble doesn’t want to lose out and does the same. Soon it turns into an argument who has got the best in this or the best in that. Tsumekomi couldn’t be bothered with them and lets them be while she finishes her work.

Episode 9
Yutori learns new terms like vertical launch and bakubai (literally means explosive sales) and is impressed Tsumekomi knows such useless business terms. Useless?! The section chief gathers everyone for their opinion as a sample of a new product has arrived. Yutori tries her hand at this puzzle ball and finds it too hard for kids so he mentions they’re targeting adults. So it’s an adult toy? Instant silence in the room! Since Yutori continues to say the words adult toy, Tsumekomi tells her to stop. Yutori doesn’t understand the meaning behind it and asks Tsumekomi to explain. Embarrassed, she pushes the task to the section chief who in turn pushes it to Dankai. She does not hold back in bluntly explain it to Yutori! Man. What a long beep! Now you understand, Yutori? Later Yutori notices Dankai’s huge breasts and applies her newly learnt terms on them. The boobs are vertical launch and could be bakupai (literally means explosive boobs). Then taking a closer look at Tsumekomi’s flat chest, she concludes they are half price! Meanie!

Episode 10
Yutori gets yelled by the chief clerk for using the company’s PC to do her homework. But do you think she’ll learn from that? Maybe she’ll stop her homework but she’s going to put this on her blog. That is a big no too! The chief clerk notices her messy table and wants to clean up this instant. However she decorates her place prettier. The section chief passes by and notices her decoration and this inspires him to come up with a new PC desktop accessory set. In the end, Yutori gets a bonus from him. The chief clerk just couldn’t believe it.

Episode 11
Yutori is watching an anti-aging product commercial. Old lady turns into a magical girl? WTF. Magically Around 40: Magical Attractive Old Lady! WTF???!!! Yutori’s mom note she is watching such anime despite in high school but she points out her company makes such products and is just doing homework. She wonders if this product can really sell from a commercial like that. Next day as Yutori leaves for school, she returns home to retrieve something she forgot. Then she sees her mom with the anti-aging device and she’s really into it! It really captured her heart and wallet!

Episode 12
Tsumekomi wants Yutori to bring more drinks into the meeting room. Yutori thinks she’s using this chance just to go see Dankai. Well, the meeting is taking longer than usual because of Dankai. Once the duo bring the drinks in, the meeting seemingly has ended since nobody has any objections or opinions as there doesn’t seem to be problems with the product. But Tsumekomi knows better because this is where it starts. Suddenly Dankai says it’s not over yet. In her passionate speech to improve sales and take it to new heights, she is going to take it from the start again! So everyone take your seats! Boy, it’s going to be a long day. Yutori reiterates that she may admire Tsumekomi but is worried that she yearns to see Dankai like that. I think she got the wrong idea… Opinion overruled!

Episode 13
Yutori gets scolding from Dankai. Later Dankai asks Tsumekomi’s help for an event this weekend. Yutori says she can’t come since she has plans. Dankai wasn’t asking her. Their job is to help change battery of a game pad without erasing the hard earned data. The first customer they got is… Yutori! So this is the plan she had? Yutori acts high and mighty as she exerts her power as a customer. Tsumekomi knows they’re going down the war path as this obnoxious attitude will only earn Dankai’s wrath later on. Yutori doesn’t give a damn because she’s the all-important customer so hurry up with the battery change because the queue is building up. Despite being pissed off, Dankai holds it in and handles her request while tolerating Yutori’s censure. Dankai accidentally erases her data due to the pressure so Yutori blows her top! She’s screaming at the top of her voice. Though Dankai knows it’s her fault, she feels she deserves it. Next day, Yutori is her happy self at work and she doesn’t understand why Dankai is in such a bad mood. Hmm… Maybe Yutori didn’t realize it was them at the booth? Or she’s just a really forgetful person.

Episode 14
Yutori isn’t going to work because somehow her colleagues are mad at her (we know plenty of reasons why). So how? Her mother replaces her! WTF?! We can tell from that bad disguise it’s mommy and NOT Yutori! Dankai suggests letting her be. Like a mother, she makes great tea but starts cleaning up the place (despite some papers she threw away aren’t trash). Then she unplugs all the cables connecting to the PC because she suggests to be more eco-friendly. All the hard data lost!!! FFFFFUUUUUU!!! Yutori soon gets a mail from Tsumekomi desperately wanting her to come back to work tomorrow and that nobody is mad at her! Yeah, mama is more devastating than her.

Episode 15
Once again Bubble comes in to challenge Yutori with another one of those useless arguments. Before that monkey face can begin, he hears a familiar fearful voice. It’s Dankai! Let’s just say it’s Bubble’s natural enemy. Dankai is reprimanding him of his under-achievements and screw ups but he counters that by saying he is studying things. She replies this is a place to work and not to study. And that the company doesn’t pay him to study! He tries to leave but Dankai won’t allow it. Yeah, he is forced to work in their department despite monkey boy in denial he is just helping out because they needed his help. So Bubble continues his bragging especially the car he rides. So confident that they don’t even know the name of it, it turns out to be E231. No, not some fancy sports car model number but the coach number of the train he rides to work. Can trains be considered a car?

Episode 16
In the toilet, Yutori brags how she has gotten used to Dankai and that she no longer fears that demonic old lady. Though she praises Dankai for her good points, she is only willing to take back the demonic part because to her anybody above 20 years old is considered an old lady. Then Dankai comes out of the cubicle and Yutori instantly changes her speech to be that of what her friend said. Thankfully nothing untoward happened. Safe? Later the section chief shows them a new product to relief stress. Yeah, you hit this cute tiger doll! Yutori along with Tsumekomi and the section chief take turns abusing this doll. Having fun, aren’t we? Then when they invite Dankai to join in, she is reluctant because it looks so cute but eventually gives in. Back home, Dankai cuddles that tiger doll, apologizing for being mean.

Episode 17
The girls talk about boyfriends. They have none by the way. Tsumekomi visualizes the kind of love for Dankai. He’s dying in a war torn battlefield? Yutori does the same for Dankai and sees her as a samurai fighting off a man whom she won’t love if he is weaker than her. Meanwhile Dankai’s own version is that she enjoys her time with her lovely Prince Charming underneath a shady tree. How romantic! I guess nobody can picture this tough woman can be womanly sometimes.

Episode 18
The employees take a company trip as Yutori records everything on her camera. Yeah, everybody is so lively in their natural character. So from the outdoor river to the indoor pool, having a hearty meal to buying souvenirs and a pillow fight, it was a fun trip. When Yutori returns home, she is distraught that she had too much fun till she forgot to record the trip. She only has footage from the train. But this will do since she still gets a glimpse of Tsumekomi.

Episode 19
Yutori is in a panic! It’s the end of the world for her! She suddenly confesses it was her who ate the customer refreshments, the one who made 3000 copies instead of 30 and definitely herself who used to rag to clean the tea cup! Oh God! Just what happened?! She pleads to Tsumekomi for help when Dankai returns saying someone has left her handphone in the toilet. Yutori immediately gets it and answers the call to make some reservations. Then she returns to her cheery self and gets the cheek to tell everyone to forget what she said! Later Tsumekomi decides to splurge herself with a good meal seeing she worked overtime to cover for Yutori and got paid more (blessing in disguise?). In the restaurant, she sees Yutori with a group of serious people. She eavesdrops and from what she heard, they are planning to rob something and splitting the loot?! Could it be?! Turns out to be a plan to get a magic armour from the handheld game!

Episode 20
The chief clerk will be out for a week since he is hospitalized for a nerve infection. Yutori doesn’t understand and thinks she’s done a good job for it. Dankai agrees and they both laugh at it! The trio go visit him and Dankai also brought a new model sample to demonstrate. But the little robot stops working halfway. Next to the chief clerk’s bed is a sick old man and the nurse is trying to give him hope to live. Yutori and Dankai talk so loud that there it is broken, it ran out of battery and no hope, enraging the old man and nurse! Keep it down! Next day, Dankai says that the chief clerk was kicked out to another hospital and Yutori thinks it was because he didn’t follow the rules. And they even laugh about it! They sure know how to rile you up.

Episode 21
There’s fire in the building! First thing Yutori did was to snap a picture of the source! After the chief clerk puts it out, it is revealed that Dankai was tired and careless in making tea and didn’t watch the fire on the kettle. So word gets spread around and of course, twisted about Dankai’s screw up. So when it reaches Tsumekomi’s ears, she talks to her that if she has any problems, she can talk to her. Then Tsumekomi goes into her worrisome lecturing mode that she shouldn’t do reckless things by burning the building down if she screws up! Back home, Dankai confides in her tiger doll, whom she believes is the only one who understands her. Is it because it doesn’t talk back?

Episode 22
Because Tsumekomi got a little flu, Yutori is worried that nothing will happen to her or else coming to this company would be meaningless. What did she come here for exactly? Then Yutori also sneezes and may have caught her flu so Dankai teases that she’s supposed to be an idiot. Yutori disagrees and brags on the contrary she was called the Intellectual Criminal. I don’t know if she should feel praised by that. Then she boasts how the sneeze means some handsome guys must be talking how cute, irresistible and attractive she is. But in reality, we see the chiefs discussing if they should fire her! They should have done that a long time ago. Since this episode is too short, Yutori ends it with a little fanservice of Tsumekomi and Dankai.

Episode 23
Tsumekomi is in a toy product testing with the eager kids while Dankai and Yutori record the results as kids will play with them in unexpected ways. But once the kids get their hands on the toys, because Tsumekomi isn’t happy the way they handle them and shows them how to use and pose correctly! With passion! You can’t complain because she’s the expert and number one fan! Do it right or else! Yutori is surprised to see this unexpected side of her. Scary! And she has more unexpected sides? I think I don’t want to know.

Episode 24
Mama teases Yutori that she’s watching an OVA now but it’s because Tsumekomi will be appearing to introduce a new toy product. Mama recognizes Tsumekomi as the girl who works like a dog because she has no money! Tsumekomi appears on TV to introduce a new toy but suddenly she feels nervous and forgets the name! Then she screws up and panics, ranting the wrong details. I guess the show is cut short. So it’s no surprise at work the next day, she’s like ‘dead’. Dankai and Yutori feel sorry and will leave her alone till her wounds heal. Suddenly the section chief says the producers want her on the show again because she garnered high ratings. Wow! People just love a cute girl screwing up?

Episode 25
Tsumekomi must be getting tired of trying to correct Yutori in doing the right things. If it makes her feel better, then Yutori says she should be happy to know she’s gotten better at teaching her. Tsumekomi hopes she would at least say something with common sense but Yutori can’t do that because she’s doing that already. Dankai is so pissed that she is going to beat Yutori up with her wooden sword! Later Tsumekomi gets Dankai’s permission to get next Tuesday off since she has an important test on Wednesday. Then Yutori also wants to apply leave on that day. Though Dankai finds it hard with lack of manpower on that day, she wonders if Yutori has a test on that day too. Well, it seems Yutori doesn’t want to work hard if she’s all by herself. And since Tsumekomi isn’t around, there is no reason why she should come to work. Oh God… And why are the chiefs still contemplating to fire Yutori?! Shouldn’t the answer be obvious?!

A Hard Day’s Night
Hopefully Yutori will grow wiser as she grows up. I guess you need to be at the stage where you are cocky and conceited before you reach a certain level of adult maturity. Sometimes Yutori’s behaviour may annoy you because she is really selfish and lacks understanding in lots of areas. Thankfully she has the kind and polite Tsumekomi to guide her but at the rate she is going, I hope she won’t burn herself out or turn into a psycho while teaching Yutori the correct ways of the working culture. In a way, it feels like Yutori is always the boke (idiot instigator) while Tsumekomi the tsukkomi (literally means corrector). Dankai isn’t as forgiving as Tsumekomi and her tough stance on Yutori makes it sure that she doesn’t do as she pleases. Despite the differences in their behaviours, don’t you think the trio get along pretty well? I mean, they’ve been working for so long in the same company (at least it feels that way) and at the end, Yutori doesn’t really change much. Very disappointing or what? The other minor characters also play a little role but they feel insignificant. Like that idiotic Bubble. He just barges in to brag just because he is the company’s president son. Think he can do anything he likes? Not if Dankai is around. People like him may be as bad as or worse than Yutori because they’ve been born with a silver spoon in their mouth and takes everything for granted.

At the start of each episode, there will be a short commercial-like feature of the products that Popuu advertises. Usually they are the Soco Soco Five tokusatsu toys, Rarittora tiger accessories or the magical girl products of Magical Attractive.  Let’s say I’m not interested to buy them even if they really exist. I’m not that hardcore. I’m not sure what the end segment of each episode is all about because it is a monologue by Tsumekomi followed by Dankai on their thoughts or opinion on what has happened in that particular episode. Each of them has around 5 seconds for speech. Extras? Kana Hanazawa is definitely cute in her role as Tsumekomi. You can spot her usual trademark voice when she’s panicking. Something like she did as Nessa in Fractale or the titular character in Kobato. Aoi Yuuki is also equally impressive as Yutori as it makes her cute yet selfish. You can identify her shrieky and lively voice like she did in Yumeiro Patissiere as Ichigo and Hibiki in Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Akeno Watanabe is the voice of Dankai (Rito in To Love-Ru, Liz in Soul Eater).

Of course the work culture isn’t really limited to just the 3 of them as you can see there are many other types of behaviour too. We have the hard worker, the lazy worker, the duty shirker, the ‘vanisher’, the hyperactive, the show off jerk, the passive and quiet one, the boss’ pet, the drama king/queen, the rumour monger, the kind and caring one who goes the extra mile and length to look after you even if it’s not part of his/her job scope. The list is just endless. If you want to talk about superiors and bosses, then I’m sure there are the bossy kind, the boss who always scolds and reprimands and the worse kind of all, the demonic kind that takes pleasure in giving you a hard time. I’m just glad that I have a very understanding and nice superior and that helps out in lots of ways. So learning different types of people makes you try to learn and not repeat those negative traits and for positive ones, they motivate you to follow and do better. After all, if you are going to be working with the same person for a long period of time, it is better to get along for the sake of yourself, that person, work productivity and the company. Now, I wonder if I can leave early from work because there is this anime that I am dying to watch and can’t miss… I don’t do overtime for work but I can certainly make provisions to watch animes overtime…

Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai

November 9, 2012

Here we go again with another single parenting anime. But there is a big difference with this one. In Usagi Drop, we have a single elderly guy hitting the big three-o adopting an illegitimate kid of his late grandfather. But in Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai (PapaKiki), we have a college kid taking care of three young girls from his late married sister. There is a huge gap to see how the single male protagonist handles the responsibility of taking care of a new family member in his life. Usagi Drop’s Daikichi is a working adult with a steady income but PapaKiki’s Yuuta Segawa is just a university freshman. See the big difference? So how can a university student take care of 3 little girls and not neglect his family and studies? Man, this is going to be very tough. When most students his age are already fretting over their assignments, here Yuuta is trying to juggle everything he can with what he has. Like everyone would fear, he might just burnout.

That is basically what you’ll see in the dozen episodes of PapaKiki since of course Yuuta feels the need to take care of his sister’s 3 daughters after her untimely demise. I get a feeling that this show is made for lolicons because of the cuteness and kawaii-ness of the young girls that are being projected. Maybe their trying to tell lolicon lovers to be responsible people instead of just fantasizing and fawning over underage girls (which to a certain extent is a crime). While Yuuta is no lolicon, he is just a normal kid and faces the dilemma of what to do in his course of life to keep together a happy family unit while trying to deal with the harsh reality that they may never return to their former lives again.

Episode 1
Yuuta just began his life at Tama University and he has got his university life planned out. At least he wants to work hard at a good part time job and make it on his own. Hey, that’s good enough, right? So while out drinking with his new university buddies, his beer must have been drugged because the next time he regains his consciousness, he is in a dark room and this fat bespectacled otaku guy, Shuntarou Sako is interrogating about violating the busty Raika Oda. Unfortunately Raika is such a bad actor that anybody can see through her emotionless acting. Yeah, it’s all made up. Kouichi Nimura thinks Sako should stop all this. Nimura explains he drank non-alcoholic beer but still got drunk due to the smell of everyone else’s alcohol. Whether true or not, Sako says Yuuta stripped and danced himself around naked. Till Raika smacks him with a slipper. Followed by repetitious whacking of his butt with her harisen (paper fan). Is he enjoying it? Anyway, what the heck is this all about? It’s their way of welcoming new members to their club, Roadway Observation Research Institute or RORI for short. Back at his dorm, Yuuta gets a call from his sister Yuri who thinks he should come visit their new family sometimes. Yuuta isn’t too enthusiastic giving excuses he doesn’t want to bug them and all. Yuri tells him he’ll always be family no matter what. Even though she married Shingo Takanashi, this husband of hers had 2 daughters from his previous 2 marriages and they now live with them, she still considers them as her daughters.

In university, Yuuta befriends Raika and gets to know her more. Despite being an odd girl, you could say Yuuta takes a liking for her. I’m sure any guy would with those huge racks ;p. But as womanizer Nimura explains, although she is a smart student and excels in sports, there aren’t even any other guys trying to get close to her. Maybe she’s like a beautiful flower on a high cliff? The perverted RORI president (that’s Sako) is the only one who hangs out with her. Nimura concludes Raika is a weirdo (why would a beauty like her join the weird RORI?) but Yuuta disagrees and believes she is just shy and protective of herself. Yuuta believes if he joins the club officially, he gets to be closer to her. The next time Raika calls him out, I’m not sure what kind of experiment and observation she’s pulling on him because she asks him to pull her dress to reveal some skimpy outfit. Is she trying to observe Yuuta’s likes? On the way back, they bump into Yuri who is early on visiting Yuuta. She helps him clean up his place (all those porn magazines he claims are from Nimura) and teases him about liking busty Raika (he has a picture of her as his handphone wallpaper). Yuri wants him to come to her place this Sunday and will only tell him the important thing to him then. Yuri returns and tells her daughters, Sora, Miu and Hina, their uncle Yuuta will be coming this Sunday but they don’t remember him much and since they only met him twice, they don’t really have memorable memories of him. So come Sunday Yuuta makes his way to Yuri’s house and cheeky Miu greets him. Then he meets Hina who starts crying thinking he ‘stole’ her toy trumpet. He made a funny sound with it to appease her and she starts laughing and tries it herself (nothing’s coming out). Yuuta wishes to use the bathroom so Miu gives him directions. Probably he didn’t count Sora changing inside. What a way to make an impression as her uncle after a long absence.

Episode 2
Thank goodness Sora didn’t report a pedo in her house though she is still grumpy for that untoward incident. She’s still sulking so Miu suggests to leave her alone while they play video games. Of course Yuuta is much better and beats Hina, bringing the poor girl to tears. Sora joins in and avenges her sister’s defeat. While they have lunch, Miu was pretty direct to ask if he has a girlfriend (why is Sora choking if she claims she doesn’t care?). Yuuta’s body reaction makes it so obvious. Hina fell asleep in the middle of her meal so Sora puts her to a proper bed. Yuuta also naps on the couch and remembers how Yuri always took care of him when he’s young. When he wakes up, he sees a note from Miu that they all went out shopping. Shingo returns but that guy instantly gets upset to see a stranger in his house. He doesn’t believe he is Yuuta since he is spotting a blonde wig and scribbles all over his face! Yikes! He is going to kill him! He is worried he might have done something to his daughters! He is serious! Till Yuri steps in. I guess Shingo was so blinded by rage that he couldn’t recognize Yuuta under that hideous wig. Cheeky Miu apologizes for her prank. Yuri notices Yuuta getting along fine with everyone and is assured she can follow Shingo on his business trip for a week. So this is the important thing? Yuuta has to babysit the girls? The girls plead for Yuuta to stay since her parents haven’t had time for their honeymoon and this is their best chance. Can’t say no when cute girls are asking him, eh?

So on his first day home alone with them, the girls put down several rules for him to follow. The tough part now is whom he is going to play with. Hina wants to play games. Miu wants him to help out with her homework. Sora wants him to help out with the cleaning. A man can only be at one place at a time. He might not comply with all their requests at the same time but in succession. Phew. It’s going to be a tiring day. At night, they see the meteor shower across the starry sky and they sing along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Bedtime and the girls wonder what lovely things their parents are doing now. However fate has a cruel way of tearing apart your happiness. That very night, the plane Yuri and Shingo were on crashed and they perished. A funeral is held at their place and the big headache of taking care of their children comes. The older relatives contemplate who is to take responsibility of them. Unfortunately Sora’s mother is no longer with them and they won’t handover Miu to hers since that foreigner can’t speak a word of Japanese. Their uncle, Nobuyoshi has decided that all 3 girls will be separated and live under the roofs of different relatives. However they want to stay together. The adults tell them not to be selfish and though they may be living apart, they’re still in Japan and will still be able to see each other. Yuuta remembers the shock when his own parents died. Yuri asserted she will protect and raise Yuuta by herself because they are family. Thus Yuuta stands up and will take all 3 of them in, shocking the rest. It doesn’t matter to him because he believes a family has to stay together.

Episode 3
Of course we know the adults won’t approve of this and the only way this is going to happen is for Yuuta and the girls to make their runaway early next morning. Back at Tokyo, Yuuta is trying to find a decent place to eat. Either the place is too expensive or fears the family atmosphere that would traumatize the girls. They end up at a karaoke box. Nimura happen to be there (womanizing, what else) and he thought Yuuta has turned into an evil lolicon! Till he learns they are his nieces. Learning the predicament he is in, he agrees to help out. He uses his charm to accompany the girls (except for Sora who still has her reservations). Outside, Yuuta gets a cal from his aunt Yoshiko about his irresponsible act. He has decided he wants to raise them but she reminds him about reality. How is he going to get the money to raise them? What about his studies? It sounds so simple when he says he’ll take up more part time jobs but if this ends up hurting his studies, it won’t make Yuri happy. She wants him to bring those 3 back but even if hell freezes over, Yuuta won’t. He brings the girls back to his dorm. It might be cramped and messy but they’ll have to make do. Hina is only 3 years old and the only one who doesn’t know that mommy and daddy are dead and its implications. So to their best, they try to tell her this will be their new home from now. Adjusting life to his dorm isn’t easy because the bathroom walls are so thin that Miu had to point out she could hear Sora making ‘those noises’. Whatever they were. Because of that, Yuuta can’t use the toilet as he pleases. I’m sure he’ll have to learn the meaning of delicacy with girls in the house now. The girls also make a makeshift temporary changing room with the little space. While they’re playing cards, Hina once again brings up the subject of when mommy and daddy will be coming home soon. Miu excuses herself to go out shopping but Sora sends Yuuta to go after her. Sora hugs Hina and puts her to sleep while Yuuta talks to Miu. Once she’s calmed down he brings her back. Sora hugs her in her relief. They tug in for the night as Sora notes the 3 of them will always be together.

Episode 4
Why is Sora clinging on to Yuuta like as though he’s a bolster? Their faces are so close… So what happens when Sora opens her eyes? You bet the shock is going to make Yuuta on the receiving end of her punch. So here’s another delicacy lesson he’ll have to learn. Don’t undress as he pleases in front of the girls even though they’re family. Oh, what about breakfast? Yuuta runs down to the store and buys lot of food. Sora says they’ll pay for their portion but he doesn’t want their money. He goes off to his job and reminds them not to open the door to strangers. Yuuta thinks about his next step to get a job when he bumps into Raika. Another monotonous horrendous acting. Sako and Nimura are here too and the president is concerned of his lack of presence at the club. Sako has this uncanny ability to smell little girls and he suspects Yuuta of harbouring them! Yuuta can’t let him know about his nieces and conspires with Raika. She agrees and lets Yuuta escape while she whacks Sako with the harisen. The girls try to be helpful around the house but they’re being clumsy and making a mess. They feel the need to do the laundry and since there is no washing machine in this little room, they go to a public one. However all public laundry services do not do underwear and they’ll have to go to the coin operated one. Sora and Miu calculate the cost and suck up their pride to wash everything at one go (uncle’s underwear touching theirs in the laundry). Sora sees a stall selling cheap vegetables and decides to buy them and cook. Can she cook? She had some practice with Yuri. Oh dear. Back home, Hina and Miu scribble doodles on the wall to make things livelier while Sora as expected fails in her cooking. I don’t know how she ended up cutting everything so messy. Then some salesperson knocks on the door and the girls panic thinking it’s a bad guy. Their clumsiness has them messed up the place again. I guess he’ll come back later. Yuuta is working on double shifts and won’t be home early. But that didn’t stop the girls from cooking for him. Well, let’s say the meat is overcooked. Heck, it’s burnt! Yuuta reprimands them for doing something dangerous but is glad they’re okay. He surprised them with a strawberry cake treat he bought. Later Sora asks why he is spending so much on them. He replies it’s because he is happy. Happy that there is someone to wish him off and to greet him when he returns. That’s why he wants to make them happy. Of course tomorrow they’ll start saving and if they work together, things will work out. As Yuuta tugs in for the night, Sora again comes hugging him in her sleep and this time with whispering words of “I love you”. He puts her back properly in bed.

Episode 5
Another untoward incident when Yuuta comes back to see Sora changing after bath. Oops. So while Yuuta is off to work the next morning, Sora and Miu plan about rearranging the place for a proper changing room. Either that or it’s going to cost some money. Since Yuuta forgot his handphone, it starts ringing. It won’t go away so Miu picks up the call. It’s from Sako who has found him another job. This confirms that Sako is an extreme lolicon because he thinks he has heard the voice of an angel! So good he is that judging from Miu’s voice, he can exactly sketch what she looks like and accurately guess her age (10 years old)! SCARY! Raika snaps him out of his sick fantasy by whacking him with the harisen. Then she deletes the recorded conversation he had on his handphone. Good riddance. Sora decides to go find Yuuta and return his handphone and manages to do so at a family restaurant where he is working. Meanwhile Miu and Hina meet Yuuta’s neighbour, Kurumi Atarashi. She can’t be a bad person because… She’s got a watermelon for them to share with. They learn Atarashi is a voice actress in a kiddie show that Hina loves watching, Luna Luna 7 (albeit it’s a villain’s role). She is embarrassed to give a demonstration and when she does, she properly times it to make her escape. Sora got on the wrong bus and is lost in town. Oh, her handphone’s power is out too. And it’s starting to rain too. Just how bad can the day get? Yuuta gets worried when he can’t contact her so with Nimura’s help, they go search for her. Sora remembers meeting Yuuta the first time. It was when Yuri wanted her brother to meet her future husband Shingo. He wasn’t pleased so the girls thought he was a scary person. They bump into him outside toilet and panic. Sora trips but to her surprise Yuuta helps her and isn’t as scary as she thought. Yuuta finally finds her and sits with her in a shelter till the rain clears up. She hopes she could call him onii-chan instead of uncle and he likes it better that way. Then another unforeseen incident when Sora runs out in her towel to catch cheeky Hina out of the bath. Whoopsie again. Yuuta excuses himself to go to his job Sako found him. Now this is the funny part. In a daifuku factory, we see lines of macho men making the cute little strawberry daifuku! The boss wants Yuuta to keep what he sees a secret simply because… Strawberry daifukus are supposed to be made by cute animals in the forest! You can’t ruin the children’s dream! Oh yeah. Just like Santa Claus, eh?

Episode 6
Miu has something to get from her old home at Ikebukuro and hopes Yuuta can bring them there since he’s free tomorrow. They make their journey as Yuuta observes Hina and Atarashi close enough to be making Luna Luna 7 poses together, the shopping district people friendly enough to give them freebies when they smile (I guess it’s a plus point when you have cute girls). Yuuta gets an annoying call from Sako and this time he hears Hina’s voice and becomes ecstatic. Slam the phone down before anything weird happens! Upon entering their old home, the electricity and water are still running (the other Takanashi members are taking care of it from time to time). Yuuta is made to stay with Hina downstairs and to play with her while the Sora and Miu handle their ‘important’ stuff upstairs. Meanwhile Sako has tied Nimura upside down in his club and is interrogating him that he knows more about Yuuta than he shows. Yeah, the sicko uses his sick ability to sketch an exact image of Hina by just remembering her angelic voice. He is going to find them! F*ck no! Sora and Miu are done packing their bags filled with clothes. So I guess that’s where Yuuta comes in. To carry it for them. Too heavy bringing it down that Sora trips and all her clothes scatter. He accidentally touches one of her panties and gets double slap. Wow. His face is really swollen. They have their dinner, bath and stay over for the night. Yuuta thought he is going to be sleeping alone. But I guess I saw it coming that the girls had the same idea of wanting to sleep together with him. Miu notices something must have happened since Sora has started calling Yuuta onii-chan. But she dismisses anything of that sort. The next morning, they depart and Yuuta gives Sora the important photo of her family that she forgot. No matter how small his room is or how heavy her bag is, she should take the things she wants. Hina mentions her wish will come true if she takes care of this bunny stuffed doll (as mommy said) so Yuuta says if she’s smiling, he’ll be happy. She’ll do just that.

Episode 7
Yoshiko pays Yuuta a visit in his room while the girls are out. She is impressed he has managed well so far and will see how things go for a little longer. However she cautions things will get difficult once his classes start. At university, another poor acting by Raika in a miko priestess outfit but Yuuta ends up in a shallow pit trap by Sako. Seems Sako wants to meet his niece and with Raika asking if they’re cute, he has no choice but to invite them over for dinner. Sora puts up a tough act in front of Raika but she finds her totally cute. Sako dresses up as a gentleman and has roses for Miu and is over the moon to see the lolis. However he isn’t happy to see 14 year old Sora and calls her ‘grandma’. WTF?! A 14 year old isn’t loli enough for him?! Raika, your cue to whack him. Another cue when he wants his angels to feed him. Yuuta accompanies Raika back and she notes it’s good for him to change. However she wishes for him to turn up at the club from time to time as it sometimes get lonely. Who? Sako. Geez. Oh, she too. She offers to help him out and he hopes she could teach him how to cook. So one day Raika turns up for her coaching and since Sora wants to join in, Miu tells Hina it’s not a game they’re playing, but a ‘battlefield’. And it’s not Sora’s stomach that’s hurt, but her heart. Oh, Miu… Sora can tell she is no match for Raika and tries to ask more about Yuuta from her. He is a fascinating observation subject to her. Seriously? Sora trips and messes the place. Cue for bath time and for Sora and Raika to bond. Sora asks how she got ‘them’ so big. Well, she didn’t do anything and if she had to pick one, she just loved what’s cute. Raika’s staring causes Sora to laugh and it’s good because it’s the first time she has seen her done so. Raika hugs her and soon the already cramped bath tub becomes even cramped with Miu and Hina jumping in. If those lolis were busty, I don’t think they would even have any space. Haha! Just kidding. Yuuta thinks of getting commuter passes for Sora and Miu but they think of skipping school to take care of Hina if they can’t find her a day-care. Yuuta says he’ll do that but what about studies or work? He considers taking fewer subjects and could ask Raika for help when he’s at work. Suddenly the landlord, Sawako Midorikawa knocks on his door and demands to speak to him. She has been observing him for the past few days and thought his nieces were relatives paying a visit. Now that they’re permanently staying and since this violates his rental contract, she gives him a month to leave. B*tch! Don’t add to their misery!

Episode 8
Sawako doesn’t care about the circumstances since his room is only meant for one. Yuuta knows that too but brought them in anyway. She has nothing else to say in this matter anymore. Sawako doesn’t believe a student would do a better job in raising kids and adults would do a better job. Yuuta meets Raika and tells her the problem he is facing now and blames himself for not thinking things through. Raika says if it comes down to this, she’ll take Sora and the rest in. Yuuta starts fantasizing a wonderful family life with her. Too bad he said it all aloud. Must be his stress. And Raika had noted it all down! Good observation subject. Raika will ask Sako to search for new places since he has connections. No kidding on Yuuta’s worries. It’s causing him to lose focus on his job. It’s just straining him to think about getting more jobs to support the girls. The RORI members go house hunting but Sako isn’t happy Sora the grandma is tagging along instead of the angels. Where’s the harisen? They survey several places but it’s either too expensive or well, haunted. In worst case scenario, Sako is willing to bring Miu and Hina under his care! Don’t ever let that happen! Sawako is reprimanding Atarashi on violating her contract agreement for paying her rent late. Innocent Hina waltzes in between noting Atarashi is getting yelled at. Sawako sees the cuteness in Hina and lets Atarashi off with a warning. But when Hina wishes the ‘aunty’ goodbye, Sawako tells her off she is not that old and is only 29 years old. Oh dear. She made Hina cry! Everyone freezes not knowing what to do! So pitiful Hina’s cries were that she messed up her clothes and Sawako’s with her ice cream. Sawako bathes with Hina. Miu hopes she would forgive Yuuta if they leave. Sawako believes that she was acting out of concern for them for she fears Yuuta hasn’t the proper allowance to raise them and might abandon them. Miu believes Yuuta will never do that. The house hunt ends up with nothing but Yuuta is glad to know what to do now because he has always been trying to do things by himself and thanks them. He and Sora decides to go see the landlady. The real landlady turns out to be Sawako’s mother as she reprimands her daughter for making such rash decisions and being inflexible. Yuuta begs to push back the date till he at least finds a place to stay. However Sawako will let him off this time and rewrites the contract to have additional 3 tenants. But if the next time they cause problems, she’ll take Hina in. She really likes her, doesn’t she? Yuuta manages to find a day-care for Hina and gives the train commuter passes to Sora and Miu for them to commute to school.

Episode 9
An episode focused on Miu, first we see the girls having a tough time commuting to school and have to tussle with the morning hour rush crowd. Yeah, it took them 1.5 hours to get to school. Most of her friends notice a change in her character. Her shoes are dirty (from the trampling in the train crowd) and for someone who always dressed perfectly didn’t mind. She now eats eggplants that she once used to hate (because it’s expensive). They think she must be having a tough time dealing with her parents’ death. After school, Miu decides to hang out by herself for a while and meets Nimura. I believe he has good faith when he wants to ‘date’ her. Not because he’s tired of his university girls and turned into a lolicon. He takes her to the aquarium and then for lunch at a cafe. They talk about Yuuta’s hectic life when other people mistakenly note the cute siblings they are. They play along and agree that they are the best looking couple in this diner after all. Nimura continues to take her shopping for clothes, shoes (I guess she was just joking about wanting that pair of expensive Cinderella glass slippers), some photo shoot and finally up the tower of an observation deck. Nimura worried when he thought he saw her crying after getting nostalgic pointing out her old home. But it was just the yawn to adjust the pressure in her ear (really?). Miu explains she doesn’t like people being too worried about her but Nimura says it’s their way of being considerate. She notes he understands a woman’s heart and the reason why he’s popular with them. However she outright rejects him since he is not her type. She hopes Yuuta could learn something from Nimura. She thanks Nimura for taking her out today and will go home by herself since Cinderella doesn’t want anyone to see her after her magic is gone.

Episode 10
Now it’s Sora’s turn for an episode on her. Just like the rest, she is affected by the change in her new life. So much so she has a hard time coping with her choir club. Because the club is gunning for victory in a competition, Sora fears she won’t have time to do housework so she hands in her resignation letter to the club president. She is reluctant to let her go as she knows Sora loves to sing but since Sora is burdened with other tasks, she has no choice. One night Yuuta returns home to see Atarashi sitting on the stairs drunk. Seems she will be quitting her voice acting job. He tells this to the girls and Sora couldn’t believe it because Atarashi loved her job very much. This causes Sora to space out and think about her own predicament. She meets Atarashi at the laundry and asks her straight if she’s going to quit. But she explains she didn’t get any parts this month so technically she’s got no job (from what I understand, her villainous character was killed off in Luna Luna 7). And she made a promise to her parents if she hasn’t got any job, she has to return to her parents at the countryside. Sora realizes herself a hypocrite when she questions Atarashi if she really wants to quit since she started it because she loves her job. Sora sits along on a playground swing with pretty much everything else weighing on her mind. Till Raika pops up. Sora forces herself to put on a cheery face and dismiss that she has problems so Raika puts her face in her bosoms. At least this is what she read on how to make a girl feel better. Raika notes her kindness because she doesn’t want her to worry but on the contrary, Raika wants to worry about her. They go back and cook for the rest and though Sora is still not confident about her cooking, Raika explains that everyone’s happy when she’s making good food for them. Sora and Yuuta go out to buy some stuff that night and she laments she’s been causing everyone trouble. Yuuta says he used to think like that and wanted to avoid causing everyone problems and do everything himself. But he realized relying on others isn’t such a bad thing and that is what it means to be a family. Thus Sora expresses her with to rely on him more. Sora soon asks for her club president to return her resignation letter. Fortunately she has kept it and was thinking of a way to bring her back to the club but now that she’s came back on her home, I guess this solves everything. Sora is happy but with things the way they are now, she can’t come to the club often. She hopes she can come back here once she can sing. Of course she can. On her way back, she meets Atarashi who tells her she got a minor role in an anime. Thanks to her words, she remembers how much she loves voice acting. Sora is now able to make delicious omelettes for her family.

Episode 11
Sora has this dream that she marries Yuuta. I think in reality she really wants that too. Then she opens her eyes and finds herself nearly kissing Yuuta in his sleep! Phew! That was too close and dangerous! Sora walks back with Raika from an errand. Raika lets her know that Yuuta is happy now as a father. That’s why she wants to be their mother because the 3 of them are the cutest things ever. Sora dreams of another married life with Yuuta (she’s got big boobs now?!) but she might be just desperate because she’s sleep talking in the middle of class! How embarrassing. Then another dream of wanting to introducing Yuuta her husband to her parents but Yuuta is not by her side so they want her to go with him and look for something he’s forgotten. And then driving along in his red convertible sports car, probably the thing he has forgotten was Miu and Hina. And in another scene in the car, it seems Yuuta is speeding up and driving off a cliff. When Sora looks back, Yuuta is missing from the driver’s seat! Oh sh*t! Back to reality, Yuuta comes home to find his place cleaned up. Who could it be? Oh, it’s Yoshiko. Meanwhile Sora gets a call from the day-care that Hina is sick and they can’t get a hold of Yuuta (his handphone is out of battery). So Sora and Miu skip class and rush to bring Hina back. Once the girls return, Yoshiko could immediately spot what is wrong with Hina and like the pro mother she is, tells the kids what to do. She hopes this has opened Yuuta eyes on what he’s facing and to consider about the letter. That night when Yuuta and Sora can’t sleep, they talk about what happened recently. Yoshiko visited and cleaned up the place since she couldn’t stand the mess. He got reprimanded when he’s not going to classes properly and the note about Hina’s day-care upcoming performance he forgot. Yoshiko could also tell Sora hasn’t been going to her club activities and Miu visiting the infirmary quite often. A parent should at least notice this kind of things. So when Hina broke into a fever, that was the last straw even though it wasn’t his fault that his handphone was out. But he feels he should have at least kept it fully charged in case of such emergencies. One morning when everybody went out, Sora finds a letter in Yuuta’s notebook that Yoshiko mentioned. It’s a letter from Nobuyoshi. He has heard about Yuuta and the girls via Yoshiko. He felt he said some harsh things and made some harsh decisions then at the funeral and thinks the girls hate him. However he has finally prepared for this responsibility and has talked with her and the other relatives that he is willing to take all 3 of the girls under his wing. For he believes Yuuta should be free to pursue his happiness as Yuri had wanted instead of sacrificing himself for the girls. That night as they eat dinner, happy Hina once again unknowingly brings up this topic. She is going to put up a great performance she worked hard on and show it to her mommy and daddy. Then they’ll come back.

Episode 12
Now the tough part is to tell Hina her parents aren’t coming back. Will she understand it or not. Sora says she’ll do it. But seeing her cheery innocence is getting harder and harder, isn’t it? Then she just drops the bombshell. Daddy and mommy won’t be coming back. In that case, Hina will go to see them. She can’t do that too. She just can’t see them. Hina couldn’t understand and throws a tantrum she wants to see them because she practised her singing and dancing so hard. Sora sits alone at the swing when Nimura comes by. He has heard it from Yuuta but that guy too is somewhat depressed. When he talked to Raika about it, Raika harshly agreed to his comment that he can’t be their father. Sora and Miu walk home with Hina one rainy day but it seems Hina is being her cheery self. Did she forget? Rather, she decided not to cry anymore because if she cries, she’ll make her sisters cry too. That night Sora thinks about the contents of the letter in which Yuuta is given till the end of the month to reply. Since Yuuta leaves early next morning, Hina suspects he will visit his uncle and follows him. To her surprise, Yuuta visits Yuri’s grave. He ‘apologizes and talks’ to his sister that he has been thinking and that there is no other choice. Before he could finish his sentence, Sora jumps the gun and pleads to him she wants to stay with him. Even if Nobuyoshi takes all 3 of them in, she prefers that all 4 of them be together. That’s good because that is what Yuuta had in mind too. He was just sad that he couldn’t be their real dad (seriously?). He’ll do everything he can to protect them. Sora is so happy that she is brought to tears. Nobuyoshi and Yoshiko have seen everything. Realizing the strong bond they share, they decide to let them stay together. Yuuta asks why Yoshiko had let him do as he pleased then. It was her way to atone her sins. When Yuuta and Yuri’s parents died 15 years ago, she felt the same way he did but didn’t have the courage to take them in. Though they note Hina will be a tough one to handle, Yuuta says not giving up is what he is good at.

Yuuta and Sora walk back and he tells her the first time Yuri came to his parent-teacher open house. It was embarrassing the way she introduced herself as Yuuta’s father-mother-brother-sister-grandpa-grandma all-in-one. But after that all his friends were talking how cool she was. Yuuta goes back to RORI club to thank Raika. Because of what she said, it made him think. Now he understands why he couldn’t be their father. He is their father! Geddit? And now, he asks Raika to be his wife. EEEEHHHHH???!!! Oh, Sora. How are you feeling now? But not his real wife if that’s what he meant. Just to pretend to be his wife for the day to see Hina’s day care performance. Everyone they know from the shopping district to their landlord, uncle, aunty, Atarashi, Nimura and (unfortunately annoying) Sako are here to give Hina their support. Hina’s friends are amazed at the numerous fathers and mothers she has! Sora isn’t pleased that Raika got to be Yuuta’s ‘wife’ for the day so cheeky Miu pushes Sora into Yuuta’s arm. I guess it made her day. Yuuta narrates he feels better seeing Hina smile and the odd thing about being a family is that it can still remain as one whether it’s just 2 people, separated or not blood related. He is going to protect this happiness. Yuuta comes back late one night and to his surprise the girls throw him a surprise thank you party. However it’s off to a shaky start because Sora wants to change, Miu needs to go to the toilet, Hina can’t wait to eat the cake and Yuuta gets locked outside the balcony. “Will you listen to what your father say!”. Lastly, Yuuta gets permission from Nobuyoshi and Yoshiko to move back into Yuri and Shingo’s house. More spacious and feels like home, eh?

Lucky Hina wins a first prize trip for an overnight stay at the family leisure park hotsprings. As usual, Sora wants to get closer to Yuuta and desperate enough to put pads in her swimsuit. Doesn’t it make her boobs look a little bigger? Heck, not that Yuuta notices! Probably he needs another earful from Miu about delicacy because he didn’t comment on her swimsuit. So Sora ends up covering herself with a shirt because as Miu puts it, wants him to be the first to see her swimsuit. But it’s going to take a while because Raika is there. And Nimura. And oh God no, Sako. That lolicon pervert accuses Yuuta of wanting to grab his angels for himself and all those filthy sick things only a lolicon like him can conjure. Raika, it’s your cue for your harisen. Over the next few scenes, Sora notices Raika staring intensely at Yuuta playing with Hina. Could it be she really likes Yuuta? Till Raika wants to join them in riding the tube that Sora doesn’t want to lose out, lose her shirt and joins them. Well, the slide was fun. But it gave visitors an unexpected fanservice when Raika’s top slip off! Oh, and Sora’s pad too. Yuuta doesn’t even know what this ‘cushion’ is! Another earful from Miu about delicacy in line? Later Sora eavesdrops on Raika talking to Sako. He concludes she is in love and suggests a famous tourist spot called Lover’s Cape. Legend has it when couples ring the bell together, they’ll forever be united. Raika is going to make her move tonight. Sora is disheartened and Nimura can tell what’s wrong with her. Yuuta is surprised that Raika is going to sleep in the same room with Nimura and Sako and suggests she sleeps here in his futon. Sora jumps the gun and thinks they’re going to share the same futon together and gives them a piece of her mind. Actually what he meant was she sleep in his futon and he sleeps with the guys. See Miu smirking at Sora…

So the girls take a dip in the hotsprings. Sora doesn’t want to sit close to Raika. Hina and Miu are having fun with her. Hina squishes Raika’s boobs. Raika allows Sora to do the same but scoffs off that she is not a kid. Miu teases her about her pads so Sora tries to get Miu but slips and falls face first into Raika’s boobs. Now that’s what you call Faceboob! Raika finds them all cute and wants to be their mother. As long as Yuuta is with them. But if she really becomes that, it’ll ruin Sora’s chance of you-know-what. That night Sora sees Raika leaving her bed and follows her. Her suspicions were correct when Raika enters the room where Yuuta is sleeping and eavesdrop. Let your fantasies go wild! Anyway Yuuta gets a surprise wake-up to see Raika trying to seduce him in sexy positions. Sako and Nimura are missing. Well, Raika had them leave. Oh. She wants Yuuta to do as he pleases. Since he doesn’t really hate the way she looks (who would dislike looking at the body of this busty girl? Unless you’re a flat chest lover), now it’s his turn to please her because she’s in love for the first time and needs his help. Gulp. She explains to him about Lover’s Cape. Nimura catches Sora eavesdropping and ends the act by opening the door. Sako pops out from the closet not happy Nimura has ruined everything. Seems this was a setup to make Yuuta cajole his angels to follow them to Lover’s Cape and ring the bell. So yeah. Raika wants to ring the bell with Hina. Relieved or disappointed? So everybody rings the bell and pray that they’ll forever stay together. For Sora, it may didn’t go as planned but this has been a fun and memorable family trip. I guess there’ll always be another time and many more chance for her, eh?

Papa, The Girls Love You!
It’s always nice and heart-warming to see a family getting to stay together in the end. If it ended with them being separated, I’m sure it’ll leave a bitter taste in many viewers including yours truly. At least in the aspect of anime. We all want a happy ending, right? As for life, it may be a different story. That’s why sometimes when I think about it if the producers pulled off a crazy shocking ending to separate them, I would have come to a conclusion that eventually time will heal their wounded hearts. I mean, not to say that the girls have gotten over their parents death by with Yuuta around, they think less of them (in a good sense, that is) and don’t wallow in sorrow for the rest of their lives which may lead to future trauma. So in the scenario that Yuuta and the girls were separated, it might be painful at first but as time passes, they’ll get used to the new environment, carry on with their lives and once they grow up, they’ll understand and see things better. Provided if it turned out that way but since it didn’t, I’m just glad Yuuta gets to be their father. He may not be their real biological father and a substitute father, but to the girls he is their father and more than just an uncle. “More than an uncle” for Sora. Yeah…

Whether Yuuta breaks or makes it in his life is another different matter altogether. I can see and feel the hard time he is going through and sometimes wonder if he could really pull it off. Not to say that I have the same experience but when I was in college, I was already having a tough time just trying to study for my exams alone! So for Yuuta who has to learn to grow up suddenly overnight to pull off taking his university classes, taking care of his family and taking up part time jobs for financial support, it’s an incredible feat and I really salute and give my hats off to him. Call me pessimistic but if I were in his shoes, I won’t be able to do all that. Hey, at least I know my capabilities and limits. But Yuuta isn’t going through all these by himself as he has the support of his friends and the friendly neighbourhood (no, not Spiderman) in the form of the shopping district. Yeah, those freebies to Hina are a great help. It pays to have a cute little girl on your side, eh? Yuuta maybe just needs to learn to be a little more delicate when handling girls. He’s not just a university guy now. He’s a father so he has to take notice of such things. Accepting them was easy. Taking care of them may be a little tough but the hardest part is, can he let them go? When they’re all grown up and ready to leave the nest, can he ‘release’ them? It’s that heartbreaking moment that every parent has to face but we’ll leave that for another time and story. Let’s not get ahead and be too judgmental if Yuuta can handle it or not. Let him and the rest take it slowly one step at the time. After all, what is there to rush in growing up?

Thankfully the girls themselves do not give much trouble in the sense that you can be assured that they won’t turn into delinquents or stray to the wrong path. They just need a little more parental love. In short, Sora was just a tsundere, Miu the cheeky one and Hina the innocent little toddler. I guess when you’re at that age like Sora, girls should experience an early change in their hormones so it’s no surprise that she is in a dilemma about her feelings about her uncle. Technically they aren’t blood related so it’s okay for them to get married, right? Well, if she manages to get that far. So with her confused feelings, it’s no wonder Miu loves to tease and watch her sister when it comes to such matters. Miu is such a lively and cheeky girl that she perhaps has the best lines when it comes down to such scenes. Her friendly disposition is infectious and it’s easy to understand why everyone gets along with her. Of course the star would be Hina seeing she’s the cute little toddler that will warm your heart each time she opens her mouth or just do something. Even a cold-hearted Sawako fell into her ‘charms’. Although she is too young to understand about her parents’ death and it’s understandable that the rest doesn’t want to lie and keep hiding this fact from her, I suppose it’s better that they have all smiles rather than frowns. Be happy in the present and not drown in the past. I mean, it’s like how do you explain to a kid about God in a world filled with crime an injustice?

Raika is an odd and amusing person. Because of her expressionless face and her monotonous tone, you can never know what she is thinking. All we know is that she finds Yuuta’s nieces cute and really wants to be their mother. It’s not really clear if she does have feelings for Yuuta because she doesn’t really obviously display them. After all, she did say Yuuta is her favourite observation subject. Observe what? I don’t know. His reactions to her unconvincing acting? I’m sure she’s got a lot of ‘data’ on that by now. And I’m pretty sure that she’s not just sticking around Yuuta just to be close to the girls. I mean, that’s true too but she’s not using him as a stepping stone. Well, if the ‘battle’ over Yuuta ever gets intense, I’m sure Miu would love to stick around see the ‘fireworks’. I’m pretty certain she’ll say that too :). Busty babe versus flat chest loli. Well, if Yuuta ever gets wind of this. I’m sure Yuuta is too busy thinking to provide for the girl than for any romance with Raika. Hey, she did hear his dreams to have a married life with her, right? Nimura may be a typical lady killer, going out with other girls but he’s a nice and handy guy to have around. At least he targets girls his age (I feel that outing with Miu isn’t considered a date to woo her) and isn’t as perverted as that lolicon Sako. I wonder what will be his reaction when Miu and Hina grow up a few years later. Will he abandon them? I guess this is why Yuuta won’t trust this guy to handle his nieces. That’s the difference between a father and a lolicon. It’s also amusing to see this running gag of Raika hitting Sako with her harisen. It sometimes feels like an S&M play the way she smacks and spanks his butt with it. I’m not sure whether he is enjoying it or not. Sawako isn’t such too bad herself if she loosens up and smiles more. Maybe she just needs more Hina to brighten her day. If everyone adheres to rules strictly (that’s why rules were made, right?), it might caused problems for genuine people like Yuuta. After all, rules were made to be broken the first place too, right? Bending a little doesn’t hurt just like telling a white lie. Nobuyoshi and Yoshiko were worried about Yuuta and just wanted the best of him. Now that they have seen him with their own eyes, they’re ready to let him take the responsibility like a real man. I felt Atarashi’s role to not have a major impact in this series. Yes she’s a side character but besides being a voice actress of a popular kids’ anime and Yuuta’s neighbour, she doesn’t really stand out except for that Sora-focused episode.

I couldn’t say about the fanservice and if it was, it was intended for lolicons. I mean, even the opening credits animation, you’d get a glimpse of Sora, Miu and Hina sleeping in their negligee. Feels a bit suggestive. Then throughout the series you’d see them in their sleeping pyjamas, Sora bad-timing in changing her clothes and some bathroom scenes and like I said you’d find these a turn on if you’re a lolicon. For those who aren’t, there is always Raika. However this show focuses on the little ones so don’t expect to see too much of Raika time. To say that this is a harem anime isn’t exactly wrong because in a way, there are a few lovely girls hanging around a main guy, right? Though there are some depressing bits in the series, these are liven up with some cute (duh!) and funny moments. The funniest one (or scary, depends on how you look at it) still has to be that strawberry daifuku factory. That short scene has got to be a laugh riot. Now I’m starting to believe that those cute little colourful vitamin pills for children are being made by such elderly macho men! That’s true horror! As the drawing and art makes the girls cute and exuding with ultimate moe, but I can’t help notice the pink blemish over their cheeks and sometimes certain parts of their bodies. I don’t know. It makes it feel like as though they look like dolls and gives me an impression that their bodies are really smooth and shiny. Resisting urge… To touch…And feel…

Eri Kitamura does her usual style with cheeky lolis as Miu. Sometimes she reminds me of her other role as Rin in Kodomo No Jikan. Just not as horny. At first I thought they used an authentic young little girl to voice Hina but something kept bugging in my heart that she’s a grownup making such a kiddie voice. True enough, Hiromi Igarashi did a very good job in making Hina sound like a 3 year old with her character mispronouncing certain words like a baby kid. She was the voice of Aoi in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama and Yuuka in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu. Yui Horie as Raika surprisingly did well in making Raika sound emotionless but yet so funny when she tries to put in some emotion into her fake acting. She sounds a bit like her other role as Masako in Mawaru Penguindrum but more flat and monotonous in this one. I thought Sako sounded a bit too old as a university student (if he is a ronin, that’s a different story) like as though he has got something stuck in his throat but I guess I got used to this perverted lolicon. He is voiced by Junji Majima which I believe have never heard him putting up such ‘grandpa’ voice since I usually hear him as high school student roles like Ryuuji of Toradora, Kinji of Hidan No Aria and Shin of Memories Off series. Daisuke Ono as Nimura once more does his best in using his charming gentleman voice for charming gentleman characters like Sebastian of Kuroshitsuji and Koizumi of Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu.

The other casts include Wataru Hatano as Yuuta (Gajeel in Fairy Tail, Yuuto in Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu), newbie Sumire Uesaka as Sora (Yoshiaki Mogami in Sengoku Collection is her only other role at this point), another newbie seiyuu Sakura Nakamura as Atarashi (hope she gets more roles than her minor unimportant extra character roles in Mayo Chiki and Cube x Cursed x Curious), Rina Satou as Sawako (Kaoru in Amagami SS), Kyoko Hikami as Yoshiko (Urara in Sakura Diaries, Rabien Rose in Di Gi Charat), Sayaka Ohara as Yuri (Alicia in Aria The Animation) and Nobuo Tobita as Shingo (Domon in Flame of Recca). The opening theme by Eri Kitamura is called Happy Girl and sounds like your typical anime pop with her trademark style. The song is catchy in the sense that it is filled with lots of synthesizer sound effects and at certain points her voice is computerized. But the ending theme is even cuter and catchier. Coloring by Yui Horie is filled with that short little cute synthesizer bursts that it makes you feel like getting up from your chair and do a little robotic dance. Really. However those synthesizer beeps are too overwhelming that I can’t really hear what Yui Horie is singing till they are toned down during the chorus. Also, her voice is computerized to give off that cute effect.

I’m not really sure if blood is thicker than water here. Though it is true that this anime is trying to preach to us about the importance of a family staying together, but at the same time it is not necessary to be blood related to have a family. All you need is lots of love and support from each other. That is what counts to be a family. It doesn’t matter if your house is small and cramp, but if you’re a happy family, you’ll never feel lonely. This anime also teaches us about taking responsibility. Once you’ve taken up this ‘job’, there is no turning back. Abandoning and dumping everything halfway is just immature and too cruel. Caring for a family isn’t an easy job and it is the kind of work that is 24/7, 365 days a year and without any rest days. But the benefits are of course substantial and worth the toil and sweat you put in. I may not have experienced it myself but after seeing lots of shows like this, I can say that it’s something that is rewarding. Of course no life is without its obstacles but that is only minor once you’ve overcome them. Thus for Yuuta, he takes on several part time jobs to cover for their living expenses but he can never retire from his job of being their father. It may not be in monetary terms he’ll be compensated but the happiness and well-being of his nieces. Unless he kicks the buc-… Oops! Touch wood! Hope that never happens though I get this sinking feeling it’s a ‘family tradition’ to die young. Also teaching us is that we shouldn’t rely solely on ourselves to take care of everything. We aren’t superhuman so by doing everything by ourselves so as not to bother others will only tire ourselves out and in the end make it worse.

So if you are ever faced with the dilemma of taking care of someone else’s child due to some unprecedented tragedy, if you choose to be like Yuuta, then be prepared to kiss your freedom life away. I know this sounds unkind to what I’ve been saying so far but it serves as a warning that if you’re not up to task, then it is better for you to just walk away rather than have everyone including yourself suffer and regret later on. Which is what we see so much in today’s life. Next question: If a child ever starts asking about the birds and bees, don’t go saying that they are made by macho men in a factory line! This isn’t about ruining dreams. This is trauma!

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia

November 4, 2012

I was never really into the horror genre and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia would have easily been given the slip had not I saw that ‘comedy’ genre in its listing. Yes, yes. In animes nowadays no matter if they’re dead serious or comedy is not its driving force, sometimes there will always be that short little comical gag to relief tension or because of the situation or circumstances. So while I had my fair share of a dozen episodes of horror (and at certain scenes almost made my heart stop – thank God I’m still alive), I guess I have to be grateful too that there are some comical scenes as well. Thanks for the few laughs. It was cute and funny. And also thanks for the few frightening scenes (read sarcasm). Hmm… Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me because I don’t see that ‘comedy’ word anymore when I went back to the several sites to reconfirm this. Or did I saw the wrong show? Hope it wasn’t haunted or anything. Touch wood!

“I see dead people”. Heard of that famous line somewhere before? Apparently our main protagonist here can see dead people too. More accurately, just a single ghost. The ghost girl of his school. How, where, what, when or why this happen isn’t exactly the point. Besides having carved an infamous ghost story legend throughout the ages for those who have enrolled in this school, this ghost girl is funny too. She hangs around this dude because well, after all when nobody else could really see her so why waste your chance of ignoring him when you can have fun and mess around in his presence? It’s not like she’s a bad ghost. Just a bored ghost wandering and hanging around. Oh, did I mention this too? She has amnesia. In the sense she doesn’t remember how she died or her past. She doesn’t seem too bothered about it because she’s happy frolicking with him. But how long would that last? So okay, you’re a ghost and you have all eternity but seriously, when odd things begin to show up and that ghost stories aren’t just mere rumours (or are they?), then some investigation about her link to the past has to be done or else the haunting will go on and you won’t be able to move on. What will happen when her memories and past are discovered? That’s not funny, you know…

Episode 1
Momoe Okonogi lists in her diary about the paranormal activities that happened in school. Her pencil breaks as she changes a new one. Didn’t she notice her keychain moving by its own? But she did realize her cup now in a different spot! Maybe there’s a ghost!  A poltergeist! Or maybe she didn’t get enough sleep. She’s too deep in her monologue that she didn’t notice her own paper flying in mid-air. Isn’t it scary that she’s talking to herself like as though she’s talking to… A ghost?! Then she realizes her keychain falling over. Maybe there really is a poltergeist! Teiichi Niiya comes in and she tells him something may be really here with them. She’s starting to freak out but Teiichi is just trying to keep cool. But he’s acting pretty strange. Okonogi wonders if he could read her mind and it seems his ambiguous answer is spot on.  So does this mean he knows her feelings? To put it to a test, she asks a question via her mind. If she had only asked a simpler question. Duh… Kirie Kanoe comes in and doesn’t like the way they’re fooling around. She sits down and soon the Paranormal Investigations Club begins their activities. Okonogi wants to know if the club president is ever coming since she has never seen her. Speaking of which, Teiichi gets a call from the ‘president’ to say that she’s sick and not coming. Okonogi mentions about the result of her interview which leads her to a haunted lunch cart elevator. Though it is no longer in use, it is rumoured to have moved by itself. Suddenly the elevator starts working and this freaks Okonogi like hell. Before she knows it, Teiichi is kicked into the elevator! The next scenes are exactly a repeat from what we see at the beginning. Just that this is what really happened because indeed, there was another person in this room! A girl. Yuuko. We see Yuuko trying to get Okonogi’s attention by moving things but to no avail. Even if she did, she just freaked out by herself. Till Okonogi mentions Teiichi’s name and his great sense to see ghost that Yuuko decides to ‘haunt’ her by dropping that keychain. Teiichi comes in and isn’t amused to see Yuuko. Yeah, he sees dead people. Because Yuuko is toying with him, his answers to her seem like coincidence as though he is answering Okonogi. Then Kirie comes in and looks like she too can see Yuuko. The club meeting gets on the way and Yuuko is the ever missing president of Paranormal Investigations Club. So Yuuko tells Teiichi to feign that phone call… Then at the elevator, Yuuko starts it up to prove it is working properly but it freaks Okonogi out. Because she is clinging so close to Teiichi, Yuuko kicks that guy into the elevator and goes in with him.

Continuing off from that part, the cramped space isn’t really meant for 2 people. Heck it isn’t even meant for people. Or a ghost. Mind boggling thing: If Yuuko’s a ghost, why is she stuck with him in the elevator? Maybe she wants to… Teiichi realizes Yuuko must have been the one who spread those rumours about the elevator but she says he is the first person she abducted. Yuuko purposely lets him feel her body and doesn’t hesitate to say she loves touching him. That’s because he is the only one who can touch her. Others pass through her, look through her like as though she doesn’t exist (duh!). Maybe she’s lonely. Teiichi admits she likes touching her too and gropes her breast. The elevator reaches the bottom and opens. Well, Kirie saw what that pervert is doing. Okonogi thinks a bad ghost is following Teiichi and wonders if it’s Yuuko’s doing because her name appears in lots of ghost stories. She lets them know of her story that has Yuuko in it. She believes she is buried on one of the hills behind the school. She brings them there so Yuuko tags along but says she doesn’t remember the place nor has she been here. Okonogi brings them to a spot underneath a tree and true enough, a little tombstone with Yuuko’s name on it. Could it be true? But Yuuko insists she has never seen this before and that Teiichi should know better her body lies underneath the club room. Teiichi tries to tell Okonogi that probably Yuuko’s body isn’t here so she concludes Yuuko must have gone to this school at some point and someone erected this here in her memory. She feels relieved thinking this is a romantic ghost story than a scary rumour. Yuuko is not amused and kicks over the tombstone! Oh sh*t! Okonogi freaking out big time! After she runs away, Yuuko proceeds to show Teiichi a beautiful scenery overlooking the school. Yuuko claims though she said she has never come here before, perhaps she has been here after all. Teiichi finds a pair of bells near the tombstone and narrates there are popular stories at Seikyou Academy of a girl named Yuuko, who is a ghost with amnesia and also the president of the Paranormal Investigations Club. Before he knew it, he was stuck with her.

Episode 2
As narrated, Seikyou’s 60 years of history means the numerous expansions have turned the buildings into one giant maze. Abandoned classes became storerooms and hallways turned to dead ends. Teiichi heard rumours of a ghost in the old building especially a room with a large size mirror. He is shocked to see Yuuko. From the way she said things, it is as though he is her first visitor after a long time. Indeed. She admits she’s a ghost! Freaky! Teiichi suddenly sees gruesome visions and to ascertain Yuuko isn’t a ghost, he tries to touch her. Of all parts, he touched her breasts… Feels good? Hell, he could touch her! Yuuko explains she doesn’t know when or how she died. She can’t remember her past life nor is she interested to find out. So it doesn’t matter if she’s a ghost or not. But Yuuko clings on to Teiichi since she could touch him as well. She changes into her old school uniform (which is what we will see her in always – besides, does she really need to take off her clothes? Can’t she just change with a snap of a finger?) and wishes to let her do anything for who knows when he won’t ever be able to see and touch her again. She gets an idea for him to remember her and that is to kiss his forehead! She’s messing with him. Besides, doesn’t that feel like haunting him instead? She also mentions about an old story whereby a girl was trapped by a curse in this school. Thinking that girl is Yuuko, Teiichi sees more horrifying visions of perhaps Yuuko in distress when she was alive. He remembers the mirror and rushes back there to smash it. Behind it are stairways leading down to a dark basement and at the bottom, true enough, Yuuko’s skeletal remains. Yuuko freaks out. Now that he has seen her body, she feels… Embarrassed?! But that’s just bones, right? Well, she thinks it’s the ultimate nakedness and now that he’s seen it… Pervert! Teiichi narrates than an accident left her trapped and she was never rescued. Soon Yuuko forms the Paranormal Investigations Club since she is now somewhat interested in finding her past. Guess whom she roped in as a member? So, is Yuuko really haunting him?

Yuuko messes and flirts around with Teiichi in the clubroom till they land in a compromising position. Till Okonogi barges in for help. Teiichi panics but Yuuko says she can’t see her. Apparently people who don’t keep her presence in mind can’t see her. In other words, Teiichi cares enough about her to be able to see her. Okonogi is worried that Yuuko is going to kill her! Eh?! Seems she was playing this ritual alone, Hide the Demon whereby it involves putting a name on a doll. Since it’s a game for one, nobody will come to find you and there’s only one way to end the game and that’s to tell the doll it’s over. If you fail to do so, the game goes on forever and you’ll be pursued by whatever you put on that doll for eternity. Okonogi stabbed the doll with a blade and when she counted to 10, the doll went missing! Ever since, she felt someone following her and at this rate she may end up getting killed. Okonogi thought Teiichi has summoned a ghost when he is actually ‘interacting’ with Yuuko. So Yuuko comes up with that handphone idea to talk to the ‘ghost president’ and accept the case in hopes she could find a connection to her past. Okonogi is given a charm but to Teiichi’s dismay, it’s a fake charm made by Yuuko herself! Plus, why is that doll sitting in the room with Yuuko! She was walking around and saw this doll with her name so she couldn’t leave it and took it. So this whole thing was her fault to begin with?! How can he explain this to Okonogi? Yuuko says Hide the Demon is a form of autohypnosis. Due to the cram space and tension, it increases her anxiety and hallucinations of her subconscious. She could see things that didn’t exist and thus possible for things you can see to catch or kill you. How can you fight something that is all in just one’s mind? Yuuko says they’re going ghost busting. Okonogi sees a fearsome ghost before her. That’s because of her anxiety and fear when in actual fact it’s just playful Yuuko. Teiichi acts as the hero to pull her away and explains the ritual is used to summon demons and the doll was haunted by a ghost (all bluffs actually). Then he uses a real charm (which is of course a fake) to exorcise the ghost and put her heart at ease. Great acting, eh? Yuuko explains people who are afraid of supernatural will make them see what they want to see. Okonogi’s fear made Yuuko look like a demon. When you’re afraid, anything can look like a demon. Next day as the duo lament there is no connection of her past, Okonogi barges in and is very grateful to him. Too grateful. Yuuko could sense it’s just more than grateful feelings. Oh boy. She just leans on his back.

Episode 3
Yuuko wants to show Teiichi her summer clothes but it seems that guy has some other business to attend to. What’s this? A love letter he’s got? Actually, a girl wants to talk to him regarding ‘the girl behind him’. Oh… That girl turns out to be Kirie and she warns Teiichi he is being haunted by an evil spirit and to stay far away. When this school was just completed, a female student died in an accident and became a ghost that lurks the hallways. She searches for those who would share her pain and drags them to the other side, thus Spirited Away. Teiichi doesn’t believe her and asks if she could really see Yuuko. She just replies if she sees something that she shouldn’t, she’ll pretend she can’t see it at all! After Kirie leaves, Yuuko suddenly pops up behind Teiichi. Yikes! And starts sneezing. Ghosts get cold from the rain too? Drying themselves at the infirmary, seems Yuuko was worried that Teiichi didn’t show up at the club room since she heard stories of Spirited Away (from club member Okonogi who was eagerly talking to herself and waiting for Teiichi) and thought he became a victim. Then she asks Teiichi to describe her. Long black hair, pale white skin, beautiful face. Thank goodness that’s how Yuuko saw herself. Then she starts flirting over him but Kirie puts a stop to their unholy act. Branding Teiichi a pathetic idiot for falling for her wiles, she is going to make him see Yuuko’s true form. Teiichi doesn’t believe so he is made to look behind. Dirt coloured skin, twisted face, ugly hatred… OMG! Kirie takes Teiichi out and run. Was that really her?! Outside the hallways, Kirie introduces herself. Teiichi notices her surname similar to Yuuko’s and she reveals Yuuko is her blood relative. More accurately, Yuuko was her grandma’s older sister who died when she was 15 years old. When Kirie heard about the rumours, she thought it was just typical ghost stories. Till she found a photograph in grandma’s room. Ever since, she started seeing this Yuuko ghost and was as beautiful as in the picture. Initially she didn’t want to interact or make contact and ignored her but soon realized her mistake. She saw her true form, the regrets she had. All the sadness, hatred and repulsive bitterness, Yuuko turns out to be the girl in the Spirited Away story. Teiichi mentions Yuuko told him she had no regrets whatsoever. Lies! Those haunted by her will be Spirited Away and he saw her beautiful side because of his pervertness. Well, remember Yuuko did say people see her the way they want to? Teiichi mentions about Yuuko’s body and Kirie says they need to do something about it. Since Yuuko is coming, they have to run again.

In the room where the mirror once stand (now it’s covered with planks of wood), Kirie breaks open when Yuuko comes up behind Teiichi and curses her for stealing Teiichi away from her. Kirie became frightened that she ran into the basement. Teiichi couldn’t look at Yuuko so she realizes how terrible she must have looked. She feels sad that because of him, her lonely and meaningless days were over and her everyday life changed for the better. She was happy he accepted her and apologizes. Teiichi grabs her hand and admits he was afraid. Afraid to see the truth and pretended not to see and convince himself it wasn’t scary. Then he describes the Yuuko he remembers. The beautiful Yuuko with long black hair and pale white skin. Yuuko turns into that form but Teiichi needs to examine her more closely. Yikes! Her corpse that is. In the dark basement, Teiichi finds Kirie crying though she gave excuses she tripped, bla, bla, bla. Yeah, yeah. Pointing the flashlight at Yuuko’s corpse, he examines and finds her leg broken. She probably fell to this unused basement and wasted away, unable to move and never to be found. But something ahead caught their attention. A mini shrine with lots of seals around it! The duo emerge from the basement as Kirie admits her suspicions were wrong but they are not sure if Yuuko is an evil spirit. Kirie sees Yuuko haunting behind the chair, freaks out and runs. Yuuko confirms with Teiichi that he has examined every part of her body. She felt so embarrassed that she could die! Wait a minute. Isn’t she already dead? Kirie walks along and wonders if Yuuko wasn’t an evil spirit, then what was the evil spirit that she saw? Oh, there it is lurking… So when Teiichi returns to the club room, Okonogi tells about the other Spirited Away story. Apparently this school became cursed since it was built on a shrine where it once stood. The curse was why the girl who died from the accident was Spirited Away. Does this mean Yuuko was the one who was Spirited Away? Kirie comes into the club noting Yuuko is still involved in this and nothing has been solved yet. I guess that’s her way of saying she’s joining the club.

Episode 4
What’s this? They’re starting off with swimsuit fanservice of Kirie and Okonogi? Though Okonogi is pretty much well endowed, she wants to touch Kirie’s slender legs. In return she can touch her boobs and butt… WTF?! Anyway Kirie organizes a summer camp for the club since mysteries are bound to crop up at school on a summer night. On what basis? But will Kirie herself be alright? They’ll be staying at the old night duty room and Okonogi thought she had her first paranormal activity when the tap suddenly runs blood! Actually it’s just rust as the pipes aren’t in use for so long. They read the night duty log which records its own paranormal activity of something knocking on the door! So it’s decided they’ll investigate it tonight. However Teiichi notices Yuuko depressed and not her usual prankster self. While waiting for night fall, the trio swim in the pool. Okonogi is to show off her swimsuit when Yuuko suddenly twists Teiichi’s head the other way! Okonogi got the wrong idea that her swimsuit was so bad that it broke her heart and change into something less showy. Night comes as Teiichi and Kirie go patrolling. Okonogi is eager to stay back believing the paranormal incident will occur first when someone is alone. That also means she’ll be the first victim, right? Oh shi… While walking, Kirie explains she did this camp to investigate as she thinks this school might house another ghost. When she first saw Yuuko, she was the one as seen now and thought that ugly side of hers was her true form as an evil spirit. So when she saw this shadow thingy, that’s when she started seeing Yuuko as something hideous but as proven it was just all in her head. So what was that thing she saw? She used to run away alone but now has an ally. Did Teiichi get all that? Well, suddenly she realizes Teiichi has gone missing! Seems Yuuko has whisked him away to another room. She is upset that he ‘abandoned’ her for days (well, it’s the summer vacation) and when he returned, all he did was hang around with those girls and never commented on her swimsuit! He’s all she’s got. He apologizes but also mentions about Kirie being able to see her. Yuuko doesn’t like her. Period. She wants him to touch her again so this time they hold hands. When they return, they see Kirie crying alone in the hallway. Was she really up to this? Heading back to the night duty room, thinking Okonogi is asleep, Yuuko decides to pound the door to wake her up. Suddenly they heard a loud crash. Rushing outside to the window, they see Okonogi’s face stuck to the window! She heard some loud banging on the door, got frightened and stormed out! Haha. Then to shoo away the ghosts, she thinks of playing cards but realizes something freaky when Kirie distributes for 4 people. Cue for Okonogi to freak out!

That night Teiichi can’t sleep so he hears Yuuko remembering she did enter this place. She was the one responsible for the door knocking prank. As it could get cold in winter, she would knock on the door and the unsuspecting teacher would open and she would sneak in. As time passes, the opening stopped since who wouldn’t be afraid of the ghost knockings, right? The room became abandoned. Too bad that story made Teiichi fell asleep. Then she remembers the Rock of Curses. She wakes him up in the dead of the night to go investigate it. Apparently a teacher found it but got targeted by the curse. He quit school to try and escape from its curse. It is rumoured that if you write the name of the person you hate on it, the curse will kill them. But if you see your name written on it, you’ll die from the curse. Yuuko guides Teiichi as they leap through building rooftops and crawl through windows to get to the old building courtyard. Teiichi sees the rock and it’s filled with names. To his horror, his name is written there! How in the world?! He starts panicking he’s going to die from the curse when he sees Yuuko holding up a black marker pen. She wrote his name on the rock. Why that… She woke him up just for this prank?! Good scare, wasn’t it? Yuuko explains curses aren’t real. The bad feelings you get may be the curse. She is sure people presumed the teacher got cursed and quit and perhaps some event made it seemed like there was a curse involved. People don’t realize they aren’t able to choose whether or not to believe something. If they subconsciously believe something, thus there lies the potential for a curse. She apologizes to Teiichi that though the Rock of Curses does exist, it’s just an excuse. Having Teiichi float in the swimming pool and watching the sunrise, she never knew the other face of the school as night passes her by in an instant. She thanks Teiichi because of him noticing her presence, she realized this. Oh… And that shadow thingy is lurking next to Kirie as she sleeps!!! FFUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

Episode 5
It’s the school cultural festival and guess what Paranormal Investigation Club is doing? A haunted house… They have a real ghost, right? It’s Yuuko’s idea by the way. She’ll be playing the ghost too. Since she continues to flirt with Teiichi, Kirie feels irritated and takes Okonogi away since the latter suggested they should look for things to decorate the place. Kirie was so irritated that when she clams down, she realizes they’re lost. Teiichi wonders how Yuuko is going to scare them since others can’t see her. She’ll create an environment that makes them see things and they will see their fear before them. Though, I don’t know how making Teiichi undoing her obi would make it happen. Maybe she just wants to have fun? Kirie and Okonogi find themselves outside the old science lab preparation room. Okonogi knows a story about an anatomical model without a heart. A janitor was closing up and felt a presence behind him. It was the model and when morning comes, they found the janitor’s remains and his heart ripped from his chest! Okonogi then bumps into the model and her fears took over. She panics she is going to die when Kirie hugs her. She tells her it is just an object that doesn’t move and it won’t rip her heart either. Okonogi calms down and praises how amazing and beautiful she is. Kirie denies the latter. A mouse scoots by her feet, giving Kirie the jumps before a skeleton model drop and ‘sit’ by her. Okonogi shoos the mouse away as she sees Kirie crying and scared (I think the earlier part when she hugged Okonogi, it was to cover up her fear too). It’s her turn to comfort. Meanwhile the haunted house is such a success that any boy or girl that went in, ran out screaming in fear! Awesome realism! I don’t want to know what they saw. Kirie and Okonogi drag the model back and find themselves back in the main building bustling with the cultural activities. They participate in some of the booths but isn’t it weird for others to see the model tag along? Scary. Okonogi bumps into her friends Hitomi Nishikawa and Manako Kawatou. Seems they have a plan and want Okonogi to cooperate. That plan first involves stripping reluctant Kirie and then putting on maid clothes complete with a wig and cat ears. Hey, I thought she looked like Yuuko! Well, she’s her descendent. Anyway she’s looking super cute! Her genuine embarrassment makes her even cuter! Everybody gives her the thumbs up and wants her to serve them!!!

At the end of the day as Kirie rests, she takes a look at herself in the mirror and finds herself pretty cute too. Till she realizes the resemblance. Feeling irritated, she runs back to the haunted house. Inside as Kirie notes how much she hates this face, Yuuko confronts her and wonders if it’s because it reminds herself of Yuuko. Or maybe she can’t stop thinking about her and admires her. Kirie denies so Yuuko says it’s because she’s dead and one shouldn’t trust the dead. Kirie runs out and bumps into Teiichi. He can tell she is Kirie. She asks what he likes about Yuuko. She has all the things she has (maybe except the boobs) and he likes Yuuko better than her? Even if she’s prettier and girlier, you can’t deny the fact that she’s a ghost. Well, Teiichi didn’t understand what she’s trying to get because falling in love doesn’t have to do of whether you’re a ghost or not. Or aliens or gods… Kirie realizes and gives out a good laugh and teases him for not being normal to say he loves a ghost. Teiichi flusters because he could almost see Kirie’s breasts from the low cut of her dress. Though she is embarrassed, she mentions there isn’t anything to see. He notes even so, she’s still a girl. Realizing that you see what you fear in this haunted house, Kirie walks back in, pushing Yuuko aside. Realizing it’s the first time she touched her, what she saw earlier wasn’t Yuuko but herself whom she was unable to love. Then it hit her if the illusion was the work of Yuuko, then she must’ve been here the entire time and heard everything! In the end, seems Yuuko got the heart of the model (don’t ask where she picked it up from) hanging as the decoration. Okonogi deduces since the model can’t move, it charged to where its heart is. Thus, a heartless anatomical model with a heart. Huh? What? I don’t understand.

Episode 6
Rumours of the Red Woman is gaining ground. It is believed if you stay late after school, she will kill you and drain all your blood, thus the colour red. The haunted house experiences no business today. I guess everybody got scared off their pants, eh? Till a girl shows up because she wants to meet Yuuko. Can she see her too? As Kirie explains, their Yuuko is also in the ghost stories so she’s the most famous ghost story subject around. Okonogi lets them know about the recently popular rumour of Red Woman. In legends, she was meant to be a sacrifice to appease the gods. When the girl comes out, Teiichi asks if she did meet Yuuko. She replies yes and it was very scary. But why is she grinning? But Yuuko tells Teiichi she is a liar because she didn’t see her. In fact she didn’t see anything because she had no fears! A group of girls are worried with the numerous witness of Red Woman around school today, they plead to her for assurance. This girl whom they call… Yuuko?! She promises to protect them. Our original friendly ghost, Yuuko drags Teiichi around the school festival as they talk about Red Woman. Yuuko doesn’t know of any other ghost in school and perhaps Red Woman like her name implies is just a mysterious person and not a ghost. Suddenly they see a commotion and a group of students point out to a shady figure outside whom they believe is Red Woman. A scream follows and it turns out to be the human Yuuko who claims she was attacked by Red Woman. Soon a group of scared students start banging on Paranormal Investigation Club’s door. And I mean they’re trying to break it down for they want them to hand over Yuuko the ghost! They believe Red Woman is looking for her as her sacrifice. They break open and pull Teiichi out, demanding him to hand over Yuuko. Seriously, they’re so scared that they’re not thinking straight. The windows start breaking and the scared students flee thinking Red Woman has come. Actually it’s Yuuko smashing the window with her baseball bat. Soon Yuuko the human pops up and introduces herself as Yuuko Kirishima. Admitting the entire chaos was her doing, she hates people who blindly believe in ghost stories and hates people like them who enjoy and have fun with them. She is going to kill the ghost stories and that Yuuko should just disappear.

Flashback reveals because she shares the same name with the famous ghost, she got teased whether they’re related or not. Fed up of it all, she cooked up a story to make the students believe Yuuko is the one Red Woman wants to kill. Scared enough to believe if Yuuko dies, they’ll all be saved. Yuuko doesn’t really mind about what’s happening since she got bullied because of her. Suddenly Kirie tells them Kirishima has been chosen as Red Woman’s sacrifice. Seems the rumour was too effective that everyone got so scared and has gone crazy. Teiichi wants Yuuko to help out too despite Kirishima hates her. It’s the right thing to do. The paranoid students tie Kirishima up. Her plan backfired. She tells them the truth of the lies she made but nobody listened. They believe Red Woman exists because they are so afraid of her. They think Kirishima’s sacrifice will mean they can sleep better and lay this to rest once and for all. Her blood will make everyone happy. Everyone’s so selfish if you ask me. But that’s normal seeing how paranoid they are. Suddenly the Red Woman pops up and approaches Kirishima. You should’ve guessed it’s Yuuko in disguise. She mentions this isn’t the Yuuko she seeks and by giving a false sacrifice, they shall pay with their lives! Another round of chaos as the students run for their lives leaving Kirishima alone behind. Teiichi frees Kirishima and lets her know the ‘Red Woman’ she saw was the Yuuko ghost of the old building. When the students manage to reach out of the building and back into the school festival, all the paranoia built up died down. As if it was all in their mind. Teiichi tries to explain that the Yuuko he knows isn’t as scary as she thinks. Kirishima thought so too but at least he didn’t call her by her first name. So can Kirishima see Yuuko? I mean when both Yuukos pass each other, Kirishima whispered “Sorry” into her ear. Unless it was because Teiichi saw Yuuko coming back and called her name so it probably gave Kirishima a hint. Teiichi apologizes to Yuuko for dragging her into this but she’s okay and happy with it since it was him. Okonogi is disheartened to learn that Kirie rang the bell as part of the prank to scare those students. Fearing the teacher might find out, she runs away. But Kirie sees that shadow figure next to her! FFUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

Episode 7
Yuuko and Teiichi are in another one of their fake ghost busting activities. This time a ghost piano. Are you relief, Okonogi? She praises him for his ghost busting techniques and hopes she could learn some from him. Private lessons, that is. Yuuko felt jealous and kicks the piano chair for some paranormal effect! Kirie remembers talking to the shadowy figure who told her that all they do is repeat and another iteration has occurred. Yuuko continues to hang close with Teiichi. In basketball, making his ball look like he did some awesome throw. In class, sitting on his lap like nobody’s business. Heck, it’s nobody’s business. Isn’t it a little cramped? For lunch, she’s going to eat alone with him. Till Okonogi shows up for the same reason. Can’t say no, can’t he? Of course Yuuko sits right in the middle of the table so obviously Teiichi is feeling some kind of tension. In yet another jealous move, she eats all his lunch! Okonogi tries to feed him hers but Yuuko slaps her chopsticks away! Teiichi is not amused. He talks to Kirie and notices Yuuko hasn’t been herself lately though at the same time she’s so much like herself. Confused? Kirie mentions she saw that shadow again and her form was that of hatred, envy and grief. She mentions isn’t it strange that Yuuko doesn’t get mad or angry? Even though she pouts, it’s just jealousy when girls come close to him. In actual fact she does not harbour or feel anger or hatred. So she having no such emotions somewhat makes it unnatural. Maybe she’s dead? Yuuko from across the building sees Teiichi but she feels jealous when she also sees Kirie. That shadowy figure pops up behind her trying to make her remember.

Kirie has an idea what that shadow’s connection to Yuuko is. Using Kirishima’s case as the Red Woman, she projected all her negative emotions on Yuuko. So Yuuko may have done the same and pushed all that to another aspect of herself. She may have dissociative identity disorder whereby she splits herself into several personalities under stress to protect herself. If she ever did sever her missing memories and feelings of her own, then there is no way to retrieve it as it all stands. If those severed memories and emotions manifested as a separate entity with a will of its own, than that shadow is an aspect of Yuuko whom she calls Shadow Yuuko. Yuuko heard all this and wants them to stop when Shadow Yuuko pops out. She confirms she is Yuuko and wants her to remember. They’ll continue to warp everything around themselves till they bring their wishes to fruitation. Yuuko runs away as Teiichi goes after her. She denies everything. They find themselves at the courtyard of the Rock of Curses. She thinks presumptions are like this rock. Because of them, you see things like the shadow, things that never existed. Now that it’s daylight, Teiichi could see the rock clearer and it looks a little strange. Cleaning it a bit he reads a writing that states this is a memorial to the students that died in a plague 60 years ago! Furthermore, Yuuko’s name is on it! Did she die from the plague? However Teiichi says her body is under the old building and her name wouldn’t end up here if she had died so. Teiichi mentions all the recent paranormal cases, each ghost story are all related to her in a twisted way. In order to calm the accursed plague, she was sacrificed alive. Yuuko says since she has no lingering regrets or malice, she may have volunteered. Maybe this explains her cheery attitude?

They’re going to let this case rest but Shadow Yuuko isn’t going to end it. She wonders if Yuuko is going to push all her regrets and malice away to stay beautiful. She is so because she forced it all on her. She is the ugly memories and feelings she couldn’t bear. She wants her to remember or else she will repeat what she did by pushing it all onto her. Yuuko continues to deny so Shadow Yuuko adds since she’s fallen in love for the first time, she has given birth to a new negative emotion: Jealousy. Shadow Yuuko doesn’t mind and will accept it and charges straight at her. When Kirie comes into the picture, everything seems to have returned to normal. Next few scenes we see Yuuko lingering around on her own. Each time she sees her own reflection she gets alerted thinking she may have seen her shadowy self. Even hanging around with Teiichi she isn’t her cheery self. Yuuko notes she is afraid to look at him in the eye for each time she does, she will see her other self. She doesn’t want to remember her past and feelings. When Teiichi leaves for class, Yuuko pushes him down the stairs! OMG! Was she possessed to do that?! Though Teiichi survived (but in bandages and crutches), he doesn’t see Yuuko around anymore. Till he enters the club room. It’s Yuuko alright but she doesn’t remember who he is. Oh no…

Episode 8
Yuuko thought she made him suffer to be in this condition. Bad enough for her to make her forget that she doesn’t want to see him again or even touch her. Teiichi talks to Kirie about this and she believes she may have cut off her memories to protect herself. Whether it was really an accident that she pushed him down the stairs, she has dissociated her memories of him. Like an amnesia. Talking about memories are the product of one’s personality, one’s actions and way of life change depending on past experiences. So for unpleasant and traumatic memories that are hard to get rid of, the carefree and naive Yuuko is what Teiichi came to know. Teiichi says that they originally started the club to look into her past and retrieve her memories but if she cut it off voluntarily, there is no point to the club now. However what Kirie wants to know is whether he wants to get Yuuko back or not. Since he’s indecisive, he calls him an idiot. If he’s okay with it then so be it since the dead and living can’t get along. She even jokes if he really can’t forget about her, she can take her place. Teiichi walks back and sees Yuuko. However he turns around and walks away. Those painful memories of her not remembering him has him slip and crash to the ground. Okonogi is shocked and helps him up. I guess it’s a chance for her to get closer to him. She also feeds him for lunch but it’s like déjà vu. If felt like someone slapped her hand away before she could feed him. Teiichi continues to hang out more often with Okonogi and looks like Kirie isn’t too happy. Another jealous girl in the making? So much so she calls him out if he really has forgotten about her and if that’s the case, she won’t bug him anymore. But Teiichi doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She breaks down mentioning she adored her when some force throws her back. Kirie thought she heard bells. Another lunch time with Okonogi, when she goes to get drinks, he sees her club diary and browses through and sees a love umbrella of his name and Yuuko’s. Suddenly memories of her came flooding in. When was the last time he called her name? Okonogi return and so does her friends who tease her about liking Teiichi, much to her embarrassment. So she explains he always seem so cool and reliable and admired him in that sense. Asking if he has someone he likes, Teiichi answers yes (hint: A certain ghost girl). It may be heartbreak for Okonogi but she keeps a cheerful expression.

Teiichi returns to the club room but is stopped by Kirie. She wonders if it will do any good since he can’t see Yuuko anymore. He says if his feelings are real, he will be able to. Even if she doesn’t remember him, if her memories are her heart, he doesn’t want her to lose more than she already has. Inside the room, Teiichi scream Yuuko’s name out comes the ghost girl still not sure who he is. He brings her with him to the rooftop and tells her of all the wonderful times they spent together. I’m sure if this talk could jog her memories, it would already a long time ago, right? Anyway he continues to identify himself and his purpose of forming the Paranormal Investigations Club. Though he wanted to know her past, what he really wanted to know was her heart. Why? Because he loves her! So desperate for him to make her remember that he trip and fall onto her. I guess it worked like a charm because he got his hands all over her boobs! The first place he touched when they first met. Who could forget that? Oh! Yuuko’s memories are back! She remembers everything. When she placed his hands over her chest to make him feel how fast her heart is beating, I was thinking how odd it is because do ghosts have heart beats? They both hug as they both confess they love each other. And guess what? Okonogi saw everything. Minus Yuuko of course. She deduces he loves Yuuko, the ghost of the old building more than her and is thrilled with that reason why she could not compare herself over a famous ghost story like her. Yeah, whatever. Kirie is in the club room looking at an old photo with Yuuko in it. She ponders if she separated her feelings and memories of Teiichi, then where did t all go? Then she hears the sound of the bell and realizes Shadow Yuuko is next to her! FFUUUUUUUU!!!!!! Was she the one that pushed Kirie away then? However Shadow Yuuko doesn’t remember who Kirie is.

Episode 9
When Okonogi opens the door, Shadow Yuuko vanishes and everything returns to normal. Was it a dream? Yuuko is back to her cheery self. So happy that she wants Teiichi to say those 3 words again. Now? Yes. Too soft. Can’t hear you. Before he sounds like a mad fool confessing to himself, Kirie puts a stop to it. She is going to tell him about Shadow Yuuko when Yuuko slaps her! Teiichi is taking a test and he must be helluva good in controlling his calmness because Yuuko is bugging him to say “I love you” out loud! Writing it down isn’t going to do any good so the bugging continues till the test is over! He hasn’t even finished yet! And he got reprimanded by the teacher thinking he’s playing a prank on her that he loves her! To make it up to him, Yuuko tries to feed him for lunch. Won’t it be embarrassing if people see a guy being fed alone? Yuuko says not to worry since he doesn’t have much of a presence. Ouch. Then Okonogi comes by and decides to join him for lunch. In an accidental déjà vu ‘revenge’, Okonogi accidentally and unknowingly hits Yuuko food away when she tries to feed Teiichi. Yuuko got upset and ran away in tears. That’s the first time he saw her cry. And when the usually flirtatious Yuuko who doesn’t even mind her modesty being naked in front of him suddenly gets embarrassed and scream the pervert he is, something is definitely wrong. Anyway Kirie wants to talk to Teiichi about Shadow Yuuko she saw again. However Yuuko doesn’t remember her. Kirie concludes it isn’t that she doesn’t remember, she doesn’t know at all. Okonogi suddenly barges into the room like an eager beaver wanting to meet this Yuuko ghost. Seems Kirie has told her about Yuuko’s existence and it wouldn’t harm gaining an ally. So she thought. Despite Okonogi being overly eager to meet Yuuko, she still can’t see her. Then Yuuko mentions about wanting to investigate the Rock of Curses. Eh? Didn’t they do that already? At the courtyard, Yuuko fools around with Okonogi by writing her name on the rock and “Meat” on her forehead to freak her out! Teiichi and Kirie discuss if they look into her past, she’ll dissociate her recovered memories again. However she thinks all is not lost because for the first time, they saw Yuuko getting angry or cried for the first time. When Yuuko forgot and regained memories of him, what about the times she didn’t remember him, where did those memories go? Shadow Yuuko. During the time he couldn’t see Yuuko, it wasn’t Shadow Yuuko she saw but rather her jealousy so she deduces Yuuko moved her jealousy along with her memories of her to Shadow Yuuko, then perhaps returned along with other memories and feelings.

It’s time for them to leave school but Yuuko doesn’t want him to go. He assures he’ll come back tomorrow and lets go of her hand. Yuuko tries to go after him but the more she runs towards the school gates, the further she gets. Then she feels this choking feeling in her heart. This is how loneliness feels. Shadow Yuuko materializes and this time looks like an exact replica of Yuuko. Save for her flaming blue left eye (Black Rock Shooter?). Yuuko has several visions of her torrid past. She still doesn’t want to remember so Shadow Yuuko reminds her she is her. She knows her pain since she forced it upon her and wants her to share it. She sinks her hands into Yuuko’s chest but before anything could happen, Teiichi returns to grab Yuuko and run. She was worried something might happen and made a u-turn. She tells her to hide while she talks to Shadow Yuuko. Wondering why she is tormenting Yuuko, on the contrary it’s the other way round. All she does is run away from the pain and so she is the ugly feelings Yuuko dissociated from. She will never be in peace unlike Yuuko and will continue to be tormented with these painful memories. Since she is also part of Yuuko, does he hate her? Knowing Yuuko wants to rid of her, she vanishes to find Yuuko. I mean, how can you run away from yourself? You’ll always find, uhm, you. Trying to share her pain with her once more, Teiichi shoves her away but not seeing those horrible visions. They make a run for the gate but the more they run, the further it gets. Shadow Yuuko closes in and since he can’t take anymore of this, dives into Shadow Yuuko. Teiichi goes back in time when the school was just completed. Next thing he knows, he sees through Yuuko’s own eyes, her memories.

Episode 10
I guess Teiichi couldn’t avert his eyes so he saw every aspect of Yuuko’s body when she’s changing. Too bad we viewers didn’t get that same treatment ;p. He could also feel what she feels (her boobs are heavy?) and notes this isn’t exactly Yuuko’s memory but Shadow Yuuko’s as her memories now reside in her. Yuuko’s younger sister, Yukariko (Kirie’s grandma) didn’t want her to go visit a girl named Asa fearing that she would get infected by the plague too. Yuuko slaps her for being negative since in such trying times they must help each other. Yuuko makes her way to see Asa who is somewhat depressed. Who could blame her because her entire family got wiped out by the plague and she’s the only one survive. Even if Yuuko gives her positive advice, she thinks she’s lying and believes she’ll soon die. To prove it, Yuuko eats the sweet that Asa had in her mouth. She gives Asa half of her bells so that when she’s not with her, think of it as a Yuuko substitute. Yuuko leaves and meets Yukariko on the way back. They see a group of village elders gathering. Thinking it’s something important, they follow them to the school where the secret meeting is held. Seems they are worried that the plague will kill them all. The thirteenth family has died out and some of them are affected. They need to do something. One thinks it’s the curse for building the school on top a shrine. Despite the shrine was already in ruins and completely burnt down during the air strikes, it didn’t change the fact they built on a shrine and perhaps did not do a proper offering. The only way to appease the gods is to sacrifice a young child. How can they be so cruel? Well, everyone’s dropping like flies so a missing person won’t make much. Even if it does, they’ll use the plague excuse. Such demons! But who will be the sacrifice? It is suggested to let the Red Woman decide. How? Lots will be drawn among the villagers to be the Red Woman. That Red Woman will then select a child to be buried as sacrifice in the shrine ruins. The sisters had heard enough and were about to escape but her bells gave them away. They run and hide in the room which Teiichi recognizes as their club room. But there was no hole in the wall then. They manage to evade the villagers.

Asa is made to live with them since being alone she may be a target for the sacrifice. Taking a bath, Teiichi now has reluctant fanservice of not only Yuuko but Yukariko too! Too bad we viewers aren’t given such luxury. Anyway Yuuko believes the elders’ won’t hold since it’s the age of science and will do something about it. Yukariko slaps her since she is worried but gets slapped back for being selfish. Soon Yuuko notices Asa not in her room. Realizing a torn in her coat, she fears the worst and goes out looking for her. Inside the school grounds, she sees Asa being held down by the elders. Because Yuuko is appalled at what they’re doing, Asa recognizes her voice and calls out her name. Instantly, the villagers view it as the Red Woman naming her sacrifice and pull Yuuko in as the sacrifice. They throw her down the hole and in the process she broke her leg. When she wakes up, Teiichi is surprised that Yuuko is glad this happened to her since Asa and Yukariko will be left alone. Then she crawls her way to the shrine and sees a mirror within reflecting her hideous side. She panics as reality hits her she is going to die and screams for help. Teiichi knows too well help never came and her cries were in vain. Then all the candle lights blew out and Yuuko is heard with one last blood curling scream. As Yuuko sits alone waiting for her death, she starts to blame Asa for her misfortune. What had she done to deserve this? After all these times being nice to her, she is going to hate her. However Yuuko calms herself and couldn’t bring herself to do so since it wasn’t Asa’s fault to begin with. So if Yuuko won’t hate her, I suppose that’s why Shadow Yuuko does. She hates all those who denied her life and made her a sacrifice. Teiichi is brought back to reality while Shadow Yuuko hates Yuuko for splitting her off.

Episode 11
It’s only been a few minutes Teiichi has been knocked out. It certainly felt like a lifetime there, eh? Teiichi realizes Yuuko may have dissociated her memories again when she doesn’t know who Shadow Yuuko is. When Yuuko touches him, suddenly memories of her painful past come flowing in as she realizes he knows her past. Because of that Yuuko can’t see or hear Teiichi anymore despite him standing just right next to her. Even next day in school, Yuuko waits for Teiichi. He is there but she couldn’t see him. Teiichi talks to Kirie and she concludes that since he knows her past, they are also his memories now. This means as far as Yuuko is concerned, he has become Shadow Yuuko. Since she can’t see Shadow Yuuko and quickly discards her from her consciousness, this now applies to Teiichi. Teiichi has lunch with Okonogi and tries to hint he is there. I guess she got it but that’s about it. Teiichi has another talk with Kirie. He felt he turned into a ghost and may forget her one day. If his touch brings her pain, maybe he should leave her alone. However Kirie blows her top about him being a liar and a coward. Does he think if this is what Yuuko wants? If he loves Yuuko, he should wake up and stop lying to herself. They need to take responsibility. Do her tears convince you? He returns to the club room and has an idea to communicate. He writes what he wants to say in Okonogi’s diary and soon they start to exchange writings. Despite so, Yuuko feels lonely and breaks down. Okonogi comes in with a present for Teiichi. Some candy drops her family line used to make. They still taste the same, eh? Then he realizes something. Upon his request, Kirie takes him to see her grandma who is also to superintendent of Seikyou. Yukariko knows about Teiichi since she has heard from Kirie how he could see Yuuko (though Kirie never told her she herself could see Yuuko as it would bring back sad memories). Yukariko confirms she could always see Yuuko’s ghost but in a twisted form of hate and spite. Those who buried her were equally afraid and her name was forbidden to be mentioned for quite a while. Soon those elders passed away and Yukariko inherited this school while she was still young. She kept the old building as tribute to Yuuko knowing her body is buried somewhere inside. However Yuuko’s spirit wouldn’t rest and continues to haunt the hallways. Teiichi denies and describes Yuuko as the kind and beautiful girl he always sees her. Since he wants to speak to her again, he came here to know more about Asa. Yukariko shows him her old photo album when slowly it dawned to Teiichi. He rushes to Yuuko’s tombstone and takes the bell.

He heads back to the club room and smashes everything! This enables Yuuko to see him once more since everything in this room is a treasured part of her memories. So if she could see him, it means she could see her other self. Oh, there she is now. Yuuko goes into trauma mode and wants it all to stop so Shadow Yuuko wants to drag her into her suffering. Teiichi goes up to talk to her but Shadow Yuuko isn’t amused that he’s acting like he knows everything after watching their little episode. She chides him for all the suffering and pain she had gone through and what does he know anything about that. Teiichi admits he knows nothing. But he knows how painful she was suffering. He’s crying too! Not crocodile tears, please! It hurts him so much to see her in pain. Worse, he could only watch and do nothing. It was very frustrating. So if she’s an ugly mass of hatred, how can he shed tears? Simple. Because she’s Yuuko too. She’s still part of the Yuuko he loves. Both Yuukos realize their wrongs since she’s been hating for such a long time. It felt painful but somehow it feels like it’s fading away (because of Teiichi’s tears). And since Teiichi accepts them as they’re both the Yuukos he love, the Yuukos reconcile and merge back into one. Welcome back. Later as explained, the names of all those who conspired in her sacrifice were written on the memorial, the Rock of Curses. They suffered from the plague in the end. Yuuko notes her good and bad memories lie in this tombstone now. Teiichi shows her the photos from Yukariko’s album. She has been taking care of Asa ever since Yuuko’s demise. Now for the revelation part. Asa’s full name is Asagi, which is Teiichi’s grandmother’s name. Fate? Yuuko is so happy her suffering wasn’t for nothing. It’s because Asa lived, she got to meet him. So happy that she throws herself into Teiichi. So happy that she doesn’t mind getting buried again and again. Is she sure about that part?

Episode 12
It’s winter and Okonogi has news for Teiichi and Kirie. Seems their club room is sealed off as Yukariko has found a corpse underneath it. She heard rumours it might be related to the superintendent and that the ritual getup made it as though somebody must’ve been sacrificed when the old building was put up. She couldn’t be more accurate. But the surprising thing was the room was wrecked like as though a poltergeist had a field day! We know it wasn’t a ghost… Okonogi deduces Teiichi knows that dead girl is Yuuko. How? She couldn’t help but read their lovey-dovey communication in her diary. How embarrassing?! They forgot to erase it, eh? So as stated, the authorities are having a proper burial for her body and since she died an unnatural death, she may get an autopsy. Feeling embarrassed, Yuuko? The shrine will be moved and sanctified anew, the tombstone Asa made for Yuuko will be moved to Kirie’s family grave, the underground will be filled up and the room used as storage shed once more. It’s all going to end soon so it can’t be help if they feel kind of sad. Yuuko wants to go on a date but how can she when she can’t leave the school grounds? If she says so, then a date it is. First she borrows clothes from the drama club but isn’t it a little too small? Are you saying she’s fat? Woah! The buttons are unbuttoning itself! Teiichi tries to prevent that and grabbed her breast instead. Slap! However Teiichi is happy since she never showed this side before. After all, she combined with her dissociated self. For lunch, Yuuko is extremely happy when she finally manages to feed him. No interruptions! Even happier when he feeds her back. Suddenly the chopsticks slip off her hand but she didn’t think much of it. Wasn’t she fading a little there?

Then sitting together by the frozen lake (school pool, that is), the last straw came when her bell slipped off. She gets up, thanks Teiichi for everything and wants to break up. What? She feels they can’t stay like this anymore as she is fading away. She existed as a ghost since she had something to do and that was to reunite with her other self. Thanks to him, she was able to accept her past and memories. Now she has no regrets so this is the end. She can accept this because she’s happy. Teiichi won’t let her go. He doesn’t want to. She wants to end it with a clean farewell and asks if he has seen other ghosts beside her. If many people die, yet why is she the only ghost? There are no ghosts. Even if there were, they didn’t stay in this realm forever so she’s vanishing with her regrets. Teiichi won’t have this and is desperate enough to call Kirie or Okonogi to help. Yuuko prevents him as she doesn’t want others to interrupt their final moment. She wants him to go home and not see her disappear. She knows he loves him but if he sees her disappear, it’ll make him sad. She wants to live on after she’s disappeared, fall in love with someone else and find happiness again. Teiichi refuses to believe this is the end and wants to be with her till the very end. Because he loves her. Well, you cry, now you made her cry too. So back in the club room, the place where they first met, he felt it was fate he was brought here. He heard the sound of the bells from her other self. It’s not as though she picked him because he’s Asa’s grandson but in a way Shadow Yuuko too liked him. Then Yuuko’s words become inaudible so they communicate via the writing. Parting can be painful so Teiichi agrees to forget her, live his life, bla, bla, bla. Then she vanishes. He changes his mind. He wants her to stay after all. She’s not totally gone yet. Still in the process of fading. This is your last chance. Last chance saloon for a goodbye kiss. She’s gone for real.

Spring arrives as Okonogi tells Teiichi the seal over their club room has been removed. Seems Yukariko is going to preserve it for historic value rather than demolish it. She hopes they can revive the Paranormal Investigations Club. Teiichi narrates the numerous paranormal rumours that he doesn’t know anything anymore now. It was all a dream. An illusion. His memories of his time with Yuuko are now locked away deep within and won’t surface again. I hope he won’t split his own personality for this. Teiichi returns to the club room only to see it fixed up. Man, Okonogi did one heck of a good clean up job. He sees a box that warns him he’ll be cursed if opened. Well, curiosity killed the cat. And since it has come to that, here is his curse. Or best gift. Why, IT’S YUUKO!!! SHE’S BACK!!! WHY?! WHY?! HOW?! He’s not dreaming, isn’t he? So desperate of wanting to meet her that he’s seeing things. Not! She’s real. In the flesh. Although she’s a ghost ;p. Yuuko couldn’t go to heaven and thought all her worldly regrets had disappeared but something is keeping her here. That kiss. Yes. THAT KISS. So wonderful that it makes her want more and now it’s keeping her here. So Teiichi, you’ll have to take responsibility! Here’s another kiss to welcome her return! And so you could say, Teiichi continues to be haunted by Yuuko. Together forever. Truly fearsome!

Still Being Haunted… I Did Not Forget… The Fear!
Phew! It ended! Thank goodness. I admit I’m an amateur in handling spooky stories and don’t sit well so there were several moments that I was actually freaked out. Especially Shadow Yuuko. She herself was already enough to give me some sleepless nights and bad nightmares. If you are a horror veteran or somebody who just loves ghost stories and horror movies, I’m sure the spookiness here is nothing but as I’ve said for me, I was really scared at certain scenes. I know it’s all in my mind but I can’t help it since I’m watching this series alone. At night! With the lights off!!! Oh shi… It just really ups the tension and fear. So you could say that I was scared the daylights and the sh*t out of my pants when the horror theme starts to build up. However when Yuuko’s case was solved, the ending suddenly turns into a love drama. From fear, it suddenly became heart wrenching moments that would tug your heart strings. If not for the earlier horror moments, I would have been very emotionally moved and cried along when Teiichi and Yuuko had to part. The fear in me had ‘cushioned’ the tear jerking parts so it was hard for me to feel truly sad. Though it was still heartbreaking to see them face the difficult crossroad of parting and that’s why those final moments felt like a dramatic love story so much so for that instant you may have forgotten this was initially a horror themed genre in the first place.

So basically Yuuko became a ghost because she was afraid to confront the truth about her past. It is understandable that anyone who experienced such traumatic experience wouldn’t want to go remember them again. I’m no psychologist or paranormal expert but I guess when ghosts have split personalities, they’ll become a different entity instead of humans who remain the same body just with different behaviours. Before she accepted her ugly self, Yuuko was such a fun and carefree girl. A cheeky ghost that you would love or be very afraid (if she’s haunting you, that is). When you’re hanging around in school for the last 60 years, you’d be pretty much bored so when there is someone who can interact with you, unless you’re the lone wolf type (which Yuuko isn’t), then you could say two’s a company. Three is only a crowd when another woman is involved ;p. But that’s a different matter altogether. Then when the truth about her personality arises, it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. The only way for her to overcome it is to accept them. I mean, how can you move on if you do not accept yourself? The good and bad part makes her a whole. For one is neither without the other. For Teiichi, he was pretty much unsure on what to do what’s best for Yuuko. Should he leave her alone or should he continue to be by her side. Thanks to Kirie, he understands what needs to be done. He just needs to do what he wants to from the bottom of his heart. Even if the truth hurts and sets her free. I guess for a kid who can see ghosts, he’s doing quite a good job being calm even when Yuuko’s being cheeky flirting all around him. She thinks it’s alright just because nobody else could see her flirt brazenly? Oh, Kirie isn’t even in her sights.

Okonogi is another amusing girl. I’m not sure where she is in terms of tolerating paranormal incidents. At times we see her the eager beaver and the ghost story expert but when she experiences them or sees such occurrence first hand, she gets spooked out. She’s hoping for something to happen and when it does she freaks out. So maybe she doesn’t care enough about Yuuko or know about her well enough to see her. Maybe. Just maybe. Of course the other reason why she’s in the club is because she likes Teiichi. Too bad his heart will always be with the ghost girl. There are many hints that indicate Kirie also has feelings for Teiichi but I guess she knows what lies in his heart and perhaps not wanting to earn the wrath of Yuuko’s haunting, she’d better just be an observer if she knows what’s good for her. Is it just me as I happen to know that when Kirie sometimes talks, she starts posing. Even we have solved the mystery of Yuuko’s demise, we certainly won’t solve the mystery of how a human kid can fall in love with a ghost. Sure, love knows no bounds but if you think about it, Teiichi is a mortal which means he’ll grow up, get old and die. Yuuko will always remain the same. So maybe after Teiichi kicks the bucket as grandpa, he’ll be able to eternally join her? Then there’s this issue too. Since Teiichi can touch Yuuko, and there are a few scenes when they get too close. You know Teiichi likes to touch her boobs, right? Okay, maybe when she provokes him. Hey, he’s still a young normal boy. So what happens when they have sex? Can Yuuko bear his child? Will the child be half-human and half-ghost? Perhaps it’s possible since in many Japanese stories there are those characters that are of mixed descendent and parentage (remember Inuyasha?). But thinking about this is just getting too far ahead. For now, it’s good that Teiichi and Yuuko can continue to be together. Forever doesn’t really sound right, don’t you think?

Whether you believe it or not, some of the explanations about curses and the sightings of ghosts are up to you to believe as what is being explained by Yuuko or Kirie are just from a rational point of view. People’s minds are complex it may all just be in one’s mind. Or not. There is one issue about Yuuko as the ghost that is bugging me. Well, she doesn’t really display many characteristics of a ghost. In short, from what I see Yuuko as, she resembles more of an invisible woman than a ghost. Firstly, you don’t see her fly, right? You don’t see her walk through walls too, do you? Then she is able to interact with other objects like lifting things and such so if you happen to be an unfortunate chap who saw something moved by itself, I won’t blame you if you freak your hair out. That’s why I say Yuuko feels more like an invisible woman more than a ghost. It’s like she’s got some stealth mode on and everybody except Teiichi and Kirie could only see and hear her. However, think about this. She is able to get wet and when she dries her clothes, will the clothes she wears be visible or invisible? I mean, you see her manually changing her uniform so this means if she’s invisible then at least her clothes won’t, right? Since it’s her skin that you can’t see. Unless her clothes are ghost clothes too. Creepy!

Sometimes when you think about it, ghosts aren’t such a scary phenomenon itself because the scariest one has to be humans themselves. Worse than animals, worse than beasts. The way Yuuko was sacrificed just to appease their fears show us how primitive we humans can be. Despite living in the modern age, we still have backward thinking and are more inclined to believe in old wife’s tale, age old tradition beliefs and such when we are confronted with the fearful unknown. So you can say that ghosts that linger on in this planet (if there are any) are the product and results of our own doing. We reap what we sew. If people had not torment or treat others badly before their unjust death, then they wouldn’t have and sense of regret of vengeance when they die, right? But of course as far as this series is concerned, regret and vengeance wasn’t probably what kept Yuuko around. Got addicted to Teiichi’s kiss that she doesn’t want to leave, eh? Yeah, her heaven and paradise are on Earth itself next to him.

When I first see the art and drawing and the way they use the different visuals and angles to project the horror, I thought this series resembled closely to Cube x Cursed x Curious. True enough, I didn’t go thinking it’s SHAFT this time but Silver Link, the same production studio who brought us Cube x Cursed x Curious. Though that also series has supernatural and some horror elements, this one had more fanservice and comedy. Thus the styles in the visuals are recognizable and like I’ve already admitted, it was enough to scare an amateur like yours truly. Despite the end card with different illustrations may look cute and sometimes comical, but the gruesome narration makes it quite frightening in an aural sense (please remember I’m still a big chicken). Like hell and heaven. You get pleasing visuals but haunting narration. On a trivial note, the episode titles also show a quadruple of pictures pertaining to Yuuko’s different expression. Happy, sad, funny, serious, cheeky, laughing, pretty and ugly.

Yumi Hara did quite a good job voicing the different states of Yuuko. Whether she’s being cheeky and flirtatious or just the vengeful and spiteful shadow self. She doesn’t have much anime roles to her name (yet) and as Takane Shijou in The Idolmaster and Sawa Yamauchi in Sket Dance are the few roles credited to her name. Though I couldn’t instantly recognize Eri Kitamura, at least when she takes on cheeky loli or haughty girls role like Rin of Kodomo No Jikan, Izumo in Ao No Exorcist and Miu from Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai, she was just unrecognizable here. It’s like she’s putting on another side of her voice as her role as Kirie. Tsubasa Yonaga as Teiichi sounds very boyish. Sounds very like his other roles like Hanabusa in Yumeiro Patissiere, Jun in Special A and Youji Haneda in Oretachi Ni Tsubasa Wa Nai. Misato Fuken as Okonogi also does well as she has voiced such lively characters as well like Kurumu in Rosario To Vampire and Rika of Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai. Other casts include Ami Koshimizu as Kirishima (Horo in Spice And Wolf), Gara Takashima as Yukariko (Julia in Cowboy Bebop), Satomi Satou as the young version of Yukariko (Ritsu in K-ON!) and Mana Hirata as Asa (Hazuki in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu). The opening theme is Choir Jail by Konomi Suzuki. Though it’s a rock piece, the opening pipe organ tries to make it sound like a horror theme. And the lyrics I thought it was just sad in some ways, “Burn myself”, “Crying won’t move you closer to your dreams”, “The pain inside is blinding me”. The ending theme is Karandorie by Aki Okui. Feels like a dramatic piece during medieval times with a hint (okay, maybe the entire lyrics are) of sadness since it’s like Yuuko singing about her grief how lonely she is, how she cannot touch no matter how close and the tears of hers that won’t dry. That’s why the little things given by her beloved, even a smile she holds it dear to her heart.

I wouldn’t want to go on dragging about this blog on supernatural stuff as my hair was standing on ends while typing this as I still can’t forget the horror. I know some may suggest for me to watch more horror movies to get ‘immune’ but for a chicken like me, I think I’ll stick to something safer, more fanservice and ecchi comedies it is for me! I can help think how funny it is when Teiichi touches Yuuko’s breast as proof of existence. Ghost or not, she’s still a girl. You may not get sexual harassment lawsuits but you might get haunted for the rest of your lives. Be a pervert at your own risk. So if you can really see dead people, would that be a curse or a blessing? What will happen if a ghost decides to lurk and haunt you knowing very well you know its existence? If it’s a pretty girl like Yuuko then I wouldn’t mind. Oh sh*t! What am I saying?! Please no, please no, please no… Unfortunately I don’t have such amnesia luxury like Yuuko to cut myself off with a different personality when I don’t want to remember something unpleasant. That’s why in order to make myself forget about some of this series’ horror moments, I need to lay off the horror genre for now and go watch more fanservice and ecchi comedies!

Code Geass VS Guilty Crown

November 3, 2012

A versus between two epic sci-fi animes, Code Geass and Guilty Crown. I might not be a fan of animes with mecha elements but I guess the plot and interesting characters were fascinating enough to keep me attracted. Both series are original anime productions, meaning that they are not based nor adapted from any manga. Maybe that’s why it was so epic seeing that there weren’t any previous print media to tell its tale and it also keeps the suspense and excitement altogether so fans and viewers don’t really know what’s coming.

The main hero
Code Geass: Lelouch Lamperouge, born Lelouch vi Britannia – a castaway prince of the Britannia throne.
Guilty Crown: Shu Ouma – a normal high school kid.

His sidekick heroine
Code Geass: C.C. (pronounced shi-tsu) – an immortal “witch”.
Guilty Crown: Inori Yuzuriha – lead singer of Egoist and a member of a secret resistance group.

His Power of Kings
Code Geass: Lelouch’s Geass bends his prey into absolute obedience and will carry out the task unquestioned but limited to his/her abilities.
Guilty Crown: Shu’s ability to draw out and use Voids, items or weapons within people’s heart via his right hand.

How he got this power
Code Geass: Bestowed upon by C.C.
Guilty Crown: While trying to protect the Void Genome he is carrying, in an attempt to save Inori, the cylinder accidentally got injected into him.

How to use this power
Code Geass: Lelouch needs to directly look into the eyes of the person he is going to use his Geass on.
Guilty Crown: Shu needs to reach his hand into the chest of the person he is to draw his/her Void from while making that person think he/she is looking into his eyes.

Other users with such power
Code Geass: Mao – Geass ability to hear thoughts of others within 500 metre radius. Charles – to rewrite memories. Rolo – freezes time temporarily.
Guilty Crown: Later in the series when revived Gai and Yuu are able to use the Power of Kings.

Losing the power
Code Geass: Lelouch’s Geass went out of control in the sense that it will always be activated. This unfortunate event caused Euphemia to go on a massacre spree and as reluctant as he is, has no choice but to use this ill-fated event to his advantage.
Guilty Crown: When Gai returns, he cuts off Shu’s arm!

Japan’s setting
Code Geass: The world is currently divided into 3 super powers and Japan is now under the rule of the Holy Britannia Empire and renamed Area 11.
Guilty Crown: An unknown virus called Apocalypse Virus rages throughout Japan and plunges the country into chaos.

Who rules Japan
Japan somehow can’t rule itself…
Code Geass: Holy Britannia Empire.
Guilty Crown: GHQ.

Japan’s leader
Code Geass: Initially Charles zi Britannia. After his death, Lelouch takes over.
Guilty Crown: Initially Major General Yan. After his assassination, Shuichirou Keido becomes the newly inaugurated president of Japan.

Resistance force
You need a group to free Japan from the clutches of ruthless authority, right?
Code Geass: Black Knights.
Guilty Crown: Funeral Parlours.

Leader of the resistance force
Code Geass: Zero – Lelouch’s alter ego underneath a cool helmet and cape.
Guilty Crown: Gai Tsutsugami – the handsome long hair blonde.

Resistance force members (selected)
Code Geass: Kallen Stadtfield, Kaname Ougi, Kyoushirou Todou, Shinichirou Tamaki, Nagisa Chiba, Shougo Asahina, Kosetsu Urabe, Ryoga Senba, Rakshata Chawla and Diethard Reid.
Guilty Crown: Shibungi, Ayase Shinomiya, Tsugumi, Argo Tsukishima, Oogumo and Kenji Kido.

Ruthless antagonist
Code Geass: Schneizel el Britannia.
Guilty Crown: Makoto Waltz Segai.

First death
For a minor supporting character, that is.
Code Geass: Clovis la Britannia in episode 3. C.C.’s death in the first episode didn’t count since she was resurrected later.
Guilty Crown: Major Guin in episode 2.

The school our heroes go to.
Code Geass: Ashford Academy.
Guilty Crown: Tennozu High School.

School mates or classmates.
Code Geass: Suzaku Kururugi, Rivalz Cardemonde, Milly Ashford and Shirley Fenette.
Guilty Crown: Yahiro Samukawa, Souta Tamadate, Arisa Kuhouin, Hare Menjou and Kanon Kusama.

School cultural festival
Code Geass: In episode 21, Ashford holds their annual school festival.
Guilty Crown: In episode 13, Souta suggests to hold one to lift the gloom.

Dead friend
Why do cute girls have to die? Despite being minor characters and harbour a secret crush on our hero…
Code Geass: Shirley.
Guilty Crown: Hare.

Girl turned ‘bad’
Code Geass: Nina Einstein.
Guilty Crown: Arisa.

Wheelchair girl
Code Geass: Nunnally.
Guilty Crown: Ayase.

Back from the dead
Code Geass: Jeremiah Gottwald.
Guilty Crown: Gai.

Dead brother
Code Geass: Rolo – an assassin posing as Lelouch’s fake brother. Died when he uses his Geass (that overtaxes his heart each time he uses) to allow Lelouch to escape.
Guilty Crown: Jun – Yahiro’s little brother who has been affected by Stage IV of the Apocalypse Virus. Died when Shu severs his life line to save him from being consumed by hatred to kill his brother.

Hero’s sister
Code Geass: Nunnally.
Guilty Crown: Mana.

Hero’s parents
Code Geass: Charles and Marianne.
Guilty Crown: Kurosu and Haruka (Saeko Shijou is Shu’s biological mother).

Code Geass: Diethard.
Guilty Crown: Yahiro.

Coup d’etat
Code Geass: The political marriage between Tianzi and Odysseus was interrupted when Li Xingke and Black Knights staged a rebellion to place her back in control of the Federation.
Guilty Crown: Keido initiates coup d’etat to overthrow Yan by unleashing another outbreak of Apocalypse Virus all over Tokyo. Later, Arisa starts a coup d’etat with other students to overthrow Shu’s tyranny.

Mysterious kid
Code Geass: V.V. (pronounced bui-tsu).
Guilty Crown: Yuu AKA Daath Gravekeeper.

Code Geass: Nunnally was kidnapped by V.V. to Kaminejima. When Lelouch becomes Emperor, he kidnaps Tianzi and other UFN delegates as political hostages in his war against Schneizel.
Guilty Crown: Inori was kidnapped by Gai and Yuu while protecting Shu.

The blind
Code Geass: Nunnally is blinded due to a trauma after witnessing her mother’s assassination.
Guilty Crown: When Shu absorbs everyone’s Void to save the day, Inori sacrifices herself to save him but the results meant Shu is blinded.

No memories
Code Geass: When Lelouch was captured by Suzaku and brought to Charles, he removes his knowledge that has anything to do with his alter-ego, sister and royal heritage. Viletta Nu was left for dead but saved by Ougi. Though she survived, she lost her memories as a subordinate of Jeremiah till much later subsequently in the series she regains them.
Guilty Crown: Whenever Shu draws out one’s Void, that person will lose memories of the time surrounding the event.

Basic mecha models
Code Geass: Knightmare Frames.
Guilty Crown: Endlaves.

Featured mecha
Code Geass: Lancelot and Shinkirou (note that there are many other Knightmare Frame models).
Guilty Crown: Steiner and Gespenst.

Cute mascot?
Code Geass: Arthur the white stray cat found by Euphemia which eventually become an adopted pet at Ashford’s student council room.
Guilty Crown: Funell the little ‘rice cooker’ robot and guardian of Inori.

Code Geass: Rakshata, Lloyd Asplund and Cecile Croomy.
Guilty Crown: Haruka and Keidou.

Freaking powerful firepower
Code Geass: FLEIJA cannon.
Guilty Crown: Leukocyte, an orbital satellite laser.

Chinese connection
Code Geass: The other super power, Chinese Federation. Li Xingke the military officer, Tianzi the Empress of the Federation and the High Eunuchs that holds the true power.
Guilty Crown: The Ming Hua Group is a conglomerate from Shanghai. Its leader is in love with Arisa.

Being cruel to be kind
Code Geass: When Lelouch ascends the throne as Emperor, though he made great reforms, he also became a tyrant and ruled with an iron fist for his Zero Requiem plan requires everyone to concentrate their hatred on him to make past tyrannies forgotten.
Guilty Crown: After a death of a friend, Shu realizes that being kind is wrong and needs to separate the good from the bad. He becomes a tyrant, playing king among his little school community, ranking them based on their Void’s level to keep the order.

Tokyo decimated
The city is meant to be destroyed…
Code Geass: First the rebellion against Britannia Empire with Zero collapsing Tokyo and in the second season, the Black Knights launch their assault after cutting out power.
Guilty Crown: After the second Lost Christmas incident, Tokyo is reduced to a pile of rubble and the area sealed off.

In the end
Code Geass: Lelouch dies, C.C. lives.
Guilty Crown: Inori dies, Shu lives.

Product placement
Code Geass: Pizza Hut – the entire series is filled with this brand and is C.C.’s favourite food.
Guilty Crown: Dr Ginger – parody of the Dr Pepper drink but the brand is not obvious throughout the series.

Number of episodes
Code Geass: 25 episodes for the first episode and an additional 25 episodes for the second season. There are numerous OVAs released later and the latest ones being Nunnally In Wonderland and Akito In Exiled.
Guilty Crown: 22 episodes.

Year of Production
Code Geass: 2006 (first season) and 2008 (second season).
Guilty Crown: 2011.

Production Studio
Code Geass: Sunrise.
Guilty Crown: Production I.G.

Maybe (definitely!) I’m missing out a lot of other things so it’s a tough one to call which is better. Since I have seen Guilty Crown more recently, my memories of the show is still fresher as compared to Code Geass. However the ending of the former was quite unsatisfactory as compared to the latter albeit both series are of a tragedy theme. Because Code Geass has more episodes, more characters and more popular, I guess it has more flexibility and time in churning out the character development, twists and turns in making the storyline more interesting as compared to Guilty Crown. Both the main heroes with the powers they have (despite having differing personalities) tried to change the world for the better while pursuing the same dream. It isn’t smooth sailing as they have to endure heartbreaks, pain, suffering and deal with tragic consequences through trial and error. So you see, how mankind could turn the world upside down with chaos and while nobody is right or wrong in a war, it is the ordinary folks that suffer the most when nations clash. Dealing with the gruesome reality of war, both series also throw to us death of certain characters, whether we expected it or not. A grim reminder that no one is practically safe. As the saying goes, there will be no progress or achievement without struggle or sacrifice. Peace had better be worth it after all those bloodshed.



November 2, 2012

Hold on a minute. Guns personified as middle school girls? Just like those with fetish for babes and bikes, Upotte has girls and guns. Yeah, fire straight right into your heart, eh? So I thought the girls here were just being ‘brainwashed’ to think that they are a certain rifle model but nope. I guess they really are guns being personified as girls. Just like how they personified countries in Hetalia: Axis Powers, eh? By mixing guns and middle school girls, you can expect some gun totting action as well as some antics that middle school girls go through. Thus I conclude that if you are a hetero gun freak otaku, this is your paradise anime. Albeit this ONA (original net animation) only lasts for 10 episodes. A little too short? Well, how many rounds do you want it to last? Just sit back and watch the lock and load, baby. Bang! Bang!

Episode 1
Funko, Ichiroku, Eru and Shigu go see Fujiko who is planting a bed of flowers. She is disappointed in planting those she can’t eat. And just when she planted the Japanese edible chrysanthemums, it was bloody bitter. She lets them know due to some error (like hell she knows) a new teacher will be coming to your section. Genkoku (literally means Japanese teacher. That’s what we’ll call him) is lost finding his way to Seishou Academy and stumbles into a festival. A pair of young siblings at the shooting gallery felt cheated because the stall keeper tells them they have to knock it over the stand to win it instead of hitting it. Funko decides to help out and in a single shot, the prize fell off. However the stall keeper says it doesn’t count because she’s a pro from Seishou. Then Genkoku tries his hands claiming he’s just an amateur. The way he holds the rifle, Funko knows he’s not an ordinary person. Like as though he’s taking a stance for firing an assault rifle. Is this love at first sight? Is she going to climax?! But once Genkoku fires, the shot ricochets and hits her head. All the shots! That bad, huh? Genkoku notices her uniform and has her guide the way to Seishou. Mentioning about what he heard that they’re pro shooters, Funko says they are guns. She is an assault rifle. Say what? I guess it was unbelievable to believe coming from her mouth and since the wind is blowing up her skirt, all he remembered was her thongs. Back home, Funko can’t really get Genkoku out of her mind. Genkoku meets the Principal and is shown around. He brings him to the field to let him witness their daily morning practice. He notices the walls riddled with bullet holes and warning posters pertaining to guns. At the firing range, he sees the girls firing assault rifles! This is morning practice? Principal says the girls are assault rifles. So… Guns firing guns? Funko turns up late and since Genkoku barely remembers her name, he greets her as the girl with thongs. I can’t believe in a noisy shooting range, everybody could hear that and the gun sounds instantly died out! Funko got so embarrassed that she rapidly fires at him! Though all the shots narrowly missed him, the holes in the wall means the building collapses over him! So as Principal tells the class their new homeroom teacher will be out for a while. And Funko doesn’t feel it’s her fault! She asserts it’s not thongs but skeleton stock.

Jiisuri and Ichiyon talk to Faaru, Funko’s older sister about how she put the homeroom teacher in hospital on his first day. Yeah, unbelievable. As Genkoku recuperates in hospital, Principal gives him a book on how to understand ‘guns’. In case of emergency, he could also know how to apply first aid on them. As far as I understand, each part of the gun is associated to some body part of the girl. You’re interested to know where the butt and boobs are, aren’t you? Be careful when you touch certain parts or you’ll get ‘burnt’ ;p. It’s been a week and Genkoku is still in hospital so the girls get an idea to go visit him but Funko isn’t so thrilled. Shigu suggests recording themselves via camera as introduction. So we learn a little more about the girls. Like Funko is Belgian and her gun code name is FNC. Shigu from Switzerland, code name SIG SG550. Ichiroku is American and her official designation is M16A4 while Eru AKA L85A1 hails from England. Since Funko still disagrees in visiting him, she leaves. However she sees him smoking outside. First thing when he saw her, all the traumatic memories came flooding back! Don’t worry, she won’t shoot him this time. So they talk things out as he catches her unaware by petting her head. She’s going to climax again? She thought he was being concerned for a girl to have her lower parts get cold when he says it’s a pity the school rules has all the girls wearing thongs. Oh. It’s that word again. So embarrassed that Funko takes out her gun and fires away!!! Not again! Woah! Destructive! And so Principal has to once again inform Genkoku will be out longer than expected. Oh, Funko is suspended for 3 days. Still think it’s not your fault? You just got mad? But you nearly killed him, right?

Episode 2
In a test to shoot a silhouette target 500 metres away, seems Shigu is the only one doing well in the long range department. Since Switzerland is full of mountains, the closest target is a mountain away! The trio thought they could slack off and the instructor, Garland wouldn’t know the difference. On the contrary he did and got chastised. Not that I understand but Shigu uses different rounds than them. So the test results are out and you can say Funko, Ichiroku and Eru are way down the other half of the table as compared to Shigu. Because of that they’ll be having remedial classes. Till Faaru and Ichiyon show up to tell them they’ll keep taking them till they score 100 on all their make-up tests! Did Ichiroku admit defeat when she says they’ll never be able to do it even in 300 years?! But if they beat them, they’ll be exempt from all their remedial classes. What have they got to lose? The school will be turned into a big battlefield after school. To win, they must steal their flag but if they all ‘die’ (the balloons on their head indicates their life so if it’s popped, they’re out), it’s the remedial classes for them. But back in class, seems Genkoku is well enough to return teaching. He doesn’t develop fear of guns but somewhat hates them! He throws away all the ammunitions when he enters class! Is this Funko’s fault? Anyway the game beings after school as Funko, Ichiroku and Eru make their way to Faaru and Ichiyon’s camp. Hiding in the woods and devising a simple plan, first they need to be careful to not let the branch pop their balloon. Pop! Oh God. Eru’s already out! Ichiroku nearly got taken out by Ichiyon’s sniping so Ichiroku rushes to the building to close the distance. As explained, Ichiroku’s gun utilizes her burst mode. It’s a technique to fire 3 shots consecutively instead of full auto mode to prevent wastage of bullets. Also explained is the type of ammunition you use that will classify a student’s class in Seishou. The more powerful and those with better range will be in high school. Though the bullets they carry are more powerful, there is more recoil and thus harder to control when in full auto mode. For those with not so powerful bullets, they are light, easier to control and are allowed to carry more rounds. However due to air resistance, energy is lost and the bullet becomes weak. Thus their range is very limited. So this battle is the one who can get an advantage out of their range.

Funko tests by touching a door and true enough Faaru behind it starts firing warning shots. She goes round the wall but unknown to her, Jiisuri is aiming to take her out from the top. Before she could do it, she drops her plan and dodges a sniper shot. Looks like it is from Shigu and she has decided to join in last minute. Jiisuri ditches her team’s plan so that she could engage in a sniping battle with Shigu. Funko thought she had found the enemy’s flag but the room is filled with boys changing clothes! Embarrassed, Funko runs away. Faaru laughs as she notes that the flag is not in the room and is moving. Make a guess. Yup, Faaru is the flag. Ichiroku and Ichiyon face off and the latter thinks it’s her victory because Ichiroku is hiding underneath a tree filled with sharp chestnuts! It could go pop any time. Ichiyon starts firing at the tree to drop the chestnuts. Because Ichiroku doesn’t want to lose to her (especially her bad puns), she uses the butt of her rifle as a baseball bat and accurately pops Ichiyon’s balloon with the chestnut! But it’s double KO when the falling chestnuts also pop hers. Faaru learns about this and tells Jiisuri all she needs to do is keep Shigu company. Faaru and Funko face off and only a fountain between them. Funko thought she had the advantage since she closed the distance. However the water causes her light bullets to go off trajectory. And she can’t get out since Faaru won’t let her leave her hiding spot. So what is she going to do? Funko places her gun through the fountain and fires! Almost hit Faaru but she grabs her gun, pulls her out and pops her balloon. She praises Funko for grazing her balloon and to not forget that feeling of never giving up. The match between the snipers ends with a draw. In the end, the gang manages to escape remedial class. Except for Eru who got an earful from Garland. It is learnt that this battle was their remedial class to see how good they are. Seems Faaru and her friends tried talking to the teachers to get them out of remedial class in exchange for this. Faaru notes they have talent but just aren’t motivated. Asking about Jiisuri of her match with Shigu, she mentions it was good to a point that she needs to use her secret technique to keep the recoil down. It’s too embarrassing for her to explain but since Ichiyon insists, she demonstrates. First take off your socks, sit on the ground, then place the rifle between your legs and view the telescopic sight through your knees. Oh sh*t! Embarrassing indeed! Almost looked like a hentai position!

Episode 3
What’s this?! We begin with Funko and friends (including Ichihachi AKA AR18) washing themselves?! Guns cleaning themselves?! Ichiroku starts rubbing Funko here and there with the excuse she is ‘good with her hands’. Shigu couldn’t stand it and stops her. Genkoku trips on an empty bullet in the hallway and gets pissed off. Since the culprit is Ichiroku flaunting the rules once more, she gets a knock on her head and innocent Eru also got hit. Funko thought she should cheer him up seeing he is in a bad mood. But he pats her head and makes her feel all soft. Because he needs to attend a meeting and is not familiar with the place in school, Funko guides him. Along the way, they meet Faaru and her friends as they try to explain the meaning of their alpha-numeric meaning gun names. I’m not sure if they know or just guessing. They see Shigu demonstrating shooting off all the heads of the target with a rifle in a straight line! Seems she is using the rifle as a samurai sword and calculating the speed, centrifugal force and recoil nullification, she makes it look like she’s swinging a sword when pulling the trigger. So what is this for? To draw things on enemy’s ground. Huh? Eru still got a bump on her head and thinks she should sit in the sun to relax. Till she heard passing girls mentioning ultra violet rays degrades plastic parts. Then Ichiroku and Genkoku come by to tell her she’s been cleared of the misunderstanding as he apologizes for hitting her. Eru got so mad and had lots of things she really wants to say to him at the top of her voice. If she could only get those words out of her head. Genkoku will treat her to a drink and instantly she forgives and loves him! WTF?!

Funko and co meet Thompson sensei because they’ll be accompanying several elementary kids to go pick up trash. They notice among the kids, Gossan who is too big to be an elementary kid (something about her using different bullets and a small body even though is fully automatic), talkative Emten suddenly stopping dead in her tracks because she ran out of ‘bullets’ (she can fire 1090 bullets a minute!) and Empi who is Jiisuri’s little sister but the girls call her other names like mini Jiisuri and cutie instead of her real name. However the star of the group that the kids wanted to see so much, Ichiroku isn’t here because she wants to slack off. Funko tries to calm them and introduce Eru instead but the kids are grumbling. Then a kid asks why Eru is still being used by the British army despite her gun always breaking down. Now we have a short history of Eru’s L85A1. Something about the British first discovered the advantage of having shorter bullets coupled with lower calibre rifles will be the weapon of choice. They start researching on bullpup rifles but due to lack of resources and politics, other nations created better guns and the Americans ignored and made their NATO standard. Soon other nations overtook the British but they never gave up and finally came out with L85. However this gun had lots of defects. It jams frequently and magazines could even drop out. Though there were several improved models, the basic problems still remained. Even as of today, the British continue to use the gun simply because of their stubbornness. Guess what? The elementary kids got so touched and emotional by her pitiful story and felt sorry! At the end of the clean up, Funko and the rest as usual bath and clean themselves but she notices Ichiroku who didn’t participate in the clean up, cleaning herself more thoroughly than others.

Episode 4
Ichiroku is doing a photo shoot for a magazine cover. Ichihachi explains that she and Ichiroku are related but it’s her family that fell from grace when Ichiroku became the official American rifle. Shigu cheekily says she thought Ichiroku was popular because she’s cheap! While Funko and friends have lunch, Shigu wonders if Funko wants to do a model shoot too. I guess she does. Shigu demonstrates on how to introduce herself (sexy maiden in snow clothes “I’ll pierce your heart from 500 metres away. Bang!”). So Funko starts hers by explaining her origins from Belgium. Not that she could beat Shigu anyway. But the person they’re concern with is Eru. Yeah, she’s panicking and narrating that history of hers again. Since they mock her not being useful, Eru is going to pull her trigger on them but as we know how defective her model is. Her hand snaps. Ichiroku returns from her shoot but blows her top when Eru didn’t keep her end of the bargain when she failed to take important notes that will be in the test. Shigu and Funko offer theirs but she can’t read German or Dutch. She is so pissed off with Eru that she calls her a dud. This hurt Eru’s feeling as she runs away. There is a tournament coming up so Funko accompanies Ichiroku to the ammunition shop run by Curly (he’s got an afro. Don’t ask) to get dot sight optical device. Then comes in Israeli’s Galil AR and Sako RK95. These newly transferred students have a bone to pick with Ichiroku and will also take part in the tournament. The duo can’t make their move since they realize Shigu is targeting them from behind. However Sako couldn’t tell if she’s bluffing or not with the seemingly empty chamber bullet but decides to back off since she knows her skills are not to be messed with. Curly mentions that there is history between Ichiroku and Galil and it dates back to the war between the Americans and Soviets whereby M16 was created due to its lighter calibre even though one needs to clean it frequently and avoid mixing the wrong powder. However it was withdrawn in 1969 since it was unable to bring victory to the Americans in the Vietnam War. Funko gets a call from Faaru and seems she has picked Eru up and will be living at her place for the time being. Faaru tells her to do what she thinks is the best. Funko realizes she loves Ichiroku and Eru equally and doesn’t want them to fight. Come tournament day and it seems the battlefield will be a jungle rainforest, the reason why Sako and Galil were acting confident. However Ichiroku’s relationship with Eru is still strained and the latter didn’t show up but Ichiroku couldn’t care and will win it on her own. Shigu peddles all the way to pick Eru up on her bicycle. The tournament of 2-to-a-team begins as Ichihachi hopes Funko not to worry too much and to concentrate on the battle. The match gets underway and despite just being a one (wo)man show, Ichiroku manages to trick her opponent and advance to the next round. Oh, Shigu and Eru are still pushing their bikes through the thick swamp. How the heck did they end up here?

Episode 5
During the break, Funko tries to talk to Ichiroku but she’s serious in getting through the next round. Funko fears if Eru arrives she won’t be much help because as far as she could remember, she never makes it in every match as she always breaks. Ichiroku accidentally ate spicy chicken nuggets Funko made but no serious damage was done. Ichiroku’s next opponents are Australia’s Steyr Aug and Taiwan’s Tei AKA T91. They are supposedly improved versions of Ichiroku but she asserts they are just copycats. The first semi-finals take place in a jungle village. The enemy’s flag is hidden behind a thick tree so one needs to enter enemy’s territory to get it. Aug and Tei make their aggressive advance since they now Ichiroku is alone. She is trapped behind her true and wishes Eru was here. But then again, thinking back how much that dud often breaks down, she’d be more trouble than help. Ichiroku fights back but her gun suddenly jams. Then she remembers the chicken nuggets. Though M16 guns require thorough cleaning, bad mix or poor powder quality can cause such problems. But this doesn’t deter her as she’s going to show how she fights back. Aug and Tei give the signal to attack simultaneously when Ichiroku suddenly jumps out and pumps bullets into them! As explained, she did fanning. It’s like you see in old Western cowboy flicks how gunslingers shoot and reload rapidly with their pistol. Only thing is Ichiroku is doing it with her rifle. With that, she advances to the finals. Meanwhile Shigu and Eru are still lost in the swamp. Eru is about to give up but Shigu must bring her there. Eru says she’ll be useless and hates Ichiroku. Really? Yes. Really, really? Uh huh. Truly really for real? No. There you go.

The second semi-final match pits Funko-Ichihachi and Sako-Galil and there will be a giant lake and only a bridge in between. Funko and Ichihachi plan their move so as Ichihachi takes the bridge, Funko flanks on the side of the lake but comes straight into Sako’s resistance and hides behind a tree. Wondering where Galil is, suddenly Ichihachi is taken down. Galil snipes her from the far side of the lake. In a panic, Funko tries to shoot back but the bridge is in the way. Then she gets an idea and fires on the surface of the water. The bullets ricochet and hit Galil! Awesome! Sako is so thrilled with what she saw that she’s going to come (was she masturbating?!). She continues firing at Funko when the latter notices some metal fragments. Suddenly little fragments hit and blind her right eye! Sako pins her down and explains about fragmentation. She purposely used low quality bullets to scrape the trees and shatter them to fragments. Funko is in no position to fight with her eye in this condition as Sako brags now she can bring down Ichiroku. Funko still believes and cares in her friends when Sako shoots her, ending and winning the match. However Sako continues to coldly fire repeatedly into Funko feigning she didn’t hear the end signal from her gunshots. Ichihachi is willing to risk penalty to fire back (because she’s already ‘dead’) when Galil jumps out of the water like a zombie to attack! However she is shot away and subsequently Sako takes several bullets herself from the sniper. She only knows one person who can effectively snipe from such a distance. And yes, it’s Shigu using Jiisuri’s embarrassing tactic. The match is over and Galil become good friends with Ichihachi. Funko is being treated and though dented in some parts, she’s okay. Ichiroku is still arrogant she doesn’t need a partner but Shigu tells her off who knows what tricks Sako may have. It’s better for her to have at least have someone on her side. She warns if Sako wins, this won’t just be someone’s problem anymore as it is believed Sako wants to control Seishou. Eru joins Ichiroku in the final match in the swamplands against Sako and Galil. Ichiroku continues to mock Eru over her durability. The other girls are watching from the high tower as Funko is puzzled to see Sako seemingly knowing Ichiroku and Eru’s plan. Then she realizes the girls next to her are spies for Sako as they were pointing her friends’ location. Shigu tells them off but it seems Sako isn’t aiming for her opponents. She won’t forget when one humiliates her and fires at Shigu’s head! OMG!!!

Episode 6
Eru is so mad that she starts firing at where she thinks Sako is. She has already moved her position and fires at her. Though she missed, it made Eru tripped and got herself all muddy. Now she can’t fire her gun. Because if she does, the barrel will explode and kill herself. Sako mocks this useless piece of junk and beats her up in the mud. So much so that she doesn’t even take her out as she knows she can’t fire back. Poor Eru is left to cry alone. Meanwhile Shigu is very much alive. It’s just her hair is messed up. She’s never going to forgive that b*tch. Ichiroku faces off with Galil and remembers Shigu’s words how Sako transferred schools to subjugate its leaders and she thinks Ichiroku is Seishou’s leader. Ichiroku thinks something has happened to Eru since she is also now facing off with Sako. But there is no official announcement that Eru is out yet so where is that girl? Ichiroku thinks the duo are trying to corner her so she charges forward. That’s what Sako wants her to think as she’s waiting for her there and fires at her. Though missed, Ichiroku’s gun barrel is now stuck in the mud. Sako mocks her and proclaims the weak leader she is to everyone. However Ichiroku brushes off her theory and that she is no leader and just a dud like Eru. M16 had its history of defectiveness. But with improvements, it slowly gained the soldiers’ trust once more. In short, if Ichiroku doesn’t try, she’s not going anywhere. She’s not going to give up. Then popping up behind Sako is Eru. But Sako is confident she can’t fire and fires her gun at Eru without even looking back. Safe to say she got hit. Sako is taken by surprise when Ichiroku pulls her gun out of the mud and her barrel was covered in plastic. This means it’s still operational! Ichiroku fires back but barely misses Sako so Sako shoots and takes her down. Thinking she has attained victory, the announcer declares Ichiroku’s team the winner. It seems Ichiroku’s single shot had taken out Sako’s flag. How did it get here? Eru brought it here despite being heavy. Regret not taking her out? Even if she can’t fire, at least she didn’t give up. Ichiroku saw this and knew she just had to wait for her chance to shoot it. Sako is not amused and is going to shoot Ichiroku but gets her pigtails shot off. Shigu warns the next one will not miss her ear.

Ichiroku and Eru make up as Funko tells Sako how they believed in each other. She still thinks Ichiroku is the leader even if she herself denies it. Sako admits defeat and will leave school. Oh, she needs to apologize to Funko. How? She kisses her lips! FFFUUUUUU!!! Her first kiss! Nobody saw that coming, eh? Looks like she is the only thing that Sako won’t give up on. But it does make Funko feel better. In the aftermath, Sako transferred out but Galil was left behind and is good friends with Ichihachi. And for some reason Funko can’t understand, Shigu is pouting and won’t speak to her. Let me guess. She likes her too, right? Looks like Aug too has developed some feelings for Funko. She is too embarrassed to talk to her face to face despite Tei encouraging her. She wants to get close to her and talk. Comparing herself similar to Eru as they’re both bullpups, how come that dud is closer to her? Why the different treatment? She laments how unlucky she is. I’m not sure if she’s joking or for real. Tei suggests if she can’t talk directly to her, maybe she can to her friends. First she tries Shigu who is at the firing range. Note the accuracy of her shots because she’s still annoyed with that kissing scene. So when Aug asks her about Funko, the firing just became intense. Let’s try someone else. Trying Ichihachi, however she is too preoccupied with Galil and the clumsy latter eventually spilled her drink all over everyone. Next they try Eru since they’re both bullpups and should understand better. However she’s broken again and absent. So all that’s left is Ichiroku but she’s being too aggressive in wanting to make them meet. Suddenly Funko in person shows up. Wish come true? But Aug froze up and her tongue tied. She overheats herself and collapses! Eru returns and makes scones for her friends. Aug observes this and notes how she wished she was a dud too. Tei then takes Aug’s hands and will teach her how to make scones.

Episode 7
On a freezing New Year’s Day, the girls are talking about Genkoku. Ichiroku wonders why a clueless person like him is at their school so Funko mentions about meeting him at the summer festival. She ponders if they ever thought of the person they’ll end up being held with. Probably Funko thought too much and nearly climaxed! They’re supposed to write New Year greeting cards for him and Funko is at a lost on what to write. Her buddies just wrote something short and sweet. “Let’s have another good year”. Too short. Funko and Shigu are playing outside in the snow as Shigu convinces Ichiroku to get out into the snow via snowball challenge. They’ll be fighting in teams and it seems when the snowball fight begins, it hit passing Genkoku. I don’t know how Ichiroku roped him to her side to make ammunitions but Eru has already long bailed out to go make giant snowballs. Ichiroku even used Genkoku as a shield with an excuse the teacher sacrificing himself to protect his student. In the end all those snowballs Eru had rolled, rolled down crashing into them. So the girls are huddling together underneath the warm kotatsu while lamenting how cold it’s really getting. Except for Shigu. How can she stand the cold? Remember, she’s from Switzerland and is made to fire in icy temperatures of minus 20 Celsius! Since she’s the only one who can move, she makes food for them and soon Ichihachi joins them. But Ichiroku wasn’t amused when she made a Belgian flag via pot using Belgian chocolate, cheese and tomatoes. I hope it tastes as good.

Genkoku gets sick (from taking in too many snowball hits) so Ichiroku decides that they visit him. It’s her devilish plan to kill time. However they realize they never know his real name. I think it’ll stay that way. Since they can’t go empty handed, they stop by the convenience store to buy stuffs. Broke Eru already bailed. Ichiroku messes around and picks up too much stuff. Shigu chances upon Jiisuri and leaves with her. This means Ichiroku is left to pay the big bulk of the items. Because of that, she’s thinking of getting back her ‘investment’. Read: Search of Genkoku’s porn magazines and blackmail him. Oh brother. Along the way they meet Professor the dog. Who? Not that I know it has anything to do academically but as explained, it was around ever since Seishou was founded. Like 30 years ago. Woah! How old is it? Professor then used some telepathy thingy to stall and play with Ichiroku so Funko could go see Genkoku. At his doorstep, Genkoku knows they’re coming because, well, Ichiroku is being noisy playing with Professor outside. Anyway they invite themselves in and air the stuffy place. Ichiroku starts searching and hits the pot of gold (read: Porn magazine) at first go. Then she goes rummage his place and from what we can hear, she made a big mess of things and they got kicked out. Back in their dorm, the girls read their New Year greeting cards. Yeah, Genkoku’s card to them is short and sweet. “Keep it up this year”. Too short. Deja vu, eh? Funko realizes she has not received one from him and panics. Ichiroku teases her that it may be because of that incident that she left her out. Funko storms out and to his place, wanting to give that teacher a piece of her mind. Sure, she may be wrong for shooting at him but such discrimination is wrong. Nobody answers the doorbell and the door is unlocked. Making her way in, she sees Genkoku sleeping on the table and halfway writing his greeting card to Funko. She felt bad and her heart was becoming soft when suddenly Genkoku yells in his sleep, “Don’t shoot me!”. Haha! I guess the trauma is still there. Funko cleans up the place and cooks for him. He thought guns like her are afraid of moisture but she mentions if they were, they wouldn’t be military standard. Funko gives him a little Santa doll as present since in Belgium, Belgians are still in the mood celebrating Christmas. And she cares for him as she believes it’ll be lonely for him to spend Christmas and New Year’s Day alone. Funko leaves so Genkoku hands her the card. At least his well wishes are longer. He hopes he would take care of her health since she wears a thong. Oh no. OH NO! Not that taboo word. Well… Lock and load! Fire away!!! NOT AGAIN!!! I think his apartment got decimated. And yeah, she got suspended again despite Genkoku jumped out the window himself. Whose fault?

Episode 8
Genkoku gets to witness firsthand the preparations of Seishou’s cultural festival. Military style. So it’s okay to go ramming down the walls with the tanks?! Thompson thinks it’s the spirit of the festival! Genkoku has his own fantasy on how his class will turn out with the maid cafe but it seems they’re a long way off from finishing. Speaking of which, the girls are at Curly’s booth as he is setting up sales of rare items. It’s too tempting for Ichiroku to resist so how can she buy them all with limited funds? Use the war funds! Isn’t that supposed to be reserved for items for their class? If Genkoku hadn’t been there to reprimand them, I guess she would’ve blown it all. Heading back to the classroom, Genkoku is surprised there is a camel farm! The room is filled with sand and Galil brought in a camel from Israel! Was the room this big? Heck no! Galil wrecked down the walls! Oh, the realism of the heat must be getting to Genkoku’s head too. Genkoku sees a class exhibiting some camouflage device. He didn’t count on one that could see through clothes! He thought he saw the undies of a girl when that ‘girl’ is the Principal. Messed with your visions too, eh? Genkoku is disheartened that the maid cafe isn’t anywhere near its completion on how it looks like (no, not a jungle theme or art exhibit) but the girls have him and Thompson do food tasting on their menu. This pineapple dish…  Looks like a real grenade! Thank God it’s not. Then they throw a dart at the spinning board to determine the kind of food they get. While Thompson gets nice beef steak, Genkoku got military rations. But wait! Don’t be too quick to judge. In fact, it tastes good! Tei shows off Aug in their maid outfit. This is so that Aug can get into Funko’s good books. However Aug got embarrassed and is close to experiencing another overheating. Ichiroku flaunts the design combo between a maid and army uniform. Even the underwear is the same design so it’ll be harder to spot! Funko and Eru dressed as traditional maids but Eru wins simply because of her bigger boobs…

The festival seems to feel like a battlefield because Genkoku gets another shock seeing Garland as a pirate-in-the-box! I guess any students with grudges on him can take their frustrations out by stabbing him! So when Genkoku returns to the other teachers wondering what kind of festival this is, they mention everyone’s doing great as this year’s casualty has been very few. Oh sh*t! The maid cafe is completed as Funko and friends celebrate with Faaru and hers. Because Ichiyon makes another lame joke, Ichiroku isn’t amused and both sisters start pointing their rifles at each other. War could’ve erupted if Funko and Faaru didn’t step in. Learning Faaru’s class is doing a haunted house and that their make-up as zombies is so freaking scary, Ichiroku thinks she’ll get to shoot them. That’s what you do with zombies in video games, right? Or maybe she just wants to shoot Ichiyon as much as she wants. I guess that’s the last straw. Both sisters start shooting each other. So much so the place is decimated. How now? Surprisingly Genkoku didn’t blow his top. Instead, he tells them there is still time and he believes in them that they can pull this one off! After getting permission to stay overnight, Genkoku delegates the jobs to everyone and they work hard. Maybe they can really pull this one off in time. With the sign left to go, Genkoku ropes in Aug to do them by spraying her bullets. However she sprayed “Funko love for life!” and has to redo it again. And so the miracle happened and everyone makes it in time to enjoy the festival.

Episode 9
It’s the practice field trip for the middle school girls. As usual Genkoku lays down the usual rules of the trip but since the first day is free day, Fujiko rallies the girls to have fun as today will be the longest day! For fanservice obligations, you get your gun girls in bikinis and Shigu meets Jiisuri’s younger sister in middle school, HK33E. You can tell they both don’t like each other. Since Shigu mocks her by calling her Chuusuri, HK threatens to make her regret it and fires a warning shot. Unfortunately it made a hole in the book Shigu is reading and since that is school’s property, wow, look how many times she apologized to the teacher. Unknown to them all, a group of masked girls are watching them from afar. Funko and friends take the cable car up the mountain to sightsee before regrouping with the rest. Then it’s the hotsprings and since Shigu is making a lot noise fondling Funko, HK didn’t really like it and is going to blow a hole in her till Ichihachi settles things. She convinces everyone to get a drink from this green tea from mugs made out of real squids because legend has it that they’ll get good grades for their practice. On the way back to the room, Ichiroku sees Galil on the phone and teases her she’s talking to her boyfriend. That night, Ichihachi, Galil and HK manage to give Fujiko the slip to sneak out to get those mugs. However all of them were gunned down by snipers! Genkoku went to search for them and is shocked to see all 3 out. They are taken home to be repaired and though the wounds won’t kill them, it hit their vital points. Fujiko notes this is going to be troublesome because the bullets do not come from their school and that they are pretty good shooters since a single bullet could’ve inflicted a fatal wound. Funko heard that Ichihachi and co got shot so she rushed out to that spot. Ichiroku and Shigu must be having fun untying Eru’s robe when Ichiroku receives a call from Ichihachi about their attack. Though she doesn’t know who attacked them, she knows this: She was only shot once but the rest 3 times. A minus 2 difference. Ichiroku immediately realized she is their target and declaring war on her because 8 (hachi) minus 2 is six (roku).

Genkoku tries to stop Funko but she wants him to return as he is human unlike them who are guns. Suddenly somebody takes a shot at them but missed. Taking refuge, Funko deduces one is sniping from far away but will be able to see her location from the muzzle flash since it’s dark. Then another shot is fired but this time it’s from the ocean. Noting this one is on a boat and must be one very good sniper to shoot straight while rocking with the waves. The sniper in the woods snipe at Funko but Genkoku saves her by pushing her away. He hurt his leg in the process. That sniper backs off when Shigu snipes back at her location. Ichiroku and co reunite with Funko when they see a little doll next to them. It leaves a message to those guns that have lost their true form. At midnight, they will commence their attack and this entire city will turn into a battlefield. Ichiroku thinks it’s those from the east and wants them to bring them on. Shortly, several simultaneous explosions rock the place and the electricity out. Genkoku doesn’t want them to get involved but they can’t sit back knowing that the enemy has hurt their friends. Meanwhile the masked girls won’t kill those western counterparts as they know they will try to save the wounded and this will keep them busy.

Episode 10
The battle begins as Funko and co try to follow and rein in a couple of their escaping enemies. Though they got away, they know it’s their plan to lure them in and fight at the shopping district. They split into groups and will flank them from both sides. Ichiroku and Shigu meet resistance from an enemy using shotgun with magazines. A powerful gun they know as Saiga. Meanwhile Eru’s magazine holder breaks and she’s almost like a sitting duck. She could’ve been done for if Funko had not been fast enough to cover her. But they have a plan too. The enemy thinks Eru is making fun of her when she tries facing her off without any magazines. Leading her to a blind corner, Eru surprises the enemy when she sits down and uses her knees to hold the magazine and lands a clean shot on her. Ichiroku and Shigu are trapped from both sides. However the enemies from one side suddenly fall. It is Sako joining in. She has heard things from Galil (that ‘boyfriend’ telephone call) because she could smell scents of AK around. Sako also knew something was happening that’s why she left Galil behind but didn’t think they’d make a big event out of it. She lets them know they are not after anything but just looking for a good fight. Shigu thought she heard Funko in trouble and rushes off on her on and leaving the rest to handle things. However it’s just a trap to get the brain out of the way as they trap her in a freezer. Funko makes her way to the shopping district and knows the enemy is expecting her. Instead of walking straight in, she climbs onto the frosted glass roof and counts 5 of them waiting. She surprises them by taking out 4 of them. The fifth one fires through the roof and sends her crashing down and they engage in close range battle. However the AK leader tells her to stop and orders her to meet up with Saiga to fight Ichiroku. Meanwhile Eru makes her way to the freezer. She also pulls off a surprise move to knock out the enemy and malfunction the freezer door. Shigu is freed and takes out the last guard before heading off to Funko’s location.

Funko faces off with AK leader and the latter didn’t like the look in her eyes. To ‘improve’ it, she fires at Eru who is coming from behind. Then setting off several explosives to destroy the place. Funko gets mad and this is the look she has been waiting for. As they fire away, Genkoku gets in between them and got shot. He knows better, right? But something mindboggling happened. His blood absorbs back into his body?! WTF?! As explained as long as he’s not shot by another human, he won’t die from their bullets. Huh? WTF?! AK leader isn’t happy about this crap and fires several shots into Genkoku. Funko is really mad. AK leader loves that look and dares her to finish her off. She was going to but Genkoku stops her. He wants them to stop this game. AK leader chides him off if he has the right to tell them to do so since humans are the ones who made them. But even so, they won’t change the way they live because humans wished for this. With both sides reuniting, AK leader mentions their paradise will come and to retreat for now. In the aftermath, Funko and friends show serious focus and commitment in gun practice as Principal and Garland note how they’ve changed since that incident. They have felt what is most important for them guns and have matured a little. Thus Principal thinks his effort to bring Genkoku here has hugely paid off. So back in class, Genkoku takes a roll call and reminds them about their high school entrance exam soon. However Funko says they don’t have anything like that because they’re assault rifles and can’t turn into battle rifles. No chance for upgrade?

Just a filler… No fun shooting galore. But fanservice galore! You get to see tits in some scenes. Guns with tits? Anyway this OVA is mainly about the quartet taking a holiday by camping by a riverbed. We see Ichiroku challenging the rest to throwing stones on the water but the rest outdo her. Knowing that she is sulking, Eru cheers her up by asking her to teach her how to throw it. While the rest fish, Ichiroku got fed up of trying to catch and corner one with her hands so she uses her rifle! Oh sh*t! Be careful of deflections by the water. When a bait was too strong for Eru to reel it in and causes her to be pulled into the water, Ichiroku dives in but hits her head on the rocks. Don’t worry. She’s okay. And so is Eru. She caught the fish. After cooking the fish and eating it, Ichiroku wants to split the watermelon. Thinking that Eru the klutz will take too long and the skilful Shigu will be too fast and no fun, she hands it to Funko to do the honours. However Ichiroku messes with her by giving opposing directions and to a point lead her to the ‘watermelon’ which is Eru’s head! Good news no casualties were reported and everybody had their watermelon fill. Because Funko forgot to spit the seeds out, Shigu teases her that it will grow inside her. Funko believes she’ll give birth to a watermelon baby! And Eru is rubbing her stomach in a stimulating way. After having fun in the river the entire day, Ichiroku is made to look for firewood if she wants dinner. Along the way, she comes into a baby boar and decides this will be their dinner! Don’t let the protein get away! But I guess after soaking in the mini hotspring and feeling good about it that Ichiroku decides to let the piglet go. Then they play with sparklers before hitting the sack. The beautiful night sky is like a natural planetarium. Suddenly Eru starts reprimanding everyone loudly (especially Ichiroku). Turns out that she is sleep talking. Is she always like this? Who is to blame? Shigu and Funko couldn’t sleep so they talk about things and make a promise to always be together. Next morning, the girls pack up and make their long way back home. Throughout the series we see short snippets of the other guns too but it doesn’t amount to anything much. For example, Ichiyon and Faaru visiting Jiisuri as we see her having lots of little sisters. Lots of them! Clones?! Tei and Aug trying to bake cookies (over burnt), Ichihachi and Galil riding in a train while Sako watches the fireworks in the background from her room.

Load It! Shoot It! Hit It!
I admit that it was pretty enjoyable especially the gun battles. Though I am not a gun freak nor do I display any serious interest in guns (from the country I come from, unless you are a uniformed personnel, having a gun in possession is a serious criminal offence), at least the action part kept me well entertained. As I said I am not a gun enthusiast, there were some parts which I literally didn’t understand but that’s okay since all I wanted to see was girls with guns :). And shooting them ;p. In some scenes, the tactics, the usage and the history of the development of a certain gun model is explained and though they seem interesting enough, I feel that you should only pursue to learn more if you are only interested in this field and area. Thus sometimes I feel that this series is made for budding military enthusiasts. I mean, we see the kind of assault rifles used and not just mere handguns or pistols so that’s why in a subtle way, it is trying to cultivate an interest to join the military should your fascination with rifles hit top gear. But you definitely won’t see cute school girls in uniforms if you ever get drafted. That’s for sure!

The ending left lots to be desired. For one, I’m not sure why those eastern AK girls would want to pick a fight with Funko and friends. They did mention about them as guns who have lost their true form and I interpret that as guns taking on human forms acting like high school girls. Even if that is true, aren’t they the same? Except that they don’t like the kind who wants to have fun. And as Sako put it, they’re just out for a good fight so why go to great lengths turning the entire city upside down like a big battlefield? For realism? Even in earlier episodes Faaru did mention and Funko lack motivation, that’s why they did their little battle to serve as one. I’m sure those AK girls want to see more than just Funko’s angry expression. Then once it is over, they just retreated. Just like that? So simple? Didn’t feel like anything was resolved. Felt like they’ll be back the next time round. If they ever produced another season of it, that is.

Over the series, it was sometimes hard for me to try and separate the fact that they are both girls and guns together. For most of the time they act, talk and move about like normal high school girls so it’s tough to keep in mind that they are in fact guns manifesting in human form. Even when they are in the battlefield, it just looked like cute girls turned badass (for some) holding guns and running about firing or taking shelter from the enemy’s bullets. Of course it would be obviously weird to see them in their real forms and walking around. Ever seen a real gun walking by itself? How does a real gun talk anyway? Through its nozzle? Absolutely freaky. I suppose that’s why it’s better to portray them as school girls. It’s more pleasant to the eyes and easier on the mind, don’t you think? In battles when the girls get shot and don’t even bleed or break a bone like how we humans do scream father, scream mother when we get a bullet lodged underneath our skin, it gives this feel that they are superhuman girls with superhuman powers as they can withstand taking in the bullets. I wonder how they will look like when they are ‘broken’. That is the other thing that sometimes bugs me. Seeing that the girls are taking a human form, they sometimes display the quirky characteristics of the gun like whether or not being able to function in different temperatures (translated here as whether they can withstand for instance hot or cold), switchable to dual roles (as in Aug as reflected in her dual personality) and when they need water to cool themselves, they pour onto their bodies in which the water will evaporate quickly if the gun is in used frequently. You might be already guessing which part is the handle and to hold, right? Don’t press and pull the wrong part, though. And if a gun gets turned on, does it really leak? Well, don’t overheat and burn out.

But it really gets even more mind boggling because of the final scene whereby Genkoku got shot and healed. Just because guns are fighting each other, doesn’t mean that they aren’t dangerous, right? It’s like they’re trying to say, they’re shooting blanks, isn’t it? Does it really make a difference if humans hold them? Of course when humans do then it’s a different story but what I’m saying is that you’re a real gun whether personified or not, so the bullets are real, right? So the effects have to be real too. Fair enough that the girls themselves although won’t die since guns aren’t supposed to be living things. I know it’s ironic that they’re ‘alive’ as high school girls but for the sake of argument, they also feel serious pain and take serious damage when hit. Therefore I don’t really get when a gun shoots a human and the latter walks away unscathed except for some minor pain. That means to say if the guns fire themselves, we’ll still find ourselves breathing despite being in the midst of a hail of bullets. Hey wait a minute. Think about this. What about the time Funko showered Genkoku with her bullets? He shouldn’t be badly hurt, right? Well, maybe he got hospitalized due to tripping down the stairs or jumping out the window. So there was really no real harm if he got hit, right? Then do you notice where the girls keep their rifles? It’s like they can whip them out from thin air! What about the magazines? How much do they really carry? Where do they carry them? Oh, I’m sure underneath their skirt they have lots of wide spaces for them to store it all ;p.

I know that the main characters are taken after the country that their gun was manufactured in but somehow I don’t really get the feel that they are from that country. For instance, Before Shigu’s new hairstyle, I am inclined to think of her as from China because of her hair ornament. For some reason, Ichiroku doesn’t sound so American and in fact speaks like with a full Japanese Kansai-ben! I thought Sako was a demon with her long pointy ears! With Eru’s model giving so much trouble, the way they portray her as the ditzy and clumsy girl, it’s trying to tell us that the British are dumb people. Are they? And since the British and Belgians are of the Caucasian type, Eru and Funko hell they don’t look anywhere near like it. In fact, all the characters here look like your typical cute and kawaii Japanese anime girls. You can’t really pinpoint their nationality unless you know what kind of rifle model they are. Then those so called eastern AK girls, how come they all have cat ears and tail?! Just like Galil. Trying to up the moe factor? And with so many models and sister models, if you want to draw a family tree even though confined to this anime, it’ll be hard because even though for example Ichiroku and Ichiyon are sisters, they aren’t really true sisters. Get what I mean? Actually I don’t even understand it myself. Something about the difference in manufacturers or whatever that makes them related but not directly.

Genkoku may be a total noob when it comes to guns but there is a good reason why a human like him is being employed at Seishou. That’s because he treats the girls as humans and not as guns. If it looks like a girl, speaks like a girl, walks like a girl, shoots like a gun… Okay, maybe totally a real girl after all. Funko and her friends like typical friends together with Ichiroku the lively and cheeky one, Shigu the calm and brainy one and Eru the slow and dense one make their group a dynamic bunch. But are they trying to say that these guns are compatible with each other? Sometimes when the guns face off in battle, it’s like they’re trying to compare which one is superior. Although that part is for an expert to judge and in this anime it doesn’t mean that a girl wins, that gun is better. Another point to ponder about this school is, if they are going to raise these girls to become good rifles and they will end up in the hands of some person, doesn’t it show you that they’ll be killing tools in the future? I mean, they are not guns for sports so they’ll have to end up in the real battlefield, right? Or in the hands of some deluded psychopath shoot down innocent people. I hope not. So really. What’s the purpose of this school again despite the obvious to train them to be perfect guns? And since we know assault rifles will stay as assault rifles, how can Funko and co graduate to the next level as we know the school separates the guns based on certain criteria. Unless they’ll always be middle school girls till the end.

In the chemistry department, when girls as guns start to like each other, I take it as they’re compatible to be used together during battles, right? Maybe not. So in the case of Shigu having a crush on Funko, does this mean their assault rifle types go together? Well, I’m no gun expert so I won’t say much. But strictly in the love department, Shigu really does harbour feelings for Funko and if you pay attention closely to her actions you can see this is obvious. Now that Sako has come into the picture, I guess more bullets are going to fly if they ever make Funko the object of their goal. I’m sure Sako hasn’t really given up on Funko yet so Shigu has got to be very careful since Sako is quite bold and proven to be a psychotic b*tch. Don’t let your guard down. I almost forgot about Aug there. Unless she uses her aggressive mode, don’t count on her making any real advances, which I don’t think it’s possible since I get the feeling Aug doesn’t want to see her devilish side. It’s hot and cold for Funko towards Genkoku. I wonder if that military stance he first posed was a fluke because we don’t really see him do any more of them and that he hates guns (must be that trauma thanks to a certain Belgian assault rifle). I’m sure she’ll be harmless as long as you don’t say that ‘T’ word. It’s like asking for a death wish. The grim reaper is the firing squad all in one. Shoot first, ask questions later! It’s a love-hate relationship for Ichiroku and Ichiyon. Being the crude American sisters they are, sometimes the slightest thing sparks an argument and the place could very well turn into a firing range.

When you have babes and bullets, girls and guns, you can’t leave out the fanservice, right? I won’t say that this show is filled with fanservice but if you open your eyes enough, you can spot some obvious ones. Like Jiisuri’s embarrassing sniper position, the girls taking a bath and whenever Funko thinks too much about Genkoku that she is on the verge of climaxing. Heck, even the ending credits animation has such fanservice of girls in dressed sloppily and in sexy positions. All with guns in their hand so if you think of wanting to make some weird moves, they’ll fire right back. The mid-intermission doesn’t really have fanservice (just the girl posing with their represented rifle) but it mainly provides considerable information on the featured gun like its fire rate, feed system, length, weight, muzzle velocity and cartridge type. Like I said, if you’re a gun enthusiast, you’d know probably a lot more than this basic information otherwise for a guy like me, the numbers and data don’t mean a thing. Hey, there’s one episode whereby they featured Professor. But I don’t think the statistics on him are of those you see for a gun. Thank goodness, eh? Can you imagine a human using such a girl as their gun? Or putting on lingerie on your rifle and firing away. How perversely odd would that look? You thought the OVA would have more tits exposed but you’re going to be sorely disappointed because you’ll have more fingers on 1 hand than such scenes if you count.

Despite the coolness and cuteness of girls in guns being portrayed, remember that guns don’t kill people. It is people who kill people. In the wrong hands and wrong use they become a weapon for mass destruction. I thought they should have manufactured guns heavily and also when one needs to pull the trigger, one needs to have considerable strength. I learnt this from Grenadier’s Rushuna that this is to reflect the weight of life. Unless you can shoulder the responsibility of what you are going to do, then might as well you don’t easily pull the trigger like turning on your lamp. However when profits and sales are on the line and people wanting more powerful, lighter and faster guns in their hands for better ‘performance’, I guess this premise won’t likely come true. It’s such a dangerous world after all. If it’s something I learnt from this anime, guns are humans and have feelings too. They need extra care and attention just like real girls. Be extra careful not to shoot your mouth off, jump the gun or you may find shooting yourself in the foot. Some could really go blazing guns when commented on their underwear. You’ll need a miracle to survive that rapid fire.

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