Top Bishoujos of 2012

December 30, 2012

You know you want it. You know it is here. The final blog of the year that has been the same throughout the years. Without needing much introduction, this is the blog that dedicates and ‘honours’ the prettiest ladies of the 2D anime world for the year. Yes! The Top Bishoujos of 2012! Another round of great applause for surviving another hectic year of anime. Thank goodness the world didn’t end ;).

Due to the sheer amount of animes that I have watched during the year, the list of candidates for this year have amazingly grown to 60 over names! Wow! It is like almost every anime there is one pretty bishoujo for me. Or is it have I become such a pervert? Or am I truly into the beauty of such 2D characters that even Miss Universe don’t even stand a chance? Anyway without further ado, here are the top 10 bishoujos that made it into the list. Of course, in alphabetical order:

1) Alicia Florence (Aria The Natural/Aria The Origination)

2) Aoi Kuneida (Beelzebub)

3) Hare Menjou (Guilty Crown)

 4) Haruka Morishima (Amagami SS)

5) Hebi Harada (Yondemasu Yo, Azazel-san)

6) Kou Aoki (Bakuman)

7) Minatsuki Takami (Deadman Wonderland)

8) Rea Sanka (human form) (Sankarea)

9) Sena Kashiwazaki (Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai)

10) Yuina Wakura (Hanasaku Iroha)

A big congratulations to the top 10 that made the final listing. But it wasn’t easy to judge them as there were other candidates that were also in the fray for the second round before the final ten had been picked. They include (in alphabetical order too) Asia Argento (High School DxD), Chino Motomura (Inu x Boku SS), Hibino Shiba (Kamisama Dolls), Himawari Furutani (YuruYuri), Hoboro (Tamyura ~Hitotose~), Isana Tachibana (Yumekui Merry), Kusunoki Kasuga (The World God Only Knows II), Miho Azuki (Bakuman), Ohana Matsumae (Hanasaku Iroha), Saki Mizukoshi (Natsuiro Kiseki), Tsukasa Ayatsuji (Amagami SS) and Yuuko Kanoe (Tasogare Otome x Amnesia).

And now for the rest of the first round candidates. Don’t hold your breath. This is going to take a while. In alphabetical order: Angelica (Beelzebub), Charunee AKA Meo (Kamisama Memo-chou), Clarakran Pilius (Shining Tears X Wind), Elwyn (Shining Tears X Wind), Erio Touwa (Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko), Fumika Warasono (Koe De Oshigoto), Hana (Morita-san Wa Mukuchi), Hildegarde (Beelzebub), Hiyoko Tamaizumi (Oretachi Ni Wa Tsubasa Wa Nai), Inori Yuzuriha (Guilty Crown), Irene “Rally” Vincent (Gunsmith Cats), Kanade Suzutsuki (Mayo Chiki), Karina Lyle AKA Blue Rose (Tiger & Bunny), Keiko Takamura (Uta-Kata), Kodama Himegami (Maken-Ki), Kyouko Toshino (YuruYuri), Margarite AKA Maruga (Dragon Crisis), Masami Oshige (Full Moon Wo Sagashite), Mercelida (Astarotte No Omocha), Mio Kitahara (Ano Natsu De Matteru), Miu Amaha (Mashiro-iro Symphony), Miyuki (Miyuki-chan In Wonderland), Natsumi Katou (Bakuman S2), Nazuna Takanashi (Working!), Rebecca “Becky” Anderson (Dog Days), Rella Shirayuki (Cinderella Boy), Riko Mine (Hidan No Aria), Risa Hanakago (Nagareboshi Lens), Sae Nakata (Amagami SS), Saki (Steel Angel Kurumi), Saki Sakimori (Acchi Kocchi), Satellizer el Bridget (Freezing), Sayaka Nakasugi (Tetsuwan Birdy Decode), Sylia Stingray (Bubblegum Crisis 2040), Tomiko Senba (Yondemasu Yo, Azazel-san OVA), Touka Kureha (Shining Tears X Wind), Ume Shiraume (Ben-To), Utae Sonokoe (R-15), Yoshimoto Imagawa (Sengoku Otome Momoiro Paradox), Yukari Nitani (Usagi Drop), Yukie Mayuzumi (Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai), Yuri Tokikago (Mawaru Penguindrum), Yuuko Nishi (A Channel), Yuzu Komiya (Nekogami Yaoyorozu) and Yuzuki Eba (Kimi No Iru Machi). Phew! Didn’t fall asleep, did you?

Just like last year, you may notice that a couple of always-permanent ladies are missing from the top 10. Since they’re always going to be eternally on my top list, it won’t be ‘fair’ for them to occupy the 2 spots every year. So a little space hereafter is dedicated as always to the duo. All hail Mai Tokiha of Mai-HiME and Suigin Tou from Rozen Maiden! A picture of them as ‘offering’:

Looks like there are more and more animes to watch for me the coming year. And the rate that I’m going, there is a big chance that more and more bishoujos will end up on my candidate list for next year’s you-know-what. Maybe the top 10 will even be expanded for all you know. For now, let us (me, in particular) admire and be thankful to all the bishoujos for making my dull life such a ‘colourful’ event. Hah! You’re calling me a pervert already, aren’t you? I don’t care what you have to say because… Long Live Anime Bishoujos!


December 28, 2012

Shocking news! I never thought that Beelzebub would actually end this soon. Here I was resigning to the fact that this series will be going on forever and ever with no end in sight when suddenly… Surprise, surprise. After 60 episodes, this series finally ended at the end of March 2012 after running for 1 1/4 years. Phew. At least it was good news to me because I like shows with specific number of episodes so that I can plan my watching schedule. It’s trivial but that is how I am.

As I have watched the OVA prior to the TV series, let’s just say that the OVA is just an abridged version of 1/5 of the series. So you’re going to see some pretty familiar and important scenes that were shown in the OVA repeating in the first few episodes of the TV series. The premise for this story is like this. Tatsumi Oga is supposedly the strongest first year delinquent in the totally badass delinquent school of Ishiyama High. Everybody here is so bad to the bone that it makes you think that this is the place to groom future villains. One day Oga finds a baby floating down by the river and due to some twist of events (because he is the strongest in the eyes of the baby at that moment), he ends up being the baby’s ‘father’. But this is no ordinary baby because Beelzebub is the son of the Demon Lord who sent his younger son to Earth and find a human to raise him in his place to destroy humanity. What the? I know the big lord himself is too lazy and preoccupied doing several lazy things but letting a human raise a demon’s kid so that humanity can be destroyed? Where’s the logic in that? Shouldn’t he entrust the baby to another demon? Which human would be so stupid to do that? Well, let’s say Oga is more brawns over brains. And thus begins Oga’s quest to ‘dump’ the baby in someone’s hands. Easier said than done. So here’s a brief summary of what I think is important and ‘memorable’. Of course, thanks to Wikipedia and Wikia for some important points to jog my memory.

Tatsumi Oga – Main delinquent character whose current goal now is to find the strongest somebody so that he can dump the responsibility of Beelzebub to that stronger person. Of course if it was that easy, we wouldn’t have 60 episodes for nothing. Each ‘failure’ only brings him closer his ties with Beelzebub even if that guy doesn’t realize or admit it. His eventually gains and learns how to use and control the demon’s powers. Oh, he can’t let anybody know that Beelzebub is a demon. Will anybody believe a delinquent?

Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub IV – The Demon Lord’s baby kid that end up being Oga’s ‘son’. Despite being the son of a devil, Beelzebub is such a cry-baby that it makes you wonder if this kid is up to the task of being a mean demon king. Just the slightest little annoyance would send him screaming in tears. That’s a bad thing. Why? Because the lightning will zap you like hell! So don’t ever make this baby cry! Ever! Oh, Oga can’t be further than him for 15 metres too or else is zap-zap. Why is there such ferocious lightning on a bright sunny day? Oh, you’re going to have to put up with this kid’s dangling penis for 98% of his appearance. Ah well, as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Hildegarde AKA Hilda – Beelzebub’s demon maidservant sent to take assist in taking care of the baby. Your usual cold and arrogant woman despite sometimes you’ll notice the kinder side she shows. After all, you can’t be kind all the time if you’re a demon, right? Currently resides in Oga’s house and Oga’s family is receptive of her after misunderstanding the kind of relationship they have. Making things easier, they misunderstood lots of demonic terms like thinking she’s from Macao (the island near China) instead of Makai (demon world). Are Macao girls blonde and busty?

Takayuki Furuichi – I supposed he is the only ‘good kid’ in a sea of delinquents. How the heck did he end up there? Don’t ask. Anyway he is the most rational of many of the characters you’ll see but they don’t tend to listen to him simply because of their pride or just too dumb. Also bearing the brunt of many of the painful backfires, beat ups and whatever, he’s just like a comic relief and labelled as Oga’s slave, lackey, etc. Not exactly an angel himself because he is a pervert and fantasizes his own harem. Humans or demons also welcome. Don’t worry. He never gets the girls. Dream on…

Alaindelon – Some sort of dimensional transport demon working under Hilda. This old guy splits his body into half if you need something transported between the worlds. Currently living under Furuichi’s roof against that poor kid’s wishes and this is made complicated when Furuichi’s parents think he turned gay and started screwing around with old guys and to take responsibility. There goes Furuichi’s reputation. And this old guy has penchant for doing gay things for Furuichi… I can just feel my hair standing on its ends. Despite being a comic relief character, Alaindelon is quiet competent when the time calls for it and is able to assist Hilda in the dangers they face.

Touhoushinki – The name is taken after the first writing of their surname and supposedly the strongest four delinquents of Ishiyama that Oga wants to face off with so that he can dumb Beelzebub on them. Can he fake being the weaker one and let them show off how strong they are in front of Beelzebub? I guess you know the answer.

Other delinquents – Despite their badass looks, they’re dumb. That’s what happens if you go to school without learning anything but fight, fight and nothing but fight. The mentionable ones include Killer Machine Abe (baldy terminator), Goodnight Shimokawa (“Goodnight” even if it’s morning, afternoon or evening) and the Sanada brothers of Ryuuji and Ryuuichi (they love using the drill and chainsaw, do they?). Many feel Oga had gone soft after taking on a baby. But they’re dead wrong. Look how strong he has become. Just like when a father just received his newly born son, eh?

Where are all the teachers? – Did you notice this? I don’t even see a teacher at Ishiyama! Where the hell are they? Don’t blame them if they resigned because you don’t want to die at the hands of delinquents who don’t even want to learn. The only staff I see is the principal. But he spends most of his time gardening or cleaning the school grounds. Why is he still around? I guess you need somebody to take care of the place no matter how bad it is.

Hajime Kanzaki – The first of the Touhoushinki that Oga faced. Despite his love for some yoghurt drink, he is a sinister and malicious sadist. Perfect for somebody Oga can drop Beelzebub to. However Oga can’t jump straight into fighting the big boss first because his first right hand man, Takeshi Shiroyama is going to take care of him first. Who knows, one blow to his neck and Shiroyama is out. Heartless Kanzaki is going to replace him with Oga and tells Shiroyama to jump out the window. Oga didn’t like his f*cked up attitude and sends him flying out of the window instead. He blew his first chance there to shove the responsibility. Damn. Ah well, there’s always another chance.

Shintarou Natsume – Another of Kanzaki’s subordinate. Having good looks and soft spoken, despite rarely getting involved in fights, he himself is quite strong and has taken an interest in observing Oga.

Zebel Spell – A strange mark starts appearing on Oga’s right hand. It’s a sign to mark the contract between him and Beelzebub. Just great. Better get rid of the baby fast because the more he fights, the bigger the mark grows. So don’t fight. Can he stay away from that? Not fighting is like a withdrawal symptom to delinquents.

Tatsuya Himekawa – Rich, rich and filthy rich! Oh, don’t mind his pompadour hairstyle too. The second Touhoushinki member Oga will face, Himekawa is the kind of lad who thinks using money will solve everything. To him, money grows on trees because he gets what is done just by giving those chunks of notes. Money makes the world go round. Till he meets his match in Oga. He uses his henchmen to kidnap Furuichi and Hilda to draw Oga out. Well, it did lure him in but it’s one big mistake because Oga is so strong that Himekawa’s ceramic stomach plate breaks and not even his stun rod works. Oga had been enduring Beelzebub’s lightning zap after zap so this is like a mosquito’s bite to him. Himekawa becomes the first victim of Oga’s Zebel Spell. Oh wait. Didn’t the mark just grow bigger? Didn’t Oga just prove he is the strongest? Back to the drawing board.

Aoi Kunieda – Nicknamed “Queen”, she is the only female in Touhoushinki and the leader of the Red Tails, a group of all-female members. I guess when you’re in a school with tough delinquents, it’s best that the girls stay together as a pack. With Nene Oomori, Chiaki Tanimura, Yuka Hanazawa and Ryouko Asuka under her wing, they are a formidable group that boys would want to think twice in messing about. However Kunieda is unlike other delinquents. She is not a bully and is a master of her grandpa’s Shingetsu style martial arts. Her first encounter with Oga was at a park while babysitting her baby brother Kouta. She is well disguised so thank goodness Oga is just too dumb to see the similarity whenever the situation calls for it. Kunieda did have a soft spot for him but after learning he has been the one picking fights at Ishiyama against Touhoushinki, she confronts him and unleashes all her powerful attacks on him. Amazingly he dodges them all and eventually asks her to be Beelzebub’s mother. The sight was pretty embarrassing for Kunieda so she runs away in embarrassment. I guess Oga will have to find another person for the job. Subsequently she quits as the head of Red Tails (because a rule of the group is never to fall in love) and leaves the leadership to Nene. From time to time you can see her fantasizing her feelings about Oga. I guess this is her version of being a comic relief instead of the more ‘violent’ ones you see for the guys.

MK5 – Another group of loser delinquents (I couldn’t be bothered in remembering their names). At first making their ferocious appearance because the effeminate leader is jealous of Kunieda bearing the title of Queen. There can only be one Queen at Ishiyama. In the end they prove to be the weakest delinquents ever and got easily defeated. I’ll just give them points for their appearance choreography. Then again, maybe not.

Even demon babies get sick – Due to some strange illness, the Zebel Spell mark is missing from Oga’s hand. Soon Beelzebub goes missing. Later, Hilda brings back Dr Forcas Rachmaninoff and his assistant Lamia to diagnose the disease as King Fever. Beelzebub tried to draw out massive amount of demon power and accidentally severed the link with Oga.

Hidetora Tojou – The last of the Touhoushinki and supposedly the strongest. He has been ‘missing’ throughout the first 20 episodes and only made cameo appearances here and there because of his penchant to skip classes and do odd part time jobs. Oga tries to find this elusive guy and Tojou too is interested in fighting this strong dude. After all, Oga had already done in the other Touhoushinki members. During the first fight at the riverbed, Oga lost. Does this prove that without his baby, he is not so strong after all? Besides, Beelzebub is with Tojou. Not because he sensed Tojou was the strongest but rather Tojou picked him up in the streets.

Dream dive – I’m not sure about this diving into the dream to reconnect his contract with Beelzebub. It’s weird, it’s tough but in the end, Beelzebub and Oga are back as one.

Round Two, Fight! – The much awaited second fight between Oga and Tojou takes place at night at Ishiyama. Like a shonen anime, all the other defeated members of Touhoushinki or on ‘Oga’s side’, keeping other delinquents at bay while the main fight rages on. Beelzebub is worried Oga can’t win and activates Zebel Spell. But Oga tells him not to interfere and to trust him. The endurance brawl lasted till dawn with Oga the eventual winner. It is revealed the Zebel Spell mark on Tojou’s arm was just a tattoo. The master he admired had that same mark. That means someone else knows about demons too. Oh, with Oga beating every Touhoushinki member, this proves he is the strongest, right? So he wants to keep the baby, right?

School’s out – Because of the swelling power in Oga’s arm due to Beelzebub injecting all the magic, he needs to punch something to let it all out or else he’ll explode. He directs his punch at Ishiyama school and the odd thing is that the school didn’t crumble but it got twisted like some sort of, I don’t even know how to describe this. It’s like the building was made of sponge and that crater mark left the building so twisted like as though its space was warped. WTF?! Shouldn’t it be easier to just destroy it to pieces?

Welcome to the demon world – While sending Forcas and Lamia back via Alaindelon, Oga and Furuichi gets accidentally pulled in and find themselves in the most dangerous place in the demon world, Vlad’s Haunt. Since Alaindelon is out, they need to find his daughter, Angelica to help them get back. I’m sure Furuichi is all eager to meet this pretty babe. Sick of the old man, is he? Angelica gets kidnapped and Furuichi goes all out to rescue her from the bandits. Everything goes well till some giant awakened demon terrorizes the place. I don’t remember how but Beelzebub grows big too and we see an Ultraman parody fight between the giants that ends in Beelzebub’s favour. Just when Furuichi relishes being transported through Angelica’s body, then comes Alaindelon to do the honours. Oh, so he’s healed.

New term, one class – Due to Ishiyama’s destruction, I don’t even know why they bother to reconstruct it. Will it take that long? Who knows? Seems like forever as far as this anime is concerned. Even delinquents need a place to go to school so what better way than to spread them out through the various other high schools in the vicinity. An excuse for weeding out unnecessary minor characters because at the goodie-goodie school of St Ishiyama, all the delinquents are put into one special classroom regardless of grade. I guess delinquents are so dumb that it doesn’t matter what grade they are, huh? And how often you get to see Touhoushinki, their underlings and the big man Oga who defeated them all under one classroom? Yeah, like I said, it’s an excuse to put them all under one roof. And all the other students fear the delinquents like as though they are demons from hell. Are they? Furthermore, the delinquents can’t risk getting into trouble because with just 1 fight, they’ll be expelled. Gee, I don’t think the delinquents would care but with Kunieda as the class rep, she’s going to see that none of them are going out. But that jerk teacher Takumi Sadohara is just waiting for them to make their first blunder…

Kazuya Yamamura – What the hell is Bleach’s Ichigo Kurosaki doing here?! Is this where he ends up after Bleach ended his run? Oh, never mind. Anyway he wants to be Oga’s disciple and after lots of bugging and pestering, Oga simply accepts his companionship. Not that he cares either.

Azusa Fujisaki – Kazuya’s easygoing and light-hearted classmate. I guess somebody needs to bring in the moe factor.

Teimou High – Another school housing delinquents. I don’t know. Is it their theme for everyone to go bald? Or everyone here has got hair problems?

6 Holy Knights (Rokkisei) – Oh, Oga finally remembered his mission to dump Beelzebub. Apparently the strongest people of St Ishiyama are dubbed the 6 Holy Knights. They are like the secret police and are given permission to carry out judgment on anybody they find guilty of breaking the rules. But nobody really knows who they are. Not even students of their own school. Maybe nobody in this goodie school has broken the rules before. Don’t worry, we’ll soon find out and let the hunt begin.

Hisaya Miki – Supposedly Furuichi and Oga’s old friend. But Oga doesn’t know who this dude is. Guess what? Miki is part of the 6 Holy Knights and has a long outstanding grudge against Oga he really wants to take out.

It led to the fight… – When Shiroyama got injured by some naughty boys prank dropping weights on him, Kanzaki goes to get revenge but was knocked out cold by Miki. He suggests facing off at the rooftop. Despite the tantalizing match-ups between 6 Holy Knights that consists of Miki, Ichiro “Alex Rodriguez” Shinjo, Mitsuteru Sakaki and Hiromichi Gou, and their counterparts Oga, Himekawa, Natsume and even Tojou joining the fray, the match is put to a halt when the other 6 Holy Knights, Shizuka Nanami comes into the picture. The guys under her are left trembling in fear for they do not want to mess with her. And they certainly do not want to mess with their leader and strongest of them all, Kaname Izuma.

Volleyball match – Due to the upcoming cultural festival, it is suggested that both sides settle their score via volleyball match. WTF?! I guess this is better than a brawl. Do delinquents know how to play volleyball? Well, the 6 Holy Knights don’t either. So it’s all fair. Should Ishiyama win, their expulsion will be reconsidered and the 6 Holy Knights losing their authority. Kunieda is already having a hard time trying to get the guys motivated to work as a team. Till a poorly edited video tape of the 6 Holy Knights badmouthing them (it’s all dubbed) had them fired up to beat the crap out of them.

Scars from the past – Oga sees Miki training in his dojo and their short bout has Oga losing. Flashback reveals Miki became close to Oga after he saved him from delinquents. However Oga refused to let him fight alongside him and even beat him up in front of their arch enemy Reiji Kiriya. Soon Miki moved but he held on to that grudge, one day getting that revenge on Oga. That day seems to be drawing near.

Rematch – Oga fights Tojou again and the latter got a feeling he lost to Miki. Must be because Oga has taken quite a beating. But I guess all that beating proves to be good because it’s like his wake-up call to fire up his spirit to win the volleyball match.

The game begins – A volleyball match using high power techniques? Despite Ishiyama committing lots of fouls at the start, they manage to fight back and level the score to give their counterparts a good run for their money. As expected, Oga nails the winner and beat the 6 Holy Knights.

Haunted by the past – As soon as the match ends, Kiriya has locked down the place with his Teimou delinquents. He is here to avenge his humiliation against Oga. This is when Miki realizes he had been wrong all the time to blame Oga. When Miki moved away, Kiriya also moved to an area near him. Knowing he would be attacked (Miki had not fighting skills then), Oga purposely severed all ties and pretended not to know him. Now that he has understood the truth, Ishiyama teams up with the 6 Holy Knights to beat up Kiriya and Teimou. They don’t stand a chance against his Zebel Spell. Oh wait. Now that everyone has seen that spectacular, is the secret out? Don’t worry, Izuma convinces everyone it’s just great CG effects. How else can you explain all that?

Zenjurou Saotome – The new teacher for the special class at St Ishiyama. He is in fact Tojou’s master and much stronger than Tojou and Oga combined. And this dude indeed has got some knowledge in the demon world…

The truth is out there – Kunieda has been suspicious over the events that happened and tries to dig for the truth. After so seeing several demonic-like events, she becomes the only other person who knows of Oga’s secret.

Lord En – Beelzebub’s older brother and is sent to assist in destroying mankind. He has 3 demon maidservants, Yolda (Hilda’s sister), Satura and Isabella to attend to his whims and fancies. If you think this kid is much better, then fear not for he is no better than Beelzebub. Yeah, another big cry-baby if things don’t go his way. Instead of zapping you with electricity, he’ll burn the entire place down! So you better not make this kid cry. Ever! Oh, this kid has a soft spot for Lamia. Not that she’s ever interested in him.

Behemoth’s 34 Pillar Squad – A group of loyal demons serving under En and will stop at nothing to bring glory to their master. After all, despite the Demon Lord ordering them to work together, the ultimate glory is to see who gets to destroy humankind first, right? So our human counterparts have got their first battle with demons with Tojou’s match against Izuma interrupted by Naga and Graffel. Meanwhile Hecadoth tricks Hilda into rescuing Kunieda so that he could take out the demon servant. Hilda got stabbed. Naga and Graffel leave to join Hecadoth to dispose of Oga (his Zebel Spell had no effect). If not for Saotome entering the fray, they could’ve been dead meat. Saotome’s unrivalled power forces them to pull an emergency escape. Dr Forcas and Lamia return to treat Hilda but Saotome notes that Oga and Tojou need to get stronger if they’re going to face these demons.

“Ah! Kuma da!” – “Ah! It’s a bear!”. That’s what Tojou claims for those demons and Saotome is having a hard time explaining that bears and demons are totally different. He just doesn’t get it. Strong as a bear? No, that’s not it. Take it from the top once more. As for the rest, they just come to accept that those demons are from a high school called Akumano High.

Play and train – En is missing and who knows what that kid will do. Furuichi rounds up the Ishiyama gang including Red Tails to go search for En. Knowing he loves playing games (he is infatuated with games from Earth), they manage to find him online and in Himekawa’s building, they fight against En in an online war simulation game. Since En has been cheating, Himekawa calls the game producers to rewrite the code and cheat themselves too and turn the tables on En. Despite their victory, En isn’t going to tell them about his location. Guess what? They’re just next door. Meanwhile Oga, Beelzebub and Kunieda train at the latter’s grandpa dojo. Zenjurou gives special training to Oga. What better way than to train against fighting yourself as your worst enemy, right? So we’ve got a Black Beelzebub materializing. He’s faster and naughtier. But oh wait, Black Beelzebub transforms into his true form… Butterfly wings and a demon tail? Oga manages to ring him in by ignoring him till he gives up. He’s just like a carbon copy of Beelzebub, remember?

We’re back and it’s payback time! – Behemoth’s Pillar Squad heads are back with a vengeance, bringing back more of their crazy members with them. Our Oga is also back in time and powered up. He has devised a new technique called Zebel Emblem and Super Milk Time that has his body and Beelzebub’s merge into one lean mean fighting machine. Something about enabling Oga to use Beelzebub’s power without any limit. Yeah, he’s spotting butterfly wings and a devil’s tail. He is dangerous! He beats all of Behemoth’s Pillar heads and destroys Himekawa’s building.

Declaration of war – Due to some misunderstanding, En thinks Furuichi is targeting his Lamia and vows an all-out war on him. Just great. The person with no fighting skills becomes the target of an angry demon kid. He’s screwed.

The change up – Due to the effects of Super Milk Time, Oga and Beelzebub switch bodies. Beelzebub better not strip naked! So they run around all school trying to catch ‘Oga’ with some others trying to pick a fight with him and it ultimately turns into a showdown between Hilda and Kunieda who can attract ‘Oga’. I think they forgot their original mission from the rivalry. Unfortunately when the time is up and Oga and Beelzebub switch back, Oga bears the brunt of the ladies’ attack.

Another single parent – Because Oga didn’t destroy Black Beelzebub, Saotome couldn’t bear leaving it alone in the mountains or find another method to dispose of him. So he takes him in under his care…

Koma-chan – When Kunieda was training in the mountains along with Oga, she seeks the help of the daughter of the shrine, Isafuyu Kashino to attain some powers to fight against demons. Isafuyu had never seen this demon before but sometimes uses his powers for exorcism. When Koma-chan’s real identity is revealed, he turns out to be a real perverted lion dog god. Only Kunieda can make him toe the line but I don’t think he ever learns from his lesson. All the painful lessons… Kunieda is the only one who can see him. So why still have him stick around then? Despite having a much ferocious, powerful and badass form, he is still a pervert. Once a pervert, always a pervert.

Kaoru Umemiya – Who the heck is this Red Tails girl?! Suddenly out of nowhere she pops up like as though she has been part of the regular cast (minor supporting cast, that is). Even Ryouko who gets the least screen time among the Red Tails girls, at least we know who she is but Kaoru?! Who the?! What the?!

Who the hell is this hottie? – As we all know, when Himekawa loses his pompadour hairstyle and those glasses, he looks like a damn hot bishie! The girls are falling head over heels over this guy! And nobody seems to know who he is despite saying numerous times he is Himekawa. I guess he is identified by his pompadour and nothing else. Till that special hair gel comes, he’ll have to make do with this tiredness of correcting people.

The Demon Lord cometh – Oga’s father had his rare day off when the Demon Lord comes to visit! Trying to be a good host, he tries to take him out and entertain him. His attempts not to outshine him fail because he always does better and starts panicking this will become an international issue! You think the Demon Lord cares? He’s having a great time on a place he ironically wants to destroy. Meanwhile Hilda rounds up the Ishiyama gang and has them prepare some big ridiculous ritual to welcome the big lord. But all that is for nought because he forgot and left.

School’s back – Hooray! After what seemingly looked like a long time (it’s just 3 months later), Ishiyama High is finally back. Now the delinquents can happily return to their nest. But wait! It isn’t Ishiyama High! What the hell?! It’s Akumano Academy! What the?! Seems En has bought over this place and his entire Pillar Squad will be arriving in batches. Well, you’ve got to know more about the place you’re going to destroy, right? Some of the Pillar Generals and Pillar Masters have already arrived. A weird looking bunch if you ask me. Man, that poor elderly teacher is going to have a hard time teaching these oddballs. Can he keep his sanity in check?

Behemoth – This seemingly old harmless geezer that paid a visit to St Ishiyama looking for Oga is actually Behemoth himself. Seems Zenjurou, Kunieda’s grandpa and the old principal of St Ishiyama had ties with him. And it isn’t pleasant. The trio think he is here for an all-out war but he is here just to greet them as ‘neighbours’. Yeah, Akumano Academy, remember? Besides, he is no longer the head of the Pillar Squad.

Jabberwock – He is the new badass leader of the Pillar Squad and got the attitude to match it. It’s just the right timing for Oga to lock horns with him when Jabberwock takes Hilda as hostage with his giant winged creature, Sodom.

Super Croquette Time – Jabberwock shows he is on a totally different level than Oga when his Super Milk Time doesn’t work. Besides, Oga has run out of it. As weird it may seems, this super power doesn’t work one way. Because Oga and Beelzebub share the same bond and synchronicity, not only they power up if Oga drinks Beelzebub’s favourite milk. Beelzebub can power up too if he eats those favourite croquettes. Oga saves Hilda and gives his ultimate punch on Sodom, sending the creature crashing into the newly built Akumano Academy. And En was in the middle of his ‘all-out war’ with the Ishiyama delinquents. They’re playing Twister. And he thought he was having it good till Sodom crashed in. To end it, Oga-Beelzebub combo releases a powerful blast. I thought it was A-bomb material. Miraculously only the school was destroyed.

Don’t cry for me – Oga has been gone for a week. The delinquents are crying over him. Wait a minute? Delinquents shedding tears? Kanzaki? Himekawa? Shiroyama? Kunieda? Red Tails? Even Shimokawa, Abe and lesser known delinquents too? WTF?! Why are they so concerned over Oga? Episodes ago they wanted to pick a fight over each other and now, he’s dead, they’re crying. Ah well. It goes to show that delinquents are humans after all. Suddenly Oga comes back. How?! What?! Why?! Seems after that blast, Oga found himself in the demon world and enjoyed himself in a spa-like resort. WTF?! Give back those tears!

Special class 2 – With Akumano Academy destroyed, I guess this means En’s Pillar Squad members will have to temporarily be stationed at St Ishiyama. Man, it’s getting crowded. I guess we all know which school to go when your school is destroyed, right? And that old teacher thought he had transferred to a respectable school till he finds out it’s the same bunch of oddballs. He’s definitely going senile after this. But why is En back? Seems the Demon Lord wasn’t too happy with his ‘failure’ and sent him back to Earth as he vowed he will crush humans with his underworld army. Oh no!

Goodbye seems to be the hardest word – Suddenly Beelzebub and all the other demons will have to return to the demon world. What gives? You see, while the Demon Lord is about to address his army to invade Earth, he stammered so he lost interest and dropped the idea of destroying humans. WTF?! And his entire army just gathered. Once more humanity is saved without anybody doing anything. However Beelzebub seems reluctant to leave (so is Alaindelon, clinging on tightly to Furuichi). Well, the good news is that En and his Pillar Squad will be heading back too. More importantly, Oga finally gets to drop this responsibility off his back. So while the delinquents and Oga’s family try to come to terms with the demons leaving, Oga and Beelzebub say their final goodbye. For the first time, Beelzebub’s cries didn’t shock Oga. And that baby is letting all out. Genuine tears, no? And back to the demon world they go.

Welcome back – While the Ishiyama delinquent guys are trashing around asserting their authority, suddenly Hilda and Beelzebub returns. What now? Looks like the Demon Lord has a change in mind. He thinks humans should be destroyed and leaves it to Hilda. So here we go again. But Oga doesn’t want to take the responsibility to raise him again. Can he? Beelzebub is going to cry…

Delinquents & Demons = Dumb & Dumber
I can see and speculate why this series ended its run in just over a year. One word: Fillers. That was perhaps the biggest grouse and complaint that viewers and fans had. Even I was also annoyed at the amount of fillers that they put in. Since I do not read the manga, I am not sure exactly which episodes are fillers but I have a feeling that those nonsensical ones that do not contribute anything to the plot and just an excuse for the characters to get into their antics, I am pretty sure those are fillers. I mean, look at this. Oga’s mission to dump Beelzebub to others by fighting the members of Touhoushinki dragged on for 20 episodes. That is 1/3 of the series. How do you drag a fight that long? You put mindless fillers in it! Heck, I think as early as the fourth episode was already a filler. Then you have the 6 Holy Knights arc and the clash with Behemoth’s 34 Pillar Squad. But how long do those arcs last? They just show a few episodes really pertaining to the plot before going off tangent when it ends. Some fillers before the next arc. Before you know it, it’s the end. Well, the manga is still ongoing.

If they had not put in those mindless fillers such as a robbery-cum-hostage at the convenience store, Beelzebub’s toys arriving from the demon world, playing doctor, Beelzebub can’t stop taking a leak (I guess that’s how the world got flooded), a stray cat getting attached to Oga which causes Beelzebub to be jealous and in turn leads to some cat group dispute, Beelzebub’s incessant night cries that has everyone riled up and unable to catch 40 winks, the Demon Lord sending some tests and homework to Beelzebub, some magical girl parody to capture an alien from the demon World, taking a physical examination, holding a maid cafe, all the delinquents one by one suddenly start to disappear at St Ishiyama (thanks to Koma-chan’s perverted scheme to only leave the girls behind and get pervy with them), Furuichi falling in love with a ghost girl (unrequited love of course), Himekawa losing his pompadour hairstyle, trying to have a surprise birthday party for Hilda (only it wasn’t her birthday), hotspring folly, Koma-chan’s cooking scheme to get Kunieda fall in love with her (it was bloody obvious) and yes, the dreaded New Year special which is the twisted form and nonsensical of Journey To The West. Otherwise the story flow could have lasted less than half the number of episodes in total.

Each story arc is interesting but like I said, the fillers in between them and after that killed it. It was rather okay starting off with the Touhoushinki arc whereby Oga tries to find the strongest four to cut Beelzebub loose. But the 6 Holy Knights is the most disappointing one because after the build-up that they were like powerful people enough to give the Ishiyama delinquents a run for their money, suddenly it turns into a volleyball game and what happens in the end? No big fight after all. It was like they were unnecessary in the first place. Where’s the fight? I expected some interesting match-ups between both sides. After this arc ends, you won’t really hear from them again. They just make cameo appearances. So? So what? So what the hell? Disappointing indeed. The final Behemoth 34 Pillar Squad arc really seemed interesting and Oga and co’s initial brawl with them was fascinating to draw my attention. Then came in the fillers. Then with the entry of some of the really odd and bizarre looking Pillar Squad members (clowns and freaks, get the picture?), I thought to myself this was going to get interesting with an all-out war declared. I was even guessing who will be fighting who (too bad other than the short bout between Oga versus Jabberwock, it was another short fight between Kunieda and Agiel). But there aren’t enough episodes remaining, how they are going to play this out. Then this. Oga destroys everything, demons are called back before returning. End of story. What a downer. Can’t you see my frustration and utter shock? Well, I guess if this is going to be a trend, might as well end it rather than going on and on like they did for Bleach.

Well, I don’t really know what to say about the characters except that you can guess that they are mostly the same as they are at the end as they are from the start. Sure, they might have a little change here and there but their overall trait and personality won’t run so much. But the thing that baffles me is Oga and his initial mission to dump Beelzebub. When he was searching for someone stronger, he had numerous and all the chance in the world to do just that. However when he finds that person and in the case of Kanzaki and Himekawa to be more rotten than they are, he beats them up in return. It’s like telling us he isn’t willing to hand over Beelzebub to anybody in the first place. Then of course the more time the duo spend together, the more the special bond they form. Heck, is it any wonder that Beelzebub is so attached to him and would rather sulk and stay behind rather than go back to his own demon world and his real father? The substitute parent is doing a much better job than the original one. So when Oga told off his enemies that he isn’t going to let humanity be destroyed because he is Beelzebub’s parent, I guess he is serious in raising Beelzebub not as a destroyer of humanity but a normal kid. Thus the dumping of Beelzebub to somebody stronger than him seems to be all forgotten as we go along. I also don’t understand Hilda because if she wanted some human to be Beelzebub’s parent, she could have easily dumped Oga and go find another person more badass than him rather than just complain and tell him to do a better job. Isn’t it ironic now that Oga mentions he won’t let humanity be destroyed but it is her task as a demon maidservant to see to it that Beelzebub grows up to be just what Demon Lord wants. Point to ponder: Will Beelzebub grow up to be a delinquent child in the hands of Oga?

I’ve expected Furuichi to be the biggest comic relief because of the way he makes his comebacks and breaks the fourth wall. Well, I don’t know whether I should be satisfied or disappointed that he plays that role very well. He is like a ragged cloth that everybody uses and throws without giving a sh*t. He’s a pervert, loser and misunderstood (especially by his sister who thinks he is so gay over Alaindelon). Once you get to know Touhoushinki, they aren’t really that tough as you expect. Once Kanzaki and Himekawa were defeated by Oga, they become idiotic idiots on par with their lackeys. Kunieda falls into a love-stricken teenager though she manages to keep her cool for most of the time. Her showdown with Hilda is definitely out of jealousy. Tojou is always missing in action either doing his part time job or away training so you don’t really see his nose much. So how are they the strongest in Ishiyama before Oga arrived and owned them? Maybe it was just a perception created to make them think that they are the strongest because there are masterminds pulling the strings behind the scene. Or perhaps I’m just thinking too much. With too many other minor characters, some of them were just forgettable. Take for instance the 6 Holy Knights. Like I said, they were a major disappointment. Sure, Miki may have hogged most of the limelight during the arc and perhaps there’s something about Izuma and Shizuka as well. But that Gou guy? It felt he was just making up the numbers. Kazuya and Azusa? What happened to them? Just lackeys, aren’t they? Same case with the other Red Tail members that keep tagging along with Kunieda. Just hanging around probably like what Lamia’s role in the final few episodes is about. What happened to En’s demon maidservants? Looks like their role has been cut out ever since the Pillar Squad made their entry. There are lots of potential and secrets to the many other characters like Izuma’s connection with the demons, Zenjurou, Kunieda’s grandpa and St Ishiyama’s principal but I guess you’ll have to read the manga to find out more.

The comedy parts are funny in its own way and I have to admit that at certain points it really made me laugh. Maybe for this point I would forgive the fillers but that’s just about it. Whether it’s making some exaggerated cliches, perverted jokes or breaking the fourth wall, it’s really odd to see delinquents being this funny. Which brings me to this point. Did you ever notice that despite how tough and menacing the delinquents look, once you get to know their true colours, they are just as dumb. Hey, that’s why they are called delinquents. If they were smart and love to study, they could’ve been on their way securing a scholarship to Tokyo University. They’re so dumb that they hardly feel threatening. It makes them feel like a tin can. All bark and no bite. Well, Oga may be a slightly different case but he is still more brawns than brains just like Tojou. Everything is solved with a fight. Their fists do the talking. Even a tough ass teacher like Zenjurou has his quirks. But what is even dumber are the demons themselves. You think they are some terrifying creatures out to destroy humanity but when you have a Demon Lord who delegates his duties to his son who could barely speak while he himself goes frolicking and fooling around, you know the mission is going to fail big time. Even worse than Ika-chan’s failed invasion on mankind. Some responsible dude. Failure as a Demon Lord, failure as a father. Beelzebub and En are such cry-babies that it makes you wonder if they’ll ever grow up to be capable leaders of the demon world. You know, just the slightest dislike could send them crying like babies. Get this. Beelzebub is so weak that he can even lose to a bug! Tells you the kind of material for the future of the demon world, eh? Furthermore, the demons are fascinated with certain manmade products and technology. Hilda loves watching her soap opera as with Beelzebub with his Gohan-kun anime. En thinks the 3D graphics of our world’s fighting system is hell of an advanced. Tells you what kind of technology crap they have back in hell, no? Though the Pillar Squad members do look more competent and reliable, it’s hard to say since they hardly have any justified screen time. But I doubt they’re going to be as dumb and farcical once you get to know them. Think about this. How can capable personnel stay loyal to a kid who cries if he doesn’t get what he wants? How can the Demon Lord be so fickle minded? Isn’t there a demon with nastier ambitions overthrow this slacker and bring new order? That’s why don’t you think demons and delinquents are like dumb and dumber? Are they telling us that being bad is stupid? Well, if it’s the motivation needed to get us studying and avoid being delinquents, maybe.

For the action scenes, I guess they are rather okay. Though they don’t last for episodes (unless they are important fights, that will probably last 2 or 3 episodes), what more can you expect to see when delinquents get into a brawl? They just throw mainly punches. Mainly you’ll see Oga powering up his punches with his Zebel Spell and some other combos with Beelzebub. Himekawa has his stun rod, Kanzaki his drop heel kick, Kunieda her Shingetsu style scattering sakura petals whatever sword swing and Tojou just punches and kicks his way through. Hardly any variety, no? The drawing and art is as of today’s conventional Japanese anime and the characters despite having the delinquent look, in anime sense you can consider some to have the bishie look. Especially when Himekawa lets loose his hair. You can’t deny that Oga doesn’t look that all bad, does he? Of course there are some very odd looking character designs. I won’t go so far as to say odd body parts like in One Piece but Shiroyama’s twin braids would definitely raise an eyebrow, no? What about Himekawa’s hairstyle then? Tojou’s sharp spiky hairstyle that could seemingly pop a balloon? Pierrot Plus is the studio responsible for the production of this anime and they have quite a number of famous anime titles under their belt such as Bleach, Naruto and Saiyuki. One thing that you need to put up with throughout the series is Beelzebub’s dangling ‘little buddy’. I’ve said it in my previous blog before but I guess it’s not harm seeing a baby’s little one, right? Remember Crayon Shin-chan? Isn’t anybody bothered that the baby is naked? Heck, it’s more baffling to see a delinquent raising a baby.

The most shocking and surprising seiyuu that I got to know of was Aki Toyosaki as Kunieda. For a very long time ever since I have known her voice, that stereotype of her voicing ditzy and airhead girls like K-ON!’s Yui and Seikon No Qwaser’s Tomo has been stuck in my head ever since. Therefore when she was the serious (initially) Kunieda, I couldn’t recognize her voice at all. You could say I was stunned when I first get to know it was her. Then subsequently when Kunieda became some love struck girl, Aki Toyosaki’s trademark voice was slightly recognizable. I guess it’s not a bad thing for a seiyuu to play a variety of roles instead of playing the same type that will end up an unfortunate stereotype. Miyuki Sawashiro (Shinku in Rozen Maiden) must have the easiest lines as Beelzebub you say? Well, it might be a waste for her to just go “Da buuu~” all the time but try voicing a baby for 5 dozen episodes. Not easy, eh? Her only time she really spoke proper dialogue was when Oga and Beelzebub’s body switched. Haruka Tomatsu as Yuka really ramps it up with her loud and lower voice unlike her squeaky ones like Lala in To Love-Ru and Gruier in Mouretsu Pirates. Other casts include Katsuyuki Konishi as Oga (Kamina in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), Takahiro Mizushima as Furuichi (Rollo in Code Geass R2), Shizuka Itou as Hilda (Haruka in Amagami SS), Tomokazu Sugita as Kanzaki (Gintoki in Gintama), Seirou Ogino as Himekawa (Doon in Sankarea), Tomokazu Seki as Tojou (Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile), Wataru Takagi as Alaindelon (Vander Decken in One Piece), Shinshuu Fuji as Saotome, Sayaka Kinoshita as En (Kaname in Strawberry Panic), Kenji Nomura as Shiroyama (Kugayama in Genshiken), Daisuke Kishio as Natsume (Suginami in Da Capo), Kaori Fukuhara as Lamia (Run in A Channel), Ayahi Takagi as Nene (Noe in True Tears), Aoi Yuuki as Chiaki (Murasaki in Kurenai), Saori Hayami as Isafuyu (Azuki in Bakuman), Shintarou Asanuma as Kazuya (Kazuma in Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi) and Youko Hikasa as Azusa (Mio in K-ON!). As there are many other characters in the series, many of the seiyuus playing secondary roles take on 2 to 3 different minor roles. For example Haruka Tomatsu wasn’t only the voice of Yuka but also Angelica. Unless you have very good ears or know the seiyuu very well, you can’t tell the difference at first try.

With a variety of opening and ending themes, majority of them are rock based which is very fitting for a delinquent themed anime. Dadada as the first opening theme by Group Tamashii kicks things off and sets the tone of this series with its wild rocking. Somehow the opening themes don’t really appeal to me and not even Hajimaru No Wa Sayonara by ON/OFF (2nd opening theme), Hey!!! by FLOW (3rd opening theme) and Only You -Kimi To No Kizuna- by Lc5 (5th opening theme) could make me want to stay and watch the opening. I usually skip it. Baby U by MBLAQ (4th opening theme) feels more like a boy band song though it still had some rock in it. Is it just me but do these groups really have weird names? At least I prefer the ending themes better. My favourite ones include the catchy Tsuyogari by Shoko Nakagawa (2nd ending theme), the lovely Nanairo Namida by Tomato n’ Pine (3rd ending theme) and the infectious disco beat of Shojo Traveler by 9nine (5th ending theme). I somewhat find Answer by no3b (pronounced as No Sleeves) (1st ending theme) to be rather flat so it is my least favourite of the ending themes. With the exception of the 1st and 4th ending credits animation, the rest feels like a space dedicated to Kunieda. Not enough screen time of her or can’t get enough of her? Though the 2nd ending credits animation features Hilda, the art sees Hilda and Kunieda to be quite girly. Pink blushes and lips. Then it becomes quite shoujo-esque for the 3rd ending credits animation. The 5th ending credits animation feels more like the Red Tails girl hanging out together having a blast. Are we watching Beelzebub or Red Tails? The most amusing ending theme and credits animation goes to Papepipu Papipepu Papepipupo by Nozomi Sakaki (4th ending theme). Can you say that tongue twister title fast? So cute that sometimes it feels so annoying. Infectious enough to a point that it makes you want to get up and follow Beelzebub’s strange exercise dance along with his father and underlings. Getting tired aren’t we? I guess this cute piece could be a good dance-cum-exercise music if you’re curious enough to get up from your seat and try. Yeah, the lyrics are even amusing, “Right! Up! Down! Left! Guruguruguruguruguruguruguruguru! Don’t touch me!”. The only thing good about this? Beelzebub wasn’t naked! Hell who knows what that costume is but at least he was fully clothed.

So it doesn’t matter if you are human or a demon because you can still be a good father if you give it your best shot. I think that’s what this series is trying to say. Maybe. There’s this saying that any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad. Oga sure fits that bill, doesn’t he? Also, it is assuring that if demons are bent on destroying our planet, we don’t have to worry that the end is nigh because with half-assed attitude like that, I think hell will crumble first. Besides, if the demons really do destroy mankind, what is left of them to look forward to afterwards? And you know the demons in this anime really love some of the inventions that humans come up with. So it’s like destroying their own future, eh? And to see the Demon Lord having fun like what ordinary human does such as karaoke and playing mahjong, you think it’s ironic that he actually may like mankind after all? Well, in the case that demons really do get serious and want to destroy mankind, all we need to find are badass delinquents to do the job. Hey, they recruited a group of misfit deep core drillers to stop an asteroid for hurtling into Earth, didn’t they? A band of delinquent misfits should be enough to save the world. You don’t need sophisticated weapons, a big army or even a good plan. Just send in the delinquents who will just punch and kick their way through anything. But just to be sure, make sure to find one that has a baby on his back. Either this scene melts your heart or sends shivers down your spine.


December 23, 2012

Tell me. What kind of girls do you like? Pretty? Fair? Tall? Sexy? Big busts? Mmm… That’s normal… What did you say? You like dead girls? WTF? Dead as in the living dead? As in zombies?! What kind of a sicko are you to like zombie girls anyway?! You want to get your brains chewed out by the undead? It doesn’t matter, you say? You like zombie girls and nothing is going to change your mind about it? Forgive me if the last few sentences seem like questions but I guess to each his own. To many of us guys, the ideal girl we would love to have at least should have one of those traits I mentioned above. So for one who have such a weird taste in zombies, would he be considered a deviant? I don’t know any guys who like zombie girls but for one guy in particular in Sankarea, well, he became the first guy in my life to like them.

People, meet Chihiro Furuya. To describe him in a word, he is a zombie lover. Okay, make that two words. He loves those undead creatures so much that seasoned horror movie goers are like babies in comparison. Anything that has to do with zombies, he loves them. Look at his room filled with zombie memorabilia. And he is the son of a temple priest… He even dreams of having a zombie girlfriend and kissing her! I know. But that’s not really impossible in the first place, right? Good thing he knows how to differentiate between reality and fantasy but it doesn’t hurt to keep on dreaming, right? But one day Chihiro may get his wish come true when the daughter of the wealthy and noble family, Rea Sanka in a twist of events commits suicide and is somewhat resurrected. Now Chihiro has to take responsibility of sheltering her and also find a way to preserve her decaying body without raising the alarm bells. Imagine the chaos if you are found to be harbouring a zombie in your room.

Episode 0
Actually this special episode came out after 3/4 of the series. I started off the series by watching this episode first, which is a flashback episode that entails the events that happened 7 months ago before the fated meeting between Chihiro and Rea. It opens with Rea’s overprotective father, Danichirou taking nude photographs of her daughter. He calls it love. From this very first moment, you’ll know he is the character whom you want to hate so bad. Those three moles on his forehead doesn’t make him Buddha or some North Star thingy but a villain psychopath that everybody wants to shoot down worse than a zombie. Meanwhile, Chihiro reluctantly follows his father Doon, sister Mero and cousin Ranko Saouji (whom Chihiro is always calling Wanko – dog) to Tohoku to sort out some huge library collection belonging to Doon’s brother and donate this vast collection of to the community archive. There is also talk about their late mother Yuzuna whom Doon refrains from speaking about. She was loved and kind. That’s all they need to know. She was gone a very long time ago so the kids don’t quite remember her. Meanwhile Rea gets abused by her drunk mother, Aria. She thinks her daughter is getting all the attention from dad and is acting like the victim whereas she gets none. So what does she want Rea to do? Die. Second character to be noted on the hate list. Chihiro and the rest start cleaning up the archive. Let’s say it’s going to take time because the books are piled up to the ceiling! Book lovers’ paradise if not for some of them to be very old and fragile. Chihiro is a zombie lover as expected doesn’t have the necessary stamina to clean up. The girls even put him to shame but he isn’t bothered. So remember, watching too much zombie movies and not getting the necessary workout could lead to very poor stamina levels.

While resting, Chihiro spots a picture of his mother in one of the books. The wind blows it off his hand and into a hole on the wooden floor. Reaching his hand to retrieve a box, he finds a book on resurrection. Talking to his uncle, he analyzes the book is not of any worth and thinks someone wrote it as a prank. Rea is considering Aria’s words if she would be really happy if she disappeared but her head is in too much pain from last night’s hangover. As reward for helping cleaning out the books, uncle tells them about some beautiful waterfall nearby and they can get there via walking. Chihiro didn’t want to go but since they can’t leave the girls going by themselves, he is forced to be a man. I think he preferred to be a zombie. Besides, I figure Chihiro will be the one who will need the saving. While walking, Chihiro was reading that resurrection book that he didn’t pay attention when the road forks itself into two. Needless to say, he got separated from the girls by the time he realized it. He enters the hotspring area and soaks his legs. Little does he know, Rea is bathing in it. Thanks to the mist, they can’t see each other. Till their hands meet. Rea starts attacking him with a stick but he makes a run for it. In the end when they leave, only Chihiro didn’t get to see the waterfall. Yeah, it must be so worthwhile for the girls. Chihiro is still intrigued with the resurrection book in hand. He notes whenever he thinks of this trip, faint memories of his mother come to mind. Meanwhile Rea approaches a well and lets out her scream of frustration.

Episode 1
The series proper begins with Rea shouting down the well as Chihiro in a nearby abandoned building as the sole witness. We are also introduced to Chihiro’s obsession with zombies, his family members that also include his senile grandpa Jogorou and pet cat Babu. One day Babu died in a truck accident and that was the first time he felt a loss of his family member (remember, his mom died so long ago he barely remembers her). It made him realize how fragile and fleeting life was. He became desperate. Remembering the book of resurrection he took back from Tohoku, despite the contents with loads of rubbish, he decides to give it a shot. What is he going to lose anyway? So he tries mixing several ingredients to concoct a potion but no desired results yielded. Also, the sight of Rea’s nightly visit to the place. On his way to school, he learns from his perverted loser friend, Yasutaka and quiet buddy Mogi about Sanka Girls’ Academy. The newly enrolled girl of the school is Rea and what a beauty she is. Especially when she is the daughter of the director of the school. Forget it Yasutaka. She’s out of your league. Untouchable. Back home, Chihiro gets a rude awakening by Ranko making her usual visit. You can tell this childhood friend has a crush on him. But because of his zombie obsession, you know why lah. I think she coming here to return and borrow his zombie videos is just an excuse to see him.

Back to his resurrection experiment, there is one page which is blurred out. The page that needs him to mix some poisonous herb for the concoction. So it’s trial and error. Then here we go again. Rea walks up to the well. Yells “I want to be free!”. Some drama for Chihiro. Till he heard her say something about her father taking nude photos of her. So surprised that he dropped his ‘film refreshment’ and this alerts Rea. Embarrassed, she wants him not to tell anybody about this. In fact, she feels like dying and want to reborn as a different person. Yeah, rich people have it tough as what Chihiro understands. Rea also learns about his resurrection experiment. He knows he is selfish to wake Babu up from his peaceful slumber but can’t help it. He wants to see him move again. Rea supports his idea as her father a neat freak won’t even allow her to keep pets. Chihiro then says since Rea mentioned she wanted to die, maybe he could test this potion on her and turn her into a zombie. Just kidding! Rea dismisses she has dated in her life before so Chihiro also explains he has no interests in living woman. This prompts Rea to ask if she becomes a zombie, he’ll take responsibility of her. Well, he’s thinking about it. Well, that enthusiasm on her face doesn’t look good.

Episode 2
After 5 days, Babu still remains a corpse. After this, Chihiro might just give up or give Rea eat its corpse! Just joking! Rea thinks she knows what other poisonous herb is missing and goes to get them. Rea narrates her father’s extreme love. She had lots of maids took care of her but the slightest blooper even if it’s not their fault, that maid is never seen again. When Rea was young, she never realized the harm in getting pictures of her nude body taken. It was only when she grew older that she realized something was wrong. Even at school she always felt the presence of her father’s subordinate. Juri Nakadai was the girl she considered her first friend allowed since her family was quite respectable. She thought everything would be alright till she confide in her about the nude photos. Her friend viewed it as wrong and should speak up. After all, Juri often quarrelled with her father so it’s normal. This was something that she would later come to regret. When she tells father about it, he tries to brainwash her it is the kind of love that nobody else will understand. She isn’t convinced. Knowing that somebody had ‘poisoned’ her mind, Danichirou made his move. Soon Juri’s family faces lots of hardship even though they didn’t know what they do wrong and is forced to move. Juri blames Rea for everything, thinking she had offended her or something and parted ways. Her last words were she shouldn’t have become her friend. Danichirou continues his pure love for Rea taking nude photos for her as Rea resigns herself to hold it in if it means preventing someone else suffering from it.

Chihiro wonders Rea is taking too long and sees her trying to climb down a cliff dangerously. He manages to pull her back up before she slips. She’s not worried because he’ll resurrect her, right? If the potion works. The flower she had taken is hydrangea. There are lots of them blooming around her house as this flower is also her family’s crest. Chihiro finishes mixing and pours it down Babu’s throat. Nothing happens. I guess that’s it. End of experiment. Noticing Rea had sprained her ankle from that slip, he decides to offer her a ride home. He should be more tact in carrying a lady like that. Rea thinks to herself how she yearns to be a normal girl and laugh with everyone. That’s why she wants to be reborn again. At the bottom of the hill, Rea wants Chihiro to drop him off here since she will be using a shortcut up back to her mansion. It’ll be bad if her father finds out about this. Yeah, you don’t know how scary he is. Little did Rea know, her father has spotted them via his binoculars from his room. Chihiro goes home and didn’t expect Ranko to be at his place. She gets suspicious over his activities. I mean, why did he buy packs of ice for? Then she opens the box that contains Babu’s corpse and suddenly Babu jumps out and flies into the night sky!!! What just happened?! Rea is in her room and she couldn’t take anymore of this. She’d rather die than live in a cage. She had stolen a small ounce of the potion and even though she knows the resurrection won’t work, at least the poison is enough to kill her. She swallows it.

Episode 3
Morning comes and Rea wakes up. I guess the poison didn’t work either. Well. Back to life. Back to hell. Aria chides Rea for going out so late because it would damage her reputation. Danichirou tells her to stop yelling at Rea so she leaves. Rea continues to be submissive to her father, much to his delight. When the butler comes in, Rea is prompted to leave. But she eavesdrops and hears the butler telling Danichirou about the boy Rea was with last night. The only answer for Chihiro: Castrate him! Oh sh*t! Meanwhile Chihiro is trying to get Babu down from tree. He’s so happy Babu is back from the dead. I’m not sure if Ranko is convinced. Mero is unmoved because she has long accepted her brother is a zombie loving pervert! When Jogorou asks about the commotion, Mero tells him Chihiro adopted a cat that looked like Babu and claimed he resurrected it. Grandpa only heard the resurrected line and got excited. Chihiro and Ranko follow Babu walking throughout the city. I think Ranko’s waist was too big so she got stuck in the middle of a drain! Chihiro left her stuck there just to go after Babu! Elsewhere Yasutaka is lamenting his loser problems to Mogi when never in his wildest dreams Rea appears before him! Unfortunately she is asking about Chihiro. That lucky bastard! Of all people, why him?! She needs to warn him about the castration. Eh? Do such words ever leave such a lady’s mouth? Anyway she leaves but unknown to her the butler is watching her every move and reporting to Danichirou. Chihiro follows Babu to the bottom of the cliff filled with hydrangea and sees the cat chewing on its leaves. Rea is walking precariously on the narrow strip of path on the cliff’s top when to her surprise Danichirou and his butler pop up. He wants her to come home but she slaps his hand away. She summons enough courage to ask father to give her freedom. What freedom? Freedom to leave the house? Freedom to love? Knowing she just wants to go see Chihiro, he forcefully drags her home. Suddenly Babu appears and the sight of this filthy cat shocks him. Rea is delighted to see Babu resurrected but her father tries to whip it away. As Rea protects Babu, she accidentally falls off the cliff. Oh no! Halfway down, he body got pierced by a tree! Oh sh*t! OUCH! Chihiro had seen everything and hopes this is not a bad joke. Come back to life! Come back! Oh. He got his wish. Rea stands back up! No way! The effect was still there although she drank the potion some time ago. So Chihiro. Remember your promise about taking responsibility?

Episode 4
Danichirou thanks God for this miracle. But Rea told him she has been reborn. She is no longer human. Shocking, no? Aria confronts him after hearing the maids talk about Rea. He is in a daze. Her daughter died, stood back up and left him. All Aria care about is if this word gets out, her position as the school’s chairman is in jeopardy. Realizing Rea may have gone with Chihiro, Danichirou labels him as the source of evil and will free Rea with his pure love. Thanks to her stitching classes, Rea is able to stitch back her own wound! A perk of being a zombie is that she feels no pain. So she’s bumming around in his room. He doesn’t know what to make of this. Should he be happy? Should he be worried? Should she act more like a zombie? Basically her idea of him taking care of her is to let her experience a normal girl’s life she never had. Going to the summer festival should be a nice start. Suddenly Ranko’s voice is heard outside his window. She’s going to make him pay for ditching her in the drain this morning. He doesn’t want her up his room. Better let her know it’s porn that Rea. Chihiro talks to Ranko at the river bank and about Babu’s fate. Then he gets another annoyance he could do less off. Yeah, Yasutaka is not happy. Or so it seems. He wants Chihiro the God to introduce him to Rea. Then it hit Chihiro that Rea had become the zombie girl he had always wanted. Rea decides to go take a shower but didn’t count on Jogorou coming in. He thinks Sada has come back to him and starts glomping her! Rea runs away in time before she gets molested. Mero comes back and learns from happy grandpa that Sada is back from the dead. Mero reminds him grandma’s name is Kiyo. Oh hell… Suddenly the old man doesn’t know what he’s doing in the first place. When Chihiro gets back, he sees Rea sprawled all over the floor only clad in a towel. Zombies don’t catch a cold. They don’t get stomach pains either. He is ecstatic with his dream coming true. Actually Rea points out she can’t move. She feels her body has hardened. Chihiro fears something is wrong and touches her body. Though Rea is full of life, he never noticed her body is dead. This means her flesh is naturally rotting away. In a month, she’ll be all bones. He must do something to preserve her body. Or else how can he let her experience a normal girl’s life, right?

Episode 5
Chihiro asks Mero about the book of preservation she had. Unfortunately she lent it to a friend. He turns on the air-cond in his room to full power and since he can’t leave her lying on his bed, he moves her to the closet. Do zombies weight this heavy? Or is it just Rea? Oh wait! Chihiro lacks physical stamina. Ranko meets a friend of hers who is worried about Rea because she hasn’t been attending school for the past few days. She shows her pictures of Rea whom every first year knows and the idol that she is being worshipped to some. Ranko learns that something must have happened to Rea since she heard from her friend that the maids in the house are panicking. Chihiro is helping to clean the temple as Doon asks him about the taking in another cat right after Babu’s death. Chihiro dismisses it and this is the real Babu himself and got grandpa’s support to back him up. Grandpa starts laughing that the resurrection medicine he made had Babu and Sada resurrected. Yeah, who the hell is Sada? Chihiro is suddenly interested in the resurrection medicine but grandpa loses his memory on what he was talking about. It made Chihiro think that if grandpa really made it, then he might know something about preserving corpses too. Mero wants to clean his room so Chihiro had to lie he loves cleaning and will do it himself. Ranko comes by for her usual delivery. Then she relays the news that Rea is missing. It could be a problem because her family is one the temple’s regulars. Ranko then cooks up a story that she may have eloped in a forbidden love and turned into a zombie. Ranko leaves but remembers the need to borrow a zombie movie. She lets herself in to Chihiro’s room to browse. Finding the room very cold, she also finds a long strand of black hair. She opens the closet but doesn’t find anything. Don’t look up because Rea is on the ceiling! CREEPY!!! Too late! Rea attacks and drops on her. In a state of shock, Rea proceeds to molest Ranko’s delicious boobs and rip her shirt apart! Then she licks them! Are zombies perverts? The familiar scream has Chihiro rushing all the way back to his room and sees Ranko being violated by a zombie! Then Rea jumps onto Chihiro and in the process, kisses him. That’s another wish come true for him.

Episode 6
Just as Ranko suspected and feared, Chihiro is keeping Rea in his room and since he refused to let her see a doctor means she must be a zombie. Ranko accuses him for being a murderer and would go this far to make his zombie girlfriend come true! She’s going to call the police! But save that for latter because Rea is acting strange. They see her crawl out on the rooftop to follow Babu. Chihiro wants Ranko to go get Jogorou who is in the bath now. Chihiro follows Rea and is surprised to see the girl and cat eating hydrangea leaves over the fence. He notices life coming back to her eyes and realizes the hydrangea’s poison extends the effects. Ranko manages to get Jogorou (not after a series of molestation) and he explains about the potion that if a zombie is left alone after giving the potion, it will gradually fade away till it becomes a corpse again. Things he needs to do to preserve the body include regular exercise, low temperatures and regular doses of hydrangea leaves (Ranko’s molestation continues). Then he notes that although the decay can be delayed, it cannot be stopped. Just when he is about to get to the important part, Ranko whacks him and turns him back to the senile old man. Bummer. Doon sees Rea and realizes she is that missing girl. Chihiro pleads for him to allow her to live here though he can’t explain the details. Doon agrees because for the first time he has decided to take responsibility for something other than zombies. Plus, this temple used to be a refuge in the past and he has no reasons to stop him. So with that permission, Rea doesn’t need to hide anymore. Does this mean they’ve been living secretly? Oops. This doesn’t sit well with Ranko despite her putting up her usual tomboy moves on Chihiro and calling him a skirt chaser. So Chihiro starts making his observation diary to preserve Rea. He lets her use his room while he camps outside. Seems Rea has no recollection of the kiss. She also has her mental limiters shut off, which means she is stronger than an ordinary human. Chihiro proceeds to record every second of Rea. Like a stalker. I think he’s enjoying it. Knowing Rea can’t eat food, at least he can fake it and make it seem like she is eating by taking the food up to the room. Ranko brings some clothes over for Rea. Chihiro also observes that Rea and Babu might still be the same inside, they’re still no longer living beings. Taking Rea out for a night walk (to exercise), he continues observing how the world doesn’t know that a zombie is walking among them. It’s just like an everyday life. Rea is grateful to Chihiro because if not for him, she wouldn’t have been free. But the problem now is to stop the decay. Since he is thinking too much, he didn’t look before crossing the road. He could’ve been roadkill like Babu had Rea not pull him back. But too strong she pulled him that he was flung into a tree. Seeing his bruised elbow, she licks it. Does it hurt? Of course. But a zombie girl licking it…

Episode 7
We take a breather from the living boy and zombie girl as this episode is about Ranko and her relationship with Chihiro. Her family runs an inn and she helps out. Sometimes Chihiro comes to help in the kitchen and her mother would tease them like the perfect couple they look. She even encourages them to go for it if there’s a chance! Further flashback reveals she first met Chihiro when she was young and lost at a grave while her family was holidaying here. It was love at first sight. Her prince charming. Soon Doon introduced Chihiro and she promised to befriend him. She found out his love for zombies and would prefer to stick indoors watching them rather than going out. The only way is to turn off the video and force him out. Along the way, a couple of boys start picking on Chihiro and made him cry! It dawned to Ranko that the prince she envisioned turned out to be a zombie lover-cum-cry-baby. By the time she was to go home, she was over with him. Back in reality as Chihiro is forced to help Ranko with her delivery, Yasutaka the eternal loser once more blows his top to see them ‘dating’. He laments all the girls always flock to him despite himself declaring so proud of being a pervert. Maybe that’s why the girls stay away from him. The flashback continues with Ranko narrating it was not only 2 years later she saw Chihiro again. Her family moved to this town to open an inn. Though she had gotten over her crush, she wanted to be a good playmate. He still hadn’t given up his zombie obsession and her mom had a soft spot for him. This only made her depressed. One day accompanying Chihiro to get a movie (guess what genre he got?), they end up arguing what kind of movies they like. She takes the video and wants to exchange it for another one. Along the way, a giant black dog growls fiercely at her. Chihiro was scared but he picked up a metal pipe and started swinging to scare the dog away. It was when her love for him rekindled. Asking him the kind of girls he wants to kiss, guess his answer? He wants to smooch a zombie girl! Back in reality as the duo finish up their delivery, Chihiro is going to part when Ranko pins him to the wall! What is she going to do?! Seems like she is going to kiss him but backs out. She runs away and couldn’t get the scene of Rea kissing him out of her head. At the hilltop, she yells at the top of her lungs she won’t lose out. Living girl versus zombie girl. The odds are heavily stacked on her.

Episode 8
Though Rea joins the family at the dinner table, but can Chihiro stop filming her? It’s rude and invasion of privacy! Even zombies have a right to privacy! We hear more of his observations that she doesn’t need to use the toilet (good news for men, eh?) and how he is expecting to cough up hydrangea leave balls like Babu did after every munch. No such hope. In exchange to film her, she wants him to take her out shopping. I guess he is fine since she’s a zombie. Meanwhile Ranko’s heart is unsettled. She can’t help think she’ll lose Chihiro to that zombie girl. But no over fretting over it now as she joins Mero and her friends in another bath. Unknown to Chihiro and Rea, Danichirou has sent 3 guys to observe them. When the time is right, they will kidnap Rea once she is alone. Danichirou comments that Rea thinks she may have attained freedom but that freedom is fake. She will have her come back to him and teach her the true meaning of freedom. In the haunted house, it is ironic to see Chihiro scared of ghosts! WTF?! Even Rea is faring better and commenting and the stitching. WTF?! While taking a break, Rea is so happy Chihiro is taking care of her that she is close to tears. If only she had tears. He thought he knew everything there is about a zombie, eh? You learn something new every day. When Chihiro leaves to get something to eat, suddenly the perpetrators make their move. Oh wait. It’s Yasutaka. His annoying loser personality is kicking up as he tries to make Rea go out with him. Danichirou’s men decide to wait and see what follows. Rea can’t go out into the direct sunlight so the underlings think this is now or never. In a slick cooperative move, two of them grab Rea while the other one knocks out Yasutaka. He didn’t know what hit him. But Rea fights back and her supernatural strength means the perpetrators are unable to keep a hold on to her. She is swinging the bench chair around in panic! Chihiro rushes to the commotion only to see things have died down and she thanking him for coming to her rescue. What did he do? But the baddies aren’t out yet. Change of plans. They bundle Chihiro into their car instead. They report about the blunder to Danichirou and thought of dropping him somewhere to try and retrieve Rea again. But he wants the boy brought to him. He is going to settle this once and for all.

Episode 9
We take a break from that kidnap to bring to you an episode on Mero now! The events happen right after her brother takes in Rea. In class, Mero is part of a 3-member Occult Club with Ichie Shinoda and Miko Yasaka as the other members. Ichie is excited to go find more zombies after reading reports on its sightings. Miko points out they already have one: Mero. Haha! That’s a good one. I mean, she wants to uncover a real zombie. They think their art teacher Mizuki Yamanouchi is suspicious. Ichie saw her feeding something that moved in her bag and there’s blood dripping from her mouth too. They’re going to find evidence she’s a zombie. So as they hide in the art room and wait for her arrival, I guess the ‘horrifying’ sight gave them away. It is revealed that she was feeding her pet crocodile with liver. Worried it might escape while home alone, that’s why she brought it to school and feed it after school hours. Since the liver she cooked looked delicious, she can’t help try some and got food poisoning (this describes her weight loss). With her case a ‘solved’, Miko tells something interesting. One day on her way home, she smelled something like boiled corpse. She followed the smell which leads her to a couple’s house and saw them boiling body parts! But it turns out the couple were experimenting to make a new recipe for his ramen menu using pig bones. The corpse smell was the garbage from the ingredients they used. Despite the ramen reeking with corpse smell, it tastes very good! Surprise, surprise. Hey, wait. There’s no zombie in this story! Yeah, Miko thought the ramen tasted better than zombies. Now it’s Mero’s turn. She points out a real zombie is living in her house. Ichie is excited but after describing non-zombie-like traits (zombies are vegetarians because they eat hydrangea leaves?), Ichie realizes she might have been fooled because the ‘zombie’ may be her brother’s delusions. So much for that. Oh, you don’t know it’s just right under your nose. Ichie accidentally brings up the topic of her mother so this has Mero remember the only thing about her. Her bandaged hands were very cold. Mero is praying at her mother’s grave when Rea comes by. She praises Mero for doing a good job taking care of things. Well, if the men in her household were more responsible, she’d had it easy. Rea offers to help and this scene reminds Mero of her mother. She looks so much like her. Mero flusters and her face all red. Rea wonders what is wrong and touches her forehead. The cold feeling of her hands felt like her mother’s! In that moment, Mero blurted out “Mama”. She realized what she’s doing and got embarrassed. While running away, she tripped and bruised herself. She lets Rea treat her. Next day when she shows a picture of beautiful Rea as the zombie to her friends, Ichie really feels she has been bamboozled. How can zombies be this beautiful?! But for Mero, she felt something of her mother in Rea.

Episode 10
Chihiro is tied up in a room in Danichirou’s mansion. The maid was polite to tell him she had orders not to free him. Aria comes in and talks bad about her daughter. Now she’s a zombie, she reeks more, eh? How can a mother talk like this about her daughter? On the contrary, Rea is not her daughter and she has not given birth her life. This means Aria is Danichirou’s second wife and Rea is the child from his first. Now it’s time for some back story. All the maids were once hired to be Danichirou’s potential wife. Each of them had their pedigree and education so not every woman who wants to work here can simply become one. Aria was one of these maids too. Aria became a maid when Danichirou was a graduate student. All the maids tried to appeal to him but were never successful. Thoughts that he wasn’t interested in women even surfaced but Aria didn’t give up because no men have resisted her charms. So she worked hard and paid detail to his needs and slowly he began calling her more often. But in the end, he was not swayed by her too. One day they had a fencing event in the mansion for a community service where all the disabled in the area were invited. Danichirou was a participant and naturally won. However he was not happy with the easy win it’s like as though they purposely lost. Well, the Sanka family contributed lots to the fencing association so it was a foregone conclusion he would win the competition every year. Till he met this wheelchair girl who mentions it is a sin to show disrespect. Even if the match was fixed, as long as he practiced, the efforts he put in were real. He was struck with her words and soon proposed to that 15 year old. Of course this was met with lots of objection from his family because she’s a commoner. However Danichirou will forgo his inheritance to marry her. They continue to protest but he threatens them that anymore of this, they will incur his wrath. After leaving them speechless, he married her.

Soon after Rea was born, she died. He sank into depression. So bad that he looked like a living zombie. Aria continued to take care of him till he recovered. Then at last, she thought he won over him when he married her. But after years of marriage, Danichirou never looked at her as a woman. The marriage was because he thought Rea needed a mother figure. But even that was unnecessary as he was the one attending to Rea’s every need. She could only watch from a distance. One day the butler tells Aria it is time to give up pursuing for Danichirou’s attention. Through a secret hole in the wall, he lets her peep the hideous act of Danichirou taking photos of naked Rea. I guess that’s when she lost it. In the end Danichirou kept doting on that girl while longing for her mother so how can Rea be Aria’s mother? Aria tries to seduce Chihiro with her body, trying to convince him that this is way better than a zombie. Too bad madam, he’s only interested in zombie girls. And that’s a fact. Aria breaks down that nobody gives her any attention. Somehow Babu manages to get in the room and she thought this cat loves her. Till Chihiro points out it’s a zombie. Get away! The maid wheels Chihiro away to Danichirou while Aria is left to envy him. He’s actually paying attention to him while she received none. I guess the need-to-go-to-the-toilet trick won’t work because the maid will gladly clean up where he does his business. In the room filled with pictures of Rea, Chihiro comes face to face with the mad man himself. Danichirou thanks him for everything because of that, his desire to protect Rea burns stronger now. But yet, he won’t forgive him. This is a fine mess he’s gotten into, eh? Rea hails a taxi to rush back to her mansion while Yasutaka is still out cold.

Episode 11
When Rea enters her home, the maids tell her under Danichirou’s orders, they can’t let her see him. Then they capture her and tie her up. Much to Rea’s dismay, the maids are having fun putting on cosplay costumes on her! So cute! She has had enough of it and breaks out from her chains. Chihiro is wheeled into the fencing dojo where they will settle to see who gets custody over Rea. Since Chihiro doesn’t know how to fence, Danichirou gives him the freedom to use any sword or any martial arts stance. He doesn’t even know a single one. So why does Rea want to be with a man who lacks any talent and skill? Suddenly Chihiro takes off his helmet and starts laughing. He’s pretty bold to start mocking Danichirou! At least he’s got the balls to do it! He tells him this custody battle is futile and for him to take nude pictures of his daughter, he is just a creep. No wonder she wants to run away. Instead of seeing who can protect her, they should worry what Rea wants. Rea has the right to decide on her own life (despite she’s undead now). He points out he is more interested in restraining than protecting her. The last straw came when Chihiro mentions it must be hard on Rea to be treated as his wife’s replacement. Danichirou is so mad that he trusts his epee through Chihiro’s chest! Danichirou reminds him he has the power to erase his existence and has underestimated him. Rea is horrified to see this scene. But even horrifying is Chihiro head butts Danichirou! Hey wait a minute. Shouldn’t Chihiro be dead after getting stabbed? Maybe his excitement in seeing Rea in a bunny outfit lessens the pain? After all, a zombie in a bunny outfit is a combo he had never imagined before! But seriously why is he still alive. Thinking back, he realized Rea’s hydrangea poison is still inside him. Remember the incident she licked his wound? Yeah, he proclaims himself as a half zombie!

Danichirou is about to slice off his head but is stopped by Rea. If he insists on fighting, she will be his opponent. Danichirou is shell shocked since he is only doing this to protect her. He only wished for her condition to be cured. He suggests moving to America as he has made the necessary preparations and have hired the best doctors and researches that will cure her. Plus, how can a foolish boy with no knowledge or wealth save her? But Rea is fine with her condition. If they need to leave town to be cured, she’d rather stay. Even if it’s just a short time, as long she can stay with Chihiro she’ll be satisfied. Danichirou still can’t believe this so Chihiro tells him straight that all Rea wants is not to be special but to be normal. How many of Rea’s wishes has he granted? Thinking back, none actually. Danichirou realizes he is at fault, the reason she died to achieve this. Chihiro admits his shortcomings and also wants his help to make Rea stay a little longer. Danichirou asks Rea if she won’t regret this and she answers with confidence she won’t. With this, he entrusts Rea to Chihiro’s care. Say what? But only for the time he is overseas to find a cure for her condition. He warns him about stripping Rea of her innocence and Chihiro assures he won’t do something like that. Then Chihiro collapses as the effects of the poison wear out. Now he’s bleeding like mad. After Danichirou leaves for overseas, Chihiro wakes up in his room. Alive. Alive as in the living. He’s not a zombie. Thanks to the maids, Chihiro’s life is saved. They also made Rea wear a nurse outfit because they believe it will make Chihiro happy. He is, right? Ranko comes in worried and notices Rea. She makes her first introduction to her. And she is Chihiro’s fiancee. What?! Chihiro doesn’t remember making such a childhood promise. Apparently during elementary school she asked him to be his fiancee. Because he doesn’t know what that is, he agreed. Really? Just joking! That really made your heart jumped out through your throat, eh? With Ranko getting her usual physical on Chihiro, Rea realizes that she is in love with him.

Episode 12
Feels like a drama filler to tone things down in this episode finale. Chihiro must be feeling the burden of responsibility, eh? How do you exactly take care of a zombie? The only person he can rely on his grandpa but that guy is always out of his mind most of the time. Heck, make that all the time. During meals, Mero tried making her dish with nothing but hydrangea. Hey, she’s ‘vegetarian’. Then Mero starts hitting the hard questions for Chihiro. Is Rea going to school? Is she going to stay here indefinitely? I’m sure Chihiro is finding a tough time trying to answer that without giving too much away. Health problems? Yeah. She’s dead. The fireworks festival that Rea wanted to go so much got cancelled due to the rain. So Chihiro got this idea that they should hold their own fireworks festival. Ranko has a spare yukata that she can lend her. Oh. Just the word of Ranko (and that girl is coming too), sends uneasy vibes to Rea. Even dead people have heart feelings. Do they? So Ranko comes and helps Rea put on the yukata. They have a little girl to girl chat. Ranko knows Chihiro is doing this to make Rea happy because that kid was never interested to go on any festivals she invited him. Then they talk about Rea’s uncertain fate. How long will she last like this? Where will she go?

Of course, these girls can’t have a conversation if they don’t put in Chihiro as the topic. Romance wise, that is. Rea seems conservative and don’t mind Ranko hogging Chihiro all to herself just to be considerate. She’s comparing herself she’s not as close as her and he’s only paying attention because she’s a zombie. So Ranko tells her that they’re rivals and since she’s a girl, she needs to live every day to the fullest. No holding back. Live life to the fullest. There’s only 1 problem. She’s dead. Oh, the irony! Though Ranko won’t lose, she also doesn’t want Rea to give up and do her best. The mini fireworks went by without a hitch. Rea soon returns to her own home to get her belongings since she has decided to return to school. Aria is informed of her return and confronts Rea. So what’s her problem now? Danichirou told her not to do anything. So don’t worry, Rea won’t get expelled or anything. This means Aria won’t even look after, care or give a damn what happens to her. Rea is okay. She is prepared for the worst. And so just like that, they part. Rea walks with Chihiro to the abandoned building. Must be her new place to live. Perhaps fitting for a zombie girl? He gets frank with her that he wants her to stay this way as long as possible. She too gets frank and wants to make the most of her life. I think she borrowed most of the lines from Ranko. As Chihiro start ranting away, Rea somewhat falls into a zombie trance and jumps onto him! And bites his lips! Are zombies vampires too? At that moment he felt like he shared all his happiness and sorrow with her.

It’s… Alive!!!
Not one of the best endings but I guess it can’t be helped. What else more is there to the story once the main ‘antagonist’ is ‘defeated’. For now. The only real challenge left is to preserve Rea for who knows when the decaying will intensify. But we’ll leave that horror thought for another day. So basically what I figured is that this story is just about a girl who wants to be ordinary and a guy who really gets his dream to come true. What we mostly see here is their daily lives, drama and the interaction with each other. Nothing more. We get a slight peek into their past and some of the other supporting characters but that’s about it. At least this series breaks the typical conventional of what zombies should look and behave. Yeah, they aren’t mindless hideous dead people with rotting flesh out for your brains. Too much Hollywood could make one stereotype against zombies. They have feelings too, you know. Do they? I’m sure we could play a host of dead idioms like drop dead or wouldn’t be caught dead with or half dead but it won’t be so nice speaking ill of the dead. Dead on.

Chihiro as the main protagonist isn’t your typical knight in shining armour. Saying that he is too ordinary wouldn’t be accurate because of his obsession with zombies. He just doesn’t mingle with the rest of society and could easily been labelled an outcast. Would he care about that? Plus, Chihiro isn’t really that nice of a kid. I mean, as we see it the only reason why he is housing Rea and taking responsibility of her is because she is a zombie. That’s her only merit to him. If she was a living being, I don’t think he would have really cared about her. Sure, initially when they first met at the abandoned building, he was ‘kind’ enough to listen to her, talk to her but I think that’s about it. He’s just there and it’s not like he is a cold-hearted bastard with no reason to chase her away so just let her be. But I would also like to believe that Chihiro really does care for her as a human, a living being. When he talked back against Danichirou about Rea, I am pretty sure he was standing up for her as Rea a person, a girl, and not a zombie. Of course being a zombie is what made him go the extra length for her. Otherwise if you observed, he really doesn’t pay too much heed to Mero or Ranko. One thing strange about Chihiro is during comical or surprised scenes, though this is intentional, the drawing and art of his face reminds me like Bakemonogatari’s Koyomi Araragi. I thought they had a striking similarity there. Even some of the visual styles and close-ups resemble close to SHAFT’s trademark but I guess it’s okay for Studio Deen to have a variety of them. At least they didn’t clutter the screen with unnecessary texts.

Ironically for Rea, she was ‘dead’ while alive and when she died she become more alive. While she was still breathing like a human being, she was like a caged bird with no liberty and only experienced true freedom when she was reborn a second time. She has Chihiro to thank for. But sometimes I wondered even if she is experiencing the normal life now, is she truly living one? Because normal high school girls aren’t dead. And as pointed out, she lost some sensations since her nerves under her skin are dead. So how can she really feel them? I don’t know but at least it’s the closest thing she’ll ever get to go through since she never had a chance whenever her father was around. Danichirou is a character that everyone will definitely would like to pick a bone with. Just like how he deems others cannot understand his pure love for Rea, we too cannot comprehend his twisted version of love. It might feel that he is making Rea as a substitute for his first wife but going so far to the extent of taking nude photos? At least he doesn’t post them on Facebook or YouTube. Thank God. Still, that act of his makes him no greater than a paedophile. What more, his own daughter. I know (decent) parents are always concerned about their children but I’m not sure about his over-protectiveness over Rea. What was he trying to protect her from? As Chihiro pointed out, it felt more like he is restraining her. From what? The outside world? Should’ve gone to live on an uninhabited island. It’s good that he finally realized but I get a feeling he won’t come back soon or anytime because there is no cure for zombies! Good luck travelling the world for the rest of his life and thus giving Rea the freedom she always wanted. Now Chihiro has got a problem of taking care of her to his grave. Just who will outlast who? Aria is also another despicable character. Despite the flashback to understand how she turned out to be such a heartless woman, even though you pity her for what she went through, I feel it is still very wrong for her to take it out on Rea who has nothing to do with it. She tried to woo Danichirou and ended up getting ignored. It’s like she’s like a ghost in the mansion. After all, what is there to do when you’re the wife of a filthy rich husband. Drink and get drunk the whole day. That’s the path she chose. She could’ve been someone who guided Rea and maybe both the girls will end up opening Danichirou’s eyes. Instead I guess she was just selfish from the start, from the time she joined as part of the maids.

The other minor characters seem to be rather okay but they don’t really impact much in the storyline. For instance Mero is so monotonous and lack of any emotion that she just might be a living zombie in the family. I don’t know if she was born like this or something traumatic happened that caused her to become like that (I doubt it’s her mom’s death because she died when the kids were too young to remember and understand) but there was one point Mero did show a gust of emotions. So she’s not that all ‘dead’ either. She too has a weird habit. Like for instance, I notice her sleeping pyjamas are like those of dead spirits. Maybe she’s into this sort of thing. Doon is a tolerating father and my guess why Chihiro is able to keep Rea’s zombie as a secret well isn’t because his father and sister don’t really care about him but because they’re family, they have this bond and trust within each other. After all, Chihiro isn’t harbouring an evil spirit, right? Is Rea one? Ranko adds spice and liveliness to the otherwise mundane temple family and some love rivalry. Unless some drastic change happens to Chihiro, we know Rea has the upper-hand in stealing Chihiro’s heart. Yasutaka… He’s an idiot. Now we know that living and dead girls don’t want to be his girlfriend. Haha!

The most amusing character in this series has got to be Jogorou. Agree? This little old man is really senile. You got to love him partly because of his forgetfulness. Each time during dinner, he would shriek in horror some kind of weird food he dislikes in his bowl. Each time Mero would coolly retort it is not what he thinks and it’s so and so. He realizes his mistake and calms down. It won’t be long (not even 5 seconds) before his forgetfulness takes place and repeats what he says. The cycle goes on… Just funny, don’t you think? He is like a cue for comical relief and his face and skin tone makes him look like a zombie too… And who the hell is Sada? Must be some other woman he was in love with other than grandma, eh? Whether Jogorou really made the resurrection medicine or just part of his senile mind is another matter. As for Chihiro and Mero’s mother, though it is not clearly explained, I have a hunch that she may have been a zombie temporarily before she died. Firstly, Mero’s reference that her hands are cold. Whose kid will ever think their mother’s hands are cold? Even if you live in North Pole, to a kid, his/her mother’s hands will always be warm. Secondly, she had bandages all around. Doon’s refusal to speak about the issue clearly makes it more suspicious. In the early episodes, Chihiro had strange and horror-like flashbacks but can’t seem to remember or put them together. So what are they actually because we don’t see them anymore but I’m sure that it has something horrifying to do with her.

I’m sure that with Rea breaking all the standard norm on zombies, you might have a few questions that might boggle your mind. At least mine did. As a zombie, her inner organs don’t work anymore, right? Like her stomach. So, when she eats those hydrangea leaves, how do they get processed anyway? Flow directly into the bloodstream? Zombies have flowing bloodstream? She may cough it out like Babu but surely the medicinal values of the leaves must be absorbed and processed in her body somehow, right? Being a zombie means you can’t die, right? So what happens if you dismember her? Will she still be alive? Assuming her lungs aren’t working, she’s not breathing too, right? That means she can’t drown either, right? What about times when Rea starts going into a trance? She likes to jump and hug onto others and bite them. So far she’s only done that twice and both on Chihiro so it’s not quite right to jump to a conclusion. But really, what causes her to go into that state? Lack of hydrangea poison? Seems like it. Yeah, best ‘joke’ ever. Zombies are ‘vegetarian’. So be sure to grow lots of hydrangea leaves for them to chew. But I guess even if she’s a zombie, some of her body organs are still functioning. Like her eyes. She still can see. Her mouth. She still talks instead of moaning “Uuuuunnnnnnggggg~”. Her brains. She still can think and move her limbs. Now the mother of all questions… How do you make love to a zombie! Now that Chihiro has kissed her, considering taking it to the next level? Too bad she can’t really feel. No men can satisfy her with her dead senses so it’s a shame you’ll always be labelled bad in bed by a zombie. Haha! Oops.

This series also highlights several issues. Most prominent as mentioned is Rea’s abuse. Danichirou may call it his pure love but in our eyes, chaining up a girl in the house and not letting her do anything that isn’t even close to being dangerous is just cruel. There is the issue of neglect too for Aria’s case. I feel Danichirou not only never looked at her as a woman but a human being either. She’s being treated like some sort of object that was never needed in the first place. I guess you could say that as each passing day, Aria has been rotting away drinking. There’s another zombie in the making. For Chihiro, it would be responsibility because for a guy who never cared about anything unrelated to zombies, he has got this perfect chance to show that he isn’t just a zombie geek and matures enough to see to it that he tends to Rea’s needs. Of course as said, Rea as a zombie is the main motivation that kept his interests in her going. For Rea it would be freedom. It’s the case of the grass is always greener on the other side. Rich girl wants to be a normal girl and other ordinary girls yearn to have her rich and luxurious lifestyle. When you don’t have it, you want it. When you got it, you don’t appreciate it. Then there is acceptance. For Chihiro it would be okay, but what about the rest of the world if they ever find out? It’ll be more than just skin colour and skin ‘freshness’.

For the voice acting, the most amusing one has got to be Yuka Iguchi as Mero. As opposed to her annoying high pitch squealing voice for genki girls, here she really does a good job in portraying Mero as a deadpan monotonous girl. Like as though she’s a zombie. She sounds more dead than her other role that doesn’t involve high pitch squealing, Miku in Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Unshou Ishizuka as Danichirou was perfect in making him sound like a twisted and overprotective father. His low voice gives out that creepy yet assertive feel of this mad man. He was the voice of Sakaki in Shijou Saikyou No Deshi Kenichi and Bunta in Initial D. Other casts include Ryohei Kimura as Chihiro (Kodaka in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai), Maaya Uchida as Rea (Mari in YuruYuri), Sayuri Yahagi as Ranko (Haruna in To Love-Ru), Mayumi Asano as Aria (Hilda in Eureka Seven), Shiro Saito as Jogorou (Colonel Mokkoi in Toriko), Seirou Ogino as Doon (Himekawa in Beelzebub) and Shuuhei Iwase as Yasutaka. Misato Fukuen (Eve in Black Cat) must have the easiest script as Babu because after all, cats don’t talk right? Heck, this one doesn’t even meow but go “Ba~Bu~”. Isn’t that how it got its name? Nano.ripe sings the opening theme, Esoragoto and that drowsy voice once more reminds me of how they sing many of the songs in Hanasaku Iroha. Let’s say it is not to my liking. Surprisingly the ending theme by Annabel, Above Your Hand is a very slow and calming piece. So slow and calm that it might put you in sync with the dead! No, I’m not saying that this song is for the dead but it is slow enough to give that impression. And what is the deal of Rea bumming around in the bowling alley in this ending credits animation? Sure, it’s that abandoned building but it just feels out of place. Just like zombies walking amidst us, eh?

The funniest and amusing part of the series has got to be the next episode preview right at the end. It seems like a section whereby Mero (or is it Yuka Iguchi herself?) is complaining and reluctantly doing her job to narrate the next episode preview. Man, she even breaks the fourth wall by wanting to take her complaints to the producers! Who the hell wrote this kind of stuff? But eventually she does her cute high pitch squealing voice just to appeal to everyone before going back to her monotonous voice to complain again. Eventually she calls it quits so much so Chihiro, Ranko or Rea had to do the preview on her behalf! But at times she’ll be back to interrupt halfway or whatsoever! And she doesn’t even sound happy about it! Just quit if you don’t want to do it anymore! Another amusing part is the second title of each episode. Though appearing at the end of the episode and just before the end credits, some of them are pretty witty and are related to the events in that particular episode. For example, episode 4’s “She’ll Sleep When She’s Dead”, episode 5’s “Upstairs Grave”, episode 8’s “Taken Away”, episode 9’s “Is The Truth Out There?” and episode 12’s “The Meaning Of Bite”.

It’s hard to classify this show as a horror because if you have a cutie like Rea a zombie, you won’t go screaming but fawning over her. I can see why not only Chihiro but other guys would be falling head over heels over this girl. She’d be a girl to die for. Haha. It’s hard to classify this show with fanservice because you do get your rare fanservice shots but I would hardly call them one since I’m not the kind that gets stimulated at near naked bodies of zombie girls. I prefer ‘fresh’ ones. Oops. If you want zombie and fanservice combo, go watch Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka. This show is definitely not action like its zombie themed counterparts like Highschool Of The Dead or Zombie Loan because no other zombies’ head were smashed in the making of this series. Overall this series starts off fine with a quirky idea but somewhat loses steam in the middle when it sidetracked a little. Nevertheless it’s still a good watch if you want to watch something light with zombies. Come to think of it, I think I’m already a zombie due to my midnight tryst with animes. Stayed right up till the wee hours of the morning to watch my anime turned me into one. I might not be infatuated with zombies but sometimes I do feel like getting up and do that zombie dance in Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Oh, better not leave my brain at the doorstep watching mindless animes for who knows the zombies might not be as vegetarian as you think.

Nazo No Kanojo X

December 22, 2012

Warning. If you do not view saliva as romantic exchange of bonds, then do not proceed further. I repeat, do not proceed watching Nazo No Kanojo X and make a complete turn around to go watch or do something else. Still think you can handle it? You’re not too late yet. You can still turn back. Really? So you want to have a go at it? Okay. Don’t come squirming and shrieking like a little girl then. You have been warned. No, I’m not saying that Mysterious Girlfriend X is a horror show but the saliva part… Oh, Jesus. I almost nearly threw up there. Please give me a few seconds to recompose myself.

Every guy in reaching the age of puberty would naturally start to think about the opposite sex, right? Whether it is having a girlfriend of their own and yes, sex. Akira Tsubaki is no different. And I’m sure all of us guys won’t blame him if he starts to develop certain fetishes for a girl. Yeah, how do you explain Shuusuke from Onii-chan No Koto’s fetish for girls with black stockings? Some guys like a certain part ‘big’ and others ‘flat’. Get what I’m saying? So what kind of fetish does this Tsubaki have? Wait for it… Drool. You heard that right and it’s just not anybody’s drool but his girlfriend’s drool. I don’t know but he says he finds it sweet. Yucks. I think people in love have most of their sense blinded. Either this habit of him makes him unique or just plain weird. I’ll stick with the latter. So ever since the day he ‘tastes’ the saliva of Mikoto Urabe, he has been ‘addicted’ to it and receives his daily portion. Yeah, look at what love turned him into. Hope it’s for the sake of love. Oh, did I mention that their relationship is a secret? Nobody in school knows about it. I’m sure the scandal it will cause if everybody starts to know that you are licking your girlfriend’s drool. And Urabe is a pretty mysterious girl herself too… Excuse me. I may need to use another barf bag…

Episode 1
We already start off with Tsubaki’s pondering about girlfriend and sex. Not to say he is a pervert but won’t guys reaching puberty be that curious? The teacher introduces a new transfer student: Urabe. She is made to sit next to Tsubaki. Her classmates try to be friendly and get to know her but she prefers to sleep on her desk during lunch. It looks like she just drops dead heads down on her table. It is no surprise soon everybody starts ignoring her because they get no response. She has even been labelled a weirdo when she starts laughing uncontrollably for no reason in the middle of class! One evening when Tsubaki returns to class to retrieve his forgotten lunch box, he sees Urabe sleeping on her desk as usual. He wakes her up to go home. He notices the drool all over her face and that drool pool on her table. Now, most ordinary boys wouldn’t go so far as to taste lick that drool but that is what Tsubaki did! Little will he soon realize how curiosity will kill the cat. Ever since that day, he starts to have weird dreams with Urabe through a strange city. Next day, Tsubaki suddenly collapses during PE and is diagnosed with fever. Tsubaki is out for several days and despite his sister, Youko nursing him, the odd part is that his fever is not subsiding. This is serious. One evening, Urabe visits his home under pretence to give him homework notes. She knows how he got sick. Asking a question if he had licked her drool (the answer is yes), she then proceeds to give him lick a fresh one right now! Suddenly his body feels better! The fever instantly gone! What gives? As explained, Tsubaki was experiencing withdrawal symptoms from licking her drool. Is she saying that her saliva consists some bacterial infection that made him get those symptoms?! Urabe starts laughing at his theory. In fact, the answer is much simpler than that. The sickness he contracted was actual love sickness. Her drool is nothing special and he just wanted to lick the saliva of the girl he loves again. Those feelings are the cause of his withdrawal. Hard to believe, right?

Next day, Tsubaki is all fine again and returns to school. Surprisingly, Urabe follows him back and gives him today’s portion of her saliva to lick. If he doesn’t do so, he will experience those withdrawals again. Just great. Now he’s just like a drug addict. Yup. This becomes their daily ritual. His strange dream with Urabe in a strange city also becomes a ritual. So he needs to tell her something. He wants her to become his girlfriend! She agrees but needs him to give her a romantic approach. Some sort of romantic gesture to consummate the deal. How about a kiss? Too common. He needs to do something that not everybody does often. Gee, I didn’t know being in love was this hard. Tsubaki thinks hard and then he realizes the perfect deal. Taking out a picture of a girl named Aika Hayakawa, this is the girl he had a crush on since middle school. But ever since Urabe came into his life and after licking her drool, he has stopped thinking about her. As proof he loves Urabe now, he tears up this once precious photo. Suddenly a gush of drool pours out from Urabe’s mouth! Don’t worry. No cause for alarm. She explains lots of drool flow out when she feels happy. Don’t ask. They both mention that they are virgins so Urabe reveals that on the day she laughed uncontrollably in class because she heard someone’s voice. It was so funny she couldn’t resist laughing. That voice told her Tsubaki will be the first boy she will have sex with. Since that day, she has been waiting for him to tell her he likes her. And so from today forth, Urabe will be his girlfriend.

Episode 2
The boys are at their usual stuff. Giving their personal ratings on the girls. Let’s say Urabe didn’t score high. In fact, no score! It has been a month since Tsubaki started dating Urabe but aside from sharing her drool, nothing romantic ever happened. Sighs… Not even holding hands. Sighs… So he confides in his best friend, Kouhei Ueno for some answers. Despite Tsubaki denying he has a girlfriend (same for Ueno), he seems pretty interested in his advices. So the first advice he tried out is to ask Urabe about her hobbies. She lets him hold a piece of white cloth then in a flash, she whips out her scissors and faster than he could blink, cuts the white cloth into some fashionable paper art! WOAH! But the most amazing thing you’ll notice is that she keeps the scissors in her panties!!! How the?! What the?! Panties and scissors… Can’t get that combo out of his head, eh? On another day after Urabe gives him eat her sweets she was eating (it’s covered with saliva), Tsubaki couldn’t contain himself and hugs Urabe. Like a swift ninja, she escapes from his clutches pulls out her scissors and starts cutting! See the card boxes behind him crumble! She warns him never to hug her without her permission. Bummer. That was the closest thing to death he has experienced. Yeah, panty-scissors death… Ueno gives Tsubaki some tickets to the movies since he isn’t going. Tsubaki is so delighted. When Tsubaki invites Urabe out, she declines citing she has plans. Tsubaki feels depressed that even though they are a couple, they haven’t done anything romantic. She mentions their drool is their bond. She is going to prove it to him by having him follow her to an abandoned building.

Inside, Urabe wants Tsubaki to promise not to open his eyes till he is told to. Ever. I’m sure he doesn’t want to experience that kind of death again. With his eyes shut tight, Urabe gives him lick her drool and his heart starts beating fast. This feeling indicates he is aroused. His nose also starts bleeding and Urabe knows all the emotions he is feeling now. She mentions his body has undergone transformation because the drool he licked came from her who is now feeling aroused (because she’s naked!!!!!!!). Whatever she feels when he licks her drool, he will also feel it. It’s because he is her boyfriend. When Tsubaki gets permission to open his eyes, he sees the ordinary Urabe as usual (her clothes are back on. Bummer). On the way home, Urabe says her heart was pounding all the time because she was worried he would open his eyes. What happens if he did? Suddenly she goes into that panty-scissors mode! Hey look. She turned the newspaper into cute little human figures. That. Thank God he didn’t open his eyes, right? Yeah, it would be heaven right before hell. That night, Tsubaki has his usual strange dream (and a little horny too) on Urabe and the next day he won’t tell this secret to her. So how will she get to know? In a flash, she sticks his finger in his mouth and licks his drool! She gets nose bleed and though she mentions he is free to do whatever he likes to her in his fantasies, she will never ever tie a doll to her head! Oh wait. She can see what he dreams too by licking his saliva?! Keep your mouth closely guarded!

Episode 3
Tsubaki accidentally walks back into his classroom after school to see Ueno kissing Ayuko Oka! Tsubaki thought Ueno didn’t have a girlfriend but it seems he has been keeping it a secret. They have been going out since they were first year students and Ueno wants Tsubaki to continue keeping this a secret. Tsubaki and Urabe are at the park as he mentions about his best friend’s kiss. So does he want to kiss too? Okay. Really? First, she makes him hold a tube. Then she spins faster than a ballerina to make her face red before putting her drool in the tube. She wants him to lick it tonight before he goes to bed. Eh? What? Tsubaki does what he is told and in a dream with Urabe, she gives him a sneak kiss while giving him a sweet. She mentions he was jealous when he saw Ueno and Oka kissing and wanted to get one as soon as possible but Tsubaki says their first kiss shouldn’t be like this. It should be when their hearts are in sync. Next day Tsubaki tells Urabe what happened so she brings him to the park and prepares to kiss him! Dream come true? However he tries to think straight and mentions about that in sync thingy. Urabe then pulls off the cutest face and smile ever and agrees with what he said. So no kiss till their hearts are in sync. Are you regretting it, buddy? So the next problem for Tsubaki is to think how to get their hearts in sync. But he has a bigger problem. He notices this classmate Ogata has been staring at Urabe for some time. While Urabe is taking out the trash, Ogata confronts her and asks to her to be his girlfriend. Gosh. So it isn’t Tsubaki who just likes weird girls.

On the way back, Urabe tells Tsubaki about the confession. She told Ogata to wait a day before giving her answer. Tsubaki wants to tell Ogata about Urabe being his girlfriend to end this but she refuses. This is her problem since she was the one being asked out. That night Tsubaki can’t help feel worried. His thoughts are filled with worries that Urabe is going to choose between them. Sizing themselves up, Ogata seems to be a much better prospect. Handsome, popular and from the football club. I can see why Tsubaki is worried he doesn’t stand a chance. Next day arrives as Ogata meets Urabe for her answer. Urabe is acting slightly weird but nevertheless makes him lick her drool. However Ogata doesn’t feel anything in his body changing. She tells him his prospects as her boyfriend is eternally grim. That’s another way of rejecting him, right? Later Tsubaki meets Urabe about her answer and to his relief she had turned him down. Urabe gives Tsubaki lick her drool and instantly he gets nose bleed. Why is he aroused? Urabe gives him the panties that she should be wearing today. Should be?! That means she’s not wearing any right now?! Holy cow! The reason she wanted a day to wait for Ogata’s answer was because to test the bond they have with a variable subject. Uhm… Sounds too scientific… Since she wasn’t wearing panties, she was in a different emotional state today. Someone who shared a bond with her who licks her drool will immediately feel different too. Since Tsubaki reacted, it means their hearts are in sync now. She assures he alone is her boyfriend. He is so happy that he wanted to hug her but she escapes and is going to pull out her scissors! Oops! She remembers she wasn’t wearing any panties. Man, it would’ve been ‘dangerous’ if she had flipped up her skirt. So Tsubaki is saved from a certain death and she takes his hand to walk home. Well, be glad with what you have now. Then the wind slightly blows up her skirt…

Episode 4
Oka suddenly wants to eat her lunch with Urabe. She doesn’t mind although she continues to sleep during recess. But when Oka starts feeding her, it’s like she can’t get enough of it. I’m sure the entire class is surprised to see Urabe actually mixing around. Later Tsubaki wonders if anything has happened with her and Oka since they’re sharing lunch. She denies and it’s just that. He thought it would be good for her to have friends since she got transferred here but she says she doesn’t need friends because she has got him as her boyfriend. Doesn’t that make you happy? During PE, Urabe accidentally tripped and got her knee bruised. Since the nurse is out, Oka treats her seeing she has some experiencing in putting on bandages. Oka says she is interested in her and wants to get to know her better. I hope there isn’t anything yuri. Urabe refuses she wants any friends but Oka will keep insisting she’ll she gives in. As Oka leaves, Urabe notices the bruise on Oka’s knee. It’s an exact duplicate of her bruise! Urabe then slits her palm with a blade and wants Oka to lick her saliva. After she does, her palm also bleeds! Explaining she got the bruise when they shared the bottle of water, it means she also shares some deep connection inside. In short, they’re friends, right? Well, Urabe may not want to go that far yet. She mentions another person also shares this saliva connection with her and Oka knows it is Tsubaki. You see, one day on her way home, she spotted them in their daily ritual. That’s why she started becoming interested in Urabe. She is also interested to know if Tsubaki also feels the same when he licks her saliva. Urabe affirms that and this is also useful because there are times she doesn’t know the right words to express herself. However she cautions Oka she can be interested in her but she doesn’t intend to be her friend as she is more than happy to have Tsubaki filling her up. Next day, Oka confronts Tsubaki and wants her to lick her saliva. The reason being she might discover something she might want to know about them. Urabe licks them and surprisingly finds it very sweet! A sweetness she never tasted before! Oka deduces Urabe’s relationship with Tsubaki hasn’t progressed much. When Oka gave her lick her drool, she was thinking about her first kiss with Ueno. If such sweetness she has never felt before, it only means they haven’t kissed yet. Oka invites to eat lunch with her and she agrees since after that first bite, her body’s biorhythm has changed. Though she doesn’t consider her as a friend and just a lunch partner, it’s a good enough for Oka. Of course Tsubaki is baffled to see them eating together because Urabe did tell him before she doesn’t need any friends.

Episode 5
During PE, the boys are purposely kicking the ball out of bounds so each could have their turn to go retrieve it. Why? Along the way, they’ll pass the pool and see the girls in their swimsuits! Boys will be boys. Yeah, each boy is given a girl to ‘spy’ on so that they can report and record their vital statistics. Tsubaki is tasked with Urabe but he fails badly because he thinks he saw her in her swimsuit between the bushes. So close yet so far. On the way back together, Tsubaki sniffs Urabe’s head and suddenly… Panty-scissors mode!!! Oh sh*t!!! Is he going to die today?! Suddenly she stops dead in her tracks as it started raining. Taking shelter under a tree, Tsubaki asks about her sweet smell so she says that is her sweat. Then licking it, it tastes salty because the rainwater cancelled that sweetness out. Speaking of the salty sea, Urabe gives him permission to lick her hand as it may remind him of the sea. Well, it does bring in the images. Sure it isn’t his own sweet fantasy? So the first summer vacation comes for them but it’s always the same thing. Before he could invite her to the beach, she’s always quick to go away. When he finally pops that question, he can only go with him a week later because she’ll be at her dad’s place. So the much awaited day arrived. With Tsubaki fantasizing about Urabe day and night, the week just passed in a blink of an eye. Time flies when you’re having fun even though it’s just a dream. Meeting with Urabe at the train station, she is obviously tanned. Apparently there’s a beach near her father’s house so she naturally went swimming. At the beach, needing the energy to swim, they go get something to eat and Tsubaki notices her strange eating habits for yakisoba. No cabbage or meat but plenty of ginger? Tsubaki was too slow to treat her like a man… The duo go swimming as Tsubaki can’t take his eyes of her. I’m sure he loves her great body in that bikini. But if she could only take off that skirt while swimming. Yeah, he’s staring at it so much so Urabe asks what’s bugging him. Normally she doesn’t wear a skirt while swimming but since there were not many people at her father’s house, she went swimming with her scissors. That means she has got a scissors shaped tan line on her hip! OMG! Looks so odd! Wait a minute. How the heck did she swim with scissors on her hip?! For Tsubaki, she would gladly show it to him! He finds it a turn on?! On the way back, Urabe licks his drool and also gets nose bleed. Asking if he would like to see that tan line again, she will show it to him next summer. He’s happy to wait the whole year. Maybe time flies when you’re having fun fantasizing till the next time.

Episode 6
Oka spots Tsubaki at the bookstore and asks him to accompany her. He can’t help notice that despite her being petite, she has a great mature body. Oka teases him by calling him by his first name so she thinks he was fantasizing about his crush calling him by his first name. Back in school, Ueno notices Tsubaki has got a tan from the beach. Did he go with a girl? Well, he lied he went with his sister. Oka talks to Urabe about her talk with Tsubaki. Since Urabe is silent, Oka licks her drool to find out. Noticing a very sweet flavour, she can tell she was also fantasizing about the same thing. And her face is blushing too. After school as Urabe and Tsubaki take a detour at the park, Urabe suddenly falls asleep on the bench. Because she isn’t waking up that easily, Tsubaki takes this chance to whisper her first name in her ear. When she wakes up, she has this cute and lovely expression on her face! Does this mean she likes being called that? When Tsubaki tries to call that again, he can’t bring himself to say it. On another day, Tsubaki wants to take a picture of her since she is his girlfriend. However she is not putting up a smile. She is not faking one either. Because Tsubaki insists he wants a picture of her smiling, she won’t do it for him. Later when he is waiting for him at the bridge, suddenly the person he least expected to meet shows up. It’s Hayakawa! Oh dear. Will feelings of the old flame crop up? She wants to chat over coffee with him but he turns her down as he is waiting for somebody. Tsubaki then realizes Urabe had been hiding near the bridge and seen everything. Thank goodness he didn’t take her invite, eh? Though she acts like nothing, he can’t help feel worried. She was indeed the girl he had a crush on. So he asks would she be mad if he took up her invitation. IF. He won’t do it anyway. Urabe gives him lick her drool and suddenly he starts crying. If he had followed Hayakawa, Urabe would’ve felt sad. Tsubaki felt bad so he admits everything. Seeing Hayakawa again today, he thought she looked very pretty and when he rejected her, she felt something was missing deep down. But he promises Urabe is the one he likes now. That’s why he wants to take a picture of her now. She agrees but when he snaps the shot, she sticks out her tongue! Picture ruined? Well, she may not be smiling but at least he got a picture of her. Not half bad, right? Otherwise, she’ll gladly cut it up… Oh, he’ll definitely treasure it. When Tsubaki puts it in his wallet, Urabe lets out a gust of drool. So she’s happy too.

Episode 7
Urabe seems to run faster than the track club’s best athlete, Yajima. She offers her to join the club seeing it’s a waste not to use those legs (in an athletic sense lah). Urabe is running only the relay race for the sports festival. Can Urabe say no even if she’s not interested? When Tsubaki learns she turned down the offer because she won’t be able to walk home with him, he wanted to hug her. She instantly dodges him and reminds him about hugging without permission. With her panty-scissors skill, is it hard to see why she’s so athletic? Urabe trains during lunch so Oka teases him Tsubaki gets to hog her legs after school. At the same time, Tsubaki notices Oka getting closer to Urabe and laments he might be drifting away from her. I guess this love sickness has nothing to do with him catching a real flu. Oka wonders if Urabe is going to visit him and lets him on a secret. When Ueno had the same thing, she did something that had him suddenly getting better. No, it doesn’t involve licking her drool. Hmm… Could it be? After school, Urabe visits him and since this is a real flu, her saliva won’t cure it. But she gives him lick it and he felt the warmth of the summer sun. He suddenly feels better. Hey, I thought she said it won’t heal? After Urabe leaves, it is revealed that she was only wearing her swimsuit underneath her coat. On sports day, Urabe tells Oka she tried out her hint and it worked. Flashback reveals when Ueno was sick, Oka offers to help out. He requested seeing her in a swimsuit and she agreed. But no touching! If he can’t keep his hands to himself, they’ll break up. Just be satisfied with the visual stimulation. Then she proceeded to do a mini striptease for him. Short of taking off her bikini, that is. Of course Urabe would never do such a striptease even for her boyfriend due to some ‘complicated’ reasons. Oka distracts Urabe to steal her drool (she’s getting good at this) but gets disappointed to know that the ‘complication’ is just shyness. So the race starts with Urabe fast on her legs, catching up and zooming past her competitors. But it is Tsubaki’s cheer for her which gave her the final spurt to reach the finish line first. Yajima extends her offer to join the track club again. Before Tsubaki leaves school, he notices his name tag on the shoe locker is missing. Walking home with Urabe, he thinks she should join the track club. He feels honoured for her to be walking home with her every day but at the same time he feels he is holding her back. She lets him lick her drool. He becomes very happy but Urabe says what he said isn’t entirely true because his happy face was due to the fact he wants to hog her legs. She shows his name tag from the shoe locker glued to her thigh! She says she doesn’t appreciate dishonesty just to save her feelings. Rather than joining the track club and winning races, she prefers enjoying spending her afternoons with him. That’s just that. So now Tsubaki wants to hog all of other Urabe’s mysterious parts as well?

Episode 8
Tsubaki wakes up from a dream whereby he touched Urabe’s breast. I’m sure he could still feel that sensation while he’s awake. I’m not sure about his logic about suppressing his fantasy by reading a swimsuit gravure magazine. Tsubaki wanders about till he coincidentally bumps into Urabe coming back from an errand outside her apartment. Since he is here, she invites him in. His first house visit. Can’t pass this up. I know he’s excited but does he have to go sniffing Urabe’s bed? He’s starting to act weird too. And Urabe in a sweater makes her boobs stand out, Tsubaki just can’t take his mind and eyes off them. It starts to rain heavily so when Urabe goes to turn on the light, she accidentally trips but he catches her. When his hands start wandering on its own, she takes out her scissors and warns him about taking advantage of the situation and knows something is bugging his mind. Tsubaki comes clean and reveals about his dream. Urabe touches her own breast and lets him lick her drool. Is this what her felt in his dream? Nope. The real deal is so much better!!! But he starts crying… Is it his happiness or Urabe’s feelings? She gives him permission to touch them however he wants. He feels bad for doing this but she threatens to pull back the offer. I guess this is the only time Tsubaki is fastest. Before he knows it, his hand is already touching it. Unfortunately he couldn’t control himself so he pushes her down and starts licking her ear! Urabe can’t reach her scissors… Tsubaki is about to take her lips too but stops when he sees tears streaming down her eyes. Feeling guilty what he has done, he gets up and goes home. Next day, Urabe lets Oka lick her drool as ‘desserts’ and she got so stimulated that it fogs up her glasses! A sensation that Urabe herself has never felt before. Oka tells her when one is in love, the way one feel things changes. She is surprised Urabe’s relationship has progressed this far. Tsubaki continues to wallow himself in guilt. He feels like a jerk for pushing her down and left her in that awkward position. After school, he apologizes to her despite she said she wasn’t mad. He feels he has no right to lick her saliva till she hits him as hard as she can. Okay. That must be the most painful slap he’s ever got. Not as painful as the pain in his heart. Then she has him touch her ear. She starts crying. Explaining that he changed the way she experiences sensations, each time he touches her ear, she will shed tears. That’s why he need not apologize and that she likes it too. If yesterday’s experience hurt him, she too needs to feel that same hurt and licks his drool. I guess you could say she got a taste of her own medicine and felt the painfulness of her own slap. Tsubaki wished she hadn’t licked his saliva because he never wanted to see his girlfriend’s face swollen. Urabe lets him lick today’s portion and runs off quickly. Tsubaki feels a very hot sensation. Like as though he is embarrassed.

Episode 9
Tsubaki notices Urabe’s messy bed head hair. Oka offers to take care of it and at the same time changes her hairstyle just for a day. Guess what? Now that her eyes are much more visible and her hair probably tied up, wow she’s pretty! The guys are having a change in opinion about her! Some would even go far to think of asking her to be their girlfriend! I wonder if Tsubaki is okay with that. Of course not! Walking home together, Tsubaki thought it has taken him this long to see her face, he doesn’t want other people to see it so easily. Urabe requests him to mess up her hair. Yeah, it’s back to normal. She says if he likes her old style, she’ll be happy to stick with it. Also, having him mess up her hair feels good. Next day Oka wants to try out a different hairstyle but Urabe refuses. Oka concludes Tsubaki doesn’t want other boys to see her face. She licks her saliva and felt her heart pounding. Wanting to know what Tsubaki did after he messed her hair up, Urabe messes Oka’s hair. Well, let’s just say messy hair doesn’t suit Oka. Later Oka asks Ueno to mess up her hair. Just as she thought, her glasses fog up and it’s true having someone you love mess your hair up feels good. Later Tsubaki is disheartened to know that a guy is selling pictures of Urabe in her new hairstyle for 300 Yen. Tsubaki is pissed and wants to tell them off she is his girlfriend but he just holds it in. He realizes he may be possessive of her. Maybe he should buy up all the pictures and not let the other guys have any? Then one of the guys point out how Urabe strikingly looks like that pop idol, Momoka Imai. Recently she became more popular due to a drink commercial. So after school, Tsubaki cuts short his walk with Urabe just to head to the bookstore to see how this Momoka girl looks like. Based on her photo collection, she does look like Urabe. Just add a smile and her eyes are more visible. Tsubaki is so happy that he buys a copy. Ueno tells Oka about the boys selling pictures of Urabe. He didn’t buy one since he had her. How sweet. He also saw Tsubaki at the bookstore buying Momoka’s photo collection and thinks he likes girls who look like Urabe. Oka in turn tells this to Urabe. So when Urabe asks Tsubaki about having Momoka’s book, he starts panicking he should’ve foresee this. He mentions he likes Momoka is because he likes her. Urabe wants to see that book too and will wait for him at the park. After flipping through the pages, she wants to know which picture is her favourite. Uhm, he got the guts to show her the big smiley spread in the centre? Urabe tells him to stand still and he can tell she is going into panty-scissors mode. In a flash, she cuts up the entire collection into pieces! Oh sh*t! She warns since she is his girlfriend, there is no need for him to be attracted to an idol that looks like her. Darn right. Tsubaki realizes Urabe may be possessive too. And she looks pretty mad right now… Hope you learnt your lesson.

Episode 10
Did Tsubaki learn his lesson? He buys another special edition book of Momoka! But outside the bookstore, he bumps into Hayakawa. Gosh! She cut her hair short! Can you blame him for not recognizing her? At the park, they catch up on stuff and it seems she had always knew he had a crush on her. Because he sat behind her, she had a mirror in her pencil case and could see Tsubaki’s eyes focusing on her instead of the blackboard. Aha… So why talk all this now? You seem Hayakawa reveals her boyfriend recently dumped her and talking to a person who used to have a crush on her makes her feel better. Tsubaki tries to cheer her up but I’m sure it’s not his words that make her suddenly burst into tears. For that moment, Tsubaki thought how cute Hayakawa’s face is! And that drool… Oh God. What are you thinking?! She thinks they should meet up from time to time and he would if she agrees to let him lick her drool. WTF?! And she’s willing to give it to him! Suddenly Urabe’s face flashes through his mind. Can’t do it, eh? Good for you. This made Hayakawa realize he has a girlfriend because his refusal sounded more like “I can’t do it because I have a girlfriend”. Learning he likes licking of the saliva of the girl he likes, she wonders what they taste like. Sweet. Uhn… I think she’s trying to trap him by saying hers may taste sweeter. Don’t fall for it! After they part ways, Hayakawa ponders that if they were back in middle school, Tsubaki would’ve licked it without hesitation. She feels interested in keeping an eye on him. Soon, Hayakawa confronts Urabe and before she could finish her introduction, Urabe recognizes her in the photo Tsubaki once had! Wow! Woman. Great intuition. Urabe is defensive and suspicious but Hayakawa wants her to come to her school’s cultural festival at Hoshinome. Since Tsubaki will be there too, she’ll be able to witness something very interesting. Oh no. I can guess what it is. That night, Hayakawa calls Tsubaki for an emergency to meet her. She shows him a bruise behind the band aid on her face from the boyfriend who dumped her. She wants Tsubaki to accompany her to this Sunday’s school festival because her boyfriend will be there too. If they see them together, he’ll realize she has moved on and will stop bothering her. In short, she wants him to be her boyfriend for a day. I can’t Tsubaki fell for that old trick. Can’t blame any guy for getting soft if a girl puts up a pitiful act, eh? And that bruise… She easily washes it off with water… Later Urabe asks Tsubaki if he has any plans this Sunday so he had to lie that he is going out shopping with Ueno. In school, Oka shows the booklet of the Hoshinome and how she and Ueno will be going there. But Urabe is puzzled because Tsubaki told her Ueno will be going out with Tsubaki. Oka concludes either Tsubaki messed up his dates or he could be lying to her. Tsubaki arrives at Hoshinome and he is stunned to see Hayakawa exactly the way she was in middle school. She’s got the wig and school uniform to play the part. Just like old times, eh?

Episode 11
Oka and Ueno are also at Hoshinome. After Ueno returns from answering nature’s call, he is surprised to see Oka in a maid outfit serving him! He spilled his coffee… Since the other otakus are snapping pictures of her, he gets into a bad mood and leaves. Oka then spots Tsubaki with Hayakawa opposite. She tails them and it seems Hayakawa brings him to a secluded place. In this room, she has remodelled the place to be like their old classroom! They reminisce the times they stayed back to do work since they’re on the committee. She wonders if he was trying to hug her then. Well, she’ll allow him now. She’s trying to convince him to become her boyfriend again and if he does, she’ll grow her hair again. Then she wants him to lick her drool. Oh Tsubaki. What are you going to do?! Oka is going to snap a shot of this with her handphone when suddenly a card box robot (?!) silences her. Oh. It’s Urabe underneath. She interrupts them and gives Tsubaki permission. That’s because she wants him to make certain his feelings right now. She blindfolds him and they will each give Tsubaki lick their drool and have him decide which one is sweeter. Of course, he will not be told who goes first. Urabe goes first and after Tsubaki licks her drool, he instantly nose bleeds like mad. He definitely knows it’s Urabe. Urabe using her slick scissors move, cuts herself out of the robot card box. And she’s naked!!! This is the bond that they share as nobody could’ve told she was naked underneath. Hayakawa also wants to test that theory so she also strips! I’m sure he doesn’t need to lick the drool to nose bleed, eh? He can always use his imagination! It’s going wild! As Tsubaki is about to lick Hayakawa’s drool, suddenly she starts crying. Urabe explains those tears are tears of resistance. If she really loved Tsubaki, she shouldn’t be crying. Tsubaki adds that she may be confused and vulnerable now and points out it was him who had a crush on her, not the other way round. On the contrary, she admits she too had a crush but it was on a different person. When she was dating this guy, she knew he was still not over his ex. She laments she has never been mutually in love with anyone. Tsubaki says he feels honoured when she asked him to be her boyfriend but right now the girl he loves is Urabe.

Urabe then licks Hayakawa’s drool and finds it very sweet and realizes she may have been in an unrequited love for a very long time. In time, she’ll know she’ll find someone who will love her back since her saliva is sweet. The tension settles down, much to Tsubaki’s relief. Hearing how sweet Hayakawa’s saliva is, he even thought he should’ve quickly licked it earlier on! But then again, he doesn’t want to die by Urabe’s scissors. His blindfold comes undone and he sees what every guy would love to see of their girl. Yeah, he’s got two of them! That must be the hardest slap he’s got in his life. So hard that it knocked him off his feet. With Oka coming into the fray, she feels odd how they are naked in a classroom in broad daylight. Hayakawa gives out a laugh. She was depressed since she got dumped but for the last few days she felt so much fun that it feels like she has moved on. She apologizes to Urabe for intruding on her relationship but gets to see the interesting bond they have via saliva. At the end of the day as Urabe and Tsubaki walk home, he apologizes for lying. But she is okay with that since she too had a crush on somebody else before him. Yeah, she was really crazy about him. Really? Just kidding! So the lesson? If that little lie made him upset, it’s best he shouldn’t do to her what he wouldn’t want her to do onto him. So setting things straight, Urabe mentions she never had a crush before she transferred here. If she kisses him, it would mean her first. Then she licks his drool and gives out a lovely smile. But that is only because those are of his feelings. She ‘chides’ him that he really is a boy. After all, he let Hayakawa lure him in and he got giddy with just the thought of Urabe’s first kiss.

Episode 12
After witnessing that awesome scissors cutting move, Oka wants Urabe to demonstrate for her. Of course she refuses. Oh, she has a picture when Urabe was naked in the classroom too. Instantly Urabe cuts up the pictures to bits. There. There’s your demonstration. And Oka better not have duplicates. Instead, Oka is so thrilled that she keeps her scissors in her panties and flips up her skirt just to see them. While walking back with Tsubaki, Urabe wants to lick his drool too. He refuses but she distracts him to get a taste of his saliva. She suddenly feels hot. The kind of hot feeling when a boy sees a girl’s body naked. Don’t ask. So much so every time he sees her, he could envision her naked body. He can’t hold it in and hugs her. You can guess what happens next. However something odd happened. Tsubaki’s head is bleeding! Did Urabe miss? She panics and brings him back to her house for treatment. While getting the bandages, Urabe tests cut the picture frame. Though it crumbles, the curtain behind got ripped. She realizes she lost control of her scissors. As she treats him, she apologizes for hurting him (so all those near scissors death experience that could’ve hurt him was just a big scare?). Urabe gives him lick her drool and he feels giddy. Maybe it is his envisioning of her naked body? He wants to leave but she isn’t done yet. He can’t take anymore of this naked business and accidentally shoves Urabe down to her bed. Then he trips on the first aid box towards her. Realizing in this position he will end up hugging her and die a certain death, Tsubaki quickly changes the direction of his footing but this has his head knock on the headboard. Ouch. Thank goodness he didn’t have amnesia.

When Urabe learns why he did that, she hugs him and says if it will end up hurting himself, he has permission to hug her. I hope he won’t fake tripping himself from now on. Before Tsubaki leaves, Urabe tells him about the strange dream she had. It was with him. She won’t say anything more. But we can always guess what it was, right? Later Tsubaki tries her scissors cutting move again and this time only her targeted object got cut. She’s back in control and concludes when she hugged Tsubaki then, her giddiness was gone. Next day in school, Tsubaki also notices Ueno has a bandage on his forehead. Apparently Oka wanted to do a crazy experiment with a scissors. Warning people. If you are not a pro, do not attempt, I repeat, DO NOT ATTEMPT any fast scissors cutting stunt. Or else like we have seen in Ueno’s case, the scissors slipped out of Oka’s hand and fell on his head! I don’t know how his forehead is still intact. And then when Oka insisted on tending to his wounds, she tried cutting up lots of gauze so Ueno ends up with a bunch of them. A girl calls Tsubaki as the teacher wants to see him. She notices his bandage falling off so she peels it off and puts a band aid on. Urabe doesn’t seem amused… Then when she brings him along, he asks for the bandage back. No, not to dispose it but to put it back on! Well, it’s his own viral infection. So the logic he did that was because this bandage was the same one Urabe put on him because she cared for him. If possible, he wants to keep it on forever. Seriously, forever? On his head? When Urabe gives him today’s drool portion, before he could hug her, she collapses into his arms! Tsubaki panics thinking it’s his fault but Urabe says it was her who initiated that hug. Yeah, he’s the happiest guy alive. Feels good, right? For the both of them.

Episode 13
Urabe runs into Youko in the shopping arcade. Youko invites her for tea and we learn she was an alumna of her high school 6 years ago. She felt nostalgic in seeing her uniform that’s why she wanted to talk to her. Learning she is in the same class with Tsubaki, she wants to know if her brother is dating anyone. Not that Urabe could answer. This prompts Youko to remember the person she was dating at their age. Then she tells her the funny thing that happened yesterday. When she was sleeping on the table, Tsubaki woke her up and told her about the drool on her mouth. Then he asked a funny question. Whether she had a boyfriend or not. Ironically, she was dreaming about her boyfriend. When they were dating, he took a picture of her face sleeping and drooling! Her boyfriend thought that face was kinda cute. So what happened to him? Because he went to another region to study, they slowly grew apart. They did correspond to each other for a few months but gradually stopped. Though she still thinks of him from time to time, she wonders if he is still keeping that photo and has a new girlfriend. Youko asks if Urabe has anyone she likes. She says yes but stops short of saying who. Youko envies her but she has to put romance on hold since she is now like Tsubaki’s mother as their real mom passed away a very long time ago. After they part, Youko gives her a sakura mochi. Later Tsubaki, Youko and their father visit their mom’s grave and clean it. The guys think Youko shouldn’t put off romance for their sake (she vows not to get married till her brother gets a job) but the guys are just useless without her. I guess she has to continue becoming their substitute mom.

Later Urabe tells Tsubaki about her chat with Youko and the person she was dating. Tsubaki is surprised because it’s the first time he heard that. She asks about the sakura mochi and he says it was because they visited mom’s grave and it was her favourite food. Tsubaki is honest with his feelings that it feels normal because his mom died when he was so young that he hardly remembers her. Urabe wants to go to his mother’s grave next Sunday. Meeting up with her, Urabe is dressed in some pretty clothes. She is going to see his mother after all, right? At the grave, Urabe puts a bouquet of flowers and some bacon-wrapped vegetables that she is currently good at making as offering. Tsubaki seems pretty surprised when Urabe explains the reason she wore pretty clothes because she was going to meet his late mom. He reiterates he doesn’t remember much about her, what more may not even remember how he felt that day she died. Urabe wants Tsubaki to put his left hand on the grave while they exchange saliva. Well, it seems like exchanging wedding vows. Except they’re using saliva and putting their finger into each other’s mouth, cross-armed. Tsubaki felt this incredible feeling but Urabe sheds a tear. She says he might not remember but he cried when his mom passed away when he was small. Tsubaki also starts crying. That’s why they’re crying right now but he smiled even more than he cried then because he loves his family very much. In the future, she wants to become that kind of person to him. As they leave, Tsubaki thought it was odd for them to exchange saliva in front of his mother’s grave. Yeah, I think nobody ever did it before. But Urabe says it can’t be helped because they’re going to do even bolder things from now on. Oh, really? I can’t wait to know what they are. And here’s a rare lovely smile from her for starters.

Tsubaki didn’t want to go to the festival but Youko insists him putting on his yukata. After Youko leaves first, Ueno comes by and he wants Tsubaki to come with him to the festival. Since he is going with Oka, he doesn’t want other classmates to think otherwise if they’re being spotted. So it’ll look like an outing with friends among the four of them. Four of them? Yeah. Oka has invited Urabe. Now do you want to go to the festival? It’s a double date! The guys meet up with the girls and they are awed to see them in their yukata. You don’t see this scene every day I guess. Oka takes a photo to commemorate today but how comes she is just taking pictures of Urabe alone? As they walk along in the festival, Tsubaki notes the odd relationship they have and doesn’t think Oka knows he is dating Urabe. On the contrary, she is fully aware of that and knows Tsubaki is too dense to realize. Ueno mentions about his plan to hug Oka tonight and thanks to the love charm that can only be bought at this shrine, this was what led her to kiss her. Yeah, he is encouraging Tsubaki to not miss this chance. I think you don’t need persuasive words to convince Tsubaki to get his chance with Urabe. So Oka and Ueno purposely get ‘lost’ leaving Tsubaki and Urabe alone. Since the fireworks are going to start, the crowd gets pushy and they both get separated. However a girl in a fox mask, Togawa brings Urabe away. Tsubaki tries to find Urabe and this leads him to an odd monument labelled as fake museum. Groping in the dark inside, he finds Urabe’s pouch on the ground. Suddenly the place lights up and he sees Urabe tied on the ceiling. A boy in a fox mask, Matsubuya says he has only 1 chance to pull the right string that will lead to Urabe. If he pulls the wrong string, everything will fall down (Urabe got somewhat tangled in their unfinished setup). However Urabe doesn’t want Tsubaki to come close and drops her clogs on his head. She doesn’t want him to peep? You know what they say about yukata and underwear… So how can he save her when he can’t even get close to her? Don’t worry. Just pull his favourite string. It will show how strong their bond is. Urabe starts licking her string and Tsubaki sees the string ‘glow’. I hope it’s not because she has lots of saliva. The saliva points out to the right string as Tsubaki picks it up and puts it in his mouth! He finds it very sweet and nose bleeds. He pulls the string to free Urabe. But he was too hasty so Urabe landed on her butt. Matsubuya and Togawa then thank them for an interesting show and disappear.

They realize the museum is gone and they are standing right outside the shrine. Tsubaki notices Urabe’s yukata dirty and tries to clean up. Eh? Isn’t he like molesting her butt? He is baffled that some motifs on her yukata are missing. Urabe is about to go into panty-scissors death but you know what they say about yukata and underwear, right? Yeah, she’s wearing nothing underneath! Can you believe Tsubaki could think that she’s a little vulnerable tonight? Oh, what is he going to do? Anyway the scissors is stashed in her obi and another reason why she didn’t want him close to him when she was tied up as the scissors may fall on his head. Tsubaki realizes Urabe was here to buy the charm too but she doesn’t need to seeing that there is a charm mysteriously tied to her scissors. She ties it to his hand. Noticing she is barefoot, Tsubaki gives her a piggy-back ride home. This must be the best feeling ever. His hands touching her butt and her boobs pressed against his back. If only this happened more often, eh? Matsubuya and Togawa watch the duo go away and it seems this setup from Matsubuya was so that he could retrieve the sake and cup motif on Urabe’s yukata to drink (don’t worry, it’s just water). As thanks, he left the charm for her. Matsubuya requests to drink Togawa’s tears (?!) so she prepares them for him to lick (?!). She mentions that till she unlocks the mysteries of his heart, she’ll keep fulfilling his requests because if she does, she’ll unlock her own mystery. She narrates everyone who fall in love will embrace mystery. Elsewhere, Ueno finally scores and gets to hug Oka. Urabe gives Tsubaki lick today’s drool and he finds it amazingly sweet. He really wants to go to next year’s festival with her. Just the two of them. Yup. Urabe also had the same idea in mind.

Nothing To Drool About…
Okay, let me admit this first. When I first watched the first episode and got introduced to all that drool thingy, I felt like I wanted to vomit. True! The thought of tasting somebody else’s saliva wasn’t something I am used to. Heck, it isn’t normal! It was a good thing that I managed to hold it in as long as the duration of that episode before heaving a big sigh of relief. I don’t even know how I managed to keep it all in. Fortunately I didn’t throw up even after at the end of the episode. Nor do I have nightmares about the drool. But it did leave a bad unsavoury aftertaste in my mouth and sometimes if I’m not careful, thinking about this series while swallowing my saliva starts making me feel like want to throw up all over again. Of course as the series progresses, I eventually got used to the drool but like I said, if I am not careful, I may find my own face closer to the toilet bowl the next second. Thank God that didn’t happen. I hope it won’t.

So okay, aside the drooling stuff, Urabe is really one heck of a mysterious girl. She really gives off this mysterious aura and the way her messy hair covers her eyes gives out that mystifying overall feel. It makes you want to think deeper who this girl is actually. With her scissors cutting skills faster than the speed of sound, surely at some point you might think that she is an alien or a non-human. Though Urabe always has that sleepy look on her face or that unsmiling mug, there are rare incidents whereby she displays a livelier expression. It’s so rare and unpredictable that each time that happens, it feels like you strike gold. Such priceless expression is worth the trouble or whatever you did to make her smile like that. Of course I prefer the Urabe when she is smiling because it does make her cute friendlier but if she was in this mode for most of the time, she wouldn’t be the mysterious girl in the first place. As for Tsubaki, I’m sure he is just a normal boy who wants a normal girlfriend. Except we know Urabe isn’t anything but normal. He tries to understand her but because she is so mysterious, he just couldn’t understand what she wants or is thinking sometimes. And that puts a damper on his efforts to get close to him. Maybe it’s just being a guy. Males are dense when it comes to the matters of the heart, eh?

It’s good that Tsubaki’s love for Urabe is genuine otherwise they would have broken up a long time ago. I mean take this case in point. For a young teenage boy and girl to be a couple, they must be doing more than just walking home together from school (and sharing drool – oh wait, no ordinary couple does that), don’t you think? I mean, where is the spark in their relationship? With Urabe not even allowing him to hug without permission, this would have been a big put off for guys who would prefer to get more physical with love. I’ll be blunt. To guys, sex is love and love is sex. Simple. So don’t you just feel sorry and frustrated even if he wants a simple hug from his girlfriend but all he got was a near-death panty-scissors threat. However if you think deeper about it, there may be a good reason why she does this. You see, if Tsubaki is allowed to do as he wishes, then don’t you think it makes Urabe like a cheap girl? No more the mysterious girlfriend. So by being strict with this sort of things, she keeps his perversion in check. It makes him think and control his lust and use the right head to think. Yes. The head above his neck and not the ‘other head’ down there. After all, though Tsubaki is a nice guy but he is still a boy and his natural instincts may take over. You can never be too sure. It never hurts to take precaution. But it is good that with the duo experimenting with odd activities together, they gradually develop their love. So all is not lost for Tsubaki because at least Urabe is not an emotionless monster as we sometimes see her express embarrassment or happiness. Just that she doesn’t show it on the outside like others.

Since Oka can share Urabe’s drool, does this mean that she also loves her? Maybe. Big maybe. I’m not sure if she is a bi. On one hand she has this clueless Ueno as her boyfriend and from the way I see it, if Urabe isn’t mysterious and defensive, Oka could have gotten yuri with her. She would be the seme type, I guess. Haha. Thus the mysterious aura is perhaps one reason why Oka sticks around her and Tsubaki because she is interested to see an odd couple like them develop their love relationship. Hayakawa’s return to Tsubaki’s life felt like an ultimate test for his love for Urabe. As said, he got this choice of going back to the girl he once had a crush on and probably do more stuffs than what Urabe has to offer. But was Hayakawa really in love with Tsubaki in the first place? Was she just using him to take out her frustrations of being dumped at love? In the end, I’m glad everything ended without turning into a cat fight. I know Urabe would have won if it boils down to that because nobody is as skilled as her using the scissors. More importantly, it saves Tsubaki the dilemma of choosing, though I know he would choose Urabe but Hayakawa is sneaky and could just change his mind. You know how weak men’s minds are when it comes to this. No, I’m not speaking from experience, mind you. It was interesting to learn Youko too had a crush but puts it on hold just to become Tsubaki’s mother. It would be great to know more but I guess there’s nothing much extraordinary because they had their time and just drifted away due to distance and time.

When they put in a pair of mysterious kids in the OVA, I thought they were teasing us that there are more weirder people in this world. Maybe it isn’t just Tsubaki and Urabe the only people in the world to share their drool. Are there others too? Knowing that there are even different types of body liquid addiction now, I just can’t help if there are those who would drink… Oh God, no… Urine! I almost puke there. So why this pair appears in the OVA and for what purpose remains a mystery to us. Just like the anything that has to do with love. It is one giant puzzle and mystery. You think you know how love works but you could be so wrong and not know anything. But just like everything else that we have seen in this series, it is to spearhead the odd relationship between Tsubaki and his mysterious girlfriend.

In line with the mysterious theme of this series, there are some things that also bugged me. The big one is how Urabe keeps her scissors in her panties and goes by her daily life without ever cutting herself. It’s not like she is immune to those blades either. Think about this. She keeps her scissors on her right hips and considering she moves about, walking, running, bending down and the likes, don’t you think she would have experienced utmost discomfort when a rigid and sharp object is located at that part? Try sitting down with the scissors in that position. See whether you get cut or not. Of course for guys, don’t even try this if you don’t want to accidentally lose your manhood! And how can Urabe keep the scissors from sliding or falling off? It’s not that her panties have hook or clip to hang it. More importantly, why does she keep the scissors there?! Well, I can guess for us viewers is for fanservice but I think it is to distract her enemy. That would be an eye opener for the guys, right? In that temporary stunned moment is when she will strike you down. Therefore if she had kept her scissors in a bag, it might take too long. Keeping it underneath her sleeve would work if she only wears long sleeve all the time. Keeping it at her belt or stomach may make it too obvious. So where else to keep it at a place where everyone least expects it. Another mystery for me is Tsubaki’s odd dreams that involve Urabe. What do they mean? What significance do they hold? I thought it might lead us to a clue to reveal more about Urabe but I guess it’s just a dream. Anything goes. Everything is just weird. Will it turn into reality someday? And remember that voice that told Urabe that Tsubaki will be the first boy she will have sex with? Don’t remember? Don’t blame you. It didn’t seem to come anywhere close to this. Maybe that last statement of doing bolder things could be an indication but I’m not putting my hopes up. What are the chances of suddenly jumping into sex? Shocking, no? Just a thought. If Tsubaki does the wrong moves or makes her unsatisfied, he might find himself getting cut up! Yikes!

Another point of discussion is of course the drooling and saliva. As much as I want to stay away from this topic now, but it can’t be helped since this is the major theme of the series. I thought there would be an explanation of why Urabe had this weird ability of bonding with others via saliva. Apparently I guess you have to accept that she had this all along. You can say it is one form of communication because sometimes it is hard to describe your feelings in words. But it bugs me if Tsubaki is Urabe’s first boyfriend and had never been in love before, what more never had friends, how come she knew that his first withdrawal symptoms were due to love sickness? Because in each episode we will see some sort of drool whether it is Urabe giving Tsubaki his daily portion or the drool dripping down the mouth, initially the way the drool was drawn was one of the factors that aggravated my insides to want to throw up. I don’t know, it looks like some sort of icky slime covering the finger. Despite Tsubaki tasting the sweetness of Urabe’s saliva, it sure doesn’t look ‘appetizing’ when Urabe sticks out her saliva for him to suck and lick. Looks may be deceiving but no matter how many times without fail Tsubaki has taste the sweetness of her drool, I won’t be convinced to even try it! Bacterial infection comes to mind. I know I won’t be getting love sickness that’s for sure.

Speaking of the drawing and art, they seem to have that old school feel. The kind of look whereby animes are in the late 80’s or early 90’s. The characters have big wide eyes but not the sparkly kind you see today that makes the characters irresistibly cute (or annoying). With their small iris, it is the white sclera that covers a big part of the eyes. Yeah, don’t they remind you of anime characters during those days? If you are old enough to remember watching such animes, that is. The facial details of the characters are very simple with no outstanding feature that makes them stand out. So the most generic of guys and girls have that typical normal guy or girl look. Well, anime characters in those days really look like that. If you are old enough to remember watching such animes, that is. Oh, forgive me for repeating myself. I must be feeling old right now. Despite having that retro look and feel, the colouring and quality are as of today’s standard so be rest assured that you won’t be seeing fading or ‘old’ colouring or bumpy animation.

For the voice acting, debutant Ayako Yoshitani did a good job in voicing Urabe and making her sound mysterious. She may sound like a sleepyhead or like someone who lacks energy with that monotonous and flat voice but it does give a mysterious feel for her character. So far this is her only anime role. Other casts include Miyu Irino as Tsubaki (Syaoran in Tsubasa Chronicle), Ryou Hirohashi as Oka (Alice in Aria The Animation, Kyou in Clannad), Yuuki Kaji as Ueno (Subaru in Ro-Kyu-Bu, Akina in Yozakura Quartet), Misato Fukuen as Youko (Yami in To Love-Ru) and Yu Shimamura as Hayakawa (Hare in Guilty Crown, Chihaya in Otome Wa Boku Ni Koishiteru: Futari No Elder). Both the opening and ending themes are sung by Ayako Yoshitani. Well, what can I say if a mysterious sounding girl tries to sing. At one hand it sounds unsuitable because of her voice that to me doesn’t really sound fitting. You know how a person who has just recovered from a flu or throat illness tries to sing, right? I thought if she can sing it, people like me who don’t really possess a beautiful voice could also sing this. For the lively opening piece, Koi No Orchestra, at certain points it’s like as though she’s trying hard to stretch her voice but of course it doesn’t sound too bad that it sounded off pitch. The ending piece, Houkago No Yakusoku is a jazzy and slower but slightly bubbly ballad with some horns blazing at the start. The disturbing thing about the ending credits animations is that we see everybody’s drool when they’re sleeping! To me it nearly felt like a horror show because too much saliva in this series has turned on the fear switch within. Because of the old school art feel, I can’t help that the themes also have this old school feel in them and sounded like they are from that era.

So would you have such a mysterious girlfriend who gives you her saliva and keeps a pair of scissors in her panties? If you don’t like the danger and mystery that comes with it, then you’re better off (and safer) with somebody else. At the end of this entire series, I sometimes can’t help feel that I have developed a slight fear of swallowing even my own saliva. Heck, I can’t even drool in peace when I see my favourite food or smell something good. Thanks guys. For making me look at my saliva in a totally different light. So think twice if you want to have that very passionate wet French kiss. Saliva isn’t my cup of tea for bonding and I would prefer to stick with the conventional and boring flowers and chocolates. And if you really want to get close to a mysterious girl you like, don’t say it with saliva and drool. Maybe you can start by singing Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl. Okay everybody sing along with me. Oh, oh, oh, oh/ Mysterious girl I wanna get close to you/Oh, oh, oh, oh/ Mysterious girl move your body close to mine…


December 21, 2012

With great powers come great… Argh. Sick of that line already? I know. It was wrong of me to start it with that overused sentence so let me try again. Ahem. Oh, heck. I can’t seem to find the right way to start but anyway if you were bestowed powers from magical deities, would you accept them and use it? At first I thought Uta-Kata was going to be a typical magical girl series. You know. Normal girl gets power, then transforms into a magical girl-type outfit and uses that magic power for something. However as I found out this isn’t your typical magical girl series and you won’t see sparkling bright characters with big sparkling bright eyes and equivalent smile complete with shrieky voice. Instead, the theme is somewhat a little mature and touches lightly on subjects such as abuse and jealousy. Wow. A dark theme. So as we follow the life of this 14 year old girl who over the period of summer experiences this life changing experience. It changes her the more she uses the power. Usually when you get such powers, you should get better gradually, right? What happens if it goes the other way round? Who says being a magical girl is all rosy and cute? Watched too much of such genres maybe.

Episode 1
As narrated, summer always brings back memories of a certain girl for Ichika Tachibana. She remembers a dream of meeting a girl whom she doesn’t know, Manatsu Kuroki. She says they are each other and apologizes for this is farewell. Not that Ichika understood what is going on anyway. On the last day of school before the summer holidays, Ichika narrates herself as a second year student of Kamakura Girls’ School. She makes her way there and meets high school twins, Kai and Sei Toudou who will be her home tutor starting tomorrow. Ichika is grateful for Sei’s handphone charm but he thinks she should throw it away if she doesn’t like it. In class, Ichika spends time cleaning up her school with her friends, Keiko Takamura (nice and friendly daughter of a rich family), Satsuki Takigawa (responsible girl) and Michiru Munakata (expressionless girl with incredible intuition). They are cleaning in a room of an old building when Ichika felt sorry for such a beautiful mirror to be in a sorry state. For that moment, she got spooked and thought she saw Manatsu. Her friends tease her about the mirror. When you stand in front of it, you will see someone else’s reflection. Freaked out? They thought Ichika was trying to scare them back when she mentions she did see somebody. The scaring business is cut short when their teacher calls them for the closing ceremony. After school, the friends hang out together and promise to keep in touch and have fun for the rest of the summer. But Ichika realizes her handphone is missing. She remembers it may have fallen out of her pocket in the room with the mirror when she got spooked. She decides it’s no big deal and decides to return alone to retrieve it. However to her surprise, her handphone is reflected in the mirror but not on the ground in reality! Freaky?! Then she sees Manatsu in the mirror picking it up! As Ichika narrates, it’s the beginning of their destined meeting and separation.

But Manatsu needs her to do a favour and in return will agree to do hers. Ichika doesn’t want to lose that charm so she agrees. Manatsu steps out from the mirror and hands the handphone back to her but Ichika is disheartened that the colours of the stones on the charm are different. Assuring her not to worry, suddenly Ichika is engulfed in light and her clothes turns into a magical girl! Do you believe this is magic? She starts floating and sees a huge deity dude next to her. Manatsu explains he is the Djinn of the Sun. By releasing the power of the Stone of the Sun, she has been granted powers of the sun. Her clothes transformation is proof. The Djinn releases a warm sunlight across the town and this made Ichika ponder does the sun always watch over her town such a way. Next thing she knows, Ichika is back in the room as Manatsu hands her a notebook that she needs to write a report. You see, Manatsu must use up all the 12 stones during the holidays and write her thoughts on the subject. Wait a minute. She’s shoving her homework responsibility to somebody else?! WTF?! Plus, she doesn’t want to do homework since she came to this world to go sightseeing!!! WTF?! Just great. I don’t know how Ichika accepted it. Maybe she had to. Before she knows it, Manatsu introduces herself as Ichika’s pen-pal to her parents and will be staying with her for the rest of the summer. Yeah, they don’t mind and even treat her like one of their own! EEEHHH???!!! Oh, Ichika. Not even the first day of summer holidays and you’ve gotten yourself into something like this. That night when Ichika is asleep, Manatsu pecks her cheek and apologizes for lying.

Episode 2
So looks like it’s up to Ichika to use the stones 11 more times. She asks how the other Djinns are like but you can tell Manatsu herself doesn’t know. Ichika wakes up early for her usual radio exercise at the park and drags sleepyhead Manatsu along. Let’s just say she’s not a morning person. She meets her old friend Maki who introduces her to her boyfriend, Ryou. Ryou seems to take an interest in Ichika and manages to persuade her to exchange email address despite Manatsu’ warning not to give info to strangers (we could all learn something here). Back home, Ichika’s neighbour, the beautiful Saya Kogure passes them. Of course from the way things look and her cameo appearances in certain scenes tells us she is just more than meets the eye. She’s somebody who is watching over the girls. The twins begin their first day to home tutor Ichika. She introduces them to Manatsu and she realizes the one who gave her the important stone. This prompts Ichika to remember how she got them. She saw them near a tree at a park and overheard something about it has been 6 years, it wasn’t Sei’s fault and it was time spent well being free from a spell. Realizing Ichika is around, they mention they are burying time capsules as memories. Sei thought of giving it to her instead and she promised to cherish it. However she fears that promise is broken now and hides the charm. She tells Manatsu that it was supposed to be their secret. So I guess the first day of tutoring didn’t go as planned because Ichika decides to go self study at the library. Let’s just say Manatsu isn’t a library person either… Meanwhile the twins talk and seeing those two together brought back memories of that summer.

While studying alone at the library, Ichika gets mail from Ryou to do something. She chooses to ignore it when Ryou surprises her from the back (he sent that mail since he was close by). Since he’s getting noisy, Ichika has no choice but to leave with him. Outside with Manatsu, Ryou isn’t happy she ignored his mail and that she chose her homework over a friend. What about Manatsu? The cheeky girl notes she’s way cooler than him! Manatsu than lies how she become Manatsu’s pen-pal through the correspondences but Ryou isn’t convinced because Ichika seems like the type of girl who doesn’t talk much. Then it made Ichika realize how much she had lied all this while. She hates liars and worse still, she lied to herself. She wants to leave but Ryou won’t let her as he wants something from her. That just sounds suspicious. Run! Ryou is equally persistent to chase them to a secluded spot and finally grabs Ichika. However Maki is there too (her friend spot Ryou chasing them and called her). Ichika blames her persistent lies that got her into this but Maki isn’t convinced that nothing happened between Ryou and Ichika. She breaks his handphone and doesn’t want to see that two-timer’s face again (flashback shows Ryou was talking about how cute Ichika was right in front of her and her friends! You think she won’t get mad?). Ryou gets rough on her so Maki tells them to run. Ichika thinks they should call somebody for help when Manatsu suggests using the charm. Ichika clothes’ transform once more with the powers of the Djinn of the Moon. Manatsu warns Ryou that with this bright light, somebody will come but Ryou is unfazed. Their saviour turns out to be Kai who is somewhat playing football alone nearby. Ryou thinks he can beat him up but gets kicked in the gut. While squirming in pain, Maki goes to his side and Kai tells him he is a lucky guy that she still likes him. They both get up and leave as Kai advises them not to drag others into their love spat. Later Kai calls Sei to tell him something he never thought possible happened. Ichika and Manatsu go home. Flying. Aren’t they worried people will see them? Anyway Ichika spots Ryou and hears the truth. Ryou thought Maki was mad and wanted Ichika’s help to get her back. Ichika felt relieved.

Episode 3
Ichika and her friends along with Manatsu take a day trip to the beach. Michiru could sense that Manatsu is a mysterious girl. It takes one to know one? The usual fun in the sun but since Michiru’s skin is averse to salt water, she stays put on land to watch their belongings and Ichika accompanies her. After that, Satsuki suggests to get something to eat at the nearby beach house because it is run by her brother. Though they will help him increase his sales, he is short on manpower during lunch hour and no choice has to engage the girls to help out. Meanwhile, Nao Shimizu and her friends arrive at the beach too. When she sees Ichika at the beach house, she decides to go somewhere else. So the reward for the girls helping out is that all the food they eat is on the house. But as Michiru warns about their tummy after all that food, I’m not sure about the rationale of dipping in the ocean. I thought you shouldn’t swim on a full stomach? Only Michiru didn’t have this ‘problem’. Later as they take a walk in the street, they bump into Nao and friends. Ichika knows her because they were classmates during elementary school before she moved away to Tokyo. Though her friends are friendly, Nao warns not to get too close because they’re from a famous rich girl’s school. This statement doesn’t sit well with Satsuki so she thinks she is jealous she wanted to get into their school and failed because she didn’t see her face during the entrance exam. But Ichika corrects her she was accepted instead but urgent matters at home had her suddenly moved to Tokyo. Nao continues to mock this school and leaves with her friends.

While she is floating in the ocean, thinking back about the heart breaking moment she had to move just when she told her dad about her acceptance. Suddenly her leg got cramped and she risked being drowned if not for Ichika and her friends coming to her rescue. Seems it was Saya who pulled the prank because as she mentions, ‘interfering with the one taking the exam is against the rules’. On shore, Ichika realizes her father’s waterproof watch she borrowed is missing. Nao sounds upset because she thought it was like her fault so she says she’ll compensate for it. But Satsuki’s brother points out it’s not an ordinary watch. It costs thousands! So they go diving to find the watch even if it’s way after swimming hours. Ichika and Manatsu get a little distance from the rest so Ichika could use the stone to transform and seek the Djinn of the Earth’s help to locate the watch at the bottom of the ocean. Ichika spots the watch but is out of breath. She won’t let the watch slip back into the sand again and swims towards it. Can she hold her breath that long? In the end, she manages to get the watch although she needs to catch lots of air. Despite all the drama, Nao says she won’t apologize because it’s her fault for wearing something expensive. Satsuki wanted to give her a piece of her mind but Ichika wants bygones to be bygones. So everybody left with some having bitter feelings lingering. Satsuki and her brother talk about their mother and the other man whom they wished he’d just die. Few days later when Ichika is back home, she receives a thank you and apology letter from Nao.

Episode 4
While Sei is tutoring Ichika, she gets spooked by the noise of the barking dog. When Sei explains this neighbourhood is old enough to have its own ghost stories, she starts thinking Manatsu may be a ghost. She did come true the mirror, right? But Manatsu gets freaked out when she hears a tap on the window. Ghost? Poltergeist? Just a bug attracted to the light. Ichika’s mom arranges her daughter as well as Manatsu to do on an outdoor study camp. Seeing Manatsu very lively, Ichika thought she is a ghost of a suicide victim and thus a ghost so Manatsu sets the record straight she isn’t. Part of the camp has the girls split into groups and clean up the dorm they’ll be staying. While Ichika and Michiru diligently clean their room, Tomoko and Yuka laze around while noting how serious Ichika is. The teacher walks in to find the place still not cleaned but compliments Ichika for her hard work. She has them stop what they’re doing since it’s study time. Manatsu thought she could just supervise everyone doing supplementary homework (because she’s not a student of their school) but the teacher isn’t going to discriminate and gives her some. Haha. Ichika feels down because this isn’t the kind of memories she wants to make. So she leaves halfway to finish her cleaning job while Tomoka’s words of her being serious ring in her head. Even doing extracurricular activities, there is this gloom over Ichika’s face. Who could blame her? The pond is so muddy and who would really enjoy the boat ride. A couple of high school boys hit on Tomoka and Yuka.

That night, the teacher arranges Ichika and Michiru to be part of the kimodameshi (test of courage). Michiru can see things, right? Can she? Tomoka notes how boring this activity is without boys and decides to go meet her new boyfriend while Yuka agrees to cover for her. As she waits at the designated place, suddenly somebody pushes her down the ravine. Guess who? Her boyfriend comes by but Tomoka didn’t want him to see her in a messy state and keeps quiet till he leaves. Keiko and Satsuki are paired together in the event and Keiko is just like a scaredy cat. Screaming all the way! This doesn’t sit too well with Manatsu. You can just tell she’s another ‘easy victim’ by the way she is reacting and hugging all over Yuka. But at least this dispels the fact for Ichika that Manatsu is a ghost. When it’s over and bed time, Ichika realizes Tomoka isn’t back yet so Yuka spills the beans and makes her promise not to tell the teacher. However Ichika still has this bad feeling. Meanwhile it is raining and Tomoka can’t climb herself out of the ravine because it is slippery and the mud is rising. Soon Ichika’s heart can’t sit still so she and Manatsu go out in the rain to find her. Ichika can’t ask the teacher for help since she promised not to tell so she uses the stone to summon the Djinn of the Water to help her locate Tomoka. Once she finds her, together with Manatsu they pull her up and back to the safety of their dorm. That night, Tomoka thanks Ichika because her seriousness saved her. She hopes she won’t tell the teacher what happened. Ichika notes how she has been lying more and more since summer started and didn’t realize Manatsu’s heart crying.

Episode 5
Ever since Ichika got home, she can’t helped be bothered that whenever she uses the Djinn’s power, she also receives their sight powers. Of course useless Manatsu doesn’t know a thing. So Kai had to cheer her up by hinting something sight and light. Even the smallest light may reveal a solution. When Kai leaves, he is surprised to see Saya watching from her window. So he returns to tell Sei about it and yep, from the way they react, it’s something worrying. For tonight’s fireworks, Ichika lends Manatsu her yukata. Then they meet up with their friends and head to the beach. Won’t their yukatas get wet and messed up if they play in the salty sea water? Then Satsuki bumps into an old elementary friend of hers, Nozomu and his friend. Satsuki and Nozomu uneasy together… Could it be? So they visit the beach house but Satsuki asserts they are customers. Big brother thinks Satsuki has got a boyfriend but she vehemently denies. Even so, big brother is supporting her from behind to go for it. To kill time before the fireworks, the gang get properly dressed to play in the sea this time. We see Nozomu stealing glances and Satsuki she’s not her usual energetic self. The time for the fireworks closes in and the place is packed with people. Nozomu and Satsuki go buy refreshments. Nozomu wants to talk to Satsuki and hopes she would wait at a certain place after he finishes buying. However when Keiko comes into the picture, Nozomu takes her hand away to talk. Satsuki got tired of waiting and returns to her friends but finds out Nozomu and Keiko haven’t return yet and decides to go look for them. The fireworks are going to start… Ichika is also unsettled so with Manatsu she goes to look for her friends. I guess this only leaves Michiru and Nozomu’s friend, eh? As the fireworks begin, Ichika and Manatsu go under a bridge. Because it’s the best place without people seeing her using the stone power. With the Djinn of Fire’s help, Ichika hopes he could provide his sight to find her friends. Ichika sees Satsuki walking along the street. Straight ahead, they see something shocking. Nozomu confessing he likes Keiko and they both are kissing! When Ichika and Manatsu return and meet Satsuki, the latter tries to put up a strong act and brush everything aside. Eventually it’s better to let all her tears and frustrations out with a cry. Bringing her back to her friends, Ichika sees Kai and Sei so Satsuki wants Ichika to promise not to tell anyone she cried. Satsuki puts up a convincing performance that she never shed tears in the first place. Ichika realizes that even though with such sight, she couldn’t change anything or help anyone. When Keiko returns to her friends, they act as usual. Ichika narrates that despite borrowing the Djinn’s ability to see, she didn’t realize she was also being watched by others. Guess who?

Episode 6
Ichika does Manatsu’s homework regarding the Djinns. However Manatsu wonders if they are her true impressions since they felt somewhat forced. Ichika knows better that ever since she borrowed the Djinns’ powers, it became a painful experience for her and didn’t write it down. As Ichika and Manatsu return from the library, they spot Sei talking to Saya at a shrine. Ichika is shocked seeing them together as she tries to strain her ear on their conversation. Seems Saya mentions that they have nothing to do with each other. Because 6 years ago Sei already gave his answer. Rather, he did couldn’t answer. Sei knew he was wrong but she could’ve asked him directly. Manatsu feels they need to go but Ichika’s necklace gets stuck in the fence. Oh no. The rustling has attracted their attention. Quick! In her haste to run away, the necklace breaks as the beads scatter on the ground. Sei won’t let Saya leave but she warns him anything more will be considered breaking the rules. It starts to rain as the girls take shelter nearby. Ichika is confused why she ran away and more worried about Sei and Saya. Manatsu suggests using the stone. What?! So fast? After the transformation, Ichika finds herself way above the clouds and next to the Djinn of the Sky. It made her realize the sun never went away and soon the rain clears up and brings a smile to her face. Soon Ichika gets a cold and Manatsu stays by her side till she falls asleep. Ichika wakes up to clean her sweat when the doorbell rings. Sleepyhead Manatsu gets up to answer the door not knowing Ichika is naked in the room! It is Sei and he is here to pay Ichika a visit. Gosh. What to do now? When Manatsu brings Sei to Ichika’s room, the ill girl is in bed pretending to be still asleep. Yeah, she’s naked underneath the blanket. Hope nobody pulls it away. But why does Ichika have this dream of confronting Sei about his relation with Saya, naked herself? At least dream with some clothes on! Of course in reality she dare not ask such question. Sei puts his forehead on Ichika’s to check but she feels how cold his is and despite how close they are, felt he was distant. But I guess Sei knows what’s going on because he sees tears welling up her eyes. Before he leaves, he hands a present he got for Ichika to Manatsu. Later when Manatsu learns about her nudity underneath the sheets, she apologizes profusely. Wanting to know what present he got, Manatsu opens the package to see the necklace nicely stringed together. Oh dear. I guess this says it all. He knew she was there. Ichika felt so embarrassed she starts hiding underneath her blanket. She felt she wanted to run away but at that time, she was already unable to do so. Meanwhile Saya continues to keep watch from her home. Empty home. No furniture, no nothing!

Episode 7
Sei can’t believe how close Saya has been to Ichika. He blames himself for everything and doesn’t want Ichika to feel the way he does. Well, Kai thinks it’s himself who should take the blame. Now Manatsu is sick as Ichika nurses her. The doctor is called over but can the treatment have effect for the girl from the mirror? Well, the doctor didn’t find anything unusual except for the usual cold. Before the doctor leaves, Ichika asks about the sickness that involves eyes glowing in the dark. Of course he gives the scientific explanation about the pupils expanding, bla, bla, bla. He also has the romantic explanation that she may like somebody. Haha! Does she? Hmm… But it seems the eye glowing thingy is real because in her dark room, Ichika’s eyes are glowing red! She’s like a vampire! She feels ashamed of wanting to put the blame on Manatsu and breaks down. At that point, she felt she was slowly changing ever since she met Manatsu. She is afraid this unstoppable transformation would take over her. Next day, Manatsu gets better. While Ichika hangs the clothes to dry, she spots Saya in her house and thoughts of her and Sei floods her mind. It’s that gloomy feeling again. In her room, she opens an orgel that contains a pair of earrings her grandma gave to her. She was told to wear it when she’s older. Putting it on for size, she feels it doesn’t fit her. Guess who is she comparing her beauty with? Sei comes to tutor her that night and because Ichika notices him staring at Saya’s house direction, her heart becomes disturbed. Sei tries to change the subject by complimenting her earrings but she got embarrassed and rips them off. Thank goodness her ear didn’t rip off. Though, it hurts. Ouch. It becomes a little awkward for them then. As Sei leaves, he’ll take back the earring for Kai to fix and will give it back to her tomorrow. Ichika requests Kai to come tutor in the afternoon. She can’t say her reasons but it’s a time when Saya is out for work. Or so she thinks.

Next day, Ichika notices Saya has not left her house at all so with Kai arriving, she hopes to change the tutoring place to the library. But Kai doesn’t head there. Instead, he takes the girls to the park for the tutor. He too has his own reports to finish. It is then Ichika reveals to him she likes Sei. Kai also says he likes Sei too! OMG! Is he joking? Well, Ichika’s laughing. Kai hopes she could keep this a secret too. When Ichika says Kai is a bit like Manatsu, that girl strongly denies he is anything alike. Suddenly strong gusts of wind blow their report away. Ichika wants to go look for them (is Kai crazy wanting to write the entire report again?!) but Kai notices Ichika’s eyes glowing red. At a secluded spot, Ichika summons the Djinn of the Wind to help her retrieve the papers. Manatsu assures her whenever she is in this mode, people can’t see her. So this explains why she’s flying in the sky and nobody notices her. As she is collecting the papers, she spots Saya on the streets. Her heart starts beating harder so much so it causes a very strong wind but falls short to be classified as a mini hurricane. It blows Saya into a path of an oncoming car! Oh no! Ichika realizes what she is doing and changes the wind’s direction. Thankfully, nobody died. Ichika shivers at the thought she had done. She felt guilty and vows never to use the Djinn’s power again. Meanwhile, in Saya’s house it isn’t all that empty. At least she has a telephone. And she’s speaking to somebody that everything is going according to plan as instructed and that, that girl can no longer turn back.

Episode 8
Ichika seems to be acting distant. Her parents hope Manatsu can take care of her since this is her last summer here. Manatsu assures she has loved Ichika since then and will not betray her. When Ichika mentions that she wants to stop using the Djinn’s powers, Manatsu is okay with it. Really? As long as she doesn’t want the charm to return to normal. There’s that guilt trip again. Yeah. Since she got it from Sei, it’ll be hard for her not to cherish it. She takes back her words. Ichika dreams that dream again. The one with Manatsu and she always forgets when she wakes up. This time Manatsu’s words become clearer. We hear her apologizing because she’s going to kill Ichika! Or rather… Ichika strangling her?! Ichika meets her friends at school since they’ll be going to the hospital for volunteer work. They see the old building in the midst of demolition. At the hospital as the girls deliver their handmade wreaths, Ichika is about to hand hers to Mitsuki Shirasaka, a patient whom the nurse described as someone with amnesia. Nurses should be patient, understanding and caring like her despite Mitsuki throwing a fit. After giving her the wreath, Mitsuki gets upset that this aren’t flowers despite the wreath being made from dried flowers. In her fit, she bangs and destroys the wreath. The last straw comes when she calls them garbage. This is when something possessed Ichika and her hatred took over. She is going to use the Djinn’s powers and oblige Mitsuki’s wish of dying being surrounded by flowers. Deep down, the real Ichika cannot control her body but only watch helplessly as the event unfolds, her body moving by her own. Calling for the Djinn of Flowers, a whirlwind of petals fill the room, much to senile Mitsuki’s delight. Suddenly she starts suffocating as Ichika finally takes control of her body and stops everything. The nurse is called and Mitsuki starts calling her sister’s name, Shiho. As explained, Mitsuki loves flowers but was diagnosed with some allergy which led to an extreme case of hay fever. Because of the shock of not being able to continue running a flower shop, she tried to commit suicide several times and during an attempt she lost her memories including her sister. So when she called her then, it was as if she regained her memories and there was an air of happiness on her face. Shiho brushes her sight of dancing petals off as her delusion of flowers. So how can someone who loves flowers but allergic to it continue to live with flowers? Have fakes! Ichika doesn’t return home but to the old building to the school. She finds the mirror missing and breaks down as she realizes how she tried to blame Manatsu and a horrible girl she is. That night, Manatsu feels sick and despite receiving words of encouragement of Sei, she felt she doesn’t know what to believe in anymore and began to distrust herself. The mail was actually was sent by Kai and although he clearly knows this is breaking the rule, he is fully prepared to face any consequences. And did that mirror Manatsu came out from is with Saya?

Episode 9
Ichika continues to vomit and feel sickly. She receives mail from Keiko suggesting to go to Enoshima together. Ichika thinks of going and hopes Manatsu will come and keep an eye on her. But Manatsu says not to look at her with those eyes. Although she came out from a mirror and may be a weird person, she still wants to be her friend even if it’s only for this summer. Ichika realizes that Manatsu was hiding things from her just like she is to her. Next day with the friends taking a train trip to Enoshima, they spot a young boy and girl holding hands. Michiru points out it’s her little sister Rui and she saved up so she could go on this trip today with Yousuke. Not wanting to be a family spectator, Michiru gets off the next stop and goes home. When she alights, she sees Ichika’s eyes glowing red and hopes she’s just seeing things. During the journey, Keiko mentions Nozomu had never called her or replied her mails. So you can say it’s somewhat over between them. She wonders if it’s her family background or herself. Satsuki tries to cheer her up that kids are always being dragged around by one-sided adults. This also shortly reminded her of her own tragic past. At Enoshima, I’m not sure if the girls are following Rui and Yousuke on purpose but they’re enjoying the sightseeing too. Sei arrives at Enoshima on his bike and hopes he isn’t too late. Well, guess. If Saya’s there too… At the lover’s bell, a board where couples write their names on the lock and put it here, they see a lock that has Nozomu’s name. And another girl, Minami. It can’t be him, right? How many Nozomus are there in this world? Then the Nozomu we all know pops into the scene with his girlfriend. So it’s true then. Happy-happy aren’t they? Then he sees Ichika. Oh sh*t. He takes Minami and leave but Satsuki slaps him! Not wanting to cause a scene, he takes his girl and leaves.

While the girls take a break, Keiko reveals the mail to Enoshima was wrongly sent by Nozomu. Since she was scared to ascertain it herself, she called her friends. Though she admits she feels relieved now, Ichika could suddenly hear Keiko’s inner voice. She is crying her heart out. Ichika couldn’t take any more of it and runs away. As Saya notes, she no longer has no control over her sight, but her other senses as well. This means the stone starts activating by itself even if Ichika doesn’t want to use it. With the Djinn of Thunder, the lightning strike causes not only blackout to the entire area but anything electronic stops functioning. Ichika thought that bond between people shouldn’t be connected by artificial tools. How about that grandpa with the pacemaker then? Meanwhile Keiko takes this opportunity to cry in the dark. Satsuki also cries along with her after remembering her very abusive father. Ichika sees Rui and Yousuke and the boy feels sad to part with her because he will be changing schools. Ichika finally regains control over herself and the power comes back on. Of course it’s already too late by the time Sei arrives. Seeing her eyes are still red, Sei gives her sunglasses to cover them up. Saya notes how he cheated but it’s still within the rules. I don’t know how far Ichika’s home is but they walk all the way back from Enoshima?! Isn’t Sei tired of pushing his bike? Ichika is still in shock, scared of herself and thus unable to believe. Sei thinks it’s time to tell her the truth.

Episode 10
Suddenly Sei is whisked away by Saya. Sei isn’t happy Saya is going to do the same thing to Ichika what she did to him 6 years ago. Saya says Ichika has taken in 9 Djinns’ power and 7 of them were for experience trial. All that’s left is to watch and see what path she chooses. As penalty, Sei is turned into stone and will only ‘wake up’ once Ichika chooses in the end. What’s this? Kai is Saya’s accomplice? Ichika’s heart continues to waver. One rainy day she goes out to the cliffs with intention to dispose the stone. But as she throws it away, the stone returns to her. Damn. Can’t even get rid of it. There’s only one way left. Is it? Why is Ichika standing on the edge of the cliff? No! Don’t do it! Manatsu’s call startles her and she slips off. What the? Manatsu manages to grab her and they pull each other back up. Taking a breather, Manatsu admits she is not human. Erm… Tell me something that would surprise me, please? Because if she was human, she would’ve been something else. Eh? Say what? She doesn’t want Ichika to die and if somebody had to die, it should be her. That’s why she shouldn’t kill and lose herself. Ichika hugs her. Back home, Ichika faces reality that with 3 more powers, everything will be over. She has decided not to run away anymore. Maybe she wants to end it faster because food now tastes bitter. The family takes a drive to the graves to deliver flowers. Ichika can’t contact Michiru since there is no signal and vice versa. Michiru thinks it’s bad timing. As for Rui, she cheers her up that though Yousuke will be transferring, no matter how far apart and as long as they want to see each other, they’ll definitely meet again some time. The parents talk to the priest and upon learning Ichika will soon be 14 years old, he notes it has been 16 years since that dream. The dream whereby the other child is the child that came from their dream. Eh? What? Flashback reveals grandma came here with the couple to pray for a healthy child. She also mentioned about their strange dream. In that dream, the parents met a faceless Manatsu. Suppose she gives birth to a child and if that child grows up and brings a friend over in summer, will they treat her as one of their own? They promise to do so. And so Ichika was born. Hmm… Maybe that’s why when Manatsu came to stay, they welcomed her with open arms. Ichika has heard the conversation and can’t think that the various things that happened this summer were scheduled by someone before her birth. She starts remembering a somewhat similar dream.

Ichika wants to talk to Manatsu and asks if she is her ally. But Manatsu though she doesn’t want to lie anymore but the rules have it that she can only be her guide and not her ally. If she breaks the rules, she won’t see Ichika anymore. But Manatsu can’t answer Ichika’s question and was instantly rebuked that she’s lying. Suddenly the stone activates the Djinn of Darkness. Using the spirits of the dead, Manatsu fears she may be too late because all the ghosts of the graves are appearing. Thriller? Oh, sorry. Those were zombies. Anyway Manatsu sees Ichika’s grandma and her dog. To her surprise, they are friendly and smile before disappearing. When everything returns to normal, Manatsu thought she would’ve abused the Djinn’s power. Ichika replies it was because she made a promise on that day they first met. No matter how small things are, they shouldn’t lie about important things. Eh? Unless all that has happened weren’t important or what they said weren’t lies… Ichika feels she has always ran away and lied and this time she decided to stand up and fight. Manatsu notes how strong she has become. Back home, Ichika tries to call Sei for the change in tutor schedule but he’s not picking up. Sand people can’t pick up their phones. But Kai picks it up on his behalf and lies he got accepted to a university seminar. Then he quickly hangs up citing he is busy. Saya notes they will soon find out if she will have the same results but Kai remarks everyone is different. Though Ichika felt she has learnt the real Manatsu for the first time, there is little time left before the day of their parting.

Episode 11
This time Ichika has a different dream. Manatsu and bubbles? And herself? She thinks it’s a dream made from her heart and Manatsu’s thoughts. There is 1 week left before Ichika’s family will move to Milan, Italy and they’re already starting to pack things. Ichika wonders what happened to Sei ever since he suddenly vanished that day. She fears she can’t properly say goodbye to him. She gets a call from Satsuki to come to the pool right now. Well, she doesn’t have other plans, does she? Thanks to Keiko’s ‘connections’, be glad they’ll be spending time at the hotel’s pool. Otherwise they’d be cramming with the crowd at the public pool. Since it’s not the sea water, Michiru can take a dip so Keiko asks since she can see things, do sea monsters and ghosts exist. Let’s say Michiru is pretty ambiguous with her answer but enough to send the girls shrieking. This prompts Ichika to ponder how Michiru sees Manatsu. Meanwhile Kai also reminisces about the old times. He too came through the mirror and into Sei’s life. They did so many things together and Sei also underwent all those transformations with the Djinns’ power. When it was time, Saya wanted him to decide but he couldn’t. Since that sort of answer was against the rules, she considered the test as a failure and was about to give punishment when Kai came in between. Kai realized he had only been inflicting pain on him all the while. Michiru talks to Ichika and wants to confirm if she’s the Ichika they know because she has changed ever since Manatsu came. Ichika’s heart starts beating faster and faster but the tension is interrupted when their friends pull a prank on them.

Later Michiru talks to Ichika again and should at least tell each other about their troubles. Manatsu is worried because spilling the truth would be against the rules. Ichika then tells her she is moving away and didn’t tell them because she wanted to spend her last summer like normal and didn’t want to worry them. But this doesn’t surprise Michiru. Their teacher already told them before the summer vacation. However Michiru knows this is not what is worrying her. What’s she talking about? The outage at Enoshima ring a bell? She thinks Manatsu is dragging her deeper into trouble. Suddenly Ichika’s stone activate and she makes a run for it. The Djinn of the Ocean materializes and sends a huge tsunami hurtling towards land. Everyone panics to escape but the girls know they won’t make it in time and accepts their fate. Just watch the ‘beautiful’ scenery, eh? Ichika tries to stop the tsunami. Does tsunami have ears? Because if they do, I’m sure it would stop if she tells it to. Then she gets swallowed. Duh. Manatsu wants to use her powers to save her but Saya says that is against the rules. Screw that! I’m not sure what Manatsu did but it was painful as hell because she’s screaming. The tsunami disappears and Saya turns Manatsu unconscious. Ichika and Michiru help bring Manatsu back when Ichika spots Saya. Michiru asks if she knows that woman because she gets the same feeling as with Manatsu. Furthermore, she is gradually getting that same feeling from Ichika. While walking along, Ichika collapses.

Episode 12
After helping Ichika put Manatsu back in bed, she leaves. After that, Ichika goes over to Saya house. Inside, she is surprised to see the mirror but as Saya says it belonged to her. Ichika wants to know who she really is because she remembers this house was empty and for sale up till summer vacation. She must have deceived her with an illusion that she had always been living here. It was to show her a few things. For starters, Sei in stone form. Ichika blames herself for this outcome but Kai says he is the one to blame. He has also brought Manatsu here as instructed. Saya says Kai and Manatsu are her ‘children’ and do what they are told but Manatsu says when they’re in human form, they are themselves. Saya metes out her punishment to Manatsu by slamming her to the wall. That’s it? As Ichika is being crucified on the mirror, Saya explains Sei and Ichika were given the fate of being a test case for the human race. Say what? Because of children’s innocence and adults with impure heart, that’s why 14 year olds are chosen because they are in between the transition. They are shown through the eyes of the Djinns how they feel and what the world looks in their eyes. Because humans are such vague existences, the 7 virtues said to be the beauty of the mind and soul, when inverted can be the 7 deadly sins. Love becomes resentment, pride becomes temperance, devotion turns to neglect, honesty becomes lies, reason and passion become foolishness and lust, wisdom turns to deception, sense of balance and moderation becomes overindulgence and self denial. Saya mentions she became worse than Sei and ended up hating the human race and herself. And thus the choice that needs to be made: Eliminate the human race or herself. Because the mirror reflects the world, people and beautiful things, Saya will be today’s Djinn and will reflect the truth.

Saya wants Ichika to choose, the choice that Sei couldn’t choose 6 years ago. The penalty was death but Kai went against her instructions and pleaded for his life to be spared. Kai’s penalty was that he will age and die like a human but he is okay with it. But in turn, Sei must give a part of his life, something that Sei agreed to. So what is Ichika’s choice going to be? Thinking back about Michiru’s words before she left how everyone loves her and would like to love Manatsu, Ichika is ready to give her answer. She will choose NEITHER. Eh? Isn’t that the same as unable to choose? You see, no doubt there are people she likes and hates and things about herself she loves and disgusts, she wants to live so that she can change. There is no point if she’s dead, right? She thinks this is what everybody wants too because they want to know about oneself day after day as one’s current self and the world isn’t everything. Though Saya understands her feelings, however by being unable to choose, she has broken the rules and there will be a penalty. Manatsu tries to stop Saya but was flung away. I don’t know how but Sei was strong enough to break out from his stone mode and take the stab of Saya’s scythe. It’s not so bad since it’s just his palm, right? Or is it? Sei wants Saya to kill him instead since he was the one being tested in the first place but Saya says his punishment was decided 6 years ago. Ichika then strengthens her mind and believes all is a lie, there is no pain. It doesn’t hurt. She gets herself out from her crucifix and pulls the scythe away from Sei’s hand before licking the bloodied palm. When the scythe stabs Ichika’s chest, it absorbs her blood. Saya says humans are foolish because they spill blood over meaningless things.

Kai rebukes that she is also a spirit of the mirror just like them and should know better that the human form they take on have strong hearts. Manatsu also believes in that and questions the importance of a mirror’s truth. She believes in Ichika that people can change over time. Manatsu returns the blood on the scythe to Ichika. Kai is going to give back what he had been keeping for Sei. Then a yaoi moment because Kai kisses Sei! OMG! Kai turns into a mirror shard. Manatsu is also going to do the same to Ichika but the latter doesn’t want to. Manatsu assures her it is all just a dream and she’ll forget everything once she wakes up. Now it’s for yuri moment. Manatsu kisses her and also turns into a mirror shard. Of course Ichika knows that this isn’t a dream and what she is experiencing now is just a dream and soon passes out. Saya retrieves the stone and makes the call. She apologizes that the results were unsatisfying but on the contrary, the guy is okay with it. In fact, he is happy with the outcome of Ichika’s half answer. Because to deny one’s own death is the same as denying yourself. He also calls Saya a ‘liar’ because even if a mirror never shows the truth, there is nothing more uncontrolled than a distorted mirror. This is the reason why Saya wants to search for the truth in the illusion. So the next step now is the find the next one. Ichika and Sei wake up the next morning in the empty house. In the aftermath, Ichika prepares to go to school with her friends. Her father has left for Italy but Ichika doesn’t need to go and stays back. She narrates about the memories of a girl who disappeared along with summer and wonders if this life is entirely hers. She is still keeping the mirror shard in her drawer. As they are always being watched and tested by nature and the world, if they can love themselves they see as reflections in mirrors, they’ll definitely be alright. Elsewhere a little girl is reading Snow White and didn’t like how because of the mirror’s truth, the parent and child are fighting. Saya is watching her and thinks of showing it to her. Here we go all over again.

Episode 13 (OVA)
Half a year later as Ichika goes out with her friends, they mention they think saw Manatsu and thinks of calling her to have fun together. But Ichika knows better that she disappeared during summer. Later Ichika sees her mother off at the airport since she is going to Italy to be with her father. Ichika assures her she’ll be alright by herself. This scene prompts her to remember how she also saw Sei off as he went to Germany to study abroad. He also has Kai’s shard and brought it along with him. When she returns, she sees Michiru in front of her house. She mentions that she too confirmed seeing Manatsu and lost sight of her. Rather, it may be she’s trying not to let her see her. Ichika is worried what Manatsu was doing for a week then. Ichika returns home, she is shocked to see her shard missing. Meanwhile over in Germany, Sei is out in town and loses his scarf to the wind but surprisingly Kai picks it up. He’s back! As they spend time together, Kai says he can’t stay forever and that it’s time to say goodbye. Ichika rushes out to the empty house next door but finds the door locked. Then she sees Manatsu before her. However she claims she is Manatsu’s twin sister, Mafuyu and thanks Ichika for looking after her. Too bad Ichika could see through that lie and knows she is Manatsu herself. While they are bathing together, Manatsu apologizes and answers Ichika’s question about her friends seeing her is that she was just pretending and a warm up. She also mentions that she was around Ichika all the time but only because normal people couldn’t see her. So Ichika was worried over nothing, eh? After reminiscing the times they met and the times they’ve been through, when it starts snowing they go out and play in the snow. Ichika receives mail from her friends wishing her happy birthday.

As Ichika and Manatsu are having coffee, Manatsu tells the heart breaking news that she is here to say goodbye. This doesn’t surprise Ichika because she knows this is coming. Her shard is missing and that her return was to give a proper farewell. She’ll be alright because they’ve always been together. They emotionally hug and wish goodbye. Ichika suddenly feels sleepy so Saya appears here to pick her up. She thinks Manatsu should at least say farewell with a smile even if it’s a lie. But Manatsu thinks that will be against the rules so Saya counters that mentioning a white lie. I guess there’s always a way round when you’re an adult. Manatsu gives Ichika a peck on the cheek and disappears. It’s goodbye for real. In the world of mirrors, Kai and Manatsu’s shard return to be one as the mirror. Next day, Ichika wakes up and Manatsu is gone for good. Ichika’s friends celebrate her birthday at her home. Ichika receives mail from Sei wishing her happy birthday. She is delighted to see a picture he sent of himself and Kai. He too is glad to see a picture of Ichika and Manatsu together. Spring arrives and Ichika is now a third year student. She narrates about meetings and partings, how they’re growing up and understand better of each other.

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…
So the end forever? Well, I’m sure if Ichika and Manatsu can’t continue to be together, at least she has the memories of the time spent with her to get by. For Ichika, the summer must be a very valuable lesson for her because she changed to a different person. From a polite, reserved and honest girl, she suddenly starts to lie and hide about things, something she is uncomfortable with but for reasons that she fears others might get into trouble or offended if she did. That’s nice of her but it proves detrimental because it’s like making a mountain out of a molehill. When you start lying, there is always this snowball effect and it gets bigger and bigger till it is out of control. Ichika becomes emotionally unstable to the point she begins to distrust and hate herself. But because of Manatsu and her friends’ support, Ichika eventually realized that running away isn’t the answer. She realized that she has to stand up and face what is coming. Only then she will know what true freedom is. Unlike a mirror that reflects exactly what you see in it, Manatsu seems to be like the opposite of Ichika.  She is carefree and outgoing and the perfect person to complement Ichika. After all, they are each other’s half although Manatsu is just a mirror’s shard. In the end Manatsu too realized the importance of being Ichika’s friend is. Screw whatever rules and tests because you can’t simply make or buy friendship overnight. During the time Ichika was sick, I thought she was going through her period! I mean she’s showing signs and symptoms of it, right? Vomiting, mood swings, lethargic. All too familiar…

Speaking of Saya, I find it hard to believe that she decides to use a single 14 year old as her test subject for mankind. I mean, it’s like jumping to conclusion for everything after just testing a very small and limited sample. That would be unfair, right? What if she had picked a bad apple? He or she may have a screw loose in the head and wishes for world destruction. Would Saya happily oblige by that decision? More importantly, would that be fair to the other people who are innocent and pure hearted and have nothing to do with it all? Thank goodness she didn’t meet Hitler. Oh, I’m not sure if his mind has already descended into evil when he was 14 years old. I know Saya is giving off this mysterious aura because she’s always there watching you wherever you are but she always speaks of breaking or not within the rules but doesn’t really explain what they are. I believe you’re supposed to guess but I’m too dumb for that. From what I understand is that those mirror shards are supposed to guide their subjects in making their decision of destroying themselves or the world without them knowing their true nature or purpose and also without interfering that would lead them to discover so. Unless every rule breaking warning is in reference to the discovery of their true purpose. Of course there are always loopholes to exploit. But really, who is this Saya person anyway? What gives her the right to pass judgment when one makes or refuses to decide? And who is this mysterious person on the other end of the phone? I hope he is not God. If this is how mankind is supposed to be tested, I can’t imagine how Judgment Day will be like. It just doesn’t feel right that mankind is judged on the whimsical of a 14 year old.

As for Ichika’s friends, they play good supporting role to Ichika but not for the series I feel. Sure, they are minor roles but that’s about it. After getting short interesting flashbacks of Satsuki’s abusive father and the kind of wealthy and protected family Keiko hails from, I thought there would be an episode to delve deeper in their troubles. Then maybe we see how Ichika uses the power of the Djinns to help them overcome them. Guess not. Michiru is also a mystery herself the way she speaks and the ability to see things. Whether this is true or not (because Michiru doesn’t agree or oppose this fact) there are hints that indicate she can tell changes that are happening to Ichika. Or maybe if you’re close to her for so long, you can tell if your friend changes bit by bit. I also thought that she would play a role in the revelation whatsoever. But she’s just like the rest of the friends playing spectator that’s all. Perhaps Michiru knows too well that Ichika should solve this by herself and not get too deep. Only provide a helping hand when really needed. The other minor characters are also something that is left to be desired. For example Nao’s case. So she had her circumstances, left bitter and eventually wrote Ichika an apology letter, so what? Maki and Ryou? Last time we see them, they’re still together. Satsuki’s brother? The siblings did bring up talk about their family but it ended just there. Nozomu? He moved on to another girl. Rui? Long distance relationship for the little ones. Mitsuki? She continues to be a nut case. Most of these little stories are interesting and could be better if they are expanded a little. But I guess we’re more focused on Ichika instead.

As you may have guessed the series tries to address to us about the negative deeds that human can do. From the basics of lying to self denial. Although the negative aspects are what makes us human and interesting, of course too much is never a good thing. Duh. As humans, you need to have the right balance and mix of good and bad traits. Being too good can be harmful too. For instance, you give all your money to those in need and none for yourself. What happens to you? Dead, right? For Ichika to realize her habit of lying is good but she needs to do something about it before it becomes too late. I just don’t understand what was it that possessed her to use the Djinns’ power. Maybe it is her dark side taking over? Well, everybody has that side. So maybe even if she is conscious of what her body is doing on her own, she can’t do anything to stop it because the darkness of her heart is too great or overwhelming to come to a halt that giving oral orders won’t suffice.

There are a few things that I didn’t understand. For example why did Sei give Ichika his charm? I’m sure he fully knows the torment he went through so why pass it to Ichika in the first place? Of course at that point he didn’t know Saya was living close to her but really, if that stone brings back bad memories, why shove it to somebody else? Besides, why was he keeping it for 6 years before finally deciding to bury it? Assuming that Ichika is Saya’s next subject after Sei, what was she doing in between for 6 years? I believe that she may be going around the world to test other kids but from their conversation, I understood that there were no other subjects in between them. So yeah. Why the big gap there? Okay, so assume that there are others in between, then I could only conclude that the other kids have made the choice to eliminate themselves (how noble) or an answer that was neither. That’s because mankind is still around and if those kids really couldn’t decide like Sei, I’m sure Saya would’ve came to a conclusion that kids at that age aren’t good subjects to decide to fate of mankind because so many were unable to choose. It shows Saya didn’t learn from the experiments, right? For the sake of argument, supposed some kid wishes for elimination of mankind, that makes that kid the only one left in this world, right? Wouldn’t that be the same as committing yourself? Nobody else in this world except you. Or… The kid will also die because that kid is after all human and part of mankind, right? Haha. About that dream that Ichika keeps dreaming, what happened to it? Wasn’t one supposed to kill the other? Well, if Ichika doesn’t remember much about it, why should we be bothered about it? Maybe Ichika’s end choice affected this? If she kills Manatsu then it’s like killing humanity? Another mind boggling thing is that if Manatsu came into her parents’ dream, then Ichika’s destiny was already mapped out 16 years ago, right? That’s an awfully long time if you ask me.

Though it is interesting to see Ichika change into different magical girl outfits in each episode depending on the Djinn they summon, however their appearance are too brief and don’t really have an impact. Unless you just love to see their designs but to me they just look okay and nothing extraordinary. Later as I found out, each costume was designed by a different guest artist. Speaking of the Djinns, I thought those huge deities looked like characters that you would probably see in fantasy RPG. Really. I mean, look at their clothing designs. Don’t you think they look like fearsome warriors than spirits? The Djinns’ appearance felt redundant. Do they play any significant role besides showing us visual proof as Ichika uses the power of the stones? Just like Ichika’s costumes, they just appear for a short time and because they don’t move, it makes them feel like they’re just oversized statues that nobody can see. For the Djinn of Darkness, I thought it was quite docile when it showed its powers. Because of his name I thought he would hold some devastating powers. Maybe he does but because Ichika managed to control them so he doesn’t seem to be fearsome as expected. Oh, over the course of the series, you will notice a very small amount of panty shots. It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss kind of scenario. It’s nothing ‘exciting’ if you ask me ;p. Not even the beach episodes despite having 2 of them… Or the pool episode too. With the exception of Keiko, the rest were just like ‘washboards’. Oops ;p.

For the voice acting, I didn’t think they were extraordinary and rather okay. The only one that caught my attention was Yukari Tamura as Michiru. Though she wasn’t putting up her cute shrieky trademark voice, her deadpan and ominous voice still makes her identifiable because she has also voice such mysterious character roles before like Mayuyu in AKB0048, Ringo from Onegai Teacher and Lemon from Ano Natsu De Matteru. The other casts include Youko Honda as Ichika (Katou in Bakuman S2, Mana in Sola), Masumi Asano as Manatsu (Hakufu in Ikkitousen), Maria Kawamura as Saya (Naga The Serpent in Slayers series), Nobuo Tobita as Sei (Tokura in Dragon Crisis), Nobutoshi Hayashi as Kai (Tasuki in Fushigi Yuugi), Tomoko Kawakami as Satsuki (Misuzu in Air) and Yurika Ochiai as Keiko (Konomi in ToHeart2). Both the opening and ending themes are sung by Savage Genius with the opening piece entitled Omoi Wo Kanadete and Itsuka Tokeru Namida as the ending song.

Because of such grim topics seen in each episode and the increasing dilemma and pressure Ichika has to face, you would be forgetting that this is a magical girl series. So next time, take a good look at yourself when looking in the mirror. Do you see what you want to see or do you see the exact opposite? They say it reflects the truth because it replicates exactly what is seen. However the reflection you see in the mirror is always inverse, right? This could mean that even though what you see may be strikingly similar to the truth but it could also mean it is very much the opposite. Ultimately the mirror is just a tool and it is up to yourself to believe if you are a beautiful person or something else. How can others see you as beautiful if you yourself don’t see yourself as one? There is always self denial… Ah, there’s always a way around things. The next time if somebody does come out of the mirror, just be thankful that at least it isn’t Sadako coming out from the TV to get you!

High School DxD

December 16, 2012

If you think the relationship between Gods and Demons were just like cats and dogs, then you don’t really know much about all those deeper and complicated stuff that happened way before you were born in a place that wasn’t on Earth. I won’t say watching High School DxD would be suffice to explain that first line, in fact it is just a prelude, tip of the iceberg. Don’t fret. This anime isn’t intended to make you change your faith to either God or Demons. Instead, you’re supposed to be in for the ecchi fanservice. Yeah! Love that word? Unless you have zero tolerance for ecchi then you should get the hell out of here because it might just contaminate your pure soul as every bad ecchi scene is like the tainted demon.

So basically for the storyline, all you need to know is just this. Normal high school guy is a pervert. Yes, you need that in the main protagonist if you’re going to make this ecchi genre work. He wants his own harem. He can’t. Because he’s a loser. By the time he amazingly gets his first girlfriend (note, no divine intervention), he steps into something dark and sinister. Gets killed, revived, become somebody’s servant and learns he possesses something really valuable and powerful within his body. Must learn to control it, use that powerful wisely because he’ll be facing loads of powerful creatures who wants him dead. In the mean time, being a servant to some master isn’t all that bad if your master is a real hot sexy busty babe. Oh yeah. And if she has a club with a few girls in it, he is one step closer to his harem dream, eh? Can he become his own harem king or will they step all over him? Who cares about all that complicated Angels and Demons stuff because what he needs (and us) are some girls flocking around his side while he gets used to his new life. I suppose some exciting things in life only happen after you die.

Just like in very heavily ecchi themed animes, there will always be the eternal choice of 2 types of viewing. Depending on how desperate/perverted/conscious-minded you are, it’s either you want to watch the censored version or the uncensored one. And if you really want to see everything off and have the patience, wait for the DVDs and Blu-Rays to come out. So the version that I have watched is the uncensored one. Not because I’m a major pervert like the main protagonist (okay, you can blame a part of me for that but not entirely) but I guess from everybody’s comment and ‘past experience’ that if you are going to decide and watch this kind of genre, viewing some skin and in this series, bare tits are a necessary evil. At least for this series they don’t overdo it like Seikon No Qwaser or Manyuu Hikenchou so the bare breasts are still bearable (mind the pun).

Episode 1
Why are perverts like Issei Hyoudou, Matsuda and Motohama in Kuou Academy? It was once an all-girls school and now it has gone co-ed. What does this mean? They’re here to make their own harem. But 2 years have passed and they’re still girlfriendless. More accurately, losers. Unless you’re like the handsome honours student, Yuuto Kiba that girls would swoon over, kiss that dream goodbye. Still they haven’t give up and go peep at the kendo girls changing. The commotion they caused trying to take a peep has alerted their presence and I suppose they must be regulars for the girls to note that it is theses bozos again. It’s time for pain. While Issei is ruing his chance to his pals, they notice a red haired girl, Rias Gremory looking at them from her Occult Club. She too seems to take a curiosity towards Issei. That evening, a girl Yuuma Amano claims she has been watching Issei for a long time and wants him to go out with her. Woah. WOAH! Wait a minute! This better not be a dream! Issei brags to his buddies that he has a girlfriend now and even plan to go out on a date this weekend. Meanwhile Rias has her subjects observe Issei. They will leave things as they are now because everything will be up to him. As Issei waits for Yuuma, a strange promoter gives him a strange card. But after that it’s the highly anticipated date. Yeah, he’s having so much fun especially looking at her boobs that he almost choked on his drink. That good, huh? At the end of the day, she wants a final request. Can this be it? Kiss? Sex? Neither. Die. Eh? Say what? JUST DIE! Yuuma transforms into her true form. Let’s say she has black feather wings and in even scanty clothes. So scanty that Issei could even quip he saw her naked boobs during her transformation. Yuuma stabs him with her Spear of Light and says if he wants to blame somebody, curse the gods who placed the sacred gear within his body. Issei lies in his pool of blood, confused what’s going on. Even in near death he got the cheek to say he should’ve touched those boobs if he knew he was going to die. Regret now? Yeah, he would even prefer to die in Rias’ humungous boobs. Then suddenly an insignia is formed over his blood and from the strange card emerges Rias. She too has those wings as she tells him that since he is going to die, she’ll pick up his soul. He will be living for her sake. This better be a dream.

Seems like it when Issei wakes up in his bed next morning. His friends have no recollection who Yuuma is. There is no proof that she exists. Not even the email that she gave Issei is in his handphone anymore. While his friends are watching porn, Issei just feels one kind. Something is wrong. Even though they shut off the lights, the room still feels bright for him. Then he leaves. He notices his visions have heightened in the darkness and can also hear distance voices. He wanders to the park where he supposedly died. A Fallen Angel, Donashik appears before him and well, tries to kill him. He is saying Issei has no magic sign or symbol on him. No indication of any master or allies. He must be a Stray. Get all what he is saying? No? Then run! Issei runs for his life and even quips if he is going to get killed again, might as well be that cute babe. No such luck this time. His lance already stabbed through his stomach. He would’ve been dead for real if Rias and her underlings didn’t show up to protect Issei. Donashik recognizes Rias as the next head of the Gremory family. They both exchange ‘pleasantries’ and warn each other if the other is being careless. Donashik backs down for now and flies away. Rias admits she was careless over Issei but won’t let him die. Next morning, Issei wakes up in his room. Naked. Was it a dream? Then he sees Rias sleeping next to him. NAKED! Do you want this to be a dream or not?! No choice. Rias says this is reality. Here is another reality check. She is a Demon and is Issei’s master. I don’t this has anything to do with S&M play.

Episode 2
What happens when you mother walks into the room? In Issei’s case, she ran out to complain to daddy that despite it’s normal for boys to masturbate in the morning (is it? I think daddy must’ve done it himself before), her son is having intercourse with a foreigner! This is going to be an international scandal! Rias allows Issei to look at her breasts all he wants (Hallelujah!) and explains how she shared her powers to heal his body. That’s why they’re naked (Praise the Lord!). Don’t worry, she’s still a virgin. Why does Issei looked so disappointed? So when popular idol such as Rias walks to school with a loser like Issei, there are lots of fans and admirers from both sides of the gender in shock. What the hell? Later Yuuto picks up Issei to bring him to the Occult Club. I’m sure those girls are darn jealous and worried Issei might just ‘taint’ him. I think they got too wild an imagination. In the club room, he is introduced to loli Koneko Toujou and vice president Akeno Himejima. I’m sure he is loving this place. Great girls and there’s a shower to boot. Oh, here comes Rias out of the shower. Wonderful club! On to serious stuff, Rias explains this club is just a facade. They are all Demons. Yes, you heard that right. Fallen Angels were Angels who once served God but cast away due to their wickedness. They try to take control of humans to destroy Demons. Since ancient times, there has been a war for supremacy for hell between Angels, Demons and Fallen Angels. So it’s basically a three-way fight. Why the heaven would Angels want to control hell? This is too much for Issei to comprehend. I guess if it doesn’t involve boobs and panties, he’s not interested. Rias shows him a picture of Amano. Proof that she really exists. About others don’t remember about her, she used her powers to erase memories (just like what Rias did to Issei’s parents to make them open minded about their morning nudity). The Fallen Angels’ goal was to kill him after ascertaining if he had a weapon that could kill them. That weapon is Sacred Gear and has enough power to kill Fallen Angels and Demons. Rias has Issei draw out his Sacred Gear. But I guess with him so fixated on a certain part of her body, he can’t fully concentration. Yeah, his concentration is elsewhere. As for Issei being alive, when he was dying, he summoned her via the strange card with a pentagram. So Issei is being reborn as a Demon’s servant. Issei couldn’t believe he is one of them now. Better believe it because he got those wings too.

However there is one plus point to all this. As no one can draw magic circles to summon Demons nowadays, they give out those cards to people whom they think can summon them. So Issei may get his own servants and yeah, do lots of stuff he wants on them. Oh yes! He’s glad he’s not human anymore. He wasn’t one to begin with in the decency and morals department. Koneko has got some contracts so Rias wants Issei to help out and he might get his very own pact. She gives him the mark of the Gremory Clan on his palm. But all that hyped set up of the setup is for nought because Issei can’t teleport. So he has to pathetically ride all the way there with his bicycle. Yeah, a Demon on a bike. The person who is supposed to sign the contract, Morisawa isn’t happy it isn’t Koneko because it was her he summoned. Till Issei throws his pathetic tantrum that he lets him in. Then they get into some debate about their strongest favourite character of a manga series. Huh? In the end, Issei left without getting him to sign the contract. Suddenly a Fallen Angel babe appears. She is not happy Issei is alive because he is supposed to be dead. She sees his mark and never thought the Gremory Clan would take him in. Is Issei going to die again? Thinking he needs a power to beat her, remembering Rias’ words to focus and the inspiration from that debate with Morisawa, his Sacred Gear materializes on his left hand and blows that babe away. At least stark naked. She is so shocked with his power that she decides to report back first before she kills him. I guess this means he lives for another day. Though Rias praises Issei for being able to summon his Sacred Gear, this has also put them in a bad spot because the Fallen Angels have learnt he has been rescued and resurrected as a Demon. Next morning, it is one of those aftermath mornings. Don’t feel too good after getting scolded by Rias. That kind of worried feeling if he’ll screw up. But the day is brightened up when a cute loli nun trips, Asia Argento accidentally giving him a great full fanservice view of her white pantsu. Just the great morning kick start he needs.

Episode 3
Yeah, Issei even thinks the need of taking advantage of this cute girl. Asia seems lost so Issei guides her to the only church in town. Along the way, he witnesses her healing a boy’s wound and his left hand reacted. Though at a distance, Issei could feel the uneasiness of the church. What do you expect when a Demon trespasses on God’s property? Asia thanks Issei for his kindness and hopes he would drop by the church. Issei tells this to Rias and he gets another lecture not to go there. I mean it’s pretty common sense, right? Demons and Angels don’t mix. Getting close to a church is like accepting your own death. Especially if there is an Exorcist affiliated with the church and some of them can use Sacred Gear. The gang gets word there is a Stray Demon. The kind that betray or kill their master to do as they please. Their mission tonight is to suppress one. Rias explains about chess pieces and how high level Demons can bestow such characteristics to their underlings. They are the Evil Pieces and she wants Issei to watch them fight. The Stray appears but all Issei sees is an exhibitionist women with great boobs. Such a pervert in such dangerous times. Till she starts shooting acid from her boobs! As her underlings attack, Rias explains their roles and characteristics. Yuuto the knight has his attribute in speed and specializes in sword, Koneko the rook has insane strength and defence and Akeno the queen though possesses all other attributes of the other pieces, her focus in on attacking via magic power. It looks like Akeno is a sadist when she’s at her top form. With Rias as the king, she finishes off the Stray. Of course Issei is curious to know his role. He is a pawn because he is a soldier. Man, that’s the lowest and weakest of them all. What does he expect? Bishop?

Issei enters a house for another contract job. However he finds blood all over the place and the summoners dead. The Stray Exorcist, Freed Sellzen is responsible for this. He is crazy and reckless. He does not show mercy on those who seek to make a contract with demons. He whips out his Sword of Light and gun with anti-Demon bullets. Issei got shot in his thigh. Then Asia screams because the beginner priestess just realized the horror she is getting into. Asia is shocked to learn Issei is a demon but even so, she protects him from Freed’s harm because she believes Issei is a wonderful person. Freed is not amused and proceeds to punish her. Rape? I think it is him who has something wrong in his head. Despite the bullet weakening him, Issei manages to stand up and punch that jerk in the face. Freed is really going to kill him when a magic circle appears. Herald his comrades. For an Exorcist, Freed really has a foul mouth and his words and ideals are twisted. Rias apologizes to Issei that because of the barrier, she couldn’t detect a Stray Exorcist and let him got hurt again. Freed blames Asia for failing to setup the barrier and beats her up. Rias is going to punish him for hurting her servant and harming his own belonging (that’s Asia) and is going to punish him. Freed realizes the powerful sh*t he is getting into but Koneko detects the presence of multiple Fallen Angels. Since their priority is to rescue Issei, Rias orders Akeno to prepare to teleport. But Issei desperately wants Rias to save Asia as well. Unfortunately, her servants can only use the teleport. There goes his harem.

Episode 4
Issei gets his naked healing for Rias. But it’s not a time to be a pervert because we learn not only their kind can end up as Strays. Those expelled from the church end up serving Fallen Angels and Asia is one of them. Issei blames himself as a weak pawn and tries to do some training. I think it’ll take more than just chin-ups at the park. But he unexpectedly bumps into Asia. Instead of fretting over what happened, he takes her out to lunch and play some games at the arcade. Asia notices the injury he got from Freed and completely heals it. Now it’s time for a little storytelling. Asia was found abandoned at a church in a small European town as a baby. When her healing miracle was discovered, she gained fame and everyone flocked to see her to get healed. She was so happy she could help people. But one day, she healed an injured demon and everyone condemned her as a witch. Nowhere to go, she got picked up by a Fallen Angel. Despite all the horrible things going on, she still feels grateful to God and thinks this is a test. If she overcomes it, she’ll get her dream to make friends because she has none. Issei says he will be her friend. They had always been that since the day they met. The mood is interrupted with the appearance of Yuuma or Reinare, her real name. Seems Asia has run away from the church and she is here to bring her back. Issei won’t allow it and summons his Sacred Gear. Reinare laughs it off because all the while she was being told it was some dangerous item. This Twice Critical AKA Dragon’s Hand just doubles his power. That’s all. And with the powers he has now it makes no difference. Issei is going to power up and fight back anyway but by that time, Reinare’s spear stabs through his body. Asia heals it so Reinare mentions her Sacred Gear called Twilight Healing is very important and will spare Issei’s life if she comes back. Issei won’t allow that but the impact of the spear throws him into the pond. Reinare missed that on purpose but the next time it won’t. Asia understands and agrees to follow her back. So it’s goodbye Issei for the second time. NOOOO!!!

Issei gets slapped by Rias for trying to be a hero and warns him never to do that again. He is stubborn and is willing to risk getting kicked out of her household. After all, what is a single pawn, right? Wrong. Rias tells him the pawn isn’t the weakest piece. Just what is a pawn’s specialty? Promotion. This means if you get behind enemy lines (say for instance, the church), he’ll be able to gain abilities of other pieces other than the king. As for his Sacred Gear, she reminds him the greater his willpower, the more powerful it will become. But she warns even a pawn that is promoted stands no chance against a Fallen Angel. Rias and Akeno leave to attend to matters. Issei is still bent on saving his (girl)friend. Seeing he won’t listen, Yuuto and Koneko will back him up since it was implied in Rias’ hidden words. Rias and Akeno meet Mittelt, a Fallen Angel. Seems she is guarding the church to prevent any interruptions on the ritual. Despite being told Issei and the rest had already sneaked in through the front, she is unfazed because she notes the only the 2 of them pose a real threat in interrupting the ritual. Issei and co enter the church and come face to face with Freed once more. He is crazier than ever and wants revenge for that humiliation. He tells Asia’s location because he is confident they’ll not get past him. The trio fight and Issei is impressed that Yuuto’s skills are for real. He’s not just a pretty boy, you know. His Sacred Gear, Holy Eraser is a sword of darkness that consumes all light. Issei Promotes to a rook to obtain Koneko’s insane strength and gives Freed a good punch. Since he doesn’t want to be killed by demons yet, he escapes. Mittelt summons Calvana and Donashik to her aid. But Akeno turns the entire area into a giant barrier like a bird cage (Fallen Angels are like birds?) because their real objective was to get rid of them. The Fallen Angels are confident that the ritual is soon finishing and by then they won’t stand a chance. Issei and co head underground where the ritual on Asia is being held. This ritual is to take Asia’s Sacred Gear and the price to pay is her life.

Episode 5
Reinare absorbs the Sacred Gear and brags how strong she has become. As ‘gratitude’, she gives Asia back to him. Then she belittles and mocks him as her ex-boyfriend despite Issei who was then ready to make her the happiest girl in the world. He notes her attitude stinks like a demon so Issei takes Asia out from the place while Yuuto and Koneko hold back the low level priests. Coming out from the underground, Issei and Asia had their last conversation. You know. The kind whereby I’m-happy-to-be-your-friend and don’t-leave-me. Add lots of tears and emotion to it and you’ll have a good recipe for a tear-jerking drama. Issei is so desperate that he prays to God to save her. Ironic that a demon is praying to God, eh? That became a subject of mockery for Reinare. Meanwhile Mittelt and the rest mock Issei’s pathetic romance. When they try to finish the job, Rias easily deflects their spears. Because they belittled his slave, her strongest pawn, they’re going to feel her wrath. Too late to realize the sh*t that they’ll be getting in. They picked the wrong person to piss off. So it’s another drama face off between Issei and Reinare. Issei couldn’t care less about Demons and Fallen Angels because all he wants for Asia is for her to lead a peaceful life. Reinare disagrees because the fate of those wielding Sacred Gear will be shunned by humans. With each passing sentence, Issei gets even worked up and his Sacred Gear starts to activate. Reinare sticks her spears into Issei’s thighs. Despite losing power and feeling all the pain, Issei still manages to stand back up. Reinare thought he had become insane from the pain because Issei notes that God isn’t helping and now turns his plea to the Demon King for help. His Sacred Gear powers up so much that it scares the sh*t out of that Fallen Angel b*tch. She realizes it must be some super tool not to be toyed with and tries to escape. But Issei is so mad that he wouldn’t let her. So pissed with her f*cking face and attitude, Issei summons all the power to knock her into the sky! How does it feel to let out all that rage?

The rest of his comrades gather and it seems they have been watching. Rias ordered the rest not to interfere because she believes Issei can defeat a Fallen Angel on his own. Issei learns Rias’ nickname as the Crimson Haired Ruin Princess because of the way she annihilate her enemies. Let’s say Mittelt and co have been reduced to black feathers and Akeno is cleaning the place up. Scary. Koneko drags Reinare back and before her execution, Rias explains they know of her intention ever since she targeted Issei. As for Issei’s Sacred Gear that changed its shape, it is not just Twice Critical. It can increase its wielder’s powers immeasurable every 10 seconds to a point it can kill God or Demon King. That’s why it is called the Crimson Dragon Emperor’s Gauntlet, Boosted Gear and one of the 13 Longinus’ Gears. Its slow powering up is only its setback. Now that it’s time to finish Reinare off, she turns into Yuuma and tries to play on Issei’s heart, pleading him to save her. She even kept the gift he bought her. But Issei is not convinced that she would sink this low and lets Rias finish the job. Bye. It’s for the best. Don’t want your ex-girlfriend to haunt you in the future, right? Asia’s Sacred Gear is now in Rias hands but that isn’t enough to save her. Issei starts blaming himself but there is another way. Showing him a bishop chess piece, Rias will resurrect Asia to be her slave with an excuse that she needs her powers to heal her comrades. With Asia opening her eyes, Issei is so happy that he hugs her. Next morning at the club, Issei wonders if there are going to be 7 more pawns since they are like the chess pieces (he hates getting more rivals. After all, he already has his harem here, right?). Rias explains he is her only pawn. The potential number of Evil Pieces consumed changes depending on how one develops the power. For Issei, it took Rias 8 pawn pieces. She knew the risk and took a gamble. With his Sacred Gear and her nickname, they seem like a perfect team and hopes he will become her strongest pawn. She pecks her forehead and cautions about showering too much love for him or else a certain somebody might get jealous: Asia. She is now a student in Kuou thanks to Rias’ dad (guess which position he sits in this school?) and will need some time to adjust being a demon (she has this habit of praying to God). She is happy to be with Issei and Akeno comes in with a cake to celebrate their new member.

Episode 6
Issei could’ve been a panty thief and a peeping Tom at Asia bathing if not for Koneko warning him it’s a crime. Rias thinks it is important for Issei to build his strength so she picks him up early in the morning to do some basic training with him. It’s like heaven and hell because while doing those excruciating training, he’s got physical contact with her body parts. Soon Asia meets up with them and Rias brings them to Issei’s house. Why is Asia’s stuff at his doorstep? When Rias asked Asia where she would like to live, she wanted to stay with Issei. So starting today Asia will live with him. But will his parents accept this? Seeing how sweet, polite and nice she is, they are glad to have this girl stay with them. They just caution her about their useless perverted son. With Rias suggesting to train her to be like a wife, the parents become very elated that there’s a girl alive dumb enough to marry their son! When Issei point out the difference between training and being a real wife, Rias puts on a sad look. I guess Rias also pulled some strings that have Asia ending up in the same class with Issei. The guys totally dig this blonde chick. Till they learn she is living with him. Super jealous! Rias thinks Asia should debut in helping to sign contracts so Issei offers to let him handle this job as Asia is not used to Japan’s customs yet. He might regret this. Why? Because the weirdo who summoned a demon is a big ugly man wearing a magical girl outfit ending his sentences with “Nyan”! FFFFUUUUUU!!! He wants to be turned into a magical girl!!! I don’t know how but Issei ended up watching the magical girl DVD with him. And failed to sign the contract. Why does he always get nutcases? Beats me. Next day in school, Issei ponders Rias must be disappointed in yet another failure so he goes to sleep at the infirmary. When he wakes up, he is shocked to see Rias sleeping next to him. Naked! Oh, what’s this? He blames his right hand moving on his own to her breasts? Then Rias wakes up. Seems she felt tired and wanted to sleep but Issei was here first. About her nudity? She can’t sleep unless she is naked. Noting Issei likes breasts (he didn’t hesitate to say yes), she will allow him to touch them provided he secures her one contract. That’s all the motivation he needs to go on his next job. Rias will be coming along too to supervise so Issei is pretty sure he will not fail this mission.

They land in a room of an exchange foreigner student who loves Japan’s culture. She’s a girl. Susan. Why is she wearing a shogun’s armour? She thought they may be bad demons and was ready to slash them if they were. Her request is to accompany her to school and retrieve her notebook because she finds Japanese schools scary. I think she’s scarier. When she swings her sword. With mission accomplished, Issei wastes no time in fantasizing the delicious tits he’ll get to squeeze. Oh yeah. Come to papa. Can’t wait to get back. However it will have to wait a little longer as Susan has another request. Rias doesn’t mind. Oh… Seems there is this guy she likes but too shy to tell her feelings and she wants to do it without the power of the Demons. So why need them? I guess she needed some girly advice. Rias’ direct approach suggestion is shot down so Issei suggests writing a letter. However she writes in a poem. I wonder if that guy will understand it. Rias says what is important is the feelings and not the product. And there she goes again with that sad face. So when the gang wait to see if this guy turns up, he did but in a knight’s armour! He understood her letter and before you know it, they became an item! Love really works in mysterious ways. Have they ever considered taking off their armour? I mean, they’re even wearing it while taking a photo together. So back at the club room, I guess Issei had his fair share of dating experience so in a way he is right to say dating someone you don’t love is something you should never do. Now it’s for the moment Issei has been waiting for. The promise. The boobs. The tits squeezing! Oh yes. Rias will count to 5 and during that, these breasts will be all his. The decision has taken Issei by surprise as he has to calm himself but the timer is ticking. He is even in a dilemma whether he should touch the left or right breast! Just go for both of them! By the time he is going for it, the rest comes in. Time’s up. Bummer. But since he really wanted to touch her breasts, Rias gives him a little service by hugging him. She tells him to try harder in his place. Akeno recognizes that expression she is putting on and it doesn’t seem good.

Episode 7
Rias thinks it’s time for Issei and Asia to get their own familiars. The rest show them each of their own familiar and Rias’ is a bat (and that promoter lady who first hand Issei the card). Then the student council body, president Souna Shitori and vice president Tsubaki Shinra enter the room to introduce new servants, including Genshirou Saji. Seems they too are Demons and I’m not sure if there is a reason why Souna and Rias turned a blind eye against each other that’s why the newbies don’t know that there are other Demons in this school. Since Saji is the same level pawn as Issei, they are to be on good terms with each other. But you know guys. They exchange ‘pleasantries’ and hate each other’s guts. Especially when Asia is caught in the middle. Since familiars only come once a month, they decide to hold a match to see who shall claim it. Souna thought she would be doing a Rating Game but Rias dismisses it since she won’t get permission for that. Souna agrees taking into account her health but Rias brushes that off too. The match will be tennis doubles between the president and vice president. So the duel gathers lots of crowds and perverts too because they love seeing the girls flashing their underpants when they pull off those super moves. Don’t want it to end, eh? But like everything else, it comes to an end albeit with no winner. That’s because the racket is smashed up! So the next group match will be dodgeball tomorrow night at the gym. Before the match starts, Issei sews headbands for his teammates and they’re happy for this gesture. During the match, the dodgeball hit Issei’s crotch. Ouch! Asia wants to heal it but I guess there’s a limit to how perverted he can get. Yeah, he can’t really strip his pants to let her hands do the healing. Even if she did it over his pants, it seems so awkward. In the end, Rias’ team defeats Souna’s team and claims the right to see the master of familiars, Zatouji who only appears on nights of a full moon. He can get you any kind of familiar you want. Really? Guess what kind of familiars Issei have in mind?

Zatouji introduces to the water sprite known as Undine. See how powerful Issei’s imagination of this beautiful lady familiar that he will take advantage of perversely? Till he sees it like a macho body builder. Is that even a woman?! She looks like she wants to kill him anytime! Next they see a little blue dragon known as Sprite Dragon. Issei thinks this will be his good familiar when suddenly green slimes start to drop on the girls and devour their clothes till they’re naked! And those ambiguous sound tones… Ooohhh! Wow! What a lovely sight for Issei! Even lovelier that these slimes only melt female clothing. Yeah! He wants this slime to be his familiar! He even got a name picked out for it. Then the girls instantly destroy the slime and the only ones left are on defenceless Asia. Issei quickly protects Asia to shield the slime. The rest are bent on destroying the evil that is so perverted but Issei blabs about destiny and fate. Whatever. Asia is just glad that Issei is holding her tightly. Then the dragon zaps Issei and the last of the slime. NOOOO!!! The dragon became hostile only in violent situations and it thought Issei and the slime were attacking Asia. Since the dragon is attached to Asia, it becomes her familiar as she calls it Rassei. It’s a mix of lightning (rai) and Issei’s name. And with Rassei clinging close to Asia, he’s not letting that pervert Issei a step closer to her. ZAP!!! Now begins the rivalry. How dare a dragon cut in between his cute Asia?! ZAP!!! Should’ve got the slime, eh? But I guess Issei isn’t giving up yet because he’ll find a familiar that’ll take everyone’s clothes off. Maybe next time then. Maybe better hope he doesn’t.

Episode 8
Issei dreams that he is being married to Rias! Not too bad, eh? Yeah, his friends thought it was some sort of conspiracy. I’m sure all Issei could think of about wedding is baby making. Get that? Suddenly the wedding is interrupted and Issei hears a voice wanting to greet him since they’ve become partners but couldn’t because he’s too weak. That voice turns out to be his Sacred Gear. In class, Issei brags about his lifestyle with Asia to his friends so plead for him to hook them up with any one of the girls for the ‘gentleman VIP seat’. Well, he did give them a name of the girl. Miru-tan. Isn’t that guy the hideous magical girl wannabe cross-dresser? So Issei and his pals are spying on the girls changing. Yeah, those voluptuous boobs and curves. Make sure your record them hard in your inner HDD! They’ve been busted by Koneko and Issei gets a real beating. Well, he reaped what he sewed. Asia even though of letting him see hers if he likes seeing naked bodies (I guess doing on purpose defeats the purpose of the thrill) and Rias even notes how he has looked at hers multiple times. Akeno notes that despite Issei failing to secure a contract, all those he contacted with are happy and had fun with that guy. But Rias is concerned. If this goes on, she fears Issei may lose his confidence and needs to show more support. Back home, Issei dreams of being his own harem king and walks into the bathroom without realizing Asia is taking a bath. She doesn’t mind him and wants him to stay. She heard that in Japan, people do learn each other on a deeper level via naked bath culture (where did she hear that from?) and her body touches Issei’s. Can he contain his sanity? More importantly, can he contain his lust? Till mommy walks in. After that, he tries to recite Buddha chants to be a clean person but visions of naked Asia just sweeps across his head. Hey. Demon chanting Buddha verses? Suddenly Rias enters the room and wants him to sleep with her. Say what? Take her virginity. Not clear enough? HAVE SEX! Okay, maybe she didn’t say the last bit but I’m sure that’s what we all were hoping for, right? So it gets hotter and hotter for Issei as Rias undresses herself and goes on top of it. He’ll just have to ‘put it in there’, right? There is no countdown this time so he can take his time. Really? Is this for real? Don’t want to let her down, does he? By the time Issei is ready to embrace her, then comes in Grayfia, the queen of Rias’ brother, Sirzechs. Too late. Yeah, even Issei thought this maid is pretty cute. Though she is disappointed in Rias’ actions, she realizes Issei as the one who wields Boosted Gear. Rias suggests talking at her place. She pecks Issei on his cheek and hopes he’ll forgive her tonight.

While walking to school next day, Issei’s thought weighs heavily on this when his friends come to beat him up. Yeah, they found out about Miru-tan. His manly friends look more like bears… Oh, the trauma. Die, bastard! When everyone gathers in the Occult Club, Issei is surprised to see Grayfia there. Before Rias could talk to everyone, then comes in Raiser Phenex. Who is this bastard you may ask? Rias’ fiancée. You can tell Issei hates this disgusting jerk. Besides the point he is molesting her, I think Issei wouldn’t want any other guys touching his idol. Rias tells him off she will not marry him. But he reminds her that she can’t be selfish since her family has their backs against the wall. Then there is some talk about power struggle in the Demon world and maintaining the lineage of pure blooded Demons. Still, Rias will not marry him. As the face of the Phenex family, Raiser can’t have her sully his honour and will drag her back to the underworld if it means killing her servants. Grayfia interferes before things get out of hand. She has been instructed that if no agreement is reached, she is in charge to carry out the last resort measures. If Rias insists on her position, she is welcomed to settle it via Rating Game. A game where upper class Demons fight using their servants like a chess game (that’s why the servants are named after chess pieces). Raiser notices Rias’ very few servants so he shows off his full set. All Issei sees is a group of 15 beautiful (cosplay) girls! Wow! He is so taken in by this manly harem thingy that he cried! Learning his goal to have a harem, Raiser summons one of his servants, Yubelluna and makes out with her right in front of them! He mocks Issei he will never be able to do such things but Issei chides him he’ll still flirt with other girls even if he marries Rias (I have this feeling Issei would be the same). Issei doesn’t give a sh*t about his standing and will gladly take him out now. Raiser orders Mira to handle it and in one swoop, Issei is taken out. Don’t underestimate a little girl. Because Raiser badmouths Issei as a useless trash despite having Boosted Gear, this riles Rias up as she agrees to play Rating Game. She’s going to blast him away.

Episode 9
Rating Game will commence in 10 days and Rias will use this period to turn Issei stronger via training camp. He’s already having so much trouble carrying his large backpack. Don’t even compare that with Yuuto or Koneko. Lesson 1: Sword fight with Yuuto. Let’s say Issei easily lost. Lesson 2: Magic focusing with Akeno. Let’s say Asia made more headway than him. Despite being told he needs to use his imagination as point of focus, guess what that pervert imagined? Lesson 3: I don’t know what it is but it involves Issei getting beat up by Koneko. Feeling down and out, Koneko points out that each one has their own strengths. For Issei, it is perversion. Haha! Damn right. But seriously, his other strength is to never give up. Lesson 4: Cooking. Is this even a real lesson? Anyway Issei uses the magic focus he learnt and somehow realizes he can peel the skin off potatoes and onions in an instant! He remembers this feeling it was the first time he first activated his Sacred Gear. He went on a peeling streak till he realized he peeled every skin. Now they’ve got a glut of potatoes and onions for dinner. It’s time to take a bath so Rias even invites Issei to come in with them! For real? I mean, Akeno and Asia don’t mind but Koneko totally rejects it and the idea is shot down. You mean this is not based on majority?! That night, Issei wants to borrow Asia’s clothes. No, it’s not his horniness is working up but he wants to practice and perfect his secret ultimate move. Well, let’s say it needs more perfection. Asia got in the way and got her clothes ripped instead. Issei hopes she can keep this a secret till he masters it. Now we get some history lesson from Rias. During the war between the 3 sides that seemed lasted for eternity, there were no winners and each side suffered heavy casualties. To make up for their eternal lifespan, Demons produce offspring slowly and due to the war, many families died out. Of the 72 Pillars of pure blooded and noble Demons, only Gremory, Shitori and Phenex remained. That’s why Demons use reincarnated humans as their servants. Soon Rating Game was created and to allow servants to experience real life battle and the masters to demonstrate their abilities. Thus one’s performance in the game has a huge influence on rank and position. Since Asia was an ex-nun, it’s her turn to tell them something from God’s side. Well, I’m sure she couldn’t touch the holy water or Bible now no matter how much she wanted to. The gang aren’t even sure if she’s trying to be funny or serious.

That night when Issei can’t sleep, he goes to talk to Rias. She explains about the Phenex family being related to the legendary Phoenix bird and even shares its trait of immortality. In other words, they are invincible. Their Rating Game record stands at 8 wins and 2 loses. The lost are to allied families and were on purpose. Rias explains her opposition to this marriage. Everywhere she goes, the Gremory name follows her. She wants someone who loves her as Rias and not a Gremory. Issei says he doesn’t give a damn about rankings and social hierarchy of demons because he loves her the way she is now, regardless of rank and name. She is his number one (I thought he was aiming for a harem?). As for her title as Ruin Princess, those powers are not natural but cultivated by the family for many generations so it belongs to both her and Gremory. That’s why she won’t lose. There is no other choice but to win. Issei still realizes he is the most useless of the lost despite possessing Boosted Gear. Rias hugs him and notes if it is confidence he needs, she will give it to him. I hope it’s not something naughty. But then again, something perverted might just be the right motivation for him. Next morning, practice resume and Rias has Issei power up his Sacred Gear. Despite boosting its power 12 times, she makes him realize before this camp, he couldn’t have been able to handle so many boosts. With the accumulated power, he takes on Yuuto and unleashes his magic at full power. Wow! It shaved the top of the mountain! A shot that is equivalent to a high class Demon attack! Rias points out Issei will be the decisive factor in the game as his attack power will greatly influence the outcome. So believe in everyone and himself. Yes, believe!

Episode 10
An hour before the game starts, Asia sits next to Issei and hopes she can be with him forever. Moments before the battle, Souna tells Rias she’ll be watching her match as a spectator. Grayfia also informs that her brother the Demon King, Lucifer will also be watching it. Did you hear that right? Lucifer is Rias’ brother? The Demon King? Well, the previous Demon King went missing after the war so it is Sirzechs that is filling in that position now and that’s why Rias is the heir to the Gremory clan. Rias and her servants are transported to the alternate dimension where the battle will take place. The setting as Rias wished will be a replica of Kuou Academy. Her headquarters will be the Occult Club’s room while Raiser’s will be the principal’s office in the new building. Raiser is confident he can win this easy game but wants his servants to go all out and smash Rias’ pride. Rias plan and discuss their tactics. This includes trying to control the gym as it is akin as the centre of the chess board. After delegating duties to her servants, Rias has a special duty for Issei. Lie on her lap. What? Serious? Issei must be the happiest man alive. I hope the power he is feeling flowing through his body isn’t his perversion power. In actual fact, she is in a process to remove some of his seals. When she used 8 pawn pieces to resurrect him, his body wasn’t ready to handle the power. That’s why she sealed it and thus the training for him to be able to handle it. So once that is done and her servants finished placing the traps (Issei just got rudely rolled off her lap), it is all out war. Issei and Koneko enter the gym and they are faced with Shue the rook and pawns, Mira as well as twins Niru and Neru. Koneko will handle the high level rook which she feels has powers similar to of a queen while Issei handles the pawns. Meanwhile pawns Shuria, Maria and Guren are trying to sneak into the enemy headquarters but are besiege with traps in the heavy mist.

Issei seems to be running away. You don’t want to be cut by the twins’ chainsaw, do you? So once he has boosted up and ready to fight back, he touches the pawns to plant his mana on them. Now he unleashes his secret ultimate move: Dress Break! All the clothing on the girls ripped to bits! Nothing left! Totally naked! Flashback reveals how he perfected this move with Asia. I don’t know how many times Asia had to change clothes for this technique. It was sure worth it, eh? Yeah, that’s putting good use of his best trait: Perversion. Dream come true for a pervert who always dreams of having talent to make girls naked. I’m sure Koneko hates him now. By the way, she too has amazingly beat Shue. Then the duo seemingly abandon the gym and run out. Why? Because it is cue for Akeno to annihilate the gym with her lightning! Oh sh*t! Nothing left! Don’t mess with this girl. Despite Raiser losing 4 pieces, Rias is still greatly outnumbered and needs them to move on to their next plan while Akeno replenishes her magic. The pawns trio in the mist step into a trap set by Rias as they confront Yuuto. As Koneko and Issei prepare to move on to the next stage, a sudden blast from the sky by Yubelluna takes out Koneko by surprise.

Episode 11
Issei is one angry vengeful kid. Rias tells him to calm down as those who are no longer fight are transported to a different location to receive treatment. Akeno will take on Yubelluna in a battle of the queens. Issei moves on and meets Yuuto who has just defeated the 3 pawns. Due to Koneko’s ‘departure’, there is a change in plan. Rias and Asia plan to sneak into Raiser’s HQ and need them to delay the enemy as long as possible. Though kings don’t leave their HQ as it will make them vulnerable, this is probably what the enemy is thinking and with both queens pitted against each other, they should have the upper hand. Though the Phoenix’s body is immortal, its soul isn’t. So if they launch a strong attack that makes Raiser lose his fighting spirit, they can win. So the guys meet Caramine the knight and Yuuto decides to fight her. Soon, all the other pieces gather around Issei and this is exactly what Rias predicted as she and Asia sneak into the building. However Raiser is expecting them. But wait. Rias also predicted this? Ravel may be a b*tch but she doesn’t want to fight Issei and sends Isabella the rook to fight him. As explained, Ravel is Raiser’s true sister reborn as a Demon. Something about his little sister fetish though he doesn’t really care about her and made her part of the team as a bishop. As Caramine fights and breaks Yuuto’s sword, he manage to pull out another one. So what kind of Sacred Gear does he possess? Actually he doesn’t have them. He makes them with his magic sword builder, Sword Birth. He can create swords at will and even unleashes blades protruding from the ground. Meanwhile Issei boosts his power up and realizes his explosion is far more powerful than ever. Then using Dress Break to stun Isabella, he finishes her off with his explosion. That’s another rook biting the dust.

But the battle between the kings has just begun on the rooftop. Ravel sends her other pieces to fight Issei who is worried about Rias. She tells him not to mind her because she believes in him. Those words were enough to give Issei the inner strength to boost his Sacred Gear. So powerful that not only it blocks and breaks swords, but it changes to another shape. Noticing its true power, Issei wants Yuuto to release his Sacred Gear towards him. Boosted Gear absorbs Yuuto’s Sword Birth and replicates its sword-protruding-from-the-ground power across the field, taking out all the enemy pieces except Ravel. Awesome! Before Issei could celebrate his victory, Akeno is defeated. Shortly, so is Yuuto. Seems Yubelluna has used Tears of the Phoenix to heal any wound instantaneously (at this point, everyone is worn out from the battle). Issei steps into the building and undergoes Promotion to a queen. Then he goes up to the rooftop to rendezvous with Rias. Raiser is playing mind games on Rias to resign and as much as Rias fires back at him, his body regenerates. Yubelluna drops her bomb on Issei and Asia but Issei shields her with his body (partly thanks to the Promotion as queen). Though she is just unconscious, this seals off Twilight Healing. Issei is going to win at all cost as he charges straight. Then like a comical error, he slips off the roof. As explained, the more Boosted Gear takes on other Sacred Gears, the greater the damage it can to do the host’s body. In other words, magic is becoming poison to Issei. Raiser mocks him at his limit but Issei stands back up, claiming he can still fight. He will fight. He will keep his promise. Raiser beats him to a pulp as Issei defies Rias order to stand down. Why? Because he wants to see her smile. The last straw came when Raiser is going to burn him till nothing is left. Rias couldn’t bear seeing him in this horrible state and drops herself into Raiser’s arms to save Issei’s life. In tears, she calls to resign. Checkmate. Raiser wins. NOOO!!!

Episode 12
Issei hears the voice of his Sacred Gear again. It is believed Issei can control dragons but should not let anyone find out or the white one may laugh at him. The white one whom he is destined to fight and meet some time later. When that time comes, he will give him more power and the more he sacrifices, the more power he will get. The Sacred Gear introduces himself as the Welsh dragon, also known as Crimson Emperor Dragon, Ddraig. Issei wakes up with Grayfia before him. The lost was real. Tonight is Rias and Raiser’s engagement party and everyone will be there except for Asia who is permitted to stay by his side to heal him. Issei beats himself up over his weakness despite promising he will win. Though Grayfia says what Rias did was strategic and the loss was something she wished for, Issei is upset that Rias has to go through something she doesn’t want to. Not with that bastard. Grayfia is amused to see him showing emotions so easily. Even Sirzechs thinks so. She gives him a magic card that he can use to turn up for tonight’s engagement party. When Asia comes in, she is very relived Issei has come to because he was out cold for 2 days, she thought he would never open his eyes again. Issei wants to bring Rias back and despite Asia wants to come along to fight, she wants her to stay here but needs a favour. Then he summons Ddraig and wants to make a deal. Rias gets dressed for the party and is not amused with Raiser making her wear a wedding dress even if this isn’t their official wedding yet. Rias remembers how Issei passed out in her arms. She knew he couldn’t use his magic properly and tried to keep him out of actual battle but realized she was the fool herself because she nearly lost him when he fought with all he’s got for her. Souna is at the party talking to Akeno and co. She notes that everyone who saw the game know it was an unfair match. They know it isn’t over yet. As Raiser gets the party going, Issei barges in. First thing, he declares Rias’ virginity belongs to him! WOW! Are you man enough to admit that?! Before Issei kick ass, Sirzechs comes into the picture. Noting he has watched the Rating Game and his sister had been at a disadvantage, it is not that he is unsatisfied with the game but doesn’t want this evening to be ruined with such theatrics. Because he wants to see Issei’s dragon power with his own eyes, he suggests a one-to-one fight with Raiser. Yes. Dragon versus Phoenix. Legendary beings duking it out. All Issei wants at the end of this match is for Rias to come back.

You think Issei may be cocky when he says he will settle this in 10 seconds. Then he summons Ddraig and his entire body turns into armour! He’s like a tokusatsu armoured hero! Flashback of the deal he made with Ddraig is he needs to sacrifice a part of his body for power. Either his face or hand for now because his other parts won’t last (I thought his dick would’ve… Oops. Forget it). The fight begins and Raiser is taken by surprise with his super speed and strength. Then Raiser felt pain too. What has Issei done? He’s got Asia’s cross in his hand. But won’t Demons be weak against crosses? You see, Issei sacrificed his hand to the dragon meaning that part of his body is no longer a Demon and thus Demon’s weaknesses won’t apply to this part anymore. Before Issei could land his ultimate Dream Drill move, the countdown ends and Issei loses his powers. He is willing to sacrifice another part but Ddraig he is at his limit. He reminds his immense powers were only temporary. This means fighting against the immortal Phoenix still means nothing. But Issei hasn’t given up yet. How do you put out fire? With water of course. But not just any ordinary water because Issei pours holy water over Raiser. It’s burning him! As explained, even a Phoenix cannot revive if his soul is consumed in flames. Issei uses everything his comrades taught him and Raiser knows he is in big sh*t if he uses his power. But Issei couldn’t care less about understanding those complicated stuff. Because he only understood one thing. After Rias’ lost, he saw her crying. That was enough a reason for him to kick the sh*t out of his ass! With Raiser down, Ravel tries to protect her brother but Issei looked so cool that she may even start falling for him! The place crumbles so Ravel takes her brother away while Koneko throws Issei into Rias’ arms. They are given a griffin to ride on and as excuse for Issei to accompany Rias for a night flight. Sirzechs discusses with Grayfia that their fathers of each clan felt sorry for all that happened. He felt the union won’t be a proper one either. As for the Welsh dragon, he never thought the red dragon would come to their side and perhaps it won’t be long before he meets the Vanishing Dragon, the white dragon, that is. Rias thanks Issei for everything but warns that there may be other engagements in the future. Issei isn’t fazed. When the time comes, he’ll come to rescue her, sacrifice a few more limbs if he has to. That’s because he is her pawn. Rias gives him a lovely kiss. That’s her proper first kiss. And because she wants to get to know her ‘slave’ better, she will be staying at his house. Imagine the shock of his parents. Worse, how jealous will Asia be now? In the aftermath, Asia and Akeno’s healing keep Issei’s human hand back intact albeit it is only temporary. Issei continues to be a pervert peeping on the kendo girls changing. Some things never change. But what he does know now is that he wants to protect Rias not because of any contract. It’s because he wants to. What is a guy if he can’t protect his harem?

Episode 13 (OVA)
The gang are chasing a Stray Demon and catches him. They note him so Issei-like because of his pervertness. He loves staring at Rias big tits and his familiar was poking Akeno’s huge racks. As they send him to Hell for judgement, this dude doesn’t seem to be panicking but instead is glad he has done what was needed to be done. In class, Issei remembers after that, they went to destroy his research lab and of course his weird obsession for boobs. That word was enough to rile up his loser friends as they seek for answers. Speaking of big boobs, they notice that lots of girls have been absent and going home early. All of them have a single trait: They have big boobs. They fear this school will lack girls with big boobs if this trend continues. Yeah, what would their goal of coming to school be? I don’t think studying is one of them. Back at the club room, Grayfia relays her investigation results to the gang. It seems that Stray Demon had been experimenting with some chimera and it was set loose in the city. Yuuto and Koneko return from their scouting and have found the carnivorous plant-cum-dragon chimera. They observe how a couple of Issei’s hypnotized female classmates are walking straight to the chimera and getting their boobs suck by its tentacles. Observation shows that it is sucking their life force but enough to keep them alive. Of course now that they are here, they’re going to destroy the chimera when it suddenly grabs all the girls with its tentacles. Oh dear. Not tentacle rape play. To Issei’s pleasure, not only it’s sucking their boobs, some liquid is disintegrating their clothes! Wow! If he waits a little longer, he’ll get the best view ever! He even admires its ability and is super f*king jealous of that damn lucky monster.

The chimera throws away Koneko and Asia because their boobs are small. Grayfia relays new information on her investigation that this chimera has a special ability. If one were to consume the boob fruits harvested by it, the girl’s breast will grow to an abundant size no matter how small. From the Stray Demon’s mouth himself, if every guy were to see those huge tits, they would get the confidence they need to realize their dreams. All hail big tits! Small tits are a crime! Issei marvels at his idea of tits and peace. Yeah, now he is siding the monster. If they let it live, all girls with small boobs will have their problems solved! Koneko isn’t listening. She just lost it after hearing that small boobs are a crime line. She uproots a huge tree and smacks it! Soon Yuuto frees the ladies but Issei is trying to convince her he is fighting for the hope and future of women around the world. Oh, is he? Rias throws down the ultimatum. If he gets rids of the chimera, he can do whatever he wants with her and Akeno’s tits all night long. Wow! Time to think. Every girl may grow huge tits but all he will be able to do is admire from afar and in secret. So now he has a chance to do anything with their tits, he’ll take this offer. He boosts up his Sacred Gear powerful enough to lend Rias to finish it off. Yeah, now the part he has been waiting for. Glorious boobs time. He’s not going to get them. Say what? Rias mentions he hurt her feelings so that will have to wait. He sided with the monster, right? Koneko throws him into a hole and buries him, leaving on his head sticking out. They leave him alone to reflect on his actions. All alone and no boobs. Hope he learnt his lesson.

Release The Swaying Delusions Special
That is what these are 3 minute specials that come with the Blu-Ray discs are called. Nothing to do with the plot whatsoever. You can already tell from its title what to expect. For those who can’t get enough of the fanservice, these short specials are like desserts with even more fanservice. That’s why you watch this show, right?

Special 1 : Issei walks into the club while the girls are changing. Slap! Then they teleport to the beach to have some fun. Rias wants Issei to put lotion on her and leave no stones unturned. Oh yeah. I’m sure he’ll enjoy every bit of it. But the lotion is too slippery that he starts slipping. So slippery that he is sliding and molesting parts of her body! I’m not sure if he’s doing it on purpose. Calling Asia for help, she too slips and Issei’s face is caught between the slippery boobs of the girls. Heaven or hell? Next scene shows Issei being buried in the sand and his head is only sticking out. Yeah. Punishment. You know how whacking the watermelon game goes, right? Guess what Issei’s head represents? And Koneko is the hitter. Oh sh*t! And she isn’t even blindfolded! Definitely won’t miss! But he’ll really die! Don’t worry, Asia will patch him up real good. Oh sh***************t! Whether his head split or not, that’s for you to imagine. Don’t have splitting headache thinking about it.

Special 2 : Akeno is going to give Issei a special private training lesson. You think he wants to pass this chance up? First lesson has Issei changed into his shorts but they’re not going swimming. Could it be? Don’t get your hopes up too high. It’s just water purification training. Because Akeno’s clothes are soaked through, he passes out. Akeno quickly does CPR on him and when Issei realizes her doing out, he passes out again. Akeno made parfait for him but he spilled it over her. What does white cream all over her face look like to you? Pervert… Because it’ll be such a waste, she really wants him to taste it and lick it all over her breast! Serious! Itadakimasu! He starts digging in her boobs. Once he is full, it’s time to begin his magic training. Akeno straightaway zaps him with her lightning as he tries to frantically avoid them. Turns out to be a big dream as Issei is hugging onto Asia. His relief is only short-lived because Rassei zaps him with his lightning. Yeah, it seemed like he assaulted Asia.

Special 3 : Asia serves her brewed tea to Koneko. She instantly falls asleep. Actually those leaves as Rias mentioned had a spell casted on them. She wanted to use it on Issei to fix his perversion. Well, we know the reversion spell is working when Koneko wakes up and suddenly gets horny! From a serious behaviour to a serial molester?! Definitely worked. Koneko starts molesting those marvellous tits and even ends her sentences with “~Nyan”. Since they can’t let her leave and cause trouble, they have no choice but to hold it in and play with her in this room till the effects wear off. Play with her? Maybe that wasn’t the right word. Koneko continues to be playful and she couldn’t get enough of squeezing their boobs. She’s out of control! I bet Issei even won’t be this bad even if he is in full perverted mode. Okay, maybe. Then she strips naked and takes a bath with them. The molestation continues. Till Issei comes in and hears all the ambiguous sounds…

Special 4 : This is an expansion on how Issei developed his Dress Break. While practising with Asia, he feels something is missing. Next day as he is peeping on the kendo girls changing, once more it’s déjà vu. He gets spotted, they chase, he trips on a banana peel. To block their strike, his hands come into contact with theirs. They think they’ve been infected with some disease and rush to the infirmary to get disinfected. Issei could feel his magic still active and connected to the girls. So when he snaps his fingers, their clothes tear apart right in the middle of the public eye! Wow! Free service! Issei happily reports this secret move to Rias and even demonstrates it on Akeno who wants to see it. Now he wants to try it on Rias! I’m sure after seeing how ‘horrifying’ it is, she’s not going to let him demonstrate on her but he insists. Akeno quips this ‘amazing skill’ could even scare away Rias. Eventually Issei catches up and Dress Break on her. Happy? You bet he is.

Special 5 : As losers of the dodgeball game, Souna and Tsubaki are preparing from scratch udon meal for the Occult Club members. Souna insists she doesn’t need Rias’ help despite the latter wants to only assure the udon tastes good. No need to get worked up ladies. So eventually the girls help out with the kneading and based on tradition, it’s okay to knead them via feet. Like stepping on those grapes for wine, eh? I’m sure Issei is enjoying the ‘view’. I bet he loves the udon process more than the end product now. After kneading, Souna is going to use magic to finish it off but everybody got distracted when clumsy Asia tripped and spilled eggs all over herself (fanservice cue!). When the gang is going to dig in, Souna seems pale. When she used magic on the broth, she had a bad feeling. Suddenly the udon becomes alive and does tentacle rape on the girls! Alive! It’s alive! Issei is even more in love with this perverted udon. Souna explains that she lost concentration during Asia’s slip that is the cause of this very lively udon. Maybe she should do something about it instead of letting it happen? Nah… Otherwise we wouldn’t get such great service!

Special 6 : In line of becoming a Demon, Asia thinks the need of becoming badass. Uh? I think she looks cuter as a delinquent than evil. Firstly, does she even know how to be bad? There’s even a magazine guiding you how to dress the part? She’s got it all wrong. Issei says she shouldn’t be evil just because she turned into Demon. However she notes all his panties peeking activities and porn magazines. That’s evil, right? Well, he’s been doing that before he turned into a Demon too. Asia even plans the bad deeds she will do like drinking someone’s delivered milk, switching shoes and ignoring a dropped eraser. But she is devastated she could come up with such evil thoughts and prays to God for forgiveness. Ouch! Headache! So the next evil thing she did is to seduce Issei with her charms. These include pushing him down on the bed, undress her top and kissing him on the neck. She isn’t sure what to do next because she followed the instructions from a source magazine. She’s got it all wrong… Heck, she doesn’t even know what seduce means. In the end, Issei tells her just to be herself because everyone accepts her as she is, as one of them. Happy Asia hugs him. So that pervert is happily thinking how cute this little girl is while cleaning. So annoying his smirk that Rias had to tell him to at least cover up that lipstick mark on his neck.

The Boy Who Would Become Harem King
I didn’t expect to find myself enjoying this series. No, not just the fanservice bit. Yes, though the fanservice were the parts that made everything enjoyable, it is also the characters, the action, the drama and the direction of the story that is making the entire series interesting. It was a shame that it ended after a dozen episodes and I hope that there will be a sequel. So to satiate my curiosity, I went to Wikipedia to find out a little more. And boy was I surprised at the huge encyclopaedia of names, groups, terminologies, power ups and items! It’s like as though a lot there has happened for Issei and the adventures and action he and his Occult Club members had gone through. Just wow. Instead of your usual Demons, Angels and Fallen Angels, there are also other creatures in the form of mythological deities (as in Greek, Indian and Norse), dragons, Japanese folklore ghosts and, won’t you believe it, vampires. Uh huh. Vampires. They are just short of putting in aliens from Mars and people from the parallel world :). Seems interesting with lots of potential and yet daunting (to me, that is). Well, if I can’t wait, there are always the light novel volumes (12 of them so far and they’re still ongoing). But you know me and reading. Like water and oil. Also, my imagination is very lacking so how do fantasize/imagine those delicious ecchi scenes if you’re reading a novel? Better to go watch the TV series… Oops, almost drooled there ;p. Hopefully there will be a sequel for this series. And yes there will be one since at the end of the OVA it was announced the confirmation of a second season! Wohoo! More boobs! Oops!

Issei is the most amusing and perhaps the funniest character in the series. Lovable and yet loathable. What makes him funny is his tendency to stay true to his pervertness. Of all the ecchi animes and characters that I have known, Issei may be one of the perverted characters that boast the best perverted lines. Even in times of danger he can say the darnest perverted lines. If he didn’t end up as a Demon’s slave, I’m pretty sure as a human being he would have went on and become a big hit in the porn industry. Sure, his perversion may be disgusting and not a good sign but this is provided if you’re the purest creature to ever walk the face of this planet. Let those who have not sin cast the first stone! Saying that his perversion is clean good fun won’t be right either because unlike you’re like his eternal target like the kendo girls (don’t they ever learn after getting peeped so many times – say, seal up the entire place and the lockers with no holes?), you’re going to be more than just irk when this voyeur comes down doing his usual stuff. Aside from his perverted side, Issei just like any other good guy also has his own version of justice. You need people like him who don’t care about social standings to fight back people in the top of the hierarchy abusing the system. Because he stays true to his principles, he is able to emerge victorious in the overall aspect. Sure, he may get beaten up a lot in the process but as Koneko says, his other true strength is his ability to soldier on without giving up. He is willing to sacrifice parts of his physical body to become stronger and protect those who are dear to him. It was just a funny thought that I envisioned what happens if he needed to sacrifice a certain lower anatomy to gain ultimate power? Haha. Don’t say. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be crazy enough to do it if you make Rias cry bad enough. There is an item that Issei has that amuses me. It’s his alarm clock. It’s the kind that 2D otaku lovers would love to have. Each morning time waking up scene, we see a different girl in different outfits and personalities trying to wake him up. Whether it’s your cute sister setting or the typical tsundere, the wakeup call continues till he presses the off button. Yeah, I want to have such alarm clock too.

Rias may seem like the headstrong leader of her Occult Club and heir to the Gremory family but beneath that strong facade lies a fragile and delicate person. As Demon, she might be one of the strongest, possesses the most devastating power but as a woman, she is like any other when it comes to matters of the heart. She may call Issei her strongest pawn, her cute slave and such but look how she broke down seeing him strive so hard and nearly at the cost of his life during the Rating Game. It shows that she is not just her pawn or slave. Like any one of her subordinates, she loves and cares them dearly rather than treating them as an object. Asia is no exception despite giving reasons that she needs her Twilight Healing. That was just convenient for her so she won’t lose face. I think her ability not to maintain her composure is also what gives her a commanding presence. How can your subjects respect you if you easily show your emotions? Look at Issei and his perversion. The other characters in the club play a supporting role too. Despite chess being a single player game, but the pieces itself makes it a team game. You can’t really checkmate your enemy with the king only, can you? So for Akeno, despite her eternal smiling face and seemingly easy going nature, she supports Rias from the back. Sometimes her smile could just mean anything. She’s happy, she smiles. She’s sadistic, she smiles. She’s going to kick your ass, she smiles. Can you tell the difference? Yeah, dangerous. Asia may still be naive and innocent but with Issei vowing to protect her (because he was the one who dragged her into this Demon thingy), I’m sure she’ll get by. It’s just odd and funny to see an ex-nun trying to pray to God. As we have seen in the series, Demons get headaches when they pray to the side of the light. We know Asia is trying to be grateful despite being on the other side now, but can’t God cut her some slack? Maybe if Demons are good enough, can they convert into Angels? Like how Angels can turn into Fallen Angels? Is it just a one way trip? Koneko doesn’t show any emotions but this doesn’t mean she is a heartless Hercules because you can tell from her actions that she cares for her comrades. Yuuto isn’t just a boy with a pretty face and his exceptional sword skills speak volumes. It helps the club a lot since it won’t seem like Issei’s unofficial harem and monopolize the girls for himself. I take that last bit back because it’s more like the girls won’t give him an inch to let him step over them.

Staying true to the fanservice, every episode you’ll have your eyes feasting at the top nudity of the girls, whether they are changing clothes or their clothes getting ripped. Just watching the opening credits animation with the main girls with bare tops will give you an idea on what to expect. It makes you really wonder that if such humongous boobs are possible. Of course not. It’s so unhuman-like. In addition to that, you’ll be bombarded with lots of panty shots and I think it’s safe to say that every main and supporting female characters have ‘done their bit’ in showing us their slip. The mid-intermission is also another place to get your fanservice fix. For each episode, we see a girl from the Occult Club in tempting positions and in their lingerie. Towards the end, they pose in total nudity! Of course with the necessary parts being strategically covered or hidden. As for the ending credits animation, you’ll see the girls doing pole dancing. Isn’t this great? Romance wise, with the fanservice as the main focus, it is hard to see any real romance. We get a feeling it will be Issei x Rias but can he stay true to make her his only girl even after declaring her as his number one and getting her back? I mean, he always wanted a harem, right? And any girl is okay with him. Will there be more members (girls preferably) added to the Occult Club? We’ll just have to wait and see since Rias hasn’t used up all her chess pieces yet. Now that his bravery has earned him Rias’ first kiss and even made her move into his home, what are the chances of that happening? Well, the option to get his own slaves is always open. Asia is clearly showing signs that she likes him but she can’t make any bold moves maybe because Rias is her master or she is just too shy. Sometimes all she could do is just pout in jealousy. It makes her look cute. All the girls in the Occult Club except Koneko actually don’t mind if Issei flirts with them. But if he goes overboard, they just put their foot down. The action part doesn’t disappoint either. At least I was glued to the screen while watching the fights. The way they blend the concepts into the battles make it an interesting watch. With Issei possessing the mysterious Boosted Gear filled with lots of latent power, it gets exciting to see how much he can power up each time he becomes more powerful and unleash his hidden potential. So when Rias and her team go into battle, you can’t help feel like cheering on for them despite making up just a small team because of the closeness knitted together among themselves, you want them to stay together right till the end.

Because of the short duration of the series, perhaps there are things in the larger picture that I didn’t understand. Yeah, I’m so like Issei when it comes to understanding the three-way war. So from what I read from Wikipedia, as far as I understand from the previous God died and the current Demon Lord missing. Gee, God died? How can God die? So just like how Sirzechs temporarily became the head for hell, I guess there must be somebody stepping in God’s place, eh? Sometimes what constitutes you to be a Demon or Angel goes beyond than just your personality. As a human, we believe that Demons are supposed to be evil creatures, rotten to the core. But from what we see here, they aren’t that bad people. We see how Rias treats her subjects with care and respect and got the same in return. Even Sirzechs seems like a good person as far as everything goes now so holding on to the Demon Lord name is just a title. Of course there are some just as rotten as Raiser who will do what it takes to get what he wants. I’m not sure if his lost to Issei means he will be calling off his engagement for good. I heard Phoenix are immortal but are they vengeful birds? And I’m sure if you can think that Demons can be this good, there might be Angels who can turn bad and abuse the system. That is what the term Fallen Angel is for but you’ll never know. Not every Angel is angelic. But so far, we haven’t seen Angels making their appearance for this season so I can’t say for sure. Just speculate like a sceptical human being. Another gripe due to the short length of this season is some of the supporting characters. You people still remember Freed? Yeah, what happened to that crazy dude? His ideals and words are so twisted that it makes him amusing only second to Issei. The series that started off as recruiting Issei as a Demon slave and a conflict with Fallen Angels who are after Asia’s Twilight Healing soon ends after Asia is saved and Freed is never heard off again. Then it takes a little detour to find Issei a familiar (which he’ll have to wait for another chance and perhaps longer if he wants one that makes his pervy dream come true) before the big battle clash with Raiser in a rating game and ending it with a bang via personal fight with the face of Phenex family himself. By the time the series ends, you might have forgotten some of the least important tasks that Issei used to do like handing out those cards and the hilarious visit to Demon summoners. Yeah, he always ends up with nutcases. What’s the worse could happen? He’s already dead, right? So he can’t die anymore. Maybe he’ll have to do it for eternity… Say, what happened to that Saji guy? I thought he was going to be Issei’s biggest idiotic rival but after the dodgeball competition, we don’t see him again.

Youko Hikasa as Rias must have took on a lot of a variety of roles ever since I got to know her as her role as Mio in K-ON! From degenerated characters like Hana from Seikon No Qwaser to disciplined characters such as Infinite Stratos’ Houki or quirky ones as in Linda from Rio – Rainbow Gate, she definitely has grown into playing a variety of characters so it’s a good thing. Though, I can’t still recognize her voice. Another voice that I’m supposed to be familiar but yet couldn’t catch is Ayana Taketatsu as Koneko. I guess when she’s voicing a character with no emotions, I can’t tell her trademark voice like she did as Azusa in K-ON!, Tsugumi in Guilty Crown and Mio in MM. Other casts include Yuuki Kaji as Issei (Shu in Guilty Crown, Kouichi in Hanasaku Iroha), Azumi Asakura as Asia (Akira in Mahou Sensei Negima series), Shizuka Itou as Akeno (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Kenji Nojima as Yuuto (Sayonaki/Vlad in Hidan No Aria), Takehito Koyasu as Raiser (Adam Blade in Needless), Saori Seto as Grayfia (Evergreen in Fairy Tail), Junichi Suwabe as Sirzechs (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Natsumi Takamori as Souna (Saki in Acchi Kocchi), Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Freed (Kirito in Sword Art Online), Hitomi Nabatame as Yuuma/Reinare (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Asuka Nishi as Ravel (Urusla in Mouretsu Pirates) and a cameo appearance by Ayako Kawasumi in her identifiable trademark voice as Susan (Nodame in Nodame Cantabile).

So I would say it is rare and isn’t bad for an anime overwhelming labelled and seen as an ecchi genre to have such potential storyline. At times I caught myself drawing out certain emotions because of the friendship drama and the closeness that have been fostered by the main characters. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Demon or an Angel or whatever you are called because as we have seen it is the contents of the heart. You don’t have to be an angel to do good. You don’t need to be the devil if you need to do something nasty (if you’re talking in the context of kicking someone’s butt big time because they hurt your friends, then from my standards it is acceptable). Well, I certainly won’t be rushing to try and summon to become some Demon’s slave. I bet the results won’t be as all sugary and sweet like they painted the perverted fantasies in this series. But there is no harm in always dreaming for us guys to get our own harem and perhaps a little naughty along the way. Ah, there’s always a little demon inside each and every one of us.

Zero No Tsukaima F

December 15, 2012

Never in my wildest dream that I would expect Zero No Tsukaima to have another season. At least not in the foreseeable future then. Albeit in my previous blog I did hope for one to be made. And here it is! After 3 seasons of adventure, I guess it is high time to end the amazing (or mediocre, depending on how you look at it) voyage that has Saito Hiraga being drawn from our world to the fantasy and parallel world of Halkeginia to be the familiar of the flat chest, oops, I mean petite magic academy student Louise. Nicknamed Zero Louise because of her inability to use any of the four elements of magic. Even if it does, it usually explodes in your face. Of course as we go along, we’ll discover that Louise is a user of the Void magic, the fifth elemental and lost branch of magic. With conspiracies, adventures and love-romance-harem hijinks, it is either you’ll love it or loath it.

So the ‘F’ in Zero No Tsukaima F would conveniently mean four as this will be the fourth instalment of the series. Coincidentally, ‘F’ could also mean final as many believed this would be the final instalment. Initially I did say that I never hoped that there would be another season because there was a gap of nearly four years between the third and fourth season. The third season began airing in mid 2008 while this final season started its run on early 2012. See the big time difference? By this time, I would have forgotten lots about the show (except for some ‘important’ points – like the harem part). Reading my old blog may bring back memories but it also brought back some ‘traumatizing’ stuff like the pronunciation of the long winded and fantasy-like names. Yeah. How I remember it was really a mouthful to pronounce the full name. Till today I think I don’t remember Louise’s full name. So be warned that spellings of characters may differ from my blog to the official spelling. Furthermore, the series was like declining in quality and storyline with each passing season so I’m not really putting too much hope on this one. But I still do hope for it to end it in a memorable way. If not a big bang, at least a fairytale ending. How can you not have such when you’re in a fantasy land?

Episode 1
We’re already starting off with a potential harem cat fight. Yeah, Saito in bed with Louise and maid Siesta. Wow. Sleeping with 2 women flanking by his side. Could his day get any better? On the contrary. Too bad Saito had to sleep talk praising Siesta’s ‘treacherous mountains’ compared to Louise’s ‘great plains’. Boom! What a rude wake up call. At least we don’t have that ambiguous S&M scene in the previous season. For the story proper, Louise and co are being summoned to Romalia where the heart of the Church of Brimir. Siesta still got the guts to ask Louise for permission to date Saito but I guess the duo have to put aside their rivalry and work together once more against a common foe seeing Saito is getting too friendly with Tiffania. Upon arriving in Aquapolis in Romalia, Saito, Louise and Tiffania are being escorted by Giulio to the Great Cathedral. In addition to Henrietta’s presence, they also meet Vittorio Serevare, the current Pope of Romalia, the most powerful and respected person here. Vittorio reveals he is a wielder of Void magic and Giulio is his familiar, the right hand of God, Windalfr which can manipulate beasts. He also points out that other than Louise, Tiffania is also a Void user. The reason they are summoned here is because there’ll soon be a ceremony to celebrate His Holiness’ anniversary of elevation. He wants Louise and Tiffania to hold a mass with him as priestess. How is this connected to being a Void user? They are trying to attract the attention of the fourth Void user: Joseph. He wants to change that villain to turn over a new leaf. Though Saito still has doubts (because Joseph tormented Tabitha previously), Vittorio needs all Void mages to unite and work together or else a great catastrophe will befall on Halkeginia. Louise does not hesitate in her answer and volunteers to become a priestess. Later while the Tristain Academy students are celebrating at a tavern, a group known as Elemental Siblings (Damien, Jeanette, Bleu and Jacques) are preparing to get their job done.

Saito and Louise get into a little argument. Well, maybe not so little. Saito is not happy Louise accepted His Holiness’ offer without thinking straight, thinking she’s all infatuated over him. Because she accepted her role, it made it hard for Tiffania to turn it down. Has she ever considered if Tiffania wanted to do it or not since she is not of the Brimir faith? Louise kicks him out of her room, telling him off he can go be Tiffania’s familiar for all she cares. Meanwhile Henrietta sees Tiffania and gives her a ring from Albion’s royal family. Tiffania is worried if she could be of use so she wants Colbert to teach her how to summon a familiar. Saito is sulking and gets a pep talk from Siesta to consider Louise’s feelings (she is after all her rival). She was once called Zero Louise and he should understand how hard she has worked to get herself to where she is now. Now that he has realized, he thanks her and rushes off to find Louise. Meanwhile Louise is taking a stroll and stumbles upon Jacques and Bleu breaking into a building to steal an object. I guess you can’t have witnesses, eh? With Louise screaming Saito’s name, speaking of the devil, here he comes armed with his trusty talking sword, Derflinger. Jacques summons golems to stall Saito so that Bleu could get away with some magic mirror. Saito buys Louise time so she could work up her magic to blast Jacques away. The impact was so great that it blew Saito off the roof. Below, Tiffania is trying a spell to summon a familiar. A portal opens and it is as though Saito fell through it. See the usefulness of big boobs? They provide soft landing. Don’t let Louise catch you… Too late. By morning, Jacques is arrested, Louise and Saito make up. He upsets her by calling her an idiot for wanting to take on the thieves herself because she should use her familiar. So how to solve this anger? Hug her! And then kiss! Wow. Can we have so much in the first episode? Oh, it wouldn’t be complete if Tiffania hadn’t spotted them. Too much for her eyes, I’d say. Now the blame game starts. Tiffania feels a sensation in her heart she has never felt before. Oooh! I know what it is. It’s something that stars with ‘L’.

Episode 2
Saito and Louise talk about getting a mansion of their own. Just the 2 of them. Henrietta has an audience with Vittorio. They talk about beefing up the security to ensure that incidents like that won’t happen again. Seems the mercenary group of Elemental Siblings had stole the Primogenitor’s Mirror and there may be a chance their employer may influence further events behind the scene. As precaution, Detect Spell will be cast all over the place so anybody that uses magic will immediately be sniffed out. Henrietta is still worried. His Holiness’ calm composure the entire issue is bugging her. She hopes she is just reading too much. Louise summons Saito because she wants him to be the first to see her in the priestess outfit. Hey! That outfit reminds me of Index! Anyway Saito couldn’t contain his pervertness and pushes her down on the bed. I’m not sure of his meaning when he wants Louise to say Lemon-chan! Who? What? I have a feeling it may be related to her boobs. They’re about to get horny but Maricorn in the next room warns them he could hear everything! Just how thin are the walls? Well, Louise in her embarrassment blasts Saito. It’s amazing the building still stands. Elsewhere, Vidalshal is making Flame Stones for Joseph. He is not amused once he learns he is making a weapon. However he has to do what Joseph says because his hands are tied and has done some despicable deeds too.

Next day, Vittorio and the priestess begin the ceremony with the Undine Knights having a hard time trying to quell the rowdy crowd trying to get a glimpse of His Holiness. At the end of the ceremony, Tiffania wants to know if Saito is her familiar or not. How? Kiss her. I’m sure Saito would’ve done that if he hadn’t mulled over Louise’s reaction if she found out about this. Oh what the hell. Just go with it! Fortunately it wasn’t Louise who stumbled onto them. But Montmorency and Maricorn. Fortunately they did not kiss. Unfortunately I don’t know how Tiffania got her humongous boobs over Saito’s face. Maricorn quips after lemon, he is going after melon! While Louise is talking to the other priestess, a plebeian seeks Louise’s help. Seems she and her mother entered the city to celebrate with His Holiness but mother collapsed from fatigue. She hopes Louise’s words would comfort her. However when Louise is brought to her mother, it is just a doll and all this a setup to kidnap her. The plebeian turns out to be Jeanette in disguise. Sheffield pops into the scene telling her she can leave as she will take it from here. Meanwhile Saito learns Louise has run off on her own and goes to find her. He encounters Bleu. He is out to repay the favour on what he did to Jacques. In the midst of the sword fight, Jeanette signals their job is over so he leaves the scene. Not before hinting that a weird woman took Louise away. Saito only found her priestess headgear. Reporting back to the rest, seems Tabitha knows who the Elemental Siblings are. They are part of Gallia’s North Flower Bed Knights that she once worked with. Thus the mastermind behind them is no other than Joseph. Since Aquapolis borders with Gallia, Louise may have already been taken across. Then this breaking news just came in. Gallia’s army are moving towards the border. Louise is in Joseph’s hands and he is going to do something that is on par with the devil. Something that he needs Louise’s power. He will make Louise be part of it even though she does not wish to.

Episode 3
Sheffield is Joseph’s familiar, God’s Brain called Myoznitoneil (how the heck do you pronounce this?!). The purpose of the mirror is so that Joseph can utilize the Void magic others posses. He is going to use Louise’s explosion to ignite the Flame Stones. The Bronze Knights set up their defence line. Joseph sends a gargoyle armed with a Flame Stone into their fleet. When he activates it, a large explosion rocks and destroys the entire fleet! Oh sh*t! He’s sending in the next one. BOOOOM!!! So why is Joseph doing all this? From his twisted story, all I can say that he wants to feel regret. He feels someone who is capable as him has always been overshadowed by his less capable brother, Charles who was the king of Gallia then. Ever since his heart has been turned to stone. Before Joseph could take the final Flame Stone, Louise makes a daring move to snatch it and dive off the vessel. How sure was she that Saito will come rescue her? Well, thank her luck because there he is riding Sylphid picking her back into his arms. However she dropped the Flame Stone and it’s retrieved by a gargoyle heading towards Aquapolis. Remember Saito’s hero feat of taking on the entire Albion army in the previous season? I guess he’s trying to be a hero again by going it all alone by taking on Sheffield’s gargoyles. How can you beat them when they can resurrect? Before Saito left Aquapolis, Giulio gave him an item that came from Saito’s world: A gun. He fires and injures Sheffield, making her unable to reconstruct her gargoyles. Siesta suggests Tiffania to cast an Oblivion spell that makes everyone forgets on the gargoyle. It works as it falls like a rock and Tabitha reclaims the Flame Stone.

Saito confronts Joseph but his Acceleration makes him faster than a speeding bullet. Saito decides to use the eyes of his heart to see Joseph’s movements. I thought this skill takes years to master. Can he really pull it off just like that? Well no. But it’s just a ploy so that Joseph can get close to him so he could grab his hand and point his sword. But Joseph is faster. He has got the gun. Now who is faster? The sword or the gun? We won’t get to see it because Louise and Tabitha return to the ship with the former using her explosion to rock the bridge. Louis is worried that Saito has been injured (by Joseph’s knife stab) but he quips this pain is nothing compared to the punishment he received from her. Haha. I agree with that. Tabitha confronts Joseph and he allows her to do what he wishes. Since she can’t forgive what he has done, she is going to kill him. Louise doesn’t want her to dirty her hands and Saito stays mum about this. Because it’s her decision. It’s your decision. See, a little psychological talk and she reverses her decision. She’ll hand him over to Romalia. But that won’t be happening too because Sheffield steals the Flame Stone from Tabitha and threatens to blow everything up. Joseph is on the last leg of his life and wants them to leave them alone. As Saito and the girls fly away from the ship, Joseph and Sheffield have their final moment together. After the kiss, they trigger the explosion. Back at the palace with Vittorio, the trio are being commended for their bravery but Saito has this feeling they wanted him to end Joseph’s life. Vittorio admits it wasn’t to convince Joseph to join them but to provoke him. It was to create pretence of a Holy War for Gallia and kill its king. But he assures he had no intention of putting Louise in danger nor did he expect Joseph to create such destruction. He hopes he will forgive him. Saito is not happy that Louise almost died in this but she felt he would come to save her. Tiffania feels Saito can’t be her familiar seeing how close he and Louise are. The heroes exit the palace and everyone praise the young heroes.

Episode 4
Back at Tristain Academy, Osmond congratulates the heroes for their bravery and they celebrate it via feast. We see girls flocking to Guiche’s side (to Montmorency’s dismay), guys asking for Tiffania’s hand for the dance (only to be shooed away by Beatrice) and Maricorn teases Saito by giving him a plate of melons. Saito and Louise dance together. They’re so into their lovey-dovey conversation that they almost kissed right in the middle of the room. Everybody’s watching… Go get a room! That’s what they did! Unfortunately Siesta is hiding in the bed. Thinking of a threesome? Guess not. Siesta is all over Saito for herself. It’s that cue for Louise’s explosion again. Tabitha has returned to Gallia and her friends hope she’ll not be pulled into a political mess. She meets Vidalshal and wants to know why he worked for Joseph. All he could say is he had something to do. He gives her an antidote that will wake her mother Orleans from her coma. Siesta overheard rumours that Tiffania was all over Saito and that melon thing so she goes to report to Louise (who is in the midst of fantasizing Saito in their own mansion). What’s with the other girls comparing their own boobs size too? Coconut? Pineapple? Realizing that Louise is making plans for their own mansion, Siesta suggests getting one to counter Tiffania’s charms. Less one rival will be good for them, right? Bringing Saito along to look for a perfect place to stay, Louise is not happy Siesta is tagging along. Because Henrietta has made her Saito’s official maid, wherever they go, she’ll also have to follow. And Louise can’t fire her as she pleases. Damn. I think it isn’t the mansion that Louise finds unsuitable. It’s how Siesta is clinging all over Saito. At Scarron and Jessica’s bar, they act out a play on Saito’s heroics in slaying Joseph. All Louise and Siesta see is how Saito will become popular with the girls and need to hasten the search for a mansion. Meanwhile Tabitha is in a dilemma. In order to stabilize and rebuild Gallia, she has to be crowned the country’s new queen. Saito and Louise are being summoned by Henrietta as she tells them about Tabitha’s circumstances. As token of her gratitude, she also gives them a portion of her land called Orneal in western Tristain. Wow. Saito will be the lord of this land? Well, seems a little far. Seems like a little wasteland. The mansion? Seems like a haunted house. If they’re going to stay here, might as well do some cleaning up. The real battle heats up at night because despite the many rooms, Louise is not happy Siesta wants to crowd and sleep together with them. If that is not bad enough, Tabitha comes jumping into the room and immediately drops to sleep on Saito’s bed. Seems she is postponing her crowning. Louise is pissed that this is no different than back at the academy and blows her top. Blows up the room. I saw this coming…

Episode 5
With some of their friends visiting Orneal, they wonder what Tabitha is doing here since she has not made a decision to be the next ruler of Gallia. As Irukuku put it, the lay an egg. Or in human sense, to get pregnant. Who is the only guy around here? But as Kirche says, once she becomes queen, she won’t be able to do as she wishes. Saito and Louise have their personal time in the garden. Saito is happy to have Louise. When he first got here, all he could think of was to go home. Then they kiss and Louise allows him to touch her boobs. I guess big or not, as long as you’re a guy, you won’t pass this chance up. Then he convinces her to say an embarrassing line. Too bad Siesta interrupts them with lunch and it’s back to tsundere mode for Louise. Remember Eleanor? That strict sister of Louise is back to chide her for living with a guy without getting married. Louie doesn’t want to hear from that divorcee… Eleanor wants to bring her back and anymore of this, their family will be a laughing stock. Plus, she does not believe Saito can be an aristocrat and will not fit in. Louise vows to turn Saito into one so Eleanor reminds her if he doesn’t turn into one by her next visit, she’ll have to come back with her. So Louise starts right off in teaching Saito the basics of etiquette. Let’s just say he is not cut out for this kind of stuff. He just can’t learn. Saito don’t want to be a fake aristocrat and just wants to be himself. So does Louise care about Eleanor or him? It ends with an argument. The kind whereby both decides to sleep in separate rooms.

So Saito rests in the basement and he accidentally stumbles upon a secret passage. This leads him to a room with a large mirror. In the mirror, he sees Henrietta and she comes through it! Louise is feeling sorry for going overboard and tries to find Saito. She sees the passageway and to her horror sees Saito and Henrietta together. Henrietta thinks the magic mirror is linked from her bedroom to this secret room and is part of her grandfather’s secret rendezvous. I guess when you’re king, you can’t do as you please but because you’re still human, you give in to temptations of the flesh. So this mansion is perhaps one that belongs to his many concubines. Henrietta thinks he may have been forced into marrying a person he doesn’t love. She too is experiencing the same thing because her mother is pressing her for marriage. Then in the most surprising, Henrietta kisses Saito. Okay, most heart breaking scene for Louise. Once Henrietta returns to her side, Saito realizes Louise was eavesdropping and goes after her. But Louise ran away riding a horse. In her nightgown. Saito feels he has no right to go after her. Can you believe it? Louise rides all the way back to Tristain Academy. Didn’t she feel cold? Tabitha talks to Louise and says she can take Saito away if Louise has dumped him. She can even marry him if she wants to. Kirche helps Louise decipher Tabitha’s riddle that once she becomes queen, she no longer has the freedom to love. When someone shows that much love, even Saito would give in. Does Louise have that resolve? Still worried she is no match for Henrietta and should respect that, if so, then it shows how far she has loved Saito. Those who win the love war are those who can be honest with their feelings. So Louise now fully enlightened, rushes back to Saito (I hope she didn’t ride all night again) and insists it has to be him. Screw Henrietta. Only he can make her happy. A hug to resolve the spat. Louise has the secret room sealed for good. You want to take as much precaution if a princess is your rival, right?

Episode 6
Saito discovers hotspring in his land. This means he can have a hotspring party with his friends. This means we can have a fanservice party! Louise confronts Tabitha over her remarks the other day and she warns if something like that happens again, she will be taking him. That night, Saito thought Louise was giving him the signal to be naughty in bed. He sneaks underneath the sheet and starts getting horny. Till he realizes it is Tabitha! Couldn’t tell the difference between their ‘flat plains’, eh? Tabitha wants him to continue and pounces on him. It’ll be bad if Louise sees this! Too late! As always. I don’t know how he’ll get out of this one unscathed. Oh, he didn’t. I wonder how he’ll have a good night’s sleep. Louise and Siesta by his side and Tabitha over him. Yeah, it’s a little crowded. I wonder how it’ll be if Tiffania’s in the picture. Underneath? So how? Saito sleeps alone in another room while the girls together. This is the best for him (look how soundly he is sleeping). But not what the girls wanted. What’s the use if they can’t sleep with Saito? They can’t sneak off since their hands are cuffed together. Next morning their friends arrive for the party. Louise and Siesta spot an intruder entering the mansion and corner the sneaky character. Turns out to be Henrietta! Louise and Henrietta take a bath together. So putting aside their status and everything equal, despite being childhood friends, they begin arguing over Saito. A little girly fight, comparison between their boobs’ difference and in the end they still make up. Henrietta notes that Saito’s age is where men usually die in battle. He could’ve died in Romalia. That’s why she doesn’t want to lie to her feelings anymore. She’s not going to give up on Saito. Later Henrietta talks to Saito alone and he realizes how important Louise is to him and wants to be with her. Even if that is his true feelings, hers will not change either. So next scene we got our full fanservice of the girls soaking in the hotspring. The perverted Undine Knight boys mistake naked bonding and got blasted away. After their friends leave, Saito and Louise have their own private hotspring bath. Naked. Thankfully no interruption to their kiss this time. They’re going to take it to the next level on their bed when Saito’s hands accidentally touched Tiffania’s. What is she doing in their bed? Earlier on she got out of the hotspring because she felt dizzy and plopped like a plank. I guess this ruins the mood. I guess it’s another one of those explosions. So hard to build up the mood, so easy to ruin it all.

Episode 7
Tabitha pecks on Saito’s cheek and leaves. She fears her resolve will weaken if she hears his voice. Saito wants her to stay (hope it’s not for his harem) when suddenly the Elemental Siblings show up. They thought they could sneak in an ambush for revenge but they’re dead wrong. Nearby, a group of elves, Rukshana, Ari and Madarf are looking for Tiffania. So while Saito, Tabitha and the Undine Knights fight against Bleu and Jacques (he somehow escaped from prison), Jeanette takes Louise as hostage and threatens to rip her clothes naked. The elves couldn’t comprehend why those savages are fighting. Maybe it’s because they’re hungry? They see Tiffania. When Damien comes into the picture, the other siblings fear this little dude and try to explain themselves. Damien is not amused they’re doing some revenge thingy that doesn’t profit them. While he uses his spell to stop their ruckus, Saito rushes off to save Tiffania before she gets taken away by the elves. But the sleeping spell causes everyone to fall unconscious. When Saito wakes up by Tiffania’s side (once more, his hands on her boobs), they are being told by Rukshana that they’ve been kidnapped and in the middle of their oasis base. Louise reports to Henrietta about Saito’s abduction but it seems she can’t mobilize a search party as they do not know the elves well and since Romalia knows them better, is suited for the job. But Louise is not going to sit around and do nothing. Saito has always been saving her so it’s now her turn to return the favour.

Rukshana explains that she is a researcher researching the culture of savages (that is the elves’ term for humans) and the reason why they’re being kept at her place. As for Tiffania, she possesses the Devil’s power (their term for Void magic). The Elves are afraid their country will fall if all 4 Void users unite (despite Joseph’s demise, the fourth Void user will pop up somewhere though it is not known who that person is at this point). Vidalshal returns and it seems Rukshana is his niece. He is here to check if everything is in order. He lets Saito know that Tabitha’s mom is doing well. Ari also returns from the council and it seems they are split over the decision to allow those who wield the Devil’s power and their familiars to live. Ari doesn’t like the savages too much so Rukshana threatens to call off their marriage if he keeps badmouthing them and not support her research. Siesta is coming with Louise. Tabitha is coming too. They can reach Adyl (the capital of the land of elves) faster via Sylphid. Even the Tristain Academy friends have the same idea via Ostland. Saito tries to leave the oasis but a magic barrier keeps him from leaving. Since he doesn’t want to fret over the little stuff (Tiffania blames her own weakness for allowing him to be captured), he decides to enjoy the moment now. No, nothing horny with Tiffania. Saito takes a swim in the lake and realizes the odd looking structure in the middle is in fact a crashed fighter jet from his world.

Episode 8
Rukshana realizes Tiffania likes Saito and thinks she can win him over with her ‘great weapons’. But Tiffania doesn’t feel so because Saito already has Louise. When Saito surfaces from his swim, he sees Ari and Madarf mishandling Tiffania. Seems the council wants them to be brought over to debate their fate. Vidalshal warns Saito to keep his mouth shut and not let the anger get the better of him. I don’t think he can. Especially the way they’re badmouthing the savages and Devil’s power. Saito is even enraged when they abuse Tiffania because they can’t believe one of their kind also possessed this power. Saito fights back but is cornered. This only aggravates the elves to believe further that the savages are dangerous and must not be allowed to live. Thrown into the dungeon, Tiffania thinks she’s in love with Saito (it has to be) so she kisses him. In that instant, Saito’s felt a burning sensation on his chest. No, it’s not that his heart is on fire, but strange runes start to appear on it. While they’re talking about a familiar serving 2 Void mages, Vidalshal, Rukshana and Ari unlock the door to help them escape. Meanwhile Ostland enters the land of the elves and instead of attacking, they speed up further. They’re not here to start a war but to rescue their friends. Vidalshal leads everyone through his underground tunnels. He constructed them and knows each nook and turn like the back of his hand. Vidalshal explains why he worked with Joseph. When he heard of the Devil’s power returning, he worked his way into Joseph’s confidence to investigate and found out about its truth. As for Tabitha’s torture, it was imposed on him. He had to obey Joseph if he wanted his support. But he learnt it is not the power they should fear but the heart of the wielder.

They’re supposed to reach the end of the passageway but it’s blocked. Seems the elves had seen this coming. They corner them and Ari got injured by Madarf’s attack. Saito fights them using the back of his sword to fight his way out. They end up in a dead end. Ostland is being attacked by the sentry and is losing power. The guards step on board but they have not heard news that their kind has been kidnapped. Louis is kept hidden for fear they may take her into custody as she is a Void mage. Louise wanted to see Saito so much and Saito the same, that it opened up a portal between them. A perfect escape. Those elves will never know where they had disappeared too. With Vidalshal on board, he tells the guards to back down. They respect his decision seeing they were his former students. Knowing that returning to Adyl they’ll be treated as fugitives, Vidalshal wants them to stay with the humans but he is going back to Adyl and lie low for a while. Trying to figure how Louise made Saito’s great escape, she just wished greatly to see Saito and suddenly a window opened up. When she held his hand, she felt power flowing through her and the portal became bigger enough to fit everyone. Colbert thinks it is a new Void power. Saito shows the runes on his chest but what Louise saw was the possibility (fact, rather) that he and Tiffania kissed! That’s not important says Saito. Oh, it is VERY important. Even Siesta is not happy that even he already has a mistress like her to go flirting with other girls. She just admitted she’s the mistress…

Episode 9
Once they touch ground at Lutis (Gallia’s capital), Tabitha’s subject says that it is time for her coronation. I’m sure Louise has her anger over Saito much controlled till she sees this. What the hell is Saito trying to do with his hands under Tiffania’s clothes? A bug underneath it? Oh there it is. Believe it now? And since Saito continues to be so friendly with Tiffania, Siesta thinks they really need to show him who is the true master. Rukshana wants to go sightseeing but Guiche and Maricorn are tasked to not allow her to leave the annex. It is feared that if people discover elves present, the coronation will be disrupted. Ari and the guys almost had a fight if Saito had not stepped in. After that, Saito helps Louise picks a dress for the ball. She allows him to touch her ‘flat plains’. When things are looking reconciled, then comes Tiffania busting in. Her dress is going to bust wide open… You can guess what happens next. Soon Ari is distressed that Rukshana is missing (she’s already going on a tour of the palace of her own). Since Vittorio is arriving, they need to solve this before he does. Vittorio learns about Saito’s escape and explains that is called World Door, a Void magic that connects distant locations. Because Gandalfr shouldn’t possess the power to enhance the spell, he believes the runes on his chest indicate God’s Heart, Lifdrasr, the power to amplify spells. In other words, power booster. But he certainly has never heard of a familiar serving 2 masters at once and multiple powers coexisting within a familiar. It is said that the 4 Void users will save Halkeginia from disaster and though the fourth one has not surfaced yet, having Lifdrasr is a God sent. Montmorency thought Guiche is flirting with other girls again and doesn’t want to hear excuses. He is actually trying to give descriptions of Rukshana. Ari knows how when it comes to women, there is no difference between the races. So for once, Guiche and Ari sit down and drown their sorrows over the trouble in the form of women. Is this how men of different races are to unite? Meanwhile the girls who are on their way to Tabitha’s room, find Rukshana snooping around. She apologizes for the understanding because she and Ari often get into fights like these. Tabitha’s coronation goes well and she becomes the queen of Gallia. Though she is officially known as Queen Charlotte (which is also her real name), I’ll still refer to her as Tabitha as like her friends, we are so used to that name. Saito tells Louise this master-familiar thingy isn’t important to him because all that matters is he loves her. For some reason not wanting to be late for the dinner, Saito walked too fast leaving Louise lost behind. After saying those cool words, he let this happen? But Louise hears something disturbing. Giulio wants to know why Vittorio didn’t tell Saito about the diminishing powers of Lifdrasr. Each time the Void power is used, a part of the soul is used and cannot be replenished. This means Saito will die in the end. Seeing that using a Lifdrasr’s power is equivalent to using one’s life, informing him will only frighten him. He may not be able to fight well when there is crisis. Oh Louise. What are you going to do?

Episode 10
Louis is torn to tell Saito this. But they are summoned by Henrietta. Seems as Vittorio left for Romalia he immediately contacted her requesting Saito, Louise and Tiffania’s assistance. Because last night a village at the base of a mountain was completely annihilated. They leave Orneal in Siesta’s hands and promise to come back. With Sylphid giving a ride, the trio are surprised to see Aquapolis on fire. The other dragons have become hostile and are attacking them. They meet up with Giulio and learn the cause of it is a huge release of miasma from the Ancient Dragon. Vittorio sets his Bronze Knights to trap the Ancient Dragon at the valley. Meeting with Saito and co, this is what His Holiness was worried about the world catastrophe. In ancient writings, it has only been described as a great calamity that scorched the world and many researchers including himself have tried to decipher its meaning. Now it is very clear. Vittorio delegates the duties they need to perform. Louise’s explosion is vital in this operation till the end, Vittorio will use his dispel to rid of the miasma wall protecting the beast while Tiffania will cast her Oblivion to protect the Bronze Knights and other succumbed dragons in the vicinity. As for Saito, he wants to make use of his Lifdrasr power. As everyone gets into position, Giulio is worried Saito will die. Vittorio notices how Giulio has changed. When he first met him, he was cold and distance even when he became his familiar. He is now proud of him and glad he sent him to the magic academy. As for Saito, he won’t die after one or two attempts but the accumulation of using that power will kill him. That’s why they must make sure their first attempt must succeed. Louise tells Saito about the truth and doesn’t want him to die. She won’t let him die and will take care of the beast with her spell. Tiffania heard that and feels guilty for making Saito her familiar. The plan is set in motion as the Ancient Dragon is trapped underneath the valley rocks. Vittorio uses his healing power to attack with Saito amplifying it. Nothing is happening. Giulio’s dragon has succumbed to the Ancient Dragon’s spell. Derflinger suggests using him to absorb the Ancient Dragon’s blast. However it is too much for him and breaks. Oh sh*t! NOOOO!!! Saito falls off and is in shock but Sylphid retrieves him. Vittorio knows where this is going. He pushes Giulio off the dragon and gets devoured by the Ancient Dragon. Chomp! Oh sh*t! NOOOO!!!!

Episode 11
By the time Saito wakes up, he is back in his Orneal. Was it a dream? Nope. Derflinger is gone. As for the Ancient Dragon, it somewhat curled into a big boulder, lying dormant at the mouth of the valley. For now. It’s not dead yet because they can sense its heartbeat. Saito and Giulio can’t let their emotions get the better of them yet till they take care of the beast. Louise knows deep down Saito is sad because he didn’t say a word about Derflinger. She would’ve preferred him to say he can’t fight without his sword. Henrietta and Tabitha will summon their army and other countries to help fight the menace but Louise feels Saito shouldn’t be involved in this war in a world he isn’t born into. Saito is discussing with the elves that he needs something like that fighter jet, that kind of power that will down the Ancient Dragon. I thought if magic can’t kill this beast, can our human technology do the trick? You won’t know if you don’t try. But the jet at the oasis is ruined so what he suggests is to open the World Door back to his world and he’ll come back with a working one. Oh. How is he going to sneak into a military base? We’ll leave that for later. Louise agrees to help out. So after all this time, finally a portal opens to his world. Yes. This is Japan. Saito steps through the World Door but is puzzled Louise isn’t following him as agreed. Well, she’s not. It’s her plan to return him to his own world for good. Goodbye. I love you. It was a painful decision to make so when the others get to know about this, they feel they would’ve done the same thing too. Don’t tell me this is how the harem will end! This is a bigger crisis than the Ancient Dragon. Oops. Ahem. 0Osmond explains in the past Void mages sealed the Ancient Dragon but according to literature, Void mages feed it with energy by being consumed. That’s why it instinctively goes to where the presence of Void mages are. So when it awakens, its next target will either be Louis or Tiffania. That’s why they’re going back to the academy where it is far away from other villages and all the students have evacuated. Except for the evacuated part. All the students stay back because they want to be the hero, oops I mean protect the world they live in. Tabitha has also hired the Elemental Siblings to help out so rest assured they’re on the good side. Saito thinks he could go back to Halkeginia by heading back to the place he was pulled from. Some dark and dirty alley. What was he doing here? Anyway, nothing is happening. Some punks thought Saito got dumped by his favourite maid so he got pissed off and fights them. Saito takes a beating but the punks also equally got some. They leave since it’s a waste of time trying to rob a guy with no money. Night falls and the Ancient Dragon revives. However the Bronze Knights get the shock of their lives because it starts flying! No time to react or attack. They just got vaporized right out from the sky.

Episode 12
Saito is right outside the doorstep on his home. Realizing the Gandalfr rune is still on his hand, he feels the need to go back to Louise’s side. How are you going to get back? Better hurry because despite Tristain Academy setting up barriers around, it’s not going to last long if those dragons start ramming into it. Henrietta and Giulio lead their army to fire all they got at the Ancient Dragon. Let’s say that didn’t work. If it was that easy, don’t you think it could have been done a long time ago? The Ancient Dragon fires back at them but thankfully Vidalshal uses his modified Flame Stone as defensive shield to protect them. Now the elven army is here too. At times like this it is best to put aside race and nation differences for the better of everyone’s future. Eventually Tristain’s barrier is broken. Louise and Tiffania flee via Sylphid knowing the Ancient Dragon is after them. The rest of their friends try to fend off the other dragons. Louise notices an open wound created by Henrietta and Giulio’s attack and thinks she can defeated by using her explosion spell into that area. Well, here goes. Boom. Nothing happens. In addition to the shock of her failure, Louise is zapped of her strength as the Ancient Dragon whacks Sylphid out of the sky. Meanwhile Saito has found a way to return. It might only be theory and a long shot but it’s worth a try. Remember last time that it was possible to go to different worlds when there is an eclipse? Seems that is happening right on Earth now. I know Saito’s runes are making him fly the fighter jet with ease (no matter how silly this reason is) but what bugs me is that how the hell did he sneak into the military hanger and successfully steal one?! Anyway for the sake of this show, that eclipse theory worked. So before Louise becomes the dragon’s next meal, she screams Saito’s name for help. Regret sending him back? Then just like always, Saito returns in the fighter jet to pump some missiles into the Ancient Dragon. Hooray! Saito’s back! So is Derflinger. Eh, what? How? For simplicity, let’s just accept the reasoning that after the sword broke, he continued to live in his Gandalfr rune. Why he hasn’t spoken since his ‘death’ is still a mystery.

So did Louise open the World Door to Saito so that she could throw a tantrum on his return? Hey, didn’t you wish for him back and now you say he is wasting her efforts? Women… Isn’t the cockpit a little cramped? To rid the Ancient Dragon, Saito plans to do another attack with Louise nailing the final explosion. Since she is too weak, he will use Lifdrasr. Of course Louise won’t accept that since she won’t have a reason to live (and beat up for flirting around) if he’s dead. So what has got a guy to do than to promise to won’t die and seal it with a kiss. Hey, keep your eyes ahead? Who is flying the jet when they’re kissing?! With all the army ships firing once more, Saito crashes the plane into the Ancient Dragon (right before he hits the eject seat button) and Louise ends it with her explosion spell. Finally the Ancient Dragon comes crumbling into ashes. On ground, Louise cries her heart out thinking Saito really had died. She’d do anything for him to come back. Well, she doesn’t have to because he didn’t. That would be very inconvenient to the characters and us viewers. Seems he used up all his Lifdrasr power and life but his life as Gandalfr remained. How convenient. So does this mean he is no longer Tiffania’s familiar? And did Louise say she would do anything? Oh no. He wants a favour now. In public? Yes. He wants to marry her. After all they’ve been through, it wouldn’t be right for her to be tsundere. And before you know it, Saito and Louise get married in the cathedral with everyone attending this joyous occasion. I guess this puts an end to the harem tussle, eh? Now about the mistress part… That’s a different story. I’m not sure about the custom in Halkeginia but do you kiss right away before the priest gives you the permission. By the way, where is the priest? There is no priest. Oh whatever. Perhaps for their honeymoon, Louise opens the World Door (can she amplify the power on her own now?) to Saito’s world (right in the middle of the busy street? Nobody was surprised?) and they go dating like what normal lovers on Earth would do. Lastly, I guess with Saito already married, he brings her to meet his parents. We’ll leave how they tackle that to your imagination.

From Zero To Hero And Almost Ero…
Well, I can’t say that I am totally disappointed at the ending but I can’t say that I am totally satisfied either. Another on-the-fence conclusion? So for the good part that the series has finally ended. If it is intended to stay that way unless somebody got a bright idea to revive it again. All is well, ends well with Saito finally marrying his own master (If you’re a Saito x Louise fan, that is) and I hope they don’t take that master-familiar into the kinky level. I’m not sure if Saito can stop being a lecherous dog after he has walked down the aisle. Once you’re a pervert, it’s hard to totally change over a new leaf. That’s what mistresses and secret lovers are for. Ah, even in holy matrimony, that won’t really stop a guy from flirting, right? We don’t see this question arising because the last episode is made to paint Saito as a hero so I suppose the side affair of him being perverted is pushed to the sidelines. I’m not saying Saito is going that far but after 4 seasons, I can’t help think but there is this huge possibility. I mean, even if Saito is the one who proposed to Louise, does this mean the other girls will give up? Siesta might be the closest rival since she is their official maid and even openly declared she is his mistress. Will Tiffania still be able to love Saito now that he has chosen Louise? It might be hard for Henrietta and Tabitha since they are queens of their own country as they have their own people to take priority with. But deep down as a woman, don’t you think they want Saito for themselves? Thus I suppose that the marriage thing was in a way a ‘warning’ to lay their hands off Saito.

And for the bad part, I’m sure that after 4 seasons of adventure and misadventures, it will be hard to wrap up things properly. But I’m sure it won’t be as bad as anime series that went on for years and have 3-digit number of episodes to their name. Still hard nevertheless. For example the characters. Many of the side characters that appeared in the previous season were almost forgotten. If I did not browse on my previous blog, I wouldn’t have even remembered their names. Remember Beatrice? Hell, sure I didn’t. She was the obnoxious bully girl who tried to persecute Tiffania for being an elf before becoming a number one fan and worshipper. Did anything important for her happen here? Not exactly. What about that gay Scarron and his daughter and Siesta’s cousin, Jessica? Could have been done without them. What was the significance of Eleanor’s return and threat to bring back Louise? I’m sure in a way it was to made Louise and Saito realize how important their love for each other but as we go along, I could have sworn I would have forgotten about Eleanor even if she didn’t pay them a visit. And where was the middle sister of the De La Valliere family, Cattleya? I didn’t even see her nose around except for that last scene whereby she attended Louise’s wedding. Therefore these are just some of the other characters that I pointed out. I may have forgotten the rest.

As for some like Agnes, Colbert, Osmond, Irukuku, Guiche, Kirche, Maricorn and Montmorency, their roles have been minor although they made more screen appearance than those I have mentioned (anybody remembered their familiars? Heck, I don’t even see them here). Even I felt Tiffania’s role was somewhat even reduced. Besides providing an element for Saito’s harem and the potential of him becoming another familiar, there was really nothing she could do by her own. Please don’t get the wrong idea that she is useless but I thought she would be playing a much more important role since her debut in the third season. I guess it was mainly pretty much a Saito-Louise affair for this final season. You don’t see any development in the romance section between Kirche-Colbert as well as Guiche-Montmorency either. The Elemental Siblings, I thought they were going to be the antagonists in the end after Joseph’s death but it turns out they weren’t that bad themselves and eventually became allies. Similarly, I thought Vittorio had this look whereby he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There is this deceptive look on his face whereby it hints from the way he speaks, there is an ulterior motive. His admission that he wanted to kill Joseph using the priestesses as an excuse seem like a good indicator too. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe he just sounds like that. Have you ever heard him get really angry or raise his voice? Then he turns out to be a really good guy and the kind of Holy Highness whom everyone respects greatly to. Then chomp! He just died. When Derflinger revived, I thought there is a chance he might too but sadly, perhaps he already got melted by the Ancient Dragon’s stomach acid. Oh wait. Burnt perhaps because beneath that thick rocky skin is just blazing fire.

What else is there to be said about our main hero Saito? Some still thinks he is the idiot he was when he first landed in this world. Some would think he has changed a lot since then. No doubt he has gotten used of this world, there are many other things that he still follows his own beliefs. Especially about knowing your place as an aristocrat or peasant, master or slave. To Saito, such formalities are unimportant as long as you have a good heart, you’re his friend.  Even better if you have good boobs ;p. A lot will still agree that he is still the same pervert but that is a good sign because this means he is a healthy young teenage boy who doesn’t swing the other way. Sometimes being in his shoes is tough because if a girl tempts you with her boobs and you don’t cave in to it, this may send signals that you are gay or you are not appreciative of the girl’s ‘effort’. Tough, isn’t it? So can you really blame Saito for being a pervert? Yes you can. If you’re Louise. Say, I don’t hear her calling him a water flea this season. Speaking of Louise, still your typical tsundere whom we all love and identified with. She isn’t an outcast anymore and has grown with her powers. Can’t say the same for her boobs. Oops. Just that she’s just trying hard to find the right balance between her relationship with him as master-familiar and lovers. Not easy seeing she’s tsundere all the way.

Maybe I was thinking too hard. Asking too many questions that maybe I should have just accepted as it is. For example, those who are chosen as Void users. How is it that they are chosen and how do they appear? Of course the characters in the series won’t know this mystery too because if it was, they would’ve guessed where the next Void user would appear. And how is it that when one Void user dies or vanishes, how would the world know there is one less Void user and selects someone, somewhere to be the next Void user? If there really is a God and group of mysterious deities responsible for this, I hope it’s not some random process or the one whereby they close their eyes and do eenie-meenie-minie-moe. About Saito’s return to Halkeginia, it just really felt like coincidence that there was an eclipse on Earth. So where did Saito exactly flew to? Somewhere between the umbra? Shouldn’t people have noticed some portal opening each time the eclipse happens? Earth people in this series, that is. I guess nobody really cares. Even if the military really did allow him to ride an expensive jet and crashed it. Who is he to report the cost to? That’s why I figured Saito wants to stay here in this land where he made great friends. He’s really grown accustomed to it since his arrival. Heck, he’s being knighted as a Chevalier in the previous season so from being a nobody in his own planet, he is now a hero. Remember his super amazing feat of taking on the entire Albion army on his own? He nearly died and came back to life (thanks to Tiffania’s boobs, oops, I mean healing). So when he used up Lifdrasr and ultimately his life, it was all the more reason why I am convinced this guy has more than nine lives. And with Saito no longer having Lifdrasr, does this mean Tiffania can make a new familiar or can she kiss Saito again? One more mind boggling thing. Four seasons may have been a long time so I am assuming that Saito must have been gone from his world for a long time, right? Won’t there be missing posters of him? Aren’t his family worried? See my point? Then he suddenly returns and brings back a wife. If his parents are still around, I think they’ll die of heart attack.

With only a dozen episodes for the final season, maybe it felt rushed. Because for the first few episodes we see a great battle just to get rid of Joseph and Sheffield. At the end of the previous season, they were the antagonists that the heroes never met and were ‘left off the hook’. So once that is out of the way, a few episodes to dedicate to what perhaps most viewers would love to see, the harem tussle between the rest of the girls and Saito in his new mansion. I felt we should have more ‘pointless’ harem cat fights and fanservice. If Saito had his way, things could’ve turned ero… After that it’s that final perilous creature that has for some unknown reason decided to awake at this moment in time to bring great catastrophe to the world. Maybe that is a blessing in disguise. With different nations in turmoil and war, perhaps the ancient creature is a uniting factor in making the different nations and races work together for the common good. Now if they could only last that kind of peace longer. So I don’t see why humans and elves hate each other so much. Each calling the kettle black. It was really odd to see that elves debating and calling humans as savages when they don’t realize themselves the violence that they are resorting to. Don’t worry, we humans are not very far off. Okay, please worry. Thus if everyone could be just understand or have Rukshana’s inquisition like a researcher to learn more about the other culture, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.

Like in all previous seasons, ICHIKO has been the one singing the opening themes. Yet another English-titled opening song, if you have heard her typical powerful vocals rock style, I’m sure you’ll find it no different in I’ll Be There For You. Also, Rie Kugimiya (the voice of Louise) once more sings the ending theme which is often Louise’s personal space to rant, complain, whine, grumble, reprimand, chastise, admonish, dress down and moan about Saito. Usually about his lecherous ways. What else. Despite being the perverted dog he is, she still loves him. That’s what makes her tsundere. And we like it. So this season’s ending theme, Kiss Shite Agenai isn’t any different than all the other Zero No Tsukaima’s ending pieces but there is one very disturbing scene in the ending credits animation. Despite griping about Saito, she has this life-size daimakura pillow of Saito! I think she is going make out with it only if Saito hadn’t stepped in and witnessed this disturbing act. Because it would’ve saved him the pain from her explosion too. Ouch. This is the girl he married too. He missed his last chance to say no at the altar. Haha! So, there wasn’t any priest in sight like I said… But hey, I guess it’s better than going around flirting with other men, right? This is how dedicated this tsundere is to him.

So I read that many weren’t impressed or had too much hope for the season finale. Many were just glad that it closed the chapter for Saito and Louise for good. Forever. Many complained about the stale jokes being reused again and the lack of direction in the plot. Just to be fair, as I have said, for me it is pretty decent and it is with mixed feelings when everything ended. It won’t make me want to go rewatch all the episodes from all the seasons again. If they did an OVA filled with mindless fanservice like how they did for the previous season, maybe I’ll go watch for nostalgia sake. After all, Saito has fought the Albion army, destroyed a seemingly invincible juggernaut and even defeated the greatest threat that ever walked the face of Halkeginia. What else is more dangerous for him to face? I know. His life as Louise’s husband! Haha! He better start loving lemons instead of melons, coconuts or pineapples. Otherwise he’ll get a taste of Louise’s fruit punch explosion. Fruity Fury.

Shining Tears X Wind

December 14, 2012

It’s time to go on another adventure. Another RPG adventure in another parallel world. Form your own party with different races, wield special weapons, fight demons from the other world and save this world from impending darkness and destruction. Well, that’s how most RPG games would sound so once more I had this feeling in taking up another RPG themed anime like Ragnarok The Animation, Shukufu No Campanella, Prism Ark or Tears To Tiara. Because of that spin-off sequel anime, Shining Hearts: Shiawase No Pan that came out in mid 2012, it was the main reason why I decided to take a look at Shining Tears X Wind (pronounced as Shining Tears Cross Wind), the alternative prequel that came out in 2007.

Based on the Shining Tears video game, the anime adaptation is based on the perspective of one of the characters in the game. Though I have not played the game nor have I heard of it before in my life, I’m not sure if it really follows one of the many paths in the game or it is just uses the characters and settings of the game and veers off the plot. But I’m sure it won’t deviate a lot since how far can you deviate from the original game that it is based on? So as usual, the story tells of a group of students while investigating mysterious disappearances in their town are accidentally (or by fate if you wish to call it) brought to an alternative realm whereby they make new friends, fight dark forces and get involved in a world-threatening conspiracy that will endanger the lives of all those who lived here. So much to do to even get back to your own world. If that is even possible…

Episode 1
The mysterious disappearances of Tatsumi Town have reached St Luminous Academy. A group of students comprising of Haruto Saionji, Souma Akizuki, Kaito Kiriya, Touka Kureha and Kanon Shiina are discussing the mysterious disappearance of Nakayama from the basketball club. He entered the PE room but never came out. Everybody agrees to pass the message when Reia Hiruda shows Saionji a book, End Earth that contains details of the other world. It probably has particulars on how to get there too. When Souma returns to the room to retrieve his handphone, he notes Saionji and Hiruda gone and notes the book on the table. Soon it became a huge fuss since Saionji never returned and what do you expect when that kid is supposed to be the young heir of the Saionji business? Hiruda is also missing. The rest try to look for clues as Kiriya explains the weird dream he has that a girl with weird ears told him about the link of this world to another called the Dream Continent, End Earth. They suggest to meet up tomorrow at the school gates to continue their investigation since Shiina mentioned about a wolf’s howl being heard last night. Next morning Souma and Kureha wait for their friends at school. Taking a little detour, Souma knows Kureha likes Kiriya but he is oblivious to her feelings. So what? He takes this chance to confess he likes her! I won’t say she isn’t exactly thrilled but she doesn’t put him down either. Interrupting this confession scene is a wolf-like creature. Hopping past them and causing a big rampage in their school by tearing up everything. Huh? The girl chasing the beastman, Mao enters the fray but isn’t strong enough to overwhelm the creature. Souma catches her fall and her hat drops off to reveal her cat ears. Introducing herself and her mission, Souma agrees to help out and by cooperating, they manage to corner and subdue the beast. Mao explains she is looking for a man named Zero. This guy with black and white rings and wears rings on both hands is her friend as she has something she needs to ask of him. He can’t find him anywhere so she thought he came to this world. Oddly, the beastman who has been sitting quietly like a good dog suddenly breaks free of that seemingly frail rope that is used to tie him. It got a little pervy and tried to attack Mao’s breasts. Haha… Anyway the Mirror of Dimension that was placed in between her breast is now broken. Is that bad news? Yes, because they’re going to be transported to End Earth since it’s out of control.

Souma and Kureha notice Mao not with them in this alternate dimension but they see Zero who knows about Souma. He wants them to watch over the world on his behalf. Just great. He just gave a bunch of high school kids a vague mission and a huge responsibility to shoulder. Kiriya and Shiina are at school and are surprised to see the sakura tree that has never blossomed for so long, in full bloom. This is one of the conditions in Kiriya’s dream whereby both worlds are linked together. Souma and Kureha find themselves in a barren land. Definitely not Japan. Trying to look for the mirror to get them back, a demon appears out from a wormhole to attack. I guess this is Souma’s chance to show off he can protect Kureha. I can’t believe the demon easily died with his strangling. But how can he handle a bunch of new monsters appearing now? Run! Of course Kureha trips. Souma wants to play the hero. He tells her to run and will take on all the monsters himself. Seriously… Getting swamped doesn’t make him look cool. As expected, Kureha gets attacked (it looked like she was going to be raped!) so this ups Souma’s anger and determination to fight back. Okay, how do you handle the giant Cyclops now? He can’t. He gets strangled and one-eyed monster is going to pierce his sword through Souma when Kureha comes between them. Yup, she takes the stab. I don’t know what she’s got in her heart because it’s emitting a very bright light. Bright enough to whisk them away temporarily to some other dimension. Kureha lies unconscious in Souma’s arms while he laments the useless jerk he is unable to protect the girl he loves… Sighs… He feels something flowing through him when he tries to take the sword out. He heard her voice to take her heart and when he pulls it out, the sword turns into a cooler sword. He notes this sword is Kureha’s heart. Back to reality, he disposes the Cyclops in a single slash and sends shivers down the spine of the other monsters. Now he’s confident he can protect Kureha. Just don’t get cocky looking too cool, okay?

Episode 2
That sword is a legendary Soul Blade called Setsugekka. So confident Souma is that he goes on a slashing spree, killing all the demons and even closing the wormhole, Chaos Gate. A big doggie character, Rouen comes forth. He assures he isn’t the enemy and came to check things out because he saw a Chaos Gate opened. He explains a Soul Blade is a sword of the heart. Your heart can crystallize with the heart of the one you share your emotions with and form a sword-like object. Legend has it that when great disaster befalls, Soul Bladers from Elde (their term for Earth) will come and be their saviours. I guess they qualify, eh? Rouen guides them to the country of beastmen, Seiran. They talk about returning back to their own world in which Rouen doesn’t know. Kureha feels if they find Mao, she might have the answer since she came to Elde. Speaking of which, Mao has handed the rogue beastman to the authorities and she heard rumours of Soul Bladers appearing in the country of Liberia. Rouen and Souma are fighting off hordes of demons attacking a village. Though they emerge victorious, the village is badly damaged. Next morning as they help clean up, Souma is surprised to see the basketball jersey of Nakayama but finds out he has been devoured by the demons. That solves the missing person case. There goes bringing him back. They continue their journey as Rouen brings them to Haiyou, capital of Seiran. This is as far he can go with them and since rumours of their appearance have reached here, they’ll be welcomed. The duo make their way into the palace and meet the chancellor, Shumari (fox guy) who is acting on behalf of the king in his absence as he is away in an official meeting. They are introduced to the 4 of the 5 Beast Generals: Engu (Garuda), Raihi (tiger), Basou (Centaur) and Kouryuu (old turtle). Being the legendary Soul Bladers, the duo are given the VIP treatment.

As they feast that night, Kouryuu mentions about the Holy Grail that is possible to send them back to their world but he doesn’t know where it is. Shumari says while searching for the Holy Grail, he requests them to help seal and purify Chaos Gate. They agree. Suddenly news of the elf been freed from Konran and reached Pilius reach them. They beastmen are surprised since Hyoun the other fifth Beast General is supposed to be keeping a close watch to prevent others from abusing the elf’s power to get near the sacred precinct. Kureha requests to explain in more detail so Shumari shows them a map of End Earth and points out the locations of Seiran and Pilius at opposing ends of the continent. Though it consists of humans, they are evil and have ambition to conquer others. An incident a year ago in the land of elves in the north, Astrea, their queen was assassinated in a meeting between nations. Soon the rest of the royal family all met their untimely demise. There is an elf named Houme and she has attempted to destroy the world before. Over the centuries, she has been imprisoned in Konran, the country sandwiched between Liberia and Pilius. Seems Pilius have formed an alliance with her and plan to destroy their country. Souma and Kureha feel they have to stop the war. Of course, that’s what Shumari plans to do too. Raihi accompanies the duo with his troop marching towards Pilius. At the battlefield, Raihi shows them Hyoun (dragon dude) engaged in battle with the enemy forces. He suggests it is best to leave the fighting to him and just wants them to watch. What? They came all the way here just to watch? Maybe their presence gives their soldiers motivation? Suddenly Hyoun falls right before their eyes. Souma feels the need to rush into battle and pulls out Setsugekka. Dashing to the fight below, cutting his way through the low level guards, he is surprised to see Kiriya and Shiina on the enemy’s side.

Episode 3
Kiriya admits they’ve been sucked into this world and he possesses a Soul Blade from Shiina’s heart. They aren’t exactly Soul Bladers for Pilius but were hired. Shiina formed this mercenary group called Luminous Knights that consists of herself (the boss), Kiriya (the knight) and Houme (the tactician). Souma tries to let his friends know Houme is an evil person who once tried to destroy the world. Though she doesn’t deny this but that was a long time ago. Kiriya believes Houme is a good person. She saved the prince under a curse (Souma believed it was divine retribution) and that curse was placed by Shumari. Souma won’t believe those lies and when Kiriya tries to take Kureha’s hand, he swats them away. There is only one way to settle this. Yeah, the guys are going to fight out using their respective Soul Blade. Kiriya obviously seems to have improved a lot and though has the upper hand, won’t finish him because he doesn’t want to kill his friend. Kureha can’t stand anymore of this and absorbs back the sword. Since Souma still wants to fight, Shumari throws him a blade. Before continuing, Souma and Kureha question him and he blatantly denies. But when Houme pops up and just throws the ball back to him, the fox starts acting so panic in an obvious way. As Houme accuses him of obtaining Kureha as the new priestess to wage this war and get rid of her (you can say Seiran started this war because they’re the first to cross the border), Shumari takes Kureha as hostage and retreats with his army. Kiriya wants Souma to join them and rescue Kureha but I guess that guy is too emotionally shaken to listen and leaves on his own. Luminous Knights return to Princess Clarakran and she deeply regrets getting their friend involve. She makes it top priority for them to rescue Kureha. Souma wanders through the desert and his mind is still disturbed. He understands well why he hates Kiriya. Because Kureha likes him. He foolishly thought if Kiriya disappeared, Kureha would like him. I hope that opened his eyes.

Shumari is trying to get Kureha to activate some tower. But nothing happens and as Kouryuu states, each tower has its decided priestess and this one belongs to Houme. Shumari leaves to prepare for the next attack and wants Kouryuu to guard this place knowing Souma will return to retrieve Kureha. But it’s not him, though. It’s Luminous Knights as they easily infiltrate the tower. Houme thinks she can talk to Kouryuu. Provided he is sober. Since he’s not, he’s a completely different person. Can you imagine his drunken movements could make Kiriya miss his strike? On a turtle! I don’t know how but Kiriya uses the Soul Blade as a machine gun to make that old turtle loose his footing and tumble down the stairs into the other soldiers! WTF?! So they head upstairs to rescue Kureha but the only way down is the way they came in. Guards are coming. Then Souma pops in from the window and ties a rope to climb down to the next level. Wait a minute. Did he climb all the way up from outside?! The gang easily escaped because the beastmen were not only blind as cow but they couldn’t smell humans even if they’re just hiding. Useless. At a safe distance, Souma wants to fight Souma and settle this once and for all. Kureha is reluctant but Shiina gives the green light provided he forgets everything that has happened up till now. Well? Fight lah! Shortly into the clash, Souma notes to Kiriya that anymore fighting will break Kureha’s heart. Physically and emotionally I guess. He gives his Soul Blade to Kiriya and throws Kureha to him. Why? He won’t say but we know. Souma leave by himself since he has some things to do. So that thing is to kill Shumari? Well, that fox becomes a coward trying to give any excuse to spare his life. Even if it’s admitting he planned the war. Till Engu steps in to fight him. Since the Garuda is bigger and stronger, Souma plays dirty by hitting under the belt. Hah. Big bird got big dick…? The other soldiers restrain and tie him up. Now the roles are reversed. Not so cool now, eh? Shumari prepares for his execution (why the long winded process? Just chop off his head on the spot lah!). Suddenly some giant mobile cannon fires into their base. Man, it’s one heck of a big explosion! Engu is reeling from the blast when he is surprised to see his king returned: Rouen.

Episode 4
Houme has successfully make the tower of rain water functional again. Rouen and Clarakran put behind what Shumari did and maintain their ties. Kiriya laments he should’ve brought Souma along with him but Shiina is confident he isn’t dead yet. Or she hopes so. Basou returns from his scout and confirms there is an unknown army at the neutral zone. Everyone heads over and Kiriya thinks these pointy ear people are the ones he saw in his dream. Those pointy ears indicate they are elves from the north, Astrea. However Killrain says Astrea no longer exists and they are the empire of demonic alchemy Baelgard. More surprisingly, the appearance of Saionji. He is known as Trihart and the Emperor of Baelgard. Hiruda is also with him and is the Hellfire Alchemist, one of the 4 guardians of Baelgard. Trihart wants them to surrender unconditionally. That won’t do, right? So he demonstrates by firing his all powerful cannon. That changed your mind? Seems Trihart wants to bring his new order to this world. The last time the peace negotiation between the 3 countries, some assassination happened and the same thing will likely to occur. So if they still refuse to submit, Trihart will have them submit by force. He takes out the Soul Blade, Excellion from Zechty Ein, another one of 4 guardians of Baelgard. Prince Caris of Pilius says their country has been invaded and that Raidel has sacrificed himself for him to escape. Seeing they can’t go back there, Rouen suggests Clarakran to come to Seiran for now. Meanwhile Souma lies in suspended animation. Is he dead? At least the voice of Zero says he is not. But Shumari is. Zero can’t have him die yet as there is something he needs him to do. When Souma returns to End Earth, he is met by priestess Ryuuna and big dragon in armour, Lazarus. They take him to see Zero. Souma thought he resurrected him but he explains all he did was drag him temporarily to the astral world (the place they first met). Anyway Zero has a favour to ask for him. He wants Souma to help stop this world from falling apart by becoming a guardian of the world in his place. Souma refuses since he has lost the power. Lost the sword, lost the girl, lost his confidence. Yeah, I know what he means. He can’t do anything and thinks Kiriya is suited for the job. However Zero insists he is the only one who can pull it off and gives him his Twin Dragon Ring to gain a clearer view of the world. That ring can’t come off… Try as you might put it won’t come out. Souma wonders why Zero wants him to fight in his stead so Ryuuna says Zero is a special entity in this world and wants to avoid getting directly involved.

The trio make their journey take a current look of the world. First, they enter Pilius but the place is like a ghost town. They heard a scream from a knight. With unconscious Raidel in hand, he is trying to escape from the undead knights. The trio fight them to buy him time to escape. But being undead means you can’t die, right? I thought Ryuuna should’ve used her magic from the start to make them stay dead. Then Jeed appears. Who? Another of the 4 guardians of Baelgard and leader of the Dark Knighthood. Crazy Jeed and Lazarus fight but Trihart appears and stops his underling. Souma is glad to see Saionji alive but starts to smell something fishy when he learns he is being called Emperor and his goal of creating a new order. Asking if Souma is a Soul Blader, Souma denies he is one because he lacks any power. In that case Trihart will spare his life since he has no business with him. But even with lack of power, he still got the guts to tell his friend to open his eyes. Trihart took that as his warning was ineffective and pulls out Jeed’s Soul Blade, the Sword of Holy Armour, Balmunk. Not only Trihart is armed with his sword, Jeed is also covered with armour. They both attack but Lazarus defends Souma. Souma couldn’t believe Lazarus placed so faith in him despite being powerless. Ryuuna suggests he pull out her Soul Blade. Can he? Of course. She believes in him. Well, if people like them have faith in him, I guess he can’t say no. Drawing out the Sword of Holy Dragon, the effects of the sword paralyzes Trihart and Jeed. Souma cuts them both and shatters their sword and armour. Souma picks Lazarus up and they walk away. Trihart warns him how he uses Soul Blade is up to him. But if he interferes with his plan, then be prepared to face his wrath.

Episode 5
With a simple disguise, Souma and co easily pass the Baelgards’ checkpoint and into their territory. While driving through the dead forest, a group of dark elves suddenly attack them.  Souma pulls out Holy Dragon to fight them but elven Elwyn doesn’t want him to hurt them. They may be contaminated but they were once elves. So how? Well, she’s thinking about it. Seems Ryuuna and Elwyn know each other and are good friends. We can save the talk for later but somebody please help Souma fend off the dark elves. Elwyn shoots her blinding light arrow to paralyze them and make their escape. Meanwhile the battle at the border intensifies. Kiriya wants to settle things with Trihart but Zechty will take him on. While they clash swords, for some unknown reasons (I am sure it’s not the Wind Spirit that Zechty was trying to summon) the ground opens up and swallows the duo. Souma and co camp out and Elwyn wants to follow him in hopes of encountering Zero. Unlike Mao, if Zero uses his powers the wrong way, she will kill him. Ryuuna and Lazarus are walking around the dead forest but to their surprise see Killrain emerging from a blooming sakura tree. Aren’t trees in this area supposed to be dead? Zechty dreams when she was young, Killrain mentioned Celestia’s name instead of hers in a hide and seek game. She became distraught who that Celestia woman is. Just like that? Zechty wakes up to find herself beside Kiriya. They’re stuck underground with no way out and Zechty is injured. Noting Kiriya is Trihart’s friend, she wonders why he isn’t helping him achieve his goals. Kiriya won’t forgive someone who will conquer the world but Zechty says he lacks understanding. Seems the contamination has caused the elves’ land to die. Trihart is their only hope to save that land and the world.

Souma and co hear screams of dark elves. They realize Baelgard is kidnapping them. They barge into their base to see Hiruda doing horrible experiments on them. Actually she’s not exactly Hiruda but her split personality, Hilda. The other softie is sleeping like a baby within. Hilda is turning dark elves into zombie soldiers. Souma wanted to pull out Ryuuna’s Soul Blade but she’s being held hostage by Killrain. Even if it seems dishonourable, he mentions he is just imitating them. He can’t trust anyone especially after he has seen with his own eyes how the King of Pilius killed the elven Queen right before his eyes because he believed Shumari’s lies. Souma surprisingly agrees with him. Now it’s his turn to be philosophical. He starts talking like as though he’s a pro on the subject. Like it’s going to get tired if you start hating everybody. So it’s better off to be a gullible idiot. Huh? Hey, I didn’t say he was a good pro. He is also directing what he says to Elwyn to have more faith in Zero. Don’t just expect him to do something wrong. She’ll feel better that way. Now with the believe-you-believe-me out of the way, Elwyn believes in Souma enough for him to pull out her Soul Blade, the Thunder Sword Blitzbringer. He fights Killrain to free Ryuuna. His enemies realize they can’t beat him and retreat. Killrain still isn’t convinced of his words and though he is free to believe what he wants, he will only fall into despair if he’s betrayed. After Souma frees the dark elves, he notes that though what Killrain said is true, but after despair there is always hope. Zechty thinks they’re done for. So much for her high and mighty attitude. Leave it to Kiriya to spout some words of encouragement and hope. Then a hole appears from the ceiling and the duo climb out. I don’t know if it was that difficult for Kureha, Shiina and Trihart to dig a hole. With magic. It’s not like they were very deep. Trihart immediately takes Zechty away. Back at the base, Zechty is having lots of confusing distortions in her mind. Especially those words from Kiriya. Trihart thinks she needs to be readjusted and is taken to Hilda’s lab.

Episode 6
Killrain leads his mechanical army to attack more villages. Shiina comes up with an idea to stop them. First, Basou becomes the bait and leads them to the valley. The army stupidly follow the single Centaur and once given the signal, they break the dam and flood them. Finally Houme finishes them off with her magic. Killrain orders the retreat for the rest. The gang ponder where the weapons are made so this mysterious crow dude, Jin-Crow tells them in the desert. Shiina and her friends decide to go scout. Speaking of the desert, Souma’s party is right in the middle of an igloo in the desert. Yes, a cold freezing spot right in the middle of the scorching heat. This igloo belongs to Blancneige and Elwyn’s friend. Blancneige kicks out the guys because she wants to take an icy shower (there’s your much needed fanservice). She tells them about somebody trying to make ancient weapons in the desert and use them for evil. She continues explaining about the 3 towers that were left behind by ancient civilization and such technology was discontinued because whenever it is used, war will definitely ensue. This may be the will of Zeroboros. What’s that? As put into a single word: Chaos. Souma didn’t really get it (so do I) so Blancneige thought it’s useless to explain it all to him as he can’t possibly understand as he is now. He thought she was making a fool out of him. Hey, I thought he said it was okay to be an idiot? Meanwhile Hilda is making a new weapon. Looks like some badass flame thrower. Suddenly the alert goes off and it is Zechty running away from the facility. She has gone out of control because she’s in attacking mode, going on the offensive regardless if there are enemies or not. Heck, everything to her is the enemy. Next morning, Souma and co get a rude awakening when Hilda arrives at the igloo to burn it down with her flame thrower. That’s great. Barge right in and destroy somebody’s abode just like that. Seems she and Trihart are looking for Zechty. Trihart is interested in Blancneige the ice sorceress and pulls out Hilda’s Soul Blade, Mythical Beast Sword, Mystletain. Souma wants to fight him and since Elwyn and Ryuuna offer to draw their Soul Blade, can’t argue over which so he pulls out both! However Trihart runs pass him to fight Blancneige so Souma and the rest have to settle for the zombie army of dark elves. Once they’re done, I guess Souma is so free that he decides to join in Blancneige’s fight and wants to pull out her Soul Blade, Ice Snow Sword, Ice Diamond. Duelling with Trihart, Souma emerges victorious and breaks Mystletain. Trihart thinks this is enough and decides to continue the search separately.

Kiriya and the girls are resting in the desert when Zechty attacks them. Kiriya knocks her off balance when Hilda pops up to take her back. The rest are puzzled over her change in character. Hilda probably wanted to laugh and brag but she suddenly collapses and returns to the original kind Hiruda. Kiriya thought the metal horns on Zechty is what contaminating her instead of protecting her from the dark matter and wants to rip it off. But Hiruda says that is true. She admits Hiruda is an artificial life form that she made using an ancient weapon. However she did this to save the world. Kiriya doesn’t believe this crap and draws his sword at her. In great timing, Souma rushes in to push Kiriya away. His friends are glad to see him alive. Souma is puzzled in Hiruda’s change in behaviour and as explained, because he destroyed Mystletain, she was able to return to her original self. Kiriya is not pleased that he interfered and thinks he is on Baelgard’s side. However he dismisses he is fighting for any country and the Kiriya he knows wouldn’t point his sword at a girl. Kiriya insists this is war and will do what it takes to stop Trihart’s ambition. Souma shrugs his head that what he is doing is no different than Trihart. Hiruda needs to take Zechty back to the lab to repair her and leaves. Kiriya continues to question Souma’s goal. He says it’s to become the guardian of this world. If anything like this happens again, Souma won’t hesitate to be his enemy. That’s because this is his mission and each of them has their own mission. Then he says goodbye and leaves. Returning to his own party, seems Zero has dropped in. They talk about the fight between Trihart and Kiriya. The one who wins will become the vessel for Zeroboros. In short, the world will be in chaos and destroyed. Even if he couldn’t understand that brief explanation (despite Blancneige offering to explain in detail), he understands what to do now. He’ll start off with the closest thing to him.

Episode 7
Elwyn sends Souma’s message to Seiran’s castle. Since his party are going to gather more info on Baelgard, Souma will be on his own. At Seiran, Kiriya has an argument with his friends. Over Souma. What else. Elywn’s message arrives and it seems Souma wants the trio to meet at a certain place. Kiriya thinks it’s a trap and doesn’t want to go. He is made to when Houme warns he may not be able to draw Shiina’s Soul Blade if a critical time arises. The trio go to meet Souma and to their surprise, Trihart and Hiruda are also there. Well, it looks like the gang are finally reunited like before they left their world. Just that they’re in different outfits. Seems Souma has arranged this meeting for them all to stop fighting. Like hell they’ll listen. Kiriya accuses Trihart’s way of sacrificing others but he throws him back that question about hurting Zechty. Since the talk is going nowhere, Trihart and Hiruda leave. He says they’ll settle this in the battlefield. Kureha and Shiina think Souma has changed a lot. It’s like he has grown up and matured. Well, he doesn’t admit he too was once foolish to pick a fight with Kiriya then because of his pride and has learnt from it. Zechty wakes up from another one of those who-the-hell-is-Celestia dream. Killrain says her memories must have her confused and not to mind them. He also says about the big battle that will commence soon and not to let the evil thoughts confuse her. After Zechty leaves, we learn from Killrain’s monologue that Celestia is his sister and won’t let her die. Both sides are soon engage in a big battle. Kiriya and Shiina face off with Trihart and Killrain on top of his mobile base. Killrain will not forgive Kiriya for hurting Zechty and deserves the death punishment. Trihart pulls out his Soul Blade, Demon Gun Sword Gallatin. Like its name suggests, it’s a huge freaking gun-cum-sword. But Kiriya and Shiina’s determination to stop the war is so great that he beats Trihart. Trihart admits he lost the fight in terms of Soul Blade and isn’t surrendering yet. He suggests a fight without using them and Kiriya agrees. So they’re going to use normal swords instead?

Souma comes running in to try and stop the duo from fighting. He even has his own theory (speculation as termed by the rest) to convince them not to do so. Something about the three of them were tossed into 3 different lands and became Soul Bladers because they’re the only ones who can stop this war. They’re friends, right? Were friends, I guess. What they’re doing isn’t just hurting each other and at this rate they’ll destroy End Earth. You think they’d listen? A stray shot almost hit them and throws Souma off, though he is clinging on the edge. With the annoyance out of the way, Trihart and Kiriya continue their fight. By the time Souma climbs up, Trihart emerges victorious and is going to stab Kiriya. Suddenly from out of nowhere, Zechty comes in between and takes the stab. It took her to make the guys realize how foolish they were. Too late to open your eyes now. Zechty did this because she views Trihart as this world’s hope and Kiriya as the hope of the future. She then becomes part of the wind to protect them. So don’t fight, okay? Too late for that. Too late to drop your swords. She’s dead. Gone with the wind, literally. Killrain couldn’t believe Zechty is dead and falls into despair. So great his sorrow that he couldn’t care less about this land since his sister is gone. Yeah, his aura is more devastating than the atomic bomb!

Episode 8
So great Killrain’s sorrow that a large ice crystal has covered the place. Plus, many Chaos Gates are opening up. Once more, Zero saves Souma and brings him back to his base. Souma laments he couldn’t stop the fight but Zero blames his own immaturity. Souma wonders his relation to Mao so it’s story time. Long ago, a nameless boy was washed ashore the eastern continent, Valeria. Elwyn found him and the only thing that identified him was his ring. With her, he joined the mercenary guerrilla mercenary knighthood, Weiss Ritter. Soon war broke out and more comrades join the group including Lazarus, Ryuuna, Blancneige and Mao. Together they successfully brought the end of the war. However that boy is no longer around. He is Xion, the old Zero. Hey! Isn’t that him? Continuing further, Xion went on a journey and realized the significance of the ring he wore. It’s an object heavily connected with End Earth. Everything in this world was constructed through the opposition between light and darkness, in which it maintains this world’s balance that we simply call Order. But something else existed besides this and it is Chaos. This is what this ring symbolizes. The one who wears this ring will lead this world into chaos. To prevent that, they must not have anything to do with this world. That’s why Zero gave up being human, thus no longer Xion. This was also why he entrusted the ring to Souma as substitute. Zero’s heart which contains chaos and order made him sprout white and black wings which represent light and darkness respectively. Probably this was what Mao wanted to ask but Zero never had time to explain it. Zero continues his story about Zeroboros, a power that wants to lead this world into chaos. Xion discovered that power was within one of his comrades: Ryuuna. She was willing to sacrifice herself to protect her comrades but Zeroboros was spreading throughout her body. Xion absorbs it and sprouted black wings. He goes crazy and kills Lazarus. Because he still has goodness in his heart, one of the wings turned white and he regained his sanity. When Mao arrived at the scene, she misinterpreted what Xion had done. Xion immediately fled but he could never forget that piercing scream Mao made upon seeing her dead comrades. Because Xion was no longer human, he later resurrected Ryuuna and Lazarus but this doesn’t change the fact he killed them.

Souma feels everything will be cleared if he could just explain it to Mao properly. Their comrades return and agree. They admit that they haven’t been gathering data on Baelgard. That was just an excuse for them to go find Mao. They didn’t find her and rushed back after seeing something terrible happened and thought Souma needed them. Souma notes the good comrades Zero has and wants to join Weiss Ritter. He is serious. Since Mao is the leader and is not here, the rest agree for him to join and make him the proxy leader. Haha. Got more than what you bargained for? Zero is glad he entrusted the ring to him. If Mao hadn’t brought him to this world, he would’ve done it himself. Meanwhile Kiriya, Shiina and Kureha are sailing with Jin-Crow to the land of Beastia. Jin-Crow wants to save Killrain consumed by darkness. Long ago, he, Killrain and the late prince of Pilius, Leon once negotiated for peace for their nation. They knew Shumari would disapprove but Jin-Crow had a bad feeling when he suddenly changed his mind. True enough, it was a trap as he made the king of Pilius kill Astrea’s queen. She is Killrain’s sister. As we know Zechty is an artificial life form, she was made using Celestia’s genes. This is why Killrain treasures her greatly. Arriving at the beastmen country of Valeria, the girls go gather information while the guys walk around town. Several guards corner Jin-Crow because they heard someone with black and white wings is suspected of murdering a dragon priestess. Jin-Crow denies he killed anybody (like the real killer would confess too) but they don’t believe. Till Mao steps in and says he is not the one. She introduces herself as the leader of Weiss Ritter that maintains public order in Valeria. Jin-Crow explains his mission here to seek Beastia’s help as something terrible has happened in Liberia. Mao thinks that will be easy because she is the daughter of the Lion King of Beastia, Diocress. She promises to pass their words to her father. I guess this saves lots of trouble. Mao is surprised to see Kureha too but when she learns Souma has gone with Zero, she immediately sets sail to Liberia. So what about the business with Diocress? Maybe that’ll have to wait. You’re on your own, Jin-Crow.

Episode 9
Imagine Mao’s shock when she sees thick huge ice covering Liberia. I don’t think the cannon is going to even make a dent on it. Souma and Elwyn are trekking through the snowy blizzard. They are ambushed by mechanical sensors. Souma knows they belong to Trihart and identifies himself. Seriously, he can hear in that storm? Of course Trihart is still against working together. Something about the ancient sacred treasures have awakened since the balance between light and darkness has fallen apart. Suddenly the red alert is sounded. They are surrounded by dark elves under Killrain’s command. Trihart wants Souma to escape as he entrusts this pod thingy to him to give to Kiriya. This pod is hope. But if it falls into Killrain’s hands, it’s despair. Trihart and Hiruda fight against Killrain’s forces while the duo escape. I’m not sure what this little cute creature is (what the f*ck is this, really) but it guides Souma and shows him the way out. He easily trusts this thing? Let’s hope it’s not because it’s cute. Even Elwyn quips he trusts everything else easily except her. Mao meets Blancneige and they need to do something about this overflowing dark energy before the ancient sacred treasures revive. Blancneige uses her magic to free the ice spirits and carve a path through the ice. That easy? I guess that’s why you need an ice mage. While Trihart is fighting Killrain, Hilda awakens and decides to defect to Killrain’s side because he is more powerful now (and darker too – that as in evil sense). Well, Trihart didn’t oppose and just give up. Souma and Elwyn reach back to their base safely thanks to whatever that cute piece of whatever that is. Seems Zero has left on his own and dwarves from nearby village are taking refuge at their place.

Meanwhile Rouen is pleased that many reinforcements have come from Valeria. Too many. So much so there’s not enough food to go around feeding those beastmen. Why are Caris and Clarakran working as waiter and waitress? Odd to see the royal siblings do this kind of job. And got scolded. A hungry beastman is angry beastman. Oh, Kiriya is still depressed over Zechty’s death. Give it up already. She’s dead for 2 episodes ago! Souma and co are fighting off demons from the Chaos Gate to save the dwarves. As thanks, the chief invites them for a feast. Souma notices the gold wares and thinks they’re rich. Actually it comes from the mine behind as it has gold and mythril (that’s End Earth’s term for some super iron). Suddenly a group of huge golems attack. What else? Get into action. Because they are made of mythril, their normal attacks are of no use. Not even pulling out Ryuuna’s Soul Blade could help. Lazarus is pinned under a rock and Souma can’t abandon him. Hurry before the golem clobbers them all. Lazarus suggests drawing out his Soul Blade. Can he? I mean, he’s a guy. So far he only pulls out from females. What the heck. You’ll never know if you don’t try. So Souma does it not because of gender discrimination, it’s because he is his comrade. Wah… So with the Holy Dragon Blade Gekirinkongou, in just a single slash, the golem crumbles like paper. Wah… Elsewhere, Clarakran prepares to restore the sun tower because it is decided that Caris will be Pilius’ next king. The ritual is successful as the tower turns the surrounding dark areas into light. Haven’t seen the sunlight for so long, eh? Houme notes all that is left is the wind tower but where is its priestess? Souma is treating Lazarus back at his base and inside the pod… Isn’t that Zechty?

Episode 10
Mao and Blancneige are on their way to Souma’s place when they chance upon Kiriya and co who have the same intention. Mao is worried about meeting Zero. Wasn’t this her goal? First thing Souma showed them is the revived Zechty. Imagine Kiriya’s happiness when he sees her again. It’s like reuniting with his lost love. So obvious. So lame. I don’t understand Souma’s explanation about using Celestia genes to reconstruct her again but she mustn’t fall into Killrain’s hands. Souma wants Mao to meet somebody: Ryuuna and Lazarus. She is surprised they are still alive so Souma explains what Zero has told him. It was Zeroboros who temporarily controlled Xion and killed them. Mao starts feeling guilty and emotional so much so Ryuuna and Lazarus had to leave to give them some space. They see Zero returning. Good chance for him to eavesdrop what’s happening. Souma felt it is better Zero and Mao shouldn’t meet because he is torn in his heart to see and apologize to her. Not after the agitation he caused her. He is still agonizing over it. That’s why she mustn’t hate him. By now, Mao is overcome with emotion and cries like a baby. Leader of Weiss Ritter is still a girl. Zero notes Souma is right that he is no longer Xion and leaves once more. Didn’t Ryuuna and Lazarus try to stop him? So with the gang reunite, they discuss about healing the wind tower. Doing so will not only restore wind circulation around Liberia but also purify the stagnant air and free the dark elves but nobody knows where the tower is and only a handful of elves should know. Zechty isn’t a real elf so she doesn’t know. Does Elwyn know? Not really either. If you’re wondering why the cute mascot is bugging Souma all the while, Elwyn translates what it is saying. Seems it knows where the tower is: The entrance of the northern forest of Pilius. Souma doubts it but I guess he has no choice but to trust it. I thought he trusts everything easily?

While making their way there, we take a slight detour and it seems the other Weiss Ritter members want to maintain Souma as their leader despite Mao back with them. Kureha and Shiina note how he has obtained more friends though most of them are girls. Hyoun has also changed his perspective on humans and admits he likes Kureha and Shiina. Unfortunately they reject him. Boo hoo. While camping, Souma notices Mao still depressed. Then he realizes he could take off his ring. He thought of giving it to Mao but she doesn’t want it since he needs it to pull out Soul Blades. Suddenly they see a pile of beastman bodies. Jeed has done them in. Wait a minute. Nobody else noticed this slaughter? His surprise attack causes Souma to drop his ring into the river. Mao wants to hold Jeed off so Souma could retrieve his ring. However Souma can’t leave his comrade behind and fights Jeed instead. Mao remembers how much his chivalry resembles Xion. Mao also helps to fight Jeed but is overwhelmed (Souma’s normal sword also breaks). Jeed is about to kill her so in her fear she screams out Souma’s name. Suddenly a Soul Blade emerges from her chest. Can he use it despite without the ring? Of course. It’s not the ring that matters. It’s their hearts. Wow… So drawing Mao’s Lion King’s Flame Dance, he fights Jeed and defeats him, breaking his Soul Blade, freeing Leon’s spirit that was trapped and used as his Soul Blade. Souma retrieves the ring and Mao lets him have it since it suits him.

Episode 11
Entering the northern forest of Pilius, they find themselves at Elnarit, the sacred land of the elves. There is a big tree with a big Soul Crystal keeping its surrounding areas from turning evil. A spirit from the tree appears and claims to be Celestia. No doubt she is dead, this is her spirit form. This is the person Kiriya saw in his dream. The rest thought Zechty were made from her genes so she inherited the right to be the priestess of the wind tower. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. However Celestia did mention that she is being favoured by the Spirit King of the Wind, which is that cute (annoying) mascot. Lesson learnt: Don’t judge a book by its cover. It starts sprinkling something over Zechty and made her the priestess of the wind tower. Zechty purifies the wind tower but the power of evil is too great that the land is still engulfed in darkness. They talk about the Sacred Treasure, a super ancient weapon that must not be awakened. To do so, priestesses and Soul Bladers are needed (that’s why Trihart was kidnapped). The Beast Generals attack the dark tower but couldn’t penetrate its barrier. As Zechty suggested, the only way to get in is by using the teleporter in Hilda’s lab. The party splits into 2 groups (Weiss Ritter and Luminous Knights) each taking a different path to reach the lab. Along the way, they fight waves of Zechty army clones. Hilda seems to be enjoying watching the heroes fight the army. Our dormant Hiruda seems to be trying to awaken at the right time by fighting for control against her other self. Conveniently, there is a switch to ‘off’ those Zechty clones. With all the clones shut down, Souma is outside the tower but his group tells him on he can enter the tower because he is their friend. Souma sees his friends trying to hold down Hilda. I thought she was like going into labour… Hiruda manages to regain control herself. But she wants them to kill her while she is holding back her other self. Of course it’s a no. Souma thinks that the only way to solve this is to draw out her Soul Blade. Remember Mystletain is the embodiment of her evil self? Yeah. They must destroy it. Souma pulls it out while Kiriya draws Shiina’s Soul Blade to break it. Mystletain separates itself into several parts (I thought it was like that retro Centipede game) and almost got Kiriya if Kureha hadn’t got in the way. Actually she was about to but Kiriya drew her Soul Blade and knocks it back into a single piece. Now with Souma holding it down, Kiriya uses both his Soul Blades to destroy Mystletain for good and send Hiruda regaining full control over her body. She sets up the teleporter so that everybody could go save Trihart.

Episode 12
Once inside the dark tower, the group splits themselves again. Luminous Knights with Souma will go save Trihart while Weiss Ritter will dispel the barrier. After fighting waves of monsters, the friends reach a room where Trihart is. An orb sits in the middle which serves as a collector of the Soul Blader’s power to feed dark energy to the sacred treasure. Plus, there is a strong barrier preventing them from getting close to Trihart. So how? Cut the cables to the orb! I didn’t know it was that easy. But wait. What will happen to Trihart? Yup. He’s fused to the machine. No wonder it was that easy. Of course, the friends want to save both Trihart and End Earth so they can’t do it. Reiss Witter has dispelled the barrier so the rest head to the underground tunnel where the sacred treasure is about to awaken. That is the sacred treasure of darkness, Demon Lord Elfaren. Later Weiss Ritter head to the sealed gate of the sacred treasure but comes face to face with Killrain. Once more the friends have to decide whom to save in the event they can only choose one. The world or Trihart. Guess what? Souma passes the decision making to Kiriya. I hope he is not avoiding responsibility. So why him? Hmm… Flashes of his bout with Trihart and how he lost Zechty to the wind to jog our memory. So it’s to settle an old score? Guess what is his answer? He’s going to save both. Isn’t that back to square one? What is the point of this then? So how now? I’m not sure if the only other is trying to force themselves going through the barrier. WTF?! It doesn’t work so why bother electrocuting themselves? Trihart wants them to go save the world as they have a higher chance of surviving. If somebody must die, he will be glad to be the sacrifice. Not till Hiruda steps in to chide this isn’t the senpai she used to know. Bla, bla, bla. Guess what? When the guys couldn’t get through the barrier, Hiruda can! Perhaps it is her strong feelings for Trihart that she dismissed all the pain when she forced herself through the barrier. Trihart got so worried that he got enough energy to get out from his seat and grab her. At that point, the legendary ultimate Soul Blade emerges from her chest. From what I understand, this Holy Grail is the product of crystallization of pure hearts. Thus Hiruda is Trihart’s Holy Grail. Save the drama for later because now you got to go help Weiss Ritter trying to take down Killrain. They can’t do it themselves since he got this insane power.

So with Souma and friends arriving on scene, Souma gives him one last chance to open his eyes. Like that would work. But this isn’t the Killrain we know because he has changed. Like duh! We could see that episodes ago. To say that he wants to awaken the sacred treasure is already too late because Killrain claims to be Elfaren and this Killrain has offered his body to become his vessel via hatred. Elfaren retreats into his cocoon but the heroes can’t cut it down using normal Soul Blades. They can only use the Holy Grail to fight. But can Trihart himself defeat Elfaren? Well, now the cocoon has turned into a monster butterfly. Zechty heard Killrain’s inner voice. Did he regret giving in to hatred to destroy the world? Too late for that. Zechty vows to save him so Kiriya gets this same idea too and since their hearts are in sync, Kiriya pulls out his Holy Grail from Zechty. Wow. Now we have 2 Holy Grail users. I guess Souma felt left out and wants one of his girls to give him his Holy Grail. If they only knew who. But 2 Holy Grail users aren’t enough because Kiriya is blasted off the edge. He could’ve been falling off if Souma hadn’t caught him. I’m not sure if he picked the right time to apologize about his uselessness that he couldn’t do anything (is that why he pushed that decision onto Kiriya?). On the contrary, Kiriya feels Souma has done a lot. His fight with Trihart and the part he gave in to his rage and almost killed Hiruda, if not for Souma, things could’ve turned out differently. With the guys reconciling, suddenly, the Holy Grail emerges from Kiriya’s heart! Wow! So Kiriya is Souma’s Holy Grail?! How disappointing it isn’t one of the girls. It felt gay… I guess it’s to show that a Soul Blader could pull out a Soul Blade from another Soul Blader. So with 3 Holy Grail users-cum-best friends, I’m sure they can’t fail this time.

Episode 13
So by combining their efforts and putting in all their hearts, Elfaren is defeated just like that. So easy… The darkness turns to light and whatever Killrain crystallized is set free. Since Killrain’s body is gone, we see his soul. He regrets what happened and to atone for his sins, he is going to be sealed with all the bad soul in this abyss and to also guard the sacred treasure to prevent such disaster from happening again. So he wants to play hero-cum-watchman for eternity? Don’t worry. He won’t do it alone. He has Celestia with him. He makes his peace and amends with Zechty before everyone leaves outside. The Soul Bladers as instructed use their Soul Blades to seal the abyss. With the battle over evil done, now it’s time for healing and peace upon the land. In the aftermath, Zechty plans to heal the dead forest with that Spirit King of the Wind. Once there is a first sprout, she will send a message to Kiriya via the wind. I don’t know. She says both their worlds are connected by the same wind. Trihart and Hiruda plan to stay back in End Earth and help heal the land. So only Souma, Kiriya, Kureha and Shiina will be returning home. It is mentioned that by drawing the ultimate Soul Blade, they are able to return to Elde. Well, Houme has lived 3000 years and must have at least seen it once. But perhaps too long she can’t remember how. She needs some time to jog her memory…

It seems Souma will be inserting the Soul Blade into a pond that will function as the gate using the Holy Grail power. Before they leave, Souma notices their school’s emblem resembles closely to Pilius and wonders if the previous Soul Blader was from their school. Houme brushes it off as a coincidence. Clarakran and Caris give the girls tons of treasures and jewellery as reward! If they take it all, I think they’re set for life. Instant multi-billionaires! So it’s a good thing they’re humble and just take a piece for memento’s sake. The sending off begins as the End Earth friends see them off. Everything seems to be going well till Souma realizes Mao suddenly crying uncontrollably! Well, you can tell something is wrong with her ever since the battle ended. I guess she was trying to hold back whatever feelings and now with Souma going away forever, she just can’t hold back the tears, can’t she? This made Souma to rush out and to her side. Gosh. Looks like he is going to be staying here too because as part of Weiss Ritter, he has this task of saving the world from crisis. What crisis?! I just thought he would say he loves her and couldn’t be without her. Sheesh… So Kiriya, Kureha and Shiina respect his wish and cheer him to do his best. They will do the same back in their own world. Soon, Hyoun takes over Rouen as the king of Seiran and Caris is installed as the new king of Pilius. Back at Luminous Academy, Kiriya heard Zechty’s voice that the first sprout has grown. Wondering if Souma will be fine, they know he’s working hard. Yeah, he and Weiss Ritter are caught surrounded by demons. What a fine mess they’re in. Is this the crisis he meant? Where the heck did they come from? Maybe there are still Chaos Gates all over the place. Just like before, Souma continues to pull out Soul Blades in the name of protecting End Earth.

Painful Tears X Whine
Oh God. I regret to say that almost everything was lame. Thank God that it was all over in over a dozen episodes. Firstly, the action sucks. Need another word? Lame. After seeing how the action is pulled off in the first episode (the ridiculous action with the random beastman), I started thinking that maybe this series is going to suck. It was just lame. They try to put in some action seeing you can’t have an RPG based anime without action but it fails. At points it felt comical like that fight scene whereby Souma fought Engu and hit below the belt. The last straw came (also because it was the last fight scene) was the very short battle with Elfaren at the beginning of the final episode. I think it hardly lasts 3 minutes. It was so lame, comical and unconvincing that it felt the bad guy was there just because he was a bad guy and the need to have a hero to slay him and save the day. When the trio were going to nail that butterfly dude with their final ultimate move, Elfaren just stood there waiting to take the blow. He even showed no major reaction! It was as though the heroes were fighting a statue because you don’t see the kind of struggle and pain that such creatures would put up when being hit by the goodness of light or whatsoever. Then the funny part was his final scream. I thought he sounded like a monkey when he is about to disintegrate into thin air. I was already laughing at this point before I realized, everything is over and just how lame the boss fight was. Good riddance.

It tried to give us some romance but I guess it sucked. Lame. Whatever happened to Souma’s crush for Kureha? I said it was conveniently forgotten along the way. No doubt Kiriya is still dense about Kureha’s crush on him but as the series progresses, we don’t really see Kureha’s affection for Kiriya. I know love comes second when the world is in danger but we would’ve expected that Kureha would show us some body language that what Souma said that she liked Kiriya was true. We didn’t. So was just Souma shooting his mouth off? Then the way they made Kiriya infatuated about Zechty, I thought it was just unconvincing. They spent a few hours in a hole together and he developed feelings for her, it messed with her circuits. Wow. Power of love. Then when she died, he became the incredible sulk. Then when she was resurrected, he became happy warrior. Where were Kureha’s feelings for him during all that? Does she really have a crush in him that she’s able to act like nothing? I suppose they also tried to hint Mao had a thing for Souma and you can tell she was starting to become a tsundere when she starts blushing and sneering at him when he starts to pat her head. It became too obvious. And suddenly Souma who had showed no signs of being in love with her finally rushes to her side (short of confessing those 3 magic words), can’t you believe it? Or does he not want to abandon a girl in weep? What about Elwyn then? She sometimes shed tears too. And for Souma to be the proxy leader of Weiss Ritter where the majority of them are attractive females, it misled us with a potential harem factor. Didn’t even get close.

It tried to give us some plot and storyline but it sucked. Lame. Whatever happened to that evil thing called Zeroboros that will bring chaos to the world? Wasn’t Trihart and Kiriya supposed to fight and the winner becomes the loser by becoming the vessel for this evil? Instead, we got this evil in a name we haven’t heard before. Elfa what? His appearance died as fast as we learnt his name. Oh, what was that plot about Trihart trying to takeover this world to make a better world? What happened to that? I thought he was going to all out his way but after Zechty died and Killrain overwhelmed with hatred, he became somewhat docile. So will Astrea continue to be named Baelgard? And to think that Mao’s hunt for Zero was the start of this destiny crap… And while too busy fighting each other and trying to save the world, I actually forgot that they were doing this in the mean time to find a way back to their own world. Who knew it would be so easy as Houme’s words. If only she had said them from the beginning…

It tried to give us some character development but it sucked. Lame. Too many characters if I should say. I know Souma is the main star of this show but it makes the other characters looking too minor and in a way some of them felt they were just there so we won’t forget them. Take for instance, Zero. I still don’t understand why the hell he wanted to trust the responsibility of saving his world to Souma but from what I can see, he made the right choice. It’s good he did or else. So I don’t remember Zero actually meeting up with Mao and reconciling with her in person. In the final episode, Zero was just like watching from afar. Feeling relieved when everything turned out okay. So? SO?! With Souma continuing to stay at End Earth, does this mean Zero will continue to wander? Rouen, Clarakran, Caris, the Beast Generals and Houme felt like they were just tagging along and to make up the numbers. Remind me what was Houme’s role again? The other Weiss Ritter members also had their fair share of screen time to strut their stuff but if you’re expecting them to pull off something major for some devastating attack effect, don’t get your hopes up. And do you notice something about the characters’ reaction when the truth is revealed? They become fidgety. See Shumari act when his little lie was exposed when he can actually act cool, shrug it off, make don’t know. Instead, he had to sweat in his pants and could have easily failed the lie detector. See Houme deny Souma’s theory that the previous Soul Blader may be from their school? Why the need for this calm elf to panic? So basically in terms of change in character, I can just say it is Souma and Trihart. Souma isn’t someone who is immature to go picking fights and realizes things in the bigger picture while Trihart no doubt remains putting up a cold facade, he finally accepts the need to accept help from his friends sometimes. Was he trying to play the part of the villain to get things going?

It tried to give us some drama, friendship and from what I hear philosophical words but it sucked. Lame. The drama and friendship part didn’t feel convincing enough to move you. Then in the last episode, it’s like everybody turned philosophical and had something to say. The country, the land, the people, the power. Something to say about this, something to say about that. I guess with the action over, now they turn to words, eh? They try to work up some emotion within us when they dedicated half the final episode in saying goodbye. I guess it was too long that it made me want to shout and tell them to go back already. Ironically it also tried to give us a few comical moments but it sucked. Yeah, lame. Trying to be funny but it wasn’t. For instance when Souma was annoyed with the Spirit King of the Wind (for flying around like an over-sized fly), Souma’s vexed behaviour looked more cartoonish and thus comical in the lame sense. When Kouryuu tumbled down the stairs during his nearly bout with Kiriya, doesn’t that feel lame too?

Because I saw Guilty Crown not too long ago, it made me think of how similar the concept of pulling out a weapon from one’s heart this series is. Did Guilty Crown take after this series? Even if this series was way earlier, I couldn’t say I was impressed with the designs of the different swords that the Soul Bladers draw out. I mean, they try to give a different design and feel that is unique to each person that the Soul Blade is drawn out but they just seemed plain. Maybe I’ll give them some points in their grand names but that is just about it. Another thing about drawing the Soul Blades that bugs me. Each time you the Soul Blader starts to pull them out, the face of the person whose Soul Blade is being pulled out feels a little erotic. I don’t know. Is it that stimulating when you get your Soul Blade pulled out? It’s like the face of having sex. Oops. True. Even for the guys. At first I thought even with this creepy face it was okay but as the series go on and more and more Soul Blades are drawn when needed, I thought the animation felt cheap. Felt like they didn’t want to waste precious seconds in showing those faces anymore and quickly get over it seeing this is a mandatory scene.

There were some things that I just couldn’t comprehend. For instance in Hilda/Hiruda’s case, if breaking her Soul Blade means destroying her bad half, how in the world did it repair itself? I mean, you do know it was broken once that is how Souma realized it was the key to free Hiruda from her badass self. So assuming it can heal and repair itself again, then don’t you think by the second time it breaks, there should be a third time? It’s like when they destroyed Mystletain for the second time, they were pretty sure that they have seen the last of Hilda. By the way, how in the world did Hiruda get her split personality? If her friends don’t know about it, it means that she only got it when she arrived at End Earth, right? So with Kiriya, Kureha and Shiina only back to their own world, don’t you think that other people will start to get suspicious about the disappearance of Souma, Trihart/Saionji and Hiruda? I mean as seen earlier on, Saionji is the heir to his family business. Must be an important son that he has SPs looking for him. So he is willing to cast his family business aside and go saving the forests in End Earth? I didn’t know he was such an environmentalist. On second thought, maybe this life is much better. Back to nature instead of the rat race and money chase in his own world, eh?

Despite the mediocrity in all the other departments, the only thing that ‘amazed’ me is that this series boast some popular seiyuus. For instance Nana Mizuki pulling off her cutie voice as Shiina. Something like you would expect to hear her like Ricotta in Dog Days and Kotoko in Itazura Na Kiss. Then we have Yui Horie featuring as Kureha (Naru in Love Hina, Hanekawa in Bakemonogatari). Some of the casts did dual roles like Souichiro Hoshi as Souma and Zero (Kaoru in Ai Yori Aoshi, Son Goku in Saiyuki series), Chiwa Saito as Mao and Houme (Rebecca in Pani Poni Dash, Natsumi in Keroro Gunsou) and Ayako Kawasumi as Blancneige and Clarakran (Saber in Fate/Stay Night, Nodame in Nodame Cantabile). I suppose with their ability to pull off different voices, unless you’re really familiar with their voices or strained your ears closely, you won’t hear the difference and think they are voiced by different people. Of course I easily recognized Ayako Kawasumi’s instantly since I’ve watched a bunch of her anime roles. But I won’t consider Ryotaro Okiayu (Byakuya in Bleach, Tezuka in Prince Of Tennis) as voicing a dual role because it’s just a change of name from Saionji and Trihart. Same case with Kumi Sakuma as Hiruda/Hilda (Candice in MAR) although this one is more of a split personality. Yeah, they’re still the same person. The other casts consist of Akira Ishida as Kiriya (Chrono in Chrno Crusade), Houko Kuwashima as Zechty (Sango in Inu Yasha), Ryou Hirohashi as Elwyn (Kyou in Clannad), Misato Fukuen as Ryuuna (Yami in To Love-Ru), Yoshinori Sonobe as Lazarus (Okada in Shakugan No Shana), Daisuke Matsuoka as Rouen (Martin in Sora No Woto), Takashi Kondo as Killrain (Train in Black Cat), Atsushi Ono as Jin-Crow (Giriko in Bleach),  Hiroki Yasumoto as Hyoun (Germany in Hetalia Axis Power) and Tetsuhara Oota as Shumari (Yamazaki in Gintama). Both opening and ending themes are sung by Souichiro Hoshi (sounding closer to his Zero’s voice) but they don’t sound anything special. The opening piece is the same name as this series’ name and sounds like your typical song for RPG genre animes while the ending song is Hikari No Silhouette is more of a slow-moderate piece. For the record, both songs are from the game itself and sung by the same person. Recycled material?

Oh dear. A big majority of my blog seems to be putting this series down big time. There may be lots of other things that bothered me but perhaps too insignificant for me to remember and put it down. Just to be fair, even though I didn’t pretty much like this show but at least the lameness of everything kept me entertained. I don’t know how many times I have rolled my eyes and sighed. After all, I already set my hopes at a low level after watching the mediocre first episode. It would have been easy to decide and drop it but that wouldn’t be fair since that will be judging the entire series by just its first and single episode. And now that I have completed it, let me just say that if you want to watch such RPG themed animes, there are much better ones out there. Watch this only if you are a hardcore fan of the game or a kiasu anime otaku who wants to watch every anime there is in this world. Or maybe you can just try out of curiosity. Be warned that it isn’t anything new because it’s the usual high school kids get transported to a different world and fights the evil with their allies for the sake of world peace. How unique is that? So unless they come up with a better story, characters, plot, story, action, romance, comedy, drama and just about everything else, then no, I don’t want to come back and stick around to hear more of the stories again. Ever!

Acchi Kocchi

December 8, 2012

Why is that we love to watch and sometimes get involved in helping other people succeed in their love affair? Because it is more fun compared to your own! Acchi Kocchi is somewhat like that. We have a boy and a girl who are somewhat in a subtle relationship. The boy is dense of the girl’s feelings while the girl is a typical tsundere. One doesn’t know, the other just won’t admit. More than friends, less than lovers. We’ve seen this in countless of romance genres. You can tell at this rate unless a miracle happens, a lot of poking and meddling is needed before they can become an official couple. That’s why they have friends who love watching the way they act and maybe do a little extra to help them realize and get them together. Sometimes it is amusing. Sometimes it is just frustrating. Sometimes it is fun. Sometimes it is just annoying. But love is no easy matter and should be treaded carefully. Don’t take this too seriously because this is a light hearted comedy series so expect some wacky (verbal) antics.

At first I thought when they made this series, they mashed together Lucky Star and A Channel to come up with cute characters and the antics among the group of friends as nothing more as the storyline. Especially the main heroine Tsumiki who reminds me of Lucky Star’s Konata and A Channel’s Tooru. So if you are not into such animes, you might want to look elsewhere because the gags between the friends are going to be the main staple diet of comedy and jokes. Though an episode is divided into 2 parts, most of the scenes in each part feel like a skit. Some even just lasting for a few seconds. Of course in the bigger picture they are related to each other or at least to the theme of that segment.

Episode 1
* Tsumiki Minawa tries practising to say “Good morning” to the guy she likes, Io Otonashi. Too late. He’s already here on his bicycle. Along the way, they meet their friends, Mayoi Katase and Hime Haruno who tease Tsumiki trying to get close to Io (they were ‘stalking’ on them). Mayoi got her head stuck in the wall after that, if you’re interested.
* At the school gates, they see their teacher, Kikue Sakuragawa slips and falls over a banana peel. Embarrassing. They think the only other person who can match her is Hime. She embarrassingly denies and goes to help Kikue but slips and falls over a frozen puddle. Wow. Two slips in a day. Their other friend, Sakaki Inui helps Kikue up and later tells Io that white undies Kikue was wearing. I guess this proves he’s a normal healthy guy but Io doesn’t want him to categorize him the same as him.
* In class, the heater is spoilt and they could guess when Kikue slipped, she kicked and damaged it. Mayoi offers to fix it and will get it working to 500 degrees Celsius! Like hell! Kikue has bought souvenirs for her students from her hotspring trip but Mayoi brings up the dreaded question if she went with her boyfriend. She went alone. Now she’s crying all over! They try to fix the situation but made it worst with words like ‘grave’ and ‘dirty pub’. Now she’s crying even louder! Mayoi is surprised at Io’s fast pen spinning and her commotion has Kikue throw her chalk at Io as she thinks he is the one causing the ruckus. But the chalk curves and hits Mayoi.
* When the friends are talking about animals and pets, Tsumiki murmurs how she wants to be Io’s pet! Then she acts like a cat harmlessly biting all over Io.
* Sakaki says the PA system is not working so Mayoi goes to fix it. While she is testing the microphone, she tells everyone to look to their right. What’s there? A wall. Not funny! The next time she tests it out again, she didn’t say anything and ends the testing, much to everyone‘s chagrin.
* During lunch, Io and Sakaki relate how they were caught and scolded by Kikue. It seems they were rushing to the cafeteria to buy bread and they needed to take a shortcut. Kikue warned them not to run in the hall but to her surprise, they jumped off the window of the second floor! Oh sh*t! She’s screaming her head off! Though they got reprimanded, they managed to buy the bread before it ran out.
* After school, the guys are surprised that the girls want to follow them to the video game arcade. Sakaki and Io play a fighting game (Fighting Idiot?) to settle an old score. Sakaki gets pulverized and has no chance to counter attack. Then he realizes Io wasn’t behind the controls. It was Tsumiki! Oh sh*t! Hime tries her hand at the crane machine but doesn’t know how to play. Io asks Tsumiki if she wants a plushie he can get for her but she doesn’t want. Eventually he gets one and this made her happy. Their friends realize how tsundere Tsumiki is.
* They play air hockey so it is Io-Tsumiki against Sakaki-Mayoi. Hime as the referee couldn’t keep up with the high pace of the game. So fast that she can’t even see where the disc is going! In the end, nobody scores and it’s a draw. Asking if Hime wants to try it out, she instantly gets traumatized because she can’t possibly play with them at such high speed.
* On the way back, Io suggests to Tsumiki they take a photo together. Because Tsumiki is short, Io carries her before the photo is snapped. Their friends saw everything and tease them how they’re being lovey-dovey with each other. Io is just cool but Tsumiki is over the top embarrassed.

Episode 2
* The friends head over to the cake store Hatch Potch run by Sakaki’s sister, Miiko for cake testing. Since they’re wet from the rain, Miiko has them change into waiter and maid outfits while their clothes dry. Of course Tsumiki looks super cute so the friends tease her about Tsumiki wanting to glomp and chomp Io. She tries to hold her rage in claiming she needs to act professional. Mayoi felt disappointed with that response so the rest think she’s a masochist… Mayochist…
* Sakaki demonstrates his welcome smile. Creepy and evil. Now it’s Miiko’s turn. So bright and wonderful! The friends discuss that this place charges for a smile but Io says that he’s already been ‘paid’ with their company. His politeness and waiter-like personality excites Mayoi. But for Tsumiki and Hime, I think they’ll stain the cloth with their nose bleed if he doesn’t stop.
* Noting Io looks like a bartender, they start asking for cocktail drinks which happen to be names of fighting moves.
* Everyone is satisfied with all the great cakes. Mayoi dreams she wants a house made of sweets and chocolates so when Sakaki says he prefers his to be meat, the rest imagine it to be raw or greasy. Doesn’t it look like a horror house? Miiko asks their opinion on today’s cakes and since the topic of which is the sweetest came out, Mayoi cheekily says Io was the sweetest! Nose bleed cue for Tsumiki and Mayoi! She meant the cake lah!
* Valentine’s Day is here soon so Mayoi rallies the girls to think of how they’re going to give their chocolates. Especially you-know-who. Tsumiki wrapped only in ribbons? She even suggests using a love potion! I bet that is fake.
* On their way to go buy chocolate ingredients, they learn from Tsumiki that Io prefers chocolate flavoured sweets and not plain chocolate. Mayoi suggests for the surprise element to put in frog meat! Won’t that be a nasty prank than a surprise?
* Tsumiki bakes her cake that night and waits the next morning to give it to Io. When he finally comes, she got so nervous that she slams the present into him! Body blow! The girls ask his opinion on receiving the chocolate from Tsumiki. “In one fell swoop, she took my body’s endurance to its limit”. I think they’re asking about the chocolate, not the body blow.
* In class, Sakaki shows them a whole chocolate cake from Miiko and they are impressed. He even teases Tsumiki and Io that Miiko is making a huge wedding cake for them. He’s joking, right? The next one isn’t. Mayoi gives the guys her chocolate and reveals she really put in frog’s meat! Oh sh*t! Sakaki becomes so pissed that he reveals on White Day he’ll be putting in pig’s feet in her marshmallow. Isn’t that revealing his plan? Hime also has chocolates for everybody so Mayoi teases her that she’d really fall in love with her despite being a girl. Don’t worry, Hime. She’s just joking. Hime tries to explain (long-winded) that her chocolate is in between obligation and meaningful/romantic but panics. I’m not sure if there is such a word called meaningality.
* Mayoi once again wants to help Tsumiki to get closer to Io. I guess she can’t say no. She’ll put chocolate lipstick over her lips to make it irresistible for Io. So the friends set them up as Io puts his fingers on Tsumiki’s lips and says how soft and sweet it looks. This sends Tsumiki into another flustering explosion and collapses into his arms.

Episode 3
* It’s a cold snowy day so how did Mayoi and Sakaki persuade Tsumiki to come play in the snow with them? Capture Io and threaten something funny will happen to him! That was easy. So as Mayoi and Sakaki rush out, they slip on the slippery snow. Tsumiki kicks a wooden board towards them and they land on their head. I think that’s even more painful. Hime suggests Tsumiki to warm up a bit so Io starts blowing on top of her head. Can she die this way?
* Mayoi is making an igloo but it collapses. She pleads Io to pull her out. But when he does, her shorts underneath becomes visible so he pushes her back into the snow.
* Tsumiki has created a giant snowball (I think Mayoi got rolled over. See the mark there?). How exactly is she going to put the other big ball on top of this one? Surprisingly, she has the strength to throw it but it lands imperfectly, and breaks all over Sakaki. Well, nobody’s perfect.
* Mayoi suggests a snowball fight and since Io and Tsumiki are in one team, Io puts Hime into his team because Sakaki and Mayoi’s team is Team Chaos! Mayoi and Sakaki have this snowball bazooka and high-tech snow refiller! Isn’t that cheating? Well, they didn’t break the rules of altering their snowball. The duo go on the offensive as the trio hide. Tsumiki isn’t going to hide forever so she gets out of her hiding and starts blocking Mayoi’s attack. Meanwhile Io faces off with Sakaki. With chopsticks in his fists, Io easily blocks away Sakaki’s snowball attack. Hime decides to help out and enter the fray. But she trips and the snowballs land on their head. What a way to go out. So all that is left is Tsumiki and Mayoi. Tsumiki takes refuge behind her giant snowball. Then she powers up her palm and blasts through the snowball! OMG! Does she have some super power?! Mayoi is covered with snow and Tsumiki ends the game by throwing a snowball at her. Everyone ‘abandons’ Mayoi in the snow to go get something warm.
* Io is grouped with Kyouya Saibara, Saki Sakimori and Kana Miyama in the cooking class while Tsumiki has Hime and Mayoi. So the girls discuss their cooking skills and for some obvious body language reason, you can tell Mayoi and Kana suck in cooking. We see Mayoi can’t even break an egg properly (she uses too much strength) while Tsumiki just easily breaks them without sweat and with a tap of her finger! Kana messes with onions and stings Mayoi’s eyes.
* Saki teases Kyouya about him being happy to receive cooking from a girl but she herself wouldn’t if she receives it from him. Io is going to do flambé whereby he uses wine to give more fragrance to offset the meaty smell over the fire. Saki hints Kyouya somewhat smells too. Set him on fire! Is this the kind of moe he wants?! The group is finishing their cooking so Hime’s stomach makes a cute growl as opposed to Mayoi’s explosive one. Sounds like a prehistoric dinosaur…
* Io puts the finishing touches on his beef stew omelette rice. The girls are so impressed so much so they ask him to marry them! Mayoi shows hers but it looks repulsive. Is that thing alive?!
* They sample each other’s dishes so of course Tsumiki gives hers to Io to try. She is nervously trying to ask if she would make a good bride with this cooking but Mayoi had to interrupt and cross the line with her stupid joke. I suppose she got what she deserved when her head got stuck in the wall again. Io’s reply to Tsumiki is that she’ll make the man she marries very happy with her cooking. Nose bleed cue. And Hime too. When the girls start feeding each other, Io also wants to feed Tsumiki. But he teases her by pulling away the spoon each time Tsumiki tries to eat. Annoyed, Tsumiki bites his head! I guess you could say Io is being eaten alive!

Episode 4
* Because the teachers have meeting, all afternoon activities have been cancelled. This means Mayoi wants to play kick-the-can game. I guess Tsumiki and Io can’t say no, can’t they? They’ll be divided into teams and the winning team gets food vouchers for the cafeteria while the losers must do what the winners say. With Sakaki and Mayoi giving off that evil looks, I think this is going to be scary.
* Team Oni will consist of Mayoi, Kyouya, Saki and Tsumiki while Team Escape will have Sakaki, Io, Hime and Kana. Team Oni must capture everyone within 30 minutes or protect the can till the end to win. If Team Escape as one person not captured or they manage to kick the can, victory is theirs. With the team evenly balanced up, perhaps the rivalry may heat up even more with Sakaki and Mayoi on opposing sides.
* So the chase is on and Hime thinks she won’t keep up with the game because, see how competitive everyone is so much so they’re running on the walls! Oh sh*t! Tsumiki plans to capture Io but in her imagination, it looks more like a hug. Jumping into his arms? But reality is so different. Io evades her and she crashes. She thinks he rejected her! Hime and Kana are running away from Kyouya and Saki when Hime suddenly crashes into a wall! OMG! That trap drawing of the hallway looked so real! She’s as good as captured.
* While Kana is made to distract the rest, Sakaki and Io come up with their final battle plan. They run up to Mayoi and confuse her with a sheet of curtain so she can’t tell where or who is coming at her. They pull the curtain over her. Sakaki is about the kick the can and end the game but Tsumiki as the backup appears. Sakaki is confident it is game over and though it is, too bad Io had to kick the can right into his head. Ouch. So with the gang reuniting and the guys explain their diversion tactic, Mayoi says it’s not over yet because it’s time for round two! Go play yourself!
* Io and Sakaki are guests on the school’s broadcast lunch show hosted by Ami Kirino (she claims her disgusting partner is out sick so they’re in to fill in). Ami has the guys give their advice on love problems. The first message is from one wondering how to make a guy fall for her. Sakaki starts off rather cliché. Ask him to go to the rooftop and as he gazes at the setting sun… Push him off the roof! OMG! That way, he’ll fall for you! Geddit?! Sick joke! He rearranges the way he says it but it sounded more like a threat.
* Next problem: A friend of hers has feelings for a boy but won’t admit it. Sakaki immediately identifies her as tsundere. Why is Tsumiki being stared? Sakaki acts out his tsundere mode which doesn’t make sense. Ami also plays along with some reverse psychology thingy and everything went off topic.
* Final problem: A girl tried to show off her charms but the guy completely ignored her. An oblivious guy? Why is Io being stared at? Io makes a surprising move by declaring “I love you” straight up. So much so Sakaki in his reflex has to retort it. Seriously, Io advises that she should be natural so her charms will be naturally noticed.
* With the end of the radio programme, the guys are frank that they don’t want to be back on this show again. Even Ami quips if she follows Sakaki’s advice, she’ll be hurtling down the bad end route. She gives Io the honour to wrap things up so he signs off with this message, “Tomorrow, you shall be even more beautiful than today”. I think it’s a record nose bleed because every girl in school who heard that just swooned to that.

Episode 5
* The girls talk about their measurements and it seems Mayoi is boasting that despite there is no growth in other areas, her boobs did grow bigger. Hime couldn’t say hers but the rest figured she had grown fatter. Tsumiki’s growth is also similar to Mayoi but the latter purposely won’t guess that part which grew.
* Mayoi tries to tell the guys about Tsumiki’s boobs but Tsumiki silences her. Sakaki could guess what she’s hinting at and asks Io if he fondled Tsumiki’s boobs! Io dismisses that misinterpretation and theorizes that some girls believe the feelings they hold close to their hearts will grow if they’re touched by the person they love. Sounds more logic but the girls are in awe over that statement. Nose bleed cue. Mayoi tries to rat on Hime’s weight but the latter panics and says it out herself. Feels worse, eh? Mayoi reflects on her actions that it’s bad to say bad about others. So instead, she brags about her own boobs! Has she no shame? While the guys note they have grown taller, Tsumiki hopes Io won’t grow any taller. Yeah, we know how hard it’ll be for a shorty to reach and kiss him, right? Mayoi teases Tsumiki for that bold kiss statement, Tsumi-kiss.
* The gang soon decide to play volleyball and the loser will have to buy the popular hard-to-get breads at the cafeteria. With Io firing up, I guess this is serious. Hime who has always brought her own lunch is given an explanation on how ferocious the battlefield could be. Spartan of 300 good enough example? Remembering the high level and traumatic kick-the-can game, Hime decides to sit out. Mayoi suggests Io invite her and when he does, the cuteness level is too much. I guess she really has to sit this one out.
* As they divide the teams, Tsumiki’s soft spoken nature has her being butt out by Mayoi to join Io’s team. So mad she is that her yelling blew Mayoi away. The match begins with the usual antics. Mayoi gets thrown into the net, everyone uses their feet to hit the ball, Saki and Io accidentally use and hit Sakaki with the ball and as Kana swings Mayoi, Io couldn’t help get along with the flow and did a submission move on her. Don’t worry. She’s still alive. But she wants Io to pat her head. And when he does, she became embarrassed. Never thought he would do it, eh?
* Tsumiki wants to hit the ball to Io but he missed and though her shot is in, she felt disappointed because she wanted him to receive it. In the tiebreaker, Mayoi’s growling stomach has her miss so Io’s team loses and has to go buy their ‘love’. Yeah, everybody is hungry for ‘love’. Hime hopes they’ll be careful since the Spartans are also looking for love. Haha…
* The friends are at the grassy field with their sports equipments. But since they forgot the baseball gloves, Sakaki thinks they should just use their soul to catch it. Io throws a hard one and I believe Sakaki’s soul (his hand rather) must be hurting like hell.
* As the guys throw Frisbee, Hime once more couldn’t keep up with the high level play. Can’t see a thing! Tsumiki throws a Frisbee at Mayoi and in the blink of an eye, the powerful throw knocks her away! I think it nearly decapitated her. Now it’s Hime’s turn and Mayoi shows no mercy in throwing full force. However it curves and hits Sakaki. Followed by another Frisbee thrown by Io. I don’t even know how that happened.
* While resting, a litter of cats gather around Io. Mayoi teases Tsumiki that she wants to be around Io like that too but she disagrees. True enough, Tsumiki can’t resist joining in. She acts like a cat before she realizes the embarrassing thing she’s doing. Mayoi pets one too hard that the cat got annoyed and gave her an uppercut! WTF?! Meow-ppercut?!
* Wondering if cats will catch Frisbee like dogs, Io tosses one and a black cat fetches it. Sakaki wants to try too but no cats are taking the bait. Mayoi quips they totally ignored the soul catcher and this Sakaki felt his soul hurting.

Episode 6
* The gang changes into their summer uniform. Tsumiki never thought Io would compliment her dress but to her surprise he did. Even in this hot summer, Mayoi is wearing a lab coat. She says it is different because this one is thinner. Like we can tell. Cheeky Mayoi opens Tsumiki’s top to give Io some summer fanservice. Guess whose head got stuck in the wall again? Surprisingly Io blushed. Not surprisingly, the girls nose bleed.
* The sunny day is perfect to clean the school pool. Kikue is happy her students are giving her items that keep her cool from the sun. Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, parasol and cooling gel sheet. Maybe that last one wasn’t so appropriate.
* Mayoi ties the broom at both ends and gives it to Tsumiki. With her tremendous spinning, it’s like killing 2 birds with 1 stone because while the floor gets quickly cleaned, this also provides fan and cooling effect. But Tsumiki’s fingers slip and the broom knocks Mayoi away.
* Sakaki teases Kyouya he is trying to set his sights on Saki. So Kyouya asks Io what part of a girl he finds it appealing. He says her smile. Kyouya suddenly felt his was dirtier…
* The gang plays hockey with the brush and they decide to call it Sakaki due to some twisted logic and explanation using a football and considering it your best friend. So with Sakaki reduced to the brush, everybody wants to hit Sakaki with the broom. Why does it feel they’re picking on him? And they’re hitting Sakaki the brush with so much fun. Io stands up for Sakaki and he feels grateful. Till Io calls him the brush.
* Hime couldn’t handle the weight of the water in the pail and trips. Io tries to save her but the bucket got splashed over his head. At the same time, Tsumiki trips and knocks her head into his back. This is what Sakaki calls Hime and Tsumiki’s synchronized friendship attack? At the end of the cleaning session, Kikue rewards them with ice cream and watermelon.
* Mayoi suggests doing a group study session at Io’s place. She wants to head there fast so he doesn’t have time to clean up his room. Wasn’t it supposed to be a study session? Tsumiki arrives first and while Io went to get tea, she couldn’t resist the temptation to smell Io’s shirt. Till she realizes Mayoi and Hime are watching. Tsumiki isn’t panicking yet. She notes to erase memories, a heavy impact is required to the brain! Oh sh*t! Thankfully she didn’t get to that part so as Hime promises not to tell Io, Mayoi suddenly starts sniffing the shirt and bugs Hime to do the same. Till Io caught them in the act.
* As the study session begins, Mayoi quickly decides to play video games. After getting whacked by Io, she becomes a good girl but realizes she forgot her textbook. Wasn’t she the one who suggested studying together? Hime couldn’t understand Tsumiki’s explanation so Io does the coaching. Mayoi teases Tsumiki about being jealous but gets pinched in her thighs. Oh, the screaming… At the end, they suggest going on a vacation together so Io thinks the log home he rented the last time might be good.
* Soon the exams come and go. The girls feel confident of acing it because of the study session. However they can’t remember anything except for the shirt smelling.
* Clouds are building up and Hime actually forgot to bring her own umbrella. Mayoi shows her new invention. A big heart shape? You’re supposed to stick it on the tip of the umbrella and it’ll be transformed into a love umbrella. She wants Tsumiki to have it but she refuses. Io is willing to share is umbrella with Tsumiki but she declines. Mayoi translates that as she would love to but declined because it felt embarrassing.
* Just as Mayoi is about to open her spare umbrella, suddenly the umbrella shoots off! OMG! It nearly killed Sakaki! And this isn’t one of her pranks, you know.
* On the way home, Mayoi cheekily advises Io and Tsumiki about pure white shirt turning transparent by the sky’s drops. It’s a warning to be careful about the wolf. She’s directing this towards Io. So the wolf is Tsumiki?! You can never be too sure. On the way home, Tsumiki notices half of Io’s side is wet so she hugs closer to him. He thought he has been caught by the wolf.

Episode 7
* It’s summer vacation and Mayoi is going to properly live it out by having fun first and doing homework last. Upon hearing Io has already completed his, she wants to borrow and copy his work! In the train, deciding who should seat near the window, Mayoi teases it may not be better for Hime since she might get a surprise attack. What surprise attack? Mayoi lifts up Io’s shirt to reveal his back! I think we’ve got a couple of girls down.
* As the train makes a stop, Hime goes down to get some stuff. Since she is taking a while, Tsumiki decides to go look for her. Eventually Hime comes back alone and the train is about to depart. Well, it departs without Tsumiki. Instantly Io opens the window and jumps out just to join Tsumiki so that she won’t be alone waiting for the next train. Kids, don’t try this anyhow! As they wait, Tsumiki thought it was nice of him of not wanting to leave a girl behind. She felt a little embarrassed. As for the other girls, they are surprised Io pulled that stunt. They wonder what if Io was the one who got left behind. Sakaki says he’ll throw out Tsumiki for him. How considerate.
* So once the gang reunites, they head to the log house and play in the nearby stream. Mayoi balances on a log on a stone. She falls off before Io could finish his warning sentence. Then when they’re fishing, Tsumiki accidentally hooks Mayoi’s shirt and throws her into the river. She’s drowning again. Then she reels her in like a fish instead of pulling her out. That’s a big catch she’s got.
* Io is feeling sleepy and is like as though he is going to fall. Tsumiki ponders if he’ll drop into her lap. But I guess her shoulder is good enough. Then he plops down on the mat. While the rest continue to play, Tsumiki sneakily puts his head on her lap. To her embarrassment, the rest are taking pictures of this scene and Tsumiki can’t move for fear she may wake him up. Take lots of good memories, will you?
* During evening as Io cooks the BBQ meat, everyone calls him daddy so when Tsumiki plays along, Io calls her mommy and causes her to fluster greatly. Tsumiki feeds Io so much so Mayoi tells her she should feed herself too. Because Mayoi and Sakaki are hogging the meat, the rest advice they should eat some fish and vegetables too. Then they go on ranting about some food rhythm. But Mayoi teases Tsumiki’s rhythmic order to consist of kiss and Io. The girls are full so Mayoi feels Hime’s stomach and felt something moving! The guys thought somebody flew out of the house. That’s too much even if it was a joke.
* After the girls finish their bath, Mayoi wants Tsumiki to pull her obi so she could spin. But Tsumiki’s enormous strength means Mayoi is thrown and slammed into the wall. Ouch. Because Tsumiki’s hair is hard to dry, Mayoi suggests Io to help dry it but she refuses. If that’s the case, then maybe Io can help Hime do hers. Tsumiki takes back what she said and decides to let Io dry her hair. I’m sure the rest enjoy seeing Tsumiki’s happy face.
* Next, they play fireworks. Io launches a parachute firework. Mayoi and Sakaki race to get it but trip on a log. Eventually Hime gets it. Slow and steady wins the race. Next, Io launches several bottle fireworks but it all flew towards Sakaki! Having another take, yet again it all flew in his direction. This guy attracts bad stuffs? The girls light the big rocket to the sky but the base gave way and the rocket is heading towards them. Guess what? It swerved away and hit Sakaki. I think he can fly to the moon. Sakaki suggests playing sparklers and the one who holds out the longest gets bragging rights. Instantly when it starts, Sakaki’s sparkler went out. So disappointed…
* Tsumiki wants to play sparklers with Io but Mayoi plays psychology with her if her sparkler burns out first, the love is just mutual. Hell, it did. But the sky is soon lit with other bright fireworks. While they admire the magnificent display, Io quips that the short glimpse of their smiles is more dazzling than any fireworks display as it found a place deep in his heart. Well, let’s just say the nose bleeds add additional ‘sparkle’ to the blooming flowers.

Episode 8
* The girls are studying at Tsumiki’s place but her air-cond broke down. Hot like hell. Suggestions to put tubs of ice cube fell through because Tsumiki doesn’t have that many tubs. Thus Mayoi suggests heading over to Io’s place. Along the way, Mayoi continues to be the big complainer of the heat. So in order to cool her down, Tsumiki tells her to die. It sends shivers down her spine, right?
* Sakaki is doing his homework at Io’s place and I don’t know how Io can actually play his video game half asleep. When Mayoi rings the doorbell, Io thought a scammer is at the door and ignores her. Mayoi then calls his handphone and hearing the same voice, he thought she is the same scammer and hangs up. In the end, Io lets them in after realizing who they are.
* Mayoi dives onto Io’s freshly aired futon and throws his pillow at Tsumiki. Well, she’s really enjoying it. Because everyone wants to go to tonight’s festival, Sakaki and Mayoi must finish their dreaded homework first before joining everyone. So while the duo work on their homework, the rest play video games. It proves to be a distraction because it ends up enraging them. They can’t resist the temptation of playing.
* Once they’re done with their homework, now they get ready to play but Io has fallen asleep. Mayoi and Sakaki think up of a prank to draw something on his face. Perhaps a kiss mark around his lips. Mayoi tosses Tsumiki her lipstick to do the honours but she misinterpreted and put the lipstick on herself preparing to kiss him! When she learns she’s not supposed to do that, she becomes embarrassed and hides in Io’s futon.
* The friends meet up at the festival and Sakaki nearly made an early kill when he reveals Io’s bare chest as fanservice for the girls. Getting takoyaki, Tsumiki thought Io is fooling with her again when he pulls the treat when he’s about to feed her. Actually it’s piping hot.
* Trying out the katanuki (candy cut-outs), Hime chooses an easy pattern but everything breaks when she makes her first step. Io uses the force of his finger and in a single tap, his candy cut-out shape turns into a rocker girl! Isn’t that K-ON!’s Yui? Sakaki tries to imitate his actions but his candy breaks at first go.
* Sakaki challenges Io to save the goldfish. Sakaki uses his charming technique and style to save a couple. However all the other goldfish start jumping into Io’s cup! He didn’t even do anything! To add salt to injury, Sakaki’s goldfish jump into his cup!
* At the shooting gallery, noticing the different guns available to shoot down the prizes, Mayoi dreams of using the bazooka! I think the stall will be destroyed. Hime tries her hand but gets terrified but unwanted advice, believing the shot she made will tear a hole in the toy. Well, the first shot missed and hit Sakaki (I don’t even know how that happened). The next shot hit the toy and she is glad no hole is made. Aren’t you supposed to knock it down? Eventually the toy is wobbling and drops. Hime wins it but develops new fear that the toy ‘dropped’.
* While the guys are trying out, Tsumiki gets this idea of wanting to make Io hers and shoots him! He’s not the prize! They are targeting a big chick toy and taking turns shooting it down isn’t helping. Io and Sakaki cooperate and fire at the same time to bring the huge toy down. Io gives it to Tsumiki saying that he didn’t really want the toy but wanted the sight of her being happy. I guess those words shot right through and pierced her heart. Yup, nose bleed. She’s dead. And Hime got caught in the ‘cross-fire’ too.

Episode 9
* For the cultural festival, Io and his friends will be doing a crepe stall. Io has some experience making crepes thanks to Miiko. Because Tsumiki’s body language indicates she wants to have a taste of it, Io promises to let her have the first bite. Tsumiki is happy but fumbles her words and instead of saying swallowing a thousand needles (hari sen bon) she said needle samba (hari samba). They go off topic discussing what needle samba is. Scary and perverted?
* Mayoi has the guys try out outfits they’ll be wearing for the crepe stall. Don’t they look like host guys? And with Io without his glasses, I think the girls are going to pass out over his total coolness.
* While they’re constructing their store, Sakaki learns the high tech and energy saving technology that Io and Mayoi are putting in. Radar? Eco friendly electricity? Ion batteries? Mayoi later shows them a Mayoi Flag hat and demonstrates it. But the flag breaks and guess where it falls onto? Sakaki. While that poor guy is lying in his pool of blood, the rest discuss how to stop his bleeding? Stop his heart? Apply pressure to his neck? Are they sure they’re not killing him? Sakaki is so pissed off that he just tells them to send him to the infirmary. Hey. He’s fine, no?
* Io finishes sewing his costume for Tsumiki but she refuses to wear it. With a little exaggeration (okay, lots of it), Tsumiki gives in after hearing how much effort Io put in. He stayed up all night and has blisters all over his fingers (all lies!). Turns out to be a cat outfit but because it looks so awkward, it actually fits her. Tsumiki trips on a can and falls over Io. Hime thought a big cat attacked Io.
* Tsumiki watches Io’s sleeping face and you can tell what kind of thoughts are going through her mind. Of course their friends are spying. Tsumiki wakes him up to get ready and because he is still half asleep, he grabs her hair. She sprayed her nose bleed on him. What a way to wash his face.
* Mayoi and Hime are dressed as housewives in apron. This idea was thought up by Sakaki because their crepe theme is newlyweds. But Tsumiki is not happy since she is the only one left out and bites Io! Why him? I guess putting on an apron won’t cut it too. While everyone else thinks the outfit looks good on Hime and Tsumiki, they are surprised to see Mayoi without her lab coat and panic! Is it so bad that they need to call the class rep?! Later Io makes crepes for Tsumiki and Mayoi and you can tell by the look of their face they are greatly satisfied.
* With the festival opening, the crepe store is experiencing brisk business. Io’s neighbourhood friends pay his stall a visit and cheekily ask they want a smile too. He asks back do they want a bag to go with that. Take away also can? Nose bleeding frenzy!
* There is a long queue for the crepe stall and the strawberry is going to run out so Mayoi asks Hime to put the ‘sold out’ sticker. However she is taking too long and the guys didn’t see her come their way. Then they realize she went right to the back of the queue to wait her turn! Too conscientious!
* At the end of the day, Hime and Mayoi went around the festival and got too many balloons. So much so when they tie it to Tsumiki’s outfit, she starts floating away!

Episode 10
* One cold morning on his way to school, Io sees Mayoi in a bear outfit! WTF?! She wants to scare people? Well, it’s not working. Io wasn’t scared. Then they see Io (presumably waiting for Io) and Mayoi plans to scare her. ROAR! Tsumiki: Huh? WTF. Didn’t work. Mayoi guesses that Tsumiki may be purposely waiting at certainly places to go to school with Io instead of just coincidentally bumping into each other all the time. Of course Tsumiki denies.
* Mayoi thinks of scaring Hime to make up for her disappointing run. True enough, Hime gets freaked out while Mayoi chases her with her heart out. Doesn’t she find it weird a bear sprinting on 2 legs chasing after her? Man, Hime is worn out and Mayoi is very satisfied.
* Next, she wants to make Sakaki her next victim but has second thoughts about a direct approach. Tsumiki suggests a ridiculous speeding sled-riding tactic and Mayoi is interested enough to try it out. Mayoi speeds along but it hits a can and throws her off the sled and a super head butt into Sakaki. I don’t think he knew what hit him.
* Mayoi and Sakaki see Kikue and plan to scare her but if she sees Sakaki, she’ll probably know it’s them. So how? Don’t worry, Sakaki has brought a disguise. A paper bag with a hole over his head. That is his disguise? So the duo creep up on Kikue, put her on the sled and pull it all the way to school. Dash! You’re in for the horror ride of your life!
* Io tells Tsumiki that starting tomorrow they should meet and head to school together but Tsumiki tries to dispel that she wasn’t trying to bump into him. Really?
* Mayoi is disheartened to learn that Io and Hime are busy on Christmas Eve. This sends the wrong signal to Tsumiki. Of course they’ll be busy helping out Miiko on that day. Mayoi continues to sulk because she thought she wanted to have a Christmas party with them. So much so she took her sulking into the closet. If that’s not enough, she starts provoking that Io and Hime will be alone on that day. Yeah, Tsumiki also starts sulking with her in the closet! Io invites them to work together since Miiko did say she needed more helping hands. They’re in.
* Miiko wants Io, Tsumiki and Mayoi to sell Christmas cakes outside. In a Santa outfit. I guess Io can’t refuse when Miiko smiles like that. They try on the Santa outfit but it’s just too big for Tsumiki. That’s the smallest size they have. Io gives them pocket heater to help with the cold outside so they discuss about getting heatstroke and tease Tsumiki will get one if she gets kissed by Io.
* As they start selling the cakes, Tsumiki starts fantasizing about Io that she gets a nosebleed. The rest thought she overworked herself. Kana and Saki patron them and Mayoi exaggerates the cake they buy will give them nose bleed. What exactly did they put in? Io: Love. I think that is already nose bleed enough. Mayoi gives them extra service that if they buy a cake, Io will pat their head. Hey. Tsumiki is also buying one.
* The cakes are sold out at the end of the day and noticing that most customers are females, Sakaki makes an uncalled comment that the cakes are the girls’ boyfriend for Christmas. Don’t ever let girls hear him say that! To shield Hime from that, Mayoi tells a horror story of Santa. Santa Claws… Ouch! Kids, don’t ever claw Santa’s face. Miiko has some cake for them to enjoy for their hard work. Again Sakaki makes an uncalled comment to ignore the calories and enjoy. Sakaki, the enemy of women!
* When they leave, Mayoi whispers to Tsumiki that she doesn’t have to come to their Christmas party tomorrow so that she can have a lovey-dovey Christmas with Io. I guess Tsumiki kicked her into New Year’s Day, huh?
* Tsumiki walks back with Io and notes that she had fun working with everyone. Io lets her know about tomorrow’s Christmas party but to come early to start their own white Christmas.

Episode 11
* The friends are waiting for Io to show up at the shrine for New Year’s Day. Suddenly Sakaki remembers he was so addicted to New Year’s Eve gambling that he forgot to tell Io. Look at the rage on Tsumiki’s face! So they go pick him up at his doorstep but he’s still half asleep and slams the door despite Mayoi’s cheeky statement of getting a kiss on the cheek. So she leaves it to Hime to bring him out and did her words work? Apparently Io went back to get changed so all those embarrassing lines Hime said were useless. Along the way, Io is still in a dazed as Mayoi pushes Tsumiki to him. He uses her head as a pillow?
* At the crowded shrine, the friends make a chain prayer wishing for the wish of their friend to come true. When it reaches Io’s turn, he wishes Sakaki’s wish WON’T come true!
* They talk about love charms and when Sakaki returns from buying a charm arrow, he trips and the arrow got stuck in Mayoi’s hair accessory. The rest made puns out of it.
* They watch the sunrise and decide to take a photo as memento. But the camera is tilting and on the verge of falling off the slanted pole so Mayoi and Sakaki also try to shift with the camera till they fall down.
* Next morning everyone gathers at Sakaki’s house including Kikue. Miiko teases Kikue about wanting to get a boyfriend. Mayoi teases Tsumiki’s resolution about wanting to get Io in her palm so Tsumiki puts her palm into her face. Face palm! Sakaki rants about is love for bare necks. Huh?
* They play karuta and Tsumiki gets enrages when Io and Hime’s hand touched. Thinking of wanting to touch his hand, Tsumiki aims for Io’s hand instead of the card. Oops. She’s not letting it go…
* Tsumiki pounds the mochi so as Mayoi and Sasaki watch how she pounds them flat, they twisted their sentence to say Tsumiki is a flat chest girl! Now she’s going to pound them!
* The gang eat the great food they made and this prompts Sakaki to comment that love is nothing but food to them. So true. Io teases Tsumiki by feeding her mocha and stretching it. Miiko says not to play with food so he quickly eats it. Their friends get excited to see this ‘legendary mochi game’ which will lead to a mochi kiss.
* Half of their classmates are absent due to the influenza. Hime and Tsumiki thought it would get warmer if they just imagined it but looks like it’s not working. Saki wonders what Io will say if Tsumiki catches a cold. He replies he’ll go over to her house and steal her cold. Nose bleed cue. I think they’ll be out not because of the influenza.
* Noticing several mosquitoes buzzing around, suddenly the mosquito ‘explodes’ in mid-air! Almost taking out Mayoi’s head! Thanks to Io’s superb chopstick throwing skills, this is his revenge for making sleepless summer nights. Then another one bites the dust! Wow. But could you not do it so close to Mayoi’s head? Saki feels pitiful for these mosquitoes in a hostile environment and feels like wanting to root for them. However when one lands on her hand, she smacks it dead. So much for co-existing.
* Tsumiki hears Io rejecting Sakaki’s offer. Seems that Io’s parents will be busy and won’t be coming home for a while so Sakaki and Miiko offer him dinner. He felt bad to impose on their kindness and declined. Tsumiki says she understands their feelings and if she was in their shoes she would do the same. Io pats her head before joining Sakaki to buy bread. Tsumiki flusters and is confused with this feeling she has right now. Meanwhile Io too feels weird about what he is feeling now. His face is red and can’t explain it in words. We all know what it is, right?

Episode 12
* The girls bought chocolate to make you-know-what for Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you know whom Tsumiki will give hers to even if she doesn’t say. Mayoi teases her that she doesn’t even need to ask who and Hime panicked it may not be Io!
* Mayoi explains Valentine’s Day is like a battle royale. A fierce fight to receive chocolates. Your attitude determines the kind of chocolate you make. Weak or strong! Mayoi also talks about the different types of chocolate other than obligatory and romantic. Friend-eating chocolate? WTF. And Mayoi has this cheeky intent to add a suspicious ingredient into the mix!
* On Valentine’s Day in class, Tsumiki after beckoning Io realizes she forgot to bring her chocolates! The biggest blooper in her life! Though not understanding what is happening, Io tries to show concern but I guess he wasn’t that concern enough so much so Tsumiki had to tell him off to worry a bit more! Mayoi asks if he would like to receive chocolates from Tsumiki. No comment. What? Does this mean there’s a possibility he doesn’t want to? What he meant was if he said yes, it might look as though he is demanding them.
* Mayoi gives the guys her chocolate but they still remember the frog horror from last year. They are assured there aren’t any since the girls made it together. After all, Mayoi has made the kind of chocolates that melt you heart. Really melts your heart. Oh sh*t! Is she trying to kill them? Soon Saki and Kana also give the guys their handmade chocolate.
* After school, Tsumiki rushes home as fast as she could. It is raining and by the time she retrieves and runs halfway back, it is soaked. She meets Io at the intersection as he offers her his umbrella. Wiping her face and petting her head (maybe he got a little too carried away), Tsumiki doesn’t want to give this soaked chocolates to him. But on the contrary, he would like to have them. Then he softly pinches her face to send her into nose bleeding ecstasy. I don’t think that comes with the chocolate.
* The girls discuss about White Day and the rule how it must be returned three times fold. But they aren’t sure what is it that needs to be returned three fold. Price? Weight? Speed? Mayoi suggests Tsumiki did that chocolate lipstick like last year and turn it into a chocolate kiss. It’s her last chance to get Io’s heart. So what is a threefold chocolate kiss equivalent to? Marriage registration! Mayoi asks if Tsumiki expects anything in return. Her reply is that she doesn’t want anything. You don’t give something hoping for something in return. Mayoi felt bad about her intentions and meaning of chocolates all this while as the girls are enlightened by Tsumiki the angel. It must be true love.
* Meanwhile the guys are discussing about chocolates for White Day. Since Kyouya views chocolates as normal, this doesn’t sit well with Io and Sakaki so they explain about putting in the thought and returning the feelings of the sender. They use Saki as an example but Kyouya doesn’t want to hear it from Io since he is a pretty dense guy himself.
* Since the girls made homemade chocolates, the guys are going to do the same and they borrow Hatch Potch’s kitchen. They discuss the meaning associated to what one gives a girl. Io is pretty smooth in his reply. If it’s marshmallow, it’s returning the feelings back in their purest form. If it’s candy, they are the crystallized feelings in these sweet gemstones. Wow.
* Sakaki has made pig’s feet in marshmallow. This is for last year’s revenge. Remember Mayoi frog meat chocolate? Wow. Sakaki still remembers that? Now he needs someone to test it. No way!
* On White Day in class, the guys give the girls their chocolates. Sakaki made choco marshmallows, Kyouya made white choco cookies and Io made gummi candies. Kyouya thought Saki is going to tease his chocolate for being creepy but she smiles and says she could at least thank him for the gift. Kyouya is putting up a tsundere face that so much so Sakaki feels it’s somewhat creepy. A guy being tsundere? How rare is that? As they discuss about the surprise in receiving gifts, Sakaki shows them the pig’s feet marshmallows he made. Surprise!
* Io walks home with Tsumiki and he tells her he only puts a cute kitty in her candies. Though embarrassed, she thanks him.

Places To Places But Didn’t Go Anywhere…
I thought we were going to have a final episode drama. So do you feel a little cheated when the penultimate episode ended with indications that Io and Tsumiki may actually realize they have feelings for each other? Then when the last episode arrives, it is just like any other episode. Where’s the drama? Oh wait. Did this series have any serious drama to begin with? Io is still the dense guy and Tsumiki the tsundere girl. And their friends just love teasing and watching them. Maybe status quo is sometimes the best? There is a possibility that Io and Tsumiki will change as well as their relationship with their friends won’t stay as it is when they become an official couple. I mean, they would be spending more time with each other instead of together like they always do. Though I don’t think Io and Tsumiki will be that ‘bad hearted’ to ditch their friends once they get hooked and will most likely continue their usual ways, but you can’t dismiss such possibilities. So I’m not sure if Io and Tsumiki really made any progress with their relationship. Because we’ve always seen them like that, so the way they react towards each other is expected to be like that.  If we don’t see any progress in Io and Tsumiki’s romance, I’m sure we won’t get to see any with Kyouya and Saki too. Theirs feel like the opposite. Kyouya the tsundere and Saki the oblivious. But I have this feeling that Saki is just feigning it to pull Kyouya’s leg. About Kikue? Don’t even start it. At this rate of whining each time the ‘boyfriend’ topic gets picked up, she might end up being an old spinster. Oops.

With nothing much changed in the end, you could say the same for the characters too. Everybody is basically the same the way they are as they started. Tsumiki is a cute if not odd girl in her own ways. While her somewhat monotonous way of speaking makes her cute, there are other attributes that sometimes make me wonder if she is human. Take for instance, sometimes she got cat ears popping out from her head. Sometimes she acts like one too. She bites. Reminds me of Index… No doubt she loves cats and I thought this was just and indicator it is her reaction that something interests her or something. But at points others react to it as though they were real. Then there is this superhuman strength feature. I thought it was just the series’ way of putting in exaggeration to show us a joke but it seems that the other characters also possess this kind of ability. Whether it is super strong or super speed, it just feels odd to infuse such characteristics into the characters especially in this genre. I guess Hime is the only one who doesn’t have all this super power thingy. Yeah, she might not keep up with it all if it gets out of hand. Tsumiki may be looking lethargic at times but she too displays other emotions especially when it involves Io. She’ll get lively, panic, annoyed or detest depending on what you say about her and Io. For Io, he is a nice guy and the best thing about him is that sometimes he can naturally come up with cool romantic lines that would probably sweep a girl off her feet anytime. If only I had those suave lines… Sakaki his best friends, I don’t want to put him as the loser because he too has his good points despite being more lively and cheeky. Just that certain things got a way of making its way to him. In other words, he gets hit by stuffs. Complimenting his cheekiness and liveliness is Mayoi whose eyes we will never get to see. Double trouble when this pair is in sync. Despite wearing a lab coat, the way she acts doesn’t really make her smart but amusing especially with her mischievous quips. Hime on the other hand is an innocent but very gullible girl.

Speaking of blood, for a gag anime, there has been lots of nose bleeding reactions especially Hime and Tsumiki contributing most of it. It is somewhat bloody for this kind of genre, don’t you think? Not only the characters in this show, with Tsumiki as the ultimate embodiment of moe (cat ears, tsundere, ahoge), I think this will sent viewers who fetish such moe-ness into extreme nose bleed. So get all those cloth and solutions to clean the blood off your monitor, keyboard and PC unit. The way Hime and Tsumiki churn out their nose bleeding reaction makes me realize that they may be on par with that disgusting Kanako of Maria+Holic. Just that they aren’t yuri or yaoi fanatics but romance buffs. Too wild an imagination they have. It’s amazing they didn’t die from each ‘hot’ delusion or occurrence. Each episode never fails to perform this ‘trademark’ and the amount of blood they gush out I feel could be enough to be donated to a blood bank and save several lives that are in need of blood transfusion. Really. But remember, losing too much blood is not good for your health. If it is not for the nose bleeds, the heating up or ‘mini explosions’ over the head due to feeling embarrassment are some of the little ‘dangers’ in wearing your body down if you do it too often. But then again, Tsumiki and friends like I said may possess abnormal human qualities so they can overheat or explode many times without the danger of breaking their body.

For the drawing and art, the characters do look cute and they go even cuter when they are in their chibi mode. But there is something that I want to mention about Tsumiki’s appearance. There are these light spots over her hair and if you take a closer look, it looks like as though they are water colour-like smear marks. Like somebody spilled them and she forgot to clean them. Her long overflowing hair also reminded me how closely it resembles Himea from Itsuka Tenma No Kurousagi. As for her ahoge, sometimes it gives me a feeling that it’s an alien antenna. Sometimes I have this urge of wanting to pull it… Oops. Better not. She might bite me. As for Hime, I thought there was this uncanny resemblance with Hanamaru Kindergarten’s Koume. Then you have lots of cute things floating and popping up on the screen especially that trademark circling arrows.

Simultaneously with the next episode preview (by the way is just a single line scrolling across the bottom of the stream and seemingly like a monologue of a character), there is this Acchi Kocchi Kindergarten. In this amusing section, we see Io as the kindergarten teacher while Tsumiki, Hime and Mayoi the little children that seek to play and gain his attention. For example, Tsumiki is always hanging on Io’s head (even to a point sleeping on his head during nap time), playing with a yarn ball, playing cops and robbers, in a race trying to reach Io first (Tsumiki beats them all!). Hmmm… Hime really does resemble Hanamaru Kindergarten’s Koume. Except for one episode (the school cultural festival) whereby this segment is just a one-shot antic on how Tsumiki got carried away by the balloons so Io and Sasaki grab on to her as weight and still didn’t work. It finally stops and starting to float down when Mayoi hangs on. What does this tell you? Is Mayoi that heavy?! Absolutely hilarious!

For the voice acting, I guess Rumi Ookubo (Kaho in Freezing, Chinatsu in YuruYuri) did quite a nice job in making Tsumiki have this lethargic and dreamy voice. Sometimes it is as though it makes that girl have a sleepy feel, like not enough sleep. Even when she’s angry or in total embarrassment, she sounds cute. Nobuhiko Okamoto as Io is very gentleman-like something almost similar to his other role as Usui in Kaichou Wa Maid-sama and nothing close to Niizuma in Bakuman and To Aru Majutsu No Index’s Accelerator. Other casts include Hitome Nabatame as Mayoi (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Shintarou Asanuma as Sakaki (Takatoshi in Seitokai Yakuindomo), Kaori Fukuhara as Hime (Tsukasa in Lucky Star, Run in A Channel), Yuuko Minaguchi as Miiko (the titular character in Yawara), Junko Iwao as Kikue (Akane in Mai-HiME), Tsubasa Yonaga as Kyouya (Hanabusa in Yumeiro Patissiere), Natsumi Takamori as Saki (Mei in Another) and Hiromi Konno as Kana (Sae in Amagami SS).

Overall despite the ‘nothing much happens’, this anime had some good laughs and it was enjoyable (in the light hearted sense). So don’t worry if the guy or girl doesn’t realize your feelings yet. Maybe just one day that will happen. One day. Who knows when. In the mean time, feel free to enjoy the great company, the pats on the heads, feeding of great foods, receiving great presents and the some nice words you’d love to hear whether you’re in love or not. That’s not so bad, isn’t it? Fringe benefits? Maybe for me I’ll one day get my own girlfriend (if I ever can ditch this anime otaku life – No way!). But in the mean time, I’ll prefer to watch the romance and drama unfolding of others because it’s more fun and safer that way. If anything goes wrong, I could probably just walk away and change the channel…

Acchi Kocchi

Rio: Rainbow Gate

December 7, 2012

Girls. Gambling. Glamour. Greed. Well, those are the things I conjure when I start to think about the word ‘casino’. But really, can gambling actually bring you happiness? If you are on the winning side, that is. How often does that happen? For every winner there must be hundreds and maybe thousands of losers. How many broken homes have gambling contributed to? So it was rather odd when I watched Rio: Rainbow Gate because it seemed like they painted the world of gambling to be a fun and happy affair. Maybe they just show us the happy winners and their 15 seconds of victory.

I thought this series would be somewhat like Kaiji. Only difference you put in lots of girls in skimpy outfits and fanservice. Okay, I admit. I didn’t really watch that show so I can’t really compare about everything else. As far as this series is concerned, we follow the footsteps of a popular casino dealer, Rio Rollins Tachibana who works on the island casino of Howard Resort owned by the ever-smiling big-teeth cigar-smoking Tom Howard. Rio has this legendary status as the Goddess of Victory because if just merely walks pass you, your bad luck streak will instantly change into good fortune! It’s no wonder everybody wants to flock to her. Wait a minute. Am I hearing this right? I mean, if a dealer brings good luck to the gamblers, how is this good business for the casino? Think about it. If every customer wins, where in the world will the casino get its money to finance its luxurious facilities? Mind boggling indeed. That’s why I said it was rather perplexing of me to find that gambling here is such a fun and happy occasion on a general level. So if Rio uses this ability on her customers, won’t Howard Resort be going broke anytime soon? If not, just how rich is this dude? Does he have financial backing somewhere else? Something ‘underground’? Let’s not get that far and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Of course such animes would be boring if we just see Rio who do not turn down customers’ requests no matter how absurd or silly they are because she lives by the principle that she will fulfil each and every of their needs. Just because they’re the customer. Yeah, customer is king. As gambling is such a big business, soon Rio will find herself embroiled in Gate Battles to collect all 13 legendary cards known as Gates. Whoever collects them all will be labelled the Most Valuable Casino Dealer (MVCD) (that means the best dealer in the world) and probably see a ‘rainbow’ when all the Gates gather. Want to guess what that ‘rainbow’ is? Nah. I don’t want to think too much and will wait and let the series surprise me with that.

Episode 1
Mr Clark, the wealthy grandfather of Mint Clark can’t resist the temptation of Howard Resort and makes his way to his favourite gambling casino. Hey wait a minute. Do casinos admit underage girls too? Thankfully Mint isn’t a gambler wannabe so she takes a stroll on the island with her stuffed teddy bear, Choco and she hears the rumours about the Goddess of Victory and becomes curious to meet her. So she tries to find her and follows the crowd who are excited to see this Goddess of Victory. I guess being small has its disadvantages because Mint has been pushed away not able to get a glimpse of the Goddess. Till Hollywood Star, Rosa Canyon points out Rio’s name. Even Rio’s popularity overshadows Rosa’s status. That’s how famous she is. Rosa lets Mint follow a white ferret, Chip which will take her to the said Goddess. Unknown to them, a guy in weird glasses, Orlin Dunhill is spying and targeting Mint. Mint follows Chip to Rio (in the midst of working her ‘magic’) and when they meet, they become friends. Mr Clark is Howard’s good friend too and is introduced to Rio as the casino’s best dealer. Seems Howard has this fetish of putting embarrassing outfits on Rio. To please the customers? I’m sure it’ll be more pleasant if they hit the jackpot. That night as Rio accompanies Mint, Orlin and his men confront them. He wants Mint to hand over Choco. Rio is no pushover and she unleashes her kung fu kicks to send the men retreating. Wow. Best dealer, now best bodyguard too. Mint follows Rio and sees her at work. She also meets the other bunny girl casino staffs, Tiffany Abbot and sisters, Elle and Ille. There is this customer who is in a dilemma because he is betting his marriage proposal to his proposal on this roulette game. Rio tells him to think about the person he loves with all his heart. Rio throws the ball and it lands on the number he picked. There, happy ending. See how happy money can make the couple?

Orlin steps in and wants to challenge Rio to a duel over Choco. Of course Rio won’t refuse his proposal but if she wins, he must reveal why he is fixated over Choco and then leave this island. Rio must also wager something equally important. If Orlin wins, Rio will strip naked! It is like Howard anticipated this moment and approves of the duel instantly. Yeah, he’s got all the setup ready for the showdown. I’m sure it’ll be a feast for the customers’ eyes if Rio loses, eh? But then again, has Rio ever lost before? Rio dresses as a bride to be in one with this poker game. Orlin is confident and shows them why he is called Queen Killer. He changes all his cards except the queen of hearts. He could’ve easily gotten a flush if he only changed the eight of clubs. He is confident he will get all 4 queens. Rio also changes 4 of her cards. Then both of them unleash their Roll Ruler. I don’t really understand what this special ability is but as far as I know, it changes the ‘battlefield’ to the player’s advantage and possibly the outcome favourable to the player. It’s like entering to another dimension looking for the right cards whatsoever. Numbers and cards are just flowing everywhere. It’s so abstract. In the end, Orlin got nothing! Rio on the other hand got the weakest hand: A pair of twos. Well, she won, right? As promised, Orlin reveals he is a plushie fanatic and collects dolls to retrieve the pain of his wife’s desertion at the altar. WTF. Orlin knows Choco is a rare find and made in Belgium. Unfortunately a closer inspection reveals Choco is in fact made in China! Maybe he needs to get his eyes checked. Rio hugs him and comforts him. Knowing that he has admitted his inability to identify dolls, he can stop wasting money and stop collecting fakes. Howard must be a little upset because it would’ve been great if Rio lost too. Wait no further because Mint is so enthralled with Rio that in her attempt to chase her, she trips and rips her wedding dress. I guess everybody is a winner in the end.

Episode 2
Rio is made to dress in a Brazilian samba dance outfit. It’s that or guide a new dealer recruit from Russia, Anya Helsing. I suppose the choice is obvious. Anya seems to be a good amateur so Rio has no further lessons to teach her. Anya notices Rio in possession of a Gate. Since Mint doesn’t know all the terms, we are briefed about Gates, Gate Holders (those who hold Gates) and Gate Battles and its implication for one who gathers them all. For this Gate, Rio didn’t actually win it, someone gave it to her after watching her impressive game and felt she was qualified to hold it. There is a noticeable trait Anya possesses. She is clumsy! I wonder how many glasses she broke. How many times she tripped? She can even cause a domino effect on the slot machines! I guess if you have good luck embodied as Rio, you need someone who is opposite like Anya. However it’s not that all bad because Rosa hit the jackpot due to Anya’s clumsiness. A narcissist Gate Holder, Elvis (and his flock of babes) enters the casino to challenge Rio to a Gate Battle. He claims he is loved by numbers and women (I bet they’re sticking around because of his money or fame). Thank goodness Rio is not such a cheap girl. And it’s like Howard knew this was coming and accepts the challenge. Yeah, he got even the props ready for the battle. Since Gate Battles are rare, anyone who witnesses them should consider themselves lucky to be alive. So in today’s Gate battle theme of roulette (despite its exaggerated and outlandish contraption), the rules are simple. One person will bet, the other will toss the ball. There is only one round. Black or red. If the ball lands on the colour bet, that person wins or else victory goes to the tosser. Elvis gives Rio the choice to choose which position she wants (including his cheesy line that choosing him is not an option. Oh please…). Rio will bet. Because Elvis has never seen this contraption before, he decides to test play first. This is to calculate every possible angle and velocity imaginable. Well, I thought he’s like a robot when he could see numbers and formulas at every turn and space. And to hit it right… Well, that’s just like a machine, isn’t it? So the game starts as Elvis rolls the ball. Rio makes her bet and using their Roll Ruler, both engage in some beach volleyball trying to outdo each other to gain favourable advantage. In the end, Rio wins because Elvis’ calculation went a little off when he forgot to take into account the little band aid on his finger that got stuck on the ball when he rolled it. Yeah, that little band aid was enough to throw everything off course. Scary! So Elvis lost everything. His Gate, the girls, the attention. See, nobody loves a loser. His perfect calculation even lost to chance but as Anya puts it, Rio works hard instead of leaving it to chance. Anya and Mint are to celebrate Rio’s victory but the clumsy Russian trips…

Episode 3
Howard has recently bought an old castle-cum-casino called Misery. With a name like that… Well, it’s supposed to be the name of a woman owner in the 19th century. With a name like that, is it a wonder why it met its demise? Anyway Rio is in charge of the revival of this casino. Just hope it is not haunted. Rio wakes up from a dream whereby she played Blackjack with Misery and wagered this casino! Hope this stays as an eerie dream. Well, the frightening lightning and thunder aren’t helping her with a good night’s sleep either. Next morning, Rio is done with her photo shoot and learns from her colleagues that the resort’s chicken wings have mysteriously disappeared and Rosa laments she has put on weight despite going on a diet. Well, it seems this Misery ghost is indeed real (the lightning the night before must have ‘materialized’ her when it struck the painting of her) as she walks through the Howard Resorts’ casino and turns bad luck for all its customers. She met her match in Anya. Yeah, even the ghost experienced pain in her clumsiness. She got so pissed off that the entire island blacked out temporarily! So the girls report to Howard about this Misery lady they see. From the surveillance video, they can’t see her face clearly due to some interference but Howard just tells security to kick her out if she comes again. While Rio shows Anya the painting of Misery, Elle and Ille follow a trail of eaten chicken wings to find Misery munching on them! They got caught by the ghost. Rio reports to Howard about Misery being a ghost but he doesn’t believe. She has also done her research on Misery. She is a gambling addict and loved chicken wings. One day a challenger challenged her and she lost everything in that single night and the casino was eventually shut down. Even if Howard finds it hard to believe, why would a ghost without a body want to eat chicken wings? Yeah, I wonder too. Then it hit Rio. Misery may have possessed Rosa. Rosa is trying to fight her inner self. Too bad she lost and even steals chicken wings from a delivery girl. Rio rushes to the castle to confront Misery to leave Rosa’s body. But she challenges her to a game and if Rio wins, she’ll do just that. Or else Howard Resort belongs to her. Rio has no choice but to oblige because Misery has also possessed Elle and Ille and have Howard trapped in a magician’s box. Only thing is, the splitting of his body will be real. The game is simple. Guess it is odd or even by the throw of the die. But Misery is confusing Rio with her batty illusions. Fortunately Misery gets a taste of her own defeat because the chicken wing she is enjoying is laced with spicy hot chilli. Thanks to the delivery girl. Rio is snapped out of the illusion and is able to concentrate and win the game. Misery leaves Rosa’s body as Rio goes to thank the delivery girl for her help. She turns out to be Rina, her sister. Not exactly her biological sister but someone who grew up close with her enough to be one.

Episode 4
Seems Howard has hired Rina as a dealer and knows about her relationship with Rio. Rio never met her father and was raised by her mom, Risa Rollins who was once the world’s best dealer. Rina on the other hand, her mom was hospitalized and her father rarely came home from work. Thus Rina was left in Risa’s care. They stayed together till Rina went overseas to study. Rio shows Rina around the island and Mint is not happy because of a new girl monopolizing Rio. Hey! Whoever said Rio belonged to her? And wasn’t Mint monopolizing Rio all to herself before? Eventually she allows Rina to ‘borrow’ Rio for the day. The sisters talk about Risa who was the only person ever to hold the title of MVCD and was known as Double R. Rio became a dealer in hopes she could be closer to Risa. They go see the fortune teller, Dana and it seems the tarot card shows the symbol of death. Risa gets a call that Anya is in trouble. Some fat American cowboy, Bull Hard is holding her hostage. He challenges Rio to some vending machine game. He brags his awesome terrifying legendary skills but lost to her in the first round. Then they’re supposed to finish their drink the fastest but that stupid guy had to select a hot drink. The victor is obvious, eh? Howard thinks that with the juicy sisters together, he can use them and make some money to open another casino. While Rio is bringing good luck to her customers, Rina is just somehow tiring them out. The sisters get called by Howard to put on a skeet shooting competition. If they miss a disc, a piece of their clothing will disappear. Which part of the clothing will be decided by the opponent. Which guy wouldn’t want to miss this? A definite attraction, I’d say. The game starts not in Rio’s favour because the wind is throwing her shots off (causing her a piece of a shirt button that almost exposes her breasts). Though Rina is ruthless and will do what it takes to win, Rio makes a comeback and in the end Rina misses her targets. But Rio isn’t so bad and just vanishes her hat and arm band. Though it ends with a draw, Rina notes Rio is the winner because she was looking out for her. She lost to her kindness. While the guys are moved by their sisterly friendship, Rosa has a feeling Rina may have missed the final shot on purpose. Mint exposes Rina’s safety pants, the reason why she could stay calm throughout the game and not feel embarrassed like Rio. The crowd cheers on them because, they get to see Rio’s tits. Meanwhile Bull Hard meets his employer who wants to understand everything about Rio’s strength.

Episode 5
Rio is once more put into another weird outfit. A prawn? Howard is happy to open his latest Sky Resort and the official opening will be tomorrow. It will be the highest altitude casino in the world and Rio and co will be in charge of that place. While checking the place out, they bump into another dealer of Sky Resort, Linda. She takes them around the place, various facilities and attractions. They notice something strange about Linda. Does she have superhuman strength? Then Anya’s clumsiness has Linda’s head to fall off! Oh sh*t! As revealed, Linda is the main terminal for Sky Resort’s computer systems. It bugs me that her head could easily fall off despite being an important terminal that handles everything. So Howard officiates the opening of Sky Resort as the building launches itself into the sky, wowing all the customers onboard. While flying in mid-air, a mysterious kid enters Linda’s room and hijacks her. Rio continues to give her customers good luck, Rina isn’t cutting hers any slack and Anya… She’s still tripping. Suddenly Linda challenges Rio to a Gate Battle. Was Linda a Gate Holder? Never mind because this is a chance Howard won’t pass up. Yeah, another Gate Battle. The game will be based on a signature attraction of Sky Resort. They’re supposed to slide down the water tubes that go all over the resort. Some are dead ends and some slides have certain angles that will change the speed of their sliding, which is pivotal to the race’s outcome. The first one to reach the goal at the end of this long winded tube is the winner. So the ladies slide down the tube (Linda seems to be having more fun despite being a robot) and though Linda reaches first, it is Rio who crosses over the goal line first. I guess that’s what happens if you lose your head. Linda returns to her normal self but has no recollection on what she’s done. Howard is being confronted by Cartia Goltschmitt in his office and knows she was the one who made Linda malfunction.

Episode 6
Mint tries out the space pinball simulation. Maybe the asteroids are too tough for her. Soon the girls are being called by Howard about Cartia. Her goal is to take over Howard Resort and he has received her official challenge letter. I guess you can’t refuse Gate Battles even if the resort is at stake. Besides, if Rio wins it’ll be good publicity for Sky Resort. Yeah, now Sky Resort rests on Rio’s shoulders. For now, her opponent is known as Jack but he is not on the list of guests. Mint decides to help out and has Linda sketch on how this Jack looks like. Despite being a computer terminal, her drawing sucks. But Mint recognizes this horrible mug. She thought of seeing this black afro samurai while she was playing the simulation. She tails that loser and finds him on a losing streak. At this rate, it’ll be easy win for Rio. As for Rio, she has been receiving prank calls and even a large photo of Misery in her room. Rina thinks this is a psychological warfare to shake up Rio. While Mint continues to watch that idiot afro samurai (he’s really an idiot), Choco falls off the balcony. A kid uses his levitating powers to save Choco. He has to leave with his comrades who call him Jack. So this kid is Jack?! True enough, this kid is Rio’s next opponent. The Gate Battle will be space pinball using the hardest route and the one who rake in the most points win. Mint felt Jack’s magic was cheating but he denies and says it is his Mighty Power. Isn’t that the same? His family always had this power since they’re dealing with bombs so this levitating power evolved as defence. Cartia wants to use his power and if he wins, he will get his wish. Oh, and that loser afro samurai is Carlos Tanaka, a former dealer. The game starts and not only the players have to look out for asteroids but space sharks as well. Space sharks? Jack is engulfed by them but Rio saves him. Jack didn’t return the favour and fires on Rio (which is legal in the game). Rio isn’t giving up yet because she abandons her pod, rides a space shark and use it has her own machine to rake in the points. In the end, Rio catches up and wins the game. However Carlos bumped into Linda and she loses her head to cause the system unstable. Mint is sucked into the game but Jack saves her using his levitation power to prevent an asteroid crashing into her. Rio uses her Roll Ruler to return things back to normal. Jack admits his defeat and gives his Gate to Rio. Mint also wants to reward him and asks him to close his eyes. He has Choco kiss him.

Episode 7
Rio is exhausted but ruthless Cartia has another Gate Battle for her. This time with Queen. Rio dreams how she purposely lost to Rina so that they have equal amount of snacks but Risa thought it wasn’t nice to do that. In the next Gate Battle, both players are supposed to float upwards a vent while shooting targets. The one who gets the most targets at the end wins. Meanwhile the other girls are investigating behind the scene because somebody is hacking Linda and locking her out of the system. Queen plays dirty to send Rio crashing down though Cartia calls it coincidence. Rio uses her Roll Ruler and with luck (Anya bumps into Linda, her head comes off and somehow messes with the system by boosting the wind power to send Rio flying faster up) she beats Queen to win the game. That’s no coincidence, right? Mint finds Jack to get some answers about Cartia. She has locked Sky Resort and is the only one who knows the password to unlock the system. Until Rio loses, Sky Resort will keep on floating. He is not sure of Cartia’s real goal because she owns many Gates and gave it to them. They were told to just face Rio and win. Since he lost, he is useless. He wanted to gain his freedom by winning but I guess that’s not possible now. Tired Rio takes a bath with Rina. Noting that Gates are Rio’s only connection to Risa, Rina says it’s her turn to protect her now. Rio felt somebody watching her. Dana predicts chaos and betrayal in the sky. In the simulation room, Bull Hard holds Rina hostage and turns the simulation on. Rio has to avoid speeding trucks, tentacle rape and falling into the lava. When she wakes up, she sees Risa. However mother tells her she is not cut out to be Goddess of Victory because she brings misfortune to others. Citing that Rina is still bitter and that it’s her fault that everyone is trapped in misfortune, everything she love will leave and soon disappear. Rio is found unconscious and Howard knows this is Cartia’s tactic to wear her out and make her lose her concentration.

Episode 8
Unconscious Rina is tied to the casino table and Cartia assures Rio she hasn’t done anything to her. Facing off with King in this Gate Battle, all Rio has to do is to guess which hand the coin King will toss is in. Even if it does not involve physical activity, it is nevertheless a focus based match. Something Rio isn’t up to right now. As we are told, King is a con artist that never used tricks. Huh? He is an expert in this game because by the time he catches the coin in one hand, his tremendous strength crushes it to bits, leaving no trace. Thus, he always wins. So when Rio picks, she says it’s not in that hand. Well, the rules never said she had to choose which hand the coin was in, right? Oh sh*t! And just like that, King lost.  Shouldn’t have crushed it too soon, eh? Besides, King as revealed is another big idiot. He knows the English alphabets up to Q… However Rina is missing from the table and Cartia insists that she did release her. Where she goes is up to Rina. See, two can play that game. Linda is trying to fight the firewall Bull Hard is guarding. Jack joins it and makes it easier by turning it into a shoot ’em up and wins it. Rio despite exhausted goes out to find Rina. This leads her to a church-like room where she meets Cartia who wants to initiate the final Gate Battle. Her final opponent will be… Rina! As revealed, Rina is a spy sent by Cartia to get Howard Resort. She is more amazing than Rio because she gathered all the Gates and gave them to Rio’s opponents. Rina’s intention is to have revenge against Rio and Risa. Even if Risa loved her, it was before she discovered the truth. Her mother was sick and dad had to take care of her in hospital. Thus Rina was sent under Risa’s care. One day, father left mother without a word and she went into a coma after that shock. Soon Risa discovered that Risa and Rina’s dad once dated in the past and even after the latter married, he still flirted with Risa behind her back. Cartia saw them eloping with her own eyes. Rina is bitter that she was separated from her mom and vows to separate Risa from hers. Cartia says she is just aiding Rina in her revenge that’s why she had all those Gate Battles to train Rio and make her worthy to take on Rina. Poker will be this final high altitude high stakes’ game. Risa gets engulfed in Rina’s Roll Ruler, a dark forest that somewhat reflects the darkness of Rina’s heart. Cartia gives Howard the password and returns Sky Resort to him. Rio collapses from exhaustion.

Episode 9
Though Sky Resort is back in Howard’s control and drifting in the sea, but Cartia has taken over Howard Resort and renamed it Goltschmitt Kingdom. I guess this means Rio has lost. Mint and Jack help cheer Rio up by helping her to clean the casino tables. Rosa bumps into Dana as the latter warns that agents of ICDG (International Casino Dealers Guild) are watching closely. Elsewhere, Rina seems disappointed in her win over Rio. But happy or not, she notes Cartia will be happy if she gets all the Gates. Speaking of which, 2 more are missing and Cartia has assigned her men to find them. Meanwhile Orlin and Elvis have returned and even though they win big, they don’t feel satisfied. They felt something missing: The Goddess of Victory. They go to see Rio and seek a challenge from her. She won’t turn them down despite the rest thinking they’re back for revenge knowing that Rio has weakened. The loser will leave the casino world forever. In the first poker match against Orlin, the Queen Killer finally gets all his queens but Rio gets a higher ranking straight flush. Against Elvis in a roulette, once more Rio emerges victorious. With Rio getting her confidence back, Orlin and Elvis are happy that even in defeat, they felt great to have challenged her. I guess Misery wasn’t really exorcised from Rosa so she points out Jack had a hand in Rio’s victory. Jack admits he did use his power because everyone would be sad if Rio lost. Misery says Cartia is about to demolish her castle and she will lose a place to stay. I don’t think Rosa would want her to stay in her body forever. Better do something quick! That night, Rio meets Howard in a joker outfit. He shows Rio a prank he is about to pull on Cartia by cutting off electricity using a secret terminal (why hide it in a telephone booth? I guess nobody uses that nowadays). However it has no effect because Cartia has saw through his schemes. Her men take them to her. Cartia offers Rio to work for her since the customers are asking for the Goddess of Victory. She’ll make her the general manager and will give her the freedom to hire her friends back at Sky Resort. Howard wants her to take the deal and then hire him but she rejects! Haha. On their way out, Rio has a brief showdown with Rina. She follows Howard but realizes this person is not him. Suddenly she is summoned into Joker’s Roll Ruler along with Dana.

Episode 10
Rio can leave this Roll Ruler if she beats her via Blackjack. Joker wants to see Rio’s Roll Ruler but she says she doesn’t have them now. Joker reminds her that dealers can’t just deal cards. Using Roll Ruler to control victory or defeat of the player is the mark of a true dealer. The Blackjack games always end in a draw. Nobody wins and nobody loses. This will go on forever. Over the games, Joker reminds her what is Roll Ruler to her, is she bringing happiness to others or just satisfying herself. Back to that scene again whereby Rio purposely lost to Rina. Rio is being told she doesn’t understand Rina’s feelings. Because her heart is wavering, Rio lost her hand. The rest of the girls are trying to find where Rio and Howard are. Detecting them in Howard Tower, Jack flies Mint over there (was the superhero costume necessary?). By the time they arrive, they get to know that Rio is now experiencing successive loses. Then on the next card, Rio wins. Joker wonders if she plans to continue winning without using her power. Noting her confidence, Joker gives Rio a Gate so she qualifies to fight Rina. Bull Hard reports to Cartia that the 13th Gate hasn’t been found yet. She gets desperate and threatens the project will be cancelled. This is news to Rina as she pesters for answers. It’s obvious Cartia is acting nervous despite just wanting to see the rainbow. Rina is baffled why Casino Guild would want to collect the Gates now. But she assures she will become strong and collect all the Gates. Howard discusses with the rest that ICDG’s goal wasn’t about taking Howard Resort since they have no interest in managing casinos. Their target is indeed the Gates or perhaps someone who can be like Risa. Rio is being summoned by Dana, who to her surprise is a Gate Holder. She wants to test Rio to see if she is worthy to hold that person’s Gate. The challenge is if Rio can safely cross the bridge, her Gate is hers. Each time Rio steps on a tile, dangerous obstacles appear to take her out. To Dana’s surprise, Rio can see the location of the traps and steps on all of them to activate it. This is so that the traps can eliminate each other. Well, thankfully the traps aren’t that intelligent. So with Rio admitting her immaturity and accepting her fate as a dealer as well as Rina’s emotions, Dana gives Rio her Gate. Mr Clark is surprised Howard is conspiring to make the sisters fight. I’m sure you would’ve guessed by now that Joker is in fact Risa. Rio exuding with confidence returns to her girls and they plan to take back Howard Resort.

Episode 11
How are they going to take the casino back? First, the ladies dress up in their stunning dresses. Then they waltz into the casino and play all the games and slots. They’re going to buy back Howard Resort this way? Hell, they’re on a winning streak! Even Anya is on a hot streak. Her clumsiness proves lucky for once. Since Mint is underage, I guess she just watched. The girls have won 15% of Cartia’s empire and it was enough for them to swim in all the cash they won! But they have a bigger crisis. Choco is missing so they have to put their gambling on hold to find the teddy. Risa talks to Howard about the irony how MVCD tore her family apart. The moment she gathered all the Gates, Casino Guild tried to kidnap her. That’s why she went into hiding to protect Rio. She will protect Rio and prevent her from walking this same path. She thanks Howard for looking after Rio but he brushes it off that he is just after the $100 million dollar cash prize. The girls lose all their winnings to a pair of Chinese vampire girls, Yang-Yang and Ang-Ang. They even have a talisman on their heads. They are dubbed Number 10 by Cartia and are her trump card. She challenges them to a game. If they win, she’ll double their earnings to 30%. But Rio doesn’t care about that and wants Choco found instead. Cartia brings them to a building called Concentration Bomber. Howard built it but locked this attraction away. In this memory game, the pair will have to choose the same pair of cards. If they succeed, they get to continue picking the next pair. Otherwise it’s their opponent’s turn. The one with the most pairs at the end wins. Oh, picking the wrong card means Bomber Time! It means you go boom if they don’t match! Dangerous. If Team Rio is bad, then thank heavens that Yang-Yang is also equally bad because her prediction computer is off since it is made in China. So her prediction doesn’t work here? And why is Elvis the referee getting beaten up for each wrong match? The game has 4 cards left and both teams are equal. Mint is nervous but Rio hugs her to calm her down. Then Mint starts to see toys floating and among them is Choco. It seems the bear is pointing out which cards to pick. In the end, they choose the right cards and win. Howard realizes Cartia is using Concentration Bomber and calls her. He says he sealed off the building because of its instability. Using it will cause it to explode. Thanks for the late warning. If it only came a little bit earlier. Unlucky Mint bears the brunt of the explosion but Ang-Ang comes to her rescue. Suddenly Ang-Ang turns into Choco! It is revealed Yang-Yang was lonely and saw Mint’s Choco. She stole it from her and turned it into Ang-Ang. So why Choco? Seems her spell only works on stuffs made in China. I’m not sure if this statement means China stuffs are superior or inferior. Though Cartia notes she didn’t really lose much, Rina has returned from her break and will take back what Cartia lost. Rio challenges her to it and surprises her with the pair of Gates she has.

Episode 12
In a press conference, Mr Clark has Howard and Cartia sign an official agreement for the Gate Battle. But before the big battle, Howard takes his girls on a vacation as reward. Well, they’re suspicious of his goodwill because they used their winnings for the trip and Rosa got this luxurious cruiser for them. Plus, Carlos, Orlin and Elvis are coming too. The more the merrier? On the island, Rio meets the old caretaker of her family’s villa. It’s been years she hasn’t come back but he still recognizes her. So after the hotsprings and ping pong games, Mint wanders herself to find Rio. She meets the old caretaker and asks for directions to Rio’s villa. Speaking of that, Rio is at that place. Brings back nostalgic memories, eh? Rio gets a call from Howard that Mint is missing. She is about to go look for her but can’t help notice Chip is looking at a door. He won’t budge. So when Rio opens the door, nobody is inside the room. Well, I think there was somebody there. Want to bet it was Rina? Mint somehow got herself lost in the woods slides off the slope. She could have been a hungry bear’s dinner if not for Rina. She uses her Roll Ruler to shoo the beast away. Rina puts unconscious Mint on the park bench and calls Howard to retrieve her. Howard tells her Risa didn’t betray her and Cartia lied about her father eloping with Risa. Rina says she knew that a long time ago. But if she accepted that, she won’t be herself anymore. Even if it’s just a lie, Cartia’s words lifted her out of despair and revenge made her stronger. That was all she had to live for. Mint wakes up safely in Rio’s arms and tells her how Rina saved her. Before the big showdown, Howard tells Rio that Rina is trying to escape from Cartia. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gone back to that town, a place filled with nostalgic memories. Cartia isn’t amused Rina went back there but she says it’s to turn her nostalgia into hatred. But Cartia cautions she will have her henchmen intervene at the slightest uncertainty. Elvis was supposed to be the dealer but Joker knocks him out and takes his place. Since Rio and Rina do not mind, it’s set. The winner of this match will get all the Gates and obtain the title of MVCD. The first person to reach 15 wins in this poker game wins. Rina uses her Roll Ruler to draw first blood. And again for her second consecutive victory. But Rio is not worried.

Episode 13
Rina has won for the 14th consecutive time! Just one win away from MVCD… Rio’s friends are starting to get worried. Is Rio that bad? Howard thinks Rio is trying to lose on purpose to atone for what she did to Rina. But that is not kindness. That is a lie! He’s not saying it because he is concerned for Rio. It’s because his resort is at stake. So win the game, damn it! Rina is not pleased if that is the case and thinks Rio is looking down on her and wants her to give her best. On the contrary, Rio has always been giving her best. It’s just that the casino’s luck has been by her side. Till now. Subsequently when Rina uses her Roll Ruler, it has no effect. What does this mean? It means Rio has stopped her losing streak and has turned the tables on Rina. She makes an awesome comeback to tie the match at 14 wins each. I guess for once she fights for herself instead of somebody else. Before the final match, we have this convenient explanation from Dana that Gates may contain lost technology of ancient civilizations called OOPARTS. No one knows who made them and were believed to be ancient predecessors of tarot cards. The Gates are awaiting the birth of its new owner. Rio and Rina enter Rio’s Roll Ruler, where every secret is out and there are no lies. The sisters are surprised to learn Joker is Risa. She explains how Casino Guild tried to use her for evil when she became MVCD. Knowing they would go after them, that’s why she ran away and disappeared with Rina’s dad to prevent their powers from awakening. Rina despite loving Rio, she too hates and can’t forgive her. Then she remembers her father told her he is an executive officer of Casino Guild and will be away for a while to stop radical members and to look after mom. Mom on the other hand knows Rina will be lonely and doesn’t want to her to blame dad. She also wants to think of Risa as her own mother. But Rina couldn’t live without winning. So by surpassing Rio and becoming MVCD, the world that hurt her will fall at her feet. That’s what kept her going. As for why Rio fights, it’s to reclaim what she lost. To reclaim her beloved Rina. So back to the final game, both sisters give it their best shot and it ends with Rio winning with the ultimate royal straight flush hand. With the crowd cheering (except for Cartia and her subordinates), Rio is crowned MVCD as the Rainbow Gate opens. Rainbows are supposed to be seven coloured curved lights, right? Well, this one seems like some powerful energy shooting upwards. As explained by Joker, those who pass through it will grow beyond human measure and can use the ultimate Rule Roller to grant all wishes. Rio steps inside the light and well, I guess for us to comprehend the ‘wonderfulness’, we see flowery prints floating across the screen.

Suddenly a group of armed men from the Casino Guild led by Charlie, storms in and holds everyone as hostage. Cartia is in cahoots with them to capture MVCD. Charlie orders his men to capture Rio as part of their final mission. The rest try to stop them but to no avail. Mint calls out Rio’s name and she responds. No wait. Carlos responded first as he slashes and disarms all men! I can’t believe my eyes. Sure it’s this afro samurai dude getting things right? Then he starts lecturing about casino guilds existing for righteous purpose. Wait a minute. Casino and righteousness? Those words hardly exist in the same sentence! Meanwhile, we see scenes from around the world and we could guess what wish Rio made. Everyone got lucky. Heck, the entire world! Even the accident turned out to be reunification of lost love (instant marriage proposal!). Hell, a certain Arab country ended its 30 years of civil war. Whether it is big or small, everybody just got lucky in some ways! What a big happy world! Unbelievable! Carlos tells Charlie and his men to go home and give up this foolish idea. He reveals himself as ICDG police along with Joker and has the badge to prove it. So I guess it’s true. I thought it was Rio’s luck that made him lucky and dependable for those few seconds. But he still sucks at gambling. Ouch. But I don’t know. How are the radical members of Casino Guild planning to use MVCD to control all the casinos and the entire world (thus making the sisters fight)? Heck, we won’t find out because they just failed. Howard warns Charlie now that he knows who they are, he’ll expose the truth if they ever pull this stunt again. Charlie agrees but Cartia is worried. What about her? Since Gate Battles are under her, this means she will have to use he own money to pay for the MVCD prize. Howard will be expecting that. Hehehe… Now she’s gone from one filthy rich b*tch to one broke penniless b*tch. Still a b*tch nevertheless. Rio returns from the Rainbow Gate to reunite with her friends. It’s party time. In the aftermath, Howard Resort is back in business, Rio and Rina continue to be dealers, Misery still possesses Rosa and Anya is still clumsy. Some things never do change. Rina’s mom wakes up from her coma and emotionally reunites with her daughter. Cartia may be waiting for the day she’ll exact her revenge on Rio but for now, she’s got to put up with her little Sky Resort drifting away in the sea. Don’t worry. She’s got Linda for company. If she can stop blowing things up, that is. And what’s this? A pair of villainous looking people watching over the resort?! Wait, wait! Don’t end like that… Too late.

All Bets Are Off!
I guess you could say I lost the bet. The ‘currency’ I placed was hope. True, I wasn’t placing much expectation on this series but I didn’t expect it to go below that expectation. There wasn’t anything memorable and trying to put in a conspiracy of a certain secret organization trying to take control over the world by pitting a pair of sisters together so that the chosen one could unleash some unexplained power/magic that will grant their wish. Is that how I see it? Definitely. A lot of things bugged me. The characters and the concept especially. And don’t start with that half-assed ending. I don’t want to talk about it. As mentioned at the very beginning, the weird part is that they’re trying to paint gambling as something fun and happy. Of course if you do it in moderation but what are the chances as human beings controlling our lust to control our greed? That’s why there are so many angry people. So many broke people. So many broken people. So many broken dreams. It was a nice concept that everybody was lucky for that moment and I really wanted to believe it. However my feet were somewhat grounded and I didn’t experience Rio’s luck. So in a way the worldwide luck thingy felt absurd. It disrupts the balance of the world. Light and darkness exist together so if everybody had good luck, who has the bad luck then? It’s not in my place to say but think about it. The last straw came when the countries stopped their petty civil war and shook hands. Like it was that easy. And to make peace due to a dealer’s win. How ironic is that? Plus, how long would all the luck last? It will have to end someday. Call me a cynic, non-believer or spoil sport. Blame the world for turning me into a cold heartless otaku. But if people like Rio really exists and that gambling would really make you happy (and I don’t mean just in monetary terms), I would’ve been a gambling addict instead of an anime addict a long time ago.

There was a fourteenth episode or as many would call it, an OVA released at the end of 2011 but since I wasn’t impressed with this series, I didn’t get the interest to watch it. So I just went browsing through the web and saw screenshots of this OVA and you can blame me for judging the book by its cover because the OVA, just like any other animes that release an OVA after its TV series has ended, is just a filler rather than to answer any questions that viewers may want to know. So for this particular OVA from what I can see, you’ll get your 2 cents worth of fanservice shots with the girls showering and changing but no visible tits (as far as the comments that I read). Plot-wise, I see Choco been turned into that Ang-Ang and she decides to go earn some money to buy a present for Mint. But do Chinese vampires have luck in casinos? But she gets rewarded for her honesty when she returns Howard’s lost wallet (what’s a few cash compared to his unimaginable pool of wealth?). In another story, Linda, Jack and Mint meet a couple of aliens who crashed landed. Hmm… They look like Bomberman. So Linda gets turned into a giant and rampages around town like King Kong or Godzilla. Even the army and fighter jets are called in. So can Jack in his superhero outfit save the day? Well, till Linda loses her head. Literally. Turns out it was just a surreal dream. But the Bomberman? And as everybody prepares to tug in for the night, Anya is happy she didn’t trip for the entire day (couldn’t say about her other clumsiness) but remember Murphy’s Law. Before she jumps into bed, she trips over sockets of plugs. It not only blacks out the entire building, but the entire casino island! I didn’t know those plugs were connected to the electricity of the island. Oh, don’t ever plug them haphazardly like that!

On to the characters, they don’t really impress me either. Rio the best dealer in the world somehow has this uncanny ability to bring people luck loves helping others till she realizes that sometimes you have to help yourself too (in a good way). Her kind of skill would have made lots of casino owners to stay away from their casino. Where to casinos get their earnings? From losing customers, right? The bigger the better. So it really boggles me not so much how she got this ability (may it’s the ability Risa wanted to shield her daughter from those unscrupulous bastards) but the way she uses it to help her customers. I mean, she doesn’t really turn a customer down even if she doesn’t like it. As long as you’re the customer, she’ll gladly do it with her smile. Good policy to stick to if you’re in the service industry. Care to do porn too? Hah! I suppose she’ll do anything as long as it is related to casino and gambling. Wanna bet that? Maybe that’s why the customers keep flocking back to Howard Resort. They really can get lucky if the Goddess of Victory is on your side. For Rina, she operates on hate to go on living despite knowing deep down that she loves Rio. What would she be if doesn’t have revenge as motivation? Her father’s somewhat gone, along with Risa too, her mother’s somewhat close to sleeping forever, so the only thing she’s got left is Rio. I don’t think she has even considered Cartia as her close enemy. Just like how Cartia considered her as a tool for her goal, I too feel Rina had the same for her. So what happened to Risa in the end? She’s not going back to her daughters? She’s still sticking with ICDG police? Well, the radicals aren’t wiped out yet so it’s hard to say the threat is over. I’m not sure about Howard. It’s like sometimes he is a typical selfish big tycoon and sometimes he’s a good caring guy. But more of the former of course. Increasing his wealth and his resort are his top priorities so he has Rio engage in a lot of weird and embarrassing activities to draw in the crowd and publicity. Always smiling with his big grinning teeth, a cigar in hand and a yellow suit, he isn’t all that bad and you have to give him his dues to. He does look out for Rio in Risa’s absence. Albeit taking advantage of that while he’s at it.

The other characters I feel were just, how do I put it, unimportant. Mint is just somebody who is around Rio like she’s her number one fan. Besides, do they really let kids into the casino to watch even though they can’t play? Tiffany, Elle and Ille are just there to provide some fanservice eye candy and don’t do much. Just like Mint and the rest, they just give comments while watching whatever event Rio gets involved in. But the annoying thing I find about Ille is that although she speaks in a rather monotonous voice as compared to Elle’s livelier expression, Ille has this habit to repeat what Elle says or agrees with that she says. It’s like hearing the same thing twice or confirming it. Doesn’t she have a dialogue of her own? For those dojikko (clumsy girl) fans, I guess this is where Anya comes in. What’s the use of hiring somebody who just trips and breaks everything? Don’t tell me they’re going with my theory of balancing yin and yang. Otherwise, she’s just to provide comic relief. Same case with Rosa. She would’ve been downgraded to a has-been Hollywood star and someone whom I would have forgotten a long time had not Misery possessed her. So it’s like she is sticking around and showing her face partly not because she’s part of the gang but because a ghost is residing in her. Thus from time to time we could see that Misery popping up and turning young pretty Rosa into an old ghastly hag. Yeah, I find that funny. Can’t she go over to the next world already? Is there something she needs to do in this world? Oh, I don’t know. Win big in her gambling or eat all the chicken wings? Linda? Why have a robot that is always losing her head? It feels like she has a few screws loose in them. Which I think is the case because the slightest nudge could send the system overloading. Is this what the entire Sky Resort casino system is relying on? Dangerous! Feeling a bit like a shonen anime, Orlin and Elvis, opponents whom Rio once defeated return to become her supporter. For other opponents that Rio faced especially the ones Cartia sent, they may appear like formidable foes and someone tough to beat. However you’ll later realize that person is like a total idiot or useless person. That Carlos guy, he has got to be the biggest joker and comic relief of them all. Whenever he barges into the scene, it seems like his frantic and panicky disposition would make us distress that something bad has happened. Then it turns out to be his own personal problem like stomach discomfort. Yeah, real funny. Real useless. Till he makes he reveals his true identity. I guess that’s not a joke.

There are a few more things that continue to bug me. For instance the Gate Battles. Though any Gate Holders can challenge another Gate Holder anytime and anywhere, it just bugs me that some of the Gate Battles have nothing to do with gambling games. Since Gates resemble playing cards, I thought such battles should resemble games that use them. Take for instance Rio’s Gate Battle with Linda. I mean, sliding down a long water slide? I know the odds of reaching the goal is like gambling itself. 50-50. But riding a water slide? Why not do a kendo match instead. Other Gate Battles are just too short. For example the one with King. Which hand is it in? Why not just ask a yes-or-no quiz. So I don’t know. It can be long, it can be short. It can be complex or it could be very simple. As long as there is a winner in the end. I’m sure the spectators are the ultimate winner getting to witness such great events despite some of them feeling cheap.  Then comes the storyline. Just how does ICDG distribute all of its 13 Gates? I’m sure they have their criteria but when Risa won hers, how were the Gates distributed again? Who was that person who gave Rio her first Gate? Don’t tell me it was Risa because from that flashback, I could tell it was a guy. Who was that guy who was willing to give such a precious Gate to another dealer by just watching? So now that Rio has all the gates, when will the next distribution of the Gates be and how? Maybe I shouldn’t think so much since it’s not I’m going to lose a limb (maybe brain cells for thinking too much). And the Casino Guild? I thought it was just a fancy name for a group of guerrillas. Yeah, they certainly look more like mercenaries than anybody interested in organizing casinos. I guess they bet their ideals and life on the line, eh?

I guess if you’re watching this series, you would probably be here for the little fanservice too. Even if you’re not, consider it as something a little extra. But it’s not something that ecchi fans would go gaga over. They’re just teasing you with the little bust shots especially Rio’s boobs which seem like it would want to burst out of her tiny little dealer jacket anytime. Anytime now… A button may just pop off… Nope. Don’t bet on it. If you fancy seeing Tiffany in something even skimpier than her already skimpy red bunny bikini, don’t hope anymore. Though I didn’t watch the DVDs, I’m not sure if you’d be able to see real tits seeing that the OVA itself lacks them. I could be wrong since I haven’t really seen them but if you are really a hardcore ecchi fan, you’d be happier looking at somewhere else. For the art and drawing, I suppose they are your typical Japanese anime style with some of the characters looking a bit westernized seeing Howard Resort had this American Las Vegas feel except that it is on an island on not in the middle of the desert. Certainly you don’t see this kind of casinos in Japan, right? Not that I know of. Because pachinko parlours are the more popular choice there. Speaking of which, this series was based on a pachinko game. Hmm… Maybe that’s why the ending sucks. Maybe that’s why the storyline felt mediocre. One other thing about the drawing, I find that the characters’ eyes, they’re drawn like U-shape or horseshoe. Weird…

The voice acting is pretty decent. Nothing really extraordinary. Marina Inoue as Rio doesn’t feel unique at all. So much so I thought her role as Maria+Holic’s deadpan but sarcastic Matsurika sounded better. Probably I wasn’t concentrating enough that I couldn’t identify Mint’s shrieky voice from Ayana Taketatsu (Vanilla in Yumeiro Patissiere, Alice in Highschool Of The Dead). I thought Minori Chihara as emotionless Dana made her sound like her other character such as Nagato in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu and Chiaki in Minami-ke. Other casts include Chiaki Takahashi as Rina (Tsumugi in Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi), Kouji Ishii as Howard (Garterbelt in Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt), Yukari Fukui as Anya (Nia in Gurren Lagann), Sayaka Ohara as Linda (Alicia in Aria The Animation), Kaori Shimizu as Rosa (Akira in School Rumble), Eri Kitamura as Misery (Ami in Toradora), Youko Hikasa as Linda (Mio in K-ON!), Kikuko Inoue as Risa (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama), Yumiko Kobayashi as Jack (Black Star in Soul Eater), Aya Uchida as Elle and Ille (Ascoeur in Kiddy Girl -and),  Wataru Takagi as Orlin (Komiyama in Ichigo 100%), Hiroki Takahashi as Elvis (Eiji in Prince Of Tennis), Asuka Oogame as Yang-Yang (Mikazuki in KissxSis), Saki Nakajima as Tiffany (Dorothy in MAR), Daisuke Kishio as Carlos (Suginami in Da Capo series) and Katsumi Chou as Mr Clark (Victor in Karin). The opening and ending theme sound like typical anime idol pop. Not that it interests me anyway. Sekai To Issho Ni Mawarou Yo by Love Roulettes is the opening theme while Miracle Chance by ULTRA-PRISM is the ending song. The opening animation is filled with floral shapes and card suits floating all over the screen while the ending theme has your usual fanservice to accompany the cards and roulette table and wheel.

So in the end, my perception on gambling isn’t going to turn favourable even if this anime somewhat indicate otherwise. Unless it’s for fun and knowledge and no going overboard, my suggestion is to stay far away from it. Treat it like drugs. I may not be an angel myself but imagine if everyone won the lottery and became rich, who is going to do all the work? What happens when there are all kings and no slaves? Yeah, world balance upset. It doesn’t work that way. Forgive me for always finding myself to keep saying this. But like life itself, it is one big bet. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you are not. You either make it or you screw up. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it is destiny. Who knows. But it is you who ultimately make the decisions in your life despite you can cite and blame other factors in influencing your decision. That’s why even if gambling relies purely on luck, it is still you that everything depends on. So leave it to yourself and have faith. Not let some other third party to give you the luck. Sorry Rio, I don’t want to leave it to you. I’d rather walk and make my own path and destiny. Because I’ll be much happier and in control no matter what the outcome. You can be darn sure that I’ll definitely bet on this one.

P/S- Joke: What is the difference between a guy praying to God at the church and a guy praying at the casino? The one in the casino is dead serious! Haha!

Rio - Rainbow Gate

One Piece part 3

December 2, 2012

Well… After over a year since my last blog on this series, safe to say that the One Piece anime is still at the halfway point. Is it that hard to move along? I guess after that super big battle between the marines and pirates to save Ace that in the end was really in vain, they need to take some breather before the next big adventure. During that super huge battle, for the first time we don’t see Luffy and his crew fighting together because they were all separated and blown to different islands in an unfortunate prior incident. Now with the big battle over, it’s time for our favourite Straw Hat Pirates to reunite, each with their own big badass power up moves and techniques and get along with their next draggy, oops, I mean exciting adventure to the New World. I hope they don’t take another year to move an inch forward. One year seems like a long time, but thankfully there is this One Piece Wiki to help refresh my memory as always…

Individual Training Arc
After that flashback arc, Luffy is still distraught that Ace had really died. But Jimbei reminds him he still has something important: His crew. And thus Luffy really wants to see his mates again. As for them, news of the big war and Ace’s death reach them as they hurriedly try to make haste to leave their respective islands and head straight to Luffy. At the same time, Rayleigh offers to take Luffy to an island for intense training and to further control his Haki. Luffy is contemplating on this offer since he wants to reunite with his crew. Then he decides. He is going back to Marineford with Jimbei and Rayleigh. But he’s not back to seek revenge despite pounding a few marine guards on his own. The elaborated stunts he pulled including ringing the big bell 16 times, throwing a bouquet of flowers and let photographers take pictures of him and his tattoo on his arm is just a distraction for him to send a secret message to his crew. Of course the rest of the world learns that Luffy is very much alive. So when his crew are in the midst of departing from their islands, they make a u-turn and decide to improve their current skills so that when they reunite, they will be more powerful and better. Thus the secret message is for them not to meet in 3 days time but in the next 2 years. Seems like a long time, eh? Oh, Sengoku has resigned as the fleet admiral.

2 Years Later Arc
Thank goodness we don’t have to wait that long. But we’ve been watching this series for over 10 years so I know the excruciating pain. Anyway the Straw Hat Pirates have finished their individual training and are making their way back to Shabondy Archipelago. They are excited to see how they’ve changed. You can tell with their new looks, they look even more powerful than ever! It’s just tantalizing to see what kind of new moves they have developed for the last 2 years. Don’t rush. We’ll get to see them pull it off gradually in big battles. So this is what the surprising and jaw dropping total makeover of the Straw Hat Pirates crew look like now:

Luffy: Still sporting his trademark straw hat he got from Shanks. But he’s got a big ‘X’ cross scar on his body. Shows how intensity and toughness of his unforgiving training, no?

Zoro: A scar over his left eye? Is he blinded in that eye? Well, he wears a green robe now so his waist band isn’t that obvious.

Nami: Suddenly this navigator becomes so sexy. Too sexy for our eyes! Long flowing hair and… Did her boobs got bigger?

Usopp: No more a skinny bugger but has those six-pack abs now. Oh, don’t forget his bigger afro hairstyle too and a sporting bushy beardy.

Sanji: Still the smoker, still the ladies men, still the cook who fights with his legs. Except he got a little more beardy.

Chopper: He traded his pink fuzzy top hat for an oversized blue cap? What’s underneath it? His brains? And for the umpteenth time, he is a reindeer not a raccoon dog!

Robin: Also receiving the sexy-up treatment. Is she trying to be trendy? Sunglasses over her head, showing more cleavage and is that sarong she is wearing?

Franky: Probably the one that underwent the most change. He’s now like an oversized robot. His once big Popeye arms are now even bigger mechanical parts. More cyborg parts but the way it’s coloured makes him look like a big clown. I wonder how he can keep his balance since his top is so much bigger (and looking a lot heavier) than his bottom. Still hasn’t lost his perverted sense of fashion. Super…

Brook: Now a flamboyant musician known as Soul King. His dressing is of a rock star with heart-shaped glasses, crown hat, feather boa, floral pants and sometimes with an electric guitar in hand. Can people in bones look this good?

However with rumours of Straw Hat Pirates reuniting on Shabondy spreading, it won’t be so easy for the original ones to meet because there are a bunch of fake Straw Hat Pirates! A very fat Luffy? Plump Nami? Chubby Zoro? Old man Franky? Skinny afro Sanji (looks like a drug addict)? Obese Usopp? Is that a real fox as Chopper? Anyway at one glance at this bunch of loser jokers, you know they are fakes because they are all overweight or unfit. But who can blame the others for not knowing? The original members have not met in 2 years and think their mates have really changed. The fakes are using this advantage to stamp their authority and push their weight around, not knowing they have bumped into some of the real counterparts. Especially Luffy (thanks to that weird and lame disguise Hancock gave him, nobody could recognize him). While most of the real Straw Hat Pirates crew have converged and met at Shakky’s place (surprisingly the number 1 lost guy, Zoro was the first to arrive), all they need to do now is wait for Luffy to show up. Thousand Sunny is kept safe these 2 years thanks to Duval and his Flying Fish Riders and surprisingly Kuma himself (so he was just acting as a villain all the while?). While a group of pirates are converging to fake Luffy, the marines and Pacifistas are also trying to scramble and take in Luffy. He is still wanted after all these years, right? So the inevitable fight begins. Sentoumaru uncovers the fake Luffy because he well knows this fatty isn’t close to being the real one. The real Luffy is in the midst and gets entangled in the battle. As expected, he isn’t the same Luffy he was 2 years ago and shows how much he has powered up by easily taking out a Pacifista. Finally all the real Straw Hat Pirates meet up and set sail to their next destination amidst the chaos with their allies (including Hancock – say goodbye to the love of your (fantasy) life) stalling the marines to allow them to make their getaway.

Journey To Fishman Island Arc
Getting to Fishman Island is no easy task because it is located 10,000 metres deep. You have got to navigate the unpredictable currents and face off with lots of ferocious sea monsters. What’s more, the dark and cold eerie atmosphere of the underwater sea. Thank goodness for Rayleigh’s coating, Thousand Sunny is able to make its journey without experiencing its bubble bursting and have the crew plunge to their watery grave. One of the murderous pirates that gathered at fake Luffy’s gathering, Caribou realizes the potential of capturing the real Straw Hat Pirates and orders to go after them. Caribou is bloody confident with his attack but it fails miserably. Not only his crew got killed when their ship’s coating burst, he got captured by them. During the journey downwards, the gang encounters the mythical giant Kraken, fight it and Luffy even made friends with it in the end (calling it Surume?). Their adventure takes them through an undersea volcanic are and an encounter with the Flying Dutchman ghost ship and its giant sea bonze, Wadatsumi. Turns out their captain is Vander Decken IX. He wants them dead but the crew manages to escape by the skin of their teeth. With Kraken guiding them downwards, an undersea avalanche knocks Kraken out while the rest plunge below to reach Fishman Island.

Fishman Island Arc
The crew are surrounded by fishmen on Sea Kings. They claim they are the New Fishman Pirates. He wants them to join their group or die where they stand. Luffy isn’t the type who negotiates and flatly rejects them without second thought. So it’s death he chose? Till Franky uses his final burst on Thousand Sunny for another escape and into Fishman Island. But their coating bursts and their crash landing means the crew who just got together are separated once more. If you’re wondering why there is light and air 10,000 metres underwater, I guess the giant tree absorbing light and air from above to its root to this certain point may seem absurd. Hey, you don’t really want some scientific explanation for that, do you? Anyway Luffy, Chopper, Usopp and Sanji are being treated and reunited with Camie and Papagg (who is now a famous fashion designer). For the several next few episodes, Sanji’s nose bleeding will become some sort of a running gag because he is so happy to see beautiful mermaids, that he doesn’t mind dying here. Seriously? Serious. Just the sight of these babes sends him into nose bleeding frenzy and Chopper will have a tough time finding blood for him. Do humans and fishman blood mix? He can’t control his lust, he pays the price. He hangs on precariously between life and death. This is paradise. This is heaven. This is eternal bliss. I guess he got his dreams crashing down when he realizes the nurses that are taking care of him are 2 girly guys. Just like the ones back in Kamabakka Kingdom. Oh, so screwed!

The three princes, Fukaboshi, Manboshi (“mambo”?) and Ryuboshi (“la-ti-do”?) are looking for Straw Hat Pirates. The mermaids hide them thinking the princes will capture them as they are wanted pirates. However their intentions have been misread. It is because Luffy and co are well known pirates, they cannot go through proper immigration and thus they’re here to pick them up. Plus, Fukaboshi has a message from Jimbei for Luffy (not to fight Hordy). Camie takes Luffy and co around the island. They meet a fortune teller, Madame Sharley whose predictions are never wrong. Because Thousand Sunny crashed on impact, Caribou has also escaped and started kidnapping mermaids to sell at the auction for a high price. And nobody on the island knows it’s him. I guess that swamp ability proved useful, eh? To her horror, she predicts Luffy will destroy this island. While shopping at Papagg’s store, King Neptune (“jamon”?) himself brings Luffy and his friends back to his Ryuugu Palace for a banquet. Franky is trying to find Tom’s relative while Robin searching for an important piece of history. Meanwhile the villain of the arc, Hordy Jones and his men of New Fishman Pirates are planning to make their revolutionary move to go to Ryuugu Palace and kill Neptune. Yup, they hate humans and believe fishman should never mix with them and that they are the superior race. Simply because they can breathe underwater? Also, Hordy and Decken meet and form an alliance to bring down Fishman Island. Plus, Hordy wants revenge on Luffy because he brought an end to Arlong’s ambition thus ruining that dream of conquering all humans. So let me guess. He wants to continue that ambition.

Luffy’s stomach couldn’t wait any longer for the banquet so he wanders along till he reaches Hard Shell Tower. Seems there are lots of axes thrown and stuck onto the metal door and wall. Inside, he meets Neptune’s youngest but giant mermaid daughter, Shirahoshi. It is learnt that Shirahoshi is holed up in this tower for 10 years because Decken was obsessively in love with her. He ate a Mark-Mark Devil Fruit which means anything he throws with his hand will always be able to find its way to Shirahoshi. So it was either marriage or death. Decken won’t let anyone else be her bride and if she doesn’t choose him, she dies. Sighs. Even obsessed stalkers happen underwater. Thus he has been throwing axes ever since. Despite Neptune and his sons trying to find Decken, it was to no avail. Since Shirahoshi yearns to go out and see some places, Luffy agrees to bust her out. After all these years, this guy doesn’t understand protocol. Neptune’s ministers accuse the other Straw Hat Pirates for wanting to destroy the island and hastily attack them. It backfired and the royal army got rounded up instead. With Luffy busting out with Shirahoshi inside shark Megalo‘s mouth to Sea Forest, the ministers are further horrified that the princess is being kidnapped. The Sea Forest is the grave of Shirahoshi’s mom and Neptune’s wife, Otohime reside. It is where Jimbei is now and waiting for Luffy to arrive. Hordy and his fishmen (including some human pirates under his thumb) storm into the palace as their first step of the plan. Decken is horrified that Shirahoshi is not here and goes after her.

Hordy floods the palace and has a short bout with Zoro. Though Zoro defeats Hordy in an underwater battle, Hordy’s men gave him Energy Steroids to boost his power. While the heroes try to escape the palace, Hordy and his men capture Zoro, Usopp and Brook. Hordy’s other generals are occupying other parts of the island and making those cowardly citizens step on a portrait of Otohime. Some of the citizens are close in believing Luffy and his crew as the culprit for kidnapping the princess. Megalo is at his limits and vomits them out. Oops. So what happens when Sanji sees the most beautiful mermaid of them all? Is he really going to die of massive blood loss? Well, he becomes petrified. Even his nose bleeds have taken to new heights. Luffy is tied up and confronted by the citizens. Decken arrives and proposes to Shirahoshi once more. However she rejects him because he is not her type. Devastated, he is going to kill her. Luffy breaks free from his captivity and wows the crowd by knocking Decken out with his powerful new move. They then flee to Sea Forest where they meet Jimbei and also Franky with Tom’s relative, Den who agrees in helping him coat Thousand Sunny. Jimbei realizes that Hordy has invaded the palace and so begins another flashback of how he sent Arlong to East Blue 8 years ago. Brings back horrifying memories for Nami, eh?

Fishmen and mermaids have always been long discriminated by humans. Ironically if Fishmen were so much stronger, how did they allow humans to pin them under their thumb? Numbers? Queen Otohime and the hero Fisher Tiger once tried their best to bring both species together. This is their story and how it all almost ended in vain. Otohime was strict to criminals but also showed her kindness. That’s why she was everyone’s beloved queen. However I suppose there is so much her people could only love her because she wants them to put their signatures to sign a petition for equality between both races. They have their reservations. Jimbei and Arlong knew each other and were like brothers to Tiger. Tiger left to be an adventurer and after his return from Mariejois, he along with Jimbei, Arlong and Macro form the Sun Pirates and earned their reputation of fighting the marines and freeing slaves. Even if Arlong hated humans, Tiger will not allow them to kill because it will make them no less than humans. Their goal is freedom and liberation. At the same time, Otohime gains growing support for her petition. One day Tiger and his crew save a young slave girl Koala. Despite putting on a cheery face to protect herself, Tiger assures they won’t kill her and vows to bring her back to her home. After they return her, the marines attack the Sun Pirates and Tiger was seriously injured. He refused a human’s blood transfusion even though it’s the only thing that will save his life. He reveals he during his time as an adventurer, he didn’t go globetrotting. Instead he became a slave at Mariejois and hoped his crew will never reveal this to anyone else. All the hatred stays in this room. The new generations must be free of this. So Tiger dies and Arlong became enraged and went on a killing till spree till he is apprehended by the marines. As painful as it may seem, to protect Tiger’s pride and reputation, they let humans take the credit for killing Tiger.

Otohime continues her petition campaign as Jimbei leaves the Sun Pirates to join Shichibukai to protect his kind. As his position as one of the warlords, Jimbei frees Arlong and though they both fight, they can’t kill each other due to the bond they have. From then on, Jimbei, Arlong and Macro went their separate ways to form their own crew and the Sun Pirates disbanded. And that’s how Arlong ended up becoming a nightmare in Nami’s life. A Tenryuubito docks at Fishman Island and like the arrogant bastards they are, thinks he is superior despite his pathetic condition. He even takes Otohime hostage to get what he wants. If not for Otohime’s plea, the citizens would’ve just killed that bastard. Which I think would’ve been ideal because nobody has to know about what happened to this f*cker. It was then when young Shirahoshi in a panic unknowingly unleash her call to summon Sea Kings to save her mother. Decken saw her powers and sets her sights on marrying her. That’s because he realizes her legendary mermaid powers to control Sea Kings. Something which his descendents have been trying to obtain but failed. So Otohime decides to leave for the surface with the Tenryuubito to negotiate and assures her people she will be back. After days and nights of worrying, Otohime returns with much good news. Tenryuubito has agreed to her cause and she even has signed papers from them as proof. By this time, her people have opened their hearts and willing to put down their signatures. While the petition is picking up steam, suddenly the box of papers goes up in flames and during the commotion to put them out, Otohime is shot! Her sons are furious but she wants them not to be angry on her behalf. Because Shirahoshi is unaware of her powers and thus unable to control them, she hopes her sons will protect her. They calm down and vow to do just that (I guess that’s how Manboshi and Ryuboshi’s catchphrase came about to soothe Shirahoshi’s heart). Her final request before her death is not for them to hate her assassin but to continue to achieve their goal to live together. The assassin turns out to be a drunk human and is executed on the spot by Hordy who was then part of Neptune’s royal army.

Back in present time, we should realize that Hordy is much more dangerous than Arlong because the latter will never hurt his fellow fishmen no matter how much he hates humans. But Hordy is different and will kill his own kind to achieve his own ends. Soon Hordy broadcasts he will kill any fishmen who have any associates with humans and will execute Neptune in 3 hours. He easily threatens his fellow fishmen by reading out names from the signed petition. Those names are on his hit list. He’s going to read them all out? And why are the fishmen showing so much panic just when their names are read? I thought fish have backbones… Luffy wants to go rescue his mates who are trapped at Ryuugu Palace but Jimbei doesn’t want him to rush in. I mean, Luffy fell asleep during the entire flashback! I don’t think we have another time for another explanation. So the 2 loggerheads prepare to fight each other. Meanwhile Zoro and the rest can’t wait for their crew to rescue them. It’ll be kingdom come since the place will be filled with water soon. So Brook uses his new technique of temporarily removing his soul from his body to find Papagg and rescue them. If only that starfish don’t get freak out by a ghost. Well, Brook is after all dead in the first place. Hordy is making his way to the plaza to execute Neptune. He eats more Energy Steroids and this turns him into an even more badass villain with super badass strength and power. See, eating too much steroids will turn your black hair white. And your eyes evil red too. I thought he looked like an albino case. The princes and the royal army arrive at the plaza to fight Hordy and his generals but are no match. They’re on steroids too. Now the princes add to their collection of hostages. And those dumb citizens could only watch in horror and do nothing. Hey, what else could they do? Meanwhile dejected Decken plans to destroy the entire Fishman Island.

Jimbei, Shirahoshi and Megalo are seen leaving Sea Forest to the plaza. But they got caught. Great. More addition to their hostages. This is too easy. Sharley tells Hordy that it is Luffy who will destroy this island, not him. Hordy is not amused and shoots his water bullet at her. Now for the ultimate revelation. Jeng jengjeng! He reveals he is the one who assassinated Otohime. Surprised? I actually saw this coming so I wasn’t. Honest. Hordy fooled a drunk human pirate to burn the petition papers then as a distraction. That was when Hordy fired his shot. The stupid pirate was pestering Hordy for his reward and conveniently got what he deserved. Yup, he got killed and framed for Otohime’s murder. However Shirahoshi is not surprised and has known this for several years. Megalo was the sole witness of this incident and told her about it (we don’t understand shark tongue, do we?). She never revealed it to anybody because she kept her promise to Otohime to not bring hatred to others. It’s time for the execution so Hordy tortures the king and princes. The citizens are so distressed that they are calling of Luffy’s name to beat the crap out of this Hordy dude. Yeah, so desperate that their logic has been twisted in the sense if their island is going to be destroyed anyway, they want Straw Hat Pirates to do it. Hahaha… Before Hordy could kill Neptune, Luffy jumps out of Megalo’s mouth. When everybody else fails to touch Hordy, Luffy does it easily when he lands a kick right at that baddy’s chest. This was part of Jimbei’s plan to make Luffy the island’s hero but knowing he won’t sit still, that’s why they knock him out and hide him in Megalo’s mouth. Nami’s invisibility has her steal the keys to free the royal family and have the king and the princes flee the scene. Remember when the citizens wanted Luffy to be the one to crush their island? Well, now he’s here, they’re asking him if he is friend or foe. Duh!!! Luffy’s answer: It’s for you to decide!

With all the Straw Hat Pirates reuniting as one again, the final fight is at hand. Luffy couldn’t care less if Hordy became the king of whatever country. But if he wants to be the King of Pirates, then he better think again. It’s like declaring war to him. It is he who will be the King of Pirates. Hordy is confident that his 70,000 armed New Fishman Pirates along with 30,000 enslaved human pirates will be enough to end this. I mean, 100,000 villains against only 10 (Straw Hat Pirates + Jimbei)? Folks, now you’re going to see what quality over quantity means. Half of the pack charge and Luffy uses his Haki to knock them unconscious!!! 50,000 baddies just gone like that! Freaking awesome!!! Surprised? You better be? And get ready to get your asses kicked big time! So our big time battle as we see no matter what kind of tricks Hordy’s men unleash, our heroes will do it better with their new techniques. Like Zoro’s Black Rope Dragon Twister, Sanji’s Sky Walk (he can now walk in air because of his desperate attempt to escape those gay guys back at Kamabakka), Robin’s giant pair of stomping feet and what is Straw Hat Pirates without Franky’s outrageous new inventions. Yeah, a rhinoceros motorbike, a Brachiosaurus tank and finally a combination of this two into a giant size Franky called Iron Pirate! Super! Hordy orders reluctant Kraken to kill Shirahoshi because he has been holding his brother’s life at gunpoint so Kraken has no choice but to oblige. But when Luffy offers to save his brother’s life because they’re friends, it was enough for Kraken to defect. Now he is protecting Shirahoshi in Luffy’s place while he goes to kick Hordy’s butt. See, it’s good to make friends everywhere. Yeah, Luffy is untouchable! Go, Luffy go! Show ’em what you’re made off! However the short bout with Hordy is put to stop when suddenly the giant legendary Noah Ark is seen crashing into the island. It is Decken and he is going to destroy everything by smashing it into the island. Shirahoshi isn’t going to be a cry-baby coward anymore and swims up so that the ark will approach towards her instead of her people. Instead of being useless fish, for once they try to be helpful. Even if it seems bloody absurd that the whole bunch tries to hold down the chains to let Shirahoshi get away, it’s not really working. It’s like ants trying to hold back an airplane. Get it?

Hordy has jumped aboard the chains and making his way to the top so he fires his water bullet to send those pathetic citizens crashing to the floor below. Luffy may be in a bubble but underwater, Hordy is much faster. This is after all the fishman’s domain. He could’ve died in the sea water if not for Fukaboshi coming to his rescue. So it’s a high speed underwater chase and be careful of Hordy’s sharp fins. It can slice through anything! Shirahoshi continues to swim upwards. Gee, is she going to swim 10,000 metres all the way up to the surface? Once more she rejects Decken so he is going to kill her so that she will eternally live in his heart as his wife. Thankfully Manboshi and Ryuboshi are in time to protect their dear sister and won’t let that sicko do as he pleases. Hordy thinks he can finish Luffy off anytime so he abandons his fight for now and meets Decken on the deck. He stabs him for his betrayal. What happens to the ark when he’s dead? Free fall!

So just as Luffy begins his fight with Hordy, Luffy’s crew also begin their fight against Hordy’s generals. I guess this is the part where they can show us their much improved skills like Sanji now being able to walk on air (honed during his escape bid those gay guys on that gay island), Chopper doesn’t lose control of himself when he turns into a giant monster and Franky packs a couple of mean robots. Luffy better hurry and defeat Hordy because with Decken now totally out cold, the ark is inching closer down to the island. So we got some citizens panicking wanting to evacuate and some trying to be a hero and stay because they believe in Luffy. Seriously? Like they can do anything useful but watch with baited breathe. Then the ultimate revelation of what Hordy’s true form is… He is a monster born from the environment of fishman’s resentment and hatred towards human. Huh? So is he a spiritual thingy or what? I don’t know. I find this hard to believe. Maybe they’re talking in a metamorphic way because I thought it would be easier to believe if they were unfortunate kids scarred and traumatized seeing all the bloodshed towards their own people and grew up unable to shake that hatred away. So this Hordy and co fear that the hatred towards humans will fade and thus became evil and don’t want peace for their people. Whatever.

The fight reaches its climax when Luffy unleashes his Red Hawk move on Hordy and despite the latter eating more Energy Steroids to increase his strength (and his hideous monstrosity looks), we all know that Luffy will emerge the victor in the end because after all that hard repetitive pummelling, which living thing can actually still be conscious? With Luffy’s crew also rounding up all of Hordy’s generals, the focus falls on (no pun intended) preventing the ark from crushing the island. During the fight, a giant bubble was successfully puffed all over the ark. Though this slows the ark’s fall, it still doesn’t dispel the fact that it will crush the island. So how is Luffy going to stop it? He is destroying the ark with his Elephant Gattling! If only the ark wasn’t that big. And it looks like he hardly made any impact after all that punching. But still he is not giving up. Shirahoshi can’t stand anymore of Luffy’s pain (partly injured during the fight with Hordy) so when she screams, she inadvertently summons a group of Sea Kings. They haul up the ark and pull it away. Their existence is to serve Shirahoshi and she can call upon them whenever she needs them.

Luffy is not out of danger yet because he has lost lots of blood. Because of his rare blood type, only fishman and mermaids can help donate blood. And guess what? They’re still afraid of being persecuted of some old law if they help humans. Gee, that’s the thanks they give after Luffy saved their island from being flat. Thanks guys. You really helped show your true colours. So the only one brave enough to step up and donate his blood is Jimbei. The transfusion is successful and Luffy offers him to join his crew. He can’t. For now. He needs to settle something first and in the future if this option is still open, he’ll gladly join. After a hard fought battle, it’s time for celebrations as the Straw Hat Pirates are given a rousing welcome, lots of delicious food and underwater entertainment. Amidst the party, we learn several developments like Shirahoshi is supposed to be one of the 3 ancient weapons that will destroy the world. Ever since Sengoku resigned during the great battle with White Beard, Akainu and Aokiji fought a close battle over that position. In the end, Akainu is the victor and since Aokiji couldn’t accept his style of rule, he quits the navy. Blackbeard has replaced White Beard’s position as one of the Yonkou and is running wild in the New World, searching for strongest Devil Fruit users so he can extract and use their powers. Hordy and his generals are still alive though thrown into prison but the effects of the Energy Steroids mean that they turn into old feeble grandpas. I guess they can only give lip service about their threatening returning. So people, please remember. Don’t do drugs. Then we have that sinister Caribou guy after eavesdropping about that ancient weapon thingy, his greedy side got the better of him so he releases all the mermaids he kidnapped (which frees the accusation towards Straw Hat Pirates) and starts ransacking the palace of all its treasure (everybody is away partying with the human heroes). Neptune didn’t mind the treasures taken because the lives of his citizens are more important. Of course, Nami gets permission to get them if she finds them and the money faced woman sends Luffy, Zoro and Sanji to track Caribou down. Let’s say they easily beat him up and got all back all the treasure he stole.

From one problem to another. With the Fishman Island just being saved, here comes another big issue. Ever since White Beard’s demise, Fishman Island is under the protection of Big Mom, one of the Yonkou. However she is holding the island at ransom because if they don’t feed her with sweets and candies, the island is as good as destroyed. And during Hordy’s attack, the candy factory is destroyed. Big Mom’s underlings, Pekoms and Baron Tamago are here to collect their ‘payment’ because some tea party is due in a few days. They couldn’t care about their circumstances and if the desired candies aren’t delivered, they will face Big Mom’s wrath. Of course Luffy overhears all that. Pekoms and Baron Tamago know Big Mom’s anger when she doesn’t get her sweets and they know it’s definitely her on the line (because she got wind that she won’t be getting her favourite sweets from Fishman Island). So who is going to pick up that call? Luffy! This guy doesn’t know the meaning of fear and death. Luffy won’t have the island destroyed again since he just saved it and is willing to give all the treasures in exchange. But Big Mom won’t budge despite her underlings would gladly take them and buy her sweets along the way back. Because of this, Big Mom shifts her target to Luffy and his crew in place of Fishman Island and wants him to come to the New World. Good. Luffy thinks of going there too. Because he is going to kick her butt and claim Fishman Island as his own territory. Once more, Fishman Island is saved. Luffy eventually gives the treasures to Pekoms and Baron Tamago. The latter duo leave but are intercepted by Caribou who wants his treasures back. Let’s say he got easily defeated again. Didn’t even put up much of a fight. Also, one of the treasures is called Tamate Box and inside it is laced with traps. Guess what will happen if somebody opens it? Maybe Big Mom will be the first victim. Jimbei thinks of cutting ties with Big Mom and we see a ruthless Marine group called G-5 led by Smoker and Tashigi apprehending human pirates who have just escaped Hordy’s slavery and resurfacing in the New World.

And just like in One Piece fashion, they have to dedicate one entire episode for them to say goodbye. Yeah, goodbye here. Goodbye there. Thank you here, thank you there. Please come back again. We’ll be waiting. I promise. We promise. You know the drill. So what about that premonition about Sharley seeing Luffy destroying the island? Though it’s good to know that she won’t be relying on her crystal ball anymore (because she broke it), but it doesn’t mean that her premonition has failed for the first time. It is noted that it maybe a year later or 10 years later. So don’t discount the fact that it really hasn’t come true. But for now, every fishman and mermaid would love to believe in their heroes. Before setting sail to the New World, Nami is given a new Log Pose to navigate the treacherous seas. This Log Pose has 3 needles because due to the change in the island’s magnetic field, the path to it may just disappear or change and cause them to get lost. So it’s better to have several directions of the islands pinpoint. Leaving the island and riding up won’t be easy too. First they’ve got to put up with Sea Kings that want to eat them, getting washed away in some underwater hurricane and being led up by a pod of whales that remind them so much of Laboon. So it’s not all smooth sailing once they resurface in the New World because it is stormy with rough waves and ferocious winds. If that is not enough, they bump into a fleet of Marines. It just keeps getting worse, eh? Or to them, it just keeps getting better.

One Pissed…
Looks like it’s not going to end anytime soon as I feared. Just like how Bleach surprised me early this year by ending its run, there is a faint hope that this series may get the same treatment too. But it is not likely going to happen since this is a very popular series around the globe so I doubt they are going to end this anime. I could have easily just stopped watching but there is a mysterious force which attracts and compels me to sit and watch this show every week. So I guess despite my complaints of how long and draggy this show can be at times, it still proves to be an enjoyable and fascinating watch. So for the past one year, the main focus was still on Fishman Island and I think this one will last a little longer since it is one of those important arcs that have some connection to some of the Straw Hat Pirates crew. And finally after over one year, they have finally made their move to the New World. Remember, we’re still at halfway point from the end where Gold Roger hid his ultimate treasure. So for the time being, the many other characters we have seen so far are not given much prominence or appearance yet like some of the higher ranked marines, the other pirates (remember Blackbeard) and those Super Nova rookie pirates (the last time I remember, some of them got pawned in the New World).

So as far as this one over year is concerned, besides the battles and the typical comical bits, it was interesting and refreshing to see the total change in the Straw Hat Pirates crew. As compared to their previous looks, they also have this maturity exuding their appearance and one look you can tell they’re not to be messed with. They certainly have powered up and no longer the ‘weak’ selves they were 2 years ago. Now they can take on even more powerful enemies when they cross over to the other half of the Grand Line. Yeah, more characters, more terms and more plots as we go along. Everything just keeps increasing, eh? As always, the same thing that irks me off in this series is the herd mentality and cowardice of the ordinary people. The fishmen are no different. It’s getting tiring to see them lose all their confidence in just a snap of a finger like as though they never knew the word ‘hope’ before. And when they think the tides are turning, all of a sudden they get their confidence back and cheer on for the heroes. Unless something unexpected happen to them (say, they get hit by a powerful shot whatsoever), then it’s back to glooms-ville once more. I guess whether you are humans or some other species in this anime, the general common people want to live a peaceful life. Then once in a while, you need a despicable villain to shake things up and spice up their boring lives so that a hero could come save the day. So for the case of the fishmen, they were afraid to get their hands dirty or take responsibility to take the first step in promoting equality and peace with humans. I mean, they’re comfortably living down 10,000 metres deep so why bother wanting to go up to the surface where injustice and discrimination awaits? Well, why be a frog in a well when you can explore the vast unknown? And when Otohime died, it’s like they cry-father-cry-mother. Too late. When she’s alive, you people weren’t that appreciative of her efforts. I doubt that even if Luffy and his crew emerge victorious, it is going to be a long time before humans and fishmen could really walk side by side putting their arms around each shoulder. That will take generations. With bastards like Tenryuubito still around, that dream will still be very distant. Man, I really like to see them all dead. Believe me, the world would be a better place without them. What order? I don’t give a sh*t about that (just like Luffy).

The other great thing about this year is the latest opening theme song. We Go by Hiroshi Kitadani tries to emulate the same excitement and beat that we first heard as the first opening song sung by that same guy too when we are introduced to the world of One Piece. It’s not a bad piece actually but if you ask me, I still prefer We Are better. It’s probably that song has been around for over a decade and from time to time when I feel like it, I’ve been humming it in my head so the charm of We Are is definitely still there. But given a few more times, I’m sure We Go will be as epic as We Are. Though there aren’t really any fillers for this year, there is only one and as far as I remember, it is that second collaboration with Toriko. Yup, that show that has that muscular titular character going around the world facing off with weird creatures somehow relating to food to find the best food and create his ultimate dinner course. So for that particular filler, we have characters from both sides of the series coming in together to find the food that would cure and save Chopper’s life before time runs out. Be careful what you eat and not pick up and eat anything you find on the ground. I’m sure if Luffy wasn’t a pirate, in an alternate dimension he would’ve been a globetrotting foodie hunter and devoured the world’s supply of food. Yeah, I don’t know what kind of stomach he has. Maybe he needs to take in more brain food and less meat. Like that will help.

So till the next time, like I have always said for an anime like this with a very long journey that has no end in sight yet, it is the journey that counts and not the destination. What is the real One Piece and if it is really at the end of Grand Line is anyone’s guess. I really thought that someone should just start from the other end to reach the final island where Gold Roger supposedly hid that ultimate treasure. Unless the world is flat. Not! Of course like I said, it’s the journey and not the destination. Thus I’ll still be sticking around to watch this series and I am confident that it is the timeless and classic adventures that will reward me in the end. I hope it’s not a one piece t-shirt that says “I faced the dangers, endured testing times, put up with the risks and confronted the perilous challenges from islands to islands to reach this final place. And all I got was this stupid t-shirt…”. That will be just super disappointing.

Saki: Episode of Side A

December 1, 2012

Erm… Again, please tell what is riichi, kan or pon? It seems I haven’t learnt much from the last time I watched that mahjong themed Saki but that didn’t stop me from watching the sequel spin-off, Saki: Episode of Side A or also known as Saki: Achiga Hen. As the title suggests, the main focus of the mahjong school club here isn’t Kiyosumi and despite the titular character in the series’ name, she only makes periodic appearances. Instead, we are focused on the Achiga School’s mahjong club which has been in the doldrums for so many years. I guess this makes the perfect setting for sports anime whereby dark horses and no hopers will suddenly pop out of nowhere and beat the veteran favourites to reach the Nationals.

In the original Saki series, Kiyosumi’s Nodoka has a few friends of her own and has transferred schools so frequently that sometimes you think it is part of her destiny. Just kidding. But it’s true that Nodoka had to leave behind her mahjong friends during her middle school years at Achiga due to circumstances. The only thing they had in common that connected them? You should’ve already guessed it: Mahjong. So when her friends see the mahjong prodigy on TV, they decide that they should go meet her again. Of course a normal meeting wouldn’t suffice so it has to be one whereby it will be through a game of mahjong tournament. But to do that, they have to beat the local mahjong powerhouse of Bansei in their prefecture before they can go anywhere near that goal. And thus begins Achiga’s quest to reach the Nationals to see their beloved friend and in the process, we see them bond, improve their skills and defy all odds just for that simple thing called friendship. I didn’t know mahjong can do that.

Episode 1
In this flashback episode, Shizuno Takakamo and Ako Atarashi make friends with new transfer student Nodoka Haramura. Because Nodoka isn’t as physically fit as the duo, they ask what her good points are besides studying. Her reply? Mahjong. So the elementary kids make their way to Achiga Girls’ Middle School’s children mahjong club. Despite the club being abandoned, it is filled with kids learning to play mahjong. OMG. Future gamblers. They introduce her to Harue Akado who is a college student but coaches children on mahjong. Akado sees a bright future in her. In her boobs. Eek! Well, at least Nodoka is very well endowed for her age. They play a demo match and find Nodoka to be quite good so they call in Kuro Matsumi, supposedly the best of the lot. Yeah, she too is sexually harassing Nodoka over her big boobs. Anyway Nodoka cannot believe the superstition that all the dora hand goes to Kuro. It must be coincidence. Still think it is after 10 straight times? Soon the gang enjoy their time together from playing mahjong and to simple outings. One day Nodoka asks about Akado. Why is she putting up mahjong classes here? Shizuno explains the strongest school in this Nara prefecture is Bansei High School. They breezed through every prefectural tournament every year except only once. That was 6 years ago when they were beaten by Achiga’s mahjong club and the star of that team was no other than Akado herself. But if Akado was so good, why didn’t she continue playing at higher levels instead of teaching mahjong classes? Well, though Achiga was on a roll that year, they only got to the semi-finals whereby Akado lost a huge number of points and lost. Because of the trauma, she couldn’t play mahjong for a while and slowly the other members left or graduated and the club was abandoned. So those who really want to play mahjong around here will have to join Bansei. But Nodoka is puzzled if this class is some sort of a rehab for Akado, wouldn’t she be going back to play actively once she’s ‘healed’. Shizuno refuses to admit that Akado is still hurt. But if she does, it’ll get lonely around here.

As the friends talk about Achiga’s school uniform, Ako says she thinks of going to Ada Middle School. Usually kids who go there will end up in Bansei. Then they see Akado talking to someone from the corporate team. Seems she is being scouted to play mahjong again. Soon the girls have a farewell party and the Achiga’s mahjong classes fold up. As time passes, with Akado and Ako not showing up anymore, Nodoka drops another bombshell. Due to her mother’s job she will be transferring to another school by spring. I guess it’s going to get lonelier. A few years down the road, energetic Shizuno is a third year of Achiga Girls’ Middle School. One day to her shock, she saw Nodoka winning the middle school mahjong individual tournament. She calls Ako and expresses her desire to play mahjong. However they can’t play in middle school anymore because they’re already at the end of it. Shizuno is still adamant of playing via Achiga even though there is no mahjong club. Ako tries to be realistic so furious Shizuno slams down her phone. Shizuno rushes back to the abandoned mahjong room and finds it clean. Looks like Kuro has been cleaning it ever since Akado left because she knew somebody would come back here. She also had the same feelings with Shizuno to play mahjong together. Shizuno dreams big of wanting to play at the Nationals and is confident will meet Nodoka there. However they need 5 people to officially form a club. They got their third member in the name of Ako. Yeah, she wants to play here too because if they play together, they can face Nodoka together. Let’s aim for the Nationals!

Episode 2
Kuro brings her friends to her house to introduce to the club’s fourth member: Yuu, her elder sister. She’s a weirdo because he likes sticking under the kotatsu despite it’s the hot summer. Maybe she’s really afraid of the cold. Yuu is happy and expresses how she always wanted to join them ever since elementary school but she was in middle school then and felt like she couldn’t. I guess she got her chance now. Talking about getting the fifth member, Kuro thinks of asking her classmate Arata Sagimori. From the way Kuro explains, it’s like she’s a mahjong genius (a toddler playing with adults? What happens if the big boys lost? Shameful isn’t it?) and was a big fan of Akado despite never turning up for her classes. Kuro goes to meet Arata (her family runs a bowling alley) for that favour. But she mentions she has stopped playing mahjong ever since Akado stopped. The reason why she didn’t want to attend her classes was because she doesn’t want to see Akado being surrounded pathetically by kids when she should be out there playing in the big league with pride and dignity. Apparently she didn’t keep up with the times because Kuro explains Akado is playing for a corporate team now. That interests you? Well, feel free to drop by the mahjong club then. Flashback reveals when Arata first met Akado and nervously congratulated on her awesome play. Akado gave her necktie instead of an autograph (because her handwriting sucks). But that was the last time Akado played. Arata wasn’t too impressed she fell from grace and is still keeping that tie. But that didn’t keep her from checking out Achiga’s mahjong club and just lists her name as a filler.

Akado is being picked up by her old friend, Nozomi. They talk about Akado’s team disbanding and her company not doing well. They return to Achiga for nostalgia and to their surprise, see some activity in the mahjong club. The girls are surprised to see her too. Learning that they want to participate in the inter-high tournament, Akado expresses her wish to join them. As a coach. Arata is not amused because she should’ve stayed in the big league. Akado explains her team was doing well this year but lost in the play-offs for Japan’s best. She couldn’t play her best and her team lost and were disbanded. In important and critical situations, she can’t help remember the inter-high tournament 9 years ago and felt she left something back at the semi-finals then. If she can experience this tournament again, she might be able to get it back. With that, they all get fired up to work their way to the Nationals. Akado even declines an offer from another corporate team just to be the club’s advisor. With spring arriving, the club gets on their way. The girls decide to only enter in the team tournament because they don’t feel the togetherness if they play individually. Akado warns them about Bansei and will be their biggest obstacle to the Nationals. But they are filled with hope because they have a person with them who once beat them despite the overwhelming odds. Thus Akado plays mahjong with them to their hearts content to level up. One night when Shizuno and Ako come out from the convenience store, Ako sees her old middle school mahjong club friend, Hatsuse Okahashi who is now in Bansei. She is not happy Ako didn’t go to Bansei and thought she went to Achiga to a school whose mahjong club that hasn’t been active for years to secure a regular spot in the regular team. She reminds them about Bansei’s strength and she herself didn’t even make it to warming up the bench and was just a support on the sidelines. Ako is confident they can turn things around at Achiga because they have a ‘trump card’. Hatsuse realizes who that trump card is and reports to her senpai, Yae Kobashiri. But she is not worried because in the store, she saw Shizuno’s fingers all bruised and thinks she’s an amateur and is confident that noobs will never beat her. You know what they say about pride comes before a fall?

Episode 3
The Achiga mahjong girls get ready to face their first round opponents. Oh no! It’s Bansei! It’s like an early final, eh? Well, sooner or later they’ll have to face them so what better timing than now. Look at how intimidating and prideful those Bansei players are. So first up is Kuro as she stuns everyone by taking a lead. The rest of the girls do well to protect this lead and Shizuno seals it by winning! OMG! FREAKING F*CKING FAST MATCH!!! I guess their individual introduction was somewhat redundant now, eh? The fearsome Bansei defeated in just seconds. See how they cower in disbelief! It’s like the end of the world for them! You know what they say about the bigger and harder they fall. Looks like they won’t be making their 10th straight National appearance. Even more fast forwarding because the next thing we know, Achiga has already made it to the Nationals! The girls flip through the newspaper to see Nodoka’s school, Kiyosumi of Nara prefecture has also made its debut at the Nationals. They can’t wait to meet her. Akado suggests having a training camp and due to change in the rules, those who made it to the Nationals are allowed to play practice matches with any of the other prefecture’s runners up. Well, they got 7 weeks before the Nationals start. But guess which school they want to play first? Yeah. The runner up in Nagano. So Akado drives them all the way to Ryuumonbuchi. Ah, those nostalgic memories. Remember those weirdoes back in Ryuumonbuchi? The rich obnoxious Touka, the ‘monster’ Koromo, the tomboyish Jun, the bespectacled Tomoki and the handcuffed Hajime (though she wasn’t cuffed here). Shizuno plays against Koromo and lost. Now she knows how fearsome she is. But Koromo says it wasn’t Nodoka who played and beat her (if you watch the original series, it was Saki).

At the end of their ‘tour’, they beat every other runner up team except Ryuumonbuchi. They also not the one player they couldn’t beat: Kei Arakawa from North Osaka’s Sangamaki. She came in second in the individual tournament in last year’s Nationals so if they can’t beat her, it means they aren’t good enough to win the Nationals. However since Sangamaki is runner up in North Osaka prefecture, the top team there is Senriyama. So what else better way there is than to improve their team power with more training camp for 10 days? So the girls play hard, have fun hard and sleep hard. Oops, I mean sleep well. On the day the Achiga girls are to leave for Tokyo (where the Nationals take place), their school sees them off and even Hatsuse wishes Ako all the best. When they take a break during their journey at a lake park, the girls see another girl in a school uniform, Toki Onjouji collapsing. Thinking it is heatstroke, they rush to her aid but her friend, Ryuuka Shimizudani helps her up instead. Maybe she was just hungry. They chat a while and what is your guess when they say they are participating in a school club event? Let me guess. They’ll be their next opponent too, right? If not somewhere along the way. The duo leave since their friends are calling them. When Akado returns to her girls, she recognizes that school uniform: Senriyama. Second ranked in the country, fourth seeded at the inter-high tournament and the best school in Kansai. Wow. Don’t let that fool you. See what happened to Bansei? In Tokyo and at the hall, Arata as the leader of the group (because of her calm composure) goes up to take their place via lottery. Then while walking in the hallway, they suddenly felt a monstrous aura from ahead. Isn’t that girl’s uniform from Kiyosumi! Oh sh*t! But she’s not Nodoka. She’s Saki! What’s with her red glowing eyes?!

Episode 4
Taking a look at the tournament bracket, looks like there won’t be an early final because Kiyosumi is at the other end of the table. The only place they’ll meet is at the final. And before they reach there, they have to play the killer team of Shiraitodai in their half (supposedly the strongest school in Japan where Saki’s ‘unhuman’ sister, Teru came from). Akado won’t let the girls go sightseeing and will have them watch videos of their opponents to research and analyze their school. Bummer. Later Akado meets her coach, Toshi Kumakura (the old lady who scouted her) and she is impressed she took her team all the way to the Nationals at first go. She asks if she ever wanted to go pro. She notes she has been receiving offers but wants to see the girls go through before she does that. Match day arrives and we see Kuro as the first player of Achiga facing off with Nagi Shinmen from Sanomo of Okayama (can she bring a pair of samurai swords into the room?! IS THIS ALLOWED?!), Manami Moriai from Urabandai’s Fukushima and Yuzuki Teramasaki from Imizusougou representing Toyama. As the match begins, Kuro’s fond nostalgic memories in reaching the Nationals are ruined when Yuzuki shakes her up with some move. Kuro seems to be losing points in the initial rounds and this baffles the commentators why she is throwing away such good hands. Not that I understand either. But from what I see, when she gets and accumulates her dora hands, she got back more points in the end than she lost in the initial rounds. It’s like making a comeback. So the only thing I understand is that commentators call Kuro the Dragon Road because of her tendency to draw dora hands – that word which is derived from the English word ‘dragon’ and it means the dragons like you if you get lots of dora. Okay, I don’t get that part either. But it’s better than all those mahjong moves. Meanwhile Senriyama have 2 days before their match so they have the luxury of going sightseeing before watching videos of their opponent’s match. They watch Achiga’s match and Ryuuka recognizes Kuro and gets excited. When Achiga wins and advances to the next round, Ryuuka gets even more excited and will support her team. Aren’t they going to play against them next? Oh… In that case, she’s not sure who to cheer… Of course the other Senriyama girls aren’t fazed and are confident Achiga won’t be a match for them. Why do losing opponents always talk and act like that? I guess this is must for sports anime, eh? So for the second round, Achiga is pitted against Koshigaya from Saitama (why do the girls here wear weird headgear?), Kentani of Hyougo and of course Senriyama. Except for seeded Senriyama who is a ‘veteran’, the rest are ‘newcomers’ in terms of appearance in this round. When Kuro steps into the room, she is greeted by Toki.

Episode 5
Toki has a dream. The kind of dream that has us find out a little more about her past. She’s a sick girl with a weak body who just came out of the hospital. Ryuuka made it as a regular in her mahjong team and Shiraitodai bulldozed their way and won. Ryuuka invites Toki to go to the Nationals with her. So the first match of the quarter-finals is about to begin. Besides Toki for company, Kuro will have Koshigaya’s Sophia Arai and Kentani’s Miyuki Tsubakino. Because Toki is a relatively new player, there are no past data on her match play. But Senriyama has already analyzed Kuro’s playing style so Toki can anticipate what kind of tiles she will pull off as Kuro’s hand is easy to read. Toki draws first blood to stun the rest. But the commentators are puzzled why Toki and Kuro are putting out weird tiles instead of going for higher value ones. Flashback reveals why Kuro doesn’t discard her dora for other tiles. Whenever she discarded them, she won’t get a single one for the next few days. Her late mom used to tell her to value her doras. It soon became natural that she felt the doras were coming to her. So as the match progresses, more analyzing sh*t that I can’t comprehend. Toki seems to be targeting and taking points off Kuro. The analyzer concludes Toki has this ability to look one turn ahead in the future! It’s like almost predicting the future. But it sometimes backfires. And when Toki calls a riichi that she doesn’t do so, something fearsome happens. I’m not sure what because I don’t understand. But she’s taking points from others like nobody’s business and calling riichis in a row. Toki’s health is taking her toll so the others decide to strike and play fast. But Toki ends the match with a huge lead for Senriyama while Achiga ends up rock bottom with most of their points taken. And you thought Toki would be the one who will be tired from her physical condition. But it’s the other girls who are ‘tired out’ instead! Man, she must be one heck of a killer. Kuro trudges back, still reeling from the shock of defeat. Yuu goes to fetch her and consoles her emotional sister. She vows to get back the lost points. Thus for the second match, Yuu will be facing Senriyama’s Izumi Nijou, Koshigaya’s Hanako Asami and Kentani’s Sumiko Yorifuji. Of course Senriyama has also analyzed Yuu’s playing style and something about her unbalanced draws. Despite Yuu having a somewhat similar ability to see which tiles are coming to her, Izumi notices her hands are easy to read too and will take this game home.

Episode 6
Another short flashback. This time about Yuu always getting bullied by the boys because of her tendency to wear scarf on such a hot day. Kuro was always there to save her so I guess that’s why Yuu feels it’s her turn to return the favour. Despite Yuu calling riichi first, Izumi decides to observe her play for a while. From Senriyama’s analysis, they figure Yuu has this tendency to hold on to certain tiles even if she has only one and not discard them. Something about she’ll end up with getting more of them later. Or maybe it’s because she felt those tiles are warm? But when they start to feel cold and Izumi makes her move, Yuu fears her playing style has been figured out. And when Izumi starts her winning streak, it is definitely they’ve got a hold of her playing style. But in one of the hands, Izumi had a bad feeling and true enough, Yuu got a sequence of triplets. The Senriyama girls analyze Yuu’s data again and realize there has been a misprofile. It’s not that she sticks to a certain character but tiles with red. In the end, their overall positions didn’t change. Senriyama increases its lead but Achiga closes the gap over the other 2 schools. Albeit only few points but it’s better than nothing. The Achiga girls refuse to dampen their spirits because this is the Nationals. This kind of play is expected. Just play their best. The third match sees Achiga’s Ako facing off against Senriyama’s Sera Eguchi, Koshigaya’s Shiori Mizumura and Kentani’s Kozue Furuzuka. Ako being Achiga’s best player starts off furiously and aggressively by winning as much points as she could. Hatsuse and Nozomi are watching Ako’s match and Hatsuse recalls the matches they played together when they were at Ada. It was just like yesterday they were both watching it on TV. Now she’s at the Nationals and Hatsuse herself still watching. Maybe she’ll be there next year? Who knows? Sera knows Ako is trying to dash ahead and knows she mustn’t be greedy. So instead of taking big points, Sera takes smaller points. The match becomes a fight predominantly between Achiga and Senriyama so much so that the other schools just sit out like as though they’ve been reduced to spectators. Though the match ends with Senriyama increasing their lead once more, Achiga has made up grounds that it is now in second place! So it may seem Senriyama is running away with the lead but the points separating the other schools are very close. It’s going to be a tough fight for second place. Arata steps up for her turn now. Why does she need to wear a bowler’s glove? I hope she won’t bowl over the mahjong tiles!

Episode 7
So Arata has got Senriyama’s Hiroko Funakubo (the main analyzer and ‘mad scientist’ of her school), Koshigaya’s Tamago Utsgui and Kentani’s Yuuka Morigaki. For once, it isn’t Senriyama or Achiga who draws first blood. That will be boring, right? Instead we have Yuuka calling riichi. Her comrades are confident Yuuka will get them to the semi-finals because as they note, sticking to tradition may not be good enough and they needed somebody unconventional. So that’s where Yuuka comes in. Her move puts Kentani back into second place, swapping with Achiga. As the fastest match (in terms of viewing time) of the series ends, Senriyama once more widens the lead. Hiroko seems to take an interest in Arata because of her unexplainable discards and weird habits. She views her as an interesting specimen to observe. Sure, it’s not that yuri feeling? So the final match puts Shizuno against Senriyama’s Ryuuka, Koshigaya’s Keiko Yagihara and Kentani’s Riko Yasufuku. Shizuno is confident that she’ll turn things around but she carelessly fell into Riko’s trap. Achiga is rock bottom once more but she refuses to give up. See that burning determination in her eyes. Yeah, nobody is going to stop her. To make a comeback, Shizuno needs some super hand. She thinks she has got it and will wait for that tile despite the risk of losing is high. True enough, that tile she wanted was discarded and couldn’t win it. They need a miracle now. I’m not sure what hand she must make but she has to hit Kentani with the points directly or else everything will be in vain. In the final hand, Yuuka in her discard was careless and this gives Shizuno the chance to make a clean hit on her. This means Achiga edged through to the semi-finals as the second placed team by the skin of their teeth! Amazing! So while Achiga deserves to celebrate but Akado throws caution to their victory. The gap between them and Senriyama was 90,000 points! What more, the semi-finals will feature Shiraitodai whom the press has labelled as favourites to take their third consecutive final. The other semi-finalist is Shindouji, the power house of Fukuoka prefecture. In short, they have no chance at winning at all. What a damper. But Shizuno is going to let this affect their mood and has the girls go out to eat ramen. On their way, they see Akado talking with Kumakura. They eavesdrop and to their horror hear that she is inviting Akado to turn pro and that having Achiga reach the semi-finals would look good on her resume. Akado will properly reply via email. Ako is devastated thinking she has been using them as a stepping stone. Plus, she did mention their written off chances. But Arata rubbishes that and still believes that Akado wouldn’t do such a thing. Kuro shouldn’t feel bad about herself throwing away the points. Suddenly they bump into something. No! Wait! Did they bump into a ghost?! Oh sh*t! Not exactly. Remember Tsuruga’s Momo? Yeah, that anti-existence girl. They remember her because of the recordings of the Nagano matches they watched previously.

Episode 8
Momo with Satomi take the Achiga girls back to the latter’s grandma place where they meet the rest of the Tsuruga counterparts and their captain, Yumi. Seeing that they want to improve (even if it’s impossible in a day), Yumi approves to play with them. Besides, this will be a good experience for her side too (there’s this rule that says individual players cannot play with others outside their school and since Achiga didn’t enter the individual tournament, I suppose this is not breaking the rules). They call over some of the Kazekoshi girls (Mihoko, Kana and Miharu). The Achiga girls are surprised with some of the moves they make and as Yumi said, though she has no weird power like Toki, she did analyze their playing styles and came up with her own strategy. More surprise in store with Kana pulling lots of riichi and Mihoko using her hidden eye power to see the hands of her opponents (since they’re going all out, there is no reason why she should hold back, right?). So with each game, Achiga gets really excited to play more. This is what Nodoka and her team went through to beat to the Nationals. Tough sh*t. Yeah, this is what the Nationals is all about. I’m sure they learnt lots of valuable lessons and hints. Next day, Achiga put that full day off to good use. They go to see Kei and have a practice match with her. Kei also has brought some of her friends along who are the best mahjong players in their area. I don’t know. They look like a bunch of cosplay girls. There’s one that looks like a zombie, one wearing a qipao, another looking like Otohime and another one that has this feel of a movie director. Heck, even Kei is in a nurse’s outfit. Walking back home, Shizuno wonders if Nodoka and her team had won her game but the rest thinks it’s better not to know for it may deflate their spirits if they find out she lost. Arata returns to her room and sees Akado reading her book. She seems unconcerned where the girls have been all day. Could it be? Arata’s believe in her is starting to waver. Keep it strong. Shizuno spots Kumakura outside and rushes down to see her. In tears of despair, she asks about Akado going pro. If she does, it’ll be hard on them. But Kumakura says she has rejected the offer because she wants to stick with the girls till the end. Only after the tournament she’ll think about her professional career. Now in tears of joy, Shizuno thanks her and rushes back to her friends to explain. But they’re still worried about the powerful school they’ll be facing. Screw that! They shouldn’t be thinking about how strong others are. They should believe in their own strength. Believe that you can make it all the way to the finals! So the first semi-final match is here. Kuro and Toki once again are the first players for their schools. And besides Kirame Hanada from Fukuoka, right off the bat they’ll be facing Teru from Shiraitodai. This is going to be explosive.

Episode 9
In the first round, Toki attacks first with her riichi and plummets Teru to the bottom of the table. But as mentioned by the commentators, in team tournaments she usually uses the early rounds to observe her opponents’ habits. So when the second round starts, Teru starts her monstrous streak winning hand after hand. Each win, the margin she gets grows bigger. Toki tries to use her one turn prediction but it didn’t work. As guessed by the others, it seems Teru’s prediction ability far surpasses Toki’s. I thought Kirame’s smile has jammed her face seeing she can’t stop smiling (maybe the trauma of the match did her in?) while Teru’s hand is just like a whirlwind when she pulls off her winning move. WTF. By this time, Teru has won her sixth straight match. This has Toki reflect her past. When she was discharged from hospital, Sera and Ryuuka told her she was being made the ace based on her recent performance. Toki thought Sera should be the ace seeing she is the best of the lot but she doesn’t mind if this makes the team is stronger than herself. Toki told them about her one turn prediction and if she reacts to it and changes her actions, she won’t be able to see anything for the next two rounds. Her friends are amazed by that ability and give her the encouragement that they’ll win. Toki notices Kirame trying to fight back despite getting pounded by Teru before. This made her remember how much fun it was playing with her friends. It doesn’t matter if she won or lost. She just loved touching those mahjong tiles. Toki plays into Kirame’s hand and the latter wins the round to break Teru’s streak. Albeit it is just small points but it’s better than letting Teru go on wining. They’ve got a mountain to climb since Shiraitodai has opened a gap of 50,000 points! Toki realizes that if she takes into account Kirame and Kuro, they can help stop Teru’s streak. Speaking of which, Kuro hasn’t really done anything yet, has she? She’s just sitting there feeling like she could turn into panic mode anytime. Toki uses her one turn prediction and tries to minimize the points Teru will win. However to her surprise, it didn’t work and Teru ends up back on the winning track, securing more points. Can anybody stop her? And can Kuro stop being such a worrywart being useless?

Episode 10
Nodoka wakes up from a dream that she met her Achiga friends. As the match continues, Kuro is close to breaking down. What do you expect your 1 day training miracle to work now? But Kuro notices something about Teru. She could’ve won easily from the tiles she threw away. The Achiga girls also realize this. As Ako explains, Teru often ignores a potential win and went on to win hands that worth more. That’s why people thought it’s her confidence as a champion. What if this isn’t her confidence but her weak point? At the end of the first round, Teru wins big and I guess the smiling just stopped from Kirame. During the break, the Achiga girls tell Kuro about Teru’s habit. Just like how she never throws away her dora, there must be times when this works to her disadvantage. For the second half of the game, though the seating arrangement has changed, Teru starts off with a bang and begins her winning streak. Again, each hand gets more and more expensive. Toki uses her prediction and it seems with each consecutive win as a dealer, each additional bonus increases her winnings even though Teru doesn’t rely on that. She predicts her next win will be at least 9,300 points. At this point Kuro is close to looking like a psychopath. She has so many dora hands but they’re not getting her anywhere. Toki predicts Kuro will be playing right into Teru’s hand and there is nothing she could do about it. True enough, it happened. Kuro is now like a zombie and Teru chalks up her sixth consecutive win. Exhaustion is taking its toll so Toki recalls that in addition to her one turn prediction, she can sometimes see two turns ahead if she concentrates very hard. So during club practice, she tries out this move and collapses. Though she is rushed to the infirmary and alright, Ryuuka doesn’t want her to use that move ever again. Well, as Toki reveals, she did practice that move secretly back home. By now, Shiraitodai leads by 100,000 points! Toki thinks she can pull off her two turns prediction and can handle it this time. After all, seeing one turn ahead isn’t going to be enough to stop this Shiraitodai monster.

Episode 11
Using her double predictions, she sees Kirame going out on a limb. Using that ability once more, she realizes Kirame is trying to help her out and uses this chance to call tsumo and puts an end to Teru’s winning streak. Toki is getting tired by the second. Even lifting the tile seems heavy. The Shindouji girls look at Kirame’s face and despite looking very calm, they feel she won’t last. Flashback shows us that the club president put Kirame as the first player as sacrifice. She knows that their school has never done well in the Nationals and each time they put their aces first, they get slaughtered. She’s speaking from experience. That’s why she decided to change the order to sacrifice the first player so that they other 4 will make up and fight back. Though Kirame overheard that painful conversation, she didn’t take it in bad light. Instead, she views it as an ability that the club needs her. That’s why she is going to be a sacrificial pawn and reduce the lost of points. Kirame doesn’t even know what she’s playing and is playing for the heck of fun, Toki is gradually tiring out and Kuro… Oh, she’s still a wreck. I’m glad that didn’t change. But I’m more worried about this one: Teru continues her winning streak and Toki seemingly ‘can’t see’ anymore. So much so she plays into Teru’s hand and since Teru is the dealer in this final round, she decides to continue the match and slaughter everyone till there is not a single drop of blood left! At this point, Shiraitodai has obtained over 200,000 points! Meanwhile Nodoka, Yuuki and Saki are running late to the tournament hall to watch the matches. However Saki felt her sister playing and tells her pals to go along first while she takes a breather outside. Toki dreams how her pals come up with a schedule taking turns doing stuff so that Toki could come along on their training camp. At least they had fun. Thankfully Toki didn’t pass out long enough because it’s her turn again. Teru shows no mercy and extends her lead by 130,000 points! Toki deduces Teru’s next win would be at least 18,600 points since her last was 12,300. Kirame also deduces at this rate somebody will go bust and the match will just end. In this case, Shindouji may just take second place and advance to the finals. Not so bad, eh? But Kirame is not going to make Teru let anyone go bust. Toki and Kirame confide with each other (telepathically?) that they’ve did their best in holding out. And that Kuro keeps hording the dora so the other hands were much easier to read. Toki is weakening and the tiles feel even heavier. But she is going to do the impossible. Do or die. She’s going to look three turns ahead! Toki, NOOOO!!!

Episode 12
Another flashback for the Senriyama girls. They friends have been together since middle school and dreamt of going to the Nationals. So when they enter high school, they get into intensive training and among them only Sera made it as a reserve them. But that was good enough. It’s amazing that Toki is still conscious after her triple prediction. She saw Teru calling a riichi and Kirame making a pon move. Then Toki does her triple prediction again. She is on the verge of collapsing but draws her inner strength to fight back the blackout. She saw Kuro making her move. Kuro’s pride means she can’t discard her dora. Due to that, Kirame calls a pon and Teru gets stronger (at least the whirlwind on her arm seems to indicate that). Then Kuro thinks back. She remembers how her friends at one point left her while she stayed back. But they returned though she doesn’t know if Nodoka will ever come back. Till now she has never chosen to go a separate way but in order to move forward, she’ll have to separate for now. Because even if they don’t come back, she’ll always be waiting. She throws away her dora and calls a riichi, surprising Teru and throwing perhaps her calculations off course because she never expected Kuro to do that based on her observation. I guess she never took into account about people surpassing expectations, eh? Toki and Kirame setup the tiles for Kuro to take the final win because Toki already saw the tile Teru is going to take will be Kuro’s winning hand. In the end, Kuro gets her first win and takes a walloping 16,600 points! The match is over and Toki collapses for real this time. She says she’s faking it? Hah. That’s really bad acting if that’s the case. She is rushed to the ambulance with her comrades by her side. But she leaves it to Izumi for the next round. As for out Achiga girls, as they’re preparing for the next round, Shizuno unexpectedly meets Nodoka in the hallway (she is here to watch the match but the hall was full)! It has been 3 years since. Shizuno says they’re going to be playing in the final round but Nodoka can’t make such promise and will do her best to get there. So as Yuu makes her way to the hall, the second match is about to begin.

Mahjong Is Not For The Faint Hearted!
What the hell?! This is how this spin-off sequel ended?! You’re damn right if I am feeling unsatisfied if not close to upset. I thought this would go on for around 26 episodes so when I read it was going to last for about a dozen episodes, I believed that there was going to be lots of fast forwarding and condensed parts. Well, some of it. I’m not sure if I should be happy when the announced that the semi-finals will be over in another 3 episodes. But the problem is, I couldn’t find out more information on how those final episodes will be released. Are they going to be in OVA format or air over television? Besides, what about the intervals? I am afraid they may be pulling off something like Bakemonogatari whereby the remainder of the episodes in the series were released at irregular intervals. But even when that is done, what about the finals? I can guess and speculate that 3 of the 4 teams that will be featured in the final would be Kiyosumi, Shiraitodai and Achiga. Based on storyline-wise. Remember Saki wants to meet her sister? At which earliest point in the tournament can she face her? The finals. Remember Shizuno and friends want to meet Nodoka? At which earliest point in the tournament can they face her? Right again. The finals. That’s why I can ‘see’ who will be taking up those final slots despite not reading the manga. And who might be this year’s champion? My bet is on Kiyosumi the underdog because it’s their anime series ;p. But we’ll leave that discussion for another time.

So for this season, I have to admit that I did not entirely enjoy everything because of the mahjong terms that I am still troubling to cope. For the record, I still did not even understand a single point scoring system and the terms! Look on the bright side. It means I am not going into mahjong because in the real world, that game is always associated with gambling and if you lose, you lose much more. Say, your life if the stakes are real high. Really. One reason why I will say that makes it enjoyable is the characters although due to the short duration of the episodes, we don’t really see them get fleshed out more. Each of the main characters and some of the supporting characters have their usual quirks and sometimes it makes them funny. For example, Yuu is always a person who wants to be kept warm. She really hates the cold so much so I thought she’s a dead person, a ghost or a zombie because no matter how many scarf or clothes she puts on, you can still see her shiver from the coldness. Is she that cold blooded? Funny indeed. Kirame’s ever-smiling face makes her funny and especially with her frequent trademark line “Marvellous!”, it probably shows she doesn’t really know what’s going on and is just playing for fun. Isn’t that what mahjong is supposed to be? Not like some high level tense competition that some uses supernatural prediction skills that could affect your health. Thus for the other girls at Achiga, even though I want to say that they are close and very well bonded to each other, I just can’t really feel that impact. The girls care and look out for each other and though you can pinpoint and tell that, I just don’t feel the intensity of their friendship. Akado is willing to put her professional career on hold till she sees the girls through whether they make it or not. Speaking of which, I wonder what was it that she left behind at her semi-final that made her unable to move on. Maybe will learn of that once everything is really over?

The other characters that appear in the original Saki series also make their cameo appearance and considering that this isn’t their stage, I guess it is fair they only have a few minutes of appearance. For our original Kiyosumi girls, sometimes I felt that their cameo appearance here and there serves as a teaser and a reminder that this is what Achiga’s goal is. As for some of the schools that come and go, I thought Kei would have made a more prominent appearance seeing the way she was described as a genius but I guess since she only appears for the individual tournament and that her school lost out, maybe that short training stint for the Achiga girls is all we ever get to see her as proper appearance in the flesh. The most amusing side characters are the commentators and their co-analysis. During the first round matches, Eri Haryuu and Eiko Mihorogi did the honours. Though Eri is more grounded to earth, she can’t help get annoyed by Eiko sometimes because she is supposed to be the analyst with experience and sometimes when she asks for her opinion about the match, Eiko tells her up straight that she doesn’t know! But Eiko is not dumb because she can see where the match is going so I suppose this is her own way of analyzing things. For the semi-final match, Kouko Fukuyo and Sukoya Kokaji replace them. Like a role reversal, it is Kouko who is very energetic, making weird gestures, gets easily excited, straight-in-your-face, no-holds-barred and have the guts to tease Sukoya about her age and cause her to panic. So sometimes when I don’t really comprehend the match, sometimes I would just listen to what the commentator and analyzer say to tickle my bone. Albeit I still won’t understand the mahjong analysis, perhaps it’s the way they say it that makes it funny.

Speaking of the flow of the series, it was shocking at first when we see Achiga suddenly making their way into the Nationals after 1/4 of the series. I thought it was going to take a couple of episodes but it didn’t even last half the episode! And the synopsis really painted as though Bansei is going to be their toughest opponent. Apparently not. We were fooled. Maybe Bansei really did underestimate Achiga. After all when you’re at the top for so long, you can’t really see your feet or the grass that is growing underneath them. Perhaps the fast forward is good in the way that we don’t need to waste time in seeing Achiga going through ‘unimportant’ opponents in their prefecture The focus of 2/3 of the series is on the first round of the Nationals and the remainder is just on the first round of the semi-finals. However in this semi-final, it feels that Achiga has taken a back seat and the focus is on Senriyama and Shindouji, especially from the perspective of Toki. It feels like Toki and Kirame were the main players trying to stop Teru’s rampage and stranglehold on the game and that Achiga and Kuro were nowhere to be seen. If you ask me, if the entire match was shown without Kuro, I think it could’ve gotten by except for the last scene. Thus I feel they show Kuro so that viewers won’t forget that Achiga is still in the match. I speculate that the first round match that lasts for 4 freaking episodes is to showcase Teru’s supremacy. In the original series, she’s being painted like as though she’s more than a talented ace. Like a monster. She seems to live up to it. At least in the scary aspect. Now we know why people who played mahjong with her get thrashed. We don’t see her speak much here save when she makes a call and that she puts on an expressionless face (which probably would like to tell us, “Don’t mess with me, you f*ckers” or “You’re all my prey for tonight”) so it also feels like the match is a strategy and tactical approach by Toki and Kirame against her. With Kuro being reduced to a ‘cry-baby’, it puts a contradiction whereby she was believed to be the strongest mahjong player at Achiga till Akado left. Probably she waited for everyone to return instead of polishing her skills so that honour now goes to Ako.

Something I want to mention about the design of the characters. Though we see lots of minor and supporting characters, I can’t help notice that some of them have this outrageous hair design or hair accessories. I know it’s a way to identify, differentiate and give them an identity even if this means we won’t be seeing them frequently and are just ‘extras’ to make up the numbers so our heroines can advance to the next stage. I mean, take a look at Kirame. I thought her hairstyle resembled like crab pinchers! Koshigaya’s Sophia had dreadlocks and Keiko’s headgear makes her look like a Red Indian. Sometimes it really makes the character look funny. Maybe you’ll remember them better this way since they won’t have any other impact for the rest of the series. Some of the characters are boyish too. Who says mahjong is a feminine game despite in my country old aunties and grandmas are the ones who play them. Take for instance Sera. I thought she was a boy! She hates wearing skirts so much that she is willing to wear pants and look like a boy. Izumi too looks very boyish and Shizuno, I thought her dark jacket design makes it look like a typical boy’s uniform. I believe I don’t recall her wearing Achiga’s girl uniform before. As for the mahjong play, the exaggerated visuals still made me laugh. Especially the lighting and current flowing through the tiles, the thunderous thuds when the tiles are laid, the energy that flows through the player’s eyes and the stylish pose they make when they flip and throw the tile onto the table. Impressive. Does that really change the outcome of the game or just putting psychological fear to your opponents? Especially the stormy whirlwind on Teru’s hand, I thought man, if it goes any bigger her entire body will turn into a tornado and engulf the entire building! I wonder if there’ll be a typhoon named after her. Just kidding.

With a new cast of characters lending their voice to this sequel spin-off, Kana Hanazawa (Nadeshiko in Bakemonogatari) is very much identifiable as her role as Kuro. Aoi Yuuki voices Shizuno and after hearing her voice sweet little girls’ role like Ichigo in Yumeiro Patissiere and Murasaki in Kurenai, I guess she does it fine too voicing a tomboyish role like this. Other casts include Mako as Yuu (Yurie in Kamichu), Nao Tooyama as Ako (Kanon in The World God Only Knows), Yumi Uchida as Arata (Nagi in A Channel), Naomi Shindou as Akado (Shizuru in Mai-HiME), Yui Ogura as Toki (Alice in Kamisama No Memo-chou), Arisa Noto as Sera (Notti in Kaitou Reinya), Marie Miyake as Kei (Ringo in Mawaru Penguindrum) and Satomi Arai as Kirame (Shirai in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun). For the rest of the characters that appear in the original series, each one of the original seiyuu is retained. The opening theme is Miracle Rush by Stylips and is the kind of song that you would expect to fit an anime about a group of friends striving their best together to reach their dreams. I thought the pace and overall of this song reminded of Saki’s first opening theme, Glossy:MMM. There are two ending themes for this series. Futuristic Player by Miyuki Hashimoto feels like the kind of dramatic pop song whereby it gives the feel of carrying on the fight. The other piece is Square Panic Serenade by the seiyuus of the Achiga girls. This one feels more light-hearted and pop group material. What makes it funny is the animation which sees the characters in chibi form and the weird antics they do during mahjong. I mean, we see the mahjong tiles catch fire, being chased by a fire breathing dragon, Arata bowling her flaming tile like a bowling ball, Ako chiding Shizuno for sitting on the wrong side of the table and the girls riding on the mahjong tiles. Funny and cute? On a trivial note, the next episode preview feels like the girls making a joke. For example, they make that single round circle pattern in a mahjong tile on how similar it looks to a washer. Or how those strong opponents are so strong that they shoot sparks from their eyes and bloom flowers when they win. Or Shizuno wanting to release her excessive energy by doing some somersault body spinning jump. What about the one whereby some trivia about tea helps you makes you more alert before the match, low in calories it won’t make you fat? Except for the penultimate episode, there is total silence! Like as though Dooms Day has arrived.

The way I see everyone here so dedicated playing mahjong it’s like there is some virtue in this sport. The end narration about mahjong having top players from around the world vying for the top sport may sound absurd but at the rate we see them putting their heart and soul into the game, I won’t discount the fact that mahjong may actually be an Olympic game! Of course from where I come from, because of the gambling element, many don’t really see mahjong in a positive light. Once money is taken in, I guess that is where everything goes downhill. Just like in any other sport that involves betting. So once more, I have failed to understand the workings of mahjong and despite I should just for knowledge purposes, this doesn’t seem to be very likely in the near or distant future. Maybe I really don’t have talent at all for mahjong. The only mahjong game that I’ve been playing is Microsoft’s Mahjong Titans and even that I cheated (I press the ‘H’ button for hint frequently) and my statistics of winning are very dismal. Really no talent with mahjong tiles at all. Riichi, kan or pon? Dora or tsumo? What’s that again? Yum. They sound like delicious Japanese delicacies to me.

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