Miami Guns

January 30, 2016

Doing my random browsing again on the internet, I thought of giving Miami Guns the pass since when I skimmed through the synopsis, I considered this to be one of those run of the mill buddy cop series. But rereading it again because my guts oddly told me to (really!) to make sure that it wasn’t just an ordinary series of characters with opposing and clashing personalities working together, maybe it does seem interesting about a pair of police partners that consists of a spoilt rich psychotic girl who only joins the police force on a whim simply because what better way to enjoy the thrills of car chases and beating up the ‘bad guys’, with a totally soft spoken but sharp tongued and observant daughter of the police chief. Hmm… Maybe this won’t be as bad after all. And the final clincher… Yukari Tamura is the cast of one of the main characters. That seals it. I need to see this show.

Episode 1
A lone bank robber has been told to rob the Central Bank of Miami. Thinking this would be easy pie, he barges in, unheeding the advice of his employer about the local police. He is in for a surprise because all the citizens take out their guns! The police have barricaded the area because after the failed robbery, the robber who has armed himself with explosives around his body has taken a baby hostage and holed himself up the clock tower. The Miami police chief, Clarence Amano and his daughter, Lu as well as the rest of the team arrive on scene. One of the robber’s demands is for an escape helicopter. But here comes fellow police officer, Yao Sakurakouji jumping down with such flashy extravagance. Yeah, she’s here to steal the limelight. Since her dad is freaking rich, she says she has bought the building and the guys can do whatever they want with it! Yeah, they can’t wait to fire their guns! Clarence thinks of going to trade himself for the baby hostage. His team cheers for his bravery but Yao is not happy he is getting all the attention and knocks him out! She’ll be trading places with him. The robber is already having his hands full changing the baby’s diapers and now what does this b*tch wants? He tells her to strip and she willingly does it just to show off her bikini. It only gets worse for the robber as the media thinks he is a pervert for making Yao strip and do perverted poses! So now she is a hostage. She can’t just leave with the baby, right? That is why Lu thought of coming with here but the egoist turned her down. Yao loses interest and ironically she has potential of harming the baby while the robber is the one protecting the little guy!

Yao goes to add more fuel to the fire by claiming the robber is getting aggressive and beating her up! She’s punching herself! But you can’t blame everybody for not noticing since it’s quite high up there. More despicable Yao is, she dresses up as the robber to taunt the cops to shoot at her! The robber finally regains control by tying up Yao and hanging her out to dry. Once the clock reaches 5pm, the cops get ready to head home. They don’t do overtime work since they don’t get paid! Lu gets this idea of driving the armour truck into the bank. They start filling the bag with the bank’s money (another of the robber’s demands) but they don’t feel too bad about it because remember, this building belongs to Yao and so it’s her money technically. Then they drive up to the clock tower to arrest the robber. However he warns them that he has planted bombs around the building. Yao can’t stand of losing more limelight and does some acrobatic move to get back in, accidentally pressing the detonator. The building collapses but everyone is still alive as they were taking shelter inside the armour truck. And Yao got the guts to blame Lu for trying to steal the limelight from her with this daring move and then blame her for all that has happened. The robber couldn’t be happier to go to prison but he calls them all the worst piece of sh*t as human beings! Oh yeah. Justice is served.

Episode 2
Time for a flashback summary about the girls. Sort of. Yao as the rich spoilt daughter of her father’s conglomerate, she is so fearsome that even the road gangs fear her! When a professional assassin, Leon Morimoto threatens her with a death note (he even signed the note), Yao wants to beat the crap out of him so Clarence assigns Lu to protect her. Thanks to Lu, Yao’s life is saved countless times. When facing off with Leon, Lu is even willing to put her life on the line to protect Yao. But that b*tch just teases her ass off. But then thoughts of how cool Lu was got to her. There is no way she can be cooler and prettier than her! Yao is going to play hero and shoots some giant ball to send it rolling down and pinning him under the pool. Feeling the excitement of it all, Yao decides to join the police force. Next is a flashback of why Yao always carry her trademark Mauser gun. Thanks to her huge estate, she is pretty much left to do anything (so it is not illegal if she is driving underage) with her butler, Jii supervising her. However she always seems to accidentally kill her mom. The final time she did it, mom gave her the Mauser. Maybe it could all be a bunch of lies because Lu remembers her mom died from some illness.

We are also shown a draft production of the series before it was final. So there were bunch of changes in character before it was finalized. Like this old professor who was killed off by turning into a monster and hence his beautiful assistant, Kaken taking over his role. Clarence originally started off as a black guy but with Lu being made his daughter, he turned white and that is why his afro was brought over. Then there’s Jii who is some sort of international James Bond and sex prowess in his heydays. Not forgetting the trio amateurs of the force, photographer Kosuke Inaba (voyeur and peeping tom), fast runner Haruki Ishikawa (rapist) and researcher Takuro Matsumoto (occultist). After much training from Lu and Yao, they become their faithful subordinates. New and young detective, Irotarou Sumi joins the force and was Lu’s high school club mate. Yao teases about their romance but this doesn’t sit well with Clarence. Then she makes a pun on his name, Junshoku which means to die on the duty and it becomes the running joke for a couple of scenes. Each time he is brought back to life, he is killed off shortly. Maybe they should just stop bringing him back to life.

Episode 3
A mysteriously girl screaming for help from a phone call that came in the wee hours of the morning to the police has Clarence sending Lu and Yao to infiltrate Miami’s all-girls high school to investigate. Of course Yao is more concerned in being popular. There is this girl, Nagisa Tojou who has high grades and popular with the rest that Yao calls a typical b*tch. But when Nagisa wants to be friends with her and admires her, suddenly Yao becomes her best friend. Lu heard some girls talking to the principal about their friend Ishida who was hospitalized but they can’t go visit her. Lu relays to Kaken to find out about Ishida but there is no such person registered in the hospital. Feeling something amiss about the principal, she has Kaken check his background out. As the duo have secret microphone to relay what they say back to HQ, because Yao is fooling around with boobs and panties, the rest of the force heard this and start arguing they want to infiltrate the school! Then they accidentally spill coffee on the machine… Can’t hear a damn thing now. The girls dread the physical examination because it is part of the school’s regulation to pass it or they can’t graduate. Trying to prepare life in the tough streets of Miami? Seems the principal is a shady guy. He has been making a deal with the Organization to sell girls to this organization for a handsome sum. The reason? They are getting worried with the all-male force turning gay! Who the heck is George?! Who the heck is Anthony?! So gay… Lu heard this and is about to arrest the principal and his cohort the vice but is knocked out by the biggest crook of them all: Nagisa!

Meanwhile Yao is going to show the special forces a thing or two as she uses live bullets to fire back! The captain, Suzuki also uses live rounds to fire back. Yao feels great to be the heroine as she leads the girls back into the building. She doesn’t care if other students are involved. The most important thing is their own safety! With Nagisa missing, she leaves the girls to fend for themselves while she goes look for her best friend. Nagisa bumps into Suzuki and laments that this crazy b*tch has got her plans hindered. Her goals are to rule this school and usurp the Organization by supplying girls to the soldiers but that Yao b*tch had to ruin it. When Yao meets her, she is so happy that she even got the cheek to say she’ll protect her but uses her as a human shield when Suzuki throws a bomb. Meanwhile the other girls won’t become sitting ducks so they use their sly resources by stripping down to their underwear. When the soldiers start thinking with the wrong head and let their guard down, they start hammering them properly. Suzuki opens a classroom to see. George x Anthony! Gay moment! It couldn’t even be more gay when Suzuki cries that he isn’t good enough for George! Lu is tied up and realizes the principal is the one behind Ishida’s kidnapping. He is going to get naughty with her by cutting up her underwear when Yao barges in. After tying them up, the principal recognizes Nagisa but in order to protect herself, she lies that she has been forced into this and taken advantage. Thankfully Yao is dumb enough to believe. Care to join her in beating up those old guys? Yao is shocked that Lu is going to shoot Nagisa but it is to fire at Suzuki who was going to get them. In the aftermath, the girls are thankfully for what Yao taught them. So when the Miami police force start barging in (some of them having their cameras ready), the girls straight away beat them up! High school girls are scary! Nagisa is all bandaged up like a mummy and vows to get her revenge.

Episode 4
Don’t panic if you think you’re watching the wrong anime. Because it may look like Initial D but today’s episode is a parody of it! An officer shows why his drifting allows him to catch criminals. But some traffic slipup causes him to crash and the criminal who thinks he has gotten away gets usurp by another drifter. Seems there is a serial case of car crashers being crashed and for each of them, a tofu being left at the scene and the traumatic victim could say nothing but rabbit. Clarence is pissed that his men are not really interested to solve this. Because if they would, they’d be a private detective instead of ending up in the police! Of course Yao thinks she has got this case solved. The culprit is a guy in a bunny suit delivering tofu! You should have known better than to expect anything from her. I think Lu baits her to get a car so that she can drive around to do investigations. After all, a reason she joined the police for the car chases, right? At the crash scene, they examine and taste the tofu. Although they can deduce where it came from, the problem is now the bunny guy. As they go around asking street racers, all of them give contradicting answers that they know who this guy is. Even if they resort to Yao flashing her panty to this wimpy racer, it comes expensive as she threatens him with her gun! Not afraid to fire a warning shot! So he spills the beans of some guy running a store named after the rabbit. Too bad he’s got a perfect alibi. Then they see somebody trying to mess with their car and think he is the culprit. A car chase is on. Although he crashes, the barricade saves him from falling off the cliff. Then Yao’s ‘excellent’ driving pushes him off. End of case? Not likely. Because we see the bunny guy watching from afar.

Next day, Yao gets an earful from Clarence instead of a praise. If she had stopped the culprit why is there another serial case right after that? Yao’s brilliant answer: The culprit snuck out of hospital! In that condition she put him? Annoyed with his lecturing, all she needs is to bring in the proof, right? Yeah. She barges into hospital, disregards the nurse’s advice that no visitors are allowed, shoots the knob when it is locked and then tries to haul the victim out just to prove he can drive! This guy turns out to be the wimpy racer who just wanted to exact revenge on them but they spot him before he could do anything. Yao gets a call from Lu that Kaken has researched the tofu and knows where it is made. So they see this handsome guy, Kameo Takumi who thinks one of his customers is using the tofu for criminal activities. Lu believes this guy is the culprit and even more so when Kaken has returned with the results of her research on him. As they wait outside his store, late into the night they see a truck driving out. As they try to tail him, suddenly he vanishes before popping up from behind and trying to ram them off. Lu explains that Kameo was bullied for being slow as his name means tortoise. So he is trying to satisfy his perversion and correct this trauma by dressing up as a rabbit and run anyone who is faster than him off the road. Yao’s car has been fitted with lots of gadgets by Kaken but Kameo is skilful in avoiding them all. The intense chase turns into a chicken race. Wait a second. A tortoise guy in rabbit suit playing chicken? As both sides accelerate, Kameo starts feeling scared that the crazy b*tch is not swerving. So he is more chicken than tortoise than rabbit? To his surprise, Yao extends the suspension of her car (Kameo’s truck passing safely under it). Kameo is surprised but he failed to navigate the corner and this causes him to turtle. Game over. You’re busted.

Episode 5
Yao and Lu are tasked to bring in the most wanted bounty hunter killer, Maria Rose. Each time she kills a bounty hunter, her reward goes up and now she stands at $9.8 million. Not sure if that number is too high for Yao or she is so rich that she isn’t motivated. Till Lu mentions Maria Rose is one of the top 5 gunslinger in the world and that Yao is no match for her. Yeah, that revved her up. They are zoomed by this handsome dude, Julio Peacemaker. Nobody passes Yao like that. Time to teach this dude a lesson and put the pedal to the metal. Once arriving in the cowboy town, Maria Rose just killed another target. The other guys suspect the duo because they are the only ones on scene. However upon taking a closer look, they recognize them as Miami Guns! That infamous, huh? It is deduced that Maria Rose might be disguising as one of them since nobody knows how she looks like as she is a master of disguise too. Julio tries to flirt with Miami Guns but they aren’t interested. Since he is persistent, he tells them that he is a bounty hunter too but with lousy shooting skills. He has a good nose and this means he can sniff out the culprit and then Miami Guns can take her down. What have they got to lose? Later some bounty hunters want Miami Guns to give police details about Maria Rose. Once they know who she is, they’ll kill her in her sleep. Yao chides him for doing it a cowardly way and should challenge her fair and square. Miguel is going to challenge her instead so Julio suggests a drinking challenge. Obviously Yao is a heavy drinker and easily wins. Because Julio’s pet alligator, Al tries to peek at her panties, Yao beats it up. Julio explains this isn’t just an ordinary alligator but a smart one who escaped from some institute and is his partner. When Miguel goes take a piss outside, Maria Rose strikes.

The others lament his death so they search the town for clues. They believe Maria Rose is hidden among them since Miguel didn’t draw his gun as he might have known this person. Then they stumble upon something and drag Julio out for a beat down. They find a cigarette butt on the scene and nobody but him here smokes. Julio believes he is framed and that Maria Rose has manipulated everyone to make them kill him. Any proof? Julio takes out his FBI badge! So who is the real culprit? Julio unmasks Miami Guns as the real Maria Rose! Remember, he has a keen sense of smell so there was gunpowder on them. Also, Julio can tell their vital statistics differ greatly from the real Miami Guns. Speaking of which, where are they? Pushing their car… The engine must have blown. Damn Kaken technology… A big gunfight ensues as Maria Rose takes the bartender as hostage. Julio suggests a duel. To their surprise, he is faster than them and even more baffling, he only fired one shot and how did he hit them both? Al got him covered. Even more surprise that Julio is not from the FBI. Looks like he is an impersonator having badges from the Miami police force, Scotland Yard and even hair dresser licence? Who is he? A messenger of peace who will save the world says he. Julio leaves town just as the real Miami Guns drag in. He gives Yao a passionate kiss and now she’s in love with him! What kind of justice is this? Lu is dumbfounded to see Maria AND Rose tied up and the bartender gets to keep the million dollar reward.

Episode 6
The Miami police will be receiving the assistance of FBI bomb specialist, Bruce Tsuji (you mean that Die Hard guy?!). Because the international terrorist, Joke Joedan has placed watermelon bombs all over Miami and is blackmailing them. Tsuji has been chasing this guy for 5 years and just when he found his hideout, he narrowly escaped. Tsuji demonstrates the bombs look, feel and smell like real watermelons but when cut, it explodes! Man, this Tsuji guy is a tough nut to crack because he can survive so many explosion demonstrations! I think the ladies are loving his iron dick. They have only a limited time to find them before it goes off tonight. As the police go look for the bomb, Yao is not interested and is rather interested in today’s pro wrestling final because her Jii is the coach for Watermelon Man. Say, doesn’t he look suspiciously familiar? However with Kaken creating a device to search for bombs, Yao won’t let her steal the limelight and starts searching. Too bad she turns up with nothing as Clarence and his force has already collected all the bombs. Joedan’s employer calls him about his miscalculation as the bombs are all collected (Joedan did this ransom thing because the cost of the bomb went over his budget). He wants his money back but Joedan is playing it cool since there is a wrestling match where the winner gets a million bucks. Yao is still not happy that the credit won’t go to her and her delusions of her saving the city by dumping the truckload of bombs into the ocean got to her. She hijacks the truck and the police are hot on her tail. Thanks to Kaken’s device, Lu finds her. After Yao returns from the toilet, the truck is missing. They trace it delivered to the wrestling stadium. Seems there is a special event whereby Watermelon Man will give out free watermelons as appreciation for fans. That is when Lu notices the similar looking moles on Watermelon Man’s arms and connects him to Joedan. They need to neutralize the bombs without letting the spectators know about it.

The wrestling match begins but as Watermelon Man rips apart his opponent, it is actually Yao in disguise! She beats him up to make him reveal where the detonator is. After Lu and Kaken bring back the pineapple detonator, Yao forces him to spill out the instructions to diffuse the bombs. (I can’t believe Tsuji and Clarence are going to explode them one by one. Tsuji won’t die but will Clarence…). Yao exerts too much power that Joedan faints. She continues the beating to wake him up but now he loses his memories! Oh no. Time is running out. At this rate it will be all Yao’s fault! Just when Yao beats out the final answer from Joedan, she realizes it is the wrong answer but Lu cuts the opposite wire and saves the day. Why did she do so? She knows well not to trust Yao! Clarence and Tsuji are going to give Yao her punishment for misconduct but surprisingly Lu and Kaken explain this was all Yao’s elaborate plan to catch the mastermind as he had the detonator. They might have got all the bombs but the culprit was still loose, right? No choice, the let her go. Yao becomes cocky and basks in her new credit. But why are the ladies backing her up so nicely? Because without her, they wouldn’t be able to collect the million dollar prize. Oh, Yao can’t get mad. Because they’ll tell the truth otherwise… Sly b*tches!

Episode 7
Yao tries to diffuse a bomb inside the police HQ. Too bad she screwed up and ran for her life. Boom! Actually Lu already did a good job in diffusing it but Yao thought she could do better and the rest is history. Instead of reflecting her actions, she is on a winning streak at a pachinko parlour! Clarence gets a surprised call from Yao’s dad. He wonders why he hasn’t fired her. Clarence tries to be modest but he is being told to fire Yao immediately. He thought letting his daughter do what she wanted and she would get bored of it but now this has dragged out too long. When Yao learns she has been fired, she drops a bomb on what is left on the police HQ!!! However Jii drops her into the ocean after that as part of her dad’s plan to cut her off from civilization. But you can’t just kill her off like that since she managed to wrestle a shark and bring it back on land! Unfortunately for her, her card has been stopped and she can’t use it to buy stuffs. Bumping into Lu, Yao accuses her of loving to see her in misery. On the contrary, Lu is worried as she could never tell what a wild animal would do when corner. Yao takes this as an insult and will show them. While trying to cook the shark, she smells something good from a nearby mansion and barges in. Oh wait. Isn’t his Nagisa’s home? The maid calls the police although Nagisa is not too happy since they have secrets they are hiding. With Yao making the place like her home, in no time the police surrounds it. Yao thought they are here to get her but noticing the guns in their hands, Nagisa lies that the police are suspecting her for a murder suspect. Nagisa plays the emotional card that she will go try convince them but once outside, she tells them to kill her! It will be the best revenge for Yao’s friends to kill her sworn enemy. However crazy Yao escapes (using Nagisa’s face as a landing pad).

Yao becomes a degenerating primitive wild woman called Miami Man and wreaking havoc across town. All traps by the police have failed. Not even Kaken’s banana trap or trying to convince her with words. Finally Lu’s tranquilizer takes her out. Back in the cage of her father’s mansion, seems Yao is gradually recovering her memories but that will take 3 full years (anticipated time). Her dad regrets his action but blames it on the Miami police. He doesn’t care how but he wants his daughter back the way she was. Otherwise the entire police force will be disbanded! Lu volunteers to bring her back. Yao doesn’t recognize her and attacks her. As she rips her clothes, her money fell out. That rings some familiar bells to her. Lu tries to get her to pronounce money and slowly bit by bit, Yao finally does so and returns to her normal self. This means she is keeping all that loose change. It is ironic that money represents civilization for Yao, they’re trying to say that money settles things! But you don’t know how deep Yao’s grudge runs because now she bombs daddy’s mansion!

Episode 8
Far off the coast of Miami is the resort island, Crystal Island. A camper is telling her mates about the murders that took place here. They got spooked thinking the killer crept up on them but it’s just some frogman police. Our Miami police girls are on this island to investigate a spate of murders. But Yao and Kaken seem to be more interested in having fun. Tempting, eh? Lu goes around to rid of trespassers since the place is off limits but all she could find are a straight couple and gay couple (George and Anthony???!!!). Because Yao is clueless as usual, Yao has to explain some back story of the case. Although it is believed that the killer was killed by police 5 years ago, his body was never found. Could it be he is back as a ghost? This freaks out Yao since it has come to our attention this girl is afraid of ghosts although she unconvincingly says she isn’t. Surprisingly the couples approach them. Seems their boats, the only ticket out here has been set adrift. Somebody cut off the ropes. And they’re stuck in a far off place with no signal. How long can Yao hold her sanity? When something is heard rumbling in the woods, Yao panics and rushes off, getting lost in the midst. Of course Lu goes to fetch her back but also takes a few chances to prank her with ghost faces.

When they return, they heard a scream. Did the killer or ghost make his move? Turns out the gay couple is playing having S&M play. Disappointed? Yao and Kaken get interested to see what the other couple is doing but they’re not in their next door cabin. They hear their real scream this time. The masked killer is real and is going to get them! Lu shoots and breaks the wooden axe. When the killer is unmasked, she turns out to be an old woman. She blames the straight couple as a pair of con artists. They conned her into buying a weird mask, using up her life savings. Who the blame? Yao becomes mad and wants to beat up the couple for all that they made her gone through. The old woman kills herself by leaping off the cliff. Lu jumps in to save her. She sees evil spirits trying to pull her down! She resigns to her fate but before passing out, she sees Yao jumping in to save her. Everybody is safe in the end and Lu is surprised that Yao actually saved her and was worried she was dead. But Yao calls it even because she realizes Lu can’t swim (maybe that’s why she refused to join in the fun earlier in the day). But Lu wonders if the spirits were just her illusions as it could be just seaweeds her feet was tangled with. The only way back is via a makeshift craft. Well, enjoy your ‘ocean resort’. Yao freaks out and almost drowns when Kaken shares the photos she took of her earlier in the day. There are ghosts in the background!!!

Episode 9
Nagisa is even resorting to black magic to curse Yao. But her henchmen suggest hiring an assassin and you can see her smile from ear to ear. With a $10 million bounty on her head, all sorts of assassins barge into Yao’s room to take her out. If not for Jii who took every bullet and stab from military men to ninjas and Yao’s extreme uncanny luck for walking out and not even getting a scratch anywhere. When she enters Miami police HQ, everyone is shocked to see her alive. There’s even a trail of destruction of her failed assassination that she didn’t even notice! Yeah… Miami is not a hot bed gathering of all assassins who is out for her head. Even Clarence joked he would could take her out to be richer. Yeah… They want her to stay low but she will not be cowed as she has more important things to do. Clarence thought Yao is being brave and a sign of motivation for the police they shouldn’t worry about their own life. Lu hates to break it to him that the important thing Yao was talking about is the Miss Miami contest held today. Feeling tempted to join the bounty hunt, Clarence? Julio gets a call for a job and he agrees to take it. At the backstage, Yao meets Nagisa who is participating. She puts up her nice façade but at her back, she really hates her and today is going to be her last day. As all the contestants strut their stuff on stage (Julio masquerading as the cameraman), suddenly a shot takes out Yao! OMG! Is she dead?! Lu cries for her when Yao wakes up! Thanks to Kaken, her swimsuit is bulletproof. Tears for nothing? It’s already shocking that nobody screamed or ran but just watched the ‘spectacle’. The contest carries on because Yao says so and the winner will be decided via obstacle race. What does this have to do with a beauty contest? Oh, no wonder there were no judges. Of course this race is suited for Yao who is going to bulldoze everyone.

The race is filled with traps designed to kill Yao but you know about her extreme luck. As for the rest of the contestants, they get into nip slip conditions. Too bad Nagisa stepped on her own bomb. In the control room, she is furious so she decides to unleash her ultimate weapon, Genichirou. He is in fact a giant octopus. In the pool, the octopus is also a pervy since it has a penchant of stripping swimsuits. Lu is in danger of being a victim when Julio signals to Al to make his move. A tranquilizer puts the octopus to sleep and Yao claims the glory all for herself. Nagisa is so desperate that she makes an announcement over the microphone (risking her voice to be recognized) for all assassins to kill Yao now! The prize will be paid 20 times more! Wow. You can see all assassins. From grandma to kids and even animals out for her head! WTF?! After Al has evacuated the real crowd, Julio bombs the ceiling. Then he gives guns to the girls for them to go wild. You can bet every assassin lost to this true monster. But there is one. And she is in the control room. Nagisa fears this is the end of her but she gets a sly idea. When Yao barges in, Nagisa acts like her henchmen put her up to all this. Instantly Yao takes them out. However Yao is not pleased that Lu won the contest. Nagisa curses another failure and notices Yao glaring suspicious stares at her. Julio is contacted by Yao’s father who has paid him for being Yao’s bodyguard. Although Julio says that girl doesn’t need one, father mentions he was just the insurance. The real bodyguard (Jii) seems to be frolicking with nurses at the hospital he is recuperating. You naughty old devil! Julio has also delivered a video to Yao’s father as part of the deal. A video of Yao in the contest. Enjoy.

Episode 10
Yao destroy a train company just to catch a thief! You bet the complaints and calls for compensation will be coming. Clarence says it is her responsibility to pay $5 billion so Yao thought she could call her daddy and pay. However he says no allowance for her! Looks like Clarence is going to deduct this from her pay! So is she going to work free forever? Hell, no! She’s going to rob her fellow police officers! Before that can happen, Clarence has her team up with a robot, Detective Robot R, believed to be made by the brains of HQ costing $10 billion! Why this drum can? Lu is on some undercover mission. As typical Yao is, she tries to pawn it (worth only $4), pimp it (who wants to screw with a robot?) and has it do manual labour (can’t get up after falling?). So when she’s troubled over repaying back the amount, R suggests going to a newly opened casino where with his brains he can help her win big. At the poker table, R whispers to Yao that everyone is calling a bluff and so Yao increases the stakes despite she has no hand. But the fatty boss also raises the stakes. Yao is cautious but R maintains he is also bluffing. So after Yao antes R, they show their hand. She has nothing but he has the weakest single pair. Fatty wins. R now belongs to him and goes over to his side. Did he betray her? Nope. He claims his calculations were perfect. She has bad luck. About her debt? Not his problem. This guy is good! Yao is kicked out and joins a homeless guy drinking. Yeah, he had to buy a vending drink can for her with his money! He claims he was fired from a train company after Miami Guns ruined it. He got blamed and his wife left him. Oh sh*t… When Yao sees a $100 bill stuck on his back, she takes it and claims she can double that amount. Typical gambler excuse. Meanwhile the fatty contacts his boss and is running a scam of cheating everyone. Lu is an undercover working here and heard this conversation. Oh, Julio too.

Yao blows it all! Only a coin left. Homeless guy wants his money back but Yao is still confident she can turn the tide! Then the money slips. Somebody picks up and plays the slots. Turns out to be Julio. His luck wins them $50 million! Homeless guy wants to share the money but Yao claims it is all hers and just gives him a few miserable coins. When he learns that Yao is part of Miami Guns, he is enraged. Time for revenge. Yao then bumps into Lu who tells her the shady operations of this casino. With R giving him great advice and the dealer is in cohorts with them, you can never beat fatty even with a zillion bucks. But Yao goes to play poker with him again. The stakes are raised so high and she doesn’t have enough. Don’t worry. Lu will loan some money. How nice. But with steep interest. Lu drugs the dealer’s drink to make him run to the toilet to take over his place. Julio joins the game. R as usual whispers to fatty that everybody is bluffing. Julio up the antes till it reaches a trillion! When it’s time to call, fatty’s straight beat Julio’s pairs. But Yao has got a flush! It’s her win! Homeless guy comes in with a gun to threaten Yao for his money back. Fatty steals his gun upon learning Yao is from the police in which Yao didn’t hesitate to reveal her identity. However the gun is a toy gun that homeless guy stole from a statue. Didn’t think he got the money to buy a real gun, eh? R pleads to go to the police station together but Yao kicks that drum can over on fatty. Julio leaves his winnings to homeless guy. Did he win? His actual hand is four of a kind! He said a pair but he actually had double pairs! He coolly leaves the casino and it explodes subsequently. Why? Because R has a self destruct code if he lies down for too long! OMG! So now Yao not only has $10 billion debt of destroying the robot but that loan from Lu too. To her dismay, she learns R was actually modelled after her. No wonder so familiar. So young, so in debt…

Episode 11
Aota Saburo just got out of prison and he had the bad luck to molest Yao. Naturally he gets beaten up and sent back to do time. Oddly, Nagisa just came out from the police HQ and passing by Yao, she invites her to her house for her birthday party. After Aota gets locked up, he initiates his plan to set the prison on fire and all the convicts escape. Although the police manage to capture most of them, a few remains elusive and they are the past villains of this series. Unsurprisingly, they are all hired by Nagisa for the birthday setup. Lu questions Yao’s blind friendship with Nagisa. She claims they are the same and it makes Lu sound like a jealous friend. When Yao arrives for the party, the criminals take her hostage. As Nagisa is playing the victim like as though those convicts set her up, Yao has no choice but to obey and gets beaten up. Wow. She sits there and takes a beating without fighting back! Even the baddies don’t feel the fun. One of the underlings who was sent to do an errand (because Nagisa views him as disposable anyway) goes out drinking and he so happened to bump into Lu who makes him spill the beans with his blabbermouth. This makes Lu to be sure that Nagisa is the mastermind behind this. So she busts into the mansion and takes down the villains all by herself. Is Lu mad seeing Yao hurt? But here’s another surprise. Yao wants to save Nagisa despite being beaten up badly. Meanwhile Nagisa contacts the boss of the Organization and if she succeeds with her revenge, she will earn a place in the Organization. When Lu barges into Nagisa’s room, she deduces her revenge plot. Yao still doesn’t believe. She might be set up by someone. But has she got proof? Lu kicks Aota’s stomach to make him spit out gasoline. This guy is like a human pump and the one responsible for the prison fire. Then the dumb maid comes in with the birthday cake. She slips and the entire place is on fire. Yao saves Nagisa and takes her to safety.

As Nagisa sees the Organization’s boss, he mentions although the incident was hard to cover up for Nagisa’s family, the Organization still managed to secure Nagisa’s release despite she remains a high suspect in the police’s books for the incident. He gives her a bouquet of roses and tells her to use it however she likes. She is now visiting Yao in hospital. She still treats her like her friend. And then Yao had to pour cold water on it that Nagisa is truly the culprit behind this. Her butler, maid and all those hired criminals she lowly paid to keep their mouths shut, all ratted on her. Yao still refuses to believe and this irritates Nagisa so much that she just admits it all! I guess she’s not shedding crocodile tears about being lonely and doesn’t need friends. Yao can feel her pain. She somewhat understands. They’re pretty similar, right? Lu might look like a cold hearted b*tch trying to arrest Nagisa but she says they are still the police and it’s their job. Nagisa clutches the roses so tight that its poisonous thorns cause her to bleed. Although she is quickly saved, she is now in a coma. Yao is discharged but is feeling gloomy and spacing out at the same time. Apparently with Lu having information she is working for someone still doesn’t deter Yao because she knows she is still going to arrest her as a cop. Believe it or not, she resigned from the force.

Episode 12
Yao has been missing for a week. She’s been going around beating up small fries to get information about the Organization. No luck. Whether they know or not, they get beaten up real good. Stress relief? Then she stumbles into Julio and is in no mood for his flirting. Till he mentions about some information on the Organization. You interested? She is disappointed-cum-deceived of his shabby place and instant coffee he serves her. She warns him not to fool around so he mentions about the information he got after doing his investigations. All crimes in Miami are completely under the control of the Organization. Nobody knows its true character. This reliable source led him to a name: Kanimiso Gang. Crab brains? That is for real and not a joke! Since this information isn’t free, he wants to make love with her but she is clearly not in the mood. Okay. He’ll settle for her cooperating to take down this group. Oh by the way, the instant coffee is expired. On a luxury liner, an important meeting is taking place and you might have guessed, the big boss will be here. The entire Miami police force could be on watch on this ship. But the duo slip in with Al putting up his cutesy act to deceive the guards. And the rest they just use their fists.

As they go separate ways, Yao bumps into Lu. She threatens to arrest her since she knows she’ll be pulling off some sort of nuisance. But Lu wants Yao to come back to the force as she told Clarence she took leave. Yao won’t listen and will do things her way. Lu fires a warning shot but this doesn’t deter Yao a bit. Lu makes up a fake reward to motivate her comrades capture Yao. The big chase begins onboard the ship. Kanimiso’s big boss initiates his operation. All the ship’s crew are his underlings as they take everyone and all the dignitaries as hostage. Julio didn’t expect to reunite with Yao again. All that running around must have made her reach here in this room which contains a ballistic missile. Lu is also here and wants to know more about what is going on but before Julio can spill the beans, the guards discover them and they have to run. Julio throws them a diskette that contains vital information. Julio is then confronted with Sergio who is not only Kanimiso’s second in command but the big brother of Maria Rose. He is here for revenge. The only way to settle this is a quick draw. Shockingly, Julio loses. So sad when a handsome guy dies? Seems this affects Yao a lot seeing him fall down the floor beneath. Why all the ‘romantic’ flashbacks with him? She’s sad. She’s mad. She still won’t listen to Lu to come back to the force and goes to the room where the big boss is as told by Julio. To her shock, she couldn’t believe the big baddie puppet master is no other than her father.

Episode 13
However Yao’s father has overslept and wakes up to attend the summit. Yao realizes she got the wrong room. So when she opens the right room… OMG! Anthony x George making out!!! WTF?! Is it gay time already?! Lu ties up Yao and tells her she has been duped by Julio. Because Clarence and the other police are not responding (they’ve been held hostage and so does Yao’s dad who just waltz right into it), Lu goes to check it out. Kaken tries to analyze the disk but since she cannot crack the code, surprisingly Anthony has the skills to do so. Lu brings back injured Julio. He reveals this is actually in activation code for the missile and its target coordinates. Kanimiso stole the missile from a foreign country but couldn’t get the key card to launch it because he stole it. They offered him a large sum of money in exchange on this ship. Julio knew they couldn’t be trusted and arrived earlier to check it out and true enough, they won’t be paying him. With the missile’s coordinates targeting Miami, Lu gets hyped up over this conspiracy and breaks free from her ropes. She wants to rejoin the police force and Lu couldn’t be happier to throw her badge back. The big boss reveals he is targeting Miami because he wants to kill all the rich people. He couldn’t forget the humiliation that day. Looks like some nuclear fallout aftermath and the rich kicked out the poor to build a city of greed and corruption. He will relish in seeing all the rich people burn. Yao and Julio are captured. Sergio wants to kill him but the boss doesn’t want him to be so hasty yet. Julio does not have the key card with him but will gladly exchange it with the money and free all the hostages. So once the money is given and the hostages rounded up at the deck, Julio calls Al to hand over the key card. The boss lets him free but he will let Sergio decide where he wants to go. Sergio wants to duel with him again but sneaky Julio has hidden guns up his sleeves. With both sides injured, they continue their gun slinging.

If you’re wondering where Lu and Kaken are, it is because they are trying to disarm the missile. Can they do it? They’re not rocket scientists, you know. Better be quick because everyone is counting on them. The big boss sets the key card and wants Yao’s dad to do the honours in destroying the city or else he’ll have his daughter shot. Yao is bored with all this and has one of the terrorists hand over her gun. A headshot to the boss and they fire away to the other terrorists. Anthony and George were masquerading as the terrorists. However the big boss is still alive because he is wearing a metal mask and has already pressed the activation. 60 seconds till impact. He takes Yao’s dad as hostage but Yao kept thinking of Nagisa and shoots through dad’s shoulders to reach the baddie’s heart! As the missile is launching, Yao jumps on to ride with Lu for she doesn’t want her to hog the limelight. Ah, so Yao… They reconcile being partners but of course Yao gloats she is the bigger one. Moments before smashing into the city, Yao tries to turn the missile away since it is like a plane. A close shave that almost smashed into the hospital. But it woke up Nagisa. But now it is turning back to the ship. Julio and Sergio’s duel ends when Al bites the latter’s crotch. I don’t know what component Lu ripped out but there was no explosion when the missile crashed into the ship. The ladies safely parachuted down into the sea. Julio passes by them and you bet Yao is angry when he admits he was faking his injury with ketchup just to get her sympathy. It was also as insurance in case she wants to kill him for finding out he used her as bait. Thanks to her, his money is safe. Adios, senorita. No matter how mad she is, she can’t outrun a speedboat. But Julio might be just lying to her since his injury is real. Don’t want a troublesome woman to fall for him, eh? In the aftermath, Nagisa is amnesiac but it is for the best since she is happy and cheerful. Then she got run over by Yao’s car as she is chasing a thief who stole her money! Nagisa instantly recognizes her and vows revenge! Oh dear… Bad times are back… Yao’s dad knows his daughter will kill him if she finds out he invested money in that missile. Better keep quiet…

Police Brutality!
As silly and sometimes annoying as it comes, I have to admit that I enjoyed this series overall. Not to say that I set my expectations low nor did I set it in a way that it surpasses them. But at the end of the wacky ride, I am very much entertained with all the absurdity and nonsense. And going by that itself, I think it is already a pretty good job for a ‘retro’ anime that premiered back in 2000. And perhaps a sequel was never warranted because Yao already ‘killed off’ the big baddie when he is giving his typical villain monologue that he will return for the second or third time just to shut him up so she can celebrate her victory. That is how big of a badass Yao is that no super villain can usurp her! But I guess not badass enough to warrant her own spin-off series… Whoops! Shouldn’t be saying that or it will give her the wrong impression…

Making the series work is of course the cop pair of contrasting personality. I suppose that is why many movies and series that fall under this genre work well because of the funny and strange interactions they make. They become the strange bedfellows and so bizarre their cooperation in getting things done, sometimes lady luck has no choice but to smile on them and make things go their way. Of course there are times when such pairing becomes generic and ubiquitous and that ultimately bring the show down to its knees. Thankfully it isn’t the case here because with ‘amazing’ main characters, you won’t be bored in seeing how they go about solving crimes in Miami. Well, sort of. I wonder even if the duo have saved Miami, would it be a curse because now the duo will continue being rampant. If it was destroyed, everyone could have forever ‘rest in peace’. No more worries of crimes and police incompetency. Yeah, and where would the fun be, right?

Of course the biggest win and fail of this series goes to Yao who is no doubt the show stealer (I think she wants it to be that way either). She is like a double edge sword. She is the freaking culprit who wreaks havoc upon the city and solves them. Well actually more of the former and if the latter ever happens, it isn’t entirely in a good way. Yao is exactly the kind of character you would love to hate thanks to her spoilt carefree b*tchiness that just annoys you with no end. Despite that, ultimately you cannot bring yourself to hate her and the most find her amusing either since she does make you laugh with her silly and unconventional dumb luck. It is hard to say whether if the city would have been better off without her since he does what she wants just because she has 2 cents more, doesn’t listen to others (just because she has 3 cents more) and takes the law into her own hands all for the sake of her own glory and centre of attention. Nobody will ever outshine her ever! Makes you feel like you want to beat up a b*tch, eh?

Especially her trademark quote each time a case is solved (or so she thinks), “Justice is served!”. Yeah. Whose justice may I ask? Without her, Miami would have been such a boring place and a breeding ground for criminals because if you think about it, the police force is such a bunch of unmotivated f*ckers and if you want to wait for proper procedures and not barge in first like Yao, the crime is already dusted and done. Therefore I believe her motto would be shoot first, ask questions never. You go girl! Yao isn’t entirely a b*tch since she does have a rare human side although it is her misplaced blind friendship loyalty to Nagisa. When her so called best friend takes the fall, you can see the change in her eyes that she really means business and serious in taking down the culprit. So do you still love or hate her? Or both? Despite her outrageous behaviour and clashing personality with Lu, don’t you think she has a soft spot that she cares about her? Maybe she is just being tsundere the wild way? Anyway, despite having some humane side, she is more of a wild beast at other times. After all, who would Yao be if not her b*tchy self? And I don’t think would have it any other way either.

Ah, where would Yao be without the ever serious and calm Lu? I’m sure you have noticed that there are a handful of times that if not for Lu, Yao would have been dead meat. Despite her deadpan face, in addition to be the brains and solving pieces of the puzzle, Lu also has her ‘funny’ side as she mostly plays the rebuking role to Yao’s antics and stupidity. Sometimes you wonder with her emotionless face and expressionless speeches, was she born with that kind of looks or has the hard biting crime reality of Miami got to her. You could also say that Lu has a soft spot for her partner and deeply cares for her. There are times when she genuinely cries over her if you noticed. Just like Yao, she just doesn’t show it or say it upfront. Is she being tsundere too? Ah well, relationship between women, so complicated that men just can’t understand! Haha!

Other side characters are funny and memorable in their own way. Though, I believe not memorable enough to hog away the limelight from Yao. Like Clarence who is always stressing out as the chief cop over Yao’s outrageous behaviour that costs money for repairs and at the expense of the police’s image. It still boggles me that with all that stress, how come his afro hairstyle is still thick and black. Because at this rate, he should be losing them all by pulling them out. I don’t know if he will look menacing as a bald chief but this afro only enhances his comical joker role. This guy could be a stand up comedian if he isn’t working in the police force. Then there is Kaken who doesn’t really make an impact in the show overall and even if she does, it is her wacky inventions that aren’t useful in a practical sense but they do serve their purpose at least for their little role in the episode. For instance, that handy detector that detects the smell of Yao’s socks and shoes. WTF. Jii is a mysterious guy because aside from serving as Yao’s butler, he is known to wear so many hats in the past that it is like he was everywhere and done everything before. Who is this guy who is a killer with the ladies?

Julio serves as the cool mysterious hero who aids our Miami Guns from time to time. So cool that it makes me wonder if he is some sort of wolf in sheep clothing because you can’t tell what is on his mind although his track record sees him helping out Miami Guns directly or indirectly. Is he friend or is he foe? Maybe they want to put in some little romance in addition to the comedy, drama and action so little hints of Julio x Yao although it amounts to nothing. That guy is a smooth con operator after all. Heck, I even though it could be turning yuri with Yao x Lu but that didn’t happen either. But there was certainly Anthony x George gay time! Yikes! To complete the cliché, you need a pet mascot and as silly as Al the alligator look, you can’t dismiss how cute it looks, right? Awww… So cute!

Nagisa’s stress in ridding of Lu is similar to Clarence. Just that she is on the opposite side of the divide. Her attempts to get revenge on her always backfire. Sometimes it is cruel to think that it is divine retribution for this ‘bad girl’ to want revenge but that even badder girl gets away scot free without even knowing what hit her. Don’t you just feel sorry for her? And when she tried to take her life that becomes the catalyst for Yao to change herself and take action, I’m not sure if I should feel pity for her since due to the nature of this anime, you shouldn’t be feeling any love lost for any of this sort of characters. At the end of the series, her role in the series as the bad luck girl is cemented because with her getting her ugly memories back, you can bet that as long as Yao lives, she will never have peace in her life (not that she can rest in peace even if she’s dead because I believe her soul will always be in torment). She will always bear the brunt of Yao’s atrocities so long she continues to remember this wild monkey girl.

Also making this series funny in addition to the outrageous and nonsensical stuffs Yao pulls off, his the several parodies that this series makes references to. Sometimes I feel that the visual style of the title of each episode is a giveaway on the kind of parody it will refer to for the episode. You can spot references from Friday The 13th, Saturday Night Live, Die Hard, Initial D and even Neon Genesis Evangelion peppered throughout the series. On this topic of parody, after watching the series, it occurs to me that the biggest irony that the setting of this Miami city in this anime isn’t exactly the real Miami city in USA. If you think about it, you can spot the vast difference between both cities. Like this series’ Miami is set near the mountains and deserts unlike the everglades and seaside. What about the people that seemingly look and talk like Japanese? Because if you consider Florida as the nearest state to the Caribbean, shouldn’t you see more Hispanics instead? If you are sharp enough, you will see the store signs are in Japanese instead of Spanish (real life Miami has many signs in this language) and this city is right hand drive instead of left. Oh, did you notice this too? Miami has its own currency! With all this ‘facts’, it feels like they have only taken Miami in name and nothing of the real city resembles anywhere close to it. I thought there was a town in Japan called Miami, you know, something like that town called Obama, but nothing of that sort.

There is a handful of delicious fanservice although don’t expect it to be spamming you every five minutes or so. Seeing Lu getting her clothes snipped away and dangerously revealing her undies or just Yao who has no qualms running around in her panties (basically that is what the entire final episode has her dressed in) because it means the more people looking at her, the more she is at the centre of attraction. It would be such a waste not to flaunt that hot bod of hers, right? If you have it, flaunt it! We guys couldn’t agree more. Funnily, I read that Al is supposed to be a perverted little alligator. I don’t remember seeing him being perverted in subsequent episodes after his debut in trying to peak into Yao’s panties (lack of screen time, I guess), but in the opening credits, you can see this little green creature cheekily fascinating over our main characters’ panties in some scenes. I wonder if he is planning to steal Yao’s panties. Oh, art and drawing you ask? Feels pretty okay especially for a 2000 era anime. Nothing to complain. Some scenes using CGI. Pretty okay too for that era although it looks pretty dated right now.

As said Yukari Tamura was the seiyuu that sealed the deal for me to watch this series, being familiar with her trademark squeaky voice, I was expecting her to be in Yao’s role. To my surprise, she plays Lu instead. This is not the first time I have heard pulling off such emotionless character role like Saku in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Ringo in Nourin and Ichigo in Onegai Teacher and of course that suspicious Lemon in Ano Natsu De Matteiru. Instead, it is Megumi Toyoguchi who plays that carefree Yao instead. Playing vast character roles throughout her anime career that includes Meg from Bakuretsu Tenshi, Revy from Black Lagoon, Winry from Fullmetal Alchemist, Chifuyu from Infinite Stratos and even a very similar character to our Yao in the form of Ran of Super GALS, she definitely does sound fitting to her role. So instead of being disappointed of not hearing Yukari Tamura’s trademark voice, I have somewhat perfectly settled into their portrayed characters.

The rest of the other casts include Akira Ishida as Julio (Zeref in Fairy Tail), Rie Tanaka as Kaken (Suigin Tou in Rozen Maiden), Chiaki Osawa as Nagisa (Tamami in Tenshi No Shippo), Mitsuru Ogata as Clarence (Issei’s father in High School DxD series) and Tomomichi Nishimura as Jii (Anzai in Slam Dunk). On a trivial note, I found out that Yukari Tamura is also the voice of Al but that little alligator doesn’t have any real lines but make cute squeaking sounds so I guess I didn’t recognize her. Heh, I thought alligators roar? The opening theme, Seeds by Lastier is a solid rock outfit that gets you into the pace of what to expect from this series. The ending theme on the other hand sounds a little groovier although Kiseki No Shiro by Epidemic would ultimately be another rock piece. Not bad actually.

Overall, remember not only to leave your brains at the doorstep but also your moral values if you want to watch and enjoy this silly yet satisfying police series. If you want to call it that. A fun buddy cop series made even more fun by the fact that our main duo are females as opposed to the predominantly male stereotypes of this genre. In a nutshell, a fun and wacky ride that will leave you pleased in your guilty pleasure and escapades. Justice is served. With a police officer like Yao in the force, will your city be safe or dangerous? It’s too close to call. But be sure of one thing. Stay the hell out of her way and don’t cross her path if you would love to see tomorrow’s daylight. I suppose in today’s time the slightest misconduct from the police would send the public enrage and putting up protests all over the place. If Yao really existed, she could have beaten the crap out of all of them and then claim all the glory for quelling the nuisance. Yeah, I figure that is why sometimes we close an eye and let incidents like this slide. Justice definitely not served.

Is it me or is it that idols are getting more ubiquitous than before? What’s wrong with that, you say? Actually there isn’t anything wrong about idols being a dime a dozen these days. Except that an awful lot of them don’t really play at least a musical instrument. Not even the instrument that is ‘easiest to pick up’, the guitar. No, really. This isn’t anything alerting nor am I trying to highlight something. Seriously, nothing implying. Good ol’ rock bands aren’t dying out yet. And since I myself play the guitar, I just noticed that there are a handful of rock band animes out there. Well, not much but it’s better than nothing. Even rarer are the fact of seeing girls jamming with them or an all-girls rock band. It may be common in reality but in the world of anime, you don’t often see much of this. So here are a handful of anime girls who play the guitar. Show me those riffs!

Guitarist: Yui Hirasawa and Azusa Nakano.
Anime: K-ON!
Band: Houkago Tea Time (Afterschool Tea Time).
Guitar model: Gibson Les Paul (Yu) and Fender’65 Mustang (Azusa).
Comment: Probably the most famous girl guitarists when you mention girls with guitar thanks to the moe elements that made them popular. Airhead Yui must be a talented genius despite having no prior experience in playing a guitar and only mastering it in a short time. Besides, how often do you have such person ending up as a band’s lead guitarist anyway? Probably it was before backup novice guitarist Azusa came in but even so, Azusa remained as the band’s second guitarist by her own consent.

Guitarist: Super Sonico.
Anime: Super Sonico The Animation.
Band: First Astronomical Velocity.
Guitar model: Gibson SG.
Comment: Another popular female guitarist that comes to mind is this busty mascot that was created for a game developer company. It was only a matter of time before she got her own set of fans and a self-titled anime. Am I seeing a trend that airheads make talented lead guitarists?

Guitarist: Masami Iwasawa, Hisako and Yui.
Anime: Angel Beats.
Band: Girls Dead Monster AKA GirlDeMo.
Guitar model: Fender Stratocaster (Iwasawa and Yui) and Fender Jazzmaster (Hisako).
Comment: Who says there can’t be music in the afterlife? But the band staging concerts aren’t just for fun and entertainment. It is part of a battle operation as diversion to distract NPCs while other non-band members attempt to take out Tenshi. Hisako had a traumatic experience with a band prior to joining GirlDeMo but after watching Iwasawa play, she picked it back up again and became to band’s lead guitarist. After Iwasawa’s disappearance, Yui replaces her as the band’s rhythm guitarist. The legend carries on…

Guitarist: Miyuki Enomoto and Takako Nakanishi.
Anime: Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu.
Band: ENOZ.
Guitar model: Italia Mondial II Woody (Miyuki) and Gibson SG (Takako).
Comment: Parodied and based on a real life J-pop band, not much is known about these girls. They only appear in brief cameos throughout the series especially during the school cultural festival arc but I don’t remember seeing them in action because due to injuries, they were replaced by Haruhi and Nagato respectively during the actual day performance.

Guitarist: Cyan Hijirikawa and Chuchu.
Anime: Show By Rock.
Band: Plasmagica.
Guitar name: Strawberry Heart and Antique Batman Guitar respectively.
Comment: In a world where music rocks (pun intended) and those who rule their songs rule the world, I guess it is every band’s dream to put on a sparkling performance and reach to the top as well as reverberate through the hearts of fans alike. It is literally a dog eat dog world here and the competition gets even harder when there’s a music lord trying to take over the entire music of the universe. Who’d knew trying to reach number one also means saving the world.

Guitarist: Chihiro Kosaka and Ayumi Takehara.
Anime: The World God Only Knows.
Band: 2-B Pencils.
Comment: Chihiro formed this band of hers after being ‘saved’ by Keima. The tension in their friendship over that guy had Ayumi ‘unable to join the band’ but it was resolved in the end as she finally joined them in playing for the Mai-High Festival.

Guitarist: Haruka Kazemachi and Kurumi Etou.
Anime: Girlfriend (Kari).
Band: Neuron Cream Soft.
Comment: I don’t know much about a dating simulation game that has got over 100 girls. What more, an anime adapted into it and trying to cram in a bunch of them. I mean, when you have so many girls, you try to give each one some sort of personality and I guess being a rocker girl is one. Not much is known about their background (unless you play the game, I suppose) since there is only an episode dedicated to the band but even so that isn’t much…

Guitarist: Billy Jo AKA Ruu.
Anime: Pokemon Best Wishes.
Band: Koffing And The Toxics.
Comment: I didn’t see this anime so I can’t comment much. So I don’t know if the English version, her name was based on We Didn’t Start The Fire star, Billy Joel. I guess in this series, everyone can be a Pokemon trainer. Including punk rock band members. Gotta catch ‘em all, really. Thankfully, it’s a Pokemon battle that they will battle it out. Don’t want to hear Ash singing, don’t ‘cha?

Guitarist: Himeko.
Anime: Sket Dance.
Band: Yabasawa Books, subsequently The Sketchbook.
Comment: Although only featured shortly for the Kaimei Rock Festival, Himeko even taught Bossun how to play a guitar! She was drafted as Moe Yabasawa band’s guitarist but after all the members coincidentally fell ill before the performance day, thus the makeshift group of The Sketchbook with her Sket Dance members is formed so as not to let it all go to waste. On a trivial note, The Sketchbook is the only non-all-girl band in this list.

Rock On, Girls!
This list is of course not meant to be exhaustive as there might be lots more of girl rockers out there. Just that like in real life, they are obscure and not known very well to the public. As you can see, that many of these girls playing the part of the guitarist are also the ones who are the band’s songwriters and taking on the role as the band’s lead vocalist. That definitely makes them a talented lot, right? Such people should be considered as front runners for the Grammy’s because they write, compose and arrange the songs themselves and some even play multi-instruments. Instead of those who let others write the songs for them and play not a single instrument (not even a triangle?). So show these girls the same amount of respect and admiration too as you do for idols. After all, all they want is to entertain their fans with their brand of music.

Joukamachi No Dandelion

January 23, 2016

It has been handed down by tradition and generations that normally for a monarchy, the eldest son of the royal family would be the one to inherit the throne when the king passes on. I am not sure if there are any in this world, but even if there are, it would be a very rare feat when the next king is chosen via election! Not just election among the royal family members, but election by the normal people! Hmm… I don’t think it ever exists in this world. But it does here in Joukamachi No Dandelion. The proud king of a Japanese-like country (or is it just Japan itself) decides that the next king would be decided via elections. What better way than to gauge the budding king by installing cameras everywhere in the streets! Holy cow! There goes the privacy. Every move you make… Every breath you take… Every step you take… I’ll be watching you… Holy cow…

And so for over a year, his sons and daughters engage in brutal mudslinging, character assassinations, backstabbing, vote rigging, bribery, kickbacks and underhanded tactics to outwit and outlast the other just to inherit the throne. Just kidding!!! You’d wish that happened, right? Please not that this isn’t some sort of Game of Thrones style anime here. No blood, no violence, no deaths, no cheats and no despair or sorrow whatsoever. Our siblings here get along just fine and despite the looming election, we see them going about with their daily lives, mixing with the ordinary citizens, helping them out, etc. Where’s the fun in all that?!

Episode 1
The Sakurada family might look like a typical big family. With 11 members, I guess you have to really wait for your turn to use the toilet. However there is a thing that sets this family apart from the rest. They are the royalty of this country! Their father Souichirou who is the king believes his children should live a normal neighbourhood life. Because all 9 children are expected to become candidates in next year’s election for the heir to the throne, the streets are filled with cameras watching their every move! This does not sit very well with Akane as she is a very shy person and would love to do away with all the attention. Each of the children has a special power and for Akane’s case, it is gravity control and this allows her to fly. Akane might be shy when the townspeople greet her or even her school friends but when a snatch thief comes running by, she doesn’t hesitate to go stop him. She wanted to drop kick on him but because this move exposes her panties, she tries to cover up and ends up giving him a knee kick. It sure took him out for good. Now she has to dread the TV interview and giving police statement. Too much attention! There is even a special TV programme that showcases the approval rating of the royal children. Wow. Reality TV for royals. Akane fears it would increase her popularity as they keep showing that knee kick footage! Souichirou then makes a sudden announcement that his children will appear in a TV game show. As part of the programme to appeal to the masses, they are to gather little lion soft toys on a roof and into their basket. The last one will have to clean the castle toilets for a month. Akane is okay with getting last since it will not make her stand out.

The siblings are also encouraged to display their super powers. A cue for getting to know them and their unique ability. Like Teru who has super strength as he uses it to climb the building. Hikari can manipulate the growth of life but she grows them too high and now she is stuck. Kanade can materialize whatever she thinks but ironically I don’t understand how this would deduct her money in her bank account. Misaki can clone herself and each clone has independent thinking while Shiori has the ability to talk to animate and inanimate objects. Aoi can memorize anything and never forgets and Shuu has teleportation. Haruka might be the geekiest since his ability is to determine the probabilities of various possibilities. He proposes Akane to team up to increase their chance of not getting last. She is fine with this last place till he reminds her the countless number of toilets and people she will meet while cleaning them. Motivated enough to participate? In the end, Shuu has the most while Akane and Hikari are joint last with nothing. The preliminary polls are also out and it seems Akane is in second place! Looks like her popularity is increasing. Although Souichirou gives his children some motivational talk about being hopes for the country, Akane still wishes she is just a dandelion minding its own business in the field. But when Aoi says if she becomes king and can abolish all the cameras, Akane is motivated to win the election. Such a simpleton.

Episode 2
Akane and Hikari must know now how hard it is cleaning the castle toilets. I wonder how many more to go… Akane is being the usual shy girl going to school. This time she clings so close to Kanade that it really annoys her. She would really like to tell her off but with the cameras watching, she can’t take any drastic action. But Akane finds herself in a catch-22 situation when Kanade mentions even if she becomes king and abolishes all the cameras, everyone’s attention will be on her well simply because she’s king. So you still want to be king? Just when Kanade manages to make Akane let go of her, she makes a mad dash! Akane chases closely behind. If you’re wondering why she won’t fly, it’s because she fears of exposing her panties. It seems the entire nation knows about it ever since that incident. No wonder her popularity soared. When Akane sees a cat going to be run over by a truck, she uses her power to save it. But she cannot escape in time so Kanade materializes some shock absorbent wall in between them. Akane would like the pay Kanade back since the amount deducted from her account is equivalent to the value of the things materialized. So is she going to work her entire life to pay back 40 million? Think not.

Akane wants to draw lots with her siblings thinking she has a better chance of not doing the shopping errand. Unfortunately… Yeah, she got exactly that. She pleads to switch with Shuu for cleaning but in exchange she needs to change her hairstyle. Shuu’s classmate, Hana Satou obviously has a crush on him. Nice, kind and considerate guy. Yeah, every girl’s dream. Being royalty is icing on the cake. She’s daydreaming about him when he pops up before her. The close proximity of their faces, he accidentally spits milk in her face! Hana’s friends can tell she likes Shuu and plays a prank by pushing her onto him. When Hana forgot to say goodbye to him after school, she is surprised to see him walking back with a girl. I suppose she couldn’t recognize Akane’s change in hairstyle. She starts getting paranoid of this new girlfriend of his and tails them. And you know how Akane is so clingy when she’s in public, right? So when the siblings realize somebody is tailing them and corner her, they want an explanation. That is when Hana admits she likes him. Despite shocking for everyone, Shuu claims he can’t give an answer now as he is concentrating on the elections. She doesn’t mind waiting after then. He promises he will give her his answer after the elections. Hana gets a surprised call from Shuu that night just to wish her goodnight. She wonders if he really likes her and of all girls, why her? Maybe it’s her simplicity? He notes that she never changed all these years since they were childhood friends. Akane has got a lot on her mind especially if Shuu will date Hana after the elections and why Shuu doesn’t want Kanade to win the elections. Maybe she shouldn’t think aloud and bother her sleeping sisters.

Episode 3
Kanade talks about the irony that Aoi is currently leading the standings but she isn’t interested in becoming king. Imagine if she does, how far would her popularity soar? Hikari on the other hand would just transform herself into a busty version. Even if that only last for 24 hours, the problem is everyone would know who she is instead of judging her by her appearance. In hopes of appealing to the masses, Hikari accompanies Akane out for shopping. However Akane would love to avoid all the places with cameras. Since they take the back alleys, Akane loses Hikari since the latter got distracted following a stray cat. Now does she have to go shopping alone? The cat is stuck up the tree so Hikari grows herself to take it down. When Akane finds her, she couldn’t recognize her. Hikari is hiding because now that she has grown big, her clothes no longer fit and this would mean public indecency. How did they get back safely? She turned Akane into a little kid and they swap clothes. Akane becomes Misaki’s plaything for the next 24 hours. Shuu notes Hikari could have just shrunk the tree. Didn’t think about that, did she? I don’t know what trial Teru is so desperate to overcome that he wants to do an errand (younger siblings in the household are exempted). So he agrees to swap Akane’s shopping errand but Shiori is worried for him and accompanies him. True enough, Teru is forgetful and gets into minor bumps but luckily Shiori has got him covered. On the way back when a stray dog attacks Shiori for food, Teru uses his power to stomp the ground to scare it off. Seems he made a contract with mom not to use his power recklessly. But if Shiori is put in danger, he’ll gladly rip that contract apart. They walk home holding hands.

After Hikari’s favourite idol, Sachiko Yonezawa gets lots of fans in her debut, she gets an idea of increasing her popularity by being an idol. Haruka finds out about this and agrees to help her achieve her goal. So what is with all the harsh training? I thought Hikari was going to be some SEAL commando or something. Because Hikari has been using another identity, on the day of the audition, she is required to show her ID. The reception thought there was a mistake when they see her as they are not recruiting primary kids. Back to the drawing board. Then when a scout invites her, she doesn’t hesitate to accept. The agency finds her talented and would love to meet with her guardians. When she brings them home, they realize the royalty family she comes from. You should see them prostrating before the king, begging him to let his daughter be an idol. You thought Souichirou is going to say, “Off with their heads!”, right? Well, he gladly agrees! And now Hikari has made her idol debut alongside her favourite idol, there is just one small miscalculation. Haruka points out if she is doing this to increase her popularity, wouldn’t hiding her identity be pointless? Didn’t think about that, did she? I too wonder if the entire nation doesn’t recognize this royal sister.

Episode 4
That stray cat is now part of the family. He is named Borscht and Akane wonders why he rather chew plastic bag than eat real cat food. Shiori reads his mind that he is disappointed in expecting royalty food. Chewing the plastic bag is to show it tastes better than their food! When Akane barely arrives at school in time, this one shocking thing that has everyone staring… Has Akane forgotten to wear her skirt???!!! OMG! But her jersey is long enough to cover and make you wonder if she’s even wearing anything at all! Even her childhood friend-cum-classmate, Karen Ayugase is having wild thoughts whether if she purposely forgot to wear them. Of course nobody got the guts to tell her about this folly and Karen especially fears she will die of embarrassment! Soon, rumours of Akane not wearing her skirt goes around. Aoi calls her to check. It is when Akane realizes she forgot… Her handphone! Then Kanade who is also the vice student council president, calls to see her. Suddenly all the guys get this devilish idea. Because the student council office is on the higher floor, she must climb a flight of stairs. Time to ascertain. Woah! Suddenly where did all those zombie robot guys come from?! But Kanade pops up before Akane and instantly in her surprise mentions about her no-skirt. That is when Akane clears the air that she didn’t come to school wearing nothing. On the way to school while trying to hide from the characters, her skirt accidentally gets torn and so she replaced wearing it with pants. She lifts up her jersey to show the proof. Hey wait… OMFG!!! OH NO!!! All the guys got free fanservice and died of loss of blood. Including Karen. I wonder if Akane really died of embarrassment. Man, a mystery of mass deaths in a bloodied hallway, if that really happens…

Many of the school students never know the mysterious student council president as they have never seen that person in person. But Akane suspects her classmate, Hajime Fukushina because there seems to be some people calling him president although he quickly reprimands them not to. In a secret place, Fukushina and his underlings discuss about Kanade’s decision for the school to organize a mass town cleanup. Because this is making a certain person troubled. Fukushina confronts Kanade to rescind that order but she won’t as this is part of the 40 million payback Akane owes her. Kanade convinces Fukushina that he will get to see Akane’s embarrassed side. Shuu seems to be one of those few who knows Fukushina is the president. When his friend asks him to help rescind the order, he talks to Kanade about it but upon learning Akane will be fine (and nothing about Fukushina marrying her since he would never allow it!), he gives an ambiguous answer that it is done. Fukushina talks to Aoi who thinks she wants a little push in the back so she gives him a little motivation. Fukushina then returns to his underlings to convince them about letting the cleanup take place. On the day of the cleanup, Fukushina addresses his underlings about doing their best while Akane is as usual being embarrassed. It is revealed that Fukushina is actually the president of Akane Fan Club and Shuu is member number 2! His buddy is definitely mad that this cleanup wasn’t what he expected. Oh, the real student council president could be that petite girl and Aoi’s friend, Uzuki. Borscht loves sleeping on Akane’s chest as she thinks she is the one who feeds him. But the true fact is that it feels like his old comfortable flat home… Yeah… Flat…

Episode 5
It’s the sun and sandy beach for the Sakurada siblings. As they take turns to split the watermelon, Haruka’s analysis calculates Shiori has the higher chance of splitting it. Kanade won’t let that happen and it seems she has what it takes to break Haruka’s analysis. However although she hits it, it doesn’t split. When it is Shiori’s turn, she could speak to the watermelon and she felt pity for it but with the green melon encouraging her as he wants them to eat him, Shiori slightly touches it and the melons perfectly splits into equal parts. The beach ball flew too far so as Akane goes to get it, she crashes into an invisible barrier! Actually it is just wallpaper. So did Shuu lie about teleporting them to the beach? He claims this is much easier as it will be away from public eye, something that Akane approves. But as they tap how sturdy the wall is, suddenly it falls apart! They’re actually in an empty construction lot right smack in town. Now everybody sees them. Akane’s fan club members are here. Oh sh*t… Back home, Akane sees Haruka looking at pictures of her on the website. Both freak out upon knowing each other’s presence. Haruka seems to be panicking in wanting to reveal what he was doing and gives lots of silly excuses (that picture is her twin? Not buying it!). Until Akane threatens to tell Misaki, Haruka is forced to come clean. As Akane rarely goes online, these are fansites. Each of the siblings has many fansites where they upload pictures and talk about stuffs. So what Haruka was doing was trying to request to remove certain pictures of Akane. Upon knowing the hottest topic being talked about her is her panties, now she is even more embarrassed to go out!

Haruka narrates Misaki is his twin sister. She is able to clone herself at most seven. That is because their personality is based on the 7 deadly sins. As Misaki is the only sister available for an interview, she has her clones cover for club activities. After a good day’s work, she hears her fellow students praising how helpful her clones are. Like as though she’s a good clone manager. Of course back home, Misaki feels frustrated because people always talked about her other sisters and praise her clones. What about her own self? So she calls her clones to give them a good dressing down and discipline but I don’t think they really care. When Akane tells Misaki that an interviewer is here, Misaki rebels by not wanting to go. Even worse, when the lust based clone is only giving lewd answers. She continues sulks to one of her clones had to tell her how they’re all still part of her. The big motivation is from Haruka who says she is still special to him. It would be problematic for him if she stops being herself. She picks herself up and heads down for the interview. Haruka notes he still needs to keep sticking to her.

Episode 6
Wow. Akane is doing public speeches now. Can she do it? Nervous as usual. Even if her fan club guys support her, it makes her even more nervous. Haruka wonders why he needs to participate in Misaki and her clones’ meeting to discuss their election campaign. They talk about everybody’s reason to become king but they still do not know Kanade’s motive. Oh, here is a good chance to peek into that. Ever since young, Kanade and Shuu always had some sort of rivalry with each other. I supposed Kanade wants to best Shuu so she bribed Akane with lots of stuffs even if this empties her bank account. Then when she continues materializing stuffs even when her account is zero, the castle she materialized for Akane crumbles. Although Shuu saves Akane, there was some damage to his leg and thus Shuu could never play any intensive sports. Thus if Kanade becomes king, she will focus her nation’s resources on medical research and heal his leg. The twins continue to observe their other siblings making their campaign impact. With all that discussion in yet another summit, eventually the clones point out that perhaps it is Misaki who just wants Haruka to admit that he is her number one. Did that hit bull’s eye? Haruka believes Haruka can be the next king since she helps others. He’ll do his best to support her. Just when the mood is getting good, the clones ruin it when they hear Shuu bring back some pudding.

Kanade confronts Aoi about her disinterest in becoming king despite she is in pole position. Kanade would gladly ask father on her behalf to let her pull out of the race but Aoi doesn’t give a straight answer. Also, Kanade is curious about Aoi’s true power because the ability to remember anything at first go doesn’t feel like a real super power. Is it just she has good memory? Time to take a peek into what is really behind Aoi’s thoughts. As seen, memorisation is not Aoi’s true power. In fact, it is to make anyone absolutely obey her command without question. It happened many times in the past and although the doctor diagnosed that the effects will disappear shortly and it is not as powerful as it was when she was younger. Unconsciously she can give a command and everybody who listens will comply without question. Therefore she sees herself not fit to become king if she has this sort of power. But good thing her powers don’t usually work all the time. Because when she asks her friends out to tea, they gladly come by their own volition. But she is still worried wondering if they became friends because of her power. That is when Akane tells her even if they had a motive to become her friend just because she is royalty, they are her friends now. Flashback shows when nervous Aoi asked to be friends with them, it wasn’t her power taking effect. They would gladly be her friend.

Episode 7
Souichirou may be the king but he is still a very overprotective father. Yeah, he’s supposed to leave for some official trip so he has his agents check and secure every inch of the house since only Kanade, Akane and Shiori will be home alone. Furthermore, Akane is sick. Will you stop worrying and trust in your daughters? Besides, it’ll be suicide for anyone trying to mess with kids with super powers, right? Kanade tries to nurse Akane but it seems she only makes her temperature increase. Till Shiori does a simple peck that she learnt from her parents to calm the situation down. Late that night when they hear suspicious footsteps, they think it is Akane but Kanade goes to check. The moment she sees a suspicious person going through stuffs in a room, she materializes a taser to take him out. Turns out he is Shuu coming back to take something he forgot. Instantly the SWAT team busts in to secure everyone and everything! HOLY SH*T!!! Helicopters and full SWAT forces outside the house!!! One of the agents report to Souichirou and that papa knows Kanade is mad and doesn’t want to talk to her! Too bad the agent switched to her. He knows he’ll be in for a long talk when he gets back… Shiori makes Kanade sleep with Akane but after the loli falls asleep, Kanade creeps back to sleep with her.

Hikari is shining as an idol but her school test results suck. She doesn’t pay attention to what her manager, Kouji Matsuoka says about trying to be an imperfect idol and she thought Sachiko was being shy when she’s actually trying to ignore her. Matsuoka tells the duo that they will be performing together in double concerts. This move is to help propel Hikari further and Sachiko is just the second singer. Hikari is her usual positively motivated self. Then Sachiko snaps about her recent performance which is pretty abysmal in her opinion. Hikari is shocked at hearing this so Matsuoka explains that Sachiko made her name for herself from nothing. She had no special connections whatsoever and does not slack in her school work either. With Sachiko continuing to ignore Hikari, this makes her work harder. Well, what do you know? Hikari can score good grades if she puts her mind into it. On the day of the concert, Sachiko tells Hikari that she’s not doing it for her but for her fans. Hikari is delighted instead and this makes Sachiko feel like an idiot. During the performance, Sachiko can’t help think about Hikari putting in the effort too. The lapse in concentration has her trip and sprain her ankle. It would be impossible for her to continue although she stubbornly says she can. Matsuoka wants Hikari do continue alone. She pulls it off well despite her initial tripping blunder. In the end, Sachiko apologizes for saying rude things to her and admits her amazing performance but Hikari is glad that the most important thing is that they had fun. Sachiko hopes they could get along as good rivals. Hikari couldn’t be happier.

Episode 8
Hana thought it was like an illusion, walking home with Shuu. Suddenly he teleports and disappears. Really felt like an illusion now, eh? Seems today is that time of the year where their power goes berserk and uncontrollable although it will be over in 24 hours. Akane gets a surprised invitation from Hana to go out with her. Seems she wants to talk to her about Shuu. Why her? Because that is what Shuu told her. If there is anything troubling her, speak to Akane. Besides, there are some things she just can’t confide with her (cheeky) friends. Hana is troubled if she is holding back Shuu ever since that confession. As they are out in the open and the public eyes watching them, it’s a miracle Akane isn’t as embarrassed as usual. But she soon does when her power starts going berserk. As she is unable to control her gravity, she breaks and rips anything around her. This means he clothes as well. Hana covers for her and creates a diversion for her to escape. This means Hana gets the public’s attention and announces that she loves Shuu and wants to marry him one day. Wow. This kind of public confession is not for the faint hearted. On the way home, Hana wonders if this will further affect Shuu. Akane hopes she would have more confidence of her feelings in him and leaves big brother in her care. There, approval from the little sister. Hana’s confession is now showing all over the news. Shuu sees this but he isn’t shocked or anything. Just that silly face… He didn’t give a straight reply when Kanade if he is okay with this. Anyhow, she isn’t pleased with this and takes out her frustration on Misaki. Why, oh why her?

A flashback on Souichirou, he looks so much like Shuu that I thought he teleported to the past to play his role! Haha! Anyway, with him being the royalty, it is hard for him to make friends in school. Especially when he has a pretty maid, Sowa by his side (SWAP PLACES WITH ME NOW!!!!!!!!!!). I guess a king needs his own personal time too so for the umpteenth time he gives her the slip when he goes to the toilet. Going to rest at his spot at the school rooftop, he sees a girl, Satsuki Shinonome sleeping there. As he approaches, she thought he wanted to do something funny but actually not. Anyhow, she makes him ‘atone’ by going out shopping with her. Souichirou tells us his ability is to sense people’s feelings. However he cannot see Satsuki’s. Then he has to bring back all the groceries to her house and help cook for her siblings (who look suspiciously similar to Aoi, Haruka, Teru and Shiori). Souichirou doesn’t understand the concept of family since his parents died when he was young and he has no other siblings. On his way out, Satsuki hints she knows him as the country’s king. Now Satsuki has become his wife and he is telling this story to his kids. Shuu asks if he has ever thought about the troubles of bringing Satsuki into the royal life because of all the attention they’ll get. In fact, it is Satsuki who took the initiative to be with him. She is the reason why he smiles more often in public. He soon came to realize what is needed to do and a king’s duty is to make sure his family lives happily. Later Shuu calls to meet Hana. That girl thinks he is going to dump her for that public confession. Dump her? They’re not even going out! Suddenly he teleports them to a freezing cold tundra (remnants of his breakout). Hana takes it as a sign she’ll really be dumped here! As she cries her heart out for being inconvenience, Shuu surprises her with a question if she would come with him if he becomes king. This is his reply to her confession. The mood to kiss is ruined when the cold gets to Hana.

Episode 9
At night, Akane is the masked superhero of justice, Scarlet Bloom saving the common people from danger! Wow! Are my eyes deceiving me? It all began when Akane is as usual nervous in her public speech. She runs away when she realizes the filming crew is here. When Aoi notices her younger siblings watching a superhero show, this makes her think that perhaps Akane could do better if her identity is concealed. As she talks to Kanade about this, the latter returns with a pair of glasses that is believed to conceal Akane’s identity when she wears it. Looks like an ordinary pair to me… True enough it is because Kanade blackmails everyone to lie whenever Akane puts it on. Works like a charm… And so Scarlet Bloom goes around saving the troubled citizens and receiving lots of attention. It’s working since Akane isn’t fazed by it. Although, she still cannot connect the dots why her popularity in the polls has been working. Even more so, everybody knows her true identity. They’re just kind enough to play along. One day while walking home with Karen, she sees a little girl falling off the edge of the balcony. Instantly she uses her power to save her. The girl thanks her as Scarlet Bloom. Akane returns home to realize that she was never wearing her glasses. Did she start to see the connection? Well… She thinks Scarlet Bloom has become so famous enough that the public now recognizes her without her glasses. O…M..G…

It’s that time again when Misaki feels down after comparing herself to her other siblings’ effort in the election campaign. Akane is making progress in her public speech while Hana has become Shuu’s speech scheduler. Even though she has got Haruka supporting her, she feels she is being shallow. Time for Haruka to give lots of words of encouragement. Because she doesn’t want to betray his effort, she will work hard to be his ideal. Aoi is hanging out with her friends when they suddenly remember the important things they have to do and leave. Poor Aoi is all alone when later one of them calls to hang out at her place. Turns out it is a surprise birthday party although it is a day earlier as they do not want to interrupt her annual celebration with her family. Aoi is happy and hopes this moment would last forever. Meanwhile back home, Akane is rallying her younger siblings the need to surprise Aoi tomorrow like in previous years. She thinks of preserving their never-found-out record streak. Well, what do you know? Aoi is outside and heard that. I wonder if this happens every year too. Knowing Aoi, I can safely guess the record will continue its streak.

Episode 10
Sachiko doesn’t care about the elections. Not that anyone matters. She thinks the royal family live their life with no worries about the future. For all you know, there could be one who aspires to be an idol. You don’t say… Matsuoka talks to Hikari about revealing her true identity in the next concert to further boost her image (as an idol, she goes under the name of Sakuraba Light). So when Sachiko heard about the next concert where Sakuraba Light would ‘quit’, she gets the wrong idea. Could it be that something personal has cropped up? After all, how much does she know about her background? So when Matsuoka tells them about the next concert they’ll perform simultaneously, Sachiko again thinks this is Hikari’s final concert. She wonders if that happens, maybe her life will return to where it is before Hikari. Since Matsuoka’s assistant got a flu, he is short of hands. Hikari knows a person who can work for free. Akane is a big fan of Sachiko and she would love to do this. She thinks the glasses are still working so she thought Matsuoka doesn’t recognize her. Then why is he on his knees? Thoughts continue to fill Sachiko’s head. Then Hikari talks to Matsuoka that she doesn’t want to reveal her true identity. At first she did this to gain popularity for her election. But now she realizes the fans and all the hard work she put in was under the name of Sakuraba Light. She wants that identity to stay as thanks to her fans. Of course Sachiko heard this and realized Sakuraba Light’s identity is Hikari. Hikari talks to Aoi about a lie becoming the truth if kept hidden forever. Perhaps she is using her own experience so Aoi tells her if she continues doing so, she’ll just be living a life of lie. So before the concert starts, Hikari reveals herself to Sachiko. She never said this earlier for fear of her reaction to royalty. Sachiko smacks her for underestimating her. She doesn’t care who she is. Because to her she is Sakuraba Light. Both head out with high spirits and their performance was perfect.

Perhaps it is trauma. Kanade seeing any kid with a football would bring back memories of that near tragedy. Further flashback reveals Akane had no serious injury and luckily for her too her memories were in a daze so she doesn’t remember much of it. But for Shuu, his leg will have some sort of long term effect although it won’t affect his daily life. Furthermore, the doctor found out that if Kanade materializes something more than its value, something in real life will be taken as compensation. Although it was that castle, Kanade felt really bad about it because she lost something more important. Now when Shuu continues to bug her about her election wish to heal his leg using the national budget as compensation and doesn’t want her to throw her life away for this, she becomes irritated. She wants to be equal to him and has to pay back her debts although he doesn’t mind because this isn’t a loan in the first place. Him acting like a proper big brother for once irks her. She runs away but metal beams threaten to fall on her due to the stormy wind. Luckily Shuu teleports her away safely. More cool big brother words. Enough to break down little sister. Cry your heart out for now. After calming down, he tells her to live her life not for his sake. She agrees and will become king and form a dictatorship to show him how to rule this country. Did it just get worse?

Episode 11
The election is about a month away. A few things to note. Kanade isn’t as scary to others as she smiles more often now. Aoi still leads the standings despite doing nothing. Shuu is steadily picking up the votes, Misaki drops a little maybe because it is her clones that are doing the jobs, Teru is not happy despite all his hard work, he is still dead last. When the younger siblings wonder why Akane hates being in the eye of the public as she never had this problem when she was younger, Kanade decides to tell them the real story behind. Although the older siblings do not like this, this is so that Akane can confront her issue head on and move on just like her. When Akane was around Teru’s age and cameras weren’t installed yet, I suppose it is only natural for agents to follow her around. Of course she doesn’t like it as it would scare off her friends. So one day on her way to Karen’s house, she manages to give them the slip. But upon arriving at Karen’s place, they hear weird sounds from the top floor. There are burglars robbing the place! Karen is sacred so Akane took the initiative to fight and run. I don’t know. The way Akane keeps throwing things at them and gave them the run-around around the house feels like Home Alone. Eventually the robbers are apprehended (they were glad the police ‘saved’ them!) but with Karen’s home all destroyed, the public that gathered outside started staring at Akane wondering if she was the one who did this. That is when Akane started having fears of being the centre of attraction. It is also a reason why the cameras were set up. All in all, Akane still fears being the centre of attraction.

Suddenly a call that something has happened to Souichirou! OMG! Actually… He just sprained his back while trying to be cool carrying Satsuki. I don’t think she was that heavy… He is confined to bed but he claims he cannot rest as his workload is tight. Aoi confirms indeed he has many tasks ahead so she suggests the siblings to help out and attend to them. The lesser of 2 evils. I suppose that is Akane’s case as she has to follow Shuu and Teru to a disaster zone, a village cut off by a landslide. I suppose comforting villagers would be ‘better’ than hosting international dignitaries and holding interviews. The villagers are happy to see the royal representatives as they get to work to help what is needed. This means Scarlet Bloom goes into full force in helping those in need. I guess even a remote village knows how to play along. But when a girl returns her glasses and knows her identity, Akane realizes she was so into helping others she didn’t realize her glasses were dropped. This prompts her to remember after Karen’s house burglary, Karen was crying so hard but Akane kept holding about her hand. Karen still thinks about it and is happy she stood by her side when nobody else did. Akane realizes she doesn’t need Scarlet Bloom anymore and tosses away her glasses. Please don’t litter… All the siblings carry out the workload without any hitches. Now for the poll standings. Aoi still tops and Teru can take heart that he is off the bottom which is now occupied by Haruka. Teru believes Haruka knows who has the highest chance of being king. I suppose not based on the stats, he seems to be hinting at Aoi. However he notes chances are still nothing but chance.

Episode 12
Only a week left to the elections. They’ll be giving their final speech before voters go to the polls. We hear some of the thoughts of our candidates. Kanade thought of forming a dictatorship but seeing how hard her siblings have worked, she plans to speak about their good. Aoi’s friends assure that they will still be her friends no matter what happens. Hana is worried that Shuu will have less time to spend with her if he becomes king but he assures her he won’t let her feel lonely. Nice hug. But aren’t the cameras watching? Where are the cameras anyway? Misaki is still worried that despite her clones putting in the hard work but she will be nowhere near the top to fight for the king spot. As usual, Haruka’s words of motivation encourage her to go on. Hikari doesn’t want to slow down her idol activities during this final spurt because she wants to win the award for top idol! Is this the vote that she is more concerned about?! Teru seeks mom’s advice because he really wants to become king so Satsuki tells him to say it from his heart because at the end of the day, the citizens want to know his true feelings. Aoi talks to Souichirou about something and it seems he has given her permission to do so. He is proud that she has come to that decision.

On election day, it is like a carnival atmosphere. The siblings are wondering the order of who to give their speech first so Aoi takes this opportunity to reveal the truth. Addressing everyone, she says she is pulling out of this race and explains her true power, the reason she cannot become king. However as she lived with them all, she noticed the time spent with them and her family are precious. She promises to live her life as a normal person. Suddenly the blimp is going to crash into the crowd. Shuu teleports to find the pilot has fainted. With Shiori’s help to speak to the blimp, Shuu gets to control the blimp. But it won’t hold long with the damage taken and Akane is at her limits trying to hold it up. While the rest evacuate the panic crowd, Shuu makes his announcement for the people to rely on the royal family to help protect their loved ones and keep this country full of smiling faces. Haruka uses his calculation for the ideal place for the blimp to crash land. Kanade materializes a big net over the river. Finally Teru uses his strength to pull the blimp’s cable so that it softens the impact. In the end, everybody is safe. The voting time is here and the final results are in. The next king will be… Shuu!!! Akane narrates the aftermath to her siblings. Aoi moved out after she enrolled in university. Hana is formally introduced to the parents and officially dating Shuu. Kanade is studying hard in medicine. Misaki is doing her best as student council president with Haruka supporting her as usual. Hikari reveals her true identity but her idol activities continue as normal. Teru and Shiori are studying at the castle. Akane feels that something in her has changed too. Could it be that she doesn’t fear the cameras anymore? Hey, where are the cameras anyway?

Sibling Rivalry: The Reality TV
The ending might feel a bit anti-climatic and rushed because it’s like they skipped the whole voting process and the suspense and drama while the votes are being counted before announcing the result. Yeah, I don’t think it is a wise idea spending another extra episode on that so might as well skip all that and just proclaim the eldest son as the winner. I think I can live with that. Shuu being the winner and the so called rushed ending. After all, we’ve seen the siblings go about their normal everyday lives and they are just like an ordinary human being (except that they have super powers) so ultimately we couldn’t care less about the voting day suspense and drama. Ultimately, I suppose that is why this makes this series such enjoyable and fun watch because despite their royalty status, none of them use that to their advantage and they don’t glamorise it too. I suppose it is good that for some people and for this family in this anime, being royalty isn’t about being showing off so they would like to keep that lineage status under wraps as much as possible without affecting their daily life. Unlike some reality TV shows we see…

The idea of a monarch to have democratic elections for his next heir is unconventional and yet wonderful although it has its pros and cons. Exciting in the sense that you won’t really know who would be the next king compared than the conventional fixed first born child. There won’t be a fixed list of file and rank of who will be next in line. The downside to it is that it somewhat turns out to be a popularity contest. Although the citizens have picked their next king, what happens when sentiments start to change down the road? You’ll never know, right? Will they have another election then? Heck, I suppose this way is better than turning it into a battle of survival where the last standing and strongest heir wins and gains the right to the throne (I’m looking at you, Kaibutsu Oujo).

This anime might not be perfect but let me get out a few of the mind boggling questions first. First, if Souichirou and Satsuki have 9 children and almost 1 in each grade from elementary to high school, isn’t it mind boggling that they have a child born every year? I don’t know, just thinking about it makes it feel like they are like some sort of a f*cking love making machine. Especially it is said that Shuu and Kanade were born just 30 minutes apart from each other. Furthermore, Satsuki still looks as young as she is when she was in high school so how old was she when she had her first child? Maybe some things are better off not knowing. The next question is the timing of the elections for the next king. I know Souichirou’s intention is good because it is better to have a king that the majority likes. But couldn’t he wait till all his kids are grown up a little? Okay, it might not be so bad for the older siblings but personally if you are putting toddlers like Teru and Shiori in the race, I know it is fair since all siblings are in the game but I thought this means they have to spend less of their childhood and do all this election stuffs. Sooner or later they will sure be exposed to this but having them exposed this early? I don’t know. To me it’s not really ‘fair’ if you put it that way. Besides, for an average adult, do you think you would be voting for a kid even if he is being super serious? It just feels odd, doesn’t it? No wonder he keeps propping up the other end of the table.

The other thing is Haruka’s power. Although there is nothing wrong with his calculation and analysing ability, I thought it would be better if it had been as mind reading or predicting the future or at least multiple futures assuming the future is not fixed. So with this analysing ability of his, it is just mind boggling to guess who it works. If you’re saying that he uses his mind and observation skills to calculate and analyse the best probability, then don’t you think that isn’t a super power itself? Just like someone with great memory skills. That doesn’t feel like a super power, right? I know if it was predicting the future ability, it would have been great spoilers because Haruka would have known who would eventually become king and thus everything we’ve seen by the rest putting in their efforts would be wasted. That’s why I said multiple possible futures. It shouldn’t be that bad. Other than that, I thought Haruka was a name once reserved for only girls. This is not the first time I heard a boy named Haruka (that one in Lovely Complex was my first). Maybe in today’s open minded world, stereotypic gender names don’t really stick on. Or maybe because Haruka looked so effeminate that he is named so?

Not forgetting Kanade’s power of materializing stuffs equivalent to its value. The problem here is the value of it. How do you place a value on those stuffs? Market value? Maybe. It certainly looks like she doesn’t determine it herself because she might have valued them cheaply! So what if she materializes something old, something from bygone eras? What would be the value of it? What if she materializes something from the future, something that hasn’t been made yet and thus a price cannot be determined? There are perhaps more questions about Kanade’s power that I would have liked to spam about and definitely bug her during Q&A but I feel I’m going to have a major headache if I think too much with brains I don’t have :). So she better keep a bank account open and happy for I feel her power is most destructive and easiest for world destruction if she ever wants to destroy the world. Because something real is taken as compensation when she doesn’t have enough money. So what happens if she cannot pay for something that has a cost of a zillion digits in it? What will be compensated? The world and universe crumble! OMG! Don’t ever let that happen ;p.

Now, aside all those unanswerable questions, let’s move on to the characters who make the series likeable and of course likeable themselves. Each of them with their own personality, unique power and set of friends, they’re just like your ordinary Joes and Janes next door. Just like any other human, they have their strengths and weaknesses. They are not perfect after all. Their strength helps cover the other’s weaknesses so you can say as a family unit, the Sakurada family is quite a successful and happily family. Maybe to the other ordinary citizens aside their close friends and classmates who are always definitely their staunch supporter no matter the case, it is hard to choose which of the Sakurada siblings to be the next king. So for Shuu to make a great comeback, I’m not sure if the election system is first pass the post or by clear majority. But that doesn’t matter. Everybody is happy with it. With him being king, that doesn’t mean the rest of the ‘losers’ are no longer needed. They’ll still be around like always to offer their help when needed.

Despite Akane looking very much like the protagonist of the show, this series is decent to focus its fair share of screen time to the rest of the siblings. Although there that I feel are some having more screen time compared to the rest. I don’t know if Akane’s bad luck (if you could call it that) is some sort of the running joke of the series. For example, she always has to be the one who picks the shopping errand. It is like though it is her destiny to go out and show her face in public. Like as though God Himself loves seeing the embarrassed face of this shy girl. But so far she is coping with it well, right? Right?! Ah well, the irony is that after having appeared in public for so many times, she should have at least built some ‘immunity’ or developed some sort of ‘thick face’ but it never. The more she tries to avoid the public, the more she gets drawn into it. It’s like she is always attracting unwanted attention and sometimes for the wrong reasons too. Yeah, something tells me her worldwide famous pantsu is the reason why she ranks so high up… Yeah… And with her fan club, I’m not sure if Akane is aware about this but the more they cheer for her, the more embarrassed she gets. See? Isn’t she just moe and kawaii when she blushes?! No wonder Shuu is in this club. Heh. Now that he himself has got a girlfriend, will he allow the same for Akane if the time comes? Or will he continue playing her ‘big daddy’? Despite not winning the crown, as indicated at the end she is less traumatic about being in public so does this mean the cameras will stay? If it doesn’t bother her, why should we?

I thought with a family this big, there would be somebody who would be the bad sheep or bad egg. Well, Kanade seems to come pretty close to it although technically she is far from that. With everybody else so nice and easygoing, sometimes her slightly strict character makes her look like a b*tch. Then after you get to know her past and the effort she puts in, she can be a nice person after all. Maybe not as nice as the rest but you won’t hate her. I think. Aoi seems quieter and less in the limelight than her other siblings but ironically hogs the top spot from start. Could it be because of her using her power unconsciously? I’m not sure but thankfully she’s got a great conscience because if she decides to use it for power abuse and end the world, just like Kanade if she turns megalomaniac, it will already be bad enough to have 2 women trying to destroy the world! Shuu is a great big brother although he doesn’t look the part and now that he has become king, looks like he’ll be taking more responsibility.

Misaki always suffers from low self esteem thanks to her clones taking more credit than herself. Wouldn’t it be cool if her clones could also clone themselves? That will be messy. Lucky for her, she’s always got Haruka as his big backup and great supporter. Unlike naive Akane who believes her little disguise can deceive the public from her true identity, I am not sure if this is the case for Hikari because although she can grow herself to a grownup version and maybe to some they won’t recognize her in that busty body compared to her flat loli chest (sorry), couldn’t they have been suspicious in seeing the resemblance? It’s not like her idol alter ego wears a mask or anything. I want to say that she might not appear on TV much prior to the idol stint but with cameras around and assuming the news give fair coverage on all of them, does this mean that nobody gives a hoot about her? Besides, her usual polls’ position is languishing in the middle. Or are they just playing along that they know who she is but just don’t want to break her heart. Isn’t that why when she made the announcement, nobody was really that shocked? Well, she is the kind that acts first without thinking.

Lastly you have Teru who is always big on motivation despite his small size and polite little Shiori who constantly backs him up. Interesting family, right? Just one little complaint… Sighs… They should have more screen time for Sowa the maid… She might not be the family maid and Souichirou’s personal maid but I still want the maid! Damn, if she was in the running, I’d vote for her! A hundred times! Borscht doesn’t make a lot of appearances. Just a handful. Maybe that is why the mid-intermission is his segment, showing a small window of him randomly. Don’t worry, the end card illustrations have drawings of the characters.

Drawing and art remain gorgeous. Bright and vivid colours. Well, at least all the characters have that typical kawaii, moe, bishoujo and bishonen look. Ah, if everybody in the kingdom only has this sort of good looking looks from old guys to young ones. Well, except maybe for shady people like robbers and, erm, special bodyguard agents (you need to look tough and serious, right?). You know me, a sucker for a pretty face. If I had to choose which of the siblings to become the king based solely on their looks, I think I’ll have a hard time. Of course I can narrow it down but that would be after some deliberation as I can’t really choose one right away. Maybe I’ll just vote for the maid, huh? Oh sh*t! I think I will! The prettiest of the lot? One look at Teru at first reminded me of something. He looks like a kid who sprung out from one of those kiddie battle action series like Digimon. No kidding!

Kana Hanazawa is absolutely perfect as Akane. It’s fun to hear her go into that embarrassing mode. She sounds really cute. Now I know why her fan club members love seeing her when she’s so shy. There is something irresistible and kawaii about… Personally, I thought Yui Ogura as Hikari, her loli voice is too ‘loli’ to be voicing a middle school girl. Therefore I thought it sounded like a mismatch since her character looks more ‘grown up’ as compared to her voice. Other characters whom I recognized are Saori Hayami as Karen and Satsuki Yukino as herself. Just kidding. It must be just a coincidence that her character shares the same name. Another interesting trivia is that for the character Sachiko, I found out that the writer actually modelled the character after the real life person herself, Sachika Misawa (Black Lotus in Accel World). There is a striking resemblance if you can’t help wonder why she looks so familiar in real life.

For the rest of the casts that I didn’t recognize, they are Ai Kayano as Aoi (Inori in Guilty Crown), Kaori Ishihara as Kanade (Aladdin in Magi series), Ryohei Kimura as Shuu (L-elf in Valvrave The Liberator), Eriko Matsui as Misaki and all her other clones (Isuzu in Log Horizon), Ayumu Murase as Haruka (Nfirea in Overlord), Shiori Katsuta as Teru, Aina Suzuki as Shiori, Dai Matsumoto as Souichirou (Halloween in MAR) and Yuka Aisaka as Hana (Muse in Amagi Brilliant Park). The opening theme is Ring Ring Rainbow by YuiKaori (which is actually Yui Ogura and Kaori Ishihara and this is actually the name their idol unit). The ending theme is the extremely cute song, Honey Come by Yui Ogura. Hearing her loli voice singing this makes your heart want to go ~Kyuuun~!!! No kidding. Yeah, I’ll definitely pick you in this context!

Interestingly, some of the next episode previews have the siblings narrate their policy and doctrine if they become king. They also state their favourite king that they admire. Napoleon? Maja Pahit Empire? Well, I thought they should at least elaborate a little why they admire them otherwise I would have to greatly assume it is because how similar their personality is to that said king. The king after all, is one of those ‘public occupations’ that need to be a role model for others.

Overall, this is a nice and enjoyable heart-warming series about being family and yes, wait for it, with great powers come great responsibilities. I know being king isn’t all that lovely like a bed of roses as seen in this anime but since this is fantasy, why not? The antics and funny moments do make you smile and laugh and at the end of the day, you’d learn something or two about responsibility whether or not you have super power. In fact, you don’t need any sort of super power to perform miracles. Just a little nice gesture itself can be a miracle and goes a long way. But personally, I wouldn’t really want to have this kind of life and shouldering such responsibilities. Imagine if a king as s an otaku. The world is doomed. In that case, I’d prefer to be a little dandelion flower growing quietly at the edge of the park, minding my own business.

Aoharu x Kikanjuu

January 22, 2016

Hey, wait a minute. So soon? Another survival game themed anime? Really? Do we really need another one despite this is just the third in these few years? I suppose that survival game anime genres are so rare that you tend to notice them unlike their mecha or ecchi genre counterparts. So if you have had it with the boring drama of those high school girls in Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-Bu or not too amused with the moe slapstick comedy of Sabagebu, because girls taking up this sport are just as annoying as f*ck (oops!), then maybe we could have some ‘manly’ survival game anime in the form of Aoharu x Kikanjuu. Well, not exactly manly but if you find bishoujo and moe to not fit the survival game theme, how about hot bishonen then? Long story short about this anime, a girl who looks like a guy (and is always mistaken to be one) gets dragged into the world of survival game and gets hooked on it. Add lots of bishonen drama to that…

Episode 1
Hotaru Tachibana defeats a group of bullies as he believes it is all part of the day of putting evildoers at bay. Thanks to his boyish looks and dressing, nobody would have guessed Hotaru is actually a girl! Till her best friend, Kanae Yajima bugs her about wearing a bra and skirt! Heading back to her dorm, she sees a blonde guy, Masamune Matsuoka standing outside her door. She thinks she misheard his conversation about boobs and throws a warning punch (too bad for his door). Masamune is his next door neighbour and seems interested in her. Is he gay? Hotaru’s instinct to stay away from him is probably true because Masamune dropped his gun! Next day when Kanae wants to borrow some money from food, Hotaru misinterprets her story that she got conned by Masamune. So he barges into the host club where this blondie works and almost got kicked out if not for Masamune identifying him. Hotaru throws a powerful air punch as warning and the next time he cheats Kanae, the punch will connect. Fine. Masamune whips out his gun! They’re going to settle it right here. Since Hotaru is being a blabber mouth, he shoots her! Why is Hotaru still alive? It’s just a toy gun! Psyche! Masamune is part of a survival game club. He throws down the challenge to Hotaru. He will apologize if she wins otherwise, Hotaru will become his plaything. The rules are simple. Whoever gets shot first loses. As Masamune is a veteran, he will give Hotaru a handicap. Hotaru will have many bullets as opposed to his single pellet. The battleground will be this hall.

When it begins, Hotaru wastes no time in pumping all the bullets at him. Of course being the inexperienced one, Masamune can dodge all of them like as though he activated Bullet Time mode. More accurately, he has the ability called Kinetic Vision which allows him to see the slightest change in movement and this is honed thanks to his host skills. Hotaru realizes he is no match for him but decides to play a chicken game where he pretends to charge at him to make him shoot. After all, if Masamune fires his only bullet and misses, Hotaru wins. Masamune could see this coming from a mile and then gets ready when she turns. However Hotaru surprises him with a double feign. She could switch directions fast enough. Hotaru mocks him for taking a kid’s game seriously but as he pulls the trigger, he is out of bullets! Masamune claims he has counted all his shots. Otherwise he would have never let him get close to him. Game over. Bang. And oh, he takes his game seriously because he is an adult. Hotaru realizes his mistake when he finds out Kanae came here on her own volition and spent all her money in trying to seduce him. Hotaru dreads become Masamune’s plaything but surprisingly he wants her to join his survival game team. The other girls want to join his team but he asserts only men are allowed! Now this makes it awkward for Hotaru to disclose her gender. He throws in a deal. Because Hotaru carelessly wrecked the place, for every survival game she wins, he will reduce the damage repairs she needs to cover. Of course, our hero of justice must keep true to his promise, right? Hotaru can’t help seethe in anger of the evildoer he is.

Episode 2
In the wee hours of the morning, Masamune wakes up Hotaru from her sleep to bring her to a real survival game field. You think it’s going to be held at the host club, don’t you? Hotaru changes and believes she needs to continue acting like a man till her debts are cleared. But she already made the first mistake of coming out from a woman’s toilet and this creepy pervert, Tooru Yukimura spotted him! At first he doesn’t mind because he too does the same thing from time to time. He enters woman’s toilet to fantasize?! But when he sees her armband, he changes his attitude and calls her a pervert and get out. A pervert calling her a pervert? Hotaru sinks into depression but no time for that since Masamune drags her into the tournament that has just started. It already ended when they get in as their partner took out the enemy and every shot of his counted. Who is he? Yukimura! When Masamune introduces Hotaru to him, he isn’t pleased because he doesn’t need another friend. When they regroup before the next round starts, Yukimura details their strategy for the capture the flag match. Based on Hotaru’s attacking skill, she should be up there charging to take down the enemy’s flag while he provides cover. Hotaru’s sense of justice is heightened when the next team they face are despicable cheats. They bully weaker teams and break the fundamental rule of not announcing whenever they get hit.

As the match starts, Hotaru is swiftly surrounded by the rival team. Masamune is shocked that Yukimura is not with Hotaru covering him and all this plan was just a ploy that let that kid hate and quit the game. Then there’s some tragic past Yukimura speaks off about being bullied and Masamune was the only one who stood up for him. That’s why he only needs him as his friend. Nobody else. When Yukimura returns to the field, he is surprised that Hotaru is still standing her ground. Even more shocking that she believes Yukimura will never betray her. When Yukimura comes clean with her, this is all the more reason why she won’t quit because he’ll do the same to the next guy. Even he Yukimura’s claim for her sense of justice was a lie, it made her happy. She is willing to go this far because she wants them to be friends. Their chatter took too long and are about to be shot. Masamune covers for them. Hotaru rushes towards the enemy’s flag but of course they cheat by remaining in the game despite clearly being hit. Hotaru is so fast approaching this cheater that it scares the sh*t out of him when she threatens one shot is never enough to kill him! With that, the game is won. As apology and to make up, Yukimura gives Hotaru his serialized manga. She is devastated to learn he is an ero S&M manga artist! She throws away the manga that guys would have kept and treasured it like gold! Although they lost in the next round, to add to Hotaru’s woes, Masamune says her debt has not reduced a cent because they’re supposed to win this game and he becomes the best survival gamer in the country! Too high a goal? Hotaru’s concern for now is the team’s lame name: Toy Gun Gun (TGG).

Episode 3
At first I thought it was just a dream. But it’s real! Because Hotaru has paid off the debt! To her surprise, Yukimura is waiting at the front of his school gate and trying to hand her a copy of the ero manga! Yukimura then wonders if Hotaru would like to continue playing survival games. He was shocked when he heard her debt was cleared. After all, she said she wanted to quit all the while. She looked more animated while playing survival games. Is she sure she is not hooked on it? Hotaru ponders about this on her way home. She admits that she did feel the thrill that she has never experienced before. She finds a letter in her post box intended for someone else. To her surprise, Yukimura lives in the same dorm. Trying to return the letter, his door is unlocked and under pretence to put away the gun strewn on his floor, she starts having survival game fantasies. Then Yukimura catches her in the act. Masamune thinks she is still hooked on the game and hopes they can play together again. When she shows the black letter, Masamune cannot stop grinning because the chance to become Japan’s best is within reach. That night, Hotaru cannot stand hearing from next door about Masamune trying to flirt with his woman. Turns out his ‘woman’ is his Desert Eagle. He suggests Hotaru go buy her own gun to call her own. As minors cannot purchase a gun, he has Yukimura accompany her. Besides, Hotaru has worked her share enough for Masamune to pay her.

Along the way, Yukimura explains the black letter which is an invitation from a certain person to participate in a team survival game. In addition to the million yen prize, there are other rare items that winners can get. This means only the best are invited to participate and winning this means you are the best in Japan as there will be tough and skilled opponents participating. Hotaru thought for a moment that it is the money that Masamune is aiming for. Because there is a sale of some eroge today, Yukimura is in dilemma to wait in line and accompany Hotaru. She gives him permission to buy the game and meet up later at the gun store. Taking her first step in is already intimidating because the MGS-like store owner really looks intimidating. But this polite and nice customer, Nagamasa Midori helps her out and even assists in trying to find the right gun for her playing style. Hotaru backs off when Midori seems to do a little body search on her. He was just trying to check her muscle and body frame. When Hotaru has selected the set she wants to buy, the total amount is f*cking expensive! Definitely not just children’s toy. The cash Masamune gave her is just paltry. Not enough to cover 10% of it. Is Hotaru in trouble? The store owner thinks she is fooling around. Then she remembers Yukimura’s words to get out of trouble if she finds herself in one. Saying “going up”, the store owner realizes this is what Masamune intended and takes Hotaru upstairs to test the gun to see if she is suitable for her. After she goes upstairs, Yukimura arrives, happily bought the limited first edition and even a copy for Hotaru! The moment he sees Midori, he becomes violent and tries to punch him but was quickly pinned down.

Episode 4
Hotaru clearly sucks at target practice so the owner thinks he isn’t suitable for this gun or the game. She pleads for another chance so he takes her to a mini maze room. They’re going to play something like tag. She has to shoot him within 5 minutes or else she loses. That or she runs out of ammo. Win and the gun will be hers. He is surprised that she wants him to play the game with a gun too instead of being unarmed. Meanwhile downstairs, Yukimura and Midori have some showdown. The former blaming the latter why their team lost members. He reminds him that this prestigious tournament known as Top Gun Combat (TGC), the prize money is not what Masamune is looking for but to kick all of their asses. The owner thought Hotaru would be easy picking and won’t last. Surprised! He is made to run around. Despite her terrible accuracy, he is being sought out. Furthermore, he could feel her bloodlust as though they’re on a real battlefield. Hotaru learns fast that her G3 submachine gun means she’ll run out of ammo faster and this is what the owner is baiting her to do. When they realize they are back to back with each other and only a wall separating them, the owner thinks he is going to win as time is running out and there won’t be time for her to dash for him. He is caught dead surprised when she jumps over! You’re dead meat! In his instinct, he fires a shot and it hits her hand. She drops the gun and is worried she damaged the merchandise. Hotaru thanks him for the game. She never had so much fun before.

Thanks to that too, Hotaru gets the entire set all for just a thousand yen. As Yukimura puts it, it was all part of Masamune’s plan to let her get her gun that way. Yukimura is shocked to hear Hotaru saying that Midori was the one who recommended this gun for her. It makes him think he knows everything and that he is confident he can win regardless of what gun she uses. TGG is here at another survival game. Masamune meets Hanako Sagara, a female player who will be commanding the rival team. Hotaru’s enthusiasm peaks. She can’t contain her excitement to play the game. But barely a minute into it, she gets shot! This happens not once but all the time! So much so Masamune calls out to her to remind her that they’re here to improve her skills 2 weeks before TGC. Masamune ticks her off on relying too much on instincts and enthusiasm and she shouldn’t be that just because she is a little bit athletic. When he wants her to follow his orders, she snaps back that this is not the teamwork that he has been preaching. At this rate he is only being a dictator. This prompts him to remember an ugly incident with Midori. She realizes a little too late of her outburst because Masamune then pushes Hotaru to Sagara’s team for the next match. Oh dear. Did she make him mad? Has she been kicked out of TGG?

Episode 5
Since Hotaru is still reeling from the shock, Sagara talks to her and finds out what happened. Then they witness how Masamune helped a newbie and made her happy with her first kill. Maybe he just wanted her number? Sagara explains the natural leader Masamune is thanks to his host job and has the eye to observe and respond to customers the right way. He also doesn’t need to worry about his back because he has got it covered by Yukimura the master sniper. She also adds she eavesdropped on the aftermath of their quarrel. Yukimura wanted Masamune to forget about Hotaru as it is hard to control her. However all he wanted was just to bring out her potential. This made Hotaru they were doing this for her sake and that she was being selfish. So after the game she goes to beg for forgiveness on his knees! She pleads to remain their teammate. Thankfully he is not the guy who holds grudges. Despite all he has said, he still thinks she is pretty good. Later when Hotaru goes to thank Sagara, the latter wishes her luck and laments her own condition why she couldn’t join TGG. It doesn’t allow girls to join. Don’t tell me you forgot that, didn’t you? That was enough to make Hotaru feel gloomy. Even more so when she was told TGG did have a female member until something happened. I guess revealing her gender now is not a good idea.

Till TGC, Masamune has created a makeshift obstacle course behind their dorm to practice. To avoid complaints from neighbours about being noisy, they’ll use water guns. As the rules will be the same as any survival games, Masamune adds a new one: Physical contact is allowed. Normally touching an opponent is banned but in TGC, hand to hand combat and knife attacks are allowed with both team’s consent. Although you still need to get shot to be out. Masamune gives them a handicap as Yukimura and Hotaru will team up to take him on. Yukimura senses Hotaru’s gloominess and wants to know what happened. Without going into too much detail, she mentions about what Sagara said about the female member. Yukimura confirms there was one during TGG’s inception. She was quite a good player but it was the cruel way she was tormented and ‘killed’. Even right before Masamune’s eyes. She left the team right after and although she could have blamed him, she said nothing. That only hurt Masamune deeply inside. The guy who did this will be at TGC. Hotaru realizes Masamune’s rule of not wanting girls to be put in danger. But now the thought of tricking him, does she deserve to stay on the team? Her own personal sense of justice would not have allowed it. Save the thinking for later because Masamune has found you.

Episode 6
Hotaru connects the dots why Masamune wants to participate in TGC. Is it to avenge that girl? This serves as her motivation because if they win the tournament, Hotaru can reveal she is a girl. Instantly she turns into a demon and turns on the heat on Masamune! He never saw it coming and lost. Yukimura has been observing Hotaru’s inconsistent combat skills. He deduces she fights better if she is fighting for a great purpose. However he doesn’t think Masamune will be motivated by that sort of justice. Hotaru is so excited that she spent the night practising her skills and the next day she still has enough energy to be eager beaver for the start of TGC. All that confidence is blown away when she feels all the bloodlust aura from other competitors. Yeah, it feels like a gathering of top killers! Masamune and Yukimura go register and purposely left her with the crowd so she could get used to it. Thankfully Midori is here to ease her worries. TGC organizer, Souji Kamenashi makes his announcement of the tournament. In addition to winning the cash prize and the title, they get to use this field free for 6 months. Midori continues to be Hotaru’s ‘saviour’ as he explains the rules. Mostly it is standard but there are a few exceptions. Those includes both sides must have equal members (any excess must sit out), calling a freeze as a hit is disallowed and the use of close quarter combat.

When Hotaru’s teammates return, the moment Masamune recognizes Midori, his face turns pale. If that is not bad enough, he becomes so nervous and can’t maintain eye contact that Midori is just dominating over this guy. It’s just so unbecoming. He’s asking stuff like how he’s been since he was absent from TGC last year but Masamune remains ‘paralyzed’. Yukimura steps in to warn this guy or else he’ll really kill him. When Midori’s teammates, Takatora Fujimori and Ichi Akabane arrive, Hotaru who has been in shock, starts connecting the dots that Midori is the guy Masamune wants revenge. She couldn’t believe a nice guy like him is the culprit but Yukimura tells her off which side she is on. The shock only serves to make her even gloomier but soon after Yukimura apologizes, Hotaru puts that behind her and vows to help her team win TGC. After all, they’re just another opponent they must defeat. Surprisingly, Yukimura pleads to her to save Masamune. When the teams draw lots for the tournament bracket, guess who TGG got for the first round? Hoshishiro. That’s Midori’s team. Yeah, everybody can’t believe it they’ll be facing off in the first round. Oh, did I mention that they are 4 times champion? They’re even dressed to kill. Looking sharp, guys.

Episode 7
Their location will be in a forested field. Midori doesn’t have a plan to seek out TGG. As they have been missing for a year and planning their revenge, what better way to crush that hope of theirs. Suddenly Hotaru zooms past them. Yeah, everyone just looked surprised. Did she go too far? Midori doesn’t want to underestimate her speed because as TGG started out from the furthest point, reaching to their point in just 48 seconds is incredible. Fujimori offers to go after the kid. If not for Ichi’s sharp observation, Yukimura’s shot could have taken out Midori. Jealous girl is mad because this means Yukimura saw Midori through his lens. Nobody sees Midori close up except for her! So both snipers start hunting each other. Ichi uses a trap by placing her gun at the top of a mini hill as deception. This will allow her to go around Yukimura’s back and shoot him since he will be focused in finding the target. However she also falls into his trap. A point blank Yukimura could not miss but Ichi is swift to kick his gun away. He retreats when she starts firing. As he contemplates his next move, he realizes his options are limited. Whatever way he chooses, he cannot move from this spot or risk being shot. Then he realized she might be gunning for Masamune. Speaking of which, that guy faces off with Midori who thinks this is his plan to divide the team’s strength. Even so, this weakness will also apply to his team.

Hotaru cannot understand why Fujimori is walking around in the open and not hiding. Till she accidentally steps on a twig and gives herself away. Fujimori fires his devastating minigun! It took down a few trees! Hotaru remembers Masamune’s plan for her to take on him one on one. Now she understands that with such devastating power, he doesn’t need to hide as he will take out his enemies before they even have a chance to shoot. She thought of running away and putting some distance but to her surprise this guy can run despite carrying that heavy thing! When she is cornered at the edge of the field, he gives her a chance to pretend to be shot and forfeit. Because it will be traumatizing for a newbie to face time first time. Hotaru won’t be tricked but when Fujimori tells him that his teammates may the ones lying to him about that brutality, she starts getting that dilemma feeling again. No use thinking too much since she knows the truth that at least they’re relying on her. They decide to fight it out fair and square. Hotaru speeds up and takes him by surprise with her sudden acceleration. She steps on his minigun to immobilize its barrel on the ground. If he fires, the shots will ricochet and hit him. Hotaru does an amazing back flip to his back. Fujimori has no chance of surviving this one but why didn’t Hotaru shoot? Seems she got the safety lock on! You got to be kidding! Because of that, she wants him to kill her! However Fujimori admits he has lost when she accelerated and he hesitated to pull the trigger. He is more concerned that she stepped on his minigun. Fujimori heads out to the safety zone while Hotaru goes to find Masamune.

Episode 8
Midori is being a cool cat and even has time waltzing through the forest having his nature watch and still Masamune cannot hit him! I guess his mind must be pretty preoccupied with their times together and that bad breakup. When Midori pins him down, he uses Masamune’s Desert Eagle and fires point blank in his stomach. Because he is covering his mouth and not enabling him to call a hit, he fires multiple times till there is no ammo left! More cocky words from him while Masamune is so dead that he can’t even cry. Furious Yukimura tries to get him but Midori is still cool enough to dodge all his attacks. Not even close up attacks can rile up this guy and it backfires on him. When Midori uses his gun and shoots him, Yukimura didn’t call a hit and continues to charge at him. This cheat gives a reason for the sadist to beat him down. Now he’s dead too. A dead with regrets because he couldn’t help Masamune. I guess now it’s Hotaru’s turn. After witnessing the horrifying events firsthand, she is shocked at Midori’s true colours. She remembers Masamune’s plan to take them on individually. Although she was against it but decided to put her faith in him. Hotaru ignores Midori to tend to Masamune. Midori shows no remorse in what he did especially kicking Masamune for trying to tell Hotaru to forfeit. Corpses don’t speak, right? After all, it is just a game where hurting opponents and crushing their spirits can be written off as just a game.

This makes Hotaru mad. So mad that all the birds fly away, the storm is coming and the air around trembling! Hotaru transforms into a speed demon and is going to evoke justice on this monster. Despite how fast Hotaru comes at him and dodging his bullets, Midori can still keep his cool and analyze his behaviour and tactic to use mobility to beat him in close quarters. When Hotaru corners Midori and is about to show no mercy, Midori says something that has her stunned. He knows she cannot win this game because she is a liar and a girl. This gives Ichi time to snipe her out. Game over. Still reeling from the shock, Midori explains about that frisking at the shop that made him knew. He figures his teammates don’t know about this and that she lied to join the team. Hotaru insists she can continue but he points out she is already dead. Of course technically she would be if that was a real bullet. But since she is not, she is still alive and what she feels are despair and remorse. Something that she wouldn’t have if she was dead. Thus survival games make you experience the despair of death while living. Now that she’s got a taste of what her friends felt all those years, she’s a step closer to them. He invites her to take part again next year and he’ll gladly take her on. When Hotaru returns to Masamune, she cannot help feel disgrace as she has let him down but Masamune is quick to apologize it was his fault for coming up with this plan. And now that this match and fun are over, we don’t need to see anymore of the rest and we’ll just skip to the end results. Yup, Hoshishiro wins the championship for the fifth time.

Episode 9
Hotaru is still having nightmares from Midori’s torment. Even right in the middle of class. Kanae notices something amiss goes to talk to her and she explains about the survival game thingy and yesterday’s ultimate loss. Of course there are things she cannot tell Kanae like she lied to her friends about her gender. However Hotaru decides to quit survival game for good. This makes Kanae look up on survival games and her lazy browsing has her not having a good opinion of the sport. So a good thing that she’s quitting? But this has her remember a time their class was facing off another class in PE in volleyball. The opponent had giant monster girls. The class wants to give up as they always lose but Hotaru told them some motivating words that made them carry on. So she goes up to Hotaru and wants to challenge her to a 100 metre race. You think a twist is going to happen? Well, Hotaru wins and Kanae is slower than a turtle! But each time she requests to race again. Always the same results. Hotaru crosses the finish line when she isn’t even halfway and always trips. So what the heck is the point of all this? Doesn’t she look cool? Well, can’t say for her running makeup… As she mentions about giving up and not trying makes you even uncool, those were the exact words Hotaru said to her classmates. Remember them? Although Kanae doesn’t like her playing survival games, seeing her this pessimistic is even worse. This isn’t like her at all. For her to be depressed means she really loves the game and that her friends she plays with are important to her. So go out there and win it the next time. Hotaru’s depression vanishes. She thanks her and as she puts her palms over Kanae’s cheeks, saying how cool and cute she is, Kanae becomes embarrassed and sprints away. A sprint so fast that she could have broke the world record if this was actually officially recorded! Hotaru realizes she needs to become stronger but the first thing she needs to do is to come clean about her gender to her friends. It is another day at work for Masamune at his host club. His colleagues heard about his lost but are glad his face isn’t ‘damaged’. But Masamune notes Midori leaves scars where it cannot be seen…

Episode 10
Of course it isn’t as easy as it seems. Numerous chances for Hotaru to tell the truth but she just can’t. Chicken. Masamune invites her to join a grill party in Yukimura’s room. Since the place is strewn with questionable stuffs, Hotaru throws it all away! Her nervousness continues to impede her from telling the truth even when the chance presents itself. It makes her gloominess so obvious. Masamune then asks her if she likes survival games. Long story short, yes. That is precisely the reason why Masamune is going to tell her she is out of the team! Wait. Did we hear that right?! He kicks her out of the room and says they were just finding a third member to beat Midori but apparently that wasn’t enough either. Yukimura has a thing to say to Masamune too. He knows Masamune felt hurt when he kicked her out so why did he do it? At first it was true they just wanted an extra member but she came to love survival games. He understands he did this so as not to drag Hotaru into their personal battle but one day he’ll realize this would be very unfair to her. Yukimura then punches him because he is not to only one who is hurt by this. As he has always followed him without question, if this is what he wants, he will follow him no more. Yeah, everybody is left in shock. Yukimura is recovering from this outburst. He never knew he could do it. He thought this would make Hotaru mad enough to come barging back but she didn’t. Is she going to end it like this? To make things worse, didn’t Yukimura just run out of his own room? Where is he going to sleep? For Hotaru, there is only one thing to do. She goes to the hospital where Midori works and takes out her gun! They’re going to settle it today! He tells her not to bring survival games into her daily life. That is what the sport is for. You do all your fighting there. After his shift finishes, Hotaru is taken to a maid cafe. Not just an ordinary maid cafe as she notices the maids carry guns and there are guns all around. Is this the place where they’ll settle it? Hotaru forgot she didn’t eat anything since morning. Can’t fight on an empty stomach, eh? She tells how she was kicked out of TGG. And because she needs to become stronger, the reason why she’ll be having his head! But Midori accepts her challenge. Because if she thinks beating him will solve the problem, then go ahead. They’ll play a game in the next room.

Episode 11
There is a shooting gallery in this maid cafe where they can rent guns and practise shooting. During the warm up, Hotaru sucks! Midori wonders if Hotaru will rejoin TGG if she beats him. He suspects she didn’t get kick out for being weak. Hotaru also suspected Masamune was lying when he told her that. Midori assures he did not tell them about her gender and that guy is a bigger coward than she thinks. The match they’ll play is to shoot a target’s body part in a systematic order. The last one will be the head and whoever nails that shot wins. Hotaru couldn’t get even a shot anywhere and Midori is your usual cool cat since he is playing mind games with Hotaru that TGG might not like her. Midori even has the idea of asking TGG to join his side as he wants to expand his team. That way, he could torment Masamune all he wants… In that instant, Hotaru lands a direct headshot on the target. She won’t let him have his way with anyone else. Next time they meet will be on the battlefield. Hotaru then goes to Yukimura’s room to talk. Ero manga artist shows all his treasured photos containing Masamune! This just confirms his unhealthy stalker status. But there are also a few photos of ex-TGG members. Yukimura has decided to tell him the real truth. The real reason why they don’t allow female members to join. So we’ve heard the cruelty that was done to her. That was somewhat a lie. He reveals Masamune has some sort of obsession with Midori. If he doesn’t beat him, TGG cannot advance. This selfish obsession produced 2 casualties. The first third member was that female. In the first TGC, it was actually TGG that broke the rules. After Masamune was hit, he saw his female teammate being hunt down by Midori. Against the rules, he tried to help her but was pinned down by Fujimori. She was scared and all but Midori showed no mercy. Midori even mocked Masamune for being a bad and weak leader since he invited one of his host clients to join his team. If you look at it, Hoshishiro didn’t break any rules and played accordingly unlike TGG.

Shortly after the female member left, the no-female rule was initiated because Masamune didn’t want to see he was too pathetic to protect them. As we know that Hoshishiro is now 5 times champion, as both Hoshishiro and TGG were created at the same time, from what we know so far, the female member participated in the first TGC, absent in the fourth and Hotaru in the fifth. This means there is another member who participated with them in the second and third. TGG got another guy for that. He was well knowledgeable in the game. But those 2 tournaments shattered his innocence of the game. Because of that, he quit survival games for good and blamed it on Masamune for that. This is probably the same reason why Hotaru got kicked out. Therefore the third member of TGG is always like a curse. Members get caught up in Masamune and Midori’s relationship and having to suffer about it. Yukimura didn’t quit because he has decided to stay with him all the way. He apologizes for dramatizing the story to hype her up and end this negative cycle. Looks like it didn’t. That is why he is begging her to rejoin and save Masamune. He can’t do it alone. Hotaru doesn’t need this sympathetic story for it. For she has also decided to save him. They’re just in luck because that guy just came back from work. Hotaru corners him with her devil attitude and throws him a challenge letter. They’re going to do something fun together… That ambiguity… Masamune must be too scared to decline.

Episode 12
They’re here at a survival game field where they’ll settle it. If Hotaru wins, there is something she wants him to say. He has no right to decline since he dragged her into this world and needs to take responsibility. He agrees to participate but if he wins, she will never be associated with TGG again. Yukimura will sit this one out and watch them as a spectator. Right off the bat, Hotaru goes into her demon mode to hunt down Masamune. While he is paranoid about why Hotaru issued such challenge, it comes to a disappointing end when Masamune shot her. However Hotaru requests for a rematch. Masamune has no choice but to keep playing till she is satisfied. After all, he is thinking of quitting participating in TGC as he is tired of losing. Ever rematch always has Masamune winning and Hotaru requesting another rematch. Doesn’t she get tired especially of losing? This makes Masamune ponder when did he become afraid of challenging him and when did he stop feeling the frustration of losing. Maybe the losing streak has numbed those senses. In the final game, Masamune reminds her that here are some people she just can’t beat even if they play 100 times. Even so, if this means she will beat him on the 101st time, she’ll do it. Why is she so determined to win? Simple. She wants to win. She wants to beat Hoshishiro with TGG. This makes Masamune think further why Hotaru won’t abandon him after all the hurtful things he has said. Why is she still playing with him? Hotaru notices his pain ever since their lost at TGC. Does she need any other reason to save a friend who is in hurt? She understands TGG’s goal is to win and naturally useless teammates will be kicked out. However, learning from the ‘enemy’ that when someone else could have taken this place and help them beat Hoshishiro, that possibility makes her sick because she wants to be the one who will help TGG achieve victory and save her friends! She wants to be the only one to play survival games with them!

In the final showdown, more deep thoughts from Masamune about watching people in his life leave (I figure that first person who started it all was his mom in this flashback) and all he could do was watch them disappear into the distance. His eyes are clouded by his tears and Hotaru did a surprising move by hugging him. Deep late into the night, finally Hotaru wins. What is it that she wants him to say? Remember the first thing he said to her when she lost their first match at the host club? Yeah. That. Masamune invites her to join his team and she gladly doesn’t hesitate. Hotaru wants Masamune to also thank Yukimura but that ero manga artist is being tsundere, blaming it all on him because he never thought about him despite always by his side. But after he apologizes and mentions his gratefulness, Yukimura forgives him and that says it all when he gives him a gay hug! Oh sh*t! The close proximity of their faces! Masamune now has renewed motivation to fight harder to beat Hoshishiro. This means more training and fixing their mistakes. But there is one thing that continues to bug Masamune. He can’t help feel his heart skip each time being near Hotaru. OMG… Don’t tell me… Shotacon!!! Say it isn’t so! Next morning, the trio meet outside their dorm. Hotaru feels she has the confidence to tell them about her gender. Don’t hold your breath because she’s just trolling us and wishing them good morning.

OVA
It has been a week since Hotaru has seen Yukimura. So she enters his room only to find it messy and Yukimura unconscious. All because he was playing too much eroge. So much so Yukimura thought Hotaru is meat and bites his leg! Yukimura then shows her another survival game tournament, TCC. She is eager to join and pleads Masamune to come although he has not heard about this one. At first, Hotaru thought she ended up in the wrong place because there are lots of cosplayers. Then Yukimura reveals that this is Top Cosplayers Combat, a tournament whereby cosplayers compete against realistic survival game players to see who is stronger. They thought they are going to be on the latter side when Yukimura points out it is the former because his close acquaintance invited him to participate. So they have to wear weird costumes and fight? Masamune plans of withdrawing despite this would mean uneven team numbers. However Hotaru sees the fire in the cosplayers’ eyes and believes they too are fired up to play this game. While Yukimura is dressed as a maid (I don’t know how I should feel about this one), Masamune is an office worker in a short skirt! Hotaru? How the heck can he see and move in that panda mascot?! Meanwhile Ichi has also brought Midori and Fujimori here. She is dressed as a princess and by right this is her ploy to get Midori to dress up as her prince. Unfortunately a series of mix-up means Fujimori wears the prince outfit. It’s too tight for him. There goes her dream. Fearing the worse, they need to go find Midori.

The game’s format will be capture the flag. The cosplayers seem to do well maybe because those survival guys look down on those weird outfits. Yukimura has some deep philosophy how cosplaying has the players take out their ultimate stress (which isn’t really related anyhow) while Masamune is reduced to a screaming girl each time his short skirt threatens to reveal his slip. Hotaru? I don’t know how the panda got stuck between the bamboo shoots. But then a horse dude saves her. You would have guessed this is Midori behind the mask. Both ‘animals’ without knowing each other’s identity, cooperate as they make their way forward. I believe everybody else is already out, Hotaru and Midori are the only ones left as they face off with the big boss guarding the flag. Their great cooperation has them win the game. With this victory, those survival guys are left to reconsider that cosplayers aren’t bad too. Hotaru can’t tell her mates what dress she was in and just says she couldn’t make it playing because she was taking too long changing. She wonders who that horse was. Masamune wants to forget this experience but sneaky Yukimura has snapped pictures of him in action. Hold your horses! Delete them right now!

Licence To Thrill
This is an absolute fact and final verdict: Sabagebu is still the best anime survival theme genre there is! No doubts about it. While this anime is not as bad as that Stella girls, I will not go so far as to say that it is boring as hell because there were some pretty interesting moments throughout the series. Although the entire series can be just summed up as this: The first part deals with the drama of Hotaru getting her first virgin taste in the survival game world and the end part tries to unravel and disentangle the messy relationship that TGG has with its third members. At first it started out as just a simple reason for Hotaru to take part in survival games as a reason to reveal her gender. Although it is good that she truly comes to love the game, having her to reveal herself feels like a guy or a girl trying to confess their love. It takes ages. It will never come. That kind of feeling. Get it?

I am not a big fan of yaoi or shonen ai animes. If I would have to rank them, I would rather watch mecha themed animes and skip such genres. But you know me… But I have a feeling that this anime does try to put in subtle yaoi moments and they are peppered throughout the series. Firstly, you can already guess when you have a girl so tomboyish that she acts and dresses like a boy with no sense of guilt. Like as though she is a boy born in a girl’s body. Then you have lots of hot handsome bishonen as the main and supporting characters despite this anime does not have a large pool of casts. Finally when you have that type of combination, it is inevitable that something yaoi will have to prop up (unless it’s a reverse harem genre). You can see in certain angles the way they interact with each other gives off the subtlety of the yaoi-ness. Fujoshi girls might be holding their breath anticipating those hot guys to make out whenever such ambiguous close up scenes occur but I think they’ll rather be disappointed with the no-show. Thank goodness we don’t see guys kissing guys here. Now here is point to ponder. If one of the guys kissed Hotaru, will that be considered yaoi? Holy cow! I think I’m freaking confused just by thinking about it.

Character wise, they are an interesting watch but with only a dozen episodes, my guts tell me that they aren’t fleshed out to their fullest potential. We know each one of them has their own dark secrets and some twisted personality. But we’ve only seen a fragment of it. Nevertheless this little teasing provides a good little insight to their background and the reason they’re around playing this game. If they ever make another season, it will be nice to see a bit expanded on this.

Hotaru as the main character, if you think about it, she is pretty much a funny person. Almost as close to being a joker. You see her making most of the comeback lines in this anime when she screams from the top of her inner voice. Then her personality his equally as amusing. Especially being a newbie in the survival game world, you see her rush into things like as though she is pretty confident that luck is on her side. Well, you can’t blame her for being too enthusiastic since she’s getting all that thrill and adrenaline rush from the game. And then when something doesn’t go her way or reality hits her, you see her in shock. Depression. Gloomy. Welcome to reality, kid. I know this isn’t funny but in a way it does. It’s like seeing how her naivety comes crashing down when it unravels before her eyes.

But you have to admire her guts and tenacity in her belief as the hero of justice. Her athletic ability and that scary demon mode makes others think twice if they think they can score an easy victory over her. But thanks to her recklessness, luck isn’t always on her side. Every time she enters her demon mode, it is like as though he raw inner beast just got unleashed. Sometimes I can’t help think if should would just morph into some human-like beast form. And then when everything calms down, she reverts to normal and can even put off a nice smile since honesty is one of her strong traits. It’s like as though she is this anime’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. One moment normal, the next a vicious merciless hunter and then a nice high school kid as before.

As strange as Hotaru is, one of the strangest and most perplexing behaviour of this cross-dresser is the way she addresses herself. Now, addressing oneself in third person is considered to be child-like in Japanese society. But the oddest thing about that is how Hotaru addresses herself in her own surname! Nothing wrong to it but I have always heard kids doing so usually saying it in their first name. Unless Tachibana is her first name. Nope. Definitely not. I can assure you of that. Another confusing thing to think about is her cross-dressing setting. Of course at first glance she will always be mistaken as a boy from the way she dresses and acts. But what is bugging me is that she dresses as a boy in her school uniform as well. I am not sure if the school condones it or if they are aware of her gender. Because Hotaru is also the student council president and common sense dictates such position means having a role model personality, right? Which brings me to the point if anybody else in school except Kanae knows that Hotaru is actually a girl. That is why in my blog I keep addressing Hotaru as female in hopes not to overwhelm my senses of this yaoi thing although the temptation is very great to see her as male.

I believe Midori is not a bad person as dramatized in the flashbacks as seen. Sure, he is a pure sadist but that is only when he is confined in playing his survival games. Despite his sadistic and mocking nature makes him the series’ antagonist (because the way our blondie agonizes and traumatizes all over about it is just pitiful), he is a pretty nice guy outside the survival game discipline. Because if he was really rotten to the core, he wouldn’t have subtly helped Hotaru each time. He gives good advice with his nice and polite tone (which would work as a double edge sword since we never here this guy scream or yell), a cool and calm collective character in all situations and doesn’t physically hurt others. Okay, so maybe verbal abuses may leave an unseen and permanent scar but at least Midori is not as bad as other psychopaths who use their hobby, turning them into serial killers in real life. In many ways, Midori is superior and that is why despite being the ‘antagonist’, he is quite likeable. Especially when he looks like having fun playing the bad guy role in survival games.

Is it no wonder why so many people like him? Fujimori is into this guy, Ichi definitely has a crush on him and I am starting to believe that Masamune’s unhealthy obsession to beat this dude is because he actually likes the guy! Hey. Remember what I said about this series having subtle yaoi? This means it is the same case for Yukimura and Masamune because from all that we have seen and heard for them, looks like they go beyond just best friends. At least for what Yukimura wants. It makes it ironic that he is an ero manga artist if he is so gay for Masamune. Unless he is bi. Which means it works well for him for Hotaru if ever this guy falls for her. Now with Masamune hinting he has that sort of feelings with Hotaru, can it be considered yaoi or straight love? Confusing, right? Though, not too sure if there is anything going on between Hotaru and Kanae as for the time being they’re more likely staying as best friends.

But I think the true joker and comical character falls to Fujimori. I believe this guy has got the hots for Midori and is a big masochist. There are a few episodes where the drama of TGG is deviated slightly to show the little antics of Midori and Fujimori. For example, Fujimori was reprimanded by a nurse for being late when in actual fact he went over to Midori’s home to wake him up to avoid being late. Even being so nice as to cook breakfast for him. His bicycle might be the biggest time consuming factor that caused them to be late but Midori had prior called a taxi and leaves him eating dust. And Midori didn’t even back him up when they got to work. And Fujimori just loves this cold shoulder play. This guy is funny or what? Then there is another time when a little girl is kicking up a fuss over her shots. Fujimori tried to pacify her but he was so nervous that it made him look like a monster. This distraction allowed Midori to give her a shot that she didn’t even feel any pain. And Fujimori was left painted as the ‘bad guy’. See? Pity this funny guy! Ironically if you think about it, the Hoshishiro team made up of a couple of doctors and a nurse play such games as hobby. Medical personnel are supposed to save lives, right? Releasing some steam? Another case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Although there are a handful of survival game action scenes, such scenes aren’t really the main focus of this series and as I have said it is mainly about the big drama of Hotaru and TGG. Therefore I am in a dilemma to say whether the action scenes are a disappointment or not because although they are entertaining, they aren’t that great. Especially the TGC tournament felt like a disappointment and as a stepping stone to reveal the background story between TGG and Hoshishiro. Because with the most ultimate survival game in Japan, for it to appear in the middle of the series and our main team facing off with the defending champions in the first round, something tells you that the entire tournament itself isn’t going to show. True enough they just spend a couple of episodes on it but even that is heavy on the drama while they fire their guns. Then they skip the rest because it would be just boring to vouch for teams without a background and while at it, make Hoshishiro the champion again in the end. So if you are an adrenaline junkie hoping to see lots of action and gunfights, you’d be disappointed. Though you might be impressed with Hotaru’s athleticism in his demon mode like as though he got training from Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and all of the great Chinese kung fu masters to pull off those cool physics defying manoeuvres.

One thing I hoped for in this series was at least to feature some of the cool guns and firearms. Maybe not go into so much detail but at least with some decent amount of information. Sadly, they aren’t and are just briefly touched upon. Maybe they don’t want to bore you with all the technical details since a casual viewer won’t really notice or be interested in such things. Even so, maybe it is the fear that one might developed a very dangerous interest in guns. Because for realism, even if they are just toy guns, they look real and in today’s age where everybody is just jumpy about the slightest thing, it isn’t such a good idea flaunting those weapons in public. The basic and standard survival game rules are also briefly touched upon and not elaborated much. Good for casual viewers so as not to confuse and bore them with all the technicalities and develop some character drama but bad in a way as it doesn’t make the survival game theme standout.

If you like your characters looking all that hot and cool bishonen style, the art styles of the character designs do not disappoint. Just like in other survival game animes, in a way it visually feels unrealistic because in reality you have tough macho (sometimes weather bitten-like) people mainly playing such sports. Then here you have beautiful people who are looking more like models in playing the game more than anything. Like as though such beautiful people are promoting the game, huh? Because of that, they’re ‘easy’ on the eye. Even the nerdy Yukimura has some bishonen looks instead of your typical geeky chubby otaku. Hotaru as usual has that androgynous looks that confuses anime newbies whether or not she is boy or girl. And Masamune… Blonde guys are naturally supposed to be handsome, right? Hey… Doesn’t he look a bit like Ouran High School Host Club’s Tamaki? And doesn’t Fujimori look like that Mushishi guy? This might be a long shot but I once thought Yukimura is Death Note’s L with glasses! Oh man! I must be blind!

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is a name that has now become synonymous with male protagonist heroes similar to Kirito in Sword Art Online ever since. However in here, this is one of the very few roles in which he deviates from his typical voice acting role. As Yukimura, he sounds very lethargic and very much fits his character. This isn’t the first time I have heard him voice such character. In fact, this reminds me of that cat, Bimii in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku. And then when he gets passionate and loud, that kind of voice reminds of another very similar character: Aito from Mangaka-san to Assistant-san To. They’re both ero manga artists, by the way… Mikako Komatsu usually voices female roles but voicing boys’ roles isn’t her first time although rare. For example, Saika from Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Come Wa Machigatteiru, Priapos in Junketsu No Maria and technically, uhm, Tsugumi in Nisekoi?

Yui Horie was recognizable as Yajima as well as Kana Ueda as Sagara (whom I though sounded so much like Rin from Fate/Stay Night maybe because I was watching the Unlimited Blade Works TV series concurrently with this one). At first I couldn’t pinpoint Eri Kitamura as Ichi. Sounds familiar but couldn’t put my finger on it till very much near the series’ end. For the rest of the casts, they include Tomoaki Maeno as Masamune (Naotsugu in Log Horizon), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Midori (Tasuku in Seikon No Qwaser) and Ryohei Kimura as Fujimoto (L-elf in Valvrave The Liberator). All of the opening and ending themes are rock based and although it fits the survival game theme of the series, somehow it just doesn’t somewhat fit the series. Get what I’m saying? The trio of TGG sings the opening theme, The Bravest Destiny while Mikako Komatsu does the ending theme, Gunjou Survival.

Overall, not really a true blue survival game genre but the drama and plot aren’t as boring that you would want to fall asleep and then wake up in disappointment like a certain survival game club consisting of high school girls. This one is more if you like bishonen characters and some mild subtle yaoi but nothing too deep. Survival games are just like life. It can be cruel, it can be blissful. Sometimes a way to take out all that frustration and release some steam before returning to harsh reality. Come to think of it, sometimes what Midori said about survival games being crueller than real life because you continue to live with the regrets and disappointment after a scathing defeat. Maybe that is why we have more wars than just-a-game-only survival games. Yeah. They don’t just play games seriously. They also take life seriously, huh?

Kyoukai No Rinne

January 16, 2016

From time to time when I’m feeling a little nostalgic about anime, usually I would go back in time and think of all the animes that I could remember that I have watched. And without a doubt that I have the anime series Ranma 1/2 to thank for as it is the very anime that got me hooked into Japanese animation and turned into a self proclaimed otaku. Ah, those were the days. So when I heard that there was going to be another anime adaption from the author of Ranma 1/2, I didn’t hesitate to put it on my watch list. No, it is not a remake of Ranma 1/2, but another work of hers, Kyoukai No Rinne. I have not read any of her manga works and so far the only anime adapted works that I have seen from her are Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha and Maison Ikkoku. But having watched the latter trio, I can safely assume that there is going to be some sort of pattern and trademark that is uniquely Rumiko Takahashi. Right? Supernatural. Polyamory romance. A bit of action. Comedic moments. Yeah. Sounds a lot like her work. Ah well. Time to dive into more nostalgia even though the setting is in the current modern era of Japan.

Episode 1
When Sakura Mamiya was young, she found herself at the border of this world and the next. Though, the ghost lady tells her to leave and forget about this place. Fast forward to the future, Sakura can still see ghosts but chooses to ignore some of the pesky ones. There is a seat in class next to Sakura by Rinne Rokudou who has been absent for a month. Today he makes his debut. However judging from the reaction of the teacher and classmates who still act like Rinne is absent, could this mean he is a ghost? She witnesses him summon a giant Chihuahua that eventually devours him. The next day, here he is again but surprised! Everybody can see and talk to him. When Sakura talks to her friends, Miho and Rika about some haunting ghost call, Rinne interjects and he knows a solution. He tells them to leave some food offering in some thermometer shelter. Although Sakura sees Rinne blatantly take the food and eat, her friends see it as the shelter opening and the food disappearing. They freak out and run away. Sakura grabs Rinne and wants an explanation. Seems this robe from the Underworld allows him to be invisible to human eyes but somehow Sakura is an exception. She is not amused he created some superstition to trick her friends but he asserts he did not and needed to support himself. After Rinne picks up a call from Miho (Rika dropped her handphone), subsequently another threatening call from a guy to meet behind the gym. As they wait, he never turned up so it is concluded he might have died. It is time for Rinne to do his job. Sakura wants to help but is told to go home. Although she could see spirits, she has never done any exorcism job before. Rinne’s job is to guide lost spirits for reincarnation. But since he needs some money to make a call from his ghost phone to trace the call, he lets her tag along.

They find a student cycling when a pot was dropped on his head. They bring him to the gym but he is amnesiac and without any clues it will be hard to find his lingering attachment and make him pass over. When their teacher, Suzuki passes a second-hand jersey to Rinne, he is so happy to keep it but the ghost reacts. Sakura asks Suzuki for a back story so he explains this jersey belonged to his friend who also shared the same name. They accidentally swapped jerseys and he wanted it back. That is why he called to meet. But he never turned up and he has been keeping it ever since. But Rinne doesn’t want to let go of the jersey! Sakura shows the ghost guy to Suzuki and he confirms it is his friend. Rinne reluctantly gives the jersey and passes over. Suzuki remembers getting a haunting call after the day he died so he changed his phone. That number eventually ended up in Rika’s phone. On the way back, Rinne catches that Chihuahua ghost. That pesky ghost is also here and it seems his lingering attachment is that he never got the chance to talk to girls but Sakura was the first one. Somehow he merged with the dog and Rinne could sense he is becoming an evil spirit. When ghost guy asks Sakura out, she rejects him. He turns malicious. Rinne takes Sakura and flies away to the border world. He explains his attachment to Sakura is what made him stay. He dragged her along so as to guide him back to reincarnation. He begs her for 500 Yen so he could buy some fire wheel to separate them and send them over. That is just what it did. So how do you convince the lonely guy to pass on? There are girls on the other side too. And he is on his way… Sakura has a familiar feeling she has been to this place before so Rinne apologizes for bringing her to this place as no living thing should be here. She asks him who he is. A shinigami. Sort of. Back in school, the thermometer shelter rumour spreads and Rinne takes full advantage of it…

Episode 2
Sakura hears all her classmates having the same threatening dream to leave offerings at the thermometer shelter or risk being cursed. Thinking this is the work of Rinne, she catches him in the blatant act of hauling all the offerings (he is invisible of course). However he denies ever doing such evil things because whenever there are offerings made, he still helps out with the wishes. Tamako pops out behind Rinne. Woah! This young lady is his grandma???!!! She hates being called that and loves being praised as young. Sakura has a strange feeling of seeing her somewhere before. Tamako admits she was helping Rinne out with the threatening dreams. Otherwise how could he have gotten so much offering? Since he is unappreciative, she confiscates it. He follows her back but Sakura accidentally tags along. His robe rips and she falls down into the woods. Luckily she manages to find her way out to the temple festival and after dodging a persistent granny trying to sell her some golf stick, a rabbit urges her to come along with her on a boat ride. Rinne enlists Tamako’s help to find Sakura and bad news she is at the lake that will lead her to reincarnation. Since Sakura is alive, this act is very much like killing herself. It took Sakura a while to realize that all around her are contented old folks. They even ask her if she is sure to move on and has got her affairs in order. She is so affected by their contentment, she believes she has no regrets. However the thought of not giving back Rinne’s ripped robe bugs her. This causes the platform below her to give way. Rinne saves her but the rabbit intercepts. While he fights and defeats the rabbit, Sakura remembers something familiar. When she was young and went to visit grandma, a rabbit lured her and she found herself at the temple festival. If not for Tamako, she could have been dead meat. That is when she remembers of coming to this place. As explained, that rabbit is a Damashigami (fake shinigami) and is trying to trick living humans into reincarnation to fill their spirit quota. Remembering who Tamako is, she asks her the reason why she is able to see ghosts ever since. Normally you can’t unless you eat something in this place. Oh wait. Tamako may have bought her some snacks when Sakura requested. So it’s her fault? Rinne leaves with Sakura back to the living world. He declines Tamako’s invitation to live with her. Sakura wonders why he can’t do that. It’s because she is a shinigami. So? Rinne isn’t one but a human. Sort of. Hey wait. What? I’m confused. Meanwhile, Riko and Miho see Sakura and think she is going out with Rinne.

Episode 3
Confused, Sakura asks about Rinne’s background. It all started 50 years ago when Tamako went to collect the soul of a handsome young man whose life was shortened by illness. Charmed by his sweet words, she fell in love with him. They married and due to some arrangements, his life extended for another 50 years before passing on. You can guess Rinne is their grandchild. As she asks for his parents, he is not willing to speak. Miho calls Sakura about the will-o-wisp she saw at the old clubhouse. She wonders if the spirit is mad due to its upcoming demolition. As she wants to ascertain it, she hopes Sakura could follow her. The next day they go there but a giant monster cat scares Sakura’s pals. Rinne shortly chases it away. This leaves Sakura wondering if the monster cat is a ghost since her friends can see it. Along the way, she sees an injured kitten and takes it home to treat it. She then sees it trying to steal some rice tuna she offered. As she chases it, she enters a portal that brings her to the clubhouse. The kitten turns into a little cat kid, Rokumon who claims he is doing this for Rinne. That will-o-wisp is just a candle. I suppose some explanation is in place. Because he is so poor, he needs a place to live rent-free after being evicted from his grandpa’s place. Rokumon as he came from orders from Tamako, wants him to sign a contract since shinigami and black cats work together but he won’t citing he cannot pay him. Rokumon tries all dirty tricks to make him sign including tempting him with freebies but Rinne just won’t.

After Rinne sends Sakura home, Rokumon continues explaining about Rinne’s predicament. After Tamako married grandpa, there were some conditions. One of them was to allow her to stay in the human only when her husband was alive and the other she must meet the spirit quota 10 times. She agreed and of course failed. This means Rinne has to bear the debt now. As he is not a full shinigami, he needs to consider buying to tools to help in his exorcism. That is why Rokumon wants to help him. He has a favour of Sakura and that is together a crowd at the clubroom. His plan is to scare them so they will offer lots of offering and thus end up with a high paying contract. Too bad Rinne sniffed out his plan as he found the real letter from Tamako. He was fired and was told there might be a job opening with Rinne. The clubhouse demolition is about to begin but ghost mice start running out in frenzy before turning into a giant rat. Looks like it doesn’t want his home destroyed. Rinne fights it and doesn’t want the freeloader to hog his home. Look who is talking. Rinne needs to borrow money from Sakura to buy shinigami tools but she forgot her purse. They can’t win at this rate. Suddenly Rokumon pounds and defeats the rat. All for free. The demolition is cancelled as they think it is a warning from the gods. Rokumon is about to pack his bags and leave but Rinne offers him to stay by his side. Though happy but poorly paid.

Episode 4
When Rinne goes to see any requests from the thermometer shelter, he sees a ghost guy pleading for help before being attacked. Rinne is also attacked by Tsubasa Juumonji thinking he is a ghost (as he is in the robe) but he manages to flee. Rinne picks up a dropped picture of young Sakura with several ghosts around her. Tsubasa turns out to be the new transfer student in Sakura’s class. First thing he goes up to Sakura and asks if she remembers him even though they were in the same elementary class for a short while. Of course she doesn’t. Heart breaking, isn’t it? Time for a short flashback. As Tsubasa could also see ghosts, it makes him awkward to make normal friends. As he was to give up, that is when he met Sakura and learnt she could also see ghosts. They become friends and he instantly likes her. However as he comes from a family of exorcists and his dad frequently has to move around the country, Tsubasa was forced to follow him around and left without saying goodbye. Now Tsubasa asks if she would like to go out with him! But here comes Rinne. Tsubasa is surprised he is not a ghost. Is the cat fight starting? Although Rinne claims he is not interested in such stuffs (and Sakura doesn’t belong to him, blah, blah, blah) but you can clearly see his annoyed reaction. Like as though he cares but is too tsundere for it. Tsubasa continues to be persistent in asking Sakura for an answer. But since it is not like she is dating Rinne, I guess she’s fine starting out as friends with him. Happy enough? Rinne is trying to help that ghost guy hook up with Miho since he likes her and died before he could have a chance to enrol in this school. Miho agrees to go out with him when Tsubasa interrupts. With Sakura trying to intervene too, Miho suggests a double date. Well… Tsubasa doesn’t know what he did but he is so happy he already is going on a date with Sakura. You gonna be okay, Rinne? So as not to be left out and for more excitement, I guess that is when Rika asks him if he would like to join in with her too.

At the amusement park, while Tsubasa pays for Sakura, since Rinne is willing to pay for ghost guy (seriously, he has no money), he is also forced to pay for Miho and Rika. Sakura sees through Rika’s plan to clean him out. This month is going to be really tough. Because of his poor state, Rinne aces at the crane game as a way to save money. Tsubasa tries to impress Sakura with it but sucks so Rinne takes over and gets the dolphin doll she wants. She is grateful and will forever cherish it. He is somewhat smitten with her sweet smile. While taking a break, Rika talks to Sakura if she plans to go out with Rinne. Although he was her date, she could see him staring at Sakura all the time. Well, now he is staring at his empty wallet… During the Ferris Wheel ride, the ghost guy is very happy with his date that he passes over. The girls are distracted by the fireworks so they didn’t see him disappear. But they start realizing he is a ghost at the end of it. Luckily they didn’t fear him since he was such a good ghost. Back home, Rokumon asks Rinne about his date but he denies it is that and all part of his exorcism job. Yeah, that was one hell of an expensive exorcism job. Rinne can’t get Sakura’s smile out of his mind. Starting to think she’s cute?

Episode 5
Rinne is happy to see a wanted ghost poster. This means he can earn some money. Meanwhile in Sakura’s class, there are child handprints all over the place but on Tsubasa’s table, it is even worse with writings of vengeance. When Tsubasa smokes the ghost out, it runs. Hey, doesn’t it look like the wanted ghost? Rinne sees it and captures it. Back in his room, his joy is short-lived when the ghost turns into the world famous elementary school toilet ghost girl. Unfortunately Rinne has no idea who Hanako is! She relates her aggravation that Tsubasa exorcised her out of her favourite toilet and she was left wandering in the sky (that is why people heard less about her these days). She is back to get her revenge and won’t pass on till she does so. Well, the rematch with Tsubasa… She wraps him up with toilet paper and flushes him down with toilet water. Literally, isn’t that playing dirty? But she’s not done yet. She wants more revenge. She has that wanted ghost, Toichi to help with her vengeance. Rinne talks to Tamako to find out more about Toichi. It is made up of many evil spirits and it is giving Hanako its power. As Hanako initially didn’t possess the power to harm others, she must have taken out a ‘loan’ with Toichi’s power to do so. This means if she fails to repay it, then it might take payment another way.

Now Hanako is ‘vandalizing’ the toilets with her trademark. Sakura feels sorry for her after hearing her story but Rinne notes they have to act fast for Hanako’s sake. Tsubasa has returned with a special bazooka with more power to exorcist Hanako. She runs and wants Toichi to grant more power. Before she could take it all, Rinne saves her and reminds her about the fine print. In exchange for all the power she gets, the price to pay is ultimately herself. Toichi preys on weak spirits and will soon absorb her and make itself bigger. Tsubasa thought he could do the honours by finishing Toichi but his bazooka only made it split into several smaller parts. Rokumon returns with Rinne’s scythe. He once had it but had to pawn it off to cover his living expenses. He took a loan for it. The scythe purifies some of Toichi. Who’s next? Toichi decides to target Hanako as a ghost like her is a great power source. Tsubasa realizes it was his fault that made Hanako’s grudge. After apologizing to her, he takes out his Bible and starts whacking Toichi! Now I know another use for the trusty heavy book. Rinne then purifies the rest. Hanako wonders why Tsubasa saved her. Had he allowed Hanako to be absorbed, his conscience would never let him rest since it was his fault that she lost her home. Hanako forgives him and with no more regrets, she is ready to pass on. Rinne thought his poor life is over after collecting the reward. However it was immediately seized to cover some of his debts. Back to square one. Tsubasa wonders if Sakura likes Rinne because she can smile to him like that. Or maybe she is just pitying him.

Episode 6
When Miho helped a lady, she warned her about a shrine by the street that has voices. Curiosity got the better of her as she brings her friends there. They really hear voices. But the voice of several kids. Sakura even sees ghost of hands of the kids stretching out! She goes to report this to Rinne but he is in the middle of attending a client. This guy feels something is wrong with his little brother, Hiroshi. When they visit the family home, they can tell this is not the real Hiroshi. This monster cat is impersonating as him and wreaking havoc in the home. Rinne is going to exorcise him but his scythe breaks! As Tsubasa goes after it, the rest learn that Hiroshi’s friends have gone missing except for Taichi who is still safe. Sakura senses something amiss and brings Rokumon to the shrine. They confirm those voices are Hiroshi and his friends trapped in here. Even Taichi is here. Eh? When Tsubasa follows Hiroshi to Taichi’s place, it seems Taichi is also being impersonated by the monster cat as they paralyze him. Hiroshi explains who it all happened. When the friends walk home one night, they stumbled upon this lady who told them about a monster cat sealed inside this shrine. Curious, they accidentally break it open but found nothing. On the way home, the monster cats attack Hiroshi and Taichi for breaking their home and subsequently capture the rest and place them inside the shrine. Rinne comes to Tsubasa’s rescue but since his scythe is broken, he has to use his fire wheel. Since the monster cats love moving things, they chase after it.

Rokumon thought he could scare them but he got bullied. Thanks to his encyclopaedia, Sakura informs Rinne the method of sealing the monster cats to free the kids. They have to put stuffs they like as bait to lure them back inside the shrine and seal them. So what are cats’ favourite stuffs? Fatty tuna! Rinne shoots down that idea because fatty tuna is freaking expensive! Is there any other cheaper way? Rinne uses his broken scythe as a cat toy to lure them back into the shrine but the lady won’t allow it and knocks a kettle on his head. Although the kids are freed, Rinne and the monster cats are trapped inside it. The lady is actually a Damashigami. Tsubasa reluctantly frees Rinne (because Sakura is pleading) and calls it even. He takes over the exorcism. First, he orders a jumbo plate of tuna sushi the monster cats can’t resist. Then he fires a special flavoured holy ash filled with catnip to make them drowsy before exorcising them. The kids regret what they do and will reflect their actions after being lectured by Rinne. Hiroshi gives a thousand yen as thanks and suddenly that guy starts prostrating as thanks. Suddenly no class… With this money he is able to fix his scythe. Meanwhile the Damashigami reports back to her boss about her failure thanks to a certain shinigami. As he asks her to describe that person, she says he has the same red hair as him.

Episode 7
When Sakura hears her friends talking about some biker dude crashing into a pole in an accident, she sees his spirit stuck there. Then there is this bat guy (sorry, not Batman) writing a curse on his forehead (he spelt wrongly) before taking him away. In school, Sakura sees Rinne dumbfounded with a request. She notices the note has lots of spelling errors. Then they go meet their clients, Suzu Minami and Tomoya Tadano who also have the similar letter. Sakura takes a look at it and recognizes the same handwriting and spelling errors. Suddenly the biker spirit tries to strangle Suzu but thanks to Suzu’s wrestling moves, the spirit runs away. She explains the biker guy is her boyfriend, Reiji. He was on his way to pick her up when he got into an accident. Rinne realizes he is not dead yet. They see him in coma at the hospital. They must quickly retrieve his spirit and bring it back to his body to wake him up. When Reiji comes back, Suzu and Tomoya can see him. Seems Reiji is jealous thinking Suzu is dating Tomoya after he crashed. Of course this is just a great misunderstanding. Rinne is going to use his underworld vacuum to suck him back into his body but intercepted by that bat boy, Masato who is a demon. He knows Rinne and has a deep grudge. 6 years ago when Masato was out to collect souls as his school project, he tried to reap the soul of a dying rabbit but was intercepted by Rinne who told him the rabbit isn’t really dead yet. He even nursed the rabbit back to health. Each time Masato tries to reap a dying soul, there Rinne is to foil his plan. And so he failed his assignment and that is when he vowed to get his revenge. Yeah, so petty and narrow minded. I guess that is why his name is so. Oh, he even spelt his name wrongly! Masato takes Reiji’s spirit back to hell and is going to let Rinne pay back all the humiliation with interests.

With Masato twisting Reiji’s mind, they have to bring his spirit back fast or he’ll turn into an evil spirit. Sakura suggests talking about good memories to hasten his will to want to come back. Let’s see, all the good memories are those of her doing wrestling moves on him. Those are their happy memories? Or is it hers? It’s amazing he is still with her. Rokumon is not pleased that Rinne is going to work on this case free since Reiji is a casualty of their spat. However Masato left a cash card and Rokumon thought of cleaning it out since an easy pin number is written on it. Could it be a trap or is he just stupid? Although Reiji’s ghostly haunting on Suzu is weak, Tomoya gets motorcycle tracks run over him! This causes Suzu to be upset over his stupidity. She hates him and won’t visit him anymore. Reiji feels heartbroken and this is all part of Masato’s plan to break their bonds. He also mentions the cash card trap but it is lame and non-life threatening. Just a Jack-in-a-box trick? Sakura tries to convince Reiji to get back on track but as long as the curse is on him, he will still be under Masato’s influence. It gets even worst when Masato throws him a Photoshop picture of Suzu and Tomoya kissing. Rinne returns and uses cleansing sheets to remove the curse. Although Reiji regains his normal personality, what he has done cannot be taken back. He believes Suzu must hate him. Resigned to his fate, he tells Sakura if Suzu ever finds it, throw it out. Masato traps him in his bottle and brings him to hell. Rinne follows closely behind. Sakura tries to find out what Reiji meant but Suzu is unsure of what it is. Because on the day he crashed, it was her birthday. He must be trying to give her something and Sakura believes he lost it at the crash spot. It must be very important to him since he became a living spirit to look for it.

Episode 8
How can Rinne enter hell without a pass card? He needs to pay if he wants to enter. He just breaks through! The guard is going to arrest him for illegal entry but Rinne uses a conveniently placed banana to slip through. That banana was placed by Masato to see how far Rinne will go to save Reiji. Sakura and Rokumon scout the area for Reiji’s lost thing. They find a little present and give it to Suzu. Inside is a pair of rings she always wanted. That guilty feeling now. Rinne continues to chase Masato wondering why he is interested in Reiji’s spirit. After breaking a few more stuffs, Masato reveals his plan to make Rinne rake up debt in hell and be put in the lowest level of hell. Because the eternal manual labour is never paid, the debt can never be fully paid. That is where Rinne will forever perish. Reiji’s spirit is just bait to lure him here. Masato throws it deep down into the depths but Rinne dives down to save it. Rokumon brings Sakura to hell and explains about the many hell sections as well as the sophisticated technology it currently adopts. They see all the destruction Rinne left behind and this is not a good sign. Sakura clearly has not enough to pay all this. Don’t worry. Rokumon kept all the cash cards Masato threw at him then. One of them is real because it written on it. Is it a trap? Or is he that stupid? The ATM is gushing out with cash!!! Rinne grabs the bottle but it is fake. Masato shows him the shopping arcade in hell. There is also the branch of the repair shop where he sent his scythe. Because Rinne has no money, he cannot claim it so Masato buys it on his behalf and tries to kill him with his own scythe. Rinne thought he could work part time fast to earn fast cash but since he is dealing with a typical government, he isn’t going to get paid soon.

Sakura and Rokumon fly down to throw him all the money from Masato’s savings. But Masato isn’t alarmed. This is yet another trap because that account is filled with fake money and the moment they use it in a shop, they’ll be jailed. However Rinne uses the bills as part of his tornado technique to slam Masato down. The guards want to know who forge the bills and this is severely punishable. Surprisingly, Rinne stops Rokumon from revealing the culprit and instead says he doesn’t know. Although he admits he did damage some property, he claims his ‘friend’ here will pay for him. Why would he go so far as to defend Masato because had he revealed the perpetrator he could be exempted from paying the admission and all the repair fees. Instantly Masato would gladly pay for Rinne’s part. After retrieving Reiji and making their way out, that guy is still gloomy. Sakura tells him to look at his left hand. He sees the ring and remembers. Soon, he wakes up in hospital and Suzu and Tomoya couldn’t be happier (the latter because he wants him to pay back the money he lent for the rings!). With the case solved, Rinne is impressed with Sakura and says she could be a first rate shinigami with training. Not interested but instead she reminds him the money he owes her. He quickly changes the subject back to shinigami training…

Episode 9
It is the cultural festival at Sakura’s school. While taking out the trash, a blonde wig flies out and back to the drama club where it continues to fly around and annoy the members. As the gang finds out, the drama club found some old props in the storage and wanted to get rid of it and that’s when this wig started harassing them. No matter how they get rid of it, it comes back. Rinne deduces this wig is some sort of tsukumogami, an object old enough that a spirit inhabits it. Talking to it, they find out it was cut out from some play and the only way it is ever going to find peace is to be reinstated in that play. However the drama club has been playing so many plays, it is like a middle in a haystack. The wig doesn’t remember its role except that one of the props was glass slippers. Isn’t that Cinderella? However no girls would want to wear this creepy wig. Then it hints to Sakura. She has no qualms wearing it but warns she can’t act. As they rehearse, when certain lines take place, it isn’t happy and starts kicking. When they go through the script, they find a line cut out. Seems like the Cinderella play didn’t want a horse then and cut it out from production. So this wig is actually a horse’s tail? Case solved. When Rinne returns to his home, he sees a ghost pumpkin seeking his help. Back in the maid café classroom, Sakura’s friends point out to her that their friend Mari is talking to herself. But Sakura sees her talking to a handsome guy. Could it be a ghost? Tsubasa senses and evil spirit and smokes the entire place. Although the spirit is gone, it left a note for Mari to meet at the rooftop. He is trying to lure her to jump but luckily Rinne smashes the pumpkin into her face. Rinne is not pleased this Damashigami is using a dirty trick to lure those to their untimely deaths.

When Mari comes to, she has no memories of trying to jump off. She says that guy is Kimura, a senior from her middle school whom every girl admires. She tried to confess but he already graduated by then. That’s why she felt so happy when he came to see her today. Rinne breaks the bad news that Kimura died a year ago. This pumpkin is him. Apparently some pumpkin guy approached him and switched his face before he went to heaven. Now he is running rampage as all those admirer girls are swooning over him. He tricks them to vanish into his castle by luring them with their love letters. Mari cannot resist and also follows the fan girls. Rinne believes he will come back because he has laid out a trap. What trap? Next thing we know, Rinne dresses up as a maid! True enough that greedy fake comes back. I wonder how Rinne wrote that love letter amidst the chaos so fast. The fake mistakes Sakura as the admirer and takes her away. Rinne struggles with him and they get transported to his castle. Inside the room, they see all the fan girls being smitten by Kimura clones. It is the Damashigami’s plan to gather all the victims and send them to the afterlife all at once. Rinne uses some magic wand to turn the clones into dolls and switch Kimura’s face back. But now all the girls are fixated with the real Kimura. While Rinne fights pumpkin dude, the latter is disappointed to find out Rinne is a guy. He really believed he was a girl?! But there is a problem. Because the girls are willing to die to be with Kimura, they can’t leave this place till their obsession with Kimura is overcome. This is when Kimura reveals that he likes older woman! MILF lover! Oh, the heartbreak… The disappointment! So disappointing that pumpkin dude just ‘died’ and that is how everyone is freed and returned to their world. In the aftermath of the festival, Rinne wins the drag queen contest and receives supplies of instant noodles. Not bad, eh? All thanks to the maid outfit! All hail the maid outfit!

Episode 10
Rokumon tells Rinne they can earn some money if they catch Damashigamis. However Rokumon has flu and it spreads to Rinne. A doctor and nurse come to check on Rinne as sent by a relative. However it is soon discovered that they are Damashigamis in disguise targeting him. Rinne easily defeats them but before they could talk, something shut them up. After Rokumon goes to get the reward, he tries to cash it out but finds the account not only zero balance but negative balance! Then pops up Rinne’s twin brother, Sabato. Wait a minute. You mean this young looking dude is his FATHER???!!! It seems Sabato is the one responsible for the ‘vanishing money’. Because Rinne is the guarantor, whatever loan Sabato fails to pay will fall back on the guarantor. So Rinne is working to pay back this loan and not Tamako’s? Sabato claims he perpetrated the Damashigami attack for his sake. Outside, Sabato’s underlings are trying to reap the souls of all the guys in the school but were quickly stopped in their tracks. Sabato wants Rinne to return with him and become a Damashigami. He is sure his son will come. His mother wished for it too. For the record, Sabato is the boss of his own company, Damashigami Company LLC. Now that Sakura and Tsubasa heard this, I guess there is no point in hiding this embarrassing story. Rinne thought he could go back and rest but Sabato took his tatami! Why that evil father! And so Rinne chases after him (see, what did Sabato said about him coming to him) but it is just bait as he gets absorbed into the tatami. Flashback shows 10 years ago when Rinne was still living with his grandparents, Tamako had just successfully cleared her loan. Sometimes Sabato would come home to steal Rinne’s piggy bank, cooking up lies he is saving to go see his mom. Gee, Rinne clearly remembered he told him she died.

Sabato takes Rinne to a hall where a bevy of beauties are excitedly waiting for them. What is this? They are all part of a competition to see who gets to become Rinne’s mom? And it feels like an audition because there are going to be several rounds… Interestingly, they are all Sabato’s girlfriend and they love him not because of some spell. Well, he does provide them luxurious items. So that’s where the money went. That’s where the debt came from. So I suppose this guy loves them all so much that he can’t choose which and decided to hold this tournament, eh? Son is not amused. But Sabato captures his friends and threatens if he doesn’t get engaged and take over his company (which is of course filled with debts), he will send his friends for reincarnation. Too bad Rinne didn’t stay long to hear him rant as he is already starting to look for them. Although Sakura and Tsubasa are separated, they easily escape their cage since it’s unlock. Sabato isn’t fazed because getting out of it means food for the Damashigamis. But he didn’t count of them being such weak asses. Rinne has a hard time trying to fend off all the girls trying to get a hold of him. Tsubasa is displeased that he is frolicking around with other girls (does he look like it?) but still saves his ass. He wonders what Sakura sees in him. A shady fortune teller wants to sell him a charm that will increase his love chance. Tsubasa knows it is a scam but eventually succumbs to it. Sakura is about to get owned by a couple of Damashigamis but Tsubasa saves her. This has him to believe the special love charm he bought for 5,000 Yen worked. Yeah, he just got ripped off. They arrive in the banquet hall where the ceremony is to take place. It seems this isn’t only the induction of the new president but an engagement announcement too.

Episode 11
Sabato thinks he can fool everyone with a puppet of Rinne saying he agrees to get married. But here comes the real Rinne to dismiss all that. Why would he not want to marry a pretty girl? Unless… There is someone he likes! Is it a human girl? With Rinne trying to change the subject, everybody knows he is a big failure in trying to hide this. Rinne is here to take down his company and not inherit it. I’m sure all those memories of how daddy swiped his money with lame excuses that he’ll hold on to it or get better stuffs for him is making his blood boil. Thus Sabato accepts his challenge but of course if Rinne loses, he’ll have to inherit the company. Sabato has a trick up his sleeve. With his blood sucking fire wheel, anything it touches will turn the objects into money! I don’t know what the idea is when Tsubasa buys all the cutlery for Rinne to throw as it only turns it all into money and Sabato could be laughing all the way to the bank. Even if everything he converts is company’s property. A mysterious seal returns Rokumon to Sakura as well as a map to Sabato’s office. When a supplier is here to collect payment, Rinne uses his tornado technique to direct all of Sabato’s earned cash to the supplier and paid off all the bills! Sabato is defeated but is confident Rinne can never escape from him for he has a forged seal in Rinne’s name and with that he can use it to access his account and use all his money. Speaking of that, Sakura and Rokumon are in Sabato’s office and find a safe. It’s a really easy to remember password (based on Sabato’s name). Inside contains all the stuffs that Sabato converted to cash with his fire wheel.

When the safe security alarm goes off, everyone rushes to there to stop Sakura but Tsubasa and Rokumon get in their way. Sabato won’t let Rinne got to Sakura’s aid and instead will take drastic measures. He is trying to force Rinne to put his thumbprint on his loan debt! Luckily Sakura returns with his scythe, earning the ire of the other girls who think she is trying to get ahead of them in Rinne’s hand in marriage. Sabato can’t use his fire wheel because the seal is juggling with it. Suddenly marriage registration forms scatter. Sabato shoots paint all over Rinne and uses banana peels to make him slip. Aha! Now he’s got his hand mark on the form. Sabato is about to declare Rinne’s bride when he realizes this is actually a loan form guised as a marriage registration form. It was his own doing. All the girls are upset that Sabato duped them. They want to settle this themselves when Sabato surprisingly admits defeat and wants Rinne to smack him in the face. The rest knows it is a trap because it is his scheme to get his handprint. Luckily Rinne punches him. The seal reveals to be Tamako who puts her foot down on Sabato’s farce. The other girls wonder who this old grandma is. Wrong word! Please respect the president’s mom! Hope they learn their lesson. Tamako then announces Rinne is dating Sakura! Rinne know this is a lie to get them out and end this situation but is Sakura okay with this? Well, she doesn’t seem bothered since it’s just a lie, right? Tsubasa must be damn relieved. Sabato wants to shake hands to make up. Why is he wearing gloves? He doesn’t learn, doesn’t he? Rinne and co return not only with a new tatami, but also his account book, forged seal and some cash to pay off the debts. Though, Tamako said he couldn’t get him out as the guarantor. Maybe Rinne is cured from his influenza illness. But I can make a good guess from another kind of ‘illness’ he is suffering since he continues to be bothered if Sakura was bothered by that turn of events.

Episode 12
When Ageha was young, she admired her sister who was a great shinigami. One day she left to defeat the Damashigami boss and never returned. Rika is happy she scored 100% in her test thanks to this pencil. Hmm… Doesn’t it look creepy? Rumours have it that the pencil is only sold by some shady salesman and those who use it and get 100% in their test will go missing subsequently. Rika brushes off the rumour and makes her way. To where? Rinne spots Rika and the rest of the other students with the pencil entering a portal. Rinne follows them in hopes of catching the Damashigami behind this. However he is attacked by Ageha who mistakes him for the Damashigami. When the shady salesman pops up, she realizes her mistake. They go after him to his shady warehouse. Rinne gets motivated to take down the warehouse because there’s bounty. In the end, all of them are rounded up and the victims are freed. Ageha is impressed with Rinne and the way he thinks especially he was thinking about the victims unlike her who was only obsessed in taking down the Damashigami. She tells him he can keep the bounty as there is a reason she is chasing down Damashigamis. Too bad he isn’t here to listen to her entire story. Sakura is relieved Rika has thrown away the creepy pencil but notices a camera staring at her. Rokumon and Rinne joke about Ageha willing to give them all the bounty and she might come back after changing her mind. You don’t say… Here she comes! Instantly Rinne hides the money and kicks her out! Don’t worry. She still doesn’t want your money.

She tells him about her family background. Her family was once an elite shinigami doing their responsibilities well. But over a year ago, her sister vanished. Then recently she got a postcard from her sister. Seems she is having the time of her life with her new boyfriend! Hey wait! Isn’t that Sabato?! OMG! Good thing or not, she cannot see the resemblance between father and son. Suddenly a Damashigami pops up to pass Rinne an invoice. It is for the emotional damages he suffered thanks to the flu he passed. He quickly tears up the invoice and will help Ageha in her quest. She is so happy that she holds his hands. Sakura walks in and sees this. Oops. Ageha runs away in embarrassment and I supposed when you’re in love, her memories start to get a little off. Her mind portrays Rinne as a cool guy. Rinne explains the misunderstanding to Sakura that Ageha isn’t her friend and just met her the first time today. They catch the camera spying on them before it self destructs. They figure somebody is spying on Sakura from the afterlife. But who? The culprit is no other than Sabato. His secretary is Ageha’s sister, Bijin. She wonders why Sabato is fixated on this. He believes Rinne is attached to the mortal realm is because of this human girl. He needs to do something about this. Sakura walks home and her mind is bothered by that holding hand incident. It’s really bugging her. Before she knows it, she is surrounded by lots of ghosts. Meanwhile Rinne is also bothered by Sakura sawing them hold hands. I guess his worrisome means his memories are off too because what the heck is that staring competition between Sakura and Ageha?! He senses a portal opening and that Sakura may have gone into it. Time to go after her. Ageha returns to Rinne’s place but he is not around. She sees the portal and also heads in.

Episode 13
The ghosts are bugging Sakura to help them rest in peace. She tries to ignore them and wandered into the portal. She senses something amiss when they tell her to deposit a large sum of money for them to pass on. Noticing a zipper, she unzips them to reveal their Damashigami identity. Now it has come to this, they’re going to take her to the afterlife. Luckily Rinne saves the day. Bijin pops up and is impressed with Sakura for she had watched her all day (revealing herself as the peeper). She gives Rinne an engagement ring to give to Sakura because if they’re married, they can inherit the company. She also gives them an invoice for the ring! However Sakura says she can’t accept it as they are only classmates. Still bothered about that hand holding incident? I wonder how Rinne is holding up after hearing this. Not good. Ageha pops up to fight Bijin. The latter’s mask cracks and Ageha is shocked to see her sister. It gets complicated when Sabato is here too. Bijin explains she fell in love with Sabato on her own will and not by some trap or something. She became her secretary to be close to him. Sabato takes the engagement ring and thinks of giving it to Bijin. I mean, they’re going pretty steady, right? After all, the ring is paid for by his son. More complication when Ageha realizes Rinne and Sabato are related. She is mad for being deceived. Sabato escapes so the rest give chase. Ageha wants to know where Damashigami Company is but Rinne isn’t sure. Weren’t they there the last time? They were brought there. And since Sabato changes the route every day, getting there is tough. Like how Ageha fell into a pit trap after following the fake signs.

She is trapped in a spider web but a fellow undercover shinigami saves her and needs her help. Just sign on this contract. She is about to when Rinne saves her from being conned by this Damashigami. She almost got herself swamped with debts. Rinne painfully watches how Ageha casually dishes out large sums of cash to Damashigamis outright swindling her. He can’t believe she is this sheltered and naïve. Not sure if she’s being tsundere because she still won’t thank him after countless savings. Meanwhile Sakura also has her fair share of Damashigamis trying to con her. Especially Rinne clones! They’re trying to give her their engagement ring! Of course she refuses them all. Then the real Rinne cuts them up and claims to have gotten their engagement ring back. However he slips before he could put it on her finger and Sakura unveils him to be yet another Damashigami. Rinne returns to help Ageha defeat a monster (because it had a million yen bounty on its head). He continues reminding her that he also hates Damashigami. That is when she starts hugging him because she felt so scared! And then Sakura sees this. Oh no. Not again… Rokumon collects the bounty and Sakura has never been this eager to leave for home. By the way, Ageha is still clinging onto him. Rinne cannot sleep that night thanks the incessant worrying of that misunderstanding. Ageha too can’t sleep but for a totally opposite reason. Sakura on the contrary is soundly sleeping. But she seems to be sleep talking how naggy everyone is.

Episode 14
Sakura spots a ghost girl at the pool. She cannot hear what she says but it seems she is trying hard to communicate. Instead of always relying on Rinne (I think it is still getting to her), since Tsubasa offers himself, she tells him about this. Almost every photo taken has this ghost girl in it and a weird signature. So I guess this is an excuse for Tsubasa to go to the pool with her. Like a date, huh? Meanwhile Rinne is hearing out a couple. A boyfriend is in some spaced out state ever since coming back from the pool. With some information from Ageha and to meet at the pool’s haunted house attraction, I guess he is going too. Tsubasa must be happy to be alive to see Sakura in her swimsuit. They see the ghost girl, Rina Mizuki and try to talk to her. Seems she is some sort of idol trying to make her debut. Tsubasa misinterprets her to be a bounded ghost and fires his holy ash. This only scares away the customers and upsets Rina as she flees. I guess this proves she isn’t a bounded ghost. Meanwhile Rinne thought Ageha is here to play since she is all dressed up. She explains the haunted house has ties with Damashigami who are targeting couples. The only way to find out is to enter as a couple. I can think of another good reason why she is doing this. Rinne has to accompany her since she is loaded with cash. Sakura spots them… Tsubasa and Sakura’s investigation also takes them to the haunted house. Tsubasa thinks he can protect Sakura but he forgot Sakura can see ghosts and isn’t afraid of them. Seems there are real ghosts in here too so they try to go after it. Tsubasa is so happy he got to hold Sakura’s hands that his spirit almost came out from his body! Luckily hiding Rinne threw his sandal to knock him out. Actually he isn’t so pleased to see them ‘dating’.

Ageha steals Rinne and in the well she is trying to seduce him! Is she getting desperate now? She has information that whenever a girl gets close to a guy, after he blushes, his soul will get fished out. It means whenever the guy gets dirty thoughts, his soul is pulled out. Using this reason to catch the Damashigami, she wants Rinne to do perverted stuffs to her! Unfortunately… That’s right. Sakura heard the commotion in the well and takes a peek. Oh… Sorry to interrupt. Rinne goes after her and tries to clear things up but she ignores him. Ageha feels upset for being abandoned and unleashes her graveyard maze. Great. Now everybody is lost. Rinne explains about the fishing spirits thing and several of those ghost guys confirm it. Ageha is trying to find Rinne and stumbles several Damashigamis trying to fish souls and knocks them out. Sakura wonders what happened to Rina. She is at the stage trying to get everyone’s attention. Obviously they can’t see her and she gets mad they’re trying to ignore her. In her rage, she causes a power outage. Just when our gang reunites, the power goes out. Tsubasa and Ageha mistakenly hug each other thinking the other is Sakura and Rinne respectively. Their soul gets fished out. Rinne and Sakura discover a lonely ghost guy is the one responsible for this. He explains his story of wanting to come here with a girl once but died before he could do that. That regret has him ended up here. He gets jealous seeing couples close together. The Damashigamis? He thought they were interested in fishing and joined him. Rina is about to go berserk so what did Rinne do to calm her down? Ask for her autograph! Yeah. All she wanted was just to get noticed. Lining up all the other (temporary) ghost guys to shake hands with her, she is filled with happiness but why isn’t she passing on? She has bigger ambitions of appearing in shows, making albums and her debut in Hollywood! When the lonely ghost guy talks to her for one last time since she will be out of his league once she becomes a mega star, she realizes she is his type and suddenly retires. Now she passes on. Happily ever after? Not for our friends. Sakura cannot get that well incident out of her mind, Rinne regrets not clearing up the misunderstanding with her and Tsubasa and Ageha continue to be deluded. Hmm… At least somebody is happy.

Episode 15
Ageha wonders if she is in love. You mean she wasn’t sure?! She thought it was some sort of misattribution of arousal. To test it out, she goes to hug Rinne again. Sakura is looking… For the umpteenth time… You can tell that Sakura is being a typical mad woman. She totally ignores Rinne! Even if he is right before his eyes. Ageha thought a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and gives him her bento. Along the way, Tsubasa mistakes her for a spirit and attacks. She almost gets the wrong idea Tsubasa is gay when he declares he is Rinne’s love rival! After learning Tsubasa likes Sakura whom he feels pities Rinne because of his poorness, they both decide to cooperate. Rinne is forced to take Ageha’s bento since he is poor but the need to clear up the misunderstanding with Sakura remains strong. The silent treatment continues… Rokumon brings Ageha’s lunch and everyone is amazed at the extravagance. Rinne explains it is just for thanks but the way she draws a heart shape there? It’s got to be more than that. Sakura notices an evil aura permeating from it. Ageha gets a call from her grandma about the bento she used. Although it grants any wish, it is done so via a sealed evil spirit in it. In exchange for the wish, the ones receiving the bento will have their soul consumed by the evil spirit. Better get there fast. The classmates are somehow teleported outside the class (there’s a barrier barring their entry) and Rinne thought this is his chance to clear things up with them alone. Don’t look now but there is a giant wiener behind!

The wiener is bugging Rinne for his second wish (because his first was to talk with Sakura alone and thus the teleportation) so he wastes his next wish telling it to shut up. Rinne finally gets his message across. So? Now he is lost what to say next. Was he just imagining that she was mad? The wiener now bugs him for his third wish. However Rinne realizes that if such wish can come true, this could only mean that this is an evil spirit! The busted wiener attacks but is luckily defeated by Ageha. Rokumon bought a spray that dispelled the barrier. After all those crazy conspiracy theories Ageha and Tsubasa came up about them, I hope they’re relieved to see nothing happened. I think. Ageha then throws down the ultimatum to Sakura to stay away from Rinne. Why? Ageha is shocked at her nonchalant response. Seeing how calm she is, she thinks they are already dating and could it be she is just a third wheel? In her embarrassment she flees. Seems the wiener has divided itself and Tsubasa who knows better, is tempted about his wish to do anything with Sakura. Luckily Ageha snaps him out and needs his help to purify the remaining evil before it grows. Tsubasa wants to get Rinne’s help since there are too many but Rinne disagrees. She’ll ask him instead. The mini wieners are trying to grant others wishes but thankfully all ignore except for this broken hearted girl who found out her crush already had a girlfriend. She could have fallen into the trap if not for Ageha. Ageha learns a valuable lesson from her that falling in love isn’t something to be ashamed of. Meanwhile Rinne and Sakura finally get their much needed time to talk and reconcile. He still needs her help. So could she please lend him 500 Yen? Of course. And when things are seemingly going well, it goes downhill when Ageha comes swooping down, holding his hand and pleading he needs his help to hunt down evil spirits and she’ll pay him! Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s just a side job, right? Right?! The ignoring has made its return…

Episode 16
Sakura remembers the Haunted Cedar tree in her elementary school. Despite its name, she always felt warmth from it. Tsubasa asks Sakura to accompany to dig up a power stone he planted at the base of Haunted Cedar. Due to nostalgic reasons, she would love to come. Her friends are ‘disappointed’ Tsubasa isn’t asking her out on a date but I guess he doesn’t dislike the sound of that too. Then they seek Rinne’s opinion that Tsubasa has ‘asked out’ Sakura. It’s none of his business. Oh really? But the haunted tree did spark some interest so he might come. Ah… Tsubasa is so excited that he waited in front of the elementary school gate since early morning. I hope he can contain his excitement. But luckily we know how Sakura always is, right? They are shocked to see deep hideous scars on the tree. The groundskeeper warns them not to get close to it as something bad always happens. There had been talks to cut it down but those assigned to cut it down were met with some accident. Ever since, everybody has become afraid of the tree. Sakura could also feel something strange. The tree is not as warm as it used to and cold. Tsubasa blocks an attack targeted at Sakura. Turns out an evil young boy spirit with giant razor yoyo is the one behind this. Sakura recognizes him as Youta, her classmate who supposedly died in an accident. He is shocked that she recognizes him but vows to continue attacking her. This time Rinne blocks the shot. So he came, huh? Just taking a stroll and coincidentally wandering into the place doesn’t sound convincing. Tsubasa notices his power stone is embedded on his yoyo and has been corrupted. Youta blames it is all Sakura’s fault.

Flashback reveals Youta is very adept in his yoyo. However he has a bad habit of mocking those who sucked and also used his yoyo tricks to flip up girls’ skirt. The only girl he couldn’t flip was Sakura. She was as good as him as she countered every yoyo move with hers. In the process, Youta always hit his own head with his own yoyo. Wait. Don’t tell me. He isn’t going to pass over till he flips up her skirt, is he? Rinne uses a special incense to choke him. He heard another voice and believes Youta has been possessed by an evil spirit. True enough, the true evil spirit detaches. However, it is still invincible as long as it has Tsubasa’s power stone. Rinne and Rokumon coerce Tsubasa into buying a launchable incense at a marked up price so that the evil spirit could cough out the power stone and Rinne purify it for good. It is concluded the evil spirit got attracted to the power spot and took advantage of its power. Youta wasn’t exactly stuck here and being manipulated ever since. Because now with the evil spirit gone, he is still reluctant to leave the tree. Noticing he has been staring at the same spot ever since (after his death, Sakura noticed his ghost kept staring there but when she approached, he disappeared), could it be the spot where Tsubasa planted the power stone? Actually it is the spot opposite. It is Sakura’s lost yoyo. He thought of burying it here for a while as a prank to get even with her as he could never best her. Now he wonders if Sakura is still mad at her. Sakura assures she isn’t anymore and will return this yoyo to her. Youta is happy and passes on.

Episode 17
Tsubasa is cursing Rinne. Last week’s Haunted Cedar trip was supposed to be a memory-filled trip with Sakura but that guy had to cut in. Worse, he ate with them (sitting between them too) and Tsubasa paid the bill! He also needs to do something about his power stone as it could feel it is getting more corrupted. Masato pops up before him but Tsubasa’s holy ash can’t exorcise a high level demon. Masato mentions he hates Rinne as much as him and gives him a Demon’s Tome. All he needs to do is put his hands on it and curse the person he wants. Tsubasa has not sunk this low to do that and declines this ‘gift’. Later Sakura gives Tsubasa some cookies. Her mom made them but he was so happy he thought it was she who made it. Then he saw a bag of cookies to give out. Rinne is one of them. Oh, speak of the devil. Here he comes and after hard deliberation (crying tears of blood), he wants to give Sakura an expensive canned peach. When Sakura returns Demon’s Tome to Tsubasa (Suzuki saw him throwing it away and thought of giving it back to him), suddenly lightning almost strikes Rinne but the can is destroyed. Tsubasa is shocked that the curse works and runs away. Back in Rinne’s room, he is delighted that Sakura gives him the entire bag of cookies when suddenly crows start eating them. Once more, Tsubasa is shocked that the tome returned to him and that the curse once again had worked. Is he going crazy? Well, the power stone is getting even more corrupted. As Masato notes, no matter how he tries to get rid of the tome, it will find its way back to him.

Rinne finds a locket charm in the thermometer shelter. It is supposed to deflect any curses. Of course it was put there by Tsubasa who thinks he has gone soft on Rinne. But when he sees Sakura and Rinne coming together (and Sakura having the locket instead), he starts getting jealous. He starts cursing and it only rains around Rinne! His food is ruined… Sakura requests Tsubasa’s help to find the culprit and this of course puts him in a spot. She’ll hate him if she finds out. He starts thinking when that happens, it is all Rinne’s fault! Another curse! A washbasin falls on his head. Tsubasa rushes to the temple to burn the tome. Masato watches as he notes the more curses he does, the more corrupted his power stone will taint his soul. It will be killing 2 birds with 1 stone because with Rinne defeated, he will then pull Tsubasa’s soul to hell. Rinne finds out Masato is behind this and fights him. Tsubasa makes a contraption to summon Masato when Sakura is here to return the tome. Oh no. With Masato and Rinne summoned, Tsubasa accidentally curses and the contraption falls on Rinne. Masato commends him for a good job and one more curse is all it takes to eliminate Rinne. Now that the cat is out of the bag of who is cursing Rinne, will Sakura hate him? However she still believes that Tsubasa isn’t that kind of evil person. Such a sweet girl. Tsubasa is in a dilemma. He is in a position where he’ll be damned if he curses and damned if he doesn’t. Especially with Sakura concerned about Rinne. He can’t forgive himself for being weak and curses himself. By dropping tofu? His power stone is half purified. As he is going to curse Masato, he dares him to do so because cursing others will only taint himself. That is when Rinne takes the locket and throws it at Masato, thus causing damage to Tsubasa. With his power stone completely purified, he summons its sprites (Humpty Dumpties?!) to send Masato back to hell. Tsubasa allows Rinne to punch him for the curse but is surprised he congratulates him for eradicating Masato. I think he can’t seek vengeance on an empty stomach. Get the hint? Yeah. Tsubasa has to treat him to food again. And he’s sitting in between again. Hey… The power stone is getting a little corrupted…

Episode 18
Ageha stops another Damashigami. However she is interrupted by Kain the Shirushigami who blames her for foiling his plans. He wanted the Damashigami to lead him back to its HQ and Ageha had to ruin it. Then he badmouths her for being a stupid shinigami especially having a sister who defected to that company. Of course Ageha is broken hearted but does she have to come sobbing to Rinne right in the middle of class? Remember, other mortals can’t see her. So they have to hear her out. Shirushigami is a bookkeeper who keeps records of lifespan of others. Kain suddenly attacks Rinne and reads out his debts so large that he couldn’t pay back in his lifetime. So what? What does this have to do with his job? Kain tries to kill Rinne and claims Rinne owes him a lot. He is here to collect the debt. Time for a little flashback. Kain was raised singlehandedly by his divorced mother. One day she took him to meet their new father who is no other than Sabato. You can tell she got conned right away. When Rinne popped up to stop his father, Sabato vanished and left behind junks and loan collaterals. Kain has been so poor that he had to give up going to high school and went to a census bureau. Blaming Rinne for it all, he is going to enforce the contract by force since there is a loan collateral in which Rinne is the guarantor. After Kain breaks his scythe, he takes his life force and robe that could fetch a good price. He gives the rest a chance to reclaim back Rinne’s soul. They must find Damashigami Company’s HQ by tomorrow 10am because that is when he will sell Rinne’s life and it will be over once that happens. Sakura feels the need to do something when Rinne’s spirit returns (he got plucked out when his life force was taken). He doesn’t want them to get involved as he goes in search of Kain but you know, they can’t just sit back and let him do all the work.

They are outside the census bureau where Kain works but the guards stop them. They have to flee seeing they sense living humans among them and want them captured to be returned to the mortal world. Kain realizes that if they are here, it means they don’t know where Damashigami Company is. As the gang hides, they are picked up by Kain’s mom. She brings them back to her huge mansion though it is still without electricity. She even orders lavish sushi and puts it on her tab. Since it is a bit dark, she uses Rinne’s life force as lighting! Rinne only gets back his robe. With Kain back, the friends learn she is the one who was conned by Sabato. Mom doesn’t think Sabato is a bad person as he sends her love letters every month. They are all asking for money anyway. So she still doesn’t realize she is being conned? Kain doesn’t want her mom to know about this. After Sabato fled, he discovered that Damashigami Company was formed and it means he used mother’s money as capital to form the company. Imagine how sad she’ll be when she finds out. Of course there is a loan agreement with Rinne’s fake seal. After Kain puts the rest to sleep and locking them in the shed, Sakura’s advice of not taking Rinne’s life out of revenge fell on deaf ears. Kain is going to force Rinne into reincarnation.

Episode 19
When they wake up, they see a box with a message instructing for Rinne to read aloud. Ageha tries to break it but a barrier zaps her. Rokumon says to bring it to Rinne as only he can open it. There is a hidden message on it that only he can read as this is to safeguard packages. Ageha blasts the shed as they try to deliver the box to Rinne who is in the midst of fighting Kain. Rinne recognizes the box as a gift from Tamako although he never got to open it because dad stole it. After reading the hidden words aloud, out comes a hoop. Kain steals his robe and this causes him to be attracted into the reincarnation circle. Sakura stretches out to give him the hoop. Did she make it because they both have disappeared. Kain knows he will be punished for letting a human girl get absorbed but he’s not panicking yet. That hoop is the Hoop of Judgment and a tool that brings its bearer to the criminal of their wish. This means they might be at Damashigami Company. However they are back in Kain’s house. And look what Kain’s mom brought in? Sabato! He is here to ask for money and wants to sell this life force. When Bijin comes looking for Sabato, Kain’s mom wonder who this girl is. Sabato of course lies she is his long lost sister and just got reunited. That’s why he needs the money. It doesn’t help when Bijin plays along. Rinne tries to take back his life force. Kain intercepts but the hoop protects Rinne. Sabato steals the life force instead and runs. But he cannot run far as Kain is before him. He tells him that life force is fake. Since the real one is collateral, he has prepared this just in case. Wondering where he could have hid the real one, Sakura thinks it is in the shed. But they find lots of life forces. One way to test it out. Tsubasa plays baseball with it and the real one will be absorbed into him. None. All fakes. Mom orders the finest unagi for their time out. As Rinne feels cold since his real body in the real world is being neglected, Kain’s mom shows him the fireplace. Being lit by a life force? He senses this is his real one and absorbs it. Sabato and Bijin escape but they return shortly to steal all the stuffs. Kain and Rinne anticipated this and corner them. Rinne’s hoop binds them. Although they still manage to escape, the goods are left behind. Sakura hopes Kain would stop targeting Rinne as he is also a victim of Sabato. But as much as Kain wants to torment Rinne, he can’t because his hoop is protecting him. But as long as he is Sabato’s son, Kain will continue to view him equally as guilty. Mom cools things off by ordering melon. Can you guess why she is always poor now? But the hoop cannot take them to Damashigami Company as Sabato has put a security lock on it.

Episode 20
Sakura notices that lots of spirits are passing through her house. Rinne is surprised to hear her bothered by it although they’re pretty harmless. He agrees to come to her house and take a look for a solution. You can tell how happy he is to visit her house the first time by the way he skips so gaily. Of course Tsubasa and Ageha sense something amiss and with Rinne skipping some shinigami workshop, they tail him. Sakura is surprised to see the entire gang at her doorstep. My, Tsubasa is dressed in his tuxedo and a bouquet of roses for her. What can Rinne offer? A can of mixed fruits? Since Sakura politely declines, he takes it back. The guys aren’t happy when they hear Rokumon has been here many times. Is it because he is a cat? Tsubasa wonders why Sakura didn’t consult him as he could have taken care of this easily. His dusty holy ash, that’s why. Ageha thinks her watchdog collar would do the trick. Although the ghost dog scares off everyone, it is untrained and chases Ageha around. Could it be just a trick so she can get close to Rinne? Sakura is about to lose hope in solving this. After all, they’re just harmless passing spirits. But this won’t do for Rinne. He vows to come up with a solution but needs to get rid of Tsubasa and Ageha first. Meanwhile Tamako is holding the shinigami workshop on its tools. She wonders why Rinne isn’t here as he never missed it since it gives out free samples.

So now Rinne uses all those past samples while Sakura is out in an attempt to get rid of the ‘pests’. Each time they come back, he uses more of those samples. The samples were discontinued because of some defect and putting it on them feels like he is being a bully. Finally he places a sticker barrier to stop them from entering. FYI, this product is real and on the market. Rinne asks Sakura if there is something she has thrown away or moved because the spirits never appeared up till yesterday. When she sees his samples, she remembers after meeting Tamako and leaving the border, she met a shinigami who gave her a free sample. She takes out that mini hourglass she has been keeping in her closet. To her surprise, it used to have shiny sand but now it is all black. Rinne now knows the root of the problem. That hourglass is an exorcism tool. Since it expired 2 days ago, that is why the spirits passed through her house. He has new sand that will make it as new again. Ageha and Tsubasa barge in (Sakura’s mom let them in and accidentally ripped the barrier after they simply ring the doorbell). In the process, the hourglass is broken. Don’t worry. Rinne goes to see Tamako to get a replacement. Unfortunately she says there are no more samples. It is not because it has been discontinued but rather it is now selling on the market. That will be 20,000 Yen please. Before taxes. The debt has just gotten higher. Rinne hands over the new hourglass to Sakura and since she is so happy and grateful, he cannot bear ask her for compensation. Just bear with it. Here’s a canned fruit for self reward then.

Episode 21
Kain returns with the bonus for the census. But upon opening the briefcase, there is an expanding balloon as it pops into party crackers. Word of the missing case goes around. Say, how come Rinne has that same case? When they open it… Loads of cash!!! OMG! Rinne ‘died’!!! He has never seen so much cash before! So did Rinne steal it? Maybe it is part of Kain’s plan to set him up. Before they can discuss what to do with the money, angry came barges in and suspects him of stealing the money. Well, at least we know this wasn’t part of his plan. To make things worse, Rinne runs off with the case! Rinne bumps into Masato whom he believes is the culprit. Not quite. You see, Masato went to buy a suitcase of party crackers. When he exited the shop, some Pegasus carrying lots of similar cases crashed into him. He was out for a good 5 minutes and when he came too, the mess was cleaned up and he didn’t suspect anything since his case was still there. His plan was to put the case in Rinne’s room and when he opened it, he’ll be surprised. But somebody switched it. When Kain comes hunting Rinne, Masato handcuffs Rinne to the case. He will enjoy seeing him suffer for a crime he didn’t commit. But Rinne won’t go down alone. When Kain comes breathing down his neck, he drags Masato with him and makes him sound like he is the accomplice. Masato wants to spend all the money since they’re accused of being guilty. Rinne knows better not to listen to him. Instead, he will prove Masato is innocent. Outside the firecracker store, the owner testifies that after Masato collected the goods, he didn’t pay. He even set off a firecracker prank that burnt down the shop! Masato acts dumb and wants to pay him off with the stolen money but Rinne won’t allow it.

Meanwhile the friends hear from Kain’s side of the story. After he collected the bonus, a trader and his Pegasus were passing by selling the similar suitcase. Suddenly the Pegasus goes berserk and it crashed into him, knocking him out for almost 3 minutes. He believes Rinne planned this in advance to set him up. Rinne returns to object to that theory and that Kain is the culprit. Everybody starts fighting everybody so the firecracker store owner gives Sakura a big net to ring everyone in. Once calmed down, Rinne begins his explanation. As the bonus case had the mark of ‘M’. It seems Masato’s case also had the similar initial. After the store was set on fire, a little piece of firework got onto the Pegasus’ skin. Of course it went berserk. First it bumped into Kain followed by Masato. In the process of the helter-skelter, the cases jumbled up. When Kain woke up, he picked the first ‘M’ case he saw, not knowing there is another similar one. The trader picked up the other cases and left the other initialled case next to Masato. Now that it is known it is Kain’s fault, Ageha wants him to apologize. Kain’s pride won’t allow him to do so and Masato is supporting him. Masato then steals the case and is going to burn all the money. Luckily Rinne has put a sticker seal on the case that turns it into some biting dog. In the end, Rinne doesn’t want an apology from Kain since it doesn’t sound like him. Instead, he takes a bill from the bonus as compensation for the sticker. Kain calls it even. But if the stickers cost only 10 Yen each, how come Rinne took a 10,000 Yen bill? For his troubles? Really?

Episode 22
Christmas. The day to steal your lover’s heart. So Ageha thinks. She goes on a buying spree and gets duped by a shady salesman to buy some Friendly Square contraption that is said to further a relationship between a man and woman. On her way back, she passes by a house with a dark aura. Rinne who is fresh from buying a little Christmas cake, spots a letter crying for help from a nearby house. As he enters, he thought Ageha was fooling around. Then he realizes he cannot leave. A barrier is preventing them in doing so. Sakura’s friends talk about the rumours of a decrepit house. When they pass by and see how lively the Christmas decorations are, they freak out. Sakura thought she heard something from inside and checks it out. Oh, it’s only Rinne and Ageha. Oops. Now she can’t leave. As they discuss about the previous family of the house who loved to celebrate Christmas and this might be the regrets left behind by the spirit, Tsubasa comes in to shoot down their theory. They are celebrating Christmas somewhere else and when they heard this house is celebrating Christmas on its own, they hired Tsubasa to offer some chicken. Unfortunately he left it outside the house. Now he’s stuck too. Because Sakura and Ageha bring out party goods and candles respectively, this makes Rinne in a dilemma if he should share his Christmas cake. Afraid Sakura might hate him, he is about to share them but the rest are preoccupied with how to take the chicken in. As tools can move through the barrier, Ageha uses her scythe with Tsubasa’s help to drag it in. Unfortunately the bucket is cut in half and all the cats and dogs finish the finger licking good chicken. As they argue, the commotion causes Rinne to slip and drop out his Christmas cake, dissipating the barrier. The cat is now out of the bag. Prepared to be admonished, he is surprised that Sakura thinks he wants to have a party. Ageha won’t be usurped by her and suggests a real party. She still has that Friendly Square she bought and is going to put it to good use.

Rinne is surprised to find a kotatsu in his place courtesy from Ageha. So this is the Friendly Square she bought. It’s just a normal kotatsu. It’s so warm. So nice. Don’t feel like moving. All is well till Sakura and Tsubasa had to pop up by bringing food. When Tsubasa suggests playing cards, Ageha gets an idea for the loser to do anything a loser wants. This is part of her plan to send the third wheels home and then make Rinne marry her. Unfortunately she lost to Rokumon. Many times. She is forced to go buy stuffs for them. It’s no fun anymore. The rest wanted to stop but she insisted in carrying on. Well… When she goes to collect the Christmas cake Sakura booked earlier on, she realized Friendly Square is a scam and is going to get her revenge. She trips and ruins the cake. I guess at this point you’d feel pity for this idiot who is so close to tears. All she wants is just to spend time with Rinne. Surprisingly here he comes putting a scarf on her. Everyone has the same and they wish her Merry Christmas. The scarves were knitted by Sakura’s mom for everybody. They return to the warmth of the kotatsu and as they’re about to open the cake box, they see a bomb placed by Ageha. Quickly she throws it out of the window and pretends all that never happened. Rinne is in tears after tasting the heavenly Christmas cake. Then it is back to more cards for Ageha. It’s getting late and everyone is sleepy but nobody leaves till she wins!

Episode 23
The census bureau is also responsible for cleaning evil spirits and turning them good for reincarnation. Via washing machine? Of course there is one that is too strong and escapes. Kain tells this to Rinne. In Tsubasa’s house? Seems this guy is sick and although it has got its perks like Sakura making porridge for him, the presence of those guys ruined it. Kain shows details of the escaped spirit as he believes it will appear before him. It is a nine tailed fox. Tamako caught it 100 years ago and sent it for cleansing. However its grudge was so deep that it still harbours the same hatred. It is believed it wants to get back at Tamako’s offspring. Therefore Kain is here to watch over him (not protect him) and catch the fox when it shows up. After everyone has left, the fox possesses Tsubasa. Next day he looks like he is fine but Kain tries to attack possessed Tsubasa to flush out the fox. He knows it needs a body to carry out its revenge. As Tsubasa is interchanging between personalities, it proves the fox’s powers are weakened and they’re fighting control of the body. Rinne has returned with information from Tamako about the fox. It is actually quite weak. But as to why she won’t tell him a way to defeat it, he unknowingly said that age related taboo word… When the guys try to force out the fox, its bag of tricks deflect and hinder their efforts. Since it could read Tsubasa’s mind, it can improvise his attacks to deal greater damage and even clone itself. Kain uses an incense to separate them but it only work halfway. Over the course of fighting and tricks, the rest start to notice that Tsubasa is being conscious and attacking Rinne on his own rather than under the fox’s control. Trying to impress Sakura and get back at Rinne? Finally a wash basin drops on them. This isn’t an ordinary wash basin. It is connected to the census bureau when dumped inside. A few hours later, the fox is purified and sent for reincarnation. As for Tsubasa, he is so squeaky clean that his skin is so shiny! Since he insists and continues to fault the fox for his actions, Rinne notes his heart is still not cleansed yet.

Episode 24
Rinne receives a request from the thermometer shelter that the boss of a newly opened ramen shop is being possessed. The payment in advance is tickets for free ramen! Would Rinne pass this off? You guessed right. The place is teeming with students but Rinne and co are shocked to see Bijin serving! Even more shocking she pleads for them to save her boss. This means the boss of this place is no other than Sabato who is working hard to make ramen! Are my eyes deceiving me?! Sabato working?! Is the world ending soon?! When everyone notices this place only serves ramen and no other side dishes at all, Tsubasa believes this means this place is pretty confident in its ramen. He takes up the challenge to order the best ramen. Sabato’s technique to prepare the best ramen seems impressive but will the taste be so? Then it becomes like those typical food themed animes. Tsubasa finds it so delicious and rants-cum-exaggerates his analysis on this exceptionally good ramen. Yeah. Whatever. When Rinne asks Sabato if he is already reformed, the latter replies that he really doesn’t want to work! Bijin explains that when they took over this abandoned building, they intended to masquerade as a ramen shop for their Damashigami operations. That is when the spirit of this place possessed Sabato and made him work like hell. Got what he deserved?

After they separate the spirit from his body, it is discovered this young man loves ramen and wanted to make it his life. He worked hard to open his shop but on that day he just died. Therefore he has regrets and wants to keep selling ramen like today for 100 years! Surprisingly Sabato agrees to help him. Hmm… That scheming look. Next day as Rinne and co visit the shop, they see the customers act strangely. The spirit is now working in a doll version of Sabato’s body and the ramen has some funny ingredient that sucks out the customer’s soul. When confronting Sabato (who is slacking as usual), seems he convinced the spirit to use the doll as he could use his body 24/7 without rest. Also he could use a special ramen ingredient his company created. They know the spirit is being manipulated but whatever they say or do cannot reach him. Because as long as the customers are happy, he doesn’t care. Sabato chides Rinne for his naivety he doesn’t understand the spirit’s true nature and that is how he manipulated it. Surprisingly Rinne admits his defeat and runs away! Later he calls and orders 500 ramen to be delivered to Damashigami Company. Revenge motive? Actually this is part of his plan to swap the spirit’s goal. As selling 500 bowls would be pretty satisfying for him, this would make him enough to pass over. But now the doll breaks down! Sabato who is going to return after a good haul of souls, the spirit possesses him and he is forced to continue working till he breaks down! Deserve it! In the end, the spirit passes on and all the stolen souls are returned. The ramen shop closes down and the customers lament they couldn’t eat anymore of those delicious ramen. They decide to leave a thank you note but of course in their eyes it is that Sabato guy. Don’t count on it that he has rest in peace.

Episode 25
Tamako gives Sakura a candy that will allow her to not see spirits anymore. If you’re wondering why it’s free, it’s because it is a prototype. Ah, the guinea pig… At the same time, there is this A-1 Grand Prix whereby evil spirits in a competition try to curse their target. As Sakura cannot see spirits anymore, she accidentally breaks a seal of a well and this is a sign for the competition to start. She has become targeted. Rinne works his ass off trying to fend off those spirits all while Sakura is unaware what is going on (she can’t see him too when he wears his robe). She might be relishing being normal for once but Rinne is going to get real tired in keeping all those occupation-themed ghosts at bay. Yeah. 5,000 competitors in total! Thanks to him, Sakura is saved from death many times. Tamako then plucks a hair from Sakura to insert it into some decoy doll. The doll will grow into a full size figure of Sakura and act as a decoy for the evil spirits. Furthermore, the moment they touch it, they’ll be paralyzed. It costs a whopping 30,000 Yen but don’t worry, Tamako is covering the cost. Rinne uses the highly effective doll as decoy. But Tsubasa thought it is the real Sakura and moves it out of harm’s way. After Rinne explains about the doll, Tsubasa gets the wrong idea that he is a pervert who makes this doll! The misunderstanding enhances when Sakura and her friends see this. They think it belongs to Tsubasa but he tells it is Rinne’s. They get the wrong idea that the reason why Rinne has been missing for a while is because he was making this doll!

Thanks to the doll, Rinne is able to purify many of the evil spirits. But the doll can only last 3 hours. Such a high price for such a short period. Rinne claims he is doing this not for Sakura but as his job as a shinigami. But why does he look like he is in a dilemma whether if Sakura is fine carrying on her life like this? At the end of the competition, Rinne helps Tamako to pick up the number bibs from those purified spirits because they get 5 Yen for each bib handed in. Although not enough to cover the cost of the doll but at least they get something back. Sakura goes to visit Rinne’s place but he is not there and she feels sad. When Tamako hands in the bibs to get her money, it is counted there is a bib short. The last spirit is going to have Sakura’s life. Luckily Rinne is there to protect her and get the job done. Sakura leaves and this makes Rinne a sad and lonely guy. I just keep thinking why doesn’t he just take off his robe if he wants her to see him? Anyway she suddenly trips on him. Looks like the candy effect has worn off. Glad to see each other again? She hands back the extra candies to him and wants Rinne to return them to Tamako. I guess she prefers seeing ghosts, huh? Knowing that Rinne worked hard behind her back, she makes him a delicious bento. Itadakimasu! Hard work does pay off.

Binbou No Rinne
It was fun. It was enjoyable. As expected from Rumiko Takahashi. I read a handful of comments saying that although this anime is still watchable, it isn’t as great compared to her other works as it is predictable. Hey, it is Rumiko Takahashi after all. How far do you want her to deviate from her trademark? Well, as I have said I have not read her manga and only watched some of her adapted works, as far as I am concerned, this is still a good watch as there are some pretty funny moments although very much done in her usual predictable ‘silly’ style. Of course it still cannot top Ranma 1/2, as it will still remain my anime of animes. But I can rank this series higher than Inu Yasha since that show has too much youkai and demons of the Japanese folklore and I am not really into that.

This series will get its chance to prove it can match and rise up to the rest of the other adapted series. You know what I’m saying? Yup. This series is going to get a sequel in early 2016. I guess it would be a shame for it to end with just more than 2 dozen episodes because many of Rumiko Takahashi’s adapted works usually cross over a hundred episodes. Yeah. Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha and Urusei Yatsura all easily surpass the double digit number into triple digits. Maison Ikkoku could have been too had it not been short of 4 episodes of a century. So far the only series I know that didn’t go beyond a season was Mermaid Forest and other OVA adaptations which of course I didn’t watch but that isn’t the point here. So my conclusion is that if Kyoukai No Rinne is going to be awesome and great, maybe it will have more subsequent season and breach over a hundred episodes over the next few years as you know this series still has a lot of material and potential to cover.

The characters here are fun although I have to say that they are generally so Rumiko Takahashi-like. Somewhat familiar with her other works’ characters. Yeah. Maybe that is why they said it was kinda predictable. For example Rinne himself. As the main character, he is like Ranma and Inuyasha and you can tell he is the main hero because, heck, like the other duo he also has his name in the title. Sakura is like the Akane and Kagome of this series. The girl who is always by his side and potential lover who will constantly irritate viewers and make them scream out for them to confess their feelings to each other already. Ageha as the other girl who likes our main character is somewhat similar to Shampoo, Ukyo, Kodachi and perhaps Kikyou? Tsubasa is also familiar as he is like the Ryouga and Kouga of the series (hey, don’t they all look pretty close to each other?). The friend-cum-rival (but more of the latter) who has a crush on the main character’s girl as well. Kain is more of a rival than friend so he resembles somewhat like Mousse, Kunou and Sesshoumaru. Ah, the pet mascot. You can’t have cute series without this. So Rokumon is the P-chan and Shippo of that. Then you have the baddie of the series (antagonist may be too harsh for a genre like this) like Sabato who is equivalent to Happosai and Naraku (okay, so this guy is so vile that he is really an antagonist). What about grannies? I suppose Tamako’s counterpart would be Cologne and Kaede. I could go on and on and relive the nostalgia times thinking about old characters but I think it is best I stop here.

Another series which has many viewers comment how similar Kyoukai No Rinne is would be Bleach. No, not the action fighting parts but rather the afterlife. As opposed to Soul Society, there is indeed a temporary place for souls to go and live before reincarnation. But the fact that there is some sort of administration that oversees this process makes it feel a bit like Soul Society again. Also, you thought that if the afterlife would be a place of peace and fairness, you have to deal with Damashigami who are a milder and comical counterpart of Hollows. Even more mind boggling is how the life in the afterlife takes so much after the living world. The process, the procedures and even some of the infrastructure are taken after what we normally see when we are still living. Even to the point that there are money transactions involved. Even hell too. It’s all about the money, money, money… Truly, it is a sin to be poor so you better not die a poor soul! So it goes to show that we can never escape this kind of ‘life’, huh? Well, at least it is good for the recently departed souls as they won’t get culture shock. Also, the use of the shinigami term is another reason why some see the similarities with Bleach.

So to sum up Rinne as the main character who must always have his own trademarks like in any other series, poverty is what sums him up best. You can’t blame him for being a scrooge or make cost-like decisions or display attitude like a miser. After all, money makes the world go round. Heck, you even need money in the afterlife to buy stuffs and all. So if he has to spend more or relinquish his ‘valuables’, the greater the value of that commodity will be represented in how much he cries blood out of it. Seriously. Parting with a treasured one is never an easy thing to do ;p. Considering his ‘tragic’ past coming from a mixed heritage of human and shinigami and a father who loves to con the hell out of his hard earned savings, Rinne is a pretty tough and cool guy if you think about it. I am not sure if all that made him numb throughout the years but he seems pretty cool headed instead of getting his raging emotions the better of him. Well of course the occasional sarcasm and taking out on Sabato when he crosses the line (like he always does).

Sakura’s only ability is to see spirits and thus the reason (or excuse) for her to join Rinne and the rest in their other worldly adventures. Otherwise she is just a plain girl and if I may say, a boring person! Sure, at times I feel her role is to play the rebuking role with her retorts. But saying with that kind of emotionless face, I don’t know whether it is supposed to be funny or not (of course it’s meant to be funny and a joke). There are times where she does put up a smile but that is as rare as it can get because mostly you’ll see her putting up that poker face although she’s born with it and it’s stuck for the rest of her life. I am guessing there is a reason why she is given this emotionless face in the first place. To confuse and troll viewers if she has any feelings for Rinne. Veterans would know she does and definitely Rinne too for her. There are some obscure hints but we veterans know better. After all, we’ve been through the ‘agony’ of waiting to hear Ranma and Akane say those magical words (which never came in the anime) and finally Kagome married Inuyasha and stayed with him at the end but that is only after over 150 episodes and another season. So would it be any different for Sakura? We veterans know better :-).

Other characters are fun too with their own unique and ‘idiotic’ personality. Tsubasa as Rinne’s rival only because he has a crush on Sakura but you know it will be unrequited forever. Unless… Ageha feels like the dumb blonde of the series (she’s purpled hair by the way) due to gullibility and her tendency to be easily conned. Yeah. Money is no issue to her since she comes from a rich family so I guess this spoils it for her. With her in the picture, there comes the love polyamory but so far, romance has been one of the weakest parts of the series and something you shouldn’t get your hopes up. Even if there are some seemingly romantic moments, it is all for the sake of comedy and you’d be much disappointed if you think it is going to come true. Seriously. Rokumon is needed as the cute loyal pet and sidekick if you’re tired at looking at all the dumb humans and human-like characters. Just kidding. No, really. But you get what I mean. I suppose somebody there is needed to share his pain and poverty and who better than his pet cat for it. Tamako… Nice old lady who might look irresponsible but she does have a caring and responsible side. Oh sh*t! I just said the taboo word! “Don’t me babe granny”. Better remember that even if you’re her grandchildren.

Then you have villains like Masato and Sabato who aren’t vile enough to be hated but ‘dumb’ enough to be lovable. Especially Sabato is such a sly character who tries to squeeze every penny out of everybody with the slightest chance he get, sometimes he fails so badly and get what he deserves but is always a step ahead from being captured, our ‘hatred’ for him is more like being tsundere instead of actual loathing. In short, he never learns. That’s why he has the most fun in the series. No wonder Bijin falls for this guy. Of course she was conned into it but if you can have so much fun without a care to others for the rest of your life, why the heck worry, right? In a way I feel she fares much better than her poor little sister (poor as in circumstantial). I feel there is some sort of running joke (that’s what I’d call it) for Miho and Rika. Well, in the sense that they usually talk to Sakura about some haunted rumours. Then when they go investigate it and something hauntingly pops up before them, they get scared out of their sh*t, running away and leaving Sakura behind, which is a reason for her to get involved with Rinne and the other supernatural beings. Typical, isn’t it?

Action and fight scenes aren’t intense but they are mostly for entertainment purposes and sometimes for laughs. Maybe it isn’t the focus but sometimes I can’t feel that the moves the characters pull off are repetitive and boring. For instance, Tsubasa’s holy ash. Is that all he has got as an exorcist? Sometimes he uses that corner of the bible book (for comedic effect of course) but other than that, holy ash seems to be the only thing he carries around all the time. And with that new power stone weapon, I haven’t seen him use it properly and if it was, it was against him! (Technically it was Kain who got owned by that familiar slapping farce but still, it shows Tsubasa wasn’t using it right despite he was possessed).

Rinne’s scythe is his trademark weapon but from time to time he would use his tornado technique or other accessories that he needs to buy in his aid to stop the menace. It is interesting to see that from time to time when he pulls out a new tool, the narrator would explain to us its effect and even how much it costs! Yeah well, if you actually need to buy such stuffs to fight and bring in evil spirits, it clearly shows that money is truly indeed what makes even the afterlife go round. Heck, that bonus money for the census bureau spills it all. Ageha in addition to using her scythe, I’m not sure if that coin tossing move is an actual skill or she’s just throwing away money. Sakura doesn’t possess any fighting ability and it is understandable but at the same time that is why it makes her so boring. Sometimes she does have a hand in help stopping whatever mess but she can’t usually do it alone. Even at least Rokumon has the ability to transform into a scary monster cat head although that is pretty much it can do.

I shouldn’t be pointing this out because it will be annoyingly the umpteenth time because you know, how freaking familiar the art and character designs are to Rumiko Takahashi’s previous works? Duh. You can see shades of certain characters from other of her other animes here. Because of that, the overall art style is not like today’s conventional Japanese anime. There is a slight retro feel to it although much of the artwork and even the setting are updated for today’s modern setting. Generally, the characters do look pretty and for non-human characters like animals and spirits, they are more of cute instead of scary. This might be trivial but I want to point out that Ageha looks a bit weird than pretty. I don’t know. Maybe it’s that lipstick. It enhances her dumb character. I thought Masato was some sort of vampire initially. With those bat wings and tuxedo (Dracula wears them, right?), I sure thought so.

I am not sure if other references from other works appear here but I do notice one and it prompted me to think of this. If you have watched Ranma 1/2, you would have known that Ranma’s dad turns into a panda. He makes his somewhat cameo here as he is the face of the afterlife’s currency! That panda too makes very few and short cameos as perhaps a part timer in such a suit handing out flyers. This is so far the only trivia I’ve spotted and I’m not sure about the rest. On another trivial note, I thought the mid-intermission and end card eyecatch are boring. They use the same picture every time. Sakura’s mug hogs the mid-intermission while Rinne bags the one after the end credits and next episode preview. The only exception was the Christmas episode with a Christmas theme. I mean seriously, couldn’t they just add a few other eyecatches of other characters?

Hearing Marina Inoue behind the voice of Sakura, I think she did quite a good job in making the character emotionless. If I am not mistaken, this isn’t the first time she has voice such a character role although rare. Because similarly she did Matsurika in Maria+Holic before. Surprisingly, I didn’t realize it was veteran Kappei Yamaguchi behind Sabato’s voice! It was shocking for me to find out because he certainly didn’t sound like his Usopp in One Piece or even his other main character of Rumiko Takahashi’s adapted works, the male Ranma and Inuyasha! He sounds more like a cool operator that befits the sly thieving fox Sabato is. If Tamako sounds pretty familiar, that is because she is voiced by Satsuki Yukino who is no other than the voice of Kagome from Inu Yasha. Same case for Masato because that’s Fairy Tail’s Natsu’s Tetsuya Kakihara. Other casts include Kaito Ishikawa as Rinne (Ledo in Suisei No Gargantia), Hitomi Nabatame as Rokumon (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Ryohei Kimura as Tsubasa (Judal in Magi), Rie Murakawa as Ageha (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Souma Saitou as Kain (Tatsumi in Akame Ga Kill) and Izumi Kitta as Bijin (Tomoko in Watamote). Youko Hikasa makes her cameo as Rina.

One of the best features is the first opening theme, Ouka Ranman by Keytalk. There is this very catchy tune to this rock piece with a slightly traditional tune to it. I wish they had not changed it halfway because the second opening theme, Ura No Ura by Passepied sounds so odd and it just takes the fun out of it (listening to the opening song, that is). The second one I feel the singer’s voice is so flat that even a tone deaf person could do better than her. I don’t know if she’s just reading the lyrics or something. But the funny thing about the second opening animation is how the main characters get a noogie by Tamako!!! Real funny. Other secondary characters get bonked on the head!!! Passepied who also sings the rock based first ending theme, Toki No Wa although I personally don’t find it attractive (that flat voice again), it is hell better than the second theme, Futatsu No Sekai by Quruli. I thought they were making a joke singing this song. I thought this is the kind of song that you will play at a low cost carnival seeing how ‘minimal’ it sounds especially using a voice with synthesizer effects feels kinda lazy.

Overall, this series is a fun and enjoyable watch from start to finish although it won’t be breaking any new grounds. And if you’re a big fan of Rumiko Takahashi, add this to your list. Indeed watching this and completing this does bring back memories of my early days of anime and especially Ranma 1/2. Oh yeah. Those were the good ol’ early days. If reincarnation is ever true, I would love to relive the same life as an otaku again, over and over. Won’t that be boring? With so many animes coming out each year (not counting the manga, games and other anime related events), I think I need more than a lifetime to cover it all! And I hope I have enough cash to buy it all too!

Bikini Warriors

January 15, 2016

With a name like that, I suppose it won’t take long to figure what kind of show Bikini Warriors is. Yeah, you might even think that this is some sort of sleazy porn video. But fear not! No porn but lots of fanservice. That’s safe, right? As I found out, Bikini Warriors are actually a figurine line. Heh. I can only imagine the kind of otakus who buy such stuffs whose characters are portrayed from typical classes from RPG games. And when you have a toy line adapted into an anime, I figure that it must be something to do with increasing sales. Something like G.I. Joe? Well, this one is only sexier.

Episode 1
Our bikini heroines, Fighter, Paladin, Mage and Dark Elf are getting owned by the dungeon monsters. They complain to the store owner that the armours don’t work. They’re in luck because new stocks have arrived. However they look totally the same as the ones before. Fighter won’t buy them. But when they face the dungeon monsters again, the rest are saved from harm. Not even a scratch. So now Fighter begs to buy a bikini armour. They love the attention they get from the crowd (I’m sure guys would just love to ogle at them all day). When the owner has new armour stock, the girls chide him that they are just skimpy swimsuits and are too embarrassed about it. But don’t you think it is no different than the bikini armour they were wearing?

Episode 2
The king is praising the heroic deeds of our bikini heroine quartet. He laments he should have known them earlier to prevent many tragedies. As he sends them out for a mission to stop evil, the quartet remind him about proper preparation and arrangements. The king only gives them a measly 10 gold coins for their entire journey! This is an insult right? Staying at an inn per night costs higher than that and somebody’s grandpa’s pension is worth 10 times that! The king admits this is all they get. They want to use legendary weapons from his treasury but he says there are none. Since they continue to complain and threaten ‘no pay, no save kingdom’, the king throws them into the dungeon and ties them all up naked. BDSM style!

Episode 3
Not enough money! It’s going to be a real pain. Such desperate situations call for desperate actions. Invoking the Hero Special Supply Law, this gives them the right to barge into any house to take anything they want deemed necessary. Heck, is this even legal? Because it looks like daylight robbery. I wonder why nobody gives a sh*t about them coming in and taking things as they want. So if you’re a kid saving up to buy papa a present, too bad the safety of the kingdom comes first. So what is the first thing the heroines do with all the stash? Enjoy themselves at the pool of a luxurious hotel! WTF?! At the end of the day, all the angry people storm in to take back what they have left and throw them out. Yeah, they even took their bikini and leave them out in the cold.

Episode 4
In order to get a key to the next town, the heroines must do as they are told by the mayor. This doesn’t sound good. So of the many chores, it includes chasing after a dog (pervy dog gets pervy on her), drinking some potion (making Fighter feeling horny) and fighting a pervy monster that got all its tentacles over Fighter (who isn’t feeling horny anymore). Finally when all the tasks are done and the heroines to claim the key, the mayor tells them the key is already inside them. By doing those tasks, they learnt to cooperate with each other and that is the most important key for a heroine. No prizes for guessing what happens next to this guy.

Episode 5
The bikini heroines need to buy an Ice Staff to defeat those cave dwellers. Since they don’t have enough money, they decide to sell their junks. Man, they sure have a lot of them. Even after selling their bikini armour, it still isn’t enough. Noticing they have lots of elixir that restore health and mana, they realize they have never used them because they were never in a pinch and thus gathered a lot of them. And so they sell it all enough to get the Ice Staff. However they are left defeated and low on magic and life right before the cave dwellers’ entrance. If only they had some elixir… Regretting it now? No use pointing fingers. Then they see a treasure chest nearby. Could it contain elixirs? Oh, just another Ice Staff! FFFFUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 6
The heroines learn about a monster in a nearby monster that attacks women, raping them and steals their items. So the quartet venture into the forest and confront the monster. As usual, his horny technique strips them of their armour and doing tentacle rape. Paladin likes it especially. Then the rest defeats it and everyone baths together at a waterfall, vowing to defeat evil and save the land. I’m baffled with this episode. No doubt it’s for fanservice with strategically placed objects as censors, why were they walking around naked? In the final bathing scenes, we see their armour strewn on the ground. But as they leave, they left naked and forgot to take them. Huh? What?

Episode 7
Fighter, Paladin and Mage were looking for a comrade to take down some demon and that is when they stumbled upon Dark Elf who brags she is good in sword and magic. After recruiting her, she got them lost in the forest for hours and a giant starts some licking perversion attack on them, Dark Elf plays it cool that she has got it all covered when we all know better it is all just exaggeration and baseless confidence. Then after finding the entrance to a secret lair, the girls are shocked that they are going to fight the final last boss, Deathgedd the Demon King. So soon? Obviously the girls are not ready but Dark Elf challenges to final boss to en garde. She’s going to get them killed!

Episode 8
Hunter and Valkyrie would like to join the quartet. The former is like a country bumpkin and the latter an arrogant cocky b*tch bragging about her godly status. Since only one is needed, the duo try to show what they do best. Hunter cooks a delicious meal for them but once they found out she used slim carcasses, it doesn’t taste so nice anymore. Valkyrie shows her true strength by easily defeating a monster. But she starts complaining they have to walk instead of riding a horse back to town. Like a spoilt princess, eh? The only way to decide is to face off. Guess what? They start fondling each other’s boobs among other various fanservice fights. Ironically in the end, it brought them closer as they will form their own party. Happy ending?

Episode 9
After defeating an enemy, Mage has been cursed by the dying enemy’s magic. Against her body’s will, she attacks her comrades and they think it is because she is mad. Mad for giving her small food portions, ripping her bikini and peeking at her in the bath. Yeah, they did all those petty things. Mage isn’t mad but it’s disheartening to know they did all that. They have no choice but to kill her. And they really kill her and bury her body! However Mage’s spirit hopes that like in all RPG adventures, a donation to the church would revive her. But do they know about it?! OMG! Mage is going to die for real as little cherubs pick her to heaven!

Episode 10
After another long dungeon trawling, they have run out of power. They stumble upon another treasure chest and hopes it would be some sort of recovery item. However they remain cautious because all the chests they open were traps. Dark Elf uses her magic to sense what is in it. Something is inside. That doesn’t say much, eh? When they open… Slippery eels fanservice attack! Then another treasure chest. Another trap or real treasure? As they open, the Goddess of Truth appears. She asks them to choose between a Badge of Courage or Crest of Justice. They want neither. Because of their honesty, the goddess will give them both. However they start b*tching to give better items as they are in a dire situation and chide her uselessness. The goddess quickly returns to the chest. She’s not coming out ever. You girls blew it.

Episode 11
Our heroines are in a pinch once more. Yeah, clothes melting slime. Whatever. Paladin offers to sacrifice herself to save her comrades. Of course she gets resurrected later and Fighter isn’t amused that she loves doing this. Something about doing her service to God. Then on a mission to pass a town, one of them must marry the perverted mayor. Again, Paladin steps up to ‘sacrifice’ for them. That night she prepares to lose her virginity to him (and he’s really eagerly waiting) but her friends beat him up for trying to defile her. They felt bad for letting her sacrifice herself like that. That little act of ‘kindness’ made Paladin a little happy, though.

Episode 12
A montage of all our heroines’ adventures. Not to be mistaken as a cheap summary episode as all scenes are never seen before. We see the quartet going through hard times, tough times, sexy times. Fighting hordes of monsters, discovering one of them is their father (Star Wars parody?), discovering the legendary holy sword, more sacrifices, more sexy moments and finally facing off with the evil Demon King. Of course, it ends with a typical cliff-hanger that the Demon King defeated was the weakest among the brethren and a shocking discovery for them that is left up to our discretion.

Episode 13 (OVA)
After defeating some sorcerer, you’d think that all will end well, right? Right before they leave, the sorcerer casts some spell on them. Back in town, suddenly Fighter starts molesting Paladin’s boobs! Can’t control her actions, eh? Wow. Tits fondling and crotch violation! OMG! Bare nipples! Is this turning hentai?! Then the same thing happens to Mage as Dark Elf outrages her modesty. Can’t control your body too, huh? I’m sure there is some reasoning Mage says about the sorcerer’s legendary power to make you go horny but I guess we’re not interested in listening to all that and instead feasting our eyes on the most delicious and unashamed yuri fanservice this series has to offer! Oh yeah! Carry on girls! The public loves a free show too! How often is it do you get to see gorgeous babes getting horny with each other? Don’t forget to lick all those delicious parts too! Mage finally reaches her staff and zaps everyone back to normal. Fighter and Dark Elf apologize for their unruly and uncontrolled behaviour but Mage is still pouting. Speaking of Paladin, where has she gone to? She is trying to find that sorcerer and wants a taste of that spell again. She likes it, huh? Yeah, we too.

Indecent Exposure Saves The World!
I guess now you know why in RPG games, female characters tend to dress so scantily and go into battle without ever freaking worrying if those exposed parts will get damaged. Either the enemy must be perverts so their boner makes their shots miss or somehow every shot fired and targeted at them ends up hitting the miniscule bikini armour! Oh yes people! Never underestimate the bikini armour that just covers a few inches of skin! No wonder female characters dress up so sexily when going into battle unlike guys who are ferociously armed to their eyeballs and they still lose. Discrimination! But we like it :-).

Depending on how horny you are, I think that will determine how much you will like this very short series because with each episode so short and not related to each other, it is hard to classify this anime to be anything near epic. Maybe except the bikini armour. And thus the only reason and real motivation why we watch this is basically the delicious fanservice that every episode has to offer. For odd reasons, there will be close-ups on certain parts of the heroines while a conversation is taking place. People always tell me to look at a woman’s eyes when they talk. Freaking bikini distractions… And sometimes in battle when they take damage or something, you hear them in their ambiguous moan. If you walked right in at the moment while this scene is played, you might think this could be some sort of cosplay porn! Serious!

With only 4 minutes to each episode, there is hardly anything else to expect for and certainly you’re not going to tell me you want to know more about the heroines, don’t you? I suppose the only thing they have in common is big boobs, an excuse for us to ogle at something or enemies to perform seemingly perverted attacks on them. But you can guess a little bit of their behaviour after a while like Paladin who is some sort of perverted masochist who dreams of getting down and dirty. She could be a slut and prostitute if she wasn’t a heroine. Strangely, Paladin somewhat reminds me of a British girl in Infinite Stratos… Dark Elf could be a really smooth operator insurance salesman thanks to her poker face and baseless confidence even when things don’t work out at the end. Then you have the hot headed Fighter and the soft spoken Mage. I guess that is so much about it. What do you expect when you have main characters that are ‘lazily’ named after RPG classes? Heck, even the short so called ending theme may be interesting, as it sounds like some classy instrumental piece but the odd part is that it is void of any end credits! Maybe they don’t want to ‘ruin’ the perfect view of showcasing our quartet?

Overall, short anime with fanservice is a series that you watch when you’re bored and something to entertain you while you are trying to guess the next series to take on. Otherwise, this show could be considered as one of the feminists’ enemies as it objectifies women as sex objects. Well, sex sells, right? Now you know why beer promotion posters will have a sexy babe in bikini posing with the beer, right? Yeah… Hey. At least they’re not walking everywhere in their birthday suit. I guess lots of men wouldn’t mind that too. Who knows? Maybe all it takes to save the world isn’t super powers, great strength, magical legendary weapons and a group of super legendary high level stats heroes. It could just be a simple bikini that will do the job. The question is just a one-piece or two-piece :-).

Shirobako

January 10, 2016

Everybody is a critic. Sure, it is our right to have our opinions on just about everything. And when we start criticizing and putting down something, most of the time we are guilty for not thinking for a second the effort and hard work put in behind it. And that is why people, despite there are so many movies, TV series, games and animes out there that suck and do not meet our standards and expectations, we often fail to realize that there has been a lot (if not some) effort put into those works behind the scenes. Yes people. It is time for us to realize that making anime is no child’s play. We need to realize and be educated of the long painstaking process it takes to animate your favourite character. And the best way to know all about that without going through the same hellish experience like those who did is to watch a decent ‘documentary’. Right?

Therefore, if Bakuman has taught us the harsh deadlines of writing manga, Love Get Chu and recently Sore Ga Seiyuu taught us that being a voice actress isn’t a bed of roses, how about an anime that tells us what an anime studio goes through to produce that anime so we otaku fans get to watch it same time every week? That’s right. If you’re interested in the process and the behind the scenes of making an anime series, Shirobako gives a very good understanding and awareness on how it is all done. Despite the fictitious company, characters and everything else, I can assure the process in doing so is as real as it can get. Get ready for a trip and free your conscience! You will be changed once you are ‘enlightened’.

Episode 1
Aoi Miyamori and her high school animation club friends make a doughnut vow to make an original anime. The quintet put in a lot of time and effort to finish their anime The Divines so that it can be shown in time for the cultural festival. Soon, Aoi, Ema Yasuhara and Shizuka Sakaki graduate and they hope all of them will be together in the anime production line. 2.5 years down the road, Aoi is one tired girl. Working the late hours a production assistant for Musashino Animation (Musani). She gets excited to hear on the radio about Musani’s upcoming anime, Exodus. I’m not sure if this relieves stress because she starts racing and drifting with a rival company and beats him to collect the work done by animation director, Misato Segawa at her house. Returning to office, she notices nobody at their stations. It is because they are all in the meeting room ready to watch the first episode of Exodus which is debuting at midnight. And now we are bombed with all the names of all the staffs in Musani. I don’t think I can remember them all… The airing of the first episode is great and there are lots of rave reviews already right after it ends. Yeah, episode 2 next week. So soon? Well, ganbatte ne! So we see the staffs in getting their usual hectic work before the next episode. Tarou Takanashi seems to have been slacking in his keyframes department which threatens to have a domino effect on the rest of the production line. Sorry isn’t going to cut it. So everybody is cracking their heads in trying to get the right animator to do the keyframes and with no other alternatives left, Aoi suggests Segawa. Despite already working on another episode, she agrees to do it although she seems to be in clashing mode with another animation director, Ryousuke Endou. Everyone is following a tight schedule because if you delay something, it will also delay everything else after it. Segawa finishes in time and Aoi goes to collect it. No wonder Aoi’s drifting has been so good. If the train breaks down, just ask her to drive you there. Like how she did for the dubbing team. First class drifting. When Aoi goes to visit Segawa to get the work for the next episode, there is no answer when she knocks on her door. She sees her collapsed on the floor.

Episode 2
Segawa is down with fever after working too hard. As Aoi is in charge of episode 4 production, she’ll see to it that it gets done somehow. She has been so busy with this that she hasn’t got the time to spare with her friends. Not even noticing a simple hello. During the dubbing, Musani’s director, Seiichi Kinoshita feels something is not right for a particular scene. The voice acting is great but it seems the animation for that scene just doesn’t match the animation. Needs more emotion? This has him clash with fellow animation director, Masashi Yamada. Yeah well, they talk a lot about on the back story of the character. It’s too deep. I don’t understand. The point now is if they should redo the entire animation for that scene. As you know, time is of essence. Aoi suggests before they fix anything, they should call a meeting to confirm about the characters and everything else on Exodus. So Kinoshita and a handful of staffs are discussing about the main characters of Exodus, their traits, likes, characteristics, everything! I suppose it is to understand and get a feel of the character better. So after all that discussion, I’m not sure if you can call this hallucination after that long deliberation, because now everyone can see and give shape to this main character how she is supposed to be. So real, right? Even if it is decided to do a retake of that scene, do they have enough time to redesign the character and scene? No problem for Rinko Ogasawara and Yumi Iguchi.

Episode 3
Aoi is swamped with work, tight schedules and deadlines. Fellow production assistant and veteran Erika Yano dispenses lots of great advice to her. Especially a certain animator who always claims no problem and will be in before the deadline but fails to live up to his words. Yeah, better start calling him. No answer. That dude is sleeping… I suppose his work hasn’t finished yet. Don’t panic yet, Aoi. More stress for her when chubby production desk manager, Yutaka Honda keeps breathing down her neck about what she has completed. We see Aoi rushing from department to department to get the necessary job done before the deadline for episode 4’s submission. She is on the verge of breakdown so Yano gives her some candy to stimulate the brain and also wants her to tell are the problems facing her. Because Aoi is the one who knows episode 4 the best and if she breaks down, that episode is done for. More woes when the FTP server is down so they can’t download the necessary contents. Luckily somebody still saved the work on a local hard drive although it will be hours’ drive away. Aoi again panics over her schedule so Yano reminds her that producing anime is all about teamwork. She can’t do this all by herself. More surprising when Yuka Okitsu from general affairs decide to help her out this one time (unlike the rest, she normally refuses to do overtime work). In the end, everything worked out fine and episode 4 is submitted in time for airing. Aoi thanks everybody for their hard work and effort. Aoi and Ema watch the retake of that scene. It definitely puts in a lot more emotion and fits the superb voice acting like a glove.

Episode 4
Shizuka is off to a voice acting audition. She’s practising her lines in a train and the crowd must be feeling weird if she’s reading some erotic novel or something. Seems there are like 120 hopefuls auditioning for this character and even the famous seiyuu, Rena Souma is here. During Shizuka’s turn, she starts getting nervous and fumbles some of her lines. Although it doesn’t amount to a big screw up, but I guess it was enough to leave her feeling dejected. Meanwhile back at Musani, Kinoshita is arguing with Hironori Madoka about turning on or off the air-cond while working. Aoi gets her day off and she gets a call from her parents who are ecstatic of seeing Aoi’s name appearing in the credits. They’re not sure what the anime is about but they keep playing over and over the credits section. Very proud parents. Aoi meets up with her old high school friends. They watch a movie and then discuss about it (even getting a little technical discussing how many frames were used for it all). The friends still remember their vow and are motivated to carry on to achieve their dreams. They can tell things did not go too well for Shizuka’s audition when she feels reluctant to tell but did anyway. The friends cheer her up and continue to give their unwavering support. The nice outing is disrupted when Tarou calls Aoi for something urgent. But from the sound of it, he seems like fooling around instead of getting to the point of the issue. She just hangs up. Shizuka gets a little drunk after a beer and the friends hope they could make their The Divines into a real feature movie one day. After they part and Aoi walks her way home, she gets another annoying call from Tarou. The same freaking annoyance. Hang up. Don’t let that ruin your night. Next day as Aoi returns to work, she sees Honda not pleased that Kinoshita has not completed the storyboards. Blaming it on the air-cond not being on? Then there is Tarou who is begging to Endou to listen but the latter has had it and if he wants another animation director for episode 8, find somebody else.

Episode 5
Endou has quit for good! Aoi suggests Tarou tell Honda about this but he won’t. Why? It seems Honda has run out of ideas after telling everyone about Kinoshita’s failure in getting his part done. As suggested by Okitsu, Honda lures Kinoshita into the storeroom and locks him up in a mini cell where he must finish it if he wants to get out! Kinoshita remembers 11 years ago he won an award for a hit anime. But his subsequent anime flopped badly and he went under the radar. So with Honda having so much stress and a ‘prison warden’ over Kinoshita, there is no way Tarou could tell him. Aoi hears what really happened. It seems there was a deliberation to use CG effects for episode 8. Endou was against this because he felt this scene is his big break to show off his hand drawn skills. So with Tarou just playing messenger boy and passing messages around, he thought he mediated the situation when he says he loves hand drawn anime but supports CG since it is the new age and hand drawn is outdated. That made Endou furious. Yeah, it’s Tarou’s fault. So now he is trying to get Aoi to help him out? Solve it yourself! Endou is out drinking with fellow animator, Saburou Kitano. After Endou badmouths about CG, it seems Kitano is teaching 3D animators about the tricks of Japanimation. Endou didn’t like he is on the other side and views 3D animators as stealing hand drawn animators’ job but Kitano argues that they should use both techniques to produce the best works. Don’t be too quick to reject it. Tarou tries to call other animators to fill Endou’s place (he thinks it is easier than convincing him) but no luck. Aoi is surprised when Endou seeks her help. They watch the CG demo of the scene when Aoi gets a call from Hikaru Hotta who just finished the cut scenes for episode 9 using hand drawn. Because this scene is related to the scene that Endou was doing, they need to use his keyframes. Can’t replace it with CG, right? Sh*t just hit the fan. Why does Tarou look so happy that Aoi is now his accomplice?

Episode 6
We all know it’s Tarou’s fault and he’s got the cheek to tell Aoi not to play the blame game!!! I guess she has had it so she tells everything to Honda. Oh dear. That guy is so freaking stressed up and panicking. He is going to ask Kinoshita for advice but that fat guy somehow climbed out of his cell! Amazing! He is at the dubbing studio and the staffs thought he amazingly finished his storyboard. Till they get a call from Honda about the truth… But after it finishes, Kinoshita returns to his ‘prison’ and is motivated to finish it. Tarou continues to bug Endou by ringing his doorbell many times. Quit it! He said he is done with it. Aoi talks to Yano about hand drawn animators being replaced by CG animators. She also talks with 3D animator, Misa Toudou and she views hand drawn is still necessary as there are some things that cannot be expressed clearly via CG. Shizuka is surprised her voice acting tutor, Mari Tateo visits her at her part time work place. Shizuka explains the recent audition she went. Tateo can tell she has failed since she has been waiting for a call that never came. She invites her to watch a play that they are putting up. From this play, Shizuka gets to learn a valuable lesson that doing nothing in between while waiting won’t get her anywhere. As Aoi collects Segawa’s work, she gives to her remaining tickets of Idepon exhibition as given by Okitsu. However she says to give it to Endou instead as that anime was the one that sparked his interest in drawing. Aoi didn’t get to see Endou in person but she handed it to his wife. He came alone (obviously his wife wasn’t interested) but Aoi is also there. He thought she set him up because Tarou and rival 3D artist, Yuuichirou Shimoyanagi are also there. At first they were like being cold to each other but after they both rebut the young ones on their misinterpretation of Idepon, they started talking about their shared passion. It’s like as though they’re brothers! In the end, Endou decides to do the episode 8’s hand drawn scenes. He works all night and manages to finish it. Tarou is of course impressed at his work and even claims it was worth being so persistent! Endou and Shimoyanagi praise each other’s work and would like to learn hand drawn or 3D techniques from the other. Kinoshita is finally free but that is only short-lived because Honda reminds him he only completed part A!

Episode 7
Aoi has to rush to work when her sister, Kaori calls to say she is coming over. Aoi leaves the key to her high school friend and neighbour, Midori Imai. During the meeting, fellow production assistant, Tatsuya Ochiai announces that he is leaving by the end of the week for personal reasons. This comes to a shock to some. This means some of the schedules he handles we be passed on to others and Aoi has the ‘honour’ in handling the final episode 13. As Aoi talks to Yamada, she learns Ochiai is leaving for another animation company, Canaan. Ochiai wanted to leave after Exodus but his old acquaintance called and he can’t turn him down. The anime that Canaan is currently doing has even tighter schedules as Yamada relates the hell production of Kinoshita’s last work that had animation meltdown and everything. And now Aoi has the responsibility to make Kinoshita do his storyboards. Yeah, he is sleeping and nothing is done yet. Good luck. Ema is stressed in her keyframe work so a veteran old key animator, Shigeru Sugie gives her good advice about building up speed and experience during her youth. Aoi goes home after work to see Kaori using her place like her own home. Wearing her clothes, opened her beer cans and even used her shampoo… When Aoi gets a stern rebuking call from Segawa regarding Ema’s disappointing rush job that just wouldn’t cut it, Aoi goes to talk to her. However you can see that it is very obvious that Ema is tired and losing hope fast. She has already resigned to calling herself as a failure. No matter how pretty Aoi paints her optimism and positivism, Ema’s negativism is so much greater. How could she not be dejected seeing that she had to do retakes of not 1 or 2 but 4 cuts! No time to talk about motivation. She needs to get back to work. Working with tears in her eyes? Pitiful :’(. Meanwhile some people like Kaori and Midori have all the fun shopping…

Episode 8
You can’t blame Kaori for letting her hair down. Flashback shows her stressful office life. So Midori is being pampered as Kaori goes on a spending spree to buy her what she wants. Feels good, right? Ema continues to be stressed in her drawing. It’s not a good sign so Sugie talks to her about her reason and goal in drawing. Speaking of which, Tarou is talking about his big dreams to become a director or producer but without doing the hard work. You can’t blame Yano for wanting to beat this guy up. But the most surprising dream is Honda because he wanted to be a confectioner. Yano’s mental image of him just got worse. Aoi goes to hand some work to Segawa who also learnt about Ochiai’s departure. She learnt it from Canaan who also called her to help out with their anime but she turned them down as she already has her hands full with Exodus. Segawa is worried about Ema because she may break down. Speaking of which, looks like she is on the verge of it so Sugie has Iguchi talk to her. Iguchi has Ema take a walk with her to refresh her mind and broaden her horizon. Coincidentally they stumble upon a cat (Ema is having trouble drawing a cat and the reason of her stress) so they examine it till the cat feels disgusted being molested! But Ema gets the idea of what to do now. Lifting her spirits is Iguchi’s story when she first worked here and used to examine and copy her senior’s work. In fact all learning starts out as copying. How else would you improve? Many of the staffs are surprised to see Ema and Iguchi talking because many think the former is more of the introvert type. Aoi couldn’t bear to disturb Ema when she sees her really focusing on her work. After work, Aoi joins Midori, Shizuka and Kaori for a drink. No harm about talking of their big dream to make their own anime. At least they have the spirit. For now. Next morning, Kaori leaves for home and she doesn’t want to bother Aoi to walk her to the station since she is working.

Episode 9
The schedule for Exodus is going well. Except for episode 13 of course. The director still hasn’t come up with the storyboard yet. Will they have enough time to make it even if he miraculously completes it tomorrow? More stress for Aoi… Shizuka is going to make her voice acting debut. But it is only part of the background crowd voice (cheering in a baseball game). Shizuka is looking forward to it although this role goes uncredited. At first she was overdoing it so they took another take and this time she sounds so meek and toned down that you wonder if her voice would be even heard. Musani goes to talk to a book author in hopes of adapting 3rd Girls’ Fighter Wing into anime. At first he isn’t sure after hearing Kinoshita would be directing but Exodus is seemingly doing better. He needs time to discuss with his superiors. Midori and Misa join Shizuka for dinner. They talk about their work and if they would ever make their anime dream come true. Because Misa’s current role is just to design CG for tyres. And because the company has been requested to make a racing game, she might be just designing tyres for 3 years! She is very sick of it! She talks to the company president if there would be any chance for her to design anything else. Depending on her talent and her goals, it is possible. If she can’t picture her future, she won’t be able to start getting there. Honda goes to see Kinoshita’s progress. Almost there. But there is a problem. He feels there is something wrong with the ending. He can’t accept it! So now he wants to change it?! No choice, Honda calls scenario writer, Shimeji Maitake to help out. So with a little nudging, Kinoshita suddenly can picture what he wants as he passionately discloses the scenes as it starts popping in his head. Let the creative passion flow! I know some parts sound silly but if this is how he wants to end it, then so be it. And so Kinoshita now disciplines himself by locking in the cell and starts working on it.

Episode 10
The storyboards are finally going to get done and although the deadline for the final episode is 5 weeks, it isn’t enough time because on average an episode takes about 2 months! As Aoi is tasked to send some traditional central Asian music instrument to the sound recording studio, she is pulled in by a sound engineer to record several sound effects. It was a good diversion as Aoi learnt many things especially about this guy who has been doing this job for 30 years! When Aoi meets up with her friends, they learn Misa wants to quit the company although she has been there for less than a year. Misa hands in her resignation to the president early next morning and tells him of her goal to make stories with CG. Although she doesn’t have a particular place to go yet, she needs to keep trying. The president wants her to finish up her work first before leaving. Honda is so freaking relieved that Kinoshita has finished the storyboards that it is disgusting to see chubby men hug each other. Honda is happy that he can resign now. Wait. What?! And the fat guys do sumo pushing in that little cell… Later others find out about Honda’s plan. It seems he is going to follow his dream of opening a confectionary down the street. Aoi talks to Shimoyanagi about her friend who just quit a company and if there are any friends of his hiring. Aoi and Kinoshita attend the final recording session for Exodus. The voice actresses give him a flower bouquet as thanks and he is overcome with emotion. He joins in their party session and although he is only supposed to be there for an hour, he overstayed and kept ordering beers. Each time Aoi says it is time to go, it is always the last one. Finally she just pulls him away to return back to work where he should be hours ago. Yeah, you should see how many miscalls he got from Honda. Like a stalker… And Kinoshita is obviously drunk…

Episode 11
Aoi is in great mood is she gets the people to do the keyframes for the final episode. However there are a bunch of cuts needed to be completed and since they’re short on staff, she is going to make use of all the contacts and call up other animators for her. She’s going to need all the luck she can get because so far many (if not all) has turned her down due to busy, conflicting or some other reasons. While Aoi is waiting outside the house of an animator, she spots the president of an anime studio she once went for interview. Let’s say it didn’t go to well because the president used hard words to all interviewees. Like in her case, he asked about her passion in anime during high school but yet graduated from college in economics. Backup plan? Aoi was willing to do anything but he replied he hates that kind of answer the most because it shows one has no specific goal in mind. You can’t blame Aoi for getting dispirited. Thankfully the president doesn’t recognize her although she still panics upon seeing him. When she returns to HQ, Okitsu tells Aoi that she will be joining in an interview to recruit new staffs. Why her? Several staffs including Yano recommended her. So she could see all kinds of characters during the interview. Some passionate, some intense, some focused and some just plain weird. But this doesn’t bring good memories to her too since it reminds her of being in their shoes once. And what’s this? Tarou is testing their driving skills? I guess this is part of the job. But the old staffs know whoever they hire, they cannot be worse than Tarou! Spot on! Late that night, Yano suddenly sinks lifeless. The president knows something has happened to her father and tells her to go to him. As she lives quite far and the trains are not operating this late, I guess Tarou will have to send her. Don’t expect a depressed girl to drive herself, can’t you? Can’t be choosy now. Aoi endeavours in her keyframe recruiting spree so much so she interrupts on line producer Jun Watanabe’s mahjong game to ask him to recommend more people to her! His friend is willing to introduce the legendary Mitsuaki Kanno. She would love to and heads over to see him.

Episode 12
Watanabe and his friends continue to discuss about the arrangements for Musani to handle 3rd Girls’ Fighter Wing. The author has been approached by many great studios but is willing to put them on hold and bet on them. So bring the project plan ASAP. Aoi sees Kanno as he looks at the storyboards. He knows those remaining scenes are hardest to do. Watanabe calls for a staff meeting especially about Exodus’ final episode. Thanks to the limited time and manpower they have, he wants Kinoshita to change the storyboards or they will not make it. Honda is most vocal he is against this since this is what they’ve been working towards. Kinoshita is unsure when Aoi makes a suggestion. Kanno told her that Sugie could do it. Aoi learnt that Sugie was the one who animated her favourite anime, Andes Chucky. Aoi goes to Sugie’s home to request his help. After looking at the storyboard, he agrees to do it. Meeting with the animators, thanks to his vast experience, he can tell how long it takes to do the frames. But since they are rushing for time, he can do faster with rough keyframes. The other animators would gladly help do cleanup work. And so all the animators get to work and even take valuable notes from Sugie’s animating wisdom. Aoi is shocked when Sugie thanks her because had he not asked him to help, he would have ended his career as a dead weight. It makes him happy that he can still be of use and even happier that Aoi loves Andes Chucky. He thinks of holding a weekly workshop in the meeting room for younger animators. On the day of the deadline, it is a final round of checks and fixing. The most anxious one is the producer. Very anxious… Can they make it or not? And every redo or minor interruption sends his heart jumping out from his mouth. Finally everything passes after the preview and the staffs rejoice. To celebrate their hard work, everybody heads down to the pub. To add icing to the cake, Watanabe has the final product of the final episode for everyone to watch.

Episode 13
It is confirmed Musani will take on 3rd Wing as their next project. To Aoi’s surprise, she is being made production manager. This means she has to handle just about everything especially the schedules and character designs. She’s taking down all that needs to be done as said by Watanabe. And he just covered the basics! Gosh! It’s going to get busy! Tarou thought he got to be the director but Kinoshita is maintained as the director as many of the staffs that worked on Exodus will be retained. Aoi goes to talk to Kinoshita to put her foot down and lay down the rules. You don’t want the entire team to suffer thanks to his flip flop, eh? Kinoshita thought Ogasawara would be perfect for character design but she turns it down and claims she wants to refine her animating skills. She nominates Iguchi who feels this is too big a job for her to shoulder. But with Aoi pressing the right buttons, Iguchi takes up the challenge. Then they go see Yuuji Atsumi for art but this guy is so deep about clouds that Kinoshita is just lost. Shizuka gets selected for 3rd Wing’s audition and this boosts her morale. Aoi may need to go back to the drawing board because Watanabe reminds her that since the same staffs on Exodus are going to do 3rd Wing, she can’t just change the production team like that and they might get their rights cancelled. Watanabe then meets Shinsuke Chazawa, a publishing editor who is running 3rd Wing. The original author can’t be here since he is busy but Chazawa okays everything and believes it will be fine to go ahead without further discussion. He didn’t even take a look at the drafts and leaves as fast as he came (he was late too, by the way). And Kinoshita didn’t get to say a word… Aoi with Kinoshita and Maitake go to research some fighter jets as well as pilot terms that may differ in different countries. Kinoshita suggests putting off work for the last 2 episodes of this 1 cour series to wait on the source material as long as they can.

Episode 14
Kinoshita is at the voice audition for 3rd Wing and then later joins Aoi to request Atsumi for his help. Kinoshita isn’t optimistic about their chances but Atsumi surprisingly agrees to lend his talents after thinking about Aoi’s question she posed for him the last time. Daisuke Hiraoka joins Musani as the new production assistant and has been in the showbiz for 5 years in different studios. Meanwhile Kinoshita, Watanabe and a bunch of guys from other agencies are in a meeting to discuss the voice actresses for the regular roles. They start off with the main character and by votes it should go to Kyouko Suzuki. However the agency guys become vocal in what they want. One wants a veteran instead of an unknown, another wants one who has singing capabilities and the other is just judging from physical looks (what does butts have to do with voice acting skills?!). I don’t know. The way they argue for their picks seem to be turning this series into a comedy gold! You guys are funny! Read sarcasm, please. And don’t you think they just want their voice actresses based on their own interests? Anyway the role goes to Kyouko. Moving on to the next role… Oh God… Not again… Yeah, 14 damn hours discussing this! For the last role, Kinoshita noticed about Shizuka and convey his thoughts but eventually the team just went with somebody else. And yeah… The meeting finally ended in 2 in the morning!!! As Aoi is tasked to find out more about aircrafts, she thinks Midori who loves looking up things might help them again (she did a fantastic job with the diesel research for Exodus). The president suggests they call her over so they can talk. She is being informed about the information she needs to look up when scenarios are written and Midori can’t wait to start working part time here. When Aoi and her friends meet up, they are sad to learn Shizuka auditioned for a part in 3rd Wing but didn’t get the part. Because Aoi, Midori and Misa are all working on the 3rd Wing project. (Misa is now in a CG company designing crafts for the said anime). Aoi has come up with the production schedule. In-house they can handle 11 episodes but 2 needs to be outsourced. Hiraoka can introduce a studio who can take up the job. Aoi goes to Studio Taitanic and the place seems messy.

Episode 15
Musani is having a party to welcome newbies. Next year they’ll be celebrating their 40th anniversary so that is all the reason to do their best with 3rd Wing. This episode is mainly about the various brief meetings that the director and production manager must attend to see through the series. All are important and they do it like a ritual till the series ends. From the scenario meeting (which includes going out to the field and location because there is only how much you can get from books and internet – it gets even more intense since Atsumi is here and thus the discussion of what kind of sky and clouds are suitable), storyboard meeting (to set the direction and guidelines for the rest of the series – surprisingly Kinoshita finishes the first episode’s storyboard fast), animators meeting (how the ‘scribbles’ turn into proper drawings – Ai Kunogi is so tongue tied whenever Kinoshita asks her something and somehow Ema could ‘translate’ for her, Was it the bug no Kinoshita’s sleeve?), animation meet (to see how each episode will look), colour design meet (to see what colours best suit the characters and the scenes), CG meet (the planes will be animated in CG) and soundtrack meet (songs for the series and it is decided to play music to match the emotions and not the scenes). Tarou takes Tsubaki Andou and Sara Satou on the routes they need to go to collect work from keyframe animators who work from home. Aoi also briefs them about the charts and schedules that they have to update and keep in check daily. Yano is still on leave to tend to her father and just mentioning that name strikes fear to Tarou… Aoi leaves him hanging by not telling him when she’s coming back. Everything seems to be going fine and at full force till Watanabe receives a very bad news. He tells Aoi to stop all work immediately because the author wants a retake for every character. Everything needs to be redone again.

Episode 16
The author disagrees with the character design. Looks like Chazawa lied about getting his approval. Since the author is vague in what he wants, they’ll have to redo the designs but themselves. Rejected again. Even calling Chazawa doesn’t yield anything better. He just tells them it is their job to figure it out. But the more Iguchi redesigns the characters, the more it gets worse from the author’s perception. Naturally it gets to her but she isn’t totally giving up as she is starting to like the characters and that she can’t disappoint Ogasawara who entrusted this to her. As Kinoshita wants to focus on flashy visuals, he tells every department in what they do as the lead. Isn’t that like being a playboy flirting with multiple girls? But Iguchi’s morale deteriorates as he can’t see how to go about it anymore. This is when Ogasawara steps in to lecture Kinoshita, Watanabe and Aoi for abandoning Iguchi and leaving her to deal with everything. Sure, the author didn’t make it clear but they aren’t supporting her and putting the pressure load on her. It’s like they’re being lazy and leaving everything to her. And if the guys think of inviting her out for lunch, that’s not their job! Their job is to facilitate an environment where she can work without burden, determine what the author really wants and help Iguchi figure out how to adjust to designs. Ogasawara then takes Iguchi, Aoi and Ema to a batting centre, her place to relief stress. While the girls miss everything, Ogasawara perfectly bats and pitches every shot with precision and style! So much so Aoi might be breaking the fourth wall thinking this can be turn into some sort of anime! Ogasawara then tells her ironic background. She’s not from a baseball club but the Go club. She used to wear t-shirts and jeans. Her character designs always get rejected and she thought she was strong enough to weather through it. Apparently not. Like any other human being especially an artist, she has a sensitive and vulnerable heart. So she changed her image and donned this goth loli outfit as her ‘battle armour’. So happen this outfit design was from the heroine she drew. This change made her stronger. Going back to the root of the problem why the author rejected them, they believe his definition of cuteness may differ. Kinoshita admits they were trying to design a more moe character. Iguchi cosplays as the character and starts her redesigning. Now they need the editor’s approval. As usual, busy. Playing golf. His stroke gave him away so Watanabe knows where he is and drags him to get direct feedback from the author. And the great news we’ve all been waiting: Approved!!!

Episode 17
3rd Wing’s anime has finally been announced public. Honda visits Musani and he has slimmed down! So all the stress made him fat and not the cake?! I’m sure Kinoshita is jealous about their ‘chubby alliance’. More bad news for Musani. Chazawa suddenly calls about the author wanting a PV for the Manga Festival. He is sure he told them but I can tell you nobody heard about it. This means time is running out for them to do the PV. Satou and Andou go around the departments seeking their help to finish their part for the PV. But since they’re being blunt, they rather talk to Aoi. Kunogi is quite attached to Ema and learns a lot from her. Still can’t eke out a decent sentence? Shizuka is supposed to only be the voice over for some piggy mascot at a children’s live event. But the person behind the mascot is sick so Shizuka does a daring try to act and voice at the same time. It works out very well and a hit among the kids. Because Hiraoka doesn’t join morning meetings and comes in whenever he wants, Aoi talks to him about the need to do so or else he’ll keep missing on updated stuffs. Later Aoi gets a call from Satou that she got lost on some highway after picking up keyframes. She’s panicking since her handphone battery died. After describing the landmarks, Aoi uses Google Map to guide her back. Subsequently Andou calls. What’s the problem this time? Looks like she fell asleep in the train and missed her stop! Don’t worry, both girls come back in time and intact and learn a valuable lesson. Musani finishes the PV in time and have their traditional party to view it. Looking good.

Episode 18
Aoi is in the recording session meeting the seiyuus for the first time. With Kinoshita and producer, Koutarou Katsuragi, they introduce themselves and say a word or two for motivation. Suzuki who voices the main character has to stay back and retake her lines since she sounded so different from the audition. Aoi tries to help and give her encouragement but it is the sound engineer producer that has her into the groove by talking to her normally and then using those words and expressions to say in her lines. Aoi goes to look for Masahiro Ookura in some bar to hire his talent to draw a certain scene. He is drunk of course and on a whim accepts the job. So the next day with Atsumi (who is an admirer of Ookura) go to see him, that guy doesn’t remember who she is! After much reminder and the name card she gave him yesterday, finally he does. But now he declines the job! He is trying to give excuses that nobody wants an old geezer doing hand drawn animation as they are now using CGI. He even tries to pass on the job to Atsumi to do it himself if his goal is to surpass him. When Aoi gives him dorayaki souvenirs from Musani president, Masato Marukawa, Ookura gets excited and eats them. He finds out too late and accuses her of baiting him that the snacks were from Marukawa without telling him first. Who opened it without asking? I suppose the nostalgia factor has Ookura reconsider his decision so he agrees to accept the job. Aoi gets all the cuts that Taitanic has delayed for Kinoshita to check. That guy isn’t going to have a break… But they were all so awful and requests ignored, they had to call them and the episode director just to redo it. All seems fine when he does. But soon the problems for Aoi start compounding. Ookura has gone ‘missing’ (assuming to be on a break) and can’t be reached by his handphone, that episode director suddenly quits and some other problems that you can be sure that Tarou has a hand in screwing up one of them. Aoi is close to breaking down. Panic setting in. Of course she can take things one step at a time but there is a limit to that too. All that is left is to get an episode director replacement. She is running out of ideas and names for help. Who? WHO?! Tell her, please! And then… Yano returns! Lastly, we see Ookura in the rural countryside beginning his scenic sketch.

Episode 19
Yano can see Aoi is in a mess and is desperate for a switch. But she tells her to go home and rest. The sleep helps especially with the scented candle souvenir Yano bought for her. But the production problem remains. Don’t worry. Yano has got a plan. She has Hiraoka drive her to Taitanic where she becomes their temporary production assistant to lay out the schedules. If they don’t do it, somebody will, right? Seems Yano and Hiraoka know each other. Hiraoka’s clashing personality has made him change several jobs. Although he calls Aoi an amateur and still has that passion, for him that sort of charm died out less than a year. Yano later goes to convince Hiroshi Iketani to be their episode director. This guy is a hermit and jobless but before he knows it, Yano already leaves him the storyboard for him to check and says Kinoshita is counting on him. Marukawa and Aoi head over to the old abandoned Musashino Studios to pick up something. Looks like time stopped there after the studio closed down after it went bankrupt. Aoi sees all the cell work and how animation was done in the old days. She is delighted to see a cell of Andes Chucky. She feels sad that if today’s anime has improved because she seems to be focused on the minor problems instead of making the anime great. Marukawa also mentions anime back then had its fair share of problems. Aoi is like blasted back to the past as she sees the studio in its heydays. Marukawa is a hipster?! There is Sugie in the team too and Ookura as the newbie who caused a stir when he designed the blizzard scene for Andes Chucky differently. After much deliberation, the entire team redo all their settings for this scene. Aoi is brought to tears seeing an old episode of her favourite anime. Marukawa talks a little about how everyone broke up after the studio went bust and how time just flew by. How does Aoi feel about anime today? She’s having fun and is going to make great animes. That’s the spirit. So I suppose this means becoming Ema’s model as she tries to sketch facial expressions when one eats something sour. Yeah well, keep eating those sour plums… Yano brings Iketani to meet Kinoshita. And here comes all the workload as an episode director… Feeling afraid? When Aoi learns Ookura has returned, she goes to see him and sees all the beautiful sceneries he painted. He must have gathered a lot of materials. Ookura briefly tells her about his wandering life and how he ended up in the art job of the anime industry. Before he knew it, 40 years has passed. Aoi is reduced to tears seeing his beautiful work.

Episode 20
Iketani tries to escape but Yano is waiting! Don’t worry. She won’t scold you. Just a gentle reminder to complete your work. With a smile. Later he does it again but Yano sure knows where to wait! Aoi and the rest are discussing the plot for the final episode considering the direction of the penultimate episode. This doesn’t sit well with Maitake since it would mean a strict deadline for him. They got distracted talking about why they make anime. Aoi is puzzled that Midori is taking assignments from Maitake. At first Midori wanted to become his apprentice to train to become a writer but since that is not his policy, he gave her assignments instead. Later when Midori passes by Hiraoka, he starts chiding her just because she is a girl and starts flashing a smile, she gets the job. How to take out her depression? Poor girl adlibs people’s conversation on the train. Of course we know she takes her job seriously. When Hiraoka sees Madoka for the layout checks and cuts, Madoka wants everything to be redone again despite this would only put more work on himself. Madoka couldn’t be happier if those who drew this quit. Then everything spirals downwards. Madoka reprimands Hiraoka that everyone he recommends does a sloppy job and they think they’re like king of the office. Shouting turns violent as they start throwing things. Tarou as usual who just walked in without a care almost hot hit by a metal rod had not Okitsu strike it away! They got reprimanded by her and later Marukawa talks to Hiraoka that despite his personality, he still cares because why get so worked up if Madoka said something off the mark? Subsequently Hiraoka apologizes to Madoka. Kunogi now knows where Ema lives! Oh God! Leecher for life?! Well, Aoi told her so she’s here to give some sweet potatoes as thanks. Still can’t eke out a decent sentence? Another round for Aoi and the rest to discuss the final episode’s plot and using emotions to convey it.

Episode 21
Iketani is trying to be the great escapist but whatever he does, Yano is always waiting. There is even this mini underground shaft escape. No light of hope waiting at the end. Only Yano of despair! Hisamitsu Isokawa, the CEO of his own anime production company, AC Tsuchinoko drops by Musani personally to hand Aoi cuts from an episode. This guy is a real joker. Joking-cum-shocking Andou and Satou that he is Aoi’s girlfriend and trying to get Andou to work for his understaffed company. He knows Hiraoka and Yano as they went to the same school. Hiraoka isn’t too thrilled to see him. Perhaps one of the best perks of the job is sometimes how fun it can be. Like Misa who is tasked to design the movements of a pilot in the cockpit, she calls Shizuka and Ema to ride the roller coaster with her to see their reactions. They have to sit the ride a few times. Scary or fun? Care for another run? On the night 3rd Wing debuts on TV, most of the Musani staffs gather as usual to watch it. Tarou brags his first episode hard work, blood sweat and tears. Nobody wants to listen to you. Aoi hits a major problem when Segawa complains about Hiraoka. She wants him off the episodes she works on because the keyframes he sends in are sloppy and he tends to pile up all the work and give it to her at one go. She is serious about this that she’s starting to think Tarou might be the better alternative!!! Aoi talks to Hiraoka about focusing on the quality instead of rushing to complete it but Hiraoka argues back about animators taking their sweet time and thus affecting the schedule. When this happens it is always the production assistant’s fault. He even threatens to replace him if she wishes. Aoi talks to Yano about Hiraoka. They were all passionate about making anime. But surprisingly Isokawa was the slacker and Hiraoka the hard working passionate guy. What happened? Yeah. Reality sucks, right? Can you blame him for turning out like that? Later Aoi goes to talk to Isokawa. He finds out Honda has gone to start his confectionery in which he feels a bit sad because Honda helped him in starting out this company and gave a few contracts as start. Maybe just like everyone else, their enthusiasm wanes. Isokawa continues about the reason he created this company as well as the importance of the production and creative staff finding a common goal they can share. Aoi tells Hiraoka to continue working while she tries to convince Segawa. And please talk to the keyframe animators and communicate with them better. But there’s a big piece of good news. Kinoshita finishes his storyboard for the final episode in just 3 weeks! But the deadline is just there. Just that they’re motivated to head straight for the finish.

Episode 22
Aoi hopes Iguchi can also be the animation director for the final episode but since she is also swamped with other work, an assistant would be much welcomed. At first Aoi wanted to suggest Ogasawara but surprisingly Iguchi suggests Ema seeing how much she has improved. However she is still suffering from low self confidence so Aoi wants her to think hard about this. Aoi still needs to come up with a backup plan if Ema refuses. Would Segawa take the job? Asking her, Segawa asks back if Aoi is able to take all the responsibility. After assuring all that sloppiness that Hiraoka brought in won’t happen again, Segawa who initially wanted to refuse, accepts it since Aoi convinced her. Ema sees Midori scripting sound effects for the storyboard. Instead of being overwhelmed, she is excited as it is so much fun. Then there is this odd scene of Tarou and Hiraoka going out to drink together. The former is all set for it but Hiraoka has that I-wish-I-wasn’t-here look. But we find out how Hiraoka got this bitter personality. He worked so hard and with all the delays and retakes, he is just caught in between everything. Tarou is touched by his story. Hiraoka wants to quit after this but Tarou won’t let him. Aren’t they buddies who will rule the world?! Says who?! Misa talks to Ema about some keyframe animations between hand drawn and CGI. You jealous, Kunogi? As Ema is still having low self esteem problems and in a dilemma whether to become Iguchi’s assistant, Sugie tells her to go for it because it is an opportunity to learn. With that, Ema accepts the job. This also somewhat has a domino effect on Kunogi. For the first time, Kunogi is called to the meeting for the final episode. All by herself! Can she finally say something? Can she?! YES! Finally! Even if it’s a short sentence about panties, the guys are freaking surprised and even respond in a dramatic way as her! After the final recording session for the last episode is finished, it is supposed to be a teary happy ending when suddenly a call from Chazawa saying the author is totally upset with the final storyboard and has scrapped everything!!! FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 23
Gloom and doom. Better break it to Kinoshita who is happily partying away. Thankfully he gets tricked to go back to work. Katsuragi and Watanabe go to renegotiate with Chazawa but he twists every word he could and a no means no. Musani has to face the dark reality of redoing it everything again with very limited time and compromising quality. As the author wants the final episode to follow his original storyline whereby the main character doesn’t fly again after her comrade dies, it was the opposite in their original anime ending. Hiraoka mentions that this isn’t the first time this author’s works got adapted. There was one anime that was, it was just so crazy and didn’t follow the original faithfully even the author got panned. Honda visits to give Kinoshita some hope (that big cake helps). Then Kinoshita sees the author’s direct email address and sends one. Surprisingly he gets an instant reply to meet up. And so here Kinoshita is outside the publishing office. He is taking this final battle literally, isn’t he? That cowboy getup… With Chazawa and the other editors trying to stop him from seeing the author, Kinoshita’s other allies also help out to keep them at bay. Sometimes it is good to be chubby because Kinoshita used his flabby belly as a power tool to get past everyone to the final boss, the author Takezou Nogame. He of course instantly rejects Kinoshita’s idea and wants it redone. Both sides argue their points. At some point, they start to converge their ideas and work together to where the plot should head next. Finally they reach a conclusion that the main character should fly again with a reason of the deceased character’s little sister. Nogame will send him more details about this later and admits he never had so much fun with a company adapting his work. When his editors finally enter, Nogame is furious at Chazawa for keeping him in the dark. Yeah, we have already guessed it he didn’t consult Nogame after all. Don’t give excuses. You’re fired! With Kinoshita relaying the good news to his production team, they iron out a few tweaks. But for the voice acting part for the little sister, who should they get? Kinoshita hears the audition tapes again. Guess who gets the part? Shizuka! Boy, is Aoi surprised to see her. She plays her short part to perfection that it brings Aoi to tears! No kidding!

Episode 24
Despite only 3 weeks to the final episode, they are rushing for final checks and tweaking. Some of the highlights include Segawa moving in to work at Musani office till the end of the project, Ema takes her team on a field trip to a cow farm to animate the final cow scenes and a typo in during a dubbing take but the recording master easily fixes it. Despite the staffs rejoice that the editing completes the entire project, the last stretch is most daunting. Because it is the delivery of the tapes to the broadcasting stations. The staffs divide themselves to which station they will deliver. In the last mad dash to make it before the deadline, we see them taking all sorts of automobiles and transport to reach their destination. Katsuragi is panicking all the way and it makes him look funny. Okitsu volunteers to take the tape to the furthest station and her drifting has a line of police hot on her tail! Luckily she knows the police chief! Bad weather and traffic jam hinder Aoi’s journey so she makes the final stretch on foot. Run, girl. Run! And yes! She makes it! On the way back, she contemplates her next step. Since she loves anime, she will continue to make them. Musani is having an elaborate party with almost everyone involved in the project attending. Kinoshita is suddenly made to give his speech but with Aoi tumbling in late, he passes the microphone to her. She thanks everybody for making this happen and hopes to continue bringing more anime into people’s lives. Now bottom’s up everybody! Watanabe talks to Katsuragi that they have secured 2 animes for next season. One of them being the very popular, wait for it… Two Piece! Oh, you crack me up! Aoi is with her all friends for the first time since high school. With their increased knowledge and ‘power up’, they feel they have what it takes to make The Divines even better. They can even imagine it like real. Just like old times, they make a doughnut vow on it.

OVA 1
If you have an anime about an anime studio making animes, how much more fun would it be to see an episode that they animated? This is what the first OVA is about and takes a look at the first full episode of Exodus. Akane, Aya and Arupin are members of the small idol unit, Tracy. You know that they’re not famous as they’re singing to empty seats at an amusement park and their changing room is the toilet! Serious! Their social media followers are so paltry that you might think they might have just mistakenly stumbled onto their videos or something. They talk about stuffs and their future, especially their manager, Taguchi who wasn’t even at their show. Maybe it is because he is busy handling the other idol unit, Ginger who is more famous and has more followers. And Tracy is stuck with going to promote some supermarket store in their maid outfit as their next gig. Akane has decided that she is going to do it and leaves. Arupin worries that she might quit Tracy and Aya too feels that if she does that, she will also follow. When Arupin goes to find Akane, she asks a janitor lady who finds it funny that a similar girl also asked to same question. She thinks they’re involved in some love triangle with Taguchi. Arupin sees Akane running about ahead. When she catches up, she sees Taguchi’s dead body! OMG! Why did she pick up the knife?! Taguchi did leave his blood clue but the initial ‘A’ could mean anyone of them. Did Akane mean to kill him on what she has decided? Aya sees this and gets the wrong idea. Same case when Akane comes into the picture. Then a staff sees this and panics. The alarm is sounded. So what do the girls do? Take a deep breath and calm down… Taguchi’s handphone rings. Akane answers and it seems it is her sister (who is also part of the production team). They explain what is going on and can confirm that they didn’t kill Taguchi. Sister’s idea is for them to run away and then formulate a strategy to catch the culprit.

As they escape and rest outside the nearby park, they see their social media followers spiking through the roof! They have become hot topic on the internet and trending right now! All for the wrong reasons? Akane clears the air that what she has decided to do was to talk to Taguchi to give them better jobs or transfer them to a different manager. Otherwise they quit. As they talk of their dream to sing in this dome, the crowd starts to recognize them. Sister guides them to the underground where she has prepared a bike and a secured phone for them to escape. Inspector Miho Koigakubo is confident this will be her case that will make her shine is on the hot trail of Tracy. The trio ride out into the streets as the police are not far behind. They block the bridge but they get scared and gave them way when Aya points a gun and fires a warning shot (earlier on stolen from a bungling policeman). Then they hope off the bridge and onto a dump tugboat. They missed their mark a little and fell into the sea. For the first time they see each other without makeup and hardly recognize each other! The janitor lady is revealed to be the culprit behind the setup and although things didn’t go well as planned, this is not the end yet. And so the Tracy trio continue their worldwide run till they can clear their name with Koigakubo hot on their ass.

OVA 2
This time it is the first episode of 3rd Wing’s turn. We start off with a few technical terms of comparisons between the few fighter jets of our main casts. If they sound like high school girls’ talk, please be informed that they are the (in)famous 307 Aerial Squad of the Chofu Base. The squad AKA Hell Alice that contains the (in)famous pilot ace known as Ice Doll. Along with the multi-national fighter squads from around the world, they approach a huge towering top-like structure made by the mysterious Builders for their next mission. Lots of cool CGI jet fighter dog fights here. Especially from Aria Hitotose AKA Ice Doll who is such a pro in taking out her enemies like as though she’s a machine. The main team is supposed to retrieve some girl in this towering base but they were all wiped out in an ambush. This tragedy unfolding before Aria reminds her of a similar tragedy in her past. Recklessly, she decides to complete the retrieval mission. She manages to do so but the enemy is hot on her tail in trying to take her down and take back the girl. Her superior sacrifices herself to protect her from the enemy’s firing path. With the retrieval mission a success, the fighters leave and return to base. Some comrades commented on Aria’s icy personality because she continued to act normal and didn’t shed tears for her superior’s death, hence her nickname. However the retrieved girl didn’t think so because Aria was in pain, crying all the time. She thanks her for saving her, causing Aria to cry harder. She will always remember her saviour’s name. However she doesn’t remember hers. Holy cow. Amnesiac?! It is briefly explained about Builders who mysteriously built those ever growing towers around the world that jams all form of electronics. This is perhaps why only jet fighters from the 70’s can have a fighting chance against them as they lack all those electronics in today’s fighter jets. Back at base, the boss of 307 Aerial Squad introduces them to a new member: Catherine “Cathy” Weller. That amnesiac girl? So did she get her memories back? Not quite. The only thing she remembers is how to pilot a plane and thus she wanted to join this squad. Since it will be troublesome not to have a name, she took the liberty to call herself by this name. She is also instructed to live with Aria. Lots of teasing from this American girl and you can see Aria putting a myriad of blushing faces that you would normally never see. Then the alert sounds. The enemy is approaching so our girls make a sortie to engage the enemy.

Running On Passion!
Well, it was quite an interesting insight indeed and well done. Unless you are not into the industry or your curiosity isn’t there, you might find this a boring watch but personally for me who has been watching anime for around a decade, this brings a lot of enlightenment. It is good to know that producing a weekly anime can be this tough sh*t. Everything from A to Z needs to be think of and the slight delay along the line can actually hinder and jeopardize a single episode. Now I’m so ‘scared’ of even thinking of working in the anime industry! No kidding! I don’t think I have enough time to spare if I end up working like that! I may need to extend my life. No, clone myself! Argh! Oh anime production, why do you have to be this ‘scary’? But at least I know all the sh*t that has been gone through. And now I am ‘forced’ to appreciate or at least think for a second the hard work put into every anime no matter how crappy they are. That’s a good thing, right?

It is very eye opening to see all the process down the line in making just a single episode. Although it is not shown in chronological order or a systematic way, seeing the way that a production assistant goes through daily to check the schedules and following up on every department is a really one truly respectable and great feat. The schedule could be worse than a personal assistant of a CEO of an international conglomerate! Some departments explain more in detail their process and some just breezes through but the important thing is that each of the departments is essential in making just that one episode. If they really want to go into the deep process of every section, I think this anime would be expanded to a couple of more seasons. It might be a good and bad thing because you get to learn more about the process behind the scenes but when you are watching such for so long, it makes you feel like you’re watching a documentary instead of an anime that is supposed to be both educational and fun at the same time. So I think that having certain departments just making brief and simple cameos are just the right tonic and pace for this series. While many of the process are realistic, there are some scenes which I feel are exaggerated like the drifting driving (don’t ever do this no matter how tight your deadline is!) and Kinoshita’s ‘battle’ to see Nogame. All this is of course for comedic effect and make the series less boring.

Despite the overwhelming characters, it is unfair for me to say that some of them lack the deserved screen time. The way they spammed all the staffs in the first episode was already ‘scary’. And as the series progresses, you’ll meet even more people from inside and outside the production line. It makes you wonder if you could ever remember them all. Heck, I don’t think I managed to. In fact, I think everyone in the line from top to bottom are just amazing doing their stuffs and then everybody putting it all together. All of the characters feel like somebody in the workforce we can related to. There is always the big mouth and show off. The joker kind is always there too. The lazy slacker who is always missing from work. Then there is the quiet and reserved person. Not to mention those that are very good mentors and very good at what they and you respect them for it. And of course the kind of colleagues that we hate most are those with such arrogant, nasty and f*cked up attitudes. You don’t see it here in this anime but Hiraoka’s unfriendly behaviour comes close to that. Essentially with a diversified work force with so many personalities, the bottom line is that everybody needs to work together to get things done and I believe this is what this anime and this Musani is trying to show us. It is not godly miracles or anything. It is solely the hard work, dedication and passion of these people who made it possible. So once again, let me say hats off to these people with nerves of steel doing something that I would never ever find myself doing.

Many of the characters in this anime you will find likeable. Like Aoi as the main character is a pretty steadfast girl. Like many of us being put in such a demanding and important position, instead of complaining or having negativity (on several occasions she might find things impossible but that is just temporary till she finds her motivation back up again), you see her take on the challenge. Helming that post at such a young age, I believe she’ll gain lots of valuable experience and if this was a game, she’ll level up in no time and do greater stuffs and reach greater heights in no time. There are many points where Aoi is on the verge of breaking down and thoughts of giving up are too tempting. What doesn’t kill her makes her stronger. She is living proof of that. Sometimes I think her stress and thoughts are personified as a couple of imaginary characters, Lolo the white bear and Mimsy the pirate goth girl. They make more appearance in the second half of the series and while mostly playing the role in explaining certain processes and all. Sometimes they give Aoi the much needed motivation to push ahead. Well, I think most of us have this kind of inner thoughts that make us go further when we’re about to give up.

It is also great to see that her high school anime buddies are also now working towards their common goal and making their dream come true. Slowly but surely. Ema who started out with very low self esteem has now improved a lot especially in her drawing and even has her own style (and an apprentice who sticks to her like a leech!). Misa has gotten better in her CG expertise while Midori’s knowledge and writing skills are increasing at an alarming rate. Shizuka might seem to be not heading anywhere due to the lack of roles and the unsuccessful auditions she attends. But she never gives up nor loses sight of her goal. And could this minor role in 3rd Wing be the big break? Despite you may notice the repetitiveness of the character development (mainly trying to hone better their skills), it never gets boring because it showcases that the character has some room for improvements.

If you look at the bunch of staffs at Musani, you can surely see that they are a motley crew of misfits banding together to produce a show. Tarou is a good person for laughs (and one of the few reasons preventing this series to be a bore) because he talks big and even if something is his fault (which usually is), he still slacks and continues to be nonchalant. I suppose that this guy does get his job done. Otherwise why would he still be around instead of getting fired? Still he is the kind of joker that even laughs in the face and times of danger. The only person who can put him down is Yano. She has given Aoi lots of handy tips to stay top of her game. She’s pretty cool and calm when it comes down to it. If she wasn’t in the anime industry, she could be a motivation speaker or stress relief advisor. Lots of us can be categorized as Hiraoka. Most of us started out as passionate with big goals but throughout the years, the stress and everything could have burnt us out. So you can’t really blame him when he puts up that sourpuss attitude and just doing the bare minimum to get things done. Luckily for him, his colleagues are understanding enough and he is sensible enough to change his ways. Nothing that drastic but at least something tolerable.

Then there are those big guys like Kinoshita, the kind of person who needs lots of motivation and easily loses them. This guy is the king of procrastinating if somebody doesn’t put his foot down and put him back in line. So many times Musani could have fallen in danger thanks to him putting off his work but eventually even guys like him can turn around. Most companies would also have ‘the guy with the connections’, Watanabe. This is the kind of person you need to get your deals done with cool and suave PR tactics. And then Katsuragi, this guy is like living on the edge. He has got this panicky attitude that any bad news could send this guy into heart attack. Please don’t scare this guy. Colleagues come and go and some like Honda would sometimes pay his respects by visiting the company from time to time. Some you’ll never heard of again like Ochiai but since he is still working around in the same industry, you’ll hear about him from time to time.

Cool veterans like Sugie provide valuable advices from their years of experience. Iguchi and Ogasawara are also very good in what they do so learn as much as possible. Kunogi is funny because of her inability to string decent proper sentences so much so it feels like Ema knows her so well that she could read her mind and finish her sentences. It’s like she’s her mom! Even if she still stammers and could say a few words of her own, at least she’s trying. Argh! There are so many nice and memorable characters that I can’t list them all here. Sorry about that. I got a writer’s block just trying to think about it.

If you noticed that Musani’s president, Marukawa may look like a senile old doofus (that eternal grin of his may make him look like a silly old fool) who does nothing ‘stressful’ around the office except cooking for the staff. But I think he is as important as all the animators and production staffs as well. No doubt he is the head of this studio but he takes care of them well. Don’t think that cooking is something trivial. When the staffs are stressed and having emergency meetings to figure things out, nothing like a little home cooked snacks to freshen up and stimulate the brain once again. Don’t write off Okitsu as just someone who works from the typical 9 to 5. She is in fact the most resourceful person being able to help out in the 11th hour. It’s good to have such people by your side. If I may point out the only ‘antagonist’ in the series goes to Chazawa as his high and mighty attitude has been the source of lots of trouble for Musani. Good thing he got fired.

As an anime that produces anime, the art style and the animation are reasonably good. It shows that being simplistic can still bring out the vibrant feel and you don’t need to resort to flashy exaggerated visuals to catch your attention. There might not be very fast action scenes or even elaborate backgrounds but I believe that there are lots of detail and important minor visual stuffs that they put in during some scenes like when we see the artists animating on paper or part of the computer effects. It would be very ironic if an anime about making animes didn’t put enough decent quality into the production whereas in the anime, the studio tries its best to strive for quality. This might be trivial put I just want to point out that somehow I feel that the character designs differ between male and female. What I mean is that while most of the females have that wide eyed bishoujo anime look, many of the guys in the production look more ‘real’. Take a look at guys like Kinoshita, Katsuragi and Yamada have this ‘realism’ look. Big. Chubby. Otaku-like. Whereas many of the females like Aoi and her friends do look pretty enough even though they’re under a lot of stress. Of course there are pretty guys like Watanabe and even Hiraoka himself.

I wonder if the in-anime like Exodus and 3rd Wing will get their own anime adaptation because watching their first episode seems interesting and quite promising. Especially with 3rd Wing as it has all that nail biting action as well as cool CGI effects. Not to mention a main character maid! Yahoo! Ahem… If they do, it won’t be the first time that an anime has turned its in-anime into its own series. Genshiken did it before with its Kujibiki Unbalance. Maybe if that ever happens, it will be quite some time in the future as I believe those animes are not based on any actual manga and were just created inside the anime for the plot and setting of the main one. Personally, I think if they want to make another sequel to Shirobako, they should make these animes instead because another season of watching Musani stressing out over the same thing may get boring since we are already aware of the ‘vicious cycle’.

With so many characters, some come and go, the cast list is a very extensive one. And I mean a very long list. Though, there are a handful of seiyuus that voice multiple roles. Especially some that starred as themselves. Well, not exactly. Their names are slightly modified in the anime but you can tell it is them (and then give out a little grin) and that they sound familiar. For instance, Mai Nakahara, Shizuka Itou and Ai Kayano other than voicing some of the staffs in Musani, also make their cameo as ‘themselves’. Generally, the voice acting is as good as the art and they fit the characters very well and give them their unique personality. The opening and ending themes are pretty decent too. Colorful Box by Yoko Ishida is the first opening theme while Animetic Love Letter by the trio of Juri Kimura, Haruka Yoshimura and Haruka Chisuga is the second. Masami Okui sings Treasure Box as the first ending theme and Aoi and friends get to sing Platinum Jet as Donut@Quintet for the second ending theme which is pretty cute with lines that go, ”Neru na luna~”. Some of the other special themes for the in-anime are also fun to listen like the Andes Chucky theme song as well as the Exodus’ cutesy idol lyrics and 3rd Wing’s anime rock based outfits.

Overall, this anime is very well done and a very good insight and eye opener to the world of producing anime. One thing good about this series is that it doesn’t glorify or idolize the anime production line and all that we have seen. You really need pure raw passion to get through this kind of work. Though, I get the feeling that in real life, the stress and hardship is much more severe than this. Because despite all the hardships that we have seen Musani gone through, there is still a feel good ending to it all. After all, this is still an anime so it doesn’t hurt to have a little satisfying feel to it. In the real world, I am assuming that many would have gone crazy or losing that spark after putting in such long demanding hours as opposed to see everyone smiling here! Making this series even more interesting is the fact that it is not based on any manga/novel like Bakuman or Sore Ga Seiyuu or game like Love Get Chu. An original anime about making anime and it does keep things fresh. Of course there are some little trivia to spot from other parodies of other animes like Kill La Kill, Gundam, Crayon Shin Chan and Space Runaway Ideon.

This anime serves as a good wakeup call and reminder with the ever expanding influence of anime around the world. This show is good for all anime enthusiast as well as those who want to get into similar industries. And then you decide if this is really what you want and willing to sacrifice before you jump onto the bandwagon. While you can still criticize any animes you see and deem they are not up to par by your standards, the most important thing is to appreciate what has been done to bring those animations to life. It is the equivalent of saying grace before every meal. It is without a doubt that all kinds of anime, great or crappy, epic or fail, it proves that the industry is capable of creating and making dreams come true. Therefore I salute to all those in making animes and persevering through it all. But still, a crappy anime is still a crappy anime no matter how many justifications you give. An excuse for me to go back criticizing sh*tty animes and skip this ‘appreciation’ process. Heh. I’m human after all.

Non Non Biyori Repeat

January 9, 2016

It is time to take a break from all that violence, sex, nonsense, fart jokes, slapstick humour, ecchi, blood, killing, insensitive jokes, moe overdose and whatever stuffs you can think off that are inappropriate but allow it because of our guilty pleasure thinking it is just confined to the TV screen. This means we need an anime that is purely ‘cleansing’ out soul without all that corruption. Shows like Tamayura. But today, it isn’t that series but another ‘rival’. I suppose a show like this too can have its charm as this is already the second season. Yes, boys and girls. Non Non Biyori Repeat is back but do not expect anything new and out of the ordinary. Just your usual countryside girls living the simple life free from all that modern day crap and showing us how they can still have fun without all that mindless addiction we have for entertainment today. Ah yes, the true meaning of living. The question is, can you go back to all that modern conveniences after watching this sequel?

Episode 1
Probably an episode that takes place even before the first season. Renge is happy to receive a new bag from grandma. Because when spring comes, she will be a first grader. Hikage accompanies Renge to school and perhaps teaches her some of those society stuffs. Like giving her money for the bus because she’ll have to pay the child fare rate. Natsumi and Komari also tell her about the entrance ceremony so Renge wants to practice her name being called out. Trying to make it sound formal, eh? As she cannot enter class yet, she explores the school with that little branch she found (she calls it some sort of legendary sword, I think) and wonders if she has what it takes to be a first grader. Oh yeah. At a tender young age, she’s already worrying about such ‘big’ stuffs. Later as Renge accompanies Hikage to the train station as she has to leave for Tokyo, Hikage shows off her new handphone that is able to take pictures and more. On board, Hikage thought Renge was calling out to her for being lonely. Actually she forgot to take back her handphone. Oh sh*t!!! Train can’t stop! She’s gone… Back home, Kazuho gives her a nice shirt for the opening ceremony. Renge is excited of this haute couture. Wow. She knows how to use that word? Well, she doesn’t know what it means. Me too. Next day as Renge arrives at school, the ceremony is so low-key that Natsumi and Komari are handling it. They welcome her into the classroom which also serves as the hall for the ceremony. As she sings the school’s anthem, we get to see the beautiful sceneries of the countryside. Renge is given a stationery set and is impressed when she gets her recorder. Don’t need the legendary sword anymore, eh? Meanwhile, Hotaru’s family just moved in as she wonders if she can make any friends.

Episode 2
Hotaru introduces herself in class. Of course the rest sure has weird questions. And Renge? Nyanpasu! The girls teach Hotaru how to play ruler wars. I guess it’s a simple game that countryside kids play in class instead of their handphones. As dramatic as the game may be, it also come with equally dramatic move names. When Suguru is invited to play, he shows them the big master he is as he dominates the field. The girls cooperate to take him down but he is no pushover. Finally a suicide move has him go out of the game. Hotaru loves this game and wants to try again. See? You don’t need game apps to be entertained, right? When Hotaru takes her dog, Pechi out for a walk, soon she realizes that she has become lost. What is worse for a new girl to be lost in a countryside? Nobody to ask for directions! Okay. Time to hit the panic button. Suddenly Pechi takes a dash through the forest before shortly emerging out to another path. Suguru just happened to pass by as Pechi ‘attacks’ him. Ah, back to civilization, I guess. That night, only Hotaru and Komari head to the hills to watch the stars since Natsumi is asleep and Renge’s grandma is visiting. I thought it was freaking odd that a lone vending machine was right smack in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully nothing creepy about it. Komari buys a drink and later loses its cap along the way. As they admire the stars, I suppose they don’t know about the constellations but they’re making up ramen and soumen constellations? Suddenly… The flashlight batteries go dead! No spares. Total darkness. Time to panic. Komari feels the need to take the lead since she is the eldest and tries to lead them back to the path. The thing that ‘saves’ them is the bottle’s cap. They’re on the right path then. Then as they follow the light in the distance, it leads them back to the vending machine! All hail the vending machine! And you thought it was so out of place, eh? It saved them. Never been so relieved before. With Komari’s knees giving way, Hotaru gives her a piggy back ride home.

Episode 3
With no bread left, Kazuho thought she could make breakfast. What the hell is this lazily made salad?! Atrocious! You call that breakfast?! As there will be a test after the break, Natsumi flips out but instead of studying, she fools around. When Suguru ignores her and minds his business, she steals his glasses. When Komari asks science questions, she gives random nonsensical answers. But you have to give her points for answering so enthusiastically. Or not. The test starts and Natsumi becomes ultra confident and loud at each freaking question. In the end, Renge scores perfect and Natsumi who got a duck egg thinks something is wrong. Well, of course. You got all the answers wrong, that’s why! Thanks to that, they got tons of homework for the Golden Week. Better shape up because they know how fiery mom is about their grades. As there will be a study group back at Renge’s home, Renge is not pleased that Kazuho is fooling around and should set an example to motivate them. Wow. Loli lecturing her sister! She will allow Kazuho to practice her motivation as she practises studying. Kazuho agrees and thought of doing this like a video game. The questions are like monsters and you have to solve by defeating them before fighting stronger monsters. That is sure motivating till she come up with lame fruit monsters. Then she motivates Renge that she will give her cake. Loli super wants cake! But there’s no cake. She’s just saying it for motivation. So disappointed! Oh, the looks on her face. Kazuho then goes back to slacking as she claims she is tired from last night printing printouts. She is so lazy that she wants Renge to lead her to her bed instead of sleeping in the hall where they’ll be studying just because she’s too lazy to take off her blinds. Renge knows Kazuho cannot be relied upon and that she needs to be the one to motivate her friends. So she leads her out of the house and when the friends arrive, they see this atrocious Kazuho fumbling like a fool and spouting nonsense. Can she not feel the summer heat outside? Don’t tell me her senses are lazy too. Yeah… The damning motivation for them to study hard! Thanks to that, Natsumi scores well in her test. 75 marks! You go girl! Oh, Renge gets 100 again.

Episode 4
Rainy season is no fun. Especially Renge’s grandma has sent over a new bicycle, she can’t practice. Like any other kid wishing for a fair weather, Renge makes a teruterubouzu. But this doesn’t quite cut it so she dresses herself as one! OMG! Why the heck does she look like some horror movie serial killer loli version?! And she’s walking around in the rain with that?! Then the perfect scene for a murder… The place is filled with mist as Komari is heading to Renge’s place to return a manga. Then she sees this strange ‘monster’… Weird sounds (Renge banging her tools)… Do you not think she freaks out? Komari runs but Renge spots her and gives chase. What do you think this looks like in Komari’s view? The monster is going to kill her! Run faster! Just when she thought she has reached the safety of Komari’s house, Kazuho answers the door and she’s wearing that mask too! She thought of helping Renge too but I guess Komari could have died of a heart attack if they don’t clear up the misunderstanding soon. And even after that, Komari denies she was crying so hard. It was the rain. Yeah, rainy days take the blame… With the nice weather, our girls gather and hang out with their bicycles. Pretty fun. Pretty boring. Pretty normal. Then one day, Renge realizes her tadpole shrimps in the class’ aquarium are dead. So sad. A proper burial given. Yes, people. This is a big deal! Gloomy for the loli. Rainy weather enhances that effect. Even more heartbreaking as we see Renge inputting this in her diary and drawing herself sad crying with tears! Sob! Sob! Hotaru suggests to go catch more if the weather is fine tomorrow but Renge doesn’t want to see them die anymore. One day, she notices little tadpole shrimp offspring in the tank. Natsumi explains that eggs were laid and buried in soil, etc. See her face light up. Priceless amazement! She rewrites and redraws that happiness in her diary and shows it to everyone. Yes, people. It’s a big deal! It’s going to be a great sunny day after all.

Episode 5
Komari doesn’t believe Natsumi’s fortune telling that she’ll have bad luck with water today. Well, what do you know? The kids are going to clean the school pool today. And thus we see how Komari gets wet (not the hentai kind, mind you) due to all the mishaps whether it is being sprayed by cold water from old rusty pipes or even getting her eyes gushed by water. The curse is real! The ultimate one is when Natsumi pats her on her back and she falls in. However Komari also brings her down into the pool. The other girls get permission to also jump in with their clothes since Kazuho says there are extra clothes. Then she remembers there weren’t and goes to check. Nil. She thinks they’ll dry very fast. On another day, Natsumi reads another fortune that they have to go out for bad luck will befall them if they stay indoors. They call Hotaru to join them but it seems she has to house sit while waiting for a delivery package. So bored girl is stuck at home till the courier arrives. Now she can go out but realizes she forgot to ask where they were hanging out. Luckily they are seen coming to her place. They adventure through the countryside when it starts raining. They take refuge at Kaede’s shop and she’s pretty annoyed they’re all talking at once. She gives her old clothes for them to wear and man, they look pretty weird. Were those her fashion then? Learning the girls are on holiday today because of the school’s anniversary, she decides to cook okonomiyaki for them. She also shows them the expert she is. No compromise in taste and quality. Also learning about the bad luck Komari has been facing with, Kaede remembers the bad luck charm sold here as a prank. Of course Natsumi can’t even remember she bought it. So does this mean all the bad luck that happened to Komari was nothing? Well actually if you considered all that had happened to her, it’s still pretty much bad luck.

Episode 6
Natsumi and Hotaru are tasked to clean the garden. Since this is their first time paired together, Natsumi is unsure what to talk about. When she tries that magical girl anime, Pretty Cute, Hotaru becomes passionate in ranting from A to Z! Oh dear. Did she push the wrong button? Natsumi doesn’t know much about that anime and each time she tries to change the subject, somehow Hotaru connects it back to her show! If you can’t beat them, join them. Natsumi tries to act like she knows but you can’t fool the master, can you? And once Natsumi comes clean, they didn’t speak about anything else for the rest of the duty. When Natsumi sees a gecko creeping up Hotaru’s back, she tries to catch it without her noticing but it seems she keeps looking over her shoulder. To her surprise, Hotaru isn’t scared and is amazed by it. Want to know who is scared? Komari who is getting frantic about spotting the gecko and swinging her broom like as though she’s some possessed witch. Natsumi guides Renge and Hotaru how to catch some bugs. But Renge thinks she’s getting a big head with her ‘genius’. At the shrine, Natsumi shows how to catch a cicada by flooding the hole with water. The duo keep the cicada as part of their observation homework unlike Natsumi who claims she wants to enjoy every day while she can. That’s being lazy, right? The kids head to Hotaru’s home to play fireworks but she starts crying because the store didn’t sell them! So they settle for this lame parachute firework. Lame… They try not to hurt Hotaru’s feelings but eventually can’t help feel depressed too. Now Hotaru is crying even harder. That is when Kazuho brings them to a dark place and they become fascinated with this firefly field. This is like substitute for fireworks, right? The night is saved.

Episode 7
Natsumi encourages Hotaru to jump off the bridge and into the river but she feels afraid. When she returns home, she receives a letter from her friend from Tokyo. Hikage has come to visit Renge (why is she hogging the massaging chair?). She shows Renge pictures of Tokyo Tower and the loli is pretty impressed. Then Renge forces her to play dolls with her. This little mecha is the mother while that ugly looking doll with creepy long legs is the baby? Hikage is also forced to talk baby language. As she babbles baby talk, Hotaru comes by and sees this. Oh no… As Hikage is a lazy ass, Renge again forces her to go out with her and this time with Hotaru to their secret base. But as they arrive, Hotaru realizes she has left her bag on the bus. The only way to retrieve it is at the bus depot. That’s pretty far, right? That dreadful sigh from Hikage… You mean they have to walk all the way there? But the journey won’t be a tiring one. There’s a refreshing water to drink from, pomegranates to buy and while chasing the dragonfly, before the know it, they’ve already reached the depot. She gets her bag back and shows the pictures from her Tokyo friends. Hotaru has not replied her yet as she wants to reciprocate by sending back pictures too. Oh, now they have to walk all the way back… They meet up with the sisters at the bridge. Hikage wants Renge to help take a cool picture as she dives in. Well… That picture turnout… I thought it looked like Hikage drowning… This gives inspiration for Hotaru to want to dive in too. Nervous at first but she eventually sums up her courage to take the leap. Renge snaps a shot and it was awesome. Like as though she’s doing some super kick that has some super ripple effect on the water. After taking more pictures in the day, Hotaru finally attaches them and replies her friend’s letter.

Episode 8
Summer vacation is over. Back to school. Nobody is interested of time travelling back with Natsumi to those fun days. Today’s activity will be for them to make something out of this wood with a saw. Surprisingly, Natsumi mentions about the dangers of them handling such tools but Kazuho maintains her irresponsibility that she’ll be watching over them. While Hotaru-Komari team is making some headway on their bookshelf, Natsumi-Renge team aren’t even off the ground. Ridiculous ideas, fooling around and trying to design via paper that turns out into some silly punching comic just tells us what this team is capable off. Finally Renge creates this weird device. What the heck is this? Watch and learn. She puts it in front of dozing Kazuho’s face. Her face falls towards it and hits it, waking her up. Behold! The snooze stopper! Ingenious? Has nobody noticed Suguru making a perfect bucket? When Renge serves curry for lunch, it brings back bad memories. A time when Hikage, Kaede and Konomi are still in school, Hikage brought toddler Renge to class since mom is sick. As Hikage and Kaede argue over who to look after her, Renge dives and destroys Natsumi’s building blocks. And she was just a block away from a personal record. Cry-baby mode now. Then Renge bites Komari’s teddy bear, Shoukichi. Another cry-baby. Renge is quick on her feet and wonders into the kitchen where she spills the curry lunch that the kids have been anticipating. I guess everybody turned into cry-babies and the only baby is the one having fun. Komari finds her ragged Shoukichi underneath her bed and thinks she doesn’t need it anymore. But when she looks through her old album and realizes that in almost every picture she always had it with her since baby, she starts to have second thoughts. She goes to Hotaru’s house for help to sew it back to good condition. Remember those Komari dolls all over her room? No wonder Hotaru is panicking and apologizing with that guilty face although Komari isn’t freaked out but somewhat impressed. Komari is a klutz trying to sew and gets poked by the needle. Hotaru has already made dolls of the rest (as Komari suggested). In the end, Shoukichi is as good as new.

Episode 9
The moment Natsumi’s mom calls her, she runs! Think she did something bad, huh? Actually the pond feels empty and she wants Natsumi to catch some fish. How do you get lazy girl’s ass to move? She’ll pay her! She also lends her watch as she wants Natsumi to be back by a certain time. So Natsumi drags all her friends including Konomi to go fishing. Each time they fish out, it smacks Suguru in the face and the nice boy releases them back into the lake. When Natsumi lands a big one, everybody helps reel it in. But the fish is putting up a big fight so Natsumi has Renge call for help. With Kaede and Kazuho in the picture, Natsumi takes drastic actions by jumping into the lake and catch the big one. In the end, everyone helps put in the pond and mom didn’t realize she dragged everybody into this. Furthermore, her watch is all wet. Time for an earful. No, this time she’s calling you not because of your reward. Konomi brought back her old clothes and when they put it on Natsumi, she looks very girly! Is this the same girl?! So girly that Renge thought she was a stranger! Not stopping at just looks, Konomi proceeds to teach this tomboy the finer ways of being a girl. When they are about to take a photo of her, she gets embarrassed, changes into a less feminine clothes to prepare for her pose. Natsumi and Hikage finish a box of delicious snacks. Then the rest come by to tell them about the moon watching even tonight and the snacks they’ve prepared. Oh no… Feeling guilty, I don’t think accusing each other would do any good. Of course we all know it’s Natsumi’s fault in the first place for never checking. Hikage has a conscious so she’s not going to give some lame switching theory like Natsumi did. She wants Natsumi to make those dumplings again while she tries to convince the rest to give up moon watching. Whatever Hikage says makes it worse. Now they’re hyped up to watch the moon tonight. As expected, Natsumi also fails on her part so they discuss about prostrating before everyone as apology. They even start practising at the front door. Just then, Kaede comes in and is delighted about the snacks for the moon watching. I guess this means an apology will not work now. Seeing them in a prostrating position, they lie that they are doing some turtle pose… Natsumi forgot to clean up the kitchen and by the time they realize it, the rest are making additional snacks for tonight as they thought the dumplings won’t be enough. This is when Natsumi in her relief spills out how she ate the dumplings. Oops… The moon watching goes ahead and what about our guilty duo? They become ‘slaves’ in making and serving the snacks. One mochi coming up. Make that five. And step on it.

Episode 10
Renge hangs out with Konomi since the sisters are not in. Konomi tricks Renge that she is a monster and proves it with that thumb separating trick. You should see Renge’s amazed look. Priceless! She’s really convinced that the thumb gets healed back without any surgery! Now she wants to be a monster like Santa Claus. Santa is a monster? Konomi brings her to her room to learn some ‘incantation’ when it’s just some multiplication table. What is more amazing is that Renge could easily give the answer when Konomi tests her! Genius loli?! When the sisters come back, Renge excitedly tells that monster thingy. But when they remember that thumb trick, they also show it to her. Look at her freaking out face. Priceless! Later when Renge learns the rest had their training wheels taken off from their bicycle at an early age, she requests Kazuho to remove them. Now Renge wants her to help practice but since she is busy, I guess she’ll go bug Kaede. She is also busy manning the store but can look out for her if she practises in front of the shop. Persevering loli doesn’t give up despite the many falls and at the end of the day, her knees are scraped so Kaede patches them up before she heads home. The next day, Renge has high fever (same emotionless face?). Upon learning about it, Kaede closes the shop and quickly dashes over. But looks like her friends are there first. Natsumi teases Kaede that she was concerned about Renge and since she is running her mouth, Kaede lets everyone share the snacks except for this tomboy. Upon Renge’s request, Kaede reads to her that crane folklore. For the umpteenth time. When Renge is fine and she goes to visit Kaede, the store is closed. That is because Kaede will be free in helping Renge practice cycling. The day is not without her falling down but each time she does, she gets back up. All that training pays off as Renge can now cycle with her friends like normal. With a few bandages on her knees, they’re like the battle scars she can wear proudly on her sleeve. All thanks to Kaede.

Episode 11
I think Komari feels left out when she hears Konomi and Hotaru can play the flute and piano respectively. Hey, at least she can play the melodian. Komari is fascinated with Konomi’s handphone. As they are in the countryside, signal is hard to get. This means if Konomi wants to send or receive mail, she has to stand outside her house’s yard and stretch for the sky. Komari is excited in wanting to try and reply a mail to Kaede. You can tell how noob she is when she doesn’t even know how to type in the words. As she tries to send, there is no signal. Could it be something to do with her stature? She won’t lose out so she tries jumping. The landing wasn’t good. Now she wants Hotaru to carry her. Not because her ankle was sprained, it’s her heart! She is bent on sending it and has Hotaru carry her high up for a signal. Finally it connects! Hooray! Kaede receives the message but doesn’t understand the gibberish. Renge is going to draw a monkey on the New Year cards and won’t let Hikage see. If she wants, she must chant some weird incantation. Hikage thought she was sly by using a binoculars but Renge saw her right through. Time to get desperate. Hikage holds back the loli but I don’t know how, Renge can turn the tables and pin her down! OMG! And then this! Some super fast collarbone jabbing technique! Enough for Hikage to give up. Renge remains suspicious each time Hikage moves. In the end, it looks like a funny happy monkey. She shows it to Kazuho who couldn’t stop laughing at this funny sheep. Sheep? But doesn’t it really look like a sheep upside down? After Hotaru and Renge leave the sisters’ house, Renge notes of her very polite and adult-like manners although Hotaru disagrees with her. Renge doesn’t believe Hotaru is pretty childish back home. So we get to see how true this is because the moment Hotaru reaches home, she acts like a cute kid! It’s like she has a split personality! Wow. She’s acting like the pampered kid. A very happy pampered kid. Next day, her friends think how grownup Hotaru is and again she disagrees with them. They thought she’s just being modest but after Hotaru drinks a sweet drink and puts up that child-like behaviour, now you believe? And Natsumi thought Komari could take a hint learning up some grownup lessons from Hotaru.

Episode 12
Renge wants to pick bamboo shoots and wants her sisters to come. Hikage doesn’t seem to enthusiastic, though. Kazuho allows her to skip it since she just came back from an overnight bus. But when Kazuho talks about making sashimi, looks like it piques Hikage’s interest. Too bad they ignore her. Change your mind, girl? All the girls meet to go pick bamboo shoots. Renge meets Pechi for the first time. Komari bluffs Renge about Princess Kaguya in one of the shoots and since she believes it, Komari is forced to play along with her bluff. Natsumi and Hikage compete to see who can dig up more bamboo shoots but Pechi seems to dig faster. And eating it raw! So after a great meal, the main quartet hang out at their base and by the bridge, talking nonchalantly. As they plan to go hanami, their mom needs to cook some food with the bamboo shoots for them to bring along but since she is talking to another lady, I guess they’ll have to wait. More chatting while waiting. Playing that hand slapping game. Either way, Komari always gets the short end of the stick. Some go to bring tea while the rest gets distracted by a butterfly. Once mom is done, off they go to the blooming sakura tree. They are joined by the rest who also brought more food. Renge is happy to have this party. They hope to do all these great same things again next year. But of course.

Free & Easy
Either you will call this season a big yawn fest or a great healing therapy. Well, I’m in between. But leaning more towards the latter. It is without a doubt that this season is still as good as the last since there is nothing to expect but calm and soothing effect. At least for those who have watched the first season. I suppose that is why they have the ‘Repeat’ in the title. A big indication that it is going to be the same repeat of the same thing. So for those of you who are ‘too corrupted’ and are just dying to keep yourself awake to watch 10 seconds of this anime, then go back to your no hope life of Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Farmsville (do they still have that online?). Otherwise if you’re like me, the simple pleasures in this series do not make it feel boring or repetitive at all although it does get a little draggy at times but that is miniscule in comparison to the healing effect that it had on me. Serious.

This season feels like home like the first season. Like as though it is an extension of the first season because a lot of everything pretty much remains the same. From the flow of the story (if you can call it that), the pace setting, the artwork, the characters, the next episode preview (it is pretty creative for it to be shown inside the TV of a living room) and nearly about everything else feels like it is brought over from the first season. Like how you’ll never get enough of those beautiful countryside sceneries from the mountains to the rivers and the simple countryside houses and paddy fields. Even the end card continues the tradition of having a photo of those scenic views. I believe they are not Photoshop in any way so it is safe to say that there are still many parts in our world that hasn’t been ruined by the devastating touch of mankind. Or at least how the simple life in the countryside can tell us we can indeed co-exist with nature being minimalists and do away with all the excessive unnecessary stuffs. But I don’t want to bore you with all that so let’s get back to this season’s review anyway.

Unfortunately like I have said, because everything remains basically the same, it is hard for me to point out anything that stands out or whatever makes it different from the first season. It is basically just status quo. Renge is still the best character thanks to her funny emotionless loli face and she’ll break you into a smile each time you see her put up such enthusiasm despite her deadpan face. I fear this kind of look will stick with her until she grows up. The rest of the characters also feel at home. Natsumi being the cheeky tomboy and troublemaker of the pack, Komari the petite big sister who is more like a little kid than a big sister, Hotaru the ‘normal’ one but it seems they didn’t spam her Komari obsession this season, Hikage the reluctant sister, Kazuho continues to slack while Kaede and Konomi continue to provide side character support for our main characters.

And yes, who wouldn’t forget Suguru. If you bother to remember him and his very little limited presence at all. Just like last season, this guy continues not to have any spoken dialogues whatsoever. Initially I thought this season if there was going to be a huge surprise and twist, it would be this guy suddenly popping up a single phrase and that’s all you’ll ever hear. And then you’ll see the girls go flabbergasted and Natsumi making a joke that they’ve heard their big brother speak for the first time. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. So it makes me think that this Suguru might be sort of a mute person. He is not deaf but perhaps his vocal chords got damaged or born without one and thus his mime-like gestures. But still, the thought that he could suddenly speak would be fun. The only character missing from this season was Honoka. Remember that loli friend of Renge? I guess she didn’t visit her grandma this time around.

The stories in the episodes feel like they don’t necessarily follow a certain chronological order and the ‘adventures’ they have in the countryside are like standalone filler episodes. Veterans from the first season can basically guess more or less the same kind of antics and jokes that our countryside girls will pull off. In a way, still retaining its charm and funniness but otherwise may be getting a little old and, uhm, repetitive. No, not talking about any recycled jokes but the style of their antics played out may seem pretty similar to some and thus forcing us to laugh and such. You know Natsumi is the mischievous one and surely to come up with all sorts of excuses and stuffs. Or Renge and her first grader-like views and cuteness. Or Komari screaming her head off after a prank or experiencing something unpleasant. All too familiar. There are some drama parts to break the flow and pull some heart strings like that tadpole shrimp incident but that sadness won’t stay long.

The same people from last season once more sing the opening and ending theme. After all these years hearing nano.RIPE, looks like her ‘drunken’ voice is more tolerable now in my books. She sings the opening theme, Kodama Kotodama and the lively tune of the song gives a fun overall feeling to it. The main quartet reprise their ending theme duty with the song Okaeri. Another fun song to hear and even more fun if you enjoy watching the episode. One thing I noticed is perhaps the absence of that Row, Row, Row Your Boat BGM. Maybe it is one of the few ‘changes’ from last season as I believe they used a completely new set of soundtracks.

Overall, a good second season although it doesn’t break any new ground. But at least it did its job in cleansing all the toxic from other animes. And now to go back to all those violence, sex, nonsense, fart jokes, slapstick humour, ecchi, blood, killing, insensitive jokes, moe overdose and the likes. What? I’m pretty sure that they’ll make another season when the time comes. Then I’ll just watch it and purify my soul again before restarting the cycle. That’s not too bad, right? Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t say I am going to cast away my sinful anime life and start living the free and healthy lifestyle. Watching others living the simple life? Cool. But me actually living the simple life? Not a chance. Life is definitely more fun the way I am now :-).

Ah… I guess after that mediocre ending and the confusing sci-fi elements of time travelling to change the future by altering the past, perhaps everybody didn’t really look forward to the OVA and it was left forgotten. Until some kind soul did us a favour by subbing Ushinawareta Mirai Wo Motomete OVA that only people like me started to remember that there was indeed an OVA for this show. And I am guessing that this OVA has nothing to do with the original plot (at least in interfering with it) and must be one of the timelines. Well, you know what OVAs these days are for, right?

In Search Of The Right Summer Vacation
Fanservice time. Girls changing. Can we ask for more? It seems the astronomy club members are at Nagisa’s luxurious villa that once belonged to her great grandma for their summer vacation and training camp. Because Yui is feeling worried and all (about her mission), the rest reassure her to relax and experience this as much as possible. She takes up their advice. I mean, instead of getting worried why she is sent back to a deviated timeline, might as well enjoy herself. Yeah. Why not? Enjoy the hotspring fanservice. Later Kaori asks there seemed to be an abandoned plant along the way to the villa so Nagisa explains she heard it was once great grandma’s research facility. Oh, there were lots of ghost sightings too. Gulp. A beautiful next day, a great time at the beach. It could have been extended if not for the rain. As it is getting heavier, Nagisa calls her butler to pick her up but he is busy cooking in the kitchen. Wearing earphones. Darn it. No choice, they take refuge in an abandoned building nearby. This place is creepy enough to warrant… An exploration! Hey. Where’s my fanservice?! I didn’t sign up for a horror ride! Then they find a secret underground passageway and are really excited to explore further. Except maybe for Kaori. She’s scared. And her please to go back are ignored! This is why people die in horror films! Things start to get creepy when the lights flicker. I know the electricity supply is unstable. But this place still has power? Don’t worry. Handphone power and light save the day. When Sou is resting, he thought he heard something under the bed and when he takes a peek… OMFG!!!! HE SEES A GHOST!!!!!! His scream attracted Kaori and Yui who were examining some research books in a foreign language. They pick him up from under the bed and wonder if he is tired since he looks like sleeping. When Kaori takes a look under the bed… OMFG!!! THE GHOST PEEPING BACK AT HER!!!!! FFFFFUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!

Similarly, Airi thought she saw a ghost peeping through the door and this scares the sh*t out of her. Kenny goes to chase after it but when he opens the door, he accidentally slams it into Kaori who was running all the way back here. At first they thought it was just her but when Kaori starts shivering about the ghost she saw, OMG… It could be real… Everyone regroups and I suppose it is the best time for them to leave but since Sou is out so cold, who else can carry him? Then they realize Yui is missing. Airi and Kaori go look for her. And then Airi needs to use the toilet. Not sure if Airi is being heartless to tell her to go and finish her business by herself. I’m amazed that Kaori who has been so scared managed to not soil herself. When Kaori opens the cubicle… OMG! THE GHOST IS DOING HER BUSINESS!!! This time she really faints. Airi gets the fright of her life when the ghost runs out before her! Yui then confronts the ghost and when she touches the black cube, the power comes back on. Or rather she is transported to the past because the ghost turns out to be Nagisa’s great grandma during her scientist days. Of course from her view, she thought the kids are the ghosts. They talk about things as Yui explains what this black cube is and grandma thought it was just some paper weight. Grandma asks about Japan’s fate during the war but Yui can’t say. If it ends, grandma is considering becoming a school teacher. Airi comes by carrying fainted Kaori. She thinks Yui is just talking to Nagisa and that she is the one behind this ‘ghost prank’. Yui tells them to go back first. When they do, Airi is shocked to see Nagisa again. How did she get here so fast? What do you mean? She was here all the time! OMG… Airi now cannot take it and faints.

In the aftermath, everyone manages to return back to the villa because Yui got directions from grandma the route that had them end up in the villa’s wine cellar. I’m glad the butler didn’t die of heart attack when he saw the kids emerging from the ground. As they play fireworks, perhaps the best one from all the experience is Sou because he was just freaking out cold the entire time! Best part is he can’t remember what happened. Kaori’s look of annoyance… Nagisa shows her butler an old photo she found. It is a group of scientists and her great grandma is part of it. Yeah, a splitting mirror image if I should say. It is as though if Nagisa travelled back in time and back. This brings back memories for the butler as he remembers she once told him after meeting a young girl one fateful day, it changed her life drastically and from that day forth she kept on looking towards the future. Yui can’t help but smile. Meanwhile in the future lab, Sou and Airi see Yui’s smile and wonder if she is having a pleasant dream.

In Search Of The Right Horror Flick
At first, here I am resigned to the fact that they are going to spam almost 30 minutes of this OVA with some fanservice. The opening scene and the beach scene were enough to make me think that maybe this is how they’ll spread the fanservice. Slow and gradual. What I did not expect is that it partially turns into a little scare fest! Yikes! Perhaps the little scares here aren’t enough to satiate true horror fans and can be considered mild. But you know me. I’m the kind of guy who would love to keep away from anything of the such (ironically, I went to watch the series Re-Kan some time ago although that show itself was more disappointing than scary). Although I knew there would be a twist somewhere because the ghost looked familiar, the short scenes of the ghost really did frighten me. Yup. The boner became balls shrink. Haha! Speaking of the fanservice. It is just freaking paltry. Almost no real bare tits whatsoever. Like as though this OVA is safe to be shown on TV anyway.

And of course, this OVA gives an insight of how the academy was given birth and again that interesting but yet confusing theory of the chicken an egg theory because had not been for Yui, Nagisa’s great grandma would not have been inspired to build the school and thus our astronomy club friends would never have met each other and not even this Yui encounter would happen. This means the events that followed would not have happened and Yui would not have been sent back to multiple timelines in order to change it. Confused? Yeah. So am I. Maybe I’ll just rewind and watch a repeat of those cheap fanservice to calm down my frightened heart. Yeah. A great excuse to go watch more ecchi anime to forget this scare. In my case it will be in search of the right fanservice… :-).

We’ve all heard this kind of underdog story and love to root for them. Take a bunch of losers with contrasting personality, put them under the care of a fallen coach who grooms them up, teaches them about team work, trust, cooperation and any other values you can think of, lots of bonding time, training time and then face off with the final adversary who is no other than the big favourites to win whatever game they’re playing and the no hopers clinch it via making an upset. Who wouldn’t love such a good story like that? So it is somewhat familiar bells here when I started watching Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei No Kyoukan. Only little difference is that this has a little harem genre in it. Hmm… Girls under his wing falling for their instructor? Well… Not that obvious. But you get the idea.

Episode 1
A group of Sky Wizards fighting against hordes of bug enemies. Kanata Age like the typical main protagonist hero he is, buys everyone time to escape while he destroys the enemies. Oh look. Here comes the big mother beetle now. Hey wait. You mean he isn’t going to take it down but he got owned???!!! This is a surprise. Now we move to Mistgun, the floating academy that trains Sky Wizards. We hear Chloe Sevegny reading to the Sky Wizards division leader, Freon Flamel a report from the losers of a team. Records so bad that you wonder how they made it in. We have Freon’s sister, Rico Flamel who is writing in a dramatic novel way and thinks she is some sort of reincarnated goddess whose beauty has everyone jealous. So she thinks. Then you have the shy and nervous girl, Lecty Eisenach who is probably one of those good natured kids who wants to fight to protect but you realize that a cat can even scare her. Finally, Misora Whitale is so bad that she has not registered a single win and is currently on an extreme losing streak! Amazing. Freon wants her to pick an instructor for them and turn those losers into winners. Kanata is on his way to see Freon when he bumps into Misora in the most cliché way. She is running late to school with a jam toast in her bread. He isn’t putting up that panicky reaction (despite his hands are on her boobs). Like as though he experienced it a million times. Since the bread falls on his crotch, she accuses him of being a pervert and all. So he needs to take responsibility now? Before she knows it, he is gone.

As he is washing up, he sees Rico vainly admiring herself at the glass mirror. She realizes he is watching and thinks he is fascinated by her beauty. Perasan! When she sees him only in his pants (he was washing up), she calls him a pervert as she thinks she is so hell of a beautiful that he couldn’t contain his horny lust. He mistakenly enters the female’s washroom. Lecty happen to go in when he is just about to go out. Shy girl thinks he is a pervert. What the hell is wrong with these girls?! He passes by Yuri Flostre who is still mad about him for being a traitor. Chloe cools things down. Kanata mentions he is purposely doing so because Yuri joined the team to be with him and must still be feeling hurt. As she is poor in controlling her emotions, this is the only way to vent it out. Is it? Chloe tells him she has struck a deal with him and he knows it is trouble with that kind of smile. Taken to see Freon, Kanata is told he will become an instructor for team Fireteam E601, the worse team ever. Why him? What about others? Fully booked. Besides, he is so free in helping out other divisions, so why not this? Whatever. Kanata agrees to take up the job. It seems Kanata’s traitor reputation is for real. Wherever he goes, others are afraid of him. But he just ignores them and continues his way. The losers of E601 are talking about their experience with a certain pervert today and speaking of which, here he comes in introducing himself and all. The first thing they do is take out their weapons. Sighs… Nobody listens to him…

Episode 2
As narrated, when the evil bugs known as Devil Beetles swarmed the land, humans are forced to live in the air. Kanata reads their stats and certainly it tells why they’re the lowest of the lowest. I mean, get this. The lowest grade is E and they can get assessed of F- in some areas! How is that even possible?! Misora will not be tutored by a traitor so this is a cue for us to know why he became so albeit a summarized format. When Kanata fought some Devil Beetles alone, he somehow managed to run home alive. Ever since then he became a coward in not fighting more Devil Beetles. He also refused to take part in important ranked matches and thus depriving his team to be promoted to higher ranks. However Kanata knows none of them has won a ranked match either. He lets them dream if they are trained by him, their skills will grow and defeat other higher ranked teams in no time. This sounds tempting especially Misora and Lecty starting to fantasize their ideals. However Rico will not be fooled. She believes as a goddess, she doesn’t need all this crap. Kanata has the ideal reply for that. Considering her data and how she doesn’t show her skills, it is possible she is ranked lower than Misora. A goddess, lower than human scum? No way. She’ll do it to show him.

Taking to the skies, the rule is simple. They can use their weapon and if they can manage to bring him down riding on this inefficient flying board, they win. Misora being the flustering hot headed one chases after him. She easily gets fooled by simple tactics. Kanata is impressed how Lecty approached him from behind without him sensing. However as they clash, he senses her inconsistency. Her skills are good but it is like as though she is lost and do not have faith in using them. Rico is waiting for the right moment to snipe Kanata. But he is swift to dodge her shot. It is because of trying to be accurate he managed to predict her and easily dodge it. At the end of the training, we are ‘rewarded’ with fanservice of the losers changing and in their undies. Rico continues to be cocky and pisses off Misora. And with such scenes, you must have the big boobs comparison to rile the other party. Sure, Rico is the biggest of them all but Misora can’t believe that Lecty is even bigger than hers! So are they going to kill each other in their underwear? And for some odd reason which I can only think of as silly and typical cliché, Kanata walks in to tell them about their next training. WTF. Did he do it on purpose? Did he not know this is a women’s changing room? Cue for the girls to raise their weapons and call him a pervert once more.

Episode 3
Rico refuses to join in the training. Kanata has the ideal training for the rest. Lecty is dressed as a maid and made to hand out flyers. Due to her shyness, the girls ignore her but the boys swarm over her! You can’t resist a maid! As for Misora, Kanata wants her to tail Rico and find out her weakness. As Rico passes by, Kanata hugs Misora to hide their cover. He accidentally got his hands on her boobs. Oops. Sorry. Didn’t notice it. Is he saying her boobs are so small that he didn’t notice them?! Quick, follow Rico or you’ll lose her. Misora fails in tailing since Rico can spot her from a mile. She lets her follow her for the day. This includes watching her buy boring philosophy books. There’s fun in pursuing the truth? What truth? Engineer Real Nua didn’t watch where he is going and bumps into Yuri, spilling the water over his crotch. It’s love at first sight for him. Lecty is done handing out the flyers and she’s got a little confidence now. But Kanata has another job for her. Since this cafe is short of workers, she is going to work here. Damn! Her shy personality is back and with the guys teasing her, she loses confidence and sits out. That is when she meets Misora as she hears her story. Agreeing to help her out, somehow the only other outfit is a Playboy bunny. That didn’t deter Misora as she goes on to serve the guys. Kanata’s pal, Lloyd Alwin has been watching Lecty so he advises her in using Misora as a role model. Lecty gets her confidence to be like Misora.

At the end of the day, Kanata sums up their training. Kanata knows about Lecty’s social anxiety because when they had their training battle, she couldn’t look at him in the eye. If she had done so, the fight would have been more interesting. With this maid job, she is able to help fix this problem. Kanata buys them ice cream as reward. Misora laments she has failed to find anything on Rico. She didn’t even know about Lecty’s condition until today. But as Kanata says, she has learnt she has much to learn and that itself is progress. Misora will tail Rico again but that isn’t necessary. The purpose of this training was to clarify what her weakness was. Misora is so mad that she dropped her ice cream. Wasted! Even the ice cream guy is crying! Back home, Kanata is analysing Misora’s magic reserves. It seems she has what it takes to be better than A-rankers but the magic cannon sword she wields makes it a waste of potential. Next day, he tells Misora she will be switching to another weapon to maximise her potential. However this only makes her more upset. She will never change her weapon even if it makes her stronger. She feels sad that she has mistaken him to be a decent instructor. Wait? Is she? I thought she only sees him as a pervert? She wants him to stop acting like he knows her and telling her what to do. Cue for emo girl to run away in tears.

Episode 4
Misora’s mom, Socie was one of the best Sky Wizards ever. Beautiful and popular, she took down an entire army of Devil Beetles and their big momma all by herself! And then she died. Misora has been absent from school a few days so Lecty is worried. She seeks Rico’s help but the goddess is cannot be concerned with mortal worries. So she is going to ask Kanata’s help instead. That irked you, Rico? Real is nervous in trying to give back Yuri’s handkerchief. Here she comes but she is being tsundere with Kanata who is just playing it cool. Heartbroken? Kanata goes to Misora’s house. Her dad, Gale runs a cafe and she is not pleased he is here and saw her in her maid outfit. She excuses herself. Kanata asks about Misora’s sword and it belongs to Socie. One day she went out on a mission and never came back. Ordinary people lost memories of her and photos of Socie are all that remained. Time for a flashback. Misora is such a cute adorable kid when she’s young. Mom is such a strong woman that she could toss her in the air long enough for her to have a little romantic time with Gale before catching her fall. But being the best Sky Wizard means she is a klutz around the house. She cooks steak for Misora every day (is this her way of making her strong?), floods the entire place while doing laundry and blows a hole in the wall while trying to clean the trash. Of course she is a little absent minded too because she forgot to seek permission one night when she took Misora out for a night flight and the authorities start chasing them down. Then one day when Socie didn’t come back the usual time, Misora feared the worst. It came true when nobody remembers who Socie is! Then the officers came in to relay the bad news. They gave the sword to Misora and that is when she vowed to use it and become a Sky Wizard just like her.

This frustration makes Misora fail even in her training. As Kanata has heard it all from Gale, he goes see her at her mom’s grave. He wants her to make a vow before her grave to give up wielding the sword. Not a chance. He asks her about the wishes of deceased Sky Wizards. To protect the people and even more, to protect the ones they love. Gale told Kanata that he lost all memories of Socie when she died. It still scares him if Misora dies, he will all memories of her too. Kanata is telling Misora if she remains stubborn, the risk of dying increases. She remains stubborn and wants to continue wielding this sword in hopes that it will make others remember Socie. Of course that has never happened before. This was just a test to see Misora’s resolve. Since she is that determined, Kanata will support her. The road ahead will be tough. So make a vow to her mom and that sword that she will become strong enough to protect everyone including herself. As her instructor, he will help carry her burdens. Misora goes apologize to Lecty for making her worry. Rico spying on Kanata has discovered this instructor has become quite the interesting person he is.

Episode 5
Kanata is gauging the team his girls will face next when Rico walks up to him and rubs it into his face about her godly beauty. He laughs and this brings back unwanted memories of how Rico could never catch up to her sister and was always taunted by other kids for claiming herself to be a goddess. When Misora and Lecty ask Rico to join them in training, again she refuses giving that goddess crap answer. Misora is about to get down on her knees to beg but Kanata won’t let her do that. He tells Misora he is going to teach her something that will be the key to their victory. Later, Real is being a stalker watching Yuri in action. Rico thought he was doing it to her and allows him to continue but it creep him out as he runs away! Kanata trains Misora to use Strike Blaster. She tries out after he demonstrates. Seems it takes a heavy toll on her body. She wonders why nothing happens to Kanata but when she takes a closer look, he is also reeling from the effect but is hiding it well. Kanata then trains Lecty who seems isn’t concentrating. She wonders if there is anything Kanata would give her like he did for Misora. Nil. The twin swords that were designed and perfected by her descendents have been drilled into her. All she needs to do is remember her training. As Rico watches, she wonders if she could grow under his guidance. She is shocked when he pops up behind her. He can guess that she has the ability to detect and see things from afar. Rico continues to explain why the Strike Blaster move will fail, blah, blah, blah. Kanata interjects that is Rico’s strength. Her ability to analyze and decision making are the key to victory. Wait. Wasn’t Misora the key to victory? Well, he didn’t say there was just 1 key. All of them are keys to victory. But he never forced her into training so how can he be sure she is the key to victory? Well, he was waiting for Misora and Lecty to catch up to her level. The line that seals it is when Kanata tells her if she wants to spend her life being called a loser or climb out of that zone. You decide. And so with her goddess pride still intact, Rico joins the rest in training. Now the girls are ready for their match. Of course their opponents look down on them but it will only be better for them because causing an upset will be a blast. Too bad the match is on hold when the red alert sounds. Devil Beetles are coming their way.

Episode 6
Kanata and his girls help in the evacuation. Oh look. Lecty found a lost little girl. Just great. The swarm has just arrived. Misora, fuelled by the passion of her late mom to protect everybody, manages to get a shot right. Hey, one bug down, millions more to go! But when she uses Strike Blaster, it destroys part of the city! It took out her dad’s cafe too. A bit too enthusiastic, isn’t she? After getting the little girl to safety, a higher level enemy bug is detected, Chimera Deneb. Hmm… Seems easily destroyed. What’s the catch? There are numerous of them considering the size of the Devil Beetles fleet. The only way to push back the swarm is to destroy all of them. Yuri is being negative. First she blames that traitor to run away first instead of helping to destroy the bugs. Thankfully Chloe and Lloyd continue to have faith in him. Just you wait and see. Kanata’s plan is for his girls to take down all the Chimeras. Don’t worry. All the training they have done has been for this moment to survive and protect even more people. He even guarantees it as their instructor! Well, you can’t lose if he puts it that way, no? The plan has Lecty taking on Devil Beetles with close combat, Rico doing long range business and Misora using her acceleration to approach the enemy and blast them away with Strike Blaster. Of course with the endless swarm coming in, don’t lose heart just yet. A beam almost takes out Misora but Kanata blocks the shot. Then popping up from the rubble of Devil Beetle corpses is a giant never-seen-before Chimera mother. So big and powerful that the city will be flattened if they don’t do anything soon. I guess this means a cue for Kanata to show what he’s got as he powers up and that single blast of his blasts the big mother out from Mistgun! Oh man! He collapses after using too much power. But don’t worry. He is still alive. He can’t be dying on his harem, can he? Real who is worried about Yuri continues to face unfortunate circumstances. A bug part drops before him… With Kanata believing his girls are ready to win ranked matches, our underdog team is beaming with confidence and Kanata the same when Yuri is here to check out his progress with the girls. Make sure you eat your words later. Who would have guessed… E601 lost!!! The losing streak continues… You were saying, Kanata? Lastly, Freon seems to have gotten permission to accelerate the Sky Wizards training programme with more realistic fights for their academy tournament.

Episode 7
E601 continues their training as usual. But even with simulated Devil Beetles made out of balloon, they’re having a hard time. Especially Rico is too busy admiring herself to help! Freon talks to Chloe and her team and confirms they did not destroy the new Chimera. As she heard it was Kanata, he said his girls were the one who took it down and in exchange they be let off the hook for destruction of public property. Of course she rejected this notion and is now considering disbanding E601 as punishment. This means firing Kanata. Yuri strongly supports this move as she feels a traitor is in no position to train others. There is also a Mistgun Tournament coming up whereby all teams with the exception of S-ranked are allowed to participate. Thanks to the tantalizing prizes, you can bet everybody is starting to win this tournament and bask in glory. Kanata is called to Freon’s office and is being told of his dismissal. He keeps his cool and isn’t cowed by this threat. Because everybody can think what they want about them. All he needs to prove are only to his girls. So he makes her a deal. If his team wins the tournament, everybody must acknowledge them. Of course the girls eavesdropped bits and pieces on this and it sends them into gloomy mode. Gloomy or not, they still have to continue their training. Freon brings Chloe and her team to a special building where a team of scientists and engineers experiment with Devil Beetle samples. She is doing so because Chloe is against the tournament as it only serves to agitate rivalries. Real is very pleased to meet them especially Yuri. But no time for chatter as Freon wants to show them the sample. It seems somebody picked up this Chimera part. It can regenerate infinitely. Think of the possibilities it can be used for medical science. But Freon’s concern is that with the enemy evolving, they do not have enough manpower for this and thus the need for the tournament. (Sorry Real, no time for you and Yuri to chat). Teams are picking out who they will face in the tournament bracket. Thankfully E601 got another fellow E-ranked. Kanata wonders why Yuri is here as she is S-ranked. I guess she is here to brag about her A-ranked team that she has become an instructor of. Due to the bracket, they will only face each other in the finals. Well, I guess you know what to do. Kanata makes a bet with Yuri that if she loses, she’ll join his team. Fine. She’s that confident of not losing, huh? Kanata’s girls hear for the first time about what the disbandment condition. Nothing to worry. All they have to do is win all their matches, right? They go all the way? They don’t even have that confidence.

Episode 8
Three years ago, Yuri watched Kanata’s D-ranked team that includes Chloe and Lloyd defeat an A-ranked team. She was impressed and since Kanata once helped her before and needs to repay the favour, he invited her to join them. Currently there is an assailant assaulting Sky Wizards so the S-ranked teams are to go on special patrol duty. Kanata somehow ‘ruined’ the conversation when he eavesdropped on this and starts teasing about Yuri’s personality. E601 is in training and it seems they are helter-skelter as Kanata has device a new formation. But Rico calmly analyzes the situation and then plays psychology to give out orders on how to fight the enemies effectively. Yuri’s A227 team is also here to take part in the training. Why do I feel that she just want to show off in Kanata’s face and demoralize his team? But he is nowhere near pushing the panic button. Even with this ambiguous answer that becoming a single fighting unit the answer will present itself, it is enough for Yuri to even worry. Then we have this ambiguous sex scene of Kanata and Rico. Head’s up: He’s just massaging her shoulders. What do you expect? After school, Kanata waits for Yuri and wants to have a word with her. His girls see this and Misora gets this ‘brilliant’ idea to tail him to find his weakness. Really? That’s the reason? Spying at them at the cafe, with Rico and Lecty deducing Kanata is trying to console his girlfriend who is currently in the slump with this date, this sends ringing alarm bells to Misora. Girlfriend. Date. Oh, the 2 most devastating words to her. Uh huh. How about losing her appetite for that? Kanata has read Yuri’s recent interview in a magazine that she is only interested in people who are stronger than her. In other words, the person she is interested now and the only one stronger than her is… Chloe! Without confirming or rejecting, Yuri gets straight to the point that Kanata should quit being an instructor to those losers. She hates those girls, doesn’t she? Yes she does. They don’t belong at this academy. In that case, Kanata points out he and Chloe would be the same too. Long ago, Chloe had trouble flying decently and was branded a failure. Didn’t know that, did you? Meanwhile Lloyd has discovered a pattern in the assailant’s attack. All victims are males using melee weapons. With the first victim being E-ranked, followed by D-ranked and the recent one C-ranked, guess who is next? True enough, some B-ranked dude gets beaten up and the assailant is disappointed this is all he’s got. I know we can guess who this mysterious attacker is but instead of leaving it to the future episodes to be announced, they unveil him as Real. Not surprised. He is obsessed that he will become stronger and win Yuri’s heart.

Episode 9
Lecty talks to Kanata about some of the new training methods he came up for them. It’s good to have some variety but she thinks this is not helping Misora at all. So how does Kanata solve this? Oh dear. It’s that maid job again! I guess this will always happen if she starts having low confidence. Continuing their battle training, Lecty who is now positioned as the rear guard as opposed to the vanguard position that she always played, has opened her eyes and understands why this position is as important as any other. It makes her realize what it is to be a team. Kanata passes her and pats her head. Why does Misora looked so worried? So she ‘complains’ to Mr Instructor that she is being left behind. She won’t be getting stronger at this rate. His answer for teamwork improvement? The girls have to clean this dirty room together! Oh Kanata! Meanwhile an A-ranked Sky Wizard is seen hospitalized. Now all that’s left is… Kanata sees Yuri and again teases her. We just love to see her flustering personality, no? They talk about how Kanata made her switch from using a sword to spear because of some bad habit. He notes her stubbornness has gotten her this far since there was not much he could teach her in the first place then. Although she still remembers his non-battle lesson of never giving up, there is still one last thing he needs to teach her and as long as she has that, she’ll be fine without him. Why is he doing this? Because she is his precious… Oh great. The assailant is here to ruin it all. Yuri thinks she can handle this all by herself but he is too fast and quickly falls back to her bad habits. Then he uses some advanced wind slashing move on her. This is his way of giving his love? WTF?! Aren’t you hurting her? Weren’t you going to cut off her head with that move?! Till Kanata steps in and show who’s boss. After being lectured that speed is all he’s got, the assailant calls it a day. But he leaves Yuri with a parting gift. A punch in the gut???!!! WTF???!!! This guy is really twisted in his love. Back in his room, Real is cursing that Kanata always gets in his way. He hears voices in his head to use the power to grant his wish. E601 has finished cleaning the room. And Kanata has the guts to bring back an unconscious and clothes all messed up Yuri to them. As expected, they accuse him of the beast he is. He knew this was coming anyway. Is he trying to provoke something in his harem?

Episode 10
Kanata’s reason of bringing Yuri to their room: Can’t be brining her back to his, right? You can’t blame her for screaming her head off when she finds she is totally naked. Although the girls undressed her, Kanata unfortunately saw a bit of her skin. He makes the right choice by running away. The girls chat with each other as Yuri finds out they are living together here as instructed by Kanata. They seem to be ‘getting along’ fine with their conversation till Kanata returns to hand Yuri a good luck charm he got from the creampuff vendor. Why? Because he cares for her. How can he say that with a straight face? Why not? Better than beating around the bush. Yuri thanks them for the hospitality but still fires a warning shot that the next time they meet in the tournament, it will be the end of them. We’ll see about that. The girls start their first night together by cooking and because Lecty and Rico are quite good, this makes Misora feel she is useless. When the heater machine isn’t working, Misora thought she could use some brute magic force to fix it but you know, things like that always end up making it worse. Then in the public bath, when they ‘compliment’ her brawns, Misora took it as an insult and lashes out at them like as though they don’t care about winning before realizing she overstepped her boundaries. Now it is all gloom and doom for her so leave it to Kanata to give her some words of encouragement. So when it is their turn to fight in the tournament, Misora rushes in thinking she needs to be strong to protect her team but got owned. Her teammates come to her rescue and continue fighting in her stead. Misora takes a good look at her surroundings and remembers Kanata’s words and those of her pals. What she really needs is the trust of her friends. Believe in them. She gets her confidence back and fires her Strike Blaster to take out her enemies all at once. That’s right. They win. Sorry, Freon. Looks like your hopes of disbanding this loser team and that traitor will have to wait. Oh, and Real is getting crazier as he injects himself with some enhancement serum to get his eternal love for Yuri.

Episode 11
Freon thought they just got lucky and they’ll lose in the next round. Wow. They must be pretty damn lucky to reach the finals, eh?! I think Freon puts up some insurance by announcing in the article about E601’s disbandment so Kanata won’t make up excuses to get out of it. E601 trains hard on the night before their final match, reminiscing times with Kanata (especially the first time they met the ‘pervert’). On the day of the finals, the stadium is jam packed and there are also live cameras. Nervous? Just when it looked like the entire crowd supports A227, at least there is a team that lost to them supports E601. And so the match begins but the crowd is left wondering how boring it is since E601 keeps running away. There is a clear difference between their abilities. If this was a paid match, I’m sure they’ll be shouting for their money back. I guess when you’re this confident, Yuri starts being the commentator why her team will win as well as her joy to see his schemes crushed. The tables are turned when Misora makes a feign Strike Blaster move and this irks her counterpart. Now that she feels insulted, she can’t think clearly and will overreact. Kanata who has been quiet all the time, it’s his turn to be the commentator. In the end, Misora catches the enemy by surprise and blasts them out with Strike Blaster. It should have been a happy ending for this big upset win if not for somebody hijacking the system and announcing everyone to take shelter as there is an incoming air raid. As the spectators rush out and the stadium locked down, it is deduced somebody is trying to clear the stadium. No prizes for guessing that Real is the one behind this. He is going to claim his love since he is now the strongest. So he believes. You think Yuri wants to make love to this creepy guy? Kanata gets in the way yet again. However he gets injured in the short bout. Yuri tries to attack him but her sword got broken. That kind of face, you want to make love with this girl? Look how petrified her face is! Thankfully he is yet again interrupted. This time by Misora’s Strike Blaster. Actually she wanted to fire a warning shot but overpowered it. Any normal human would have died. That’s right. Real is no ordinary human so to say.

Episode 12
Real’s skin now transforms into that of a Devil Beetle. His insanity increases as he grabs Yuri all in the name of love. When he disposes of E601, this makes Kanata mad. His dark aura is now visible. Real recognizes this aura that he has been chosen by the Devil Beetles. Kanata sympathizes that he fell victim to those whispers. Real reveals that this aura means the Devil Beetles have acknowledged his power and this is some sort of blessing from them. This is perhaps the reason why Kanata have gone rogue because imagine what will happen if the public finds out that he has been blessed by the enemy. While being distracted to kill Kanata, E601 returns to free Kanata and Yuri. However Real’s body can regenerate. He targets Yuri but Kanata uses his body to protect her and get stabbed. Now isn’t the time to be sad or get mad. E601 maintains their cool and calm thinking. They still haven’t forgotten about Kanata’s lesson to never give up. Despite throwing all they’ve got, he is still invincible. However Kanata isn’t panicking because this is all part of the plan to make him think they’re weak and he’ll let his guard down. When Real again targets Yuri, she stabs him with her spear. Not just any ordinary spear. With a few mumbo-jumbo lines, this spear has the ultimate technology to fight Chimera. His body takes some permanent damage. Yuri offers an olive branch to him to stop. But since he won’t and is going to target and kill Kanata, she knew this would happen and throws her spear at him. Thank goodness he is down for good this time. In the aftermath, it is officially stated that a student under stress was the cause of the bombing. Kanata refuses to take any credit and instead insists Yuri was the one who defeated Real. Before you start harping Freon as a b*tch for not going to honour her words of promoting E601 to C-rank, it is because this was enough just to cancel their debts of destroying the city and stuffs. What about the other cool prizes? You mean this junk? Well… It was destroyed during the mayhem. I guess the only thing they really got is the crystal prize. The girls lament their hard work was for nothing but Kanata congratulates them for working hard and winning the tournament. And if you remember, there is one more promise to make good of. Kanata introduces their new member: Yuri. She’ll be joining them in training as of today. Kanata snatches her cake she intended for celebration. He opens it and realizes too late why she wanted to celebrate alone. It has the big words “I love you” printed on it. Gee… This has Kanata remember which one of them she loves. Oh you silly. Couldn’t you guess? Now you made her run out in embarrassment.

How To Train Your Winning Harem
I wonder if calling this show mediocre would be too much. Maybe average would sound a lot better and not that offending since it isn’t that good nor it isn’t that bad in the first place. Hey. Did I not tell you? I wasn’t putting a lot of high hopes and expectations for this series so that is why when it ended, I didn’t really feel the pain of disappointment. I mean, when you have watched so many animes that are somewhat similar to this, the characters, the plot, the direction and the ending are somewhat predictable. Not to say that I predicted 100% what was going to happen in the end but my guesses were not far off the mark. So how can you not be disappointed if you put up high expectations in the first place? That is why despite this although isn’t an anime that sucks, it is still pretty decent in terms of ‘entertainment’ value. Yeah…

The characters themselves feel shallow, weak and very clichéd. Our main guy and his harem girls have some sort of troubled pasts and I am not sure whether it is a good thing or not it is not expanded and focused on too much because the most that was focused on was just Misora. We get some melodrama about why she so wanna become like her blah, blah, blah but eventually like any hero will tell you, you can’t be that person except to be yourself. Yeah, I think I get it. For the rest it was just unimportant like Lecty and her family background (maybe she has no issues with them, at least not that we know of) or the severity of Rico’s chuunibyou syndrome. Yes, people. People at her age acting and believing like as though they are really some goddess reincarnate is as good as being classified as chuunibyou in society. It’s a reason for her to be stuck up and not dirty her hands. And as predicted, E601 who started as troublemakers and do not trust their instructor eventually believe in him naturally. It’s just sad that it didn’t sort of evolve into an obvious harem. Maybe Misora has got more responsibilities to think as a team leader, Lecty because she is shy, would any goddess go so low as to claim they’ve fallen in love with a mere mortal (looking at you, Rico) and Yuri is just being a tsundere. And there you have it. Such an interesting bunch, don’t you think? Yeah… When can the harem cat fight begin?

Even Kanata’s reason of why he became a traitor in the eyes of the public, his penchant of never wanting to take any sort of credit and his habit of saying “Didn’t I tell you?” when he has never said it in the first place are all the reasons why he as a main character feels weak and shallow. Despite being briefly stated in the final scenes about why he is so and that mysterious dark aura of his, it feels like it was just so as to quickly close and cover up the case for those of you who are still thinking and remembering those ‘loose ends’. And then they just chuck it away never to be heard of again like as though everyone has forgotten about it since there is not much time life. Because all is well, ends well. I mean, the girls clearly heard about Real’s revelation about Kanata’s mysterious power. Aren’t they curious enough to badger him for answers? I believe they’re not the kind who just easily gives up, right? I mean, remember Kanata’s teaching? Never give up! Or is it that their heart is not ready to learn the truth and thus they just stalled asking that question for the time being? And like any other similar series, being status quo is always the best, no? Yeah…

A very funny thing I find is that after a few episodes, I began to see how similar the main characters here to the ones in Seiken Tsukai No World Break. At least on the general aspect. Kanata and Moroha are both male protagonists of a harem and wield sort of mysterious power. The harem girls are even more strikingly similar. Noticed how that both sides have got a red head that flusters a lot? Sometimes I want to say Misora and Satsuki are long lost sisters separated by a different anime. What about the long dark haired beauty that does not portray as much emotional outburst but cool and calm? I wouldn’t go so far as to label Rico and Shizuno as clones since there are some other differences but at first glance they look pretty similar. Then there is the petite blonde. Lecty may not be a loli like Maya but she is the smallest size among the girls so in a way they are pretty similar to each other. Then there’s the outsider tsundere in which we know as Yuri here and Angela the maid in the other. Bizarre, right? Even stranger is the fact that both animes are although created by different authors but are animated by the same studio, Diomedea. Ah, maybe that is why I can see a very familiar artwork pattern here.

Other characters… Meh. Chloe and Lloyd fall under the category of nice, cheerful and helpful friends despite not doing much in this season. Even though they back up Kanata at times but even that I feel their presence could have been unneeded because you know, Kanata will eventually handle it himself. Yeah, just believe in him. That’s what best friends are for, no? I guess the duo being the top brass of the S-rank class means not much needed screen time either. At least Lloyd doesn’t fall into the pitfall of being ‘the other loser guy’ just to make our main guy look good. Freon is working up her way as being the b*tch boss with her grudge against Kanata and E601, finding ways to bring them down. Well, it is not like she is always on scene to see Kanata and his girls do the awesomeness in saving the world. What you don’t see, you won’t know. It is even hard to think that she is related to Rico. Maybe in a way she still cares for her and perhaps with her big sisterly pride in a way, she always uses Chloe to report on Rico’s progress instead of checking it out herself.

Real fails as an antagonist despite you can see his lowly character building up to be one since his first appearance. The way he spams his love for Yuri makes it irritating maybe it is because the producers intended it so. So instead of giving her flowers or chocolates, this guy uses unholy powers to beat up other people? Is that a way to a girl’s heart? Can’t blame him entirely. Yuri’s tsundere personality and ambiguity about liking the strongest guy would make unstable douchebags like Real go crazy misinterpreting everything. Thank goodness there are no social media sites in this world setting. Otherwise who knows what this guy could have done by being a social media stalker. No, really. I wonder what happened to that bug part in his room. Was it confiscated? Even in the end, this guy was shown some sympathy. Because Yuri sent him even flowers to his hospital bed, you can see him break down with all that freaking regret.

Action bits are just okay and aren’t that exciting. Despite Kanata training E601 in various techniques, I don’t really see how different they are. Maybe it is because I’m not paying attention. Thus we always have Lecty doing the close up melee fighting with her twin daggers, Rico positioned as the sniper for long range attacks and finally Misora having enough time to power up her sword and do Strike Blaster. It is usually among this line if you expect the girls to see victory at the end of it. Although the tournament is brief and cut out all the other ‘unimportant’ teams that we couldn’t care less, at least they didn’t skip E601’s final like some shows would. At least they also let them finish and win their match unlike some shows that interrupt in the middle so there would be no clear winner. Thanks Real, for holding in your lust and at least waiting till the end before trying to show off your fail big baddie character before being whoop assed. And the fights with the Devil Beetles are so minimal and short, you might think it is just a short distraction from whatever we have going on now.

And of course, you can’t do away with the fanservice. Just a handful of scenes of E601 in their undies in the changing room and other shenanigans that women can only say or do among themselves there. They teased us with Kanata getting into ambiguous scenes when he first met his would-be trainees and thought this would set the tone of the fanservice for the rest of the series because when you become an instructor for such cute girls, is it not tempting to have fanservice bloopers? Guess not. Well, in a way good thing it did not otherwise it would have diluted this already average series. Yeah… Average… Then they should have more scenes of Lecty and Misora in maid outfit and Rico could be elevated into a higher goddess status if she joins the maid duty. Really. But I can’t help think if there is a hentai version of this series, Kanata would be training his girls for bed instead! Holy sh*t! Did I just think about that?!

Art and drawing feel pretty decent for this kind of anime genre. As mentioned earlier, Diomedea did this series so you might find a handful of similarities in their other similar themed animes like Seiken Tsukai No World Break, Campione and Juuou Mujin No Fafnir. Character designs feel average. The worst design goes to the Devil Beetles or other bugs. It feels like because they don’t make much impression and rarely appear as the whipping boy antagonist, it is as though it is okay to give them a poorly designed figure. Boring. Looking better are some of the high tech and fantasy-like weapons that the teams carry especially our E601 girls. But the artwork that is even more refreshing to see is the mid-intermission. Instead of falling back on the typical fanservice poses, what we see here are the different skies! I believe they are hand drawn and they look gorgeous and beautiful despite just the empty blue sky with some clouds and on occasion a stormy weather. Nevertheless, it is cool to see something different once in a while.

It’s that familiar voice again. Lately I’ve been hearing Yoshitsugu Matsuoka in many recent animes I have watching. Not to say it is a bad thing but it made me go, “Oh, it is this guy again”. So as Kanata, another typical male hero lead like his other past works. Godou in Campione, Arata in Trinity Seven, Kirito in Sword Art Online, Yuu in Juou Mujin No Fafnir… Need I go on? Oddly, discovering Iori Nomizu as Rico threw me off a little. Not to say that I could recognize her voice but hearing her voice squeaky pitched bratty characters like Nymph from Sora No Otoshimono and Haruna and Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka, I would never suspect her to voice a character with a lower voice. And the rest of the casts include Nozomi Yamamoto as Misora (Julie in Absolute Duo), Nao Touyama as Lecty (Chitoge in Nisekoi), Risa Taneda as Yuri (Yukina in Strike The Blood), Saeko Zougou as Freon (Shiori in Date A Live II), Yuki Yamada as Chloe (Shiena in Akuma No Riddle), Tetsuya Kakihara as Lloyd (Natsu in Fairy Tail) and Hiroki Yasumoto as Real (Sado in Bleach).

This is another one of my past stereotypes. Long ago, Iori Nomizu was one of those whom I believed couldn’t really sing. Or so I thought. At least many of the anime songs I heard her, it sounded so out of tune that it wasn’t just suitable. Maybe over the years she has gotten better. So that is why I was also surprised to find out that she sings the opening theme, D.O.B. and this rock paced outfit isn’t actually that bad. Surprise, surprise. La La Larks sings the ending theme, Hallelujah which pretty much feels like a moderate dance beat thanks to the heavy bass beat. Perhaps it is my sound system because I could feel the vibration of the bass on my floor. Really. Like in every other anime, there are a handful of BGM soundtracks. While this one like those many, does not have soundtracks that stand out, however there is one that had me raised a little smile. There is this track that sounds like a hillbilly country tune! Each time this comical banjo tune is played, I can’t help go “Yeehaw!!!!” and do an air rodeo or something. Funny indeed.

Overall, another one of those average animes that won’t become a masterpiece anywhere in time. Still a lot of materials and potential if you go ahead to read the light novel instead of waiting for another season for adaptation. They say two wrongs don’t make a right. Obviously they don’t know maths because two negatives become a positive, right? And so in the case of this anime where you take a fallen hero and a bunch of losers, they work together and train hard to usurp everybody else just because everybody looks down at them. That’s a lesson in life that we could at least learn from this anime. Always give others a chance. And maybe a second chance. After all, they are still humans just like you and me. Do we need a reminder who the real enemy is? In that case, back to more training. Can I request for a pretty maid instructor then? Pretty please?

Plastic Memories

January 2, 2016

The ultimate future of human companionship with robots as your partner. So life-like that they look, sound and act like the real thing. How about that for androids taking over that important role? Well, it might be still a distant dream in reality but in Plastic Memories, it is already here. Science and technology has advanced so much that you have very life-like automatons in replace of human beings. Always wanted a little sister? You got it. Grandpa died but you still long to have one and spend time with the old guy? As you wish. How about that hot wife that only existed in your dreams? No problem. Yeah. Androids have pretty much shaped the lives of the people of the future here. But this anime isn’t generally about that. It’s about a human boy just fresh out from college who just got into the corporation of managing such androids. His co-worker is an android. He falls in love with her. See where this is going?

Episode 1
Tsukasa Mizugaki is on his way to his first day on the job at Terminal Services Department when he bumps into this beautiful Isla. Love at first sight. At the office, he meets section chief, Takao Yamanobe and supervisor, Kazuki Kuwanomi. We are introduced to the Giftias (life-like androids) working for the company too. Constance, Zack and Sherry. Because a Giftia’s lifespan is only 81,920 hours (that’s about 9 years), once their service life expires, their personalities and memories break down. It is their job to retrieve them. Yamanobe suggests pairing up Tsukasa as a Spotter with Isla who is a Giftia. A Spotter is one who supervises the Giftia. Kazuki doesn’t seem too happy about it and is quite overprotective of her. But Isla agrees to partner with him. Tsukasa and Isla are taken out to the field by Michiru Kinushima and Zack. Tsukasa sees the process of retrieving a Giftia from a family. Because a Giftia has been part of the family for so long, when their time is up, there are lots of emotions in saying goodbye. Part of the law states that since a Giftia’s memory is full of its owner’s personal information, it is a reason why the owners must be present till the end in order to prevent leaks. Well, seems like an easy job but Tsukasa would be dead wrong if he thinks every retrieval would be this easy. Not every owner will easily sign and release their Giftia. Take for instance this old lady, Chizu Shirohana who is never letting her Nina go. They’ve been here the umpteenth time and she’s not changing her mind. Of course they can’t give up and need to try again. They’ll go retrieve others first before coming back for this one. Isla who claims she is a veteran in handling this starts freezing up when it’s her turn. This causes the owner and Giftia to flee. Isla tries to chase but crashes into the dumpster. They get complaints and Kazuki warns Tsukasa not to push Isla this far again.

Tsukasa and Isla are given another shot to convince Chizu. Isla thought having tea would let her in. Nope. After sinking into depression that Nina’s time limit is till tomorrow, Isla can’t give up now. Next day, she returns with… Tea and snacks? Nope. Desperate, Isla climbs into the house! Is this legal? This is where she meets Nina for the first time and hopes she would have tea. Chizu wanted to send her away but Nina says she’s dirty from climbing in and should at least let her take a shower. Tsukasa tries to offer Chizu discounts and other goodies as per company policy if she hands Nina over but gets lectured about viewing Nina as an object. To her, Nina is her only family. She’d rather die than live without her. Nina talks to Isla and she knows her time is up. Of course she is scared but if she goes back that way, she’ll cause trouble for others and she wouldn’t want grandma to be sad. The truth is, she wants to say goodbye to her with a smile. Chizu heard these heartbreaking words and finally agrees to let them take Nina. After they had a little tea party of course. Nina left lots of reminders for grandma to do after she is gone. Don’t worry Nina, grandma will be fine. Another mission complete but the mood ruined when Isla mentions she needs to go to the toilet and can’t hold in much longer anymore. Drank too much tea?

Episode 2
Yasutaka Hanada is one of the veteran Spotters of the company. Despite so, he has this very casual attitude. Yasutaka is interested to know how he landed this job. Does his have good connections? Seems his father was an old friend with the company president, Shinya Godou. He did Tsukasa a special favour to work in his company but if he finds he is a poor fit, he will not hesitate to fire him. In another retrieval job, Isla sounded like a thug trying to retrieve a Giftia. No wonder they ran for their lives! She even tripped while chasing them! How did this even happen? So leave it to Michiru to clean up his mess (and a whole bunch of lecture). Later Kazuki talks to Tsukasa to find out how things are going on between them. Kazuki was once Isla’s Spotter. When Tsukasa returns to the office (Kazuki getting drunk and all), he sees Isla practising in the testing room. He meets in-house engineers, Mikijirou Testuguro and Eru Miru. They are testing her efficiency since she is back out in the field and needs regular maintenance. Tsukasa goes talk to her about this and it seems Isla is feeling bad for holding him back. She feels her body isn’t moving the way she wants to. If she becomes a liability, she fears they might have to break up as a team. Tsukasa remains positive and to handle things resourcefully. He assures to rely on him till she gets her rhythm back. Michiru talks to Isla. Something tells me she is waiting for the moment to hear something is wrong and use it as an excuse to yell at Tsukasa. Maybe she just jumped the gun about him faking reports or something? And so she goes to lecture Tsukasa about Giftias having souls too and that retrieving them isn’t just enough. Otherwise their job would just end up creating sadness. He must understand the owner and Giftia. Tsukasa thought Isla had been training herself to get back up to speed and make up for lost time. Till Yasutaka explains that her chart has a steady decline. Although Giftias learn like humans, there is no such thing for them to get back up to speed. They are not programmed to forget in the first place. Therefore it is useless for Isla to train as she will always remain as who she is. And he is sure Isla is aware of that herself. In the next retrieval, Tsukasa handles the negotiation to prevent the owner and Giftia from running away. The retrieval ends successfully. Kazuki talks to Yasutaka about Tsukasa’s latest report. She knows he hasn’t told Tsukasa about Isla’s condition. Her terminus is in 2,000 hours.

Episode 3
Tsukasa is now required to live with Isla since Spotters and their Giftia are partners. He will move in to live with Isla who is currently living in the company’s dorm. How come Michiru is the one who is most ‘concerned’ about them living together? Like when Tsukasa accidentally read Isla’s diary (she sounded like a different person in it), she starts berating this unethical thing till Zack reminds her that she is the one to talk. On the opposite, Eru is rooting for Tsukasa to have a rosy life with Isla. Anything you don’t know, just ask her. And she doesn’t mind teaching him a few stuffs… However in the room, Isla mostly ignores Tsukasa and just sits in her corner dejectedly. This also causes him to become dejected. Don’t worry. The other guys are here to help him out with their manly advice. Oh no. Am I seeing some sort of trend here? Each time Tsukasa tries to impress Isla, no reaction from her but the commotion causes Michiru from next door to barge in and tell them to pipe down. Then she gets pissed in seeing a very ambiguous situation. From her view it usually looks like Tsukasa is assaulting Isla! Whether he is trying to work out to show his muscles, cooking, a bouquet of roses (bee attack!), wearing a goth loli dress from Eru (must be that desperate, huh?) and even advice from the master himself Yasutaka about doing things by force but make it look like an accident. When everything fails, Kazuki suggests taking her out somewhere. So this guy is trying to read from a manual how to score with girls? Just be natural. If he can. So on a pretence that they’re going out on a job, he takes her shopping to buy clothes. I don’t even know how Isla can even get tangled up in trying out a dress! After buying herbs, Tsukasa thought riding the Ferris Wheel would be perfect but Isla tells him that she was not built to have fun at the amusement park. End of story. Sad girl. Sad boy. He later returns home and as usual, sees her spacing out in the darkness. He gives her a keychain he bought from the amusement park as a gift. For the first time they had a decent tea together. But after Tsukasa goes to bed, it is back to that same dejected spot for Isla.

Episode 4
You can’t blame Tsukasa for being so happy in the morning since Isla greeted him. But he gets thrown out by Michiru since Isla is changing. So why is Michiru getting vocal about the life of Tsukasa and Isla when Isla clearly says she doesn’t mind about it? Before they start work, they are being reminded by their company memo to be cautious about a scumbag who is trying to con people using their name to steal Giftias to be sold on the black market. Tsukasa and Isla are to meet Souta Wakanae and retrieve his Giftia, Marcia (MAMIKO NOTOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but they are met by Marcia instead. She is quite a happy person as she summarizes about Souta’s life. Including the passing of his parents 3 years ago. When Souta returns from school, he is rushing to get rid of Marcia and being pushy to sign the papers. How can such a lovable kid hate her? She views Marcia as a liar. He has been this way ever since Marcia told him about her lifespan. He thought everything in his life was a lie, including his memories of his parents. Meanwhile Yamanobe is being chewed out about the high operating expenses of his division. If he cannot solve this by the next meeting, Godou has his own idea on how to solve it. Marcia tells Tsukasa that Souta’s birthday is today and they agree to help plan a surprise party. So while he is out at school, they start the preparations. Had not Michiru offered her help, it could have been a real disaster in the kitchen with Tsukasa and Isla being more amateurs then helpful. Michiru could understand Souta although their case is very opposite. Unlike Souta, Michiru was raised by her father who is a Giftia. When his time came, she wanted to keep him as long as she could. Because of that, he became a Wanderer. A Giftia who surpassed the limited hours will start losing their personality and memories. As they can only function on instinct, they may even be a danger to society. Tsukasa is so touched by her story that his tears are just annoying her. Regret telling him this much? Once Souta comes home, they pop the surprise. Still not happy he never asked any of this? What’s the point of this when they’ll all be going away? But he remembers what Michiru earlier said about the recent memories he had. Were they not true? Then he thinks back of all the good times he had with his family. He is overcome with emotion and apologizes to Marcia for calling her a liar. Marcia says everyone will always be in his heart forever and watching over him. A day before Marcia’s retrieval, a strange man claiming to be retrieving Marcia on behalf of Tsukasa and Isla knocks on Souta’s door.

Episode 5
The suspicious guy tasers Marcia returning from shopping. When she doesn’t return, Souta calls Tsukasa and tells him what happened. They fear the worst that the guy is from the black market. So it becomes top priority to look for and retrieve Marcia since she has around 24 hours left. Yamanobe reports to Godou who initiates R. Security for this emergency. No luck in finding Marcia and it is already breaking dawn. When the gang runs into a roadblock by R. Security, Kazuki tries to haggle to talk to their superior. She is not pleased it is Shinonome. Seems there is bad blood between them and because she has some dirt on him (his guilty body actions make it obvious), she gets him to disclose some information and map of the area they believe the black market guys are hiding out. Yasutaka gives Tsukasa a gun that only Spotters can use. It is only as last resort because the beam although it doesn’t hurt humans, it sends a virus into the Giftia’s programme and forces it to crash. No prizes to guess what happens to the memories. That kid is now more worried than ever. Kazuki has her team get ready to work with R. Security. Something Michiru is not happy with because we see snippets of her flashback how her dad was mercilessly shot by them. Then Tsukasa has to be insensitive to ask her past and so she’s ‘obliged’ to tell us. When her father is in Wanderer state, Kazuki is about to retrieve him but those R. Security guys led by Shinonome wanted to take it out. Because Michiru was manhandled, her dad turned violent and in the process broke Kazuki’s leg. He was then shot down like target practice. And now Tsukasa is determined to do what he can so that history won’t repeat itself? Well, let’s hope he won’t be a dead weight. Yasutaka has found the hideout but it looks like the black market guy is knocked out and totally bruised. Marcia is nowhere to be seen. You do the math. Not good. Kazuki assumes the worst and for her team to at least retrieve Marcia before R. Security. Call it luck or not, Marcia bumps into Kazuki and Isla. You starting to freeze, Tsukasa? Making it worse, Souta is here too. The moment he calls her, Marcia turns violent and hurts Isla before kidnapping Souta. Isla believes she can still continue to look for Marcia. In that condition? Well, let’s just hope. Kazuki blackmails Shinonome about her prosthetic leg to make him give them more time to retrieve Marcia before his team takes her out. Now that Tsukasa has found Marcia, I suppose a little diplomacy wouldn’t hurt. Yeah. Talk about those good memories. It always seems to work at first before it turns bad for dramatic effect. Because now Marcia turns violent and is strangling Souta. Will Tsukasa resort in using the gun? He pulls the trigger.

Episode 6
Flashback shows Isla and Kazuki’s partnership. It ended after Kazuki’s leg was amputated. Although Marcia’s case has been solved (as briefly told by Yamanobe), Tsukasa will be grounded to desk jobs till Isla can be up and running for field work again. The scene of him shooting Marcia, reverting her back to normal before collapsing shortly haunts him. There are lots of gloom and doom and everybody trying to cheery everybody up. The girls go talk to Tsukasa and Eru thinks she is in love with him. I think it is just Eru who is obsessed with the idea of knowing more about Tsukasa and thus going to great lengths to stalk this guy at work and after work. Even crossing the line by peeping at him in the shower! There’s Sherry to put a stop to this farce… Isla wonders if Tsukasa is working real hard to help her. Has he already forgotten about Souta and Marcia. Michiru explains they went to see Souta the last time while he was moving. The kid wondered where Marcia went and needed to see her as he had not said his goodbyes yet. All Tsukasa could do was to apologize and this broke the kid’s heart. Poor kid. After Isla is given the green light to return to field work, she returns to her dorm but Tsukasa is not there. She waits but he never came back. So she goes look for him and finds him talking to Kazuki. She tells him the whole truth. Isla has only about 1000 hours left. That is around a month. Tsukasa is in shock. Kazuki gives him a choice to cut ties with her and get a new replacement but of course he wants to be with Isla till the very end. That make you happy, Isla? So when he returns to the dorm, there Isla is, greeting him with the nicest smile ever. Ah, girls. They act all so nice either they want something from you or they heard those magical words. And now she’s playing his wife. Isn’t this what you wanted, Tsukasa? So why freak out?

Episode 7
Tsukasa is thinking of asking Isla out on a date on their next day off. I guess with him being nervous, he easily gets distracted. He must be desperate enough to get the guys’ advice. Still not successful thanks to Isla’s klutz. Eventually Tsukasa himself is surprised that Isla agrees when he pops the question. Eventually Kazuki finds out and gives him an earful. Not that she opposes but he better carry his weight. And then eventually Michiru learns about it. So really she’s not bothered by it? But your tsundere-ness is showing so obvious… Now it’s Isla’s turn to talk to the girls on what to do on the date. She is going to need all the advice she’s going to get since she has no clue to even where they should go. Finally Isla decides she wants to go to the amusement park. Hmm… Wasn’t that the place where she rejected him? I guess she wants to make up. I guess he’s just happy. At the park, there is a bench spot she loves to sit. It brings back lots of memories. This is where she could see everyone’s smile. This is where Kazuki told her they can’t be partners 3 years ago. So as not to spoil the mood, they have fun the usual around the park. Things are looking romantic in the Ferris Wheel and you thought Tsukasa suddenly turned into a leecher when he drops his face on her boobs! Actually he collapsed! What a way to ruin the mood? I guess it must be a long tiring day. Next time he wakes up, Isla already brought him back to his bed. (Meanwhile a certain tsundere is outside the room giving all sorts of excuses not to intrude on them – okay, so go home). Isla tells him she has not much time left. He knows. This still doesn’t change the fact he wants to be her partner till the end.

Episode 8
After Tsukasa makes another retrieval, this prompts him to wonder why Giftias do not retain their memories after getting a new OS. For every staff he asks, the same answer it is not possible. Even Michiru gives him the low down about the cost saving of using the same Giftia instead of a new one. Tsukasa and Isla will temporarily have another helper because the owner and the Giftia target have run away so she’s here in their area to search for them. They meet Andie and the moment Eru sees her, she is so happy that she starts harassing her boobs. Andie didn’t like her especially she doesn’t remember who she is. Eru thinks she’s got the wrong person and leaves. But she notes that she has totally lost her memories. Andie and the duo go chase down the runaway owner. The girlfriend is crying and pleading for her Giftia boyfriend to stay with her till the end. Looks like it’s not happening. End of the world. For her. Tsukasa learns from Yasutaka what Andie did wasn’t wrong and is in fact standard procedure. It is only their branch that goes the extra mile (started by Kazuki) and this incurs extra costs and Yamanobe always get an earful from the boss. Eru talks to Tsukasa and Isla about Andie. She was once known as Olivia and was her neighbour. There are picture proofs of their time together. No prizes to guess what happened to her when her time was up. Therefore it was more cost effective just to replace her OS than dispose of her. Shortly, Eru comes seeking Tsukasa’s help. She sounds like she is in big trouble. Eru talked to Andie about a festival tonight and she is excited to go. Thing is, that festival holds lots of memories for Eru and Olivia. So… Why ask his help to accompany her there? Because so, a certain tsundere is really bothered and she might start thinking too much. Anyway, kind Tsukasa agrees and Isla also wants to tag along. After having their fun night, Eru tells Tsukasa that she’ll bring Andie somewhere next year and doesn’t want to mix up her memories with Olivia. Tsukasa realizes Isla is missing (because he was paying more attention to Andie than her so she ‘ran off’). He finds her sitting on a bench alone but she is happy he came for her. She asks if she is hurting him (because in Andie’s case her memories didn’t come back and it hurt Eru). If so, she doesn’t want to be his partner. His answer: A big hug. You silly girl. He admits it hurts so much that his heart is about to explode. Still, he wants to be her partner till the end. But why? Isn’t it obvious? Because he loves you! It took a while for Isla to digest that before she realizes how embarrassing it is and rejects him! Bummer.

Episode 9
Tsukasa is so dead at work. Yasutaka messes with his hair and shows him porn. No reaction. This is serious. Isla continue to work like normal. No reaction. This is serious. Michiru talks to Isla and after being surprised by the confession and rejection, Isla finally puts up that panicky mode. Is this some sort of delayed reaction? Isla describes in detail what happened and the tsundere is just being tsundere with her comments. So why is her face red if she says she doesn’t care? As part of the plan to cheer them up, Zack is forced to accompany Tsukasa but that kid isn’t obviously interested with a gloomy guy around. Michiru is supposed to join Eru with Isla but she is busy playing tsundere with Tsukasa and relates her experience when she lost her dad and Kazuki gave her the motivation to work for this company in which she takes pride. Speaking of Isla, Eru has put on bunny pyjamas on her. I think this trauma is going to shorten her lifespan. More animal pyjamas… It’s getting shorter… When Isla sees Tsukasa and Michiru talking together, she gets the wrong idea and ends up in running away in her typical panic mode. After catching up to her and Isla has calmed down, she hopes Tsukasa can give her more time to think about his confession. Of course. Later Michiru talks to Isla again and the former is very surprised when the latter has come to a decision about her head going dizzy and heart pounding like crazy whenever she is near Tsukasa. She is going to stay away from him. WTF?! But it hits Michiru when Isla reveals she only has about a month left. So the tsundere calls out Tsukasa to talk to him about this. Why does a tsundere need consoling? She feels bad for saying bad things to them without knowing this. Would she have said it differently had she knew? As for why Tsukasa still confessed to her and knew what will happen, it is because he wants to make memories with her and do something for her. Since when did the tsundere care about him hurting himself. Oh, she always did, right? With him deciding to be Isla’s partner till the very end, Michiru decides to support them all the way. I mean, he is an amateur in love, right? What better way to get a tsundere’s help. When he returns to his room, Kazuki is waiting. She announces as of today their partnership is dissolved.

Episode 10
Citing office romance is prohibited, Kazuki tells Tsukasa that they will swap partners. Kazuki will get back Isla and Tsukasa will work with Constance. Now that she’s got Isla back, she doesn’t know what to do! I guess she’ll do it the way she knows best: Get drunk. And doodle all over Isla’s face. Tsukasa tells what happened and of course they confirm there is no such rule prohibiting office romance. Heck, Kazuki was the one who had office romance years ago. Sherry knows something about it but won’t say. After Kazuki officially announces the partnership switch (I guess she doesn’t need Yamanobe’s approval whatsoever), Tsukasa talks to Kazuki again to request their partnership be reinstated. She will not do so and claims the damage will be irreparable had Isla been left in his care. Heading out to the field job with Constance, Tsukasa learns about their costly and timely retrieval process was suggested by Isla. Such method would never have been approved by the board. After Kazuki-Isla partnership was dissolved, Kazuki went about to talk to other people about it. This shows how much Kazuki loves Isla. Speaking of them, they are in the process of retrieving a Giftia whose owner is a mafia head! Kazuki has to hold back herself while Isla does the negotiating. She’ll not forgive those mafia crooks if they lay a finger on her. Surprisingly, Isla’s negotiation got through. The mafia boss allows his Giftia bodyguard to go but with a condition that Isla spends time with her. Isla agrees but also with a condition that he joins them. After the job is done, Isla confronts Kazuki about the unfairness of it all. Believing that their line of work is never rewarded, she needs things with Tsukasa to stay the same way. Then Kazuki drills it into her that she thinks she might be doing it for Tsukasa’s sake but acting like that won’t do them any good. As humans, they’ll eventually have regrets and start blaming themselves forever. This makes Isla think that despite the happy times with Kazuki, regret was all she had. So next day in office, after summoning every inch of her courage, Isla confronts Tsukasa. Prepare for some live office drama. She admits she was wrong in thinking they shouldn’t make more memories but staying apart just made it more painful. All she could see him in the future is lonely and sad. There would be nothing good to remember of her. That is why she wants to continue making memories with him till the very end. And finally, the words that seal it, “I love you”. Office people rejoice? Tissues please.

Episode 11
Isla writes in her diary that Tsukasa has become her boyfriend. Their first day as an official couple is a clumsy one. Not used to it, huh? What’s the difference? Hadn’t they been together since? Of course this means teasing by their colleagues like Eru and Zack and since Michiru continues being a tsundere, Eru teases her that she wants to be confessed too. And Yasutaka becomes the relationship advisor. He tells them the secret to a relationship is always surprising the partner. Well, he is the master slacker and womanizer after all. Isla thinks of cooking for Tsukasa so as Kazuki suggests, go look for Michiru to help. At first the tsundere jumps the gun thinking they’ve gone too far and done a lot of things in their relationship. Then she realizes she wants to cook for him so that they can go back and do things normally. Ever since being a couple, talking and facing him seems harder to do. And since they don’t know what Tsukasa likes, the best way is to go ask him straight in the face. Tsukasa is surprised by this and thinks Isla beat him to it. But he doesn’t feel right Isla only doing something special. With Constance suggesting they cook together, I guess it’s a cue for all the third wheels to leave the lovebirds to their own device. So we see them doing their day job, going shopping, some romantic moments and finally cooking together omelette rice. Isla is embarrassed drawing a heart shape with the tomato sauce so Tsukasa shows it how it’s done. Personally, I thought it looked like a butt shape from upside down! Isla adds more entries to her diary and shows it to Tsukasa. Although embarrassed, she finds it enjoyable and happy.

Episode 12
Isla wakes up in the night crying that she doesn’t want to be alone. Don’t worry. Tsukasa is here for you. At work, Michiru gives them a surprise movie ticket. Yeah, I know. She has no use for them. Don’t put it to waste. Go watch them. Then the rest of the staffs start giving freebies to them like a vacation to some resort and fine dining. Yasutaka even gives permission to drive his car! It would be a waste not to honour their kindness, right? Enjoy the nice romantic moments while you can. When Kazuki calls Tsukasa, she hands him a retrieval agreement on Isla. She wants him to sign it. I guess it’s already that time. Don’t falter now. When Tsukasa pours tea for Michiru, she is bloody shocked to see him here instead of spending time with Isla as what the office wants. Yeah well, they’re so free that he got Isla to teach him to make them tea. Michiru is going crazy… But as Isla explains, they want to carry on what they normally do together as usual. They want to treasure the time spent here as much as they spent with each other. Oh Michiru, you were being concerned, weren’t you? That night, Tsukasa with a heavy heart shows the agreement. He has this crazy thought to elope together. But Isla would have no other people than him sign the agreement. And reluctantly he does so. After the duo do their final job of receiving the mafia boss’ Giftia, they return for an office party. Kazuki gives the permission to drink and be merry during office hours. Entertainment includes magic show and karaoke session. Michiru becomes embarrassed when Zack tells on her that she was the one who planned this party. Good thing everybody had fun. Tsukasa carries Isla back once it’s over. Isla feels very happy. She did so many things that it’s hard to fit them all in her diary. She whispers to him that she hopes he’ll reunite with the person he cherishes.

Episode 13
Last day is here. Watch the sunrise together. Oh, so romantic. Take a bath together. Nothing steamy, mind you. Visit the workplace but Kazuki takes away Isla’s staff badge to ‘free’ her. This means they’ve got lots of time on their hands. Amusement park. Lots of fun. Time flies when you’re having fun. End of day. Park is closed. Isla managed to convince the Ferris Wheel operator to ride (because you would be branded a cold hearted ass if you don’t grant a dying person’s last wish). Isla talks about his possible future. He might get a new girlfriend. Is she being rude? More talking. Then it’s time to retrieve her. Can Tsukasa do it? He is shaking. His tears are flowing. She thanks him. Gives him courage. Hugs him. The final kiss. Heck, we didn’t even get to see it properly. Mission accomplished. Tsukasa carries Isla’s lifeless body down to Kazuki who is waiting. More tears. Breakdown harder than ever. Tsukasa reads a note left behind by Isla intended to be read after she is ‘dead’. Thanks everybody for a wonderful time. You know the drill. Everybody also gets to read it. Can’t hide emotions. It’s tearing up our eyes. Now it’s Tsukasa’s turn for his monologue. He is wondering how he would tackle life if it was predetermined. Easy. Living it to the fullest. Tsukasa returns 9 months later after some training stint. His colleagues welcome him back as Kazuki presents to him his new Giftia partner.

Plastic Romance, Plastic Life
Maybe I am not in my form for this season or at this very stretch of time. Because personally I find the romance drama between our main characters to be draggy and boring. Don’t get me wrong. The idea of having a human and an android living out the best of their remaining time together and knowing the fact that the final day will ultimate be here is a nice and tragic setting for romance and drama lovers. Then they try to up the emotional rate with ‘quality time’ Tsukasa x Isla moments in hopes of pulling some heartstrings but at this point I’m feeling so disconnected already. Not to say that I’m a big fan of such genres but I wouldn’t brush it off and still love watching it from time to time. So forgive me for being bias if I am calling the Tsukasa x Isla romance to be uninteresting. Yeah, maybe I’m not in my season.

Unfortunately, the plot itself is already as boring as one could predict from the first episode. Maybe it was too much to expect something like a twist and just wishful thinking. Because for the main characters to be spending a hell lot of time together, at work and even living together, there are so many uneventful events happening between them. We can blame the nervousness of being virgins at love and trying to learn more about each other without crossing the line and hurt the other. But that is given in any kind of relationship. So it gets somewhat boring after a while trying to figure out if Tsukasa and Isla will ever make it. Even more so with the ‘threat’ of Isla’s limited time left on the line so we are already being told that this is going to be a limited time love affair. Literally. So they’re trying to cram in a lot of memories with the limited time Isla has and ironically it is those memories that Isla is at risk to lose at the end of her lifespan. Tragic love story, literally.

So as not to end it in a total tragedy and loss for everybody, they leave you with an open ending that has you wonder if Tsukasa’s new partner is again Isla. It could be. It could be not. Because if he had seen that familiar face again, Tsukasa would have shown us that flabbergasted surprised mug instead of that nice-to-meet-this-new-person look. After all, we never got to look at the Giftia’s face despite her hand is suspiciously similar to Isla’s. Even if she was Isla, 9 months away at training is a long time for a human and you know humans being famous for having short memory. So the shock of losing Isla the first time made him numb and thus the reunion didn’t make him the least surprise. Whatever you choose to believe in, looks like Tsukasa has chosen to move on instead of being held back by the past which is now relegated to just memories.

I can’t help feel the characters are weak and shallow overall. They don’t really grow on you despite the big romance drama between Tsukasa and Isla. Maybe it is the overall sentiment that this show is going down the boring gutter so my mind has switched off in trying to see the characters they aren’t that all bad. Maybe with some ‘jokers’ around they make you laugh but once that is over, it is back to the mundane Tsukasa x Isla drama and at this point it might become unbearable so you just hope that some sort of virus would just crash the system and end it all. Hah. Okay, so it wasn’t that bad but I just wished the characters especially the side ones would help in making the series slightly interesting.

Tsukasa is already starting off as a typical male protagonist with a good heart. Everybody loves a character like that but with so many other characters in other series, this one makes him just look boring. Maybe he is still a young kid. Remember, he is out fresh from college. And perhaps he has never fallen in love before during his studying years (human girls don’t interest him, perhaps? Gay?) and ironically seeing this frail Giftia girl, his love hormones start raging. Maybe it is in guys’ genes that they want to love and protect weak girls? Despite assurance after assurance that he will be with Isla till the very end, I wonder if he can move on once the inevitable happens. Can he find a new love after that? Or will he be ‘stuck’ forever with Isla clouding his mind? Usually guys like him as the main character harbour some kind of dark past. Heck, you don’t even know anything about Tsukasa prior to working here. So we assume that he has quite a cosy and rosy life before coming out to the work force, eh?

Isla is a mixed baggage. She started off as having no emotions but slowly develops them the more time she spends with Tsukasa. Sometimes she is a funny girl because of the lack of her understanding of social situations and this is compounded further as she is clumsy. In a way it makes her cute and adorable. Really. You’ll see her spouting her trademark error lines when she doesn’t understand something or purposely refuses to acknowledge something. Those errors seem to be non-existent towards the end of the series. Did being with Tsukasa fix it all?

The rest of the other characters in the series also seem to be one dimensional. Like Michiru who is playing the tsundere role so hard, it is as though she jumped out from some manga or she might be a Giftia implanted with tsundere qualities. Maybe there isn’t any decent guy her age before Tsukasa arrived so you kinda noticed her always trying to admonish him for whatever and especially her trademark line of why she hates amateurs. I don’t know. Sometimes it makes me think that she’s saying something about herself. So will she try if Tsukasa is ready to get a real human girlfriend? Don’t know. Don’t care anymore.

Zack’s only purpose I see is to tease Michiru because he looks like a bored kid who only gets his kicks when Michiru goes into tsundere mode. Then there is the big sister Kazuki who acts like the big mother for Tsukasa, giving him warnings if he does something wrong to Isla. If she cared so much about Isla, why not just reinstate their partnership? I just don’t get it. Then there’s the rest of the colleagues like the lazy worker but hardworking lady killer Yasutaka, Sherry who could only put him in line, the under fire section chief Yamanobe, his manly assistant what’s-his-name-already, Eru the lively mechanic and finally Constance whom I feel is the closest of what is like being a robot. I thought Godou would turn into the ‘antagonist’ seeing his scary and intimidating authority. I don’t know. Maybe they found out some company dark secrets and scandal and now this terminal section is going to be targeted and eliminated? Heck. I thought this would be far more interesting than the forced melodrama romance tragedy that we get.

There is one thing that really bugs me. Considering that with the high technology of making Giftias so life-like having emotions (dude, they can even cry real tears!) and artificial intelligence that you couldn’t even tell them apart as a human being, it still makes me wonder why the heck they could never improve on a Giftia’s lifespan of around 9 years. With such a long time, people would have already settled down, get used to the Giftia who is always and usually by that time treated as part of the family. And then blam! Bad news. Time’s up. Got to retrieve the Giftia and put the family through the anguish of separation. WTF.

That’s why I never get it. Why the heck nobody ever tried to experiment and research on how to prolong a Giftia’s lifespan. Lots of heartbreaking troubles could be saved. Unless of course the bottom line is money. Where would the business be if things last forever? How would a business make profit if say, your car lasts forever, right? I mean, things do not naturally last forever but in the Giftia’s case, at least for a lifetime. Maybe there is something that I don’t understand, including when the memories of them being retrieved or why not just put the memories in another new body. That is why I think that this Giftia business is lucrative enough that it has got a black market for it.

This comes to the question of if Giftias do actually think and feel the same emotions as human beings. Remember, they are still robots who are programmed to possess all those. Even the act of them feeling empathy and reacting so could be all boil down to the way they are programmed. And because we humans see it as so close to the real thing, sometimes we get confused and accept that they are all real. As seen several times in this anime, sometimes Isla needs to be explained what a certain feeling is all about despite going through them a few times. So could it be that those feelings are also ‘manufactured’?

But I think given that even without this thought, overall the Giftias in this series lack the impact that would make viewers want to care about them. If minor Giftias being retrieved do not even make us shed tears (those in-anime family members crying over their departing Giftia might add to the effect but seriously that didn’t affect a thing), what more Isla as the main character Giftia? It only stems to make us not giving a sh*t about Giftias in the end. And if Giftias are recycled with new personalities to save cost (refer to Andie’s case), then could it be that all Giftias are family members of past families? Could Isla have been somebody’s little sister 10 years ago? Where is her body now? How would she be reused in the future? I know it is more shocking the more you think about it so I’m just going to stop here…

Art and drawing are nothing to shout about but they’re okay and better compared to the plot and characters. Yeah… Nice bright colours and cute looking girls, oh yeah. I’m sure that it lessens the pain on what we’ve just seen. Despite a handful of the futuristic stuffs we’ve seen, it still pretty much feels like living in the current age. I don’t know, I thought Giftias should be equipped with certain tools like knives or guns where they can just switch their normal hands into. You know, like a robot. But I guess for ‘realism’ and to be close to humans, I suppose we don’t get to see Giftias pulling off such cool manoeuvres because it might just freak out the family who wants a pretty normal life. That itself is an irony already. Seriously, Giftias replacing your missing family members or as companion? Maybe they’re more like humanoid versions of pets, don’t you think? Uhm… Better stop thinking…

Voice acting wise, apart from my numero uno seiyuu’s cameo, I wasn’t really bothered by the rest although they’re not too shabby. But I’ll list them down for routine. The casts include Yasuaki Takumi as Tsukasa (Shouta in Mujaki No Rakuen), Sora Amamiya as Isla (Asseylum in Aldnoah.Zero), Megumi Toyoguchi as Kazuki (Chifuyu in Infinite Stratos), Chinatsu Akasaki as Michiru (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby), Sayurai Yahagi as Zack (Haruna in To Love-Ru), Sumire Uesaka as Eru (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Kenjiro Tsuda as Yasutaka (Inui in Prince Of Tennis), Aimi Terakawa as Sherry (Kazumi in Futari Wa Milky Holmes) and Satoshi Hino as Constance (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima). The opening theme is Ring of Fortune by Eri Sasaki while the ending theme as Asayake No Starmine by Asami Imai. Both are lovely and add some emotional effect to the overall drama of the series.

It is sad to say that my sentiments for this anime are like the many other viewer comments that I have read. And I have to agree with one that even mentioned how this series was already like in its title name itself. Plastic as in fake and artificial. Just about everything feels like it. Watch this show only if you feel that it will make you appreciate other slightly better tragic romance dramas out there. This show is the reason why I will never get a life-like Giftia even if tomorrow the great scientist minds of the world announce of this possibility. Ever the more reason to stick to my traditional 2D anime girls and fantasize all the crazy delusions and times we spend together in my head. It’s so much cheaper and satisfying that way without the heartbreaking moment of separation. Paper and polygons beat plastic anytime!

Isuca OVA

January 1, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!!! Wow! Has it already been a full decade ever since I started my full obsession with anime? Yeah, well. Like they say, time flies. Before you know it, 10 years have already passed and all I am left are wonderful (and not so wonderful) memories of animes that I have watched. Heck, I don’t think I can even remember them. So let me hope for more wonderful (and less disappointing) anime memories for the year and hopefully I’ll still be around for another decade doing the things I love :-).

If the only thing you remembered from the TV series was the totally annoying censored fanservice and couldn’t care less about the plot and want more uncensored fanservice instead, then I’ve got some good news for you. Isuca OVA is just that. If you couldn’t remember the plot or in the even if you do and hope to learn a little bit more about it, you can forget about it for this OVA. Because this OVA is a blatant shameless attempt to milk more money out of horny fans and curious viewers with a beach episode that has little and even nothing to do with the plot from the TV series. I can’t believe I said all that already in the opening paragraph. Well, time to get your 2 cents worth of fanservice…

Gokuraku
Ah yes. Shinichirou and his harem girls arrive on an uninhabited island for some fun and relaxation in the sandy sun. Your first fanservice is here. Shinichirou alights the boat and when he tries to grab Sakuya, he accidentally grabbed her boobs. She pushes him away. He loses balance. They haven’t changed yet and he is already playing in the water? More fanservice as we see the girls changing. More risqué fanservice because Tamako wears band aids to cover her tits and crotch. Barely safe. Then there is this awkward scene of Sakuya wanting Shinichirou to put lotion on her body. I mean, he has to touch her if she wants some lotion applied, right? And then she has to unhook her top so he could better spread it and not stain the swimsuit. All going smoothly (no pun intended) until Suseri and Tamako start fighting over Shinichirou in a boobs battle. And there is even a sexy fanservice from Nadeshiko on that guy. Poor Sakuya goes off alone complaining. But as she sits alone at the cliff, she hears an eerie child-like voice singing an equally eerie song. When Sakuya tries to ask Nami about this, she says they are the only ones on the island. When everyone is hungry, it seems they are on this island is for self training. Nami only has emergency rations: Newt on a stick. Why is Tamako trying to force Shinichirou to eat all of them? Shinichirou goes to pick some edible plants in the forest. That is when he hears a song. He follows it and sees a little girl. When Sakuya comes by, she starts getting scared when he explains. Wait a minute. A girl who hunts spectres is scared of ghosts? Sakuya sits on his shoulder to grab fruits on a tree. I don’t think the balance can be steady if they keep thinking about weird things. Jealous Tamako bumps into them, causing Sakuya’s butt to be exposed. Who is faulted again? Nami wonders why Shinichirou is keeping half his face hidden. I guess that slap mark is pretty embarrassed. Nami laughs and wonders what kind of perversion he did to earn it. In fact, she approves and recommends it!

When Tamako is out to fetch water, the rest hear her screams and find her almost drowned. Tamako relates that she felt somebody pushing her. Nami then explains about some curse of this island. Something about someone who breaks up couples who get in the way of his training. So far 15 couples have died and if you hear a certain song, it is certainly that curse! Everyone is scared not because of her story but rather her freaking scary expression! In short, Tamako almost got killed for trying to interfere with somebody’s love. Though, Tamako denies ever doing any of that sort. As they go to find the culprit, Sakuya is sticking close to Shinichirou like a leech. Tamako gets jealous seeing them so close together and before she knows it, she disappears. The gang also realizes Nami and Nadeshiko are gone. Then some whirlwind eats up Suseri and Matsuri. Sakuya and Shinichiro are left as they return to camp. Sakuya is worried about the enemy because if the enemy can take out grandma in one fell swoop, what will be of them? Shinichirou assures he will always protect her. It makes her blush but also at the same time feel lucky to have him. Hmm… The mood is getting right. She sits close to him as she tells him her fear of everyone important disappearing and leaving her alone. What if he disappears too? Shinichirou promises he will never disappear. They’ll always be together. Now that the mood is right, it is time for them to kiss. A big commotion is heard from behind. Could you believe it? Everyone was spying on them! I guess they got too impatient of this scene. I saw it coming right from the start… Next day as they wait for their ride back, it is revealed to be Nami and Nadeshiko’s plan. They thought their relationship is full of anxiety and thought of giving them a push. When their boat arrives, a giant squid attacks it. Shinichirou thought it is one of Nami’s pranks but since she says it isn’t… Stuck on the island?

Cheesy Sexy Time
As if it wasn’t bad enough, personally I felt that everything here just felt cheesy and mediocre. Firstly, the fanservice. I don’t know, it seems the bare tits felt of ‘low quality’. Sure, no censors seeing that this is the OVA but looking at the pantsu and swimsuit fanservice were hardly anything satisfying to even get a boner. Hah… Secondly, the cheesy and forced romance between Shinichirou and Sakuya. Believe me, I already saw it coming at the start and so when they had their moment alone to be together and all that, I already knew it wasn’t going to work out. Everything was just part of a bigger plan. Thirdly, that ending sucked. So why a giant squid destroying their ride? What the heck does it mean? It would have been more forgivable and tolerable if they put a mindless fanservice if everyone got tentacle raped by it even if it’s for no reason. That is what this OVA is all about isn’t it? You couldn’t care less about the other characters or the silliness of the plot which is simply Nami’s attempt to help get the duo closer (remember, Nami’s ability is to control dolls and thus all those little cheesy mediocre horror stuffs you see here). Sure, it is disappointing overall and definitely did even more disservice to the TV series. Well, at least thanks for the fanservice anyway. On second thought, maybe I need to go watch a better higher quality ecchi fanservice to overwrite this one…