Zankyou No Terror

February 28, 2015

Is terrorising part of the new ‘culture’ today? The world has definitely changed a lot ever since post 9/11 terror attacks that still rings fear in the hearts of many even till today. We are further reminded of how truly terrifying terrorism is with the series of Zankyou No Terror. Well, if you watch anime, that is. This time and again (but of course), Tokyo is the object of terrorism. But not by a well-known international terrorist organization but a couple of teenage kids! Doesn’t that feel like an insult? At least it goes to show that terrorism doesn’t ‘discriminate’ but comes in all types and forms. However with these bunch of kids terrorizing Tokyo, planting bombs in places and giving authorities a chance to solve riddles that would lead to the bomb’s location, is there more to the eye for such young ones to have nothing better to do and so much free time that they could terrorize Tokyo? Are they doing it for fun or is there a hidden message behind it all?

Episode 1: Falling
In the snowy prefecture of Aomori, a couple of guys in a very well coordinated plan steal some plutonium from a nuclear fuel processing facility. Six months later in Tokyo, Arata Kononoe AKA Nine and Touji Hisami AKA Twelve are on their way to their newly transferred high school. Twelve sees Lisa Mishima in the midst of being bullied by her classmate girls who want her to jump into the pool. Looking like fun, he jumps in. Lisa sees the warmth of his smile but at the same time the ice cold piercing stare of Nine. Meanwhile a couple of guys lazing around instead of doing their office job, Kenjirou Shibazaki and Mukasa checks out videos on YouTube and they see a couple masked boys calling themselves as Sphinx predicting some darkness befalling on Tokyo after 3pm. Despite the cold exterior, Nine seems pretty popular with the girls. They want his handphone number but he can’t give it to them because he doesn’t have one. Or does he? Damn Twelve for texting him to meet right now. They see Lisa heading into the toilet with her bento. Is she going to have lunch there? No. She doesn’t feel good and dumps everything into the toilet bowl. What a waste. Back home, Twelve asks Nine about Lisa having the same look in her eyes as the orphanage kids. He replies they are weak and died. They were weak and couldn’t save them. But now they aren’t. Nine and Twelve are in a high rise government building planting funny plushie dolls in strategic place when the electricity in the entire area goes out. They hasten their planting as everyone grapples about without any sort of electronics working. Shibazaki remembers about the video and wants Mukasa to show it to him again. Did the prophecy come true? Lisa sees Twelve so the latter gives her a plushie and tells her to hold it until he says otherwise. When everything is set, the plushie starts melting and explodes. Nine believes everything went according to plan but Nine mentions not quite. Lisa saw him. He gave her a plushie just in case. They can save or kill her anytime. Nine wonders if he is trying to recreate that day for him. If it ends his nightmares. Nine calls Lisa and gives her 2 choices. Die where she stands or become their accomplice. Because she doesn’t want to die, Nine guides her as to where she should move. Placing the plushie before a wall, it then explodes to reveal a big gap. Twelve is waiting down there ready to catch her. Ready for the big jump? Just remember the swimming pool. Here goes! The area is in chaos as part of the building collapses. Twelve brings Lisa back to Nine as she is being told she made the choice to be their accomplice on her own. There is no more turning back.

Episode 2: Call & Response
When Lisa returns home, her very insecure mother thinks she never answered her calls as she feared she will leave her just like her dad. A task force is created to investigate this terrorist attack. Kurahashi of the Investigation Bureau’s Section One is heading this task force as they analyse all the details they have from the site devastation (they’re lucky not to have any casualties), the video which could be an ill-timed prank, the culprits may have been related to the 25 minute blackout, and the most interesting is the explosive analysis. Thermite reaction is based on the mixture of certain compounds together in which can lead to very high and extreme degrees of temperature in a short time. The materials are easier to find than making gunpowder (because it is used in wielding). The bombs are placed strategically where the building’s structural complex support it. The compounds are hot enough to melt the steel and the water sprinkle that was activated react the compound further and causing a steam explosion. The building at this point cannot support its weight and collapses. This terrorist attack is unprecedented but the analyst is baffled that a bomb was used made in traditional TNT. It’s like as though they are trying to leave a message. Words of “VON” are printed of it. Kurahashi knows what this means. He fears if this is related to that incident, the country will descend into panic. Meanwhile Nine impersonates as a ramen delivery boy and plant his takeout delivery in some police headquarters. And nobody gives a damn or a hint of suspicion.

Everyone is abuzz when Sphinx uploads a new video. They claim that the explosion was theirs and there is going to be a second one. But they give the police a riddle to answer. As they discuss, Kurahashi believes the culprits calling themselves Sphinx have roots more in the Greek myth than Egyptian. If you are familiar with the Oedipus story whereby an oracle foretold a father his son Oedipus would kill him and a series of events led that to happen. Without knowing he killed his own father and then marrying his own mother, once he found out, he could not bear the sin and gouged out his own eyes. On his journey he met a Sphinx who told him a riddle and the wrong answer would mean he will be eaten. The riddle is similar to the culprits in which the answer is human. So the next target is a place with lots of people? Thinking it is an address, they believe the DNA research facility is the target. Meanwhile Lisa is reading the story of Oedipus when Twelve plays that Coke-Mentos prank on her. He then warns her that she might be their accomplice but not one of them. Rat them out and she will die. Shibazaki calls Kurahashi to give his opinion on the riddle. There were 2 versions of that myth. Because the culprits mention 2 legs in morning, 4 legs at noon and 3 legs in evening, the answer is Oedipus. He began as a human, became a beast when he did those sins and walked with a cane after becoming blind. And since they said it is a riddle for the police, the numbers 2-4-3 coincides with the Roppongi’s police station address. Right at that moment the bomb goes off. Too late. Kurahashi tells him a highly confidential matter about the stolen plutonium. The same mark was found on a bomb casing fragment after the government building explosion. He believes those 2 are really intent on standing against this country. He wants Shibazaki to come back.

Episode 3: Search & Destroy
Hamura doesn’t like the idea some guy from the archives is going to lead them. But they trust in him because he was one of the best detectives of Section One. Twelve wonders if their riddle was too hard to solve but Nine believes the police are on to them as he saw counter-terrorism units in the news. After this one, they will know. Police are reviewing the footage from the CCTV of Nine entering the Roppongi station. Kurahashi gives Shibazaki a sketch picture of what is supposedly the culprit (with a fake name of course). No photos because apparently someone deleted it at the facility. The police interrogate an experienced crane operator about making such mistake. He won’t talk till Shibazaki comes in and mentions about his gambling habit and a certain debt collector who didn’t show up. He starts panicking and confesses. Seems he was offered 2 million yen to do the job from some anonymous online user. He got half of it when he accepted. The curious part is how the culprits know his account number without asking (of course theirs is a fake account) and it is as though they are purposely leaving traces of evidence behind. Then a new uploaded video from Sphinx with yet another riddle. They have until 10am tomorrow before the bomb blows off in a building next to the dwelling god who solved the riddle. Shibazaki analyses the culprits’ words and actions. It may have something to do with Oedipus, local shrines and swollen foot (the meaning behind Oedipus’ name). Meanwhile Lisa cannot stand her insecure mom’s shake up and runs away right before she discovers. Bye-bye.

When Mukasa is playing some online game slaying dragons, it hit Shibazaki. He is requesting some bold move that would seem provoking the culprits. Although he would like to take responsibility but in reality it would fall on his commanding officer (Kurahashi), he hopes Kurahashi would do something to take the blame. Hope this idea better works. Shibazaki uploads a live video to answer Sphinx’s riddle. Using Oedipus origins he wasn’t a god and his mother descended from a water dragon, coupled in with some versions had him limped all his life, he figures they are referring to the limping dragon called Arahabaki. It has roots in the local myth and although a god of war, metal working and feet, at one point it had no shrine to call its own and wandered. Thus his feet got tired and started limping. There is an Arahabaki related shrine here and it is the Shirahige Shrine in Katsuhika ward. Showing the abandoned building next to it, the bomb diffusing squad is seen dismantling the bombs safely. Shibazaki then continues to be provocative. He warns not to get carried away with their childish behaviour. What they are having isn’t a toy and if they are planning to use that trump card, he will hound them to the ends of the earth! At that point, the police cut him off as it is deemed a direct provocation and too dangerous. Well, that is why Kurahashi is to take responsibility, right? Nine and Twelve are impressed they manage to deduce this time and they notice that with the squad wearing hazard materials suits, it shows they have definitely linked them to the plutonium theft. Hamura talks to Kurahashi about who this Shibazaki guy is. 15 years ago, a secretary of a Diet member jumped off a hotel balcony. Top brass said it was suicide but Shibazaki didn’t buy it. He investigated and linked it to some conspiracy of a faction leader who once worked at the Metropolitan Police. So that is how he ended up in the archives since he has a family to feed. No choice, he had to accept top brass’ decision but he hasn’t forgotten or let go of it.

Episode 4: Break Through
Lisa is now wandering in the streets. Look at the endless miscalls from her mom! Scary! It was a good thing she ran away, huh? The police are in another briefing of the materials used in the bombs and how the culprits use fake identity and credit card to buy things from a legitimate company. In short, ironically the more clues they have about them, the less they seem to know. Shibazaki goes to Aomori to see Yoshihara Ebisuno, the person who employed one of the culprits. He shows the sketch to get more information. The kid doesn’t talk much, always have a headphone on listening to music from cold country and when asked about his dad, he kept silent. After he returns, it seems many people don’t remember even him working there. Like as though he is a ghost. Shibazaki believes no matter how good they are in erasing evidence and tracks, they can’t erase human memory. Besides, he was there just to have a feel of what the scenery they saw, the air the breathed and the sounds they heard. Sphinx uploads another video and wants the police to play their game to beat the bomb. Or else the invisible bomb will go off. Using the Oedipus myth again that he descended the staircase to Hades, it seems the internet is like an underworld and there is a link that connects them to a page where a timer is counting down. They need to input the correct password, which is the name of the person who the sayings are referring to. They have till midnight. Oh, and no cheating. The police work hard and they have gathered from surveillance camera. They deduce the same person entering Roppongi station and some building to be the same. They’re going there. Hamura tells Shibazaki they have found the culprits’ hideout and to stop keying in the password. However Shibazaki leaves the raid to him and continues inputting because this time the culprits told them to stop the bomb instead of finding it. Hamura is pissed with his attitude because he is just like those kids, thinking this is a game.

Nine knows Twelve has been keeping tabs on Lisa although he promised not to get involved. He can tell she has run away from home and thinks there is a chance she might go to the police and rattle them. So Twelve goes to see her and although she wants to be left alone, she has no place to go. She felt like an idiot. Back then, she thought of running away with him and expected to lead her out of this world. Didn’t happen. Expected too much. Will anybody take her away? She runs away but into a couple of police who question her for being out this late. Twelve zooms by on his bike and Lisa doesn’t hesitate to jump on and ride off. Meanwhile a full police and SWAT team are swarming a building. It just hit Shibazaki that one of the clues of “Know thyself” and when he entered his name, the password is correct. However the bomb doesn’t stop. A footage shows the police squad storming into the building and because they cheated, the invisible bomb goes off. All the classified information on the terrorist attacks is uploaded onto the social websites. You lose. Lisa asks Twelve if they are going to destroy the world. He laughs. She laughs. Hasn’t felt this good laughing for a long time, eh? When Twelve brings her back, Nine immediately says no. Twelve argues she could be an asset as she is an unseen face but Nine doesn’t trust her. They have no time. For dramatic effect, Lisa collapses. I think it’s real.

Episode 5: Hide & Seek
Lisa wakes up as she hears the guys talk. Nine doesn’t want to keep her and once her fever is gone, out she goes. She will be a liability. Twelve is kinder since he believes she has nowhere to go but Nine reminds him nothing good comes to those associating with them. Suddenly all their handphones ring. I don’t know if Lisa did anything but she was told she was lucky because it was connected to the fire extinguisher. Had the fuse been connected, the bomb inside it will explode. She faints upon hearing that. Back to dream land. Meanwhile a pair of American FBI agents sees Kurahashi. Nine and Twelve disguise as maintenance service and place a fire extinguisher with the bomb in a train. When they come home, they smell fire! Lisa cooking?! Does she know her cooking is smoking the entire room?! And what does she mean she messed up a little?! That’s basically total cooking failure! Nine accuses her of trying to prove her worth so she could say. However she is still feverish and is sent to bed. Twelve notes at least it is better than their food at the orphanage. He can’t remember the taste and as though eating was a task. Sphinx uploads another riddle for the police. The place where the angel receives FEZ 5889 punishment. Shibazaki instantly recognizes that number. It is the police file records. Since they have hacked their system and data, they must have got their past data too. Looking through that archive, it is a report about corporal punishment of a high school making its student run in the sweltering heat for arriving late. Looking at the Bible this time about Samael which is also known as the red serpent, what does a snake look like in real life? A train. And the red train belongs to the Shinjuku line. Twelve wonders if the riddle is too easy this time. Nine purposely make it so that Shibazaki can figure out the bombing connections. And he already did. All the locations that the bombs were placed, the head of that building or organization once participated in a seminar known as Rising Peace Academy, a non-profit organization seeking to promote interaction between the government and people. It attracted lots of important and influential people.

As the 8pm deadline looms, Nine is baffled that there is no report anywhere that action is taken to remove the bomb. They notice all their handphones are experiencing interference and thus no signal. Shibazaki confronts Kurahashi about their no-action. Seems orders from the top said it would send a special assault team and the rest will be on standby. This means they are to do nothing. Before a mass murder can happen, Nine tries to hack back into the train system to find out where the train is while Twelve is on his way to remove the bomb without being seen. They deduce somebody is behind this interfering with it all. As though that person doesn’t want the bomb to be stopped and let it blow up. Nine is surprised he cannot trace the train as multiple IDs of the train appear. Somebody is feeding them fake data. Suddenly his laptop is being hacked externally. Nine remembers traumatic memories of the orphanage and thinks he knows who is behind this. He uses a new laptop to hack. When he determines the train’s position, he quickly dashes out because he is the nearest. Once the train stops at the station, Nine drops a smoke bomb and the public panics there is a bomb as they rush out. Nine goes in but sees a girl sleeping with her headphones on. As he tries to reach for her, the bomb goes off. Don’t worry. They’re okay. Nine and Twelve’s handphone rings a message. They know it is her. Five. She has found them.

Episode 6: Ready Or Not
Five is pretty happy herself since she is confident she can catch Nine. In another police briefing, it is reported there are no casualties although many are injured. Also, Kurahashi mentions the FBI are going to be on this case and to give their full cooperation. Another nightmare wake up for Nine. Discussing with Twelve, they believe she wants to continue the game they started back then and won’t let them get away this time. Lisa wants to help. Instantly shot down by Nine. He shows her footage of the train’s bombing. This is what they do. Can she do it? The best she can help is to stay out of their way. Shibazaki talks to Kurahashi when he was summoned away halfway in the previous briefing. He explains he went to the top brass’ office. The top dogs were quiet as he was introduced to FBI agent Clarence and a nuclear researcher, Five. They know plutonium was stolen and the American government is very concerned and those culprits are the ones planting the bombs around. They have solid evidence of that. Kurahashi wants to see those evidences so he can arrest them but Five laughs and ridicules him. They were running around and they couldn’t even catch them and worse, they let their data get leaked. Best joke of the year. Shibazaki knows what they’re doing the other day is to force the culprits to reveal themselves. What happens if they are pushed to a corner and decided to use their trump card? Not good. Soon another Sphinx riddle. But it’s not from our usual duo as a certain somebody is impersonating as them and sending the riddle of Julius Caesar going to Arab to everyone’s handphone. It is easily deduced as some Caesar code. Using the numbers, it is the coordinates of Haneda Airport. A second message is purposely misspelled as “VON Voyage”.

Nine and Twelve know what she is doing and they are caught in a catch-22 situation. Because if they go there to stop the bomb, they will be caught in the act. If they don’t and the bomb goes off, they will be blamed. They can’t go out and reveal anything because it’s the terrorist’s words against the police. Who would you believe? Shibazaki is suspicious about this Sphinx’s message. Is it really them? The chief calls everyone to gather and another top order not to do anything. Don’t do anything you’ll regret. Shocking, eh? On pretence to get food, we know Shibazaki is not going to sit still. But Hamura and the other guys also know he is going to do something and ‘joins him for dinner’. Nine and Twelve know that the airport is laced with CCTVs everywhere and must move on the assumption that they are being watched. They need someone they won’t recognize. Ah, clumsy Lisa coming in… No. Just no. Oh, come on. They need someone to act like an amateur and who best fits this? Lisa puts her foot down that she wants to be part of the group and will do anything. Okay. But they’ll be moving separately. The guys infiltrate as airport maintenance members. Five and her crew are keeping close tabs. Her underlings are so slow in retrieving data that she does the job herself. She traces them quickly as the personnel records do not match. Are they getting sloppy? Once they change their outfits and appear at the lobby, the screen changes to the layout of the airport. It is divided into squares and Nine recognizes this is chess. She wants to play chess using the airport as the board and also continue that game from that day. Their winning move will reveal the bomb’s location. Nine does a mental image of the moves and soon the guys separately make a dash to their next spot. Let the game begin.

Episode 7: Deuce
Shibazaki and co arrive but they see numbers on the screen. He thinks the terrorist is playing games with somebody intended with and that they are here. They also deduce the message from the fake Sphinx was intended for the real Sphinx. It could be somebody from the police planting the bomb and they are better off looking into what the police are doing. As they snoop around, they find the airport staffs have been told to show those on screen by the police. And there was a big police truck coming true. It must be hiding somewhere so as not to attract public attention. Twelve manages to escape from the cameras and hide in the blind spots. Enough time to change into police attire while Nine continues to run around playing the chess moves. It’s time for Lisa to make her debut. Can she do it? She’s a bundle of nerves. While Twelve enters some computer main server terminal to mess with something, Lisa sets off a flare in the toilet which in turn sets off the alarm. However Five spots Lisa because among the crowd, she is running away and so nervous she is that she bumps into everybody. Caught you. When Five notices the discrepancy in the time in the video and in real time, she rushes out but Nine points a gun at her. He knows where the bomb is. She also can tell how Twelve switched the cameras to recordings 5 minutes earlier and is now heading to the bomb. However she also knows there is someone who caused that diversion. Five didn’t know he made friends but this means his weakness has increased. She will make sure she will have the best seat for the fireworks. Clarence catches Lisa and points a gun at her. Come with him. The airport police arrive and open fire but Nine escapes. Five tells her goons to stay put. She didn’t order them to move.

Nine meets up with Twelve but it seems the bomb is not at the spot. Suddenly Lisa calls Twelve. A man brought her into a plan and locked her inside. The bomb is here and it is moving towards their location. It is the reason why the bomb couldn’t be found. It is a moving bomb. Who is piloting? Nobody. They know somebody is auto-piloting the plane and this can only be done at the control tower where Five would be. However they cannot go close to it as it is heavily guarded. Nine thinks of causing a scene to evacuate the public. But what about Lisa? They can’t abandon her, can they?! Only one thing left to do. Nine calls Shibazaki and tells him about somebody setting up the bomb to frame them. He wants to use him to get into the control tower to stop it. It is for both their benefit to stop the bomb. Never thought he heard a terrorist say that. Shibazaki and his men push their way through but only Shibazaki get through. Nine drives a cargo cart while Twelve calls Lisa to do the necessary preparations. She opens the hatch and needs to jump but the bumpy ride causes her to slip. Don’t worry. She is hanging by the harness she made. Now it’s too tight to untie. Shibazaki reaches the control tower and points the gun at the control guy to move the plane away. Five is not happy her plan is derailed and is going to make him regret this. Lisa unties herself as she falls into Twelve’s arms. They steer away and the plane does so. Once time is up, the plane explodes. Shibazaki sees Sphinx below (in their mask of course) and he can’t chase them since the panicking control tower members are blocking the exit trying to escape. He is only left in frustration as they got away. Five isn’t defeated yet. She has got her hands on Lisa’s student ID card and won’t let her get away next time.

Episode 8: My Fair Lady
Shibazaki and co are being reprimanded by the chief. Everyone is suspended for 3 months and off the case except for Shibazaki who will be suspended indefinitely. He tries to mention about somebody framing Sphinx but the chief won’t hear a word further. Hand over your badge. Shibazaki talks to Kurahashi and it seems the latter had to go through a lot to reduce his punishment. They know that woman is going after her. Who is she? She doesn’t look like some mere nuclear scientist. Kurahashi tried finding out but everything points to her being transferred from ISA, an intelligence agency. So what is a spy doing in a plutonium theft case? Lisa wakes up alone back at the hideout and is warned not to go outside. However she receives a courier package. A message says, “BOMB”. Oh sh*t! The guys are coming back from an errand wondering if they should change their hideout since Lisa’s face is known. Then they see Lisa rushing out before the entire building goes boom! Clarence warns Five about going too far because their priority is to secure the item. Nine and Twelve use an abandoned video game centre as their new hideout. Twelve wonders if they should quit while they still can. Nine wonders if he is scared because of Lisa. He should remember where they came from and has he forgotten what they must do? Lisa could have died then and all the more reason not to let her get involved anymore.

Shibazaki does more research on Rising Peace Academy and there was this Athena Project they conducted. He visits Mukasa to request a file of some politician’s kid involved in some assault case that was settled out of court. He then goes to see him to seek more information about this programme of providing special education for gifted children. He won’t say and claims some national secrets act. Shibazaki mentions about his son and shows picture proof he might be at it again. Blackmail? Well, he is already going to get fired so he couldn’t care less. From Mukasa, Hamura finds Shibazaki and joins him in his detective work walking from one place to another to question people regarding taken children from the orphanage over the country with high scores from a test. Oddly nobody seems to know where the children end up but a nun they questioned remembers a government official handing her his card. Shibazaki calls his cyber crime unit’s colleague, Kinoshita to snoop around on the name of Souta Aoki. It is discovered that Athena Project involved pharmaceutical companies, neuroscience research labs and vanguard medicine organizations. The project was cancelled 7 years ago. Twelve sees a letter from Lisa. Goodbye note. She must have heard how a burden she was and ran away. But Five is watching her from the street CCTVs. As she wanders in the street, several agents pick her up. Lisa wakes up in Five’s place. She knows all about her from running away from her mom and running away from the boys. She wants to help them but if they unleash their next plan, there is no going back. So tell her everything. Lisa spills everything from the time she met them at the government building and the choice of dying or become their accomplice. Five tells her she should be better off dead. She further insults her as a stupid girl dragging the guys around. Lisa tries to be tough. She can do anything to her be let the guys walk free. However Five tells her that nobody cares about her life in which an ant’s life is worth even more. Does she think they have a future? Nine warns Twelve about looking for Lisa. They receive a message from Lisa’s handphone. It’s a picture of her. Instantly they know Five has got her and it is a trap. It’s different this time. They have no time. It is precisely why he is going. Nine pleads him to stay. Don’t leave me? Unfortunately he chose the girl over his best friend. Doesn’t this seem like real life?

Episode 9: Highs & Lows
Nine is in his secret lab making preparations. Shibazaki and Hamura are at Aoki’s house. This widower looks helluva gloomy. I can guess why. Shibazaki wants to know more about Athena Project but Aoki mentions the name of the former deputy minister of health and labour. He died 3 years ago because he wanted to bring those responsible to face prosecution. This is warning that they walk away now if they want to walk freely in the streets. Shibazaki won’t and tells Hamura to go away. He won’t either. But see his shaking hands taking out the recorder? The explanation begins. Aoki mentions about savant syndrome, condition that demonstrates abnormal capabilities in a certain skill. In exchange for being good at that skill, they often pay the price in the form of an inability to communicate with others. The goal of Athena Project is to find a way to artificially bring a person to a similar savant syndrome state. 26 children (all without names and only identified with a number) with high IQ scores were taken as test subjects since a pharmaceutical company at that time stumbled upon some drug. When Rising Peace Academy found out about it, they launch this project, poured funds into it and hired the best scientists all at a place called Settlement. Because the drug was only effective in children no older than 5 years old and a normal person could not withstand the drug’s effect, their bodies and mind became broken and eventually died. When the US government discovered this 7 years ago, they intervened and cancelled it. Only 1 child survived and was the US took custody of her. However there were 2 others who escaped. They set the facility on fire and ran away. That was 8 years ago. Today they would be 17 if they are alive. They might not have enough time left in this world. He said all this now because he knew eventually someone like them would turn up or else he would have carried it to his grave. Hamura becomes upset that he can say all that with a straight face. He is not human. Aoki agrees. Merely just a pawn powerless to oppose the hand that moved him. And the hand was? Dr Shunzou Mamiya. The politician guy who demoted Shibazaki.

Twelve is seen entering the amusement park. He sees Lisa tied up in a Ferris wheel carriage and wearing a bomb vest. At that moment, the timer begins and the wheel moves. 8.5 minutes. He remains calms and tells her to do the same as he tries to disarm the bomb. One down, more to go… Clarence isn’t pleased of what Five is doing because no matter how pro a bomb diffuser is, nobody can diffuse so many bombs in such a given time. If he is killed, they will lose their lead on the item’s location. She tells him to shut up. She has a big headache right now. Traumatic nightmares? Or stress, I suppose? Lisa apologizes for causing them trouble all the time. Don’t be. Twelve apologizes instead that he got her into this. He shouldn’t have picked her up. He knew this would happen eventually. Lisa makes her resolve. She wants him to save himself and go to Nine. He needs him. There is something they have to do so go do it. But he won’t leave her. Five calls him and says what they stole wasn’t plutonium but a nuclear prototype developing in secret. Let’s make a deal. Tell us where the location is and she’ll stop the bomb. She further plays mind games with him that he betrayed Nine for Lisa and is he going to let her die in front of him? Because Nine isn’t going to forgive him. But if he doesn’t want to tell, it’s fine. They can die like lovers. In the dying seconds, Twelve blurts out the bomb in a school locker. The special squad storms into it and Nine knows Twelve has tattle on him. He takes what is needed and escapes. Five becomes desperate and orders Nine’s capture at all cost. Target lost. Those headaches coming back again? Yeah well, she collapsed. I guess playing such a game can be too stressful if it doesn’t go your way.

Episode 10: Helter Skelter
While Five is in ICU, Nine turns himself into the police. At first nobody believes till he puts on his mask. It’s him! Nine only wants to speak to Shibazaki but since he is suspended, Kurahashi will listen in his place. Nine has a demand. He wants a press conference at 8pm where he will tell all. Kurahashi tells his top brass about this but they don’t trust him. However Kurahashi will take full responsibility. Plus, this is the first time Sphinx has demanded something and has been keeping their word every time. When Five wakes up but still weak, Clarence told her Nine has turned himself in and she is not too happy. She will not let anyone else have him. Meanwhile Shibazaki goes to see Mamiya. Hamura wanted to come along but was sent on a wild goose chase to buy cigarette packs for him (he should have guessed something is wrong when he visited 8 outlets all of which not having the cigarette brand he specified! 8 freaking shops!!!). Shibazaki is ready to face whatever consequences as the frail and sickly Mamiya explains about Japan still reeling from their lost dignity when World War 2 ended. They wanted to create people with superior intelligence and senses, raise talents that would far be more useful than any weapon. That was what Athena Project was for. The project failed but he considers the children gave their lives for the country’s good. Shibazaki tells him to cut the bullsh*t about the country’s good because they took away their childhood and destroyed their lives for their egos. News of Sphinx’s press conference reaches everyone. Lisa and Twelve are bumming around. What are they going to do? Twelve takes her to an amusement park and they have fun? Twelve fears he has betrayed Nine and cannot face him. Lisa for once ‘scolds’ him that she was happy when he came for her but now his partner is in trouble. If he goes to Nine, she is sure he will be happy too.

Shibazaki requests to speak to Nine but Kurahashi can’t do that. Only a selected few get to interview him and that Shibazaki is suspended. However he slips him the secret location of the press conference. Clarence calls the top brass and ‘understands’ that they rather negotiate with terrorists instead of assisting the US government. Can’t answer that, can’t he? Five suggests taking it by force but Clarence reminds their relations with the Japanese government have been strained since the airport incident. Five believes an attack by an unidentified armed force will do the trick. Five takes over the operation and has all police vehicles leaving the stations traced. An unidentified van attacks the escort but it is empty. A decoy. This tactic allows Five to eliminate and determine the true escort that Nine is in. She drives like a hell driver to personally get him. When she is up to the van, she opens fire, deflating a tyre and killing the driver. Kurahashi in the other front seat has a hard time steering and crashes. With all the officers out, Nine frees himself and starts running. But here comes Twelve on his bike serving as a distraction. Before he crashes, he drops a bomb that puts their car out of commission. Clarence points a gun at Five. He is taking her off the mission. He has enough proof to dismiss her after her various illegal conducts. While he is messaging to his men, Five shoots him with her hidden gun. Five comes chasing Nine in her car but the latter shoots back, enough to make her crash. Walking up to him, Five says she has never managed to beat him. That was all she wanted. However the time she had left was far too short and it was because of him she managed to live this long. He was her reason for living. Now it’s time for goodbye and hopes to see him on the other side. So live for her. She quickly kisses him, walks back to her car and fires at the tank. Boom! It is already 8pm but Nine hasn’t shown up at the press conference. Suddenly a video of him is seen on all screens. In this pre-recording video, Nine mentions the press conference is cancelled thanks to outside interference. This message was set up to play automatically if this happened. The last bomb that will go off at 10pm is a nuclear bomb. No one can stop it. Goodbye Japan. Nine takes off his mask at the end of the video.

Episode 11: VON
As the mass evacuation of the region begins, Lisa finds Twelve messed up and treats him. Shibazaki believes something is off. Sphinx isn’t just any terrorist because so far they have not killed anybody and have a specific goal. His daughter calls him, worried if he is in the midst of evacuation. He assures her he will after he has done his work. I guess you can’t beat a workaholic. Because his daughter is taking some physics subject in university, he asks if it is possible for a nuclear bomb to detonate without being killing anyone. As long as it is detonated in the air and it was done before by Americans. How will a nuclear bomb get into the air? Hamura deduces via balloon. So the police start scrambling for any balloon launched during the announcement was made and found one that matches. Although the radioactive will disperse into space, the electromagnetic waves will still cause a massive blackout. But there is another problem. Airplanes in the area are not equipped with electromagnetic protection and if get caught will crash. The US army is probably the only one with such technology. So it is a race to get all 250 planes in that are to land immediately! Even a couple of JSDF jet fighters are sent to chase it but the balloon has floated up so high that they can’t follow. Lisa is relieved that Twelve is fine. So what else better than to spend the rest of the time together and wait for kingdom come. Twelve explains they were raised in that dark orphanage without knowing their parents. Even when they escaped, it has always the 2 of them. Nobody needed them. That’s why he wants to thank her. By 10pm the bomb explodes. Everyone is awed by the big explosion in the sky. The most different ‘fireworks’ they have seen if I should say. Subsequently all electricity and anything electronic are cut. In the darkness, Nine sees something like Aurora lights in the sky.

In the aftermath, Nine visits the abandoned orphanage and hammers to the ground a wooden tombstone for Five. Lisa and Twelve arrive and the latter wants to explain but Nine knows only he was the one capable of throwing that bomb. Thank you. Friendship reconciled. What are a bunch of kids going to do hanging out at this place? Play ball (Lisa is a joker) and listening to music. But it seems they’re not just hanging out for fun. They are waiting for Shibazaki to come and he doesn’t disappoint. He deduces this is where they came from and wanted to show the world about this place. With everything that has happened, everyone’s attention is on them because they will be curious who is Sphinx and where they come from. Given the magnitude of it, nobody can sweep it under the rug. Creating this was their goal all along. They intended to get caught. The duo add that they needed someone who would figure it all and catch them. That person is Shibazaki. He is their Oedipus. He arrests them as Twelve mentions Lisa is just a hostage. Suddenly American choppers hover over the place. How did they find them? Nine takes out a detonator and threatens to blow up a bomb in a nuclear power plant. The army relay his message back to their boss (Clarence?) but he tells them to carry out their duty. Even if the bomb is real, there is nothing they can do as the mere existence of someone knowing the truth about the airport and highway incident will put them at a disadvantage. But spare the detective because if he accuses the Japanese government, the attention from them will be turned away. Twelve is shot and killed. Nine is furious and is going to press it but Shibazaki signals he will talk to him. He convinces Nine they have put their lives on the line and not to waste it. Everything will be revealed in the trial. Nine gives the detonator to him and leaves everything else to him. And most important of all, don’t forget them. His final headache gets worse and he collapses. A year later, Project Athena becomes known to the public and the world as Mamiya and Aoki are in a high profile prosecution. Lisa prays at the grave of Nine and Twelve. Shibazaki is on his way to do the same and stumbles into her. Lisa tells him she has asked Nine about the music he was listening to. It was from Iceland and the word VON is the Icelandic word for hope.

Terrorizing Our Hearts And Minds
OMG! OMFG! I just feel so sad. My heart just sank so much that I was just in tears when it all ended. But to summarize my feelings for series, it was a blast! Pun not intended but it was very awesome. Including the explosive finale. Uhm, pun intended? Every minute of it was just intense and interesting that when it was over, I couldn’t help feel a sense of emptiness. Yup. One of the very few series that actually made time fly. I want to say that this series is perfect but in reality, there it isn’t so because there may be a few points it made me left pondering like the lifespan of the orphanage trio. I’m not sure if they know exactly when they will die but it feels like they know they have not long to live. But where were they between the closure of the project and orphanage and now? Why did Five eventually choose to show up after all these years? Maybe she doesn’t know the whereabouts of Nine?

And now that everything is over, is Lisa living back with her crazy mom again? After all that craziness has happened, perhaps her mom’s case is just a mild one? And did Shibazaki and his fellow colleagues just get a slap on the wrist because after all the dangerous investigations that are akin to opening the Pandora Box, they should have been in some sort of trouble. But I guess with the world now focusing on this atrocity, I guess they are not in focus right now. Ah, so many of such questions but despite all that, I believe this show is still superb and the execution and flow of everything was greatly and nicely done. Easily this would be one of my favourite series for not only this season but all-time as well.

Curiously enough, the flashback of Nine, Twelve and Five’s past during their time at the orphanage isn’t given much prominence. I thought with the flashbacks and snippets of it from time to time, ultimately we would see the entire picture somewhere at the end or maybe an entire episode dedicating to it. This was not the case. I suppose just like Project Athena itself, these aren’t given much focus and somewhat just serve as a means to an end. Because basically if I think about it, there might be nothing much to it and I don’t think I want to see a bunch of young children getting tortured and going through so much pain in addition to the terrorizing pace of this series. They were just sufficient enough to drive the story forward. Besides, I don’t think it will be fair to suddenly jump on us that there is another survivor (which of course there isn’t). I don’t know if my heart can take it if that kind of twist happens.

The interesting aspect and main draw of this series are the riddles, its execution and the race to solve it before anything untoward happen. As the riddles from Sphinx are deeply rooted in Greek mythology and the Bible, it seems that in order to understand and connect their riddle, you need to be well read and knowledgeable in these areas. For a person like me who know nuts about anything, in a way it takes away some parts of the enjoyment because you’ll need it if you are going to fully appreciate and understand where they are going and what they are implying. Shibazaki himself is a smart guy and experienced detective although I am not sure if I can say he is knowledgeable about such stuffs because from what I can see, he spends lots of research time on it although it does not show here.

So it is not the case of him suddenly pulling out answers from the air because we have a limited air time in each episode or something. This way, it makes the series go at a faster pace instead of wasting time wrecking brain power trying to guess if it is correct or not. Because my guess is that most of us won’t really arrive at such detailed and cleverly thought out answers like him. I think. But don’t you agree? As for the riddles themselves, they are worthy enough to keep you guessing and hold your interest till it is solved. The action parts are lesser but still intense and exhilarating enough in its own right. The ironic part is that there were no casualties! No deaths! Until the penultimate episode when Five took desperate measures. I think it is safe to say the police escort became the first victim followed by Five and finally our Sphinx duo.

The characters are excellently portrayed, each with their own flaw. It is a bittersweet tragedy for the fate of the duo to end up like that but either way, they know they have not much time left. So they weren’t just a bunch of kids messing around with everyone just to have fun or just for the sake of wanting to get attention or making a mark they were here and lived on this planet. True, they wanted attention not because of selfish reasons. All they wanted was a place to belong. All they wanted was for people to remember them and the atrocity that took their very lives and existence that would otherwise be forever lost in the darkness of history. I suppose this was the only way to get people to talk about you and become some sort of sensation. Because otherwise, nobody gives a f*cks about you or anything else in this world. And Lisa was the first person to do that. That’s why even though when they initially don’t trust her, she is eventually worthy enough to be saved.

It is debatable if their methods of getting attention is right or wrong but you notice that they don’t mindlessly kill people and at times, they become heroes and saviours instead! Therefore it is ironic and ‘interesting’ to see ‘terrorists’ start saving people. It’s like seeing the devil forgiving and saving people from their sins. They know what they want and a mindless bloodbath massacre wasn’t it. After all, they are not such bad or rotten guys like those corrupted people at the top when you get to know them. So who are the real antagonists? Sphinx? Five? The people behind Athena Project? I think I know the answer for this one. It goes to show that terrorism itself comes in different forms, shapes and sizes. And in most unlikely of places where you least expected them to be. Especially in Five’s case where you could say that terrorism comes in the form of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Lisa feels like the weakest link among the group. Heck, for the first half of the series, it feels like she is irrelevant to the storyline when Sphinx were playing the main antagonist. You even question why the heck did Nine give her a choice of becoming their accomplice or die because after that, he leaves her out of from their operations and she is reduced to an unimportant character bumming around. As though it would have been better if she was just left for dead. Just like every other character, Lisa has her own set of problems. All she wanted was to belong somewhere, a place to call her own. I suppose her own home is out of the question because who would want to have such insecure psycho mom? She thought hanging out with the duo would be a better option but it didn’t actually solve her problems. Eventually she grows ‘important’ enough for the guys to see differences in what they consider important and this affects the choices they make and its outcome. Despite playing minimal roles even that airport accomplice help and getting abducted by Five are considered minor, Lisa is still an important character and helps drives the plot of the series.

Five is easily one of the most vile and despicable antagonist that viewers would love to hate. Aside from her twisted goal, this woman really puts the fear in you. Yeah. Literally resonating terror within you. She is intelligent. She is strong. She is domineering. She is dictating. She gets what she wants. You can never beat her. You can never stand up to her anyhow. You can never win (at least not if you’re a wuss of a weak heart because really, she isn’t for someone with a faint heart to deal with). Because she is one cool cat who won’t be cowed or easily swayed by your pathetic thoughts and opinions. Hers is always superior. No doubts about it. Thanks to her no compromise attitude, it makes her go as far as possible. Basically she is like a one (wo)man show who can do everything herself although she prefers her lackeys to do some of the mundane jobs like monitoring the CCTVs and such. Therefore she is no pushover and truly worthy to be one of the ‘best’ antagonist of all times. Don’t mess with her. Enough said. And thinking about all the things she did just to get Nine, she might after all be in love with this dude in a twisted way. Yeah. That.

Shibazaki is also a cool guy and a great detective thanks to his experience and his own belief on justice. Just too bad that the system didn’t like it and set him aside. Even guys like him are powerless. But at times like this, this is where guys like them set out to do what they have to without looking back. Unlike many who would simply jump to conclusions, he thinks deep and hard because as we know, terrorists think differently unlike others. It is great for the police to have this guy on their team. Even Sphinx acknowledges him. Mukasa might seem to be falling into the dumb cop category because of his obese appearance and his penchant to spend time playing video games, watching useless web videos and eating doughnuts (ah, classic cop favourite) instead of doing his archiving job and sometimes it is as though his role is to be some sort of comic relief. However if you look closely to it, there are a handful of times when he becomes Shibazaki’s ‘saviour’. At the most unlikely of times, when Shibazaki is often stumped on Sphinx’s move, unintentionally Mukasa gives him the most important clue that propels him to take the next step. So he is not that all useless.

This series also teaches us a good lesson in making us think what is morally right or wrong. There are so many scenes that just make you stop and question if it is right or not. The most obvious one coming from Five and Clarence’s operative measures. Despite coming from a so called trusted government agency, Five’s obsessive actions just to get Nine makes her act like the biggest terrorist and thus the main antagonist for the second half of the series. Even more so, she uses her authority and deploys all the resources at her fingertips just to catch a guy and at the expense of the innocent public. Most of us would definitely scream abuse of authority and muscle arming to get what she wants but if you were in her shoes, what would you do? Then there are others like the top brass of the Japanese Metropolitan Police kowtowing down to the American counterparts. They become silent when Big Brother starts issuing directive. For the sake of diplomatic relations, eh? Well, yeah. Again, what would you do if you were them?

And of course some morally challenged stuffs that our other characters do like Shibazaki who really goes all the way out and even uses the controversial blackmailing technique just to get what he wants. Is this the right way to do it even though it increases the chances of him nailing the culprits? Were there other better options? But would it be as fast and effective? And when cops get suspended for disobeying a direct order and go off themselves to do what they believe is right instead of standing around and waiting for stuffs to happen, it throws everything off in what you believe in righteousness and justice. Then there is Kinoshita from the cyber crimes unit who is supposed to prevent cyber crimes and not conduct the crime itself. We can see him deliberating on this morality issue because of wanting to hack and snoop on Shibazaki’s request as he has a loving family to think about. I’m sure you can guess the dilemma he has to go through. And don’t get me started about Lisa as a bully victim at the start.

The art and drawing has a surrealism feel to it. It is not your standard anime bishonen and bishoujo looks with characters having cute wide sparkly eyes and the likes. At first it reminded me how much the art resembles Aku No Hana although this series was not done in rotoscope fashion as in the latter. It isn’t Zexcs animating this but MAPPA, the studio that produces animes like Teekyuu and Sakamichi No Apollon. Still, the characters look and lean more towards realism than your typical anime art style. One reason could be because of the very gloomy and dull colours. It creates quite a depressing atmosphere over the city and ultimately the anime itself. This isn’t actually a bad thing after all since after watching too many ‘colourful’ animes (colourful hair, colourful eyes, colourful clothes, colourful casts of characters, colourful etc), this is somewhat a ‘wake-up’ call.

Also, I want to add that because of the surrealism, some of the characters look from just plain to downright inhuman or should I say, ugly. The ‘ugliest’ of the lot goes to Mamiya whom I thought at first impression looks somewhat like a little monster. Serious. Some felt weird like Five’s white semi-afro hairstyle that enhances her creepy effect and to a certain extent, Twelve’s smile if you stare at it too long, you might find it creepy. Serious. And Kurahashi’s buzz cut make him look a bit funny… Serious too!

You know how they say that stereotyping is bad because it leads to assumptions. That is what I did as I expected the songs of the series to be rock or metal. I don’t know how to put it because they sound really weird which also adds to the creepy effect. Trigger is the opening theme by Yuuzuki Ozaki of Galileo Galilei fame. It is slow and well, just creepy. Same case for the ending theme, Dare Ka Umi Wo by Aimer. Creepy and ominous. Even the insert songs especially those that are sung sound just as creepy. Oh yeah. Creepy is the word of this series. However the instrumental piece for the final episode is so sad and it was the big reason why my heart sank. It was just sad :’(.

On a trivial note, thanks to the ‘tough’ riddles that Sphinx provided, I can’t help notice that each episode title (which is in English), has a letter coloured out in red as opposed to the rest. It got me thinking there must be some sort of riddle and clue here so I decided to ‘join in’ to solve this puzzle in hopes I would be amazed at myself for achieving something which I normally would. As I gathered the alphabets and symbols, I couldn’t piece together anything because it just doesn’t make sense. Heck, I even searched online and found a site with all the theories and conspiracies trying to decode of what it might imply: Terror In Analysis. How aptly named. However… Although it is very well thought out and thoroughly analysed, it is one freaking long analysis to read! And as usual, I’m too dumb to understand it all but kudos with such great work even though in the end, everything might be just pure speculation and just a wild goose chase to throw us off. Yeah, blame ourselves for assuming things and then getting paranoid just thinking too much about it. They were just screwing with our minds and nothing much ado about anything actually.

Eventually it all boils down to this. Even terrorists are humans too. Unless they are downright mad and are big time sadists, such big time act of terrorism isn’t actually done for fun. Heck, it is never really fun if you are the one at the receiving end. This anime is one of the terrorism themed shows that make you delve into the mind of how terrorists think. Even if not deeply but it gives you a perception on the way they work and how they outsmart the system. That thought itself is terrifying, isn’t it?

So even if you hate the notion of another terrorist themed series or have some sort of phobia of watching this type of genre, I would strongly recommend watching this one because this series isn’t just some over the top exaggeration action hype kind of show (because some believe explosions are everything there is to a great action movie). There is a great deal high quality entertainment-cum-enlightenment in this series that you would rarely find in animes or other TV series these days. This one has some brains, a level of maturity and in a way connects to our emotions in the most realistic ways. It will definitely resonate in our hearts for a long time to come. It is one of those shows whereby you will eventually root for the ‘villains’ not because you sympathise their cause, have Stockholm Syndrome or have something against authorities just because for the sake of doing so, but rather it makes you reflect on ourselves as humans and the things we do in life. Despite the sense of hopelessness and all the anarchy, conspiracy, lawlessness happening around the world today, little things like these gives us hope that there is still hope and future for mankind. Bomb voyage!

Nobunaga The Fool

February 27, 2015

Oh dear. Not another Nobunaga anime adaptation. Can’t they get enough of him? Can’t they put him to rest already? But wait. Something about Nobunaga The Fool attracted me to watch it. This Nobunaga adaptation isn’t a gender bender one in the sense that the mighty unifier of Japan is turned into a woman, so where is the motivation to watch it? Furthermore, there are mecha elements and that itself is already a put off. So what is it? They mix it in with western historical figures! Wait a minute. Me, interested in that? Okay, not generally. But I really thought how cool it is to see the likes of Nobunaga and the other warring state generals with Joan of Arc, King Arthur, Leonardo Da Vinci and Julius Caesar. Yeah. It’s a mishmash and clash of both very different civilizations.

As the story goes, this fantasy setting whereby there are 2 worlds, namely the Western Star and Eastern Star. Both worlds are embroiled in turmoil and endless fights. There is something that could revolutionize and save the world and thus bringing peace but such is only known to a ‘heretical girl’ who envisioned a saviour that would save both planets. She embarks on a mission to find that saviour but it turns out the saviour is the ‘greatest fool’ of the land. Well, did anybody ever tell you never to judge a book by its cover?

Episode 1: The Star
In 1431 France, Jeanne Kaguya d’Arc is about to be burnt at the stake. I suppose she was praying to God when she heard a voice calling her as Ranmaru. If there is a world after this one, that is where they shall gain dominance. She views him as the Saviour King. Jeanne wakes up in tears yet again dreaming this dream. Similarly, Nobunaga Oda wakes up from another dream whereby his trusted aide, Mitsuhide Akechi betrayed him. Their world is currently fragmented and embroiled in clan wars. Nobunaga is advised not to miss Nobukatsu, his brother’s coming of age ceremony. Rendezvousing with Hideyoshi Toyotomi, they notice a large force from Shingen Takeda is making their way to their border. Nobunaga deduces that they might be just testing waters by testing their ability to mount an immediate response. Nobunaga goes to warn the border fortress. However they don’t believe him since Nobunaga has racked up a reputation as a fool. They are pretty confident this fort can hold whatever attack it may come. Of course needless to say, the end result is obvious. Nobunaga is stunned and shocked at the magnitude of their lost and annihilation. Back on the Western Star, Jeanne is still the target of rumours since others believe she is demon possessed. Leonardo Da Vinci approaches her, claiming to serve King Arthur. He lets her choose a tarot card and she picks out the star. He knows about the voice that speaks to her and invites her on a journey to the Eastern Star and find the king who shall save both stars. Riding on Magellan’s ship with the pretence to test out his new Giant War Armour, when Jeanne sees another vision, Da Vinci figures it is time to move. They hijack a Giant War Armour down to the Eastern Star before Magellan could do anything. Nobunaga is reeling from this big defeat and it makes him more determined to bring changes. He isn’t going to run away. Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi agree to follow his dream. A shooting star crashes nearby and it turns out to be a ship from the Western Star. Nobunaga enters it to check it out and follows a certain scent which leads him to unconscious Jeanne. A couple of Giant War Armours are approaching the site so Nobunaga climbs into the cockpit (with unconscious Jeanne). He hears a voice (Da Vinci) about only the true Saviour King can operate this machine. And you could have guessed it. He activates this machine like as though he is a natural. Jeanne wakes up and believes he is the Saviour King.

Episode 2: The Lovers
Operating it doesn’t seem so easy, though. He is told to synchronize himself and be one. Jeanne points her knife at his throat but at that position, can she even make a decent kill? Nobunaga throws her to the back. The enemy Giant War Armours open fire but Nobunaga easily slices them. Jeanne is convinced he is the Saviour King and came to this planet to meet him. The machine shuts down after the fight. Da Vinci introduces himself before Nobunaga and his men. He whispers to Jeanne about Nobunaga being the Saviour King. They need to find out the truth then. Meanwhile King Arthur’s round table discuss about Da Vinci’s betrayal and his intentions on Eastern Star. Gaius Julius Caesar offers to take the duty of bringing Da Vinci back because he possesses a wide knowledge on Giant War Armours and can pose a serious threat to them in the future. Nobunaga and co ride a trailer back to their castle at Owari. Mitsuhide is surprised the Western Star had such Giant War Armours at their disposal unlike on this planet they are rare. Nobunaga mocks Jeanne’s mission to come to this star to fulfil a destiny because it seems like she is following somebody’s destiny. She has no choice or else a disaster will befall on her star. And nobody knows what disaster it will be. Sounds like a wild goose chase, huh? Nobunaga thinks of naming his Giant War Armour. Because he is deemed as a fool by everyone, he decides to call it The Fool. I don’t know about his naming sense but at least it sounds unique because you’d be tired after hearing all those majestic names. Mitsuhide warns they may unleash something undesirable if they continue using the machine. Nobunaga is not cowed. If it unleashes hell, he will become the demon king. Da Vinci gives Nobunaga a timepiece as token of their friendship. So what does he want in return? The truth of this universe. Nobunaga welcomes him to serve them but Mitsuhide believes Nobuhide and his retainers will surely have something to say. Besides, Jeanne is a woman. Nobunaga doesn’t mind till he is reminded about his sister, Ichihime. Nobunaga wants Jeanne to dress up as a man and will call her Ranmaru. Nobunaga crashes into his brother’s ceremony to inform a fortress of theirs have fallen. He gives Nobukatsu the timepiece. Warning that they could fall to other clans too, this is what he proposes. He shows off The Fool and Nobuhide wonders if he has intended to make himself to king of this star.

Episode 3: The Chariot
Shingen thinks of testing Nobunaga and prepares to head off in his Giant War Armour, Fuurin Kazan. Mitsuhide tries to persuade Nobuhide to accept the Western Star’s services. However they believe bringing in the barbarians will only speed up their destruction. They think they are spies for Shingen. Mitsuhide will take full responsibility but they won’t hear anymore. Nobukatsu invites Ranmaru to join him for archery. He speaks of the lack of resolve he needs to shoulder the burden unlike his brother. He pleads to Ranmaru to be by Nobunaga’s side and take care of him since he is often misunderstood. Can’t say no to that, can’t she? Da Vinci discusses with Nobunaga about the need to infuse The Fool with some Regalia to account for its weaknesses. News break out that Shingen’s forces are coming. The Oda forces are low in morale. I mean, how the heck are those foot soldiers going to fight those Giant War Armours? Nobunaga gives them a much needed lift. He fires his arrows through the cockpit window and hits the pilot! Bull’s eye! Now it’s time for the big action. The Fool versus Fuurin Kazan. During the fight, a nearby house catches fire. Ranmaru sees several children trapped and she goes to save them. However the fire blocks her exit and her trauma of being burnt by flames paralyzes her. Nobunaga uses The Fool’s sword swing to cool down the fires and save her. Shingen thought he turned his back on the match but Nobunaga was just biding his time. He was waiting for the rain to fall. It isn’t just to douse the fire but to call forth the lightning which is a manifestation of a Regalia. Queen Himiko of Yamatai is responsible for that Lightning Regalia and if Nobunaga accepts her terms, she will gladly give it to him. Nobunaga realizes too late the words he is made to recite is actually a vow to marry her! So in addition to getting this Regalia, he’s got a wife too. The Regalia powers up The Fool with awesome accessories that make it look much better than its original plain generic design. Really. And now for the big power clash. Fire and… Lightning?

Episode 4: The Magician
The Fool has better endurance than Fuurin Kazan. But after that lethal strike, The Fool goes offline. Shingen also withdraws seeing his machine is also at its limits. Everyone boards Himiko’s flying vessel, Ameno Torifune for a ride back to Owari. Mitsuhide tells Nobuhide and the retainers about Nobunaga’s marriage. They feel relieved that with this strategic alliance, others won’t attack and use this time to strengthen their defence. Nobunaga doesn’t believe in this and wants to launch a surprise attack. As both sides are logger heads, Da Vinci suggests holding a betrothal ceremony instead of a wedding as cooling off period. Of course this infuriates Himiko. Jeanne spars with Nobunaga in a sword fight. She doesn’t handle the sword well since she lacks focus and still feels guilty over that fire incident. He tells her off how she won’t be able to kill with that mentality. Because this world as at war and only those who create their own destiny will survive. Himiko interrupts them and is suspicious about Ranmaru. She unrobes her chest and confirms she is a woman. Nobunaga tells Himiko a secret so she won’t say this to anyone. Then the ladies get on each other’s nerves with strange rumours of each other’s planets. Mitsuhide talks to Da Vinci about if anybody else could pilot The Fool. Hideyoshi wants his own so Da Vinci will think about it. Jeanne couldn’t sleep that night as she kept dreaming the kids call her a demon because she was able to foresee danger (though she warned them about it but it fell on deaf ears). She talks to Ichihime and yells out her earnest opinion on Nobunaga as a big idiot. That felt good, didn’t it? Ichihime doesn’t feel sad to have a fool as her brother because others just do not see his true self. Nobukatsu talks to Nobunaga and envies his carefree way to live and feels people will be crushed by the expectations of him. Nobunaga doesn’t like this kind of talk. The commoners have to pay to see the betrothal ceremony (a disguise used to collect military funds). Himiko is in a western wedding dress and Nobunaga dresses up like a fool! The grand show begins with Ichihime singing. Himiko wants a passionate kiss (I thought she didn’t like western stuffs?) but he carries and swings her around like he used to when they were kids. To cut the cake (a giant castle?), they use the majestic sword swing of The Fool! The electricity discharge may have shocked some. Literally.

Episode 5: The Tower
Caesar is down on Eastern Star. He gets captivated by Ichihime’s beauty and vows to take Oda’s castle. Nobuhide is still not impressed with Nobunaga showing off The Fool because the enemy size is not the issue but how their men feel. Nobunaga is still adamant and will show what The Fool can do. He plots to destroy Fuurin Kazan. Himiko is visited by Ichihime who brings a message from Nobunaga. Disappointed not her betrothed in person? As he is busy making plans against Shingen, Ichihime is here on his behalf to learn how to activate the Regalia. She refuses and will tell it to him personally. So Nobunaga creates a bond with his blood and now can activate it. Jeanne ponders if Nobunaga is the Saviour King or just some destructive beast. Da Vinci thinks it is their destiny to find that out. When it is time to move out, Nobunaga prepares to ride The Fool. Nobuhide wants him to slay him if he is still bent on going. Sorry, he isn’t into slaying weak people. Suddenly Nobunaga drops dead! Actually, he is paralyzed by a drink. With Shingen’s forces closing in, Nobuhide goes into battle. He has Nobukatsu defend the castle and Ichihime to continue believing in Nobunaga no matter what. Nobuhide faces off with Shingen as Nobunaga regains his consciousness. He realizes this is part of Mitsuhide’s cunning plan. He purposely poisoned his drink to avoid him going into battle as he heard about assassination rumours on him during the battle. He suggests waiting for the right time for him to go into battle and save the day. Which is about now. Nobuhide loses but here comes his son to the rescue. The fight Shingen has been waiting for. Suddenly a third party crashes in. Caesar is going to help Shingen. After a powerful blast that pushes The Fool down, he dashes ahead. Nobunaga can’t go after him since Shingen is going to take him on. Nobuhide gets up to defend the castle. By the time Ranmaru assists Nobunaga to get the better of Shingen, Caesar stabs Nobuhide! Mission accomplished? Nobunaga becomes filled with rage that it’s enough to blow everything apart. It’s like he had become a raging monster. Nobuhide in his dying breathe has a few things to say. Well, even if father and son don’t get along, they are still father and son. Regretting this? Not as much as Mitsuhide who believes it is his fault for miscalculating and made a terrible mistake and Jeanne who thinks the disaster was on Nobuhide instead on Nobunaga. So once the old guy is gone, angry Nobunaga is again filled with rage. Heads are going to roll.

Episode 6: Strength
As Ichihime narrates, the death of Nobuhide means outside forces will see this as an opportunity to attack whereas respective supporters of Nobukatsu and Nobunaga will clash. Nobunaga is clearly missing even from his father’s funeral rites. The retainers want Nobukatsu to continue with the rites as they have waited long enough. Suddenly Nobunaga barges in and dressed as a fool. He takes Nobuhide’s ashes and scatters it around. One of the retainers, Hayashi is going to slay him for his uncouth behaviour when Nobunaga seemingly summon the wind carrying sakura petals. Then he just left without a word. Mitsuhide wants Hayashi arrested for committing treason against the clan lord but nobody dares to move. Hayashi makes his own way to the dungeon. Jeanne cannot take more of this and packs her bags to leave. Himiko couldn’t be happier. She tells her that she is unable to grasp Nobunaga’s vast potential and unless she is strong enough to see his goals and support him, she cannot hope to stay by his side during these war times. Nobukatsu talks to Mitsuhide about Nobunaga being a better clan head. But he would like to protect his land and not let his people suffer anymore. Though the retainers are oppose to Nobunaga to become the next head and pushing Nobukatsu to be the clan head, Nobukatsu assures he doesn’t have any intention of pushing Nobunaga aside and seize power. Nobukatsu plans to agree to this plan temporarily to unite the clan and then step aside for Nobunaga. Mitsuhide in his monologue views Nobukatsu as a great ruler who cares for his people. It would have worked if he lived in a different era. Because unless Nobunaga leads them, this hell cannot be tamed. He who has vowed to follow the demon lord will also become a demon. He is going to snipe Nobukatsu. But his hands are shaking… Jeanne on her way in the woods hears a loud cry. Is it a beast? This leads her to see Nobunaga underneath the waterfall and screaming his heart out. So is she having a change of heart? She then spots a sniper trying to take him out. Before she can do anything, Himiko takes the shot and dies in his arms, glad she has fulfilled her duty as his wife. The sniper got killed by female ninjas. Similarly, Nobukatsu is lying in his own pool of blood.

Episode 7: The Hierophant
Mitsuhide remembers seeing his father committing seppuku as he pulls the trigger. As Nobunaga brings Himiko in to seek treatment, Mitsuhide with a heavy heart announces Nobukatsu is dead. Everyone is gloomy. Nobunaga blames himself for being worthless. Isn’t that why he is called a fool? Even Jeanne is feeling down and talks her problems to Da Vinci. So she’s staying? Caesar talks to Shingen about what he did and he views Shingen an important ‘business partner’. Nobunaga and his retainers are discussing those responsible behind the assassinations. Many accuse Shingen so Nobunaga decides to go ask him directly. He is going to just talk and not fight. Meeting Shingen in person, Nobunaga asks him straight if he ordered those assassinations. Shingen denies. Okay. That’s it? How can he believe him so easily? Because that resolve is written all over his face and that it is not his way of resorting to cowardly tactics. Shingen has Nobunaga join in his hospitality by serving sake. And then they go fight. What? I thought they said no fighting? Oh Jeanne, you can’t understand how men think. No one is to interfere in their fight so their power battle rages on and are both on equal footing. So great that their powers cause a great mist. Conveniently blocking any witnesses of what is about to happen, huh? In the end, Nobunaga defeats Shingen by stabbing him in the chest. Shingen admits defeat and gives him his Fire Regalia and wants him to go conquer the Heavens and Earth. However before he can hand over his Wind Regalia, Caesar stabs him from the back and his little servant twins, Nell and Bianchi still that Regalia from his hand. Nobunaga knows advantage is not on his side and flees. Shingen’s men are in grief over their lord’s death. Caesar paints Nobunaga the bad guy that he cowardly killed Shingen from the back and fled. He promises them revenge at all costs. Just going as planned…

Episode 8: Wands
Shingen’s advisors give Caesar read a letter from Kenshin Uesugi that was supposedly for Shingen. Nobunaga informs his retainers that it wasn’t Shingen who did the assassination and could be some outside force trying to take advantage of it all. The main priority now is to attack Caesar and take back Wind Regalia. Nobunaga asks Da Vinci more about Caesar. He is one of the brothers of the Round Table under Arthur sent to investigate the Regalia because the ley lines of the Eastern Star is more volatile, to find those who can master it. Da Vinci goes technical in his explanation. In short, he believes there is a strong correlation of the Regalia’s power and the willpower of the one using it. The problem in storming the castle is that their forces will be outnumbered. Hideyoshi suggests building a fort overnight and Da Vinci thinks it’s not impossible. Before Nobunaga leaves, Jeanne sees a vision he got killed by Caesar. So why doesn’t she just say it if it’s going to bother her a lot? Caesar tries out the Wind Regalia but nothing happens. It must be because Shingen has left its bond to Nobunaga. The only way is to kill him to nullify the bond, take all his Regalia and get the princess. The Oda forces surprise Takeda forces with their overnight might. As they head into battle, The Fool comes into the picture. Caesar thinks it was a distraction and will handle him while the army storm the castle. However when they reach there, it is empty. The castle is just a hologram projection. Takeda forces get wiped out. The battle between the Giant War Armours begins. I thought it is rather odd to see big robots riding big metal horses. I mean, WTF. Is this even necessary? Nobunaga surprises everyone by combining his Regalia and it wields a new different power. Suddenly out of the blue, Caesar stabs Nobunaga just like in Jeanne’s vision. I guess she was desperate to save him so she rushes out into the battlefield waving the white flag. You think Caesar cares? She prays so hard for the Heavens to protect Nobunaga and suddenly this power itself manifests into another new power for The Fool. Caesar loses Wind Regalia to Nobunaga and he unleashes all the elements on him. Yeah. He got burnt, blown away and struck. What an unlucky way to lose. With Oda forces obtaining a big victory, Jeanne vows to protect Nobunaga with her life.

Episode 9: The Moon
The citizens’ spirit are renewed after the victory of Caesar. Da Vinci has created another Giant War Armour built from other parts from such machines salvaged during the war. Orleans is for Jeanne to pilot and maximize her protective Regalia. Meanwhile Caesar sees Kenshin and fights him just to gauge his strength. Mitsuhide still has nightmares over Nobukatsu’s death. Jeanne pilots Orleans fine but it seems she cannot activate her Regalia and Nobunaga finds her annoying to be at this state. Then the news came in. Caesar has formed an alliance with Kenshin. The citizens prepare to leave in droves as they believe they will not stand up to their attacks. So much for having faith in your leader. Kenshin and Caesar personally speak but it seems Kenshin doesn’t like Caesar. Unlike Shingen who possesses the true warlord spirit, Caesar doesn’t and his eyes look deceiving. Mitsuhide’s spy informs him that Shibata and Hayashi are trying to make another move again so Mitsuhide has no choice but to take action. However he his hand still trembles. What is he scared of? His hands are already tainted in blood. Ichihime comes in to talk and calm him down. Nobunaga shoots arrows at Jeanne as he believes her Regalia will activate if faced with a mortal threat. As long as she is the way she is now, her Regalia will not respond to her will. He tells him of his desire to move forward for the Heavens and Earth and unify everyone under his rule. Yet is she still indulged with her selfish desire to protect him? He wants her to take a deep look at him to see how great a man he is. What did she see? The universe! Oh sh*t! He is really that great! With renewed resolve, her Regalia activates and protects her from Nobunaga’s strike. Meanwhile Mitsuhide is shocked to hear the retainers wanting to make Nobunaga their clan lord and then surrender to Caesar as they believe war will annihilate their clan and it is better to preserve it this way. Of course Nobunaga won’t have it this way and gives his piece of mind about such cowardly method that doesn’t deserve protection. How can submitting to the enemy protect their name? He will transform their resolve into strength and those who disagree slay him now and take over. Everyone bows down to him and since all the citizens heard (thanks to Da Vinci’s loud amplifier), they rally behind their lord. Feeling great now, huh? Ichihime gives Nobunaga a gift from their father once he becomes a true man. An empty bowl. It signifies presence and absence and thus totality. He greatly accepts it.

Episode 10: Temperance
Takamagahara is a sacred and neutral place and it locates a bridge that links to the Western Star. The Round Table guys do not understand why Arthur is sending Giant War Armour to Caesar when he has failed. But they are going to punish him if he disappoints them again. With Oda clan now unified and growing stronger, Caesar doesn’t understand why Kenshin isn’t going to strike them. Why did they form this alliance in the first place? Kenshin doesn’t want him to misunderstand. It seems he loves war and chaos. For it to be beautiful, it must be big and continuous and that’s why he let Nobunaga grow instead of crushing him when his forces are weak. In other words, the better the foe, the more worthy it is to be crushed. And more beautiful. Nobunaga gets word that Giant War Armours are being sent by Western Star and will be reaching Takamagahara. Caesar hears Nobunaga is going to attack them with a large army and so he prepares his. However it is just a diversion as Nobunaga and Mitsuhide infiltrate the very lax security of Takamagahara and plant bombs. Similarly, Hideyoshi and Jeanne do the same but plant transmitting devices. Jeanne couldn’t understand why Hideyoshi can eat at this time. He explains he had a sister and died by the Oda clan’s hands. They were very poor farmers living from hand to mouth daily. Due to the war, all their harvest was taken by the army as tax. They were left to starve. His sister was already weak but it was also good in the sense she didn’t have to put up any struggle. At first he hated the Oda clan and wanted revenge. He joined the army just for that. However he realized Nobunaga is a great man and decided to follow him. However if he ever shows signs of weaknesses, he’ll not hesitate to kill him. He wants Jeanne to keep this a secret. Finally the security detects intruders but they’re all easily dealt with. The device is activated and from what I understand, this Da Vinci’s invention allows them to control and gather the power of the ley lines that makes handling Giant War Armours difficult. Then they hijack the Western Star’s Giant War Armours. But one of them has Marcus Junius Brutus piloting it as he smashes his enemies. Hideyoshi climbs into one and starts piloting but is weak. He doesn’t mind dying for Nobunaga when that big man mocks his weak resolve to kill him. He knows about it. Hideyoshi decides not to only follow him but to become a great man who will stand by his side and shape this era together. Nobunaga gives him the Wind Regalia. He activates it and his Giant War Armour becomes like that legendary monkey king. Inclusive of that cloud flying stunt. He easily defeats Brutus. Once the victory is achieved, the decoy Oda forces retreat and Caesar realizes he has been fooled this time.

Episode 11: Death
Caesar talks to Brutus and they confirm Jeanne is that girl from Domremy village who can listen to the Heavens. The question is what did she hear and it could be Da Vinci’s plan from the start. With Nobunaga’s victory, neighbouring countries are in a dilemma to form an alliance or attack him now. Nobunaga has also ordered the evacuation of his people because he knows Caesar will come and attack soon to prevent them time from mastering their Giant War Armour. Jeanne is confident Orleans can protect everyone but Nobunaga is not so certain to rely solely on her. Soon Caesar’s forces attack and won strategic points that surround Nobunaga’s headquarters. Hayashi and Shibata perished in those battles. Nobunaga, Jeanne and Hideyoshi ride their Giant War Armour into battle. However it heats up and it takes time for it to cool down. They discuss Caesar’s light spear as the main problem. Mitsuhide suggests baiting Caesar to use it once as it takes time to recharge. Orleans will deflect that first shot before Nobunaga and Hideyoshi go in for the final blow. Everything goes according to plan. Caesar finds the recharge slower than usual because Ameno Torifune carries the ley lines absorbing device. But when Caesar refuses to be defeated, the dragons of the land respond to his wish and give him immense power. Now this cannon shoots ominous red beam! Orleans goes to deflect it but the power is so great that even Jeanne is screaming in fear. This causes the beam to scatter in different directions all over the place, destroying everything. The twins love watching this and even wish for more deaths. In the aftermath, Jeanne sees how the citizens have perished and becomes traumatized. It was like the death tarot card she pulled earlier. She blames herself as death. Nobunaga hugs her and doesn’t think so. Because he was the one supposed to pull it and thus he is death. Caesar won’t kill them because it’s his policy not to kill woman (?!). But this explains he knows Jeanne’s identity. He claims victory over this war and further strife is meaningless. He wants Nobunaga to submit to him. However Nobunaga invites him to a tea party and they will settle it there.

Episode 12: The Fool
Caesar accepts and calls his troops to a temporary ceasefire. While preparations are underway, Nobunaga now understands the words of his father to understand his men. He learnt the lesson the hard way. As for if Caesar will play dirty or not, Nobunaga views this is the best time to test him and figure his intentions as well as the Western Star’s. If he asks for the Regalia, he will of course refuse to give it up. Because he believes Caesar is looking for someone who can control the Regalia. If he had only been after the Regalia itself, he could have killed Nobunaga anytime in the war. Ichihime will be the host of the tea ceremony so she teaches Nobunaga the customs. They will be using the empty bowl. Back at Caesar, he is in a dilemma. Capture Nobunaga and bring him to Arthur or defeat him and take his Regalia. Because his true goal is to make Nobunaga his ally and defeat Alexander. The tea ceremony begins and Nobunaga doesn’t want them to be too stiff or formal. How else can you enjoy the tea, right? Nobunaga begins by asking about Arthur. Caesar believes he is the Saviour King who will save this world. Arthur aims to use the Regalia’s infinite powers to create a Holy Grail to save this world from certain destruction. Failure to do so means the world will end. Caesar wants Nobunaga to surrender all his Regalia and join forces with him. In exchange, he will assure his land and people under his protection. However Nobunaga refuses because he still doubts if he would do that after handing it over. But Caesar replies this discussion is unnecessary for Nobunaga is not the one who will save the world. At that moment, Jeanne interjects and objects to it. She is certain she saw Nobunaga in her vision being the Saviour King. Could there be a possibility of 2 Saviour Kings? Nobunaga says he will live the life he wants and not change the way he lives. At first he thought he wanted a Giant War Armour, thus the hijacking. He realized what he wanted was the ability to pilot it. The Western Star must have been providing Eastern Star with such to find those with ability and it so happen Nobunaga and Caesar vied for each other. He believes now it is not the time to fight as it will bring destruction to the stars. When will they settle their score then? When he faces Arthur. Caesar proposes a temporary truce and as proof of his goodwill, he will protect his land and people with all his might. But in exchange, he wants Ichihime’s hand in marriage. Shocking! Nobody saw that coming, eh? They think it’s like holding her hostage. But Ichihime will answer this herself. She agrees to it as long as it will save her people, land and even Eastern Star. Hey, even Caesar is surprised by this. But if he fails to live up to his promise, she will take his life even if it costs hers. So is he up to it? Suddenly a crack is seen on Western Star but Mitsuhide is still reeling from the shock.

Episode 13: Ace Of Swords
Ichihime… Crying alone… Regret? Mitsuhide spars with Nobunaga. The latter still has not given up on his dream to unify Heaven and Earth. If he fails, he wants him to cut him down. Calamity is befalling on Western Star. Arthur and the Round Table discuss of Caesar’s treason. Some want him beheaded but there are those who believe he is just deceiving his allies so that he could bring everything back to Arthur. Thus even more reason to believe Caesar will backstab them. Due to the little time left, Arthur gives the green light to invade Eastern Star. Caesar also tells Nobunaga about this invasion because their ley lines are weakening. Nobunaga agrees to strike swiftly and fight their way to Arthur. Later Mitsuhide confronts Jeanne about her visions. Are they just illusions to manipulate Nobunaga? She explains about this ability she had she was young. Nobody believed her to a point they think she is the one causing the misfortune. So when she sees one, she chose to remain silent. Till she saw Nobunaga as the Saviour King. If this comes true, it will erase the feeling that all her visions only bring misfortune. That is what she really wants to believe. Da Vinci demonstrates some system that enhances the abilities of Ameno Torifune by resonating the Regalias and thus allows Himiko to cross the sea of stars. The ship is powered up and Nobunaga renames it as Azuchi, the peaceful land. Mitsuhide seeks Da Vinci’s thoughts about visions. He is then shown a painting that represents the truth of this world but Da Vinci can’t say more than that. Hideyoshi speaks to Mitsuhide and knows he likes Ichihime. He encourages to speak his feelings but I don’t think it’ll be that easy. Because Ichihime comes from a warlord clan, she accepted the proposal because it is her duty. But she is the one suffering the most about having to go to Caesar and he should understand where she’s coming from. Now it’s Ichihime’s turn to talk to Mitsuhide. She thanks him for being there, things could not be the same without him, etc. He in turn apologizes for not being able to protect her. She will go to Caesar tomorrow for her people and star. That’s why she wants him to stay by Nobunaga’s side. His dream is now hers. She gives him her comb and if anything happens to her, she wants him to bury it at Bodaiji Temple. Although he accepts it, he promises he will not let anything happen to her. Yeah. Send his ninja ladies to do the job.

Episode 14: The Empress
Hannibal Barca and Charlemagne are approaching Eastern Star. Caesar is sad that Ichihime is not smiling so he introduces to her chocolate cake. Who doesn’t love chocolate cake even if it’s their first time tasting such sweetness? As Da Vinci shows Nobunaga some contraption about compressed frozen air, Hannibal and Charlemagne drop down in their Giant War Armour, freezing the lake they stand on. Nobunaga of course goes to engage them but Hideyoshi underestimates them and gets frozen by their freezing combo. Hannibal has frozen the citizens and threatens to take their lives if Nobunaga does not hand over the Regalia. Jeanne jumps in between. She will hand over hers in exchange for them to stop. Hannibal gladly orders Charlemagne to release the hostages. Yeah. He released them alright. Release their lives. He smashes the ice. It’s raining blood. Jeanne is devastated that she didn’t keep her promise but Hannibal reprimands her for citing Nobunaga as the Saviour King. Arthur is the only Saviour King and that disrespect has her deserve a million deaths. Jeanne throws her Regalia to Nobunaga. But he can’t do anything since Hannibal is putting her blade at Jeanne’s throat. Charlemagne cuts up Nobunaga who is reduced to a sitting duck. Before he could kill him, Caesar fires his cannon into the sky to disperse the clouds that is the source of the duo’s amplified powers. Hannibal is not pleased Caesar has betrayed the Brotherhood but it seems he decided to follow his wife’s wishes. What good would a husband be if he doesn’t? Oh, you don’t know… Ichihime wanted to go to war but Caesar wouldn’t allow her. He also won’t attack since it would mean betraying the Brotherhood. However Ichihime throws him the ultimatum. Choose. His wife or his master. This sounds familiar in real life… And so Caesar is willing to cast away everything in the name of love! Hannibal orders her henchmen to finish them off but here comes Kenshin to turn the tables. They are going to finish off Hannibal when Charlemagne won’t allow her beloved to be touched. He rips out her cockpit, gives her his Regalia and then sacrifices himself by destructing his Giant War Armour to send Hannibal flying back up into space to be retrieved by their comrades. Although Hannibal has Jeanne in her hands, she vows revenge over Charlemagne’s death and will burn that planet down. She will also flay Jeanne alive but Cesare Borgia won’t allow it and stabs her! Join your beloved in Heaven.

Episode 15: The Hanged Man
Nobunaga and co are heading to the Western Star to rescue Jeanne. Cesare reports the deaths of Hannibal and Charlemagne killed by Nobunaga. Later he tortures Jeanne in hopes that she will acknowledge Arthur as the Saviour King because people will believe her words as a prophet. She will not budge but before he can torture her further, Niccolo Machiavelli wants to handle it from here. Mere physical torture won’t do. This girl must experience some mental torture too. She brings Jeanne to her home village and makes her walk through the town. Everyone hides in their homes. Crucified in a chapel, Machiavelli brings her old friends and let them explain the misfortune she has brought. She continues playing mind games from Jeanne at all the persecution she has been suffering from. Also, her parents have been exiled from this village ever since she left this star. They didn’t even do anything wrong. The only way to escape this is to acknowledge Arthur and become his wife. Jeanne won’t be cowed and has always believed Nobunaga is the sole Saviour King. Da Vinci couldn’t understand why Jeanne is brought to her birthplace so the twins report that they heard she is going to be executed. Jeanne is to be burnt at the stake and everyone in town is forced to watch. Why do they have this guilty feeling then? Machiavelli talks to Jeanne one last time. Her goal is to inherit her power. Whether it can be or not doesn’t matter. After she dies, she will lie to the people that she has obtained her power and they will believe her. Besides, the other reason she is brought to this village is because she can’t kill Jeanne under Cesare’s watch because he wants her alive for her power. Jeanne sees visions that this village will burn down. The people think it is the devil’s work and start running. Mist descends on the place and it is Nobunaga and co attacking. The attack is just a diversion to clear the way for Nobunaga to save Jeanne. The village is further engulfed in flames and Jeanne can’t bear to see the people die. Nobunaga lends his Regalia to her in which she activates the wind but the flames are too big. Her earnest determination to live as a normal human being is probably what puts out the fire. Cesare and his men arrive. Hand over Jeanne. No can’t do. Nobunaga doesn’t care about the prophecy and won’t hand over Jeanne as she is his retainer. Suddenly the villagers form a line to prevent Cesare and his men from taking Jeanne. They let them escape. Trying to make up for the awful things they did to her? However after Nobunaga and Jeanne retreat far enough, the land starts acting up and it turns all buildings and people into nothingness. Jeanne wallows in despair and Nobunaga thought he saw some horrifying vision.

Episode 16: Ace Of Cups
Arthur notes that with the Eastern Regalia wielder and the girl who sees visions appearing, the Western Star enters a new era. And when the 12 chosen are assembled, the ultimate Regalia called Holy Grail will appear. In the near future, its sacred wielder will also come to the Round Table. But will the Holy Grail or their destruction come first? Jeanne starts to wonder if Nobunaga is the Destroyer King instead because all this happened when he came into contact with this planet. Nobunaga hides Jeanne in the crevices of the dark cave to fool Cesare and his men chasing them. Then they go back out the same way they came in. Nobunaga mentions the nightmare he often saw as a kid. He was enjoying killing his people. He thinks Jeanne is more of a Saviour King than him because ever since they’ve met, he has forgotten about his nightmares. She has saved more lives than him. Whatever king he is called, he will still follow his own path. The village then crumbles to reveal an ancient temple underneath. It has familiar symbols. From Da Vinci’s theory, these pillars (known as Pillars of Hercules) are those that connect the stars. They plan to use its power to propel Azuchi back up into space and back into Eastern Star. Mitsuhide rides down to retrieve Nobunaga and Jeanne while Caesar and Hideyoshi stall Cesare’s army. When Caesar strikes down Cesare, he isn’t aware that he planted some bomb in his armour. Nobunaga is ambushed by Machiavelli who is obsessed in obtaining a Regalia because she believes this is her ticket to enter the Round Table. Mitsuhide stays back to stall her and let Nobunaga and Jeanne up Azuchi. When Mitsuhide cannot make it in time, Caesar dives down to get him but the bomb activates and disarms his armour. Azuchi warps out into space. Arthur notes the awakening of Pillars of Hercules that links both stars. It is the fanfare announcing the imminent restoration of the Holy Grail.

Episode 17: The Hermit
As Himiko tries to go get Nobunaga, in her weakened state she falls off Azuchi. Nobunaga dives down to save her and they wait on a little island before Azuchi picks them up. Da Vinci analyzes Himiko (as a painter, he is quite acquainted with a naked body of a woman) and although he detects something, he relays to Nobunaga that she is just weak from using too much power and needs to rest. Caesar and Mitsuhide are captured by Cesare. Mitsuhide is beaten up when he gets worked up after Cesare badmouths his father. This prompts Caesar to think his father is his weakness. Why would a smart guy like him work under Nobunaga? He isn’t fit to seek dominion, can’t use a Regalia so a strategist is the best he can be. His ambitions may be a means to shake off the shadow cast by his father. Nobunaga talks to Himiko about meeting when they were younger. It seems to be a sacred place between life and death and the ley lines converge where Yamatai priestesses seclude and train themselves fighting monsters within their soul. Nobunaga happened to wandered lost there and he ‘slays’ some monsters to make her smile. Nobunaga might not remember because the barriers may have tampered with his memories but for a mortal for him to live, it proves that the ley lines accepted him. She chose to become his bride not because of that but because she fell in love with him at first sight. Later Himiko talks to Jeanne and hates how she can pretend and hide her feelings even she is by his side as though nothing happened. As a woman, she declares war with her over Nobunaga. Jeanne also does the same because she too loves Nobunaga. The fool has got another set of wars waiting for him… Meanwhile Alexander is summoned by Arthur. It is time for him to move and wreak havoc on Eastern Star. To reward his loyalty, Arthur shows his face. It looks pretty normal but I guess it was ‘beautiful’ enough for Alexander to cry. As Caesar is set free, he mocks Mitsuhide one last time that he doesn’t deserve Ichihime. He tells him to take a good look at himself in the mirror. He can’t even confess to her. He isn’t worthy of her for Ichihime is wiser and nobler than him. Caesar will be the one who can bring her happiness. Bye. As Mitsuhide ponders about things, somebody attacks the guards and throws a key to set him free. Mitsuhide takes the chance. Could be the work of the twins… Alexander and his men take off heading to Western Star. Da Vinci speaks to Himiko and knows he power is getting faint. She also knows that her life is short. Just like all the other Yamatai priestesses before her. She cannot escape this fate and doesn’t want Da Vinci to tell anybody about this. Not even Nobunaga. In exchange, he can have her body and dissect and experiment on it as much as he wants. She’d like to be the last to suffer this fate.

Episode 18: The Emperor
Mitsuhide stows away back to the Eastern Star. Chandragupta leads the attack on Takeda and Kenshin’s land. However Kenshin easily kills him. I didn’t expect they got rid of this Indian dude so fast. However Kenshin lost when he faces off with Alexander. Alexander then goes around planting stuffs in the ground and when the 5 points are linked, the Holy Grail will emerge. Ichihime runs away from the guards with her ladies in waiting. Mitsuhide becomes the fast and furious to take them all out. They are glad the other is safe. But save that for later because Mitsuhide must warn Nobunaga not to engage with Alexander. Too late. Nobunaga could feel his hands shaking when he stands before Alexander. Is he afraid? Alexander is not impressed by his flashy show but no substance. Even if Nobunaga uses his Regalia, not a scratch on him. How disappointing. His Giant War Armour, Gaia is absorbing the ley lines’ power and at this rate the planet will die. Nobunaga turns into a demon and wants Hideyoshi and Himiko to lend their Regalia to him. However the power is too much for him to handle and the Regalia is devouring him. When both their swords clash, it sends shockwaves like an atomic bomb! Woah! Definitely this planet is doomed. Though, Nobunaga succeeded in breaking Alexander’s hammer but he’s going to die anyway. Hideyoshi fights Alexander so Jeanne can bring Nobunaga to safety. Alexander is disappointed that Hideyoshi still choose Nobunaga as the Saviour King. Alexander then rips apart Hideyoshi! He is barely hanging on to his life! Nobunaga is forced to retreat or else Hideyoshi will die. He will not forget this humiliating defeat. In view of his loyalty, Alexander lets them live for now. Their rampage has caused the ley lines to go berserk and the land is falling apart.

Episode 19: Wheel Of Fortune
Hideyoshi is kept alive in an ICU powered by Himiko. For Nobunaga’s sake, she will not let him die. Nobunaga will go to Yomotsuhirasaka to obtain the ley lines’ power. A place where the dragons dwell. A place where the living and dead meet. Jeanne wants to go with Nobunaga to become a stronger shield. Mitsuhide is left in charge to protect the people and castle till he returns. With Kenshin, they sail to the place. The place locks out Jeanne while the guys trudge forward. They see Shingen before them but he is actually the dragon and it is going to test their resolve for this power they seek. Nobunaga sees haunting visions of his past as well as other people he knows like Nobuhide and Nobukatsu. Jeanne wonders why she can’t enter so a voice tells her it’s because she doesn’t accept her prophecy and bear ill will towards herself. Demonic hands grab her (like tentacle rape?) and torment her to accept the sin and blame. I don’t know, it feels like some kind of rape torture. Da Vinci talks to Mitsuhide about some Noh mask, whether it will be a happy or tragic expression. Currently he is drawing a painting called The Last Supper. It depicts the Saviour King and his 12 followers that will influence the fate of the stars and universe. He wonders if he should include Mitsuhide. And the centre as the Saviour King, will it be Arthur, Nobunaga or Mitsuhide? Mitsuhide then sees visions of Ichihime before being engulfed by another vision of his past. His family reminds him of avenging them. Jeanne continues to withstand this rape torture thingy. She is adamant on her stand of not wanting to bring misfortune to others. She takes a dagger and is willing to cut off her ear. Kenshin fights a dragon but as he strikes it, it is akin to striking himself and gets injured. Likewise, Nobunaga sees the dragon composed of his people suffering. If this is the dragon’s true form, he realizes this is how it has suffered. His immaturity hurt them all. He accepts their pain and suffering. Everything. Then he calls on Jeanne to accept her prophecies. Hesitate no more. He will accept her and everything that she is. Well, that was enough to snap her out from the illusion. Nobunaga also exits the place as Jeanne notices the dragon behind him. It seems he has gained honour by offering himself to the dragon. Nobunaga and Jeanne return to their castle but Kenshin’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Episode 20: The Sun
Mitsuhide makes plans to defend Yamatai but Nobunaga can tell it has already fallen into Alexander’s hands. Caesar is sent to see Arthur who will not punish him for his betrayal as he believes he has his reasons. As he speaks about true salvation, Caesar cannot understand that so many people have died especially with Cesare burning down the village. Is this what Arthur believes in? Arthur also feels pain in the deaths of multitude and many lives indeed have been lost for that. However true salvation can only be attained when he holds the Holy Grail. He shows Caesar his pretty face. Wait a minute. Arthur is a girl?! So pretty that Caesar is just crying. Like he just saw the face of God. Arthur gives Caesar the Excalibur that will give him the strength to seek true salvation. Alexander has already plotted and connected the lines and is going the take the ley lines power by brute force. But here comes Nobunaga to stop him. Da Vinci asks Alexander if he has seen Arthur’s face because he cannot paint him otherwise. How does he look like? A man among men. Huh? And Da Vinci is so shocked in hearing that. Nobunaga and Alexander fight with the former breaking the latter’s sword. However Alexander uses his brute strength to toss away Nobunaga’s sword and this causes the place to activate. I don’t know about Da Vinci’s comment about the many possible futures has been reduced to one by this act. Life or death awaits them. Now that the ley lines power is restored, everyone starts moving in. Including Hideyoshi who is feeling better than ever as he is now part cyborg! Caesar also arrives as he walks up the altar and plunges Excalibur into it. This manifests the bridge between the stars and allows Arthur to come here. Yeah. The king is coming. As Nobunaga and co flee, Jeanne hears a voice telling her that Nobunaga is the Destroyer King.

Episode 21: Justice
Caesar sees Nobunaga and proposes peace and that Arthur’s wish of bringing salvation and prosperity to both stars. However Nobunaga turns him down noticing he has changed. Who wouldn’t after seeing Arthur’s face? Cesare then confronts Caesar of his doing as he doesn’t believe Arthur wants peace because he is an infinite darkness that engulfs all. Caesar thinks Cesare has misunderstood. He wants him to use Perfecta, a technology Da Vinci left behind that Cesare has perfected to help in Arthur’s cause. Ichihime then sees Caesar to ask his real intentions. He wants eternal peace. A world where love is equal for all. Mitsuhide is here to bring Ichihime back but Caesar wants to save her at all cost. He says that the world will be ending soon and to prevent that, the Holy Grail must manifest. That led Arthur to find a chosen one who has overcome death and will never die. That sacred being is Perfecta and has been created by Cesare’s team. Bottom line: The world will be saved after its destruction. Ah, that’s the catch. They can survive that destruction if they become Perfecta. They call this plan mad but Caesar believes Mitsuhide would love this utopia world too because as he loves Ichihime, this new world without love where all love becomes equal and neighbours. Although Nobunaga will never accept this, that is why Caesar needs Mitsuhide to convince him. Ichihime slaps Caesar now that she knows his true self. Then the inevitable. Caesar versus Nobunaga. Although Caesar loses, he is still bent on saving her and creating that equal world. The twins relay a message that Ichihime is too obsessed with life and the idea of living and thus being held back. This makes Caesar believe he needs to liberate the things holding her back and aims at the castle. Ichihime stops him so that Nobunaga can cut them down. Yes, she is willing to lay her life on the line as she believes Nobunaga is the only one who can unite Heaven and Earth. He mustn’t be swayed by the gravity of his destiny. Jeanne tries to stop him from turning into Destroyer King but to no avail. After Nobunaga cuts Caesar down, Bianchi tries to cut Caesar down but Nell impales the trio so Ichihime, Caesar and Bianchi feel like they became a human sheesh kebab! Caesar then cuts down Nell. Caesar has realized. The happiness he sought was to spend time with his loved ones. He already obtained that. In Ichihime’s last dying breathe, she tells Nobunaga she is happy and believes he can bring true peace to all. So trust in your path. Ichihime… NOOO!!!

Episode 22: The Devil
Mitsuhide dreams of killing Nobunaga. A small funeral is held for Ichihime. Mitsuhide confronts Jeanne about her vision having Nobunaga as Destroyer King. Although Jeanne is not certain if Arthur is the true Saviour King, Mitsuhide notes Ichihime fell victim to the Destroyer King. Would she follow him? She will. She has decided on that. Arthur summons his Round Table members. Those died have returned as Perfecta. They look like zombies… The time has come to manifest the Holy Grail and 4 more seats are left to complete the 12. He believes to leave this role to the Eastern Star and to bring Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, Himiko and Jeanne to his side. In Mitsuhide’s dream, he is about to snipe Nobunaga when Hideyoshi appears before him and dares him. He snaps out of it when the real one appears. He reveals he killed Nobukatsu so Nobunaga can achieve his dream. Hideyoshi is so enraged but holds back himself. He reasons he would have done it himself as he thinks the Oda clan will fall under Nobukatsu’s leadership. However he reminds Mitsuhide about their pledge they made. If he decides to call it quits before Nobunaga achieves his goal, he will kill him. Nobunaga may be losing it in grief. Jeanne hugs him and says she will support him all the way. Mitsuhide talks to Da Vinci about his reason to come to this star. As he has not seen Arthur before, he thought of coming here to meet Nobunaga to predict the future. As Mitsuhide believes he made Nobunaga into the Destroyer King, he thinks visiting Western Star’s stronghold to determine Arthur’s will and since he doesn’t possess any Regalia, this will not result in immediate bloodshed. Himiko is trying to use her lifespan to restore the ley lines of this star. Hideyoshi won’t have her do it because she did the same to him and won’t let her die till he repays her. However this is her life and she will live the way she deems fit. Mitsuhide goes alone to see Cesare who in turn brings him to Arthur. His invasion of Eastern Star is to stop the Destroyer King as he doesn’t wish for war. Because it is the Saviour King’s sole job to ensure eternal utopia on the world, he wants Mitsuhide’s help to strike down Nobunaga and become a brother of the Round Table. If he wishes for true peace, work with him. Then Arthur shows him his true face. Now he has a samurai face? Actually, it’s his father. Just like anybody else, he becomes moved and will obey his will but is crying because he is going to kill Nobunaga.

Episode 23: The World
Himiko continues to push herself. Nobunaga confronts Da Vinci and threatens to kill him for he believes he influenced Mitsuhide. He shows him his incomplete sketches and his ambition to know the truth behind this world. As it is raining ashes, he thinks it is a necessary material for Arthur to create a new world. The only way left is to storm Arthur’s castle and Himiko suggests using Azuchi to teleport them. Hideyoshi will not allow it and reveals Himiko is at her limit. Nobunaga prohibits Azuchi’s use and they will barge their way through. Hideyoshi is going to get his rematch with Alexander but Kenshin returns (is he trying to be a pirate with an eye-patch now?) and he is better than before, although he is just on par with Alexander. Nobunaga and Jeanne are stopped by Hannibal and Charlemagne. Perfecta form. How do you stop the undead anyway? Himiko is stubborn. She thanks her servants for their loyalty and services before heading off to pilot Azuchi. She uses what is left of her power to teleport Nobunaga and Jeanne into Azuchi to crash into the fortress. Nobunaga and Jeanne rush to her side. Her final words are that she will marry Nobunaga in the afterlife as a dragon. So in this life, she wants Jeanne to wed him. Everyone is sad over her death but Nobunaga won’t mourn her yet until he defeats Arthur. But in the room, standing before them is Mitsuhide. He is praising Arthur like as though he has been brainwashed. He apologizes for being the one leading Nobunaga to become the Destroyer King. He also reveals he was the one who killed Nobukatsu to save him. Nobunaga will deal with this after he settles things with Arthur but Mitsuhide won’t let them go further. He fires a few warning shots at Nobunaga and forces Jeanne to proclaim Arthur as the Saviour King. She does so. At that moment, Cesare shoots Jeanne while Arthur begins the ritual to summon the Holy Grail.

Episode 24: Judgment
Although Jeanne lives but is weak, Mitsuhide shoots and kills Cesare. But he’s happy because he knows he will have eternal life after Arthur summons the Holy Grail. Well, if that happens. Nobunaga is mad as he summons The Fool to barge his way to Arthur. Nobunaga sees the face of an old man in Arthur. This is his true self. Arthur explains others see what they want based on their values and beliefs, the reason why different people see different faces. As he is merely projecting their values and all men cling to that desire, he believes he is granting the happiness people desires. Nobunaga rejects his argument and won’t accept false happiness. Arthur is impressed that aside Da Vinci, he too rejected his view. Nobunaga just believes himself as a fool. Hideyoshi faces off with Mitsuhide and the former knows he is going to kill Nobunaga and fights him. Da Vinci is completing his Last Supper painting. After all, this is the only thing he can do, right? The painting shows Mitsuhide as Judas going to betray Nobunaga. Nobunaga rides The Fool and fights Alexander who is now in his dragon form. All of Nobunaga’s Regalia start glowing and he can feel its warmth. As the dragons fight (devouring everything while at it), Arthur begins summoning the Holy Grail and the land starts falling apart. So the Holy Grail is in the form of a woman? However something is wrong. Destruction has yet to cease. Arthur thinks Nobunaga can even destroy sacred hope. The Holy Grail breaks and Arthur is squished by the dragons’ fight. Flat Arthur. How is that even funny? Hideyoshi saves Mitsuhide from a certain death during the chaos. He makes remember about their vow. What good would a nobody like Arthur do if he rules Heaven and Earth? It has to be them. Mitsuhide’s eyes are now opened. If you want a job done, do it yourself. He is going to kill Nobunaga.

Jeanne continues to throw her support behind Nobunaga who will continue to follow the path of destruction. Mitsuhide confronts him about their unification goal. Nobunaga will destroy that too. In that case, Mitsuhide will cut him down and do that. As the guys clash swords, Mitsuhide seems like he is losing when he takes out Ichihime’s comb and stab it in Nobunaga’s neck! All his Regalia go dead. Nobunaga realizes the reason Mitsuhide cannot wield a Regalia. It is because he was not meant to do that. Nobunaga’s dragon reveals that he did not devour the people but protected them. This is partly thanks to Jeanne’s help. What he devoured were Giant War Armours and the power to create wars. Now that he has devoured destruction and will die with it, he leaves the rest up to Mitsuhide. Can he do it? Because he killed Nobukatsu, he knows the endless pain. Only a person like that can create a new world without pain. Asking what Mitsuhide truly desires, he wants peace. Then there is no place for Nobunaga here because he only knows how to destroy and loves chaos. Da Vinci realizes his painting is slightly off because Nobunaga was the one in Judas role and Mitsuhide the Saviour King. He throws away his tarot cards and jumps into the flames. So now he has seen the truth of the universe, he kills himself? Dying Nobunaga and Jeanne declare their love for each other and kiss before they head off to the other world. And what it seems like another world, a modern one like ours, a group of people is seen visiting the art museum with Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. There are a couple of students curiously resembling Nobunaga and Jeanne as their eyes meet.

Only Fools Rush In
Uhm… I don’t know anymore. To summarize my feelings for this series, it went downhill. When it first began, it was quite interesting, the concept and mystery to it all. Also the mixture of eastern and western historical figures makes it an interesting watch. However somewhere along the second half of the series, things started to get a bit confusing. That is where the downhill ride begins. Naturally all I understood was somebody known as the Saviour King is going to summon Holy Grail to save the world but the Destroyer King will stand in his way. At least that it is what I understand. When they put in too many of those confusing explanations that I don’t really comprehend, I couldn’t connect the dots and that’s when my interest for the series waned. Too many terminologies. Too much talk. Too much drama. Too confusing. I guess summoning the Holy Grail isn’t as simple as it seems. Makes it look like world destruction is so much easier. Heck, even the ending feels crappy. I thought they should just kill everybody since they have killed a few important people and even the main protagonists themselves. Everyone alive should just do a Da Vinci and commit suicide. Thank God this show is over.

I think they tried to put in some twist in the plot and screw with our minds like having us think Nobunaga is the Saviour King all along and then suddenly he becomes known as the Destroyer King. Can we blame Jeanne for that misinterpretation? Well, she came here to this Eastern Star to find out and I presume that she assumed Nobunaga is the man with the right qualities to be that and sets off her journey with him. Who knows suddenly her inner voice decides to let her know so late that Nobunaga is the Destroyer King and even naming him in person. What is a girl got to do so late at that point? Deny? Try to change it? Accept? Live with it? And as we start to believe Arthur might be the one, blam! He gets squished (honestly, the funniest scene for me in this entire series) and who the f*cks would have guessed that Mitsuhide is the actual Saviour King. He had no signs. He had no talent in wielding a Regalia. He stained his hands. And this dude who betrayed his lord is the Saviour King? Who the f*cks come up with this kind of thing?! And as we see, the world isn’t destroyed. Time to rebuild. Too bad for all those betting on Perfecta and became one. Stay in zombie land for all I care. It’s the living that matters.

With the plot shifting towards world destruction in the second half, I suppose the importance of the Regalia which everyone seems to be fighting for in the first half that is supposed to power up their Giant War Armour becomes irrelevant. Heck, because Nobunaga got them all, right? Even those in the hands of Hideyoshi and Kenshin, for reasons unexplained (convenience is what I can see), they all float and go to Nobunaga in which I don’t see how he powers up with it because eventually they go dead. And then Mitsuhide scatters them away. Useless, huh? Why not after all the Giant War Armours have been disabled. No more wars? For real? Peace has been attained? What are the chances that idiotic humans from either side of the star won’t come up with a conspiracy to make another world war happen and destroy the universe this time? And how can Nobunaga unify Heaven and Earth if he is dead and residing in the stars? Oh sure, leave it to Mitsuhide your trusted aide who almost killed you to do that.

The many characters are great although some I feel exist just to play a small part that would lead to something. Some are shallow (are the twins just bloodthirsty kids?), some were short-lived (Hannibal and Charlemagne comes to mind) some change but without sufficient explanation (did Caesar really turn over a new leaf because of love?) and some makes you wonder what happened (remember Brutus?). One of the biggest disappointing character is Jeanne herself. Because for most of the time, she looks like somebody confused and unsure of her destiny. Even though she has made her resolve, it still feels that she isn’t strong enough. Unlike the strong and independent woman I hope for her to be, she falls really flat of this expectation because it is as though she is always following in his shadow. And when she really seems she has accepted her fate of following Nobunaga to hell and back (literally, death cannot even do them part), it feels a little too late. The worst part is it felt as though Jeanne has become one of Nobunaga’s submissive concubine!  You know, you see her in the last episode clinging on to life, clinging on to him like as though to show us that Nobunaga is the big hero and heroes always get the girl, right? Yeah. That. Because she’s been holding in her pain from being shot by Cesare and waiting for Nobunaga to finish his business before breathing her last breathe. Wow. It’s like they’re in sync when they’re dead too.

Da Vinci is an amusing character, if not someone who is full of mystery. What makes me say that is his tarot card trademark which also in a way bugs me. In every episode, he never fails to carry this pack of tarot card and lets somebody pick it up and the card picked is of course reflected in the title so it is hardly any surprise. It is just whether it would be upright or upside down. Despite him being a genius inventor and having great visions, I never knew he was quite adept in reading tarot cards. Because the instant somebody pulls out a card, he can explain what the card implies although I would be mostly left confused since the way he explains it is also somewhat in a form of a riddle. Maybe. Maybe not. I know Da Vinci has drawn lots of sketches of inventions well ahead of his time and in a sense like he is predicting the future. But tarot cards? Nice try but it feels odd. And the way he explains so smoothly and sometimes leaving others in stitches over his explanation, sometimes it felt like as though he is the scriptwriter of this show and hence he could answer what is coming. And he is always right. Almost. Heck, he himself picked the card in the final episode but when that happens, it seems he got it off a little. Maybe this is why he never picked the cards himself.

Other characters felt rather okay like Nobunaga feeling like a rebellious teen wanting to do things his way instead of being tied down by some shackles or something. He has got his good points and bad points but ultimately the important thing is that he tries to be himself and live out the dream that he wants and not what others expect of him. Then you have the very conflicted Mitsuhide who is always torn what to do and what the next best move is while Hideyoshi true to his monkey nickname acts close as one. For the eastern side, I suppose they try to recreate the events but loosely based on the real history like how Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga and killed him. That nearly happened here, right? I’m not so sure for the western counterpart since it is a mishmash of Europe instead of one specific country. Because even though there is Arthur, there is no Lancelot or Merlin and Alexander (who I believed is supposed to be modelled after Alexander the Great) takes up the role as the strongest knight of the Round Table.

Like I have said, with so many characters around, it feels that many of them are fleeting especially those from the Western Star. Of course be warned that they do not actually reflect those historical figures accurately and as though they just only had that in name. I felt that only Caesar (aside Jeanne and Da Vinci) made an impact since he was the first and only person from the Round Table to head down to Eastern Star and did his stuff. That was in the first half and in the second half everyone else there gets a piece of the action so it is somewhat ‘diluted’. I expected Alexander to play a significant impact but alas I do not feel otherwise except maybe to provide some muscle action. So that guy still lives in the end which I don’t know signifies what because from the way the others bow down to him it looks like he is the next leader for the Western Star after Arthur’s demise.

To even think about the romance part is atrocious. Do you even consider it here? I mean, Himiko’s love is unrequited and she knows it. Makes you wonder if that betrothal ceremony was just a show, which it is. Himiko and Jeanne’s little showdown to win Nobunaga’s heart made me think that this might descend into one those harem shows but to actually execute it would have devalue greatly this series so I guess it was better never to have happened. Nobunaga and Jeanne’s love at the end felt so rushed that it wasn’t just convincing. I knew it was bound to happen but I didn’t expect it to happen this way. Right at the end. Well, they’ve been together for almost the entire series and with Jeanne being his protector, it is unlikely that nothing would develop with that kind of bond. I don’t know if their supposed reincarnation in another world will be about rekindling lost love but that would be an entirely different story altogether. I could say there is true love between Caesar and Ichihime but only in the very last moments. Till death do them part. I think it is a bold concept trying to have a union between eastern and western people but I don’t see it working out here. Yeah. They died.

I don’t know if it is a good thing or not since the mecha fights are not the big focus of this series. It feels like a side distraction. Most of them are in the first half of the series since the second half becomes more drama-like. Even with a few varied moves and some packing a punch with the Regalia power, personally they are hardly memorable and it lacks the wow and oomph factor that would want to make me replay and watch the scene again. Really. Even the final episode, Nobunaga using The Fool after not having used it for some time feels like a reminder that in a way this is a mecha anime in some little ways. Heck, it wasn’t much of a fight either because the short bout with Alexander turned into some dragon fight. So the mecha action parts are just rather okay.

The art and animation are pretty standard and okay. Just that I feel that the mecha designs for the Giant War Armours are not appealing except maybe for the ones from the Western Star but even so, it isn’t as majestic like in some other mecha animes I have seen. Yeah. I have watched ‘a lot’ of mecha animes in my life whether I realize it or not. Seriously. Therefore when I first saw The Fool, I thought the producers didn’t put any effort into it to look ‘good’ till they put on some ‘accessories’. But even so, it still looks pretty plain overall. Although the only saving point for them is its CG animation as they are quite neatly and smoothly done.

There are quite a number of casts lending their voices and especially a handful of familiar names. Like Mamoru Miyano as Nobunaga (Light in Death Note), Jeanne as Jeanne (Mio in K-ON!), Minori Chihara as Ichihime (Chiaki in Minami-ke), Takahiro Sakurai as Mitsuhide (Suzaku in Code Geass), Yuuki Kaiji as Hideyoshi (Eren in Shingeki No Kyojin), Nao Touyama as Himiko (Karen in Kiniro Mosaic), Yuuichi Nakamura as Caesar (Gray in Fairy Tail), Tomokazu Sugita as Da Vinci (Gintoki in Gintama), Rikiya Koyama as Shingen, Kazuya Nakai as Alexander (Zoro in One Piece) and Sayaka Ohara as Hannibal (Erza in Fairy Tail).

The rest include Keisuke Oda as Arthur (Suruga in Re: Hamatora),Takayuki Kondou as Cesare (Oishi in Prince Of Tennis), Aya Endo as Machiavelli (Miyuki in Lucky Star), Haruka Ishida as Bianchi (Kanata in AKB0048), Ibuki Kido as Nell (Nanami in Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Oraretara), Hiro Shimono as Brutus (Keima in The World Is Not Enough), Kaito Ishikawa as Charlemagne (Tsumugu in Nagi No Asukara), Hiroki Nanami debuting as Kenshin, Nobunaga Shimazaki as Nobukatsu (Shido in Date A Live) and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Magellan (Sora in No Game No Life).

The first opening theme, Fool The World by Minori Chihara isn’t a bad rock piece as it fits the pace of the series. The first ending theme, Axis by Stereo Dive Foundation feels like techno rock and I think it is not too shabby either. Unfortunately the songs for the second half aren’t much to my liking not because I have gotten used to the first ones. Breakthrough by Jam Project sounds weird. I thought there was a group of people chanting the haka war cry at the beginning. Otherwise this typical rock style from Jam Project feels just ordinary. Then there is Ran by Asuka as the second ending theme. I just don’t find this slow rock piece suitable. The song is okay but somehow I just don’t find it fitting.

Seriously, I don’t think this will be the last Nobunaga adaptation ever and there will be more in the future to come. But at least it was a rather good concept to adapt both eastern and western historical figures so I guess this is the only highlight of this series in otherwise what would be a lukewarm and disappointing towards the end. Overall, this isn’t a bad series but perhaps it wasn’t just my destiny to enjoy and like it. Not one of the best Nobunaga adaptations but hey, at least you can’t accuse me of watching ‘creative’ adaptations of Japan’s greatest unifier only when turned into a woman. I know I’m a bigger fool but on second thought, if I am ever going to watch another Nobunaga adaptation, might as well see him as a busty sexy woman.

Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Oraretara

February 22, 2015

I never really understood the meaning of flag in computing terms. Maybe it is because I never played dating simulations so I am not familiar with the term. Even doing my ‘extensive’ research on it over the internet yields more confusion than anything. I still do not understand. Is it something that triggers some event in the future? Well, I think it is something like that so anybody can be kind enough to enlighten me? Anybody? Ah well, I guess I will have to watch Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Oraretara to understand it. Oh what the heck, who am I kidding? Wanting to further know about the definition of flags wasn’t my purpose. It’s the harem factor, baby! Oh yeah! Bring it on!

I don’t know if they are trying to match Sister Princess or not but I think it is pretty awesome (personally) to know that there are 12 girls in it. You read that right. A dozen. One two. XII. Although something tells me that not all of them will be the main focus but I guess that is better than nothing. Wow. Twelve lovely girls. Are they really going to overdo this harem trope and overload it? Say what? You’re more interested in what the story is about? What has the harem has got to do with flags? Okay, okay. Our main guy has the ability to see flags on people’s heads. The kind of flags that determines your future and destiny and thus his other ability to break or change them. Pretty cool, right? Well, not as cool as having this harem. Anyway he has got a death flag on himself and is traumatized by a near death experience when he was young. So he isolates himself through life trying not to make friends and strangely enough this attracts several girls that are interested in his weird way of life and they end up living with him in a dorm. I don’t know. So his strange way of living becomes the flag for a harem anime?

Episode 1
Nanami Knight Bladefield is waiting at the lights when a truck is going to crash at her and the group of people waiting there. The tragedy is averted when she notices this kid wearing the same school uniform as hers, whispering into the ears of another guy. She’s thinking through and through about this boy when it turns out, Souta Hatate is the new transfer student in her class. He sits behind her as she notices that whenever classmates approach him with their personal intentions, just a mere sentence breaks their spirit. She confronts him and wants to know. Because she also observed that he is watching the top of a person’s head before speaking out. Lies don’t dissuade Nanami. Unless he wants another eyeball poking pain, he better tell the truth. He can see flags on people’s head. At the lights, the person he whispered too had a death flag. He said something that broke the flag and of course ultimately his death. Nanami doesn’t believe but Souta is okay. He doesn’t want her to get involved anyway. Nanami thinks he doesn’t want anybody to get close to him so he reveals about a worst boating accident in history whereby Souta was the only survivor. All other crew and passengers were missing and they still are. He believes anybody that gets involved with him will be plagued by misfortune. Nanami doesn’t think so. Since he doesn’t see a flag on her head and if she did, she would have been broken by his gloomy attitude. She’ll complain and yell at him if she wants. He can do the same. So please don’t act so gloomy before her. Okay. While having lunch, Akane Mahogasawa pops up before them. She has a friendship flag and wants to join them. Attempts to break it are futile since it always comes back up. He eventually gives in. Akane mentions Nanami as the 13th princess of the Bladefield royalty. Nanami continues that since her siblings was so big (10 princes and 14 princesses!), she wasn’t really welcomed and sent away to Japan to study.

More flags pop up on Akane’s head and it’s literally impossible for Souta to break them all. Akane wants to visit his house as part of their friendship thingy. He lives at Quest Dormitory… It’s so rundown. Oh wait. It’s abandoned. He lives here? Well, at least his room is decent. Akane wants to do something for Souta. Because she felt this heart tightening feeling when she first saw him. It isn’t exactly love at first sight. As the granddaughter of Mahogasawa Foundation, she didn’t have any friends. She made her first real friend her age and exchanged items as proof of their friendship. However the adults had different views about their friendship and saw their gap in material wealth as the main factor to separate them. They called her friend a poor person. She couldn’t save that poor person. So when she saw Souta’s poor state, she believes she can save him. Nanami thinks she is just like Souta but if they both think of each other’s happiness other than their own, they’ll create a bond of happiness. When the girls leave, Akane returns to take something she forgot. Souta sees a death flag on her head. Seems the wooden floor gave way and she falls through. Souta tries to break the flag but it’s not working. There is only one way left. He kisses her! It turns into a conquered flag. And that probably sealed his own death fate because Nanami comes giving him a flying kick. Later that night as Souta washes up, he sees a death flag on his own head in the mirror.

Episode 2
Souta finds himself in a dream. On a luxury liner. There is this girl, Sakura asking him to invite girls over since it’s the vacation. In class, Akane probably loves what Souta did but not Nanami. More women problems for Souta because big sister Kikuno Shoukanji is thrilled he is back. Apparently she is supposed to be his older childhood friend but she went to study abroad last year and fell a year behind when she came back. Kikuno loves pampering Souta so much so it sends those jealous guys into envy. Taking look at Quest Dormitory, she is appalled at his living conditions but is also glad he has amassed his own little harem. Then they dance in circles as proof of friendship. Don’t ask… They go and see an elder who is a loli by the way who is in their same class if you noticed, Tsumugi Ryuukishibara. They ask to do something about the dorm but she says due to declining students, their budget is limited so rebuilding it isn’t an option. However student council president, Mimori Seiteikouji believes she can help and she has the Public Works Study Club to build it up from scratch again. A club of manly girls? It is rebuilt in no time and now for the finishing touches. Everyone helps to move things in when Souta requests the help of this boy to move furniture. Oh wait. It’s a girl. Too cute. What? Megumu Touzokuyama is a boy????!!!! Get out of here!!! Well, it’s no wonder why he has always been treated like a girl. Too girly. There are lots of friendship flags popping out on Megumu’s head. But all that turns into depression because the rest of the girls continue to look at him as a girl. Too girly to even note the fact he is in a boy’s uniform.

The dorm is fully renovated and furnished but Mimori mentions a tiny little problem. It will be closed down because it only has 1 resident! What the heck was all that hard work for anyway?! But as Tsumugi mentions, in order to keep the dorm open, at least 5 people need to stay there. Want to guess who are moving in? Let’s see… Souta as resident number one, so we’ve got Akane as number two, number three for Kikuno, Megumu offering to be number four… Okay, who is going to be the last one? Nanami is just hinting… And when she does, she has a condition to get that corner unit or else she won’t stay. Hooray! Circle dance friendship time. But why everyone is crowding in Souta’s room? So the ladies go take a bath and Megumu wants to prove he is a man by go taking a peek. He drags Souta along but chickens out and lets him bear the brunt of Nanami’s kick. Some friend. Some man he is. That night, Souta finds a letter in a drawer. It includes RPG-like classes. He remembers playing a twisted version of chess with Sakura (samurai, knight, dragon knight, ninja, summoner, among the weird pieces?). As the loser must do what the winner says, Sakura mentions she did not win because she is strong but she saw a defeat flag on his head. She will give him her power and in exchange he must find the truth of this world. Souta remembers Premium Ambriel (the luxury liner that was involved in the accident), Sakura the forgotten sister as well as this world’s truth.

Episode 3
Akane all over Souta to wake him up? How did she get a key to his room? From Kikuno. She insists it’s her sister right to have one! Even worse for Souta. They find somebody lying next to him in bed… Megumu! Now, this might look yaoi but since he is so girly… The commotion is compounded when a helicopter from Mahogasawa Electronics drops some big metal crate. Ruri Ninjabayashi is an android and sent by the company to support Akane. Yup. Add another resident to the list. They thought they can leave her to take care of the dorm while they head to school but she’s coming to school with them too. And she fits in like a glove… Mimori makes an announcement of the upcoming week-long sports festival. Everyone is going to compete nonstop for the coveted MVP title. However this is the least of their problems. As Mimori sees them personally, looks like Quest Dormitory will be demolished! Flashback reveals she was in a meeting with those board guys. They disagree about the dorm having mixed gender staying with it. Just because they are losers who never got to experience such youthful lust doesn’t mean they can impose such rules, right? So Mimori decides herself that if the Quest Dormitory people can’t take the MVP title, the dorm will be demolished and Souta will be expelled. So… All this is Mimori’s fault actually?! Oh sh*t! Kikuno is really mad! Souta going to be expelled?! Die you b*tch! But let’s look on the positive side. Mimori has got somebody to train them and she is Rin Eiyuuzaki. Archer girl has been assigned to guide them to become MVP. Souta knows she is going to be troublesome because she has this guy hating flag. She is also close friends with Rin.

The strict training begins in the wee hours of the morning. The girls must be tired but Rin is giving Souta special treatment. Yeah. More training for him! While he rests, he still feels everything that has happened recently is unreal. Up till now he has been alone and suddenly a bevy of girls flock to him. He asks what kind of guy he must be to pass his standards. She mentions about this tough kid she knew when she was young. His name is Souda (suspicious…). All other guys were inferior to her but Souda never gave in. Eventually they became equals and fought many battles together. She felt she could do anything with him. One day Souda had to move to another town and that’s the last time she saw him. Souta says he was used to be called that. Rin thinks it’s a coincidence. Since she still keeps his contacts, she will mail him about this. Souta receives an exact mail from her. Then it hit them. Yeah. Time to panic. Especially Souta who thought she was a boy! She almost falls but he catches her. She feels bad for doing all the bad things to him. Souta fears this yandere flag popping up. But with a little assurance their friendship is unbreakable, that flag turns into a conquered one. Rin explains everything to the rest. Now she is motivated to get everyone motivated to aim for the MVP title. Souta’s future is riding on it.

Episode 4
The week-long festival is here. Rin has a long list of sports everyone will have to participate. And some of the sports suspiciously aren’t sports. Cat herding? Massage the committee’s shoulders? Even a competition whereby only real princesses can enter? WTF. Anyway with Quest Dormitory in the lead, everyone’s morale is high and when Rin suggests winning the MVP to strengthen their friendship, Kikuno encourages everyone to strengthen their love for him to. So everyone tries to pass the buck around who should be a more suitable lover for Souta. While busying doing that, Souta takes another look at himself. The death flag is still there. Because of that, he spaces out and couldn’t perform and this causes the team to slowly slip down the rankings. Ruri has observed his behaviour and confronts him that his depression has a correlation and affecting the girls’ performance too. It is like as though death is involved in some way. So he reveals about his inevitable death. But that is not the scary part. It is the part where his death will bring sadness to everyone and he is heartless to make such great memories with them. Figuring out the break the death flag of others is simple but not so for his own. Then it’s like some programme in Ruri activates. Something about wondering if he would like to enter the other world. There is a First Gate that will open to the 4 heroes seeking the Great Tree that will lead them to the other world. There, they have a chance to destroy the death flag. Trying to determine where the First Gate is, Souta sees the place as Quest Dormitory. Souta is the king, Nanami the princess knight, Akane the magician, Ruri the ninja and a hooded person as the clergy. Souta believes he can’t leave this dorm if that door really exists. He requests Ruri for her help and she is amazed that he needs her. Although many people acknowledge her, this is the first time somebody actually needs her. A friendship flag on her head?

On the final day of the festival, it seems the winner gets to win everything. Leave it to Mimori to spice things up. Teams partake in a relay race and Souta and Nanami are the final pair. Prior to it, Souta has been telling the rest of his team personally to win to raise their morale and thus victory flag. They do well to make a sizeable lead. Nanami isn’t impressed with what he is doing as Souta realizes he has never seen a flag on Nanami before. As they get going and before the home stretch, Nanami trips and injures her leg. She wants to continue so as not to waste their hard work. Eventually she couldn’t and everyone zooms past them. She feels guilty but not as guilty as Souta who thinks he has failed everyone and made them sad. But since they are still cheering them on, Souta won’t give up and carries Nanami. His extra determination gives him the much needed boost to catch up with the rest but in the nail biting finish, the photo finish indicates they came in a close second place. Although everyone is sad that their fate is sealed, Mimori introduces them to the board members who are very impressed with their beautiful cooperation and friendship. Despite coming in second place, they decide to hand them the MVP title. Hooray! The dorm stays and more importantly Souta! Someone better stop Mimori before she makes a fuss about the board members doing their calculations wrong! One of the board members later turns out to be some mysterious masked babe, Zero and she knows Souta.

Episode 5
As Souta tries to investigate the passageway, all the girls come running to him. I guess Ruri made something up. Seems it is about some reward about Souta going out with them as reward for the doing their best for the sports festival. The girls discuss their turn in going out with him except for Nanami who is vehemently saying she won’t be on this date. Twice. I don’t know. She’s hinting something about some food poster… And over the scenes as we see Souta date the rest, we see Nanami doing something ‘fun’ all alone in the dorm. But why doesn’t she look happy? Megumu is the first one to go. Everybody thinks they are such a lovely couple. Remember, Megumu is a guy… So lovely… At the parfait shop, Souta helps Megumu finish a large serving. Megumu got some cream on his face and everybody is watching with anticipation for them to kiss. Nothing dramatic happens. He just wipes it off. Next is Akane and they go boating. There is a legend that couples will break up if they boat here but since they aren’t, they won’t. Some logic but she’s got a point. Though, she would love to be a couple one day. She gets embarrassed and almost falls off. Souta catches her but her clothes are quite wet. She then brings him to a library which reminds her of that friend. Although she has never seen her since, she was able to meet and get closer to him. That’s why she wants to thank them. Next is Rin at the park and because she’s already having a yandere flag, Souta quickly praises her and she was gullible enough to be conquered. She brought old photos of them and it brought back memories. Especially that one where they climbed up the bath house’s chimney and took off their pants and peed into the sun. There are a whole lot of things wrong here. Shouldn’t Souta have guessed her gender then? Unless the setting sun was blinding. And why was Rin calling him Souta instead of Souda? Rin gets so embarrassed about remembering it that she wants him to take responsibility. Unfortunately she passes out before anything could happen.

Finally it is Kikuno and their date is rather simple. Back in her room, she offers her lap pillow and they remember the time when Kikuno was sad that she couldn’t be a big sister anymore. Souta gave her a keychain and said he would be her little brother. Ever since, Kikuno considers him not as a brother-like friend but her real brother. At the end of the day, the girls thank Nanami for giving them a chance to go out with him at her expense. Nanami is hinting the thing she wants in return but it seems none of them understood what she was talking about. So frustrated… Next time make things clearer okay? Thankfully Souta understands and got that whatever food she wanted and hangs it on her door. Ruri returns with her investigation results. She has scanned the area and indeed it is confirmed the underground passage does exist but is buried deeply. Thankfully she took the liberty to dig it all up. She’s an android. It leads them to a chamber with a huge stone tomb. There are pictures that depict a knight, magician, clergy and ninja just like in the letter. Ruri scans the insides but can’t determine it since it is composed of unique materials. Nearby there is a crack in the wall that is believed to lead to the forest behind Quest Dormitory. Suddenly a bright light flashes and Souta goes to explore. Climbing out of the well, he meets Mei Daimyouzamurai. She isn’t pleased about him playing around with the attribute flags like that since he is the bearer of the death flag.

Episode 6
There is a council called World’s Seven Virtues as they discuss humans are the world’s disease. Zero mentions about Souta who raised his own death flag and defied it. They must confirm whether this heretic is a true messenger of the Sacraments that will be of value or a threat to the world. Meanwhile Mei becomes a transfer student in Souta’s class. He notices she has the same ability to cut people’s flags too. But there are more pressing matters. Souta notices his name has been nominated in both the beach and mountain camp. Thanks to some screw up by Mimori who believes in this way the girls of his dorm can get equal quality time in addition for him to learn swimming. Souta joins Ruri, Nanami and Megumu in the beach camp first. However he still has fears entering the water. Tsumugi hears his tragic tale of Premium Ambriel and led to many traumatic experiences. She is so touched that she will personally take care of his swimming lessons. Not much progress actually. While he is resting, he meets Kurumiko Daishikyougawa who sells popsicles to him. He remembers her name associated with the letter. Could she be the clergy? Anyway she views him as a nice person and she goes off as she’s a little shy. Souta notices a story flag on her head and this means there is some sort of progression in her story. Souta now switches to the mountain camp to join Akane, Rin and Kikuno. Tsumugi shows a picture when she was younger. Much taller and beautiful?! Like a different person… You shrink when you grow older? What is she? Benjamin Button? Before Souta can get into group study, he realizes he has been scammed because both camps will now switch places. Which means, back to the beach! He still fears the sea. Kurumiko is here to sell her popsicles again. Seems she is trying to be strong trying not to rely on anyone. Akane is introduced to her and anybody who is Souta’s friend is her friend as well. She’ll buy her entire box of popsicles. Kurumiko is so overwhelmed at her generosity that she runs away.

Souta catches up to her to explain Akane is desperately a generous person. Kurumiko feels she doesn’t belong whenever she thinks about people who can buy her out on the spot. She will apologize to her the next time. Souta notices her story flag has progressed to the next stage. Kurumiko wants to show him her secret hideout. This cave is where she goes to when she feels sad to remember her parents’ words. Souta believes it is good to rely on oneself but there are times she should rely on others too. Kurumiko reveals that there is something she didn’t tell him. She knew who he was because her parents were crews on the Premium Ambriel. She doesn’t hold a grudge against him but herself. Because the media continue to blame him, she took responsibility of her parents by trying to punish herself living this way. She thought she was the only one suffering till she saw him. She feels ashamed to think like that. Souta says she doesn’t need to take responsibility for her parents. They have been talking so long that they didn’t realize the tide has risen and trapping their only way out. Kurumiko hopes he could be her honorary brother when 3 death flags appear on her head. He agrees not only to that but become real siblings to cut them. Although her story flag rises, it is instantly replaced by the death flags again. He wants her to come to his school and believes things will work out. It’s his turn to save others. Ruri scares the sh*t out of them as she has located and begins rescue operations. Souta brings Kurumiko back with intentions to introduce her to everyone else when there is this babe in white and a straw hat standing melancholy before them.

Episode 7
No cause for concern. That is Megumu. His sisters snuck into the dorm and swap all his clothes for dresses. Really? Kurumiko introduces herself as Souta’s little sister. But Kikuno cannot accept this because it’s like he prefers a smaller one than a bigger one. Then she accepts it because his little sister is also her little sister. Tsumugi hopes Mimori can do the necessary to make Kurumiko attend their school. In return she can date Souta. Well, she doesn’t come cheap. That or a can of juice. She’ll take the date. So in this nature date, Mimori notes his kindness and Souta notes her energetic and that she should continue being bright and lively as it shows she is enjoying life. His words remind her of somebody close on his deathbed saying the same thing. Mimori vows to make him happy and a love flag pops up on her head. Mimori does what she can for Kurumiko’s case but unfortunately after all that, the board turned her down. Kurumiko is just happy to at least meet him for a brief period. When everyone returns to the dorm, Kurumiko is waiting for them. Seems Mei has brought her back as she felt bad for leaving her behind. She will also be staying here. How? Mei did some adjustments in the database. Why didn’t Mimori think of that?! Oh, Tsumugi and Mimori will also be staying at Quest Dormitory from today onwards. Everyone thinks Mei will be living with them too but she brushes it off before bowing down to pressure. Even if she doesn’t want to sleep with Kurumiko as she requested, she eventually gives in. Weak? Later Souta confronts Mei about her ability to see flags. She admits it but compared to his, hers is artificial and limited. This Flag Manipulation is given by Sacrament or also known as Sakura to him. It is the territory where humans were not originally allowed to trespass and the power that can even change the course of a fate that has already been decided. Ultimate Test Passenger Ship. The fateful ship that drifts along the universe’s sea. Souta has that power to rival that ship. What is his wish? One, to break his death flag. Second, to find out about Sakura’s wish. She opens a portal to bring him to a parallel world where none of his harem girls know him.

Apparently the Council of Seven Virtues is in charge of maintaining this parallel world. Currently they have their eyes on Sacrament and Souta. Mei’s duty is to determine if he is going to throw the world into chaos. His power is more fearsome than he thinks. She proceeds to show him some of his harem girls are dead like Nanami’s inevitable truck accident, Akane falling to her death and Kurumiko drowned in the tide. Then onboard the Premium Ambriel, Souta thought he saw himself waiting to die. He talks to himself to give himself the will to carry on living and all the great people he will meet at Quest Dormitory. He is surprised he turns out to be his teacher, Miyuki. She shows him a door in which her great grandfather, Souta Hatate went missing. Yes, she is Miyuki Hatate and not Miyuki MacKenzie. She will be alright now as she has found the will to live. A main character flag pops up on her head. Mei points out that world will now revolve around Miyuki. As she is the main character, she will have the power to view the world or change its course. Suddenly Souta starts coughing blood. The death flag has triggered and it is starting to affect his body. To save him, Mei tries to pull it out but experiences the despair and fear of death, the burden and power to control flags. She draws all her strength to stop it temporarily when Sacrament pops up and knocks her out. There are things Souta mustn’t know and should discover the truth by himself. Souta wakes up to find himself sleeping on Mei’s lap. He is shocked to see a captured flag on her head. She doesn’t remember about flags or Council of Seven Virtues. Could it be her memories are gone?

Episode 8
Rin is not amused that Kikuno is doting and spoiling Souta. It will make him a loser! Don’t tell me she wants to do all that to him? Because everyone has returned to their hometowns for the summer holidays, they are the only ones remained at the dorm. Suddenly Ruri drops by and kidnaps him back to Akane’s mansion! Because Akane wanted to see him, right? And so here Souta is in her very big luxurious mansion. Shortly, Kikuno, Rin, Megumu, Kurumiko and Mei come rushing in. Kikuno panicked and called everyone about his abduction and they rushed all the way here. Everyone tries to follow Akane’s aristocrat ways and I don’t know how but Souta ends up having lots of roast beef on his plate. That night Souta soaks in the outdoor hotspring alone. He didn’t realize this is the women’s section till Rin comes in. She hides him when the rest comes in. She’s got this yandere flag on her head so he turns it into love flag by saying he’ll marry her if something happens. Eventually Souta is able to make his escape without the others knowing. Meanwhile Nanami calls Akane and thinks she is lonely or something. You should see the surprise on her face when she sees the rest especially Souta having a sleepover and a big pillow fight! Feeling left out? Even a princess can throw a tantrum.

So I guess it’s only right that they all come to her principality. Nanami greets them as they take the first class train towards the capital. A mini version of Ruri pops up from Akane’s bag seeing her original body is undergoing maintenance. After Souta finishes his business in the toilet, he comes across the 14th princess, Hakua Berserker Bladefield. She is amazed at Souta and all things Japanese (since her mom is also a Japanese although different mother than Nanami’s). She talks to him and is awed at the difference between their countries. She goes to an all-girls monastery and doesn’t view anything wrong about siblings having different mothers. She is also the same age as Souta and Nanami. Speaking of her, here she comes with mini Ruri (she somewhat planted a tracker in his body) as they suspect he is taking too long coming back from the toilet. Suddenly an assassin enters the carriage and beats up all the maids. Holy cow! Ruri???!!! Mini Ruri thinks this is one of the mass manufactured assassin type androids bought by this country and could be her sister. Souta takes the princesses and run while the maids hold her back. Can’t do much since every inch of her body becomes or conceals a weapon. They are cornered when they reach the last carriage. Suddenly Souta knows what to do. He detaches the carriage and hits the emergency brake button. The assassin is about to follow but is stabbed and put out of commission for good by Zero. Souta knows this is his first time doing this and definitely it isn’t something a normal person can easily do on the first try. His powers must have levelled up. Okay. Now what? Up for walking?

Episode 9
There is a sad tale of 2 princesses. A peaceful country ruled by them was attacked by demons. A dying boy was entrusted a power of a goddess before she got tainted. His appearance also changed into of a royal flag. One by one the heroes fell to the demons. A princess was separated from the heroes as she took the flag and tried to escape. Souta and the princesses have reached the town. He is surprised when Nanami knows about the Council of Seven Virtues. It is a special organization that rules over the populace and royal family. They are the protectors of the Bladefield founded along with this country. Zero leads the council to bring the princesses back. Souta’s worried harem girls are relieved he is alright but they are stumped to see Hakua clinging close to his arm. Elia is the princesses’ big brother and crown prince as he thanks Souta for his help. Zero confronts Mei but it seems the latter truly have no recollection of her. Later Zero talks to Elia and it seems everything was planned by her. Soon, Elia makes a live broadcast that the king has passed away this morning. The reason for the delayed announcement is to subdue assassination bids from his other brothers to seize the throne. But why assassinate the princesses who are down in the pecking order to inherit the throne? Because the duo are his daughters! They are his successors. OMG! So their brother is actually their father and the father king whom they thought is their grandpa? Confusing indeed. After 3 days of mourning, the town celebrates the coronation of the new king. On a side distraction, somebody mistook Souta and Megumu as part timers for the parade and made them dress up as groom and bride respectively. Megumu as a bride? Looks very much like the part… I wonder if he can get married… Souta can tell Hakua is forcing herself to be happy and allows her to talk her troubles to him. He might regret it because an annoying girl flag pops up and she just cannot stop talking! Souta advises her that her grandpa would prefer to see her smile instead of sad and depressed. The other girls heard and feel sorry for not being sensitive. They all welcome her to Souta’s harem club and sing praises for Souta. Don’t even ask…

That night, Zero confronts Souta. She introduces herself as Mei’s former superior. She explains a nearby tombstone detailing the tragic story of the 2 princesses. Continuing where we were left off, a queen raised the royal flag and managed to drive the demons away. However it cost her life. The boy although received a blessing from the goddess, he used it to revive the princess and others instead of healing his own illness. The princesses and her comrades made this torn flag as their country’s symbol. It has become a story of hope and despair especially with that boy who has no name. A boy who turned into a strange flag to save a country. Souta feels this story is similar to his past. He fears it will still lead to destruction no matter what he does. He has done everything he can to defeat the death flag but it just wouldn’t go away. He sensed the death flag trying to gather everyone’s bad intentions to kill him. He wanted to kill himself but was scared. Zero says she loves this world and will not hesitate to kill a princess or take any lives for that. She reveals she was the one behind the assassination setup in which also serves as bait to get rid of the opposition in one fell swoop. It was also to judge the capability of the princesses. Killing 2 birds with a stone. Souta can see she is serious to a point of sacrificing her life for this world. She asks him how does he feel in a world that doesn’t need him. He might not be able to answer now but she looks forward to hear it. Zero visits some dungeon and praises him for deceiving them and escaping his bonds. Someone has escaped from the chains in a cell as Zero notes someone like him will never be able to save Souta, his beloved brother.

Episode 10
Mimori has spent a meaningful holiday in the mountains and now back at Quest Dormitory, she really looks forward to see Souta. But who the hell is this little princess Hakua?! You might have guessed it too. She becomes a transfer student in his class. In addition of not minding being his secret lover, she has him sign some documents which turn out to be recommendation of participants for the school’s beauty contest. Why is it that most of his harem girls are here? Even Megumu… As everyone has fun preparing for the school festival, Souta continues to be bothered about his death flag fate. He is worried he will end up just like that boy in the story. But after having fun with the girls even at the most trivial and silliest of reasons, he believes this is all he can do now. He wants to make everyone laugh even if it’s just a bit longer. As the beauty contest begins, the judges are Tsumugi (too ‘old’ to be a participant?), Kurumiko (too young?) and Souta (who better than the guy who recommended them all). So all the 9 participants introduce themselves on stage and it seems either their favourite thing is Souta or he is the most important thing in their lives. Yeah. Souta. You lucky bastard. For the swimsuit contest, everyone wears a t-shirt over. It is suggested Souta have to shoot a water gun to make their shirt wet and reveal their swimsuit. I don’t know… Sounds so lewd… Looks so lewd… In the end, everyone accumulates the same number of points. Even the judges give the same score. Can’t decide? My guts tell me all the guys voted for everyone because all of them are just too cute and moe not to vote. The final tie-breaker sees the girls confessing to Souta and Nanami is made to go first. She starts off by saying she hates him because the first time they met, he was such a gloomy and pathetic person. It got better after spending time together but now it’s back again. She doesn’t know what is going on but she knows he has done his best. This makes Souta realize that it wasn’t about his fate or death flag. He is happy someone noticed it. He starts crying! So touching Nanami’s speech that the other girls too can’t help but cry and automatically declare her the winner. Yeah. So much points that the computer exploded! Her prize is a free escort pass by him. Lastly, finally the last of the harem, Serika Ginyuuin bumps into Souta and she wants him to help hide her.

Episode 11
Serika is a famous idol and the moment Nanami finds out about it, she almost went ga-ga. Uh huh. Big Serika fan. Wow. A side you’d never see of her. So she is somewhat upset that Souta doesn’t know a single thing about her. Serika and Nanami become good friends as the latter lends her uniform so the idol can disguise better while going around the festival. From her name, Souta guesses that she is the bard in the story. Serika talks how she became such a nationwide famous idol. Humble and nervous beginnings led her nowhere even though her friends and teacher cheered her on. She was only an idol in name as everyone else ignored her. She was about to give up as she thought instead of bringing everyone happiness, everyone brought happiness to her, there is this familiar hooded boy walking up to her to tell her she can’t give up among other words of encouragement. She will inspire others in the future. He knows because she has this success flag on her head. She didn’t lose hope and soon fortune smiled on her and she became who she is today. She viewed that boy like a prophet but never got the chance to thank him. After she leaves, Nanami has this look at Souta. Know what she is thinking? Yeah. She has a pretty good idea who that guy in Serika’s past is. So Souta says it is him but he initially didn’t want to do it out of goodwill because at that time he was about to commit suicide when he saw Serika. He thought talking to her would make him feel better but eventually he saved her. Even so, Nanami is very pissed that Souta had more impact in Serika’s life than her. That night all the girls dress up nicely because they are looking forward to dance with Souta at the dance party despite he can’t dance. Oh what the heck. Just give it a go. And of course, Ruri’s legend about this dance party that couples will get married if they dance with each other… Believe it or not.

Before that, everyone attends Serika’s concert and Nanami just can’t wait to get into the action. Serika spots her in the crowd but when she sees Souta, she feels something familiar about him. Then the song starts. Souta notices everyone has a shining flag. The light converges to Serika before uniting at him. He has always thought his death flag brought only evil and despair but realizes he has people to connect him with. People who give him hope that will shine through the despair. Suddenly the world freezes. Data numbers are seen running through everyone. Zero appears before him and explains the world he went with Mei before is a virtual world. There are many of such worlds created by the Council of Seven Virtues to help combat Angel Boat. In a world composed of network and data, trouble begin when the system called Angel Boat existing in cyberspace to watch over the real world went berserk and it is a matter of time before it takes over the real world. Because of Souta’s ability to see and control flags, they need his power to alter data of events and reach Angel Boat. Souta feels depressed although he is mostly calm. He now has all information on the network. He knows everything. But why him? The council has been running simulations in created worlds a hundred million times faster than reality. Sacrament guided their way. The Souta of this world only met her and was given her power. Fate or coincidence it doesn’t matter as his power has grown and perfected. Souta now understands he can’t break his death flag. It’s like a curse. It’s like she gave her power just for him to understand that. Now that his power is complete, this world will collapse if he continues to stay. So while everyone is at the dance party, gloomy Souta is pondering despite this is one of the many virtual worlds, this is the only world he had. Sorry everybody. Nanami wonders where Souta is hiding his ass when she felt something ominous. Then Akane asks. Who is Souta?

Episode 12
Electronics of the world go offline. Seems Angel Boat has steadily increased its influence. Don’t worry. Souta is fighting off the hordes of Angel Boat by putting death flags on their head. But there are more of them… Zero communicates with him to protect the Principality of Bladefield as it is the world and main server. So long it doesn’t fall, the world will not be destroyed. Meanwhile Nanami finds the other girls have forgotten about Souta. Kikuno never had a brother, Rin never had a childhood friend and Megumu is the only guy staying at the dorm. She tries to show them the room where Souta lives but it is locked. After Akane fell through the floor, it is cordoned off. They think she is just tired after the festival. As graduation day comes, Quest Dormitory will be torn down as the girls wonder why they are living in this place since it is far away from school. Nanami then rushes back to break down the door to Souta’s room. When she sees his letter, she recognizes her handwriting. Ruri approaches her. She hasn’t forgotten about Souta and realizes Nanami was the one to break Protect Mode from Souta. To reveal all the truth to her, Ruri kisses her! What the?! Yuri kiss?! I guess it is faster this way. In the virtual world, Nanami meets her other self who claims she is Souta’s brother. Slowly Nanami’s memories return as she now knows about Council of Seven Virtues. The control information networks and increased the net worth of Principality of Bladefield. As a secret organization as countermeasure to fight against Angel Boat. That is when Zero found Souta, a prince of the Bladefield. Why use him? As the tale is true, the founding queen, Kagura is a descendent of a young man of a royal lineage and female knight who fought the demons. The story tells of a descendent who will be blessed with magnificent powers. That is Souta.

Zero linked Souta’s soul with many other virtual worlds to form a large simulation to activate his power. This means Nanami brought Souta to the virtual world to save him. But Zero sensed them and obstructed them. As a result, Nanami was divided into 2 pieces of data. One was imprisoned in the virtual world and the other placed like a pawn as his classmate. The imprisoned Nanami managed to escape and tried setting up a programme to help Souta but her powers reached its limits. She ended up in Ruri’s body that she found but also fell asleep. In the end Ruri created a new personality of her own. Now that their memories are synchronized, all that is left is to merge back into one. As Souta is fighting endlessly, they need to gather other heroes to save him. Once back in the world, Nanami wants Ruri to lend her power. Akane is seen peeping at the door and she is sad because she feels like she has lost something important but can’t figure out what it is. Nanami also wants her help. Oh look. All the other girls are here too. So the dozen girls plus Miyuki are at the stone tomb and since this Souta guy is believed to be such a precious person to them, the only right thing to do is to go help him. They activate something in the tomb that opens a portal to another dimension. Souta is tired from the endless fighting. Oh great. More Angel Boat. More defeat flags popping up from the ground. And Premium Ambriel couldn’t be timelier coming into the scene. It’s like they really want to kill him. But don’t fear! Nanami and the gang are here in time to protect him. Yeah. They’re in their full RPG gear now.

Episode 13
Why is Souta sad that all the girls come to his rescue? He should be happy his harem is here. Okay, sorry for the bad joke. The girls fight Angel Boat and of course telling us why Souta is important to them. In short, they love him. The last boss flag is activated. Premium Ambriel absorbs those angels to become a giant boat with wings. Get it? Angel Boat. I hope they didn’t actually make a pun out of this. So powerful that it blasts to girls unconscious. Souta needs to do something or they’ll lose. Is there a special death flag that can defeat it? Ultimate death flag? What’s that? Souta finds himself transported back on that day on Premium Ambriel, the real truth that he had forgotten. A fire breaks out on the ship and everyone evacuates. Souta and his girls too but Souta saw a lost girl (Sacrament) and went to help her. Actually she is Laplace Demon and she knows who Souta is. They get lost and this time Souta sees a guy pinned under the rubble. He helps him get out but another quake rocks the place. Now he is pinned underneath. The guy can’t do it by himself and runs off promising to bring help. Souta wasn’t convinced by his words and felt he was abandoned to die. Laplace Demon plays mind games with him that no one is coming back and how does it feel to be betrayed by the person he rescued. She thinks people are the same in different worlds while Souta becomes scared he doesn’t want to die. Suddenly that guy returns with help, among them Souta’s harem. Everyone helps lift the pile but suddenly death flags form on their head. Everyone one except Souta will die. Fate is cruel, isn’t it? But what if there is a way to change it? As he alone doesn’t have a death flag, he can change everyone’s fate. Combine their death flag into one and shoulder its burden. That is, take in all the elements of death and despair (scenes of him being the only survivor, being mocked and attempted suicides). This is the price of saving everyone. Souta agrees to carry the burden. Laplace will remove everyone’s memories while he will live alone and curse his decision and the world around him. Souta believes he won’t because the world is beautiful. No matter how much he is in despair, he’ll continue to shout that. His girls too won’t forget about him. They promise to find him someday. The death flag that holds together the fate of his death is used for this moment. Souta is to pierce through Angel Boat but it’s not enough. Suddenly all the girls help support and give him that much needed push to destroy the final boss. He is glad everyone kept their promise.

He wakes up in the real world. Zero is by his side explaining although there are still problems after that battle, they are at peace now because they won. Souta refused to enroll in school, got into an accident and hovered between life and death. He then met Sacrament and Laplace Demon. They are the emotions Angel Boat discarded upon rebelling against humanity. The Council of Seven Virtues has been simulating these programmes along with the virtual world simulations for humans to fight against Angel Boat. Laplace Demon embodies self-sacrifice while Sacrament represents bonds between people. The result as he has seen. Zero feels as though humanity is being tested. She takes off her mask. Souta is surprised she is Nanami but on the contrary, she is Kagura. She thanks him from the bottom of her heart. Because she once lived believing to protect her principality in which is no different than Angel Boat. She realized she has been saved by the things she turned away from a long time ago. She lets him know the days he spent in the virtual world were nothing more than a flash in reality with nobody to share them. Nanami who dived into the world to save him is no exception. After she leaves, Nanami comes in and hugs him. She is so happy to see her brother well. In the aftermath, Souta returns to the dorm. He sees Akane but she doesn’t remember him. They get along well since they will be moving in soon. As they take a look around, Souta remembers the spot Akane fell through and died. He saves her in time. She notes he saved him… Again. He also notes that she kept her promise… Again. Sacrament and Laplace Demon watch them and comment how interesting humans are. They have just showed them how beautiful this world is. The rest of the other girls head and meet up outside the dorm where Nanami is waiting.

Episode 14 (OVA)
A Christmas episode. The girls are looking forward so much to the Christmas Eve party when suddenly it is cancelled! But thanks to Souta (yes, Souta. NOT Santa) he somehow got it going. I don’t know what he did but he saved Christmas. He’s like a saint, no? So we’ve got all his harem girls dressed in cute-cum-sexy Santarina outfits while Souta is the only one in a reindeer. He’s the only boy, right? Oh… Megumu… Nice Santarina outfit there… The party gets underway with the only flag cutting incident when Rin and Kikuno have a yandere flag popping up on their heads as they want to cut the cake with Souta. Then everyone plays the King Game and by coincidence or fate, Souta is ordered to take off pieces of paper over Akane’s body! With his mouth! There’s one between the legs… Too steamy to watch! Are you girls excited yet? Before the next turn begins, all of them place paper all over themselves. But Souta becomes king. He gives boring orders. Do impersonation of Mei? Do a punch line? This has to stop. Next event is exchanging presents like musical chairs. For the girl who received Souta’s present, she feels happy but feels bad for the rest and restarts the exchanging thingy again. This goes on for several rounds till Souta had to put a stop to this. He got enough presents for everyone. Next is the moment that the girls probably are waiting for: To spend an allotted time alone with Souta. Who the heck make up such programmes? Since we can’t fit everyone in, we only get to see a selected few. Like Akane having Souta sleeping on her lap (she’s very happy about it like as though she reached her goal – oh wait, it is her goal!), Mei is so panicky that she desperately seeks Kurumiko’s advice and the latter was cool enough to suggest a bold doggy move (this loli isn’t as innocent as you think), an ambiguous steamy scene with Megumu (which ends in an un-climaxing way of Souta putting blankets over him), Souta shoulder massaging Miyuki (she takes a picture of them to send to her mom but instantly got a misunderstood call she has a boyfriend or targeting one of her students).

Serika gets a bit more screen time in this segment as she is unhappy she has to spend time with this jerk. She even brought Nanami with her just in case. After all that badmouthing, Serika remembers something and rummages through his closet. What the heck is a girl’s panties doing here? Dunno. Ask Kikuno. Left out of consideration? WTF. Then she finds his purple hood and realizes she is that person from back then. It is really him. She goes into berserk panicking mode after realizing she insulted him. It’s like she could turn into a psycho any second now. It’s just painful watching her like this. Thank goodness time is over as Nanami takes Souta away. Serika is left confused that he didn’t say anything despite being close to her. Outside the dorm, it starts snowing. This makes Nanami note that although they were born and raised in different lands, yet they are spending Christmas Eve together. They have grown closer to each other seeing the same sights together. Like as though it’s their own Christmas miracle. The duo get close enough to initiate a kiss (yes, definitely it is going to be a kiss!) when suddenly all the other girls come crashing through the door. What the heck were those busybodies doing? Anyway they’re trying to change the topic about heaviness and weights. The one at the bottom of the pile has got to be the most disadvantageous, right? But Souta helps them all up and they go back inside. Merry Christmas folks.

Red Flag! My Brains Were Toppled!
Confused flag. It was raised very early in the series and never went away. Gosh. I think I have a hundred confused flags on my head right now. Sad to say, I find this series hard to understand. I cannot comprehend what is going on aside the fun filled harem days. Oh yeah. I sure loved that part. The only parts I understood. So when there were hints and scenes about hinting that there is more than meets the eye, the damning revelation about the virtual world or something (was everything a dream then?), I was already completely lost. (Heck, I don’t even understand or see what that Miyuki taking over as the main character had any connection with everything else before and after. Unless everything was undone). I cannot connect the dots no matter how many times I replay the scene. I gave up. Too bad a person like me whose fate was sealed in the beginning. Therefore by the time the series reached its end, I wasn’t shocked, angry, upset, happy, satisfied or anything. Except numb. Because I was just dumbfounded the entire way with my mouth wide open (okay, so I exaggerated). As though I have never watched the series in the first place because right now my mind is completely blank. Worse than any memory erasing spell.

Thus some of those who call the harem part unnecessary and a distraction to this, maybe those intelligent people do get it but sorry, for me I’m just too dumb to appreciate what is going on. Therefore I don’t mind if you start scorning me that I love the harem parts a hundred times more than anything else in this series. And it is because personally too romantic harem comedies are my favourite genres so call me a pervert otaku loser if you want. That’s who I am. Oh great. I think I just revealed too much. But you get the idea. Learning this anime was a harem genre attracted me to watch it. What more, a dozen girls. Hell more than the average of 3 or 4. I am not saying that this anime is bad. Having a different twist to this series isn’t that bad. Masking it under the guise of a harem anime isn’t bad either and it is great in addition to your ubiquitous high school setting. But if you want to fully enjoy a series, first and foremost you have to understand what is going on in the first place, right? I didn’t get that. Therefore I was already toppled from the beginning with no chance of recovery.

So let’s not go too deeply into the storyline because I know it’s interesting but too confusing for me to elaborate. Thanks to that, the show isn’t considered to be that funny except only when it comes down to the harem parts. Therefore I’ll just head into the harem section that I love best. (Haters going to hate?). It is unique that they decide to assign RPG classes to the girls and although the girls in their RPG roles don’t play a significant part, it was fun (at least on my part) to guess what kind of class they belong to. Some are obvious as you can guess from their surnames like Nanami’s knight, Akane the magician, Ruri the ninja and Mei the samurai. The rest weren’t so since my Japanese vocabulary isn’t that high standard. But like I said, even though they have such surnames that let us know their classes, I can hardly see how they play a significant role in the anime. You can say it’s that tale or something but in terms of the storyline, how does that contribute to anything?

With a dozen girls, it is hard for all of them to be getting a fair share of the limelight and thus I feel only the first half of them (namely Nanami, Akane, Kikuno, Megumu, Rin and Ruri) are given much prominence while the rest feel more like supporting in the background. Despite the many girls and their varied personalities and even looks, all of them feel like they represent some sort of archetype and trope like Nanami and Mei’s tsundere, Akane the super rich girl, Kurumiko the loli, Ruri the robot and Kikuno the big sister. Heck, I can’t believe Megumu is supposed to be the trap trope. Eventually all of them love Souta. It might be odd that suddenly girls flock to him and they might not realize it but I have a feeling it is because of that promise they made so unconsciously they may be doing so. I don’t know if Miyuki is considered part of the harem since she is part of the heroes fighting along with the heroes. Heck, she may be the 13th and hidden harem girl.

It is nice to see that some of the girls are given background flashbacks to see how they met Souta like Rin and even Serika. However due to the sheer amount of girls and limited number of episodes, in a way the character development for them and the rest are not fully fleshed out. For example, Serika as the last girl to be introduced and appearing quite late in the series have only a small flashback scene to tell us how she is connected to Souta. Sometimes it feels like things are being rushed. The most intriguing of them all is Megumu because I believe that guy is so girly in every way that I find it hard to believe he is a guy despite the numerous ‘reminders’ from his disappointed reaction when everyone continues to refer him as a girl. Then there is that very intriguing part when Megumu was dressed in a gown although he said it was his sisters doing. Somehow that doesn’t feel convincing. Deep down inside my heart, I believe Megumu is a girl. Unless they’re really gunning for this trap thing. Otherwise, if she looks like a girl, sounds like a girl and acts like a girl, then by all means she is a girl, no?

Another intriguing one is Tsumugi. This loli is supposed to be an elder and thus the oldest among the pack and it feels there is something off with her being portrayed as a loli. Something more than meets the eye. But that isn’t really explored. Maybe blame the programme. Hey, this is the virtual world, right? Or is it reality? Mimori is also interesting with her fickle behaviour. Sometimes it feels like she is the troublemaker because most of the time it is her fault that gets our gang into a predicament like how Souta is going to be expelled if they don’t win the MVP. All that is her doing, right? And at times she acts like a really shy girl because she likes Souta. But too bad she isn’t one of the main six… The most baffling one goes to Mei because after her character reset, it feels like her role is to be part of the harem and that is it. Because it feels that her initial mission of determining if Souta would become a danger to the world becomes the flag of her to become part of his harem. A fall from grace if I should say because she turned from a cool capable chick into a tsundere.

Blame the sheer number of girls too that the romance department feels lacking. They should have more of that dating episode and expand the number of girls dating him but I guess that would be in expense of the twist and plot. Because as we know beforehand, everybody loves Souta. He is the main reason and motivation why they do things with and around him. But I guess that is why they call it a harem genre. You really can’t have a pair blossoming and leave the rest in the lurch unless you want to incur the wrath of certain groups of fans. So generally everybody understands their love for Souta and continues to be friends and live their happy normal life. Well, if that was only applicable in the real world. Speaking of which, they were inside a virtual programme, right? So I guess such benevolent harem is possible there. Another surprising fact (or not) is that the fanservice is quite minimal and not heavy. Probably from my part I was being dumbfounded by the confusion to fully ‘appreciate’ it.

The art and drawing are okay with each girl having a distinct hairstyle and hair colour that you can easily identify with so that you won’t mix up or mistake with some other character. Except maybe for Sacrament and Laplace Demon. But sometimes I wonder the baby face looks on the harem girls’ face make me wonder if they are overdoing this moe thing. It is further enhanced with that pink blush on their cheeks. Even Miyuki has this cute baby face look. Tsumugi’s case may be just really overdoing it because assuming she is really an old grandma but looks like a loli. It’s like they are hinting about some cougar trope or something. Oh yeah. Only in anime where girls can look so much younger than they really are without any invasive surgery or Botox.

The voice acting seems pretty okay but I only have one qualm. Yukari Tamura as the voice of Mimori! Now, don’t get me wrong that I dislike her voice. Who wouldn’t love that squeaky cutie voice she makes? Just that I feel that employing her voice with a character that wears pads all over her body doesn’t seem suitable. I thought a more assertive voice like Youko Hikasa or Marina Inoue would be more fitting but I suppose once you get to know her clumsy personality, then maybe it fits. But generally, I still think it isn’t that 100% suitable. Recognizable seiyuus include Kana Asumi as Kikuno, Youko Hikasa as Rin, Kana Hanzawa as Megumu and Aoi Yuuki as Serika. I was tad surprise to find out that Aki Toyosaki was behind Tsumugi’s voice. I should have recognized her by then. I should. Probably I haven’t heard her in a while and I forgot! How could I?! Maybe Tsumugi didn’t have much screen time as some of the girls but that isn’t an excuse. Shame on me.

The rest of the casts include Ryota Ohsaka as Souta (Haruto in Valvrave The Liberator), Ibuki Kido as Nanami (Chinami in Golden Time), Ai Kayano as Akane (Inori in Guilty Crown), Ayaka Suwa as Ruri (Tokaku in Akuma No Riddle), Misaki Kuno as Kurumiko (Serara in Log Horizon), Sakura Tange as Mei (Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura), Ai Kakuma as Hakua (Hami in Inu To Hasami Wa Tsukaiyou), Yuuka Nanri as Miyuki (Nao in Mai-HiME), Risa Taneda as Zero (Mirai in Kyoukai No Kanata) and Rina Hidaka as Sakura/Sacrament (Airi in Ryo-Kyu-Bu).

The opening is Cupid Reviews by Aoi Yuuki. I didn’t realize it was her singing this song. Probably she’s putting up a very cutie voice. Anyway I thought this song sounds a bit like Broadway since it has this fun and lively fanfare. The ending theme sounds more like anime pop, Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Tateru Wake by YELL, which is a group basically consisting half of the girls in Souta’s harem (Ibuki Kido, Ai Kayano, Kana Asumi, Kana Hanazawa, Youko Hikasa and Ayaka Suwa if you must know).

In the end, it got me thinking that this might be a harem version of The Matrix minus all that bullet time action effect. So unless you have a brilliant mind of going on what is in the plot, do yourself a favour and just watch for the harem entertainment. If you are into harem genres anyway. But even so, there are ‘better’ ones out there. And more importantly, at the end of the day I still cannot fully understand what a flag is. I wouldn’t care about it because if only I had a harem of a dozen girls then maybe I’d really love to live in such a virtual world happily ever after. Too bad I always knew I had this loser flag on my head… Yeah, reality sucks.

Momo Kyun Sword

February 21, 2015

After turning and twisting history by turning famous historians into females (the Nobunaga one must have been done to death), what is left next? Why, turn famous folklores into just that! And so, for those who are familiar with one of the more famous Japanese folklores of Momotarou whereby a boy born out of a peach goes on a journey to fight ogres with his trusty animal companions, I guess leave it to anime once more to twist and gender bend this Momotarou kid into a busty female version! Oh yeah. How else would you attract perverted viewers to learn more about the folklore? Uhm, seriously if you think about it, I don’t see how it would. But anyway Momo Kyun Sword is exactly that. The boy in of the original story becomes a girl in this anime as she goes on a journey fighting ogres to collect fragments of an all-powerful peach that could change the fate of the universe if fallen into the wrong hands. But you don’t really care about all that, don’t you? Because we’re only here for the peachy fanservice, right?

Episode 1
As we know from the original Momotarou story, this time a girl was born from the peach, Momoko. She grows up to be one heck of a busty babe. Yeah… Those peaches indeed… As the ogres are on the move for the 3000 year peach, the Celestial Maiden Sumeragi sends her Four Maidens on a mission. Each representing an element, they are Maron (earth), Suika (water), Ringo (fire) and Karin (air). In the Peach Village of Bizen province, Momoko hones her skills with her animal companions, Inugami, Sarugami and Kijigami. Though, she still has lots more to polish up. Although she is sad whenever seeing other normal happy family, nevertheless she is grateful to have adoptive grandma and grandpa as her parents and those animals as her family. Her grandparents call her to inform that they heard news of ogres attacking villages recently. She is eager to protect this village. When a villager reports of strangely clothed figures approaching this village, Momoko assumes it is them and rushes out to fight. She mistakes the Four Maidens to be ogres. However the animals recognize them as servants of Heaven. Soon, ogres appear and attack the village. Together they defeat the ogre menace. The Four Maidens reveal their mission to recover and protect pieces of the 3000 year peach that are scattered throughout Japan. If it falls into the ogres’ hands, great trouble will befall the country. The big boss ogre, Tekki has got his hands on a peach piece at the local shrine. Obviously nobody, not even Momoko is any match for his brute strength. Inugami suggests a Soul Fusion move. It has never worked before but this is the only change they got. Momoko combines with Inugami to become more agile and powerful. This takes Tekki by surprise and sends him and his army withdrawing. Momoko couldn’t concentrate further and this breaks up Soul Fusion resulting her almost naked. Sumeragi talks to Momoko and hopes she could use her powers to stop the ogres from retrieving the peach pieces. Why her? Would she be enough? Because the Four Maidens are just so unreliable compared to her super strength. At least she’s being honest. Like Momoko has got a choice anyway. And so Momoko and her animal companions leave on a journey to stop those ogres.

Episode 2
Tekki reports his failure to the ogre king, Jakiou and will accept his punishment. However he wants to him to redeem himself. They have a few fragments of the pieces but not enough to make their dream come true. Meanwhile, Onihime, Jakiou’s only daughter bugs Genki to take her to the human world or she will let Enki torment him. Momoko continues to fare badly in Soul Fusion. The Four Maidens detect the next peach piece in Harima province. They don’t know how many pieces there are or exactly where but can feel its great energy now and then. Sarugami mocks they do not have enough training to do this on their own, thus the need for Momoko’s help. The maidens got insulted by a monkey… In town, Momoko bumps into Onihime and they enter an eating contest just because they are fighting over the last dango stick. Man, those ladies can eat till the shop can’t produce anymore food for them! Fatties! Mad Genki has found Onihime and takes her away as he has found the fragment’s location. And now who is going to pay for all that food? Momoko and the Four Maidens find a house owner who is in possession of the piece. However he won’t hand it over since it is a family treasure. What perfect security is he talking about when the town is suddenly in flames! Suika tries to douse the flames but nothing happens. Then Maron uses her hammer and smashes the illusion. This illusion brought to you by Genki as he and his ogres are searching the place. His illusions are so good that you could really feel that they’re real. Like that clothes melting slime… When Momoko and Onihime see each other, their rivalry goes up another notch. The rest are trapped in a quicksand illusion. Sarugami breaks free and wants to do Soul Fusion. Momoko is still unsure till Sumeragi’s servant pops up. This sacrifice fetish maiden (read: masochist), Kushinada is here to bring kibi dango made by Sumeragi herself to help strengthen and calm her mind. Although it tastes like sh*t, they feel the power welling up. Their Soul Fusion is perfect as Momoko kicks Onihime’s ass. She even defeats Genki and frees her comrades from the illusion. However the piece is in Onihime’s hands and she won’t acknowledge this defeat and will definitely get back at her. She commands her ogres to withdraw for now. Momoko wants to chase but her Soul Fusion breaks. Almost naked again? So our frustrated girls take out their frustrations by eating. Aren’t they worried about getting fat?

Episode 3
Sumeragi detects another fragment in the Yamato prefecture. Momoko and the maidens are joined by an onmyouji from the imperial court, Abeno Seimei and his familiar Toutetsu to search for the piece. The path is laden with lots of traps and they had to rely on Karin’s unreliable reading? It’s like as though she is leading them into the traps. Onihime and Enki are also here but rather than working hard, Enki suggests letting them find the piece first and then they will snatch it from them. Unfortunately they have a hard time too because of the traps. Some not entirely their fault but Momoko’s since she unleashed them and they are unlucky enough to bear the brunt of it. That night when they are resting, the ogre ladies kidnap Karin and if they want her back, they must give the fragment. So while our good girls go in search for it, Karin tells her kidnappers that they won’t come and save her because she is useless. She is not worth saving. So when the piece is finally found, Maron is going to take it back straight to Heaven. What about Karin? Oh. That stern reminder that it is their duty to protect the peaches, blah, blah, blah. So much about being comrades. Onihime and Enki really waited. Looks like they’re not coming after all. Enki wants to do something naughty to alleviate her boredom when the maidens arrive to help her. Change of heart? Or were they not being honest in the first place? Enki manages to snatch the piece and orders their escape, much to Onihime’s dismay because she really wants to settle her score. No choice, they let the ogre guards keep the heroines at bay. The maidens and Seimei help fight them so Momoko can go after the piece. Momoko and Kijigami do Soul Fusion. Yeah. They have to eat that sh*t ball again. Momoko is able to pinpoint the ogre ladies and strikes them down with her arrows of light. Enki protects Onihime. They are forced to give up the fragment. Frustrated Onihime vows to get revenge on Enki’s part the next time. And as usual, Momoko can’t concentrate when she realizes her boobs are baring and breaks the Soul Fusion. Onihime apologizes to Enki for letting her get hurt. Of course Enki couldn’t let the ogre king’s daughter get hurt and is more important than any fragment. Onihime finds the human world interesting and hopes she can take her there again. Seimei reports to his scientist colleague, Kaguya. They believe they have the trump card and for now to let them continue as they are. For it is a 3 way fight to gather the pieces and they believe the peach is supposed to belong to the humans.

Episode 4
Now in the Suruga prefecture, the beautiful ocean and sandy beaches are quite tempting. Actually in fact, Sumeragi has called everyone here just to rest and relax. Part of the employee benefits? Guess what? Onihime and the rest are here too. Sumeragi suggests a truce for today. And so this is your obligated swimsuit beach episode with wardrobe malfunction hijinks. The kind where the guys get beaten up for seeing the girls change all because clumsy Karin tripped and brought down the tent. I didn’t know Kijigami can transform into such a busty human form? Our guys are left wagging their tails and tongue as they watch our beautiful babes play in the sand. The animals and ogre are called to join in and thus Seimei is left out. He is happy when Sumeragi cooks for him but he doesn’t know how much a poison it is. It almost killed him… Momoko learns Onihime admires her great dad who united the ogres. She wants to become like him one day. Onihime feels bad for asking Momoko about her parents. Seimei and Genki accidentally fish up a giant squid. Oh dear. I think I know what is going to happen. Kushinada will gladly sacrifice herself to it but I guess big squid isn’t interested in some masochist and hits her away into the sky. The rest try cutting its tentacles but it regenerates. Its body is hard to pierce too. After the Four Maidens unleash their elemental powers, wait no more because here comes the obligated tentacle rape scene! The guys are just loving watching this scene unfolding before their eyes. Sumeragi detects a peach piece inside the squid. And then pervy squid takes off their swimsuits… Momoko can’t concentrate if she’s naked so she is forced to wear the chucked swimsuits of the other girls. Either too big or too tight. Only Onihime’s one fits the bill. Does it feel like some sort of insult to her? Momoko does Soul Fusion with Inugami to strike through the squid. Once she retrieves the piece, the squid returns to its small puny size. It is explained even a small fragment holds infinite powers and can even amplify it. This time it isn’t Momoko losing concentrating but rather Inugami because he can’t control himself seeing Sumeragi’s godly naked body. Onihime suffers from sunburn and learns her painful lesson to put sun tan properly. Never playing at the beach again? Oh yeah. No more squids for her too.

Episode 5
Momoko and her animal companions are lost in a thick fog. They nearly attacked each other. This is the work of Youki whose mists have been sent them reeling in defeat for the second consecutive time. Jakiou praises Youki for getting the job done as Youki explains his fog contains faint smell of poison that makes them lose their senses. Jakiou warns not to get overconfident. Till they have enough fragments, they cannot afford to be less than ruthless. Naturally Momoko and her animal companions end up blaming each other and the tension is rising between them. A fortune teller is able to tell their predicament and also warn that one of them will bring misfortune on others. Of course this is all a trap set by Youki because once they suspect each other, their heart and minds will not be as one and Soul Fusion is impossible. The argument reaches boiling point that they decide to go their separate ways. The Four Maidens are worried and try to convince them to get back on good terms but it’s not easy. When Momoko falls off a cliff (I don’t know how she survived that), she remembers her animal companions comforting her when she was sad or did something bad. Likewise, they remember how Momoko came into their life. I guess you can’t beat those nostalgic good times so they have the same idea of returning to Momoko. Speaking of her, she is set upon by Youki’s ogres. He is going to have a little fun and has increased the poison dosage in his mist. The animals are having a hard time trying to locate her but Karin’s wind blows away the mist to clear a path for them straight to her. Momoko and Sarugami do Soul Fusion and break Youki’s little jar of misty poison before he escapes in utter defeat. Momoko and her animal companions apologize to each other and made up as they continue their journey to the next town.

Episode 6
The Four Maidens meet Momoko and co in the Kazusa prefecture. Suddenly what seems to be a group of samurais going to besiege them, they actually crowd around the Four Maidens! Seems one of them saw them in real life and rumours spread. Now they’ve become popular enough to warrant their own pin-up posters. I guess you know what comes next. Yup. They become idols! Holy cow! With Sumeragi is the manager, she has them wear frilly idol clothes and do lots of idol-like activities from handshakes to concerts. Merchandises and pictures fly off the shelves. It’s already odd seeing heavenly maidens do this but even odder just to think that these samurai clones are falling head over heels for such stuffs. Even Seimei and Toutetsu are supporting their idol activities as their security. Sumeragi then announces a super live concert they will be doing. A long queue just to get the tickets. Inugami and Sarugami comment that they still prefer Momoko and that those men go head over heels after seeing some skin. Till Toutetsu come to deliver their special front set tickets for the concert. Look who’s talking, eh? I guess all men are the same. Since they haven’t been finding fragments since this idol business started, Momoko confronts them. They leave it to her to do so as their schedules are packed. This leaves Momoko heartbroken as she goes off to find it herself in a nearby forest. However there are ogres waiting. Some of them are illusions while others are real. Courtesy from Genki’s illusion of course. Momoko’s words weigh heavily on the Four Maidens. They reflect on what they are doing. So when it is time to perform, they tell their fans that they will quit being idols and return to what they should be doing in the first place. All this is planned out by Sumeragi who wanted to make them realize their purpose and what is important. Seimei is amazed by her foresight till he learns they also wanted money to maintain their lifestyle. Goodness… Then all the samurais start hounding Seimei for refunds! The Four Maidens drop in to help Momoko. This buys her time to do Soul Fusion with Kijigami and send Genki to another defeat with achieving another fragment as icing on the cake. When some samurais spot the Four Maidens, the quartet flee leaving Momoko to fend herself. She panics and breaks up Soul Fusion. In the aftermath, Momoko’s naked body becomes the new pin-up poster for those samurai guys. It’s flying off the shelves at record speed. Though, Momoko isn’t happy about it… Popular for the wrong reasons, yeah…

Episode 7
In another battle for the peach fragment, not only Momoko lost it, during the fight with Onihime she dropped her dagger and charm. She abandons the match to go find it and this doesn’t sit well for Onihime who believes she has just been ignored. Even more irritating is that Jakiou didn’t really praise her as she got her first piece. When she goes down to the human world again, she sees Momoko and co still finding for it! She learns the dagger and charm are important to Momoko and grandpa gave it to her. It is her only tie to wherever she came from. Of course this makes Onihime feel that she is the bad guy (of course technically she is). Because of that, she takes out her frustrations by punishing Genki. Thank goodness he isn’t a masochist… Youki heard about it and sends his ogres to find it. Now the forest is really crowded. It’s funny to see ogres looking for it. Momoko enlists the help of Four Maidens and even Seimei. However Seimei finds a fragment and keeps it to himself. Youki then appears. He has got the dagger and charm in his hands. If she wants it back, exchange all the fragments she has collected. He’ll be waiting. Momoko is reduced to tears so Four maidens take pity on her and try to talk to Sumeragi to give some. However her stance is no even though Momoko helped collected the bulk of it. As each piece has boundless power, imagine what will happen if the ogres use it? Thank Heavens that they’re just collecting it for now. Momoko continues to search while reflecting on her life. Next day she has decided. She is giving up searching for it because there are other things more important to her. They’re going to beat up Youki and take it from him. Onihime confronts Youki on pretence to see the dagger and charm before stealing it from him. She then returns it to Momoko and acts like a tsundere (because Momoko feels so much better instead of crying). Now with her treasure back in her hands, she does Soul Fusion with Sarugami to beat the crap out of Youki’s ass. Youki reports Onihime’s betrayal to Jakiou. Onihime has no regrets over what she did and will accept whatever punishment. But Jakiou won’t punish her since she acted on her ideals. As ideals make up one’s pride, he doesn’t have mercy for those without them and doesn’t care what foolish or dangerous things they do as long as they never forget their ogre pride. Seimei brings back the piece to Kaguya. More of them are resonating with each other and once this is complete, it will unleash an enormous power and the world will be theirs.

Episode 8
First a beach episode and now a hotspring episode! Momoko and co are here after hearing all the miracles this hotspring has to offer. Guess what? Onihime and Enki are here too. Not to mention Sumeragi and the Four Maidens. Fanservice galore round 2! So we’ve got boobs comparisons and the likes with Seimei trying to peep at them but to no avail since the girls heard him screaming out his plan and moved out. Once they’re done, they realize their panties are missing! Catch the panty thief! Seimei becomes suspect #1 and gets beaten up. He explains he is only interested in naked bodies and not underwear. Yeah. It still makes him a pervert. Inugami sniffs around and they find the inn master in possession with all their panties. As usual, beaten up real badly. So before they can torture him, they hear him out and it seems there is an ogre who craves for young girls’ panties. The men did so and the violence stopped but slowly the women left. That’s why he made up ‘miracles’ of this spring to attract women to this place. Of course they plan to put a stop to this and Enki thinks this is one of the rogue ogres too frightened of Jakiou and ran away to plague humans. Even ogres have their code of conduct. They can be nasty but fair and square. I think that itself is messed up. Kushinada gladly becomes the sacrifice offered along with a heap of panties. This rouge ogre turns out to be a little chubby ogre. He is only interested in panties and not the voluptuous sexy body of Kushinada! Unfortunate girl gets blown away in the sky instead of getting violated like she wanted. The other girls attack but the ogre gets mad when the panties are torn. He even violates the Four Maiden to check their underwear but finds their shorts to be uninteresting. Even more insulting is that he tosses away Sumeragi’s old lady underwear! Then when he eats a panty, he buffs up into some super strong ogre! WTF???!!! Seimei tries to have a man to man talk with it but I don’t think ogres are interested in it. Bye-bye Seimei. Momoko does Soul Fusion with Kijigami to fight it but to more panties it eats, the stronger it becomes. Accidentally it eats Sumeragi’s panties and it withers into a frail weak ogre! It spits out all the swallowed panties. OMFG! Is this even possible?! Sumeragi must be feeling so insulted… The ogre is round up and the town is safe. The wind blows up Momoko’s skirt and the guys got a free show. She’s not wearing anything underneath. You can guess what happens. Sumeragi changes to a younger looking panty and hopes rogue ogres would like them. Say. What?

Episode 9
All the fragments from all sides are resonating to some great power. Jakiou believes it is time and orders his underlings to go all out. Momoko and co are resting when Onihime drops by. Looks like she’s not here to fight. Uh huh. Genki and Enki left on some mission and nobody is around to play with her. So Momoko is the next best choice? As she ponders about her charm, Momoko takes out and reveals a ring. This stirs Onihime as she wonders who she could have that. She returns home to bring and show Momoko the exact same ring that her late mom gave it to her. The animals feel it is time to tell the truth. They were servants for a very beautiful and kind maiden in Heaven. However she had to flee Heaven because she broke a law and had children with an ogre. Due to her weak body, she used all her strength to reach the human realm. Her last wish is for them to take care of her children. Two peaches flowed down the stream and they only managed to save one. And that one is Momoko. So this means Onihime is her twin sister?! What revelation?! The rings are proof they are her children. So does this mean Jakiou is their father? No. Their father died before their mom came into this world. This means Jakiou is not Onihime’s real father! Ogres may have found the lost peach and Jakiou adopted her. Onihime cannot accept this and runs home to find her father but he is not around. It’s always like that, isn’t it? The Four Maidens alert Momoko that they sense a great piece nearby. This peach pit is the centre of the 3000 year old peach and is greater in power than all the other fragments. They must not lose this one. Seems the ogres are already there digging. Genki unleashes his horde of ogres to attack them. Tekki is back and will have his revenge. Momoko and Inugami do Soul Fusion but Tekki is more powerful than ever and beats them up like a ragdoll. Even the Four Maidens become punching bags. Don’t stand a chance, dude. Genki finds the peach pit. Meanwhile Youki finds Kaguya’s lab in the bamboo forest. He is here to invite her to join their side as her scientific brilliance is needed to utilize its great power. Seimei won’t hand her over. At first sucking up Youki’s poison mist might look like an easy job but when Enki comes whipping them, they lost. Youki offers Kaguya to come with them. She reveals her only goal is to return to the moon and will aid anyone who can grant her this wish. She defects to the ogre’s side and although Seimei calls her a traitor, she laughs at it because he should know better that they’re just using each other. Jakiou has the peach pit and he will make Sumeragi rue this day.

Episode 10
Our heroines are ruing their loss. Toutetsu brings them to Seimei as he wants to discuss things. He shows them the fragments he has. It means nothing if they don’t know how to harvest its power. He then shows a blueprint on how to activate its power. Such technology is not in possession by humans, ogres or Heaven. It is only known by Kaguya. She is a scientist from the moon who came here to research on humans. However her ship crashed and she has been stuck here ever since. Longing to go home, she struck a deal with the imperial court that if they gather the peach pieces, she could use her reactor technology and the peach to return to the moon. However she has defected. Maron believes he is still hiding something. Why does the imperial court want the peach’s power? Seimei doesn’t say anything so Toutetsu just reveals it. They want the peach’s power to subjugate Heaven and Ogre Island. Mankind has become tired of being oppressed by them and decided to fight back with greater power. Suddenly the fragments glow and start flying away. Seems all the fragments around Japan are on its way to become one, the reason they are resonating. This is Kaguya’s work as she has tuned them to flock them all over to Ogre Island. I guess this makes it easy for our heroines to find Ogre Island. They need to invade it before its power can be activated. However Momoko makes a pit stop since they passed by her village. She meets grandpa and grandma to tell them she knows about the whole truth. So why the gloomy face everybody? Her grandparents relate they never had any children before so when Momoko popped out of a peach, they were more happy than surprised. They treated her like their own child even though they know she was a union between a maiden and ogre. She has reached the age where she can decide for herself so feel free to do whatever she wants and come back whenever she likes. Oh my. Lots of drama. Lots of hugging. Lots of free flowing tears. Nothing like a good cry to let it all out. So once Momoko has got that over with, she rejoins the rest and continues the mission.

The peach has powered up enough for Kaguya to activate the engines that allows Ogre Island to float up to the surface. Then he fires laser beams everywhere to wreak havoc on the villages! What is this? The Death Star? And then one big shot up to Heaven! OMG! He blasted through Heaven! Jakiou will have his revenge on Sumeragi for banishing ogres deep into the ground on that day. Back then when Ogre Island attacked Heaven, it was with an insufficient power supply. To combat them, Sumeragi used the peach power, a more fearsome power and brought them down. It caused the peach to scatter into many pieces. He accuses Heaven of denying their rule by power and yet they ended up needing power to stop them. Sumeragi believes ruling by power will only bring more violence. But this is the world the ogres seek. Now with the 3000 year old peach in their hands, feel free to feel its power and cower before them. Here is another taste of its awesome blast. Momoko and co are seen flying towards them so Jakiou tells his generals to intercept. It’s going to be one heck of a welcoming party. Meanwhile Onihime confronts Jakiou. They need to talk. Now? At this time?

Episode 11
So is Jakiou not her real father? So what? I guess it’s true then. But why raise her like his own? It is an act of defiance against those who thrown her away. Heaven hates 3 things: Rule by power, existence of ogres and those who are born between a maiden and ogre. To them, Onihime was an even greater target of their hate than the ogre race. Hate him if she must. The choice is hers. Onihime is reduced to tears but Enki is kinder. She will always be her princess to her. But save the tears for next time. The party is just getting started. Our heroines need to find the machine that powers this island and destroy it. Meanwhile Youki approaches Kaguya and then strangles her! Now that the peach is activated, she is no longer of use and it will be too much of a waste to send her back to the moon. He is going to keep this power and not even let Jakiou have it. While everyone races to the room, we have our match-ups of Genki vs Suika and Maron, Youki vs Seimei and Toutetsu, Enki vs Karin and Ringo. Tekki waits for Momoko. Didn’t she learn from her lesson? However this time she is more powerful than before and easily defeats Tekki. This is because she was depressed after learning about her past and now she is no longer afraid. In the throne room, Momoko faces off with Jakiou. The ogre king is so powerful that none of the Soul Fusion combinations work. Being thrown around like a ragdoll again, huh? Jakiou wants to teach them a lesson that only stronger beings can subdue them. However each time Momoko falls, she stands back up. She remembers the support of everyone and can’t go down now. And then some seal in her breaks. This means everyone can fight together as their heart, mind and body are as one. This means Momoko can do Soul Fusion with all her animal companions at the same time. Don’t worry, she won’t look like some hideous beast. Jakiou is taken aback by her immense strength. But no matter how hard he fights back, Momoko is stronger and her ultimate slash sends him to his ultimate defeat. At this point the island is going to fall as something has happened to the reactor. Time to go find the peach.

Episode 12
Onihime finds Jakiou pinned under a rock. She is still confused over who she is. Best father’s reply: She is a silly girl. She is who she is. Whatever makes her up, she will always remain the same. Before his last breath, he passes him her sword. Choose how she wants to live. Youki thinks he can take the peach for his own when it starts destabilizing. Apparently he didn’t kill off Kaguya as she tells him the peach once becomes a whole, becomes too powerful until it eventually destabilizes. Youki is confident he can attain greater power with it but the moment he absorbs it, no doubt his wounds heal, however his body starts breaking up. Too much to handle. Good riddance. Now that the power source keeping Ogre Island afloat is gone, it’s going to crash onto Earth. They need to get out but Onihime wants to settle it with Momoko right now. Aww, come on. Can we settle this on land? No! Right now! Momoko breaks up Soul Fusion and fights Onihime herself because the latter is putting her heart and soul into this fight and it is only right she matches it herself. Erm, while you girls are fighting your heart out, aren’t you forgetting something important? Like, this place is falling? Thankfully Heaven is holding it in place but how long can Sumeragi and Kushinada hold out? So everybody evacuates except for Enki who is going to watch over her princess as well as Ringo and the animal companions for Momoko. In the end, Onihime lost so Momoko tells her she can challenge her anytime. She’ll take her on. Heaven cannot hold on and their heavenly string snaps. Momoko and Onihime fall down the abyss. Months later, Sumeragi sends new maidens to help heal the earth. She also wonders if the Four Maidens want to make a comeback as idols. She already prepared their outfits. I guess she didn’t learn from the last time… Kaguya is back in her old lab and has no intentions of reforming the peach as its powers are too great to handle. However she will still find the fragments and find the balance in energy that will enable her to return to the moon. Seimei and the imperial court will continue to give their support. The ogres are doing well having their own land to live in the human world. I see they’re doing fine cultivating and dabbling in agriculture. That’s how it should be, right? Lastly, Onihime descends on to Momoko’s hometown to request another match. Geez. Give it up already. She’s been doing this every day for 99 times already. Well, she did say she would fight her anytime, right? Regretting it? Momoko says she has lost 99 times but Onihime on the contrary believes they are draws. This hundredth match should settle it. Or is it going to drag out to another thousand more… Happy fighting! Oh, yeah. And they all lived happily ever after.

Not That Peachy Keen

I don’t know… Happily ever after? Certainly it looks like it. Trying to say this series is pretty decent sounds like as though I’m trying to make a pun out of it. Because sometimes I feel that plot isn’t really there. And that finding the pieces of the peach scattered throughout Japan is just an excuse for our characters to have some sort of random adventure and perhaps a little character development (if you want to go so far as to call it as that). If you think about it, sometimes it doesn’t make sense how they can detect peach pieces here and there. Sumeragi is supposed to be part of Heaven and supposedly the greatest being, right? Heck, she can’t even sense the exact location of the pieces. That’s why the Four Maidens along with Momoko have to the ground work and stat searching for the needles in the haystack, right? Ironically it is some technology of the people of the moon that could gather the fragments. It’s like these people are the gods, right? I know this is a folklore and like fairytales, you’re not supposed to think things with logic. Unfortunately in this era, this is no longer acceptable. Therefore in terms and in the context of this anime, this series just barely passes.

So you might think that the fanservice galore is the attracting formula. Well, yes and no. I don’t know if there are any other versions of this show aired on TV (censored and uncensored, that is) but if you want to compare this anime to other really ecchi fanservice animes like Freezing, this is so mild in comparison. Because it is not like they spam you fanservice shots every 10 seconds. Sure, you get your busty Momoko boobs, you get your beach and hotspring episode, you get your characters in skimpy outfits and you even get your coloured panties collection galore scene. But no free showing tits. Ironically Momoko who is quite conscious about herself and perverted situations, why doesn’t she cover up her own cleavage? Don’t give me that move faster crap. With ogres like Onihime and Enki running around in their underwear (they call it their best suit), it is still decent (oh, the irony) enough to consider this series with enough ‘pleasing’ fanservice. Nothing over the top or that fancy but you’ll still get by.

I think character development is rather okay. Maybe that is just overrating it because sometimes it feels mediocre. I knew there was going to be some sort of twist between Momoko and Onihime because it’s like fate is always screwing with them as they usually end up in the same place. And what do you know? They are sisters from the same twin peaches. Who the heck could come up and write this kind of crap? So it’s like a love-hate relationship between them. They fight, they get along, then they fight again but not serious enough that they really want to kill each other. Don’t you feel it is that way? Because somehow I feel that the ogres aren’t even such bad creatures themselves. Okay, maybe Youki is a true blue evil ogre but he gets what he deserves. Even Jakiou has his pride and ideals. No wonder he is such a respectable ogre even if Heaven doesn’t agree on it. Just a sad fact that he had to die or else it would be truly a happily ever after story with everyone living in the end. Maybe except for Youki because I’m sure everyone hates that fat scheming underhanded ogre.

In addition to Momoko’s simpleton character, her loyal animal companions and Onihime who just wants to rival everything with her, the rest feels like they are some sort of characters archetypes one way or another. Like Kaguya the mysterious but brainy scientist and Seimei being one of the very few males in the series is casted as a pervert if he is not in serious mode. Even among the Four Maidens, their personalities vary with Maron being the emotionless and most serious one, Karin being the weaker and thus ‘useless’ one, Ringo the bright and lively girl and Suika feels a bit selfish although generally she still cares for her friends. I don’t know if Toutetsu is supposed to be a shotacon or not. I am not sure of this little kid’s gender although my guts tell me he is a boy since that beach episode having this kid joining the girls just throws my judgment a little off.

It feels like a running joke because of Kushinada’s penchant to tie herself up and beg to be sacrificed, I know it makes her seem like a super masochist but if you think about it, how do you sacrifice a maiden who is eternal? If she loves being sacrificed so much, she must be in the wrong anime and era. She should be living in medieval Europe and proclaim herself as a witch. She’ll get burnt at the stake no matter how many times and she can enjoy that. Really. Sumeragi’s age also feels like a running joke because I never really questioned about her age until she seems to be bugged about it. Then she really gets mad (though I think she’s doing a pretty good job trying to hold in her anger despite that creepy snicker) if you make hints that she is an old aunty, in which technically she is because she’s like thousands of years old, right? And then the part of making her Four Maidens becoming idols. I don’t know. Why does Heaven need men’s money for? Aren’t the offerings and prayers enough? I guess you can’t find good makeup and produces in Heaven but on Earth. Because it is said that things from human’s world are good and interesting, so technically doesn’t that make the human world something like Heaven? Yeah. No wonder everybody wants to rule it.

Action wise, hardly satisfying if you are an adrenaline junkie since the moves aren’t that varied. Even if Momoko’s Soul Fusion is supposed to provide a little variety, each Soul Fusion only has one move like claws with Sarugami and light arrows with Kijigami. When she is alone and not combined, she just swings her sword around without any special moves whatsoever. I suppose it is a cue to tell us that if she wants to fight more effectively and with more power and speed, Soul Fusion is necessary. Hardly any other fighting moves variety from other characters too like Enki has her penchant to use her whip, Genki and his illusions, Youki with his darkness coming out from his pot, Seimei using his shikigami familiars and Toutetsu whose only skill seems to be conjuring up some mini black hole and sucking up Youki’s miasma. Even odder considering some of the ‘weapons’ that some of the Four Maidens hold. Although Maron’s big mallet is acceptable, Karin’s beads may be a little questionable but it’s not that bad. But what the heck is that wooden steering wheel Suika is carrying? At least that is what it seemed to me. Did she take it from some abandoned ship or something? I don’t even know what that little fork pieces Ringo is carrying. It’s just mind boggling. As elemental maidens, I see them hardly use their elementals too.

The next episode preview is a little amusing. Because in each episode they will enter a new prefecture or province, this segment highlights the famous delicacies and food they have there although it has very well nothing to do what happens in the next episode. So if you are a foodie enthusiast, this might not satiate your appetite or even cause you to go mouth-watering but at least it feels like a little ‘community service’ to tell us the specialty of that place and to try it out if we ever visit there. But I am not sure if the one on Ogre Island is trolling us because they’re talking about ogre manjuu. I’m not sure but I think such snacks do exist in real life but not on Ogre Island. That land only exists in the folklore.

Voice casting feels rather okay too with Ayana Taketatsu as Momoko. It’s her usual recognizable voice that you can find in animes like Kirino from OreImo, Sakura in Sekai De Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai and Rinka in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru. Although Cho was also recognizable as Youki, at certain points he does sound different since I am so accustomed to hearing him in his silly tone as Brook from One Piece. Other casts include Minami Tsuda as Onihime (Yui in YuruYuri), Wataru Hatano as Inugami (Gajeel in Fairy Tail), Showtaro Morikubo as Sarugami (Shikamaru in Naruto), Asami Imai as Kijigami (Yuzuki in KissxSis), Masumi Asano as Sumeragi (Hakufu in Ikkitousen), Shiori Mikami as Ringo (Krista in Shingeki No Kyojin), Suzuko Mimori as Suika (Sherlock in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Rumi Ookubo as Maron (Hibachi in Mushibugyou), Yuka Ootsubo as Karin (Kyouko in YuruYuri), Asami Shimoda as Kushinada (Kotomi in Seitokai Yakuindomo), Banjou Ginga as Jakiou (Perry in Space Dandy), Chiaki Takahashi as Enki (Nanami in School Days), Hisayoshi Suganuma (Atsushi in Natsume Yuujinchou), Satoshi Hino as Seimei (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima), Mikako Komatsu as Kaguya (Neko in K) and Emiri Katou as Toutetsu (Kagami in Lucky Star).

The opening theme is Momoiro Fantasy by Haruka Chisuga. Sounds rather okay like your typical lively anime pop but not really to my liking. The ending theme is as the same name of this series and sung by Ayana Taketatsu. I figure she ramps up the cuteness in singing this song so if you really want to go kyun, I suppose this is the song that clinches it. The odd part about the ending animation credits is that everyone is doing some side stepping dance. Looks easy. Looks weird. Of course there are insert songs by the Four Maidens (Mission Complete and Ready Go) and just like generic idol songs, that is what they sound like. Not to my liking either.

In the end, some may call it a mediocre anime and some would say this is a simple anime. Recommended for those who have too much time on their hands and want to watch something with some slip showing and set in the feudal era. Because you won’t really lose much if you skip or watch this. Unless you really start getting the wrong impressions about the folklore after seeing this show. How many more of such traditional folklores will be given such treatment in the near future is anyone’s guess. But don’t hold your breath as today’s film era is the era of remakes, reboots, retellings and sequels. Because with so many tales deviating and being twisted these days, it is hard to believe which is the real one anymore. Having said all that, the great unifier of Japan, Nobunaga Oda is a busty woman, right?

I thought it was going to get serious. Something that you know, advances the plot and goes somewhere. Maybe it did. But I didn’t see it entirely here. Because from the second title, Infinite Stratos 2: World Purge OVA sure does sound serious enough to make you think so. However when you start thinking for real again, you realize that you are watching Infinite Stratos series. You’re not supposed to take the serious things seriously. This is not why you watch this show. You are only here to see how this faggot Ichika plays around with his harem without him realizing how much they love him deep inside. This OVA is something like that. To put it simply, the girls enter a virtual world whereby a programme has them take out their most inner desires and fantasies. Oh, hoho. I can see where this is going. You know what to look forward to, right?

The Worlds Torn Apart
Tabane seems to have found something. As she takes a break, she wonders if Chloe Chronicle could help do a little favour. Meanwhile back at IS Academy, Rin is acting like a lonely tsundere. She denies she is bored because Ichika isn’t around. See that lonely love struck look on her face? Yup. Rin. Charlotte can only smile. Suddenly the place is locked down. They know something is up because the emergency lights have not come up. They are guided by Chifuyu to a special underground block. As we learn, somebody or some organization is hacking into the academy’s system and Ichika’s harem quintet need to dive into the system called World Purge to fix it. The system is monitored by Kanzashi and since they will be in totally defenceless state, this is where Tatenashi comes in on standby mode as they are expecting intruders. As for our lucky boy, he is at Kuramochi Research centre where his Byakushiki is being maintained. This sexy scientist, Hikaruno Kagaribi starts flirting with him in the meantime. I guess she must be bored after doing robotic maintenance the whole day. Ichika even has the cheek to even note how peaceful his waiting time here since the academy is always so loud. Yeah. Girls always want a piece of him for reasons he still do not get. Fishing is the best, right? If he only knew…

I suppose Rin didn’t make much impact in the last season. So here she is going first. She finds herself in her middle school uniform. She can tell this is a trap but when Ichika comes into the picture, no more a trap, huh? And what’s this? Ichika sits next to her as she flusters so greatly. They’re dating?! Next few Rin scenes… So dere-dere… They get caught in the rain, he dries her with a towel and even suggests taking a shower together! She is in the midst of taking off her panties when he comes in. Oh sh*t! He hugs her! Double sh*t! He pushes her down on the bed and starts undressing her! FREAKING Sh*t! NOW WAY!!! This Ichika doing this to her?! And has he already made up his mind that he wants her?! This faggot has decided which girl he wants?! HIM?! HE CHOSE HER?! Meanwhile in reality, Tatenashi ambushes a group of American soldiers. The reason these small fries are only here is so that we can make Tatenashi look good as she gives them her superb kicks and somersaults. Hardly much of a challenge. She is soon joined by Chifuyu but she takes on the big lady boss.

Now, before you Rin x Ichika lovers squeal in delight and this pair haters to scream your head off, now we focus on Cecilia. Ichika is her butler and has been serving her for family for generations. Uh huh. And now it is bath time. Today is going to be special because Ichika is going to wash her back. Ichika is such a naughty guy. He plays with her butt and bites her ear! OMFG!!!! This guy doing such bold things?! Before Cecilia x Ichika fans can start squealing and other haters can start hating, it’s time to shift to Charlotte. She is the maid. He is her master. Master gets what he wants on his submissive maid. Do I need to elaborate more? Charlotte elaborates for us: They can do this every night if they get married! Ichika you freaking lucky bastard!!! Finally, Laura. Despite Ichika serving her, seems she loves being submissive to him as she is made to wear a naked apron. Back to reality, Tatenashi just finished disposing off the small fries when she realizes the time of hacking and infiltration is so great. It dawned to her that the hacking group is different. Because she looks so shock, she let her guard down and this has one of the enemies shoot her (although not fatally). As she lies in her pool of blood, all she can think of is Ichika… Oh Ichika, where the f*cks are you?!

Speaking of this guy, suddenly it is like his harem tingling senses go off. In a hurry, he takes Byakushiki and flies back. Make a big hole in the wall, eh? You know how much that costs? Oh what the hell. His harem is more important. Really? He gets back in time to dispose the small fries before they can do what they want with Tatenashi. She tells him about the danger of the other girls. They are being attacked in the virtual world too. Save them. And so, it is Ichika’s turn to become a hero as he dives into the system. Continuing off from where we were in Rin’s fantasies, she is about to give in to this rape scene when the real Ichika barges in. Oh dear. Two Ichikas. How can she tell? But one in an IS outfit and the other is her ideal Ichika. She suddenly realizes what is happening and her head starts to hurt (not her heart, huh?). The real Ichika easily defeats the imposter. So easy that you think his mean looking eyes were just trolling us. Now that the threat is over, Rin is blaming him for that rape scene and wants him to take responsibility by putting her clothes back on. WTF. So it is okay for him to pull back up her panties while looking? Yes. It’s okay if it’s him. WTF. Before anything juicy can happen, Kanzashi interrupts and tells Rin to come back since she might not be safe as the attack is ongoing and for Ichika to rescue the others.

Cecilia is getting her body parts molested by Ichika in the bathtub. Then the real one barges in to save the day. Now how is he going to take responsibility for seeing her naked body? All he needs is to say her body is beautiful. Wait a minute. That was enough to satiate her? Next is Charlotte. Master Ichika is making his maid strip. Real Ichika to the rescue! Although he doesn’t have to directly take responsibility, he got his eyes poked. Poor guy… Laura is in the midst of being seduced by Ichika and I don’t know why the real one popped up from inside the cabinet. Probably he ran out of grand ways to enter the scene. As usual, the real one beats the imposter and perhaps Laura is the ‘best’ one to deal with since the shock of the flirting caused her to faint. Easy. As we have suspected, Houki is going to be the last as Kanzashi drops some weapons for him to arm himself because she is going to be the toughest of the lot. Meanwhile after all that intense action between Chifuyu and her rival, the former leads the latter to a trap where Yamada is waiting as she rains her bullets all over her. The end.

If you are wondering why Houki doesn’t get her own desire scene like the rest, it is probably isn’t as erotic as the rest. Yeah. The most normal scene. Boring. Here, she is in a kendo fight with Ichika. Though, she boldly requests him to marry into her family. The real Ichika appears all geared up as a dojo challenger and challenges the imposter to a match. However he keeps losing but refuses to give up. This confuses Houki on who this guy is because at this rate he will keep losing. This trait instantly reminds her of a certain guy. Ichika! At that moment, she wakes up back into reality with the other girls around her. However Ichika is left unconscious. As Kanzashi note, the attacks have already stopped. At the same time, we see Chloe drifting through the system core of what is believed to be Chifuyu’s personal IS, Kurezakura. She starts extracting from it. Ichika thought he saw Laura before him but she is Chloe. She introduces herself and because she has already fulfilled her master’s request, she will withdraw for now. This guy is just stumped.

The other girls are wondering what is keeping Ichika unconscious. Then Laura suggests a bold me to kiss and wake him up! Sure, some might oppose at first but when you think about it, it’s not a pretty bad idea, right? Whether it works or not isn’t the question. So as everybody hop on the bandwagon of wanting to kiss him, Kanzashi thought she could get ahead of everyone while they argue and kiss him! Not so fast you b*tch! Seems she is ‘frustrated’. I think she is spouting that long crap just to hide what she is saying. Uh huh. Because she didn’t get to take out her desires (and she really wanted to) like the rest and was about to quote Rin’s fantasies. Rin tries to shut her up by giving her a flying kick but she lands it on Chifuyu’s guts. Oh sh*t. Are this woman’s guts made of iron because Rin is the one having the recoil.

Tatenashi is probably the best girl enjoying this aftermath. Because when Ichika wakes up in the infirmary, he is surprised to see Tatenashi in the midst of changing. Not a dream. She creeps up next to him and flirts with him. Not a dream. So you see why she is the best one? She is happy that she saved him. Though, she feels a little bit sore that she too didn’t have a go with him in her fantasies like the other girls. As a consolation I guess, she reveals her real name to him: Katana Sarashiki. Ichika looked surprised but as he turns, Tatenashi is gone. A dream? No way! Later, Chifuyu confronts Chloe and knows it is Tabane who is the one behind this. She leaves a warning message for her not to stick her nose in things she doesn’t need. Chloe prepares to attack and does not heed Chifuyu’s warning that she is no match for her. Chifuyu easily overpowers her and even breaks out of her mind control manipulation. Once Chloe calms down, Chifuyu leaves. She wonders if Chloe should go see her little sister. However Chloe notes she is only an incomplete form of Laura and therefore is not her sister. Chifuyu notes she cannot lose to Tabane just yet.

Purge Your Desires!
Even with the seemingly cliff-hanger ending and some revelation about just who Chloe is, I suppose the only thing memorable from this 45 minute OVA is the cheesy fanservice that all Infinite Stratos viewers have come to accept. Yes. You are only here for the cheap fanservice, the girls in their undies, the only time when such scenes can only happen with Ichika is when it is in their head. The most ‘important’ parts of the show. Despite very few of such scenes (as compared to the duration of this OVA), I guess it is enough to make up for this OVA overall. Or not. Yeah. Not enough still. They should have just cut out that unrelated action scene of Chifuyu and whoever that woman in an IS suit is and put in more fanservice stuffs. Let us pleasure a little more from those steamy scenes even though in the back of our head, we know it is never going to be possible in real life because as we heard, Ichika himself is still freaking clueless when told about this desire thingy as he wondered why he is in all the girls’ fantasies. Get a freaking clue already!

So as far as this OVA is concerned, it is still pretty decent (how ironic) in terms of having some fanservice and mecha action. I mean, come on. What do you expect from this kind of series anyway? Now we have an idea of the girls’ deepest desires on Ichika and you could say they’re all perverts in a way even if they seem embarrassed or flustering but this is what they wanted, no? If they could have it their way, everything might have turned into some full hentai show. Only Houki is the exception because we must make it look like that Japanese have the highest honour and esteem despite they have one of the best, most varied and most creative pornography industries, right? Right?! Therefore when people ask about what you remember about this OVA, I bet you that nobody will have Houki’s version come to mind. Who says guys are the only perverts. Girls can be too and much better as far as this series is concerned (although the irony is that the perverted fantasies of the girls feel like fantasies of a guy). So is being erotic in the mind a good thing? Because whether for better or worse, some fantasies are just meant to be locked deep inside our thoughts, never revealed for others to see or know…

Majimoji Rurumo

February 15, 2015

Do you know witches can grant your wishes too? Here are a few reasons why a witch makes better wish granters than genies. Number one, you are not limited to just 3 wishes. Not to say there is an infinite number of wishes but it’s better than just having it for 3 stinking times. Everyone these days have got so many desires seriously. Secondly, you don’t need to find a lamp or have an Arabian looking type of lamp and rub your hands just to get the genie out. How do you make wishes with witches? Using magic tickets of course! And that witch will always be by your side getting ready in the event if you really want to have your wishes come true. So okay, maybe this is just true in Majimoji Rurumo because due to a carless mistake, this perverted guy suddenly finds himself with a wish granting witch in training. What is so bad about that you say? Once you use up all your wishes, you give your life. Yikes! Starting to think genies are much safer now?

Episode 1
One day, Rurumo the witch drops before Kouta Shibaki and tells him in 2 days he will die. Don’t believe? Laughing like mad, is he? Well, this car levitation… Now you believe? So why is he going to die? Because he made a contract with her for having his wish granted. What wish? Try to remember… He traded his life for a stinking panty?! WTF?! A few days back, his occult club members found a witch book and made him make a wish upon it as a stepping stone for the club to become famous (such a small dream). Kouta has always been a loner and loser. Thus he has garnered a brutal perverted fame among the girls. He wants a girlfriend but seeing that the other guys aren’t pleased, he wished for a girl’s panties. When he went home, he saw a pair of panties on his table. The happiest moment in his life but he never read the fine print at the end of the book which states his life will be taken. So there you have it. It is scheduled that he will die being eaten alive. Also, she is here because that panty is hers! She is here to take it back. It is her only pair. Yes. That means right now she is full blown commando. Since he will die, might as well have a last look. So Kouta takes Rurumo through town to various places where he could get a peek underneath. Luck is not on his side… He laments his bad luck when Rurumo also mentions the same. She was just released from prison after 60 years for breaking the rules. Because witches have magic and long life, in exchange they must follow rules or get punished. Also, witches are forbidden to give their personal belongings to others. The punishment: 130 years in prison! Then the warden pops up. When the clock hand reaches zero, Rurumo will go off to prison. Though it will be fine if Kouta puts them back on and thus the contract will be nullified and he won’t have to die. Plus, she has spent 60 years doing time. What is another 130 more years? But he can’t live with such consciousness and forcefully puts her panties back on. The day is saved. Although the contract is incomplete, Rurumo will still mete out half punishment for him. Getting pecked by crows is still very painful…

Kouta thought karma comes back to him when he did something good since he gets a nice look at a girl’s panties when she is picking up dropped stuffs. Till public morals officer, Sumiko Inoue points out his notorious perverted fame and sends her underlings, Masako Shimomura and Kyouko Izumi to beat the crap out of him. Back in the occult club, the president whom we shall only refer to as Senpai, wants him to return the bra which somewhat ended up in his bag to Maaya Sawashita. She is the girl who has the biggest boobs in school. Why pick him? Because she is now braless… I have a feeling there is only one role why Kouta is in this club. And for that he is going to do the job. He still has a dilemma, though. He wishes to see Rurumo again and here she is falling down from the sky like a rock. That has got to hurt. Seems her cat familiar, Chiro is also here to send him magic tickets that allows him to make her use her magic. Because of that failed punishment, Rurumo has been demoted to a witch in training and her magic was sealed. Kouta thinks her training will end once he uses them up. So his uses one to make him invisible. Now he can run through the hall and into the girls’ locker room with ease. Nobody can see them. I don’t know why he has this idea of putting the bra on her (must be his perverted idea) when he heard Sawashita saying the bra was a gift from her sister before she left for England. He felt bad and just left it on the table. Rurumo also thanks him for using a ticket to heal herself because they also reflect his strongest desires. As he couldn’t sleep that night, he sees Chiro and thanks the kitty for the tickets. To his surprise, Chiro can speak! In Kansai accent! She is here to tell him a secret that Rurumo doesn’t know too. There are 666 tickets. Once it is used up, he will die. So those are basically his life and if Rurumo knows, she’ll make him stop using it. So there you go. Did Kouta fell asleep? Well, he passed out…

Episode 2
The occult club guys think Kouta has something to make their club better. It’s might just be his selfish dream that he wants more girls to join… The gang then go to investigate some mystery girl. Kouta thought they were going to stalk some granny when it turns out to be Rurumo camping in the woods! Holy sh*t! They observe her living like a hobo, being scared by a frog and just waiting. Then when she is about to change, Kouta won’t have the guys look at this so they tie him up on a tree while they record this fabulous ‘ritual’. Kouta does a desperate move as he makes a wish on the ticket. He has Rurumo make a blimp fall on them!!! Don’t worry, they’re okay. He takes the tape and runs away with her. Later as he finds out, she has no place to stay or return as witches in training are forbidden to return to the Underworld as long as their training is incomplete. I guess there is only one way. He tries to sneak Rurumo in but she’s being a dunce walking in casually. Kouta has a tough time trying to hide her from his mom who from time to time is giving that suspicious death stare. Then there is one time she wonders if he is hiding a girl in his room because she heard the neighbourhood talk about girls been abducted and held captive in rooms recently. She’s suspecting her son? Be sure to tell her when that happens… That knife… Very sharp knife… Of course Chiro believes when that time comes, all Kouta has to do is use his tickets but he won’t. Those are his life. Then he realizes the tickets are much lesser. Well, the stronger his desire, the more tickets will be used up. Forgot to tell him that, didn’t he? WTF?!

So for the next 3 days, Kouta has been suspiciously bringing food and things to his room much to his mom’s suspicion. A few close calls too… Rurumo learns that he did this sort of ‘abduction’ before. But they are mainly stray dogs and cats. He couldn’t let them be and brought them home and hid them. But since his family doesn’t like animals, he is forced to return where he found them. Chiro is sad they will meet the same fate too. But don’t worry, there is always the ticket… Next day in school, Kouta’s friends (Tomoha Sakurai, Hiroshi Nishino and Hajime Sugawara) relay the big news that some classmates of theirs have been found living together. Define living together. A boy and a girl unrelated to each other living together under the same roof before marriage. That sounds familiar? It hit him right then that his predicament is the same as Rurumo. So he rushes back and sees the cute sleeping face of Rurumo. I don’t know if he was going to kiss her or something (blame his libido and temptation), suddenly his mom barges in and sees this. Her suspicions were true. Oh sh*t! Mother is going to kill her son???!!! Kouta wakes Rurumo up to explain. He found her at the park and brought her here. Oh sh*t! Death is only seconds away! No choice, he is forced to use a ticket. With the memory alteration, Rurumo is now Kouta’s sister who has come to live with them from New York. Yeah, it saved his life, didn’t it? At least now Rurumo has a room to call her own.

Episode 3
Kouta and Nishino are exploring the mysterious locker in the boys changing room that is believed to lead to the girls’ section. True enough it does but who is the first girl they see changing? Rurumo! Kouta tries to hide Nishino’s eyes and eventually pokes them. To his further surprise, Rurumo works at the cafeteria but is very clumsy. He asks her the reason for this and the only answer he’ll get that this is her self-imposed restriction. He wants to help her but she won’t allow it and thus he is reduced to watching her slip up more. While gathering the ingredients, she overheard Senpai trying to summon something Aztec. Rurumo mentions the necessary requirements with confident and feels the need to let her join his club. Sorry, she can’t. Senpai then announces that somebody is joining their club. Kouta didn’t think it would be a girl but holy cow! She is Tanako Kujirai! This is not a dream! She seems like a nice girl and everything till Senpai explains there is a condition that he allowed her to join: To accept her for who she is. Tanako thinks she is a real magical girl!!! So she displays her fake magic to have the guys believe her. It’s so obvious… Kouta tries to look positive (or rather he might have lost it) that she is the catalyst for attracting more girls to this club and praises her magic. However Rurumo is here and tells her that is not magic and Kouta should know it himself. Tanako knows about her because she has been watching her ever since she debuted in the cafeteria. She challenges her to a battle tomorrow to see whose magic is most real. Kouta thinks Tanako likes him and the reason she is going this far. Well, she did admit there is somebody in this club she likes but has not been noticing her. Thus the reason she joins and wants him to recognize her. Oh Kouta, don’t count your chickens…

It is clear that Rurumo’s magic is far more superior than Tanako’s. So much so the latter is desperate enough to make the final big showdown of walking on air. She’s walking dangerously on the fence! Kouta doesn’t want this to go on any further and tells her he understands her feelings. She doesn’t need to battle anymore. But at that moment she slips and falls. After distracting the guys with some UMA that doesn’t exist, Kouta use his ticket to have Tanako float down safely. Kouta is going to let Tanako jump into his arms when she zooms past him and hugs Senpai instead! How heartbreaking… And she thought Senpai did some telekinesis thingy. Rurumo continues to be a klutz so Kouta tells her she should just be herself as a witch. She explains her ability to learn is slow compared to others and her reflexes are so bad she can’t even ride a broom. But she must still try. This is the punishment she imposed on herself. Kouta still thinks she just needs to put on her cloak and act high and mighty. She notes he is the only person to treat her kindly. She was always bullied and deceived. In fact her first imprisonment was due to that. A witch isn’t allowed to come down to Earth unless summoned. Somebody tricked her that she had been summoned and thus used magic on Earth. She views him a simpleton and that makes her too carefree. Back in her room, she is looking at the dress Kouta bought for her. She puts it back in her closet and remains steadfast that she must restrict herself.

Episode 4
Kouta is caught peeping up a girl’s skirt so it’s penalty time from Inoue and co. Then she reminds him that thanks to his notorious perversion, the girls are worried about their privacy and thus next week they are going to conduct a big inspection and clean up. All ‘contraband’ will be identified and confiscated! Kouta’s friends are trying to find him to exchange their ‘treasure’ collection. Thanks to him with his wide variety of erotic library, they have the luxury to experience such youthfulness. Of course Kouta relays the bad news and it seems the purge has already begun. Some already have their porn confiscated and even those digital porn files have been deleted! Adding to Kouta’s woes is Chiro who can transform into a girl! But since she is naked, he has to take her and run. In school, Chiro runs off on her own as Kouta tries to defend his pals from Inoue’s onslaught. Then here comes Chiro wearing a dress she found in a room. She looks like having so much fun that she lifts up her skirt to show him the panties she is wearing! Inoue is going to purify this pervert so I guess it’s time to run. At a distance, Chiro reverts to a cat since the transformation only lasts for 30 minutes. Now he is on his own. Kouta accidentally sees Inoue’s pink panties so she sends her underling to beat him up. This brings back embarrassing memories because even in elementary school, Kouta had this notorious reputation of flipping girls’ skirt. Only Inoue was able to safeguard hers. She will make him pay for this disgrace.

Rurumo accidentally puts on some misfortune glasses so all the frogs start jumping on her. As the wearer can’t take it off, Kouta tries to get it off for her and eventually throws it away. Then he gets a surprise visit from Inoue! Is she taking her job far too serious and going to confiscate his personal porn too?! Well, doesn’t seem like it. After handing him a souvenir from a trip (their moms are best friends), she spots the misfortune glasses before he feet and picks it up to wear them. Geez, like pick up and try anything suspicious, would you? Rats that she hates most start circling around her. She clings onto Kouta and her punches are like gentle strokes. Kouta has no time to daydream since Chiro says Inoue will die if she continues to wear them! Kouta saves her from a series of mishaps only to have her end up in another one. This causes her to snap. She understands she hates him so why doesn’t he just tell her that he hates her? She runs away as she hints that despite all that she is a girl. Kouta explains he has always seen her as one and before she could be run over by a truck, he mentions he loves seeing her pink bra through her wet shirt. It got her to stop. He takes off the glasses and puts her original ones back on. Then she crushes the misfortune glasses. That’s the end of that. She leaves while remembering those elementary girls commenting that although she never had her skirt flipped, it means that she was not attractive enough and thus not a girl. Kouta thought he has hid his porn stuffs in the fire extinguisher place, somewhere Inoue would never find. Too bad she knows him well enough to know he has become this predictable. She is going to burn it all! Burn away those unpleasant memories too. Desperate, Kouta uses a ticket to summon Rurumo. Inoue is still sore that he looked at her panties. I don’t know this answer of his: A girl’s panties are gentler than the blue sky. WTF?! It made Inoue realize he was the only one who treated her like a girl. Then as she and her underlings take a look at their own panties (WTF?!), Kouta orders Rurumo to teleport the porn stuffs away. But he didn’t specify teleport to where so they’re lying scattered outside his house. Mommy… Gotta burn them all!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 5
I don’t know about this… Rurumo trying to clean but the floor is more drenched than always… Mother has a job for her to deliver some stuff to Kouta who had forgotten to bring as he is working in grandma’s cornfield. I guess the sole reason for motivation for working is a pair of lovely teenage cousins… Mother might seem nagging reminding Rurumo about this and that but you’ll see why she has all the reasons to be worried. First she and Chiro get lost finding a way to the post office. Yup, they’re walking in circles without realizing it’s the same damn houses she has been circling. Think the houses here look pretty similar, eh? A policewoman, Ruri Iida stops her and questions her but she manages to get away with the magic word that Kouta told her: Cosplay! Along the way she meets Masako who panics thinking Rurumo might reveal her hidden fetish for cosplay and thus tell Kouta who will in turn tell the entire school. By the time she hopes Rurumo not to tell, she’s already gone. When Rurumo gets to the train station, she tries to board the train using the postal tickets! Not going to work! No matter how many tricks she does! If not for one Sugawara who bought a ticket on her behalf, she might never have completed her mission. So this guy thinks he is pretty lucky to have saved her but seriously, she doesn’t even remember who the hell he is. By the time he is going to tell whatever story he has, it’s already her stop. Now, Rurumo is bad in reading maps. Bad enough for her to walk the other direction. Yeah. Nice nature walk. Then it occurred to Chiro that they have been going the wrong way. When they’re going to turn back, some stroke of bad luck causes Rurumo to lose her delivery package and getting stuck up a tree. She is about to retrieve it but rolls down the slope and gets lost into the sea of sunflowers.

Panic Chiro runs all the way to grandma’s house just to get Kouta (who thinks he is a step closer in getting closer with his cousins). As they make haste, due to some magic restoration thingy, trees and bushes start to grow over Rurumo until she becomes a walking forest! At this rate she might be infused with it. But she is adamant to get the bag or else she can’t complete this mission. Her life is meaningless compared to this job. By the time Kouta and Chiro arrive, they see a giant forest mountain in a hat shape. Kouta is tempted to use the ticket but Chiro warns even all that may not be enough. Suddenly Rurumo pops out! Tired and worn out, at least she got the bag. The day is saved and everyone is relieved one way or another. Rurumo enjoys a hot bath made by Kouta and it seems the delivery package contains handphone cases in which Kouta is trying to court his cousins by giving it to them. They don’t look impressed… I guess he failed… Suddenly Senpai and his occult club run into them while they’re trying to find UMA. Tanako has got it all wrong trying to be an UMA. Senpai wants Rurumo to join his club but he flatly turns him down. A big blow to Kouta because the occult club members are having a better time courting his cousins… Everyone plays sparklers but Rurumo… That’s a mosquito coil, isn’t it? Kouta comments she looks cute in her yukata, pats her head and thanks her for everything today. Here’s a corn as a big reward.

Episode 6
Kouta thought God wanted him to add more porn to his collection when he spotted thrown away porn magazines. He is about to pick them up when he felt girls staring at him. Afraid he might pick up a new unwanted nickname, he picks up a box of abandoned kittens next to it. The girls never knew he was such a good person. Phew. Animal lover Kouta pleads to Chiro: Please be their mom! No way! Rurumo is a little more suspicious. Because the kittens don’t talk! Well, normal cats don’t. Kouta wants to name them and since Rurumo is reading a murder mystery novel, it is decided they will be called Satsu, Jin and Jiken (which reads out to be ‘Murder Incident’). Now they have to do something about mom. Oh wait. She already sees this… So it’s back to the park for those poor kitties. What are they going to do with them now? Rurumo suggests keeping them at school for the time being. At the same time, Kouta goes around asking those who would love to take them in. Zilch. Chiro is forced to company them for a while when Rurumo goes to work and Kouta to classes. This has Chiro relate her story that she was once abandoned like them too and saved by Rurumo. Because she never knew her pedigree, she was often ostracized by her other fellow cats and alone. One day she was selling some wand parts that no witches would want to buy. That was when Rurumo popped up and wanted her to be her familiar because she wanted a cat that was not pretentious.

When several girls get the thrill of touching and hugging the kittens, a devilish idea strikes in Kouta’s mind. So he goes around school with the kittens and they are like babe magnets. Kouta gets his dream fulfilled when the girls cling all over him just to touch the cats. Even Inoue and her underlings cannot resist. Not even his friends. This goes on for some time until one day the weather forecast reports it is going to be stormy to the point of flooding. This worries Kouta as he runs all the way to school only to see the kittens weak and freezing. He brings them home with Rurumo and Chiro already prepared the necessary. Surprisingly, mother allows it only for tonight because it would be troublesome if Kouta gets sick too. I mean, who would take care of the kittens, right? However next day, the kittens are still weak. Kouta rushes them to the vet. He regrets for being stupid and careless. Suddenly Jiken jumps out of the box. It is to point out the tickets he dropped. Then Jiken drops. Collapses. Kouta tries to use the ticket but it’s not working. It isn’t that the ticket isn’t working. It’s functioning alright. Rurumo explains Jiken was born with a weak body. And magic doesn’t work on the dead. It’s the rule. She adds that Jiken would have died earlier had he not picked it up. Now it has passed away with a calm on its face. Kouta lets out the most heartbreaking cry every. For a pervert. Seriously, jokes aside, that was really heartbreaking. In the aftermath, Satsu and Jin got adopted and Kouta falls into depression, couldn’t stop thinking about Jiken by its grave. What a sad end episode! :’(

Episode 7
It’s the beach episode! Thank Senpai for organizing this. That’s because he wants to find some legendary swimsuit. Good luck finding it on his own. Kouta can’t be bothered to tag along with this. The guys can’t wait to see Rurumo in her swimsuit. Be prepared… To be very disappointed! She’s in her witch outfit! While Rurumo sits out in the shade, Masako talks to her and thinks they could get along as friends because they are fellow cosplayers. Meanwhile Kouta is on his perverted mischief streak, a nuisance to the girls trying to have clean fun. Is there anybody who can stop him? Even Inoue is sweet talked into his trap. Not even Iida’s shovel authority can dent his horny drive. Till Rurumo drops a brick on him. Chiro in her human form tries to show off in her seashell bikini but gets chased by Kouta’s friends. Kouta soon realize that Rurumo may not have a swimsuit, the reason she didn’t change into one. He tries to buy one but it’s too expensive. This place also doesn’t rent out swimsuits. He gets desperate enough to ask the girls to lend one! What does this sound like to them? He finds Chiro and thinks she should lend her seashell bikini. However Chiro views that Rurumo is such a shy girl and won’t put something this close to being naked. She’ll help him look for one. Kouta is then whisked away by Senpai who tells him about the legendary swimsuit that could transform a shy girl into a very assertive one. This is the reason why he planned this beach trip and invited all the girls. The more samples the better. And he thinks of using Rurumo as the first one as she is without a swimsuit. This is all the more reason Kouta can’t let Rurumo wear that even if it exists. He’ll destroy it.

When they get to the shrine where the supposedly legendary swimsuit is, there is nothing. So the legend is fake? Not quite… Want to bet that swimsuit Chiro dragged out is from there? She has Rurumo put it no. When Kouta and Senpai trek back, they see Rurumo’s clothes scattered on the ground. Before them is Rurumo in a swimsuit! Senpai wants piece of her but was shoved away. Very far away. It seems the legend must be true. Rurumo’s personality takes a 180 degree turn. She is now more assertive, pushing Kouta down and wants to kiss right now! I’m sure Kouta would not mind having his first kiss but his conscious kicked in and flees. He also notices Rurumo is more powerful and faster. The only solution is to take the swimsuit off her but I think he is somewhat desperate that he is calling for Inoue’s help to take off Rurumo’s swimsuit! How perverted can he get? Rurumo throws a tetrapod on him and before his lips are sealed, he uses a ticket to have her wear her witch clothes like before. Saved. One the bus home, Senpai might not be able to see what the legendary swimsuit was but at least he got to see a UFO (Rurumo’s flying clothes as he thought it was). Unfortunately for Tanako, he can’t remember the swimsuit she wears. Rurumo may not remember what actually happened because from her memories, she seemed like having fun with Kouta. Yeah, throwing tetrapods and chasing him around looks fun. Kouta can’t help notice her cute sleeping face and may live to regret he didn’t take the first kiss.

Episode 8
Kouta must be wishing something good to happen when a girl floats down before him. Nice pantsu view! She is a first class witch, Waroula Harulily and her cat familiar, Mimi, and she is here to make a contract with him. At least Kouta is smart enough not to make the same mistake twice. He’s not going to pay with his life again once the contract is up! He runs away but no matter how far, Harulily always catches up. She shows premium magic tickets that he can use without using his life. Care for a free sample? Rurumo detects a familiar magic unleashed nearby. She recognizes it belonging to Harulily. Brings back memories of all the pranks she used to play on her. Chiro confronts Harulily and accuses her to come annoy Rurumo again. Seems Harulily’s goal is to make a contract with Kouta because the new contract takes precedence of the older one. This means the previous contract is nullified and the training up till now will be void and Rurumo will not become a witch. She seals Chiro’s mouth. Meanwhile Kouta is making use of his free magic sample. Seeing through girls’ clothes! Oh yeah! He even barges into the assembly just to get a great view but you know the thing about free samples. It runs out fast. Harulily and Rurumo meet at school and the former mocks the latter. No reaction. Kouta comes by to complain about the magic wearing off and sees this. Harulily mentions her intention to make Kouta as her new contract. That is for him to decide. Harulily is upset of this same ol’ attitude. Is she tired of being poked fun at? Why is she so emotionless? She’s always been like that ever since they’ve met. Harulily was always bullied too. Only Rurumo was kind to her. Therefore she has always been waiting. Waiting for her to say something. Tell her something. Say something more. Just react. She came all the way here just for that. Rurumo thinks today is a good day as an old friend came to visit and will show her around the cafeteria. Kouta understands how she feels as it’s hard to tell what she’s thinking. She’s the type who takes on everything by herself but is not mischievous enough to lie. Chiro wonders what happens if Kouta did end up contracted to her. It’s not possible in the first place because the contract had a sealing magic placed on it beforehand. Thus Harulily was just here to see Rurumo.

Harulily continues to bum around in Kouta’s house since it’s also her summer vacation. Kouta serves her like a goddess. When Rurumo is going out, Harulily decides to tag along thinking she will screw up somehow. Who knows, Harulily is also dragged into working part time jobs with her! Well, the school cafeteria is closed during holidays. Each time, she gets fired as fast as she gets hired. You don’t even know how she could make this kind of mistake. Each time the friends talk and Harulily can’t help notice she kept mentioning the good of Kouta’s name. Harulily even mentions that they’ll have to part once the contract is over but Rurumo is happy ever since she came here. What is the first thing she will do once she completes her training? Probably come back here to thank Kouta. This answer and little smile amaze Harulily. As Harulily receives the warm hospitality of Kouta’s mom, she can’t help think that once the contract ends, the contracted one will die. Why does she always wish for the impossible? Next day, Rurumo accompanies Harulily to ‘leave’. Rurumo is bent on becoming a full witch again no matter what happens. Harulily hugs her and will root for her. If there is anything, don’t hesitate to tell her. Then she flies off into the sky.

Episode 9
Masako accidentally drops her cat ears and when somebody picks it up, she fears her secret will be revealed. To her relief it is Rurumo. Masako invites her to her home and rants about her love for cosplay, especially Miko Soune. You can feel the magic of being transformed into somebody else when you do that. Masako now views her as her close friend and hopes to do events together on weekends. But first, Rurumo is handed the entire Miko anime DVD collection to study! They even make cosplay outfits together. Then there is a Miko event that Rurumo is going. Kouta finds out about it and is curious about this friend-cum-mentor who invited her. That is when she reveals Masako’s name. Next day in school, Shibaki and friends are amazed as they talk to Masako about her cosplay hobby. However Masako views Rurumo has betrayed her for telling this and will no longer trust her or anyone anymore. She will not talk about cosplay in public again. This brings her back traumatic memories how her classmates used to ridicule anime. She calls up the event organizer to cancel her participation. When Rurumo spots her, Masako tries to run but trips. Rurumo picks up her cat ears and gives it back to her. Masako is touched that Rurumo has watched the entire DVD collection (took her 3 days!) and could even cite her favourite episode. Masako lets her keep the cat ears as she made it for her. She is glad to have called Rurumo her friend. Although they didn’t get to attend the event, they still cosplay and have their own private Miko event. Masako hopes to make more memories like these.

One day, the strap of Rurumo’s undershirt snaps. When Kouta pleads for her help to get him out from a handcuff prank Chiro played on him, Rurumo felt insecure. Embarrassed. It’s like her chest feels exposed and defenceless. In the end she couldn’t do it and Kouta thinks she is sick or something. Anyway his hands are still tied. Rurumo tells this problem to Chiro. Since ordering one from the Underworld will take some time, why not borrow from mom? Well, didn’t know mom’s cup size was E, didn’t you?! Rurumo talks to Masako about this and she is more than happy to help her because she thinks she is trying to become a real witch. A true cosplayer! However even if she loves making cosplay outfits, a bra is a different story so Masako gathers all the girls as Rurumo tells them that she has never worn a normal bra before. They let her see theirs. All sorts of colours, sizes and varieties. If the boys were here… Of course the biggest boobs go to Sawashita. Those flat chests are starting to feel defeated… Now you know why big boobs command certain happiness? The girls decide to go to a lingerie shop after school. Iida who probably has the biggest boobs among the characters in this series accompany them. Seeing those huge melons has Rurumo think if magic were in the form of those, hers would be incomparable! Kouta comes running thinking something is wrong. He thought she was sick but it seems she is going out with friends. Is there something she is hiding? She can’t say of course. When Kouta spots Iida’s huge boobs, he succumbs to it. This makes Rurumo think big boobs indeed does have power. So hers does not? Her friends believe it will grow in time. Rurumo thinks it’s impossible. She hasn’t grown since 300 years!!! Great cosplay back story? So while they’re choosing a bra for her, I don’t know why they tie up Kouta and have him ‘sleep’ in the shop. What happens when he wakes up? Rurumo feels disappointed he grovels in the face of big boobs. But he says he always grovel before big or small ones. It’s the dream that comes with the boobs that remains the same. If there is a difference, it’s about whether they’re treasured or not. Holy cow! More words of wisdom from this pervert?! This made Rurumo believe the reason why there are so many varieties of bras in this world. So after she chooses one and tries to show off her chest to Kouta, he is just happy that she is back to the Rurumo he knows. She feels disappointed because she really put a lot of effort in that. Maybe he would have noticed better had she not wear her usual shirt over them.

Episode 10
It’s the hotspring episode! You know what this means for Kouta and co. Chiro is in her human form and introduces herself as Rurumo’s sister. How many sisters does Kouta have? Of course the biggest motivation for the perverts is the mixed hotspring. Both genders okay! Thus the reason Kouta turned down Senpai’s occult mission to find some legendary wolf in a nearby village. Kouta becomes the biggest nuisance in the girls’ area! He unwraps the towels of Sawashita and Tanako! Thankfully they predicted this and wear bath towels beneath. So it’s time for Inoue to put a stop to this. Kyouko hits the perverts away but lets pretty boy Sakurai go. Kouta won’t be cowed by this and wants a second try. However as prior to their agreement, he quickly does whatever Senpai wants and that is to drink some odd water. Not even suspecting the slightest? Yeah. He wants to go back in the bath fast. It is said that the water can turn you into the wolf but as Senpai observes, no such luck. Another false legend? By the time Kouta hits the bath, only old men, old women and fat sumo wrestlers! Turns out the girls are playing ping pong and the guys are loving all the bouncy action. At least from Sawashita’s part. After buying souvenirs, it’s back to the baths and once more Kouta is going to hit another consecutive perverted streak. Till the girls point out he can’t enter the bath without his pants on. What pants? You mean those hairy legs? WTF?! Furry wolf legs?!

In the toilet, Kouta is freaking out that this must be karma. God is trying to make him pay for all those naughty deeds. At this rate he won’t be able to enter the bath. First, calm down. Wash your face. What do you see? A wolf’s head?! Oh no! He runs away and bumps into Sawashita. She cries wolf (pun not intended). Kouta even bumps into Chiro but the cat doesn’t recognize who he is. Soon word is spread around the inn that a wolf has appeared. Some are scared and some like Senpai are just itching to get it on film. Don’t worry. The grandma inn hostess is a licensed hunter and she’ll take care of the wolf with her big shotgun! Kouta is alone and regretting his actions, his life. He promises he won’t do such bad things again. He only wants a peaceful life. Too late. Now he is completely a wolf. Worse, everyone spots him. Get him! He remembers about the tickets but can’t use it since his paws can’t tear it off. Left to run into the wilderness, he bumps into Rurumo who surprisingly hides him and leads the hunters astray. She mentions there is no way she would not recognize her contractor and it would be troublesome for her if he really turns into a full wolf. She reminds him that the tickets respond to his true wish and to make one before his heart turns into a wolf. Tears of gratitude? Kouta is back as a human being again. In the aftermath, everyone believes Sawashita may have mistaken the wolf as a dog. Nevertheless they are grateful nothing happened (especially Kouta). And people like Senpai are left to rue if this world had any occult in the first place. Oh, you don’t know. You don’t know…

Episode 11
The last time Senpai put up an exhibition for the club, they only got 5 visitors. This is going to be a problem for recruiting new members. Tanako has an idea. Make a music band! Because the guys are just horrible (triangle, castanet, recorder and harmonica is all they could play), Tanako goes to recruit potential ones. Kouta won’t let her do all the work and also do some recruiting. Logically he asks the light music club and they would have said yes if not for his Playboy bunny costume. Tanako has found the potential band mates: Sawashita on guitar, Inoue on bass, Kyouko on drums and herself on piano. What about vocals? Rurumo! She lets them hear her voice. Personally I thought it was a little eerie but I guess it is okay. Everyone loves it! Hidden talent? The girls improvise on Rurumo’s little song while Senpai surprisingly wrote decent lyrics albeit it is all about mysteries. What about their costume? Definitely Kouta’s Playboy bunny outfit is out of the costume. Masako suggests they dress like a witch like Rurumo. In turn, Rurumo is confident Masako can make them because she is the best person to make clothes. Eventually they have a chance to take part in a high school band audition. A judge thinks they’re a bunch of amateurs and doesn’t put much hope on them. Till he hears Rurumo’s voice! OMG! So angelic! Instant pass! They even breeze through the second round and reach the final round! So while everyone is having a pre-celebration, Tanako asks if Rurumo is enjoying herself because she feels bad for forcing her to join in the first place. She does. Kouta is happy to see her making more friends. And probably happier when he gets to see an accidental treasured panty shot by Sawashita. As the finals will be held in a hall, once Rurumo learns that she will be performing on stage in front of everyone, she collapses! Although she regains consciousness, everyone realize she is struggling to maintain her composure. Kouta feels like an idiot for not realizing Rurumo’s stage fright. She is such a shy girl who would rather go to prison than put on her panties in front of him. Rurumo says she will do it but can she? Now the moment is here. Everyone is anticipating this new band. Their friends and families are cheering for them. The judge is having high hopes for them and even brought his president to watch. And here they are… WTF is this?! Kouta in Rurumo’s place???!!! DISAPPOINTING!!! But he is adamant he will not let her efforts go to waste. The moment he opens his mouth… FREAKING DISASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You were saying this band had some future, judge? Well, we know they didn’t win but at least the girls are happy to have reached this stage. As reward for covering her, Rurumo personally sings to him at the park.

Episode 12
Kouta and his friends celebrate countdown to the end of the year in their own fashionable way. Alone. All guys out as usual? The only ‘big’ event left for the year is the shrine visit and his friends really hope he could ask Rurumo to come. When Kouta does some errands with Rurumo, they pass by the street they first met. Lots of memories. Feels like they’ve been together forever. Chiro sarcastically blames him it’s his fault Rurumo didn’t get to finish her training. Kouta notices Rurumo staring at a beautiful kimono at the shop. Although its rental is cheap, he is broke. But he has an idea of making Rurumo happy with this surprise. He takes up a part time job but it’s still not enough. Time to ask mom for help. There is a gift he also got her as apology and Rurumo almost found out when she entered his room without knocking. His reaction like as though some pervert saw a girl’s panties. Did you see it?! No. On December 30th, Rurumo needs to tell him something but when the clock strikes midnight, he dozes off. Kouta wakes up on New Year’s Eve, feeling he has forgotten about someone. If he’s looking for dad, he already went out early. He can’t remember why the heck he needs to go to his part time job. Mom doesn’t remember why she lent him money. She is suspicious of him and his friends for the shrine visit and makes him promise not to assault girls! Or else this knife will be waiting for him… Scary! Kouta then passes by Rurumo’s room. Whose room is this? Wasn’t this the storage room? That night when he meets up with his friends, they are highly anticipating his surprise, though they can’t remember what it is. Even Sakurai puts a note about meeting Rurumo but cannot remember who she is and thinks must be somebody important for him to even note it down.

As they make their way, they pass a park and Kouta feels like he has been here before with somebody. It is a long queue to the shrine and Iida is there to keep them in place. She too cannot remember that there is a girl always besides Kouta. While the guys are surprised Inoue is working as a shrine priestess, they are joined by their other female friends. Tanako has developed the group photo from the band audition and hands it to everyone. They are stumped to see Rurumo in it. Who is this girl? Kouta’s head start to hurt just thinking about this girl. Who is she? Meanwhile Rurumo is in Kouta’s room and she sees the kimono and realizes what this is all about. Kouta continues to think that something is missing. This magic ticket bundle and gift. Something isn’t right. He accidentally bumps into a girl in a kimono. Hey. Isn’t that the kimono he rented? When the countdown to New Year’s Day ends, Kouta remembers Rurumo. She looks pretty gorgeous in it. Flashback reveals Rurumo told him that she will be evaluated tomorrow (which is today) and since the Underworld officials are coming to check on her training and to avoid interference, there will be a temporary memory loss magic spell casted. She will be erased from everyone’s memories for a day. So now you remember why you can’t remember? Kouta compliments she looks good in it and gives her a hair accessory gift as apology. Then everyone joins in and remembers her. They’re glad she came. As they enjoy themselves at the festival, Kouta notes and apologizes to Rurumo. He does want her to pass her training but at the same time he too wants to always be with her and have fun forever.

Bewitched! One Way Tickets For Life!
Well, just okay. Although this is a nice funny little series however I feel that it suffers from something that makes it somewhat satisfying. Like as though it lacks something deep. Hmm… Did the memory erasing spell still have some sort of effect on me? The final episode of Rurumo went ‘missing’ didn’t really felt threatening in any ways because in the end, the series feels like the daily lives of Kouta and Rurumo and with the pace of the series, you don’t really think that Rurumo is in some sort of training. Random episodes like forming a band heading to an audition, nursing stray cats, Kouta turning into a wolf and Rurumo’s getting lost on her first errand easily makes you forget so. The setting of Rurumo making a contract with Kouta and the predicament that made her so is quickly forgotten once the series rolls out its usual brand of antics. I don’t know if there is any deadline to become a witch again but at the rate they are going, it seems Rurumo is going to be an apprentice for a very long time. I know she is over 300 years old so I guess she can really take her time.

Personally I don’t feel the development of the characters to be deep either. Even over the course of the series, Kouta and Rurumo’s relationship has always been just like that. I want to say that their bond grows closer every minute they spend with each other and it’s thank to that themselves and not just magic. But we’re so caught up in Kouta’s antics and Rurumo isn’t much of an expresser in emotions so such impact on their development doesn’t quite feel it there. Sure, Kouta has been with her ever since and it feels like a long time. He wants to be with her always. That’s quite about it. To a point that if you talk about the romance part, you may be somewhat disappointed if you’re expecting something to come out from this. Heck even the romance between Tanako and Senpai is one way traffic. He is oblivious about her because his passion is always the occult and mysteries of the world. That or wanting Rurumo to join his club. Always rejected. Maybe it’s karma. Rurumo does the same to him as he does to Tanako? I don’t know about Inoue but something tells me she harbours some sort of feelings for Kouta, don’t you think? She might be using her disciplinary actions to set him straight but could it be just a facade to hide her feelings? What about Kyouko and Sakurai? It’s just hinting. Romance there is aplenty but somewhat disappointing if you’re looking for a decent development.

Ever since we have known Rurumo to be a slow learner and such, it is hard for us not to feel for her. I guess in a way it is good because casual viewers may start thinking the emotionless retard this witch girl is. Heck, she can’t even remember about Iida’s help and I thought this was some sort of running joke. As such, Rurumo could perhaps be the ‘strongest’ character because she knows about her greatest weakness of learning much slower than others and her clumsiness. However this doesn’t stop her from trying. Bearing this fact in mind, you can’t help feel to cheer for her to carry on. She accepts what comes her way because there is no point if she b*tches about it. All she can do as to do her best and I think this is what is amazing about her. Also, she might not be considered intelligent by our standards but in some ways she is intelligent in her own ways. For example, she is the only one who could identify that the wolf was Kouta. Not even Chiro whom I thought at least she could have identified him via his smell or something.

Kouta on the other hand could have been a better guy if not for his perversion but I suppose that is alright because Kouta wouldn’t be Kouta if not for his perversion. Despite his perversion, he is a nice and kind hearted person. He takes in abandoned animals and even demoted witches. I don’t know how many tickets he has left but that bundle looks thick enough. It is tempting to use them in lots of situations. Because of the sparingly used tickets, you won’t feel that he is inching closer to his death or something. I will be wondering too what happens if that day comes. Will there be an exception or something? Because I can imagine by that time, they’ve spent lots of time together and certainly Kouta’s death will not be acceptable even if it is the rules. I know I am thinking too much and such premise could be interesting for the story development but as far as this season is concerned, let’s just be contend with Kouta and Rurumo being together with their friends.

I just wonder if there are any rules for using the tickets in the sense that what can Rurumo use her magic to accomplish. For one, we know that it doesn’t work on the dead. Since it only works on the living, I keep wondering why Kouta doesn’t use the ticket to make Rurumo less klutzy or smarter or something. There may be a couple of reasons. Firstly, it won’t mean anything if Rurumo doesn’t overcome them herself. It’s like using a cheat code to win a game. No effort, no fun. Secondly, Rurumo wouldn’t be Rurumo anymore if she starts acting differently. Remember how ‘scary’ she was after wearing that legendary swimsuit? Would you prefer an aggressive and horny Rurumo or a retarded one? Originals are always the best, eh? And lastly in view of this, I don’t think Kouta is going to use up the tickets unless in very grave situations. It is his life at stake but maybe he’ll do it for Rurumo’s sake. Besides, I wonder if he can wish for more tickets. Because sly and scheming humans would think of having unlimited sources to get their wish. Ah well, Kouta is more of a simpleton pervert. There is no cure to that. Not even magic.

The other characters do okay just to prop up the series and support our main duo but like I said, nothing too deep about them. Because of that there is hardly any solid back story on Rurumo and past. Maybe that is about it. I suppose nothing happens when you are imprisoned for 60 years. Harulily could have been the best bet and the one whom I thought would be somewhat a regular after her appearance. Unfortunately she just lasted for that single episode. That is why lots of things about Rurumo herself are left a lot to be desired. Oh well, I guess there is romance in some things being mysterious. I don’t know how but before you know it, Sawashita and Tanako slowly become part of the ‘group’. Just like Kouta’s perverted buddies, they feel more like secondary characters and hardly leave any everlasting impact. At least even Masako had a little more screen time and we get to know of her secret cosplay hobby. Even Chiro as Rurumo’s sidekick also lacks any impact. Mostly we see her bumming around and sometimes doing her little mischief to get her own little kicks. She too comes from the same predicament of being left out like Rurumo so I guess that’s why clicks with her. Perhaps the ‘best’ character goes to Kouta’s mom who has this tendency to turn into some scary yandere (oh, those dead eyes…) and always suspecting her son. Is this how notorious his perversion has become? If your own mother suspects you like that, then it says a lot, right?

The drawing and art seems a little cartoonish and thus making the overall feel of this series somewhat, uhm, cartoonish. In addition to girls like Harulily, Tanako and Sawashita who have this one kind look, Kouta’s friends and the occult club members look a bit odd. I know friends come in all shapes and sizes but guys with round heads and tall pointed heads, sometimes I think I am watching a mild version of One Piece with odd body parts. Speaking of that, is it me or is it somehow the characters have shades of Bleach in them?! I don’t know. When I first looked at Kouta, I thought he was Ichigo Kurosaki! Heck I thought that they had the same voice actor. What more, there is a curious resemblance between Chiro and Bleach’s Yoruichi. Both tanned ladies can transform into their cat version. Only difference is that one is a busty buxom babe and the other a flat chest loli. And hey, doesn’t Senpai look like Ishida and Sawashita a bit like Orihime? Rurumo herself might be the emotionless version of Rukia! Sugawara = Sado? Okay, maybe the last one is just stretching it and taking it too far.

With Kouta and his friends being typical perverts (Kouta is the biggest one of course), over the course of this anime there are a few of fanservice scenes from Rurumo’s cherry print panties to Iida and Sawashita’s humongous racks (I suppose fanservice is the only reason why they have such voluptuous pairs in the first place) to even the obligatory beach and hotspring episode. It is a good thing that the fanservice here enhances the comedic effects instead of for pure fanservice sake. At least that is how I feel.

Voice acting wise, there isn’t anything special or that stands out. Makoto Takahashi as Kouta is making his debut as a main character (previously he had minor roles in Sword Art Online and Shin Sekai Yori) while Suzuko Mimori is rather okay as the emotionless Rurumo. She voiced a myriad of characters before from Sherlock in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Nanami in Kamisama Hajimemashita and Shion in GJ-Bu so she really sounded different helming this deadpan character. Other casts include Misato Fukuen as Chiro (Even in Black Cat), Natsumi Takamori as Harulily (Misaki in Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo), Yurika Endou as Tanako (Rina in Sakura Trick), Juri Nagatsum as Sawashita (Satone in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Shizuka Ishigami as Inoue (Akira in Nagi No Asukara), Minami Takahashi as Masako (Asuka in Log Horizon), Mari Shiraishi as Kyouko (Mai in Witchcraft Works), Harumi Sakurai as Iida (Lisanna in Fairy Tail), Junji Majima as Senpai (Tooru in Hitsugi No Chaika) and Hiro Shimono as Nishino (Keima in The World God Only Knows). Of course not forgetting my ever favourite Mamiko Noto taking a small role as Kouta’s mom. The opening and ending themes aren’t that memorable either. Pretty generic. Nothing that outstanding. Seiippai Tsutaetai by Suzuko Mimori is the opening piece while Futari No Chrono Stasis by Yurika Endou is the ending song. I notice there is a variety of background music that are nice on the ears too.

Overall, this anime may not be the best comedy, magic or fanservice series of the season and even in the long run it won’t be fondly remembered since there is nothing ground breaking. Especially the characters and the plot leaving lots to be desired as they have potential to be developed but too bad most of the episodes feel like standalone and fillers. Probably this is one of the many series of the season where you watch for light hearted moments and fun instead of delving into something deep and complicated. Nevertheless, it is still worth the watch because you’ll learn that even witches get discriminated and that despite the amount of magic they have and the absurd rules they have to abide, deep down they are still humans in their heart. Or at least in Rurumo’s case, you can say that she is trying to be one and in certain cases, more human than others. Now, if there are only magic tickets to cure the human race… On second thought, if divine intervention and miracles can’t do the trick, what are the chances?

Mamotte! Lollipop

February 14, 2015

Every girl dreams to have a couple of handsome guys be her bodyguard, right? Okay, maybe not. But what happens if you find yourself in such predicament? It wouldn’t be really bliss if there is a couple of hot guys by your side, then there must be an equal reason for danger. Yeah. Law of averages. Okay, I made that up too. But you get the idea because Mamotte! Lollipop is about this normal girl whose normal life has been turned upside down when she accidentally swallows something coveted. Now she becomes the target of all those who want to get their hands on it. But don’t despair, she has got a couple of good looking guys who vow to protect her at all cost till the matter is resolved. I guess it can’t be that bad, can it?

Episode 1
Nina Yamada is telling her friends, You and Hatsuka her ideal man. Strong, sweet, handsome and always there to protect her. Which girl doesn’t want that kind of guy? She notices a round candy in her cake and eats it but tastes it as inedible. Suddenly a couple of good looking guys, Zero and Ichii drop down to protect her from a flurry of… Flying humans?! This shock made her swallow the candy. After that is over, with their device and seahorse mascot, Zura, they try and detect where the Crystal Pearl is. To their horror, Nina has swallowed it! Zero is not amused and forces Nina to give it back. However there is another couple, San and Forte on a giant owl having their suspicions over Zero and Ichii if they have found Crystal Pearl. Nina and Zura are bad liars trying to hide they don’t know anything. Ichii drives his car for them to escape but San and Forte aren’t giving up, continuing to bug them for details. Only the overhead bridge got them. Once in a safe place, Zero and Ichii explain they are sorcerers. Currently they are taking a test to become professional sorcerers. Every year, examinees would pair up and take the test. A ball called Crystal Pearl is dropped somewhere in the human world and the pair who finds it before Christmas will pass. That ball is now inside Nina’s body. Like Nina is going to believe this crap. And she can’t believe she is going to be the target of examinees. Ichii calls headquarters about this case. They say the ball can’t remain inside a human’s body and a special medicine needs to be created to remove it. It will be ready by Christmas. This sucks. What now? Instead of sulking and complaining, Ichii suggests they protect Nina with all they’ve got till the medicine is completed. Just as they agree to do this, San and Forte heard this. Now they want her. Another round of chase. Ichii tells everyone to escape while he distracts. Zura turns into a blowfish? Nina struggles in the air but Zero catches her before she falls. Her heart beats fast at this close proximity. Till he had to say her boobs are small. That’s the longest piledriver pain he felt. From the sky to the ground! As Nina walks away in a bad mood, she is captured by San.

San brings Nina back to Forte and bugs-cum-tortures him for her reward. She uses all his money to buy cakes in which she starts eating with Nina. WTF. Forte is mad and there is no way he is going to protect Nina like Zero and Ichii. But San mentions there are no rules in mentioning how to remove Crystal Pearl from her body. Oh dear. You know what this means. Nina is shocked. Weren’t they best girl friends? I guess that’s what the cakes were for… Forte uses her hypnotism magic on her. Nina doesn’t want to die yet so as she screams out to Zero and Ichii’s name, they are able to detect her and bursts into their hiding place to her rescue. Forte wants to burn Nina’s body and remove the ball from it. Zero and Ichii move into to protect her with their barrier. But how long can they last? Nina doesn’t want them to do this anymore but Zura mentions they won’t give up or lose because they have a dream. Because they too were once protected by somebody like this. They need to repay him, the person who has always helped and watched over them, Jeff the professional sorcerer. Zura asks if Nina too has people she loves she wants to protect. Immediately she remembers her parents who guided and protected her with all their love. The trio get motivated to protect their dreams and loved ones. Zero powers up his destructive magic and blasts the duo away. Try again next time. Nina apologizes for saying mean things to them but they’re okay with it since they have gave her their word to do whatever it takes to protect her. Nina starts thinking they could be her ideal guys. Just when things are going fine, Zero had to say something insensitive and this pisses off Nina so she beats him up. If this is going to be like this, it’s going to be a long road ahead…

Episode 2
If it’s bad enough Nina is having a bad dream being chased by weirdoes, she is late for school and to her horror Zero is in her room trying to wake her up. Note, she didn’t give him permission to enter. Anyway since they are going to be protecting her, they’ll be escorting her to school every day from now on. Is this bodyguard service necessary? Oh yes. Because here comes San and Forte again trying to snatch her. The crash boom bang battle ends with Zero and Ichii being victorious of course and leaving Nina getting unwanted attracting from other people. This is how her life is going to be until Christmas. She thought school is her only sanctuary but Zero and Ichii have become transfer students! I guess they are really taking their bodyguard job seriously. She is sandwiched between them. Her friends want to know the details since how can a girl like her suddenly get a pair of hot guys? Nina could feel the piercing stares of others. Because Zero and Ichii continue to be by her side everywhere she goes, rumours start circling that the guys are her fiancé and came all the way to this school to chase after her. It is no surprise that Nina feels pissed off. Zero doesn’t care if she hates them or what because if other sorcerers target her and try to forcefully extract Crystal Pearl from her, you can guess what will happen to her for a person who doesn’t have magic. That is why they will protect her until the medicine is completed. So it’s back to the annoying 24/7 by your side. San and Forte are watching them and note it’ll be hard to get close to Nina if the duo are around. San has an idea. She makes Forte dress as a girl! I don’t know about this sneaking in plan but I think it’s her fetish. Yeah. Forte is cute enough to attract some loser guys who view ‘her’ as their type! Better finish this mission fast.

Nina is in another argument with the duo for being so close. She nearly falls off the stairs but Ichii catches her. Cue for another heart pounding situation. Then all her girl friends start bugging her about the guys. San and Forte come in to catch her. Nina thinks Forte is a girl dressed as a boy so he has to refute that he is a true blue guy. This makes all the girls mad because they think he is here to peep on them and start chasing him. They’re going to kill him also because he is cuter than them. For that reason… Those same girls too got a short attention span because they got distracted with Zero and Ichii and start bugging them for their phone number, etc. They slip away but those bugs are persistent. Because of so, Nina is chased around by San. Zero and Ichii are cornered when Zero notices Nina’s predicament. He gets rough making his way through so Ichii had to sooth the girl with his charm. Don’t worry. Wild or gentle, they all still love them! Zero comes to Nina’s protection and he gets injured while fending off San’s onslaught of carnivorous air fish. At the same time making Nina’s heart soft when he spouts his chivalrous reasons of why he wants to protect her, blah, blah, blah. Her powers up his offensive magic to counter attack but Forte turns up to turn the tables back. Ichii arrives in time to even the odds. He powers up his defensive magic barrier to deflect their magic attack to send them flying away in the sky. Try again? Déjà vu? Of course Nina feels guilty that Zero got hurt while protecting her. She thinks he isn’t such a bad guy despite the obnoxious type. But Zero’s offensive magic caused quite some damage in the school building so he is going to get lectured by Ichii. Nina couldn’t help but laugh. But she won’t be having the last laugh as the duo now move into her house! This way they can be always be by her side. They live in her closet that connects to their room in some magic space. There goes her privacy. There goes her life. Feel like crying?

Episode 3
Nina wakes up to get changed. I suppose she’s not used to it yet when she opens the closet only to see the guys changing. Big wake up call. On the way to school, Ichii observes Nina helping a small girl who scraped her knee at the park. He comments she is a sweet and kind person. The guys are hounded at school by those girls. Too bad Nina has no place. Her friends aren’t that bad but they still pester her about their relationship. Rokka and her butler, Gou are in this world too. The moment she sees Ichii, she starts screaming and rushing right to his side. Guess what? She kisses him right in front of everybody! All the girls may have just died that moment. And they want Nina to do something about it! WTF?! So is Rokka Ichii’s girlfriend? Fiancée. She made that up. But it’s true she really wants to marry him. She only came to this world just to be with him and the reason she became an examinee. Because Nina is quite casual with Ichii, Rokka insults and badmouths her. Trying to intimidate? To her dismay, Ichii protects Nina and the damning gauntlet is that Nina is an important person to him. This causes the spoilt princess to start screaming, throwing tantrum before running away. Gou must really have a hard time cleaning up her mess and keeping up with her. Ichii then gives Nina a lollipop because it befits her sweet personality. However that kiss is what that is still bugging her.

When Nina is changing in the locker room, Rokka is back to bring more misery. She uses her magic on Nina to turn her into a baby. That way Ichii won’t pay attention to her because Ichii is hers. Forever will be. News of Nina is missing spark the guys looking for her. And nobody else can tell that this stray baby is Nina. They don’t even wonder why the heck there is a stray baby here. Nina thinks the lollipop is the only way Ichii will recognize her so she crawls her way to find him. Meanwhile Rokka tries to appeal to Ichii with her sexy body and cooking (that reaction makes you wonder if her cooking is edible). Each time Rokka spots Nina, she tries to hide her till the guys can’t contain their suspicion. Although Rokka tries to pass Nina off as a stray baby, here comes Gou detecting Crystal Pearl inside this baby. Rokka understands why Ichii is bent on protecting her. So what if she brings Nina back to the magic world? Will he come along too? She orders Gou to get them so he uses his illusion magic to bring them to some toy room. There are many baby Nina clones and if they can figure out which is the real one, they’ll withdraw quietly. A giant teddy bear starts abusing Zura. The real Nina protects him. Ichii and Zero power up to destroy the bear and pick her as the real one. Gou will abide by the promise and turns Nina back to normal. But Rokka is a sore loser, still screaming she won’t give him up. She still won’t let Nina have her Ichii so she materializes a giant bunny to get her. However Nina’s lollipop protected her. Ichii casted a defensive magic on it. Rokka again is still not happy he cares about Nina more than her despite her claim she loves him more, blah, blah, blah. She’s crying so much that she turns into her true form, a 5 year old girl. The reason she turned Nina into a baby was that she thought Ichii wouldn’t pay attention to a girl smaller than her. Nina understands why Ichii wasn’t fazed with her kiss or appeal. While the kid is still whining, Gou got the sense to take her away. Nina wonders how Ichii can tell she was the real one. Wasn’t it obvious and easy? She was the only one who protected Zura. That’s why she is sweet and kind.

Episode 4
Nina wins the first prize at the raffles to earn a trip for 3 to the hotspring. And she couldn’t take the hint that Zero and Ichii are coming along. And looks like Rokka is there too. Oh dear. Since she’s already b*tching about this and that, I think I know what to expect. Zero and Ichii lack tact that they undress before Nina in their room. So Nina runs out to have some time of her own but meets Gou. He transports her into the pinball machine whereby he is going to teach her a lesson by shooting the pinball at her. Thankfully Zero and Ichii arrive just in time to save her and Gou escapes since he is outnumbered. Later Gou is encountered by Forte who warns them about underestimating Zero and Ichii. Forte is left embarrassed when Gou points out his yukata is actually for females. Damn guy got tricked by San again. While Nina relaxes in the hotspring, she sees this lake legend whereby if you see your own reflection in it, the face of your destined one will appear. She gets flustered thinking it would either be Zero or Ichii. Meanwhile Rokka causes havoc for Ichii when she jumps in to be with her beloved. I think Gou is going to have a hard time restraining this wild child who is perhaps trying to get naughty with Ichii. All is not well for Nina too because she’s got San for company. She materializes a giant duck to take her out. Nina’s scream alerts Zero as he comes in to save the day once more. Nina’s legs cramp up so he carries her but her towel drops off. She beats him up and is sad she won’t be able to get married. However Zero’s comments that her boobs are nothing rile her up. Ultimate punch!

She locks the guys out of the room and when she thinks they are gone, Ichii is seen outside waiting. Can’t leave her alone for obvious reasons. He explains Zero is often misunderstood because he tends to say whatever comes to mind. But he knows Zero wants to protect her with all he’s got. Nina feels the need to apologize and heads off to find the ping pong area where Zero is believed to be. Zero is playing ping pong with little Rokka when Ichii comes in wondering if they have reconciled. Nina didn’t come by. Oh no. She’s missing too. Double oh no. Nina has followed the fake signs to the lake whereby Forte uses his hypnotism to drown her. Thanks to Zero arriving on the scene quick, he snaps her out and protects her from San’s attacking familiars. Of course this makes Nina feel guilty that he is getting hurt for protecting her instead of fighting back. Once Ichii destroys the familiars, Zero is able to go all out and blow the duo into the night sky. See you again. Nina wants to apologize but to her surprise Zero apologizes first. She is happy that he too wants to make up. She thanks him. Then she looks into the lake, curious to know who her destined soul mate is. Zero and Ichii? Actually they’re looking into it too. But it doesn’t matter for Nina as long as they’re both here.

Episode 5
A flashback sequence whereby San is all alone because the adults keep calling her a jinx. Nina must be getting used to life with Zero and Ichii. Suddenly San and Forte come rushing into the scene. The guys prepare to protect Nina but it seems the duo run past them. They observe San bugging Forte to buy her this and that and they’re running all over the place. He is even forced to go along with her whims and fancies as she forces a cute dress. It’s understandable they can’t contain their laughter. But this makes them wonder why they are always together and Forte is always accommodating San. Once more Forte is forced to make cookies for her but when he is done, he realizes she has gone out. Then he realizes the date today, 17th July. It has been 7 years since. Flashback reveals Forte is the grandson of a powerful sorcerer. At a party, a giant bird causes mischief. Forte thought he was done for but it turns into feathers. San appears before him and that’s the first time they met. Forte learns San is his cousin and the ladies call her a cursed child since she had uncanny powers since birth. They also believe she is the reason why her mother, Salia is sick. They don’t want him to associate with her. Forte starts to think if those were the reason why San has sadness in her eyes. Is that why she is always alone? He becomes curious and wants to know more about her. He finds her singing alone and mentions his intention to become her friend. And so that’s when the bugging and pestering began. San drags him just about anywhere, to do anything. As he runs away, he gets lost and finds himself in a room occupied by a sick lady. She turns out to be Salia. San is happy to see mommy again but then cold hearted grandpa separates them. He accuses San of being a cursed child and believes each time San gets close to Salia, her condition gets worse. Forte doesn’t like the sound of it but San doesn’t want to aggravate the situation since it is her fault she didn’t listen in the first place.

San then tells Forte about this cursed child thingy. However she decided to use it as a charm. She believes that if she keeps smiling, Salia will get better but it’s not working despite smiling all the time. Forte knows no matter how much she smiles, Salia won’t get better. He wanted to tell her but couldn’t find the words that won’t hurt her. So he sat there holding her hand without saying anything for a long time. Eventually Salia passes away and the adults still believe it is San who caused it all. They even accuse her of being heartless since she is smiling and not shedding a tear. Forte tells them off she is not a cursed child. Then he tells her it is okay to cry when she wants to. She doesn’t need to hold back and should only smile when she is having fun. Although her mom is gone, she still has him. He promises to always be by her side and stay closest to her heart. He’ll always watch over her. Watch over her smile. San instantly breaks down and cries so loud in his arms, calling for her mom. That was the first and last time Forte had seen San cry. In present time, Forte joins San paying her respects at Salia’s grave. 17th July is the anniversary of Salia’s death. He tells her that he will not change and that what he had said then will also not change. He will always be by her side. I’m sure he can continue tolerating her constant bugging…

Episode 6
As usual, Zero and Nina are arguing so much so they accidentally ruin the cake shop and have to pay compensation. A pro sorcerer, Will and his cat familiar, Aquamarine are watching them and note they are so carefree despite being in the middle of the exam. They decide to pay them a visit to spice things up. San, Forte, Gou and Rokka are suddenly whisked before Nina and the guys. They are brought here by Will who is also an inspector in their exam. He is going to make them pass a mid-term exam and failure to do so means they do not qualify to take the final one. Will kidnaps Nina and the team that rescues her will pass. Otherwise they will all be disqualified. They manage to find the building Nina is held but it is protected by Will’s magic barrier. After Ichii nullifies it, now they have to race to the top where Nina is. However they must go through several obstacles. The first one being some quiz show. Zero-Ichii and Gou-Rokka pass but San-Forte gets disqualified because San’s stomach was growling that she could think nothing but food and answered wrongly. The next challenge must have them defeat a couple of macho men! Gou and Rokka flop and get disqualified so it’s up to the duo to save the day and move on. Lying await in their third challenge is a huge dragon. While taking it head on, Will badmouths the pair that they will betray her and run away but Nina believes in them. Will is going to put their trust to the test. First she takes away Nina’s voice and then gets rid of the dragon to let Zero and Ichii have a clear passage up.

Once they enter the room, Will tells them Nina made a pact with him. Because she saw them struggling with the dragon, she pleaded to him to let them pass in exchange for her voice. Nina can’t deny that. Shouldn’t she have just resorted to sign language or even body language instead of just stand there looking panicky? However this little ruse isn’t enough to ruffle their feathers. Zero tells him off that they have promised to protect Nina till the end and even if they pass the test but if Nina is not safe, it is pointless. Will is impressed but he gives them a choice. He can return Nina’s voice but in turn they must drop out of the exam. So what is it going to be? They’re going to for both! They unleash their attack but it is not enough to scratch Will. Ichii wants Zero to attack him. Is he crazy? No, trust him. Zero does just that and it turns out to be some magic absorbing attack that catches Will by surprise. Will is impressed that they really trust each other and returns Nina’s voice. Nina makes it clear that she has always believed in them. Will passes them and also decides to do the same with the rest. Because despite they got disqualified, they didn’t give up and tried to get back in (albeit didn’t make any headway). Will is touched by their trust in each other and the way they won’t give up on their dream and thus decided to make it an exception to pass them all. So a happy ending from everybody? Not quite. Because this means Nina will be continued to be chased around! Yeah. It was like the devil or the deep blue sea for her.

Episode 7
The season of kimodameshi (test of courage) is here. Legend has it that if a boy and a girl pairs up and they confess to each other, their relationship will be a guaranteed success. Nina’s friends are really interested which guy she is going to pick… Meanwhile another pair of sorcerer examinees, Yakumo Ishii and Nanase Akatsuki are hunting for Crystal Pearl. The former believes in relying on some fickle device used throughout his generations to find it but Nanase isn’t convinced. Eventually he picks up the signal at Nina’s school and he goes about ranting just about anything while the other boys start hitting on Nanase. He heard about this kimodameshi and gets an idea. Nina shows off her kimono since it is a rule that girls must be dressed as so. She flusters thinking about the confession part but she gets worried when Ichii gets a call from someone named Sarasa. Sounds like a girl… Since the usual suspects are also participating, Hatsuka has fallen for Gou and rigs the pairing. Forte-Rokka goes first. Yakumo and Nanase are impersonating as ghosts and are going to scare the hell out of them. It works like a charm on Forte-Rokka. Forte is more scared and tries to cling to Rokka but she beats him up to a pulp and goes look for Ichii. Next is San-Zero pair and they are not scared at all. In fact they are amused with the ghosts and want to learn how to make such costumes. Hatsuka and Gou are next but because Hatsuka is already using up so much energy trying to fawn all over Gou, I guess the ghost pair will have to skip them. Finally it is Nina and Ichii. Ichii notices she doesn’t look like she is enjoying herself but she brushes it off as nothing. She then asks if he has anyone she likes. He doesn’t and in fact is currently looking for one. Before she could ask about Sarasa, the ghosts scare them and they slip. At this rate their lips will meet. Thankfully (or not) here comes blazing Rokka splitting them up. Forte continues to be a chicken and even more when San (in a ghost outfit) comes hugging him. Yakumo and Nanase reveal themselves when they realize Ichii and Zero. Yeah. They know each other and are not too thrilled.

Seems both pairs dislike each other and it goes a long way back when they attend the same cram school together. Nanase blames Zero because just when the former is getting popular with the boys and decides not to tell everyone that he is actually a boy (OMFG?! Nanase is a guy?!), then comes Zero to tell everyone the trap he is and all of a sudden his popularity plunges. As for Yakumo, he blames Ichii. Because his magic is transforming stuffs into weapons, everyone was impressed except Ichii who called it lame. It hurt his soul. And for that, they have always been at each other’s throat especially during magic tests. They always end up in a draw and never settled. Nina couldn’t believe Zero and Ichii were like that so Yakumo hints they were notorious during those days. Ichii tells him to shut it. The only way left is to fight. Of course Yakumo and Nanase lose so the former escapes and took Nina along, mistaking her for Nanase. Nanase is not pleased he mistakes this ugly girl for her. Yakumo’s device picks up the Crystal Pearl in her and they couldn’t believe it since they thought it was just rumours. Yakumo takes a closer look and thinks Nina is pretty cute and suggests she ditch Zero and Ichii in favour of them to protect her. After all, they know nothing about her and she knows nothing about them so they’re on equal grounds. Yakumo suggests letting Nina choose who she wants as her protector. Although Zero disagrees, Ichii allows it since they don’t have the right to stop her. Nina has a hard time choosing. After all that thinking and flashbacks, she has decided. When it seems she is going to Yakumo and Nanase, it is to apologize to them. True, she doesn’t know about them but as said in this case they are on equal footing, she rather go with Zero and Ichii because they gave their word and she trusts them. She runs to them and Zero wonders what would have happened if Nina picked the other. Ichii says they will go reclaim her since they’re the ones who are supposed to protect her. Eh? What? Doesn’t that just make them sore losers? Yakumo and Nanase back down for now because Zero and Ichii don’t see them as worthy opponents. They won’t give up on Crystal Pearl yet and Yakumo won’t give up on Nina too. She’ll make him want to stay with him one day. As they go home, Nina believes she might not know a lot of them now but it’s alright to take time to get to know them better. Because her trust for them will never waver.

Episode 8
Nina could have had a nicer time at the beach if not for Yakumo and Nanase showing up. Yup. Yakumo is saying how much he loves everything about her but had to touch that taboo subject of her small boobs. Hammer away! The rest of the gang show up and another war is about to erupt when Nanase has already made pairings for beach volleyball. So it’s Zero-Nina versus Yakumo-Nanase. During the match, Nanase accidentally slams the ball into Nina’s face. Yakumo helps put band aid on her. Then the match escalates into that of throwing magic fireballs at each other. Zura as the referee tries to stop it but each time gets burnt. In the end, too much fireballs means big explosion. Nina gets caught in it although she is alright. She blames Zero for destroying things but Zero starts sulking and blames Nanase for starting it. He goes off by himself so Nina finds him to try and make up. He is still sulking though, talking like he is jealous of seeing her having fun with other guys. Oh wait. Isn’t he? He throws away her band aid and even eats her ice cream. Then he returns to Ichii like as though all of that never happened. But Nanase notes that the first phase of the plan had only begun. Next morning, Zero and Nina switch bodies! Ichii tries to look up this case on the internet of the magic world. This might take some time so they have to pretend to be each other. This sucks. It’s already hard trying to act like the other and why does first period have to be swimming lessons? How can they get through the changing part… Everyone is amazed with ‘Nina’ because this girl is doing great swimming. The guys are so impressed at how invincible and best Nina is. From eating like a guy, rushing into the boys’ toilet, sleeping in the middle of class and beating the crap out of Forte and San so easily. So cool! So invincible! Ichii thought it would be best for them to stay like that till the end of the exam since any Zero could fight off examinees who target Nina. As Nina won’t want to stay this way so long, Ichii looks up the internet and the only solution is to be closer to each other. Well, they’re standing really close. Nothing happening.

Then Nanase pops up and reveals all this was part of his plan. He used his curse card magic and the band aid (by peeling it off) for the switch. Oh, if they don’t switch back in 24 hours, their switch is permanent. Looks like they have 10 minutes left. Nanase will switch them back in exchange for Crystal Pearl and also Zero must apologize and acknowledge Nanase is better. He won’t thanks to his pride. He’d rather stay this way! But seeing Nina close to tears, he sucks in his pride and does it but in an annoying way. Zero assures they’ll come and rescue her so please trust in them and wait. Nanase is about to reverse the spell but it’s not working. Several attempts later… Nothing! He forgot how! Don’t give them this sh*t! Oh dear. Time is running out. Seeing Nina is going to lose it, Zero figures he needs to consider more about her. He hugs her and wants her to believe in him. Think only of him. This is what being close to each other means. Their hearts must be brought closer to one another. Right on the dot, they revert back. Angry Yakumo comes by to punish Nanase for doing something on his own that hurt his beloved Nina. He apologizes for everything and will take responsibility by training over from the beginning. He then takes their leave for now but won’t give up on Crystal Pearl. Nina and Zero reconcile. They heard each other’s voice in their heart and note that it is their smile that makes them great. Then Zero had to mention that taboo subject… Even the switch there is something he didn’t feel a difference: Her tiny boobs! Smackdown!

Episode 9
Nina is running late for school when she bumps into a cool Arabian lad, Kuku. Wait a minute. She thinks he is cool? Turns out Kuku is trying to practise pick-up lines and his partner, Toto are actually examinees! They trace the signal of Crystal Pearl to Nina’s school. So when Kuku barges in and becomes a gentleman (kissing Nina’s hand), the class becomes abuzz on this. Is this the start of a new love polygon? But when Zero sees Kuku, he isn’t amused. Then they attack each other. Guess what? Kuku is a girl!!!! These freaking kids!!! Why the hell are they always gender reversed?! I wonder if the class can handle any more of these shocks. So who is Kuku exactly? Zero’s fiancée. At least that is what their parents decide. Zero isn’t going to marry her for whatever reasons but Kuku will keep promises no matter what. Nina’s friends are more interested in the rise of a potential rival. Nina brushes it off and they conclude she prefers Ichii. And so typically despite Nina telling us that she doesn’t care about Zero having a fiancée whatsoever, she can’t help feel irritated. Kuku continues to read pick-up lines and wonders why Zero won’t fall for her charms. She tries to show more skin and seduce him. Nina happens to walk by and gets the wrong idea. Now she’s just plain mad and jealous. Zero the ero. So now she’s calling him a traitor after all those things he said? Nina being chased by Zero being chased by Kuku being chased by Toto. You get the picture. But Toto lacks steam and easily goes out of the ‘race’. Zura sees this ‘pattern’ and understands. As she throws a tantrum, Zero says the 3 magical words that soothe her: “Kirai ja nai (I don’t hate you)”. Okay, maybe 4 in English. They have to hide from pesky Kuku. But hiding in the locker may be too close a proximity for Nina. They fall out in ambiguous fashion. Now Kuku calls him a traitor. And they aren’t even dating… She unleashes her animalization magic on them. Now they have animal ears and tails. Only 3 more stages before they turn into a full animal and will never revert back. Kuku assures even if Zero is turned into a dog, she will always love and take care of him.

Toto who is looking for Kuku stumbles upon Zura. As the self proclaimed love master, he tells Toto to go all out instead of sitting around. Toto is unsure because it is Zero whom Kuku likes but after some motivation from the love master, Toto gets some confidence. Zero and Nina hide in the infirmary. They are forced to hide underneath the blanket acting as a person when the nurse comes to check. Can Nina hold on to her sanity for this close proximity? Thinking about the cure how they switched their bodies back, they try being close together. How long will they hug? It’s not working. Maybe they need something closer. Like a kiss. Why are they laughing?! Is it so funny to kiss?! Seriously. After all that preparation and green light, before we could see that, their limbs turn into animals. Kuku will only turn Zero back but not Nina. Zero doesn’t except this and wants Nina turned back too because he made a decision to protect her, etc. Kuku is sad that she has always truly loved him not because of the promise or because she is his fiancée. But yet sees Nina more important. Since nobody understands her feelings, she doesn’t care anymore and turns the entire school into animals. Not even Ichii can calm her down. But Toto can. He tells her he has always been watching her despite she is always chasing Zero. Then it’s like magic. She is overcome with emotions and switches sides! She feels bad of not noticing his feelings?! Wow. That was fast. She’s been eyeing Zero all this time and it took a little talk (which isn’t that sweet if you think about it) just to make her switch camp? Oh well, at least everybody reverted back to normal. In the aftermath, Kuku apologizes to Nina for everything. They will be returning to cancel their participation in the test since they aren’t interested in the first place. Kuku is more interested in nurturing in their new love. A head start is always good. Kuku hints to Nina that she and Zero look cute as a couple and be sure to invite them to their wedding. Nina blushes and Zero bugs her over the girls’ secret. She’s not telling it but she did hint to us that she doesn’t dismiss such possibility. Hmm…

Episode 10
Ichii gets another message from Sarasa. Oh no. Brings nostalgia to Zero and Ichii. Brings worries to Nina. So who is this Sarasa girl? Since it’s no use hiding it from Nina, Ichii mentions Sarasa is the person he used to like. And now it’s time to tell them about the sorcery test and the first time they met. Zero first met Ichii after seeing him take out a few street thugs. Amazed Zero challenged him and although lost, he is certain of his strength and is determined to make him his partner. When Ichii returns home, he is not thrilled to see Jeff at the door for he is trying to get close with Sarasa. Ichii believes Jeff is not serious in Sarasa but of course she insists otherwise. Ichii and Sarasa may be siblings but they are not blood related. He wants to be her only man. All the more reason why Ichii opposes Sarasa and Jeff’s marriage. So as not to make her sad, he reluctantly attends their engagement party. That is where Zero pops up again to bug him about becoming his partner. Sarasa knows Zero too. Why? Because Zero is Jeff’s younger brother. Ichii tries to ignore him as Zero continues to pester him about this sorcery test he wants to take, thus looking for a partner. Because all Ichii wants is to be by Sarasa’s side and protect her, that dream is no longer possible. In that case he is going to make use of Zero. First he tells Zero to get a large sum of money and then he’ll ‘agree’ to be his partner. Next day, Ichii is surprised Zero turns up with the cash but late. Seems he had to find someone and sell his favourite and treasured skateboard. Isn’t his family rich? Sure, but they aren’t going to give him more allowance so he took desperate measures. Ichii takes the cash and not a word of thanks. Zero wants to start practising sorcery but Ichii gives excuses. Zero reserves tomorrow morning to meet up. He didn’t answer. And it had to rain heavily when that time comes. Ichii doesn’t believe anybody will be out in that rain. Oh, you don’t know. Zero is patiently waiting there with that silly anticipating smile on his face.

The thought Zero might have come bugs Ichii so he rushes out to check. At first he is relieved Zero lied about coming till he sees his collapsed body nearby. Ichii brings him back to his home as Zero recuperates from the mild cold. Jeff talks to him that Sarasa is very worried about him. Ichii mentions he can’t trust anyone except Sarasa but Jeff notes if he continues to reject others, Sarasa’s worries will never end. He is relieved now because he saved Zero just like that and it is a symbol of strength. When Zero wakes up, he is sorry he fell ill and couldn’t practice magic with him. However Ichii blows his top that he was only using him, never had the intention of seeing him or return the money and hates him. On the way home, Sarasa tells Ichii that she decides to call off her wedding to Jeff because it’s not right for her to be happy if he isn’t. She hasn’t told Jeff yet but eventually will. The street thugs spot them and move in. Ichii gets his magic sealed with some magic handcuff while the thugs kidnap Sarasa. But Zero arrives in time to take them on while Sarasa goes to get Jeff’s help. The thugs call their big boss to fight Zero’s magic. Despite Zero being much weaker, he won’t give up. He won’t abandon Ichii either. He will become a sorcerer no matter what. Ichii reflects of Jeff and Zero’s words. He wants to be strong and protect others. Using his brute strength, he breaks free of his handcuffs and joins Zero in battle. They combine their magic to absorb the big boss’ magic and blast them away into the sky. Ichii now accepts Sarasa and Jeff’s union. He wants her to be happy. Her happiness is his happiness. Ichii officially accepts Zero as his partner and from now on he will pursue his dreams with him. He is no longer alone. Nina now understands why they are so close and trust each other so much. That’s why they make the best pair.

Episode 11
Christmas is around the corner. You know what that means. But first, Nina would like to give those guys presents. She’s already having a hard time thinking what suits them and her friends don’t help as they bug her about her plan to spend Christmas Eve with which guy. Yeah, they’re really so interested on this. So much so Nina starts fantasizing the guys are fighting over her! Back in her room, she overheard Ichii talking to Zero that they want to give Nina a final present. Because the sorcery test will be held on Christmas and after that they won’t have any reason to protect her anymore as they will go home. Time just zipped past them, eh? This makes Nina worry because she took for granted they will always be here protecting her. Wait a minute. Wasn’t she upset about swallowing Crystal Pearl and complaining she had to wait until Christmas to get it all over with? Now she’s talking like she’s missing them? Oh sure. Make a wish that the sorcery test doesn’t exist. Make a wish that Christmas doesn’t exist. How selfish can she get? She continues to put up a tantrum, joining her friends instead of the guys. In turn her friends are really annoyed she is not with them. Because they’re always together, right? Unlike Zero, Ichii has a gist of what Nina is feeling. She may not want to be around them since she is a normal them. Their part to protect her was their selfish reasoning and they dragged her into this whole mess. They just have to stick around for a week and then there will be no need to be around her anymore. So after Nina parts with her friends, the duo meet up with Nina. They will still protect her but want to get her a farewell gift. They’re kind enough to offer it and she is still putting up that emo attitude that she doesn’t want anything?

That night, she’s still bothered by it that she’s talking to herself how sad she’ll be without them. Zura heard her and if that is how she feels, he can go back to the magic world and get a memory erasing spell if she wants. All the times spent with them from the day they first met will be gone. Everything. The choice is hers. Nina and the guys go around town. They see San happily going to give a dress to you-know-who, Forte eagerly trying to make a cake and Rokka wanting to give her drawing to Ichii. Although it sucks, at least she put her heart and soul into this ‘masterpiece’. It’s the feeling that counts, right? Nina girl, you feel bad now? She starts thinking back at all the things they have done together. All the trusting words they’ve said. She remembered asking Zura to erase her memories because it’ll be painful just to remember them. Zura will take the lollipop once they return since it is an item filled with memories. But now she changes her mind. She doesn’t want to forget. Sure, it’s painful being lonely without them but it will be more painful not remembering them. Wow. She just turned full blown emo and over-the-top dramatic girl. She’s breaking down hoping the guys will remember her after they return home after the test. Although she feels the time to part is near, she hopes it won’t be permanent as she hopes to see them again. So thanks for the memories. Thanks for everything. Getting sentimental now, isn’t she? Suddenly there is this hooded girl before them Riru. She wants to help Nina.

Episode 12
Riru and her nagging crow, Ruby are from the sorcery headquarters and are here to bring a medicine that will take out Crystal Pearl. Since Nina is in a dilemma to drink it, Forte steals it and in exchange for this potion, they must hand over Crystal Pearl. I thought this is a little no-brainer. Doesn’t she need to drink it for Crystal Pearl to be released? For argument’s sake, say there is a way to extract it without drinking, would this exchange be futile? Rokka is adamant to get the potion back because it means no Crystal Pearl in Nina means Ichii doesn’t have to protect her means he will be all hers. So as both sides fight, Ichii announces he doesn’t need it. Eh? What? Because they’ve decided to protect Nina till the end. Yeah, a few more days left. What difference does it make? Ruby warns that as the deadline draws near, fiercer examinees will target her. They don’t care. Then come Christmas Eve. The last day Nina will get to be with the guys and it’s bugging her. Rokka tries to force Nina to drink it but Gou takes her back for naptime. Rokka blames Nina for not understanding that she is a burden to Ichii and she would be easier to protect by drinking this. Oh no. Not this guilty expression again. Thankfully Ichii assures her the usual. Later Riru protects Nina from ice attacks. Nina could feel that the magic attacks are from stronger opponents. She wonders how Riru knows about the attack. Her ability is to see the future and she saw Nina drink the medicine. She shows her a piece of it. Now you believe? Oh, one more thing, Riru also saw everyone failing this test and this will be the last time Nina will see Zero and Ichii. Oh God… Not that depressing state again…

Nina gets attacked again. This time her lollipop protects her. We got 3 pairs of powerful examinees trying to take out Nina but I wonder what happened to one of the pair because the pair of jungle boy and his unicorn lion (whatever this creature is) and a pair of ice ladies give all they got so much so Zero and Ichii are at their limits and are forced to retreat. Nina’s safety is utmost important. In a safe place, Ichii thinks Nina is better off drinking the medicine but Zero cannot accept this. Ichii is rational to think they cannot withstand the combined might of others. What if 6 or 8 people attack them simultaneously? Can you understand? It’s their only way to protect her. I suppose Zero still can’t comprehend presumably he thinks it’s the only reason linking to why they are protecting her. Nina then says she won’t drink it because she doesn’t want to be separated. Stay by her side till the test is over. If that is what she has decided, so be it. The attacks resume and they continue to run. Yakumo and Nanase return from their training to help out but there is little those jokers can do. Zero takes in all the attack on his body when Ichii is held up. San, Forte, Gou and Rokka return to help protect Nina. However Nina can’t bear to see Zero and Ichii suffer anymore or put them in any further danger. She drinks the medicine and hopes they will pass the test. Thanks for the fun memories. She loves them a lot. Bye. Although Crystal Pearl is removed from her body, it starts acting strange.

Episode 13
When the examinees try to take the Crystal Pearl for their own, they get zapped. Then it turns into Black Pearl and causes everyone in school to be unconscious. Will couldn’t have been timelier entering the scene to explain. This is what I understand, because it has been inside a human’s body for so long, something awful has happened. The Crystal Pearl needs to absorb magic and grows along with the sorcerer. Since this one had no magic to absorb and was ejected while it was still incomplete, it started growing on its own. That is by absorbing life force from others. Eventually it will grow to absorb life from all creatures on Earth. No prizes for guessing what happens. The Black Pearl continues to zap the rest of the gang and this causes more distress for Nina who can’t bear to see anymore of her friends suffering. Ichii then puts Nina in a protective bubble. The guys act tough by telling her mean things that since Crystal Pearl is no longer within her, she has nothing to do with them anymore. There is no need for her to have them. They’re going to fight Black Pearl but she’ll only get in the way. Goodbye. Nina is transported back to her room whereby she turns into full blown emotional girl crying she doesn’t want things to end like this. Then there is Riru and as usual she speaks about her future but also hints it could mean it can be changed depending on the actions taken by an outsider. So Nina is going back there because she believes in them all and wants to be together. And she did just that while Zero and Ichii are having a tough time. It’s funny that the attacks stop so that they can hug and have a nice reunion. The guys are still trying to act tough but Nina gives her emo speech of wanting to be with everyone because they are all her precious friends. Zero and Ichii agree with her. They really do want to be with her and their times spent together have made their bonds stronger. It has made them stronger than before.

Now that the dramatic speech is finish, can we get back to attacking? And so everyone unleash their greatest power with Nina thinking back how much she wants to protect her parents as they guided and love her through life. Nina’s heartfelt speech also affected the rest because now they chip in to help not because they want Crystal Pearl but because they have something more important. In dramatic fashion, Black Pearl is defeated and turns back into Crystal Pearl. I don’t know about this angelic moment as Nina accepts the warm little pearl back into her hands. Will praises her desire to protect what is precious without distinction of friends and foes is what created the true magic. Of course he passes all of them too. And since now it’s time to part, I’m sure Nina has another long emotional speech to tell after congratulating them. Emotional enough for her to tell them that they have been her ideal guys. Her prince. When the clock is about to strike midnight, signalling the end of the exam, Will mentions they need to take a makeup test. Because the Crystal Pearl has turned into a mini dragon familiar and is under Nina’s care (because technically she was the one who ‘saved’ it) all of them will have to help her nurture it. They have one year till Christmas Eve next year to do it. This means they can be together again for another year! Yahoo! Oh Nina. This has got to be the best Christmas gift ever. Then when all her friends regain consciousness, the first thing they ask Nina is who she chose. She can’t decide but is very happy since both her princes will still be here next year. Why can’t she just pick both of them?

Bittersweet Candy
Oh, it already ended and everybody finally gets to be together for real?! Oh brother. Thank goodness it ended like that because I don’t know how much more I can take it if they start spamming that I-want-to-be-with-you drama act. Yeah, yeah. I get it. I understand that. Stop repeating it like a broken tape recorder. So despite the happy ending that also somewhat feels abrupt, I was somewhat relieved because I don’t have to hear Nina and the guys complaining that they cannot be together once the exam is over. My guess is that Will is also ‘fed up’ of hearing this and thus this perfect Christmas gift to shut them up. Hah. I know I’m being mean but seriously, I really felt they spammed this together-with-you thingy that it even affected their other sorcerer friends. Good riddance. Now look forward to next year!

Because of that, I am left feeling the plot is a little silly overall. It feels like a big excuse that Crystal Pearl becomes the sole reason why Zero and Ichii decide to protect Nina. I mean, I thought it would have been much better if they just come clean and say that they want to be by her side purely for that reason instead of using this exam excuse. And of course as they keep reusing and reminding us about this, slowly it becomes one that is based on their feelings. I know this is a shoujo genre but the more episodes go by, the more I feel Nina is starting to become somewhat annoying. Because I remember clearly she hated this stuck-with-you-till-Christmas predicament. I don’t know when she started realizing she really doesn’t want to part with them and turned into some emo girl. Now she really hates the idea of being separated from being them and gets too emo just about thinking about separation as D-Day nears. I don’t know. Would it been better if she just says that she loves them instead of I-want-to-be-by-your-side-forever excuse? Then she could put a stop to her friends bugging her about which one she would choose. Heck. Choose both. This is your show. A reverse harem. So why not go for both?

Zero and Ichii are rather okay as protagonists. They’re cool as a duo and inseparable as a team. They’re loyal and keep their word. But again, just like Nina, it just feels like they’re using Crystal Pearl excuse to protect her. They have their differences but they know what is most important when it comes down to it. It’s fun to see a variety of fun quirky characters although most of them are not what they seem in terms of appearance. We got Nanase who looks like a girl but is actually a boy and then a reverse for Kuku’s case. Forte is half of the time being put on girls clothes thanks to San who hides her sadness behind that eternal smile. Then we’ve got Rokka who is actually a kid instead of a busty grown up and who knew Ichii had such a terrible side prior to all this. You know what they say about looks can be deceiving. Such supporting casts add colour to the main trio and like Forte and San who have their own flashback episode is cool. Too bad they feel sidelined once the series reaches its end.

Because I thought some of them are really amusing like Yakumo who has no qualms in proclaiming his love for Nina but this makes Nina panic. I guess he wasn’t that handsome. Then there is Rokka who could win the most annoying girl award but in the amusing sense. Just look at the way she whines and complains. I don’t know if that is cute or annoying. Or both. Don’t forget her ever loyal butler Gou who lacks emotion and the seemingly carefree San who is like friend-cum-rival to Nina at her convenience. Zura is supposed to be the mascot I believe but it doesn’t do much. Really. Heck, better than Aquamarine. I don’t know what Riru’s role is. Sure, she’s here to give the medicine. Hey, anybody could come and give the medicine, right? But then her so called accurate future readings feel like just to throw us off and add some drama and already emotionally unstable Nina. So her first inaccurate prediction? Hatsuka and You’s role in this anime seems to bug Nina about which of the guys she will choose. Have they got no life? I think so. Because it’s much more fun watching it happen to others than yourself.

Having said all that, the romance department personally I feel it is somewhat weak too. We have an idea of who loves who but in the end, it still lacks that important something that you would at least consider this a romance genre when you think about this show. Is it because Zero, Ichii and Nina never really said those 3 magical words or even hint about it? Even if they seemingly do, it felt like a teaser and those expecting it might be sorely frustrated. Because there are so many close moments between Nina and/or Ichii and/or Zero. Like the one Nina and Zero are together alone in the infirmary bed. I suppose it is to make our hearts beat but in the end, nothing conclusive. You see Nina and Zero argue so many times with their clashing personalities that you might think it’s going to be them but not really either. You’ll be left wondering either Nina x Zero or Nina x Ichii. To be safe and avoid the wrath from either camp, I suppose a neutral ground is taken. Nobody ends up with nobody. This means Rokka will still continue to fawn over Ichii (despite in the final fight scene she did mention she doesn’t mind him not choosing her as long as she can protect him – will she be fine with this?) and I wonder what happened about the romance between Gou and Hatsuka? So the only true blue love that blossom was Kuku and Toto. Minor characters that nobody cares about. Oh wait. Jeff and Sarasa too. But you probably didn’t care about them either.

There are a number of things that keep bugging me and thus having the potential of me writing up an article worthy to be contributed to 10 things wrong with (insert name of movie or show here). I’m not going to list all of them and mainly the most mind boggling ones. Firstly it is about the Crystal Pearl that Nina swallowed. She swallowed through her mouth, right? I know this is disgusting but think about it. Shouldn’t it ‘come out’ after she goes to toilet and even so that will be at least a few days later, right? So where the hell is this Crystal Pearl sitting in her body anyway? It’s not like it is digestible, right? So why can’t she sh*t it out in the first place? Disgusting for me to say that and for you or her to even think about it but seriously, didn’t anybody think of this instead of going through some long process of making a medicine. Heck, even invasive surgery seems faster.

Then there is this question of Zero and Ichii’s goal. We know they are taking this sorcery test for whatever reason of theirs. So it bugs me that they vow to protect Nina till the end of the test. I know they are nice guys who don’t go back on their words but if you think about it, shouldn’t they have finished this test early by bringing Nina back to the magic world and present her to the examiners? I mean, technically Crystal Pearl is in her so why not bring her back and just end this stint so that nobody can target her as the exam is over. And then they don’t have to stick by her side 24/7 in which isn’t the case because Nina loves running off by herself half the time and that’s where trouble comes looking for her. In case if the rules say just bring back the Crystal Pearl and not the girl, why not call off the exam then? Because if that is the case, nobody can touch Nina till it is extracted from her, right? Unless they really want to open her up… Wouldn’t it be dangerous to harm an innocent mortal? I’m sure there’s a set of rules and etiquettes of this sort magicians have to follow. Thus it got me thinking that protecting Nina is just a weak excuse of wanting to be by her side as long as they can. Because they’re also painting it as though it’s the end of everything once the test is over. They’ll never see her again. Heck, so is the Crystal Pearl the only reason why they’re with her? I am not sure if people from the magic world cannot come down to Earth in other times but let’s say this isn’t so, can’t they just continue to be with her just because they want to? If you want to stay, just stay! You don’t need some Crystal Pearl as a lame excuse to be by her side in which is causing a lot of distress for her too.

See one little ball can cause so many problems, lead into so many problems and so many questionable questions. Because the next complain is about the effects of it. In the sense that do the examiners know the effect of leaving it too long inside a normal human’s body? Because when Will explained it, it felt like as though he knew a lot about it although there was this ‘disclaimer’ he said that he doesn’t know the full details. Well, sounds pretty detailed to me if he manages to explain about Black Pearl absorbing life from others because it didn’t absorb magic from sorcerers. Fair enough that this probably never happened before and thus some time to take the medicine. But didn’t they know it would cause some sort of Armageddon? Shouldn’t the test be cancelled and they concentrate on removing Crystal Pearl from Nina right away instead of waiting for last minute? And in which, it wouldn’t have happened if desperate Nina didn’t drink the medicine. Hah! The thing that was supposed to solve her problem becomes the biggest culprit itself. So what the heck is this sh*t?! And then the Black Pearl suddenly having a voice of its own and sounding like a villain with an evil booming voice?! WTF?!

My next grouse is the number of examinees taking this test. Where the hell are the rest of them? I know, we saw how Zero and Ichii fend off a train of seemingly unconvincing examinees at the beginning but that can’t be all of them, right? And between the episodes, where the heck are the rest of them? Don’t give me that crap that they are trying to find Crystal Pearl. I don’t know if they have any device to track it but as seen by some of the characters, they do have devices to detect it. So where are they? And for most of the episodes, it is the usual competitors of San and Forte, followed by Gou and Rokka before Yakumo and Nanase coming in late. Then when it is near the Christmas deadline, suddenly pops up a couple of examinee pairs. So where the heck were they all this while? If they are more powerful than Zero and Ichii, don’t you think they could have just easily swooped down and get Nina from the start? And it feels that the producers got lazy in naming them because if you noticed that the main and supporting characters are named after numbers. So after Kuku and Toto, those final examinees are named like Eleven, Twelve, Fifteen, Sixteen… So uninspiring. Yeah, like we care about them in the first place.

As I won’t consider this anime to be old school since it is released in the mid-2000s, I believe anime art styles have come a long way so in a way this feels dated and ‘from that era’. The kind of style you would see similar in Gakuen Alice, Kirarin Revolution and Full Moon Wo Sagashite. Because guys like Zero and Ichii who are considered handsome back then just feels normal. And cute girls like Nina are like your typical sparkly wide eyes girls of the shoujo genre. Well, even the CG effects when Zero and Ichii cast their magic seem dated that it feels lame. In turn, the action feels like it isn’t up to standard because you don’t get more than just Zero throwing his fireballs, Ichii putting up his defensive barrier and a combo of them combing their powers. There is also hardly any variety in magic from the other supporting characters because mostly you’ll see them use the same magic like San’s animal familiars, Forte’s hypnotizing magic and Nanase’s cursed cards. Hardly anything compared to these days. Yeah. We’re so demanding now. The opening theme, Poppin Heart Wa Hitotsu Dake by Clover sounds lively and cute. The ending theme, Kyun Kyun Panic is also another cute piece sung by MOSAIC.WAV. If you’re familiar with the cute way this group sings like in the opening theme for Potemayo, you’d be familiar with their style here.

This series isn’t that bad despite me getting a little exaggerated on the imperfect stuffs like the things that don’t add up if you think about it and Nina’s emo character towards the end. This might not be one of the best shoujo genre animes of its time or even now but with a little mix of comedy and action, this isn’t really a hard pill to swallow. Maybe just 10 spoons full of sugar to help the medicine go down. Oops. Wrong show. At least this show makes me a little cautious in watching what I eat. Because now I won’t just simply gulp down anything whole in my spoon without seeing what’s in it. I know it will be a tad troublesome and gay if a couple of guys promise they would protect me till the ends of the earth. But it would be an entirely different story if they were pretty girls instead ;p. Better still, protect and fight over me like in a true blue harem genre. Oh wow. What should I ever do? Wait. That can’t be good. Girls fiercely fighting over a guy won’t end well. It’s like Armageddon itself and no amount of lollipop could save me.

Shinryaku!! Ika Musume OVA 3

February 13, 2015

OMG! I didn’t know they tried again! Actually I did. Or didn’t. What I meant was I didn’t expect Shinryaku!! Ika Musume OVA to have another volume way back last year in 2014 and even when it did come out, nobody was subbing it and I thought this series was done for. And surprisingly much later some group subbed this and thus I jumped at the chance of watching this third OVA instalment. So it is back to nostalgia memory lane for me and a certain ‘obsession’ with this invader squid girl. Ah yes. Ika girl. You came to show us your failure again, right? Please go ahead. I’ll always be watching with glee.

Part A: Won’t You Help?
With Nagisa and Ayumi off, Chizuru hires a new ‘powerful’ helper since she herself will be off for today. That powerful guy? It’s Owner! So much so Gorou who is always here for Chizuru’s cooking quickly goes away when he learns his beloved isn’t around. But wait. Don’t judge a book by its cover yet. Owner cooks up a pretty wonderful friend shrimp rice. Looks good. When he tastes it, he couldn’t stop eating! He is only lying to himself he needs to finish it because he is so hungry and it is not like Chizuru’s rice would lose to this. Liar. Owner’s cooking attracts more customers till the place is full but there is a seat directly in front of him that customers do not want to occupy. It’s because there is this hideous Ika robot doing the cooking! Who the hell is this clone?! Trying to distract the customers from looking at it, Ika tries to press the remote and switch on the TV. Clone Ika explodes! Now why on earth is there a self destruct button or a function like that?! Well, if there were too many remotes for anything, they’ll start losing the remotes! But the explosion has scared the customers away. Time to go run some errands and gullible Ika is made to do it with a paltry 100 Yen. Look how happy she is… Along the way, she is attacked by stray dogs but saved by yet another hideous Ika clone. More stray dogs surround them as Ika clone goes to subdue the pack. In the end, Owner presses his remote to let the robot explode to send the dogs running away. Do all the robots have this kind of self destruct function? Yeah. It is exactly for situations like these.

Part B: Won’t You Be Found?
This is a surprise. Ika is willing to head to Sanae’s house by her own will! Something is dead wrong. I know Kiyomi is waxing lyrical how good Sanae is but it’s amazing that Ika would even think good of this squid obsessed pervert. And of course we see Sanae’s evil thoughts. Her plan is to make Ika become good friends with Kiyomi. With Kiyomi visiting her often, it will be no time Ika will start doing the same on her own. Then she will hold back no more when Ika visits her alone. Muahaha! Oh yeah. But first, she needs to hide all her Ika goods as not to scare Kiyomi. Oh man. Look at all the Ika memorabilia. Just freaking scary to see everything made out of Ika’s image! Oh f*ck, man! And she can hide it all in her closet? So when Ika and Kiyomi come, her room seems pretty normal and they have fun doing normal things. Although Ika feels something is off (because Sanae is such a nice person), she accepts Kiyomi’s answer that she is not such a bad person. Maybe she isn’t so bad after all. Kiyomi realizes she left something behind and returns. Sanae is now letting loose her Ika obsession as she records down all the things she observed Ika today! Freaking sh*t, man! She can tell how many calories she ate and if there is change in her height! And those hidden cameras… Oh man… She is frolicking in glee with her Ika goods when Kiyomi returns… Oh God. This is the end of her. She foresees Kiyomi will hate her for being such an obsessed Ika fan. Fearing the worst, she tries playing it cool and admits all her Ika collection that she planned to show her (since the cat is out of the bag, why not just tell her everything). When she thought Kiyomi is at the height of her disgust, to her utmost surprise, she is super cool with everything. She is impressed with her and felt like this is the earnest part of her. She wants to see more and Sanae starts showing off this little ‘angel’ her other freaking Ika collection. There is a mini Ika car? I don’t even… When Sanae visits Lemon and brings some of the Ika collection to show Ika how much she is heavily loved (oh, she doesn’t know how deep that love is…), Ika is overcome with trauma and runs away. I guess it’s decided. Ika can never ever deal with Sanae.

Part C: Is That A Policewoman?
Are they introducing a new character? There is this policewoman, Keiko Furukawa at Lemon. Seems there are reports of a suspicious person. Hmm… Sanae… Cindy… The MIT Three Stooges… Yeah… Lots of suspicious people alright. But nobody could be more suspicious than Ika. Keiko is shocked to see Ika using her tentacles to serve people. Nagisa couldn’t be happier that the power of the state is here to arrest the menace. Eiko had to give excuse she is a cosplayer and warn Ika that she might be thrown into prison if she starts blabbing about her invasion plans. Yeah… Ironically it scares the little invader. Ika tries to act normal but here is her first blunder. As she serves Keiko, she accidentally sneezes black squid ink over her! Ika is about to be taken away when the 3 Stooges fool around with their laser beam that turns anything into jelly. Keiko goes after them. Seriously. Can she chase them in that uniform under the sweltering heat? Of course not. So much so she forgot who she was chasing in the first place. Or did the 3 Stooges do something to her? It is suggested she change into beach wear to blend in. Who knows she has those sexy curves and attracting all the stares of the guys. She sees a man bullying a kid and goes to stop him. He doesn’t believe she is a policewoman. She tries to show proof but her badge is in her uniform (something tells me her hands padding her chest and butt in search for her badge are just for fanservice). Here comes Ika to teach that guy a lesson with his tentacles. When Ika learns what a police badge can do, she gets an evil idea to ‘arrest as many people as she wants’. I think she’s getting the wrong idea. But that didn’t stop her from trying to snatch the badge from Keiko. However Keiko threatens to call for back up and this means Ika can be arrested for interfering with officer duties and thrown into prison for 3 years. You willing to risk that? Ika gives the badge back like a good squid. And that’s the end of it. And Ika is now claiming she is an ally of the police? Eiko and Nagisa are disheartened they’re both unreliable…

Still Trying To Win?
Hmm… Nothing much. Still the same episodic standalone filler feel. Ika and her random adventures with the rest of the characters that do not advance her invasion plot, which now feels like a distant bygone goal and memory. Sure, she still wants to invade and teach us humans a lesson but she could hardly get off the ground and fails even before it starts. I fear Ika might be losing its touch… Perhaps the reason why nobody wants to sub this series anymore. Because even though it doesn’t break any new ground, I too have this feeling that the enthusiasm within me isn’t as great as before. I know I said before that I love this formula of this series and would love to see more of it but I guess I’m only human. How things have changed. Not to say that this OVA sucks. I still enjoy it but not as much as before like how I really used to look forward to it. Besides, am I sensing some sort of trend here? Because they are releasing an OVA episode per year. Judging by this trend, there might be another OVA coming out between the middle and the end of next year (which is this year 2015 by the time of this blog). But nothing of that sort is confirmed yet at this moment. I am afraid I might not be as enthusiastic as before when it comes. Nevertheless let’s keep things positive and I hope if there would be one, this series will still get some love for old times’ sake and get subbed. So Ika, if you still want to remain relevant in our hearts for the many years to come, don’t just fail for the sake of failing and make us laugh. That has become old and boring. Fail in an epic unforgettable way that would even make us have no qualms of surrendering and bowing down to your feet without questions. And you don’t need to have a police badge when that happens.

Rail Wars

February 8, 2015

Did Mikoto Misaka end up in some brutal conflict and thus the somewhat sequel or spin-off called Rail Wars? Oh wait. That’s not right. It never happened. Actually Rail Wars is all about trains. At least its theme is supposed to be rail transport vehicle. Once again my assumption starts to work on its own. At first I thought with the theme of trains, there is going to be like different railway companies vying for customers with their cutthroat and ruthless competition pricing and wars. To the point of hiring thugs, mafia, gangsters and yakuza to sabotage each other. I mean, that is the reason why there is such a war on railways, right? Wrong. Had to think again. Nothing close. Although there are threats of terrorists and such on the national railways of Japan, this series chronicles a group of young trainees working in Japan’s national railways, in a parallel world where the entire railway networks are not privatized but nationalized by the governments, and how they keep the public and their passengers safe from any sort of disturbances.

There aren’t many train themed animes in the past so I guess what better way than to help ‘stimulate’ interest among current viewers with the grand and extensive railway networks of Japan. After all, the rail transport in Japan is one of the most busiest and sophisticated in the world. What more, it introduced to us the bullet train or also known as shinkansen and revolutionized the way we see and take trains. The only animes that I have heard (but not watched) using trains as its theme are Densha Otoko (technically this isn’t an anime but a TV serial and film based on the manga of the same name, but it was somewhat popular back in the mid-2000s), Miracle Train (where train lines are anthropomorphised as hot handsome bishonen… Ugh!) and Tetsuko No Tabi (based on a real life otaku whose dream is to visit every damn train station in Japan). So can this series do the trick and bring in the much needed interest to this department?

Episode 1
Naoto Takayama narrates how the government created a railway system that links the entire of Japan and thus it has become a dream for many to work in the national railway for a better life and tranquillity. He is one of those aspiring people as he first attends Japan National Railways Central Academy (JNRC) as a Student Railway OJT. To be a public safety crew, everyone is obligated to attend this training for a month. Hitomi Gonou is the head of the Tokyo Public Safety Riot Squad and will be their teacher. Takayama forms a group with Aoi Sakurai, Shou Iwaizumi and Haruka Koumi (who has got brains, beauty and boobs). Included in their training is gun practice because as railway public safety crew, they are allowed to possess an emergency handgun. Sakurai aces in this as she hits all her targets. Then there is the steam locomotive test whereby groups will have to power it up to at least 100kmph. Takayama and co at first can’t seem to get it moving and he realizes something about combustion efficiency. It isn’t about throwing as much coal into the furnace but throwing it into exact places. The final training will have them be on the actual site and the quartet are assigned to be at Tokyo station. Their old superior hopes they won’t give much trouble or do something stupid and their first ‘assignment’ is to trace some dog lost on a train. While Takayama helps Koumi find, she mentions that she joined this railway because she hoped to meet someone she admired. Scenes like this tend to ‘mess up’ on its own so Koumi falls onto him and they end up in a pretty ambiguous position. When the dog is found, they have to head back to the office as the old geezer is already complaining that they aren’t coming back. However along the way, they witness a pair of purse snatchers. They give chase but couldn’t make it as they boarded the train. Koumi has memorized the departure and arrival times of trains and even if they can get on the next train, they might not make it. Takayama remembers some special diagram and this Dr Yellow train which is some track inspection shinkansen train that is not available to public will allow to get them ahead. So they’re already there right before the thieves alight the train. Takayama tries some diplomacy but I guess it’s not going to work on those punks. He isn’t much of a fighter like Iwaizumi or Sakurai. Even Koumi got lucky slamming the kit in their faces. Despite the day is saved, the old geezer isn’t impressed and reported them to the higher ups for doing something reckless. I mean, what the f*ck is his problem? That was an emergency, right? But thankfully they are granted to become OJT and are welcomed to the Defence Four in Tokyo Railway Station.

Episode 2
Nana Iida is the crew leader for Defence Four. Hey wait. Doesn’t that make 5 of them? Gonou and her disposal squad dispatch to Yokohama after receiving a terrorist threat. Takayama is more than happy to play house sitting of staying put in the station because he loves the peaceful life and at most just drive trains. But this doesn’t sit well for Sakurai who is more of the action type. During the lunch break, Iwaizumi’s quick reflexes push Takayama away before a bomb in a locker explodes in his face. Looks like the terrorist threat is actually here and Yokohama is just a diversion. That bomb was just a warning and the terrorist demands 10 million yen if they want to know the location of the next one which is quite devastating. 10 million is nothing much because the station makes 30 million yen per day and they can’t just close the station or the traffic in Tokyo will be thrown into chaos. It is suggested that they will prepare the money since the safety of the passengers comes first. Takayama suggests finding the bomb before Gonou returns so Iida sets a deadline for him to do so otherwise they’ll hand the money over. So… 3000 lockers. Where to start? And when it seems like they have been searching forever, they just finished only 368! Sakurai believes the bomb isn’t in a locker. It’s in a place you’d probably never expect. When the lost and found department calls Koumi about that lost dog starting to bark nonstop 30 minutes ago (the same time the supposed owner called), Iwaizumi’s hunch believes the bomb is there. Sakurai puts her head close to the doggie carriage and hears the faint ticking sound. She can hear that amidst the barking? As the rest cordon the area off, Takayama helps Sakurai in dismantling the bomb. Her father taught her how to although this is her first real experience. She’s doing pretty fine and it’s awkward for Takayama who at one time have to put his arm through her cleavage to hold up some wires. And then after all that cutting or rewiring, Sakurai notes from here on it is the creator’s domain. So whatever wire they cut is like taking a big gamble? She cuts the wrong one and the time hastens. She has Takayama hold on to it while she goes to get some deep freeze sprayer (liquid nitrogen it seems) from the kitchen (they have it there?!) to freeze the hell out of the bomb’s circuit board. 5 seconds it stopped at. Oh sh*t. I didn’t know such method could work! The director meets the terrorist. Before he can hand the money, Gonou’s men surprise and overpower him. She will take him in for questioning. Sakurai is so relieved that she collapses into Takayama’s arms and wants to stay like this for a little while. Is this some sort of reward? Later Takayama is surprised Iida appoints him as a substitute crew leader. Surprised?

Episode 3
Mari Sasshou is Takayama’s friend and she’s joining OJT from next week. She has a very keen sense of hearing too and loves the sounds of trains. I think this must be Takayama’s typical day. Seeing Sakurai bust some delinquent and a foreigner speaking him totally in English. He freezes like that bomb and only with Koumi’s proficiency in the language helping things out. Sasshou is working at the dining facility of the railway station and she gets to know his colleagues. While Takayama works on his computer, Koumi helps out but the cramp space means he got her boobs covered in his face. Faceboobs, literally. How can he see a thing like that? He gets several distress calls from Sasshou. Seems her friend Kaori went missing last night as she didn’t answer her numerous calls. She knows she was out recording sounds of trains but which station she doesn’t know. So I guess the best way to start is to look into all the reports that were reported last night in Tokyo area. Oh boy. That is one heck of stacks of reports. Time to sift through it one by one… I don’t know, Koumi feels like a robot the way she looks through each page so fast… When Sasshou heard a unique handphone ringtone sound that belongs to Kaori in the lost and found department, it is said that a child picked up but not sure where it was picked up from. Examining her phone contents and the last recorded sound, it seems Kaori got into a struggle with somebody before being abruptly cut off. Okay, now what? Sasshou puts on her headphones and thoroughly listens to the sounds. From the wheel screeches to the environmental sounds, she could guess where that place is. It is a station that is facing a canal as she heard waves hitting the quay. Also, she heard braking sounds which means they are doing brake tests and such tests are only done at reversing station. Only this station fits those descriptions. They search the place since they believe the kidnappers won’t go far after kidnapping a girl. Thyey find her tied up in a warehouse. As they untie her, the kidnappers are not happy they have been found out. Clashing time. I don’t know how Takayama is going to fight back but safe to say all ends well because those illegal drug dealers got arrested and it is revealed Kaori happened to be at the wrong place when the illegal exchange happened. Kaori is discharged from hospital and doing fine. Sasshou is grateful for Takayama and salutes to how cool he is.

Episode 4
Defence Four will be protecting Noa Kashima at a seaside concert which is also the opening of the national railway event there. Who is she? An idol. Thanks to her, the image of the national railways is improving. Upon arrival, an ‘ugly’ otaku fan wants to give her an equally ‘ugly’ doll. Her manager will take it on her behalf but he shoves her away causing her to bump into Takayama and his face got sandwiched between Noa and the manager’s boobs. In the changing room, Noa thought it would be safe to change since he is unconscious. As long as she thinks he is. Iida heard them talking about continuing with the concert despite some threat. Turns out some fan sent a death threat letter that this will be her last concert but Noa is adamant to carry on so as not to disappoint her fans. As Noa inspects the stage, suddenly the confetti turns into fire. Turns out to be flash paper. Although if burnt, it will completely burn away but safe enough not to burn you. This might be the perpetrator’s warning. Even so, Noa won’t cancel the concert. I guess Takayama was so concerned that he keeps following and bugging her about it that he didn’t realize he entered the women’s bath section. And he got a slap on his face when he accidentally picked up her panties. Did he just realize all that he has done? Noa feels better when she takes a bath and sings one of her songs. Noa performs like a pro on the actual concert day and also talks to Iida as part of the show’s programme about the national railways (it is their event anyway). Takayama realizes a concert crew is acting strangely and it dawned to him that the only ones who could set such confetti as threat would be a staff member. He is quick enough to jump on stage to protect Noa. So as not to panic the crowd, Iida quickly improvises that this is a big show and Noa plays along. The crowd just loves it. The perpetrator gets mad and takes out his knife to stab Takayama! The ladies are horrified as Sakurai takes down the culprit. Thankfully his vest is thick enough but he is saved thanks to the stamp note that Noa gave him earlier on. The crisis is averted and the crowd never suspected any real danger in the first place. Although Takayama laments his stamp note is ruined, he grateful it saved his life and thanks Noa, causing her to blush. On the way home, she can’t stop thinking about him and likes him for giving his all for others.

Episode 5
WTF scene: Takayama has built miniature tracks around his room. Why does it have to be at chest level? Because when Sakurai comes in, her boobs literally becomes the stopper that blocks and ultimate derails the train! WTF???!!! I think because of that, Sakurai forces Takayama to practice with her and she’s using every excuse to get tough with him, showing no mercy. Tsk, tsk. When Iida mentions that the Tokyo bomber had an accomplice, Sakurai jumps the gun and thinks she can get into some action. However Iida says this will be left under Gonou’s care and the rest can continue their peaceful patrol around the station. This sucks, right? Not for peace lover boy Takayama. And then this happened. Sakurai spots that bomber entering the station and drags Takayama into tailing this guy board a train. She is pretty adamant to arrest this guy despite Takayama keep reminding her it isn’t really their job. Heck, she is even thinking of using her gun. Takayama calls Iida to report about this but she is confident that he will make the right decision. Read: I don’t know, it’s your responsibility! Haha! So they’re trailing him in some train line till dark till a careless moment (when the train brakes) gave them away. The suspect flees by foot and Sakurai doesn’t hesitate to give chase. Apparently he is much a better fleer than the duo. She continues to chase but eventually loses him as Takayama tries to contact the local station authorities (I guess this place is so deep in the mountains, he can’t call back to base with his handphone. No signal). Sakurai is lost and stranded on some railway and she’s complaining about Takayama. Why didn’t she come after her? That sounded like a hidden meaning there. Then here he is, picking her up on some cargo line whatever.

So they take refuge at the station for the night since her clothes are partially drenched too. Next morning, feels like another WTF moment. When Sakurai wakes up and exits the hut, she sees the suspect across! It’s like they stopped their chase for the night and resume it next morning. Finally he drops the bag that contains a bomb on the tracks. Sakurai dives away in time but her arm is slightly injured from the explosion. The track is damaged and a train is coming. Sakura still wants to go after him but Takayama reminds her about their job. They need to warn the train. There are electric fences around as safety from falling rocks. If they cut it, the device will go off and send warning to the train. Sakurai for once will put her gun skills to good use but she can’t aim straight since her arm is injured. She uses his body to lean on and manages to shoot it. The train approaches around the corner. Can it stop in time because the duo are in shock and can’t jump away. Yeah. It stops metres before them. And as ‘reward’ for this, Sakurai rests on him. In the aftermath, the suspect is arrested by the local authorities. Takayama and Sakurai apologize to Iida for the incident. Iida gently reminds them that they are not the police and that the customers’ safety comes first. Sakurai wants permission to whip this wimp into shape but Koumi disagrees Takayama is gentle and not gutless. Wow. Girls arguing over him…

Episode 6
Takayama and Sakurai are under house confinement. The former receives a threatening letter. He tries to call Sakurai but she didn’t pick so Koumi is his next best choice to meet up and discuss about this. I don’t know why they’re running here and there in town to find some safe place to discuss but Takayama pulling Koumi’s hand reminds her of something very similar in the past. Takayama believes this death note could have been from the accomplice of that accomplice. Yeah. Another accomplice. Worried that Sakurai is targeted too, Koumi calls her. At that exact moment, the wind blew her skirt up so she starts screaming. What does it sound like at the end of the other line? Uh huh. Worse, she drops her phone and their line is cut off. As the duo run around, Sakurai went to buy a new phone and spots them across. Their actions of holding hands seem to indicate (in her eyes) like they’re a couple. I guess Sakurai got jealous enough to whip out her gun and tries to shoot him! Thanks to that bumbling railway penguin mascot that bumped into her, she accidentally fires a shot! Missed Takayama! He thinks a sniper is out so they run faster. Meanwhile a police woman starts chasing Sakurai for some mischief. Koumi and Takayama climb over a fence and it’s cue for them to fumble, tumble and fall onto each other. Then a flowerpot almost drops on them. Are they really being targeted? Actually just a random cat passing by causing that. Koumi believes his handphone may be the reason why they are being tracked so she tells it to leave it behind. Suddenly, they are attacked by cats! Did the FBI trained assassin cats to attack them?! Actually when they climbed over the fence and landed on boxes, it contained cat food. I have a feeling it is the start of some strip poker for Koumi. From the time she first accidentally rip her skirt, she tosses away her coat to let the cats deal with it. Then outside the transportation museum, more cats attack and she throws away her pinafore before entering the building which suspiciously is unlocked. Like as though the culprit wanted to lure them here. This place is like haven for Takayama so he becomes the tour guide and shows her around the place. I don’t think she is interested in all that. Because she goes up close to him and asks if he remembers what happens 8 years, 3 months and 15 days ago. Wow. So precise. Care to be more precise down to the hour and minute too? This romantic moment is ruined when a couple of suited lucha libra dores guys spots them. The chase is on.

Meanwhile Sakurai got away from the pesky officer and follows the trail of Koumi’s clothes till she bumps into Iida and Gonou out shopping together. Gonou gets a call there is a security breach at the transportation museum. Sakurai is dying for some action. They see Koumi’s pinafore lying outside and the duo being chased inside. I don’t know how this happened. Seriously I don’t know how. Because the next thing we know, Koumi loses her entire top! She isn’t even in her bra!!!!!!!!! Takayama secures her in some storeroom while he faces on the masked duo. Can he? Thankfully Iida and Gonou handle them while Sakurai beats up Takayama as the ‘third criminal’. Koumi remembers when she was young, she was trapped in a similar place and was very scared in this pitch dark place. A certain familiar voice calmed her down and brought her out. When Koumi comes out of her hiding and hugs Takayama for saving her again, Sakurai couldn’t hold it in and won’t listen to excuses and starts beating him up, misunderstanding his intention of stripping Koumi. Yeah. How would believe assassin cats anyway? He shows her the threatening letter. It says his life will end today. Flipping the next page, it is just a friendly reminder by the national railway life insurance to get some protection. Doh! Why didn’t he turn the next page in the first place???!!! Or else we wouldn’t have had quite the great Koumi fanservice adventure, wouldn’t we? Takayama is still baffled about the sniper so Sakurai feigns ignorance. Can’t admit it, can’t she? Koumi remembers after she was rescued the first time, Takayama told her not to start hating railways because of something like this. She’s fine now, thank you.

Episode 7
Iida suggests the gang to attend some retraining. Sakurai believes she can get more action by doing so and hops in. As for Takayama, the bait is that he gets to drive some locomotive. What about Iwaizumi? Don’t worry. There’s plenty of good food. Count him in. Koumi? As long as she is with Takayama everyone, she’ll be fine. Tetsuya Narita will be their trainer and this one puts JNRC to shame. Sasshou is also here so Sakurai teases Takayama as a lucky guy. The best reply he ever made: “Aren’t you part of my harem, too?”. Thankfully she didn’t have her gun… Because Sakurai is persistent in wanting to train up Takayama, he tells her his goal is not to become a public safety crew but a driver. The girls can’t help feel disappointed in this. So he had to explain. When he was young and lost in the mountains, he could have starved to death if not for a train driver who spotted him and brought him to safety. It has been his dream ever since to become a train driver. Takayama’s dream of riding this old train comes true. Traversing through the hilly terrains, it seems Sakurai is somewhat ‘challenging’ him. As she is at the rear, she is increasing the speed and this is dangerous because Takayama can’t slam on the brakes as this will put pressure in the middle carriages and cause the train to derail. But he has no choice. It’s all or nothing. He slams all the brakes and the train derails. Thank goodness this was just a very realistic simulator. It’s no surprise he feels a bit depressed so Sasshou hangs out with him and gives him some encouragement. She believes the uniform looks good on him and is a little cooler now. She suggests for them to go relax in the city and the rest can tag along too. Next day before they depart, Takayama gets a call from Iida to do a little errand for her. All he needs to do is go to some abandoned chapel nearby and pick up someone. He goes off himself and is surprised to see Sakurai there. She’s dressed up in a very girly dress. The real problem starts now because here Koumi is. She is really getting emo about this betrayal! Oh, those tears are for real! She thinks he left the group to secretly come here to meet Sakurai! He lied to her! Eh?! What?! And then out from the confession room comes… NOA!!!!! She too wants an explanation because she believed it would just be the 2 of them and here he is with another couple of babes! Oh sh*t! How the hell is he going to explain this???!!! I didn’t realize this show was descending into a harem fight this fast!!!

Episode 8
How apt. A heavy thunderstorm. The standoff between them continues but Noa dominates. Idol ranks higher, right? Yeah. Nobody can tell her what to do as she gets real close to Takayama. I hope there isn’t any sexual subtext when she tells him that she wants to ride the train he drives. The tension cools down when Sasshou and Iwaizumi come by to give them hot drinks. The harem fight ends when Takayama receives a real distress call. An avalanche causes a certain part of the tracks to be buried and thus one of the trains running on that line is suspended. They are to guide the passengers to safety. Although they did a good job, there is a woman who insists the train continues its journey. Because she is on her way to donate an organ transplant and if she doesn’t reach there in time, it will all go to waste. Is there a way instead of waiting for restoration works that will eat up at least 4 hours as well as all other lines are suspended? Takayama knows an old route that the avalanche didn’t bury. They can use an equally old train to get there. Yeah. They have to pedal for the battery power. See how thick the manual is? Don’t worry, leave it to Koumi to read through it all. However the battery hasn’t been recharged for a long time so Sakurai and the old guys give it a push start while Iwaizumi provides some brute power and Takayama concentrates on driving it. It might seem slow travelling on this thing but believe me, it’s for the best and their safety. Because it is going to get real dangerous once they start descending the steep slope! Hold on to your horses! Now this is what you call an adrenaline pumping roller coaster ride. They’re going too fast and they risk derailment. The regenerative brakes take time to activate and thus the only way for them to take such curves at dangerous speed levels is to use their body weight to change the centre of gravity. Sakurai and Iwaizumi could become good yacht sailors and sidecar racers. Before they enter the old tracks, they pass by a station whereby all the railway workers stand in line giving them a great salute and much needed encouragement. You’d be wondering if you’re riding some horror ride show because it’s going to be a bumpy ride (the kind that causes them to go airborne!) with tree roots sticking out form the tunnel’s ceiling!

Episode 9
Now that they are descending again, this time they can’t use their body weight because the turns are inside the tunnels. No space! Iwaizumi gets reckless by kicking the wall to push the train back on track. The price to pay is a little strained foot. They reach part of the old tracks whereby this old train has some ABT system and cog wheels underneath that allow them to take the corners smoothly if precisely matched to the tracks. Along the way, Sakurai almost falls off but Takayama catches and pulls her back in time before her head slams into the tunnel wall. I guess they needed a little romantic scene of them hugging together… Once they exit the last of the tunnels, the ABT system breaks. At least it lasted this long. Rejoining on the new tracks, Takayama thinks it will be smooth sailing from now on. Well, there is a reason why you can’t rest so early or say things like that. The regenerative brake blows. The only brake left is the hand brake but due to the continuous on and off use, it is less effective. It should work better if it rests so Takayama wants to save it till the last moment when they reach the station. All that is left standing in their way are 2 curves and it will be slightly dangerous since they haven’t slowed down. Takayama wants Iwaizumi to handle the driving since he wants him to use his strength to use the brake. Sakurai and Takayama go to the body weight stuff while traversing the first curve. How does it feel to do it for the first time? It seems the first curve felt like practice because the second one is steeper. The duo can’t handle so Koumi in her first time too helps out. Iwaizumi makes it four! Hey! Who is driving then?! They succeed and when it is cue for Iwaizumi to pull the brake, he pulls it to hard that the lever breaks off! Oh sh*t! Don’t worry. He still has a way. He jumps back and uses his feet as braking mechanism. Don’t worry what happens to his feet (I hope he is wearing shoes with very thick souls), because the back portion of the train comes off! Holy sh*t! This train is really falling apart! The only way is to jump off. Takayama jumps off with Koumi first since she is protecting the organ box. Sakurai jumps off moments before the train hits a thick barrier and comes to a dead halt. After they hand over the organ box to the relevant authorities, Takayama thanks his mates and hopes they’ll be with him from now on. But of course. Despite their heroic efforts, they barely pass the retraining. Narita notes Takayama has a long way to go till he can be a driver. So come back here again and he’ll work him harder when that time comes. Sakurai declares she still wants to be part of the public safety crew and since Takayama will be a driver, she hints she will have to protect the train he is driving.

Episode 10
Defence Four is to escort-cum-protect a royalty going around to sister cities to conduct ceremonies via train, Prince Bernina. Seems Bernina is also knowledgeable and has interest in trains so you could say this kid clicks with Takayama. Bernina’s Japanese is good thanks to Koumi who taught him as they were once classmates studying in England. I don’t know why Koumi was so panicky in trying to tell Takayama that. It’s like she thought he might get the wrong idea of something. When the train is about to depart, Sakurai spots a suspicious person and goes after him instead of boarding the train. I suppose any guy in shades and suit is deemed suspicious. When Takayama realizes Bernina is not in his room, he realizes he may have been kidnapped. Turns out he was just going sightseeing on his own. And I don’t know why he was crawling around the kitchen because I suppose it’s a cue to accidentally flip up Sasshou’s skirt. Bernina must be having a blast running up and down while Takayama tries to keep up. Can’t a royalty have fun once in a while? So once things are settled, Takayama tells him about his driver dream while Bernina mentions he is fifth in line to the throne so there is no chance of becoming ruler unless something major happens. When you say something like that… And then he tells Takayama not to peep when he goes to bath. I can pretty guess much why. Takayama sees on the news that some of Bernina’s family members got involved in an accident in the Mediterranean and feels the need to tell him. He got the wrong room at first and stumbled upon Koumi bathing. When he got the right one, he heard Bernina collapsed and breaks down the door. Once the steam is cleared he is freaking surprised to learn Bernina is a girl! Why am I not surprised? He has to clean her body to avoid pneumonia or something. When she regains consciousness, she explains she fell into a daze after learning her family’s predicament (it is unusual in Japanese culture to bring handphones into their bathroom while bathing). Since Takayama saw her true body, don’t worry, she won’t ask him to take responsibility. She hopes to keep this a secret. This secret only the royal family knows and not even Koumi knows about it. While dining in the dining cart, a big bald suspicious guy comes in. With a taser. I know what is coming. Iwaizumi fights him but another guy comes. Takayama gets Bernina away and tries to hide her but that guy taser him. It’s pretty amazing he is still conscious after all that zapping. Thanks to Sakurai’s training? Bernina tries to protect him but is going to get zapped too when Sakurai comes in with her flying knee kick. How did she catch up? Some faster travelling train I suppose.

Episode 11
The persistent attacks continue. It ends when Iwaizumi taser out that guy since he had earlier dispose the other one. After tying them up, Takayama gets a call from Sakurai. Actually it is another of the terrorist using her handphone. He has Koumi as hostage and wants to make an exchange. Sakurai won’t negotiate but Takayama is very concerned for Koumi. They are warned not to try and find them or else the hostage will be deflowered. Takayama calls Iida for advice. Her usual answer: She is confident at the decisions he will make. I think she herself doesn’t know. Takayama and Sakurai’s argument over Koumi being able to defend herself could have escalated if Sasshou had not calmed things down. Takayama then comes up with a plan. He will impersonate the Bernina. While switching uniforms, Bernina suspects that the successors down the line may have hired thugs to take out the royalty. But all that doesn’t matter to Takayama because Bernina is his passenger and it is his job to protect and ensure they enjoy their travelling time. When the exchange is about to take place, Takayama sees Koumi tied up in the cockpit and rushes in. He gets a gun point in his face. The terrorist realize this is not the prince. Sakurai shoots the gun off his hand before Iwaizumi takes him out with the stick. Koumi collapses in emotional fashion in Takyama’s arms when he rescues her. But there is another baddie shooting in the front cockpit (there are 2 locomotives pulling the coaches). While Iwaizumi acts as the decoy, Sakurai shoots the fuse to let out steam. This blinds the terrorist as Sakurai kicks him unconscious. Now they need to stop the train but all braking attempts do not work. So many brakes and none of them are working? The only way left is to detach the locomotives from the coaches since their priority is the passengers’ safety. Takayama and Sakurai stay in the front locomotives to detach it. But before they could jump off, Sakurai mentions the fight with the terrorist has sprained her leg. Takayama won’t leave her alone and so there the duo go in the runaway train. I suppose this moment is necessary for some close up and romantic moments between them. What seemed like a confession coming from Sakurai, suddenly a train pulls up beside them. Gonou is riding this one and she is going to use this triple locomotive to stop theirs. Just brace for impact. Once the locomotives are dead in their tracks, Takayama carries Sakurai off like a princess. Hey, he is in a prince outfit, right? And he is like her prince, right? How befitting?

Episode 12
This episode chronicles Takayama and Iida’s trip from the north back to Tokyo after some duty. I guess it’s time for Iida to have some screen time with Iida. As they switch trains, Iida wakes him up and his face bumps into her boobs. They will be riding a very old train series that Takayama loves a lot. Of course it’s not going to be smooth sailing because Takayama heard a weird noise and feels the need to investigate it despite Iida advising that they should just leave it to the train’s staff as they are passengers today. Takayama talks to the driver-cum-captain but I guess his pride of years riding this baby tells this young kiddo off that he knows every inch of this train better than he is. Not satisfied, he calls Sasshou (right in the bath) in hopes she can decipher this sound. Through all that interference? Not really. Then he got his arm burnt for trying to remove some engine part while the train is running. From Koumi’s research, some heat absorbing fan belt may have worn out. Iida doesn’t think an amateur like him can replace it but he gets an idea. At least something flexible and stretchable. Like her panty hose. Yeah. It did the trick. Shorty, they notice that the air-conditioning isn’t working and the passengers are fanning themselves. Koumi’s research shows this old series is prone to breaking down on its service power control. The breaker for the air-conditioning is tripped. Each time they flip it, it breaks. Iida uses her chopsticks to hold the switch in place. However the air-conditioning isn’t restored and at this rate the train will turn into a giant sauna. I don’t know how but with Koumi’s research, they manage to fix it. Wow. They can be air-conditioning service repairman. It’s late at night by the time they arrive at Tokyo and for his hard work, Iida allows him to take the next day off to fully rest. I don’t think he can. Because outside of his house is Noa who makes him carry her shopping stuffs. And there’s Sasshou too. Oh no. I can foresee what is going to happen. Sakurai and Koumi waiting in his room… It’s going to be the start of Harem Wars! Iwaizumi in the corner is ignorable… And since everyone has got the day off tomorrow, Noa suggests to finally clear things up. Oh yeah. Definitely the start of Harem Wars! And it already has begun when Sakurai seemingly tries to make the first move! Oh, everyone toasts to Takayama the womanizer. And the possible sequel of Harem Wars! Just kidding. Maybe.

Almost Derailed And Went Off Track
After all that so called troubles on the train and stations, the lukewarm final episode somewhat gives this series an anti-climax feeling. There was nothing serious enough to be warranted as threatening because as long as resourceful Takayama is around (is he trying to be MacGyver in the last episode?), you can be sure he’ll find a way to resolve things. I mean, even Iida did mention that she was willing to sit through the inconvenience (a reminder of that ‘tidak apa’ attitude from where I come from) but as long as Takayama is around, he won’t have any of such inconveniences on his watch. Yeah well. Thanks for making the ride as comfortable as possible? Because of the way it ‘ended’, I always can’t help to think that the next sequel will be Takayama’s harem wars and this will be more interesting than all the terrorist thwarting and trouble foiling attempts they have done so far.

Character wise, I guess there is nothing to be said in the development department for our main quartet because you could feel that they are the same people from when they entered training, left it and when they start working in Defence Four. It feels like there is a lot more to be desired from. I don’t know if Takayama makes a good substitute leader because at very serious times, he tries to consult Iida who always leaves it to his discretion. Otherwise, small matters he is able to handle. So much so just as Iida quipped, some goddess of trouble keeps following him because if you notice wherever he goes, trouble is bound to follow whether big or small. Not only train troubles, but woman woes too! Haha! More on this part later. So is this a blessing in disguise or curse? Well, he can only get better by learning from experience.

Sakurai feels like the tough girl who can’t wait to get into the thick of the action (maybe she should have just joined the police force) and possibly leaning towards the tsundere type compared to the sweet and gentle nature of Koumi. Iwaizumi seems to be relegated to the strong muscle man of the group and the only other thing you’ll notice about him is his penchant of wanting to eat. I guess with all that hard work and labour, a good meal is a must, no? Then there is also the sweet and lovely Iida who at most of the time has that sweet smile stuck on her face and she doesn’t panic that much during tense situations. Is this calm demeanour something we all should follow or is it hinting like that ‘tidak apa’ attitude I said earlier on? I mean, Takayama is the substitute leader, right? If any sh*t happens, who takes the responsibility? Yup. But I don’t think Iida is such a person that will allow that to happen to him.

I have a feeling Sasshou should just be part of the Defence Four because it’s like wherever our team goes, there she will be as part of her training assignment. It is just strange to think about it, doesn’t it? Her role could have been expanded but as far as this season is concerned, it is already quite minimal and thus lacking impact (except for the episode that had her friend kidnapped). Lastly there is Noa. It is mind boggling that such a popular idol is seen hanging around Takayama and co lately and so casually. I know she is like the public face of the national railways and I am sure as an idol, she is sure to have her own legion of fans. And then hanging around Takayama and even hinting some sort of crush on him. What will her hardcore fans think? Therefore the only role I can think of she has in this anime is to be part Takayama’s harem, nothing else.

I have come to noticed that there are quite a handful of subtle fanservice scenes and moments. It won’t be outright obvious to make you go “Hah! Fanservice!”, but subtle and suggestive enough for some to take note. Notice how certain camera angles focus or close in on the boobs and especially the ladies’ butts? And even if you have them showing their ass, notice how curvaceous it is? Very hinting, right? And here we are not expecting any fanservice for this series and here they are in every episode. Okay, I admit. I enjoyed seeing those… Even the end card for every episode has a fanservice-y feel with different people sketching different illustrations.

And now for the romance and harem parts! Throughout the series, there are a handful of scenes hinting about the romance between Takayama and his harem girls. Like Sakurai has this penchant to use Takayama as her resting board after overcoming very difficult trials. Earlier episodes also hint Koumi may have a thing for him from the way she says things. Then they always talk about him with Sakurai being more the tsundere type compared to Koumi’s gentle nature. I didn’t really expect to see that harem standoff at the abandoned chapel so in a way it caught me by surprise and I started thinking the series was going to turn into a different direction, albeit whether it was for better or for worse I won’t know. But we know that Sakurai, Koumi, Sasshou and Noa are particularly in the ‘race’. I wanted to count Iida in but she has this poker face and it doesn’t feel that she harbours any sort of romantic feelings and it could be just because he is her junior under her wing. I wanted to consider Bernina too but after the sudden end of her arc, she is nowhere to be seen or heard (hah! That’s only 1 episode after her arc, right?). Sure, nobody knows about her true gender so I guess that is why they can add a seemingly trap to his harem. Then it would be interesting to know who ranks hire in a harem war: An idol or a royalty?

Although the action parts are just okay, it wasn’t the terrorist handling and chasing part that was interesting. In fact it was that train ride using the old train down the slopes that was the most interesting and exhilarating part. This is I suppose the biggest saving grace of the series. This is the best part of the entire series. This is what this show should have been mostly about but I guess if they are going to put this in every episode, it would have lost its magic touch. Seeing the quartet ride down the steep slopes and using all the resources they have is pretty exciting and heart stopping at certain moments. Certainly if I am going to remember this anime, it would be for this magnificent part that is nicely executed and well done.

As part of the train themed series, there are various points in which you can get some pretty good insights and knowledge on the trains or railways as per explained by Takayama and Koumi in the anime. But since I’m a noob, all I just do is listen in one ear and all that talking exits at the other end. It’s like I never learnt anything to begin with. I guess train enthusiasts will only appreciate all that. Also, the next episode preview is another good place for Takayama or other characters to enlighten a bit more on this but somehow I feel there is a running joke that before they can finish their ranting, they are made to hurry up and mostly abruptly cut off (Takayama especially) before quickly narrating what comes up next in the subsequent episode.

The art and drawing are pretty fine. But that is only confined to the trains. I suppose if you don’t put detail on your subjects of trains, it would be just meaningless, right? Also, towards the end of the series, there is noticeably a drop in animation quality in terms of the characters. It is rather obvious if a guy like me could comment about this. Also, I read over the internet there are quite a handful of animation mistakes made in some episodes. You know, stuffs like a character wasn’t supposed to be wearing something but in the next scene, they are shown wearing it. My eyes weren’t that sharp so I didn’t spot them. Of course when I replayed it again, ah, there it is. I wonder if they’ll fix this in the BDs. Hopefully. Not that I am going to watch this series again save for that train ride delivery part.

Voice acting is rather okay with some of the seiyuus are recognizable such as Jun Fukuyama as Takayama, Yui Horie as Iida, Mai Nakahara as Gonou and Minori Chihara as Noa. Others that I didn’t really recognize (sorry) are Manami Numakura as Sakurai (Riko in Love Lab), Maaya Uchida as Koumi (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Satoshi Hino as Iwaizumi (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima), Hitomi Igarashi as Sasshou (Hina in Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai) and Hiromi Konno as Bernina (Sae in Amagami SS).

The opening theme is Mukaikaze Ni Uta Renagara by Minori Chihara. The hard rock piece sounds rather okay but not to my liking. The ending theme, Overdriver by ZAQ isn’t bad actually. At first I brushed off this rap-like techno dance mix whatever this piece because such genres aren’t to my liking and taste. But the more I hear it, the more I start to feel that this actually sounds good overall. I am not sure if this song complements with the theme of the series entirely but I think it having this song as the ending theme is quite cool.

Despite a few unrealistic settings (Koumi’s speed reading is unbelievable no matter how smart you paint her) and moments (what the hell was that lucha libra dores all about?) or even the story flow (all that running around from what they thought were being targets of terrorists blown up into gigantic exaggerated proportions and Koumi losing almost all her clothes along the way was just ridiculous – all because Takayama didn’t read properly his ‘death letter’), to a certain extent this series is still worth the entertaining watch. Of course if you really want to know more about trains and especially your local train and railway system and network, there are other better alternatives and methods for you to do so. As to whether or not this show would actually stimulate some interest in this topic, well, I think it went a little off the rails.

When you have saved your school from closure, what else is there for an idol group formed to just do that as their initial goal? It will be a total waste for them to disband so I guess since they are already here, why not give it a shot and try their hands at Love Live again? And yeah. This is what the second season is mostly going to be. But wait a minute. Didn’t they fail to enter the last time? Well, it’s back by popular demand! Wohoo! I figure that is why we are having a second season. After all, this is going to be their last time together. Gasp! Last time together? What are you saying?! Oh girls, even if this will be your last performance together, you will always be in our hearts, right? Well, if you are a big fan of them. I’m not ;p.

Episode 1
Thanks to the increase in enrolment, Otonokizaka Academy will continue to operate and take in new students next year. Hooray! Honoka has been installed as the new student council president and why, we even have a musical version of it as she sings her way through the school corridors and fields! It might just be her imagination because the moment she took the microphone to address the crowd, she forgot all her lines. Now she can’t laze around since Umi is being as strict to get the jobs done. This is going to be tough work… Never knew the student council was going to be lots of work, eh? Hanayo stumbles upon some shocking information. She gathers everyone and they run around everywhere in school trying to find Honoka. After all that running that could have made them great marathon runners, they finally find her and relay the shocking news: There is going to be another Love Live! Thanks to the popularity of the last one (which was won by A-Rise), this time the competition won’t be based on popularity rankings and will go by regions. Think of it like those sports anime, inter-high competitions of each region will slug it out before the top teams qualify for the Nationals-cum-finals. Their hopes are extinguished when they realize they have to fight A-Rise for a spot in the next round. They’re from the same Tokyo region and this is the most competitive idol region across Japan. This sucks. Well, you’ll never know if you don’t try. Just when everyone gets hyped up to join, here comes Honoka pouring cold water on it. She doesn’t think they have to participate. Say what?! This is an atrocity! They interrogate her and her it seems she is more than happy to sing and dance together. They don’t need some fancy competition, right? After all, their goal of keeping the school alive has been achieved. So to prove her point, she takes her groupies to hang out with her after school. See how fun this is? Erm…

Of course the rest cannot accept this as competing in Love Live has been their dream and they believe Honoka must be overwhelmed by her student council duties. Honoka’s sister, Yukiho is also appalled she doesn’t want to enter. She hints that she and Arisa will enter Otonokizaka next year in April, the same time this next Love Live will start. You know what this means? One rainy day, Niko challenges Honoka to a race to climb the stairs. If Honoka wins, they’ll not participate in Love Live. Niko makes a great start (by getting a head start) but trips. Then the rest tell her the seniors like Eri, Nozomi and Niko won’t have time anymore and since Love Live is only open to students, do you know what this means? If they miss it, that’s it. Even if they get eliminated in the preliminaries, at least they can say they tried their best. After all the motivating talk by her friends, Honoka is back to her usual self and agrees to join. Honoka then becomes God. GOD?! Because she is so happy that she yells to the Heavens for the rain to stop and it did!!! F*CKING HELL, NO WAY!!! The sun is even shining through the clouds! What does this mean? As long as you’ve got the determination, you can do anything! Even stopping the rain?

Episode 2
First obstacle… For the next Love Live, they cannot use songs they have sung. That means only new songs because if so, many will be covering songs of professional idols. Everyone turns to Maki… Oh no. What does this mean? Another training camp! Maki is such a rich girl that in last season they went to her beach villa. Now they go to her other villa in the mountains! Everyone is so captivated by the scenery that they forgot to wake up Honoka who was left sleeping in the train! Nobody even noticed… So in the villa, Maki will be composing songs, Umi writing lyrics and Kotori designing their dresses in their respective rooms. However the pressure is getting to them… Writer’s block? We take a slight detour when a squirrel steals Niko’s wristband. Along with Rin, they couldn’t stop running downhill and amazingly miss all the trees and bushes. Am I playing some sort of platform video game here? Eventually they fall into a river. Back at the villa, the rest notice how quiet it is. Then they realize. Maki, Umi and Kotori have escaped! They’re sighing outside! Oh, the depression! I guess the pressure got to them. So it is decided they split into groups and help them out. Eri and Niko will help Maki compose songs. Honoka and Hanayo will help Kotori with the designs while Nozomi and Rin will assist Umi. Despite the luxurious villa, they have to spend their time outdoors in the wild and as far away as possible. No distractions? But seriously… They’re already facing some hitch. Because the temptation to sleep for Honoka and Hanayo is too great to resist! Rin cannot believe she has to do mountain hiking since Umi is such a big crazy climber. How many more mountains will they climb? And Eri has a fear of the dark… So well, it doesn’t seem any progress is made as we see the groups soaking in the hotspring, lying outside watching the stars and having campfire roast potato. Eventually Maki, Kotori and Umi couldn’t sleep and walk back to the villa where they finally find their groove. Next morning, the girls return to the villa and find the trio asleep. At least there is some progress. When they return, they start practising and Niko suddenly realized she has been had. That damn squirrel still got her wristband!

Episode 3
Due to the large number of participants, each idol team can choose a venue for their performance which will be uploaded live on the internet. However they only have one shot at it. Although the top 4 schools of each region will advance, Muse is disheartened to know they still have to face A-Rise. What’s the big deal? So what if they are guaranteed top spot? There are remaining 3 spots, right? As they need to stand out and attract viewers, the topic of sexy dress comes into discussion. Umi and Eri stand for it and might be willing to drop out! Oh no you don’t! First thing to do to garner support is to broadcast throughout their school their ambitions and goals. Umi and Hanayo are also made to do their introductions since they are naturally shy. Then Honoka had to scream into the microphone to rev up everyone. Did your eardrums explode? They go searching around the school for a venue they had not performed before. Zilch. Looks like they performed everywhere. They can’t do it in Akihabara since it is A-Rise’s turf and doing so is like declaring war. While the girls are admiring the promo video of A-Rise outside their school, UTX High School, suddenly the group leader of A-Rise, Tsubasa Kira takes Honoka by the hand and runs into school! Is this some sort of abduction?! The rest go after them and they meet the other A-Rise members, Erena Toudou and Anju Yuuki who welcome them to their school. Hanayo wants their autograph…

A-Rise mentions they know all about Muse since they have been keeping an eye on them since they can feel they are a team of rare calibre. They note Honoka in particular who is shining brightest out of the 9 of them. They know Muse so well that they can explain each of their good traits! What are they stalker?! Maybe except for Niko… Doesn’t she have any good traits? Maybe… Thanks for the flowers. Niko was a big fan of A-Rise before Muse was formed. A-Rise doesn’t hesitate to say they will not lose to them. Despite being the country’s number 1 idol, that is in the past. They want to continue staying as a group that can please the audience better than anyone. That’s why they won’t lose. But why do they look so shocked when Honoka says they won’t lose too? Is it that determination in her eyes? Was it they never expected her to say that and quietly bow down to their dominance? A-Rise allows them to use their school for their performance venue. The preliminaries are here. A-Rise struts their stuff first and they’re pretty damn good that it might just be the demoralizing factor for Muse. This is what happens if you see somebody’s video and pay too much attention before your act. They’re getting negative already that they can’t measure up to them. So are they giving up? Hell, no! You’ve come this far so give it your best shot! So it’s Muse’s turn to perform their flower maiden concept performance and it seems A-Rise is pretty impressed too.

Episode 4
Everyone is nervous. The results of the preliminaries are out. Those qualified in descending order: A-Rise, East Heart, Midnight Cats and… Mu… Mu… Mutant Girls?! WTF?! What kind of idol name is that?! Turns out to be Honoka’s dream! But it could be a premonition because the same thing happens for real. The top 4 in descending order: A-Rise, East Heart, Midnight Cats and… Mu… Mu… Muse! For real?! Yup. It’s them. Hooray! As the next contest is in December and only one of the 4 may advance, this means they need to practice hard and beat A-Rise. However they notice Niko is missing. It seems she can’t come to practice and have something important. They tail her to see her shopping for ingredients. Could it be she has a boyfriend? When they are spotted, Niko runs. And man, she’s good at running. Thanks to her non-existence boobs, she managed to slip through tight places. As Muse is contemplating what is wrong, suddenly here comes mini Niko! Did she turn into a little girl? Actually she is Niko’s sister, Kokoro. She knows them and takes them hiding and running from who knows what. The paparazzi? Then the biggest shock the girls get to know from her mouth: They are Niko’s backup dancers! Eri calls Niko but she’s not picking up the phone. Kokoro brings them to their home and meet another little brother, Kotarou. Yeah. The backup dancers are here for a visit. The girls then realize something amiss. The posters of Muse have been heavily edited with Niko’s face cut and paste as the centre! Her room is filled with such Photoshop pictures! And she’s good!

When Niko gets home, she’s got some explaining to do. However she runs again after seeing Umi’s death stare. Unfortunately she won’t get far as she bumps into another sister of hers, Kokoa. Niko tries to fool around. They’re not amused. So they can accept that her parents are away for a business trip and she has to take care of her siblings and thus can’t practice. But why the lies of them being backup dancers? She won’t say since it has always been that way. This is her house and what she says is none of their business. The girls leave as they ponder what she meant. Eri remembers when Niko was a first year, she wanted to be an idol. To her siblings she must have been a super idol but when thins fell apart, she couldn’t tell them the truth. She tried her best to be a school idol and even handed out flyers but since Eri was busy with student council work and wasn’t interested in becoming an idol, she didn’t give her much attention. Niko continued to go it alone despite lack of audiences and her other members quit. If she had reached out to her then, would things have turned out differently? One day, Honoka surprises Niko by bringing her siblings to school because they said they wanted to see her on stage. Niko is dressed up like a super cute idol and as Muse takes the stage, Niko announces that this is the last time she will sing as herself. She is not quitting but from now on will be performing as Muse. She is going to be a new person. Her dream is to be the number one idol in the universe and she shines brightest when she is in this group. This is not the end but a new beginning. So let the performance begin.

Episode 5
Honoka, Umi and Kotori are having a field trip at Okinawa. Too bad it is raining heavily. There might even be typhoon. Honoka trying to be a shaman to cast away the rain? I think she is more suited to be an idol putting the sun in the heart of her fans! Yeah! So Rin has been selected as an interim leader to practice for a fashion event this weekend. At first she is reluctant and has no confidence but with the rest putting a lot of faith and encouragement in her, she takes up the job. She’s nervous on her first day and she believes the rest pushed this job to her because they didn’t want to do it. Her confidence is all-time low that she believes she is not the cutest like the rest and not fitted to be an idol. Hanayo laments she might not have gotten over it. During elementary school, she was often teased by boys as she was dressed kind of boyish. Then more woes. Thanks to the typhoon building up, the return trip is cancelled. Honoka and co will be stuck and this means Rin’s leadership is extended. To her horror, as the leader and centre, she is required to wear a girly bridal dress during the performance. She can’t take it and snaps. How far can she run? Anyway she still thinks she can’t do it and so Eri suggests having someone else as the leader. Hanayo is suggested and Rin doesn’t hesitate to entrust everything to her. But Hanayo wonders if she is really okay with this. She is. Really? Yes. As in really, really? Yes. Really, really, really for sure? No doubts about it. So the girls practice like usual and Hanayo even calls Honoka to tell what happened for advice. Come performance day, Rin is shocked that the rest wants her to be the leader. They have practised their coordination so that Rin can be the centre. More words of encouragement and believe why they put their trust in her. Probably Hanayo’s statement sealed the deal. She is the girliest of the girliest, cutest of the cutest that she wants to hug her to death! Is Rin some furry animal? Rin dons the wedding costume and goes out on stage. Safe to say, the show is a success. Better still, Rin has got more confidence now.

Episode 6
Akihabara will have a Halloween theme and Muse is invited to participate as well as A-Rise. Although this is not a ranked performance, it will be a great chance for them to boost their popularity and catch up to A-Rise before the next elimination round. And since they’re going for impact, that scary look on Umi’s face indicates she’s really going to give them the greatest impact they’ll ever have. Some of them attend a live interview on the streets of Akihabara but couldn’t match up to the enthusiasm of the host. Eventually it is A-Rise that takes the spotlight. Umi comes up with the idea of impact by having them introduce themselves dressed in different club outfits. I don’t know. Does it feel like they’re just fooling around? Next idea has got to be the funniest. They try to become another person! It’s hilarious to see Umi as Rin, Hanayo as Niko, Nozomi as Honoka, etc. I won’t say they’re perfect but it’s very close. So much so the original is just appalled. Do they really act like that? Yeah. Everyone so weird. Then this is the ultimate impact and change. Thinking they shouldn’t promote themselves as idols and something wilder, Muse suddenly becomes… KISS!!! Hard rock, punk rock ass! It’s scaring away people! Oh yeah. They really made an impact. And now the chairwoman calls them to her office for an explanation. So wanna perform for the rest of their performance in this outfit? No way! Back to brainstorming. Since it still doesn’t get them anywhere and with no time left, they have to start making costumes and other stuffs. So in the end, everyone becomes themselves. They got so infatuated trying to renew themselves to match A-Rise, they probably forgot that each of them are unique and are best the way they are. And the best part is how they all come together, learn and accept one another. Muse puts on a sterling Halloween performance and gets motivated for the next round. Meanwhile Yukiho is lamenting reorganizing the disorganized books and volumes in Honoka’s room. Then she sees a letter. It must be something big that it is enough to make her go into shocking I-can’t-believe-it reaction spasms.

Episode 7
That letter is actually Honoka’s physical measurements. So? She gained weight! Despite doing some exercise, Honoka is still lax about losing her weight. So Umi gives her a dose of reality by making her wear their idol outfit. That scream… Traumatic… She gets lectured that the extra weight will make her movements sluggish and affect her performance. Thus she will undergo a diet! And while they’re arguing about this, they notice Hanayo happily enjoying her big onigiri. It’s the rice season! Notice something else too? Yeah. She put on weight too! And so the duo undergo strict dieting regiments courtesy of Umi the merciless. One day you’ll thank her. So run! Keep running! Tire easily? That’s because you’re dragging all that excess weight. More running! However along the way, the rice shop seems tempting. Hanayo tries to resist but Honoka persuades. In the end they lose out. So there is a big suspicion that the duo start looking forward to their runs. Then Umi discovers this folly… In the aftermath, Umi reports that Hanayo has got her weight back to normal but Honoka did not. I guess back home, she continued eating like no tomorrow. Suddenly students from the art club come in. They are perplexed that their budget was approved even before the meeting. Kotori realizes it was her mistake. She put it in the approved bin prior because of all that distraction going on with Honoka’s dieting. This is going to be a big problem as the word has spread around. Eri and Nozomi can only do so much so the trio work hard to find a solution. At the meeting with all the club representatives, Honoka admits their mistake, apologizes and hopes they can request to withdraw it. She continues explaining that this year the school avoid closure but has lesser students. Thus the budget isn’t much and they have draft and formulate allocated funds that would meet 80% of their respective club’s requirements. It won’t be much but please bear with them and hopefully this amount will increase if the enrolment for next year increases. I guess it wouldn’t seem nice after seeing them bow their heads and put in all the hard work. So everyone agrees to it. Best ending of all, Honoka lost weight because she has been working so hard that she skipped meals. Now that her weight is back to where it original is, she’s going to start eating! Oh no you don’t, says Umi!

Episode 8
Muse is in an interview but Honoka got fired up an unknowingly fires the first salvo that they’ll win! But the issue now is that they need a new song for their next performance. Nozomi suggests a love song since they never had one before. Well, everyone is looking at Umi. She’s the lyricist, right? And everybody is so tense in wondering if she was in a relationship before. She has not. Relieved? Something feels wrong… Maki doesn’t think they can master it in time but Eri and Nozomi don’t want to give up yet. So they try imagining and mental pictures about romance. What’s the camera for, Nozomi? Well, I just thought Maki played the tsundere part to perfection. While Niko was trying to show off her acting chops (the girls aren’t impressed) and something steamy is about to happen but the camera’s battery went out. Good thing? Because Eri and Nozomi continue to want to work on this, Maki suspects something strange. Why are they pushing so hard? No, I don’t think she has this hidden agenda of joining A-Rise. So the next group discussion on romance has them watch a cheap romance movie. Some are so touched, some are sleeping, some just unimpressed. But the most exaggerated one acting like it’s some horror movie is Umi! Turn it off! So can the idea of a love song materialize in time? They’re up against A-Rise so petty tricks like this won’t work. Then it’s like Nozomi has given up and it’s okay if they do their best with the songs they have. Eri doesn’t feel comfortable with her decision. So Maki later confronts the duo and although Nozomi won’t tell, Eri reveals Nozomi’s dream. She wanted all 9 of them to make a song together by linking their words and feelings. That’s why she suggested a love song. Nozomi continues that Muse is a miracle to her. She has always lived alone and changing schools frequently that she doesn’t have any friends. Till she met Eri was like her personality but distanced herself and couldn’t fit in because of her strong identity. After they became friends, they still couldn’t reach out the other people like them. But now those people are connected in a group sharing the same feelings. It would have been nice if it was a song but it doesn’t necessarily have to because Muse has some achieved something big and her biggest dream came true long time ago. Maki calls the others over so they can all discuss the new love song everyone will help contribute. Yes. Maki will write a new one. Everyone learns of Nozomi’s dream and loves her even more.

Episode 9
It’s a very snowy day and tonight is the final preliminary round. So we see some of the Muse members having their sisters wishing them the best. Then everyone meets up but the new student council trio have the school’s open house to take care off so they won’t be there so early yet. At least Honoka is calmer and cooler this time in handling it all. The other 6 head to the stage venue where the final preliminary will take place. Very big. Very grand. So awesome. They also meet A-Rise there and as usual, the declaration they will not lose. Who wants to lose anyway after coming this far? And now for the big drama problem. The snow has been falling all day that it is wreaking havoc on all transportation. It is about to get worse. This means Honoka and co are stuck at school. Oh dear. An hour till the competition starts. Silly? Desperate? Crazy? But you have got to give it to the trio because they are going to walk through that thick blizzard just to get there! So freaking cold! Yeah. It felt like an eternity just reaching the school gates. When the blizzard simmers down, the trio are amazed to see many of their school mates shovelling a pathway to their venue! Serious! The entire way!!!!!! No way!!!! I mean, yes way!!!!! The damn blizzard almost wiped out their hard work. I know you’re in awe with their steadfast but can you get a move on before the snow piles up again? And so running there has never been faster (isn’t it supposed to be slippery?). Muse finally reunites. Honoka becomes an emotional wreck as she hugs Eri. Crying so hard. Crying so loud. So cold. So scary. Brave girl. And we have everyone to thank for who made this possible. Finally it is time for Muse to put up their snowy white performance and their brand new song called Snow Halation. Thank goodness the snow has stopped. Otherwise how to catch their dazzling performance and for every one of their supporters, friends and family to come watch them.

Episode 10
The freshmen and sophomores of Muse meet up at the shrine for New Year’s Day (the seniors are helping out with Nozomi’s shrine). Maki is the only one turning up in a kimono. I guess the rest didn’t bother to dress. Was there any consensus on that? Along the way they meet A-Rise. From the way they tell Muse to win Love Live must really mean that Muse has won the final preliminary round! There’s a plague as prove sitting in the room! OMG! Congratulations! When Arisa tells Eri her wish to join Otonokizaka to join Muse, this has them thinking they need to get the group together and discuss their future. As Muse practises, they also discuss the next round that they’ll be in. Almost 50 groups will compete and it will be much harder since it will be online as fans will be selective of only the groups they like. As the large number of participants, it is impossible for fans to remember them all and thus many have came up with a catchphrase. They need one that captures their own uniqueness as well as the group as a whole. Time to crack their brains. Later Tsubasa speaks to Honoka. She admits A-Rise’s defeat since all was fair. They’ve been pondering about their future since winning Love Live is no longer their goal. Tsubasa can’t help think about the reason they lost. They’ve practised as hard as them, they had great teamwork as them and certainly have won the hearts of fans with their great performance as them. In fact they believed they tried their hardest and gave their best yet. So what went wrong? You asking Honoka? She doesn’t even know where to begin. So Honoka seeks Umi’s advice and she thinks it may have something to do with the catchphrase they’re looking for. Can Yukiho help? She doesn’t know why but Muse makes her feel like she wants to root for them not because Honoka is her sister or a local group. Muse then makes mochi as thanks for their friends’ support. Niko coming up with a bad pun catchphrase. Something that takes the cake. When Honoka sees the board of wishes at the shrine, she notices most of them are well wishes for Muse. Suddenly she gets inspired of the catchphrase that perfectly describes them. The reason they could go so far, accomplished a lot and still keep on going is because of these people and their support. They try their best, the fans support them, they move on and make their dreams come true little by little with everyone’s strength. This is what it means to be school idols. This is what it means to be Muse. And so their catchphrase: Making dreams come true together.

Episode 11
Arisa is so over the moon that she passed her entrance exam into Otonokizaka. Yeah. She can’t wait to join Muse. Although Yukiho passed too, she doesn’t seem too happy. Even Honoka thinks she should be shouting and screaming banzai. Because Yukiho lets loose this bombshell question: What will happen to Muse after graduation? Umi has now a lighter practice regime since their priority now is to stay healthy. However the girls cannot help avoid the topic of what happens to the group after the seniors graduate. Everyone has their opinion. Some say carry one and some wonder if they should. Eri thinks it is Honoka who has to decide since it is certain that the graduation will happen and they can’t continue working as school idols. Arisa continues to be an eager-beaver and shows off the moves she has learnt. Ready to join anytime? Then Yukiho asks her. What is it that she loves so much about Muse? I don’t mean for her to sound like a sourpuss… Arisa does a lot of thinking and then she confronts Honoka. She has made her decision after Yukiho’s words made her realize something important. She won’t join Muse. She loves Muse when they are the 9 of them and since she is not part of it, she’ll aim to create a school idol group she can belong. Soon, Honoka calls the rest of Muse to hang out. She thought a change in pace might do the group some good. So they really enjoy everything they want from playing games at the arcade, shopping at the idol store, bowling, zoo (imitating penguins and flamingos?), art museum (imitating statues?), praying at the shrine, amusement park ride… Wow. It’s really a fulfilling day. Finally the all-important sunset view at the riverbed. Then the inevitable. Honoka has discussed with her friends and despite their different opinions, everyone came to the same conclusion. With a heavy heart, they announce to the seniors that after the performance, Muse will disband! Because Muse will always be the 9 of them. No more, no less. As expected, everyone starts getting emotional when Honoka realizes they’re going to miss the last train. It was just a ploy to distract them because they won’t stop crying if they start. They take a final commemorative group photo. I wonder how everyone can fit in that cramp booth. Heck, can everyone’s face be seen without something funny happening? After all that laughter, I guess the real inevitable stuff has to happen. Hanayo starts the ball rolling when she starts crying. Oh no! Don’t you start now! Ah, what the heck. Let it flow! Don’t hold it in! Cry all your heart out! Tears flowing, lots of hugging, oh man, such emotional scene. That was really good, right? And with that behind them, all that is left is to practice. A week left to their final performance.

Episode 12
Niko is given the honour to represent Muse and pick from the lots (the performance turn I suppose). I guess it is favourable so it’s not surprising she wants to brag about it but the rest don’t pay much attention to her. After more practice, then it hit Hanayo. This will be their last practice together. Oh no. Please, don’t start it. Niko won’t have history repeat itself and wants them to focus on Love Live. After they pray at the shrine, it seems they haven’t the heart to go home. Honoka suggests they have a sleepover at school. Kotori is able to get her mom’s permission. She’ll overlook it this time since applications need to be submitted 2 weeks prior. Yeah. Don’t spoil their fun. Cheeky Nozomi reveals Eri’s phobia of the dark but this darkness is perfect moment for them to look at the stars. They head up to the rooftop and see an amazing sight of the city lights. Honoka shouts out at the top of her voice, the feelings she wants to convey and she has had since meeting all of them. Morning comes and it is the day of Love Live. The stage is even grander and bigger. Before Muse’s turn to perform, they make their last preparations and drive to give their best. Let’s make it awesome. And they don’t disappoint when they go on stage. After their sterling performance and last bow, they can’t contain their emotions at the backstage. Lots of hugging. Lots of tears flowing. Looks familiar this scene? And then they here the crowd calling for an encore! All their friends and family are supporting them. Even A-Rise. And so out they go again on stage after changing into another outfit. Can’t disappoint their fans and supporters, can’t they?

Episode 13
Honoka is a happy girl because she’s done with her farewell speech. Everyone meets Niko’s mom and younger siblings. Then they see Niko putting up a very kiddie behaviour, pestering her mom to come see something. Guess what? There is a trophy that they won Love Live! OMFG! THEY WON!!! But Umi has got a long face because Honoka is late to come clean up the student council room. Nozomi spots a new (temporary) hairstyle while Eri continues to linger and fell attached to her old student council room she will be missing soon. Honoka gives her a big hug and a thank you speech enough to almost make her cry. That’s a no-no before the ceremony. At the graduation ceremony, this time Honoka is well prepared and ever ready. She also talks about her love for music. With Maki on piano, she even sings a song dedicating to the seniors. The other younger Muse members join them and soon everybody. Don’t worry if you don’t know the lyrics. Just hum along! Later Niko clears out the clubroom. It feels almost empty because most of the idol stuffs are hers. She makes Hanayo the new club president. Who else has a better knowledge on idols? Can’t burden the student council trio either. Reluctant at first, she accepts after support from her friends. With Rin as leader, Maki is made vice president too. Nobody is left out. The seniors want to take a last look around the school and Honoka thinks they should all go together since it’s their last time together. Since she said the taboo word, she is made to treat them all drinks. Yeah, it tastes so good when someone else pays. They visit the alpaca stable (expecting offspring!), the auditorium, basking in the grassy field and finally the most frequented place: The rooftop. Yeah. Lots of memories coming back, eh? As the seniors are about to leave school one last time, suddenly Hanayo receives a big news. So big that she can’t say it here as she drags Honoka back into school with the rest curious enough to chase them. So what is it? Another season? Another Love Live? Or just this ending musical performance for us? And someone please tell me where this place Honoka announced they’re going to go together, a place that we’ve never seen to make our dream comes true? Tell me! I’m such a dumb guy…

One Last Hurrah… And Sweet Victory!
Well, even if there is no more future sequels or spin-offs, the real Muse will still be around and doing their usual stuffs that they have been doing since. So is this a fitting farewell to another idol themed anime or this is just the start of a new beginning? One thing for sure, they have left an impact in the hearts of many with their own unique music and dances. After 2 seasons of Love Live and Muse antics and adventures, I suppose it is time the curtains come down because you know, things don’t really last forever or will they go on forever. Even this idol thingy will die out one day. But hey, let’s not talk about that. As far as this series is concerned, although I am still not a big idol fan nor can I see myself converting into one in the nearest possible future or reincarnated life, there are some funny moments, dramatic moments, friendship moments, heart tugging moments, draggy moments, yawning moments… I know, this show isn’t perfect or it will be my cup of tea, but at least I have this same feeling as them, that satisfied feeling that I can move forward, leave it all behind and be proud of it. Although all I did was just watch 2 seasons of it ;).

There was this dilemma of mine whether or not Muse was going to win Love Live or even make it to the preliminaries. Because from the structure of the show (how far could you go with just over a dozen episodes?) and the way they are focusing on other stuffs instead of preparing for the competitions, it had me thinking that maybe they won’t make it after all. Then they’ll focus the rest of the remaining episodes on something else. Maybe the other characters. Because for each time, we are shown that they are being normally happy in the aftermath. Like the outcome of the competition didn’t matter. It feels like a ploy to get our guards down before they plop the biggest and shocking news that they made it through. It keeps you guessing about the results. Did they win or not? Did they pass or not? Why are they acting so nonchalant like as though it didn’t happen at all? And then the news. And it was absolute sweet victory that they won the Love Live. Icing on the cake. Perfect parting gift. With the lack of hurrah and bravos surrounding their victory, it’s like to make you think it never happened because you don’t see anybody ma king a big deal out of it. I mean when they defeated top favourites A-Rise, shouldn’t the idol world media and paparazzi be hounding them? So I suppose with this season, it is like revenge for making for last season’s failure since the first season was more about to save the school, which was the main reason why the idol unit was formed.

Unlike last season where there is this danger of them being disbanded, this time around they are disbanding for good. It is with mixed feelings that they do so because Muse can only be with 9 of them and nobody else. It may be a trend today of replacing band members, adding new ones or kicking out some but nothing beats the original. Sometimes when you change members so often, it is like a different group and might as well disband the original one and form a new one instead of using the old name. Also, I think that if they want to continue being Muse is also possible. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be high school students to be idols, right? They might not have to compete in school idol competitions anymore and maybe in some other competition criteria. So I don’t see the idea of them disbanding and stopping becoming idols just because some of them are graduating. It’s not like they’re not ever going to see each other ever again, right? Right?! Unless…

This season also sees some episode focusing on some of the members like Niko’s household, Rin temporarily having a go as the band’s leader and Nozomi’s wish. It’s great to see some character development for them although overall the characters still largely remain the same as we know them from last season. For example, Niko is still the biggest joker and the comic relief of the group. I guess every group needs one like her. In that sense she is my favourite because she makes me laugh with her antics (even if it is not on purpose), no matter how much everyone ignores her or she doesn’t realize her Niko-Niko Smile is looks quite embarrassing (but you have to give her points for doing it every time). And there are some sides you don’t see about her every day… Funny… So Niko, you’re really the most amusing girl of the bunch and please don’t take it to heart because I really love seeing you when you get all funny and stuff.

Then there is Nozomi who is a little devilish sometimes. For instance, the time when everyone was chasing down Niko, Nozomi can’t squeeze into some tight space because her boobs were the major blocking force. So she sends Rin to do the job and you can see her satisfied smirk on her face! It’s like she’s got revenge on something. Eri continues to be the kind and gentle person unlike her strict ways in the previous season so much so you might have forgotten she started off as a cold person then. Same case with Umi’s fear of performing in public. Maki although is mixing well within the group, she still sounds a bit distant from the way she speaks and all. A bit tsundere too… As usual, you can’t beat Hanayo’s enthusiasm for all things idol and her love for anything that is rice, Rin’s energetic or her penchant to talk like a cat (~nya) and Kotori is getting better in designing her outfits for Muse. Lastly there is Honoka who has turned from someone incapable and unreliable into someone more responsible and mature although basically she is still the same fun and loving person we know. Naturally that is why she is unofficially the leader of Muse if I should say. It’s like she has dramatically changed this season and before you know it, she’s much more than the person we knew from last season.

The drawing and art remains the same as last season. This means the use of CG effects when Muse is taking the stage. Although not obvious but you can tell the difference. I won’t say it is horrible. It feels rather okay. I mean going from 2D to CG, that transition takes some time to get used to. The dance choreographies are also okay. As I said, I’m not a crazy idol fan so I don’t really know how to appreciate such moves. But hats off to them and every other idol group, real or fictional for coming up with such dance routines, step designs and arrangements. It really takes lots of effort and practice to get them right and look perfect. I don’t remember about last season but for this season, I can’t seem to help but notice the pink blushes on the characters’ cheeks. It is like a permanent feature on their face and at times I just can’t take my eyes off it. I just kept staring at it. I know, it makes the girls look lovelier. Can’t argue about that, can’t I?

Music as usual plays a big part of the series but honestly for me who isn’t really a big fan of idols, I can say that they sound rather okay the most. I won’t go crazy about it. Sore Wa Bokutachi No Kiseki is this season’s opening theme and sounds like your typical pop idol girl group with lots of energy and passion in it. Donna Toki Mo Zutto is the pop rock ending theme and just like in last season, despite there is only one song, there are a few versions of it. Nine of them to be exact because each of the Muse members will have their turn taking the lead singing this piece (albeit you’ll only be hearing that version once). Sometimes you can guess who will be singing it by figuring which of the characters has the most focus in that particular episode and you can see that character being highlighted right at the end of the animation. The rest of the insert songs are okay. A-Rise’s ones are also not too bad but still my favourite remains the first insert song of Muse from the first season, Start:Dash! I wish they would at least play it once more again here but the real Muse unit has got lots of songs under their belt.

Somehow watching the end of this makes me feel that this series and Muse in particular have come a long way despite it is only 2 seasons long and only a year in this anime’s context. But yet we have seen them achieved so much, grown so much and bond with each other so much that even the sharpest blade or scissors will not make the slightest cut on their string of friendship. And when they turned the final episode into one last (almost) dramatic farewell episode, thank goodness they didn’t spam the tears again (unlike in the couple of penultimate episodes where the tears flow freely) because who knows I could not even have hold it in although the final episode wasn’t really on that high level of emotional scale. Because you know it is already going to end. You know it is goodbye. The inevitable has arrived. But don’t be afraid. Because once you reach there, you’ll remember all the memories and the good times they have brought to us. There’s plenty of that to get us through for the rest of our lives. Thank you and horosho!

I suppose some unpopular things refuse to die out. From time to time, they keep reminding us they’re still around no matter how infamous they’ll become or the annoying look that will be generated from others. What am I talking about? Remember that unpopular misfit girl who is trying to make her cool high school debut but fails so badly because her eyes were closed to what we call reality? Yes people. After a year since the TV series ended, she is back in Watashi Ga Motenai No Wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera Ga Warui OVA. I guess this means she is still being deluded into thinking that she is going to be one helluva popular girl, no? Well, can a single OVA turn things around and change her luck? I know what you are already thinking. It’s not going to happen.

So desperate our girl Tomoko, that right at the beginning of the OVA she is already breaking the fourth wall! For a good 2.5 minutes, she is already trying to map out their roles (Yuu and Kii-chan especially) and trying to show us that she is helluva knowledgeable (when Kii-chan asks about big boobs, etc). So, this is what she has planned out. She wants Yuu to be the jealous b*tch with a boyfriend who must be broken up before the second season, Kii-chan and Yuu will be totally in love with her to add yuri effect and the need to create a gay character for her brother. All these are essential in affecting their DVD sales! And just when Tomoko thought she had it going, Kii-chan snaps her back into reality and says fun time is over and it’s time to face her miserable life. Oh God! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAARRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!! Cue for that ear piercing rocker screaming opener! Ah yes, Tomoko. Welcome back to reality.

I’m Unpopular So I’ll Become An Enigma
Aomori is one of those normal middle school students. He has thought about life and the trivial things since coming to this school. He thought his would change. Nothing happened. Like your typical boring and mundane life. Don’t most anime protagonists wish for this? He even thought that a mysterious girl would pop up and kill him or that his real identity would be the Demon Lord or some world saviour. It’s not going to happen. Because this is reality. Not that he would expect it to happen anyway. But one evening after school ends, his wandering takes him to the school rooftop. Yes, the place where all kinds of flags can happen or important events would take place. Like having lunch with your girlfriend or fight demons at night. Suddenly! There is this dark brooding bishoujo (believe it or not, she’s Tomoko!) leaping down behind him. She tells him she is here to watch over terrorists and warns him never to come back here again as she can’t have innocent civilians involved before leaving. He is left stunned and so he takes her heed but the words she said weigh heavily on her mind. Is it true what this girl had said? About fighting terrorists and such? He couldn’t understand some words she used. Like it was made up or something.

Two days later, he returns to the rooftop. She is still there. She is amazed he came but why didn’t he come yesterday? Because she told him not to. Duh. This time she’s talking about humans being made as weapons and that he must not come here ever again. On second thought, he should. He is now wise to an unknown truth? What the heck does that mean? This leaves him further confused. After thinking about it, Aomori decides to take the big leap. He is going to change his monotonous life. The next evening as he heads up to the rooftop, it is locked. So much about his new life. Ended before it could start. (In the background, the PA announced Tomoko’s name to come to the teacher’s office). Three years later and present day, Aomori is now a freshman high school student. He remembers trying to head up to the rooftop but it was always locked ever since. Again he tries his luck. Nope. Although he never really understood her, he wished to see her again. In the hallway, he bumps into Tomoko (the one we are familiar with), apologizes and makes his way.

Now this is what actually happened from Tomoko’s side. As she heads back up to the rooftop but finds the door locked, she remembers the unpleasant memories back in middle school. Back when she is still friends with the geeky Yuu and Kotomi Komiyama (oddly they never get along despite sharing the same interest), Tomoko laments nothing exciting happening and thus believes it is only in high school where things will really take off. After the gym teacher reprimanded a couple of guys, she notices he dropped his key to the rooftop. Lucky. Unlocking the door feels like unlocking to a personal space of her own. Freedom. That is when Aomori wanders in the first time. Not amused that someone has broken into her sanctuary and since he already noticed her, she needs to do something to break the ice. She leaps down at the expense of hurting her ankle. Bad landing. Ouch! Sure that is not the sound of her ankle bone snapping? It hurts like hell but Tomoko needs to keep her cool image. As she holds in the excruciating pain, she cooks up the terrorist story. After she leaves, she lets go holding her pain. She takes advantage of her situation by pretending that her pain is so great that she couldn’t do any chores. Tomoki is made to do it and he could tell she is faking it since she was walking fine earlier on.

The next day as she waits, she thinks of cooking up a cool story just in case Aomori comes. But she waited for an entire day and he never turned up. She even starts thinking why the heck would such a guy turn down this opportunity to come. And when he shows up the next day, remember what she said about not bothering to turn up? Yeah. That. This is when Tomoko proceeds to tell him about the human weapon thingy. Yeah. Now she can lay bare the plot she spent the whole night piecing together! Believing her epic life is about to begin, she leaves him with that ambiguous answer to come or not tomorrow. Because if he does, she’ll be waiting for him to threaten and shoot him! However it is the gym teacher who came. He must have realized the key is missing. Tomoko stays silent till he leaves. Not to worry. She still has the key. She waits but Aomori never showed up. The day is about to end and as she leaves, she realizes the door is locked. It can only be unlocked from the inside. Oh sh*t. Don’t panic yet. She’s going to call home. Dead battery. FFFFFUUUUUUU!!!!! Time to panic. She tries to break the door down and even shoots at it (those are just pellets). Somebody, please notice her! Now already in full panicking mode, she fears her corpse will only be found weeks later. Somebody, SOMEBODY! HELP!!! Thankfully the gym teacher was still around as he could hear her pathetic screaming. He reprimands a snotty cry-baby but relieved Tomoko. They’ll talk tomorrow at the teacher’s office. Now that Tomoko has remembered this stupid memory, she notes she has never seen Aomori again after that. She thinks if she did, she will not be intimidated as she believes he is younger than her. In fact, Aomori is in the same class as Tomoki and they even went to the same middle school. After that accidental bump, Tomoko continues her monologue that she wouldn’t want to see him again because talking about that stupid episode would be more mortifying than her former dream job that Yuu reminded her about. Ooooh. I wonder what it is.

The Great Pretender
Oh, Tomoko, my dear Tomoko… That was just so awful that it was so damn funny! So I see your life has been screwed since back in middle school and it was your own doing! You reap what you sow. Haha. A good lesson to learn but I doubt that she has learnt anything seeing her character is still the same in the TV series. At least we know that her delusions of having an exciting life go way back here and could be even way before. Well, at least we know she is trying her best and persevering hard to be the girl she wants to be even though if we can’t approve her methods or know beforehand it would be a sure fail. But seriously, cooking up stories to impress? Who would believe that? I think Aomori would for that moment. Sometimes I feel like wanting to tell Tomoko that she is better the way she as herself is instead of pretending to be somebody else. But will we have all the great laughs if she changes? So for better or worse, keep doing what you are doing, girl.

By itself, this OVA doesn’t disappoint since it brings out the funny moments and the grand delusions that we are all too familiar with Tomoko. I thought they were going to start something new when they introduced a new character. Although it feels that Aomori may not have contributed much (though, an ‘important’ part in one of Tomoko’s many failed delusions), but in a way he too is pretty similar to Tomoko as he wanted a new life rather than his existing uneventful one. The only difference is that he isn’t desperate. Or stubborn if you are looking for another better word for Tomoko’s case. I guess people are like that. They yearn for something to happen or things they don’t have only to regret it later. I think it is a blessing in disguise that Aomori never had to go through all that because nothing good can come out if you’re involved with Tomoko, right? So I suppose instead of turning into some cool hero, he accepts and continues his boring life and at most ponder about the events that could have happened. Perhaps this is for the best. Play it safe. Some things are better off remained as a mystery, an enigma.

It also occurred to me how people see things differently through their eyes. Actually I know about this but watching this OVA just made me remember this fact. Because from Aomori’s view, Tomoko looked like some cool dark beauty but in reality we know how she looks like. I don’t know how he sees her like that but I think that Tomoko is made into such a ‘beauty’ (aside of the fact it was to serve as a troll for the first half of the show) was because he really wanted to believe in her. Because it is hard to take someone who looks like a clown, right? So with his own stereotypes, he might have seen Tomoko in a different light. And thus his serious pondering and contemplation of who this mysterious girl is and what could have been if he had stepped into her world.

I don’t know if they’re really hinting that there is a second season or it could be just Tomoko getting ahead of herself. I’d really wish for one seeing I am such a sadist to see Tomoko fail in life because I am very much like her and can relate to the things she do. Although I am not a desperate case like her and would rather keep a low profile. Too bad that Yuu and Kii-chan don’t get more screen time and therefore the reason why I thought their short appearance in the trolling beginning was for. Hopefully it would materialize because it would help Tomoko get popular and achieve her dream, right? So people, start buying the DVDs and support Tomoko in her quest to become popular! Or else she’ll blame it on you all and society for not making her a YouTube or social media sensation. And even God for the kind of life she is living. Yeah. It is always everyone’s fault except your own.

Rokujouma No Shinryakusha

February 1, 2015

You know what they say about a property that is hot and in demand. It’s all about location, location and nothing but location! How bad do you want it that you won’t have others with the same interest to have it? Rokujouma No Shinryakusha may not be about people at each other’s throats over some piece of property but it gets pretty close. Because there is this room in some apartment that everyone from all parties involved would love to get their hands on. There is something about this room. It’s not like it is sitting on prime land or something. It’s not like its located right smack in some hot location whatsoever. It’s not like there is some historical or monetary value either. Nobody is giving way. Nobody is giving up. The standoff continues. So when you have an ordinary high school student, a ghost, a magical girl, an intergalactic princess and an underground priestess fighting over a room, it could be something much deeper than what it seems.

Episode 1
Koutarou Satomi is glad to have found an apartment with cheap monthly rentals and no other sort of deposits. Corona Apartments is run by Shizuka Kasagi who is the same age as him. While doing some excavation job with his friend, Kenji Matsudaira AKA Makkenji, he believes the apartment is haunted, the reason why it is cheap. Even so, Koutarou won’t give it up as he doesn’t want to financially burden his dad. A misstep causes Koutarou to fall into a caved in ground. He sees some altar and some goddess who claims to have waited endless days and nights to see him. Once they reach out to each other, Koutarou finds himself in hospital and only a little bandage patch on his head as injury. At school, he is eager to join the knitting club whom Harumi Sakuraba is the president. When he returns home, he sees this girl in his room eagerly to spook him away. She is surprised he can see and touch her. After he kicks her out, he is shocked to see her walking through the door! Sanae Higashihongan is a ghost and wants him to leave this room because she claims it is hers. Not a chance! She starts throwing things but thankfully all those sacred items and charms Koutarou’s grandma sent him keeps her at bay. Suddenly a magical girl, Yurika Nijino crashes in. Clumsy and ditzy, she warns this room has the potential of attracting evil magical girls due to some large magic and wants them to get away from here. They kick her out and resume their bout. But since she is crying annoyingly outside, they call it a truce and let this cosplayer in. Then out from the ground comes a busty miko priestess, Kiriha Kurano and her haniwa doll familiars, Karama and Korama. She is and earthling. No, not planet Earth. She’s from the underground tribe. Because this room is located on some important shrine, she wants him to vacate it so she can rebuild it. Here are a bunch of gold bars as compensation. Koutarou agrees to this deal! Anybody is set for life with this generous amount. Till Kiriha decides to put her next plan of Earth invasion forward! The deal is off! He won’t hand her this room. In that case, she starts seducing him. Can he resist the temptation?

The lights then go out. What now? Out comes from a futuristic portal is some alien princess warrior, Theiamillia Gre Fortorthe or Theia for short. Because Koutarou accidentally got his hands over her little boobs and then mention there is nothing to feel, she gets insulted and calls forth her Blue Knight to blast everything! Kiriha’s barriers did well to protect but how long can they last from those lasers? Then, Sanae flips up her skirt to reveal her bear print panties. She is so mad that she orders Blue Knight to transform into its final mode for ultimate annihilation! Till her servant-cum-adviser, Ruthkhania Nye Pardomshiha AKA Ruth lectures her about treaty violation and bringing shame upon her mother’s name. Little princess gives up. And now Shizuka comes in. She is appalled to see the room in a big mess. She blows her top and beats up everyone! Clearly she is the strongest and the one with most authority and power, right? Let this be a warning if they ever do this again, she’ll make them really regret it. Learning that all of them want to have this room, she tells them to settle it peacefully or else she will give them find eternal peace right now. Better do what she says if you know what is good for you. She makes them sign a treaty called Corona Treaty.

Episode 2
Everyone explains why they want this room. Including Theia who is undergoing trial to claim her empire’s throne. She must have people in a randomly chosen territory swear loyalty to her. And everyone believes Yurika just wants to have some cosplay party… It is suggested that they divide the room into 6 equal parts with the sixth one being neutral. They will play games 5 times a day and each has a turn to pick what they want to play. As each space they own correspond to points, the loser will have to give the winner some of their points and the one ending up losing all their points will be out of the race to claim the room. Yurika thought she is best in playing trumps but she loses badly. In the end, Yurika is the biggest space loser while Kiriha is in the lead. Kiriha and Theia have their place to return to. Yurika? She sleeps in his closet! Koutarou seems to be able to sleep through all that ghastly noise Sanae makes. He thinks she was trying to wake him up since he is late for school. She flusters a little thinking she just sent him off to school. Kiriha sends her dolls to spy on him at school and since he mentions he needs to relax more, when he comes home she acts like his housewife and makes delicious dinner. Sanae wants to posses Koutarou so she can taste it. Why him? She doesn’t want to owe others since they have a truce. He is ready for the possession and it seems she is just hugging on to his back. WTF. And nobody cares about poor Yurika… Since she’s such a pitiful state, might as well invite her to join in.

As they play more games, Yurika continues to lose more space. First casualty? Kiriha and Theia are suspicious with each other as they have been nice to Koutarou like as though they have something planned up their sleeves. If invading rooms wasn’t enough, here comes to girls invading Koutarou’s high school! They are transfer students in his class! Except maybe for Sanae who is just hanging around him like a ghost. While Kiriha, Theia and Ruth do well in blending and acting, Yurika is the same typical loser self. Theia and Ruth run into a bunch of delinquents but some girls take them away. This gives Theia an idea. Yurika gets a letter from Koutarou to meet. She thinks he finally believes her. When she gets there, a group of girls surround her. They have heard from Koutarou and they call her their comrade. They are fellow cosplayers! NOOOOO!!!! Koutarou, you meanie! He isn’t regretting a bit because this would mean Yurika will be out of the picture. Ironically despite being tired, Yurika makes a comeback in her trump card games and regains most of her lost space. Theia then throws a tantrum that she is bored because they’re always playing the same trump cards whenever it’s Yurika’s turn. Since now it is Kiriha’s turn, she suggests an obstacle course sanctioned by the school. Koutarou and Theia get fired up and from their maniacal laughter, they think they are invincible in stamina and endurance.

Episode 3
Koutarou is going to confess to Sakuraba… Please go out with him… For the obstacle race! Disappointed? As club members race in pairs and to be fair to Sanae, she can pick anyone to represent her. She picks Koutarou. Kiriha has joined the track and field club. She has her dolls scout for anybody stronger and faster and to prepare the funds too. Theia has subdued the delinquents under her. All hail to the princess! Ruth detects unidentified scouts doing reconnaissance on the school grounds so Theia orders them to be intercepted. Blue Knight versus Karama and Korama. Their big battle of science and magic end up taking each other out. On race day, the moment it starts, a pile of students seem to purposely trip to block the path. Seems they have been bought by Kiriha as she makes a great lead. The rest won’t be cowed and climb over the human wall to resume the race. Koutarou steps over several guys for that. Yurika and Sakuraba are probably propping up the back of the pack. As they meet, Yurika is being pessimistic and about to give in. Till Sakuraba gives her some words of encouragement to go on. They make friends and run together. At the balancing beam obstacle, the guys who stepped on want some revenge. They think Makkenji did it and go after him. As they fall off the beam, a bomb explodes! Seems Theia and the delinquent boss planted mines around! And when everybody starts falling off… The biggest boom ever! Sakuraba suddenly collapses. Yurika panics but uses every ounce of her magical girl power (and some hero in her vision) to heal her back to normal. Koutarou is in the lead but passes out on the final obstacle. This allows Theia and Kiriha to catch up. In the scavenger hunt, they are to find each other’s bra size. The battle for the busts begins. At this rate it will be a draw. Yurika and Sakuraba arrive. Yurika believes she has lost because she needs to find a friend. Sakuraba points out one is standing right next to her. In exchange, she needs to help her bring hers: A fellow club member. And so, Yurika, Sakuraba and unconscious Koutarou cross the finish line to win the race. Thus this means in the match for the room, Koutarou, Yurika and Sanae won while Kiriha and Theia the losers. All is not fine yet because mad Shizuka is going to teach Theia a lesson for putting mines in the obstacle! Likewise, Makkenji and the guys have a bone to pick with Koutarou. The run for the duo continues…

Episode 4
Ruth wins the grand prize for a trip for 6 at some shady shopping district raffles. Guess who are the usual suspects coming on this trip? But even if you count in Shizuka, there are 7 of them. Does this mean Yurika will be left out? Kiriha believes they still can go because Sanae is a ghost and nobody but them can see her. After shopping for swimsuits (I’m not sure if Kiriha is intimidating everyone by showing off her assets), they head to the beach inn. So rundown… Furthermore, the room that everyone will be cramping in is the same size as the room in Corona Apartments. It’s like they’ve never left home, eh? Shizuka has brought lots of old stuffs left behind from someone from Corona Apartments (Sanae?). At the beach, Koutarou bumps into those Yurika’s cosplay club members. They note it is a coincidence that Sakuraba is here too because she has a villa here. When all the girls are ready to show off their swimsuit to Koutarou, that guy ignores them because his eyes are fixated on Sakuraba in a lovely white summer gown. And so all the jealous girls go bury him in the sand while they play in the beach. However seeing Sakuraba lending her umbrella to give Koutarou’s head some head makes them even more jealous. Time to play smash the watermelon. A watermelon right next to his head. Oh God. Do they really want to kill him? Suddenly a pair of shady MIBs (from the shopping district) tries to kidnap Sanae and Theia. The lolicons are quickly intercepted and got buried in the sand. Tide is coming… As the girls soak in the hotspring, Theia further explains her reason to get that room because in a way to help protect her mom. Sanae’s goal is something similar too. She hopes to wait for her parents’ return in that room. Yurika adds to her story that she owes somebody her life, the reason she needs that room. That person risked their life to save her and thus she is acting like a magical girl for that person. In short, nobody is going to give up getting that room. That night, Koutarou toss and turns and accidentally hugs Ruth. However he thinks she is some beetle and this pisses her off. He is made to apologize but because he continues ranting about beetles, Ruth takes it as an insult he likes beetles more than her! He is kicked out of the room and as he strolls along the shores, he talks to Kiriha. Sanae tries to surprise Koutarou but the charms he is wearing zap her. She takes it as a sign he hates her and thus wants her out of the room. Their relationship takes a turn for the worse as she continues sulking. Their argument escalates when they are reminded they are enemies for the room. Sanae runs away. Fly away, rather.

Episode 5
As Sanae sulks alone at the beach, she is captured by those MIBs. They are ghost hunters and with the help of a ghost lady, they are going to sell Sanae. Yurika sees this and feels the need to get help. Unfortunately her cosplay friends kidnap her. Sanae refuses to be sold but the ghost lady asks if there is any place she can call home. Corona Apartments. But do those people really want her? Because who wants to live with a ghost? Why do humans sell charms? Ghosts and humans can never live together. So convincing her words that Sanae falls into depression believing her. Koutarou is looking for Sanae but bumps into Sakuraba and talks to her about the problem. As he is in a dilemma, she then says that even though they are in the same club, they are strangers. She asks did he come all the way here to look for a stranger. Koutarou remembers all the times they spent together and knows the answer. He continues looking but finds Yurika being tied up like a roast pig. He learns what she saw. Too bad saving Sanae takes more priority than saving her from her cosplay mates! Koutarou tells the other girls and with some ghost locater in Shizuka’s junk and the dolls’ scanning help, they track Sanae’s location. The ghost lady continues to put in more depressing thoughts in Sanae’s mind that humans and ghosts are enemies. She understands how she feels because she went through the process of waiting for someone she cared a long time ago but was betrayed.

Koutarou and co barge into some abandoned mansion and fight their way through the traps to reach where Sanae is. The ghost hunters don’t think they’re breaking any law. Any law states that it’s a crime to kidnap ghosts? But the laws of Earth don’t really apply to aliens and underground people, right? Furthermore, Sanae is like family. The ghost hunters set loose their ghost familiars to keep them at bay. Because Sanae continues to believe them after seeing how hard they are fighting for her, the ghost lady gets upset thinking she too will betray her. She summons all the ghost familiars to combine into a giant phantom and is devours Sanae. Koutarou notices a charm he can use and strikes through the phantom. Yurika who happened to escape from her cosplay fanatics arrive in time to amplify Koutarou’s charm. Wouldn’t this charm kill Sanae too? He knows she isn’t a weak ghost and his won’t hurt her. He throws it through the phantom, dissipating it and saving Sanae. The charm falls into her hands and it doesn’t hurt because it is a charm for family safety. She remembers the times spent together and starts crying. They may be enemies but still much more. The other girls accuse Koutarou of making her cry. Kiriha rounds up the ghost hunters. In the aftermath, Sanae happily haunts Koutarou. They’re enemies, right? Oh, she’s wearing the charm too.

Episode 6
Koutarou desperately pleads from the girls for their help to write a play for the cultural festival. Makkenji is in the theatre club and they have no idea what to do this year. He even teased Koutarou had no talent in something like this and thus the challenge. Of course the girls won’t be doing it for free. He will offer his space points for those who participate and even more if their script is chosen. The girls agree to do so as they have their reasons. Because Yurika is helping to take care of a club member’s pet rhinoceros beetle, this irks Koutarou a lot because you know what will happen when Ruth finds out about it, right? They have to hide it whenever Ruth is around. Even at night, Yurika bugs Koutarou because the beetle is making sounds like a cockroach and she couldn’t sleep. Just for this once, he lets her sleep in his room and leaves the beetle in the closet. A month later, the theatre club chooses Theia’s script as the best. Because this sci-fi romance flick, The Silver Princess and the Blue Knight are based on the great legends that their people adore especially the former being her mother. Koutarou and Yurika are the biggest sulkers… Theia also helps out in the casting and although she is fine with Makkenji casted as Blue Knight, she will not compromise the role of Silver Knight. Koutarou has brought in Sakuraba just for that role. He helps her out although she has a hard time trying to get into the role as she doesn’t understand her character’s feelings. Theia seems to be in trouble with some huge bundle and it turns out to be props. When Koutarou helps her out, he reminds her so much like Blue Knight. Sakuraba’s acting takes a turn for the worst and Theia is furious about the quality of the portrayal. Koutarou thinks she is just tired from her first rehearsal and suggests temporarily taking over Makkenji’s role to lessen the effect as she has been practising with him. They can slowly put Makkenji back in when she is more familiar. With Koutarou in that role, Sakuraba’s acting is top notch so much so Theia almost sees the real legend unfolding before her eyes. Kiriha then suggests Koutarou to swap roles with Makkenji. It’s just faster that way. Since everyone has no objections, it’s on. Koutarou couldn’t believe he just landed himself a harder role.

Episode 7
Theia gets tough trying to nail in the finer points of being a knight to Koutarou who amazingly posses the same physiques as Blue Knight. He heard Theia and Ruth talking about some space-time quake disturbance. They believe another Fortorthean ship appeared near this planet and could be from Calriossa Daora Fortorthe AKA Clan. She is second crown princess of the empire and you can tell they always butt heads. But how sure are they it is her? They suspect it might be her signature stealth ship, Rougetsu. While Yurika and Sanae are feeding the beetle, Ruth sees it. Thankfully she doesn’t know what a beetle looks like… As Koutarou continues to rehearse with Sakuraba, Theia and Kiriha feel watching Koutarou reminds them of something similar. It’s like that guy said the same thing before. A light drops on Theia but Koutarou saves her in time. Theia is concerned when he sustains light injuries and confuses him with Blue Knight. The rest of the other girls are told about Clan. But Theia thinks something is off because if Clan was trying to get rid of her, she wouldn’t leave any evidence behind. If their home world gets word of this she will automatically be excised from her right to the throne. Everyone works hard for the festival. One night, Yurika and Ruth watch a tokusatsu TV show that uses beetles as its theme. It is then Ruth realizes what a rhinoceros beetle looks like. She is going to kill it! Yurika runs away with it with her life and hides in the school’s gym storeroom. Ruth returns to normal when she sees Koutarou acting out like Blue Knight on stage.

Suddenly Clan appears before them. Seems she has been taking her time to build weapons with materials from this planet, which doesn’t violate whatever rule. She challenges Theia to fight her. Koutarou feels something is wrong. He recognizes as one of the mysterious club members bumming around. She was hiding her existence but why risk it now? Then he realizes it. She is trying to provoke Theia into using her weapon. Because all the while she has been setting up traps in the gym that if a weapon is activated, a bomb will go off. Koutarou manages to make Theia shut her Blue Knight off and push her away from the explosion. Koutarou then becomes like the real Blue Knight before Theia’s eyes as he takes on Clan. Although his sword is believed to be a replica, however it shines brightly like the real deal. With Sanae flipping up Clan’s skirt (kitty print panties?), Koutarou is able to break through her barrier. Clan then summons Rougetsu to attack him. However she forgot about the trap she set and almost exploded herself. In the aftermath of the explosion, Clan got away but Theia won’t go after her. Koutarou feels sorry the sword broke but since he still doesn’t understand what a spirit of a knight is, this upsets Theia and she is going to train him all over again. Reliving hell, isn’t he? Clan is hiding in the nearby gym storage and as a sore loser she won’t accept this loss. She is about to counterattack when Yurika drops on her. Well, well. What an unlikely heroine. Unaware what is happening, Yurika casts some spell on her and pretends nothing happened. The festival went out without a hitch and Clan is reported to have returned home. When Koutarou is asleep, Theia conducts the ritual of knighting him to allow him to bear the title of Blue Knight.

Episode 8
Maki Aika, another magical girl has found Yurika and will get her revenge. Nobody still believes Yurika is a real magical girl. What a great back story! Yeah… When Maki becomes a transfer student in Koutarou’s class, Yurika is glad to see her and introduces her as the evil magical girl! WTF?! Aren’t they supposed to be enemies? Of course they think she’s got a real friend who is willing to play along with her story. Maki then confronts Yurika about her underhanded tactics and great planning to keep her at bay. I think dumb Yurika never planned all that… Maki mentions about their feud centuries ago and since her wound she got from Nana, Yurika’s predecessor has healed, they’re going to settle it for real this time. For a start, she joins the cosplay club. Later Sakuraba meets up with Yurika and it seems she wants to get closer to Koutarou! For real?! Yes, she is serious! Yurika suggests she go on a date and they can start with a group date. When Yurika returns home, she is devastated to see everyone holding a welcoming party for Maki. She tries to convince everyone to kick her out but I guess nobody believes her. For that moment, Koutarou saw the seriousness in her eyes and is about to talk to her but Makkenji comes in with lots of rhinoceros beetle themed snacks. Oh God. Ruth going berserk! So while they calm her down, nobody is going to listen to Yurika. She talks to Sakuraba about it and she advises her if she wants to convince everyone, do it with actions and not words. Next day Yurika leaves for her inevitable battle with Maki at some abandoned building. At the same time, Maki confronts Sakuraba. Kiriha’s dolls report that they saw Yurika leaving in her cosplay outfit. Skipping school for this? Something is wrong. Koutarou will find her and with Sanae’s help to trace her scent, they enter a building laced with some barrier. Sanae wasn’t able to enter but with Koutarou tugging her hand, she manages to. They see the battle raging on as Maki believes Koutarou to be some evolved mage with a ghost familiar. Maki throws her magic at Yurika but Koutarou saves her. This surprises Maki because that great light of his nullified her magic and he did it without a staff or incantation. Maki then summons Sakuraba who is under her control. As hostage, they can’t do anything reckless. She throws all the stones at them so Yurika creates a magic shield to protect them. Now you believe she is a real magical girl? They are about to attack her simultaneously but Maki aims her magic at Sakuraba. Yurika teleports before her and once she gets hit, she turns unconscious.

Episode 9
Yurika starts to emit some light and in turn temporarily turns Sakuraba in that goddess and gives Koutarou a sword. Maki is forced to flee after tasting his power and believes if she wants to defeat him, she must obtain that power from that room. Sakuraba wakes up fine but doesn’t have memories of what happened after Yurika fell. Yurika too wakes up and nothing much serious. Meanwhile the play on Silver Knight and Blue Knight was popular enough to warrant a sequel. Thus Theia has been working on the script to further the plot but gets flustered about thinking if they ever kissed. Because she might need to guide him how to do it. Really? Maki is back at that room as she analyzes the magic here. She believes this is the power source for his sword and is going to control it to gain advantage. Yurika explains her real back story. She was attacked by a beast and Nana saved her. She became her apprentice although Nana forbade her to fight so she helped out with preparing meals and research. Eight months ago, Yurika become hostage to a dark magical group that Maki belongs. Nana released all her magic to defeat Maki and co but once she does that, she is no longer able to use magic. She did it to protect her. The staff and outfit Yurika dons belong to her. Yurika needs to do what Nana was supposed to do. As he carries her back, he is starting to believe she is a magical girl. It’s not that he didn’t want to believe, he wanted to think of her as a normal girl. He wanted her to be a normal classmate and can go through things without anything major happening. Perhaps a normal classmate with an abnormal fetish for cosplay. He thinks fighting doesn’t suit her.

Once Maki absorbs some of the magic in the room that she believes is also part of the magic kingdom, Koutarou and Yurika barge in to fight her. Herald all the ‘awesome’ magical girl terms and incantation in this power battle. Maki is able to maximise her magic and defeat them. Before she lands the last blow, Kiriha’s magic stops her. The other girls are here too. Seems Yurika has made a hole in the barrier to let them through. Theia orders Blue Knight to rain down laser beams on her as Maki have a hard time defending herself. Now she is going to unleash the main cannon for her. Isn’t this going too far even if Theia wants to punish Maki for hurting her knight? Is she willing to destroy Corona Apartments for that? Speaking of which, it is messed up and Shizuka is real mad. Who is the culprit? Maki. Faster than a speeding bullet, Shizuka beats up Maki before she can even react! Oh sh*t. You don’t mess with the dorm lady! No chance of winning, Maki unleashes some magic that allows her to escape. But the most frustrating point is that everyone lost their recent memories. This means they think Yurika is an obsessed cosplayer! Maki returns to her dark group to report about Yurika having allies and that they must be wary of Koutarou. They praise her for deciphering the magic code in that room and did her best when they couldn’t act yet. Maki is sad that she had to sacrifice her staff in exchange for their memories. She is given another mission to gather more info without attracting attention. Maki now has a personal grudge on Koutarou and vows to take him down herself. Sakuraba goes out on a group date with Yurika, Koutarou and Makkenji. Koutarou notices Yurika feeling down. She reveals that just when she thought people finally understood her, she is back to square one again. What will it takes to make him believe she is a magical girl? She doesn’t need to do anything. After witnessing how she saved Sakuraba (although he can’t remember when), he doesn’t care if she is a magical girl or cosplayer. He knows she is a good person who helps others. So when she says she is a magical girl, that is good enough for him. But he would prefer her to be a cosplayer as he is worried about her using her magic. Because sun and rainbows suit her. But who should he consider her now? His classmate and freeloader living in his room.

Episode 10
A group of teens of the Sun Squad are just idling around. Some wondering if this job has its purpose while some remain hopeful. Suddenly an emergency alert from Professor Roppongi that the earth people have begun their invasion! Kiriha asks the gang to help her out in some local hero show. Theia wants in since it would mean giving more knight training to Koutarou for the sequel. Oh, the trauma… But since Sakuraba is also roped in, I guess all is not that bad. With Ruth as the host, Koutarou is one of the bad guys and takes Sakuraba as hostage. The kids can tell Sakuraba has that happy look on her face… Suddenly the Sun Squad drops in. How come all of them are wearing red? Budget constraints? So much so this pisses off Koutarou as he tells them off! Even the kids agree! As the show continues, the Sun Squad wonders if there was a mistake since this was just a hero show and not an invasion. At the backstage, they start to ponder who those Sun Squad guys are. Couldn’t be from the neighbourhood association. Cosplay club? Nah. They wouldn’t make such a crucial mistake. It could be the volunteers of the cleaning squad who have been helping out in lots of events. On the way back, they see Kiriha and her fellow priestesses sweeping the streets. Sanae is alerted because she thinks her friends have come to invade Earth. So how do you invade the surface via sweeping?

That night, Kiriha reports her status to her chief who is also her dad. Seems Plan A of being welcomed in the neighbourhood after participating in various activities is going on smoothly but Plan B is behind schedule since that room in Corona Apartments is being targeted by many parties. Daddy also reports the unrest of radicals especially Tayuma Shijima. They are advocating using brute force and thus the need to advance Plan B. Looks like Kiriha will have to take that room by force. He also suggests for her to return and get married to solidify their base and grow their influence on the radicals. However she can’t. Not just yet. Koutarou notices Sakuraba looking happy. I know she’s happy being next to him during the hero show… She also says that she is happy to help out and that she felt like being part of the neighbourhood. This rings something to Koutarou. As he heads home, he joins Kiriha doing her shopping around the neighbourhood and observes that everyone is friendly with her. Then he asks her if she is really planning to invade Earth. Because it is like she’s trying to become part of this town. She’s too kind to be an invader. What if it’s to gain their trust? He thinks she doesn’t want him to trust her. She requests for his time no his day off. And as the duo head off to town, the rest of the other girls become really suspicious because it looks like they are a couple on a date. Do I smell jealousy rearing its ugly head? Except for Shizuka who has work, the rest are going to tail them. Meanwhile the Sun Squad are left to wonder if that invasion was false alert when Roppongi sounds the alert again. It’s for real this time because the signals are much stronger!

Episode 11
Kiriha brings Koutarou to an amusement park where she once patron 10 years ago with a guy she loves. They sit several rides as this brings back nostalgic memories to her while the quartet follow them real closely. Then Ruth seemingly goes missing because there is a hero show with the rhinoceros beetle theme! Oh no… She barges into the show to whack everyone! Thankfully one of the heroes is Shizuka (her part time job) and she is able to fend Ruth’s attacks. In the Ferris Wheel, Kiriha explains everything. She got into a fight with her dad 10 years ago and ran away from home. At the same time she lost her mother. That’s where she met that guy she used to call onii-chan at this park. She cannot remember his name or face but is about her age now back then. They had lots of memories here. Then she was taken back underground and hasn’t seen him since. When there are plans to invade the surface, she volunteered to be commander in hopes she could find him. Of course she was in a catch-22 situation. If she had successfully taken that room, a war would erupt. This would give credit to radicals to advocate military action. She didn’t want to drag this town where she met him into a war. If she foregoes invasion of that room, the radicals will take action on their own. That’s why she can’t win or lose that room and Koutarou must maintain control over that room till she achieves peaceful invasion of this town. Koutarou is glad things are cleared and still notes she is too kind to be an invader. Ruth wakes up without any memories (please don’t remind her what happened) probably thanks to the help of the dolls putting a stop to her rampage.

As Kiriha is about to ride a roller coaster she loves, an earthquake occurs. Not your usual earthquake because a subterranean submarine pops up from the ground. They are the underground radicals led by Tayuma. Looks like this guy wants to start a war by sacrificing her and telling the chief she was betrayed and killed by surface dwellers. He summons his giant golem to fight, Jack-O. He is going to destroy everything when Koutarou lands a punch on his face. He tells him off this is a place where people make memories. He won’t be able to invade if he doesn’t understand that. Kiriha understands. That’s why she is trying to merge the surface with this town. It’s not about weapons but about the mind and heart. Tayuma is unconcerned and beats him up. Thankfully backup help of the other girls arrive. Tayuma turns Jack-O into its other form. Multiple mini clones? During the smoke bomb trap, Sanae latches onto Koutarou so he can see where Tayuma is and subdue him. Surrender? Not quite. He is going to sacrifice everything just for war and sets Jack-O to explode. Now, if you’re wondering why Yurika has been missing all the while, it is because she has been using her magic to protect this entire amusement park. So when Jack-O explodes, no damage was to its surrounding. Unsung hero she is. Tayuma still doesn’t give in so Kiriha knocks her out. She detests violence but will resort to it to protect those she cares. In the aftermath, the submarine returns and Kiriha knows the government will find a way to cover this up as their existence is known to them. Kiriha laments she’ll have to go on that roller coaster ride another time. However Koutarou thinks she should go with that guy she loves. In fact, he is willing to help her find him. They’re friends, right? Finally, if you’re wondering why the Sun Squad are no show, they’re nitpicking several details like the same coloured suit and they don’t believe Roppongi. Yeah. The invasion signal’s gone…

Episode 12
Christmas is coming soon. As usual, the girls talk about it. The romance, the presents, the cake, etc. Seems Koutarou has his own plans. Sakuraba catches him working part time in town for extra cash and helps out. The other girls find out and because he is being secretive about it, Makkenji thinks he must be saving up to go date a girl. So they confront him about it and he doesn’t reveal much. Kiriha jumps the gun saying that they are going on a date together on Christmas. However everyone is sharp enough to know it’s a lie. Yeah. Been with each other for quite a while. Of course Koutarou’s plan is to throw a surprise party for everyone at his knitting club’s room. He makes preparations with Sakuraba and since there is short of manpower, he enlists Makkenji’s help and hopes he would keep it a secret from the other girls but get them to come when the time is right. Suddenly Sakuraba informs Koutarou of a big problem. Other clubs are partying hard in the clubroom. They somehow got permission for this. She suggests holding it back in his room. Great idea. Seems this is plan has been setup by Shizuka and Makkenji too. As Koutarou rushes back, he thinks back how he met those invading girls the first time and how much they have grown since. Once he steps into his room, the girls pop a surprise Christmas party for him! Surprise! Seems they have figured out his real plan a long time ago not because Makkenji betrayed him but rather they asked him first to help out. Shizuka was responsible for bringing those other club guys into the clubroom and she got a little help from Sakuraba. It’s like Koutarou is the only one left out in the cold, eh? Everyone had a fun little Christmas party as Koutarou notes that everyone successfully invaded his heart. As Koutarou walks Sakuraba home, he gives her a present. A handmade knitted scarf. I’m not sure if this is for real or they’re just acting out as the play because in a different light, Sakuraba looks a bit like the Silver Princess as she hands her knight a sword (a little present) that he shall use to protect her life from enemies. We hear the goddess’ voice telling us Koutarou hasn’t remembered yet but it is okay since he has places to go and people to meet. Then after the endless days and night, they can meet again. Koutarou and the gang practice and work hard for the play and they’re confident they’re going to make this one great.

Room Raiders!
Well, I guess that pretty rounds it up. I am not sure if I should call the plot lost or anything because in the end I am not really sure where this is heading. It started off fine introducing us to all the parties trying to claim the room for themselves. Soon that will be casted aside and the series shifts quickly into focusing on the girls and their issues in which Koutarou will have a hand in it. Since it is double episodes per girl, that already takes up 2/3 of the series. Finally it ends with a lukewarm Christmas episode where everybody gets together and it just ends without resolving anything. Hardly exciting but I suppose perhaps there is nothing to resolve. Because nobody is making a big fuss in claiming the room anymore. It’s like everybody is happy sharing it and having fun times together. I think this is the best solution. I mean just like Koutarou pointed out, instead of invading the room, the hearts have been invaded and when you have that conquered, everything is somewhat resolved. So can you not say that this ending (if this is what it seems now) is the best solution?

There is something about Koutarou that would make you think and ponder who this dude really is. Because it is like he is connected to all the invader girls one way or another. It is like as though he could transcend time and space as a certain main character in each of the girl’s life has a very similar resemblance to Koutarou. From Blue Knight to Kiriha’s first love. They look and sound suspiciously the same. Then he seems to possess some sort of mysterious power especially that white light that he emits during times of emergency. So who is he actually? Curious. Is it because he could display such powers after that archaeology accident? Once the series starts moving, quickly we forget about that goddess meeting thingy and even though it doesn’t seem to have any great bearings on the series overall, something tells me that it will play a major role and revelation as it progresses. Well, if we get another season, that is. So as far as of now, Koutarou may be just an ordinary high school student and despite his initial vehement stance of not allowing anyone to claim this room, I suppose that just like any other guys, he has a nice side and it would be bad if the sole guy kicks out girls, right?

There are romance and harem factors involved but from the pacing of the story, it feels that it isn’t quite there yet. As we can tell that all our invader girls in their own ways take a liking for Koutarou because, well, he is such a nice guy after all despite all that rivalry. Because if they don’t really care, they wouldn’t have minded so much when Koutarou seemingly accompanied Kiriha on their ‘date’. Following like stalkers with the goal of ‘preventing something shameful from happening’ tells a lot. Therefore the romance department in some ways feel lacking and leaves more to be desired. Theia can be a classic tsundere and that scene of her being bothered about the kiss even though it is just a play proves otherwise. Yurika might claim Koutarou has Sakuraba but that feels like an excuse to cover up her own feelings. Same case I feel for Ruth since it’s like she’s using betraying as a knight of Theia as an excuse. Then there is Sanae who is more sisterly but it feels it could go beyond that. Kiriha is the boldest of them all if you consider the race to Koutarou’s heart but she could be substituting him as her past lover. Or is it? I won’t discount Shizuka too but the way they interact with each other feels more like in the friend zone. Of course Sakuraba will always be the girl occupying Koutarou’s heart (and the biggest source of jealousy for the other girls) but since they are both somewhat shy in expressing their feelings directly to each other, this might take a while to happen. Therefore in view of all this with nothing set yet, that’s why you have the harem factor, no?

It is nice to see the invader girls each have a couple of episodes in focus although I thought it would be nicer to have one on Shizuka and Sakuraba too. I mean, Shizuka may not be part of the invading ‘contest’ but she is like family and if I should say one of the ‘harem girls’ too, don’t you think? As the landlord, I consider her as the most powerful one even though ironically she doesn’t have super powers or high tech weapons. Just her bare fists and martial arts. You’d be dead getting hit by one of her powerful punches or kicks. Same case for Sakuraba, only difference is that she doesn’t stay in Corona Apartments. Something got me thinking that she might be that goddess in disguise despite her meek behaviour. You know, watching over him and stuffs like that. My guts tell me that having a crush on him is just superficial. On the surface. Her gentleness could be just a facade. Feels that it could be deeper than that. Or maybe it is just me being paranoid and thinking too much.

Sanae feels like the closest to Koutarou because, well, she is always clinging on to him just to experience certain senses like taste. Sometimes the way she clings on to Koutarou makes her look like a tree hugger. Or a koala bear! Yikes! Among the invader girls, Koutarou isn’t directly involved in Sanae’s back story. It could be something to do with her grandma’s charms or something like that but even her own story isn’t much explored compared to the rest. Also, unlike the rest, she has no ‘natural enemies’. Because we certainly haven’t heard the last of Clan, Maki and Tayuma. My guess is that with Koutarou defeating them, they hold personal grudges on him and will find ways to get their revenge. But for now, we see them laying low and just observing till the right moment comes for them to strike again. These antagonists also have interesting backgrounds that are likely to drive, develop and further the plot of each of the girls. So don’t count them out yet.

Although overall still bratty, Theia has grown to be less the more she spends time with Koutarou. Heck, even that guy did mention in the end that he would gladly become her servant! And I think they start respecting each other because if you noticed, Koutarou has stopped calling that degrading nickname of ‘Tulip’ (because she looked like a big flower when Sanae first flipped up and tied up her skirt) and addressed her by her real name. Something about her just screams about the typical stereotype of a flat chest holier-than-thou tsundere. If you can’t help thinking about Zero No Tsukaima’s Louise each time you look at Theia, I don’t blame you. There is something about Ruth and rhinoceros beetles. Yeah. It feels like a running joke that she will automatically go into berserk mode trying to kill them all with a swatter. And when she calms down, she will have no recollection of her rampaging mode.

Kiriha feels like the slyest one among the pack. Because she is the calmest and most composed among the pack, it is hard to figure out what she thinks. Cutting a nice busty figure and with loads of gold, she can snag any guy she wants. Miko priestess is an added bonus for those having such fetish. Her actions prove that you don’t necessarily need to resort to violence for invasion. The best way to win over people and ‘subdue’ them is to win their hearts. Although this method may take a very long time and thus does not sit well for impatient people who wants to be a hero now. Her pair of haniwa dolls is cute enough to be the series’ mascot and could have stolen the limelight if they had more screen time.

Yurika seems to be the clown of the pack and the one whom everyone loves to rebuke and rebuff. Sometimes it makes her like a bully victim and I can’t help feel bad and sympathise for her. Of course we all know from the unofficial pecking order she ranks the lowest and thus prone to such misfortunes and sometimes acts like a retard. Despite all that, Yurika proves to be an unsung hero and have saved the gang on a handful of occasions and in real times of need. Thus she is not all that useless. Just that nobody knows or acknowledges her. And there is this running joke that her crazy cosplay fellows would kidnap her just to make her cosplay something… It is tough being a real magical girl, isn’t it?

Thus the interactions between the characters provide much of the comedy (mainly in the general/common arcs) as well as the drama parts (arcs on the girls). One of my favourite parts is the next episode preview whereby we sometimes see the gang engaging in some little game. Be it volleyball or pirate pop up game, it seems Yurika is always the one who bears the brunt of misfortune. I’m starting to believe it is her destiny… Art and drawing feels decent and no complaints from me while watching the series. The animation is consistent too and if the art style seems pretty familiar, it is because this anime was done by Silver Link who also did Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu, Cube x Cursed x Curious, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya, Tayutama, Seikoku No Dragonar, Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankenai Yo Ne and Nourin among others.

Voice acting is also okay with Yuuichi Nakamura as Koutarou, Yukari Tamura as Clan and Saori Hayami as Ruth (damn, I thought it was Mamiko Noto at first) being recognizable seiyuus. Aoi Yuuki is also recognizable as Korama but I didn’t realize it was Ayana Taketatsu as Karama. Heck, I couldn’t even differentiate which doll is which. Perhaps the only one sounding a bit different in the sense not your typical high pitched squeaky girl is Yurika who is voiced by Nichika Omori (her only other role at this point is Mori Rikimaru of Nobunaga Concerto). I don’t want to go so far to point out Yurika sounds like a retard… Oops… The main casts are relatively new seiyuus like Eri Suzuki as Sanae (Yuu in Ryuugajou Nanana No Maizoukin), Masumi Tazawa as Kiriha, Maria Naganawa as Theia (currently her only other role is a small one in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Baby Zombie – pun not intended) and Akari Kitou doing her debut as Maki. Others include Aya Suzaki as Shizuka (Mako in Kill La Kill), Megumi Takamoto as Sakuraba (Charlotte in Unbreakable Machine Doll), Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Makkenji (Yuuji in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu) and Houchu Ohtsuka as Tayuma (Shiro in Arakawa Under The Bridge).

Kokkan Win-Win Mujouken is the opening theme by Heart Invader, which is basically a group consisting of the female invader quartet of Masumi Tazawa, Maria Naganawa, Eri Suzuki and Nichika Omori. Sounds like a generic all-girl group anime pop. But there is something about the ending theme that attracts me. Is it that jazzy and seemingly nostalgic style of the song? Is it that disco beat and faint samba tune? Is it the enigmatic and dramatic feel of this piece? I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on it. But I seem to like it. Koi Wa Milk Tea is sung by Petit Milady, which is actually a singing unit consisting of Ayana Taketatsu and Aoi Yuuki (so it is the haniwa dolls’ turn to sing this time?). They aren’t formed recently just to sing for this series as they have sung for a couple of anime themes as well like Toaru Hikuushi E No Koiuta and Yugioh Zexal Second. Hearing the full length of this song for the first time, I thought I heard Yukari Tamura’s voice covering it! I guess these girls can sound pretty close if they make that lower voice (as opposed to Yukari Tamura’s trademark cute squeaky voice). Especially Ayana Taketatsu. Maybe I need to get my ears cleaned.

So people, bear in mind that if you are in a tussle for a valuable piece of space, the best way is always diplomacy and ultimately sharing is the next big thing in the way of life. Because there are so many video sharing sites, social media sites and whatever sharing business out there connecting the world and making it smaller. It’s considered bad and rude to hog everything to yourself, right? Like they say, no man is an island. The more the merrier. Sharing is caring. You know, all that load of crap. But of course there are some things that can’t be shared. Like your utmost affection for your one and only true love. No prizes for guessing what will happen if you decide to share the love. That’s why most of us can only dream of only a harem. And lucky guys like Koutarou get to have it in the form of several anime tropes of a ghost, magical girl, intergalactic princess and underground priestess. All he needs now is a maid to complete the line-up ;p.