Top Bishoujos of 2013

December 29, 2013

Another year has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Once more, the final blog of the year has always been dedicated to announce the prettiest 2D anime girls that I have ‘come into contact’ for the year. Once again I present to you, The Top Bishoujos of 2013! Looks like this year I have been watching too much anime. So much anime that I just realized there isn’t enough other blog variety for this year and it is mainly just anime series blogs. That kiasu am I, huh?

Just like last year too, due to the large amount of animes that I have been watching, the list of anime ladies that can be classified as pretty has also swelled. Don’t worry. It won’t go over 100. To be exact, there are a total of 62 candidates that made the list for this year. Yeah. Almost like every anime has a pretty girl (don’t they?) and some animes have more than one (even triple!). Let’s not waste any time and proceed with the final announcement of the top 10 bishoujos of 2013 who made the final cut. They are, in alphabetical order of course:

1) Asuna Yuuki (Sword Art Online)

2) Chihaya Ayase (Chihayafuru)

3) Erica Blandelli (Campione)

4) Kakei Mihaya AKA Blood Leopard (Accel World)

5) Konoe Tsuruma (Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru)

6) Megumi Kitagawa (Sukitte Iinayo)

7) Nanami Momozono (Kamisama Hajimemashita)

8) Sawa Okita (Tari Tari)

9) Tamako Kitashirakawa (Tamako Market)

10) Yukino Yukinoshita (Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru)

Big congratulations to the aforementioned top 10 finalists. For those who are curious, I will also note the names of those who made it into the second round before the final 10 were selected. They are (in alphabetical order): Chieri Sono (AKB0048), Eru Chitanda (Hyouka), Fuuko Kurasaki AKA Sky Raker (Accel World), Isara Aomi (Koi To Senkyo To Chocolate), Nagahide Niwa (Oda Nobuna No Yabou), Shinka Nibutani (Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Shizuku Mizutani (Tonari No Kaibutsu-kun), Sister Maid (Maouyuu Maou Yuusha), Wakana Sakai (Tari Tari) and Yui Yuigahama (Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru).

Last but not least, the rest of them, if you are still curious to know who they are. Yeah… All 42 of them… Thus in alphabetical order: Ai Fuyuumi (Ore No Kanojo To Osananajimi Ga Shuraba Sugiru), Amil (Shining Hearts: Shiawase No Pan), Aoi Futaba (Vividred Operation), Asako Natsume (Tonari No Kaibutsu-kun), Asuka Kudou (Mondaijitachi Ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou Desu Yo), Black Snow Princess (Accel World), Chris (Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka), Eri Ayase (Love Live! School Idol Project), Haruna Kojima (AKB0048), Himawari Shinomiya (Vividred Operation), Himiko (BTOOOM), Itsuki Yamagami (Shikabane Hime), Kagami Yagami (Sasami-san@Ganbaranai), Kojurou Takakura (Sengoku Collection), Kurumi Tokisaki (Date A Live), Lucy Heartfilia (Fairy Tail), Megumi Amatsuka (GJ-Bu), Nanako Kinoshita (Ishida To Asakura), Naomi Umegae (Zettai Karen Children), Neris (Shining Hearts: Shiawase No Pan), Nyaruko (Haiyore! Nyaruko-san), Quele Sellier (Dakara Boku Wa H Ga Dekinai), Remi Misora (Sket Dance), Ricca Morizono (Da Capo III), Rinka Kunitachi (Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru), Ririka Kitami (Bakuman S3), Roman Saotome (Sket Dance), Rufina (Shining Hearts: Shiawase No Pan), Saki Watanabe (Shin Sekai Yori), Satsuki Shinonome (Koi To Senkyo To Chocolate), Scheris Adjani (Scryed), Seri Awashima (K), Shion Sumeragi (GJ-Bu), Soun Hojou (Sengoku Collection), Stella Bremer (Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse), Touka Yatogami (Date A Live), Umi Sonoda (Love Live! School Idol Project), Yui Ichii (Yuyushiki), Yui Kiriyama (Kokoro Connect), Yuiko Kurugaya (Little Busters), Yuki Kashiwagi (AKB0048) and Yuri Kotobuki (Nozoki Ana).

Finally, the everlasting spot and permanent seats for these dynamic duo: Mai Tokiha from Mai-HiME and Suigin Tou from Rozen Maiden!

It will soon be another year and that means another massive amount of animes to watch and enjoy. And it feels like they popped in a bishoujo or two for me while watching it as ‘reward’. So you can expect me to go on strong (fuelled by ainme power, what else?) and watch out for this space again next year (if you want to). Until the next time we meet again, Long Live Anime Bishoujos!

Arata Kangatari

December 28, 2013

You’re on a bad streak of luck and wish you could just run away from your problems and whisk away to a new world? That would be awesome, right? Only one problem: What happens if that other world that you end up too has even more serious problems than what you are facing? That would be like out of the frying pan and into the fire, right? Somehow this is what I felt at first when watching Arata Kangatari. A high school kid-cum-bully victim gets teleported to another world that just got plunged into chaos. If your problems were bad enough, how about being framed for murdering the princess and getting caught in between a looming war between nations that will decide who will become the land’s next leader? Tough, no? And this poor kid has got the honour (curse is more like it) to go through this hell.

Currently I’m having this little obsession with anything fantasy. Heck, isn’t every anime some sort of fantasy in one way or another? Otherwise, I would have given this anime the pass since despite it has fantasy elements, it leans more towards those Japanese folklore and legends. It’s like you’re watching one of those period dramas too. However after seeing a few screenshots, re-read the synopsis over and over again just to wonder and make sure if there is really that sort of fantasy, psycho-ing myself in the process that there is no harm trying since there is only a dozen episodes, and so I gave in to this argument and tried it out. How bad could it be, right? The main protagonist is the one facing all the problems and is running low on self-esteem. All I am doing is just sitting back in the comfort of my chair and watching him how he is going to get out of the fire. Really. Bad me.

Episode 1
The governing Princess Kikuri is to begin a ceremony for the first time in 60 years as her replacement. She leaves it to the 12 Shinsho. In our world, Arata Hinohara is showing signs of improvement as a victim of bully. However, a short confrontation with nemesis Masato Kadowaki starts making him feel helpless again. Kadowaki tells him just because they’re in high school, doesn’t mean things have changed. He won’t acknowledge him. The last straw came when he even heard his so called best friend, Suguru telling Kadowaki’s groupie and denying he and Hinohara were friends to begin with. Back to the mythical world of Amawakuni, Arata is running away from his grandma Makari of the Hime Clan. However he is caught and forced to dress like a girl and become a princess. Because those who possess Amatsuriki can become ruler of Amawakuni. She laments their clan has not been blessed with a daughter for years and should have raised Arata as a girl! If he refuses, he and the entire clan will die since they are not offering a daughter and will be punished. Makari wants him to protect their Hayagami called Goshintai. Arata mishandles this rusty sword and earns grandma’s wrath. Kotoha accompanies Arata to the ceremony. Since it lasts 3 days, she hopes he can hold out by then as it is to buy them time to find the real Hime Clan daughter. Arata is brought into the ceremony room and is surprised that Kikuri is a young girl instead of a grandma. As it begins, one of the 12 Shinsho, Kannagi jumps out and slashes Kikuri across her chest. Arata is shocked but noticing that the 12 Shinsho is standing around doing nothing and that Kannagi is about to kill him, he jumps down the waterway and flees. Kannagi then announces Arata has killed the princess and alerts the guards to have his head. Arata is running towards the Kando Forest as he ponders the 12 Shinsho betraying the princess to start their revolution. At the same time, Hinohara has just about had it with everyone and the concept of trust. He wishes to disappear and before he knows it, both Aratas are face to face with each other and Hinohara finds himself at the edge of Kando Forest.

He is surprised of this unusual place but is attacked by Kannagi’s army. Hinohara doesn’t know what is going on so Kannagi thinks the forest has devoured his memories. He runs back inside the forest and meets Kotoha. She takes him back to the Hime Clan and Makari is told what happened. Hinohara explains he is not the Arata they know but they believe it is the forest that has devoured his memories. But Makari explains the legend of those entering the forest returning as a changed person. It could mean that they have switched places in another world. Because he cannot go back, he has to continue living his life here. Hinohara is not happy since his name is a criminal here and will have to die for another’s crimes. Makari believes her grandson is innocent. Kannagi is at the doorstep holding Kotoha hostage and wants Arata. Kotoha’s lips are sealed and even if she is killed, she believes Arata is not a criminal. I guess those words ring hard in Hinohara’s mind. Believe. Trust. Faith. Although still in dilemma about being betrayed, he comes out from his hiding. Despite not wanting to trust others again, he just can’t stand and watch others who trust someone getting killed. The guards charge at him as Hinohara picks up Goshintai. He hates how they are like Kadowaki and his minions, ganging up on someone. This hatred sparks a little light in Goshintai. Kannagi notices this and unleashes the flames of his Hayagami, Homura at him. Makari quickly tells Hinohara to say the right words and turns Goshintai into a beautiful sword.

Episode 2
Kannagi cannot believe Goshintai nullifies his flames so he backs down. The place crumbles. In Earth, Hinohara’s mom and sister spot him half naked in the streets. Is this some sort of free show? Meanwhile Hinohara, Kotoha and Makari take refuge in some case. They explain all gods in Amawakuni exist in the form of swords. The light he produced that sealed it was also a Kamui, a great divine power. Hinohara has been chosen as a Sho, one who wields the power of gods. Another of the 12 Shinsho, Akachi tells Kannagi that there is a change in plan. Bring Arata back so that they can put him on public trial. This is to assert 12 Shinsho’s authority. Kotoha talks to Hinohara and I’m not sure if she really believes him from another world and it was just a fluke he wielded Goshintai. She notices his Michihi No Tama she gave is missing. It was a gift from Kikuri. She gives him hers. Their conversation is cut short when Kannagi appears and holds Makari as hostage. Since Hinohara doesn’t have Goshintai with him, he is chained and thrown into the wagon back to the capital. It is then Michihi No Tama activates and opens a mirror. It shows his room where Arata is now. They are surprised to see each other. Arata explains the princess’ real killers. He is sad because she trusted them and they betrayed her. They don’t know how much they have hurt her and how sad she felt. Because Hinohara is still jumpy about that trust word, Arata is cool that if he doesn’t trust him. Learning Hinohara has become a Sho, Arata thinks they have a chance to fight 12 Shinsho. The mirror closes as Arata vows to find a way to get them back to their respective places.

Hinohara is put on trial for Kikuri’s murder. Everyone is shown Kikuri using her last ounce of Amatsuriki power to preserve her own life. Even so, she is hanging in the balance. The crowd wants Hinohara’s head so he has had it about this betrayal thingy. It’s the same in both worlds. He tells them back about the conspiracy about betraying those who put their trust in them and will never forgive them cowards. They don’t have the right to control gods and are just traitors and murderers. But the 12 Shinsho are smooth in their talk to turn the tables on Hinohara and the public aren’t that forgiving either. Kannagi sentences Hinohara to be exiled to Gatoya, a living hell where he can reflect his sins. Although a death sentence would be the norm, Kannagi’s true intention is to find out his Hayagami’s true form. On the ship to Gatoya, Kotoha has been caught sneaking in and placed in the same cell with Hinohara. Her mission is a success because she is to bring him Goshintai. Now they can break out. However, it is not activating. Maybe he isn’t saying it right. Michihi No Tama activates and they hear a voice. The light becomes Kikuri as she hopes Hinohara her new Shinsho would hear her request.

Episode 3
Kikuri heard his answer during the trial and it made her happy. It was when she knew his heart would open the path. Until now she has used Amatsuriki to keep Hayagami as one and control their Kamui. Now that she has fallen, Hayagami have been freed and if the Sho wielding them use the Kamui freely, they will use their power to bring their own justice and the people will suffer. She wants him to lead Amawakuni in her stead and bring out his Hayagami to me before her life runs out. Hinohara has no confidence but Kikuri said the magic word: “I trust you”. Oh yeah. Big word for him. Kotoha teaches Hinohara how to use his body to house Goshintai. Arriving at Gatoya, the other prisoners view the princess killer with contempt. Hinohara is attacked by brothers, Kanate and Ginchi. They want him to hand over his possessions but are smitten by Kotoha. Hinohara couldn’t keep up with Kanate’s attacks when suddenly the ground shakes. The prisoners run for their life. Hinohara and Kotoha witness before their own eyes a couple of them being swallowed by the pipes. Fellow prisoner, Osome tells them that this is called The Reckoning and every day, Warden Tsutsuga will choose 2 prisoners to eat. Once that happens, it’s the end of you. She takes a hairpin of Kotoha as info payment. Meanwhile Kannagi is doing research but comes up with nothing. Akachi knows he is up to something but lets him be since Kannagi will report to him once he gets more details. Kotoha heals Hinohara’s injuries. He feels the warmth, the kind that is of his mom. Hinohara realizes he was just thinking about himself all the time. She came with him because she trusted him. Before he could thank her, the ground shakes and Kotoha falls through. Hinohara tries to find her but is chased by prisoners who want his head, thinking they can get out of here if they kill him.

While he is hiding, a mysterious voice asks about his pathetic state. Hinohara regrets he can’t live up to the expectations trusted in him. The voice wonders if he is going to betray their trust too. He is snapped out when Osome enters the picture. He is willing to offer his bag for info on Kotoha’s whereabouts. She won’t charge anything for this and says she heard Kanate took Kotoha somewhere. Kotoha is being treated well by the brothers. Well, they’re smitten by her, right? Ginchi decides to leave Kanate alone with her but he too can’t stand being alone and gets out of the room. He then sees Ginchi unconscious and Hinohara by his side. Thinking he was attacked, Kanate angrily starts attacking him. Hinohara draws out Goshintai and vows to protect Kotoha this time (because she trusted him, blah, blah blah). Ginchi wakes up and dismisses Kanate’s misinterpretation of the scene. He was attacked by Bluebeard Zanji’s minion but Hinohara saved him. However in the process he got his ring stolen. Kanate leaves Ginchi in their care while he goes to retrieve the ring. As Kotoha heals him, he explains how the brothers met (they were kidnapped by a band of thieves) and got into trouble by being framed and ended up here. The ring is his only connection to his mother. Kanate has always protected him and they vowed to get out of here. Hinohara is more confident now and will bring the Hayagami to her. He learns Tsutsuga is also a Sho and wields a Hayagami. With Kanate returning with the ring and both sides even, Kanate wants to settle their score. Before that could happen, The Reckoning triggers. Kanate is targeted and swallowed. Hinohara too is about to be eaten but Ginchi pushes him away so that he could join his brother. In the aftermath, Hinohara laments he was so scared he couldn’t move. But now he is going to save them.

Episode 4
Hinohara and Kotoha follow the pipes to the lowest level, believing it will lead them to Tsutsuga. Along the way, they meet Osome. She calls them fools for wanting to confront Tsutsuga. Hinohara disagrees with her view that although they live in fear every day, at least they’re alive. He can’t leave those brothers alone and will go rescue them. Osome notes the good guy he is and returns Kotoha’s hairpin. Kanate is surprised to see Ginchi before him. Tsutsuga proposes that they fight to the death and the winner will leave this island innocent. Ginchi doesn’t want to do this but Kanate picks up his weapon and attack ruthlessly while Ginchi is reduced to just defending. Hinohara and Kotoha are shocked to see the brothers fighting. Hinohara tries to stop them but is told by Tsutsuga that humans are the same. Selfish and only thinking about themselves. In Ginchi’s fear, he dealt the finishing blow to Kanate. Of course it’s just a ploy by Kanate to free his brother. However Tsutsuga considers Ginchi a criminal because he just killed! So neither can leave, huh? By the way, Kanate is still alive. Hinohara is upset with this bullsh*t so he draws out Goshintai and cuts through the pipes to find the warden. All the prisoners witness their fight and just as Hinohara is about to lose, he thinks back of all those people who trusted him. Oh yeah. That sure is a big motivation. This unleashes his Kamui and blows away all the pipes with ease. Everyone is surprised he is a Sho. Tsutsuga’s real identity is revealed. He is an old man with pipes all over and a Hayagami sticking out from his chest. When Hinohara touches his dark Hayagami, he gets a glimpsed of his past. Tsutsuga was a noble warden but was betrayed by his friend when he stuck the Hayagami in his chest. He was so overcome with hatred about human’s betrayal that he decided to become not a god but a demon. And with his Hayagami, he turned Gatoya into a piping hell.

Tsutsuga wants Hinohara to finish him and the prisoners are encouraging him as well. However he starts pulling out the dark Hayagami to save him. The hatred envelops him as he tries to fight it. Tsutsuga understands they are alike but Hinohara still has hope. He might not understand people but he thinks he shouldn’t be down here alone. What can resentment and suffering do for you? He manages to pull out the dark Hayagami and adds that he too was betrayed. So if he tested someone’s trust and been hurt again, he might have ended up like him. He knows he has been in pain for very long. Tsutsuga replies that he has been watching him for some time and perhaps this is what he wanted. Somebody like him to stop him. His dark Hayagami turns into its true form, Saniwa the Hayagami of judgment. He believes Hinohara as its new owner and has what it takes to wield its justice. Tsutsuga and Saniwa become one and get absorbed into Goshintai. They will live in his Hayagami and have submitted their lives to him. As his first act of the new warden of Gatoya, Hinohara uses Saniwa to return Gatoya to what it was previously. Kannagi is on his way to Gatoya and is shocked to see the light of Hayagami and the changing of Gatoya. The Kamui of Saniwa frees all the prisoners devoured by The Reckoning and Osome is happy to be reunited with her beloved. The brothers take Hinohara and Kotoha to escape the island on their boat (because the island returned to its original form, they figure their old home would be back too) and make way to the capital. Kannagi wants to know where Hinohara is but is confronted by Tsutsuga in spirit form. He knows Tsutsuga has submitted to Hinohara seeing he is calling his innocence and how strong that kid is. Tsutsuga says Hinohara’s Hayagami is the sword of origins that will rule over this world.

Episode 5
Hinohara’s family just plays along with whatever Arata is talking. Going hunting? Kanate and Ginchi are peddling the boat with all they’ve got but thankfully they have reached shore before the mast and everything else breaks down. Looking through the map, if they are to reach the capital (which is still pretty far), they have to trek through Kannagi’s domain. Aside the capital in Amawakuni, it is divided into 12 domains ruled by each of the 12 Shinsho. Ginchi spots a bonfire smoke nearby and this leads the gang to a makeshift village. Ginchi immediately recognizes some of its villagers and ultimately his mom. They happily reunite. This village is trying to migrate to the border before the war breaks out. What war? Well, you can’t have 12 people becoming kings, right? Surely one of them will rise to the top. In the past, 12 Shinsho used to fight among themselves for supremacy till the princess assumed the throne and took over control of the Kamui and the nation at peace. No prizes for guessing what will happen now that the princess has fallen. As the village moves and they’re about to part with Hinohara and Kotoha, Kanate surprises Ginchi that he won’t follow them. The secret passage behind the waterfall to the border that only opens once a month closes. To Ginchi’s dismay, Kanate wants him to live happily with his mom. Hinohara learns that he can’t follow and live with Ginchi’s village because it was his band of thieves that kidnapped him. Hinohara has Kanate follow him to the capital since he can’t leave him alone either. Along the way as they take a break, Kotoha hands him a muru snack. What’s a muru? Well, they’re about to find out. Let’s say it’s some giant shelled-like dinosaur. It’s charging at them! Run! Turns out that a girl, Honi has stole its egg because it is believed to be filled with nutrients and wants to give it to her mistress Fuyo who is pregnant. But I don’t know why the muru targets Kanate. Thankfully he is saved by Honi’s fellow villager, Ohika who is also the mistress’ husband. By the way, the egg cracks and a cute muru is born. So much for the nutrients.

Hinohara collapses and is brought back to the village but thankfully Kotoha heals him. Hinohara discovers Kanate has gone through his stuff, especially his handphone. The message from Suguru brings back bitter memories. Kanate wants to warn Hinohara about Ohika being Kannagi’s Zokusho, the Sho who serve the 12 Shinsho. Ohika then walks in, happy to see Hinohara okay. He uses his Hayagami, Kaneri to heal Kanate’s weapon. His Hayagami isn’t for fighting and forges tools. He says Kannagi has been kind to them and when he was told his wife Fuyo was expecting, he was incredibly happy. Kannagi is at the grave of Emisu. He feels pain in his wounds and vows to take the throne for her. Suddenly he gets shocking report that villages in his domain have been massacred. No survivors. Everyone lying in their own pool of blood. The only village left he notes is Ohika’s and he wants to head there right away. Ohika explains to Hinohara and Kanate that the war may have already begun. He doesn’t want to take part since he wants to live in peace (who doesn’t?). He notes there is a way to claim the throne without killing and that is for all the Sho to submit to one man. Submission is when a Sho passes on his soul and Hayagami to another Sho. They don’t disappear but live within the Hayagami they submitted to. He has also heard what happened to Tsutsuga as well as the princess’ murderer. He hints he knows Hinohara as the one because of his same name. Later, Honi has been told by Ohika to take the trio and leave the village now. Instead of doing this, they eavesdrop Ohika in his conversation with Akachi. He tells the truth that the one behind the plot to murder Kikuri was Kannagi. In order to become king himself, he threw away his allegiance to her and is pursuing the boy he used in his uprising to silence him. He wants Ohika to be his Zokusho.

Episode 6
Ohika doesn’t believe his words and even if it was true, he has sworn loyalty to Kannagi. Akachi summons his Hayagami, Okoro and shows its deadly earth power by threatening Fuyo. He shows the 6 Hayagamis he already acquired and this is his last chance to submit or watch his wife die first before being force into submission. Since he agrees not to hurt his family, Ohika submits and absorbs into Okoro. But right after that, Akachi kills Fuyo and the housemaids!!! Blood everywhere! The kids are shell shocked but they are discovered. Raging Kannagi jumps in too late as he uses Homura to burn Akachi but Okoro’s earth power protects him and even goes on the offensive. After pestering his actions, Akachi hints it’s because the war for the throne had begun and something about Emisu loved him. Kannagi loses the fight and his Hayagami to Akachi. Akachi then displays all of Kannagi’s Zokusho’s Hayagami. Kannagi turns this into a fist fight as Akachi blames Kannagi for the one who first betrayed them. He wants him to bear the agony and live with the sin carved into his right shoulder and won’t kill him so easily. I guess Hinohara has had it of watching so he tries to stop the fight. He isn’t happy Akachi killed innocent people and what is the use of becoming king this way? There’s no meaning to it. Akachi tells him off about his idealistic justice and will let Kannagi live so as to continue to suffer. Honi is devastated and wants Kannagi to bring back her master but as he puts it, once somebody submits, they can never come back again. Hinohara gives Kannagi his piece of mind that he knew this would happen when he killed the princess, the Sho would start fighting among themselves. He starts talking about trust and betrayal, a good man Ohika was and all the Zokusho who believed in him he betrayed them. Kannagi replies he can’t let this chance slip as they were all under Kikuri’s control. He just wants to set Homura free. Honi starts hating Shos as she believes Hinohara is the same as Akachi by making Tsutsuga submit to him.

Arata sees Suguru suspiciously outside his house. He goes to greet that surprised kid. Suguru thinks he doesn’t remember him is because they’re not friends anymore. The guilt ridden kid returns a book he borrowed. Hinohara’s ponders about Kikuri’s words. Is she trying to make him fight and become king by being violent like Akachi? He feels scared but also angry for not being able to do anything. He is weak and wants to grow stronger but that would make him the same as Akachi. He doesn’t want to hurt others. Kanate thinks he is thinking too much and tries to make him to fight to understand. Since Hinohara doesn’t want to hurt, Kanate calls him pathetic and should just do nothing. Brings back guilty memories of his confrontation with Kadowaki. If he wants to be stronger, he has to hurt others. Otherwise he can’t lead this country. Kotoha puts it in another way that Hinohara didn’t take Tsutsuga’s life. He entrusted it to him. Ah, I see… She remembers a legendary Hayagami that Makari told her. One that was a sword of origins that will rule over the world. It possesses no fighting Kamui and Goshintai might be that legendary Hayagami called Tsukuyo. Goshintai then emits a very bright light, awakening Tsukuyo. Before Hinohara and co leave for their journey, he assures Honi a possible way to return Ohika back to life. He won’t guarantee it but feels the princess can bring Ohika back from Akachi’s Hayagami. Hinohara is ready to move forward and make sure no one else suffers. Meanwhile Kadowaki sees Arata at the school gates.

Episode 7
The mother takes Arata away before any confrontation could happen. She is here to plead to the headmaster to go easy on her son since he’s having a hard time. Later Arata is called by Kadowaki’s underlings to the rooftop. Kadowaki is not amused first he was playing truant and now faking amnesia. Arata didn’t like his arrogance and tells him off about acting big since he has a gang to back him up. Kadowaki loses it and is about to punch him but Arata knocks him out in a single kick. Not so tough now, eh? Kotoha has a swell on her feet and oddly even if she can heal others, she can’t heal herself. Kanate goes off to find herbs and stumbles upon Emisu’s grave. He is surrounded by wild flames. Arata’s Michihi No Tama glows so he finds a place to speak to Arata and updates him on what has happened. Arata asks about Kotoha since he is quite close to her. He entrusts Kotoha to him so he can protect her in his place. That’s a big word and responsibility, right? Hinohara is devastated to learn that Arata has gone to his school and knocked out Kadowaki. Maybe that’s an understatement. Shell shock to be exact. So stunned that communication time for Michihi No Tama ends. As he walks back, Hinohara is assaulted by Kannagi who wants him to hand over his Hayagami. Wild fire starts surrounding the place and Kannagi explains because he doesn’t have Homura, he can’t control them. As he is a Sho, he cannot be devoured by the flames. Hinohara uses Tsukuyo to nullify them. Kannagi continues to threaten Hinohara to hand over his Hayagami. He knows his character and taunts him he can’t kill an unarmed man. To a point he’d rather lose than hurt his opponent. He easily snatches Tsukuyo from his scared hands. Before he could cut him, Kotoha’s voice stops him. The flames surround her and this brings back horrifying memories to Kannagi. Hinohara jumps into the flames to protect her. Seeing this act of bravery (which brings back those awful memories), Kannagi jumps through to save them.

Kotoha can’t heal the burn mark on Kannagi’s right shoulder and thinks it is a wound he got before he became a Sho. Or perhaps a wound of the heart. Kannagi explains his past. As the lord of the land’s son, he was introduced to Akachi and Emisu as his helpers. The trio grew closer each day. But the lord who was the previous Sho of Okoro died and lost his domain. The people revolted and the trio fled for their lives. Akachi entrusted Emisu in Kannagi’s hand and let the duo escape while he stayed back and fought the revolters. The duo travelled far and wide and they ended up in this land whereby Ohika took them in. They decided to live here happily. One night Kannagi fell ill so worried Emisu had to go out and look for herbs. Kannagi went after her after learning this. At the place where her grave stands now, Kannagi saw the wild flames engulfing Emisu. He wanted to save her but was blasted away by the flames and this caused the burnt mark on his right shoulder. He saw Emisu perished before his eyes. Deeming his life as no meaning, he wanted to kill himself to be with her. That’s when the god of flames, Homura heard his plea and considered him suitable to be his Sho. That’s how he became one and so to him, Homura is Emisu herself. That’s why he’ll do what it takes to get it back from Akachi. Kotoha laments they were so close and now this happened. Hinohara sees the similarity of hate in the eyes of Akachi and Kadowaki. He wants Kannagi to join them and change this nation. News of this spread to the other 12 Shinsho and also part of them, the group known as 6 Sho have also begun to move.

Episode 8
The 6 Sho discuss Kikuri’s Amatsuriki is weakening but they have to deal with the awakened Tsukuyo. If Hinohara reaches the capital and Tsukuyo comes into contact with Kikuri, she will revive. Meanwhile Hinohara may be starting to regret taking in Kannagi into his group because he is self centred and still eyeing his Hayagami with an eagle’s eye. Kadowaki is so upset that he messes up in his room. Arata can’t bring himself to call Hinohara’s mother his mom since he himself doesn’t have one. He spots Suguru outside again and goes talk to him. Wondering if he is his friend, Suguru thinks he must have overheard that conversation. He only said it otherwise he will be targeted. He thinks anybody would have done the same in that situation. However he realizes he himself is just weak. Arata notes he is truly a friend. Then he asks if he know where Kadowaki is. Kadowaki is about to leave his house when he comes into his father who chides him for not studying or joining any clubs but bum around. Especially about middle school in some track team he joined but gave up halfway (Hinohara was also in that track club). He will never win because he is so half hearted. Kadowaki talks back but was slapped. Father says this is the reason why his mom left him. Hinohara and co enter the domain of Yorunami, one of the 12 Shinsho who controls water. Kannagi notes that the 12 of them never did anything together except for special ceremonies. They have to be wary of the 6 Sho because they never show their faces and are strange men. The 6 Sho are at Kando Forest. They realize Arata must have gone to the other world. One of them, Harunawa (looks a lot like Kadowaki) begins his ritual by entering the forest. The rest are depending on him so they could awaken a Hayagami to eliminate Arata and Tsukuyo.

Kadowaki bumps into his friends who are badmouthing him (because pathetically he lost to Arata). They think of making him their target since they’re bored with Hinohara. Suddenly Arata wants in on this fight seems it doesn’t look fair. They flee but Kadowaki is not happy. He thinks Arata is looking down on him as always. It’s pretty confusing to Kadowaki since Arata is talking as though he is not Hinohara. That’s when Hinohara’s mom comes into the picture to slap him. She was worried about him and looked all over. Oh dear. You made somebody’s mom cry. This scene somewhat rings a bell to Kadowaki so he leaves. He is filled with so much anger and hate that he wants to kill Hinohara. That hatred himself allows the portal to open and he switches sides with Harunawa. Before it completes, Harunawa inputs memories of Hinohara’s adventures in this world (where the heck he got all that footage from?). Kadowaki exits the forest and realizes the real Hinohara is here. He confronts the 6 Sho (5 of them actually, but I’ll call them that just for consistency) and wants to know where that bastard is. They tell him about Hinohara who has acquired Tsukuyo to become king. They want Kadowaki to become a Sho, one of them of the 12 Shinsho to defeat Hinohara. It is those hatred feelings that brought him to this world that will defeat him. He is the chose one. Kadowaki doesn’t understand a thing but all he understands is kill Hinohara and everything will be fine. He is taken to a room consisting the Hayagami Orochi. Like Tsukuyo, it was sealed for a very long time too. This ritual will test to see if he is fit to wield it. Once he puts his hands on it, all the Shos could feel Orochi trying to be awakened. Will Kadowaki succeed, or will he be swallowed like those who tried and failed. Kadowaki has so much hatred bursting out. He shouts for Orochi to be his. With so much resentment in the end, he becomes Orochi’s rightful owner and a Sho.

Episode 9
Jenjenjeng! Behold! Kadowaki appearing before Hinohara! Surprised? Well, for Hinohara. Oddly, Kadowaki is ‘happy’ to see him. He takes out Orochi and attack but Tsukuyo protects everyone. Kadowaki starts berating Hinohara about the coward he is. So scared of him that he ran off to this world. He was a weakling back then and now he is going to be king of this world? Big joke! Is he trying to run away from him? He should be grovelling at his feet! Hinohara snaps and at this point he is starting to feel the intense hatred. The hatred builds up to a point where Tsukuyo loses its light and becomes demonized. It shoots out some dark aura but Orochi protects Kadowaki. If this is not stopped, Tsukuyo will turn into Onigami. Kotoha hugs him and believes he is a kinder person and won’t turn into a demon. Guess what she said? “I believe you”. Yeah. Calmed him down, didn’t he? But she collapses as a result. The 6 Sho tell Kadowaki to retreat for they have failed to foresee Tsukuyo demonizing and need to completely awaken Orochi. Hinohara sinks into depression that he lets go of Tsukuyo. Kannagi seizes that instant to steal it as Kanate goes after him. As Hinohara and Kotoha rest in the hut, she realizes he is not the Arata she knew from his reaction. Took you this long, eh? Besides, didn’t he try to tell them he isn’t that kid they knew? Maybe everything happened too fast. Hinohara explains who he is and the hatred Kadowaki has for him. He was a bully victim and every day forced to submit to their bullying. He knows he needed power to overcome this but feared he would turn out the same as them. So he vowed never to use such power that he felt inside Kadowaki or Akachi, or to use it against anyone. By the time Kanate finds Kannagi, the latter decides to go back to Hinohara. That kid is still pathetic so he threatens him to take back Tsukuyo. He wants him to take responsibility about the promise he made to change the world and see through it no matter what. When he held Tsukuyo, he felt how heavy it was. It was the weight of his mission and responsibility that only Hinohara can carry.

Next day, Kannagi spars with Hinohara and easily dislodges Tsukuyo from his hands down into the ravine. He knows Hinohara fears being demonized again, that’s why he hesitates. Can someone like him change the world? He is not worth believing in right now and gives him till sundown to find Tsukuyo or else leave the group. What to do? Find it lah! Hinohara finds Tsukuyo taken by a giant wolf. As he goes after it, he remembers his past with Kadowaki. At a time they were really best friends. Really. Truest of the truest buddies. Words of encouragement. In the same track club. They ran together. Always will be running by his side. It made Hinohara remember that they were friends. Meanwhile Kadowaki is on the 6 Sho’s airship and talking to the maid assigned to him, Miyabi. He is telling her how much he just hates Hinohara that he wants him disappeared from the face of this planet. Miyabi thinks he likes him because if he really hated him, he would have just ignored him but yet he thinks so much about him. In truth, he just wants to be Hinohara’s friends. Kadowaki shuts her up for talking like he knows them. He continues to blame Hinohara for him. On a fateful day when he was in a slump, he had Hinohara run with him to improve his qualifying time. Kadowaki would be happy even if he had lost since he acknowledged his skill. However Kadowaki believed Hinohara slowed down, allowing him to win. He became upset thinking he was making fun of him and that’s when their friendship ended. So easy, huh? Probably he was feeling the pressure too since at the same time his mom left the family. Hinohara returns with Tsukuyo, much to the other’s relief. Kannagi will believe in him for now. Hinohara assures Kotoha that although he isn’t confident, he’ll try to move forward and change Kadowaki’s heart. He vows not to become a demon. Guess what’s her answer? She believes in him. Consolation prize: The duo hug. Yorunami’s Zokusho, Hiruko who has been observing them notes Hinohara not only had kindness going in him, but the power of darkness and heart to calm it. He could be the one who can return Yorunami to what he was.

Episode 10
Yorunami just finished punishing one of his Zokusho for a slight failure. Hinohara doesn’t wants to meet this Yorunami guy first but his Zokusho so as to know more about him. Kannagi brings them to Suzukura, the most prosperous city in Amawakuni ruled by Hiruko. Because the tax passage to enter or leave this city is very high, the gang can’t afford it. The boss of the place, Suehiro takes them in but to make them work for their part. The men will work in the quarry and Kotoha the sole woman in the textile workshop. Later that night, Hinohara asks Suehiro about Yorunami. Only good things of course. He seeks perfection for everyone and himself and thanks to the laws he came out for this city, it is the reason why it is so prosperous. Next day, Hinohara and Kanate see a group of men accusing a boy named Ruka for ruining a wagon. He clearly did not do it but was dismissed without wages. Kanate couldn’t stand this crap and is about to give his piece of mind to that quarry chief but Suehiro’s presence stops them. He will let this incident slide and not report to Yorunami. Ruka takes the guys back to the slums area. Despite looking perfect from the outside, such a place even exists because many flock to Suzukura to make it rich but reality is harsh. Ruka tells them about how his family once operated a textile shop but his parents died and everyone left. The company went bankrupt. Hinohara laments everyone here just thinks about money and that this is not a perfect city as believed. Ruka wanted to leave this place but the tax passage was too high. Later Kannagi and Suehiro meet. The latter knows who he is and seemingly tries to provoke him. However Kannagi won’t give and warns to be cautious about Hinohara because he is formidable. Hinohara remembers when he was still suffering from his trauma, his mom told him she would wait no matter how long it takes she will wait for him till he gets better. She will always be by his side and believed in him. Because Ruka became emotional since he felt so miserable, Hinohara explains how he too experienced something similar. He didn’t do anything wrong and things just went wrong. He tells Ruka since he was born into this world, it doesn’t give him the right to end his own life and that there’s no one in the world would be better off without. He will help Ruka get out of here. Suehiro eavesdropping outside is amazed by Hinohara’s words.

Kadowaki is going to be brought to Akachi and is shown clips of his merciless massacre. Later Miyabi is happy that Kadowaki’s wounds are healing but that guy wonders why she could smile for him. Because she feels happy. When the airship reaches Akachi, Kadowaki jumps down to confront him. He suggests teaming up with him because their greatest enemies are travelling together. Akachi will not since anyone who lacks the resolve to fight alone will only slow him down. Kadowaki lets out his emotions on how much he wants to beat this Hinohara guy so Akachi tells him straight he cannot defeat him. Because he is trapped by the phantom of the bond reflected in his eyes. He ‘sets him free’ by stabbing his eye! Hinohara and co try to sneak out of the city that night but is Suehiro is waiting for them. He then reveals his true form: He is actually Hiruko. Hinohara tells him this city is not perfect but heartless because it doesn’t see people as people. This brings back memories to Hiruko how he was caught by Yorunami. He was sad people only flocked to him for his money. He wanted Yorunami to kill him but was made his Zokusho instead. Yorunami’s words that there is no place in this world where a human is not needed was the clincher that bought him over. Hiruko unleashes his Hayagami, Takara that shoots out gold pieces! His Kamui is made out of money?! But it’s easily nullified by Tsukuyo. Hiruko mentions he has observed Hinohara for a long time. The way he suffered, fought and even turned into a demon. He wanted to know if he is the right man for the job. Now that he does, there is no need for them to leave this city. He will defy Yorunami and change this city himself. He believes Hinohara can return Yorunami to the way he once knew.

Episode 11
When Yorunami was young, he made his mom a necklace but was told off to not waste time with something useless and to perfect himself. Kannagi leads the gang outside Yorunami’s palace. Suddenly some water force kidnaps Kotoha and it’s like it was all a setup for them to head into the palace (no guards whatsoever). Kotoha is placed on a death-trap pedestal whereby water is filling up the sphere. Tsukuyo can’t break it. Yorunami appears before Hinohara and he wants Hinohara to submit to him or make him submit. Although Kotoha has nothing to do with this, he will do anything that it takes to fulfil his mother’s wishes. The fight begins as all of Yorunami’s Zokusho watch and secretly rooting for Hinohara because if Yorunami wins, they know they’ll have it tough. Meanwhile when Kadowaki lost his eye, he was told he could only see things when he loses them. He wanted to become strong that he doesn’t mind losing another eye for it. Seeing his resolve, Akachi gave him his eye as replacement. He easily just took out one eye, just like that?! Hinohara seems to be on the losing side when Kadowaki crashes into the party. Yorunami has just made Hinohara into some time reversal deep sleep thingy and will make him submit from there. Kadowaki is not amused since he is going to be to one who will beat Hinohara. Yorunami drags him along to watch how Hinohara will submit to him. Hinohara in his subconscious mind is talking to his mom. The good ol’ days. But with a twist. She is asking him how to submit! However Hinohara won’t give in. Yorunami turns back the clock to make Hinohara younger. Whenever he is down, mommy tells him it is okay to run away and quit. No matter how sad he is, he won’t be submitted. This pisses off Yorunami since Tsukuyo can’t be useful to him this way. He is about to kill him but Hinohara hears the encouraging voice of Kotoha and breaks free from the spell. He even reconciles with his mom that he is already and hints there is someone he loves! Tell me, tell me! Tsukuyo’s Kamui bursts into a great light raining down on the palace like raindrops and just like some epic scene, Hinohara is floating down in a light ball like some Buddha, Tsukuyo in one hand and Kotoha in another. Yorunami’s Hayagami seems to have lost the will to fight so he becomes frantic that he has lost and worries about his mom.

Rushing to her side, seems she has ‘died’ as the water bubble burst. But as explained his mom died a long time ago and this one was just a doll, an illusion created by himself. Yorunami believed in working hard to perfect himself so that one day his mom would acknowledge him. Even when he became one of the 12 Shinsho, she did not change. However she died before accepting him. His desire grew stronger and thought if he became king, she would finally do so. But now he has lost and everything is over. Noticing a memento lying nearby, Yorunami’s mom gave it to him on her deathbed. She considered it her treasure and life force. He was told that the day he failed to protect it is the day he will die. He is afraid to look into it since he lost but the rest think there could be some message. When he does, he is surprised to see that necklace. An old Zokusho of his reveals the truth that his mom is not the strict woman he knew. She was kind and loved her child. She was worried of what will happen to him if they die and this nation fell into chaos. That’s why she wanted him to grow stronger even this makes him hate her. Yorunami is overcome with emotion and admits Hiruko was right and seeks everyone’s forgiveness. He believes someone with all-seeing eyes, open heart, strong will and the strength to lead the world could be the Sho of Tsukuyo. That’s Hinohara, right? He asks the thing he values most in this world: Bond. This heart moving moment is ruined when Kadowaki is not impressed with this dramatic crap. Especially about his answer of bonds. He doesn’t want Hinohara to talk about all that and the only thing he needs is to look at him.

Episode 12
Kadowaki says nothing has changed between them and wants Hinohara to admit he hates him. He still won’t and will not turn into a demon. I guess talk is of no use. Time to fight. Orochi evolves and gives Kadowaki more power, reducing Hinohara to just defending. Kotoha wants the rest to help but the men say this is his fight. If they join in, they’ll only be a hindrance. But you know what? They believe in him! Since Hinohara is making no progress, they have to give him that pep talk about the trust he has been entrusted to. They know he won’t lose because… Wait for it… They believe in him! However Tsukuyo doesn’t have offensive Kamui unlike Orochi so it can do nothing but just nullify it. Better do something quick because Orochi’s Kamui is turning deadlier by the second. Yorunami decides to submit himself to Hinohara. His Zokushos and of course Hinohara do not agree but he views this act as more noble than becoming king. He wants to see the world under his reign and will live through his battles. Still not accepting this, Hinohara? Now it’s Kannagi’s turn for his pep talk reminding him what submission is all about and yeah, for all those who believe in him. When Yorunami submits to Hinohara, the impact is so great that it destroys the entire palace. It’s like the A-bomb just dropped over here. The fight isn’t over yet. Kadowaki continues to challenge Hinohara and blames him for not understanding anything. He will gladly throw away everything and obtain power.

Both sides clash and because Hinohara’s determination seems stronger, Kadowaki is thrown away. Hinohara now believes this fight isn’t his alone and is confident Kadowaki cannot make him submit. Tsukuyo’s glow causes the undersea land to surface. Its power grows into wings of light, Sousei No Hinowa. It is proof that Tsukuyo has completely awakened. Hinohara looks like a king too. He won’t run away anymore and if Kadowaki still insists of fighting and bringing him to submission, then bring it on. Before the fight can even start, Kadowaki is blown away!!! And I was wondering what happened! Did the fight started or not! While bathing in the light, Hinohara feels nostalgic when he remembers the good days with Kadowaki. In the aftermath, Hinohara thanks Tsukuyo for believing in him. Kotoha goes to hug him and he takes this chance to give her the hairpin he bought from Suzukura. Yorunami’s Zokushos decide to submit to him and place their life in his hands. Wow. That’s a whole bunch of them gone into Tsukuyo. Later Hinohara communicates with Arata about the developments, especially the switch between Kadowaki and Harunawa. Arata notes he has become stronger. We get the glimpse of the 6 Sho planning to hasten their plan so they can realize their dream; A couple of new 12 Shinsho faces; Kannagi vowing to reclaim Homura and make Akachi submit; Akachi still having tormenting dreams; Kadowaki doing fine in Miyabi’s care and he’s ranting about how he can’t lose to him and the need to even surpass him even if it’s his silly pride. Miyabi really thinks he cares about his friend. And Hinohara, he’ll continue to move forward and change Kadowaki’s heart.

I Believe!
At the rate things are going, I started worrying if they could even get things done or wrap up by the time this anime series. After 3/4 of the show, I finally realize that this wasn’t going to be the end. In fact, just the beginning. What do you expect when you have the bitter high school ex-friends clash right in the final episode? With this season building up the climax to this clash, it feels that the war to be king wasn’t important. If I do not think back on the events that bought Hinohara here, I might have well forgotten what this anime is about or how it all started and gotten into this fine mess. Then you probably are wondering where the rest of the other 12 Shinsho are doing because besides the 6 Sho, if you count them we are missing like one or two, right? So in short, I see there is quite some potential in the development of the storyline and characters (I admit, I took a peek at Wikipedia) but it’s sad that it had to end this way at least for where the anime is concern. Will there be another season? I can only believe…

You would have guessed that believe and trust are the main theme and word of this series. It’s like in every episode they try to remind us of this by telling Hinohara, indirectly or not. And that guy would put up that guilt ridden face as though he almost forgot he needed to shoulder such responsibility. Sometimes I feel when this happens, it gets a tad annoying. I understand that Hinohara is a bully victim and it is going to take a long time for him to overcome his trauma. Worse come to worst, he will live with this scar for the rest of his life. But each time in decisive battles, his morale goes low and you have either him remembering about the trust he was entrusted to or some other character reminding him about it or at least say the magic word of “I believe you!” to get him going. It’s like this is his fuel in getting the extra determination to win. You thought he should have at least grown stronger in this department. In the sense that he doesn’t sink so easily into depression (at least he always look the part) whenever he starts remembering Kadowaki or that delinquent kid starts badmouthing and talking trash about him. But this process of filling up Hinohara with that believing encouragement has been repetitive enough that it has become a drag to me.

I guess it is somewhat a reminder to us that believe and trust can serve like double edged swords. They are powerful but yet deadly when misused. Imagine the horrible feeling of putting your entire trust in a person and only to be fully betrayed in the end. Can you blame the victim for not wanting to trust again? It’s a tough call. It’s not about being weak or strong. Depending on the person, if he/she never wants to trust again, the vicious cycle may be repeated again onto others. For Hinohara, he is considered both unlucky and lucky to experience the best and worst of both ends of trust. Sometimes maybe being bullied is like a blessing in disguise because it enabled him to go to this world and given a second chance to improve himself. Though, I feel it’s going to be a long journey but that’s not the point. Along the way, he meets friends and then enemies-turned-friends who end up believing in him and their faith in him do not waver. That’s what true friends are really for, right? So is this kid lucky or not to end up in a mix of good company? He might be a no good shut-in loser on Earth but on Amawakuni, he might just make amends with himself to bring back the self-confidence he once lost.

Hate of course is never a good thing and the way you see it here, it really brings you down especially in the case of Hinohara. I suppose this series tries to subtly hint to us to control and channel our hate to better purposes rather than taking it out on other people who may or may not be guilty or responsible for something. Sometimes when I think about it, maybe the love-hate relationship between Hinohara and Kadowaki (if I can call it this) is some sort of a catalyst to spur Hinohara to greater heights. He might look like the reluctant kid taking on a big responsibility and each time he is being told or reminded about the duty being entrusted, he shrinks and feels the impossible. He has 2 choices. Either he continues and whines like a baby or he gets over his past and moves forward, which is what he did. I mean, after so many times of hearing his pals about believing in him, it would be plain rude and in bad taste if he doesn’t. And if you think about it, sometimes hating something isn’t bad. Like, hating corruption, hating abuse of power, hating extremism, hating racists…

Something more than meets the eye about Kadowaki’s hatred for Hinohara. I can’t believe that they have been good friends for a considerable amount of time to just suddenly become enemies. All the friendship power built up just vanished in that second. So to say they weren’t really true friends to begin with if Kadowaki can let this little incident get to him and grow into a big ball of hate. It felt like just dumb just because Hinohara slowed down for him to win. If this is the case. From what I see, this may not be so since this is only from Kadowaki’s view. We’re not sure of Hinohara’s version since he didn’t really respond to it and even so, I noticed the blur body reaction, like as though he is unaware of what happened. Also like Miyabi pointed out, since he talks so much about Hinohara, despite the hate in it, it just might be his twisted way of caring about him. Maybe he just doesn’t know it but wants a chance to make amends and sets things right. Fighting is perhaps the only way he knows best. And I am just highly speculating this, the next time Hinohara and Kadowaki clash, whatever the outcome will be, they’ll end up as friends again because there will be a more sinister enemy appearing that will threaten the safety of both worlds. Or at least cooperate against a common foe.

The other characters felt somewhat side-lined somewhere halfway throughout the series. Ever since Akachi killed Kannagi’s Zokushos, Kannagi and Kanate ending up in Hinohara’s group and Akachi just bumming around like he’s waiting for something to come or happen, it is one reason why I felt that this season won’t be somewhat completed when it reaches its end and the build-up of showdown between Hinohara and Kadowaki. Kotoha felt like she’s just tagging around and some sort of trust refuelling station for Hinohara. Haha! I know she has an important mission with him but it feels like the only reason why she’s around is because of the lack of main girls in this series. Otherwise, it will totally be a bishonen series ;p. Why not? Hinohara and Kadowaki are not bad looking themselves and the 12 Shinsho like pretty boy Yorunami are hot enough for fan girls to start fantasizing their yaoi fantasies. I bet that if the remaining 6 Sho take off their weird mask, they’ll be totally hot and good looking too. I believe in that. Oh yeah. Otherwise, who is Hinohara going to hug and have a short romantic time with? Thank goodness this series isn’t swinging the yaoi way. Just like Kotoha, I also kept wondering what is Kanate’s role. I know he has nowhere to go since he has parted with Ginchi but he certainly didn’t look like doing anything useful and at certain times, look more like the joker.

The princess’ murder seems distant when it ended and when I still saw her lying in her comatose form, I thought she’s going to lie in that state for a very long time… So hard to live, so hard to die… Bet you forgot that Homura is still in Akachi’s hands, didn’t you? Because I did… Arata on the other hand is bumming around in Hinohara’s world and I suppose there is nothing threatening for him there. Thus the lack of appearance. But I think he has to be a little wary since Harunawa is on the other side now. And some I thought that would be at least a side character, just vanished. Like in Ginchi’s case. Won’t he appear any more since he has returned to his real family? Because he was so close to Kanate, I really thought he would also tag along with the gang. After they part ways, that’s it for him. The way they show Suguru returning on and off feels like he isn’t just some ‘facilitator’ and turning point in Hinohara’s life. There’s something more to this kid too. In a way, Suguru and Hinohara are like the same boat. They seek some sort of redemption after being bully victims. Perhaps if Suguru had the same chance like Hinohara did, he would have turned out better.

Honestly when it comes to the fantasy genre, one thing I dread is usually the terminologies and jargons. It would be worse if they were already hard to remember its definition and also hard to spell and pronounce. Surprisingly for this series, I never did have such problems. It never occurred to me till I finished the series. I could easily understand what a Hayagami, Sho, Zokusho or Kamui is without scratching my head and it took me at least just 2 or 3 times of mentioning before it gets stuck in my head naturally. Although I am not pretty familiar with a country’s local legends, myths or folklore, somehow I have no qualms in accepting the terms presented in this anime. Maybe it is because as compared to those of sci-fi genre, the terms are more simplistic in nature. Since I am not a science student, mixing scientific terms and jargons could be the reason why I loathe such seemingly difficult names.

Action wise, I guess they are rather okay and nothing that spectacular that you would really gawk in awe. It is just a tad disappointment to not see all the 12 Shinsho clash because each of their Hayagami wields different elemental powers and it would be interesting to see how they use them. But even those that we have seen like Kannagi’s Homura or Akachi’s Okoro, they’re just, well, okay. And then we’ve got Hinohara who is holding probably the world’s most powerful sword but since he has to deal with his low self-esteem problem, mostly you see him hesitating and taking the defensive role. He doesn’t really use it to its full potential until dire times when he fully brings out or part of its power. Otherwise he looks like an amateur trying to learn how to use Tsukuyo via trial and error. Of course, you’ve got to put a lot of faith in the sword and those who believe in you :). If you don’t trust the sword or put your life on it, how do you expect the sword to fight for you? On a trivial note, other than the 12 Shinsho, I notice that for the other Zokushos or Shos, their Hayagami’s design looks somewhat mediocre. It’s like they needed to churn out several unique looking swords but failed to do so and leave the best ones to the main characters. These characters got ‘rejects’. Especially when I looked at those of Yorunami’s Zokushos, that bunch of them I thought just looked funny. Man, I thought some of them were just ceremonial items. No kidding.

They put romance as part of the genre heading for this anime. Personally, I feel that it is very lacking and even so just a side distraction. As I have said, Kotoha is the only main girl around and while it might seem it is going to be a reverse harem, it is a good thing that there are no signs that things will turn yaoi. At least for now. Imagine if Hinohara and Kadowaki burying the hatchet and become friends once again. More than just best friends, get what I mean? I am not sure if Kotoha is in love with the original Arata or this Hinohara kid. She first seemed shock to learn that he isn’t the Arata she knew but subsequently her reactions with him indicates that she might be falling for this Hinohara guy, the way they embrace and spend time together. Or maybe she just doesn’t want to get this this-isn’t-the-Arata-I-know mentality get to her head and influence her with all the negative thoughts. Besides, both Aratas are good guys, right? So which of the Aratas is it that she really likes? Maybe both of them? Well, in this way she can no longer feel lonely because either way there will be one Arata from either world by her side. That’s not a bad thing, right? And if you’re wondering about Kanate’s love for Kotoha, I think that guy just wants to flirt and nothing deep. But he knows his place so don’t put too much hope on a love triangle. They’ve got worldy problems so they can’t waste time fighting among themselves for love. Or can they?

If I was thrown in the shoes of Hinohara, I probably would have done the same thing. In the sense that I don’t want to shoulder the responsibility of saving a world and becoming king. I would perhaps give lots of excuses why I cannot, shall not, would not, unable, incapable, unqualified and all the other synonyms that you could think of just to not take up this duty. Yeah. I really feel what Hinohara is shouldering is something too big for an otaku guy like me to handle. Sure, I can imagine and daydream to be like him, better than him. But if you’re asking about reality and to be more down to earth, I think I would really pass. I would end up more like Suguru instead. I’m having such low confidence, you say? Maybe I’d think about it if everyone really gives me the encouragement and start believing in me. Just don’t be disappointed when I betray your trust. I hope this won’t ever have to happen. Believe me, please…

Maken-Ki! OVA 2

December 27, 2013

Those delicious boobs are back. Can’t think of which anime I’m talking? Yeah. I don’t blame you. There are tons of fanservice filled animes out there. I have totally forgotten what Maken-Ki! is about and when they came out with a second OVA, the only reason why they did this was to serve as an appetizer because the series was given the green light for a second season. I don’t remember the storyline or even the power the characters possess except that it is filled with lots of fanservice. That’s the only memorable thing from that show. I guess the producers can’t leave it as it is and saw more fanservice potential and with an increase in horny fans around the world, there is this need to satisfy such lust by producing another OVA before the sequel comes out. Don’t expect much from this single and second OVA that lasts almost half an hour except boobs, boobs and more boobs. I suppose this is where quantity beats quality.

Boobs Paradise…
Our Maken-Ki members are in the midst of their summer camp on some island that I don’t even bother to remember its name. They had lots of fun and most of them are fanservice shots. But why bother about that when you can have more of what is to come. One night when all the girls are passed out (why are they sleeping in their undies? Something must have happened, no?), Haruko wakes up to find a mysterious girl sleeping on her crotch. Who the hell is she and why is she deliciously rubbing her face on it that makes it Haruko’s cue to get turned on? Well, we go back 2 hours earlier. The girls are having fun in the upper floor. As if we have forgotten their names, I guess the producers took the liberty to reintroduce all of them including the important 3 sizes. Kimi wants to make interesting with the topic of the girls telling what kind of boys they like. Those who like boys want to admit Takeru as their number one and those who don’t just curse them. Then she uses her magic tablet to strip the girls into their undies because there are only girls here, right? Isn’t it more fun that way? Yes. To us. Meanwhile the only guys in the club, Takeru and Kengo are downstairs wanting to listen stories of their teachers, Minori and Aki’s days in school as Maken-Ki. WTF?! Beautiful babes up there and they want to hear boring stories from them?! At least try to unleash their horny instincts and go peep on the girls, damn it! Even if they get caught and beaten up, it’s all worth it, right? Isn’t that what summer camps are for? Whoops… So we’ve got Minori slapping Takeru’s face with her boobs and that lucky boy himself gets the honour of fondling Aki’s melons because that drunk teacher allows him too. He jumps at the chance of scaling her twin peaks. Oh yes! It feels good to run his hands and face through those softness. His mountaineering is cut short when Syria spots him doing the despicable act. She is so pissed that she is going to kill him with her element power. I guess Takeru wasn’t fast enough since he is just fresh from having fun and gets zapped.

The next thing Takeru knows, he wakes up and stumbles into the toilet. He is shocked that some unknown girl in the toilet. It took him a while to realize that it is the mirror he is interacting with and that he has turned into a girl! First things first… What does a guy do when he finds himself turned into a girl? Check out your own humongous boobs of course! Now he knows how godly those boobs are, eh? Feeling good? Sure he is. Now he moves over to the lower anatomy… For this part, let’s use our imagination that Takeru is having a great time fidgeting around. I guess he really knows how to turn on a girl. Haha! Then hearing Haruko and the girls bathing next door, this sneaky bastard doesn’t hesitate to strip naked and barge in to join them, claiming himself as Takeko and Minori’s cousin. It didn’t take long for the rest to get acquainted with Takeko and they get physical with their usual skinship around ‘her’. Paradise. Thank God for the boobs. So good. So ultimate. Takeko could have died and gone to heaven when his nose bleeds turned to water into blood bath. That’s how much blood he lost when ‘she’ passed out. Meanwhile Syria is looking for Takeru and is sorry for using too much power on him. She didn’t think of that before she blasted him away, didn’t she? Well girl, you won’t find him outside in the woods because we all know where that guy is right now. Paradise. Takeko joins the rest of the girl in some midnight romp that includes having a breast tournament whereby they beat the crap out of each other using their breasts. Or something close to that. So where to flat chests like Himegami and Kimi stand? Do they have a chance? So the partying went on until the girls fall asleep. And that’s when Haruko wakes up in the dead of the night to wonder who this chick is sucking on her crotch. Then she remembers it is Takeko.

Takeko continues to fondle Haruko’s boob like nobody’s business that ‘she’ just falls short of turning this scene into some hentai rape. Because I think Haruko was enjoying this herself and is about to lose herself when angry Syria barges in. She lets everyone know that this Takeko is actually Takeru. Wait a minute. How did she know that pervert is here? I am guessing she has searched the entire island and realized there could be one place left. Takeko is still in a daze and the girls are horrified especially Haruko who realized that Takeru has seen her everything. She is right to draw her sword and blast him away in the sky. Screw the cabin that is now destroyed. Her modesty is at stake. On a side note, Aki is still playing with herself… I don’t know how they get Takeko back but as they make ‘her’ repent, it is briefly explained that Syria’s element somehow changed his gender. It’s good they made this short because we don’t really care about all that, don’t we? And even if you don’t understand, it doesn’t matter because we don’t really care about that too, don’t we? The problem now is how to change him back. Syria points out a kiss from a girl will just do that. How the heck does she know this? Anyway you can see Takeko’s eyes lighting up because ‘she’ gets to kiss one of them. This guy isn’t repenting. Look how eager ‘she’ is to get a kiss. Inaho will gladly do it because she is Takeru’s fiancee. But this is bugging Haruko. A lot. Before their lips can meet, she breaks them up. Takeko is shoved and Himegami kisses him. Yay! He is turned back. But Himegami slaps him away and he lands onto the lips of another girl. Changed back to a girl. This goes on back and forth and I think Takeru has kissed all the girls while he is being turned into a human tennis ball. By the time he receives his last beating up by Haruko, he is Takeko once more. The girls are fed up and leave, not heeding ‘her’ pleas for one more kiss to change ‘her’ back. It is then Takeko realizes ‘she’ will have to live the rest of ‘her’ life as a girl and date guys and possibly more with the other gender. That’s just horrible, isn’t it? Takeko starts crying. Yes, true tears of despair. ‘She’ deserves it, right? But Haruko returns and gives Takeko a peck on the cheek. Yeah, she felt pitiful seeing him in that state. He is happy and grateful. Hope he learnt his lesson. Meanwhile Kengo suddenly finds himself turned into a girl. Nice big boobs. But the thought of him carrying on as a girl for the rest of his life freaks him out. Somebody change him back!!!

Had Your Fun?
There is no doubt about it. Even the silly plot and the nonsense of how Takeru could easily change into a girl and then back and forth between both genders is absurd. I mean, a kiss actually solves it? So does it mean Takeru cannot get kiss again ever because if he does, he’ll be turned into a girl? Yeah, kiss his perverted life goodbye then. At the end of all his mischief, it has to be Haruko the one who will be his saviour. I’m sure most of the girls feel the same way towards him. He just got too far in his antics. Just for us. Thanks for the ride, Takeru/Takeko. And thus it feels everything was just like a shameless attempt to capitalize on what this series is famous for: Fanservice. But you don’t really care about all that as long as you can see the tits of the girls and their facial expressions which almost borders of going into orgasm. In the end, will you remember anything from this OVA? I’m certain that many will just remember the boobs and tits instead of some of the other characters’ name. Heck, I really had forgotten some of theirs. Now are we ready for the second season? You don’t need to remember names, characters, the storyline or those special power moves as long as you can remember the fanservice, you’re ready to go! We’ll make-n sure that we shall not makenai to those boobs!

I only have myself to blame if I set high expectations of something and then it turns out not what I expected it to be. Just from the glimpse of the words in the title that include ‘Love Comedy’, I thought this would be some sort of nonsensical love comedy slapstick. After all, when love comedies go wrong, it could only mean that, right? Besides, the other clincher that had me thinking that this would be that slapstick comedy is the ridiculously long title. Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru – My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. The main title itself sounds long and suspiciously funny. And they had to add the second title with that SNAFU abbreviation. Google it if you want to know what I mean. If the title doesn’t sound funny, I don’t know what is. Or maybe it could be just me. Yeah. It’s just me, I guess. Heck, even the episode titles are long enough that I thought the producers were lazy to come up with one and just took a sentence and made it the title.

Even if the show didn’t turn out to be a slapstick comedy (I got to stop using this word too often in this blog or else I feel somebody might get irritated and annoyed a lot), I thought I should connect and find this enjoyable in a way because the main protagonist is a loner. Otakus are loners, right? Well, this guy isn’t an otaku but he already is a loner. At least if you look at it from society’s point of view. Thus the main motivation to watch this anime is not the love comedy that you thought it had (heck, I don’t think there is much to begin with), but rather the analytical and critical comments that our main guy depicts from his point of view. It is interesting to note how he sees them and analyzes them based on his own experience. So what happens if he meets another loner character but with a different personality and set of ideals? More interesting and critical comments from different aspects of course. The psychological lessons (if I should call them) should prove an interesting watch and refreshing view on how society works from the point of view of a loner. At least this makes up for the lack of slapstick comedy that I was hoping for.

Episode 1
Hachiman Hikigaya narrates about the ‘evilness’ of youth and how the norms of society mould around it. This guy. Very negative and pessimistic perception. It was supposed to be an essay about looking back at his time in high school and he deservingly gets reprimanded by his language teacher, Shizuka Hiratsuka. Hikigaya even has some wise cracks but teacher is no push over to show who is boss. As punishment for writing such crap, he is taken to the Service Club to meet Yukino Yukinoshita. Hiratsuka wants Yukino to fix Hikigaya’s attitude of being rebellious and a loner. When they are left alone, there is an awkward distance between them. Yukino continues to read her book in a corner while Hikigaya starts analyzing about their prospects of being friends. In order to avoid that from happening, the fastest way is to make her hate him. Too bad he got no balls to do that since she is giving that intimidating stare back at him. While maintaining their distance, he asks her about this club. It is some sort of community service whereby the members reach out to help those in need. Yukino is the only member and now Hikigaya is the newbie. Both of them have different ideologies on friends and there’s sarcasm in every sentence they say. Since this is going nowhere, Hiratsuka decides to hold a contest to see who can serve better. The winner gets to order the loser around. Initially Yukino declines but caves into Hiratsuka’s ‘cheap provocation’. Hikigaya has no say whatsoever. Hikigaya discovers despite Yukino being popular, she reveals she was once a bully victim. Because it is her popularity that becomes the source of jealousy for others to bully her.

Yui Yuigahama walks into the room since Hiratsuka recommended her to come here if she has any request. She wants their help to assist her in baking cookies for a boy she likes. Let’s say when the girls made it, it turns out to look more like charcoal. The problem would be easily fixed if Yui stops cooking but I don’t think that would solve the problem. Yui’s confidence is low so Yukino tells her to stop comparing herself with others because it’s embarrassing to blame her own weakness on others. Despite her harsh words, Yui takes a liking because she was being honest. Hikigaya has an idea and will show them how real handmade cookies are made. When he is done, he lets the girls taste them and they find it ordinary. Yukino finds it awful so Hikigaya wants to throw it away. Not wanting to waste them, Yui thought it wasn’t that bad after all. Hikigaya reveals these cookies are actually made by her. He starts telling his own experience how he thought a girl liked him but got embarrassed when it wasn’t him. The point? Guys are simple creatures. They get the wrong idea just from getting talked to and be happy to just get handmade cookies. He will be moved if he sees her trying her best so it doesn’t need to taste good. The girls don’t believe him and start throwing things at him. Yui gets motivated to do it on her own. Next week, Hikigaya and Yukino ponder if Yui’s effort went well. Yui enters the clubroom to hand them her cookies as gratitude. She would also like to help out with the club.

Episode 2
Once again, yet another sarcastic outlook on society acting in packs by Hikigaya and comparing it like the animal kingdom. He wants to be a bear. Because bears are loners. Say what? And yet again, another reprimanding from Hiratsuka about his misguided essay on how animals live in the wild. She asks his opinion on Yukino. He hates her. Noting their twisted personalities, she is worried they might not fit into society, that’s why she wants to keep them in one place together. A group of students gather around popular Yumiko Miura. Yui has problem talking to her that she wants to eat with Yukino instead with her groupie. Hikigaya didn’t want to get involve with this internal strife but he can’t help it after seeing Yui on the verge of tears while the b*tch dominates the conversation with her arrogance. Then he changes his mind after seeing her deadly aura that tells him to shut up or else. Yumiko continues to chide Yui for not being able to say things straight till Yukino enters the picture, wondering why Yui is late for their lunch meeting. Yukino’s sarcasm ticks off Yumiko for forcing her own beliefs on others. Everyone senses the tense atmosphere so it’s a sign to get out. Yui and Yumiko are left in the classroom so they somewhat reconcile. Although Yui thanks Hikigaya for standing up for her earlier, she isn’t happy he was eavesdropping outside with Yukino. I thought they were waiting for her to finish up things?

In the clubroom, Yoshiteru Zaimokuza. He is waiting for Hikigaya and has a serious case of chuunibyou. I don’t blame Hikigaya if he claims he doesn’t know this guy. Since Yukino points out the Service Club does not grant wishes, he downgrades for them to assist him. Take over Japan? This guy is creeping Yui out with his sick delusions. Anyway as pointed out by Hikigaya, he is acting out his chuunibyou because he shares the same name of some shogun so it’s not entirely a fantasy. Because Hikigaya’s name is based on some god of war, that’s why Zaimokuza calls him his comrade. His request isn’t actually to cure his chuunibyou but to get their opinion on a fantasy novel he is writing. He wants to enter it in a contest. Since he has no friends, he can’t get any opinions. The trio take back his script and read. So boring that well, I don’t know if they are lacking sleep or just fell asleep. Except Yui. Because she didn’t read it. I think in a way it spared her the ordeal. Yukino tells him straight all the bad points. I think everything is. You don’t want to have her as your book review critic. After going through that torture, I can see why Yukino has lots to say. And guess what? The story isn’t actually finished either. When it’s Hikigaya’s turn to comment, he just asks which story he copied his work from. That’s just mean, no? Although Zaimokuza is depressed, he is happy to have received feedback and got the balls to even ask them to read his work again. If he gets a new idea. Yeah. Writer’s block. Next day, Zaimokuza gets ahead of himself thinking if his work would win an award, turn into anime, get a voice actress he wants and marry her! Sure. If he ever writes his story first.

Episode 3
Hikigaya gets his wish when he is the odd one out during tennis so gets to play alone. That’s like playing squash, right? Yui joins Hikigaya to chat when he is enjoying lunch by himself. Can’t let a guy eat in peace? Their classmate, Saika Totsuka joins in. If you’re wondering, he is a guy. Trap potential. Enough said. I hope Hikigaya’s gay instincts won’t awaken because there is this lovely flowery effect each time he sees him talk. Saika hopes Hikigaya would join the tennis club since the seniors are about to retire and their club isn’t that strong. Talking to Yukino about this, she is sceptical about him joining because speaking from experience, the tennis club members won’t let him be part of them. They might come together as a team in finding a new mutual enemy in him. When she studied abroad, they tried to eliminate her. Because of that they were so fixated on that instead of improving themselves to surpass her. Yui brings Saika to the club as the latter requests for them to help with the club practice. Yui is disheartened when Yukino points out she isn’t a formal member because she never wrote in a formal letter. Yui is accepted when she quickly writes one. Yui and Saika undergo training under Yukino’s eyes while Hikigaya is just erm, watching ants. Is this more interesting? Yumiko and her groupie see them practise and she is interested to play. Since Yumiko is close to confrontational, Hayato Hayama tries to solve it amicably with Hikigaya but the latter gets sarcastic about Hayato having good looks and popular with the ladies and thus used to getting what he wants and now he wants to take this tennis court. Thus a competition is decided. They will play doubles and the winners will get to use this place during lunch and help Saika with his practice.

Yumiko-Hayato goes up against Yui-Hikigaya. Yumiko proves she is no pushover because she once made it to the prefectural tournament during middle school. Yui sprains her ankle so Hikigaya just wants her to stand around while he does something. Do what? Go on his knees and beg for forgiveness. WTF. However Yui brings Yukino to replace her. The usual mockery between the girls before they square off. Gradually, Yukino dominates the game however as the game drags on, she finds herself running out of stamina. She leaves it to Hikigaya to settle the score. For real? She may have spewed gaffes and insults but has never lied. From what Hikigaya explains, due to his time spent alone, he always played tennis by himself. So he has learnt to analyze and use to wind for this magic shot of his to even the score. Hikigaya serves a high ball, a technique he always uses when he plays by himself (so it makes it look like he is playing himself as his own opponent). Yumiko tries to get it but is in danger of running into the fence. Hayato saves her and this has the spectators cheer on them like lovebirds. Hikigaya’s win is totally ignored. Saika thanks Hikigaya but he says he should be thanking them and not him. Hikigaya notes the God of romantic comedies must be screwing around with him for this homo pairing (Yui is all over Yukino too). I suppose God heard his complaint so makes it the way Hikigaya wants them by having him walk into the clubroom while the girls are in the midst of changing and they throw the racquet at his face. Ah, classic. That’s how it’s done.

Episode 4
We are introduced to Hikigaya’s little sister, Komachi, lively but a little ditzy. As he cycles her to school, he remembers on the first day of high school, he got involved in a car accident after trying to save a dog and spent his first few days hospitalized. That’s when his loner syndrome kicked in. Yet again, Hiratsuka reprimands Hikigaya for another crap essay about wanting to be a full time house husband. Rewrite it again. Or else. She reminds him of the workplace survey and to be in groups of three. In the clubroom, Yui gets permission to have Hikigaya’s number. They’re friends, right? But Yui can’t believe he has texted girls before. From what he says, the girls can tell the girl he texted ignored his mail and to stop averting his eyes from reality. Hayato enters the clubroom seeking for a request. He shows them chain mails about bad rumours of his friends. He doesn’t want to find out the culprit but just make this stop. But Yukino insists that the perpetrator must be caught because the only way to stop this is to eliminate that person. She speaks from experience. So she really eliminated the source? Hikigaya thinks the workplace visit must have got something to do with this since that is when the rumours started circulating. Seeing that Hayato is a popular guy, the culprit may be one of them trying to kick the other out so they could be with him. Yukino has Hayato list down the personalities of his friends but it seems she twists and rephrases their good points into negative ones! Wow. That’s some deep analysis and she’s pretty good in that. Or she’s just sceptical about people having good points. Since there isn’t much conclusion from the descriptions (how could they?), Yukino suggests Yui and Hikigaya to observe them since they are in the same class.

Yui goes first by asking Yukino and Hina Ebina via girl’s talk. However they misinterpret she is interested in them and pester her to spill which one she likes. This somewhat turns on Ebina’s yaoi switch because she gets excited about the thought all of them being gay and gunning for Hayato’s ass. Dangerous girl… Now it’s Hikigaya’s turn as he uses his observation skills for the job. He notices how Hayato is mixing so freely with them and they are as lively as they are. He is interrupted when Saika comes by to ask if he could be part of the group for the workplace visit. Hikigaya asserts he has no guy friends (I thought he sees Saika close to a girl?). When Hayato goes to talk to Hikigaya, the latter realizes a vital clue. He makes his revelation to his pals about Hayato’s friends being his friend. But among themselves they are just mere acquaintances or friend of a friend. In short, whenever Hayato is around, they become lively but when he is away, none of them speaks to each other. He even proposes a way that will have them become friends and won’t fight anymore. That move is to make all 3 of them in the same group for the workplace visit. In no time the trio are chatting with each other normally. Hikigaya just dragged out Hayato, the source of the ‘problem’. Since Hayato is not in any group, he hopes Hikigaya could join him. Saika too. Because he has been bugging him for it from the start. Hikigaya ponders if this is friendship but when everyone sees the workplace Hayato wants to visit, they too want to visit that place and Hikigaya as usual is ignored.

Episode 5
Hikigaya tries to give excuses for his tardiness to Hiratsuka. Being late = justice? She doesn’t buy that crap. Speaking of problem kids, here’s another one waltzing in late: Saki Kawasaki. Hikigaya bumps into Yukino, Yui and Saika studying at the fast food outlet when Komachi brings her classmate Taishi to them. He is Saki’s younger brother. He has a request of them and is worried about Saki who has changed this year. Before you can blame it is Hikigaya’s fault from how she changed into a nice model student into a seemingly delinquent that returns home in the wee hours of the morning, because this trouble only began coincidentally when they are put in the same class this year. So Yukino suggests using some animal assisted therapy to draw out her inner kindness by using Hikigaya’s cat and make her adopt it. However Taishi calls to tell them she is allergic to them (but Yukino seems to be having a fun time with it). They watch Hiratsuka trying to get Saki to talk about her problems and think about her future. However Saki shoots back she’ll never understand due to her being single and all that. That must have hurt her heart very badly. Yui uses Hayato to help Saki but he got rejected. Hikigaya can’t help laugh his ass off. Popular guy gets rejected? Nobody’s perfect. Komachi calls her brother to tell him Taishi heard Saki got a call from a weird café named Angel or something. There are only 2 cafes in town that opens up till the wee hours of morning. The first is some maid café. Because Hikigaya doesn’t know much about this, he calls Zaimokuza for help. He should know better. But who else can he turn to? The girls are dressed in maid outfits. Sorry for those who would love to see the trap in maid outfit, be sorely disappointed. Although you get to see it shortly through Zaimokuza’s delusion. I don’t even want to think about it. Since Saki’s name is not on the shift schedule, they conclude it is the other café located on the top floor of a posh hotel.

Only Hikigaya, Yukino and Yui enter because they have the dress to look like the part. They see Saki working as a bartender. Yukino and Saki talk in codes in which Hikigaya was kind enough to translate to Yui (and us) that what they are implying is because minors are prohibited to work this late, Saki may have lied about her age. Saki hits a nerve of Yukino when she mentions she wouldn’t understand a thing since she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. If her family’s business is not her concern then hers should be too. When they leave, Hikigaya tells Saki to meet them at the fast food outlet tomorrow to talk. Saki is surprised to see Taishi there too. Hikigaya makes a guess why she is working. In short, she needs the money to go to college and doesn’t want to burden her parents who are both working. Komachi adds that both their parents work too and since she hated coming back to an empty house, she tried to run away once. However it was her brother who came after her. Since then, Hikigaya always started coming home earlier (and partly as Yukino pointed out, he has no friends!) and this made Komachi feel better. So the Kawasaki siblings somewhat reconcile realizing they don’t want to burden each other. As they leave, Hikigaya learns from Komachi that Yui is the girl who frequented the hospital to give him snacks when he broke his leg. Yup. It was her dog he saved. After the workplace visit, Hikigaya confronts Yui to tell her that saving her dog was just coincidence. He would still be a loner even if there was no accident. That’s why he wants her to stop being nice to him. There is no reason for her to feel guilty and responsible for what happened. Quit being nice to him out of guilt. Apparently he made her cry… We hear Hikigaya’s narration why he hates nice girls. Something about having expectations of it only to end up in some misunderstanding and a lie. That’s why at some point he stopped hoping and as an experienced loner, he won’t fall the same trap twice. When it comes to losing, he is the strongest.

Episode 6
A week has passed and since Yui is acting like normal, Hikigaya thinks the problem has blown over. Not quite because Yui hasn’t been showing up at the club either. Hiratsuka suggests Hikigaya and Yukino to have a battle royale. With just 2 people? She thinks if they want to recruit others, it’s fine. What about Yui? Although she hasn’t quit the club yet, her absence is a sign that she is as good as gone. Hiratsuka throws them another task to find another member by Monday seeing based on her observation that they are more active when they have more members. Yukino talks to Hikigaya about getting Yui back and a certain date that is Yui’s birthday. She wants to celebrate it and give thanks and asks Hikigaya to go out with her. To buy Yui a gift of course. Komachi tags along too but she went off herself since she has tons of stuffs to buy. Is she really shopping for the present? Because Yukino’s sense is different from ordinary high school girls, she allows Hikigaya to get close to her for today. In other words, act like her boyfriend. Hikigaya knows Yukino won’t lie and thus no misunderstanding should arise. Just act. That’s it. Halfway through their browsing, they bump into Yukino’s older sister, Haruno. Of course she is interesting in prodding them about their relationship. Especially Hikigaya. Since they’re not, she hopes if they do start dating, they should come drink with her. A dog is seen running towards them. Yukino starts feeling scared and hovers closely to Hikigaya. The dog seems to like that guy and jumps on him. The owner turns out to be Yui and she misinterprets Hikigaya and Yukino’s closeness despite trying to put up a brave front that it is nothing to her. Yukino wants her to come to the clubroom on Monday to clear things up. There, because Yukino and Yui are being ambiguous with their words, both are talking about different things (one about birthday celebration and the other about dating celebration). Hikigaya spots this and clears this up. Yukino gives her present as her birthday and token of appreciation. Hikigaya also gives his but in addition to her birthday, this is to call it even. This is for saving her dog and her guilty feeling. He didn’t do it to get any favours. Of course Yui says she didn’t do this out of pity or guilt. She doesn’t know how to explain so Yukino does the honours. Hikigaya had no intention of helping Yui and Yui had no recollection of pitying him. Everything was wrong from the start. Hikigaya’s decision to end it here is correct so they can start anew since neither of them was at fault so there’s no cause of argument in the first place. Yui opens Hikigaya’s present but finds the collar a little too tight. That’s because it’s for her dog…

Episode 7
Hikigaya ignores spams of calls and texts from Hiratsuka. So when he takes a peek, it’s about some activities for the Service Club. Each succeeding text gets shorter and scarier. Is it a wonder why she is still single? As Hikigaya sarcastically puts it, she loves him too much. He agrees to accompany Komachi to Chiba but it turns out to be a ploy from Hiratsuka using her to get him to meet up with the rest of the club members. They arrive at a summer camp, they will be doing a communal service as camp counsellors for the kids. Since Hayato’s group is also here, Hikigaya thought he’s not here to make friends with them (as part of Hiratsuka’s plan to make the Service Club members more sociable). Hiratsuka puts it they don’t need to be friends. Just learn to live and deal with them smoothly without fighting or ignoring them. While they are helping out with the kids, they notice a loner girl among the pack, Rumi Tsurumi (mini Yukino?). Although Hayato easily talks to her (as Hikigaya puts it, so smooth that it’s creepy) and brings her to mix with the other girls, pretty soon they ignore her and she’s back fidgeting with her own gadget alone. While making food, once more they notice Rumi doing things alone. Hikigaya and Yukino go talk to her. Yukino as usual with her icy harsh words (Rumi could equally match her if they go on). Yui is better in trying to persuade her to make friends but Rumi insists she doesn’t need such memories and can get her own new friends when she enters middle friends. Yukino tells her the girls who ignore her would end up in the same middle school and with other people from other schools as well, she’ll receive the same treatment. Rumi explains this isn’t the first time they shunned people but usually they’ll soon be on talking terms. She doesn’t know what she did wrong to get shunned for so long.

The counsellors along with Hiratsuka discuss about Rumi’s case and want to do something about it. Hikigaya recognizes that being alone isn’t bad. The problem is she is forced to be alone due to others’ ill will. Hayato wants to do what he can but was quickly shot down by Yukino. He looks pretty saddened with that reply. Yukino thought they would help if she just asks but Yui points out it isn’t as easy. She won’t even ask even if she wants to because Rumi might feel unfair she got help since no one else did. Everyone continues to discuss till Ebina comes up with this idea that no girls would hate homos! See where this is going. They shut her up but the argument heats up between Yukino and Yumiko. The latter chiding the former about her f*cked up attitude. The rest thought Rumi is just disillusioned and hard to blend in but Yumiko thinks she is more like looking down on them and got shunned because of her arrogance. Yukino throws this back at Yumiko. Before a full fledge cat fight can happen, Hayato tells her to stop. That night Hikigaya can’t sleep because he is aroused hearing Saika murmuring his name in his sleep! Creepy! He goes out and sees Yukino staring at the sky. It’s that sarcasm again wishing for him to just sleep forever. She is out here because she got into an argument with Yumiko and she was reduced to tears. While Yui is consoling her, thus she is out here. Yukino reveals she and Hayato went to the same elementary school. Their parents knew each other. His father is the lawyer of her family. Anything involving the family’s reputation falls under her sister’s job. She feels herself as a replacement. Nevertheless she is glad to have come here.

Episode 8
Hikigaya is so happy he could die because Saika requests for his handphone number. Now his handphone is more than just an alarm clock or time killing feature. As the kids have the day free before the kimodameshi tonight, the counsellors set up wood for the bonfire and then play some water at the nearby river. This is your chance to catch the girls in their swimsuit. Hikigaya sits out since he didn’t bring his and sitting next to him is Rumi. She wonders if Hikigaya has friends in elementary school so he starts calculating some theory of his about the probability of them being still friends down the road. Grim. Rumi’s mom kept asking her if she gets along with her friends and wanted her to take some pictures. But she feels she can’t do it as she is shunned. It’s miserable but she can’t do anything about it because did it to others before. Since it’s useless to try again, she thought it’s okay to stop trying since she thinks she can’t get along with them anymore. Hikigaya concludes she has already given up and about people judging others based on their own stereotypes. The problem is the world cannot change so it’s you who will have to change. How to do that? Be the god of your new world. For kimodameshi, the counsellors find their ghostly costumes more like for cosplay. Is a wizard a monster? What the hell? They get down discussing to solve Rumi’s problem. For Hikigaya it is easy. Since the problem is human relationship, destroy that and the problem ends. Because if everyone is a loner, there will be no wars or suffering.

Kimodameshi begins and Yui is so cute than scary that the kids are laughing at her! Rumi is in the last group and as usual, she feels isolated. They meet Hayato and Yumiko in their normal clothes. Weren’t they supposed to be monsters? They tease them when suddenly the counsellors act like gangsters. Because they don’t like being made fun of, they’re going to teach them a lesson about respect. This causes the girls to start feeling afraid. I guess acting like gangsters is far scarier than ghosts, huh? Although they apologize, Hayato says he will only let 2 pass and the other 3 to be left behind for their punishment. They will decide who will stay. Everyone first singles out Rumi and she doesn’t resist. When it comes down to the quartet, Hayato and Yumiko start getting scarier and they are forced to choose among themselves and start blaming each other. This is part of Hikigaya’s plan to split them apart because of some society norm that lays the blame on others and subordination. In the end, 3 of them gang up to single out Yuka but they have to decide the final one. They are threatened not to tell because they know their faces. All that’s left now is to pop out and say “Gotcha! You’ve been had”. However Rumi uses her flash camera to blind them and takes the girls to run away. Hikigaya concludes even though she is not their friend, she still wanted to save them, which makes her pretty much a real friend. So it’s an odd atmosphere for the quartet during the bonfire. Hiratsuka is impressed with Hikigaya’s technique but it could’ve been risky had it not gone well. Only the lowest of the lowest can come up with such low method. Is that a compliment or insult? Yukino notes no one will thank him (in which Rumi didn’t even say a word) but it’s not like he is doing it to get something in return. He thinks as long as some good can come out of it, they can still forgive you. Even Hayato has something to say. He experienced a similar situation himself back in school but he stood there and only watched. He wonders if it will be different if Hikigaya went to the same elementary school with him. Probably not. Just another loner. The camp ends and before everyone parts at the school gates, Haruno is here to pick up Yukino. She teases Hikigaya and Yukino being an item and is relieved Yui is just his classmate. She was worried she’d be in Yukino’s way. I think she’s just joking. Haruno knows Hiratsuka because she was once her student. When Haruno tells Yukino their mom wants to see her, she leaves with a sad face. Yui points out to Hikigaya if the limo looks familiar. He feigns ignorance. Because he well knows that was the car that almost ran over Yui’s dog he saved and got him hospitalized. They never saw Yukino for the rest of summer.

Episode 9
As thanks for taking care of Yui’s dog, she invites Hikigaya and Komachi to watch the fireworks. But it is Komachi’s ploy to hook Hikigaya up with her by feigning she can’t go, have stuffs to, blah, blah, blah. She wants him to go with Yui to get some stuff for her. Hikigaya isn’t dumb and he knows where this is going but can he say no when little sister is giving him that evil glare? Hikigaya waits for Yui (stumbling her way in with her yukata) at the train station. There are a few situations that might have given rise to a certain flag but Hikigaya will not be cowed into such destiny or fate. He thinks he is not an ordinary guy, otherwise he would have fallen for her. At the festival, Yui stumbles upon her classmates. They think they’re on a date though Yui maintains it’s not like that. Hikigaya sarcastically notes if it was Hayato, everything would have been totally different. With the crowd building up and the fireworks starting, they bump into Haruno and she takes her to the VIP seats. She is here to represent her father whose job is to deal with the government lot. Haruno whispers to him that it’s not good to have an affair though he asserts it’s not. All the more reason why she can’t let this slide now. Talking about Yukino, Haruno mentions she wants to attend a public university for sciences nearby. She has never changed. Always matching. Always hand me downs. Yui wonders if she dislikes her sister. On the contrary she loves her. What about Yui? She does too but it’s hard to tell sometimes but she’s nice. Haruno hopes they can continue to stay that way because in the end they all get jealous and avoid her. When it’s time to leave, Haruno offers a ride home in her limo. Hikigaya is hesitant to enter so Haruno assures there aren’t any of those accident marks. She realizes she might have said the wrong thing and says it wasn’t Yukino’s fault either as she was just sitting at the back. Hikigaya doesn’t sound convincing when he believes Yukino didn’t cause the accident and won’t dwell on the past. Hikigaya walks Yui home. They talk about some things are better left not known. Yui believes he will still step in to help regardless of whether he knows who he is helping or not, accident or not. Like how he saved her. Yui wanted to say something but was interrupted by a call from her mom. School term is back. Hikigaya and Yukino meet for the first time in ‘ages’. They didn’t say anything much before parting. Hikigaya narrates he loves himself and never hated himself. But right now he is on the verge of that because the Yukino he has known was always beautiful, honest, unable to lie and independent. He always admired her, chose to expect things from her, chose to know her and then got disappointed. He still can’t accept the fact Yukino lies and that’s why he is starting to hate himself.

Episode 10
Hiratsuka forces Hikigaya to become the male class rep for the cultural festival. As for the female rep, Minami Sagami seems ‘reluctant’ but volunteers when nobody else does. At the festival committee meeting chaired by the student council president, Meguri Shiromeguri, she wonders if anyone would like to volunteer to be the chairwoman. She thought Yukino would be ideal since her sister was once on it. However she wants to be only a committee member. Sagami volunteers once more seeing this is a perfect opportunity for her to grow. Yukino plans to suspend all activities for the Service Club until after the festival when Sagami and her friends enter to request for assistance for the festival. She agrees as long as it’s within those boundaries. Yui didn’t like this setting but Yukino says she is doing this alone and is more effective this way as she has an idea on the job scope. During the meeting, Yukino becomes the vice to Sagami and she is handling things more thoroughly than the chairwoman herself. Makes you wonder who the one really in charge is. Hikigaya’s class is doing a play. Thanks to Ebina and her yaoi theme between Hayato and Hikigaya (“Must gay!”). Since Hikigaya is on the committee, she settles for Hayato and Saika. When Hikigaya goes to the committee, he sees Haruno wanting to participate. Yukino doesn’t sound happy but she’s not the one who is approving. With Sagami waltzing in late, she learns of what is happening and agrees to let Haruno in. Maintaining relationships with people in the region? Sagami then makes a suggestion that will have the committee enjoy the festival and get a little breather. Yukino doesn’t approve since they are short of time and manpower. Sagami thought to keep personal matters out and think about what everybody wants. Hayato then comes in to hand in his group’s participation. He can tell Yukino is taking care of everything and knows things will turn into a disaster soon and should rely on others before things get out of hand. Hayato offers to help out and though Hikigaya thinks this work delegation is okay, it makes him wonder if doing everything by yourself is wrong. Why should someone who has been alone for so long be criticized? Relying on others is important but from what he sees is that everyone was relying on others in the first place. Sagami arrives late again and this time Yukino reminds her about her responsibility to stamp the approval. Because such duties can be easily done via proxy, Sagami gives her this responsibility of approving it on her behalf. Because Yukino takes home most of her work, she ends up with a cold the next day and is absent from school.

Episode 11
Hikigaya calls Yui about Yukino being sick. So they go to visit her home to talk. Yukino asserts she is okay and can work from home but Yui isn’t happy the way things turned out. Yui hopes she could rely on them instead of others. Yukino says she would one day but now it’s a difficult time for her. When Yukino is back for the festival committee, they discuss the slogan for the festival. There are some weird ones and when Sagami comes up with hers, Hikigaya indirectly teases hers. So he comes up with his own using the word ‘person’. Based on the kanji writing, it he talks about slacking off and the use of sacrifice in which he points out that everyone has been shoving work to him and using him as a scapegoat. Haruno laughs like mad. Yukino also tries to hide her laughter and once she composes herself, she rejects his notion and ends the meeting. Later Yukino talks to Hikigaya about his weird method trying to make everyone see they are not working their hardest by making excuses. Next day, the committee starts working harder. Haruno talks to Hikigaya how he made everyone his enemy by playing the villain. In a way, it made them united against him so if he works harder, it might just motivate them all to work even harder to surpass him. Yukino then dumps more work on him. On the day the festival starts, the opening ceremony seems to go well till it is Sagami’s turn to give the opening speech. She falters badly due to her stage fright and is obviously nervous. The festival gets underway and Ebina’s yaoi play is a freaking hit among the girls! She could have soaked the floor with her blood… Yui has lunch with Hikigaya and he wonders what the girls talked that night when they visited Yukino after he left early. Nothing much. Yui decides to wait for her and thinks she is trying her best to approach them and talk. But she won’t wait for someone who won’t try even if you wait so she won’t and will do it herself. Hikigaya wants to pay for his portion of lunch and since he insists on paying her back, he realized too late that Yui had asked him out. Meanwhile Sagami has locked herself alone in the toilet cubicle. She seems depressed of her inability to do anything.

Episode 12
The festival is now in its last day. Haruno as the conductor puts up a flashy and amazing jazzy orchestra performance. However Hikigaya and Yukino learn that Sagami is missing and without her, they can’t close the ceremony because only she has the results and figures for some awards needed for it. Once Hayato learns of this, he is willing to put on another performance to buy them time to look for her. Even so, Hikigaya is not confident if he can find her in that time. Yukino then asks Haruno for a favour. There is no penalty in rejecting it but merit. Do so and she will be indebted to her. With that, Haruno accepts her favour and the girls will put up a band performance. Haruno on drums, Meguri on keyboards, Hiratsuka on bass and Yukino on guitars. Now all they need is a vocalist and Yukino hopes Yui can do it. She is more than glad to do so. Hikigaya needs to narrow down the places to search for Sagami and calls Zaimokuza for suggestions. He finally finds her in one of the suggested place, the rooftop. She seems pretty frustrated and putting up a tantrum of not wanting to do her job. That’s when Hayato and Sagami’s friends enter the scene. They asked around and heard from somebody who saw Hikigaya went up here. Hayato’s friendliness and kindness to request Sagami to come back seem to be working. It’s like she’s totally changed. Is it because of him? But Hikigaya decides to do things his own way and plays the villain again. He tells Sagami off that she is doing it for the attention and just wanted somebody to tell her she is not doing a horrible job. She wanted to be like Yukino, acknowledged and relied upon and that’s why she jumped in to take the chairwoman title so that she wanted to watch someone else work and boss them around to feel superior. That’s what she meant about her personal growth. He pours further salt to her injuries when he says he doesn’t give a damn about her but is the first one to find her. This means nobody was looking for her in the first place and it shows her worth. Hayato roughs Hikigaya up to tell him to shut up. Sagami is consoled by her friends and brought back. Hayato wonders why Hikigaya can’t do things differently.

The makeshift K-ON! band has just finished their performance. Sagami closes the ceremony but she fumbles due to her nervousness. At the end of the festival, Hikigaya’s ‘heroism’ has spread throughout school and he becomes the school’s most hated man. Hiratsuka notes his amazing ideas but just can’t find the words to praise him for it. All she can say is that saving someone is not an excuse to hurt himself. Even if he denies this, she points out that there are people whose heart breaks each time they see him hurting himself. Hikigaya returns to the clubroom and finds Yukino alone. They aren’t joining the after festival party. After Hikigaya’s new reputation, you think he is welcomed? I’m not sure if Hikigaya is putting up a brave front saying he likes this kind of fame too. Yukino says they think similarly but he disagrees. They’re completely different. Maybe that’s why he feels their conversation is always refreshing. Before he gets a chance to finish asking if they could be friends, she rejects him. She told him before it is impossible for them to be friends and is not lying. He notes she can lie all the time like what he does. Yukino knows she wasn’t lying because she didn’t know him well. Now she does. Yui comes in to invite them to the after festival party but each give their excuses that they had to complete their work. Yui is more than happy to wait for them to finish.

Episode 13
Service Club seems to have a request made on their website. Somebody is seeking for advice and ideas how to make the sports festival a blast. That somebody turns out to be Meguri as she enters the clubroom. Because nobody replied her, she figured out of visiting the club directly. After seeing how successful the cultural festival was, she thought of doing the same for the sports festival. Since she has hard time remembering names, she is excited when she manages to remember Hikigaya’s (after not-so-nice comments from Yukino and accidental ones from Yui). She is quite close to him that it makes Yui jealous. So Meguri brings the trio to the committee to give some ideas. Each time someone comes up with some event, somebody shoots it down. Trying to play safe? I mean, the reason why they can’t hold a bread eating competition is because they might stoke the wrath of those who love rice. WTF?! So the ideas get more and more silly that they didn’t make any progress. Thus Hikigaya suggests that they get their ideas from somebody outside the committee. What was he thinking when he roped in Zaimokuza and Ebina? Passionate as they are, it seems their ideas went through. How come I feel worried? On sports day, Meguri is excited and thanks them because it is going to be so much fun. She is on the same red team with Yui, Yukino, Hikigaya, Zaimokuza and Saika. Every other supporting character you know is on the other white team. Zaimokuza’s idea is a slightly twisted cavalry version. The female generals are dressed as modified Saber of Fate/Stay Night. Why? Because he likes it! I wonder if they can move in that armour. Anyway red team wins it with Yukino being skilled in taking those headbands.

As for Ebina’s idea, it is some bringing down the pole thingy. I’m not sure about the mechanics but in order to prevent the other team from bringing down your home pole, you must stop the other players from advancing. This means boys piling on top of each other, right? See where this is going? Hikigaya hatches a plan by making Saika the team leader. See the guys getting charmed by his feminine looks? Man, this is ‘dangerous’. And then, he has Zaimokuza rally those without motivation with his whatever-the-hell-he-is-passionately-ranting speech. As the game starts with both sides trying to prevent the other from reaching enemy home base, Ebina gets all lively in commenting her favourite stuff. As part of the plan, Zaimokuza starts getting dramatic and this distracts the white team. They’re thinking what the hell this mad guy is doing. This allows Hikigaya to easily waltz over to the enemy’s base because after years of being an experienced loner, he has somewhat developed this kind of ‘stealth’. However, Hayato has been watching him and stands in his way. He orders some of his underlings to hold Hikigaya back and knows about his decoy plan. But Hayato is left surprised when Hikigaya gives the signal to Zaimokuza. He rushes towards to pole and pushes it down to win it for his team. Hikigaya was just a decoy for a decoy. Geddit? Saika is so happy that he hugs Hikigaya. I think that is the climax for Ebina. However at the end of the day, the red team got disqualified because Hikigaya used a bandage to camouflage his red headband as a white one. He thought nobody would see but in fact, everybody saw it clearly! So much about his stealth. So as our Service Club members look forward to next year, Hikigaya had to pour cold water suggesting they might not be even on the same team. Yukino thinks it is better that way since it will be interesting if they become enemies. Hikigaya ends with his typical narration that the day after the festival is just like any other ordinary day. There are things you can’t do over in life and whether you like it or not, life goes on.

Hikigaya narrates his negativity on marriage. It’s like death, right? Till Komachi makes tomatoes for him, he starts complaining and she comments he’ll never get married this way. But having a little sister is as good as being married? At the Service Club, Hiratsuka announces they will be helping out in some ways for a bridal magazine. The local government, bridal shops and hotels are banding together to make marriage look more appealing to youngsters but seriously, why does the Service Club have to get involved? No straight answers from Hiratsuka. Because she’s an inexperienced single? Marriage virgin, if I should say. I guess the rest have to give in seeing she’s going to break down further if they continue questioning her. Hikigaya suggests writing fake articles but even so that will take time and effort. Since Hikigaya or Yukino cannot come up with ‘normal’ ideas, they have Yui the normal one give her suggestions. Well, not good. How can everyone? Nobody got married at this age. It is decided that they will conduct a questionnaire and limit it to their class since the deadline is very close. Just by reading the ‘honest’ comments, you can tell who they are. Guess who is concerned about the Hayato x Hikigaya pairing in marriage? Uh huh. Yukino suggests next to get a teen who went through similar experience. That person also is also an expert in performing a thankless job of taking care of a useless deadweight. Hikigaya would really love to meet and get to know this girl. Turns out to be Komachi. Disappointed?

From Komachi’s point of view, she suggests to increase wife points. Huh? What’s that? To sum it up, she’s going to have the girls undergo some bridal crash course. First, cooking. Yui’s hamburger turns out to be some deadly blob. Zaimokuza hits instant death upon putting it in his mouth. Hikigaya doesn’t have to do it because he is so bent in protecting Saika’s smile, he swallows everything! Not because he doesn’t want to hurt Yui. Yukino and Hiratsuka’s cooking are simply delicious. Next is a quiz but Hikigaya is taking part too since he plans to be a house husband. For each question Komachi throws, everyone answers based on their personality (‘best’ answers go to Hikigaya), which is totally off mark to what Komachi has in her answer. Either realistic or naive. Lastly, the girls have to dress up in a bridal gown. The surprise package, Hiratsuka looks stunning in one! It’s like she’s a different person! Komachi is about to announce the results that everyone failed miserably and she herself as the winner. But because Hiratsuka is giving her deathly stares, she chickens out proclaims Hiratsuka as the winner. It ends with everyone having a group photo. Ah, this is what a harem should look like. The main guy marrying his sister, his friends and his teacher. Just so sad Hikigaya is disappointed since he didn’t get to see Saika in a wedding dress…  Back home, Hikigaya starts working on the article as fast as his can since the deadline is looming and has been given a warning by Yukino. He comments no amount of preparation could prepare one from the unforeseen grief in marriage. But everyone has a right to be happy. To prepare for such, one must work for the best possible outcome. Wow. He sounds like a marriage expert. In conclusion, all ladies must stake their claims on all promising future house husbands out there waiting for them. I guess he is trying to advertise himself.

When Life Gives You Lemons…
Seriously. I admit. I had a hard time trying to enjoy this anime. I know I said the psychological comments are the interesting aspects of this series but there is only so much this factor can play in contributing to my enjoyment of this series. Maybe it is because of that expectation of wondering where-the-heck-is-my-love-comedy-slapstick riding at the back of my head and hoping somewhere in the series there will be this super twist in the pace. I’m even amazed of how I even come up with that kind of hope. By the end of the first episode, something tells me that this is going to be what the series is about. The kind of characters, pacing, plot, development… Everything else. And true enough right till the very end this is pretty much how this show is about. A couple of loners in a club using their own perceptive and suggestions to help out what is requested.

Hikigaya’s psychological analysis are amusing and interesting, sometimes amounting to hilarious the way he puts them. Because most of his comments have this negative outlook and sounding to them, sometimes they sound more like sarcasm. It reminds me of that Kyousuke character from Ore No Imouto Ga Konna Ni Kawaii Wake Ga Nai (coincidence this anime had a long title too?). Come to think about it, don’t they look suspiciously similar too?! The hairstyle and that big frown on their face that says “I wish I wasn’t here”. Even the way they talk and the way they rebuke are somewhat quite similar. Yeah, they have sisters too although their personalities are poles apart.

Though sometimes it was hard for me to understand Hikigaya’s analysis, each one of them is nevertheless interesting to hear and note. It makes you go “Aha!” or at least ponder the point he brings up about how society works. It certainly grabs your attention (at least for me) and somewhat refreshing to hear them as they are from a different point of view, especially if you could consider Hikigaya’s approach to it as pragmatic. I think it is. If you think about it, it is not the fact if he is wrong or right but how close and true it is. Sometimes thinking further over it can be just scary at how society works. This guy should take up a psychology major and become a psychologist. Well, it might be hard if he still carries on his negative outlook. Also to note in Hikigaya and Yukino’s comments are the choice of words they use. Sometimes it makes what they say have an impact or it just makes you wonder. Like how Yukino didn’t eventually consider Hikigaya as her friend, but as an acquaintance. Is there a big difference? Well maybe to linguist but to a normal guy like me, they’re about the same, right? Unless I didn’t know something about friends not being ranked as close as acquaintance. Maybe just like “-san” and “-sama”.

It is also amusing to hear the way Yukino analyses and comments especially most of them are somewhat indirect jabbing towards Hikigaya. It’s like she has a knack and talent for running him down since she is quite ‘skilled’ in doing so ever since the day they first met. It’s like as though it is her destiny. If this was really a funny series, the duo would definitely make a good manzai comedy combination. If not, I feel they can actually go on with this pattern for a long time: Hikigaya makes a statement. Yukino gives her thoughts and sometimes doubles it as some sort of ridicule aimed at him. Hikigaya retorts. See the pattern? From the looks of it, with the very different ideologies and experience they have, I’m sure this process can go on forever repeating itself. If that happens, I don’t know it will be interesting or boring and thus harder to comprehend anymore.

Speaking of the characters themselves, there isn’t much to focus on but sometimes it leaves you wondering if there is more to it. Certainly Hikigaya and Yukino didn’t change much during the duration of this show. Still the same loners but brought together under circumstances. It’s hard for me to say that despite they’ve got each other’s company, it feels like they are still alone. There is an invisible wall between them even though they are just sitting right across each other in the clubroom. You can say that their interaction is like company to each other but to me, they’re there just because they had nothing else better to do. So in the end, did they really improve on their character or did they just realize even more how a pain society could be? Of course there is Yui to liven things up but the duo are still like how they were and it pretty much doesn’t change things. It feels like her existence was probably to break the tension because you know how bad it can get if 2 loners carry on such exchange throughout the series. Hikigaya thinks nobody cares about him or looks at him but as we see that many of the characters like Yui, Saika, Hayato, Haruno and his sister Komachi do make a decent amount of interaction with him. That’s quite the attention for a nobody, no? Despite Yukino’s holier-than-thou attitude and twisted sense of responsibility, though it caused lots of misunderstandings and made enemies, there are some like the cast of characters who are able to tolerate it. It shows that they accept her for who she is. Can you imagine Yukino or Hikigaya without that attitude of theirs? Strange, no?

I know some of the characters have their past but the way it was illustrated here makes it as though there isn’t any impact on anything. At least for this season. Like when Yukino’s limo almost ran over Yui’s dog and caused Hikigaya to save it and ultimately his hospitalization and loner awakening character, maybe it is such fate that brought the trio together. So Yui being nice to him and all was just out of guilt. And when he didn’t want her to be indebted in such a way, was it really the end of it after her birthday? It was like they got over this little incident in the past and in subsequent episodes, it doesn’t feel like there is such a ‘scar’ anymore. It is mentioned that Hayato and Yukino’s family shared some sort of connection. So? Any implications as far as the plot or development are concerned? Maybe that is why this popular guy always seen trying to help them out. I don’t know if I could say if opposite attracts. He too has his own past guilt and maybe he wants to atone it in some way. His ideal and approach differ very much from Hikigaya to the point that one might compare them with Hayato the angel and Hikigaya the devil based on their actions and words. So you want sugary words or the harsh facts? But I truly believe Hayato is a nice and kind person. He is sincere in helping out but maybe he just lacks the resolve to do them compared to Hikigaya because this guy has after all been there, done that and is not afraid to lose. He’s got no reputation, right?

Say, after that Sagami’s case, he became the most hated guy in school, right? How ironic for the hero to play the villain just to distract everyone’s attention from her failure. Then in the final episode, it doesn’t feel like that. I’m just speculation but well, at least it’s good that the students here do not keep a grudge. And what happened to Sagami after that festival chairwoman duty flop? Maybe she went back to her unnoticeable life. Do we really want to know? Same feels for Saki. I thought she’d appear more often after her case was solved in the same episode. But she was reduced to a mere side character, appearing on and off so as not to forget she still exists. Yumiko too. Come to think of it, ironically Hikigaya as a loner that no one notices or cares about, he is the protagonist of this show. Then there is Zaimokuza who is still passionate in his chuunibyou. Ebina’s true colours totally flaunting all the way whenever she gets the chance with her must-gay personality. I guess any kind of guy would do because during the sports festival’s pole event, I figure many of the guys aren’t as handsome or a quarter as good looking as Hayato and yet she gets stimulated seeing males being pressed against each other. So would old men do for her too? I don’t want to even think about it.

Hiratsuka could have been as quirky if not quirkier than our protagonists if you get to know her more. Maybe odd people flock together. Now that we know her taboo topics include her age and single status, make sure they don’t leave your mouth or else you’ll get what’s coming or see her go into depression mode. Not the best model teacher around but she does show her caring side especially the advices she gives to Hikigaya after the actions he take to solve a request. I don’t know if Haruno really finds Hikigaya’s suggestions amusing or not because she laughs her ass off at first but something in the way she comments them to him afterwards makes it feel like as though she is not really amused with his sh*t and there is sarcasm in her tone. Sometimes too, the things she says make her sound like she has an ulterior motive but so far so good. Maybe it’s just me. Is she really serious in making Hikigaya and Yukino a pair or is just one of her whims?

At times I feel Saika’s presence in the anime is just for that little running gag for Hikigaya to comment on his almost awakening trap fetish. I think every guy in school would too. That kid looks and acts so girly that it is no doubt is sending the wrong signals to Hikigaya. And he knows it too (I suppose he is taking it the wrong way too as a joke). The way he starts fantasizing all those sparkly sparkles and lovely frame roses around him, if that aren’t signs of him moving towards the trap direction, I don’t know what to make of then. That’s why I think if there are no other side distractions, Hikigaya could easily (and gladly) fall for this trap. Just listen to the comments he makes after their conversation or interaction. Then in this case I think this would become the love comedy that went wrong. On second thought, I don’t think I want to see this trap or yaoi thingy. Funny as it may be, it’s not my cup of tea.

Something trivial that has been bugging me. Hikigaya, Yukino and Yui pose for the mid-intermission and the thing that ‘annoyed’ me was how the trio put on their big frown. Well, at least it is quite obvious. I would understand that Hikigaya and Yukino’s frown would stem from their behaviour but Yui too? Yui not smiling? What is she mad at? Well, at least it proves that the ladies look prettier if they smile. That goes for Yukino too. I can’t say the same for Hikigaya too because he would just look creepy as seen in some of the scenes throughout the series. Really. It’s like he is really forcing the smile and doesn’t look natural. Really, believe me. Another trivial thing I notice is that many of the characters have their first name repeated in their surname. Yui Yuigahama, Yukino Yukinoshita, Saki Kawasaki, Meguri Shiromeguri, Rumi Tsurumi. If not something that closely rhymes like Hina Ebina or Shizuka Hiratsuka or alliterations such as Hachiman Hikigaya and Hayato Hayama. Is this some sort of inside joke? Are they trying to hint something? Also, I noticed that after some sort of event or request complete, a new sticker is seen pasted on the clubroom’s door sign. I wonder where they’ll stick once it runs out of space.

The casting seems pretty decent and depicts the characters as they are. Takuya Eguchi did well in making Hikigaya sound like lethargic and uninterested when he starts commenting. Like as though it’s not that he wants to analyse but is forced to. It’s a little different from the livelier roles he played such as Kon in Ixion Saga DT and Yoshiharu from Oda Nobuna No Yabou. That deadpan voice of Saori Hayami perfectly fits the personality of Yukino. There is that distinct uniqueness in her voice (sometimes I think of her as Mamiko Noto’s clone) that makes some of her characters sound, uhm, deadpan. Like Ikaros in Sora No Otoshimono, Azuki in Bakuman, Leviathan in Zettai Bouei Leviathan. Nao Touyama as Yui, I thought she sounded so much like Chiho from Hataraku Maou-sama. There is this similarity in their liveliness. Other casts include Takashi Kondo as Hayato (Train in Black Cat), Ryoka Yuzuki as Hiratsuka (Tokiko in Busou Renkin), Mikako Komatsu as Saika (Marika in Mouretsu Pirates), Mai Nakahara as Haruno (Mai in Mai-HiME), Marina Inoue as Yumiko (Kana in Minami-ke), Minako Kotobuki as Sagami (Tsumugi in K-ON!), Aoi Yuuki as Komachi (Madoka in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Ami Koshimizu as Saki (Horo in Spice And Wolf), Nozomi Sasaki as Ebina (Nanami in Bokura Ga Ita), Azumi Asakura as Meguri (Asia in High School DxD), Nobuyuki Hayama as Zaimokuza (Ikkaku in Bleach) and Sumire Morohoshi as Rumi (Seira in GJ-Bu). The opening theme is Yukitoki by Nagi Yanagi and I find it not as appealing as the ending theme, Hello Alone, a duet by Saori Hayami and Nao Touyama. There is slow ballad version of Hello Alone featuring only Nao Touyama but I prefer the faster rock pop version. I wonder if the ending credits animation is some sort of yuri fanservice of Yukino and Yui.

As you have probably guessed, the series tries to touch and address several social problems such as peer pressure, victimizing and group bullying. Though it doesn’t go deep into the main problem, it gives us an idea of how bad it could affect people. Both the victim and the perpetrator. If it is not stemmed early, the future generation’s society will have to deal with difficult and hard to reverse social ills and problems. Or you can turn into someone like Hikigaya or Yukino. At least they didn’t become delinquents or psychopaths. Just ‘hardened’. While Hikigaya’s methods of reverse psychology are not encouraged since it doesn’t guarantee it would work (thankfully it went well in this anime), at least he tried to do something rather than closing an eye and letting it slide. Or maybe does it because he had to since he was tasked to do so. Either way, it is much better than just not doing anything. That’s the funny thing about humans and society. It’s either eat or be eaten. Power corrupts and more so when you have the numbers on your side.

Sadly with so much turmoil in the world, you wonder if there is going to be hope for society and the future generations to come. Would the world be a better place if we had more Hikigaya or Yukino around? Well, without society, I think they’ve even lost a meaning to exist. They do so and act the way they are because of what society is now, right? If everybody was a loner, there won’t be society to begin with. Lethargic. That’s what I feel now despite should have been enlightened by a lesson or two from a fellow loner. I suppose just like society, it’s hard for a person to change drastically unless something awfully drastic happens. If you don’t change, do you expect society to change? Maybe the world should have more of Yui and Hayato instead. Happy, cheerful, kind, helpful and good looking. Yeah. Dream on. Definitely don’t want the world to have more of Saika or Ebina. It would be a very screwed up world then. Not just love comedy went wrong. A love comedy disaster in the making and heading for collision course with tragedy!

Hentai Ouji To Warawanai Neko

December 21, 2013

Be careful what you wish for. Because for most of the time, we end up getting more than what we bargained for. But that doesn’t stop us from hoping to wish for better things, right? Maybe that’s why I was somewhat a little disappointed when I learnt Hentai Ouji To Warawanai Neko didn’t turn out exactly to be what I expected. I know. I only have myself to blame for jumping to conclusions based on the title itself. Hearing the word ‘hentai’ in the title, I confidently assume that even though this anime won’t go so far as being a hentai, there is going to be some sort of a slapstick harem romance comedy. Some fanservice here and there. Especially when you have a perverted prince around, how can you not expect the main guy to not be the king of perverts? And you know what they say about expectations and disappointment, right? That’s why I only have myself to blame. Though this series still has some romance and comedy elements, a tinsy winsy bit of fanservice (if you can call them that), but it’s not going to be slapstick. If I have to summarize what this anime is about in a short sentence: Perverted guy (which is quite normal for his age) and a girl make a wish upon a cat statue. One to express his inner lust and the other to hide her emotions.

Episode 1
Youto Yokodera is doing squats as part of his perverted pleasure to peep on girls. Till the Track Club president, Tsukushi whom he nicknames the Steel King confronts him. He knows he is in sh*t but Tsukushi has decided. She wants him to succeed her as the club’s president because of his tenacity of doing squats every day without fail. Afraid of being beaten up by her brute force, Yokodera lies to accept her offer. On his way home, Yokodera talks to his friend Ponta about his dream of getting along with girls. Ponta gives all his porn collection to him since he no longer desires them. He is now concerned with world poverty and hunger. Seriously. This guy? Yes. With every 100 Yen, those poor kids can get 40 litres of clean water. As said, there is a stony cat statue on top of the hill. If you give it an offering, it’ll take what you don’t want and give it to someone who needs it. Ponta went to offer his body pillow to rid his perverted desires and here he is, reborn as a new man. Of course Yokodera goes to try it out seeing it is because of his facade that prevents him from living his life to the fullest. He wants to get along with girls. He happens to stumble upon Tsukiko Tsutsukakushi who thinks he is some sort of pervert. He chases her in circles till he finally catches her. She begs for him to spare her since her measurements are not up to par and to at least wait a couple more years. Till then she wants to remain pure then. Yokodera assures Barbara is just his body pillow and he has never pushed a girl down before. When they calm down, Yokodera learns she is here to make a wish to hide her emotions. After they pray at the statue, Tsukiko finds a bun missing while Yokodera couldn’t find his belt for Barbara. They leave. Next day at school, Yokodera and Ponta witness somebody trying to confess to Azusa Azuki. However she tells him off that he is only all talk and no action. Utter defeat. Yokodera suddenly cannot control his thoughts and starts speaking his mind. He says aloud the flat chest she has and his opinions on different types of breasts. Azuki tries to maintain her composure although appalled. Yokodera tries to run away but bumps into Tsukushi who is trying to question him about skipping this morning’s practice. Yokodera starts speaking his mind again, chiding her for wearing running shorts instead of her normal running tights. Ever since that day, everybody calls him the Pervert Prince.

As school ends, Tsukiko visits him in his classroom but he doesn’t remember who she is so she needs to do judo on him to refresh his memory. It seems ever since she prayed at the statue, she cannot do any sort of facial expression and this is bad as she cannot live a normal life. She wants to pray for them back but as Yokodera points out, it only gives what you don’t want to someone who needs it. Since her facial expressions were given to somebody else, they don’t know if she’ll ever get it back. He has an idea to make her laugh and that is to tickle her. Not working. But it gave her an idea to get someone who doesn’t want their facade to pray to this statue. Both of them form an alliance to get back what they lost. But next day, Yokodera ends up in the infirmary because he was too straight forward in asking Tsukushi about something perverted. In the next bed is Azuki. Yokodera continues to talk like a pervert when Tsukiko wonders their relationship. Azuki says they help each other out. Maybe. After she leaves, Tsukiko concludes she wasn’t able to speak her mind because she was here. Yokodera thinks back that he ridiculed her in public and yet she tried to maintain her composure. Such strong facade is abnormal. He thinks she must have received his facade and notices the choker on her neck exactly the same like Barbara’s belt. He is going to ask her to give the facade back (since he believes it belongs to him). But the way he tells Azuki to take responsibility, give everything she has stolen back to him, share her body and soul with him and wants to be by her side… Sounds vey ambiguous, doesn’t it? And he has to say it right in front of everybody in school! What he meant was he wants to become her dog. Although Azuki doesn’t want it, she is forced to acknowledge it and everybody thinks the princess has finally fallen to the charms of this Pervert Prince.

Episode 2
Yokodera keeps a diary a day in a dog’s life to Azuki. Annoying. Very. He brings her to an animal maid cafe and to their surprise find Azuki working there. She is forced to serve them but Yokodera won’t have his way since Tsukiko pull him outside to a love hotel. It’s not what he thinks. They’re supposed to wait till Azuki finishes her shift and talk to her. They are about to follow her but a love hotel worker confronts them, thinking the underage kids want to do something illegal. Yokodera could feel Tsukiko shivering in fear behind him and takes her to run away. Later she asks if they do look like a couple. Her parents died and she doesn’t have any brothers. Therefore talking with boys is always embarrassing so she avoids doing so. Although she is embarrassed, she is unable to show it right now, the only thing she is grateful to the cat statue. Later, they catch Azuki working at a construction site. And so, Yokodera becomes some sort of a stalker observing the different jobs she does to her behaviour in school. He even made a presentation of this and shows it to her! What the hell?! All this just to get closer to her?! What does she take this delusional perverted for? Yokodera doesn’t intend to tell others about this and wants to go out on a date with her this weekend. Of course the ulterior motive is that if Azuki sees that being normal is okay, she might not need the facade anymore. Tsukiko was eavesdropping and wants to tag along too. Come Saturday, the first thing Yokodera brings Azuki is to a bridal shop! Happiness for commoners? He takes a step further by bringing her to a planned parenthood workshop! Is this how far this kid wants to take responsibility? He’s lucky to get a punch in a gut. Okay, maybe not so lucky. Azuki notices Tsukiko popping up and I’m not sure how the tension between them rises so much that it’s as though they’re fighting over him (although they deny it).

The trio spend time at the video arcade. Azuki sucks. Tsukiko triumphs in all. When Azuki and Tsukiko are acting all friendly, this prompts Yokodera to note how fast they grow closer. Azuki denies it and says they’re only playing together was because he let her trick her into it. She feels bitter that being friends is only a pain because they’ll betray you in the end. She leaves for the toilet and Yokodera feels she has lost something important because of that facade. Tsukiko doesn’t want him to go after her because everyone has trouble understanding their relationship with others. She wonders if Azuki was her sister. Yokodera is surprised to see Tsukushi here. Trying to teach a lesson to her members skipping on practice? Real sh*t. Guess what? She is Tsukiko’s sister! She is not too happy she hasn’t heard about this. Yokodera allows everyone to escape by touching her boobs, causing her to be stunned for a while. When Azuki comes out, she finds her friends gone and a couple of old school friends start taunting her Bean Sprouts. Tsukiko stops Yokodera from running away to remind him they have abandoned Azuki. When they return, they see Azuki sitting quietly while being teased by those old friends. After they leave, Azuki’s face is clearly disappointed and really thinks they have abandoned her. She knows he has some sort of ulterior motive like asking her out on a date so they could get her guard down and force her to meet her old school friends. She believes they were just making fun of her. With tears streaming down her eyes, she calls everyone a liar and doesn’t want them to talk to her again. Yokodera is left to ponder their predicament that has left none of them happy.

Episode 3
Yokodera can’t get Azuki off his mind no matter how much he wants to see other girls in swimsuits. He tries to visit her but she has locked herself in her room. Later Yokodera talks to Tsukiko at the cat statue. Seems she too tried to explain to Azuki that it was her fault but she’s not in listening mood. Tsukiko is also not in talking terms with her sister. She thinks if he is more honest with Azuki like he is to her, she might forgive him. He should also let his words guide his action. What if it leads him astray? Tsukiko notes she might regret meeting him and Azuki. Even so she will still speak up otherwise she can’t move forward. Yokodera goes to talk to Azuki’s old friends. They played a trick on her by telling her the wrong destination for their school trip. They did not intend for it to backfire that way so Yokodera tells them they should say it to Azuki instead. Yokodera then goes to kidnap Azuki (her mom gives the approval!). In the taxi, he talks to her he is doing this because he can’t leave her alone. Despite acting like an aloof princess, he knows she didn’t like to be alone. He notes she has a cute personality but is trying hard to be somebody else. What she needs isn’t something others can give her. As he brings her to cat statue, she wonders if he’ll love her. He cannot be sure since he doesn’t feel the spark whenever he looks at her. What he is talking about is how others would treat her. He tells her about his true intention to get back his facade. She is sad this is the truth and starts crying. However it is true that he doesn’t want to leave her alone either and wants to be her friend. That’s not a lie. Azuki makes a wish and instantly Yokodera gets his facade back. There is also a letter from Tsukiko asking if they could become friends again.

Tsukiko finds a demon mask and it brings back memories how she first met Yokodera at the playground. She wanted to be a kindergarten teacher but felt her goal slipping away since she couldn’t get along with children. Yokodera thought if she would just remove the mask but she couldn’t as she is prone to emotions and wears it to hide them. He suggests wearing a different and more pleasant one then. A petal enters her belly button so he helps her pick it out. It’s ticklish. He enjoys it. It’s her first time calling him a pervert. In present time, Azuki asks Yokodera if they could go out again for summer vacation. But all his suggestions have something to do with the video arcade… Enough of that! Later in the classroom, Tsukiko notes Yokodera’s relationship with Azuki improving and he has got his facade back. She requests that he goes on a date with her. If he wants to show his gratitude, he can do so by sticking around her for a while. Tsukiko is from the Child Welfare Club and has him opine on the picture storyboards she drew for the kids at the nursery. Another flashback reveals Tsukiko returned with another mask, a cat one. She was happy all the children were friendlier. She announced she might be in the same school with Yokodera next month and wondered if he could recognize her without the mask. He is confident he will spot her right away so she won’t try and find him in this game of fate. So if he sees her, be sure to let her know. Well… Back to present time, Yokodera gives his opinion but Tsukiko doesn’t feel her storytelling can be effective since she lacks emotions to show it to the children. Yokodera thinks she would make a good sports club manager since she is a utility person but she shoots down the idea of becoming the Track Club’s manager. Asking about the relationship with her sister, she says her sister hates her.

Episode 4
Tsukiko doesn’t hate her sister and she thinks because their parents died, Tsukiko was pretty ‘demanding’ and Tsukushi would do anything for her. When she ended middle school, she started avoiding her so she thought if she hid her emotions and stopped being childish, maybe they would get along again. Later Tsukiko gets a call from Azuki to personally thank her for the other day. Yokodera goes talk to Tsukushi and she thinks it’s time to enact her justice for two-timing her sister. Yokodera manages to trick her it was his ‘brother’ and thus not at fault. She believes him. Seriously. Tsukushi doesn’t believe Tsukiko prayed to the cat statue and lost her emotions. It possibly can’t have power because she was the one who built that statue when she was young. Later Yokodera confirms this with Tsukiko. Though they rarely fought, it was made out of apology and they swore to always be together. That memory is dear to her. Since Yokodera still wants to help her get back her emotions, she asks him to accompany her out this Sunday. He is supposed to help choose her clothes and he had the cheek to pick a swimsuit. He realizes she might be serious in taking up his advice and tries to stop her, only to see her in her birthday suit in the changing room. Is it a good thing he can’t see her emotions? You can’t tell how mad or embarrassed she is, right? When Yokodera sends her back, Tsukushi is waiting for him. The ‘brother’. Yes, she still believes that. Yokodera can’t understand why she wants to interfere in Tsukiko’s life and she should have no problem if she is happy. Tsukushi wants to sever their bond as sisters. She mentions something about their future and marriage, the reason she wants to cut off their relationship. Yokodera becomes upset that she doesn’t know what Tsukiko is going through. Tsukushi believes she is trying to be an adult by hiding her emotions herself and not because of some statue. If she becomes an adult, she can go to university and marry in peace. Perhaps she should just destroy the statue and stop all the rumours. Seriously, Yokodera wants to fight her? He got knocked out. He wakes up finding himself on Tsukiko’s lap. Tsukiko thinks it’s okay if she doesn’t get her emotions back. Her sister might hate her more than before so staying like this is for the best. Besides, once he helps her retrieve her emotions, what happens next? Will there be a reason for them to hang out? He has Azuki but she’ll do whatever it takes to stay a bit longer by his side. Therefore she asks him again, once her emotions return, what is he to her?

Yokodera talks to Azuki and requests her help and since she is Tsukiko’s rival, she agrees. Tsukushi meets Yokodera at the cat statue since she has received his letter of challenge. He is challenging her over Tsukiko and if he defeats her, he will become her brother! Huh? He thinks they’ve spent plenty of time together and seen her in her birthday suit to qualify to be that? How does that make him her brother? He even prays to the cat statue to take his tendency to avoid conflict (how did the cat get his underwear?). Tsukushi starts talking why she is more qualified to be her sister by telling some pretty embarrassing things. But doesn’t she sound she still loves her? Yes. Tsukushi admits she still loves her sister. Tsukiko had been eavesdropping and forces them to stop and apologize. Tsukushi seems unconvincing when she says she still loves her. Like she’s trying to hide something. Yokodera has done his homework and shows Tsukiko that she will be heading to MIT in USA as proof she wants to sever their ties. Tsukushi is now forced to tell the truth: She hugs Tsukiko and says she loves her so much that she wants to marry her! In Massachusetts, same sex marriage is legalized! She wants to stop being sisters and live together as partners! Tsukiko having lost her emotion is part of her marriage blues as she believes. Tsukiko pours cold water on her idea they can’t marry because they are blood related. Her plan was imperfect from the start. Tsukushi requests the cat god to return Tsukiko’s emotions otherwise she’ll use her justice on it. The statue gives out some weird laughter before dropping a bun onto Tsukiko’s hands. She gives it all to her sister. Yokodera wonders if it’s okay to do so since it represents all her facial expressions. She is fine with it since she is her only sister. With that, Tsukiko sill lost her emotions, the cat god seemed to have lost his power and Yokodera didn’t get his underwear back. As summer vacation is near its end, Yokodera notices there is more coldness in Tsukiko. More than just her words. Something even more devastating has happened: Yokodera’s house is missing!

Episode 5
Azuki is spending time with her old school friends at the Okinawa beach. She’s pretty concern if Yokodera would should up or not. Don’t bet on it. They are here accompanying Azuki because Yokodera thought it would be nice if they redo the school trip and become friends again. Though, I think Azuki would have preferred to be with a certain someone. Yokodera calls Ponta about his problem but he is clearly uninterested. He is more interested in helping the homeless kids in Africa… You’re on your own. So he calls Tsukiko and she talks lots of hypothetical things about the situation. Since it’s raining, she offers him to stay at her place. I don’t know how trying to prove his worth as a man, he starts grabbing her like a child and make a mad dash. Don’t blame her if she starts biting. She lets him take a bath first and he has the cheek to ask to bath together. I think she gets the idea but he too gets the idea when she warns that the police station is just a minute away. So Yokodera waits for Tsukiko to barge into the bathroom. Any second now… Always happens in those games, right? Keep waiting… He heard a commotion outside and finds the little one trying to prevent the big one from entering. Because he has his sense of shame taken away, he doesn’t feel embarrassed when he’s standing naked in front of the girls. Now it’s their turn to see him in his birthday suit. He finds flustering Tsukushi cute. But staring at her too long means she has thrown enough things to hurt his manhood. Yokodera is tied up and Tsukushi still believes he is that evil ‘brother’. He is only spared thanks to Tsukiko who reminds big sister that he is her guest. He is not entirely out of the woods yet since he doesn’t have any freedom to go to the toilet. He’s already at his limit. Tsukiko gives him a bottle. Everything will settle soon. He’s being abandoned… 10 minutes later, Tsukushi has fallen asleep as Yokodera tries to sneak out. However Tsukushi is sleep taking and mistakes Yokodera as Tsukiko and won’t let him go. It breaks his heart to see her crying in her sleep and doesn’t want to be separated from Tsukiko. He tries to call Azuki but she’s not picking up since she is reconciling with her friends. Yokodera thought he left the toilet lights on but to his surprise, it is Tsukiko who is taking a bath. She realizes too late it is not her sister. He tries to leave but in bad timing, there Tsukushi is behind him. She thinks he is finally going to sink his poisonous fangs into Tsukiko. She’s upset she herself doesn’t get much chance to see Tsukiko fresh out of the bath. He could have been a goner had not Tsukiko stop her sister. Yokodera runs to the storeroom. It is pretty dark and messy. He stumbles upon Barbara. What is this body pillow doing here? Even his futon is here! Perhaps his entire house furniture! Even more surprising, a giant cat statue sitting amidst the mess.

Episode 6
Tsukiko finds Yokodera living in her storeroom. Why not? Technically his house is here. Realizing all the porn around, she cuts it up with her scissors. The more he tries to worm his way out, the faster the scissors go. Yokodera tries to ask Tsukushi about the cat statue and from what he understands, her family worships it and it grants wishes. Because Tsukushi still believes about Yokodera’s ‘brother’, he is forced to make a claim that ‘he’ is after Tsukiko and to steal her away. Yokodera is then forced to compliment Tsukiko with all his heart if he doesn’t want to get squished by her. Tsukushi then devices a plan to kill the ‘brother’ so Yokodera quickly devices his own plan to prevent that by suggesting to rid of those feelings first. Because if you kill ‘him’, there is a chance that Tsukiko will still like ‘him’. One the duo are separated, Tsukiko’s feelings for ‘him’ will die out. Back at the storeroom, Yokodera finally picks up Azuki’s call. She tries to make it like he misses her but honestly, I don’t think he feels that way. Because of the thought if seeing Azuki in a bikini with his own 2 eyes, he somewhat makes a wish and suddenly Azuki drops before him. It proves the cat does grant wishes. For some odd reasons, Azuki starts wishing that he plays with her belly button. The cat grants her wish and because she didn’t like this fake love, she takes it back. Things return to normal. Although Yokodera has no idea what happened, he realizes that it is possible to take back wishes. Noticing her different hairstyle today, he compliments her.

Later when Yokodera goes to tell Tsukiko about having Azuki over for dinner, he notices her feeling quite happy. She must have eavesdropped his compliment then. To Yokodera’s horror, Tsukushi is also here to seduce the ‘brother’. During dinner, Tsukushi and Azuki end up fighting over the rights to seduce Yokodera (turning him into some obedient pet, I guess). They are stopped when Tsukiko warns about wasting food. When Yokodera thanks Tsukiko for the dinner, he learns that she might be the one responsible for wishing his house to be gone. It was something indirect. Because she thought they would never get the chance to eat dinner together as he lived so far and thus in a way the cat may have twisted that wish of hers. As for walking her home, it doesn’t mean he’ll always be around her. She then thanks and for today’s dinner and apologizes for the trouble caused since her wish was granted without incident and everything was resolved soundly. As Yokodera rests in the storeroom, Tsukushi comes in to seduce him but doesn’t know how to proceed further. Yokodera warns her about doing so because it will lead her to get screwed up in the future. She doesn’t care as long as it gets her Tsukiko back. Yokodera believes Tsukiko is stronger than she thinks but Tsukushi thinks otherwise and feels she will eventually lose out to him. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be separated from a loved one and doesn’t want to be left behind again. In tears, she notes if that should happen again, this world should fall into ruin. The cat grants her wish and crumbles the entire storeroom.

Episode 7
The duo are brought in to the main house as Azuki confronts Tsukushi the kind of ‘accident’ she got into. Yokodera thinks he is thinking too much and thus lack of sleep. Due to the typhoon, school is out but it seems the telephone lines (fixed and mobile) and the television transmission is out too. When Tsukiko suggests playing cards, the place starts to flood. Yokodera helps the girls to move the stuffs to the next floor but it is no use as it’s starting to leak. Yokodera wonders if this is the effect of that single wish while Tsukushi wonders if the secret room is safe. What secret room? A room filled with pictures of Tsukiko!!! Stalker material confirmed. Tsukiko bans and officially closes this ‘museum’ by tearing apart all the precious photos. Yokodera chances upon the sisters’ parents altar and he goes to pay his respect. He sees a vision of what may be their late mother. Tsukushi only takes her parents’ pictures since everything else is already etched in her heart (including the sleeping image of Tsukiko!). As the flood is already affecting this section, Yokodera tells Tsukushi that the cat statue really has the ability to grant wishes. Tsukushi believes that is true because when she was young, she wished she always made up with Tsukiko after a fight. Yokodera wants her to cancel this wish but when Tsukushi does so, the flood only gets worst. The storm is still in effect and the only thing restored is the storeroom. He gets a call from Ponta chiding the nerve he had to skip school. It is sunny over there and the typhoon blew over last night. Yokodera realizes the typhoon is only happening here because of the cat statue. Yokodera then requests Azuki to divert Tsukushi’s attention and talk to her for a while as he goes to sort things with Tsukiko. At first she is reluctant since she doesn’t like her. But after he explains about Tsukiko getting lonely easy and feels bad for her knowing, Azuki without question brings Tsukushi somewhere else.

Yokodera then goes to talk to Tsukiko. He knows he is enjoying this situation. Not that cards, this typhoon thingy. He doesn’t want her to accept this reality and despite her love for cleaning, she can’t clean a flooded house. Tsukiko mentions about cleaning become a bother since this house is too big for the sisters. She wonders if he would still be her big brother like he said he would. However he can’t grant her wish and be part of her family. He can’t always be by her side to make her happy. She feels disappointed in his answer. Just when she had accepted he would never see her more than a little sister, now it has to be this? The place starts crumbling as Tsukiko calls him names to vent her disappointment. Yokodera restrains her and forces her to listen. He wants to be someone other than family. It’s somewhat exciting if they don’t get to see each other always. They may be next to each other and can’t see the same things or live together but if they remain close and meet each other now and then, that way they will be apart but yet close enough. He invites her to come over to his place for dinner next time. She holds him to this promise and with a few words, she nullifies the wish and the place is restored to normal, the weather cleared up. Two weeks later, Yokodera shows proof to Tsukushi that the ‘brother’ does not exist. However she thinks even if ‘he’ has been removed from the family register and doesn’t exist in this world, she will stand by ‘his’ side. She has already asked Tsukiko and confirmed she has no feelings for Yokodera’s ‘brother’. Although she still loves Tsukiko, she is also serious about him. Because Yokodera doesn’t get it, Tsukushi kisses him. So now do you get it? As shock as he may be, not as shock as Azuki who witnessed everything. Azuki feels it is not his fault and it would be probably be herself if there is anyone to blame. At the cat statue, she makes a wish to start anew.

Episode 8
Tsukiko wonders if Yokodera and Azuki are fighting. More accurately, she’s been avoiding him. Suddenly a girl lands a double flying kick into Yokodera’s face and calls him her onii-chan. He doesn’t remember who she is and because of that she makes a wish out of her little cat statue. Turns out she is Emanuela Paularola or Emi for short and is Ponta’s little sister who recently returned from Italy. Yokodera is given the task to show Emi around school since she’s giving that sweet loli smile. So sweet that Tsukiko is on the verge of calling the police of a loli pedo hybrid monster pervert. Riding on his shoulders, Emi is shown around school and after getting into a little spat with the Track Club’s Vice Prez, Emi notes how boring everything is and makes a wish upon her mini cat statue so that everything will be a lot more fun. Emi starts playing catch with Yokodera using Vice Prez’s bra. When she comes in, Yokodera is surprised that she did not reprimand him but praises him instead. Even odder, it’s like the school turned into mini Italy! Coliseum? Pisa? The girls are all wearing swimsuits and calling Yokodera their Prince! He totally loves this, right? After leaving Emi in Tsukushi’s care, Yokodera goes to have lunch with Tsukiko. She talks hypothetically about a new sister popping up in his life. In short, Tsukiko doesn’t like Emi and smells she is a conniving and black hearted schemer. To Yokodera’s surprise, Tsukiko is also wearing a swimsuit and calling him Prince. When they go pick up Emi, Emi sees Azuki spying and excuses herself. Yokodera catches Azuki and she starts spewing all the perverted names on him. Azuki can’t understand why Tsukiko is in a swimsuit because that is definitely not their school uniform as she believes.

Yokodera smells something fishy and goes to the rooftop whereby he confirms his suspicions this is the work of the cat statue. There is one sitting at the roof pinnacle. Tsukiko points out it made 3 big changes: Making people treat him like a prince, having swimsuit as the uniform and making school oddly fun. She cannot think all this benefited a single person. Although Yokodera asserts it is not him, she warns him to turn things back. Or else, do you want to see her in berserker mode? Later as Yokodera ponders things, he nearly got killed by Tsukushi thinking he was trying to jump off the roof to commit suicide. First, she hopes he could relay to his ‘brother’ how nice a person she is (she threatens him nicely for that). She also believes it wasn’t him who made this wish. Long ago, her family once thought of moving to Italy and her dad had connections to that country. He used to lay photos and dream of that faraway place. As these sights bring back memories, Tsukushi thinks this is her wish. Since she wants to know the truth, she’s asking permission to visit his house and see his ‘brother’. Before he knows it, she’s over and looking through the photo album like nobody’s business. Yeah, she’s stealing some of them too. She notices a photo with Emi and Ponta in it. Wondering who this guy is, Yokodera tells about him but it hit him too. He loves his rabbit, Yaji like a little sister. Emi the rabbit… Yaji the little sister… Could it be… Ponta’s ‘sister’ is Yaji the rabbit? Then who is Emi? A blur vision of Emi holding Yaji and a promise made with onii-chan if she ever returns.

Episode 9
Emi was scolded by a nun for not being able to get along with the other choir girls. As she sulks outside, she stumbled upon Yaji and then Yokodera. Ponta tells Yokodera that Yaji has been missing. From the way he says things, he doesn’t know who Emi is. Yokodera feels the need to ask her directly but fears she won’t give such a straight answer. In school, Yokodera catches Azuki when he sees her spying on him. He tells her to stop worrying on how close they are and assures her he is not going out with Tsukushi since she is confusing him and his ‘brother’. Azuki says if he is serious in making up, she doesn’t mind going back to normal, citing an example of a prince gently giving a princess a kiss. Later Yokodera sees Tsukiko and Emi ending up in some squabble that has them challenging each other to a swimming competition. Not much of a competition since both aren’t that good swimmers. Because Emi has lots of pool fun, she cancels out the pool wish and every girl wearing the swimsuit is now in their birthday suit. Emi is surprised he caught on fast that the other wishes are from her (he’s asking her to cancel them). However she dismisses she had anything to do with Yaji’s disappearance. When Yokodera mentions he only remembers bits and pieces during the time Emi was a choir girl and that they weren’t that close, she throws a tantrum. She says back then she was close to this boy and when she had to move back to Italy due to her father’s work, he promised that when she returned to Japan, he would play with her. This is her final wish. On sport’s day, she wants him to play with him and she’ll give it up. That night, Yokodera receives a thank you call from Ponta that Yaji has been found. He thinks Yokodera asked Azuki to help look for it and it seems he remembers about Emi and especially how close they were then. Oddly, Yokodera can’t seem to remember that.

Next day Yokodera talks to Emi and wonders if there is this person she wants to get close to, he can arrange to set her up. This doesn’t impress her so she takes back all her wishes. Yokodera is appalled that she made those wishes because she is bored and wished for anything that comes to mind. He doesn’t want her to use the cat statue for such purposes because some people may get hurt when their wish is so strong it comes out of their sub-consciousness. Emi is not convinced because he dared talk about what’s truly important when he has completely forgotten about them. However it isn’t over yet. The school is still mini Italy. Could it be Tsukushi’s? Apparently not either. Because of some higher ups from Italy’s school liked how their campus looked, they wanted to be sister schools and Tsukushi is to be the first exchange student. She tried cancelling this wish many times but it didn’t work. If this isn’t her wish, then whose? A crowd gathers below when they see Emi sitting precariously on the rooftop. Oddly, there is stairs up there. Azuki suspiciously guides Yokodera to a secret passage that leads him up there since she saw Emi sneaking in. Yokodera talks to her. She is sad he may have forgotten their promise as soon as she left. He still can’t remember so she reminds him he is forgetting something even more important. Remember a girl with a perfect smile? Yokodera thought it was her who wished for that smile but she says the smile was taken from the girl he used to like. Yokodera remembers bits of it (Tsukiko in a cat mask).

Azuki wonders if all this is clear to him now. She explains about a story called The Happy Prince whereby the prince and a swallow helped all they can. However the swallow never got its wish granted despite all the help because the people only cared about the prince whose lives he has touched. Yokodera knows this is not the Azuki he knows since she wouldn’t talk like that. Azuki reveals herself to be the cat god from the storeroom because Azuki made a wish to renew herself. Normally the cat god would stay in the background but she sometimes takes control like in Yaji’s case. She thinks she is fair and just and is here because Azuki wished to be help. As for Emi’s wish, it may be hers but Yokodera is also involved. His wish drew her here and she wished for the school to look like Italy. As such, Tsukushi will be going to Italy as a foreign exchange student. In other words, Emi is a tool and catalyst to fulfil Yokodera’s wish. He might not remember it but Yokodera made a wish for Tsukushi to go to Italy when she was older. If he doubts her, he can cancel that wish but it would undo everything that made it happen. Emi wishes she would go away and the possessed Azuki would gladly oblige. She will go away and take Azuki with her. Wondering if Yokodera is okay with this because if he cancels the wish, both the catalyst and her wish will go away while there is a chance to save Azuki. Remembering what Azuki said about the prince giving the princess a kiss, Yokodera cancels the wish and then surprises the cat god by kissing Azuki. Twice. Everything is saved and reverts back to normal. Emi is still around during sport’s day and Yokodera is glad he is able to make up with Azuki.

Episode 10
The cat god possessing Azuki vanished along with the cancelled wish. The one in the storeroom also disappeared. Azuki is clingier to Yokodera as he gets involve in another spat with Vice Prez (Azuki extremely happy when she was called his ‘girlfriend’). Yokodera talks to Tsukushi and the latter wonders if she will be missed if she goes away. The conversation is distracted when Yokodera and Vice Prez ends up in another argument. Tsukushi wants them to get along for her sake after she graduates and since it’s impossible, she suggests playing some board game she and Tsukiko created. Problem is, nobody ever finished it because all the spaces you land will somehow have you go back several steps back. Yokodera sees Tsukiko cutting up Barbara in his room! When he barges in to apologize whatever fault he did, she hides inside Barbara. He tickles her out and gets a kick in his face. She is also cleaning his room and throwing away all his porn. Why do I get a feeling she allows those that are of flat chests to be kept? As she mentions about knowing him the longest, she spots the photo of him, Emi and Ponta in it. She gets discouraged that there is someone else whom he met before her and this means she isn’t the one who knows him the longest. After she leaves, Yokodera finds a letter wanting the Tsutsukakushi sisters to return home to Italy. Yokodera is having so much on his mind that Emi can tell. Bored, is she? She lets him go home to sort out his feelings. He wants to speak to Tsukiko about the letter but she is out and Tsukushi is only in. She takes the letter and wants him to stay out of their family’s business. Yokodera feigns he is the ‘brother’ and this causes Tsukushi to let her guard down. Riding on this ‘wave’, he asserts of wanting to be part of the family. This convinces her and she would gladly talk about marriage. Oh dear. To her disappointment, that won’t be.

Tsukushi explains that ever since their parents’ death, their grandparents wished for them to live with them in Italy. She wants to turn him down since she has lots of memories of this house. However she noticed something odd they said. They wondered why she was so devoted to a mother they hardly knew. According to them, Tsukushi was separated from her mom when she was 3 years old but as far as she remembers, she remembers living in this house with her till 6. It might be herself who is mistaken and that’s why she is hunting for evidence to prove they were together till then. Unfortunately there were no photos and so she thought of looking through his photo albums. She believes that they did meet when they were young but Yokodera has a hard time remembering if they did meet back then. Eavesdropping Tsukiko finds this idea fascinating and wants to go look for the photos. After all the searching, all they could find is a blur photo of their mom. Yokodera accompanies Tsukiko to buy dinner. While waiting at the bus stop, they meet Azuki. Tsukiko gets jealous to see how close the duo interact. She admits even though she can’t show her emotions, she still act emotionally and wanted to scream and break them up when she saw them together. She refrained only because she didn’t want him to hate her. She admits she is petty and a schemer and thought the only advantage she had over everyone else was that she knew him the longest. If only she had that photo as proof. She wishes if she could only go back in time and figure this out. The cat god possessing Yaji hears her wish and grants it. The duo vanish from current time.

Episode 11
They know this is the work of the cat god since they’ve gone back 10 years in time. On the bus, they meet mini Azuki. So cute that Yokodera could have turned into a lolicon had not been for Tsukiko. And there is mini Yokodera too. So odd… Azuki introducing Yokodera to himself. So cute and a charmer this little kid that Azuki starts rubbing his face in her belly while wishing he won’t grow up to be a pervert. I think she may have started it. Mini Yokodera is here to see Tsukasa (Tsukiko’s mom) and here she is. Man, she’s got a badass attitude! Not what she remembers her mom, eh? But despite saying straight in mini Yokodera’s face that she hates him and to scram, she is kind enough to let him stay for the night (Yokodera’s parents are always away busy). Mini Yokodera even convinces Tsukasa to let the duo stay for the night. So the house is in the mess and Tsukasa is not much of a cook. After Tsukasa retires to her room, mini Yokodera points out that Tsukasa leaves alone. Because she seems so lonely and sad, he tries to accompany her as much as possible. So it’s official. Tsukasa doesn’t live with the Tsutsukakushi sisters. Yokodera is left to ponder if Tsukushi’s memories were off and that he doesn’t remember meeting Tsukasa when he was young either. Yokodera may have saved his younger self when they enter the room Tsukiko was changing. I guess he only had himself to blame when he commented on the bra that was too big for her. And got knocked out for a few hours… He sees Tsukasa coming out from her room and asks about her family. Her daughters used to live here but are now with her late husband’s grandparents in Italy after they ran into trouble when the family broke up.

Next day, Yokodera and his mini self see mini Tsukiko visiting their house. After mini Tsukushi whisks her sister back into the limo, she is not happy about her mom’s betrayal and her broken promise since they crossed the seas to talk to her. She wonders if their mom is rejecting their existence. Because she would have leapt in joy to greet them but she has not. I’m not sure about this bit that Yokodera made her say some tongue twisting words that causes her to bite her tongue. This leads to an argument with mini Yokodera. Mini Tsukushi starts throwing stones at them and claims if mother doesn’t need them, then they don’t need her too. One of the stones hit Tsukasa who just exited the house. Though Tsukasa is happy to see how much she has grown, mini Tsukushi isn’t and doesn’t acknowledge her as their mom. She quickly leaves in her limo. Tsukiko may have said too much when she notes Tsukasa as a failure as a mother since she did not try to chase after her children and just let them go like that. Later Tsukasa gets her kicks (she’s drunk) by forcing mini Yokodera to put on girly dresses while Tsukiko gets drunk just by smelling alcohol and snuggles up too close to Yokodera. He’s trying hard to resist her temptation. It’s just hard but hold it in please… When Tsukiko comes to, she sees Tsukasa sewing clothes for her daughters and thinks she was up all night making them so she could give it to them. Tsukasa claims she is just killing time. As for why she let her daughters go if she loved them so much, Tsukasa didn’t intend to. They weren’t supposed to be gone for long. But things didn’t go well on her end so things ended up taking longer. She was prohibited to step on planes and her late husband’s grandparents insisted on their custody. She thought it would be best for them but somehow couldn’t give up and ended up like this. Tsukiko assures they still love her and it’s not too late to turn around. Suddenly before her eyes, Tsukasa collapses and her fever is burning up.

Episode 12
Tsukiko feels guilty for calling her mom a failure. While mini Yokodera looks after her, he explains Tsukasa has always been sick and thus she is unable to travel to see her daughters. Then a flood incident 2 years ago, she came down with something bad and she couldn’t abandon the home she shared with her daughters. He laments she was sad when he first met her and no matter what he did, he couldn’t cheer her up. Yokodera advises his younger self that no matter what his age, he should never sit idly when a girl cries. Even though you might not cheer her up, she’ll know that you were there for her. Yokodera then goes to the hotel to get the sisters to go visit their mother. Tsukushi is still acting tough that she doesn’t want to see that woman till Yokodera tells her how Tsukasa was sewing clothes for them even if she was sick. When they arrive at the house, Tsukiko amazingly couldn’t identify her younger self eating everything she can get her hands on. Yokodera then has the little sisters put on the clothes their mother sewed (not because he had some fetish). He tells them she did not make them overnight but accumulated over the years in hopes of reuniting with them one day. When they go to see their mom, she is lying sickly in bed. Her condition worsening. Tsukushi blames herself and plans to stay by her side to nurse her. She’ll change and be a good girl. Mini Yokodera says how much he hates the sisters. The only girl he loves is Tsukasa. Because he wants to help girls who are crying, he mentions about the cat god in this house. As Tsukasa told him, it takes away what you don’t need and gives it away to someone who needs it more. Since mini Tsukushi wants memories of being with her mother, mini Yokodera will give her his memories. The cat god grants his wish. So now do we understand why Yokodera has no memories or recollection of his youth? Tsukiko does not approve of this, especially giving away his memories about them. Yokodera wants Tsukushi’s memories to stay this wish and Tsukiko to return them back to their time. She won’t but they to her surprise the wish starts to negate. Yokodera remembers that he wanted to remember the memories and that this wish was actually his. When the duo vanish, Tsukasa is healthier and the kids are happy. Mini Yokodera hopes that they could all go to Italy once Tsukasa recovers but since that is unknown, he wishes that they will go there once they are older.

Yokodera and Tsukiko have returned to their present time. Yokodera notes whenever he remembers his memory, he will forget it due to the wish. Tsukiko is still upset that it turned out to be like this but all he could do is hug and apologize to her. When they return to the house, they see Tsukushi still having fond ‘memories’ of her mom and believes she remembers them clearly. She also remembers 4 of them to be a family: Tsukushi, Tsukiko, Yokodera and his ‘brother’. His ‘brother’ was always with them even as a kid. Later Tsukiko mentions that although she is grateful for Yokodera to sacrifice his memories for their sake, a part of her can’t accept it. She won’t go to Italy or anywhere else because if she does and become yet another of his memory, he might forget it. Yokodera says to make new memories then and since he wants to prove his actions more than his words, she allows him to kiss her. A few days later, Yokodera seems to be out on a date with the lucky 4 girls at the amusement park: Tsukushi, Tsukiko, Azuki and Emi. Tsukiko notes Azuki in a very happy mood as she tells about her wonderful dream how she had her first kiss with Yokodera. Tsukiko not pleased. Yokodera narrates he lost his memories and Tsukiko lost her emotions. He doesn’t know what the future holds and it could be another big mess in store. He knows making a person happy might not make everyone happy and even so he doesn’t want to see a girl cry. Yokodera is alone with Tsukiko in the Ferris Wheel. The sight of Yaji (somehow getting lost again), springs a surprise to him and he falls on top of Tsukiko. Accusing him of assaulting Azuki in her dreams, she labels him a pervert right till the very end.

Wishful Thinking…
At first it was hard for me to make head and tail of where this anime is going and what the overall picture is about. This is true since I wasn’t well when I was watching this anime (is it a coincidence?) so there were some parts that I couldn’t comprehend. It was hard on me despite this series just having a dozen of episodes but somehow it felt like a little longer while I was sitting down watching this. I could easily rewatch it again but after some thought, I figure that there wasn’t going to be any rewatching value just to refresh my memory so I just skipped it and forgive me if this blog conclusion sounds one sided. Maybe I made a wish like that, huh? So I feel that when they ended the series by solving the mystery of Yokodera’s faulty memories and his past relationship with the Tsutsukakushi sisters, it’s like as though they totally left out Azuki and that her character didn’t really matter. They also brought in Emi as a new character after halfway but because of the time travelling incident, she is reduced to someone near non-existent. It felt that there were holes in the plot of the series like how the ending suddenly has Yokodera going out with all the girls. How did this actually happen? It’s like they wanted to give us some sort of happy ending but not so ‘end-like’ whatsoever. The time loop thingy felt like they wanted to make the final bits interesting but save for Yokodera and Tsukushi’s faulty memory based on the wish, don’t you think Tsukiko would have remembered her past or at least Yokodera? Unless she has a faulty memory too (maybe you don’t remember much when you’re a toddler – how far back can you remember as a baby?). Unless I’m missing out on something. In the end, nobody remembers much about this important bit of their past.

Basically, this series revolves around too much on the cat statue and despite not being in the main picture, it is of course what drives the story and plot of this show. It would have been pretty normal and boring had the cat god been taken out of the picture and thus you don’t get the ‘adventure’ and mess that we see the characters get into. The cat god is pretty mysterious itself and the odd part is how one can easily make and cancel wishes. Because if this happens too frequently, I can see how things can get easily messed up like in the case of our characters. The only penalty of cancelling wishes is annulling everything that has made the wish come true up to this point so the person you met or the memories you make may vanish if you want that wish cancelled. But like I said, I wasn’t well watching this so it still wonders me how Yokodera could cancel the wish and save both Azuki and Emi. And now that Yokodera has identified his memory loss, can he make some sort of a modified wish to retain some of those important memories? Besides, how many cat gods are there? You notice when the wish gets cancelled, the cat statue has no more effect or disappears. Does it hop from one place to another like recently it is in possession of Yaji?

Yokodera despite being a pervert, he is unlike other sorts of perverted perverts since he doesn’t really go around expressing his perverted wishes out in public and wanting everybody to know that he is some sort of pervert. In a way, it makes him different but nevertheless a pervert is still a pervert but his is just to a lesser extent. But that won’t change much, right? Also, he is not afraid to speak his mind (and he says it with confidence when asked about his perversion and usually this gets him into trouble with the rest. I figure that all the main girls would end up like him in one way or another (maybe it will be a little longer for Vice Prez – if she’s counted as one of the main girls). Each showing their own affections for Yokodera but falling short of becoming his official girlfriend. Tsukiko can’t show his emotions so it’s hard to convince us that she is totally head over heels over him. Even if she lacks the emotions, you can tell by some body actions and reactions that she really likes him. Azuki considers Yokodera more as his pet but he seems to be inching closer to something better as the days past. Tsukushi the brute is more infatuated with his ‘brother’ instead (I wonder if her affections for Tsukiko remains the same) and I’m not sure if Emi is still hanging around him in hopes he will remember their past memories together (or were all those memories just made up by her wish?). Well, keep waiting. And hoping. Thus the romance among the characters didn’t really go anywhere so I don’t know if this in the future would end up being some sort of harem or a cat fight tussle over him. Maybe I can just wish for some multiple branching stories, eh?

I’m not sure if Tsukiko losing her emotions would be something permanent. She could easily make a wish like any would but then again, I always seem to forget that the cat god takes something you don’t want and gives it to others. Even so, I feel that this premise was somewhat overlooked in the later episodes because it could be easily cancelled. Like how Tsukiko wished to stay in the flooding moment and how the duo went back 10 years in time. Correct me if I did miss something but if I follow that premise, don’t they need to give away something they don’t need for the wish to come true even if it turns up in a twisted way? That’s why I said it was a bit confusing when wishes are easily cancelled. Unless you’re telling me that it is possible to do away with the wishes so long as the cat god has not given away what you discarded yet. Then again, this crops up more confusing questions so I stopped asking and just accepted what happened. It’s easier that way. Easier than wishing in this series because I fear I might lose something and screw up something without realizing it. Too much wishing isn’t good you know? Regarding Tsukiko being emotionless, I thought it was sometimes creepy for a cute girl like her to stay that way. Sometimes it’s already hard to understand what goes on in a girl’s mind. I know guys can never understand but when a girl gives you that blank facade 24/7, it just creeps you out if you stare too long at it. Because girls do look better when they smile and are happy, right? Hah! You’re calling me a pervert, aren’t you?! Another odd thing about Tsukiko is her tendency to stuff her mouth with all kinds of food. Because of her lack of emotions, it won’t hit you that she looks like a glutton. Just quietly munching and chewing her food… Which still makes her look creepy in a way.

Having said all that, in general I feel the characters are somewhat boring and due to the holes in the plot, I can’t feel that they don’t really connect. For example, Tsukushi and her growing obsession with Yokodera’s ‘brother’. Out of the blue, Yokodera creates that imaginary character just to escape her wrath and suddenly and for the rest of the series she accepts there is such a person. If she did remember of such ‘brother’ when she was young, shouldn’t she remember him when they meet in high school or something? Unless it never occurred to her it was Yokodera back then since I recall he never told her his name (both young and old versions). I guess I can easily blame the altered memories for this if I don’t understand. Then there’s Azuki. She was introduced as the school’s most popular and guys-would-die-dating-for girl but after the first few episodes, this seems to have become forgotten, like as though she is a nobody in school. Then she sometimes turns into some sort of emotional blob around Yokodera. Flustering or avoid contacting him or even desperately wanting to see or hear his voice. Like as though she wants something out of him (like his attention) but couldn’t get it and is left to rue it in silence. Then her old school friends, they sounded quite antagonistic when they first appeared but after going on a trip together, they’re like best friends? If only real life to make up with your old friends was that easy. Introducing Emi too I thought there was going to be some sort of potential or hope in the story but then as seen how it all ended, it was like she was brought in just to fill in that little gaps in the story and something extra as to why Yokodera can’t remember those memories.

Interestingly, it is funny to hear the jabbing from Tsukiko especially about Yokodera’s perversion. Just like him, she doesn’t mince her words but they lack impact since she doesn’t have any emotions. As said, it sounds creepy but in a way it makes her funny too. Imagine her trying to express surprise but without the emotion. Funny, right? Still, her insults are still funny and amusing to listen to. Rarely I have heard or remember perverted characters turning over a new leaf for good. So for a character like Ponta to leave behind his debauchery ways for good it sounds too good to be true. I thought at some point he might just return to his old ways but it seems it is for real that he has changed into a better person. Either he is concerned with some poor kid in some poor living condition in some undeveloped country or he is giving all his attention to Yaji. Although Ponta is a side character, he already started out as a changed person so there is not much impact to see on this as most of the perversion or such ambiguous scenes fall onto Yokodera.

The drawing and art of this series makes everything cute and moe. It’s like as though they want to bombard you with lots of excessive moe and cuteness especially how the characters are designed. The way they show Azuki by making her exuding lots of moe makes it feel like they could easily convert those with such fetishes and turn into obsessed Azuki fans. You would want to worship her, make her yours and your mind can’t think anybody but this cute little lady. All hail Azuki! Thankfully I didn’t ;p. Tsukiko too is cute but from my opinion, she would have been cuter had she had her emotions instead of that stony face. Maybe they’re trying to create a new fetish? There is a fresh feel to it and some sort of attraction when girls hide their emotions. Instead of being too emo, now try having without them. Something like kuudere? This series was produced by J.C. Staff so the artwork may be familiar to some of their past productions with moe-like characters such as Hatsukoi Limited, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Toradora and Hidan No Aria. Speaking about the fanservice, there are a handful bits of them like Tsukiko in the bath in which I am sure the steam will be taken away if you buy the DVDs, the belly button caressing incident, Tsukiko sexily snuggling up to Yokodera and everything about Azuki from what she does might probably be fanservice because she is so moe that it’s hard not to think otherwise ;p. if you are not into flat chests like Azuki, Emi or Tsukiko, there’s the busty Tsukushi for those into mature women.

At first it was hard identifying Yukari Tamura as she played Tsukushi since she was using a hoarser voice. It was hard to believe that it was her behind this character. But when she starts squealing in her trademark high pitch voice, it became clearer that this was really her. It’s a good thing she starts voicing different roles otherwise I may pigeonhole her like what I do with many other seiyuus. But still, I prefer her sounding in her typical trademark voice like Yamada in B Gata H Kei or Muromi in Namiuchigiwa No Muromi-san ;). Recently I’ve been watching a handful of animes featuring Yuuki Kaji. It’s like he is being actively sought after for current animes. As Yokodera, his boyish voice fits the pervertness of Yokodera. He also played perverted character lead roles like Issei in High School DxD and not so perverted character leads like Shu in Guilty Crown, Haruyuki/Silver Crow in Accel World, Alibaba in Magi and Akina in Yozakura Quartet. Nobody else is better suited to play Tsukiko other than Yui Ogura. The way she portrays no emotion in her loli character and still make her sound cute is evident in her past roles like Kuroe from Cube x Cursed x Curious, Athena in Campione, Hanbei in Oda Nobuna No Yabou and Yuzurina in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru. Don’t they all suspiciously sound the same? Other casts include Kaori Ishihara as Azuki (Konoe in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru, Aimi Terakawa as Emi (Kazumi in Futari Wa Milky Holmes), Harumi Sakurai as Tsukasa (Yuri in Angel Beats), Hirofumi Nojima as Ponta (Yuujirou in Bakuman) and Aki Toyosaki making a cameo as Azuki’s mother.

The opening and ending themes are sung by the Tsutsukakushi sisters each and they are filled with so much moe and cuteness that again I am begin to think that the producers want to make you fall in love with everything cute in this series. Yukari Tamura sings the opening theme, Fantastic Future in her trademark cutesy voice. It’s like how she does it for B Gata H Kei’s opening and ending pieces but amplify it with cuteness 10 more times and there you have it, a song with potential to whisk your heart away just by hearing the cute voice that is no other than Yukari Tamura. Thank goodness I didn’t. The ending theme is equally cute too since it is sung by Yui Ogura but unlike her character, she puts lots of emotions and cuteness singing this cute piece, Baby Sweet Berry Love. So if you are not convinced by the cute-cute opening theme, maybe the very cute-cute ending theme will steal your heart. Especially with Yui Ogura spearheading the vocals, whose heart wouldn’t melt after hearing her cute voice and the cute song? Thankfully I didn’t. Haha! Cute, yes. But not enough to convert me into such obsessed fan.

There is a reason why wishes don’t easily come true. It’s because if every wish is allowed to be granted, people don’t really need to put in the effort and hard work. Imagine if making wishes was that easy like in this anime. You can make them and also easily cancel them if you don’t want it. Too easy, right? In the end, nothing gets done and nobody is happy because you will have one big screwed up world being made up of wishes and all its invalidation. You don’t know what is true or what is fake anymore. Everything was made up by wishes and when it reverts back, you wonder if this was the original before the wish. Thanks to this, I am beginning to wonder if the reason why I get to watch so many anime over the years was because of some sort of wish I made earlier on in my life and can’t remember much about it. If it is, I don’t see any reason to cancel it… If only this anime could have been slightly better. Then again, maybe not.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san OVA

December 20, 2013

I know the second season is long gone and over. And my blog is quite late. Even so this is just Haiyore! Nyaruko-san OVA, which is actually the OVA that came out after the first season as some sort of pre-announcement for the second season. Not that I have forgotten. Really. I have my reasons for watching it late. Really. That reason does not include of being tired of Nyaruko’s slutty antics.  Anybody who loves slapstick comedy like Gintama or Sket Dance would surely love Nyaruko. I mean, who wouldn’t love the cute loving Nyarlathotep AKA Nyaruko-san (although her crazy antics are very questionable and never to be followed by anyone, anytime and anywhere). Even more lovable she is voiced by Kana Asumi who really brings out the crazy life in Nyaruko. Don’t you just love her? Maybe not so for Mahiro who is having a hard time trying to control this wild child and prevent himself from being dragged into her typical annoyance and harassment. When you have an alien living under your rooftop (make that several aliens), life is definitely never going to be the same. Need I say why anymore? The OVA lasts only 15 minutes but it is still packed with Nyaruko’s trademark craziness.

Magical Girl Nyaruko-san
Nyaruko and the gang watch a tokusatsu programme and she is very taken in by this transformation thingy. I didn’t know she got this transformation craving. But soon after that, she starts watching a magical girl show and is even more fixated in this genre. Mahiro notes if she would only defeat her enemies this way instead of her gory and violent method. This sets up Nyaruko to flirt with him (hounding him for a kiss while at it) but you know it’s never going to make it. Mahiro suggests Nyaruko to become a magical girl so that she could satisfy her transformation craving. And so Luhy is roped in to teach her since she had some experience doing some magical girl show on a rooftop of some building. Yeah. They figured she knows a lot about it. Because Nyaruko mocks her age of reaching 30’s (that’s very old for a magical girl), Luhy gets pissed and is going to make Nyaruko eat her words. Woah. She’s scary… Even Nyaruko’s scared.

Luhy takes the gang to some alternate time space dimension to train Nyaruko. In this twisted space, 2 hours in normal time outside is worth a month inside here. As the rest don’t want to bother them (I don’t think they can wait that long sticking around here either), they leave and I suppose Nyaruko lost her ultimate motivation (read: Mahiro) to watch her train. You’re on your own. Luhy is going to pound all the magical girl etiquette and mannerism in her. Don’t you dare look down on magical girls… Let the Spartan training begin! Hanyaa! When they finally return, Nyaruko has changed. Hmm… Very nice. Very polite. Nice smile. She longer fears anything. Just like a magical girl, she senses some bad kids in the neighbourhood and rushes to the scene to ‘correct’ them. Oh no. Mahiro knows something isn’t right. He has a hunch the training didn’t go right. See Luhy averting her eyes? That says a lot. You know what this means. Time to check on Nyaruko so that she doesn’t mess up.

Arriving at the construction site, there are many Nightgaunts, the supposed ‘bad kids’ Nyaruko is talking about. We have got the obligatory transformation scene for Nyaruko to transform into a magical girl and her typical magical girl speech to purify those wicked souls. After a little magic incantation, a little magical effects… The Nightgaunts start bleeding like hell! And then she whips out her magical wand, which is actually a decorated crowbar and is going to kill all the bad kids!!! Because good kids are those who have died! She might have saved their souls but she is going to redeem their bodies as well by sending it to Heaven! Oh God. It’s like Nyaruko never changed. Violent and gory. Nyaruko going really crazy this time. I guess Luhy drilled her too much. She might have created a monster. An evil magical girl. As she burns the Nightgaunts, the rest comment how they prefer the old Nyaruko. Kuuko has a suggestion to turn things back to normal. Before Nyaruko gets this idea of ridding this world full of bad kids, she is made to look into some device that is similar to those memory erasing devices you see in MIB (Men In Black). Remember to put your sunglasses on. Nyaruko wakes up back home and has no memories of what happened. She asserts tokusatsu is better than magical girl. And everyone loves this Nyaruko better. Maybe not for Mahiro. Okay, maybe he does too. He just doesn’t show it.

We Love Any Kind Of Nyaruko!
As short as this OVA maybe, it is still enjoyable and fun simply because of Nyaruko. Forgive me if I tend to sound bias since Nyaruko is obviously what makes this series great. Obviously. She’s the star of this show, right? So whether she becomes a magical girl or a tokusatsu hero or some megalomaniac that is hell bent on taking over the world (or even destroying it), Nyaruko will always be Nyaruko and we will love her for all the crazy antics she brings just to make us laugh. They don’t call this the “anime that always creeps up beside you with a smile” for nothing. I notice that Mahiro is reduced to just some guy who seems sluggish throughout this entire OVA. It’s like he is tired and expected Nyaruko’s whims. He even sounded weary in playing the straight guy. Too much Nyaruko has zapped his energy? Well for his case, it is good to not pay too much unnecessary attention to her. You’ll wear yourself out. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to watch the OVA. And perhaps it will take a while before I get my ass moving to watch the second season. Unless Nyaruko comes bugging me every now and then. Then I’ll just fork it to her. Heh…

Can’t get enough of idols? Don’t worry, there are lots of them going around in Japan to fill your idol craving. So many of them that it’s just scary to think of its magnitude and effect it will have. Thank goodness I’m not idol crazy. Anyway, after my stint of AKB0048, an idol themed anime based on the world’s biggest idol unit, here am I once more trying my hands at another idol themed anime. Don’t get the wrong idea that I am starting to have a thing for idols. But what makes Love Live! School Idol Project different from AKB0048 is that this is more grounded to reality. Yes. No futuristic setting. No hi-tech equipment and tools. No magic. No missiles and gun fires. No idols kicking butt. And most important, no oppression and ban from government on anything idols! Wohoo! Idols are free to perform wherever and whenever they like.

So, if there is nothing that threatens the sanctity of idol groups, what kind of storyline will the anime take? Will it be interesting? That depends on how you like to look at your idols. For our group of idol girls in this anime, they need to stop the closure of their school. Heh. How can that be interesting? I’m sure many of us do not feel any more connection with our school (like yours truly and guilty as charged) but for our girls here, they love their school and despite still in high school, they don’t want to see its future shut down just because of low enrolment numbers. Welcome to the real world. Money talks. Numbers are everything. Logically if many people start enrolling, the school can’t shut down, right? So what better way than to attract people to their school by becoming school idols and sing their way into the hearts of the people, right? Everybody loves idols, right? It’s the current craze now, right? Right?! And so, this is the basis for what this anime is about and the reason why they sing and dance, aiming to become top idols.

Episode 0
In this preview episode, we are given an introduction to the series such as the seiyuus that voice the main heroines of this show, the various and numerous promotions and events that led to the inevitable production of this anime and also clips of some of the featured songs and their dance moves. We also have a glimpse of their live concerts whereby the seiyuus of the anime characters and have been voiced by the same person ever since this project’s inception. Talk about lots of consistency, dedication, hard work and perseverance. Not only their voices have been the same but the moves and dances have been also identical in the anime. Lastly, the final promotion of each of the heroines about the anime itself. That’s 9 times over, right? So if you are a very big fan of female pop idols, yeah, there are lots of events, activities and merchandise to grab. So are you ready for the love of your life?

Episode 1
Otonokizaka Academy will be shut down due to the low enrolment number. Honoka Kousaka fainted when she realizes this is not a dream. There goes her high school life she is looking forward so much. In denial, she really thinks it is a dream. Till she sees the bulletin board again. There, depression once more. She is concerned that because she has not studied, the closure of this school means she has to take an entrance exam for another school. That’s bad, right? But as her friends, Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami put it, the school is staying put till all of them graduate. Even so, they feel bad that the first years will have no juniors below them. The student council president, Eri Ayase and her vice president, Nozomi Toujo ask Kotori if she knew anything about this beforehand since the board chairwoman who announced Otonokizaka’s closure is her mother. She knew nothing. Honoka feels it is wrong for the school to just ‘disappear’ so she thinks if the school’s enrolment increases, it won’t have to shut down. What is it that this school has to attract students? Well, their long history doesn’t seem that great. What about their past clubs’ achievement? Nothing great either. In fact, there is even one scandal of disqualification… When Honoka returns home, she is disheartened her little sister, Kotoha is applying to a different school. Throwing a tantrum won’t get her anywhere because Kotoha too knows it’s a waste of time trying to apply into a school that is going to shut down. Honoka is adamant she will stop the school’s closure. Yeah. Then pigs will fly. Early next morning, Honoka surprises everyone by getting up early and leaving on her own. Actually she is going to scout UTX High School (the school Kotoha is going to apply) and is enthralled to see why so many are flocking over. It has a group of female pop idol, A-Rise doing the promo. Astounding. That’s when an idea hits Honoka.

In class, Honoka tells her friends about this idea of forming a pop idol group to attract students and thus preventing its shutdown. Because based on her minimal research, schools with popular idols attract more students. Umi is not fond of this idea despite Honoka’s persuasion they get to wear cute costumes and shine brightly but negative Umi is not convinced. Being an idol is out of the question for her. Meanwhile Eri and Nozomi see the chairwoman. They too voice their displeasure of the school’s closure. She tells them instead of worrying about trying to prevent the closure, they should focus on efforts to improve the quality of time remaining for the students. In short, there is nothing they can do. Honoka is attracted by the piano and singing of Maki Nishikino. Instantly she asks if she is interested to become an idol. Instant reject. Umi couldn’t concentrate on her archery club because she kept thinking about the possibility of becoming an idol. It really throws her off her target. And balance. So Kotori talks to her and then shows her how Honoka is trying to learn some dance moves by herself. It’s tough but she’s not giving up. And so the trio hand in their application to Eri to form an idol club. Eri is sceptical of them forming one since they are in their second years. Besides, they need 5 members to officially form a club. Borrowing words from the chairwoman, hastily throwing in ideas to prevent the school‘s closure won’t change its predicament and they should be focusing on their time left here. Despite the disappointment, Honoka won’t give up yet.

Episode 2
Honoka hands in her request to Eri for permission to use the auditorium for their concert after the entrance ceremony. Eri remains sceptical but Nozomi takes the trio’s side. They just want to borrow it and not use it for club activities, thus the student council have no right to object. Kotori designs their outfit but Umi objects because she feels the skirt is too short. Besides, she thinks her legs are too fat. Honoka suggests they go on a diet then. But the first order is to come up with a name for their idol group. Let’s say they have a bad naming sense that would make them sound like jokers. So Honoka gets an idea to put a survey of what their group is to be called. It will also garner interest in the group as well. Next is to find a place to practice and since every place possible is filled with people, the rooftop is their only option. But they can’t get started because they don’t know what song to sing! Heck, they don’t even have one! Hanayo Koizumi sees the idol poster and is interested but this shy girl is taken away by her tomboyish friend, Rin Hoshizora.  Niko Yazawa also looks at the poster but with a contempt look on her face. Umi visits Honoka’s home and is appalled that the duo have forgotten about dieting since they are munching away the snacks. Are they serious about becoming idols? Honoka tells them about Maki and her piano and wants to invite her. Then they try to persuade Umi to write lyrics since she used to write poems when she was young. She is forced to because the rest sucks. Yeah. That puppy dog eyes really did help convince her. In exchange for doing this, she will be in charge of their practice schedule. Showing them a clip of A-Rise’s dance, they have lots of stamina and are able to smile while prancing around. She makes Honoka do some push-ups. Easy? Now try doing it while smiling. Tough, no? And so Umi becomes a Spartan in training her buddies to build their stamina by running up the stairs of the shrine. They see Nozomi working here part time as a miko priestess.

Honoka looks for Maki and once again tries to persuade her. Same answer. Not doing it. Why? She just doesn’t want to. Then Eri steps up to talk to Honoka. She wants her to stop this. Their school has never had an idol group before and if this plan backfires, what will others think? That’s why she wants her to stop acting as though saving the school is easy. This throws Honoka off her feet and she starts feeling gloomy that it is not fun and games like she thought. They are running short of time and have not begun on the many preparations. Honoka’s confidence receives a major boost when her other classmates agree to help her out whenever they can. She is even happier when she sees a suggestion in the survey box. It is the Greek alphabet of muse. And so it is decided that they will be called Muse (because writing this alphabet would be a pain for this blog). Honoka goes to look for Maki again and once more she is awed at her piano playing. Again she tries to persuade so Maki tells her reason why she doesn’t want to join because it feels the kind of music they sing isn’t serious and lacks depth. She is more into classical and jazz. Of course Honoka says being an idol isn’t easy either and has her do push-ups while smiling. Then she gives her Umi’s lyrics and wants her to read it. If she is not convinced even after reading it, she will stop bothering her. Honoka praises her singing, the reason why she would love to have her composing songs for them. That evening, Maki sees the trio doing their stamina training and realizes their resolve. She sends them a CD of a song she wrote and the trio are very impressed. They also note their online idol ranking has gone up a notch with a vote. They can thank Maki for that. Yeah. Rank 999. Only 998 more spots to the top.

Episode 3
As the trio continue their training, they spot Maki spying on them and ring her in. Although she is still in denial mode, they let her listen to the song they wrote that they have recorded themselves. In school, a couple of girls recognize Muse because of the video uploaded on the internet. Honoka is happy and is going to give a little sneak peak demonstration but she finds Umi suddenly ‘missing’. Seems she is hiding because she has a fear of performing in public. The best way to overcome her phobia is to let her help them out handing flyers for their concert tomorrow. So they think. She’s more scared than ever. Just think of them as vegetables. Looking weird, eh? It might be demoralizing that nobody is interested in taking a look at their flyer but Umi hits the first one: Hanayo. She thought of taking the short cut and giving all her flyers to her. There’s not short cut to success. Back at Honoka’s home, Kotori shows the dress she has made. To Umi’s dismay it wasn’t what she expected because the skirt is still short. Umi pulls out of the group and says they only have themselves to blame. But when Honoka starts spouting about the hard work and effort they put in, blah, blah, blah, Umi feels bad and changes her mind. Next day after the school entrance ceremony, the trio continue to hand out flyers. But it seems to be tougher than thought since many of them are interested in joining other clubs. Just before the concert, the trio put on their idol costumes. Honoka and Kotori are appalled Umi is wearing track bottoms. Looking very odd. They pull down her pants and make her look in the mirror. And then psycho her how cute she looks. Hanayo wanted to attend the concert but pushy Rin takes her to go look at some sports club to join.

Moments before the curtain rises, Muse is ready to give their best performance yet. And they are going to go all out before the sell-out crowd… Oh… Nobody… Not a soul! Man, this is very disheartening. Honoka is on the verge of tears but tries to put up a brave front. Her classmates feel bad for her because they did all they can to help and yet nobody turned up. Suddenly Hanayo runs into the auditorium. She is puzzled because she thought there is supposed to be a concert. Did she enter the wrong hall? Muse gets their confidence back and to perform even if it’s just one spectator. But that number won’t stay for long because as they perform Start:Dash!, they are soon joined by Rin who came rushing in to look for her friend and is amazed at the performance. Nozomi is listening outside and also catches Maki doing the same but hiding behind a corner. Eri is watching from the broadcasting room while I do not know if Niko has been hiding within the seats of the auditorium all this time or just snuck in. At the end, everyone is awe struck by their performance. But Eri had to pour cold water on their efforts because she doubts continuing this would make a difference. But Honoka insists they will keep singing and dancing. She hasn’t felt like this before and wants to keep believing. They’ll keep trying and do everything they can to get this feeling out there. This feeling in their hearts that brought them here.

Episode 4
Hanayo would love to become an idol as it is her childhood dream. However she feels she can’t as her voice is too soft and shy. Honoka and co are at the alpaca stable and see Hanayo as the caretaker. They remember her as one of the audiences at their concert. Honoka becomes pushy in asking her to join. Or desperate rather. I hope she doesn’t scare her off. When Rin asks Hanayo what club she wants to join and can tell she wants to join the idol club. Hanayo doesn’t have the confidence and asks about Rin herself. Rin considers herself tomboyish and thinks she won’t fit in. Later Hanayo sees Maki secretly taking a Muse recruiting flyer but notices she dropped her student ID. Meanwhile Eri goes to see the chairwoman about wanting permission for the student council to save the school because she thinks the idol group would just make the school more unappealing. The chairwoman disagrees and shows Muse starting to gain popularity because somebody uploaded their video on the internet. Hanayo arrives at Maki’s big mansion to return her student ID. Bringing up the topic of Muse causes Maki to be clumsy as she bumps and crashes into her furniture. Is she interested in joining the idol group? Maki says it is impossible because it is decided she will go to a medicine school so music is over for her. But she did hint that if Hanayo becomes a group member, she’ll help her out once in a while.

Hanayo then goes to Honoka’s home. She opens the room door and sees Kotoha trying to make her breasts big! Oops. Wrong room. In the next room, she sees Umi in her delusion performing to the crowd. Hanayo thinks she is done for when the girls corner her. Can she really forget that embarrassing scenes? Once everyone gathers, they see the uploaded video and wonders if Hanayo will join them. She is still unsure so the rest tell her about their own flaws and would have easily failed in becoming professional idols. But as long they have motivation and a goal to aspire to, they can keep trying. They don’t expect an answer from her now and hope she could take some time to think about it. Although Hanayo tries reading aloud in class, she embarrasses herself by biting her own tongue. Later Maki talks to her and practises with her to speak up her voice. When Rin enters the scene to pester Hanayo to join Muse, I don’t know how it becomes a competition between Rin and Maki to be the one who will take Hanayo to them. WTF. Does she have a say in this? Apparently not because they drag her there while arguing about it. At the rooftop, Rin and Maki give all the encouragement to Hanayo to join. In her own voice she finally expresses her wish to join Muse and they gladly accept her. Why are Rin and Maki crying like as though they are seeing their daughter growing up? Anyway they are not to be left out and Muse extends their recruitment to join them. Care to be part of the idol group? For them to be so defiant at the start, suddenly they just accept? As Rin and Maki wake up early for the training (this is going to be a daily affair), they see Hanayo casting away her spectacles and using contacts instead. She looks cuter and less nerdy this way.

Episode 5
Kotori thinks someone is stalking them. It turns out to be Niko but she tells them all to break up! Muse prepares to practice at the rooftop but it is rainy season. Bummer. Honoka and Rin thought they can practice in the rain but wouldn’t that make it more slippery? Unless you’re as athletic as Rin, maybe. At the fast food joint, Muse tries hard to think of a proper place to practice. And then Honoka just remembered. It takes 5 members to form a club and they have 6! Unknown to them, Niko is spying at the next table and she is appalled Honoka only recently thought of that. The rest realize she is the one who is stealing their fries and burger! Honoka is more concerned about her fries but Niko reminds her to break up as they are a disgrace to real idols before running off. Honoka takes her club application to Eri but she turns it down. Seems the school already has an Idol Research Club and it only has a member. Although it takes 5 members to form a club, once formed, it doesn’t matter how many members are left. Due to the school closing down, they want to discourage the formation of clubs and as long as this one exists, she won’t approve it. Nozomi suggests talking to the sole member of this club. Guess what? Yeah. Niko is the president of this club. Surprised Niko first locks herself inside the clubroom. Then she makes a run and escapes via window. Rin chases her but she ultimately bumps into the alpaca.

Muse is let into the clubroom and they are astounded to see Niko an avid collector of anything school idols. She even has the rarest Legendary Legend of Legend Idol box compilation. Suddenly Hanayo becomes miss-know-it-all. Getting down to business, Niko knows they are here for the merger talks and rejects them instantly. Although they don’t want to disband her club and just need a place to practice, Niko won’t listen. It is not that they practice and train hard every day. It’s because they lack persona. What persona? Niko demonstrates her cutsey Niko-niko smile move. Cute? Or just embarrassing? She believes such persona is to give fans what they want, idols need an appropriate persona. After that she kicks them out. Nozomi has anticipated this so she tells Muse that Niko was once the school’s idol. However she set the bar too high and everyone quit. Niko envies them and since her criticisms prove she takes an interest in them. Niko continues to stalk Honoka and friends and doesn’t believe how close they are. But she herself feels lonely like she’s missing out on something she wanted. One day when she enters the clubroom, she is surprised to see Muse waiting for her and eagerly awaiting her consultation of the next song they will sing. Wait a minute. Did Honoka just include Niko as part of Muse? I guess you can say Niko accepts being part of the idol group because she mentions that training from now on will be tough. Her first advice is that idols aren’t there to show people their smile, but make people smile! Remember that! And so Niko begins training her peers and starts off by doing the Niko-niko smile. She’s strict but she looks happy.

Episode 6
Nozomi goes around helping Muse with her interview to increase their publicity. Honoka is all for it while Umi is against it. Eventually she has to agree… The secret video of Honoka dozing off in class and being lazy… Is this what she bargained for? Feels more like invasion of privacy. We know what Eri will say if she sees this. Niko tries to put up her cutie idol act but what Nozomi wants is to film them in their natural state. Well, I thought Niko’s natural state looks pretty artificial too. I guess nobody is interested and left her to act all by herself. Nozomi continues to film and interview Muse but the way some are shy, uncooperative or just fooling around, it doesn’t seem it will give a good impression. So Nozomi films them while they are at their best during practice. One hour of hard dancing and singing without complaining. Nozomi visits Honoka’s house. Honoka’s mom tries to frantically put on some makeup seeing the student council is here. Honoka wanted to introduce Kotoha but they see her trying to fit into her belt. Just one more hole… Nozomi talks to Honoka about her contribution to Muse. Since the songs, lyrics and even dance steps come from other members, what mostly Honoka does is lazing around and getting wowed from watching other idols online. This makes her wonder how come she is the leader of Muse. Is she? And so Niko calls a meeting with Muse to decide the group’s leader. I thought Niko was the self proclaimed one since she is the president of the club, right? Apparently not. Niko gets all passionate in telling the traits of a leader. Get the feeling she is hinting herself? Why the sudden emphasize and need for a group leader? Because the leader will take the centre position. The rest ignore her and continue to be split in either Umi or Honoka as the leader. Honoka has no qualms if Umi takes over. She doesn’t care if she is no longer the centre since they’ll still be working together as Muse. As everyone is split, Niko tries to hint herself but is completely ignored. Does she want it that bad? Then why not just say it?

And so looks like Niko takes the hard way in determining the leader. First, a karaoke competition whereby the one who scores the highest gets to be it. Niko has already chosen the songs she is confident and will do well and tells those who aren’t interested to not participate since less rivals, better her chance. Guess what? All of them scored above 90 points. Good thing those practices paid off, eh? And they didn’t even take it seriously. Next is the dancing at the arcade challenge. Niko has the same confidence she can beat those amateurs at this game. Guess what? They all did well on their first time. Good thing those practices paid off, eh? Lastly, the aura test. Say what? Whoever finishes handing out their flyer means they have an aura to attract others and thus the winner. Niko is confident since this is her forte. But Kotori finishes first and Niko in dead last. Good thing those… Uhm, never mind. In the end, nobody really stood out and are more equal in the overall score. I see Niko, your chances of becoming the leader is pretty slim. So do they still need a leader? Honoka doesn’t think they should have one as they have been practising and singing just fine without one. She suggests they all take turns. Everyone gets to be the centre. This sits well with everyone and Niko even agrees (she has to). Of course, everybody knows that Honoka is their unofficial leader because she doesn’t let things get in her way, does what she finds most interesting and does it without hesitating. A video of Muse singing is uploaded. Nozomi shows it to Eri who remains sceptical. Nozomi just told them what she feels and hopes Eri would acknowledge them. They will be better if she helps. But Eri tells Nozomi to help them herself. She can’t because her cards state that Eri is the person they need most. Hanayo rushes to the clubroom to tell everyone some big news.

Episode 7
The big news is that there is going to be a Love Live event. The top 20 school idols of the nation will compete to find out who is the best (it will be streamed online too). Hanayo is thrilled that she wants to attend all those concerts but doesn’t have confidence about Muse’s participation. What’s more, Umi says their position is too low for them to qualify. To their surprise, checking their stats again it seems they have been picked as a rising school idol group. There are lots of encouraging comments on their video. Even Maki has fans from other schools waiting outside the gates. As a condition to participate, they need permission from the school so they head towards’ the chairwoman’s room. She agrees but Eri is against it since she herself said they shouldn’t sacrifice their school life for the school. But the chairwoman doesn’t see any harm for them to enter. Eri then demands that she too wants to help save the school but was turned down. Eri thinks she is siding them and leaves. The chairwoman has 1 condition for them to participate: All must not fail any of their subjects. Easy, right? Well, Honoka, Rin and Niko don’t seem to look so good. This is going to be tough. Honoka is so bad in maths that she thinks 7×4 = 26. She took 5 seconds to calculate that. Not good… Rin is weak in English but doesn’t feel the need to speak a foreign language since they’re Japanese (excuse, excuse). Niko asserts she doesn’t fail anything. I don’t think she can fool anybody on this one. So Kotori and Umi will help Honoka while Maki and Hanayo will help Rin. As for Niko, Nozomi will do the honours. Because if she fools around, she’ll give a breast rub she’ll never forget. I never knew Nozomi could be this scary. She might be enjoying it too. Umi sees a girl, Arisa watching a video of Muse that wasn’t uploaded before. Arisa is a fan of Muse and it was recorded by her sister. Who? Eri.

Umi talks to Eri and finds out she is the one who uploads all Muse’s videos. Never crossed her mind she would be the one since she is so against it. Without it, Muse would never have gone this far and got lots of viewers. But Eri doesn’t want her to get the wrong idea. She uploaded those videos to prove Muse wouldn’t get to their fans. However it backfired. She still thinks they are not cut out to represent the school and won’t acknowledge them. Even if they get more popular. Because she views all idols as amateurs, including A-Rise. Umi wants to talk to Nozomi (catching her in the act of molesting Niko’s boobs for fooling around) and wants to know why Eri isn’t fond of idols despite seeing them dance and sing. Umi is shown a ballerina clip of young Eri dancing gracefully. The shock is too deep for Umi as she understands why Eri said that. It made her think what they have been doing all the while. She heads to the student council’s room and hope she could request her to teach Muse to dance at least half as good as her. But Nozomi says that will have to wait and something more important comes first. The exam is in 5 days. If Nozomi wasn’t a demon making the idiotic trio study like hell, Umi becomes demon instructor number 2 because she is going to stay at Honoka’s house till the exam. Not letting up. The exam results are out and thankfully all of them pass (Honoka just barely but a pass is still a pass). It would be tad sad if such lovely girls won’t get to compete in Love Live. Muse is now motivated to seek the chairwoman’s permission but they hear a shocking statement. Outside her office they hear her telling Eri that the decision is final that Otonokizaka will stop accepting student applications next year and will shut down.

Episode 8
Honoka can’t believe it and pleads for more time. What the chairwoman meant was, in 2 weeks’ time they will be having an Open Campus. Middle school goers will have a look around their school and if it is poorly received, Otonokizaka will shut down. Eri will be taking action to ensure events for the Open Campus. But it seems the suggestions suggested by her fellow members seem boring. Is there any other attraction? Yeah. The school’s alpaca.  Oh, she got spit at. As Muse practise, Umi thinks this won’t do and their dance lacks impact. They discuss about Eri who is a great dancer and if you want to compare their dances, of course theirs look amateurish. Honoka feels she wants to get Eri to help train them to dance. Though some are against it, I guess there is no harm in trying. Eri reads her practice speech to her sister but Arisa finds it boring. Is this what she really wants to do? Honoka asks Eri to teach them to dance and she accepts seeing they are popular enough and thus willing to help out. Eri remembers the heartbreak of failing to be selected despite her magnificent dance. Of course she lost out to someone better but the bitter feeling still remained. Eri starts her Spartan training by making them do basic muscle training, stretching and balancing. Rin looks like she is having trouble. She’s in trouble. Shows how unfit some of them are. At the end of the day, she feels they aren’t up to it and tells them if they can’t keep up with it, just tell her sooner so she doesn’t have to waste time on them. Honoka thanks her and hopes she could continue to teach them.

Eri’s dilemma continues. She hears Arisa listening to Muse and enthralled by their efforts and it cheers her up. On the next practice, Eri has doubts whether Muse will improve or not so Honoka says they’re doing it because they want to and they want to save the school just as much as her. Eri leaves but Nozomi confronts her to ask what is it that she wants to do. She always thinks about others but never herself. She’s only trying to stop the school because she feels it’s her duty as student council president. Perhaps that’s the reason why the chairwoman won’t let her. Eri blows her top. She says she would have done something if it could get her somewhere. She starts crying lamenting it is hard for her to join the group now. As she sulks in her classroom, Muse comes to extend their hand for her to join. They heard from Nozomi and should’ve just told them sooner. Though Eri still has her pride, Nozomi knows how to work her way around to convince her. And so, Eri becomes the eighth member. There is even more delight in store because Nozomi becomes the ninth one and Muse is now a whole. Why is she joining now? She’s going according to her cards. Muse as the name suggests refers to the 9 signing goddesses. She is the one who came up with the group’s name. Muse puts up their performance in front of the middle schoolers on Open Campus and they really love their performance.

Episode 9
Due to the welcome response, the decision to shut down the school is postponed. Remember. Just postponed. Another good news is that Muse now has got a bigger room for their club. Thanks to Eri joining them, their popularity skyrocketed and sits at 50th in the rankings. But lately Kotori can’t join them for practice and always leaves early. A new shop selling memorabilia of school idols opens in Akiba. Muse is surprised they even have their own. Is this legal? But Niko seems to be frantic she can’t spot one with her own face on it! And when she does, look how happy she is. They see a picture of Kotori in a maid outfit on sale. And then Kotori comes by in a maid outfit to request that photo be taken off. Once she realizes her pals, she pretends she doesn’t know them and makes a run. She can outrun the rest but she can never beat Nozomi. She knows where she is and threatens a breast rub if she resists. That always works. As explained, she is known as the legendary Akiba maid Minalinsky. It’s mind boggling they don’t even know. She started doing this part time maid café job around the time Muse was formed. This is to change herself. She still feels she can’t do anything compared to her friends although they know very well Kotori has done her fair share of things. Eri notes it is normal that one usually feel they have no talent. But in a way it makes them work harder and improve themselves. Soon Eri announces they will hold a live performance in Akiba. Despite being the stronghold of A-Rise, they’ll get good publicity if they pull off a great performance. And so she entrusts Kotori to write the lyrics of their new song since she knows the place better than the rest. Since everyone is having high hopes for her, she reluctantly accepts.

We see Kotori write… Cute words… But it doesn’t make sense or at least connect. I know she’s trying but… Chocolate parfaits are delicious… Crisp Crepes I want one… Five toed socks feel nice… If you lay out lots of macaroons it is all colourful and makes you smile… Because of that, Kotori has a hard time concentrating in class and at this rate she might go crazy. That’s when Honoka decides to do brainstorming together. So our trio of second years work part time at the maid café with their other Muse members as customers. What better way than to find those words by experiencing the place itself. Kotori shows why she is the legendary maid with her gracious service. I want to be served by her too! Umi who is still afraid of meeting people is doing a more traditional maid’s job: Washing dishes at the back. Aren’t maids supposed to do this kind of jobs? She gets some encouragement from Kotori. She’s like a whole new person when she dons the maid outfit. Honoka gets an idea that she should just use the words that she talks with her friends or anybody in her lyrics. With that, Kotori’s mind flows better as she pens down the words. Muse then puts up their live performance with all of them in a maid outfit and it is a success. The trio also gained lots of experience being a maid. At the end of the day, Kotori wonders how long they’ll be together. She’s sad everything will end in 2 years. Honoka assures her that they’ll always be together. It makes her feel so much better.

Episode 10
Honoka thinks it is too hot to practise. Excuses, excuses. So she comes up with this idea of having a summer camp. She suggests having it at Maki’s villa. Since Eri gives the green light, I guess Maki has no choice but to seek her parents’ permission. Before they depart, Eri has them practise calling each other casually and do away with the senior-junior thingy. Maki’s villa is bigger than everyone thought. Who’d knew she was this rich! Umi has come up with a very rigorous training schedule. 10km swimming followed by 10km running? Wow. Is this Spartan training? I know they’ve got less than a month for the Love Live competition but isn’t this too much. So our lazy trio (that’s Honoka, Niko and Rin) try to worm their way out and they manage to get everyone to have in the beach. Eri approves of it since it will help bridge the gap between them. Nozomi films them as part of the PV. Nozomi notices Maki not mixing with the rest so she goes talk to her despite she is being herself, she actually wants to get along with everyone but just can’t bring herself to express it. Why is Nozomi sticking her nose in her business? Because she knows someone who is very similar like her. Niko surprises everyone that she can cook (despite saying earlier on she has a chef who cooks for her and thus doesn’t know a thing). After that wonderful curry meal, they want to go watch the fireworks. However Umi wants to practise after that. Still giving excuses not to? Since everyone is divided, they go soak in the hotspring before going to bed. It’s going to be a long day of practise tomorrow. However nobody can sleep. Except Umi. She’s already out. They hear something munching away and it turns out to be Honoka. She thinks eating snacks can help her sleep better? Maybe put on more weight, yeah. Nozomi initiates a pillow fight and blames Maki as the source. In no time, it’s every girl for herself. I can’t believe Umi can sleep through all that racket. Till the pillows hit her face. Now she has awakened into a demon! Regret waking her up? Her supersonic pillow throw is enough to put out unfortunate souls into deep sleep! Scary! She is taken out by Nozomi-Maki combo. Nozomi notes Maki is more casual with everyone now. The first light of morning comes. Maki wakes up and sees Nozomi looking over the horizon at the beach. Nozomi tells her how she loves Muse a lot and doesn’t want any member to fall back. Although it was the second years who created Muse, she has been watching them since and has an emotional attachment to the group. The rest of the girls wake up and watch the beautiful sunrise together hand in hand.

Episode 11
Muse has climbed their way to 19th and they are ecstatic if they keep it up, they’ll qualify for Love Live. Of course they can’t rest yet with the many school idols below 20th place not giving up yet since they are approaching the home stretch. This means more practice. Also, Eri suggests to do more performances (since doing something special won’t cut it at this point in time) and to use the upcoming cultural festival as their platform. Because Niko wanted to do something so badly, she ends up being the one who will pick the auditorium for their performance. She didn’t know it was via lottery style. Muse watches in baited breath as she spins. Can her luck bring it? Well, no. No auditorium for them. So depressed. Like it’s the end of the world for some. And some blaming Niko for screwing up. I hope that’s just a joke. They start thinking about other places to hold their performance and the only viable place is the rooftop. Although people down there can’t see them, Honoka suggests they sing out loud and this will attract people to come up and watch them. Great idea. And so the rooftop it will be. Kotori seems to be having her own dilemma. She has received a letter and asks her mom for opinion. She says it is up to her to decide. In another discussion, Honoka suggests of practising a new song that she heard Maki wrote. Do they have time to practise new moves? Honoka just wants to do her best. This means extra solo night training by her own initiative. She even comes up with new moves and works the hardest. Umi is concerned about her for practising up till so late and hopes Kotori would talk her to her senses but she says it’s up to Honoka to do what she wants. That night, Honoka and Umi call each other and think Kotori is acting strange. But Honoka thinks she is just excited for the performance. Honoka continues her midnight jogging even if it’s raining. Subsequently Kotori calls Umi about her dilemma. On the day of the festival, Honoka wakes up a little late (thank her mom for that, otherwise she would have slept through the day) and finds she is sick. Oh no. To make the day worse, it is raining. Honoka hides her illness (seriously, her friends can’t tell?) as Muse gets dressed up. They can’t back out now after they’ve come this far. They are only here because they kept pushing themselves and all they have to do is their best. Kotori doesn’t want to shock the group and will wait after the performance to announce. I wonder if it’s a wise idea for Muse to go out and dance in the rain. I hope the platform is not slippery. You know what can happen with all that dancing, jumping and moving about. Too bad you won’t get to see the effects of idols’ clothes being heavily soaked. Get what I mean ;p. Right after the first song ends, Honoka collapses. Though everyone panics, weak Honoka still won’t give up. She wants to sing the next song. The show must go on.

Episode 12
Muse cannot carry on with the performance and some of the audience start leaving. The girls pay Honoka a visit at her house and she’s recuperating fine. But Eri informs they will not be participating in Love Live. The chairwoman told them to reflect on this and what their original goal was. After discussing, Muse decided to abstain from participating and withdraw themselves. They are no longer in the standings. Eri also says it is no use blaming things now. Everyone is to blame. Honoka didn’t manage herself better and everyone else for not noticing. I bet they didn’t even notice this one: Kotori is seen packing her things at home and is sure she will tell Honoka about it tomorrow. Honoka is depressed back in school so much so Kotori doesn’t have the heart to tell her. Niko couldn’t bear to see it and sends Nozomi to do her breast rub. It always works. As they are out of the running for Love Live, they can take their practice easy and still perform, though they are not in a hurry to do so. They receive the good news that there is an increase in applicants for next year’s intake. Which means the school won’t be closed down for at least another year. Happy everyone? Yeah, but why isn’t Kotori? Umi advises her the longer she puts it off, the harder it gets. Niko celebrates with the rest of Muse about their school’s revival. She’s making a speech nobody wants to listen. Because Kotori continues to be indecisive, Umi decides to tell everyone on her behalf. Kotori will be leaving to study abroad in 2 weeks to study costume designing. She didn’t want to break their spirits and decided to tell them after the festival. Once she leaves, she won’t come back at least after she graduates from high school.

Honoka is upset she never told her. They’re friends, right? But she told Umi, didn’t she? There were many times she wanted to tell her but Honoka was so focused on Love Live. She wanted to tell her after the festival but she collapsed. She wanted to discuss it with her to make a decision since she is her first friend. Kotori runs away in tears. Umi says she may not actually want to go and struggled so long to make a decision probably she was thinking about Honoka. She wasn’t trying to keep it a secret either. Later Honoka mails to Kotori to apologize she never considered how others felt and only thought about herself. But it’s too late now, huh? Though Honoka continues to be depressed in class, Eri calls her up to the rooftop. Muse plans to do a final performance together for Kotori’s farewell. But Honoka blames herself if she had only took note of others, this wouldn’t have happened. Eri chides her for taking all the blame. It won’t do them any good now. Getting depressed won’t get them anywhere. Besides, there’s always next time for Love Live. But Honoka’s morale is so low that she wonders what is the point of competing since they’ve already reached their goal. Besides, they’ll never beat A-Rise. This upsets Niko because she joined them since she took this seriously and believed in her. If she is serious in what she just said, Niko is going to beat her up (only to be restrained by Maki). Is this alone enough to make her lose all her motivation? Eri asks what Honoka will do now. She will quit being a school idol. Umi won’t allow her to have her way and slaps her. Where has the Honoka she knew gone to?

Episode 13
Kotori and Honoka has not talked since and the latter continues to put up a gloomy facade. Eri has put Muse on hiatus and this does not sit well with Niko. Umi goes talk to Kotori and from the way she says things, it is too late for her to turn back now. Oh, really? With so much free time, Honoka hangs out with her friends and at the arcade while playing a dancing game, she is reminded of her times practising and dancing as Muse. After parting ways with her friends, she meets Niko, Rin and Hanayo practising by themselves. Though Muse is on hiatus, nobody said they should stop being a school idol. Don’t you remember? Niko loves idols, the reason she is doing this. She loves the kind of idols that motivate everyone to work hard and asserts her love is different than her half-hearted one. The rest love to have her back since she was the one who started this. Later Eri visits Honoka’s home to apologize about putting Muse on hiatus. Eri talks about herself. People view her as strict and calm but she finds herself hesitant, indecisive and always wanting to cry. However she hides her weak side and wishes she could be like her who is not afraid to show what she feels. Honoka thought her the courage to move on without fear of change because back then, her hands saved her. Kotori’s mom sees her daughter off alone at the airport. It’s better this way she doesn’t see anybody or else she won’t stop crying. Umi sees Honoka at the school’s auditorium. Honoka is here not because of Love Live but her love for singing. She admits being awkward and selfish but wants to keep going. Umi starts laughing. She says she has always been causing them trouble. They can never get her to listen to reason. Take a good example how Umi was forced to join this idol thingy whether she likes it or not. However due to that, she always takes them places. Great places where they can’t go on their own as they lack courage. She is mad not because she didn’t notice how Kotori felt, but rather she was denying how she truly felt. After a short song, Umi tells Honoka to get Kotori. Didn’t she decide to leave? Just like Umi, Kotori wants her to be selfish and wants to be led by her. She found favour with a famous designer and no one would tell her to stay. The only one who can be selfish with her is… Honoka rushes her way just in time to the airport to grab Kotori. She wants to be a school idol with her even if they end up pursuing different dreams one day. Easy as that, Kotori goes back with Honoka just in time for Muse to put on a concert in front of a full hall. At the end, Honoka makes an announcement of Muse Music Start.

This one only lasts 15 minutes. It begins with Hanayo being freaked out after hearing Maki’s weird dream of being chased through the dark corridors and getting trapped. Later when Maki goes to play the piano, she notices a key without any sound, as she tries to take a closer look, she is scared out of the daylights when she sees a little girl standing by the piano. Because of that, she becomes absent from Muse’s practice the next day. That scared that she turned ill, huh? The girls think of visiting her after practice. When they leave, Eri remembers she forgot something and returns to her classroom to retrieve it. Suddenly it turns dark. Colourful stage lights fill the path as she chases after silhouette of that little girl. When she comes out, Eri is reunited with the rest of her friends, they are surprised that the day has become night! They think they are inside some dream. Then that little girl pops out to confirm it. She is Maki in her young age (Niko is devastated she is cuter than her!). She says they are all interesting as they are very close together. She also says this is a never-ending party. As the fireworks light up the sky, she adds that she has known them for a very long time even before they became Muse. Before she could complete her sentence, she transforms into her high school self. She herself is surprised to find herself here but the rest are amazed of this magic she pulled. Did she? They are certain this is her dream. As for what little Maki wanted to say, it was that she always liked them all. Now we have a full length song and dance video of Muse. WTF. I don’t get it. What’s this OVA about? Unless it’s just a prelude and introduction to this song Music Start which happens to be their sixth and latest single.

S.O.S. (Save Our School)!
Guess I had a feeling it had to end this way. There is no way that a group with cute girls would just disband and end of a story. There is no way that a member would go far away and be separated from the rest of her friends. How else would they make a second season then? It would be impossible to be an idol unit via long distance relationship. It just wouldn’t work. By the way, a sequel has been scheduled to be released somewhere in mid 2014. Fans of the group would definitely rejoice on this news but for me, just like my stint with AKB0048, I’ll still be hanging around to see how far they will climb and eventually become top. The sequel is like giving them a second chance to participate in Love Live since they totally missed this one out due to a little ‘internal misunderstanding’. Maybe it is a good thing too that they didn’t get to participate because it gives them more time to practise and hone their skills. So for a big part of this season, we mainly see how Muse gathers all its members and from what it started as an idol group to save the school (and have already achieved it), they turn their sights to a bigger goal by becoming the nation’s top school idols. So that’s why I have this feeling that the sequel will see Muse take on all-time favourites A-Rise and even if they don’t take the crown from them, at least they will make it known that they have put up a good fight and letting the A-Rise trio that there is another idol group who isn’t so far behind.

Each of the characters has their own personality and with a variety of them, it is easy to see why they shine. A mix of different types of personalities has a great impact in the diversity of the group. You may have fans liking a certain character but in the end, they still love the group as a whole. Honoka is unofficially the leader because of her cheerful outlook and not afraid to let her feelings known. Some may say she’s selfish but I won’t say that it is to a point that makes her a dictator. Even if she seems pushy about it, eventually it is the other girls who agree to her ways, right? So it’s not totally her fault. It’s just that moment of weakness she had in the end that knocked her balance off a little. Because she has helped those in need, now it is their turn to help her back. Out of all the girls, the most amusing one is Niko. If I should say, she is more like the group’s joker. Not to say she is always like one but because of her child-like tendencies, the way she acts and thinks-she-knows-it-all makes her an amusing girl. But her passion for idols is genuine and you can’t pull a fast one on this area. She knows her idol stuff like the back of her hand. Nozomi acts like the big sister of the group, watching and keeping an eye out for them. Her breast rub technique makes her a character that has extreme sides. We can do it the nice way or the hard way…

Eri is one character whom I feel has undergone the most change. Before Muse was a whole, she was always playing the strict no nonsense student council president, not please with what Honoka and co are doing. It’s understandable that she has an image to put up with. Deep down in her heart, she perhaps had always wanted to be part of Muse but because she keeps delaying, the cold image of hers becomes harder to shake off. When she has cast away all that and become part of Muse, she becomes a better person. Heck, I think she looks prettier when she constantly smiles! Better than that serious frown she always had. Umi has also changed because she doesn’t fear performing in public as much as she does before. Maki also learns to mix well with the rest of her friends and Kotori definitely looks better if she has that dreamy look instead of that indecisive one. Was it really that simple? She just wanted a friend to tell her not to go and she won’t? Well, this girly thing I really don’t understand but it’s not my place to say. Rounding up the rest of Muse are the shy Hanayo and tomboyish Rin. With such a variety of characters, how can you not love them? Even the side characters are lovable themselves though I don’t think they’ll ever be part of Muse. Kotoha is a funny girl whenever you catch her in the act of some dieting or self slimming down stuff. Arisa exudes lot of moe while Honoka’s friends are truly friends because they help support her through times.

Hardcore fans would already know this by heart since it is common knowledge but since I only knew about this group via anime, I only learnt that the girls of Muse (in reality, the name was picked via handphone poll – heck, many of the costumes, hairstyle and position are determined via handphone poll) are played and voiced by the same people ever since their inception back in 2010. It’s like they’ve planned this for a long time and anticipated this would eventually happen. I guess this is only right since Muse also have their own fan base (and growing). Fans of a certain idol wouldn’t really like it if some character in the anime is voiced by a different person.  Based from the episode 0 I’ve seen, they have put in quite a lot of effort by staging various promotional events, live programmes and concerts to keep fans coming back for more. They’ve come a long way and you could say it is quite a successful project. Some of the members went on to lend their voice in other animes like Honoka’s Emi Nitta, Kotori’s Aya Uchida, Umi’s Suzuko Mimori, Niko’s Sora Tokui, Eri’s Yoshino Nanjou and Hanayo’s Yurika Kubo. Maki’s Pile, Rin’s Riho Iida and Nozomi’s Aina Kusuda only have this anime as their debut in voice acting. As for the rest of the supporting characters, they didn’t use big veteran names of the seiyuu industry since many of them don’t ring a bell to me (sorry) but they’ve got some experience in the industry. The only veteran seiyuu I recognized from the list is Kikuko Inoue playing as Maki’s mother.

Music plays a big part of any idol themed animes. I won’t say that I totally love their songs and moves, I just find them rather okay. I’m not an idol person so don’t hate me for that. Still, I think they sound pretty good and enjoyable. Of all the songs that I have heard and featured in this anime, the one that I like most is the insert song, Start:Dash! Well, at least I thought it made me tap my feet to its nice tune. The opening theme is Bokura Wa Ima No Naka De by Muse (who else?) and sounds like your typical energetic and happy idol song complete with its own unique moves for this piece. Kitto Seishun Ga Kikoeru by Muse (seriously, you’re not thinking it would be some other group, aren’t you?) is the ending the theme and although it is still the lively piece, it feels less energetic compared to the opening theme. Although this is the only ending song, there are many versions of it. I mean, with 9 members in Muse, there are going to be a version which is sung by only one of them or a duet and so on. The combination is endless although hardcore fans would know the ‘permanent members’ when they are not singing together as a whole and when they break into smaller units of 3. In my opinion, I think they sound better if all sing the song. Because some don’t really sound good if they’re singing solo… Whoops. I’m not the one to say…

The drawing and art of the anime is of course vividly bright and colourful. You can’t attract people having dull and monochrome colours, can’t you? In the course of the anime, you get to see Muse performing in some of their trademark costumes and perhaps even more in the next season. To add to the realism of the dance and choreography, CGI animation of the girls is used just like how it was done in AKB0048 too. At first it may look odd since we have been watching the 2D version for quite a while and then when the performance begins, it shifts into 3D animation. The difference won’t be very much but it is noticeable. More importantly, the animation using CGI is smooth so it doesn’t make Muse feel like a bunch of robots dancing on stage. Of course not the entire song is in CGI mode as some parts are still in 2D animation. This anime was produced by Sunrise and Aikatsu, another idol themed anime was produced under them.

Despite this series lacking all the action and sci-fi stuffs compared to AKB0048, this is still quite an enjoyable show. Unless of course if you aren’t into idols and music, then you may have considered a bunch of girls forming an idol group to save their school from closure to be tad boring. If you’re thinking that this show is intended for girls, I have a feeling it is targeted for mainly males instead. I mean, the main gender group that would love an all-female idol group would be guys, right? There would be girls too but don’t you think all that sexy dance moves and sexy outfit are to attract males? Is it their singing and dancing that we are more interested or is it something else? Well, sometimes I feel that for those who can’t make it to their favourite idol concerts (or even afford it), perhaps this is a reason why this anime is created. So you can watch it from the comfort of your room. But then again, which crazy idol fan doesn’t have every collectible and memorabilia of their favourite idol group, know every darn trivia about them and attended every concert or other events they organized?

Bakuman S3

December 14, 2013

This is it. The final stretch. Can they finally do it and achieve their dream? Yes, after watching them grow and overcoming trials after trials just to become better and better, the final third season of Bakuman is at hand. It might seem like a long time ever since I started watching the first season (released way back in October 2010) and now here I am, concluding the trilogy which was aired back in October 2012. Wow. How time flies when you’re having fun. You start to realize where all the time has gone to when you reflect back that you’ve been spending your entire life doing nothing but your passion. If it brings them one step closer in achieving their dream, then I can say that none of those efforts they put in were wasted in any sort. I may not be their number one fan, but I love to see people who work hard and give it their all. That’s why I’m going full steam ahead in supporting them regardless of the outcome that awaits them at the end of this long journey.

Episode 1
We’re starting off with the good news. The first chapter of Perfect Crime Party (PCP) is ranked first! Wohoo!!! Miura talks to Iwase about +NATURAL’s anime adaptation and the seiyuu candidates. She notices one of them being Azuki and learns she is Mashiro’s girlfriend. Instantly she could see how the name Ashirogi Muto came about. Miura calls Mashiro to inform him that Azuki is one of the candidates of +NATURAL. He is in a dilemma. It is great she is rising up in her industry but what does this spell about their promise? Does he really want her to do it? After all, it is an anime adapted from one of their rivals. Takagi and Miyoshi go to personally go to talk to Azuki and it seems it was her manager who sent in her application on his own and was passed. Although Mashiro said it is up to her decision, Takagi personally feels she should not take up this offer. Because +NATURAL is not the only anime out there. Of course it is still up to her but they don’t want her to accept the role just because Mashiro didn’t stop her. PCP’s ranking drops a place in the following week but it still ranks higher than CROW and +NATURAL. Mashiro is still spacing out that it is affecting his art so Takagi talks to him about his talk with Azuki. On the day of the audition, Niizuma and Iwase arrive at the studio to see Azuki waiting. Iwase wastes no time in asking her the meaning of Ashirogi Muto and she replies to her about their dream. That’s why she is here to turn down the offer. Iwase won’t let her go. After hearing this story, she is determined to use her and won’t allow her to turn it down because of her love life. Suddenly Mashiro barges in and takes Azuki to run away. Niizuma views him as super cool and will use all his authority to reject Azuki! Mashiro and Azuki talk about how they were stubborn. How many times they have broken their promise? She feels he is quite reliable today. She accompanies him at the train station and when he gets off, she suggests kissing next time. Is there something wrong with her today? Well, she believes the next time they meet, their dream will have come true. And so Mashiro is so over the moon. His happy face is so obvious. But Miyoshi seems disappointed that all they did was hold hands. Iwase is one mad girl. She vows to bring down Ashirogi and destroy Azuki’s career. She blames him for siding them since he was the one who started PCP with them. So Miura for once had to put his foot down and tell her that he is +NATURAL’s editor and the only way they are going to compete is with each other’s works. Okay. So give her some ideas for the next chapter! Although PCP’s third chapter ranks fifth, normally this would be good but Hattori knows it is not in Ashirogi’s case. Because Sasaki told him if their ratings are too low by the seventh chapter, he will not hesitate to cancel them.

Episode 2
PCP continues to slip to sixth place. This is not good. So Hattori tells them about their special case. They remember about their condition when they ended Tanto. They need to buck up or else the inevitable. Iwase also learns about this and is shocked. Does she like competing with Ashirogi? Well, to her it is important Takagi be there so she can stand above him! So upset that Iwase calls Takagi himself to tell him that the way they are, they can’t even beat her. Even Niizuma doesn’t view PCP as his challenge. She wants them to use everything they’ve got or else they can only blame themselves for lack of talent. Meanwhile Hiramaru is at his limits. He wants his break! But Yoshida… Can he give up his tea date with Aoki? Yeah, sign a contract while he is at it. This should lay his excuse off for another 6 months… Ashirogi put on their thinking on how to make PCP better and at the same time cater to the main demographic and theme of Jack. Mashiro makes the art lighter and this has their rankings climb back up. Iwase makes frequent night visits to Niizuma and this causes Yuujirou to worry. However they are already adults so he thinks they can do what they please. +NATURAL’s anime make its debut and you can say everyone is impressed. It’s damn good. As predicated by Niizuma too, the manga lost its ranking to PCP. Hiramaru is enjoying his tea date with Aoki. He thought he knew the kind of tea she likes but she points out a different one. So he calls Yoshida and Yamahisa into the room and f*cks them properly for the wrong info!!! Hattori shows Ashirogi the draft of next week’s Jack. Ever since they changed their art style, Niizuma has done his for CROW too. They are surprised to see his chapter without any dialogue! Even more surprising, the readers love it and he garnered more votes when such risky move should have made him lost some. His artwork and storytelling managed to convince the readers that it was an amazing and novel idea. Though PCP still ranks below +NATURAL, PCP will have a full colour cover spread on the 26th issue and they will bet everything on that. Takahama’s court case manga, Seigi No Mikata and Fukuda’s motorcycle racing, Road Racer GIRI make their serialization debut and hit top spot for the first week. Ashirogi feels that they’ve been too focused on taking on +NATURAL that they forgot they have other rivals too. They’re going to do their best when Hattori comes rushing in. He seems out of breath. He shows them next week’s draft for Jack. There is a crossover of CROW in +NATURAL!

Episode 3
Although +NATURAL ranks fourth, PCP is a rank below them on their front page spread. Hattori is worried that at this rate, PCP will be fighting with lower ranked series. He talks to them about how readers pick their top 3 choices and PCP barely made it to third for many readers. There must be more who picked it as their fourth choice. So the challenge now is to raise that to their third choice. They need to make an impact. Takagi suggests running a story arc for 5 chapters. It might be risky to do a storyline that long because once their ranking falls very far, it is hard to get it back up. Also, it requires readers to follow weekly so if they miss an issue, they miss out on the plot. Ashirogi is adamant to take on this challenge. So Takagi comes up with a storyline for PCP hat has them going head to head with a big rival. Slowly, Takagi comes up with a brilliant plot for the climax. As PCP begins their story arc, it drops a few places but this is a gamble they are willing to take. Takagi still has doubts of the ending that PCP emerges victorious. It feels not enough. Even so, he still has time to change his storyboard. One day, Iwase confronts Takagi. She heard about his conditions but vows her manga won’t lose. If PCP gets cancelled, it is their lost. She is so confident that she makes a bet that in the event if she loses, she will walk naked around the building on her hands! Takagi wonders why she is always hostile to him. Reminding her about their confrontation with Miyoshi back at his house, if he had to choose if he likes or hates her, he would choose the former. His feelings are still the same. He likes her as a fellow human being and rival storyteller. They shake hands and he hopes this will inspire them to do their best. And so Takagi changes his storyboard. Even though the rival is beaten and offered a chance to see who they are, the rival prefers to do that when he beats them with his own skill. The arc ends when PCP tells what the final P stands for. Party.

Episode 4
It is D-Day. Will PCP sink or swim. All Ashirogi knows is that they have done their best. Hattori calls. They did it! They are in fourth place above Seigi No Mikata and +NATURAL. They only lost to CROW by 2 votes. They even get a personal call from Sasaki to congratulate them. Ashirogi is in high spirits though Hattori brings them good news that they will get a drama CD, the duo were hoping for it to be turned into an anime. But let’s not rush things. They have the privilege to select which seiyuu they want for the character on the drama CD. Guess who comes first to mind? Azuki immediately takes up the offer. Ashirogi’s assistants congratulate them. Shiratori is asking his fellow colleagues about their own series they are drawing so Mashiro advises him to draw his own and something he likes. However it seems his mom is against him being a manga artist’s assistant and even the concept of manga itself. Takagi has lots of spare time that he can come up with lots of contents for the drama CD. So free that he has time to take a look at Shiratori’s storyboard. He finds it good. Rabuta And Peace is about a boy named Rabuta who can’t trust anyone and his dog, Peace who can tell whether people are telling the truth or not. This story is based on himself and his pet dog. Hattori relays more good news that PCP will get a novel after that but he is perplexed that they are still asking for an anime. He tells them straight PCP will not get one. In addition to enormous costs and manpower, the realism of the series is the main reason why they won’t get it. They’ve got complaints from people about kids imitating them. It is appealing that’s why it could happen. However they can’t make their perfect crimes that cannot be imitated since it will lose its appeal. This will mess up their formula too. Hattori says having a popular manga is already good enough so Takagi tells him about their dream why they want an anime so bad. Hattori replies he is the calculative type. If so, he should have included in that calculation for a series to be adapted into anime from the start. Manga isn’t created with anime adaptation into mind. Takagi laments he didn’t think that far but Mashiro commends him on making PCP very popular and that is good enough. Since Hattori is here, Moriya and Shiratori take their chance to have him comment on their storyboard. Hattori views Moriya’s work as too complicated to understand. Yeah. Nobody understands him. But he likes Shiratori’s manga. Yeah. Life’s unfair. Shiratori doesn’t think he wants to submit because he had Takagi look at it and revised it 3 times. Hattori looks at the original work and thinks if this gets serialized, the story will be credit to Takagi and the artwork and idea to Shiratori. Mashiro gets worried that he is doing the story for another manga. Of course Takagi won’t accept it unless Mashiro says it is okay. With that panicky face, he says as long as it doesn’t interfere with PCP, he is okay.

Episode 5
Hattori thinks of submitting Rabuta for a one-shot. They have 20 days to the deadline to polish up everything. Shiratori goes home and his sister talks to him about his manga job. He feels the irony. A painting their grandpa bought for millions sits alone in their home alone for their own enjoyment whereas manga can be read by many anywhere with just little money. Rabuta improved so much that it is scheduled to be published in the main issue of Jack instead of Treasure it was initially supposed to (since Takagi is the author, it would be against the rules). Takagi uses a different pen name for this work but even Niizuma can figure it out it is him. More surprising news that Rabuta debuts at fifth, a spot below PCP. This alarms Takagi because his priority is PCP. Mashiro doesn’t want him to worry about him. Shiratori thinks this is a bad idea to inconvenience Takagi. He also reveals his parents are against this and want him to study abroad if he is wants to draw. Of course he wants to draw manga so Mashiro tells him not to give up because many people don’t have this chance to get serialized. While Takagi challenges himself in writing 2 stories, Mashiro challenges himself to draw faster and improve quality. Shiratori runs into more trouble. His mom insists he give up manga but he is adamant he wants to walk that path. He shows his seriousness when he runs away from home. So much so Ashirogi starts to smell something wrong. Smell, yes. Because he stinks and hasn’t had his bath for many days! He is sleeping outdoors. Ashirogi doesn’t think it’ a good idea so Miyoshi offers him to stay at her parents’ place till he can find his own. One night when Shiratori is working at Ashirogi, his family barges him to bring him back. Mommy insists he will study abroad in an art school if he wants to draw. She also runs down mangaka that they are playing so the rest jump to his defence that they aren’t. Because mommy thinks it is still better for her son to become an unpopular painter than a popular mangaka, the rest realize they can never convince her. Even the passionate Moriya gets shot down. Nobody understands him. Till Shiratori’s sister and dad stood up for him. They think he should be given a chance since they have read his work and find it good. However she warns that even if has cut ties with the family, he must not give up. Otherwise it is game over. Mommy gives in and tells him to do what he wants. Mashiro continues to learn from Shiratori on simplifying his rough sketches. Hiramaru is happy his Otter 11 anime has ended and he will be on eternal break. But Yoshida points out an event called Super Leaders Fest whereby popular authors will be publishing one-shots. So? Aoki’s Time Of Blue Leaves is doing poorly and is getting canned. He can use this excuse of getting a new serialization to get together. That did the trick. He calls her and is very happy she accepts his invitation to go out to tea. Yeah. Now get to work on that one-shot! Hattori tells Ashirogi about the fest too. Mashiro wants to do it but Hattori thinks they’ve got PCP and Rabuta. Mashiro will do it himself if it burdens Takagi. Takagi feels it would be unfair if Mashiro couldn’t participate because of him. They are Ashirogi till the very end. And so, they’re entering it.

Episode 6
Mashiro still thinks he wants to do this alone. This is to expand their horizon. He doesn’t want PCP to suffer because of this one-shot or Rabuta. Of course he is not a story man and can’t come up with a decent story. Thinking about his relationship with Azuki, he decides to do a love story. But still, the ideas aren’t coming. He can understand from a guy’s perspective but hasn’t got a clue on a girl’s view. Maybe he should ask someone? The duo take a break and head for the New Year’s party. They see Fukuda enraged because he too wants to enter the fest. Iwase, Aoki and Niizuma are the other participants in the fest. Fukuda wants Sasaki to rank them now so he will put a survey for the one-shot fest. Because Aoki and Iwase are doing love stories, Niizuma also wants to do one. Not you too Hiramaru. Oh God. Even Fukuda himself. And the other participant for the fest, Arai will also do a love story since he did love comedies before. And so this fest has become Super Leaders Love Fest. May the best love story wins. Mashiro calls Azuki to ask about the meaning of love. Realizing the one-shot he is doing, she doesn’t hesitate to describe in detail the first time she fell in love with him. It was love at first sight. While Mashiro’s love story is getting good reviews from Hattori, Takagi’s Rabuta isn’t since Peace isn’t acting like a dog anymore. He needs to rework it. Also, they will get a colour spread for their PCP’s 50th chapter to commemorate its one year anniversary. Wow. Time flies, eh? This means increase in pay and will due to the popularity of the drama CD, they’ll be getting a second one. Thanks to that, Azuki’s popularity has also shot up. However Mashiro and Takagi had a slight quarrel about the series that they are focusing. What if Rabuta becomes an anime? If they wanted an anime adaptation, what they’re doing now is strange. Takagi calls Shiratori to stay at his place so that he can observe how dogs act. For the next few days, Ashirogi did their work apart. Miyoshi wants to tell off her husband but Mashiro thinks it is fine and not to get involve. Shiratori talks to Mashiro that he wants to quit being his assistant since it might clash if Takagi is serious about this serialization. Miyoshi is shocked that she didn’t know Takagi is staying at Shiratori’s place. Mashiro tells Shiratori to let Takagi do what he wants and to worry about himself. They are going to be rivals after all. Mashiro finds himself in another block. He has this image in his head but doesn’t know how to express it through dialogue. All the one-shot participants have submitted their work except for him and Fukuda. Suddenly Takagi comes back and wants to start work with Mashiro. He reveals Rabuta’s third chapter and onwards were from Shiratori himself. Takagi was staying at his place to give him some serious training camp to make him independent. Rabuta is definitely a series by Shiratori himself. Mashiro said he could do Rabuta but he realized he wasn’t skilled enough. Now he can concentrate on PCP and the one-shot. Mashiro wants him to punch him. Miyoshi thinks Ashirogi is done for when she sees them punching each other at the park. In actual fact, they were just experiencing youth. This is what youth is all about? They were trying to cover for each other but end up wasting time and effort going in weird directions. Now back to the studio for work. In the end, Aoki won the fest. The ranking of others in descending order: Hiramaru, Arai, Ashirogi, Niizuma, Fukuda and Iwase. Well, at least Ashirogi beat Niizuma. In addition, Mashiro’s drawing speed goes up and they got to expand their horizon. Now they can fully concentrate on PCP.

Episode 7
Ashirogi receives their congratulatory award for PCP’s 50th chapter. Hiramaru tries to give excuse he won’t be doing any series for serialization since he didn’t win the fest. But will Yoshida allow it? Yeah. Aoki tea dates again… Fukuda is also not impressed with his ranking but Yuujirou has good news for him. GIRI will be adapted into anime. Ashirogi gets news of this but they aren’t as shocked as they should like before. They want to concentrate on PCP and beat CROW first. Though, they still haven’t dropped their anime dream. Ashirogi is given additional duties to be a judge since authors who are serialized for over a year will take turns with that. Takagi tells Mashiro his idea of unorthodox battle manga but hasn’t flesh out the details yet. Hiramaru gets ready to pick up lovely Aoki. He thinks she must be in cohorts with Yoshida and Yamahisa since they are supposed to meet them and encourage him to get another serialization. Hiramaru wonders if she wants to just have tea with him. Just the 2 of them. But turn off her handphone first. So when it is time for their editors to meet, Yamahisa couldn’t get through Aoki. Yoshida smells something fishy and calls Hiramaru but can’t get through. Then he realizes he has played them out. Worse, they think he has kidnapped Aoki! Yamahisa doesn’t really see what all the big fuss is if Hiramaru marries Aoki. Yoshida knows he is the kind of man that will never draw and will push all the work to Aoki! Yoshida even has a GPS tracer on Hiramaru’s car! You can’t escape this guy! He thinks he has caught up to him but is shocked to see Fukuda and his assistant. Seems Hiramaru has outsmarted him. He paid them to drive around today and bought a new car! Wow. Hiramaru is so different today. Fukuda calls Ashirogi about the situation. But where can they be now? They think they might be at some café based on their series in the one-shot. Yoshida fears there will be double suicide if Aoki turns him down since both their serializations just ended. Ashirogi is in a dilemma because they feel they want to root for Hiramaru. At the café, Hiramaru is about to confess when Yoshida has found them! Hiramaru takes Aoki and run. Knowing his bike can catch up to their car, he takes her on foot up the pedestrian bridge. Hiramaru is tired of being a mangaka and wants his rest. Yoshida admits all his sneaky plan! He didn’t even pretend to lie! Hiramaru is near breaking point about his job. The pressure and frustration he has just to meet deadlines. But Yoshida tells him because of that, he was able to meet Aoki. All those sufferings were for this day. The happiest day of his life. If he continues, he will have more days like this. Hiramaru admits it is true but wants to tell something to Aoki. Yoshida tries to stop him and warns about being rejected. Hiramaru tells him off not to use Aoki and mix up his love and work life. They hear the support of Ashirogi, Miyoshi and Fukuda. They’re cheering on Hiramaru. Hiramaru becomes a man and asks Aoki to go out with him. Since she had so much fun, she agrees. Yeah. Happy ending. Now this will spur him to do a better manga. Hattori lets Ashirogi judge the finalists for Treasure. There is one applicant who is going to be a ‘problem’. His work is so good that he may get serialized right now. He even sent in a full 10 chapters. Although the work is very similar to Ashirogi, it may be much better than them.

Episode 8
The Classroom of Truth is about a class suddenly finding themselves trapped in a deadly survival game. You do the wrong thing, you lose and disappear. Only the last person standing is allowed to leave. The twist, turn and unexpected nature make this a very interesting plot. Before we forget we are watching Bakuman, we are abruptly disrupted to see Ashirogi having high opinion of this work. But they note the manga content is not Jack-like. The author is Tooru Nanamine. That name rings a bell to Mashiro. He is one of their many fans and has sent many fan letters to them before. Jack’s serializing committee are going over Nanamine’s work and though they find it good, it still boils down that it is not a good content for Jack. Since he has very good potential, Sasaki appoints newbie Kosugi as his editor. Hattori talks to Ashirogi and he tells them Nanamine’s manga didn’t even get an honourable mention and remains of a finalist due to its content. He warns them that his manga is story-driven and can be a tough opponent in terms of settings. Kosugi meets Nanamine and he seems to be the very talkative and positive kid. Nanamine claims he is Ashirogi’s biggest fan and wants to meet them. He also takes his loss very well and it doesn’t put him down as he looks forward to his next work. But… Soon Jack receives lots of complain calls. Seems Nanamine has uploaded his work on the internet for feedback. Although official results aren’t out, this seems to be fishing for sympathy telling others he didn’t win first place. Kosugi apologizes to Sasaki for the blunder but he thinks they can use this as a chance since he ‘advertised’ for them. Sasaki wants to meet him. Nanamine is brought in and is repenting his actions. Realizing that now his work is useless after uploading, he has written a brand new one and wants Sasaki to take a look. Everyone is surprised the chief editor approves it as he finds it interesting. It is also a content very much for Jack. Nanamine gets his dream of meeting Ashirogi at their work place. Such an eager beaver. Such an excited fan. After Kosugi leaves for an important work, suddenly Nanamine’s character change. He becomes arrogant and cocky. He reveals everything he did was planned from the uploading and writing a new work. He knows some of the moves he made were unethical but Ashirogi is no angel themselves for they did some experiments too. Like having 2 one-shots published back to back and even getting permission for Tanto’s cancellation. Nanamine has no confidence in editors and views Kosugi as useless. He badmouths them for having no talent in story. Compared to their suggestion, he had those of thousands of people over the internet and pinpoints around 50 who gave credible opinions. Thanks to their ideas, he is able to take the short cut and get published for a one-shot. He views Ashirogi better than Niizuma because the latter doesn’t think when he draws. The ultimate revelation: The manga he writes is not his own idea but a compilation of ideas from many people over the internet. Even though it may seem like cheating, he was the one who pieced it together and thus it is his work. He vows to climb to the top of Jack.

Episode 9
Ashirogi doesn’t approve his method since it shows he isn’t pro and doesn’t have pride. But Nanamine counters that they rely on editors also show they are amateurs and have no confidence in themselves. Mashiro tells him to do what he wants but warns sooner or later he will get exposed. Ashirogi knows what he is doing is wrong but won’t tell on him. The only way is to do better than him. In the event he gets serialized, it is important they not let him overtake them. Aida is having problems of selecting a good one-shot manga for the August issue and thought of asking Nanamine. He is delighted to be selected and will do his best to do it. He will even speed up his work in addition to the one he is discussing with Kosugi. He has tons of friends who can help him out in 2 weeks. And so Nanamine gets ideas from his internet ‘friends’. To Kosugi’s surprise, his revisions are completely different from his suggestions but Nanamine is confident he made them better and if he doesn’t agree, he can show it to the other editors. If it doesn’t make the cut, he’ll give up in getting published in the one-shot. The editors find it good and praise Kosugi for having a talented genius. But he doesn’t feel good about this. Even Hattori suspects something amiss. Despite being an 18 year old, the youthfulness is missing from his story. Nanamine even refines the artwork to make it better than Classroom Truth. Meanwhile Katou becomes Ashirogi’s assistant once more as Shiratori’s replacement.

Elsewhere, Yoshida once more hatches his scheme for Hiramaru. Because Nanamine is a serious threat (their work and Aoki’s are gunning for August serialization), he plays up his relationship with Aoki to work harder. Since their relationship didn’t go anywhere after his confession, it is just the right tonic for Yoshida to get his ass moving by giving excuse he is no more than Aoki’s tea buddy. Effective. Flashback reveals when Nanamine was still in school, he read Ashirogi’s Money And Intelligence. He became thrilled with the idea and asked his father for money. He then used it to buy friends (he was always a loner) proving their theory was right. Ashirogi sees news of Nanamine over the internet again. Though they admit it is great publicity, this means he has raised the bar higher himself and must work harder to satisfy those inflated hopes. However, if successful, he can get serialized within 6 months of his first submission. As expected, Nanamine’s one-shot, Nervousness And The Farts That Come With It becomes a hit. Ashirogi give high points for his art and story. They note he works well around the one-idea concept (example: you lie, you die; you nervous, you fart) and builds and expands the story around this single simple idea. They also realize his characters aren’t well developed so if they’re going to create an unorthodox standard battle manga, they are going to build a story around the character first. Of course they need to make it with anime adaptation in mind. The editors sing praises for Nanamine as he even got the first chapter of his serialization story, A Necessity For A Meaningful College Lifestyle finished. Kosugi doesn’t seem happy as usual but what bugs Hattori the most is that this series overlaps quite a bit with PCP. Kosugi calls Nanamine and is surprised he already finished chapters 2 and 3. He wants to pay a visit to his home since if he gets serialized, this will happen very often.

Kosugi goes over his storyboard but is not satisfied with the protagonist. He suggests some changes but Nanamine says that everyone else said differently. Everyone else? Oops. Nanamine tells him the truth of his advice he got from his internet ‘friends’. Kosugi is shocked his manga isn’t original work but Nanamine insists it is. He did not steal ideas from other mangas, right? As for his artwork, he hired very good artists over the internet. That’s how he got it done so quickly. This is a big problem for Kosugi because if it becomes a hit, there will be a tussle for the money. Nanamine has told them about this and will kick them out and get new help if they come asking. If his methods are exposed, he’ll freely acknowledge it. He then labels Kosugi as useless and not good enough of him. Some of his 50 friends have experience in editing and serialized experience. So can Kosugi say his opinion is better than them? So if his chapters 2 and 3 get approved, he wants Kosugi to follow his lead. Though he won’t force him to do anything and tries to get psychological with him. Knowing Kosugi is in his first year in this business, he is under pressure to make a good impact. Otherwise he will be transferred. This method will get him good results otherwise Nanamine will go to another manga magazine company. And if that happens, Kosugi will be in trouble for letting a genius go to a competitor, right? He is hot commodity after Classroom of Truth being a hit. Kosugi has no choice but to do it his way. Yuujirou talks to Niizuma about upcoming Nanamine but he is not showing his usual enthusiasm like he always did for Ashirogi. Sure, he maybe version 2 of Ashirogi but he thinks the original one is still better. Besides, he has never seen his face. How can he? He never meets him, right? Hattori tells Ashirogi about Nanamine’s submission for August’s serialization. He is in competition with Hiramaru and Aoki. But he is worried since Nanamine’s work is very much like PCP’s setting. Ashirogi won’t lose to him and if he really does get serialized, they will take responsibility for it and crush him with PCP.

Episode 10
The committee decides Aoki and Nanamine’s work will be serialized. Hattori can tell something is wrong with Kosugi because even if Nanamine got serialized, he doesn’t look happy and he murmurs something about waking his eyes up. Meanwhile Yoshida calls Hiramaru to relay him the bad news he didn’t get serialized. Hiramaru goes into shock and thinks Aoki will soon dump him. He tries to make a call but since she is busy with her editor, she shuts her phone. He thinks it’s all over. Taking it the wrong way, huh? Hattori sees Shiratori but that kid is not sad that Rabuta And Peace has been cancelled. He finds this manga experience very exciting and wants to work on his next hit. One that will make his mom acknowledge. Hattori visits Ashirogi nearby so he asks them what is wrong with Kosugi since it is written all over his face that something is bugging him. They reluctantly tell him the underhanded tactics Nanamine is doing. Hattori is in disgust but understands the picture better why there are lots of inconsistencies. Ashirogi feels responsible for this because he was one of their fans. Takagi gets a call from Nanamine as he brags about his serialization. Takagi gets permission from Hattori to send a challenge warning that they will crush him. They will not lose to a manga that is cobbled together with mishmash of ideas. Unlike other manga artists who push their own limit, his work is without soul. Takagi vows to get his manga cancelled in 10 weeks. Since it is useless quarrelling over the phone, they’ll let their work do the talking. So Ashirogi brainstorms how they could beat Nanamine. In short, just do a better manga. Nanamine seeks the advice of his 50 internet ‘friends’. Though some of them put down Ashirogi, a couple of them want out because they know better than to go up against established manga artists. Nanamine may be panicking a little but is still confident he has lots more opinions coming in. They discuss his next course of action that includes leaving his first chapter untouched and speculating the real battle begins in the second chapter.

Hattori talks to Kosugi so he comes clean. All Hattori needed to know if Kosugi feels it is okay to let Nanamine become popular with such methods. Of course not. Hattori lets him know that an editor only needs the skill to tell whether a manga is good or not. Kosugi laments how he studied manga so much and wanted to work hand in hand with Nanamine but feels he is rejecting him. Of course he has real talent but that’s because of his youthful arrogance that young authors have. Yoshida tried to call Hiramaru but he didn’t pick up. Fearing the worse that he may have committed suicide, he rushes all the way there, incessantly ringing his bell and banging on his door. I think he was just drowning his sorrows in alcohol thinking he has been dumped by Aoki. However Yoshida tells him that Aoki personally requested him to be her assistant and that is no lie. Instantly Hiramaru revives! Like as there was no depression in the first place. So shall we get to work? Aoki’s other female assistant are friendly with Hiramaru, thinking he is very close to Aoki. I’m sure he likes that a lot. Ashirogi discusses their strategy to beat Nanamine. Because they are doing a story arc, Takagi feels of hitting him hard with their climax in their third chapter. But Mashiro wants to pit the climax in Nanamine’s second chapter. Because the greatest damage can be seen if his ranking from his first chapter drops dramatically in the next. Kosugi still gives Nanamine feedback on his manga. He knows this one will not win against Ashirogi because of the imbalance of the background in which Nanamine has no experience with and also the lack of the individual’s ability. Nanamine blames his ragtag crew for the overall imbalance but has a secret weapon. He has found a super assistant that will fix that. OMG! Is that super assistant Nakai?! He’s back?! But so much fatter…

Episode 11
Nakai is bumming around in his hometown with no work. What’s with the cranky attitude too? Till he gets a call from Nanamine to work as his super assistant. Nanamine will cover all his living expenses and even has the privilege to let him know which assistants he can’t get along so he can fire them! The only condition is that he must be better than Ashirogi and Aoki. Since Nakai still has a grudge on Aoki, he’ll gladly do it. We clearly see Nakai’s double standards treatment. With women, he is all nice but when it comes to men, he is rude. Nakai accidentally stumbles into Nanamine’s room and learn he has been getting ideas from 50 people around the internet. Nakai somewhat accepts his revolutionary idea. When Nanamine’s work debuts, it ranks in second place. Above PCP who is fourth and CROW in third. Aoki’s work got first. Kosugi warns it is not too late to change as he is cramming lots of ideas and making it hard for readers to understand. However Nanamine won’t be cowed by the ranking. He somewhat blames the readers for not understanding and will lower his story so they can understand. He will not hear more from Kosugi and tells him to leave. Ashirogi sees the draft for next week’s Jack’s issue and notice the ramp up in art quality for Nanamine’s second chapter. Mashiro feels the art is somewhat familiar. Next week’s results come out. Nanamine maintains second as well as PCP in fourth while Aoki drops to seventh. Nakai is happy that there is a considerable rank gap with their work and Aoki. Ashirogi is depressed because they failed to beat Nanamine with their climax. Getting him cancelled in 10 weeks seems tougher now. However Nanamine’s third chapter drops like a rock to ninth place. Kosugi advises because his plot is so similar to PCP, many of those who read felt PCP is better. He still won’t listen to his editor but looks like he is starting to panic. Seeking advice from his ‘friends’, each give their own opinion resulting in some in-fighting and some start feeling this was a bad idea so Nanamine tells those against him to leave. Next week, his work continues to drop to 13th. Kosugi’s advice about simplifying his story continues to fall on deaf ears. At this time, many of his ‘friends’ are blaming Nanamine for not including their ideas and thus resulting in the drop. Guess what? Those who do not agree can leave. How many ‘friends’ has he got left? One of them has the idea of copying Ashirogi’s work and to do that, send in a spy.

Nakai visits the park outside Aoki’s home. Brings in lots of memories, eh? At least he still has a little conscious. Then he sees Aoki being driven home in Hiramaru’s sports car. They even do a pinky swear that Hiramaru will get serialized. Shocking? So why is Nakai holing himself up in his room acting all so depressed? I thought he was through with her? Apparently not. Nanamine’s work sinks to 15th and he is desperate enough to call Ashirogi to compete with the same story to see who is better. But they know better than to fall for his provocation because it will be a problem if 2 very similar stories pop up in Jack. They will work steadily on PCP like they always have. Nanamine is close to pushing the panic button. I think he already did. Aida and Miura see comments in the forum about Nanamine getting ideas from 50 people. They confirm this with Kosugi and are shocked he kept quiet. This could be a problem because they have credited the story as a single author. Kosugi hands over his transfer request but Aida puts it away. Since he is holding that request out, Kosugi hopes he could do the same not to tell on Nanamine’s tactic in the committee to get him cancelled. He knows Nanamine is talented and can do it by his own but is being manipulated by others and destroying his own manga. Even if he gets cancelled, he wants to build a proper editor-author relationship with him. He will take full responsibility. Meanwhile Yoshida relays to good news to Hiramaru that his next work is going to be serialized. By why the sad face? He can be with Aoki, right? Ah… Remembering all those hellish hard work moments… Kosugi visits Nanamine but sees him breaking down. Seems his ‘friends’ are backstabbing him because he didn’t use their ideas, they posted logs of their chats as revenge. Since his work is 15th in the preliminary rankings, Nanamine snaps and gets desperate. He wants Kosugi to steal Ashirogi’s storyboard. Kosugi realizes he is not reflecting and is only thinking of beating Ashirogi. So is Kosugi abandoning him? He makes a surprise visit to Ashirogi to plead them to do a same story as Nanamine and will take responsibility. He tells what is going on and laments he doesn’t realize his method is wrong and has no future. Kosugi has called Sasaki and Hattori and they gave him approval. Hattori is most supportive because he wants Ashirogi to show Nanamine their difference. They agree to do it.

Episode 12
Nanamine sounds somewhat relived that he’ll make a comeback after hearing Kosugi has convinced Ashirogi to do the same story. Looks like he hasn’t reflected. Takagi explains why PCP will be better because in Nanamine’s case it is too many cooks spoil the broth. He is sure that with many people giving ideas, some ideas won’t be used and they will feel bitter of being left out. Eventually they will leave. It is already beginning to show in Nanamine’s manga that there is a steady decline. Nakai fears that if Nanamine’s manga gets cancelled, his luxurious life will be ruined and feels he needs to do something about those storytellers to come up with a better story. So one fateful night, Nakai purposely jams the copier machine so that when Nanamine goes to fix it, Nakai will hijack his computer and tell those ‘friends’ to come up with a better story. However it backfired when they learn the truth that Nanamine has been lying about the rankings and they all quit. Nobody’s around. And Nakai got busted. Kosugi relays the bad news that they dropped even further to 19th while PCP is in third. Nanamine goes crazy. He admits he has lost. He also lost his motivation to carry on and wants to cut his losses and seen as a pathetic loser. Kosugi is adamant to continue despite knowing they are candidates to be cancelled. Nanamine doesn’t care and badmouths he will make his work worst. Still, Kosugi believes that they should fight to the end. Because Nanamine takes it lightly about those manga artists who try so hard and never got serialized (thinking his withdrawal will open an extra spot and ‘bail’ one of them out), Kosugi punches him! Although he hates him, he admired his way of attaining victory, though his methods are questionable. He wants to work with him till the end. Nanamine did The Classroom of Truth by himself because he had so much free time then. That is what Kosugi is here for as his editor. To give advice and help him out. He won’t leave till he agrees as promised that he’ll work with him. He’s serious. And so Kosugi stays (and falls asleep) so Nanamine thought he would wait till the right time to ditch this guy. But remembering those spiteful words from his ‘friends’, he changes his mind. Next morning, Kosugi thought he had fled. But he just went to get a cup of coffee and has finished his storyboard. He will work on his own from now on till the series gets cancelled.

Ashirogi attends the New Year’s party. They see Iwase still the same (pestering Miura she still wants to do a romance story), Fukuda is happy GIRI is getting an anime adaption, even Takahama’s Seigi No Mikata is getting a TV drama adaptation. They finally meet Nanamine face to face. His manga eventually got cancelled but he admits he has completely lost to them. Now he and Kosugi are working on a new one and he vows to beat them. Ashirogi promises to stay top of their game so he has a clear goal. Ashirogi is supposed to attend a reunion with their old school friends but Miyoshi came down with a flu so Mashiro only went. Everyone praise Mashiro for being a famous manga artist and love his work. Mashiro feels he couldn’t fit in despite everyone being nice. Though everyone had an after party, Mashiro leaves to complete his manuscript. He bumps into Takagi along the way. I guess he couldn’t make it to the party. Mashiro tells him he realized how they are different from everyone. It is not that he regrets having a different normal life, he is who he is now because he didn’t choose that path and thinks it is time well spent. They have poured their youth into this dream of theirs which they are still trying to achieve. It’s a long road ahead, that’s why they can’t hang out with everyone else. When they return, they see a news report on a bank robbery. What has it got to do with them? Because the crime seems to mimic PCP and the police officer is blaming this manga as encouraging committing perfect crimes. Big trouble is brewing…

Episode 13
Even if Mashiro stays strong, can Takagi remain the same because he is the one who writes the stories. Sasaki and Hattori meet to discuss if they should tell Ashirogi what is happening. Hattori assures Ashirogi will be alright. Bringing this up would only show they are nervous about this and if they do bring it up, just laugh it off. However, their mental state must be considered above all else. Hattori meets Ashirogi and tells them to continue as usual. He has told them that they have received protest calls before but it was brushed off and now it is a popular manga. Also, it was once stated that PCP wasn’t intended to promote crime but to enjoy their schemes, strategies and tricks devised. However Mashiro and Hattori can tell Takagi is affected by the incident because his subsequent stories lack the oomph. They will let this continue and see how this goes and if this downward trend continues, they’ll think about it. We take a side distraction for a while as we see Nakai trying to sell his drawings in the streets. Fukuda recognizes him and wants him to be his assistant to make a fresh start as his manga will be adapted into anime. However he rejects him and wants to be left alone. So be it. But why does this guy have to be drunk outside Aoki’s house and yelling for her to come out? She is in the midst of a phone conversation with Hiramaru when this happened. So Hiramaru rushes over to protect Aoki. I don’t know if he is trying to be some hero because he is dressed in Bruce Lee’s trademark yellow jumper suit! This is going to get ugly. Skinny Bruce Lee guy gets owned in one punch by fatty sumo guy. Big joke. Hiramaru tells him off it is his own fault to blame because he wasn’t dedicated enough. He shouldn’t take it out on Aoki and will be his punching bag. But Aoki intervenes and says to hit her instead because that is what he is here for. Nakai breaks down, thinking his entire life he staked on manga is over. He lost everything and had nothing left. Hiramaru sympathizes with him and knows how he feels. He offers him to be his assistant. I get this feeling he wants to dump all the work on him. Before you know it, they become great friends and Nakai becomes his assistant. Big guy takes up the entire bed so skinny guy sleeps on the floor… Big joke…

PCP is sliding down the ranks and in double digits. Hattori and Mashiro tell him straight the change in his script is affecting PCP him unconsciously so Takagi agrees to revise them and write something people won’t imitate. He asks Miyoshi’s opinion if they had a kid and he imitated PCP, would they agree with it? She is confident she’ll raise their kid to decide themselves what is okay to be imitated or not. When Niizuma asks Yuujirou about CROW’s ranking and the number of votes difference between first place and second, Niizuma is eager to do something rare and get his CROW to number one spot. Yuujirou fears he is serious in invoking that claim. The one he gets to end a manga he hates if he becomes popular. Yuujirou tells this secret to Hattori. He is surprised of this arrangement. Although becoming first doesn’t necessarily mean he is the best Jack author, they fear he might use this authority to end PCP. In another meeting, Mashiro tells the truth to Takagi that his story is not good. He points out he is just rehashing ideas of stories he rejected. It shows he is at his wits end. Takagi vows to rewrite them. Despite the looming deadline, Mashiro has faith and will wait for him. Because if he can pull all nighters for 3 straight days, he can do it too. They are Ashirogi Muto after all. However another bank robbery shocks the nation. This time the same copycat crime but it left a note it is done by PCP from Jack. The editorial department gets lots of calls and Takagi is breaking down. All he can think of is to write a better story and wants to be left alone. So crazy that Miyoshi finds him scary. He won’t answer any calls so Miyoshi had to call Mashiro about his mental state. Blaming the robber for everything, Mashiro asserts PCP would never do such a thing. Then it hit him. Mashiro runs over to Takagi’s home. The next PCP manga shows how PCP’s rival showed the real copycat criminal that doing crime is wrong. Because they don’t steal ordinary people’s things. If you break the law, you’re just a criminal. Anyone can break the law, but nobody can copy them. Readers find this week’s story or copycat criminals and rejecting crime to be very cool and amusing so PCP jumps back up the third and the incident is blown over. Many fans wrote in to express relief. Ashirogi regains their confidence and composure again. Also, CROW takes top spot for this week.

Episode 14
CROW has been taking top spot for several consecutive weeks and Ashirogi thinks he is purposely doing it so that they are motivated to do better. Miura hopes Niizuma would do something about +NATURAL too since its manga is dropping ever since the anime ended. However Niizuma bluntly points out he is not the writer and the stories are getting more boring. Hiramaru can’t breathe easy with Nakai occupying such a big space. Literally. They’re like frenemies over Aoki. With Yoshida arriving, Hiramaru thought Nakai could ask advice from him how to get a girlfriend. Yoshida has come up with a scheme. He gives super motivation to Nakai to slim down and be some super manga author that will get any babe he wants. He needs to jog 10km every day. This plan is to have Hiramaru’s negativity flowing so he’ll do better. And if he can corrupt Nakai too, it will be killing two birds with a stone. CROW continues to be number one so Yuujirou thinks he is just over thinking about Niizuma’s deal. He even tells Fukuda and co about that arrangement and speculates +NATURAL might be the one Niizuma wants to end. But Yuujirou is confident this deal won’t be brought up again since he thinks this is just to motivate Ashirogi. One day, Niizuma shocks Yuujirou by walking straight into the editorial department to see Sasaki. He already has gotten prior approval. Oh no. Is he here to exercise that right? So when Yuujirou visits Fukuda again to collect his manuscript, it is so obvious that depression is written all over his face. Fukuda can guess what is happening so Yuujirou clumsily leaves in a huff. While Iwase is having a meeting with Miura, she gets a call from Aoki to come to Fukuda’s place to discuss the possible ending of +NATURAL. Hiramaru lights up because he thinks it is his manga that Niizuma wants to end! Iwase thinks this meeting is rubbish and suggests meeting Niizuma himself. He confirms he has been given the right to end a manga. However another condition is that he must be ranked first for 10 consecutive weeks. And he is already halfway there. As for the manga he wants to end… CROW! Sorry Hiramaru, it’s not yours. Does he hate this manga that is doing well? He hates it for not being able to end something the way he wants. Being a popular manga, he understands why the editors want to keep it going. That’s why he made a resolved he wants to end his manga at the height of its popularity when it is at its coolest. But it won’t end right away after 10 weeks. He’ll be given another 10 weeks to wrap up the story. But if he doesn’t achieve 10 consecutive firsts, his manga cannot end. He will continue again until he achieves that or gets cancelled. Although everyone else is not against how he wants to end it, they are against it ending it now. Because they feel it is like he is quitting while he is ahead of them. The only way is to overtake him and do better. Everyone is motivated (except Hiramaru) to knock Niizuma off their perch but Niizuma is serious they can’t win because he has been revising his manuscripts diligently not to lose to their likes. Everyone is so fired up that Niizuma says if anyone of them manages to beat him once before he finishes his final manuscript, he won’t end CROW. They’re on. That’s 7 weeks left, right?

Episode 15
With the change in conditions, Yuujirou wants Niizuma’s permission to let the others editors know so that they will motivate their authors to do better and stop the ending of CROW. Niizuma agrees since this will make it more interesting. The editors express shock about Niizuma ending Jack’s most famous manga and of course they don’t want it to end. Ashirogi discuss how to beat Niizuma. Since breaking into story arcs didn’t do them good in topping him, this time they’re going to make their unorthodox style even more unorthodox. Fukuda and Takahama are fired up to beat Niizuma but Aoki prefers to maintain her ranking. The one who has got it tough is of course Hiramaru. I suppose he has got to do the impossible again with Yoshida trying to brainwash him and all. Making Nakai’s negativity as a head start, he puts word in Aoki’s mouth that she will grant Hiramaru a request if that happens. And so the simple minded person is all fired up to get first place. What does he want to do? Get Aoki to call him Kazu-tan. Seriously. That is what he wants? Ashirogi decides to introduce a new character that is neither friend nor foe as their bet against Niizuma. CROW continues to take top spot although GIRI has introduced a new character too, Hiramaru’s art changed and Takahama has done more research for his court cases. The official results have CROW still in first place while PCP is at fourth despite the new character introduction. However the vote difference is shrinking because there are split votes from CROW’s votes and thus decreasing the gap.

The topic of which manga will knock CROW off its top is also a hot discussion among the editors and their favourites is Seigi No Mikata since the final chapter will have a shocking plot twist and overturned verdict. Also, he will get a front cover feature. Hattori vouches for Ashirogi and manages to get a centre colour spread after Fukuda’s front cover spread. Ashirogi wonders if they are in Niizuma’s way of ending his manga because CROW has been in first place for over 10 weeks and originally this is already enough for him to start his final chapter. Hattori mentions that when Niizuma was told of this, he is glad everyone is getting more votes since everyone is motivated. If he can continue to get first place in this situation, he will end this in the coolest possible way. On the week Takahama places his bet on Seigi No Mikata to topple CROW, it ended in second place. CROW still flies high. But he is happy because this is the first time in his life he got second. Fukuda is also glad it turned out this way because now it is his turn to overthrow CROW. And what will be the results? Second. Disappointed? Looks like he has put the champagne on hold. Now it all boils down to Ashirogi. Mashiro wants to do something different for the centre spread and something PCP-like. Takagi is at his wits end trying to come up with an idea. Till Miyoshi saw the rainbow and suggested to put in some code, Takagi hit an idea about time. Ashirogi draw the centre spread and show it to Hattori. They know their plan is going well since he didn’t sense anything amiss. When Hattori comes over to collect their manuscript, he realizes he has been had by the centre spread’s trick and commends them for a job well done of using the colour page to their advantage. Now all that’s left is to wait for the official results.

Episode 16
Yuujirou realizes Niizuma is trying to give his readers the perfect ending and decides to support him to end CROW. He tells this to the other editors because he wants to see this historic moment that they don’t often get to see. We get a glimpse of Ashirogi’s superb story using the colour spread (since I’m not a brainy person, I guess there are some hints that I didn’t understand). Even the editors and authors are impressed with this. On the day in which the early results come out, PCP is tied with second place with GIRI. CROW is still top but the difference is only 17 votes. At this rate, they know CROW will be on its way to its final chapter. Ashirogi naturally feels down that their final bet still wasn’t good enough despite Miyoshi trying to cheer them up this is their best result and they’ve narrowed the gap from over 100. Ashirogi are thankful because of Niizuma, they get to go this far and become one of the greatest manga authors. Though they are sad they never bested CROW despite Niizuma agreeing to their terms to wait for them to catch up. And now, it will end not by cancellation but a perfect ending. Yuujirou thanks Niizuma for being able to work with him and thinks he will have more free time with CROW’s ending although he still has +NATURAL to work on. He realizes Niizuma working on a new manga creating heroes based on elements of the periodic table. He has written several chapters of it when he had free time between CROW and +NATURAL! Niizuma shows him a room filled with other manga works of his that he has never read! All of them are as good as CROW or even better! How good is this kid?! Fukuda calls Niizuma to personally congratulate him on his last chapter since he forgot to write his comment in Jack’s congratulatory comments page. He sees Ashirogi’s comment of thanking him for answering their final challenge. He surprises Ashirogi by heading to their work place himself just to thank them (he also personally went to other authors’ home to thank them). Because of them, he was fired up and able to make it even better. Ashirogi admits they have lost to CROW but their battle isn’t over yet. Certainly it isn’t. When the other authors declared they won’t let him end CROW, he was happy because they put their pride on the line and competed with all they had. That is what a true rival and friend is. The true battle of men. Before he came to Tokyo, he was always drawing manga alone. Now he is not. And that makes him very happy. Niizuma lets them know that he is working on his next manga and won’t let Ashirogi beat them. Because it is not only going to be the best manga in Jack, but the best manga ever written.

Episode 17
CROW has officially ended and everyone thinks it was cool although they wanted it to continue forever. However trouble is brewing for Iwase. She is depressed. Her manga is struggling and if not for Niizuma’s artwork, it would’ve been cancelled long ago. Even hearing comments from ordinary people how this week’s episode is boring really got to her. She tried calling Aoki but realizes she is with Hiramaru and doesn’t want to bother. While Ashirogi discusses their best and favourite manga with their assistants, Takagi gets a call from Aoki. She feels something is wrong with Iwase. It has been a week since she has locked herself up in her room and not answering Miura. She thought she called Takagi thinking he is the closest person to Iwase. The problem? She heard she wants to stop writing. Takagi wants to go encourage her but I guess their relationship makes it complicating so Mashiro goes instead. After managing to get her attention, outside the door he tells her to quit if she wants to but through proper procedures. He also mentions Takagi is grateful for being his rival and it gave him motivation and them to improve. Of course they don’t want her to quit but the final decision rests in her hands. When Mashiro requests just to take a look at her to see if she’s alright, she opens the door and is surprised the entire gang outside. Aoki apologizes for not realizing her feelings while Takagi says he already lost his strongest rival in CROW and doesn’t want to lose his greatest author rival. This gives Iwase lots of motivation so she is back to her stuck up attitude that she will defeat them by herself. I guess she won’t be joining Team Fukuda. Meanwhile Sasaki and Heishi are being called by the executives. The editors are abuzz that they are going to be replaced which means one of them will get promoted. Turns out Sasaki will transfer to another department that handles Hisshou Jack while Heishi takes over his place as chief editor for Weekly Shonen Jack. Good news for Aida because he is promoted to vice chief editor while Yuujirou becomes the team leader.

Before Sasaki transfers out, he arranges to meet all the authors in Jack. He starts out with Niizuma. When he first met him, he thought he was just a brat but after seeing his achievement in CROW, he can rest easily that he has established himself as a prominent author of Jack. Of course Niizuma doesn’t feel he is the best in the world and this is his next goal. Next, Sasaki visits Ashirogi and they think he is here to reprimand them after all the trouble they have brought. Better apologize. To their surprise, he apologizes. He thinks back about the time he was Tarou’s editor and they talked about Mashiro who was still an elementary kid. Tarou knew he had lots of manga talent and hoped Sasaki would take care of him if he becomes a professional. So when Ashirogi first came under Hattori’s wing, he was surprised and pleased. He admits all the conditions he brought upon them were too strict but they turned those restrictions right back at him. Ashirogi thanks him it is because of that they are able to improve. Sasaki also admits because they are related to Tarou, he would’ve treated them differently in a not so nice way. But that’s all over seeing they are prolific authors of Jack. Shifting the topic to Niizuma, Sasaki feels that they are the only ones who can surpass him. Although it might sound like favouritism but Ashirogi will prove that it won’t be like that. Sasaki reveals Niizuma told him he has already created his new manga and will release it before Sasaki’s transfer. Ashirogi thinks up of a new character. They come up with a high school good bequeath with demonic powers who can enforce his thoughts on others. He thinks his ideals are justice and brainwashing people is the right thing to do. Something like a dark hero. Meanwhile Niizuma has created his own dark hero in the form of a zombie! Yuujirou reads his storyboard and finds the intensity in the simple story and has human drama that CROW lacks. This might be the best manga in the world. Mashiro gets an idea from his past manga, The World Is Money And Intelligence to create another protagonist. Because of their unorthodox ways that can never beat mainstream, he wants to introduce a new mainstream character of justice. There will be 2 main characters. Another is a young man using his demonic powers for good. With this justice mix, it’s like turning their unorthodox into standard battle manga. A battle of ideals in which true justice wins in the end. After coming this far, they are fired up to do a standard battle manga their style.

Episode 18
The editors find the one-shot submission of Ashirogi’s Reversi and Niizuma’s Zombie Gun very interesting. Better than their previous or current work. They’ve even have a hard time debating which one is better. Mashiro gets mail from Azuki that she has landed a major role in an anime adapted from a popular football manga of another magazine. Zombie Gun is released first and the results are mind blowing. It broke the record of any one-shot series with 692 votes. Enough to call for its serialization. But why isn’t Niizuma happy about it? Reversi’s turn is next week and guess what? For the first time in their lives, it got top spot with 694 votes! Another record breaking feat! Congratulations Ashirogi! PCP is in fourth. For once, Niizuma is gloomy. Because of that, he wants to put his Zombie Gun serialization on hold and this puts Yuujirou in a spot. Hattori has vouched for Ashirogi to get a serialization for Reversi and they already have done a storyboard for it. Hattori and Yuujirou get into a little argument because Yuujirou as the team leader is putting Niizuma’s manga first since he is the main stay of Jack. It might look bias since he is his editor. Also, won’t it be a burden if Ashirogi does 2 mangas? Heishi seeks Sasaki’s advice but was told the decision is his to make. It is decided that Reversi will be serialized in Hisshou since it is monthly and would be less taxing on Ashirogi. Of course this means they would be getting a new editor for Reversi from Hisshou. Hattori looks sad. Later he drowns his sorrows with Yuujirou at the bar. He wanted to be Reversi’s editor since he has known Ashirogi for a long time. But they can’t do anything since they’re at the bottom of the pecking order. Niizuma learns of this and admits his rival is not the world but Ashirogi. Noting that Reversi is Zombie Gun’s rival and better than PCP.

Ashirogi is brought to meet Nakano who will be their editor for Reversi. At the same time, Heishi and the other editors are in the midst of discussing of new series to serialize. None are particularly good and they want to hammer out Zombie Gun. Till Yuujirou suggests doing Reversi. His point is, put Reversi in Jack while transfer PCP to Hisshou. Because Hisshou has a broader readership and can cover greater range of material, with Reversi as weekly, it allows them to bring out more potential. Also, it allows Reversi to battle directly with Zombie Gun. Heishi calls Hattori and Ashirogi over to seek their opinion. At first they are reluctant but Yuujirou asks them if this is what they really want. So the trio give their earnest opinion that they want Reversi in Jack. And so it is decided. Sasaki congratulates Heishi for doing a fine job as the new chief editor and Hattori thanks Yuujirou for helping out. They renew their rivalry that their authors will be the better one. Niizuma also gets his motivation back and is going full steam ahead. As Ashirogi has picked up 2 mangas, they need to have an additional assistant. Ogawa is returning to them since one of his works is ending. Though this studio might seem small, Mashiro doesn’t want to move out and plans on buying this place from his grandpa. Back home, grandpa asks if he is still going out with Azuki. Since he still is, he gives him Taro’s diary that lists down his feelings for his love. Read it and he’ll find it interesting. So Mashiro goes over his uncle’s diary on all kinds of things he thought about. It wasn’t just his imagination, it was what he was trying to do. Mashiro realizes the entry ends about the time he received a letter stating the girl he loved is about to marry someone else. He also realizes the things his uncle couldn’t do and wanted to do. He will do them and become the main stay of Jack.

Episode 19
With their new manga and switch coming up, Ashirogi has got lots of pages to complete before the deadline. It’s going to be tight but Mashiro is confident he can pull it off. With Ogawa back, he sees the schedule and finds it will be tough on the assistants. Mashiro requests them to stay overtime and though Ogawa is troubled because he has other plans (he also works for an assistant for another manga artist), the other assistants are okay with it. Ogawa is made the chief to manage the assistants. However Ogawa notices Mashiro is lagging due to his redrawing of scenes and characters. He is worried that at this rate things will be delayed and true enough he is starting to fall behind. Mashiro is still confident he can do it. If it goes down the wire, he will work through without sleep. The other assistants also work late with him while Ogawa leaves. He returns next morning and is shocked that everyone stayed awake all through the night and are still continuing to draw. Even so, the deadline is tomorrow and even if they make it, there is not enough time for Reversi. Except for Ogawa, everybody is now a zombie pulling all-nighters to get it done. He surprises everyone when he returns with 2 more skilled assistants. He was using his time off to look for them to help out. Ogawa will also come straight here once his other job finishes. Thanks to everybody’s hard efforts, they made it and Hattori is pleased with their quality as well. Hattori shows them a sample of Zombie Gun’s debut. Seems Niizuma has done double protagonists in the form of twins. The result of his debut earns him first place raking in 767 votes. But Niizuma doesn’t seem pleased. He is reading Reversi’s sample debut. And when it comes out, it takes first place!!! Though they garnered only 526 votes. At least they beat Niizuma. Now the real challenge begins. For 3 weeks in a row, Reversi occupies top spot! Is this the start of good things to come? Don’t rest on your laurels yet because something feels wrong. I know hard work after all these years paid off but we’re talking about Niizuma here. It’s like being number 1 for 3 straight weeks against the genius feels too easy. So easy that it’s not right. More good news when Miyoshi shows the guys of Azuki’s front cover debut of another manga magazine due to the popularity of her anime character. Mashiro didn’t even know it. Well, he was busy, right?

First signs of worry start when Hattori rushes over to Ashirogi to show them next week’s sample print. Niizuma has killed off the main antagonist and replaced him with another. And he does it like as if it was nothing. Although there were no complaints, he still did it. All to snatch top spot because he realized his antagonist was weaker than Reversi’s. Soon, Reversi drops to third place (GIRI overtook them in second). But why the huge margin in votes? Mashiro realizes Reversi’s weakness when Niizuma swapped rivals. Because they use double protagonist, they can’t swap out enemies if they become unpopular like in what many standard battle manga does. Takagi continues to work on his story but Reversi slides to fifth. They can’t change the setting or characters yet as it’s too early. Mashiro lets Hattori read a future chapter. Just like Mashiro, he thinks the story feels thin since the story progressed too quickly and this chapter is too slow. It proves Takagi’s specialty is in psychological warfare and tactics. Takagi remembers Hattori telling them to make a manga that is the mainstay for Jack but Mashiro disagrees on one of his point. He never said he wanted a manga to be long running. As long as it’s good, he doesn’t mind ending it earlier than Zombie Gun. A manga that runs through all its content at once is fine. So it’s not how long a manga runs but the quality of their work. The reason why they wanted to do Reversi as a weekly series was because they wanted to become number one. So they should aim for the top, dash forward and come up with the best possible ending. If it means the manga will be short, so be it. Mashiro listens to Azuki’s radio programme but was interrupted by a call from Takagi. Nice timing, buddy. He wants to talk about the length of Reversi. He already has decided how the protagonists’ conflict will end. If he is going to make it interesting at full steam, it probably would last a year and the most 2 years. Mashiro agrees with him and is okay with whatever he writes because he is the author. Just write what he thinks is interesting and end the way he wants it. It may be short but if it’s a masterpiece, people will acknowledge it. He knows he can do it and leaves it in his hands for his and Azuki’s sake.

Episode 20
Ashirogi lets Hattori know their intentions they want to work on a satisfying manga rather than a long one. Which means, a climaxing fight all in one go. Hattori agrees since he doesn’t want the series to become boring if they’re forced to prolong it. Also, Reversi have regained top spot. We take a little detour as we see Yoshida telling Hiramaru the good news his series is getting animated. So happy he wants to propose to Aoki. Hold your horses. Yoshida advises this is not a good time. Because Aoki’s series just got cancelled, doing so may backfire. So put his proposal on hold after she has think up of a new series. Hiramaru is devastated and calls Aoki to ask her out to the amusement park. Knowing he wants to cheer her up, she agrees. Yoshida knows about this and thinks too much about it. He fears Hiramaru will be rejected and fall into depression, thus he won’t be able to work anymore. However he thinks about himself. Hiramaru has always delivered the goods. What has he done for him? Yoshida returns back to ask how much Hiramaru loves Aoki. So much that he wants to marry her right now. So it’s decided. Yoshida will support Hiramaru all the way and on that date, he will propose to her! Aoki sure had fun but I’m too sure about Hiramaru who is just feeling sick after all the rides and scare. Before the park closes, he is supposed to propose to her in the Ferris Wheel. He is nervous but when the moment comes, he realizes he lost his ring! The ride ends without him saying anything and he’s just depressed. When Aoki spots Yoshida spying on them, she understands the big picture. She requests to go on the ride again. She even cheers him on to say it! Hiramaru is nervous and fumbles his lines at first but manages to propose to her. She accepts. He is so happy that he rushed to hug his love advisor who is equally as happy as him.

Ashirogi is told about Hiramaru and Aoki’s engagement since it’s the talk of the department. But they have another talk going around. It’s the volume sales between Reversi and Zombie Gun. CROW achieved 1.5 million copies and it’s just a small figure to Niizuma. Reversi and Zombie Gun are flying off the shelves that a reprint is needed. Ashirogi thought having 2 reprints in 10 days of 380,000 copies is totally cool, way faster than TRAP or PCP. However their joy is subdued when they learn Zombie Gun’s reprint stands at 900,000 more copies! Hattori discuses the survey results of Reversi. The average reader age is higher than Zombie Gun. Also, females are not fond of it since it has too much dialogue and perhaps not easy to understand. Mashiro thinks of introducing a mascot character and put in some relaxing chapters in between so others can easily pick it up. Although Reversi outranks Zombie Gun, they are selling less than Zombie Gun because of Niizuma’s name. His name has become a mainstay in Jack and those who do not buy the magazine will buy his manga due to it. Mashiro thinks back of all the things Niizuma said to them and feels they have failed to live up to his expectations. Ashirogi and their assistants attend the Tezuka-Akatsuka Double Prize party in which Niizuma is one of the judges. Katou introduces her friend, Ririka Kitami who is a rookie voice actress. She asks if Mashiro has a girlfriend. They are surprised to know it is Azuki. Ririka feels unmotivated. I guess she got the hint she’s got no chance. Ashirogi sees Niizuma being surrounded by many people. There are anime companies fighting over him to get the rights to get Zombie Gun animated. That’s how good this guy is. Can they even surpass him? Niizuma is happy to see Ashirogi again and praises Reversi for being very good. Though, he vows to go higher than them in the rankings and beat them in number of copies sold. This gives Ashirogi motivation to do their weekly story better. They are then approached by a guy who hands them his name card. He is from an anime company. Is their dream finally coming true?

Episode 21
Although Ashirogi is excited that Reversi may become adapted, Mashiro doesn’t want Miyoshi to let Azuki know first. Takagi decides to take Mashiro to the hotspring with Miyoshi for New Year’s Day since this is the only time he gets to rest. Won’t he be intruding? Takagi calls it a company trip. While the hotspring feels good, Miyoshi becomes the boss because she’s drunk. Don’t ever turn her down. The guys discuss it has been a freaking long 9.5 years since they went on this adventure and all that nostalgia just seemed like yesterday. Time flies, huh? Meeting Takagi was the luckiest thing that happened to Mashiro and he hopes they can keep going and fulfil his dream of marrying Azuki. So back from the hotspring, Ashirogi is ever more motivated to continue their work. Their sales continue to increase too. Meanwhile Heishi is in discussion with Aida and another director. Since CROW will be ending its run by fall, they need to decide either Zombie Gun or Reversi to fill that slot. They have their reasons why both animes should get it so Heishi tells them to go ask their editors first. Aida tells Hattori about this and though he is happy, he starts thinking if it’s the right thing. Because although CROW ran for almost 7 years, at the rate Ashirogi is writing Reversi, it will end before the anime starts. An anime company would want to keep on producing it as long as they can so the short nature of Reversi might have them retract their offer. Since he has a hard time deciding by himself, he goes to talk to Ashirogi. He is so nervous that you can’t blame them for thinking he is here with some bad news. Of course the duo jump in absolute joy upon hearing that despite Hattori constantly reminding them nothing is decided yet. However he tells them the dilemma to at least continue their manga till the anime ends around a year. Of course Ashirogi knows this is somewhat possible. To do that, their manga quality will suffer. Are they willing to risk it? Takagi wants to take up this offer. They can’t miss this chance but Mashiro is worried that the quality will drop if they prolong it. Mashiro says by the time if the anime airs in fall, Reversi will be a year old and they should have enough material to work on. But if that’s the case, it’s best to wait till their manga end and pass it up. By then if there are any anime offers, they can take it.

Takagi still wants to take this up and promises his quality will drop. Hattori is baffled because he feels this isn’t like them. He expected them to say that they want an anime but not at the expense of their work quality. That’s when Mashiro tells Hattori about his school days promise to marry Azuki, the reason why they entered this industry. That’s why Takagi is trying to help him fulfil his dream. That’s why Mashiro doesn’t want their manga to get boring just for the sake of his personal dream. Because they can’t still decide, Hattori gives out a laugh and now understands why they are obsessed in wanting an anime. He thinks their dream is cool and will support them all the way to get an anime. Ashirogi is so happy that they are creeping Miyoshi out. Are they the guys she knows? Hattori sees Aida to say yes for the Reversi adaptation when suddenly Yuujirou barges in with many original scripts for Zombie Gun’s anime! Initially Niizuma thought it was too early for Zombie Gun to be adapted and wasn’t interested. Till he heard Yuujirou mentioning about Reversi replacing CROW’s slot. And look at how this turned out? Because Zombie Gun’s manga story will catch up quickly with the anime, there will be no problem if Niizuma draws a bunch of original stories for the anime. And they look pretty good too. And so the problem of which one to be chosen escalates and Heishi has a headache because he never told the editors they could say this to their authors. Maybe he didn’t specify clearer enough. Hattori and Yuujirou are passionately vouching for their respective authors to get the anime deal so Heishi will make his decision by the end of the day. It’s no surprise that Ashirogi turned into zombies not because they became Zombie Gun’s fans, but they learn that Zombie Gun too is in tussle to become adapted. It’s Niizuma once more they have to fight with. So unmotivated that Miyoshi feels it’s creepy. Not the guys she really knows, eh? That’s what you get for getting your hopes up when nothing is decided. Hattori rushes to see Ashirogi personally about the anime decision.

Episode 22
Looks like Reversi will be getting the anime adaptation! So happy that Mashiro could die! But don’t! How can he marry Azuki if he’s dead? Hattori tells them the reason why Heishi chose Reversi over Zombie Gun was because he believed in them becoming the future flagship of Jack. Niizuma is drawing in the dark. He must have heard the news. He gets a personal call from Heishi. He admits Ashirogi is not as good as him yet and that’s why he chose Reversi so that they can both compete and grow. Niizuma gets even more motivated to draw. Mashiro texts Azuki about this. Instead of a fast text reply, she calls him to personally congratulate him. She perfectly narrates the lines of his manga to let him know she is also working towards their dream. Because of that, she holds off any voice acting jobs for summer, baffling her boss. Takagi notes Ririka as an upcoming voice actress and goes to check out her blog. He is surprised to find that she has put up the events at the New Year’s party about meeting the Ashirogi duo although she did not mention names. Alarmed, they call Katou so that they could tell her to delete that post. This is because if her fans get wind of this and Azuki ends up with the leading role, they may be accused of favouritism. Unfortunately somebody read her blog and posted on the internet. Now the rumours have spread like wild fire. It’s even now in the papers and Jack has received lots of calls. On another meeting with Hattori, he assures they didn’t do anything wrong so there is nothing to worry. Ririka and her manager apologize to Azuki and hers. Azuki’s manager is blowing his top but Azuki doesn’t want him to yell anymore. She knows Ririka is a good person and didn’t intend of this to happen.

The anime director, producer and screenplay writers see Ashirogi and Hattori to discuss about the anime. Mashiro lets them know he wants Azuki to play the leading female and admits they are dating. They are cautious that this might lead to accusations of favouritism. Nevertheless, the role will still be decided via audition and they will pick the one whom they think fits the role best. The producer and director are also split about respecting Ashirogi’s wishes. Azuki’s mom talks to her and she is surprised her daughter knew a long time about her failed relationship with Mashiro’s uncle. She will gladly cheer on her wonderful romance. Azuki prepares herself for her radio programme and her boss vehemently wants her to deny the relationship. When she goes on air, she does not follow the script and went on talking about dreams. She admits she is in a relationship with Mashiro and explains about their dream that started since middle school. She is saying all this because she doesn’t want to lie to her fans. She doesn’t want to run away either. During commercial break, surprisingly lots of people call in to express their support. Azuki continues with the programme to answer some of their phone calls. The first one is a male fan who suddenly turns against her. It is very demoralizing but Azuki puts on a brave front to continue. Some calls were less insulting but there were lots of concerns. Azuki addresses them all by telling the truth. The final caller turns out to be Mashiro. After hearing all the comments, he can’t sit there doing nothing. He tells everyone that Azuki is trying so hard and to believe in her voice. He believes she will pass the audition based on her skills alone. And Azuki’s reply is that she will pass the audition.

Episode 23
Mashiro and Azuki’s confession is all over the morning TV news. Mashiro is embarrassed when his mom and grandpa say in advance they won’t object to their marriage. Thanks to the news, Azuki’s popularity has risen and is ranked third of the most popular current voice actress. Also, Reversi has received lots of attention now. When Hattori has a meeting with the anime guys, he shocked to hear a proposal. Of course they still need to get Ashirogi’s input. The director suggests they hold a live public audition for the role of Naho in TV and internet. They will narrow it down to 20 candidates and allow people to vote who will play that role. Takagi is against it because it’s like a popularity contest and won’t be based on skill. Despite Azuki being famous, there are more hardcore fans who won’t vote for her. The director thinks this is even more necessary due to the radio broadcast. If Azuki did win the role through her skills via audition, it will only show the public it’s just a formality. Mashiro believes in Azuki and has what it takes to play Naho based on her skills alone. If the audition is based on this, he won’t mind agreeing to it. Either way, it is better than people saying she got it via connections. The night before the audition, Ashirogi is worried but still maintain their faith. Azuki’s mother cooks up lots of ‘victory’ dishes. Finishing it might be a different story. Next day Azuki leaves for the studio. Her fans are divided. Some support her while some consider her a traitor. At the back stage, the other voice actresses ignore her. The main contenders include the currently most popular voice actress, Nanba, veteran voice actresses Gouda and Nanami. Even if they trade light barb wires, they hope everyone can play fair.

So all the voice actresses have their turn on stage till it’s Azuki’s turn. She doesn’t even need to use the script. She is perfect and convincing (using a different side of her voice nobody has heard before) till what everyone believes she said a wrong line. After her turn ends, the director interrupts and makes an announcement. The line she said wasn’t wrong. Because the script was taken from Jack, it was misprinted but corrected in the compilation volume (which she based her lines on). Azuki will not be penalized since she followed the original work and those who have read the ‘wrong’ line won’t be either. Voting begins for an hour after all 20 candidates are done. Gouda heard some voice actresses badmouthing Azuki, thinking she has been given a hint by her boyfriend. That’s why there were no notes in her script copy and been told which parts to read ahead of time. Gouda tells them off that Azuki can read any page of any volume by heart and she can still perform at that level of performance. In the end, the candidate who will play Naho is… AZUKI!!! She leads by a very wide margin and second place is even blown away! No competition you could say! You don’t know who happy Azuki and Mashiro are. One step closer to their dream. When Azuki returns to the backstage, all the voice actresses congratulate her and feel she deserves to play that role. There is no doubt that she won based on her skill’s strength.

Episode 24
Back to work for Ashirogi, Hattori asks them the question: Can Reversi last till October when their anime starts airing? If Takagi is to end it perfectly, it will be by early July. Since it has come to this, Hattori will try to convince his higher ups. Mashiro contacts and talks to Azuki about their dream. Later Mashiro wonders if he could borrow some money from Takagi and he would gladly lend him any amount. He needs to start thinking of a wedding gift. Heishi rejects Ashirogi’s notion to end their manga and wants Hattori to go talk with them again to extend it. Hattori expected this reaction and goes back to Ashirogi to discuss. They still maintain of wanting to end it early and Takagi doesn’t think he can come up with a better story than this. After Hattori leaves, Takagi goes after him to talk to him personally. He feels there is no reason to extend the manga just to boost the anime. They have 8 more chapters before it ends and will surpass Zombie Gun’s number of printed copies. He hopes Mashiro can be the number author in Jack when he gets married. Hattori gives the green light and will support him all the way. Heishi is not pleased that Hattori didn’t do as he was told. Hattori argues on Ashirogi’s behalf on their working style. If he doesn’t approve, he will quit the editing department. Because Torishima once told him, if editor and company are at odds, a real editor sticks by his author. Heishi also remember Torishima once told him that so he gets up and is going to deal with the rest.

Telling this to the anime guys, the director thinks this is a good idea because it gives them an idea of the entire breadth of the work while making it. They agree to this and will do the manga justice. With Ashirogi given the green light to end it, they have to really work so that their ending won’t seem half baked. They tell their assistants and though they are surprised, they can’t help feel excited. People on the streets who read Reversi are giving it good reviews. Some couldn’t believe the rate this manga is going would be its last and is going to be another story. Hattori comes to collect their final manuscript. Then he shows them their usual fan letters. Along with it is a small stack of protest letters against Azuki and Mashiro. But there is a heap of them expressing their support. The reason she won big was because she had the support of Ashirogi fans. Thanks to them, Reversi sales are at 1.02 million (Zombie Gun stands at 1.2 million). When the final chapter comes out, many are awed and then taken by surprise by its ending. Before they knew it, it has already ended. Some even get the motivation to buy the final volumes of the series. When the last volumes are released, it is sold out in a day. They have surpassed Niizuma’s total with 1.22 million copies. Takagi is happy now Mashiro can marry Azuki as number one Jack author. This is his wedding gift to him. Ashirogi later head to Jack because Heishi wants to see them after ending Reversi. They stumble upon Niizuma and they renew their rivalry they will sell more volumes than the other.

Episode 25
Production of the anime proceeds smoothly. It is only a few more hours till the first episode airs. Mashiro plans to propose to Azuki after that episode ends. He thanks Miyoshi for everything and the nickname she suggested had always encouraged him. Azuki tells her mom about her first date tomorrow after the Reversi anime. She is happy for her. Yoshida is worried about Hiramaru. He is so happy that he doesn’t have that negative influence to spur him on. Is that a bad thing? So worried about Hiramaru that he forgot that Nakai existed! So what happened to that super manga author plan? Oops. He forgot about it! Anyway, go shed 40 more kilos! Reversi the anime airs and all interested and related parties watch with much enthusiasm. After it ends, Mashiro is outside Azuki’s house to pick her up in a foreign sports car. This is part of what his uncle dreamt but never got to accomplish so he is fulfilling it for him. He drives her to her old house (her mom is still keeping it because she thought the family might move back there one day). They can still remember the important conversations they had at this spot. That’s because they weren’t many to begin with ;p. But each of them is important nevertheless. Mashiro is nervous and the words couldn’t naturally come. When Azuki says she is glad he has never changed for the past 10 years, that’s when Mashiro naturally pops the question to marry him. She wonders if he still remembers the other promise. Refresh my memory please. She kisses him and vows to always be by his side. But we won’t get to see them get married so soon because the ones walking down the aisle are Hiramaru and Aoki! Congratulations! Azuki is the one who caught the bouquet. In the aftermath, Kosugi becomes Iwase’s editor, Miura relays the good news to Takahama that Seigi No Mikata will get a movie adaptation, Shiratori continues to submit his storyboards and Nanamine continues to work hard as a manga author the honest way. PCP is also growing to be more popular and Ashirogi’s new challenge is to make a living as an author. If their new work gets serialized, Mashiro and Azuki will have their wedding ceremony. Let’s pray to that. Mashiro remembers his uncle never told him to become a manga artist. He draws manga because he wants to. A dream isn’t something that someone tells you to achieve. It’s something you fulfil on your own.

The Long And Winding Road…
There is no other better word than to describe this final season: Freaking awesome! Maybe that is even an understatement. I totally loved the first season and was even awed with the second. But the third one gets even better and better. Quite entertaining. It blows me away and it’s hats off to the producers of this anime for managing to make me interested and glued to the screen in every episode. It is rare for an anime that lacks any action to do that but for me, this is one of the better animes overall. It goes to show you don’t really need punches, kicks and any sort of real villain to make a story interesting. True to the success story in Bakuman itself, I can definitely say that this series is also a success itself. At least from my point of view.

Of course with this anime, it is definitely some sort of fairytale ending. I know it would suck big time if we didn’t get to see Ashirogi achieve their dream after 3 long seasons. If I may compare their success story to reality, Ashirogi is a very lucky two-man team. How many manga authors get to achieve their dream? Despite all the trials and tribulations they went through, they have a popular manga under their belt, have another one being animated and best of all, they get to marry the girl in the end. Sounds very much like a dream come true, no? In reality, I have a feeling that life in reality is so much tougher for manga authors. Things don’t really go your way all the time. So that’s why in comparison, Ashirogi even though is just fictional, it seems lady luck has been shining on them ever since day one. All they need to do was just persevere and everything else would fall into place.

Although it has been a decade long battle since Ashirogi started this dream, perhaps it is due to the interesting bits that kept me from seeing any difference in their age. Heck, it’s like they hardly aged at all! They look like the same high school kids now as they were back then. One thing is clearly visible now. You can really see the ink smear all over Mashiro’s right hand. Like as though it has become a permanent body mark. A good sign that he has matured and grown into a very respectable manga artist. I was wondering about the big gap between Mashiro and Azuki’s romance in this season. It’s like when they start this final season off, we get to see that they are still true to each other and are still holding on to their dream. That’s very nice and sweet. Suddenly for the rest of the season, Azuki went ‘missing’. Or rather didn’t make any significant appearances till Reversi became scheduled for an anime adaptation. Either they want to surprise us (I doubt it) or didn’t want love to get in the way of Ashirogi’s growth (which I feel it is).

Speaking of romance, it was refreshing to see that there is romance blossoming between Hiramaru and Aoki. I never would have guessed that they would really become a pair, get engaged and then finally married. That was a pleasant surprise. Hiramaru has been the butt of jokes and he is like some sort of resident joker and clown (negativity makes him one funny man). For him to get the girl in the end, that is one very big achievement. Congratulations once more. I think he deserves such happiness after being tormented for so long by Yoshida. At least this shows his editor is not completely a cold hearted person. After weighing in all the things that Hiramaru had done for him, no matter how despicable his schemes were, it’s time he did something for him back. When they reintroduced Nakai back this season, I was wondering how his role is going to play out. Too bad I feel it was just for formality, since he was part of the old gang in the previous season and since this is the final season, it is ‘not nice’ to leave all those characters out. Except for one: KOOGY! Somehow he is totally missing from this season. Good riddance. So with Nakai back in the manga industry, he didn’t make much impact after all. I believe we don’t see him and Ashirogi formally meeting. Although they were at Hiramaru and Aoki’s wedding, no signs were shown if they ever meet so we won’t really know if Mashiro really knows he is back for good. Note: Fat Nakai still looks horrible than he was before he left in the previous season.

It was also nice that they introduced a new genius talent in the name of Nanamine to challenge Ashirogi. But the duo being the more experienced and calmer veterans, they easily overcome what the genius rookie and made him fall in his own game. It was really interesting to see a potential new rival for Ashirogi but unfortunately Nanamine was only prominent for a short time in this particular arc and he could have add to the competition had not been for his own misguidance and downfall in which he brought it upon himself. When Niizuma was a runaway hit with CROW, it felt he was totally invincible. Nobody could stop this runaway train. There were even doubts if his closest rival, Ashirogi would be able to catch up. But when CROW ended, it seems that is where Niizuma doesn’t feel that invincible anymore. I guess we have been so accustomed that CROW is always number one and when it ends, people are just surprised despite it being the perfect ending. Imagine if One Piece suddenly ends. Get what I mean? Despite Zombie Gun may be better than CROW, somehow the tide turned into Ashirogi’s favour. Maybe it’s because we’re running out of episodes but seriously, after trailing Niizuma for so long, I have to say that their hard work has finally paid off with Reversi. It goes to show that Niizuma isn’t always eternally number one and there will always be someone to knock you off your perch one day. Ever since Reversi, Niizuma wasn’t as ‘mad’ as he usually would act. He is more serious and takes notice when it concerns Ashirogi. Maybe he really woke up when he lost top spot to them. Of course with Reversi the manga ending right before the anime starts, Zombie Gun has taken back top spot ever since but where is the fun when you have no rival to sit below you, right? Till the next time, as long as Niizuma and Ashirogi are competing at healthy levels, not only Jack but the manga industry will be thriving with creativity and ideas for a long time to come.

Because this season pretty much focuses on the last stretch of Ashirogi in attaining their dreams, I feel some of the other side characters don’t make a significant impact. For instance, Iwase. At the beginning, she seems like another major force and rival to Ashirogi. But after +NATURAL starts to fizzle out, so is Iwase’s screen time. We could have long forgotten about her if they had not put that little side distraction of her being depressed, her lowest point in life in this industry. And even though she is still in the industry, you don’t really feel that she is that prominent as before. Is besting Takagi still her goal? That guy already married last season so what else should be her motivation? Also, Iwase wasn’t as fiery as I remember her to be. Maybe just like Aoki, once you get to know her better, she isn’t that all bad. Fukuda also feels slightly insignificant. He’s usually seen working on his GIRI since both the manga and anime are ongoing. You won’t really hear about Team Fukuda much. Takahama is still around but not that prominent either. Shiratori more like a little distraction because after he goes off on his own and quit being Ashirogi’s assistant, you won’t hear from him again till the final scenes just to remind us of some of the characters. Ashirogi’s assistants are still their loyal assistants till the very end. Unless you want to see them pulling off a Shiratori that each one of them start their own manga. I don’t think another season would suffice. Even some of the editors too like Miura and Yamahisa are toned down since Hattori as Ashirogi’s editor takes up most of the screen time. Best editor is still Yoshida for his evil scheming plans for Hiramaru. This guy could be a politician’s secretary. Despite Sasaki being shifted to another department and Heishi taking over his position, it goes to show that even if you’re out of the picture, you are still relevant in many ways. In this type of industry, you don’t really retire.

There is one thing that I would like to give my 2 cents worth of opinion and piece of mind. It’s about this idol industry thingy. I admit that I know nothing about idols and about being obsessed fans to certain idols or celebrities (this includes knowing right down to how many strands of hair they have on their head). When Azuki made an official announcement about her relationship, many of her true fans became disappointed. To me, this is really WTF moment. I don’t know if there is some unwritten rule to say that idols cannot date, have a boyfriend/girlfriend or get married. If you are a true fan, you should be happy when your idol is in a relationship or get married because that is the happiest moment in his/her life! You should support your idol when he/she is at his/her happiest. What’s this? Idols should stay pure? Is that some sort of delusion you made up in your own sick head? Ruined whose dream you say? Come on. Idols are humans too. It is true because of the support of many, they are up there shining brightly. But let me get this straight. Idols ARE NOT YOUR PROPERTY! They do not belong to anybody or anyone but themselves. They are human too and need love. So I don’t really understand the big fuss if an idol gets married or what. I know if one day my favourite voice actress one day ties the knot, I will definitely be very happy her for. It is not a sad day. It is not Apocalypse. It is not the end of the world. It’s simple. The best way you can show your idol your love is to respect their love life and privacy. They’re entitled to that too. So for those people who start turning their backs on Azuki just because of this no brainer, I can tell to go f*ck off and you’re not really a true fan to begin with.

I remember the first season’s opening theme sounded so gay. We have no gay-sounding ones here. However it’s that drunken voice of Nano Ripe that greets us as the first opening theme for the third season, Moshimo No Hanashi. I thought it reminded me very much of her render of Sankarea’s opening theme. The first ending theme sounds like an all-girl group. That’s because Pride On Everyday is sung by Sphere. The second ending theme is rock paced, 23:40 by Hyadain featuring Base Ball Bear. Yume Sketch by JAM Project and feels like a slow rock ballad. It’s odd hearing this group whom I am accustomed in singing rock songs to sing something this slow. The animation for this second ending animation feels like nostalgia as it shows scenes from the previous seasons. Nothing to whip up your nostalgia by showing some of the important and defining moments in this series, eh?

You know this saying? Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This is what this series is trying to tell us. Ashirogi is not born genius and it took them years of hard work to get where they are now and even so, this doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels. The battle continues. Even if Niizuma was labelled to be a genius, if you really think about it, he isn’t one. Just that he came out with an idea that lots of people love. If he was a genius, he doesn’t need to put in so much effort like we see. Of course, we see him coming up with ideas so easily and drawing without thinking like as though God is transmitting all the creative juices live into his head. In reality, he comes up and draws them all on his own. That still takes quite a feat, right? So being labelled a genius is just a matter of perspective.

Although Ashirogi and the rest of the people will continue their fight, just like everything in life, one day everything has to come to an end. We just don’t know when. So it is best to keep doing what you believe and love most till you can’t go on anymore. I might love anime so much now and claim I would want to watch every anime there is produced in the world. Who knows? Tomorrow might be a different story and I could suddenly find myself losing interest and move on to other stuffs. Would life turn out to be very different for me had I not get to know anime? You bet. For better or worse, whether you are successful or not, it is important to always start out with a dream. It’s not easy making it come true but we can always dream, can we?

Kamisama Hajimemashita OVA

December 13, 2013

I almost forgot that this series too had an OVA. Kamisama Hajimemashita OVA follows the current trend of bundling special episodes with manga volumes so hardcore and borderline fans of the series could buy to add it to their collection and increase sales of DVDs which would look good in the books. Oops… Ahem. Anyway, this OVA takes place after at the end of the TV series based on the very super fast episode summary of what happened in the TV series at the start of the OVA. So what else is left for the OVA? Trying to develop further the relationship between the new shrine master Nanami and her familiar Tomoe. Can love blossom between a human and a familiar? We can only hope…

OVA 1: The Deity, Getting Dumped
Remember that long kiss at the end of the TV series? Yeah. Nanami is so happy thinking about it till she had to remember Tomoe’s words that he vows never to fall in love with a human. What a spoil sport. She sees Tomoe in a sneaky transaction with Tanuko. She hands him a black box that he requested. He is happy that with this, he doesn’t need useless Nanami anymore as he can’t stand how annoying and selfish she is. Shocking, eh? So disturbed that Nanami seems to be watching a drama of this similar situation and has no appetite for her dessert. When Mizuki accidentally finds the box, Tomoe snatches it away and hides it. Nanami is ever more suspicious to know its contents. Kurama comes by to share his crab delicacies (because he has nobody to eat them with). The guys get into an argument about drinking so Nanami suggests they hold a competition. They agree and get down to it. This is a ploy so Nanami can sneak out and find the box. She is still upset Tomoe thinks of her as such. She finds the box in the kitchen and is puzzled to find a pair of pears. Suddenly Tanuko tells her not to eat them. Seems Tomoe had requested them so she had to find the best there is. Nanami remembers she wanted to eat pear tarts but didn’t know if Tomoe was ignoring or listening to her. Then it hit her of Tomoe’s conversation with Tanuko. She misinterpreted the word ‘yonashi’ because it could both mean useless and pear. It warms Nanami’s heart to think that even though he acts cold, he still cares for her. She goes back to where the guys are but her happiness is cut short when she sees them all drunk. Tomoe is impersonating as Nanami and they’re arguing if her boobs are this big or just wearing pads!!! Tomoe accidentally touches Nanami’s boobs and then resumes the argument that she really doesn’t wear pads. Nanami blows her top.

OVA 2: The Deity, Going To The Hotspring
Nanami wants to go somewhere for the holiday. But the shrine doesn’t close for any holiday. But if they can get Mizuki to guard the shrine, they can take a day trip. Yeah. Nanami wants to go to the hotspring. Mizuki isn’t happy he is made to watch the shrine alone while Tomoe gets to be with her (Tomoe claims he needs to protect her). Mizuki argues he is spoiling her too much and if he continues this, Nanami will become a useless person. Nanami overheard this and is overcome with dramatic shock. They arrive at the hotspring area and despite only a day trip, Nanami has packed bags like as though she is staying for months. In order to prove she is useful, she declines his help to carry them and will carry all of them herself. Looks awfully heavy… Can she really handle it? At the hotel, they meet Isara and Kotarou. Nanami learns about the Koiiwa stone. Legend has it if you touch it with your partner, you will forever be together. Nanami is excited to go touch it but Tomoe is only interested in soaking in the hotspring. For once, Nanami uses her scary authority to force him to come along. Or else… Koiiwa is only a walking distance from the hotel so the quartet start their journey. While Isara and Kotarou are helping each other like the lovebirds they are, Tomoe tries to extend his helping hand to Nanami. However she still thinks that she wants to show that she is not useless and refuses any help. This gets her into all sorts of trouble like nearly slipping off the cliff. Still don’t think you need any help? Before they reach the stone, they need to climb up a steep cliff. Tomoe feels Nanami’s gear is not fit to climb and wants to turn back. However she is eager to prove she is not useless and starts climbing. She is so stubborn in not wanting to disappoint him that it is annoying Tomoe. So he jumps up and tells her to grab her hand. Because she is in a dilemma and taking too long, Tomoe slips. Instantly, Nanami releases herself to grab him. It’s just a ploy for Tomoe to have her grab his hand. He tells her even if they don’t touch the rock, he’ll always be with her. If she could do everything by herself, his existence would be meaningless. He wants her to depend on him more. Nanami feels better that despite being useless herself, whenever she is with him, the world is her oyster. To her dismay, Isara and Kotarou points out that there are stairs nearby to climb the cliff. Bummer. As the couples touch the rock, Tomoe had this feeling that it looks fake. Maybe. Because there is a statement that says it can make any dream come true. Including money and love… Fake alright… The quartet return to their hotspring and have a nice bath. The girls have a nice conversation but there is none in the guys’ side. The OVA ends on a potential with the appearance of whom I believe to be the Bloodthirsty King. He is not happy Tomoe is working for a human girl and is going to make him remember who he used to be.

Still Believe In Miracles?
Well, it is rare for an OVA to actually end with some sort of potential of a possible future plot. This should make fans and viewers discuss if there would be another OVA or a second season. As we know, although we get to know about Tomoe’s past from the TV series, it still isn’t really resolved and with Bloodthirsty King seriously coming into the picture, those carefree days are going to turn into bloody days. That’s just my speculation but back to this OVA. Despite there is seemingly no big progress in Nanami and Tomoe’s relationship and it feels more like status quo, but at least we get to see moments of them together. If not, there are deeper meanings to why Tomoe does something. It is always for Nanami’s best interest even though it might not look like it on the outside. It is true that Tomoe will always be loyal to Nanami but if she is hoping to take it to the next level of romance, she can keep dreaming. Unless by some miracle that would change Tomoe’s mind. Like I speculate the Bloodthirsty King making his move may hasten, test and push that relationship forward. So I think for now, it is better that they maintain things the way it is now instead of rushing it. Nanami is still cute when she is clueless or in shock. After all that has happened, she should at least trust and believe in Tomoe more than before. She knows him well enough on what to expect, right? Not the kind of perfect character or knight in shining armour she is hoping for but she’ll be glad to know that there will always be someone by her side. I don’t think that would be a miracle. That would be fate and destiny.

Zettai Bouei Leviathan

December 8, 2013

Dragon girls anthropomorphized as cute anime girls? Now this I got to see. Heck, it is actually because of the fantasy world that the setting is based in that got me attracted to Zettai Bouei Leviathan. Recently I am starting to like anything fantasy probably because I’ve lived too long in a mundane concrete jungle. But that is not the point. To sum up the plot of this show in one sentence: Girls forming a defence unit to protect their planet from the dangers that comes from outer space. Due to the popularity of all those Smartphone apps and the likes, this anime was released at the same time the mobile game app was. So I suppose if you really want to get the full experience of things, you watch the anime and play the game as well. Oh. There’s that downloadable content for a price… Dang.

Episode 1
Leviathan wakes up early to go magic training by the lake. Meanwhile, a strange bug collides into Bahamut while she is practising her magic before bumping into Jormungandr who is making a delivery. They try to hit the bug but can’t get it. Till the bug bumps into Leviathan that the trio ‘cooperate’ and easily take it out. Since they don’t know each other, they part ways. Leviathan does her magic while reminiscing about the brother she loved. She thought she hit something in the water. It is a little fairy named Syrup. The fairy is happy she has found her. She explains a meteorite fell on Aquafall and invaders who poured out of it caused lots of trouble. At this rate the creatures on Aquafall will become extinct and she is searching members to form Aquafall Defence. Leviathan is not interested. Although she knows about the meteorite and invaders, she says their town of Haruna is peaceful. But Syrup says that’s because it hasn’t happen yet. They should not wait until it’s too late. Leviathan won’t go anywhere when Syrup’s stomach growls. This little fairy can eat! Makes you wonder where all the bread she devoured went. Because there isn’t enough, Leviathan brings her to town. Along the way, they see the town’s leader, Rage Row addressing his underlings that their goal is to get a grasp of the situation without getting into fights. Because rumours will only fan the fire and he wants the people to receive accurate information. Somewhere in town, Olstead and his men are being told off by Bahamut about picking on a cute girl who isn’t interested in them. He feels she has insulted her when Syrup butts in thinking a fight is going to happen. She’s looking forward to it! But when she labels Olstead and co as the baddies, he can’t take the insult anymore and tries to grab her but she flies away and back to Leviathan who has just entered the bar of Dragon’s Key Tail. Master has no information about Leviathan’s brother so far. Leviathan must love her onii-chan so much that she gets worked up at the slightest badmouth or just get very emotional. Olstead and co barge in to settle their score with Syrup. He tries to get her but accidentally bumped away the dessert Jormungandr was looking forward too. Because he sees Bahamut there too, she tells him off about his bad table manners. He is up till here of her insults and tosses away her pudding, hitting Jormungandr. One of his men tries to get Syrup but Leviathan hits his hand. Since it is coming to this, everyone starts fighting. Syrup is encouraging them to fight! Master is not pleased because they’re wrecking her bar and she hasn’t paid her loan finished yet! Will they listen? Eventually the shop got destroyed and the girls wonder how they can ever show their face to Master again. They’ll never get to eat the best dishes for now. Instead of feeling down and gloomy, they introduce themselves and become friends.

Episode 2
Key Tail is being reconstructed and Master forgives what has been done. Leviathan helps with the reconstruction and works as a waitress. However she has a hard time controlling her water power since she is too busy and keeps splashing the customers. Bahamut wakes up to find Syrup sleeping next to her. What is she doing here? She’s interested in her and wants her to join Aquafall Defence. Oh, you don’t get paid but it increases your popularity. Not interested. But what if something threatens this town? Bahamut says her father Rage Row will protect her. Syrup enjoys sharing the luxurious life with Bahamut. She gets to bath with maids washing her and eats all she wants. When Bahamut’s father returns, he lets her explain herself about the destruction of Key Tail. She is sorry but he is impressed her magic improved. Later Bahamut is impressed that Syrup can eat like nobody’s business and wants to show her father. However he is busy having a meeting and will talk to her later. Little girl not happy. When it’s over, he has to go out. So Bahamut becomes sour and wanders off into the woods. She tries to shake off Syrup and ends up getting lost. She encounters several bugs and when they chase her, she starts running. Before she knows it, she gets stuck in a swamp. Quicksand rather. I’m not sure if Syrup is just playing dumb or not because she’s stating the obvious. “What are you doing here? Can’t get out? Did you scream for help?” WTF? Bahamut wants her to pull her out but obviously a little fairy doesn’t have the strength. But how come it seems Syrup isn’t seriously trying? Syrup even suggests she transforms and fly out. Why didn’t Bahamut think of that?! However her wings are still stuck so Syrup goes off to get help. Leviathan is on her way back and lamenting she ruined the bar again. She passes by Jormungandr who wants to get some food but is told the bar is not really ready to serve customers yet. Looks like she has to put her hunger on hold. Syrup chances into them and brings them to Bahamut. First, they all laugh at seeing how deep she is stuck. Jormungandr throws her axe so she can hold on to something. She almost sliced her! God thing she missed, eh? Leviathan uses her spear but they still couldn’t reach her. Syrup suggests Leviathan use her magic since she controls water and swamps are made out of water, right? Why didn’t she think of that?! A huge wave is caused to flush Bahamut out. However a big dragon emerges from beneath the swamp.

Episode 3
The dragon, Yurlungur speaks via Syrup. He says he recently swallowed something that sank into the swamp and isn’t feeling well. Thinking it’s the axe, he wants them to enter his body to take it out. Jormungandr and Bahamut are arguing why they don’t want to go in so Leviathan volunteers. I think Yurlungur has hots for her and allows it. Jormungandr decides to follow her and since Bahamut doesn’t want to be left alone, she tags along too. Inside, they can make jokes like how tasty the girls are and how ‘big’ his uvula. They slide down the slippery oesophagus and after so long, they’re feeling tired and hungry. The walls of the stomach are starting to look pretty delicious. Don’t tell me they are serious to take a bite? Gosh, they are! Yurlungur panics and goes to swallow some fruits for them to eat. Because they wish for something better to eat, Yurlungur had to fly to town and crash into Key Tail just to get their favourite beef bowl, pudding and barley tea! Don’t worry people. The dragon is not here to eat you. But there goes the bar again… After having their fill, they continue their search through all 4 of his stomachs but couldn’t find the axe. Then they see those bugs in which Syrup calls them as Toripu. They realize it is sucking Yurlungur’s nutrients and the reason he is not feeling well. The bugs attack but Jormungandr can’t do anything without her axe. Bahamut shoots her fire magic but she’s hurting Yurlungur. Leviathan decides to use her barley tea as water magic. Can so little tea kill so many bugs? Not if she turns the little droplets into sharp piercing ones with high accuracy. She destroys all of them when the big mother bug pops up. Leviathan gathers all the barley tea and slices it into half. The axe falls out of the bug. The girls exit the stomach and are tired especially Leviathan who has used much of her magic. Never want to enter the stomach again, eh? As gratitude, Yurlungur will come to their aid if they are in trouble. But he extends a special offer for Leviathan. Even if she is not in trouble, she can call him. Hint, hint. Bahamut and her father are emotionally reunited, Jormungandr has a hard time cleaning off the slime on her axe while Syrup wonders why Leviathan volunteered to enter Yurlungur’s stomach. She says it’s because she is still inexperienced with magic.

Episode 4
Leviathan wakes up wondering where her brother went and left behind his spear to her. Syrup wakes up sleeping next to Jormungandr. More precisely, she couldn’t sleep because the bed was so damn hard! More shockingly, Syrup is surprised Jormungandr didn’t question why she was sleeping next to her. Jormungandr’s loli sisters are amazed at the little fairy. They all go and make breakfast. Syrup thought it was for her. Perasan betul. Actually it is for their fathers. Wait a minute. How many fathers does Jormungandr have???!!! Doesn’t make sense… She introduces Syrup to the rest but because she can’t remember her name, everyone starts calling the fairy Syrorin, much to her dismay. The fathers soon leave for their coal mining work while the girls do domestic chores. Suddenly a loud explosion is heard from the mining cave. Looks like the walls have caved in. Fearing the worse, Jormungandr transforms and uses her axe to dig while Syrup calls Leviathan and Bahamut for assistance. Jormungandr has dug quite deep and ran out of power. Bahamut can use fire since it will ignite the mines while Leviathan’s water won’t do any good. Noticing a little gap in the rocks, the only one small enough is Syrup. They have her go through it to check on the dads. She almost got killed by their pickaxe when she reached them. At least they’re safe. Suddenly underground water starts to rush in. Better hurry or else they’ll drown. Leviathan transforms and summons the water back to where it belongs. As Syrup returns to report the status to the girls, she sees a sphere lying in the rubble. She is happy to see this because she can summon Yurlungur as they made an agreement yesterday. Suddenly a Toripu appears and wants to snatch it. Syrup flies as fast as she can back to the girls. They thought some coloured pebble peeked through the rubble so Leviathan tosses it away and breaks it. Suddenly a big portal opens and Yurlungur charges straight out and clears the tunnels like Superman. While the loli sisters are happily reunited, it seems Leviathan is unaware how she summoned Yurlungur. Everybody celebrates a feast that night courtesy of Key Tail. The oldest dad is impressed that Leviathan was able to summon a guardian. The sphere is occasionally found in the mines but because they never make any contract with any guardians, breaking them yielded no result. Jormungandr explains the truth about her fathers. She was picked up and raised by them just like her sisters and that’s why she considers them all her father. They are like family. That’s why she wants to be useful and return the favour. Syrup takes this opportunity to ask if she would like to join Aquafall Defence. Jormungandr didn’t hesitate to do so but only one problem. She still calls her Syrorin. So does everyone else. Now it’s stuck… So frustrating…

Episode 5
Leviathan dreams of her brother. With a sad face, he points to strange rock formations in the ocean. When she wakes up, she is sad that he left without saying a word. Bahamut looks forward to her vacation and has hired Jormungandr to carry all her heavy luggage. They bump into Leviathan and Syrup (as usual wanting to eat anything that Leviathan has in her hands). And for the last time Jormungandr, it’s not Syrorin! When Leviathan learns of Bahamut’s villa by the sea, she instantly claims to be her best friend and wants to tag along. Wow. I didn’t know you can make best friends this fast. Arriving at the villa, I guess Bahamut’s grandparents have not seen her for so long that they mistaken Jormungandr or Leviathan to be her. Embarrassing, eh? Not as embarrassing as the past stories they’re going to tell! When they hit the beach, Leviathan searches to the rocks she saw in her dream but to her dismay, this isn’t the place. Later she tells her friends about her brother who left and never returned. Although they agree to help her find the rocks but Bahamut knows this is not here. Since they don’t want to depress her and they’ve come all the way, why not have some fun? After all, Syrup calls this Aquafall Defence strengthening trip. Wasn’t it supposed to be just Bahamut’s vacation? They play beach volleyball, build sand castles, eat watermelon (Syrup must love this part and do some surfing. Leviathan is practising her magic by controlling the waves for Jormungandr to ride. Suddenly a mysterious boy pops up to lament Leviathan has great magic talent but is not making full use of it. Because of that slight distraction, the waves crumble. Just like he notices how each time she loses focus, things go awry. By the time she turns back, the boy is gone. After playing hard, they are hungry. Since they didn’t bring enough food, Jormungandr decides to fish and Bahamut tries her hand at it. Jormungandr catches plenty and since Bahamut hasn’t caught a single one, she will not leave till she catches something. Okay… Wait and wait and wait and wait and wait… Boring… Yawn… Still waiting… How long is this going to take? The girls really have patience, do they? Suddenly her line is tug and the fight begins. She fishes out an octopus and to her horror it clings to her breast. The rest help her pull out but guess what else got pulled off? The girls prepare to make grilled fish platter when Leviathan sees that rock formation at sea. It looks just like the one in her dream.

Episode 6
Leviathan also sees the mysterious boy who points beyond those rocks. A large bug emerges and the waves destroy their BBQ. Because of that, the girls get worked up and decide to avenge their BBQ! So sorry Syrup, it’s not for Aquafall. Jormungandr strikes first but her axe did no scratch. Bahamut is going to make this bug her BBQ replacement but how can she do so when her fire is like pea shooter? Syrup explains this bug is Lucasite, the invader that came out of the meteorite. It is responsible of letting loose Toripus. And here it all comes. The girls transform to fight off the bug menace while Syrups is thrilled to see her Aquafall Defence in action. By the time they finish every last one of them, Jormungandr has already tire out. Bahamut wanted to finish it but seeing how big Lucasite is when it approaches the shore, it made her scared and lose her powers. Leviathan tries to restrain it with her water but to no avail since she too tires out. Then she hears the voice of her brother from the spear. Guided by his voice, she throws it into its eye. Lucasite retreats back into the sea. She realizes she has lost her spear and collapses. She becomes depressed and looks like the word spear is now a taboo. Just the slight mention of it will send her into gloomy mood. Of course Bahamut can find the best blacksmith to make her spear again but Leviathan insists it has to be that one. That night, Leviathan is so depressed she can’t sleep. Bahamut feels guilty if only she had used her magic better and didn’t turn chicken. Jormungandr feels bad for Leviathan because she helped her look for her axe. Leviathan soon decides she wants to go look for it. Jormungandr will accompany her since she wants to repay her for getting her axe back. Bahamut too will tag along because they’re friends. But where will they go and look? To where the Lucasite is, the ocean, right? Jormungandr your answers are so simple. The mysterious boy pops up to tell them to head west and they’ll find Lucasite in the desert. While Bahamut and Jormungandr argue if they should trust this kid, by the time they look back, he’s already gone. So early next morning, the girls depart early. Jormungandr nicknames Bahamut as Mu-chan and Leviathan as Levi-tan. They’re friends, right? Syrup finds it funny but she is not the one who will have the last laugh. Right? Syrorin?

Episode 7
The girls are dehydrated trekking through the desert. Guess who has the power to search for water? Leviathan is about to do it but stupid Syrup had to bring up if she can use a walking stick as replacement for her staff. Just keep quiet. Leviathan summons a little puddle and each time the trio rush to drink it, it evaporates and they end up having sand in their mouth. Bahamut starts throwing tantrum like the spoilt rich brat she is, wanting to go home and eat dinner. Jormungandr thinks they should set up camp since it’s getting dark and to also look for food. Food in the desert? Yeah. All they got are critters so Bahamut is in a dilemma whether to eat them without any flavouring. To eat or not to eat… When it’s time to sleep, she can’t believe they are going to sleep right under the stars without any roof! She wants to sleep in an inn! Pipe down, girl. Either you sleep or you don’t. Leviathan wakes up from another dream. She saw her spear in some ruins. Imagine the look of disappointment on her friends when she says it was only in her dream. Oddly, the trio remember going to the springs when they were young and nearby it are some ruins. It is a place surrounded by lush greens and water flows down from the floating islands into the spring on the ground. They also remember playing with a boy (looks familiar, doesn’t he?) who either wanted them to show him their magic or strength. They had fun playing with him and he hoped they return and also to keep it a secret that they played together. But can they find the ruins in the desert? So they decide to use their weapon to point their next direction. Leaving it to luck? Since the axe and wand point back to where they came from, looks like Leviathan’s walking stick pointed them in a new direction. Bahamut says if they don’t find the spear, she’ll have to make Leviathan undergo some penalty game. An embarrassing scale dance in the middle of Haruna square where everyone will be watching. Suddenly she trips on a pillar. Syrup flies higher and points the direction of the ruins. Everyone rushes to the oasis but it turns out to be a mirage. Playing with sand again, huh? They realize this is the springs and are devastated to see the entire place in total ruin. Even the floating islands have fallen and the springs have dried up. They see an underground way and Leviathan recognizes it from her dream. Bahamut wanted to stay behind but after hearing comments how cool it is underground, she tags along. They see the spear right smack in the middle. But Leviathan is cautious. If her spear was swallowed by Lucasite, what is it doing here? Could it be a trap? Jormungandr didn’t care about that and tries to pull it out. However she is puzzled her strength couldn’t do the job. If she can’t, you think Bahamut can? When it’s Leviathan’s turn, she easily takes it out! Sword in the stone? Suddenly a Lucasite attacks her from behind.

Episode 8
Bahamut and Jormungandr transform to fend of Lucasite and all its Toripu it unleashed. They have a hard time if not for Leviathan reviving to help them out but she weakens and passes out. The mysterious boy watching feels disappointed that they can’t defeat them. When the girls open their eyes, they are in a safe passageway of a temple and were brought here by a young priestess guarding this place alone, Heqet. Before they were swamped by the enemy, Heqet opened a secret door to let them in. She explains her family has been working as this place’s guardian for generations. Since she is alone and can’t leave this place, she must stay here to protect this temple. Heqet thinks they are here to defeat the evil creatures. They are Aquafall Defence, right? At least, officially only Syrup and Jormungandr. Heqet begins explaining that this place was teeming with life until about a month ago when life was extinguished by those creatures. It became a desert. This holy place has been known since ancient times as Keystone of Aquafall but its history is unclear. When they stop to eat and drink, the girls are shocked that this is the only water left from the spring. Leviathan decides to use her magic to summon some water. Not much but it’s better than nothing. They want to leave this place but Heqet asserts she can’t. Her life is tied to the temple and since there are creatures trying to destroy it, all the more she can’t leave. They are suspicious how Leviathan’s spear suddenly appears at the altar last night. Heqet wanted to examine it but couldn’t pull it out. They also wonder who that boy was. Heqet shows them the exit before the underground becomes hot. They arrive outside at some distance from the ruins and reminisce the good times they once had playing in this area as kids. Feeling they can’t leave Heqet alone and wanting to return to fight, the boy suddenly appears, telling them they can’t defeat the creatures just because they want to. Noticing Leviathan injured, he points out the direction to Rajima Volcano where the hotspring properties can heal her. They are suspicious about him since he jokes he knows everything but doesn’t know where the Lucasite in the desert is. But Leviathan got her spear back and it’s all that matters, right? Once again, he disappears from their sight and though this makes him very suspicious, Leviathan is going to trust him and head to Rajima Volcano. They’re going to become stronger, save Heqet and return this place to how it was.

Episode 9
Bahamut starts complaining… Don’t want to walk anymore…  Don’t want to camp in the wild either… Before their eyes is an inn. Instantly Bahamut rushes over. Who is the one full of energy? The girls are greeted by the petite landlady and her servant. They enjoy the facilities but the hotspring is a letdown. Not enough water. They might catch a cold. Leviathan uses her magic to produce enough hot water for them and heal her wounds. They have a splendid meal only to be ‘ruined’ by a lame performance from landlady and her servant. WTF. Bahamut enjoys the bed and even the massage service. This is the life. Next morning when they feel so refreshed, they prepare to head to the volcano. The landlady passes the bill and it seems expensive. It’s only small change for Bahamut but she can’t find her wallet. Oh no. Can’t pay? Pay with your bodies! And so the girls are put to hard labour to spruce up the place and pay their debt’s worth. When they eat dinner with the servant, she tells them they must have noticed the declining hotspring. Because of that, customers have been dwindling and at this rate the inn will close down. The landlady’s parents died many years ago and she tries to keep this place open by doing things herself. This place holds lots of special memories for them. Syrup thinks there is a way to restore the hotspring and that is when the power of the volcano’s master weakens. Something like Yurlungur of the swamp. Bahamut throws caution that she doesn’t want to enter some giant stomach again and gives excuse that they are still in the midst of clearing of their debt. But the servant says if it’s to revive the hotspring, she is sure the landlady will understand and will give permission to leave. I guess it’s decided. On the first break of dawn, the girls begin their journey to meet the volcano’s master.

Episode 10
The landlady thought her servant had been duped and that the girls have escaped without paying. The girls are now at the crater of the volcano and the surface is pretty hardened. Syrup uses her magic to communicate with the master and it turns out to be Fire Drake… A small dragon? Actually his size is due to some illness. He needs to eat a secret medicine made from 3 herbs. Because he is sick, he can’t leave the place and this means the girls will have to split up to go get it for him. So Leviathan leaves for the icy ravines in the north to get some silver flower, Bahamut the eastern waterfall to get some moss and Jormungandr the southern lava caves to get some mushrooms. The dangers are enough to put them off but when they think about the other they won’t easily give up, they continue to work hard till they get them. Finally they all return back at the volcano with the herbs and Syrup becomes the ‘conductor’ to instruct how to mix the medicine for Fire Drake to eat. Although it cured his illness, he remains small is a sign he hasn’t got his strength back. How to regain his energy? They remember the Volcano Curry the servant gave them before they depart and let him have a bite. Instantly, Fire Drake returns to its gigantic size brimming with full power (so is the volcano). This causes the hotspring to gush out back at the inn. So while our girls soak in the hotspring as their well deserved reward, they remember Fire Drake being grateful to them and will come to their aid if they call him. But Syrup says they still need a sphere if they are to do that. Bahamut thinks all this has been for nothing but Leviathan doesn’t think so as they managed to save this place that the landlady holds dear. Next morning, the landlady gives them a necklace she found in the storehouse as gratitude. Syrup recognizes it as Stone of Evolution and is supposed to make one’s magic stronger. It absorbs into Leviathan and she could instantly feel how much powerful she has become. Syrup is excited that her magic is now drastically stronger since she has evolved and will be able to defeat the Lucasite back at the temple.

Episode 11
Jormungandr’s sisters are at the ruins looking for her. They fall into some hole, find a frog statue, fix its eyes and start collecting water that comes out from its mouth. Meanwhile our heroines have return and are faced with more Toripus. Once they have gotten rid the very last of them, now it’s the final boss Lucasite who is trying to take down the barrier. Leviathan doesn’t feel or look any different when she transforms. Though the girls cooperate to take down Lucasite, the creature is smart, dodging their attacks and making them expedite in destroying the temple. To a point whereby the barrier was gone for a while before it goes back up again. Leviathan binds Lucasite with her water as Bahamut fires her fire spell. You know what happens when fire and water mix, right? This causes Bahamut to run out of energy. Jormungandr gets knocked away as Leviathan laments her evolution. After dodging Lucasite’s attacks and protecting herself within a water bubble, suddenly she feels the evolution coming through. She transforms into a different person. Her command of the water is more powerful and traps Lucasite in a water bubble before Jormungandr finishes it off in a strike. When everything returns to normal, they head to Heqet and are surprised to see her in the company of Jormungandr’s sisters. She couldn’t understand what they’re saying since they’re all talking together. Heqet explains that before the girls return, the sisters found her collapsed and went to fetch water for her. She was able to recover and hence the barrier came back. Heqet notices Leviathan has grown stronger so Syrup points her as the rising star of Aquafall Defence. Before they part, Heqet says she doesn’t sense the evil creature anymore but the place will take some time to restore itself. She will continue to stay here and protect this place as it’s her destiny. She hopes they can return here again one day and if they do, bring as many gentlemen as they can find. I hope she’s not that lonely… On the way back, Bahamut is annoyed the sisters start asking her lots of questions. So much so it made her want to carry her own bag. So heavy that she turned pancake. The girls wonder how the sisters found Jormungandr and they say a boy told them. They then hear a voice thanking them for defeating Lucasite and they see the floating islands rising into the sky once more.

Episode 12
The girls are having a feast at Key Tail. I think Master has got to think twice about allowing them to order for seconds… Once again, Syrup calls on the girls to join Aquafall Defence. Jormungandr and her sisters agree but big sis thinks they’re too small to fight so she’ll fight on their behalf. Surprisingly Bahamut agrees to join but Leviathan not. Why is she still hesitating since she has evolved? Meanwhile Rage Row is seeking answers from Olstead. He is the only one who has returned and is badly injured. Just as they suspected, the meteorite was a Lucasite and it’s heading this way. Needing to determine the Lucasite’s position, Rage Row sends Wyvern to scout. Bahamut has just returned and learns of the emergency. Thinking she wants to show off her magic to her father, she heads to the library to pick up some magic tomes. However she stumbles upon a secret diary about her late mother, Eceus Ratra. Rage Row found and picked her up one stormy night and in her arms was a baby named Bahamut. Bahamut is devastated Rage Row is not her real father. When Rage Row learns of her daughter’s return, he goes to the library and fears the secret has been discovered. Leviathan dreams of her brother. He tells her to go on a journey to protect Aquafall. She maintains she will remain at Haruna to protect this place and wait for his return but he asserts protecting this world is the same as protecting Haruna and to go with the fairy. Otherwise all life on this planet will be destroyed by creatures known as Eibolias. He knows she cannot protect this planet alone but is the only one who can. When she wakes up, Jormungandr is at her doorstep. She tells about her dream (Syrup must be real happy that her brother understands the importance of joining Aquafall Defence). They decide to eat breakfast at Bahamut’s place but learn she has been missing since last night. Rage Row is worried but his advisor tells him he must stay and leave the searching to the rest. Leviathan and co finally find Bahamut sitting alone at the cliffs. She wants to be left alone and drops the bombshell she is quitting Aquafall Defence. What?! She just joined yesterday! Syrup goes after her and after a little coaxing, manages to get her to spill the beans. Bahamut is sad that Rage Row is not her real dad. Despite so, he always treated her nicely and she always acted like a spoilt princess. She wanted to practise some magic to earn his praise but now there is no reason to. She can’t fight with this kind of feeling. Syrup is surprised to hear about the Lucasite heading this way. Suddenly they see a fire dragon emblem in the sky. Fired by Wyvern, it is a warning signal that a Lucasite is on its way here. Leviathan knows this is the one they faced at the sea due to its damaged eye.

Episode 13
The town is evacuated while Wyvern and Cockatrice try to stop the Lucasite but get defeated. Bahamut is surprised to see her father before her but he assures her nothing will change the face that she is his daughter. He goes off to protect this town. Syrup suggests summoning Yurlungur but doesn’t have a sphere. Is she serious or not? Rage Row happens to have one and gives it to Leviathan. The big dragon appears and fights off the Lucasite and its Toripus while Rage Row cast a giant barrier. Leviathan and Jormungandr plan to do something but the mysterious boy says they can’t do anything together. Bahamut sulks around when she sees the sisters try to take a sphere to Jormungandr. She decides to take over from them. Yurlungur loses and the Lucasite destroys the barrier. Bahamut arrives on scene in time to assure her father that they are strong since they have been through many battles. The trio transform and as Bahamut is about to use the sphere, she loses it. They can’t get close to it since the Lucasite is continuously shooting at them. Leviathan uses her power to pave the way for Bahamut to get the sphere and summon Fire Drake. Once the fire users put some scorching high temperatures on Lucasite, Leviathan evolves to flush it away with her water before Jormungandr destroying it for good in a single strike. The town rejoice. Bahamut and her father emotionally reunite. Bahamut decides to rejoin Aquafall Defence and will be going on a journey with her friends to protect this planet. Leviathan also announces her intention to join and this makes Syrup a happy fairy that the defence team is finally formed. Aquafall Defence have their last words with their friends and family before they depart on their journey. Master notes it will be lonely around. She’ll use that time to fix her bar that got destroyed during the attack. Not again… Along the way, the Aquafall Defence encounter the mysterious boy. He tells them this is going to be a long and dangerous journey. Although he notes Leviathan already knows a lot since she was told by her brother via her dream, he says they are not strong enough yet. They must protect the pillars of the world. And off they go. And he disappears once more.

Holes In The Defence
If you ask me, everything is pretty much mediocre. Firstly, there were so many things that were left unexplained that it left me scratching my head when the anime ended. Somehow I feel that the anime is just a prelude and if you want to get a better understanding of things, you have to play the game as well. You’ll be asking who the hell that mysterious boy is that keeps popping up before our heroines and his intention. I think he must have something to do with the Aquafall Defence trio too. A connection since their past. And I believe there are many of them as seen bumming around the springs. Something to do with the 72 pillars and foundation of the world? Perhaps. Even the opening narration of each episode feels like a mystery. I don’t know if it’s trying to give us a brief history of something since it is narrated in a pretty poetic way despite the very cute loli voice doing the narration. Not that I understand. Not that I played the game. Not that I want to play the game either. Other points you might want to ponder just by watching this anime is Leviathan’s brother. What happened to him, etc? Why does he only appear in his dream, etc. And of course, how on earth did Leviathan’s spear ended up in the ruin when it clearly struck a different Lucasite? My only theory is so that the girls would go on a side distracting journey so that Leviathan could evolve that hardly feels like a power up at all. Really. Do you feel any difference? I only see but not feel.

The characters are pretty bland too. You can guess the kind of characters they are if you have watched too many kinds of such animes. Leviathan as the star of this show doesn’t feel like a star at all. She feels like a simpleton who has brother complex and because of always worrying about her brother, it made her hesitate to do a lot of things. Syrup is like the joker and clown of the pack (made more convincing thanks to the retard mode of Kana Hanazawa). It’s like she’s always enjoying things and sometimes she is very blunt. A big mystery is her black hole stomach. If the world doesn’t get finished by those creatures, the world’s food might be at the rate she swallows everything since she often gets hungry. Who she is and how she knows this planet will be doomed if they don’t save it (I guess it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out but that’s not my point) is another mystery. I mean, suddenly one day a fairy pops out and starts recruiting for her defence unit. Wouldn’t it be easier to come up with a recruitment poster? Why is she so bent on the trio? Whatever. Jormungandr is another simpleton who uses more of her brute and brawns. Another joker is Bahamut but she is the bratty kind since she always complains when it gets tough (sounding more convincing because she is voiced by Eri Kitamura). When the going gets tough, Bahamut gets complaining. So they say. Living the life of a spoilt princess must have really spoilt her, huh? But at least it shows she is not that spoilt since she is able to fight alongside her comrades and get things done when it comes down to it.

The other side characters feel okay too and if our main heroines are already mediocre, what do you think then? Especially Master’s running gag of the show that involves her always worried about her bar’s safety as she has yet to finish repaying off her loan. As far as I can see, she needs to live a very long time if she is going to settle all her loan. Rage Row, okay father, okay dude. Being the town’s leader needs him to flex some sort of muscle but still he is not as a powerful when Aquafall Defence combine their powers. Yurlungur and Fire Drake are reduced to just some CGI dragons who are to be called in for temporary help to buy some time before our girls strut their usual stuff. Jormungandr’s sisters provide lots of loli moe. Cute or annoying, you decide. Wyvern and Cockatrice do not have enough screen time to do their characters any justice and I am wondering if Bahamut’s mother may become an issue in the future or the chapter on this mystery is closed right here now that she has learnt she isn’t her father’s real daughter.

Being the fantasy setting, I guess the lush background is quite a welcoming sight so I have not much to complain although I thought it could have been better. I suppose that is what the journey (Bahamut’s vacation as she prefers to call it) is all about. To give us different change in scenery and some sort of a little training for our Aquafall Defence before their big main journey. Action wise, it feels mediocre too. I just don’t feel the impact when the girls do their magic stuff. You always and almost see the same thing. Especially when the girls transform, you have to see their full transformation from normal girl to scale, tail and wings. Leviathan is always using her water element, Bahamut her fire spells and Jormungandr striking with all her strength with her axe. Where’s the variety in that? You could also feel some sort of pattern to it. Bahamut fires, Leviathan flushes her water and Jormungandr doing the finishing. Surprisingly the nicest things about this anime are the opening and ending themes. While the opening theme, Hajimari No Resolution by Yuki Kanno is of rock outfit, the ending theme is Truly by PASSPO. It doesn’t sound quite back actually especially the use of voices towards the end of the music. Even some of the background music is quite good.

Sad to say that at this rate, the defence of Aquafall Defence may not be enough to save the world from pending destruction. Syrup may want to take another look at her recruitment requirements and get more help. I mean, she doesn’t even have the full elemental list of recruits, right? She’s got the fire and water. What about the wind and earth? Maybe we’ll get more as we go along but then again, that is another story. So our girls have got to buck up if they are going to save Aquafall as they are pretty wide open from all sides. Imagine, despite being able to defeat Lucasite and Toripu, it took them quite a lot of tries and effort and sometimes in the end they tire out. The fate of Aquafall in the hands of these girls? Maybe they should call Justice League or Avengers instead.

Busou Shinki OVA

December 7, 2013

I somewhat forgot that there is an OVA for Busou Shinki. Actually, I don’t remember if I remembered if this series had one to begin with. Just like the trend these days, OVAs are bundled with the final volume of the series’ DVDs and in the case of this one, it is the unaired episode or the 13th episode as some calls it. The original TV series doesn’t have much of a plot (not that I can really remember) so I didn’t expect the OVA to have any either. For this OVA, it is more of a flashback and somewhat a prequel to the TV series. About a fateful meeting between our main Shinkis. Yeah. They actually do meet before but circumstances have them not remembering so. I know myself as a human have a history of faulty memory recalls but Shinkis whose memories are written via programme and stored in their chips? I guess that’s why we have different terms for ‘forgetting’. Humans = amnesia. Shinkis = erase/reset.

Install x Dream
The Shinki named Zoura outside the Front Line Corp is making contact with her fellow Shinki, Leo who has infiltrated a high-tech Shinki maintenance building disguised as a nurse Shinki. Inside this building is Ann who is undergoing her maintenance. The nurse Shinki attending to her seems to make her check-up a little pervy. She notes how well Ann is taken care off by her master. Lene and Ines are waiting outside and it looks like they have to wait longer since maintenance-tired Ann mentions she still has to undergo some x-ray test. Ann is made to drink some cherry flavoured Jellycan and then spun around on the operation table for some G-force test by Leo who is handling this x-ray test. She then wants Ann to turn off her power as precaution for unwanted problems.

When she is done and leaves with her friends, they notice Ann is acting strange. Maybe too much maintenance has caused her to be light headed. They are stopped by the security at the exit as they want to conduct body checks to prevent any stealing of classified data since this company is conducting high level research to develop a new Shinki line. Ines is confident they didn’t steal anything but she forgot to return an eye checking equipment she borrowed for her amusement while waiting for Ann to finish. The security is about to apprehend her for stealing but Ann whips out her sword and threatens the security! I don’t know how but the trio were released. If this is the kind of security to give in to little threats, I don’t think the company’s secrets will be very safe. Outside, Ines and Lene feel something odd about Ann. Because she is testing her sword, maintaining them and talking like a soldier. Is this the Ann they know? Maybe the maintenance has made a screw loose in her head. Leo contacts Zoura and tells her about the data replacement of Ann and has sent her outside. The plan is to proceed as usual. Leo then spots a Strarf model awakening in the next bed. Leo wants to put her back to sleep but the Strarf runs away and even flies past the security! I’m beginning to doubt the security of this place.

When Strarf bumps into Ann outside, it seems that they have switched bodies. Ann is inside the Strarf model’s body. Yeah. It’s odd to see your own body. At first Ines and Lene didn’t believe her but after she reveals an embarrassing bit about Ines, they believe her and that their minds have been switched. How else do you explain Ann swinging her sword like a psycho? As the quartet are discussing this issue, they are approached by Zoura who claims she the Front Line doctor to tell Ann and Strarf to return to the lab in order to fix their switch. However it is a ploy to lead them into a car because Zoura’s master wants to steal the company’s secret (during the test, it was uploaded into their memories). Zoura ambushes the duo and puts them in a suitcase. Lene and Ines realize something is wrong and that there is no Front Line Shinki like her. They try to save them but the car just sped away.

As Ann and Strarf are locked down inside the suitcase, the real Strarf doesn’t understand the meaning of master so Ann explains to her and describes her own kind and caring master that loves them all very much. Ines and Lene chase after the car and puncture its wheel to send it turtle (I wonder what happened to the human driver). This causes the suitcase to be flung out from the boot and free the captured Shinkis. While Ines and Lene have their hands busy with Zoura, Strarf engages Leo but is told to disarm or else she will destroy the memories of Ann. Strarf feigns surrender and knocks Leo out in a single strong blow. At the same time, Zoura is also taken out. Before Strarf and Ann are to switch back to their rightful bodies, Ann laments that their memories will be erased since this is to protect the trade secrets of the company. This means the memories of them just becoming friends will also be deleted. Ann hopes they can meet again in the future but Strarf isn’t putting high hopes on it. Even if they could meet again, they won’t remember each other. Ann is hopeful that she will find a good master. Because Ines and Lene has heard and seen a lot, they too will have their recent memories erased.

Back in present time, Hina wakes up underneath the sakura tree picnic spot, probably just fresh from that past dream. She is joined by her other Shinki friends bringing in loads of cherries for their picnic. They notice she has been acting a little weird since she got a reset. Hina thinks events of that day brought back certain memories and hopes that one day they will remember that day too. She feels that it is good they can all meet again this way. The picnic begins when Master joins them.

It’s A Small World After All
Well, it’s nice to see how Hina previously met our main Shinki heroines prior to how they first did in the TV series. Call it fate or destiny if you will. Because of some selfish humans trying to get their hands on the latest technology by stealing classified data, this sets the stage for the first half of the show for Ann and Hina to meet when they got their bodies swapped. Otherwise, I think the so called villain Shinkis of Zoura and Leo are just forgettable. They didn’t really put up much of a fight. Really. Besides, I don’t think it is about them since the second half focuses more on Ann and Hina as how the former in a way convinces the latter about the warmth and benefits of having a master. Other than that, I don’t think this OVA provides anything ground breaking or refreshing and just something that I believe would ‘close’ the series. Even if they are just little dolls with artificial intelligence, the memories and experience they had were real. So treat them with lots of care and love. Because it is only right for something (alive or not) to love you back that much, an equal amount of love and affection is necessary. You get what you give and give what you get. Geddit?


December 1, 2013

Hey. How come Scryed feels like Needless? Okay, actually it is more like Needless somewhat takes after Scryed. Let’s see. A strange and deadly phenomenon has ravaged a certain part of Japan and caused the emergence of a new kind of species of mankind. The kind that allows them to use superhuman powers. Life is harsh and close to lawless in those devastated parts so a local police-like organization is established to maintain the peace. And from opposing ends of both sides, herald 2 very opposing but yet so similar characters that will clash and determine the fate of the land and its people. Sounds pretty familiar, right? You’d be forgiven if you think Needless took after Scryed as some considered the former to be a spiritual successor of the latter.

One of those typical shonen animes with lots of power fights among the protagonists and powering up as they go along, I guess it’s one of those times whereby I pick an old school anime to watch and compare how different and long way animes have come. Well, I think I can see lots of difference here but that will be another story. Some considered this 2001 production to be a classic, some acceptable and some so-so. The only way to determine that is to watch it myself. It’s also time to see whether Falcon Punch is superior to Shocking First Bullet…

Episode 1: Kazuma
Mimori Kiryuu is on a plane heading to Lost Ground when a Native Alter, Kazuma uses the plane as a springboard to launch himself to a building whereby thugs are holding the chief of HOLD hostage. He crashes into the place to knock everybody out and save the day. In the aftermath, the police investigate the area. The baddies are rounded up while Scheris Adjani, an Alter from HOLY conducts her own investigation. A best way to solve a case involving an Alter is to use another Alter. Back at HOLY, the commander Martin Zigmarl receives her report so he orders to send in Elian as they can’t let a Native Alter stay loose. Kazuma must have earned big bucks from the job but squanders most of it at the toll. Am I the only one who thinks he is just more than generous? He returns to his home whereby Kanami Yuuta is waiting for him. He shows her how much money he earned. Not much. Then he worries how he they can make it next. Kunihiko Kimishima enters the room to offer Kazuma another job. Seems another team is trying to take over Hideki team’s turf. That team has an Alter as their leader. I guess this is where Kazuma comes in. Kazuma thinks he can earn big bucks (2000) for his service but Kimishima only offers him a meagre 30. And so the ‘negotiation’ begins. Via rock-scissors-paper? Late that night, the duo leave for their mission. Biff and his gang terrorize Hidemi’s people. He is having it his way till Kazuma and Kimishima bang him in their vehicle. And they were pushing it. They didn’t realize they knocked the Alter user out. And so here they go again arguing about the price. Biff wakes up and is mad. He is going to use his Alter, Hammer a giant robot. Everyone knows they’re in for a torrid time so they flee the scene. Kazuma also summons his Alter, Shell Bullet which just covers his entire right arm. Biff unleashes his smashing destruction but all it took was a single strike of Kazuma’s Shocking First Bullet to destroy Biff’s Hammer. More action for Kazuma since Scheris and HOLD are here to apprehend them. Kazuma is going to buy time for their escape by fighting them. Out comes Ryuhou Tairen. When Kazuma first laid his eyes on him, he starts to shiver. Nevertheless he unleashes Annihilating Second Bullet at him but was blocked by his Alter, Zetsuei. Kazuma then gets beaten up. Kazuma won’t give in and uses Exterminating Last Bullet. But when his punch connects, Shell Bullet breaks apart.

Episode 2: Ryuhou
A group of Native Alters take Ryuhou lightly and got a taste of his Zetsuei. Maybe Ryuhou was just overdoing it. Mimori was once a scientist trying to find out the mystery of Lost Ground. It still remains unexplainable 22 years after that event. Talking to her colleague Kurusu, she intends on going back there since she once lived there 7 years ago. He didn’t have positive views on Alters and sees them as lawless people but Mimori thinks they are closer to true human nature as they decompose and construct materials using spiritual power. Flashback 7 years ago, she met Ryuhou at a high profile party on Lost Ground. Upon her father’s request, she goes to meet Ryuhou. She is impressed with Alters as 1% of Lost Ground people are born with that special ability. But Ryuhou on the other hand laments that many people are struggling with their lives. Ryuhou couldn’t control his Alter power and breaks a stone piece of pillar. He wants her to decline invitation to his house for fear he might hurt her. She decides to keep that stone. But Mimori came to Ryuhou’s house anyway since she was invited by his mom. They quickly become friends but after 6 months, she had to leave for the mainland when her dad resigned. Now she is back here again and being picked up by Straight Cougar from HOLD. She gets a taste of his super speed because of his Alter, Radical Good Speed that allows him to make things go faster. Yeah. It’s his philosophy to finish things fast to use time efficiently. It’s amazing Mimori didn’t die from that ride.

Mimori introduces herself to Scheris that she will be joining HOLY from today in their research department. Ryuhou is also there but he seems not to recognize her. Mimori is taken to see Zigmarl and he warns her prejudice against Alters is high and are objects of hatred. And then the daughter of HOLY’s investor’s daughter got transferred in the midst of this. She should behave herself. Later Mimori talks to Scheris on why she is working for HOLY (to make a living) and how many Alters there are (20). She lets her in with an advice that even though she and Ryuhou are the same, their existence is completely different. Scheris has to leave for another mission. She is stuck with Cougar who offers to take her to see a real fight between Alters. Can she stomach his ride? It’s amazing she can hold it in for nearly 2 hours! At a desolated place, it seems they are going to watch the battle from afar. Meanwhile HOLD’s chief blows his top to Zigmarl and blames HOLY for the recent events. He takes responsibility but reminds him that he shouldn’t have wandered off himself outside the walls of the city. Safety is only guaranteed within the city walls. Anything beyond that is beyond their control. As establishment and authority are not fully established yet, he believes reinforcement of Alter fighting unit called HOLY is necessary. Mimori sees Ryuhou using Zetsuei to beat up Kazuma. She wonders what changed Ryuhou. Cougar advises her to go back to the mainland because sentimentalism won’t work here. Ryuhou is returning with several prisoners with Kazuma being one of them. Kazuma is bent on crushing him.

Episode 3: HOLY
6 years ago, an attack by a mysterious Native Alter with thunder powers caused the death of Ryuhou’s mom. Even his dog died. Ryuhou was so angry and sad that he materialized Zetsuei. Back in present time, Mimori is appalled the way they are treating Alter criminals. Using some G-force ride? Kazuma has reached his spinning time limit so the guards take him out to see if he is ready for interrogation. When Ryuhou appears before his face, he wants to beat him up. But he is too weak and gets beaten instead. Then he is taken before some attorney who is reading his crimes. Kazuma is linked with the kidnapping of HOLD’s chief and may be put to death unless he accepts their offer of joining HOLY, etc. But all Kazuma has on is head is to beat the crap out of Ryuhou. He’s not listening to what the attorney has to say. Then when Ryuhou comes in, it’s like he powered up to free himself from his binds. Wow. The sight of Ryuhou is like his energizer. Ryuhou wants everyone to leave them alone and Kazuma wants to fight him. He obliges but still best Kazuma. When Ryuhou has him in his bind, he asks if Kazuma knows any Native Alter that uses thunder. Kazuma doesn’t know and fools around with it. All he is interested is settling their business. Ryuhou kicks him through to the next room. Kimishima sneaks into the city to find Kazuma and finds it a very different lifestyle. Curse himself for not being born here.

Mimori confronts Ryuhou because the judgment passed on Kazuma was too harsh. He was sentence to life of hard labour. Ryuhou tells her off that such kindness and softness is not needed because of Alters like them, they create lots of victims. So if you go easy on them, are you saying that you are ignoring the victims’ rights, pain and suffering? Mimori then goes to secretly free Kazuma. He could have gotten out without any problems had he not see Ryuhou before him. Instantly, he attacks him. It’s like he really has a grudge over this guy. Ryuhou takes a big blow from him since Zetsuei was protecting Zigmarl. Even being surrounded by other HOLY members, Kazuma doesn’t give a damn. When Mimori walks in, Kazuma takes her hostage and escapes down the elevator shaft. While she drives him away, the first to catch up to him is, of course Cougar. He is mad that Kazuma is going faster than him? Kazuma sees Kimishima waiting for him on the overhead road and uses the car as springboard to jump to him. They are pushing the peddle to the metal as the city is closing its gates. But Kazuma uses his Annihilating Second Bullet to blast a big hole. Then he destroys the rented car as propulsion to jump over the drawing bridge. HOLY rues their escape. Mimori thought Cougar knew Kazuma but he dismisses it as he just looks like someone he knows. Ryuhou coughs out blood since he is still feeling the impact of Kazuma’s punch. Looks like he wasn’t just randomly hitting his punches and was carefully targeting. Kimishima rues his money spent to get Kazuma out. The fake ID and rented car was expensive. It really cost him. Don’t worry. Kazuma had stolen some jewellery from the HOLY locker room.

Episode 4: Big Magnum
George Tatsunami from HOLD and tells the town people to surrender and serve them. Otherwise feel the wrath of his big guns. Kazuma returns to his town and is made to do honest hard work by the people. No more fooling around. Till Kimishima comes by with another job that pays. But they have to leave now. Looks like he’ll be going on another ‘journey’. Zigmarl talks to Ryuhou about sending an operative to HOLD HQ for protection. But he wants Ryuhou to preserve Native Alters as before and will send Tatsunami instead. Although his ability is C Class, his is good in wide area battle. Although he has some sort of personality problem (that last mission had some 30 casualties), Zigmarl thinks that will instil some fear in those Native Alters. Kazuma and Kimishima examine the decimated town. Kazuma believes he will fight to the very end even if he isn’t an Alter and not easily surrender. They meet Ayase Terada who is their client. She will be involved in this job too since she is an Alter user. She demonstrates by turning anything her hair touches into water. There goes Kimishima’s bike. How much has he paid for it? The trio stake out the location where the town people are held captive. Tatsunami becomes a slave driver and puts them to hard labour. The plan is to have Kazuma escorting Ayase to the barracks where she will destroy their monitoring system. Kimishima will prepare the escape route while Kazuma runs riot as distraction. Their plan begins at dawn.

While waiting, Ayase talks to Kazuma how she had hid her Alter powers all this time because they’ve always been treated with contempt. She is using it for the first time and wants to save them because one of the captives is her sick brother, Akira and the townspeople are like her family. Kazuma says if there is a big wall and he needs to get through it, he’ll use his power without doubt. Once you have chosen, do not doubt. At dawn, the plan begins and all is going smoothly. But after Kazuma starts going wild, Tatsunami and his HOLD members have got the place surrounded. He is going to kill everyone as a lesson with his Big Magnum. Ayase admits she is the culprit but he will kill her first. When he fires, Kazuma’s Shell Bullet manages to deflect the bullet but takes some damage. Tatsunami takes Ayase hostage and rants about hi underhanded ways in getting a job done. He also views normal citizens must serve an Alter user like him. Kimishima surrenders but Kazuma isn’t. He is ready to fight him which is putting Ayase’s life in danger. In that short distraction, Kimishima whips out his hidden gun and fires to free Ayase. Tatsunami fires Big Magnum but Kazuma punches the bullet back into the muzzle. The result is a big backfire explosion. I think Tatsunami was laughing like crazy when he got owned. Ayase is grateful to Kazuma but Kimishima is angry that he was willing to sacrifice Ayase. What if he had not fired, what will he do? But he did, right? And that is all that matters. Kazuma tells him to bring him jobs like this to him first. It’s because he doesn’t like HOLY and HOLD’s attitude.

Episode 5: Mimori Kiryuu
After Kanami sees off Kazuma (once more, Kimishima needs to ‘borrow’ him), her body starts feeling weak before collapsing. Tatsunami and 2 other HOLD guys are in ICU. They’re so badly beaten up that they lost their Alter powers. Guess who is responsible for getting them in such condition? Mimori volunteers herself to head north with the medical unit. But first, is it always a coincidence that Cougar has been showing up in front of her? Then he starts talking about destiny and the crap. It’s like he’s hitting on her. However she’s not interested. Why not? For a guy who can’t even get her name right… But when Ryuhou requests to accompany him tonight, she quickly says yes. Cougar, you lost. Were you ‘slower’? Kazuma does his usual over power beating up of HOLD units. I guess this enables him to finish his job quicker but when he goes home, he panics to see Kanami unconscious. Ryuhou and Mimori on their ‘date’, it seems Ryuhou wants her to withdraw from the medical expedition since it is beyond dangerous. She views everyone as the same and finds it ironic that HOLY who is supposed to keep the order but is actually the opposite. Ryuhou chides her of her naïve ideals because such ideals do not apply on Lost Ground. So pissed this guy that he didn’t realize he is hurting her hand and summoned Zetsuei. He lets her know he doesn’t have those kind of feelings she expects him to have for he has thrown them away. Elsewhere, Kazuma beats up the doctor because he can’t cure Kanami! WTF… Looks like she has some sort of new disease and the doctor is not skilled enough to handle it (his medical practice is 20 years old outdated). Kimishima hears a medical unit expedition. What else? Hijack it! Since Mimori didn’t listen, Ryuhou suddenly gets all worried about her. Cougar offers him a ride there since their goal is the same. Scheris also tags along.

The medical unit truck is driving fine along the desert path till Kazuma does his flashy hijack. He wants Mimori to help sick Kanami and she agrees. Mimori diagnoses the virus and gives her the necessary treatment. At least her life is out of danger. Kazuma thanks her when suddenly he is attacked by a doctor. Not just a doctor. This doctor has a green crystal ball on his forehead and is being controlled by a HOLY member, Asuka Tachibana. Kazuma fights all the zombie doctors while Kimishima takes Kanami and flee. Mimori sees Kimishima as a nice person and believes there are such people out there. Tachibana can use his balls to control the crows to attack Kazuma. Then he tries to control Kazuma. After all that resisting, did he finally give in? Actually, Kazuma absorbs them. It’s funny to hear Tachibana screaming for him to give back his precious balls. Sounds so pervy… Kazuma gives them back so they can have a good fight. Kazuma is obviously better and even breaks his Alter balls. Tachibana continues to rant how he can’t lose and needs to be with HOLY but Kazuma doesn’t care and beats him up to chalk up another victory. In the aftermath, Kimishima picks up Kazuma. They’re glad Kanami is okay. I don’t know if Cougar was lost since he arrived too late (with his speed, he should have arrived in time, right?). Mimori, who is treating the other doctors, refuses to say anything to Ryuhou. Badly beaten up Tachibana limps in and claims that a certain Native Alter did this. Ryuhou gets the wrong idea he wants to go against them so bad and upgrades him from second degree criminal to first degree.

Episode 6: Zetsuei
Zigmarl is being questioned by the higher ups of the mainland. They are not happy of the problems plaguing Lost Ground. He has taken steps to dispatch his units to take control and this operation of hunting Native Alters will begin in a few more days. Kimishima shows off to Kazuma the new car he bought (because the last time as usual it got trashed by Kazuma). Kazuma didn’t like how he spends his money on their contract since he always has food problems. Luckily Kanami has foreseen this problem and has saved quite a considerable sum. Suddenly a guy walks in and collapses. Mimori is working at the redevelopment area and doesn’t like how the people are being mistreated. The doctors do not give a damn about her opinion. The operation to ring in Native Alters begins. HOLY goes all out to apprehend all those who resist and those who don’t. Basically, everybody. But Ryuhou is more concerned about Kazuma. He is a problematic Native Alter and blames himself that their first meeting may have ignited his rebellious side. Tachibana is recuperating well in hospital and his girlfriend Cammy visits him. Little does she know that he is breaking up inside. Because of his little ‘mistake’, he has been kicked out of HOLY. He is worried he has nowhere else to go as he has no formal education. Meanwhile Kazuma and Kimishima hears from that guy how HOLY is on the offensive. It will be in no time that they will reach here. When he describes the terrifying Zetsuei that attacked them, Kazuma gets worked up. Kazuma vows to protect Kanami and will take them down. Kazuma and Kimishima meet up in a gathering of several Alters. Their plan is to ambush one of the units. They will take on the one patrolling between the sea and the cliffs. Next day, HOLY as usual is on its patrol. The Native Alters wait for the right timing and ambush them. Biff leads the first wave of attack followed by Ayase. Since Ryuhou is there too, Kazuma spots him and another epic battle between the duo begins. The other Native Alters find it odd that HOLY isn’t retaliating. They realize too late when the patrol unit they attacked is a decoy. The real HOLY guys pop out from behind and begin attacking. The Native Alters are no match for them. No time to even retreat since HOLY reinforcements by sea have arrived. Ryuhou now understands how Tachibana lost to Kazuma. He has powered up a lot. Ryuhou won’t hold back too and transforms Zetsuei into its true form. Kazuma takes a beating but before Zetsuei could finish him, familiar Treasure Balls block its attack. Why is Tachibana butting in? He wants to personally finish Kazuma so that he can be accepted back into HOLY. He will do anything to defeat Kazuma. Kazuma is not happy he ruined his happy fight with Ryuhou. So angry both of them that when they collide, the impact is so great that the ground splits into half and swallows them! Awesome or what? Ryuhou collapses after exerting too much energy.

Episode 7: Asuka Tachibana
Kazuma dreams about his past but he doesn’t want to see any more of it. The moment he wakes up and sees Tachibana, he tries to beat him up so Tachibana has to make him realize they are still underground and need to cooperate to get out instead of wasting energy to fight. Meanwhile Ryuhou reports to Zigmarl about the Native Alters they have captured although Kazuma remains missing and Tachibana remains HOLY’s only casualty. Zigmarl asserts HOLY has lost nothing since Tachibana has been dismissed yesterday. Those who cannot fulfil their duty have no business being a HOLY member. The hunt will continue. Kazuma has to follow Tachibana since his balls have light properties. He has food too. Tachibana tells him to come over to their side so he can start a new life as a citizen but Kazuma doesn’t want that kind of life and asks back if he is happy with that. He couldn’t answer. The duo break out in an abandoned shopping mall. They continue their chat as they rest. Once more Tachibana wants to know why he wouldn’t want to live in the city. Kazuma once snuck in and saw how everybody was the same. So similar that it was suspicious. Though Tachibana says that everyone has equality and is happy, that is the reason he doesn’t like it. He views humans are different. That equality crap doesn’t work on him especially if that guy is trying to capture him is the one who said that. As Alters, they are definitely not like normal people. Kazuma admits he is useless but with his Alter, he knows it won’t betray him. It is proof of who he is. He attacks HOLY because they’ve been invading their turf. The conversation shifts to Ryuhou whom he wants to settle a score. He senses something in him that is similar to him. Their chat is interrupted when a monster attacks.

Tachibana wants to plan to fight this monster but Kazuma prefers to go head on without thinking. So he gets trapped and pinned down. Tachibana leaves him since he has no obligation to save him and is enemies. Then he makes a u-turn to save him. This time they cooperate to fight the monster. Tachibana can’t help feel even though Kazuma’s ideals are different, he is getting more impressed with him. As they’re about to deliver the final blow, Kazuma stops. He realizes the one materializing the monster is a little fox creature. It is an Alter user. Because they intruded in its territory, it naturally did what it does to defend. Kazuma would have done the same thing if he was in its shoes. Just like how he defies HOLY. He asks Tachibana about his stand. He fights to protect. Then this makes him same just like this little creature. The roof caves in so Kazuma punches it away to save their hide. Now they’re even. The hole in the ceiling means they have found a way out. But it’s not the end yet as the guys still want to settle their score. They have one last hit left. Although they trade insults, Kazuma doesn’t really hate him and Tachibana envies him. So they finally charge. The power of the impact is so great that it could change the landscape again. Yeah. The statue of Buddha’s head just got wiped out. In the end, because Tachibana hesitated, he lost and was blown away. He laments about his life, wondering if he had attained happiness he struggled to keep after giving up so easily. Tachibana is about to tell that he isn’t with HOLY anymore so Kazuma says it is his choice to stay here or go back. Tachibana makes his resolve. He wants to win. In order to do that, he needs to go back to the city to confirm what he wants. Elian has been watching everything and relaying everything to Zigmarl. Kazuma goes back to the cliffs and finds Kimishima in his wrecked car. He is barely alive. Though he could only save a couple of kids, the rest were taken. Before he collapses, he hands over Kazuma a stack of cash and pleads to him to save the rest. Especially Ayase.

Episode 8: Mad Sprict
Kanami nurses Kimishima while Kazuma goes off to settle unfinished business. First, he surprises everyone by entering HOLY HQ. How the heck did he do it? More surprises when he wants to join HOLY! Everybody knows he is bullsh*ting despite Kazuma claiming he realizes how powerful they are and wants to be on the side that wins. However Zigmarl approves of Kazuma joining after he spews crap about trust and friendship. Of course this doesn’t sit well with Ryuhou. After all this time being arch rivals, suddenly Kazuma is on their side? What kind of crap is this? So he talks to Zigmarl about this and the latter too knows well Kazuma hasn’t really turned over a new leaf. Because Kazuma defeated Tachibana and it proves he is a formidable foe. Also, HOLY is always on the lookout for superior and talented Alters. Zigmarl has also decided to use Unkei, the best scriptwriter for this mission. Kazuma as seen is here to find information but I guess he was too dumb to learn how the system works. Kazuma beats Cougar to gain Mimori’s attention and has her tour him around the city. Cougar can curse himself. Can’t even remember a simple name… Mimori takes Kazuma to a tailor and dresses him up good. Then at the fine dining restaurant, Kazuma displays his ‘barbaric’ side when he devours all the good food without proper etiquette. Ryuhou and Scheris are also there to keep an eye on them. The city tour continues and it finally ends with Mimori showing him the apartment where he will be living from now onwards. If you’re wondering why this episode seems to have lines narrated like a dialogue script, it’s because this Unkei afro guy is happy that this drama is working out exactly like the script he writes. The God of all stories, he claims?

Kazuma needs to take some proficiency test so Mimori helps him to study. They also have a welcoming party for him. Ryuhou is still not pleased. The guy who wants to kill him at first sight is now apologizing and wants to become friends? What crap is this? All part of the script. Kazuma goes back to join the part as Unkei reminds Ryuhou not to adlib on his own free will. His Alter, Mad Sprict can alter a human’s thinking and make that person part of his play. Thus he doesn’t like those butting in with their free will and not go according to the script. Next day, Ryuhou challenges Kazuma to a normal fist fight without the use of Alter powers. If Kazuma can beat him, he will accept him as his comrade. The fight ends in a draw. Ryuhou is so impressed that he acknowledges Kazuma and wants to be his friend. However Kazuma can’t be satisfied with this yet. He wants to fight more! What’s this? Ryuhou pleading like a sissy to stop? Something is wrong. Yeah. Kazuma realizes he forgot something important. Kimishima’s mission. He continues to fight Ryuhou. This isn’t part of the script. He realizes this wimp isn’t the real Ryuhou and breaks out of Unkei’s power. Unkei is mad that his perfect story is broken. Well, Kazuma thinks it is boring. He tries to punch Unkei but misses. Unkei throws him a revised script instead. It seems Zigmarl and Ryuhou are to see off the plane carrying the captured Native Alters to the mainland lab. Ryuhou is shocked to see Kazuma at the runway. Kazuma is going to bring down the plane but Zetsuei stops him. Thanks to that, the plane successfully takes off. Although Kazuma eludes capture, Ryuhou apologizes to Zigmarl he couldn’t capture him again. Zigmarl acknowledges Ryuhou may be right as Kazuma could be a threat to HOLY. Ryuhou pledges to do all it takes to defeat him. But why is he saying that with a happy look?

Episode 9: Shell Bullet
Mimori talks to Ryuhou’s dad and he knows she is here to ask about his son. He is going to let him be despite Mimori doesn’t like that Ryuhou is assigned to a dangerous unit in HOLY and his personality lately has been distancing himself and rejecting others. Dad says it is because he hasn’t got what he wanted. I’m guessing that means Kazuma, right? Back at HQ, Mimori finds her generated data has been altered. Ryuhou has orders from Zigmarl to continue Native Alter hunting but this time they are having the arrogant Emergy Maxfell along in this mission. The night before he departs, Ryuhou goes to see Mimori. So he’s here to ask her if she has feelings for that Kazuma guy? I guess he is the dense one. Mimori wants to know where the captured Alters were taken but Ryuhou himself doesn’t know such classified information. So it’s like accepting orders and doing things blindly? Once again, Ryuhou tells her off if she doesn’t like how things are done here, she can go back to the mainland. Mimori feels suspicious because it feels like the top brass is trying to hide something. Kazuma has Kimishima bring him to the Alter Forest. It is filled with animals with Alter powers. It is a dangerous place and it is rumoured once you go in, you never get out. But Kazuma remembers somebody (looks like Cougar) told him that within this forest lies someone who creates Alter users. Whether he exists or not he doesn’t know. So Kazuma isn’t going to sit around moping his loss but do something about it. I take this bashing through the relentless waves monster Alters as some sort of his personal training? Mimori tries to hack into HOLY’s system but is on the verge of being found out. She gets unexpected help from Cougar to fend off those who are suspicious. She wants to know if Cougar knows anything. He knows they are just pawns. Wherever Alters go, they will be hated. So it’s natural for them to hope for a place where they’re treated like humans even if it’s just temporary.

Ryuhou and his team continue their Alter hunt but he is somewhat disappointed that Kazuma is not among the pack. Kazuma reaches the centre of the forest after successfully getting through all those Alters. However he almost got caught in blast that causes a huge crater. In the middle, he sees a mysterious black Alter that absorbs the life of all the dead animals. Kazuma didn’t like his cocky attitude (I thought it was like the case of the kettle calling the pot black) and fights him but is no match. He gets beaten up and does some reflection. In the end, he isn’t the kind of guy to worry about the details and continues to attack. This time when he thought his Shell Bullet manages to punch through him, the black Alter regenerates. At the same time, his Shell Bullet undergoes massive power up. So massive that all the other Alters somewhat felt its resonance. Kazuma loves this upgrade and is more excited to fight this guy. Still no match, though. Wondering who this guy is, it dawned to Kazuma that his description fits the Alter that Ryuhou is looking for. Then his Shell Bullet starts acting up. Kimishima is waiting at the edge of the forest worried if Kazuma has been done in. At first he is shocked to see the black Alter appearing but it disappears and behind him is Kazuma limping out and barely clinging on to his life. But Kazuma is happy he has got it.

Episode 10: Super Pinch
Kanami hangs out with Kazuma. She is worried about the advancement of the people from the city. He assures her they haven’t done anything wrong and this cheers her up. Kazuma’s arm is filled with ‘lines’. If this is the small price to pay for his job, he doesn’t mind it. Ryuhou enters a town whereby the people are afraid and scorn HOLY. But a little boy stood up and tells him to get out. Ryuhou gets to work by summoning Zetsuei to flush out all the hidden bandits and tells them off they have been having their way but started running when the situation is no longer in their favour. If they feel just and righteous, they should act like that little boy. Of course they are no match for him. Ryuhou shows no mercy in those who surrender too. Once again, Kazuma skips his usual chores to go HOLY hunting with Kimishima. It’s putting Kanami in a tight spot. But the villagers are happy she turned up anyway. Kazuma is using his crude methods to get information on HOLY but it seems the townspeople are not willing to share. In fact, Emergy is seen handing toys out to kids and they love him! Kazuma is filled with rage and wants to beat him up but he has to hold it back. What would it look like if a ruffian beats up an unarmed person before innocent children’s eyes? So Emergy goes to talk with Kazuma and tells him he is unlike other HOLY members because he doesn’t want to fight. He gets to the point that he wants Kazuma to rejoin HOLY and his life and those around him will be guaranteed. Kazuma instantly turns him down since he hates the way HOLY does things, that annoying guy is still there and he wants to beat him up right now. Well, Kazuma has been throwing punches in his face since Emergy insults Kazuma as trash. Since negotiations have broken down, Emergy reveals there are bombs in hidden in the toys. One push of the button… No matter how much they beat him up or steal the controller, there many more of them. Seems Emergy wants to piss him off and he gets his wish because Kazuma beats the hell out of him with his Shell Bullet.

Kazuma doesn’t’ give a damn about him explaining about his Alter power. The more Emergy is in a pinch, the more powerful his Alter will be. Yeah, continue to beat up the guy, will you? When Emergy realizes he is at the edge of the cliff, his childhood fear comes back. So scared he is that his Alter, a giant robot, Super Pinch Crusher comes flying down from the sky. I thought it was the cousin of Transformer’s Bumblebee. Kazuma happily fights this big robot whom Emergy views as his hero and will always save him from any kind of pinch. The more Kazuma beats it up, the more powerful Emergy becomes till it powers up into another super robot. Though it seems that the robot emerges victorious, Kazuma hasn’t given up yet because a person like Emergy who totally relies on others has no chance of winning. Kazuma is going to show his determination and powers up his Shell Bullet. Emergy panics that he has never seen anything like this. In a single punch, the robot is destroyed. There goes his Alter. Emergy becomes so frantic at the loss of his hero. The robot’s sword plunges from the sky and cuts the ground Emergy is standing in half and sends him falling into the sea. Kimishima is impressed with his new power but Kazuma notes the recoil power is still too much for him to handle and that after each use, it starts acting up. Meanwhile Mimori sees Zigmarl and admits she has hacked into the system to find out the truth. If that is what she wants, he will give to her all the information he has. She is appalled to see such shocking info and will release it to the public. She thinks it’s going to be that easy? Well, now that she has seen everything, they’re not going to let her do as she pleases, right? Zigmarl captures her and says the mainland doesn’t view Alters as humans. That’s why he will use any means for him to be HOLY.

Episode 11: Alters
Mimori is thrown into prison. This is the price you pay for the truth. So was it worth it? What else is there to do in her cell? Write down all that she knows as proof that she once lived. That’s a way of saying “Flashback time” and summarizes what this series is about. So for those who aren’t following this series, this episode summary should provide some useful insights though I doubt it would be comprehensive. For the first half, we have Mimori narrating a natural phenomenon 22 years ago caused the released of an unthinkable amount of energy that led to the creation of Lost Ground that others came to hate. Japan’s economy came to a grinding halt as a result and took years to pick back up. Even on Lost Ground, people were divided and those born outside the city walls were called Inners. Then it became Japan’s first and only autonomous region not because of politics but the discovery of Alter power. Their numbers rise steadily and soon cause chaos with their unique powers. This led to a civil war and this causes mainland to block all traffic to and fro. When Alter crimes become rampant, the formation of HOLD and HOLY was in the belief that only Alter users can defeat Alter users. Mimori briefly introduces all the HOLY members that we know. Especially the one whom she has a special bond with. Yeah. Ryuhou. Short flashback of their childhood meeting. As she is about to get to the part about HOLY’s atrocities, Elian’s power smashes her palm top. I guess she wrote all that for nothing. Wasted effort. All that’s left is to cry alone in the dark. Zigmarl is depending on Elian to keep Mimori in check and not to let this information leak out to the mainland. All info on her will be sealed. Zigmarl has seen Kazuma fight against Emergy and knows from the light he emitted, has been to that place. He laments if only Kazuma is on his side. With Kazuma and Ryuhou in his hands, he could change the course of history and will sacrifice as many as it takes. Suddenly the entire building shakes. Cougar uses his speed to break through the prison and help Mimori break out.

Now it’s time for some Kazuma versus Ryuhou flashback. Well, at least selected scenes of their power clash. Ryuhou wakes up from that nightmare and thinks he needs to defeat Kazuma with his own hands. Likewise, Kazuma also had this dream. He has been out cold for 2 days since defeating Emergy. He tells what he knows to Kimishima how his Shell Bullet got upgraded. He knows nothing more and will continue to do what he does: Beat up HOLY. But first, he needs to go back to Kanami and fill himself up. So he only goes back for food? Cougar has packed Mimori’s stuffs and sees her off at the airport. Mimori wonders if he will be charged for breaking her out but he is confident nobody can catch him with his speed. For once, he gets her name correct. Cougar realizes something since joining HOLY. Humans are creatures that fight. Try to maintain peace and it will cause strain somewhere. What Mimori has seen is just that strain. Mimori also reflects she didn’t accomplish anything. It is not her goal to learn the truth but to do something about it now that she has learnt of it. Kazuma and Kimishima pass by one of HOLD’s vehicles (carrying Ryuhou and Scheris). However that vehicle soon moves away (because of some call from Zigmarl) and Kazuma didn’t want to bother with it because getting back to Kanami is more important. This guy prioritizes the correct things for once? But when he arrives, he sees the town annihilated. What the hell just happened?

Episode 12: Kunihiko Kimishima
Kazuma learns from one of the injured farm ladies that she managed to whisk everybody away before the big explosion. Then those HOLY Dars guys pop up before them. Nice timing. Time to kick some HOLY butt. But he finds these clones are like speechless zombies without a mind of their own. They get back up each time he beats them up. Also, sometimes they turn into gas form and he can’t hit them. He makes a run but Dars persistently goes after him without any signs of fatigue. Ryuhou sees Emergy in a pitiful state. Not only has he lost his Alter power, his mentality is a state of a child. He is going to hunt down Kazuma. Kimishima returns home to find Kanami hiding. He picks her up but once they get outside, HOLD arrests them. Zigmarl interrogates Cougar of his attempt. Cougar says Mimori is from one of the powerful families from the mainland who support HOLY, making her disappear like that is a bad idea. If keeping her quiet from leaking sensitive data was his idea, he should have let the mainland taken care of it. Cougar hits a nerve when he suspects he is going to use her as a bargaining chip. Zigmarl wants to know whose side he is on. He is on his own side. Seems Mimori didn’t leave and is still on Lost Ground. She gets into trouble with several Native Alters but is saved by Tachibana. Kimishima and Kanami are brought to where the rest of the villagers are. HOLY makes it sound like they are Kazuma’s accomplices. Mimori is taken back to Tachibana’s place. He is working with transporting supplies since this is the only work he can get outside HOLY.

Suddenly the news shows the devastating landscape and blames this destruction on a single Native Alter: Kazuma. Even HOLY is surprised that such footage has leaked out. Scheris thinks only Elian has such capability. Zigmarl is not thrilled because the mainland will intervene but Elian asserts this is not his doing. Everyone including Kanami is in disbelief that Kazuma is an Alter and they start badmouthing him. Kimishima couldn’t stand it anymore and takes one of those HOLD guys hostage. He tries to drill it into their brains that Kazuma has been going off to fight on their behalf. Kanami realizes every time Kazuma runs away from a job to do something secretive was for this. When a HOLD guy manhandles Kanami, the crowd gangs up to hold them off. Kimishima uses this chance to escape with Kanami. Then he leaves her at a safe spot and promises to bring Kazuma back. He goes off with HOLD hot on his tail. He manages to find Kazuma still having a hard time dealing with the clones. Realizing they can’t be touched, he wants Kazuma to do his new shiny move. It enables Kimishima to pinpoint the real body that is controlling the clones. Although the clones can turn into gas, the real one must stay in physical form to use that power. The real Dars is taken out and Elian who was manipulating this guy loses control and vision of him. This allows Kazuma to use his ultimate move to destroy them all. Kimishima hopes he lets the world sees this awesome power. Kazuma carries Kimishima back. Although the car wasn’t wrecked, he didn’t know how to drive. Yeah. This sucks. Finally when they arrive back at Kanami, she is very happy to see Kazuma. But her happiness turns to tears when she realizes Kimishima isn’t moving. This can’t be a joke, right???!!!

Episode 13: Lost Ground
Flashback reveals when Kimishima first found Kazuma, the latter was hot blooded and distrustful. But Kimishima strikes up a deal to become a team and knows Kazuma is the one (money is a motivating factor). Because if they fail, Kazuma loses his money, Kimishima loses his life. Now that Kimishima is really dead. Kazuma goes on a rampage to destroy everything HOLY to retrieve Kimishima’s car and gun. All that destruction for that? Can’t reason with a mad guy. Meanwhile Mimori travels with Tachibana and the former tells him about how the captured Native Alters are sent to the mainland to be experimented on. Kanami cries her heart out over Kimishima’s death. Kazuma won’t. There’s no use bawling over a dead guy. Then his anger meter rises up when a HOLY convoy passes nearby. Guess who is going to be the target of his frustration release? Kazuma shows no mercy in beating up everybody. Not even Dars could hold him down. No mercy even for Scheris! Where is Ryuhou at a time like this? He and Urizane are looking for Kazuma and stumbled upon Kanami. Her reaction indicates she knows Kazuma so Ryuhou becomes mad and summons his Zetsuei to tear down the house just to find him. Not there. Just like Kazuma, he is going to show no mercy to a little girl. What’s with these people blinded with rage? He gets a distress call from Scheris and realizes Kazuma has been beating HOLY up and thinks he is playing dirty. Likewise, Kazuma hears Kanami’s voice in the background and thinks Ryuhou is also hitting below the belt. Just great. Two even madder guys. They return to their respective spots to find the ladies okay. Then they finally face off. This is getting personal. Yeah. Expect a great big power fight. Two guys exuding lots of anger. Two guys screaming out their frustration. Two guys letting loose their wild power on each other. Just epic. So epic that the devastating shock can be felt for several kilometre radius. Kazuma finally powers up with his new Shell Bullet. So powerful that it is going to change the landscape of Lost Ground. Everyone has to run for cover. Ryuhou must be one popular guy because Scheris and Mimori are calling out for him and can’t let him die. Too bad they’re taken away by Urizane and Tachibana-Cougar respectively. However the Shell Bullet suddenly disintegrates. Ryuhou and Kazuma find themselves in some suspended animation. When Ryuhou sees the black Alter behind Kazuma, he gets worked up and prepares to charge. Mad all over again. So mad that his power starts changing the landscape of Lost Ground! It destroys everything, cuts all communications and transport. There is no more order. Zigmarl is in a panic. What is he going to do? In the aftermath, it seems there are lots of ‘spikey mountains’ emerged from Lost Ground and it is reported yesterday’s energy release registered 8.5 on the Richter scale. It’s like Apocalypse.

Episode 14: Kyouji Mujo
Ryuhou and Kazuma are confirmed missing. Cougar thinks that vortex of light is some sort of portal to the other side. He heard there’s some other force associated with Alters created but it seems the difference between the powers Alter users has to do with how it is connected to that force. The refugees of Lost Ground including Kanami are being made to do hard labour by an oppressive Alter user. Kanami needs to stay strong but sometimes can’t help break down whenever she thinks about Kazuma. She wants to see him. Zigmarl is being grilled by his higher ups about the recent incident although the city was somewhat spared from its rocky formation. Till Kyouji Mujo, a special advisor from the mainland waltzes in and chides them they should be discussing about the future than what has already happened. He takes charge of HOLD and HOLY and takes Zigmarl with him for a private chat. Mujo has already sent all 48 of his standby members to the mainland and also brought additional Dars and some reliable helpers with him. Zigmarl learns that the project of producing Alters on mainland has already proceeded that far. He shouldn’t be looking surprised since he was the one who pushed for it. The oppressive Alter boss makes the people dig up gold and treasure for him because he wants to accumulate enough to get back to the mainland. He thinks he made a smart move by not listening to Kimishima because otherwise he would have been captured like the rest. Cougar gives Mimori information from HOLY that they have reports of an incredibly strong Alter user showing up in the badlands on the far side of the mountain. She accepts this ‘birthday gift’ and quickly makes her way there with Tachibana. Kanami sees an old woman being beaten up. Since nobody dares to stop, Kanami goes over to protect her. A hooded guy steps up before Kanami gets beaten. Could he be that person? When the bullies unmask him, he turns out to be Ryuhou! However he somewhat is a little amnesiac. He tries to reason with them but they think they are powerful and mighty so Ryuhou concludes they are evil and beats them all up. The boss didn’t like what he sees so he summons his Alter to attack. Ryuhou barely understands the Alter concept but he can only dodge for so long and gets captured. The boss beats Ryuhou up and tries to make him submissive. Kanami is puzzled why Ryuhou isn’t using his Alter power. Suddenly Ryuhou unconsciously powers up to free himself from his binds and even neutralizes the Alter. He knocks the coward boss out in one punch. And all his henchmen run away after seeing him get defeated. Some loyalty. When Kanami asks if he knows about Kazuma, Ryuhou’s mind suddenly starts hurting. Maybe he’s starting to remember that hated guy. Kazuma is seen locked in some cell as some baldy tells him to get his ass moving for a job.

Episode 15: Rogue
Mimori and Tachibana enter an illegal underground fight club out of HOLD’s reach based on Cougar’s data. Here, Alter users fight against each other while others place their bets. They are just in time to see Kazuma in action. However Kazuma is just standing there getting smack. All those who bet on him are starting to turn ugly. When he sees visions of Ryuhou, he suddenly becomes mad and his Alter power goes berserk. That’s what the crowd came to see. Of course, he won the match. Mujo talks to Zigmarl about Kazuma and Ryuhou’s fight that causes a second uprising. He knows those who have seen the other side will have changes in their bio-data. Because he himself has seen it with his right eye. He wants Zigmarl to retrieve Mimori because her father is the mainland’s top advisor and will overlook everything if Mimori is returned in one piece. Kazuma is locked back in his cell like an obedient rabbit. A boy who watched the match brings his food. He praises his power and all and wished he had Alter powers like him so he won’t be stuck in this place. Kazuma laughs like a maniac and tells him to scram. When he sees visions of Cougar telling him about taking things by force and hogging them will only make him lose everything, he throws a fit. Damn he had to waste such meal… Ryuhou finds himself in Kanami’s care. However he doesn’t remember about Kazuma when she asks him. The villagers hope Ryuhou can stay here with them since many want to continue living in this place. They are happy he will do what he can to help. Tachibana and Mimori sneak in to talk to Kazuma but he is not willing to go with them. No choice, they leave since they’re not getting through to him but will leave the door open in case he changes his mind. Soon, that boy gets beaten up by some henchmen for somehow leaving the door open although Kazuma didn’t escape. Kazuma couldn’t take it anymore and since thoughts of Kanami filled his mind, he breaks down the door, beats up those punks, enters the big boss’ room to demand his money, show off a little of his power to scare him off and then give all the money to that boy. He wants to follow Kazuma but he warns him not to or else. Seems Kazuma can’t bear the responsibility anymore. The villagers are in a frenzy because they learn HOLD is coming here. Ryuhou goes to confront them. Scheris is the first to recognize the sole cloaked guy heading towards them is Ryuhou. The first to rush towards him. The first to know that he will fight them all if they refuse to back down and disturb the peace and stability of this village. Is this your beloved Ryuhou you know?

Episode 16: Sou Kigetsuki
Scheris sounds like a depressed girl who just lost her love. She tells Urizane, Ryuhou has lost his memories and doesn’t remember he is part of HOLY. She doesn’t want him to engage him and needs time to think. Don’t take too long. Ryuhou tells the villagers he managed to convince HOLD not to arrest them but they will still be staking out so they can’t rest yet. The villagers think if they can show how hard they work, maybe they’ll leave. Scheris soon comes to talk to Ryuhou and reveals bits about his past. Especially about him being part of HOLY and her lover. Okay, so she made up the lover part but she did admit it is a one sided crush. She also reveals how he was the one who picked her up from the streets. She wants him to return to HOLY but he can’t, seeing he doesn’t know when the next danger will befall on this town. Since ‘negotiations’ have failed, Sou Kigetsuki will now make his move as he unleashes the Tokonatsu sisters (Shouka, Chuka and Banka) to take care of Scheris first. Urizane later discovers her badly beaten up. With Unkei and his romantic scripts, the Tokonatsu sisters talk to Ryuhou and claim they serve his family. They try to make him remember even with a fake photo but it seems they are implanting fake memories. Any memories that had to do with Mimori are replaced by them and Ryuhou is convinced that they are his potential brides. They try to convince him to return but he is still stubborn. Till Kanami walks into the picture, points out these ladies aren’t human and takes Ryuhou away. Unkei is devastated somebody just walked in and ruined his script. Kigetsuki is devastated someone is able to see past his marionettes that he has so perfectly created.

That night, they knock out Kanami and resume their revised plan. Unkei has Ryuhou date the Tokonatsu sisters which end up in marriage (all 3 of them). Then he wants Ryuhou to show his power. Ryuhou emits that bright light only seen from the other side. However Ryuhou sees Kazuma telling him off this isn’t the guy he knows and snaps out. This causes Unkei and Kigetsuki’s power to go haywire. Ryuhou has his memories returned and he is not happy that they tried to manipulate him even if this was an order from Zigmarl. Kigetsuki’s arrogance pisses Ryuhou even more. He understands what Kazuma feels. With Urizane and Scheris coming into the picture against them, Ryuhou realizes these two have not been told anything. Scheris is so happy Ryuhou got his memories back. Ryuhou won’t leave this place and return to HOLY. Because he promised to protect the villagers and Kanami. And he is keeping the promise not to anyone but himself. Because HOLY’s will is inside him. He summons Zetsuei getting ready to fight but Unkei is left to deal with Ryuhou alone since Kigetsuki escapes since he has completed his mission of verifying Ryuhou’s whereabouts and power. So can Unkei’s paper script beat Ryuhou’s metallic missiles? Begging for to be spared won’t do since he is at Ryuhou’s mercy. Not even his script about his victory could change his future. I guess he can never be the star of his own script nor can it save his life. Urizane confronts Ryuhou and it seems the latter really isn’t interested in coming back to HOLY. Scheris too won’t return after what they did to her. But Urizane will return and report everything as he has his duties under HOLY. If he has any vital information, he will let Scheris know. Urizane part ways with them and if it is their destiny, they will become enemies the next time. Kazuma is at the airport trying to leave Lost Ground for the mainland with a fake identity and pass. He doesn’t want to shoulder responsibility for other people anymore. To his surprise, Ayase comes to sit next to him.

Episode 17: Ayase Terada
Ayase admits she once loved him. Now it’s different. Sure, she still wants him. His life. Together with Biff, they attack Kazuma and bring chaos to the airport. Ayase’s Alter power has levelled up so much. She uses her Noble Tempest to drown Kazuma in her ocean. Kazuma becomes desperate for air and uses his new move but it only helped a little. When the battle moves to an undersea cave, away from the eyes of the public, Ayase stops her attack and hugs him. She has always longed to see him. Meanwhile Ryuhou and Scheris continue to live near the village. The villagers who wanted him to stay reluctantly told them to leave because they fear his Alter power and just want to live in peace. Ryuhou’s promise to protect them on his own volition is what made him decide on this. Even if he leaves, there is no guarantee HOLY will not return here and the people will still not be safe. Ayase tells Kazuma about her time at mainland. They were used to solve the mystery of Alter powers. She learnt that Alters are born because a door between this world and the other was opened when the Great Uprising occurred. It allows Alter users to access and use those powers from the other world from a subconscious level. That’s why Alter users only appear among the newborn in Lost Ground. Due to this, the mainlanders want to get their hands on this unlimited power from the other world, believing it will revolutionize the industry. As a result, many were experimented on. Ayase didn’t because she couldn’t see the other world but was refined instead. Her powers magnified many times over. Knowing Kazuma has seen the light of the other world, even though he doesn’t remember, his body does. She wants him to come back to the mainland and open the door to the other world and use that power to change this twisted world.

Kazuma doesn’t like being used and refuses. Besides, he doesn’t know how many more times he can use Shell Bullet. Those who have seen the light might end up having some kind of hideous scar on their body. Ayase is doing this because Akira is receiving treatment so she tolerated all kinds of abuses for him. Since ‘negotiations’ failed, Ayase is going to defeat him. The fight resumes. Kazuma is drowning and resigns to his fate. However he sees Kimishima’s spirit who gives him a pep talk about giving up because he is the kind who won’t give up easily and fight till the very end. After 20 minutes, Kazuma revives and is back at full power. So powerful that he becomes Moses and splits the sea in half! At that point, Ayase has learnt Akira has died so she becomes disheartened. Since she has no more reason to live, she is willing to receive Kazuma’s Shell Bullet punch. Kazuma stops in time but Ayase is already breathing her last breath. I guess the heartbreak is too much to bear and the one killing her. Kazuma becomes devastated that another one bites the dust. So sad that the sky cries along with him. In his rage, he senses somebody watching and charges at Mujo who has been observing their fight. Mujo easily puts up a barrier to halt his punch. He wants Kazuma to open the door to the other world so that Ayase’s death won’t be in vain. This only serves to anger him and the more pissed he is, the more powerful he becomes. Mujo is overpowered for a moment but the light to the other world only engulfs Kazuma. Mujo vows to go into the light next time. Kazuma inside the light sees the black alter. The light is visible from so far away that Ryuhou could recognize it belongs to Kazuma. Kanami wants to go there since that is where Kazuma is.

Episode 18: Straight Cougar
Zigmarl talks to Ryuhou’s father about his son not returning to HOLY. He allows Ryuhou to do as he please and believes he is to choose his own destiny. Asking Zigmarl’s opinion on Mujo, he must not be taken lightly. Kanami decides to go where Kazuma is. Scheris knows he is torn between following her and staying to protect the villagers so she tells him to go after her while she stays behind to look after the people. Just promise to return. Mujo talks to Zigmarl and knows he is lying about trying to locate Mimori and even wants him to disclose Ryuhou’s whereabouts. Because carrying out the mainland’s objectives is his priority, he admits he doesn’t care about Lost Ground or Alter users. Zigmarl fears he won’t be able to stall him anymore and might resort to using Cougar. However he applied for vacation a few minutes ago. That was fast. Mimori receives a huge bouquet of flowers from Cougar. But with it is also the location of Ryuhou’s whereabouts. See how happy her face lights up knowing that Ryuhou is alive? Kanami gets into her first trouble by slipping off the cliff but thankfully Ryuhou saves her. Mimori and Tachibana are driving across the desert when they spot a HOLD transport. Suddenly they drop Biff and it is clear his intention is to capture them. Talking is of no use since Biff goes on the offensive and even surprises Tachibana he can break free from Eternity Eight’s control. Ryuhou and Kanami are resting in a shelter when they realize HOLD’s transport hovering nearby. Biff is going to take out Mimori as well but Zetsuei comes in between. You know what this means? Ryuhou is back! At least where Mimori is concern. Ryuhou tells Tachibana to take Mimori to where Kanami is while he deals with this evil (since Biff just attacks anybody that comes into the scene). Ryuhou slices his Alter into pieces but Biff escapes when he receives orders to do so. Mimori is so happy to see Ryuhou that she rushes towards him, spouting his name like a broken tape recorder. She conveniently trips on a little rock and falls into his arms. Ryuhou has changed. He apologizes for making her worry. Kazuma is trekking along when Cougar has finally found him. The first thing they do is to fight. Cougar is able to match his power and tells him he won’t be able to beat Mujo because he lacks a lot of things like passion, brains, elegance, dignity and most important of all, speed. Cougar surprises Kazuma by knocking him down with his own Shocking First Bullet. He tells Kazuma that the mainland wants his powers so they can open the door to the other side. Kazuma already knows that and doesn’t care. But Cougar lets him know more. Kanami is now with Ryuhou and that guy has already quit HOLY and is being targeted by the mainland too. All of them have their own path to choose and wants to know which path he chose. Tachibana drives everyone along when they see that familiar light. Could that be Kazuma?

Episode 19: Tokonatsu Sisters
The village is under siege by Kigetsuki and his Tokonatsu sisters as they are put under a sleeping spell. After Scheris deals with Dars, she is faced with Kigetsuki. He is disappointed Ryuhou is not around and reveals he is not taking orders from Zigmarl whom he considers a little leader of a little unit. He wants to work for a greater figure and is following the orders of the mainland. After Scheris mocks him (and his type of woman), the sisters restrain her but she uses her Eternal Devote which instantaneously increases an opponent’s abilities and causes pain to Banka. However it also causes much strain on herself. I guess Scheris is out of options and reduced into some damsel in distress, believing in Ryuhou and calling out to his name. Thanks to that unwavering faith, it is paid off when Ryuhou dives into the scene with Zetsuei. Before an ugly scene between Scheris and Mimori can happen (well I thought it would), Kigetsuki spared us all from that and points out all the villagers are sleeping in a building. They are used as hostage and if they refuse to cooperate, Biff will smash them all. First of all, they want Mimori to come with them and she has no choice but to oblige. Next is Ryuhou but he is stubborn. Even if beating up won’t change his mind, Kigetsuki orders Biff to kill the hostages. Kanami is distraught and tries to stop him. Suddenly Biff’s Alter burst into pieces. Look who is back? Recognize that Shell Bullet? Kazuma! You don’t know how happy Kanami is to see you. Cougar was driving Kazuma back here. Kazuma had done lots of thinking. He admits he was lost and thought those who ended up with him would end up hurt. That’s why he thought of staying away from Kanami for her own good. But he’s just avoiding reality and will never move forward. He has set his goal and will not waver. He will take what he wants.

With Kazuma turning the tables, the other Alter users also move in and defeat Dars and Tokonatsu sisters. Kigetsuki orders the sisters to merge into their true form, Burning Summer, a hideous beast that controls heat. Kigetsuki threatens them if they do anything funny, the villagers will die but Kazuma pays no heed and continues to power up. Using his Shell Bullet Burst, he shines brighter than ever and his connecting punch melts away Burning Summer. Emotional Kanami reunites with Kazuma. Kigetsuki orders the sisters to stand back up and fight but it seems they can’t. Cougar had to tell him off that no girls would like a guy who fabricates girls to like him. The ultimate blow came when the sisters couldn’t affirm his love. Kigetsuki escapes but Cougar doesn’t feel it is worth to go after a guy who only likes dolls. Kazuma and Ryuhou meet face to face after a long time. First thing they do is to punch each other. That is for not thinking about the villagers. That is for because he knows he can do it. That is for depending on his luck. That is for everything working out well in the end. Can we stop the fist fight please? Dars almost ambushed Kanami but Tachibana shoots him out. When the mask cracks open, Kazuma realizes he is one of those Native Alters. The other Dars too. Mimori explains they were captured and sent to the mainland and those with weak powers were forcefully refined. Therefore the entire Dars unit is made out of them. Cougar adds this is part of mainland’s plan and Kazuma instantly knows this Mujo has a hand in this. Mujo shows the video to the top people from mainland and is confident Ryuhou and Kazuma will open the door to the other world for them. Mujo then absorbs Kigetsuki. Mujo is also happy since he has lots of information on them and with this Alter power that can access a person’s deep mind.

Episode 20: Kanami Yuuta
Kanami remembers when she first met Kazuma. She thought he was a thief and gave him her bread thinking he would beat her up if she didn’t. However Kazuma tells her he isn’t one and to decide whether she really wants to keep it all or give it all. Kanami shares it with him. The first half of this episode feels like a flashback since we have Kanami telling Kazuma how she ended up with Ryuhou. You know, after the power battle that resulted in Lost Ground changing its surface, there Kanami was being roped in by baddies to do hard labour and that’s when Ryuhou came in to save the day. Also from Kazuma’s side, we hear him talk about his time at the illegal fight club and why he and Ryuhou became sworn enemies. At Ryuhou’s side, they are talking how the mainland has been kidnapping Native Alters to do experiments on them. They want the powers that is from the other world and that’s why they are targeting Ryuhou and Kazuma. Everyone in HOLY has been deceived. Now by sending in refined Alters, it shows they are serious in getting their objective. By broadcasting Kazuma’s rampage on Lost Ground was just a stunt and excuse to send Mujo over. Ryuhou knows him because his family once crushed him before. His only option is to go to the city and crush him because he feels the people of Lost Ground should decide their fate and not mainlanders. The rest caution him that they may receive economic backlash and start a war of independence. But what choice that he has? Cougar seems to know a lot on this because he was once sent to the mainland. He also went to the other world although it was just for an instant. Due to that, his body is messed up and if Ryuhou keeps this up in releasing his power, death awaits.

Ryuhou takes a walk and ends up meeting Kazuma. It’s good that they manage to hold back beating the crap out of each other at first glimpse. Although, their conversation is filled with angst. Kazuma will simply live by his rules. Whoever wants to pick a fight with him, bring it. Ryuhou will settle HOLY matters by himself and wants Kazuma to take Kanami and run away where mainlanders can’t reach them so they can start a new life together. Kazuma disagrees because he is an Alter user. When Ryuhou mentions his intention of joining HOLY to find his mother’s killer, Kazuma sees him as similar. They both do what they want and the difference is that Ryuhou makes excuses. So after all, are they going to slug it out? Scheris and Mimori talk. The latter wants to stay behind and work out a solution that makes everyone happy. Of course they have to touch on Ryuhou too. Mimori envies Scheris for being able to be close to him but she admits it is just a one-sided affair. As Cougar puts it, it’s such a tragic story. Meanwhile Kazuma and Ryuhou haven’t start punching yet. It’s like they’re warming up by insulting each other and are reminded how much the other pisses them off. Since they don’t want another uprising, they aren’t going to use their Alter powers. Mujo is watching them via satellite and he is not happy that they are not going to use their Alters. What is the point in fighting if they don’t use them? An earthquake hits the Lost Ground village. It is Biff and he has taken Kanami hostage. I suppose Kazuma and Ryuhou have to put off their fight and cooperate to save Kanami. Kazuma is one pissed guy. Don’t mess with his girl. Although Biff’s Alter is destroyed, he flies away with Kanami.

Episode 21: HOLY Eye
Kazuma is so angry that he’s punching and destroying, uhm, destroyed wood? While Mimori and the rest treat the injured villagers, Cougar goes to stop selfish Kazuma and Ryuhou bent on heading to the city to save Kanami and revenge. I guess the only way to negotiate this is via their fist which they understand best. Zigmarl realizes he has lost his access privileges. Urizane speaks to him and wants him to give orders to take down Mujo. He can’t since he feels this is for the good of all Alter users in Lost Ground. Suddenly there is a notice to evacuate Lost Ground immediately. Zigmarl didn’t know of this and not even Elian. Something is definitely up. Of course this is part of Mujo’s plan and ‘kindness’ to let non-Alter users to escape leaving only Alters behind. With Kanami as his prisoner, she will serve as bait to draw Kazuma and Ryuhou here. The fight between the trio must have ended in Cougar’s favour because brought the other 2 guys home even though he himself is badly beaten up. Later Mimori talks to Ryuhou and she is glad he has never changed since 7 years ago even though she initially thought she did. Ryuhou admits she is one of those important things he wants to protect. He wanted her to return to mainland so as not to put her in danger. He was able to stay here for 7 years because of her and his mother. Mimori hands him his HOLY uniform that Cougar brought. Although he is no longer part of HOLY, the uniform stands for all his beliefs. He puts it on but tears away the HOLY emblem. A missile crashes nearby. It is a video transmission from Mujo. How does he know where they are? It’s the satellite in space, HOLY Eye. He lets them know Kanami is in his care and he is at Ryuhou’s father’s mansion. Worse, he shows Ryuhou’s father who is dead. When Mujo stormed in and wanted to take him hostage, he killed himself not wanting to burden his son. He invites them all to come here since he won’t be going anywhere. Before that, he leaves them a present. It’s going to be a blast from HOLY Eye. Kazuma and Ryuhou don’t give a damn and power up to take HOLY Eye out. I don’t know if they’ve reached such power that it enables them to fly into outer space and destroy the satellite. At the same time, their power enables the door to the other world to be opened. This is what Mujo wants and takes this chance to enter the other dimension. He sees visions of Ryuhou and is still jealous he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had everything. Unlike himself who had nothing. That’s why he agreed to be refined but after achieving so much, he still feels something lacking. He sees the black Alter and goes into contact with him to receive an enhanced power. When he returns, he uses this power to absorb all the buildings around him to create one freakish citadel. He also has a pair of Elian clones as his bodyguards. Kazuma and Ryuhou got a free ride crashing down at the doorsteps of Mujo’s citadel. There’s no turning back now. In spite of that, they can still argue about who is going to save Kanami. Since when is Kanami their possession? I hope they’re not lolicons. Anyway, their goal is the same. Rescue Kanami and beat the crap out of Mujo.

Episode 22: Martin Zigmarl
Mujo uses Kanami to sense Kazuma and Ryuhou. And they’re seething with anger. Although he has no longer use for them, he is going to engage them for his own entertainment. Meanwhile the ladies want to head to the city thinking they will be of use somehow (why do I keep thinking they miss Ryuhou?). Cougar will drive them there (prepare for the hell ride) while Tachibana stays back to help the people. Kazuma and Ryuhou have disposed of small fries to continue their journey. They still hate each other but have this feeling the other isn’t that bad as thought and can be trusted. They part ways when they enter the building. Ryuhou comes into contact with Zigmarl. Though he admits he has a hand in sending Native Alters to the mainland for experiments, he denies working under Mujo. Since talk is of no use, it’s time to fight. Zigmarl for the first time shows his Alter called Alias. It has both body fusion (like Shell Bullet) and independent physical materialization (like Zetsuei). Its power is controlling air pressure so Ryuhou has a hard time using his speed or any other attacks to get near him. Zetsuei even gets torn apart. Meanwhile Kazuma once again squares off with Biff and Dars. He has no time to play with him and powers up his Shell Bullet to take them all out in one hit. However Mujo powers up Biff into a more dangerous and mad man. Cougar and the ladies have arrived. I won’t be surprise if they develop motion sickness of any sort after this. Zigmarl is disappointed in Ryuhou. Is this all he’s got? If he has no reason to fight, he’ll give him one. He explains the events that happened 6 years ago. That black Alter came from the other side. When it came here, if almost suffocated like a fish out of water because there were no Alter powers. It was here because it was attracted to a rare and hidden Alter power which is no other than Ryuhou. In short, Ryuhou is the cause of the events that led to his mother’s death. But at the same time it awakened his Alter power. Zigmarl yearned for that power as well as Ryuhou’s. Thanks to his hatred for Native Alters, his loyalty to HOLY has increased Zigmarl’s status and making his job easier.

Ryuhou is so mad that he was used that Zetsuei is resurrected. However this is not the power Zigmarl wants and continues to mock him that he is weak and unable to protect those he wants. How can he avenge his mother like this? So mad Ryuhou is that he opens the door to the other world. Ryuhou notes he never wanted power but a world where everyone can live their upright lives. When he returns, Ryuhou achieves ultimate power up by fusing with Zetsuei. Zigmarl is most impressed and doesn’t mind getting defeated. Kazuma has beaten up Biff and Dars so many times but each time he resurrects. Till Kazuma made one emotional plea that they used to live in this place and doesn’t want to fight them. Perhaps his voice reached them. Because Biff breaks away from his mind control and with Dars, they use their Alter power to kill themselves by plunging below. Kazuma is another upset mother. He’s going to get Mujo for this. Urizane and Elian happen to walk into the room where Ryuhou was fighting Zigmarl. They see Zigmarl now a frail old man after using up his Alter power. Elian is devastated that his father is in his state. Zigmarl is his father? Zigmarl reveals he is the first captured Alter user to be experimented. Elian was created as an artificial part of him. He wanted to use HOLY to create a place where Elian could live as a normal being but turned into a hypocrite instead by making him fight. Because their enemy is vast, standing up would mean being crushed in no time. That’s why he fought Ryuhou to awaken his power so they have a chance to fight back. Zigmarl gives his final order to Urizane to work with Elian to work this land. Since Ryuhou is not under HOLY, he is not obliged to listen to his orders. That’s why he is going to defeat Mujo. Cougar and the ladies have arrived. They go their separate ways working towards a common goal. Mujo is not happy with this little setback in his plan. He is going to get serious now.

Episode 23: Scheris Adjani
Scheris remembers how she was abused by her own fellow Alters. Till Ryuhou from HOLY came to rescue and free her. I guess that’s where the romance started. Mimori is analyzing the complex building structure, a combination of biological and electronic elements. We won’t hear anything further because Mujo comes into the picture and he wants her. He needs her so he can gain a foothold in the mainland to get everything. But he has to fight off Cougar first. Cougar transforms into his ultimate Alter power while Mujo notes he has not much time to live due to his many sessions of being refined in the early days. Cougar replies that’s why he spent his entire life in a rush and admits his love for Mimori. No matter how fast Cougar is, Mujo is able to dodge every attack and even grab him. Too slow? He absorbs Cougar’s Alter powers and gives him a taste of pain with his new techniques, White Trick and Black Joker. While everybody is lost in this complex structure, Mujo returns to his control room and orders everyone else to be killed except Mimori. Monsters are sent in to kill everyone. He is ‘complaining’ that he is not satisfied and wants more when the Elian twins show him Ryuhou and Kazuma still standing tough. Kazuma has used too much Shell Bullet that he can’t feel anything in his right arm. Not even pain. But if there are more enemies who want a taste of his Shell Bullet, bring it on. Meanwhile Ryuhou meets the black Alter. Now he’s seething with anger. The black Alter is brought here courtesy of Mujo. Ryuhou fights him but he can’t seem to beat it. He also can’t summon his ultimate Alter power he used to fight Zigmarl. That’s because the black Alter is absorbing his power. Mimori bumps into Urizane and Elian. They head to the system control centre and destroy it, causing all the monsters to die down. It’s good because it’s a pain especially for Kazuma who is fighting a pair of robots that keep regenerating. Scheris stumbles into the area where Ryuhou is and is devastated to see him killed before her eyes. Mimori’s crystal dissolves and she knows it’s a sign that Ryuhou is dead and turns into an emotional wreck. Scheris can’t let Ryuhou die since he hasn’t accomplished anything yet and sacrifices her own life using Eternal Devote to bring him back. The last confession. The last kiss. Scheris out. Ryuhou back in. The crystal reshapes itself and Mimori is very relieved Ryuhou still lives. But when Ryuhou opens his eyes, he is distraught to only see Scheris’ clothes behind. He realizes she died for his sake and is upset she used his life for him. Kazuma then stumbles in and tells him off at times like this he shouldn’t be holding it in. It’s alright to cry. Ryuhou realizes Scheris is really gone and breaks down, wailing and crying out loud. He’s never cried so hard like this since his mother died. It’s just heartbreaking to see him scream his heart out like that. It’s like he’s gone insane.

Episode 24: Fist
Kazuma also sheds a tear because it reminded him of the deaths of Kimishima, Ayase and recently Biff. Mujo forces the Elian twins to get the system back online but they got overloaded. No matter. As long as he has Kanami, he is still invincible. Mimori has Elian scan the condition of everyone else. He cannot sense Scheris and Cougar so the rest fear the worse. Urizane is mad and wants revenge but Elian cautions him they are not powerful enough to take on Mujo. Who else? Yup. Ryuhou and Kazuma are on their way to face that bastard. They see Kanami unconscious and wired up in the main room and Mujo is cocky that the duo have used up lots of their Alter power. But they don’t give a damn and proceed to fight. They’re going to defeat him. Mujo threatens to kill Kanami but Kazuma doesn’t care and advances forward. Because he hears Kanami’s voice telling him to fight and not to care about her. He is going to do that. Mujo summons the black Alter so Ryuhou will take care of this one and leaves Mujo in Kazuma’s hands. Kazuma and Mujo clash. The latter feels Kazuma is not as strong before (because he powered up) and decides to absorb his Alter. Surprisingly, his Alter power did not put up much resistance. Mujo notes how boring it is and finishes him off with White Trick and Black Joker. Mimori and co are trying to head upstairs when a pillar is going to crush them. They are saved by Cougar’s car. Where’s the driver. Don’t worry. He seems fine somewhere. Kazuma forcefully summons his Shell Bullet and he doesn’t care whether his body is at its limit or not because all he cares about is defeating Mujo. Mujo starts absorbing him but because Kazuma is powering up more than ever, Mujo feels he can’t absorb anymore at this rate. His White Trick and Black Joker had no effect and I think Kazuma cancels out his absorption power. Mujo realizes Cougar just snatched away Kanami and the Elian twins. Hey, he’s the fastest guy in town, right? Cougar wants Kazuma to take care of the rest of the things here as his last wish. Don’t need to tell him that. Cougar leaves Kanami and the Elian twins outside where Mimori and co pick them up and head to a safe distance.

Ryuhou is having a hard time with the black Alter as well. He realizes the difference between himself and Kazuma. Because at times like these, he is still trying to protect himself. When he decides to lay his life on the line, Ryuhou merges with Zetsuei and becomes a badass Alter himself to whip that black Alter. So powerful that not only he sliced the black Alter into half, he opens the gate to the other world and pushes him back to where he once belong. Meanwhile Kazuma has powered up to the maximum whereby Shell Bullet envelops his entire body. The final punch is so great that Mujo is sent flying to the other world! Ryuhou meet up with Kazuma but things are not settled yet as Mujo returns as a big powerful but ugly alien bug. He has got the power he wanted and is going to finish them off. However the duo are not cowed and this has Mujo starting to panic. Why aren’t they afraid? Because they don’t have his foolish pride and desire. Ryuhou gives Kazuma the honour of finishing him off since it is his turn as he has already put his past behind. Whatever Mujo throws at Kazuma, nothing works. He starts to get scared and tries to play psychology that if he continues to use his power, he will die. Didn’t Kazuma already tell you? He doesn’t care. And why can a so called powerful being lose to a lowly Native Alter? Kazuma may not have a last name or high position. But he has something he can be proud of and that is his fist! Now get a taste of it! Bye-bye Mujo. Good riddance. With Mujo gone, time and space of the place starts distorting.

Episode 25: Native
Kazuma and Ryuhou are weakened and in a mess. Yet they still want to play tough and won’t admit it. They could have gotten out faster had not been for their stupid pride. So much so it was Tachibana who brought them out. And yet they still maintain their stubborn pride. They both part ways to settle their own things. Ever since, the mainland has stopped all economic support. At this rate, the ever dependent Lost Ground will turn into a wasteland. Mimori thinks it’s a blessing in disguise. Because of the aid, people in the city have come to feel entitled of that support. In a way, Lost Ground will forever be at the whim of the mainland forever. Living in the badlands made her realize this. Ryuhou hoped to be independent within the city while Kazuma has always lived free of anyone’s interference. That’s why they were able to obtain so much Alter power. The mainland army general is at Lost Ground and discussing how he will take control over this place for future peacekeeping. He has his army of refined Alter users (Dars) to back him up. But he won’t get to do all that because Kazuma and Ryuhou start destroying all the mainland military to tell them to go back to where they came from. Lost Ground doesn’t need them. As long as they’re here, they won’t let them have their way. And so the ordinary people of Lost Ground start relying on themselves to rebuild the place. Not bad if they put in some effort. When Mimori is taking something from the car, she sees Ryuhou approaching him. Before she can get a chance to hug her love, Ryuhou has a request of her. He wants her to return to the mainland or else she will never see her parents again. He will stay here to protect the people of Lost Ground as long as the mainland’s attitude doesn’t change. Mimori won’t do that because she can’t live without him. That’s the path she chose. In that case, Ryuhou has also chosen his path. I guess it’s the kind without Mimori. She must have grown desperate because she starts hugging him and iterates how much she loves him. However he can’t reciprocate her love. What excuse will he give? Scheris. She gave her life to him. Heartbreaking, no? Anyway, he wants her to return to the mainland. Of course she is as stubborn as him and won’t easily go back.

Kanami is working hard in the farm when she is visited by Kazuma. Long time no see. But he has to leave again to settle something personal but Kanami is not pleased. She wonders why he is saying goodbye. Because of her awakened Alter power, she can read his heart. She knows he’s a kind person and is doing this so it would help make her survive on her own. Kazuma disagrees he is just a brawler taking on fights for money. He leaves but Kanami can’t say anything because she hears in his heart he will always come to her side whenever and wherever she is in trouble. She wanted to say she loves him but only tears come out. Kazuma and Ryuhou once again meet. Still talking tough about taking out government lackeys is their main job? Before the argument can escalate into a fight, here come those government bastards. Wow. They’re sending in a huge fleet! Heck, I thought it was some alien invasion and wondering if this was Scryed I am watching! Some dragon bird, lizard cannon and spider crawlies?! Looks alien, right? Despite Dars handling the fleet, Kazuma and Ryuhou show their might. I guess a large fleet is necessary so that they can flex their power and show how awesome everything gets wiped out easily. The mainland authorities are surprised that everything got eliminated. However they are not upset. Because they can obtain valuable data from this fight and since more and more Alter users are born on Lost Ground every day, they won’t have to worry about shortage of experimental subjects. They are going to take their time and not rush for results. Kanami is roommates with Mimori. She learns about the crystal Mimori holds dear because it connects her with Ryuhou. Kanami doesn’t need anything because she can sense Kazuma as well as Ryuhou. They are fine and still fighting. She vows to survive and become stronger. So strong that Kazuma will be shock when he returns to see her. Lost Ground people continue to rebuild the place. Elian helps Urizane with his watermelon farm (Oh God!), Mimori becomes a teacher while Tachibana gets a surprised visit from Cammy. Three months down the road, mainland’s interference seems to have decreased but that doesn’t mean it is over. As usual, it still feels odd for Kazuma and Ryuhou to be hanging out together as they indicate what they will be doing to protect Lost Ground. Heck, they even laughed together! Are my eyes deceiving me? I don’t think they’ve become good friends. Before they part for good, they have one more thing to settle. It has been bugging them since they first met and it’s the source of everything that has happened. Which of them is the strongest? Only one way to find out.

Episode 26: Dream
It’s the ultimate battle of all. Kazuma’s Shell Bullet against Ryuhou’s Zetsuei. Who will emerge the strongest? As they trade blows in this power battle, the more it prolongs, they more they use their higher trump cards to produce even greater power. The tide quickly shifts back and forth and so much power that it causes their own mini uprising. But both enjoy this fight and want more. Though Zetsuei is able to crack and break Kazuma’s Shell Bullet, it seems now it is no big deal as he can quickly regenerate it. Kanami and Mimori arrive, though the latter cannot fathom what is there for them to fight left, Kanami believes they have a reason. She uses her Alter power to telepathically tell her friends so Elian uses his transmission to make the fight available to everyone on Lost Ground. Kazuma and Ryuhou both have a very nice short dream. The kind that sees them living their would be ordinary future had their dead friends and comrades did not die. That’s why they are going all out now. They transform into their ultimate Alter form that envelops their entire body. To show how amazing their power is, it sends them hurtling into space where they continue to have a bigger blast. And when they crash down to Earth, they still continue to kick each other’s butt. There’s no stopping them. Mimori can’t bear to see them go on like this. It’s a man’s thing and probably why women can’t understand. Kanami even looks much more composed than Mimori. When the fight turns into some high speed aerial battle, it looked like fireworks. The little kids watching this are so amazed. Cougar tells them he knows about these guys because one of them was like his little brother and the other he once worked with. Cougar has been taking it easy and living comfortably in solitude but may have also lived out the last of his breath. Finally gone? His last words for Kazuma is that to go all out since he went clean past his limits and for Ryuhou to go back to Mimori if he has some spare time. Both guys finally lose their Alter power and the brawl descends into a brute fight using their fists, kicks and even throwing dirt. They’re like mad men so determined to win, huh? When they are able to summon a small portion of Alter in their fist, they finally let it clash with all they have left. Both have fallen at the same time. But wait. Somebody’s fist has arisen. Somebody has won. Just who? That’s up to you to believe and depends on whose fan you are. Many years later, Kanami has grown up to be a fine lady. She is still confident she will see them again. Ryuhou and Kazuma are still somewhere on Lost Ground, each still fighting hard in what they believe in.

With Great Powers Come… Even Greater Powers!
I had a feeling it would end something like this. The good guys come out tops by using all the powers they’ve got to blast away the despicable villain’s ass away. And then they had to settle their fight to see who numero uno is but the outcome will be not so clear cut because I believe there is a fair share of Ryuhou and Kazuma fans out there and settling for one would mean earning the wrath of the other. In my opinion, they both won, lost and draw. Say what? I know they only showed a single fist punching in the air but that is what we just see, right? Perhaps when the camera is focusing on this fist, the other fist had also risen in the air to proclaim his victory. Don’t think it happened this way? Well, they made it so, so that we could have our own interpretation and I think it is pretty fair that this is what I think. It is a draw because there is no obvious and clear cut winner in the end. They both lost because they didn’t win either as they have to assert so much power and get beaten up this much just for this final thingy. And they both win because they’ve got it out of their system, clear their consciousness, settled whatever they want and no other Alter users will come even this close to match 1% of their power.

It is quite amusing to see the chemistry and interaction between Kazuma and Ryuhou. In the beginning ever since they meet, it is like each time they face each other, their blood boils and they just want to beat the crap out of each other. They can’t stand each other and the only way to cool themselves down is to connect their fists. Well, actually you can blame Kazuma initially for always wanting to fight Ryuhou at first since the latter is more reasonable and calm. I guess when you have unfinished business with somebody who longs to fight you every time you think of his face and name, Ryuhou too develops that sort of short fuse Kazuma always have. Therefore each time before their showdown (whether or not they start punching and kicking), I always thought to myself and rolled my eyes, “Oh boy. Here we go again”. The problem of putting 2 hot guys with different ideals as the protagonist is that you can’t let either one be a lot more superior than the other. So there has to be some sort of balance and equality between them. Or else fans from both the divide will start complaining. I think. That’s why even though they hate each other’s guts to the bitter end, they still realize the need to cooperate and trust each other to battle against the greater and common enemy. You know what they say about the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy? Yeah. That. Combining their powers may seem cool and they are definitely an invincible combo, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to like each other, right? Thus it is also ‘funny’ to see that despite walking together with the same goal as the anime progresses towards the climax, they can still try to outtalk the other, trying to be tough that they are better and don’t need the other’s help and should just return to their woman. Funny, isn’t it?

Kazuma has never changed his personality and been the same from the start. Except for that one period in time which was his weakest and lowest point in his life. He tried to leave Lost Ground thinking it was the best decision for everyone especially Kanami. Then he realizes he was just running away. This isn’t the usual self he knows. Because he knows himself as a cocky, arrogant and selfish guy who gets whatever he wants using his fist and is not afraid to use them no matter how brute and crude his tactics are. Just fall short of playing dirty, that’s all. While such attitude isn’t a hit witch chicks (Kanami may be a different case), at least it shows his resolve to live the life the way he wants right till the very end. It is what he believes in. Likewise for Ryuhou, he has also become a stronger person with each tribulation. It’s not easy to live up to your beliefs especially the organization you placed your trust and goals turns out to be of something else. Your resolve would start to waver and you wonder if you can go on like this anymore. But Ryuhou remain steadfast, sticking deeply well to his beliefs and what he stands for all the way. Both men have sacrificed so much just to firmly stand on what they believe. That is why they are the only ones who deserve to yield so much Alter power in the end. So awesome the duo that I never really give a thought about the threats of mainland. Despite playing the waiting game, I feel that as long Kazuma and Ryuhou are around, they’re going to have to wait till kingdom come to collect all the data they want and still have no chance to obtain the power from the other world. Not rushing? Well, they can keep doing this for as long they like.

While watching this anime, I never thought it would do something drastic and would just pass it as one of those action animes without any emotional impact. Even if they had in the early episodes, it wasn’t to a point where it would move me. Then Kimishima’s death came. It was a real shocker. I couldn’t believe it. He’s dead. Despite playing just a secondary character and his vehicle’s destruction is some sort of a running gag for this anime, you can say I started to ‘wake up’ when he really passed away. Totally didn’t expect it. It was heartbreaking especially when you see Kanami’s face contorting worse than a wrinkled raisin (really!). Heartbreak for all lolicons out there. And that’s when it gave me a jolt that this anime is just more than just going to be punching and kicking with power to satisfy the action craving. Then they started killing off some of the other people from HOLY, including Scheris. Pretty girls don’t usually die, right? RIGHT?! How can the love triangle continue if she’s dead?! Hah. What was I hoping for? So much so I thought everybody else in the end would just die and all that would be left are Kazuma and Ryuhou since they are too awesome for death.

Cougar’s inability to get people’s name right is also another running gag of the series. However it feels like perhaps he is doing this on purpose. There are a handful of times whereby he gets their name correct. But too often he mispronounces Mimori’s name that even when he says it correctly, she retorts him naturally. And she didn’t even realize it. She’s already come to believe that he will always say her name wrong, huh? Another funny part of him is how he talks so fast. It’s like he is high on drugs and trying to cram as much words into a few seconds. Theoretically, if he talks so fast, nobody could have heard a word he said because he would have already finished by the time people picked it up. To add another funny aspect, it’s the way he drives. So fast that it almost kills. It’s amazing that there are no casualties under his rides. So remember people, do not imitate him because speed kills. Aside from being a cool character (giving advice at times, staying composed when our protagonists can’t keep theirs), he is one funny guy.

Initially I never understood what Kanami’s dream was all about. I thought it was some sort of short recap from Kanami’s point of view or at least something she narrates about those things in a poetic fashion. It never occurred to me that she didn’t know the man she was dreaming was usually Kazuma. I mean, couldn’t she see his face clearly? Maybe that is because she never knew he was an Alter and even though he looked so much like Kazuma, it just couldn’t be him. Maybe just like everyone in Lost Ground, they’re just dreaming the dream. They always work hard to rebuild the place and then some Alter user or HOLY guys come to destroy and cause havoc. Repeat cycle. It looks like the work can never be done, eh? But with Ryuhou and Kazuma protecting the lands, I’m sure that this time they can pick up the pieces at a faster rate.

The other characters (at least those who survived in the end) felt just like they lack any impact. Mainly it is because as the series is progressing its climax, Kazuma and Ryuhou are given a lot of the attention and spotlight. Those other characters feel like bumming around like Mimori who refused to head back to the mainland is seen spending most of her time with Tachibana who is living his own normal life in the badlands of Lost Ground. What else is there for Mimori to do then perhaps to wait and hope for Ryuhou to rekindle her love? Guess that won’t ever happen. Elian and Urizane too are shown to be around as ‘proof’ that Zigmarl’s final wish would continue. Other than that, I don’t they would have contributed anything significant to the storyline. They themselves know they can’t because we have 2 biggest and brightest kick ass stars to save the land. For them, for everybody. Kazuma is a habitual offender of running away from work and thus I think the reason why Kanami is always yearning to see him. So for the second half of the anime, Kanami is somewhat like somebody who wants to go see him badly. Yeah, that’s what I felt her role has turned into. Every chance she gets feels like a rare moment. Now that she’s grown up, can she wait for more years for him to return? Keep believing. Keep dreaming.

The action bits are rather okay since we get to see some Alter users using their weird Alters to do battle. Although many of them involve Kazuma and/or Ryuhou. They are the stars of this show, right? Sometimes it might get tiring to see Kazuma and Ryuhou to pull off the same move but as they power up, we get to see them do a bit more variety. I mean, what else can Shell Bullet do except to execute some powerful punches? What more can Zetsuei do besides swinging its tail and shoot projectiles out of its arms? So that’s why I guessed they make their clash each time to be super epic. You can expect no less than some exaggerated showdown between the duo and it feels like the more and longer they fight, there is a possibility of changing the shape of the entire world. I even think that they can even destroy Earth and despite our blue planet being totally annihilated, they will still continue to fight in outer space. As proven they can. Really. I don’t think God can even stop them. Because they’ll beat Him up first for interrupting their holy fight. Haha!

The romance felt like a little distraction and wasn’t something this anime would have and could be done away with. It’s like this anime wanted to put in some of such other elements besides the action. But if there wasn’t such reason for romance, there would not have been any role and reason for Mimori and Scheris here. I have to admit that a deep part inside of me wants to see who is the lucky one who will get Ryuhou’s attention in the end. Maybe a little cat fight when they get a little desperate (didn’t happen, though). Too bad it was such a disappointment that he chose neither. Using Scheris’ death felt like an excuse. Kazuma and Kanami’s romance also felt no impact. Sure, it would be odd to see a grown guy having a relationship with a loli. That would make him look like a lolicon, right? So Kanami will just have to be content with Kazuma as someone she looks up too (heck, she’s shorter than him. Geddit? Haha!) and not someone she could advance her relationship with even though that is what she would have wanted. In the end, our 2 main guys’ minds are filled with so much fighting (protecting the land with justice or doing whatsoever he wants, whatever the reasons they give) that I think this is their first love. Such tragedy…

Later on I found out there were quite a number of differences from the manga when the anime adapted this series. (Please note, I didn’t read the manga but found out from various sites including the good ol’ Wikipedia). Take for instance the characters. Zigmarl in the manga, I thought he reminded me of Zettai Karen Children’s Kyousuke in terms of his age and looks. In the anime, he’s like some elderly foreigner. The fates of some characters were changed too. Scheris didn’t die in the manga and so did not Kimishima or Ayase. In fact, they were both married in the end. That was as I found out Ayase’s only appearance. An introduction in the final page. Urizane was a total different character in the manga because he is a cold blooded and merciless killer who killed Cougar! Kanami was a normal girl throughout the manga and never had Alter power to begin with. Elian and Unkei did not appear in the manga. Even the spelling of the characters’ names is changed. Cougar’s full name switched places in the anime and Scheris was actually spelled Scherice and Zigmarl was Jigmar.

The opening theme Reckless Fire by Yasuaki Ide is a great rock piece accompanied by some Flamenco-like guitar playing in the beginning. It is quite suitable for the action pace of this anime and gets you into the mood of the action despite some parts of the anime being filled with melodrama. Also, sometimes I feel that the singer may have sung too much that at times he may sound quite hoarse in singing his lines. The ending theme, Drastic My Soul by Mikio Sakai is also equally cool but is a slower rock compared to the opening theme. There are a handful of insert songs sung by both these singers and it varies between rock and slow rock. I think one of them had that Latin feel in it.

So it goes to show that in wielding such great power, it is either you get corrupted by it or you use it for righteousness. Those who cannot control it will be consumed by it. Do you have what it takes to shoulder that kind of responsibility? There was once a saying by Abraham Lincoln about men able to stand adversity but to test his true character, give him power. Now that I have watched this show, what is my verdict between Falcon Punch and Shocking First Bullet? Actually I’ve never seen what a real Falcon Punch looks like since I have never played F-Zero or personally got to know Captain Falcon, the one who uses this signature move. So I guess I’ll have to go with Shocking First Bullet and say Kazuma you’re the best! Do you ever wonder where this punch will stand against Natsu’s Karyuu No Tekken, Luffy’s Gomu Gomu No Gatling, Oga’s Zebel Blast, Toriko’s Nail Punch or even Ryu’s Shoryuken? Whoever is the best, I’m sure all of them will pack with a hell lot of punch. Not pulling any punches…

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