What in blazes?! The only reason why an anime for women’s pro wrestling is made is because of fanservice, right? What else reason do you need to watch Sekai De Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai? And to top that, they have an idol doing pro wrestling! If having your cute pretty idol sing and prance on stage isn’t enough, here they make the idol wear tight leotards and do some body slam into the ring. If that is not fanservice, I don’t know what is. Well, that didn’t stop me from checking it out. Hehehe… And no, this won’t be some sort of musical either. What do I mean? Idols singing while slamming and grappling in the ring. No, no. That is just wrong. That is so wrong. So let’s just stick to the formula of girls doing wrestling in the ring for some eye candy fanservice. Make that lots of eye candy services. Still want to know the plot? Who needs the plot when all we care about is the fanservice, right? Oh… I said that word so much. It just shows how much of it there is in this series.

Episode 1
Right from the start you can hear the screams of Sakura Hagiwara. The kind that may get you thinking if it’s pleasure or pain. Okay, so it’s the latter since she’s in a painful submission move from Rio Kazama. How the heck did she get into this mess? Sakura is part of an idol group called Sweet Diva and she just beat her fellow comrade Elena Miyazawa in total votes for the centre vocalist position. Elena isn’t happy about it but she has to show her good faith since she’s in the idol business. Their manager Makoto Kirishima has lots of other activities lined up for the group. One of them being pro wrestling trial lesson. Don’t ask. They say it’s a pretty popular sport currently. Sakura volunteers to be part of it but Elena doesn’t want her to hog anymore of the spotlight and volunteers herself. They are at the training gym of Berserk, female pro wrestlers with real strength and part of the Shangri-La world circuit. Elena learns Sakura volunteered for this because she saw everyone afraid of taking this up. She wants to protect their group and being together with everyone is a place she wants to be. Because Elena is fooling around in the ring, Rio tells her off for doing something silly to their sacred stage. But Elena laughs it off and this task will be easy. She gets provoked when Rio calls her naive and will take on her pro moves right now. But she is made to eat humble pie after a few excruciating submission moves. How’s that for pain? Because Rio continues to badmouth those bimbo idols, Sakura couldn’t take it anymore and challenges her in their next live match. Rio accepts this as a Cabellera Contra Cabellera match. Cabe what?

Thanks to that, the stadium is packed with people. Record attendance. Yeah. Sakura’s fans. Can they see their idol getting beat up? If so, what can they do? The match starts and it seems Rio is purposely letting Sakura beat her up. But it’s just to gauge her power. It’s that all she’s got? Now Rio gets serious and shows her what pro wrestling moves are. Here comes the pain! No mercy! She even makes an embarrassing submission move on her, forcing her to spread her legs open. All the cameras snapping away… Good or bad thing? Even after all that punishment, Sakura won’t give up. She passes out when Rio uses her ultimate Sleeper Hold move. Rio wins the match and because of that Cabe thingy, Sakura must cut her hair as it is what it was bet on. This is something horrifying especially for an idol to lose her hair. Sakura agrees to it since she lost and will keep her word. It must be painful for her hardcore fans to watch. Even more painful to see her crying while her hair is being cut short. Sakura is fine with everything and could take all the insults Rio spewed until she badmouthed her idol group. That’s when Sakura wants a rematch. She will train and become a pro wrestler and beat her. Bring it! A centre vocalist becoming a pro wrestler? This is sure going to make the headlines.

Episode 2
Sakura is bent on going pro to win against Rio for she has stepped on the pride of Sweet Diva. Who will be the centre vocalist then? Will it be Elena? In an interview, she still considers Sakura as the centre vocalist and will do what she will have to do. Sakura meets the president of Berserk, Seiichi Inoba and Ryo Nishihara will be her coach. On her first day, she is put through rigorous training on par with some of the amateurs. Is this Ryo’s plan to make her see the harsh reality of pro reality and make her quit? But Sakura won’t give up with all the hardcore training. Even when Ryo throws her into the ring and does all the advanced submission moves and chokes on her. Ryo is impressed with her determination and feels she might have more potential than Misaki Toyoda. The training continues (including cleaning toilets) and although Ryo and Misaki report she has made some good physical progress, she doesn’t know the true face of pro wrestling yet. It is perhaps why she is fearless and may be blind stubbornness. It’s time to give her a test. For Sakura to make her ring debut, she needs to withstand 100 throws from 10 wrestlers! That’s what you call the Hell of 100 Throws, a Berserk special. The first throw is already a killer. 99 more to go… With each throw, Sakura gets back up, impressing the other wrestlers. They never thought she would make it this far. Rio is the last wrestler for the final 10 throws. Every pain decreases her energy and she is on the verge of blacking out. Finally on the last throw, it seems Sakura is knocked out. The rest tell her to get up or else it won’t count. And what do you know? She gets up. So now are you impressed? This settles it. Sakura will make her pro debut. Ryo knows Rio did not give it all in her last slam and held back. Why? She needs Sakura to turn pro so she can settle it all. Sakura’s first opponent will be Chinatsu Suzumoto, a second year wrestler and a promising one. Sakura puts all that she has learnt into the ring but she got caught off-guard and ended up in a Boston Crab move. It hurts so much that she could die and had no choice but to give up. Chinatsu takes the win and despite the bitter lost, both girls had fun (was Sakura? She was particularly screaming) and hope to fight each other again. Sakura’s loyal fans also cheer on her since she is way better than last time.

Episode 3
Although Sakura enters more matches, she has been on a losing streak. Yeah. 10 straight losses. To a point where her fans gave up on her. So much about their loyalty. There are only 3 of them left by the way. They too start to have doubts about her because she seems different than her days in Sweet Diva. All she ever does is give up. And so there is only 1 fan left… Would you believe it, 45 straight losses! And it’s the same move every time! Boston Crab! WTF?! So predictable! Boring as hell! Can you blame the people for booing at her and telling her to quit? Even her lone fan is made to shut up. The sell out match between challenger Yumbo Yamamoto and defending champion Misaki will decide the BWQ title. True to her looks, Yumbo plays dirty and although I am not knowledgeable in wrestling, is it legal to have her underlings enter the ring to help out? I know referees are useless but look at this one, in addition to slamming objects on her (which I believe is the ‘norm’ in WWE matches), they even use a rope to strangle her?! Or even a wooden sword?! Is this even legal?! But what Sakura sees in Misaki’s eyes is that she never gave up. After all that punishment, Misaki turns the tables. I don’t know why Sakura and the other Berserk girls didn’t do this earlier, because they should have just entered the ring and restrain all of Yumbo’s underlings. Doing so seals Misaki’s victory. Sakura is motivated to become like her. However… Despite Sweet Diva making big waves, it is still the same for Sakura. More painful losses by giving up. With 50 straight losses, she has broke the team’s new record and given a whole new meaning to the biggest loser. This has her reflect if she should just quit. But if she does, will her fans accept her back? It’s like she is running away. Where will she go if she quits pro wrestling? Next day, she is about to hand her resignation to the president but Misaki is outside and knows what is going on. She wants to spar with Sakura tonight. The duo alone begin their sparring and Sakura knows she can’t beat Misaki with strength and tries some grapple techniques. However Misaki easily gets out and grapples Sakura with the same move but with more pain. After every grapple and submission move, here comes the dreaded Boston Crab. Oh God. Not again. This is the most painful one. Sakura gives up but Misaki tells her there is no such thing as that here. They are the only ones around. No spectators, no referees. So it’s up to her to think how to get out of this if she doesn’t want her hip bones to break. Looks like the pain will continue…

Episode 4
Reporter Kanae Fujishita sees Misaki’s secret training. Misaki even gives Sakura hints to use her upper body strength to move. Move, damn it! It might seem a big relief when Misaki releases one of her leg but the Single Leg Boston Crab is double lethal as the opponent piles more pressure. But this gives Sakura a fighting chance to use her body to move to the ropes. It took a lot of screaming and yelling till Sakura finally firmly grabbing the ropes. The pain is finally over. Misaki gives her a pep talk about strength and pro wrestling. If she cries and gives up just after this much, she isn’t fit to be a wrestler. At the rate she’s going, she doesn’t qualify, right? Today’s lesson should teach her something and it also shows that she can also do it. Once she’s done it, she should be able to understand some things. Misaki then takes her resignation letter and will keep it for now. Kanae talks to Misaki about her personal training. They know she has talent but her title as idol makes her stand out too much and might be brought down by extreme bashing before she could reach her potential. If that happens, it just shows her calibre as an athlete. So in Sakura’s next match. Again… Boston Crab… You’ve got to be kidding me. The audience are pissed. They want their money back. Give up now and save them the pain! At times Sakura wanted to really give up but remembering Misaki’s words, she makes her way to the ropes. This surprises the audience and suddenly they start cheering for her! The support gives Sakura the much needed power to grab the ropes. But it’s not over. The opponent does a few more painful slams. But Sakura doesn’t give up. In the end, Sakura lost but hey, at least it’s not the Boston Crab. The amazing thing is that everybody starts cheering for Sakura! Finally, something different! Right after the match, Sakura wants Misaki to teach her to become a pro wrestling. Sure. Just prepare yourself for hell training. Right now? Yes. You’ve been warned…

Episode 5
Since Sakura is away doing pro wrestling, Sweet Diva takes another national vote to fill in the centre vocalist position. Elena wins by a mile but she is still not satisfied. Because it feels she has not beaten Sakura. Sakura’s training continues and you can see some improvements. Sakura experiences her first match from an opposing team. They use dirty tricks. Although Sakura is wiser this time (even giving her opponent the Boston Crab move), they use dirty tricks and illegal moves to slow her down. In the end, Sakura loses out on victory by a whisker. At least her fans are back to support her. But there is another good news: Her revenge match with Rio is arranged. Sakura ponders that she has trained so much and gotten stronger, why can’t she win once? Yeah. She already lost 65 times straight! Misaki advises that she lacks her own special move. How do you learn that? Well, duh! You have to find it yourself. Copying others would be a no-no too. This special move thingy has Sakura preoccupied. So much so her comrades become ‘guinea pigs’ as she tests out her special move. And that was just a casual greeting. Caught by surprise? One night thinking at the park, Sakura is surprised to see Elena. It has been a long time and they catch up on stuffs. Sakura is more worried if she can put up a good fight with Rio rather than coming back to Sweet Diva if she wins. Elena prefers her to smile so she starts dancing like they used too. Sakura joins in and then it hit her. She got an idea for her special move. The days draw closer to the revenge match. Kanae interviews Rio who brushes off Sakura as some loser stalking her forever. Sakura continues her training which I would like to say the scenes bring back uncanny resemblance to Rocky… On the night of the revenge match, the stadium is packed. Probably even more than the concert of Sweet Diva. Sakura’s Sweet Diva girls are here to support her as well as her fans. Time for the showdown.

Episode 6
At first Sakura seems to be doing great at first but she gets tricked by Rio. She does her favourite Boston Crab on her and wants to beat her this way. Sakura is able to grab the ropes but this only gives her temporary reprieve. Because Rio once again does the Boston Crab on her and this time she blocks her movements so she won’t move so easily. Sakura won’t give up despite the tremendous pain. How could she when the entire stadium is cheering her name. Sakura is able to head for the ropes and break free. Since Boston Crab won’t work anymore, Rio does her Sleeper Hold move. I’m not sure if Sakura really did pass out there or was just feigning because she comes back to live and struggles like hell to break free of her stranglehold. Rio purposely doesn’t end the match so she could slam more pain into her. Just as Rio is about to jump and finish her off, Sakura rolls away so Rio bears the pain of slamming herself into the ground. Sakura begins her counter attack and pays back Rio with a Boston Crab move! Give up? Not quite. It’s going to take more than that. Sakura even uses the Sleeper Hold move back on her. After a few more slams, Rio is getting serious not to lose and smacks her flat out. But Rio also collapses as she has taken in lots of slam. Will it be double KO? Not quite. Not when the crowd is calling for Sakura and the loudest one has to be Elena screaming her name. With both wrestlers back up, it’s time for Sakura to do her special move. She gets into an idol position that her fans instantly recognize. Rio charges but misses because Sakura ducks. Then she does a flip kick somersault! The hard double kick on Rio’s jaw knocks her out!!! For the first time, Sakura wins! The 66th match breaks her losing streak! Hearing everyone calling her name felt good, eh? Rio admits defeat and that Sakura has become stronger. But now that she has achieved her goal of beating her, what are her plans now? After Sakura’s short speech of why she took wrestling up to avenge her friend, blah, blah, blah, the journey made her realize she wants to keep winning and get stronger. She loves pro wrestling and wants to continue! This doesn’t sit well with some of her surprised fans and especially her Sweet Diva members. Does this mean she is not coming back? The hardest hit has got to be Elena. She’s really heartbroken, crying… Rio and Sakura shake hands, renew their rival-cum-friendship of the ring.

Episode 7
The world number wrestler, Jackal Tojo returns to Japan. To commemorate this special event, a special match between her and Misaki is scheduled. There is also a Rookie All Star Match that Jackal is interested to watch to see what new rough diamonds have been coughed up. This gets all the rookies motivate to start training. Want to be noticed? Seems Jackal, Misaki and Kanae know each other. They were once wrestlers in many years ago. Kanae had to withdraw due to a back injury and Misaki was Jackal’s disciple. Back then, Jackal gave the same no-giving-up treatment training to Misaki that she passed down to Sakura. Meanwhile Sweet Diva wins some top idol award thanks to their overwhelming fan support. But of course, Elena isn’t happy. Sakura could have been here together. Although the shock of her continuing pro wrestling still lingers, the Sweet Diva members agree to support Sakura’s decision. Not Elena. She somehow can’t accept it. Misaki is in another BWQ title fight. However her mind is too preoccupied with Jackal’s words that she saw potential in Sakura. She can still overwhelm her opponent while thinking all that? Unfortunately she got careless. As she climbs the ring post and is about to jump, she slips. This one has got to hurt. Misaki is hospitalized for fracturing her ankle. She will be out for a few weeks and they can’t cancel the special match. Refunding will cause them to go bankrupt. Easy. Find a substitute. She will choose one from the Rookie All Star Match. Why not choose one that is more established? Because there are none currently that can live up to her standards so it’s best to take on an up and coming wrestler. Sweet Diva does the opening gig for the Rookie All Star Match. Jackal watches every match and looks like Sakura has caught her attention especially with her somersault special that once again knocks out her opponent. Chinatsu is supposed to face an opponent from Miyabi team when suddenly a mysterious masked wrestler dubbed Blue Panther (supposedly Miyabi’s ‘assassin’) enters the ring to challenge her. Chinatsu is overwhelmed by every move of hers. In addition, Blue Panther barely moves from her spot. In a matter of seconds, Chinatsu is defeated. Sakura chides Blue Panther for hindering a match that was supposed to show their progress. Blue Panther leaves coolly without saying a word. Jackal sees that fiery burning passion in Sakura’s eyes. She has decided. Sakura will be the one to fight her.

Episode 8
Sakura does a few drop kicks on Jackal but nothing that impresses her. Jackal begins her counter attack by dishing out a few basic grapple moves and several variations of Camel Clutch followed by deathlock moves. Then here comes the Boston Crab one and even if it hurts like hell, Sakura won’t give up. However it seems Jackal eases off a little so that Sakura can fight back. With Sakura being able to move, now it’s her turn to counter attack with Boston Crab. Even doing her somersault special does not do very much damage. It’s like Jackal purposely stood there to take the kicks. Sakura does Misaki’s special move on her but that too did not work. However the next move surprises Jackal. She does a variation of Misaki’s special move. Seems Sakura did not come up with this move on the spot. During training, Misaki taught her this move as she wanted to use it on Jackal during their match. Since she couldn’t she passed on this technique to her. Jackal might be surprised but she’s got a lot of energy to be pinned down. Sakura has run out of tricks so Jackal ‘thanks’ her for showing everything she’s got. Now it’s her turn. Jackal imposes some of her special moves like Piledriver, Bow and Arrow, Meteor Suplex and Finish Hold but each time whenever Sakura is about to give up, she releases her as if she wants to continue this torture on her. But on Sakura’s part, she still manages to withstand all the pain and Jackal is impressed that she is the same as them. The kind who can inspire dreams. Sakura is taken out with Jackal’s Super Galaxy move. I guess that’s it for her. Sakura’s fans must be disappointed that she came close to an upset victory but seriously, you’re taking on a world champion and survived so I think it’s good enough. Sakura realizes many points in the match Jackal went easy on her when she could have won. It is to entertain the fans and make room for her to shine. This must be the gap between her and a world class champion. As usual, the wrestlers have to make their end speech. Sakura’s reiterates her love for pro wrestling, wants to be the strongest in the world and vows to defeat Jackal one day. That day would be in the Shangri-La circuit if she makes it that far. Later Jackal meets Misaki and knows she thought her that move. Misaki thanks Jackal for giving Sakura some great experience. Jackal also learnt a thing or two. She was supposed to finish off Sakura with her Comet Buster move but Sakura broke through with her own strength. She went above and beyond her expectations to the very end and might one day surpass them.

Episode 9
The fight with Jackal was awesome. Sakura’s speech was inspiring. And thus that is how high school girl, Moe Fukuoka got so interested in pro wrestling. She enters Berserk like her own home and plays around with the ring. She doesn’t listen to others even if it’s Rio. So she is challenged if she can take down Rio, she’ll be allowed to use the gym however she wants. With a swift kick close to the face, Rio falls down! OMG! Was she shocked by the lightning kick? Turns out that Inoba is Moe’s uncle and currently the high school karate champion. She squeals in delight after seeing Sakura and wants to train with her. Sakura will be her mentor and will accept nobody else. Yeah. Overnight, Sakura just became a teacher. She gives the harsh training she underwent like the favourite Boston Crab but Moe doesn’t give up easily. She even steals the lines she wants to say. Meanwhile Jackal visits Miyabi and sees their top wrestler, Juri Sanada. She knows she was the Blue Panther and wants to know why she crashed into an official match. Juri admits she is that masked wrestler and her aim is to fight Sakura. After a month, Moe has the chance to make her pro debut. That’s right. Hell of 100 Throws. Moe withstands all the slams and Sakura takes over for the final 10. Moe amazingly passes. She wants Sakura as her debut opponent and since she is okay with it, I guess that pretty much settles it. However before that match, Sakura must fight Rio again. Since the score is tied a piece each, this match will settle everything between them once and for all. Before the match starts, Blue Panther crashes in again and knocks out Rio with Sleeper Hold. So effective that Rio had to be stretchered away. Blue Panther reveals her aim to fight Sakura because she isn’t impressed that an amateur like her can easily get into the ring. It’s like she’s taking pro wrestling lightly. If Sakura loses their fight, she must retire from pro wrestling forever. Sakura goes against Misaki’s advice not to accept it since Blue Panther mocked her Berserk pals. She accepts the fight but with condition that if she loses, she must unmask herself and apologize. So the fight is on. But what will be of Sakura and Rio’s fight? Because Blue Panther just fled like blue lightning and Rio is totally out. You mean the fight is not now? Can the audience get a refund?

Episode 10
First, we tackle Moe’s debut match with Sakura. As it gets along, Moe is using her karate chops with her punches and kicks. Is this a wrestling or karate match? This has Sakura review back what Moe asked her. She was asked if she missed being an idol. In order to become a pro wrestler, Moe abandoned everything in karate. She knows she cannot go back to karate and is nervous. She can’t give up halfway either. That’s why she can’t stop thinking if she did the right thing. Moe catches Sakura by surprise with some of her grapple moves. However as an amateur, she didn’t know how to pace herself and loses stamina, allowing Sakura to come back. At several times Sakura wants to end the match seeing Moe is out of steam but each time she is pinned down, Moe gets back up. It’s like she refuses to throw in the towel. Sakura finally knocks her out with her somersault move. Although Moe lost, she had fun. So did the crowd. They can expect her to be stronger next time. Sakura trains with Rio before her match with Blue Panther. From Misaki, they know Blue Panther is Juri. She and Misaki were from Berserk and always competed till she left to form Miyabi a year ago. In terms of ranking, Juri ranks higher than Misaki in the Shangri-La circuit. We shift our attention to Sweet Diva for a moment. After completing their nationwide tour, they will be departing for a world tour. Everyone’s work hard and excited but Elena… And so the match between Sakura and Blue Panther is here. It’s a match both sides can’t lose. It’ll be a shame if Sakura retires. I mean, Rio is starting to like her, right? Before the match starts, Blue Panther walks up to Sakura and unmasks herself. She doesn’t need it anymore because she came this far. Guess who? It can’t be Juri because she’s sitting next to Jackal. OMG! OMG! OMFG!!!! BLUE PANTHER IS ELENA!!!!!!!!! Didn’t see this coming, huh, Sakura? Can she bring herself to fight her idol friend-cum-rival?

Episode 11
Why Elena? Why?! She’s here to take Sakura back to Sweet Diva and find out her true feelings. If Sakura wants to continue pro wrestling, she must beat her and sever ties with Sweet Diva. Because if she doesn’t have the resolve, there is no point continuing. Elena doesn’t waste any time getting at Sakura like as though she’s her worst enemy. Juri explains that a week after Sakura defeated Rio, she felt guilty for making Sakura go to pro wrestling and wanted to experience the same pain as her. It’s amazing she managed to take some time out of her hectic idol schedule to train every day. She was so determined that Juri wanted to respond to that determination and saw great expectations in her. From that day Elena donned the mask known as Blue Panther and trained hard as she felt the only way to bring Sakura back was by her own hands. However up till now, Juri was the one who donned the Blue Panther mask when she crashed into official matches. Jackal feels how similar this tragic story is. For Sakura-Elena case was something that happened to Misaki-Juri a long time ago. Elena does not relent and goes on the offensive, piling the pressure to force Sakura to give up but she won’t. The fight even falls outside the ring (only legal for 20 seconds. WTF) and Elena doesn’t even hesitate to continue her Kneebar move. More Kneebar back in the ring and this scene hurts Elena more than Sakura. But the crowd loves it because it’s not just idol bimbos in a cat fight but real pro wrestling. Hmm… Idols duking it out in the ring. A treat or nightmare? Any more Kneebar moves will definitely break Sakura’s leg. Sakura manages to pin Elena down but the referee delays in counting which allows Elena to bounce back. Seems Elena is almost at her limit. Due to the lack of real fights, she doesn’t have the stamina and experience and the signs are showing. I mean, she can’t be going around to gain such experience if she’s going to keep her double life a secret, right? Now it’s Sakura’s turn to fight back. Boston Crab for her and the Kneebar right back at her. However due to her weakened leg, Sakura’s somersault move packs no punch. Just when Sakura thought she had Elena in her grasp, the latter slips from it and pulls off Juri’s special move and locks her in a Spider’s Web. So hard the lock that Sakura passes out. Oh no. Could she be done for real?

Episode 12
The power of Misaki’s voice must have woke up Sakura. Enough power to even lift Elena still locking her into the air and slam! The exchange of blows even continues temporarily outside the ring. Elena can see for herself why Sakura is strong. There is resilience in her moves that makes her don’t want to lose. Sakura once more does the somersault but this is not to finish her. She gets on the ring post and jumps. Elena is too weak to move and takes the full brunt of the slam. The referee counts to three and Sakura wins! Now that the fighting is over, it’s time for some emotional drama. Although Elena admits defeat, she starts crying she can’t let this go. She cannot accept things as it is and really wants her to come back to Sweet Diva. She can only be herself when Sakura is around. It is her dream to compete with her and make Sweet Diva the best idol group in the world. The fans are also calling for Sakura’s return. If that’s not enough, the rest of the Sweet Diva members are here too. Sakura, please come back! However this dilemma isn’t just Sakura’s problem as she has now 2 sets of fans. The Sweet Diva Sakura fan and the pro wrestling Sakura fan. Since she can’t decide, Jackal enters the ring. She wants Sakura to come to Shangri-La where her next stage should be. Sakura would love to be on the world stage but she feels she can’t cut off Sweet Diva entirely. Jackal doesn’t see a problem. Because she’s going to do both! Because being an idol and pro wrestler involves moving the hearts of millions and Sakura has what it takes. But can she handle both? It’s not the question of can or not. She will! Because she has things she cannot abandon, don’t abandon them. Whether she makes it half-assed or not is up to her. Not just Sakura but Elena as well. She too will do both. But what about the promise of this match that the loser must retire? Juri tells her not to lie to herself. From the match, she herself knows that she wants to continue and get stronger. With the fans chanting Sakura and Elena’s name, it’s time to give their answer. They’ll do both and give it their best shot to provide first class entertainment and be the world’s strongest. That nicely said, everybody is happy. Which means the fighting ring has just become a stage for Sweet Diva to put on a concert. How convenient. Sweet Diva strut their stuff much to the fan’s delight and Sakura hasn’t lost her touch as an idol. Few months down the road, seems this is the hectic schedule for Sakura and Elena. After every idol concert, they rush (in this scene, run by foot) to the wrestling stadium. Geez, can’t they take a taxi? To say, they’ve got lots of energy to get there, get into a wrestling match and then get back for another idol concert? Crazy! But they just love it.

Specials
What is the use of having such fanservice if you don’t take full advantage of it and put it into short 3 minutes DVD specials? Although there are 6 of them, I only watched the first 5. The first 3 specials see Sakura in some sort of special training with Misaki (and joined in by other fellow Berserk wrestlers, especially Kanae who is eager to enter the fray). Yeah. A blatant excuse to see the girls in fanservice-y ambiguous moves and positions and including bare tits. Heck, there is even some sort of history from the past how this training came to be. Special 1 has them in mud wrestling, Special 2 has them in oil wrestling and Special 3 has them soaking in a very hot boiling tub. I don’t know how such training can be considered to be the final steps in becoming a true Berserk pro wrestler. Okay, maybe you have got to respect them for being able to move and grapple in such situations. But then again, remember why we are here for? For the remaining 3 specials, it is a tag team match between Sakura-Misaki against Yumbo-Hornet for the BWQ title in a best-of-three-rounds. Special 4 sees Sakura-Misaki taking the first round easily before baddies Yumbo-Hornet owning Sakura with lots of pain and take the second round. And in Special 5, Sakura’s beat up continues but she manages to tag in Misaki to deliver the decisive blow for the win. Of course Yumbo and Hornet being true baddies aren’t going to take this loss quietly as they launch a full assault on the duo. Yeah, playing dirty but that’s what this kind of wrestling is about. With our heroines in a pinch, can they turn the tables in their favour? Although I didn’t see Special 6 (as it hasn’t come out at this time), I have a good idea how it will turn out. Unless…

Scream Fest! Fellowship Of The Ring!
Well… Am I entertained? As far as this anime is concerned, then yes. Because there are busty babes and some cool wrestling moves that kept me glued to the screen instead of catching myself yawning. Thank God none of the latter. So that is why in terms of such definition of entertainment as an anime from an average otaku guy like me, yes, this series has its fair share of entertainment value. I won’t go so far to say it has top quality entertainment because I wasn’t screaming for a sequel when it ends nor do I crave to see more women pro wrestling or the slightest bit get interested in the sport that WWE of America is so famous for. And that is so much about it.

My main gripe in the series (of course I have them) is the screaming. Mostly from Sakura in the first half of the series when she is an amateur. It was disheartening and to a point annoying to hear her screaming in pain but I guess when you are in that painful submission position, it is only natural for us to be screaming out loud. Sometimes I pity Sakura for being twisted into almost such un-human-like positions but that is what wrestling is all about. But the way she screams really got to me that I had to lower my volume whenever she does that or else my family members would be thinking I am watching some sort of kinky sex video. Really! I kid you not! As the series progresses, although Sakura still screams, it is more ‘bearable’ because I guess once you have gotten too much of the same punishment, you get immune to it. There is less ‘annoyance’ in her screaming like as though she has learnt to control it as a pro.

One of the best and interesting parts of this series is the pro wrestling moves. What? You were expecting me to say the fanservice? Hold on. We’ll get to that later but I want to make a point that the wrestling moves here are interesting. At least from an otaku who knows nothing about the wrestling world. As cautioned at the end of each episodes, each of the moves seen here are real so viewers are strongly advised not to try them anywhere, anytime and on anybody. Let professionals handle it. So you can bet that all the moves are definitely real and do exist and not made up or even go as far as some sort of super power magical stunt. Phew. I don’t know if that qualifies as pro wrestling anymore. Probably I was too absorbed in watching the wrestling (and mind you, not the girls) that sometimes I feel the pain too. Get what I mean? Watching the girls bend their bodies that sometimes would make gymnastics look like child’s play, at times I could feel myself clutching my own leg, hands, body, back or whatever part I could grab on while watching the pain of the submission move. The thought of their bones may break any time also made me mine feel as brittle and could break just by watching. Not even the fanservice could save this part. For me. The body bending was just too overwhelming in some scenes.

Okay, now to the fanservice part. Being a women’s pro wrestling sport, viewers would already beforehand know that there will be lots of boobs shoots and crotch shots especially when the wrestlers do their submission move, some of them look like ambiguous sex positions. Heck, you might say that every submission and grapple move is a form of twisted S&M play! Don’t you agree? Well, if you’re a pervert you might look at it that way. So if you are unlike me who is too engrossed in ‘feeling the pain’ of the body bending moves, you might be enjoying the many zoom-ins and angles of those delicious boobs and crotch shots littered throughout the matches of this series. Thus to make up for the lack of seeing girls in their underwear or a chance to get a peak from the Sweet Diva idols (you wish), the pro wrestling ladies here in their leotard should satiate fanservice in this department. I won’t say that their outfits are skimpy but you can’t be wearing tight outfits that cover every part of your skin, right? How are you going to sweat and let your skin breath? And because we already know this is pro wrestling, the thought of seeing the ladies in sexy (if you can call it that) leotards just doesn’t cross our mind since it is already given. Pro wrestling and spandex go together.

A thing that boggles me is the body structure of the women wrestlers. Let me start off with Sakura and Elena first. They have been training for months and to be a pro wrestler, I am sure that they need to do a lot of power training to increase their stamina and strength. That translates to bulging muscles, right? Even if they don’t look like the Hulk, at least there should be some muscles or small biceps that are visible. However they don’t really seem to have that making it feels a little superficial. I know they are idols and they have a svelte body figure but in the case of Sakura who has been training a lot, you would think to at least see some muscles on her forearm or biceps. Not only them, the other wrestlers too feel the same from Jackal to Misaki. In terms of this look, the only wrestlers I am ‘convinced’ are those with huge bodies like Yumbo. Now that looks like the body a pro wrestler. Oh wait. Sumo wrestler maybe… The only reason why this effect doesn’t seem obvious is because of the outfit. It’s probably the tight leotards and the way you see their huge breasts and cleavage being shown that makes the female wrestlers look like wrestlers instead of models in underwear. Serious.

Just another point to ponder. After Elena and especially Sakura who have taken in so many body blows, how come they can still maintain their beautiful face and figure? I guess that is why this is possible in anime. Or you can say that wrestling is fake (like WWE?) and that everybody is acting. But like I have said in the previous paragraphs, the moves and techniques are real that even I feel the pain. Unless they’re pretty darn good actresses. Entertainers would be a better term. So you don’t see the bruises on their faces and body after so much grappling and slamming, does this show they have done so much training to withstand the pain? Or did they activate some fast healing spell. Just kidding. Otherwise, I think viewers would be disheartened to see pretty girls having messed up looks. Especially fans of them. Who would like to see their pretty idol getting beaten up all over? Here’s another point to ponder: For the wrestlers to take in so much pain and at the end of it love the sport? Doesn’t that make the characters some sort of masochists and the audiences sadist? Also, I want to point out about the animation of the ‘audiences’. Yes, those unimportant extras just to fill the ring just to show us the importance and value of the match. It isn’t obvious at first but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that they are CGI. What is so bad about that? Well, it feels like there is some sort of mismatch between the CGI and 2D animation. Besides, the animation of the CGI makes the audiences look and move like puppets. It’s like unreal. It’s like lame. But since we’re not really paying attention to them, it doesn’t really matter.

Now to go rant about the characters. As we see, this is what happens to most of us. We get a little taste of something, the next thing we know, we totally dig this new exciting thing. The case for Sakura as she found her true calling in pro wrestling after a revenge match. So as not to displease the fans of both sides, they have her do both her new wrestling passion as well as continue her existing idol job. If you ask me, it sounds impossible although there is a slight chance it can be done. That will take a lot of energy (enough energy to create the universe, I supposedly exaggerate), accurate time management and one hell of a burning passion. The flame is still going strong in Sakura and now Elena as well. When Sakura first began as an amateur and made her pro debut in an infamous way of losing over 50 matches, many would have written off and lost faith in her. You might call her a dumb idol trying to be in a game she is not suited for but don’t you see? After 50 straight loses, she still doesn’t give up! This is the important thing which most people fail to see. She never gives up even at times when she is close too. Of course, there are times she really would want to give in but with a little push from her friends and mentor, she draws strength from an unknown reserve to persevere till the end. Sakura’s perseverance should be a lesson to us all about work and life. See? Who says this is a dumb wrestling anime with fanservice only? You could learn a thing or two.

I feel Elena was like being a tsundere. She really wants Sakura back but couldn’t find a better way than to persuade her via wrestling. I guess this is the only way. You have to beat her in her own game. Elena is like what most people will call a true friend and a true rival. You rarely get this nowadays. So they turned the final arc of the anime into some sort of Sweet Diva internal fighting in the form of an official pro wrestling match. Hey, it’s better for them to take out their emotions this way instead of those live reality TV footage of showing their catty cat fight backstage, on stage and off stage drama. Like we haven’t got enough of those lately. Other characters feel sufficient but nothing more about them like Misaki, Jackal and Kanae’s past or the past between Misaki and Juri. This season is mainly about Sakura. We’re here to see pro wrestling (with fanservice) and not some teary emotional drama? Sakura and Rio once hated each other’s guts now become friends-cum-rivals. Their third match is still unsettled. Moe somewhat feels like a waste of time and perhaps it is unfair to me to say that since she doesn’t get lots of screen time. She debuted after halfway through and her introduction just feels like they wanted to make a filler episode before Sakura’s ultimate showdown with fate. Perhaps she’ll shine more in the future. That is, provided if they make another season. In which, I too predict the tough and weird opponents Sakura and Elena will face when they tour Shangri-La circuit. Hmm… Tag team pro wrestling… Sakura and Elena… Has anybody thought of that for this anime?

At first it was odd for me to hear Ayana Taketatsu behind the voice of Sakura. She is fine with Sakura as an idol. It is just that when she was screaming as a wrestler that I felt weird. This girl who was the voice of Kirino in OreImo, Azusa of K-ON!, Kotori in Date A Live and even Fuu of Tamayura, screaming like that? I don’t know if I’m feeling discouraged or not. However I have to respect her for doing so because it is not easy screaming like that for half the time. Well, she certainly ‘convinced’ me that it is definitely pain (duh) in that position. Looks pain, sounds pain, must be very painful. Yeah. Duh. There are a handful of popular seiyuus lending their voice to this anime as well. Kana Asumi as Elena (putting on a serious tone like Kaoru in Tamayura), Haruka Tomatsu as Rio (putting up that hoarse voice like Ranmaru in Binbougami Ga), Kana Hanazawa as Juri (not in retard mode here), Hisako Kanemoto as Moe (no “~de geso” so I couldn’t recognize this Shinryaku! Ika Musume’s Ika-chan), Rina Satou as Kanae (sounds like a perverted version of To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Misaka especially when she narrates the next episode preview) and Eri Kitamura as Makoto (didn’t put up her trademark high voice like Rin in Kodomo No Jikan so I couldn’t recognize her and partly due to her limited appearance). Other casts include Chiaki Takahashi as Jackal (Nanami in School Days), Suzuko Mimori as Chinatsu (Sherlock in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes) and Kyouko Narumi as Misaki (Nasuno in Teekyuu). The opening theme by Kyouko Narumi, Beautiful Dreamer may be fitting for a sports themed anime like this one but I don’t find it appealing. Instead, I prefer the very idol-like ending theme, Fan Fanfare by Sweet Diva (that includes the voices of Ayana Taketatsu and Kana Asumi and the rest who voiced the other members of Sweet Diva).

It makes me wonder if Sakura is exposed to more of other stuffs, would she get addicted to it and find another new passion. I mean, had pro wrestling not be on the agenda and something else, say, motor-cross bike racing, would she have developed a new infatuation for it? Because if you think about it, just about everything from movies to sports and even books, they have a potential to entertain people. And I believe Sakura is a person who strongly believes in providing top class entertainment to her audiences. So in addition to pro wrestling, imagine if she has taken up tennis, a cooking variety show, a disaster relief and emergency volunteer, writing a novel, a leading role in the most anticipated movie of the century or even a stand up comedian. She finds all these are suitable for her and decides to go for all of them instead of abandoning them. Wow. I don’t know how she’ll manage it but I think she will burnout faster than an insect’s life. So many interesting things to do in life but so limited time. Yeah. Maybe she should consider going into the porn industry too and do some adult videos. Holy cow! Please don’t defile the pure Sakura!!!

I don’t know what people consider now as in this age as entertainment. Mixing idols and pro wrestling seems to be a dangerous combination. It can be both lethal and entertaining depending on how you see it. I hope this won’t happen: All of the 150 Sweet Diva members (that is the total amount of members including the top 5 at the forefront – I wonder how a stage is going to feature all of them) becoming pro wrestlers and as part of the after-concert, they get into a messy free-for-all battle-royale king-of-the-ring brawl. You get all your action and excitement from the singing and wrestling. Cute and dangerous girls in cute and dangerous outfits doing cute and dangerous moves. All in one just for you. I don’t think that would be entertainment anymore. That would be just sick. I won’t be watching this crap if it ever happens. Ever.

Because Ilya had very minimal role in the sequel prequel of Fate/Zero, so minimal to a point where you think that series could have gone on without her presence and that her appearance is just so that we don’t forget that she is part of this entirety of the Fate world, therefore a spin-off anime of her own was produced. Heh. That is how I came to conclude why Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya was made anyway. Otherwise, why do you need to take a cute half-German half-Japanese loli and turn her into a magical girl? I’m not really familiar with the Fate universe so there are lots of speculations to what I have to say, so please forgive me. I’m not sure even if this is a proper spin-off created by them or just some anime-only series. Oh wait… I think I saw the manga cover somewhere over the internet. Oh heck, I wasn’t so interested anyway. I just wanted to see if Ilya could be both amusing and cute as a magical girl. Aren’t magical girls so? And no, I’m not a fan of Ilya, please…

Episode 1
Ilya walks home with her adoptive brother, Shirou. She is not pleased that her sister Liz has opened her anime package and is watching it. Well, she paid for the postage fee, right? Sella the house helper blames Shirou for not setting a good example as her brother. Not only that, because he always does the housework, she herself has nothing to do! Meanwhile Rin and rival Luvia return to Japan after a year abroad. They’re not happy and keep blaming each other. Their talking Kaleid sticks, Ruby and Sapphire respectively advise their masters not to fight in public. And so it is inevitable. Rin and Luvia in their magical girl form are fighting above the city at night. They are going to use their Class Card but it seems not to be working. Their Kaleid sticks have had enough of them and start lecturing how they have ignored their mission and everything. The disobedient sticks renounce them as their master. Goodbye. As Ilya is taking a bath, she thought she saw something in the sky and turns off the lights to have a better look. It’s coming closer… Shirou then comes in thinking the bathroom is vacant. Ilya is totally embarrassed and ducks to hide herself. Ruby flies in and knocks out Shirou in his face. Ruby tries to persuade Ilya to become a magical girl but she remains suspicious. Ruby is sad that young girls these days aren’t interested to become one anymore. Ilya tries to mention she is the wrong person but Ruby continues to advertise the perks of being a magical girl. Destroy enemies with your beam or maybe use a love romance spell. That last one has Ilya reacted so Ruby is quick to guess perhaps her loved one is Shirou. Embarrassed Ilya denies and is about to throw the stick away but suddenly her body can’t move on its own. Seems a contract is formed via direct contact and he love power as a young girl acts as an activation key. When Ilya mentions her name, Ruby officially announces her as her master.

We see first glimpse of Ilya’s transformation scene. Ilya is not too pleased but Ruby is happy that little girls make the best magical girls unlike ‘old hags’. Seems Rin has found them and heard the sarcastic comment. Rin wants Ruby back but she won’t go back to her as Ilya is her new master. Ilya tries to explain she has been duped. But Ruby won’t leave Ilya’s hands. Changing masters is not possible without her consent. Rin slams Ruby to the wall. Ruby then tells Ilya to point her towards Rin and curse her in her head. Rin is zapped and this is Ruby’s ploy to bluff and show Rin that this is Ilya’s answer! She even puts words in Ilya’s mouth she won’t be handing her back among other insults. Mad Rin fires away but because Ruby has the best defence, Ilya is unscathed. Rin then uses a blinding light to temporarily blind Ilya and then knock her out. Ruby thought of escaping via this confusion but Rin won’t let her. However since she has chosen Ilya as her master, Rin accepts it. Initially she didn’t want to drag her into it but now that it has come to this, Rin wakes Ilya up and wants her to listen to this important thing. Blame Ruby if you want. From now on, she will be a magical girl to collect Class Cards. Oh dear. Even Ilya can tell the mess she will be getting in. Is this what being a magical girl is all about?

Episode 2
Ilya explains her real parents are busy travelling around the world. Now that Ilya is a magical girl, Rin starts her explaining. She is a mage and a candidate for the London Clock Tower chairmanship. She is here to collect cards under orders from Clock Tower and the one Rin has now is Archer. Such cards possess high level magic and very special power. In the wrong hands, it could destroy a city. This job of collecting cards is difficult and thus she was lent Archer and a Kaleid stick. Of course the stick asserts her right to choose her master. Till Rin manages to change Ruby’s mind, Ilya will be helping her to collect cards. Is this what she has signed up for? In school, Ilya’s friends can tell something is bugging her but what are the chances they will believe that magical girl thingy? But Ilya chooses to be positive since she’s already in it, might as well have fun. She thought somebody left a love letter in her locker. Excited? But it turns out to be blackmail from Rin to meet at the school grounds at midnight. Disappointed? Back home, Ruby teaches Ilya how to use her as a weapon. Twirl around and smile cutely? Is she taking her for a fool?! I don’t know cuteness is the number one offensive magical girls have. Flashback reveals Rin and Luvia were sent by a Clock Tower member to Japan to collect cards. If they successfully complete this mission, the Grand Master will accept them as disciples. They have 2 weeks to complete this dangerous mission that could cost them their lives and must work together.

Ilya meets Rin and after the former transforms, the latter explains she has detected distortions in this area. But the courtyard is empty. Seems Class Cards are to be found in a mirror world. Ruby does all the complicated dimension hopping stuffs to send them over. Instantly the Class Card of Rider starts materializing, preparing to attack them. So you have to defeat them before collecting it? So it wasn’t just a simple search and collect? Rats… As Rin’s magic doesn’t work on Rider, she leaves it all to Ilya. Letting her do the job, eh? Well, only pure magic can stop her. Close combat won’t work so Ilya tries to make some distance. Let’s say she’s good at running… Ruby tells her how to shoot magic beams with a swing. Ilya fires a powerful one. Rider takes a direct hit but it will take more than that to stop her. As Ilya gets the hang of firing beams, Rider easily dodges them all. Ruby advises Ilya to fire a barrage of smaller beams to cover wider area. Though it hits, her attack was weak. Rider is going to pull off some powerful kick ass magic so Rin wants Ilya to get back here to be protected by her barrier. Suddenly a mysterious magical girl wielding Sapphire enters the scene. She activates her Lancer Class Card and stabs Rider in the heart. Rider is defeated as she collects the card.

Episode 3
A familiar moronic laughter is heard. Oh no. It’s Luvia. Miyu Edelfelt is her apprentice. So annoying her insults that Rin deservingly beats her up. And yeah. They continue to let their fists do the talking. Hello, the mirror world is on the verge of breaking up and you still got time to punch each other? Leave it to Miyu to transport them all back. And they’re still fighting… Seems Luvia experienced exactly the same thing like Rin, the case how Miyu was turned into a magical girl. They call it for tonight and go home. But Ilya is surprised because this is not the end of it. There are more cards to collect! Didn’t sign up for this, did you? Guess what? Miyu becomes the new transfer student in Ilya’s class! So cliché. Miyu’s Finnish. There’s a vacant seat behind Ilya. She’s finished. Haha. Oops. Later Ilya gets to know Sapphire. Since Ilya knows nothing about the cards, the Kaleid sticks start explaining. Two weeks ago, the Mage’s Association detected some abnormalities in Fuyuki City. These strange magic is called Od. A team was dispatched to investigate and it was revealed the Class Cards were behind the distortions. There are 7 of them and 3 are already captured. Then they explain stuffs like Heroic Spirits, their different classes and Noble Phantasms which I believe Fate fans would understand easily. The conversation is interrupted when Miyu doesn’t want Sapphire to be seen in open.

Miyu must be an extraordinary super human because she excels way beyond an elementary kid in class. Her academic ability is so amazing that she puts up the most complicated maths formula on the board that Einstein could only understand. Her artistic ability is so good that she drew something like Picasso. Her cooking skill is so outstanding that she somehow manages to cook lots of world class cuisine with just a frying pan. Tastes so good that you want seconds! What about gym? Let’s say Miyu beat Ilya flat. No sweat at all. Do such perfect super human even exist? Well, there are magical girls, right? After school while Ilya feels down because she puts in so much effort and yet there is somebody who excels like a genius. Then she bumps into Miyu and respects her. She seems to have hit a nerve when she calls Miyu a fellow comrade. This has Miyu questioning why she is even collecting cards. She was duped by Ruby, right? What is she fighting for? Simply dragged into it, no? Because if she was serious in declining this job, Ruby would have given up. Ilya did mention she did want to do this because it feels like living out an anime or game so it’s exciting. Might as well enjoy while she’s at it. Miyu becomes upset thinking this is all a game to her. She tells her don’t bother fighting anymore and will collect the cards herself. Ilya is left baffled about Miyu’s offend and couldn’t understand why she got lectured. When she comes home, she is surprised to see a bloody huge mansion in front of her home! There wasn’t anything there before. How the heck did they make it all in just a day???!!! Don’t tell me it’s magic. And oh… Miyu lives here too… What a freaking coincidence. Surprise, surprise?

Episode 4
Everyone meets up to go on another card hunting trip. However they are well beaten up and had to retreat because Caster is one tough mother firing powerful magic beams from magic balls covering the entire sky! Luckily they escaped in the nick of time otherwise they would have been vaporised by her most powerful magic shot. They discuss their strategy and they think they’ll stand a chance if they can fly above those magic balls. However flying is a very advanced skill for magical girls. Say what? Then why is Ilya doing it so easily? Yeah. They can’t believe it either. How does she fly so easy? Simple. Don’t all magical girls fly? As Ilya trains, Luvia is going to have Miyu train to fly too. Yeah. Throwing her off the helicopter without a parachute! Leap of faith? Humans weren’t made to fly! She comes crashing down missing Ilya by an inch. If not for the magical barrier, she could have been flat. Look what a big crater it caused. Ilya offers to teach her how to fly but Miyu sucks. She just doesn’t get it. Or maybe Ilya is a bad teacher. Sapphire thinks there is some source that Ilya imagines that made her fly easily. That source turns out to be her magical girl animes. Miyu still thinks it will be impossible even if she watches the entire series. She starts explaining all the theory, logic and laws, quoting equations why it is impossible. I think Ilya’s brain is going to explode hearing all that. So the best advice to her to fly is: Don’t think, cast away your logic and imagine. I think Miyu may have a hard time buying that too.

The girls meet up for another round of attack. The plan is to have Ilya distract Caster and let Miyu handle the offense. Things start off well and although Miyu doesn’t fly, she’s like walking on air. Well, it’s almost the same as flying. A miscalculation has Miyu shot down, bleeding and almost killed if Ilya had not acted fast to save her. To make things worse, Caster can teleport so their blasts cannot hit her directly. Ilya then purposely attacks Caster to make her teleport so when she reappears, Miyu will fire all she’s got. It worked as Rin and Luvia finish the job. Have they? Because Caster teleported at the last minute and is about to unleash her most powerful magic beam. Miyu rushes there but can she make it in time? Ilya fires a magical beam to serve as Miyu’s stepping stone to cut down Caster. With Caster down for good, we hear explanation from Sapphire and Miyu about her air walking in which she solidifies the mana in mid-air and using it as her foothold. Sapphire couldn’t understand Miyu’s words of fighting alone yesterday but their victory today is possible only because they cooperated. She believes Ilya can be trusted. Rin and Luvia feel strange that the world isn’t collapsing yet. Suddenly they are done in by… Saber! No time to rest yet. Here comes your next opponent.

Episode 5
There are only 2 choices: Fight and defeat Saber now or secure the others and escape. Since they’re not powerful enough I guess the second one is the only option. Miyu will distract Saber while Ilya secures them. However Saber is not moving an inch and this means Miyu cannot unleash a bigger blast. Furthermore, Saber’s black mist aura is one powerful mother whether in offence or defence. Saber shifts her attention to Ilya. She almost got killed. Because of that, she is in shock just like a sitting duck. It took Miyu to come to her rescue. The girls are in a dilemma what to do. Saber is good in both short and long range fighting. They cannot defeat or rescue their friends. What will they do? Saber gets caught off guard by Rin’s explosive gemstones. I guess sleeping time is over. Could you believe it, even at times like this, Rin and Luvia can still trade insults. Please get serious. They go on the offensive against Saber. Miyu and Ilya end up arguing because the former wants to play the heroine to hinder Saber, something which Ilya is against. Ruby smacks them both and doesn’t want them to fight among themselves. The Kaleid sticks agree to this last resort. Just when it seems Ilya and Miyu are joining the fight, they actually throw their Kaleid sticks to Rin and Luvia. For that brief moment, they register them as magical girls again. Rin and Luvia are temporary magical girls and their power back at full force just to defeat Saber. And please, enough with the insults. Just defeat Saber. Luvia fires her magic around Saber’s black mana mist to dissipate it so that Rin can go up close for melee combat to lead Saber stepping onto a magic trap. Just a minor setback for Saber. Despite the constant bickering between the ladies, it’s hard to admit that they make a good team as their teamwork is perfect. Rin goes in for another round of melee combat. This time purposely getting hit so she can fire a blast point blank. But all this is just to buy time for Luvia setting up her magic circles. They’re going to blast it all way.

Episode 6
So powerful that let’s say a huge ‘waterfall’ is created in the river. Now with Saber out of the way, the duo can get back to insulting each other at full swing. Uncivilized monkey. Shameful sausage curls. It’s like they were waiting all night for this… Before they can take it out on each other, Saber returns! Surprised? She uses Excalibur to swing the most powerful blast ever. Let’s say the entire place is almost decimated and the ‘waterfall’ is much greater now. Ilya and Miyu are seen left standing. Oh no. Ilya fears they are dead. But not Saber. She’s targeting them. No place to run. No place to hide. Ilya is so scared (or upset) that some inner lock breaks. Then it’s like she uses the Archer card and starts turning into a badass killing machine. Look at those killer eyes… Hmm… This scene looks familiar… Unlimited Blade Works? And here we are, Ilya becomes the Heroic Spirit of Archer! OMG! She’s powerful enough to stop Saber’s blast with a single hand! She’s fast enough to go up to her and slice her up while evading her counter attack! She’s cool. She’s badass. She’s… Ilya? She’s got loads of arsenal. From firing her arrows and summoning swords. We witness a cool swordfight between the both of them and when Saber is about to use her Excalibur again, Ilya also summons her own Excalibur. The battle of Excalibur. Who is going to win? Obviously Ilya. Once Saber is vaporized, Ilya returns to normal and collapses. She narrates she has no memory of what happened. Despite Miyu being the only witness, it was hard to understand what happened. Anyhow, they managed to survive. As for Rin, Luvia and the sticks, they managed to bury themselves underground so don’t worry, they’re still pretty much alive. Although Ilya is unconscious, that event put her body under great stress. Miyu carries her home.

Episode 7
Ilya is sick although she doesn’t want to admit it. Sella forces her to stay home. Bored as hell… Bored to death. Hey, better than dying in the battlefield. Ruby turns into a telephone so that Ilya can talk to Miyu. Since their conversation is getting awkward, Ruby turns into a projector so Ilya can do video conferencing and talk better. I didn’t know such sticks have so many functions in them. To Ilya’s surprise… MIYU IN A MAID OUTFIT!!! Suddenly a weird switch is flipped. She wants Miyu here, now, on the double! In those clothes! Like roles reversal, Miyu becomes the timid one while Ilya the sexual harassing monster. Miyu explains that she is Luvia’s maid in exchange for taking her in and helping her collect the cards. When Ilya praises Miyu for defeating the enemy in the last battle, Sapphire talks privately to Ruby. She witnessed the fight and says it was actually Ilya who defeated Saber. She connects the USB (I would really love such magical sticks) and transfers what she saw. They wonder if Class Cards are to be used that way but are glad they won anyway. When they return, they see Ilya dominating over Miyu! Oh sh*t! When did she learn to sexually abuse maids?! After they made up and renew their friendship, Ilya’s sick switch turns on again. She strips herself and wants Miyu to wipe her body. Then her friends come in for a surprise visit. Oh sh*t…  Some kind of advanced fetish play? After everybody leaves, Sella is seen dressed in her traditional Einzbern maid outfit just to please Ilya. However she is not amused and ignores her. Frills over tradition… Yeah. Don’t deny it. Behold the influence of maid power. Ilya notes that even if it’s just a little, she feels closer to Miyu than before.

The girls are in another card hunt. As they look around, Ilya’s neck is suddenly grazed by a knife. Everyone forms a defensive circle. Here comes Assassin. Or make that, Assassins. You mean we’ve got to defeat all 50 of them? Ilya’s vision starts to get hazy. Her thinking starts to be less sharp. The bruise on her neck is getting worse. Her mind starts going crazy, thinking about blades, blood and death. She now remembers what happened during Saber’s fight. The girls make a run but Ilya couldn’t and collapses. Rin realizes too late she has been poisoned. The Assassins throw all their knives at her. Her friends can’t reach back in time to save her. Ilya wonders if this is how they’re going to die when suddenly that inner lock of her unleashes again. This time a huge explosion occurs. Assassin is defeated and there is a huge crater covering a wide perimeter. Miyu lectures her that if she had not put up the defence barrier in time, she would have killed them all. She blames her for being hit first, messed up and caused her mana to explode. Although she defeated the enemy, if it wasn’t for her, they would not be in danger in the first place. She has had it. She doesn’t want to fight with her anymore. Broken hearted Ilya flies away. The truth always hurts… And it always tastes bitter.

Episode 8
Ilya returns to school but her friends can tell there is an awkward atmosphere between her and Miyu. They’re not talking. They’re not even looking at each other although they sit close to each other. The girls are to form groups to do artwork and tell a story from it. Miyu decides to become Lone Ranger and gets things done herself. Their friend Tatsuko seems to be drawing horror drawings instead of Japanese folklore… Ilya is being forced to do the storyline although she vehemently declines since it’s impossible for her. She’s a normal girl, right? The Kaleid sticks also sense the tension between the magical girls. Sapphire remembers when she first made a contract with Miyu. Soon after, Luvia came looking for the stick when Miyu popped out. She will collect cards on her behalf in exchange for a home, food, clothes and a place to belong. Even back home, Sella can tell something is wrong with Ilya. Like she is hiding something. Liz doesn’t give a damn so Sella chides her sister and for not even doing a proper job as a maid. Yeah. And here I thought she was a resident-cum-master of this house. Sella warns she will be fat this way but Liz replies all her fats go into her boobs. This causes Sella to be upset and start a boob war. Eliminate all unnecessary bags of meat! When Shirou comes back, he hears about the boob problem till and thinks they’re talking about Ilya till he realizes Sella was the subject. Now she blows her top. Since Ilya still feels down, Ruby suggests her to talk to Rin how she really feels. Ilya meets up with her and hands in her resignation letter. Rin expected this. At first, Ilya was curious and did it for fun but after nearly dying twice and reflecting on Miyu’s words, it’s not so fun anymore. Rin understands and relieves her from her contract. However Ruby won’t pick Rin as her master citing she wants to choose her own. Fine. Have it your way. There is only 1 more card left to collect. Rin thanks Ilya for everything and hopes she will have a normal life. But Ilya doesn’t feel relieved. In fact, she feels a little pain in her heart. Of course Miyu is there and heard everything. She has no qualms of Ilya quitting. Ruby still sticks by Ilya’s side because she feels their fates are intertwined despite Ilya not having anything to do with collecting cards anymore. She’ll stay with her even if she isn’t fighting. Sounds like annoyance… She is sure there comes a time when Ilya will need magical girl powers but Ilya believes that won’t ever happen again.

Episode 9
It’s back to the simple and normal life for Ilya. Oh. Her mom’s back. Does she need an announcement to be with her daughter and do some skinship? Iri wonders if anything big has happened while she was away. It’s not the magical girl thing that she caught on. It’s that huge mansion across the road. Ilya mentions about Miyu who lives there and Iri would love to hear more about her. Ilya describes her as a quiet girl, good in everything and always like to do things alone. Ilya then indirectly explains the magical girl stuff they did together and one day they came close to losing. She feels she was completely useless and caused everyone trouble. Iri wonders if she was that scared to be blamed for her team’s failure. Of course she is. She screwed up big time and did something that cannot be undone. Iri asks if she is the only one who is scared and having a hard time. Miyu might not look like it and despite being good everything, being alone is always difficult. She probably said all those stuffs so she could shoulder the burden alone including Ilya’s since she was scared. Ilya then just realized. Why didn’t Miyu say all this in the first place? Well, she’s a quiet girl, wasn’t she? Ilya still feels scared of messing up again but she really wants to help Miyu. Iri answers that Miyu helped her when she was scared. Now it’s her turn to muster her courage so she can help Miyu. She is confident Ilya will do a fine job. With that, Ilya bolts out from the house to find Miyu. Without hesitation, she has Ruby transform her into a magical girl. Miyu, Rin and Luvia are fighting against Berserker. It’s insanely powerful and strong and you don’t want to get a direct hit. Worse, it can resurrect and heal itself. Rin suggests retreating and coming again another time. However Miyu teleports the rest away. Only she and Sapphire remains. She will take care of this once and for all. Because she saw how Ilya did it, she uses the Class Card of Saber to transform herself into a Heroic Spirit. Better say those lines fast because Berserker is charging in. Miyu slays Berserker a number of times but each time he heals to a point where Miyu’s sword cannot penetrate his skin as it has become immune to it. She will defeat him as long as it takes. She will not retreat because if she does, Ilya will have to fight next. And she already made it clear she doesn’t want to fight. She is after all the first person who called her a friend. Miyu loses all her mana and returns back to normal. Is it over? Apparently not. Here comes Berserker. Rising again. He has Sapphire in his grasp. Before Miyu could be squashed, here comes Ilya slicing Berserker into half! Why is she here? Because Miyu is her important friend.

Episode 10
Rin and Luvia are here too. They use higher magic to bind Berserker. I guess this gives enough time for the girls to reconcile. Ilya apologizes and admits she has been naive and foolish and ran away when things got dangerous. She wants to be by her side and fight with her. Likewise, Miyu expresses the same wish. I hope they’re done because Berserker is about to break free. Ilya has a plan. When the girls scatter, Ilya seems to be the bait for Berserker. Rin and Luvia temporarily blind Berserker with a blinding light so Ilya can fire a powerful magic point blank. This is followed by Miyu thrusting Lancer’s spear into his heart. Did they finally do it? Well, no. Berserker resurrects. Again. They’re out of options. Ilya feels hesitant to use her Class Card so Miyu is okay with that and will go on the offense while Ilya provides support. But Ilya casts away her fear and wants to do it with her. Thanks to her, she realizes that she can’t move forward if she abandons her friends. Miyu also realizes that there are some things you can’t do alone. They each summon Excalibur and blow away Berserker. Finally this dude is defeated. With all the Class Cards collected, Rin and Luvia thank them for their help. All that is left is to bring them back to Grand Master but Luvia snatches them and will claim all the credit for herself! Oh no. Here we go again. The real rivalry begins now! As for our young magical girls, they walk home hand in hand like best friends.

Ilya is awakened next morning by Shirou. She gets a little bold wanting a morning kiss and does it. Bad news: It was only a dream. Even bad news: She kissed Miyu!!! In fact, Miyu is okay with it and will go along this route if she wants. Before this turns into some loli yuri anime, Ilya puts her foot down. Thank God this weird fetish didn’t awake inside her. Iri also leaves as fast as she returns as she can’t leave Kiritsugu alone. She is glad to have watched her daughter grown up. Ilya and Miyu are running late to school. Because the Kaleid sticks are staying with them, they transform into their magical girl form to fly. As long as nobody sees them… In school, Miyu is so close to Ilya that it just gives off the wrong vibes. See how she holds her arm like lovers? Even her friends are stumped. What just happened? Yesterday they seemed like they had a fall out and today, it’s like they’ve been best friends forever. Could be even more. They are glad that they are getting along. However when they want to be friends with Miyu, she tells them off she doesn’t need them! She only needs Ilya as her friend! Who cares about the rest! Oh sh*t! I have a feeling this is going to be a yandere route if it’s left like this! Poor Tatsuko left crying like mad. Meanwhile, Rin has been told a devastating news by Grand Master. Although they have collected the cards as instructed, he will take them under their wing as promised. However there is another condition. Seeing that they lack common sense and need to learn it before they continue their magic studies. Conveniently they are in Japan, the land famous for good values of cooperation and harmony. Study there for a year and then we’ll see about it. I guess this is what happens when you fight too much. Now they’re going to be at each other’s throat again for another full year. I hope Japan survives… Oh, did Rin become Luvia’s maid?!

Specials

Those extra little episodes that lasts a handful of minutes when you buy the BDs. Funnier and cuter stuffs from Ilya and the gang… Laugh your heart out…

Special 1
In this segment, Ruby has Ilya and Rin as guests so that they can replay certain scenes and relive their mistakes. For her to criticize and have fun, no? The first when is during Rin and Luvia’s fight when they are still magical girls. Rin is not amused and leaves but falls through a trap door. Next is Ilya’s magical girl transformation scene. It’s very embarrassing to her but Ruby just digs this section and obsessing over how cute Ilya is. Isn’t this just bullying? Noticing the difference in Ilya’s and Rin’s magical girl outfit, it seems that Rin had ears and tail (Ruby’s way of teasing her). Ruby regrets not putting it on for Ilya and forces a complete makeover! Now we have Ilya in beast mode! This isn’t magical girl anymore. This is a pervert! Well, perversion is becoming more mainstream in Japan (so Ruby claims) and to stem that embarrassment, she has Ilya undergo some training. Posing in sexy poses for our viewing pleasure… You can’t fight it, Ilya! Go with the flow! Then Rin just walks in and saw the entire thing…

Special 2
Who wants to be a millionaire?! Ilya is just a step away from 100 million Yen and the final question is: Which of the following does Ilya have a secret crush on! Oh sh*t! How can she answer that! Can you guess? A) Ichirou; B) Jirou; C) Saburou; D) Shirou. Ruby the host forces Ilya to use a lifeline even if she declines. The 50/50 lifeline just made the choice more obvious. Saburou or Shirou? Ruby forces Ilya to call for help. Who is that Ruby has dialled? Her brother! Ilya smashes the phone and accuses her of doing this on purpose. But now it’s time for her answer. What will it be? Then she sees Tatsuko in a funny mask in the stand and thus decided. She picks Saburou. Is that her final answer? Yes. Unfortunately, that’s not the correct answer. She loses the money but if you think about it, the answer makes it obvious who she has a crush on, right? And Ilya is screaming like a mad woman denying everything. All the answers on screen were wrong! Everything!

Special 3
Sella is horrified she has gained weight! When the entire household says that aloud in surprise, only Shirou gets owned. Sella starts analyzing how this is even possible as she has taken care of every aspect, blah, blah, blah to maintain her weight. She becomes a strict Gestapo immigrant officer and will rid of this illegal immigrant known as fats. She undergoes extreme dieting and dinner has become extremely modest. Why do Shirou and Ilya have to suffer? Although she loses some weight and a few more to go, she even gets the idea that she can even lose more. But she loses consciousness and passes out. When she wakes up, she is told by Ilya that she misses her cooking and wants to eat her normal everyday cooking. She has rarely smiled since and that is not healthy. Sella is touched that she is thought a lesson by Ilya. Because she neglected Ilya and promises to return to her duties. So while Shirou cooks and they have a decent meal, it is when Sella realized something. Wasn’t Shirou on cooking duty for 2 nights in a week? Yup. He was trying out some Chinese cooking since he got a new wok. Ah well. Here is the criminal who made her fat. Sella the Gestapo punishes Shirou. Too bad about the new wok…

Special 4
Ilya is enjoying a good time resting in her room when suddenly somebody crashes through her window! It’s Rin. But in a maid outfit?! I’m sure Ilya is shocked at the developments of everything but care to explain? Seems Rin has become a maid to earn money. She was horrified when she found no more jewels in her box and became desperate for a job. She saw in an ad a high paying job as a maid, 10,000 Yen an hour! Too good to be true! Plus, additional 5,000 Yen bonus if she has certain traits. And those traits seem to fit Rin… Hmm… Without thinking much, she accepted the job and then she realized the trouble she has gotten into. Because she has become a maid for Luvia!!!! Holy sh*t!!! Despite Rin hating the job and place, she perseveres just to earn the money. However due to constant bullying and shaming by Luvia, she has had it and ran away. Before that, she smashed a pot on Luvia’s head! Oh well, kiss her pay goodbye. Will Luvia be alright? The phrase the series was infamously remembered for (a modified version anyway): “She wouldn’t die even if she was killed”. Oh God! Rin laments she needs to find another job although she won’t find one which is as good as this anymore. Suddenly here comes Luvia. She apologizes for being childish and should be ashamed of herself for beating her into submission. She hopes they will settle their grudge when they are on equal terms and promises she won’t let her personal feelings intervene. Rin accepts her apology and obediently goes back with her. But Ilya saw the killer aura emitting from Rin and Luvia… Lies? Not over by a long shot. But what she is worried about is the tendency of people to come in through her veranda these days… Maybe they need some sort of a dramatic entry?

Special 5
Wait a minute. A special without featuring Ilya?! How can this be? Iri, Liz and Sella are playing a modified game of Life made by Iri. Seems all the squares they land will either have them take off or steal clothes from others. Sella doesn’t want to play this and tries to leave but the duo become ‘demons’ to force her to stay in the game. It looks like the game may be rigged because Iri is winning while Liz and Sella are stripped to their undies. Liz might not care but it’s a big deal for Sella. Yeah, Iri just love this great feeling of being dominant. Sella laments all she wanted was a new frying pan. Iri could have bought it for her even if they didn’t play this game. That doesn’t sound related… But anyway Iri wins the game and the rules dictate the winner will have the losers obey. The duo are put in a sexy apron outfit and Shirou is shocked-cum-embarrassed to see this. They are forced to act like a maid-cum-housewife. Liz is pretty okay but Sella is blushing all over. Liz gets cheeky if Shirou wants dinner, bath or Sella first. When Shirou picks dinner, Sella gets mad and beats him up! What the heck did he do?!

OVA

The sports festival is around the corner but Miyu has never experienced one before. But the final and main event of this sports festival is the class dance. Miyu may be athletic and all but she certainly has never danced before. On the way out, the friends eavesdrop Fujimura being confronted by a teacher. Seems he wants her ‘meat’ and if her class loses in the sports festival, he will eat all her ‘delicious meat’ that he likes whenever he wants. Gosh! Guess what the lolis figure out? Yup. Fujimura might become his sex slave! Wow. Lolis do know their terms these days. So all they have to do is win, right? But they didn’t know Miyu sucked this much in dancing. Ilya tries out and looks like she has some talent but a little fine tuning is needed. Okay, don’t panic yet. There is still time to practice. So everybody works hard to practice their dance. Yeah, everybody brazenly falls asleep in Fujimura’s class. But Miyu continues to practice herself after school, though she doesn’t seem to make any progress. Ilya comes along to give several heartfelt advices and image training for Miyu to dance. Express that feeling in your heart to move your body. Imagine dancing with her friends. It’ll be so much fun. I hope Ilya didn’t rant too long that she herself fell asleep. I suppose she’s tired from all that training. Sapphire hints to Miyu that she can use her if she’s feeling tired.

During sports day, Fujimura tries to rev up her class but it seems they’re already very motivated. All for the win! Since all the classes’ points are close to each other, the dance will determine the winner. The friends notice Miyu’s different hairstyle but she doesn’t want them to touch it. Ilya thinks she knows what is going on and explains it is probably Miyu is in intense concentration and doesn’t want it broken. So when it’s Ilya’s class turn, they put up a cute idol group dance. Everyone is amazed Miyu could dance so well and didn’t slip up. Later up at the rooftop, it is revealed Sapphire was hiding as Miyu’s hair band and this enabled her to use some magic to smoothen the process for her mental image transfer thingy. Seems Ilya also did the same with Ruby. Everyone is glad they saved Fujimura and she too is happy for their win. So happy that she reveals she will get all the meat now! What? She collected stamps from the purchase of school equipment, sent them to a contest and won all the high quality meat. So when the teachers found out, they were furious and decided the winning teacher on sports day gets to keep all that meat. So, it was just literally meat. No sexual innuendoes whatsoever. Disappointed? I’m sure the kids are. So much so they plan to head to Fujimura’s house for a victory party celebration! They’ve earned it, right?! Oh yeah! Share the meat!

Believe In Your Magical Girl!
I guess that isn’t the end of it yet. Right after the TV series ended, the second season has been given the green light for production. I suppose Ilya must be popular enough to warrant another season. You don’t even need to be a lolicon to admit the cuteness and moe that Ilya exudes throughout this show whether she is a normal girl or in her magical girl form. Ilya is like the epitome of cuteness and moe! And that’s coming from me who isn’t a fan of her. No, I’m not being tsundere either. But looks like the next season would seem grimmer as we have been given a glimpse of a mysterious character with that feels ominous. But as far as this season is concerned, it is quite entertaining with the action, comedy and the power of friendship.

So this magical girl encounter for Ilya has certainly changed her in a lot of ways. Especially the importance of friendship, which I feel is the main theme of this series. The cute thing about Ilya (heck, like I said, everything about her is cute even when she is a sad loli) is when she first became a magical girl. The surprise in her face like as though she never expected this to be part of a magical girl’s job is just priceless. Never heard of it, eh? I’m sure she forgot to read the finer lines of the contract when she signed up for this. She’s pretty dangerous when she sees her cute friend in a maid outfit. Yeah. Not dangerous when she’s behind a wand or used a Class Card to power up. Pervert crazily dangerous. Now it feels like it is biting back at her when Miyu is sticking so darn close to her. This one as she said is going to be her toughest battle yet. How to get along with her and the rest of her friends without her turning into yandere. It makes slaying Berserker look like child’s play.

You can say that Miyu is like a complete opposite in terms of personality compared to Ilya. For she is quiet and stoic. She lacks the lively expression that Ilya has whenever she speaks. So monotonous (sometimes to a point that it sounds ominous) her talk that it is hard to guess what she actually feels. I suppose that’s why she is a good example for the meaning ‘still waters run deep’. That’s why it was easily for us to at first cast her off as either an obnoxious loner or a very serious responsible girl. Even when she becomes the closest friend to Ilya in the end, she still doesn’t show much improvement in her emotions. Although she did smile and it does make her look better, maybe she should work on her facial expression instead of flying as a magical girl. Overall, it boils down to the simple fact that Miyu just wanted somebody to call a friend. Just like how she wanted a place to belong and she found that in Luvia. Doing things alone is perhaps her way of trying not to hurt her friend and get her involved in dangerous stuff.

It just hit me when they said something in this anime about magical girls do not really fly. We have been so use to the fact that magical girls transform, wield some wand, have magic powers to fight evil and to some even a magical pet of their own. It never crossed our minds that they cannot fly. It’s like common knowledge, if I should put it that way. At least as far as this anime is concerned. That’s why it was rather funny to hear them say about it and be in shock that magical girls aren’t supposed to fly this easy. Yeah. It took Miyu quite some time to digest it and was quite in denial mode for a while. Hey, can science explain about magical girls? So what does that say about flying? Yeah. Don’t think so much. But when Rin and Luvia were first in action, we already see them flying in the sky blasting the hell out of each other. So only high level magic users can fly? Aren’t magical girls supposed to be filled with lots of magic power?

Ruby has been the liveliest character and perhaps the most amusing one because of her tendency to be sarcastic and is filled with wisecracks. I believe I have not seen a magic accessory this cheeky and talkative as Ruby. She is even temperamental to a point she acknowledges who she wants for her master. Or maybe she has loli fetish instead of ‘old saggy hags’. Sapphire is a complete opposite and lacks the liveliness or mischievous attitude that is so permeating out from Ruby and is more reserved and polite. Both sticks are like day and night if you want to size them up but they get along pretty well. The other amusing pair is of course Rin and Luvia. It gets amusing when they start bickering with each other for the pettiest things. It’s like a love-hate relationship but leaning towards more the hate side. Whenever they are not serious and cooperating to complete their mission, we are rest assured to be ‘entertained’ by their squabbles especially Luvia’s high class nobility arrogance (moronic laughter to Rin) or Rin’s uncivilized and unfeminine ways. Had they do this more often, they could have overshadowed Ilya and this series since they never really tire of it. That would be really bad, wouldn’t it? They’re a good combination in fighting but somehow I feel they make good comedians too if they keep up this arguing. They know each other so well, right?

Other characters feel okay and felt like a little side distraction to provide some comic relief to the entire series that otherwise would have been dominated by the new magical girls, the ‘old’ ex-magical girls and their talking sticks. Ilya’s friends come in all forms and variety from nice girl to hyper active idiot, tall bespectacled girl to petite little one. I feel Shirou’s role is just to provide some one-sided romance from Ilya’s side (but of course, what else?) but as expected, nothing in this section goes anywhere. Another day and night comparison is Sella and Liz. Both sisters and maids of Ilya’s house but one is serious and dedicated while the other very carefree and a slacker. So much so for those unfamiliar with them will start thinking Liz is a freeloader in this house. I guess life isn’t fair. Liz bums around watching TV every day eating snacks as she wants and she doesn’t gain a single pound. If not, it all goes to her boobs. Unlike Sella… No wonder she is so easily infuriated. My guess is if Ilya’s magical girl job is discovered by everyone she knows, I am sure that they will still love her as much as before because you know, she’s still the same Ilya inside and out, right? Otherwise, is there a rule saying that magical girls must keep their identity a secret?

Action is also nicely done and well executed. Each battle to collect the cards is filled with lots of power and magic blasting action of great proportions. I guess that is why the mirror world exists so that it gives them excuse to put their magic to good use and go wild. But my favourite battle has got to be Ilya’s match with Saber in her Archer form. That match was quite exhilarating, exciting, non-stop sword clashing, magic blasting bout and a reminder why I was enthralled by the Fate/Zero anime. Speaking of the drawing and art, although not obvious, I find that the characters are given a slightly cuter feel. It is more apparent for Rin because from my side, she doesn’t look like her teenager form as seen in Fate/Stay Night. The end card at the end of each episode illustrated by different people is quite okay, though I feel that the styles are very similar.

The opening theme is Starlog by Choucho and sounds like a lively anime pop. The main ending theme is Prism Sympathy by StylipS and sounds like your typical magical girl anime pop. The special ending theme for episode 9 is Tsunagu Kizuna Tsutsumu Kodoku also by StylipS, not as lively as the rest and filled with those ‘sad’ words about loneliness and hurting but eventually there is still hope. There are a couple of insert songs, all of them sung by Choucho and play to a slower tune.

And so it shows that being a magical girl isn’t necessary a bed of flowers. Nothing new, really. We’ve seen it in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica already. You can fly and use your magic powers to fight evil in the name of justice. Maybe you’ll just have to put up with the embarrassing magical girl outfit. Some can be cute but some can be just tad embarrassing. Besides, doesn’t some magical powers are fuelled by pure innocence and embarrassment? And does it matter if magical girls can only be helmed by young girls? Is there such a rule saying that girls who have crossed a certain age are too ‘old’ to become one? Whoever came up with that rule must be a lolicon. Definitely.

Teekyuu S2 & S3

April 25, 2014

I guess I couldn’t resist it. I was addicted even before I knew it. Those drugs that make you go high and make you feel like you’re having a swell of a time. Yes, I admit it. I succumbed to the ‘drugs’ called Teekyuu because I didn’t really expect them to have another 2 seasons and was just joking when they said they were aiming for another season instead of Wimbledon. If you do not know what this funny ‘drug’ called Teekyuu is, is it about, it’s kinda like the gentle wind. Kinda like a delicious rice cake. Kinda like a clamorous city. Kinda like a precious every day. Okay, for those who have watched the first season (and still remember), you would have instantly recognized those were the lyrics of the opening theme that described what Teekyuu is. Or you could simply take it as a bunch of tennis club girls doing every silly antic imaginable except playing tennis. All crammed into 2 minutes of craziness. And now more drugs to fulfil my Teekyuu needs! Let me have ‘em now!

Season 2

Episode 13
Kanae invites her friends to a nursery run by her cousin Mika so they can help the kids with the bean throwing festival. Who knows the principal, Mr Bobby is an ex-SEAL serviceman! Kanae is popular with the kids but the rest bullies Marimo by kicking her leg since she’s a big girl. When she tells them off, they run crying into the arms of Yuri. When the bean throwing festival starts, Bobby puts up some smoke effects before the girls charge in. They got attacked military style! Is this what Bobby has been teaching the kids? When Marimo tries to get one, that kid starts crying over her scariness. Bobby advises Marimo how she can be popular with kids. First, smile. Second, look at their world through their eyes. Marimo suddenly becomes a mercenary but look at it this way, she’s a hit with the kids. And you wonder why…

Episode 14
Kondou from the newspaper club wants to write an article on the tennis club girls. They are told to do what they usually do but you know, none of them are tennis related. Showing their strawberry garden? Putting up kabuki makeup? Play tennis video game? Dress up in life size Pong? Asking about their performance in tournaments, Kanae shows a huge statue they’ve won. Did they? She won the Oscars for some skin makeup thingy. Kondou is even roped in to try tennis. The video game… After she did play the real game, Kondou leaves to write her article. Nothing legitimate on what they did come out. Instead, all scandal material! Panties over Marimo’s head… Suspicious Oscar award… Playing video game tennis instead of the real game… Yes, people. This is your tennis club!

Episode 15
Nasuno suggests a training camp and has Googled and found a very cheap villa. First they take a cat bus (so real that they’re like sitting inside its innards), the trip takes them who knows how long, the villa looks like an evil base and the manager looks like an evil general with an evil claw. Instead of practising for real, to Yuri’s dismay, they want to play everything else from cards and visiting the hotspring. They even use that overused ‘gatai’ (combining) joke. I don’t know about their logic that their combining effectiveness have increased to satisfy gatai fans. WTF.

Episode 16
At least they’re playing ping pong now. It’s tournament time. The winner gets the rest to do as she says. First match has Kanae win against Marimo. Before Yuri begins hers with Nasuno, she notices the trapezium shaped table! Surely, she’s at a disadvantage! Even so, Yuri won. Finals: Kanae vs Yuri. Kanae’s bat is some sort of cracker so she keeps munching it till she couldn’t hit the ball back. There’s more. The ping pong ball is an egg hatching (sunny side up?) and the net is a stomach band… In the end, Yuri wins and her wish is that everybody would practise properly for real tomorrow. Yeah… They practise table tennis… She should have been more specific…

Episode 17
After practising hard (did they?), before they go home, they visit the local attractions. From local residences with age old designs to some creepy mine. On the bus back home, Yuri must have been so tired of retorting their silly jokes that she falls asleep. Feeling guilty that they were too hard on her? Not when you’re morons. The thought of that she is asleep means they can reveal their true form: Aliens! Yuri abruptly wakes up but sees all her friends sleeping. Just a dream?

Episode 18
Nasuno wants a pet so they discuss all sorts of pets they could get from a devil meerkat to a Pokemon. At the pet shop, the cute meerkat seals Nasuno’s choice. The staff narrates its habits in which Nasuno feels it is pretty similar to an animator. She tries to sell her a cage as well but it seems she is trying to sell her a property! Don’t fall for this scam! Back home, the girls tussle for the meerkat’s attention. Kanae shows her own pet: A sea slug. Too bad it didn’t last long because Kanae ate him afterwards. Too delicious to resist? Next day, the meerkat has grown 8 metres tall! No wonder she was being sold an apartment!

Episode 19
It’s the sports festival and it opens with an opening speech from Colonel Sanders (Nasuno’s dad), some unknown guy and Kanae herself (“Let the killing begin!”). Yuri talks to Kondou and finds out her first name is Udonko and that her full name is a palindrome. Marimo gets a tiger for a scavenger hunt and during lunch, we’ve got lots of KFC sponsored by you-know-who. All the clubs participate in the relay. Because the tennis club is lagging, Marimo takes drastic action: She rides the tiger! Wow! She’s so fast! She’s got the speed of the tiger! In the end, they got disqualified…

Episode 20
Kanae is upset she is not tall. So Nasuno brings her to a cow farm whereby she gets pulled by the cows in all directions. Stretched? Here, they also try their hands at cow milking (making it sound horny), counting sheep (falling asleep?), look at potential friend chicken (aren’t you sick of it?) and horse riding (Kanae has motion sickness). On the way home, Yuri mentions that it’s not the size that matter because everyone is unique. They support each other with their own strengths and weaknesses. Friendship then rainbow. Aww… Next morning, Kanae is now a giant… Marimo is sick because she might have caught some hand foot mouth disease from the cow…

Episode 21
The tennis court is destroyed thanks to the baseball club who thinks they’re in the way. The girls are challenged over a baseball match and the winner gets to use the court. Shouldn’t it be tennis? But the girls know nuts about baseball and where can they find extra members? Don’t worry. Kanae has brought Mika, Bobby, Yukatan, Kondou, the bakery manager and even her own father as the coach. And that guy who challenged them isn’t even playing… Our girls seem to suck at batting compared to their other non-tennis club mates.

Episode 22
They might seem like doing something cool but in the end it’s just one big bluff and they flop. When it’s the bakery manager’s turn, Nasuno warns him about failing. You know what will happen if you fail… But he fails and gets hit by the pitch. So they consult a manga series on the rules and rule him out as dead! He ‘died’ for nothing. As more games pass, the tennis club is on a great losing streak. So big the score. Nasuno signals to her dad to make some shady calls and move. Then all the famous former players of Japan’s baseball league show up and win it! Though the guy admits defeat and gives up, the girls aren’t satisfied and want a rematch based on their tennis rules. However an Apache helicopter starts firing into the court… WTF?! So I take it, they lost? Whose idea was this?!

Episode 23
Marimo is visited by a cute space alien girl, Tomarin. Of course she freaks out and calls mommy for help. Unfortunately mommy thinks it’s all in her head and tells her to shut the f*ck up! Tomarin tries to convince her she is an alien like floating a clock. Now Marimo wants to help her untangle her computer wires… Do it yourself. As Marimo is not convinced with her UFO, Tomarin shows her true form! So hideous that Marimo vomits… Tomarin crash landed on Earth due to her punctured fuel tank. Marimo solves the problem by putting duct tape. She thinks beer is the fuel since she did say it runs on golden liquid. Grateful Tomarin leaves but her UFO soon crashes. Guess it doesn’t run on beer. Next day, Marimo sees Tomarin. Her ship is being fixed by the Autobots. Did she tell anybody about her alien encounter? Nobody believed…

Episode 24
Kondou hands the girls coupons to her udon shop. However it is in a bowling alley! The coupons enable them to have free water!!! Kondou explains her grandpa was so eager to have his own udon shop, he trained her, saved up and got so excited that he didn’t see the plan of this place. He also serves his udon by doing a bowling serve! Hot splash on Yuri! Maybe grandpa needs to practice his bowl. They talk about udon splashing which has become a sensation in the country. Long queues were formed and many bowling alleys soon try to follow this concept. Because the question of whether food was being wasted or not, this topic was greatly debated in parliament. It’s been a week since the debate whether to ban the udon splashing. The debate continues…

OVA 1
Marimo has broken teeth thanks to boxing! WTF?! She goes see a dentist. She should also get her brains fixed. The little girl customer next to her cries because Marimo is scarier than the visit to the dentist. Marimo doubts if this hippy dentist can do the job. He doesn’t even know his instruments. After taking x-ray (some crotch goes boom joke that I didn’t get), Marimo is shown photos of his ex-wife and Mercedes Benz before her own set of teeth. He lets her bite a loaf of bread just to test its mouldiness. Marimo is given braces to wear but since she can’t eat anything, she has to go back again. More photos of his imported car… Now she has metal teeth like Mr Jaws from James Bond. She can bite through 5mm of thick steel!

OVA 2
Yuri is at the shrine and prays for the sanity of her friends to be normal as well as this manga and anime to do well. Who knows, she accidentally breaks the bell! The old shrine lady wants her to pay. Clearly, she’s marking up the price. Otherwise, she must pay with her body! Don’t worry, this won’t be turning hentai. Yuri is made to wear the miko priestess dress because there are lots of sickos on the internet who would love to pay pictures in this outfit. Yuri notices the big shrine that she needs to clean up and wonders if granny does this all by herself. Her husband helped her till recently… He went away… Not to another world but Hawaii! He’s on vacation?! Why didn’t she go with him? Something shady about her past that prevents her in getting a visa…

Season 3

Episode 25
The girls are going on a skiing trip but there are no seats riding to the top! Hang on to the poles! They are going to take the beginner’s course but misread the sign and end up taking the super advanced course. Suddenly it becomes a side-scroller, attacked by wolves, yeti and even Chihuahuas! They even get a life indicator and some score. Any skiing mishaps they get into, they lose a life. After all those dangers, the girls are relieved that they have made it to safety with 1 life left. Thing is, they’re on the edge of the cliff. Stranded! No lives left! Game over!

Episode 26
The heavy rain has the girls stay in school. Though, Nasuno calls her limo to pick her up but it seems it was death who almost picked her up! Thankfully she is revived by Kanae’s CPR. Yuri wants to go home so the rest get this evil idea to stretch her enough to cover them as umbrella. As they walk home in the cold rain, Kanae gets strike by lightning and shoots out some beam from her mouth. They finally made it home and the convenient blackout means we can’t see the fanservice of them bathing and touching each other. Next morning when they leave, they see holes courtesy of Kanae’s beams everywhere. That powerful, huh?

Episode 27
Nasuno is being hounded by punks who want to play pogs with her? She is saved by a guy named Youta. She is grateful but suddenly her chest hurts! Her bra was too tight…  She tries to repay his kindness with a gold bar or a bottle of petroleum but he settles for a dorayaki snack. Asking her about those punks, she thinks her beauty attracted them. Looks like she attracted more. Several of them in Guy Fawkes mask confront her and tell her to obediently follow them until her father pays. Youta tries to attack to let Nasuno run but here comes to pogs punks. I’m not sure if it’s because they said something inappropriate for a gag anime. Eventually Nasuno’s dad and the police arrive to arrest the culprits. Nasuno learns Youta is Yuri’s brother. As thanks, she gives him a big tuna.

Episode 28
Nasuno’s hair is so long while Kanae cut hers the bouzu style! At the hair salon, it is natural that Nasuno and Kanae are fooling around with their antics while Yuri plays the straight guy. Wanting her hair to be cut according to this manga? Kanae feels her balls itchy? Does she even have them? Then their hair turns out weirdly. Afro Kanae? Horns growing out of it? Nasuno’s hair is longer than before! Then she turns into a big lump of hair so much so she doesn’t seem human anymore. Yeah, even their skeletal structure changed… In the end, Nasuno becomes a temporary blonde (thank the animators for this screw up) while Kanae although has her original hairstyle back, she turns into a demon! Who the hell is she?!

Episode 29
The girls are praying at the shrine. Wishing desperately for another season… Later they burn all their cursed dolls… When they drink the sweet sake, it seems Yuri is the one who is greatly affected. She suddenly falls hard. Then she acts weird… Using her broken arm as a pantomime? Beating up arrogant villains? At the karaoke, she makes an Eifel Tower with fries and forces the rest to go along with her pace. This is the true her when she is drunk? Not even Nasuno can escape. In the end when Yuri returns to her normal self, she sees her friends totally exhausted. Hard to keep up with her, eh? Yeah. Now how does it feel like because she always had a hard time trying to keep up with their silliness?

Episode 30
The bakery guy is going to hang himself due to bad business! 300 million Yen in debt! Yeah, Nasuno wants to help kill him. Kanae suggests a pyramid scheme where a customer must bring 2 or more customers. In no time he’ll have the entire Japan. Nasuno suggests shaking her hand. Who wants to shake her hand? Marino comes up with DLC. Can you download sexy cake? They also come up with cake designs. Yuri is normal. Marimo is an arm! Hair is chocolate and blood is strawberry jam. Yum, tastes good. Nasuno is a black credit card (dark chocolate?) while Kanae is some beardy guy’s face. Since their plan isn’t working out, they resort to extortion! Eventually thanks to Bobby telling the kids’ moms, they slowly gained customers and the manager is able to take up his administration studies. Oddly, the cakes the girls design became a hit. In the end, hi bakery becomes a parking lot because the capital investment required for it is extremely low and it was easier to convert it into so. He has hedged against all the risk. So this is what he studied?

Episode 31
When Yuri managed to enter high school, lots of clubs hound her to join. Even a loan shark club. Not to mention a very familiar light music club. But in her mind, she wants to join a tennis club. Eventually when she meets Kanae recruiting (why does the recruiting form look like it’s from the loan shark club?), she wonders why her table is at the train station. More people? Oh look. Here comes the police. Not to join but to arrest her. Kanae mentions the other members are in African and Alcatraz so Yuri started to have doubts in joining as the tennis club has weird members. Maybe the light music club will do. However Youta thinks tennis fits her fine because she’s a weird person. Yuri apologizes to Kanae that she can’t join but she changed her mind when Kanae’s beautiful smile and hope that she will still love her got to her heart. When Kanae suggests to play tennis, she takes out spatulas… Does she even know what tennis is? So when they get down to club activities, Yuri didn’t realize she just joined the loan shark club…

Episode 32
Kanae is sad that her tennis string broke. It was made from her dead grandma’s hair. They go to the shop and the little girl will gladly string her tennis racquet. Just don’t look into the room… Before that, she introduces a range of odd racquets that include sticky nattou and another made out of the tatami mat. Oh, here’s one that is used for the fence. Everyone sees the high technology hawk eye cameras used in tournaments that can be used to contest calls. They pester Nasuno to buy it but she suggests they but more balls instead. As the girl strings the racquet in the room, curiosity got the better of them to peek. They see her looking up the internet on how to string one. In the end, Kanae bought the nattou racquet and the old strings were made into a wig. Oh, grandma is still alive…

Episode 33
Yuri is at the funeral of her late uncle. The priest is a Shibuya gal?! Fashion freak? Yuri suddenly sees the spirit of her late uncle. Only she can see him. Seems he has business and can’t go over to the next world yet. He hasn’t said goodbye to a childhood friend and hopes to borrow her body to do so. However the sneaky uncle will only return it to her in 50 years and will start his life over again as a high school girl! As he runs away from Yuri (in spirit form), he bumps into the priest. She can tell her body is possessed and beats him up to exorcise him. Toilet bowl treatment? Yuri now believes she is a priest for real.

Episode 34
Marimo is playing a violent video game when she is sucked into it. She wakes up to find Kanae as some priest telling her to go save the princess but she doesn’t understand. Wandering around in this game world, she gets killed but gets resurrected. Thinking this is a dream, Marimo fondles her boobs till she gets up. She didn’t. She is told she cannot leave till this game is cleared. And so Marimo begins her quest to save the princess. She dies many times, gets resurrected many times, over and over again before she clears it. Then she’s back in her room but her body is buffed up like Mr Universe. Holy cow! All that training and deaths affected her real body in the real world?

Episode 35
Finally a National tournament and something to do with real tennis! Their first opponents will be from Usakame High. So what will be their practice menu? Eat stew, go to night club and go home. WTF?! I was a fool to have hopes. And the tournament is tomorrow. Better get going now! Yuri is embarrassed that her pals stand on the opponent’s side. They courtsey like aristocrat instead of bowing and form a sumo ring instead of a discussion ring. Nasuno is up first and is confident she can win. Yeah, she bribes the referee! In the end, her real skill is what got her the first victory. Next up is Marimo but she lost before you can even say begin. Yuri-Kanae doubles match is the decider. Remembering all the unrelated good times and some unrelated guy named Michael as motivation, Yuri is dumbfounded that Kanae somehow ends up on the opponent’s side. Of course they lost despite bringing out their bond and friendship thingy. And this means this is the end to their National tournament arc…

Episode 36
The exams are near and Nasuno warns those who fail will have their pancreas torn out by demons! How are they going to prepare for it? Wearing armour plates won’t do… A group study seems okay till you realize that they are fooling around asking all sorts of question (the universe!) that isn’t really related to school curriculum. What more, they always bring in this Michael guy into the picture and do this joke to death. Yeah, he becomes their mysterious tutor. On the day of the exam, looks like Michael is on the test too. Think you’ve prepared for it? Well, Marimo got her pancreas ripped out by him!

OVA 3
Marimo’s adventure with Tomarin continues. Now alien girl makes her home as hers. Yeah, she bribed her mom to let her stay. Shouldn’t she have bought her own place with that amount of money? Who would want to sell a place to weirdo like her? I’m sure the amount of money would have convinced them… She lives in the attic and to Marimo’s surprise, it is a hell lot bigger than her home! It’s got even a bar! She already invited her alien friend over. He doesn’t talk and use facial expressions as communication. Yeah, Tomarin could exactly guess every word he says. Or could she? Oh, mommy is dressed like Tomarin and enjoying the drinks too! Since when were they good friends? I guess money talks… Suddenly a black hole opens behind Marimo…

OVA 4
Everyone is holding on to their horses as the black hole is sucking everything in. It got the alien and Marimo’s mom. Marimo wants Tomarin to do something about this stupid situation but she can’t since she is hungry. Who the hell cares?! Then Marimo’s mom heard it, gets out of the black hole to go fix dinner. Eh? What? Yeah, Tomarin could smell she is making curry. Better get out of this or you won’t even be alive to taste mom’s curry! Mommy returns and scolds them for fooling around. She duct tapes the black hole. Eh? What? Order is restored. Later in the evening, the alien returns and he is so pissed… And no, that face is not the I-want-to-use-your-toilet-please face. So upset that he scolds them! He could talk… Marimo notices her mom returning from buying ingredients. She went out dressed like that?

The Mouth Is Faster Than The Hand
So will there be another fourth season? Mr alien looks to us as if he is demanding another one. I as an addict won’t argue if there should be another one. Oh God. Am I really addicted? Must find a way to get away from this drug… Oh what the hell. All I can say is that these seasons are still as funny as hell because everything is so random and nonsensical. Especially this series’ trademark of fast talking and fast yapping that would have put all the rappers in the world to shame. The jokes and funny parts are so instantaneous and fast that it leaves you no room for recovery. Every time you laugh at the insane hilariousness of the joke, it is over and here comes another one. No breathing space for you to catch your breath. Oh man. Also thanks to the odd visuals, everything is so fast paced that it’s like if you blink, you miss everything in your 2 minutes worth of Teekyuu. But even you can catch all that, it makes you go WTF because really, it is indeed insanity in motion. If that is what this drug is leading me to, then I NEED TO HAVE MORE OF IT! Yeah, you could say I would really have laughed myself to death. It still makes me wonder if the voice actresses really have the ability to talk this fast or they just did a little fast forwarding in the editing room.

Once again, the girls did pretty much absurd in everything except playing tennis. Even that single episode meant to showcase their tennis prowess was as usual a farce. It ended as fast as it began. They should have become a comedy club instead. But we all don’t have any qualms about it since the girls are so funny in being silly that we would wish for more anything goes. Yeah, maybe save the world from invading aliens or become super heroes in another world. I don’t care. Just make me laugh! It’s ironic that with the short duration of each episode, I saw it all in one sitting and before I knew it time has passed so quickly. And in the end, it’s the end of 2 seasons. Wow. Gone in a flash before my eyes. So that was where my one hour of that day had gone to? Yeah. It was very well worth it. Let’s say the girls have outdone and surpassed everything in here better than being in Wimbledon. You don’t need that when you can have this. Three seasons of nonsense. It transcends everything!

The characters are still the same as we know them. Very quirky and odd. Like Marimo the big tall girl who is a pervert and Nasuno the rich girl who thinks money can buy anything. Then there is Kanae who seems to defy physics or the laws of everything because sometimes she can shoot beams or change her physical shape just to suit the joke that is being played out. Yuri is the only ‘normal’ one in the gang and the only one who takes things seriously. Because everything is so farcical, all her retorts are in vain and she too in no time starts sounding like an idiot. Well, when you have hang out too long with a group as idiotic as this one, it’s easy to be influenced and get into their silly pace. The other new characters like Mika, Bobby, Kondou and Youta add a little variety but it is still mainly the quartet that brings the house down. Even aliens like Tomarin are idiots. Yeah, everybody here is one. And those who watch this like myself. Hahaha! Ballooballooballooblooooooooooo~. Blame the drugs for that.

The one thing I noticed for both these seasons is that the titles of each episode are named after a famous Hollywood movie. From classic movies to recent ones such as Full Metal Jacket, Transformers, Cider House Rules, Mad Max The World Is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Hangover, just to name a few. Although I cannot see how that particular episode is related to the Hollywood movie. Even so, it is very subtle. For example, the episode that was named Ratatouille, the one whereby the girls visit Kondo’s grandpa’s udon shop in the bowling alley. It may not have a French rat trying to be a chef but it still features a chef who is her grandpa who has a dream of owning his own udon store. For the Mars attacks episode, you don’t see the relation of it as it was the girls going sightseeing after their ping pong training stint. Only in that short last bit that they so called revealed themselves as aliens. The episode that has the girls visiting the barber shop pays a subtle tribute to Edward Scissorhands and was thus named as so. Running was all we remember in Run Lola Run, right? Probably that’s why it was given to the sports festival episode. Coach Carter was for basketball, right? How did he end up as the girls’ private tutor for the exams here?!

The second season’s opening theme is Menimenimanimani by Kyouko Narumi (voice of Nasuno). As you can already tell from the nonsensical title, the carnival-like atmosphere of the song compounded with the crazy lyrics and the crazy over-the-top animation means everything is just one big crazy animation. Just like being high on drugs or having too much caffeine. Yeah, I hate to admit it. It’s catchy. Addictive. For the third season, the opening song is Nufutto Teekyuu Potoracchi by Naive. Whatever that title means. It’s like as though the one who wrote the song was high on drugs and was rushing to name and submit his song before the anime runs. However the animation for this one has more fanservice scenes. Butt shaking? Boobs shaking? And it ends with them in a swimsuit pose…

It goes without saying that after spending a few minutes with Teekyuu, one can get irresistibly hook on it. That’s why a fourth season better be made so that those hooked on it can get their fix of insanity. Otherwise we will be rampaging the production studio and office to demand our daily pot and ice. Yeah people. There will always be a sunny with chance of little clouds and instant dizzy energy if you take your Teekyuu dosage. Smoke Teekyuu. Take you. Thank you. Just be careful of the withdrawal and overdose symptom that come later. You might find how dull reality is when you get back down to Earth. Oh, and remember this. Don’t do drugs in real life.

Genshiken Nidaime

April 20, 2014

Well, I didn’t expect they came out with another season of the previous season aired way back in 2007. I guess somehow the summer of 2013 had quite a number of anime sequels, making me think that it is the season of anime sequels. Rozen Maiden, Senki Zesshou Symphogear, High School DxD and Tamayura just to name a few. But Genshiken Nidaime is not to be confused with the second season of the Genshiken series. This is in fact the fourth instalment. Well, if you count the OVAs as another season. Nidaime may be a confusing word to some because it means second generation. Some may take it as a second season but it’s really not. Second generation I feel is quite suitable but yet not as accurate for this season because no doubt there are new members to the Genshiken club, the old ones still make their presence felt as they do return to their university club from time to time. All of them. So it’s like they’ve never left the club in the first place. And when you think of a second generation, you would think entirely new set of casts and the old ones just rolled over somewhere. But still, it is still worth the watch if you’re an otaku and a fan of the series.

Episode 1
Ogiue is worried on how to recruit additional members to Genshiken seeing Oono and Kuchiki are the only ones left. Suddenly here comes crazy foreigner and transfer student, Suzy to the fore! There you go, she’s back and joining the club. But they need to do more than that. Despite dressing up in cosplay outfit, Ogiue is going to do what she does best. She starts drawing on the white board and this attracts everyone’s attention. In the end only 2 members joined. BL enthusiast, Rika Yoshitake and I-thought-this-frumpy-woman-looks-like-a-guy, Mirei Yajima join the bandwagon. Oh, there is a third one, the beautiful Kenjirou Hato. Yoshitake seems like trying to turn this into a BL discussion by handing out her favourite BL works. Ogiue is worried Genshiken will turn into a BL circle at this rate. Cheeky Kuchiki is admiring Hato’s hair and tugs it… It nearly comes off! A wig?! Wait a minute… Hato is a cross-dresser???!!! A guy who loves BL???!!! Why do weird people end up in this club? Oono becomes interested in Hato because she wants to put on some cosplay costumes on him… Or her… Whichever. Later Suzy goes to Madarame’s house just to make him answer a call to meet with the rest. Along with some of the other ex-members of Genshiken, they try to pinpoint which of the 3 new members is a boy. Can’t really tell, huh? The rest can’t either. But when Saki comes in, she immediately could pinpoint Hato as the cross-dresser!

Back in the clubroom, Oono wants Ogiue to ensure that the newbies stay because this club has a history of members joining and then quitting. Maybe she just wants to cosplay Hato. Besides, Ogiue and Kuchiki were from different circles before they joined Genshiken. The topic shifts to Hato and how he dresses up. Where does he change? On the campus? Kuchiki wants to be the first guy to catch Hato in the act of changing and goes to find him. Of course the girls think it will be a big problem if Hato changes on campus so Ogiue is forced to call him and is relieved he is at home (I don’t know about the president’s job to guard Hato’s chastity). Yajima is the only one bothered by Hato’s cross-dressing. The rest aren’t because they had Kousaka who cross-dressed for cosplay as well as Saki. Ogiue leaves the room and to her dismay, sees Hato coming out from the woman’s toilet! Wasn’t she changing at home? Hato runs away and almost bumps into Kuchiki. Don’t worry. Her auto defence mode kicks in and gives him a judo throw. Hato is reprimanded by the rest for changing in the toilet because the police could have gotten involved (I’m not sure about this rule). Hato doesn’t change at home because it takes a long time to put on everything. She doesn’t want to miss the bus. Why not change here in this room? She doesn’t want them to think of her as a man. Yajima couldn’t understand what the fuss is all about because it would be better for everyone if she comes in as a guy. Till Kuchiki tries to be cool about telling her off something about someone this cute couldn’t possibly be a girl but Ogiue steals his line. How did they solve this problem? They have Hato change at Madarame’s place and have him give the keys to his apartment.

Episode 2
Ogiue suggests making a short pamphlet to introduce the club members. She demonstrates and it looks good. However Yajima mentions she isn’t good at drawing so Yoshitake suggests they hang out at her place to help her draw. Call it some sort of bonding between the newbies but as Yajima fears, Yoshitake didn’t really get down to drawing and wants to talk about some BL pairings. It must be a long night of fun because when Yajima wakes up, she realizes nothing got done. Seeing Hato asleep, it makes her wonder if she is truly a guy. One way to find out, right? Touching her smooth skin and remembering the beauty regime Hato did just for the skin to stay beautiful, the dilemma is continuing to tear Yajima apart. Could be a girl. Or could not. All she needs to do is take a quick look underneath her skirt when Yoshitake catches her in the act! Perverts, aren’t they? Yoshitake wants to join in but when Yajima tries to prevent her, the gust of wind blows up Hato’s skirt. What did she see? Let’s say her worst nightmare is confirmed. Everyone hands in their pamphlet and nobody guessed Hato could draw a very hentai BL illustration…

Ogiue receives a call from her editor that her one-shot manga will be published. However it will run in September and October which means it will clash with their ComiFest event. To help Ogiue with her tight schedule, the newbies go to her home to become her assistants. Kuchiki is appalled that his harem is gone and he can’t go either because Oono is there to make him stay put. Yajima is so bad at drawing that she flops at her first go. And that is even drawing a straight line… At school, Yajima laments Hato is like the perfect person and good at everything. Suddenly a guy comes up to her asking about Hato. Luckily Kumiko Yabusaki from the Manga Research Club drove him away. Yajima and Yoshitake head to Ogiue’s house and are surprised to see Hato in a shorter wig. It gets in the way of the drawing. They tell her how she is popular enough that other people are asking for her. Yajima again brings up the topic of cross-dressing. If she stops, the attention to the guys will also stop. She wants to know why she is so obsessed in cross-dressing. Her school didn’t have a manga club so the closest was the art club. She joined and when she wanted to talk BL with those with same interest, I guess you can tell what happened. Yajima felt guilty for probing her. It’s like as though she was jealous. But still, she tells Hato that she doesn’t need to force herself like this because they won’t bully her. Yoshitake tells Yajima she doesn’t understand. The reason why she is cross-dressing is because she loves it. Every guy wants to be a girl at least once. Hato adds it’s not because she was bullied or viewed it as fun. She was able to see herself and her situation from the outside. It’s somewhat interesting. Like when she got the key to Madarame’s house. That situation could lead to Hato x Madarame, right? When Yajima and Yoshitake leave for the night, they see Oono pulling up a van with Tanaka and Kugayama. She is here with loads of boxes of cosplay outfits. She is ready to cosplay. However she is shunt out because Ogiue is busy working. Thank goodness they haven’t unloaded the boxes yet.

Episode 3
Madarame returns home from work as a salary man in a sewer construction company. His place is nicely cleaned up by Hato but is relieved that his secret stash is still safe. It must be nostalgia’s sake that Madarame sits in Genshiken’s room alone. Till Keiko (Sasahara’s sister) pops in. She works in a cabaret but points out it is not a prostitution ring. There’s a big difference. Keiko is upset that Madarame tries to hide his feelings for Saki. He thought nobody knew? It was obvious. He continues to play dumb so she gets rough with him. Suzy walks in and sees them in an ambiguous position. Before Keiko leaves, she tells him to ask somebody out for real for once. Suzy suggests a way to move forward without giving up on his last love: Find yourself a new love. Isn’t that contradicting? Anyway she hands him lots of BL references… Not into that! Madarame goes home to see Hato just finishing and leaving. He almost goes crazy after thinking about something unholy with Hato. Looks like a woman, sounds like a woman, talks like a woman, but… On another day, Hato dressed as a boy is outside Madarame’s apartment. His female alter-ego is excitedly making some Hato x Madarame comments and to go for it. There’s even suggestion of pretending to be asleep and then surprise Madarame with a yaoi attack or really fall asleep and let Madarame attack him with his yaoi move. But Hato fell asleep for real and when Madarame wakes him up normally, he starts panicking. There goes the plan. Madarame cooks for him and so Hato’s mind goes wild thinking this may turn out to be Madarame x Hato flag instead. Madarame speaks normally to him because at least he is a guy (for now) and it’s tough to talk with the rest being girls. Hato mentions the voice training he did from books and internet to make his voice sound like a girl. He also mentions that he is not that a hardcore of BL because if he really was, he would have fallen in love with him by now. As Madarame continues to talk casually with him, Hato feels he isn’t wary or suspicious at all. Madarame falls asleep so Hato puts him to bed. A chance for a goodnight kiss attack? Doesn’t feel like it tonight. As he leaves, he felt something drop behind the shelves. He picks it up to see a secret stash containing photos of Saki in cosplay outfits.

Episode 4
Oono picks up Angela at the airport. Meanwhile Ogiue and the newbies are making a crazy rush to finish their work just before ComiFest begins. I wonder how many crazy nights they have stayed up together. But suddenly Hato can’t work. Because she spots a beard growing. She can’t work like this. Yajima tells her off just change into her man outfit and get it over. But… She didn’t bring any guy clothes. Yoshitake has an idea. Remember those cosplay outfits she dumped here? There has to be one that is for males, right? However… None there are! All female cosplay outfits for the trap! Disappointed? But she hasn’t given up yet. Yajima’s size is XL, right? Yeah. Yajima is forced to wear the cosplay while Hato wears her over-sized clothes. Yoshitake also ‘cosplays’ by wearing a jersey. Because Yajima realize Hato may have to go home in her clothes, she refuses to lend it to him and forces the trap to wear a female outfit instead. Yoshitake then convinces Suzy and Ogiue to dress up too. But when Yabusaki comes over, she is appalled to see them so and thinks they are not serious in making the deadline and lectures for an hour. After that she helps out and they finish. On the first day of ComiFest, our non-staff Genshiken members wait outside for it to open. Angela molests Hato’s ‘boobs’ just to ascertain he is a boy and gets scolding by Oono. As ComiFest opens, the newbies plan their route to buy the doujins they want. Oono and Angela cosplay for photographers. Yabusaki and Suzy help out in Ogiue’s booth but the president isn’t here herself because she ended up having fever. Thanks to those crazy nights…

Yabusaki is surprised that Ogiue’s doujin is well received and feels guilty like as though they are trying to profit off her. She just wanted to work with her? She sounds like a tsundere. Hato is having trouble going to the toilet. She is made clear that it is only the male toilet for her. There’s a long line… Imagine what the other guys will think when they see a girl waiting in queue. Yabusaki meets Ogiue’s middle school friend, Nakajima. When this b*tch finds out Ogiue is a president of a circle, she mocks Ogiue about trying to kill herself over a guy again. She thought something happened to her because she didn’t turn up in the last ComiFest with her boyfriend. Because back in middle school she used her boyfriend, Makita as the source for her BL doujin. He was so embarrassed that he transferred schools. Suzy is about to blow her top but Yabusaki was just cool to say this job is perfect for Ogiue. Suzy adds that Ogiue and her boyfriend are dating and very happy together. Since there is nothing more to b*tch about, Nakajima leaves. She won’t be back here again and hopes she won’t meet Ogiue. It’s better that way. Well, she’s standing right behind you now… Noticing her fever is running high, Yabusaki orders Suzy to take her away. At the end of the day, Ogiue’s doujin was a sell-out. Ogiue is brought back home as Sasahara takes over from the girls. Suzy gets jealous and hopes this boyfriend will explode. Ogiue lets go her emotions. She held up crying because if Suzy saw her so, she would worry. She made her help out a project that has nothing to do with Genshiken and got too sick to come on the day they sold their first doujin. All Sasahara says is that even if her fever subsides, she still shouldn’t go tomorrow either.

Episode 5
Everyone joins in on the third day of ComiFest. Except for Sasahara who is nursing sick Ogiue. Oono loves today because it is group cosplay. Angela still likes Madarame and tries to flirt with him but Oono puts a stop to her before she gets more daring. Hato feels bad for Madarame so he decides to go as a boy and accompany him, breaking Oono’s heart because this means he can’t be in the group cosplay. She was really looking forward to it… By the way, it’s Madoka Magica theme and Suzy is Kyuubey! Fitting or what? Hato talks to Madarame about the fest and the likes. They also talk about Angela but Madarame thinks she is only fooling around and is here for ComiFest. Hato knows he is lying when Madarame says he has no interest in 3D girls. Pics of Saki behind the shelf… Hato is probably trying to boost his confidence saying he can get along with any girl. Madarame almost interpreted this situation as gay. When they continue their ‘tour’, they see Kousaka cross-dressed. He is working to promote a new eroge. They send a picture of Kousaka to Oono and she is fuming with jealousy and frustration. She can’t go to see him because she can’t leave the cosplay area and he can’t go to see her because he is working. And yeah. The cosplay outfit of Madoka she made for Hato was wasted since she didn’t cosplay. Hato notes Kousaka as Madarame’s rival for Saki. But aren’t Kousaka and Saki dating? He doesn’t think Madarame can win since Kousaka is cute even without makeup. Talking about this to Madarame again, that guy even hints he can’t win. So Hato puts on his wig and transforms back into a girl. This is to prove he is as good as Kousaka when it comes to cross-dressing so don’t say he can’t win against him. When they regroup, Angela of course tries to flirt with Madarame but Hato steps in (translation courtesy from Oono). Angela becomes aggressive telling Hato about rights and future thingy to counter her argument of feelings that develop over time is much stronger than one night stand (as suggested by Angela). I suppose Hato panics. She losses it when she says Madarame is more of the uke type. She goes on pairing Madarame with all the Genshiken guys but the one she finds more fitting is Kousaka x Madarame! Her logic that Madarame doesn’t have time to be dating a girl? Angela is going to get serious and let Madarame’s fingers touch her breast. This time Suzy cuts in. She can’t take it anymore and gives that American a butt kick! And it’s butt kick all the way out! Yankee go to hell! Thumbs up for Hato? Hato apologizes for saying those things but Madarame couldn’t be more grateful for being saved from something much worse than death. Then it hit him. He is uke?! Biggest shock he ever had.

Episode 6
Ogiue learns about Hato calling Madarame an uke. Suzy thinks Ogiue should show Hato about her Sasahara x Madarame doujin to cheer her up. Because outside Genshiken, Hato is always alone and she only has Madarame as the only male friend. So Ogiue shows the newbies that doujin and everyone is impressed how good it is! Yoshitake wants to photocopy them! Somehow the plan backfired because it flipped some weird switch in Hato. Now she will draw what she has always fantasized. Madarame suddenly walks in and everybody scrambles to hide the doujin. Suzy called him to come to settle this but didn’t expect him to come so soon. Yajima apologizes to him because when they first saw him, they really think he is the uke type. She hopes they can ignore what they say and write it off as bad experience. But there’s an unwanted problem brewing. Kuchiki has made his decision. Just for his precious Hato, he is willing to be seme and tries to kiss Madarame! Suzy’s foot was fast enough to kick his face. But that’s not enough to put him down. Now he wants to pull down his pants! Show me your ass! Hato chokes him unconscious while Madarame runs out for his life! Kuchiki then develops some fetish for Hato’s choke. Because she won’t do it to him again, he is going to wait for Madarame to show up and attack him. Then the guy who asked for Hato, Harima comes in to show his friend about her. Yajima feels the need to do something about this because all the other members are not around. Kuchiki is being a useless coward. Suddenly there is this hot guy coming in to tell them off they do not belong here. He is Rihito and Yoshitake’s older brother. He is a shotacon. Do we really need to know that? Yajima can’t look at him because it’s turning on her yaoi switch. Rihito compliments Hato and it seems he doesn’t know about the cross-dressing. Yoshitake could tell about Yajima’s flustering and suggests they all go out for a drink.

On their way out, they are stopped by Mikami from the Circle Leadership Committee. He heard complaints and rumours of a student attending circle meeting who is not a student of this university. The description fits Hato and he hopes she could clear this up. Suddenly Harima doesn’t want Mikami to pry further. He told him he would look into it and leave it to him. He never told them about himself because if he did and tried to hit on Hato, Mikami would get angry. As he is about to get Hato’s statement, here comes Kuchiki the raging bull! Before he could attack Harima, Hato chokes him unconscious. He gets his wish… Before he passes out, he touches Rihito’s chest and he lets out a girly scream… Eh… Could Rihito be… And so it is revealed she is actually Yoshitake’s younger sister, Risa. As a basketball player, she is often mistaken to be a guy. Yoshitake brought her here just to test them if they could tell. Yoshitake also reveals her real age (20 years old) but Yajima doesn’t care for that. But because of her prank, she will have to pay for the drinks. Back home, the newbies and Risa talk and Risa expresses her wish to see Hato as a guy. Initially he is reluctant but Yajima accidentally spills her drink on her. Hato goes to take a bath and Yoshitake takes this chance to peep on her. She is going to ascertain ‘that’. With Risa holding down Yajima (because little sister must obey what big sister says), Yoshitake makes her way to the toilet. Yajima uses her fatty power to go on a rampage. Everyone stumbles into the bathroom and I guess it is the second time Yajima sees it. This time very clearly with her eyes. Since Yoshitake was the only one who didn’t see, she pesters Risa to explain further since she is flustering about it being silky smooth. Yajima makes Risa lose her memories with a big chop to her back. Because Hato never came out of the toilet, they are forced to stop for the day. On a little note, Risa decides to enrol in their university next year.

Episode 7
Sasahara is seen encouraging Ogiue. That’s because her manga really got criticized over the internet. But back to club matters, Ogiue wants to discuss what they’ll be doing for the cultural festival. Obviously for Oono, Kuchiki and Suzy, they want to cosplay. That was quickly shot down and it is suggested they write and sell their own doujin. They call Yabusaki for ideas. Little did they know that she and her friend got kicked out by her club because they helped Genshiken during ComiFest. Even so, she won’t join Genshiken. The question now is what kind of story to write. BL? Well… As long as it’s acceptable to all ages. Ogiue notes the mystery of Hato. It’s not her cross-dressing or love for BL. It is her exceptional art. She was able to switch between drawing styles and may be even better than her. Ogiue hints indirectly she wants to read a manga she writes and this shocks everyone. Ogiue can’t come up with anything to draw after she said that to Hato. Yajima-Yoshitake collaboration ended before it could start due to ‘creative differences’. All that’s left is Hato. She then tells the truth. It seems her art style changes depending on her dress style. As a girl, she can only draw extreme BL scenes. As a boy, let’s say the drawing sucks. While she was Ogiue’s assistant, she only drew backgrounds and that was manageable. So when she’s in girl mode, it’s like some sort of hidden switch got flipped and she becomes possessed and starts drawing the extreme. The discussion ends in a deadlock till Suzy suggests that everyone cooperates.

Ogiue then asks the newbies if they have fallen in love before in high school. That’s because she thought of doing a romance genre as their story. Well, Yajima seems to be acting strange. Could it be she had an experience? She explains she sucked in drawing some anime character but this delinquent guy boasted he could do better and he did. Ever since, he called her ‘Sucky’. By the time he calls her by her real name, that was the last time she talked to him. Everyone thinks this sound like a bully case but Yajima says she thought of it too. However the delinquent took back what he said. As for Yoshitake, her high school days are only filled with getting into arguments and discussions with her fellow BL lovers, so there’s nothing much. Hato is left. However she is blushing. Her face is very red. Yoshitake tries to be aggressive in trying to make her spill out the kind of romance she was involved. Yajima tried to help Hato get out of her sticky predicament but backfired. Hato really doesn’t want to talk or remember about it but Yoshitake remains persistent. She guesses Hato must be popular with guys and girls due to her style. But what about Yoshitake? Isn’t she stylish too? She notes that make-up isn’t to attract guys but to keep other girls in place! Hato is out of options when Kuchiki comes in. He is determined to do some trap cosplay with Hato. Symphogear theme? However Oono denies him that. The guys are not going to cross-dress and cosplay. It would be against Hato’s best interest to keep his identity hidden. So just no. Then they ask him about his high school romance. He easily answers yes. Apparently some unknown girl came out to him to confess and ask him out. While he was doing some topless dance at the bonfire… Don’t ask. Everyone suddenly feels gloomy but Kuchiki feels a great aura of disrespect. Hato notes that it was Kuchiki’s who saved her from her predicament. By the way, how long did Kuchiki dated her? Well, the next day, she told him never mind and he only spoke to her for less than 3 minutes. Ah…

Episode 8
Yoshitake complains to Yajima about Ogiue-Hato pairing to draw a manga for the festival. Ogiue will do the storyline and Hato will draw. She is in a dilemma to draw something or not so Yajima tells her to make up her mind. Hato is at Madarame’s place as usual to change into a girl but his female alter ego keeps bugging him with annoying BL fantasies. Especially when Hato sees an eroge. The one whereby Kousaka cross-dressed and promoted. Heck, they even used his name as that character! His thoughts go wild wondering if Madarame had already played this game and finished Kousaka’s route. Madarame is at the door but Hato’s female alter ego tells him to drop everything and show everything off. Not going to happen. Madarame takes a little walk around the block so Hato could finish changing. He’s worried about the state of his company. Will he get a bonus this year? When he returns, Hato has finished changing. Madarame tries hard to remember that Hato is a boy beneath those clothes despite her girly manner. He invites her in to talk. He realizes the eroge on the desk and tries to hide it but Hato mentions she has already noticed it. This leads to a talk about the cost of buying eroge, BL and clothes. Men’s clothes are less expensive because all you need is just a necktie. Madarame offers to lend the game (or any eroge) to her but since she is blushing, he drops the idea because it looked like sexual harassment. But what Hato is interested in is not the game but his thoughts on it. Madarame did play the game but finds it weird that all the routes have those traps getting pregnant. Hato notes to us unfamiliar viewers that in the world of BL, it is common that guys get pregnant.

Hato then asks the important question if he has cleared Kousaka’s route. Pregnancy ending and in a maternity wedding dress! This causes Hato to fluster that they have gone this far. However Madarame notes he didn’t pretty much like Kousaka’s character. When he wonders if Saki knows about this kind of game, Hato begins to wonder if this causes a tension in the relationship between Saki and Kousaka. Perhaps then Madarame will have a comeback chance. She wanted to fantasize a Kousaka x Madarame plot with Saki but in BL, you can’t really include girls. When Madarame also mentions he doesn’t mind being called uke, Hato apologizes to him for that Kuchiki incident. She has already properly told him off and it’s okay for him to come back to the clubroom. Madarame feels it’s not good for a graduate to hang around his old university forever. He feels awkward to stay there and think a change of scene would be a good idea. Part of him tells him to stay away from university. Hato blames herself she started calling him uke and thinking of BL pairings of him that led to this. She mentions about the festival and hopes he could come. Asking what Genshiken will be doing for that, Hato says Ogiue told her to draw a normal non-BL manga but all she has ever drawn was only BL. Madarame says she should draw what she wants because if it gets bad, Ogiue will stop her. She notes despite being called uke, he doesn’t ask people to hold back. Madarame promises to come. Back at Genshiken, Hato will do her best to draw a non-BL manga.

Episode 9
Sasahara compliments Ogiue’s manga. All that is left is to do the art at Hato’s place. Sasahara allows it but Ogiue thought he should’ve said no. Hato may be a cross-dresser but he’s still a guy underneath and should be worried. I suppose Sasahara wanted to get closer with Ogiue but her handphone rings. She has a bad feeling of this. Suzy and Hato are at the door. Interrupted something? In the clubroom, Yoshitake is ranting about her convoluted storyline. Whatever. Once again, Hato’s drawing turns into extreme BL. This time using Ogiue’s characters. Yoshitake is desperate to watch (and learn) how she draws porn BL but Yajima takes her away to finish their own work. Ogiue guides Hato to draw while she is cross-dressed and gives her encouragement that she isn’t copying. From Hato’s words, she could guess she is talking about that person when they were talking about love then. High school senior who is good at drawing and a fujoshi. Harima comes in to give them the rules for their cosplay during the festival. Harima tries to flirt with Mikako Takeya (Hato’s current pen name) but his friend warns he will report his every move to Mikami. After the guys leave, Hato couldn’t control her BL mode and starts drawing it. Oono gets a call from Saki saying that she and Kousaka will come to the festival. Oono is happy that she is able to make her cosplay but she hung up. Yajima’s old friend, Mimasaka turns up at Genshiken and compliments Yajima’s good art. Yoshitake thought of making her see reality but realizes their friendship bond is strong. Then Yoshitake’s old buddies show up and they haven’t lost touch of their eccentricity. A couple of girls, Konno and Fuji just arrive at the festival and they thought they saw their senior, Kaminaga. They are looking for Hato. When Madarame arrives, Hato feels bad about the awkward situation he will be in when Saki and Kousaka turns up. When Keiko arrives, she bluntly teases Madarame about Saki coming. This causes Hato to think that she might be the only one who didn’t know Madarame likes Saki. Keiko teases Madarame might be going out with Hato because the latter was staring at her. Well, we know it’s physically impossible. Hato is surprised when Konno and Fuji turn up in the room. She hopes they won’t recognize her and is confident they will not since her voice sounds much cuter and they’ll never think about the cross-dressing part. Thanks to her pen name, they didn’t see the similarity although they find the drawing as similar to Kaminaga’s. Suddenly Kuchiki blabs about Hato returning to dressing in such a way. However she is not Hato but Kaminaga.

Episode 10
Kaminaga did note that Kuchiki mistaken her for Hato. Which means she is around. Madarame points out to where Hato is. Bad move? Konno takes a closer look but still couldn’t believe. Kaminaga takes off Hato’s wig. Now you believe? Konno starts crying and blames herself. Ogiue takes them outside to talk. Flashback reveals Konno, Fuji and the rest of the girls in the art club used to admire Kaminaga’s extreme BL drawings. Konno teased Hato’s ugly drawing despite his intention to become an artist. Hato’s older brother, Yuichirou used to pick him and Kaminaga back. He didn’t understand about Kaminaga’s BL fantasies and asserts he is not into this gay stuff. Kaminaga loved BL stuffs so much so she even starts having BL fantasies of the brothers. One day Kaminaga forgot to bring her BL drawings back so Hato spotted them and looked through them in the toilet. He is of course amazed. When he returns, he sees Konno looking for them. Realizing it is in his hands, Hato reveals he likes BL stuffs. Konno gets the wrong idea that he looked through those BL drawings in the toilet. Soon the atmosphere in the art club changed. Hato hardly attends it and by the time Kaminaga graduated, rumours spread throughout school that he is gay. Konno is inconsolable and blames herself that it is her fault for telling her club members about Hato looking through BL stuffs in the toilet and thus led him to cross-dress. Hato assures her she is still the same person despite her different outside appearance. Kaminaga says if Hato really wanted to see her pictures, all she had to do was ask. She wonders if she was displaying drawings of hers, why did they mistake Hato for Kaminaga? Ogiue explains that Hato comes as a boy but only dresses so in Genshiken. Hato has switches outfits so people won’t identify her and one of them looked very much like Kaminaga. Kaminaga is impressed and would really like to see it but Konno thinks she’s being rude. She hints a reason why Hato would dress like her. It is because Hato always liked her.

Hato explains she always looked up to her and wanted to be like her (in BL terms). However as noted by Konno, in the end Yuichirou ended up with Kaminaga. What is she trying to imply? As Kaminaga puts it, a macho big brother with a girlfriend while a quiet and delicate little brother cross-dresses to look like his big brother’s girl. So? Hato wants to be like Kaminaga and be loved by Yuichirou! Hats off for her fantastic BL imagination… Even Ogiue and Hato nods in agreement and starts discussing the kind of story they can set for this. With both sides making amends, Kaminaga says they can start over as fellow fujoshi. She informs that she will get married to Yuichirou next spring. This is the reason she came here as Yuichirou wanted her to tell Hato personally. This means Kaminaga would be living in their house and can observe the brothers in their natural activity! Anything can fuel her BL imagination. Kaminaga adds that looking back, she thinks Yuichirou might have known how Hato felt. Kaminaga asks one final question. If Hato cross-dresses and likes BL, won’t her sexuality change? She says she just likes the genre but isn’t into guys. Kaminaga says that is a common line in BL. Especially, “I’m not in guys. I’m into you!”. Wondering if there is anybody who knows Hato’s real identity and yet hangs out with him. Yeah. It might be Madarame. Oh, here he is stumbling out from hiding behind the pillar before hiding back again. He was tasked by the girls to eavesdrop on them (since the cosplayers cannot leave the room). He has been making excuses why he can’t get near. Suzy tried pushing him but he won’t budge. Till she gave the ultimate move: A kiss on his cheek! He almost had a heart attack and reprimands Suzy. Then he has a bad feeling. Yup. Saki saw it and calls him a lolicon.

Episode 11
Hato sees Konno and Fuji off while Saki returns to the rest. Kousaka isn’t with her as he is in some game tournament. From what I hear, seems Tanaka and Oono are dating and the former isn’t sure of starting up a cosplay business. Annoying Keiko is also here to give her business cards to the guys. She had to point out she gave one to Madarame but he didn’t come at all. Saki says he wouldn’t. Because he’s a lolicon and a loser. She also mentions how he rejected Angela. This only proves he is a lolicon, no? Hato tries to vouch for Madarame. She did clean his room and find some eroges lying around. Keiko then discovers Hato is a guy and tries to flip her skirt just for prove! She insists on a proof so Hato whispers in her ear her manly voice. Saki thinks how popular Madarame has become. Suzy, Hato, Angela and even Keiko. She thinks of teasing him and mentions about the S&M game he had. Of course Hato tries to cover for him and mentions she didn’t find anything while cleaning his room. Try searching harder. Madarame is confident they won’t find anything no matter where they search till he realizes something. And then Hato also realizes. Dead giveaway. Something fishy… Remember Saki’s cosplay photos? Yeah. That. When Hato whispers to Madarame about this, he bolts from the room. She goes to find him and Keiko bugs Hato to tell what she exactly said. She can guess it’s something about Madarame liking Saki. Hato wonders if this is an open secret so she tells her. Keiko couldn’t believe her ass. Keiko hatches a devilish plan. Why don’t they make Madarame tell her that himself. Hato is thinking about his feelings and doesn’t want this forced upon him. Keiko blames Hato as the one for starting this and wrecked any chance of Madarame’s wish of wanting things to stay the same. Because it’s tiring to keep a secret that everyone already knows. Madarame is an idiot and can’t deal with it. That’s why he ran away.

Keiko and Hato find Saki and Madarame respectively to let them talk alone in the clubroom. Oh, Sasahara and Kousaka in cosplay are there. Surprise? Oh. Kousaka won the tournament. Kousaka and Sasahara return to the rest. They wonder if Kousaka is okay with Saki and Madarame alone. He is. Because he likes Madarame too. Doesn’t that give off the wrong impression? When the duo are alone, we see Madarame sweating in his pants and nervous while Saki is just cool. He tries to hint but is she playing dumb? Since Madarame is just nervous, Saki starts off talking about old times. Like how he first teased her by putting cat ears on her and probably thought he likes her. There’s the hint. Madarame thinks back wondering if that was the first time he liked her. It couldn’t be. Because it was when he first saw her cosplaying. He is in a dilemma to tell her. What is the use of doing so if you well know you’re going to get rejected? So he says it was her nose hair sticking out back then. He wasn’t brave enough to say it so it was easier to pretend he had forgotten. Is that what he really wanted to say with tears in his eyes? She’s okay with it. She adds she has Kousaka now and can’t be with him. Asking if Kousaka wasn’t around, would it have been him? Saki hints they might have a future together. Madarame felt a huge relief. It’s like the burden was lifted off his shoulders. Saki then suddenly starts crying. It’s like she’s relieved too. Those years she swore she wouldn’t act like she already knew but it just made her feel like she was hurting him. Madarame denies that was so. Now he knows Saki does cry easily and those days were indeed fun.

Episode 12
The duo emerge from the room and Saki admits that Madarame confessed and she rejected him. Keiko pesters Saki for details. Madarame wonders about the cosplay pictures about her. It’s up to him. In that case, he’ll keep it. He wants to leave but Keiko forces him to go back to tell the rest of Genshiken. To Madarame’s dismay, it seems everyone in Genshiken knew about his crush on Saki. Kousaka surprises everyone by saying he thought this would happen. If it did, he hopes Madarame would love him too! Is that a line he took from that eroge’s harem route? Kousaka then has Ogiue, Hato, Oono and Saki cosplay as the girls from that eroge so that Madarame could have a group picture of them. When they part, Saki asks about Madarame’s work. He thinks of quitting. She tells him not to. But she hopes he will drop by the university from time to time. Because it may really unlock his harem route. Meanwhile Oono submits another cosplay request but the teacher warns her about her thesis since she still has not have secured any job after graduation. Oono is in a dilemma because she loves to cosplay and now it’s the peak season. At this rate she won’t be able to find a job till next year. Though Tanaka could pay for her, Oono wants to pay her own way. Even if she ends up being just a housewife. Yoshitake suggests doing a cosplay CD and earn some big money from it. Oono talks to Tanaka about her problems and he is encouraging and supportive of the decisions she will make although the future is still uncertain.

I guess Oono becomes desperate as she couldn’t secure a job so she decides to do a cosplay CD. She starts posing in erotic ways despite it was agreed they were striving for generally accepted atmosphere. Touched by his consideration, Oono starts posing even more erotic. Yajima couldn’t hold it any longer and tells the truth. It was all Yoshitake’s plan. She made Oono drink an entire bottle of sake, though initially it was supposed to be a bit but Oono was tough. Tanaka reminds her the dangers in doing a cosplay CD so she breaks down relating her problems in finding a job. He tries to comfort her but is being told by Yajima how edgy she is lately. He explains he got into cosplay business because of her. He came this far only by making outfits after outfits for her to wear. Whether he will work for a company or starts his own, he was planning to make cosplay his business. Despite the uncertain future, he will think of something and help her cosplay forever. So please wait for him. The rest quickly understood that Tanaka proposed to Oono. Oono is so happy that she decides to go back to school for another year and wait. Hope she isn’t serious in that. When the newbies return to the clubroom, they see Madarame hanging around. He just returned from Akihabara. On a weekday? What about work? He quit. He has decided to live a life of a loser. Hato seems to be feeling responsible so after she changes in his room, she rushes out and hugs him! She hopes he will not stop coming to the club. Madarame is taken aback with the sudden turn of events. Is his really happening? His harem route?

Episode 13
Suzy, Yajima and Yoshitake are at Madarame’s place and blaming him. Something must have happened because Hato stopped coming to the club and even his cross-dressing ways. It felt like Madarame’s job quit was a big deal for Hato. Suzy forces him to call Hato but the ex-cross-dresser did not pick up. Even Yajima spotted Hato (in boy form) at university but he quickly ran away. Clearly he doesn’t want to see them. Suzy then suggests a club trip to Karuizawa. All the Genshiken members (including Hato – they sent a telegram to him since he wasn’t picking up!) turn up and Madarame is the only ex-member. I suppose they have a plan. But Kuchiki can’t be naughty because Suzy is really mad… You don’t want to make her angry… At Karuizawa, seems Yoshitake becomes the tour guide and rants her extensive knowledge about those Sengoku generals she loves so much. Too much history… At the inn, Kuchiki thought he could satiate his anime needs as he has brought his laptop, WiFi, etc. Till Madarame points out there is no internet connection here. Bummer. The conversation between Madarame and Hato is awkward but at least they’re talking. When it is time to go to the hotspring, everyone would love Hato to come as a girl. Because Yajima is the only one who actually saw Hato’s ‘thing’ she has a hard time trying to object to that. She can’t explain it either or else. As usual, Yoshitake’s mind is too small for a big pervert like her. She even admits her fantasy train in her mind is out of control! Everyone takes a dip except for Ogiue who is talking to Hato. She relates how she was very embarrassed when she admitted to Sasahara she used him in her BL works. She had drawn dozens of them. In the end, she felt glad she was able to change. She asks if Hato regrets being here right now. Not really. And that is good enough. Kuchiki still wants to seduce Hato but before he could sneak up on him, Suzy gives the ultimate Street Fighter combo that knocks the daylights out of him. I want to know what buttons to press just to do that!!!

Girls talk in the hotspring. Touching boobs and the likes. Courtesy of Yoshitake. Nobody can control her. Madarame and Hato continue their talk. The latter asks his next plan in life. Find a job. Duh. Hato apologizes for everything and Madarame admitted that he had thoughts Hato stopped coming to his place to dress up for good to stop cross-dressing. Has he? Not sure. He thinks he has to at some point. Why? Because things will change. Everyone too. Like how Madarame did on his job. He dismisses it was related to it this way and that Hato is a genuine otaku. That part of him won’t change. Everyone has their own fetish. It is not important if he cross-dresses or not. If he wants to, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t. Keep it simple. Back in the room, Kuchiki has horrifying thoughts about his blackout. He thinks he has been kidnapped by aliens and being conducted experiments on! Well, Suzy is the alien. And she suggests of continuing the dissection! Everybody votes for Hato to cross-dress as a girl. They prefer him/her that way. Besides, didn’t Hato bring all the necessary stuffs? And so we welcome back female Hato for the first time making her appearance in this episode. Even Yajima approves. Although she is still against cross-dressing but has gotten used to Hato’s ways. Then everyone discusses what to do for next year’s festival and other club activities. Cheeky Suzy prepared a futon side by side for Madarame and Hato. Too bad idiotic Kuchiki had to ruin it when he drops ‘dead’ on it. The club trip continues. Everyone had their fun before heading back. Hato seems happier.

OVA
This takes place before the newbies join Genshiken and I suppose it’s to give the older members of Genshiken some screen time. Back to the time when Suzy and Angela visited Japan and meet up with Genshiken for the ComiFest. It somewhat explains why Suzy and Ogiue are close to each other. Seems Suzy stayed at Ogiue’s place and since she speaks nothing but Japanese anime lines, it was hard for Ogiue trying to figure out things. The ‘epic’ things that I remember about Suzy is how she punched Sasahara in the guts, requesting to wear Ogiue’s shima pantsu when she gets out of the bath and finding the hidden stack of Ogiue’s hidden drawings behind the shelf. And the most surprising thing? She can actually understand Japanese! Much to Ogiue’s frustration. The second half sees the gang heading to Naritasan for New Year’s Day. The group splits itself into 2. Ogiue, Sasahara, Madarame, Kugayama and Suzy decide to pay their respects at the shrine while the rest follow Kuchiki via some alley shortcut to some drinking bar. Epic scene: Suzy forcing Madarame to let her ride on his shoulder. Meanwhile the girls are getting drunk at the bar and making fun of Kuchiki who has been out cold. It’s getting out of control. So when Ogiue’s group stops for tea at a rest area, the drinking spree has just gotten worse. Especially with Oono going on a rampage. Madarame excuses himself to go to toilet but gets lost. Tanaka finds Ogiue’s group and brings them to the bar. At that time, Kuchiki has been stripped! Saki excuses herself to the toilet and bumps into Madarame. She collapses but he catches her. Actually she wants to go to the toilet. After that, they walk back to the bar before proceeding to watch the sunrise. When Suzy flies back to America, Ogiue realizes she has stolen something from her: Her panties.

The Society For The Study Of BL And Yaoi Culture
I can’t say I am impressed in any sort of way. For one thing, I don’t seem to understand where this season is leading and can’t make any head or tail of it. I might not remember much about the original Genshiken series but I remember the quirky characters and the otaku parodies that made the club so. But then again, it’s perhaps their way of doing things. So what happens to everyone in the end? Life goes on. Pretty generic. Maybe it is because I am not really a knowledgeable person in the otaku world so I don’t really understand the tiff between Hato and Madarame in the end. Was it that careless uke statement that led up to all this and him quitting his job whatsoever? I can’t seem to connect the dots even if it’s staring at my face so please, somebody tell me what’s going on. Oh, I’m too lazy to even do my own research since like I said, I wasn’t impressed. Therefore I’m not interested. Really. So in the end, everything was like, meh. Hato (or whoever that character we’ve been put in the shoes of as first person view) returns to the club. Yay. Hooray. Happy ending. Good for everyone. Read, sarcasm.

Seems like Genshiken has pretty much changed since I last know them. There is no more that familiarity anymore. At least some of the obvious parts. Last time it was male majority but now it is pretty much female dominated. Not counting the old members, Kuchiki is the only true guy in the club. Hato? Erm… So girly that I am starting to believe he is more of a girl than a guy. Also, the club has somewhat turned into a BL club with almost everyone seemingly having a fair love for that topic. Some are more passionate than others who would prefer to probably be a closet fujoshi. I don’t think Kuchiki is into BL but his initially weird personality towards Hato could mean that he prefers having BL relationship in real life instead of being confined to his imagination. I don’t remember Oono being into BL as she is more into cosplay. Oh yeah. She is into bald old men… To each his/her own. Maybe Genshiken should change its name to something like Ya-Ken-Bu. Hmm… Doesn’t even sound good. There are a good amount of BL scenes (courtesy of Hato’s fantasies of changing in Madarame’s room and those eroges) and drawings (courtesy of female Hato going wild and extreme as an unstoppable BL drawing machine) to make you believe this is a BL themed anime but stops short of showing anything suggestive. If it does, the good ol’ mosaic will perfectly do its job.

A big chunk of this season seems to focus on Hato and Madarame. At least that is how I viewed it. About Hato’s cross-dressing conundrum and possible his/her confused feelings for Madarame. That guy too seems to have lingering feelings all because of Saki and I suppose it is good that he finally gets it out of his system and settled it once and for all. He wasn’t the prankster I knew him and somewhat toned down very much. Maybe life has really got to him. Hato is a bit hard to understand. I know he wants to be accepted for who he is without hurting anyone. So much so I think he has developed some sort of personality disorder. Especially when he is in boy form, his female alter ego can be seen hanging around him like a fairy trying to provoke this guy into embracing yaoi and doing all that lewd stuffs that is only limited as far as her wild imagination can take her. But when his female side takes over in reality, she’s quite shy and so girly that in your wildest dream you would never have thought she was a guy. A nightmare if you find out.

The other new characters are rather okay. At least with enough screen time it makes you feel like they’ve already been long part of the club. Yajima hardly ever smiles so much so I don’t remember she ever did. It’s like that grumpy looks is always part of her face and the only other emotion besides that gruffly moody exterior is when she flusters thinking she might have said the wrong thing or made the wrong decision. But that hardly is any different from that moody look too. Yoshitake can be labelled as the cheeky and mischievous one and even surpassing Suzy. Well, we all already accepted Suzy is kind of weird so no matter what she does, it won’t be a surprise. It’s like that girl has is crazy but not crazy enough to qualify to be put into a mental asylum. And there you have it. Suzy running around free in the campus and saying lines that don’t make sense for half of the time. But for Yoshitake, she is like riot if left alone and uncontrolled. Maybe that’s why Yajima is always with her. I kinda noticed that they’re like a pair in this sense. Could be a potential manzai comedy duo if they ever decide to get into this after graduation. I wonder what happened to Yabusaki after the ComiFest. She got kicked out and then what? It’s like she’s tsundere for Genshiken especially Ogiue but won’t admit it because of her pride and perhaps well, she’s tsundere. From my observation, I think Suzy also has this particular liking for Ogiue because of the way she blatantly says Ogiue belongs to her. Like her panties. Konno, Fuji and Kaminaga’s cameo appearance felt like it was just to push forth Hato’s past and story and let this series go somewhere.

Other old returning characters besides Madarame feel okay too. It’s like they have matured from the last time. Ogiue as the latest Genshiken president doesn’t feel like she had an impact overall in the series since Madarame and Hato hogged the spotlight. I felt her significance took a serious impact ever since she got sick during ComiFest. Oono, she’s still there doing fine and Kuchiki another weirdo but falls into the loser category. I thought he had the potential to be the funny guy even though it would be annoying but like I said, Madarame and Hato hogged everything so this guy is one of those who doesn’t have any important scenes unless it is for comic relief. The fool of the club. Feel free to ignore him as you wish. Other ex-Genshiken members pop up from time to time perhaps just to tell us they’re still attached to the club even after graduating and to make it feel like it was yesterday once more. Because new characters and different people might change our perspectives of the old entirely.

Saki oddly I remember her as the only Genshiken member who hates otaku activities but is forced to hang out in the club because of Kousaka. She’s willing to go this far for love? Don’t blame her. Here, Saki exudes an air of maturity. She even looks matured into a lady instead of that young adult look. She’s still cool and you can’t easily take her for a fool. Of course just like any other girl, also cries and feels insecure. She just doesn’t show it. Kousaka remains cool too and I don’t remember him getting upset ever. It’s like he is a very understanding guy but has no qualms doing cross-dressing. All part of being an otaku? Not much scenes for Sasahara unless it involves Ogiue but their love story may be reserved for another day (or another season). I don’t remember Tanaka being into cosplay because I thought he was into plastic models, though I barely remember he is also a cosplay designer. But then again, I don’t really know him that well. Worse appearance of the old school Genshiken members goes to Kugayama. So unnoticeable that you may think he is just some furniture following the rest. Haha! Oops. I think there was even a time in the next episode preview that Kugayama was worried if he would make more appearances. Not that I noticed. Even if he did, it didn’t make any lasting impact. Oh wait. Remember the first mysterious president of Genshiken? Don’t remember him? Neither do I. And Angela… Her brief return was possibly the flag that led to how the rest of this season is played out. Keiko is a little daring. I wonder if her failure to get her hands on Kousaka causes her to shift to Madarame. Or maybe she just enjoys teasing him. That’s because she likes him, right?

The romance feels on and off and doesn’t amount to anything much. Not at least what I thought it would be. It makes me wonder if Hato really likes Madarame or maybe it is just his BL fantasies. Then of course the season ended with Madarame closing the chapter of his secret crush on Saki. Sasahara and Oguie’s relationship felt like it didn’t go anywhere. Not at least I can see. They’re still the same as before, both pretty much occupied and busy with their own stuffs. I’m not sure if there is any headway in Saki and Kousaka’s relationship but I suppose there should be since they’re still going strong together and Saki learning to accept Kousaka’s odd fetish for cosplaying and even as a trap. I wonder if Kousaka is a bi because from the way he ambiguously put things, it’s like he is okay with either side. Tanaka and Oono seem to be going somewhere though it is just hinting. Just thinking about Ogiue-Suzy got me thinking if this will ever turn into something yuri. Ironic. Yuri in a yaoi club? It also got me thinking at the possibility of Madarame getting a harem. I know it won’t happen but imagine if it did. That won’t feel like Genshiken anymore…

Watching the art and drawing style for this season, it seems there are some changes. Although the obvious is not much but you can tell there is a difference. From what I can see, Nidaime’s art style follows closely of the manga. Something that animes these days are getting pretty much into. Personally, I thought it lacks that ‘refined beauty’ that I saw first in the prequels. Not to say the previous Genshiken’s series had quite excellent art but this season’s one seems simpler than before. For instance, Oono’s hairstyle once reminded me that she popped up from some Japanese ghost horror movie since her bangs are quite messy. Now her black flowing hair looks pretty mild here. Some of the characters look pretty odd especially Konno and Fuji. Look at their eyes. Konno’s eyes are so big like as though she came out from an American comic strip while Fuji has bug eyes. Creepy? Yajima looks so frumpy that I really thought this woman was a guy and thus I was annoyed about the mismatch of her voice to the character. Then she turns out to be female. Yikes. I thought Fuji too looked very manly but the scrawny type. Suzy is already so odd that the crazy looks befit her and it passes without me having to feel weird about her. The bags underneath Kaminaga’s eyes, I thought she looked very much like To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Kiyama.

An aspect that is totally changed is the voice acting department. Every character has been given a new seiyuu to voice! For instance, I remember Ayako Kawasumi was the voice behind Oono. Now she is replaced with Yukana (C.C. In Code Geass). I know it feels odd at first but I got used to it. But the good thing is that despite they sound different, they sound as close as possible to the character. But you can still tell the difference. The replaced casts include Nozomi Yamamoto as Ogiue (Yukimura in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai), Rina Satou as Saki (Haruka in Minami-ke), Jun Fukuyama as Kuchiki (Grell in Kuroshitsuji), Naomi Oozora as Suzy (Yuragi in Noukome), Ikumi Hayama as Keiko Tatsuya (Shinobu in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun S), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Madarame (Tasuku in Seikon No Qwaser), Momoko Ohara as Kousaka (Miyashita in Mitsudomoe), Kobashi as Sasahara (Jack Roland in Strait Jacket), Takayuki Kondo as Tanaka (Oishi in Prince Of Tennis) and Misa Kobayashi as Angela. As for the new ones, Yumi Uchida as Yajima (Nagisa in A Channel), Sumire Uesaka as Yoshitake (Tamaki in GJ-Bu), Shou Saotome as Risa, Yuri Yamaoka as Konno (Choi in Tamako Market) and Risa Taneda as Fuji (Xenovia in High School DxD New). Hato’s character has been given 2 seiyuus to reflect the gender that character is in. Ai Kakuma (Hikari in Campione) does the female version while Kazutomi Yamamoto (Yoshida in Blood Lad) takes on the male version. Oh, there’s a pleasant cameo by Mamiko Noto as Kaminaga.

The anime rock outfit opening theme, Genshi, Joshi Wa, Taiyou Datta by Sumire Uesaka has cute opening lyrics. The ending theme, Aoku Yureteiru sung by the seiyuus of Ogiue, Hato, Yajima and Yoshitake sounds like a generic anime pop. As usual, there are lots of trivia for you to see. I have spotted a few myself and though it is just a fraction of the anime culture shown, I am proud of my achievement! See if you can tally up some of them here as I did on Anime News Network. Oh, the in-anime show of Kujibiki Unbalance is not seen here. Unless you consider those cameo cosplay pictures like the photos of Saki in Madarame’s hands as one.

The point is everyone is their own otaku in their own way. Nobody has the right to tell you what is good and what is not for you. Although what they say is not really your business anyway. Freedom of speech and expression, I’d say. Then again, you have to consider the laws and moral implications especially about cross-dressing. Sure you’re fine, your close friends are fine but what about everybody else? Can’t say it’s none of their business, right? Only way is to make otaku culture mainstream if you want the people around the world to wholeheartedly accept. So can we start off by saying otaku culture isn’t for geeks, perverts or losers in life. Otaku culture is the new way of life!

Suddenly! Picture snapping sounds are heard while someone is enjoying soaking in the bath! Suddenly! A faint click is heard in the girls’ changing room! Suddenly! You hear somebody clicking away outside in your front lawn yard as you just get up from bed with your hair still messy and your unkempt face enough to scare away monsters! What???!!! You mean, Fuu has not become an aggressive camera monster?! Then what in the world is the word ‘aggressive’ for anyway?! My first impressions of Tamayura ~more aggressive~ was somewhat like this. For a slow and calming anime, I thought there was going to be a real makeover that would shock us all. It didn’t. Good thing indeed. YOU CAN NEVER EVER TAINT OR CORRUPT THIS ANIME, PLEASE!

And so here I am again with another season of this ‘healing’ anime. As usual, after being corrupted with all the ecchi fanservice, nonsensical jokes and bloody violence, once in a while it is good to see a ‘boring’ anime just to detoxify all that stuff before repeating it again. Yeah. Why bother watching it if I am going to be corrupted again? Well, I didn’t think this was a bad anime despite the slow and calming nature and detoxifying is just an excuse for me to watch and put a tick to my ‘have watched’ anime list. Hah. Given the nature of this anime, you must be thinking what kind of aggressiveness Fuu and her friends would be for this season. Don’t worry. There is nothing shocking that will make you lose your sleep. Aggressiveness just like the flow of this anime is something in its mildest form.

Episode 1
We hear Fuu narrate how she bid farewell to her house in Tokyo and moved to the sleepy countryside town of Takehara after her father’s demise. There were lots of memories and she believes her dad is smiling on her in Heaven. That’s why she wants to photograph more aggressively than before. Her friends noticing her spacing out and when she snaps out of it, they discuss the eventful year when Fuu returned to Takehara a year ago. She felt the people and town never changed and was welcoming her back. Kaoru also notes she was nervous because she was worried if Fuu hated this place as it reminded her of her father. She was even worried how to greet her. When Fuu stepped out of that station, she did change. She’s talking about her camera. She is happy to see her using her dad’s camera and it’s a sign she has gotten over her father’s passing and made the decision to come here herself. They also talk about the exhibition about themselves that was a hit. That night Kaoru calls Chihiro to ask about her spacing out syndrome. She calls it the Potte-nyon Syndrome because you can’t snap her out for a really long time. There’s nothing to worry about. Next morning, Fuu gets an encouraging message from Chihiro. Fuu takes a walk and starts early so she could take pictures along the way. Was she trying to capture Momoneko? She couldn’t by the way. Her friends are worried if there is something on her mind. She was thinking of the exhibition and the people who came to see. She can’t wait to do it again as many people felt warmth in their heart after seeing it. Fuu also mentions when she becomes a second year, she wants to start a photography club. At Hoboro, they discuss with Sayomi on how to form a club. She had a torrid experience. A lot of paperwork but it was rejected. So shocked she never told anyone. Yeah, I can see why they rejected her Paranormal Investigation Club. Don’t worry about her. They talk about the need to recruit members and Kaoru adds it is because of Fuu that the exhibition happened. They cheered her on and will continue to do so. If she can’t recruit any members, they’ll join. Fuu then gets a call from Chihiro who heard about her intention to form a photography call. She lets Tomo speak and she’s quite talkative. They are working on a project to send to Fuu. When Fuu goes home, she tells her mom about her photography club creation. Thanks to dad’s camera, she met so many people dear to her and will give this club everything she has. Mommy supports her decision. Soon, Fuu soon receives a fabric collage by Chihiro and Tomo to encourage and congratulate her efforts.

Episode 2
Fuu and her friends are now second years. Fuu has submitted her application to form a photography club. However she isn’t confident to be the club’s president. The girls discuss their various ‘leaderships’ in odd ‘clubs’ in their early days when Komachi comes in eagerly to show a magazine photo. It is a photo with Fuu in it during the festivals last year and in this award category, it ended as the judges pick. They learn the photo was taken from a high school girl called Kanae Mitani. Komachi then shows another award winning picture. A picture of Kou! Enough to send serial Kou lover Norie into frenzy. But that turns into surprise when she learns the photographer is no other than Komachi! And isn’t that Norie spinning in the background? Why that cheeky brat! Norie tries to make a deal with Komachi to let her view some of her shots of Kou. She’ll think about it… Now for the good news. The photography club has been approved. Hooray! Mutsuko Shimokamiyama is assigned to be the club’s advisor and since she’s a new teacher, she’s also a klutz. Which means, fun? She takes Fuu to her clubroom but ends up opening the door of the drama club. Somebody got killed in the midst! Just acting! Shimokamiyama learns about Fuu’s father and her passion for photography. Fuu asks about the photo from Kanae and she can tell she is a girl of this school and a senior. Shimokamiyama prides herself in remembering all the names of this school’s students, although she doesn’t know what she looks like. After she leaves for a meeting, Fuu’s friends come in to surprise congratulate her but she was spacing out. Wasted… Fuu didn’t know there was a meeting among club presidents. She got her tongue tied and quite panicky that somebody else had to help her finish her introduction. Guess what? This meeting will be regular every month. Bummer. Not enough time to take photos, eh? While her friends try to cheer her up or find a solution to accompany Fuu to the meeting, they go talk to Maestro. This reminds him of a photography club he and Fuu’s father was in. There was another kid named Nozomu Natsume in their group. He was a fantastic photographer and used to win awards with his shots. He was probably the reason Fuu’s dad got interested in photography. But unlike Nozomu, Fuu’s dad didn’t enter any contest and just go around snapping shots as he likes. Because he enjoys it that way. Maestro comments that everyone loves Fuu’s photos too and this gives her the encouragement to do her best. Norie then gets an idea to form a Potte club to encourage her. Back in a classroom, a girl comes in asking to confirm about the newly formed photography club.

Episode 3
Fuu is a nervous wreck. Today is the day clubs go onstage to present themselves to recruit members. She is stiff and tongue tied so much so nobody could understand what she wanted to say. They even think this might be some historical drama club. Back at the clubroom (Potte club is borrowing photography club’s room for convenience), they discuss about that girl Kanae who came in but soon said goodbye and left. They wonder if she was angry Fuu went to form a photography club without her. Was there such a rule? Shimokamiyama is eager for Fuu to enter some photography contests but it seems Fuu needs to take pictures first. Duh. Also, first thing in order is to find new recruits. Potte club’s first mission is to spy on Kanae. When they meet, Kanae runs away! Don’t tell me they’re that scary. Sayomi has a surprise for Fuu. Norie is squealing with delight seeing Kou coming into the picture (and fantasizing some proposal he would say to her). But it turns into a scream of horror when Komachi pops up. Not too enthusiastic now, isn’t she? Seems the young ones have done a congratulations banner for Fuu in becoming a photography club president. Soon they discuss about Kanae and the picture she took. Fuu is worried she is angry but Sayomi tells her it is her first job as club president to find out what she was trying to say. While Fuu nervously practises talking to Kanae by herself, Dougou announces over the PA for her to come to the teacher’s room. Partly, that was some blatant advertising for the photography club too. Seems he and Shimokamiyama have come up with a plan to increase the club’s popularity. Fuu will capture the passing seasons and all the memories of high school that will be put in the year-end album. Also, for the sakura festival, there will be concerts and such, they want Fuu to go onstage to perform. After Dougo’s passionate speech and backing, Fuu will do it. She also gets the courage to talk to Kanae. When they first meet, Kanae runs away! Again? After Fuu catches up, Kanae instantly apologizes for taking a picture of her without permission. Fuu isn’t worried about that at all and shows her several photos she took in the clubroom. Kanae is amazed and relates her story how she wanted to start a photography club when she was a first year. But she didn’t have the confident to be president and lost the will when she learnt there were many other things to do like recruiting. So when Fuu formed it, she was curious to see what it’s like. She summoned her courage to take a peek but became a bundle of nerves. She was also at Fuu’s exhibition and loved all her photos. She thinks her success in the contest was pure luck and Fuu’s is much better. Of course Fuu disagrees because she too wants to learn from her. She hopes Kanae will join the club and she gladly accepts after being impressed with her aggressiveness. They take a photo of themselves for commemoration.

Episode 4
Seems Fuu hasn’t decided on what to perform for the sakura festival. Kanae will leave it to her and accept her decision. Pressure… But Dougou already has a plan. He’ll play his guitar while the duo dance and display their photographs. He feels there is something missing but promises to work on it. The girls tell Fuu that it’s okay to say no but Fuu decides to go ahead with it because she feels what Dougou is trying to tell them is that as long as they have fun, so will the audience. As the girls survey the stage (Fuu is already experiencing nervousness), they also see sakura trees planted by people for commemoration of events. There is one that belongs to Sayomi too. Back home, Fuu’s mom explains that the Cultivation Committee was only founded in the year Fuu was born. Father immediately left to plant one for her. There is a picture of it but was purposely left blur. Thanks to that, only daddy knows where the tree is. But the purpose is to let Fuu go on a treasure hunt when she gets into middle school. Dougou has finally found the perfect solution: Hoboro will be singing on stage too. She’s running a stall at the festival so she’s glad to help out. We think Dougou has an ulterior motive for doing that, don’t we? On the day of the festival, Norie’s booth is popular. She is not too happy to learn Kou and Komachi are together. I think Komachi is trying to lead him to say “I love Komachi” because she is asking if she likes those Komachi bamboos. However Kou is more interested in the treasure hunt. Momoneko sees the picture and suddenly guides them. Due to some accidental acrobatic stunt while serving at Hoboro’s stall, Dougou hurt his hands and can’t play his guitar. Will they cancel their performance? Fuu won’t. Not after everyone has put their thought and effort into it. At first Fuu and Kanae are a bundle of nerves going on stage and singing like robots. But they soon become calm and are natural. But the audience find it weird… Hmm… Must be the choice of the song. Perhaps the photos were the saving grace. At the end of the performance, their friends congratulate them for a fine performance and that Fuu looked like a true leader back there. Kou rushes to bring the gang along as he has found their sakura tree. There it is, sitting nicely. Somewhere I don’t know of course. Kou credits Momoneko in helping them find it. Fuu is glad to see the tree and takes a photo of it. She finds the view to be exactly in the picture except the tree has grown bigger.

Episode 5
Fuu seems to be more ‘aggressive’ in taking photos of the students. Even entering the tennis court right in the middle of their play! But for Kanae, she erases those she feels are mistakes. Shimokamiyama suggests the girls to enter a photograph of sakura trees taken within Hiroshima. This time Fuu and Kanae are up for the challenge. The duo go around taking photographs of sakura trees they can find but none that has that satisfying feel. They bump into Sayomi and tell her what they are doing. She knows an excellent spot and will bring them there tomorrow. The way she laughs doesn’t sound good… And so everybody meets up. Sayomi even made a big banner to advertise for the photography club. Embarrassing? Thankfully they will be walking. Remember her driving? Yeah. Her car is in the repairs now after it ‘flew’. Hope it will stay there for a long time? But it seems to be a long walk and just when they thought they have arrived, looks like they need to hike up a hill too! Time out! During the break, Kanae explains she took up photography in middle school because she wasn’t good in anything else for her summer project. She received positive feedback and thus continued it. She only took photos without people in it because she will feel nervous when she does so. But that night when she saw Fuu, it was an amazing sight. The next thing she knew, she snapped a shot of her. Thanks to her, it was why she won the award. She adds she is not as aggressive as Fuu when it comes to close up shots and relies on her zoom. That’s why whenever she thinks a shot is not good, she deletes it as she doesn’t want to be reminded of her failures. It is a reason she admires her for using a film camera instead of a digital one. This sakura photo contest is also a lot of pressure to her. Fuu also feels the same but when she gave her support, she knew they could do it. The hike continues and they are rewarded with a row of sakura trees still blooming. But Sayomi says there is more up ahead. Behold! The mother of all sakura trees! The grand and big one which is 250 years old! Everyone is awed at its magnificence. The duo start taking pictures and this time Kanae doesn’t erase bad shots. She wants to preserve this experience. Back in the clubroom, Shimokamiyama is very apologetic. The deadline for the contest was last week. Don’t sweat it. Despite missing it, they got something priceless. Those wonderful pictures and the time spent together are enough rewards for them.

Episode 6
The girls are at the beach when Shihomi introduces Fuu to a woman who suddenly hugs her. Harumi Kawai used to work with Fuu’s father in a travel agency. This is the first time she sees Fuu and the last time was when she was in her mom’s tummy. She is currently working on a package tour project and is thinking of revisiting routes she and Fuu’s father visited a decade ago. She invites Fuu to come along. The duo along with Shihomi begin their journey by taking seaside train and then a ferry to Ondo. After a temple, they visit one of the mountains, Mt Ryuuou. There are 2 mountains with the same name so be sure to be specific. Harumi relates how when she was travelling with Fuu’s dad, the taxi driver misheard and took them to the wrong mountain. Harumi in her younger days as a newbie was quite aggressive and put her foot down telling the driver to turn back but Fuu’s dad was cool and just wanted to go along with the cards fate dealt him. If they hadn’t turned back that day, she wonders what they would have found. Next, they take a cable car up to a temple that houses a lot of cats. There is a stone cat that looks just like Momoneko. The town of Onomichi has many buildings undergoing restoration works. The girls will be staying on Mukai Island and it seems to be an ordinary home. Akio and Yuuko run a B&B lodge. They relate how they loved travelling and would like to try out welcoming people instead of being welcomed. That time they were amateurs and didn’t know what to do till they met Fuu’s father. He advised them that their house would do just fine and initially they thought he was joking. As they consulted in him further, they were told that the selling point of B&B would be a normal house selling normal food. It didn’t take long for their business to start booming and many regular customers keep coming back because they really felt like home. They even leave messages in scrapbooks of their enjoyable stay. Fuu’s father did mention she wanted to bring his daughter here however Akio got ill and the business was delayed. Had they finished earlier, he would have made good his promise. Before tugging in, Harumi further explains when Fuu’s dad wanted to quit and spend more time with her newborn daughter, she was furious as it was like leaving a newbie high and dry. She even hated Fuu and never congratulated him. Now she regrets not saying to him. They both hug and Harumi says congratulations to Fuu instead. Fuu thanks her for introducing the side of her dad she never knew. Harumi also realizes that thanks to spending the entire day with Fuu, she realizes what she has been missing: A spirit full of delight that brings people together. It is what Fuu and her dad have in common. Here’s also another common thing they have: The funny way their end their sentences with ‘~no de’. Like father, like daughter.

Episode 7
Sayomi’s car is fixed. Oh no. But I guess it will have to do since they have no budget and the economy is not that good. How else to find transport to Shioiri? The place Fuu was before moving to Takehara. Kanae couldn’t come due to her cram school but Momoneko becomes a stowaway. Thank God Sayomi manages to drive safely and reach there in one piece. So much so our girls fell asleep (and a good one) during the journey. Oh… It’s a good thing they didn’t know about the time she swerved to avoid a bus… Never mind about that… Thank God they’re alive. When Chihiro is about to greet them, Sayomi almost ran over her! Everyone is introduced to Tomo and she is quite the talkative and scatterbrained person asking Fuu lots of questions. Everyone goes out and have fun together. Sayomi seems like she’s on an eating spree. Especially enjoying that over sized burger and stuffing it in her face. Tomo accidentally asks about Fuu’s father but the latter is okay with it. She thought she didn’t want to dwell on the past today but felt it couldn’t be helped. Both towns are her precious memories after all. That evening, the girls are in their yukata for the fireworks festivals. There is a sparkler championship in which Fuu remembers she was pretty good at and made it to the quarter-finals. Sayomi declares everyone to join. Well, everyone got eliminated in the first round except for Fuu who went all the way to the quarter-finals. While Sayomi is snapping shots of her, it reminded Fuu how similar this scene was. Her dad too was taking pictures of her but she couldn’t turn but knew he was watching. She wonders what kind of expression he had then. Just like history repeating itself, Fuu went out but at least it was a good run. While watching the fireworks and Fuu being narrative about her nostalgia and all, it is Chihiro that starts getting emotional. She has always been worried about her and is now glad she is able to stand on her own 2 feet. Lastly, we see Momoneko being surrounded by other female cats! Such a player!

Episode 8
Fuu and Chihiro once made a promise to see the fireworks festival at Takehara. But her father’s death somewhat postponed it. Soon, Chihiro will be at Takehara so they can fulfil that promise. Chihiro is introduced to Kanae and Shimokamiyama. She’s even crying to see how wonderful Fuu has turned into a club president… Shimokamiyama suggests taking photos of the fireworks to enter a contest but the pictures they previously took didn’t turn out too well. Fuu is having problems what to do as president and is confident (baseless) that things will work out fine. Chihiro then remembers the secret base they once drew. It was Fuu’s father’s idea about getting their own place for themselves to watch the fireworks. Though, they never found out where it was. Shihomi teaches Fuu and Kanae how to take better photographs regarding fireworks. Then she has a proposal for them. As she is running a photo exhibition, she invites them to display theirs in a side room. Fuu is certainly nervous. What about Kanae? She leaves it to her to decide! This is under the club president’s discretion, right? But why is Fuu hesitating? She does want to take up this offer. But if they participate, she wants pictures just for the occasion. She would like them to be ones she took with the intention of displaying them by hers and earn her spot in the corner of her role model’s stage. That evening before when the festivals is in the midst of setting up, Fuu, Kanae and Chihiro encounter Sayomi. She knows this special spot to view the fireworks but suddenly goes quiet. She remembers Kaoru warned her not to ruin their promise for some ill advised adventure. Her face is contorting so much that Chihiro had to somewhat agree to go exploring with her. That cheers her up and agrees to pick them up. Oh dear. I guess it can’t be helped. And so Sayomi also brings the rest of Fuu’s friends. Would you believe it that they have to hike up a hill and beware of snakes? Furthermore, they are in their yukata except for Sayomi in casual clothes. When they reach the top, it is a magnificent view. Chihiro notes this place feels like it belongs to them as nobody as is here. It’s like their secret base. Norie suggests Fuu and Chihiro stay here and watch the fireworks while the rest go back down. Sayomi not happy she’s not in the loop… Fuu sets her photography before the fireworks starts. The girls get emotional as their childhood promise has been fulfilled.

Episode 9
Everyone prepares for the Path of Longing festival. Fuu has her photos developed by Maestro and he can’t wait to see them. It is then it hit Kanae that Fuu’s photos have this excitement in them. Speaking of surprises, Maestro tells Fuu she has a surprise guest waiting back at Tamayura Cafe. That person is Nozomu. Erm… Looks like a mean anime antagonist… He is here for the festival since Maestro keeps bugging him about it. Nozomu says he has stopped taking photos since he graduate and wants to see Fuu’s photos. Just like her father. Actually that isn’t a compliment. He is criticizing it! The photos have the subject dead centre. There lighting is poor. She should pick up a digital one and improve. Kanae couldn’t take it anymore and tells him off she loves Fuu’s photos because it is filled with excitement. Before tears could flow, the girls take their leave. To put this awkward moment behind them, the girls go take some photographs. Along the way they bump into Shihomi trying to capture a shot of Momoneko. Failed. Shihomi learns what is eating them and also relates her own experiences of people criticizing her work. Some advises were useful but in the end the critiques were irrelevant because putting love into her pictures is top priority. The girls then see Nozomu standing outside Hoboro. Want to wait till he goes away? Fuu goes straight up to talk to him. Seems he is in a dilemma whether to go in or not (because Maestro has been bugging him) for fear the taste have changed. Hoboro won’t forgive that and tells him to taste it first before criticizing. Tastes good like how it was. Fuu hopes Nozomu could tell her more about her dad. To show he is not a bad moody guy, he treats them all. Seeing her friends playing silly shadow games reminds how foolish they were at their age. When Nozomu stopped photography after graduating, Fuu’s dad continued to snap on. Every photo has the subject dead centre and Nozomu even told him how to change his perception so it would catch people’s attention. However Fuu’s dad never intended to show photos to people. What he wanted was to capture the scenes and friends he loved. If he fell in love with a girl, he would take photos of her and the moments they experienced. He’d marry her, start a family, have kids and record their growth and bring them to places. Nozomu regretted calling his dream a foolish one and realized he was the one who was foolish. Despite the subject dead centre, he could feel his love overflowing. Just like the bamboo lights in this town. Their glow is by no means brilliant but they’re full of love for this town. It speaks straight from the heart. He is glad to have come to this town and met his daughter. He allows Fuu to take a photo of him and she will send it to him later. Maestro sees Nozomu off at the station, noting his scowling always hides his kindness. Nozomu feels the town has changed but he is no longer part of it. Will he be back again? Only to see Maestro grow older. Right back at him too.

Episode 10
The more Kanae looks at the photos, the more nostalgic she feels. It’s like these memories are starting to feel like the distant past. Kanae suggests to her friends about going on a photography tour. Because she’ll be graduating soon, she wants to do everything possible and leave without regrets. Kaoru relays another good news that they can have another photo exhibition of their own although the date is not set yet. If they want to outdo last year, they have to go on another trip to take more photos. Maon suggests her family inn because there will also be a performance at Virgo Hall. On the day of departure, Norie is frustrated that Kou didn’t come but went along with Komachi to some game her father bought tickets for. Jealousy mode on. She is put to sleep by Kaoru’s scented alms. While Maon helps out her parents, the rest walk around the island. Kanae spots a lady singing along the way. Later she asks Fuu about her graduation plans (she doesn’t have any) and how she got interested in photography. She also asks Kaoru and Norie about their hobbies and if they are to pursue them as a career after graduation. She feels she has no goal or turning point or anything but when talking to Maon’s parents, they explain how their daughter decided for herself to go study at Takehara. It was no easy decision and they were worried. But thanks to that she made lots of friends like them. Also explaining this island named Shiomachi which literally means waiting for the tide as boats in the past used to wait for favourable tides before leaving, Maon must have felt changes in the tides and cast off her moorings and set out to sea. What if the tide never comes? It will. The girls are at Virgo Hall and Norie recognizes the lady singing on stage as the one she saw earlier. When she starts singing, Maon instantly recognizes that voice she heard before. It’s a dream come true for her to hear her singing. At the end, everyone thanks Kanae for coming up with this idea or else they wouldn’t have such great experience. Kanae also expresses she didn’t have a turning point or a goal like them and thought if she graduated like this, all the joyful memories would fade into the distance. She was afraid to graduate and never wanted to. But she realizes she has a turning point and that was when she joined the photography club. The photo exhibition with Shihomi starts off well.

Episode 11
The girls are setting up for their own exhibition, which is on New Year’s Eve. Fuu notes this will be the last time Kanae will have activities with the photography club. Because by then she will have to put down her camera and concentrate on her exams. Chihiro and Tomo sent a montage of their own depicting Fuu and friends’ activities throughout the year as their exhibition is divided into the seasons. Of course Fuu gets a call from them and they can tell Fuu is feeling sad about Kanae. Chihiro encourages her to hang on. Dougou, Hoboro and Shimokamiyama help the girls as they work through the night to put the finishing touches. Morning comes and they feel the need to put a picture for the exhibition overview by the door. Fuu suggests using Kanae’s award winning picture. When they open the door, they see lots of people waiting outside. Maestro mentions how he could see their gradual change in their photography styles. They have shaped each other over the past year and have a special place in each other’s heart. Aside the exhibition, Norie is holding a sweets stall, Kaoru a wreath booth and Maon continuing her storytelling from last year. The exhibition is a success and the girls go to countdown for the New Year. Fuu feels sad that Kanae has to put away her camera and promises she will take photos on her stead. In the wee hours of the morning, Kanae sees Fuu flipping through photos of the things they’ve did over the year. Fuu laments they should have done more things together like entering photo contests. If she had not been the president. But Kanae disagrees. She was aggressive as one and starts thanking this and that, including her friends, blah, blah, blah. You know that sort of speech that even brings tears to the eyes of their friends who are pretending to be asleep. Then Sayomi comes to pick them up to see the first daylight of the New Year. She is surprised (and happy) that they are ready and thinks they really wanted to come along. Well, from last year’s experience, they anticipated this. Like it or not, they know they have to come, right? This year they will be watching from the beach. Mountains were dangerous, right? They start yelling towards the sea till the sun rises. Kanae couldn’t hold back her emotions and hugs Fuu. She enjoyed the past year a lot and hopes they will do more fun things together from now on.

Episode 12
Fuu’s family celebrates their father’s birthday. Instead of happy birthday, it has lots of thank you. Fuu finds her camera shutter won’t work so she takes it to Maestro to repair. Don’t worry. It’s nothing serious and in no time it will be back in good shape. So Fuu has to go around camera-less during Hina festival. Norie-Komachi spat continues over Kou. Norie snatches a quick selfie with Kou in his kimono. Kanae is back to her camera snapping ways and relays the good news she has been accepted to the school of her fist choice. Though, she is worried that Fuu’s camera is under repair. Fuu without camera is like fish out of water? As graduation day looms, Dougou must be giving some sort of inspiring speech not to lose hope. I guess he is a ‘veteran’ seeing he has seen many of his students come and go. Hoboro will be closing her shop for some time to go on an okonomiyaki tour with Shihomi and Sayomi. Dougou wanted to come along but Sayomi tells him to go home. Bluntly said. Back home, Fuu goes through her massive photo collection. She feels the pictures do not change but everything else does. Fuu’s mom suggests taking a trip with her for a change. She rides her bike to a rabbit farm. Lots of shutter chances but I guess for a change we need to see the world through our own lens instead of a camera. Fuu is taken to the observation deck and is told this is where she was proposed. Fuu’s dad planned to propose during the sunset but he got so nervous and waited till the stars came out. They nearly missed the last boat home. Mom had always wanted to apologize for not providing what daddy could. She was happy Fuu gradually found the strength within herself to move on. And that she no longer needed her support to stand on her own. She starts thanking everything. From coming here with her to Fuu being born. That’s why they say thank you on his birthdays. Now it’s Fuu’s turn for a host of thank you sentences. From her dad’s proposal to mom to teaching her photography. Just about everything. When they ride back, Fuu’s friends are at her doorstep as they were worried about her. I guess it was unfounded. Fuu’s camera is fixed and graduation day is here. They talk to Kanae for one last time. Here we go again… More thank you speeches. For Fuu, thanks for being in her club. For Kanae, she’ll always be her president. Although the photography club lost its only member and the room seems empty, it is filled with memories. Fuu reflects the many things that have happened this year and hopefully they’ll be more aggressive in recruiting new members for the club.

Aggressively Soothing…
Nothing much for a normal anime viewer like me. Nothing much exciting happens and maybe a few new adventures here and a couple of new characters which doesn’t constitute to anything major. Some scenes have ramp up the emotional tone so if you’re not emotionally strong, you might get ‘infected’ and cry with the girls. Really. But I didn’t. Note: I’m not a heartless person. The last episode felt like some award winning show because the characters start thanking everybody. Yeah, they didn’t forget to thank the viewers too in the end. Some episodes feel like déjà vu like the Path of Longing and watching the first sun rise of the New Year. Hardly anything new or exciting? But always keep in mind that due to the nature of this series, such moments are already considered aggressive. Think of the excitement up a little notch. Yeah. That’s aggressive, right? At least for Fuu and friends in this sleepy seaside town. I must admit that there are times when I felt bored and yawned so much that my mouth could have been bigger than my face but there are a few good lessons to learn after sitting through a dozen episodes of this season. Importantly, urban folks like me are so busy in hectic schedules to meet deadlines for who knows what that we do not slow down and appreciate the things in life. We simply zoom by them without taking notice of its beauty. That is a beauty of living in a sleepy town with not much progress and development.

For Fuu, she has made a big progress since her father’s death. Although we have known her to be a strong girl who has gotten over daddy’s death ever since the anime started many years back. In this season, she gets to meet more people, do more things and learn a side of her father that she never knew existed via other people. Although there are many times in the initial episodes that shows us Fuu’s nervous and panicky side as she is stepping into new territory. But basically she is still the same girl just like her friends. Maon still whistling more than she talks, Kaoru always telling Norie off never to call her Kao-tan (it’s like her catchphrase) while Norie is still the squeaky energetic brat.

Perhaps the only amusing and lively moments are between Norie and Komachi. I love it when Norie squeals in excitement when she gets to know Kou is around but slowly starts wailing in frustration to see Komachi by him. Heaven suddenly hell.  I enjoy seeing them at each other’s throat while Kou I am not sure if he is aware he is being fought over by them. It would have been done to death if there were lots of Norie-Komachi showdown and although I wouldn’t mind more of such scenes, it would have overshadowed everything else in this series, which I don’t think would be nice. So I’d just make do with their limited scenes. It’s priceless that way. Although, I’m not sure how far Komachi and Kou have gotten since Komachi since to be hanging awfully a lot by Kou’s side. It’s like they’re a pair, an item. You don’t usually see one without the other. Now you know why Norie is so mad.

Other characters remain awfully familiar. Sayomi’s killer driving skills is not for the faint hearted and she must be lucky to have missed any major accidents in her life. Dougou still harbours a one-sided crush on Hoboro, Hoboro still making delicious okonomiyaki, Chihiro still getting emotional whenever she thinks about Fuu and how steady she has grown (I foresee there’ll be more crying in the future at this rate), Shihomi still the good photographer and Maestro looking out for the girls (when it comes to photography). And yeah. Momoneko. Who could forget that pink fluffy cat that bums around lazily and yawning. Despite its easy going nature, it seems to be hard to catch on camera as before. It’s like it is screwing around with those who want to take its picture. Well, try harder next time.

I can’t say the new characters changes the flow of the series directly. Kanae comes into the picture and then out she goes after she graduates. Might be a short-lived club member thingy but I’m sure their friendship will go a long way just like how Fuu and Chihiro end up despite being far away. I can’t see anything special about Kanae except maybe that she doesn’t look like a senior and thus doesn’t look a year older compared to Fuu and friends. Perhaps it is because she always lets Fuu make the decisions as she is the president. Their characters are almost similar and overlapping. That’s why with each other throughout the year, they grow on each other. Shimokamiyama may be a new teacher and a little klutz but she shares the same passion with her student. Maybe it’ll take another year before she can be a reliable teacher.

With Nozomu getting his appearance in person, I thought this was the most tensed filled scene in the entire anime series. As we know the nature of this series, nobody actually scowls like him, right? Even if his criticisms are considered mild but for this anime, it is something big. Something more than aggressive. I thought he might just be the heart stopping incident and turning point of this series. With everybody in this series so nice and kind, suddenly here comes this Nozomu guy whom everybody would easily cast as the antagonist. I believe nobody has ever being that critical towards Fuu. At least I don’t remember anyone being so. But hey, Nozomu is honest with his opinions. Perhaps Nozomu was just being realistic or he went through some patch in life which made him abandon the camera and look like a mean old guy. However as we see, he is not all that bad. It’s just his way of showing kindness. Would things turn out differently had Nozomu had a sunshiny personality like Maestro? At least his seemingly mean looks and attitude made us sit up for a while there.

As seen from just about everything, Fuu’s dad is an amazing person. He might not be in this world anymore but he left behind a lot of memories. It’s like one big puzzle that Fuu slowly puts together and in doing so, she is one step in understanding and appreciating him better. Though, I’m not sure if this gigantic puzzle is close to being finished or still a long way to go. From the looks of it, there may be more secrets and surprised from him that Fuu has yet to discover. And I bet it will be a pleasant surprise and worth the find. Memorable for a life time. Despite passing over at a tender age, with him pretty much having almost a hand in everything that he left behind, it is as though he is still very much alive. Just that you don’t see his face or physical body.

Maaya Sakamoto once again does the opening theme, Hajimari No Umi. Sounds a bit jazzy but still nevertheless soothing and perfectly fits the tone of this series. Likewise, the main ending too is equally soothing in nature. Arigatou is sung by Megumi Nakajima. There are quite a number of insert songs in the series and I don’t need to mention that they too have the soothing qualities that enhance the emotional aspect and tug some heart strings whenever they are played at certain scenes. Some of them have good acoustics, though. The new casts joining this season include Ai Kayano as Kanae (Inori in Guilty Crown), Chinami Nishimura as Shimokamiyama (President Aria in Aria The Animation), Hikaru Midorikawa as Nozomu (Lancer in Fate/Zero) and Sayuri Yahagi as Harumi (Haruna in To Love-Ru).

And so in terms of where this anime is concerned, Fuu and the gang indeed have been more aggressive than before as they try out and experience new things and will continue to do so for many years to come. I guess we have to take a look and re-examine the meaning of the word aggressive now that it doesn’t necessarily mean raging fury or the kind that scares other people (and even stepping on their foot). So long as you do something which you don’t normally do, it can be considered as aggressive. Now that I am somewhat detoxified (definitely not 100% since the corruption within is difficult to stem – I’m only human after all), I suppose it’s time for me to get back to my usual anime genres of high school comedy with fanservice and ecchi bits. Maybe I should up the ante and watch something stronger. Something like borderline hentai, maybe? Hey, that’s like being more aggressive, right?

Arcana Famiglia OVA

April 18, 2014

What? There was an OVA for Arcana Famiglia and it came out more than a year ago back in March 2013? Probably I wasn’t too impressed with the very filler-like TV series and thus didn’t have the interest to find out more whether it had any OVAs or specials or even any sequel. Nobody even subbed the OVA till recently and that’s when it got my attention. After all, I get to hear Mamiko Noto’s voice again… So people, if you could swap bodies, how would you want to be for a day? Unluckily for our guys here, they can’t choose that…

Capriccio – Stile Arcana Famiglia
Jolly has concocted something devilishly good and you know he is going to put it to devilishly good use. Next morning, all the guys received a letter from Felicita to meet. They can’t refuse, right? I mean, it’s from the milady that they love so much. To their delight, they see chocolates on the table and without giving much thought, they munch them down. Then they start to feel strange and pass out. When they wake up, they realize their bodies have been swapped. Nova = Liberta. Luca = Debito. Dante = Pace. And they know this was a trap set up by that no good Jolly. For the rest of the blog, I will name the characters as their original self and not their swapped body. It avoids the confusion. Or enhances it. Pace will find a cure for it in the library and suggests that everyone should act as their swapped bodies to prevent Jolly from finding out. Or else he will know that the drug works. This means Debito gets to make tea for Felicita and be with her all day long. Oh, Luca. Better hurry in finding the cure. Nova and Liberta get to experience what the other feels now that they’re in each other’s body. They can learn a thing or two too. Like Liberta’s patrol watch from the rooftop is so that he could cover a large area and head to where trouble is quick. Or Nova’s way of doing it on the ground is to interact with the people and nip the problem in the bud.

As they go patrolling, they fall off a roof and crash into somebody’s tent. They are made to repair and help him sell his stuff as compensation. To Nova’s horror, some kids come up to him (thinking he is Liberta) and want him to tell them stories as promised. Yup. Now he has to babysit. Liberta hears a customer accusing a store lady of selling stale fish. When he goes check the problem, he panics and runs away. The crowd cheers over his arrival. What just happened? Meanwhile Luca can’t concentrate in finding the cure because his thoughts that Debito might do something vile to Felicita. True enough, Debito seems to be flirting with unsuspecting Felicita. Luca interrupts their adult time (horrified after seeing Debito holding Felicita’s hand) and brings that playboy away. Elsewhere, Dante is so happy that he has hair on his head that he is washing and scrubbing it in the public fountain! Heavenly, hair-venly… Hah. Feels so good to have hair back on his head again, eh? Then some guy comes up to him and wants him to pay his (Pace’s) tab. Since that guy is broke, he is forced to do clean the dishes and to add insult to injury, Pace is there in the same restaurant ordering plates after plates of food. And whose money is he using to pay off his bill and even his own debt? Oh Dante, if you’re getting this mad, please be warned that you may lose some hair…

Luca relays the bad news to everyone. He can’t find a cure. There are none in the books. The only way left is to sneak into Jolly’s lab and find it. Nova and Liberta are tasked to guard the door if Jolly comes back. But Debito, Dante and Pace are seen trying to distract him. Debito goes up first and of course you can sense that Jolly already knows what’s going on so he badmouths and mocks Debito about his womanizing ways and that he is like a dog satisfied in seducing every woman he could. Debito couldn’t stand it anymore and gets rough with him. Pace bumps him away before their identities could be busted. And then his stomach starts to growl… What a coincidence. Jolly has some lasagne. Dante and Debito take it away but Pace couldn’t hold on any longer. He becomes a rampaging demon to get the lasagne. Meanwhile Liberta and Nova end up fighting with each other over their differences and this disrupts Luca’s search. Weren’t they supposed to guard the door? Then they calm down and compliment each other as they have seen from each other’s eyes how the nice people treated them. Of course when Liberta makes a comment that Nova isn’t impressed about, he is about to be cut when Luca has found the book. The book is sliced in half.

Pace is feeling sorry he ate the entire bowl of lasagne. So Jolly wants an explanation of their weird behaviour. Because he observed them throughout town today and found them acting weird. ‘Luca’ serving tea to Felicita, ‘Pace’ washing his hair in public and ‘Dante’ devouring loads of food. That’s when Luca signals the rest to escape. He has made a drink that will return them back to normal when they drink it simultaneously. However Dante seems to be the only one who is not willing to do that. Because he can kiss his hair goodbye. So he purposely spills his cup many times but Luca has made lots of extras. Jolly sitting elsewhere is smiling… The real book is with him… This could mean… Yup. They didn’t swap back but further swap to another body. Looks like another trap from Jolly and he had it planned out so well. I’m so confused. I don’t know who is who anymore. But I know Dante is one happy guy because now in Nova’s body, he’s acting like a host guy. Nice hair, smooth skin, youthful appearance, puns aplenty… Smooth operator? Creepy…

Chocolates Are Good For The Soul!
As usual, this OVA wasn’t anything but another one of those random silly stuffs and the antic of body swapping isn’t something that is new or original anyway. It’s a good thing I didn’t have my hopes and expectations up but the series never told us to have them anyway. There are some funny bits here like Dante having fun with his newfound hair but I figure this is the only amusing stuff in this OVA. I don’t know how to put it about in the character development segment because despite you don’t really see any here (just like in the TV series), the body swapping has the characters learn about each other especially Nova and Liberta. But that doesn’t mean that they will understand or like each other better. Jolly’s mysterious and odd character perhaps is the reason that gives rise to this randomness. What does he plan to achieve by observing them? Trying to catch them with their pants down? The biggest gripe is the very limited appearance of Felicita! Which means not enough lines for Mamiko Noto! Because of that, it makes this OVA feel like a guy movie. So remember, think twice before putting something suspicious in your mouth because sometimes the bitter aftertaste can be really hard to wash off, hard to wash away. Unless they’re chocolates that I cannot resist…

Cowboy Bebop

April 13, 2014

I read comments here and there and they say this was a classic anime. Well, I take it that Cowboy Bebop must be that good so it is a reason why I decided to give it a try. Or maybe there wasn’t many animes back in the late 90’s that anyone could classify as great. Or maybe I just couldn’t remember them. No harm in taking a look at it since it is one of those times where I picked a retro anime to watch. Judging from the very short synopsis, it is about a group of Cowboys, a term in this anime that refers to bounty hunters, and their adventures from planet to planet trying to make a living by apprehending targets with bounty on their heads. Oh, did I mention that the setting is in the future and you can see all sorts of cool futuristic gadgets and equipment? Space travelling is possible and the norm although it isn’t the kind of utopian future that we had in mind. Well, it was kind of cool looking for an anime produced in that era. You didn’t think it was going to be a typical western flick with real cowboys on horses and their six-shooters, didn’t you?

Episode 1
Jet Black is telling Spike Spiegel their next target, Asimov Solensan who is in some shady syndicate. He killed his own men and fled. Currently he is hiding at Tijuana with a woman. But Spike is more concerned about the food Jet cooked for him. Lacks lots of stuffs. This is what you get when you’re broke. The last bounty he collected was used up for repairs and hospital bills for the injured. Still not interested despite the $2.5 million bounty for a nobody? Jet heard there is good food at Tijuana. There’s you r motivation. Asimov enters a bar with his lover, Katerina. He sees the bartender at the back and shows him Bloody Eye. The bartender wants to prove it’s the real deal so Asimov sprays droplets in his eyes. At the same time, several men start spraying bullets all over the bar but Asimov has turned into some sort of wild beast. He can see those bullets and dodges them. He slaughters everyone. Spike is doing his investigation. He gets his info from a fortune teller shaman? He tells Spike where to find the red eye coyote and that this will lead him to a woman that will get him killed. He isn’t fazed since he was almost killed by one before. Spike’s ship runs out of fuel so he takes a break at a toilet. Asimov is there too. But Spike just washes his hands and leaves. Spike bumps into Katerina outside and they strike up a conversation. It seems she wants to escape the harsh life here and head to Mars with her lover. But she gets defensive when she learns he is a Cowboy. However he isn’t going to take them in because he has no interest in nobodies. Besides, her partner looks ill and I suppose it’s not his policy to take on the weak. Maybe he’ll regret that because Asimov strangles him from behind. But she tells him to stop it so they escape.

Jet then comes by. He tells Spike he is giving up on this case because he has dug up some information that this dude is impossible to catch. When he betrayed and ran from the syndicate, he took with him a bunch of illegal eye drops drugs called Bloody Eye. The organization of course is hunting him down to get the goods back but all Asimov left behind is a trail of dead bodies. Spike instantly knows he wants to sell Bloody Eyes because it will be their ticket to Mars. Asimov is at the next bar trying to strike up a trade with a Mexican. But when Asimov is going to show him Bloody Eye, he finds it missing. The Mexican turns out to be Spike in disguise and he stole Bloody Eye from him when Asimov was strangling him. The guys fight but Spike is better since Asimov is relying too much on his eyes. He can’t see everything at the same time. At the same time, those syndicate guys come into the picture so it’s one big messy hell. Asimov and Katerina hijack somebody’s plane and flee. The woman gets shot in the stomach but it seems her pregnancy is fake as it is filled with capsules of Bloody Eye. After Spike and Jet manage to give the syndicate men the slip, they chase after their target up to space. Asimov becomes desperate and sprays another dose into his eyes. With space police before them, she realizes they are not going to make it and cannot run away or anywhere anymore. By the time Spike catches up to them, he sees her putting a bullet into Asimov’s head before a hail of bullet takes out the ship.

Episode 2
Abdul Hakim is a serial pet kidnapper and it seems he is at it again, easily dispatching his pursuers even while taking a dump. Of course he ends up on the wanted list and the bounty on his head is $8 million. Spike takes up the job when the Doctor tells him too. Oh, Doctor has a request of him too. Beat the crap out of that guy! Because he’s got a swollen cheek for that. Hakim is at a Chinese medicine shop trying to punish some guy for bumping into him. Cockroach in his drink as his treat? Some guy then steals his suitcase. Hakim chases him but soon loses sight of his target. That guy tries to sell the suitcase to a pet shop when Spike points his gun at him. He doesn’t believe this guy isn’t Hakim since that dude has undergone many disguises. Upon opening the suitcase, seems there is a cute dog inside. Doesn’t even worth much since this Welsh corgi is common. Disappointed? Spike leaves but that’s when the real Hakim shows up. He wants his dog back but the dog gets agitated and pounds on him. In the commotion, the dog escapes. And the big chase begins. The dog being chased by Hakim being chased by the vet guys being chased by Spike. Eventually Spike and Hakim have a showdown at the bridge. The dog jumps off onto the boat. When it lands, it jumps back up into Spike’s face and into the water. Hakim of course fell onto the boat loaded with crabs. Spike brings back the dog to Jet. Although Spike isn’t very fond of the mongrel, Jet has a plan. The dog might be worthless (in monetary terms) but the owner is loaded.

Part of the plan sees Spike walking the dog through the streets. Meanwhile the vet guys are desperate in catching the dog because they have put a lot of data into it and do not want their illegal experiment to be exposed. So desperate that they start using the dog whistle. All the dogs in the vicinity nearby start chasing after the vet truck. Hakim after calling somebody to put off the meeting for a while, he sees a bunch of dogs running after the truck and goes after it (by stealing a newlywed’s car – so sad the groom got punched in the face). Spike flies his ship. Another round of chase begins. This time in vehicles. The dog is smart enough to evade the net capture by the vet guys. But it gets caught by Hakim who sprays it so sleep. But I think he didn’t spray enough because the dog wakes up and messes up the controllers on the steering wheel. It causes the dog to be flung out and Spike somehow goes to save the mutt instead of getting the $8 million bounty guy. Yeah, even though he hates the dog, I guess this shows he has a soft spot for them. Hakim and the vet guys crash off the highway and down into the police station. How convenient. Talk about turning yourself in. In the end, both Hakim and the vet guys are arrested. It is revealed the dog contains data, making it a very intelligent dog and thus a precious collector’s item. However, the dog is still missing. Actually, it is living with Spike. Still hate it? Then why bring it back? Anyway they call it Ein.

Episode 3
Faye Valentine walks into a Chinese medicine shop. Sexy. Cool. Oh baby. She senses baddies outside so she fires first. Then they fire back. She gives up when too many guns are pointing at her. And nobody cares that the poor old Chinese chap’s shop got trashed. Faye is taken to see the boss of a space casino, Gordon. Looks like she has racked up lots of debts. He cuts her a deal to cooperate with him or the police. Spike and Jet are also at the casino. Spike plays blackjack at the table where Faye is the croupier. This is part of Gordon’s plan to steal a chip the target has when he loses at a certain point. As expected, Spike loses but decides to keep a chip as memento. Faye goes after him. The real target is some goofy guy who looks like Spike. They bump into each other and their chips switch. Faye confronts Spike and tells him this wasn’t part of the plan and should have given her the last chip. Spike blurts out loud that he doesn’t want to since he played along with her. Everyone thinks the dealer cheated. Some guys want Spike to come with him to the office but he fights back. Seriously, those baddies need to take up basic martial arts. So many of them and they still can’t best Spike. Faye meanwhile summons her ship to make her escape. Jet has to cut short his winning streak as Spike drags him along to escape. Didn’t even have time to cash in. They jump onto Faye’s ship for their getaway. Meanwhile the fake Spike is caught and the Gordon is not happy the chip with him is fake. He orders his men to hunt for it as well as Faye and will not allow the chip to fall into the police’s hands. Oh, he shoots the fake Spike too.

Faye is tied up in the toilet of Jet’s ship, Bebop. She tries to convince them to give back the chip to Gordon for a handsome reward. Of course now that they know the chip is something, they aren’t going to just do that. Jet does his research while Spike sees Faye’s name popping up on the bounty hunter’s list. She’s worth $6 million. Imagine, she herself feels disappointed. Just how much debt has she accumulated? Faye secretly contacts Gordon about the chip and their whereabouts. So when Gordon contacts Jet, he hopes to strike a deal. Jet has discovered that there was some decryption programme, some sort of ‘magical keys’ that can decode and unlock every code. The problem is that the creator was killed, and it was left it encrypted and the chip serves as the key to open the programme. Jet wants $300 million if he wants the chip back. It should be a good price for a ‘magic key’. Spike goes off into space onto Gordon’s ship to make the trade. On the count of 3, they’re supposed to exchange it. But you know… They never trusted each other so when the count ends, the baddie starts shooting and Spike makes his move to kick him into space. Seriously, that guy should have taken shooting lessons. Loading off so many bullets and yet couldn’t hit Spike. At that time, Faye was able to free herself and escape to her ship. In that commotion, she steals the suitcase containing the money. Gordon fires all his missiles but the chaff she releases has the missiles hitting back at Gordon. What kind of missile is that? I guess this guy is just bad luck. Thankfully it will be his last. Faye escapes with the money and all Spike and Jet got is this lousy chip. I guess there is only one way left to properly use it. Try their luck at a casino. Starting from scratch, eh? Easy come, easy go.

Episode 4
Faye is floating in space. Out of gas. She tries to use her sexy charms and communicate with passing ships to hitchhike but they just zoom past. Something tells me they did the right decision. Meanwhile Jet and Spike are in some posh restaurant, eyeing on their next target, Morgan. Before they could go and apprehend him, an old lady, Twinkle Maria Murdock and her ‘sons’, confront him and open fire everywhere! As they escape, they drop a hologram message saying they are Space Warriors and protectors of endangered species (Morgan was trying to order some endangered rat species). However Spike points a gun to Twinkle and though her sons are distraught, she tells them to back down as they are no match for bounty hunters. I guess she has a higher bounty than Morgan who is now riddled with holes. The sons are forced to flee empty handed but Twinkle is keeping cool. Back on Bebop, Jet does his research and it seems Space Warriors were once a good organization preserving and protecting endangered species. When their previous leader died, the group reduced in its numbers and its goal changed. It’s now like a terrorist group keen on protecting that Ganymede sea rats. However they can’t cash her in because her bounty was just cancelled. It seems her sons have made a deal with some Minister to cancel their mom’s bounty but even so as long as mama isn’t back with them, they’re going to set that plan into action immediately. Jet suddenly finds all the data on Space Warriors deleted. I mean, he just saw them moments ago. See Twinkle’s grin? Something fishy is going on. Meanwhile Faye stumbles upon a wrecked ship. The dying pilot wants her to take the suitcase to ISSP without opening it. Of course she ‘accidentally’ opens it only to find a vial. Can’t fill her stomach with that, can’t she. Another ship passes and once more she uses her sexy charms. She gets no response. That’s because it is Jet and Spike and they recognize this sly woman’s voice. The silent treatment is taking too long so she blows her top and when she looks up to see the familiar ship, she just went “Oh my God…”.

Faye is tied back on Bebop. While Spike is trying to open the vile (Twinkle seems to be keeping a close watch on what he is doing), Jet contacts his old friend Bob to find out what has happened. After a little threat, Bob reveals that Space Warriors is threatening under the mask of negotiation as some 8 million residents of Ganymede are being held hostage. Then there’s some virus they created to their liking called Monkey Business. If humans get in contact with it, they’ll turn into a monkey. As they lost their spy that infiltrated their group (I guess he got turned into a monkey), they are forced to go with their terms. Spike is about to shoot the vile (no prizes for guessing what’s in it) but Jet catches it and relays the bad news that they have to release Twinkle. No bounty, no worth. After Twinkle is released to her sons, she contacts the Minister and since he didn’t completely do as she wishes, she’ll punish him. Later Bob contacts Jet and wants him to watch a certain channel because Twinkle is making a live broadcast. She’s blabbing about humans committing crimes against nature that can’t be amended. They are going to get rid of those ‘bugs’. The Minister thought he had his men secure the ship she was broadcasting on but was a decoy and it exploded, killing those close by. Twinkle lets loose a missile that contains Monkey Business to turn everyone into primates. As the bounty on her is established, Spike goes into action since Bebop is the only one closest to them. However they have to stop the missile too because if it hits the planet and turns the people to monkeys, they won’t have anybody compensating their reward. Spike enters the hyperdrive to destroy the missiles. Since he is having problems, Faye offers to help but with a cut of the reward. 60-40. But I guess she won’t be much of a help because the missile suddenly split into several smaller ones! Is this some kind of warhead? Spike and Faye fly as fast as they can since the portal is closing. In the nick of time they manage to do so. As for Twinkle and her crew, they make an emergency brake. But the vile that Twinkle stole from Spike before she departed his ship flew out of her pocket and breaks. You reap what you sew. Going back to nature… Because of that, Jet and Spike rue another wasted effort. All that work and no reward. Faye sounds optimistic that they’ll make money next time. That, coming from a thief?

Episode 5
Mao Yenrai and some other syndicate boss reach a deal regarding some alliance. But soon after they are killed by Vicious and his men. His last words were things would be different if Spike was around. Meanwhile Jet and Spike are in an argument. Because Jet thinks Mao is an easy bounty to collect but apparently Spike isn’t interested in taking up the job and leaves on his own. Faye returns and is told to shut up by the angry bald guy. She intercepts a message meant for Jet. Meanwhile Spike sees an old acquaintance, Annie. She is shocked to see him because the story goes around here that he is supposed to be dead 3 years ago. She knows with him back, he wants to know something. It’s about Mao and what happened to him. She also knows he won’t be listening to what she tells him to but she just says. After Spike left, Mao searched in vain for him believing he was still alive. And now that he has returned, Mao’s dead. Faye dresses up gorgeously and heads to the opera disguising as some sort of acquaintance to Mao (she’s doing this for the bounty). She is ushered in by his men but they seem to know who she is and let her take her seat. She sees Mao’s bloodied face sitting nicely on the chair. She asks who these guys are and what do you know, it’s Vicious. Jet has bought a mini arsenal back and Jet smells he is up to something. He tells him the bounty for Mao is off because he is dead. Spike knows that too and is not doing it for the money. Apparently he owes it to Mao for something and he considers this one of his life’s duties. They receive a message from Faye that she has been taken hostage and to come to a certain place before she is killed. Jet didn’t really care about her but Spike is interested to know where. For your information, it’s not to save her.

Spike meets Vicious in the chapel and it has been a long time since these guys seen each other. Faye is brought in as a hostage so Spike is ordered to drop his gun. He fired an accurate shot into that guy’s forehead! Then all hell breaks loose. Gunshots fired everywhere. Faye escapes by the skin of her teeth. It’s mind boggling that the baddies equipped with machine guns and better arsenal can’t even hit Spike and his pistol. Thank God for the thick church pillars. And Spike shoots them with deadly accuracy. Rage? To show that he isn’t perfect, Spike receives one lousy shot in the stomach. Even so, he pumped lots of bullets into his giver. Then the ultimate showdown with Vicious. He says they are of the same. Those who desires the blood of others. Although Spike has thrown away that kind of life, Vicious is not happy that he is alive. Both men attack but Spike is thrown out of the window. Prior to that, he dropped a grenade and safe to say Vicious goes boom along with the church. While falling down, this chapel scene must be reminding Spike of his old days and scattered memories of his. Buddies with Vicious. Some woman. Lots of gunfire. Spike gets shot. He survives somehow. Yeah. All that. Spike wakes up all bandaged in Bebop. Seems Faye saved him. She thought he would be grateful but he commented on her tone deaf singing. She gives it to him.

Episode 6
Spike wakes up from a nightmare. He was on some operation table. He and Jet are now in a blues bar, trying to get their next bounty target, Giraffe. They see an old ‘acquaintance’, Fatty River so Jet has no chance but to go talk with him to distract the dude. At the end of the play, Giraffe tails the blues harmonica kid, Wen and a wheel chair guy, Zebra into a taxi with Spike closely following them. Giraffe tails them to a hotel room and barges in but was shot through the window. I guess that was how long Spike took to get his ship and arrive at the scene. Only enough time to retrieve his body. Before Giraffe dies, he wants Spike to save Zebra and gives him a stone ring. There goes his bounty. Jet talks to Fatty to find out more information. Seems Zebra and Giraffe were on the same Volunteer Self Defence Squad 10 years ago where they tried to reclaim some facility. However Zebra ended up missing and Giraffe found himself kidnapped in some unknown place. Giraffe wanted to go after the top heads in the group but was betrayed. Zebra was also found alive. In the end Giraffe was killed by some betrayal. Back on Bebop, Jet does more research. Seems Wen has appeared in some article 30 years ago and looks the same exactly as he is now. Meanwhile Spike tails Wen and Zebra into some facility. He is spotted by them. Wen shoots away his gun and warns him that despite his kiddie look, he has been around since humans crawled the planet. He explains his body ceased to age and can’t die on the day some accidental explosion of the hyperspace gate. Everything around him just got decimated. There were many interested in him and experimented on him but all died. Then Zebra sneaked in, Wen used this change to use him to escape and made him his ‘parent’ to hide himself. Wen wants him to hand over the stone but whether he does it or not, he tries to shoot and kill Spike. When Spike manages to retrieve his gun and shoots the one off Wen’s hand, Wen throws Zebra at him. Spike shoots Wen’s forehead but when he goes over to check, there is blood but no body.

Zebra is brought back to Bebop and he is in a vegetative state. They see tears coming out from his eyes and they plug in some device to see his memories. He is thinking when Giraffe barged into the hotel room. Giraffe said something about the stone that will return time to him and to hand over Zebra back. However Wen shot him. From what Jet explains, due to the explosion of the gate, a vast amount of energy is stored inside it. An imagery coordinate system was created from the resulting twists in hyperspace and it got enclosed inside the stone, which broke his whatever rhythm or gland and prevents him from aging. The only way to deal with this is to stick this stone into Wen. It is a dangerous mission since the stone might explode upon contact and Spike won’t come back. Well, he’s excited for it. Even Faye is here to see him off. Since when did she care? Meanwhile Wen kills a taxi driver and takes his taxi. Spike finds him and fires at the vehicle, conveniently crashing into a petrol station. Of course Wen is still standing and looking fine. Spike exits his ship and plants the single bullet (which is laced with stone) into his forehead. I thought it was dumb of Wen to just stand there to get shot. But then again, he didn’t know the bullet contains the stone. Suddenly he starts aging and becomes a bag of bones. Looking very much like a zombie. He feels old. Duh. But he is glad that he can now die. And he dies with a smile. So where’s that big explosion they feared so much? All unfounded for, eh?

Episode 7
A burly space trucker woman, VT and her cat, Zeros enter their usual diner only to learn it is filled with lots of bounty hunters that she hates. They heard some target called Decker is passing by here and are waiting to catch him. Spike is here too but he’s having a bad case of stomach ache. Faye is also on this planet but in a desserts bar. She spots this big yakuza-like guy entering and believes it to be Decker since the only description about him is a dragon tattoo. She tells him to stick ‘em up while wanting the other customer in the next table to call the police. Hmm… Something tells me this scrawny little nerd is Decker. See that dragon tattoo? Oh yeah. It’s him. He runs away as Faye realizes her mistake. I guess that’s what happens when you jump to conclusions. That big fat guy’s ‘dragon’ tattoo turns out to be a love eel. She chases the real Decker but he gives her the slip when he tosses a bomb. There goes her ship. Meanwhile at the diner, a group of Mexican bounty hunters are harassing a waitress. VT goes to tell them off and the next thing you know, it becomes a brawl. Because Spike’s food got messed up in the process, he also joins in and beats the crap out of them. VT appreciates him and will treat him to a drink. While talking, there are other people who come in to do some bet with VT. They’re trying to guess her name but always wrong. Spike wants to play too but gets a call from Jet to go after Decker since Faye screwed up. VT realizes he is a bounty hunter and tells him to get out. Spike’s woes continue because those Mexicans, they trashed his ship. So he has to hitchhike. VT didn’t want to bother with him but seems Zeros takes a liking for Spike. He requests another passenger to hitchhike. And so Faye journeys with them and they have to endure her loud metal music all the way.

VT contacts his trucker pals to get information on Decker’s whereabouts. She finally spots his truck and chases after him into an abandoned asteroid. She calls Spike about this but was told to stay away because the cargo Decker is carrying is very dangerous. He is a master of explosives and is currently hauling solid nitro to some people he made deals with. Spike and Faye hurry to their location. I think Jet didn’t have time to finish fixing the badly messed up ships. Decker tries to shake VT off and even drops one of his bombs but it is going to take more than that to kill her. Of course with the impact in such an enclosed space, the place starts blowing up. Decker is killed and there goes the bounty. Spike, Faye and VT are trapped and this place could blow up any time soon. Oh, did I mention this asteroid was an old mining area? What are the chances? How can they get out alive? VT suggests using one of the solid nitro to blast their way out. Since Faye’s ship has hands, she is forced to extract the solid nitro and be very careful to it. Because it is sensitive to touch and the slightest mistake means they all go boom. The next plan is very risky and dangerous. Because Spike exits his cockpit (he must have taken a deep long breath) so that Faye can put the solid nitro into it and when the timer is over, the little pod will accelerate and rams towards the blocked exit. VT quickly brings Spike into her truck in time before the pod speeds up and blows up an exit. They barely survived. Spike thanks Victoria Telpsicorei for the help. He saw her name in her locket. Her late husband was a legendary bounty hunter. She gives him the reward money but he only takes a note and has her keep the rest as offering to her husband in Heaven.

Episode 8
A plane is being hijacked (Lewey, Hewey and Dewey?). Spike is one of the passengers but he is sleeping. When is rudely awakened by them, I’m not sure if it’s his lady luck or sleepy kung fu that knocks them out. Of course, with a little help from Faye. At the airport, Spike cashes in on the captured target and Faye didn’t waste time in asking for her share. She’s going to blow it all at the casino. Better than putting in the bank? Spike is suddenly attacked by a passenger on that plane, Roco Bonnaro. Of course he blunders. But this Roco guy views his kung fu as the real deal and bugs him to teach him. After all that pestering, I guess Spike relents. He even demonstrates using his flow and be like water Chinese kung fu philosophy thingy. I wonder if Roco gets it. But since a group of baddies are after him, Roco shoves a package onto Spike, telling him to hold it and bring it to a cathedral at the outskirts of town tomorrow night. Back on Bebop, Jet suggests in making some extra cash by capturing a small time crook, Piccaro Calvino. If the entire gang is captured, the price doubles. Seems they have stolen some remedy for planet Venus sickness. That plant is hard to grow and it’s worth tens of millions. Guess what? It’s the package Spike is holding. Oh Gosh. And Roco is one of the gang members. Faye suggests to just sell this plant since it’s more profitable than nabbing the baddies. Jet disagrees as he doesn’t want to get involved with trouble. But Spike is going to handle Roco and leaves Piccaro to them. Spike arrives at Roco’s home but a lady tells him to stick ‘em up. She is Roco’s sister, Stella and has some sort of eye disease that makes her blind. She mistakes Spike as Roco’s friend. As they talk, she doesn’t mind staying this way but Roco cares about her and wants to get her treated. She shows him an orgel that Roco sent her. Inside there is a little package inside which I believe is seeds of the plant. She adds that Roco may have hung out with bad people but he is a good person. She doesn’t think Spike is one of those bad guys.

Meanwhile Roco is so good at running that he manages to lose his pursuers. However when he goes to take the leak, he realized too late that the baddies and even Piccaro himself are easing themselves at the toilet. Cornered. They force him to reveal the whereabouts of the plant. Elsewhere, Faye is in foul mood. She is extorting information of Piccaro’s whereabouts (including one that leads her to a couple of gays having sex!). Roco sees Spike waiting at the cathedral. Spike mentions he has peeked into the contents as Roco realizes he is a bounty hunter. At first he thought he was here to nab him but when Spike mentions Stella needs this, Roco tells him to run. Piccaro and his men surround the place. Care to hand it over? Roco makes a daring move to subdue one of the baddies. A gunfight ensues. It gets messier when Faye comes crashing into the picture and starts firing away. She’s in a bad mood for being sent on a wild goose chase. Roco uses his newly learnt kung fu move on one of the baddies. Wow. He looks like an expert but then he gets shot in the chest. He drops the plant and when the glass breaks, it withers. Piccaro and his men are arrested. Roco has one last favour for Spike to leave Stella in his care and it’s in the orgel. Spike knows what it is and will do it. Spike goes to see Stella at the hospital. She is happy that Roco has got the money for her to undergo the operation (I guess the plant’s seed did the trick). However with Spike being silent, she realizes something is wrong. He’s dead. She’s sad as she wanted him to be the first to see her recover her eyesight but that won’t happen now. She wonders what kind of person Roco is as she has never seen him with her own eyes. Spike says she doesn’t need eyes for that because he is a great guy.

Episode 9
Radical Edward seems to be trying to hack in Bebop when some laser satellite shoots at her position. Well, he’s still alive although the place is toast. The news interviews some guy on the mysterious South American drawings. He insists it is the work of aliens despite proofs that somebody hacked into the satellite and made the art. Even so, the crazy guy thinks it is a conspiracy of the government to hide something. Maybe aliens controlled that guy’s mind to hack the satellite. Whatever. As there is a bounty placed on the hacker’s head, this attracts Faye’s attention. She’s going to do it but Spike wants to sit this one out. In another news interview, it is mentioned that the Gate accident 50 years ago, Earthlings have migrated underground due to the changing climate and falling moon rocks. Thus space networks are necessary for them to stay in contact with those living in space. Thus it becomes a foundation to create hackers. Ed hacks the police’s ship (they’re here to arrest him), toys with it and crashes it. Faye and Jet get down to Earth to find more information on the hacker. Jet’s leads have him learn that everyone knows the famous hacker called Ed. But ‘his’ description varies. Some think ‘he’ is a woman, a gay or even an alien! Ed hacks into somewhere and finds an information area not connected to Earth and only between satellites. Nobody else has hacked it too. She hears a voice saying that nobody is here. The voice is a programme controlling a satellite. Ed calls it MPU as its nickname. Just like how Ed is for Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV. Seriously? MPU explains before the Gate incident, Earth was beautiful and filled with such pictures and always looked at them. He remembered them and tried to recreate them. Their conversation is cut off when the police put on a jamming signal.

Ed contacts Bebop and tells them the real culprit isn’t a hacker and is willing to tell them in return for a favour. As explained the A.I. of the satellite is the one responsible for the doodling. As it is listed as a weather satellite, nobody suspected anything. This means the satellite is their bounty. As MPU’s access code is lost, they have to go directly to the satellite, break its communication to other satellites and download MPU to a disk. They have to do it manually because the other laser satellites connected to it will sense and attack them. Jet thinks it’s impossible but Spike loves this kind of stuff. Spike approaches it and everything seems to be proceeding as planned. But a satellite blocks his shot and this alerts the other satellites. Now they’re firing at him and the only way left is to take them all out. Seriously. Hundreds of them? Ed suggests Faye be the decoy while Spike approaches 20 metres of MPU so that he won’t be attacked. Once Spike touches down, he starts downloading MPU as Ed talks to MPU one last time. She wants him to come over to this side filled with lots of friends it must have been lonely up there. The news reports the strange end twist to this strange drawing. The culprit is the A.I. of a satellite and the police are dumbfounded on how to reward Spike and Jet about this. However they didn’t get any reward because the target can’t be something non-living. Bummer. Ed has packed her bags and ready to board Bebop. The favour she asked was to be part of their crew. Faye wants Jet to fly away. What about the promise? Promises are made to be broken. Bebop flies off but not to worry. Ed has hacked into the system and remotes control Bebop like her own toy to land at his feet. Welcome aboard? Not only Jet and Spike have no money, they are stuck with things they hate most: Beasts, kids and tomboys. The woman is a tomboy? Well, nothing feminine about her except her racks and curves… Shouldn’t Ed be the tomboy?

Episode 10
Bebop is to turn in a fugitive at Ganymede when Jet comes into contact with an old friend, Donelly. They talk on the good ol’ days when Donelly remembers the girl Jet was once with: Alisa. Jet takes some personal time off to go see Alisa who is working as a bar master. They haven’t seen each other for a while and catch up on things. She plans to close business and move to somewhere else but Jet is concerned if she can cope with the high cost of living of new island cities. She believes she can since she has her boyfriend, Rhint Celonius. Yeah. That guy who gave Jet that suspicious look when he entered the bar. With Jet away, Spike takes the liberty to fix Bebop (Faye is just sunbathing her ass). Spike gets a personal call from Donelly. This next target bounty has not been announced publicly yet. Rhint is a port thug and last night he contacted Law Rentzuo the financial broker (read: loan shark) and the latter was killed. He warns that Rhint is Alisa’s gigolo. All Spike is interested in is how much the bounty reward will be. I guess it must be enough for him to take off and earn some pocket money. Jet continues his reminiscing. One day when Jet came back from work, Alisa was gone. All she left was the clock which is now in his possession and a farewell note. Oddly he didn’t feel sad. He felt something inside him grew numb. He made a bet with himself. In 6 months if she did not return by the time this clock stopped, he will leave this planet. He doesn’t want to blame her and just want to know why she disappeared back them. Alisa says she’s forgotten about that long story and bids him farewell again.

After Jet leaves, Rhint is seen squirming in guilt. He really did kill the loan shark but he was cornered and out of self defence. He thinks Jet was here to arrest him as a bounty hunter. Alisa suggests they run away. So happen when they are riding their boat, Spike sees them and engages the target. He almost collided with Jet and tells him what is going on. Jet wants him to go home and will handle this himself. He assures him he will not let the target go because this is his home planet and was once a tough cop. Once he bites, he never lets go. After chasing the duo through tight waterways, Jet fires his spear at the boat. The propeller gets dislodged and sends the boat crashing onto land. Alisa points the gun at Jet and doesn’t want him to get close. Jet is not cowed even after a few warning shots. She tells him to find other bounties but if he lets her go, somebody else will come after her. If she runs, she’ll be an accomplice. She explains that he has been the same since. He decided everything and was always right. She never to do anything when she was with him. She wants to decide how to live her life even if it is a mistake. As she breaks down, Rhint tries to run away, squirming like a coward that he doesn’t want to go to prison. Jet punches him and tells him to be strong to protect her. After the police apprehend Rhint, Jet asks Alisa for her next plan. She isn’t going anywhere but will wait in her bar for Rhint. He doesn’t think it will take long because time is flowing. Jet throws away the clock into the sea.

Episode 11
Just like some horror movie, there is something lurking on Bebop. Jet must be desperate to make cash but he should have known better than to gamble with Faye. He lost everything. Including his underwear. We know Faye cheated, right? Jet is in the storeroom and stumbles upon the fridge where he gets bitten. The rest think it is a mice but he is certain it wasn’t. And nobody gives a damn to what Ein is growling at. Should have been a sign. Jet is made to drink crushed lizard as herbal remedy for his sore. It’s that or crushed scorpion. This is going to go down well. Right after that, he collapses! I don’t think it’s the drink because the bruise is getting bigger. Spike tries to match what kind of virus he has but none of it in the database matches. Ed thinks it’s some mysterious space creature along with the crappy theory of mysterious evolution, mysterious mutation and mysterious poison it carries. When Faye is taking a bath, she encounters that mysterious creature. And so the reason why she is panicking to Spike that if you get bitten you may die is because she too got bitten on the leg. Young, beautiful and sexy. She’s got a full life ahead of her and things she wants to do. Why does she have to die so early when she didn’t even commit a single crime?! Oh, Faye… Maybe that’s why… So the rest go hunting for the creature with heat vision goggles. Spike gets a close encounter with the mysterious creature, which turns out to be some freaking fast blob after hearing Ein’s scream. Yeah. Doggone it. With Ed’s goggles on the floor, I guess something has happened to the kid too. So Spike is now alone. Okay, alone with the blob. Arming himself with all sorts of weapons, he hunts down the blob. Then it’s the showdown. All weapons fail to kill it till he blasts it with the flame thrower. Feeling hungry after that, he remembers something important. A year ago, he got a real lobster and hid it in the storeroom’s fridge for his own. He forgot all about it. As he slowly opens the fridge to take a look what is inside now, he slams it back. Some horror growth that we don’t want to see. Yeah. You might lose your appetite. He disables to ship’s gravity to throw the fridge out into space but the blob attacks and bites his hand. The fridge bounces back and the door threatening to open. Spike summons all his strength to open the gate to suck it out and close it in time before he passes out. So with everybody out on Bebop… Oh wait…. Ed is just sleeping. The blob slides to her and she eats it! WTF?! I thought that thing is poisonous?! And it’s like nothing happened to him. Lesson of the day: Never leave things in your fridge… So that’s it? What happened to the crew? Will they get treated? So? SO?! Unless the virus isn’t lethal to begin with. Everyone just falls asleep… Enjoy Waltz of the Flowers while you’re at it…

Episode 12
Vicious lives. He is before some Chinese council of old men (more like corpses) requesting to do some deal with Red Eye. I can’t understand what their conversation is about but it seems those Chinese buggers give him the permission and warns him about betraying Van because those who did will be punished. They send Lin to accompany him to the cold planet of Callisto. Meanwhile on Bebop, Faye has fled. Yeah. She left a note telling them not to look for her and took off with their loot. So predictable of this woman, right? Using Ed to track her down, Ed receives a connection with someone with a codename called Julia. Spike instantly sits up and wants to know where that connection comes from. Blue Crow on Callisto. Spike immediately leaves. What about finding Faye? He leaves it to Jet while he finds his own woman. Jet warns him not to be so rash but since Spike is still stubborn, he threatens he won’t be welcomed back again. So be it. I guess their 3 year friendship only goes so far. All because of women… Well, at least Jet has got odd new shipmates to keep him company. Spike gathers all information he can to find Julia. It leads him to a transsexual named Julius. Ugh… Julius thinks Gren might know. He is a saxophone player at Blue Crow bar. And it seems Faye is at that bar too. She thought this guy Gren wanted to pick her up but he notes he is not interested in women. He also warns her that this planet has no women in town so she’ll be very popular and watch out. Spike must be poking around for information too much that he runs into bad company. They think he is Vicious but Spike gets mad instead and beats the hell out of them! No mercy! It is revealed there is going to be some deal taking place from Gren to Vicious and he thought of taking that cash. It is then Spike realizes the codename for this trade is Julia.

Jet is on this planet too. He sees the bounty hunter programme that a bounty named Gren who escaped a military facility 3 years ago, his statute limitation is about to expire and so his bounty will be doubled. Jet wanted to call Spike to tell him this info but perishes the thought. Faye is being confronted by those guys whom Spike beat up. Never learn their lesson, eh? I’m sure Faye would have given them another round of good beating had not Gren took her hand and fled the scene. In his home, she seems to speak from experience that she came here alone. She doesn’t need comrades because they’re not worth having. Viewing herself as a good girl, guys always end up fighting over her. It’s said that humans can’t live long by themselves but oddly you can live pretty long by yourself. Instead of feeling alone in a group, it’s better to live in solitude. Gren thinks she is afraid of losing them and distanced herself. When Gren is in the shower, the phone rings. Faye is surprised to hear Vicious’ voice as he leaves a message for their meeting place. Faye gets ready to take out Gren but is shocked to see him a woman. Or is Gren a male? He is both… And neither… Has your brains exploded yet? Meanwhile Spike confronts Vicious and didn’t like how he used Julia’s name for crooked deals. They’re ready to face off seeing they didn’t settle their previous score. But Lin comes in between them. Spike doesn’t want to kill him but Lin fires back.

Episode 13
Vicious and Gren were once comrades in some mercenary army on Titan. Close enough for Vicious to give him a little orgel and save him from a scorpion’s sting. I don’t know what war they were fighting for but when it’s over and Gren returned home, he was imprisoned because he was suspected to be a spy. Vicious testified against him. He had insomnia while doing time and took some drugs. The side effects caused his body to ‘morph’ into such. Faye wonders why he wants to see Vicious. Didn’t he betray him? He wants to see it for himself even if he knows he’s going to die. Faye calls him selfish because he drags people into his problem and then goes off to die. She fires a few rounds at him but he was fast enough to dodge them and take her out. Jet’s investigation leads him to the bar where Gren plays. The bar master recognizes Faye because it has been a long time he has seen a woman and can’t be mistaken. A prettier one came by 2 years ago. She was beautiful but disappeared barely after a month here. Spike is having that strange dream again. Vicious. Gunfire and that woman. I guess this is a sign he is still alive. Because he wakes up only to realize Lin fired tranquilizers into him. Jet enters Gren’s room to see Faye tied up. After freeing her, he contacts Spike and tells him about this ‘Julia’ case. If he catches the culprit, he’ll allow him back on Bebop. Gren sees Vicious and Lin to make the trade. What he has is genuine but before the deal could end, Gren kicks a suitcase containing a bomb towards him. Gren reveals that he tore apart the orgel and found a transmitter. More like it was Julia who found it. He wonders if he wants to kill him again despite being comrades and fought on that desert battlefield. He believed in him. Vicious replies there is nothing to believe. Gren shoots back but Lin uses his body to protect Vicious. Spike sees this before his eyes and gets distraught. Now it’s time for some aerial battle. With Gren in the fray, it’s going to be a threesome. Vicious hears the sound of the orgel in his cockpit. When it ends, his ship goes boom and he crashes. Gren’s body couldn’t hold on any longer so he too crashes. Spike wants to know about Julia but he requests to be put back in his ship. He wants to return to Titan. It might be a long way but he wants to be close to it. Gren knows he is Spike because Julia always talks about him. Those eyes of different colours. His left eye sees the past. She always sat in the same corner of the bar, requesting to play the same song and putting on that sad smile. Spike gives Gren a little push back into space. He returns to Bebop and despite he has nothing, Jet lets him back in.

Episode 14
Our Bebop crew each apprehend their bounty. But when they get back, why to long sour face? Seems they get no reward for it because they weren’t the target. As Ed puts it, everyone caught a criminal but have no clue of who that person they’re really after. And so it is revealed that around 20 criminals have been caught by several bounty hunters but because the criminal isn’t the mastermind, they aren’t paying out. Too bad. As the gang do their research, Jet notes the crime of hacking the Gate tollbooth is done in a similar fashion. Something about the laundering of funds that makes it hard to track where the funds went. All the caught criminals have nothing in common and you can say they come in all age, gender, nationality, religion, etc. Besides, they don’t even have the stolen money. Faye has a flyer that states an easy way to make money for a thief. There’s a manual on how to rob? It’s from a website that no longer exists. Perhaps all the criminals were reading from that same manual. From Spike’s side, he believes somebody who is familiar with the Gate system should only know how to hack it. It must be somebody from that company or who once worked there. Even worse, Gate Corporation suddenly became uncooperative in assisting them. The only clue is a king chess piece. Ed fools around (got electrocuted but lives) and hacks into some system (why didn’t they ask this kid instead). She has Jet give her the chess piece. It is a memory cartridge to play chess over the internet. Though Ed isn’t sure if this has anything to do with the hacking. Jet thinks all this is some game. He wants Ed to continue playing while he goes to see those Gate guys again. He shows the chess piece but was told to just do his bounty hunter job. How can they? When they don’t even know who the mastermind is. I mean, they put a bounty on a mastermind that they aren’t sure even exists. He hints that it is perhaps someone they don’t want the police to know. Jet is shown the door and not to pry any further. Of course he has planted a transmission to hear their conversation later. Seems they are very concerned of the risk if this gets out to the public. It’ll get worse if they don’t catch him. They are puzzled why Chessmaster Hex, a ghost of 50 years ago would come back. Maybe it’s really a game he setup because he gave everyone a chess piece.

Spike and Faye couldn’t decipher and hidden meaning behind the chess moves. Maybe they’re just normal chess moves. Jet contacts the gang to investigate on Hex. Ed won’t budge from her game because she’s in an interesting match with Hex! Hex was once a genius programmer in his teens. He was also a genius chess player. At 30 years old, he created some central control system that Gates use today. However he undermined its safety when he put them to practical use. As a result he was banned from the company and his whereabouts unknown for the last 50 years. But why get his revenge now? Furthermore, they easily traced him to an abandoned place where scrap metals gathered. It is the perfect hideout since there is no government, no nationality, no anything. You don’t even have to pay tax here. Too easy? A trap? One way to find out. Spike and Faye head in only to find it inhabited by weird homeless or stateless people. There are even animals and plants! Meanwhile, a bounty hunter named Jonathan who has eavesdropped Jet crashes into the place because he has something to settle with Hex. Spike and Faye are about to arrest Hex in his room, still playing chess but that’s when Jonathan comes in and wants this old bugger to return his life savings! But Hex seems genuinely senile as he talks with his old friends about this amazing chess player he is playing with. The rest realize he has no memory of what happened yesterday, what more 50 years ago. Jonathan is upset that his life savings will never come back and tears up the place but is punched out by the duo. Jet explains to the Gate guys that Hex wanted revenge and planned it all out and made it so that this incident will happen 50 years later when the system programme gets an automatic update. He even made those who commit the crime to hold chess pieces to hint it was his doing. But 50 years is too long a time and he turned senile, forgetting the traps he set. Though this is good news for Gate Corporation, it also means Jet has learnt about the defect. The guys wonder if he wants money to prevent this being leaked to the press. But all Jet wants is to leave Hex alone. Because Ed will be sad if she loses a chess companion. Yup. She’s still playing it for a week now. And she lost. Oh, Jonathan becomes a senile occupant in that abandoned station. No money, no life.

Episode 15
Faye is awakened by Ein. Somehow the dog’s face reminds her of an old acquaintance, Whitney Hagas Matsumoto. Want to hear her story? Ein yawns… Faye is seen ‘defrosted’ in a hospital’s operation room. She has no memories of herself. Then this Whitney guy pops up and claims to be a lawyer hired by the insurance company for her medical bills. It seems Faye was involved in a horrible accident 54 years ago! Medical technology wasn’t advanced then so she was kept frozen in deep sleep until today. Look at her body. No scars or anything. She’s like Sleeping Beauty too. Faye couldn’t believe things as they are now. I mean, that television is actually a washing machine? That night, she escapes from the hospital. Can’t afford to pay $300 million hospital fees with compounded interests, eh? Being not technology savvy, she triggers the alarm but kept running. She experiences culture shock from hologram videos and flying ships on highways. Eventually Whitney catches up and wants to help her. She accepts his help and starts trusting him as he treats her like his precious woman. One night the insurance company got impatient for the collection and chased them. Whitney drops Faye somewhere to lose their pursuers and hopes they will meet again at the hospital. Why is he helping her so much? Because the prince must help the Sleeping Beauty. To her dismay, he got done in. At the hospital, the doctor mentions how Whitney has left all his assets to her. All she needs is to put in her thumbprint. Faye is touched that she truly cares about him. And then on the screen… It appears all his massive debts… It makes Faye’s like a tiny drop in the ocean. Hey… Debts are assets? That’s when Faye blew her top. Now do we understand why she became a distrustful sly thieving fox? Spike heard everything but has his reservations. She did tell lots of lies, right?

Jet has just come back and captured a small fry bounty with him. Faye seems to find him familiar and realizes this is Whitney! OMG! He’s so fat now! Of course Faye interrogates him. The past is brought up. Seems everyone was in it. Whitney mentions he prefers to be handed in to the police for his crime. The police is here to pick him up but Faye won’t hand him over and takes him with her. She wants to repay her debts to him. Imagine how surprised the guys are because this woman is taking the man instead of the money. It’s really odd to see a fat guy and a sexy bombshell squeezed into a cockpit and flying off into space. Spike chases them and disables them. Faye wants to know the truth but to her dismay he doesn’t know anything about her past. When the police is here to pick him up, she recognizes that familiar voice. It’s that doctor! Faye is mad that this is another one of Whitney’s lies because she was told he was dead. The doctor confirms that he is the one who named her Valentine after his favourite song. She was in cryogenic sleep in his hospital but as to why, who she is or anything else, it will remain a mystery because all data of her was wiped out during the Gate incident. With the real police entering the scene, the doctor decides to flee, causing Whitney to panic and call to his uncle not to leave him. That black doctor is his uncle? I suppose Faye got enough of it and decides to claim the paltry bounty on him. Seeing him land in prison really makes her day. Whitney notes that of all the lies he told, there is one truth: He fell in love with Sleeping Beauty while she was asleep. A lie? The truth? Well, Faye won’t be swayed anymore. And perhaps to further take out her frustrations, she draws fake eyebrows on Ein and returns to sleep. Now she’s a Sleeping Beast.

Episode 16
A prisoner onboard the prison transport, Udai Taxim slaughters all the authorities with ease. When the other death row inmates take control of the ship and one of the hot-headed one kills the pilot for not wanting to be ordered around, Udai slices his throat. The other prisoners remember him as an assassin for a syndicate. Meanwhile Jet receives a call from his friend from the police force, Fad. He meets up and is told about the electrical malfunction on the prison transport ship that caused a riot and hijacking incident. The ship’s whereabouts is unknown. The point is, Udai is on that ship. He is someone who has to do with Jet quit being a cop and his now mechanized left arm. Though Jet says he isn’t interested in that old story, he still thinks back how they were after Udai and fell into his trap. He’s still going to do something about it, right? Meanwhile Udai has a plan on how to bust through security with limited ammunition. When the police force finds him, they feign releasing the prisoners. But the pod was filled with explosives that caught them off guard. The prisoners use the gun turrets to finish off what is left of the force. By the time Jet and Fad arrive, there is only ship wreckage carnage. But Jet knows where Udai has headed: Europa. He knows this guy is old fashioned and wants to get back with the syndicate. True enough, he is contacting the syndicate but they have cut all ties with him since he was doing time. They don’t want him back anymore no matter what he thinks.

Jet goes in solo while the other prisoners fire all they’ve got at him. He barely makes it into the ship and makes his presence known. Udai is going to welcome his guest. One of the prisoners doesn’t want to be caught up in this mess and tries to escape. However he didn’t know Fad has crashed his ship into the exit so when he opens the door, he gets sucked out into the vacuum. Fad then goes to kill the rest of the prisoners. Meanwhile Jet and Udai have their fight. Thanks to his mechanized arm, it saved him from being shot. Udai reveals it wasn’t him who shot him back then but his partner. Everything was planned out from the beginning. He was long betrayed and been used. As the story ends, Fad puts a bullet in Udai’s head. So why? Fad blames him that it ended this way because he went on his own. He is tired of people leaving the syndicate either they quit like Jet or die. They can’t keep living on their petty ideals, that’s why he betrayed and kept fooling him. But he really wanted to team up with him back them. Fad is going to shoot him but Jet is faster as he picks up Udai’s gun and fires back. Or is it? Jet realizes that Fad let him to shoot back on purpose. Jet gives him one last smoke before his last breath.

Episode 17
Jet summons the crew and wants to know who is responsible for eating the emergency food. Nobody admits. They’ve been without food and gas for 2 days. Suddenly a ship crash into them and flies away. Hit and run? The impact causes them to go off trajectory and fall into the planet. On ground, Faye suddenly feels the urge to go to toilet. Is she trying to be lazy again? Till the rest realize the expiry date on the emergency food was a year ago. Serves her right. Divine punishment. But this doesn’t solve their stomach woes. Ed and Ein go out exploring in the vast desert. They have no money to buy at the watermelon stand when a sexy Foxxy Cleopatra babe pulls up. She gives extra cash to the guy and also hopes he could contact her if he has any news on this bounty guy she is looking for, Domino Walker. Ed and Ein hide in her boot. At the petrol station, the police are conducting checks as they are after Domino for selling illegal mushrooms. They see Ed and Ein in the back and misinterpret she is some child kidnapper and arrest her! The duo then continue their journey in town where they see Domino munching away some food. When they confront him, they are interrupted by this black guy, Shaft who wants revenge on Domino because his brother ate his mushrooms and died laughing. A happy way to die? Yeah, his intestines got twisted. He even brought a coffin to bring his body back but it got smashed by the truck. Shaft chases after Domino who doesn’t remember who that guy is. Ein eats the mushroom Domino drops and starts hopping like a stiff bunny. Noticing they are inedible, she takes it back and sets them as obvious traps for the adults to eat. No effect at first. It comes later. They are absorbed in their hallucination. Spike is climbing an eternal stairway, Faye ‘air swimming’ in the toilet and Jet talking to his bonsai plants. When Ed sees Domino on the bounty hunter programme, she decides to go catch him and earn money to buy food.

Foxxy manages to give the dumb policeman the slip because he is on the phone with his girlfriend. He abandoned the interrogation just to talk to her? She sees Ed zooming past and goes after her. Likewise, Shaft sees Ed and also hurries finishing his ice cream. Ed finds Domino cultivating his mushrooms in a wrecked ship. He won’t be caught so the chase begins. Domino escapes by hoping on the train. Shaft hijacks the watermelon guy’s truck, Foxxy in her sports car and Ed on her scooter. It ends when Ein bites one of Domino’s bags. He lets go and it hits Shaft in the face. In turn he crashes down into Foxxy’s car. Game over for them. The train puts on the brakes when there is cow in the middle of the tracks. Domino wants Ed to take the bag of mushrooms containing $100,000 each. I guess she is happy as long there is food. Back at Bebop. The hallucinations must be over. Spike has climbed his stairway to heaven, Faye rolled with toilet paper and Jet has lipstick on his face. Ed shows them the mushrooms when a policeman checks up on them for anything on Domino. Jet and Faye shut up Ed because she was going to tell everything. Unfortunately Spike is still under hallucination so he shows the officer the bag. He checks it and deems it to be normal. In the end, our Bebop crew except Ed and Ein are disgusted after having nothing but mushroom dishes for days. Hey, it’s better than no food at all, right?

Episode 18
Faye just lost her bet on a horse race. You can tell her mood. When she gets back, Jet gives her a package from a courier service. Since the sender is unknown, Faye flees. She thinks it’s some collection agency or something that would want revenge on her. How many bad things have she done? So the guys are puzzled because she doesn’t want to claim something that belongs to her and when they check it out, it is an old fashioned cassette video tape. Of course this is the future so they don’t know what it is. Based on the courier service records, this package has been forwarded to and from various places like a nunnery, prison, studio and observatory. Not having a proper use for this, they decide to sell it to cover the courier cost to some antique maniac. He is excited they have some beta video tape and starts ranting about the history of cassettes. I don’t think those guys are interested. Is he going to buy it or not? Playing the tape to check its contents, seems pretty normal of somebody videotaping but when the image starts to blur as the player is eating into the tape, Spike kicks the player to restore it but breaks it instead. Well, he thought this method always works. Now the maniac wants them to pay for the repair cost! Jet calls it even since he’s not going to buy the tape. Now that it has come down to this, Jet is going to find out the contents of the tape and Ed locates it to some underground city electrical museum in old Asia. Meanwhile Faye is having her luck in dog racing. She is winning every bet! She loves it!

The guys seem to be going through a lot of trouble just to get the player. Crawling through ventilation spaces, sliding down ropes and wires, wading through waist-high water. All for just a player and a monitor? And when they find a room filled with them, they take the biggest one. Under what assumption. But when they bring it back, the tape doesn’t fit because Ed points out it is VHS type. All that effort for nothing. Didn’t they try it first back then? Of course they’re in such a gloomy mood. On the other hand, Faye’s luck is also short-lived. She loses all her bet. Easy come, easy go. Calling Bebop, she thinks the guys are feeling lonely without her and decides to come back. Really? Just then, another package for Faye arrives. Jet refuses it but Spike has already opened the package. Pay up. Inside the package is a beta type player. Faye has to pay back the courier charges if she wants to watch. Not going to. Of course she watches secretly from afar. The video contains footage of a group of girls filming themselves for their future selves. One of them looks like Faye. IT IS HER! Wow. She is so different when she is young. She is making a video tape of herself and thinking about her future. Who she’ll be with, how she’ll turn out. Whatever happens, this tape serves as motivation and cheer for herself. Although Faye cannot remember all this, tears start welling in her eyes.

Episode 19
Jet and Faye are preparing to bait and capture Starship Pirates. But where is Spike? He has never been heard off since he went to overhaul his ship. Actually he crashed and is stranded in the middle of the desert. He calls his old buddy, Doohan to pick him up but he sends his baseball crazy assistant Miles to do so because he is busy fixing some ship of his. Of course Doohan might be a slave driver but he knows his work as he starts fixing Spike’s ship and getting the necessary parts. Meanwhile Jet and Faye fall into Starship Pirate’s trap. Their computer got hacked and so their machines are firing at each other while the pirates escape. When Spike is able to contact Bebop, he learns Jet is having a hard time fixing the ship’s computer. Everything has gone haywire by the virus. Based on some info, they conclude the pirates are operating in some suspicious delivery truck. Jet wants payback for what they’ve done but to overcome their hacking, he gives spike a normal communicator and will navigate him with this as this is based on an old communication system. When they approach where the pirates operate, they see 2 delivery ships. They have this bright idea that if they fire a warning shot, the one that runs must be the pirates. Never thought that they’d both be genuine delivery trucks? And they didn’t see this one coming either. When they fire, both flee! Spike and Faye chase one each but Faye gets the fake one. Spike and Jet face off with the pirates. Of course they try to hack their system but Spike cuts off his system and has the pirates get a taste of their own medicine. As they can’t control their ship, they collide into the asteroid. Miles hears Jet and Spike’s communication and lets Doohan know. He is going to start up his space shuttle. From Spike’s position, the re-entry will burn up his ship. Oh, he is out of fuel too. That’s when Doohan tells him he is going to tow him back. He lets Spike know the basics of using Earth’s gravity, atmosphere and the angle he needs to maintain to escape the burn. He knows he can do it. That’s why he gave him that ship. Spike manually controls the ship to reach a certain angle. In great timing, he fits nicely into the space shuttle. However during this entry, the ship scraped off the heat resistant tiles and the landing gear won’t work. Oh sh*t… Miles is panicking he is too young to die… I don’t know how but I guess God was on their side because they crash land in the desert and miraculously survive without a scratch. Can’t say the same for the space shuttle.

Episode 20
A big fat joker, Mad Pierrot waltzes into the dark alley, announces his intention to take their life and slaughters everyone. Spike so happen to come in the picture so Pierrot wastes no time in shooting him. Bullets can’t penetrate this dude and he can even fly! Spike gets beaten with some funny juggling combo that only exists in fighting games. Spike is about to die when a cat distracts Pierrot. He becomes cat and tries to shoot the cat. This gives Spike enough time to throw and shoot a canister at him. The entire alley is blown up but Pierrot still lives. I don’t know how Spike miraculously escaped but he didn’t do so without getting wounded. Yeah. All bandaged back in Bebop. It’s like Faye is here to piss him off, eats his mandarin orange and leaves the skin on his head. Like everything has got nothing to do with her. Meanwhile Jet sees an old friend, Bob. He cautions Jet that his partner is in danger. Pierrot is a perfect killing machine and has already killed several high profiles. The people in ISSP don’t want word of this to go out so it’s a tightly guarded confidential secret. Nobody lives to see Pierrot’s face. Even those who do will be tracked down till the ends of the Earth. He is also the mysterious killer known as Tongpu. Faye gets a message of some part at an amusement park. She knows this is a trap laid out by Pierrot and doesn’t want Spike to see it. Too bad he already did. He is going to settle the score. And the moment he arrives, they didn’t waste any time to get the party started. And that means they trash the place as they try to kill each other. Meanwhile Jet has Ed hack into ISSP’s server to find out more about Tongpu. Flashback reveals he was in some sort of inhumane experiment, supposedly trying to turn him into a killing machine. Whenever in pain, he always saw a cat staring at him. That’s scary, right? Eventually the experiment failed due to his mind regression and was cancelled. Pierrot was to be quarantined forever but he broke out and started killing everybody involved. Now he is killing for fun but his mind is regressing like a kid. Faye also arrives to help but I doubt she would make a difference. Spike crashes into a souvenir shop. A cat plushie falls out. Pierrot becomes scared and shoots it till it is destroyed. Enough time to regain his ground. In the final standoff, Spike throws his knife at his knee although he takes a bullet in his shoulder. I suppose that is the only part Pierrot isn’t protected. He starts screaming like a kid that it hurts a lot (obviously). Then he gets squashed by the giant mascot parade. Over? Just like that? By the time Jet calls Spike for info on Pierrot, he doesn’t really need it anymore.

Episode 21
Jet receives mail from an old friend, Pao who was one of the greatest feng shui masters. To seek the sacred beast from Anzan and at the meeting place of the 4 gods. He tracks Pao’s whereabouts but by the time he did, he is already dead. Paying his respects at his grave, he is almost shot by MIBs. He is saved by Pao’s daughter, Meifa as she uses her feng shui for their escape. Back at Bebop, having Meifa around raises the eyebrows of the other members. Girlfriend? Secret love child? Whatever. When Jet mentions about the mail he received 3 days ago. It was just before Pao’s death. Meifa wants Jet to help her find the sun stone since his time and arrival were the best feng shui combination. As they begin their search, Meifa explains about some basics of feng shui and how it is divided into 3 classes like Heaven (energy from the sun), Earth (planet’s surface) and Magnetism (organisms like humans). Eventually they find Anzan to be the Mountain Hotel building and it is surrounded by the 4 gods of Seiryuu, Byakko, Genbu and Suzaku. At least the surroundings make it look like so. They find a black coal which is supposed to be the sun stone. Noticing those MIBs are tailing them, Jet beats them up to cough up their objective. Seems they are from the Blue Snake syndicate and were ordered to get the person who received Pao’s mail since they couldn’t get Pao himself. In this case, Jet thinks Pao is still alive somewhere. Analyzing the sun stone back on Bebop, it turns out to be a moon rock from the Gate incident and conceals a tremendous amount of energy. At first they aren’t sure what to do with it till they realize it is reacting with the feng shui board. Sticking the stone into the middle, Meifa remembers her father also possesses a sun stone. As the stones resonate with each other, it will show them the way to his whereabouts.

But Meifa doesn’t understand why Jet received his mail and not her. Due to some difference in feng shui beliefs, Pao and his wife divorced and the latter took Meifa along with her. She couldn’t understand why her father never went to see her as they weren’t hard to find. Jet shows her a picture of him and Pao together. When he was a detective, Pao works for a syndicate as a consultant and used to leak information to him. He wanted out then and as you know, nobody leaves the syndicate especially those who know its secrets. He is sure Pao was afraid bad things would happen to his family and never looked for them. Using the sun stone to track Pao’s whereabouts, they are attacked by the syndicate. Spike and Faye go fend them off. Jet has an idea. He is going to use the sun stone to amplify their power. After Ed flushes it down and out of Bebop, Spike fires into it and it creates a large energy barrier that zaps all the small fries. A wormhole also opens but since it is unstable, they are unable to go close. Pao appears on the screen and is alive but has not much time left since the place he is in is going to run out of oxygen. He sent Jet the mail because he wanted to bring his daughter here via using feng shui. Jet corrects him that it is not his doing but rather Meifa who came here on her own accord. Pao is glad to see her daughter for one last time but she tells him how much she hated him all this time. Is that what she really wanted to say? Too bad, time over. Communications cut. I can guess what she wanted to say. In the end, this strange case solved. Meifa went back to her home planet and Bebop return to their ordinary lives. Only difference is, Jet stopped reading fortune telling in magazines.

Episode 22
Spike manages to stop Teddy Bomber from blowing up buildings with bombs hidden in teddy bears. Teddy Bomber knows Spike too because his name is famous among the criminals. He is going to blow up the building but Spike has already defused it. However he has set more than 1 bomb. Suddenly here comes Andy Von De Oniyate the cowboy riding his horse! Wyatt Earp wannabe? He mistakes Spike as the bomber! It gives the criminal enough time to run away and set off the remaining bombs. And then Andy flees. WTF. So it’s no wonder those Bebop guys don’t really believe Spike. Ed does research on him and he turns out to be part of YMCA (Young Men’s Cowboy Association). But he was kicked out soon after as he caused lots of trouble. Damaged property and public property destruction. Due to some tracking device, the gang knows he is going to strike at a costume party. True enough, he turns up. They want to know why he likes blowing up things. It’s for warning. Before he could finish. Here comes Andy on his horse. So now you believe? Guess what? He mistakes Jet to be the bomber! Or Spike. WTF?! He couldn’t remember Spike’s face yesterday? Teddy Bomber gets upset because he is being ignored so he sets off the bombs causing panic. Faye hitches a ride on Andy’s horse and they go chase Teddy Bomber in his car. Spike is hot on their tail in his ship too. He’s mad. The chase causes destruction and chaos all around and when Teddy Bomber crashes, Andy just rides past him. What the? Faye is brought back to his stylish rich place. He tells her the reason why he is doing this is because it’s his hobby. He’s rich, right?

On the bounty hunter programme, Teddy Bomber leaves another warning message that he is going to blow up another building and hints this one is to those who made fun of him. You know who you are. The letter even states his intention of blowing things up but the programme ran out of time. Jet and Faye wants to stay out of this troublesome mess but Spike has his own grudges to fulfil. And so Teddy Bomber waits outside the building… Yeah. He really waited for them. But when Spike and Andy arrive, they want to settle the score with each other and have no interest in Teddy Bomber! So pissed off that dude, that he blows up the place! For now, Spike and Andy cooperate to take him down. They are tricked and trapped in a lift whereby if it reaches the top, it will explode. The duo panic and try to break out. They manage to do so in the nick of time. Meanwhile Faye knocks out Teddy Bomber and is going to turn him in. As for those monkeys, they continue their match as they race to the building top and engage in gunfight and fist fight on the dangerous edge. In the end, Andy concedes defeat because he views Spike’s punch to be beautiful. He gives up being a cowboy and passes his hat to him. Is that how the term Space Cowboy came about? Andy will find a new hobby. Meanwhile Teddy Bomber is being escorted in a van to prison and reveals his intention of blowing buildings up. It’s to raise awareness of the wasteful thinking created by capitalism. Then he sees Andy in a samurai outfit galloping on his horse. Call him Musashi now. Space samurai? Teddy Bomber couldn’t care less now because he realizes everything was just a waste. Even the guard took pity on him.

Episode 23
There is this electronic transcendence group called SCRATCH advertising how one can free oneself from the filthy desires of this world. Something about existing as a soul without a body. In short, some sort of religious cult. And it’s gaining popularity by the day. There are 20,000 members now. What follows next are several interview programmes of this cult. Some praising it and some scorning it because there are already hundreds of suicide deaths involved. But the most surprising one has got to be Faye! She is a member! Because she wants to be free from her debt! The Bebop guys discuss how the cult leader, Londes was once some sort of neurology researcher 50 years ago but believed to have received vision of God. He then immersed himself in some research to store human spirit as digital data. He went missing since but reappeared 2 years ago forming SCRATCH. They go do investigate more details on Londes but unfortunately, they got nothing. Either his followers believe he is in Heaven, suspicious of them joining (because they really want to meet Londes in person) and his last surviving researcher colleague has gone senile. Even Ed is frustrated she can’t find anything on him on the internet. The guys get a distressing call from message. She looks like in trouble but communications got cut off. Jet stands in line to buy some game helmet (old version of NerveGear?) that dives into virtual reality so he could hack the site. Accessing it on fake pretence he wants to be a member, suddenly he feels sleepy and is losing his consciousness as Londes speaks to him. Ein has been barking at the programme ever since. Before Jet could black out, he feels a sharp pain on his leg. It’s Ein’s bite. Jet concludes there is some sort of contraption that paralyzes the sympathetic nerves. This time Ein wears the helmet. I guess a dog’s brain is constructed differently because Ein could easily hack into it (even better than Ed) and reveal some surprising information. Londes never existed and everything was made up and all controls are traced back to Alles Valley Hospice.

Spikes has found Faye lying unconscious in an abandoned building. There are many monitors and Londes’ face pops up. He admits Londes never existed in this world and a character merely created. He continues about humans believing in God. Because they wanted to. Londes never forced anyone into anything. A penny for your thoughts: Is it God who made human. Or humans that made God? He adds the greatest invention ever made is the TV. Because it controls all sorts of information flow and steals their sense of reality. TV itself is religion. People are easily fooled by such idiotic fantasies. Spike refuses to give in as he feels weak. He shoots the monitor but how many can he take out? He tells Londes that he is the one who can’t tell fantasy from reality. Suddenly Londes feels strange. Like as though he is going to be unplugged. He pleads this is unfair blah, blah, blah, before disintegrating into some error programme. This is because Jet and Ed visit the hospital pretending as father and daughter who have found their other long lost child. Jet really put up a sad sob story to make the guards allow him to enter. They see a comatose kid and with Ed’s hacking skills, she shuts down the computer beside him. This kid, Ronny Spangen was once a hacker and became a vegetable 2 years ago due to a medical accident. Jet puts the handcuffs on him and calls him a con artist. Faye wakes up like as though nothing happened.

Episode 24
Faye rewatches the video of herself. That place looks familiar… A Merlion… She is surprised Ed is next to her. Unsure if she knows anything or not, she takes her along. And the guys especially Jet what the heck they are doing on Earth when they are bound for Mars to catch a fugitive. Pipe down. The women are gone. While Ed is searching through a pile of garbage, several odd children surround Faye. They can be as eccentric as Ed if I must say. One of them was even odd enough to ask Faye for her nails because she collects them! The nun reigns the kids in and recognizes Ed. She wandered in here 5 years ago and then wandered away again. She never thought she would see her back in this place again. The nun has Ed look into the drawer. A holographic picture of a man pops out from a wallet. This guy is supposedly to be Ed’s father. He came looking for her here 2 months ago and said he forgot to put her in a day care and ever since has been looking around the world for her for 7 years! Faye takes her leave and as she is at the Merlion, an old lady is surprised to see Faye. She is Sally Yung and her classmate. Yeah. She thought she was a ghost. Faye doesn’t want to overstay her welcome and leaves. When she gets back on Bebop, she spaces out a lot. The kind of reaction that scares the guys because she actually apologizes. This woman, apologize? Then bits of her memories return. Especially some space shuttle accident. That’s when she decides to leave because she remembers where she belongs.

The guys see their next big bounty catch worth $50 million and this one looks like an easy job. Appledelhi Siniz Hesap Luften. Weird name. But doesn’t he look like Ed’s father? Speaking of which, he and his assistant whose name he can never remember (it’s Macintyre by the way) seems to be chasing freshly crashed meteors. The guys go apprehend Appledelhi but it seems he doesn’t want them to interrupt their work of creating a map. Because the Earth is constantly being hit by meteors, they are creating maps to save this planet as only true happiness comes in the form of a map. What? I don’t even… The bounty hunters aren’t going to buy this crap and try to arrest him but Appledelhi fights back. He is no pushover. He is big. He is strong. He knows his kung fu. Even giving Spike a run for his money. Suddenly Ed leaps into the scene. The father and daughter (or son, daddy isn’t even sure) happily reunite in their odd dancing fashion. So Ed’s real name is Francoise? I guess it’s all in the genes. Can’ believe this girl even had a father? Jet takes a closer look at the reward bounty and somebody must have just add in the zeroes because he is only worth $50! Suddenly another meteor crashes nearby so Appledelhi and Macintyre rush to the scene. So much about that. Probably this was how Ed got left behind. Meanwhile Faye rushes to the home where she used to live. There is nothing there left. Only marks of the foundation. The guys return to Bebop only to learn the women have left for good. Faye stays at her old ‘house’ (draw some lines on the ground and call it a room) while Ed also leaves on her own journey. Ein decides to follow Ed. Now the guys are back to where they once were. Peace and quiet? At least they have more share of the hard boiled eggs.

Episode 25
Vicious and his men storm in to kill the Chinese elders but his coup failed because the elders predicted his move. Vicious wants them to kill him right now but they won’t allow it. He will be humiliated first and thrown into prison. Meanwhile Jet and Spike are at the bar. Talking about the finicky women that come and go. Luckily they are sober so they manage to go into action when bad guys suddenly storm the place and fill it with rain of bullets (too bad for the bartender). Trigger happy, aren’t they? Spike thought he saw Lin. But he is Shin, Lin’s younger brother. He is helping though although he knows he risks being kicked out of the syndicate. He tells them Vicious is going to be executed at the city of Tharsis. They are in danger. Julia is also in danger. As Jet gets treated (he was shot in the leg during the attack), Spike remembers talking to Julia. He wants to leave the syndicate and live a life of freedom once this is over and she come along with him. She felt she can’t. Eventually Vicious caught her and will have her kill Spike with her own hands. Either she lives or they both die. Faye is bumming around at a hangar when she receives a distress call from Spike to come back. Like hell she cares. Suddenly a car chase zooms before her. Julia is being chased by the baddies. Faye shoots the tire of the baddies’ car. As gratitude, Julia lets her ride on. Faye’s precision shooting has her take out more baddie cars. They shoot so much and they couldn’t hit them? But Fay just fired a shot and their car goes crashing… When the threat is over, the women strike up a little friendship. Faye wonders if they should become partners but Julia has something to do. After she sends Faye back, she tells her to relay a message to Spike. She’ll be waiting at that place. She leaves Faye in shock.

Jet talks to Spike about men always trying to think about their past before their death to look for proof they were alive. Spike mentions about Julia. For the first time in his life, he saw a woman that was truly alive. She was a piece of him he had lost and the other half she had longed for. Faye returns and she looks like in a foul mood. Jet receives info from his police pal about the coup in the syndicate regarding their successor. Since the elders won, they are annihilating anyone who is against them, right down to the last seed. Including those who have left the syndicate. Shouldn’t they have done this when they tried to leave instead of now? Anyway he wants Jet to get out of here. Too late. Here comes those syndicate bastards. Faye seems hesitant to tell Spike. But he plays it cool. And he doesn’t have money to pay for her information. Faye manages to tell him Julia’s message before Spike launches to counter attack. Meanwhile Vicious is about to be executed. He’s not afraid. That’s because his crow drops in smoke bombs. Some of Vicious men storm in to cause chaos. Vicious is freed and kills the elders. He declares himself the new leader and will dictate all authority and symbolism of this syndicate. Once Spike has finished disposing of the baddies, Jet tells him to go and get what he lost. Spike meets Julia at the graveyard. She points a gun at him.

Episode 26
Julia says had she killed him that day, she would have been free. Why didn’t she? Because of love. She wants them to run away to a place far away from it all. Just the 2 of them. Shin reports his failure about his pursuing team on Julia. Not sure if he’s lying or not but you can see him sweating his pants off. Vicious just tells him not to follow Lin’s footsteps. Spike and Julia go see Annie but looks like somebody has beaten them to her. She is bleeding in her stomach. She managed to not tell about their whereabouts. Once Annie breathes her last breath, the place is swarmed by the syndicate guys. It’s going to get noisy. Spike and Julia fight their way through while escaping the murderous bunch. And then Julia gets shot. How does it feel to have a beautiful dangerous woman die in your arms? Jet sees a shaman for Spike’s whereabouts but was being replied in riddles about the stars and humans’ life and death. Spike’s star is about to fall. Don’t fear death. If you do, it’ll spring up faster than you know it. If you don’t, it’ll always gently watch over you. Vicious inspects the scene and sees Julia’s coat and passport. He knows Spike will come since there is nowhere for him to go. Spike makes a surprise return to Bebop. So is he here to have his final meal? I’m not sure about that cat story he tells Jet but he hates that story because he hates cats. Huh? Before he leaves, Jet wonders if it’s for a woman. Well, you can’t do anything for a dead woman.

Now it’s Faye’s turn to stop him. Where the hell does he think he is going? He was the one who told her the past didn’t matter but looks like he is the one tied to the past. Spike has her look deep into his eyes. One of them is fake because he lost it in an accident. Ever since, he has been seeing the past in one eye and the present in the other. He believes what he sees isn’t entirely reality. He thought he was watching a dream he would never wake up from. Before he knew it, it was over. Faye is not pleased he never told her anything. Well, did she really care? Besides, she didn’t ask, right? Faye mentions her memories returned but was nothing good. She realized she had no place to return and that’s why she came back here. This is the only place she could return. But now he’s going away. Is he going to throw his life away? He assures her he isn’t going to die but to see if he is really alive. That was reassuring alright. Spike waltzes into the syndicate’s headquarters and starts shooting and blowing every damn thing. Yeah. Nobody can best this one man show. Useless bodyguards and all. All the bullets flying and they miss. Spike just needed a few bullets to pump into them and if I’m not mistaken, every shot of his counted. And those lucky enough not to get shot, gets blown to bits by the explosives he placed as he runs deeper into the building. Of course he gets a little help from Shin but his appearance is limited and got killed off. He hopes he will defeat Vicious. The final showdown on the rooftop as expected. Both are evenly matched. Now that Julia is gone, they want to end it all. Spike wins. His gun is faster than Vicious’ sword, I guess. Spike remembers Julia’s last words. “It was all a dream”. A bad dream. A deeply wounded Spike walks down the stairs and collapses. Victory smile?

Riding Off Into The Sunset?
An ending that leaves up to viewer’s discretion? Not my kind of ending but I suppose it can’t be help seeing the way things are going. So does Spike lives or he dies? It’s tough to call since it can easily swing either way. And since there isn’t any sequel after that, I suppose he’s dead. Or not. The movie and that special episode commentary do not count. Not that I have watched both of them anyway. Not only Spike’s fate is left hanging, but what about the rest of the Bebop crew? Jet lets him go. Faye reluctantly lets him go. Ed and Ein are never to be seen again. And I suppose with Vicious dead, I figure the syndicate won’t be anything as it used to be since Spike single-handedly killed almost everyone in it. So will the real space cowboy rise again someday or has it rode into the sunset for good?

There is a good and bad thing about the episodes of this series being standalones. Being episodic, it makes it easier for casual viewers to just jump in into any episode and watch without cracking their brains much since there isn’t really a storyline to follow. However the lack of that means episodes feel like fillers and it lacks that great ingredient to call it one of the most epic anime ever as the feel of continuity isn’t there. With the exception of episodes that involve Vicious or Spike’s past (and that of Faye’s), watching the rest of the standalone episodes also make you feel that you have to accept what happens in that episode as that. No more follow up after it so it is pretty much left to our guess what happens to guest characters that appeared on their only episode. Thus it is sometimes hard to connect things together although if you watched all the episodes like yours truly, you can pick out certain parts especially the past of the characters and connect the dots.

I feel that due to the episodic nature of the series, there isn’t much past delved on the main characters besides Faye. Even those were sparring. Spike’s past felt like a rush in the end because we were given glimpse of his past in very short flashbacks in very limited screen time. Then when his past gets caught up to him in the final couple of episodes, it ended as quickly as it started. I just don’t feel the depth in it. The moment he gets reunited with his woman, she dies. Then classic hero-goes-all-out-war-with-villain style ending with the final face off with Vicious. Victory. At a price? Then there’s his eye too. I kept thinking there was more to it but his simple explanation somehow let me down. Maybe I just expected too much. Maybe it’s a reason for us to see some of the flashbacks. How did he get such cursed eye? Well, if you care that much to ask this question. I know I usually don’t care that much but that is what happens when you don’t know much about a character’s past to let it explain some stuffs. Jet too has his own past but it was just enough to know that he was some sort of detective in the force back in his heydays. I don’t know how long Jet has been working in the force before he quit but from the looks of it since he has different friends in the department to give him information, it just shows he has got ties and rapport with lots of people and the reason why he still survives in this bounty hunter business. So we must be wondering how Spike and Jet met. Well, like I said. If you care enough to ponder this much.

Faye is quite an interesting character because she uses her sly womanly charms and wiles to get what she wants. At first she seems like a loathsome person especially when she doesn’t care and is a selfish person. It’s always about me, me and me. Then when you see what she went through in her past, you’d feel sympathetic for her. In this vicious world, it’s either you take advantage of others or be taken advantage of. Faye will have none of that bitter experience anymore and thus explains her scheming ways. Sometimes too, it feels hard to sympathize with what she is doing because she’s been on Bebop for so long and surely she’s a smart woman who can tell Spike and Jet are good guys, though they aren’t necessary angels or knights in shining armour. The case of once bitten twice shy? Not taking any risk, maybe. Might as well leave others stranded instead of herself being the victim. And now that her memories have returned, I’m curious to know what it is. And perhaps like she said, it was nothing good so it’s something trivial that we viewers wouldn’t even bother. But it did make her realize where she belongs and what she considers important. Well, I thought there was some sort of last minute romance being squeezed into it. Faye who always leaves Bebop as she pleases suddenly has a problem when Spike is going to do the same. Call it a woman’s intuition that he might not return. So Bebop is like her family, now? Ever since her memories gradually returned, I notice she wasn’t as sharp as before and spaces out more often. It wasn’t the Faye we used to see.

I can’t comprehend Ed and Ein’s role in this anime. I believe Ein is to be the pet mascot of the series. It was mind boggling that Spike adopted it after a failed bounty hunter catch but there could have been many other animals that he could have brought on board. Maybe a dog is cuter than say, a lobster. That would only make you feel hungrier. Anyway in the limited episodes that Ein pops up (and I don’t mean scenes of showing him bumming around), Ein displays human-level intelligence, if not smarter than the average human. It’s just a shame Ein wasn’t featured more prominently. As for Ed, I believe this computer hacker genius only serves as a comic relief. In the sense that you see her act so weird and eccentric like as though she was born to be a clown-cum-monkey. She’s like a mad person but not mad enough to be put in an asylum. Also, her limited role in the episodes means she doesn’t make a great impact like the adults. I believe that mushroom hunting episode was Ed and Ein’s most prominent episode which they had more screen time. So mysterious this Ed person that even her gender is left unknown. Or at least not confirmed. There are several hints that indicate Ed is a girl but I read somewhere that Ed was originally a boy and the anime adaptation had a gender change to even up the gender ration on Bebop. What? Does it matters? Maybe back then. Heck, not even Ed’s dad knows whether he had a son or daughter. Perhaps not even know her real name. Hell, does he even have a child?! So when Ed and Ein left Bebop towards the end, it felt like the producers wanted to kill them off when it gets grittier. You can’t have kids and animals involved, right?

Vicious as the only recurring antagonist of the series, again I don’t feel anything deep for this character. I can see the cold blooded viciousness (pun intended) in his eyes but still not enough to warrant him as a big threat. What do you expect for somebody who only appears for 5 episodes? Hey, it’s better than the many others who on average only make one stinking appearance. Though, I really think he does live up to his name. Who can be as ruthless to kill off 3 powerful Chinese corpses? Just like Spike, his flashbacks are short and nothing deep so we just know enough that they were once buddies of the same organization but turned enemies along the way that will ultimately lead them to a final showdown. I noticed that there are 3 old guys appearing in a handful of episodes. It feels like they are for comic relief and do not have any serious impact in the series. You wonder if they are the same people from previous episodes because it’s like they’re almost everywhere (at least for the episodes they appeared) and bumming around or doing something that isn’t really important.

Some of the action in the series be it Spike’s kung fu fighting, the gun fights or space battles can be engaging but they are short and don’t last very long. On a grimmer note, almost in every episode, there is somebody who dies, be it the villain of the week, some supporting cast or some innocent bystander that has nothing to do with it all. Well, like they say. Life is cheap. At the rate we’re going, I just thought everybody should have died in the end. This was what I thought after finishing watching the anime. The good guys always get the girl, right? Well, apparently not here. Julia’s dead. What’s there left to live for? Faye’s not entirely the romance kind of woman too. Then some side characters like Lin or Shin whom I thought there would be some potential were killed off too. Of course Vicious himself in the end meets the end like many big bad villains. And with Spike’s undecided fate, that’s when I thought everybody should just end up dead. Jet should have got shot in the heart instead of the leg. Faye should have freeze herself to death living outside her non-existent home. Ed went crazy and eats up Ein before committing suicide. Yeah. That would have left a bad taste but I’ve come to accept the terms about death in this anime. Just like what the shaman said.

Some parts of the series have its comical parts too. No, I’m not talking about when Ed is in it. Sometimes it’s from the sarcasm and one-liners they say to the next episode preview. Speaking of that, sometimes this segment can be serious and gloomy. At other times it’s like a section to be funny. At least that is how I feel about it. I thought there are times they were trying to break the fourth wall. I remember vividly that bounty hunter programme. It’s like as though they’re telling it to us that this will be the last time they will go on air. And that’s the last you’ll ever see of that show. There are lots of trivia too. Take a look at this site: Anime News Network. Neat? Overwhelmed? Well, I’m not really familiar with lots of them. Though I have a feeling that some of them like that space shuttle episode is to pay tribute.

For that era, the art and animation style I would say that it is pretty much okay. There is this convincing feel when the setting is in the slums or dilapidated places and you can feel the gloomy sense of that location. Is this the future that we will have to live in? Even the China town in here seems to look and feel like one. Crowded. Messy. Cramp buildings. Haphazard signboards hanging everywhere. The technological advances shown in this anime are pretty much dated but as I said, if you’re watching this anime then instead of now, it would have looked pretty awesome and cool. They did put some effort into the design of the ships, machines and space stations but as I said, after watching too many concurrent anime, it just feels dated and old. Some of the concepts are quite interesting too like that cult episode because it makes you think and question your own beliefs.

Music is perhaps one of the great points of this series. In addition to the bebop jazz style that is heavily peppered throughout the series, there are also blues and soul and many of them sung as insert songs all sung in English. Of course it has to be English. Do you know how weird you would sound for such a genre that originates from America to be sung in other languages? Say for example, not that I’ve never heard rap in other languages but I’d prefer to hear them from their place of origin. Like how you should sing anime songs in Japanese :p. But as far as this blues and soul music, I’m not really a fan of this genre so I don’t really know how to appreciate it. The opening theme is Tank by Seatbelts. Essentially this is a jazz style instrumental opening song (I don’t consider those spoken words at the beginning to be lyrics) and it’s quite exciting and befitting the nature of this series. On the ending theme side, The Real Folk Blues is done by Seatbelts too but featuring Mai Yamane as the lead vocals. Sounds like a slow-moderate jazz piece with some hints of soul in it. Not bad actually and somehow sounds like the perfect tonic after watching an episode and especially how some of them ends in a bizarre manner. The final episode’s ending theme sung totally in English, Blue by Mai Yamane is a slow rock that also suits the way the open ending it gives. But I just find it odd that there are choir voices to complement this piece. I thought the singer’s voice would suffice.

I doubt I will ever call this one of the top classic animes in my books but at least I have watched it myself and dubbed it in the same category as one of the many other animes as okay. Neither bad nor good. You get your piece of sci-fi action, decent amount of drama, good music and some eye candy in the form of Faye’s sexy curve and attention grabbing semi-revealing tight yellow outfit (sorry lolicons out there). There were some good entertaining stuffs but nothing that in my experience would get me thinking about it for months. It will all soon fade into memories. Hah. Am I dreaming? Better than waking up from one and realized I have watched this entire anime as a dream! If I could really do that, I don’t think I want to ever wake up from it. See you, space otaku!

High School DxD New

April 12, 2014

Finally the boobs have arrived! Oops! I mean, when you think of High School DxD, you also think about boobs, right? It can’t be helped since some animes go synonymous and hand in hand with fanservice like Freezing or Queen’s Blade. Would you believe it that I am watching the second season, High School DxD New not because for the boobs fanservice but for the interesting storyline? Yeah. Hard to believe but believe it. As said in my previous blog on this series, this is one of the very few ecchi themed shows that has a plot and got me interested in the story instead of staying for the fanservice. That’s just extra bonus. As we know, our heroic but perverted Issei who dreams to have a harem of his own and be king of it is now a low level Demon. But he’s got this powerful gear that boosts everyone’s power and an attitude to protect his friends that would make girls slowly fall head over heels if he plays his card right. And then there is that war against the different factions of Angels, Demons and Fallen Angels, no? I know it’s complicated but it is all somewhat interesting.

I have been thinking why they have given the word ‘New’ as the name of the second season. I am sure that they mean it is a new season but if you think about it, that just sounds pretty lame. New characters? New plot? New development? New surprises? Yeah. Perhaps a bit of all of that. But still, don’t you think it doesn’t sound as cool? At least in my opinion. I thought they could do better than that in the naming department. The only plausible reason why I think they named it so is because they can design the alphabet ‘w’ as a pair of women’s breast. Yup. You’ll notice that in the design of that word quickly. But seriously, there are many other words that have ‘w’ in it. Say, women, power, winner and even meow. Meow? Hah. I just think of whatever words comes to mind.

Episode 1
What a way to start an episode. A naked girl sleeping right next to a guy. This is not a dream. Issei is surprised to find naked Rias next to him. Even better. She is willing to get ecchi with him. Till Asia knocks on the door to remind them about training. Think she’ll get jealous or freak out? Actually, she doesn’t want to lose and strips! Woah! Now there are 2 naked girls! Great start! At school, Issei’s jealous pals, Matsuda and Motohama are admonishing him about rumours that he is sleeping with the Occult Club beauties. Hell, they’re the ones who spread it so they won’t get jealous! Aren’t they jealous? They even made up rumours of Issei x Yuuto! Even classmate Aika Kiryuu is puzzled that Asia had to choose this loser when there are lots of great guys out there. Issei is about to deny all that nightly interlocking stuff talk when his left hand starts acting up so he excuses himself. At the clubroom, he has Akeno drain the power of his dragon. The way they show it sounds so slutty… Akeno sucking his finger but from that position it looks like… And he’s in a towel. She is in a wet robe. You get the picture. Let’s do this again another time? The Occult Club members are having their club meeting at Issei’s place since the building is undergoing cleaning. Issei’s mother who loves their company brings in old photo albums of Issei. The girls just love him. Stark naked. Some sort of fetish must be awakening… But Yuuto sounds envy that Issei gets to live with his family. He points out a photo with Issei and another kid he used to spend time a lot at the church with but moved due to the change in the father’s job. Yuuto points out the holy sword in the background. Later Issei goes out to get more demon contracts and since he’d do anything, he accompanies that guy drinking in his home.

Issei then meets up with the rest to slay a stray demon in an abandoned factory. Why do such demons have to spew clothes disintegrating liquid? Although the stray demon has been eliminated, Yuuto’s spacing out got the rest in danger. He isn’t his usual self. Rias even slaps him after that but Yuuto owns up and wishes to be excuse for tonight. Issei tries to get him to talk about his problem. They’re friends, right? Yeah. Who says? Yuuto hints he just remembered what he is fighting for: Revenge. He only lives to destroy the holy sword, Excalibur. Later Rias explains how Excalibur is the ultimate demon slaying sword and can kill demons by a mere touch. Its only downfall is that only a selected few can wield it. That’s why the Church tried to create artificial beings to hold it via Holy Sword Project. It happened so long ago although the project ended in failure. Yuuto is a survivor of that project. Issei shows Rias the photo which got Yuuto to act strange. This isn’t Excalibur but is nevertheless a holy sword. One that probably annihilated Rias’ ancestors in this area. Enough of serious talk. It’s time to sleep. And Rias can’t sleep if she isn’t naked. And she wants to sleep with Issei! Guess what for Asia? She doesn’t want to lose, right? This dream is going to be the sweetest. Meanwhile Xenovia and Irina Shidou are at the decimated church. Irina once lived here. And yeah. She is that kid who used to play with Issei as she has that photo too. So that kid’s not a boy? Yuuto is wandering around in the streets when he sees Freed killing a priest. Since Yuuto is in a bad mood and Freed wants revenge, it’s the right time for them to draw their swords. Oh. Freed’s sword is Excalibur!

Episode 2
Yuuto has his chance fighting Freed but since the latter got some sort of call, he makes his exit. Another morning with Issei being flanked by 2 lovely naked girls sleeping by his side. Damn how lucky this guy. Ddraig talks to Issei just to warn him about the strong enemies that will appear before him. Especially the White One known as Vanishing Dragon. They’re both known as the Heavenly Dragons and are those possessing them are destined to fight each other. In other words, there is somebody out there like Issei who possesses the Sacred Gear. Issei and Asia return to the newly cleaned clubroom. They learn Yuuto is taking time off from school. Fearing it has something to do with the holy sword, he has Rias explain further. Since the original Excalibur was destroyed in battle ages ago, the Church gathered its remains and used alchemy to create 7 new swords under the Excalibur name. Yuuto wasn’t the only child in the project who couldn’t use it. Nobody could. As the project was a failure, the monk in charge killed them all. Yuuto somehow survived but on the verge of death, that’s where Rias picked him up. She thought of using his anger for revenge to help the demons. Souna then comes in requesting Rias to follow her back to her home where they can talk safely. Rias knows this has gotten serious. It seems a couple of church officials are in town and they want to negotiate with Rias and will come see her in her clubroom tomorrow. Souna had to accept their proposal since they have a holy sword.

Issei and Asia have a bad feeling when they return home. Thinking something might have happened to his mother, he rushes in only to see Xenovia and Irina talking to mother. Mother reminds him that Irina is that child in the photo. Issei is surprised because all the while he thought that kid was a boy. Now she’s so feminine. Later when Rias comes home, she is so relieved that the both of them are okay, she vows to protect them even more from now. She was even willing to oblige Issei’s boobs request if not for Asia. Xenovia and Irina begin their negotiation with Rias. Explaining that of the 7 holy swords, 1 is missing and the rest in the custody of 3 factions of the Church. However Fallen Angels have somehow taken 3 of them. Xenovia and Irina show their respective holy swords, Excalibur Destruction and Excalibur Mimicry. Rias could guess that they are worried if Demons joined forces with Fallen Angels and will do something to the holy sword. Xenovia threatens she will destroy her, causing Rias to grow angry. Rias assures she will not tarnish her family’s name and will not help the Fallen Angels. This means she also won’t help them. Before they leave, Xenovia recognizes Asia as the Witch and one who has fallen from a holy maiden. She wonders if she still believes in God and despite she has become a Demon, she looks like the type who cannot forget their old beliefs. If that’s the case, she wants her to let her cut her up so God will send His helping hand. Issei is obviously quite upset that they belittled Asia and jumps to her defence. He doesn’t give a damn about their religion after they labelled her so and so on their own. Nobody understands Asia loneliness and if they’re going to lay a hand on her, he’ll fight each and every one of them. Xenovia takes this as a challenge against the Church. So happen Yuuto has returned and he too wants to be their opponent. Issei-Yuuto vs Xenovia-Irina in an unofficial match. That means keeping it to a level where they won’t kill them. That’s still pretty bad, right?

Episode 3
It’s a pretty much destructive match between Xenovia and Yuuto. But on to Irina and Issei, the latter is trying to rip her clothes with his Sacred Gear! Thankfully she is warned by Koneko. Why tell the enemy his plan? Because Issei is the enemy of all women! Issei continues to put all his effort in turning Irina naked. He misses and hits Asia and Koneko instead. Despite getting punched by Koneko, that guy still won’t give up. He includes a passionate speech how he will one day destroy girls’ clothes just by looking at them. I wonder how sinful that is. In the end, that carelessness has Issei being scratched by her Excalibur. It drains out a lot of energy and his Sacred Gear disappears. Rias acknowledges the victory to Irina. Yuuto also loses his match when he is unable to control his bigger demon swords and in exchange took away his speed. Rias wonders if they have identified the Fallen Angel who stole the holy swords. Grigori’s Upper Echelon, Kokabiel. It is a risky mission akin to a suicide but they rather destroy the holy sword than letting the Fallen Angel use it. One of their colleagues sent to investigate has already perished. Yuuto knows him because he saw him getting killed by Freed. Yuuto doesn’t heed Rias’ words and goes off on his own.

Issei remembers Saji. Do we? He ropes him in to help him destroy the holy sword. He vehemently protests because he will face backlash from Souna. He wants to leave but Koneko won’t let him. Seems Issei’s plan is to work together with the church duo. They could still salvage the parts of Excalibur after it’s being destroyed and Yuuto wants to destroy them. Despite different goals, the end result is the same. That’s why they should offer their help. They find the church duo begging for donations. I suppose even if they’re skilful agents of God, when you don’t have money, you’re poor. And it’s ironic they’ve been saved by the Demons and treated to tons of food. Xenovia agrees to let them help out and destroy one of the swords. Irina disagrees but Xenovia notes that collecting all the holy swords is extremely difficult. Survival rate is 30% and their upper brass sent them knowing they would sacrifice themselves on this mission. They find Yuuto and tell him about this plan. Xenovia understands his anger. That’s why the project was considered a heretic and excommunicated from the Church. He lets him know the person responsible for the massacre is Balba Galilei AKA The Slaughtering Archbishop. It is uncommon for excommunicated priests like Balba and Freed to be working together. Yuuto agrees to cooperate. He doesn’t want his friends to get involve because this is his hatred and revenge. Issei insists on this friendship thingy and won’t let his previous friend turn into a stray. Not just him but everyone else will be sad if he’s gone. Yuuto narrates his flashback how all the experimented kids continued to believe in God despite the torture they went through. When the projected terminated, they were all poisoned to death. Everyone cooperated to allow Yuuto to escape. That’s when he met Rias and was welcomed into her house. He credits his survival because of his comrades who died just to let him escape. He poured his resentment into his swords and must destroy Excalibur. It’s his atonement as the only survivor. Saji is so touched by his story that he is willing to help him out. Who cares about the punishment. Koneko also wants to help seeing it’ll be lonely if Yuuto isn’t around. That night Issei leaves his house late to meet up with his ragtag gang to go hunt and destroy Excalibur.

Episode 4
The church duo and Demons split into groups for the hunt. The Demons encounter Freed and he is as crazy as usual. Freed can match Yuuto’s speed. Issei wants to help boost Yuuto. If he could just sit still for a while. Saji uses his Sacred Gear, Absorption Line to tie down Freed. Want to guess his Sacred Gear is a dragon too? Koneko tosses Issei towards Yuuto to boost him. Before Freed gets cut by his swords, here comes Balba telling him how to use the holy sword. He channels his elements into it and powers up to cut himself free. Xenovia and Irina arrive on scene. Balba isn’t going to fight with Excalibur users so he has Freed create an escape route. Yuuto and the church duo go after them. For those left behind, their bosses (Rias and Souna) appear and want an explanation over this fiasco. They are reprimanded and reminded their actions could have caused trouble for all Demons. Issei must be lucky to have Rias as his master because hugs them and expresses how worried she was. Unlike Saji. His butt is going to hurt after getting magical slams by Souna. Ouch. Oh. I take that back. Rias is going to magical butt spank Issei too to discipline him. Now show me your butt! We take a little time off for some fanservice because when Issei returns home, he is greeted by Asia in a naked apron. Mother approves! Rias also wants in and has mother help her out. She notes Asia has become quite a little pervert since she has taken the initiative. Asia tells Issei that she found something more precious than her feelings for God. The school, her friends, her club members, Issei’s parents and of course Issei himself. Wow. That’s a lot. She hugs him but all he could think of is whether to fondle her naked butt. He couldn’t since Rias is out and showing off her naked apron too.

Yuuto has not contacted them since so Rias has sent familiars to find their whereabouts. They only find Irina who is beaten to a pulp. Actually, her clothes are just torn. As she is exhausted, she tells them the others manage to escape but not her. She cautions not to underestimate that guy’s strength. After Tsubaki takes her away to Souna’s house for medical facilities, Freed comes into the picture. But he is not here to fight but his boss, Kokabiel wants to talk to Rias (he put Irina as the bait to lure them here). Kokabiel is wondering if he should create havoc in this city starting with Kuou Academy. Doing so means Sirzechs won’t sit back and do nothing. Ever since the great war ended, he is feeling bored and wants to initiate another all-out war between Angels, Demons and Fallen Angels. He thought snatching Excalibur would have Michael come after him but disappointingly he sent a couple of Excalibur wielders and an exorcist. He also mentions his fellow comrade Azazel who acts as the governor for Fallen Angels is interested in collecting Sacred Gears and has been obsessively doing research on them. Though, he is against Kokabiel’s idea for war. Freed is amazed by Kokabiel’s insanity that he shows them a couple of Excalibur swords he has now. One of them is Excalibur Mimic he got after beating up Irina. Kokabiel wants to start a war with Rias and fires several warning shots before heading off to Kuou Academy. They could have easily destroyed this entire city if they want to from the kind of power they possess. Balba initiates the next phase in his plan at Kuou Academy.

Episode 5
The student council puts a barrier around the academy. Akeno has taken the liberty to contact Sirzechs’ assistance because she knows Rias can’t handle a situation of this magnitude by herself. Backup will arrive in an hour. Kokabiel shoots a large beam and destroys the entire gym just to show the kind of power he has. He has them play with his pets, Cerberus. Issei’s boosting did little to help increase his comrade’s power. Till Xenovia comes in and starts slashing away with her Excalibur. That sword makes it look so easy, eh? Ddraig informs Issei that the charging has been complete so now he can give maximum boost to Rias and Akeno. After all the Cerberus are destroyed, Akeno attacks Kokabiel but was deflected and it destroys another big portion of the school. Balba has finished fusing the Excalibur swords together for one big powerful mother. If they don’t want this entire city to be flattened, they better defeat Kokabiel. Still no match for him. Now it’s Yuuto’s turn to show up and he has a grudge against Balba. However Kokabiel orders Freed to kill everyone with the new Excalibur. Who wants to be the first victim? Balba gives his thanks to Yuuto and his comrades that because of them, the research has been completed. Something about some genetic element that all candidates possessed wasn’t high enough to allow them to wield the holy sword. So he removed it and after its crystallization, it was completed. He shows Yuuto what it looks like being crystallized and the only one left. Freed adds everyone except him died because they couldn’t handle it. So does this make him a special person? Xenovia also remembers when someone who could use Excalibur was receiving their blessing, they accepted that into their body. It’s like making up for what they lack. Yuuto wonders why Balba had to kill his comrades because he mentioned the Church using the same extract. Because he considers them as lab rats and it’s natural to only dispose of them once the experiment is done. Yuuto becomes distraught that they were just that despite their belief in God.

Balba tosses the crystal to him. He can have it as he has found a way to mass produce something like that with higher purity. Yuuto is so upset and with the crystal in his hands, it released all the souls from the crystal. He hears the voice of his comrades telling him not to worry because they’re all here. Their hearts will always be with him. So touchy this drama that even Issei and Asia can’t stop crying. Yuuto knows his comrades don’t want him to avenge their deaths. But he will punish this evil so that there will be no repeat. Everyone encourages him to defeat Freed and destroy that Excalibur. Because of Yuuto’s strong feelings, he puts them along with his comrade’s into the sword and this awakens his forbidden Sacred Treasure, Balance Breaker. His Sword of Betrayer carries both holy and demonic powers. Xenovia wants to help Yuuto destroy that Excalibur because by the way it is used, it is no longer a holy sword. She summons another holy sword, Durandal, believed to be on equal footing with Excalibur and can cut through anything. Because it is hard to control it, she locks it up in another dimension. Balba realizes she is a natural holy sword wielder. Yuuto and Xenovia’s cooperation and their strong feelings manage to destroy the Excalibur and do some damage to Freed. Balba is about to realize the impact of having a combination of both holy and demonic powers together and the shift in the power balance when suddenly Kokabiel kills him. Now that the side show has ended, it’s time for the real show. Kokabiel wants Issei to charge his power to the maximum and give anyone that power boost. Because seriously, does anyone think they can’t defeat this mighty Fallen Angel? Issei takes Rias’ hand as they make their way forward.

Episode 6
Even with the maximum boosting, Rias still cannot best Kokabiel. Not even with Akeno’s help. Kokabiel identifies her as the daughter of Barakiel, a Fallen Angel using the same thunder powers as her. I suppose Issei is the only one who doesn’t fear Kokabiel because he’s telling him to shut up and wants to beat the crap out of him for hurting Rias and Akeno. Yuuto, Koneko and Xenovia fight the Fallen Angel to buy Yuuto some time to recharge. I think Yuuto was trying some santouryuu wielding not only swords in both hands but in his mouth as well. It was enough to at least scratch Kokabiel’s face. Since Kokabiel is going to start the war, he lets everyone out on a secret: God and the 4 Demon Lords died in the great war! Therefore servants of God have been masterless ever since. But who is keeping the balance of everything if God is dead? Michael is doing a pretty fine job in his stead although all prayers and blessing effects have a limited effect. The Upper Echelons of all sides never told this to anyone because they want everyone’s faith to be kept intact. But what angers Kokabiel most is the fact that the war ended after God and the 4 Demon Lords died. Victory could have been theirs and Azazel didn’t want another war. Due to this, there has been significant decrease in people believing in God, pure Angels can no longer be born and pure blooded Demons are a rare find. Also, that is why the hybrid sword of Balance Breaker can be created. Issei tells him to shut the f*ck up. Because if he destroys this town, he won’t be able to achieve his dream of becoming a harem king. Serious. If that is what he wants, Kokabiel invites him to join him and they can find all the beautiful women he wants. Issei is really tempted so much so Rias had to tell him off if that is what he wants so much, she’ll let him do anything to her when they get back. Anything. This was enough to give enough boost to Issei. Super motivation. Wow. The power of boobs. Never underestimate it. So powerful that he manages to land a few clean punches on Kokabiel’s face. I guess he really wants to suck her boobs that much.

Suddenly the barrier shatters. Floating down from the sky is believed to be the Vanishing Dragon. He is faster than Kokabiel and takes him out by surprise. He even seemingly nullifies his power. He introduces himself as Albion and Divine Dividing is his Sacred Gear. It halves the power of anything he touches every 10 seconds. It is a total opposite of Issei’s Sacred Gear because his gives power. Albion considers Kokabiel a bore and sends him back to where he belongs since Azazel ordered him to be brought back. Albion then takes Freed as he needs to interrogate him before his execution. Ddraig greets Albion and they are confident they will meet again. Happy ending? Not for Issei. Thanks to Albion, his chance of sucking Rias’ breasts has vanished. Can you say Rias’ chastity is saved? But Albion tells Issei to get stronger first. Then they can fight. Yuuto apologizes for his betrayal and everything but everyone welcomes him back. He swears a new oath to Rias. Of course, he is not spared from her butt spanking. Next day back in the clubroom, everyone gets a surprise when Xenovia becomes a transfer student and club member. Rias has also appointed her as her Knight. This means Xenovia is now a demon?! True! I guess with God gone, her life is meaningless. But to be a Demon’s servant? Did she make the right choice? As for Irina, she went back to headquarters. Her faith in God is still strong but who knows what her reaction will be. She apologizes for saying mean things to Asia. The girls make up and they carry on with their club activities. On a last note, the guy who has been summoning Issei for company all this while turns out to be Azazel.

Episode 7
Azazel mentions he snuck into this town when he learnt Kokabiel wanted to start a war. Things would have gotten out of hand had he stopped him himself so he sent Albion instead. Issei’s conclusion? He is to be blamed for the missed opportunity to suck Rias’ breasts! Azazel admits he is interested in his Sacred Gear. From what has happened, there is going to be a summit among Angels, Fallen Angels and Demons. Rias is not too happy about it since it is going to be held in this town. Furthermore, Azazel got up close to her cute Issei without her knowing it. Jealous? She’ll definitely protect him. Extra bonus: Smothering him in her boobs. As part of their thanks to the student council for helping them out, the Occult Club members will clean the pool (abandoned for over a year – see all those green funny stuffs growing?) and in return they get to be the first ones to use it. While changing, Yuuto vows to repay the favour to Issei and protect him. Sure. Only if it doesn’t sound so gay… Because Issei has fought with the more powerful, his Sacred Gear is acting up quicker and needs Akeno’s help to drain its power. To a point where Rias is getting suspicious what they’re doing alone. True enough, she catches them in the act. Well, Akeno was the one who suggested having an illegal sexual affair. She really means it. Then when Issei puts lotion on Rias’ back, she even allows him to rub oil on her boobs! However Akeno interjects and wants to borrow him. Friend or no friend, this has gone too far. Akeno is not afraid of Rias and doesn’t heed her order that Issei is hers. This leads to them throwing powerful projectiles at each other. Wow. Issei causing the most powerful girls in his harem to fight over him?

Issei escapes only to bump into Xenovia. She has a favour of him. Make babies with him. She’s serious. But with him? She figured that now she doesn’t follow God’s path, Rias told her to live the life she wants. She makes it her goal to be more feminine and part of being that is to have babies. Don’t even ask how she arrives at this. She’s about to get down and dirty with him and even tell him to take the lead because she has no experience when Rias and the rest of the girls catch them in their unholy act. Does Xenovia understand what making a child means because she’s saying it so nonchalantly that makes the other ladies blush. Sirzechs pays a surprise visit to the Occult Club. In addition to Parent’s Day (he is after all her guardian despite being the king of Demons), he plans of having the summit right here in this school. Sirzechs even stays over at Issei’s place as his parents welcome him with great hospitality. Mind you, they don’t know he is the Demon Lord. Such great people. So why does the Demon Lord want to sleep in the same room with Issei? (Too bad Rias can’t creep in this time). I guess when you are in this position, you’re tired with all the treatment and exclusivity. He is glad Issei treats him like a normal guest, something which he will never experience anywhere. Yeah. Just come down to Earth any time and you’ll be treated like scum if you don’t flaunt your money or status. He updates Issei on Kokabiel. He is being imprisoned in a crystal for eternity by Azazel. He guarantees to protect Issei from Azazel because he too knows he is interested in colleting Sacred Gears. Then he changes the subject to Issei’s preference to big breast women. He gives him an idea what happens if he uses his Sacred Gear to boost Rias’ breasts. Bigger? Rounder? Smoother? Shinier? Could it be an imagination off the charts? Yeah. He is thinking so much about it that he couldn’t sleep all night. The next day as Issei goes to school, this guy named Vali Lucifer walks up to him and knows he is the wielder of the Welsh Dragon, Emperor of the Red Dragon. Because he is the Emperor of the White Dragon, Vanishing Dragon.

Episode 8
Yuuto and Xenovia warn Vali not to do anything stupid to Issei. Of course he isn’t afraid. If they aren’t afraid of innocent bystanders getting hurt, he’ll gladly fight them. With the entire Occult Club here, Rias wants to know his intention of coming here. He is just here to tell them those influenced by the dragons can never live decent lives. He wonders if this applies to her. He is not here to fight but just as greeting. Issei is worried because he could feel Rias’ sweaty palms. Later talking to Ddraig about the dragons’ relationship, long ago when the war between the 3 sides started, 2 dragons started fighting among each other in the midst for reasons they have forgotten because it was so long ago. It caused massive destruction to the point all the sides called a temporary truce to stop them. Of course the dragons didn’t like others interfering with their fight but in the end they were cut into pieces and sealed away in Sacred Gears. Since then, both dragons have used humans as a medium to continue their battle. There have been times when a host dies before the dragons meet and thus no fight. When Issei returns to class, he gets punched by Matsuda and Motohama. Yup. Another jealousy case about Xenovia joining the Occult Club. They are suspicious if he has already made a move on her. Things get worse when Xenovia is here to apologize and will do it properly. She shows a bunch of condoms for him to use and practice!

During Parent’s Day, they are allowed to come into class and observe the lesson. Issei’s class is supposed to sculpt something out of clay. What is it that he really desires? Mmm… He is thinking about Rias’ boobs and perfect body and before he realizes it, he has sculpted a magnificent masterpiece of Rias! Everyone is impressed. Or not impressed if you’re a Rias fan. So much so they want to even buy his sculpture! Issei’s parents are so happy. For they never knew such perversion could be a lucrative business. Even Aika commented for him to make such a perfect model, he must have touched Rias’ body. Even Akeno hints she would like one and allow him to touch every inch of her naked body. I’m sure Issei would love it if not for Rias and Asia’s objection. There is a commotion at the gym and a girl cosplaying as Magical Girl Milky Spiral Seven is attracting the guys. Saji shoos them away but Souna is not happy seeing her. Serafall Leviathan is her older sister and one of the current 4 Demon Kings. Somehow, I understand why Souna doesn’t get along well with her sister. Because Serafall fawns over her and is obsessed about magical girl stuffs. To a point it makes Souna cry and run away! Bet you never see this side of hers, eh? Not even the student council president can put her foot down and tell her to restrain herself. And then Rias’ father meets Issei’s parents. They even have a feast back home. Is this going to be a common practice when Rias family visits? They go through the recorded clips of their children during Parent’s Day. Rias got so embarrassed that she retreats to her room. That was like hell, wasn’t it? Ironic. Issei goes to console her and she takes the first strike by kissing him. That felt good, huh? I guess she learnt something from Akeno. Of course this doesn’t sit well with Asia and she wants a piece of the action too. Too bad Sirzechs have to ruin it because he thinks it is time for Rias to release her other Bishop. Previously she was too weak to control it but after watching her battle against Raiser and Kokabiel, he changed his mind. Her strength has increased and there are more people in her house now. If this is what he wants, she will comply.

Episode 9
There is a sealed room in the school building where the supposed Bishop is sealed. However they released the seal every night for the Bishop to roam free but apparently the Bishop is a shut-in. Ironically this Bishop also gets the most contract fulfilled. Just by opening the door, Gasper Vladi starts cowering in fear and whines she likes it in here, blah, blah, blah. Issei is happy to see a young blonde girl just like Asia. She might not have boobs but at least another girl to add to his harem. But Rias mentions Gasper is a boy. Say what? Cross-dressing is his hobby. Disappointed, eh? He never knew how screwed up this world is. Yeah. His mind is screwed up too. Rias adds before becoming a Demon, he is a child of a vampire and human. Gasper is so frightened that he seemingly disappears to a corner. Also explained that he possesses the Sacred Gear, Evil Eye That Stops The World. When he is nervous, it will momentarily stop time. It is because he cannot control this power, Sirzechs ordered him to be sealed away. But his power increases when he is unconscious and may even possess Balance Breaker. Gasper continues to hide in a box and is happy with his recluse life. Rias, Akeno and Yuuto are heading off to a meeting and she wants the rest to help educate him. Xenovia seems like a Spartan trying to train her physically. I thought she looked more like a bully. Is she enjoying this? Even Koneko. She’s throwing garlic at him. Loving it, aren’t they? Saji pays a visit and is thrilled to see the newbie till he is told about the cross-dressing. Disappointing, eh? When Azazel appears, everyone gets on their guard. He is disappointed Yuuto is not around. He advises Gasper of his Sacred Gear. It is dangerous if he doesn’t have enough magical power. Noting Saji’s Absorption Line, it belongs to the Black Dragon’s Vein. He even tells him some functions he never knew exist. Like using his line to drain Gasper’s excess power as it is one of the 5 great dragon kings, Prison Dragon Vritra. There is another faster way too. Suck Issei’s blood as he is the host of the Red Dragon. But can a cowardly guy like Gasper do so? He’s already complaining he hates blood. Despite being half-vampire. The  ‘re-education’ of Gasper continues but the no progress. More whining and crying.

He locks himself back in the room. Rias has to be called in the middle of the meeting. She explains there is a reason he is acting so. His father is from a distinguished vampire family while his mother an ordinary human. Because of that, he is shunned by other family members and when he came to the human world, everyone bullied him. Given that he couldn’t control his power, he was also hated. After hearing such fine speech, Issei takes it upon himself to handle it so Rias goes back to the meeting. He sits outside his door and talks to Gasper his usual way. Relating his experience when he was afraid to use his Sacred Gear at first, moving forward and never wanting to see Rias cry again. Gasper feels he is a hindrance to everyone but to Issei, he has never seen him as one as he is her precious junior and friend. He hopes he could lend his power to support Rias. Still afraid of his power? In fact, Issei envies it. Imagine he could stop time and stare underneath girls’ skirt and fondle boobs as much as he wants. Now that the ice is broken, Issei goes in to continue talking about his plan. The kind to fondle Rias’ boobs. That’s his current goal, right? Yuuto returns and is happy they are getting along fine. Issei has a plan for the guys. Gasper will freeze time to let Issei grope boobs. How does Yuuto fit in? He will defend him from anyone trying to stop him from executing his plan! He’d do anything for him, right? The other girls return and they want to be Gasper’s friend. Xenovia slams a paper bag on his head and suddenly he feels comfortable! He likes it! Thank Asia for this idea. Gasper is doing great. At least his confidence is there. Later Akeno wants Issei to meet her at the shrine. Can Demons be at such a place? It was abandoned but Rias made arrangement to gain ownership for her. An Angel with golden wings descends and he is Michael. Wow. Issei is lucky to have met the heads of all the factions.

Episode 10
Michael shows him a holy sword used to kill dragons, Dragon Slayer Ascalon. He wants Issei to have it and see how it assimilates with his Sacred Gear. Why him? He heard rumours he is the weakest successor (it’s a fact) and thought this would be a good auxiliary weapon for him. Although the majority doesn’t want to go to war, there is a minority faction that longs for it. If nothing is done, everyone will die in the end. There is also the threat of outside forces. Creatures from other myths and legends that may strike first. That is why it is necessary for the 3 sides to join forces to prevent needless bloodshed. Issei takes Ascalon and it perfectly fuses with his Sacred Gear. After Michael leaves, Issei asks Akeno about Barakiel. Did he step on a landmine? Akeno explains she was born from Barakiel and an ordinary temple woman. She picked him up when he was injured and that’s when Akeno was conceived. She shows him both wings of a Demon and Fallen Angel she has. She wants to know what Issei thinks. He must hate her because Fallen Angels once hurt Asia and attempted to destroy his city. He admits he hates Fallen Angels but Akeno is an exception because she is kind. And all the other nice things about her. I guess this turns on her feminine switch so she hugs him. She has decided. To be his number 3. She doesn’t mind adultery and wants him to spoil her more often. Issei couldn’t resist her seduction and lies on her lap pillow. What if Rias finds out? Oops. Too late. There she is. His cheeks got pinched. Thank goodness it is only that. Obviously she leaves mad and despite Akeno calling her the number one candidate, it doesn’t please her at all because she thought she was the furthest. Issei and Asia continue with Gasper’s training. He easily gives up but Issei reminds him about their goal. Yeah. His goal to grope women’s boobs. He is willing to play the devil as long as Gasper gets strong. Nice reasoning? Well, it motivated Gasper to carry on. Meanwhile Vali is seen talking to Azazel. The former regrets being born in this era because God is no more. He wanted a chance to defeat Him and is not interested in this boring world. Rias takes her Occult Club members (with the exception of Gasper and Koneko who stayed back) to the summit. All the important characters are here. They talk about Kokabiel’s attempts to start a war and Azazel sounds quite obnoxious in answering. He let Kokabiel roam free to see his intention and asked the White Dragon to dispose of him so he’s not going to come back ever. Azazel wants to get over with this boring discussion and form an alliance to get over this. He points out this is what the Demons wanted since the beginning.

Episode 11
Azazel asks the opinion of the dragons since they don’t belong to any faction but have the power to change the world. Vali just wants to fight strong people but he can do that without resorting to war, right? Issei can’t come up with an answer so Azazel puts it this way. If there is a war, he won’t get to sleep with Rias. Imagine there is peace, he’ll be able to have sex with her and produce babies every night. Not a bad deal, right? With that, Issei votes for peace and blurts out he wants to have sex with Rias. Oops. Issei has a question for Michael. Why did he expel Asia who was faithful to God? After His demise, only the system remained. It is barely functioning with him at the centre and hence anything that could negatively affect it must be purged. That’s why Asia and Xenovia were branded as heretics otherwise they couldn’t have maintained the system as they rely on the faith of the people. Michael is deeply sorry over it but Xenovia and Asia inform that they are living a great life as Demons. Suddenly time stops. Only high levelled entities and sword users are not frozen. Magicians swamp down into the place and start attacking. They deduce Gasper may have been captured and forced to amplify his power. Issei learns Gasper is more powerful than he thinks because he is a Mutation Piece (made up of several chess pieces from what I understand). Rias didn’t leave Koneko behind for no reason. Because she can do castling (a king and rook swap places). Grayfia suggests Rias can take along one more person if Sirzechs uses his power. Issei will go. Vali thinks it would be easier to just kill off Gasper and the enemy but Azazel reminds that they are here to make peace. So he orders Vali to fight the magicians and throw them into disarray. Vali easily transforms into his dragon form and kicks ass. Before Rias and Issei go, Azazel gives them an armband. One is for Issei to use as last resort to achieve Balance Breaker. The other is for Gasper to control his power.

After they leave, Cattleya appears before everyone. She is the descendent of Leviathan and was one of the Demon Kings before Serafall took over. She is all for war and chaos. She has concluded that after God and the Demon Kings death, a new world needs to be recreated as seen fit. Azazel decides to fight her alone. Noting her powerful aura, he knows descendents cannot be this powerful and wonders who is supporting her from behind. She isn’t telling. Rias is surprised to see Cattleya. Explaining to Issei, after the Demon Kings died, new ones assumed their names. The Demons could have been totally wiped out had the war not been stopped but the descendents of the old Demon Kings wished for the war to continue and were banished to a corner of the Underworld. Cattleya is that descendent of that old Demon Lord Leviathan. But they can’t be preoccupied with this fight as they have to rescue Gasper and Koneko. Rias orders Issei to promote himself into Queen. When they break in, Gasper wants them to kill him. He regrets causing trouble again. Rias tells him off not to say such foolish things and reminds him when she picked him up, she told him to live for her sake and at the same time find a way of life that he finds satisfying. In short, she will never abandon him. She treasures her servants and it’s okay for him to cause her lots of problems (like Issei?) because she will continue to scold him again, comfort him again but will never let him go. Issei nails it that everyone is his comrades. So don’t give up and fight. He summons Ascalon just to cut his own hand and fling his blood towards Gasper. A taste of that little drip causes Gasper to power up, stopping time to free himself and Koneko. Then he goes on a batty rampage against his captors with Issei performing his finishing move of breaking their robes. Say, why are all those magicians females? Now he wants to grope their perfect boobs but of course at this time of chaos, Rias won’t let him. They have to hurry back to the rest.

Episode 12
Once Gasper is in Sirzechs’ hands, Rias and co go on the offensive. But seeing them in action is not enough for Gasper. It’s that guilt trip again. He feels he wants to be a more manly man to help them so he takes off the armband. This causes time to resume normally and unfreeze those affected. Azazel takes out Downfall Dragon Spear, an artificial Sacred Gear he made and turns himself into a Dragon Armour. In a swift blow, he deals quite a damage to Cattleya. She is not going down alone and plans to take him along so Azazel sacrifices his left arm to kill her off. After the rest of the other magicians are eliminated, Vali attacks and almost hits Azazel and Issei. Turns out Vali is the traitor among the group. Azazel wants to confirm something from him. His deputy, Shemhaza deduced somebody has been collecting dangerous elements among the 3 forces and formed an organization called Khaos Brigade. The one holding them together is Uroboros Dragon, Ophis, believed to be the strongest dragon even God fears. Vali admits he joined forces with Ophis but has no interest in this world. People who wish to use their power simply flock to them on their own. Everyone is surprised to learn Vali is the descendent of the previous Demon King. His father a Demon King and mother a mere human. A half breed. Because of this mixture, Vali considers himself to be miraculously strong and makes comparisons with Issei whom he considers weak. He thinks of awakening Issei’s brutal side by killing his parents. Issei is so upset with those words that he over boosts and transforms into his armoured version. All that hatred has channelled to draw out the dragon’s true power. However Vali is still superior since he is able to absorb his power. Vali has another idea. Maybe he should kill his friends first and then go for his parents. Issei is totally worked up and pummels Vali. He even lets him absorb all the power so his armour breaks from the overflow. But you know what? Vali could easily regain his armour.

Issei is going to do a move that is considered suicide but he isn’t going to die yet. Not until he has taken Rias’ virginity. He is willing to bear the pain. And so Issei tries to absorb and fuse Vali’s power. Vali thinks it is impossible because the White and Red Dragon are opposites. But seeing Yuuto did with his hybrid sword have opened up this possibility. He might be a fool with no talent. He’ll just do it with all his emotions. Vali gets serious when he starts distorting the dimension so Azazel plans to do one more experiment. He makes it easier for Issei to understand. Vali’s power halves everything, right? So imagine if Rias’ boobs are halved. Oh. He gets the idea. The horror if all the boobs in the world are halved! See the tremendous power overflowing through Issei! Unforgivable! He becomes stronger and faster and connects every punch into Vali’s face. This is for Rias’ boobs! Akeno! Xenovia! Asia! Not forgetting Koneko too! Vali wants to unleash Juggernaut Drive but Albion advises this is not the place to do it. Issei is already near his limit. Vali’s subordinate, Bikou breaks the fight. He is supposed to be Son Goku from the Journey To The West. He informs they’re going to be fighting Earth Gods in the north so they’ve been called back. Till the next time they meet, Vali hopes Issei will go stronger. Issei is glad he has protected those boobs. And is rewarded with Rias’. He asks Michael for one last favour. To let Xenovia and Asia offer their prayer. Since they are okay that God is dead, they still want to do so. He is willing to tweak the system for them as a couple of demons doing so won’t be any different. Irina apologizes for jumping to conclusion that they betrayed the faith, now that she knows the truth. Next day, the Occult Club members get a surprise because Azazel has become their advisor and will be staying on Earth for a while. He got Sirzechs’ permission and also Souna somewhat sold them out because she was ‘threatened’ that Serafall would be transferred here. Azazel’s left arm is now mechanical and equipped with lots of gadgets. Another condition for his stay here is that he is to help develop their Sacred Gears and will hammer in the results of his research. Oh, one last message from Sirzechs. During his stay at Issei’s place, he noticed the importance of skinship to Issei. Thus he allows all girls of the club to stay at his place! And so, Akeno, Xenovia and Koneko move in. It’s going to be crowded. The competition is going to be intense. Maybe they should get a bigger house. And with peaceful times around, the girls get to fight over Issei as they walk to school. Azazel notes white the white desires power, the red desires women. Even without God, the world still turns.

Boobs For World Peace!
It doesn’t disappoint and I can say that this season is as good as the previous, if not getting better. Despite the handful of new characters and terms introduced, thankfully I can still manage it and it made me even more curious to find out what next. So please, let’s have another third season, okay? Even if the ending as usual isn’t one that really ends but opens up a whole lot of new possibilities, I suppose the execution was done right to leave viewers like me wanting more of the series in terms of the plot rather than the fanservice. Yes. Believe it. I prefer the story to the fanservice which just comes off as extra bonus.

So let’s talk about the fanservice first and get this out of the way. The version I saw was the uncensored one just like last season. (As usual they gave 2 choices of censored or uncensored and I opted the latter not because I am a pervert but rather the fansubs of the show that previously did this and I am sticking too took that version). This means there are lots of naked big boobs zoom in (courtesy of Rias and Akeno providing lots of them) and panty shots from certain angle just to tease our horny desires. So what is the point of buying the DVDs if you can watch these uncensored already? As I found out, the DVDs contain extra fanservice scenes so a normal episode that runs approximately 24 minutes is blown up to close to 30 minutes! Wow. Extra fanservice moments and I can guess which scenes they are. Since I’m not really that hard up, I will pass. Really. The mid-intermission is still another place for topless fanservice that is worthy of being a Playboy pull-out. The girls in random poses and in very ambiguous positions but enough to cover the necessary parts so as not to make this hentai. Just the disturbing thing is that Gasper did have one or two poses of his own. Is the trap fetish rising in the world? I know I would be sorely disappointed too…

Issei is still the same person as we know in the first season. He truly treasures his friends and is willing to stand up for them. However there is something about the way he gets worked up when somebody says bad about them. I know it’s a good thing but he is filled with so much angst that you can’t help feel that as though that person belongs to Issei. For instance, people badmouth Asia and Issei really tells them off. But the way he says it makes it feel as though Asia is his property and belongs to nobody else. Why not? That’s what a harem is all about, right? He is even kind enough to ask Michael to let Asia and Xenovia say some prayers to God. Nobody would have gotten this for them, would they? It would be a pain (literally) to see them say their prayers and then feel the effects of headache. Cute but pitiful. Power wise, he may still be the weakest but he is still growing and thanks to his perverted power and his ultimate goal of taking Rias’ virginity, it proves that the power of perversion is the most powerful instant power of all time. More powerful than the glucose athletes take for power before their serious competition. Well, at least he has a goal in life. From the looks of it, it seems that Issei has a lot more to go and a lot more ways he could power up and fuse stuffs and weapons. It all boils down to the will of his heart. Even a fool can turn the impossible possible. Also, despite Issei’s power up and improvement, it feels like he didn’t go anywhere. His Sacred Gear may have been through several evolutions but from an overall perspective, he is still pretty much weak due to his physical abilities. Then there is his goal of becoming harem king. Doesn’t feel like he is an inch closer although we can sense that the Occult Club girls are getting closer to him by the day. But still in this sense, he didn’t move much, didn’t he?

It is also nice to see some of the Occult Club members like Yuuto and Akeno to have their past revealed with the first half heavily focusing on Yuuto. I guess this is partly to show that Issei isn’t the only guy who has to hog the spotlight. Well, not the harem spotlight, that is. You can count on everyone in the Occult Club to still be the same people they are except with some minor or major improvements in their battle repertoire. Though, I somehow felt Koneko was very much side-lined in this season and as far as I can remember her main role is to be the deadpan tsukkomi part for Issei’s perversion. It’s great to see the Occult Club gaining more members and Rias is slowly on her way to complete her own set of chess pieces. All that is left now is a rook and 7 more pawns. Or maybe Issei is too big of a pawn that he fills up all the pawn roles. Xenovia sounds serious but sometimes I can’t help feel she is a little airhead especially when it comes to anything else other than fighting or praying to God. Her making babies statement is one good example. She doesn’t sound desperate. She doesn’t sound like she understood the entire concept of it. Like a robot, maybe? I guess with mature women and lolis in the club, they try to have a trap feature with Gasper. It’s because of his low self-confidence and whiny ways that makes him sound girly. So girly that I thought he should also be staying in Issei’s house. It’s all in the mind… I’m not sure if he understands the implication of helping Issei’s perverted dream but at least it boosts his self-confidence.

New characters bring in new breathe of life into the storyline with the heads of the 3 main factions as cool as the position they sit in. Azazel is cool because he has confidence in everything he says despite there is a pinch of arrogance in it. It’s like he knows a lot of things. Probably thanks to his research. Michael seems to be holding out playing God’s role quite well. He wouldn’t have been God’s archangel if he starts feeling the strain of everything. Vali is superbly powerful and could be the next big antagonist if there is ever another season. He recharges fast and loves challenging strong people. Ironically even though he views Issei as the weakest, he sees potential in him and wants him to grow stronger before their ultimate showdown in the future. Minor characters from the first season like Saji have been given a little more screen time with his surprise Sacred Gear and who knows what kind of potential this guy would have. Will he be Issei’s ally or rival? Some new characters don’t seem to have much impact yet such as Serafall. Just this season, she is shown as a magical girl fanatic who dotes on her younger sister. Likewise with Irina, during Kokabiel’s arc and after his defeat, I don’t feel much of her impact overall. Instead it went to Xenovia since she joined the club. Then there are those like Cattleya who just appeared for the final 2 episodes and got killed off. Finally, I’m wondering what happened to Freed. He was in Albion’s hands the last we saw him. Have they got what they wanted from him? Either way, will he be back in the future?

The romance part may not be developing that much but you can see some developments in the sense that Rias is getting more and more concerned about Issei, especially if she takes his eyes off him. Because for all you know the seductive Akeno may just steal him from underneath her nose. Akeno has always been able to keep her cool and in this sense she is quite a ‘dangerous’ person if she were to snatch Issei away from her. I know Issei will always consider Rias to be her number one but when you are a guy whose horniness does the talking, any sexy girl who can give you such pleasure will definitely take top spot. As seen many times when it comes to Issei, Akeno is willing to defy her master and make her move. Or is it just a ploy to get Rias to realize what is important to her and make her move first? It makes me wonder if Akeno considers herself as number 3, who is number 2 then? Asia or Xenovia? Because Asia has been living with Issei and they have this closeness and bond whereas Xenovia may be clueless but she’s bold enough to even bring in the condoms and doesn’t get nervy when she uses the sex word. I thought Irina would have been another major player in Issei’s potential harem since she is her childhood friend but looks could be deceiving. But I guess she’s more faithful to God. Maybe next time.

The action is rather okay this season and with the new power ups and several terms, it doesn’t feel heavy or overwhelming. Each fight is packed with power and you could feel the energy brimming especially from Issei when he boosts up. Maybe as we progress, there will be lots more other terms coming into play since as hinted there are other supernatural creatures from legends and myths around in addition to the 3 great factions. Yeah. I have a feeling this show is going to be a big messy melting pot involving monsters, aliens, gods and demi-gods. If everybody starts fighting, Earth is going to be one hell of a messed up place. That means no time for fooling around in your harem. So remember people. Always vote for peace!

But the mind boggling part is that God is dead for a long time. Someone we all believed to be the Creator of the universe is dead? Not even eternal? That’s news. If that is the case, it just brings more questions if there is another higher being than God. Because if God was really powerful and almighty, the great war wouldn’t have taken so long and victory would have been on Heaven’s side. Don’t tell me everything was just a ploy because God was just playing dead to test the faith of everyone, He is in hiding for some ultimate plan of His, so and so. That would be major disappointing. Assuming God in this anime is really dead, it proves that life can still go on. Not to say that we don’t need God to carry on life, rather like what Asia implied, there is more to life than just concentrating everything onto the Lord. You’ll experience lots of other stuffs that way. I think that is what God wants too. Another irony seen is that the Demons are like the good guys as far as this anime is concerned. But don’t let your type pigeonhole everything. It’s not your status or creature type that counts. It’s the inside. Now you understand why some girls flock over to Issei despite his obvious perverted brain and not his buddies?

With seiyuus of last season retained, many joined this season’s cast that includes Rikiya Koyama as Azazel (Kiritsugu in Fate/Zero), Ryota Ohsaka as Vali (Staz in Blood Lad), Risa Taneda as Xenovia (Yukari in Yuyushiki), Ayane Sakura as Gasper (Miyabi in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru), Ai Shimizu as Serafall (Ren in DearS), Maaya Uchida as Irina (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Michael (Shihcika in Katanagatari, Arata in Chihayafuru), Hiroki Yasumoto as Kokabiel (Sado in Bleach), Ryota Takeuchi as Albion (Drake in Kyoukai Senjou No Horizon), Eizou Tsuda as Balba (Heinemann in Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse) and Harumi Sakurai as Cattleya (Lisanna in Fairy Tail).

For this season, there are 2 opening and ending themes. Somehow they all don’t appeal to me. Probably it sounded and looked too generic. The first opening theme is Sympathy by Larval Stage Planning while the second opening song is Gekijouron by ZAQ. The ending themes are sung by the Occult Club female members. The first one being Houteishiki Wa Kotaenai and the second one, Lovely Devil. Both animations are filled with fanservice with the first one having naked unknown girls whom I believe are Issei’s classmates. Since last season we had pole dancing fanservice, this time for the second ending credits animation we have some sort of funny erotic dance. Either in some sort of erotic animal suit or S&M bikini. The most disturbing part is that Gasper is part of it (including singing the song). See! Do I sense some sort of trap fetish here?! It could have been straightforward if Gasper was casted as a girl but noooo… They had to screw the minds of us who are not trap fetish with so many scenes in the anime having Gasper in certain ambiguous positions. Sure Gasper looks cute and lovely… But remember… He’s a guy… So screwed up… I understand how Issei and Saji feel…

Overall, the second season is just as fun as the first with more characters and more storyline-cum-politics from all the factions to drive the plot somewhere. It will be great to see another season in the works and probably they could make this one last longer. Of course there is a caution that when you have so high expectations, the sequels will not turn out as great as you think. But still, I have really high hopes for this series. Packing in some drama, action, supernatural fantasy, romance and comedy all into one. Oh yeah. Don’t forget the ecchi fanservice. You can’t do this series without it. Now can we use sex as an argument and excuse to advocate for world peace? Maybe. If you’re Issei with a badass Sacred Gear. Otherwise just vote for peace and be a closet pervert. Because when war comes, nobody gets time to enjoy their favourite perverted past time. Then there would be a big world filled with angry and people full of rage not getting their daily dose of porn.

Go! Go! 575

April 11, 2014

I’m not really into those Japanese poems called tanka or haiku. The kind that has 3 lines and each line is exactly 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. So I’m not pretty excited when I heard that Go! Go! 575 was a short anime released in conjunction with the release of a video game based on this concept. I don’t know how fun that would be unless you can string any silly and crazy words to form such poems. Just think of it as a rhythm game blending in a word building game. And thus probably my misunderstanding and judging the book by its cover led me to watch this series. I thought it would be something like Speed Racer… You know… Mach! Go! Go! Uh huh. See the near similarity? Oh, not to mention cute girls on the promotion poster. Uh huh. Only 4 freaking episodes lasting 3 minutes each. Oh yeah. I’ve wasted my time in a lot of things (mainly in watching animes) so what is a dozen more episodes going to make a difference? Yeah. I can add to the list of “One more non-mainstream anime that I have watched”. Huzzah!

Episode 1
Azuki Masaoka ‘complains’ to Maccha Kobayashi that she wants to go wild. So? What’s stopping her? Azuki thinks and thinks and thinks… Then she gets scared and hides behind her friend because she somehow attracted a kite (a type of bird of prey). While Maccha advises her about dressing so flashy and the possibility it attracted a kite, she notices Maccha passionately starring at the hotcakes poster. Turns out, she was enthralled with the 5-7-5 lines of the poster. Just 17 words used to express them. You mean, she wasn’t interested in the sweets like most girls would? And she used the entire night to think about it? Azuki wants Maccha to join her in doing 5-75 and she agrees. When they go home, it’s raining. Since Azuki forgot her umbrella, they tussle for the little space. Till the lorry splashes the puddle all over them. At least it gives them an excuse to take a hot bath. And Azuki to come up with a 5-7-5 poem.

Episode 2
Azuki wants Maccha to come along with her to the park since there will be crepes. However Maccha is reluctant and views the pond as gateway to hell. However Azuki convinces her that they will also be there to look for 5-7-5 ideas. As Azuki goes off to get the crepe, Maccha sits on the bench and notices a cat. She tries to follow it and prevent it from going to the ‘gateway of hell’. When Azuki returns (she remembers the crepe truck will only be here tomorrow – seriously, how did she screw that one up?), she sees Maccha falling into the pond. Trying to prevent the cat from falling in and she herself got done in? Don’t worry about the cat. It’s fine by itself. Because the sound of the kite scared Azuki, she too falls into it. Another excuse to soak in hot water and this time, Maccha is the one who accidentally comes up with a 5-7-5 line. She is not amused… As they leave, a bespectacled girl, Yuzu Yosano watches them from afar. With heavy breathing…

Episode 3
While Azuki is just being a pain in the ass to Maccha, Yuzu drops by to show them a note she wrote in 5-7-5 format. Because they always seem to have fun together, she thought about joining them. Why not? The more the merrier. As they talk, when Azuki asks for Maccha’s permission to stay at her place tonight, suddenly Yuzu goes into her fantasy mode. Yuri delusions of the duo. Yeah. She really loves it. When she is snapped out of it, she wonders if it is the time to go take a bath. For the hell of it, the trio get into the bath together despite not understanding what all this is about. Again, Yuzu’s yuri fantasies activate upon hearing that they should wash each other’s back. I’m amazed that after all that fantasizing, she hasn’t even had any nose bleed. After that, Yuzu thanks them for hanging out with her. But then she asks if they are going to help each other change. WTF.

Episode 4
Yuzu records the duo dancing and reciting to their 5-7-5 lines. She wants to upload it on the web. Not to mention their yuri interactions… Later the girls discuss dance steps as inspiration. Then Yuzu lets them hear a song her friend wrote after she saw that video. It matches perfectly. Azuki is so happy that she gets yuri with Yuzu. Now it’s her turn to get yuri raped. Maccha is too engrossed listening to the song instead of saving her. I guess she’s the kind who loves to watch others and not do it herself. The duo then record a video complete with that song. Yuzu can upload it right away but Maccha seems embarrassed. Because the sound of the kite once again gives Azuki the creeps, she accidentally throws the laptop in the air. Although Maccha catches it, she realized she just pressed the “Enter” key. While waiting for the bus, Azuki wonders what they should film next. Yuzu suggests in the bathhouse. The duo don’t think so. Hey. Where’s my bating fanservice scene?

Say What Again?
As said, as someone who isn’t familiar with the traditional Japanese poems, I don’t think this anime will retain my interest even in the event if this show really did become a proper full-fledge anime in the future. This anime serves as a teaser to the game but from the way I see it, the characters do not say those 5-7-5 lines often enough despite the 3 minute limit. Just once per episode. How is that going to get new players to play the game? I mean, this is what this anime is also for, right? To get new people to learn about tanka and haiku. Veterans who have been enjoying those beautiful poems do not need to be lured in by such gimmick. And worse of all, the episodes are so short that you can hardly wonder if there is any storyline. None. Heck, might as well put in some random characters saying random 5-7-5 lines and you can call it an episode. Therefore, lots of us might be thinking what the heck are these girls in this show for anyway?

The opening theme Kotoba Colorful by Utayome 575 could have been the saving grace although it sounds like your typical anime pop. It might not be the best ever or one that would stick in my head for days, but I thought it sounded rather okay. The only gripe is that it somewhat ends ‘abruptly’. It’s like the producers found out that it had only 30 seconds for the opening gig and all of a sudden while you’re enjoying the song, come the 30th second, the song ‘suddenly ends’. Oddly too, I thought the song would be in 5-7-5 syllables but I guess the lyrics and the notes just don’t seem to fit. Unless I’m separating the sentences wrongly… Yeah, how is that for starters to get us to like tanka and haiku if the opening song isn’t even in such a way to amuse us.

If the so called cheap fanservice of bathhouse shots and delusional yuri fantasies were supposed to be some sort of motivation for us to try the game, I think it won’t work. If the game itself has fanservice like this and therefore the fanservice in this anime serves as what you should expect in the game itself, then I think it defeats the purpose of having a game like this. Indeed it feels something when you need to resort to fanservice just to draw the crowd. Hopefully it won’t be like that. Because either way I’m not going to buy the game and play.

After watching this show, I’ve come up one 5-7-5 poem just to simply express what I think of this anime in a nutshell:

What the hell is this,
I don’t understand a thing,
Ah crap, forget it.

Now excuse me while I head to the toilet to take a dump.

Uchouten Kazoku

April 6, 2014

I’m not really familiar with the tanuki, which is a subspecies of the raccoon dog that is native to Japan. I’ve heard about the legends and myths about it but in the end I’m just not really familiar with them. Heck, I’m not even an animal lover. Uchouten Kazoku isn’t some sort of anime documentary about tanukis. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be really watching this in the first place. It’s about a group of tanuki family adapting in modern society among us humans. Oh, did I mention tanuki in Japanese folklore can transform into anything they want? It’s not so much how the tanuki family deals with human society in this anime, but rather dealing with their great father’s death and the truth behind that led to his demise. There is also the precarious balance that needs to be maintained among other tanuki clans as well as not ending up being boiled in a hot pot. Do people eat tanukis?

Episode 1
As narrated, humans, tanukis and tengus have kept the delicate balance of the world. Or at least in this city that this story takes place. Yasaburou Shimogamo is a tanuki and likes imitating humans because he finds them interesting. Now he is imitating as a high school girl. Yes. High school girl. Hope he doesn’t develop some sort of fetish. Along with his youngest brother, Yashirou, they walk through the shopping arcade and accidentally bump into the oldest brother, Yaichirou. He is not happy about Yasaburou’s transformation and gives chase. He lectures him to be on his best behaviour and to be good at least after the Nise-emon election. Yasaburou makes way to the little apartment of Professor Akadama or his real name Yakushibou Nyoigatake. He is an old tengu and a grumpy one. All he can think about is his ex-flame, a human named Benten. Flashback shows how Yasaburou first met Benten when he delivered liquors to Yakushibou. The tengu dude thought Benten how to fly and she does it with ease. Now I guess Benten has ‘dumped’ him and hanging out with her group called Friday Fellows. What is an old drunk tengu got to do but to grumble and be ‘concerned’ she is mixing with ‘bad company’. Thinking Yasaburou has nothing better to do, he orders her to find Benten and bring her back here. Oh, and deliver this letter to her too. Yasaburou sees Benten drinking with her Friday Fellows. He ties the letter to an arrow and fires it, missing her by inches. Her group is alerted but Benten knows what’s going on.

Yasaburou heads to a pub when Benten makes her entry. Notice all the other patrons (and even the bar master) flee? Who is this woman? Sitting down next to him and chatting with him, she wonders if he is picking a fight. Because the arrow ruined her favourite fan and her groupie is in uproar. She read Yakushibou’s ‘love letter’ and knows he is getting all worked up again. She hasn’t been back there for a long time so Yasaburou thinks she should once in a while. She reiterates that if he is still looking for a fight, she can find one for him. Then she’ll catch and turn him into a stew for their year-end bash, a Friday Fellow’s custom. Yes. They boil and eat tanuki. Going back to the topic of Yakushibou, despite the tengu being selfish, Yasaburou can’t let him be. Something about the Demon King Cedar incident. Something about both of them being responsible for Yakushibou not being able to fly anymore. Benten points out he was the one who transformed into a cedar and then made the old dude fell and hurt his back. But wasn’t it Benten’s plan? Benten says he doesn’t understand the professor’s feelings. He lets her know where Yakushibou is but she grabs his collar and says he won’t be sure if she is going to meet him or not. Then she gives him a hot kiss!!! Later Yasaburou sees Yakushibou climbing up to a roof to see Benten. But the woman leaves him stranded and flies away. Yasaburou then calls a taxi to bring him home and put him to bed. Benten is seen watching him snore away.

Episode 2
Actually this ‘Benten’ is Yasaburou in disguise. Better get out before this dirty old tengu starts harassing your butt in his sleep. In a pool bar, Yasaburou accompanies his Mother (who loves acting and dressing up like a prince). She learns about his meeting with Benten last night and cautions him that tanukis have been boiled in hot pots since ancient times. Yasaburou also wants Mother to go see one of her sons she hasn’t seen in a long time but she thought he wouldn’t like it. Yasaburou heads over to a well where this other brother of his, Yajirou. He is now a frog and turned into one long ago that he forgotten how to turn back! So now he is listening to people who come visiting right at the bottom of the well. He laments that 3 out of the 4 sons of the great Souichirou couldn’t follow in his footsteps. Yaichirou is trying to do his best while the other brothers are just a frog, an idiot and a kid. He tells Yasaburou to hurry back because a great storm is coming. As he rushes his way home, he sees Yashirou being bullied by the dumb and retarded twins of Ebisugawa tanuki family, Kinkaku and Ginkaku (earlier on, they purposely cause and pin the blame on a work accident on him). The twins continue to mock the Shimogamo family and that the young brothers are all useless (they should look at themselves in the mirror) but Yasaburou and Yajirou stand firm. Before they can do anything, Souichirou arrives on scene and bites their butt! Good riddance. He then tells his brothers to hurry to their mom and summons a carriage. She has a fear of lightning and storm. When they return to the pool bar, Mother is not around. Yaichirou becomes a great panicky if their mom is not to be found. All they can do now is search for her and luckily they find her taking refuge under a bridge. It’s all thanks to Kaisei Ebisugawa who saved her before she fell into the river. Yasaburou thanks her but she doesn’t sound appreciative. Mother mentions she is different from the other Ebisugawa tanukis. Except her, the rest can go to hell! Mother is happy to have her sons around. Even if Souichirou isn’t here, she has them. Souichirou was a great tanuki of the Kyoto area but regrettably he passed away a few years ago. The sons cried for a long time when they learnt about their father’s death so Mother tells them to grow up splendidly like him and don’t end up getting boiled in a hot pot. Despite Yasaburou mentioning 3 of them are useless, Mother doesn’t care what they are. She knows they are all great.

Episode 3
It’s almost time for the Gozan Festival. It has become the tanukis’ tradition to match the mood of the merry-making humans to throw a party in the sky by launching a leisure cruiser. Because Yaichirou messed up, he has to seek Yasaburou’s help to arrange for one. But he isn’t happy in wanting to do it despite his big brother begging so Mother had to rough him up about his attitude. Yasaburou talks to Yajirou about what happened. Among the talk that Kaisei was supposed to be Yasaburou’s fiancée in an arranged marriage but the engagement broke off when Souichirou died (Mother was upset and telling the Ebisugawa patriarch, Souun to go to hell). I guess it was a blessing in disguise because he didn’t want the dumb twins to be his brother-in-laws. Yasaburou and Yashirou head to Yakushibou to ask and borrow his inner parlour for their leisure cruiser. Talking with Yakushibou is fellow tengu, Iwayasan Konkobu. They talk about matters regarding their tengu clan especially the Kurama side. As for Yakushibou’s inner parlour, he remembers he has given it to Benten. That woman again? Why does he have to give everything to her? Even that favourite fan of hers was once belonged to him. So why? Because he wants to see her smiling face! I’m sure he got it. Later Yasaburou and Iwayasan talk about the grumpy old man. Yasaburou feels a tinge of guilt when he mentions about that incident that made him unable to fly. He feels Benten has got a hand in it and is close to the Kurama clan. He also remembers the great Souichirou. How he transformed into a mountain and tricked the tengus.

Yasaburou and Yashirou go to see Benten. They find her in her own water castle. Yashirou starts feeling scared and turns back into his tanuki form. Yasaburou requests to borrow the inner parlour and she comments that Kinkaku and Ginkaku were oddly here yesterday. They bribed her with stuffs so that she would not poke her nose around in a quarrel between the tanuki families. She wanted them so she just took them. But if she gives them the inner parlour, what would she get? Asking what she is doing here, Benten says she felt like pulling a whale’s tail and waited all morning. None surfaced. One of Benten’s servant rows up and delivers the repaired fan. With a swing, she turns the clear blue skies into a stormy one. Since she is in a good mood (and that he is the one asking), she decides to lend him the inner parlour. But she is worried he might ruin it and places his head as collateral. Yeah. If it does become ruined, she will have him boiled and eaten up with her Friday Fellows. Yeah. She probably likes him so much that she wants to eat him. Literally. She spots a whale and strips down to dive in so she can pull its tail. Benten later shows them how to start up the inner parlour by pouring a bottle of liquor in the tea kettle. Yasaburou narrates that even after his father’s death, Mother and the kids continued this tradition by launching a leisure cruiser on the night of the festival. They don’t really celebrate it for their ancestors. Sometimes they remember their dad but mostly they throw a crazy party. Because they are tanukis and that is what they do. It’s what he calls a manifestation of their idiotic blood.

Episode 4
The family gets prepared for the festival. They’re waiting for Yakushibou to arrive since Yasaburou did invite him but he didn’t give a clear answer if he wants to come or not but he knows he will show up. And true enough, the old bugger shows up but it seems he is lingering around like as though he is hoping to be ushered in. Yasaburou brings him in but the grumpy old guy isn’t happy that despite they have lots of liquor, they’re feeding it to the tea kettle. Such a waste. His question of asking where Benten is, is ignored or distracted by something else. When they are in the air, they see their rival Ebisugawa too. Wow. A big mother ship. Yaichirou wants Yasaburou to hold in his anger. Not at least after the Nise-emon election. Besides, relatives shouldn’t quarrel among themselves. But they started it, right? Iwayasan joins them and he talks about Souichirou’s greatness. Seems there was a fight between the Nyoigatake and Kurama tengu clan. After both sides end up fighting and made a mess of the mountain, they got a good scolding from Tarobo Atagoyama. Yakushibou went to pick an unnecessary fight despite the Kurama side being the root of the trouble. They took turns causing havoc on Mt Nyoigatake. Yakushibou chased them out but they always came back. Souichirou couldn’t stand seeing him suffer like that so he turned into a mountain for a week to fool those tengus, teach them a good lesson till they prostrate themselves before Yakushibou and apologized. That is how the name False Nyoigatake Incident came about. Yakushibou is riled up when she sees Benten drinking with Souun on the other ship. WTF is she doing on the other side?!

The Ebisugawa side starts shooting fireworks recklessly. Rather, they’re trying to shoot them down! Mother and Yasaburou can’t hold it any longer and takes out their big mother cannon. All pleas from Yaichirou fall onto deaf ears. There is no more such thing as tolerance! They can go to hell! They fire the cannon right in the centre. Benten watches from the top of the mast. Ebisugawa then fires a harpoon to rein their leisure cruiser in. Once they are close enough, they will fire and blow the hell out of them. While searching for something to fight back, Yasaburou sees Benten’s fan. In a swing, Ebisugawa’s ship rips apart like as though it faced the wrath of the storm! Both its masts are torn apart (Benten clearly foreseeing this and flies away). Ship going down! CRASH! In the mountains of course. But our Shimogamo side isn’t going to have the last laugh yet. Because the tea kettle has run out of field and they’re falling too! Oh, they are out of liquor as well. Does anybody have any last drop yet? Well… Yakushibou must be drunk and after feeling too much envy that the tea kettle has hogged too much of such precious liquor, he downs the last bottle like nobody’s business. There goes their only hope. CRASH! In the park of course. Thankfully everybody is fine. But not the leisure cruiser. It’s wrecked to bits. Oh no. This doesn’t look good. And with the fan also missing, Yasaburou can only envision himself in a hot pot and as Benten’s next happy meal. What is his next course of action? Run away!!! Wow. I didn’t know he could run away that fast. And that’s how he earned the nickname as The Fugitive.

Episode 5
As reminded, Friday Fellows are feared by tanukis because they eat them for their year-end bash. Yasaburou’s father was a victim and it’s a reminder why humans are top of the food chain. Amazingly Yasaburou is still alive. Sure, he’s on the run. He almost bumps into Benten and her men in the streets. What a close shave. He goes to see Mother who tells him Yaichirou tried to talk to Yakushibou to help out but to no avail. Mother notes that not all humans are bad because she was saved by one. Later Yasaburou visits some shop to talk to Kaisei (hiding in the cabinet?). She mentions she likes Yajirou and the frog is doing fine doing his ‘consulting’ business. Even Benten sometimes drop by. That woman has problems? Yasaburou wants her to give some tobacco to Yakushibou to shut him up but she refuses. Then they talk about the possibility of being eaten. Speaking of it, here comes Benten into the shop! Can’t run because her bodyguards are outside. It’s like Benten knows where he is. She sits around and as she lights up a cigar, she notices 2 very identical teikinbo. Even the damage is in the same place. Finally the ‘fake’ one coughs. Busted. How does she know he is here? Thanks to the tip off from Ginkaku and Kinkaku. They didn’t like how their sister has been going out alone sometimes and believed she has been sweet talked by some nasty male tanuki. So where are they going now? To Friday Fellows. Surely he hasn’t forgotten the promise, right? If they don’t like his performance, they’ll just eat him. Bluntly said.

In a private room, while waiting for the rest to arrive, Benten mentions how she ate his father many years ago. It was when she just joined Friday Fellows and her first tanuki meat tasted delicious. When the other members stream in, Benten introduces Yasaburou to Hotei, Ebisu, Bishamon and Daikoku. Jurojin and Fukurokuju have things to attend and will be absent. After Yasaburou gets into some meat battle with the old guys, it’s time for his performance. He transforms into different things and he amuses the guys when he transforms into Benten. Impressed? He is even going to let them see a little slip when Benten warns any further and she’ll eat him herself. So the verdict? He is interesting and have talent so they can’t possible eat him. Safe? As they discuss about the year-end bash and the tradition of eating tanuki, it seems it is Hotei’s turn to get a tanuki. Hotei explains his love for the little creature as he narrates how he met one a long time ago. It was injured and he brought it home to nurse it and treat it well. Guess who that tanuki is? Hint: One that is scared of lightning and thunder. When he released it back to the wild, it was like the tanuki was reluctant to leave and threw back glances at him. That’s when his love affair with tanuki began. But the rest feel it is ironic he loves tanuki but still eats them. Hotei doesn’t think it is a contradiction. Yeah. He thinks it is some sort of love. He likes them so much that he will eat them. So while the guys end up in a debate over this, Benten feels board and takes Yasaburou to walk on the roof. So bored she wants Yasaburou to get the moon for her. That’s impossible, right? Sitting down by a side bar and having their drink, Benten makes it clear that at some point she will eat him. Can she not want to eat him? Isn’t it why she feels disappointed and sad for the night? She’s having this dilemma about what she said she likes him enough to eat him. But if she does, the thing she likes will be gone. She continues to talk and Yasaburou heard her murmurs of how sad things are.

Episode 6
As narrated, Benten is purely human and had a real name: Satomi Suzuki. While walking on the shores of Lake Biwako, Yakushibou saw her and took her away. He educated her the ways of the tengu in his care and once she reached the top, she betrayed him with a superb kick. The current Benten is not who she used to be. Hotei has caught up with them as they hop from building to building to reach a rooftop park. That old guy is quite nimble for his age. Hotei starts talking about the first time he met Benten, which was love at first sight. Something that Benten would love him to forget. It was when Benten first joined Friday Fellows and slept peacefully next to a caged tanuki. She talked to the magnificent looking tanuki and despite feeling bad for it, she is going to eat him up. It’s ironic that Hotei remembers it but Benten doesn’t. Old age has nothing to do with memory loss, no? But old age it is for Hotei because he falls asleep in the middle of the talk! Benten then leaves for home, leaving the guys together. Hotei wakes up and talks to Yasaburou about the eccentric beauty that Benten is and has this habit to disappear halfway through the party without warning. Hotei also mentions about his passion for eating. He has travelled the world and ate lots of things for research. His philosophy is that if he has to eat everything, it should be delicious. It made him realize humans have passion for eating because they eat so many things. Therefore eating = love. It’s also ironic that he loves tanuki so much that he wants to eat them. Though this applies to every other thing. He also thought that humans have no natural enemies and when they die, they get eaten by microbes. It makes him feel lonely and would rather be eaten by a tanuki than rot away in a hospital bed.

Hotei expands his story when he first met Benten. When he found her sleeping, he talked to that magnificent caged tanuki who is actually Souichirou. He is surprised that Souichirou talked. The tanuki is calm despite knowing he is going to be dinner because he has done everything he wanted and has fulfilled his role as a tanuki. Therefore he has no qualms to be eaten. Hotei is sure a magnificent tanuki like him would make a great dish. When he learns of Hotei’s real name, Choutarou Yodogawa, he realizes he was the one who saved his wife. By that time Benten woke up and it felt like a dream to Hotei. Was he really talking to the tanuki? Hotei then drinks a toast with Yasaburou and mention about that idiot blood manifestation thingy. After they part ways, Yasaburou crashes in at Yajirou’s place for the night. Is he going to be a frog too? He talks to his brother about his conversation with Hotei. He feels confused. Hotei is the person who saved their mom and ate their dad. He should hate him but for some reason think of him affectionately. Why can’t he hate him? Why does he have a crush on Benten? Simple. Because it’s the manifestation of their idiot blood. Besides, they’re tanukis too. Yasaburou admires his brother’s enlightenment but he mentions he too has lots to learn about the world. Then Benten comes visit the well. Every time, she doesn’t say anything but sits down there and cry alone. The well’s water is going to be salty… Yasaburou ponders what is it that is making her sad, unaware that at the same time Yaichirou and Souun have begun their battle for the next Nise-emon.

Episode 7
Yashirou seeks Yasaburou’s comfort when he fails to take care of that grumpy old Yakushibou. So big brother goes to see him and talk and then invites him to go to the public bath with them. Of course he won’t. Not with furballs. But if it’s Benten, he would gladly to. Yasaburou would gladly transform into her and this leads to an argument. Before you know it, it ends and he agrees to come with them. With Yaichirou, the old guy is just being stubborn. Needs to be guarded so he won’t stray into the women’s section, forced to take off his clothes and be dragged into the bath. Yeah. He pretty much prefers Benten scrubbing his back and is suspicious about Yasaburou spending time with her and Friday Fellows. He dismisses it is any forbidden love or such. Just then, a huge group of sumo clones walk in. Yaichirou recognizes them as Ebisugawa’s Elite Guards. He knows they are here to threaten him and stand out of the Nise-emon race. He laments his brothers didn’t do anything to help him. I mean, Yasaburou was away for his life, right? Then here comes the dumb twins. Because Yaichirou won’t back down, they mention all the tanuki family they have as their allies. Yaichirou too names his. More than them in fact. They mention they have an ‘ace in the hole’ whom will turn things to their favour but will not name him. This angers Yaichirou as he transforms into a tiger. They don’t fear their butts getting bitten because they are wearing iron pants. They can’t take it off either. Besides, they need to go to the toilet… Yaichirou growls and turns them into their tanuki form. There. It came off. All the Elite Guards run away in fear. Some guards they are.

Yaichirou then threatens Kinkaku to tell who their ace is or he will throw him into the cold water and put on a lid. That was enough for him to spill the beans. Kinkaku brings up the topic of Souichirou’s death. How is it that a respectful tanuki leader got caught so easily? He warns them revealing this will cause a great shock for Shimogamo family that they can’t recover. Bring it. On that night, Souichirou was out drinking with somebody. That somebody is Yajirou! Yaichirou gets mad and slams Kinkaku into the cold water! With Yasaburou, they quickly head to the well and order Yashirou to go back to their Mother. At the well, Yaichirou mentions he has a clear memory of when he last saw Souichirou. He was with him and went out together to visit elders. After that, Souichirou told him to go home first and he didn’t suspect anything since father was always busy. He remembers that goodbye face Souichirou put on because it was the last time he saw him. The question is, where and when did Yajirou last see Souichirou? Did they get drunk and he left drunk father all by himself? Please say this wasn’t so. Yajirou admits he is the one who sent Souichirou to his death and Yaichirou breaks down screaming in despair. Yasaburou thinks back where he was at that time. He was strolling in the forest and he saw his father and Yaichirou wave goodbye to him. So when they found out he was boiled in hot pot, they had a hard time grasping it was truly a farewell. It’s not different whether you are human, tanuki or tengu. As long as you are alive, there is no way to escape saying goodbye.

Episode 8
This is Yajirou’s account of his last meeting with Souichirou. As explained, he knows he is the useless of the bunch. He loves lazing around doing nothing. But when it comes to drinking, he comes alive. That final night he wanted a special consultation with father to talk about his impossible love. You see, Yajirou was in love with Kaisei but she was betrothed to Yasaburou. Because Souichirou and Souun hated each other, he was against it. Even so, the one thing that he feared was his sons hating each other and scattered. But he will see what he can do and to forget their worries, they drank a ton. At the end of the drinking session, Yajirou transformed into a train and let father ride on it. It zoomed through the streets enough to give people the fright. That was the last time Yajirou saw his father. When he wakes up back at home, he notices the family waiting for Souichirou to return as he has not. He still hasn’t when morning comes. And then a tanuki comes running in to bring the bad news that he has been eaten by Friday Fellows. Yajirou fell into despair not because of the fact father died but the one who sent him to his death. He felt guilty for leaving him all by himself while in his drunken state. Life suddenly becomes a pain for Yajirou. He realizes he is an absolute failure as a tanuki but couldn’t tell everyone because they were grieving. As he can’t act like as though nothing happened, he decided to lock everything up inside this well and become a frog. He has abandoned being a tanuki and can’t show his face to Mother. The brothers leave after hearing his story but remember they forgot to pick up Yakushibou. Yasaburou will do it and wants Yaichirou to head home. Yakushibou notices Yasaburou’s gloomy behaviour. When he explains about the story, Yakushibou says Yajirou wasn’t the last person to see Souichirou. It was him. Well, at least Souichirou’s spirit after he got eaten. They had their final conversation before the tanuki pass on to the next world. When Yasaburou returns home, he tells Mother what happened but she knows it. She also knows about Yajirou’s love for Kaisei. She is after all his mother. Because she understands her sons, she hopes Yaichirou won’t be too hard on him and understand how he feels. Of course he does. But it is that same reason why it hurts. Yasaburou narrates how Souichirou split his blood among his 4 sons. Yaichirou inherited his responsibility, Yajirou his easy going personality, Yashirou his innocence and Yasaburou only his idiocy. What held the brothers together was their love for Mother and their father’s departure. That big major departure was enough to connect the ones left behind.

Episode 9
As narrated, the Ebisugawa clan once came from Shimogamo family. But along the way things got sour and it turned into a long standing antagonism. To ease that feud, Souun was married into that family. However he hated the Shimogamo family and added fuel to the fire. Yasaburou can never understand why he is Kaisei’s fiancé but after Souichirou died, Souun cancelled the engagement and caused Mother to be furious because she was fond of Kaisei. Yasaburou visits Hotei and learns he isn’t doing well in getting a tanuki for Friday Fellows. He relays this good news back to Yaichirou and Mother but big brother doesn’t want to jump with joy so soon. Later when they go visit a shrine, the Ebisugawa side purposely blocks the Shimogamo family from entering, claiming they are some other fake family. The feud could have gotten worse had not some other tanuki shoot nuts at them and to respect the shrine. While waiting, Mother talks to her sons how Benten commanded some mysterious aura. Because Yakushibou always brought her around, it was enough to make Souichirou lose his composure and transformed back into a tanuki. A reason why he rarely hangs out with the tengu despite they were good friends. The ceremony begins with Souun and Yaichirou touching some Centre Stone (I think it’s some tanuki who transformed himself into one all day). The next ritual to elect the next tanuki chief will take place in a few weeks. As usual, a Kurama clan tengu will be invited to grace the event. However that tengu called in sick and suggested Yakushibou for the job. Of course this soon becomes a problem as he doesn’t want to go. Mother tells Yasaburou to help go convince Yakushibou but he is more convinced in warming his butt! Anyway he has too. His house is swarmed with worried tanukis. I don’t know why a tengu’s presence is so important in the Nise-emon. So Yasaburou makes his way in, listens to his complaints that he thinks tanukis do not respect him. Yasaburou becomes a smooth talker that it isn’t because he requires respect or feels good when he is respect. It’s because he is a tengu and thus unquestionably great. I suppose he has made him feel good enough to change his mind and go. Yasaburou goes to the public bath and finds Kaisei is also next door doing the same. We finally get to see how she looks like. They talk about the Nise-emon and she feels Yaichirou is not up to it. Yasaburou defends his big brother when she puts him on calibre with her dumb twins. Despite the twins are her brothers, she also defends them when Yasaburou badmouths them. She also warns him her brothers are up to no good but she can’t tell what it is since they’re making sure she won’t find out. Just be careful. When Kaisei apologizes, Yasaburou feels something wrong. There were humility and ominous in her apology. It felt it was more than just a simple apology.

Episode 10
Yasaburou talks to Yaichirou about Kaisei’s weird words and feels Ebisugawa may do something. Yaichirou isn’t fazed and if they try to do something funny, he’ll just bite their butts and throw them in the cold river. Yaichirou goes off the meet the elders and his supporters as show that he is serious in wanting to be the next Nise-emon. The tanuki society may not care about this anymore and he’s probably doing this because he is idolizing his father and fulfilling his dream of becoming like him. Yashirou is forced to work in a warehouse by the twins. It’s a trap to lock him in. Then they discuss their plan to nab the rest of the Shimogamo family. Yasaburou visits Yajirou. They talk about the looming Nise-emon election which will also be decided tonight. It is also the night of the dreaded Friday Fellows’ year-end bash. Yajirou doesn’t care who becomes the next Nise-emon as long as things calm down in the tanuki society. Although Souichirou has died many years, Yajirou can’t help think of his last words. He couldn’t remember them and might spend the rest of his life not knowing them. They also talk about Kaisei. She has been visiting the well less often. Speaking about her strange talk, Yajirou notices her humility in talking to him. It’s like there was something on her mind. When she found out Yajirou couldn’t turn back into a tanuki, she sat there and cried for a long time. Suddenly an unusual storm picks up. Yasaburou thinks somebody has found Benten’s fan and used it. Better hurry back to Mother. While Yaichirou is on his way, a tanuki runs across him. The collision throws him off. Before he knows it, he is captured.

Yasaburou returns to his place but Mother is not around. Kaisei is there. She mentions nobody will come because Ebisugawa has made their move. The Elite Guards just carried off Mother and captured Yaichirou and Yashirou is probably locked up at the factory. The twins were the ones who summoned the storm. Yaichirou is going to be boiled in a hot pot as part of Souun’s plan. She mentions that it was her dad who was responsible for turning Souichirou into a hot pot for Friday Fellows. That night, Souun saw Souichirou happily riding the train. Then he invited him for a drink with purpose of reconciliation. Of course it brought back some memories how the brothers fell in love with the same woman but Souichirou beat him to it and married her. Shortly, Souun entered Ebisugawa and that’s when their relationship deteriorated. He also lost the Nise-emon election then. Souun is serious about this reconciliation thingy and has even brought a witness. He really wants to get this done once and for all. That witness is Benten. Souichirou couldn’t contain his transformation. He quickly understood the situation. She mentions a spot in Friday Fellows had opened up and she needed to bring ingredients for the hot pot. Souichirou accepts his fate and gets locked in a cage. Kaisei apologizes for everything but is quickly taken away by the Elite Guards. Yasaburou is surrounded by them and Souun. He tells Yasaburou not to mind what Kaisei said since she is half asleep and loses track of dream and reality. After all, he raised her very delicately. Souun plans to invite the Shimogamo family to his banquet and Yasaburou must come whether he likes it or not. Everybody else is already there.

Episode 11
Benten floats down in between them. She has been waiting for Yasaburou so he could be her umbrella. Well, we all know Yasaburou’s ass is being saved by her but Souun mentions about the reconciliation party they’re going to have. Yeah. So what? Benten doesn’t care because it doesn’t concern her. Somewhere far away, Yasaburou notes Benten is quite the powerful woman she is and could get anything she wants. However she refutes as she hasn’t got what she wanted. He feels mad that Benten never told him that she knew about their father becoming hot pot for Friday Fellows. Why didn’t she say? Because he didn’t ask. That’s being human for you. Yasaburou is worried for his brother especially Yaichirou who will end up being boiled. He hopes she can help save him. She won’t. Because she’s human. But she tells him the place they are having their year-end bash and how Hotei is meeting someone who claimed he has got a tanuki for him. The rest is up to him to figure out. And yeah, because she is human, she couldn’t care less about the tanuki that is going to be eaten. She’ll just eat him. After Benten leaves, Yasaburou sees Hotei across the street. He transforms into an old man and follows him into an eatery. However it is a trap by the twins. Yasaburou eats the egg bowl with sleepy drugs and he gets captured. Meanwhile Yaichirou is put in a cage and in a storeroom with Mother. She blames herself because of the storm, he rushed to her and got captured.

Souun then brings Jurojin to see the tanuki he will be having for his bash. He needs enough to feed 10 people as Benten will also be there. At first Jurojin is pleased to know there will be 2 tanukis but Souun insists Mother is not for the pot and is fond of this one. Souun then prepares to hand Yaichirou to Hotei. Mother is disheartened that he has changed so much. He is doing something so evil that only humans or tengus would do. She begs to stop bullying her children but he says he has nothing to do with the Shimogamo family. The twins put Yasaburou in a cage and are going to teach him a lesson. And by that do they mean brag about how they have been planning this 1 year ago?! They also boast how they had this hunch he will follow Hotei so Kinkaku transformed into him and Yasaburou bit the bait. He couldn’t even tell the difference. Kinkaku then calls Kaisei to update what has happened but got f*cked by her. Not amused, eh? Yashirou tries to find a way out but to no avail. Kaisei is being kept watch in her room but when she sees a siren accidentally lit by Yashirou, she sneaks out to go tell him about a secret door he can escape through that can only be unlocked from the inside. She tells him about his family’s whereabouts and is confident if they save Yasaburou, things will work out. However the guards find and surround them. Yashirou is afraid of going to save Yasaburou alone. He wants Kaisei to come along so she could tell off her brothers. However if she does, the guards will follow her so Yashirou must do this by himself. She tosses him over the fence as he scurries as fast as his feet can carry him.

Episode 12
Yashirou runs to Yajirou for help. What can a frog do? He wants him to drink this brandy. Instantly Yajirou powers up. Yeah. I think he works better when he is drunk. The twins are boasting as usual when suddenly a black hole opens up and swallows everything. When they wake up, they find themselves on a train. Yajirou has turned himself into a train and running down the night streets. Gosh. I thought it was rather reckless but they’re out of time. Thank goodness no casualties or serious injuries. Yashirou lets Yasaburou out of the cage and he is going to teach the twins a lesson. Payback time. They are put in the cage. Yasaburou realizes they have the fan but they say they found it by accident. Yajirou is expressing how much fun he is having and can’t stop. Yasaburou encourages him not to because fun is good. Then Yajirou comes to a screeching halt. He remembers that was Souichirou’s last words. They continue their journey through the shopping arcade but realize they’re going around in circles. It hit them this is a fake street. Seems the twins had stole Yashirou’s handphone and called the Elite Guards and had them go ahead of them. At the end of the line is the cold river. The twins don’t care if they too freeze their butt since they share the same fate with the enemy. It’s not over yet. Not for Yashirou. There is a tea pot at the bottom of the train and he fills it up with liquor to make it fly. Now they don’t have to get wet. Yasaburou is going to drop the twins into the river but they plead for mercy and they will die this time. However he throws them a choice. The cold river or the hot pot. Instantly they let go and drop down. Wow. That was fast. Up ahead is Friday Fellows getting ready for their year-end bash. Yasaburou wants Yajirou to line up so he can swing the fan to propel them close to the building. But with just a weak swing, the train crashes into the building! Too much power? During the confusion, Yasaburou tells Yashirou to head to runs straight to Sensuiro and disrupt the elders’ discussion as long as he can and return the fan to Yakushibou.

When Yasaburou frees Yaichirou, the latter feels pathetic for being a tanuki failure. He felt he should have been better to get eaten. Yasaburou tells him to truth of their father’s death. He wants big brother to crush Ebisugawa as revenge for their father and head to Sensuiro. Yasaburou will save Mother. However Yasaburou’s leg has been lassoed by Jurojin. He is suspicious of this kid but Benten whispers something into his ear and he lets this passer-by go. Hotei is devastated the tanuki he worked hard to get is gone. Jurojin tells him not to fret and calm down. It just makes you feel older. He tells his Friday Fellows that he saw another tanuki his acquaintance was keeping. Maybe they can use that for their year-end bash. Because he predicted something like this would happen, Jurojin has also booked another place just in case. That place is Sensuiro. Yasaburou wants to come along. He bluffs he has always wanted to eat a tanuki but has never seen a real one before and would like to meet it while it’s alive. Since Benten doesn’t see any problem with it, Jurojin allows him to come. But he needs to carry the brandy over. Meanwhile Souun is trying to convince the elders that Yaichirou has run away. Yashirou is outside and despite he is having a hard time to even swing the fan, it was enough to cause a whirlwind in the room! Suddenly Yakushibou barges in and is mad. And drunk. He feels he has been ignored despite being invited. The rest think he is the one who caused the wind. Yaichirou praises Yashirou for his good work and he’ll take it from here. Yaichirou apologizes for his tardiness and mentions of Souun’s wicked plan, which of course he denies and wants proof of this false accusation. They can’t get too loud because Friday Fellows has moved in next door.

Episode 13
Mother is brought into the room and Hotei has this feeling he has seen her somewhere. Souichirou continues to accuse Souun over his underhanded tactics and the real culprit for letting Souichirou get boiled. Of course he continues to deny, saying Yaichirou is so desperate that he cooks up a story by dragging his father in. Souun even tries to pin the blame on Yajirou because he was the one who made Souichirou drunk. Yaichirou couldn’t care less anymore and transforms into a tiger. The commotion boils over into the next room. Some of the elders who see Benten couldn’t maintain their form. Souun is devastated to see Jurojin having his beloved tanuki and threatens this and that (I guess all the truth just came out straight from his mouth). Hotei snatches Mother and remembers she is the one he nursed. He won’t let them have it and screw tradition. If he is to be kicked out of Friday Fellows, so be it. The rest aren’t convinced since Hotei too ate lots of tanukis and his philosophy of eating. I guess sometimes philosophies can be wrong. I’m not sure why it took so long for the rest of the other elders to realize this is Friday Fellows. They lose their form and Jurojin is pleased to see all the tanukis. They can boil as many as they want! Panic! Furballs too short trying to reach the doorknob… No escape… Yakushibou has had it of waiting. He’s very much drunk too. Yasaburou sees this opportunity to push Benten onto Hotei and show Yakushibou the ‘affair’ they are having. Now the old bugger is enraged. With the swing of the fan, the entire building is blown away!

Hotei runs for his life while Yakushibou like the cool villain tracking him down, blowing away cars and anything that stands in his way! Not even the brothers could stop him. That’s where Benten comes in. She’ll take it from here. She goes up to Yakushibou and talk. It’s been a long time so how about a lap pillow back at his place sound? Instantly he quells down and agrees to her suggestion of forgive and forget. Wow. Salute to the power of this woman. Yashirou calls Mother who has safely escaped to their usual bar. Her children have a chance to speak to her but when it is Yajirou’s turn, he was afraid to say a word. Then he breaks down and seeks for forgiveness. Next day when everyone visits the shrine for New Year’s Day, it seems the Nise-emon position will continue to be helmed by whoever the deputy was as acting Nise-emon. Yaichirou went on a rage so he can’t be elected. Same case with Souun as his bad deeds are revealed. They see Hotei there and although he is fine, he has been booted out from Friday Fellows. But he is fine with it. Yakushibou is also there and he is very calm. That’s because Benten is with him. Who else? He even has some advice or two for each of the brothers. Kinkaku and Ginkaku are also waiting in line at the shrine and could start another idiotic argument if not for Kaisei telling them off. Thankfully they listen to their dear sister. Yasaburou and Benten happen to be in the same line to pray at the shrine. Yasaburou thinks she shouldn’t be so greedy and narrow down her wishes. All she wants is the meet her destined one. So what does Yasaburou wish for? Thinking about it, he doesn’t have any particular wish. Looking back at all the events, everyone is alive and living the way they want and having fun. Therefore there is nothing else he would wish for. Maybe a little moderate glory for his family and friends.

Let The Good Times Roll…
Well… Okay… Fun in its own ways. Thankfully it was just a tanuki family problem overall and they didn’t delve into deeper mythical stuffs about tanukis and tengus. That would have been a major turn off for me since I know nuts about such Japanese folklore. Thank God there aren’t others like kitsune (fox) and the likes… So all is well, ends well? Seems to be like it for now. It just leaves me pondering on a few stuffs as it feels incomplete like what will happen to Souun. Now that everybody knows the truth about him, will they let him go so easily seeing he is the cause of the great Souichirou’s death. But as last heard from him, he was at the hotspring alone instead of paying his respects with the rest at the shrine. Does this mean they let him go or are they postponing their punishment (if they do have one) to a later date? Did Friday Fellows have their year-end tanuki hot pot bash? Or is this the first year that they have to break tradition? But the important part is that the Shimogamo family continues to stay together and that makes this series a happy ending. At least in my books. Though there are some unexplained, or should I say unexpanded events like how Yakushibou broke his back and couldn’t fly anymore thanks to Benten and Yasaburou, I think such trivial stuff shouldn’t impede me in trying to enjoy this show.

Nothing much I can say about the characters as they are as they are. Except maybe for beautiful Benten. She’s the most intriguing and mysterious one. You can’t tell which side she is on. Heck, she is not on anybody’s side but her own. That’s definite. It just makes you wonder who is this woman who commands so much influence over just about everything. At least old tanuki farts can’t maintain their form. Yet, she has her own problems which are somewhat unclear and unexplained (as mentioned by Yajirou when she sits by the well crying and saying nothing). She can get anything she wants but yet has gotten nothing. What is it that she wanted? To eat Yasaburou? Yikes. A normal life? Would things have turned out very differently had she not been kidnapped and taught the ways of the tengu? Perhaps. Because sometimes I feel that her actions of snubbing Yakushibou is like revenge to get back at him for those days. She’s a strong woman so she doesn’t show her emotions in public. Or maybe because of that incident of making Yakushibou unable to fly that she feels guilty and stayed away from him. She? Feel guilty? Nah. Now that she is seemingly back by his side, would it be for good? Who knows? After we have seen her work, there is no way she would do things that do not benefit her. There must be something in it for her. Or maybe I’m just being too suspicious and Benten really had a change of heart. Nah! All these while, we have seen Yakushibou as a grumpy, moody and drunk tengu with so much negativity and angst. And then when Benten returns to his side, suddenly he changes. It’s like he has turned into a different person. Because he looks so much more calm, wiser and mature! Serious! Is this the effect of what Benten has on him?

The Shimogamo brothers don’t really stray much from their personality and they obviously know it themselves. Like Yasaburou who openly acknowledges he is the idiot in the family. Otherwise he is just a normal guy, erm, tanuki who loves to imitate humans. There isn’t anything that special about him. With Yaichirou as the eldest and taking responsibility, I’m sure the family will get by. Yashirou is still hanging in there despite his naivety but he’ll manage. I wonder if Yajirou has decided to not continue to live the rest of his life in the well. He seems to be perching on his brother’s shoulder in the end. After making up with Mother, some weight of the guilt should be lifted from his shoulders although I don’t expect him to fully clear of his conscience. He still considers himself partly guilty over his father’s death. Mother loves all her sons dearly and equally despite knowing their flaws. It is only a mother’s love that has her accepting for who they are and forgives whatever mistakes they make. One thing I notice about Kaisei is her ability to just hide in the shadows. You notice you don’t get to see her face till very late in the series and the odd part is, Yasaburou has never seen her face directly. Even in the final scenes he was hoping she would show her face to him but she won’t because she is confident she will never find him. And she’ll disappear in just the blink of an eye faster than you can turn your head around. Basically she’s a good girl and doesn’t want trouble for both families.

I’m not sure if Souun still harbours deep hatred towards the Shimogamo side because there goes his chances of becoming Nise-emon. But they can’t be blamed entirely this time because it was Friday Fellows who unintentionally made him spill everything. But then again, had the commotion never occurred, it would have been Yaichirou in the pot. So yeah. Back at Shimogamo again. So hateful this uncle that he becomes a demon worse than humans or tengus to betray his own kind, his own brother. So much hate for a tanuki? This guy should have been a human. It could have stemmed when the guys fall in love with the same girl then. It was so long ago and still… Kinkaku and Ginkaku are a pair of twerps. They bring comic relief to the series despite their idiotic ways. They think they are hell of a smart or cool. But you have to give it to them that they have such confidence. Because of the way they have confidence in what they say and their idiotic voice tone, they are quite an amusing pair to watch and it’s hard to hate them because they’re so funny in an idiotic sense. Although, Ginkaku may be a little annoying because he keeps repeating Kinkaku’s ‘mighty’ words.

The one big question that boggles my mind is regarding about the humans who live in the area. I know as narrated that the 3 main sides somewhat keep a delicate balance but it makes me wonder if those ordinary humans know about the existence of tanuki? And what I mean from that is that do they know that tanukis can talk and transform into us and live among us? My guess is that they do because when Yasaburou was first invited to perform for Friday Fellows, Benten introduced him as a tanuki and they weren’t surprised or anything. Then there are times when such as Yajirou turning into a train and ran freely down the streets or Yakushibou blowing everything in his path and not caring others around him. Do other bystanders know about the existence of such creatures? And after those hurricane devastated effects of cars flying away and buildings being blown off, it’s like nobody gives a damn! They continue to just walk in the streets minding their own business. It’s like WTF. Do they really care about what is going on or give a hoot about the supernatural phenomenon that just occurred? Also, Benten flies freely around whenever she likes it and nobody goes into flabbergasted mode or start whipping out their handphones and take pictures. Because it’s like common knowledge that Benten can fly. Because our tanukis and tengu stay assimilated in human society, it is one reason why I think that humans do not know their existence in this sense as far as this anime is concerned. Otherwise I think they do but they just don’t give a damn.

Somehow I find the art style of the characters to be a little odd. Is it because of their ears? It looks a little bigger than it should. Perhaps this is their signature? Sometimes I thought the character looks very close to those in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei but it isn’t SHAFT that did this anime but P.A. Works who produced animes like True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha, Angel Beats, Tari Tari and Another. Those animes’ art aren’t as simple or as cartoonish as this one. Another thing about the art is that sometimes the background or the scenery looks more like water colour painting. If you don’t focus too much on it, you won’t notice. But I won’t say it is as bad as the one they did in Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen. However some buildings like the shrine and certain shops are given some detail. Speaking of buildings, the mid-intermission shows a map of certain shop’s locations. I have a feeling they are real and do exist. I was too lazy to check so I didn’t bother with it ;p.

I haven’t heard Mamiko Noto much recently (because the animes I am currently watching did not feature her) so it was a pleasant surprise to hear her as Benten. Of course with that kind of voice, she is suited to play the mysterious Benten. There is a commanding presence in her voice that compels you to comply with her instruction or just strike some sort of fear within you. Hiroyuki Yoshino as Yajirou I thought he sounds pretty mild because he sounds best when he voices loudmouth passionate characters like Bossun in Sket Dance. Him without all that yelling just lacks the oomph. Other casts include Takahiro Sakurai as Yasaburou (Yamato in Sukitte Iinayo), Junichi Suwabe as Yaichirou (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Mai Nakahara as Yashirou (Mai in Mai-HiME), Kikuko Inoue as Mother (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama), Ayane Sakura as Kaisei (Akane in Vividred Operation), Nobuo Tobita as Souun (Kamille in Mobile Suit Gundam series), Hideyuki Umezu as Yakushibou (Kannochi in MAR) and Bon Ishihara as Souichirou (Woodney in Black Cat). The opening theme, Uchouten Jinsei by Milktub is a rock piece although it starts off with a group of guys singing like as though they’re singing some football club anthem. At least that is how it sounds with all that hype. The ending theme is more toned down, Que Sera Sera by Fhana. Doesn’t sound that bad actually, this pop piece.

Well, even tanukis need to keep order and have their own hierarchical order. But as mentioned, do they even need one now in such peaceful times because tanukis here seem to be having fun in their own ways, living the life they want. So is such order necessary anymore? If they can even have such in-fighting, imagine what about humans? Worse. I know we do lots of terrible things to others and to each other. Why we do it? Simple. Because we are humans. But it doesn’t matter what kind of form you are. The important here is about being family. Sometimes it is okay to get into little fights and petty quarrels. But not to the point of killing each other. Like Mother, we must learn to accept each of our weakness and shortcomings. Because we are all different and unique in our own ways even if it looks silly. That is what makes us all eccentric. That is what makes life interesting. Because all of us has got that idiotic blood inside us.

Uchouten Kazoku

Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku

April 5, 2014

What is your favourite subject at school? Maths? English? Science? Art? Geography? History? I’m sure everyone has their own favourite subject. Mine? Well, my most favourite subject was going home time. Haha! True! Not a joke! Can never wait for the last bells to ring and it is total freedom for that day! Oh wait. What about after school club activities? I’m sure many of us joined at least one, right? I know, I had my fair share of club activities but that was only because I had to join because it was compulsory or else you won’t be graded. Sheesh. As far as I remember, the clubs I have joined throughout my school days were taekwondo club, chess club and computer club. Even so, I was an inactive member. I wished I was a ghost member. Heck, I wished there was a going home club! Not so much of a club if you think about it because if it is so, all you need to do is just wait for everyone to gather and then disperse as soon as that happens. Goodbye. Going home now. Sighs…

So I thought Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku (Chronicles of the Going Home Club) would somewhat bring nostalgic memories or at least make me fantasies what I should have done if there was such a club back then in my school and I was part of it. Unfortunately, names can be deceiving. Despite the club naming so, the members of it do everything else besides going home. That’s very misleading. So why the heck name it Going Home Club anyway? Why not Have Fun While We Can Club? This series is yet another one of those ubiquitous animes capitalizing on the cute girls doing nothing factor with no real plot whatsoever. I have watched a lot of these shows lately so much so I have lost count. Not all are bad and I’m only watching such genres because of the comedy factor. Let’s see if these girls have what it takes to make me laugh. Or bore me to death that I will just ‘go home’. With that, you must have guessed what this show is about. A group of cute girls having fun in their own ways.

Episode 1
Natsuki Andou just entered high school and like many freshies, the clubs go all out in recruiting them. And some weird ones like a person dressed in a seal outfit… Natsuki talks to her friend Ai Furuhashi about the clubs they will be joining. Natsuki isn’t interested and quips she wants to join the going home club instead. Karin Touno takes her seriously because she too wants to join it. To Natsuki’s horror, there is really such a club with their own clubroom! They are instantly accepted and introduced to the members that include Botan Oohagi (heir to some sword technique), Claire Kokonoe (daughter of a large conglomerate) and Sakura Doumyouji (the club’s president and basically a normal person). Natsuki really doesn’t want to join and just wants to go home but they are impressed with her going home spirit and call her the super rookie. And so Natsuki ends up joining it and is forced to come to the club every day. Karin reveals that when Natsuki bumped into the seal mascot on recruiting day, it was the Going Home Club then and it made her want to join. For that reason? Natsuki just wants to go home… That’s the spirit! Wondering what the club does, they ask Sakura and her reply is that they have fun. If you want that elaborated, it’s because youth only comes once to us and it will pass before your eyes. Thus they must enjoy themselves as much as possible to the max. There. Satisfied? Then they go feed pigeons at the park. Is this fun or what? Natsuki looks so bored…

Botan demonstrates how she cuts open a bottle top with her hand (why not just open it normally?). Then she gives a manga-like explanation how she uses the force, etc. She then proceeds to tell them about her Bear Tour last summer. It’s one of her many heroic exploits. She kept detailed records of it by sending emails back to her friends for every bear she defeated. Starting with the brown bear in Hokkaido, it led her to the Grizzly in Alaska (she had fun in USA before doing so) before the ultimate Polar Bear in the North Pole. She conquered them too easily but a month later she found out something unbeatable. It was her phone bill because she used it too much overseas. She realizes it’s not bears she’s supposed to fight but the rate system! Just change your lifestyle habit! The other girls went on to add the other types of beasts Botan slew like sharks, elephants and demon kings. Yeah… When everyone goes to patron the new crepe shop, Botan sees a guy in bear outfit handing out balloons. Oh no… Sakura catches Natsuki in the act when she tries to imitate Botan’s hand chopping movement in the toilet. Back in the clubroom, Karin is devastated she couldn’t buy any eraser because none had a pink case. Claire suggests going to a stationery shop and buy the entire store! This leads to a discussion on her extravagant money spending sense. So extravagant her movements too that the series breaks the fourth wall and turns this short moment into sketch frames used in its animation. Claire comes to this normal school because she wants to experience the normal life. Karin will teach her what normal people do. For starters, licking the cover of the ice cream where it is stuck is supposed to be the most delicious part. Isn’t that what kids think? Can Claire understand? Because ice cream to her comes in a fancy glass cup. And when everyone goes to buy ice cream, Claire buys a stick…

Episode 2
Karin just learned about that cuckoo poem so the girls discuss how it can determine a person’s behaviour like how it was used on the war generals. Then they made up some examples and discuss what each will do if a cuckoo that is supposed to sing isn’t. Expect some crazy answers like try smiling or get a canary as replacement. Because Karin doesn’t know what a cuckoo looks like, the rest describe to her what a bird generally is. It has a beak, right? Wings too, no? I guess nobody knows what it looks like. Then Sakura just had to nail this lame pun that a cuckoo is a bird that has gone cuckoo. Later Karin brings her homemade cookies and this shocks everyone that she has feminine appeal. They can’t believe this is the Karin they know. Oh? How much do they know her? She is also good in sewing and shows them her handmade tissue cover. So overwhelmed by her feminine appeal that even Sakura’s visor detects her feminine appeal stats increasing over the thousands. Is this machine malfunctioning? Maybe her brain is malfunctioning. Rising so much that it explodes and for more exaggerating effect, Botan is blown into the wall while Claire loses her power! Karin doesn’t know what is going on but gives off a lovely smile. That would have finished them. When Karin brings up the social mixer topic, this prompts Claire to wonder what it is. Sakura explains it but seems she has mistaken it to be a choral mixer club that she was once part of. Learning what it really is, Sakura starts to cringe in embarrassment. This girl is that pure? Sakura then has them practice what it’s like to be in a mixer just in case. Treating it like a disaster? Botan and Claire will play the boys, Natsuki and Karin the girls while Sakura is the waitress-cum-referee. A referee in mixers? After they introduce themselves, they couldn’t find any interesting topics to prolong the conversation. It is Sakura that is driving the mixer with her random and crazy scores (I guess it’s based on her mood), pushing her octopus wasabi menu and coming up with random events. At the end of the session, Sakura declares Karin the winner as she has obtained an astronomical amount of points. So many digits that I don’t even know what this number is called. Natsuki is the only one stuck with -30. But Botan pulls off the winning move because she would rather date the waitress. Infinite points…

Episode 3
Botan helps open a bottle for Sakura like as though she’s opening champagne. At least she didn’t chop it off. This leads them to request her to teach them self defence technique. With Sakura acting as the perpetrator, Botan demonstrates how to handle one. She can’t proceed further because if so, you will explode! Definitely you can’t use that. Natsuki realizes the bottle cap stuck in the ceiling. Remember how Botan opened it earlier on? It’s still there and lots of cracks in the ceiling. When Sakura asks about Botan’s mental training, she mentions one of it is when people read her diary from middle school. She will be unfazed. But really? Botan has a diary? Sakura reads it and the next thing she knows, she is lying in her own pool of blood! Is it that devastating? Natsuki reads aloud to the rest but also succumbs to her own pool of blood. Something about Botan being a shattered glass that nobody can get near to. Botan continues from the diary and it seems she was so till she met the light in high school in the name of Sakura. Claire is spoiling Karin too much, so the others think. She’s peeling orange for her refill her mechanical pencil. Those are dangerous, right? She is even willing to take responsibility of taking care of her for the rest of her life. I think she really wants that to happen. Botan suggests Karin to discipline herself and that is by walking up a flight of stairs! Everyone except Natsuki is in the exaggerated flow that these stairs are too tough for her. Wasn’t she hoping on one leg with no problem up the stairs this morning? In the end, Karin’s I-can’t-do-it face is too cute for Botan to resist so she carries her up in her arms.

Botan wakes up early on Sunday to do her stance training. After lunch, she plays video games till night before looking at her social website. Her friends posted pictures (some weird) and she likes them. One of her old friend’s, Arare Kakio also posted online but when she sees her middle school class reunion, Botan is glad she didn’t attend it and thanks her mental training. In the clubroom, Karin learns Botan was always alone in middle school. Sakura is her first friend when she entered high school. Karin never knew Botan was that scary and it’s because thanks to her being friends with Sakura, she has a different outlook now than before. Less scary. Botan adds that due to her loneliness, she manages to ‘clone’ herself whenever she is unable to find a partner for gym. Yeah. It made her body stronger. If anybody hits her, she won’t get hurt. Sakura doesn’t believe and tries it out. After punching, kicking and even whacking her with a chair, Botan is all smiling! Don’t tell me she is a masochist! But Sakura has an idea using Karin’s feminine appeal to hurt her. Karin walks up to Botan and yells, “I hate you!”. Botan flies away and her face shatters like glass. That really hurt, didn’t it? Of course Karin later post in her social media an apology and that she really loves her.

Episode 4
Karin and Natsuki go to see the softball match between Sakura and Botan’s class against Claire’s class. Botan and Sakura try to give each other hand signals but Botan’s fingers just contorted in a freaky way. Then they try picturing Claire as an athlete. Even imagining her as a horse rider is tough. They need to win this game or else Claire will brag over them for a week. Unfortunately Claire knows what they’re thinking. Because they have been friends for a long time, she too shares that telepathic conversation so she heard everything. There goes their plan. Sakura has her members discuss what they would do in case of a fire. She seems serious in pointing out some of the places in school that fire could start easily. Like a bunch of delinquents smoking. How is that hazardous? Because when they blog about it, the comments section catches fire! Botan doesn’t know what PRD during fire emergency stands for so Karin cutely explains it is no pushing, no running and no dying. Actually, the last bit should be no discussing. Sakura notices how similar they are to handphones and wonders why didn’t they just shorten it to no handphones. Because it isn’t. But they all think they’re going to be fine and no fire will start since this is already the third episode. Later the girls notice Botan plotting her running trail for her training. She even does training while swimming. She’s meditating in the shower… She then explains there is a rival family out to crush hers. Not to mention other numerical groups that will come along the way, in which Botan is confident in crushing them all (she thinks 2 episodes for 2 villains would suffice). But as Natsuki points out, since it is tournament mode, wouldn’t that mean the enemies will wipe each other out via elimination round and Botan doesn’t have to fight them all herself. So what does this have to do with this anime? If they lose their popularity as a gag anime, they will have to turn it into a battle anime!

But if Botan is the only one who could fight, that would render the rest unimportant and just normal civilians, no? Don’t worry, with their support, she can get 1up. 1 life = 4 friends. She plays too much game. Claire also mentions her own family politics and rivalry with different families trying to outdo each other for the top spot. Sakura disagrees with the battle theme retool. Because if they get unpopular, fanservice is the way to go! Yeah. Those scenes with Botan in swimsuit are already a sign… Because by the third episode, it is the yardstick that people use to gauge if they want to continue watching a late night anime. They also show the retooling editing the softball scenes, putting Sakura in swimsuit and Botan’s entire body mosaic out. Sakura wants Karin who has been silent ever since to end this with a punch line. Well, she did a pun about this anime and softball. What do they have in common? They keep getting thrown away! There is also something she wanted to correct them for a long time. This is actually the fourth episode and not the third. The rest panics and wonders if there is enough time to do tournament battle or stripping! Don’t be so hasty! Claire flexes her muscle by calling her guys to do a new ending. Lastly, Botan teases Natsuki when she eats doughnuts. Because her name almost sounds like that snack. Yum!

Episode 5
Sakura sings in German a song composed by Schubert. The idea? Because the composer has been dead for more than 50 years, they can use this song without paying any royalties! This leads to a discussion of the Demon King in the song that sounds weak. It isn’t the almighty Demon King they perceive. So weak that any move could easily kill the bugger. Like as though he only has that in name. So they re-imagine the Demon King to be more powerful and badass that he even kills the future hero. But the latter got resurrected like in RPG games… They want to continue reinventing the Demon King but after hearing the word ‘tokatonton’, Sakura loses motivation to carry on. Later they discuss the Kokoro novels by Souseki Natsume. It is what Sakura’s class is doing for modern literature and it is really popular to the extent they are quoting quotes from it. They also discuss other good literature textbooks but Karin somehow mixes up a story of a fox going to buy apples at a store. That one was actually a maths question than any literature. Also discussed is a literature about some guy turning into a tiger and scaring off people with his poetry. Don’t ask. Later the girls move on to folktales that they hardly remember such as Kintaro. They don’t remember what he did with his axe and they come up with all sorts of violent cliché theories and mish-mash like Aesop fables and the girl-running-to-school-with-bread-in-mouth cliché. As for Momotarou, it turned into some Star Wars parody. Tarou Urashima? Money solved everything? There are many other old folktales they don’t remember much but they all arrive at a conclusion: All of them are violent! Sure it isn’t their violent minds that are corrupting those folktales? Next day, nobody seems to have done research to ascertain those stories because they were sure the other would. Does it really matter? Well, everyone fails Natsuki for it. Lastly Claire and Karin discuss about Sakura’s hair which seems like made up of parts. Of course Sakura denies and takes the whole thing off. It’s a whole part and a helmet!

Episode 6
Everyone plays Kick The Can but Botan is too strong. Yeah. Sakura forced Natsuki to drink canned coffee so they could play. I wonder how many she already had… It all began when Sakura wanted to play video games. Because games only allow up to 4 players, she is about to kick out Natsuki but the other girls are already in their own world. Feeling left out, that’s when Sakura ditched this idea and wants to play a game that doesn’t use electricity (why is Botan looking so shocked?). And so this is how they end up playing Kick The Can but they have already lost so many cans (Natsuki must be bloated now) so Sakura gives Botan a handicap by handcuffing her hands and feet. Somehow she still manages to break free and win! Even chaining, blindfolding, locking in a box and exploding it, she can still escape and kick the can!!! How does she do it! Finally they tie her to a rocket bound for space. Want to bet she can somehow return? Back in the clubroom, suddenly Sakura collapses! Appearing on TV is a masked villain (Sakura?) called Guilty Judgment. She accuses them for committing a sin that is ignoring their club president while playing video games. She’s still holding on to that grudge? Anyway she threatens them the door is locked from the inside (doesn’t this mean it can be open from the inside too?) and they are strapped with invisible bombs that beautiful people cannot see (is this the reason why Sakura was ‘killed’ so she could not detect the bombs? I guess she wasn’t that pretty – plan backfired). Only Karin gullibly believes it. Guilty Judgment wants them to play musical chairs and the one not seated will explode. First round ends with Karin remaining standing. Is she going to die? Claire offers her lap so that counts, right? Obviously the video is not in sync because all of them are still alive. Removing another chair, the standing ones will sit on the laps of the seated ones. Finally down to the last chair, I don’t know how all of them managed to squeeze sitting on it. And Guilty Judgment obviously is oblivious to what is happening because she is ranting how the ‘survivor’ killed everyone and is condemned to a life of loneliness. Whatever. Everyone then goes out to some pancake restaurant. The ‘corpse’ is left behind. Nobody cares. So sad… Sakura picks herself up but she sees her friends waiting outside for her. That’s what friends are for, right?

Botan’s rival family clan, the Four Heavenly Kings meet in their weekly meeting to discuss. Four teenagers at a diner? They consist of The Leader, Seriryuu the Merciless; The Guardian, Byakko the Ruthless; The Lone Female, Suzaku the Relentless; and The Anime Lover, Genbu the Hopeless. Of course Genbu is not pleased with his title so the rest try suggesting other titles but all have the same meaning as hopeless. Then they discuss about Botan their eternal enemy and know she has juniors joining her club. They are mad that the juniors have matching straps but it seems they too have them so Genbu wonders if they are really in love with Botan instead. Even if they say she is their enemy, it doesn’t sound convincing. Botan and the rest walk into the diner and they greet each other. Friendly, aren’t they? When Botan’s friends ask about them, Botan replies they are her enemies. Saying that with a confident smile? Another week, the Four Heavenly Kings meet to discuss again. As usual, Genbu isn’t happy now his nickname has some light censor. The rest are confident that it will be removed in the DVDs. Talking about Botan, it seems they’ve got lots of matching items with her. Sure they aren’t in love with her? Genbu blows his top that they are not taking the enemy seriously when suddenly all his Botan matching items drop out from his shirt. Hah… In the clubroom, Natsuki suddenly collapses. Yeah. Now it’s her turn to play Guilty Judgment on the video. I suppose she’s right to have that grudge of being forced to drink coffee 7 times in a row! Black coffee! It doesn’t help when Sakura pours another can into her throat! Claire thinks she needs something sweet and suggests an éclair. This causes the ‘corpse’ to get back up and retort.

Episode 7
Sakura enters the clubroom only to see Natsuki. Botan and Claire accompanied Karin to hand in a forgotten assignment. To pass the time, Sakura suggests playing shiritori with a twist. Each will have a taboo card containing a word that cannot be said or else you will lose. So in addition to the usual shiritori rule and one minute limit per person, you have to avoid saying that taboo card while drawing your opponent to say your taboo word. If Natsuki wins, Sakura will give her something good. Otherwise she will have to eat spaghetti through her nose! As the game starts, Sakura goes on the offensive as Natsuki realizes she is trying to make her say ‘ru’ words. There are not many words starting with that letter. Natsuki counters that tactic by using a word that starts and ends with both ‘ru’. However her gut feeling tells her that the word ‘ruuru’ (rule) is Sakura’s taboo word and true enough it is. Natsuki tries other ‘ru’ words but Sakura can quickly counter it back to ‘ru’. With the clock ticking down and running out of those words, pressure is building on Natsuki. Just when Natsuki thinks she thought up a ‘ru…ru’ word, Sakura counters with another ‘ru…ru’ word. She expected this and has a handful of those just in case. But Natsuki hasn’t given up yet. She turns the play to her favour and making Sakura say ‘u’ words. Sakura has to be careful because many ‘u’ words were used up in the earlier play. Could it be that Natsuki’s taboo word begins with ‘u’? When Sakura mentions ‘umibouzu’ this happens to be Natsuki’s taboo word. Sakura’s loss! So what is it that she has to hand over? Her hair pins… Natsuki is forced to tie up her hairstyle in weird fashion. I guess she is the real loser here. Everybody plans to hold a surprise party for Natsuki tomorrow. Thing is, they discuss it with Natsuki around! How is that for a surprise? They suggest all the extravagant stuffs they want to throw at her (how come it sounds like shiritori?) and even have the cheek to ask her if she will be surprised by it. Of course not! Next thing as Natsuki makes her way to the clubroom in an unsurprising way, she sees a large cake inside the room! Surprised? If it’s bigger than the door, how did it get in? It was made in the room. Then she hears fireworks but since it’s daytime, she can’t see a thing. Surprised? After noticing the other extravagant stuffs, they have a final surprise for her: An airplane writing ‘Happy Birthday Natsuki’ in the sky. I think she is more embarrassed than surprised. Finally, Karin still feels hungry even after eating that giant birthday cake. Sakura and Botan think her stomach is possessed by some kind of spirit. But as Karin points out, there is always room for desserts. Before they know it, the red bean rice ball in Botan’s hand ends up in Karin’s mouth. Scary…

Episode 8
The girls learn Natsuki has a younger brother, Lloyd. They get excited and hound her with lots of questions (including silly ones: Is he a boy or girl). Natsuki tells them off that being single children, they do not know the reality of having a younger brother. In that case, they suggest to come visit her home and experience the reality! Oh no! Later, Sakura saw some guy selling poems in the street and feels the need for her club to write some. Using thank you as a theme, it seems everyone came up with negative ideas of society. Changing it to heart-warming, let’s say it sounds more like warming up other parts than the heart. After writing so many and that they can’ sell it, what do they do? Play Frisbee… On another day, the girls really did come to visit Natsuki’s home. It’s going to be a pain… Yeah. See the mini bags they’ve brought along. First and foremost, they want to meet Lloyd so Natsuki calls him down to let the girls see. They all start laughing so of course he starts retorting. Natsuki beats him up for not showing respect to his seniors. But Natsuki doesn’t do the same for Sakura, right? Then they visit her room. Sakura becomes a pest when she starts smelling her bed. Natsuki gives her a Boston Crab submission move. I guess having a brother means she can pull off such moves. Natsuki is further embarrassed when they get to know she sleeps with a teddy bear. She wants them to go home but they’ve already brought their sleeping kits. After she takes a bath, she sees her friends making themselves like home in her room. This is going to be a long night. The entire night they discuss about Natsuki’s ahoge. Because it has a life on its own. See it move? They make comparisons how the ahoge is the main body part compared to Natsuki, which pisses her off. Every example, she has some retort. So many retorts that she’s running out of breath! She tells them to stop teasing about it since she’s quite sensitive. Suggesting to cut it, Natsuki says it is impossible. She tried once but another sprang up in its place. Her heart warms when Sakura mentions she likes her ahoge because it makes her who she is. Because without it, they couldn’t think of her as Natsuki anymore. Insult? Claire suggests editing the picture to erase Natsuki’s ahoge. The outcome? Unforeseen programme error! Not only that. The room starts to darken and although Natsuki doesn’t have her ahoge anymore, everyone else does!!! HORROR!!! This is the true horror of her ahoge! In the clubroom, Karin toys around with Natsuki’s ahoge and accidentally pulls it out! The rest think the ahoge is Natsuki and she died! Botan even performs CPR on ‘Natsuki’!

Episode 9
Sakura wants the club to go for a summer camp but Natsuki disagrees. In the first place, the nature of this club doesn’t even warrant one. Sakura throws a tantrum but Natsuki tells her if she really wants to go, say it sincerely from the heart. And so the summer camp is on but now the big dilemma is where to go. This brings the topic of choices that many face in life. This includes many ridiculous examples and even that choice of marrying a childhood friend or a rich girl. The conversation turns into one with lots of censoring including ordinary words. Moving on to the next topic of choices, there are decisions that need to be made from consisting of more than 1 choice especially what food they would love to eat for an entire year. Hardly fares any different from the previous topic. Everyone has what they want to eat and Natsuki’s is omelette rice. Everyone thinks it’s cute and this embarrasses her. Now back to the question of where they want to go for summer camp. Although everyone has their idea, Sakura wants to go to Kagawa to annihilate udon. Eh? Feels it is like some culinary tour because we see the girls going to one udon shop to another. Sakura throws tantrum when her udon is too hot. So Botan accidentally pours cold water on it. Now it’s inedible. Back at the inn after a pillow fight, everyone gazes at the starry sky and comes up with their own creative imagination of the constellations. They blame it on ancient people on why the constellations have so much adult content because it’s their only source of entertainment. Or maybe their minds are just dirty. With the power of creative imagination, the girls turn into simple constellations themselves (stick people?). Or perhaps the producers got lazy in drawing them…

Back home, Natsuki gets a call from Sakura. She is invited to the pool. Seems Claire have booked the entire pool for her family so feel free to use it like your own. After having fun in the water, they rest while discussing about the competitive swimming called freestyle. If you go by its definition, there isn’t anything free and there are lots of rules to it. What is it that is accepted as freestyle swimming? Can Botan who is running on water be considered as one? Yes people. She’s really running on water! Their discussion continues with the topic of freedom. It might just be in name but there are many things in life that restricts you. Sakura did something scary that she watched the morning news and counted how many times the newscaster fumbled! She learnt nothing in this world is free and adults and companies always put restrictions on them. Freedom doesn’t exist in this world. Because this is getting gloomy, they end the episode. Finally, Natsuki’s ahoge joke continues. Botan and Karin hear her voice but couldn’t see Natsuki despite standing right next to them! When they do, they don’t even recognize her! A joke or insult? Or both? When the whatever snack that was replacing Natsuki’s ahoge came off and Botan throws her real ahoge back on her head, Natsuki ‘revives’ and they welcome back their friend. So ahoge is really what defines her?

Episode 10
When Natsuki enters the clubroom, she sees her friends in weird face paint or hair-raising hairstyles. Thank goodness it was just a dream. This leads them to discuss about change of image to signal the end of the summer vacation. Sakura tries to act like a tsundere but Claire and Botan are not impressed. Also discussed how colours affect one’s personality and the stereotypes associated with it. As for changing one’s appearance to suit one’s personality, Sakura starts wearing shoulder pads. Clair and Botan again aren’t amused and punish her. Writing tiny sutra lines on her fingernails?! One day, Botan and her friends visit the Four Heavenly Kings at their dojo. Byakko is not going to hold back on her in his training. Perhaps he is taking too long in his shadow technique explanation that he got owned by Botan. Natsuki notices Suzaku trying to ‘compete’ with her that she knows Botan longer than she is. Even mentioning a place where they went shopping together and Botan got a t-shirt for her. Later Natsuki asks Botan about this because she thought she said Sakura was the first friend she made. Indeed. She considered Suzaku as her enemy and as she wanted to go shopping with her then, she picked the weirdest piece of clothing and pushed her to buy it. Back at the clubroom, the girls are telling ghost stories. For every ghost story they tell, a candle is put out. Now they are at their last. What is going to happen when it goes out? Something scary… They will become easier to animate in the dark!

As the club relay event draws near, Sakura suggests their club can participate since they have 5 members. Initially she wanted to be the anchor but after thinking how Botan may break her hand when passing the baton, she decides to let her be the anchor. They need to practice but the football club is using the field. Sakura goes to negotiate. She got a challenge in return. Worse, it is in the football club’s favour and on their terms. They’ll let them use half the field if the win. But if they lose, Karin will become their manager! Horror! See how Claire and Botan turn into the ferocious hulk! Nobody and nobody will touch their beloved Karin. Certainly not insects or weak people! Sakura is going to die if Karin really becomes their manager. I’m sure she can’t rely on her gut instinct of friendship power, can’t she? Back at the clubroom, they discuss the basic rules of football. Seems enough for them to get by. When the match is about to start, the boys seem confident Karin is already in the bag. But not on Claire and Botan’s watch. They’re willing to even kill if any of those guys lay their hands on her!!! When it begins, Botan kicks and suddenly it’s like she put all her strength into it. So fast and powerful the ball that it whizzes past the boys. The wind cuts their skin, their clothes get blown away and the goalpost destroyed! Instantly the boys surrender. They can use the field. Yeah. They wet themselves. With Karin safely remaining at their side, Natsuki is wise not to ask Claire what is going on because she is seen contacting her men to pull out the snipers! On race day, Botan as the anchor zooms pass everyone to take home the win. But Natsuki senses something amiss. If Karin was at the stands cheering on them, who was the fifth participant? Don’t tell me… Lastly, Natsuki thought she could help ease what is bothering Claire. Till she learns that it is Karin’s cuteness that she couldn’t get enough of. Regret asking?

Episode 11
We start off with Sakura’s flashback. She spent her life in middle school boring. So when she entered high school, she thought of making it interesting by joining a club. Likewise, Botan has trouble mixing around and is resolved to turn things around in her high school debut. However in class, she is unable to introduce and say the things she wanted. Only Sakura is interested in her due to her unusual name and aura. As the days pass, Botan finds herself an outcast because the other girls don’t really enjoy talking to her. Sakura on the other hand is doing well. She wants to talk to Botan but their seats are far way and the opportunity just doesn’t arise. One day when Botan leaves school alone, Sakura finally catches up and asks if they could be friends. Because their names are taken after flowers, they are like two of a kind. That’s when their friendship began. Sakura suggests starting a club together. A club that they could do anything they want that is fun and interesting. The rest is history. Sakura is going to play bowling in the hallway and her friends could have worried about bigger problems like expulsion instead of whether there is no gutter or not. Before she could swing the ball, she suddenly stops dead in her tracks. It is the presence of the student council president, Reina Takamado. Botan suddenly goes into defensive mode and warns about this president whose nickname is Kousoku. Seems when you step into her zone, you will be unable to break the school rules. Therefore, at the speed of light (kousoku), she binds you (kousoku) with all the rules (kousoku)! Yeah. Botan has an alias too: Midnight Murder. Even Sakura: Grenade Rager. Who the heck gave them these nicknames?! I don’t understand by some twisted thinking, Reina agrees to let Sakura bowl. She is sure they’ll meet again but Sakura says it isn’t possible. Because this is the last episode! Gasp! Horror!

So this has the girls in a brainstorming session on what to do for the final episode. Let’s say they are all desperate in doing what they want. Like Botan wanting to fight the bear… A stage performance is out because Karin’s tambourine, Natsuki’s triangle and Botan making the bear scream isn’t exactly what we have in mind as a band. A dream sequence won’t do too since we are shown a sad story of Natsuki in coma for 3 years! And what about Claire’s sci-fi wish of starting a new Garden of Eden, Eve and Eve with Karin? Not quite possible. In the end, Karin’s wish is more plausible. She wants to chat and eat snacks with them. Because that’s what they always do. So the girls are having a toast at the restaurant. They’re having a good time till Karin points out all that is left to do is the next episode preview. Meaning… This isn’t the last episode! Yeah. Sakura screwed up again. I know people make mistakes. But only idiots make them twice and fail to learn from them. Everybody was convinced it was the last since Sakura was so damn convincing. And so everybody is in a frantic on what to do for the final episode. Lots of ideas thrown in but Sakura wants to ride it with lots of short gags.

Episode 12
Sakura is asleep in class. She just woke up when the teacher tells her to read to passage. She composes a haiku instead. Karin dreams of being chased by the demon king. She is saved by the heroic tapir. Also turns out she is sleeping in class. Kids, don’t ever do this in class. The rest of this episode is divided into very short skits. Karin complaining about the bugs she hates; Sakura pondering about the toilet flush setting of small and big; Claire handing Natsuki big money to buy pencil lead. It’s like as though she’s buying the entire store and didn’t know pencil lead is very cheap; Natsuki is called to the roof by Furuhashi just to witness her comedy act with Karin. The duo are called Aikarin! The act is lame and Natsuki is not amused and fires back her criticisms. The try to do another giving birth act but it’s more surreal than funny; The football club and baseball club are at odds again so the vice president of the student council, Kouhei Iizuka is sent to quell things. His ability is Perfect Equal and like its name suggests, is able to split things equally. Like lunch. Which is pretty much useless; The girls talk about sounds animal make but bring up animals whose sound they don’t know. Screw what does the fox sounds like. What sound does a tapir make?; The girls are lost on their way to the sundry shop so they buy a map. But it’s a map of the universe!; Claire finally has a taste of the ice cream stuck on the cover. Ah, the taste of commoners; Botan mentions she was shot in the heart when she was young by an assassin. She survived because she had something underneath her clothes to deflect the bullet. It’s her ribcage! You can’t deflect bullets with that!; Botan is about to face off with the strongest bear but it turns out to be Karin in disguise. Botan loses when Karin does her cute poses; The gang wants to hear Sakura sign Die Moldau in German as this song was commonly sung in middle school despite the lyrics in Japanese. However she forgot (or rather she never sang it) and sings that demon king song; Natsuki has her drawing song but they only drew her ahoge. That is what defines her, right?; Sakura does a drawing song on herself but she rants so much on the necessity that the footage is fast forward, including the part on how to draw her; Is there a hidden pit where people who retort practice all day and night? No way! Now that’s a retort; Sakura mentions about a cat giving birth to kittens at school. They want to go see it but she notes they have 60 seconds before the show ends! The girls panic on what to do and Natsuki can’t come up with her punch line. Of all times, why now? Suddenly Furuhashi calls her just to tell her she joined the volleyball club. Who cares?! Time wasted. End of show. Lastly, they lament they should have done more skits at a faster rate but seriously, Natsuki’s retort can’t keep up with such a speed. I can imagine her breaking down… Karin sees the first evening star but it turns out to be an airplane…

Home Is Where The Heart Is
I guess this show is pretty decent and the jokes were spontaneous enough to make me laugh from time to time. In short, this anime isn’t that bad and didn’t fall into the boring trap like some shows of this similar genre. I suppose it is because of the main fact that Natsuki’s main role and destiny in this show as the person to retort everything. And the way she retorts them, she says them with a passion. Yeah. You can say like as though she is born for that role. So much so that nobody else does it better than her and even if they did, it won’t be as much impact if Natsuki was the one doing it. So can you see why Natsuki never left the club? It’s not like they do not allow her, it is because it is much more fun hanging out with these girls and retorting their silly antics from time to time. If not, every time. Therefore, Natsuki enjoys retorting. It gives somewhat a purpose in life (and role in this anime). Her retorting makes everyone look like idiots (including herself) but in a funny way. Or maybe they are acting like that so Natsuki could have a chance to retort. It’s more fun that way, right?

Also another funny factor is how they often break the fourth wall especially bringing up the ending theme early (although it is played up a handful of times, it doesn’t feel bored. Maybe it is the way Natsuki retorts them) and the last episode slip up. Some of the skits are also pretty well executed like the shiritori instalment. It was pretty funny, exciting and interesting in a lot of ways. It wouldn’t be right for a comedy anime too to not take advantage of making parody out of a few anime and cultural references. I won’t say that every skit is filled with lots of such trivia but there are some and enough to make you spot them (if you know them, that is). From Pokemon and Evangelion to Japanese navy warships and even a combination of the world’s most famous footballer, a certain Portuguese and Argentine football superstars.

The other girls have their own quirky personality which breathes some life into the characters although sometimes it feels their character types may be a little cliché. For example Karin is always the moe and gullible-cum-naive girl of the group exuding lots of feminine appeal that nobody but gays can resist. Then there is ultra-rich girl Claire who never experienced anything commoners do till she came to this club. And all her monetary dealings are in astronomical figures! I even think she even bathes in money. Botan the muscle brain and super strong female of the group although she plays too much video games and her mind starts thinking like one. Sakura the president may be just a normal girl considering the rest around her are ‘super’ types. Super cute, super rich and super strong. Oh, maybe I can classify Sakura as super energetic because that’s what she is. And her love for those wasabi octopus balls too. Not forgetting about Natsuki and her super retorts but I have already covered her in the previous paragraph. Other minor characters like Reina and Furuhashi are so minimal that to think their appearance is only for that little joke in their appearance. For instance, Reina’s introduction was probably as a joke for a new character in the last episode (which actually turned out to be the second last episode) and Furuhashi’s long absence in between the series only to make her appearance in the final episode feels like she is the big retort to Natsuki to end it all. The Four Heavenly Kings? Uhm… Do you feel pitiful that Genbu is usually made the butt of jokes? Just like Natsuki, he is the retort specialist of the group but they don’t really pay attention to him.

Another thing I want to mention about Natsuki is her ahoge. It is what defines her. Really. You can’t have Natsuki without an ahoge (like you can’t have Gintama’s Shinpachi without his spectacles) and there are a few jokes and references to it too. Just like some anime characters whose ahoge has a life on its own (think of Tsumiki of Acchi Kocchi, Araragi of Bakemonogatari, Himeko from Pani Poni Dash and Nyaruko from Haiyore! Nyaruko-san), Natsuki’s ahoge too moves around like as though it is some form of alien life form on her head. I notice it can stretch quite long and could be a head’s length at times. In fact, notice how it is the one that is focused on when she is making the retorts? Instead of showing her retorting face, we get to see her ahoge who is like doing the retorting. Now do you think that Natsuki’s ahoge is the most important part of her body? Protect it at all cost!

Compared to other shows like Yuyushiki or Kiniro Mosaic, the girls here look much better for your average high school students. If Yuyushiki girls are plain and cute, Kiniro Mosaic’s girls borderline cute and pretty, then the ones here are more towards the bishoujo type. Of course the final segment at the end of every episode (the first for the last one) called Going Home Club Mini Theatre has the girls in chibi form but the animation is computer generated. So can you blame Claire and Botan for fawning over Karin? She has the kind of looks that every guy would want to have her as their waifu. If only they can get pass her ‘guardians’. Claire is so obsessed of Karin that you can evidently see it when her eyes go ‘dead’. It’s a danger sign that she may do something extreme just to protect Karin’s cuteness. And what’s with all those signboards that say “Kawaii (cute)” each time they want to express how cute Karin’s antics are? There are times Natsuki is cute too when she is not retorting. Times when she gets embarrassed when her embarrassing likes are revealed. Adding to the cute factor is the little white seal whom I believe is the pet mascot of the club and the series. You can see it bumming around anywhere and everywhere from the clubroom to the mid-intermissions. Can’t get enough of cute girls? Now you have a cute seal to steal your heart. Say… What sound does a seal make?

If I had to point out the ‘best’ one, it would be Ibuki Kido as Natsuki because of the way she passionately does her retorts. Just imagine her like Akiko of OniAi turning her brother complex into retorting passion. Seems the rest of the seiyuu casts are newcomers and this show marks their debut in anime voice acting. No complaints from me that they sound too amateurish whatsoever. They are Mitsuki Yuuna as Karin, Miharu Kobayashi as Sakura, Sae Aiuchi as Botan, Ayaka Senbongi as Claire and Rui Tanabe as Furuhashi. The seal is voiced by Mao Ichimichi (Ikeda in Gin No Saji). The only seiyuu with a ‘longer’ voice acting record is Sachika Misawa who voiced Reina. She was the voice behind Black Snow Princess in Accel World and Kagami in Fantasista Doll.

The opening theme, 2 Gakki Debut Daisakusen by Otome Shintou is quite energetic and lively to match the robust feel of the series despite sounding a lot like some typical J-pop song. Uhm… Maybe it’s because Otome Shintou is indeed a J-Pop idol unit. I suppose one way to keep the series fresh is to put up new ending themes. After 3 or 4 episodes (except for the penultimate episode in which the new ending song only lasts for that particular episode), there will be a new one for us viewers to enjoy. If you ask me, there isn’t anything spectacular. Just sounding generic like they do. They are all sung by the seiyuus of the Going Home Club or a combination of them (yes, including the seiyuu who voiced the seal). The ending themes are (in order of appearance), Wakuwaku Days, Hanabi, Kimi Ni Tsuite Ieru Koto and Best Friend.

It still bugs me that this club is called Going Home Club when what everybody does is goof around all day like as though they have nothing else better to do. Is this their idea of fun? Well, to each her own. Even so, how in the first place did this club get their name approved? The person who approved it probably didn’t care and thought much about it, didn’t he? Besides, I don’t see any supervisor for this club. I only see the fire supervisor’s name on the club’s plate outside otherwise I don’t see the supervisor in person. Yeah. Maybe the supervisor already went home and the kids are left to their own device. And it is pretty ironic too that for a club that is supposed to go home, they have their own clubroom and stay in it most of the time talking and have fun. Maybe home isn’t referring to something physical. It’s a place where you return to relax and feel comfortable. And as long as your heart feels that, you can call that place wherever you are home. Perhaps that is what ‘going home’ means. To unwind and enjoy life after hours of study. If those girls did do some serious studying in the first place. Heh.

So for me, school days are already behind me. Nothing that memorable, unfortunately. So far behind those days that I’m starting to feel old. Now that I am in the working force, I suppose I can still apply the going home concept. Yeah. Get off work right on the dot. My favourite time of the day. Too bad I’m not working in a government agency or as a civil servant. Too bad it is not easy saying no to your superiors when they require me to stay back for overtime. Bummer. At least I don’t have such girls to play silly antics and fool around and that I don’t have to play the tsukkomi part. Hmm… Maybe that is why life around is so mundane and boring… How I wish I was home…

I’ve always wanted to do a versus blog between the teen romance anime of Kimi Ni Todoke and Sukitte Iinayo because of the similarities between them. But I don’t know why I kept deferring it until my memory is close to nothing between both animes. So it goes to show that procrastination never gets you anywhere. Anyway both stories are similar in the general sense as the least popular girl in school ends up with the most popular guy that every girl would dream of having as her boyfriend. Life is not fair, right? Well, you can’t have everything you want. Nothing is perfect. Because if the world was, we wouldn’t be having such problematic teen romances in the first place.

The high school
Kimi Ni Todoke: Kitahoro High School.
Sukitte Iinayo: Tomei High School.

Unpopular girl protagonist
They are both outcast, introverts and not liked by many of their peers at school.
Kimi Ni Todoke: Sawako Kuronuma. She wants to make friends but due to her outward appearance looking like Sadako from those The Ring movies, people stay away from her.
Sukitte Iinayo: Mei Tachibana. She doesn’t want to make friends because of her past trauma of being hurt after being betrayed.

Her part time activity
Kimi Ni Todoke: Sawako loves attending to her medicinal plants she plants at school.
Sukitte Iinayo: Mei works part time at a bakery.

Popular guy protagonist
Enough said.
Kimi Ni Todoke: Shouta Kazehaya.
Sukitte Iinayo: Yamato Kurosawa.

Girl’s best friend
No matter how ‘spooky’ our main girl is, there are a few that warm up to her, right?
Kimi Ni Todoke: Ayane Yano and Chizuru “Chizu” Yoshida.
Sukitte Iinayo: Asami Oikawa and Aiko Mutou.

Guy’s best friend
Every guy needs a pal to talk to, right?
Kimi Ni Todoke: Ryuu Sanada.
Sukitte Iinayo: Kenji Nakanishi.

Siblings
Kimi Ni Todoke: Tohru is Ryuu’s older brother.
Sukitte Iinayo: Nagi is Yamato’s little sister.

Cute animal pet
I don’t think they appear enough to be the series’ mascot.
Kimi Ni Todoke: Once an abandoned puppy, Maru is adopted by Kazehaya.
Sukitte Iinayo: Mei already has a cat named Marshmallow. Thus the abandoned cat was taken in by Yamato and named Kuro.

First kiss
Kimi Ni Todoke: Actually it didn’t happen in the anime. A close one was in episode 17 whereby Pin played a prank and the two of them almost kissed.
Sukitte Iinayo: Right at the end of the first episode whereby Yamato kisses Mei to act as her boyfriend and shoo away the persistent stalker.

Love triangle rival (female)
The main b*tch of the series… Why do they have to be the prettiest girl?
Kimi Ni Todoke: Ume “Kurumi” Kurumizawa.
Sukitte Iinayo: Megumi Kitagawa.

Her painful past
Probably why they end up being the series’ b*tch…
Kimi Ni Todoke: A group of girls blamed Kurumi thinking she became friends in their circle just to steal one of their boyfriends.
Sukitte Iinayo: She was teased as a young girl for being ugly and plain. It was a reason why she was forced to stand at the back of the class photo rather than being tall or anything.

Love triangle rival (male)
Kimi Ni Todoke: Kento Miura.
Sukitte Iinayo: Kai Takemura.

Other love relationships
Kimi Ni Todoke: Ryuu and Chizu.
Sukitte Iinayo: Nakanishi and Asami.

The doll
Kimi Ni Todoke: Kurumi. Hey! She looks like a bisque doll, right?!
Sukitte Iinayo: Nagi’s stuffed doll rabbit, Yamato #2.

Tall tough girl
Kimi Ni Todoke: Chizu.
Sukitte Iinayo: Aiko.

Girly girl
Kimi Ni Todoke: Ayane.
Sukitte Iinayo: Asami.

The threatening rumour
Kimi Ni Todoke: Kurumi was the one responsible for spreading rumours that Ayane slept with many guys and Chizu a juvenile delinquent and pin it all on Sawako.
Sukitte Iinayo: Miki Arai is believed to be Yamato’s first love and the only girl in the entire school whom he never kissed.

Part time job
Kimi Ni Todoke: Nil. The characters don’t do any part time job. Unless you consider Ryuu’s family who runs a ramen store but I don’t remember seeing him or anybody else work there.
Sukitte Iinayo: Mei works part time at a bakery and Yamato had his short stint in modelling (when he was tricked by Megumi into breaking up with Mei).

The festival
Kimi Ni Todoke: School cultural festival. Sawako had a fortune telling booth and it was a hit!
Sukitte Iinayo: Fireworks festival. Yamato and Mei only meet when it ends.

The sleepover
Kimi Ni Todoke: Sawako and Ayane were invited to sleepover at Chizu’s place.
Sukitte Iinayo: Yamato and Mei spend a night together at a hotel at Nyako Sama Land.

Bracelet
Kimi Ni Todoke: Ryuu gives Chizu a bracelet as a birthday present.
Sukitte Iinayo: Yamato gives Mei a bracelet as symbol of their love.

Handphone strap
Kimi Ni Todoke: Kazehaya gave Sawako a handphone strap as his Christmas present.
Sukitte Iinayo: Asami gave Mei a matching furball handphone strap as token of their friendship.

The character called Arai
Kimi Ni Todoke: Sawako’s temporary homeroom teacher, Kazuichi “Pin” Arai, a loud and eccentric guy.
Sukitte Iinayo: Miki Arai, supposed to be Yamato’s first love. She likes Yamato but he rejects her.

Number of episodes
Kimi Ni Todoke: Spanning 2 seasons. First season had 25 episodes while the second only had 12.
Sukitte Iinayo: One season containing 13 episodes.

Other episodes
Kimi Ni Todoke: 2 short special episodes called Mini Todoke Theatre.
Sukitte Iinayo: A one episode OVA. There are 10 short specials that came with the DVDs called Mei and Meowrsmellow Special.

Studio production
Kimi Ni Todoke: Production I.G.
Sukitte Iinayo: ZEXCS.

Conclusion
It’s hard to call this one but if I had to choose it would be Sukitte Iinayo would fare slightly better than Kimi Ni Todoke. Because I watched the former more recently than the latter, in which there are many scenes that I have already forgotten. Also, Sukitte Iinayo is more down to earth from the drama, love romance and social issues such as bullying and outcast. I’m not saying that Kimi Ni Todoke is not down to earth but there is a little fantasy-story-like feel. I mean, in the sense that such love stories is more suited to be of the storybook kind and not as easy to relate to everyday life as compared to the other series. Sukitte Iinayo has a more mature theme because there is mention of sex (but no sex scenes) but Kimi Ni Todoke is more pure and innocent by that standards. Despite both series having good looking people, Sukitte Iinayo fares a lot better and the ones in Kimi Ni Todoke looks a little plain and simple. Just put the main couples together side by side and you could say the latter looks a bit cartoonish. In addition, the former due to the lesser number of episodes, there development of the characters and story pacing is much faster than the latter which at times can be draggy. The only major trivial thing that I like about Kimi Ni Todoke than Sukitte Iinayo is that Mamiko Noto is the voice of Sawako. Yeah. That’s about it. Both these shoujo romance genre aren’t bad and if you’re into such genres, they both should be worth to check it out. And it always goes to show that even if you’re an ugly duckling, you can still end up winning the race. Because generally the one who wins isn’t necessarily the fastest. But the ones who take part. As long as you are in the game and put in some effort, you will always have a chance.