Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation

October 11, 2015

Here is a fun fact. In the video game genre of shooting games, there are no first person shooters developed by Japanese. Only third person shooters. Okay, so there are first person shooters that the Japanese made but they are so rare, obscure and ‘not popular’, it is as good they do not exist. Can you name a handful of first person shooters made by Japanese companies then? No? Well, neither can I. Anyway, what has this got to do with today’s blog? Well, it isn’t about first or third person shooter games definitely. Having learnt that Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation was recently adapted into an anime series, it brought back this little thought of mine. Not that I happened to play lots of first or third person shooter games (heck, I don’t even play that much games), seeing the last first person shooter I remembered playing was Half-Life! That was ages ago!!! Oh yeah. That felt like a very long time ago. I didn’t read the synopsis when I decided to jump in to watch this anime. I only did when I was halfway through… Because of some ‘obvious reason’…. All I knew was if this game was going to be adapted, hell, there is going to be lots of cool sci-fi gun totting action, right? Well… Let’s say that was the reason why I decided to check out the synopsis halfway through…

Episode 1
Tooru Kazasumi sees a little girl writing rocket scientist equations on the sand. Either she is a genius or this indicates something ominous. See the crows flying about? Yeah. Then he gets shot! By himself! Thank goodness it is just a dream. Or is it? As he heads to school and meets up with fellow classmate, Kyouka Katagiri, there is also her brother whom she is disgusted with, Kyouma and that midget who is always sucking up to his balls, Shizune Rindo. Tooru tells us he hates standing out that is why boring clothes like the rest suits him. He also tells us about the KK Matrix ranking system that determines your best occupation based on your abilities and genes but it is all a lie since if you have got rich parents, you get rank A. Tooru who has none, automatically gets a D. There are rumours that people are being spirited away but you know, Tooru doesn’t give a damn about all that. Then there is that futuristic paintball match during gym class. As expected, Tooru and Kyouma face off with the latter in victory while Kyouka wins her bout against Shizune. Of course the observers look at Tooru’s stats and know he isn’t just your ordinary kid. It’s always like this, isn’t it? After school, Tooru and Kyouka walk back as he tells her about the little girl in his dream. She just looks like the one over there! They feel something is wrong when they see her writing “Help me!” in addition to those equations. She runs away and Tooru chases her to an abandoned side of town. What does it tell you when you see crows ‘bullying’ her? When he catches up to her, she disappears. But the ground gives way and he falls into another dimension, another city, another world. Here, we see weird guys fighting each other with heavy guns and swords. From weird banchou guy to weird kid in a mecha. Tooru falls safely with Kyouka shortly following suit. They wander about in this dark mysterious place and realize the danger there is because there is a fresh bloodied corpse! Before they know it, they have to start running from an enemy who wants to shoot them down. Kyouka gets a little injured and Tooru thinks he can outwit the enemy because this feels like gym class. He is in for a shock when he realizes the enemy looks like him and shares the same name! I am you and you are me…

Episode 2
Tooru is able to do bullet time and dodge his clone’s shot. After Remy Odhner saves Kyouka, she recognizes him as a junior from their school. Meeting up with Tooru, they realize they are in old Japan (modern day to us). Remy brings them back to the lab. Tooru experiences flashbacks of his parents’ funeral. When he wakes up, Xi 988 the robot maid brings him to see Brian Odhner, the supervisor of this lab. In fact, that is just a facade. They are actually researching weapons and the likes as they are fighting a war against… Wait for it… Themselves! It seems Kyouma, Shizune and even their sensei, Olga are in on this. Brian relates the Desert Syndrome whereby people simply just turn into sand. This phenomenon is increasing and happening all over the globe. Of course the higher ups cover it up because those Timekeepers (those crows?) have a list of who is going to turn into sand next and at the exact time! Around 2 years ago, they also warned them about humanity facing destruction this way. So let me get this straight. In order to get the technology to save mankind, they have to play some kind of game with them and only being victorious they would do so? And their opponents are themselves from another universe? And for some reason the battlefield is Japan of 2015. Who writes this crap anyway?! I suppose they have no choice but to play along. This lab also researches some time machine using Timekeepers’ technology. But it is still a mystery how Tooru came here falling from the sky. Also another technology that the Timekeepers gave them was the Energy Cube. Think of it is energy to charge your ray guns. Think you’re good at them? Each battle, the enemy only gets tougher. So if they wish to do the Matrix and join in their cause to save the world, no, they won’t be given any pills but a suitcase with weapons inside that will seal their contract.

I don’t know what Olga’s purpose is because she shows Tooru a live footage of someone degrading into sand right now. It gives the boy trauma. Thankfully Shizune puts a stop to this. As she talks to him, she apologizes on Olga’s actions because despite looking like a teacher, she is actually a wanted terrorist and her elder sister whose real name is Orika! WTF???!!! Then she explains the greatness of Kyouma and she’s not exaggerating it because it is true how Kyouma built this lab and invited Brian to help out. Also, Kyouma personally picked Tooru and it shows how much he thinks highly of him. Really? I thought this guy was just a siscon. Because you know, if Tooru is in, that means Kyouka would follow him too. You get the idea. Shizune doesn’t force him to make a choice. He should do what he wants. As long as she could be of use to Kyouma, she is okay. Later Tooru talks to Kyouka about his parents who died in a traffic accident. When he learnt he could go back to the past, he was happy thinking he could see them again. She notes Tooru didn’t tell them about the girl but he couldn’t give an answer why he wants to help her either. So after lots of thinking and deliberation, Tooru finally opens his suitcase. No turning back now.

Episode 3
Kyouma picks up Tooru in his mini kingdom (his limo) to ask his reason of joining the battle. He knows it is for sure he isn’t going to save the world or protect Kyouka (because that girl also opened her suitcase). He tells him about that girl. Kyouma also knows about it and each time something unusual happens around her, he gets a report and bodyguards will be there to protect her. That girl and other fuzzy image of humans are termed as ghosts and there are many accounts of people reporting them. However Kyouma has never seen this one as clear before. This ghost is the reason why Tooru is fighting as he wants to know more about her. Really? Saving the world sounded much better in this case. Tooru is going to be given training and he is shocked upon seeing Aaron Burroughs. Wasn’t he that first corpse he saw? Well, that is his other clone he killed. Aaron will be his trainer and mentor. Kyouka spars with Remy but she gets overconfident in her win and leaves the fighting field, which is a big no-no because it means you lose. Tooru spars with Shizune and lost. Remy tries to stir up trouble by tossing rocks at them but Tooru’s bullet time reaction kicks in. I don’t know what Brian’s assistant, Kumi Minakata is explaining about this special ability of his to control his location within his time flow. Blah, blah, blah… Whatever. Then the big alert is sounded. Time to play a game with Timekeepers. Kyouma and co transport down to current day Japan. Ah, there are their counterparts. Wow. They look so alike. Oh man, how can I tell them apart ;p. The big battle starts. Tooru gets cold feet while Kyouka becomes overconfident (and needs saving from Shizune). Tooru then spots ghost girl so Kyouma gives him permission but limited time to go after her. When he catches up, ghost girl warns him to be careful because time will end and that the future is not decided yet. She disappears. Remy happened to be scouting and heard this. He thinks such ghosts are from the future and the Timekeepers’ enemies. Maybe they are fuzzy because the future isn’t determined yet. Tooru realizes he has run out of time and needs to regroup. Kyouma and co’s energy field is dangerously weakening since their formation has been broken and the team separated. Just as clone Tooru is about to shoot Kyouma from the back, Shizune protects him with her body. Oh sh*t! A huge hole in her chest!

Episode 4
Kyouma felt he always troubled Shizune. In that case she wants a reward. 60 minutes of his time after the next battle. Well, looks like now that won’t likely ever to happen. Call it a good thing because she also took out clone Kyouma with her with a hidden bomb. And so this side we have everyone reeling over Shizune’s death and on the clone side, they’re crying over Kyouma’s demise. Tooru becomes annoying as he blames himself. Had he not go scouting for the ghost girl… Cut that crap out will you! Kyouma fulfils Shizune 60 minutes of having tea with her. Only, Shizune is missing. Tooru’s self guilty is so infectious that it affects Kyouka too. You think she doesn’t feel sad for being a useless girl who can’t protect her brother and the rest? Oh, now you make her cry… So please cut your wallowing crap. I think they’re trying to put in some sort of romance drama. Because the duo get close to comfort each other only to be called to the meeting room with everyone else. Because Timekeepers have come up with a new rule for the next game. The side that reaches this gate first will receive 5 times more Energy Cubes. Tooru seems to be not paying attention at the briefing and going through the stats of everyone (and thinking about Shizune). Then when Brian needs a volunteer, he opts in. I hope he heard what this operation is about. Kyouma doesn’t believe him because a while ago, he was a big cry-baby. He tests him by shooting him but his bullet time activates. As they head to the battlefield, Tooru tells Kyouma he thinks Timekeepers are trying to hide something, the reason they are trying to kill ghost girl. Then he talks about his past how he thought he would never lose anybody again after his parents died and not wanting to get involved with anyone. I guess he’s wrong. Now he is going to fight that cause. As the battle begins, Olga and Shizune clone take out each other (although both are heavily injured), clone Kyouka plays mind games with her that Tooru has abandoned her since he is not by her side. In fact, he is waiting for some cue. As usual, he faces off with his clone. When he sees Olga injured, his confident shakes. Kyouma needs to remind him again. What he said just now, was it a lie? Yeah… That changed his mind. Both Toorus fight and dash through the gate at the same time.

Episode 5
Inside the building, both Toorus continue to trade shots but they are stopped by the Timekeeper since the game is over. Wait a minute. Shizune is a Timekeeper???!!! Actually she is just taking her form since Tooru’s mind is pretty much preoccupied with her. Since both reached at the same time, she rewards them with Energy Cubes as promised. But this is not what Tooru wants. He wants to know about this whole crap. Fine. Time for explanations. Shizune admits Timekeepers are from the future and they are holding this game to save them. WTF. Killing each other to save them?! To minimize damage?! Seems there are 2 parallel worlds. In 10 years, they will create a time warp technology that allows them to teleport to each other’s worlds. Problem is, they started fighting and killing each other and this ended up in both worlds being destroyed. It has been proven throughout history that humans will kill and destroy each other for what they don’t have. Clone Tooru agrees with this. Therefore the degradation of people turning into sand is occurring because their worlds do not have a future. That affects them in the past and thus turning them into sand. Huh? You mean now final Armageddon or something? Shizune says there is a way to fix this: Get rid of 1 world. At least better than both worlds being destroyed. And thus both sides will fight till there is a winner. 2015 is chosen because it is a neutral ground to both sides. Timekeepers only reward winners with Energy Cubes. They try to be involved minimal. This is fair. And so life is awarded to the winner and the loser will be destroyed. Tooru doesn’t believe this because of what ghost girl said about their future isn’t decided yet. He thinks there is another way around this and the future that Timekeepers see isn’t necessarily their future. But clone Tooru is up for war. If there is no future, they should just take it from others. Before the fight resumes, Shizune whisks them away. Meanwhile the others outside are trying to retreat with some doing the attacking to buy time for others to escape. Remy faces off with the clone of Lyudmila N. Ignatova. Despite his psychic power having a hard time against her evolved weapons, his bait and trap has him slamming the building down on her! Kyouma is forced to sacrifice his old man master to retreat with Kyouka. Old dude has made up his mind he is already going to die anyway. Tooru wakes up in a strange land.

Episode 6
Tooru is in the other world as clone Kyouka finds him. But she won’t shoot him. She takes him back to the orphanage where they are operating from as a base. They talk about things in this world and especially about Tooru of this world. Kyouka and him are pretty much considered lovers. I wonder if it is considering as cheating since clone Kyouka takes him out to town as a little date. She seems pretty friendly and nice unlike her violent persona in the battlefield. Meanwhile back in the other world, clone Tooru manages to give the sparse security the slip. He even enters the lab (since it looked pretty familiar like the one in his world) and hacks into the light security system. Ghost girl appears before him and tells him not to believe what Timekeepers say. Of course. This means he doesn’t trust her too. When he sees Remy who is to be the next victim of degradation, he is in shock. Tooru asks clone Kyouka about Remy because he saw his picture in the group photo. She takes him to the grave where all the children are buried. This Remy didn’t die in battle but due to his weak body. Although he came here around 3 years ago, he was like family to them. Everybody was devastated when he died (personally, I thought a kid crying in the background sounded more like laughing!). Clone Kyouka talks about clone Tooru’s ‘bad habits’ like as though there is some sort of distance between them now. She asks him about herself in his world. Tooru admits despite Kyouka always bugging him when he wanted to be alone, in actual fact he was happy about it. It sounds odd for them to thank each other for being at the other’s side. Kumi has located Tooru and is going to force transfer him back before the link breaks. I guess friendship is over. It was good while it lasted. Clone Kyouka warns they’ll be enemies the next time. Tooru returns in the midst of his clone having a standoff with Kyouka and Remy. His appearance startles his counterpart as he fires. Tooru’s bullet time activates and he fires a precision shot to knock away the bullet. But the ricochet hits Kyouka. Oh no! Don’t just stand there and yell her name, take her to the emergency room! Clone Tooru runs into the time machine while Remy is hell bent on chasing him down and killing him. In the battlefield, Remy becomes furious in throwing every brick and rubble at him. Then he uses clone Lyudmila’s Energy Cube to power up. He is feeling great unleashing all that power when suddenly he feels strange. Instantly he turns into sand! Timekeeper Shizune notes it is earlier than planned and incomplete but is going to let this go ahead. The entire place turns into a huge desert storm.

Episode 7
What’s this? Tooru having a happy time with his parents? But he knows something is wrong. They’re supposed to be dead! Then he bumps into Kyouka… And Shizune. They’re trying to convince him to stay in this bliss. Something feels really wrong. He knows this is not the truth when Kyouka doesn’t care who is alive or dead. No matter where he runs, this Kyouka is always there and showing him the horrifying degrading effects. Hey, at least he turned into a bag of bones first. When he sees that equation and touches it, Kyouka screams and disappears. Ghost girl is now here. She explains the Energy Cube causes time to advance to the future. He was caught in that sandstorm called Dead End. Time to go back in past to learn how it all happen. It all started when some super energy substance was found at the edge of the solar system. It was easily mass produced to a point humans were able to go to different parallel worlds. And that’s when the war started. She demonstrates no matter how ultimate a weapon is, it is useless when dropped. Therefore a weapon is created from using one’s body. So what if the body is targeted? Well, unless it is made of sand, right? This is the perfect weapon where time ends and what the sand Dead End is. In ghost girl’s world, Dead End was used as their weapon in the war and ultimately destroyed everything. They thought they were using Dead End but were being used by it. Those who lose become absorbed by it. In no time, the world will be swallowed by it and thus the apt name. Timekeepers are countless humans who have been absorbed by Dead End and melded their psyches and harbour one will. Ghost girl was a scientist in her world and before Dead End could swallow up her world, she went back in time to warn this world. Timekeeper Shizune interrupts to say they do not kill humans but render them powerless while storing their psyches as data. They are a humane weapon that ended the war without killing anybody and now everybody can have salvation and eternal bliss in that hallucinating bliss Tooru just experienced. Tooru needs to do something about this but knows he’ll be playing into their hands if he uses the Energy Cubes. Ghost girl deduces the Energy Cubes are linked to the Timekeepers’ future. Ghost girl can help disconnect it with her power but it will be very dangerous. If Tooru fails, it will be Dead End. Better try than doing nothing. Shizune tries to convince Tooru not to believe her. How do you know what she says is correct? Perhaps she is trying to force her ideal future on him as well. But you know Tooru, he can’t live his dream knowing that everyone else is suffering. This made Shizune mad and the sand explodes! Tooru activates the Energy Cube. Ghost girl disappears and hopes to see him in his future.

Episode 8
The rest are trying to destroy the sandstorm but it destroyed one of them. Who the heck is this Jonathan kid? Tooru returns to the battlefield to tell everyone about the frightening ultimate weapon. Kyouma doesn’t care and wants to kill clone Tooru but is made to open his eyes that killing each other is what the enemy wants. Temporary truce would be a good idea. Meanwhile Brian is happy to see such data on the phenomenon and looks like he has some ulterior motives going on because it would mean being freed from Kyouma’s leash. Remy isn’t dead but is trapped in the core of Dead End while having a recurring nightmare. He wants Xi to protect him. Both sides take a breather as they plan their next step. Tooru gets a much needed motivated call from Kyouka that she is alright. The plan is to dismantle Dead End before both worlds turn into sand. Tooru is worried this will kill Remy but the rest cannot be concerned if he is dead or alive. All they know he is inside the core. Tooru thinks of using the Energy Cubes like how he did escaping Dead End. It might interfere with the sand and destroy it. Clone Tooru puts his trust in him to do the job. Because he will do anything to ensure his world is safe even if it means teaming up with his enemy. Kyouma gives Tooru one of Shizune’s daggers as charm. Partly, he is mad for the Timekeeper popping up in her appearance. So both sides go on the offensive but Dead End unleashes waves of Xi clones. With a handful of casualties (characters whose name I never knew nor remember kicking the bucket), to prevent more of that, Xi leaves the command centre to dive down into Dead End’s core. I don’t know what she did in this self-sacrificing move to dispel the sandstorm and protect Remy but it gave Tooru a chance to use his Energy Cube and evolve his gun to break Remy free from the core and safely into his arms. Timekeeper Shizune did not expect Tooru to dismantle Dead End at this point and despite calling this experiment a failure, she is very sure they will create another Dead End on their own accord because they have Pandora’s Box in hand. My, what a big Energy Cube is floating there.

Episode 9
Tooru is forcefully teleported back but the moment he opens his eyes, Brian has the guards lock him in a cell. Why am I not surprised at this turn out? First he apologizes for this rough treatment but this is necessary to save mankind. Care to explain? He’ll do that. Twice. Because he is in cohorts of his clone!!! Thanks to the Toorus ‘visiting’ each other’s world, they are able to lock down the coordinates to contact each other. Also, the data collected from Tooru saving Remy will be used to evolve human technology by 100 years. However there is a tiny obstacle they need to get rid of: Those who are capable of time transfer. Both Brians join forces to stop them from running rampant. The biggest threat is Kyouma because he takes risk and makes decisions on the spot. But so far so good, right? I guess it is ironic that they’re being pessimistic right now that such luck won’t be around forever. So to prevent walking on the tightrope every time, they’re going to take action. They are also confident they will have no need to fear Timekeepers once they recreate the technology and dismiss Tooru’s warning it is only because that ghost girl did something or else normally it will turn out as Dead End. They want Tooru to join their cause but Kumi intercepts them for him to break out and escape. Brian has his clone return to his world and promises he will settle things. Tooru meets up with Kumi who explains Brian as a kid has always been crying for attention and that is why he is doing this to be recognized. First they have to find everybody else first (who are being held up the moment they returned from the battlefield). Lyudmila hacks the security cameras so Tooru can sneak around without worry of being spotted. Brian realized too late that the screens on the security monitor has been hacked and starts to sweat. He orders his men to capture them dead or alive. You frustrated, bro? I don’t know if the soldiers are given shoot to kill orders because that’s the first thing they do when they enter Lyudmila’s room. She was just sitting there, resigning to her fate and unarmed. They just freaking shoot her like that?! Tooru thought he is late in rescuing Kyouka but thankfully she gave those soldiers a taste of her badass kung fu chops. Best move I have seen so far from her. And of course with him in the picture, she collapses into his arms in relief. Timekeeper Shizune continues to think humans cannot give up on Energy Cubes. No matter how much they run, they cannot escape. Dead End is their ideal. To deny that is to deny humanity. Or rather, is she the one in denial?

Episode 10
Tooru and Kyouka escape the lab and are being picked up by Olga (who is just fresh from avenging Lyudmila’s death). She brings them to her secret hideout where tired Kyouka rests. Then we have an extended flashback of how ghost girl who was a scientist in her time use the newly discovered substance to treat people. It isn’t long before the military decided to use it for their own purpose. Then all hell broke loose. She joined the resistance force and before Dead End consumed her world, she jumped back to the past. However it was too late since both worlds are already starting to kill each other. Strangely, visions of Kyouka popped up before her, telling him to believe in Tooru because he can change things. That is why she started writing that equation at that spot. You might be shock in suddenly seeing Tooru sleeping with Kyouka… On the couch! I know they didn’t do it but it gives off that suspicious feel… Olga then brings them to Kumi’s secret lab to reunite with the rest. Remy is so happy to see Kyouka that he rushes to hug her. But it is a different story for Kyouma. Big brother rushing to hug little sister only gets a slap in the face. What’s with the double standards? They discuss the plan to rid of Brian and destroy the time machine to minimize Timekeepers’ interference. As of how they can go back to the past, Tooru has an idea. For some reason, I think they are trying to have forced romance here because we see Tooru and Kyouka spending a lovely time together in the greeneries of the evacuation shelter. Oddly, Kyouka who isn’t his official girlfriend, starts acting like one especially when she starts suspecting him of seeing other girls because he suddenly got good in dealing with girls!!! WTF?! She can tell by the looks on his face!!! Oh, that ‘cheating’ with that clone Kyouka in the other world…

This ‘argument’ is to set up so that Kyouka can fall on top of him and they give each other a kiss. And then they hold hands and enjoy the view and they talk about the different possibilities and futures based on the actions of one. So their logic that what they do differently in history can result the future turning out in different ways means that humans have infinite possibilities! It might come a little late because they finally confess that 3 magical words to each other + hug. And then Kyouka said Tooru should become the president of the world because he can change the world thingy. Huh? Hey, don’t give me this philosophy crap to cover this poorly written romance scene. Thank goodness it ends because Brian and his scientists are in disarray since the lab is under attacked. It is a one (wo)man show as Olga is the one responsible. Brian didn’t even realize his throat was slit by her until a little later. There, problem easily taken care of. Similarly in the other world, Tooru shoots Brian and won’t let him decide their future. He will decide it himself. Yeah, I’m sure they cut out the scene because who wants to see crazy old scientist getting killed. Tooru brings everyone to the spot where ghost girl wrote her equation. Turns out to be some expanded but basic time travelling theory. Whatever. Kyouma can even joke they’re not coming back once they go in. But seriously, he thinks they can come up with something to return to their timeline by using the big Energy Cube. Yeah, he thinks. So everyone hops into the portal one by one. Before Tooru can do so, Kyouma punches him because big brother has seen him flirting with little sister and does not approve of him yet! WTF?! What kind of big brother spies on his little sister on her date???!!! And that isn’t even officially a date! So he is going to give him a chance to prove himself worthy of Kyouka. Tooru ends up thinking about his other self, what would he be like had he led a different life, the differences in upbringing and the impossibility of understanding that him because he is him. Just shut the hell up and dive into the portal.

Episode 11
Clone Tooru narrates the tough life in his dog eat dog world. That is why he is bent on making through it even if it means stealing and invading the other world. Both sides now face off and as usual, the Toorus square off. Tooru wants his clone to cooperate to prevent Dead End but he isn’t so interested. They’re doing this for their future and have nothing to do with Timekeepers. Tooru’s team has caused some interference wave to activate the giant Energy Cube to form a barrier. His goal is to open a gate to where Timekeepers are. However the Energy Cubes from their side are not enough and need theirs. Clone Tooru thinks it is a trap. In that case, Tooru will give their side full control of the Energy Cubes. If they refuse to team up, they’ll do this the hard way and kill them to take their Energy Cubes. Clone Tooru agrees but will use it themselves instead of giving it to them. Both sides cooperate to open the gate enough for both Toorus to enter. A sandstorm greets them. Timekeeper Shizune plays mind games with both of them. Trying to convince them her Dead End method is ideal and that destiny cannot be changed. Tooru shoots her. Likewise, she thought telling clone Tooru that he cannot protect and resolve anything would change his mind. Guns cannot change anything. But he has determined to avoid that mistake by seizing that Energy Cube. He will never lose anyone dear to him again. Those who died live inside his heart. Isn’t that just delusion? Sure, then Dead End is one hell of a big delusion too. Clone Tooru shoots her. And now that they’re out of their illusion, hordes of Xi clones attack them. Despite taking damage, both continue to fight back. Timekeeper Shizune is confident as long as they cannot pinpoint her temporal axis whatever sh*t, it is useless. Too bad her confidence is now shattered because Tooru’s team manages to do so. They have been researching the link via Energy Cube all the time. She cannot believe they can do this much with such limited technology so Tooru tells her off that she is the one who fears them because of the possibility of the unknown. Tooru fires all his energy at her but her barrier is tough. Clone Tooru helps out with another shot. Her barrier is breaking and she’s freaking out. They both help each other up and are relieved Timekeepers aren’t omnipotent gods and just humans like them. In the aftermath of the explosion, ghost girl thanks them for saving the future. When both Toorus return to the battlefield, clone Tooru wants to settle the score. Just great. See how history is repeating itself? Humans just like to fight, eh? Now do you understand the ideals of Dead End?

Episode 12
And so both Toorus begin attacking each other. So much angst. So much arrogance. So different ideals. Yeah, it won’t end till somebody is killed off, right? The rest too want to fight but they realize they better not hog the limelight of the youngsters and agree to let the main character settle it. Well, except for the Kyoukas. They’re angrily fighting each other for their beloved. Then they get caught in the Tooru’s crossfire. Clone Kyouka is willing to die for this and Tooru is willing to protect his Kyouka. In the aftermath of clone Tooru’s fire, he is shot. Everyone is still alive thanks to Tooru’s barrier. Clone Kyouka points his gun at Tooru. Clone Tooru tells her to shoot. Shoot! SHOOT!!! Despite clone Kyouka hating Tooru a lot, she can’t do it and goes to tend her clone Tooru instead. Clone Tooru tells his other self to kill him or the war will continue. Tooru’s answer? He shoots and destroys the giant Energy Cube. This causes the link and history of both worlds to be separated and the cube rains down golden sand. Wait a minute. It was this easy to solve the problem?! Yeah, with humans being selfish and greedy, they couldn’t see this simplest solution. Everyone disappears from the battlefield. And of course, Tooru and Kyouka share a kiss because they’ll never come back here again. Tooru finds himself with that ghost girl. Her future is save thanks to him but regrets dragging him into this mess. Wait a minute. You went back to the past desperately to seek help and after all that has happened, you’re worried about the selfish decision you’ve made? Because Tooru destroyed the Energy Cube that could have been used to create a real time machine to go back and see his parents, Tooru doesn’t sweat it because it’s great to have memories but he needs to move forward. He asks her name but she forgot. Must be the side effects of travelling to the past. What shall he call her? It’s up to him. He names her Miki, something to do with the future. See you again? Back in his original world, degradation has reduced significantly but it is still around and this means the threat of Dead End is still there. Tooru gets philosophical about people looking the same outside but different inside. Kyouma tries to kill Tooru for flirting with his sister but she beats up the siscon. People think it’s a love triangle. Out of the blue, Kyouka asks Tooru to marry him in his quest to become world president and then go for world domination! WTF?! Oh hell, it sounds good. What kind of future have they got to lose? Curiously many years into the future, it is very much hinted this freaking old dude is Tooru and he is the first president of the world! He is seen calling to Miki who is his granddaughter. He is happy they’ve got to meet again but she doesn’t know what grandpa is talking about.

Clone Wars – You Are Your Worst Enemy
Ugh… Wow. After a dozen episodes of mediocrity, that was some heck of an ending. The time skip to show us where Tooru has become a major super power in the world. I don’t know how but they really did it, huh? I can think of a joke about listening to your girlfriend and then stuffs like that happen but I don’t think I can contain my laughter and finish this blog. If you think that this is the fixed ending, remember what they said about the future not being decided yet. Because there were a couple of alternate endings to the TV series but those were only streamed on the Japanese site but by the time I have reached the end of the TV series, my sentiments were already so and I have lost interest in wanting to know what really or could have happened. I just didn’t matter anymore. So I’ll just stick to the ending of Tooru becoming world president and having a cute granddaughter. It’s much safer that way.

I have mixed feelings about the storyline. At first it looks interesting when both parallel worlds collide and need to eliminate each other to ensure their own world’s survival. Then it gets a little complicated and messy. Especially about what Timekeepers are doing to ‘preserve’ mankind. I just thought it was crap trying to make both worlds kill each other so that the winner can forever live in some vegetable bliss (like The Matrix?) and the loser just dies. I don’t know how they term this as efficient. I thought it would be better for them just to kill both worlds. In fact, they don’t even need to do anything. History and track records show that mankind loves fighting each other and in the end just wipe each other out. Heck, why be such good people in saving the winner? Doesn’t make sense. Just let them kill each other and that’s it. So when you put plot over plot just for the sake of having some sort of twist in the storyline, it is just as good as not having any. In the end, Timekeepers wanted to play God but unfortunately God wasn’t on their side. Hmm… Come to think about it. Should they use the Dead End on themselves and continue to dream of the illusion that mankind bow to their ideals?

Having said all that, this brings me to the point that I am convinced humanity is one big masochistic dickheads. Even if Timekeepers are offering some sort of unrealistic deal of having them end all wars by living the ecstasy dream world forever, but instead mankind decided opted not to go for it and prefer to fight each other just because they won’t let some so seemingly omnipotent being control their fate. Sure, it is a good thing that mankind decides on where they want to go but if this is the ultimate peace and harmony, why not go for it? After all, everybody gets to live their dreams here. I wouldn’t mind if they can give me my maid harem! And for Tooru to reject this offer despite admitting there is pain and suffering, this means there is also hope. WTF. What kind of reasoning is that? So you’re telling me that you humans prefer to bear the torment of everything just for that little thing called hope? Oh yeah. Humans. Complicated creatures. And as seen right till the very end, with Timekeepers out of the picture, they continue fighting.

The characters feel weak. I don’t know. I just feel they don’t connect overall. Like for Tooru, this guy who told us from the very beginning that he doesn’t like to stand out, suddenly is thrust into the limelight and the guy who could change the world. Yeah, I have seen tons of main characters like that. They want a normal boring life. But the script says he needs to become a hero since he has some sort of latent powers and there you go. He stands out more than the rest of the other characters. Speaking of them, with a handful of them, they don’t even make a decent impact on the series especially those other guys. Like the banchou dude, the gay ninja, the old pirate-samurai dude, a Final Fantasy-like character (note: both games were made by Square Enix after all) and a pair of mecha riding kids (one is a scientist kid and the other I believe his ‘girlfriend’). Sometimes you don’t see some of them on both sides simultaneously because in previous battles, they were killed. The clones from the other world aren’t bad themselves. Just that they have different ideals they believe in thanks to their environmental upbringing. I was wondering why there are so many survivors in the end since I expected lots of them to be killed off just to save us the tying up parts. Because in the end those people didn’t even really matter. We didn’t really care about them either.

Remy feels so insignificant throughout the series that I thought his only major role was to be absorbed and become Dead End for our heroes to figure a way out of this. I thought they should just kill him off in the end. Why is he still around with the rest? The same case for ghost girl. They tease us with her presence from time to time like as though she is the key and revelation for something. Hardly. So her formula only serves as the gateway portal to the past? Holy cow. I couldn’t figure that one out myself because you need a rocket scientist to decipher those mystic symbols. Oh yeah… Very complicating. Even more ‘insulting’ is how they don’t even give her a decent name and often referred to (in the credits, that is) as mysterious girl. I prefer to call her ghost girl due to her flickering holographic presence and it is much shorter and saves time trying to type out her name each time I want to refer to her. Seriously. Really. And when they do decide to give her character a name at the end, the show has already ended. Uh huh. By the time we know your name, it’s over. And she even game the liberty to Tooru to name her. What is she? His pet? Sure, I can create a name for her like Aya-tan or Ai-chan or Rin-rin but she doesn’t look like the kind of girl to have that kind of cute loli name… Miki? Oh, okay. It is already bad enough Shizune gets killed off so early in the anime, so what better way than to make her character ‘return’ in the form of the villain taking on her shape? Oh yeah. Everybody must be thinking so much about her that is why the Timekeeper is projecting to us Shizune’s shape all the time. See Shizune, you are the most missed character of the series. Not!

I knew Brian was going to be somewhat of an antagonist because when you have scientists with their own ulterior goals, it can’t be good. Besides, you really can’t have clone Tooru as the bad guy, right? He is just survival-bitten, that’s all. True enough, he became greedy with his own ambitions but the saddest (and funniest) part was after he revealed all his plans, he got killed off. And that itself didn’t even take any effort. Heck, they didn’t give him one decent episode to play a megalomaniac. Okay, to be fair, 2 episodes the most. Side distraction? I thought there was going to be some sort of connection with Brian and Remy revealed (father-son thingy?) since they share the same surname. Well, nothing came out of it. Like we care. Olga who is a wanted criminal doesn’t really display her assassin-like behaviour, thus rendering her so called background redundant in the first place. As good as no need for any background stories like Aaron, Kumi and Lyudmila. Heck, I thought Xi was just going to some ordinary background robot when suddenly before sacrificing herself to save Remy, I don’t know what short narrative they’re blabbing to make it look like she and Remy have some sort of connection. WTF. Does it really matter then? Kyouma started out as a cool guy in command but with Tooru becoming the main character and after Shizune’s death, he turned into some dumb siscon brother. Since when did his role turned into a comic relief character because Kyouka’s response to him is always “Stupid bro!”?

The romance part feels atrocious and forced because sooner or later in animes like this, we all know those hidden feelings between the main characters would just surface. There were so many tell-tale signs about it. Even right at the start despite portraying to us that Kyouka is no Tooru’s girlfriend, that is already a dead giveaway that he’ll end up as his girl. Besides, there are no other ‘reasonable’ girls in this show that would amount it to a harem. Thank goodness. Less complication. Therefore when they start showing that forced cheesy romance between Tooru and Kyouka before the big battle, it felt like they needed to rush things ahead. Make it as though they have one last fling and no regrets to whatever happens next. Because all you know they could be dead in the next moment. Which fortunately AND unfortunately did not happen. A boy and a girl who go to the same school, enjoyed each other’s company but short of making it official as a couple, spend a few days killing their clones from another world and suddenly they realize they are so important to each other. Suddenly they kiss. Suddenly they hold hands. I don’t think this is The Sims they’re playing. I did not expect this but they did it. Tooru and Kyouka getting married, becoming the rulers of the world and having a daughter who visited them from the future. Wow. Just like sci-fi fairytales.

I was relying on the action part as this was the main reason why I jumped into watching this anime. Unfortunately and sad to say, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I should have known better than to put such a high expectation but thinking that the gunfight sequences would be the saving grace of this sci-fi series was probably a mistake after all. So blame me for not even playing the game in the first place. Sure, you get to see your gun action battle but that is mostly you see the characters holding down on the trigger button and let the unlimited ammo fly everywhere, not hitting anything. It only does when they want to kill off a character or add some drama by injuring the character. I don’t know if it is supposed to be insulting to the genre or not because Remy doesn’t even hold a damn gun since he prefers to use his telekinetic powers to throw objects. It also feels unrealistic to see the characters to be able to fly like Peter Pan even though they are not wearing any sort of jet packs or something. Can they really fly so freely in the battlefield? Tooru’s bullet time skill feels it doesn’t make an impact on anything except an excuse to make this kid dodge bullets to continue breathing. It is never even explained how he got this skill. Ah, I see that is why they just simply call him an irregular whatsoever. Anyhow, the action is rather okay, if not just passable just to past the time and forget the storyline. I have a gut feeling you would be more satisfied by playing the game itself.

The art and drawing are your typical conventional Japanese anime style. However even despite that, the art style especially the characters feel dull. I don’t know, you just look at their faces. It looks one kind. Looks simple. Feels like they didn’t put enough effort in it. Therefore it must also be the case of “I-have-seen-too-many-animes-and-thus-the-characters-look-like-they-are-ripped-off-from-another-series” syndrome. Because looking at Tooru for the first time, I thought he looked very much like one half of that manga team, Ashirogi Muto! Hey, both are even voiced by the same person! As for Kyouka, I don’t know why but I see shades of Yuno Gasai in her! Yikes! Remy looks like that kid from World Trigger while Brian oddly resembles like a certain American director whom I shall not name ;p. Olga’s flamboyant and outrageous fashion design had me think that she is the anime version of The Hunger Games’ Effie Trinket! And I think that dress design of hers makes her butt look big! Serious! Don’t believe me? Take a closer look at it again. The rest of the other characters have that I-have-seen-them-somewhere-before feeling but I’m too lazy to think of it right now.

There are a handful of CGI employed but those are only limited to the battlefield scenes and nothing to really shout about. Seeing shooting genres are all about guns, I expected to see a variety of cool gun designs but unfortunately with everything that is going on, you won’t notice them. Heck, I don’t think they are even given much focus either. The most prominent one you will notice is Kyouma’s big chaingun since its bright and colourful design catches your eye. The rest just felt like meh and didn’t even matter. Not even Tooru’s evolved guns.

There are a handful of well-known seiyuus landing their voices to this anime but that still isn’t enough to save the anime overall. My ears must be failing me recently because I identified wrongly or wasn’t sure about the voice behind the character. For instance, I knew Nana Mizuki was playing Kumi. But I also thought she was doing double roles and voiced Shizune. However something felt off and I couldn’t determine whether it was really her or not. It sounded close like her but it couldn’t be her. But then again, maybe it could. Finally, that was dispelled when I just look it up. Kana Ueda was the one behind Shizune’s voice. No wonder so familiar and still… Yet another wrong guess is the character Kyouka. I thought it was Kana Hanazawa behind her. Again, something felt strange. Was it really her, but it didn’t sound like her. You know, that dilemma. True enough it wasn’t. It was Hisako Kanemoto instead.

Thankfully for the rest of the seiyuus that I am familiar with, I could recognize such as Miyuki Sawashiro as Remy, Sayaka Ohara as Olga, Saori Hayami as Lyudmila and Takehito Koyasu as Aaron. There are also others like Junichi Suwabe and Rikiya Koyama but they voiced very minor characters so I didn’t even notice them. For the rest that I am not familiar with, they are Masakazu Nishida as Kyouma (Shimon Izuna in Gundam Build Fighters Try), Hideaki Tezuka as Brian (Tatara in Triage X), Saki Fujita as Xi (Ayano in YuruYuri) and Akane Fujita as ghost girl (Sae in Death Parade). It is interesting to note that although Tooru is mainly played by Atsushi Abe (Mashiro in Bakuman), there are 2 other seiyuus voicing his character to reflect the different stages of his life. Yuka Nishigaki (Autumn in Infinite Stratos 2) voices the young kid version while Minoru Inaba (Neptune in One Piece) takes on the old man version. The anime pop rock opening theme, Vanilla Sky by Mashiro Ayano sounds fitting for the anime. Only if it had lived up to that kind of hype. The ending theme is a slow ballad, Mirai by Garnidelia and I prefer this compared to the opener.

Overall, maybe it is because I am not a fan of the game or even a fan of Square Enix’s creations, I do not see the romance behind their storylines. To me, this is just a mediocre anime and believe me, that itself is already a merciful review that I am doing. A lot of comments out there weren’t so kind. I guess they weren’t fans of the game either. Anyway, to be even ‘fairer’, this is not the worst anime out there (I won’t name them here in this blog) since the action does not suck but could have been much better and I have seen better fights/battles/conflicts/wars/skirmishes/clashes elsewhere. If there is one thing I learnt from this anime, if ever some random dude tries to tell you to resign to your fate because your future is sealed, just tell that dude to f*ck off and shoot him in the head. Because for the umpteenth time watching this kind of animes, I would have known better that it is I who decide the future for myself and not some shady creature who doesn’t even have the balls to show its true form, some conman who wants to sell me the most groundbreaking innovative product, the fortune teller down the street trying to make a quick buck, my parents or even God. But somehow my future seems dedicated in watching animes… Like I am a slave to anime forever… I can see where this is going…

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