January 27, 2013

Do you know the sports called karuta? No? I don’t blame you then. It’s only the kind of game that is played in Japan. I myself don’t really know much about this card game except that it involves matching verses of poems quicker than your opponents and usually played during New Year (as observed from some other animes). And no, karuta in this anime isn’t like those popular fantasy card games like Yugioh. Instead, Chihayafuru is about competitive karuta and I guess I could say that this is the first and only karuta themed anime ever.

For a person like me who knows nuts about karuta, why on Earth would I be watching something that I don’t understand? It’s not that I am interested in the game either. You know that I’m a sucker for a pretty face, right? Yeah. You can see where this is going, right? The protagonist, Chihaya Ayase is one hell of a beautiful girl. So pretty that she could easily beat all the Miss Universe participants without effort. But… Yes, a but. Wait till you hear her talk! And act! I wouldn’t go so far to label her as a retard or slow. More accurately, she lacks tact. It’s not that she is foul-mouthed or a bad person, it’s just that she lacks reservation and her honest-to-goodness means that when she wants to say something, she says it without hesitation. That’s not a bad thing but when in society, sometimes holding back and not saying the truth is necessary. Besides, she also displays a childish behaviour at times. That’s why most guys call her a waste of beauty. Ah well, nobody is perfect.

The story is simple. Chihaya spent most of her life supporting and admiring her elder sister Chitose who is equally beautiful but gets all the attention from the parents, media and others just because she’s a model. She never had a goal in life till she met this guy, Arata Wataya who is the grandson of a karuta Meijin (Master) and thus considered a future karuta genius. Before his departure, he introduces her to the world of karuta and before she knows it, she’s hooked in this game. Of course as we know, main protagonists of sports themed animes have some latent ability as we see Chihaya growing and improving in this competitive game, create her own karuta club and members as they aim to keep playing karuta at high competitive levels and with hope that she would one day meet Arata again.

Episode 1
Right off the bat, we see the guys admiring the beauty Chihaya is at high school. Till they start see her wearing track pants underneath her skirt. A grim reminder why nobody asked her out, eh? What was she doing with that getup? She’s going around school putting up posters for her karuta club recruitment. Despite in the track club, she joined just to make friends but her passion is still in karuta. Chihaya is happy to meet her childhood friend Taichi Mashima (another hot looking guy) who happened to be in the same school, Mizusawa. Seems that lots of things have happened since they were separated since middle school. Taichi seemingly have a girlfriend (much to Chihaya’s jealousy), Taichi is now in the football club and doesn’t think too highly of karuta as it is just a hobby and Chihaya noticing Arata wasn’t in last year’s Omi Jingu tournament (the ‘koushien’ of karuta). So we go back in time when they were still elementary students. Chihaya is so tomboyish that you may mistake her for a boy. Arata was a transfer student and because he rarely talks, the other students ostracized him and even start giving him names. But Chihaya’s doesn’t join the bullies and saw him in a different light.

One rainy morning, Arata does his usual morning papers delivery and he is shocked to see Chihaya waiting for him. Actually her sister’s picture came out in the newspaper (albeit just a small corner) and she’s eagerly waiting for it. In class, the teacher introduces them to karuta and Taichi is of course at the moment the best of the lot. The teacher also wonders if Arata would be in the tournament. That’s when Chihaya recognized him as the delivery boy. However this only allowed the other classmates to tease the poor boy he is. Even Taichi had a hand in bullying this kid. Because Chihaya kept siding on Arata’s side, she and Taichi got into a kiddie fight. Arata brings Chihaya back to his place to dry her clothes. He learns of her dream to see her sister become Japan’s top model. He points she should not take other people’s dream as dreams should be for oneself. Arata’s dream is to be the best karuta Master. He takes out his karuta set and invites Chihaya to play. She is stunned by his lightning speed and keen reflexes. She gets so obsessed in taking one card and when she finally does, she became so happy. Though she is frustrated she lost, Arata is happy because had fun playing karuta. Back in his hometown of Fukui, everyone plays karuta unlike here in Tokyo. So he is always playing by himself. Thus since Japan only plays this game, being Japan’s best means you are the best in the world. Arata points out the first card she took is the Chihayafuru verse card and to him he looks at it as a Chihaya card. Chihaya now is interested not only in karuta but she also knows Arata has a passion.

Episode 2
Taichi and the guys threaten to ignore Chihaya if she continues to talk to Arata. She pays no heed and sits next to him. Worried Taichi wants to know what is so good about that useless kid but Chihaya points out Arata is good at karuta so Taichi challenges him to a showdown at an upcoming karuta match. Taichi does well against his opponents but what is more amazing is everyone had their first glimpse of Arata’s lightning speed. They’re going to have second opinions about this kid. The final is between Taichi and Arata and Taichi realizes the odds he is against it so he did a dirty trick that will tilt the scales in his favour. He ‘accidentally’ sprays cola over him so that when he washes up, he steals his glasses (Arata is blind as a bat without them). Chihaya goes to find it for him but the match has already begun. Though Arata has a hard time seeing, he still aces and Taichi realizes he has memorized the positions of the cards. So he plays dirty once more to shift the cards and makes Arata to execute a foul. That’s when Chihaya forcefully trade places with Arata to play on his behalf. Can she? Well, since both sides agree I guess there is no harm. Besides, Taichi thinks Chihaya is weaker and his winning chance higher.

Chihaya’s playing seems unrefined and unconventional. She’s catching up and Taichi better pull it together. There is one card left on the board and it so happens to be the Chihayafuru card. Naturally Chihaya is faster to grab that card and wins the tournament. Chihaya didn’t feel the joy of winning. She just felt she had fun. Arata says she has talent for karuta and could be Queen, the female Master of karuta. I’m not sure if this is possible. Just because Chihaya played one match in the final halfway and beat Taichi, the champion title goes to her name. She is eager to tell her parents but they don’t have time since they’re focusing on the scout at their home who has seen Chitose’s beauty pageant. Even Chitose notes how boring and lame karuta is. What a spoil sport. Taichi on the other hand is having it tough from his mom too. She was filming his match and was planning to show his victory to dad but now that he got second place, it ruins everything. She forbids him to enter tournaments if he can’t win. Chihaya’s remarkable hearing ability leads her and Taichi to see Arata playing air karuta in the classroom by himself. They realize he doesn’t need glasses or cards because he can see everything. Chihaya goes to look for his glasses again so Taichi takes this opportunity to return it to him. He admits he stole them and Arata calls him a coward. They go find Chihaya and soon a friendship between the trio is made.

Episode 3
The trio visit the Shiranami Karuta Society in the middle of practice. Everyone here is serious. The chairman of this society, Dr Hidehiro Harada welcomes the trio because it’s hard to get karuta enthusiasts these days. Because another kid, Hiro Kinashi (nicknamed Retro by Chihaya) looks down on them, they take up the challenge in a team match despite Chihaya knowing nuts about the rules. Arata explains the rules but it seems like he’s playing it alone (Taichi and Chihaya are too slow to react and he wasn’t expecting much from them). So it becomes a competition among themselves and as expected, Arata takes in the most cards and Chihaya only got one. Arata realizes that Chihaya may be faster than him on first syllable cards. Oh, Hiro is forgotten. And lost. Harada gives a set of karuta cards for her to memorize since she is quite interested but Taichi seems to have doubts. He invites them to the last tournament they can play for their grade. I guess the only way is to train. Soon Chihaya finds out that Taichi is going to a different school for middle school. The distance means he can’t stay put and play karuta. Arata also needs to return to Fukui once he graduates since his grandpa is sick. The thought of not ever playing together causes Chihaya to be upset so she refuses to participate in the tournament and the guys start blaming themselves. After a little talk from Harada about Arata’s circumstances, Chihaya gets the motivation to join the tournament. He would feel sad if she quits karuta. On the match day, Arata is sick but he still continues to play. Chihaya shows up late but makes it in time. They even have a red team t-shirt and they name their team, Team Chihayafuru. Their first round opponent includes a fatty, Yuusei Nishida who mocks them. In the end they lost and Taichi blames himself if he only had won his match. But Chihaya is crying because she had so much fun that she wants to continue playing karuta together. After graduation, Taichi and Chihaya visit Arata who is in the midst of packing. They play one final karuta game together. Chihaya thanks him because now she truly loves karuta. When she manages to take a card from him, he starts crying. Thanking them for being able to play karuta with him, he doubts they will see each other again. But Chihaya remains positive. As long they keep playing karuta, they’ll be able to see each other.

Episode 4
Chihaya promises that they’ll meet again when they become Class A players. End of flashback. Taichi thinks Chihaya will take a few more years to move from Class B to Class A so she challenges him if she wins this upcoming tournament and moves up to that grade, he must help her start a karuta club. Taichi goes to see her play and Harada is happy to see him all grown up. But Taichi has his doubts of having a future in karuta since he is focusing on football. He feels that though he has practised and played karuta during middle school, he did become better but the thought of spending his entire youth on karuta without ever becoming better than Arata is what’s troubling him. Harada wants him to hold that thought for now. He also mentions how he helped Chihaya polished up her karuta skills. Chihaya wins her match and signals to Harada to buy chocolates so he made Taichi do the errands. Better hurry. What bad luck. The convenience store is closed and he had to spend a fortune on expensive ones. And Chihaya is devouring them like they were so cheap! As explained, the gruelling matches require intense concentration so much so playing karuta could lose up to 3kg! You need chocolates to recharge all that energy. After that, she instantly drops asleep. That tired, huh? In the final, Chihaya is up against Yasuda, who has been stuck in Class B for years so you can understand why he wants to move on to the next grade so bad. Because Chihaya’s face is easy to read, he quickly realizes the Chihayafuru card is her specialty and there is this folly whereby both sides keep exchanging this particular card after a foul. Both sides are playing aggressive karuta and won’t give in. Chihaya is pushing hard with the sole fact she wants to meet Arata. Finally the Chihayafuru card is read and Chihaya was the faster one to grab the card, thus winning the match. Chihaya hopes that Taichi would continue to play and become strong in karuta. Now that she has advanced to Class A, she calls Arata to relay the good news. I’m sure she has lots of things to say but Arata tells her off never to call him again. He has also stopped playing karuta. Oh my. How things changed.

Episode 5
So the only thing left to do is to go see him at Fukui. And she drags Taichi along with her. Well, he has to just to keep a watch on her. Heck, she couldn’t even buy a train ticket herself. Arriving at Arata’s doorstep, seems he isn’t in. His neighbour, Yuu points out he is working at a bookstore. As they rush over there, Chihaya ponders whether she should really see him. Unexpectedly, Arata himself cycles pass them. Chihaya chases after him and grabs him till he falls off! Arata brings her back to his home so she could wash herself up. He wants them to leave after she has dried herself. Not so welcoming, is he? Taichi is going to do that but Chihaya remembers she has written a letter to him. Sifting through her back, she sees her karuta set and suggests that they should play karuta. She enters the next room and starts placing the cards while getting nostalgic. However Arata kicks them away telling her off if she’s a retard because he told her he already stopped playing. Chihaya realizes in this room is an altar of Arata’s grandpa. Taichi takes Chihaya and leave. Yuu comes after them and wants them to take back their karuta cards and not leave them behind. It brings back sad memories. She explains that Arata’s grandfather who taught Arata everything about karuta had a stroke. Arata was supposed to take care of him on that fateful day he passed away. He was away at a tournament to advance to Class A and made it. He hasn’t touch karuta since then. Arata remembers grandpa telling him how the karuta god sometimes whispers the next syllable in your ear that’s why one could tell what the next card is after the first syllable is read. Arata thought if a karuta god existed, he would look like grandpa. Arata goes through the letter Chihaya wrote and apart from all the messy self notes she put in, he is taken aback when Chihaya writes he believes in him as a karuta god. The longer they are apart, the more he seems like a god. Arata disagrees he is one. All he wanted was to be their friend. Chihaya breaks down in the train, feeling guilty that she shouldn’t have come to see him. To her surprise, she sees Taichi cycling alongside the train, trying to catch up with them. The reason he didn’t want them to come see was because he didn’t want them to see what he has become. Chihaya is relived he doesn’t hate karuta so Taichi agrees to help her start a karuta club, become the best and wait for his return.

Episode 6
Chihaya and Taichi move the tatami mats they got free from a nice guy to the old student council room where it will be their club room. To be officially recognized as a club, they need to have 5 members. And there’s a potential one. Maybe. Kanade Ooe from the archery club is looking at the recruitment poster and dreams how Chihaya would look good in a hakama. She takes a peep and sees the intensity the duo are playing. Chihaya spots her and goes after her! Who wouldn’t run away in fear after seeing a ‘psycho’ going after you to join the club? Seems Kanade is a poem freak and knows the origins and in detail about the poems. She laments that she is in the archery club because their uniform is a hakama. Her family for generations has owned and run a traditional kimono clothing shop. Business is so bad that they can’t afford to make next year’s catalogue! If only people knew about the beauty of kimonos. Kanade returns to her club so Taichi feels her passion for poems is on a different level and that it won’t do any good if she plays competitive karuta. However Chihaya continues to be interested in her and is acting like a stalker! One day she is manning her shop while her parents are away for a meet, Chihaya drops in. She sees a very beautiful kimono pattern on display and reminds her of the verse in the Chihayafuru card so Kanade explains the real love story and meaning behind it. Chihaya is so impressed that she starts taking down notes. Yeah, all of them. Chihaya has never realized the colourful world behind those cards. Thanks to Kanade, she can now see colourful visions of each card and this makes it easier for her to spot and identify them quickly. Chihaya spots Kanade ‘spying’ outside again and hopes she could join. She will but on one condition. Chihaya becomes a model for the kimono catalogue and during matches, they have to wear them the hakama. After they clean up the club room, they start practising and Chihaya thanks Kanade because she has taught her that the Chihayafuru card is a poem about deep red love.

Episode 7
Kanade watches her seniors play and gets to know Chihaya’s odd habit of instantly falling asleep after matches. Taichi still knows he can’t beat Chihaya to first syllable cards after all these years. But she doesn’t know how to make adjustments on which cards have been taken. Since he doesn’t have the interest to become a Master, he doesn’t mind losing. Suddenly Chihaya gets up and goes scouting for a potential member. Tsutomu Komano is one of those nerds who cling on to his desk to study. Nothing but study. People call him names (including Tsukue-tomu which literally means Desk-tomu) but he is not bothered. However what irks him is that he is not number 1. That spot belongs to Taichi and he doesn’t study all day long like him. Plus, he is good looking too. Thus Tsutomu is the second smartest in the grade and the person Chihaya wants to join the club. He isn’t interested and sees no point. So Chihaya drags him to the club just to let him have a go. Hey! He’s still not letting go of his desk! Chihaya promises he’ll get smarter and get hooked on karuta since it is a mental game. Still not interested? He ups the challenge to play with the cards flipped over if karuta players boast about their excellent memory ability. They agree but Tsutomu doubts they can do that. When the game begins, Taichi has better memorization skills and starts thinking she might just beat Chihaya. Taichi wins all the cards in the end and leaves Chihaya frustrated. Tsutomu leaves without a word so Taichi goes after him. Tsutomu wonders if people like Taichi existed because he looks good, has talent and has friends. Unlike his case whereby he tried to help others out but they just copied his work and threw the book back at him. He thinks even if he becomes number 1, he won’t be let into the circle of friends. Taichi asks if he has become interested in karuta but he gets violent swinging his desk to make him stay away. He believes his place is behind his desk. Surprisingly Taichi takes his desk and throws it away! He admits he has no karuta talent and despite being tough, he continues to play. Despite he keeps losing, he keeps playing. He felt happy. Instead of a karuta genius, he would rather have a member who puts in effort. Those words hit the bull’s eye. Tsutomu abandons his desk and follows Taichi.

Episode 8
The quartet go on a recruiting spree but nobody seems interested. Suddenly Chihaya bumps into Porky. Who? That’s the nickname she gave to Nishida. So, he’s in their school and they never realized it? Because he has karuta experience, Chihaya becomes somewhat ‘desperate’ in wanting to make him join her club. Yeah, she jumps onto him! However Nishida isn’t interested as he is in the tennis club. Chihaya spies on him in his tennis training and man, he’s athletic and flexible for a fatty. But what surprises Chihaya is that she hears him spouting karuta verses as his timing. So she goes pester him again to join and the answer is the same. This affects Nishida’s concentration so he takes an early break from practice. He stops by the karuta club and asserts he isn’t here to join but just to check things out. That’s what they all say, right? Chihaya believes their club will be strong if they join but he laments they can never beat Arata no matter how strong they become. Taichi suggests he should play karuta with Chihaya. He agrees on a condition that if he wins, they’ll stop bugging him to join and will have to buy him pork buns (his favourite) for a month. Nishida still hasn’t lost his touch and in fact he feels lighter. Thanks to tennis? It made him remember how he once loved karuta. Till he faced Arata in the finals and lost badly. It made him remember the difference in their level. So he ran away. Nishida makes a great start (because it is easy reading Chihaya’s expressions) but Chihaya makes a comeback and wins. Nishida wonders if this was how he used to play karuta but he gets up and leaves despite Taichi offering him to join. Chihaya thanks him for playing with her and will stop bugging him to join. The tennis club’s advisor, Taeko Miyauchi spots Nishida leaving and is not too happy because she thought he was skipping tennis practice. Nishida surprises everyone that he wants to quit the tennis club and wants to play karuta. Karuta is still his passion and tennis can’t replace that. Miyauchi expects him to hand his resignation form in. I guess that’s the green light. The gang are delighted but Nishida has another request. She wants Chihaya to stop calling him Porky! Okay, Porky. I don’t think she gets it.

Episode 9
The gang hand in their official members to Miyauchi and she has no qualms in approving it. Just a condition. She doesn’t want Chihaya to be the president. Damn. She will also be the temporary advisor for the club. The rest vote for Taichi to be one but Chihaya wouldn’t give up and becomes the captain. Uh. What? So who ranks higher? They begin practice so the beginners are matched up against their seniors. The difference in gap is too different as they aren’t shown any mercy. Chihaya states that the first opponent he played didn’t go easy on her. If he did, she wouldn’t have loved karuta as she does now. She wants them to become stronger too and participate in the Nationals, which is Omi Jingu. So the amateurs practice and learn more points of the game. Even Kanade manages to get her first card. They also need to build stamina and since they don’t have much time after classes, a training camp is suggested. Taichi’s home is suggested since his parents are away at Kobe for a wedding. They can play karuta for long periods and with the holidays, they can play all weekend. The gang takes a look in a room filled with trophies won by Taichi. He excels in all sorts of lessons his parents made him took. But Chihaya doesn’t like Taichi’s mother and calls her Mrs Pressure because she doesn’t like it when her son didn’t win. Chihaya has come up with a schedule. A gruelling one indeed. They’ll play 15 matches a day! It becomes tiring for the amateurs and it is turning out to be dreadful. They’re losing motivation so Taichi had to put his foot down to Chihaya that it is enough for today for them. While resting, suddenly Taichi’s mom comes home (because Taichi’s sister insisted on coming home). Chihaya and Kanade go into hiding since his mom would never allow girls to stay overnight. Chihaya brings Kanade (who has fallen asleep) back to her home. Suddenly Chihaya comes alive and takes Chihaya to the riverbank where they meet up with the guys. Chihaya apologizes first for being pushy but the rest don’t mind because they see her so earnest about karuta and need to work hard. The other reason Chihaya is brought here is because to throw her a surprise birthday cake. When Taichi says as long as Chihaya has a smile on her face, karuta will be fun, she gets emotional. Suddenly Taichi gets an SMS. He never expected this one from Arata. So it was a total surprise when Chihaya was shown the message wishing her a happy birthday. The best birthday present she’s got ever.

Episode 10
The Mizusawa karuta club guys are participating in their first tournament. The road to Omi Jingu begins. Yeah, they’re attracting attention because of the kimonos they are wearing. They’re really dressed for the part. Also in this Tokyo region qualifier (which has to most participants) is a nostalgic face, Hiro who is at Hokuo Academy, supposedly the strongest karuta house in this region. In this team match, Mizusawa isn’t being grouped with Hokuo, which has 2 players in the Class A category. During the matches, Tsutomu becomes agitated and frustrated. He spent all his time practising but is unable to produce the desired results. He becomes even more depressed when Kanade even notches her first win. Not only that, Nishida had this though of putting Tsutomu and Kanade as sacrifice to play their opponent’s best players. Mizusawa win all their group matches to advance to the next round. During the break, Tsutomu snaps. He wants to go home. He blows his top he is only here because they needed 5 people to make it to the finals because there is someone she wants to meet. They don’t need him or Kanade. Taichi allows him to skip this match (because he can’t take cards with this mindset) but wants him to play in the final. In the semi-final match against Tomihara West (I don’t even know how this is allowed, 5 against four. Of course the other team has a walkover victory), Chihaya’s mind becomes clouded because she never considered how Tsutomu feels. Besides, Tomihara West is making lots of noise after each snatch so it’s like intimidating their opponents. Tsutomu is sitting alone when he hears a couple of boys talking how Chihaya isn’t at her usual best and might even lose. Tsutomu tells them off she is just starting and darts off. The pressure on Chihaya means that she even starts forgetting how to take cards. Taichi as the leader needs to bring his members together and does what is needed to give them motivation to fight back. Chihaya pulls herself together and makes a comeback and nails the winning move when she hears Tsutomu cheering for her. Kanade catches up with Tsutomu and lets him realize that their opponents have tatami mark calluses on their feet. It is prove that they’ve been practising for years so it makes sense that they can’t beat them now. That’s why they need to practise. Tsutomu apologizes for everything and congratulates Kanade over her first win. He hopes he will be given another chance. Of course. They’re a team.

Episode 11
Mizusawa will be facing Hokuo in the final so they are trying to predict their Class A players. Instead of worrying about their opponent’s order, Chihaya comes up with an order that has Taichi in the middle (to look out for everyone) while herself and Nishida will be on the outsides to support Tsutomu and Kanade sandwiched in the middle. She got this idea after observing Tomihara West. Arata working at the bookstore gets permission to check his emails (as long as it’s not porn as quipped by the manager) and is surprised his mail is flooded with spam! Actually, they’re messages from Chihaya. Any slight news she sends one to him. The match begins (Harada making it in time to watch them play) and Chihaya is up against the best player in town, Class A, Akito Sudou who is also a sadist (in karuta sense). Chihaya is no pushover, though. Nishida is up against another Class A player, Nayuta Amakasu. Nishida remembers Nayuta was in the same karuta society with him but Nayuta was a beginner then despite being older than him. He is frustrated that he has surpassed him. Hokuo puts up a tough fight but Mizusawa continues to hold their ground. Tsutomu and Kanade made early exits and Hokuo is just one win away from being champions again. Hiro thinks it’s his turn to make the winning move for Hokuo but he slips up and picks the wrong card, giving Mizusawa’s first win to Taichi. The pressure is building up on Sudou when Nayuta loses his match to Nishida. He is pressured to take everyone especially the club’s advisor Mochida (he looks more like a student), the one who thought him all about karuta, to the Nationals. Maybe he was thinking too much that Chihaya took the final card and wins it for her team. He couldn’t understand how she was so fast in taking that last card, the Chihayafuru card. Arata receives a new mail on Mizusawa’s victory and to come see them at Omi Jingu.

Episode 12
As Mizusawa is crowned champions, it is sad for Hokuo who won’t be representing Tokyo at Omi Jingu. Especially Hiro who is breaking down. Back home, Chitose’s blunder on a quiz show upstages Chihaya’s victory. Chihaya also lets Miyauchi know about their victory but she has her hands full with her tennis club (which she is more interested in) and would let her colleague Shibata to follow them. When Chihaya hears that Tsutomu’s grade has dropped, she quickly goes to beg and apologize. However he doesn’t seem fazed. He doesn’t care about grades now. So till the Omi Jingu, they need to practice against stronger players and what better place than to do so at the karuta society. Nishida and the amateurs will be practising at the former’s karuta society of Suihoku since he feels his old coach is really good. Chihaya and Taichi return to train at Shiranami whereby Harada once more is glad to teach them finer points and play a game with them. Chihaya lost by 15 cards. She gets disheartened and feels afraid of the Nationals and starts thinking about the what-ifs. What if they lost so and so. Taichi shows her the secret guide that Hiro compiled over the years he reluctantly gave to him for Omi Jingu. There is no reason to be ashamed of beating a team fair and square. Chihaya returns home and her family has left a message they’ll be away to support Chitose. She takes a look at today’s newspaper and notices the article on her karuta win is cut out. Realizing that next to volumes after volumes of scrapbook articles on Chitose that her dad keeps, there is one scrapbook on Chihaya! She remembers her father’s goal to collect clippings about her daughters. So he’s not just one-sided after all. She gets emotional buy hey! Don’t let your tears soak the pages! Kanade tries arranging the cards the way she likes it (based on seasons) but Nishida reminds her Omi Jingu can be overwhelming. Kanade snaps when Nishida can’t recite the entire poem she suggested. Chihaya calms her down that nobody said the meaning of poems is important. But they have a duty to play competitive karuta so as to properly represent Tokyo region. Miyauchi passes by the club and sees them practising hard. She hears Kanade’s beautiful insight on the poetic cards and it opened her eyes. Though she barges in to tell them off for staying too late, she also takes the trophy from Chihaya (who is having problems of finding the right place to put it) and will put it at the trophy case in front of the principal’s office. Miyauchi becomes interested in karuta and even takes up a book to read up on it. She shocks Shibata that she will be going to Omi Jingu instead.

Episode 13
The gang pray at the shrine at Omi Jingu. Chihaya prays to God that she doesn’t want a miracle but keep her comrades safe. For the group matches, Mizusawa is lucky not to be placed in any powerhouse but to Chihaya’s dismay, Arata is not even registered for the individual tournament. Tsutomu would gladly be the sacrifice and wants to be matched up against the opponent’s strongest player. As long as the team wins he is okay. The first match starts but Chihaya is feeling uncomfortable. One minute she’s hot, the next she feels cold. She wonders if God had heard her prayers. Arata is making his way to Omi Jingu when he remembers when grandpa had a stroke. It got worse when it happened again and though his life was saved, he lost his memories and couldn’t recognize Arata. He continued to take care of his ailing grandpa and forgo playing in karuta tournaments till one day grandpa saw a picture of a hakama and for that moment he regained his memories back, asking why Arata wasn’t participating in a tournament. He knew Arata wanted to go and made him do it. That’s of course the last time he saw grandpa. Arata enters the hall to see Chihaya in her match. She suddenly collapses so Taichi had no choice but to forfeit her and leave her in Arata’s hands. Chihaya wakes up with Arata by her side. She wants to go back in the game but he wants her to rest. Besides, there is no way they would let her back in. She becomes frustrated and breaks down. Soon she is taken to a nearby emergency room. Yoshioka of the Karuta Federation recognizes Arata and thought he was participating this year. He is glad he is able to see his grandpa’s karuta style again because their playing is so alike. Arata realizes he still loves playing karuta. Chihaya is freaked out to see Sudou outside her room. He is here to participate in the individual tournament and chides Chihaya for not representing Tokyo properly. Her comrades come to see her. Tsutomu relays the good news he won his first match but they lost in the play-offs. Despite so, they want to play more karuta. Though Chihaya feels frustrated she couldn’t do anything (especially to show how much she has improved to Arata), Taichi shows her a gift from Arata. It’s not the gift that they are surprised but a personal message from Arata on the box itself to meet in a match next time.

Episode 14
For the individual tournament, the players will be separated by class and there are about 400 participants. Looking at the match-up board, Sudou tells Chihaya to be careful of Shinobu Wakamiya, the youngest Queen in karuta history. Hmm… I thought she looked a bit like Amagami SS’ Kaoru. Seems Sudou and Shinobu know each other and they exchange ‘pleasantries’. In the first match, Shinobu plays against Nayuta. He only managed to take a card and the match ended early. Yeah. That’s the true strength of the Queen. Fearsome. Nayuta’s a dead zombie. Hope he isn’t traumatized for life. For the next round, everyone is so fearful of her and hopes to avoid her. But not Chihaya. She wants to play her and gets her wish. Is this fate? During her match, Chihaya is made to realize the difference in their level. She is so fast that she didn’t even see her move! Miyauchi can’t believe she can’t even capture anything on her camcorder! Taichi wins his match via walkover and goes to see Chihaya. Well, Chihaya has fallen behind by 10 cards and the gap is growing. She hasn’t even taken a card so the spectators felt sorry for her and felt she was in a middle of a public execution. Shinobu realizes her opponent losing enthusiast and it has always been like that. They start all fired up but when they start playing against her and lose hope, it’s like she is playing karuta all by herself again. It might be too late for Chihaya to realize but better late than never because she just realized Shinobu is left handed. So after lots of deep thinking and great determination, she manages to snatch a card from Shinobu. And another one! Two in a row!

Episode 15
There’s this scary look on Shinobu that sends shivers down every spectator’s spine! We’re not watching Ju-on, aren’t we?! Shinobu breaks Chihaya’s grove by taking a card but Chihaya gets the next. Since the field of cards is narrowing, it is easier on Chihaya to pinpoint the cards. But the match soon ends with Shinobu taking her final card. When she leaves the hall, she goes straight to the match-up board to find out Chihaya’s name. She becomes ‘scary’ and is determined not to let her take a single card next time. When Chihaya bumps into her, she comments about her cute snowman design on her t-shirt and this loosens the tension between them. In the Class A finals, Shinobu beats Sudou, ending his dreams of at least winning the coveted title before he graduates. Chihaya and the rest go to cheer on Taichi who is in the finals for Class B. Taichi is doing his usual analysis on the cards that were read and those that are still in play but he finds it hard to concentrate. He realizes his hand can’t keep up with his mind. In the end, he lost by 3 cards. Though he is disappointed but felt he did well enough, his comrades couldn’t be more disappointed. Yeah, they’re so obvious in their textbook display of disappointment. During the trophy presentation ceremony, Miyauchi notes how it is hard for them to accept defeat but they’re not consoling each other either. As they head back, they take their final bow and pay respect to the Omi Jingu shrine which is beautifully reflecting the stars of the sky. Back at school, the quintet start their stamina training with jogging because that is what they have identified as their weakness. As everyone continues practising karuta, Arata goes to see Kuriyama and wishes to join Fukui Nagumo Karuta Society.

Episode 16
This is a recap or more accurately an abridged version of the series. You cut out several important scenes from the flashback of how Chihaya met Arata and got hooked on karuta to the forming and recruiting of karuta club and members to the regional qualifiers and the Omi Jingu. But this is just around 15 minutes because the balance is filled with nonsensical shorts in between the rerun. For example, it starts off with Chitose’s evil intention to selfishly obtain Chihaya’s portion of New Year’s allowance by claiming kids above 10 years old don’t receive them anymore. And she believed it. So uses the extra income to buy clothes and after all, all the clothes Chihaya wears are hand-me-downs. Evil! Even Arata had this thought so they point out to Taichi that he is a lawbreaker for receiving the money. Though his friends didn’t think so, after they hear he received a handsome sum, they too label him a lawbreaker! The other silly segments include the Mizusawa karuta gang describing each other (Kanade’s description of Taichi that he is a Jack of all trades but master of none must’ve hurt a lot); The different labels on Nishida’s t-shirt (why are they food servings? Each time they get bigger and bigger) and it is his sister who makes their team t-shirts; The guys asking Taichi which of the girls he would rather date (they vote for Kanade) and they think he should confess it would be Kanade because Chihaya is just out of the question; Taichi striking back that they are into Kanade just because of her boobs but they counter that they can’t picture themselves dating Chihaya because all she ever thinks is karuta. Damn right. I guess Taichi also votes for Kanade then; A classmate asking Chihaya and Kanade the person they would date. Guess what? Chihaya picks Kanade! The classmate is furious and wants it to be a guy and not necessary a karuta member. Then again she changes her mind seeing that she doesn’t want her to give anything away that will spoil the story!

Episode 17
The karuta club qualifies for Mizusawa’s club relay finals for the sports festival. Think they’re not the athletic kind? Think again because they’re giving the track club a run for their money. Chihaya makes a great start and despite Tsutomu’s lack of speed, Nishida as the anchor makes a great comeback to win it for the club! Porky can really run! However that attempt was to attract newcomers to the club. Didn’t work. Taichi comes in with a list of individual competitions left throughout the year that they need to improve themselves. Halfway through, he gets a call from his girlfriend and he is cool in breaking up! The rest must be really shocked, huh? Not the breakup, but rather he has (or now, had) a girlfriend! We see Kanade practising her swings and Chihaya giving advice on her sitting posture. Tsutomu is glad he gave karuta a chance because he can change not only mentally and physically unlike others who saw how complicated it was and turned it down before trying. Chihaya is also practising her swings but it’s scaring the public! Taichi and Nishida are disheartened to see each other at Kanazawa qualifier. They thought they were sneaky behind each other’s back to get promoted to Class A. Hiro is also there but nobody gives a damn about him. Chihaya trains further under Harada and though she has improved after battling Shinobu, she still hasn’t cut down on her mistakes. Thus Harada tells her to stop taking cards with her speed. It’s understandable that Taichi and Nishida are depressed over their lost but Chihaya too? Yeah, Harada’s words are still ringing in her ears and she doesn’t understand what it means. She wanted to be fast but he told her she need not be that because it doesn’t matter if she can take a few cards fast. If she loses the other cards, she loses the match. No use moping around so they practice among themselves. Though Chihaya wins against Tsutomu, the latter seems to be keeping data and statistics of sections of the board he is able to take cards from Chihaya in all their previous meetings. He notes she has trouble with 3 syllable cards and should place it in an area she has least chance of taking. Kanade even points out Chihaya makes lots of faults because she wants to take a card fast. So now it’s poem appreciation time as she explains 2 cards with nearly similar poems (only separated by 200 years between them!). In the end, what karuta is to Kanade is the meaning of poems and this made Chihaya realize that karuta for her is speed. Miyauchi sees a shocking scene she never would have imagined happening: Chihaya in the library reading up on the meanings of the poems! Well, that’s a good start now that she realizes speed isn’t just enough.

Episode 18
Chihaya and the rest are playing in their first official tournament that isn’t limited to high school students at Saitama. Chihaya faces off with a sweet elderly lady, Sakura Kanai who praises her hakama. Trying to make an aggressive start, Chihaya screws up, snatching the wrong cards with her lightning speed. Sakura is just cool and slow taking the right ones. Though she praises her speed, she also says the faster they are, the higher chance they get mixed up. Harada’s words suddenly start to make sense to her. After a streak of dead cards, Chihaya continues to make faults. She needs to rethink when Sakura says it feels like she’s playing against the cards only. Then it hit Chihaya that Sakura has been observing her playing style and making it hard for her. Partly I think Chihaya’s actions were easy to read like a book by anybody. Remembering Tsutomu’s analysis, Chihaya moves back a little since she realizes her habit of using too much force for going after every card. Sakura observes her character and continues to confuse her and seeing her agonizing face is just music to her ears. Chihaya realizes she needs to observe her karuta play as well and finally notices about the 3 syllable timing. Though she claws her way back, Chihaya lost by 3 cards. Later she meets Sakura and her family to thank her. She learns Sakura has been playing karuta for 35 years. Though she has never won any major titles and kept losing to younger players, she still harbours the dream to become Queen. More importantly, she loves playing karuta. Now the ‘worst’ part for Chihaya. Since she has been reduced to a spectator, she is torn to see the final match of Class B between Taichi and Nishida, and final match of Class D between Kanade and Tsutomu! Oh sh*t! Hiro is also here to observe them because he is going to learn and take whatever he can get from the winners. Kanade makes an impressive start as Chihaya realizes it may be her grace in wearing kimono that is helping to support her posture. Tsutomu also has analyzed Kanade and knows her quirks from all the data and observations from her. He knows Kanade recognizes the cards not by its syllable but its history and value behind them. Though everything is too fast for Chihaya to catch, she realizes that she is not here just to watch or support them as their captain. She’s going to learn and take whatever she can.

Episode 19
Chihaya observes Tsutomu has made 2 faults and it is not just cards that you lose when you made them. You lose your composure and focus too. So much so he sent the wrong card over to Kanade. Chihaya knows Tsutomu’s tendency to give up when he is losing and looks forward to the next match. Only that there is no more next match! This is the finals. Tsutomu is down by 8 cards and needs to strategize. He lumps the cards on his side to one corner so that when the cards are read, he can just hit them all away (as I read, if you touch the correct card on your side even if there are incorrect ones, it is not a fault). He is gambling that his cards are being read. This tactic allows him to close the gap. But in the end it is Kanade who wins. Tears of joy. Not even Chihaya can hold hers back. But that soon turns into horror because she totally forgot the other important match between Taichi and Nishida so she bugs Hiro for an update. They’re both down to a card each and it boils down to luck on whose card is to be read first. The tension is growing with a streak of dead cards being read. Taichi’s mind is tired but he is trying to analyze the cards that have been read and are still in play. Taichi instead of playing defensive surprises everyone by being offensive but of course all the cards read so far are dead cards. In the end it was Nishida’s card that was read and being on his side means he was faster in getting it. Nishida wins by a single card. Though it is understandable that Taichi feels bitter over his defeat, he tries not to blame Nishida (because unlike him, he didn’t know what cards were left). Nishida comes to cheer him up that he is glad he is the club’s president unlike a certain captain that gives them weird nicknames. Oh, see the shock on Chihaya’s face when she heard that? Nishida wants to continue playing karuta with him. On the way back, Chihaya tries hard to call her friends via their real names. Sounds so unnatural. As pointed out, the top 3 finalists in Class D gets promoted so Tsutomu has also advanced to the next class. Chihaya notes Kanade’s improvement in the match and could take cards without making a sound and too much force. She wished she could do that but the rest point out Chihaya did that during the last card against Sudou. She doesn’t remember. Unbelievable! Kanade notes she didn’t feel so much pressure because she was playing with Tsutomu and wasn’t focused on winning. Chihaya wants to play a team match with everyone with them. They can hardly wait since they’ve gotten stronger since. Arata sees the result at Saitama and decides he will be participating for the west Master qualifier.

Episode 20
Miyauchi forbids Chihaya to participate in the last major tournament at Yoshino before the Master/Queen qualifier. That’s because she has her first exam the next day. She needs to give some thought about her future or doom she will have to repeat her year. She already has assigned a tutor for her: Tsutomu. Nishida also wants some help. So Taichi is going by himself but Nishida points out official standards would allow Class B to advance if they are placed second twice. However most karuta society rules would prefer them to win a major tournament. At the tournament, Taichi not only runs to Harada but Arata. Their first meeting ever since Fukui. Arata passes a note containing his contacts to Taichi. He thought he would be in Class A but since he’s not, he wants him to pass it to Chihaya. Speaking of that girl, she gives Tsutomu the slip and sneaks out to go cheer for Taichi. Divine retribution has it that she took the train in the wrong direction. That’s what you get for skipping your responsibilities despite her reasoning she doesn’t want Taichi to be alone when he wins or loses. By the time she arrives, Taichi has already lost in the third round. When he tells her Arata is playing, she enters the hall to see him in action. Looks like he hasn’t lost his touch but he is up against Taichi’s comrade from Shiranami, Hiroshi Tsuboguchi. Taichi’s jealousy rears its ugly head again, in a dilemma whether to give the note to Chihaya or not. In the end Arata loses the match but it left Hiroshi stunned because he thought Arata reached it first. After some emotional support from Taichi, we see Chihaya frantically trying to write down everything in her notebook. Finally she calms down but before she manages to talk, furious Kanade arrives to drag her back. Yeah, they’re going to study on the train. Not a moment to waste. Taichi passes the note back to Arata so that he could give it to Chihaya himself. But he is worried that the duo might be a couple so Taichi denies they are anything near that. When Chihaya gets back, Tsutomu tells her how Taichi always get top grades. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to quite karuta. With the remarks she doesn’t need to do anything she doesn’t want to do before she can do the things she truly wants to do, Chihaya is all fired up to study. She should put more effort into her studies like this as she did for karuta. Harada offers Taichi to be promoted to Class A since he was placed second in 2 Class B summer tournaments so he can play in the east qualifier. But Taichi rejects it because he is not focused on making into Class A but rather someone who doesn’t run away.

Episode 21
With the exams over, it’s more karuta practice. The gang notice something surprising when Taichi read the cards. He memorized every one of them and is reciting them randomly from his memory without looking at them! So Nishida ‘reprimands’ him about using his eyes and practice his swinging because karuta is about playing both the body and mind (I thought that sounded pervy). The good news is that Miyauchi announces Chihaya did not fail any exam. But what motivates Chihaya was Miyauchi’s support for her for the Queen qualifier. Inside the building for the qualifier, Chihaya is super focused. Till Sudou had to point out ‘the person who lost to Queen by 20 cards’. Struck a nerve, didn’t he? Chihaya also gets back at him that she beat him. They challenge each other whoever loses first will shave their head. Didn’t think about that one thoroughly, no, Chihaya? I guess all her focus just went down the drain. Also, Harada forbids Kanade to make Chihaya wear the kimono because the intense heat in this building will be a killer. Though many tournaments will be played in air-conditioned rooms, this one is played tightly shut without even fans. Why? Because every sound matters. Nishida is paired with Sudou in the first round and Chihaya against Ririka Tachikawa who is said to be a genius and the next Queen after Shinobu. And she’s only 10 years old. Don’t take her lightly. Harada and Hiroshi receive first round byes so they watch Chihaya at play. Hiroshi wonders why Harada prevented Chihaya from using her best weapon which is speed.

When the match starts, Ririka was super fast to take a card that it stunned Chihaya. Reminds you of Shinobu, eh? But Chihaya observes her play and finally matches her timing and takes a card. She realizes what Harada and Sakura’s words meant. Ririka sulks whenever Chihaya hits a streak. “She got the card but she’s slow…”. I think Chihaya’s hearing is as good as hers to pick that up. Ririka makes several faults on dead cards but Chihaya keeps her calm. By the way, Nishida already lost at this point. Harada gives Chihaya the signal to use her speed. Now she turns into a totally different person. It’s like even before the first syllable is read, she already took the card! Did you see that coming?! Ririka is on the verge of tears… In the end, Chihaya wins but both girls are trying to hold back their tears. Ririka draws a lucky mark on Chihaya’s palm. She hears people talking she’s not good as the rumours said she were to be the next Shinobu so Chihaya interrupts and shuts them up by yelling for chocolates. She’s devouring them! So unlady-like. So worrying… Chihaya believes there was someone for Ririka who first encouraged her like how Arata did for her. She has always treasured that memory. Elsewhere, Arata got past the first round but learns his senpai Murao has lost to somebody younger. I guess he hasn’t had much practice lately. Looks like all hopes are pinned on Arata because Murao notes even though Nagumo has lots of potential karuta players, not many can be Master. He views Arata as just a challenger because the current Master, Hisashi Suou can’t be defeated. Arata gets a mail from Taichi about Chihaya’s advancement and a ‘reminder’ he better be the western qualifier finalist because his goal is to be the eastern qualifier finalist.

Episode 22
Chihaya is in a frantic as she tells Harada her next opponent is Yumi Yamamoto. Who? The previous Queen. Oh sh*t. However Yumi seems gloomy and pessimistic. She’s sizing up how pretty Chihaya looks and all. Since Yumi is from the same society with Nishida, Taichi wants to know more about Yumi’s play. Unfortunately Nishida still haven’t recovered from that sadistic lost by 20 cards from Sudou. When he does, he says the real Yumi isn’t like that. She settled down and took it easy ever since she became Queen but her real play is being stubborn and persistent. Before he can reveal anything further, Suihoku’s coach, Kitano drags him away to cheer for Yumi. As the play begins, Chihaya doesn’t make any mistake while Yumi is left to reflect her ownself. She worked hard for 10 years to become Queen but that lasted only a year as Shinobu snatched the title away from her. The heat is getting intense that the windows are fogging up! Chihaya notices the calluses on Yumi’s hands and knows she’s been playing karuta since young. However because of her lack of passion and ironically in a room where the heat is getting hotter, her soul is getting colder. She won’t let this person take a card from her. Yumi further thinks back after her loss to Shinobu, Kitano gave her encouragement she can exact her revenge next year. But the more tournaments she participate, the earlier she exits them. Nishida realizes that it isn’t tired of losing nor has she lost her passion. Rather, she is tired of meeting expectations.

Meanwhile Kanade is saddened that everyone isn’t listening to the poems. Except for the reader whose voice is clear and maintains her professional composure. Tsutomu adds that readers undergo training and exams that there are less than 10 special readers who qualify to read for the Master match. Chihaya makes a wrong move and a double fault on her Chihayafuru card which brings relief to Yumi. Suddenly Kitano opens the window to let the air in. He argues with the officials that the heat is killing them and should wipe the windows (or else the spectators can’t see anything from outside). He tells Yumi to play her own karuta. Though she gets her confidence back, she is dismayed that the cool air also refreshed Chihaya and his words gave hope to other simpletons to play their own karuta. In a match that has both of them touching the cards at the same time, Yumi argues loudly that it is her little finger that touched the card though Chihaya claims that she knocked it over. Chihaya gives in to her persistence. This is the real Yumi. The one who stubbornly contests every card that are close call with absolute confidence. This happens frequently as Chihaya no choice has to submit to her. With Yumi back in her groove, Chihaya starts losing her confidence. In the end, Yumi wins and this leaves Chihaya depressed.

Episode 23
I know Chihaya is upset but does she have to go hide in the locker? Sudou isn’t forgiving either and wants a picture of her shaved head. When Harada learns about this, he challenges Sudou that if he wins, the bet is off. Taichi sits by the locker and thought news of Arata’s advancement would cheer her up. At least she’s replying. Knocking on the locker? Is she sending Morse code? Chihaya finally comes out when the fourth round match has Harada paired with Sudou. I guess they have to go cheer on him. That’s when we hear Taichi saying to himself that he likes Chihaya. Yeah, we figured that out like many episodes ago. Harada wins the match and Chihaya gets to keep her hair. However he tells her no matter how upset she is, she must thank her opponent, something she didn’t do when she lost to Yumi. In the end, Hiroshi and Yumi become Master and Queen respectively to represent the east and they will take on their western counterparts in a best-of-3 match to earn the right to face this year’s Master and Queen. And what is this? Chihaya getting hit on by a guy from another school? Can’t blame him. He doesn’t know. Chihaya doesn’t know what to do since this is her first time! Should she? Should she not? Well, Taichi seems pretty jealous though he ‘allows’ her to go out for experience but doubts it will last since he knows she can’t go out with those who haven’t seen her play karuta. Yeah well, Chihaya’s getting lots of mail from that guy already so Taichi blocks his address! There you go, his true colours.

Chihaya meanwhile wonders if she should call Arata too. He lost in the fourth round and wonders how he is feeling. Arata needs more practice but it seems nobody in his society dares to play with him. He is desperate enough to seek Murao’s help but that guy can’t help him. For a guy who abandoned karuta and then come back asking his help? Feels odd doesn’t it? Arata knows because he’s been through it and lack of practice means you’ll regret it one day if you stay away too far from karuta. But Murao knows he can’t play at that level to become Master anymore. All he plays for is for fun. Chihaya and Taichi attend the east versus west Master/Queen karuta challenge. In the end, Hiroshi lost to Keichi Takemura but Yumi wins. Hiroshi emotionally breaks down when Harada comes to see him. This bitterness of losing Chihaya knows it too well. Chihaya’s friend is worried about her. No, not her studies (she’s glad she ranked 290th in her grade!), but her social life since she’s spending too much time on karuta. Chihaya is forced to attend their class’ Christmas Eve party and what do you know? She really looks cute and pretty in that dress! She talks with the other classmates who are in lesser known clubs and they thank her because of the karuta club, it gave them inspiration to do their best. Taichi too attends his class party but I think he felt he got screwed because he’s the only guy around! After the party, Chihaya calls Arata. She is lost for words but Arata who is in the midst of his society’s party, knows it is her. Finally when she manages to say something, she tells him the awesomeness of handphones and some poetry thingy that has to do with the misty bridge. Huh?

Episode 24
Chihaya is over at Taichi’s home to watch the Master/Queen finals. I guess it’s because he has a 42 inch TV, eh? But Chihaya is getting nervous because Taichi’s mom is watching her. Their other friends arrive to watch the match together and they are surprised to see the defending Queen, Shinobu fat! MY GOODNESS!!! SHE’S SO FAT!!!!!!!! What happened?! While Kanade is more appalled about her choice of kimono, Chihaya notices some rare cards obtained by eating ice cream and collecting its stickers. Maybe that’s how she got fat. Will this affect her play because now she has additional body weight. Well, apparently not because Shinobu wins the first match of the best-of-3 match by 5 cards. Shinobu thinks back on her past. Her mother divorced when she was young and they went back to live with grandma on a condition that she finds a talent and becomes good at it. Though she is good in many things, she does them in a quirky way. Till she finds the drawings on the karuta card amusing, did grandma tell her to go to a nearby karuta society if she’s interested. The second round begins as Yumi puts forth her plan. Her sensei and her society members have done their homework and realize Shinobu cannot last in long matches so if she drags the match, her chance of recapturing her title will be brighter.

Shinobu realizes it is not the weight of her kimono that is affecting her. She needs to buck up or else the karuta cards will hate her. Flashback reveals her classmates find her creepy in starring at those cards all day long. So they played a prank by hiding them everywhere. But Shinobu didn’t cry and went to find all of them instead. And she found them all with ease. If not, the cards ‘come’ to her. That’s why just as she loves karuta, karuta also loves her. Despite Yumi making a great start, Shinobu gradually claws her way back, regains control of the game and wins by 13 cards. Yumi heads back to her room feeling frustrated. Despite knowing she had no chance against Shinobu, yet many of her supporters came all the way from Tokyo to cheer her. She starts crying but realizes they are eavesdropping from the next room. She hopes her sensei could help her out again as she wants to come back here next year. Now that the Queen’s match is over, the attention is focused on the Master’s match. Though it is running concurrently with the Queen’s match, it is best-of-5 match. And the defending Master, Suou (who hasn’t even graduated from college yet) has already won 2 straight games. His opponent Takemura is at his limit. He can’t take this anymore. He has worked so hard to achieve his dream and now he is beginning to hate karuta. If Suou wins this match, he will be Master for the fourth consecutive year. Nishida wants Chihaya to watch this match because her style is closer to Suou. Then everyone sees him pulling off the fastest move. Just as it seemed the reader hasn’t said the first syllable, his hand has already moved to the correct card. And the commentator mentions that most players have only 7 one-syllable cards but to Suou, he has 28 of them!

Episode 25
Suou continues to dominate the match and he is pulling off this extraordinary feat without much sweat. I’m sure the audiences are still so stunned that he reached the cards so fast but to him it must be the umpteenth boring same ol’, same ol’. So what is this guy? Is he a psychic?! Arata is also watching the match and tries visualizing playing against Suou. Of course reality bites. There’s only a limit on how confident you can be. In the end, Suou easily wins and defends his title. Yumi’s coach notes this year’s Master and Queen are very good and in a class of their own but have no teacher figures. He feels it’s a waste because they can’t be teachers. And Taichi and his friends are so depressed… It’s not like they’re the one who lost, right? I know. They can’t beat the Master at this rate, right? When they leave, Tsutomu cheers Chihaya up by saying she has 20 one-syllable cards. Taichi calls Arata and asks him about the Master’s match. Arata has asked some people in Nagumo and to help him better understand the way the Master plays, he is practising and learning how he lines up his cards. Arata gets a further boost when Murao returns to practise with him. In class, Tsutomu has a stack of notes that he has observed on Chihaya. That’s a lot of time writing it down. Based on his observation, that’s why he could conclude that there are probably 20 one-syllable words that she herself should’ve noticed. She isn’t too sure but if you can’t trust yourself, trust his data! He also notes not only her or Suou can do this but most people with good game sense that enables them to anticipate the next sound. Kanade sees Chihaya going through Tsutomu’s notes and saying out those on-syllable words. Chihaya gets startled when she realizes she is watching her weird activity. She just admitted it was weird… Anyway Kanade realizes she has a dream now. She wants to become a certified reader and read the cards in Chihaya’s Queen match. Chihaya is so happy for her because it means Kanade is going to work hard to become a Class A player. Eh? Say what?

The karuta members being practising their usual game among themselves. Kanade seems down. She just realized how hard it is to become a certified reader. Yeah, so many requirements. How many years will it take her to be Class A material? They see Taichi practising his swings, something he would never do. Taichi remembers Arata told him something extra. His grandpa told him you don’t need game sense to play karuta as long as you can take the cards faster than your opponent. It might be difficult to reach a similar level of game sense but there are lots of other ways to take cards faster. With that, Taichi turns into a sadist and plays psychology on Chihaya. If she loses this match, she must burn her teddy bear dolls! Scary! True enough, her concentration level drops by 10%! Oh dear. I hope he won’t turn into the next Sudou. Kanade reads the cards and she realizes how hard it is to keep her focus and consistency. Sometimes she’s fast, sometimes she’s slow, sometimes her voice jumped. But this isn’t going to stop her from achieving her dream. Meanwhile Miyauchi is in a discussion with other teachers. She vehemently puts her foot down when they want the karuta club to be relocated so that the concert band could use their room seeing they do not have many members. Miyauchi argues they need a sound proof environment and that’s that. Nobody dares go against her. Wow. That’s how much she is loves her club. Till an old teacher challenges her if she manages to recruit 5 new members next year, they’ll stay where they are. So Miyauchi slips a handwritten letter about this seemingly impossible task to recruit 5 new members though they manage to increase their budget to 30,000 Yen. Everyone is dismayed except Kanade. Because they will have more funds! The new term begins and it’s like a sense of deja vu. New students overhear a pretty sister of a pretty model in this school and want to go see her. Till they of course see her trying to put up karuta recruitment posters in track pants. Yeah, getting an earful from Miyauchi too, huh? And what’s this? She failed her final exams! Oh dear. Once the commotion settles, Miyauchi secretly points to another spot she should put up another recruitment poster. Oh, you devil.

The Hand Is Faster Than The Eye
If the ending doesn’t seem anything much, that’s because a second season was given the green light in early 2013 (which is already in the midst of running by the time of this blog). So I guess Chihaya and her members will have another shot of trying to become the best as they hone their skills and face even tougher and equally eccentric opponents from across the country in various karuta competitions. Yeah, I anticipate this is how the second season is going to be. Or they could be searching high and low, trying to recruit that elusive 5 extra members to double their number. What else can they put in? Go on a journey to obtain a magical item that will save the world?! Maybe if they do it as a single episode filler-cum-distraction (which turns out to be somebody’s dream) then maybe. Just maybe. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

So I’m not really hook on karuta because I’m still lost about the game. Thought I do have a basic idea on the very basic game play but that is just about it. Because for most of the matches shown, I will just be sitting there dumbfounded with my mouth wide open (okay, I exaggerated this part) without understanding what is going on simply because everything happened too fast. Actually the anime slowed it down for us to see and you know TV shows, they have to otherwise viewers won’t really see anything. In real life, everything will be over in a blink of an eye. Blink and you’ll miss. It also goes to show that karuta isn’t just a simple game and just like any competitive games, the competition gets intense. It’s not about just your skills as there are many factors to take into account just to defeat your opponent. Well, I’m not really well verse into karuta so it’s somewhat an eye opener that it’s just not speed and memorization but also your opponent’s habits, psychological tactics and environmental factors that could tilt the scale in your favour. Nobody ever said karuta was easy, right? Amateurs who know nothing about the game can still learn about the rules as it does a decent explanation to fill you in. Therefore it’s rather strange that for a game that really doesn’t interest me (nor I can see myself picking it up as I grow older), somehow I find the series an intriguing watch. It’s like there is something interesting that compels me to watch the show despite not understanding the game mechanics in full. Maybe it’s the suspense and intensity in the matches that keeps you on the edge (even if I don’t know what’s going on). Maybe it’s the interaction between the characters and the fact you can’t help root for Chihaya and co to do their best. Maybe it’s just Chihaya. She’s pretty… Oops.

As it goes to show that despite Chihaya having found her true love and calling in karuta and perhaps showing lots of great talent, she is not perfect in the game. Where would be the fun if the main protagonist keeps winning all the matches from start till finish? You can only gain such valuable experience by playing with different opponents. Thus Chihaya definitely learnt a lot throughout the year and hopefully she’ll return much wiser in the new year. So you see her imperfection (and of course her character quirks) as she tries to improve herself. In both her game level and her relationship with others around her. Sometimes she might not realize it but she often needs others to point out her weaknesses. It is only then she realizes perhaps what she is doing not right and starts thinking. I guess this applies to most of us too because we usually see everyone else except ourselves. As said, Chihaya’s honest nature can be a double edged sword but it’s fun to see her react especially when she panics or looking very surprised. She looks pretty funny (yes, also pretty and funny. Geddit?). Can I consider that her charm point? You can say that Chihaya in this mode provides much of the comical relief in the series.

Not only Chihaya, but the other characters also develop and grow. Taichi seems like the guy who is keeping the glue on everybody to stick together. Would Chihaya have done a better job? Think not. I’m sure we must have guessed it by now that Taichi indeed loves Chihaya deep down in his heart but trying to confess that might take a while. I think that will be on a whole different level too. Maybe it’s because of that love for Chihaya that he’s seemingly making the karuta club work and stick together. Worried what will become of her if she is left to her own device? She only knows how to play karuta her way and everything else close to zero. How often do you hear main characters failing their crucial exams at the end? Even no hopers have more luck than her. For a guy like Arata, it must be hard being the grandson of a famous Master because expectations from others are high. Even if he is a karuta genius, he is still human. So when he lost his dear grandpa, his world came crumbling down and the karuta he once loved became his nightmare. But it’s all thanks to Chihaya and Taichi that he finally found the flame to love the game once more. It’s not that he hated the game, he was just running away from himself and reality. But karuta is an unforgiving game. You slip up a little and you fall several rungs below. I suppose Arata has to work his way up and just like the rest, he’s putting in that effort so that the childhood friends could once again meet and fulfil their promise.

As for the other karuta club members, they might not be the main stars but their support is crucial especially to Chihaya. And because of Chihaya, they also realize what is important and their own dream. Nishida seems like he is eating away if he is not playing or observing karuta, Tsutomu has brilliant notes in data keeping on karuta (he is like Prince Of Tennis’ Sadaharu Inui) while Kanade’s love for poems knows no bounds. Each of them have their own way and approach in karuta so don’t brush them off just yet. All a person need is just a chance. Maybe some need more :). We see how Miyauchi has turned from a non-believer into a dedicated advisor of the club. She realizes this isn’t a club where a few oddballs hang out and play together but one that builds character, strengthen bonds, friendship and teamwork. The current Master and Queen are still mysterious and their speed in catching their opponents off guard must have taken the world by storm. Chihaya played Shinobu and lost so we know there is unfinished business between them. There is a high chance that they might run into each other in another competitive match in the next season. Suou may look like a scruffy graduate who is on the verge of becoming a ronin but it tells you not to judge a book by its cover. Many people who play karuta hold day jobs like in Yumi’s case she is a bank teller when not playing. For Suou, there is more than meets the eye to this guy. Not much is revealed seeing he only made his appearance in the penultimate episode. But no matter how good you are, you’d be knocked off your perch one day. Will that day be for Taichi or Arata or even Chihaya? I’m not sure but karuta is a game that doesn’t segregate you based on gender, right? Maybe only for top matches.

Anybody can pick up karuta but you need lots of hard work and practice before you can be really good. Some take years and it’s frustration for some that they are nowhere close to their dream after so long. Only a few can make the cut and become true masters. The suspense of each match is intensified with the drama and thoughts of the players. You’re also not facing your opponent but the enemy within yourself. So I guess that the ‘action’ is where the players start swinging their hand towards the card to take them. When I first saw how they passionately swing with such intensity, I thought it was just ‘brutal’. Well, some really swing it in style and grace. Is there an art in swinging your arm? Sometimes I feel if they swing too hard, I envision the card will be flung away and get stuck on somebody’s forehead, turning it into a comical slapstick. Because of the violent frenzy in going for the card, the scene reminds me like how similar it is to button mashing in video games. You don’t know the moves, just hit away and you might just get it right. Also, the way I see some players violently swinging, thus causing some adjacent cards to be flung away too, it makes me wonder if you can use both hands (or your feet) to do the swinging. Because I read that as long as you touch the correct card on your side, those adjacent cards even though touched won’t amount to a fault or penalty. And cards do get shuffled around, right? So what’s the point of memorizing? See, I barely understand the rules so how can I really further my interest?

The drawing and art at first may look like it has lots of beautiful people especially when you have pretty girls like Chihaya and Chitose and pretty boys like Taichi around. But for some characters, they just look different. I won’t go so far as to say that they are ugly but well, not pretty. For example, Hiro looks like a bag of bones if you ask me. Tsutomu and Nishida’s simple facial details make them look slightly comical. A nerd and a fatty. See what I mean? But there is one thing about the art that bugs me the most. I notice that at times and at certain angles, the characters will have one strip of white line straight down their sideburns. It is like though they put too much and excessive Brylcreem cream and forgot to wipe it off. Sometimes it becomes too ‘glaring’ that I couldn’t take my focus away from it. I just kept staring and staring… I thought it was some sort of light reflection but really, how come only that part is ‘white’? Trademark art? Well, I thought they could really do away with this unnecessary distraction.

I’m not really familiar with the Fukui accent and perhaps from my point of view it isn’t as ‘popular’ as the Osakan accent. That’s because I really find it odd that Arata and his fellow townspeople really speak in such a deep local accent that it sounds like as though they’re partly singing. Yoshimasa Hosoya as the voice of Arata probably sounded like the part because he definitely didn’t sound like Katanagatari’s Shichika and Inu x Boku SS’ Sorinozuka. Other casts include Asami Seto as Chihaya (Konatsu in Tari Tari), Mamoru Miyano as Taichi (Shinku in Dog Days), Tooru Nara as Nishida (Scarecrow in Jormungand), Tsubasa Yonaga as Tsutomu (Nova in Arcana Famiglia), Ai Kayano as Kanade (Inori in Guilty Crown), Unshou Ishizuka as Harada (Bunta in Initial D), Takahashi Oohara as Sudou (Tsurugi Kyousuke in Inazuma Eleven Go), Kazuya Nakai as Hiro (Hijikata in Gintama), Mihoko Nakamichi as Shinobu, Yuko Kaida as Yumi (Ryoumou in Ikkitousen), Toshiko Fujita as Miyauchi (Saniwa in Kurozuka) and Aya Endo as Chitose (Matsu in Sekirei). The opening theme is a lively rock piece, Youthful by 99RadioService that gets you into the action and feel of karuta. I guess every sports themed anime needs this sort of beat to get you into the pace of the game. As for the pop-like ending theme, Soshite Ima, although it is sung by Asami Seto, at first I thought she sounded like Madonna singing in Japanese! Maybe straining my ears too much in this show has got some side effect…

As you probably guessed, though I would gladly watch the anime, but I won’t be taking up karuta. My memorization skills are so bad that I can’t even remember a single poem (though funnily I can remember the lyrics for my favourite anime songs). Even if the reader reads the poem finish, I still won’t guess the correct card. My hearing is so bad since I haven’t dug my ears in years. My reflexes are so slow that a turtle would’ve probably reached its destination by the time I picked the card. I guess those are just excuse for me not wanting to try the game ;p. So can karuta actually improve your memory power, hearing and reflex? Best of all, can it really make you lose weight? If it was everybody would’ve been playing karuta. Maybe all I’m interested is the chocolate one gets to eat to recharge. It’s a surprise that Japanese-popular only sports can appeal to the mass and non-Japanese when turned into manga and anime. We’ve got judo (Yawara) and I had my stint with kendo (Bamboo Blade). I’m pretty sure that if they decide to take on sumo wrestling, I’m sure they can. Oh wait a minute. On second thought, who would want to see fat man pushing each other out of the ring? What again? Turn them into girls? Even worse. Who wants to see fat women pushing each other out of the ring even if they’re scantily clad???!!!!


January 26, 2013

There’s a time in our lives where we take the next step in life after high school and head on to further our studies in college or university. Well, at least for most of us who do not go join the workforce straightaway. Getting into college or university is no child’s play so you need to have the necessary prerequisites and qualifications to get into. What happens when you don’t? You get stuck for another year trying to just pass this entrance exam. In Japan, for those who undergo this are called ronin. Like masterless samurai warriors, they wander on their own without a proper master or guide till they get through the next level (you get by via cram schools of course). Don’t get the wrong idea about Yurumates. This show isn’t about the struggles of a group of ronin students in their never-ending attempt to get into the big U. While that remains to be their aim, what we see here are a bunch of rowdy ronins who rather party all night and get drunk at every chance instead of studying hard they should. Yes, this is a funny series as we take a peek on how they waste their precious and important time with their antics instead of doing anything productive. Get ready to laugh and be dumbfounded by their antics. Unless you’re studying hard to get into college, maybe it’s best you don’t watch this until you pass. Who knows, you may just get infected by their laziness and stupidity.

Yurumates OVA
* Yurume Aida has arrived at Tokyo from the countryside looking forward life as a cram school student. She didn’t really expect Maison Du Wish to turn out as a rundown dorm. What more, the old landlady gave her the chills that nobody here has passed! Reminds you of Maison Ikkoku, eh? She thought it was pretty normal inside till she realizes that a single room has been split into 2! She meets the other dorm mates, Sae Kawano, Kumi Tanaka and Matsukichi who without hesitation party in her room. Reminiscence of Maison Ikkoku, no? This has Yurume to think that city folks are so lawless.
* Yurume tries to boil water but it’s out of gas, the water doesn’t work and the faucet broke! Then looking at some house plans and even food menus, they start crying because they know they can’t afford such luxury. Here comes Matsukichi the saviour. Handing them bread crusts to eat, he says anything will taste good if they think so. I think they got carried away at how delicious it was.
* Matsukichi suggests going to a nearby park. They see the children playing tag and think of getting nostalgic by playing tag. Unfortunately the police haul Matsukichi in because he looked like some pervert chasing the girls. Then they decide to play a grown up version but it looks so much like stalking and once more he got hauled in. Kumi then suggests hanami and to select the person who’ll be responsible in securing a spot, they’ll play tag! Matsukichi objects!
* Yurume is disheartened she forgot about her rice cooker a month ago and something deadly must be growing inside by now. Sae thinks of the excitement of playing dare with it but eventually they dare not open. Kurumi the ‘pro’ takes up the challenge by pressing the buttons randomly with her eyes closed. Then she throws the rice cooker at Yurume. She misses and hits the wall and the lid comes open. Matsukichi then comes in with his rice cooker he has not opened for 3 years! Wow! Something nasty is inside! Yurume realizes her own rice cooker is empty. Wasn’t there something in it? Sae remembers she was broke last month and at some of the contents. Kumi and Matsukichi too…
* Yurume and Sae are fighting over for the fan. Then comes in Kumi. She’s keeping her cool pretty well. She points out something scary on the wall and this causes Yurume to freak out. See? That’s one way to keep cool, right? But will she stop scaring her already? Yurume thought of using a wash basin but Kumi and Sae use it to drop on each other’s head! Has the heat gone to their head? So Yurume and Matsukichi head outside and cool themselves with the natural breeze.
* Summer is hot but do not fear. Sae returns with an air-cond main unit. I guess they have no money to fix it so they have to fix it themselves. Do they know how? No. Back to fighting over the fan again. Kumi comes in suggesting to eat ice cream. That’s about it. It’s only a suggestion. Noticing the air-cond, she scares them by saying it eats up bugs. So Sae and Yurume throw it away. But when they return, they see the air-cond unit back in their room? Did Kumi bring it back? Second round of throwing it away. This time they see a sofa instead. Kumi brought back the wrong one? Air-cond turned into a sofa? Tired from it all, then comes in Matsukichi claiming he has picked up an air-cond unit. Here we go again.
* As Yurume chides Sae for being too relaxed with her recklessness, Kumi comes in with a guitar but soon returns with a harisen (paper fan). Sae teases her about graduating. Kumi didn’t hit her with the fan but crushes her forehead! Because Yurume is sick of noodles, Kumi suggests making nabe. Yeah, it’s getting pretty hot cooking inside the room. Matsukichi comes in with leftover fireworks from last year. Turns out to be a parachute firework. Don’t see anything in the dark, do they?
* The girls talk about autumn so it’s Sae versus Kumi using book and harisen respectively. Yurume puts her foot down to respect books. Or else she’ll do something horrible with her lighter. She suggests doing some autumn reading but guess what? She was the one who fell asleep first! Yeah, even Kumi is prepared for bed. They discuss the things they want for autumn but I guess it’ too bad they’re just poor. Sushi… Mercedes Benz… Matsukichi thought he could cheer things up but I suppose he chose the wrong subject because he mentions about the spring of new lifestyle. Even more depressing for the girls.
* Sae thinks of sleeping throughout winter so Yurume wants them to at least do something indoors. Sumo? Then comes Kumi with her manjuus. Why is there Russian Roulette in the name? One is fiery hot and the rest are extremely spicy. Yurume lost the rock-scissors-paper and goes first. Erm? Is that reaction hot or extremely spicy? Next is Sae. She can’t tell either, eh? Kumi ends it but Sae isn’t going to let her go when Matsukichi comes in and bites one. I guess he got the hot one. Then the girls play manjuu push while leaving Matsukichi out in the corner.
* Yurume gets a cold from staying too long underneath the kotatsu. Sae insists she got a kotatsu disease. Look what happened to Matsukichi last year. He stayed there for a week! Sure he’s not just lazy? They go visit him and it seems he has already brought it out. They snuggle in the warmness and just when Yurume is about to return to her room, she realizes how cold it is outside and changes her mind. She’s here to stay. Fearing that they would be stuck and couldn’t leave, Matsukichi calls Kumi for help. But she too joins in. Looks like they can never leave…
* Sae and Yurume talk how they play in the snow. For Sae, she often made snowmen. She tried to make the biggest one by destroying others. Kumi suggest having dark nabe since it’s going to get chilly tonight and be prepared to meet after getting the necessary items. She means the ingredients and not just bowls and chopsticks! So lights out as we hear lots of weird sounds splashed into the nabe pot. This is going to be really one terrifying nabe. Matsukichi dreams of having some nabe on this cold night. He’s about to get his wish. Here come the girls with leftovers. See their ‘dead’ face?
* The girls do a little performance of their own. Yurume did some card tricks and Sae’s ventriloquism failed. Nobody wants to hear about Kumi’s song-cum-narration. Cut everything out! Matsukichi suggests playing King Game. Yurume thought she had the ‘king’ but Sae’s had ‘greater king’. What’s this? The ‘president’ for Matsukichi? But the sure winner is Kumi because she got ‘celebrity’. So the gang stayed up drinking and when it’s time to clean up, Kumi takes out more sake and the drinking continues. Happy New Year!
* Yurume and Sae talk about their life as a high school student. Nothing ordinary. If you think that riding a horse to school or standoff with some monster isn’t normal. Heck, it’s totally weird! Kumi quips she was a child prodigy and loves imitating teachers. They think Matsukichi never changed a bit but he disagrees. He shows them his photo album and well, he looks the same ever since he was a baby, a little kid and a high school boy.
* Yurume narrates about the life she has now. Every day is going to be quite a handful with such cheerful mates around but they’re good friends. Everything is alright as usual. As for her studies… Erm… I think she can’t even comment on it. Heck, she doesn’t even know what day it is today!

Yurumates Wa? OVA
* While we see the residents of Maison Du Wish in their usual frolicking, Sae’s sister, Imouto (let’s just call her that) pays them a visit. Though the rest are happy to get to know her, Imouto isn’t amused that Sae turned out to be a trash. She’s living in trash. If she’s not concerned about Sae, what is she doing here? It would be a bother if she turns up dead since she doesn’t call or write to the family so she intends the stay here to keep an eye on her to prevent her from ‘falling’ anymore. Aren’t big sisters supposed to do that? Speaking of dead, Sae my already by ‘dead’. Socially dead, that is. Haha!
* We see the difference in the sisters. Sae the total slacker who only does her homework on the last day (in which she eventually gave up) while Imouto has her schedule nicely done. Sae and Yurume want to help her with ‘that experience’ but she refuses and calls them mud balls. Then it’s like Sae tries to shift the captaincy to Yurume when Kumi comes in. She talks about bug collection and Matsukichi shows them his. Roach motel!
* Yurume catches a cold. Guess who are to blame? All night partying with you know who, eh? Sae comes in with the wrong medicine. She got Solmac. Then she gives Yurume alcohol and beer to kick away the cold! WTF?! Kumi comes in. Same thing. Wrong medicine. She made a nice hot nabe for her but I don’t think Yurume has got appetite. Now Matsukichi comes in. Oh God. Not Solmac too. What gives Sae and Kumi the right to chide him for not being sensitive?! If you think Imouto is the smart one, well, this might change your opinion. Yeah, she did have Solmac in her hands but she hides it upon reading the atmosphere.
* Yurume continues to be sick for 2 weeks so Kumi shows a picture of some hideous hard-to-find plant called elixir that may cure her. Yeah, they can send Matsukichi to go fetch it. Yurume isn’t interested and wants to get more sleep. Oh, she reminds them not to call her parents too. The rest contemplate in curing Yurume. So Matsukichi still has to go bring the plant? So instead of bumming around doing nothing, they go out and search for it. Well, it started with lots of enthusiasm for Sae and Kumi but in the end they just gave up and fooled around. Poor Matsukichi had to trek several terrains and became the cannibals’ dinner! Yeah, he couldn’t find it. Nobody could. And they blamed it on Matsukichi’s uselessness. Suddenly they see the plant in the resident stray cat’s mouth. Following it, the cat has a stash of those plants right in Matsukichi’s closet! So when they present it to Yurume and she finds out where it comes from, she’s reluctant to take it. Yeah, who knows what other disease she’ll catch from it.
* Yurume is better now but they realize Imouto is missing. They search around in Sae’s room filled with cardboard boxes. Yurume thought Sae and Kumi are fooling around putting their head in the boxes. That’s because it’s like a total different dimension and scenery inside! Different box, different location! Yurume accidentally falls into one and finds herself in the shopping district. She sees Imouto lining up to play the raffles. Imouto acts like a tsundere that she’s playing just to kill time but Yurume knows she wants to win it for her sister. In the end, Imouto wins the grand prize of an overseas vacation. Trying not to act all happy in front of Yurume? Meanwhile Sae and Kumi got carried away and end up on top of some tower. No way out!
* Everyone rejoices at the overseas trip prize and dream of their dream destination. What is Imouto’s dream destination? Mouse Land? She’s a kid. But Kumi announces that the trip has a destination already: Moscow, Russia. Is this a penalty game or what? Why the heck is Kumi in a reindeer mask and the rest in Santa outfits?! Imouto is missing so Kumi announces some dramatic RPG-like search mission to save the world. In short, they’re lost. Oh, here’s another note: They have no return ticket to Japan. Lost and stranded, eh?
* They enter a shop to see the old lady keeper resembling close to their landlady granny. So alike that Kumi apologizes about being late on the rent! Yurume tries to describe Imouto but she thought they’re looking for matryoshkas. Then it’s like she won’t tell any more information if they don’t buy so Kumi gladly handles this. Looking around, she picks up a stick in the rack and though it is being told is just a hard Russian stick, Kumi buys it! Now they’re broke. And they didn’t learn anything about Sae’s whereabouts. Yeah, she got scammed too. Just an ordinary stick sold for a good price. But Kumi thinks otherwise. She tosses the stick in the air and when it lands, it supposedly points the direction where Imouto is. Can they believe that? Well, there Imouto is. Hooray! They’ve found her! Wait a minute. This place looks familiar. It’s right back where they started!!! FFFFUUUUU!!! Yurume collapses from all the ‘excitement’. So how are they going to get back? Kumi unwraps one of those magic cardboard boxes back to their room. SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT IT OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE, DIMWIT!!! When they return to the dorm, the box returns to normal. The girls realize Matsukichi is missing. Looks like he didn’t make it. Where has he gone to? He’s in some interrogation room with a Russian lady interrogating him.
* Yurume is sick once more. The cold has returned. I think she has to change her lifestyle. More importantly, change her roommates. The rest discuss why she doesn’t want to go home or contact her family so Imouto bluntly points out that Yurume lives in an apartment where all the residents have repeatedly failed to get into college. She probably doesn’t want her parents to know she lives in a place like that. Oh, so true! Sae trying to escape from reality…
* I guess the roommates can’t be more considerate, eh? They’re partying away noisily without giving a hoot to Yurume’s sickness. If that’s not enough, they come down and force her to party with them. Yeah, they’re in cosplay outfits and they force a maid outfit on her. How can they do this to a sick person?! Well, by partying, she can beat her cold. Too hard to resist? Well, like they say. If you can’t beat them, join them. Let’s party! Yeah, she doesn’t care anymore. That’s the spirit! Next morning when Yurume wakes up, she thought the Martians attacked seeing the place is in a mess. But wait. Her sickness is gone. Can it be true? Partying the night away cured her cold?


Back in 2012, this series has been given the TV adaptation called Yurumate3dei but the duration of each episode only turned out to be 3 minutes each.

Episode 1
Exactly like the first chapter in the first OVA, this first episode sees 18 year old Yurume coming to Tokyo to study and enter college. She meets the old landlady and couldn’t believe this rundown place is Maison Du Wish. Not so high class as expected, eh? Inside, she thought it was roomy but finds Sae living in her closet! After getting to know the newcomer, Sae calls Matsukichi and Kumi and they all have party to their hearts out till they passed out. Yeah, city folks aren’t apathetic. They’re just lawless.

Episode 2
Sae sees Yurume putting on maid clothes. Why? She thought it’s spring so she figured the need of an image change. I think she’s not into the part of the maid. After changing into a shirt with the label ‘baddie’, Sae suggests a change in hairstyle too and offers to cut hers. Oh no. I think it made Yurume look boyish. Yurume wants Sae to change hers too. Revenge? Definitely. She makes Sae look more girly by putting hair on her ribbons and make her wear the maid outfit. Kumi suggests a change in personality to match the change on the outside. This means Yurume has to act cool but she’s acting like a delinquent. Sae acts like a clumsy, airhead robot while Kumi as the rich obnoxious girl. Matsukichi is surprised to see the girls in their different act but learns about their image change. Eventually the bottom line is that it’s best to be yourself. Time to take everything off. That includes Yurume’s ‘wig’. No can do…

Episode 3
Yurume is hiding in a box in a corner while Sae comes in and finds a note on a table with typo error. She gets embarrassed about it and wants Sae to retake it from the top. I guess this time Sae doesn’t follow the script Yurume wants. So when she does, it’s just a prompt to wish April Fools. They try to trick Kumi next but she changes the topic about the dorm going to be demolished by next year. Sae thought she’s pulling a fast one but Kumi notes April Fools was yesterday. The rest get shocked but realized that was the April Fool’s joke itself. But Kumi gets shocked when she learns about Yurume going ‘missing’. Kumi points out the demolition will actually be 2 years time. By that time, they better find a new place to live or get into college. Then she starts laughing and obviously this is an April Fools trick. So is this place going to get abolished or not? Matsukichi comes in with a winning lottery but they don’t believe him. Too realistic a figure, eh? Sae snatches it away from him and the next day realizes those numbers really came out in the papers.

Episode 4
The girls decide to talk about Matsukichi. Feeling honoured? Well, they just realized there’s nothing interesting to ask. Kumi talks about a psych test for him. About him suddenly walking off a cliff! Then imagining him as an animal, it would be seaweed. That’s not even alive. What the hell is a dobirogeren?! Next is about his previous life. A deep sea fish? Burdock root? Oden? Then to predict his future, they do a coin toss. Heads it’s fish cake, tails is burdock root! Going back to that, no? Talking about his future, Matsukichi talks about starting his own company and having a family when Kumi suddenly interjects to make him fall off a cliff! I’m sure that guy is in despair now about his life’s ups and downs. More down than anything. They give him sing out his sorrow and he really belts it out.

Episode 5
Sae and Yurume are trying to write wishes for Tanabata. I’m not sure about Sae writing a story using several papers and something about Earth being attacked by Martians. What kind of wish is that? With the rest writing their wish, they couldn’t believe Matsukichi’s wish to be happy. Yeah, no confidence it’ll come true. Now they need to hang it and since there is no bamboo, they hang inside on their clothesline. They also make teruterubouzu so it won’t rain but it did. They bring in all the clothes outside and hang them inside. What a hanging mess. All that is left is to party like mad! Next morning, the place is in a real mess. Everything strewn all over the place. Yeah, did the Martians just attacked? Noting that their wishes won’t come true, they see Matsukichi sleeping and holding his wish. Defending it to the death?

Episode 6
The gang are going to split the watermelon. First up is Matsukichi and is given confusing directions only to realize the watermelon is still in the refrigerator! Next is Yurume but was made to do some exercise. It’s Sae’s turn but when she whacks the watermelon, the stick broke! Finally it’s Kumi’s turn and my, that stick she’s holding is damn long! Somebody is going to get hurt! Matsukichi pleads for another shot so they not only blindfold him, they also tie him up and tape his mouth. See him squirm on the floor! The girls try to use their willpower, wind power or singing to split the watermelon. I guess they’re already out of their mind. Matsukichi spots a knife and thought it would make things easier. But it seems Kumi has no intention of letting this watermelon splitting go and blindfolds herself while arming with the knife! Dangerous!

Episode 7
There is only 1 ice cream left and they need to see who gets it. Kumi changes the topic to forming a band. Not working. Not even her suggestion about resisting to eat the ice cream. She wants to hold on to it for safekeeping. Smell something fishy. Get her before she escapes! The gang enter some heat tolerance contest while wearing winter clothes but why is Kumi in her bikini? She claims it’s her winter clothes. Not buying that crap. They should’ve settled this via rock-scissors-paper in the first place and they better do it quick since the ice cream is melting. One round should settle it (not 100 rounds as Kumi suggested) and the winner goes to Yurume. Before she is able to pop it in her mouth, it crumbles. Matsukichi won’t let it go to waste and dives to eat it. Unfortunately he missed and the ice cream fell on his shirt. Everybody’s a loser.

Episode 8
Yurume is having temperature swings in summer. One minute cold with the fan on, the next too hot when it’s off. Yurume lays out the thick blanket thinking it’s going to get cold but Sae hogs it and sleeps in it while Yurume is left only with a thin one. So cold… Next morning, it’s hot like hell and Sae is not getting up from the bed despite sweating like hell. Next morning, it’s cold as predicted so Yurume decides to take out her winter clothes but the next morning, it’s hot instead. Yurume deduces the weather pattern to be alternate and that tomorrow will be cold. Nope. Hot. The rest notes she’s hopeless when it comes to 2 choices. So they make a bet on tomorrow’s weather. Yurume: Hot; Matsukichi: Cold; Sae: Just right; Kumi: Depends on the person. Next morning, it turns out hot as Yurume predicted despite sleeping under a thick blanket just in case. See, it’s important to believe in yourself. Well, I think the rest didn’t want to lose so they’re really in denial, sticking to their predictions that the weather is what they said.

Episode 9
Today, Yurume thinks of not getting out from her kotatsu. Rather, it is tightly stuck between the corridors. With Sae coming in, she gets help to lift the table top. Still stuck. Worse than before. They try to turn it sideways and got even worse. Kumi comes by and crawls beneath the small gap and gets stuck. Pulling out can’t help so they even have tea and chat while she’s in that position. The pulling continues till Matsukichi arrives and with his extra strength, the table is turned back to where it originally was. Still stuck, though. Taking a break, they party till they’re drunk. When it’s time to leave, their necks hit the table since it is at neck level. Next morning, Yurume finds herself pinned underneath the table top as it is somehow now rotated sideways. No strength…

Episode 10
Matsukichi has a horrifying dream of being tied to a stick above the fire. What kind of cult is this?! Meanwhile Yurume and Sae, I’m not sure what the heck they’re doing to pass the time while waiting for New Year’s Day to arrive. Drinking milk? It’s already expired a month ago? Sae gets her revenge by saying this bread is the last piece of food Yurume has and is going to make it disappear. How? She quickly chomps it down as Yurume tries to stop her. Kumi comes in and she does her specialty of imitations. Dead fish? Live fish? New Year just arrived and I’m not sure what the heck this is because the girls are throwing sticky hot mocha at him. Another dream? Yurume gets package from her family and though mostly are food items, there is a part time job listings magazine. You know what they’re trying to imply, right? She soon receives a second package that contains a mandarin orange they forgot to send in the first one. And also a job listings magazine… Oh, the reminder…

Episode 11
The girls talk about their dreams for the New Year. But Yurume points out they have forgotten something and that is to aim to pass the entrance exam. I guess they realize they need to be realistic so they escape reality by playing New Year games. They start writing calligraphy and Kumi suggests writing their most embarrassing secrets that they couldn’t tell others. Yurume took the bait and started writing when she realizes she had been setup because the rest pass this activity. When Matsukichi comes in, they pressure him to do the same. I think he’s serious because he is asking for a finer pen instead of the brush. Does this mean he has lots to write? While he is writing, Kumi can’t help laugh her ass off but Sae tells him he can stop now. He just keeps going and going and going and going… How many embarrassing things has he got?!

Episode 12
Spring just greeted Yurume with the newspaper slapping into her face. She suggests going for hanami but Sae thinks it’s a pain in the butt. Till Yurume mentions she has beer coupons and suddenly Sae is all into it. Next they invite Kumi but she is down with hay fever although she is denying it. And bad at doing so. Then she makes them practice to repeat lines after her. But why does it sound like making them a murder culprit?! They are to invite Matsukichi but he turns out to be an eager beaver with all the gears well prepared. All ready to go. When they reach the hanami spot, it is crowded with people and no space for them to sit and enjoy. So where else? Party hard back at the dorm.

Episode 13
While Sae is rummaging through her messy boxes to lend Yurume her reference book, she gets a call from Imouto that she’s coming over. It’s a big deal for her because if she sees this mess, she’ll get mad. So they start cleaning the place up but each time Yurume wants to put something away, Sae stops her saying that this is her favourite thing. Yeah, can’t put away anything in the end, eh? Kumi is laughing at the photo album she sees but they start having suspicious that there is a picture of Sae and a baby. They never knew she had a child. It’s her sister lah! So everyone rushes to remove the boxes. Yeah, dump it in Yurume’s room for the time being. Now it’s a big mess. Sae excuses herself to go buy clothes. I think she just escaped. Yurume spots Imouto outside Sae’s room and invites her to her own room. Yeah, one big messy place. While Yurume serves and treats Imouto nice, Sae is having a dilemma what clothes to buy. Eventually she decides on a penguin outfit. WTF?! And Imouto is at the end of her patience…

Episode 14
Imouto is calling Yurume a slob and such. Plus, she’s not leaving till Sae cleans her room. I don’t think she’ll be leaving then. The girls try to cheer Imouto up by celebrating her birthday. She’s not amused. Is she angry? Maybe she’s trying hard not to laugh. They try to do funny things to crack her up but it’s not working. When Matsukichi comes in, they want him to do something funny. I think putting both his legs into one leg of his trousers seems more disturbing than funny. Yeah, Imouto isn’t laughing either. Yurume threatens not to give him cake so panic Matsukichi trips and falls over, causing the cake to splat all over them. Well, what do you know? Imouto starts laughing. Next day, Yurume sees Imouto sleeping on top of Sae’s piles of boxes and notes how she looks just like a child. What does the word she sleep talk ‘dodge’ mean?

Episode 15
Sae gets another delivery box (probably this is how her place got piled up with them) and this time it is a magic wand toy. Imouto seems to take a liking for it and plays with it. Kumi pops up and shows them a sack she’s called in which she calls Spring Memorial. Memories of spring? Something inside is moving! Don’t want to find out either! Matsukichi shows them his, which is some ordinary stick. If that’s the case, why not just play with the wand? Yeah, he’ so happy he can be some sort of a wizard despite it being a toy. He falls into Kumi’s trap by repeating some made up nonsensical lines as he tries to cast a spell on them to be nice on him. Not working…

Episode 16
The girls are discussing the exotic places they could go for the Golden Week holidays. Well, since they’ve got no money, Sae, Imouto and Kumi will be heading home. Yurume is disheartened she’ll be left alone. Don’t despair, Matsukichi will be around. Not what she wanted, eh? And is he some toy too? They start discussing about his village which I think is out of this world. Don’t ask. Sae returns to her home but isn’t this Kumi’s home?! Meanwhile Matsukichi returns to his hometown. It has changed so much he hardly recognizes it. Then he realizes he may be in the wrong prefecture after all. I’m not sure how he ended up at the Pyramids of Egypt… And then some who-knows-where location. Yurume goes camping. Yeah, that mountainous backdrop must be real convincing because she’s just camping in her room! She fails miserably. Spilling her tea and getting her tent all tangled. I don’t know how long she has been lying there till Sae returns. Noting that Matsukichi hasn’t returned yet, she also says every day is like a holiday for them. Think they should consider studying?

Episode 17
Yurume is dismayed upon learning she’ll be in charge of cleaning outside the dorm tomorrow. She gets this sneaky idea to put Matsukichi’s name and passes the notice. The other girls also put Matsukichi’s name in replacement of theirs so when Matsukichi gets the note, he is surprised he is on duty for all the days. In addition, there is an errand to get things for Kumi. What the heck? The smart ass also gets the idea to rename and circulate the notice. So it goes back to Yurume. More errands for her. The circulation seems to be getting more often and it’s like they’re just exchanging them right outside Yurume’s doorstep! Soon the notice is covered with lots of unrelated scribbles like global warming and lucky colour. There is no space left on the notice so Yurume thought of writing behind it. But it’s full to the brim too! Soon the notice extends to over 50 pages, a box filled with binders and crates of them!!! The ultimate one: The notice is in CD format. It has gone digital. Hell! Yurume doesn’t even have a computer! Haha! See what happens when you pass your laziness around?

Episode 18
Yurume cleans her room up and decides to take a nap realizing it is afternoon. Needing something as pillow, she accidentally puts her head on the mayonnaise bottle and squeezes it all out. Then she tries stacking books but it’s either too low or high. Meanwhile Sae is going to fall off the box so Imouto quickly tries to put the pillow on where she lands. Too late. Matsukichi wakes up from his nap to clean up. He realizes it’s supposed to be his nap time and goes back to sleep. However he is sleep walking and undoes all the cleaning. Back to square one mess, eh? So when he wakes up, he thinks he should start cleaning up. Kumi is sleeping inside the box when Sae suddenly crashes in. Imouto got the shock of her life thinking her sister changed into Kumi. Yurume realizes it is already 11pm and prepares herself to go to bed. Man, hasn’t she been sleeping the entire day? Sleep combo indeed.

Episode 19
Yurume tries resisting using her fan but succumbs into switching it on. This attracts Kumi who starts lecturing her about mankind falling into depravity and play guilty mind games on her. It’s her excuse to come join her. They feel Sae’s room must be hot since there is lots of heat trapped in it. They go find her and to their surprise, the room is air-conditioned! Traitor! Who cares about depravity or the likes. Join in the coolness! Suddenly the air-cond stops working. Looks like Sae didn’t pay the electric bill. Imouto thinks of calling daddy to help out but Sae refuses. Yurume panics and wants her to take responsibility for making her fall into depravity. So once all the cool air is gone, it’s back to the fan again but it’s not working. Kumi’s one isn’t either. Thinking it is a power outage, the actual truth is that all of them didn’t pay their bill. Finally Imouto calls her father asking for advance allowance and soon the electricity comes back on.

Episode 20
The typhoon is coming soon and Kumi shows the things the typhoon blew to her. Obviously lying. The drum can’t possibly be blown, right? And the fish? It’s from her hometown. The lightning flashes and a shriek is heard. Kumi starts scaring Yurume with a ghost story in this room but Sae points out it’s Imouto who is scared of lightning. Later Matsukichi drops by thinking they are forming a band but the girls don’t need additional member. He’s got some beer. Okay! He’s in! He can play the drums while they enjoy his beer. Heartless! Just kidding. So as they are enjoying the snacks, the typhoon is picking up. Matsukichi tries to shut the window tightly but it dismantled! Oh sh*t! The rain is coming in! Instead of freaking out, they start enjoying and partying hard! It’s the time of their lives! Next morning, Yurume finds the place in a total mess and there are fish lying about everywhere. Forget about her room. Can they eat all the fish?

Episode 21
The girls are talking about the things they could buy if they had money for it. If… So Kumi comes up with a topic to talk what would they do if they had 100 million Yen. Yurume needs 30 minutes to prepare?! She’s serious! She took an hour anyway before she could rant away all the things she wants to buy. For Sae, she would bath in it, use it as a blanket and the rest put in savings. That’s not spending them, no? Kumi also thought of the same thing but adds slapping Matsukichi’s face with a bunch of notes. Again she’s not using them, no? Next topic is the super powers they want to have. Teleport? Going back in time? Telekinesis? Well, they got so into it (and drunk) that they argue over it and so happens Matsukichi walk in, not knowing what is going on and the girls want him to come up with something. I don’t know what he transformed into.

Episode 22
After the gang had their fun eating the dumplings, it’s all down to the last stick. Who is going to get it? Yeah, everyone is trying to find a reason if the other owes something or just play dumb. Kumi suggests a best-out-of-3 match but Yurume asks how many sticks the rest had. They each had 2. So many did Yurume had? Can’t say, can’t she? On with the games! Round 1 is rock-scissors-paper and since everyone is putting up weird hand signs, nobody wins. Round 2 is Old Maid. The strange dog joker card keeps passing around till Matsukichi has its pair and wins. He is confident even if he doesn’t win the next round, it’ll be a draw. So round 3 has the girls do some perfect synchronicity to even the score! Noting this is getting pointless, they decide to give the dumplings to Imouto but to their surprise she doesn’t want any.  Round 4 extension! Fight! Hey… Imouto has many dumpling sticks on her plate…

Episode 23
Yurume feels she can’t laze around on New Year’s Day and starts cleaning up. After that, it’s back to sleeping in her futon. Imouto tries to sort out the trash so reluctant Sae has to help out. She notes the many decorative rice cakes she has because the previous ones always get lost so she has to buy a new one. Yeah, it keeps piling up. Kumi dresses in a lion outfit and a little girl thought it’s the lion dance. However Kumi scares the sh*t out of her when she wonders what she’ll have for dinner! Kumi lightly bites the girl’s head so the girl tries to be positive that she’ll get smarter if her head gets bitten. If that’s the case, if she devours her entire body, every bit of her will improve, right? Traumatic! Yurume wakes up when it’s afternoon and upon realizing the day is going to end, she decides to go back to how she usually spends them: Bumming around doing nothing. She’s really getting used to this life, eh?

Episode 24
Sae visits Yurume’s room only to be freaked out to see Yurume with a cardboard box over her head and chasing her. Cardboard box ghost! So why isn’t she taking it off? It feels warm says she. Yurume wanted to give Sae one too but she refuses since it’s too small. Yurume thinks she’s gotten fat. Kumi drops by and she talks about her sightseeing till she forgot about her exam day before Matsukichi comes in to suggest throwing beans. He’ll be the demon but Sae throws the entire pack of beans at his face! It’ll be bothersome if they have to clean up, right? Who cares! So everybody starts throwing away and they got too carried away till Matsukichi accidentally falls flat on Yurume. Hey. Didn’t the cardboard just go flat? Suddenly Yurume returns. What? Who? When? Why? How? So Kumi talks about the story that the cardboard material was originally created as some inner lining of silk hats so they could absorb sweat. Huh? And didn’t that cardboard ‘Yurume’ just crept past Imouto?

Episode 25
Yurume is so bored that nothing exciting happens (she sure about that?!) that she tries doing things in reverse. Like putting her head underneath the kotatsu. With the rest, they do ridiculous reverse stuff like turning the kotatsu upside down, wearing summer clothes in winter and yeah, maybe do some studying. NO WAY! They even treat it today as Valentine’s Day and go knocking on Matsukichi’s door to ask for chocolates. However Matsukichi has never gotten chocolates in his life and wonders if today is his lucky day. Suddenly the girls went missing. More ridiculous reverse stuff like reverse laundry (messing up) and reverse cleaning (pouring sauce on Yurume’s shirt) so it’s reverse joints for Matsukichi for going too far. So as they gather and get drunk as usual, this is normal, right? Till Kumi points out being normal is the twist. How do you qualify reverse in the first place? Say if you wear summer clothes in winter and make it a habit, the reverse of that will be wearing winter clothes. Get it? And so the next day arrives… Yurume complains nothing much exciting happens… Normal?

Episode 26
Yurume dreams she is stuck in a snow and a hot nabe pot right before her. With Sae, they discuss about reality affecting dreams so Sae wonders if this is a dream too and pinches Yurume’s cheek. Yup. It’s a dream too. Sae is waking Yurume up from her sleep while pinching her cheek. After putting on her clothes since it’s a cold day, Yurume goes back to the warmth of her futon. Sae then rolls her up, ties everything up and goes round the world! Oh. That was a dream too? Yurume is having nabe with her mates and she is the nabe magistrate. Yurume and Kumi took the same meat at the same time. The temporarily flash of the light bulb distracted Yurume and causes her to lose the meat. The flashing continues with Matsukichi popping up followed by Sae and Imouto. Maybe she should just chance the light bulb. Maybe not. Because that was a dream! Ah well, go back to more dreaming. She hopes the next one will have pork.

Well, the overall series is short per episode or skit and funny enough so I guess for me it is quite enjoyable. It really bugs me to see that they would rather be merrymaking and have fun instead of picking up their books. I know that they are adults and can do whatever they want in their lives but at this rate, I bet they are going to stay ronins forever. They can forget about getting into college. Just stay the way they are, party all day, party all night, get drunk in the revelry 24/7. Wow. That sounds like fun, no? I can see why they so easily give in to this temptation instead of slogging and taxing their brains on subjects they could hardly understand just to get into college and earn a scrap of paper that could be their ticket into society and earn more scraps of paper called money. Yeah… On second thought, maybe indulging in the moment’s enjoyment is better after all. Everybody bottoms up! Yahoo!!! Oops. I almost got carried away with their flow there. Some of their antics are so silly that it made me thought this is what you get for not studying and spending your time frolicking. Yeah, it makes them look so stupid. In a funny sense. A grim reminder this is what happens when you aren’t studious enough? You don’t really want to end up like them, don’t you? Let’s learn a lesson or two from them and not play dumb.

Yurume as the newbie of the dorm seems to have been swept off by their pace too. Now that she’s a regular and has assimilated as one of them, whatever happened to her wish to enter college in Tokyo? Don’t even remember she had this wish in the beginning? Now she is part of the idiotic gang of Maison Du Wish. In fact, her name even means to slow down or relaxed. What an aptly fate. But she still is more responsible as compared to the rest but in general terms, she has become as idiotic like them. Can you blame them for ‘infecting’ her with their laziness? She seems like a pro at it too. You can thank Sae for that. Look at all the heaps of boxes in her room. She’s never going to clean it out at this rate. I know. She prefers getting drunk. Kumi is the craziest one among the bunch and because some of her silly antics, it makes her look the silliest. I thought Matsukichi was decent but he is no better than any of them. Another loser. However sometimes he is the source of ‘bullying’ by the girls. They just love to tease him or leave him out. I don’t really consider Imouto as a resident of the dorm as she is just staying over to watch over her sister. That’s why I can say she isn’t really part of the gang. Of course when you have a little sister more responsible than the older one, something must be dead wrong. Despite putting up a serious face and more dependable than all the ronins combine, she too has her little quirks but that is not as bad as the ronins themselves. She is after all still a little girl so that is forgivable. Unlike some irresponsible adults wasting their life away. I believe at this rate, they’ll beat Maison Ikkoku’s Godai’s record of being a ronin for a long time. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that they will pass their exams. It’s like studying is a disease. So, looks like they’ll be staying here for a very long time to come. Permanent residents of Maison Du Wish if I should say.

Sometimes I feel that Matsukichi as the bully victim reminds me of Godai’s case too. However Godai had neighbours from hell who harass and twist his words but for Matsukichi, the girls are just teasing him as harmless fun. At least in this sense he has got it much better than Godai. In the end, they all drink and get drunk together. There are some things in the story that I wanted to know but I guess it didn’t come to. For example, it was mentioned that Yurume doesn’t want to go back to see her parents. I’m sure she has a reason for this. Is her relationship with her parents’ strained or there are problems in her household and that going to a cram school in Tokyo is a way of getting away from them? The longer the better? That’s why she became a useless ronin too? Or as Imouto put it, she doesn’t want her parents to know she has turned into a reject like her mates. That would be totally embarrassing. What about Sae’s father? Seems she is reluctant to receive a single help from him as far as I know even if Imouto suggests so when they’re in a pinch. Does Imouto really care about her sister? Why stay in Sae’s messy pig sty room when she can sleep in the comfort of her own room? Not that I know what her household is like but I bet it’s better than sleeping on heaps of boxes. Unless she likes sleeping on cardboard boxes because that’s what we usually see her do when taking a nap.

Haruko Momoi sounds cute voicing Yurume. Reminds me of her role as Seto in Seto No Hanayome but only on a major bumming level. I thought that crazy voice of Kumi reminded me of somebody. It had me thinking for a while before I realize that’s the voice of Miyu Matsuki, the one who also voiced Yoshinoya in Hidamari Sketch series and Yukari from Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu. Another bunch of crazy characters there. Natsuko Kuwatani is the voice behind Sae and since she didn’t go her high pitch “~desu” line, I didn’t think it was that same seiyuu who voiced Suisei Seki from Rozen Maiden. Ayana Taketatsu as Imouto, though her character rarely display any form of emotional outburst, she was still a little recognizable because she was close to her other role as Fuu of Tamayura. Satoshi Hino (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima series, Takagi in Bakuman) rounds up the rest of the cast as Matsukichi. For the TV series, Haruko Momoi sings both the opening themes Tobidase! 3D (1st opening theme) and Kyapi Natsu High Tension (2nd opening theme). They sound like your typical fun themes but the animation is an eyebrow raiser because we see the residence of Maison Du Wish in a tokusatsu-like feature as they get into their dorm that turns into one giant mecha and do battle with evil (the granny landlady?). Funny. As for the drawing and art, they are so simple that it makes them look cartoonish. It’s not your standard Japanese anime style. Even the backgrounds and everything had this cartoonish feel. Although the TV series did polish up a bit on the colouring and hues, they still have that cartoonish look. Sometimes when I look at Yurume, I thought it brings back memories to Crayon Shin-chan.

The choice is always yours on how you want to make the most of your life. You have the freedom to do whatever you want as long as you aren’t infringing the rights of others or breaking the law. Hmm… Maybe they should make partying too much a crime? That’ll be unconstitutional! I’m sure lots of dumb people and those who aren’t smart will have lots of excuse to go against that. So for Yurume and her Maison Du Wish mates, let’s hope and pray that they don’t become ronins till an age where they are close to retirement. If they are going to bum around and fail that long, might as well turn into an otaku doing nothing but their passion all they in their room. Almost similar, right? While I’m not saying you should be a nerd and go study like you have no life (what would be the meaning of life then?), you know what they say about all work and no play makes a Jack a dull boy. But all play and no study surely makes Jack a dumb boy.

Kyou No Asuka Show

January 25, 2013

Kyou No Asuka Show? What’s this? Haven’t heard it anywhere before and wouldn’t have had I not simply browse through the vast internet. Was I lucky to have picked out such a little known series? Did something catch my eye? Mmm… Striped pantsu… Oops. Ahem. Anyway, from what I read on this series is about this cute girl, Asuka Kyouno who is somewhat a little airhead and gets into little situations that others would seem sexually suggestive to men around her. Hmm… Sounds like fun if you’re thinking that there would be some ecchi fanservice. Yeah, there is. So would it hurt to just check out these short ONA clips that only last 3 minutes each and see the awkward situations she is in? Maybe check out her pantsu. Oops…

Episode 1
Everyone is looking at Asuka. Something is wrong. Yup. Her skirt is hooked to her back so it’s like she is exposing her striped panties! Man, what a sight to behold! If you’re a pervert, that is. Some young guy thinks of pointing it out to her (disappointing all those perverted on-looking bastards). Yeah, looks like he too is expecting her to praise him for being a nice guy. So when he tells her, she fixes herself without much hassle. She doesn’t seem upset about it. She’s just cool. The guy seems even more baffled than she is. So what is he so puzzled about? Shouldn’t her exposed rear made her uncomfortable? Did it made him uncomfortable? Erm… No. In fact, he liked it. Oh good. Then there’s nothing to worry about. Cool cat.

Episode 2
Asuka sees a TV show how a voyeur on the beach was apprehended for filming women in bikinis. She is puzzled because in a swimsuit, you’re supposed to be seen, right? And there is not much difference with an underwear in terms of area covered. Thinking underwear is meant to be underneath clothes, maybe they’ll realize there’s nothing embarrassing about wearing swimsuits near water. She is snapped out of her thinking when her dad wonders about her weird getup and position. She assures she covers up in front of people. Isn’t her dad included? She adds he has seen lots of girls in worse states of undress. But she’s his daughter. But those are daughters of other dads. Doesn’t he feel bad about filming them? That’s why he has to be tough on her so he doesn’t have to feel bad. Back to her thinking, Asuka of testing her theory by wearing a swimsuit on a rainy day. The typhoon is building up as Asuka walks through the storm in her swimsuit with confident. All seems to be going well as she thinks she’s sending a message to others there is nothing to be ashamed of when suddenly the typhoon stops. It’s sunny. She quickly needs to find water and is going to jump into the river! Luckily the teacher pulls her over thinking she was trying to commit suicide! She gets reprimanded in school.

Episode 3
Asuka wanted to buy a popsicle but realizes she forgot her purse. The ice cream peddler has a different idea because he will give her one free if she can eat it within 3 minutes without biting. I’m sure you’re seeing where this is going at. The way she is licking the popsicle oh so… At least that’s in his imagination. However Asuka isn’t dumb and knows what his intention is. So much for that. The peddler gives up. He thought she would do it anyway like a fool since mentioning the indecency would make her seem indecent. Well, Asuka was going to do it if that would make him happy even if it would make her look indecent. But she would prefer to chomp it. I guess that would seem ‘painful’. The peddler just gives her a free popsicle.

Episode 4
Mao Sawada wants to walk home together with Asuka and hold her hand. As they cross the street, Asuka spots an old lady slowly making her way across. Since holding her hand would take longer, Asuka carries her on her back, causing her skirt to be lifted and her striped panties to be revealed. Mao feels the need to fix her skirt and protect her from eyes of the dirty men starring but she too is caught up in the fixation and realizes her striped panties were so titillating that she ignored everything else that was important. Mao feels she doesn’t deserve to hold her hands but when a kid comes asking donation, she donates some money (along with the other guilty dirty men), she feels she has repented and now holds Asuka’s hand. She will also show Asuka her panties next time. Eh?

Episode 5
Asuka thought a boy is going to assault her but turns out this kid, Kobayashi is here to confess his feelings and wants to go out with her despite telling her he is a loser and no good kid, etc. Asuka gives him a disappointed look. She gives an example if he was going to buy an electric product and the promoter informs him all the negative points, will he buy it? Of course not.  So it’s like he is trying to sell her a product he doesn’t believe in. She feels that is rude and wants him to tell his merits. Asuka is impressed that he is good in studying, computers and calligraphy so Kobayashi takes this from the top with more confidence. Now that sounds more like it. Unfortunately she rejects him! Poor soul. Although she did say it’ll work out, she was just saying as an observer’s point of view. Still, she doesn’t want him to say he doesn’t have any good points. He promises to be more confident and when he confesses to her better, he hopes she’ll be there to listen.

Today’s Ass-uka Show
I further read that there were supposed to be a dozen episodes in total but the reason why more hasn’t shown up was because it was only being circulated among Japanese Smartphones. Then you’ll need to use some secret word that was popped up in the episode to ‘enjoy’ the rest of the other episodes. Sounds so troublesome. So I am guessing that those living outside Japan and not subscribing to a Japanese Smartphone plan will have a hard time getting their hands on her ass this series since well, I wonder if video resolutions and format on Smartphones are the same as computers? I don’t know. I never owned a Smartphone in my life.

Despite Asuka being a blonde, I doubt that she is really a dumb blonde or an airhead as we are made to believe. Because we see that she is quite intelligent and helpful in her own ways just that perhaps in the eyes of others she looks like a dumb blonde. First of all, she doesn’t freak out or get embarrassed especially when her rear is exposed. Many normal girls would have flustered very much and I guess guys would ultimately love such reaction too. But for Asuka, she is a cool cat and does not even worry a single bit that it makes you worry if she’s alright with it. Her unconventional methods in helping out others may also make her look like an airhead but she’s not pushover either. So if you think you can get naughty with this girl, you better think again because who knows, she might just give you a sucker punch and you’d be the one ended up with a red face. But we all did enjoy watching her ass and stripped coloured pantsu, right? Ah… Men will always be men.

Seeing that I and most viewers have watched only a handful of episodes, I’m not sure if the other characters will have a recurring appearance or just one off for that particular episode only. Like Asuka’s dad. She seems to know his dirty and suspicious habits despite him putting on an emotionless expression. Yeah, she talks back. Then there is this Mao girl who feels like she is just more than admiring Asuka and will there be a second chance for Kobayashi to confess his love again in the future? For ecchi fans, each short episode is going to be a little treat since we see Asuka in her undies or some ecchi fanservice albeit it’s just some male’s fantasy. That’s what you see this show for, right? Pervy humour. Pervy you, pervy me. However I’m guessing that not every episode will have this fanservice element because the episode with Kobayashi’s confession, that one was void of the usual fanservice.

So while this short anime series may be about guys gawking at a girl’s panties in comical ways, I guess it’s best for males to leave their fantasies confined inside their heads. Imagine if something like this happened in real life. There would have been dire and very embarrassing consequences especially for the girl. Suddenly there will pictures of such ‘mishap’ being posted on Facebook and blogs while Twitter will be all the rage of this ‘phenomenon’. Can you keep your cool like Asuka then? Heh. I admit that I kinda enjoyed seeing Asuka’s pantsu in that short span of 3 minutes. Blame it on my primitive guy libido thingy. However I have to say that I’m not a fan of shima pantsu/striped panties. A little turn off there…

Zettai Shonen

January 20, 2013

Do you believe in the things that you cannot see such as fairies or spirits? What happens if you encounter one of such unexplained phenomenon? How will you tell to others? Will others believe you? Zettai Shonen has this little supernatural mystery surrounding it and though I won’t go so far as to classify this a horror genre, at least those little mysterious UFO thingies in this show will keep you wondering what they are or their purpose. Divided into 2 ‘seasons’, we see the protagonists of each arc trying to figure out the mysterious objects that they encountered and also discover themselves.

Summer Arc

Episode 1
Ayumu Aizawa couldn’t understand why his father Dr Akiyuki Kishiro is picking up stray cats for medical checkups. Father thinks this year is strange because it’s already end of July and the camellia flowers are still in bloom. Instead of following him, Ayumu decides to cycle around the rural areas of Tana in his mountain bike. I’m not sure if the new kid in town has got problems settling in the rural area because it’s like Ayumu doesn’t seem to get along with some of the townspeople. Like this little girl Miku Miyama. Then while drinking at the road side, this guy on a scooter, Ryousuke Sakakura just stops by, takes a look at him and rides off. I mean, WTF?! When Miku and her sister Miki walk pass him, Ryousuke turns back to greet her. Not wanting to hear Ayumu’s complicated family story (notice their surnames are different? Besides, Ayumu’s parents are divorced), Ryousuke mentions about Okaka Baba. She died. Not really. More like reborn. So is she a ghost? Miku explains to Ayumu that Okaka is a cat and supposedly Ryousuke’s rival 10 years ago. Eh? Ryousuke mentions the cat once fought a kappa and got its ear torn off. Wanting to know if Ayumu has seen her, he points out at his father’s vet but when he reaches there, she’s gone. Miki explains about the increase of fireflies up at Nakizawagawa River and other strange events like ghost stories of Emerald Land. Ayumu cycles to the Tsukuyomi Observatory but the caretaker Heigorou Suzuki cautions him of heading deeper into the mountains because this is where the boundary to the supernatural opens. I suppose Ayumu wanted to press forward but after seeing a snake slithering across his path, he turns back. That night, Ayumu thought he saw some firefly-like light zooming in and away quickly from his window. Next day, Ryousuke passes by Ayumu and asks if he has seen Okaka. Since he hasn’t, he thinks she must be at Emerald Land.

While having breakfast with his dad, Ayumu asks what kind place Emerald Land is. It’s a resort. But the problem is, people who come with their pet somehow leave their pets behind. Asking the average life of a stray cat, though pet cats can live up till 20 years, stray cats can only live up to 2 years. From his observations of stray cats in this place, he thinks many cats can’t make it through the winter. He tells Ayumu he can’t abandon what he thinks is right. Shione Unno just alighted the bus when Ayumu passes her. Miku wonders if Ayumu is going to see the kappa, if not Wakkun. Since he doesn’t know, Miku gets upset. Then when they part, Shione tries to talk to Miku but she ignores her. Yeah, another upset girl for being ignored. Later Shione got into an argument with her father and runs out of her house into the rain. She makes a call to Takuma Kaburaki. As Ayumu cycles along, he spots a midget playing along the riverbed. Their eyes met and Ayumu thinks he is Wakkun. Wakkun is happy but trips. Ayumu goes down to help him up. Wakkun says he is waiting for him and Ayumu find it hard to believe he is playing alone at this time. Where is his family? He has none. Because he has Shinies. Those firefly-like lights. Wakkun shows him a bunch of them before his eyes and upon taking a closer look, they turn into odd little UFOs. Wakkun hopes they can play together again and will be waiting. Wakkun disappears before Ayumu’s eyes.

Episode 2
Kishiro sees Ryousuke searching his vet grounds. Since he hasn’t seen Okaka, Ryousuke leaves. Soon Ryousuke passes by Miku and she tells him Okaka isn’t around and it’s a waste for him to chase her as she’ll come to him on her own. He can’t since this will be the last summer and that she’s pretty old. When he first rumours she died, he felt regret. So when he heard she was reborn, he was happy as he wasn’t able to see her off. That’s why he must see her again this summer. Miku says he will but doesn’t know when or where. Ayumu stops by Miki’s family shop to ask about Miku’s whereabouts. Surprisingly, Okaka comes in! Miki goes to the back to get some okaka snacks (that’s how she got her name). Ayumu tries to snap a picture of her but she flees, leaving him with an incomplete shot. As for Miku, Miki says she’s probably at the temple where she plays often. But when he gets there, Miku isn’t and is surprised she plays at a place like this. There are graves everywhere. Ryousuke is at Asako Todou’s store and asks if Okaka was once Mikoshiba’s cat. She’s not sure since she wasn’t around back then. He cheekily notes about that 10 year mysterious gap in life so she warns him not to summarize people’s life so easily. Heigorou’s dog, Roku seems to take a liking for Ayumu so he has him help him out with his gardening. He asks about the supernatural stuffs so Heigorou knows something must have happened but won’t tell him because in time he will understand. Ryousuke’s dad wants him to help out with his work instead of wasting time chasing after a cat. Well, will sonny listen? Besides, settling his score with her is more important. Ryousuke goes to talk to Takuma. Based on their talk, Takuma thinks Ryousuke is still immature compared to him. At least based on the things he can do. Before Ryousuke leaves, Takuma says he can come back to kendo whenever he likes. Ayumu is at Nakizawagawa River but doesn’t see Wakkun. However he sees his footprints so that midget was definitely here.

Ryousuke meets with Miki along the way. When she mentions she and even Ayumu saw Okaka, he gets frustrated that he is the only one who couldn’t see her. Maybe he’s dangerous? Ryousuke shrugs it off and believes she is stronger after been reborn. Miki dismisses that she didn’t die in the first place. Ryousuke believes Okaka is the one responsible for the ghost stories at Emerald Land. The one whereby a blotchy old woman chases you while wailing every bit of the way instead of a sumo wrestler laughing while chasing you down. Either way, Miki finds it hard to believe the cat was in those stories. Furthermore, she thinks it’s absurd that Ryousuke thinks the cat has powered up since reborn and taking up a human form. Yeah, now he’s pushing it. Shione alights the bus and this time manages to stop Ayumu passing by. She wants to be his friend. Let’s say he’s suspicious even if it’s just exchanging handphone numbers. She really wants to get to know each other well. Since her pickup is here, she tells him she lives at Emerald Land and should feel free to drop by anytime. Though, the ghost fuss that is keeping lots of people away from it. Evening, Ryousuke chances upon Ayumu and learns of his attempt to snap a photo of Okaka. He thinks he is lucky because Okaka will usually not let anyone get away unscathed. He thinks Ayumu realize the connection Okaka has to this place and feels they can be good friends. I doubt Ayumu will. Yeah, he’s annoying. The duo then see Miku sitting next to Okaka. However the cat runs away when Ryousuke tries to get close. At last when he finally gets to see her, she’s gone. Miku chides him for not reading the mood properly. When Ayumu says he has finally found Miku, Ryousuke quips he’s a lolicon and got kicked by Miku! Haha! Ayumu though has met Wakkun but wants to know who he really is. But this upsets Miku so she questions him what did he come back here to do. Not that he can remember too. Suddenly a couple of Shinies appear before them. She points them out as Dosshiru and Shisshin. Has Ayumu forgotten all about them too?

Episode 3
Akira Sukawara is reporting the mysterious rumours of Emerald Land and interviews Shione. Hmm… She seems enthusiastic about being on camera. Like as though she’s going for an audition. So from her version, instead of a blotchy old woman or laughing sumo wrestler, it’s an enraged child. She also mentions about the fireflies up Nakizawagawa River like as though it’s a different world there. She hates this place and wants to return to Tokyo. Taking a break, the cameraman, Shirou Doumaru says even though this report is just a filler, they’ve a long way from completing it. It’s her show so she decides whether to continue or not. They stop by Asako’s store and since Ayumu doesn’t know her, Ryousuke and Miki say she is a local announcer for a local cable TV. Doumaru decides to interview them for additional material. Well, Ryousuke seems pretty into it. And he’s starting from Okaka’s fight with the kappa. Miki trying to dismiss it all. Yeah, everyone has their different versions that Akira seems pretty confused. Who the hell is Okaka anyway? When it’s Ayumu’s turn, he awkwardly says he didn’t he didn’t see anything. End of filming. Back editing the film, Akira is interested in Ayumu. Because of his body language, she thinks he knows something and is trying to hide them. Doumaru then shows her a picture of a stray cat he took then. Zooming in closer, they see some sort of weird thing reflected in its eyes. He thinks this isn’t a trick of the light or shadows and can’t be a ghost either (because ghosts are human). She feels this is like a conspiracy but he warns the images can’t be mere proof (CG anyone?). If she continues half-heartedly, she’ll get burnt. But since this is her story, it’s her call.

Akira goes to see Ayumu who is reluctant to let her interview. On the contrary, she will be doing the talking. Though she doesn’t believe in ghosts nor this incident is entirely due to Okaka, she mentions about the Rods case. Those mysterious bug-like creatures caught in video cameras around the world. Their true form may just be a bug but people still want to think that they are some unidentified creature. She invites Ayumu to join her in her search but he instantly turns her down. Later Ayumu calls Miki’s store to ask for Miku but she’s out to another town shopping with her mom. Before hanging up, he asks for her email address. Later Ryousuke gives Miki the biggest scare of her life when he pops up in her store (her scream was funny). Looks like his father locked him out and Akira was at his place (she was looking for Ayumu then). Yeah, that Okaka and the kappa thingy again. Don’t you feel sorry for her? But it seems Akira is out searching for the kappa and recording with her mini camera. Nothing out of the ordinary. When Ayumu is having a meal with his father, he wants to know the last time he was here. About 3 or 4 years old but even so, nothing really happened. Ayumu thought something huge must have happened since he can’t remember (it’s that seal-off-your-memory-to-protect-yourself reason) but Kishiro insists nothing big happened. Even talking to mom didn’t yield much result. She couldn’t remember anything more than him playing a lot. It’s night fall and Akira has had her fill of recording so much so the batteries died out. She heads back to her car and little does she know, those little mysterious things are being reflected in her eyes!

Episode 4
Miki and Ryousuke are talking together at school about Ayumu. Why did he lie to Akira? Maybe he should ask the person himself. Feel awkward he says? He then asks about her and Takuma but she replies he is going out with Shione. Ryousuke can’t accept that because he was very sure she was his favourite. Miki leaves and so happens Ayumu was passing before her. She hitches a ride to Asako’s store. She hopes he could go easy on Miku since she’s a little strange. She sees things others can’t and knows things she shouldn’t be able to know. So when rumours fly around, people tend to stay away from her. Even she scares her a little sometimes. But she notices Ayumu just accepts what she says plainly and simply. After all that calling and no answering, Shione must be happy when Takuma finally picks up. He wants to meet. Ayumu walks with Miki home and the latter doesn’t know of a boy named Wakkun. This place is small so everybody knows everybody. If there was somebody like that, he may be from Emerald Land. But the distance to there from Nakizawagawa River is pretty far for a kid to walk. Ayumu has a feeling he is not at Emerald Land or the next town. She asks if such things have happened to him before. Like has he been able to see things that shouldn’t be really there. Miki then tells him about that incident whereby Miku disappeared for half a day. She was found inside Touya Forest. Long time ago, the lord has his house in this forest but now everyone seems to avoid going there because for fear they would be cursed. Ghosts? Besides, having the little forest right smack in the middle of the town makes it somewhat a special place. Ayumu knows there’s a secret in that forest so Miki says how cool if that secret is to unlock all the mysteries around like Wakkun and Miku.

Continuing their walk, they chance upon Miku. She scolds Ayumu because he won’t find Wakkun if he is searching like this. That’s because he has always been waiting. Even now. So there’s no need for him to search and hurry up and realize it. Then Takuma comes by so Miki introduces the guys to each other. They talk about the cat dance festival and meet Shione. She doesn’t look too happy seeing Takuma and Miki together but is delighted to see Ayumu. So happen when Akira drops by wanting them to listen to her story, Ayumu declines and cycles off, Miki remembers she needs to help out with her family and Takuma bluntly points out he doesn’t like media people. All that’s left is Shione, eh? Akira wants to have a more sophisticated talk with her. Sophisticated? To start things off, about Ayumu of course. Ayumu calls his father to say he won’t be back to make him dinner. That’s because he feels strange and he needs to ascertain something. No, he’s not in trouble. He understands and when he’s ready, he can talk to him about it. Ayumu is waiting at the riverbed for Wakkun but he doesn’t turn up. He sees Okaka and it seems like she’s beckoning him to follow her. Leading him inside the forest, Ayumu sees lots of Shinies and amidst them is Wakkun. The kid is happy that Ayumu came but Ayumu doesn’t know who he is. I’m Wakkun, you’re Amu. Simple. Wakkun and wants to play. However it’s getting late so they make a promise to play tomorrow. Then all the Shinies float and disappear before his eyes.

Episode 5
A dream of Wakkun playing shiratori with Ayumu. In present time, they’re playing with each other. Wakkun seems to be enjoying himself putting rocks into the rivers. It’s time to leave so Ayumu promises to come back and play tomorrow. He asks what Wakkun does when he leaves. He plays right here. Later when he bumps into Ryousuke, the latter feels Ayumu is acting strange as he is always up at the river and wants to know why he lied to Akira. He denies because he didn’t see any kappa and only once for Okaka. Ryousuke calls him a bad liar but he’s fine with that. When Miki is closing her family store, Takuma wants to talk to her. He says he doesn’t want to go out with Shione. Miki thinks it’s cruel so he points out about her with Ryousuke and Ayumu. It’s different because those guys aren’t thinking they’re going out with her. Ayumu is trying to piece the puzzle together of Wakkun, Miku, Touya Forest and the likes but just couldn’t get it. Shione is at the vet getting her pet dog Taruto for some check-up. She wonders why Ayumu hasn’t come to see her yet. Take a hint. He’s not interested. Anyway she slips a piece of paper to him that contains her details. Persistent, eh? The rain continues to pour and Wakkun is seen throwing rocks into the river. It got washed away. When Ayumu is at Nakizawagawa River, he sees Ryousuke waiting for him. Ayumu denies he is running away and oddly for a guy who chases cats a lot, he is telling Ayumu he is acting strange. He wants to know what he is doing. Playing. Probably. Ayumu himself isn’t too sure. Roku puts a stop to Ryousuke’s tailing when it jumps on him. Shione gets on the same bus with Miki. Miki tries to be friendly but Shione tells her straight she hates her. Wow.

Ayumu finds Miku cleaning the grave and talks to her. He wants to know how much he knows about Wakkun. Miku realizes he stopped being able to meet him. Wakkun has waited too long, before and after meeting him. Ayumu says he didn’t see Wakkun the day before, yesterday and even today. It felt he did something he couldn’t take back. Wondering why he’s putting so much effort in this, Ayumu feels that Wakkun is waiting for him just he was for him before. She assures he’ll be fine since everybody is watching over him. Heigorou visits the vet and sees Ayumu. Since he doesn’t believe in kappas, the old guy lets him know this world is much richer, complicated and fragile than people think. On the question whether he is an esper or not, having ESP is nothing more than a feeling, an impression one reads from the atmosphere. He has no interest in something ambiguous like that. All that has happened and all that will happen has a meaning. This is a necessary process people go through. Later Ayumu tries to ask Kishiro about Heigorou. He is either a retired college professor, retired non-fiction writer or a wanderer that fits in (the kind where you can talk about anything once you get to know him). Yet, he might be neither. Later Asako calls Ayumu since he forgot to return her call. He asks if she has seen a boy like Wakkun the last time. Of course she had. He was cute. And he was Ayumu! He loves wearing poncho and rubber boots so much that he’s always wearing them. So shock that he left his mom hanging. Ayumu hears a knock on his window and looks out to only see the Shinies flying away into the sky.

Episode 6
There is indeed a picture of Ayumu in a poncho and boots with his parents. Miki just heard her father upset off the phone. Seems some people found an artesian well or spring near the recharge basin. There used to be many springs in the valley before the earthquake created a fault and it looks like one of them came back to life. She mentions about the fireflies up at Nakizawagawa River needing fresh water but he doesn’t know. Ayumu gets a call from Asako asking about his opinion about that picture she sent. She didn’t get any response so she called. I wonder what Ayumu is so busy about that he can’t return a simple call. Maybe he doesn’t want to talk to mommy? Suddenly the electromagnetic wave interference cuts them off. Not only he is affected, the afternoon love drama that Miki’s father is watching is suddenly cut off. Hitting the TV won’t work. Can’t resume drama… Even Ryousuke’s scooter suddenly died and he can’t do anything to fix the electric fuel injection. Miku says it’s not broken and by just starting it, the scooter starts running. She says the machine is just tired. I guess Akira’s car also suddenly ‘tired out’ in the middle of nowhere, eh? Ayumu sees Heigorou to discuss about the supernatural stuffs. He says the upper regions of this mountain were sacred and strictly sealed off. Now everyone can just simply walk in. Ayumu doesn’t understand even if he should or shouldn’t enter Nakizawagawa River so Heigorou says with people thinking like that nowadays, the boundaries of things shake. That’s when the world’s membrane thins. When it does, beings from the other world show up in ours. It’s neither a good or bad thing. It’s just as it is. Mentioning this place is mysterious and the membrane might be thin from the start, he knows Ayumu went beyond the membrane, entered the other domain and something happened. He tells him not to run away. If he doesn’t want to regret it, keep going on, get involved and do his best till the end.

Shione calls Takuma wanting to meet. He seems reluctant but agrees. At the park when Shione tells him how she scolded Miki then, Takuma doesn’t seem happy. To make certain they’re going out, she kisses him. But he gently pushes her away and leaves. So sad… That night when she walks home in tears, a Shiny appears before her. Taruto got agitated and what surprised Shione most was that she saw something reflected in Taruto’s eyes before the Shiny flew away into the sky. Next day around the same time, the electromagnetic wave is kicking up again. Lights go out, Ryousuke’s scooter died again (at the same spot) and same goes with the TV Miki’s father is watching (at the same slot too – he’ll never find out what happened to the love story). Ryousuke stops Ayumu and wants him to hang out with him for a while. He has a feeling that Ayumu feels guilty and at fault for what is happening. He wants him to tell everything but Ayumu fears he won’t believe. He’ll decide that once he listens. So he talks about Wakkun. The kappa? No, Wakkun. He couldn’t keep his promise so things turned out like this. And why does Ryousuke always have to relate everything back to Okaka? Learning that Wakkun was Ayumu in that drab 10 years ago, Ryousuke remembers he did meet him back then. He was trying to stop him from entering Touya Forest. Ayumu also remembers something like that. The question is why he was so desperate to enter the forest.

Episode 7
Miku seems to be communicating well with Dosshiru and understanding what it says! She’s supposed to relay a message. Ryousuke is hanging out with Ayumu at the riverbed. They’re just sitting there waiting. Ryousuke thinks he has a better chance of seeing Okaka with him. Huh? Miku joins them but feels Ryousuke is in the way as she needs to tell Ayumu something. But then Akira arrives so this is cue for Ayumu to run! Ryousuke also scoots away! Man, she’s really hated, is she? Shione is still reeling from the shock in her room when she sees something reflected in Taruto’s eyes. But soon she gets a call from Akira wanting to meet. Akira knows there is something in this valley and it isn’t a ghost or something familiar. Something of the unknown. She also saw something reflected in the cat’s eyes. She doesn’t know that’s why she’s investigating. Wanting to know if Shione knows anything, unfortunately she too doesn’t know much. I guess she’s bored and heartbroken enough to oblige. Ryousuke calls Ayumu and wants him to meet at a certain street. Can’t say no, can’t he? While waiting, his father comes by. He tries to run but the scooter won’t start. Fortunately his father’s truck also died. He tells his son they’re going home and to put his scooter on the back. After nicely tying down the scooter, the truck starts working. Ryousuke also starts his scooter and it’s working. By that time Ayumu has arrived so he apologizes that they’ll go hunting for Okaka next time. Do it yourself. Ayumu asks Miku how much she knows about Wakkun, Dosshiru and Shisshin but she only played with Wakkun once 2 years ago. It was when she was missing but she insists she wasn’t and was just playing. If she was at that forest then, that means Wakkun was there too. He was but she hasn’t seen him since. Noting that they’re both waiting for each other, it was the same for her too. They’re alone.

Miki is doing her delivery to Takuma’s house. Since she’s here, he suggests taking a walk. Shione happens to see Ayumu and wants to hang out with him. I think he isn’t interested in listening to her question of why he never called her. But when she mentions she saw those ball of light things and even their true form, his interest piqued. Yeah, he wants to know how they look like. So happen Takuma and Miki cross paths with them. Shione is devastated so as ‘revenge’ she holds Ayumu’s hands and they walk away looking like a couple. She whispers in Miki’s ear that she’s the worst. Miki wanted to clear things up but Takuma tells her to leave her alone. After a distance, Shione breaks down and goes home herself. Back home, Ayumu returns Miku’s call (she earlier called but Ayumu was out) and it seems she has forgotten to relay him a message from Dosshiru. He’s waiting. Even now. Wakkun is also waiting at the usual waiting. He’s not mad because if he was, he wouldn’t be waiting. That night Ayumu cycles out and a Shiny transforms into its true form to guide Ayumu to Wakkun, playing in the midst of the forest with other Shinies. Wakkun is happy to see him and they make a promise to play together during the cat dance. Wakkun notes this is the third promise they made but Ayumu recalls this is only the second. After Wakkun happily disappears, the Shiny communicates to Ayumu and he understands why this is the third promise.

Episode 8
Ayumu asks his father why Touya Forest was named so. His reasoning was that though the lands were ruled by lords, sometimes the position of a Touya would be a counterpart when it comes to organizing festivals and the likes. However somehow it got mixed up for this land as both roles ran concurrently and it turned out the Touya was the one on top. Later he asks Asako about the connection of the cat dance festival and Touya Forest. She says it was an event made up to liven things around here since 1989 and nobody lived in that forest anymore. Ayumu thought he saw something invisible fly past before him. Later passing by Ryousuke’s house, he stops Ayumu for another round of discussion about the existence of kappas. Ayumu denies they exist so Ryousuke questions why he is often up at the river. He too knows kappas don’t exist but what can he do? He may have mixed up his wild imagination and reality mixed up. Everyone laughed at him except Miki. But he is sure he saw Okaka fighting a kappa. About why he stopped Ayumu from entering Touya forest, he suggests Takuma should know. So Ayumu pays him a visit and he knows what Ayumu is going to ask. Back in 1966, the government dug up lots of places to improve rice paddy fields but they can’t seem to remove the cedar trees with whatever machines they have. Since then, most of the area in the valley that used to be forest was turned into a lake. Due to the volcanic ash and eruptions, this land was formed as they see today. Only Touya Forest was left as an island when this area was still a lake. Originally that place used to be the centre of the valley so it’s something special. The abandoned houses at its entrance used to be called Moriya, derived from mori (protect) and ya (valley) and was believed to have protected this place for a long time. However Ayumu is baffled because it may not have protected from outside enemies otherwise that forest would have been named Moriya instead. Takuma deduces that special forest has probably been protecting something even more special inside. So the procedure of protecting it turned into a festival and the name changed from Moriya to Touya. A change of topic, Takuma asks his opinion of Miki. Since Ayumu doesn’t think of her as anything, Takuma is fine with it since once summer vacation ends, he’ll be gone. This is because he feels Ayumu doesn’t belong to this place.

Later Ayumu meets Miki and she explains to him about the cat dance festival and how it started. Though it started around 20 years ago, she notes that cats must have been dancing since the Edo period. She tells of an old story whereby a servant went looking for his master’s pet cat, Shiro. It lead him to a place where all the cats were gathered to hear Shiro’s flute playing but that night Shiro couldn’t play since his tongue was burnt. The servant reports to his master and he leaves it up to him to handle the matter. At his wits end, the servant confronts Shiro, telling him to leave since they can’t house a cat who plays a flute. Shiro left and was never seen. The question was why did Shiro obediently left? Ayumu thinks stories handed down through generations will have alterations and things added into but if that story was in its original form, it might have been alright. After all, he noticed that the forest was called Moriya then. Ayumu goes up to the river and sees Akira there. He’s not running away this time, eh? She shows him a photo of a stray cat and tells him to look closer into its eyes. No, it’s not CG. So? Akira thinks he is looking for a way out because he wants to believe this world is an open place. Explaining about fairy rings in England whereby mushroom-filled paths grow in a circular fashion, people thought they were left behind by dancing fairies till science explained it was due to fungus and mushroom phenomena thingy. Because it has been proven, the existence of fairies was denied. Ayumu thinks it’s wrong. So does Akira. She thinks there are more than what there is they can see in this world as the world is not that closed. People’s perceptions are just entangled within many layers connected to them. Ayumu thinks that is an escapist way of thinking but she would rather term it as wanting to know and understand. Ayumu sees Wakkun standing behind her but Wakkun doesn’t want him to reveal his presence. But when Akira turns back, she sees nothing. That evening when Shione bumps into Ayumu, she asks him if he ever wanted to kiss. It’s okay to kiss her. I think he’s gay because he rejected that offer. I mean, to him a kiss is something you have to get permission to do. Huh? He understands her feelings of not fitting here because he’s an outsider too. But if she’s trying to find her place by becoming Takuma’s girlfriend, then she’s wrong. Even more wrong, trying to grab his attention and make him jealous. Miku passes by Touya Forest and sees Ayumu’s bike. He is inside searching around. He sees a slipper on a string and before he could proceed further, Miku stops him. She warns if he goes past there, he may not come back. Ayumu remembers being told of the same thing then too. It was the same for Miku.

Episode 9
Preparations are underway for the festival and Akira will be covering the event in 2 days time. I guess with the depopulation, it’s hard to get help and things done. Miki passes by Ayumu and reminds him about the festival. She hopes he can come by and will be waiting. Ayumu then gets a call from Shione. He may not want to pick up but his dad made him to. She has been thinking a lot about what he said and wonders if he wants to go to the festival with her. He was quick to say no. More importantly, did she invite Takuma? She didn’t. He knows it’s him whom she wants to go with. She asks if there is anyone he likes because he would understand her feelings of inviting him. I guess not. Yeah, that depends on the person too. Later when playing with Wakkun at the riverbed, Wakkun breaks a stone when Ayumu sounded he can’t live up to his promise of playing with him during the festival. Though Ayumu says he will be there, Wakkun isn’t convinced since he doesn’t want to be alone and Ayumu didn’t come when they made their last promise. Ayumu asks about Wakkun’s clothes and his reply is to match his. He suggests playing at Touya Forest, the place they first met. Takuma helps out Ryousuke a little for the festival. I’m not sure why are they talking about goldfish scooping and the best way of using the poi to catch it. Takuma then drops by Miki’s store and thinks of inviting her to walk about at the festival. She points out he has Shione and should treat her better. Since Miki can’t answer, he wonders if she promised to go with Ayumu. Not really either. He wants to make it clear if she’s going to choose between them. She doesn’t like this choosing business so Takuma says the small decisions they make over time end up deciding the path they take in life as they’re always doing small things during the way and there are some things they must choose before they move forward. Before he leaves, he tells her Ayumu will be going home soon and if she doesn’t tell him how she feels, he’ll never get it. Takuma passes by Ayumu at Moriya. Wondering if he thought of entering, he cautions there is a taboo. Whether abandoned or not, it was somebody’s house and not right to just simply enter. Asking about Miki again, since Ayumu still doesn’t get it, he points out he is involved and not to treat her half-heartedly.  Ayumu gets a call from Miku about his plans for tomorrow. Since the rain won’t let up, he thinks the festival will be cancelled and will finish things off by playing with Wakkun at Touya Forest. Miku knows he’ll be alright. Shione’s mother has got her yukata prepared but she isn’t sure if she’s going to the festival. Ayumu sees a Shiny outside his window. Wondering what they are, he feels afraid of them.

Episode 10
Ryousuke is being roped by an effeminate guy, Shouko to help with his goldfish scooping stall. Ayumu tells his dad that after the festival, he thinks of going home to Yokohama. Miki is waiting for Miku to go pick up their eldest sister Mika at the station when she gets a call from Ayumu. He’s not sure if he could come to the festival but if he does turn up, he wants to go with her. How’s that for being ambiguous. Miki will wait for him. Miku looks like a pale ghost because she caught a fever. Akira practises her lines of covering the festival in the toilet (with a toothbrush). So much so Doumaru had to knock on the door to wonder what she’s doing. He cautions her to be careful. Ayumu is at Heigorou’s stall as the old man explains about the meaning of the slipper on the string. Long ago it acts as a boundary to ward off plagues and calamities. Ayumu wonders if the place not supposed to venture has anything to do with the membrane of the world. Places like Shangri-La and Eden are names for other worlds. While they may touch ours, they are not of it. In other words, beyond the membrane. Heigorou has a hunch he has found a boundary. Taruto seems to be noisy so Shione picks him out and looks out the window. She sees something invisible hovering in front but it is clearly reflected in Taruto’s eyes. Ayumu’s handphone starts to ring and go crazy. Then Shisshin passes before him and beckons him to Moriya. Soon strange phenomena start happening throughout the festival. All the cars start honking on their own, the goldfish swimming strangely to a side and everyone’s handphone ringing off the hook. Miku can’t do nothing so with Miki they head over to Kishiro’s vet to look for Ayumu but was told he had left. Miku feels Wakkun is seriously intending to play.

Akira and Doumaru arrive at the festival. He asks about the origins of the cat dance and she gives that usual Shiro story. However he mentions there is an extension. The master knew Shiro was a demon cat (since it played a flute) and afraid of being cursed for driving it out, he built a small mound for the cat. However it had an opposite effect and even stranger events happened at Moriya. So the master thought once a year everyone in the house should dress up and dance like Shiro and his friends to suppress those bizarre events. It’s about that time Moriya changed to Touya. Doumaru thought he saw a Shiny flying across his camera lens. Ayumu is at the boundary but is stopped by Wakkun in time. Miku is at the festival and goes to see Ryousuke. She wants him to do a favour and to head to Touya Forest. Ayumu is playing catch with Wakkun. Having fun, aren’t they? But it’s getting dark and he needs to leave. Then he tells Wakkun he will be leaving soon and won’t be back to play with him. Wakkun is adamant he won’t because he doesn’t want to wait anymore. He points out he was the one who named Dosshiru and Shisshin. Because he promised to come and play with him, he waited, he came and they played. So what to do? Wakkun gets an idea to follow him so that they’ll always be together and will play forever. That’s the direction of the boundary, no?

Episode 11
Well, they haven’t step beyond the boundary yet. But Ayumu remembers playing catch and they made their first promise that they should go somewhere but here since Ayumu will get scolded if he comes back here again (the forest). That place was Nakizawagawa River. He realizes was always waiting and because he said his clothes were weird, he started wearing that poncho outfit. On that day Ayumu’s mother suddenly force him to return with her thus Wakkun was kept waiting and waiting. He completely forgot about the promise ever since he went home. Ayumu wants to bring Wakkun to the festival since this is his first time too. Ryousuke is just at the doorstep of Moriya when he sees Ayumu coming out. Of course Ryousuke can’t see Wakkun nor heart him so he can’t comprehend why Ayumu is like talking to himself. But he sees some invisible thing near Ayumu and wonders if it’s the kappa. Shione meets Takuma at the festival. She tells him she lots of weird things again and won’t tell him thinking he’ll laugh. Anyway she tells him about the invisible things that they can’t see but reflected in the eyes of animals. She thinks Ayumu can see them too. Then the inevitable. Takuma apologizes. Shione doesn’t want to hear it but he goes ahead. He apologizes for being half-hearted with her and can’t go out with her because he likes Miki. Shione points out she has Ayumu but even that is not certain yet. Anyway he can’t go out with her and leaves. How heartbreaking. Everybody here is the worst, eh?

Some guy is trying to dump unwanted furniture at a dumpsite when his wife screams in horror. They see lots of Shinies appearing. At the same time all the cats are starting to run in a certain direction with Okaka leading them. Miki’s dad gets a call. Sounds bad. It’s not just an accident. Looks like the dam has burst. He tells his daughters (who are participating in the cat dance competition) at the backstage he is going to check things out so he might miss their performance. Ayumu and Wakkun are at the festival as Ryousuke invites him to play his goldfish scoop. However Wakkun senses something wrong and rushes off. With Ayumu following close behind, Wakkun tells him the mountain is going to cry. And that’s a bad thing. Heigorou is taking Roku out for a night walk when a group of cats run pass them. Knowing Roku wants to join them, he unleashes Roku to let him join. Ayumu sees Miku at the backstage as Miki introduces him to Mika (she thinks her boyfriend is cute – of course he’s not her boyfriend). Ayumu wants to know what the crying mountains mean so they mention about the dam rupture. Because nobody can see Wakkun interacting with Ayumu, Mika is starting to wonder if the ‘boyfriend’ is sane. Wakkun wants to get out of this place but Ayumu hopes he can help send a message to Dosshiru and Shisshin to tell everyone to leave. Then all the Shinies pop up, catching the crowd by surprise. They think it’s UFOs. With the group of cats running in, the crowd gets eager to follow them. Ryousuke sees Okaka and follows her. Soon everyone has left and the place is like dead. So eerily quiet. I think it’s a good idea for Ayumu and the sisters to leave to. You got that bad feeling, right? What are you waiting for?!

Episode 12
The ground starts rumbling and in a flash, the mountain behind collapses and the landslide sweeps away everything from the festival! So do you call this a miracle? Were the mysterious lights and cats serving as warning? Wakkun brings Ayumu away to play but is stopped by Miku. Despite Ayumu making a promise, he didn’t really spell out what he promised, right? Even so, does he still want to go? Miku tells Wakkun off that they’re both from the different sides. Though things got mixed up 10 years ago, the friend Wakkun waited for finally came and they played together. Shouldn’t that be enough? And now it must come to a close. Wakkun wants to play more but Ayumu isn’t sure. Miku tells Wakkun to take a good look at Ayumu. He is at an age too old to be playing with him. Wakkun fears he will forget him but Miku disagrees. Because they played together, he won’t. He is different than all his old friends who eventually ended up being unable to see him. But Ayumu actually could see him and was with him all summer. If the mixing up continues, it will cause problems on both sides. Wakkun discards his poncho outfit. Ayumu apologizes he can’t go with him as he wants to stay here. This upsets Wakkun and runs away (before naming all his past friends). Miki and Mika come by and they thing they see something run past them. Miku collapses from the fever. All the Shinies turn into their true forms and float around the night sky. Akira reports on this mysterious phenomenon and calls them material fairies of the modern age. Ryousuke asks Ayumu and Miki if they’ve seen it all. Miki says she might have seen a kappa too. Akira admits it’s Ryousuke’s win because she thinks she saw the kappa also. How about Ayumu? Maybe but since those Shinies exist, they might too. Doumaru and Akira drive to the area blockaded off. They see police around and were being told they were investigating some people doing illegal dumping. Akira notices how the family resembled like a laughing sumo wrestler, a blotchy old lady with an enraged baby child.

Doumaru is editing the video but finds no camera failure. Everything is playing fine except for the fact those fairies aren’t appearing in them. Telling Akira about an event that 70,000 people in Europe during World War 1 saw the sun dance around, zigzag, ascend and descend, was it a miracle term as the Dance of the Sun or some UFO? Besides, the term UFO was coined during World War 2. People see what they want to see so Akira may have called them fairies but others may view it as UFOs. Despite what you call them but they were there. But they were only truths to those who saw and those who didn’t, nothing was really there. In short, they can’t use this material. After all with the landslide and parade of cats, no casualties were report. That’s good enough. But Akira will continue to chase them. Just because they didn’t appear on the video doesn’t mean they should deny their existence. Next day Ayumu sees Miki and Miku at the entrance of Moriya. Seems Miku wants to return her stuffed doll. When she went missing 2 years ago, she got this doll from this place and became inseparable. So it’s time to return it but they’re cautious about entering this place. Ayumu offers to do it for her. Ayumu throws the doll across the boundary. Walking back, he tells Miki he will be leaving soon. His father picks him up to send him to the station. Ayumu and Miki promise to keep in touch by mail. After that Shione and Miki had a ‘showdown’. Shione still hates her and Miki was honest enough to tell her back that she hates her too. They both find it funny and start laughing. So do they really hate each other? Ayumu on his way out sees Wakkun waving goodbye from the forest. Okaka must have ran all the way and got lost in the city of Yokohama, eh? She passes by a girl Kisa Tanigawa who spots not only the cat but a couple of Shinies as well.

Winter Arc

Episode 13
While Kisa sits alone and forlorn, the electronics are going haywire. The traffic lights are causing massive jams, the photocopier photostats itself and the cash register just went crazy. Rieko Yamato and her friends are at the arcade playing the crane game when they realize they have 99 more free chances! Well, the other machines are giving other unlucky players 99 more chances! Once they had their fill, the friends see Okaka, filthy and dirty in a corner. When they approach her, she snarls her fangs. This prompts them to think how similar this cat is to Kisa. Anti-social, uncute and runs away when cornered. The ultimate loser. Kisa doesn’t like them badmouthing her but they tell her not to defend and stick around her too much. Later Rieko meets up with Kisa and she tells her about their classmates badmouthing her. Though she doesn’t care but she admits what they say it’s true. Rieko can’t leave her alone and wants her to rely on her when she’s having a hard time. Rieko leaves and on her way, she spots some Shinies ‘fighting’. The light of the opposite car passing by blinds her for a second. When she looks back, the Shinies are gone. But what she notices is a strange man staring at her on the opposite. Better get out of here. Kisa is sifting through the dump when she sees a Shiny. She follows it and sees an egg shape UFO on the ground. As she touches it, it activates and floats a while before dropping dead. Kisa brings it back to her room. Wah. Very occult-like. She tries to give it something to eat. Erm… Butter, sausage and… Egg? I don’t think so. She starts conversing with it and since it goes “Buuuuuun” a lot, she calls it Bun-chan. Kisa then writes a mail to herself. Is she writing to herself a year later? For posterity? She writes about Rieko whom she is glad she cares for her (Kisa seems to be skipping school) but finds her annoying because she wants to be left alone. She also writes about Bun-chan she found today. Kisa goes to sleep and Bun-chan seems to like sleeping in the pail. Dawn arrives and Kisa is awakened by the constant knocking on her window. It is Bun-chan. Want to go out? Looking out the window, Kisa sees a large UFO hovering over the city. Once the sun rises, it disappears.

Episode 14
Rieko is walking in the streets and goes talk to Masaki “Makki” Makabe who is preoccupied with his new handphone game. She asks a weird question if he has seen anything he wasn’t supposed to see. He doesn’t think so. He’s not an esper. Rieko goes to her part time job at Hana Tokimiya’s kitchen and the old lady can tell something is bugging her. Rieko tells about the mysterious light she saw but was told not to worry about it. Mentioning her husband has seen a kappa, it depends on whether you want to believe what you see or ignore it to fit those around you. Rieko feels a little scared about the incident so Hana says if he doesn’t believe in herself, others won’t believe in her. As for what you can see, there is more than what meets the eyes out there. Giving examples of good versus evils in myths and stories, what she saw may just be that. Kisa calls her fellow class skipper, Shigeki Kobayakawa to meet. Unlike her, he is skipping class to concentrate on his shogi and if he turns pro, he’ll quit school for good. She shows him Bun-chan but he doesn’t see anything in her palms. Realizing he can’t see her, she takes his hand to touch Bun-chan. After describing how Bun-chan looks, Shigeki is shocked to see that little thing materializing before his eyes. At a distance away, Makki also sees this and is pretty shocked himself. Shigeki asks a random passer-by about Bun-chan but the lady thought he was into palm reading. Looks like there are some people who can and cannot see Bun-chan.

They discuss what Bun-chan is and Shigeki thinks it is something artificial. This surprises Kisa because she never thought of it that way and thinks it was born. She hopes he won’t tell anyone else because she doesn’t want it to attract attention and be left alone. Shigeki agrees that Bun-chan is something special and doesn’t want it to be sold. If somebody spots it, it might spark a hunting spree and worst case scenario it becomes some merchandise sold worldwide. Yeah, everyone has got an iPad these days. Makki sees Rieko and tells her the strange incident he saw with Kisa and Shigeki. Rieko thinks Kisa has something they shouldn’t be able to see. After Makki leaves, Shigeki enters the shop as the usual customer he always is. Shigeki and Rieko know each other since they were kids. Rieko asks him the question of being able to see something he shouldn’t. Because he plays shogi, he needs to anticipate his opponent’s move and always envision an invisible board in his head. Is this what she meant? Though there are some things one can and cannot see, the most important part is to try seeing it. Now it’s his turn to ask her but she keeps it a secret. Kisa walks home with Bun-chan and she realizes humans cannot see it. Except for a dog which kept barking at it. She sees Bun-chan’s reflection in the dog’s eyes. Bun-chan then ‘exposes’ itself and shuts the noisy dog up! It suddenly got scared! Wow. The strange man is watching and feels the world’s framework may change. Next morning, Akira arrives at the port of Yokohama fired up to get the thing that she has been chasing.

Episode 15
For a short while, all the cars’ battery and electronics went dead. Rieko returns home to see her dad on the phone with Hana. Somebody is going to be living at Hana’s place and that person is Akira (Reiko’s dad is a realtor so he matched them up). Akira has left a book she has written, Summer of Fairies and since daddy isn’t going to read it, Reiko is free to take it along with her. Kisa gets a mail from Makki to meet. At the park bench, she tells him he has seen her and Shigeki with that thing. Kisa asks if he had told anybody. He says he didn’t. Good. She thanks him and leaves. Shortly, Akira introduces herself to Makki and hands him her card. She overheard their conversation and it piqued her interest. Of course Makki isn’t going to tell her anything (he just made that promise with Kisa, right?). She is cool with that but if he changes his mind, feel free to call that number. She’ll be expecting his call even if he doesn’t want to call her. WTF. When Akira leaves, someone familiar recognizes her. She is Mika and she learns Akira has quit working for that cable TV and went on to do freelance reporting on her own. More fulfilling, eh? Shigeki goes to Hana’s place but shortly leaves when he gets a mail from Kisa to meet. He’ll be back. Kisa tells him that Makki had seen them. Shigeki thinks Makki isn’t the kind who would start talking to strangers so there is nothing to be worried. Akira returns to Hana’s place. This is where she’ll be staying and making her base of operations. Rieko meets her and straightaway asks if the book is fiction. Well, she wanted it to be non-fiction and things got messy along the way and it turned out to be a novel based on her true life story. Huh? Makki gets a chain mail with a spook picture and gets creep out.

Shigeki returns to Hana’s place and talks to Rieko, wondering if Makki told her anything. She gets defensive. Later Rieko bumps into Kisa at the hardware store and wants to talk to her. Though everyone has a secret or two, she doesn’t like it when Kisa and Shigeki both share a secret together. Especially when she’s left out not knowing anything about it. What’s her problem? Has she got anything to do with it in the first place? Kisa says nothing of that sort happens and leaves. Rieko notes she’s a liar. The lights at the place suddenly go out. Next day Makki waits for Rieko so she had to ditch her friends to go talk to him. She wants him to stop spamming her (he did so yesterday because he was worried when she didn’t reply back). Rieko wants him to stay away from her for a while as she doesn’t care about the things he shouldn’t be able to see. Eh? Wasn’t she the one who started this? Now he’s the one who is so worried. She gives him the book to read. Soon Makki meets up with Akira. Change of mind? He shows her the spooky picture in his handphone. He wasn’t so sure about it even after reading her book. He realizes she came all the way to Yokohama to look for those fairies she believes exist. He agrees to help her out in her cause in exchange she will lend him her strength.

Episode 16
Ayumu gets a call from Miki and after catching up on things, she brings up Akira (as seen by Mika). As for her book, she feels it is somewhat incomplete. When she became a freelance reporter, she thought she would pursue those fairies and since there’s lots of stuff going on in Yokohama, Akira may think those fairies are the cause of the recent problems. Ayumu isn’t sure either because of the landslide at the cat festival. Though it really happened, if something like that happens again, it could happen again and again in the future. It may have been unique to them but he feels it’s something on the level of seeing a lunar eclipse or shooting star. So he’s somewhat trying to determine things to be less argumentative. Miki wonders if it has ended for him but he remembers Heigorou’s words of not running away if he doesn’t want to regret it despite he is not involved with Wakkun anymore. Something loud outside catches his attention so he hangs up to go check it out. In the garage, he is surprised to see a weak Okaka and with her are Dosshiru and Shisshin. They both zoom back into the sky after Ayumu takes Okaka in. The big UFO continues to hover across the city’s night sky. Akira calls Makki and though she doesn’t care why he wants to help her (she’s glad anyhow), she wants to know how she can lend him her strength. He wants to ascertain those fairies exist and show them to non-believers who think they are nonsense. Makki then texts Rieko just to tell her that he is going to search for the fairies. He believes they exist and she might change her opinion once they do exist. I think she already does. She saw them too, right? Makki then calls Kisa but she didn’t want to pick up. So he sends a mail that since she has something significant, she shouldn’t keep it to herself. She instantly deletes that mail and asserts Bun-chan is hers. Kisa calls Shigeki asking for his opinion over Makki’s words. She wonders if he thinks she shouldn’t have Bun-chan either. He asks back what will happen if she hands Bun-chan over to Makki. Probably it’ll get dissected for some research, right? Can’t have that. She’ll guard Bun-chan from that and won’t hand him over.

Akira calls Doumaru and after catching up on lost times (Doumaru is in the midst of training a new girl as Akira’s replacement). On to business, Akira feels urban legends are starting to float around in Yokohama and they come in two patterns. She noticed there are warm coloured and cold coloured fairies. The ones they saw were warm and gave up healing vibes. Even so, people here have negative image on them. For instance, they swarm around cats. As for cold coloured ones, she mentions she got a picture of it (that spooky picture). Doumaru wants her to send a copy though she doubts it is a fairy since its picture can be taken. Doumaru doesn’t discount the fact that it might have evolved. Mentioning about the landslide incident, illegal dumping of industrial waste was the cause. Doumaru has spoken to the guilty couple themselves and no matter what, they will not change the fact in their story that they saw lots of pale blue glowing lights before the landslide. So he wants the picture from Akira to ascertain if that is the same light they saw. They conclude there are 2 types and if the warm coloured lights help and save people while the cold coloured ones acted as a trigger for the collapse, then it’s the complete opposite of what’s going on in Yokohama now. Ayumu wakes up to find Okaka gone from her box. He could trace her paw prints from the snow but it got lost in the other human footprints.

Episode 17
Akira is in the Ferris wheel when suddenly it stops functioning. Shigeki meets up with Kisa. Instead of talking about supernatural stuffs, he wants to talk about himself. As his goal is to become a pro in shogi, the regulations has it that only 4 can become pro a year and those who turn 26 years old will not get that chance anymore. Despite having 10 years of trying left, it’s going to be a crowded field since more young players will be trying to climb the wall and be a pro. Shigeki notices Kisa has changed and she credits it to Bun-chan. She feels everything will be the same even if she wasn’t here. He begs to differ because it would trouble him a lot if she wasn’t around. Mika sees Makki and goes talk to him. She knows him because she has seen him talking to Akira. He feigns ignorance but he’s such a bad actor. About the fairies in Akira’s book, Mika believes they’re true because it happened when she was around during the cat dance festival. Shigeki gets a call from Rieko to meet. Seems she is worried about the direction Kisa is heading. At this rate she might drop out of school. She hopes he could tell her to come to school since he’s close to her and if she does it herself, she’ll think she’s doing it because she’s the teacher’s pet. Shigeki gets philosophical about isolation and groupings. Though Kisa skips school, he knows she wants to be part of it. Otherwise she would’ve dropped out in the first place. Rieko was careless to say Kisa has nothing unlike him who has shogi. Shigeki shoots back that despite saying she wants to help and support her, she’s doing all this for self satisfaction. But she’s really worried about Kisa because her parents have abandoned her. So here’s the next question. How well does she know about Kisa and his shogi? She’s left stunned with his harsh words. Shigeki goes to Hana and she knows he had a fight with Rieko. She offers to play a shogi game with him since tomorrow is his match day. After telling about Kisa’s problem, Hana thinks they’re like playing hide and seek. The seeker fears being alone and the hider fears being found. Both are hopelessly full of anxiety and can live out their lives seeking and hiding from each other. As for tomorrow’s match, Shigeki will be up against a genius who is destined to be a future shogi master. Hana thinks he’ll get better since he is playing a skilled opponent. Unless of course if he thinks he is going to lose, then he already has lost. So what can he do? Play his own shogi and believing in it. That’s how you properly face your opponent.

Rieko is back home reflecting on herself. Kisa’s birthday is coming up and wanted to get Shigeki’s opinion but ended up talking about school instead. It has been close to 9 hours since Akira has been stuck in the Ferris wheel! Seriously, nobody came to rescue the passengers?! It’s getting cold and unlike other carriages, the lovey-dovey couples are keeping each other warm. Akira goes through her handphone pictures, deleting and keeping some of them. She spots her old flame and remembers it wasn’t that she wanted to ignore him. She wanted somebody who would understand her work. At the stroke of midnight, the Ferris wheel starts moving again. When she gets down, the irony of a reporter getting interviewed seems odd. But she takes the microphone and starts reporting her own style that these electronic malfunctions at Yokohama aren’t cyber-terrorism since there were no proofs. Plus, kids are spreading about urban legends. She believes today’s case isn’t isolated and is connected with the other incidents that has happened. Next day, Rieko gets to know of Shigeki’s match today from Hana. She feels guilty for making him worry. Oh no. What shall she do? Take the day off and go after him. Besides, she can’t serve with such a worrywart face, can’t she? By the time she arrives, the match is over. He lost. Rieko apologizes for making him bad but it doesn’t matter if he wins or loses. Ultimately he only has himself to blame. Until yesterday he thought this would be his last chance of going pro since it’s his goal. But he was wrong. What he wanted was is to play more shogi the way he was today. That is the true meaning of turning pro. Rieko couldn’t understand all that and is left standing in tears. Kisa types to herself in a diary about her upcoming birthday. She won’t be alone this year because she has Bun-chan.

Episode 18
Bun-chan helps Kisa assemble her junk as she turns 17 years old. Next day is at a mural filled with graffiti and one of them had those mysterious lights. She overhears passing girls talking about the urban legend. Soon Ayumu passes by and sees Kisa staring at the mural. He felt the need to talk to her even if he sounded odd that a stranger just popped up to you and talk. He tells her that 2 years ago he almost stepped over the boundary between this world and the other, becoming involved in them. He wonders if she is the same like him because he saw her peeking into her bag. He thought it was finished with them but realized there is still something left to do. They exchange handphone number. Rieko seeks Hana’s advice if she takes up shogi, will she understand Shigeki better? Hana isn’t sure because both are different things. As for Shigeki liking Kisa because he’s nicer to her, Hana doubts it and views Shigeki sees himself in Kisa. They are both lonely people as Shigeki is always facing himself in shogi while Kisa built a shell of loneliness around herself that she herself can only escape. Shigeki returns a call from Kisa. She wants to tell him about the strange person she met earlier but soon needs to hang up because her emotions are overcoming her. She feels sad nobody remembers her birthday even though she knows this is expected. Once she composes herself, she calls back and continues telling Shigeki about the things Ayumu said. He thinks they should meet. What better way than to ascertain things by talking to the person himself. Makki and Akira are talking about what they know about the fairies and Akira’s experience with them during the cat dance festival. When Makki leaves Hana’s kitchen, he sees Shigeki about to come into the place. Shigeki gets a call from Kisa to meet. Makki couldn’t help eavesdrop and soon calls Akira.

Shigeki meets Kisa at the mall and before they go off to some place quiet, he gives her a wing necklace as her birthday present. See, somebody else still remembers. Makki brings Akira to the mall and reveals that he knows someone who is in possession of a fairy. He didn’t tell her because he promised to keep it a secret. So know he broke that promise? They couldn’t find them at the mall so Akira wonders if there is a quieter place. Makki notes there is a park nearby and they rush there. Shigeki and Kisa meet Ayumu at the park. Ayumu starts off by telling them about a group of people witnessing those fairies but the media downplayed them since it was only a handful. Kisa won’t hand Bun-chan over to the media and Ayumu assures he has no intention to hand them over or make it an exhibit. He hopes she will believe him if he shows her his. He summons Dosshiru and Shisshin as they zoom around shocked Shigeki and Kisa. Now do you believe? As for the thing he has left to do, he isn’t sure what it is and that’s why he wants to discuss this with Kisa who also thinks if she has something to do. When Kisa takes Bun-chan out from her bag, suddenly it becomes defensive and flies away. Dosshiru and Shisshin give chase. Akira and Makki just come into the scene when a bright light flashes in the sky when the fairies collide in mid-air. In the aftermath, Bun-chan got breaks into pieces, much to Kisa’s horror. That was one piercing scream of horror.

Episode 19
Asako is looking at the murals and asks the passing police how they got here. He isn’t sure since one day the drawings are up, the next it could be replaced by another. Asako defines the word surrealism but I don’t think the police dude really gets it. Kisa is at a loss. She is frustrated. Bitter. For the next incoming phone call, she breaks her handphone! Attempts by Shigeki to call her become futile. Ayumu gets a call from Miki who knows something must have happened because Akira called her home to ask for Ayumu’s number. Of course she didn’t give it but Ayumu gives his permission to give it to her if she calls again. No need for that because Akira left her number with Miki. Makki and Akira discuss about the 2 different lights competing with each other. The question is what they are competing over. Akira has come up with another term. Material evils are what she calls the cold coloured lights. Makki wonders if Rieko saw the same light too and suggests Akira go talk to her. She has to do it alone since Makki remembers they’re on bad terms. Akira talks to Rieko but to the latter she seems desperate on something trivial. Oh, it’s nothing trivial to Akira and it’s a big deal for her. Plus, there are people too who saw it. Asako sees her old acquaintance, Hana. She wonders if Asako came all the way back to Yokohama to see her old boyfriend. Rather, she wants to re-examine herself. Asako leaves and finds herself looking at the mural one last time. She notices a strange painting of fish with wings on the pillar. There’s a few of them and it is like as though they’re serving as an arrow. She follows it and it leads her to a park for homeless people whereby she sees her old boyfriend, that strange man, Jirou Hatori. The one who drew those winged fish. Rieko calls Shigeki to assure him it’s not his fault for whatever that has happened. She also tells him the lights she saw that were fighting and hopes they could meet to talk things out. Her eyes lit up when he agreed…

Jirou and Asako catch up on things. That guy notes he has never changed but thanks her for he will not be the man he is today without her. If that’s the case, then she wouldn’t have left him, right? Jirou still thinks she abandoned him when he was at the end of his line. She replies it wasn’t the case. He depended only on himself when he was at the end of his line and in the end she thought she was just playing some make-believe game with him. She thinks his backward way of thinking things because people don’t create works to be called artists but just imagining them is enough for them to be called so. Ayumu calls Akira and instantly she knows it’s him. She knows he is interested in these things and if he is interested in helping her investigate, feel free to call him. Click. Man, she gave him no space to talk! Asako and Jirou take a walk and she asks how he turned into a homeless vagabond. He isn’t sure. The more he tries to put it in words, the more it becomes ambiguous. That’s why he’ll continue drawing till he finds his answer. If he doesn’t, he’s okay with it too. Rieko is waiting for Shigeki and since he didn’t turn up, she calls him. That guy is playing shogi by himself. He can’t come since he hasn’t collected his thoughts and needs more time. So he stood her up, eh? How disappointing. Trying to call Kisa again? Same no reply tone… Give up already. Speaking of Kisa, she’s trying to piece Bun-chan back together. I don’t think normal glue is going to cut it. The junk she previously assembled starts to give out a warm glow.

Episode 20
Makki is pretty excited to help Akira out with her investigation but she tells him not to skip school and they’ll do this once he’s done with his classes. Kisa is still heartbroken and confined herself in her room. Shigeki looks for her at her usual places but of course she isn’t there. Makki calls him and he doesn’t pick up. Ayumu and Akira meet up. He tells her what he saw that night what happened to Bun-chan. They talk about change which is proof that they have grown. Akira wonders if he can show Dosshiru and Shisshin to her but he won’t. She tries convincing him they’re proof of what happened at Tana. The world isn’t definitely closed. It’s that entangling layers and complexity reason again. She thinks those fairies are messengers that come and go between those layers. Ayumu feels differently although he doesn’t know how to put it in words. He also doesn’t think he has been able to act objectively towards them since he feels guilty over what happened to Bun-chan. Akira tells him he is wasting his time brooding because it’s not his fault since he’s not the one who destroyed it. They should learn as much as possible from the results. His fairies may have destroyed an evil but there are other eye-witness seeing evils attacking a fairy. It’s their job to investigate that and bring information to the people. Ayumu doesn’t feel the same. Jirou sees Rieko passing by and talks to her. That night when she saw those lights, the expression of her face that indicated she saw something she shouldn’t have convinced him that it wasn’t his delusions. He notes that she pretended not to see them but one needs to accept things in order to move forward. Rieko isn’t sure but he tells her to trust herself. Coincidentally that is one of the murals he painted with those words on it. Mika sees Makki and talks to him. He isn’t in the mood especially talking to a stranger. He continues sulking so Mika tells him things won’t change or get better if he keeps silent. Perhaps she made it worse because he got irritated and runs away.

Makki searches Shigeki’s address from the school register and sees him outside his apartment, much to his annoyance. Makki wants Shigeki to meet Akira but he refuses. But he can tell her that it’s his fault for agreeing for Kisa to meet up with Ayumu. He feels guilty over what has happened because Bun-chan was very important to Kisa so Makki has no idea how it feels when Bun-chan gets taken away from her. Makki goes to Akira’s place to tell her Shigeki won’t see her. She’s okay with it and will wait. Makki also disagrees the way she termed the cold coloured lights as evils because it’s as though she has judged them as bad. Later Makki visits Kisa but she continues to shut herself in. She looks worse than before. Nobody answers the door so Makki leaves but sees Rieko downstairs. He knows she is worried about Kisa but she disagrees. She’s fed up with it all because it’s like everyone claims they care about her. She’s lying, no? Why would she come here if she’s not worried? She tells him off it has nothing to do with him. Later Makki sees a group of cold coloured lights and isn’t surprised anymore since he knows they exist. He has a feeling they are not evil but wonders what they really are. Next day, Mika comes into Makki again. Looks like something has happened for him to change his mind that he wants to talk to her. Thanks to her, he realized he and everyone have done nothing until now and they all shouldn’t stay like this. Makki goes off with a happy look on his face. Mika is glad it turned out his way. So glad that she calls Miki to tell her what happened.

Episode 21
Rieko is going to give printouts to Shigeki and Kisa but her friends think she should leave them alone. She doesn’t like them talking bad about them so they find her annoying and leave. First she goes to see Akira at Hana’s place. Akira finds it odd that she’s asking her about her friends. Shouldn’t she know them better herself? Wanting to know why Akira is talking to her friends, it is for research as it is best to hear things in person on what they have to say. If they won’t talk or meet, she won’t force them into it and wait for the next chance. Shigeki happen to walk in and when he sees them together, changes his mind and leaves. Akira goes after him. She knows he is pretty concerned with Kisa just like Ayumu. She doesn’t care who is worrying about who but wants to know how Kisa got Bun-chan. Even if Shigeki knows, he won’t tell her. Akira returns but sees Rieko breaking down before regaining composure. Hana tells her to take the day off since she can’t serve customers with that hideous face. Rieko gets calls from Makki but doesn’t answer. Yeah, lots of them. It makes him look like a stalker, eh? If it’s not her, then it’s Shigeki. Yeah, he’s not answering that damn annoying idiot either. So Rieko finally relents after yet another annoying Makki call. He wants to know if there is a place she goes to if she’s depressed since he doesn’t know if Kisa is home or not, he was wondering where Rieko would go if she was in the same position as Kisa. Maybe he should think about this himself. She asks if he had met Shigeki. He did. Tried to talk but he got mad and now isn’t answering his calls. Makki thought he might answer if it’s her since he thinks she is closest to him. She agrees to help him out just this once as she has some business with him too.

Shigeki gets another call thinking it’s from Makki, telling him to shut up but to his surprise it’s Rieko. Oops. She wants to meet giving an excuse to hand him the printouts. Just put it in his mail. Rieko then texts Makki she has secured a meeting with Shigeki. When Rieko reaches Shigeki’s place, she sees him outside and walking away. She goes after him and manages to stop him. At the park, they talk about this morning with Akira. He thinks he is no good when it comes to her. Rieko notes that everyone changed ever since Bun-chan ‘died’. Though she doesn’t understand much, she wants to be there for them. In that case, leave him alone. He’d be more appreciative that way. He’s growing sick of this. So why only Kisa? He claims she is fragile but Rieko begs to differ. She doesn’t fear to be hated unlike herself who pushed hard to mingle with the rest. In that aspect she might be strong but that doesn’t mean she’s not clumsy and delicate. Rieko now hates them both and runs away. Makki happen to catch wind of the end part. He throws his chance to talk to Shigeki by going after Rieko. His tissue comes in handy but maybe he was too slow to say the right words (or rather he doesn’t know) that Rieko doesn’t want him following or calling her anymore. She’s had it with everything. Zombie Kisa wakes up by the buzzing sound from her piece of junk. She thinks it’s Bun-chan.

Episode 22
Makki skips school just to go talk to Akira on what is important. It’s about when Reiko asked him then about the things he saw but shouldn’t see.  Though she started it, now she doesn’t care anymore. He thinks she never cared about it but was just annoyed that Kisa and Shigeki had some secret that didn’t involve her. If he was in her shoes, he wouldn’t like it either. Everyone was focused in chasing their own feelings and didn’t bother trying to meet eye to eye on anything. Even though they are chasing the same thing, what they’re pursuing in the end is different since everyone is different. Makki isn’t going to run or else he’ll regret it. They both renew their alliance to work together. Rieko goes to see Jirou and they talk about if they were chosen to have seen those lights. Jirou wants to paint Rieko and they discuss about people’s views. People are concern with how they look in the eyes of others but in the end they only see what they want to see. Sometimes they choose not to see at all. Jirou finishes his drawing and let’s say her first portrait makes Picasso’s a masterpiece. The second portrait is a much better and refined Rieko. This is how he sees her. Kisa reads her mails from herself a year ago. She finds everything annoying and wants to be left alone. Now that she has got her wish, she breaks down that she isn’t happy at all. Ayumu gets a surprise call from Ryousuke. He says he saw Okaka in his dream and due to her old physical nature, it must be tough for her to get back to Tana in winter so he thinks but hopes not that she has died. But in the dream, Okaka left a message and that is to tell to leave matters with Ayumu with him. The question isn’t why she came to Ryousuke’s place but to Ayumu. Though he doesn’t know why, he feels there is some sort of reason Okaka came to Yokohama. After remembering Heigorou’s words, Ayumu feels better and thanks Ryousuke for calling.

Rieko talks to Hana for advice and they discuss about the convenience of handphones that people come up with excuses not to meet directly. When something important needs to be conveyed, it is best to meet the person face to face. Rieko goes to meet Shigeki to ask what Bun-chan means to Kisa. She asks him because he is the closes to her and knows her best. Bun-chan was something born and not made. Something she could tell all the secrets of her heart to. That’s why Bun-chan wasn’t destroyed. It was murdered. Rieko wants him to think what he can do for Kisa. It might not be right now but don’t take too long because just like in a shogi game, he has a time limit and once time runs out, you lose. For a person who doesn’t know much about shogi and to be making such reference, maybe she’s improve a lot. Rieko then texts Makki to meet. She asks if he wants to be more than just friends. Makki could now say it since his feelings are clear. He confesses he likes her but she instantly rejects him. Though Makki feels heartbroken and wants to disappear, he can’t do that. There’s something he still can do because Kisa and Shigeki are all friends to them. Rieko admits that she lost sight of what was obvious. Kisa wakes up early next morning to find something buzzing underneath her blanket. It’s not Bun-chan but some weird egg shape thingy with wings. WTF?! I thought it looked like a headless duck. It is trying to go outside so when Kisa peeks through her window, she sees the huge UFO clearly hovering over the city.

Episode 23
This phenomenon is also visible to all the people in Yokohama. The TV news is rife with reports about this strange UFO and they are identifying it as Colossus for the time being. Apart from that, everything electronic has stopped working and there is a massive jam in the area of people trying to get out or somewhere since an evacuation order was issued. So we have the talk show discussing on what this UFO is, are they really manmade (the Americans made it?), their purpose (“We come in peace”) and even if aliens do exist, what kind of life form are they (what the heck is plasma?). Everybody is an expert in their own field and have something to say. And there are some people who are playing prophet already. Throw away your desires and be saved by the aliens! Rieko goes to check on Hana and sees her grilling mackerel outside. Soon a stream of old guys start coming into her kitchen (she left it opened instead of closing the shop). Rieko wonders why they’re so calm so Hana explains that when you’re at that age, you stop panicking because you’re already aware of what you can or cannot go against. Whether you jump the gun or run away in cowardice, nothing good comes out of it. No matter how bad it gets, time will still pass. These guys may have screwed up while they were young. Rieko takes out the bottles and spots a cold coloured light floating by. Even her friends are bumming around, thinking this Colossus thingy has caused much inconvenience and hopes the JDF would blow it out the sky. Wouldn’t it fall down and make them pancakes? Suddenly several cold coloured lights pass them and they think they are lucky because of the urban legend that states that dark lights will bring you fortune. Jirou repaints the “Trust Yourself” mural to “Think and Act”.

The debate on TV still rages on and one of the interviewees is no other than Akira. She points out that everyone is wrong! She tells about a similar event that happened 2 years ago at Tana. It’s all in her book if you want to read it. Explaining the temporary name of material fairy and material evil, she notes that people have misread its nature because it is the cold coloured ones that are evil as opposed to the warm coloured lights. She is sure because she encountered them 2 years ago. Then she goes on to explain about Tsukumogami. From what I understand, they are spirits manifesting in objects and there’re lots of them in Japan. It goes way back to the ancient times and those spirits who reside in the objects will start to some demon parade. When the emperor learnt of this, he summoned all the priests and monks to pray. Once they did, many bright lights appeared from the palace top and they thought it to be servants of Acalanatha. Eventually Tsukumogami repented and accepted the teachings of Buddha and passed on to Heaven. Thus material fairy = Acalanatha and Tsukumogami = material evil. Since things have existed in ancient times, mankind didn’t have the capacity to explain them and it would seem out of this world. That’s why all the spirits, monsters, myths and fairytales around the world are different forms of opposition between fairies and evils. So Colossus is either a huge evil or fairy. So, what are they going to do now? Akira says she is just a journalist and her job is to convey information to people. She’s right. You can’t expect her to come up with a counter plan, right? However there is one thing that everyone can do and should continue doing. That is to think and act.

Episode 24
Kisa wonders if this fairy thingy is Bun-chan reincarnated. Akira gets a call from Doumaru. He notes that her appearance on TV about material fairies has made her a considerable celebrity. Kisa leaves her home for the first time and puts fairy into her back. She passes by Shigeki who is in a hurry. As they walk along, Kisa shows him this fairy and thinks Bun-chan’s remains became one of those thingies Ayumu had. She wants to head to the centre of Colossus because she thinks she’ll learn something if she’s directly beneath it. Shigeki calls Rieko about Kisa and hopes he can stop her. He can’t since he has been slacking in class and if he misses it anymore, he’ll get an earful from his teacher. Makki is counting the number of flashes he has seen on Colossal when he gets a call from Rieko to help look and stop Kisa. The policeman turns Kisa away at the barricade. Haha. You think they would let her in just like that? You think she would give up just like that? I guess you can’t put policemen everywhere so Kisa is able to sneak in where there is no police stationed at the barricade. She meets Rieko and I guess her persuasion wasn’t so good. Kisa is still going in. Rieko doesn’t look like the forceful type either so she just follows her. Shigeki is done with classes and couldn’t connect with Rieko or Kisa. He calls Makki about Kisa and Rieko’s whereabouts so Makki tells them what he’s doing and the information he was being told by Rieko. Makki suggests they should meet up since it’s no good if they’re separated while searching. Kisa and Rieko see flashes on Colossus and upon closer look, it is actually the warm and cold coloured lights colliding. Rieko mentions about the big fuss whereby Kisa went missing in Nikkou. She was just standing there blanking out in front of what she called Youmeimon Gate. It was amazing for her as she had always wanted to see it all this time. Then they see several strange things (pigeons?) attacking something. Once they know their presence, they zoom away at lightning speed through their feet. Makki calls Akira (who is in the midst of preparing of another talk show on TV) about Kisa’s case. She hopes to meet him in an hour’s time. Kisa and Rieko end up at the park where she first met Ayumu. In fact, there he is waiting for her. Kisa somehow felt something was calling her. Rieko thought she could do the talking but Ayumu ignores her and thanks Kisa for coming. He knew she would come that’s why he waited.

Episode 25
Ayumu explains how Okaka led Dosshiru and Shisshin 100km to join him in Yokohama. 100km is a long distance and he wonders what feelings the cat must have had while walking the entire way here. As for what happened to her Bun-chan, he can’t change or erase what has happened, there is something he still has to do that’s why he waited for her. Shigeki meets up with Makki and is going in deeper. He doesn’t want Kisa to have any more painful or sad memories. He’s not sure what he’s going to do but he knows if he doesn’t, nothing will happen. He also notes how Makki has changed. When Kisa shows Ayumu Pou-chan (the new name she gave to this fairy because of the sound it makes), Rieko also mentions she saw something similar. But it was the warm coloured light being chased by cold coloured lights. Kisa realize they are the opposite of Bun-chan. More flashes appear underneath Colossus and Kisa feels scared because she doesn’t want Pou-chan to die and leave her all alone again. Makki couldn’t wait for Akira and heads in first while Shigeki stumbles into Dosshiru and Shisshin who beckon him to follow them. Rieko wants them to get out of this place. Common sense tells you it’s getting dangerous. However Ayumu has to agree with Kisa that they can’t use common sense on these things. Iterating what his dad once said, common sense isn’t always correct and sometimes gets in the way and prevents one from seeing the truth. Who wants to see the truth in this place? They do. That’s why they’re staying. I guess Rieko has no choice but to stick around too. Akira finally arrives and manages to catch up with Makki. He tells her an interesting data he has observed. He notices the flashes have are starting to increase since he started observing and thinks it’s a sign that something is going to happen. Makki thanks Akira and glad that he met her. Learning something like this is much more interesting than playing handphone games. So what is he getting at? He’s confessing he likes her! Wait a minute. After getting rejected by Rieko, he’s on to her now? Guess what? Akira doesn’t like men younger than her. That’s 2 rejections in a row for him!

Shigeki sees Dosshiru and Shisshin hiding under a bench to let a bunch of cold coloured lights zoom pass. Once the coast is clear, they get out of their hiding and lead Shigeki to Ayumu and co. Kisa gets defensive when Dosshiru and Shisshin start nudging her back. She fears the same would happen the last time but when Pou-chan comes out, to their surprise the trio fly playfully in the sky. They fly around the corner only to fly back as fast as they could because the bunch of cold coloured lights are chasing them! Everyone meets up and follows the lights as they hover beneath Colossus. Seems the cold coloured ones have cornered and outnumbered the warm coloured lights. Dosshiru and Shisshin got done in while Pou-chan tries to run away. In the end it could not get away and was destroyed into pieces. Kisa becomes downtrodden and notes how Bun-chan was destroyed by Pou-chan’s friends and now Pou-chan is destroyed by Bun-chan’s friends.  Makki realizes that Colossus is somewhat descending. Dangerous or safe, Akira can’t let this final affair slip. After all, they’ve come all the way to see the ending, right? A bunch of warm coloured lights are seen at a kindergarten.

Episode 26
This final conversational drama filled episode has the gang split into 3 groups as they discuss just about everything to bring a closure to this supernatural phenomenon.

Kisa & Shigeki – Kisa feels she just brings trouble everybody. Bun-chan and Pou-chan are gone because of her. Shigeki doesn’t think so because it’s not they left her because they wanted to. She thinks he’ll leave her too one day and will come to hate her. About wishes and dreams, Kisa notes Shigeki had his shogi but she has nothing. She has no idea what she wants to do. However Shigeki begs to differ. There might be nothing there in the first place but that would make living difficult so he wants to believe something’s out there. That’s why he clings to shogi. And that’s the only thing he has. Kisa thought he got to choose shogi and she couldn’t choose anything. On the contrary, he says she chose to be involved with Bun-chan and still hasn’t abandoned that. Bun-chan and Pou-chan are the same so this isn’t a battle between light and darkness, good or evil like they thought it was. So it’s something like they’re all looking for their other selves. The reason Bun-chan was attached to Kisa or Pou-chan was born from it was because she wanted it. It isn’t like Bun-chan and Pou-chan are her other selves but rather she feels her other self is elsewhere. Somewhere on the other side. Perhaps she wished for it, Bun-chan and Pou-chan may have come to her.

Makki & Rieko – Makki catches Rieko and lets her cry in his arms. After feeling better, Rieko quips if only Makki was a girl. He dismisses that and if it was so, he has a hunch they won’t be good friends. It’s because he would find her annoying if he’s the same girl type as her as she’s always in the spotlight. Despite Kisa is totally different than her, whichever side they are on, he feels something will work out between them. Rieko is annoyed he lumped them together. Though that’s not what he really meant, he thought she changed. She never showed her annoyance and that was thought to be maturity. If that is what it takes to be an adult, Makki doesn’t want to become one. If holding back is also what it takes to be an adult, he might be considered one now. But sometimes it’s not good to hold back all the time. He wonders where all the feelings they force themselves to hold back go.

Ayumu & Akira – Akira is trying to get information about Bun-chan turning into a fairy but Ayumu seems to be questioning her stance as a journalist. He wonders if the truth can be properly conveyed to everyone. The true meaning of what happened during the cat dance festival wasn’t conveyed in her book. Even if she said what was reported is nothing more than a copied, watered-down version of what happened, Ayumu still wonders if there is just one truth. Can the number of truths equal to the number of people on this planet since everyone sees the truth in their own ways. If that’s the case, there’ll be no use for reporting so that’s why they simply reported unfabricated facts as the truth and see how close they can get behind those facts. Even so, Ayumu thinks when information goes to her as filter, she is picking truths most convenient to her. In that sense, she may be biased. He thinks her book is good fiction because her truth is different than his. Ayumu knows something Akira doesn’t: Wakkun. He denies Wakkun is the kappa and refuses to delve further on this subject. Mentioning that Bun-chan and Pou-chan are the same, Akira admits that jumping to conclusion that they were good and evil is bias on her part. If it was a battle, Ayumu can’t explain what happened to Kisa’s light. Just like she said on TV, both lights existed since ancient times and will continue to stay in the future. He thinks this is almost a natural phenomenon. After all, they’re like different sides of the same coin.

All the warm coloured lights start filling the streets as they float up into Colossus, as the big UFO in the sky slowly disappears. Jirou and Hana meet and the former thinks it is a good time to change. He has to after being shown something so unexpected. Next morning, Akira calls Makki over because she is going to write a book based on the incidents that have happened in Yokohama and wants him to be a strict critic and read over her manuscript. Shigeki continues to attend shogi class. Kisa calls Ayumu to thank him but he feels he didn’t do anything and only waited for her like an old friend did for him. She thought that old friend, Wakkun is a zashiki warashi (child sprite). Kisa remembers she used to play a lot with one when she was young. Though she doesn’t remember it, but everyone said she named it Wakkun from that warashi part. However she wasn’t at Tana but in another region. After they hang up, Ayumu thinks Wakkun may have been a zashiki warashi of Touya Forest. He calls Miki to ask her lots of stuff. Kisa finally decides to attend school. And today is the last day of school and closing ceremony. Wow. That’s like cheating, no? But at least the good thing is that Kisa wants to attend school from now onwards.

Seeing Is Believing…
This entire affair is just one big drama and it feels like the supernatural stuff were just a side distraction to play out the drama. You see for both arcs, it is like while trying to uncover the mysteries of the lights, what is going on is actually a drama between their friendship among the characters and love interest. You have to be patient if you want to watch this because the supernatural stuff just doesn’t rush and the pace is slow so you really need to sit down for a few episodes to digest and understand what is going on. I wouldn’t say that the revelation of it all is satisfying either but if I think about it, it is open for interpretation as the series discusses about the truth. If they had set those lights as something in the end, it may surprise some, some may accept it and others wouldn’t. For me when the lights come and go without really knowing who they are, it was disappointing and frustrating because I sat through 26 episodes following closely and trying to understand the happenings only to not be clearly told what they really are. So what are those lights really? What was that UFO thing in the sky all about anyway? What was it purpose? Why did it happen? If those questions were answered, my guess is that my expectations of the ‘truth’ would have made me feel bitterly disappointed (also speaking from past animes experience). Thus it just ‘ended’ like that so that you could interpret what you want. After all, with so many people having their own views, they can be right, they can be wrong. So it’s up to you to believe in your own truth. Hence what do I make of it all in the end? Heck, everybody had just 1 big dream! Hah! That’s denial!

After all that drama, I can’t help think about those mysteries that were set in the series. There were so many theories and what-ifs about them and even some stories but in the end nothing was really revealed. For example when they say how the ghosts rumours made Emerald Land a dead place. So? It’s really hard to see the connection of the mysteries to that place and it somehow feels that the various and many mysteries we were told, some of them are irrelevant and ultimately didn’t matter. So if you don’t really remember or think about that case, it doesn’t matter at all. That’s why at the end of the series, it was more of a “So what?” line that I had in mind. Heigorou made his explanation about the world membrane thinning serious with both worlds overlapping but do we get any chance to see what’s on the other side? So if the lights appeared in Tana with Wakkun, why did they appear in Yokohama (maybe it’s due to the increasing numbers of urban legends being passed around)? Aren’t there other places they should appear? Unless it’s that membrane thinning excuse again. The same reason why Karakura Town in Bleach is the centre of attraction for gathering of souls, no? And why could Wakkun only appear in Tana and not follow Ayumu? Unless he being the zashiki warashi of Touya Forest is true. Why the Shinies are only reflected in eyes of animals? The unexplained phenomenon of Colossus that looks like a giant mosquito coil hovering over the town and then suddenly disappearing is more of a “So what?” expression. So if the lights aren’t fighting, how do you explain the destruction of Bun-chan, Dosshiru, Shisshin and Pou-chan? Unless it has something to do with being reborn again. After all, Pou-chan was made out of Bun-chan’s parts. But why the need of different coloured lights to outnumber and ‘destroy’ their opposites? Well yeah, open interpretation again. To each his own. And with everyone seemingly going back to their normal lives at the end, that’s why I had to go “So what?” instead of “WTF happened?”. There are probably lots of other stuffs that I’m wondering but I’ll leave it as it is. Just accept the truth as seen!

For the characters, I don’t know. All I could say that the main protagonists were just trying hard to convey and sort out their feelings amidst the supernatural stuffs and my guess is that because they don’t see the ‘truth’, they were hesitant to let it out. Ayumu during the summer arc, he was like some kid who really wasn’t interested in doing anything. He sounded sleepy, dreamy, tired and uninterested, the way he talks. He just wanted to find his lost memories and the past that connected him to this place. During the winter arc, I noticed that Ayumu has changed a little. He is a little mature despite his overall nature is still the same but at least he was less annoying (from my perspective) when he was 2 years ago. And from the looks of it, he and Miki are dating since there is a picture of them on his table and when Mika called Miki about her boyfriend, she didn’t deny. Kisa was just somebody who wanted to belong. Just because she was a little odd, others shunned her (it is unknown why her parents abandoned her). She only could confide in Shigeki because they’re the same. They’re both lonely. Rieko probably too is one and perhaps the reason why she wants to help Kisa is because she sees some degree of herself in her. Rieko did mention she does work hard to try not to let others hate her and since Kisa isn’t afraid of that, she interprets it as Kisa being true to herself. In other words, Rieko has always been putting up a mature facade. Like part of society expects her to. Hence by helping Kisa out, inadvertently she may have the courage to change herself. Just like Makki. Perhaps the strength he wants to borrow is to confess his feelings for Rieko. Akira has moved on from a small time reporter to a freelance journalist and it is good that she dedicates her time and energy in pursuing the passion she calls truth. In the eyes of others, she may seem like wasting her time with the unexplained as there are better issues to attend to. Well, that’s from your perspective if she’s not doing anything beneficial. But she’s pursuing it with a passion and commitment so one day all that she has reported may bear significance and importance to people in the future when something of the likes happened. At least there are some proper documentation even if they aren’t perfect. Maybe if she has got more solid proof, she can turn it into a video documentary instead. Kishiro and Hana in their respective arcs serve as the ‘advisor’ when Ayumu or Rieko needed some advice to sort things out. Older people know best because they’ve been around longer, right?

As for the other minor characters, it got me wondering what Takuma and Shione’s role in the series were for. All their roles were just for the little love triangle and that’s it. Even if you don’t put them into the series, I still think the show can run by without any major changes. So Shione wants to be close to Ayumu just to make Takuma jealous. So Takuma isn’t really interested in her and wants out. So what? How do the supernatural mysteries fit into all of this? Maybe Takuma’s explanation about Touya Forest and Moriya may add to the development but if you ask me, it could’ve been easily somebody else’s role to do that, not necessarily Takuma. Mika’s cameo in the winter arc also feels redundant as well. Not that she contributed anything to the story except maybe relay to Miki about what’s happening in Yokohama and a chance meeting with Makki to make think about his feelings. Jirou is just a homeless artist who happened to see those strange lights. So? He just got some form of confirmation when Rieko first saw it too. Does his art theme have something to do with the supernatural? Subtly. Discreetly. Maybe. Miku, she was just a little girl that nobody really understands since she could see things and once she tossed her doll back over, her appearance ended. Does this mean she couldn’t see supernatural stuffs anymore? Just like Kisa, she also had that ‘lost’ moment several years ago. Maybe it was such an incident that turned them ‘odd’ in the eyes of the rest. Ryousuke is such a pushy guy and is always eternally looking for Okaka. I still don’t understand what score he wants to settle with the cat. She’ll never let him catch her so easily. Speaking of Okaka, what really happened to her in the end? After she mysteriously ‘escaped’ from Ayumu’s home at Yokohama, she is never seen again. Well, in Ryousuke’s dream that’s a different story. So did she die for real this time? Who and what is that cat anyway? It feels Okaka has something to do with all the mysteries and yet nothing points to it. Speaking of who and whom, there is this person called Mikoshiba that in the summer arc that the characters keep mentioning from time to time. From what I gathered, she works at Asako’s place and is on a vacation. You’ll never see this person ever so it makes me wonder what is person’s role and significance for the name to be brought up at certain points. Okaka’s owner? Maybe. Not that it was proven either.

I think there are a few scenes whereby they try to give viewers a little spook and to a certain point they succeeded in making my heart skip for the moment. Of course you’ll have to forgive that my level, I’m an amateur when it comes to horror genres. Basically this also works because you don’t know what those lights are, you don’t fully understand the nature of the supernatural stuffs. Are those Shinies spirits or ghosts or aliens? You don’t really know even right till the end. And when humans lack understanding, they quickly jump to conclusions based from their prior knowledge, upbringing and stereotypes to try and understand what is happening. For the drawing and art, though the details of the characters are simple, I find the backgrounds to be rather sketchy. Especially during the summer arc, the rural place of Tana at certain glances just look like one big sketchy town that the producers didn’t put enough effort into making it look better. Though the buildings in Yokohama do have more detail, don’t get your hopes up either. Another slight gripe that I have about the series is the voice acting. I’m not saying that it is bad but it somewhat feels that the way the characters are speaking, it is like as though they aren’t interacting with each other even though in the episode you see them talking to each other. Get what I mean? Despite being shown talking to another person, it feels like they’re talking to themselves. There is no impact to feel that the words they say are giving the other party the impression he/she wants to say. Especially during the summer arc, I thought the way the characters talk were like as though they’re on a stage doing a drama play. Maybe it’s just the rural town atmosphere. Maybe it’s just me.

Despite the heavy drama and supernatural stuff, I doubt there would be any funny scenes (okay, so Ryousuke’s lolicon statement was funny). So when the mid-intermission comes, it felt funny in an amusing sense. We see Dosshiru and Shisshin and some other UFOs of their kind floating across the screen but what is more amusing is the choir-like angelic voices being played in the short ditty. I won’t say it is addictive but sometimes I can’t help but ‘sing’ along with those voices. Perhaps I’m just letting loose some steam trying to follow the drama of it all. But there is a funny segment and the most amusing of them all. This is also my favourite because for the next episode preview, it is a place where the pets, namely Roku, Taruto and Okaka rant about on random things. I guess this is the only place where animals get to talk, huh? Animals in real life don’t talk. Oh wait. There’s those Shinies… Anyway, the funny antics and conversation that they do or discuss would be enough to make you grin with amusement even if it has nothing to do with the next episode’s story. Whether it’s bumming around underneath the kotatsu, having fun coming up names of the next episode, figuring out the meaning and origins of their given names, Roku trying to be an artist (the rest thought it was a squid or octopus! I guess he has no talent in drawing!), a tokusatsu spoof or learning how to speak Mandarin (I caught you! The title was spoken in Japanese!), it’s never a dull moment to see the pets get the share of their limelight before returning to their respective owners in the final episode. Of course Okaka wouldn’t let Ryousuke catch him so easily as always. Time to disappear. Hmm… I’m still wondering why Roku always wears a straw hat on his head. I don’t think it’s that hot that it will burn his brain.

The clincher of this series for me is the very lively and catchy opening theme, Hikari No Silhouette by Coorie. It just reminded me that this is one of those few songs that I have heard many years ago but only get to watch the anime many years down the road (just like my case with Suzuka and Scrapped Princess). Thus it was a pleasant surprise to hear this song once more and sing it again as it roles. Despite the attractive tune of the song, I somehow find it an odd mix for it to be this series’ opening theme. As this show is loaded heavy with the drama and supernatural stuffs, putting in such a cheerful and sunshiny song just doesn’t fit. I’m not complaining about the song. It’s just that I thought it would be sound something darker. At least the ending theme, Shonen Humming by Masumi Ito has a little mysterious feel to it. Maybe it’s the singer’s (falsetto?) voice that makes this slow-moderate ballad sound weird too. And I’m still wondering about the mosquito coil Colossus thingy in the ending credits animation. The voice acting isn’t anything to shout about except Ai Shimizu was amusing as Taruto during the next episode preview segment. This is where she gets to flex her trademark cutie voice like Koyori in Sola or Ren in DearS unlike that deadpan voice as Shione. I thought Chiwa Saito as Miku was going to turn into something like Pani Poni Dash’s Rebecca or Linebarrels of Iron’s Rachel. She didn’t. Same case for Junko Takeuchi as Wakkun. I thought she would turn into the titular character in Naruto or Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn’s Lambo. She didn’t. So here’s the roll call for the other voice acting. Toshiyuki Tonaga as Ayumu (Shun in Kimi To Boku, Mikado in Durarara!!), Akiko Kobayashi as Kisa (Momo in Shinigami No Ballad), Miwa Matsumoto as Akira (Jama-P in Wedding Peach), Takahiro Sakurai as Shigeki (Suzaku in Code Geass), Kanako Mitsuhashi as Miki (Kilhua in Hunter x Hunter), Yasuo Saitou as Ryousuke (Takuto in Full Moon Wo Sagashite), Yasuyuki Kase as Takuma (Dan Straight in Fairy Tail), Tomoko Sadohara as Miki, Yuki Kaida as Makki (Fuji in Prince Of Tennis), Katsuhisa Houki as Heigorou (Jimbei in One Piece), Hozumi Gouda as Jirou (Kaien Cross in Vampire Knight), Risa Mizuno as Asako (Shigure in Nabari No Ou), Misa Watanabe as Hana (Akeginu in Basilisk), Tadahisa Saizen as Doumaru (Rikichi in Samurai 7) and Kenji Harada as Kishiro (Jouji in Paradise Kiss).

Whenever you encounter with some supernatural phenomenon, it depends on how you want to take it. Whether you want to pursue in finding out more about it or just ignore everything and pretend you didn’t see anything is all up to you. Just because a handful of people only witnessed something phenomenal that cannot be described using common sense doesn’t mean that it never existed or wasn’t true. But it’s too bad that in today’s world we live in, there are too many fakes and lies going around so to simply believe in such phenomenon easily is not feasible. It is going to take a lot more than proper documentation to convince one to believe even with today’s modern high end equipment technology. Thus it all boils down to how one sees and interprets it. It might be truth to some but crap to others. Whether you believe them or not, it is still best to show a little respect for the supernatural and do observe the taboos, dos and don’ts of the locals. Watching this series did make me question my own beliefs and its truths. If I were to see such lights, probably I would just think I may have seen too many animes. Time to stop and take a rest. And if I still continue seeing them, better run to the nearest temple/shrine/church and pray hard. Say, if you’re the kind that only believes what you see, if you haven’t seen or visited Poland, would you not believe that country exists? So to say if you can’t see God, do you not believe in Him then?

An Astronomy Club located at the basement of the school? That’s odd. Shouldn’t it be at least at the rooftop where you can have a clear view of the sky? Oh wait. Take a closer look. This isn’t really an Astronomy Club. It’s an Asstronomy Club. ASS-tronomy Club. There’s a difference in that. Despite both pronounced as Tenmon-bu in Japanese, the ‘mon’ is written in a slightly different kanji. So what is this Asstronomy Club about in Ebiten – Koritsu Ebisugawa Koukou Tenmon-Bu? One thing, as I read it seems pretty odd that it is a club for fujoshi fans. Yup. Those yaoi fetish females. I guess those hot studs making love must be like heaven, thus the stars. The ass. So what happens when somebody who is interested in astronomy joins the club only to find out it is not about the stars and constellations? What more, this new somebody is a new cross-dresser. Man, this is going to be real complicated in a fujoshi club.

Episode 1
Kyouko Todayama isn’t obviously paying attention in English class and is outright doing her own research right in front of the teacher, Shouko Oomori. She gets depressed and starts ranting about her boyfriend thingy. Thank goodness the bell just rang. Class is over. Out she happily goes. The teacher, that is. Asstronomy Club’s vice president, Hasumi Ooba meets the president of the student council, Yuka Iseda and the latter is adamant to abolish her club because it doesn’t have enough members and don’t do any productive activities. However Ooba isn’t going down with a fight as it’s a place she formed with her friends. Returning to her club room, she sees Todayama stripping Hakata Kanamori. WTF is this outrage. She also notices a first year student in an oversized uniform interested in joining the club, Itsuki Noya. She requests to write her name on the paper but Todayama isn’t going to let her join easily and wants her to pass a test. I’m not sure what’s the idea of tying Kanamori up, reading out loud her yaoi doujin with Rikei Hiromatsu before cutting her precious book up! Don’t worry, she has a couple of the same copies. That’s not the point… Noya is to assemble them together and thinking this must be some test to assemble and find harmony with the stars. Let’s say it’s all over the place so Todayama fails her instantly. However Hiromatsu points out it is much easier to read. The flow is better. It’s a yaoi doujin we’re talking about. But Todayama won’t let Noya join yet and will have to pass a second test. In this dramatic play, Ooba is dressed as Athena and narrates how Noya will have to defeat the 12 golden club members if she is to join the club. Otherwise it will be the end of Athena (cue for fake arrow to hit her chest – and die).

First up is Kanamori but because she was so annoying, Todayama agrees to help Noya out by stripping her naked!!! Noya wins without even having to lift a finger. Next is Hiromatsu in some mecha suit but she loses interest and has Noya a walkover. What the? Next is Ooba, dressed in her winter clothing. With some elaborated drama speech thingy suddenly Noya is going to face the final boss who is no other than Todayama. Noya thinks the equipment in Todayama’s hand is some Dob telescope but it seems she has modified it to something else. She shoots rock candy from it. Noya is advised to open the big box she is carrying during times of trouble and inside it is a pair of iron knuckles. One of the rock candy enters Noya’s mouth and she instantly falls asleep. With that, Todayama fails her and this means she won’t be admitted into the club. Ooba wants to know why she is so against her from joining and guess what was her reply? Because it’s fun! After much deliberation, Ooba invalids Todayama’s victory (with that scary look to make her reflect her actions), Noya’s acceptance will be decided via rock-scissors-paper. Fair game? All by chance, no? Noya wins and is given a form to fill up to join the club. Oomori the advisor comes in but she refutes she is the advisor and points that it is the cat, Neko instead and leaves. The girls think it’s her boyfriend problem thingy. The cat shreds the paper. At the end of the day, Noya thanks them for accepting her but Ooba is more thankful because of her, the club escaped abolishment.

Episode 2
In a cliché morning rush to school, Kanamori spots Neko with a bandaged on its forehead. Thinking there is some crest mark beneath it that will reveal it to be some Sailormoon thingy, she opens it only to see a different mark. I think she got the wrong cat too. In the club room, she sees Noya in a reindeer outfit. Todayama made her do it. Don’t ask. Oh, don’t forget today’s does of stripping as Todayama strips Kanamori and puts on a lewd Santa outfit so that they could go around recruiting new members. She has a bad feeling about this… Ooba sees Iseda again and the latter once more is adamant to close down her club despite having sufficient members. She shows all the complaints received. Hey wait. They all have the same date and are signed by Iseda herself! Oopsie! She felt embarrassed and guilty by her blooper till she sees Todayama and Kanamori folly. Instant change of mind. Todayama is handing out leaflets to potential members and believes nobody will recognize Kanamori in that outfit. Haha, on the contrary. So when she gets back, Kanamori feels doomed that everyone will think of her as a pervert and do something awful to her. Unfortunately her doujin mind switches on and she gets turned on by the delusion she is fantasizing. Next day in class, she is seen wearing a bunny outfit and because she is afraid of those ‘beasts’ targeting her, she’s not going to do club activities anymore. Todayama realizes the need of change in plans and makes Noya wear that skimpy Santa outfit. Oversized. Not sexy enough. Rejected. Kanamori is on the rooftop when Oomori hands her Neko. Looks like she got dumped by her boyfriend again. Heading back to the clubroom, she gets disheartened when people start staring at her. I don’t think they’ll pounce on her.

Upon opening the door, Kanamori is greeted with bad acting and voiceover that some evil has taken over Todayama’s body and is holding Hiromatsu hostage. It’s her job to save the day. Yeah, watch Kanamori transform into Tailor Moon! Tailor what? Oh, some legendary cosplay shop where you can fix any broken clothes. Haha! Anyway in this Sailormoon parody, we see Kanamori singing her own tune and using some Sailormoon parody skills to whip the evil. Too bad she got easily defeated. But she’s not giving up yet. She summons Noya as her Tailor Moon assistant to distract Todayama so that she could rescue Hiromatsu. She calls upon her other Tailor Moon mates and with the 5 of them (Hiromatsu, Ooba and Neko completing the line up – why are they named after office job positions?) vow to bring justice, blah, blah, blah. Todayama takes out her rock candy cannon and fires away. Hiromatsu is on the ‘verge of death’ so they narrate the wonderful times Kanamori first joined the club. Seems very glossy. In actual fact, Todayama targeted her because she was the most timid and they needed another member. After Hiromatsu ‘dramatically dies’, Kanamori powers up to avenge her death. Yeah, she’s got a new costume, a new theme song (at least she didn’t sing it herself this time) and some wind for effects. If you’re wondering, nobody is impressed. She’s going to use her terrifying skill that reveals Todayama’s 3 sizes. Todayama beeps them out when Kanamori reads them out, much to her dismay. She kicks up so much fuss that it may destroy the clubroom when this Tuxedo Midnight guy appears. Who the? He left as soon as he arrived. And thus the peace of this club is maintained. Wasn’t Kanamori the source? In the aftermath when they are stargazing, Noya thought Ooba was explaining about a certain star and its purpose during ancient times but Hiromatsu points out she was referring to Kanamori because every star has its purpose and there’s a reason why she is in Asstronomy Club. Kanamori is back to her normal self and doesn’t need to hide anymore because of the encouraging words said by Tuxedo Midnight (although he did not) and vows to protect the club. Ooba feels assured she’ll do that but Todayama just felt she was lying through her teeth.

Episode 3
There is this girl, Izumiko making her way into Asstronomy Club and confronting Todayama. However the scent of the incense caused her to pass out. Todayama is relaying a big emergency to Kanamori and Hiromatsu that she has caught the enemy. Izumiko is the enemy? And she’s an alien? Ooba treats her nicely so Izumiko is assured there is at least someone in this club who is sane rather than that wacko Todayama. Yeah, ignore her ranting. It gives you a peace of mind. Todayama isn’t convinced and will go all out to stop this alien. But the rest are awed that Izumiko is able to stop Todayama and put up with her stupid antics. Definitely not an amateur. Izumiko is here to find someone and looks all over the place. She sees a rock candy and this brings back some ‘horrifying’ memories. We see Todayama ranting about scientific terms and chemical names that only mad scientists do. It made others stay away from her and as a result, Izumiko was mistreated and blames Todayama for the lost of her friends. To the other girls’ surprise, Izumiko is Todayama’s little sister. One year her junior. Never could have guessed it, eh? Besides, they attend different schools. They were once intimate sisters. Well, not that intimate but the kind of intimacy that Izumiko looks up to her pretty and intelligent sister. Then one day Todayama dropped the bombshell that she is leaving to some star because she is not human and she has to do so to save Earth (among some other delusional ranting). You could say life turned upside down for Izumiko ever since she left but Todayama feels she is insulting Asstronomy Club. So she has her take a quiz club and if Izumiko clears it, she’ll get to see this person she’s looking for.

Noya finishes his class duties, returning to the club only to see Izumiko in a quiz session. She answered wrongly a question about Kanamori. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a cue for Todayama to strip her for today’s portion. Iseda then comes in, bent on closing the club so the girls escape via secret passageway leaving Noya and Ooba behind. As they walk along, Izumiko laments when did big sis turned into a deviant so Todayama takes this as an insult to the club. This has her continuing the match and if Izumiko wins, she’ll get to do anything to her but if she loses, she won’t have her way with the club. So… They’re battling each other via animal rides jousting? Octopus ride? Isn’t this turning out to be an ordinary sibling squabble? In the end, Todayama blows some sleeping powder to knock her out. And thus the club is once more saved for today. Eh? When she wakes up later, Todayama tells her to go back quietly and she’ll let today’s events slide. Otherwise she’ll post embarrassing photos of her on the internet. Gosh. Did she do anything to her while she was asleep? Obviously not but Izumiko took the bait and agrees. Izumiko is fetch home and she knows Todayama is hiding something and will look further into it. But she laments she couldn’t find her Itsuki-sama. Eh? Couldn’t she recognize? Unless… Todayama explains to the girls that they live separately when some mysterious dude pulls up to tell them that Earth is being targeted.

Episode 4
He identifies himself as Eiji Bando but Todayama has her reservations. Bando escapes when he receives an emergency message. In school, Hiromatsu asks Neko for its opinion. Well, it is Oomori’s substitute, right? Suddenly Neko gets naughty and frolics under her skirt. This made her go into ecstasy. Todayama sees this and now that she knows her weakness, is going to take advantage of it! Demon! First she teases her by not giving Hiromatsu touch Neko and then lets the cat loose into her breasts. Stimulating, isn’t it? Then Neko goes ‘violate’ Kanamori’s bag filled with her yaoi doujin and pees inside!!! Precious treasures!!! Hiromatsu goes after Neko and bumps into Izumiko coming into school. Knowing she wants to visit Asstronomy Club, she gives her a seal (stamped by Neko) as approval. Hiromatsu gets serious and wants to know what happened between the sisters since she doubts Todayama will tell her if she asks her straight. Izumiko doesn’t reveal anything. Hiromatsu feels Todayama is a big mystery and thus the reason why she joined the club was because she was curious about her. It might not seem obvious but according to her observation, Todayama is conducting advanced astronomy-related research in secret. Though Izumiko won’t forgive her sister for tarnishing the family’s name, she has no intention of reconciling with her and leaves upset when Hiromatsu tries to read a prediction for her via her tarot cards. There have been cases of girls fainting in school so Iseda and her team are investigating it and she doesn’t want this matter to be known as to cause unnecessary anxiety. Iseda has a fear of cats because she spots a group of them and runs back to her room. She summons Ooba and connects her club with the incidents. No proof? See? So Ooba says that if she gets to the bottom of this case by the end of the day, her club will not be abolished.

Of course Todayama plays detective, heading to the crime scene looking for clues and making Noya doing a stakeout while Ooba interviews the victims who don’t remember much. Neko is talking cat language to a legion of cats while Hiromatsu is obsessed with their cuteness. Todayama couldn’t find any leads on the case so she wants to go find someone and accuse that person of being the culprit! F*ck! So happens that person coming in is Izumiko. It’s decided. She’s the culprit. In some sick interrogation, as long as Izumiko doesn’t confess, Kanamori will get tortured. Eh? What? She fires her rock candy to rip her clothes so Izumiko agrees to come clean. Calling Iseda to the scene, Todayama wants Izumiko expelled for eternity from this school. Izumiko makes the perfect culprit since a student from another school wandering the grounds would be suspicious. Moreover, Izumiko says if she being the culprit solves everything, then so be it. However Ooba points out Izumiko is their guest and shows the seal of approval from Neko. This document is even valid? Suddenly Neko and the bunch of cats bust into the room. With Hiromatsu as the translator, Neko is enraged that Iseda is the culprit using this incident to abolish the club. As punishment, Todayama throws all the cats at her till she falls out of the window. Don’t worry. The cats provide soft landing cushion. In the aftermath as things wind down, Noya is appalled that Todayama forgot all about her! She’s still in her stakeout position! Hiromatsu suggests the sisters to talk but Todayama cautions not to get involve with her. Ooba gives Izumiko a planisphere as gift so reluctant Izumiko teaches her how to use it. Hiromatsu tells Izumiko that Todayama is a genius and despite being with her every day, she doesn’t know much about her. Telling her about a story behind some constellation. There were once 2 sisters who got along very well. When the older sister left in search of happiness, the younger one faithfully waited for a long time for her return till she became a flower and drifted away into the skies and became a constellation. Never heard it before? It’s made up by Todayama! But Izumiko wonders what prompted her to make up such a story. Izumiko then clearly spots a red star in the sky. Ooba is shocked that she could see it because that star is called Death Star.

Episode 5
Izumiko is once more at the doors of Asstronomy Club to find the man she is searching for but Todayama won’t allow her in. So while the sisters argue, comes in the rest of the members and especially Noya is in male clothes! He is the Itsuki-sama Izumiko has been searching for! How? What? Why? First, Izumiko slaps him multiple times in the cheek. Then she makes him say her name: Elizabeth Margaret. She has been wondering where he had been all the time so when the girls put the female uniform over him, Izumiko realizes how dumb she was not to recognize him in the first place. So focused on finding the normal Noya that she disregarded everything around her. After another trademark slap, Noya explains how he ended up cross-dressing. When he first wanted to join the Astronomy Club, he found it odd to be located at the basement. Todayama instantly rejects him because if there is a guy now, they won’t have secret girl parties (do they?) or exercise without their panties (WTF). However Todayama was reminded if Ooba finds out she turns him down, she’ll be in deep sh*t. So Todayama has him take a test. She strips Kanamori and wants him to wear her uniform, spewing crap about utilizing a human potential and the first step is via cross-dressing. So if he cross-dresses, he can join? The rest is history. That’s why you’ve always seen him in an oversized female uniform in the club room. Next, Izumiko makes him go on all fours and stands on him!!! Sadists! What’s more, she announces he is the heir to the Noya Group! WTF?! He’s treating him like dirt?! Izumiko reveals herself as his maid so she spews lot of crap to brainwash Noya into believing her she is like this and that. Including some twisted sense that since her name is Elizabeth which is the queen of England, it makes her more amazing than a maid and is far superior than him. That’s why he must obey her. WTF?! And he believed it! WTF???!!! Izumiko sets up some nice tea set and table for him to drink. Despite her goal of wanting him to experience the best of life, her tea is f*cking salty! Then she pours a mountain of salt into the cup. With those demonic eyes, she is confident her tea can’t be undrinkable! BULLY!!! She seems to have lots of fun bullying him.

Todayama tells her to stop bullying him so Izumiko grabs him and asserts he is hers and accuses her for always taking her treasures. That’s because Noya is her toy! Eh? WTF?! However Todayama reminds her he joined on his own will, this means he belongs to the Asstronomy Club. This means he is Todayama’s property?! What’s the difference?! Todayama snatches him and is going to perfect him by putting female clothes on him. At least she didn’t strip Kanamori for it. I guess the bullying just changed hands. Izumiko flips up his skirt to reveal his polka dot briefs. She slaps him and chides him for being half-hearted! If he is going to cross-dress, he must cross-dress down to his underwear too! Oh no. Everybody agrees but this is a cue for Todayama to strip Kanamori of her panties! She manages to stop them when she mentions she has an extra pair for cosplay. After that folly of Kanamori trying to pull back up her panties without bending down (I don’t know how screwed up it could get), Izumiko helps Noya wear the panties. Then Todayama flips up his skirt to see the panties over the briefs! Weird combo. Some perfection. At the end of the day as they leave, Izumiko asserts she will join this club and do the necessary paper work to transfer to this school. Both the sisters argue about Noya being a dog, toy, property and its equivalents that they won’t hand him over. Ooba who has been quiet all this time breaks her silence. She puts her foot down. Or else. Better surrender while you’re in one piece. She tells them it is not the present or future they need, but love. They have to treasure Noya more because he is the club’s equipment. Eh? Not her too? Well, Izumiko did call him her toy so she thought he is some sort of equipment. Speaking of Noya, the girls realize he isn’t around. Hiromatsu picks up her tarot card and death is on the cards. Todayama corrects herself he is no toy but perhaps a grim reaper born from a miserable star. I agree. With the way the sisters are treating him…

Episode 6
Noya is comfortably cleaning the club room in his boy uniform when Iseda walks in to announce she’ll be abolishing this club (again). Then behold! Appears Todayama in a tokusatsu outfit calling herself Kyouder! She wants Noya to reveal his true self and strips him! Izumiko isn’t going to allow that because his stripping rights belong to her and joins in the strip. The nonsense stops when Ooba comes in. She thought Iseda is back with the club. On the contrary. Noya learns she was a former club member and the president up till a year ago. Something must’ve happened between Ooba and Iseda for it to happen. Iseda asserts she has quit the club but Ooba insists she has accepted her resignation. On the grounds of this club is not productive, she is going to shut it down. Ooba wants her to join them in a stargazing activity to confirm with her own eyes to see if they’re productive or not. While waiting for night fall, the rest put up some lame hero show in a park that hardly has anybody. Even the mommies are talking to themselves and their kids paying attention to their toys. I don’t think they even know there are idiots acting on the stage. Ooba and Iseda are in the Ferris wheel and it’s a force flashback whether she wants to remember or not. Many years ago when they’re young, the duo are best of friends. They stumble into a beautiful rose garden with a telescope in the centre. This mansion belongs to a wheelchair ridden grandma. Because they all love roses and stars, the girls get permission to come play here again and in return will help tend to her rose garden and research on the stars. Iseda did the watering and suggested Ooba do the research since she had a weak body. This went on for several years and when they talk about the Rose Nebula, the girls promise they would take a picture of it so she can put it up in her room. Meanwhile the hero show seems to be failing but nobody gives a damn because nobody’s watching. After that blooper putting on the armour pieces on Todayama, Hiromatsu the ‘monster’ unleashes her wave of cats to attack. Todayama tries to use her light sabre and because the plug wasn’t properly plugged in, it catches fire and burns down the entire park! Oh sh*t! And the mommies don’t even know about the fire! It’s amazing they didn’t get caught.

Night falls as they trek to the destined stargazing area. Iseda explains the use of red torches so that their eyes could get used to the dark and not affect the stargazing. But I guess the rest love to mess around and scare this scaredy cat. Whether it’s shining the torchlight underneath their face, telling ghost stories, just showing Neko and the ultimate one: Cheekily pointing something is behind the tree she is hiding. Man, they’re enjoying this. She runs away but ends up at grandma’s mansion, the place where the stargazing will be. This now ruined mansion also brings back some memories too. One day when Ooba and Iseda came by for their usual visit, they see lots of people at the house. After telling they’re here to tend the roses and observe the stars as usual, a guy thanks them and says there is no need to do them anymore. Gosh. I guess granny went to stars, huh? Then Iseda was going to relay the good news that she got an official room for the Astronomy Club but she sees Ooba talking friendly with Todayama (with astronomy books all around the table). Her heart sank and she left. Back to the stargazing, Todayama sets up all the expensive equipment and this shocks Iseda because she thought she stole them! But as pointed out, they received advance payment for the hero show since the student council’s stingy budget won’t allow them to buy such equipment. Oh. So the hero show wasn’t for displaying their stupidity. Ooba then shows Iseda a picture of Rose Nebula taken from Todayama’s camera. She hasn’t forgotten about the promise. Iseda feels bad that she has misunderstood them but returns to her tsundere mode that she acknowledges the club is productive and won’t abolish them. For today. It’s already night time. Todayama ends it by spouting crap wanting to form a light music band tomorrow and head for the UK.

Episode 7
It’s for real! Todayama actually brought music instruments to the club to form a band! Looks like gazing at stars wasn’t enough, they need to become one too! But when they start playing, let’s just say the funeral music sounds much better. No sync! So are they giving up because they’re now bumming around. Todayama refuses to throw in the towel so she puts up a recruitment poster. All they need to recruit are band members who can play instruments since they are the vocals. I doubt they can sing too. In addition, they make a crappy promotion video and to top it, Todayama starts filming Neko to add icing to the cake. They follow the cat and bump into Iseda who is hinting she wants to join. Man, she can play those electric guitar riffs, bass and keyboard! She’s f*cking good! But the rest are ignoring her because they’re more preoccupied with following Neko! Till Ooba sees Iseda that the tsundere student council president runs away in embarrassment. The gang follow Neko and it leads them to Oomori. She’s outside her boyfriend’s house. Now they creepy things start to show. She’s feeding him lunch via the door hole and even a goodbye kiss! Is the door her boyfriend. They are so appalled that they are wondering if this is classified as horror genre and should report her. Oomori spots them and goes on a hysterical rant about being in love, blah, blah, blah. All they see is harassment and stalking. Oomori senses her boyfriend door open but he slams it back! Now we know why he doesn’t want to respond to that crazy woman. Before she turns into a criminal, Todayama blows her sleeping powder in her face and lets her sleep in the trash. Don’t worry. She’ll eventually wake up. Suddenly Noya’s head feels pain but he brushes it off.

Noya and Kanamori gets locked in the Asstronomy Club room together. It’s a ploy by Todayama to secretly film the exciting things that will happen with a boy and a girl alone together after school. And Izumiko is all tied up bondage style and she can’t do anything. Why is Todayama whipping her up too to see if she feels pleasure in pain? A sicko, now a sadist… So the cliché happenings. Kanamori stands up on a stool to reach something, Noya accidentally sees her panties, she panics, they fall, he accidentally has his hand on her boobs. Classic. Thinking she has hurt her feet, he carries her to a chair whereby he helps bandage it. Todayama shows Izumiko how long they’re getting along. They never see this side of him because someone was always taking care of him so his personality didn’t get any chance to show. She wants Izumiko to let Noya go because looking after him is just a reason for her to find someone to depend on. As a maid, she should stand back and watch her master’s happiness. Izumiko cries as she can’t believe Noya is having tea with another woman other than her. It has always been the 2 of them. When Noya starts getting a headache, Izumiko bursts out of the room to his aid. Then Ooba returns with Oomori and the latter has an important announcement to make. She found out her boyfriend loves woman with big boobs. What? That’s it? When she woke up in the trash, she smelled his scent in the rubbish and rummaged through them to find all his porn magazines are filled with woman with big tits. Note that searching through the garbage is the scary thing. So in order to make her boobs big, she is going to massage them. Well, Kanamori becomes the victim as Oomori strips her and massages her breasts! Why always her? Anyway this scene is too hot for Noya to handle that it aggravates his headache. Izumiko tries to wake him up with her slaps when suddenly he grabs her hand. Oh no. Then this evil aura starts flowing out and it’s like Noya has turned into a bishonen badass. Split personality? With an evil maniacal laugh, he notes it’s been a long time since he has seen Izumiko. So this is the real Noya?

Episode 8
Neko submits itself to Noya. Noya though believes this is the first time Todayama is seeing him in this form, he claims she is his fiancée. Izumiko wants to stop Noya but before she could pull out the gun underneath her skirt, Noya was quick to reach it. He disarms her and destroys her special bullets. He is going to make his move on the remaining moves when Ooba knocks his head with the locker for them to escape. They take refuge in the student council’s room. Iseda still thinks of joining the band. That was like over ages ago. So Todayama starts her explanations about pheromones, its consequences that will malfunction electromagnetism of living organisms and the terrifying prediction that Nostradamus made. Izumiko serves her master Noya like what a true maid should. He spills his wine so she had to use her clothes to wipe it. I don’t know how much he spilled because she’s down to her undies and would’ve gladly taken them off to wipe had Noya not stop her. He acknowledges her loyalty and the best maid but if he is to rule the world, he needs more maids. Todayama continues that the rock candy and incense could temporarily ward of Noya’s pheromones. They need to create Pheromone Breaker (Alias) to break it. Then comes in Oomori with lots of books. Seems she has researched lots of it. Has she found the answer? Yes! The book contains methods to enlarge breasts! Oh… Just let her be. So how are they going to make this Pheromone Breaker (Alias)? Todayama notices that Izumiko is the only person who carries sample of it due to Noya’s nature. That sample was in her special bullet.

They make their way to the chemistry lab but are besieged with zombie girls under Noya’s pheromones. Iseda thought she could be the hero and orders them to go back as the student council president. Unfortunately she got owned and became one of them. Yeah, she unintentionally became the sacrifice so the rest could head over to the lab. In the lab, more incomprehensible explanations from Todayama as she improvises the Dob telescope and turns it into a Pheromone Breaker (Alias) maker. Noya is addressing his maids when he realizes powder flowing into the room via air vent. He knows this is Todayama’s doing and though it is too small to have any significant effect, he must take action. Both sides face off and the girls are prepared after having eaten enough rock candies (Ooba got ear plugs?). Since this method of succumbing them to his pheromones won’t work, Noya unleashes his maid for the direct method. The zombie girls attack while Noya and Izumiko head back to the lab. Ooba fends off Iseda so that Todayama could go after them. Back in the Asstronomy Club, Todayama springs over them to load the special bullet into the gun. Todayama is ready to shoot him but Izumiko stands between them. She lets her know she is completely sane and not under his spell. Why is she doing this? Because she hates her for always taking away her treasures. She doesn’t want any more of those memories. The distraction was enough for Noya to knock her out. When she comes to, she is surrounded by her friends who mention that the duo have entered the club’s secret passageway. Noya is confident his time to become the world’s ruler has come.

Episode 9
Noya enjoys looking down on the world he is ruling but Izumiko points out the Noya she knew said the sky doesn’t belong to anyone and that’s why he liked it. Noya tells her to just obey him and think of nothing else. Todayama leads the girls to the park whereby Noya has turned the little girls into his harem. Why? He admits he’s a lolicon! As Todayama and Noya have a showdown, Izumiko reflects no matter how much she serves him, her feelings won’t reach him. No matter how much she loves him, he always returns to Todayama, his fiancée. Todayama points out he was afraid of her family blood because if he wasn’t, he could’ve taken control of her then back at the club room. Noya is going to show her unparallel despair and prepares to transform into his true self as Izumiko blames Todayama it’s her fault that she left him no choice and turned out like this. Noya summons all the cats as they cling on to him before blasting them away. Behold! Noya’s true form. An even more grown up and handsome version! It’s time for them to be part of his plan. He takes a pill and pops it down Kanamori’s mouth. Her body shrinks into a size of a child. He targets Hiromatsu next but Todayama protects her and swallows the pill instead. Oomori drops in and is looking pretty confident. Don’t get your hopes up. Noya throws a pill into her mouth but there is no effect! In this confusion, the girls take this chance to run away and reorganize themselves. So why wasn’t Oomori affected? She claims something about her boyfriend’s power of love, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, let’s ignore her since she’s going into stupid mode. Hiromatsu may look like a lolicon hugging the little Kanamori and Todayama but she says she likes anything small and cute.

Todayama explains the special pill that suppresses Noya’s abnormal rapid growth that’s why when they eat it, it made them smaller. Since there is one that makes you shrink, there is also one that will make your body grow. She might make it if she studies the arrangement of the stars as codes for the medicine and aromas that her grandma taught her. Hey. Her grandma looks awfully familiar. Wheelchair, rose garden, telescope…  But they don’t have time to do that because here comes Noya and his exuding pheromones. Dropping in to save the day is Oomori’s boyfriend, no other than that Bando guy, who is Noya’s elder brother too! I’m sure Kanamori has started her yaoi fantasy between the brothers. Lolicon versus big breasts freak. Bando wants to save him from Noya’s family curse and gives the remedy pills to return Todayama and Kanamori back to their normal sizes. However he gets an urgent call so he has to leave and leaves it up to them to take care of Noya while Oomori follows him closely behind. What a letdown. Though Noya would’ve preferred lolis, he is still okay with other types of girls. When he comments Ooba as mature, she becomes agitated and attacks her. But Noya is too strong for her to handle. Todayama tells the rest to take her away while she handles it from here.

Now it’s Todayama’s turn to get upset when Iseda happened to waltz into the scene and gets owned by Noya. Something about her dying twice already and can’t be revived. So furious that Todayama transforms into that familiar blonde towering spikes Super Saiyan! Both sides up their power and their auras clash. Izumiko warns her sister to run for it but she says if she can stop Noya at full power, her research will finally come to an end. The powerful Noya family had always been after the secrets of the righteous Todayama family. That’s why they organized an engagement by force. Noya admits he transferred into this school to meet her, something his other self doesn’t know. In order to revive the Todayama family and escape Noya’s family rule, she abandoned everything to focus on her research. Izumiko realizes everything that has happened up till now. Todayama only miscalculated Noya’s meeting with Izumiko. Though she left to escape his rule, only to have Izumiko become his maid. As long as she lives, she won’t hand over her sister to him. Knowing that Todayama won’t obediently accept his proposal, he is going to do it by force. He grabs her and his powers render Todayama unable to move. He says just like Bando said, this is the only life he can lead. That is the fate of the Noya family, which bears the ruler’s blood. He is going to inject his pheromones directly by kissing her but Izumiko stops him. She says all she wanted is to be his maid. She alone is enough to be his maid. She knows he is suffering because he was born to carry a cruel fate. This temporarily awakens Noya’s other half. Noya realizes he tainted those eyes of hers even he told himself not to. She apologizes to her and shoots himself with the gun. In some suspended space, Todayama mentions her dream is to have fun club activities with her friends forever.

Episode 10
Suddenly it’s the preparation for the school festival! Everyone is working hard and Noya is back to his original self when he shot himself with the special drugs but Izumiko notes even if he remembered everything, he is not discussing anything with her and the events at the park must be weighing heavily on him. Iseda ticks Todayama off for bringing a tank to school! She insists it’s a telescope! A folly that involves Iseda being pushed by the tank’s turret and nearly falling off from the building has the gang landed in the principal office and he will overlook this since they’re backed by the Noya Group. When Todayama is alone with Izumiko, she asks why she likes Noya. Is she after his family’s fortunes? Flashback time. In fact, she hated him the very first time he transferred in. She had no friends after Todayama garnered a mad scientist reputation. Noya was friendly and popular but despite him trying to be nice to her, she shrugs him off and didn’t like his carefree character. Worse, she felt bitter that he was smarter than her in the tests. He continued trying to talk to her and one day he somehow tripped and pulled down her panties. The flashback is interrupted when Todayama thought she liked him because he pulled her pantsu down! Of course not! That night as everyone sleeps over at school, Izumiko talks to Noya and the flashback continues. They talk about the stars, the sky and the nature of humans. Everyone likes money and care about your physical appearance. Noya sympathizes how Izumiko as treated coldly by everyone. She still disliked him because she finds his behaviour insulting. He says it’s the opposite. People only get offended if they see you as an equal. He was brought up not to see others as equals. Izumiko admitted she is a terrible person in some ways and could only solve things by distancing herself from others. Noya insists she is different and her views are much greater than his. Because of his family, he doesn’t have anyone to tell his real feelings to. But everything is fine now. That’s why there is no longer a need for her to work as his maid and says goodbye.

The preparations continue the next morning. Iseda is sleep deprived, tired, malnutrition, overworked, going haywire and her complex looks terrible indeed. I wonder if the drug Oomori prescribed from her darling will work. Kanamori wonders why Izumiko isn’t in her maid uniform today. As Izumiko follows Neko, she remembers more of the past. She remembers entering the classroom to see all the girls submitting and stripping themselves before Noya. He reveals this special power as the side effect of his growth that compels others to do his bidding. A special drug keeps him from growing and thus suppresses this power. He has been careful in holding it till he met her. Thinking his other self desires her, he uses his pheromones to make her his slave. But Izumiko resisted, fought off his powers and told him off this is not the Noya she likes. This causes Noya to return to his normal self. Feeling guilty for trying to use his powers on her, he jumps off the window but she grabs his hand. He can’t forgive himself for tainting her eyes and who knows when he’ll go berserk like this again. Izumiko denies his power had no effect on her and even if she were to become his maid, she will look down on him. They both fall off but Noya protected Izumiko. As a result he lost all memories from the fall. Iseda once more is giving her ticking off to Todayama about the tank. The telescope. Didn’t she tell her to take it away? Because she spots Neko, she panics and hides inside the tank and accidentally hits a switch that has the turret hit Izumiko. She falls off the ledge but Noya grabs her hand. Reverse déjà vu? Izumiko wants him to let go thinking he doesn’t care about her anymore. That’s why he said goodbye, right? What he meant then was that he wanted to free her. She is more important to him than anyone. He just wanted to be with her. They both fall but this time the hard ground won’t greet them because the Asstronomy Club girls just in time unfolded a big sheet to catch their fall. Todayama is in a suspended space talking to Bando. She thought she wanted to spend her days like these forever but was taught by those 2 who tried their hardest for the future. She cancels her engagement to Noya but the marital relationship between both their families will continue albeit slightly different. Izumiko wakes up thinking it’s still all a dream. Noya says it wasn’t. Especially the goodbye part. It was goodbye to her as Elizabeth. They could have kissed had they not noticed the other girls watching with glee. Oh, I guess this just gives Iseda another reason to close down the club. What has it got to do with it?

And so… It ends. Like that. I thought that it Todayama would be the main star and this is true only until the last few episodes when the focus shifts towards Noya and Izumiko. The final arc displays their relationship and their reconciliation to a new beginning as life together not as master and servant, but as friends. Maybe they’ll upgrade that to lovers. With Noya having a different and hidden personality may be a good catalyst for the flow of the story but it somehow feels that the original plot about the club with fujoshi girls was cast aside. In fact, the Asstronomy Club to me never once felt like a true fujoshi club because the only person who is ever so obvious obsessed in yaoi is Kanamori herself. From the way I look at the other girls, I don’t think they are even a fujoshi fan. Also, the club did do some genuine stargazing activities and have considerable knowledge on the constellations and how to use the telescope as well.  So it was rather misleading to name the club so and to put it in the synopsis as such.

There are a few things that I wanted to know but perhaps the series didn’t address it. What was it really that made Iseda and Ooba drifted apart? It may be when Todayama got in between them but if Iseda was once the president of Asstronomy Club, it means they must have formed it together, right? Unless they formed the Astronomy Club and after the falling out, Ooba renamed it as Asstronomy Club. And why is Iseda so bent on closing it down? What has she got against it? Maybe nothing at all. She just wants Ooba’s attention, that’s all. Excuses after excuses to close it down, it still never happened and the slightest reason was enough for Iseda to put it off to the next day. So really. I think she just wants Ooba’s attention. What about that Death Star thingy that Izumiko could see? Was it just a teaser to end the episode dramatically? Well, most episodes are like that. As for the Todayama and Noya family rivalry thingy. I really understand much about what the heck is going on, the Noya family being rulers and such. Sure, Todayama had to leave to get away from them, but did she turn into an oddball along the way? Or was she just pretending to be a crazy girl all along? I’m not sure about Noya’s split personalities having different memories. Does the grown up Noya have a different conscious than the boyish one? How did Noya transferred to this school in the first place if it was his alter ego that did so just to meet Todayama and without him even knowing it? Maybe it was because during the fall, Noya was in his suppressed form and thus when in this appearance, he loses his memories till his other form takes over. Who is that Bando guy anyway? I get a feeling that he is more than meets the eye. Of course the eternal question that is still bugging me. Why is the club underground? I did say they still do some astronomy-like activities, right? Furthermore, the club has a secret passageway to some place that I probably won’t see the significance of.

Of course with the colourful cast of characters, the noisiest wildest one has got to be Todayama. It never tires to amuse me the nonsense and energetic silliness that idiot brings into each episode. Maybe it’s because she’s a genius that she acts like a clown or joker. But you know what they sometimes say about geniuses. She might be a clever person just hiding her cleverness. She may act like a psycho comedian but it’s just to hide her outstanding intellect and her other various talents. Can I use the term smart ass on her? But sometimes too I feel she’s just the opposite because she loves sexually harassing Kanamori. Perhaps she’s easy to be teased and her reaction to it is perfect. You wouldn’t want to rip off clothes of somebody if she had no reaction to it or allows you to do it, right? Where’s the fun? Otherwise, behind her raunchiness is a caring person who does things with a reason. Would Izumiko really understood if she told her everything about the truth? Maybe that’s why it’s better to cook up with that alien thingy and one day she’ll understand the bigger picture herself. Speaking of Kanamori, she’s like the symbol of fanservice of this series. A big majority of fanservice comes from her. Somewhere in each episode (except for the last couple of episodes), she’ll get stripped. Hiromatsu may be the quiet type but when faced with cats or cute things, she becomes comical.

The most mysterious one is still Ooba. Not even Todayama would mess with her. I thought we could see her pulling off something shocking or something revelation in the end but it was not meant to be. Iseda as the tsundere needs no explanation. As said, her constant harassment to abolish the club is just to gain attention from Ooba. She’s so easy to read especially her tsun-tsun reactions with Ooba. Because once she has closed down the club, what next? Yeah, no more reason for her to haul her up into her student council room or to make periodic visits. I thought Izumiko was another crazy idiot like her sister when she displayed her dominatrix form on poor Noya. I thought Noya was the weak kind of boy who gets bullied. I mean if a maid can step all over you, what does this tell you? So when it is revealed that Noya had an abnormal power, it explains everything. All Izumiko wanted was just to be with him and he too wanted to be with her. In the end, being dominant over the other wasn’t the answer because it’s more of acceptance and be oneself. Pheromones can make others fully submit without question but it is forced and not on one’s free will. Is this true domination? Is this true love? Think not. Oh, when Noya is exuding his pheromones, I thought he makes lots of funny poses. Do the pheromones make him go like that? Or he is just making them because he thinks he is cool? As for Oomori, she’s the kind of woman that doesn’t handle the pressures of reality easily. Yeah, using the cat as replacement as advisor is already a means of running away from reality. Worse, when you become this woman’s girlfriend, she’s not going to let go of you easily. Super stalker and harasser material. Is it a wonder why Bando wants to get away as far as possible from her? Even if she’s being a bad girlfriend (from the viewpoint of everyone, that is), is she doing her job right as a teacher? Not sure. She spends most of her time fantasizing and daydreaming about her lover than anything else. In some episodes, the mid-intermission has a short segment on her whether it’s about happy cooking (for her boyfriend of course. Who else?), a snippet of her day (rumours of her being weird for the day. Not that she understood what’s going on either) or amateur recording (“Bubukimi, bubukimi, bubukimi…” 144 messages of the same thing! Creepy!). Neko though is a mystery, is a cool cat and cute mascot of the series. You would definitely break into a smile upon seeing this feline.

When I first caught glimpse of this series (or at least the promotional poster), I thought that this was some sort of a spin-off of the other anime series, Seitokai No Ichizon. An astronomy version of it, that is. Not to mention a little reminiscence of H20 ~Footprints in the Sand~ and Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi. Well clearly the drawing and art of the characters have that similarly feel since they are all illustrated by Kira Inugami (with the exception of Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi). One thing that bugs me is the oversized bowtie the students have as part of their uniform. I don’t know. It makes them look so, how do you put it, bulky. The funniest parts of this series are the parodies that are played out. Though I have read that each episode is a parody of an anime or live action TV series, I can only identify a handful such as Sailormoon, K-ON! and Dragonball. It’s sad that I don’t know lots of other animes like Saint Seiya, Blue Comet SPT Layzner or Fist Of The North Star because had I known them, I would have been laughing my ass off like how I did for the ones that I identified. They are quite hilarious (sometimes to a ridiculous point – but what good would it be if it wasn’t?) and it’s too bad this anime only lasted 10 episodes. I’m sure it could’ve been even quirkier if they had more episodes. More parodies and more idiotic antics from Todayama. A riot, that’s for sure. Some episodes that start off with some dramatic narration which I feel parody a certain anime that is being parodied for that episode. Even the title screen is quite creative with different designs for each episode. Then there are brief cameo appearances by characters from other animes. I only spotted Seitokai No Ichizon’s Kurimu and Sora No Otoshimono’s Ikaros. I’m sure there are more but I didn’t see that many animes in my life so I couldn’t recognize. Though some episodes end in suspense that doesn’t amount to much and I just think they’re messing around. For example, one episode ended with a short interview with Iseda (blanked out eyes and modified ‘chipmunk’ voice of course) and they try to spook us with some ghostly occurrence before everything suddenly cuts off. What was that all about?

Todayama’s idiotic style of talking reminds me of the titular character in Haiyoru! Nyaruko-san. It is no surprise that they are both voiced by Kana Asumi. I think I’m starting to stereotype her voice to suit playing such characters. Nakuru in Mayo Chiki, Mikoto from Kampfer and Shizuko from MM! Do I see a little pattern here? But hats off to her for making Todayama sound very convincing in every ways. Other casts include Mariya Ise as Noya (Stocking in Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt), Iori Nomizu as Izumiko (Nymph in Sora No Otoshimono), Asuka Nishi as Kanamori (Ravel in High School DxD), Risako Murai as Hiromatsu (Katsuyo in R-15), Satomi Satou as Ooba (Ritsu in K-ON!), Midori Tsukimiya as Iseda (Eucliwood in Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka) and Kaori Nazuki as Oomori (Yui in To Love-Ru, Nunally in Code Geass). The main ending theme Mirai Iro No Yakusoku by the seiyuus of Izumiko, Kanamori, Hiromatsu and Iseda. Sounds like a typical all-girl idol pop group. The ending theme for the final episode is Ai Wa Boomerang ~IZUMIKO PARADISE Mix by Iori Nomizu. The full song is played and when I first heard it, the music style reminded me of Laura Branigan’s Self Control, The Lucky One or Flashdance’s Gloria and Donna Summer’s She Works Hard For The Money. You know, that kind of music you hear in the 80’s. Unless you’re not that old enough. I thought it doesn’t sound bad at all.

It has been entertaining watching the spoofs with some laugh out loud moments though some of the parts that I couldn’t comprehend took some of the fun out of it. Nevertheless it is still a good watch if you don’t want something so serious and engaging. I mean, using pheromones to submit the world to your feet? I’m sure every otaku would love to have this power for his harem. Too bad in reality we give off the opposite effect instead. Well, at least we know what to do when someone tries to rule the world using only his pheromones. Eat lots of rock candies, burn some special incense and probably get some ear plugs ready too. If all else fails, just call Todayama. Or someone who is as crazy as her. And if somebody is as so crazy as to tell you to strip or cross-dress as a prerequisite to join a club, no matter how hard up you are, better think twice about joining and walk away while you still can. There’s no turning back and telling what will happen. You might end up flat on your ass, half-assed or everything a big pain in the ass and go ass-tray. Or perhaps it could just leave you ass-tonished. P/S: I prefer maids to lolis anytime.

Minami-ke: Omatase

January 18, 2013

BAKAYARO! You made me wait too long! Thus it is only appropriately named that Minami-ke: Omatase (meaning, sorry for the wait) is just the right tonic before the fourth season launches itself back in January 2013. That is right now, right? I guess 3 years is a long time. That was the last time the third season was aired. I’m feeling nostalgic now… I remember those three sisters. Ordinary sisters living their ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. The big sister Haruka, the troublemaker middle child Kana and the emotionless youngest sister Chiaki who is responsible for making that ‘B’ word the catchphrase for this series. If you have not watched any of the previous seasons, you may need not too as this OVA can serve as a standalone. You need not know the sisters well too if you want to enjoy this gag anime. Though I won’t say this OVA brings any revolutionary changes and just your ordinary Minami-ke episode like usual, at least this serves as an appetizer before the said fourth season.

Words of Magic
Kana is a vampire. Say what? It’s Halloween and she’s dressed up as one. Mako-chan doesn’t know what Halloween is so Kana proceeds to show this cross-dressed kid Chiaki, Touma, Yoshino and Uchida in funny monster outfits eating sweets. Kana proceeds to have Mako-chan wear ‘her’ Halloween outfit. Erm… Doesn’t ‘she’ look just like another girl? Mako-chan is b*tching about how she wants to look like a vampire but the hat and wand Kana hand ‘her’ just made ‘her’ look like a magical girl. Next, to go trick or treat to Takeru. Mako-chan is thrilled Takeru gave a bag of sweets. Kana asks Takeru for the third time and since he isn’t going to give her, I suppose it’s trick. What trick? She tickles him! Chiaki requests trick or chocolate and since he can’t give that, it’s tickling trick for him. Soon the other girls start requesting for items but he’s out of sweets. Massive ticking trick! He’s going to be tickled to death! Till Haruka says trick or soy sauce. A cue for him to go buy one? Better get moving or else Haruka joins in the tickling trick. After eating their fill, Kana wants to just go to sleep so Mako-chan reminds her about choosing between brushing her teeth or cavities. Instantly she wakes up and goes brush them because teeth are a vampire’s life.

Kana seems to be bored with this New Year’s mood despite it’s only the third day. Well, they’ve done lots of New Years things already. She wants to go back with the normal life when Hayami offers her to drink amazake (sweet sake). Yoshino tries too but she gets drunk despite amazake containing no alcohol! Soon the other girls try and get drunk too! Kana observes Hayami putting all her beer cans in a plastic bag and hiding it behind the curtain. The rest wants to play hide-and-seek and make Kana ‘it’. However they’re all hiding underneath the kotatsu! It’s getting hot… Hayami is hiding behind the curtains! It’s getting cold… Chiaki is hiding behind Kana because it’s her blind spot and she’ll never find her. WTF. Should Kana find them or not? Kana continues observing how much fun everybody is having in their drunken state and she herself is so bored and can’t even enjoy it. Next morning, Haruka wakes up later than Kana and she seems tired. Hangover? And Kana is trying to get drunk?

On a Whim
After watching a cooking show on TV, Chiaki notes she doesn’t want her food on a whim. But Haruka comes out making okonomiyaki on a whim. Mmm. Tastes good. Because of this, Kana also tries doing things on a whim but they’re just doing things the lazy way like mismatched socks and brushing a certain part of her teeth. When Haruka is out, Kana decides to make lunch on a whim. Chiaki has a bad feeling. It turns out to be bell pepper salad dish with colour ratio of 7:2:1 green, yellow and red. But it’s still basically 10:10 bell pepper dish, right? Chiaki on a whim eats one and surprises Kana. Then Takeru happened to pass by the area and dropped by. On a whim? He also bought some snacks. On a whim? Good job! Then Haruka returns and she too bought some doughnuts. On a whim? Love this whimsical thing. Kana feels great doing this on a whim thing. So on school day she on a whim gets up early and doesn’t tie her hair. She tries offending Fujioka on a whim but he is surprised she looks different and is hell bent that something happened instead of on a whim. Keiko ditches her glasses to try out contact lenses but finds them uncomfortable. Fujioka finds her weird. Riko tied her hair instead of letting it flow and Fujioka finds her weird. Kana concludes that sometimes being on a whim isn’t good.

Meanwhile Hosaka is looking distressed. He made salad the other day on a whim but couldn’t remember its taste. Oh God. Don’t unbutton your shirt… I don’t know why he has to start singing about salad and the toppings he put. Anyway he still can’t remember. Hayami even wonders if what he made was salad. If he can’t remember, why not just forget about it? I don’t think he’s going to let this one go. He’s going to name it some illusionary salad thingy. Whatever.

Because It’s Hot
Chiaki suggests Kana wear a swimsuit since it’s a hot day and she’s taking multiple showers. Good idea. She doesn’t have to change into her normal clothes that way. Uchida and Yoshino arrive to invite Chiaki to the pool but she refuses. They are surprised to see Kana in her swimsuit even though she’s not going to the pool. Maybe it got their hopes up because they too are wearing swimsuits underneath their clothes. The duo also strip down to their swimsuits so as not to leave Kana ’embarrassed’ all by herself. They notice Chiaki blowing herself with an electric fan and thought it’s not fair. She tells them logically she is the one who is wearing the most clothes, thus the hottest. She hands them a hand fan instead. The trio think of making someone fan them. Guess who? I don’t know why Chiaki has to oblige but she got tired and goes to sleep. This gives Kana an idea that she can bypass the heat if she gets tired and sleep. So she fans the duo and goes to bed. Yoshino fans Uchida and does the same. But Uchida is all alone and nobody to fan! Fanning herself can’t do the trick, using the electric fan herself is no fun, so she tries to wake the rest up. Not working. Haruka comes back and she takes this opportunity to fan her and goes to slumber. Haruka is left dumbfounded and her question unanswered why they are dressed in their swimsuits.

Haruka, Maki and Atsuko are talking when Atsuko sees a rice stuck on Maki’s mouth. She wanted to tell her but Maki thought she’s trying to tell her how beautiful she is since she’s starring at her. Perasan! This is going to be tough. Then suddenly Haruka says how much Maki reminds her of a rice ball but Maki interprets that as she’s beautiful. Atsuko wonders if Haruka also realized the rice on her face. Perhaps. She starts talking about rice brand but Maki starts interpreting them as her being beautiful. Soon Hitomi and even Hayami came by and they start talking about rice to Maki. I think they really did notice and try to tell her but she’s too dumb to think that. Later when Atsuko walks with Maki, she thought of telling her straight but was intercepted by Hosaka who starts talking about rice as the ultimate food. He doesn’t need to strip… I don’t know WTF he is trying to equate Maki = rice ball and rice ball = Maki thingy. Maki doesn’t understand why people are being weird with her today when she wipes her mouth. The rice came off. Haruka sees Maki without the rice and says her face reminds her of takoyaki. Maki thought she was beautiful. Not again. Atsuko wonders if she’s normally a takoyaki.

Wait Just A Little Longer…
This OVA itself is fun and sure does bring back to good ol’ days watching the Minami-ke series although there is nothing out of the ordinary. Though I myself can’t remember much and have trouble recalling some of the names of the side characters. Need a little more time just to remember them. Maybe I’m getting old. The art and drawing seems to follow the one from the third season so I’m expecting that the fourth season is going to follow this style too. The opening and ending theme for this OVA, Shunka Shuutou Festival and Arigatou Thank You respectively are still sung by the seiyuus of the 3 Minami sisters and has that one-kind Minami-ke tune and feel to it. If you’ve heard all their opening and ending songs, you must have noticed that the tunes seem to be one-kind. It’s not a bad thing. Maybe it’s their trademark. But hey! I notice Chiaki didn’t spout her bakayaro line in this OVA. Maybe Kana hasn’t riled her up enough yet. Maybe next season. So certainly I am looking forward to more bakayaro, oops I mean more antics from the Minami sisters and their friends in whatever they do. Ordinary girls in their ordinary lives maybe. But I sense extraordinary moe and fun coming along. It feels good to be back. Welcome back, girls.

Mouretsu Pirates

January 13, 2013

Hey! I heard piracy is good! I heard that piracy is legal! All you need is some sort of letter that allows you to do some legal piracy despite that term sounding like an oxymoron but, hey! Piracy is legal and acceptable! Can it be true?! For real?! Where can I get my hands on that letter because there are lots of anime stuffs that I would love to download. So where? Where can I get that letter… Oh… Wait… What did you say? EHHHH?! Not that kind of piracy you say?! If it is not that kind of piracy then what kind of piracy do you mean? Oh… The kind that boards a ship… Oh… How disappointing. Sheesh… But wait a minute. Still, don’t you think it is a little odd that people who plunder from others is considered legal? WTF does that suppose to mean? Watch Mouretsu Pirates or as in its official English title, Bodacious Space Pirates to learn more about this piracy stuff. Sheesh… What a letdown on piracy…

In the distant future, mankind has been said to have mastered the art of travelling space. Well, at least space travel has become a norm because you have humans living in colonies and on planets far flung across the galaxy. You get the idea. So how does piracy fit into this anime? As we know throughout history, mankind isn’t the kind of species that sits down quietly when some royalty or authoritarian ruler rules with an iron fist. In short, some want to fight for independence. So on this particular planet, Sea of the Morning Star of the Tau Ceti solar system, the people fought against their colonial rulers, Stellar Alliances in a bid for independence over a century ago. Because they lack the firepower needed to fight against the oppressors, they issued this Letter of Marque to pirates, turning their status from criminals into sanctioned privateers and the pirates in returned helped out in providing battle fleets against the Alliance. The war was won and they got their independence. As time passed, there were no new wars and since the pirates are in possession of this letter, they are allowed to keep this letter, renew their pirating (privateer as they call it) licence and only their direct descendents may inherit this business. In short, piracy is some sort of a show business to awe the filthy rich who wants to experience some piracy time. WTF. So our main heroine, Marika Katou, supposedly a normal high school girl and a member of Hakuou Academy’s Yacht Club one day finds out her recently deceased father is a space pirate. In order for his ship, Bentenmaru to continue its legal piracy operations, Marika is drafted to be its captain. Wow. High school girl and pirate. How often do you hear that in the same line? Besides, how often is it do you hear a young female captain pirate? It’s like being a black cowboy, right?

Actually I won’t really go so far to say that this anime is one of the few intelligent animes around but it is better than the current glut of ecchi high school comedies, mindless fanservice or the kind that has a normal high school kid being bestowed super powers, then turned into a hero to save the day. I would say that if you want to enjoy this anime, be prepared for lots of technical stuffs thrown in your face. I’ll have to admit first that I’m not the smartest guy around and just too dumb so watching the initial episodes felt daunting because of all the terms and explanation. The elaborated and perhaps detailed explanation are very much needed to understand the plot and workings so much so that sometimes I had a hard time comprehending what is happening even if I replayed that scene over and over again. I had to resort to read other blogs to grasp the episode (special thanks to Abandoned Factory for clearing up lots of things up – but not everything. Oh, not forgetting Wikia too). So are you ready for some piracy?

Episode 1
We see Marika acing her Yacht Club’s simulation. It’s like she has a natural talent in piloting a ship. Yeah. We know why. Misa Grandwood and Kane McDougal are observing her top notch skills. They follow her to Lamphouse, the cafe where she works part time as a maid with her friend, Mami Endou. Misa introduces herself as an old acquaintance of Ririka, Marika’s mother and wonders if she would like to go to space. When Marika returns home, Misa and Kane pay them a visit and it seems 2 days ago, their captain Gonzaemon has passed away. How? Food poisoning. Hah! Every hard and tough things don’t kill him. It took a simple food poisoning for him to bite the dust. Well, it’s a reminder not to pick up anything you see on the ground and pop it into your mouth. So with Marika still in a dazed what is going on, Misa points out Gonzaemon is her father. The father she never knew. A space pirate. She is the only one who can take over his post. Of course Marika needs time to ponder because everything is too sudden. Why didn’t Ririka tell her about this before? She wanted to wait for the right time. So was that it? Anyway, what’s the deal about becoming legal pirates? Why would she become that? Well, Ririka says to take her time and think about it. Marika did some research and finds they’re telling the truth. More surprising, Ririka was once a captain of Bentenmaru. Next day in class, more surprises in store. Not only Kane becomes her class’ homeroom teacher (Misa becomes the school’s nurse), they’ll be having a new transfer student, Chiaki Kurihara. Looks cold. Looks unfriendly. While working at Lamphouse, a group of strange men enter as customers. Do scary MIBs and ruffians patron the place? Just odd. Chiaki also walks in and orders a parfait (she really enjoys her sweets). Chiaki is here to warn her. Not that Marika could understand. Some guy pops up to tell Marika that her mom requested emergency protection for her since there is trouble at the relay station where Ririka works. Chiaki is suspicious because it is the airport security that is providing protection rather than the police. Ordering Marika to close her eyes, Chiaki pulls out a gun and we see a ‘flashy colourful show’. Chiaki takes Marika’s hand and runs out of the place.

Episode 2
So at a safe place, Chiaki explains it is because she would be the potential captain of Bentenmaru, the reason why that guy is out to kidnap her. The rest of the patrons are probably special military ops. Later Ririka picks up her daughter and she explains a bit of herself as life as a pirate. She brings her to a wasteland and lets her have a taste of firing a blaster. It’s to explain that a pirate fights to impress because a fight is determined before the trigger is pulled. The pirate has the power to decide whether to pull that trigger. With Kane becoming the new advisor for Yacht Club, he prepares the club for a practice space cruise. From the data, the ship that this club has one of the ancient pirate ships used during the independence war known as the Original Seven Hakuchou. So Kane and the Yacht Club members led by its president Jenny Dolittle and vice president Lynn Lambretta, they make preparations and do the usual checking on Odette II. Marika and Chiaki (who is also part of the club) are paired together and the latter thinks Kane wants to know her motives by pairing them together. Marika notices Chiaki hacking the computer. She says Odette II is under electronic attack from the outside and she is trying to block it. Well, it gets heavy here for me. Not that I understand what it’s going on but it isn’t just auto-patrolling and spamming and perhaps someone is trying to hack in. Whatever. So we got the duo explaining about electronic warfare, trying to figure out where the perpetrator is and experiment in fighting back by improvising with the system they have now.

Episode 3
So the battle of who controls who begins. Because Marika activates some security system, the high power consumption causes Odette II’s power breaker to trip. I wonder what excuse she’ll come up with. Anyhow, the hacker escaped. Before the practice cruise, Marika and her classmates tackle the exams. Thank goodness none of them failed. Otherwise it would be just painful to be left behind taking make-up exam while the rest are enjoying their space flight. So with the girls preparing to launch Odette II, everything seems to be going smoothly till the main mast gets stuck while being unfolded. Well, I suppose the best way to fix it is to take a space walk and see what’s the problem. So Marika, Chiaki and some of the girls follow Kane as he guides them to the mast. They see how the mast is jammed and Kane decides to go with Marika’s solution in freeing the mast. With everyone at their designated positions and by Marika’s order, they give the mast a much needed push till it is back to its normal position. Marika sees her planet and despite looking small, it is still very pretty. Just like everything else when compared to the huge endless space is just a small dot, although also feeling scared, Marika is looking forward to it.

Episode 4
Jenny detects 3 ships in the vicinity but 2 of them disappeared. The other one as Kane and Misa know is Bentenmaru. Marika and Chiaki are paired again for the night watch. They realize a ship is trying to jam their signal. They predict that ship will attack them when they reach the back of a certain planet. So in order to detect that ship, they use a high frequency scan and it turns out to be an Alcyon battleship. Running the scan again just to make sure, the ship then disappears from the radar. They report this ghost ship to Kane and he doesn’t want them to think too much about it. Kane reports this to Bentenmaru and Jenny catches Marika and Chiaki trying to eavesdrop on the encrypted conversation. So when Marika reveals what she knows, to her surprise Jenny and the rest already know about her as a pirate candidate. With all the information at your finger tips, it’s not hard to see why. The ghost ship might be after Odette II because of Marika. Marika suggests fighting back not because of trying to be cool but for the sake of her club. I guess everybody’s in. So instead of taking a good rest, Marika is up all night planning how to attack. From what I understand, the plan is to continue maintaining their course so as not to let the ghost ship realize they have discovered their presence. At the same time, they’ll duplicate a fake system so they can hack it and in return hack back. Lynn the hacker discovers the identity of the ghost ship as it turns out to be a little scout drone disguising its signal as Alcyon.

Episode 5
Marika further elaborates her plan to limit the enemy’s actions and to buy them more distance from the planet. Unknown to the girls, Kane and Misa are secretly watching over their actions. They must have a lot of faith in the girls for what they’re going to pull off. The hacking begins and the enemy as predicted starts hacking the fake system. Once they think they have fully taken over the system, they send a message to the captain to surrender. Once Jenny sends her reply, it is Lynn’s cue to hack and control their system. However before she could successfully do that, the enemy shuts down their system. Amazingly, the enemy starts shooting long range laser beams without using any radar help but via optical targeting. In short, they’re firing blindly but each shot is getting closer to Odette II. Taking action, they calculate the origin of the shots to locate its position. Instead of accelerating away (the heat may give away Odette II’s location), Marika suggests using the mast foils and blind their enemy via the sunlight. Once the enemy is disabled, their radar picks up pirate ships in the name of Bentenmaru and Barbarusa. Chiaki introduces herself again but this time reveals she is the daughter of Barbarusa’s captain, Kenjou Kurihara. She is glad she came abort Odette II to see the next potential captain of Bentenmaru. Once Odette II finishes its practice cruise, Marika tells Ririka that she will be a space pirate.

Episode 6
Marika is supposed to have a fun outing with Mami but is whisked away by Kane and Misa to do lots of those tedious paper work. You know. Registering for the Letter of Marque and even getting properly dressed for the occasion. Who says being a pirate is easy? Besides, if no piracy is done within 50 days, the letter is rescinded. WTF. No piracy means good, right? So Marika has her first practice simulation as a captain. She fails at her first go. Don’t worry. Nobody is perfect. Then she receives personal training from the rest of the Bentenmaru crew. Including history lessons of piracy and its laws. Man, she’s tired out. Is this the kind of life she wants to go through? Who says life as a pirate captain is easy? Seems Chiaki is also on board for training and this boosts Marika’s morality. Anyway Chiaki is not amused with Marika’s ditzy behaviour because it’ll cause problems for those around her. Marika doesn’t really understand but apologizes anyway. There is only so much one can learn from teaching. The rest is up to experience. Yup, Marika is going to man her first piracy by putting on a piracy show onboard the Princess Apricot luxury liner. There’ll be additional swordplay service too. So it’s really like a show. Marika reading her lines as an invading pirate and making her entry to plunder. Well, the crowd seems to be very amused. Especially a high school girl as a pirate captain. So the swordplay is between Marika and Kane (acting as one of the passengers onboard the liner). Though Kane wins the fight, Marika swiftly takes out her little gun and fires at his chest! Don’t worry, it’s all just an act. This is what they call entertainment? And I guess the passengers have no qualms in handing over their possessions because the insurance company will cover for it. Chiaki soon leaves Bentenmaru to rendezvous with Barbarusa.

Episode 7
Marika fails as Bentenmaru’s captain. At least this is just confined to her dream. Perhaps this captain job is making her grades fall. Sure, she may be a pirate captain but this is no excuse to do badly academically. Pirates are no longer uneducated crude ruffians, you know. Besides, Marika isn’t going to quit school and wants to graduate. Chiaki visits Lampshade but only has Mami for company since Marika is out on a job. So we have Mami telling Chiaki how Marika always does her best and to look after her. So Marika’s job is to do piracy on another ship, Symphony Angel but this ship is being escorted by 3 Corback class escort ships. Once more Marika shows her prowess as the captain as both sides exchange volleys to outdo each other (for the sake of entertainment of that cruiser of course). In the end, with Symphony Angel surrendering, the Corbacks also surrender. Now it’s time to board. Note: Marika in make-up looks hideous. I thought she was going to go on stage as a Chinese opera actress. I prefer her plain smiling face, though. Before Marika could get some deserved rest in her room, the crew detects a stowaway onboard Bentenmaru during their piracy. Someone was genius enough to sneak onboard and holed-up on their ship? From the heat sensor, the stowaway seems to be a child.

Episode 8
The kid is here to see Gonzaemon but couldn’t believe he is dead. She introduces herself as Princess Gruier Serenity, the seventh princess of the Serenity royal family. Well, she really looks like one and after doing some research, they confirm she is the real deal. Gruier is brought to the bridge and we are also officially introduced to Marika’s main crew. We have Kane the helmsman, Misa the physician, Coorie the electronic warfare specialist (thick nerdy glasses she got), Schnitzer the tactical officer (this cyborg looks like a meaner version of Fullmetal Alchemist’s Al), Luca the navigator (eye-patch Red Indian? What does she always ‘see’?), Hyakume the radar and sensor specialist and Sandaime the engine caretaker. Gruier is here to seek a request. She wants them to find the wandering golden ghost ship. Furthermore, there are reports that Gruier is missing despite she claims she is here on her own will and that she had told her officials her whereabouts. Gruier soon becomes a transfer student in Marika’s class (I thought she looked like mini Sailormoon) and of course all the girls flock around her. Who wouldn’t want to be up close with the royal princess? But her transfer is to limit her enemy’s actions because by being popular announcing where she is, kidnappers would think twice before taking action. Misa has received reply from the Serenity side but it feels too soon and fishy. She’ll investigate. One day Marika is called in for an emergency job and eager Gruier tags along. Since they’re rushing, no time to argue. I’m sure Misa’s hell driving gave the girls new nightmares. See how messed up their hair is! Seems there is an unknown ship arriving at the edge of the Tau Ceti system and they are to see who that ship is. Though Gruier identified that ship as a military ship from her Serenity system bringing information about the golden ghost ship, they realize since Serenity isn’t an ally or enemy, they can’t ignore another military ship entering their area or make a big deal out of it. So they turn to pirates to do the job. Once the ships arrive, they scan it as one battleship and 4 escorts and all from Serenity Defence Force. These 5 are chasing their own fellow Corback and this ship seems to have taken damage from its attacks.

Episode 9
Gruier borrows Marika’s uniform to send message to her fleets to stop firing. Marika and Gruier then go meet the Grand Chamberlain of the Privy Council Yotof and his bodyguard heard Catherine on the damage Corback. Yotof assures everything is alright at the palace ever since Gruier left to study abroad. They hand over the requested data on the golden ghost ship before leaving. Back in school, Marika learns from Chiaki that Barbarusa has also been hired by an unknown client to look for the golden ghost ship. In addition to that, they have orders to eliminate others who are looking for it. Gruier is at the Yacht Club because she heard that someone here is a master in faking records. Yup. She needs someone to fake her school attendance records while she goes searching for the ghost ship. Jenny understands the situation and welcomes Gruier into the Yacht Club. Oh, they’re planning another practice cruise so in a way their attendance won’t be affected. Later when Ririka brings Marika to the airport cafeteria for dinner, the Bentenmaru crew are also there. Hyakume explains about the golden ghost ship. It is a first generation colony ship made way before you see all those high tech space warp. In short, the kind of technology whereby interstellar flight would take years to reach its destination. There is also data on sightings of this ghost ship for the past 200 years. I thought it’s like almost everywhere… And it seems it navigates through treacherous areas. Dark nebulae, Black Holes, dwarf star clusters… Man, how did it survive its journey? Maybe that’s why it’s a ghost ship. Maybe that’s why nobody actually could see it. But knowing where they can find the ghost ship and the possible dangers that come along, all that is left is to take action to fulfil the client’s request.

Episode 10
So with Marika’s absence, Chiaki is doing piracy in her place! I think she’s enjoying it. Really. And she looks like she’s born for the part. A natural. While flying through the space storm, Misa kicks Marika and Gruier out of the bridge since minors are limited to working certain hours. How considerate. WTF. Being pirates shouldn’t be bothered about this, right? Unless they can get their licence revoked. While Bentenmaru searches for the ghost ship’s location, Coorie hacks the Serenity buoys for information. The odd part is the buoys contain Gruier’s data and were launched 15 years ago despite Gruier was only born 2 years later. Then one of the buoys detects the presence of the ghost ship so Marika orders to jump to its location. By the time they reach there, the ghost ship has disappeared and caught in the middle of a space storm. There are also hostiles in the form of Serenity fleets so Marika orders to prepare for battle. Despite the fleets splitting into groups, Bentenmaru launches decoys to fool them and even fire a hit-and-run shot to damage the 2 nearest ships. Gruier thought of hailing to her fleets to clear the misunderstanding but Marika refuses because Gruier is supposed to be on a practice cruise with the Yacht Club. Since the Serenity fleets did attempted contact, it shows that they know who they are. Knowing now that the Serenity fleet is searching for the ghost ship, Marika is going to do what pirates do. Pursue the Serenity fleet, beat them to it and take a piece of the action.

Episode 11
While Schnitzer prepares the crew for battle, it is learnt that Queen Serendipity is leading the Serenity ships. Misa teaches Gruier how to wear a space suit. Realizing the fleet may have a good indication of the ghost ship’s next location, Marika orders a hyper-space jump but arrives in the midst of a time-space quake. The spatial rip can tear Bentenmaru apart so leave it to Kane to steer the ship out of the storm. Then the ghost ship appears out of subspace right in from of them and it is this event which is causing the spatial rip. Seems the Serenity fleets have also arrived. Gruier receives message from Serendipity and it turns to be Grunhilde, the eighth princess of the royal family and Gruier’s sister. I thought she looked very much like a boy. Anyway Grunhilde wants Gruier to leave or else she will fire back at them. Gruier thinks she is being manipulated. Suddenly the ghost ship sends out an omni-directional scan as it comes to ‘life’ with the sunlight reflecting its golden exterior. Marika wants to beat the Serenity fleets to the dock in the ghost ship (because the scanning scanned Gruier, it allowed them in). The high speed docking at least didn’t cause any major damages. Gruier wants to take this alone from here but Marika is going to see her duty all the way that she protects her crew and passengers. That includes you, Gruier. Suddenly the ghost ship is about to jump into subspace once more. Brace yourselves!

Episode 12
Inside the ship, Marika, Misa, Hyakume, Schnitzer and several crews escort Gruier to her destination. They also get to know the Serenity fleets have docked at the other end of the ship but rather than facing them, they continue their journey. Thanks to Gruier, the crew easily moves from one section to another as they learn that this ship is one big giant storeroom, gene bank and blueprint for the future of Serenity. Yeah, even livestock frozen in eternal sleep. They won’t find any valuable treasures here because Gruier mentions they have been taken and sold during their times of economic crisis. It’s funny to see Schnitzer using his brute strength to open all the doors. Till he can’t manage the final one and seeks help from the rest of the crew. The final room is Gruier’s destination, the Artificial Womb where all Serenity royals are made ever since the first king. Gruier’s true goal is to destroy this womb and end the royal lineage because she feels the people should be governing and the time of the royal family is over. Grunhilde’s crew (including Yotof and Catherine) also drops in from the other end. As both sides prepare to face off, the sisters argue on their different stance. Grunhilde wants to preserve this because she believes the royal family will help restore glory. Suddenly a blinding light grenade and smoke screen is thrown and the sisters are given sleeping gas. Once Gruier wakes up, she finds herself onboard the Serenity ship and both sides are happily working together. It is learnt that Yotof wanted to stop the sisters from fighting but since they are their servants, they can’t open fire on their princesses. Since Marika isn’t, that’s why she secretly plotted with him to peacefully disarm them. Gruier realizes her attempt to destroy the Artificial Womb was in vain because it had already dried up. If she had done so, she would’ve killed the last baby the womb made. The sisters reconcile and return with the ghost ship to reunite their people. So it’s a job well done for Bentenmaru.

Episode 13
Before Bentenmaru could return, they receive a distress signal from Gruier to turn around. Oh no! Another crisis too soon? Turns out that she just wanted to give Marika and her crew a medal award. A pirate getting an award from a princess? Well, now her popularity is soaring. Back home, Marika learns Ririka wants to change her job. Since Marika is doing fine, she thought of doing what she enjoyed too. Seems that Grunhilde has become a transfer student at Hakuou as well (she got jealous how Gruier bragged how cool this place was and had to see it for herself). Later Gruier talks to Marika alone and wants to properly thank her (I guess a medal wasn’t enough). She couldn’t have done it without her. Before Marika got involved, things on her planet were so messy and split-up. The sisters thought of doing what they can but foolishly got manipulated by both sides. Thanks to Marika’s saviour and advice to take back the ghost ship, Serenity is about to undergo vast changes for the better. Gruier shows Marika an administrator ID. The ring which belonged to Gonzaemon which she used to sneak into Bentenmaru by disabling its security. She wants Marika to have it. With the new school semester in full force, Lynn is now the Yacht Club’s president and they have a few new recruits. One of them being Grunhilde. Marika invites the sisters to her house for dinner. I’m sure it brought back horrible memories how Ririka’s horrible cooking almost killed the entire crew. That bad, huh? Maybe now she improved a lot. Grunhilde, fresh from living her life outside as a princess, didn’t know the spiciness of the mustard and puts it in her mouth. It would’ve been bad if a royalty died at dinner at her house. Marika returns to Bentenmaru and learns her next job is some escort that they can’t let normal transports handle. You can bet it’s something fishy. A bio-container containing cat-monkey? For experiment? Anyway, Marika gets an idea to take the sisters to the zoo. Ririka applies for the licence exam for a large interstellar ship.

Episode 14
While life returns to normal for Marika, it is too quiet to be normal because there hasn’t been any contact from Bentenmaru at their regular intervals. Did something happen to them? Then through Ririka’s handphone, Marika gets a call from Misa. Seems the bio-container of cat-monkeys got loose and some of them are carrying infectious cold-like disease. Yup, all the crew are quarantine in hospital and being treated for this non-fatal illness. Hey. Wait a minute. If Schnitzer is a cyborg, how the hell did he contract the disease?! Did it mess up his circuits? I don’t know. He’s quarantined with his fellow mates for 2 weeks. Seeing this is a good chance for Marika to learn the business end of piracy, she wants her to contact their insurance company, Harold Lloyd Insurance Union. But Ririka has unpleasant memories of that bastard Harold because he always charges a hefty price. She warns Marika to stay sharp since he’s a skilled negotiator. Well, Marika don’t have to worry since this afro guy, Show has taken over 5 years ago. Good thing he is a pacifist. Show tells them that because of the detailed treatment data the hospital might want to get, the Bentenmaru crew will be holed up for at least a month. In this period if there is no piracy, their licence will be cancelled. So Marika has 3 choices. 1) Pray and wait they’ll release early; 2) Kidnap the crew out; 3) Go recruiting. I guess it’s obvious. Ririka tells Marika that the relay station is the best place to recruit. On the day Marika is going recruiting, Gruier tags along to help her in need not as a princess but as a friend. With everyone almost recognizing Marika, Gruier suggests to get a makeover. Hmm… She looks like a career woman. Searching for sailors at the databank, no matter how much they narrow their search down, there are just too many search results to choose from so Gruier asks what is it that Marika looks for in a crew. I’m sure there’re lots of factors but what’s the most important one? Since she doesn’t know, she’ll leave it to Gruier’s ability to judge people. As a princess she might have met lots of people, right? Unfortunately they didn’t find a single crew. Till some burly guy walks up to her and knows she’s hiring. But Marika is suspicious because he easily accepts the job without knowing the specifications. It is revealed this guy is Kenjou, Chiaki’s father. So talking things out, Barbarusa will be taking some jobs that Bentenmaru cancelled and that Marika couldn’t find anybody to join her crew was because Kenjou told them not to sign up if Bentenmaru’s captain asked them. It would be a problem if random people start handling the ship. Oh, the disguise never worked in the first place. And Gruier had so much confidence with it. So after Chiaki kept hinting to dense Marika about finding a crew she can trust, she finally realizes where she could easily recruit them. Yes. The Yacht Club members. Yeah. They’re so eager beaver to join her. Why pass up a chance to ride a real pirate ship and do some real piracy? And this will be their next practice cruise.

Episode 15
Lynn easily hacks the system as Kane to gain permission for the Yacht Club to leave for another practice cruise. Oh, Gruier and Grunhilde are also onboard. And Chiaki helped them to stowaway. The more the merrier. Misa returns with information that they will be isolated for a month and their pirating licence is in danger. So when they realize Marika and her Yacht Club members are heading for Bentenmaru, you bet they have to get down and scramble to type down a manual on how to operate the ship because their ship’s control are very customized. How fast can you type! Get your fingers moving! With the girls in the bridge, can you blame them for not being impressed with the real deal? Until one of them had her curiosity gets the better of her and presses a button which fires a powerful beam! Oh sh*t! Hope the military doesn’t detect that. Better hurry up with the manual… Or else Bentenmaru might not fall apart in the hands of amateurs. They try to start up the engine but everything soon shuts down. Did they screw up somewhere? No use thinking on an empty stomach so Gruier has the girls treated to wonderful sweet stuffs. Wow! I want some too! Look at Chiaki’s happy face… Show contacts Marika and sends over the manual. So after carefully reading it, the girls get Bentenmaru working, much to the relief of its crew. Then Marika needs to practice making hyper-space jump in order for them to do piracy. It hit the crew that they haven’t done one on that yet! The problem is further complicated with the Stellar military vessel coming into the picture after detecting that blast. They need to jump now. However Marika doesn’t really need a manual to do the jump since she has been watching her crew pulling it off. With instructions and orders to her mates, the jump is successful. In the nick of time. Chiaki, Gruier and Grunhilde realize a surveillance camera that the Bentenmaru crew has been watching them. They destroy it and decide not to tell Marika that the manual is sent from them instead of Show to safeguard Marika’s pride.

Episode 16
Being a pirate captain is tiring. Yeah, after assigning rooms for her girls, she plops down to bed. She’s going to need all the strength for their piracy act. Yeah, she almost ran late for her job and woke up late. Well, Gruier did try to wake her up but she was dead as a log. Anyway, the girls cheer Marika in her captain outfit so she explains the piracy job they’ll be doing on the luxury liner. She and Chiaki caution them that they have to follow procedures. Any mistake, they’ll have to pay the penalty. Besides, they can’t keep the customers waiting as they want to experience piracy. Say what? So are the girls ready? Sudden silence… Suddenly it doesn’t seem so fun anymore with all the complicated stuffs and planning, eh? But I guess if Lynn is going to do it, everyone is happy to give Marika their support. So as they begin their piracy, it had so much blunders that the passengers are laughing in amusement and the liner’s captains are wondering if they are imposters because they are not up to their usual mark. After a rocky landing, now comes Marika and her pirates… What the f*ck is this?! Cosplay club?! The other girls wearing cosplay outfit?! You can thank Mami for that. She spent sleepless nights making them. Look at the bags under her eyes. She must be really passionate about it. The customers are so amused, the girls are enjoying themselves and one of them is even getting hit on! Is this piracy actually?! Everybody had so much fun that even the captain looked forward to further piracy business with Marika. WTF. Once done, the girls celebrate their job well done. Yeah, some even think of putting on a different cosplay outfit next time. Chiaki continues to be Marika’s ‘mother’, telling her to sleep in proper clothes, brush her teeth, etc. At least she’s doing a better job than Ririka. But the Serenity sisters soon tell Marika as they notice Lynn had communicated with someone outside but couldn’t hear what it was. Marika also had noted her strange behaviour but didn’t have time to talk to her. Chiaki thinks she may be a spy because from experience she too was one and the reason she originally joined the Yacht Club. Plus, Lynn is on probation for hacking and perhaps a spy for an organization to steal something from Bentenmaru. Instead of jumping to conclusions and jumping the gun, Marika decides to call Lynn in person and ask them herself. But instead of telling them, she says she has a job for them. That is, to kidnap the former Yacht Club president, Jenny. Ooohh…

Episode 17
Actually Jenny is the one hiring them and the person Lynn has been contacting with. Despite warning from Chiaki that pirates can’t do illegal stuffs, all the more reason why Lynn chose them because of Marika as a talented captain and that she also knows them. The reason of this kidnapping is because Jenny’s family runs the huge interstellar transporting company called Hugh & Dolittle. Jenny is to be the next heir but her uncle Robert prefers a male to inherit it and wants to marry her off to some politician to get her out of the way. Though Jenny has her own little company, she has no time to devote herself to it and wants to enrol at Space University to learn more about running a company. Students there cannot be easily removed by anybody whatsoever. Though the other girls are excited in kidnapping Jenny, Chiaki is against the plan because there are just amateurs, lots of planning are needed, real fights may be involved and more importantly, Marika may lose her pirating licence. But Marika thinks this sounds fun. Having too much job security is bad and is going to accept this request. Suddenly they receive communications of a small ship trying to seek refuge within them. Lynn knows it is Jenny and something must have gone wrong for her to flee. So once they pull Jenny in, Jenny in a bridal gown and Lynn happily reunite. And they kiss!!! In front of the girls! OMG! I didn’t know they were in this kind of relationship. They’re having a second round! Seems the SPs were trying to get her so she ran away. Several trained SPs cannot catch a girl in her wedding dress? Useless. Robert and his men are searching for Jenny but couldn’t find her. The last time they heard her was her contact with Bentenmaru. Robert orders to find out about their insurance company and pressure them from there.

Marika soon gets a message from Show wanting to confirm if Jenny is really on board. Well, he looks screwed upon confirming. He got a message from Hugh & Dolittle that Bentenmaru has kidnapped Jenny and wants her release or else all ties with them will be cut. Jenny confirms the threat is just a lie because this rift happened because of her and Robert. She hired Bentenmaru for her safety. Marika wants Show to observe their discussion on payment before he makes his decision. This is after all business, right? Jenny is willing to give them the ship she came in with (a high tech military ship) and also 10% of the gross profit from her Fairy Jane company for the next 10 years. 10% of 50 trillion per year is how much?! How many zeroes are there?! Wow! Plus, Lynn will throw in some data on customer lists and information. Marika thinks this is not a bad deal and envisions Fairy Jane will grow bigger than Hugh & Little. Besides, this is better than bowing to gullible pressure. As for Show, he allows them to take this job because he too doesn’t like being threatened. Marika also suggests taking them out because this would save Jenny’s arranged marriage and relieve pressure on the insurance company. She sets her next destination to Space University and in the mean time they can formulate a plan. Soon Show contacts the Bentenmaru crew about the next job Marika has. Worried, aren’t they? Even more when Show permitted her to do so because he believes in her luck and potential. Hope it doesn’t run out. And I think they could use some of it now because suddenly they see on their screen Bentenmaru being chased and attacked by Hugh & Dolittle’s fleets! The crew wants to get out now! Their ship is in danger. But Misa thinks they should not budge till Marika contacts them. Because she is their captain.

Episode 18
Even though they jumped, Robert’s fleet still manages to track them down. And the big man himself is here in his Jabberwocky class spaceship. They’re even firing at them. Although they’re just warning shots, they’re extremely close. Despite the officers advising they have fired enough warning shots, Robert orders them to continue. Marika can’t fire back since it will only put them at disadvantage. Knowing Robert will wait for a while to see their actions, Jenny discusses things with the crew. First a little history about her uncle. He is on the company’s board and has been fighting with her father for years. It only worsened when she started Fairy Jane. Not even Jenny knows any weaknesses her uncle has so attacking head on is out of the question. So they’re going to do it indirectly. Junigh Coolph is to be Jenny’s future husband. He is the eldest son of Theodore who is the secretary of Interstellar Transportation. Marrying Jenny with him would mean expanding the company and ties with the Bureau. So if they attack Junigh’s weakness, this might lead to their marriage being called off. Yeah, even Jenny doesn’t like this guy. Her woman’s hunch is telling her that. Thinking about his weakness, she remembers he once hosted a large clandestine party on his private ship. This may lead to something big. The Bentenmaru crew isn’t just bumming around waiting to be released because they are also digging up some dirt on Robert. They discover something big and report to Show. Marika orders her next destination to Junigh’s ship but they need to escape Robert’s fleet first. They surprise they enemies by splitting themselves into 3 (something they learnt during their first encounter with the ghost ship to replicate their ship’s profile and load it onto dummy transponders), charge at them before jumping into the wormhole and completely disappear off their radar. Show informs Marika about the shady accounting records of Hugh and Dolittle. Apparently their security was shoddy that’s why it could be accessed easily.

The girls dock on Junigh’s ship and even hijacked the broadcast to bring to you live what they are going to film. They see Junigh and his little army hailing to a new revolution to overthrow the system. So when Chiaki busts in and gets tough on all those revolution wannabes, they all cower and run! Some revolutionaries they are. Or maybe Chiaki is so pissed and is just letting loose some steam. Junigh is rounded up and he mentions he was just doing this as a hobby. Real or not, Junigh panics and pleads for his life. Man, this shows he’s such a big cry-baby. He’s calling for his daddy! The perfect setting for Jenny to call off her wedding with this wimp. Now the big boss arrives. Robert remains assertive and unmoved with the several threats made. Till Marika shows data of big chunks of money circulating with no clear purpose. There is more. Robert has been sending weapons and fighters to Theodore and other groups who oppose the Stellar Military. There are strict limits to how many one can possess weaponry just as a licence is to a pirate. So a company buying them to improve security seems like the perfect excuse. The ultimate proof came with a recorded conversation with Robert and Theodore. Wow. That guy is so big and important but he doesn’t know how to cover up his tracks properly? Game over, Robert. Back at Bentenmaru, the girls celebrate their success and also a farewell party for Chiaki for she is returning to her father’s side before he gets too naggy. Jenny knows her fight with her uncle isn’t over by a long shot. He might’ve been arrested but knows he’ll pull some strings to get out. She has learnt a lot from Marika and is better prepared to fight him the next time. Jenny and Lynn have a steamy kiss. I think Marika has had enough for today. Misa relays the good news to her mates. Since the results turned out negative, they’ll be released next week.

Episode 19
Lynn seems to have gotten her hands on several shuttle tickets and it will be a waste not to use them. After reaching the relay station, the Yacht Club girls prepare to clean Odette II. Marika decides to clean Bentenmaru by herself. Can she clean a big ship all by herself? I’m sure she learnt how useful gravity could be during cleaning but don’t mix up the order! Or you’ll do double the work cleaning up the mess. I didn’t know the crew had this much junk. Or maybe the girls partied so hard the other day. So tired Marika is but there’s a satisfied look on her face. Next day, the cleaning of Odette II continues but Marika is so a sleepyhead that she trips and accidentally drops her ID ring. Someone picks it up. Marika also continues cleaning Bentenmaru and gets the job done. While Marika is in her club room, she gets an emergency call from Misa to get her ass to Bentenmaru now. Seems the bridge controls are locked and can only be activated with the captain’s ID. Searching to her pockets, she can’t find it. Don’t tell me it’s lost! Start searching! Now you know what it’s like to search a needle in a haystack. Retrace your steps! As long as she didn’t drop it in space. Hopefully. Suddenly all the systems activate. It is Grunhilde who picked up the ID ring. With all the Yacht Club girls coming in and making routine checks on the start-up, wow, Bentenmaru just feels like their second home, eh? You can be rest assured Bentenmaru was in safe hands with these girls around. Grunhilde returns the ID ring to Marika and Gruier says that ring is a bond between the four of them: Gonzaemon, Marika, Grunhilde and Gruier. Sandaime picks up the plushie dolls that Marika had thrown away in the garbage. Now he is going to treasure them more. He’s not going to listen to his captain if she puts a weight ban on personal items onboard. The girls want Kane to come back as their advisor. Since they’re pestering, he’ll think about it. I guess he’s that popular with them. Marika uses the ID ring to accidentally open a file on the family’s recipe to make pot-au-feu. She learns and makes them to perfection much to Ririka’s satisfaction.

Episode 20
Ai Hoshimiya wants to join the 19th Nebula Cup race. This might overlap with Marika’s work and besides, only Ai has piloted a dinghy before. Don’t worry, here comes Kane back as their instructor. What’s with the getup and outfit?! First he makes the girls undergo tough training simulation. Yeah, it nearly killed them and Marika is not too pleased. Grunhilde researches the database on the Cup and learns that Hakuou was banned for 5 years during the 13th Nebula Cup for ignoring safety regulations. Meanwhile the chairwoman and her committee learn Hakuou is participating this year and isn’t too pleased they’ve got the guts to do so. Thinking they won’t follow the rules, they will find one who doesn’t either. They called on Show? Meanwhile Kane shows Ririka a group of men discussing that the Bisque Company isn’t aware of their treaty with Marika that would lead them into fighting each other for the pirates’ power. They are going to teach these guys a lesson. Ririka sees a hooded guy and understands why. Marika after a chat with Ai wonders why she joins the Yacht Club. Then she remembers. It was so she can go to space. Show informs Marika that the committee has hired Bentenmaru as security since they fear Hakuou will be up to their old tricks. This means Marika can’t participate, right? Kane brings the girls in their swimsuits to the beach. No, they’re not here to have fun. The strict coach is going to make a selection test. Yes, by riding a real yacht. The one that sails on water. The first three to make it back qualifies to represent Hakuou. So with the race heating up, those who can’t balance, falls off. Kane even planned some beam shot from Bentenmaru to make huge waves! It’s a tsunami. Hey. If Kane is down here, who is piloting Bentenmaru? Well, Misa seems to be doing a fine job. How long more can she hold? Natalia and Grunhilde reach the finishing line first. Ai catches up from the back to pass everyone else and peeps Marika to the finish line to complete the line-up. Marika hopes he won’t pull off this nasty trick again but Kane notes how greedy she is wanting to race and do pirating at the same time. But she’s glad Ai loves yachts more than ever now. After all that hard work, Kane rewards them by hitting Lamp House to replenish those lost calories with parfaits. It’s on him. Yahoo!

Episode 21
Hakuou must have kicked up some reputation that everybody from participants to staffs fear them! It’s like the demons have arrived! Chiaki who is hired to participate as one of the teams, pulls them away. Seems only Lynn is the one who never knew about their school’s suspension. Oh, she unknowingly had a hand in it too. She remembers during middle school, a couple of girls from Hakuou requested her help in altering the race course. The race became a nightmare and out of 142 entrants, only 2 finished. And the source of it all is here right now… So you can see why everybody is out to get them. And why does Lynn seem so enthusiastic about it all? The chairwoman is so busy trying to ensure that her 5 years of hard work won’t go to waste that she didn’t pay heed to Marika. So without knowing, she allows Marika to use a dinghy before realizing it too late. Marika’s idea is to watch from within the race because Bentenmaru can only watch from afar. The participants get ready to start the race as Gruier flags them off. The chairwoman gets into a dinghy herself and follows Marika. She tries to take Marika out before she does anything but the pirate girl doesn’t understand what gives. Suddenly the solar flares increase the difficulty of the course. As revealed, the committee and other participants have trained hard on this course to avenge their humiliation.

Kane realizes the Bisque Company has made their move and is going to ambush Marika. Because they don’t know which dinghy she is in, they start firing randomly! Kane tells Marika to run because Bisque Company is jealous of her pirate licence and is out to get her. Marika becomes the bait to draw their attention away from the racers. The chairwoman feels guilty for suspecting Marika and is impressed she went so far to protect the race. She wanted to help but got shot down. Then Bentenmaru comes down to help Marika get away. Better hurry because the big ship isn’t made to fly in atmosphere. Hope their thrusters stay. Despite the firepower, they are like sitting ducks as the enemies are in a smaller and swifter ship. They can’t fire their usual cannon as the air distortion will blow away the participants. They can use the beam at the front but how will they get the enemy to get ahead of them? Ai tells them the direction of the wind that will pass. Soon, Bentenmaru gets behind the enemy and fires them out of the sky. However the enemy launches an electromagnetic attack. Though it has no damage on a large ship like Bentenmaru, all electronics stop functioning for Ai who got caught in it. How can she continue the race? Go manual! She opens the hatch and uses the stars to navigate her way. I guess without all those electronics, she gets to see the beauty of the different skies of the planet. In the end, Bisque Company has been arrested, the Nebula Cup saved and Chiaki the underdog emerges the winner with Grunhilde taking second place. Hakuou even receives a letter of thanks from the chairwoman. And Ai is ready to take up the challenge from the next race…

Episode 22
The captain of the Silver Fox Pirates seems to be boasting about his invincibility when an unidentified ship blasts it out of space! Wow. Marika meets the rest of her crew to discuss the recent events about pirate hunters taking down other pirates (that’s what the insurance union is calling it). Marika wonders how many pirates are there since Chiaki’s Barbarusa is the only pirate fleet she knows. Some history lesson from Misa is in cue. Well, they’re about 200 of them during the war and they weren’t all well armed like Bentenmaru. As to maintain the Letter of Marque, the ship needs to be at least as powerful like Bentenmaru. So they’re merely like a cut-off point. Don’t forget, they have the best crew too. What is Marika going to do? Pointing out the circumstances of her exams and the expiring pirate licence, she deduces that the attacks on pirates are getting close to Tau Ceti and there is a possibility Bentenmaru will be targeted. She comes up with an idea that will help their client and renew their licence as well. Back at the Yacht Club, it has been decided that Marika becomes the president after Lynn leaves. She has no say about it since everyone has agreed on the matter. Marika is shuttled by Kane to Bentenmaru and he thinks it’s time for her to get a licence of her own to pilot a shuttle. He also asks her path after graduation. Will she commute from the planet to Bentenmaru or become a real sailor.

Down to business, it seems Bentenmaru will be doing an escort job. Not just an ordinary escort job because Bentenmaru will be protecting another pirate ship, Big Catch led by tough baldy Captain Stone. This prompts a discussion on what makes a pirate a pirate. The Letter of Marque aside, it’s because they act in isolation from others that the military and Stellar Alliance allowed them to exist. But if they start working together, it’ll be like a birth of a new empire. Gee, pirates cooperating? Don’t see that happening ever. Though pirates are lone wolves, if they’re not careful, the government may do them in. So the escort begins. Like other pirate captains, Stone is cocky and thinks the insurance union is scared for them to pull something off like this. Suddenly a big ship jumps into the area. Stone acts first and orders his men to fire at the unidentified ship. Unfortunately the big ship fires back and deals some serious damage to Big Catch and its mini ships. Stone thought the big ship is losing power and takes this chance to run but it soon powers up, moves at incredible zigzag speed and fires the ultimate blast to destroy Big Catch. Suddenly jumping in is another ship. And there is this hologram masked and cape dude standing on it. Wild Tiger from Tiger And Bunny?

Episode 23
Scan shows that new ship is Parabellum and is registered with the Galactic Empire. For some showy effects, Parabellum forces some sound effects onto Bentenmaru (the bass must be getting to loud) as it tries to ring in the unidentified ship by firing several missiles into it. The enemy then escapes via lightning ship. Parabellum hails Bentenmaru and that guy identifies himself as Ironbeard. He warns that danger will be upon Marika and if nothing is done, all pirates in this region will be wiped out at the hands of that enemy ship called Grand Cross. Coorie does a search but doesn’t find any data on that ship. Fortunately there were no casualties on Big Catch so all the crew are brought onto Bentenmaru for treatment. Though they tried to put out the fire on Big Catch, it reached the ammo store and the ship was blown into smithereens. There goes his pirate career. Stone can tell Marika is a good pirate and sees many similarities in her like her father whom he knows along with Ririka and Misa (nicknamed Bloody Misa then). He thinks Marika is the pirate for the new age. Chiaki returns to Hakuou as representative of Barbarusa to discuss about the pirate hunt. Kenjou suggests forming an alliance with all pirates bearing the Letter of Marque and of course help from Marika. Marika has no qualms in sharing data they’ve collected as they have engaged with Parabellum and Grand Cross. Gruier does her research on Grand Cross thinking it may have come from the Galactic Empire. Seems they are in a hurry constructing some secret project and conducting trial runs on pirates in remote areas. Well, pirate ships are well armed and it won’t make sense if they attack a civilian ship, right?

Chiaki says that the next step is to find the legendary chef. The chef who brought all the pirates together to the table with his great cook and desserts. So good it melted their hearts and thus united them for the war on independence. Yum. I didn’t know pirates had a sweet tooth. You know what they say about the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach. Shouldn’t this legendary chef use his skills to end whatever wars then? Also, all pirate ships still use old communication systems even if they upgrade every other part because of a certain song that summons all pirates. From all the food and parfaits they have eaten today, Marika has a good idea who this legendary chef is and wants Chiaki to come with her. At the airport cafeteria, Marika shows this guy Oyaji as the pirate chef. Marika wants to hold a pirate council. However Oyaji points out the legendary chef is his father. But when he was a young kid and working with him, he saw how all the famous pirates were shining and laughing together in the same room. Asking Marika the meaning of being a pirate, she replies it’s the power to be in space and to be yourself. She wants to go to the wider universe, the reason she became a pirate. Oyaji starts up the old communication radio and plays that song. Sounds like a typical pirate yo-ho-ho song. Using the encrypted data in the song, they extract the location of the pirate nest hidden among the asteroids, gas clouds and stellar debris. Any pirate who hears this song will definitely head there. Bentenmaru sets its destination there when Grand Cross pops up in front of them. If it’s a fight they want, Marika will gladly give it to them.

Episode 24
Marika orders to maintain a distance between the ships. She also knows that pirates don’t pick a fight when they know they can’t win. The ultimate plan is to make a run and jump. Grand Cross begins its quick zigzag patterns and starts firing all it got at Bentenmaru. Bentenmaru turns around and fires back but it charges straight ahead to Grand Cross. They’re going to be Swiss cheese if they take any more of the firing. Kane’s smooth piloting misses Bentenmaru from colliding with Grand Cross and enough to whizz pass it. Grand Cross though decelerating it isn’t going after them. Bentenmaru makes some minimal repairs before jumping to the pirate’s nest. They are greeted by Kenjou. The badly damaged Bentenmaru is in need of some repairs and Marika had this idea of upgrading some parts at the same time. It’s going to cost. But they have a trick up their sleeve. They send in Coorie. No, she’s not going to do some hacking. In fact, I didn’t know Coorie could looks this sexy and hot when she lets her hair down and loses her nerdy glasses! OMG! This blonde bombshell is turning heads wherever she goes! And the repair guy who saw her Bentenmaru emblem, realizes he mustn’t mess with this babe. Seriously. Meanwhile, Luca goes to see Misa about Kane. Marika and Chiaki are having a talk with Kenjou when they get news of several pirates being downed by Grand Cross. They might not even get 10 pirates here. Of course she is not to blame as it was their decision to come. Marika thought she saw Oyaji but it turns out to be his older brother. He’s spunkier and more talkative. In fact the legendary chef had 5 sons, each of them owning a restaurant of their own. Like a chain, huh?

Marika walks around the area when she comes into the pilot of Grand Cross. She introduces herself as Captain Quartz Christie and Grand Cross is someone’s experimental ship. She is impressed with Marika because she is the first pirate to escape Grand Cross. As for her hunting pirates, they provide good experiment subjects. To her, pirates in this era are useless because they just renew their old Letter of Marque and put on a little show. That’s about it. They’re no longer pirates in that sense. If they’re not needed, nobody will care if they’re gone, right? Marika does care and will fight her. She’ll be expecting it too. Quartz turns invisible when Schnitzer and his men drop in. A little too late perhaps? Marika can tell from the way Quartz said things, there was a spy on her ship. Schnitzer assures that the proper measures have been taken. Luca follows Kane but the latter knew she was tailing her all the while. Luca calls out Misa and the ladies corner him. Then Misa takes out her gun and shoots Luca in the head! Hey! She’s still standing. What a well made android, no? This proves that Luca is the spy onboard. Misa shoots and takes her down. How does she know? The real Luca who is only concerned about nothing but work ratted on Kane. I mean, Luca the caring woman? That was the dead giveaway. Now she will have Kane talk. She feels he is hiding things. Hyakume at a distance away verifies with his scanner that this is the real Kane. But nearby, we see another clone of Kane! Not another android! Or his twin brother! No, let it not! Marika gets a call from Ririka. They talk about the repairs on Bentenmaru costing a bomb and that Ririka has informed her school she’ll be absent for 2 weeks. Hope she can graduate at this rate. Oh, seems Ririka is with Ironbeard on Parabellum. Fate?

Episode 25
Luca the android reformatted itself so Hyakume couldn’t find any other details except it was made by the Galactic Empire corporation called Human Torch for a Stellar Military special operation. Speaking of the real Luca, what happened to her? Suddenly she pops right back surprising everyone! With big bags of souvenirs! From her explanation, she went on a vacation but ended up in a different resort when she changed her plan. Didn’t anybody know she was away? So Marika and Kenjou meet to discuss about Quartz. They doubt her as a captain because why would an enemy come here alone. Speaking of which, she is in the pirate council room now. Many of the pirates do not like her, especially a young hot-headed one. The chef reminds them that there shall be no killing in this room. He also lets them know a little secret. There are more pirates out there than those with the Letter of Marque. Quartz has a gold skull on her shoulder and it signifies a space pirate recognized and endorsed by the Galactic Empire. Quartz introduces herself as one of the imperial pioneers and her goal is to hunt pirates. Though the pirates start aiming their guns at her, Marika suggests that they should fight because she’s underestimating them, the reason she is here. They’ll have a fair fight to settle it all but the young pirate isn’t happy with that and threatens to kill Quartz right now. Before that could happen, Ironbeard steps in and claims he is here to bring Quartz back by the orders of the Queen. He too has a gold skull on his shoulder. However Marika wants to know his identity. Is he an ally or enemy? “The end of space”. Huh? Is that a valid answer? One man who can see into the endless future isn’t enough and only when others stand with him will they see the end of space someday. He questions what Marika sees.

The pirates begin their feast as Ironbeard escorts Quartz out. She feels humiliated because she came here to get the drop on here but ended up with him stealing the light and Marika running the show. Ironbeard says her safety is more important than her pride. The young hot-headed pirate and his subordinates aren’t going to let it slide and plans to kill them before they leave. Swiftly, Ririka fires and disables them all. No chance to fight back. Ironbeard suggests considering joining his side but she’s not interested. With Misa and Kane now in the picture, Misa realizes that the Kane clone is his younger twin brother, Shane (his ahoge must be the giveaway). She will deduct Kane’s pay for his missing days and make Shane pay the penalty for being onboard Bentenmaru unauthorized. She’ll bill it to Parabellum. Misa wants to know what was so important that he needed twin helmsmen to learn. Ironbeard replies pirate in this era are given 2 choices. To become true pirates or renew their Letter of Marque and remain pirates for hire. He saw the sparkle in Marika’s eyes and liked it. The pirates continue their meeting and part of the agenda has Marika appointing Coorie as the leader for electronic warfare. Yeah, her other counterparts really dig her. Bentenmaru has been repaired and upgraded enough for Kane to pull off crazy stunts. Then Marika reluctantly transmit the song to all pirates to hear. It was one that she and Chiaki recorded. Man, Chiaki sounded cute but now she must be regretting it. Embarrassing, no? How was she convinced to do it in the first place? Soon Marika transmit a challenge message to Quartz on their time and location of their next battle. She instantly replies with a nasty tone looking forward to the duel. Marika leads the other pirates to their battle with Grand Cross. She’ll show them the soul of a pirate.

Episode 26
Bentenmaru and the other pirate ships arrive at the battlefield. Seems there isn’t just one Grand Cross but three of them! And Quartz is singlehandedly controlling them all. Coorie begins her synchronized hacking with her other counterparts and she’s so damn good because she’s using her feet for additional hacking! Oh sh*t! All the pirate ships are well spread out so as not to come into friendly fire and to also see each other’s position. One of the Grand Cross beings its zigzag pattern and targets one of the pirate ships. However the pirate ships self destructs and it turns out to be an illusion trick. Grand Cross goes into recharge mode so all the other pirates use this chance to fire all they’ve got and destroy Grand Cross number 1. The second Grand Cross tries to escape the firepower using chaff. Its operations temporarily shut down so Barbarusa sticks a huge missile into it. Another one bites the dust. For the final Grand Cross that Quartz is on, Marika and some of the other pirates take her by surprise by boarding the ship. Kenjou asks Chiaki’s what she’ll do next. He loves this job and this fight is for his pride. He wonders if she will go with Marika. While the other pirates take on those useless android guards in Grand Cross, Marika, Hyakume and Schnitzer make their way to where Quartz is piloting the ship. She wants to continue her conversation about pirates being unneeded. She can’t say about the show they put on and sometimes get carried away. But she knows she is here. The captain of Bentenmaru, Marika Katou exists right now. If that’s not an answer, it’s okay because that wasn’t a question too.

Schnitzer is going to apprehend her but Quartz escapes in her pod. She warns them to get off since the ship will self-destruct. She also wants Marika to come to the vast sea because there is someone who desires that. The pirates leave Grand Cross as it self-destructs. Marika announces their successful failure. They failed to take over the ship but everyone did a good job and were victorious. Quartz notes she got the combat data she needed, destroyed the evidence but lost her pride. She hopes to meet Marika someday. Jenny and her crew board Odette II to take over the piloting by the Yacht Club up in the middle of their cruise. Jenny and Lynn have their moment together. Good thing they didn’t kiss. Once Lynn graduates, she’ll really come after her. Parabellum picks up the Yacht Club members so they can return to school and sit for their exam while Jenny assures she’ll guide Odette II back. It seems this was a job requested by Gruier. She thanks Ironbeard and recognizes him as Gonzaemon. So he’s not dead yet? Asking if he has met Marika, he replies he is just a space pirate named Ironbeard. Marika wants to continue her life as a high school girl pirate. That means she needs to get back and take the exams and pass them, right? Don’t worry, Marika aces them (despite waking up late on the important day). The Yacht Club members welcome Chiaki who will be joining them at Hakuou again. But Marika isn’t with them. Understandably, she’s in another one of those jobs with Bentenmaru.

There is No Business Like Piracy Business
I won’t say it was smooth sailing all the way for me. When this series first started, it was very tough on me because of all the terms and words put into the conversation. My Japanese isn’t that good and the worst part was even trying to read the English subtitles was as hard. Is my English that bad too? It’s not that the subs were bad either. Somehow I just couldn’t grasp and understand all the explanations no matter how many times I replay that scene, reread and reread that sentence over and over again. Hence watching the first half of this series felt like torture and everything moved ‘slowly’. Even the opening narration of each episode felt so philosophical and dramatic that it made me think that I was going to watch a serious documentary show or a Shakespeare play. Same case with the next episode preview. So when it comes to all that tactical explanations and such and even in the simplest forms, I’m lost. I’d be just staring at the screen with my eyes squint and my mouth big and wide open. It was a complete turn off listening to the words so I just ‘admire’ the battle scenes. They may not be the best space battles but at least they are enough to keep me occupied and a ‘salvation’ (or relief) in contrast to the conversation. What else more can you expect from a pirate ship? Shoot laser beams and missiles, that’s about it. You don’t expect it to transform into a robot and pull off some killer technique moves, don’t you?

Marika has grown to fit into her role as a pirate captain nicely. We see her make mature and better decisions with each passing job and mission. She truly lives up to her father’s legacy and is definitely going to surpass that at the rate things are going. Everyone is expecting great things from her and I’m pretty sure she will live up to that. I’m sure she would put Jack Sparrow and Captain Hook look like babies. Looks like life is going to get busier and more hectic now that she is in her third year of her high school and the president of the Yacht Club in addition to be Bentenmaru’s captain. Oh, let’s not forget the part time waitress job at Lamphouse. She’s got a lot on her plate but it looks like she’s capable of handling it all. Now that she has achieved her dream of going into space, will she expand that dream by going further? Space is vast so it will be an adventure of a lifetime to venture into other areas. Bravely going to where no high school girl pirate has one before. Speaking of Gonzaemon, now that it is revealed he is still alive at the end, was his death faked so that they could rope in Marika as the captain? Well, Ironbeard is the captain of Parabellum which is endorsed by the Galactic Empire. So I feel there’s more than meets the eye of what happened. Since Marika doesn’t really know her father, I doubt she would recognize him even if they meet with him unmasked. She couldn’t at the pirate nest, right?

No captain would be where he would be without his trusty crew. The main crew of Bentenmaru may be a colourful bunch but it is a shame that they aren’t really fleshed out more than we already know. I would certainly like to know about Schnitzer’s origins. I believe he is the only cyborg that I see in this series. Don’t other pirates have a cyborg like him too? Quartz’s mindless androids don’t count. Misa is strict with Marika initially, the way she acts and leaves the decisions to Marika in her early days as captain. She is somewhat like her mentor (what else is there for a physician to do especially when Bentenmaru goes into battle?) so it’s best to let the captain do some thinking instead of being spoon fed. Anyhow, just like the other crew, she is very supportive of Marika. Kane’s calm and friendly personality makes him easy to get along with as with the same case with Hyakume. Only difference is one is a hot handsome hunk and the other an old almost scruffy guy. Oops.  Sandaime is the most worrisome character. He’s always worried about his engines and because of the crazy stunts that Marika pull, he can’t help agonize that he’ll lose both his babies. He’s already so young and filled with such anxiety. He is also probably the only Bentenmaru crew that we know who has other hobbies other than work: Collecting plushies. Coorie may look like a typical computer geek and a very good one. So it was shocking when she had her ‘other’ beautiful self. It’s like so unbelievable. Believe me, those looks are real and not CG! The other odd thing about Coorie is that she likes eating snacks while at work. Maybe it helps her brains think. Her hands (and sometimes feet) are already full. Now her mouth is also full. Amazing, isn’t it? Finally there is the most mysterious of the crew, Luca. Always talking with a deadpan voice and seeing things that nobody is interested in (sometimes she too can’t see what it is that she saw. Confused?). But if you pay close attention, there are very rare moments that Luca displays small emotion like a little smile. It’s like a rare gem if you ever get to see this. Ririka as an ex-member of Bentenmaru is a strong willed lady and lets her daughter charts her own path in life. I wonder if she has finally decided to join Ironbeard seeing she is on his ship at the end.

Though Chiaki’s initial goal to stick around Marika was to see if she is worthy to become a pirate captain, I wonder why she continues to keep sticking around at certain points. It’s not like she admitted she is her friend but of course we know deep down inside she truly cares for her. Heck, sometimes I feel that when Chiaki starts reminding Marika about certain stuffs, I thought Chiaki was acting like her substitute mother! So eventually both of them forge some kind of friendship and it’s not clear if Chiaki would join Marika’s crew or stick around with daddy in Barbarusa. My guts tell me she might just do the former. If there is one thing about Chiaki, I thought she would have looked cuter if she smiled more often. I don’t know, maybe she was born with that ‘unfriendly’ face (I seem to get this expression each time I look at her). Despite being serious most of the time, Chiaki isn’t really a robot as we get to see glimpses of her face cheering up. Especially when it involves sweet desserts. She should put that expression up more often. Gruier and Grunhilde are both friendly princesses who are not interested in their royal position. Though Grunhilde is quieter than her sister, both do not like to be left out and love to help out whenever they can. To a point, Gruier would even encourage the use of underhanded tactics when needed. Who says princesses are always goody-two-shoes? However after their arc of the golden ghost ship closes, their roles became minimal and their role is just as good as the other members of the Yacht Club. I don’t know. I just felt they became insignificant. Gruier certainly looks very different when she dons her princess outfit and Hakuou’s uniform. While she truly looks like a princess in the former, I can’t help think that she somewhat resembles Sailormoon in the latter. Those blonde dumplings hairstyle… Do I see a resemblance? As for Grunhilde, I thought she was a boy because when she first appeared it, she was wearing a military coat. Then in her high school uniform, I thought she was Sailormoon’s sister…

As for the other minor characters, I guess they’re rather okay. Show is a flamboyant pacifist and as Bentenmaru’s insurance agent, he gladly handles and sets up jobs for them. I don’t think I need to comment on Jenny and Lynn. Perhaps this show needs some yuri after some pirating action. There are hardly any real villains in this series and the most I would only pinpoint Robert. Big powerful guys in big powerful corporations. Typical traits and setup for typical villains. Junigh is a wimp. Period. The Serenity fleets were just internal conflict while Quartz was just under orders from the Empire. Hmm… I don’t know much about the Galactic Empire but I smell that if they’re going to make another sequel or story, maybe there’ll be some conspiracy from the highest ruling body in the universe. You don’t really see other pirates fighting each other, don’t you? They may look tough but they aren’t cold bloodthirsty killers like we know. Speaking of the other pirate captains, it was amusing to see the bunch of them that made it to the pirate nest. Even their looks varied. From frail looking old men to one that looks like a monkey (he bends spoons with his mind power?) and to one that even looks like a ninja! WTF?! Ninja pirate? Well, there is no rule to say that pirates should all have beards, one hand for a hook, a wooden pegleg and a parrot on his shoulder. I would prefer very much Marika’s pirate outfit. Yeah. Pirate in a mini skirt. You can’t beat that!

When you think about it, pirates putting on a piracy show isn’t real piracy and just a show. Maybe they’ll do something about terrorism too? The real meaning of piracy is lost but I guess this can’t be help since you seriously don’t want a real pirate to ransack and hurt people. Even ordinary folks are not afraid of them but look forward in awe! Especially rich people. I didn’t know insurance companies are that rich to compensate their losses. So really. Pirates may just be another fancy name for entertainer-cum-odd-jobs. Besides, you don’t get the feel that the pirates here are powerful enough to take on the Galactic Empire themselves. If they unite like what they did against Grand Cross then they may stand a chance but how often do you see pirates work together? So it brings the question of who are the shady ones in the universe. The Galactic Empire and military aren’t 100% angelic so for things that need to be done without hurting their reputation or diplomatic ties, pirates are used as backdoor to get such things done. After all, pirates aren’t really bound by the so called laws but you don’t see them breaking any of them and they still pretty much stick within them. See how they follow the rules to get their Letter of Marque renewed? Thus pirates only have their own pride and freedom to follow. They are just like any other team that emphasizes on loyalty, trust, friendship and cooperation and may be much better than the so called righteous people up there in power.

The series divides itself into several mini arcs so in terms of the flow of the storyline it is not so ‘taxing’. It flows smoothly and seamlessly from one to another as it when an arc finishes, another one begins. But sometimes I just thought that there were so many potential, it would have been good to see some of the minor on-goings expanded or answer some of the questions that bugged me. Maybe it was because of the wordy conversations that tire me out so I wasn’t paying attention.  For instance, there were many stuffs I didn’t follow for the golden ghost ship arc. If the ship was drifting for a very, very, very long time, how can the last life on it be just born? Not only that, from what I understand all the royalties are born here so where does Gruier and Grunhilde come from then? Unless their genes and blueprint were taken from this ship if that is what they’re implied. But then again, that last baby… Because Bentenmaru is the focus of this series, we are only told in brief about the backgrounds of other characters. For example, I would be interested to know how Lynn turned out into a troubled hacker. One of my favourite segments is the quote of the episode that is right at the end of the episode. Spoken by one of the characters during that episode, it’s entertaining to read some of them since it probably sums up the important event for that episode. Like the first episode’s quote of “Whoever heard of a legal pirate?”. Some are amusing (“Breakfast beats worrying”, “The illegal skill faking attendance”, “Everything works out when you’re a pirate”, “Make out the receipt to Bentenmaru”, “Dad, I’ll kill you!”, that scribble on using the gravity for garbage is funny too), some gives you something to think about (“Everyone is just a dot in space”, “But you are not alone in space”, “There are times when trying harder isn’t enough”, “What do you think is most important”), some felt like orders (“Begin combat operations”, “Pursue them, beat them to it and take a piece of the action”, “Then let’s take them out”), some just statements (“The time has come!”, “My treat”, “I love chikuwa!” – okay, this one should go into the next category which is…) and some that makes you go WTF (“I don’t know yet”, “Pow! Pyan!”). Are you inspired just yet?

For the voice acting, for me the most surprising one has to be Yui Horie as Coorie. Because she wasn’t in her usual sweet girl role like Kotori in Da Capo or assertive part such as Masako in Mawaru Penguindrum, it was hard to recognize her in that nerdy voice at first. Once I got to know it was her, then it became clearer. I also couldn’t recognize Haruka Tomatsu as Gruier since the character she played really sounded like a sweet princess. It is definitely different from her usual spunky voice like Lala in To Love-Ru and Yuka in Natsuiro Kiseki. Kana Hanazawa wasn’t in her retard mode like how I used to hear her in Kobato or Mayo Chiki’s Kureha. She’s like Kamisama Doll’s Mahiru but instead with lots of angst, has more seriousness that sends warning waves that you won’t want to mess with her. Though she sometimes put up her rare cute side. Since Hisako Kanemoto didn’t go “~de geso” like Ika from Shinryaku! Ika Musume, I guess I couldn’t recognize her as Grunhilde here ;p. Other casts include Mikako Komatsu as Marika (Neko in K), Shizuka Itou as Misa (Haruka in Amagami SS), Masaya Matsukaze as Kane (Ren in Jigoku Shoujo), Kaoru Mizuhara as Luca (Misao in Lucky Star), Kenta Miyake as Schnitzer (Klaus in Hayate No Gotoku), Keiji Fujiwara as Hyakume (Sven in Black Cat), Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Sandaime (Narumi in Kamisama No Memo-chou), Rina Satou as Jenny (Misaka in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun), Youko Hikasa as Lynn (Mio in K-ON!), Chiaki Omigawa as Mami (Minko in Hanasaku Iroha), Hiroki Yasumoto as Show (Sado in Bleach), Yuko Kaida as Ririka (Ryomou in Ikkitousen), Rikiya Koyama as Ironbeard/Narrator (Kiritsugu in Fate/Zero) and Yuko Sanpei as Quartz (Hajime in Natsu No Arashi).

I’m sure the stunning and wild rock electric guitar play of the opening theme must have caught your attention. I found out that this guitar riff is provided by Megadeath’s guitarist, Marty Friedman. But it is the all-female idol group of Momoiro Clover Z that sings Mouretsu Uchuu Koukyoukyoku – Dai-Shichi Gakushou Mugen No Ai (phew. What a mouthful), which overall sounds like an orchestra symphony mixed with rock music. Really. They also sing the main ending theme entitled Lost Child. Feels a bit techno. There are also special ending themes like the one for the 13th episode, Toumei Na Yozora ~Shibataku Hoshi Ni Tsutsumarete~ is a slow-moderate pop ballad while the 16th episodes’ Black Holly plays to a faster beat. The final episode’s Mirai Funaji feels like a fitting happy anime song for a happy anime ending. All are sung by Mikako Komatsu but if you ask me, I don’t think her voice is suitable for singing because she sounds a little flat. Sometimes it also feels that the music overwhelms her voice that it doesn’t make her voice stand out and blended into the background with the music.

You can say that piracy have come a long way since the old days when crude pirates used to plunder and pillage villages, loot treasures and terrorize the sea. In the new age, this piracy business really does give a new name and meaning to the term piracy itself. Treasure is no longer a sturdy box but the vast openness of space. You can even hire them to do all sorts of jobs and when you need an army to rebel against the tyrant, who better than to call the pirates themselves, eh? Wow. They certainly can do everything. I hope. Need to fix a leak in the roof? Call the pirates. Need to find your lost cat? Call the pirates. Need that special delivery of a super rare delicious food from across the galaxy that you can’t wait to sink your teeth in? Call the pirates. There’s something strange in your neighbourhood and who are you going to call? Call the pirates. I need to download tons of animes and cool songs from Pirate Bay. Call the authorities! Boo hoo! Unfortunately that is indeed what is called digital piracy. But why do I get a feeling that pirated versions are better than the originals?

Shingetsutan Tsukihime

January 12, 2013

Due to the hilarious and nonsensical antics of Carnival Phantasm, this is one reason why I decided to check out Shingetsutan Tsukihime. I had lots of high hopes for this series despite me should have watched it immediately right after Carnival Phantasm but it is better late than never. Unfortunately, yes unfortunately, this series did not turn out to be what I expected. It was far than what I was hoping for. What was I hoping for? I had hoped that there would be some comedy elements in it but to my surprise there is literally none! NONE! NOTHING! Oh dear. So this is just a supernatural drama based on the visual novel erotic game of the same name. So did Carnival Phantasm mislead me? I have only got myself to blame. But there is no harm in watching another anime, right?

So the story centres around this high school kid, Shiki Tohno. He doesn’t remember much of his memories in his early life because of some traumatic accident and yeah, he has this vision power thingy. He sees other things that normal people couldn’t. Don’t worry, he doesn’t see ghosts or spirits. With the death of the family head, he returns to live with his sister and soon ends up getting involved in finding out more about the deep secrets his family hold and the secret of his own past. Oh, did I mention about meeting a vampire too?

Episode 1
When Shiki was young and hospitalized, he could see strange lines drawn everywhere but nobody believed him. Then he meets a woman named Aoko Aozaki who claims she is a sorceress. In present time, Arcueid Brunestud claims her neck victim by sucking her blood from her neck. Elsewhere Shiki prepares to pack his stuff and leave the Arima family whom he has been living with for a long time. At school, he discusses with his friends Arihiko Inui and Satsuki Yumizuka about the serial killings that is happening in Misaki City recently. All the victims have fang marks on their neck. Work of vampires? Ciel sees Shiki coming out from the school’s office and knows he has submitted his change of address. Apparently he didn’t remember about telling her himself so she thought he might have forgotten about her too. Thankfully no. They both have lunch together as we learn Shiki is returning to Akiha, his sister’s mansion after the death of his father. Though he is the eldest son, it is his sister who will continue the family. Due to a traffic accident 8 years ago, he cannot remember much due to the shock and has been living in a relative’s house as his father wished. With the serial killings still a hot topic in the news, Shiki wonders what kind of person this killer may be. Ciel says it might be just an ordinary person that blends in society standing next to you. Was that a joke? Shiki doesn’t feel good in class so he gets permission to leave early. He remembers when Aoko gave him a pair of glasses and he couldn’t see those lines anymore. She says his eyes have a special power given only to him. When the time comes to protect somebody he wants, he’ll need it. As Shiki walks along, Arcueid passes in front of him. His heart starts pounding faster and before he knows it. The park is bloodied. There is a bloodied knife in his hand. She’s dead. Man, that’s a huge pool of blood. Now it’s his turn to collapse.

When he wakes up, he finds himself in himself in his room at Akiha’s mansion. Since he was late, she sent her servant Kohaku to pick him up. However she says there was no one else in the park besides him unconscious. Hmm… He thinks back and remembers how he took out his knife to stab Arcueid many times. He was like a cold blooded killer. Looking at his knife, it looks clean. His uniform is clean. Was it a dream? Later during dinner, Akiha chides him for not having proper manners. As long as he is to live under her roof, he shall abide by the rules of the house. Gee, you don’t expect a new guy to just know everything right away even if he’s your brother, right? Hisui becomes Shiki’s personal servant as he learns there are no televisions in this house because Akiha hates those noisy idiot boxes. He thinks of going out to get some stuff but she says it is already curfew. 7pm curfew. 8pm all gates are locked. 10pm don’t even think about going outside your room. What kind of boring life is this? A young boy like him won’t stick to that curfew so he sneaks out to the convenience store to buy some magazines. On the way back, a guy suddenly drops dead on him. He’s got fang marks on his neck too. Suddenly Shiki is being attacked by Wolverine! Oh wait. Isn’t that Ciel? She flees and Shiki passes out. When he wakes up, it is already morning and he is in his own bed. Then he tries to look for the newspaper but couldn’t find anything relating to the murder. He tries to convince Akiha there a murder had taken place before his eyes. But when Hisui shows the magazines he bought, Akiha thought he is trying to tell her he hates this house. Shiki leaves for school and takes a detour to the park. To his surprise, he sees Arcueid sitting on the swing waiting for him. So she’s for real. And she’s not dead.

Episode 2
Does he remember who she is? Maybe this will jog his memory. Arcueid describes every part he dismembered her. Yeah, he cut her up into 17 pieces!!! You can’t blame the kid for freaking out. So he runs away to school. The rest of the day he’s just acting strange, spacing out. So much so he’s just jumpy when Arihiko or the teacher calls him. He sure doesn’t look okay. During recess, when Ciel joins them for lunch, Shiki asks if she likes to cosplay. She is surprised by his question and denies. I guess he must be dreaming then. At the end of school, Satsuki walks home with him. She remembers during a winter in her second year, she was trapped in the sports shed. She shouted for help and somebody opened the door. She couldn’t see who he was but thinks he was Shiki. Or at least someone who looks like him. By the way, the padlock to the shed was split broken in half. Shiki couldn’t remember it. What she’s trying to say is that if she’s in trouble, she believes he’ll come to her rescue. Well, Shiki himself isn’t so confident about being that reliable. Once Shiki arrives at the gate of his mansion, he is shocked to see Arcueid standing there. Seems she has used up quite a considerable amount of magic to find him. Looks like he doesn’t want to stick around so he makes a run for it. Unfortunately he ran himself into a corner. More precisely, a dead end. Arcueid is cool. Shiki is panicking. I’m sure she could’ve explained more about being revived and that she is not human if not for a pair of demon dogs attacking her. She uses her powers to kill them and this weakens her state (she is still injured from Shiki’s kill). Noting that the enemy has known her location, they need to head somewhere safe. Kohaku thinks Shiki is late but Hisui points she saw him 2 hours ago at the gates and left with a woman.

Shiki and Arcueid take refuge in a hotel. She explains that she is a vampire (an easier term for us to remember I guess). He can’t believe she’s a vampire. He can’t believe he killed her. Will denying do him any good? So how do you explain her standing right in front of his eyes after being killed by him? That’s why he still denies killing her. Still, she blames him for hurting her and it will be dangerous if she is attacked now. By who? Vampires. Crap. Mentioning about the serial killings, it is the work of the subject she is looking for. She wants him to be his shield. Shiki doesn’t want to get involved in a fight since he is just a high school student. Well, I’m sure he’s just a normal high school student who killed a vampire, eh? However she shuts him up saying he has no right to refuse. What a way to put the blame on him. Because of him, she’s weak. When night falls, Arcueid senses the enemy approaching. They need to get out of here because it is ‘feeding time’. As they make their way out via the stairways, a demon dog bites Shiki’s leg. Arcueid uses her strength to hold it down to let him escape. So much about being her shield. Shiki almost throw up when he sees the bloodied elevator with corpses. You could say the entire hotel became a slaughter house for Nero Chaos and his familiars of beasts coming out from his host body. Nero identifies Arcueid as the princess of Shinso (True Ancestor). He lets loose a beast on Shiki but Arcueid shields him. Who’s the shield again? They both escape via elevator and Shiki stabs Nero’s hands multiple times to chop it off. Despite that, Nero’s hand reattaches. Outside, Shiki wonders if they can win against him. Not at her current condition. So looks like Shiki has to get involved and fight too because now that Nero has seen his face, he won’t leave him alone. No use trying to stay out now. He never had that right anyway.

Episode 3
It’s morning and Shiki finds himself in Arcueid’s room. Don’t worry. Nothing happened. Except he collapsed last night and she brought him here. As for Nero, he won’t be moving so freely in daylight. Shiki asks why he saved her. Simple. She needs his help for a few things. Define ‘a few’. Shiki remembers his time with Aoko. He told her about the lines he sees. Whenever he cuts them, the objects break apart. He demonstrates to her and not only the poor beetle got sliced but the entire tree! Aoko slapped him for doing something unnecessary. She wants him to not take off these glasses until the time comes because his eyes make him obstruct the meaning of life. The news on TV reports the incident at the hotel whereby over 200 staffs and guests are missing. Despite blood and animal fur everywhere, their bodies are missing. Then they begin to list the names of the missing people (I wonder how long they’ll take if they mention every name) and among them is Satsuki. Shiki remembers she told him it was her birthday yesterday and her parents took her out to the hotel restaurant as her birthday treat. So how now? Is he sad? Is he mad? Is he going to turn bad? How can you be her saviour now that she is dead? Now that a friend has become a victim, it made him realize he has been running away all this time. Yeah, if he had only knew. Too late pal. Since he is involved, he wants Arcueid to explain. He at least has this right. The vampire world is divided into Shinso and Shito (Turned). Shinso already exists in nature but Shito are humans that have their blood taken away by Shinso. Though Shinso don’t necessary need human’s blood, some enjoy a taste for it. So that’s how Shito was born and since it’s Shinso’s fault to begin with, that’s why Arcueid has been trying to get rid of them.

Now it’s her turn to ask why he killed her. Explaining to her about the lines, he also gives a demonstration on the chair. She explains it as Demon Eyes of Direct Death. When something is born, its death is already decided. Shiki can see that so you can say he has the eyes of death. Arihiko calls Shiki’s house to find out about Shiki since he didn’t turn up in school but Akiha picks up. When he also learns he didn’t come back, he makes up a blatant excuse Shiki was staying at his place yesterday and thought he went home. That night at the park, Arcueid’s plan is to be the bait to draw Nero out so that Shiki can cut him down. The plan works as Nero confronts her. He feels confused because he doesn’t feel her power. Either the Church got her or his power overwhelmed her. It doesn’t matter since it’ll be easy to kill her. Shiki thought he could ambush him from the back but he lets loose his beasts to keep him company. He mocks her for stopping this low to have a human save her. Although Arcueid is weakened, she still has enough power to fight back and chops off his arm. But that arm turns into a snake and constricts Arcueid. Shiki has disposed the beasts and aims for Nero but he easily blocks it. I don’t know why he suddenly lost his cool when Shiki pointed his blade at him but before he knows it, he starts breaking up into pieces. Arcueid has gotten herself out of her slippery situation and points out Nero was too confident that led to his downfall. She reveals Shiki was the one who killed her. So now do you believe you have been killed by a mere human? Just a high school student, that is. Shiki tires out so as reward, Arcueid kisses his eye. That’s it?!

Episode 4
When Shiki gets back to the front gates of his mansion, he collapses. Hisui brings him in. Next morning, he thanks her for doing a good job on the bandages but she says it was her older twin sister Kohaku who did them. Then having breakfast with Akiha, she tries to ask him about his whereabouts last night but he can’t say. So is it true what Hisui saw? Him leaving with a woman? Well, I’m not sure if they would rather believe he was out for a one night stand or fighting vampires. Trying to confirm if he was at Arihiko’s place, Shiki says he wasn’t. Funny, isn’t it? Because Arihiko said he was. Some good friend he has there. She wants him to stop making not only her but Kohaku and Hisui worried as well. Kohaku breaks up the tension by suggesting a homecoming welcome party for Shiki since he has reflected greatly on his actions. Shiki returns to school, thinking everything is over. After being greeted by Arihiko, he is shocked to see Satsuki in class. How is she still alive? Apparently on her birthday she caught a cold and didn’t manage to turn up at the hotel. Phew. Sometimes being sick is a blessing in disguise. With everyone safe and sound, Arihiko teases Shiki that he maybe was out flirting with a woman. Since Shiki is acting strange, they think they must’ve hit the spot. His denying even seems more suspicious? So how? Run away!

Shiki is back home celebrating his party with the rest. Akiha points out Hisui was the one whom he often played with when they were young. Shiki seems to gradually remember those times but thinks there was another boy among them. However the girls don’t remember and think he might have mistaken them for a guest as their family used to have lots of them over. When Shiki goes get a drink, he learns from Kohaku how worried Akiha was last night that she didn’t sleep. The siblings then chat for a little while. He apologizes for not contacting her for 8 years and felt sorry for uncle and aunty Arima. He also felt alienated from his father but was always worried about her and thought she would suddenly become alone. But since she has become the head of the family, he notes she has become strong. And pretty too. Maybe he should get some rest before the night wind weakens his body. Dead in the middle of the night, Shiki is surprised to see Arcueid sneaked into his room. She’s on top of him! She’s here because she says he wants her? Really? He doesn’t remember. Then she hugs him. Because she wants his blood! Thankfully that was just a dream. Or is it? Hopefully it stays that way. Next day during recess when Shiki sees the news that some bodies from the hotel incident is found, he gets restless and heads back to class. He sees his classmates gathering at the window. They are fascinated with that foreign beauty who wandered into their school grounds. Hey! Isn’t that Arcueid. Furthermore, she waves to Shiki and calls out his name! Wow. What would his friends think?

Episode 5
Before some other guy could ask her out on a date (because Arcueid is really going to be that friendly), Shiki takes her away to clarify things. Why is she in school? Can’t she? How will he explain to his friends? Just tell the truth? What? Will they believe all the vampire fighting stuff? Arcueid thinks he is suspecting her since the murders haven’t let up yet. So is Nero still alive? Arcueid reminds him she hates blood and does Nero look like one who loves blood? Sure, there may be bloodied corpses he leaves behind but he sure didn’t drink them dry, right? So who is he? Just a murderer and the person she is looking for is not him. If she had only said this. If he had only asked. Knowing she wants his help to search for her target, he agrees to meet her at the park tonight. Oh, Ciel saw them too. Now the hard part is to leave the mansion past curfew time. Hisui notices him leaving and wonders if he has an important appointment. Since it’s a yes, she gives him keys to the mansion’s doors. Why? He is her master after all. After meeting Arcueid at the park, she explains about her target named Roa. This guy is somewhat eternal and no longer attached to physical flesh, which serves as a container for his reincarnation. He has already reincarnated 18 times by replacing those containers. So right now she doesn’t know how he looks like but knows he is in this town. Then a strange acting guy stumbles upon them and she wants Shiki to look at him. He takes off his glasses and is shocked to see him with deep cracks on the verge of breaking apart. Arcueid chases him to a corner and uses her power to vanish him. As explained, these people are Shisha, humans whose blood was taken by Roa and serve as his agents to supply Roa with blood they take via their vampire activities. If they continue to hunt Shisha like this, he’ll definitely react. Later she asks why he wanted to help her. Though he still doesn’t want to get involve, he felt painful when a friend got involved. She thinks he may be able to defeat Roa but he’s not confident. She feels he is underestimating himself.

In school, Ciel invites Shiki to talk at her tea club (she is the only member). She wants him to stay away from Arcueid because she is dangerous and selfish. The kind that will fight and drag somebody to hell in the end. So she knows her? Not really. Huh? Must be ‘the other’ woman reason, eh? At the park that night, Shiki saw some guy running away and thinks something happened. Turns out he was trying to flirt with Arcueid and got more than he bargained for when she thought he was the enemy. Yeah, maybe she’s dangerous. The next few scenes feel like Shiki and Arcueid going on a night date rather than searching. That’s because every guy is turning their head and eyes towards Arcueid. She’s a real looker, isn’t she? Haven’t they seen a beautiful babe before? Or is it so odd for an ordinary bespectacled high school kid to be walking with such a beauty? The hit the video arcade and the movies before having a drink at the diner. When Arcueid is going to treat him, Shiki immediately pays for the bill and brings her out from the place. That’s because she was going to pay will illegal money! For somebody to have lived for 800 years, you think she would’ve known at least how human society works. But Shiki is concerned that she shouldn’t be standing out like this since they are looking for Roa. Arcueid notices a scratch on Shiki’s arm that he must have got when they were running away. Suddenly she can’t hold back her instincts. Feel like sucking it? Fortunately she manages to hold herself back and calls it a night and leaves. Along the way, she dodges Ciel’s weapon attack. Despite their goal is the same, Ciel feels Arcueid is a danger to Shiki. She also knows she is at her limit and sooner or later will give in to her instincts. Well, she held it back for 800 years, didn’t she? This attack is just a warning and the next time if something happens to Shiki, she is going to pass her judgment.

Episode 6
I guess those late nights must be making Shiki tired, eh? Akiha thought he should make priority in taking care of his body rather than going to school. If not, he can try getting up early or hire a tutor. But she is glad that has got used to this house’s lifestyle. Really? His face doesn’t seem to indicate it. In school, he heard rumours that a group of boys from a certain class are missing. Did they run away or became victims of vampire. Not funny. Shiki’s friends want to meet up at the amusement park but Shiki doesn’t look like he can make it. They think it’s his ‘girlfriend’ so this made Ciel to tell him off at the top of her voice to stay away from that woman. It makes her sound so jealous. Later Arihiko tells him he is so dense that it’s a crime. About what? It’s his fault that the atmosphere between Satsuki and Ciel feels odd lately. What? There he goes… Really. What about? He does it again… Later talking with Arcueid, learning that Shiki has a sister and wanting to go meet her (and do all those fun stuffs like they did the night before), Shiki tells her off he is not with her for entertainment. Back home, Akiha heard from Hisui he wanted a TV and could arrange one. She may not like those noisy boxes but is willing to compromise. That night, Akiha asks Hisui about Shiki but was told he is in his room sleeping. But when she knocks on his door, there is no answer and she enters to see no sign of her brother. Oh, the window is wide open. Well, well. Shiki goes to meet Arcueid at the park and since it’s way past their meeting time, he thinks she got mad and left. Thinking she may have gone on a date, he goes find her. He did find her. She is seen receiving money for a job she had done. A modelling job. That’s about it. Nothing fishy. She’s working because she wants money to treat him. But Shiki has a thing or two to say about her working and even that modelling job. What? Oh, now he cares about her? Is he her mother to nag her?

Suddenly she feels the presence of Shishas. They turn out to be the missing boys from Shiki’s school. Chasing them to a car park, Arcueid handles a couple of them. Shiki goes after the last one and as he is about to cut him, the Shisha puts up an innocent face claiming to be his friend. Shiki hesitated for the moment but Arcueid tells him not to get distracted because he is already dead. The Shisha lunges at him but Shiki stabs him before he got his neck bitten. After that, he felt a little sick so Arcueid goes to get some medication to make him feel better. I think she just bought half the shop. Walking back, Arcueid says he doesn’t have to do this anymore but is going to since he has decided to help her as her wounds haven’t healed yet. All the more he can’t leave her alone. Then they both go up a building and I’m not sure why Arcueid has Shiki point out to her certain buildings. Doesn’t she know what a train station or park looks like? Arcueid assures him she doesn’t have funny thoughts when she asks the direction of his school and home. Shiki wants to know more about Arcueid. Like how long she’s been around. 800 years. That’s what you call staying alive. She then suggests they should go on a date. Say what? She wants to try dating. Living for 800 years, she hasn’t tried that? Wasn’t there a decent guy around?

Episode 7
It isn’t that Akiha likes amusement parks but she is tagging along because she’s worried that if she takes her eyes off him, he’d do something funny. Not trusting him, eh? Yeah, when he got back last night, Akiha was waiting for him at the door like how a wife waits for her suspicious husband. Since Shiki can’t reveal the details of his night activity, she won’t ask further but will install a security camera at the gates in case this kind of thing happens in the future. Was that going too far? Well, does she need a reason to be worried about her brother? So the siblings meet up with Shiki’s friends who are waiting for him. I guess Arihiko changed into a gentleman after learning this beautiful girl is his sister. After Shiki introduces them, Akiha ignores Ciel. She is straight to say that she can’t get along with her! Call her rude but at least she’s honest. So why can’t she get along? Some woman instinct thingy I guess. Ciel doesn’t mind since she can ‘hold it in’. I don’t think that’s a good sign too. So it’s true. It’s awkward between Akiha and Ciel that you could feel World War 3 might explode any time. Shiki is glad Arcueid isn’t here and how complicated it would get. He remembers turning her down her request to date since he already had appointments. Suddenly there Arcueid is at the amusement park waving at him! Oh God! This is going to get complicated. Why is she here? She went to Arihiko’s house last night and he told him about it. Akiha asks about their relationship and Arcueid puts it as ‘always borrowing him’. Another woman she can’t get along. She’s going to have a long talk with Shiki after this. Oh boy. You’re so screwed. Ciel thought she had warned her but Arcueid doesn’t take orders from her. I think Shiki is in serious need of stamina training because after one roller coaster ride, he’s already tired. And I don’t think the ride was that scary. Next, they ride the Ferris wheel and they use rock-scissors-paper to decide the seating order. Call it fate or luck because the girl who ends up with our lucky guy is Akiha. Ciel and Arcueid got grouped together and you can deduce the rest. In the carriage, Akiha wonders if he is trying to get away from his nagging sister. He assures he doesn’t hate her and still can’t reveal the details. Fine. But at least she wants him to grant her a wish. To stay away from Arcueid. Man, that’s going to be tough. Arihiko wonders if Satsuki is okay because he knows she likes Shiki. What can she do? Does she stand a chance among the ‘competition’?

During the lunch break, Akiha sparks off the argument among the girls when she tells Arcueid not to follow Shiki anymore. I guess Arihiko tries to change the subject about the good food but nobody is listening to this side character. Yeah, Shiki is having a headache. This is much worse than hunting vampires at night. I don’t know what the girls are arguing. Maybe about everything. And all of them are related to Shiki. Finally the girl who has been keeping quiet all the while, Satsuki puts her foot down that they are inconveniencing Shiki. I mean, they’re here to have fun, right? Arihiko suggests going to the hotspring where they can have naked fun together. He’s just kidding about that last bit, right? Arcueid and Satsuki talk in the hotspring. The former asks if she likes Shiki but Satsuki says he only sees her as his friend. Arcueid begs to differ because she thinks he sees something special in her. I thought he sees everybody that way? Arcueid dismisses Shiki as her boyfriend because she doesn’t think that is his intentions. Despite she is prettier and all, it doesn’t matter because she’s not human. Haha. I think Satsuki thinks she’s joking. So for Ciel and Akiha who didn’t want to get naked, sat outside waiting for the rest to finish. How can they sit together without talking? Erm… Maybe it’s better they don’t. But Ciel starts to ask about Shiki’s accident 8 years ago that left him unable to remember due to the shock. She thinks this is convenient for Akiha as her family holds some secret. Akiha denies but Ciel finds it odd because as she sniffs her hand, she notes she smell different than a human. Akiha feels offended and ends the conversation as she decides to head home first. Lastly, another murder has happened at the amusement park. How did that lady get teeth marks on her neck in that Ferris wheel if the door was closed? Was she alone? If so, didn’t anybody see something strange flying into the carriage?

Episode 8
The friends are surprised that such a murder took place so close to where they were. But what concerns them more is Akiha’s sudden departure for home. Shiki suspects Ciel might have said something but she doesn’t know. That’s because she’s been acting strange ever since. Back home, Akiha suddenly collapses and rings panic bells to Shiki and Kohaku. Shiki stays by her side as requested. Akiha didn’t want a doctor called because she knows her body better and will heal in time. Otherwise she will hate him. Shiki wonders why the sudden collapse because Akiha seemed fine all the while. Kohaku thinks it’s a mental thing. This happens often when she feels uneasy. Don’t worry, Shiki isn’t the cause that made her a worrywart. When Akiha wakes up, she is glad Shiki is by her side. She mentions she dreamt about the time she caught a cold when she was young. It felt like she returned to that time for a moment. On his way to school, Shiki meets Arcueid. There is no progress in her search and due to Akiha not feeling well, he can’t go out with her for a while. Hey. Arcueid pouting? Is she jealous he is giving more attention to Akiha than her? In school, Shiki talks to Ciel and wants to know what kind of person she is. No, it’s not that he is interested in her. Without giving away too much, Ciel says everyone has a secret or two. She enjoyed her happy times with everyone and wished it would last forever. Whatever happens, she’ll be by his side. Huh? Did Shiki get all that? Then when he comes home, I’m not sure why he didn’t knock on Akiha’s door. He opens and sees the, most shocking thing he has ever seen. Akiha is sucking on Kohaku’s breast! No, wait. She’s sucking her blood. From her boobs? Now it’s his turn to act strange and spacing out. When he talks to Kohaku about seeing her in Akiha’s room, she denies and thinks it must be his imagination since she was out doing errands. Then talking to Arcueid to confirm if Roa is a male, she can’t really tell though he was originally male. But there are similar traits his host shares. For example he takes one whose blood has something different and inhuman.

Shiki ventures into his late father’s room to check out some of his books but is spotted by Kohaku. He feels this house isn’t normal because the book he is holding has words that read everyone will die quickly and no one have died normally. Kohaku thinks it’s coincidence. Yeah, odd coincidence. So I guess the only person left to ask is Hisui. He wants to know if everyone is hiding something from him. The things that he had forgotten from his past. Conveniently Akiha’s violin string breaks so Shiki rushes to her room instead of waiting to get his question answered. Will it anyway? But he sees her running into the woods and follows her. At the garden house, he can’t believe seeing her hair glowing in red beneath the full moon. And another good timing with Arcueid coming by to say Roa has appeared. By the time they reach the scene, the presence has already disappeared. Or rather being masked. Arcueid asks if Shiki and Akiha are the only family members. Since he insists, she feels something odd. However she decides to leave him hanging and call it a day. So ask a question and leave him wanting for more answers. Isn’t that unfair? As Shiki walks home, he spots a strange guy at the vending machine. So strange that all the lights around him goes out. Okay, maybe the right word is dangerous because that guy starts attacking him. Shiki defends himself and from the way he tries to cut him with his knife, Shiki realizes this guy can see those lines too. He cuts Shiki’s old wound and sends him writhing in pain. He wants him to remember the meaning of that wound. However he got struck by Ciel’s weapon before bursting into flames. Now with Akiha coming to her brother’s aid, I don’t think I’ve heard her sound this concerned about Shiki before.

Episode 9
Now it’s Akiha’s turn to sit by him as Shiki moves uneasily in bed. He dreams of himself deep in a forest with someone calling his name. There are bodies everywhere and when a blood drops on his eye, he goes crazy and starts slicing. When he wakes up, he tells Akiha about his midnight crusade with Arcueid to hunt down the serial murderer. He’s doing it because he is different from other humans. It’s because he is part of the Tohno family. Next morning, Akiha has left early for school so Shiki confronts Kohaku. He shows him the wound on his chest healed. It’s not the kind of wound that will heal in a day or is her treatment that good. He wants answers. He feels there is something wrong with this house. Like there is some secret to it as if something happened that nobody should know and everyone avoid talking about it. Mentioning he really did saw her in Akiha’s room, Kohaku tells him in every generation the head of the Tohno family inherit blood of those who are not human. Since Akiha is the head, she can’t suppress the blood herself. She doesn’t know what will happen if she can’t but only Akiha knows how painful that is. Shiki doesn’t buy her crap because she can say it with a smile. Plus, he can’t ignore something like that now. Later Hisui goes to see Shiki in his room. She gives indirect permission for him to snoop around since Kohaku is out doing errands and she herself is ‘busy’ doing other things.

Shiki goes to his father’s room and finds a key in his drawer. Which door will it open? Don’t know. Just try and insert in every keyhole he can find. So I guess the most suspicious room is the one that unlocks. Yeah, the one that leads to an eerie basement. To Shiki’s horror, he finds a mini cell and writings in blood crying for help. Then it’s like he remembers the past when he starts seeing vision of that other boy running out from his cell like a bird tasting true freedom. It leads him to the garden house whereby I think that boy tried to stab Akiha but Shiki stabbed him first. Akiha is crying by that kid’s side. So surreal that Shiki’s wound starts to open up again just remembering this incident. Soon, their father took out the knife from his chest and killed Shiki! When Shiki opened his eyes, he found himself in hospital and the doctor told him he was involved in a traffic accident that glasses pierced through his chest. With his memories finally intact, Shiki realizes how everyone had been lying to him. Only Arcueid had been telling the truth. So now does he understand her lines of him being a murderer who has already killed? Akiha’s ‘Shiki sensor’ must be working well so much so that she felt something strange had happened back home and rushed out in the middle of class. To her horror, she realized Shiki has discovered the underground cell. She finds him in shock and utter depression. Later Akiha slaps Hisui for letting Shiki go. Hisui’s reason for doing that was because she feels they couldn’t continue keeping it a secret. Though she knew it would be painful for Akiha, she felt only Shiki can save her. Shiki remembers Aoko telling him he will continue living with those eyes because there is something he has to do. That’s why he must be grateful for this miracle and should never stray. Shiki feels he has taken the wrong path ever since. Akiha too is at her limit.

Episode 10
Maybe Shiki is lazing around is his bed that Arcueid needs to give him a wakeup call about his promise to meet. Yeah, she waited all night for his no-show and is pretty pissed. Well, she doesn’t look angry. Noticing him down, she suggests they go out on a date. If he does, she’ll forgive him. That easy? So Shiki skips school just to accompany Arcueid in this so called date? Yeah, the vampire movie they watch must be so boring that Shiki yawned! Then at the aquarium, Arcueid asks a hypothetical question if she wasn’t a vampire what their relationship would be. Because she likes this a lot. The hypothetical stuff? At the diner, Shiki wants to know more about her. No, not that he is interested in her in that sort of way. So we learn she learns the world through knowledge. She wakes up, gathers all the knowledge she can, goes back to sleep when she’s done. So she wasn’t awake straight for these past 800 years, eh? Shiki thought he hurt her feelings when he sometimes thinks she’s not a vampire because she’s eating hamburger and the likes. She asserts she hates blood. Arcueid wants Shiki to bring her to a place where he wants to go. Of all places, his high school. This guy is real boring. Arcueid is thrilled since this is a place Shiki has lots of memories she doesn’t know. In his classroom, she wants to know what he does here. Duh. Study lah! But the next thing she says is worthy to think about. Why does he study things that are of no use since as a human, his time is limited? Yeah, why do we study chemistry if many of us don’t become chemist? Arcueid thinks she is broken. Because her excess emotions like happiness and pain have grown a lot. She has never felt this fun since waking up. Maybe she’s never been awake this long. Maybe this is just a dream. Maybe it’s because she’s with Shiki. I’ll stick with the last one. When Arcueid says the next time she opens her eyes, Shiki will be gone, that guy suggests something that all of us would never have thought will come out of his mouth. He wants to go on another date with her after everything is over. Do something useless without the burden of responsibilities with all their spirit. That’s a promise. He’s not feeling sick, isn’t he?

As Shiki brings her to the tea club room, just the mention of Ciel’s name, instantly Arcueid becomes mad. Wow. Talk about a sudden change in mood. Even if she’s a vampire, she’s still a woman. Arcueid explains Ciel is a dog of the Church. Shiki thought he knew her for a long time but that’s because she made him think that way. The reason is she thought Shiki is Roa’s reincarnation since he is from the Tohno family. Why is she interested in Roa? That’s because she was Roa’s previous reincarnation. She was his host before reaching her limit going on a massacre spree. That was when Arcueid killed her. But she’s alive, isn’t she? Well, she can’t die and she’s not a living thing either. Huh? To repent her sins, she continuously pursues Roa. Shiki brings up about that stranger who attacked him the other night. Ciel appeared and saved him. If that guy was Roa, Arcueid would have sensed him. He further describes the stranger covered with full of bandages and someone who probably knows him. Then the clock strikes 8 and what a convenient time for his wound to start acting up. Yeah, there are a bunch of Shishas attacking them too but Arcueid easily disposes them. Arcueid sees the blood over Shiki’s chest and starts feeling uneasy. She doesn’t want him to come close. He grabs her shoulder and this activates her instincts. Now she’s acting all strange. Before any harm could come to Shiki, Ciel’s sword drops in between them. So what now that Arcueid has shown her true nature as revealed by Ciel.

Episode 11
Ciel is about to pass judgment but Shiki protects Arcueid. Why? Because he believes her word that she hates blood. Or is it? Well, Arcueid doesn’t seem convincing with her body language. I guess that was all a lie, huh? Arcueid runs away. So as Ciel explain things, from what I understand, it is Shiki’s fault for turning Arcueid so. Ciel further enlightens Shiki about non-human beings known as residents of the Moon. Among them was a noble princess called White Princess. She was pure and the princess of the Shinso. One day there was a snake who offered her to drink from something to quench her thirst. But it proved to be extremely poisonous because the snake wanted the princess. That snake was Roa and soon the princess fell. Soon after she sealed herself and lived only on penance. The past 800 years she has pursued Roa’s shadows, waking from her sleep. A repeated cycle of execution and returning to sleep without a connection to anyone. Doing her job just like a machine. Shiki rushes off to find her but at the bridge sees the guy with bandages. Akiha confronts him. She wants to settle things but is no match. From the way this guy says things, Shiki realizes he is the other boy whom they played together. I’m sure you must’ve guesses it too. It’s revealed that Akiha was the one who released him from that underground prison but because of that something happened to her father. He dismisses it was against his will and was under somebody’s command to kill. He is about to go in for the kill but is pierced by Ciel’s weapon. She identifies him as Roa. He is not pleased that she tried to kill him since she was also him in the past. Repenting her sins, says she? Anyhow he kills her. He decides to let everyone live a bit longer and flees. Ciel’s blood absorbs back into her body and revives. She says this is her true form.

Back home, Akiha apologizes for hiding the truth from him. She also knew everything from the start and didn’t tell him because she wanted him by her side. She gives him her father’s diary that contains the truth. Father and his group commenced an attack on the Nanaya family deep in the forest till they were completely destroyed. However there was a kid who was the only sole survivor. He is Shiki and because he peculiarly shared the same name with his son, he adopted him into his family. The Nanaya family expels demons so to suppress the Tohno blood, their existence was useful. One day, disaster befell on his own son as he tried to kill Akiha. However it was the adopted Shiki who got killed. The original son went mad so father had to punish him. Though he stabbed him, he could not kill him and locked him in the underground cell. Akiha gave part of her life to adopted Shiki and both Shikis trade places. Shiki goes out to look for Arcueid and finds her in her room. I don’t really care much about the drama they’re talking. I’m sure it’s about apologizing and trying to make amends. But what I remember was Shiki hugging her, then she hugs back and it leads them to something steamy in bed. Gosh. What happens when a human makes love to a vampire? By the time Shiki wakes up, he finds a goodbye note from Arcueid. Maybe he’s bad in bed because there were no other words to express how good it was… Haha! Just kidding! I hope sex wasn’t a parting gift…

Episode 12
Shiki goes to find Arcueid but she is not at her usual waiting place at the park. Only Ciel. She mentions he is only going to his death. But will he listen? After that great se-, oops, I mean suddenly knowing the loneliness she felt he still wants to be by her side. Church reinforcements will arrive in a few days. Can’t wait that long. Seeing his determination, Ciel agrees to tell him where she is now. She is at his school fighting Roa. Ciel cautions that Roa has obtained powers equivalent to Arcueid so she has no chance of winning. Those who become Roa’s host body cannot suppress the hatred that swells in them. She knows it better because she went through all that. Reaching the school gates, they split up. Shiki arrives on scene first and doesn’t want Arcueid to do anything reckless. Do you consider freezing him as one? Though Arcueid slices Roa’s body into several parts, it regenerates. Like putting back a puzzle. I thought she should see this coming so why is she so shocked? Now it’s Roa’s turn for payback. He slices her till she’s covered in her own blood. Shiki freed from his paralysis wants her to drink his blood but she refuses. Whatever reasons he throws at her be it the promise, it wasn’t enough to convince her because she breaths her last breathe. Putting her body aside, Shiki is now one mad kid and Roa still the crazy bastard. The guys face off but clearly Roa is much better and corners Shiki. However he got distracted by Ciel’s weapon and this gives enough time to Shiki to stab the ground. The walkway crumbles. When Roa gets out from the rubble, Shiki ambushes him from the back at knifepoint. He is going to liberate him and with Ciel’s help, thrusts the knife into him. Ciel wants to take the ‘credit’ for killing him because no matter reasons Shiki has, the act of severing a life is a sin.

Back home after Shiki tells Akiha the matter has been settled, she cries her heart out. Then at the usual tree, Shiki finally sees Aoko once more. When asked if he was able to protect the one he loved, he was unsure. After getting to know her name, he always felt she was like a teacher to him for teaching important things. Before she leaves, she tells him there is no reason for him to come back here again. Life returns to normal for Shiki. He attends classes and wonders what happened to Ciel. She is no longer around. In fact his friends do not recall such a person. Satsuki sees Shiki. Guess what she wants to say? And when you see her running away in tears, I guess you already know what he answered. Shiki is sitting alone by himself in the classroom when to his surprise sees Arcueid. Though he still remembers the promise, she wants him to forget about her. In fact, he doesn’t need to apologize he couldn’t keep the promise because he already did. Maybe his company was fun all the while. Including that se-, oops. Shiki doesn’t want it to end and confesses he loves her but good things have to come to an end I guess. She waves goodbye and disappears. I hope that wasn’t just his hallucination. Though saddened, he hopes that the next time when everything is over, they should go on a date together, do useless things with all their spirit, without purpose or obligation. The question is how long will the next time be.

Vampire Sucks…
Oh well, so this is how it ends? I can’t say I am satisfied but because of the overall gloomy feel of the series, it just didn’t make my day. Seriously. There were many things that I didn’t comprehend so much so I thought you needed to play the game in order to understand the full aspect of other things and the entire story as a whole. Of course I didn’t play the game so I went to trusty ol’ Wikipedia to get some answers. For example, the reason why Shiki wanted to kill Arcueid when he first met her was because of his Nanaya blood that flows deep within him. As revealed, this original family of his exterminates demons so it is natural that his instincts would react in wanting to kill Arcueid. Hah. He so easily killed an 800 year old vampire in broad daylight. Unless I wasn’t paying attention, this reason wasn’t spelt out in the anime. Another example is Arcueid’s appearance at the end. As I found out, this is one of her endings in the game and because of Roa’s death, Arcueid regained the power Roa took from her, Since she could not hold back her instincts, she decides to go back to sleep (hence the disappearing). Roa was also the one responsible for the killings in Misaki City. It got me wondering who this Nero guy is too. If he was just a murderer, why was he searching for Arcueid in the first place? Then he died so fast and I can only conclude that the reason of his appearance was so that to make Shiki to join Arcueid in the hunt. Otherwise, he’d be still giving that lame excuse of being just a high school kid. There are probably more questions that boggled my mind like who the hell is Aoko or what non-human creature Akiha is (what kind of creature has your hair glow red?), the entire Shinso and Shito business, but to prevent myself from falling into comatose state for all those confusing questions (simply because I didn’t play the game to understand it better), I’d better let it slide for my own safety and health. That hazardous, huh?

The entire series is one big gloomy affair. As mentioned there were no funny or comical parts. Even if there were seemingly a handful, they felt quite lame. For instance when Arihiko guessed right Shiki was out flirting with woman, the way Shiki reacted was considerably lame that it looked funny. And I don’t think that scene was meant to be funny either. Another big grouse that I had was the stiff and wooden action from the characters. I thought this was only a trait of certain characters but I soon realized that this is how the characters move. In a way, they felt unconvincing, no impact and emotionless. For example, when Akiha or Arcueid start pouting, you know the kind of action where you just swing your ahead away from the eyesore in front of you? Let’s say it doesn’t feel convincing and at first I was wondering what was she doing in the first place. The action also felt lame and sometimes stiff. So much so I thought the people in this series shouldn’t really fight. Serious. Talking about recycled scenes, Ciel’s jump towards the moon felt like one each time she makes her exit from the scene. And it looked so lame that it looked funny. And I don’t think it was meant to be funny either.

In the midst of the supernatural drama and everything else, they try to put in some romance but you could have guessed from the tone of my blog that it won’t do quite well in this area too. You could say that outing at the amusement park is my ‘favourite’ because from the way the things were going, I thought they needed to put some cat fight over a single boy. Good and bad, the rivalry remained verbal. My guess is that this anime is an Arcueid route so we have Shiki ending up falling in love with her and only to lose her in the end. When they go hunting at night, it felt more like an outing than a serious hunt. Another point to ponder: If Roa is dead for good and unable to reincarnate any further, does this mean Arcueid isn’t going to wake up from her slumber anymore? I didn’t quite understand the explanation that Ciel was interested in Shiki because she thought he was going to be Roa’s reincarnation. If he was, don’t you think she would have killed him a long time ago? So my only guess is that she of course has feelings for him. Otherwise, why go to great lengths to exact her judgment on Arcueid over the slightest thing that she deems threatening to Shiki? So in the end, what exactly happened to her? Did she go back to her church since her mission of hunting down Roa is over? Satsuki got rejected but is she going to try again and not give up? I mean, half of the competition is gone at the end and unless Shiki suddenly has siscon, then the prospects look slightly better for Satsuki, right? Maybe Shiki isn’t so much into ordinary human girls…

Since this show is a year 2003 production, the drawing and art is of that era. As compared with Carnival Phantasm, the characters here obviously look quite different so much so it felt that Carnival Phantasm gave the characters of this series some update and uplift. I mean in that series, the characters looked better (obviously) and much cuter as compared to this original TV series. Because of that, that is the main reason why my expectations went downhill in hoping this to have some funny moments. Tsukihime characters are really serious and gloomy so there is no room for goofing around like how you see the characters were in Carnival Phantasm. They were really naughty, cheeky and definitely livelier. If only that multiple date nonsense was here… Perhaps I should have come to expect this because I did see Fate/Stay Night and knew how much different the parody was than the original series.

The voice acting too is rather okay and nothing outstanding. Kenichi Suzumura is the voice of Shiki (Sougou in Gintama, Kairi in Peach Girl) while Hitomi Nabatame does Arcueid (Nobue in Ichigo Mashimaro). Other casts include Fumiko Orikasa as Ciel (Rukia in Bleach), Shizuka Itou as Akiha (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Kana Ueda as Kohaku (Rin in Fate/Stay Night), Yumi Kakazu as Hisui (Mikaze in Stratos 4, Tsubasa in AKB0048), Hiroyuki Yoshino as Roa (Pete Pumps in Ginban Kaleidoscope), Kenta Miyake as Nero (Schnitzer in Mouretsu Pirates), Kaori Tanaka as Satsuki (Megumi in Yumeria), Takahiro Sakurai as Arihiko (Shito in Zombie Loan) and Akiko Kimura as Aoko (Kisaragi in Happy Lesson). The opening theme, The Sacred Moon by Toshiyuki Omori is an instrumental piece but it gives out an ominous feel with all those choir voices in the background. Rinne No Hateni by Fumiko Orikasa is the ending theme and is a slow and sad piece.

It makes me wonder when was the last time Arcueid was awake because as seen several times in this show she doesn’t know how modern society works. And I thought she would be smart enough to at least learn how to do so instead of asking or doing the obvious that makes her look dumb. Okay, maybe she knows but just that she wants the guy she’s interested to show her how. There’s more fun in that. And when she said she hates blood but finally giving in to her instincts, is she half lying? To say a vampire hates blood is like saying humans don’t need air to breathe. Well at least Arcueid doesn’t show other typical weaknesses of a vampire such as being weak in the sunlight (though she moves more freely at night) and especially the holy powers of the church. Hmmm… Maybe Ciel wasn’t wearing a cross or have holy water so we don’t know for sure. Since we didn’t see garlic either in this show, I can’t safely assume Arcueid is immune to it either. I can imagine how comical she would look like if those typical vampire weaknesses were prevalent.

It is said that everyone has a secret or two they want to keep but what happens when you find out a secret like what Shiki did? What will you do? Can you handle the truth? Do you regret it or do something to liberate yourself and move forward. Maybe that is why sometimes secrets are kept hidden so that ordinary high school kids like Shiki do not need to suffer any further. For his own good. Sometimes it is best just to lead a plain, peaceful, tranquil, boring and ordinary life. Nothing of the extraordinary happens. See all the troubles he went through? Not bad since he get to date and bed a vampire. Haha. Oh, one last point to ponder: If you have sex with a vampire, will you turn into one too? Well, if that actually worked, there would have been lots of murder rape cases than blood sucking deaths, don’t you think?

I guess no progress had been made yet. The Neighbours Club are still having the same old face and members. Don’t get your hopes up for anything new if you watch Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai OVA. Some people call this the 13th episode because it takes place after the TV series ended. One obvious note of that is that Yozora has her hair cut short. So what else is new in the club room? Nothing. Same old, same old. Sena is still playing her galge and since it didn’t end too well for her, she breaks the disc! Oh sh*t! She realizes there are 2 types of girls in this world: Those who love her and the rest are all bi*tches! Haha! I think some may classify her in the latter category. This OVA isn’t anything new except that the club members bum around doing things together. The odd way. So here, Kodaka suggests doing a relay novel (a page each) and has decided the turns for everyone to write one to pass the time. Oh dear. I wonder if they can keep track of everything. Don’t hope. My guess is that everything will fall apart right from the start.

This maid cross-dresser starts off putting Kodaka as the main character. What else. It’s always has to be that guy. He is a great man. A talented guy. A true samurai with charisma loved by all. And a rapist! WHAT THE?! And a repeat offender too?! How can a samurai be a rapist?! Well, Yukimura heard from Yozora that Kodaka raped 100 girls every day. I don’t want to know how she even believed that crap. So the story begins with Kodaka getting angry with his subordinate Yukimura, thinking she has sat on his slippers. However she shows him that she put it on her breasts instead and this made him happy. See, didn’t I tell you this was so screwed up?! There’s more. They swore eternal devotion and made love happily ever after. The end. WTF?! You can’t end it right now on the first page! Rika interjects and feels the need for them to strip and engage in sex. Yeah, the one who is aroused is only Rika. So aroused that her head could explode. Unfortunately it didn’t. She wanted to change places with Yozora but was rejected. So while she waits for her turn, till then she’ll just fantasize the indecency in her head. Creepy…

Continuing the story, Kodaka and his underling Yukimura is walking into town and spot villains raping women in the middle of the street. Guess what? The women she describes have traits that resemble Sena! Including all the badmouthing! Sena blows her top but Yozora points out it wasn’t her and only happened to have her characteristics. So is she admitting she is those raped pigs? Embarrassed… However as she continues, Yozora even adds Sena’s name into it! Now what reason is she going to give? They coincidentally have the same name. Yeah, right… But Sena is glad that she called her by her real name for the first time. Now she’s going to end it. Sena feels relieved that she’ll be saved by a hero but don’t count your chickens yet. Yozora writes Kodaka just let her get raped because he is only interested in little girls! And Sena had to get mad at the real Kodaka for not saving her…

Now it’s this guy’s turn to put things back on track. He turns around and slices the villains with his sword. Apparently his rape fetish was only a facade to deceive the baddies as he gets information of their hideout and heads there to defeat them all and bring peace to the town. Normal… Boring… Yozora thinks he’s projecting himself as the main character to escape the pain of reality. With people like them around him, I can see why.

So it’s this blonde’s turn. Guess what? She’s going to get her revenge. As predicted. She makes Yozora the fat ugly evil final boss. Describing right down to her traits and name. Each time, Sena gets smacked by a fly swatter on her head. It’s because Yozora felt the ‘meat’ is decaying and flies are gathering around it. Sena writes Kodaka gets into a galge trap and is forced to pray for rescue. Then descending from the sky is Sena the goddess who will give the evil Yozora a second chance in life if she begs for her life and goes down licking her feet. After she did that, thankful Kodaka also got a ‘reward’ with Sena stepping on his head. And he likes it. Yozora gives Sena the ultimate swat in the forehead. She is furious she has been insulted that she had to beg and lick feet. That scary look on her face made Sena scared. Yozora wants her to apologize now and since she doesn’t feel her sincerity, get down and lick her feet! Gosh. I didn’t know Sena was that afraid of her to do so. But then again, it’s Sena we’re talking about. Fortunately she won’t bring herself to do it and smacks Yozora with her swatter.

She’s going to let everyone see her infinite genius. I have a feeling that says otherwise. Once Kodaka kisses Sena’s feet, his memories awakened and we are transported back to the past whereby Kodaka and Kobato met in some Transylvania place. Lots of fantasy names and grandiose fantasy drama-cum-crap that I don’t care to remember. Thank God each person had to write only a page because Kobato could’ve continued the story for another thousand more pages! Go read it yourself!

When this nun takes over, she makes Kobato step on poop and the bird just released its droppings on her head. Because she stinks, Kodaka suggests they go to the church to accept God’s blessings. When the priest sprinkles holy water over her, she turns into ashes! Don’t be sad! For the vampire has been accepted into Heaven! The moral of the story is that you mustn’t hold your sh*t in when you really need to go to the toilet. Huh? Anyway the lolis start arguing.

She’s going to end this with a bang. Oh no. A bang indeed because isn’t that Death Star exploding? And how the hell did it turn into some sci-fi mecha thingy? Kodaka’s evil powers have awakened and he is going to destroy Earth only to be stopped by his underling Yukimura. That is just a setting so that she could write her story filled with sexual subtexts between them despite having lots of mecha terms in it. This girl is really on fire writing those mecha sex scenes! The raunchy story ends as they continued to enjoy each other intensely through the night.

It’s All In The Writing…
Kodaka can’t really accept this story. I mean, did we understand what was going on? Heck, I was only laughing at the silliness of it all. But as Rika puts it, you can end it with a sex scene in the BL world. All problems will go away with such scene. Just like in real life, as long you have love, you’ll have a happy ending. How I wish this was really true instead of some delusion. But Rika puts the question that has the girls blushing. Who will receive Kodaka’s love at the end of his story? Yeah girls, dream on…

So it was rather fun to see the gang doing another activity together which doesn’t really amount to anything big in the end. It’s just something silly to pass the time. After all, they’ve got nobody else to hang out with, right? Even if they didn’t make other friends, at least they made lots of progress being friends with each other. Of course the eternal rivalry between Yozora and Sena, and Kobato with Maria. They may hate each other’s guts but in a subtle way they are each other’s good friends too because who would be such a good ‘friend’ for them to let them insult and offense, right? It never ceases to amaze me the kind of slur that Yozora could come up just to tick Sena off. She’s really good at it and if you want somebody to stir displeasure in your enemy camp, she is the right person for the job. Rika still never tires over her BL fantasies while Yukimura is still admiring Kodaka too much that she doesn’t mind ‘doing it’ with him. And the poor guy Kodaka is the one who is caught between all the mess. Some friends they are, huh?

Well, the second season has been given the green light and already starting its run so till I’ll be waiting with glee what further antics that the Neighbours Club will hold in their quest to make more friends. Or more frenemies. I don’t think it will be a good idea to make friends by starting with an insult but you know what they say about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer, right? Hmm… As mentioned, the second season is already starting but it will be some time before I catch the entire series. I prefer to watch it after it finishes and in the mean time, go watch some other finished animes first. At least I’m glad to know that I don’t have to go off fantasizing some sick delusions while waiting for my turn to have a go at the sequel.


January 6, 2013

Imagine the world without the Korean Wave. Now, imagine American Idol never existed. Or all those singing and talent reality shows on TV that you see, cease to exist. No girl groups, no boy bands ever. Heck, what if there is no music in the world! Can’t imagine that kind of life, eh? It’s like having all sorts of entertainment banned. The premise for AKB0048 may remind you of the Taliban’s strict rule but only difference is that you magnify and extend this ban thingy into an intergalactic magnitude. Wow. That is really terrifying. I know in space nobody can hear you scream but to ban all forms of music too?

This series is inspired and based on the popular all-girl idol group called AKB48. Their popularity has been growing in idol-crazy Japan and their influence is of course extending to other countries as well so this anime was somewhat timely to promote and further enhance their popularity. I think. I’m not really a big fan of AKB48 so when I did a little research on the group (via Wikipedia of course), I was overwhelmed with all sorts of information that explains their history, goal and workings. So much so I became ‘scared’ in trying to understand it all. Not to mention the terms such as Kenkyuusei (Understudy/Trainees), Senbatsu (Successors) and Graduates (ex-members). All I understand is that there is a big bunch of girls singing and dancing on stage much to the delight of their screaming fans and that they hold the Guinness World Record of having the most number of group members for a pop group. That’s a total of 64 girls, dude!!! How crowded can the stage get? It makes the Korean boy band of Super Junior look like nothing. And this is not counting all their other associate acts like SKE48, HKT48 and NMB48 among the oddly named groups that sound like some computer code. Well, I don’t mind if you’re crazy over them but for me, I think I’ll just pass and if I happen to like a particular song they sing, so be it. I’m not going gaga and obsessed over them. Maybe I’m too old for this.

Don’t be mistaken that this series is based on the real life and drama of the members itself. In fact it takes place in the future of the 21st century where mankind has migrated to several planets all over the universe after Earth has become uninhabitable. Because entertainment like music has been deemed to ‘disturb the heart’, any sort of that likes are banned. Of course, there will always be a group of resistance fighters to challenge that iron fist ruling and for this sci-fi series, who no other than AKB0048 who will come to the rescue and bring hope to the hearts of people and fans with their music. Labelled as heroines by some and terrorists by others, the girls carry on fighting with the title and the spirit of the original members. This is the story of a group of young hopefuls trying to achieve their dream amidst the dangers and obstacles as they try to become the next generation of AKB0048.

Episode 1
The entertainment ban is in full force on planet Lancastar. Looks like your typical gloomy industrialized dystopian planet. Doom is so the right word. But that didn’t stop a group of 4 young girls, Nagisa Motomiya, Chieri Sono, Yuuka Ichijou and Orine Aida from secretly attending a concert that will be held on the planet. The performance of AKB0048 was awe inspiring, enough to move the hearts of everyone. Despite the attack of the DES enforcers, the show goes on because the idols themselves kick ass! They’re not just pretty faces on stage, you know. While the main idols prance around, their backup Kenkyuusei members take on the DES enforcement. Seriously, a group of heavily armed men getting beaten up by cute idols? Never mind. I root for the idols to kick ass! Woot! At the end of the concert, the 4 friends are left in amazement and they vow to become part of the group one day. For Chieri, she receives a Kirara (cute little glowing blobs). Fast forward 4 years later. Nothing much changes. Lancastar is still a dystopian world but because of that guerrilla concert, pro-entertainment activisms have reached its peak and though the ban is still enforced, some form of entertainment is allowable. Nagisa, Yuuka and Orine watch a recruitment ad from AKB0048 searching for the 77th generation of Understudies. They are going to apply and make an audition tape of themselves. Not the best but you can see the determination they put in. But it’s going to be hard for Nagisa because her father is part of the government’s Entertainment Administration (despite its name, it is actually anti-entertainment) and it would be ironic for people to catch the daughter of such a bureau chief singing. Nagisa like a typical rebelling teenager didn’t like it one bit. Mama is caught in between but eventually couldn’t help her daughter achieve her dream.

Yuuka and Orine relay the good news that they have been accepted for the audition and have been sent a digital ticket for the next round. However Nagisa couldn’t go as she knows her father wouldn’t allow her. Besides, she isn’t confident in her signing. Yuuka calls her a chicken and their friendship is strained. Nagisa tries to convince her dad but he is sticking with his guns. He fears radicals and DES forces may show up and jeopardize everything. Looking for danger is a waste of time. I’m sure that guerrilla concert 4 years ago won’t be enough to convince him either. Nagisa runs out of the house in show of defiance. At the park, she stumbles upon Yuuka arguing with her boyfriend Mamoru Kouenji. She slaps him. He loves her but if she becomes an idol, he won’t love her anymore. I guess that’s the end for them. Orine lives alone in the factory where she also works (her parents were killed when she was young) and though sad to leave this place, she’ll come back to see them again (the machines, that is). On the early morning of their flight, Nagisa makes a last minute decision to attend. She thought her mom was going to stop her but instead was given a ribbon she made herself as support. The flight is about to being as Nagisa peddles hard to catch it. Can you outrun a shuttle? It’s a good thing that her friends pull her up in time into the shuttle but remember, don’t ever try this stunt anyhow. It’s amazing nobody got seriously hurt.

Episode 2
On board the liner, the trio aren’t the only AKB0048 hopefuls on board. We have a glimpse of the very pessimistic Makoto Yokomizo (if she’s so scared, how the heck did she manage to convince herself to get onboard this ship?), the quiet Suzuko Kanzaki (seems to have a wide knowledge on AKB0048) and the stowaway bratty and child-like Sonata Shinonome (has a penchant for giving aptly weird nicknames to others). Of course, not forgetting Chieri who is very well disguised, careful not to let herself be known. Inevitably all the girls (except Chieri) meet and learn they are rivals for the audition. Sorry folks. No cat fight from the start. Instead, friendly interactions. Shouldn’t everyone be like that? They see Sonata hiding not only because she’s a stowaway, but failed the first round auditions. She’s that determined, huh? They see on the news that the daughter of Zodiac Corporation’s CEO is missing. That’s Chieri, right? An all-out search for her has been initiated and it is rumoured that she is heading to some audition. So her friends think she still hasn’t given up her dream and go to find her. Nagisa bumps into a kid (Chieri) who wants to know if she is going to turn Chieri over to the authorities if she finds her. Well, if she wants to pass the audition, she should hand her in. After all that means fewer rivals. Nagisa isn’t going to do that to her friend. However the kid signs off warning her if she doesn’t see others as rivals, there is a slim chance of her joining AKB0048.

When the girls regroup, DES enforcers storm into the liner in search of groups of girls heading to the audition. The girls make a run for it but Nagisa gets caught. It isn’t long before AKB0048 bursts in to save the day. And sing while they’re at it. Nagisa realizes her ribbon is missing and went back to search for it but gets caught again. Chieri unmasks herself to tackle the DES enforcer. Instead of happy to see her old friend again, Chieri chides her that she can’t even protect herself what more join AKB0048. Felt like a cliche when the chandelier fell over her. Nagisa won’t run and abandon Chieri and tries to haul it away. Seriously, can she? Now it’s Nagisa’s turn to reply back on Chieri’s question about rivals. True, they may be rivals. But they trust their friends and support each other. That’s the AKB0048 she wants to join. Kirara suddenly glows and as explained by AKB0048 member Yuuko, it is proof of the birth of an idol. Kiraras are testament to the presence of idols and are attracted to their aura while glowing in resonance. Yuuko lifts the heavy chandelier and guides the duo to the rest of the 77th generation candidates into safety on their shuttle while the rest stalls the DES enforcers. While catching their breath, Chieri notes that Kirara had always followed her ever since that day but it never glowed for her. She wonders if Nagisa was chosen.

Episode 3
The manager of AKB0048, Tsubasa Katagiri informs the candidates they will undergo a series of intensive selections and those who pass will only become Understudies and be invited to their home planet, Akibastar. Sonata gets the green light from Tsubasa to join the audition seeing her determination. I’m sure the girls never thought the audition will be about fighting robots and handling guns, eh? Is this what they signed up for? I mean, you can’t be an idol without being able to defend yourself especially from DES, right? Plus, Tsubasa informs they’ll be bodyguards for the upcoming guerrilla concert and will be trained to protect the current Successors’ concert. Until the end. Boy, this is going to be tough. If it’s not training, taking time off is also hell. The shower water is rusty, the food has lots of fats and they sleep in little space bunkers. Chieri chides everyone who complains and she goes off to practice hard herself. Nagisa and Yuuka go to find her and they stumble upon the Successors practising late into the night. Tensions are running high with one of them slipping up so much so Nagisa busts in to tell them not to fight. On the contrary, they weren’t fighting. It’s their way of letting others know how they’re feeling. A couple of girls want to confront Tsubasa about this combat training thingy but Yuuka tells them off about working hard. It made her realize how much she sounded like Chieri.

Preparations are made just before they are dropped off. While AKB0048 performs on stage, the candidates man their station on the lookout for DES troops. True enough, the robots came and start blasting them all! Wow. They came for an audition and not the kind of battle they expected, eh? How can you throw amateurs into battle?! They’re falling like flies! Tsubasa is observing them and makes a note of those who failed. Lots of them don’t seem to make the cut. Chieri is adamant to protect the concert and becomes the decoy for a DES robot to buy enough time for Nagisa to take it out with her grenade. But it’s not out yet and targets Nagisa. Chieri uses her body to protect her and got shot. The concert ends and as Nagisa holds dear Chieri in her arms, both girls are surprised to see Chieri alive. The blood is fake? As revealed by Tsubasa, this is only a test and training. Seriously, you think they would put amateurs in a real battlefield? Yeah, it was a way to weed out those who didn’t make the cut. Safe to say Nagisa and her friends all pass. The DES robots were made from captured from enemy crafts and this training is to also show that fighting with weapons only brings pain and hatred. However they stood their ground and protect their dream and most important of all, they showed they would be there to support for their friends no matter what. Tsubasa announces that they have successfully become the 77th generation of Understudies.

Episode 4
The girls arrive on Akibastar and they get to see the concert staged by the 75th generation Understudies. There are only 2 of them, Kanata Shinonome and Mimori Kishida. As mentioned by Tsubasa, they are the cursed generation. So many failed and pulled out and they are the only ones left. They have been Understudies for 2 years and none of them have succeeded in becoming Successors. But the girls feel the crowd isn’t really paying attention to their performance. When AKB0048 prance onto the stage, they become wild. After stage, the girls meet the 75th generation Understudies (despite their different generations, they are treated equally as Understudies). Sonata is happy to see her sister Kanata but the latter isn’t. She thinks she should go home and should not be here in the first place. They are taken around the place, the dorm and the kitchen handled by Papa Cook. There is row of pictures in the hallway of portraits of past centres. AKB0048 currently has a different centre for each song but in the past, one person took that position and led the group. It was last held by Acchan the 13th. After she graduated, the position was done away. Why? That’s what Yuuko wants to find out.

Sonata and Kanata are in another sisterly squabble. What else? Kanata is frustrated that their generation has never succeeded and at this rate she will never get revenge for her father. He was the leader of a pro-entertainment rebellion faction but was killed in action by DES. That’s why she doesn’t want Sonata walking the same path as her. She doesn’t care about singing and joined AKB0048 for revenge. She is going to be a Successor so that she can perform on the frontline and fight DES. The Understudies get their dancing lessons from the effeminate choreographer, Ushiyama. He’s strict. He is quick to point out if you’re doing it wrong. No better than combat training, eh? Ushiyama wasn’t impressed with Kanata’s motivation so he tells her off and wants her to switch positions with Chieri. But Chieri couldn’t do that and would prefer to observe older and more experienced members since she is new and will be counting on the seniors to set a good example. I don’t know how others view it as going too far since they’re not sitting well with her statement. Kanata runs off with Mimori chasing her. Mimori finds her sitting alone and starts singing. Kanata tries to shut her ears because she fears if she does so, she may start to like singing. What’s so bad about that? The more you like it the better. So Mimori weaves her magical words of encouragement, support, dreams and hard work for Kanata’s much needed motivation to get her back on her feet. And happily reunite with little sister Sonata too.

Episode 5
They’re getting used to life and routine at the dorm. Just a little bit crowded, don’t you think? Despite having their day off, Tsubasa reminds that how they make the most of their time will greatly impact their futures as the Successors’ lives are schedule down to the last minute. Chieri goes out shopping alone, Suzuko and Sonata take a bath together, Yuuka and Orine help out with Papa Cook, Kojiharu takes Makoto and Kanata under her wing to increase their feminine pheromones while Sayaka and Sae do the exact opposite of Mimori who is reeking of sexy pheromones. Nagisa follows Chieri and thought she was being tailed by an agent and goes to save her. Turns out that guy just wanted to point out the price tag stuck onto her skirt. Suzuko and Sonata try to find out more about S-Quadruple AKA Sensei-sensei (the one responsible for writing songs and lyrics for AKB0048) but was told by Yukirin that it is forbidden to do so or else… You’ll lose your belly button! Sonata believed it… However Suzuko couldn’t pass up this chance and decides to tail Tsubasa who gets a call to meet. Orine and Yuuka went to visit the house of Tomochin and oddly, everyone in her family resembles the Tomochin the 1st! Too strong the genes? Nagisa protects Chieri once more thinking some paparazzi is onto her. Turns out to be Yuuko. The girls talk and she tells them about Acchan who was an amazing person because all the glowing Kiraras would flock to her when she’s on stage. Also, all past centres have graduated under mysterious circumstances and it was believed Acchan disappeared during a concert shortly Yuuko got promoted as a Successor. Acchan took with her the centre position but that is not going to stop Yuuko from becoming a centre. Nagisa inspires to become Yuuko so as they practice their dance in the middle of the streets, it attracts the attention of the public. So all the Understudies get some words of encouragement of chasing their dreams and working hard. Suzuko and Sonata tail Tsubasa who is having a meal with Ushiyama at a roadside stall. Is this Sensei-sensei? Well, they got tired waiting and fell asleep. Apparently Tsubasa knew they were tailing all along and led them on a wild goose chase. After she brings the sleeping girls back to their dorm, she goes off to see Sensei-sensei.

Episode 6
The 77th generation just completed their promotional movie that will be broadcasted throughout the galaxy. Makoto thinks her waist was too fat… They will also be debuting in a handshake event. It is an important event for them to get to know their fans and get feedback. Their personality will impact their future. Oh, do pay attention to your clothes too. Though they didn’t buy anything suitable, Orine is surprised to receive a fan mail. Everyone is eager to see it but it turns out to be a hate mail! This kid doesn’t want her to succeed Sashiko and views her as an embarrassment and failure to this idol he loves. He tells her to give up or else he’ll bomb the event! Orine becomes shell shocked but it was too late for Tsubasa to snatch it away. She laments the screening of mails was lax and they get all sorts of mails. She points out the more popular a member is, the more haters it attracts. If they lose spirit over this, they don’t stand a chance. Besides, if you give into one hater, you’ll let tons of fans down. However Orine couldn’t focus on her practice and continues to slip up. Chieri once more said harsh words but it was for her better sake. Orine gets advice from Takamina that there will always be haters so Orine decides to attend the handshake event.

On that day itself, Orine is still shaken up but her friends remain supportive. Orine gets her first handshake from a fan in the form of a little girl, Yayoi. She gets the much needed boost to carry on the event. As the handshake gets underway, the hateful kid pops up. It’s that traumatic feeling once more. Chieri comes in between them and instead of telling him off, puts up a nice and polite gesture to welcome him to the event. Suddenly a bomb rocks the place and the kid insists it wasn’t him. The DES army is approaching and the Understudies will have to fight them off while the Successors lead the fans to safety. Orine tries to help that kid up and despite him shouting at her he’ll never accept her as Sashiko, Orine thinks back and remembers how his room is filled with memorabilia of her. He must really love her. Orine saves him from an incoming blast and wants to protect him. He is after all her first hater and if there is anything she lacks, please tell her. She’ll do anything to be Sashiko. Reinforcements for the girls arrive in the form called WOTA. Let’s say they are otaku people with armaments that can rival DES. You can’t beat their passion and love for the girls! In the end, DES is forced to withdraw and though the stadium is heavily damaged, there were no casualties. Yayoi is very impressed with Orine but for that kid, he just ran away. Soon, Orine gets another mail from that kid. Though he still doesn’t acknowledge her to be Sashiko (he notes her fighting is like a wimp), he admits her sincerity was like her. So polish up your skills and you might have some potential. Woah. A compliment from her very first hater. An experience for Orine filled with fear and kindness that she’ll never forget.

Episode 7
Some of the Understudies may get their first chance appearing as stand-ins for their Successors who are away attending a peace ceremony. Those selected are Kanata, Mimori, Chieri and Megumi Wanibuchi. However Megumi is not pleased that a younger generation got selected instead of another one from her 76th generation. Tsubasa reminds her that seniority does not play a role in the selection and based on skill. Later Tsubasa talks to Uchiyama about Sensei-sensei. It seems he has been more proactive expressing his will lately and reacting to the 77th generation lately and writing more lyrics. The unselected Understudies think of what to do with their free time but I guess they can’t sit in the same room with the 76th generation. After practice, Chieri tries to follow wherever Yuuko goes and imitate whatever she does. Including doing some embarrassing sexy pose. Nagisa saw that. She congratulates her for becoming a stand-in and when they get back to the dorm, Megumi and her girls confront Chieri. They think she has something to hide. Her dad’s company makes those DES robots and they think she’s a spy. Chieri reveals that she tried to talk to her dad about the audition but he refused to budge so she secretly attended another concert and that’s when she saw her dad’s company logo on the DES robot. That’s why she ran away for this audition and had this feeling she knew she didn’t belong here. Nagisa rubbishes that but Chieri wants to be left alone. So when practice begins, Chieri isn’t around. Kanata wants to go look for her despite Ushiyama’s protest. He cautions her that Chieri has abandoned her duty and that Kanata is close to being promoted. But as captain of the Understudies, Kanata feels it’s her duty as that comes first before being a stand-in and goes off to look for Chieri.

Takamina talks to Yuuko, Yukirin and Mayuyu about Kanata’s skills at a Successor’s level. But since they don’t know how this succession thing works, they decide to go see Tsubasa. They tail Tsubasa entering a weird shrine underneath the concert hall. Was this place ever so big? Inside a cave, they see lots of glowing Kiraras. They reflect the original members that they are succeeding. However when it comes to Takamina, it wasn’t her face but Kanata’s. Kanata sees Chieri packing her bags. She feels guilty she took the audition without mentioning what her father does. But Kanata couldn’t care less about what her father does. Despite her father was killed by DES and she joined AKB0048 to avenge his death, that all doesn’t matter now because she wants to be a Successor. It’s your dream that matters. Well, that was enough conviction for Chieri to u-turn her decision. And shed some tears while at it. Kanata hugs her and Nagisa thought she saw something yuri. Tsubasa is surprised to find the quartet within the forbidden area. Takamina wants to know the meaning of this and as explained. The Kiraras here are the Kiraras of succession. So, they rely on these cute little critters to select the next Successor? Up till a year ago, the Kirara showed Takamina’s face until it was replaced by Kanata as her power increased. It’s because her soul is the closes to the original Takamina. Since the Kirara chose her, Kanata will be the next Takamina once she graduates. Of course this means if Takamina doesn’t graduate, she won’t get promoted. But as of now, Kanata may have grown close to the original Takamina. This doesn’t sit well with Takamina. Tsubasa hopes the rest won’t tell the rest. They won’t because Takamina is their irreplaceable captain.

Episode 8
The concert was a success and as usual awe inspiring. But the next guerrilla concert will be held on Tundrastar where the entertainment ban is in full force. Kanata, Mimori, Megumi and all of the 77th generation are selected as stand-ins. Megumi is not happy that her other 76th generation didn’t get selected so Tsubasa tells her off that the 77th generation were practising hard when they were not selected. What was the 76th generation doing then? Can’t answer, no? This later leads to a confrontation between the 76th generation and the rest. Though Kanata tries to give them hope, Megumi reminds her of her 2 years as an Understudy. Surprisingly Suzuko head butts her. That pain hurt her as much as it did to Suzuko. She wants her to apologize to Kanata. Yuuka writes a mail to Mamoru that she has become a stand-in but gets embarrassed when Makoto and Sonata read it out loud. Megumi is still bitter over everything. She meets Youko, a full-fledged AKB0048 who was from her generation before she got promoted. She’s the only one from the 76th generation to become a Successor. Megumi said they used to be together but they hardly see her. You know how busy a Successor’s schedule is? Tsubasa receives information from WOTA that there will be large reinforcements from DES waiting for them. They might not have enough members to fight back but Takamina will still go ahead with the concert. They’ll put down their lives for the people who are counting on them and not let a little danger scare them. Four DES robots are detected so the girls get into their station. Takamina is having doubts if she is acting like a captain. She couldn’t concentrate and got careless. Though she is saved by Kanata, she is badly wounded from the direct missile hit. Takamina wakes up in the infirmary with Yuuko by her side. She doubts her own abilities but wants to stay on and not graduate. However she is in a dilemma because if she does, Kanata will remain as an Understudy. That girl works so hard and adores her so it seems unfair that she is crushing her dreams for her own selfishness. Yuuko says though they care for the girls, it is her own dream that is most important. Everyone in AKB0048 is chasing the same dream but that dream means something different to each of them. Her dream belongs to only herself and there is nothing wrong with that. Kanata notes she needs to become stronger.

Episode 9
Takamina is injured and even so, she wants to perform. However Tsubasa doesn’t think she can give her best performance and replaces her with Kanata. Megumi feels Youko has gone distant between them. Mimori assures her that she is still by her side because their efforts will help the Successors shine on the main stage. Megumi feels bad she has been badmouthing them so why is she helping her still. Because she’s a masochist…?! On Tundrastar, Nagisa and her friends decide to take a look at a nearby town. Gloomy. Depressing. Miserable. This is what happens when you ban entertainment, eh? Yeah, nobody is smiling. Their hearts are frozen. They see a group of little girls secretly watching a video of AKB0048 in their igloo. Once they realize who the idols are, their eyes are beam with hope and happiness. This gives Nagisa an idea to perform for them right now. Too bad it is cut short when it attracted the attention of DES enforcers but the WOTA got them. Tsubasa has come up with an idea of holding multiple coordinated concerts. The concert starts and the Understudies start popping up everywhere all over town singing. This confuses the DES enforces because by the time they reach the girls, they’re already gone. Popping up at random places also messes their coordination as they are scattered throughout the place. The main concert is going to start in a few minutes and Kanata is extremely happy that she is going to play Takamina’s role for the very first time. However Takamina shows up and wants her to take off her dress. She is adamant she can still perform her best. Seeing her determination, Tsubasa allows her. I’m sure Kanata must be very disappointed with this last minute change. Oh well. Easy come, easy go. The main concert gets underway and though Takamina is in pain, she doesn’t give in and puts on a stunning performance while the Understudies and WOTA keep DES at bay. At the end of the concert, Takamina fever reaches burning point. Despite the crowd wanting an encore, Yuuko wants Kanata to bring her to the sick bay. She should trust her friends more. Takamina notes that Kanata may have been bitter not being able to perform. Despite of that, she puts the band and performance first. She thinks the title of Takamina should really belong to her.

Episode 10
Makoto seems to be enjoying fattening food till Tsubasa announces a gravure photo shoot in their swimsuits. Oh no. Now she’s changing her mind about those ‘treasure chests’? On the other hand, Nagisa notes how Chieri has changed a lot as she has grown closer to the other girls since their return from Tundrastar. So before the photo shoot, Makoto doubts she could make her appearance. The fats ended up in the wrong place even if they’re a few centimetres apart! Haha! Seeing she wants to shape up so bad, Suzuko is glad to lend her hand. That scream doesn’t sound good. Suddenly, yes suddenly flat chest Makoto has got boobs! What the?! Did she have such a nice body before? From what Suzuko did, she seems to tape all the fats around her body and squeeze it to her breasts. I don’t know how she did that. While the photo shoot goes on, Yuuko confronts Tsubasa about the place with Kirara of succession. It’s because of her dream as the Centre Nova. Noting that Tsubasa was once part of the AKB0048 known as Mariko, Acchan was always with her. She knows she was there by her side when Acchan disappeared. Tsubasa then quit AKB0048 to join the administration team to find out about Acchan’s disappearance. Makoto revels in her photo shoot but because Sonata is fooling around, her fake pads dropped off into the water. She quickly scoops them up till she realizes she just put in a jellyfish. It stings like hell! Chieri and Nagisa are made to pose close to each other. Too close…

That night Makoto skips out in joining the rest to bath together. So Suzuko joins her and reveals her dream was not to become a Successor and has no one in particular she wants to become. As each member had their own unique traits, some advance quickly while others took their time. She had low confidence level till she discovered AKB0048. She wants to become someone like Tsubasa, someone who works to support AKB0048. Nagisa and Chieri are seen talking together. Chieri says Kirara has never glowed once in her presence and glowed only for Nagisa. Since she was chosen by Kirara, she can’t win. Suddenly they hear screams from Makoto. Actually they were screams of joy. Because of the jellyfish sting, her boobs swelled. She thinks this is her chance to get some of her pictures taken before the temporary boobs disappear. Tsubasa goes to see Mikako Noono, the camerawoman who was also known as Minami Minegishi and was once the Centre Nova. She shows her a picture she took of Chieri and Nagisa together. Even though the sun is out, Kirara shone very brightly. Mikako denies she was Centre Nova because she ran away and if Tsubasa intends to bring that position back, she’ll do everything in her power to stop her. Tsubasa seeks answers about it but Mikako’s lips are tightly sealed. Nagisa reflects on what Chieri said about being chosen and refuses to believe that this is about winning or losing.

Episode 11
A big announcement pops up right after AKB0048’s performance. The Understudies will have their debut performance back on Lancastar. Tsubasa goes over the programme for their performance and for one of the few solo songs, Nagisa is surprised that she was chosen to be the lead singer while Chieri, Suzuko and Makoto act as her backup dancers. Nagisa didn’t have confidence to take on this role but Tsubasa tells her this is not a debate. Kanata talks to Takamina and though she feels jealous Nagisa got that part, she is now happy that her comrades are rewarded for their effort. Yuuka gets mail from Makoto but it’s not lovey-dovey reply. He doesn’t want her to come back. Still bitter? Uchiyama is not impressed that Nagisa lacks the vibrant to match the solo song while the other girls chide Kanata for being pro-Takamina. Takamina this, Takamina that. If that is not enough trouble, Yuuko barges in seeking answers from Tsubasa that Sensei-sensei has composed a new song and the ones who are singing it are the Understudies. So? Jealous? So what a new song hasn’t been written since Acchan’s disappearance. This song, Yume Wa Nando Demo Umarekawaru (Dreams Are Forever Reborn) seems to have its lyrics suitable for the Understudy girls. It shows that the girls have the power to move Sensei-sensei. Yuuko is going to practice this song too even if they don’t get to sing it. Sonata and Makoto discuss about Sensei-sensei’s song writing abilities. Sonata thinks he is lazy for him to come up with a song after so long while Makoto thinks it’s a burden if he writes songs regularly because it’ll be hard to remember all its lyrics as of now AKB0048 has already hundreds of them. Chieri continues to ponder what Nagisa has that she lacks and sees Yuuko performing the new song alone. It’s like she’s obsessed with it.

Tsubasa receives report that DES and the radical anti-entertainment faction are making their move on Lancastar. Yuuka understands why Makoto told her not to come back. Nonetheless, they are going to hold a concert. Nagisa and her friends get permission to visit around town and promise to be back before their concert. The place hasn’t changed at all. Dark. Depressing. Gloomy. Miserable. Outside their old school, Yuuka is shocked to see Mamoru. He has a rifle in hand! Anyway they both start arguing till Mamoru’s teammate, Aoi breaks them up. Yuuka to her surprise finds Mamoru is a fan of Suzuko! Great. This just complicates things. Well, I don’t remember them breaking up officially. Oh, Aoi is Yuuka’s fan. They are brought into their old classroom which is now a base for Lancastar’s WOTA, which Mamoru and Aoi are part of. It’s such a pig sty but after seeing the Understudies, see how fast they clean up the space to welcome them. Yuuka is baffled because she thought Mamoru hated AKB0048. Apparently after she left, he researched on the group and gradually found himself addicted. Life is so ironic. Though Yuuka is happy, she can’t help wonder who this Aoi girl is since she is quite close to Mamoru. The WOTA leader informs that the anti-entertainment on Lancastar has grown stronger thanks to DES and many of the pro-entertainment officials have been detained. This prompts Nagisa to ask about her dad. He was arrested because his daughter became an Understudy of AKB0048. No use crying now. She defied him to go after her dream, right? Suddenly the place is under attack by DES. Mamoru wants Yuuka and her friends to escape safely so they can put up a concert and give the people strength to fight back. To confuse the enemy, they will split into 3 groups. Nagisa, Chieri and Orine are running away when Orine stumbles. Orine recognizes a mark from the factory she carved on the DES robot and becomes distraught.

Episode 12
Chieri cuts the DES robot with her light sabre and leads the girls to safety. Orine realizes she has been making DES robots without realizing it and indirectly tried to destroy AKB0048 she loves. Chieri feels she is to blame since it was her father’s company that ordered the factory to make those weapons. WOTA reinforcements arrive to help them to safety. Before the van departs, Nagisa wants to save her father because she feels it’s her fault she got detained. Kanata vouches for her since they’ve all been trained for combat. The WOTA leader notes how Kanata is like her father who was a hero to the liberation movement. The place where the girls first witnessed the AKB0048 is now a detainment facility. While the rest draw the guards’ attention, Nagisa, Makoto, Suzuko and Sonata will head in via secret pathway to reach her father. When Nagisa reaches her father’s cell, he refuses to leave. Since he is an Entertainment Administration official, he can’t risk it to be saved by an entertainer and traitor to Lancaster and will go talk to the higher ups himself. With a heavy heart, Nagisa is forced to leave empty handed since DES reinforcements are heading towards them. They seek shelter at Yuuka’s family restaurant. Nagisa still feels guilty it’s her fault daddy is in there. Yuuka’s parents say that though they manage to lie their way out, her father was pressured into making her quit AKB0048 but never gave in. Then they drive by Nagisa’s house and see it in ruins. The garden that her mom used to diligently take care off is now in shambles.

When they get back to base for practice, Nagisa seems to have lost her voice from the shock. The concert is tomorrow and they don’t have enough time. Chieri volunteers to take her place since she knows the lyrics and moves by heart. Tsubasa okays it and reduces Nagisa to a backup dancer. Takamina talks to Yuuko who is practising the new song. She hates it since it’s all about the new generation and it makes her feel that her generation is not good enough. Takamina is still in pain from her old injuries and thinks of graduating after this concert. Later Chieri confronts Nagisa and gives her a pep talk about graduating and not to quit until she has lost to her. Easy to say it to her now because she can’t talk back, eh? Before the main concert begins, Yuuka talks to Mamoru and promises to put on a dazzling performance. He says he has changed his mind. He loves the Yuuka in AKB0048 and no longer the one who isn’t in it. As long as she remains in AKB0048, he’ll be her fan. The Understudies head out for their debut performance and put all their heart and soul into it. DES is firing back with more firepower and is serious in taking down AKB0048 so much so Tsubasa had to initiate an emergency cancel on the concert. While Yuuka bids farewell to Mamoru, Mikako sees a new Kirara born.

Episode 13
The Understudies want to return to perform since their voice have not reach their fans yet. They fear they may not get a chance to return if they run but Tsubasa won’t hear any more of it. Tsubasa also reflects how she didn’t want to abandon her home planet. She thought her planet had no WOTA support and that nobody was there to see them. However Acchan thought differently, she wanted to go because she wanted to see her fans. Sonata is a little shaken up. During a fracas with one of the DES enforcers, she saw how scary his face at close up. He hated AKB0048 and Sonata thought AKB0048 was all about love and smiles. Suzuko says DES are a bunch of bullies and that they are wrong to hate them. Soon all the girls including the Successors plead to Tsubasa they want to resume their concert. Suddenly Acchan’s voice is heard. Noting their determination to reach their voices, Acchan casts a ray of light down from the ship onto Lancaster. The location will be at the detainment facility. What a better place to fight for the liberation of entertainment. Mikako leads the fans over to the spot as Mamoru frees Nagisa’s dad from prison and makes him come to watch his daughter’s debut performance. The other detainees are also freed to watch the concert. Halfway through the song, Chieri passes the mike to Nagisa and wants her to take the lead. She kept thinking of not wanting to lose to her but realized they wouldn’t reach anyone if they’re against each other. Nagisa sees her parents watching and gets her voice back to take over from Chieri. Well, papa doesn’t seem too impressed. For the encore, all the Understudies begin singing the new song. Tsubasa realizes all the Kiraras are shining in radiance. The kind that was last seen when Acchan was around. Chieri’s Kirara splits itself.

A stray missile hits the centre stage but Kanata doesn’t want to directly fight back because they’ll leave it to Takamina and the rest to handle the defence. What they’ll do is go into spatial formation to decentralize their attacks. The Understudies split up and get close with their fans. Takamina is impressed with Kanata’s decision and feels the need to lend their radiance to their performance. After all, AKB0048 doesn’t fight. They show love. Okay, maybe disarming the DES guys is an exception. They don’t kill, right? Tsubasa sees a video of the holy grounds. To her surprise, the Kirara of succession replaces Kanata’s face back with Takamina. Her strong desire to protect the members and concert may have caused her soul to reflect closer to the original Takamina. Sensei-sensei suddenly starts murmuring about Centre Nova and all the pictures of the Understudies pop up. One of them or all of them? While singing and fighting against the DES enforcers, the Kiraras serve as a barrier to protect AKB0048 from heavy missiles. The Understudies could feel they are resonating as one and are shining brightly than ever. Mikako fears they will disappear and pleads for them not to shine anymore. To her surprise at the end, all of them are still around as they take their last bow. She notices sparkles in the sand and realizes it is dualium. The reason why the Centre Nova phenomenon occurred here. Nagisa has an emotional reunion with mommy but apologizes to daddy. He tells not to unless her conviction is that weak. More DES enforcements are arriving and since they can’t risk putting more danger to fans, they have to retreat. Daddy tells Nagisa that since she has abandoned this planet once, if her feelings are strong, make sure she doesn’t falter this time. Move forward and don’t look back. I guess that’s the green light for her to achieve her dream and bring hope of lifting the entertainment ban on Lancastar. The Understudies bid farewell to their loved ones, fans and even had time to sign some autographs before taking flight. Tsubasa informs the good news to Takamina and you can see how happy she is that she’s staying put. I guess Kanata will have to wait, huh?

Idols Save The Universe!
Not over yet! Looks like the path to being an idol is a long and treacherous road ahead. So much so we’ll have to wait for the sequel in early 2013 as announced right at the end of the final episode (which is right now at the time of this blog!). Certainly there are lots of things still left unexplained like who in the world is this Sensei-sensei, why was Chieri the only one to get her own Kirara from the start and it never really shone for her ever since, what really happened to Acchan and the Centre Nova position that was done away with. Hopefully the sequel will answer some of these questions and more. Yes, you could say that I would be very much inclined to catch it when the time comes. Provided if I haven’t lost my interest in AKB0048 then. Keep your fingers (and mine) cross. Not to say I am a convert and turned into a crazy fan of AKB48.

I guess the storyline is pretty decent. What more can you expect from an idol themed show? Not to say that I have watch lots of it but I guess what better way than to show the struggles and friendship among the girls in their quest to fulfil their dream. It is pretty ironic that despite they are all rivals among each other, in the end they are one big family and help each other out when needed. So the bottom line is that they’re all friends at the end of the day. That is the true spirit of friendship and what it takes to be in a group. Especially for a big group. Otherwise you would be going solo and even so, you can’t succeed without background support, right?

I thought this series would be focused on Nagisa and Chieri seeing that initially I was given the impression that they will be the stars of this series. Along the way, it takes a little detour to focus a bit on Kanata and see how she changes from one who sings for revenge to just one who sings because she loves and enjoys it. As proven, she could be the next leader for the next generation once the current one graduates but from what I see that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future unless the Kirara change their mind again. Chieri also has learnt to open up a little. She learns that it isn’t important who outshines who but rather if they don’t work together, neither of them is going to shine. Makoto is easily an amusing girl because of her pessimism. Ironically that pessimism has brought her this far but not without the help and support of the rest. It’s good that when it’s time to shine on stage, she doesn’t chicken out or wilt under pressure. She just does it fine like the rest. Suzuko may not talk much but her knowledge of AKB0048 is something to be revered. Even if she doesn’t dream of ending up as part of the front line singers, this debut helps her understand better how to support future members in the future. What better way to know things work by going through them yourself. I find Sonata annoying because she’s bratty. Asking her to grow up wouldn’t be right of me because she is after all the youngest in the group. Because of the extensive members in the group, it’s hard to give the rest their fair share of time. Like those from the 76th generation. They are a forgettable bunch if you don’t think much about them. I wonder if it’s appropriate to use the term of too many cooks spoil the broth here.

As we have seen, the path to become an idol isn’t all rosy and cushy. First of all, you’d never expect to see the idol wannabes to undergo combat training, right? Even if it looks very odd to see cute idols flying machines and fighting heavily armed robots, there is a good reason why idols should learn basic and ultimately advance self defence moves. Of course it is to protect themselves, duh. Even in real life this is a must because to take precautions from obsessed and maniacal fans. Though we don’t see any crazy fans here (Orine’s hater wasn’t one to a point where he would physically harm others), it is much different in real life because there are sick stalkers lurking just about everywhere. You can’t rely on your bodyguard (provided if you have one) for 24/7 so it is always best to rely on yourself. I know military training for idols seem like pushing it but for this sci-fi series, I think I’ll make this an exception. So dealing with outside threats isn’t the only obstacle to become an idol. There are threats that are within your circle too. For this series, there is a little rivalry and aversion between the 76th and 77th generation. It’s like survival with different camps. Despite the band having boasts the largest number of members at a single time, however keep in mind that the places are still limited. You definitely don’t want to be spending year after year as an Understudy and watch younger and newer generations pass you by, right? It’s like being a university ronin, no? Fortunately this series keep the cat fights to the minimum and mounting to nothing serious. Even when the b*tches dig up dirt on Chieri about her father’s company making DES robots, a little heart wavering here and there, some little talk here and there, before you know it, everything is back to normal and the issue was as though never brought up in the first place. And the most important of all for an idol to keep her place in the team is to practice, practice and more practice. Slip up a little and you’re out. There’s a bunch waiting in line who would be eager to take your place. Despite the rosy picture painted of an idol’s life, it’s still pretty much a dog-eat-dog-world.

I don’t really have qualms about the art and drawing of this series. Cute wide eyed girls, your typical bishoujo anime style. Even some of the background and scenery of some planets really give out that gloomy and miserable feel. See? No music, no life. However something really bugged me ever since I laid my eyes on the characters. They have this heart shaped as their pupils and also the heart shape mark on their hair. It’s nothing bad actually but I can’t seem to take my focus away from it. Like as though some force is making me stare at those hearts and can’t avert my eyes away. Maybe I need lots of love? Also, I find that the faces of the graduated members of AKB0048 to have that one-kind look. They look odd. Weird. Another odd thing is that during the concert performance, the animation shifts into CG so it feels a little odd to see the ‘3D’ girls dancing and prancing around on stage. I don’t know. I thought it felt a little lame and hence it would’ve been better if they kept it at 2D.

Action isn’t the biggest forte of the series but I guess it is pretty cool to see the girls kick ass. It must be embarrassing for those DES people to have spent trillions of dollars making those anti-idol machines only to be easily destroyed by the idols’ power of love. It shows you can’t beat that with violence, eh? Funnily, all of the missiles have this strike-out, no-idols logo. They really hate idols, do they? And the most amazing part? Nobody dies! Think about this, when the DES fires indiscriminately at AKB0048, the screaming fans below are no doubt caught in between. No stray missiles? No debris? Perhaps thank the Kiraras then for protecting everyone. And shouldn’t the ordinary people be running helter-skelter when the missiles start raining? They must really believe in their AKB0048 to brave the dangers and cheer them on, eh? After all, life is already so dead with the ban, so it’s better to die at a live performance. Shouldn’t people in oppressed areas just download music (legal or not is another story) instead of risking their lives to attend guerrilla concerts? Well, attending a live concert is definitely a totally different experience. The atmosphere, the crowd, the performers in the flesh. You can’t have that with a piece of mp3 file, eh?

Thus the biggest feature of this series would be the music that is AKB48’s style. Since I’m not a fan and have not heard of them prior to this anime so I can’t really compare and comment. To me they just feel like any other idol groups. Since this show is based on AKB48, it only makes sense that the seiyuus come from the real group itself, namely AKB48, SKE48 and NMB48. These real members voice the Understudies whereas the veteran seiyuus take on the role of the successors. They include Ryoko Shiraishi, Yui Horie, Mamiko Noto, Yukari Tamura, Ayako Kawasumi, Akemi Kanda, Kana Ueda, Mai Nakahara and Miyuki Sawashiro. It was a delight for me to able to spot many of the veteran seiyuus though it is a shame that many of them only had a few lines to speak throughout the entire series except for Ryoko Shiraishi since her Takamina character had the most screen time among the Successors. I also find it funny Daisuke Ono playing as Ushiyama. After hearing him voice so many gentleman-like characters, hearing his voice as an effeminate character just really feels odd. Many of the insert songs featured such as Aitakatta, Shoujotachi Yo and Beginner are sung by the actual AKB48 members. The opening theme, Kibou Ni Tsuite and the main ending theme, Yume Wa Nando Demo Umarekawaru on the other hand are credited to No Name (made up by the seiyuus of the 9 Understudies in the anime). Maybe it’s because the group are a mix of AKB48, SKE48 and NMB48 so it’s not appropriate to credit it to a single group and thus the new unit group is formed to sing this song written for this anime.

The idea that music as a tool to save the world may seem far-fetched but that can’t be help since this is an idol genre. But indeed that it is true that despite whatever language you are speaking, music is universal. Sometimes you don’t even need to know a language to like and enjoy a song. You can sing a song flawlessly memorizing all the words of another language without having to understand what it all means but still love singing it. Take my case for anime songs. I think up till today I don’t even understand 3/4 of what I’m singing. But that didn’t stop me from belting it out right? Despite I know how horrible I sound. No wonder I can only dream to be an idol. Well, keep dreaming. So if you want to say that music heals and changes people, this might hold true in this anime because as we see how the oppressed people light up just to know that AKB0048 has descend to bring you a delightful performance. DES enforcers were so obsessed in just taking AKB0048 down that they just leave the ordinary people alone. What can they do? If they were to ring in everybody who attended the guerrilla concert, the entire planet would have turned into a giant prison. Many of the characters also changed because of music. Kanata, Mamoru and ultimately Nagisa’s father. Not that he is totally accepting entertainment but at least he sees them in a more favourable light. So his decision to stay put in jail and not get busted out was right because it would’ve send wrong signals to authorities that AKB0048 is indeed a terrorist group. All the group ever needs to do to spread the love is just to perform and sing. That’s it. Leave the military combat and defence to the WOTA (some melee combat can’t be helped if the DES enforcers get too close). Here’s a thought.

While the ban on music may seem harsh and oppressive, if you think about it, there is a good reason why this entertainment ban came into effect. Entertainment is like art. And art is subjective. What constitutes art? So for instance when wild rock concerts go spiralling out of control with the crazy fans running amok, smashing things up and rioting, who are the ultimate losers eventually? Property broken and people injured, in order to stem such atrocities, a blanket ban is imposed. It is both good and bad. Thus it depends on which side you are and how much you can tolerate this entertainment subject. So what are the chances that the same kind of riot will break out at an idol concert? Sometimes too much love can be a bad thing. Too little love is also a bad thing. Therefore the lesson here is to do things in moderation and find the right balance and mix. It’s okay to like an idol but to a point that it is just creepily obsessed that an idol must conform to your standards and so and so, that’s not good. Idols are humans too. They may be the admiration of many but they certainly aren’t your property. It doesn’t give you the right to own them even you have bought all their CDs and memorabilia.

I won’t be catching on the AKB48 craze wave any time soon. Not going into Korean Wave either or American Idol (in fact I haven’t watch any season of it). Everyone has their own taste and pace in enjoying music though I have to thank this show for reigniting my passion to sing all those old anime songs that I once used to karaoke many years back. Ugh. This is what I sound like after long periods of no practice. Horrible. Not an idol material in the first place. At least I’m satisfied listening to them as they’re music to my ears. It’s a good thing that there is no total entertainment ban in almost every part of the real world. If that happens, the idols will have to come to see you. Right now with freedom of music, we have to go see them perform. Just one problem, though. The ticket is going to cost a bomb.

Maison Ikkoku

January 5, 2013

Seeing that this is one of those times where I decided to go and pick up a retro anime, looking back at all my years spent watching animes I thought what better way for me to pick one that has relation to the anime that got me interested in the world of anime. That anime was Ranma 1/2 and its author Rumiko Takahashi. An affluent manga artist with several great works under her name (it’s a shame that till this day I haven’t read a proper manga of any kind), the only adapted animes that I have watched were Ranma 1/2 and Inu Yasha. Thinking I needed to watch more old school type romance genre, that’s how Maison Ikkoku finally came to my watch list. On a side, note, Maison Ikkoku is the second manga created under name after Urusei Yatsura (she has a total of 8 as of today).

The plot is relatively simple. It focuses on a poor and down-on-his-luck college student Yuusaku Godai and his relationship with the manager of the boarding house called Maison Ikkoku, Kyoko Otonashi who is also recently widowed. As we know, love is never straightforward. Be it the feelings from their heart or the other love triangles and other ‘annoyances’ surrounding them that make everything more complicated and just hellish. That’s why you have 96 episodes for them to try and get it right. Will they? The romantic comedy may be almost similar to Ranma 1/2 but for this one, there are no martial arts or magic involved. Instead of high school kids, we have grownup young adults as the main casts. It is more grounded to earth and the romance leans more towards bitter sweet.

As this was a long running anime (ran from 1986-1988) and the different pace of the animes that were in those eras, as usual I had to rely on several sites to jog my memory. I guess in those days when the internet is still at its infant stage and there weren’t a glut of animes around like today, fans were more, how should I say it, truer and more dedicated. They spend enough time analyzing and discussing topics on their favourite manga as though they are the manga author themselves even posing possible answers to questions that the original manga author never had answers. It’s like as though they lived inside that story itself. There was one site on Maison Ikkoku for this and I was amazed at the details but it seems I can’t find it now :(. The other sites I ‘relied’ on to refresh my memory include good ol’ trusty Wikipedia,, reocities and Furinkan. So the rest are the brief opinions I have about this series. On what I remembered, that is.

Maison Ikkoku – Or Ikkoku-kan as it is known. The boarding house in Tokyo that has 6 rooms plus a room for the manager. The previous old guy suddenly quit citing he became tired of the job and thus the young and beautiful Kyoko takes over the job.

Yuusaku Godai – The resident of room number 5. From the perspectives of many despite being the main character, I can’t help label him a loser. Sure, he is poor and his family runs a ramen shop in the outskirts of Niigata. He failed his university entrance once and has to wait another year for another chance. It doesn’t help that the other residents are giving him a hell of a time so when he decides to leave, he bumps into Kyoko on her arrival as the new manager. Love at first sight. Decides to stay. Tries to win her love. Not easy, eh?

Kyoko Otonashi – Despite being the new, beautiful and kind manager of Maison Ikkoku, Godai is going to find her to love him back at lot harder (not that he confessed). That’s because her husband Souichirou had suddenly died. They were the perfect couple, hopelessly in love till his sudden departure in a brief marriage that hardly lasts a year. So can you blame her if she never wants to get into another relationship again? Well, they say time heals all wounds. But can she find the strength and courage to let go of her past and move on?

Souichirou – What a way to remember your husband than to name your dog after him. Bowow~. Why does this dog have ‘butt eyes’? And for the late husband, you’ll never ever get to see his real face. Conveniently hidden, eh?

Hanae Ichinose – The chubby married wife residing in room number 1. She loves drinking, getting drunk and what’s more she is loud and loves putting Godai down. Typical housewife of those days. She has a son named Kentarou who is probably more ‘mature’ than her and a husband whom we rarely see in the anime. Even if we do, we’d probably think he is some stranger.

Akemi Roppongi – The red haired beauty of room number 6. Works at a local bar called Chachamaru and has no qualms in showing off her body or flirting around. Oh, loves picking on Godai too. Speaking of Chachamaru, I thought the bar master looked like Charlie Chaplin…

Yotsuya – The most mysterious of the residents and resides in room number 4. Sometimes talks in poem form and nobody knows what exactly he does and even his first name. Probably wears lots of hats and lied about how his first name can be pronounced in which all of them might not be true. Loves harassing Godai too especially when both their rooms are adjacent to each other. Yeah, there is big hole in the wall enough for Yotsuya to slip in anytime to harass Godai and annoy the hell out of him.

The terrible trio from hell – Ichinose, Akemi and Yotsuya are what many would call terrible neighbours from hell. At least for Godai. They love picking on him, harassing and annoying him for their own pleasure and entertainment. They have no qualms in admitting that or shifting the blame back to him! So with Kyoko coming into the picture and trying to spice things further up, the harassment just got increased to a new level. Especially Godai always giving in to Yotsuya’s threat of treating him to meals. Another ‘trait’ that these trio have is the ability to party. They are wild party animals. They can party anywhere and love doing it in Godai’s room, disrupting his studies and peace. And they can leave the mess there for him to clean up. If it’s not in his room, it’s in the hallway. Yeah, you can’t stop them from partying hard. They have every sort of excuse to party. Whether if it’s to celebrate Godai’s success and if not, his failure, they just have a reason to party. Ichinose loves doing her chaka poko dance (whatever this is) and the rest getting drunk or doing some silly performances.

Sakamoto – Godai’s so called best friend and college mate. Sometimes he helps out, sometimes he is selfish. They’re like brothers. Sticking with each other through good and bad times, though I feel it’s more of the latter. Though a fan of Kyoko, he doesn’t harbour any romantic love interests.

First proclamation of love – Godai finally did it! He finally confessed he loves Kyoko! As early as the eighth episode! Unfortunately that was because he was drunk while celebrating his acceptance into college (finally). He thought he dance naked in front of Kyoko and retracted his statement, causing Kyoko to fall into depression and vowing never to fall in love again. Ooh…

Shun Mitaka – To get help get Kyoko overcome her depression, Ichinose suggests joining a tennis club. Thus herald the first love triangle and Godai’s rival for Kyoko. If you size up the guys, Godai is definitely way out of league compared to Mitaka because he has the looks, a stable job, a comfortable apartment and a sports car. Yeah, don’t even mention he is the kind of guy all the ladies would swoon over for (at least for those in the tennis club). And oh, he’s got this shining smile that really annoys you when he flashes them. His only weakness? He is afraid of dogs! How can he be Kyoko’s boyfriend if he can’t befriend the friendly Souichirou? This is going to be tough.

Kozue Nanao – To sustain his university life, Godai takes up a part time job and his employer has a daughter, kind hearted Kozue takes a liking for him. Because Godai doesn’t say, Kozue assumes that they are a couple. If only Godai had the guts to tell it straight to her then he wouldn’t have had so many conflicting moments with Kyoko. I mean, when she asks him out to date her, he doesn’t really say no. He couldn’t or he doesn’t want to?

Jealous woman – Though Kyoko does not admit her feelings but you can tell from her body reaction that she is indeed jealous when Godai goes out on a ‘date’ with Kozue. Because of that, she gets back at him by dating Mitaka.

The puppet club members – If Kozue is already a handful for jealous Kyoko, what’s more the puppet club members of Godai’s university made up mostly of girls made prank calls to the house making her feel even more jealous and enraged. As the manager’s room is the only place to have a telephone, this prompts Kyoko to install a pink pay-phone in the hallways.

Hit and miss – Godai successfully asks Kyoko out for a date when he gets his first pay. But because she misheard the name of the place, they end up waiting for hours with the other not turning up. And the irritancy is building up. Till they realize they’ve got it wrong, they ran all over town just to look for each other. Yeah, they kept missing each other.

Ikuko – Kyoko’s niece and the girl Kentarou has a crush on. Till she finds out she likes another boy. More surprisingly, Godai becomes her tutor! Can this guy be a proper one? I mean this raises lots of questions about his ability rather than morality. Hope he doesn’t teach her the wrong things. But one of his intentions to do so was to find out more about Kyoko’s late husband. It wasn’t anything much but I bet he was a better person than Godai is. Otherwise, why would Kyoko be still clinging on to his memories, right?

Kyoko resigns – Actually this is a ploy by Kyoko’s parents, Mr and Mrs Chigusa to bring Kyoko back from that filthy boarding house (they leave in a pretty decent apartment). Though their plans foiled, mommy even went down to Maison Ikkoku to convince everyone else with a sob story to make Kyoko resign. Let’s say that didn’t work out too.

Jealous woman part 2 – Because Godai still continues to ‘date’ Kozue, Kyoko arranges a date with Mitaka. However on her way to meet him, she saw him hugging a woman when in actual fact Mitaka was scared by a dog and in his reflex hugged a nearby woman. So she leaves and lets him wait all day long by himself and as for Godai, she throws a can right into his head!

Kyoko gets married – No way! That was what Godai heard but it’s his fault for not clarifying things before jumping to such conclusion. It is not Mitaka that Kyoko is getting married to but Mitaka requests her assistance in helping his sister prepare for her wedding.

Godai has left the building – Because of that misunderstanding, Godai leaves Maison Ikkoku and finds a place of his own to stay. Let’s say it’s much worse. Not only it’s above a pachinko store, the previous tenant refuses to move out. Furthermore the tenant is a married woman and with her husband they have no qualms in using Godai’s stuff like their own. They even pawned his stuff for money to gamble! So when Godai attempts to come back to Maison Ikkoku (because there is no point to continue living with those jerks), jealous Kyoko lies to say all the rooms, his and those that have been unoccupied now, have suddenly been occupied. Thankfully after seeing suffering in the cold streets with no place to return, she lets him back in.

Substitute parents – Ashamed of his parents (especially his rowdy mom), Kentarou requests Godai and Kyoko to pretend to be his parents for a day for his school’s sports day. But in the end, Godai sprained his ankle so his real parents are the one who end up joining the three-legged race and they win it!

My husband had an affair – While flipping through postcards, Kyoko finds a postcard that her late husband has sent to. Who is this woman he had been seeing before her? In the end, it turns out that woman is Kyoko herself. Did she note remember the postcard he sent to her? I mean, if she was so madly in love with him, whatever firsts they did, he had she would surely remember them all, right?

Yukari – Godai’s gold tooth grandma who is shorter than your knee. Yeah, her shiny smile can rival Mitaka’s. Worried about her grandson’s future, from time to time this sporting grandma visits Maison Ikkoku not only to take care of him but also to pressure him in settling down in life. So on her first visit, she makes Godai introduce his ‘girlfriend’ Kozue and wants him to settle down with her since after observing Kyoko and Mitaka, realistically there is no chance in this world Godai could ever beat that tennis coach. Yes, she wants him to give up on Kyoko. Will that guy ever listen to his grandma? At least not this one. He won’t give up Kyoko yet.

Run Godai, run! – An episode that has Godai and Kyoko going out on a ‘date’ but were being chased around town by the other Maison Ikkoku neighbours when they spot the duo together. Yeah, they had fun running away…

Mitaka x Kozue? – Kozue thought something is missing in her love life. Her relationship with Godai isn’t as romantic as she hoped to be. So she seeks Mitaka’s advice and of course he would want to make Kozue’s dream come true for this would increase his chance with Kyoko. When Godai gets wind about this, he thinks it’s time to break up with Kozue for good. He sees them at the restaurant and misinterpreted Mitaka’s words to break up properly. Unfortunately he did it the wrong way and increases his chances of Kozue staying by his side because she thinks he became more romantic with her.

Break a leg – Godai ends up in hospital after breaking his leg while falling off the roof to save Kyoko in one of their usual petty arguments. Kyoko feels guilty and takes it upon herself to care for him. I’m sure Mitaka isn’t happy with this setting. I’m sure Godai would love this private moment with Kyoko but that won’t last because Mitaka also broke his leg from skiing and ends up in the same hospital room with Godai. Yeah, they’re even getting on each other’s nerves. Even in bandages they can try and compete for Kyoko’s attention. Till Mitaka’s fan girls show up as well as Kozue. Get well boys. You don’t need Kyoko’s help anymore, don’t you? Perhaps the pain of the heart will take a longer time to heal.

Do or die – Because of Godai’s hospitalization, he has been slacking in his studies and the finals are coming up. Kyoko puts her foot down on the party trio who wants more than nothing but to interrupt Godai’s concentration. They really love to see him fail and repeat another year, right? So if they can’t party in Godai’s room, they party in Kyoko’s room. Yeah, she can’t sleep either but it’s better than bothering Godai. But on the last paper, Kyoko is supposed to wake him up but due to the partying, she oversleeps. By the time she rushes Godai to the exam hall, everything was in vain. It is then she decides to tell him that she is willing to wait for him. Is this a declaration of something?! Till Sakamoto points out he handed him the wrong exam schedule and that his exam hasn’t started yet. Bummer. Didn’t Godai make sure of at least his schedule right? Now Kyoko is left red faced but Godai perhaps is too dense after all that studying to understand what she meant.

Will the real Yotsuya please stand up? – Kentarou finds an album containing pictures of Yotsuya. Man, he’s been there through all the ages! Are they clones?! Or are they the person himself in different eras?! Even if Yotsuya points out they are his uncles, etc, there is something more than meets the eye… Later on, they even tried tailing him but they see him going everywhere and doing about everything which is so odd, they aren’t even sure anymore. Till they realized he knew they were following him and led them on a wild goose chase.

It’s all on me – Godai and Sakamoto get a part time job at a bar. Unfortunately his neighbours decide to crash in and eat everything they can, making such rowdy and loud noises. Worse, they put it all on Godai’s bill! Unfortunately Godai is too weak to tell them off or even get rid of them. Kyoko felt bad and wanted to pay but ends up drunk and vomited. In the end, Godai pays for everything and this doesn’t sit well with Kyoko.

Who let the dogs out? – In an attempt to help Mitaka over his fear of dogs, what better way than to make him face his fears with a real one. Though we get a peek of his back story of how he became of dogs (he got stuck in a kennel while trying to retrieve a ball), in the end it cures nothing and perhaps it made him even more fearful of canines.

Zenzaburou Mitsukoshi – Maison Ikkoku gets a new resident with this middle aged guy who is staying at room number 3. This guy seems like a nice person and thankfully he won’t become part of the terrible trio. Then something terrible is about to befall on Maison Ikkoku. It is going to be demolished to make way for a new building. They learn that Mitsukoshi may have connections with the real estate agency and pretended to be a resident to scout things out. In the end, Mitsukoshi felt guilty on what he is about to do to the lovely people at Maison Ikkoku and resigned. He also leaves the house and never to return. In a way, it saved Maison Ikkoku from its doomed fate.

WTF episodes – Like it says. Not that it affects the storyline but it felt like fillers. For instance during Godai’s university cultural festival, Kyoko fell into an artificial well in a haunted house. Attempts to get her out failed big time because Godai and Mitaka are competing against each other and it ends with everyone else jumping in and crowding the already cramped well. Then there is this episode whereby Godai wakes up with a gift of a mysterious egg from Yotsuya. Knowing the kind of guy he is, they take precautions to decipher the meaning of it all while trying to protect the egg. What for?! Then in the end when Sakamoto eats it and gets stomach ache, it felt like he deserved it for putting funny things in his mouth before asking. It is nice having an episode focusing on other characters in Maison Ikkoku apart from the main ones. For the one that focuses on Akemi whereby her boyfriend suddenly dumps her for another girl, she becomes depressed. Drunk rather. Then when the boyfriend suddenly wants her back and to start anew, Akemi seemingly packed her bags to leave Maison Ikkoku. In the end, she feels this piece of sh*t isn’t worth her time and dumps him. Right back at ‘ya! But really, what was the point of it all? Then there is this one whereby Kyoko decides to put on her old high school uniform so the rest got into the flow and dress up too in other outfits. It ends with Kentarou turning into a psycho because Kyoko, the person whom he thought he could trust as a normal person is seen in such outfit (she was forced too) and felt so disappointed for her. Poor kid. Your mom is one kind, the residents are one kind and now the manager is also one kind. He can no longer trust anybody. Then there is this episode whereby Kyoko received a mysterious rock from Souichirou as her only gift. She seeks Godai’s help to find out what it was but he loses it at the train. Fortunately he found it back. And that baseball episode… Don’t get me started on that. WTF.

Let the competition begin – Some ‘filler’ episodes see the tussle between Godai and Mitaka over Kyoko as they try to outdo each other to get her attention while trying to play up the romance factor. There was one episode that has the gang skating at an ice rink, another one at the beach during the summer vacation and one at some local hotspring inn (I thought this inn felt cheap). Oh, that hospitalization episode mentioned earlier also counts.

All is not lost – While visiting Souichirou’s grave, Kyoko makes this shocking announcement that she might consider remarrying. I guess dead man can’t talk back, eh? But I think it’s good because if she really wants to achieve happiness, she shouldn’t wallow in her tragic past and move forward.

Godai the teacher! – Can you believe it?! Godai has become a trainee teacher! How in the world?! He hasn’t even completed his university yet and he already had the necessary qualifications to teach an all-girls’ high school?! The way Godai has been portrayed as an under-achiever has contributed to this bias perception. But really. Of all the jobs, he decides to be a teacher?

Ibuki Yagami – To spice things up in the love triangle, one of Godai’s students is in love with him. Compared to Kyoko, she is bolder and dares make her moves on Godai. There is one point she strips herself just to seduce him! How about barging in and staying at Maison Ikkoku to live with him? It feels like a test on how strong his love for Kyoko is, eh? Yagami is a stubborn girl and not one who will give in to defeat and declares war right in Kyoko’s face. Kyoko has been in her shoes before seeing that her late husband was once a teacher. Yeah, it’s like history repeating itself. This school Yagami goes is also where Kyoko once schooled. When Godai’s trainee term ends, will Yagami’s love for him also end?

Asuna Kujou – Mitaka’s uncle is tired of waiting for his nephew to settle down in life and goes ahead to plan a marriage meeting with the daughter of a noble family. Mitaka decides to take a look since Kyoko remains indecisive. Though Asuna is ready to make Mitaka the man of her life, Mitaka isn’t. His love for Kyoko is only half the factor. The other half is because Asuna is a dog lover! She has lots of dogs! Big and small! And they’re friendly enough to glomp all over Mitaka! I think this guy will die of a heart attack. Asuna on the other hand knows Mitaka likes Kyoko but is just too shy to tell her off despite having several chances to do so.

It’s not what you think it is – Kyoko visits Mitaka’s apartment after feeling sorry for the ‘hell’ he went through. Worried Godai and Asuna tail them. Because Asuna’s little doggie was in the room, Mitaka got scared and hugged Kyoko all over. You can pretty guess what happens when Godai and Asuna see this.

Jealous Guy – Now it’s Godai’s turn to feel jealous and he lives at Sakamoto’s place for the time being, not even wanting to talk to Kyoko. Till Sakamoto kicks him out. So when he eventually makes his way back to Maison Ikkoku, he doesn’t even want to listen to Kyoko’s explanation and lies that he has no feelings for her.

Take a trip – Since Godai did confirm that he is okay without her, Kyoko goes on a trip for a change of scenery and clear her mind. This is an attempt to make Godai chase after her. So after when that guy really finally decides to find the truth, he goes after her but kept missing her. Deja vu? So when they actually meet, it is at the hotspring. So after a lot of hesitating and beating round the bush, Godai learns the truth and feels like an idiot (he should be). Next morning, Kyoko leaves for home since she learns about plumbing problems at Maison Ikkoku while leaving Godai sleeping behind. She is happy to find out that Godai did actually come after her and their meeting wasn’t just coincidence.

Yagami’s back! – Whoever said she was done for after a few episodes absent? Now she’s back with more schemes than ever to make Godai all hers. She tricks him into tutoring her ‘brother’ (she ‘borrowed’ this kid from her friend) but when he finds out he is supposed to tutor her, he can’t refuse since he can’t pay back the tuition fees. Godai can’t concentrate on his tutoring because of the constant harassing of the others and Yagami preferring to do something else. For Godai’s final tutoring session, Yagami brings him to her home but apparently Godai falls yet into another of her trap since her parents are out to a wedding and they came home early. Plus, they don’t know about Yagami’s tutoring and when you have an over-protective father… Attempts to let Godai escape almost had them caught. If not for Yagami’s understanding mother helping them out, Godai could’ve been a goner even if everything wasn’t his fault. He only left his shoes behind in which Yagami will treasure them. But this gives her a reason to return to Maison Ikkoku. She wants to return Godai’s shoes. Seeing he is always not around, she bumps into Yotsuya who has this great idea. He becomes her tutor. Since having her tutoring in his room would be dangerous and that they don’t want to be accused of peeping, where else but to hold it in Godai’s own room? Of course Yagami is not happy Kyoko keeps coming into the room to ‘interrupt’ and blames her for her declining grades after she learns Kyoko has told her homeroom teacher about her frequent visits to Maison Ikkoku.

McEnroe – Mitaka must be desperate enough to get over his fear of dogs and he finally has done so by owning a little doggie named after a famous tennis player. Yeah, the dog has shiny tooth too.

A hunting we will go – Although Godai still has university classes, it isn’t too early to begin his job hunt. What are the chances of him landing one?

Lipstick on your collar, tell a tale on you – How in the world did Godai get a lipstick mark on his neck? Actually, Sakamoto got depressed when his girlfriend dumped him so Godai went over to console him. Who knows that bugger dreamt about his girlfriend and bit Godai in the neck which looks very much like a love bite. So you could imagine a person like Kyoko jumping to conclusions over it. Besides, Godai was trying to be evasive about it. More like, he didn’t want to know that his job hunt didn’t end well and end up working part time at a hotel’s pool side in which coincidentally the gang are all here. Kyoko’s jealousy has her leg getting cramp while swimming and Godai goes to save her. After that, all is forgiven. I guess words aren’t enough to just convince.

Your job is on the line – Yagami reveals her father is the HR chief of a big corporation and is willing to help Godai secure a job. She even has Godai take her home to meet her father to make good impressions to arrange for an interview. Unfortunately, daddy was to drunk at the end of the day to remember who Godai was. After all that pestering and reminding, daddy doesn’t have a very nice impression on Godai because he thinks he is using her daughter to get a job in the corporation. He will be waiting for him to grill his ass. However fate has other plans for Godai. On his way, a woman in labour seeks his help and the ambulance thought he was her husband and brings him along to the hospital. There goes his interview. There goes his job. There goes his future. But at least the delivery is successful and the baby’s mother is ever grateful to him. Godai never turned up and Yagami’s dad thought he chickened out or was just fooling around. Of course Godai himself becomes depressed and locks himself up in his room. Till Yagami’s dad arrives to accuse him of using his daughter. Till the grateful parents arrive to thank Godai once more. It is then Yagami’s dad discovered he had been wrong but because he didn’t turn up for the interview, all the positions have been filled.

Occupy Maison Ikkoku! – When news of Godai never turned up for the interview and how the turn of events were unfair to Godai, Yagami throws a tantrum and locks herself in Godai’s room and will not return till her father secures him a job. In the mean time, Godai has to stay at the unoccupied room number 3. Even mommy comes by to persuade her to return but she’s not budging. She even skips school just for this occupy movement.

Easy come, easy go – Yagami’s father cannot tolerate her daughter’s selfishness and will need to end it. That is, to give Godai a job. Since he can’t secure him in the main company, he gives him an offer letter to a subsidiary company which is good enough. He even meets Godai himself and finds out he is not in love with his daughter, much to his relief. Yagami isn’t happy with the small job but daddy threatens to pull back the recommendation. With that, the occupy movement ends as Yagami returns with her father. That night as everybody celebrates Godai’s big break, they heard the news that several companies are going bust and this includes the one Godai is going to work for. Bummer.

It’s not that I hate you – Mitaka thinks Godai’s string of bad luck means it’s time to move ahead with Kyoko and end things with Asuna as he pays her a visit. That girl has been love sick ever since. That was like how many episodes ago?! Mitaka’s uncle tries to use his nephew’s absence by trying to make Kyoko dump that guy but realizes the love is unrequited. Initially Mitaka realizes Asuna’s condition and feels it is bad timing to break it off with her but when he learns about his uncle’s scheme, he tells her straight he can’t marry her. I think she nearly died standing! So this has Mitaka take back his words that it isn’t that he hates her but he can’t marry her now. I wonder how long that breather will last.

Day care job – Yagami thinks of having another occupy movement but it seems Godai has accepted a job offer at a local day care centre. This may be surprising too but Godai seems to be handling the young kids well and he is becoming very popular with them.

Sometimes you have to be brave to say no – After another round of bugging by Yagami, her dad once more hands in another offer letter to Godai and guarantees this company won’t go bankrupt. However Godai rejects his offer because he wants to walk his own path in life and rely more on himself. He has second thoughts about working in a place he may not be happy with because right now, the day care seems to be the best place. Since Sakamoto thinks Godai is crazy to turn down such a good deal, he wants to take the offer instead. Oh well…

Wedding bells? – Kyoko pays her annual visit to Souichirou’s grave with her parents from both sides. Mitaka takes this chance to introduce himself to Kyoko’s parents and while mommy is okay with it (she is happy with any decent guy as long as her daughter gets married) but her father isn’t (as long as it’s any guy, it’s a no). Mommy is even happier when Kyoko did mention her intentions to remarry again. Mitaka ushers them for a drink so Godai hiding behind the grave hears Kyoko’s announcement that she will stay single till next spring.

Cabaret chronicles – Because Godai’s job at the day care is so successful, he went on a celebration drinking spree with Sakamoto till they have no money to pay their bill. To work off this debt, Godai is forced to work with Sakamoto outside a cabaret to bring in customers. However one of the regular customers is Sakamoto’s employer so he ditches everything to poor Godai and lets him take care of his part of the debt. Some friend he is. Furthermore, Godai doesn’t want to let Kyoko know about this improper job and hides it from while lying that he is in the midst of finding a proper one. This secret is getting harder and harder to keep when his neighbours start to patron the cabaret and put it all on his tab. Yeah, free drinks for the entire night. For consecutive nights! This way I think Godai will never finish paying off his debt! Even Yagami manages to get a job there till Godai’s colleague, Iioka finds out she is just a high school girl and because of their company’s policy not to hire underage girls, Yagami’s bunny suit adventure ends that very night. Godai wanted to tell Kyoko about the truth but unknown to him, Kyoko already saw him at the cabaret while she was out with Mitaka. Yagami even told her about it. Of course she gets mad for lying to her. Kyoko then goes to find out why Godai stopped working at the day care and it seems because Godai was hesitant in accepting the full time job offer, they have already got someone else to fill in that position. However at the same time Godai himself is doing babysitting job in the cabaret’s nursery since all those female staffs have kids but no time and experience to care for them. Who else does a better job than Godai? Yeah, he’s got experience. Plus, all the kids love him and call him Chief. So with Kyoko knowing the truth, it’s forgiving time again and tells him he should be more honest with her, good or bad news. She’s not one to say either…

It’s not over yet – To Mitaka’s dismay, Asuna becomes a student of his tennis class. He even learns his uncle still has intention to wed him off and in the midst of planning their engagement. Mitaka goes to Asuna’s house to settle this once and for all but his uncle has come prepared. He has brought Mitaka’s own parents so he is forced to wait to put things off once more. Yeah, he can’t imagine if Asuna suddenly slits her own throat. What fiery imagination he had there…

Runaway love – Is there another woman eyeing Godai? This girl working at the cabaret, Kasumi seems to be seducing Godai. But in actual fact, it’s a ploy to leave her kids with him so she could run away with some lover! I think I remember it was a journey to see whether this guy is suitable to be her husband or not. Godai is forced to take care of them till she returns. But as time passes, doubts are growing if she ever will till she pops up right in Maison Ikkoku. She had been waiting for them there the entire time and got knocked out due to last night’s excessive partying with you-know-who.

Set up – While Godai was out babysitting Kasumi’s kids, this was what Kyoko went through. Kyoko agrees to meet up with her parents thinking it’s to celebrate her father’s birthday despite not knowing this is a setup between Mitaka and Kyoko’s mother for both sides of the family to meet at a posh hotel. Godai’s suspicion has him tail them but his legs can’t beat Mitaka’s sports car because Mitaka whisks Kyoko away to another place. He has reserved for them to stay at this place and will not make her leave till she opens her heart to his. However Kyoko remains indecisive to a point where she starts crying. Since Mitaka isn’t heartless, he won’t push it further and calls a taxi for her to go home.

Final fight – Godai and Mitaka plan to settle things over Kyoko via fist fight. Well, I guess this is the only ways guys are willing to settle things if they can’t talk it out. Thankfully the policeman finds them suspicious and keeps tailing them to prevent the slugfest. So the duo eventually drink their problems away with each other till they’re drunk. Because Godai have an important exam that will make or break him from his university’s graduation. Worried Kyoko goes out to find Godai only to see him drunk and slaps him. So when Godai doesn’t return and stays at the cabaret to concentrate on his finals, the other residents start pressuring Kyoko to make her feel guilty that her slap made him leave. They just love seeing this drama, eh?

The night before – Mitaka returns home only to see Asuna at his place but passes out over her. She tries to put a heavier person back in bed but as she struggles, their lips accidentally met. Next morning Mitaka finds Asuna has left but made breakfast. Did something happen in between? Fearing he might have gone too far with Asuna, he goes to see her but she was quite ambiguous with her words. Asuna’s mother has learnt what happened via Asuna’s driver but was assured that nothing more than a kiss happened.

Knocked up – Asuna’s dog Salad is pregnant so she happily tells Mitaka about the pregnancy. This is the trouble when you don’t make it clear. Mitaka fears that he has done the unthinkable. Realizing he needs to take responsibility, he prepares himself to marry Asuna. Oh the words she longed to hear. Painful as it seems, Mitaka meets Kyoko for one last time to say goodbye. She wishes him for all the best. After the engagement party, Mitaka learns the real truth about the pregnancy. During the night Asuna helped drunk Mitaka to bed, Salad and McEnroe had a fling. Imagine how devastated Mitaka must be feeling right now. He is paying the price because his dog screwed with some other b*tch! Haha! Take responsibility! I guess this is really too late for everything to be called off. So Mitaka has to make do with what he has now. Since he is going to spend the rest of his life with Asuna, might as well begin a new love story with her. Thus he accepts her and this brings an end to a love triangle and shouldn’t it be easier for Godai to take on Kyoko now with his main rival out of the picture?

Surprise kiss – After a very long absence, Kozue returns (what was she doing all the while?) and she is shocked to hear a close friend of hers proposed to her. She needs time to think. In a dilemma because she still has feelings for Godai so she goes to talk to him. Because that guy didn’t make it clear they should break up, Kozue thought he proposed to her and will reject the other guy’s proposal! Now look at the mess he’s gotten deeper into. The messier part is yet to come. While taking a stroll, Kozue wants him to close his eyes. Like the obliging kid he is, he obliges and surprisingly Kozue kisses him! Guess who saw that too! So when Godai returns to Maison Ikkoku having finished his exams, Kyoko is in a pretty bad mood. She doesn’t say, he doesn’t get it. Till he learns about that kiss, he tries to explain to her he got tricked but how can you persuade a woman who already has closed her mind? Well, Kyoko did the same trick on him and he gullibly falls for it. Only difference is that she didn’t kiss him but pulls his cheeks.

Surprise proposal – Just when Godai thought everything has been settled, then comes Kozue barging into the gang’s party at Chachamaru in tears. Why? She couldn’t turn her friend’s proposal down and accepted it. So? That’s because Godai proposed to her and now she’s in a fix. Oh sh*t! More precisely, Godai is the one in a fix. Guess what? The hardest slap he’s ever got from Kyoko.

The incredible sulk – Once more, Kyoko closes her heart and mind, not willing to hear him out. She moves out from Maison Ikkoku seeing Godai won’t do that. She takes refuge at her parents’ place and despite Godai coming to see her, she refuses to see him.

Substitute manager – Kyoko’s father tells Ikuko’s grandpa that Kyoko has resigned so he thinks Kyoko has done enough and is happy of her services. He already has hired a substitute manager for Maison Ikkoku: Godai. Yeah, life is getting tough when you have those irresponsible trio piling up the garbage and partying 24/7. This place was a pig sty during Kyoko’s absence (it’s amazing the amount of beer cans and trash they can accumulate) and Godai is having a hard time cleaning up their mess after mess. Because he is so busy, he can’t go visit Kyoko’s parents and try convincing her to come home. Speaking of which, Kyoko now gets worried and wishes Godai to come. Women…

Akemi x Godai? – The next big shock is yet to come. Godai gets this sudden call from Akemi to come to some location. Like the good boy he always is, he cannot say no and arrives at… A love hotel! You don’t want to know what she’s doing there but she thought Godai was going to harass or do something on her! Wait. She doesn’t remember calling him for help? But it’ll be bad if anybody sees them coming together. Speaking of which, there is. Kozue! What the hell is she walking in this area with her friends for? So shocked of what she saw, she pretended she didn’t know him.

The incredible sulk part 2 – Just when Kyoko decides to leave for Maison Ikkoku, she happens to bump into Kozue on the way. The distraught girl seeks solace in Kyoko. Kozue never thought Godai had feelings for other girls because he was so kind to her, it never crossed her mind and took for granted that he likes her. Well, you’re not quite right about that too. So when Kyoko learns the other girl is Akemi and the love hotel incident, you can pretty guess how Kyoko will act. For the record, Godai went to the love hotel to help Akemi pay for her bill after her previous customer left her. Because Kozue misinterpreted what she saw and tired of Kyoko’s indecisiveness, Akemi did ‘threaten’ that she will seduce Godai. Of course Akemi wasn’t serious in having a relationship with that loser.

Confessions of love – With Kyoko still acting like a kid, Akemi tells her straight and the truth that they indeed came out of the love hotel together but that was much about it. Still, Kyoko tries to act tough and runs away. Godai chases after her and catches up to explain. This is when Godai confesses he has loved her ever since they first met.

Goodbye Kozue – When Kozue learns about the real truth and sees Godai at the cabaret, Godai thinks she wants to get back with him. Godai finally makes it clear he is in love with someone else and this made Kozue relieved. She shows him the engagement ring she got. During the madness, she accepted the other guy’s proposal. He’s not a bad person himself and loves her very much. She is here to say goodbye and hopes they won’t part with him hating her. So they wish each other the best and with all the love rivals gone, the only obstacle and toughest part will be the main duo themselves.

Things are looking up – Guess what? Godai graduates from university! Yeah, the other tenants were hoping he flopped! So Godai goes job hunting and during an interview to work in a kindergarten, the interviewer notices Godai’s amazing ability to handle kids well. Unfortunately he didn’t get the job because she is sure his personality could land him a job anywhere (that job went to a single father whose wife left the family so I guess out of pity she gave him the job instead). It won’t take long before Godai gets a permanent job at the day care he had always been working part time because the headmaster feels he is too old for the job and thinks it is time to retire. Oh, and about if Godai could match up to Souichirou because he has always been living in his shadows, although Kyoko can’t forget him, she still wants to make the best of what she has with Godai. After all, they are both different person. And the moment we’ve been waiting for: The kiss! Woot!

Father of the bride – While Kyoko’s mom is all for their marriage, her father isn’t. Flashback reveals when Kyoko was a kid and daddy giving her a piggyback ride, Kyoko said she won’t marry because daddy mentioned her husband will have to carry him if Kyoko couldn’t carry him when she grows older. It’s just a joke but you know… So eventually a few drinks with Godai and the cabaret, he gives his blessings.

Till death do us part? – There is one condition that Kyoko imposes on Godai if they are to marry. She wants him to outlive her because she can’t bear the pain of losing her husband again.

Meet the parents – Godai brings Kyoko back to his hometown to meet his family but Yukari doesn’t close the shop down and to Godai’s annoyance Kyoko has to help out but she doesn’t mind. This is so that everybody in this small town could come to their shop and meet Godai’s future bride instead of going from door to door. Yukari hands Kyoko an engagement ring her late husband gave to her. She also loans money to Godai for his wedding. But it’s not for free. She has been saving up for her funeral so be sure to pay back before she kicks the bucket, okay? Cheeky Yukari fakes her death right after she passes the ring the Kyoko. It almost scared the sh*t out of the young ones. She vows not to die till she sees her first great grandkids. And with Kyoko being accepted into the family, Godai thought they could have a celebration of their own when the Maison Ikkoku residents arrive! Oh God. Yukari called them over. Oh God. The more the merrier? Oh God. Isn’t this no different than back home? God no. Who is taking care of Souichirou anyway?

One year later – That is how long Kyoko and Godai’s wedding official ceremony will be. Everybody is so happy. Everybody is so friendly. I guess when the rivalry dies down, love remains, eh? If it was only so true in the real world. Oh, Kentarou and Ikuko have grown much taller too while Mitaka and Asuna are expecting twins. The one that has ‘grown’ the most is Godai because as shown during his visit to Souichirou’s grave, he is willing to accept him and Kyoko because when they first met, Souichirou already had a special place in Kyoko’s heart.

One big happy family – Because Godai and Kyoko aren’t really the kind that would indulge in luxury (that’s another way of saying Godai is still as poor as a church mouse), the newlyweds will continue to live at Maison Ikkoku. After all, this is the place where they first met, right?

It’s a wrap – Some important events in the aftermath surrounding the other main supporting casts include Kozue still happily married to her man, Mitaka and Asuna though already have twin girls are expecting a third child, the Chachamaru bar master proposes to Akemi in marriage and despite he was previously married he was living separately from his wife but now officially divorced, Yagami now attends a girl’s college but she is still unable to ‘graduate’ from Godai. Last and most important, Godai and Kyoko welcome their new baby girl Haruka. Life is good.

Give Love A Second Chance
If there is one word I would describe this series, it would be silly. Actually it’s not fair just to label it that way but after seeing too many current animes, suddenly by going back too far in retro (albeit it is just approximately 3 decades), it is like a different world, a different time and era. I mean, handphones were non-existent! Do you still remember how to use a phone booth that is coin operated and a land line telephone that uses the dial? Or are you not old enough like me to still remember that telephones were big and bulky and come with a receiver? Hehe… Such telephones are considered ‘extinct’ in today’s world. What will we do without our iPads, iPhones and Tablets? Well, animes at that time were like that so it is perhaps unjust to call it silly too but if you compare it with today’s standard of animes, you too would come with a somewhat similar condition. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of the series and the author herself.

For Godai, the point of seeing him as a loser can be sometimes annoying despite he is a nice guy and doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of others. Firstly it is the way he gets treated by the other hell residents. Of course it is their fault for trying to pick on Godai with their endless harassments but half of the blame must also be attributed to Godai because he allows it! You see, if he was firmer and put their foot down, he wouldn’t have given them any space to torment him. In other words, he is weak to stand up against them. That’s why I say it is partly his fault and he deservingly gets bullied by the rest. But even if he was totally serious, can he really stop the bullying? I mean, Kyoko was more assertive and though it worked for a while, in no time they will be back to their usual mischief like as though her advice and scolding went in one ear and came out the other. Heck, it never went in the first place! Earlier in the series when Godai is a little pervert because whenever he gets a little chance of trying to hug Kyoko or something, it backfires. That is one of the few aspects which led me to conclude this series is silly. No doubt that in the beginning, Godai’s love for Kyoko is somewhat immature and as he goes on, he understands and his love matures but the way he tries to get lucky with Kyoko, that just made him and the scene looking silly. Then despite in love with Kyoko, could you believe this guy had the guts to ‘date’ Kozue too? I know Godai did not make it clear but each time Kozue asks him out, he doesn’t say no and like as though it is compulsory to oblige. There was this silly moment early in the series whereby even though he knows he likes Kyoko, he is in a dilemma whether to use this chance to kiss Kozue and get it going with her. Fortunately it was just his imagination but he perhaps scared himself when he also imagined her dad coming in with the shotgun after ‘deflowering’ his daughter. Haha.

As for Kyoko, her reluctance to choose between Godai and Mitaka was because she feared that if she had done so, her love for Souichirou was never real to begin with. That’s why she was hesitating, unable to choose. Rather, she was unable to move forward from her past. There were many instances that hint to us that Kyoko had feelings for Godai but it is her hesitation that kept her in denial. And you know women, they can’t be straight with their feelings and hope men will notice them. Oops. Don’t hate me girls. The part whereby she closes her heart and mind just because of an unconfirmed rumour of Godai is also what makes it looks silly. Sorry for that ‘S’ word again but it’s true. I know it’s to play out some love drama but think about it. If she could easily believe something like Godai was seen coming out from a love hotel or his ‘date’ with Kozue, why can’t she at least hear him out? It is as though she really wants to believe that Godai has already done that. And once she really learns the truth, she feels guilty, sorry and in the wrong. All those misunderstandings and arguments wouldn’t have happened if she had listened in the first place. Same case applies to Godai. You shouldn’t jump to conclusion just because something unbelievable happens without confirming the facts first. I guess people back in those days were naive and gullible. Too many misunderstandings over time have become a nuisance because you thought they should’ve had experience from the previous one but each time it feels like back to square one again. They should know better each other that they aren’t the kind to do such stuffs.

Ichinose, Yotsuya and Akemi as the looney gang may be a fun watch to see them in their antics and shenanigans but it gets to a point whereby it is just annoying and you feel like wanting to strangle them for not being able to show restraint and going overboard with their indecent exploits. Sometimes the words they pick and say to him makes you want to shake your head too. They sure are ‘experienced’ in picking on him and know how to push the right or more accurately, his wrong buttons. They know how to play mind games on him and make him tick. Sure, like I said Godai is to blame for being weak and not fighting back but have they no conscious as human beings either? Maybe for Yotsuya he is so mysterious I can make him an exception (who knows, he may even be an alien!), but for Ichinose and Akemi? Is Ichinose’s life as a housewife so dull and boring that this is the only exciting drama she gets her kicks from? Yeah, maybe. Is Akemi’s life as a bar hostess that has her dealing with other different sorts of men so boring that she resorts to teasing Godai as her past time? Yeah, maybe. At least we know she doesn’t harbour any romantic feelings for him because she knows too well about his failures and won’t live up to expectations. Not for the next 100 years. One thing about Yotsuya, I think he is a stingy poker. Not only he blackmails Godai for food, when he really does have enough money for his own, he vehemently proclaims he will not treat anybody! Maybe after all those bullying it did some good for Godai too. Like a blessing in disguise, he finally ends up with Kyoko after all the putting down and discouragement. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? So love did persevere after all in the end. Yukari may be an old hag but she is sporting enough to join in the fun like going out for drinks and looks livelier than her age. You can’t help love her. I’m sure everyone would love to have her as their grandma. Except Godai.

For the love triangle and romance part, though it is not messy and complicating like others but I didn’t feel the impact of it all. Though the series may want to focus on the relationship between Godai and Kyoko but the other love triangles didn’t had that intensity that would stir emotions in the viewers. Maybe it’s because it’s a retro show. The only time when the tension was at its peak was Kozue’s announcement that made Godai looked like a two-timing bastard. The other thing that bugged me was the love triangle for Godai and Kyoko could only happen one at a time. You see, when Yagami first came into the picture, Kozue was nowhere to be seen. It makes you go, “Where the hell is this girl? Did I miss anything somewhere along the way?”. Then after the job offer refusal and that short stint at the cabaret, Yagami suddenly goes out of the picture and Kozue comes back. Yeah, where did she go all this while? So in this sense, the love tussle felt like it was Godai-Kyoko-Kozue or Godai-Kyoko-Yagami. It would’ve been better if Kozue and Yagami were together in the fray because that’s what guys like me would like to see. Oops. As far as I remember, it was only the baseball episode that Kozue and Yagami met but nothing much happened and that’s about it. When the story starts ‘killing off’ love rivals like Mitaka and Kozue, I was wondering how they ‘did it’ to Yagami. It’s not like she has really gotten over Godai as seen in the end so how was she keeping all that love for him? I hope she won’t come back to steal him once more now that he is married. Who knows? This girl is crazy enough to do that. Asuna was too shy and soft spoken to actually affect anything in the love triangle. She wouldn’t even cause a ripple in the pool. It took their dogs and a big misunderstanding on Mitaka’s part to make all the cards fall into her hands. If that never happened, she would’ve been waiting till kingdom come. Mitaka may have everything that would easily make a woman his girl and yet Kyoko couldn’t choose. Of course Souichirou’s memories play a big role but more importantly it is Godai. Maybe girls like boys who aren’t perfect anyway. But Souichirou was perfect, wasn’t he? Argh. Women. Can’t understand them. Good luck to Godai from now on.

I’ll say that even though in the end I would still prefer Ranma 1/2 to Maison Ikkoku from the overall aspect (the characters, comedy, silly moments, love triangles, certain story plots, music), the only reason why I would like Maison Ikkoku more than Ranma 1/2 is because Godai and Kyoko finally confess to each other and end up together married. In Ranma 1/2, despite having a longer run and more episodes (they have 161 episodes alone for the TV series), the main lovers in that series never got to really confess to each other so it is quite frustrating. I’m not sure if they manage to do so in the manga or other video formats (I’m sure they do because the manga has long ended – however there is a slight chance that I could be wrong) but give them another 100 episodes and I think they still won’t be able to do it. Maybe the love polygon is more complex but that isn’t the point. Maison Ikkoku manages to wrap things in under 100 episodes. But there is a good reason why Ranma and Akane never confessed in the TV series. While Ranma 1/2 was on air, the manga was still ongoing unlike Maison Ikkoku which already ended its run when its anime adaptation was halfway running. Besides, Maison Ikkoku’s manga has much lesser chapters compared to Ranma 1/2.

As I later found out, there are some differences between the anime and the manga. One big difference in the anime is the omission of the character named Nozomu Nikaidou. He is the resident of room number 2. His omission was due to the decision that the producers wanted to focus the series more on Godai and Kyoko (as I too learnt, the manga itself has an arc dedicated to tell his story). Therefore most of his lines are given to Yotsuya and Kentarou in the anime. It could’ve been real messy if this guy was put into the anime because unlike Godai, he retaliates Yotsuya’s pranks instead of quietly ‘accepting’ them and do nothing about it since he has some sort of grudge against the mystery man of room number 4. Ooohh… There are other movies, specials, OVAs and even a live-action drama TV series too but for me I have quite enough of the series. Thanks to the silliness I don’t think I have the appetite for more whether they are alternate retelling, prequel or spin-off story. Oops. Really. But I can speculate more or less the same kind of thing. But many fans who started off with the manga have expressed their preference for the manga over the anime. Well, duh. Since I don’t read the original works, I can’t say.

As the drawing and art is clearly old school and of that era like Marmalade Boy and Urusei Yatsura, since the author of this series is Rumiko Takahashi, I can’t help make comparisons of how similar some of the characters in this series resemble closely to those in Ranma 1/2. For instance, Godai looks like the male Ranma, Kyoko like Akane, Akemi like the sleepy version of the female Ranma, Mitaka resembles Ryouga, Asuna a little like Nabiki, Yagami like Shampoo, Yukari like Cologne, Kozue a short haired version of Kasumi, Yotsuya is a clean shaven version of Suon and the principal of the day care has that uncanny resemblance to Genma. Sometimes I thought that I was watching a martial art-less Ranma 1/2 and a grownup version of that series. But that is just the looks, the personalities of course differs by a mile. Though the art of background and scenery won’t be very appealing, but I would like to point out sometimes there will be a considerably long pause before the next scene change. Furthermore, the scenes are much ado about nothing. It’s like they’re waiting for that scene to end before the next one is shown. It makes me feel that it is to prolong the duration of the episode because if they shorten it, the episode would probably last less than 20 minutes.

The opening and ending themes also have that sound from that era. You know, pop music from those times. Maybe it’s because the recording equipment weren’t as high-tech as today so they don’t really have that sharp and clear sound to it. The first opening theme, Kanashimi Yo Konnichiwa by Yuki Saito and the pop feel makes it the theme of the series. Well, it can’t be help since this is the first song you’ll be hearing for the first 20 over episodes. The rest of the opening pieces are sung by male vocals and in my opinion they do not sound fitting. For example the second opening theme, Suki Sa by Anzen Chitai has that dramatic feel and the breathy chorus just doesn’t quite cut it. Sunny Shiny Morning, the third opening piece by Kiyonori Matsuo is at least livelier and has that carnival and playful atmosphere. Once again the fourth opening song, Hidamari by Kouzou Murashita feels too manly because of the male vocals and thus doesn’t quite suit the series. The first ending theme is Ashita Haeru Ka by Takao Kisugi. All the other endings are sung by Picasso. I don’t know. Most of them sound one-kind dramatic and have that melancholic feel (or slow romance type if you want to put it). The second ending theme is Ci-ne-ma, the third ending theme is Fantasy and the fourth ending song is Sayonara No Dessan. At least the fifth ending piece, Begin The Night sounds better despite being a slow serenading ballad, the easy crooning will at least put your mind and heart at ease like a good lullaby and perhaps a good song just before going to sleep. Not because it’s boring, okay. Although Takao Kisugi and Picasso are not related, I can’t help think how similar they sound. I thought they were the same singer singing but apparently not. Same case with all the other groups with male vocals. Maybe the recording quality wasn’t that good then so you can’t really differentiate unless you have very good hearing or know the songs very well.

Nobody likes neighbours from hell. If it was me who gets picked on like Godai, fighting back wouldn’t really teach them any lesson nor would they learn. I would have moved out and far away from this place promising never to return. I mean, if you’re going to spend the rest of your life with other people making fun and tormenting you (in addition to making your room the ‘strategic’ meeting place), this isn’t what I have in mind as company or even peace of mind. Heart got pissed instead. No amount of anger management will cure me. Not a single mental institution could keep them away because they’ll drive everything up the wall. Really. I’m going to pack my bags and get out. Nothing is going to stop me, not even if there is a new hot young sexy manager taking over the place. Single or widowed. I’m not sure which is worst. Having to deal with horrible neighbours or endure years of one-sided love through trial and error to get the girl you love to love you back. Perhaps it is both. That’s why I’m out of here!

Tamayura ~Hitotose~ OVA

January 4, 2013

HAPPY BELATED NEW YEAR 2013!!! Another year has passed. Which means another year filled with exciting and interesting animes and lineups for me to watch. Hopefully all will be good. But what are the chances of that? So to usher the New Year with gleaming hope, here is an anime blog to start the year off.

More anime healing for Tamayura ~Hitotose~ OVA or some would call it the 13th episode of the TV series. For those who love the calm and soothing nature of this show, be glad to know that this extra episode is more or less follows the same pattern and ingredient like how you like them in the original OVA or TV series. Don’t expect any shocking twists and turns or developments but do get ready a tissue or two not because it is going to be a tear-jerker but it will touch your heart in a way that you can’t help shed a tear or two. Unless I’ve becoming that soft these days.

It has been half a year since Fuu moved to Takahara and it has been an eventful 6 months. She gets a call from Kaoru about attending the festival but Fuu points out she doesn’t have a yukata. The one she has doesn’t fit anymore. This brings back memories whereby she used to attend the festival with her family and even Chihiro. They would watch the fireworks and grandma would gladly take her measurements to make her yukata. However after her father’s death, they stopped talking about yukatas and the fireworks. They even didn’t attend one since. Fuu felt bad because she promised Chihiro she would go to one with her but never did. She gets a surprise call from Chihiro. At first, Chihiro sent the wrong picture of one of her plushies (looks more like some horror doll). She updates Fuu on the progress of the friends she made and they renew their promise to go to next year’s fireworks show. So happy that Chihiro is close to tears. You know, she doesn’t have to cry every time they have this kind of talk. Oh wait. She always does.

Kou tells Fuu that grandpa is here as they go meet him. Noticing the camera in Fuu’s hand, he mentions when her father bought that camera, he would bring it along when he went shopping but always complained nothing came out the way he wanted. Grandpa has also brought the box of bad pictures taken by her but put away by her dad that she wanted. Even though the shots were blurry, dad thought they were still good. Yeah, so blurry that it looked so funny. These pictures soon became grandpa’s treasure. Noticing an undeveloped film in the box, grandpa mentions that those are bad pictures taken by her dad he didn’t want to develop. Fuu is interested to know what kind of pictures he has taken and gets permission to develop them. As for the topic of yukata, Fuu wonders if grandma could make her one for next year but she says she already made one. The last time she took her measurements, she finished making it with some room for growth. Fuu calls her friends that she is going to try a yukata now so they all happily rush to her place.

Kou puts on the yukata first and the cuteness could have killed Norie. She couldn’t stop squealing too. Then Fuu puts on the bright yellow floral pattern yukata and finds it a little small. But grandma assures she will take care of the adjustments just in time before the fireworks. Grandma puts on the final touches and it’s perfect fit. Fuu asks why she completed it then. To her, time stopped for everyone. Sometimes sadness can stop time. But time that has stopped will move again even though it takes a long time. That’s why she finished it so they could start moving again when the time comes. She is sure that her father would be the one who wants to see Fuu in a yukata the most. The girls all in their yukata meet up early. Kaoru receives mail from her sister Sayomi about the best spot for the fireworks. The rest are horrified because they think she’s going to make them go hiking again! Yeah, remember that trauma… While enjoying themselves at the festival, Sayomi sends yet another mail. She regrets to inform that she can’t come with them since she has a job. Phew. But she’ll tell them the location of the best spot to watch the fireworks. Oh no. Is it going to be atop some tall mountain? Nope. In fact, it is back at Fuu’s house. Not a pretty bad spot.

So when the fireworks start lighting up the night sky, Fuu tries to snap them with her camera. Her yukata fluttering in the wind prompted Kou to mention that it’s like a warm breeze. This is what their late father said. Fuu also remembers that dad told her when she wears a yukata, she should wear one with a warm breeze pattern. And this one looks like as though the flowers are dancing in the warm breeze. When mommy mentions that dad loved the scenario of sunlight shining through the leaves as the gentle breeze blew through, that is how Fuu got her name. Though she thought people would’ve read it as Kaede, he insisted on that name. Fuu requests to take a group photo so she can send it to Chihiro. She receives them and (you guessed it) is close to her teary self. She bloopers by sending another wrong picture of one of her plushie. Next day, Fuu picks up the developed photos from Master. She looks at them and is brought to tears. All those photos he never developed turned out to be blurry. Just like hers. But they are warm pictures nevertheless. And so those pictures become Fuu’s treasure.

Well, it was rather okay for me. Since I didn’t expect anything much I could say that this is quite fitting to end the first season until the next season comes out. Though everybody is still the same, but they are making some progress in moving on with life. Norie still the amusing noisy kid and there should have been more cute moments of Momoneko instead of that 2 second only appearance. Despite the sadness that Fuu’s father is unable to be with them to experience these wonderful moments, you notice that everyone here is just as cheerful and there is never a gloomy or sad moment that will get in their way. Each time they uncover something from the past, it propels them forward as these memories do not bring back sad ones but happy times instead. So it is all how you look at things. You can continue to be sad and stuck in your past if that is how you want to live the rest of your life but you can also use and turn them into happy memories and move forward with everyone. That is what life should be about. Live in the moment for that moment may not last forever. And when you treasure and cherish them in your heart, they become nostalgic and meaningful memories. Now let me think back all the good times I had for the last 6 months. Watching anime, watching anime, watching anime, watching anime and watching anime. Oh yeah. Those were really good times.

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