One Punch Man

August 28, 2016

How many episodes does it take for Super Saiyan Goku to finish his fight with his arch nemesis, Frieza? Well, don’t be surprise it will take at least a minimum of 10 episodes! Oh no! Why so freaking long?! Well… One episode to arrive on scene, one episode to scream and shout at each other, one episode to power up, one episode to show off all that warm up, two episodes for flashback, one episode for warming up fight, one episode to shout out for another power up to the next level, one episode for another flashback and then ten episodes for the actual fight and another five episodes to end it. Yikes! That went over 10 episodes!!!

What am I saying? You know why superheroes take some time to defeat their enemies, right? That is because there has got to be a lot of fighting and punching in between to weaken the enemy before defeating him. Am I right? But let’s say that what happens if all that could end in just a single punch. Say what?! How can you defeat an enemy in just a single punch?! Where is the fun in all that? It will be all over too soon before we even get to sit down and warm up our seat to watch the awesome fight! Yes people. It is true that there is a superhero that could end it all in just one freaking punch. One Punch Man. The titular hero is so freaking strong and could end any fights with just a single punch that he himself has become bored and mundane. Where’s the challenge? Yeah, even he is struggling to cope with his seemingly boring ordinary daily life. There are other challenges to overcome, you know. Ah yes, whoever said being a hero is easy?

Episode 1
The city is under attack by… Purple Piccolo???!!! Oh my. Who is going to save the day? Who is going to save this poor kid about to be squished by this DBZ knockoff? Don’t worry. Here comes Saitama. This bald dude is going to save everything? Laughable! And then… One punch! Piccolo clone explodes into smithereens! OMG!!! Flashback reveals Saitama was an ordinary salaryman. Actually he is still trying to find a job and unsuccessful for the umpteenth time. He still had hair then, though. He bumps into this Crablante monster who is killing everybody in his path while finding a kid who drew nipples on his body. Because Saitama had suicidal tendencies, Crablante lets him live. Saitama then sees that kid. He thought of minding his own business but when he sees him going to be killed by Crablante for real, he instinctively saves him. Despite getting beaten up several times, Saitama then finds his ultimate strength to counter it all and pull out all his innards!!! Ever since then, he began training strictly for 3 years until he is so freaking strong enough to destroy anything with 1 punch. Along the way, he became bald. Sighs… Now he is living his mundane ordinary life. Buying his usual groceries at the store when suddenly a giant monster begins stepping all over the city. It is another case of a mad scientist who did several tests on his brother who wanted to become the strongest man in the world. Mad scientist dude revels in squishing people like ants with his giant brother. Saitama flies up on his shoulder and when mad scientist brother tells him to get rid of this bald dude, giant brother smacks the wrong shoulder! OMG! He just killed his own brother! Well, he might be strong be he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Giant brother feels empty after his brother’s death and before he could go on a rampage, Saitama defeats him with a single punch.

But Saitama has been plagued with personal issues lately. He doesn’t feel the same before when he started becoming a hero. He doesn’t feel the thrill in fighting anymore. It is like he has become an emotional robot. Because all he needs is one punch to end everything. Where is the fun in that? So he thought at least living his mundane life and doing the little things he enjoy would be okay. Then suddenly the underground people destroy his home. These Subterraneans are going to make the surface their home since the underground has been overpopulated. They are going to do this by wiping out the surface dwellers. As Saitama fights the ugly hordes, he could feel his adrenaline rushing. They put up a decent fight and this has been the thrill he had been seeking for so long. He takes on all of them and even kills off the big king. Yes! This is it! This is the exhilaration that he wants! Then suddenly… He wakes up! Damn dream sequence! But that dream may be a foreboding omen because those Subterraneans are here. Unfortunately they look pathetic. And when Saitama finishes off one of them and dares for them to come at him, the rest decide to cowardly go back and live underground forever. Yeah, they even said sorry for invading. What a letdown. Yeah, he became too strong alright.

Episode 2
Saitama might be the strongest dude but he still has a hard time trying to swat a mosquito! OMG! Is this a joke? Meanwhile the city is under curfew because of a swarm of mosquitoes sucking the blood of anything in its path. They are actually under the control of Mosquito Girl who is using them to collect blood as her food. Genos the cyborg has been tracking her down and fights her. Knowing she cannot best him, she flees to buy some time. That is when Genos stumbles onto Saitama. Still trying to kill the bug? Mosquito Girl returns with a bigger swarm to kill Genos but he burns a big radius of the city after confirming no other life forms are around. But Saitama is still alive. Only naked. Mosquito Girl has enough blood to transform into a super fast and powerful monster to rip Genos apart. Genos’ only hope is to self destruct and take her along with him. But Saitama punches her and she splatters into a big paint of blood! Seeing how strong he is, Genos wants to become his disciple and starts bugging him at his apartment. Saitama isn’t interested in taking him in but I don’t think cyborg guy is listening. He even went about telling his past of his poor but happy life till a crazy robot destroyed his town and family. He was the only survivor. Dr Kuseno performed body modifications on him and it has become his mission to find this robot but so far has found no clues. Feeling indebted to Saitama, he vows not to die before getting his revenge. Therefore he wants to study under him to obtain the greatest power to achieve his goal. His long ass story is put to a halt when Saitama screams his head off for being too long and just to summarize it in 20 words!

Meanwhile, a mad scientist, Dr Genus learns that Mosquito Girl has been defeated. But with one punch? He wants Saitama and to study him as a specimen. Before Genos can ask to start his training under Saitama, he detects presence of enemies surrounding the area. Too bad this praying mantis dude got owned by Saitama before he could finish his introduction. Then there are these weird weakling beasts outside, frog man and slug man outside the apartment, having second thoughts if this was such a good idea after all. Saitama easily knocks them underground and even lectures them about crashing through people’s ceiling. But he is also pulled under by this mole dude and confronted by cocky lion king while Genos takes on this gorilla dude. The beasts get cocky but Saitama is as his nonchalant self. He gives them a chance to apologize and go away but since that didn’t work, a single punch to kill off lion guy! Mole guy starts panicking and digs underground to hide but Saitama is waiting… How the?! Hello. Welcome to hell! Genos has defeated gorilla guy and the latter acts tough that his mouth is shut. But when Saitama brings the lion king’s eyeball, his balls shrink and will tell everything! Genus learns his beast army he sent has been eliminated. He and his clones are surprised at the turn of events.

Episode 3
Long ago, Genus was a brilliant scientist and got lots of awards. However there was a problem. None of his colleagues supported his idea of artificial evolution of humans. He became disillusioned and went on to do research on it by himself. It was till he is 70 years old that his efforts yielded results. He regained his youth, made clones and named his lab House of Evolution. Since gorilla’s summary is too long, he is told to summarize it in 20 words! In short, Genus is interested in his body. No, that is not a gay statement! Saitama wants to finish this today since tomorrow there is a sale at the supermarket. Genus and his clones detect Saitama and Genos coming towards their base. The clones become restless when Genus suggests unleashing their last trump card. They have set traps and this will only be their last resort. When the heroes arrive, Genos blasts the entire tower away! Bummer. And Saitama wanted to at least see what the enemy looked like. They find a trapdoor and an underground passage. Genus sees Carnage Kabuto. This giant beetle has been locked up underground and killing his clones. He deems himself as the strongest and most intelligent being ever although Genus sees him as a failure because he lacks humanity and is very mentally unstable. Kabuto charges through the passage and wipes out Genos. He tells Saitama to face him in a big empty underground room where it is used to test fights and such. Genos is not done yet and tries to burn Kabuto but he could easily deflect his flames. Flashback shows Genus considers everyone himself as inferior. This realization made him agonize. That is why he wants to see how this new human breed will transcend humanity.

Kabuto is cocky as usual. He is going to finish off with his super speed and strength. But when he gets behind Saitama, suddenly he starts feeling scared and backs off! Everyone is shocked with this reaction. Kabuto notes that despite his pathetic appearance, his guts is tingling that he is a freaking dangerous man. Kabuto can’t stop sweating. With everyone wanting to know how he became this strong, Saitama is going to reveal it. Listen carefully to his secret. The most important of all is to stick to your training strictly. It took him 3 years to get this strong. 100 push-ups , 100 sit-ups, 100 squads and running 10km. Every day. This is the only way to become strong instead of tinkering with genetics. But it is Genos that gets mad at his crap. He doesn’t believe in all that. This joke isn’t the reason he became his student. He wants to know his true secret. But that is all he did. Kabuto is also mad that he becomes so pissed, he transforms into his ultimate carnage form. He will not stop rampaging for a week in this mode and will kill everybody in town after he kills him. While Saitama gets pounded mercilessly, he starts thinking that if Kabuto goes berserk for a week, that means what about the damn supermarket sale???!!! This won’t do so Saitama punches and destroys him!!! Don’t f*ck with this guy! Genos says that they can make it for the sale if they run back now. So as the duo hurry out, Genus still in shock decides to give up on evolution. Screw science. He is the one who must change. Yeah. Good point. A couple of agents are investigated the burnt site where the tower once stood and they believe Genos could only do this.

Episode 4
Hammerhead (did I see this guy from Dragonball somewhere?) and his men are decrying about the injustice for the need to work like dogs and thus creating a society of imbalance wealth where the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. Nobody is listening… So their first job is to destroy the luxury apartment of the richest guy in town, Zeniru with the power suits they stole. Oops. Wrong apartment. Their terrorism is all over the news and Saitama isn’t really interested till he realized the single trait they all share: They are all bald! He fears this trend will make him be seen as a villain. So he goes out to stop them but good luck in trying to dismiss the public pointing him out as a terrorist! Zeniru sends his henchman, Sonic to take care of the terrorists. No, he is not a blue hedgehog but a crazy bloodthirsty ninja. He easily decapitates the goons like hot butter. Hammerhead is formidable but eventually gets a kunai in his head. Thanks to his thick skull, he manages to fake death and slip away. That is when he bumps into Saitama. Since he is not going to join his gang, he is going to kill him. A single punch is enough to shatter his power suit and send Hammerhead running away with his life intact but butt naked. Saitama is attacked by Sonic who mistakes him as Hammerhead’s henchman. However Saitama is fast enough to dodge all his attacks. His pride as a ninja is hurt so Sonic shows off his supersonic speed but Saitama thinks he just wants to boast about it. He knows. Look at his innocent smile. Yeah. ‘Innocent’…

Sonic is shocked he can see through his attacks even at this speed. Saitama could have punched his balls and would have been a painful death had not Sonic pulled back. There was contact but it was enough for Sonic to feel the pain. I’m sure it hurts as hell but hey, at least it is intact. He vows to go for training and return stronger to defeat him. When Genos visits after being repaired Kuseno, he sees Saitama depressed. What is bugging him? Actually he is thinking of the big problem that nobody knows him as a hero! So all those monster and bug destroying feats, nobody cared? Realizing that Saitama’s name didn’t pop up on the news and only some minor hero who took the credit for disarming Hammerhead’s gang, he wonders if Saitama is registered with the Hero Association. Oh look. There is a website you can look up. One can register at the nearest branch, take a test and once confirmed, will become a professional member to do lots of hero work and even get paid from donations. Anybody else self proclaiming as one are just weirdoes. Well I’ll be damned. Saitama never knew about this? Genos is not a member because he didn’t think it was necessary. Saitama suggests they go join and then he will take him as his disciple. Agreed. Meanwhile Hammerhead is killed off by some weird guys who purposely let his gang steal the power suits to collect data. Thanks to Hammerhead’s thick skull, he still lives. Yeah, now he has regretted his way of life and will get an honest job. So glad to be alive, eh?

Episode 5
The committee is discussing the increase in heroes entering the certification exam. However it is noted that the quality of heroes has reduced throughout the years and this year’s evaluation must be more critical. Saitama as at the exam. He is so fast and powerful that he is already done with the task when others are about to begin! Holy crap! Why is there a whack-a-mole game at the test too?! Saitama is so great that it discouraged some heroes. Yeah, going home, aren’t they? Despite Saitama’s awesomeness, he only got C-rank as opposed to Genos getting the highest S-rank. There was an interview Genos underwent. The agents asked him about the burnt down side of House of Evolution they have been tracking down. Genos didn’t hesitate he was the one behind it and immediately they pass him. Seems the duo are the only successful candidates and they have to attend a special seminar helmed by this cocky A-rank hero, Snek. He warns them about embarrassing themselves but didn’t he just put up an embarrassing pose? Even more insulting is how they’re not listening to his crap. The duo also learn a little history of Hero Association. Formed only 3 years ago, it was by Agoni, the grandchild of a millionaire who was saved from a monster by a passerby. He then used his fortune to establish this system. While Snek is complaining about those amateurs, he is being told that Genos scored perfect in written and physical tests. As for Saitama, he did poorly on the written tests. Despite his perfect score in the physical, he is only admitted based on the fact that he broke all Hero Association’s test records by inconceivable margins. It is like as though there is a god residing in his body. Snek fears he would soon be surpassed by them and out of jealousy goes to attack Saitama. He got owned in a single punch. I believe Saitama didn’t even go all out or break a sweat, that’s why he is still breathing.

Genos trains with Saitama and wants him to go all out so he too can be serious. This fight might also give him insight on Saitama’s powers since he believes his master cannot explain his secret well. Despite Genos pulling off every firepower in his arsenal that leaves burn marks on the terrains, Saitama could easily dodge them all. Genos thought he isn’t being serious so when he does, he is even faster than before! Genos thought he is done for when he sees Saitama’s punch coming into his face. But he stops inches before hitting his face. However the aftershock was huge that it turned the cliff into a huge valley! OMG! I am sure Genos is ready to call it a day since he realizes he can’t see himself coming close to this power. During lunch at the udon house, we see Saitama isn’t the strongest after all because Genos beats him in the udon eating competition. Do cyborgs need to eat? Genos is approached by a handsome A-rank hero, Sweet Mask who wants to talk outside. Genos returns shortly and there was no fight as Saitama expected. He was here to give his welcome to the association. Because Sweet Mask is quite a popular hero, several pretty girls (and ugly ones too) want to shake hands with Genos for being friends with Sweet Mask. I guess Saitama could see the different treatment between their ranks, eh? Better move up fast. Genos remembers Sweet Mask’s advice not to be too quick to be hot headed or he will get burnt. Saitama thinks he got deeper into trouble now that Genos is officially his disciple. I’m sure he didn’t count on him moving into his place as he brings all his stuffs. But after seeing Genos’ stack of notes as rental, it is a big welcome! Oh yeah. Nothing changes your stance better than money.

Episode 6
If having to think up of an acceptable training regiment is stressing out Saitama, wait till here hears how C-rank heroes must be involved in some hero activity at least once a week or they will be deregistered! Because A-rank gets to fight terrorists and monsters, C-ranks are usually reduced to catch petty thieves. Time to make up time for idling around the house. Saitama manages to convince Genos with this crap he just made up about not training his body but his mind. Then off he runs around town to find any crime. Too peaceful! Oh well, there is always tomorrow. That’s the thing with procrastination. Yet another peaceful day. Time to panic? He stumbles upon Sonic who wants to kick his ass. Saitama ignores him since he is busy. Sonic swiftly cuts him but Saitama is swifter as he breaks his sword with his teeth! Sonic couldn’t even see it coming! More trouble for Saitama when a civilian calls this hero, Tank Top Tiger to apprehend Saitama! Because he was running around with a scary face yesterday! Disturbing the peace? Sonic easily puts him to sleep with his explosive shurikens and then continue his big fight with Saitama. Yeah well, the entire town is going to be destroyed at this rate. Hope this counts as work. A committee is keeping track of reports of the various top heroes and their activities on various alphabet cities. This committee was formed because of the substantial damage to the cities and thus the need to prevent it by detecting any potential threat via investigation. City Z has the highest number of monster attacks and has been increasing over the years.

Top A-class heroes, Golden Ball and Spring Mustachio are sent to investigate this ghost town. It is natural that people fled the city after experiencing too many monster attacks. During their investigation, they stumble upon a seaweed tentacle monster. Golden Ball intercepts it but he didn’t count his bullet to be broken. Then he got owned. Mustachio takes him on but realizes the monstrosity he is. Before he is defeated, he requested backup from Hero Association. The monster is disappointed about everything. He thought he could take it all out on Saitama passing by. Bad choice. And so Saitama is going to have a nice dinner of kelp and seaweed. Yum. The report on City Z is handed in as nothing extraordinary. But it is noted despite the A-class heroes failed to defeat the monster, they fear it might be still roaming around. Even more baffling how the reinforcement heroes came and saw a freaking big devastation at the battle site. It made them feel scared about what had happened. The investigation continues and rumours start spreading to humans and monsters alike that there is a much more dangerous monster lurking there. Saitama is glad his rank went up a bit thanks to quelling that Sonic incident. But he is disheartened that despite Genos being ranked last in S-class, he is voted the 6th most popular based on appearance. I guess Saitama had to stop him from reading aloud and further all those comments.

Episode 7
Genos receives an emergency call to gather at Hero Association. But when he arrives, it is empty. Only he and another S-class hero, Bang are there. It seems a meteor has deviated from its trajectory and is about to hit City Z and affect its adjacent cities. All S-class heroes have been called to handle to problem but looks like nobody is interested. Besides, the evacuation announcement just made panicking worse. Genos goes to stop the meteor and he has no choice but to test out his prototype arms. Before he could make a move, fellow S-rank hero, Metal Knight is here to destroy the meteor. However his intention is not to help but to test his new weapons. He isn’t afraid of losing and dying since he is controlling this robot body via remote. When his fiery missiles fail to even scratch the meteor, Genos starts panicking that it is all up to him. Will his firepower be enough to stop it since Metal Knight failed? Bang is here to tell him off about worrying too much so Genos screws his thoughts and fires away. Nothing happens. Doomed. But don’t worry. It is Saitama’s turn. He jumps up to destroy the meteor in a single punch! OMG! Missiles can’t do the job but his fist can?! However… The meteor breaks up into pieces and rains down on the city. Damn… In the aftermath, it is reported that although City Z is visibly in ruins, it is not completely destroyed. Because usually the shockwaves from the meteor would have destroyed everything even if it was in pieces but Saitama was able to stop that with his punch and minimizing damage. I guess it isn’t that all bad. Plus, nobody died. However Genos is concerned that despite his heroic efforts, he knows that the ordinary people view him as a villain who destroyed their city. It is all over the forums.

Thanks to their heroics, Genos and Metal Knight move up a rank while Saitama moves up over 300 places to fifth in C-class! OMG! Unbelievable! Perhaps the only thing preventing him from being promoted to S-class is because the association thinks he got help from Genos and Metal Knight. Saitama goes to patrol the city alone. That is when Tank Top Tiger calls out to him. Yeah, he brought his brother, Tank Top Black Hole to get his revenge. But honestly, Saitama doesn’t even remember this dude. So instead of beating him up, big brother has a better idea to break his spirit. At the top of his voice, he blames Saitama as the one who destroyed the city and causing unnecessary troubles to others. With the crowd gathering and the typical ungrateful herd mentality, they all chant for him to resign as a hero. The brothers get greedy to make this as their publicity stunt as they claim Saitama wants to take out his frustrations on the people and they are here to stop him in a fair fight. But you know… Tank Top Tiger gets punched away and Tank Top Black Hole starts squirming in pain, pleading for his life and admitting all his lies! Saitama is just holding his palm. Yeah… In a surprise move, Saitama then admits he did destroy the comet. Also, he tells everyone to shut up b*tching about their inconvenience. Tell that to the meteor and see if it listens to you. So just shut the f*ck up! Genos is here to bring Saitama home before he starts blowing his top and making him even balder. Hah… Genos assures him even if the public turns against him or doesn’t appreciate him, he will always follow him for he is the most incredible person he has ever met.

Episode 8
A sea monster terrorizes another city. It could have been vicious tentacle rape had not he been taking out by a single punch. Guess who? Despite the public forums view him as strong, many believe he steals credits of others. Soon, more sea monsters (and more vicious sea tentacles) attack the city. The alert is sounded so S-class heroes stream in to fight them and the people evacuate. This Stinger dude (Lancer?) manages to defeat all the monsters till he loses to the super strong Deep Sea King. Not even Lightning Max had a fighting chance. Then here comes this macho gay hero convict, Puri-Puri Prisoner. This S-class hero is a convict? Yeah, assaulting too many handsome guys and beautiful boys. He escaped with Sonic. Prisoner and Deep Sea King are evenly matched in terms of strength. However after Prisoner pulls off all his combo punches, Deep Sea King is still standing and blows him away with a few punches. Sonic thinks his speed allows him to take him on. At first he is fast but slowly he realizes Deep Sea King is getting faster and stronger. It must be the rain enhancing his true powers. He makes a wise decision to escape for now. At the expense of his clothes. So when Genos just came running into the city, he thought he saw a pervert. Deep Sea King turns his attention to slaughter all the civilians taking shelter. He is not taking any prisoners. Some of the heroes at the shelter thought they could buy time but they got owned in no time. So much about that. Saitama runs into fellow hero, Licenseless Rider while on his way into the city. He thought he saw a naked pervert zoomed by. He goes to check it out but lost him. At that time, Licenseless Rider got word that Deep Sea King is attacking the shelter and pedals there. He dropped his handphone just when he gets a call from Hero Association. Saitama picks it up instead and hears how S-class heroes have been defeated and they stand no chance. Saitama’s serious face says otherwise…

Episode 9
Genos arrives to fight the monster. He throws every arsenal in his book but Deep Sea King regenerates and fight back. When he spits acid at a girl, Genos uses his body to protect her. Gosh, he looks worst than Terminator. All bare, uhm, bones and metal? Before he could be finished off, Licenseless Rider comes to attack. Unfortunately he too takes a beating. Another hero to bite the dust? Licenseless Rider knows very well himself that despite being a C-class hero, he cannot win this. But yet he must try. It isn’t about losing or winning. It’s about him taking him on right here, right now. The crowd is touched and cheers for him but a single monster punch is enough to knock him out. There goes the hope. Oh wait. Here is Saitama. It’s his turn now. A big punch from Deep Sea King doesn’t even move him! And he calls that punch weak? Saitama throws his usual punch enough to blow the monster away and even clears up the sky! WOW!!! Unbelievable! Sonic returns with his gear… It’s over dude. In the aftermath, Genos receives lots of fan mail. There is one for Saitama but it is a threatening letter calling him a cheat. Flashback after Deep Sea King’s defeat, the crowd is ever so grateful but a stupid jerk said the monster boss wasn’t that tough after all. Even though many heroes were defeated, their titles meant nothing and imagine if a C-class hero could beat it, they are all just talk. Since the heroes are paid with their donated money, they had better protect them and it is a good thing this one turned out well. The crowd wants to punch that jerk but that is when Saitama declares it was a good thing he was late. Because the other heroes weakened the monster for him and thus it was easy for him. Now he will claim all the credit. He wants everyone to spread the word and look after the fallen heroes otherwise his credit will be tainted. This made the crowd rethink that the other heroes were more heroic. Genos felt bad but if this is the path he wants to walk, so be it. But if the next time it happens, he will have his say. All is not lost since there is a letter thanking Saitama. Then another letter that promotes him to the top of C-class. Soon he is called by Hero Association for a promotion test to B-class. He accepts the test since it will get him out of the bothersome weekly quota. Deep Sea King’s defeat is on the front page of the newspaper. The fallen heroes must be feeling sour. But Prisoner wants their ass but they have energy to run. Prisoner sees an article calling him a failure. After a lengthy test, Saitama is now a B-class hero. Licenseless Rider treats him to oden to celebrate his promotion. He is the one who sent that thank you letter.

Episode 10
With all the king monsters gone, this dinosaur lizard king is going to claim his right to take over Earth. He is confronted with S-class hero, Tatsumaki who ignores him because she just got some call over some problem. They both ignore each other until they’re ready to fight. But dinosaur dude dies after a meteor crashes into him. Saitama and Genos are in Bang’s dojo when they receive an emergency call for all S-class heroes to assemble at the HQ. Saitama meets a few of them like Atomic Samurai. Because Saitama is not even S-class, those heroes act arrogant. But since Tatsumaki is a little brat, I guess Saitama can ignore her ranting. So we are briefly introduced to all the 17 S-class heroes. Yeah, they look more like weirdoes. Only Metal Knight and the top S-class hero, Blast are missing from this meeting. First, the heroes are to decide whether or not they want to accept this mission. If they do, they will be confined here until the disaster to avoid public panic. The great seer, Madame Shibabawa has died. Many of her predictions that befall Earth are accurate. She died choking when she saw the greatest disaster ever to befall Earth. She managed to leave a note but that is all it states. Nobody knows what it is actually. The building is under attack by tengu monsters but they are swiftly cut down by a hideous alien. A big mothership hovers over the city. And in a single powerful blast, 99.8% of the city is destroyed! OMG! Only the HQ is left standing since it was built by Metal Knight. Some of the S-class heroes engage with this multi-headed alien blob, Melzagard but it will be hard to cut him down since he can regenerate fast. When S-class hero, King who is also the strongest man on Earth says it is impossible to reach the mothership from here and should concentrate on finding Metal Knight, Tatsumaki blows her top for him being pathetic and doing nothing. She will take care of this herself. Genos wants to help but she plans on going solo. After all, Genos notes that there is no need for the heroes to work together because he knows Saitama is already inside the mothership. He is leaving a trail of dead aliens in his wake as he searches for the big boss.

Episode 11
Geryuganshoop is shocked that a lone intruder has destroyed 23% of the ship and killed half the crew! But the big Cyclops boss, Lord Boros says the ship will be fine as long as the sphere is not damage. Atomic Samurai, Bang, Prisoner and Metal Bat continue to engage in futile a fight against Melzargard. All they can do is just keep hitting till something happens. When they notice a tiny marble inside a head and smashing it means instantly melting that head, they get motivated to find it and slowly they take out the heads one by one. Geryuganshoop seeks help from Melzargard to kill the intruder but he too seeks his help to come down and fight. But they decide they will just use the artillery to bombard the entire city. Saitama is running rampage that he is lost. Geryuganshoop is desperate to get him off the ship that he will guide him to the exit. But sneaky Saitama did the opposite and ends up in the control room. Geryuganshoop uses his super telekinesis power to control gravity. Not affecting Saitama one bit. He then uses pebbles as deadly projection but Saitama views it as child’s play. Boring. A flick back at him splits the octopus’ head in half! Game over. The bombardment is set to fire now. Before the heavy missiles could rain on the city, bratty Tatsumaki uses her telekinesis to return them to where they come from. Guess who got a taste of their own medicine? Licenseless Rider and a few other A-class heroes help out with the evacuation of the city and those who are injured. Melzargard is down to his last head but Bang takes a direct hit. Saitama has found Boros’ chamber. Cyclops boss is happy he has reached here. He introduces himself as the captain of his alien pirates, Dark Matter. He is the strongest being in the universe. So strong that nobody could best him and he ravaged everything in sight that he became bored. Till a seer told him of a great warrior could match his potential. His crew think it was just a ploy to get rid of him to the far edges of the galaxy but the trip of 20 years is worth the wait. Show me your true strength! Saitama isn’t amused about his boredom crap and his single punch sends him flying. For the first time, an opponent he punches didn’t die! It only shackles his armour which seals his strength. Oh sh*t… Time to return the favour. He transforms into his true form. Since when is electrifying disco punk the trend?

Episode 12
The super epic fight begins that puts Goku’s Super Saiyan fight look like a baby! Meanwhile with Tatsumaki using her telekinesis to wrap up things on the mothership and send other aliens crying about their mama and homeland, some of the S-class heroes just went home. Drive Knight leaves Genos with an advice that Metal Knight is his enemy and should stay away from him. Melzargard is on the offensive but is surprised Bang is still alive. After seeing him regenerate so many times, Bang even knows where to get and crush his marble. We return to our epic fight between Saitama and Boros. The latter thought the fight is his and starts bragging about being the strongest and his regenerative abilities. But Saitama looks bored and just asks him if this fight is still on. Oh, it is just getting started. Saitama is punched away as far as the moon! OMG! How can he breathe? Don’t care. But he jumps back down to Earth! Hope he didn’t change the moon’s trajectory. You bet Boros is shocked that he is back and survives. He is going to be a worthy opponent to defeat. Now they are going all out that makes Super Saiyan fights look like babies. Saitama unleashes a series of consecutive punches. It blows Boros to bits but he regenerates. He then gets serious with his, uhm, serious punch (aren’t all his punches serious?) and defeats Boros for good. Saitama praises him for being a strong dude. Boros In his last breath calls him a liar because he knows he still has strength left and this wasn’t a battle for him in the first place. The mothership is going to crash so all the heroes better get running if they don’t want to become S-class pancakes.

Sweet Mask arrives in the aftermath and wants to know what happened. The heroes explain but he is not amused and calls them pathetic. Is he the one to say for arriving late and not helping? Despite so, he claims the heroes couldn’t save a brick of the city. Sweet Mask argues he never get promoted to S-class despite having the chance because he wants to prevent useless heroes from moving up. Probably a big fight is going to start between Sweet Mask and Metal Bat but Metal Knight drops into the scene. Genos realizes he has come to salvage parts of the mothership and he doesn’t deny it. He will use the parts to create better weapons. Because better weapons = better peace. Some of the captured aliens thought they could talk their way out. They are all instantly killed by Sweet Mask. He calls them evil and there is nothing else to be said. Sweet Mask views Genos as a disappointment. This act reminds Genos he was once like that, rushing to mete out justice. Saitama finally breaks out from the mothership. I guess he even got lost after that. Since master and disciple are ignoring Tatsumaki, she starts insulting them. Saitama tells Genos to shut her up but he gets owned! Bang puts a stop to their in-quarrel. Looks like Saitama has to pick up Genos’ pieces. Oops, he ripped his arm? In the aftermath, news of the alien invasion and the city destruction hog the headlines for days before it died down and forgotten. Hero Association reconstructed their base to be stronger and give those who are ranked A-class and above to live there. They have also built roads and infrastructure that would give faster access to heroes to other cities. In another city, this pig king of the underworld unleashes his terror. And you know who destroys him with a single punch, right? But Saitama doesn’t look too happy… After that awesome fight with Boros, he is not pleased of returning to one punch again! All over too fast!

An origin story because you know, Saitama still had hair. After defeating another monster, he notices his jersey is ripped again and sends it to his usual tailor to fix it. Little did he know, tailor uncle just got a last warning from a loan shark punk to come up with the cash by tomorrow or else. Uncle has taken the liberty to design a tougher costume for him. Looks hideous… Because he is so kind to do so, Saitama feels bad to turn him down. After all, he isn’t sure about this hero thing and is only doing it as hobby. Meanwhile the punk reports to his boss about the tailor. He will finally get his shop deed. It seems some inner voice tells him to destroy. Saitama walks around the abandoned neighbourhood and notices what uncle said was true that with the high crime rate, many shops have closed. But he too has his own problems because the landlady comes knocking on his door at an ungodly hour looking for his 3 months in rent! Next day when Saitama goes to collect his jersey, he sees uncle handing the punk his shop’s deed. Of course you know how extortion works and since he can’t keep up with the interest, it’s time to handover. He hasn’t called the police because the loan shark group lives in an apartment where the police cannot touch them. So with direction advice, Saitama promises to head there and negotiate to get his deed back.

He didn’t expect his landlady to be living there! Also, he encounters weirdoes from counterfeiters and underwear thieves. The only reason he got motivated to beat them up is the reward those dumb criminals mention they have. Finally he enters the room of the loan shark boss. He shows a card and explains about the law how uncle has cleared his debts and now that he is just overpaying and thus has no right to seize his deed. This causes the boss to go mad as he transforms into… A BDSM goldfish monster? Yeah, no wonder Saitama calls him a pervert. Boss shows off his power and once again his jersey gets ripped. But when Saitama hears there is a high reward on him… Landlady wonders why Saitama is at her doorstep. He doesn’t have the rent money to pay her but he has rounded up these criminals with a bounty. He has already called the police and if she turns them in, consider it as his rent payments settled. However she gets upset instead because now her main income source is gone! Oh sh*t! She is the ringleader? As a result, he gets kicked out. Uncle picks him up on the streets and to show his gratefulness for returning his deed, he has created a costume for him (his trademark costume of the series). Of course uncle says he is already getting old and was probably looking for a reason to retire and close the shop anyway. Saitama puts on the costume and feels weird about it at first but eventually gets used to it. It seems Saitama is telling this story to Genos of how important this suit is to him. But he thinks Genos hasn’t been listening because Genos thinking the essence to become a true hero is to have something important, he wants Saitama to throw away the costume so he could personally give him a new one. I don’t think that was even the point…


12 minutes special when you buy the DVDs and cannot get enough of our super strong bald hero.

Special 1
After watching a stalker movie, Saitama has a feeling that somebody is stalking him. It is actually Genos trying to know more about him as he camps across his place. Of course Genos also has to be careful because he thinks Saitama is being cautious and on his guard. At a family restaurant, he observes Saitama ordering only a kid’s meal of fries. No money… It’s a sin to be poor. Yeah, small portion too… Remember, a kid’s meal… After he returns from toilet, he notices a fry missing! He calls the waitress but do you think she can possibly explain? Yeah, she looks scared… Genos is the culprit stealing the fry and will analyze it thinking it would be the diet that made Saitama strong. Saitama believes the stalker is the one who stole his fry and will wait for him to show up. No show… To compound his bad day, there is this handsome guy monster turning people into dry skin. He reminds Saitama that they fought 6 months before and was defeated. The shock of the defeat left his skin dry and so he underwent some strict moisturizing regiment and did random stuffs to attract his attention. Saitama misinterprets all that as him being the stalker AKA French fry thief. Poor pretty guy gets owned big time for a misunderstanding. But hell yeah, Saitama still saved the day, right? He narrates about his fate of being a hero that will have others seeking grudge on him. It is not that he doesn’t want fans but at least it would be nice for someone to notice his efforts. He then remembers a disciple wannabe. Meanwhile Genos analyzes the fry and finds out to be a regular fry. Disappointed? So the next day, he takes his first bold step to ask Saitama to become his disciple.

Special 2
Genos is confronted by Don Pacino and his men. The latter have Genos’ precious key. Don wants to know his connection with this man who is from a rival gang and once he tells him, he can have the key back. It all began when Genos and Saitama at a public bath. There’s some mindless chatter on what expression to say when it feels good. Why can’t a normal “Ahhh~” do? Yeah, even Don is arguing a better way to say it. Anyway, after they are done, Saitama hand the key to his place and cautions him not to lose them since it is dangerous around these days. That is when Saitama remembers some time limited cheap sale. I wonder how he could stick so many brochures in his pocket. Because he worries he cannot cover all of them in time, Genos suggested they split up to cover more ground. Unfortunately Genos had his hands full in defeating some toilet bowl villain and because he was 2 seconds late, the store clerk turned him down. No offer. He rushed to the next store but it was closed with a notice. That is when the rival gang guy passed by as Genos sought an answer. He was told about Don as the new boss around and the shop might have closed down because they can’t afford to pay protection money. That is when Don and his men picked up Genos’ dropped key and want to talk. Don is shocked that Genos and this guy had no relation and they wasted their time hearing his useless story. Well, he asked, right? They are so mad that they pull out their guns. Genos realizes they are wanted men and have no intention to return his keys. I don’t think their bullets can match his firepower. Genos gets the keys and returns home. Saitama is already back as he has an extra set. Genos has stopped by another store on his way home and got some premium meat in which they make and enjoy a delicious sukiyaki.

Special 3
Sonic is still reeling from his trauma of his fight with Saitama. It always ends with Saitama punching his balls! Yeah, that has got to hurt. No matter how he envisions it, he cannot see himself beating Saitama. Sonic is currently living in the woods with an old hunter, Matagi. He tells of his experience of fighting a bear that give him a hideous scar on his arm. Although he survived, he feels afraid each time he thinks of that. The only way he can overcome his fear is to defeat it. The same applies to Sonic. He goes to train himself and one day saves a little boar from a giant snake. At first he sees Saitama in it but overcomes it to cut it apart. The boar sticks around him and Sonic names it Ino. Sonic continues his training until he finds his confidence. He then returns to the city while leaving Ino in Matagi’s care. Sonic’s parting advice is that if he gets confident of his skills and yet lose, the result will always be the same. That night the bear comes by and Matagi despite still shaking knows he must fight after remembering Sonic’s words. The bear tears the place apart and flings Matagi about. He is out of bullets too. Before the bear could kill him, here comes Saitama. Ino upon seeing his face flees! You know Saitama is such badass when even the bear starts feeling afraid. Dead meat. Saitama and Genos enjoy a good sukiyaki with bear meat although he would have preferred boar meat.

Special 4
Bang needs to know why Saitama’s punch is more powerful than his after that meteor incident. He goes to spy on them and couldn’t comprehend their master-disciple relationship. Sizing him up, he finds Saitama to be quite ordinary. He invites them to do some muscle training in his dojo tomorrow. Surprisingly Saitama accepts. But next day, Bang waits and they never show up. He goes to spy on them again and learns Saitama accepted only because the old fart won’t get off their back if they refused. Bang then witnesses Saitama swiftly trying to save something from an incoming truck. Luckily Genos lifted the truck but Saitama is left to rue that the cat was actually a plastic bag. And there goes his meat he bought. Bang then invites them to his dojo because he has meat for them. Yeah, that is how you ring Saitama in. Before he gives his meat, Bang wants to challenge him in a few things. Whether it is tile breaking or karuta, Saitama does it better. So it is decided to play penalty rock-scissors-paper. Saitama always loses and he always slips in reaching for the helmet. By that time Bang already knocked the toy hammer on his head. Finally after the umpteenth time Saitama wins but his hand once again slips in reaching the hammer. Bang feels nostalgic how his dojo was filled with youth. Bang realizes Saitama is going to whack him and he is wise to get out because the helmet is destroyed by his strength! Bang is shocked and left wondering what would be of him had this been a real fight. He admits his loss and gives them the meat. Then he passionately waxes lyrical about the essence of martial art, which is basically his way of trying to coax them to join his dojo. Sorry dude. Not interested.

Special 5
Fubuki and her group successfully defeat another monster. But she becomes disheartened that their efforts are nowhere mentioned in the papers. Even more depressing is how her older sister, Tatsumaki makes the headlines even without doing anything. She takes a train ride for a change in pace. Genos is also there, coming back from an errand of buying crabs for Saitama. He recognizes her as the top rank B-class hero. He receives a call that a serial bomber has put bombs on the train and will explode when it reaches the next station. Genos goes into action. Knowing her psychic powers, he has her levitate the passengers out to safety while he tries to stop the train. There is also a girl onboard who is a C-class hero. She volunteers to go find the bomb. Genos is not making any headway in slowing the train down. All the passengers have been safely evacuated and the bomb is found in the toilet. Fubuki levitates the girl out and she thinks her only way to minimise damage is to isolate the bomb. Before the train reaches the station, Fubuki and Genos are levitated away. Tatsumaki easily levitates the train high into the sky and even compresses the explosion. When the sisters come face to face, the feeling is not mutual. Fubuki walks home and the girl thanks her for saving her. She explains about being the last ranked hero in C-class and felt she was making any progress. But after today, she wants to continue becoming a hero. She hopes to rise up to B-rank and join her group. But Fubuki hints that she has already accepted her. Genos sees Kuseno and wants him to add psychic powers. Of course it is out of his field as he wonders if he needs it to fight a great enemy. Actually it is so that he would have brought crabs that won’t explode. There are crabs that won’t? Meanwhile Saitama continues to wait for his crab meat…

Special 6
A murder mystery at the hotspring inn?! One of the heroes, Zombieman is dead. Previously, Hero Association decided to treat all the heroes as reward for saving Earth from aliens with this wonderful hotspring inn relaxation. Some aren’t too happy that the reward is given to all of them despite some were blatantly missing in action during the invasion. So the usual drinking and celebrating. Before they know it, everyone gathers around Zombieman’s body at the hallway with a sword stabbed from the back. Child Emperor plays detective as he tries to deduce and narrow down the suspects. As the sword belongs to Atomic Samurai, however he does have an alibi so he wasn’t the one who went and stab Zombieman. Prisoner is also suspected as he is the only convict and thus the least trustworthy. Even more so Zombieman did have thoughts on targeting Zombieman as his sexual target! Saitama is another suspect since nothing much is known on him. Genos defends Saitama that he is so strong that he doesn’t need weapons to kill. But then Genos starts thinking maybe he could. Child Emperor asks King next since he was the first one who spotted the body. He recounts when he first saw the body, he reported it to the front desk and returned to his room. That’s all. More suspicions on him because instead of joining the rest in the hotspring, he went to soak by himself in his own room. A fight is looming when Tatsumaki warns she’ll restrain all of them if they start acting up. Just then, Zombieman wakes up! Well, his name is already a dead giveaway that he can’t die. He relates last night he was quite drunk and couldn’t remember much and just slept there when the sword stabbed him. All he remembers is the sword flying towards him from someone with aura like Tatsumaki. Is she the culprit? Tatsumaki defends herself that she knows Zombieman is immortal and wouldn’t die like this. Besides, she was drunk too and doesn’t remember much. Since it doesn’t bother Zombieman, everyone just let it go and return. Later Child Dragon is shown footage from the CCTV that Tatsumaki was the one who threw the sword at him. She was clearly drunk. But her motive remains unclear. When Saitama and Genos talk about this, Genos believes Saitama may be the reason. He teased her to stop acting like an adult because drinking is only for grownups. She got infuriated and forced herself to drink more sake. Then she took out her frustrations on Zombieman knowing he can’t die.

Sucker Punch!
Wait! What?! It ended too soon?! Just like Saitama’s one punch?! Oh, come on! I was really enjoying it and they had to put up that seemingly rushed ending, which doesn’t feel much of an ending by the way. Oh well, just like how Saitama has got to live with his devastating single punch each time he goes out to the battlefield, we must also live with the fact that this series is only one cour for now.

With so much potential for development, it is a shame that it would be a great waste if this series does not get any more seasons. Because the one thing that was the downside of this series only having a dozen TV episodes is the fact that there is not enough focus on the other superheroes. Saitama and Genos have their fair share of screen time in the initial episodes but as we get to know more and more heroes, it feels like this bunch of S-class heroes are as interesting and weird as they are. That is why personally I felt disappointed that some of the S-class heroes didn’t even get any proper screen time and only appeared just for introductions. It would be really interesting to get to know all of them.

Because in the world we live in today, being good or bad is not as obvious decades ago. Everything is such a grey area. That is why I was hoping to see ego clashes with Saitama and the other top heroes. Heck, even comic book hero groups like Avengers and Justice League have their own share of problems, right? I mean, when you have a group of very weird looking heroes (there is a pig glutton among them, am I not mistaken?), there is bound to be friction as we have already seen in some of them. Some like Metal Knight even have their own personal agenda. For all you know, the heroes are no better than villains and what makes them different is just the tag and label of hero on them.

So let me say again that if I had to point out the most disappointing aspect of this series, it would be the character development part on the other heroes. Or even other characters like Sonic who is pretty much like the villain for now and it feels wasted that he isn’t focused very much after his initial bout with Saitama. Yeah, with monsters rampaging, we have got no time for this fast ninja who seems to be more of a clown when he is not in deadly ninja mode. And Sweet Mask? There seems to be more than meets the eye to his upfront beautiful face…

But as far as our main hero Saitama is concerned, sometimes I find it unbelievable that with such simple exercises and discipline has turned him into a God-like character. Yeah, he is so strong and so fast that it is as though he has got the God cheat code on for eternity! So strong and fast that he is just bored when he fights his very cocky and enthusiastic (and soon to be dead) opponents. Like as though he was reading for the script and knows every inch and move his opponents will make. Those who survived will turn over a new leaf! Yeah, seeing his power is more fearful than meeting Satan himself. So if all that doesn’t even make him God, I don’t know what will. Despite all that, the irony is that Saitama is fairly unknown even in his own city. Like nobody cares who destroyed the monster in a single punch? Like no Hero Association members ever questioned who defeated the monsters to save the cities? Aren’t they even curious to find out who? That is why it just boggles my mind despite being the strongest, he is so relatively unknown like as though he is existence under the nose of everybody.

And at the rate Saitama destroys monsters that keep popping out from the ground, sky, space or anywhere on Earth, it is just a matter of time before these creatures become extinct. Uh huh. Maybe that is how the dinosaurs went extinct. Before you know it, Earth will once again be the world’s safest place thanks to Saitama! All hail Saitama the God! Despite Saitama’s boredom, he still tries to live a modest life and works his way up the honest way. He even questioned if joining Hero Association is the kind of hero he wanted to become. That is why it is sad that he decided to play the villain in becoming the bad guy after defeating Deep Sea King. If taking all the credits is not his style, but being the bad guy? Just think about the implications of Hero Association if he did. What will the public think about them? Will they need Hero Association when they have Saitama to do the job? But not everybody will be against Saitama as some like Licenseless Rider are on his side.

I believe Genos is trying to be a good disciple under Saitama’s wing. Mainly his role in this anime sees him observing and analyzing his master’s actions and words and then reflecting them on his own. I am not sure if there would be anything Genos can learn from Saitama because he himself is quite powerful in his own right. Just that when you compare him (and everybody else) to Saitama, they pale in comparison to his unbeatable power. Something tells me Genos is as ‘immortal’ as Saitama because there are some fights when he is beaten up so badly that he could have been scrap metal, after a few fixes by his master, he is back like new. So as long you don’t destroy, say, his heart or brain, you can fix him up always?

They mix action and comedy well in the series and it is one of the main reasons why this series is popular in its own right. You thought it would be boring with Saitama being able to finish off his opponents with just a single punch, right? Well, you’re wrong. Despite it is true that Saitama does end all his fights (except the one with Boros) in a single punch, the ensuing comedy before that which includes the enemy always bragging he is stronger, tougher, hardy, etc will never fail to amuse you. They will never ever know what is coming at them and it is always too late by then. And yes, before Saitama ends it all with his single super punch, there is wanton of destruction before that. This means you see heroes getting owned, panic across the city and the monsters running rampage before Saitama does his usual. That is why it is never boring to watch every episode. Another ‘downside’ to Saitama’s single powerful punch is that the enemy will die and you will never see him return ever again. Yeah. No rematch. Ever.

Just only one problem that bugged me after all those awesome fights: If Saitama can destroy anything with just a single punch, how come his gloves are still intact?! Think about this. I am sure that he can control the intensity of his punching strength to not give instant kill. But for those that became a victim to his super death punch, how come his gloves are still in one piece?! I have seen his costume and caped messed up a little but his gloves are still in perfect condition! Don’t tell me he can channel his energy to bypass his gloves and directly towards his enemies! Well, it is no surprise since this guy can blow your mind by doing the unexpected an impossible.

Art and drawing feel pretty fine until you realize that Saitama looks like the laziest hero and main character design ever! I know they want to make him look plain to deceive us with that boring look to hide his strength but you can’t help when looking at his face and comparing to the others who are more ‘anime-like’, Saitama’s face is so cartoonish! Even your 2 year old can draw a better face than his! But I am not saying that Saitama’s plain looks is bad but just that it is so contrasting compared to the rest. That is, until he has that menacing serious look. Then you are in real sh*t, baby! But if I want to pick a bone in the looks category, I can go on mentioning at how odd at all the heroes look themselves. I guess with super powers, it makes you look different, huh? And the monsters and aliens? Some look ferocious and some looking comical enough that it makes you think the producers called everyone to come up with a few monster designs and the rejected ones end up in laughable roles. Really. Naturally this show lacks fanservice but unless you are thinking about being gay with Prisoner, we prefer much to keep it that way. Except for Tatsumaki who seems to be hinting the haitenai phenomenon with the slips in her long black dress. All the fanservice you need?

This series has a lot of seiyuus due to the sheer amount of heroes, monsters and other minor characters. Of course recognizable ones include Mamoru Miyano as Sweet Mask, Yuuki Kaji as Sonic, Aoi Yuuki as Tatsumaki, Yuuichi Nakamura as Licenseless Rider and Rikiya Koyama as Deep Sea King. The rest of the casts are Makoto Furukawa as Saitama (Banri in Golden Time), Kaito Ishikawa as Genos (titular character in Kyoukai No Rinne), Kazuhiro Yamaji as Bang (Senor Pink in One Piece), Masaya Onosaka as Prisoner (France in Hetalia series), Toshiyuki Morikawa as Boros (Ugo in Magi), Kenjiro Tsuda as Atomic Samurai (Mikoto in K) and Tesshou Genda as Metal Knight (Soro in Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation) just to name a few. I just feel lazy to go over the rest…

The heavy rock opening very much suits the pace of this series. If The Hero!! ~Ikareru Ken ni Honoo Wo Tsukeru~ has a familiar rocking sound to it, it is because JAM Project is behind this song. So get your vocal chords ready as you try to scream out your heroic lyrics of this piece. Oh yeah! One Punch! Power! Get power! Oh yeah. That was a real good screaming. However the ending theme feels weird. Hoshi Yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru by Hiroko Moriguchi isn’t that bad but this slow ballad seems to have somewhat a lonely and hollow feel in it. I mean, after all that great action and comedy, when you hear this song, it makes you wonder if the producers had mistakenly put in the wrong song for this series. The special ending theme for the final episode, Kanashimitachi Wo Dakishimete no doubt is a slow pop piece, at least sounds better and very much fitting to the way it ends. It leaves you with a mix of emotions in your heart as you hear this song while the credits roll up the screen.

Overall, this is one of the few enjoyable superhero themed anime series out there. It is different than lots of recently adapted comic book superheroes and even those from the manga simply because our main hero isn’t your typical hero with a brooding past, big muscles, charismatic looks or the kind of high and mighty or super sense of justice attitude that everyone has come to expect these days. He is just an ordinary guy who is trying to live out his childhood dream of being a hero but it doesn’t turn out the way he dreamt of. Great for people who doesn’t like fights to prolong for over 20 episodes and just finish it all in a jiffy. Yeah, there are so many impatient people these days… Otherwise, I am sure this show that has fights ending too quickly would have you start appreciating fights that last longer than a single punch, right? Oh, carry on Goku. Carry on your fight with Vegeta for the next 20 episodes. We’ll savour and appreciate every single punch you throw from now on. And when you’re done with your match, we can come back again and do a rematch that lasts for another 10 episodes.

Gate S2

August 27, 2016

There is always a little devil in our heart. We get worked up when we see the enemy invade and do all the heinous barbaric acts on the innocent. Then we smile and heave a sigh of relief when our heroes turn up to kick all their sorry asses to back where they came from. Don’t we just love such great action stories like that? Be glad because we are about to see more and continue Japan and the SDF’s awesome dominance over the primitive magical world in Gate: Jietai Kanochi Nite, Kaku Tatakeri S2. The first season was awesome enough to assert their dominance and with the sequel, we’ll get to see even more of their coolness as they ride through crisis after crisis plaguing the land in search for peace. Yes people. All hail and glory to the SDF! Ahem… Maybe they just look like big bullies with over-firepower if you sympathise with the enemy… Oh yeah, then there is that otaku first lieutenant guy and his harem girls from this world… It’s all getting as exciting as before, I tell ‘ya!

Episode 13
Itami is dressed as a local for the negotiations. Don’t blame you if you can’t stop laughing at how dorky he looks. Meanwhile Prince Zolzal El Caesar is f*cking hard a furry sex slave, Tyuule. Punishment sex-cum-rape?! She has to put up with it and scream like hell since he threatens her comrades lives depend on it. I guess she couldn’t keep it up. Anyway, he is interrupted by Count Marx about some of their senators being bought over by the enemy ambassadors with the promise of their safe return as a bargaining chip. As this may be disadvantageous to Zolzal who would be next in line to the throne, Zolzal will make his visit and give the enemy his piece of mind. Pina and Sugawara are holding a garden party. There is this noble loli, Sherry Tyueri who seems to be infatuated with Sugawara. Itami and his troops demonstrate their military firepower. The nobles are so freaking impressed and want to know how to make them! Then they visualize how this firepower can bring down their cities and so they are wise enough to negotiate for what Japan wants in exchange for peace. This negotiation is put off when uninvited Zolzal and his party are seen riding in. Pina is surprised to see her brother here. He takes a look around and isn’t impressed. Till he tastes the food. Yeah, he goes away satisfied, bringing back a few of those delicious meat. You know what they say about a man and his heart. Pina talks to Sugawara that she knows this is Marx’s warning by sending her brother here. Sugawara wants to start negotiations as soon as possible but Pina is shocked and fainted after hearing the freaking huge amount of reparations. I suppose all the gold in the kingdom will not be able to pay that off. Marx reports this to Molto who tells him to let Japan negotiate all they want because he is not giving them anything. And when negotiations fail, Japan will break them off themselves.

Chief Nyuutabaru has Kurokawa under his wing as a medical staff. She tends to a local furry, Misery. She is a whore. With a painful name and body for pleasure, I can imagine… She is here to buy contraceptives. Misery gives out some information that Bessala was a big shot around the red light district. Until that fateful night when the army wipe them all out with their firepower. F*cking slaughtered them all! After that all the other big shots split up his money and territory and even went out their way to offer information to SDF. Misery is sad that the men in SDF refuse to do business with the whores and it breaks their confidence. Yeah, heard of STD’s? I’m sure they’re trying to stay safe instead of being gay. Yao desperately tries to find Itami and some information about him. Especially if he has something he would risk his life to protect. She was told there are 3 people… Late that night, Misery brings her fellow furry whores to Kurokawa as one of her friends couldn’t shake off that shaking feeling. Nyuutabaru recognizes this as a sign of a major earthquake because birds and animals panic before one. He orders for everyone to evacuate. Pina doesn’t appreciate Itami waking up her beauty sleep to inform her about the earthquake. She doesn’t believe it. Then the ground shakes… You believe now?

Episode 14
With the locals panicking and proclaiming the end of the world, Itami and the SDF are just cool. They’re accessing the mini earthquake and it is nothing to be alarmed about as this isn’t the epicentre. Pina wonders why they can be so calm at this moment. Because it happens a lot in Japan. She needs to go warn her father and since the SDF can’t just waltz into enemy territory, Pina begs Itami to accompany her. Is she a little girl?! In his throne room before anything could begin, Zolzal barges in and wants father to escape because this woman Noriko predicted another big one coming. Everyone wonders who that woman is and when Zolzal brings her in, Itami and co are devastated she is a Japanese. Zolzal claims she is a survivor during that invasion. Itami becomes so mad that he beats up Zolzal and his entourage! Boxing time! When Zolzal commands to attack, Itami commands his to fire at will! So Kuribayashi relishes going all out from her punches to shooting her machine gun! Man, those shields are useless! The bullets just went through! Now you surrender? Itami questions Zolzal if there are other such survivors but he won’t say. Kuribayashi then proceeds to give him a super combo beat down till his face swells like hell! Itami could have killed him if not for Tyuule protecting him. When Noriko asks about Hiroki, Zolzal says the men have been sold as slaves at the market. Sugawara will have his banquet with Molto once they rescue the hostages. Molto mentions how strong they are but they have a weakness: They love their people too much. Of course he knows he cannot best them anyhow and agrees to initiate peace talks immediately. Pina is sure going to have lots of explaining to do. Can she?

To further show Japan’s might and as warning, the senate house is bombed although there are no casualties. The senate discusses about this unfortunate event all because Zolzal kept Japanese prisoners. Shaky Pina seems to be describing about the Japanese’s greatness and how much they love their people. Zolzal talks to his younger brother, Diabo that unconditional surrender is inevitable. Zolzal regrets he is not smart like him to make his way through life but it is hard too playing the fool. As they talk about succeeding their father, Zolzal believes himself as most likely. Diabo disagrees because word goes around that he is not favoured. That is precisely why. To end this war, father must resign but that man isn’t going to give up on power and will rule behind the shadows. Since Zolzal is easy to manipulate, it makes it more so he will be chosen. Therefore Diabo is told to choose his allegiance either to father or him. They can’t count on Pina as she has betrayed them. As for the slaves, it is learnt out of the 2 that were sold, Hiroki has already died. When Itami and co return to base, he is told by Yanagida that he won’t be charged because the government intends to use this prisoner rescue incident to boost their image and thus cannot punish the saviour. He is also told about Noriko’s family handing out flyers over her disappearance at Ginza then when the invasion broke out. Itami doesn’t want his team to tell her about this yet. Meanwhile Tuka continues to look for her father…

Episode 15
Yanagida further tells Itami about Yao’s request to slay a dragon back at her home. Itami isn’t too keen on it and what’s more, higher authorities have rejected her. But when Yanagida points out there are oil and diamond resources, perhaps a reconnaissance mission would suffice. You know, he has more liberty to do things. Like, he might stumble upon a dragon and kill it? Itami protests to that. He would not risk his men to fight another dragon. Yanagida then tells him to go see Tuka. She is kicking up a fuss because she is being told her dad is dead. When Itami enters the picture, her hallucination is so bad that she sees her father in him. She becomes all clingy with that in-your-face attitude that her ‘father’ is still alive. It is said that Yao told her the truth and that broke Tuka. Itami confronts Yao about this but she doesn’t regret her actions as she merely told the truth. She was also told Itami hold these 3 women dearly and would do anything for help. It gets emotional for Yao when she explains she sought help through her comrades to defeat the dragon but was turned down. They said only Itami could do it. Therefore she broke Tuka’s sanity just to make her understand the dragon killed her father and thus fuelling her desire for revenge. After all, when a man kills another, he can track him down and take dragon. But what if it’s a dragon? How do you direct your anger? She is willing to give her mind, body and soul to Itami if he pulls this off. When Pina tells Diabo that Zolzal has been chosen as the heir, he cautious her that Zolzal plans to go against Molto. He is worried because Zolzal is the kind who will also bring others around him down. Tyuule is told by her informant, Bouro about Zolzal’s succession. Her plan for revenge has begun and will not let this land be in peace. Bouro suggests killing the Japanese slaves so their comrades will burn down the land in rage. She cautions it is not that easy because Noriko was in the same position as her but offered salvation. Bouro wonders who will kill her. She says Pina will do the job.

Everyone is shocked that Itami decides to play Tuka’s father. Oh, happy days are here. Then one day he gets a mission to head to the capital for another translation duty. He takes this chance to tell her he will be going away for a while. Of course she is not too happy about it. Later Itami is confronted by Yao who tells him he can’t keep up with this act forever. She can see Tuka is still in pain. He can play her father but he doesn’t know her father and that is what causes the inconsistency and pain in Tuka. Even playing house continues to bother Yanagida as he wants him to go slay the dragon. He would even help arrange the paperwork when he is ready to go. Itami sees a doctor to ask his opinion if revenge can help one move forward. Then there is this talk with Duran who reminds him he is forgetting his heart. One must act even though it is very dangerous. Because in his heart he already knows what must be done. After Itami and his team leave for their mission, Tuka’s words flash before Itami’s mind. He suddenly changes his mind and jumps out of the helicopter! OMG! Yeah, they’re going to slay the dragon together. I thought Yanagida should be happy but he is blowing his top because he can’t come up with good excuses to cover for Itami abandoning his current mission. So is Itami sure he is going alone with only Tuka? Think again because Rory wants in on the action. You don’t go play fire with a girl alone, right? I suppose she is making him consider her in his team and even so it will be costly. Can he pay for her assistance? She bites his arm and drinks his blood. A contract is formed. What contract? When he dies, his soul is hers! As you might have guessed, Lelei and Yao will also be tagging along. Off they go and Yanagida cannot understand why there are people who volunteer to follow him. Yeah, I wonder. Four hot gorgeous babes, damn it!

Episode 16
Delilah must be one happy singing bunny girl. Till she receives an official kill order. Now, this is all part of Tyuule’s plan to use her spy to kill Noriko and make it look like the orders came from Pina. Relations with Japan will then break down and war will continue. Then Zolzal, the man who destroyed her clan will be destroyed with everything else. When Yanagida reports to Hazama about Itami’s reconnaissance, the latter knows there is more to it. Since Itami is such an important man, he sends out more troops to support him. Yanagida is in shock since he didn’t expect troops to be sent out so easily. Yanagida is then tasked to talk with Duran. He believes his crown prince is trying to get him out of the picture and needs his help to send letters to his allies to retake his province. Of course Yanagida won’t get involved in this family affair if there is nothing in it for SDF. Duran will allow him to cross borders to fight the dragon but that itself isn’t sufficient. Yanagida negotiates for mining rights and tax exemption. Noriko tries to call her family but there is no answer. She thinks of dying. Delilah heard that and she is very much happy to oblige. Oddly when Noriko accepts her fate to die, Delilah becomes worried. Nobody in her line of work would want to die that easy, eh? Yanagida catches her in the act. They face off. As reinforcements come, Delilah stabs him in the back. This causes him to panic and unload all his bullets into her. Double KO.

As they are in ICU, the SDF use their manpower and intelligence to track the mole and information. It seems the anti-peace faction is trying to use the Formar clan to assassinate Noriko and the one who will gain most from it is Zolzal. As information will take 10 days to reach him, they decide to leak out information of the failed assassination and see how far it takes them. Also, they will investigate people around Zolzal. The air force division tracks down a dragon. Normally a dragon would be furious if something zooms faster and closer than it is. This is part of the air force’s plan to observe the dragon’s flying capabilities. Then they play chicken? Well, the jet seemed to get roasted and the pilot got roasted by the mechanic for being too reckless. Itami and co arrive at the canyon where Yao’s clan lives. As she goes down to call her clan, other clan members surround Itami and co. However the dragon drops by. Bullets and arrows do no harm. Rory and Lelei tackle the beast while Tuka starts reeling from the trauma. Itami then tells her this is the dragon that killed her father. She continues to be in denial so he put his foot down he is not her father and they are going to kill the dragon that killed her father. Then he guides her to use a bazooka and aim at the dragon. Missed. But that felt good, right? Or not. But it got away.

Episode 17
Itami and co take shelter for the night. Yao introduces the rest of her clan members who will accompany Itami to kill the dragon as some know where the dragon’s nest is. First, they are trained on how to use a bazooka. I wonder if they understand the fancy words. Then they begin their long trek to the volcano. Lelei puts Tuka to sleep all the way so she won’t kick up any fuss. Because Rory has bad experienced with undergrounds, she is made to wait outside to lookout for the dragon. The rest head in to plant C4 bombs around and it is a good thing the dragon is not around. They notice swords of fallen warriors who died while challenging the dragon. Also, hatched egg shells. Could there be more than one? Rory spots the dragon coming back but the geographical rocks are interfering with the headset. Everyone panics when they see the dragon. I guess the dark elves forgot their training. We see them all get burnt, smacked, stomped and even eaten! Even worse, the wiring to the C4 is cut off. Can Itami rewire them back in this chaos? Tuka wakes up from all that ruckus and this brings back her trauma. She remembers her dad died protecting her and now she blames herself for his death. Lelei dismisses it and tells her it is the dragon that killed him. Now vent your anger towards it. Tuka feels helpless to defeat it. Lelei also explains the same experience of the dragon slaughtering her village and she lost many friends. She uses all her magic to pick up the weapons and pierce the dragon. It worked. But the dragon is even madder. Seeing the utter chaos and Itami’s life in danger, Tuka unleashes her lightning power down on the dragon. This in turn sets off the C4 explosives as it blows the dragon to bits!

Itami and his harem manage to get out alive. If you’re wondering where the hell Rory is all this while, please note that she is bleeding with all the wounds outside! Giselle, a fellow Apostle like her swoops down to explain how she easily defeated Rory. Because Rory made a contract with Itami, all his wounds transferred to her. Therefore in normal circumstances, Giselle can never beat her. Now you know why he is unscathed, right? Giselle is here under orders from Hardy to bring Rory to her. Giselle reveals she has bred 2 dragons and trained it to obey her. Thus the awakening of the dragon 50 years earlier from its slumber is due to Hardy’s doing. Like she gives a f*ck about other lives, right? She orders the dragons to get them as Itami and his girls make a run for it. That is when the air force and the tank artillery support arrive in time to bomb the hell out of the dragons!!! Oh sh*t! Such awesome firepower! Now Giselle is left shaking in fear what the heck she just saw. Better make a run for it before it’s Rory to return the favour. Itami is surprised at the turn of events. I know, it must be shocking to still be alive. Yeah, a miracle. Tuka has come to terms with reality and is glad she has got her revenge. But she won’t stop calling Itami her father is she is already used to it.

Episode 18
For Itami’s act of desertion, he will be suspended for 2 weeks, stripped of his command and get a pay cut. But now for his rewards! And there are a whole damn lot of them! From obtaining honorary ranks from chieftains to commendations to riches to even ownership of Yao, he is also promoted as the Special Region resources and can go anywhere and even bring his harem along to look for anything. What has he got to say for all this? He just wants his break… Itami and his harem make their way to the academic magic city of Rondel since Lelei has a presentation to do so she can be promoted to the rank of master. This town is as odd as any other town. People think they are followers of Rory but thanks to this they get preferential treatment at their inn. Except for Itami whom they think is a manservant so he gets to stay in the dusty storeroom. The gang make their way to the R&D department of the city. The very hip and lively old lady grandmaster, Mimoza La Mer welcomes them with open arms. Only is she managed to pronounce Lelei’s name right. It’s Lelei not Lily! She is impressed she is trying to become a master at such a young age and even making it more commendable is Kato’s recommendations. Happy Mimoza makes a mess by tripping over the books. This earns the wrath of her assistant, Arpeggio. She is Lelei’s older sister. You can tell how much jealous her sister is when she sarcastically hints about a certain someone trying to become a master while her sister is struggling in her doctorate. A certain someone dabbling in romance while her sister can’t land a man. A certain someone hanging out with rich people but her sister has no money at all. Yeah, jealous sister alright. Got a problem? Deal with it!

The peace talks at the capital begin. Sherry continues to bug Sugawara about being her future wife. No doubt being a lolicon is frowned upon in Japan, it is legal here. However Sherry isn’t just an annoying loli because she observes that no one is talking to the Japanese diplomats as the people are too afraid to approach them. She hopes he can use her as lack on conversation skills won’t be good for peace talks. Zolzal is mad that peace talks have reached this stage. He didn’t want this to happen and despite being the crown prince, he feels powerless. Tyuule can only note he doesn’t realize he is being controlled. The ceremony begins. Zolzal breaks protocol to meet some of his subjects who survived that humiliating beat down. He remembers he held back during the beat down so he could feign incompetence and avoid a purge but it backfired. The head of the dragon was found at the castle gates and nobody knew who put it there. Molto wants to know who defeated the dragon so Shandy Gaff names Itami and his harem. He isn’t too impressed hearing the name but as Shandy describes each of the members, Molto takes an interest for Lelei because she can be considered as an Imperial citizen. Furthermore, a student of Kato. He orders Pina to find her and invite her to this palace as he wants to reward her. Zolzal is furious that someone else is getting higher glory just for slaying the dragon. When everyone drinks to a toast, suddenly Molto collapses, shocking everyone. Tyuule and Bouro had slipped poison in his drink. Zolzal didn’t have a part in this but you can see his face he is sure damn happy about the turn of events.

Episode 19
Zolzal takes over the throne as he rallies his people and army to make their kingdom great again. In short, they’re going to war with Japan. Pina talks to him about imprisoning pro-peace senators without proof that they were bribed to support Japan. Well… They’ll eventually find it. His friends are made generals as they plot their less than ethical way to wage war with Japan. This includes gathering goblins to attack villages around Arnus. They will also dress some of their men up as bandits and criminals. This means Japan will take the fall and have the people lose faith in them. Pina then tries to convince Diabo to help her stop Zolzal’s tyranny but his plan is to bring in other countries to stop Zolzal. Not a wise move from Pina’s perspective because this could mean their kingdom and people will be stolen. Unfortunately Diabo will do the way he deems fit. Meanwhile Mimoza talks to Lelei and co. Mimoza knows Rory 50 years ago and once travelled with her. Rory tries to tease her for becoming an old woman but Mimoza the ever happy old lady takes that in perfect stride. No fun… When Lelei talks about cheap books, this sends Arpeggio into break down mode because it seems her part time job is writing book copies (no Photostat machines in this world) and her pay is dictated by its price. Well, studying mineral magic isn’t cheap… Rory reminds Mimoza about the ‘homework’ she gave her before they parted: Why are there so many races in this world. Her life research shows that the Gods created some Primal Forest where elves came from and then its different clans scattered throughout time. As every elven legend points Arnus as their home, the reason why there are many reasons is because of the Gate. From time to time, a portal from another world opens and it brings other worldly creatures here. They fight with the locals but over time they mix and consummate with each other. Thus it is no doubt that humans here have also originated the same way although they are the newest to arrive. Rory praises her work. Although Rory might not know everything entirely, demigods like her only obey the will of Gods by guiding those who are promising and eliminating those who approach the forbidden. That is how world order is maintained.

Back to Arpeggio is might be going crazy upon seeing a laptop. You know how this could replace books, right? She reaches breaking point upon realizing Lelei has surpassed her in everything and that she should just give up and be a housewife. She asks if Itami is single! Then all the girls gladly give out what they know about him and she is taking down notes! However Lelei notes Itami is no longer single because he has done Ceremony of Three Nights with her. Basically it is as good as married in this world when you sleep in 3 different places together. Didn’t know that, did he? Furthermore, Tuka can be considered during her moments of lunacy. This makes Rory mad because she is left out! Now Arpeggio has lost it. She snaps. Lelei is ahead in everything she does. What else to do? SHE DUMPS SOUP ON HER HEAD!!! OMFG!!! Time for a b*tch fight! Rory officiates this ‘match’ and anything goes as long as you don’t kill or scar the face. So destroying the city is okay? The match is equally fought and when it seemed like a draw, an assassin walks up to Lelei and fires his crossbow! Luckily Grey Co Aldo took him out. They explain about the orders to bring Lelei home because she is a human hero of the Imperial that slew the dragon (I wonder if Arpeggio can keep her cool upon hearing another awesome milestone). Although Lelei protests and doesn’t consider herself an Imperial citizen, that is not what the people thinks. Furthermore, this assassination could mean somebody is jealous of Lelei and wants her taken out. Grey adds another skilled assassin, Pied Piper is also hired to assassinate Lelei. He hopes to work with Itami to protect her and defeat the enemy. However Itami has a different plan: Run! Meanwhile Tyuule passes to Luflus a law created by Zolzal that would make him convict anyone he wants. She hopes the senate will pass this and set it in motion.

Episode 20
Kanou learns this oppressive law, Oprichnina. However he will not let Japan take in refugees and wants those in the Special Region to stay low. As many are being arrested, Casel as the leader of the pro-peace faction is seeking refuge in Sherry’s home. But it isn’t long before those Cleaners come looking here. Sherry’s parents have her guide Casel to safety as they sacrifice themselves and burn down the mansion. She is in shock over her parents’ death but Casel slaps her to her sense so as not to let their sacrifice be in vain. As they have no food, Sherry has to trade some of her pearls Sugawara gave her to get some. Luckily she also has gained some valuable information about the changing of the guard. She suggests to Casel to seek asylum at Jade Palace, the only foreign territory here under Japan that is guarded by the treaty and the empire cannot touch them. They make their way as the Cleaners are making a ruckus from their door to door search. Bozes and Beefeater E Caty have them wait as they go request for the ambassadors to have an audience with them. No luck. Rejected. Sherry wants her to try again and seek Sugawara’s help since that guy is going to be her future husband. Being the good diplomat he is, he has to turn down that offer because if he accepts one, he might as well have to accept all. Besides, Japan’s orders are already clear. Even more heart breaking is how Sherry is screaming his name to hear his voice. Being the professional, he ignores her. The Cleaners are here and Casel knows his time is up and surrenders. Sherry is dragged away but she continues to scream Sugawara’s name. I guess it got to him because here he is telling those uncouth barbarians not to touch his future wife. The Rose Knights help Sherry cross over to Japan’s territory. Sugawara and Sherry emotionally embrace. She apologizes for selling his necklace but he promises to get her another one with his own money and not taxpayer’s money. So that’s how… Of course Sugawara’s act just opened a can of worms. The Rose Knights fight off the Cleaners.

Episode 21
The Cleaners are amateur soldiers so it is no wonder they take heavy casualty. Some ministers talk to the PM about this crisis and to get their people out to safety but the PM insists no action to be taken because of the media and foreign ambassadors who are touring Arnus currently. He doesn’t want such information leak would let the media have a field day. So looks like everyone will have to hang in there for a week… After the Cleaners retreat, Sugawara is left wondering the consequences of his decision. By saving Sherry, he put his nation in danger. But Casel has who now become a refugee in Japan, mentions about the sin he will bear either way. The most he could do is choose the sin he feels most satisfied with. As part of the Imperial’s law, he is now Sherry’s guardian. That is, he is now her father-in-law. Noriko is now a neutral coordinator for the media and talking to Kazunari Komurazaki who intends to expose the SDF’s incompetency and wasting taxpayer’s money. He is sure SDF only wants them to visit areas they approve and the locals are putting up a show to see how good their relationship is. Noriko wonders about this negative reporting and if there is no objective journalism, who are readers supposed to trust? It is not the media’s responsibility! I guess in a way he is right. You are responsible for what you read and believe. Itami and co are back in Rondel after a little runaway detour. That night they anticipate assassins will come into their room. True enough, they did. Itami unleashes a flash bomb that temporarily blinds them and Rory knocking them out. They recognize those assassins as the inn’s staffs. Talking with the inn’s manager, Hamel, they reveal somebody paid them and convinced them they were criminals. They are very sorry for what they done and Hamel too hopes they won’t punish them. Thanks to Lelei and Rory’s mercy, they live.

Grey talks about Pied Piper whose real identity is unknown and he operates from behind the shadows manipulating others to do his dirty job. Unless he is defeated, he will send more assassins. Lelei suggests they remain staying at the same inn as those who are tricked will be more wary. Also, it helps narrow down their opponent’s identities and she is confident Pipe Piper will contact them again and will use the inn staffs as bait to ambush Pied Piper. Next morning, there is a commotion outside the inn. With the bridge repaired, a messenger arrived and spread that heroic dragon killing act, which of course has been blown out of proportion. So the people want to glimpse them especially Lelei who has been made a hero. Itami feels something amiss. If Grey knew about their situation and came here from the capital, but how come this just became public knowledge? As there are many bridges from the capital to here, Itami suspects someone knocked them out and that something happened in the capital after Grey left and they didn’t want them to know. A thousand Imperial guards now appear outside the Jade Palace. Pina is summoned by Zolzal to request her knights to stand down so he could capture the escaped people there. As promised he won’t hurt the ambassadors and leave them until the political situation stabilizes. She refuses to hand over Casel and tells him to do what he wants since this country now belongs to him. In that case, he won’t let her leave this place. The PM chides his ministers about Sugawara’s actions in accepting those refugees. If the media finds out about this, they will be criticized in every way and lose the next elections. But these good men would rather lose the election than not do the right thing and regret it. The PM relents and gives him permission but they will solely bear this responsibility. Time for the SDF to get moving.

Episode 22
Shandy is tasked to keep tabs on the inn staffs as they do not recognize her face. She spots them meeting up with this hot chick, Norra who tells them to let Lelei know there will be an assassin on her presentation day and to wear an armour. Norra will pretend to be the Pied Piper and pretend to kill Lelei. The real Pied Piper will come to check the body and that is when they will nab him. After Norra leaves, Shandy goes to tail her. Man, it took her 4 days to return to the rest! She lets them know everything as well as seeing the real Pied Piper in person. Itami’s plan is to let the enemy think their plan is proceeding well. On the day of the presentation, everyone is on a lookout for anybody suspicious. A frail old man takes out his knife but is easily apprehended. He accuses Lelei of stealing somebody’s life research for he cannot believe a girl as young as her is trying to be a master. When it is Lelei’s turn to present, Norra comes out of her hiding to attack. Suddenly all the magic blasts Norra away. As word of Lelei’s assassin spread around, it seems everyone in the hall has anticipated for this day. Itami and co believe Lelei is in safe hands as they leave the stage. Suddenly Shandy stabs her in the chest! Thankfully Lelei was wearing armour beneath. But I wonder why didn’t everybody blast her with their magic? They didn’t think there would be a second attempt?

The battle between the Rose Knights and the Imperial guards are taking its toll. Tyuule is not amused that Luflus is taking this long and warns him to do whatever it takes to win because Zolzal is awaiting news of their victory. Pina is now treated as a slave and locked in a cell where Tyuule was once imprisoned. Tyuule herself even personally welcomed her to her old room and tells her a message from Zolzal: You lose. Shandy is apprehended and Lelei manages to finish her presentation but her masters title will have to wait until this commotion is settled. I don’t understand this part because it seems Shandy doesn’t remember hearing the inn staffs talking to Norra about letting Lelei wear an armour. Unless she didn’t hear them or she didn’t believe they would tell her. Shandy explains her doing. As Zolzal is after Pina’s life, she wants to prove her loyalty to Pina by bringing Lelei’s head. If Pina is held captive in the palace and risking her life, wouldn’t it be easier to just raid the castle? Unless you want to fight the thousands of soldiers protecting it. Therefore Grey says the fastest way is to cut everything off from the source and kill Zolzal. Otherwise the assassinations will just keep coming. The messenger has just arrived to update everyone about the bad news on Pina. Hazama has now received the official word. He immediately mobilizes the SDF.

Episode 23
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for! To see how cool SDF kick ass and kill all their enemies! The action that we have been deprived of this season is now here! Oh yeah! Watch how the SDF easily take out the primitive enemies with their firepower and stealth, leaving no stones unturned. Everybody dies! Also see how cool their jets bomb the place and helicopters drop down parachuting troops into the capital. You enemies are no match! You’re in sh*t hell now Zolzal! Tyuule reminds him he mustn’t run and stay here even if the enemy comes here because he is supposed to give orders. The SDF continue their mission to free the nobles and ambassadors and send them to Italica. They made it to Jade Palace to slaughter all the troops there. To show that they aren’t all perfect, just one freaking guy just got an arrow in his arm. That’s it?! Luflus is slain when he attempts to escape. With the enemy slain, they secure Sugawara and the rest. Bozes and Beefeater hope the SDF can take their Rose Knights with them to Italica too. Then they ride off to rescue Pina. Unfortunately the castle defence is heavy so they have to make a run for it. Fortunately for them, a unit of SDF has been waiting for them. They shoot the chasing cavalry pack and everyone got onboard safely just in the nick of time! Super wow! Only Bozes is crying hysterically because she couldn’t save her beloved Pina. Yeah, no fun reading yaoi doujin without her partner, right? Oops… Zolzal is at a loss over the heavy defeat and asks Tyuule for advice. She suggests telling the people he is leading his army to defeat the Japanese even if it doesn’t seem so. But she knows they will come back here because the biggest key to peace is still locked up in the capital. Pina is screaming at the top of her voice to be freed but nobody is there… Itami is driving recklessly and fast back to the capital. His girls wonder what gives for this bumpy ride. He is worried about his men and can’t let them die.

Episode 24
We are reminded of Itami’s priorities of working to support his hobby. Remember who this guy really is. Itami is reunited with his team as they plan out a rescue mission for Pina and Molto (yup, this guy is still very much alive but in ICU). Although Itami will go through the front gates with Rory and Lelei, he has to act as their servant. Pulling the humvee hidden beneath all that wood to make it look like an oversized cart? Good luck. Pina is bought before Zolzal and she isn’t giving him any answers he wants to hear. However is not cowed because he knows the SDF will return to save her and he will be ready for them when they arrive. You think so? See how scared he looks when Rory bursts in. The guards are hesitant to act because all those outside have been put under a sleeping spell and those inside the chamber want to slug it out with Rory, be my guest. Zolzal becomes desperate as he calls his ogre to attack them. Man, how did this huge creature enter the hallway? Anyway, Rory and Lelei fight it but it is Lelei who steals the limelight and finishes it off with her powerful magic. Zolzal wants to fight Itami man to man but Itami fires a warning shot to stay where he is. After all, they are always watching him and can go to him anytime they want. He is just here to rescue Pina and Molto as well as remind Zolzal to stop sending assassins after Lelei. With the rescue mission done, Itami and co drive their way out as they pick up their comrades, smashing through the Imperial guards. Seriously, bullets versus spears? Humvee versus horses? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who will win. I just have to commend the Imperial guards for their bravery and loyalty.

The bumpy ride even wakes up Molto from his slumber! He even finishes their sentence about making Zolzal a traitor once Pina reunites with the pro-peace senators in Italica. Molto knows Zolzal will not listen to him anymore and thus a civil war is inevitable. He has decided to side with Japan and will make Pina the crown princess and establish a real government. Whether she wants to fight her brother is up to her. It is her path to decide. Zolzal and his subjects as well as the pro-war senators are leaving the capital to the northeast even if it means the government here would fall. Zolzal promises revenge but how can he say that when he spots such a scared looking face and cowering each time he hears a gunshot? Tyuule is also in a dilemma. She spent her life as a prisoner and trying to bring down the empire to avenge her fallen people. Now it is achieved, she cannot understand why she is still crying. I suppose those aren’t tears of joy? Ten days later at Italica, Pina is officially appointed as the crown princess. In this lavish ceremony, we notice a lot of hook-ups . Other than Sugawara-Sherry, there are also Tomita-Bozes (she’s pregnant too?!), Beefeater takes a liking for Shunya Kengun after that last minute rescue, and finally Delilah taking responsibility caring for Yanagida. Shocking romances, right? Especially Shandy who laments nobody chose her. That’s what you get for being conned by the Pied Piper, right? But the most important person of all, Itami is not here. Because he is back in Japan getting his ‘revenge’ attending his doujin convention he missed so much! Oh yeah! This is it! Screw coronation ceremonies! This is his reason for living! His spree is abruptly halted because Tuka, Lelei and Rory won’t let him have all the fun as they have got permission from Hazama to come here so he must take care of them. He tells them to go back but his nightmare has only just begun. Everyone recognizes the girls and they surround them like celebrities! A policeman offers to give them special escort and as they sit in his police car, Risa passes by and is in shocked what her ex-husband did this time!!! And all he wanted to do is to buy his doujin… This war will continue…

Nobody Messes With Japan! And I Mean Nobody!
The ending felt insufficient… Not because it was a bad one because I want more! It is not enough to end it like that! Don’t leave me hanging, come on! It is a worrying trend these days that anime series usually getting sequels will most likely ending having that sequel faring worse and fall below expectations. Thankfully I can say that Gate does not fall into that category because the second season is still as exciting and impressive as the first. Although there are a few things that prevent me from saying that the second season is much better than the first and even if it was, it is just perhaps a little bit more. Even with the serious stuffs picking up this season feel like glorifying Japan’s military propaganda. Yeah, so good I don’t mind being brainwashed by it.

Now, one reason why I said it isn’t way much better (please note, I still mean this season is pretty damn good) is because there are too many characters and this itself can be both a double edged sword in a short series although this series is 24 episodes if you take into account both seasons. But that is still by far an underachievement where it is concerned. Take for instance Itami’s own troops. Last season some of them I believe had very minimal dialogue and roles like as though they are there to make up for the numbers. This season feels even worse with only Kuribayashi and Kurokawa getting the most albeit very limited screen time. And that is just relegated to the first half of the series. What happened to the other guys? Like Itami’s fellow otaku Kurata? Because with Itami away from his team most of the time this season, it is like they need not showcase his little platoon as there are many other army personnel to feature and go about. Not that it makes any difference anyway. Then it is like because it is the final episode, they decided to make it one last hurrah for them to remind us they are still around and not to be forgotten like Itami’s otaku hobby and thus reuniting his team for one big operation. I don’t know if this is fair or not. As long as it ends well.

Some characters who were featured in the first season were sorely missed in this season. Remember Itami’s ex-otaku wife, Risa? Yeah… My hopes of seeing her make her return this season is dashed. Even making her cameo in the final episode didn’t make up for it. After all, this season mainly concentrates on the events in the other world instead of in Japan. Therefore no sneaky moves from foreign world leaders, hit squads and CIA agents this time (sorry folks, Komakado not appearing this season). Same case for Bozes’ partner, Panache. I didn’t know what happened to her till that final episode cameo. Then there are some characters who didn’t even appear this season despite appearing in the first. Such as Lelei’s old wizard master, Kato. Remember this guy? I suppose nobody likes to remember an old fart so that is why he has been dropped. Not that he would play a pivotal part in any of the plots anyway. Remember that merchant, Lyudo too? No? Guess not. Not that it mattered anyway. Maybe the series was just trolling with some of the characters to appear in the first season, making you think they are important but they aren’t actually. What about Diabo? How long does this guy take to get help from other countries? Or did he just run away and never to be seen again.

Remember Kuribayashi’s reporter sister, Nanami? Only appearing for one freaking short scene when the media visited Arnus. That’s it?! What the heck was that scene for anyway? It wouldn’t have been necessary to the plot (at least for this season concerned) and my view is that it is just to show what happened to Noriko. Some new characters debuting this season showed potential but their very short and sometimes single episode appearance only leaves more to be desired. Especially Giselle whom I thought would become the antagonist or at least sub-boss and thus opening up another development that is related to Rory. How unfortunate that did not happen. At least not as unfortunate as Yao’s other dark elves, all who died during the dragon slaying stint. Because it felt a bit funny when Yao introduced them all like as though they might be staying with us for a little longer but they only served their purpose to be sacrifices. I wonder what happened to Norra too. Just another unimportant character tossed away after her failed assassination…

Then there is the plot too. Rest assured that the plots and developments are intriguing as they are amazing. It keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to anticipate what happens next because a lot of things happened in this season. Some would turn out serious and affect the tone for the rest of the series like Zolzal becoming the next emperor and some turned out to be duds and just trolls. Like that seemingly earthquake that occurred right in the initial episodes. Mainly they substituted many of the comedy parts for the serious drama this season. Either way, they are all interesting nevertheless. The plot moves quickly from one to another and this branches out into a handful of developments, splitting this season into one that focuses on Itami’s group and the other on the rest. That is why it feels that Itami and his little platoon didn’t have much screen time this season as Itami is mostly away with his harem from slaying the fire dragon to escorting Lelei to obtain her masters. And while he is away, Zolzal makes his moves to further throw the world into chaos with his brand of war to Japan. I hope after this season that he and the future emperors would learn never ever to f*ck with Japan! All hail Japan!

Talking about Itami and his harem as the main characters, like I have said in my previous paragraph that because of the plot developments and many other characters, their role and appearance seem to have dwindled albeit you will still feel that they are the main characters. One thing good I can see about this that it shows that the SDF doesn’t need to overly rely on this guy to get things done. Itami may have did some ‘miracles’ in the first season but it goes to show that the SDF too can perform as good without the need for being him in every damn mission. With Itami getting a bit serious here, we hear less of his otaku penchant. My last season’s blog I remembered that I was hoping to see more development for Itami’s harem as well. Unfortunately with what I said about too many other plots and characters, this seems to dilute this too. Tuka is basically a damsel in (mental) distress for the first half of the season until she overcomes it but after that it feels like she is just tagging along. A food for thought: Is it okay to get revenge as cure for psychological trauma? Yeah, we’re only human. Apparently it works for elves too.

It feels the same for Lelei too because doing her masters isn’t exactly exciting but making her the target of an assassination plot seemed to drum it up although it isn’t that necessary. Finally the most disappointing would be Rory because she is cheeky, sarcastic (she did ask Itami how it feels to have a ‘daughter’ way older than him) and bubbly and other than her short stint with Giselle, there was nothing devilishly interesting in her role. You don’t see her go on a crazy killing spree in the name of Emloy and thus she is by far quite tame this season. She didn’t even do bold flirty stuffs with Itami here (biting his arm doesn’t count) like the last time (remember that seductive hotspring inn night?) and dare she blame him for not doing anything to her? I thought she is the one who is supposed to take the initiative? And with Yao confirming to be the latest in Itami’s harem, she didn’t do anything important either. She is with him because she is now his property after the dragon slaying mission.

With the drama drumming up, there is no time for Pina to appreciate and enjoy her yaoi doujin… After all, it is all hard work trying to prevent her kingdom and world falling into chaos and it gets even tougher when she gets imprisoned. If yaoi was something subtle last season, then perhaps the issue of child marriage would be that subtle issue this season. Sugawara’s unexpected engagement to Sherry might seem a bit odd for now. It is not like they are getting married instantly. But you have to remember that Sherry is willing to wait till she grows up till the legal age before they get married. By that time she would have grown up into a stunning beautiful woman instead of looking like a loli. Then it would be no different story because even in the real world, there are many marriages with such wide age gaps between men and women.

Some new characters this season were fast becoming my favourites like Arpeggio and Mimoza. In need for a comical character this season (because Pina was one in the last season especially the way stressed out herself), Arpeggio quickly became a likable idiot in my books simply because of her jealousy towards her little sister who seems to be better in everything than her. That soup dumping incident was the funniest by all. She might not take sisterly fights and rivalry to a new height but you can sympathise with her whenever she goes into that breakdown and stress mode. Or not. Somewhat reminds you a bit like Pina, eh? And Mimoza is truly likable because of her bubbly personality. You can never insult or bring this woman down because she takes everything as a compliment. It is odd for me to say this but I find her penchant for saying “Oh my, oh my, oh my…” to be highly addictive. I thought Shandy would become another joker character especially after that flash bomb incident with the assassins. She was really funny, her reaction being temporarily blinded. I’m not sure why or how she became a traitor even if it is the effects of Pied Piper whom we will never know of his identity, it is just mind boggling that she would easily do the unthinkable. Or a crazy theory of mine, she could be Pied Piper herself! Then again, since she is back to her normal ditzy self, guess not. Or is it?

Zolzal might look like the antagonist of the series but everyone knows Tyuule is the puppet master behind it all. This guy became a puppet anyway and if it is not by his father, it would be his furry slave. All under his nose. Just like Zolzal, I feel Tyuule is also lost because unlike others like Pina who have support and backup, Tyuule has always been very much alone. Had she met the right people earlier, would things have turned out much differently? With the way this season ended, you won’t hear the last of him (or any other characters in that matter) because muscle brain guys like him are very hard to put down or change over a new leaf. Even after being scared by the might of the SDF, he still won’t learn his lesson. And with the SDF do not practise killing the big fish (small fries who are unimportant to the series are acceptable), Zolzal will come back again with a vengeance unless somebody really puts a stop in his tracks. Uh huh. Let’s leave it to Itami and co again, huh?

The action parts do not disappoint and it is as good as before. Though, this season they leave it a little late to showcase the SDF’s firepower. I have to admit that there is a little guilty pleasure inside me (and most of us) in seeing the SDF gun down the ‘enemy’ and emerging unscathed. Yes, they make no mistakes and their missions always work out as planned. To perfection. Even if there are injuries, it is so minor that we will overlook it and still consider their victory to perfect. Flawless victory. Oh yeah. True heroes of the world! It is in a way sad to see them being glorified like this because at the same time if you think too much about it, they look like big bullies taking out on enemies with lesser and backwater technology. Heck, I don’t think they even have technology! That is why in a certain light, the media in this series are the other ‘antagonists’ as they are trying to find ways to bring down the SDF. Of course don’t worry. The SDF can’t be guilty of war crimes and slavery, right? (Read: Sarcasm). Other than SDF kicking ass, the dragon slaying mission was also exciting in its own right. Because they added explosions. Yeah, we all love explosions and things going boom. The most boring one goes to Rose Knights and Imperial guards clashing. See how allies clash in a primitive hand to hand combat… Even Lelei and Arpeggio’s magic fight that didn’t amount to anything much seemed better. Just saying…

The same seiyuus from the first season are retained and with more characters this season, the list of seiyuus expands. Joining the casts this season are Ami Koshimizu as Tyuule (Ryuuko in Kill La Kill), Katsuyuki Konishi as Zolzal (Oga in Beelzebub), Rina Hidaka as Sherry (Silica in Sword Art Online), Rumi Ookubo as Shandy (Hibachi in Mushibugyou), Mutsumi Tamura as Beefeater (Sonya in Kill me Baby), Fumi Hirano as Mimoza (Squall in Infinite Stratos 2), Ayahi Takagaki as Arpeggio (Chris in Senki Zesshou Symphogear series), Yuichiro Yumehara as Diabo (Mitsuhide in Akagami No Shirayuki-hime), Hibiku Yamamura as Noriko (Asuramaru in Owari No Seraph), Ayane Sakura as Giselle (Nao in Charlotte), Rina Satou as Norra (Misaka in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun), Makoto Furukawa as Luflus (Banri in Golden Time), Yuka Saitou as Misery (Tamamo in Daitoshokan No Hitsujikai) and Tsuyoshi Kouyama as Bouro (Leon in Trinity Blood).

The same group of people that sang the opening and ending themes for the first season continue to reprise their roles in their respective themes. Thus don’t be surprised to hear Kishida Kyoudan and The Akeboshi Rockets singing the very rock based Gate II ~Sekai Wo Koete~. This song somewhat reminds me of Highschool Of The Dead’s opening theme since it is also sung by the same group. The voices behind Tuka, Lelei and Rory again sing the ending theme, Itsudatte Communication, a generic anime pop ballad. The ending credits animation shows Itami’s harem having fun in a military training stint. Rather odd because I believe army training regiments are quite strict and disciplined. So it feels like they are like in some kid’s summer boot camp. Really.

Overall, this marks the end of a great season and it leaves me wanting for more. Since the novel which it is adapted from is still ongoing, there is still hope that there might be more episodes and seasons in the future. If you can get past all that military propaganda, this series is a good and entertaining watch. If there is one thing we learn from this series, even if it is all just waxing lyrical about the SDF being nice and ethical blokes dedicated to protecting their country and loved ones, you still wouldn’t want to mess with them. They will kick your ass so hard it will send you flying back in time to a primitive era and turn your civilization into a caveman. You have a choice of making them your friends or your enemies and risk being taken out. Don’t you even dare thinking of f*cking them. You have been warned. All hail the SDF! All hail Japan! All hail mighty Japan for their continuous unrelenting efforts in protecting world peace. And anime and manga too!

Never judge a book by its cover. The grass is always greener on the other side. How often have we heard these adages? We must be getting sick of them. But we never learn from it. That is why there will always be funny stories based on this. Take for instance, Kare Baka: Wagahai No Kare Wa Baka De R. From the point of view of others, our main protagonist might seem to have the hottest boyfriend in town. He definitely has the looks. Wow. A hot looking stud whom girls would die for to go out with. But there is a secret that nobody else knows. Despite his good looks, her boyfriend is the world’s biggest idiot! A stupid person! That is his only redeeming quality! OMG! How can hot people be stupid?! Believe it. That is why those adages come in handy. And so this short anime series is about peeking into his stupidity while making us laugh at it all. Hey wait. So it’s like, stupid people would only understand stupid jokes?

Episode 1
Akomi Natsuki is trying to sneak away from her friends, Reika and Makoto. But they know better. She is supposed to show them her hot boyfriend whom she claims is way cooler than theirs. Unless it is all in her figment of imagination. Don’t worry. He is real. Because he is here now. Girls, meet Ponta Ninomiya. OMG! So freaking handsome! So freaking polite! So cool! So awesome that they are blown away to bits! Reika falls to her knees and this is actually a sign of respect of prostrating before Akomi. Meanwhile Makoto is knocked out cold and her tummy is exposed, a sign of surrender and obedience. They want Akomi to spill all the details on him but why are they suddenly flirting with him? Because all hot guys belong to everybody! Luckily Akomi has foreseen this and has Ninomiya rehearsed fake answers like he is from Keio University. However for lines that were unrehearsed, it is natural he screws up. Like when they ask the course he takes, he misinterprets them as duck quacks and mentions he loves ducks! Akomi fears her lie will be exposed. Especially he isn’t even a college student and they only met at a thrift store. Good thing his good looks keep the girls from thinking rationally. Yup, and that is this idiot’s only redeeming quality. His pretty face.

Episode 2
Akomi is shocked that her boyfriend has things to do. But when she learns he is to meet up with his high school friends, she knows what is going on. Apparently he and his friends attend the stupidest high school in Japan! And they are taking part in an Earth Deliberation Meeting! So folks, meet the equally handsome and dumb Piisuke Kurosaki, Monyokichi Ootori and Peruhiko Saijou. So they’re discussing about global warming. Wow. So deep. The world is getting warmer. So what’s the problem? They like it nice and warm. They talk about all the food they can eat in summer as well as in winter. But can they enjoy winter foods if it is no longer that cold? But whatever Kurosaki suggests, it seems they should it down that nobody eats such food in such season. From hotpots to tofu to grated yam to daikon radish, they end their ‘fruitful’ discussion today. Because it is time to get some food! It is getting a little chilly so what kind of food goes with that? Crepes. Yeah…

Episode 3
Akomi is telling her school problems to Ninomiya at a diner. It is about her dilemma of quitting her swimming club to concentrate on her studies but her grades didn’t improve. If you think he has been diligently listening to her, you will know that he is more concerned of the dishes he ordered. Each time he finishes a dish, he realizes he has lots of rice to spare and orders another dish. And when he finishes the rice, he notices the dish is still not finished and orders more rice. Rinse and repeat this cycle of imbalance as poor Akomi pours out her dilemma and troubles that even spilled into her family life. It all ends when Ninomiya realizes his finished rice and he still has a fried shrimp left. Akomi then steals and eats it. She feels good in having someone listen to her troubles but Ninomiya is a sad cat that his girlfriend ate his fried shrimp. The struggle is real. First world problem…

Episode 4
So what is the Earth Deliberation Meeting is discussing now? Declining birth rates! Oooh. How deep. Ninomiya suggests people to get married but before that they have to date. However Ninomiya’s friends can’t say much as they are not popular with girls and don’t have a girlfriend like him. Don’t worry. There is another way. He shows them a packet of birdseeds. It is for storks. If they increase the stork population, it is sure and definite the birth rates will increase as it will attract more storks to carry more babies. Genius! But where to get more storks? He spotted them at nearby Ueda. The trick now is to get more birdseeds and since they need money for that as well as travelling expenses, everyone agrees to do part time jobs! Time to get their ass moving! Oh yeah! Hey wait… Do storks eat birdseeds?

Episode 5
Akomi sees Ninomiya playing with a bunch of kindergarten kids. And they are calling him their leader! Immature? These kids are even busier than this guy as they leave for their own lessons and activities. Ninomiya then tells Akomi that he once had his secret training at this park. That technique is called Fanged Wolf Wind Fist. When he was young, he followed this shady man to his home where he would teach him this secret technique in exchange for his allowance and snacks. Ninomiya of course believed in him and we see him being used to do errands and chores although in his eyes this is the ‘training’. Yeah, child exploitation. Then one day this ‘dojo’ was put up for sale and his ‘master’ vanished. He wonders where he is now and hopes to thank him one day. Akomi is lost for words. When a nearby robbery occurs, Ninomiya uses his special technique to beat down that guy! OMG! It is such a powerful move! Well, all those training did come in handy after all.

Episode 6
A big issue for Earth Deliberation Meeting this time. What the heck is TPP issue? Man, this is going to be difficult. It seems Ninomiya is trying to make a sentence from this abbreviation. For instance, Takahashi was to buy Papayas but bought Panties instead. Then it becomes some sort of TPP story while other TPP abbreviations are rejected. Takahashi at Pudding and Partied all night. Takahashi brought Ponzu sauce to Pakistan. Takahashi becomes a Pizza maker in Paraguay. Takahashi Ponpoko Punch. Takahashi meets Princess in Paris. Everyone is so intrigued to know what is happening to Takahashi after coming this far. What will happen to him? The final verdict: Takahashi became a Paladin in Paraguay. Everyone is so happy for Takahashi. Who the f*ck is Takahashi???!!!

Episode 7
Ninomiya’s grandma is dying and he needs to travel to see her for one last time. Of course Akomi wants him to go to her but fears like the last time he will get lost alone at a train station for a week! Even so, he must go. Akomi is kind enough to follow him. So they begin their journey from taking train, plane, bus and ship. Then they trek through the forests and rivers before hiking up the mountains riding bears! Man, where does grandma live? I’m glad Akomi weathered through all that and is still alive. Grandma is moments away from passing on and her last wish is to see her grandson. Ninomiya pops up in time and hopes she would get better. A sudden miracle happens. She is brought back to life and active as ever as she welcomes him and spoils him with lots of treats. Wow. She is so much better already. Akomi’s conclusion: Hot guys are amazing! Yeah, believe it!

Episode 8
Wow. Another deep discussion from the Earth Deliberation Meeting. What is the issue this time? Deforestation. The world’s forests are simply getting destroyed. Any solutions? Stop destroying the forests! Brilliant! Case solved! Next issue. Ozone layer. The ozone is getting destroyed. Solutions? Stop destroying it! Wonderful! Case solved! Next issue. Noise pollution. How to stop it? Stop making noises? Nope. That wouldn’t simply work. It is suggested to put earplugs. But they can’t hear a thing. Try putting it on your nose? Hmm… Not only they can hear now, they can block pollens! Alright! It is settled! Who’d knew that solutions to such jarring problems are so simple and easy!

When Stupidity Shines The Brightest
Wow. I didn’t realize I would find myself to enjoy such a short series. Before I knew it and was just warming up to the episode, it has already ended! Oh no! Need more of Ninomiya’s stupidity! Please don’t end it right here! Please turn it into a full length anime series with proper number of episodes per season! Am I affected and addicted by his stupidity? Since this series made me laugh, it can’t be all that bad, right? Well, I suppose the reason why it is short and won’t be getting any more longer episodes (for now) is so that we won’t turn into stupid idiots like him. Yeah, we don’t want to take the risk of infecting and turning people stupid. Sighs… I guess these will do.

The entire series is divided into Ninomiya’s time between Akomi and his Earth Deliberation Meeting. As we peek into the minds of the dumb people, it becomes more evident how stupid they are. However they are just so stupid in everything that we cannot find ourselves to hate them! In fact, we love them even more! Don’t you agree?! Isn’t it any wonder that Akomi for absurd reasons become this idiot’s boyfriend? I don’t even know how but I am sure it is of the silliest reasons. I know one of them is his amazing handsome face but if it is in today’s world, he would have been immediately dumped. Because I mean, he is not rich, right? So can you say that their dumb love is keeping their relationship alive? If that is the case, I also want to have such beautiful silly relationship!

Earth Deliberation Meeting in my opinion is by far the most effective Earth preservation group and meeting ever in the world! Don’t you agree? They are better than high profile international meets that gather and just talk about the climate and do nothing. G7, G15 or G100 whatever. They are nothing compared to these blokes. Oh, they are no different than them you say? Well, true. Even if their solutions are freaking simple and silly, hey, at least they came up with a solution, right?! Whether the world’s problem is solved or not is not of their concern! I want to join this meeting! Where can I sign up! I have lots of ideas that I can contribute.

Characters wise, like I said Ninomiya is the lovable idiot who gets away with everything or hides everything just because of his good looks. Can you really blame him because all of us are just being suckers for a pretty face? Isn’t that why the most charismatic and beautiful people are always at the top? Sort of. As for Akomi, there is this temptation at first to be her mother and tell her to switch boyfriend. But if you think about how ‘safe’ she would be under him, I think it is best she remains. Yes, he is a much safer bet out there than other guys. Too bad the other guys in Earth Deliberation Meeting don’t bring much variety to the ‘stupidity’ except for Kurosaki whose role seems to always get his ideas shot down and then falling into depression. I wonder if it is a sign for stupidity because notice how the guys have very funny first names…

Making this series even funnier is the opening and ending theme. Well, it isn’t really a proper one as they are both Baroque-like instrumentals. But what I like most about them is that amidst the beautifully passionate and wild piano pounding and finger drills, we hear Ninomiya humming away to the tune “La la la la la la~”. OMG! It is so freaking hilarious! It is like he is trying to sound like a maestro but he fails so badly that it sounds so funny! You know, when you want to hum to the song in the shower and you do so with all your passion? Yup, that’s the way. Even the ending theme trolls us by putting ‘lyrics’ on screen which is just basically gibberish like “Chachachachadadum” or “Dum Dananana” or “Hmmmhmhmhm”. So f*cking epic!

Overall, this is a highly entertaining short series that pokes fun at stupidity and then it makes you reflect how the real world isn’t any much different. There are lots of sayings being attributed to this. You know, how life is already tough but it is tougher if you are stupid. Not in the case of this anime! So I hope that this season is just testing the market to gauge how many ‘stupid’ people like this series and once enough fans love this series for all the silly reasons, they can go ahead and make a proper anime series out of it. What a perfect way to run away from life’s reality and your own stupidity by watching others. I guess it is true, you can’t cure stupidity anyhow. If you can’t beat them, join them?

If human had shoes that could fly, imagine the endless possibilities and experiences that we would be having right now. Lots of fun. Lots of excitement. Lots of accidents. Lots of mishaps. Lots of fatalities… Yeah… If we humans can’t even properly drive on the road without being huge idiots, what more flying? Anyway we aren’t here to talk about the bad stuffs on what if humans could fly. And if Nike ever made shoes that could really fly, they would of course have made a sport out of it. Too bad you won’t find Nike sponsoring such shoes in Ao No Kanata No Four Rhythm. This series is basically a sports genre with sci-fi elements in it. You put on your shoes that allow you to fly and go play some air game which is what this series revolves around. And of course being a sports genre, you would have expected one of the two: 1) A newcomer into the sport who impresses everyone with her exceptional talents in the sport despite playing for the first time with no prior experience; 2) The tale of the underdog team who will rise up against favourite teams and beat the odds. This series has both. That being said, we all know how the plot will progress, right?

Episode 1
Masaya Hinata helps new transfer student Asuka Kurashina to find her lost house keys. Ditzy girl has been complaining so loud about it of course anybody would stop to help. After finding it, Asuka is surprised to see Misaki Tobisawa flying by. She is Masaya’s friend and classmate at Kunahama Institute. They have to rush to school or else they will feel the embarrassing wrath of their strict homeroom teacher, Aoi Kagami. It is cool that they could fly to school but why the heck do they have to run up the slope into school?! Can’t they just fly in?! Who made this stupid rule?! Anyway they made it in time. As expected, Asuka ends up in the same class as Masaya and Misaki. Since she is annoyingly friendly with them, Kagami makes them her instructor. Misaki acts differently like as though she has a split personality. As explained by fellow classmate, Madoka Aoyagi, due to her low blood pressure, she acts different in the mornings and afternoons. Completing the group is Mashiro Arisaka. Self-proclaimed slave and yuri lover wannabe for Misaki. Read: Another b*tch character. As a newbie, they teach Asuka how to fly with the Grav-Shoes. Of course as a noob she fails badly that it is pathetic. That is why she pleads for Masaya to be stricter and use Spartan techniques. Sure she can handle it? I know it is to help her learn faster but doesn’t that make her sound like a masochist? After a hard day of training, she returns to her room. Masaya didn’t think he got a new neighbour. Oh, it’s Asuka. And she is just changing in her undies! Cue for scream…

Another day of pathetic training… How long will it take before she can decently fly? On the way back, she sees Madoka’s brother, Shion being defeated by Reiko Satouin in a Flying Circus (FC) (some sort of flying sport which is the theme of this series). Asuka misinterprets their school name will be changed so she confronts her to challenge her in FC. Oh, did you know that Takafuji Academy that Reiko is from is the powerhouse of FC? Yet, Asuka is being honest with her noob skills that you wonder if she is making an insult or can be taken seriously. And so for the sake of us viewers too, Asuka is explained how the game works. Within a ring, you either touch your opponent’s back or touch buoys in order to score points. The one scoring the most points in the allotted time wins. Simple, right? Reiko sets a handicap for her and even shortens the game play. Of course as it starts, Asuka can’t even move and it’s like she’s making a fool out of herself while Reiko zooms past her competitor and scoring points with ease. Masaya takes over Misaki as Second (ground coach) and relays instructions on what to do. It looked like it worked but Reiko is a veteran and dodges it. Just when everything seems to just fail for Asuka, she remembers something of her past then she powers up like as though she activated her hidden talent to score a point by touching Reiko’s back with an air kick turn.

Episode 2
Based on the handicap rules, it is Asuka’s win since she was able to get a point. Everyone is amazed at her skill because an air kick turn is very hard to pull off. Before Shion starts getting emotional about their victory, better run away while you can. News about Asuka’s win spread like wildfire and even though it was just an unofficial match, it is still like David beating Goliath. Madoka is so impressed as she tries to scout Asuka, Misaki and Mashiro to join her FC club that only she and Shion are part of. Asuka eagerly joins because of the free drinks? Misaki joins perhaps to rekindle her love for the sport she retired from. Mashiro? Wherever Misaki goes, she goes. So the clubroom is some dirty abandoned bus? Since Asuka has joined the club, Masaya doesn’t have to be her instructor anymore. But why the sad face? Deja vu again when Masaya returns home and sees Asuka changing. Cue for screaming. Doesn’t she know how to use curtains? The newbies train on their first day but since they tire out easily, it is suggested they get some competitive gear. Madoka as the manager takes them to a store to shop for their gear. I wonder how this little shop assistant girl, Minamo is going to sell the products when she is so shy and hiding behind mannequins while explaining things. Eventually they get the gears they want. Next day, Misaki wants a duel with Asuka because she and everybody else want to see her air kick turn again. Shion becomes Misaki’s Second and since Masaya was passing by, Kagami makes him Asuka’s coach. The match starts as Misaki furiously racks up the points and Asuka displaying her usual klutz. When it is time for her to do the air turn kick, seems she falters. This has others think it was just beginner’s luck. Misaki continues to add up to her points tally by repetitively touching Asuka’s back. By the time Asuka is able to get all that motivation to fight back and get a point, time is over. Misaki wins 9-0. Asuka is of course sad about her loss and wants Masaya to stay as her Second. Okay. At least till the summer tournament. Kagami then calls the Takafuji side that since they have enough members now, she would love to hold a joint training camp.

Episode 3
We skip the training of the joint camp so we can have some bathing fanservice! Oh yeah. Why waste time? Misaki becomes the first victim of Reiko’s back washing. We’ll leave it up to your imagine how she got screwed. Masaya meets Takafuji’s captain, Kazunari Shindou. He mentions about his dream of playing a certain someone he idolized in FC but that person faded away from the spotlight. He requests Masaya for a match but is turned down because he doesn’t play FC anymore. Shindou wonders why he came back to the sport again. Is it because of Asuka’s air turn kick? On the last day of the camp, we have practice matches for the representatives. Asuka goes up against Rika Ichinose. Shindou is a bit disappointed because he wanted to face Asuka and see her air turn kick. Despite Asuka improved a lot, she still has a lot more for improvement as Rika gives her the run around with her yoyo and zigzag tactics. When Rika is going to touch Asuka’s back, Asuka does her amazing air kick turn to touch hers. It was a good game despite Asuka lost 1-6. Next match is Mashiro against Reiko. Mashiro is already so scared shivering in her pants facing her that the producers didn’t even bother to show her match! Really. You want to watch how she lost 0-20!!! Finally it is Misaki up against Shindou. As expected, Shindou is freaking fast like Sonic. He is not the reigning world champion for nothing. He could have continued to use his speed to rack up points but I guess he got a little bored and tries to provoke Misaki. Masaya knows this tactic to rouse her up and not be baited to fall for it. But it is kinda hard when you have a guy who is as cocky. Masaya even had to cut her an udon buffet deal just so that she could listen to his instructions of focusing on defence instead of attacking. The rest of the match descends into one big game of tag with Misaki being able to keep up with Shindou. All that paid off when Misaki is able to touch his back once although in the end Shindou wins 4-1. If you’re wondering why Shion didn’t participate when he was supposed to, he was floored by stomach ache. Ate too much during the camp, didn’t he?

Episode 4
How the f*ck can Mashiro concentrate on he studies for the make-up test when fellow classmate Minori Hosaka is giving commentary all the way!!! In exchange for her aid to help her study. Minori gets to interview the FC club. Man, this woman never stops talking!!! With Asuka and Misaki improving a lot, this makes Mashiro worry that she will be left behind. Can she imagine a life without Misaki? No way!!! So desperate she is that she tries to practice alone one night but bumps into Rika and accidentally challenges her to a match. After hearing her out, Rika agrees to train her the basics. Mashiro diligently studies under her. In exchange for her kindness, she gets free udon meals from Mashiro’s parents who run such store. Heck, even mom wants Rika to be her daughter!!! Mashiro’s skills improved and though they are just the basics, tournament matches are another story. At the end of their unofficial training, they form a friendship as well as some sort of alliance. When Mashiro enters a practice match with Asuka, everyone is stunned to see how vastly she has improved. Even more surprising is how Mashiro has decided to go with the speeder style instead of the fighter style she wanted. Asuka continues to be a klutz and even gets distracted by Mashiro’s bluff. Needless to say, the latter won 4-0. At night when Asuka is about the fly home, she is startled by a message from her mom that she drops her handphone. Luckily a girl, Saki Inui was fast enough to swoop down and save it. Asuka is glad there are such nice people on this island. That monotonous cold face is friendly?

Episode 5
The summer tournament is here. Asuka and Shion are so excited that they act like monkeys. Public nuisance? While looking at the board for their match line-ups, Mashiro meets her childhood friend-cum-rival, Arika Okoza from Shitou Suisan. Her senior, Mayu Ganeko ‘punishes’ her for her lack of etiquette before others by getting yuri with each other. As expected, Minori becomes the commentator for the entire event. She’s got lots of energy in her mouth… You can’t blame Mashiro for being nervous because her fist round opponent is Reiko! Remember the last time, right? It is time to see whether her training pays off. Mashiro makes a good start, surprising Reiko. But as the game progresses, Reiko makes a comeback and wins 7-2. Despite the loss, everyone is proud of Mashiro’s improved skill. Next is Misaki against Rika. I’m sure Mashiro is torn to support which but she’ll support both anyway. Misaki wins 5-1. For the first time we get to see Shion in action. He takes on Saki from Kairyo Academy. Masaya cautions him as he has no data on her. He learns from Saki’s Second, Irina Avalon about Saki playing FC in England where FC was conceived. That must say a lot, right? Good or bad thing, we won’t see the full match because we already know Shion would lose right from the start when Saki zooms faster than him. In fact, he lost 1-22!!! I know he wants to forget that… Masaya notices Saki’s different Grav-Shoes. Irina says they are Avalon Grav-Shoes and her father makes them. It is now Asuka’s turn against Arika. The latter makes a good start at first and as expected, you’ll know Asuka will pull off something, right? She shocks everybody by doing an air kick turn while in tailspin. That turned the tables as Asuka goes on to win by a narrow margin 4-3.

Episode 6
Asuka is just fresh from defeating her second round opponent who looks like a typical anime witch character that we couldn’t care less about. The main highlight of the second round matches is Misaki versus Shindou. Misaki is expecting a good dogfight with him but Shindou zooms past her to rake in the points. Misaki puts her trust in Masaya to give her instructions to counter Shindou’s speed. It did pay off with her stealing a point but Shindou just uses it as acceleration and boost to grab his next point. When Misaki uses her air kick turn to touch his back, she becomes very much motivated to win this but time is over. Aww, shucks. Shindou wins 5-3. We skip all other matches to go to the third round because this is where Asuka will face off with Shindou. As usual, Shindou starts off good and fast. Asuka keeps a close tab in tailing him. Shindou pulls off super pro tactics like cobra and suicide to stun everybody and increase his points tally. When Asuka pulls off her signature air kick turn, Shindou uses that with a vertical air kick turn. But the most surprising move came when Asuka did her air kick turn again to score a point. And then again. And again. AND AGAIN!!! OMG! Five consecutive air kick turns to even the score with Shindou???!!! This makes Shindou who is already so freaking serious to be even more freaking serious. What’s the difference? You see his ‘mad’ face. Because he always fights in a cool and composed manner, having him fight this way means the opponent has pushed him to the ropes. A couple of beat downs till Shindou wins it 6-4. And that completes Kunahama’s wipe out from the tournament. Everyone is ecstatic with such enjoyable game play except for Misaki who has been in shock ever since. Shindou never go all out against her because she wasn’t that good?

Episode 7
We see Saki brushing off Mayu to enter the finals to face off with Shindou. In the mean time, Asuka has got lots of fans hogging around her thanks to her air kick turn move… Back to the match, both are equally matched when it slowly starts to become obvious that Shindou is having a hard time. Then it dawned to everyone else that Saki’s purpose is not to score points but to dominate over her opponent. Yup, Shindou’s mad face coming up so early in the match proves it so. Whatever tricks Shindou pulls off, Saki will always be faster and a step ahead. Game is set in Saki’s favour 3-2. This shock win leaves Misaki shock as well because she was brushing off her defeat and putting all her hopes in supporting Shindou as the best player, only to come to crashing into a brick wall. Even more shocking, Misaki sees Asuka beaming with smiles as the latter has enjoyed watching the match. Because of this, Misaki falls into depression and doesn’t take part in her club’s BBQ party in which Shion announces his captaincy over to Madoka (since she volunteered). We see Irina confronting Kagami about their ‘beautiful’ dominating play called birdcage. Apparently it was a move that Kagami once used too when she was an FC player but ‘sealed’ it to avoid the game from killing itself. More gloominess for Misaki as she goes out to town alone. She hears news of Shindou’s shock loss to a newcomer which could tarnish his reputation. When she bumps into him, he looks fine but with a tad of sadness although it is no big deal. What Shindou was afraid of is the fear of losing something he enjoyed, that was why he was desperate in the finals. That match made him realize FC is a sport in which any play style could stop being effective at any moment. If the fun in FC stops, he’ll quit. This pep talk leaves Misaki even gloomier. Yeah, she carries it over to the new term where our Kunahama FC club members are in for the first shock of the term: Misaki tenders her resignation letter.

Episode 8
The girls confront Misaki but she is fooling around not giving any real answers. After class, they try to trap her in but she is fast enough to give them the slip! It is over when she puts on her Grav-Shoes. Asuka manages to catch up. So what is Misaki’s excuse? She can’t fly anymore. As the club members discuss about this, Masaya just says to leave her alone and not put pressure. One evening when Misaki is hanging out in town, she bumps into Masaya who tells her he knows how he feels because he once ran away from FC. He was once a talented player and was even selected for the Nationals. Of course that heavy responsible made him fear losing as he was afraid to lose the fun he had. Around that time, a beginner challenged him to a match. Masaya lost and he quit FC altogether. It was just an excuse to distance himself from FC. But after that he learnt that running far away isn’t easy. I think Irina wants to show who is superior so she lands her helicopter in Kunahama to request for a practice match. Kagami turns her down in view of how sudden everything is. But with Asuka being an eager beaver to face Saki, she jumps at the chance. Right off from the start, Saki begins her birdcage manoeuvre. No matter what tactics Masaya and Asuka employ, Saki is always there to counter it. Saki is so perfect in all her counters that everyone noticed they send Asuka flying off at the exact angles! At this rate Asuka will only be tiring herself out. Asuka tries to shake Saki off but the latter is sticking as close as a leech. Asuka tries to do her air kick turn at this proximity in hopes of surprising her. Surprised, she dodges it and even counters her attack. Asuka tries another one but her Grav-Shoes gave way as she free falls into the sea. Misaki rescues her and we can tell that Asuka is shaken in more than one ways.

Episode 9
Asuka seems pretty fine. She is humming the tune of her old favourite mecha anime, Zephyrion! Even in school she is quite chirpy. Or is it? But something feels off because when Asuka practises FC, it is like she forgot all her basics and is even a beginner in flying! Asuka remembers when she was young, she met a young boy and often played with him. They became good friends. He introduced her to Zephyrion. But of course one day he had to leave and so he gave her his mecha figure. Misaki talks to Asuka. The latter feels scared about confronting her weakness ever since the match with Saki. Madoka gets a shock when she receives a letter from Asuka that she is taking leave from the club. At least she isn’t quitting. It gets ominous when she doesn’t respond her messages and her mom called that she isn’t home yet. Dark rainy day. Asuka wandering around. How ominous is that? Misaki picks her up and lets her stay in her place. Since Mashiro is pretty annoying trying to flirt with Misaki (especially her deluded yuri fantasies), she kicks her out. They go through Misaki’s photo album. Asuka notes a cute little boy. Nope. That is Misaki. Such tomboy… Misaki comes clean on why she left the club. Her insecurities when she lost to Shindou made her think she didn’t go all out on him. And when Shindou went serious with Asuka and lost to Saki, it got to her. It made her feel pathetic. Next day as they head to school, Asuka requests a match with Misaki. Madoka is surprised that her leave absence is only for a day. You expecting it to be longer? Both girls take their battle to the skies and rekindle that awesome and fun feeling they had in the sport. Misaki comes to terms that she was running away because she was afraid to lose something she found herself so dedicated to. She is still scared, though. As for Asuka, she always believed the answers will be in the sky. With that, Misaki rejoins the club. The girls discuss this Zephyrion thing and Asuka tries to describe that young boy. Like a female version of Masaya? Misaki too remembers something similar that she once played FC with that kid but since it was so long ago, they brush it off.

Episode 10
Irina and Saki were captivated when they saw Kagami’s dazzling light. Ever since they have been trying to perfect and surpass it. Masaya has the girls in various stamina training. But even with these regimens, he knows it will not be enough to overcome birdcage. Misaki does the impossible by waking up early before the alarm clock to head for practice. But Asuka is earlier and already practising. The girls also try calibrating their Grav-Shoes but it needs some getting used to. Asuka has called Reiko and Rika to help. Fishing boat arrival + maniacal laughter = WTF?! Reiko gets the wrong idea she is here to challenge her for a rematch before the autumn tournament. The practice match goes well with Asuka levelling up a lot and Reiko doing the same to avenge Shindou’s honour. After practice, Asuka bumps into Saki at an alley playing with a stray kitten. When she tries to talk about FC and do their best for the next tournament, Saki cuts her off that their FC is nothing like theirs. Arrogance, right? Meanwhile Misaki sees Shindou to seek his help to train her on how to enjoy while being in the state of fear. Psychological training? In another practice match, everyone is stunned when Masaya personally enters the fray to teach the girls all that he’s got from his past experience. After all these years, he still hasn’t lost touch. This even motivated Kagami to join in. Yeah, all the experienced masters are pitching in to help our youngsters level up.

Episode 11
The autumn tournament is here and you bet Irina and Saki are going to show the world their beautiful and superior play by winning 2 tournaments in a row. We’ll see about that. We skip first round matches because there isn’t anybody worthy to watch so in the second round, Mashiro takes on Rika in a closely contested match that has Mashiro narrowly beating Rika 4-3. Although it is sad she lost in the next round. Too bad Reiko couldn’t get her revenge and lost to Saki. By now Irina and Saki must be the most hated duo ever in the series because at the end of the day, they rub it in by telling how everyone is exhausted but not Saki who didn’t even have to work a sweat. Otherwise Saki will not be able to show the world a perfect victory. Even before the next match in which Saki is supposed to face Misaki, Irina cockily tells them off how they will be silenced once the match begins. The gang knows better than to give in to her provocations and use it as motivation to spur them on. It is better than Mashiro dressing up like a fan idol to cheer for Misaki… Asuka beats Mayu in the semi-finals 6-2. Misaki and Saki’s match begins and right from the start it is obvious Saki is going to do her birdcage move. Misaki isn’t cowed and tries various ways to get into a dogfight with her. She even tries flying upside down to protect her back despite flying this way is difficult. When Saki has a moment of hesitation, Misaki uses her cobra move to spring an attack and touch Saki’s back. A point earned. No more perfect victory. Irina is irked at this unsightly play. When Misaki challenges her that she has given everything she’s got, Saki could feel some passionate burning within her heart. She feels she wants to beat her. Thus Saki apologizes she can’t play along with Irina’s plans. Saki moves on her own and is quite a good dogfighter. She makes a comeback to defeat Misaki narrowly 3-2. Though Misaki is sad that she couldn’t best Saki, it isn’t as bitter as what Irina is feeling because it is the ugliest victory she has ever seen. So a victory is not a victory for her?

Episode 12
Before the finals begin, Irina warns Saki to fly with grace and silence her opponent. No buts about it. As expected, Saki isn’t being friendly with Asuka who hopes to have a good game with her. Asuka for once dominates when the match begins. She takes the lead until Irina tells Saki to turn off the balancer of her Grav-Shoes. In short, it is a good and bad thing but it brings out its utmost potential. Saki is able to catch up and tie the points with Asuka. Then there is some sort of aerial beat down on Asuka. It could have been endless had not regulation time ended. Saki’s powerful stunning display has silenced the crowd and this is perhaps what Irina wants. As the match ends in a tie, there will be an extra time after a 10 minutes break. Everyone is worried that Asuka has no more stamina after that beat down but surprisingly Asuka finds this match fun (I hope she isn’t a masochist) and wants to keep flying with her. She requests her balancer to be taken off too. Irina brags to Kagami about their perfect and beautiful symphony that silenced the crowd. Kagami replies that is just fear. Because it would be meaningless if the game doesn’t live up to its circus name of entertaining the crowd. As extra time begins, Asuka quickly crashes into the sea. But that is just a prelude so that she could power up and fly with Saki without balancers. Asuka’s power up stuns the crowd to new heights as she regains her points lead. When the girls face off again, Saki has this burning passion in her heart like the last time. For the first time, we see Saki smile! Yup, she’s going to have a blast with Asuka. Now Irina is the only one being a b*tch herself. Saki goes on the offensive to level the points again. They start chasing each other until they become… A giant ball of glowing light?! But it is so beautiful that even Irina succumbs to admit how beautiful it is. Extra time has ended and the match goes into sudden death. Whoever scores the next point first wins. When it seems Asuka’s Grav-Shoes gave way and Saki going to tag her back, with the power of her will (and main character BS), Asuka powers back up and turns fast enough (like as though time has stopped) to touch Saki’s back and win it. The first person to rush to hug the new champion is Misaki. To show that Irina still has a heart, she apologizes to Kagami of her wrong ways. She did it because she wanted Kagami’s approval. Well, damn. Now we can’t hate her entirely ;p. Kagami also admitted she did make some mistakes but now she knows she played an important role in the evolution of FC. End clips show nothing much except everyone going about in their daily lives. Saki has become friends with Asuka and co. Oh, Shion is having it tough with his college entrance exams… Ganbatte, ne!

Flying Dogfight
Time to stop flying in the clouds and put our feet back on the ground. Well, that was fun, right? But it also ended in an expected way as Asuka predictably won the tournament because she is the main character and it will justify and avenge all the other characters who lost to Saki. To put icing on the cake, Irina and Saki have learnt their lesson and drop their snobbish b*tch tag. All is well, ends well. Win-win situation for everybody. Nobody goes home broken hearted and everybody is as happy as they are together. What a perfect world. Till the next big game comes up. Winter tournament anybody?

The game of FC can be summed up as a big game of air checkpoint with air tag and air point guard. Probably I wasn’t paying attention because I believe that the finer points to playing FC aren’t explained quite clearly. I understood the game mainly because of my observations so I believe the game is played that way. For example, I kept wondering why somebody has to play the point guard after the first buoy is touched instead of just continue to race for the next buoy. Then I noticed it could be part of the rules that after the fastest player touches the first buoy, the slower player will then become the point guard and try to stop the other. And you can’t go to the next buoy until both players cross each other. I may be wrong but this is what I observed so far in every match. Plus, I was too lazy to do my own research since I’m not that crazy into the game after all ;p. I think such rules keep the game fresh and exciting because if everyone were to start racing, there would be no dogfights thus no fancy acrobatic flight manoeuvres to drum up the dramatic effects. Besides if racing to the next buoy is all it takes to get points, the fastest player would definitely leave the slower one eating his/her dust. Or air trails in this case.

Thus FC isn’t a game that captivated my heart even till the end of the series. Sure, it is a game that could only possibly exist in fantasy. I mean, ever tried playing real Quidditch in real life? Looks so lame, right? Hah. I’m not a Quidditch fan anyway… Anyhow, one reason being that I don’t fully understand the game rules and to me it seemed like a couple of players having an aerial dogfight as themselves and without planes. I am sure they did their best in producing the best angles and scopes of the flight action but unfortunately I wasn’t really charmed even when purely watching the spectacle. Although entertaining, it isn’t something that took my breath away.

Character development isn’t too deep with many of the ‘action’ taking place within the game especially in the later parts of the series. We have the main characters and their set of little problems but that is clearly overcome. Like Asuka being a klutz in real life and FC would become a rising talent in the game in no time. It is like she is able to grasp the concepts after playing or watching once. Why do retards usually have such great talent in such shows? Then there is Masaya as the ex-experienced player who left the game but came back to just to help out a new talent develop so that he too can move forward and not run away from his sorry past anymore. One would wonder who that small boy was in Asuka and Misaki’s past. He looks like Masaya but my guts tell me he is not. And since Masaya was also once beaten by a kid who could probably be that same boy, it all adds up to the mystery that no one really cares about in the end.

We get the most drama out of Misaki when she has some sort of pride problem as she is unable to accept that she wasn’t up to standard because if she lost to whom she believes is the best and that best lost to another, it really takes a beating to her pride and it lets her know where she stands in FC. I believe Misaki has a ‘split personality’ depending on the time of the day but you’ll probably forget about it since it isn’t something as clear as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Not forgetting Mashiro who continues to yearn for Misaki’s love. But I feel ever since she made friends with Rika, she isn’t that obsessed with Misaki. You know, to the point where Misaki is like her personal property and nobody else could touch her. Because when Misaki temporarily left the club, why didn’t Mashiro follow? I thought she goes wherever Misaki goes. Instead, Mashiro continues being in the club like the independent girl she is instead of bugging her lover (at least in her head).

As for the other side characters, they don’t stand out as much. Like Irina and Saki are there as the series ‘antagonist’ so that we could have somebody to despise and give the series a much needed drama and push for our heroines to do better. Imagine if everyone had the same sportsmanship in FC and played the game well without any incidents. That would be so boring, wouldn’t it? So we see the daring exploits of turning off their balancers and giving FC a fresh breath of excitement in which FC experts call it another revolution to the game. So the duo aren’t entirely that bad and played a vital role in the next step of FC. Like any other high school sports club, there is a need for a manager and that is what basically Madoka’s role is. Otherwise her character would have been quite redundant. At least Shion is there because you can tell from the start he is a joker character with a passion for FC. After he hands over the captaincy to his sister, he further becomes more comical because he still hangs around like as though he feels he is needed. Thus, giving Madoka a role in playing the tsukkomi to ensure this idiotic big brother of hers would just stay home and study for his college entrance exams. Oh, did I mention he is a character that is prone to crying? Especially tears of joy… Then you’ve got redundant characters like shy Minamo just to show us that there is somebody else who supports Asuka. It is not like she appears very often either. Minori? People with gift of the gab are natural for commentating roles. Like, do we even pay attention to what she says?

The rest of the side characters are just there to add up for the numbers. Like Mayu and Arika who look like they have potential to have their own storyline seeing Arika is a rival-cum-childhood friend to Mashiro but that is all you need to know about her and what better way to reflect that by limiting their screen time. Same case for Mayu because this onee-sama type seems to be fixated about good etiquettes and manners of how one conduct oneself, which isn’t a bad thing but that is all there is that you would know about her character. And Rika’s role is to be Mashiro’s friend so that Mashiro won’t look like a total b*tch pervert hoarding Misaki all the time. Reiko is just a prideful b*tch while Shindou has fallen from grace as the best. At least they take their loss in better stride than Misaki but Takafuji’s reputation as a powerhouse starts declining ever since. And besides the fact that these characters are to provide roles as opponents in FC for our Kunahama girls. I mean, don’t you feel that despite having numerous FC players from other schools, how come they tend to face off among each other? Yeah. Plot convenience. Better for characters that we know to challenge each other so that there would be more drama effects compared to one we are unfamiliar with and once it is done, they are never heard of again.

Looking at the art and drawing for the first time, it struck me how similar it was the character designs to another anime, Koi To Senkyo To Chocolate. Unsurprisingly as I found out, both series were made by the same game developer, Sprite. I guess it is one of those things whereby you make lots of games and you want your trademark visuals to be consistent in games that you make and therefore the feeling of seeing a particular character somewhere before. Or sometimes you just think the creators got lazy and just copied some character and tweaked a little bit here and there. But let’s not pick a bone with that because overall the visuals are good especially the scenic backgrounds of the island and yes, the sky. As for the FC outfits, it is like a tight body hugging suit fitted with… Sleeve flaps? I don’t know if that really works for aerodynamic purposes.

As for the visual effects during FC battles, the light trail effects seem cool at first but after a while it would seem pretty odd that those lights would ‘stick’ in the air for that scene instead of fading away (for most of the scenes anyway). It feels like those light trails are something solid. What I mean is that the light trails would be permanent in that fight scene until the next change of scene. I suppose this is good so you can see and chart the movements of where the FC players were. Then come the next scene, it is like ‘somebody quickly took a sky board duster (my term for blackboard duster for the sky) to rub them all off before the next scene plays’. Get what I’m saying?

Despite this series was adapted from an adult visual novel game of the same name, there is practically no fanservice at all. If not, a tiny amount so miniscule that you would probably forget as the episodes go by. Because the only most prominent fanservice I could remember is when Masaya accidentally passes by Asuka while she is changing. That only happened twice and in the first 2 episodes. After that, it never happened again or else we would have started to think that this would become the series’ running joke-cum-fanservice. As for the FC outfits, there is nothing sexy about them. If you deem so, probably you do not have enough exposure to what a real fanservice is :-). Or maybe I’ve watched too many fanservice elements and thus my expectations for pantsu shots and boobs shoots have tremendously rocketed sky high as the standard threshold. Yeah…

It is one of those animes where I once again mistake a seiyuu. This is the case for Asuka as I thought she was voiced by Nao Touyama. There were a few instances when I thought she sounded like her but at other points it wasn’t. So I thought it was the case of the seiyuu being flexible with her voice. I was wrong. Asuka is voiced by Misato Fukuen (Eve in Black Cat, Yami in To Love-Ru). Probably it was the way Asuka sounded when she was in lively retard mode that made me thought so. The rest of the other casts are Ryota Ohsaka as Masaya (Marco in Shingeki No Kyojin), Azumi Asakura as Misaki (Asia in High School DxD), Nozomi Yamamoto as Mashiro (Yukimura in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai), Naomi Wakabayashi as Madoka (Kud in Little Busters), Madoka Yonezawa as Rika (Ui in K-ON!), Risa Taneda as Reiko (Yukina in Strike The Blood), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Shindou (Nagare in K: Return Of Kings), Natsumi Takamori as Saki (Subaru in Houkago No Pleiades), Kaori Mizuhashi as Irina (Miyako in Hidamari Sketch series) and Takayuki Kondou as Shion (Ooishi in Prince Of Tennis). If you remember that gay guy and his Yaoi Stick from Koi To Senkyo To Chocolate, it is that same voice again here, Megumi Ogata as Kagami. Only, no Yaoi Stick this time.

The opening theme is Contrail ~Kiseki~ by Mami Kawada. Hearing this anime pop rock brings back memories to my early days in anime when I was watching shows like Onegai Teacher, Onegai Twins and Hayate No Gotoku. As part of the techno-cum-rock music group, I’ve Sound, the similarities and trademarks are still there to bring back the nostalgia. The ending theme is A-gain by Ray. I feel this slow piece is a little weird. I think it is the weird sound effect that makes it like an underwater song. A song that fits a series like Nagi No Asukara. I don’t know. That is how I feel when I first heard the piece. Sometimes it feels soothing and calm but sometimes it just feels weird. Ray also sings the special ending theme for the final episode, Kimi Toita Sora. This one at least sounds better although it is your typical generic anime pop.

Overall, this anime is still decent on many grounds like the visuals and the flight action. I can’t say if it would be any different had the series been extended for another dozen episodes because although there were 2 tournaments featured, it felt like they were the same thing. Many other ‘unimportant’ matches skipped, featured ones shortened and only the main anticipated matches against important characters were given prominence. Usually tournament arcs especially those under the sports genre would have reasonably numerous episodes but this one is all over within two or three episodes. And just like many sport genres, the lesson always learnt is to enjoy the game and play your very best unlike in reality that winning is everything and the only thing. In that case, the answer isn’t always found in the sky. It is always blowin’ in the wind, my friend :-).

Miss Monochrome S2 & S3

August 20, 2016

I wouldn’t have guessed it that Miss Monochrome would get another season. Not one but two seasons this time. I guess a couple of OVAs over the years must be the foreshadowing of things to come. After all, our famous android idol wannabe still hasn’t reached her goal yet in surpassing her idolized idol. Well, we know it is not easy and seeing there are 2 seasons to cover all the adventures for her to stand out more and to stand atop next to Kikuko, the path to become an idol is a long and arduous journey. Even though each episode is only about 8 minutes long but it is at least twice the duration of its first season. Yes, even androids have it tough in the idol world.

Season 2

Episode 1: Reignition
Monochrome is doing well. Well, if you consider living in a one room apartment using newspaper as blankets as good. Hey, at least the weather is perfect. After recharging herself, she thinks of a way to surpass her rival idol, Kikuko to become a super idol. From mannequin acts to part time job at a convenience store, what else is needed? Surprisingly for the first time, Ruu-chan speaks! He says to increase her fan base by going on a tour and make her first album. She goes to talk about this to Maneo and although he knows it is impossible, well, you’ll never know if you don’t try. At least they’ve got optimism. And I think they got this first album thing wrong… Because they compile a photo album of Monochrome’s past acts! And the nationwide tour? On a rickshaw?! Only old ladies seem to be interested in buying the photo albums… But behold! It is sold out! Then it hit Monochrome that tour means a live concert. This means she needs an arsenal of songs. Back to the drawing board.

Episode 2: Promoter
Having the idea of holding a concert is great. But who is going to help promote it? That is why they need a promoter. Herald Mana! She’s back? To help be Monochrome’s promoter? Hey, what about her 19.3 billion debt? Don’t talk about the past! The future is now! So if she gives her 700 million and makes it to a round number of 20 billion, she’s all set. Where are they going to get money for this scam promotion? They can’t lease the convenience shop that’s for sure. If that is the case, Mana will go return to work as Kikuko’s manager. Thanks for nothing. So they go look for a promoter. I think Monochrome has got the wrong idea that a promoter means pro motorist! So here she is at the drifting circuit looking for that promoter! She spots one (since it makes her heart beat) and races with her. We meet this meek girl, Yayoi. Thanks to their drifting race, Monochrome is able to write a new song! Yayoi has experience working in a small recording label but it was never successful. That’s why she takes out her stress via drifting. She is happy to be appointed as Monochrome’s promoter. Timid and clumsy, but when she is behind the wheel, she becomes a foul mouth speed demon! There she goes…

Episode 3: Guitarist
Yayoi is fast. And I mean really fast in getting things done. So when Monochrome mentions the kind of venues she wants to book for her concert, Yayoi is gone and back in the flash and has already sealed the deal for the venue. I didn’t know Monochrome know how to joke because she wanted a big venue that could house 700 million people. Yayoi already got it done and manages to change it to 150,000 small venues. As for the songs that she will be singing… Hmm… How come they are all anime songs that Yui Horie sung? Aha… Monochrome would also love to dabble in different music types like metal, jazz, reggae, rap, opera, etc. Now for her band members. It is suggested they need a good guitarist to draw the crowd. Conveniently, they hear the sounds of a great electric guitar play. At the back of the store, Akiko who is Monochrome’s co-worker is jamming like a pro badass during her break. Guitarist found.

Episode 4: Goods
Monochrome and Akiko are doing well in their practice. Yayoi discusses with the rest the goods they would like to create to sell at the concert. Monochrome sure comes up with lots of weird ideas and you wonder if she is just joking. From a monochrome Rubik’s Cube to dark lights to towels and just about everything. T-shirts, stationery, posters… You name it, everything she wants. But not a guitar pick as suggested by Akiko? After Yayoi gets a move on to start making those goods, Monochrome tells Maneo she also wants an action figure. She believes her fans want them and she’ll be one on her own merits. I don’t know what happened or if Monochrome misinterpreted something because she turned into a bear! For a while, the hunting guys surround the convenience store but we cut all that crap and just jump to the happy conclusion that she is able to become a real one eventually.

Episode 5: Scout
Yayoi has returned with the towel goods. Monochrome likes it a lot and wants to charge a price enough to buy a house! Just kidding. After winning Wooser awards for being the best mannequin, the production meeting begins. They need to find other band members like bassist and drummer and give them some solo time. Akiko shows off her awesome guitar skills. But Monochrome tells everybody that nobody else needs solo time. This is her concert and nobody shall bask in the limelight. A foreigner heard Akiko’s awesome play and wants her to play for him. Shortly, Akiko quits her job, follows him to America and releases a successful guitar album. What have you got to say now Monochrome? With the band members issue still persisting, suddenly Ruu-chan is heard playing music so Monochrome not only makes as her band member but the DJ table and lighting. All in one! But she doesn’t mind giving him solo time? Too bad it was cut short due to time constraints.

Episode 6: Showdown
Despite Ruu-chan can do almost everything and save money, he can’t be a backup dancer. While Monochrome is in her usual mannequin act, the producer introduces them to a group of idol who just made their debut, Caramel. They are roped in to do the mannequin act with her. But when Monochrome hears them wanting to surpass her as their goal, it really irks her. But hearing that she is like the senior to them, she likes the ring to it and would gladly teach them how to be one. And so it goes without saying Monochrome is a natural but the rest can’t hold their positions any longer. Why do they even pick hard poses? But Monochrome tells them not to give up and observe her. Monochrome changes her position but is this allowed during the film? Some scenes do not focus on them so it is their chance to change position as the audience will not notice it. Caramel tries it out and their move changing act felt like one big slow-mo dance. Monochrome feels she wants to become the reason these girls look up to. She will be their Kikuko. They will stand out more. And that is how the backup dancers for the tour were chosen.

Episode 7: Again
Monochrome and Caramel continue their mannequin practice at the park. Then they discuss about changing outfits between songs. Yayoi mentions about a request to work in a programme and it would be good to couple in with their album and concert. Maneo points out that Monochrome has appeared in that wake up surprise before (although that show was put on hold indefinitely) and maybe she can do it again. The surprise wake up crew enters Monochrome’s room. They see the ‘mannequins’ but do not bother. As they try to surprise wake up what they think is Monochrome sleeping underneath the covers, it is actually Ruu-chan. Monochrome and Caramel spring to life. But they are creepy as hell, moving like horror movie ghosts! Crawling on walls too?! How did they do this?! It really scared the hell out of the crew. In the aftermath, Monochrome considers this a great success although that show isn’t broadcasted. Caramel is helping out at the convenience store but this worries Maneo about the labour cost. Don’t worry, Yayoi has already a job request from them after a surprise wake up crew referred them. Turns out to be a wax mannequin haunted house and they are doing their scaring perfectly. They should make this their day job.

Episode 8: Requiem
As Monochrome is about to recharge herself, suddenly an explosion and pops up before her is a handsome, uhm, battery? Shocking? Indeed. Claiming to be her fated friend, he takes her out and recommends several high quality batteries. Then they go adventuring around the world with their power of friendship. Get it? Power of friendship. I guess they went too far and got lost in the desert. There is no convenience store to recharge and Monochrome is fading fast. Battery did the only thing a friend would do. He recharges her at his own expense. Oh, he is non-rechargeable. Shocking, no? His last wish is to be recycled so that one day he could meet her again. He is a battery after all. Shocking, right?

Episode 9: Publicity
Preparations for everything is going well. Monochrome uses her 3D printer to print out the set where she will perform. Wow. A big amusement park. It will cost 150 billion. Yayoi eagerly goes to negotiate but is of course shot down as the production doesn’t have that much money. Using projection mapping, they can do some publicity stunts like photos for the tour items. Nearby, Kikuko’s crew are recording her music video. Monochrome meets her idol for a short while as Mana suggests an image change because Monochrome’s photo shots look bland. And so her image change only involves hairstyle changes from the ludicrous afro and Mohawk to the more typical girl hairstyles. Eventually she settles for a ponytail. Doesn’t look that all different, right?

Episode 10: Seventeen
Monochrome wants to know the difference with Kikuko and so she becomes Sherlock Holmes to deduce that. But first she needs to practice. Yeah, her elaborate scan of a woman can even reveal her back story as a spy and her future getaway! After almost 5000 practices (in which all were successful case solving materials), are we ready for Kikuko? With Maneo, they spy by joining her production crew as Monochrome only stares… Deep stares… Finally it dawned to her that there is only one question that she needs to ask Kikuko. But for that they have to wait in line for her handshake event. A queue so long that it takes more than 53 days for their turn!!! OMFG! So what is the difference? Kikuko responds that she will always be 17 years old! Why? Because her fans want it and so every inch of her body will forever be 17! So motivating that the entire country clap their hands. Now Monochrome vows to share that same dream and will forever be 17. It will be the most important thing ever like a religious doctrine. Hey. I thought androids don’t age… And hasn’t Monochrome been the same since the start of everything?

Episode 11: Innerspace
Monochrome is doing well in her practice. When Yayoi suggests trying another dance, Monochrome downloads it from Ruu-chan. But Yayoi clumsily drops her pencil and when she goes get it, accidentally unplugs the wire. Monochrome is now malfunctioning. Spinning like a DJ? Spinning and throwing Wooser? Spinning plates as a clown? You get it. Spinning is the theme. Ruu-chan then inserts his wire into Yayoi’s mouth to transmit his thoughts (how is this even possible?). The abnormalities occurring in Monochrome’s body will be big trouble if they don’t do something. So they have to go inside of her and repair her. With Yayoi riding Ruu-chan, you know what this means. So they’re shooting bugs like flying through Death Star? Anyway the problem is fixed and Monochrome is back to normal. She thanks her for the good work and Yayoi could feel a deep bond forming between them. Monochrome then reinstalls the programme but history repeats itself. Yayoi drops her pen and as she goes to grab it… Oh no… Not again.

Episode 12: Crisis4696
Preparations for Monochrome’s first album tour, Black Or White is progressing well and on schedule. It is becoming true that Maneo cannot help cry. But Monochrome tells him not to because it is all fated. But is the next thing that comes along fated? Because Yayoi says there is a big problem. She placed orders of several goods that go into tenths and hundreds of millions! They’re overflowing the city! Monochrome did mention to Yayoi about making those extreme numbers but before she could say it was a joke, Yayoi already left and placed the orders. If they cannot pay their dues by the end of the month, the company will go bankrupt and Monochrome will kiss her dream goodbye. Still insisting that she needs to become an idol? It seems the amount owed is 19.3 billion Yen. Hmm… Doesn’t this amount sound familiar? Very familiar indeed… And then Mana pops in because she heard they are in trouble. Aha! So fate does exist.

Episode 13: Monochrome2
In full emotion, Mana claims she is here to repay her debts to her. She will buy all their glow sticks for about 4 billion Yen and then sell them at Kikuko’s concert for 400 billion Yen, making a cool profit of 396 billion Yen! But there is still the 15.3 billion balance. Akiko returns from the midst of her tour to help. She feels indebted to Maneo for giving her the convenience store job and wants to pay back. She will buy all the remaining items like towel, t-shirts and preserved food at 15.3 billion Yen. The recording label now debt free and this must be fate too, huh? You must be wondering how Monochrome’s goods bearing her name will be used by Akiko. She donated them to refugees and thus Monochrome’s name has become celebrated as a great philanthropist. Monochrome hands out tickets for her first concert to many like Kikuko and Mana. A little girl buys her ticket and greatly looks forward to it, making Monochrome happy. And so her destiny to stand out more begins!

Season 3

Episode 1: Diskjockey
Monochrome and her team are on Mt Fuji to pray for their album’s success. She is in deep meditation when she sees a vision. She realizes there is something missing from their line-up. They lack a DJ! Are you serious? I think she isn’t joking. The reason being that in case if she runs out of battery during her concert, a DJ can continue to entertain the crowd while she recharges. Great idea. Why not just ensure a full battery then? Anyway, she has Caramel to spin to see if they have got what it takes. I don’t think a balancing act is what she meant. Heck, even Maneo has a go. I don’t think she is looking for a ballerina. As Yayoi drives them around in search of the elusive DJ, they stop by a patrol station. Monochrome sees the station owner wiping the car windows and likes his circular motion. That’s it. You’re hired, Mr DJ.

Episode 2: Exercise
I guess Monochrome and her team are going to think big now after releasing their album. Go on stock listing and opening more convenience store branches? Aside that, in order to stand out more and surpass Kikuko, Yayoi suggests more visibility. Monochrome then jokes about producing 7 billion samples. One for everybody! Aside the cost, if everybody had one, nobody will be left to buy it. Instead of giving out samples, she decides to hold a concert with her clones. However they notice the kids are more attracted to some silly yakisoba bread skit nearby. I’m sure Monochrome wants to attract children too but remember that demon getup from the first season that scared them away? She better not try that again. Another suggestion to increase her visibility among children is to do exercise. To do that, she needs gymnastics. And so Monochrome enters all gymnastic competitions and won all gold medals! Wow! Yeah, how could you beat a robot anyway? Now the convenience store is hanging all over with her medals! Maneo then made an exercise song of it and it becomes a big hit among the kids.

Episode 3: Mister
One morning, Monochrome gets this curiosity to put the battery in reverse despite knowing well it is not advisable. After all, it is human’s nature to do the opposite. She is not even human… She does so and what happens? She transforms into a guy! OMG! Mister Monochrome! Not only that, his personality is a total opposite as he is shy and wants to remain secluded. But he is a hit among the girls. So shy that he doesn’t want to go on stage and sing but the girls love him even more. Soon his reputation as an idol booms and becomes popular among the girls because they just feel like they want to protect him. But one day he can’t take it anymore and digs a hole so deep that no voice could reach him. I don’t know how the body was found but Miss Monochrome is back and learnt her lesson of never putting the battery backwards again. Meanwhile, her guy counterpart becomes a legend and his fan girls hope one day he will come back so they can protect him.

Episode 4: Appeal
A Star Wars opening narration parody to remind us that long, long ago in a far, far away past, Monochrome made a promise with Kikuko who is now reborn as the top idol. Yayoi wants Monochrome to change into her mascot costume now because they are going to enter a mascot grand prix. However Maneo says the outfit is only half dry. But it would be a waste if they pass up this long awaited chance. Monochrome’s meditation has her come up with a brilliant idea: Create a new mascot out of card boxes. Brilliant… She has Maneo wear and appeal to them this strange card box outfit. He sucks so much that even Monochrome quipped they can’t even appeal to old ladies! Beyond their wildest dreams! Yayoi suggests making the mascot shorter and with a few modifications, well, this one looks slightly better. Monochrome has a staring contest with it. She finds this danboroid perfect. Although they were too late to enter the grand prix, danboroid helps in distribute flyers and is a hit among old people. Yeah…

Episode 5: Girlfriend
Monochrome realizes Kikuko has lots of merchandise. Now she wants to do cross-promotion to stand out more. Maneo returns with news that the gaming company wants Monochrome to write a song to be used in their game. The theme shall be a Christmas one. Leave it to Monochrome logic to travel deep into the forest to find a Christmas tree so she could find inspiration to write one. Then she decides to go to Finland to seek Santa Claus’ advice on Christmas. So this guy doesn’t live in North Pole? He suggests she go to high school like in that game. Monochrome becomes a student and becomes attached with the teacher whom she calls Master Chris. But she had to leave for a journey overseas. Then it hit Monochrome. Master Chris… Master Chris… Christmas… Get it? With this new song, she demonstrates it before the producer. She is impressed and approves this cross-promotion which will be released during Christmas.

Episode 6: Fisherman
In preparation for their live concert, Monochrome and her team are at Okayama. A Caramel member has a friend who could rent a venue for dirt cheap and her relative runs a hotspring inn so they stayed for a bargain. Real cost cutting measures, eh? Caramel soaks in the hotspring and dream of some gay liaisons of Maneo and a male acquaintance! Yikes! Meanwhile Monochrome stumbles upon a man who pops out from a tuna (parody to Momotarou). He is Magurou and cannot stop moving or else he will die. As he needs to keep moving forward, this word clicks with Monochrome so they become best friends and move forward ahead together. But their friendship is short-lived as Magurou wants to head out to sea in his boat and catch tuna. Monochrome cannot follow as the salt in the sea will rust and leak her battery, leading her to be short-circuited. And so they have to part ways while moving forward their own path. Monochrome might not be able to handle salty water but she seems to be doing just find soaking in hotspring water.

Episode 7: Disguise
After the successful concert in Osaka, Monochrome and Maneo go sightseeing. They hail a cab but a limo pulls up. It is Kikuko and Mana! They are here to preview their concert venue at Super Osaka Dome. Monochrome invites Kikuko to go sightseeing with her and since the top idol has never done so due to her busy schedules, she agrees. But she is so famous that she will be recognized instantly. Don’t worry. Monochrome has a solution. Kikuko wears Monochrome’s mascot outfit. Then they hand out flyers to promote Monochrome’s album. Working while sightseeing? They even visit a place called USJ, which is actually Wooser jamming up the entire place. At the end of the day, they had so much fun and Kikuko thanks her. She will be heading off to America for a film next. The moment she takes off her suit, a fan spots her and you know what happens when all her fans come rushing, right? Luckily her jet is here to pick her up. Ah, life of the rich and famous.

Episode 8: Project
On her way home, Monochrome picks up an abandoned kitten. After nursing it back to health, the kitten speaks! She is Catora and to show her appreciation, will bring Monochrome to her world. In this beautiful fantasy world, Catora mentions there is an idol contest where it could help make her stand out more. Hmm… Those other contestants look strangely familiar to Caramel members… It is Monochrome’s turn as she does her impression of a mannequin. Everyone cheers her perfect act of a mannequin! The king announces the contest winner… Ruu-chan! Why?! He is impressed with his vacuum abilities to suck in garbage and trying to make this world a better place. He is so touched that he must win the contest! Catora feels bad for Monochrome but she can try again next time. It is when Monochrome is shocked that the cat is talking! She wakes up back in her home thinking it was just a dream. But isn’t that Ruu-chan with the king’s crown?

Episode 9: Unity
After another successful concert, Monochrome and her team relax. But while they are boating, Monochrome has been spacing out when suddenly she calls for a meeting. First, she reminds them about the tough competition of being idols. Then she points out their faults during the concert which are just minor faults like being off by a few milliseconds, a few millimetres further or even a little weight gain! It is needles to point out that Monochrome and Ruu-chan are perfect… Of course Caramel argues they are humans and tend to make mistakes. However Monochrome reminds them about the aim to be top idols and that they must be perfect and aim higher. This of course sends Caramel into depression but Maneo knows her harsh words are to remind them that people tend to forget their roots after getting popular. He agrees to act out with her. Therefore Monochrome puts on her perfect mannequin act with Maneo praising it. Caramel sees this and realizes Monochrome has been strict for their sake. Instantly they remember their original goal and join the mannequin act with her. They’re going to stand out more this time.

Episode 10: Radio
Another successful concert in Sendai. Monochrome is now wearing an eye-patch because of chuunibyou? The gang are excited for a music programme the very next morning at Tokyo. But it seems they missed the last train. With the programme on the verge of being cancelled if they can’t make it, Monochrome isn’t pushing the panic button yet. They have Ruu-chan to catch the bullet train. But his battery died! So why need to bury him?! Too far as a joke! Monochrome then takes off her eye-patch for her chuunibyou power to summon… Cows? Too bad they can’t grab any of them. Running out of options, Monochrome then makes an unscheduled appearance over a local radio about her plight. A fan listening was kind enough to send them back to Tokyo where they made it in time for the music programme.

Episode 11: A
During an interview, Monochrome’s answers are pretty obvious that the fans actually expected them. Because of that, she falls into depression. Can she? Or is she just waiting for Maneo to ask her so she can tell all about it. Monochrome feels she needs some unpredictability that would surprise her fans. So they discuss some shock factors like turning Ruu-chan into a girl, suddenly inserting a different anime into this series or trolling viewers with a fake Miss Monochrome: The Movie trailer! When Ruu-chan almost falls into the pond, this gives Monochrome an idea. In the next interview, Monochrome mentions a big surprise for her fans. Suddenly the trapdoor opens and everybody drops down! She calls it a great success. The platform soon rises back up and you bet the fans did have the biggest shock of their lives.

Episode 12: Distress
After a successful concert at Sapporo, Monochrome stays back to promote an album. She meets a fan, Umio Kita who praises her for everything. His fiancée, Michiko Hokkai is also a big fan and calls her but her line suddenly cuts dead and she sounded like in distress. Because she is mountain climbing, he panics that she is trapped at the peak. With the bad weather, the rescue team cannot proceed. Umio falls into despair as Monochrome and Ruu-chan take flight to rescue her. Can’t leave a fan dead, right? They find Michiko unconscious and they take shelter in a cave. Michiko comes to and is grateful for the rescue. As she is feeling cold, Monochrome lets her wear her outfit. Monochrome then sings her lullaby to let her sleep. It’s a rock song???!!! Ah well, since she is a fan, it is music to her ears. Monochrome’s rescue efforts make headlines the next day and because of that, her outfit is flying off shelves as the next fashionable clothing.

Episode 13: Monochrome3
Monochrome and Chrome perform in their final venue of their first live tour. Needles to say, a resounding success. At the backstage, a little girl thanks Monochrome for a fun concert. She promises she will come to her concert if she organizes more. Monochrome is happy she made another promise and will keep them no matter what. A party is held to celebrate the success of the first tour. Kikuko and Mana praise and thank Monochrome for inviting them to her lovely concert. They renew their rivalry and Kikuko is confident they can compete as top idols in the near future. Monochrome gives her thanking speech by naming everyone involved. After all, she couldn’t have done it without them all, right? But it is not over because she will stand out even more and sets her sights on bigger targets. Like getting a turnout of 469.6 billion attendees! How many humans does Earth have? Or does the universe have that much aliens? Everyone chants out Monochrome’s name, believing her dream will come true. Well, if you believe in Santa and aliens, why not Monochrome becoming a top idol?

Standing Out To Be Out-Standing
And there you have it. Monochrome making great progress and development in becoming the next top idol that would rival Kikuko herself. But personally something this season feels incomplete because I was hoping there would be some sort of development or showdown between Monochrome and Kikuko. And I mean competing as top idols. After teasing us with their intriguing past in the last season, I was really wishing to see something of that sort happen (helping Monochrome out during her stints doesn’t count) but as it turns out, Monochrome still has a long way to go before the epic final showdown. So more seasons or OVAs in the future? Well, if that is what it takes for her to stand out.

Although this might be trivial, the one thing I couldn’t understand is why this series is split into 2 seasons despite being aired back to back. Unlike some anime series whereby they air the first cour, take a season or two break before airing the second cour after it. The fact that this series restarts its episode numbering in the third season unlike those other animes which continued their episode numbering from where they left off before the break. So I just don’t comprehend why they didn’t treat it like a continuous series with 26 episodes as many if not all of the episodes feel episodic in nature.

With more episodes in store and even the increase in its duration per episode, Monochrome has definitely more time to shine and do her silly attempts to stand out more. Yes, her quest to stand out more has been repeated so often that it is like as though she wants us to remember that fact that she will do so. Uh huh. And it feels they are playing that joke for us to expect all that in one of the episodes. Monochrome is making steady progress in standing out but I have a feeling her standards to reach there is so high that it might take an awful long while.

I know Monochrome has been a funny android since day one. But what I didn’t expect is how her character can actually try to make jokes! The kind of jokes where she makes unrealistic demands of something before Maneo reminding her it is not possible and then she retracts that statement and says it was just joking. With a robotic face. So we aren’t entirely sure if she was just being sarcastic or really pulling a fast one. It was also hilarious to see her misinterpret certain words like tour and album. Such puns also catch us off guard as it is not what we would expect either and the effect is perfectly executed. Ironically as an android who has lived longer than any civilizations, she has yet to understand the human culture and the current era. Yeah, humans are so complicated that even androids can’t comprehend.

Other characters aren’t too shabby like Maneo who will always be supporting and trying his best to provide what Monochrome needs to achieve her goal. Then there is newcomer Yayoi who provides some comic relief as a naïve, gullible and clumsy woman. She literally believes every demand that Monochrome wants and she is so freaking efficient that before Monochrome could cut her off as a joke, she already has them delivered! Maybe it is thanks to her devil driving skills that makes her deliver them fast! With Ruu-chan as the equipment provider and Caramel as her backup singers, all of them don’t particularly, wait for it, stand out because otherwise it would be an insult to Monochrome by stealing the limelight. Yeah. That android will get jealous if you try to stand out more.

This means that also owing to the episodic nature of the series, many characters come and go and appear only for a single episode. Like that male version of Monochrome, that battery dude, the talking cat from the other world and that fisherman guy. But like I have said, this is so that Monochrome can hog the centre stage of each episode and be the star so she can, you’ve guessed it, stand out even more. Even if her tactics look silly and sometimes fail, but in a way it brought about other changes like that refugee thingy and snow mountain rescue attempt. As such it serves to enhance and make popular Monochrome even more. Mana isn’t such a bad girl because after swindling Monochrome of her money in the first season and running off with it, it seems to make our blood boil again when she returns even trying to trick Monochrome to part with her money. Then all is forgiven when she helps out to clear her debt later. I guess you can’t hate everybody eventually in this series.

There have been a few trivia making its appearance here like that Initial D parody whenever Yayoi gets behind the wheel. But more importantly the handful of Wooser cameos in a handful of episodes. As I have watched all 3 seasons of the Wooser series, I now understand a little of their little cross-over. In fact, Wooser too did make his cameo in her first season. After all, both anime series are animated by the same studio, Sanzigen.

The more I hear Yui Horie as Monochrome, the more I am starting to believe that she can actually pull off that cute robotic voice naturally instead of using special effects. And sometimes in my extreme case, I believe that she is actually an android! Okay, I’m just kidding but she is just so convincing in her Monochrome character that by not believing it feels like I’m in denial. Heh… I don’t even know what I’m saying. While the casts from the first season is retained, new ones are of course added. Especially Kana Asumi who is very much recognizable as Yayoi. She displays both her different sides of her voice with the clumsy version and the tough racer chick version. I thought it was going to be different when they decided to give Ruu-chan a voice, especially no other than Hiroshi Kamiya behind it. However his speaking roles are only limited to what I noticed as the first and last episodes of each season and they are just short sentences. In other normal times, he would be beeping as usual. The members of Caramel are voiced by the famous seiyuus themselves and you would have noticed when they are also suspiciously named after them. Like Yui and Kana. You know who they are, right?

Another one of the baffling things why I never understood this series split into 2 seasons instead of listing it as a 26 episode series is the opening and ending themes. At first I thought they were going to use the same opening theme Black Or White all the way since it was still the same opening well past halfway into the third season. Oh, please note that Black Or White isn’t some sort of rip-off or cover of the song with the same name by Michael Jackson. This song is as catchy and retains the trademark of Monochrome’s robotic voice which I believe what makes the song great. Despite the chaotic and crazy euphoric beat of the song, the only ‘downside’ is how the song suddenly comes to an abrupt halt. Like as though they ran out of their allotted time for the opening theme.

I would have preferred they retained this opening theme but with only a quarter of episodes left in the third season, they changed it to Miss Monochrome Taisou. This song might be a slower beat as compared but I didn’t like it very much since it sounds quite weird and feels like a song for kids. Besides, Monochrome and the other characters are doing weird exercise-like dances just makes the entire experience feels odd. The ending themes also follow the same appearance as the opening themes. Step By Step sounds like your typical idol song as well as Kimi To Boku which only makes its debut with only a quarter of episodes in the season left to go. But at least both ending themes don’t sound bad. It goes without saying that since this is Yui Horie’s show, she sings all of them and could even compile an album with songs sung with her robot voice. For the record, in this aspect my favourite one will still always be Coloring from Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai.

Overall, these seasons of Monochrome are still as entertaining and even perfect if you are a huge fan of her or Yui Horie. It goes to show that being an idol is not a bed of roses because even androids have it tough. Or could it be that anybody in this era can be famous so as long as you put your face up in social media and upload videos there. Or post dumb comments… And of course if you really do aspire to be an idol, this series is not meant to be a guide on how to achieve it. In the end it is still hard work, perseverance and effort. Because at the end of the day, these qualities will never betray you. Just remember to set your goals reasonably, okay? Yeah, where the heck are you going to get 469.6 billion fans anyway? Not even Anpanman has such many characters… :-).

Pan De Peace

August 19, 2016

Cute girls with cute… Hmm… We’re running out of ideas as themes to insert in to go by with those cute girls. Come on, think of what else we can use as setting for cute girls doing cute things. What’s that? We can use the bread as the theme? Oh what the heck, let’s just do it. Because it doesn’t matter anyway since the viewers would just view this as another cute girls doing cute things bread version. And that my people, is how the short 3 minute anime series, Pan De Peace came to be. At least that is how I think it is.

Episode 1
It is Minami Tani’s first day at high school. You know it will be a good day when mom makes her favourite egg sandwich with strawberry jam. In class, she doesn’t recognize anybody but she notices Yuu Aizawa having mini bread key chains. Since they both love bread, they become bread buddies. Yuu also introduces Fuyumi Fukagawa who is her childhood friend. To commemorate becoming bread buddies, Fuyumi gives Minami some croissants. Minami is so happy that she wants to date her! Wait a minute. Is this a yuri theme series? While Yuu may look jealous, Fuyumi playfully says her heart already belongs to Yuu. Yup, getting yuri already. Minami happily eats the bread. Then she asks if they could teach her baking. What a happy day indeed.

Episode 2
Petite Noa Sakura is so cute that the other girls are hounding her. The she draws her ‘weapon’. A French bread? Luckily Fuyumi takes her away. Noa must have some sort of chuunibyou because she considers her French bread as a special item with 2 attributes: Weapon and food. Minami wonders if Noa is Fuyumi’s sister. She clarifies she is their classmate and went to the same elementary school together. The girls discuss and notice that each drink different number of glasses of milk a day. Perhaps there is some sort of inverse relationship between boobs and milk. Because Noa has been drinking lots of them and is still as flat but Fuyumi drinks the least and is the bustiest. Then they start imagining Noa with big boobs and find her cute too.

Episode 3
Fuyumi’s family runs a bakery and you bet Minami is darn happy to visit. She gets to taste a few of their specialties like red bean bun, red bean bun with cream and green tea melon bread. Definitely heavenly. Minami reveals she tried baking bread once but she failed miserably and they turned out to be cookies instead. So the girls help and teach Minami how to bake together. Minami shows her gratefulness by hugging Fuyumi and then comparing her body’s softness like a bread. I think it’s a compliment. The rest can tell from her looks that she wants to join their ranks. Hasn’t she already? They welcome her to Pan De Peace.

Episode 4
Minami tells her friends about the fabled bread this school sells, ciabatta. It is only limited in stock so they join the mad crowd in trying to grab the Italian bread. The sight of this madness is enough to turn Yuu off but Minami and Fuyumi won’t give up. They’re not going to settle for other bread as they return joining the ‘fight’. Yuu thinks she’ll just go for the chicken curry bread. At the end of the day, they failed to get the bread. They thought they lost Noa in the crowd but she returns with the fabled ciabata in hand! She got it! Like a true friend, she shares it with everybody.

Episode 5
Yuu draws a lot for her manga. When Fuyumi asks about the man seen hanging out with her, Yuu denies whatsoever he is her boyfriend. He is a relative of hers that introduced her to a manga assistant job. Becoming a manga artist is her dream. Fuyumi will support her all the way even if this means they won’t get to be like this again. Yuu assures they’re only at discussion stage and if she took the job, she’ll be sure to tell. She wants to spend them with them now. The girls try to give funny ideas for her story but it just embarrassed her. Hey, where is my bread focus for this episode? No, the consolation chicken curry bread doesn’t count.

Episode 6
Oh no. Fuyumi has gained weight. And you know what that means. Time to go jogging and lose some of it. Unfortunately not even halfway she tires out. She thought she could have some melon bread as reward but her friends resume their jogging and leave her behind. Next day, the friends decide to help make mini versions of it. They ask how Fuyumi’s store gets its named Fuwa Fuyu. It was definitely named after her as she was born in the winter where the bakery was also opened. Once done, they noticed a bread missing. Could the culprit steal a piece? Well, Fuyumi claims she needs to test taste them. The rest don’t mind since she looks so happy. And her face so fluffy… That didn’t stop her to take another one.

Episode 7
The girls visit Noa who is sick. Fuyumi is crying like as though she is going to die! Serious case! They see her sleeping in a cute cornet sleeping bag. They are treated with great hospitality by Noa’s little sister, Ami. Noa is looking so cute that everyone admires her like an idol. Fuyumi gives her drink some strawberry milk drink. She has also made lots of strawberry based bread for them to share. Noa reacts to all those strawberry goodness like as though it is some sort of magical life potion. I’m sure she is feeling much better and will be able to attend school tomorrow.

Episode 8
Noa patrons a newly opened French bakery store, Guillame. Mai Kawai serves her baguette and since she is new in town, she hopes she could be her friend and in return she can have their freshly baked baguette every day. Wow! So when Noa tells this to her friends, the most worried of the lot is of course Fuyumi. So she is now like her mother asking her not to take food from strangers? Next day when Noa brings Fuyumi to Guillame, the showdown between the French bread girls is inevitable. Fuyumi tells Mai to stop giving bread to Noa. Oh, since when is Noa her property? Mai hugs Noa and asserts she will continue to give her bread to deepen their friendship, much to Fuyumi’s ire. She even teases that since Noa has tasted their French bread, there is no need for Fuyumi to supply her anymore. Next day when Noa visits Guillame as usual, Mai is chirpy giving her extra service to put baguette in her bag. But it is filled with baguettes already. What happened to her textbooks? Fuyumi took it. Damn that girl beat her to it.

Episode 9
The girls are dressed in cat maid outfit for their school’s cultural festival. Mai is here to take cute pictures of Noa. She is spending most of her time talking to Noa and ignoring Yuu who is waiting to take her order. Fuyumi is trying to hold in her rage. Let’s hope she doesn’t lose it till the end of the day. Mai surprisingly orders a croissant and finds it good. She praises them as she finds out they were made from Fuwa Fuyu. The other girls invite Mai to drop by Fuwa Fuyu and they would love to talk to her more, much to Fuyumi’s dismay. That sour look on her face… She no like it…

Episode 10
Fuyumi’s worst fear comes true because Mai really did patron Fuwa Fuyu! But how did she find the place? She tailed Noa like a stalker! Mai lets them taste Guillame’s new addition, cod roe French bread. Fuyumi gives good comments about it and suddenly what do you know? They’re talking like good friends? Fuyumi also lets her taste her red bean bread. Good comments too. But eventually it boils down to the fundamental issue that they should be Noa’s French bread provider. Ah… The girls take a public bath and it is a much needed one for Fuyumi who just ended her ‘psychological battle’. Fuyumi admits Mai is a nice girl and they could be friends as they like the same thing. But when it comes to Noa’s French bread privileges, she is not giving in! Always remember the fundamental issue…

Episode 11
Minami is saying how Yuu and Noa are afraid of the swimming pool because they can’t swim. But Noa thinks as long as she has the ‘invincible’ inner tube, she’ll be alright. It is decided to have them get better than swimming. While Minami coaches Yuu, Fuyumi handles Noa. Mai also can’t swim but didn’t tell them. However the chance to snap pictures of cute Noa learning swimming is too good to pass up. As Mai tries to make her way to Noa, her foot suddenly cramps up. She cries for help and Fuyumi is surprisingly fast (like running in water?) to come to her rescue. She even did that with Noa in hand! After Fuyumi massages her feet and tells her not to do the impossible, Mai starts bursting into tears and crying in her bosom while not admitting she is a cry-baby. Again hey, where is my featured bread for this episode?!

Episode 12
The girls are invited to Mai’s summer villa, though she initially only intended to invite Noa only. They meet Mai’s older sister, Mana as she thinks Fuyumi and Noa are mother and daughter respectively! I think Fuyumi will be taking that as a compliment. So as the girls start having fun on the beach, Ami manages to drop by and joins them. Perhaps it is this load of luggage she is carrying. All of them are camera equipment to capture Noa’s moments! Mana has made some bread for them. She also prepares steak as Minami and Fuyumi dance like idiots, cheering their support for meat. No sexual innuendoes here, please. The pain de campagne steak sandwiches are completed and as expected taste like heaven. Probably Yuu has been embarrassed by the acts of Minami that she lost appetite and don’t want second helpings.

Episode 13
All the girls sleep together except for Mai whose pride probably won’t allow it as she sleeps alone. The rest talk about their bread adventures which are basically a very condensed summary of some the, uhm, important bread incidents in this series. All this bread talking makes them hungry. This is when Mai feels like she wants to join them and the rest gladly accepts her. So the bread pyjamas party carries on with the girls eating bread, talking about bread (yes, the mind boggling statement how bread brings peace), their friendship bonding over bread and at the end of it, take a group photo. Peace out!

Panned In Pieces…
Usually food themed animes are pretty decent in my books but very unfortunately this could be the first series ever that actually disappoints. Sad to say that this series is just mediocre and perhaps way below that. There is nothing here that particularly excites me. Not even the breads that are supposed to be the main attraction of the series. Or so I believe. So technically if I don’t really label this series as a food theme anime, would it be okay then? Either way, this series is still bad and instead of whetting my appetite, I would just spit out the bread and walk out of the store. Call the Michelin star food critiques to close this down forever. The only good thing about this entire series is that it just lasts 3 minutes. Short enough so you won’t be tortured further by it unappealing, uhm, everything.

Like I have said, the breads I believe are supposed to be the star of the series, if not the co-stars alongside the characters. It is just sad that they are relegated to something like a cameo and even with their short appearance in already a very short series, it makes it even worse. That isn’t the bad part of it. You know a food themed anime is going to be good when the food itself looks delicious that it makes you salivate and want to take a chomp out of your monitor. This one doesn’t. It doesn’t even look good to dream. So okay, they look pretty normal but that is about it. It doesn’t make it feel any special. Worst of all, some episodes don’t even feature any bread at all. Again, this might be just me having expectations but then if you are going to have bread as your theme, one doesn’t simply exclude bread from any episodes, right?

Failing as much as the bread or even making it worse because they do nothing in enhancing the bread appeal are the characters themselves. They are just generic and boring that I don’t really want to even say anything else. You know, you have the lively one, the emotionless one, the airhead one and the, uhm, other one? Yeah, you can find usually one or more or even all of those in any cute girls doing cute things group. Even if the last episode is meant to be some sort of fanservice because the girls are in their nightgown pyjamas, it is so boring that you wouldn’t even want to ‘eat’ them. Seriously.

I’ll just mention that Minami looks like your typical plain ‘main character’ but I felt that Fuyumi is the one stealing the limelight because of her very eccentric character and her ‘obsession’ with Noa’s bread meals. It gets heated up when a new rivalry in the form of Mai appears. I guess this is the only ‘funniest’ thing ever happening in the entire series. The most ‘happening’ of everything so far. Noa doesn’t pretty much care about their spat as long as she gets to eat their bread. An absolute win-win situation for her as she gets to taste the best of both worlds. Having side characters like Ami and Mana don’t do any better because heck, the series could have been the same and as boring as ever even if they are nameless background characters.

Art and drawing are pretty generic and standard. Like I have implied, they just don’t stand out. Cute, yes. But to a level that is considered a masterpiece? No. This series was animated by Asahi Production who also did short anime series like Himegoto, Orenchi No Furou Jijou, Million Doll, Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan as well as standard length series such as Futari Wa Pretty Cure and both the Medaka Box seasons.

The voice acting is rather okay and nothing distinctive since all of the seiyuus are relative new and/or unknowns. The small casts include Ibuki Kido as Minami (Chinami in Golden Time), Erii Yamazaki as Yuu (Roboko in Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda), Moe Toyota as Fuyumi (Fumi in Jinsei), Nichika Omori as Noa (Yurika in Rokujouma No Shinryakusha), Madoka Asahina as Mai (Maki in Nurse Witch Komugi R), Natsuko Hara as Ami (Rena in JK Meshi) and Yu Shimamura as Mana (Hare in Guilty Crown). This is one of those few series where Petit Milady doesn’t sing and do voice acting. Here, they only sing the opening theme, Seishun Wa Tabemono Desu. Sounds just decent and generic anime pop idol kind of music but even so this wasn’t really enough to wash the bad taste of this anime. Yeah, I figure they even know how to stay away from something this bad…

Overall, although this is not a very bad anime in general because there are a few funny moments and who wouldn’t love seeing cute girls eat bread in a cute way, this series could almost threaten to break your faith in the anime and bread industry. The kind where if the host offers you seconds, you would say no thank you I am already full although deep inside your heart (or rather your stomach) you would feel like you want to throw up a little. Okay, okay. So I exaggerated a little. But bad enough to have me think that had they put in sleazy fanservice and named it Pantsu De Peace, I would have even bought it no matter how cheap and cliché the echhi parts are. But now the bread here doesn’t make me feel at peace and instead feeling some rage and wanting to go to war. In that case I guess nothing really beats pantsu for peace.

Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi

August 14, 2016

If you were given a chance to revisit your past and change something tragic that happened, how would you go about it? Would you do everything in your power to assure a different outcome since you know what the future holds? This is an interesting premise from Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi. A man now living his boring and struggling adult life having a few regrets from his past that is associated with the death of his classmates. Deaths which he thinks could have been avoided had he done something. When he is suddenly accused of murder, a strange phenomenon that hurls him back to the past gives him a chance to right the wrong things in hopes of changing the future for the better.

Episode 1
Satoru Fujinuma is 29 years old and a struggling manga artist. He gets by with another part time job as a pizza delivery guy. What a boring life. While doing his delivery, he suddenly felt a strange shift in time. Like déjà vu, he went back a few minutes in time. He realizes something bad is going to happen and looks around for the source. He realizes the truck driver is asleep and is going to ram into a child crossing the road (why do kids not look when they want to cross?). Luckily he manages to grab the steering and swerve, missing the kid but collides into an oncoming car. 2 days later he wakes up in hospital. Don’t worry, he is fine. His colleague, Airi Katagiri is there to explain what happened. Satoru explains to us he has this ability he calls Revival. He goes back around 5 minutes in time and watches the same scene play out again. It is like some force is trying to make him prevent something bad from happening. Usually the outcome ends up neutral and sometimes negative for him in the sense like in this case, he got injured in the accident. He is discharged and returns home to find his mom, Sachiko cooking for him. Looks like she’ll be staying here for a while to take care of things. That night, she talks about that incident they all want to forget. Why bring it up when you want especially him to forget? Anyway, Satoru can’t remember much but he eventually remembers 2 of his school friends died. There was this adult whom he befriended when he was young. He called him Yuuki because of his penchant to talk about bravery and courage. 6 months after his friends died, Jun Shiratori the serial kidnapper-cum-murderer was arrested. He was Yuuki.

While helping mom doing errands, another Revival occurs. Satoru looks around but couldn’t find the source. He asks Sachiko to help and she remembers him saying and doing the same thing when younger. Sachiko spots a strange man walking away with a little girl. Their eyes met. The man drives off but the girl is left behind. That night she tells Satoru about the possible failed kidnapping attempt earlier in the day. Was it because he was spotted. He is surprised so she brushes it off as a joke. Satoru remembers one of his dead friends, Kayo Hinazuki. She was always standing alone at the park. Had he talked to her and walked her home that night, she wouldn’t have become a victim. That is probably what he wanted to forget the most. Sachiko does her own investigation because she thought that suspicious man looked familiar. It was like he knew who she was too. She thinks that Shiratori guy wasn’t the true culprit. She has stumbled upon something and needs to tell Satoru. But back home, she is being stabbed from the back. She tries to get her handphone to call Satoru but she couldn’t make it. She regrets not believing in Satoru when he screamed Yuuki wasn’t the killer. Even if the police doubted him, as a mother she shouldn’t have. Satoru goes home unknowingly passing by the killer on his way down. He then sees Sachiko’s bloodied body. Is this a joke? It gets worse when he touches it and the neighbour came over to check and misunderstood the situation. It was like everything is a setup because the police are here and want to take him to the police station. It gets worse when Satoru tries to run. Then another Revival. He finds himself in a familiar nostalgic place. It is his elementary school gates and he is a kid once more back in 1988!

Episode 2
Satoru is still in a daze about what is going on. Is this really 1988? It is like going back 19 years in time! I guess he ran home in the middle of school hours back home (passing by Kayo) to find his mom. Yes, she is still there. Looks like a pretty normal and happy family. He believes he is here due to Revival and not by chance so there must be some big anomaly he has to prevent. But does he have to go back this far to save mom? Or is it Kayo? In class, he notices a big bruise on her thigh. Then hanging out with his friends, Kazu (typical loudmouth), Osamu (typical bespectacled nerd), Hiromi Sugita (typical is-this-a-boy-or-girl) and Kenya Kobayashi (no, not a black or African but your typical silent, observant and considerate type who only speaks when necessary), they wonder if he likes Kayo since he has been staring at her all day. He did admit he has her on his mind and so his friends commend his bravery and are willing to set them up. If they could only keep it down and not let the entire class hear… And they really did set them up to meet. She’s not impressed he wants to be her friend, though. However she understands him because they are alike. Fake. Since he still insists of being friends (in hoping it could save her), she then asks him if he is willing to kill somebody for her.

Satoru’s friends are excited how things went with Kayo but Kenya tells them not to rush and ruin it for him. Later Kenya talks to Satoru about his weird interest in Kayo lately. He doesn’t understand what is going on but they will gladly help out when they can. He tells Satoru to read the student anthology. Back home, he reads Kayo’s essay that states how she wants to go far, far away to an island all by herself. No parents, no teachers, no friends, no anybody. Satoru realizes this is her cry for help. In his bid to get closer to Kayo to prevent that tragedy, he asks mom if he could hold a birthday party in their apartment. Since it is small, he will only invite 5 friends over. Sachiko is sharp and wonders if he has got a girlfriend! Mom knows… Satoru finds Kayo loitering alone at the park as usual. He apologizes he can’t murder anybody for her. Of course, she was just joking too. Really? She notes he is putting on act so he says doing so makes it easier for him to talk to everyone and make friends. Kayo too feels like playing a part. He gives her an invitation to his birthday party and hopes she can come. She is surprised she is the first person he asks. Then she touches his hands to warm it up. It makes Satoru blush despite he knows deep down inside he is an adult and should know these things by now. It just shows he never experienced such things lah. When she says he is easy to talk to recently, he replies he decided not to lie to her. After she leaves, he remembers this was the place she was last seen. Her body was only found after the snow melted.

Episode 3
Satoru tries to remember the murder case in which Hiromi was the other victim. Because of Kayo’s reported age when she was murdered, it means the murder took place before her birthday. Satoru is in an ice skating race with fellow classmate, Hamada who would eventually go on to be the school’s ice hockey champion. He is unsure whether to lose this race to him despite doing much better than him. Eventually that dilemma has Hamada zoom past him by an inch. Hamada didn’t like what he did and tells how much he hates guys like him. Satoru then remembers this was exactly how it went. History repeated itself. Satoru tries to ask Kayo for her birthday but she won’t say. In fact, she calls him a liar because he said he would try his best during the race but gave the win to Hamada. Not that it matters because they are both fakes. He then tries to peek into the records of his teacher, Gaku Yashiro but is caught red handed. But after hearing him out, he lets him have a look. She shares the same birthday as him, 2nd March. Now it is mid February and he has less than half a month to stop the murder. Satoru then hangs out with Yuuki. He is quite a nice guy to talk to. He remembers the police questioning him about his behaviour. Although Yuuki was sentenced to death, he maintained his innocence since the start. Satoru then visits Kayo’s house but nobody is in. When he sees her broken gloves on the ground and her backpack items scattered, he fears the worse. He opens the shed to find her lying there all bruised up. Before he could do anything, her mother comes to bring her in. He asks about the bruises so mom has Kayo tell him what they are. She fell and tripped. Satoru felt helpless he couldn’t say anything to counter to her sad lie.

Her mom continues to abuse her but it seems so that her wounds would heal before school. Can’t argue with an insane person, can you? Kayo arrives late for class and Satoru spots a bruise mark behind her neck. Later he talks to Yashiro about this. The reason Kayo is always late or absent on Mondays is because her mom abuses her on Saturdays. He too knows about it but why hasn’t he taken any action? Revealing Kayo’s case may isolate her further from her classmates than she is now. In fact, last May they have suspected her mother of being abusive. However her mom knows how to evade from child welfare people. When they visited, they were always not in or she knows how to hide it well. Yashiro has personally visited them and knows Kayo is being abused. Until they get confirmation from the child welfare department, they can’t do anything yet. Satoru thinks Yashiro is waiting for spring break to take action but it will be too late by then. During lunch, Satoru admits he lost the class’ lunch money. Misato accuses Kayo of stealing it since she is always poor and never contributed. The rest start suspecting her too. So as everybody spot checks each other’s bag, Kayo found the money in hers. Before Misato could further accuse her, Satoru puts his foot down that Kayo will never steal even if she is poor. Was his scolding that harsh that it made her cry? Besides, anybody could have taken it from Satoru’s bag and put it in hers. Yashiro quells everything saying Kayo was on class duty so it is not surprise the money is in her bag. Later Kayo thanks him for it and mentions how she hates her more. The feeling is mutual. But Misato did invite her once to her Christmas party just to show off her Christmas tree. This reminds Satoru to bring her go see a Christmas tree. He bought a new pair of gloves for her. Along the way, a couple of red foxes dance around them. Kayo must be disappointed the ‘Christmas tree’ is a huge withered tree. But she feels happy looking at it.

Episode 4
Satoru asks his mom for some allowance because he plans to bring his friends out to the science centre. But mom knows he is going out on a date and he inadvertently spills all the answers she wants to know. Mom always knows… He invites his friends but once they learn Kayo is coming along, they don’t want to interrupt and say they have something important to do. Satoru goes to convince Kayo’s mom, Akemi but of course she won’t allow it. Satoru accidentally hints this outing is to save her from the abuse. Mom asks Kayo’s opinion and when she hints she wants to go, she is about to slap her but Sachiko grabs her hand. This is peacefully resolved and kayo gets the green light to go. Satoru couldn’t be more grateful for Sachiko to intervene. Till he learns she came home early from work and decided to follow her son like a stalker. Whoops… The duo enjoy their time at the science centre. However when Kayo thanks him like as though he knew this was her favourite place and something how this place is like an inspiration for manga artists, this shocks Satoru because he somewhat remembered something like this happened before. He was at the science centre and bumped into her accidentally. Is he repeating history again? But when his friends eventually join them later, he thinks he has succeeded in changing history. Next day in class, Kayo looks much better. Satoru accidentally says aloud she looks prettier, causing an uproar in class. Today is supposedly the day she gets killed so he hangs out with her as much as he can. After sending her back, he purposely says aloud he will come to pick her tomorrow in hopes that somebody would notice he was here. Satoru is so worried that he couldn’t sleep. Before midnight, he ran over to Kayo’s house just to make sure. I know he is desperate but… Nothing happens. Phew. Since he can’t sleep, he waits outside her house early in the morning. She’s there. They are supposed to head to Satoru’s home after school for the birthday party but Yashiro has them do some tasks. After buying food for the party, they return home only to be greeted by a surprise by their friends. It seems they planned this surprise. That is why they had Yashiro cooperate with them to stall the duo. While Satoru gives Kayo a pair of gloves, Kayo shed tears of joy and also sadness as she didn’t have time to complete it since she was hanging out with him most of the time. The day passes like any other day. Satoru is so happy that he is freed from all the tension, he just slept soundly. Of course he is late the next day but to his dismay, Kayo is not present. In fact, she never came to school…

Episode 5
Satoru rushes to Kayo’s home. Nobody is home (but it looks like the guilty adults are hiding). He checks the shed. Not there. But he notices an adult male’s footprint coming out of it. Soon it is reported Kayo went missing on 3rd March but a media blackout was instated to prevent panic. Satoru becomes depressed he couldn’t do anything but Sachiko cheers him that he did the best he could. Yashiro tells his class that Kayo had to suddenly transfer to her grandma’s place and thus she didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. Of course this was just a lie so Yashiro hopes Satoru could play along. A police car is parked outside Kayo’s home every day. Akemi is also a suspect and was questioned. Just 6 days after Kayo’s disappearance, another girl, Aya Nakanishi from a nearby school also went missing. Of course her story is also she ran away to her grandpa’s place but Kenya knows better there is currently a serial kidnapping going on. When the investigation is made public, the news only shows this on certain channels and times. 10 days later, Satoru catches Akemi throwing out a trash bag. He sees those gloves inside and goes crazy. Before he knows it, Satoru is back in his current time right after he became a prime suspect in his mom’s murder. His strategy is to run away. But hiding under the bridge? Ah well… He gets a call from his manager who offers him to stay at his place. Such great hospitality. When Satoru sees on TV about his case, it dawned to him something is wrong. The police are outside and his manager is seen talking to them. That’s why. He sneaks out and bumps into Airi. Because of his handphone with GPS features, it is easily tracked. She helps him back to her place. Can he believe her? More importantly, why does she believe him after what has appeared on the news. Because she knows he is not the kind to kill his own mother. Satoru looks at a book of Japan’s gruesome murders that Airi bought. He realizes history has changed. Before, it was reported that Kayo was murdered when she was 10 years old. Now the book states she died on 3rd March at 11 years old.

The manager is seen talking to a shady person in his office. Airi takes her leave from her shift so the manager tells her to help look out for Satoru as he can’t imagine killing his mom. He will also offer his support so please call him if they meet. Oh no… Satoru does his research about another serial kidnapping 3 years ago and although the kidnapper was nabbed soon, he maintained his innocence. When Satoru returns home, the manager is seen spying nearby and trying to call the police. Airi catches him in the act and is very disappointed that she punches him and breaks his handphone. She really wanted to believe. He claims he is worried about her. If he is, then he will not call the cops to the home of the family who is taking care of her. Eventually Satoru is back hiding under the bridge. Airi apologizes for this but he agrees this is for the best they can’t return there. He asks about her home. Her real home is in the countryside and this house belongs to her mom’s brother. Instead of finding a boarding house, she was told to stay with them. As for why Airi continues to believe in him, she tells her story when she went shopping with her dad. He was allegedly accused of stealing a chocolate bar. The storeowner was a close friend and will forget this if he confessed to the stealing. But he maintained his innocence. The police was called, he got fired from his job and left the house after his wife divorced him as she believed he stole it. Airi always believed he was innocent because she was there the entire time. That is why she wants to believe him for her own sake. Satoru wants her to tell the police that he threatened her but she is not going to do that. Back home, Airi gets a message from Satoru from Sachiko’s handphone to stay where she is. She feels something amiss till she realizes this message is from the killer. Before she knows it, the house is on fire!

Episode 6
Satoru busts in to save Airi. He can’t do this alone and luckily the manager is here to help. Also, he gives Satoru a chance to run away but he’ll take all the credit for saving Airi. Satoru realizes Airi has slipped her handphone into his pocket. He is shocked to see the text’s contents and believes the killer intended to kill Airi and frame him. Satoru then calls Sawada, Sachiko’s ex-TV reporter colleague. They meet up and Sawada believes Satoru isn’t the murderer because Sachiko would never raise a son who would kill. After Satoru shows the text, Sawada reveals days before Sachiko’s death, she called him regarding Jun wasn’t the kidnapper-cum-murderer. She knows the real culprit. He regrets not asking for a name then. He explains what happened in Kayo’s case. She was believed that have been beaten up and tossed into the shed by the adults and froze to death. However there was a time she was missing from there. The police connected Jun as the kidnapper because his pair of boots matched the tracks in the snow. The official story goes that after kidnapping her, he took pictures of her, use some commercial freezer to speed up her death and wait till she is brain dead before putting her back in the shed. Jun was arrested and is now on death row although he has since pleaded not guilty. Before Aya and Hiromi were killed too, there was a similar case in a nearby town. Now this is happening to Satoru. It seems the killer is one who frames others for murders. By doing so, the investigation is delayed and the ‘freshness’ of the murder scene goes stale the more time passes and the more eyewitnesses dwindle. The case will then go cold. As for Airi’s case, the killer needed to frame Satoru for Sachiko’s murder by knowing what time he gets off from work. He must have visited the workplace and Airi must have seen him. Meanwhile Airi is in hospital and perhaps pretending to be in dire straits. She is disheartened to hear theories of Satoru being painted the bad guy and it even goes as far as saying Airi was his accomplice and he was trying to shut her up. She knows what everyone thinks is wrong but would they believe her?

Satoru is looking through the past investigation details of the related murders. Based on the suspect lists and how it is whittled down, he realizes the murderer killed Hiromi despite knowing his true gender just to be eliminated from the suspect pool. Kawada sneaks into the hospital to see Airi. But it is not her in the bed but her mother. Apparently Airi told her mom how nobody believed her. The police insisted she inhaled too much fumes and her memories are still in a daze. Her mother believed in her since she regretted not believing in her husband then. They swapped places. She calls Satoru to meet at the usual place. She thinks a man named Nishizono is most suspicious as he frequently visits the pizza place and the manager looks up to him. He could have been able to check the shift schedule. He might be trying to kill her as he knows her face and they talked before. However Satoru doesn’t remember that name on the suspect list. Could it be an alias? Can a city councillor use an alias? This frustration reminds him of his unfinished manga about a reaper who accidentally killed a child. But the more he tries to undo his mistake, the more it hurts others. Satoru is in that predicament now. But Airi doesn’t think so because she is not hurt and all the other stuffs are probably the reaper jumping to conclusions. Suddenly the police surround the place and take Satoru into custody. Airi pleads he is innocent but is fallen on deaf ears. Airi feels guilty that she probably led the cops here but Satoru says it is thanks to Airi believing in him, he was able to continue fighting. As he is being led away, he notices a suspicious man among the police. He could be that killer because of the same eyes.

Episode 7
With the feeling of unsettled business, Satoru prays hard for another Revival. He gets his wish when he realizes he has returned back in time when he is visiting the science centre with Kayo. This is his last chance to fix things. In school, Kenya talks to Satoru how he likes the person he has become now. But he throws him a question: Who is he actually? Kenya has noticed Satoru has been acting strangely ever since and it is like a different character is occupying his body. Kenya has also known Kayo’s bruises for a long time but never had the guts to take action. So when Satoru jumped in, it was like an insult to show him how it is done. So he wants to know who this Satoru is. A hero of justice wannabe. I guess with that answer, Kenya believes this is the Satoru he had always known. After Satoru explains how Kayo will die after getting abused, Kenya offers to help him. The day before their before, Satoru has his friends hang out with Kayo so that he could hang out in Yuuki’s house to give him alibi. Satoru asks him if he had met Kayo. Yuuki starts panicking but eventually brushes it off after learning she has been hanging out with Satoru’s group. The birthday party proceeded like normal.

But after the party with the excuse of forgetting something at school, Satoru actually goes to Yuuki’s house to deflate the tyres of their vehicle, write a threatening note and throw a rock through their window. This is to make it look like Yuuki is being targeted and not the killer. In his desperate attempt to protect Kayo, he is going to get rid of her mom by pushing her down the stairs?! Luckily Kenya has been watching him and stops him. He doesn’t want him to go so far and do something reckless. Satoru doesn’t care the consequences that will befall him because it is better than Kayo dying. Satoru requests Kenya’s help this time and he has no qualms in agreeing to it. Satoru walks Kayo home after the party but he tells her he is going to kidnap her now. Surprised at first, Kayo agrees to let him do that. He brings her to the school’s abandoned bus where Kenya has been making preparations to make it is their secret base. They let her stay here while they return home. But shortly after midnight when Sachiko is asleep, Satoru sneaks out to go accompany Kayo. March 2nd passed without incident and Satoru realizes they are now in uncharted territory. Satoru has also brought Hiromi to join them in their hideout. We know Akemi doesn’t care enough to call the cops over her missing daughter. Yet. Satoru plans to drop by her place to make her mother call the cops on this. He will take full responsibility on everything. But Kayo surprises them that if they say it was her idea and that they only helped her out, everyone will go scot free. Deep in the middle of the night when Kayo is sleeping alone, it seems the culprit enters the bus…

Episode 8
Kayo realizes this person isn’t Satoru. Seems he got a bit violent in messing with some of the stuffs before leaving. Kayo’s presence wasn’t found out. It has been 3 days since Kayo hasn’t attended school and there is no formal word from the school itself about this. Satoru then talks to Yashiro about taking action as he has been to Kayo’s house but nobody replied. He is hinting to call the police but Yashiro claims by doing so it would inconvenience a certain someone. Yashiro assures him he has already called the child welfare and he will be going with them to Kayo’s house tonight. That night, they knock on the door but nobody answers. Even strange that the lights are on. Yashiro enters and sees the things around the house like as though somebody was here a moment ago. It could mean that the adults must have fled when they heard their knocking. They decide to back off now and give time for them to settle down before trying again. Satoru had been spying on them so he returns to Kayo and updates her and his friends what happened. He believes tonight will end everything. This means the boys will have to part ways with Kayo. Kayo sounds bold in asking Satoru to stay with her tonight. She reveals someone came here yesterday. They check out the box he messed up and find tools for… Kidnapping? That is when Satoru realizes that they still haven’t broken free of the vicious circle yet because if you remember, Aya was the other victim. Going through the other boxes, Satoru finds more equipment for framing. This bus is the centre of the circle and they definitely cannot stay here anymore. So Satoru brings her back to his place and stay for the night. Would Sachiko allow it? She is in fact proud of her son for trying to help a friend. After the kids have dinner, Sachiko calls Yashiro that Kayo is safe at her place. Kayo experiences what a good family is like. Lots of laughter and smiles. Good bath, good sleep, good food. So good that she even cries! Oh my… Speaking of Akemi, she is trashing her daughter’s room to take out her frustrations. When Kayo is at the doorstep, she is about to lash out her abusive ways but stops short because Satoru and Sachiko are with her.

Episode 9
Akemi accuses them for this and when she thinks they are blaming her for not looking after Kayo, she gets violent with a shovel. If not for Kayo’s action, the shovel could have hit Sachiko’s face and luckily she just got a scratch on the forehead. Before she can’t get even violent, the welfare department is here. With Sachiko’s ‘help’, they were able to ‘schedule’ this meeting. They want to discuss about the way she treats Kayo (she didn’t even look for her when she went missing for 3 days) and has concluded she needs to be taken into custody. Akemi will go make a police report about everything but her mom is seen prostrating and apologizing she never supported her daughter when she needed most. Flashback of Akemi an abuse victim of her ex-husband. After they got divorced, she took it out on Kayo. Grandma puts the blame on herself and doesn’t the welfare people to treat her daughter badly. To prove Akemi is still human, she emotionally hugs her mother. Perhaps all she needs was someone to cry on. Yashiro drives Kayo away and Satoru believes the path to her future will be a bright one. Naturally with Kayo gone, Satoru falls into depression. He receives an update from Yashiro that Kayo will be living with her grandma and Akemi cannot be near Kayo for a few years.

However it is not over yet. Despite Kayo is safe, he still has to deal with Hiromi and Aya. Hiromi is easy since he is his classmate but how do you completely get to know a total stranger? He asks mom and she thinks he is going after someone else now that Kayo is gone! Mother knows… Satoru has to schedule his time to be with Hiromi as well as ‘stalk’ Aya to know her habits which is thankfully fairly straightforward. Seems she also hangs out with Yuuki. One night he thinks he can follow her to where she lives but Sachiko needs his help to carry the groceries. Luckily Yashiro drives them home. Satoru asks why Yashiro never married (bad experience?) and also how to make friends with strangers. Satoru opens the compartment and candies came rushing out. Yashiro reveals this is his addiction after he quit smoking 3 years ago. Kenya suspects something amiss because Satoru is now trying to be Hiromi’s guardian. They revisit the bus again and find a few stuffs missing. Satoru mentions that saving Kayo from her mother’s abuse was just part of the reason as he believes there is a child murderer-cum-kidnapper and this is where he keeps his tools. Despite his story sounding like something unbelievable, Kenya believes in him and wants to help him because Satoru believed in him to tell his side of the story. So it seems a little weird like shota gay because Satoru and Hiromi holding hands while walking home?! Oh sh*t… His friends’ trust gives Satoru hope that he can overcome this. He remembers how sad he was when he couldn’t save Kayo and he never wants to go through that again.

Episode 10
Satoru, Kenya and Hiromi try to talk to Aya. She remembers seeing them before because they often sneak into their secret base across the river. Why is Kenya getting mad when she calls the secret base as stupid? It is Satoru’s turn when she calls boys playing heroes as stupid. As she leaves, Kazu hops out from hiding and in front of her to tell her she is wrong. She should come visit their base. Next day, she did visit the base. The next thing you know, Kazu and Aya became an item! Gosh. That escalated quickly! She hangs out with the boys sometimes at their base. With Aya’s case settled, a new one seems to pop up. Hiromi informs Satoru that he notices Misato has been alone lately. Ever since that lunch money incident, everyone has been ostracizing her. This fact made it hard for Satoru to talk to her. He tails her one day to the ice hockey rink where Yashiro and some of the students are there to support their ice hockey team. Satoru observes she has been sitting alone. But shortly after, she leaves for the toilet. He waited for her to return but she never came back. You know how women take, right? As he is about to leave, he stumbles into Yashiro. Then he spots Yuuki’s truck passing by and he asks Yashiro for his help. Yashiro drives and tails the truck. Then there is some seemingly ominous talk in which Satoru thinks he needs his candy fix but Yashiro says he won’t find any. Because this is not his car… Oh f*ck! That evil look!

Don’t hold your breath now because Yashiro is the god damn killer!!! He has observed Satoru’s actions playing detective. He said he assumed there was a killer prowling in town but he is acting that he is convinced there was one around. He is very surprised that Satoru could predict his train of thought. To be very sure it was him, he told Misato to come to the hockey game and then tell Hiromi about it. If Satoru came, then his suspicion was true. He assures the one in the truck is only Yuuki’s father and waited for the right time to give Misato the laxatives. He further reveals on the day he gave him and his mom a ride home he was supposed to carry out his plans. It was the second time his plan was foiled. But now everything has been going according to his plan. He will kill Satoru and achieve the satisfaction that he has been denied of. Yashiro still admires Satoru for thwarting his plans. Like as though he could read his future. He drives to an isolated place. After getting out of the car, he pushes it into the frozen river. Satoru is stuck in his seat belt and struggling to get out. His life flashes before him as he reveals the culprit was right under his nose and he took it for granted. Yashiro’s name popped up along with the list of suspects and he didn’t want to accept it because he trusted him. Also, Sachiko’s name was on the list making him more reluctant to do so.

Episode 11
Yashiro narrates how it all began. When he was in kindergarten, a fellow classmate brought a few pet hamsters in which she had carelessly allowed to breed. Yashiro took them all home and drowned all of them in a bottle. But only one hamster survived and it did so by standing on top of its dead brethren. Ever since, he has been fascinated with this and calls this lone hamster survivor Spice. This reminds him of that Spider’s Thread story and so he began killing kids who have this spider’s thread he sees over their head. Satoru also had this but he didn’t die too. Above all, he foiled his plans. That is why he decided to call him Spice and observe him. We see scenes of Sachiko going about in her daily life. She starts crying when Satoru opens his eyes. He has been in coma for 15 years!!! OMG! A mother’s dedication showed that every single day she did all those exercise on his comatose body in hopes he would wake up one day. As he undergoes rehabilitation, his memories are still hazy what happened 15 years ago. He is glad to see his friends, Kenya now a lawyer and Hiromi a doctor. That girly guy is now chubby! But the one whom he instantly recognizes is Kayo! I believe we have never seen her adult version before and yet Satoru recognizes her. So much so he starts crying. She is now married and has a baby named Mirai. Oh, she is married to Hiromi. In a way she feels guilty for finding happiness and after all that Satoru has done for her, it is like she has abandoned him. But Satoru believes every action he took was his own and he has no regrets.

As Satoru improves steadily in rehabilitation, he meets a girl, Kumi who is supposed to undergo a bone marrow transplant but is too scared of the surgery. She becomes amazed with Satoru’s determination and courage. With Satoru’s improvement, the media and paparazzi are also trying to cover his ‘miraculous’ story. Perhaps even coming up with something scandalous that he might be an adult now but his heart is still of a young boy (his socializing with Kumi). They are stopped by Nishizono who threatens them about the laws they are breaking and enough to put them behind bars. Nishizono then confronts Satoru and identifies himself as Yashiro and his ex-teacher. Remember him? He explains he got married 5 years ago into his fiancee’s family and changed his surname. He even changed his first name to Manabu. As his father-in-law was a councillor, his sudden death 3 years ago made him venture into politics. So he has been a councillor for a year. He met Kumi at a charity event for leukaemia. Satoru’s determination has made Kumi want to go for the surgery. It will be the day after tomorrow and so this is the last day for visitors. Unfortunately she is sleeping so Satoru and Yashiro talk instead. To avoid those pesky paparazzi, they head to the rooftop. That is when Satoru reveals his memories of 15 years ago have returned.

Episode 12
Kenya and Hiromi updated Satoru about their other friends. Surprisingly Misato was the one who initiated the drive to fund Satoru’s hospital bill. Kenya knew Satoru had his memories back but didn’t say anything as he was still recovering. He was glad to have him back and that itself was enough. He doesn’t want him to fight alone anymore and if he still wants to, take them with him. Satoru remembers their strong bond and told them Yashiro is the killer. Now Yashiro wants to know how Satoru knows his every step then. He guesses that Satoru is having a handphone recording this device or letting Kenya hear this conversation. Too bad whatever crimes he did, its statute limitations have expired or never existed to begin with. That is why he will never be caught. Yashiro has also planned Kumi’s death. He will frame Satoru by granting her a merciful death for being worried about her surgery. Feeling guilty, Satoru will then commit suicide. Although Satoru will still die anyhow, he can still have a chance to save Kumi if he talks. There is of course no assurance that Kumi will live but the possibility exists as long as he talks. But Yashiro feels he is wasting time since back then it might just be Satoru’s luck. He has even crafted a nice suicide message for Sachiko to read. Yashiro spent 15 years for him to wake up because when he lost Satoru, he lost the drive that defined him. But Satoru tells him he is no longer alone. Despite Yashiro had the chance to kill him any time, he has not for the last 15 years. Flashback shows he even helped cared for comatose Satoru. No wonder he looks so well shaven. This proves that Satoru is important in his life. He is his purpose in life. He is his hope. He is the one who filled the gaping hole in his heart. Now he has lost.

While Yashiro denies all that, Satoru quickly jumps off the ledge. He didn’t fall because Yashiro grabs onto his wheelchair. This is further proves why he can’t kill him. 15 years may be a flash for Satoru but it felt like eternity to Yashiro. Satoru hints he has repeated his life several times and had several friends killed. Even so he bears no hatred towards him. Because there was only one person who knew the real him. Tears trickle down Yashiro’s cheek. He lets Satoru’s fall to his death as he mentions he can’t live without him anymore. He is about to jump off too but he sees Satoru landed on a big cushion well placed by his friends and mom. Game over. You lose. Yashiro is arrested for attempted murder. Satoru narrates he lost 15 years of his life but he lost his most prized possession: In a town in which his existence was erased and his friends lived through their precious moments for his sake. Satoru now lives as a manga artist and I can guess he is doing quite well since his manga is getting an anime adaptation. He has stopped experiencing Revival ever since. He also visits Yuuki who has a family of his own (Indian wife and son?) and regularly hangs out with his other friends. I believe that hot chick is Misato. By deduction it should be her, right? Satoru seems to have his own Hollywood walk of fame plaque on the ground near his school. Well, something that looks like it. As he hangs out underneath the bridge, it starts snowing. He is surprised and happy when Airi takes shelter there too. He is glad he never stopped believing.

Bokura Ga Ita, Kimi No Iru Machi
We were there, A Town Where You Live. Names of previous anime series and despite the different theme and setting, I can’t help how uncannily similar their names would fit right in this series as well. Because it shows that Satoru and the rest were there. They existed. Not erased as Satoru personally believes the time he was cut away from. They were here existing and living in this little town. Therefore despite Satoru was not there physically, he was there all along in their hearts and it is that presence that strove his friends to continue living their best.

I would never have expected this series to be this good. A reason why I didn’t put much high hopes despite reading the intriguing synopsis because I based my bias and prejudice of the mystery genre on my last anime in the same category. It was unfortunate that Sakurako-san No Ashimoto Ni Wa Shitai Ga Umatteiru fell short of expectations but it was careless and unfair of me to judge a totally different anime this way. It goes to show that every anime is on a case by case basis. It proved how wrong my judgment was and I am glad to have watched this series to dispel that. The plot twists are amazing as it kept me preoccupied and trying to guess what would happen. The execution is also good because there were nail biting scenes that might amount to nothing or something. It was something so simple but yet kept me on the edge of my seat.

The ending was good with all the loose ends tied up but yet bittersweet in a way because when you start thinking all the pain and suffering that everybody went through just to set things straight, it makes you question whether a 15 year justice is worth the wait. No doubt justice in the end but as mortals with very short lives on this planet, 15 years is a very long time to fathom. Everybody eventually had a happy ending thanks to the hard work of Satoru (and friends) in making it happen. He might have lost an important prime time of his childhood life but at least the good thing is that he is able to retain memories of his past lives so it isn’t all that bad. At least he doesn’t need to go to school again for his age. With no more Revivals, I guess the future is very much secure now, huh?

But the one little thing that bugged me at the end is how everybody never seemed to question how ‘advanced’ Satoru is. At least we are not shown how. But the way they interact with Satoru like as though he is an adult. Remember, despite Satoru retaining his memories and vocabularies of his other lives, in this time line to everybody Satoru is an 11 year old kid waking up in an adult’s body. So didn’t they find it strange that he could speak advanced words? Okay, maybe he did not spout a fancy and elaborate vocabulary. But shouldn’t they be suspicious that Satoru is acting like an adult instead of a child? I think everybody is just glad to have him back and couldn’t care less about this oddity. Besides, Satoru has been acting like a responsible adult in his bid to save Kayo and the rest so it makes no difference.

There is nothing much for me to comment on the characters since Satoru has been playing a pivotal role every time. It goes to show that if you want things done, you have to do it yourself. More importantly, things change not because of what you think, your opinion or regrets of what should have been done. Instead, things change because of the actions you take. Satoru is given that golden opportunity to right the wrongs but he is a lucky guy because he gets to do it twice. I think it was wise of him to not reveal about his multiple lives because logically and naturally nobody will believe him. Not even Yashiro. Some truths are meant to be kept by yourself. Speaking of telling the future, I think Sachiko is another one. She has this power because she is a mother. Uh huh. It is sometimes funny to think of the irony that she knows everything about her son like as though she read the script and thus able to tell his future and what is on his mind. So people, beware of your mother next time. They always know. ALWAYS! Otherwise Sachiko is a great mom whom every kid would love to have. She is understand, she is supportive and above all a dedicated mother who loves her son even when he is sleeping for 15 years with hope that he will wake up one day. That is what a real mother should be about. She should win the mother of the century award. Then again when you think about him, what kind of mother gives her 11 year old son so much liberty to do things himself and putting himself in danger of being kidnapped! Yikes! I retract that award thingy…

I feel a bit sad for Airi because when everything worked out in the end, it is only natural that she never existed in his time line. So perhaps I think they try to balance things out in the final scene when they meet again. I can speculate that maybe Satoru and Airi would become a couple after that since well, Kayo is already married. A fresh new beginning, right? But that itself is another story. Say, they are making a spin-off of this series after the manga ends… Kayo is also another sad case. As a child abuse victim, she had nowhere to go and no place to voice out her desperate plea for help. A tragedy waiting to happen. Her case of isolation reminds of this phrase that she didn’t build walls to keep others out but to see who cared enough to break them down. Sceptical of Satoru at first, she quickly puts her trust in him because anything is better than that hellhole under the guise of a home. Kenya turns out to be a potential genius friend of Satoru but ultimately I don’t really see him do anything much. What a waste…

I always had a hunch and suspected Yashiro as the culprit even from the early episodes because of the way he casts he glance and the seemingly suspicious actions he makes. Therefore when Yashiro was actually revealed as the big villain, I couldn’t help feel a mixed sense of happiness and disappointment. I was happy that I got it right which means I was paying attention and understood, right? But at the same time I was hoping that it was a different person. I was hoping to be proven wrong that it had to be somebody else and that I was just thinking too much. Because just like Satoru, I too was some sort in my own denial that I didn’t want this guy to be the perpetrator at the end. After all, had it been somebody different and a new character that we have never seen or appeared before, it would not have been fair to viewers because that ruins the romance of the mystery genre.

There were a few other conspiracy theories that formulated in my head over the series. But thankfully they were just me over-thinking. For example, I kept thinking that Kayo and Airi are actually the same person! Because I seemed to notice that they often use the line, “Are you an idiot?” on Satoru. Yeah, my conspiracy theory goes as far as that Kayo has survived the murder and another kid was mistaken to be her. She grew up, underwent plastic surgery, changed her name and went on to forget those hideous memories. Since they never see each other again, that is why they don’t recognize each other at work. But then again, there are a handful of other lines that a character says that rings a bell in Satoru’s mind that has been said by another character. Another wild conspiracy theory of mind is how the killer is Satoru himself from another timeline! I mean, he could go back in time and mostly for a short time. So what if all that Revival phenomenon has caused him to split another dimension where another version of Satoru materializes? I am saying this because when I first glimpsed at the killer’s eyes, I somehow seem to think how similar (which is not) to Satoru’s.

The art and drawing feels a bit simplistic. Sometimes I feel the characters have that one kind look. Not to say that it is a bad thing but I just can’t help that shake off that one kind look they have. After all, this is generally a drama and mystery genre so visuals aren’t going to be emphasized so much that it will strain the budget. And is it me or just that middle aged women like Sachiko and Akemi have puffed lips? Can’t… Avert… My eyes… Produced by A-1 Pictures who have produced ‘better looking’ animes like Sword Art Online, Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata, Uta No Prince-sama series, Kuroshitsuji, OreImo, Ao No Exorcist, Magi series and even Fairy Tail, they also have made ‘bad looking’ ones like Denpa Kyoushi.

In the voice acting department, I believe this is the first time in a long while that a main character is given 2 different seiyuus. The only other anime I can think of now that uses this is Ranma 1/2. This is necessary to differentiate the thoughts of which Satoru that he is narrating. Is it the one from the future or the one as a kid? It helps in separating and making it easier to viewers to listen as it would have been a bit heavy if they were just voiced by the same seiyuu. Sometimes I think there is a subtle joke about using this because Satoru has a tendency to accidentally speak aloud his thoughts. So maybe the different voices to differentiate which thought Satoru is speaking confused himself too? The adult Satoru is voiced by Shinnosuke Mitsushima. I am not sure if his husky voice is his natural voice but if he does sound like an amateur, it is because this is his debut and only voice acting role so far. But his voice does seem to fit the kind of uneventful life that Satoru lives as well as when he is thrown back into the past and thinking deeply on how to change the future. The child version of Satoru is of course voiced by a female, Tao Tsuchiya and this is her first time voicing an anime character. I checked she had minor roles in live action movies.

The only seiyuu I recognized is Aoi Yuuki as Kayo. Just take out all the lively enthusiasm from her other anime characters and put on a gloomy tone and voila! You get Kayo. The rest of the other casts are Minami Takayama as Sachiko (Conan in Detective Conan series), Mitsuru Miyamoto as Yashiro (Steven in Kekkai Sensen), You Tachi as Kenya (Anzu in Prison School), Akai Kitou as Hiromi (Mary in Cross Ange), Takahiro Miszushima as Yuuki/Jun (Takajou in Charlotte) and Akemi Okamura as Akemi (Nami in One Piece). There are a lot of relatively unknown seiyuus as well such as Yukitoshi Kikuchi as Kazu, Ayaka Nanase as Osamu, Ayaka Kaneko as Aya and Hina Kino as Misato.

Hearing the opening theme, Re:Re brings back familiar memories. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but once I found out that it was sung by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, instantly all my memories came flooding back. I’m not saying I am a fan of them but the last time I heard these guys are from the opening themes of the anime Naruto (the original one and not Shippuden) and Fullmetal Alchemist (the original one too and not the remake Brotherhood). And those opening themes are from the last decade! The rock style and trademark singing voice are still the same and maybe that is why the nostalgic feelings return. The ending theme is Sore Wa Chiisana Hikari No You Na by Sayuri. A little bit dramatic but not really to my liking after hearing the awesome opening theme.

There is even a live action film of the same name released right after the TV anime ended its run. I wonder if it follows the same storyline as the anime because if it does, I think the thrill and suspense factor would be gone. At least for those who watched the anime. After all, since this series was adapted from a manga that shortly ended after its anime run. Spoilers? I read the anime ending is supposed to be of the original manga. Well, I couldn’t tell since I don’t read it. So if they wanted a twist and changed the ending, imagine the rage of the fans… Can you imagine Kayo staying single and waiting for Satoru to wake up and then they get hitched? Yeah… But as far as the movie is concerned, I just think that it is for adults. You know, anime is like cartoon so it is like kiddie stuff. But whatever the format this story is played or how the end turns out, it is definitely a good one that you should not miss.

That is why if we had a chance to do and change something, we should do it right away for we have no Revival to redo another try and undo the wrongs. A happy future might not be guaranteed but, to borrow and modify from Yashiro’s words, as long as you take action, that possibility remains. Because if I had Revival, I would have gone back and not watch disappointing animes. Now I’m stuck in a single timeline and my only way is to watch every darn anime just to know whether they suck or not. This one doesn’t. Thank goodness there is still hope. Never stop believing :-).

Noragami Aragoto

August 13, 2016

I am making a wild guess here. I suppose there are enough people who remember that god of calamity and his freaking cheap services to do anything and that is why we now have this sequel, Noragami Aragoto. And perhaps Yato’s advertising has been so effective that lots and lots of people have been employing his services that he has gained enough money for the producers to create this second season. Wait a minute. You’re saying that Yato is saving to build a shrine of his own instead of giving it to anime producers, right? Oh well, you know how Yato tends to blow all his savings on useless things, right? Right?! And so, Yato might remain a poor God and his dream of getting his own shrine remains a very distant dream, but at least we got a second season. That’s not so bad, right?

Episode 1
It looks like any other normal day for Hiyori. But her soul still easily slips out from time to time. She joins Yato and Yukine doing a babysitting job (for 5 Yen of course!) since the mother had sleepless nights and is now asleep. However Yato senses the room is under siege by an Ayakashi. Yato draws Yukine but the latter is being too sharp and cuts the furniture. Yato refreshes our memory as a lesson for Yukine how to draw a Boundary. Reviewing the situation, this Ayakashi is just an illusion. The real one is the baby’s image in the mirror and it was formed after the baby years a playmate. With the exact strength, Yukine cuts the mirror and destroys the monster. As for the mess in the room, Yato’s great idea: Run! I don’t think 5 Yen will cover all of that. Hanging out at Kofuku’s place, once again everyone cannot believe Yato blew his funds and got conned out to buy another luck charm. This is why he will never ever get his own shrine. While Yato and Yukine are out in the streets to solicit for business, they have to hide since Yato spots Bishamon close by. She is chasing a girl who is being eaten alive by an Ayakashi. After painfully purifying her, she names her Mineha and makes her into her Shinki and lets her live in her household filled with many other Shinki. But Kazuma is worried about her for taking in too many of such spirits because it is taking a toll on her health and it is not getting any better. Her doctor, Kugaha later tells her about that day when Kazuma went missing for a while (from last season). It was to attend an ablution ceremony with Yato. Meanwhile as Hiyori continues to nag Yato to fix her situation (and thus the reason she will be sticking around him more often because heck, he took her 5 Yen!), Yukine meets and befriends another similar Shinki by the sakura tree, Suzuha. He is one of the many servants under Bishamon.

Episode 2
Kugaha meets up with Nora and there is some shady alliance going on between them. Yukine continues to hang out with Suzuha and hears his great stories of Bishamon. He also hears his heartbreaking story about a girl whom he is still waiting to show up at the sakura tree as promised. Every summer, Tomoko who visited her grandma wandered to his beautiful flower garden. Each time she visited, it is like she never remembered who he was. He watched her grow up into a fine young teenager till one day she never turned up anymore. He notes the living are quick to forget them but he still has hopes she will remember him if she sees this sakura tree. This causes Yukine to start worrying if Hiyori would forget him. As Suzuha continues to wait at the sakura tree, Kugaha pops up to manipulate his mind and feelings how Bishamon has never called him for ages. This melancholy allowed many Ayakashi wolves to devour him. Bishamon wakes up in cold sweat that night and could feel one of her Shinki has died. But who? That’s the problem when you have too many. The next day as she walks around her mansion and notices the dead flowers, she realizes Suzuha has died since he is the one who tends them. Yukine brings Hiyori to the sakura tree to introduce him to Suzuha but he never showed up. Instead, they caught Yato spying on them since he was sending trolling texts about them getting cosy to each other. When Kazuma spots a blight on Bishamon, he thinks one of the Shinki is tainted and gathers all of them so Kugaha could diagnose who. None. Kugaha then advises Kazuma to be careful and keep his confidence in check as they can’t afford to lose an exemplar like him. It makes Kazuma wonder if he had been mistaken all along. Because when Bishamon comes by, Kazuma doesn’t see the blight on her shoulder anymore. That rainy night, Kugaha confronts Yato at the sakura tree. He thought he could best that unpopular God but he was wrong. Yato is still many times better than him. Yato has an idea what has happened as Kugaha takes his leave after learning his lesson the hard way. But no matter, his plan to make Bishamon disappear is already in progress and he is going to make Yato help him do that.

Episode 3
Aiha, a Shinki of Bishamon who is jealous of another fellow Shinki, Tsuguha, is the one who has the blight but since she is in cohorts with Kuguha… Kuguha tells Kazuma about Suzuha’s death so it makes him go investigate further. Then Kuguha goes to fan the fire by whispering to Bishamon he saw Suzuha and Yukine together. Yukine starts to understand why Yato told him to stay away from the sakura tree. He saw him placed a bouquet of flowers there, an indication Suzuha has died. This also means Yato is feeling his pain and he sure doesn’t need Nora to bug him about entangled and unravelled bonds. When Kazuma steps near a shrine, Yukine accidentally pushes him. They fell through a portal that leads them right back to Bishamon’s mansion. If Bishamon sees Yukine, she will… Oh, too late. She gets hostile with Yukine but he starts reprimanding her of not taking good care of Suzuha and even went as far as to mention how he cared for her and kept on smiling so she wouldn’t suffer. She couldn’t even protect a Shinki and this family stuff is just crap. Some of the Shinki start crying and causing great pain to Bishamon. Bishamon questions about Kazuma’s help in Yato’s ablution ritual. He tells her Yato is not her enemy but saviour. She cannot accept it because Yato slaughtered her family. When she fires her gun, Kazuma draws a Boundary to protect Yukine. Immediately she exiles his name from her family. The only person relishing in this family feud is Kugaha. Just as planned… With Bishamon’s executives in disarray because Kazuma was a very good team player, it gets worse when Kugaha tries to take control and put false hopes that they need to focus and not lose their direction. So now Kazuma is crashing at Kofuku’s place. Has her place become a freeloader hostel? Yato is still in pain because Yukine continues to cry over Suzuha’s death. One evening at the park, Yato and Hiyori are attacked by Aiha. They wonder if she attacked because he doesn’t have Yukine with him. But Yato can still best her even if she has a cursed weapon. He tries to extract answers from her but she runs away and in great timing, Ayakashi spiders keep him at bay. They are from Kugaha as he kidnaps Hiyori. Luckily Kazuma was nearby and frees her. He is shocked to see Aiha in cohorts with Kugaha. He paralyzes them with his bind. Even more shocking, Kugaha can still move. Kugaha is a bit disappointed Kazuma’s name wasn’t revoked entirely but at least things are getting interesting. If Kazuma is nameless, he would be immune to his incantations. By the time Yato returns, nobody is around. Only Hiyori’s sleeping physical body.

Episode 4
Kazuma and Hiyori are sealed in a cave. It is dangerous for Hiyori to stay in her spirit form as she will die. Speaking of which, her physical body is hospitalized. Her parents are worried she is in a coma and the doctor detected her breathing getting weaker. Kazuma is trying to think why Kugaha is doing this and his name that his incantation had no effect on. This prompts Hiyori to wonder why Kazuma’s name is different from the other Shinki as they end with Ha. When Gods take on Shinki, so such naming sense would make it like family. Ma was the previous family of Bishamon. Kazuma is the only survivor in which Yato slaughtered them all. While Bishamon also survived, she fell into sorrow for a long time till that turned into hatred. She obtained many Shinki over the centuries to form a new family. Despite this being a kind hearted move, Kazuma has always feared this would be her own undoing. Aiha is getting restless as her body is even more blighted than before. She is horrified to hear Kugaha’s plan (which is also guessed by Kazuma). He intends to replace Bishamon by killing her off. Because the people continue to worship her, a new God will be born under her name. Kugaha will then groom the new God to his own will. But is Kugaha strong enough to kill Bishamon? That is why he is going to have Yato kill her. Speaking of which, Yato thinks Bishamon has abducted Hiyori and is on his way to her place. Because he has no shrine of his own, he begs Tenjin to send him there. He refuses at first but with Hiyori’s life on the line, he agrees with 2 conditions. One of them that his name will not be mentioned being involved in this.

Yato goes on a rampage the moment he arrives. Bishamon is waiting and she too goes berserk. The epic clash has Kugaha anticipating the moment Yato kills her. Because he has drugged and weakened her so it would be easy kill for him. Furthermore, with Aiha feeling guilty as a conspirator, the more reason Bishamon isn’t at her optimum. But she is still able to hold her ground. Hiyori wonders why Yato would go so far so Kazuma explains that he was the one who requested Yato to slaughter Bishamon’s previous family. Long ago when Kazuma was just admitted into her family, shortly after she became blighted. The family became restless when the culprit was never found. Bishamon’s blight got worse. With the Shinki starting to distrust and suspect each other, I believe they too got blighted. Kazuma became desperate. He thought of killing everything and then start anew again as a new God. He heard about rumours of a god of calamity who slaughtered everything with his sword, Nora. He went to beg to Yato to kill his entire family. However he had no means of payment although he would give his life and his name back to his master. Yato agreed to kill them all who are now merged into an Ayakashi with Bishamon being absorbed in the midst. He slaughtered everyone mercilessly and right before Bishamon’s eyes. Sad to say, Bishamon survived the ordeal and her hate for Yato endured. Now Hiyori understands why Kazuma once told her Yato is their enemy and saviour. The battle between the Gods continues fiercely. Yato is separated from Yukine and this allows the other Shinki to bind him. A chance for Bishamon to kill Yato but Yukine uses his body to protect him and gets cut in half!

Episode 5
Yato could feel Yukine’s name has not disappeared. Calling him again, this time Yukine transforms into twin blades! I’m not sure about the science behind this but this kind of transformation means Yukine is a Blessed Instrument. The fight continues until Aiha’s medicine wears off. This means Bishamon is now infected by her blight and this also infects the Shinki she is using. Kugaha awaits her final moments as he explains his goal behind this. He has gotten sick of this place. He doesn’t like how she hoards all those useless Shinki and consider them her family. To further weaken her, Kugaha unleashes his Ayakashi to devour all the weaker Shinki hiding inside the mansion. Hiyori is getting weaker after being in this state for too long. It isn’t the fact that Kazuma’s pounding on the door broke it down. Aiha unsealed it. She regrets what she has done, blaming herself as the source of Bishamon’s blight and wants Kazuma to save everybody. Hiyori wants to come too since she is the only one who can save Yato. Nora hypnotizes Yato to go in for the kill. Luckily he is snapped out by Hiyori’s voice. Although he learns the truth that they weren’t kidnapped by Bishamon, the war goddess has lost all reasoning and continues to view Yato as the bad guy. After all, she feels her other Shinki dying and believes Yato is the one slaying them like before. Her blight has gotten worse. Yato has no choice but to kill her although she will be reborn soon. Before he could do it, Kazuma gets in the way and gets cut by her. He hugs her and gets blighted while he reveals the truth that he was the traitor who ordered the slaughter of the Ma family. He has always wanted to tell her but seeing her sorrow of not wanting to lose another Shinki, he couldn’t bring himself. It was her hatred for Yato that gave her strength too. He blames his misguidance for bringing her pain again. Once Bishamon comes to her senses, she releases her Shinki in use and starts crying like a child that her Shinki are dying again.

Episode 6
Yato calls out to Kugaha and the mastermind pops up. He continues to blame Bishamon for all that has happened. She is supposed to be the mightiest war god but instead played house by bringing in lots of Shinki. She also dragged them into this grudge and blighted them as well. The only way left is to kill herself so that when she is reborn anew, he will probably guide her. Before he could touch her, Yato cuts off his hand. All he hears is a child whining about his mother. If he wants his master’s love, then earn it. As right and wrong concepts do not apply to Gods, this means every move a God makes is righteous. Kugaha summons an Ayakashi to fight Yato but it’s time Yato shows us why he kicks ass. Before he could make Kugaha his next target, Bishamon won’t allow it. She is his Shinki still. She remembers picking him up when he had nowhere to go and how his medicines always helped her. Though, she should never have forgotten the pain stems for her Shinki’s cries. Despite all that, it is true that Kugaha has never blighted her once. In that case, she sees his actions to do this for her sake as righteous. But now she must do what she needs to and releases his name much to his dismay. Bishamon goes to handle the Ayakashi inside the mansion. Yato would have followed too but Hiyori has seen lots of action and drama for today. The remaining Shinki are taking refuge at the spring. The Ayakashi attacks but here comes Bishamon to free her fallen Shinki. It is sad and painful for her to go through this again but this is what must be done. Kazuma wakes up with Bishamon by her side. She tells him Aiha’s ablution was successful and those who survived are recovering well. Kazuma wants his name to be released for he has disgraced her twice. He will only end up hurting her. However she is okay with that as he is human and is allowed to make mistakes. She wants him back as her exemplar since she got lost without him. She lifts his exile and he is more than glad to be back. As to better know her Shinki, Bishamon has an exchange diary with all of them.

Episode 7
Everyone is happy that Yato and Yukine came back in one piece. However Tenjin reminds Yato of his other promise. The other condition was to sever ties with Hiyori. This would mean she will forget all the memories they had. She doesn’t want that and told him she wants to stay with him longer. Eventually he didn’t sever the tie. Hiyori returns to her normal life. She does well enough to go on to the next grade. Yato continues to bug her to join his Yato Club. WTF. Bishamon is being interrogated by the Gods about her recent actions. Her grudge for Yato is not to be mistaken for her grudge to some of these Gods because they know some lower Gods are trying to leech off their name. They are also concerned that masked Ayakashi have infiltrated Takamagahara and regret Bishamon’s action to release him as they could have found out who was behind it. Seems he is a Nora with many names. The recent events have thrown Earth and the Heavens in disarray so Bishamon is tasked to observe the behaviour of every Ayakashi. Yato is being met by one of the Gods of Fortune, Ebisu. He is willing to pay him any amount to buy Yukine as a Blessed Instrument! OMG! Look at all that money! Is he going to sell him? Ebisu even says if Yukine joins him, he will pay him a million every month! Now look at the bling in Yukine’s eyes! Yukine is surprised when Ebisu calls him an exemplar since he risked his life for his master. Ebisu feels a Blessed Instrument is wasted on a God who has to reside in the shrine of others. When Hiyori sees all the cash around, she fears the worst. But Yato says he did not sell Yukine. However if Yukine says he wants to leave, it is his choice.

Yukine talks to Kofuku about being Yato’s exemplar. He is surprised when Daikoku says he is also an exemplar to Kofuku. Although Kofuku says she doesn’t need him to protect her, she did tell him all he needs to do is to raise her when she reincarnates. Each exemplar is different and has their own way of protecting their master so none of them is wrong. Yato gets a call for a job but now that he has money, he is getting picky! Yukine kicks some senses into him to accept the job. After that, they talk about money. This has Yukine deduce that every time his Shinki dumps him, he has Nora to fall back on. That is why he has not gotten rid of her. Yato spots an Ayakashi but it is so small like a flea, he couldn’t catch it. It even stole his money! Yukine notices the Ayakashi loves money and runs back to get Yato’s money. It made him realize that he cannot put his desires first as an exemplar. Yukine then scatters the money all over town! Oh, Yato’s money! He felt the need of doing this because he feels Yato might choose between him or Nora. If that is the case, he must get stronger. This money scattering succeeds in luring out the Ayakashi. Only if Yato isn’t busy trying to pick up those bills… Yukine is serious when he advises Yato to forget about the money. It’s only money, right? Yeah. Screw that. Time to kick some Ayakashi’s ass. Yukine did the honourable thing to turn down Ebisu’s offer but Yato is depressed after losing that cool sum. Hiyori then brings in a little shrine she made just for him. Now he has a shrine to call his own. He is so happy that he cried. Don’t laugh. It’s his dream, remember? As said by Kofuku, ever God would love their have their own shrine because it shows the gratitude and appreciation people have for them.

Episode 8
Ebisu seems to be trying to control a masked Ayakashi. If you are wondering why Yato is ‘harassing’ Hiyori like a boss, it is because with his little shrine, he is now officially recognized in Takamagahara and can even sell merchandise legally! He even has his own little shrine plot but Yukine prefers to stay at Kofuku’s more comfy place. Manabu fails in trying to confess to Hiyori when he tries to thank her for all she did. However Hiyori credits all that saving to Yato. But Manabu doesn’t remember that guy. Learning more from Kofuku, it seems a God will disappear if people forget about them. Even more so for an unknown God like Yato who never existed for anyone. It was a struggle for him to do so in the past. That is why he is so grateful when he got his own shrine because it means somebody remembered him. Daikoku thinks he must have other followers too. Otherwise how can he survive throughout centuries based on that belief. Because Yato was also young and a kid before, it raised a question for Hiyori if he had parents. Meanwhile Yukine seeks Kazuma’s help to train him in using incantation. Well, more practice… Meanwhile Yato sees Nora and wants to end things with her. But she is not happy since he was the one who made her a Nora. Is he going to betray them now? She sets upon her masked Ayakashi wolves to attack him. Helpless and defeated, she says all they need to do is to obey father. Hiyori is worried because Yato is missing for a week. What happened to that drama queen who kept harassing her? So this is not normal? She continues to ask others but they have not seen him. This makes her fear that she might forget him if she continues not to see him.

A mother weeps over her daughter’s murder. The killer only got a prison sentence and not capital punishment because it was his first time. More disheartening, he was smiling during the judgment. Therefore she is seeking Yato’s help to kill him and seek justice for her daughter. Yato and Nora kill him in prison. The deep cut that leaves no traces left police baffled of his sudden death. Nora tries to convince him this is how people appreciate him and that Yukine cannot perform such miracles. Hiyori too has been filling his head with crap and don’t think he can stand on his feet with them. She assures they will not betray him. Bishamon and Okuninushi visit Ebisu who is sick. The latter is not amused because he has been getting sick often. After they are gone, it is revealed his compatibility with the masked Ayakashi failed. All Ayakashi he tries to turn into his puppet will blight him. He needs to rectify this. He gets word that the Locution Brush has been found. Yato and Nora continue to kill wrongdoers. One day Yato realizes he has been in this state for a month. Memories of Hiyori flashes across his mind. He needs to get out and return to her. Nora won’t let him so he goes berserk, even overcoming all the masked Ayakashi wolves. He calms down when father comes in. There is a job for them. Once they are done with this job to rescue a conjurer in the underworld, Yato is free to do whatever he wants.

Episode 9
Yato and Nora are outside the entrance to the underworld. The Ayakashi would be the least of their problems because Izanami, the queen of the underworld is on a far different level than Gods as she is eternal. Nora vows to protect Yato if he is afraid. As they head inside, they are surprised to see Ebisu. This is the person whom father has asked to rescue. Meanwhile the Gods are in a gathering at Takamagahara. Kofuku thought of seeing Yato here but he isn’t. The gathering’s purpose is because they now know who the conjurer of the masked Ayakashi is. They believe it is Ebisu and he will be under arrest immediately and all his Shinki interrogated. This also means his group of the Gods of Fortune will have to remain here. Hiyori seems to have forgotten about Yato. Because she joins her friends on a triple date outing at an amusement park that Yato wanted to visit very much. Ebisu won’t leave this place yet as he needs to find the brush. Therefore Yato had to go great lengths to protect this dude from Ayakashi attacks since he is clumsy. He notices Ebisu blighted so he explains the failed experiments of the masked Ayakashi. Ebisu is interested in naming an Ayakashi like naming a Shinki but it is harder and uses more power. But with this brush which is in Izanami’s hands, he will be able to solve this problem. Speaking of that queen, they saved the trouble of finding her as she brings them to her quarters. Yato is shocked to see her as Hiyori but Ebisu sees her as an old lady of his favourite restaurant, Olive Tree. It seems each sees her differently as an attempt by her to keep them here forever. Izanami is willing to give the brush but on a condition one of them stays here to become her friend. Ebisu plans on leaving Yato behind so they start fighting. Ebisu riles Yato about talking about his very weak existence and on the verge of disappearing. Yato argues back he like any other Gods were born out of people’s wishes and it is only natural he wants to keep on surviving. Ebisu gets the better of him and wins. Izanami is delighted that Yato will be her friend and gives the brush to Ebisu. Yato learns that Nora also serves Ebisu. It is then Izanami realizes this was just a trick and they’re not going to stay. Furiously, she sends her zombies to go after them as they escape. Meanwhile Hiyori is having quite the fun till she realizes she is getting a souvenir for someone she couldn’t remember. It irks her so much that it is bothering her that she cries. What to do but her ‘boyfriend’ to kiss her.

Episode 10
Hiyori must be regretting what happened. When Yukine talks to her, it took her a while to recognize him but when she does, all her memories of them come flooding back. Yukine can’t understand her big hug. With Kofuku haven’t return since the gathering, Hiyori goes out to find Yato. Well, you won’t find him in the living world. He is still running away with Ebisu and he had to sacrifice a few of his Shinki to escape. The latter explains the importance of leaving with the brush for the umpteenth try. As the world is filled with chaos, the reason Gods are needed. But with this brush, he can help bind the Ayakashi and prevent misfortunes they cause. This motivates Yato to protect Ebisu harder. Thinking of Hiyori’s smile? She is doing research on the various God names. Yato is rarely mentioned. She thinks of going to Mayu. Kazuma explains that heaven is in disarray, the Gods of Fortune are being held and Ebisu is blighted. Despite the heavens let his numerous reincarnations slide, this time they are taking action. Kazuma hopes Tsuyu can help find out what is going on further. As she is not really a Shinki and the spirit of a plum tree, she connects with the trees of the world to partially see what has been going on ever since. As the Gods of Fortune are being held, they are told how heaven is going to punish Ebisu as they have discovered Ayakashi masks in his place and many of his Shinki are Nora. Ebisu’s grand scheme has also been confessed by some of them. Okuninushi goes on a rampage threatening to go to war with heaven again. Kazuma picks up Bishamon to get their side of the things done. Hiyori and Yukine are at the gate to the underworld’s entrance but it is sealed and they can’t slash it open. Yato stays back to let Ebisu get away. However his hopes are dashed when the exits are completely sealed off. Yato is captured and about to be done in when Ebisu says he will stay by Izanami’s side. He hands the brush to him to bring it back to the surface as he knows he will die soon but reincarnate later. Yato cannot accept that because he wants to help him. Does he have any desires he wants to do right now? And since he does, Yato takes him and makes a mad dash to escape. Not another chase. Izanami has been fooled for the umpteenth time? But the exits are blocked. Then make one! Ebisu uses the brush to summon many Ayakashi and create a hole. As they are being sucked into the vortex, Yato gets pulled back down.

Episode 11
A Vent opens so Hiyori and Yukine rush towards it. Suddenly Hiyori cannot move. And they are shocked to see Kugaha who is now a Nora since Yukine cannot bind him as he does not know his name. Kugaha tells them Yato is with Nora. As Yukine is weak, Yukine takes him to run while Kugaha continues to attack. Yukine becomes irritated that Yato is with Nora but with Hiyori’s words to believe in Yato, Yukine unleashes a powerful counterattack to knock out Kugaha. When they reach the Vent, they see Bishamon and Kazuma attending to a very blighted Ebisu. He tells them what has happened and hopes they can save Yato. Izanami thinks she has gotten Yato. It’s just his slipper… Yato and Nora are hiding somewhere. Yato remembers Nora never blighted him as a Shinki once. He gets up to look for a Vent but Izanami has found him and drags him away. Hiyori remembers Kofuku can open Vents but the latter tells her as a human being, she cannot enter the underworld as she won’t come back out alive. So Yukine pleads to Bishamon to go save Yato. But the only way for Yukine to enter the underworld is to become someone else’s Shinki. Can he afford to become a Nora? Bishamon assures she will bring Yato back. Kofuku opens the Vent for her to enter but it closes shortly. It could be that Izanami is trying to seal off the underworld. Bishamon finds Yato in a weakened state with Izanami. She reminds her Shinki to concentrate on rescuing Yato and not try to defeat Izanami as this is her home ground. Yato can’t believe they are doing something insane so Bishamon mentions about his hatred for him. Although she knew everything and the massacre of her family was never his fault. She had to hate him to move forward. She can’t believe he has saved her twice and will have to repay her debts. She warns him not to give up because there are others outside waiting for him. Ebisu notices Hiyori and mentions there is another way to bring Yato back and it requires a human from the Near Shore.

Episode 12
The heavens decide to take out Ebisu. Bishamon is entangled in Izanami’s hair. One wrong move and she will be sharply cut. Ebisu explains the only way to save Yato and that is for a human with ties to him to call his name. Hiyori desperately uses this Soul Call into the Vent. Bishamon only comes out when she calls her. So why not Yato? Could it be Yato is not his real name? Unfortunately nobody knows about it because he never told anybody. Perhaps Yato could be regretting that now. He thought of not telling anyone so as not to make them hate and leave him. Now they have bigger problems because the subjugation force from heaven is here. They aren’t going to listen to any reasons as they fire their arrows. Ebisu summons his Ayakashi to stave them off. Bishamon helps him. Hiyori continues to call Yato’s name. She believes it is his real name because he was so happy when she made him a shrine. Then she realizes his writing may be pronounced differently. When she yells out Yaboku, Yato instantly returns. Too bad for Izanami. Alone again, naturally. Bishamon holds off the subjugation force for everyone else to escape. But here comes the mighty lightning dragon, Kiun. Bishamon tells her Shinki to believe in themselves and with Kazuma believing he must be more dominant than Kiun, he manages to strike and bleed the dragon. It’s raining blood! And while Yukine has time to chide Yato for not telling them everything, the subjugation force summons a giant Pacification Ring over the sky. It means you’re f*cked. Because like hell they care about killing mortals now. This is how heaven works? And why do they look like Sith Lords now? But there is always a way. Yato tells Yukine to believe in himself as not only they cut the blast but the giant ring itself! OMFG! With Yato’s past reputation I’m not surprised. But Yukine? Yeah, surprised. You think it is over when the subjugation force traps Ebisu in their ring. Game over?

Episode 13
Yato went to see reincarnated Ebisu (now a little boy) recovering at Bishamon’s mansion. However he kidnaps him and brings him to Olive Tree. Does he have the money? So that’s why he stole Kazuma’s wallet… It is sad this new Ebisu does not retain his memories as Yato feels miserable the last Ebisu died because he felt they could become good friends. As Yato explains the things he did with the previous Ebisu, Ebisu thinks he must be a bad guy that deserved to die. Yato strongly objects that. Flashback reveals after the subjugation force blasts Ebisu with the ring, he was a few moments away from death. Ebisu regrets he wanted to live but soon ‘exploded’. Therefore Yato is now feeling a great regret over this and just wants this chance to apologize to him. Bishamon, Okuninushi and Tenjin are briefed by Kunimi, Ebisu’s new overseer about Ebisu’s goal in obtaining the brush. His desire to control Ayakashi to help people because he believed wealth isn’t the only thing that would make humans happy, has always left him sick and dying many times. The brush is now missing and Kunimi hopes it stays that way as he doesn’t want Ebisu to touch it again. Yato talks to Yukine that he has killed many with Nora. He wants to stop that. Speaking of her, she pops up blaming him for abandoning her but forgives him for completing his job. When Yato asks if Ebisu was killed in place of their father, Nora admits that somebody needed to take the fall. Ebisu just happened to share an interest in controlling Ayakashi. One little push from father and the heavens got all riled up. After Nora berates Yukine for not having what it takes to carry Yato’s burden, Yato does the unthinkable by releasing her. She always smiled like that no matter who died and never changed. He can’t smile with her now. He is no longer Yaboku but Yato. Despite being the god of calamity, he wants his new purpose to be someone who can make others happy. He doesn’t know how to do it and wants Yukine to be his guide. He tells him to do things as it is as always. Since all he can do is kill, then kill the disaster before it strikes. He is his exemplar and will always be by his side. Hiyori is touched by this and prays Yato will become what he wants to be since both of them chose each other. She hopes so because she believes in them. The brush seems to be in the hands of father and he knows about Yato releasing Nora. He is taking a form of a young high school student named Fujisaki.

Hiyori is at a skiing resort with her family. Yato and Yukine are also here because they desperately want to follow her and reveal their failed and silly exploits in getting here. Seems Kofuku and Daikoku are so here. Company trip? Tenjin too. Company trip? Bishamon and her Shinki too! Let me guess. Company trip? Then there is the rivalry between Yato and Bishamon as they try to settle it via ping pong but Yato ended up cutting the table. Meanwhile a psychopath plots the murder of everyone. He first starts by killing Yato! He waits for the next morning to let everyone find the hideous decorated corpse but everyone starts laughing and taking pictures of Yato hanging in his underwear! Baffled he is still alive, psycho dude kills him again via poisoning. Still alive? Yato gets arrowed, shot and even exploded but he still won’t die! It took a while for Yato to realize somebody is targeting him. So he becomes a detective to find the culprit. He accuses Kazuma! Because he might be mad for turning his underwear inside out. But realizing Kazuma didn’t even know that, he changes his accusation to Bishamon. Because he ate her pudding! He continues to accuse others and in the mean time reveals all the untoward acts he did on them previously as their motive for killing him. Yeah, Yato just killed himself many times over. The last straw came when he accuses Hiyori because he has been taking unsuspecting pictures of her and uploading them to social media to spread his Yatoism. It’s a good thing it never caught on. Hiyori beats him up. It is when they see the psychopath kidnap him and throw him off a cliff! Yato still lives! Why won’t he just die?! He reveals he did this to write his next mystery novel. But he has been writing so long and his works were never accepted. When an idol new to the industry got a jump on him, he became agitated. He decided to become a real murderer and create and write real murder scenes in prison. His name will surely go down in history. Yato chides him for his shallow thinking while revealing his own failed pathetic idol stint. Yeah, he only held a concert before cats and pigeons… Don’t ask. He tells psycho guy to pick up the pen and fight instead. He repents his actions and when he learns Yato cannot die because he is a God, he becomes his follower! No kidding! Yato is happy he will right his next novel based on him. However the editor rejects it and recommends a mental hospital! Meanwhile Yato eagerly waits for his book that will never debut… Keep waiting…

Hiyori is surprised when Yato calls her as he wants to take her out to a nice place and treat her. Who’d knew that it is Capyper Land! The place where she got her first uninvited kiss! Oh, the trauma! I wonder how Hiyori is holding it all in. Besides, isn’t it Yato the one who wants to visit this place the most! Yeah, it is his dream! He believes those Capyper mascots are real! Just like Santa Claus, eh? Meanwhile Kunimi seeks Bishamon and Kazuma’s help because while he and young Ebisu are taking photos on Earth, they got separated and lost. As you might have guessed it, Ebisu is at the park and joins Yato’s group. Yato is ecstatic when a Capyper mascot wants to take his photo. Actually he went for Ebisu. How sad… Even Yukine got one… Bishamon and Kazuma see Ebisu safe in Yato’s care. And since they are here, why not check out the place. For the rest of the day, Yato is having great fun. Kofuku spies on him and has this evil thought of ruining his fun only to be stopped by Daikoku. Can’t stand to let Yato have all the fun? When a lost kid mistakes Daikoku as her dad (because they are wearing the same clothes), Daikoku and Kofuku decide to stay and chill. More fun from Yato but it may be tiring for Hiyori as she tries to prevent him from knowing the truth that Capyper isn’t real. Eventually Ebisu wanders off himself and into Bishamon and Kazuma.

Night fall and there is the Capyper parade Yato wants to see badly. But this triggers Hiyori’s trauma. The kiss… Then it turns into a huge commotion when Yato keeps bugging reluctant Hiyori to watch with him or it will damage his social life (what social life?!). But to the crowd, they think it is some lover’s quarrel. Yeah, some high breakup drama this is. Eventually she relents but she is not putting up a smile. That genuine gloomy face makes Yato feel bad. He takes her to leave but that is when she turns around to apologize for all this. She also says she wants to be with him a little longer. This leaves Yato wondering how true those words are. Isn’t this looking a little romantic? Kofuku is enjoying the fireworks when she spots a cockroach. In her fear, she uses Daikoku to crush it, accidentally unleashing a Vent. This causes a little havoc on the parade. Hiyori’s worst fears come true when Yato spots who really is behind the mascot. Middle aged men? Trauma mode on. Just like how kids realize there is no Santa, it is the same for Yato who couldn’t believe this lie. No amount of liquor can cure his depression. But a little Capyper hand puppet play by Hiyori saved the day to make him believe once more. Hiyori receives a letter of thanks from Ebisu as well as some of the photos from the park. She is surprised he took one when she was apologizing to Yato. Yup, it sure looks romantic from this point of view.

Home Is Where Your True Name Is
This season doesn’t disappoint and certainly live up to its expectations. At least from my point of view. Although not perfect at times but at least it brings a reasonably good mix of action, drama and comedy. You’ll be satisfied with the fights and its magic effects. You’ll be satisfied with the steady pace and flow of the plot as well as some of its revelations and progression of certain characters. You’ll definitely be laughing your ass all over whenever Yato gets into his usual idiotic mode. I think it is one reason why we come back this season. Yato can kill without remorse but he sure can make us laugh. Why is it that he is still not a famous God? Maybe that is precisely the reason why… And of course with lots of other potential and development especially that foreshadowing at the end of it all, it looks like it might just get better or worse. But that will be another time if they decide to make another season out of it.

The first half of the series was entertaining and interesting mainly because it was a big conspiracy setting up the 2 big beloved characters of the series on a warpath. Yeah, like Captain American taking on Iron Man, eh? What more, a scheme hatched under their very own nose to make them fight. With their bloodied and raging past between them, all it needed was a simple light of the fuse for the fireworks to go off. It was exciting as well as nail biting rush since you can’t help wonder if they will actually kill each other or only one will emerge victorious. Of course we all know that it will eventually end in the typical path of that the duo will survive, overcome their obstacles and cast away the big puppet master behind it all.

Then came the second half and I felt this one is a bit of a letdown although it is still interesting in its own sense but it doesn’t match up to the awesome epic one that was in the first half. Basically it focuses on Yato trying to shake off Nora as he does one last job(s) for father in hopes he can start anew again. Well, meeting Ebisu in a way was a good thing because Yato finally actually decided to change his outlook and all for the sake of his future and the future of those he cares. The second half’s plot also feels like to forebode a next sequel because I am sure with their father now in the picture, it signals the start of things yet to come. But that of course is another story and another season that I will save for another day. If it happens.

Although there are still comedic elements in this season, I can’t help feel that is toned down. With the kind of story arcs you see this season, it is no wonder. Therefore we see less of Yato being an idiot of trying to solicit business from other people and take a (slow) step closer to his own shrine or even one where he blows his money being scammed to buy useless charms. Hence, this season is more of drama and action as it tries to move the plot forward. The basics and introductions have been done in the first season so if you want to refresh your memory, go watch it again.

It is hard for me to say whether the character development is lacking this season. Because for example the first half as we know is about Bishamon so there are lots of emphasis in focusing on her past and character on how she came to hate Yato and then finally settling her score with everything Yato related. It could have been Bishamon’s season but since they inserted the Ebisu’s arc in the later half, I guess I can’t be saying this season of Noragami belongs to only Bishamon and her Shinki. Old characters like Tenjin and Kofuku didn’t seem as important as they are this season and being in this season feels like so that we still remember that they exist. You know how bad it is for a God when we forget them, right? Even new ones like Okuninushi had potential but with the lack of screen time, nothing more to be said. Then there is Aiha who turned into a good girl after Kugaha’s betrayal. After that despite being called on for missions with Bishamon, she wasn’t standing out that much either.

I think one of the main characters that suffer from the lack of development would be Hiyori. For most of the time she is just hanging around and though her character role does drive the plot like being kidnapped to start the final fight between Yato and Bishamon and somebody who could call Yato’s name to bring him out from the depths of the underworld, there is nothing more about her. After all, she already had her stint in the first season. With the events that have happened, I am beginning to feel that Hiyori doesn’t want her wish to be granted after paying her advance to Yato. There were a few chances for her to do so but seeing she doesn’t want to take them and wants to stay with them a little longer, I guess this sums up about it. Yukine is also not much here but he does grow especially into Yato’s trusted Blessed Instrument. Unlike last season when he did the unthinkable by blighting Yato, his only serious worry would be to be Yato’s exclusive Shinki or Nora. Competition is good, right?

As for Yato, now that Hiyori has created a personal shrine for him, does this mean he doesn’t need to solicit for more cheap business to get his own? I mean, doesn’t he want to have a bigger one and one that is filled with all his dreams and desires (as comically described in the first season). I suppose not. He has a place to call his own now. But still he continues to freeload in Kofuku’s place… Other people’s things are always more pleasurable to use, eh? Now who the hell can we call to and fix our leaking pipes for the price of 5 Yen?! But if you want to pinpoint of who Yato really is, it is hard because sometimes he is a real scary God if you get him mad. Sometimes he is a serious God and gets things done when it is really needed. There are even points when he became indecisive and unsure. But most of the time he is just a goofy idiot trying to leech off and have fun. And cause everyone some sort of inconvenience along the way. I think it is his way of trying to get attention. Yeah, whatever works…

And as we have seen so far from this anime that nobody has really died or being killed off (not counting those minor characters whom we do not care and whose roles are just solely to be killed), there is always a chance for them to return in the future. Like Kugaha. Bishamon didn’t finish him off. Yato couldn’t finish him off. Yukine certainly didn’t dispose of him completely. So what are the chances he will be back as another bad boy the next time? Don’t tell me he might team up with father and bring another round of chaos to the heavens and earth. Same case with Nora. She might have been released by Yato but the fact she is not dead means that she will still be back to haunt Yato and perhaps make him regret for him doing that to her.

Ebisu’s reincarnation and failure to retain memories of his past selves brought up the question of this hole in the plot. If he has been doing the same Ayakashi controlling method for so long, dying and reincarnating in the process, doesn’t it contradict the rule that a God loses all those memories after being reborn? Unless he left messages of his work behind or orders to his subordinates to remind him to continue his work. That may be possible. Or maybe as said, due to his sincere personality to help humans, his character tends to evolve and think the same as he grows up and ends up trying to control Ayakashi.

The opening theme is Kyouran Hey Kids by The Oral Cigarettes (WTF is this kind of rock group name?!). This rock piece has a funky feel to it and this is what makes the song particularly catchy and exciting. It might not entirely fit the overall theme and feel for the series and sounds more fitting if you look at it that it should fit Yato’s theme. But it is not as odd as the ending theme, Nirvana by Tia. After all that dark drama, blood and gore action, suddenly you hear a sunshiny song. How contrasting is that? Like how the opening theme I say is befitting Yato, the ending theme is one that fits Hiyori.

So if you want to see a third season of this series, be sure to remember Yato and the gang. Or you can just donate your 5 Yen and more, flash those bundle of cash in the face of the producers especially Yato so that they cannot refuse. After all, this world is only nothing but money, money and more money, right? Heh. You know how much budget it makes to make another anime despite how freaking popular it is, right? Yato would be freaking happy if his anime ran as long and continuous as that ninja and pirate series. Unfortunately those 2 animes are like Gods and remembered more often than Yato will ever be. Time to get back to making your name the old way by servicing for jobs. I am sure there will be some kind of uproar if Yato decides to increase the price of his service to 6 Yen! Such atrocity! I want my value for my money! Well, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Ojisan To Marshmallow

August 12, 2016

Marshmallows. When you think of them you think of how much they are as snacks during camping times. Yeah, those fluffy sweet little softness that melts in your mouth if you roast them over a fire. And yes, who could forget marshmallows going well in your hot cup of cocoa. Mmm… Yeah, who can hate marshmallows. We all love marshmallows one way or the other. So what if we use marshmallows as a theme for love? What’s that you say? I doubt there had been any films or series using marshmallows (no, Ghostbusters doesn’t count) as part of the romance theme so it was pretty strange when I first came across Ojisan To Marshmallow. Literally, a middle aged man and his unwavering love for marshmallows. No food porn here. Seeing this is a romance genre and that there is a woman who has a crush on him, which sort of romance will win his heart?

Episode 1
Iori Wakabayashi offers fellow colleague, Habahiro Hige his favourite marshmallows. He hesitates if he should have one. So when she closes the offer, he becomes desperate to get one. Each time Hige tries to snatch one, Wakabayashi evades like a Chinese kung fu acrobat. It came to a point where their faces are almost touching each other’s. He backs out but Wakabayashi continues to tease him with the marshmallow. This time she puts it in her mouth and dares him to take it from there. He tries to snatch it with his hands and thus begins another kung fu acrobat. The other colleagues have watched this for the umpteenth time as they tell us how much Wakabayashi likes Hige. At the convenience store, Hige wants to get his marshmallows but they are all sold out. Who the heck would buy them all? Aha… Wakabayashi! She even has the cheek to tell him she can’t eat them all by herself and to come to her place to help finish them. Why not just put some back? She buys them anyway so Hige begs he will pay any price for just a bag. She gives him one free with a condition: Give her a baby! Hige didn’t get her point so he returns the favour by buying a baby sardine sashimi. I guess Wakabayashi is okay with that too.

Episode 2
One rainy morning, Hige and Wakabayashi get caught up in it and took shelter at a bus stop. Another perfect chance for Wakabayashi to tease Hige as she takes out a packet of marshmallows. Hige calls the office to tell about their situation. Wakabayashi is heard in the background making cheeky statements if he wants to lick it, suck it or bite it! The marshmallow! Then she goes into full mode in making ambiguous sexual sounds!!! The boss must sure have a wrong idea about them. After Hige ends the call, Wakabayashi takes out an umbrella from her bag. Shall we get going? Devil woman! But Hige thinks she might have forgotten she had an umbrella in her bag. It is as good as Hige walking in the rain because I don’t think that small umbrella could shield half his body.

Episode 3
On a train ride to work, Wakabayashi once again offers him marshmallows. He would love to have one had not he been too conscious that everyone is looking at them. He thinks it is inappropriate to eat here. Wakabayashi points out it is because this is a women only coach! As they try to hurry to the next coach, a short bump has them stuck between the coach corridor. Wakabayashi has her face pressed against his chest. She tries to feed him a marshmallow but you wonder if she is just purposely messing with his face since she can’t see. Hige can’t understand what she meant when she says it is getting too intense. Flashback reveals she folded her blanket thickly and sank her face in it to feel what it is like to bury her face in Hige’s chest. Then her brother, Isamu came in and saw this embarrassing WTF moment.

Episode 4
A marshmallow factory tour for the kids. Therefore the tour guide is surprised to see Hige part of the group. Could he be one of their parents? At the end of the tour, the kids get to savour the free marshmallows fresh from production. I guess this is also the moment Hige has been waiting for. So good that he cries! He even notes the different colour packaging despite the same contents. When everybody leaves, the tour guide talks to her colleague about this strange man. She points out he is a fairy. Because he always bows to the factory whenever he leaves like as though he worships it like God. It is no surprise since he treasures marshmallows. He may seem odd but they are appreciative of him.

Episode 5
Wakabayashi is out drinking with her female colleagues. She is disappointed because Hige is not here. Of course! I guess she is having some Hige withdrawal symptoms that when she sees beer foam over her colleague’s mouth, she starts seeing her as Hige! Wakabayashi returns to office since she sees the lights on only to find Hige doing overtime. She asks if he wants marshmallows (of course, you silly) so she starts undressing herself! These boobs are her marshmallows that she has been growing for 24 years?! Definitely drunk. As she rests beside him, she starts punching his fat belly. She thought it was a dream but when she realizes it is real, she bolts out of the room instantly.

Episode 6
Isamu thinks his sister who likes hot men is being deceived by Hige. So he is going to prove this fat moustache pig is an animal by hosting a BBQ party for her colleagues. Then he dresses up as a woman and tries to seduce Hige while blaming he tried to rape him. Unfortunately Hige recognizes Isamu. His voice gave it away. Even more disturbing how the female colleagues think Isamu is into guys! Isamu tries to deflect the blame at Hige that he was happy when he touched his ‘boobs’. Wakabayashi then reveals Isamu’s fake boobs as marshmallows… No wonder… Sister is mad at him so Isamu complains to the chief about his good intentions. But the chief thinks the duo are an item because of the ‘sucking’ and ‘licking’. I think the shock got to Isamu. He apologizes to Hige and starts calling him big brother. So he has accepted Hige? Wakabayashi approves of this and Isamu thought of hugging her. She dodges and ends up kissing Hige!!!!!!!! OMFG!!! First kiss tastes like marshmallow… Sis is going to kill him…

Episode 7
Mioko is being molested on a train. The molester thinks her butt is as fluffy as a marshmallow! Hige accidentally drops his marshmallow and when he tries to get it, he trips and falls over the molester. Mioko thinks he saved him. She recognizes him as his colleague. She tries to talk to him and because he smiles, she thinks she has a chance. Mioko acts as a clumsy girl spilling water all over his shirt. But Wakabayashi takes a picture of this scandal? Mioko then offers lots of marshmallow flavours in hopes of luring him with her hidden cleavage. However Hige gets up and walks away. Subsequent attempts to talk to him, Hige does the same thing. Then she finds out it is Wakabayashi fanning the smell of marshmallows to lure him away. Then they realize they are his love rivals. Things are going to get heated up over this fat guy. Yeah, it’s so hot that it is like hell!

Episode 8
Hige is in shock. Because his favourite marshmallow brand will be stopping production! Horror! Luckily Wakabayashi has stocked up on some so if he wants some, come to her place tomorrow. Definitely! You bet there is a plan hatching right now. So Wakabayashi gives money to Isamu to eat out and get a hard-to-get plushie. Seems Hige is at the doorstep 30 minutes early and Isamu easily won the prize and rushed home. The guys meet outside as Isamu learns his purpose here. Because Wakabayashi is busy cooking her exquisite dinner, she didn’t realize she had given Isamu ‘permission’ to take the marshmallows to give to Hige. Imagine to her shock when she realizes what happened. Isamu is going to die 5 times! Not even Hige’s thanks text could stop her. Hige visits the factory to ask why they are stopping production. It is because they are going to make a new packaging with the same taste but 1.5 times more volume. Music to his hears, tears to his eyes. A happy day indeed.

Episode 9
Isamu sees Hige with Mioko and thinks he is cheating his sister. But when he finds out Hige isn’t dating Wakabayashi and is glad she is still pure, Mioko makes friends with him so she could get some juicy stuffs out of his sister and even plays psychology to convince him to break up Hige and Wakabayashi. Mioko talks to Wakabayashi about being normal. It sends Wakabayashi panicking. It seems as told by Isamu, normalcy is a taboo word for her. Isamu talks to his sister about many fish in the sea. But he gave himself away when Wakabayashi realizes he knows about Mioko. When Mioko is tasked to design a character for an amusement park, Mioko wants to take Hige along. Wakabayashi wants to come along too and this time she has came prepared wearing ear plugs. She has done her homework too and knows Mioko’s weakness is her age. Despite listing as 25, she is actually 30 years old! Mioko has no choice but to take Wakabayashi along with them.

Episode 10
At the park, Mioko tricks Wakabayashi that she needs to go to the toilet so that she will go with her. Halfway, she changes her mind and returns to Hige. Mioko tries to ride in the Ferris Wheel with him but Hige seems to be lured away in what Mioko thinks is that marshmallow fragrance trick. Apparently Wakabayashi is waiting at the marshmallow stall. Seeing how they both click, heartbroken realizes she never stood a chance from the start. She tells Wakabayashi that she is giving up on him. But suddenly a change of heart? Because Mioko confesses she loves Hige and wants to go out with him. Hige rejects her. Because isn’t she the president’s girlfriend? Holy sh*t! She admits it but also loves him. Can’t she have both? She is sent crying after Wakabayashi calls her a whore! Well, isn’t it? Hige suggests to Wakabayashi a place they can go together since they are here. The marshmallow stall. But of course. When a woman and her daughter recognize Hige and the little one starts calling him her papa, the greatest shock ever! While Hige reunites with them, Wakabayashi quietly slips away.

Episode 11
Hotspring episode! Mioko tries to fondle and grope Wakabayashi’s boobs. Pervy men love listening to such sounds… Is Hige trying to hold it in? He looks bloated like a marshmallow this way… The marshmallow factory employees had an accident with a marshmallow experiment. One of the marshmallows gets stuck in between Mioko’s cleavage. Hige can’t understand why Mioko smells like marshmallow and she realizes the marshmallow in her cleavage is what he is reacting to. She uses it to lure him away and cajoles Isamu to be with his lonely sister. So when Wakabayashi tries to go after them, her stupid brother clings on to her. Once she gets rid of him, she already lost them. She bumps into the factory employees. Describing Hige, they know he is that fairy. Yeah, Wakabayashi painting Mioko as an evil seductress taking the fairy away. They form an alliance to rescue him.

Episode 12
The factory girls plan to use marshmallow scented flares to attract Hige but seeing they are marshmallow maniacs too, they fall victim to it. At least it proves to be effective because Hige comes rushing towards Wakabayashi. All in good timing too because Mioko was about to get sexy and showing her tits!!! And she thought he was scared away by those J-cup monsters!!! Hige and Wakabayashi talk. She is still reeling from the fact he is married. However he clarifies they are his sister and niece. As for why the niece calls him papa, she mixed up his first name. Wow. You don’t know how relieved Wakabayashi feels. Then she takes this chance to sum up her courage and ask him to go out with her. Surprised, Hige thinks she is drunk and she has no choice but to play along. Hige then mentions he has always thought Wakabayashi hated him because she always picked on him using his favourite marshmallows. Seriously? This guy didn’t get the hint all along… One day, Wakabayashi just hands over a packet of marshmallows to him. Surprisingly Hige wonders if she isn’t going to feed him like before. Very much obliged.

Episode 13 (OVA)
Hige has a dream he turned into a baby. Fancy seeing Hige without his moustache?! If that isn’t bad enough, here is Wakabayashi as a teenager smothering baby Hige in her boobs! Although Hige’s thoughts are of a middle aged man, he cannot control his baby emotions since he starts crying and such. So what is Wakabayashi to do? Bare her tits and let him suck! Hige cannot resist and gives in to his primal instincts. Tastes good, Hige? Feels good, Wakabayashi? Apparently she too is having this same dream and finds it great. In office, Hige panics when she is near him and keeps his distance. The reason why the duo is having the same dream is thanks to those factory girls successfully creating an experimental marshmallow that allows people to have the same dream. How is that f*cking possible? Unless they eat from the same marshmallow, right?

The Marshmallow Man
Well… This series didn’t make me feel like I want to crave for marshmallows… Hah. I know it is unfair to say that since this isn’t a cooking genre in the first place. But can marshmallows be considered as sweets or candies? Because if it is so, that would be right up my alley. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t start fascinating over marshmallows because I figure if I turned into a marshmallow maniac and addict like a certain chubby guy, it is hard to find such ‘delicacies’ from where I come from anyway. Oh wait. I shouldn’t be talking about marshmallows but the series. Heh…

This series had its funny moments albeit they are sufficient if you are looking for some sort of office romance and a little marshmallow taste in the mix. However you’d soon realize that the entire series just revolves around Wakabayashi and her futile attempts to get that dense Hige to realize that she has a crush on him. That is what mostly the entire series is about. A one-sided (marshmallow) love romance. Add in another love rival to make her sweat a little and a little more when it is shown that Hige might be a married man. But eventually it becomes a bit too predictable and status quo in the end. Not that it is a bad thing but it doesn’t have anything else special to make me remember this series in the long run.

Marshmallows are supposed to be the stars of the series but somehow I just felt that they were just ‘tools’. Partly I am to blame for having this sort of expectation. Besides, I know nothing about marshmallows so I am not sure if the marshmallows featured here are real or parodies. Too lazy to even do my research because this series is so short, why bother? Yeah… And since I am not really a marshmallow fan, seeing those delicious marshmallows didn’t really quite make me salivate like how other cooking themed anime shows do with their exaggerated effects and make everything so good that you want to chomp your monitor. Nope. No such effect here. Maybe that is why they managed to keep things simple and enjoyable in its own way.

Character wise, they aren’t too deep. You know as much about them as much as it is shown. Like Wakabayashi and her futile attempts to seduce Hige always backfires. Using marshmallows are like a double edged sword. They do attract Hige’s attention but that is just what it exactly does. His attention is always on the marshmallows and he cannot see beyond the deeper stuff than that. And when Wakabayashi gets a bit bolder, he brushes it off that she is drunk or something. I know it is frustrating but she doesn’t give up. Maybe she could have had more success if she put on a smile instead of that scary poker face? A thought to ponder. If Wakabayashi sometimes teases Hige via sexual innuendoes, can that be considered sexual harassment? Swap genders and roles and we’ll definitely see a clear violation…

Hige on the other hand I suppose is the image of what a marshmallow if it takes a human form. Fat and fluffy. At least his belly. I don’t want to go as far as to say that Hige is a dense and retard because I think he is just a decent man who is more in love with marshmallows than women. After all, marshmallows give you happiness when they fill your stomach and never betray you, right? RIGHT?! OH YEAH! Ahem… It is just that Hige is being considerate and views Wakabayashi as his colleague. I mean, workplace romance isn’t uncommon but I’m sure most of us would love to avoid it seeing how awkward it gets and affects productivity. But his politeness and consideration sometimes seem too suspicious because I get this feeling he is just putting up a show and like Wakabayashi using her teasing to get his attention, his density is just a façade to mask his feelings for Wakabayashi. I mean, for somebody who always teases him using his favourite marshmallows, if he doesn’t like her, wouldn’t he just blow his top for her to stop one day? Didn’t happen. So despite what happened throughout the series, I am just keeping my options and mind open that Hige may harbour hidden feelings for Wakabayashi from the way he (suspiciously) interacts with her. That will be the twist of the series if that ever happens.

Mioko brings in the additional ‘tension’ as she is sexier and bolder. Love is truly blind because when you have girls fighting over a fat guy, it could only happen in anime. Because I believe Hige himself isn’t loaded. Yeah… Anyway, Mioko feels like a ‘time bomb’ in the sense that if pushes Wakabayashi to act to secure her Hige because if she doesn’t, she might get Hige all to herself. Although, even if we all know Mioko has a boyfriend and Hige rejected her, that still didn’t stop her from continuing to pursue the marshmallow maniac. And Isamu… The idiot of the series and big siscon.

An interesting end segment has our marshmallow factory girls hosting this short part in live action. I find it odd that the taller girl is portrayed as a chubby character in the anime although the bespectacled one is the same. Not that kawaii… Anyway, what is interesting is that they show us how to make a few marshmallow recipes. The unfortunate part of it is how short it lasts. I know it is just for fun but I don’t think a handful of seconds is going to cut it. Then I start to notice that each segment is getting shorter and shorter. Like as though it has become a challenge for the girls to conclude their show within the allotted time, in which they always do. But it feels rushed. As it gets shorter and shorter with each passing episode, then it just ‘vanishes’. No more marshmallow recipes? Yeah, who could make something in 1 second? Then it took a few episodes break before coming back but this time they have somebody test tasting and eating marshmallows within a short window. I hope he doesn’t choke…

Voice acting sounds okay. Those familiar to me are Eri Kitamura as Wakabayashi, Tetsuya Kakihara as Isamu and Kana Hanazawa as Mioko. Tetsu Inada is the voice of Hige (Gamagoori in Kill La Kill). For a short series, there seems to be many ending themes and most of them lasting only for a single episode. Unfortunately they sound pretty much similar to each other and none that I find attractive. Whether it is Eri Kitamura singing Message or Labyrinth, Kana Hanazawa doing Ano Toki Mita Tori Wa Ima or Watashi Wa Idol Degasu, Yell by Kaori Taguchi and Machida, Genki Tadousha Uta by Shusei and Marshmallow Factory by Chika Yoshitomi and Nozomi Furuki. The ending credits animation seems to be either of Wakabayashi or Mioko in various cosplay outfits. Are they trying to divert the attention from the marshmallows?

Art and drawing feels average. Nothing special too. Done by Creators In Pack who specializes in other short anime series like Danchigai, Hacka Doll The Animation and Military. Characters look pretty average too with your usual fanservice brought to you from Mioko’s gigantic boobs and Wakabayashi’s sexual harassment innuendos. Hmm… Is it me or does Hige have this uncanny resemblance to Kevin James’ Mall Cop character, Paul Blart? Oh sh*t ! They look freaking similar!!!! I smell a conspiracy…

Oh, I just remembered. The only other marshmallow I saw in movies is that giant marshmallow monster in the original Ghostbusters. Maybe that is why I wasn’t really fond of marshmallows despite that ghostly character looks more cute than scary. Uh huh. And now come to think of it, I once mistake the Michelin Man mascot as the Marshmallow Man’s cousin or something. Looking somewhat similar. I know how different they look now… But still…

Overall, this short series isn’t bad but it just lacks anything special. But just like the marshmallow itself, it is fun and nice to have it in bite size so I suppose this series is rather okay. Fans of marshmallows should enjoy it better, though. Food for thought: Better to have marshmallows in your stomach than one as the shape of your stomach. Heh. Crappy marshmallow philosophy there. Speaking of the fluffiness of marshmallows, I kinda realized my stomach is turning into that similar shape like Hige. But why no girls still trying to attract my attention? I don’t think marshmallows have got anything to do with it. Maybe I lack that bushy moustache…

Dagashi Kashi

August 7, 2016

If watching certain food themed animes like Chuuka Ichiban and the most recent Shokugeki No Souma might be too heavy for you to stomach not because the dishes are bad but they are so good that they want to make you eat them and it hurts your stomach and brains when you realize you can’t, or even foods like breads (Yakitate! Japan) or pastries (Yumeiro Pattisiere) are too much to handle for an average viewer, why not watch something that is of bite size? Is there any? Yes people, you don’t have to eat an entire Toblerone chocolate bar to satisfy your sweet tooth and sometimes only a small pop in the mouth would suffice. No, I’m not talking about M&M’s either. Bet you don’t know that there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of small candy manufacturers that you have never heard of. Some even available in certain regions. And thus that is why we have Dagashi Kashi. A small anime that introduces us to the wonders of those popular and not so popular treats in Japan. They all come in small bite sizes and cheap enough for you to get enough of that sugar rush. Time to see if some of these sweets would bring back the sweet ol’ nostalgic memories of your childhood days.

Episode 1
Kokonotsu Shikada is drawing his manga when his father, You needs to speak to him. About his manga! Father has high hopes of him carrying on as the 9th generation candy store owner but Kokonotsu is bent on walking the manga career. His son even chides him about the bad layout of their candy store that makes children hard to reach and this ‘suggestion’ is probably the reason why You sees him as a great takeover potential. After You heads out, Hotaru Shidare enters the shop. This pretty chick looks like the heroine of his manga! He finds her name familiar. Indeed because her father runs the world’s top candy manufacturer. She has business with You but since he is not around, she challenges Kokonotsu to see if his worthy. I’m not sure about the ranting she did on the umibou and the different flavours available. But it sure makes me salivate! I WANT TO EAT THEM! When You returns, Hotaru and him engage in some silly candy charade. You tries to convince his son to date her but unfortunately she has already someone she loves: The little boy mascot on the snack cover. And you thought it was Kokonotsu, eh? On to serious business, she is here on her father’s request to have You work in their factory. Of course he refuses. The reason being he blames Kokonotsu for not inheriting the shop. So if she manages to convince Kokonotsu to inherit the candy store, he will come work for her? Exactly. And with that, Hotaru will be staying around a little longer. Uhm, welcome?

Kokonotsu patrons Tou Endou, his friend’s cafe. Kokonotsu never knew his father was that famous. When he talks about an odd but pretty girl living with him due to circumstances, Tou’s sister, Saya doesn’t like that one bit and you can see how she takes out her anger by serving her mean coffee to Kokonotsu. It is overflowing with sugar cubes! Kokonotsu can drink them all with no problem because of his sweet tooth. He never likes coffee but her coffee is the only one he can drink. I guess that made Saya feel a little better. As thanks, he gives her some milk coffee candy even though he knows she doesn’t like candies. After he leaves, Tou teases Saya for being so freaking obvious she has a crush on Kokonotsu. Just too bad Kokonotsu is a bigger idiot. She heads out after having her fill beating him up to a pulp. That is when she finds Hotaru stuck in the paddy mud! Don’t worry, she is alright. She brings her back to shower. Tou thinking Saya is back enters the toilet (without knocking?) and sees Hotaru’s naked body. As expected another cold beating from sister. Oddly, Hotaru excitedly thanks the unconscious dude in her birthday suit. Hotaru explains she got into that predicament as she was cycling and eating her ice cream. She thought she won a prize and as she peered closer, she lost control and fell down the mud. When Saya asks about her business here, Hotaru dramatically narrates in RPG style about some quest to obtain the power to succeed the legend. That’s you, Kokonotsu.

Episode 2
A kid wins a prize for a free ice cream at Kokonotsu’s store. But Hotaru catches him and thinks he is a spy from a rival industry! Today’s snack demonstration of kinako sticks is brought to you by Hotaru as she tells the incomprehensible snacks war that led to the destruction of the world and thus the kinako sticks are laying in wait just to bring down mankind. Just go with the flow… She eats them but the crumbs fall over her boobs. To solve this problem, she eats it on top of her face but now her face is powdered. Kokonotsu’s solution is simpler. You use one hand as a bowl and once you’re done with the snack, you just lick off the crumbs. Hotaru tries to show off by eating several off them at the same time and also avoid spilling the crumbs. I bet she is talking while doing so and the reason why she gets choked on them. When Hotaru hints to Kokonotsu of becoming an adult with her, only dirty minded perverts would have hoped for something ecchi. You should have known that snacks will always be on her mind. There is this cheeky named beer but contains no alcohol so minors can drink it and not feel left out in the presence of the other beer drinking adults. They have their own little beer part and although Kokonotsu is amazed with its apple or pineapple taste, Hotaru is completely drunk! Don’t even ask. Expect her mood swings, nonsensical rants especially her imitation on the umibou. At least she is a good entertainer.

Kokonotsu and Saya are lazing around due to the heat. It is going to get hotter when Hotaru is here to show off her whistling skills on this ramune whistle. Yup, there is also a sad back story about this candy. The ramune whistle is taunted by others because he cannot whistle well in the beginning. But a few words of motivation from an older generation candy of the similar type has him whistling right. Although Saya doesn’t understand a word, Kokonotsu does. He does? He knows this is part of her plan trying to make him to succeed the candy store. Kokonotsu is personified as the ramune whistle and his dad as the older generation candy. When Saya realizes what is going on and the horror that there will be no more candy store, she sides with Hotaru for him to continue the shop. Hotaru is glad she has an ally now. Hotaru and Kokonotsu explain menko to Saya. A kid’s game whereby you throw your cards on the ground and if you flip other cards over, it is yours. Saya makes her first try and shocks the duo with a successful flip. Hotaru then does a tactic that allows her to flip 2 cards at once. It took her 2 years to master this, you know. She trains Kokonotsu but that guy didn’t make any headway at the end of the day. I suppose Saya is bored and wants to test out one more time. This time she flips 3 cards at once! In addition to be shell shocked, defeated Hotaru gets down on her knees and starts calling Saya her master! Please teach her the technique!

Episode 3
On the hottest day of the summer, Kokonotsu’s store air-cond is about to break down. Then here comes Hotaru to off it and tell him the way to beat the summer heat is to eat butamen. She has Tou bring over a stove to boil hot water. Man, it’s like sauna in here! I’m sure the reason why Tou agrees to do all this is because of the excitement of watching her eating butamen oh so sexy and the sweat soaking through her clothes makes her bra visible. Yeah, he didn’t pass out from the heat. A different kind of heat if I should say. Hotaru disallows Kokonotsu to turn the air-cond back on but when he mentions the candies will go bad this way, I guess she has to give in. Candies are most important, right? However the air-cond is not working. That is when Tou suggests going to the pool. The guys must be excited to see the girls in swimsuit. But no girls… And You is there working as a lifeguard because the candy store doesn’t make much income. Feeling guilty for leaving the store unattended, Kokonotsu? When Hotaru arrives, Tou is a little disappointed because she is wearing a jacket to cover up those great boobs. It is revealed this entire pool plot is schemed by You and Hotaru. Yup, that being poor part was just a lie. They have hidden jelly snacks at the bottom of the pool. Upon discovering them, this will make Kokonotsu discover the joy of candies and thus increase his interest in carrying on the candy store. Despite finding many jelly snacks, there is a sign that says no outside food and drinks allowed. It disappoints them they can’t savour the jelly. Plan failed.

Hotaru thinks she might have gotten into the wrong store when she sees Tou at the counter. Nope. Correct store. He is helping to man the counter while he is out for an errand. As she waits, she asks him if he likes sweets. Not really. She falls into shock and cannot comprehend that kind of answer. When she passionately explains her love for candies, he gives a casual answer. Not in her vocabulary? When Tou tries to eat a botan rice candy by scratching off the wrapper, Hotaru is horrified since you can eat the wrapper. She thinks if he is trying to test her if there is a better way of eating them. So she does a baseball throw of the candy into his mouth and the spin and his saliva somewhat unwraps it. Screw all that technical crap! As long as it tastes good. Kokonotsu returns with the air-cond repair men. As extra help is not needed, Hotaru is sent to hang out at Saya’s cafe. Saya fears Hotaru may like Kokonotsu when she asks they have known each other for so long. But actually Hotaru is frustrated that she has never seen her eating candy at his store. That is why Hotaru has got this Seven Neon candy for her to try. Noticing Hotaru is watching like a pervert, the pressure is on Saya to eat it properly! You can tell if she is eating it right by the expression on her face. She bites and rips off the candy. Despite this is the right way to eat it, she feels it is a bit troublesome. Hotaru explains the abundance and cheap supply of candies. It will be a waste for kids to buy and eat them fast so some snacks are devised in a way to ‘put some effort’ in enjoying it. They spend the rest of the day eating Seven Neon and talking trivia about it.

Episode 4
If you’re wondering why Hotaru is blindfolded, it is because today they’ll be having taste testing. After she sings praises about the fugashi, she has Kokonotsu tie her hands and feed her one. Very suggestive, isn’t it? She guesses correctly from the taste. Not to be outdone, Kokonotsu is also blindfolded and tied up as she feeds him a fugashi. However he cannot differentiate this taste and only gets correct because of the way the wrapper is opened. They take turns doing this until Kokonotsu realizes there isn’t much fugashi left and Hotaru might guess them easily. So he brings out one and lets her taste this big and hard thing suffocating her mouth! OMFG! Just looking like porn!!! She wants more of it!!! She guesses correctly the sakurabo. Despite only available in a certain prefecture, You was quite fond of it so he stocked up. At this time, tasting all the fugashi has left them dry in the mouth. Hotaru leaves to get some drinks. But she left Kokonotsu blindfolded and tied up… Hello, anybody? He must have waited for eternity till she returns. Too bad it is his dad! He gets the wrong idea they were in some erotic play! Kokonotsu nonchalantly sketches on Saya and Hotaru so Tou adds his nonsensical comments about their boobs. After some time Kokonotsu left the cafe, Tou texts him that he forgot his notebook. Imagine what will happen if Saya sees that… Hotaru can tell from his expression that he is in a pinch. She gives him the Glico caramel and will race there with him. The entire cross country marathon is about them calculating the calories each sweet gives, the time and distance they can run with it. Yeah, it’s freaking technical (but educational) for a dumb guy like me so I’m just going to skip the whole lot. Because I only know how to eat! After a few hundred metres, they will pop a sweet to replenish energy. On the last stretch, Kokonotsu runs out so Hotaru ‘sacrifices’ hers to give him his last spurt. By the time he reaches the cafe, Saya had already seen the sketches. If you ever wanted to know how Saya looks like when she turns into a demon, this is your chance. I hope all the Glico caramel was worth it. He is going to need it. Lastly, I think Hotaru gave him the wrong candy and thus the time lag in reaching the cafe when he should have reached in time. Otherwise if you think about it, if they started out with the same box of Glico caramel and ate them at similar intervals, don’t you think Hotaru would have ran out of hers too?

Episode 5
You sneaks in some powder for Hotaru to taste. Kokonotsu catches them in the act. Is it something illegal? Well, it is bottled ramune. Kokonotsu remembers they used to have stock of this. What happened? Apparently You confessed it was too addictive so he ate them all! Hotaru tries to persuade Kokonotsu not to blame You and coax him into tasting it. Because it is made of powder, he starts coughing. It’s like when a first time smoker smokes. But still, Kokonotsu chides his dad there is no point in selling them if he eats them himself. And so he decides to cleanse himself with some rehabilitation and Hotaru accompanies him. Late in the middle of the night, Kokonotsu hears sounds from his dad’s room. He is uploading candy videos onto YouTube! It’s embarrassing! So how many views has he got? 13 only?! Stop the embarrassment right now! You wants to test video and uses the Baby Star Ramen as his product. In addition to his lame rap opener, he doesn’t know about the product, has to read from a card and goes off track in his topic. Kokonotsu blows his top and passionately shows him how it is done. Yup, this guy is even more creative in coming up stories for this product than his dad. This video is uploaded as Saya and Hotaru watches it. Hey, at least with 100 views, that’s not bad, right? And Kokonotsu doesn’t even know when dad uploaded it…

The guys run out of cash so here comes the masterful financial planner Hotaru to tell them how to make fast easy money via candy prizes. She uses Yattamen as the source as you could accumulate and win money out of it. However Kokonotsu cautions Tou into believing that because no actual cash value is given but a coupon equivalent to it. Hotaru starts off… And makes a losing start! But hey, this is to show that with her losing streak, she has developed a way to identify a winning candy. Something to do about the packaging. She lost anyway. In fact, Kokonotsu knows better about some design in the corner that determines it. You shock, Hotaru? Trying it out, the guys win. Hotaru loses… That is when she reveals she has never won a candy prize in her life. Kokonotsu tells her to stay away from gambling but this gives her another reason to continue her gambling ways. This time she wages Kokonotsu’s life to inherit the store on the line. There are 3 grape gumballs in this candy and one of them is super sour. Whoever picks that loses. So If Hotaru loses, she’ll do anything for him. Want to guess Kokonotsu just had a lewd thought? Hotaru is confident she can win this one as the illustration on the packaging will tell her the super sour gumball (which is of course just a rumour). To her horror she realizes the packaging illustration has changed. There is no way to tell now! They pop the gumball into their mouths. The guys have it sweet. Hotaru’s sour face… Chalking up another one for losing streak. To soothe her, Kokonotsu says her talent for gambling is so bad that it is a talent itself. Poor Hotaru, still bitter from her losing streak that she runs away crying. Uhm, did she forget about granting Kokonotsu his wish?

Episode 6
Hotaru calls the gang so she could show off her long Super String Q. It is some elastic jelly in which you can play with it too. This makes Tou remember about Maken Gummies in which there is an elastic hand toy in it. He demonstrates its ‘true purpose’ by whipping up Saya’s skirt! Wow. Look how far Tou flew. Hotaru explains the many creativity kids used to play with the jelly but can it be edible after that? Suddenly she hands one to Kokonotsu and challenges him to a tug of war in which if he loses he must inherit the store! Thankfully both break and it is a draw. Phew. Hotaru then takes out a longer one as she whips it around. But it snaps so Kokonotsu in his reflex action jumps and eat it. Hotaru believes this amazing skill makes him a good successor to the store. Since Kokonotsu disagrees, they will settle it via ohajiki. The game they play with it is similar to marbles. If you can hit another ohajiki, it becomes yours. Tou and Saya are natural talents accumulating a reasonable number. Kokonotsu sucks with only a couple and if you think he is doomed losing this challenge, wait till you see Hotaru. She has zero! How bad can she get?! Hotaru notices Saya has a penchant to be great in games despite not knowing the rules. She suggests she should work in Kokonotsu’s place to utilize her talents. Saya is so embarrassed that she punched Tou! So powerful that his sunglasses break and perhaps the first time you’re seeing his true eyes! Hotaru thought she has this giant ohajiki as her trump card. However it is heavy as a rock and she accidentally drops and breaks it. Her losing streak continues…

Saya is deep in thoughts about Hotaru’s suggestion. This brings back memories when she was in elementary with Kokonotsu. He introduced her to this Yoguret candy in which claimed it has nutritional values and thus the reason why kids were successful in bugging their parents to buy it for them. In addition to the nice feeling of popping the packaging, the candy is often used in playing as doctor. Despite Saya calling that as childish, she is hinting to play it with him. He has to! But with Saya as the doctor, she is mostly flustering with Kokonotsu’s close proximity. Yeah, it looks like she is the one who is sick. So they switch roles. But each time Saya wants to get him do something physically on her, all he ever does is give ‘medicine’. Is that what doctors only do?! After she complains, I guess it is ‘surgery’ time. Here is the ‘pill’ for anaesthetic. Before Kokonotsu could do anything, he is horrified he has run out of Yoguret. Guess who ate them all up? She feels bad and tries to console him. However they accidentally slip. Don’t expect something like one atop the other. It’s just has them holding hands and staring at each other. That is already something big if you’re a kid. Saya is just embarrassed remembering this chapter of her life. And when Hotaru tries to introduce Yoguret, instantly Saya and Kokonotsu react in an embarrassing way. Yeah, the memories are still vivid. But Saya is glad that Kokonotsu’s reaction means he still remembered it well.

Episode 7
Kokonotsu and You will be operating a monjayaki stall at the festivals. You is confronted by rival, Tamai who accuses him of selling that instead of candies (there’s some link between monjayaki and candies as explained by Hotaru but I wasn’t listening – it was painful to see her climbing down that tree as she explains). When You threatens to stop sharing Baby Star with her, she lost. Then they quickly make up. Yeah, this happens every year. But the adults ditch the kids alone to go drinking. I bet Kokonotsu didn’t see this one coming. As they walk around the area, Hotaru is interested in doing katanuki. She didn’t listen to Kokonotsu’s advice that the store owner usually will find fault in the katanuki and not payout. She starts chiselling her tulip shaped katanuki. Kokonotsu wonders why she is good at this if this is her first festival. She ordered katanuki pieces as practice before and this is her first time doing it in front of others. Can you do that? With Hotaru in full concentration, Kokonotsu can’t help find her cute when she’s not talking! See?! See this kind of charm for men in a woman?! Then she nails a perfect tulip. Because of the high payout, the guys believe the owner is going to find some fault. But it is so perfect he couldn’t find any fault that he happily just pays her off! Time to spend the hard earned cash. This makes Tou want to try his hands. I believe he had many failed attempts and the final one which is also a high value katanuki is enough to cover his losses. He nails it and is about to hand it over when he trips and breaks it… So sad…

Kokonotsu is not happy he has to help his dad with the monjayaki stall. Then here comes Saya looking cute in her yukata. She is hinting about Kokonotsu have to be here to help his dad. But You is quite the perspective father and lets his son accompany Saya around. He’ll handle it. Tou is interested in trying in hands in making monjayaki as repayment for a free one You gave. Kokonotsu and Saya walk around (a little trivia on the history of floss candy too) and you bet she is enjoying every darn second of this. Till that dense Kokonotsu forgot he should call Tou to join them. Saya gives a lame excuse why he shouldn’t and being the dense kid, he agrees. Kokonotsu plays the goldfish game and his foolproof way fails. This brings back memories for Saya how he did the same thing. He tried and tried but failed. Because of his perseverance, the store owner in the end gave him one for free. Kokonotsu gave that goldfish to her in which she still keeps it in her cafe. How long does a goldfish live anyway? Isn’t it a little too big for its bowl aquarium now? History repeats itself as Kokonotsu couldn’t get one so the owner gave him one for free. He gives it to her. Just then they hear word going around that Tou’s monjayaki is selling like hot cakes. Yes, that guy is really getting good and popular.

Episode 8
Tou narrates there is a calendar in his house that cannot be touched. It has always been on the January page and features a baby. He was curious so as he turns the pages, the picture shows the different stages in a boy’s life. In the December page, an old man with his eyes’ closed. Suddenly his eyes open and blood starts streaming out and before he knew it, his hands were bloodstained! OMG! Don’t tell me such scary stories even if this is what the gang are doing during a typhoon!!! Look how scared Saya is! Tou continues he was bedridden with an unknown illness for 2 months. Mom took him to a doctor and when they x-ray his lungs, there is a ghostly face of his grandpa over it! F*CK!!! Saya is about to beat up her brother when Hotaru concludes the story. The boy remembered he didn’t visit his grandpa’s grave and after doing so, he was cured. Hotaru knows this story because it is based off some summer candy horror collection in which she has read all 144 stories. But when Kokonotsu points out the inconsistencies in the story (why would grandpa curse his own grandchild when he failed to visit his grave?), Hotaru talks about the odd part of how despite main characters in scary stories go missing, how come the story is usually told. I mean, if they died or something, then the story will forever be buried with them, right? This is why. A secret she hopes nobody will tell others. All stories are cooked up by the company’s employees. Yeah, I pretty much figure that out too. Saya is still scared so Hotaru explains about a gum that if given to some ghosts, they will leave. Saya finds it odd that ghosts chew gum… When the lights go out, they panic. You comes in with a flashlight on his face. Of course this freaks Saya out and now he is ‘chewing his own gum’.

Tou is bragging how popular kendama is. However Kokonotsu says otherwise as there are some unsold in his shop. I believe it has been there since he was a kid. To prove him wrong, Tou sucks in his pride and buys 2 of them! So they try it out but they suck. Tou did a dangerous move that bends his thumb the other way! When Saya arrives and picks it up, OMG she is such a natural talent! Saya then wonders why he bought them because they have a few back home and even then he said something about them being popular. I guess he’ll never be good at it… Tou talks to Kokonotsu about being popular. Yes, this pop chocolate has this fortune telling gimmick that is it no wonder why girls love them? So they test out a few stuffs like they both never did homework and the chocolate predicted it to be true. Tou then mentions his wish for a pantsu shot. Will he get it? That is when Hotaru comes by to say she was looking for Kokonotsu and will meet him back at the store. As she jumps off, the guys watch in anticipation her under her fluttering skirt… Did they see anything or not? But surely they are excited by this haitenai phenomenon and how the chocolate predicted something like that leaves them feeling amazed. Total respect.

Episode 9
Saya is waiting for Kokonotsu at his shop. But here comes Hotaru. My, what a painful ulcer she has. She thinks it could be from lack of sleep or stress but not eating too much candy! I know that feeling… Against Saya’s advice, Hotaru pops more candy into her mouth. Now, this WataPachi candy has that ‘exploding’ feeling in your mouth. Think of it like M&M’s but instead of melting it pops AKA explodes in your mouth. And thus it starts hurting Hotaru’s ulcer and compounding the pain. So painful that even Saya can’t bear to watch! But at the end of it, Hotaru might be a masochist since she loves the pain. As long as it is candy related… Hotaru than introduces another candy, UnChoco. Because of the way its name sounds, it can mean to be poop chocolate, something that is bothering Saya. The girls have his UnChoco party (poop party?) making Saya feeling all uncomfortable over this bad pun. Hotaru cannot stop ranting and waxing lyrical about it so when Saya can’t take it anymore and tells her to stop, Hotaru reveals she was actually talking about eggs. Wait. What?!

Kokonotsu is shocked to see Hotaru eating rice. This girl eating rice?! Then she reveals she is from Osaka and used to speak in Kansai accent. I think she is doing so, so she can make lame Osaka puns. And introduce this Sakura Daikon candy that looks like radish but is actually a candy that you can eat with rice. More lame Osaka puns… Yes Kokonotsu. We feel your pain of how annoying Hotaru is today. When she finally leaves (thank God), she says she isn’t actually from Osaka. I guess Kokonotsu figured that out since she was doing bad impersonations of it. Making it worse, he realizes Hotaru used his bowl and finished all his rice lunch! Later, she asks him if he likes boobs. Say what? Did I hear that correctly? You know guys have to think hard when a girl asks that kind of question, right? Either way, we’ll be screwed, right? So he decides to give a mature answer that he isn’t into it. Hotaru becomes depressed and walks away seeing he has no business with him then. Suddenly Kokonotsu reverses his decision that he loves them! Instantly she throws to him an ice cream balloon that she calls boobs ice cream. She has him eat it and as he bites off the top, the melted ice cream ‘exploded’ onto his face. Seems this is an experiment of wanting to know how much to melt the ice cream before she could easily eat it. Kokonotsu insists it is called bomb ice cream because of its shape. But do you eat bombs?! So can you eat boobs too? No, you suck on them! Still, Kokonotsu insists this is the name he has been calling it since young. Likewise, Hotaru too. The only way to settle this argument is to eat it. As she does so, she forgot hers has also melted and it splatters all over her face. Ooohhh… White stuff dripping all over her face, hands and boobs. While Hotaru now understands why it is called bomb ice cream, I am sure Kokonotsu understands why she calls it boobs ice cream. Stimulating…

Episode 10
When Tou is at the vending machine late one night, Hotaru is seen rushing towards him. She sounds desperate… Kokonotsu feels something is off. Because Hotaru has not visit his store for 2 days! He visits Saya’s cafe and she is not there too. Worried, with Saya they go visit Hotaru’s home. My, what a freaking big mansion! Rich people… When Hotaru answers the door, she becomes so scared in seeing Kokonotsu that she faints! They put her back in bed and it looks like she is sick. Even when she wakes up, she is still afraid of Kokonotsu. Did he do something? The scariest part is when she sees the candies he brings for her, she cowers underneath her sheets! Hotaru rejecting candy? That’s scary! Saya thought it was insensitive of him to bring candies for a sick person but Kokonotsu knows something like this won’t put her down. So he tries to coax her out with all sorts of candies but she just remains frightened. It comes to a point where he tries to fan the candy smell to her and when she finally bursts out, she is crying incessantly in Saya’s arms! Poor thing… Doesn’t this make Kokonotsu look like the bad guy?

When she calms down, she shows her ulcer has gotten much worse. After last episode of eating those candies, she made a wish on that pop chocolate that her ulcer would go away so she could taste the new Baby Star ramen when it is launched. However the fortune telling chocolate denied her that wish. Whatever she wished for it was denied, Except for outing. Outing? And so Hotaru started running to who knows where and that is where she bumped into Tou and talked to him. His answer was simple: Temporarily stop eating candy. Of course she disagreed as candy is her life. Then he tells her eating all those candies is what got her that ulcer and she won’t make it in time to taste that new release. Besides, if she stays away from candies for a while, Baby Star ramen will taste much better. This gave her the motivation to do so. Just when you think the episode is over, Hotaru now turns into a zombie and tries to eat all of Kokonotsu’s candies! OMG! Such immense strength that the duo has a hard time dealing with her! Is this something to do with her withdrawal symptoms for candy? She only stops when the cuckoo clock sounds. It is time to take her medicine. Despite looking like a poison that only anime girls who are bad at cooking could make, it actually tastes good and soothing. Kokonotsu feels something suspicious about it and to his worse fear, this ‘medicine’ is actually a mixture of pine, melon and American soda powder! See how disappointed his face is? It took Hotaru a while to realize she was drinking candy, thus her enhanced ulcer. Just when you think she would learn her lesson, she succumbs to the sweet taste and is going to drink it only to be stopped by her disappointed friends. I guess she won’t be making it for the big day.

Episode 11
After Saya learns the truth about Hotaru being here to convince Kokonotsu to inherit You’s store, Kokonotsu can’t help wonder why a big company wants to hire his dad. She is going to show it to them as they hide inside a cramped cardboard box to spy on You manning the counter. I wonder if Kokonotsu can keep his hands (or rather elbows in this case) to himself in such a tight space. All they see is You eating the store’s candy for an hour! It just makes Hotaru jealous that he is eating all that without her! Soon a local kid enters and he brings a girl his age in. Most probably he is trying to win her heart with candies. However he has not enough money! The girl feels disappointed! So young, so b*tchy?! You suggests if he wins a prize from this cola gum, he can get another one. So the boy tries but from his face you know he lost. However You acts like as though he won and gives him another cola gum. The girl is so impressed. That easy to win a girl’s heart?! Oh right. They’re kids… Hotaru explains that a candy store isn’t a place where people come to take a break but also bond with each other. Her father’s company plans to open candy-like stores worldwide and needs candy store owners like him and from what they have seen, he sure has the talents. Kokonotsu isn’t so sure about that but Saya reminds him something similar happened to them. When Kokonotsu introduced her to cola gum, she just kept winning and winning! She is going to put You out of business at this rate!!! Just as Kokonotsu has a better thought of his dad, here he is trying to sneak read through his manga. That is when Kokonotsu busts out from his hiding to confront his dad. Things can get ugly…

Kokonotsu and Hotaru missed the train. Looks like a long wait for the next one in this rural area. While waiting, Hotaru says she needs to suck on something. Really? Did I hear that right? Of course, she will let him suck too. Really?! Oh yeah. Bring it on! Nobody is watching, right?! You must be a dirty minded pervert to think of sucking that because Hotaru whips out the suckable konbu Hamakaze. Not what you expect Kokonotsu? Here is Miyako konbu then. Look at his frustrated and disappointed face… So we have a little history lesson from her about this konbu and how it is more fitting as a train station ‘candy’ instead of traditional candy stores as its small size allows you to keep in pockets and bags and you can suck on it while you wait. Hotaru drinks lamune and shares with him. Indirect kiss is all he is thinking? He won’t be fooled this time… And yes, a history lesson how this bottled lemonade arrived on Japan’s shores. Mainly due to that Perry guy trying to open up Japan and used this bottle as his trump card. Of course feudal lord has never seen such invention and is amazed with its great taste. But because Perry left and he didn’t teach him how to open it, I guess that is how they became friends and Japan opened up to the west. BS, right? It gets a little serious when Hotaru mentions about her goal to become the world’s top candy manufacturer. Her knowledge on candies is already exceptional but spending her time here more than expected is eating in to her time of doing more candy research. So Kokonotsu’s stubbornness is to blame? But she understands he has his own aspirations and will not force him to succeed his place. When the time comes for him to decide, she’ll be waiting. It is like something inside Kokonotsu clicked. Like he realizes something important and about to lose it. He chases after the train she just boarded, calling out to her. Because where exactly will she be waiting?

Episode 12
Saya is shocked when Hotaru asks if she knows what the taste of love is… Holy cow! Well, at least she didn’t first think she was implying something with Kokonotsu. Rather, something yuri! She thought Hotaru is serious in giving her a taste of love when she is asked to close her eyes. Then Hotaru pops a candy into her mouth and Saya is left guessing its flavour. Cherry, right? Hotaru is so happy she guessed correctly from this Sakuranbo No Uta candy. Meanwhile Kokonotsu asks Tou if he wants to be famous. There is this candy that can if you will become famous or not. Kokonotsu accidentally shakes 2 pink candies into Tou’s hands. To his dismay, Tou eats them. This is when Tou explains he was fully aware of his plan. The reason Kokonotsu let Tou try his luck first was because he was confident Tou wouldn’t get a pink candy. By doing so, his chances of getting one will increase. Kokonotsu regrets his busted plan but Tou hands to him a pink candy. He pretended to eat 2 but only ate one. Kokonotsu gladly eats the pink candy and they put up a silly dance. I don’t think they’ll get popular this way. The girls spot them and with Saya noticing Hotaru looking longingly at Kokonotsu and talking about bittersweet love, she fears she may like him too. But then she realizes Hotaru is just being Hotaru as she is just fantasizing a candy mascot instead.

When Kokonotsu asks Tou if he himself has been tying down Hotaru lately, Saya gets the wrong idea it is BDSM style! Tou suggests the fastest way is to ask her directly. Oh, here she comes. Oddly, she asks if there is a smoking section. As they observe her behaviour, Kokonotsu realizes the significance when she takes out a milk caramel candy. In the old days, it was advertised as a substitute for cigarettes. Furthermore back in those times, Japanese weren’t used in western dairy products. Hotaru’s face signifies she wants to know more but there is all about to it that he knows. So when he starts giving examples of different flavours, she gets up and leaves satisfied. He remembers he needs to talk to her and rushes out to chase her. It starts raining and they take shelter in a bus stop. Hotaru then shares her Sakumashiki Drops. Its tin can packaging makes it ideal for any situations but it is just hard opening the lid. She is surprised when Kokonotsu uses a coin to open. Didn’t know that, did you? Yeah, she had always been using her will. He picks up a peppermint flavour he doesn’t like and tries to put it back but she doesn’t allow it because it is against the law. What f*cking law?! He has to eat it since her boobs are too close to his arms. Not bad the taste, right? Kokonotsu then mentions about that train station talk where she would wait for his decision. He feels guilty his deferring is stopping her from becoming a top candy manufacturer. She rubbishes that thought because that isn’t a dream. It is her reality. Besides, she can go on a candy spree anytime and even right now. Despite her goal coming to his place every day to convince him, the most important thing is because she enjoys it. The rain stops and they make their way back.

Sweet Romance
Well, that’s all folks. If you expected some sort of dramatic storyline or even a freaking twist, you would be disappointed. But I think those who would be even more disappointed are those who were hoping that their favourite childhood candies would pop up but didn’t make the cut. Uh huh. There is only so much a dozen of episodes can introduce even at most 4 types of candy manufacturers per episode compared to hundreds and maybe thousands of other obscure ones. Basically the entire ‘plot’ of this series is just to introduce some candies and their history. No violence, no sex. Geez, are they trying to change the age old trick of sex sells? Not unless you count sexual innuendoes…

Although there are a handful of pop culture references especially from the anime (Saint Seiya, Fist Of The North Star, K-ON!, etc), the true trivia stars are the candies themselves. Since I am not very familiar with the candies in Japan, there are none that I recognize. It is very obvious. I don’t live in Japan and many of the candies and sweets are produced for local consumption. Though there are some big sweets manufacturers and some of their products are exported worldwide, but for myself as a kid I wasn’t that exposed to the various candies and even my local ones. So it is with mixed feelings that as I watched the series, it felt sad that I never knew them and probably will never ever get to taste them but I’m glad that by watching them being introduced in this anime gave me that sensation of wanting to try it out. You know, like how I want to eat all those delicious foods in food themed animes. For those who have been fascinated by this series and not a native of Japan, this series might have given you the extra enthusiasm to go check out your own local candies. I’m sure you will find a lot of wonders there too.

I later found out that the term dagashi in this case does not accurately refer to candies as I have referenced it in this blog. While it is not entirely wrong either but it is not exact so to speak. To put it simply, dagashi are cheap and filling snacks and usually popular with children. Therefore not all dagashi consists of candy and certainly not all candies can be classified as dagashi. But I’ll continue to use the candy term for consistency in my blog. Yeah, it will be a pain to change my entire blog for a word although there is technology to easily do so…

Truthfully, this entire series could have been one boring affair and a big advertising promotion campaign to promote Japanese candies had it not been for just one amusing character. Yes, that is right. Hotaru. Right from the start, you can tell that she is going to be an oddball character. An eccentric character. Somebody strange enough that attracts your attention. Therefore instead of telling us the boring grandfather-long stories of the candy’s history and its features, we have Hotaru in her unconventional ways telling us all about it. Be it in some silly exaggerated fantasy or some competition showdown. It is never a disappointment to see what kind of things she will do. The only ‘sad’ thing about her is that she is bad at gambling and is still on a long losing streak that will continue to last forever.

Sometimes she is so confident in what she says, even though you know it is a whole load of crap, you can’t help believe what she says. Quite the smooth talker, eh? But Kokonotsu won’t be easily swayed… Of course she has her faults and not entirely perfect but she isn’t all air without any substance. Her knowledge of the world of candies is quite astonishing and I believe she only revealed bits of them here (due to time constraints and we viewers might not want to be bored with prolonged introductions of the candies which will then look like desperate promotional attempts). As Hotaru is such a confident girl, she lacks the self-awareness that would have many other girls feel embarrassed. That’s right. I’m talking about sexual subtexts and ambiguity here. This particular personality of hers is one reason why we guys watch this show. The motivation to do so. Probably she is divulging in the sweet fantasy of her candies that makes her unaware of the sexual innuendoes she is making sometimes. Or maybe she is that innocent and the word porn does not exist in her dictionary. It is all part of the series’ fanservice. Double treat for horny guys who have a sweet tooth. Am I not right? Imagine the impact of it all if her character has small boobs or as flat as a washboard like Saya. Oops! Sorry, Saya…

Other characters are interesting too but they pale in comparison to Hotaru. Like You who could be Hotaru’s partner in crime in whatever shenanigans to annoy Kokonotsu. I guess life of attending a candy store all day long must be so boring that trying to sneak read his son’s manga provides some cheap thrill in his life. That and eating the store’s candy stock. Hey, if nobody is going to buy them, let’s not let it go to waste, right? Kokonotsu might aspire to be a manga artist but he knows his sweet stuffs well enough so as not for Hotaru to pull the rug under him. Then there is Saya whose only existence is to provide the trope as Kokonotsu’s childhood friend and an unrequited crush. And also to balance out the boobs factor… Haha! Aside that, her only other trait is her natural knack and talent in mastering all sorts of games the first time she plays them. Japan should send this girl to the Olympics and she’ll definitely bring back the gold medal. Unless she is only a pro at children’s games… Finally there is Tou whose character is supposed to be so cool that he wears sunglasses on all occasions even if it is night time. He is supposed to be the joker of the series (like being beaten up by Saya at times) but he has his own merits like dispensing good advice and being truthful.

Trying to add more spice and drama to the otherwise would-be drab series other than Hotaru’s colourful personality is the side distraction of romance. We all know it is not going to happen and yet we still hope for it. Me in particular. It might be a good thing it did not happen because you wouldn’t want some cheesy teenage romance to over shadow the great candies that have been around for ages, right? That is why it goes without saying that Saya will forever never have her love returned as long as Kokonotsu is being a dense guy. On second thought, he might have and is just playing poker face as he thinks Saya might not see him that way whatsoever. And sometimes I think Kokonotsu might be interested in Hotaru and there are a few scanty hints about that but that is just when his thoughts get a little perverted about her. And Hotaru? Her first love will always be candies! No doubts about that! For all you know, she might even marry a candy mascot character in the future. They tried trolling us with a few seemingly romantic hints pertaining to Hotaru but eventually it all boils down to her ambiguous actions that will always be something related to candies.

One minor thing that keeps bugging me in the series is how this town feels like a zombie apocalypse! I know that it is a rural town so it is expected that there would not be many people around. However if you noticed for a very big part of every episode it is like the entire town would just consist of the kids and You. Where the heck is everybody else? Apart from a few people entering the candy shop on and off and maybe some old citizens passing by once in a while, therefore at other times it seems like the entire town belongs to our protagonists! Therefore the festival scene was the only scene whereby it was crowded indeed. It’s like the people were hiding in their houses, only coming out to entertain themselves at the festival and then go back to their eternal summer slumber.

While the art and drawing of the series is relatively standard and simple, I believe that lots of emphasis in this area is given to the candies. It would be a waste and redundant for a series that wants to introduce to viewers about the wonderful Japanese candies and they skimp on this visual area. Because I am very sure that with countless of such candies, visual attraction is important and thus you can see lots of colourful and even amusing art on the wrapper to attract customers to buy them. Furthermore, I think that in the case if the candies are parodied instead of in its original form for copyright reasons (heh, you want to know how many times Google, Starbucks and Window brand names have been intentionally misspelled in animes?), which I think isn’t logical, how would you think viewers who would want to buy that candy for real suddenly cannot find it in real life? I mean, as seen on TV, right? Hence I trust that all the candies featured and given the limelight are a true reflection of their real life counterparts.

And still on the topic of art and drawing, the only character design that stands out the most is of course Hotaru herself. Otherwise with everybody else looking so bland and in a boring sleepy rural town in the midst of the hot summer, the candies will be all that we have to feast our eyes on. That is why coupled in with her eccentric behaviour, her seemingly gothic style dress in such a weather makes her stand out the most. Not to mention her enormous boobs! Seriously guys, would you not be more attentive and listen to Hotaru’s shenanigans had she not been this busty? Another eye candy to feast on! Oh yeah!

Ayana Taketatsu has been quite impressive voicing Hotaru. Although she sounds like many of your typical lively Ayana Taketatsu anime characters such as Momoko from Momokyun Sword, Kirino from OreImo and Mio in MM!, this one takes the cake because she really sounds like she is having fun playing Hotaru. Her voice fits seamlessly into her character that it brings out the best (and perhaps worst) in Hotaru’s eccentric character. In short, she did quite a good job and it was quite fun to hear her play this character in various moods. Keiji Fujiwara is also recognizable as his low soothing voice makes him perfect to play cool older men or father-like figures. So as You here, he fits right in. The rest of the small casts include Atsushi Abe as Kokonotsu (Touma in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Manami Numakura as Saya (Narbarel in Overlord) and Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Tou (Ban in Nanatsu No Taizai).

There is something catchy about the opening theme, Checkmate by Michi. Most notably its very funky, jazzy and boogie woogie tune and style which reminds you of something similar like Kekkai Sensen’s ending theme. The opening credits animation itself is amusing because it parodies some of Hollywood’s movies like Indiana Jones and Star Wars. The ending theme is Hey! Calorie Queen by Ayana Taketatsu, a title that is an apt reminder when you are watching this show and binging lots of snacks while at it, sounds like your typical cute idol music. The ending credits animation is amusing as well. After a couple of episodes with boring animation (which ironically lacks any of it) of Kokonotsu watching TV with clips of scenes from that episode, it changes to one with Alice In Wonderland theme. Who wouldn’t want to miss out on Mad Hatter’s tea party, right?

Overall, to say that this is a sweet series depends very much on your taste for sweet things. If you are the kind who prefers bitter, sour or salty stuffs, well, this series might leave a bitter or sour or even salty after taste in your mouth. Only people with sweet tooth will appreciate this series. Like me. Even though it is sad that I have been cutting down on my chocolate and other sweet dessert intakes for years. Blame the price hike and being poor. So I am relegated to just watching the candies being paraded on the store shelves till I have had my fill of salivating and fantasizing myself eating them. That isn’t entirely bad anyway. Because staying clear of sweets help me to be healthy, right? But then again, eating candies will still always be good for you. What do you mean candies are not good for you in anyway? I’m talking it is good for your soul. Always remember, STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backwards!

Time for another adaptation of a super popular MMORPG into an anime series. Do we need more of this? Apparently, either the series is made to please fans of the popular Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2) so they have something extra to wow over or the game itself is not getting enough subscribers and players like how WoW, LOL and Dota are getting. Therefore Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation may be another step for its creators, Sega to attract more fan base to the game and increase its number of subscribers. Honestly, that is just my theory. Otherwise, why bother to adapt a game into a TV series. From history even in Hollywood standards, games to the silver screen never made a good transition. I guess you’ll never know if you don’t try. Although this anime will be adapting the settings from the game, the series is however a totally new story. A new narrative on its own unlike the one in the game. I suppose it is to keep things fresh so that veterans won’t be bored in expecting the same stuffs and it will attract newbies to the game. I can’t tell since I didn’t play the game. At all.

Episode 1
Itsuki Tachibana is on his way to Seiga Academy. Get it? Seiga as in Sega… Despite his typical main character look, he is stopped by the security for looking like somebody suspicious since he misplaced his tag. Hey, at least he is doing his job. The popular student council president, Rina Izumi assures the security he is a student of Seiga. Then magic. He found his misplaced tag. He meets up with his friend, Kouta Kayano who asks him if has played PSO2. I suppose such games are the trend now so if you’re like Itsuki who doesn’t play it, you’ll be left behind. Rina gives her speech during the opening ceremony. You know how popular she is when boys and girls just swoon whenever she passes by. She is perfect in her academics, sports and other club activities that she could win top model student for 10 years running. Serious. Itsuki is called to see Rina and since he forgot, he turned up late. Rina has decided to make Itsuki the student council vice president since the previous one moved overseas. And her first task for him? Play PSO2! Wow. Now I understand why people like her. But why choose him? Seems his grades and lifestyle make him a suitable candidate. Note, he is not in any club so this also means he has nothing better to do. Wait a minute. Why didn’t they hold elections? Or why doesn’t she listen to some of her student council members as they are against his? So much for democracy, Little Miss Dictatorship…

On the reason why he needs to play PSO2, based on his report and after understanding Seiga’s social network, the student council will see fit a style of management appropriate for Seiga. Yeah, you know how everybody is busy looking at their iPhones these days… But Itsuki doesn’t play online games, can he do it? Well, he helps out in other clubs so this is like nothing, right? Itsuki seeks Kouta’s help to play the game. He left him some instructions since he is currently taking a break from PSO2. After Itsuki creates his avatar, he starts playing and finds himself inside the organization of ARKS. He meets a fellow veteran player, Soro who just changed class. This guy is eager to teach a beginner and blabbing about fate. Just ignore him… The emergency is sounded when ARKS is under attack by Darkers. Itsuki signs up for the mission. As a beginner, does he know what to do? Just this simple rule: See enemy, kill enemy! Luckily he gets help from Soro or else it would be embarrassing if he dies on his first outing. Itsuki earns Soro’s praise when he did a headshot kill without any form of aiming assistance. Sure that is not beginner’s luck? Next day after he submits his report to Rina, she reminds him not to let his current grade slip as it is his responsibility too. Because whether this sight of students obsessed in playing their handheld PSO2 depends solely on him! Wow. That is a big responsibility.

Episode 2
Another typical cliché. A girl who has been living abroad for a long time returns to school as a transfer student. Aika Suzuki is now in Itsuki’s class. She talks and acts like a military personnel but is famous enough that classmates bombard her with questions that she answers like a robot. Like other typical clichés, Aika seems interested in Itsuki as he tails him everywhere he goes. Including the toilet. There is one point Kouta tapped on the back of her shoulder, her reflex is to punch him but she holds back right before it connects. Kouta is no useless guy too because he is already in block position. Aika even freaks Itsuki out as she tails him back to the dorm. Itsuki has a horny dream whereby Rina wants to flirt with him. He must be really disappointed to find it is a dream because he was preparing to kiss her. But not as shocking as he finds Aika on top of him! Another girly scream. So Itsuki has got a bad reputation among some of the girls who become Aika’s groupie b*tches. Not that she cares anyway. Itsuki thought he could let out some steam by playing PSO2 but after a mission, he gets scolded by Soro. He doesn’t understand why so he asks Kouta. Kouta is surprised Soro is his partner because that veteran player is a very famous solo player (Soro = solo?) known as The Aloof Warrior. Kouta explains what Itsuki did to earn Soro’s wrath. Something about his reckless playing despite he was levelling up well. Not that I care anyway. Itsuki didn’t realize that and falls into depression so he hasn’t been sending his periodical reports. He gives excuse that he has been logging in but Rina knows better. From her wild inner ranting, we learn she wants to really chew him out because he has been playing constantly. Oh, she is Soro.

I suppose Soro needs to let out some steam and kill some Darkers but falls into a cage trap. Luckily Itsuki is here to save the day. He is sorry for the other day but since he fought brilliantly, all is forgiven. Apparently you can also enjoy your time in PSO2 by watching a virtual idol concert other than taking side quests. Itsuki resumes in handing in his report. Just then, Aika barges in like it is her own office to question Rina’s rational to choose Itsuki as part of ARKS. Rina has something important to prove. There is something about Ethernet and the boom of online games which is a symbol of communication revolution in this era. Really? Now, the academy is considering banning it but Rina views it is restricting the freedom of students who enjoy the game and thus this is like interfering with their private lives. Really? Or is it because Rina is an avid addict player too? Thus Rina wants to prove that with this, students can still do well in exams and not neglect their studies while enjoying playing this game. So it is like real life ARKS (students) versus Darkers (school authorities)? After hearing Aika’s great records in the game, she assigns Aika to help Itsuki to write his report. She is now appointed as the special adviser to the vice president. You bet everyone is damn shock in yet another dictatorship move without democratic consultation. Aika accepts the job with glee.

Episode 3
Itsuki is being made to do lot of ground work as well as fellow grunt, Yutaka Sasaki. So it is no surprise that Itsuki wants to click with him and be gay with that shy guy but the latter is obviously keeping his distance. Kouta joins Itsuki playing PSO2. Like the noob he is, he is being explained a few terms like role playing (Kouta’s avatar is Koa), how an alias is used for avatar so as not to mix up your real life with the game and yes, trolls. Itsuki plays a quest with Kouta and his regular group. He finds it so fun that he can’t stop ranting before Rina. While Itsuki is out on an errand, he heard a couple of macho construction guys talking. To his shock, they play PSO2 and their avatars are sexy female cat characters in Kouta’s group! OMG! That’s real life and fantasy for you! Soro happened to be passing by so Itsuki invites him to join in a group quest. Since they have a spot open, this cowboy dude, Musashi joins them. However during the battle, he sits there and does nothing while leaving the rest to sweat it out. He even spews a couple of insults. They realize he is the troll everyone is talking about. More high and mighty attitude from him even back at base. What’s more, he is got the cheek to send them a friend request! Naturally Kouta would block him but Itsuki wants to talk and find out more about him since behind every avatar there is real person behind. So this guy goes to talk to him but Musashi threatens to reveal his real identity. Itsuki doesn’t mind and then he did the unthinkable. Noticing how similar Musashi talks like a certain someone, he wonders if Musashi is Yutaka. Everybody heard that and Musashi is so embarrassed that he instantly logs out.

Because of that, Yutaka doesn’t go to school anymore and Rina wants Itsuki to fix this as this will hurt PSO2’s image with the school. He is your responsibility. If he won’t face Itsuki in person, I guess online he will. Yutaka reveals in PSO2 he gets to be his real self. In real life, things never worked out for him. That is why he is so envious of Itsuki. But Itsuki believes that is not the real him. He knows the real Yutaka is a nice person. I guess that seals it. Musashi apologizes to everyone for trolling and they forgive him out of respect for Itsuki. Now when they go on quests, Musashi doesn’t want anybody to help and will destroy all those mother f*ckers himself! Yeehaw!!! He didn’t exactly change but at least is better than before. Rina calls Itsuki to meet her. She is surprised about his method of trying to get to know a person in real life and in the game to become better friends. The purpose of this meeting is so that Rina can reveal she is Soro? Want to scream that louder for the entire world to hear? But this hardly surprises Itsuki because he knew it for a long time. Because he seems to notice both characters somewhat use the same phrases. Heh. At least he isn’t as dumb as he looks. As proof, he tries to imitate all those dramatic lines she says. Wait. He remembers every one of them?! This is so embarrassing. You regret it now, Rina?

Episode 4
Rina seems to be stammering as she tries to ask Itsuki to accompany her this weekend. You mean it’s a date?! Because of that, Itsuki now has this silly grin on his face and even turns down Kouta’s invitation to an annual event. So long, pal. He is going to step into the adult world. Turns out this ‘date’ is an annual offline PSO2 fan event. Disappointed? The reason why Rina was flustering was because it is her first time here. Totally disappointed. Kouta spots Itsuki and when he sees Rina with him, he falls into shock. Betrayed? He is so down that a cute cosplay chick gives him a drink to freshen up. He is energized and goes to find and thank her. However something happened to him… Itsuki is freaking surprised to see the real faces of his online team. That sexy siren, Silver? Just a little girl! He never knew Yumiko and Last Samurai are married with a baby. And that robot Kid is actually a butler-like grandpa! Second childhood? They hang out and after learning Rina is Soro, they can’t help invite her to join in more quests but she prefers to play alone. They even want to ask if Rina and Itsuki are dating but before they could finish their sentence, Rina vehemently protests they are not. They only think that kind of reaction means it is true. Itsuki gets a call from Kouta on PSO2. He needs his help but cannot name the details. Then he goes offline.

The group ponder the predicament he is in and fears that there may be something dangerous going to happen here. They go on this side quest to find him instead of telling security so as not to cause major panic. Because they cannot find him, petty tensions among the group start to arise. Seriously, this group who worked so well online can get into this kind of argument? With Rina’s motivation words to bring them back together, they continue to look for Kouta. Retracing what Kouta has said, they believe he is at the storage room. They find his dropped handphone. Contacting him again on PSO2, after they vow to never abandon him, Kouta reveals the truth… He is in the toilet! Apparently that drink made his stomach upset and he needed to urgently answer the call of nature. Too bad there weren’t any tissue papers, thus the emergency. Everybody is so disappointed that they walked off. Yeah, this is one sh*t quest that stinks. Kouta also learns about Rina’s real identity and connects the dots about this ‘date’. At the end of the day, Rina is flustering trying to thank Itsuki for accompanying her. Kouta interrupted them to brag he took pictures with beautiful cosplay girls but still couldn’t find that prettier one. The thought of her makes his stomach upset again… Speaking of her, looks like she has disposed of something dangerous in the background that would otherwise bring chaos to the convention.

Episode 5
If you don’t understand what the heck Tia and Patty are ranting as information brokers, don’t worry. It’s not important. Because they’re NPCs. Because Aika has been quite close to Itsuki, everyone thinks they are dating. Even Aika’s b*tch girls think he is taking advantage of her. Then there is this part Aika doesn’t know why and how bus routes work so Itsuki clearly explains it to her. It makes Rina jealous and thinking they are really dating. WTF. After Itsuki and Rina finish a student council task to borrow equipment from another school (to save cost), they hang out at a mall and see Aika nearby. Her cute smile somewhat awakens some material instinct inside Rina. WTF. Because of that, she would like to become her best friend-cum-mother and takes her out shopping for clothes, games, etc. WTF. A little girl is crying and it seems her balloon is stuck high up. Don’t worry. Aika can grab it just by jumping! Woah! Did she have a cheat code on?! Another problem: The little girl is lost. Under the pretence of playing hide and seek, they go look for her mom till they find her. This hide and seek incident reminds Rina of her past where she used to be a ‘forgotten child’. Kids always forget finding her when playing hide and seek. And this familiar boy that found her… Itsuki also remembers his childhood days but it is his dream to become a hero and save the world. Doesn’t he find that embarrassing now? As Itsuki is on PSO2, he is surprised to see Rina logged on using a new character that looks like herself and even uses her real name. But with bigger boobs? Does she feel left out that Itsuki and Aika are similar in this context and that she doesn’t want to lose out? The duo are on a quest when they are aided by that cute cosplay chick. Her skills are super awesome and the mission is done in no time. Itsuki finds her moves familiar and believes she is Aika. He wants to add her to his friend list but she declines because she has no time for his games.

Episode 6
Itsuki you lucky bastard!!! Actually the student council are heading to the hotspring for an errand but Kouta can’t help think Itsuki x Rina. The inn is run by Last Samurai and Yumiko. Wife tells husband not to touch PSO2 because he has been slacking on his job. Itsuki feels bad for him because he is addicted to PSO2. You don’t say because Rina forbids him to play PSO2 too! When she was presenting her report to the board, they noticed Itsuki’s grades drastically dropped. Like a slap to her face. That is why this trip is for him to study to get his grades back up. Until then, no PSO2. While he is diligently doing the bundle of homework, a student council member, Mika Konoe drops by just to spite him as she wonders why Rina is so interested in him. Upon finding out the questions are set by Rina and she is already so busy with her other work, Itsuki felt bad so he shapes up to complete them all. He finishes them all up in the dead of the night and heads to the hotspring for a much needed relaxation. He logs on PSO2 just to tell Koa he can’t play. Of course Koa gets the wrong idea that something steamy is happening in the hotspring right now. Even more so when Itsuki needs to immediately log out as Aika is coming in. Her mission of hers ended early so she is here. She doesn’t mind sitting naked with him? Rina sees all of Itsuki’s finished homework. Impressive? Since she cannot find him, she logs on to ask Koa. He is freaking excited to be joined by Rina because what do you know? PSO2 has its own hotspring too. Can’t wait to see sexy Rina, eh? But she logs in as Soro… Where did all the enthusiasm go? So dead… Once she learns Itsuki’s whereabouts, she leaves. Mission failed. Rina soaks on the other side of the hotspring and they communicate via PSO2. Funny, right? She is shocked to learn Aika is with him. But then Aika senses something amiss and she leaps out! Basically, she flew into the sky! The rest heard Last Samurai scream. He claims a Darker popped out from his screen and was chased by a girl. Yumiko thinks he is drunk because of the beer. But more importantly, didn’t he break his promise? Oh sh*t… Itsuki’s grades are back up so he immediately logs in. Feels good to be back, huh? Rina warns him about even playing this game right in the middle of class! He claims he is multi-tasking. Isn’t Rina is doing the same? She is doing it flawlessly without getting caught. That’s how a pro does it.

Episode 7
Mika tries to ask Rina if she is free this weekend. Apparently she has something to do with Itsuki. That guy again… What better way for her to take out her frustrations by beating up Darkers with her cute furball avatar. But she is in a pinch and logs out. Unfortunately her problem doesn’t end there because the Darker pops out from her screen! Aika’s Darker sense is tingling and rushes to the spot but before she gets there, the sense disappears. So is Mika. She has been absent from school since but because the student council is busy with their discussion with other clubs for the festival, they put this at the back on their mind. It only gets worrying when Mika continues to be missing and they cannot contact her or her parents anyhow. Itsuki and Rina see Aika asking other people if Mika plays PSO2. Rina catches Mika in the act of rummaging through Mika’s room for clues. Rina sees a book that Mika has about a place to try out some monkfish dish. It just makes her feel guilty all the times she passed her up. Aika leaves once she found Mika’s handheld on the floor. You may think Itsuki is inconsiderate asking Rina to play PSO2 but his intention is that maybe Mika is online and they can ask around. No headway. Till Last Samurai and Yumiko say they think they might see a girl in their school uniform. It is strange because can avatars in PSO2 be customized to that? They head to that spot and are shock to see Mika enclosed inside a cocoon. Darkers besiege them as they turn on the power to rescue Mika and kick Darkers’ ass. But they are having a tough time and Mika is rescued by Aika and her friend. Although she is in safe hands, Rina is about to be killed by a Darker. This is when Itsuki powers up like a main character to do some kickass killing. Yeah, and he had no idea what happened. Next day, everyone is glad Mika is back although she had no memories of what happened and claims she has been in hospital all the while. Itsuki tries to squeeze answers out from her but I guess the most important thing is that she is safe. So bug off with those questions. Itsuki notes that Aika was there to save Mika but she claims she didn’t play PSO2 yesterday.

Episode 8
Itsuki is suspicious of Aika and tries to tail her but fails miserably. She wonders if he is interested in her. I think he is trying to be funny buy saying yes but a few students heard it and think he is confessing. Aika doesn’t reply and now they think he got rejected. When he remembers about some student council work, they think he is avoiding the issue. Cut this guy some slack! Rina and Itsuki go around asking club presidents to agree on some proposal for the festival. With her begging so cutely, it is hard to say now. Any guy who does is gay! Maybe Kouta is a little jealous so when Itsuki does his cute impression on her behalf, it is just freaking gay! I guess rumours that Itsuki confessed to Aika has spread that Rina seconded the idea that they should be the emcees at the festival’s after party. Even online, he is looking for Aika and Rina is not impressed. And she’s not mad! Doesn’t this sound familiar in real life? Silver is worried because like in Mika’s case, a college student in her neighbourhood also went missing. Itsuki’s purpose in finding Aika’s whereabouts is because she might be in the field where the missing person is. He tries tailing her in real life again. Failed miserably once more. This time he runs into Silver who thinks they are dating. There is a nearby shop that is closed and supposedly where that college student went missing. This is where Aika is going. Silver takes it as Aika dumping him and will be his date. Lolicon? Actually, a ploy to leech him off his money to buy ice cream!

If that is not bad enough, wait till he gets back and Rina is waiting for him furiously! Adding insult to injury, she is scolding him so loud that everyone in the hall could hear about how she doesn’t care who he dates (really?) but he missed out an important student council meeting. This is embarrassing yet pitiful… Itsuki finally finds a field where Aika is. He tries to help her kill a Darker but takes a big damage. He is to be done for but some barrier activated. Then he changes into some super form and unleashes a super Over End blast to cut it into half! Woah! Aika logs out as soon as it ends. Itsuki is not happy and tries to find her in her room. Not so fast! The security is at least doing his job stopping him. In an interrogation, I guess he was too deep ranting about his high school escapades of something similar that Itsuki manages to sneak out! WTF?! Itsuki realizes his hip is pain. How can a damage he sustained in the game be real in reality? It gets worse when a Darker pops out from his handheld. Aika is here to save the day but another Darker pops out. Since she is busy handling one, Itsuki is left running from the other. As he tries to block his attack, he then transforms into his ultimate form. Let’s understand this later because right now he is going to kick some serious Darker’s ass.

Episode 9
They defeat the Darkers and subsequently Aika brings him to her base. He introduced to her commander, Kasura. Kasura gives Itsuki a drink to heal his wounds. Just who are they? For starters, they are like NPCs but aren’t. Huh? That is because PSO2 isn’t a game. It is real. And so are Darkers. Time for a little more explanation. Darkers led by their big boss, Dark Falz are planning to invade Earth. However in order to do so, they need a vessel for Dark Falz. When Itsuki powered up and used it to defeat the Darker, that power is called Photon Arts. That power is what Darkers are seeking. Thus the kidnappings to see who have the highest compatible Photon Arts for Dark Falz. Thankfully Mika was not chosen but because Itsuki’s Photon Arts is very powerful, he is going to be a very regular target. Kasura wants his help to help defeat Dark Falz whom he is sure is already in PSO2. Welcome to Oracle. Itsuki is in high spirits taking out Darkers after Darkers. However with the increase in attacks, Aika tells him to stay away from the fight and this makes this boy mad that he is being left behind. There is one time he didn’t heed her advice and jumped into the game. He almost got defeated by this strong Darker but was saved by Aika’s comrades, Xeno and Echo. He starts feeling afraid when his power couldn’t cut down this Darker. As explained, this is a Boosted Enemy, a Darker that has evolved. Aika continues to tell Itsuki to stay out or he’ll get in their way. Because of that, he is able to focus on his student council job and everyone is amazed and praising his outstanding work. But behind the scenes, no PSO2 means he is a sad cat.

Aika has been away for so long that even her b*tch groupies are worried. They even talk to Itsuki to find out more since they are always together. Since when they are friends? I thought a few scenes ago they were dissing him? Meanwhile Aika is against Kasura’s plan about using Itsuki as bait because she feels he is an ordinary Earthling with a life and has not undergone any official ARKS training despite his high Photon Arts. Since when she is concerned over his boring normal life? Kasura reminds her priorities are wrong. If Dark Falz invades Earth, nobody can have a normal life. Besides if this is the path Itsuki chose, they have to respect it. Another Darker pops up before Itsuki. I guess he remembers his promise so he runs away like a coward. Luckily Aika is here to save his ass. But during that, she gets injured. Now see the mad look on his face. The kind that says ‘you f*ck with my girl, I’m going to f*ck you up so hard’. Yeah… He powers up and destroys the Darker. Literally the monster didn’t even see his moves coming… That furious, huh? Aika wonders why he is fighting Darkers. He can’t sit back and let her protect him. Male ego, I guess. He wants her to let him fight with her and promises he won’t get in the way. She wants him to call her by her first name as this is what her teammates call her for coordinating purposes.

Episode 10
The festival is around the corner but Itsuki seems to be tired. Aika doesn’t want the student council members to blame him as it is her fault in keeping him up all night. Oh dear. That is pretty ambiguous… Rina is worried that Itsuki is working so hard that it may be affecting his health. So she privately talks to Aika about this and you know how she ambiguously puts her words. But Aika says Itsuki tends to handle things on his own so she will try her best to protect him. This talk continues to bother Rina… I think I know why as much as you do. Aika and Itsuki continue to hunt and defeat Darkers and even get backup from the legendary ARKS girl who was once consumed as the dark vessel but miraculously returned alive, Matoi. The festival proceeds as normal. Masaya Kudou of the student council is bugging every pretty girl thinking they are those sexy female cat characters from PSO2. Doesn’t he know he looks like a creep? Then he realizes they are those macho construction guys. You should see the regret on his face… Aika senses a Darker during her maid cafe shift. She makes haste as Kouta tails her. While Itsuki helps Rina at the garbage site, a Darker pops out and attacks him. Wow. See him being thrown like a ragdoll! He is about to be killed and shocked Rina suddenly and instinctively summons her guns to fire that Darker away. Now she is targeted. Although the Darker is destroyed, reinforcements arrive. Aika is surprised to see Rina too has the Photon Arts. Rina is still reeling from the shock of what is happening so she gets captured by the Darker leader. Cue for Itsuki to get mad and slash his way like a berserk hero. Yeah, nobody touches his girl! Unfortunately this time, the Darker escapes. He lost his girl. Shocking, no? Not as shocking as Kouta witnessing the entire action battle. What in blazes just happened?

Episode 11
Kouta needs some explaining but even telling the truth needs time for him to digest. They don’t have that so our heroes rush off to rescue Rina. They find her in a cocoon on some desolated planet. However it seems she is corrupted as she attacks them. Itsuki is weakened by her attack so Aika has no choice but to take him away while Xeno stays back and stalls for time. Itsuki wakes up in Oracle and is told that Dark Falz has merged with Rina. In no time they will become one. Itsuki wants to help but is told to return to Seiga and think about when Rina returns. The student council members are worried that Rina is missing and was last seen with Itsuki. He can’t say much about her circumstances but he promises to get her back and for the time being run the festival. Now Itsuki goes to explain the truth to Kouta. Kouta then goes to tell Yutaka this and because Mika was eavesdropping, she too wants the whole truth. Yeah, soon everybody will know everything… Itsuki is not pleased there is nothing much they can do to save Rina. But as Kasura puts it, is he going to save a girl at the expense of the entire human race? I think a young teenage boy in love might just do it… The situation is already out of his hands so please let them handle this. Of course Itsuki isn’t going to be a good boy and listen to such orders. He is going to save Rina himself. He thought Aika is here to stop him but she assures him her job is to protect him. So focus on saving Rina and get their asses back safely in one piece. Fortunately (or not) Itsuki doesn’t have to play the only hero as Koa and the rest of the known PSO2 avatars/characters are going to join him in this rescue mission. That is what friends are for, right? So no Darkers are going to get in the way of Itsuki. Big or small. Powerful or super powerful. Unless it is super duper big powerful Darker. Then that is why we have an excuse to see the party cooperate to take this menace down. Itsuki and Aika go ahead after a chasm separates them from the group. This giant hideous bug before them is Dark Falz’s final form.

Episode 12
A bunch of mechas are heading this way. They are AIS (ARKS Intelligence Silhouette) and are the most powerful bunch of military unit in ARKS. Want proof? They fire their lasers challenging Dark Falz and beat the latter. Although Dark Falz is damaged, he is regenerating. I suppose AIS is also recharging, the reason they can’t finish Dark Falz now. That is why Itsuki better hurry to save Rina or AIS is going to wipe her out along with Dark Falz. Aika uses her weapon to open a portal to let Itsuki enter Dark Falz. As for how to find Rina, he must sense her. Gee, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack, right? It is proof of how much he feels for her, right? I guess he is taken aback to see smiling Rina and forgot about Suzuki’s words of not letting the darkness get the better of him. Doesn’t he notice her evil eyes? When they shake hands, the darkness immediately engulfs him. Tentacle rape?! However, thinking about Rina gave him the strength to break free! WTF?! He is now at a scene in Rina’s past whereby she was the forgotten child. And you might have already guessed it, Itsuki was the one who found her. And now that he has found her again, yup, there she is right in the core of Dark Falz. After calling out to her passionately, cue for them to reunite by reaching out to each other and join hands. Yeah, so freaking cliché. They power up enough to blast their way out of Dark Falz and rendezvous with Aika. Then the trio combine their power to use a towering sword beam, Star Gazer to cut Dark Falz in half! Woah! With the threat over, Aika now gives her excuse not to return with Itsuki and Rina to the festival because, well, her mission is over. WTF?! Is she trying to be the tough guy? After the duo are sent back, remnants of Dark Falz begin acting up so Aika uses her weapon to absorb it. Rina comes back just in time to host the after party of the festival. It is no surprise she even wins the beauty pageant. Of course she apologizes to all those she made worried. I don’t know what reasons she gave but I believe they must be just glad to have her back. Itsuki narrates the aftermath. He returns to his seemingly ordinary (AKA boring) life. He lost his ability to enter Oracle after that and he attends more offline meetings with his PSO2 group. Rina graduates and Itsuki takes her places student council president. All the while, Aika never returned. There is this cheesy moment Itsuki wants to put his hand on her shoulder but was interrupted with Aika’s return! Great timing, girl. Where the heck were you?! Oh, you are back just to tell them you are leaving for another mission?! WTF?! Sure, they will always be connected no matter how far away with PSO2, right?

When Fantasy Is Reality…
Oh well, at least it is slightly better than some animes of this genre, say, Gunslinger Stratos. You have to agree with me on this one, right? I know the characters feel mediocre and the plot as well because the whole series about studying the effects of playing PSO2 just to convince the authorities that video games do not have a direct correlation with your grades feels like a big BS excuse just to play this game. And hence a story. Besides, whatever happened to that? I assume that it must have worked out well because you see the students of Seiga still playing with their handheld on school grounds. This means the authorities are convinced, right? Uh huh. Rina’s parting gift for you future Seiga generations. So be grateful! After all, what is a Seiga school when you can’t even play a decent Sega game, right?

I know the ending was a bit rushed too. Especially when Aika went a little missing after that. It didn’t explain what the heck she was doing during that period. Then she returns just to tell us she is going away. WTF?! At least she has the decency to show her face. But still, popping up for a short while just to say goodbye is still WTF material. It might not be hinted at the end but I am suspecting that Dark Falz like many of the strongest antagonists in video games around, he isn’t totally destroyed yet. That is why I suspect that when Aika absorbed and contained him in her weapon, it may be some sort of foreshadowing of something. I don’t know. It wasn’t really explained but perhaps it is just to f*ck with our minds like people like me who tend to think too much about this kind of petty stuffs.

At first this series was slightly ‘refreshing’ as compared to the rest of its counterparts in this genre. That is because the setting is about high school kids playing the game. The game world itself is not a setting. So it was different to know that the unlike other animes whereby the fantasy world is real and the characters live or at least play in it for survival, this series features our kids just whipping out their handheld and log into the game if they want to hunt down monsters or take on side quests. Of course that changes in the final third of the series. It wouldn’t be any surprise because whenever anybody logs into PSO2, you can see them interacting like in reality. As though they put on their sci-fi cosplay outfits, change the backdrop and voila! It’s like they are in the game, right? I mean, come on. Do you think the characters can really move that freely with their body actions, facial expression and gesture instead of the standard movements set in the game? So eventually the game had to become the reality, right?

The characters feel pretty generic too. Like Itsuki being the main character despite being a wuss and sometimes sounding like a gay. Because of the power of main character BS, he gets to power up and kick Darker ass with his incredible latent talent. You know it bugs me how he can transform into his Photon Arks power up version during all that but after Dark Falz is defeated, he can’t even do that anymore. It is like they don’t need him anymore and thus blocked him from doing that ever again. Rina, yes she is the beautiful, strong and independent woman till the producers decide to make her the damsel in distress. And Aika as the mysterious transfer student who turns out to be more than meets the eye, ushers our main character into something that affects the destiny and fate of mankind. You know that crap. But at least she doesn’t stay a cold person all the way as she learns to open up and make friends. But prior to that I can’t help think Aika is a little liar because if you noticed whenever Itsuki asks her if she was there in the game, she would deny it. Although, it is pretty much clear that avatar is Aika herself. So why need to hide and cover up, girl?

I think they were trying to force in a little romance because you could see how obvious and cheesy it is and it fails. So cliché that the most popular girl who is also the prettiest in school, has the best grades, good in sports and perhaps the greatest role model for all humanity, starts taking a liking for a pathetic main character. Did you not notice that she is using her position and dictatorship to make him part of the student council and play PSO2 with the flimsy excuse of trying to convince the higher ups about the balance of studies and games? Perhaps her pretty face is the only reason why the listen to her. And with Aika coming in between them, you can see her getting irritated just about anything she hears or sees that concerns the duo. And with Aika who isn’t really good in picking her words, the ambiguity factor just goes up by another notch. Then you notice how Aika has been spamming about her mission to protect Itsuki as of late as though it is some sort of hint he has something for him. She would also defy her orders just to stay true to this single mission of hers. I mean, it does look like that, right?

Other characters feel generic too and just to add some spice and variation in addition to your main character. Like the other members in Kouta’s groupie, you would only remember Last Samurai as a henpecked husband whenever he steps out of line in real life. Oh, and his amazing manly chest hair too. Yumiko the nice wife until her husband does something silly and she’ll not hesitate to give him an uppercut. Does she play fighting games too? Then you need to have the generic lively little girl in Silver and the polite old man, Kid (I think he has another real name but I couldn’t be bothered. Yeah, they should just call him Jeeves or Alfred…). And not forgetting Kouta, the other guy who is also idiotic whenever he gets passionate. Aika’s groupies are to make it look like she isn’t a lone wolf. Other than that, I can’t see any point to have such b*tches as her friends. Okay, they aren’t as bad once you know them but not that it matters anyway. It is just sad that they never see her again. Really. They waited for her to return to their class’ maid cafe but she never did. Because all they got was the short end of the stick of Kouta dressing as one to substitute her! No way! So from what we see in the final scenes, did the producers forget about this little part of at least making her groupie happy of seeing her one last time?

Other characters in ARKS do not make much impact. Like Kasura who might be the commander of ARKS but he sounds like as though he has an ulterior motive and could be a turncoat. Thankfully he just sounds like that. Because Itsuki is the main character, Xeno and Echo are relegated to be lackeys that only make their screen time appearance whenever necessary. And I think poor Xeno got owned big time by Dark Falz (while possessing Rina) when he was letting Itsuki and Aika escape. Be grateful! I don’t even know why Matoi is in this anime for besides that she is a real character from the actual game itself and I suppose is to make fan boys squeal over her cameo. Same case for Kuna as she is like the Hatsune Miku of the series. She is also a character from the real game. So they really have a singing idol in this game, huh? Yeah, what a better rewarding way after a tough quest than to watch your virtual idol sing and dance on stage. I suppose it does motivate some players.

The other members in the student council are also one kind. Like Masaya, another passionate idiotic guy whom you will only remember the time he gets screwed after learning the female avatars online are actually macho men. Gay time? I think he got along pretty well with those guys in the end… Split personality Yutaka is a bigger wuss so that it makes Itsuki look less a wuss. Mika the tough chick and so called best friend to Rina in the student council till a certain main character comes along and then she turns into a slightly spiteful b*tch. Oh, there is also a pair of members looking as emotionless as they sound because they either complete each other’s sentences or in perfect sync with each other. Twins? The Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the series?

Art and drawing are pretty standard although they mix in CGI during battle scenes. Many of such scenes, even the characters are rendered in CGI. I guess this makes sense because when you have the game in CGI, to add to the realism, such animation style is necessary so that traditional hand drawn 2D and computer animation will not clash. Sometimes I think maybe they took out some scenes from the game and place it in here but I could be very wrong since this is an original anime. While the character designs are pretty standard, I can’t help notice that when Itsuki and Rina power up into their Photon Arts outfit, they kinda look like the main protagonist and his girlfriend in Gunslinger Stratos! Yup. Looking very familiar…

I suppose the action sequences are okay but if you are hoping to see some spectacular power moves, my best bet is for you to play the game. Yeah, level up your character and equip him/her with rare power weapons for all those flashy hard hitting critical attacks. As far as this anime is concerned, such fights are hardly anything to shout about. It just gives us reasonable entertainment. If it is the producer’s hope of luring us into the game with such scenes, then I believe it is not effective. At least I can say that on my part. I’m saying this partly because I do not play the game and in fact the first time I got to know that PSO2 even exists is during my stint in another Sega created anime, Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls. Therefore seeing Darkers like mindless drones and when they attack, it doesn’t really feel threatening. It does only because Itsuki is a noob. Eventually I predicted somebody will come save the day or destroy the Darkers. After all, like in many other similar games of the same genre, they exist in large numbers for us players to wipe out and level up, right? There are even comprehensive explanations of the several terms used in the game during the mid-intermission screen. It is really cool if you are interested more about the PSO2 world. But then again, to me it feels like baiting you to go and play the game.

There have been a few misidentifications in identifying a handful of seiyuus. Probably I have seen so many animes that they are all starting to sound alike. Like Kouta, I thought it was Mamoru Miyano because when he goes into his passionate idiotic mode, he really sounded like him. Instead Kouta is voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki (Shido in Date A Live). Same case for Aika as I had a feeling she sounded like Sayaka Ohara but really wasn’t. It was actually Mao (Madoka in Denpa Kyoushi). Thankfully there are some unmistakable veteran ones I got it right like Hiroshi Kamiya as Kasura, Kana Asumi as Patty, Yuka Iguchi as Tia and Satomi Satou as Matoi. Oh, Kikuko Inoue is Yumiko? I would never have guessed. The other casts include Shouta Aoi as Itsuki (Ai in Uta No Prince-sama series), Ayaka Suwa as Rina (Ikumi in Jinsei), Rie Murakawa as Mika (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Emi Nitta as Silver (Honoka in Love Live), Katsuyuki Konishi as Last Samurai (Oga in Beelzebub), Aki Kanada as Yutaka (Chibitalia in Hetalia Axis series), Tesshou Genda as Soro (Metal Knight in One Punch Man) and Hiroyuki Yoshino as Musashi (Bossun in Sket Dance).

The opening theme, Zessei Stargate by Aoi Shouta feels like generic anime rock but I guess for a genre like this, there isn’t anything more suitable than this type of song. Now, the more amusing, if not weird one is the ending theme, Rare Drop! Koi! Koi! One More!, a duet by Rina and Aika. It isn’t so much about this pop idol music but rather the ending credits animation whereby a bunch of Rappy birds (PSO2’s mascot) dance all the way. Then it is like the producers think the birds’ dancing are so cute that viewers might want to dance a long so they put on the bottom right hand corner of the screen an animation of Soro doing the exact same dance movements! I guess it is hard for humans to imitate closely to birds but easier if it is a robot with humanoid features (hands and limbs, so to speak). Because of that, Soro’s dancing feels a bit ‘girly’. Uh huh. Despite the masculinity physical appearance, this ‘girly’ dance makes Soro look gay! I’m not kidding! You will either fawn over the cuteness or cringe hard enough.

Overall, I believe fans of the game can only truly appreciate this series. Or hate it. Casual fans would just categorize it as another MMORPG adapted series with nothing extraordinary standing out. But if this anime series is enough to get you motivated to go try out the game itself and then you get hooked over playing it, looks like Sega is in the right direction. Another mindless sucker walking into our palms, hahaha!!!! Whoops! Sometimes when you are too addicted in playing such MMORPG games, you really become immerse and it distorts your vision of reality that you begin seeing the fantasy stuffs in the game as real. An omen which I am thinking is what this series is foreshadowing. Otherwise why do you have people interacting like real inside the game? And could Darkers popping out of the screens be an indication they have been playing too much? Could it all be just a figment of their imagination? And why is nobody reporting it if it is such a big issue? Either everybody is also hallucinating or Japan’s government do not want to be laughed by the world as their citizens cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy so they are keeping it under tight wraps. Who knows, the entire Seiga and the town might be just one big asylum and sanatorium for extremely addicted people with no hope! OMG! I can’t believe I am saying all this conspiracy theory. Only way to debunk all this by playing the game :-).

Mushibugyou OVA

August 5, 2016

It feels like ages even though it has just been a few years. These days one of the ‘sad’ things about overseas an non-Japanese anime fans is that despite you get to watch the TV anime series you want (legally or not that is not the point we are going to discuss and up to your discretion and conscious), there are probably a whole lot of OVAs that don’t really get their chance of such exposure. In recent years where ‘legal subs’ are now provided in just about a big majority of shows released for a season and thus some believed the reason in contributing to the ‘decline of fansubs’, it is unfortunate that OVAs and specials of many series never got subbed. Even if they do, they take ages. So as in the case of Mushibugyou OVA. While it isn’t very long since it came out, but the time it takes for a group to sub it properly took its toll. You know a ‘busy’ person like me has so many animes to watch and shows like these get pushed behind if it is ‘not complete’. Then there was the fact that there are an unknown number of episodes for the OVAs. Hence I’m not sure how long or forever this will drag out. So I guess I got tired of waiting and just watched whatever that was available. Better to have watched some than never to have any at all?

Bugs are still invading Japan. So why the f*ck are Koikawa, Tenma and Hibachi fighting each other?! Over this cake?! WTF?! Then Jinbei sees the cake and eats it all himself! And he got beaten to a pulp. As Jinbei goes on patrol with Mugai, he sees this kid, Torakichi being bullied and thrown out from a dojo as they don’t want a lower caste to join them. When Torakichi sees and thinks Jinbei and Mugai as samurai warriors, he brings them to his house. His parents aren’t pleased seeing as lowly peasants they must know their place. However Torakichi begs them to teach him to become a samurai as he wants to become stronger and protect his loved ones. As expected, Jinbei is so touched by his determination that he agrees to train him. So we see Torakichi undergoing training from Jinbei sensei and the rest of his comrades soon help out. Except for Mugai who is just watching on as this scene brings back familiar memories of his past. One day as Torakichi goes to defend his siblings from the dojo bullies, Torakichi’s parents tell Jinbei to stop fuelling his samurai delusions because of their lowly social status, that kid can never become a samurai. Watching their son put in so much effort and not realizing his dream can be extremely painful. It may about to get worse because the siblings come back to report how Torakichi lost.

Jinbei goes to pick him up and you can feel his devastated moral that he won’t become a samurai even after giving all he’s got. He thought of becoming a strong and important samurai to stop the bullying but it was all a letdown. Leave it to Jinbei to tell him how much of a samurai he has already become. Because he tried to protect his siblings with all his strength and that itself is the ideal samurai image Jinbei has always been pursuing. Our bullies are getting their just desserts as a giant mantis bug swallows them into its cocoon. Our samurai heroes go into action with Jinbei fighting it upfront while Torakichi climbs its back to free the bullies. Torakichi is going to be devoured by parasite bugs but here comes Mugai in action. Then the rest of the squad members too to show off their bug killing skills. Finally Jinbei destroys the mantis. The bullies apologize to Torakichi but he holds no grudges since fighting to keep people from despair is what it means to be a samurai. More superb motivational advice from Jinbei to not worry about his current status. Continue what he is doing and he will one day become strong. He hopes they can be strong together. And Mugai watching remembers something this similar too as he notes that is why he became strong and betrayed his friends.

Mugai is so deep in meditation that even the animals gather around him! Hibachi is observing this lovely sight when boorish Jinbei had to interrupt. So as Hibachi sings praises about Mugai to Irori, the latter asks if she would instantly accept a wedding proposal from Mugai. Of course! But what if Jinbei says he likes her? This throws her off balance. Speaking of him, here he comes taking her hand to go on a patrol. This only gives more ammo to Irori to cheer for her. Because of this, Hibachi becomes very self conscious as she observes Jinbei helping others in his silly way. Then there is this ‘showdown’. Hibachi and Oharu ‘compete’ to help Jinbei carry his vegetables?! It ends with Jinbei falling on top of Oharu. This ambiguous erotic scene pisses off Hibachi so she tells him off: He will never become like Mugai! Wow. That really hit him hard. Kotori talks to Hibachi about her upcoming mission to destroy a Mushibito (human insect) at a fort. That’s normal but what’s the catch? Mugai is joining her and he personally picked her for this mission since she is the nimblest! You bet she wants to go on this mission. Oh yeah. So excited that she couldn’t sleep all night just thinking about the possibilities (delusions) with Mugai. So the next day as they make their journey, Hibachi realizes something amiss… They didn’t even talk!!! Meanwhile Jinbei seeks Koikawa’s advice on what Hibachi told him. Koikawa punches him and from what I understand it sounds like go-figure-out-yourself.

Mugai continues to ignore Hibachi even when she offers something to eat. Instead Hibachi experiences emotional flutters as she observes how observant he is on his surroundings. Yeah, even careful enough not to step on a pretty flower! KYAAA~!!!!! <3!!!! It is obviously she sees him in an even higher light but why is she comparing him to Jinbei? When they reach the destination, it is raining heavily and Hibachi spots a man being swept away by the current. She tells Mugai about this but she is in for a shock when he tells her he doesn’t care and his priority is to kill this Mushibito. Hibachi couldn’t help feel disappointed and lashes out at him not to say such sad things because this is not what Jinbei will say! She goes off to help the man but the current is too strong for her. Mugai finishes off the Mushibito and even has time continuing his combo to save that guy! Woah! Hibachi regains her respect for Mugai and believes he wanted to exterminate Mushibito fast so he could save this person. Thankfully it turned out like that, eh? She returns and tells this story to Jinbei although she herself feels pathetic for lashing out at Mugai. Jinbei then tells her he has been reflecting deeply about what she said so much so he hadn’t eaten! He hasn’t found the answer yet but he will continue to do things his way and train as much to become like Mugai one day. Okay. Whatever. She is happy Jinbei is being himself but claims she will get acknowledged by Mugai first. Later Hibachi apologizes to Mugai.

F*ck! Let’s just screw everything and put a modern day era high school setting! It begins with the usual cliché. Mushibugyou the new transfer rushes her way to school but bumps into fellow schoolmate Jinbei. A kind soul as always, he takes her there. Meanwhile Nagatomimaru addresses the students in the hall about the cultural festival. The best performance with the most votes will win a luxurious cruise trip and they can bring a partner along who cannot deny. Yeah, it means Nagatomimaru wants some gay time with Jinbei! Mushibugyou is in the same class as Jinbei as he shows her around the school. Nagatomimaru doesn’t like what he sees (it’s like they’re dating) and although Jinbei clarifies, Nagatomimaru wants to come along too. So they visit various characters making their preparations for the festival like Oharu making her dango, Hibachi making her explosives and Tenma reading Playboy magazines for inspiration for his figurines. Really? Jinbei will be doing kendo but he isn’t doing it for the prize as he has a goal and must do it to improve his skills. So the festival is on the way. Various weird acts… Jinbei and Mushibugyou walk around. In the hall, performances that are done and votes casted, their total is displayed on the board. Currently in third place is Koikawa’s yakisoba stand (did he put drugs in them?). Second place is an animal corner. This isn’t exactly a performance because it is Mugai so deep in meditation that the animals gather around him. Of course running away with the lead is Nagatomimaru’s host club for boys and girls. Sexy boys and girls give the other gender their much needed attention for his much needed votes. Nagatomimaru is convinced at this rate victory will be his since there are 2 performances left.

Next up is Oharu and her dango. However she gets clumsy and gives everybody free fanservice. From her boobs in Jinbei’s face and delicious pantsu shots, it is no wonder Oharu’s performance skyrockets up to second place. Only second place? I guess everybody has a little gay pride in them. The last performance is Jinbei’s kendo up against Genjuurou. In a tough battle, Jinbei loses but he doesn’t give up and gets up to fight back. This motivation has everyone in awe as Jinbei continues his power fight. As the votes are being tallied and it could be the big upset of the day, suddenly Yukimura and his men hijack the stage to force everyone to vote for them or else. Before they know it, every other character starts usurping them claiming the top prize is theirs. And all hell breaks loose because it turns into a free for all with every character beating the crap out of each other. Yeah, I don’t think that character is even from this school. The pandemonium ends when the entire school is destroyed. You happy now? Apparently not Mushibugyou. She is most upset. Oh no. She was enjoying Jinbei’s performance and they had to ruin it. Oh sh*t. They’re going to pay! She transforms into her dark form but since she is wearing a school swimsuit underneath, everyone loves it and unanimously votes for her in first place. And then everything all turns out to be a dream of Mushibugyou while she is at some cocoon castle. She notes how Jinbei makes her dream of fun things. Fun? I thought it was f*cking weird!

Sleep Tight, Don’t Let The (Giant) Bed Bugs Bite
I am not even sure how many actual OVAs there are even if currently right now it officially stands at three. One reason that made me say that is because at the end of the final OVA, Jinbei trolls us with his report of how good the first two OVAs were. They were so well received. So does this mean there will be more? Apparently he is ranting how ‘good’ they were because of the Oharu fanservice offered until pissed Hibachi cuts him off. There is no announcement of the next OVA preview like in before so I assume that it is dusted and done but with this trolling, I can’t say because just like monster bugs that suddenly pop up when you least expected it, the OVA too might spring such surprise.

Overall, the OVAs were just nostalgia to me. Okay, partially fun too especially the final one no matter how f*cking silly it was and far it strayed from its usual setting. I don’t know, I just feel that the subsequent episodes are straying a little. It starts off with the usual of everything like we know, Jinbei training and giving hope to a young samurai wannabe and fighting a big dangerous bug because you know, that is what the show is all about. It shows Jinbei never changed as the idiotic guy with a big heart. Never change, Jinbei. Never change. Then the next focuses on Hibachi and her love dilemma which isn’t much considering how we all know a big dick Mugai is. Yes, it shows that Mugai is still a douchebag but he does it in a cool way. So cool that you’d brush it off aside when he does the next slightest good deed. Oh yeah. That is Mugai for you. We love and hate him altogether.

Finally the high school setting just kills it. Just like how ecchi themed animes must have the obligatory beach episode or pool episode, I suppose when you have a feudal setting, sometimes you need to break all that familiarity and go for something different. It only shows how much gay Nagatomimaru is. Ironically Mushibugyou had the least role as a supporting main character even in the final OVA considering this series was named after her. But I guess that is what underdogs do. They steal the very show at the very final moment. Heck, it was her dream after all. Uh huh. A big troll just to reconcile with our minds why they had a high school setting in the first place. And maybe they should go shameless fanservice with a fourth OVA, making use of all the buxom babes and flat chest girls and putting Mitsuki to good use since she makes cameos in all episodes without contributing to anything important except to show off her sexiness.

Right now, my sentiments of the series is already long gone. In other words, I am not really interested or looking forward if they announced another season. But it could be different then because you know, nostalgia. Bugs are one of my biggest phobias and I don’t know how I even managed to sit through the entire TV series without being scarred. So unless they changed those bugs like those insect men into cute bishoujo girls invading the land, then yeah, maybe. Nanto…

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