Feeling… Lazy… To… Watch… This… Series… Yawn… Feeling sleepy… Hold my horses! I know I am a lazy person but I am not this lethargic! Boy, this series almost really influenced me there. Hehehe… You see, Tanaka-kun Wa Itsumo Kedaruge has its titular character with a very ‘unique’ trait for a main character. He is listless. Lethargic. Languid. Sluggish. Tired. Weary. All the time. And I am very sure this is not energy conservation mode. He is so listless that he can just doze off in the middle of anything. Anything! Is this talent or what? How can a main character of a series be so lazy and keep us entertained for a dozen episodes? This I got to see. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from him and apply it in my working life without the risk of getting fired. Oops!

Episode 1
Tanaka is sleeping at the school garden and even falls asleep when his friend Oota talks to him halfway! As usual, Oota carries him back to class where he continues sleeping. Even finding a position to sleep at his desk is tough. If not careful, he might fall off and bang his head on the wall. There is one time he is so comfortable letting the breeze from the window blow him that he just slips off his seat. Like as though he melted. Surprisingly he takes part in PE in hopes of acquiring some strength so his limbs won’t fall asleep. He sees Oota smashing in badminton and wants to emulate. Unfortunately the racket slips off his hand and almost kills the opponent! So as he sits out and Oota plays for his part, Tanaka thinks the world should have a system where the sleeping partner gets the credit too when the active partner works on his behalf. Uhm, isn’t that what is happening too in some parts of the world? While taking break during lunch, Tanaka is so weak that the French bread he eats stabs his mouth and he starts bleeding! Observing how cool, active and attractive Oota is, Tanaka is even willing to give his life to him! Oota knows how listless Tanaka is so when he has a new pose, could he be double listless today? So listless that his mouth misses the water fountain and wets his hair. Even when he is hungry, he is so lazy to eat. Another surprise is that Tanaka can play the piano well! But soon it turns into a creepy tune that scars everyone. When the teacher sees something on his face and wants to pick it, Tanaka screeches at her like a cat! OMG! The most ferocious face he has ever put up?! So lazy this dude that he doesn’t want to go home at the end of school. Oota comes to pick him up and that is when he sees notes for him to go to the dentist. He realizes all the events that has happened that contributed to his behaviour. Oota carries him to a dentist to extract his cavity. Despite his poker face, Tanaka is annoyed. At least he learns his lesson to take care of his teeth properly to avoid having cavities again. Some things you can’t just slack off.

Episode 2
Tanaka prays at a shrine so his life would be peaceful. But God must be f*cking with him because suddenly this small petite girl, Miyano wants to become his apprentice! And she is the very active kind. Seriously, Tanaka doesn’t need this sh*t but she still insists. Surprisingly he agrees to take her as an apprentice since it will take more effort to resist her. She will do her best but ironically she shouldn’t. Is she listening? Yeah, it is not getting to her. She tries observing and acting like him but looks scary and obviously fails. The turning point came when she sees him drinking green tea and also wants one. But it hurt her so much because she prefers strawberry milk that she starts crying. Huh? Even worse when Tanaka changes his drink just to appease her, that same listless look bothers her as she runs away in tears. Huh? What? She then does her research on being listless and presents it to him. He doesn’t understand. Failed? Tanaka tells her being lethargic isn’t for her. She shouldn’t try so hard to be someone she isn’t. Miyano reveals there is someone she likes and although she treats her kindly, she thought she would like to become mature for that person. Tanaka replies that if so he would like her for who she is. So be yourself. Then one day, Miyano suddenly becomes listless! OMG! She is so pro in it that she may have surpassed Tanaka! Really unbelievable. Did her crush dump her? Not even strawberry milk can appease her. So listless that she almost walked into a no entry zone. Luckily the guys take her away and think the sign was too high for her. That is when Miyano returns to her usual active mind. She is now relieved. Apparently with so many mascots appearing on television, she got scared thinking if there was a plot to conquer humans. Her thinking got out of hand that she couldn’t sleep at night. Then she realizes that there must be short people like her in it. Phew. What a relief. So that is what is bugging her? Worse, she didn’t realize she was lethargic all the while. She feels so wasted that she is going to create something new to stress over and try again! Don’t bother… After Tanaka prays to the shrine again for a peaceful (even threatening the deity?), looks like God decides to f*ck up his life again because there is a letter of challenge in his shoe box.

Episode 3
Tanaka is so lazy that Oota had to debone his fish for him! What a good friend! But as he clears his tray, he collapses! Did he eat something allergic? Actually he ate too full that he is feeling way too sleepy. It’s like overcharging a battery? Oota reminds him about the challenge letter. He pretends that never happened. Apparently the person who wrote the challenge letter, Echizen is furious that he never showed up. Now she has found him and wants to fight. He ignores her… Echizen and Oota know each other as they were neighbours, in the same kindergarten and hang out with the same gang. Since Tanaka is too lethargic, Echizen scales down her fight to… A board game? Although she wins in Go, she feels Tanaka won because he made a word from the stone positions. Then they play cards but the wind blew them away. Echizen blows her top and reveals her friend respected him and so she wanted to test him out only to be disappointed he is so bloody weak. When Miyano is here, Echizen happily greets her. So it’s safe to say these 2 are good friends. Tanaka tells Echizen she doesn’t need to worry about Miyano as she has no talent for being listless and he has already excommunicated her. Although relieved, Echizen still wants to beat him up for making her look like a fool. With Miyano praising Tanaka, this only fuels Echizen’s will for a rematch. One day, Miyano and Echizen got into a fight. The latter forces Tanaka to hear her out. Miyano baked cute cookies for her. In fact, too cute to eat so it moulded. This hurt Miyano’s feelings. Tanaka suggests she should have taken a photo of it but she has no handphone. Tanaka is forced to set them up to talk but Miyano gives her the cold shoulder. She tries writing a letter but it sounded like a challenge letter that only fuels Miyano’s anger. Echizen asks about Tanaka and Oota if they ever fight. Obviously they never since being angry takes too much energy and tiring. Besides, dragging out an awkward situation and being stubborn is just silly. Miyano heard that too so she apologizes to Echizen. She reveals the person she is in love with is Echizen. Now they are best friends again. Or lovers? So to stem this problem, Miyano makes chocolates that aren’t cute so she can eat. Macho man chocolates? Echizen sure can but I don’t think the guys want to eat this…

Episode 4
As usual when Oota and Tanaka are running late for class, they bump into their class rep, Shiraishi and ruin her printouts. Now, Shiraishi is one of those perfect and polite girls. The kind that has their own fan-boys-cum-bodyguards. They aren’t taking this lightly but Shiraishi easily diffuses the tension. Tanaka feels guilty like a water flea so this forces Shiraishi to accept their offer to let them help her redo the printouts. So we see the usual Tanaka laziness as he uses the warmth of the printed paper and wants to be its paperweight. Tanaka runs out of steam halfway so Oota has to take him and leave. Once they do, Shiraishi couldn’t be more relieved. She takes away her contacts, puts on her glasses, changes her hairstyle and prolongs her skirt. In short, she looks more like a nerd and is comfortable in this form. Flashback reveals she has always been one but vowed to have a new image upon entering high school as she was always a loner. It was a success. However she realized putting up this idol image is too tiring. Fearing backlash from her friends, she continued to put up this fake front. As Shiraishi starts relaxing, Oota returns to retrieve Tanaka’s forgotten bag. Busted? An awkward silence as Oota takes the bag and leaves.

Next day, she is worried if her identity is found out. While other students treat her as normal, she is wary of the duo. I mean, when Tanaka says she is always shining and doesn’t she get tired of it, she thinks he is on to her. She further observes them like how Oota ties up his hair to avoid mixing with the chemicals. The hairstyle looks so similar that she thinks he is mocking her. As they talk to their friends who ask about the duo staying behind to help Shiraishi, just when Oota is going to reveal the truth, turns out he thought there was another person using the room and not Shiraishi. So her worries were unfounded? Shiraishi then changes to her new looks as an experiment to see if anyone recognizes her. None. Yes! Now she can relax without being stressed out putting up her facade. But when she passes Tanaka, he immediately recognizes her! Busted! That is when she reveals the truth to them. However Tanaka tells her she is productive and inspires others unlike himself who is useless scum to society and gives in to his laziness. Oota tells her to have more confidence in herself. They agree to keep her other identity a secret. Tanaka is relieved that she isn’t perfect and has a secret. Because if she is shinning so brightly, he can’t go near her and it hurts his eyes. Shiraishi tosses away her contacts for glasses and her friends accept her new look. She wonders how Tanaka was the only one who recognized her. This is the truth that she would be better off not knowing: No matter how a girl covers up her looks, she can’t hide her chest size. Tanaka you dog… So you’re using your lethargic to hide your keen observation?

Episode 5
Tanaka needs Oota’s help not only to buy groceries, but he needs to figure out what Tanaka’s sister told him to buy! Obviously Oota gets the wrong idea that Oota’s sister is the same as him and that the family isn’t eating well. Rest assured, his sister is self sufficient. We see Oota knowing his trade very well so much so the housewives start to admire him! Some even want him in their family or marry their daughter! At the end of the day, Oota feels something amiss because why would his sister send her slacking brother to do an errand? What could it be so important today that she needs him to do it? Then he sees a pancake truck outside the store and today is the last day. This must be it! Case solved. Next day, Oota wonders why Tanaka has such strong odour. Apparently it wasn’t pancakes she wanted. It was some pipe cleaner. He got an earful for buying unnecessary groceries and she made them all into his dinner. Parmesan cheese mixed with papaya, parsley and paprika… Yuck… Shiraishi realizes she has been enjoying herself more after Tanaka made her realize. When she notices she can’t help stalk him, she realizes she is in love with him! She confides in her friends. They’re pretty cool about it. Although they are worried about her bodyguards who won’t take likely to it, they support her. First, she tries thinking of ways to get close to him. Eventually she asks Oota if Tanaka is in love with someone. I’m sure Oota even shocked himself thinking he is most suitable person for Tanaka to fall in love! I know, right? She gets her hopes up when he has no girlfriend yet. As she goes to talk to him in class, she sees Miyano being scatterbrain with him. She never realized they were this close. Miyano then catches her starring at them. She runs away. Her worst fear comes true when Miyano confronts her and knows she was watching. Miyano takes her hand so that she could go talk to Tanaka. As she panics, she soon realizes Miyano mistakes Shiraishi’s intention of wanting to be Tanaka’s listless apprentice! They can train together! Tanaka brushes all that off, breaking the heart of a certain petite girl. Shiraishi then sums up her courage to ask him to be her friend. Aren’t they already friends? She couldn’t be more relieved. They exchange emails. Miyano sends a message to her saying that she will support her in secret. I guess she knows after all. To be a disciple, that is.

Episode 6
Tanaka is all drenched from the rain because he doesn’t want to use the umbrella. When he left home, it was just light. But as it got heavier and heavier he thought he could make it. Obviously he didn’t. Then he thought he could evolve to have some rain barrier just by standing out in the rain! Even the next day he comes to school drenched despite it was already raining heavily. He thought he could dodge the drops. Failed. When Shiraishi shares an umbrella with him, she gets very conscious. Too bad half of Tanaka’s side is exposed to the rain. Because of that he gets sick. Since talking is a pain, Tanaka communicates via writing in his notebook. When he forgot his history textbook, it is suggested to borrow from Echizen. Unfortunately he finds her name hard to write so he writes to suggest changing her name to Tanaka or Oota. She misinterprets this as a marriage proposal and rejects him! When Tanaka is well, he continues wearing the mask because he gets to make funny faces that everyone couldn’t see. Echizen is now a conscious girl thinking Tanaka and/or Oota likes her. I wonder if she can take it all without getting a heart attack each time the guys are near her. The deeper she thinks about it, the more she thinks about beating them up out of embarrassment and anger. Asking Miyano’s suggestion what she would call her if she changed her name only yielded embarrassing results. When Echizen trips on her skirt and Oota saves her, she runs away in embarrassment. The more he tries to get close, the clumsier she gets as she ends up hurting herself even more. When the guys confront her about her strange behaviour, she reveals about that name change thingy. She thinks they are playing dumb as they still don’t understand what is going on. But when Tanaka remembers that textbook incident, he misinterprets that Echizen is fond and proud of her surname. He apologizes for taking it lightly as he was sick then and was too lazy to write all the strokes. Echizen is both mad and embarrassed she got this whole thing wrong. Making it worse, the guys suggests calling her an easier way: Ecchan. It sounds so dirty…

Episode 7
Somebody put high quality Valentine chocolates in Tanaka’s bag. He is afraid not of the chocolates but rather the responsibility to return the feelings. Oota also has one but is a very low quality. Oh, the vast difference. There is also a letter with Tanaka’s chocolates. But it is made out of newspaper cuttings ambiguously arranged as “I’m watching you all the time!”. Oh sh*t! Thinking it is Miyano who gave the chocolates, that theory dissipates when they heard that she forgot to make for them because she doesn’t see them as boys but God and Buddha! They try out the chocolates. Oota is dark chocolate. He doesn’t like it as it is bitter. Unlike Tanaka’s chocolates that are very sweet. Thinking it could be from Shiraishi, apparently it isn’t her too since she spent her time as a loner too long that she didn’t realize today is Valentine’s Day. On the way home, a voice recorder falls out from Tanaka’s bag. This is serious. Then they bump into Tanaka’s sister, Rino. What a splitting image. Rino admits the voice recorder is hers. She tapes it in class lessons not to review it later but to blackmail the teacher of the mistakes he made and correct them. Oota is invited to their home. He is served black coffee, much to his dismay and Rino won’t allow him to add sugar. Oota observes her diligence and they talk about Tanaka. When the guys remember they have chocolates to go with the black coffee and how they ate them, Rino has a slight change in tone but soon reminds them to leave before it is dark. It is revealed Rino made those chocolates. She made the dark chocolate one to be mean and invited him here to know about her brother’s high school life but instead hears him bragging about how close he is. She is mad that nobody is to be closer to her brother than her. Tanaka has a feeling the chocolates from Rino. He thinks the chocolates are leftover samples from the batch she made for the boy she likes and for him to taste (isn’t that Tanaka himself?). The dark chocolate for Oota was probably as thanks for taking care of him. He knows after realizing her reaction. Rino continues about how much effort she put in the wrapping and was embarrassed if her brother found out it was from her and thus the newspaper cutting. She is upset that Oota ate most of Tanaka’s chocolates. As consolation she thinks she could hear Tanaka’s voice from the voice recorder. Unfortunately he is too soft and all she heard is Oota’s voice.

Episode 8
Oota is absent so Tanaka is tasked to send printouts to his home. Instead he hopes Echizen to do it since she lives next to him. After getting an earful for the best friend he is, at least Echizen will help guide him there. Along the way, a punk wants to pay back Echizen. Actually he pays back her money! What a nice guy. Tanaka observes the many people thanking Echizen for her help. Oota is surprised when he sees Tanaka at the doorstep. Echizen doesn’t want to take any credit since Oota looks so happy to see him. After Echizen goes home, Tanaka wonders why she became a delinquent. Oota manages to return to school but his foot is sprained after helping an old lady. The first concern his classmates have is who will take care of Tanaka! Tanaka says it is his turn to take care of him but I doubt with his strength he could. This guy even gets tired halfway buying bread for his friend that he ate his share just to return to class. Don’t worry. Echizen bought extra so he can have hers. Till Miyano reveals she went all the way to the store just to get him this ‘gift’. During the self study session, as usual Tanaka is being lethargic. But he needs to finish a set of problems or he’ll be in trouble later. He is so lazy in thinking in English so Oota mentions it is important to master English since 80 countries speak it. Tanaka gets lazier thinking it would be just easy for those countries to make Japanese their first language. When they hit a problem they don’t understand, they can’t disturb Shiraishi since she is so into her problem. The boys are fooling around and Miyano is just struggling. Better not bother her and solve it themselves. A fire drill is held. Because the other friends carry Oota, they realize Tanaka is missing. He soon arrives at the field late because he got lost. Usually it is Oota who always carries him. I guess this makes Oota vow to be careful not to injure himself in the future. Later as Oota thanks Tanaka for being considerate, Tanaka thought of making today Oota’s Day to honour him. However he thinks he might forget it next year and doesn’t bother with it. But he makes coupons that will have him do things himself. Oota uses one. When the next class is about to start and Tanaka is taking his sweet time, Oota just carries him and rushes to class. Made it just in time.

Episode 9
The fast food joint waitress, Saionji dreads serving Tanaka and thinks this might take a while. She is surprised he gets energetic ordering his combo meal. Unfortunately that toy is out. He becomes depressed, cancels his order and just orders a milkshake. She is so scared he might make a scene that she will even bring the milkshake to him. Because Tanaka lacks strength in sucking the milkshake, Saionji misinterprets his struggle as some sort of evil aura! Tanaka and Oota talk good about this joint but again she misinterprets their evil stare. She even seeks the manager’s help to get that toy. Her life depends on it! When they leave, she cowers in fear. But when they praise the food and service, she is confused that they could be nice guys. Her fear comes back again when the duo return the next day. Oota remembers he left his handphone in class and leaves to get it. At that point Rino and her best friend, Saya are also here when they see Tanaka. Saya panics thinking she saw Rino’s double! This familiar reaction is pissing off Rino. Saya is so shy and reserved that Rino has to speak on her behalf. Rino is happy this is a rare chance to be with her brother and for some reason that stupid Oota is not around. Yes! It could have been better if Saya doesn’t ruin the mood by panicking over how to get over this awkward silence. When Rino goes get milkshake (Saionji thinking he came back with a vengeance now dressed as a girl!), the awkwardness grows between Saya left alone with Tanaka. Even more awkward, when Tanaka asks her about her brother’s gorilla level. WTF?! Tanaka is glad to hear her honest answer because he deems himself useless to Rino. But Saya disagrees as she knows how much Rino cares about her brother as she often hears her talking good about him. When Oota finally returns, he is surprised to see his sister Saya here. Rino’s day is ruined just seeing him. But learning this is her best friend’s brother, all the more weird and confused she feels. Unfortunately Rino’s hate for Oota can only increase because when she cooks dinner, Tanaka is so full from lunch with Oota that he can’t join her. Curse you, Oota! Saya showers her brother with love by cooking a big serving of dinner. Eat up.

Episode 10
In the hot summer, Tanaka and Oota are at the pool. Tanaka is so weak that the slightest warm up exercise, his muscle cramps! So weak that he got bullied by a couple of kids in the pool but Oota’s scary face was enough for them to apologize. Tanaka’s float deflates but he can float on water like natural! So soothing… The rest also try it out… So soothing… The kids are impressed and view the duo as their master. At the end of the day, all that swimming made them tired. This means Tanaka has got to wait till Oota regains his strength before he carries him back. Next day, the kids happily tell them how the teacher of their swimming class is teaching the same floating technique. Did they open a can of worms for the future generation’s swimming? Because Miyano is going to see the fireworks festival with Echizen, she needs to grow taller and act mature. Tanaka has the simplest solution: Don’t go and stay home in your cool room and watch TV. Brilliant idea! But still feeling the need to get a yukata, the guys along with Shiraishi tag along to help her. Will sandals help Miyano seem taller? Nah. When Miyano tries on her yukata, it is so over-sized that no matter how many sandals she wears can save her. But she is jealous by the fact the yukata made Shiraishi boobs stand out more. Lost the will to live? That’s the Tanaka spirit! But don’t worry, Shiraishi is good in sewing and can make some adjustments for her. At the festival, lots of best friend hugs and kisses between Miyano and Echizen. I guess the guys have to dismiss their sexy and mature image of Echizen in a yukata since she is wearing a matching set of cute floral patterns as Miyano. Echizen flusters when Oota comments good about her yukata. That romantic mood is ruined when the guys go get some shaved ice cream. Echizen is so mad that she pours the entire bucket over Oota’s head! You don’t cut off a woman when she is talking good about you! The magnificent fireworks start. Everyone has a nice view of it. Except for Miyano. Her short stature is making her miss everything. Curse you, shortness!

Episode 11
It is the cultural festival and Tanaka dreads it. That is why he has learnt to be in stealth mode to avoid being noticed. Unfortunately Shiraishi knows him and has already roped him in as a ghost since their class is doing haunted house. Tanaka doesn’t want to help out and he thought of going into stealth mode again. Because looks like a real deal ghost, his friends think he is best for the job! So we see the friends testing out Tanaka’s scary level as a ghost in a well. He is already pretty scary without putting on the wardrobe. During the test run, Tanaka’s lethargy makes him a natural scary ghost. Oota is supposed to be the grand final scare but it is soon revealed that Oota is afraid of ghosts. He didn’t turn down the part since he thought it would be irresponsible to shove the duty to others but since he is so scared that he can’t move, they have to scramble to find a replacement. Miyano does the honours but her cat ghost is more cute than scary. It seems this is all part of the plan to turn this into a comic relief haunted house. A survey shows Tanaka is the scariest ghost. Because he looks real for the part despite literally sleeping on the job! SCARY!!! Tanaka goes to have a break. He passes by Echizen doing her cute maid cafe greeting. Obviously he ignores her but that embarrassment makes her want to kill him if not for a friend restraining her. The toilet might be the only place he can find his peace and quiet but somebody is making out there! OMG! The most scandalous thing ever in this series?! He finds a quiet spot in a box on the top of the stairs. Oota needs to find him before he gets lost. Tanaka responds to his call and from Oota’s point of view, Tanaka looks like a ghost crawling out!!! So scary that he passes out! Tanaka has no choice but to stay by his side till he wakes up. The day ends with a success and the class celebrates. Next day, Oota hears the school’s ghost story rumours. He has taken extreme taboo measures. Like a mountain plate of salt.

Episode 12
Tanaka is being superstitious seeing today the class will have their seats rearranged. Too bad he ends up in the worst possible seat. Right in front of the teacher and he is sleeping! As bad as him is Miyano who is at the back and being blocked by towering Oota. When Oota offers to swap, suddenly Tanaka is faster than Sonic to offer the switch! Ah, now he can sleep behind the great wall without being noticed known as Oota’s back. This swap is also beneficial for Shiraishi as Tanaka is seated next to her. She tries to talk to him but he is either sleeping or taken away by Oota. No chance. He doesn’t even notice her sex appeal and even when sharing stuffs, Oota always got him covered. Grrr! Now you know how Rino feels, right? Shiraishi laments her fate alone. Miyano is unsure what is going on but gives her confidence by supporting her. However her plan backfires when Tanaka says he prefers being alone. Her lament continues but Tanaka adds that it is okay to fail since it isn’t the end of the world. Because life is short and even if you can’t do anything about it now, it’ll work out in the end. For a lethargic guy, he has pretty good words. When Tanaka and Shiraishi walk back together, their friends spot them. As Shiraishi is in a different hairstyle, they didn’t recognize her and think she is Tanaka’s girlfriend.

They bug him about it the next day. Tanaka remembers Shiraishi’s promise not to expose her secret so he maintains she is his friend. But his friends remain adamant that they are an item. Even Oota believes so! He won’t bother him from now on. Shiraishi feels bad about this mix up but as she tries to restore order, she ends up taking tips from them on how men think. Oh look, Miyano is mad too. Not another annoyance. If Tanaka concealed her girlfriend so well from others, so what is her problem? What has she got to do with it? So Miyano takes Shiraishi ‘drinking’ for a broken hearts club? Echizen soon finds out about Tanaka’s girlfriend via Oota. She gets the wrong idea Oota wants to make a move on her but he requests to carry her since he feels empty. All he got is a punch in the gut. Tanaka walks home alone and bumps into all the ‘obstacles’. He realizes how his friends are valuable in getting him out in such situations. He wants to relax alone but for some reason he can’t. The guys tail him but didn’t see his girlfriend. It is then it occurred to Oota who this girlfriend is. He lies that girl is Tanaka’s friend and his personal mentor, Master Macaron! The next day, his friends apologize profusely and Tanaka accepts it. They are glad he continues to be their friends and all Tanaka wants is for them to be as they are. Shiraishi apologizes for causing lots of trouble but this ultimately kills it. Because Tanaka thinks that having a girlfriend will cause so much drama, he will not have one! Gasp! But luckily Shiraishi isn’t going to rush and will take her time.

Specials

These are short web specials in showcasing Tanaka being the master of lethargy. Don’t worry, it won’t take up much of your time since well, each special is only 30 seconds long. The memorable ones are Tanaka had a wonderful dream but he can’t remember it so he goes back to sleep to take a look at it; Tanaka is in the train and while texting back to Oota, he falls asleep and thus his text messages are sent jumbled up; Tanaka is so weak poking a straw into the packet that the just gives up; If Tanaka were to play an RPG game, he would prefer to become a stationary NPC; Tanaka’s time standard differs from our normal time standard because 3 minutes is like 2 hours and his noodles are already soggy; Tanaka is having a hard time licking the melting popsicles so he vows to buy ice cream only in cups next time; Oota and friends suggesting new carrying methods for Tanaka which are all very dangerous; Tanaka using his handphone’s vibration as massage and thus not answering Oota’s call; Tanaka doesn’t even need to count sheep and dreaming of the meadows is enough to make him fall asleep; The remote controller is just a table away but when he thinks of using telekinesis to make it drop so he could easily pick it up, he himself drops on the floor; Tanaka is so lazy to take away the pudding’s cover that it made a dent in the pudding. He didn’t eat it eventually; Using a trolley to push Tanaka around looks good but at high speed cornering, he flies off!; Miyano can’t understand why Tanaka doesn’t reply her messages. Because it is so tiring to read. Indeed because Miyano sent long ass texts; Tanaka thought of using the typhoon to blow him to places but as soon as he gets out of his house, a plastic bag smacks into his face; Instead of helping Oota with the sweeping, Oota picks Tanaka up as though he is an extension to the pan; As suggested by her brother, Saya thought it would be good muscle training to lift Rino. No luck, though; Because Oota says a green tea stalk is good luck, Tanaka gives it to Rino. How the heck is she supposed to know what it means?; Tanaka runs out of toilet paper and will just wait till somebody comes by.

(Insert Caption Here)
Hey. It wasn’t that bad. Because I didn’t fall asleep while I was watching the entire series. Sure, there were boring and slow parts but somehow that feels as part of the charm of watching this anime. So is it safe to say that despite the lacklustre nature of this series, it manages to keep viewers afloat and awake till the end without making them doze off or worse, drop this series? At least I can say it is true for my part. Because I didn’t need coffee or power drinks to help me stay awake for the entire duration of this series. It goes to show that being lazy has his merits too. At least in regards as an entertainment. But don’t try it in real life. Ever.

There are probably lots of ironies many could draw from the lethargy and laziness theme of the series but you know, I’m too lazy to say it. So while this is another one of those animes without a decent plot, generally it doesn’t feel boring at all although at times there are but it isn’t so bad. Therefore if you are an adrenaline junkie and need to get your action fix, this series will literally kill you. But this series is not so boring that it would be a cure for insomnia. Well, unless you are not into this genre then maybe. Despite the comedy is not exaggerated parodies or over the top slapstick humour, you can still laugh or at least eke out a smile with its simplicity. Sometimes you don’t need anvils dropping over one’s head or hands-over-boobs fanservice sticky situations to LOL.

When a series is as directionless without a main story to drive its plot, its charm will then mainly fall on the characters. Despite only having a handful of main and supporting ones, I would say it did quite a good job in trying to maintain a satisfying level of humour among the characters. Despite knowing that Tanaka will always be the same listless dude, so far it never bores us because it is just amazing to see what kind of new level this guy could bring his lethargic to. Tanaka is basically the human sloth. Snails and tortoise are slow too but the sloth looks closer as a human being. However being listless doesn’t mean that Tanaka is dumb or uncaring. In many instances we have seen Tanaka being a considerate fellow. Heck, he is even self-realized that he is a lethargic person and even to a point considering himself as useless trash to society. He just lacks the exuberance that we are used to see. Thus sometimes it is a blessing that his thinking is quite simple and at other times just plain lazy thinking. You know what they say about giving the hardest job to the laziest person? They’ll find the easiest way to do it, that’s for sure!

Tanaka is so lazy that in the next episode preview, he is supposed to write the title of the next episode but dozes off halfway leaving it incomplete and a streak of brush line across the paper as proof of his lethargy. We only get to know what that title is thanks to the narration. But sometimes I believe that his laziness is more of a will than anything. Because there are very rare instances that he can burst into some form of energy although it is just a short while. All in the state of mind? Well, Tanaka chooses to be listless doesn’t mean he can’t do things that require more energy. He just chooses not to because it feels oh so good doing nothing. Aren’t we guilty of that sometimes? So it all boils down to his character of wanting to become lethargic. Because if his body, brains and heart have the same idea, they would just stop working and Tanaka would have died a long time ago. Do you not agree with me with this theory? This means theoretically only Tanaka’s spirit is the lazy one while his physical body is ‘hardworking’. Tanaka is the embodiment of lethargy that everybody in this universe seems to accept him for who he is instead of trying to change and whip him up into shape. Maybe they did but failed miserably. Most probably they lost motivation too after seeing how lazy Tanaka naturally is. That is why Tanaka can continue to be a slacker and always gets away with it.

Oota is probably the best friend that anybody would want to have. At least for a lethargic person like Tanaka, his strength and resourcefulness is handy in many situations. There are quite a few subtle gay jokes about them seeing how the duo are inseparable and it is like one cannot live without the other. While this is quite true for Tanaka seeing that Oota is his ‘automatic survival kit’, but how is it the case for Oota? Personally I feel that Oota’s existence is purely just for Tanaka. As if he was born for the destiny of becoming Tanaka’s life chaperone. Tanaka is the meaning of his existence. Without Tanaka, this tall handsome dude with a scary face will be at a lost on what to do. It will be worse than empty nest syndrome as seen in that mistaken Tanaka’s girlfriend skit. So you think the duo should just marry off each other and live happily ever after? Yeah… The duo even have such thoughts at times and even if it sounds more like joke, there is a real plausibility it might just happen. I wonder how heavy Tanaka weighs because the sweets lover can just easily pick him up like paper and run at full speed. As though Tanaka doesn’t even weigh anything! Is he lighter than air?!

Although the other female characters in the series are likeable in their own aspect such as the active scatterbrain disciple wannabe Miyano who is a total opposite of Tanaka, the kind delinquent wannabe Echizen and the not so seemingly perfect school idol Shiraishi, somehow I feel that these girls as well as the sisters are there to troll us as Tanaka’s love interests. Wait. What? This series has some romance? Ironically all of these girls in a way have a liking for Tanaka. So how can such a boring main character get the attention from so many girls? Well, it isn’t his lethargic outlook but rather the kindness of his heart. Isn’t it any wonder that they love him in one way or another?

Take for instance Shiraishi’s case as the leading example. We can solely credit Shiraishi’s feelings for him when he doesn’t ridicule her after discovering her other less than trendy appearance. But even that was because Shiraishi revealed it to them. Tanaka was too listless to even notice (except perhaps her boobs later on). Despite failed attempts to get closer to him in a romantic sense, the one thing she can count on is for Tanaka never to change. Status quo looks fine for now. But you know what they say that a man never changes, right? It will take forever till kingdom come to get Tanaka to realize her feelings. He’ll probably brush it all off as too much effort so why bother in the first place. Good luck in changing his mind.

Though Echizen might be leaning more towards Oota, there was this short period of time that she was confused about Tanaka’s feelings. You know how all those confusion mess up your thinking and heart, right? In spite of that tough exterior, somewhere deep down she is just a normal teenage girl. I suspect Miyano is using her bouncy and energetic personality to hide and cover her true feelings. But what about Echizen as her love? Is that just BFF talk? Forgotten all about that, haven’t we? Saya too as she did describe Tanaka as a prince when she first met him. Could it be her shyness and reservation is further enhanced by this crush? Last but not least is Rino who has a high level of brotherly love only to be rivalled by her eternal rival Oota. It could have been a peaceful and blissful life if not for a certain tall guy coming in between them all the time. Not too sure if Tanaka knows about his sister’s unhealthy obsession with him or if he is just being too lazy to bother but either way, Rino’s love for him is just creepy, don’t you think? Even more so when she has that lethargic face.

So I figure in the lead for Tanaka’s love would be Oota and Rino. You might think Shiraishi is the best pairing because she is the prettiest of the lot and decently fitting into societal norms of what should constitute to be normal love between man and woman. But with Oota actively being around for Tanaka’s needs and Rino’s extreme burakon (and possible tending to Tanaka’s needs at home where Oota is not present), they have the best chance of being Tanaka’s significant other. Will best friend gay love or sisterly incest love win the day? Shiraishi comes in as third with her decent efforts. Miyano could just take everything from behind and under their noses for being the loudest while Echizen and Saya would prop up the bottom of the table. Ah, that is how I see this race going. But enough of the cheesy fantasy romance, shall we?

Artwork is simple. Even the font of the series’ title is so simple and plain. Because of that, the characters themselves are plain and simple. Thanks to the nature of this series, it goes well and works. You don’t really need elaborated and detailed artwork to make things look good. This is one of the ways where simplicity enhances its beauty. Or is it maybe everyone is so lazy that they managed to somehow convince us this art style complements it all. But I noticed that some of the background sceneries are in good quality like the water flowing in the river having great effects, like as though that is where the rest of the budget went. Even the trees and the shading if you notice rather than dozing off halfway is quite an exceptional quality although I won’t go so far as to say it is a masterpiece. It isn’t very jarring either with the simple character designs that it will cause some imbalance. Maybe we have been hypnotized by the lethargic effects?

The only seiyuu I recognized was Aoi Yuuki as Rino. Take away all her enthusiasm you see in her other anime roles and you get Rino. Imagine how much difference such exuberance can make. There is also Nao Touyama as Saya but since her character is so shy and reserved as opposed to the tsundere Chitoge from Nisekoi, I didn’t realize it was her. Indeed, the liveliness in a voice does make a difference. You think Kensho Ono (Yoshichika in Luck & Logic) might have the easiest role as Tanaka thanks to his lethargic personality. Unless you have this personality in real life, talking is such a lethargic manner requires patience and skill! It might be easier than loudmouth or angry characters but still it is a bit of a challenge. At first I thought Miyano is voiced by Kana Asumi thanks to all that liveliness but in actual fact is Natsumi Takamori (Misaki in Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo). The other casts are Yoshimasa Hosoya as Oota (Arata in Chihayafuru), Kotori Koiwai as Shiraishi (Renge in Non Non Biyori) and Ayaka Suwa as Echizen (Ikumi in Jinsei).

The opening theme, Utata ne Sunshine by Unlimited Tone isn’t exactly an upbeat song. But what I’ll say is that it is lively enough to be soothing and calming. The kind of song that makes you feel like you want to lie down on the grass underneath a shady tree with the cool wind blowing through as the sun shines warmly on the earth’s surface. Yeah. That kind of feel. And maybe a little sleepy too… As for the ending theme, Bon-Bon by CooRie is quite bubbly. As opposed to the opener that makes you want to relax, this one makes you want to do a little jiggle or shuffle with your feet. On a side note, since I have not heard CooRie for quite some time, I couldn’t pinpoint that familiarity when I first heard her voice sing. I only knew when I was trying to look up the name of the song. Also worth noting is the nice background music. Especially those piano pieces that are catchy and relaxing at the same time. All in line with the ultimate listless theme of the series.

Overall, this is an enjoyable and slow pace comedy. Being lethargic can be fun only if you have reliable people around you who don’t mind doing things for you all the time. Tanaka should be the king of his own kingdom in that case. But for the rest of us, we aren’t so lucky. That is why I didn’t cut corners in my blog of mine to just simply summarize everything as okay even though I can do it out of irony and sarcasm. While Tanaka’s lethargy isn’t what you should be taking after, it is supposed to be his simple and easy going nature in life. After all, why so serious? You only have one life. The key is to strike a balance between work and play. I know hard work never kills but why take the risk? Okay, okay. So you want to know how not to be lazy but still seem hardworking? Here is my list: 1)…

Musaigen No Phantom World

October 23, 2016

What would you do if you can see ghosts and spirits? No, don’t call Ghostbusters. They only exist in the movies. Well, I don’t know if we and more importantly myself would be living in constant fear and freaking out 24/7. You see dead people everywhere as well as ghostly figures popping out before your eyes. Thank goodness there is no sort of viruses that will trigger some sort of area in the brain that would allow humans to see such phantoms. Because that is the setting of Musaigen No Phantom World. Now that humans can see such beings, it is only fair that some of them too have developed powers to fight and seal mischievous and harmful ones. And so this is the story about a group of high school students with such special powers as they deal with such issues while trying to go about with their daily lives. I assure you that your lives will definitely never be the same if you can see and interact with ghosts and spirits.

Episode 1
Haruhiko Ichijou rushes to Hosea Academy so that he could help his fellow classmate, Mai Kawakami as she is fighting a demon Phantom. Once Haruhiko finishes sketching the Phantom, it becomes sealed inside it. Back in the Neural Error Corrections Room, their teacher, Arisu Himeno tells them today’s effort earned them zero bucks because they partly destroyed the school. Reparation costs, I suppose. Don’t worry. They just need to find more similar jobs. Because of this inconvenience, Mai wonders if they should recruit more members into their team. Haruhiko narrates his favourite hobby of reading. He has read every book in his school’s library. His school covers from elementary to high school and there are some transfer students with powers like them entering midway. Haruhiko and his little friendly Phantom genie, Ruru are on their way home but his usual taken path becomes unfamiliar. Was there a graveyard before? Noticing there are Phantoms nearby, Haruhiko is sees a girl nearby in trouble. But before he could do anything, Reina Izumi sucks all the Phantoms into her mouth like a giant vacuum. Haruhiko is very impressed and would like her to join their club as she is wearing the same school uniform. Perhaps she got a little scared enthusiasm. Maybe she needs a little time. As she tries to leave, she trips. As he tries to save her, from his angle, it could turn into some dating simulation cliché, Haruhiko’s hands is in danger of grabbing her boobs. Luckily he twists and turns but the momentum has his face planted in her butt. She gives him a judo throw.

Haruhiko still won’t give up on asking her to join his club since her Phantom Eater ability is useful. He tries to appease her by treating her lunch but look at how big an eater she is! She has that black hole stomach that every girl would want! Haruhiko begins by explaining what Phantoms are. Due to an accident by a company called Alayashiki 10 years ago, a virus that affects the brain got out. It has something to do with affecting brain functions and this made people allow to perceive Phantoms. You know, ghosts, spirits, etc. Most are harmless (like Ruru) but others can cause harm and thus clubs like these are formed to expunge them. Although their services don’t get paid in cash, it is in goods. Haruhiko invites Reina to watch how they do it. Just in time since Mai received a request from Himeno. Electric pole Phantoms doing limbo rock? As explained, these Phantoms are born from the anger of tools built and abandoned by humans. Haruhiko’s wide knowledge may be appealing but it is trivial and nothing to do to help the situation. It is suggested to do limbo rock with them to honour them. Remember, you can’t touch anything or you’ll be zapped. Clearing the first one seems easy. Then the pole gets lower. Only Mai is left. Although the electric pole breaks from all the bending, the one thing that preventing Mai from clearing this is her boobs! And using the logic that boobs bounce, Mai uses her great timing to bounce them when they are at its low point to limbo over. The Phantoms are satisfied and wants to be sealed. Haruhiko forgot his sketchbook but luckily they have Reina to eat them up. The poles return to normal. Though they feel pity, they wonder if they would serve humans again if they are reborn as trees.

Episode 2
Haruhiko narrates about his sketching abilities that allow to seal or summon Phantoms. With Reina around, his sealing isn’t needed anymore so he decides to concentrate on his summoning. Haruhiko and Reina try to approach Koito Minase as requested by Himeno. She is a very talented power user and a candidate for the Phantom Control Agency (PCA). However she likes working alone and when Himeno tried to invite her to join the club, she of course turned it down. There is a request that an old security robot has turned into a Phantom and causing trouble at the abandoned Alayashiki factory. Koito is going there alone but Himeno would like her to see the value of cooperation. Of course Koito is not too happy Haruhiko, Mai and Reina re assisting her. The robots keep multiplying so they think they have to destroy its real body. Then there is some theory about noises and inverse phase signal to cancel it out. All of them cooperate to put an end to the menace. But Koito isn’t appreciative of their efforts despite they try to make friends with her. Ruru has taken back some weird controller from the factory. It looks like it has some error code on its screen but when Haruhiko messes with it, the screen goes blank. Spoiled? Run out of batteries?

As Haruhiko practises his summoning sketch, he explains about Parole. They are like chants that make their special powers easier to use. That is why when you see our heroes needing to unleash their power but start saying some hefty mumbo-jumbo before that, this is the reason. They get a request from the girl’s dorm that a strange UFO watches them while they are changing by the window and starts changing pictures. Reina reconfirms about the goods reward. Since it doesn’t necessarily certain goods or items, she would like to have an all-you-can-eat buffet. Nothing much happens as they wait so they think it will only happen when they change. Time to throw Haruhiko out of the room. True enough, here comes the UFO. In the pandemonium to try and catch it, Haruhiko has been thrown out many times. He then decides to put his summoning to use. Think Marchosias is a ferocious demon dog? My, what a cute little puppy! After a few more moments of havoc, Marchosias catches it and Reina completes the sealing. As Haruhiko’s finger was cut from all that, Reina felt she was responsible for this little injury. She sucks on it and his cut entirely disappears. She doesn’t know if this is another ability of hers. Completing how odd everything turns out is Koito coming all the way here just to thank them and not that they are also impressive. Eh? What?

Episode 3
Haruhiko and his team are on their way for another mission. He narrates their team is ranked the lowest and thus is often not taken seriously. They are at a bridge whereby people have complained about Phantoms bugging them. There, a pair of Phantom sisters start attacking Mai as they seem to have unfinished business with her. Mai lost so Haruhiko summons Marchosias to distract the Phantoms while they take Mai away for a tactical retreat. The Phantom sisters tell Mai to return when she is better trained as they will be waiting. It is suggested that Mai needs another fighting partner as strong as her. Haruhiko and Reina try training with her but I don’t think the results will show that fast. Haruhiko explains the different types of memories and wonders if he can copy Mai’s memories to save time. Theoretically it sounds possible (something like cloud computing) but practically it says otherwise. Himeno overheard them and finds it interesting to test it out. Her plan is to have Mai and Haruhiko at an amusement park where Mai had lots of good memories. The theory is that in order to share memories, it is good to visit memorable places. Yeah, but it looks like they are on a date and Reina is not too happy about it. Mai seems to be having a lot of fun (and bringing back a lot of fond childhood memories) but not Haruhiko.

They wander to that bridge again as Mai starts remembering more although not very clearly. She was here before and played with a couple of kids. But the Phantom sisters pop up to attack. The hand to hand combat begins. During the slip up, Mai and Haruhiko’s head crash into each other. And that is how their memories transferred. But Haruhiko is able to peek more into Mai’s memories. He realizes Mai has met these sisters before. The Phantom sisters are not pleased that Mai has forgotten about them. They explain that this is where they met when Mai was on a school trip. They were training but Mai often bullied them and they became victims of her relentless violence. Therefore they have been training ever since to avenge that. Mai doesn’t remember it happened this way so Haruhiko explains about people altering memories to suit themselves. The fight continues and Haruhiko is able to do martial arts moves on par with Mai. Cool! Too bad he lacks the stamina and tires out. Then they both combine their attacks like the move they just saw in the movie to defeat the sisters. They will carry on training more and shall return to challenge her again. With Haruhiko stuck with some of Mai’s memories, the temptation to beat him up to get amnesia is strong. Don’t worry, he will lose them in a few days. Just don’t say embarrassing things… If only Ruru didn’t ask… Reina feels sad seeing how close Mai and Haruhiko are like a happy family and wonders if she can be as close as them.

Episode 4
Reina gets her buffet reward and eats all she can! Oh my. How many plates has she ordered?! I think the chef is scared of her. On her way back as she waits for the bus home, she steps into a strange bus and wanders through a strange place before coming home. She has this warm and fuzzy feeling while wandering. When she tells her friends the next day, Koito knows she has become possessed by Phantoms as she was there to witness it. Of course Haruhiko and Mai agree to help her and as they wait for the Phantom bus, it appears but Reina is hypnotized and gets onboard. Only Haruhiko was quick enough to get on before it disappears. Haruhiko sees Reina returning to her happy rabbit family! When he tries to snap her out, everyone is happy their ‘big brother’ is back! Before Haruhiko knows it, he becomes hypnotized and gets along with this family. When the hypnosis is over, they find themselves back in reality in front of Reina’s house. Her strict father isn’t happy she is back this late and a guy accompanying her. Reina will explain later and tells Haruhiko to leave. Next day, Reina tells her friends as she deduces such things have happened maybe because she hasn’t told her parents about the club yet. Although they know about her powers, they do not like Phantoms and want her to stay away from it. She is afraid telling them of this club as they will not approve it. This leads the Reina explaining she had an older sister. Mai reminds her a lot about her. Her parents’ behaviour is the reason why she left home. So perhaps the Phantoms are taking advantage of her feelings and making her experience these things.

The friends try to ride the bus again. Reina and Haruhiko are hypnotized as expected. Mai gets onboard and sees the happy family. Trying to snap them out, the family believe their ‘elder sister’ his returned and start giving her a big hug. And before you know it, Mai too becomes part of the happy family. When Haruhiko takes a dump, he is freed from the spell. Realizing that many folklores have toilets as secret portals to another world, he brings Reina here but she is still hypnotized. To break her out, he hugs her and receives a judo throw. Head in toilet bowl? Reina explains the sight of a warm family could be what she years for. She was hoping her sister would patch up with her parents. But this realization means her bunny parents have no choice but to leave. They offer her a choice to come with them and they can be a real family or she could return to her original world. Reina wants to go with them but Haruhiko’s persuasion that her real sister might come home and everyone else waiting for her has Reina crying in bitter frustration as she decides to stay back. The bunny parents thank her for being their family even if it is for a short time. Next day, Reina apologizes to her friends for the trouble. She talked to her parents and they approved of her joining the club. It gives her encouragement to talk to them more often. Reina narrates despite she is glad returning to her real home, she believes her other home exists somewhere beyond the sunset and wishes she could sometimes see her Phantom parents again.

Episode 5
Koito does her missions alone and does not mix with others, keeping her distance and all to herself. So Haruhiko’s friend, Shousuke Morohashi is badmouthing about her but don’t look behind now because there she is! She doesn’t give a f*cks and makes her way. Himeno has a job for Koito. At the rabbit pen, she meets this loli, Kurumi Kumamakura who is on duty tending to it. The Cerberus Phantom pops up to attack. Haruhiko comes to help but only proves to be a nuisance. When Koito saves him, she breaths in its poison gas. Kurumi unleashes her teddy bear Albrecht to fight in its giant size and Mai delivering her usual kick but the Phantom got away. Koito is bent on capturing the Phantom alone despite her voice which her ability is based on is severely affected. They suggest she rests first but she remains stubborn. Himeno suggests a competition. Whoever gets the Phantom first gets the reward. Haruhiko feels guilty and decides to help out Koito, much to her dismay. Mai on the other hand decides to recruit Kurumi as a reserve. Koito’s other ability is to sense Phantoms but as she goes around looking, she couldn’t find any. Next day, both teams coincidentally bump into each other. A potential b*tch showdown between Mai and Koito but it didn’t happen. Koito and Haruhiko find the Phantom and go into action but it escapes once again. Koito will not rest and continue to hunt it down.

So Haruhiko talks to Himeno why Koito is so obsessed with this Phantom. Koito’s ability was discovered when she was quite young. She was tending to an animal pen at school when a Phantom appeared. It was also then her ability was discovered. It was so powerful that her teachers and friends became afraid and her parents were even terrified. So much so she had to be taken away by PCA and that is where she started to shut herself off. It is believed she blamed that Phantom for wrecking her family and friends. Ruru has tailed Koito to the zoo where the Phantom once again appears. Koito engages it and despite her abilities have come back, it is still not strong enough. She takes a beating and could have been done for if not for the rest coming to her aid. They cooperate to take it down before Haruhiko seals it in his sketchbook. Koito looks like she is in pain so Reina uses her healing ability to cure her. Before Koito can go into her usual moody mood, Himeno takes a closer look at the sealed Phantom and realizes this is slightly different than the one that awakened Koito’s abilities. Same kind but not the same creature. Himeno apologizes for the mix-up and this relieves some tension among them. Next morning, Haruhiko is surprised to see Koito outside his home. Even more shocking, she apologizes and thanks him. Never see the day that she would do these, eh? He wants to be friends with her but she is not fond of him pushing his luck.

Episode 6
Kurumi is worried she will be a burden to the team and is unsure if she can do a good job. When she sees Haruhiko, she trips. He grabs her but some portal to another world opens and they fall in. They end up in some fairytale land and Albrecht is missing. Several bears (Care Bears? Gummi Bears?) try to take Kurumi away as she is the last survivor of the Kuma McLaren clan and wants her to marry Prince Salmon from the Higuman clan. Luckily she is saved by Albrecht. She is happy her teddy bear could talk. Albrecht brings her back home as he explains her family has ruled this forest for generations. But the Higuman clan one day invaded and unable to thwart their invasion, the king and queen perished. The other Kuma McLaren bears vow to protect and save her. Albrecht is closest to her since he has been with her since she was born. Before Albrecht goes on his patrol, he gives her a golden rake, a keepsake of her royal family. Haruhiko deduces they are inside Kurumi’s mind. They are here because of some pressure she is facing. Thus she ‘escaped’ here from reality. Haruhiko asks her a few questions about her likes to determine why they are here and all of them have something in related to bears. Albrecht returns with bad news that Salmon and his men are coming to capture her. As they escape, Albrecht gets slightly injured. While hiding in a cave, Salmon returns with a giant mecha. This time Kurumi vows to protect Albrecht. This is her world so she has to fight. First she rejects Salmon’s proposal and then uses the rake to transform into a magical girl princess and beats the hell out of the mecha. Safe to say, Salmon admits defeat and runs away. After Kurumi and Albrecht have a beary hug, they return back to their original world. Returning to their friends, it seems they have another Phantom mission. This time Kurumi is motivated to join them and do her best.

Episode 7
One day, Haruhiko finds his classmates suddenly asleep in class. Even the teacher! Even the entire school! What’s more, everybody seems to be having fish for lunch. Mai talks about the abandoned cat mansion. The previous owner loved cats but when he died, stray cats came to live there even after it was abandoned. Soon, students sneak in to play with the cats but when some got injured, the place was sealed off and the cats culled. Kurumi has her club members help out her friend to look for her missing cat, Rudolph. It’s a cat, not a reindeer. But as they go look for it, it seems cats’ favourite things start to trigger their behaviour to act like cats. It gets worse the next day because some grow cat ears and tail (it’s not cosplay) and some like Kurumi are beginning to lose their ability to speak normally. Koito believes the cat mansion has something to do with it because she sensed a Phantom there when these coincidences happened. They head into the mansion to look for Rudolph but to no avail. Then the scenes just get weirder. It feels like they’re experiencing LSD. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just totally weird scenarios. Then they realize this mansion is the Phantom itself and they cannot seal it from the inside. Eventually they are confronted with the manifestation of this Phantom, a cat with a mansion on its back. They believe it is trying to protect its memories of those good ol’ days by recreating livelier memories of the past. This is might what have lured Rudolph here. They understand its lonely feelings because there used to be more cats around but it isn’t the only lonely one. Please release Rudolph. I guess Kurumi’s cat language got through to it. With that, all the cat effects wear out and everyone returns to normal. Before they leave, they clean up the mansion to make it look good as new. You mean only these handful of kids cleaned up the entire mansion? Wow super good job.

Episode 8
Suddenly it is getting hot around the school. That is because there is a hotspring in the middle being occupied by little monkeys and their big monkey boss. Since they are the phenomenon, students must find a way to get rid of it because if classes get postponed, they’ll have to replace them during summer vacation. That’s not alright, right? As we see them try their luck, they all miserably fail. From one who summons a ferocious eagle only to be turned into fried chicken and mermaid girls getting violated and licked by monkeys! It is Mai’s turn but she slips on a cliché banana and got licked too. Kurumi thought she could use Albrecht but he absorbs too much water and is bloated. Can Koito’s voice do the trick? The hotspring is a natural barrier. Mai thought she could beat up monkey boss if she got close enough. So with Haruhiko, they really disguise themselves as a Trojan horse? Didn’t take long before they were exposed. And another lucky lick for Mai. Poor girl. Violated twice in the same day. They need to lure it out so Haruhiko can sketch his entire body and seal it. Reina tries her sex appeal but apparently she doesn’t. Kurumi? She got scared by the monkey’s roar. Does Koito have sex appeal? She looks more like a gangster wanting to pick a fight! After discussing that monkeys are attracted to females with bright red butts, Mai is the only person for the job but she is reluctant. You can’t blame her after what happened. Haruhiko promises to seal it before she gets violated. Of all people, why Haruhiko has to paint her butt? But he finds this ‘canvas’ soft and nice to paint! The bait works but the little monkeys spill paint on his sketchbook. Haruhiko then uses his new ability to summon without sketching but his voice. He calls Cthulu. Erm… An octopus? It is effective enough to save Mai from the dirty monkey’s paws. After they seal it and discuss how to dispose of it, Ruru translates from one of the monkeys that their boss’ wife ran away and he was soaking in the hotspring to heal his heart. So you mean to stop this entire phenomenon, somebody has to marry it? Which one of you girls is willing to sacrifice? Himeno heard it and will help out. You think she would be willing to be the monkey’s bride? Heck, she dresses up Haruhiko as a female monkey and marries him off!!! This guy is screwed all the way to heaven!

Episode 9
Ayumi Kitajima pleads for Mai and friends to help out with her drama club. Due to lack of member, she hopes they can help out and do their best for the regional qualifiers. I don’t know, do you think they should? How does free food sound? They’re in! It is a period play with a little twist of supernatural. The gang are casted and Ayumi herself will play the youkai. During practice, Ayumi becomes a Spartan since they are noobs in acting. No rest till they get it right! And they thought she said everything is going to be fine. With more practice and even visiting the actual site, the day of the play is here. It seemingly goes well till a real Phantom possesses Ayumi. The audience is confused if this is part of the play or special effects but Haruhiko and co decide to continue on. When Ayumi tires out, she reveals her true identity. She is actually a real Phantom and has manipulated their memories as their classmates. She thought if she told them the truth, they wouldn’t help her. She wants to fulfil this final wish of entering the competition which was her regret before passing on. The gang agree to help her achieve that and the confused crowd are so touched thinking this is the real deal and applause. Even the judges too! Some kind of new meta-play? They sure fooled everyone with their ‘acting’. The play resumes and when Ayumi kidnaps Mai (as part of the script), Ayumi’s Phantom powers has the setting turn real. This means the audience is now part of the play as they live out this period drama. The only way to return to normal is to end the play and defeat Ayumi. They do so and the crowd gives a rousing applause to a wonderful play. And it’s over, right? Well apparently now they have to continue helping Ayumi as she is bent on carrying on the momentum and win the Nationals! Yeah, they actually won an award for this play. So no slacking! Keep up with the training! Worse, there’ll be no summer break for them!

Episode 10
Ruru laments if she was only bigger, she could finish a bottle of ramune. You’re in luck because this Phantom Witch can grant you any wish with no strings attached. Promise. Ruru wants to be human size but is cautioned she cannot fly and if somebody she knows recognizes her, she’ll revert to her original self. But don’t worry, to hide that, she gives her a pendant. Ruru relishes her new form and becomes a transfer student in Haruhiko’s class as Ramune Natsuno. Shousuke wonders if Natsuno looks like Ruru but Haruhiko brushes it off because Natsuno is cuter than Ruru! Are you supposed to be relieved or mad? Because Ruru is absent minded that she cannot fly, she ends up having accidents and tripping. Haruhiko introduces Natsuno to his club members. Natsuno cooks up a tragic and harsh back story that has everyone fooled! Even Koito! So touching! All lies! That evening, she joins them for the fireworks festival. When she and Haruhiko got separated, she asks about Ruru. Though he has good things to say about her, it is always followed up with something less pleasant. He doesn’t get why Natsuno kicks him. A firework possessed with a Phantom goes berserk. It wants to go out with the biggest bang. Seeing a familiar pendant attached to it, Natsuno confronts Phantom Witch. Apparently she tried to help out but didn’t think it would go berserk. The other girls cannot do much and Haruhiko is taken away by the Phantom. It is going to blow up soon. The only way is to take away its pendant but it is so high up where nobody can reach. Natsuno decides to reveal her identity and become Ruru to save the day. It’s not time to nitpick on her fake back story… Ruru is too weak to pull out the pendant so she convinces the Phantom to blow up at a higher altitude after dropping Haruhiko. He fears the worst as he doesn’t want Ruru to go yet. Then a big explosion. Everyone is so sad. And then Ruru pops up behind Haruhiko. Didn’t think she would go kill herself, right? As relieved as he is that Ruru is still alive, he gets abusive for making them all worried. Then they have a nice time watching the actual fireworks.

Episode 11
Haruhiko finds an old essay he wrote in elementary. Next morning, he turns into a kid! Furthermore, he has no recollection of his current friends. It is like his kid self came to the future. The rest at first are confused if he is Haruhiko but are certain he must be since his belongings are. Haruhiko becomes the star of his own class and a babe magnet since the girls find him oh so cute. Jealous, Shousuke? While the rest investigate his place for a potential Phantom that did this but to no avail, Mai takes care of little Haruhiko. As a kid, he is very honest and of course to adults his words are quite blunt and thus Mai feels irritated. Whether it is her shopping taste or her messy home, at least the kid is being honest. But babysitting Haruhiko is tiring and it is affecting her studies and missions. I’m sure the others don’t have time and effort to take care of him either but they can try help look for a way to bring him back to normal. Ruru thought of stimulating him to turn him back to normal with a Playboy magazine but he gets embarrassed instead. So Mai continues to let him leave him live at her place. Mai comforts him as he is a bit scared of the thunder. They talk about their families and Mai promises to take him to the park tomorrow. There are lots of happy kids playing with their happy families so this makes Haruhiko gloomy. A sand Phantom goes berserk but Mai is too weak to fight it and becomes trapped. Haruhiko is weak too but his desire to save Mai is so great that he turns back into his teen self to summon Cthulu and seal the Phantom. Mai’s shock in seeing him not because he is back but because he is only in a tight underwear. Too bad Haruhiko doesn’t remember his time as a kid. But I’m sure she and everybody is glad to have him back. You know how a pain it is to take care of a kid, right? Mai happen to see Haruhiko’s old essay and reads it. It narrates how he played with his parents at the park. Despite thinking this essay is fake, Mai gets emotional reading this as she believes he became a kid because he wanted his fake essay to be real. His abilities reacted to his mind just like how it did for Kurumi.

Episode 12
Haruhiko’s team continues to seal Phantoms and they’ve become top Phantom hunters before they know it. Just how popular? Koito has her set of fan girls! When a mysterious Phantom attacks power users, Himeno warns her students that this Phantom known as Enigma has the ability to steal one’s power. Once she does, the power user forever loses his/her power. Haruhiko’s team manage to catch Enigma fighting another team. They see how she steals power via kissing. Haruhiko thought he sealed her in his sketchbook but her picture soon disappears. Is this part of the sealing process? Ever since, Enigma has never showed up and then on one hot summer day, Haruhiko gets a call from his estranged mom. He is not happy to meet her since he abandoned him when he was young. But the temptation of his missing childhood was too great to ignore as he welcomes her back in his life. So for a weak Haruhiko relishes bonding with his mom. Ruru is suspicious because could it be a Phantom impersonating as his mom? Haruhiko doesn’t think so since she knows all about his childhood is physically human. Haruhiko spending time with his mom means the girls are not happy they have to work his portion. So wondering how his mom is like, they go visit her. Koito feels strange about her. She can’t pinpoint her feelings. She isn’t a Phantom but has this weird aura coming out from her. Just like any anime mom, she is delighted her son has so many girlfriends and would like to know the girls more since one of them will become her daughter-in-law. Why are they sheepishly telling about his good points? But this is mom’s verdict: She welcomes them all to marry Haruhiko! Harem route! You don’t know how embarrassed Haruhiko is. Mai gets a call from Himeno that Haruhiko’s mom went missing around a week ago. She has also discovered Enigma’s other ability which is to take over the human’s mind. True enough, mom reveals her true colours as Enigma as she beats up the girls. Enigma is intrigued with Haruhiko’s abilities to summon and dive into people’s mind but he sucks at using them. She will take them and use it effectively. After kissing Haruhiko and stealing his abilities, Enigma disconnects from his mom’s body and escapes. They’re not the only ones out. Ruru is also unconscious.

Episode 13
Although Haruhiko is okay, he only lost his power but his mom is still in coma. Enigma continues to wreak havoc on humans and stealing their power. Haruhiko is then met by his mom’s current husband. He is told mom always wanted to see him but the guilt made her feel she had no right. Back home, it is shocking when Ruru becomes polite and nice. Is this really her? Koito has been part of the team to track down Enigma but to no avail. She feels like the higher ups have been hiding something. She remembers the controller Haruhiko has and realizes it is actually a communication device to access Alayashiki servers. She needs information there. If Haruhiko can’t fix it, who can? Albrecht! He lost to a teddy bear?! It is revealed Enigma is an enhanced Phantom. Apparently Alayashiki has been collecting data from the students and using it to create artificial Phantoms to be used as test subjects, low cost labours or military. After all, Phantoms are not governed by laws. However Enigma became too powerful to handle and soon developed its own conscious. She then looks down on humans and starting to rebel. Isn’t this like Age of Ultron? Alayashiki plans to ignore this. There is also a special report regarding Haruhiko and Ruru. They get message that Enigma is attacking the facility where Haruhiko’s mom is. He plans to do this alone but his girls won’t allow him to be the hero. Himeno picks them up there as she reveals Enigma’s goal to control all Phantoms and dominate humans. I knew it. It sounded like Age of Ultron.

The girls take on Enigma together but they are no match. Not even close. So Haruhiko tries to go in with a fistfight? He failed by the way. Enigma transforms into his mom’s shape and will defeat him in this form. In a pinch, Himeno discloses a big secret that Haruhiko can get back his power again. Ruru is actually born from him and she has observed she is a manifestation of his freewheeling personality therefore she would have the same inherent abilities. To get the power back, they must kiss. Just that? No time to think about it. Quickly! Just in time before Enigma sends a nasty slash their way. Haruhiko uses his summoning so Enigma also matches that. However Haruhiko tells her that humans have the ability to grow. This time Marchosias and Cthulu are now big ferocious monsters! Pokemon evolved?! This is how they should be! They easily destroy Enigma’s Phantoms. With Enigma weakened, everyone cooperates to bring her down and Haruhiko seals her for good. Everything returns to normal. Those who lost their power got them back. Haruhiko’s mom wakes up and they have an emotional reunion. Ruru is also back to her old silly ways and Alayashiki underwent scrutiny after this incident. Haruhiko and his girls continue to hunt Phantoms.

OVA
The school is heading for a summer training camp. Haruhiko hates the heat and all till he realizes the motivation that has always been for summer: Girls in swimsuits. Yeah… When they arrive, they are first taken to speak with the inn’s hostess. It seems there is a Phantom terrorizing the place every same time of the year, the reason why the place lacks visitors. It always did something so dreadful that the hostess cannot say. Thus this training camp is actually for them to help exorcise the Phantom. In exchange, they have lodging, food and everything free! Free all you can you eat buffet. Heard that, Reina? Free sweets. Heard that, Koito? Free hotspring. Heard that, Mai? Free bears. Heard that, Kuru-, wait, what?! As they go around finding the Phantom, since nothing happens, they decide to go have the usual fun. That night as they watch the stars, Haruhiko listens to Mai as she talks how appreciative she is to have friends around. Next day is the day of reckoning. Because everyone in swimsuits! The moment we have all been waiting for. Apparently it is also the moment the horny Phantom has been waiting for. Uhm, doesn’t this Phantom look like a dick? So the most dreadful thing it does is shooting some sort of mist and weird polka dot censors form over certain parts of their body? Although everyone still has their swimsuits on, the illusion of this censor makes it look like they’re naked. And thus this ‘paralyzes’ the girls. Haruhiko uses his familiars to get the job done. But the Phantom only gets mad and shoots more mist. This time it ‘upgrades’ into white censors! Yeah, it looks even worse although they still have their swimsuits on. Some of the guys want to give in to this surrender of living the rest of their lives with ‘white belts’ but Shousuke lectures them about the beauty of swimsuits. It is the same twisted logic why strippers are not naked at first. But I guess this doesn’t help since the guys get owned. Haruhiko gets an idea of using teamwork (isn’t this how most exorcism was done?) so he has Koito surround it with fire and Mai splash it with water to reduce its size. Then Kurumi uses Albrecht to throw it to land before Reina swallows it. I don’t even what Haruhiko did to help or why he had to go into the sea to sketch since eventually Reina took care for everything. I suppose it is for this last bit because his swimming trunks fell off and without the censors, his girls see his Full Monty and freak out. Summer ruined.

What You See Is What You Get
I am not saying that this is entirely a bad series but this one is entirely my fault because since it deals with sci-fi and mostly supernatural stuffs, sometimes I feel that you have to be quite well read and have a decent amount of knowledge to grasp some of the certain terms. You know dumb people like me. If I don’t really understand what is going on, chances are I won’t understand the bigger picture and it inhibits my enjoyment of the overall show. Therefore despite I find that some of the sci-fi and supernatural terms touched upon (although very lightly) to be quite interesting, my inability to comprehend it overall makes it confusing at times for me and I just gave up thinking and just go with the flow.

Because the most interesting segment of this series is the one at the very start of almost each episode whereby Haruhiko and Ruru briefly tell and explain to us about a certain sci-fi or supernatural term or circumstances that will be used as a theme (subtly or not) for that episode. Whether they are optical illusions, cultural systems, the theory and basis of Schrodinger cat and even the positive attributes of using a hotspring (as though he is promoting the use of one), it is an interesting ‘short lesson’ to hear them inform us about it before the opening credits role. But then again, as interesting as they may seem, it all depends on how well you understand them and like I have said previously, I’m not that smart of a person so there are some which left me scratching my head.

Having a series’ story format that is episodic in nature has its good and bad points. A good point is that there is no convoluted plot to follow and thus avoiding messy and unnecessary plots of plots and the supposedly twist of the story that could sometimes be ever confusing. Unless of course each episode holds some sort of subtle clue that would come together as a big puzzle piece in the end but that’s another story. Each episode can stand alone by itself and once it is done, you don’t have to remember and bring forward clues in the previous episodes to the next. You can just watch the next episode fresh like as though it is a new story. But of course this good format itself is also its bad point since there is the lack of continuity. Sometimes it just feels disconnected and that you are just watching one big random story. Fans who want juicier and deeper stories like if there is something more sinister underlying the appearances of these Phantoms, how people develop those special powers or the true history of Alayashiki might be disappointed that for many of the episodes, the story is just like that and ends like that as far as the series is concerned.

This means that the character development of this series isn’t too deep either. Each of our main characters get at least one episode that is dedicated to them (yes, I even consider that mind boggling Haruhiko turning into a kid as an episode for him). But if you want to find out more about Haruhiko’s past like his childhood time with Mai or Reina’s life under strict parents or Koito and her anti-social behaviour, what you watch here is all that you will ever know. We do have a glimpse of their past but it is not like it will stretch out for episodes like how some long running series show bits of it now and then bits of it in the future and then more bits in future arcs. Even the reason how Ruru became a Phantom friend of Haruhiko is largely unexplained except for that final episode revelation that she is born out of him which feels a bit ridiculous. Because how come Haruhiko doesn’t realize it? Yeah, she just popped out of nowhere and he accepted her just like that. Why did she have a change in character when he lost his power only to return when he got it back? Some sort of disconnection there? In that case shouldn’t she stop existing even? So depending on your stance of loving to see characters develop and grow into, this one does it averagely. Because you don’t feel deep enough to root or support them emotionally and just do so mainly because they are the main characters. And if you are like me who is already having a tough time understanding the plot and terms of the episode, it might be a little harder.

So we have Haruhiko as your typical but not so typical either main character because you know, the only guy surrounded by his other teammates who are all practically girls. If you want to compare all their powers, he is the most useless, right? In other words, he sometimes play the comical joker only second to Ruru because you know, genie girl is too small to have that overall comical effect and thus Haruhiko fills that role in addition to be Ruru’s comedy partner. They try to make him like a little nerd by having his character being a knowledgeable one and sometimes you might find his random bits of trivia interesting, I doubt that it would be beneficial to us and for the girls. But thanks to Shousuke as a typical loser and ‘the other guy’ role, Haruhiko’s main character outlook doesn’t seem all that bad.

And then you have stereotype archetypes in his harem like the brute and busty Mai (for your fanservice excuse), the cute and pretty Reina, the expressionless Koito, the shy loli Kurumi and comic relief-cum-mascot character Ruru. Since Reina admires Mai like her older sister, I cannot help find it funny each time she addresses her as Mai onee-sama. Because I had to listen closely twice just to make sure I was hearing it correctly. You know, I thought I heard “Mayonnaise-sama”! Oh sh*t! At first I thought it was Mai’s nickname or something! Ever since then, each time Reina calls her so, I automatically cannot contain my snigger… Koito started out as anti-social but I didn’t help but notice when did she start joining Haruhiko’s team and doing more missions with them? I also can’t help notice something about Himeno because it is like she has a habit of eavesdropping our characters when they are discussing the strategy or the pinch they are in. Then she makes her entrance while proclaiming to leave it to her before proceeding to suggest something.

I know I said Ruru is the series’ mascot since she is small and cute. But if she is too humanoid for you to be consider cute, then perhaps Albrecht could be the series’ mascot? Unfortunately other than often seen in the cuddly arms of Kurumi, he often fails when Kurumi tosses him into action. If bears aren’t your type of cute mascots, could a certain winged dog and octopus be it? They don’t make often appearances unless during battles so I’m not too sure. Now that they have evolved and power up into their ferocious beings, will they stay this way or will they revert to their cute versions after that? Seeing the episodic nature of this series, the Phantoms sometimes feel like monster-of-the-week.

Remember that weird controller Ruru took back from the factory? Throughout the duration of the entire series I kept remembering that it would have some sort of serious implications that would turn around the story. I thought it would be a foreshadowing of something sinister later and even with a few short clips of Haruhiko trying to fix it but to no avail, I thought it was just to troll us all and then maybe they will just forget about it. Who’d knew that it would be a convenient plot for the final episode just to defeat the final boss of the season. I know it is better than coming up with something out of thin air but it made me go, “That was it?”. So the first key to understanding the enemy is hacking into main server? And with all those covered up top secret files, it is no wonder Alayashiki is feigning ignorance. Uh huh. They are the bigger crooks and worse than Phantoms! Yeah, the more dangerous ghosts are humans.

The concept of how we are able to perceive these Phantoms and how they appear to us based on our cultural beliefs and folklores is interesting. But unfortunately that just remains as the setting of the series and it does little to expand on that. Furthermore, it is just strange that now with Phantoms suddenly now part of our lives, it is like everyone is unfazed and continue to live life normally. Sure, it has been 10 years but a ghost is still a ghost. You still freak out each time you see them unless you’re a ghost lover. So sometimes it is just odd to see that when a Phantom battle is going on, some are just brushing it over their shoulders like it is a normal everyday event. Maybe it is. Even stranger is how a virus that could make us see Phantoms that were not even tangible previously and suddenly these same Phantoms are able to do physical damage in the world. So they aren’t just illusions? Did our brains also unlock some sort of sensations as well? Me no understand.

The action and battle scenes are flashy as well as being exaggerative with lots of magical effects if not to certain points, comical. But it does provide some entertainment value. The last episode ramps it up with explosive action courtesy of Enigma making things go boom with her touch. I just don’t understand Mai’s power because in addition to her great martial arts skill, it is like she has some other elemental power in which she uses to help defeat the Phantom which it is based on. I read online that she channels certain elements from certain parts of her body like fire from her heart and water from her kidneys. So imagine to my surprise when I read wood comes from her armpit. WTF???!!! Well, I never noticed and I am sure I am not going to rewatch all the episodes again just to confirm this. But after a while, the battle sequences may look the same since it is usually Mai being the most active facing the Phantom head on with her fists, Koito using her voice to stun the Phantom, Kurumi as and when possible throwing Albrecht into battle as it blows up in size for an Ultraman-like fight and if Haruhiko isn’t summoning his familiars or sealing Phantoms in his sketchbook, then it is all down to Reina swallowing them up as a whole.

The artwork and drawing are very good and pleasing to the eye since the characters and backgrounds are quite livid and bright. There are nice special effects during battle and magic sequences for some oohs and aahs. But if the art style especially the characters do look familiar, it is because Kyoto Animation made this series. So do not be too surprise to see shades of certain characters from other animes under their belt such as Hyouka, Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai, Amagi Brilliant Park, Tamako Market, Hibike! Euphonium and K-ON! This means if you think Haruhiko looks like a certain main character from Hyouka, Koito resembling a certain individual in Hibike! Euphonium, Reina looking a bit like that cutie Youmu from Kyoukai No Kanata and Mai having that uncanny look to a certain girl in Amagi Brilliant Park, this could be the big reason. In fact it is. As for the Phantom designs, they come in all sorts of forms so sometimes they may look as close as humanoids or just plain weird. Another trivial thing I want to point out is when Reina uses her absorbing ability, she becomes cartoonish. Like as though she came out from a Peanuts comic strip. Serious. I thought she became a Charlie Brown character.

Voice acting is decent with Hiro Shimono playing his usual stereotypical main character roles. As Haruhiko, it feels like shades of some of his other anime characters like Akihisa from Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu and Alba from Senyuu. Other recognizable seiyuus for me are Saori Hayami as Reina, Mai Nakahara as Enigma, Ami Koshimizu as Ayumi and surprisingly Kikuko Inoue as Himeno. Well, after the umpteenth time, there would be at least one time I would recognize her since her voice and speech tone never changed drastically for all the characters that she has played in series that I recently watched. And then I would forget her all over again. Rinse and repeat. The other casts are Sumire Uesaka as Mai (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Maaya Uchida as Koito (Hiyori in Noragami), Misaki Kuno as Kurumi (Hawk in Nanatsu No Taizai), Azusa Tadokoro as Ruru (Fino in Yuushibu) and Daisuke Sakaguchi as Shousuke (Shinpachi in Gintama). The opening theme is Naked Dive by Screen Mode, a rock based with some hip in it. The ending theme is Junshin Always by Azusa Tadokoro, a lively rock outfit that makes you want to get up and dance a little since the girls in the ending credits animation are doing a weird but cute hip shaking dance.

Overall, this is not a bad anime per se but with undeveloped potentials and how they cover up with all the flashy effects and fanservice (including a few lewd jokes or two), it is ether you hate it or love it. Especially those who are wary of Kyoto Animation’s poor track record in recent years that fail to live up to their sky high expectations. For me, it was just mainly the terms that prevented me from giving this series a higher score because I would just mindlessly enjoy cute and pretty girls beating down and sealing Phantoms. So the next time you see such Phantoms materializing, maybe it would be easier just to call Ghostbusters. Or hide under the blankets while repeatedly wishing it will all go away. Like living a real life horror story, eh? Food for thought: Will taking LSD drugs make you see more illusions or make them go away?

Musaigen No Phantom World

Seisen Cerberus

October 22, 2016

Fantasy world, check. Magic, check. Dragon, check. Young boy with a date with revenge and destiny, check. His travelling members are a bunch of weirdoes, uhm, okay I suppose I can consider it so. So check. Evil antagonist who craves for more power and chaos, check. Hot chick, check. Hot chick with a secret, check. If all that suits you, then you should have no problems in making Seisen Cerberus: Ryouukoku No Fatalités as your next anime to watch. I don’t know. That was how I decided to pick my next fantasy flick to watch. And so sorry if you thought I was going to say Game of Thrones…

Episode 1
A ritual is held to eternally seal the evil dragon, Dagan Zot at Balbagoa. Unfortunately Lord Bairo was struck and this led to the failure of the ritual. When his son, Hiiro is almost devoured by the dragon, he casts some spell that well, uhm, destroyed the entire land in the process? 10 years later, Hiiro is now a wandering swordsman as he wanders into town. Nambuuko is scattering his money to the joy of the people. A group of boy thieves let by Tomitte plans to steal something more valuable but one of them, Peshate got greedy and secretly snuck onboard Nambuuko’s carriage. Some guy is showing off this ancient crest, Dalhalbart only to be stolen by Tomitte. He is caught and Hiiro saves him by purchasing it for a genuine gold coin. Tomitte blames him for ruining their big steal and steals Dalhalbart. Hiiro tracks them back to their base and steals it back. Nambuuko sees the town lord and is trying to coerce him into selling him some magic stones. This will only lead to inflation and the people will revolt. Nambuuko suggests using fear to control people and will lend him Grand Trowa. An excuse is needed for that and it couldn’t be any perfect timing because Peshate gets caught red handed trying to steal Grand Trowa. Tomitte and co’s cat and mouse game over Hiiro comes to a halt when they receive news that Peshate will be executed at dawn for stealing. He will be made as an example to the people and instil fear for failing to respect the authority. The boys are helpless to go save him but Hiiro being a hero goes in. He skilfully fights the guards but it all ends in the farce when he realizes his sword is just a paring knife. The guards surround him but his loyal subjects, Giruu and Palupa come to his aid. During the commotion, the boys free Peshate and escape. When Sharisharu is going to use Grand Trowa on them, Hiiro recognizes it as his father’s stolen treasure and wants it back. She activates its power but it gets deflected and destroys the mountain behind! Then from out of the shadows appear Dagan Zot. Can’t believe it is still alive? Then some inner trauma of Hiiro starts activating.

Episode 2
As the guards fire their arrows at Dagan Zot, some are in danger of hitting Hiiro. Shockingly Dagan Zot protects him. Then it causes a little havoc before disappearing back into the shadows. This incident gives Nambuuko and evil idea. He will use Dagan Zot to instil fear in the people. Giruu takes Hiiro back to Tomitte’s place. He explains about Dagan Zot’s sealing 10 years ago by Bairo and his wife, Kissmettete along with 100 elite mages. But they all perished and were covered in soul devouring flames. When Hiiro wakes up, all he can think about is defeating Dagan Zot. Tomitte has his reservations and doesn’t believe his current skill level can do it. Hiiro believes he can as he has been training all this while. I think he needs a lot more of it. Hiiro knows that Grand Trowa can grant any wishes and it is his plan to use it to defeat Dagan Zot. But first he needs to know where Nambuuko is. Unfortunately he has left for the Land Where Wishes Die. Tomitte further explains about Nambuuko as a ruthless arms merchant responsible for making countries fight each other while he gets rich. Sharisharu is not pleased Nambuuko left her behind in this town. He orders her to look for Hiiro. Palupa blows his top when he learns Hiiro was duped into buying Dalhalbart. It is fake. Because of that they have no money to eat and even if they have, stall operators won’t welcome them believing they are this morning’s troublemakers. But this cat girl, Erin ushers them to a place where she could it. She hints she knows Hiiro as Bairo’s son. They realized they have been tricked because they are forced to pay for her meal. With no place to stay and Palupa won’t spend any more money, Hiiro forces himself to crash at Tomitte’s place. At least they have a great feast in return courtesy of Giruu’s cooking. Because Hiiro is still weak, Giruu takes him to train more. Heck, he can’t even best the easiest slimes and is complaining more than anything. Feeling the need to defeat something stronger and earn money, how about that sand dragon right behind? Hiiro fails in even scratching it. But a cute girl, Saraato pops out from its mouth. Just using it as a ride? She puts her head on his chest to hear his heartbeat. She likes it and wants him to come with her.

Episode 3
At least we know they’re not going to a love hotel. Haha! But her destination is to where he is? She talks funny. And I mean in a weird sense. And when she starts talking to pebbles, the gang quietly slip away. Don’t want to get involved with this crazy girl. Meanwhile Nambuuko is making his arms trading negotiations with many people. Among them is Dr Baffaloppa whom he wants to create a new weapon for all the countries’ king that they will die to have. It is hinted that Saraato is related to Baffaloppa. As Tomitte teases Hiiro for being in love, here comes Saraato. Did her magical wand help her find this place? Maybe Hiiro is in love with her. Because he allows her to stay here without consenting the rest. Probably this guy wants to show off his training but only gets owned by the slimes. He still didn’t pass this level? So how can he fight that menacing wolf? He doesn’t. He gets owned too. Luckily the wolf is interested in Saraato. Hiiro tries to be a hero but again gets owned. Pathetic! It is only by luck he accidentally kills it. It is all a god damn fluke! Saraato heals his wound with her wand. After selling it for a paltry sum, he sees the town guards arresting men to force them to work for the town lord’s mines. Can’t stand seeing children being pried away from their fathers, he takes action. Guess what? He gets knocked out and taken in too! Super pathetic! In prison, at first everyone is revved up that Hiiro will get them out. When he shows Dalhalbart, everyone loses hope. Because seriously, this guy is digging his way out with it! WTF?! Long way to go… Tomitte sneaks into the town lord’s mansion and steals his secret journal, one that contains shady transactions. He threatens to show this to the palace but in exchange for it to be returned, free Hiiro and the other men. Too bad Tomitte gets captured by the guards. If not for Giruu crashing in and swinging his mighty sword, things might have taken a toll for the worse. And I can’t believe Hiiro is saying he is so close to getting out when he didn’t even make a dent on the brick! Ah, the happy faces of people when the fathers reunited with their children. Although Hiiro doesn’t have the luxury of such family, it became his motivation to take out Dagan Zot.

Episode 4
Giruu will personally see Hiiro’s training today. This means Saraato can’t follow. She bumps into Erin who takes her to the hotspring. Sharisharu is also there so Erin has a hard time trying to keep Hiiro’s whereabouts a secret seeing Saraato is the type who answers truthfully if you ask. Hiiro is sick of fighting slimes. He is so mad that he attacks Giruu. Seriously, you think he can best his master? Of course not. But Giruu cuts him down! Is he insane?! Giruu’s plan is to take him to some healing springs since he anticipates the training will get rough. Want to bet it is that hotspring? Also, he saw a reward poster of a monster in this area. It will be like killing 2 birds with a stone. Sharisharu has a hard time identifying Hiiro thanks to the mist and that he is unconscious. But when Hiiro wakes up and starts bragging, Sharisharu signals to his guards to wake up that monster to cause havoc and capture them. Unfortunately she never read about tentacle monsters and their fetishes. Uh huh. Which tentacle monster would grab a guy? Yeah, Saraato and Sharisharu are going to get tentacle raped! We know the monster’s tastes since it throws away Sharisharu. Smart Erin has already fled the scene. Giruu saves the day by cutting it apart. And all Hiiro is concerned is only for Saraato? Don’t worry. She’s safe. Although they fail to get the reward, they managed to sell it to nobles who bought it at a high price for its unusual taste. Now that they have enough money, they can start their journey although they have no clue where Nambuuko is. I guess it is goodbye to the boys. They’ll miss the great cooking. Surprisingly Tomitte will journey with them. His goal is to get Grand Trowa to change this sick world. Yeah, who doesn’t? He doesn’t want the boys to stop him but stops them from coming along? As they set off, they chances upon Erin. Palupa asks to pay her portion for that meal so she thought of joining their journey. Why? She has a map that will take them to where Nambuuko is. Hiiro immediately agrees and their party increases by another one.

Episode 5
You know how pathetic Hiiro is when he can’t even defeat and eagle and falling into some sand trap. Yeah, he needs help. Nambuuko is selling the same weapons to all the countries and playing the double, no triple agent for all of them. Yeah, he is so ruthless that nobody even notices it because they’re busy trying to kill each other. He summons Sharisharu back and she knows she is going to get an earful. True enough, he berates her for her failure. But he is going to give her one more chance to capture Hiiro. Fail again and it will be the last time she’ll never be allowed in his sight again. Ever. So here Sharisharu is with her guards and giant earth golems trying to capture Hiiro and his team. That dumb hero rushes in to fight Sharisharu thinking he can beat the crap out of her and take him to Nambuuko. As expected, he gets owned. Heck, his sword even broke! With Giruu having his hands full fighting the golems, Palupa summons Mumu not for weapons but for everyone else to teleport escape via this magic chest. Giruu falls into a trap and Sharisharu intends to kill him. She means it. Hiiro cannot do anything as he is pinned down and being tormented by Sharisharu who relishes every moment of it to avenge her humiliation. But when Hiiro reaches his limit, suddenly something inside him activates. You’re damn right if this looks like something bad. Hiiro turns into a fast ferocious wild beast as he strikes down all the guards in a flash. Scared Sharisharu teleports and escapes in time but that wouldn’t have been necessary since Hiiro returned to normal right before he reached her. In his weakened state, he crawls through the desert, wondering what the heck that power was.

Episode 6
Oh great. Nambuuko just passed before Hiiro and he is too weak to do anything. When Palupa and co return, they find Giruu unconscious. Saraato heals him and he has no recollections of what happened. They are puzzled that there are lots of dead guards nearby and wonder if Hiiro did this. Meanwhile Nambuuko is demonstrating to a duchess his new weapon that combines an orc and humans. It is one big blended mess. The monster attacks but the guards easily took it out. Baffaloppa is not pleased with the results since the monster should be tougher than this. Hiiro sees everything and pops out to fight Nambuuko. Your guess is as good as mine. He is easily defeated and captured. Yeah, he saved the villain a whole lot of trouble looking for him. Back at his camp, Sharisharu expects to be scolded as she explains how scary Hiiro was. Surprisingly he didn’t get mad and instead rewards her. Nambuuko goes to torture Hiiro to let him spill some information about Dagan Zot. He wants its revival so that there can be chaos. This means more fighting, more weapons and more money! I believe this weakling would have succumbed to his fate if not for the duchess coming to complain about some pretty boys service. Nambuuko goes to pacify her seeing he has time to spare with him. Hiiro tries to free himself and for once Dalhalbart serves its purpose in cutting the ropes. Baffaloppa senses Saraato’s sense and traces it to Hiiro. He is stumped he has Saraato’s scent but is relieved when he learns she is fine. After Hiiro tells how they met, he cannot believe she said something about his heartbeat. He hears it himself and then believes he is her fate. He wants her to take care of her and lets him drink a potion that will allow him to escape and be where Saraato is. Just think of her. His last words are for him to meet Master Theo. Giruu and co are planning their ambush on Nambuuko’s camp. Hiiro falls out of the sky near them. Yeah, it saved them the trouble. When Nambuuko returns, he sees Baffaloppa in the seat. Trying to cover for Hiiro? Fail! Nambuuko is not pleased he set Hiiro free. Even more so that Saraato still lives and that Hiiro lives for her sake. Baffaloppa dares him to kill him but he won’t since he has lots of work for him and will make him pay the price one day. Nambuuko throws a question at him about Hiiro’s thoughts about Saraato once he learns who she truly is. Didn’t think about that, did he?

Episode 7
After Hiiro explains all he knows, Giruu finds it disturbing of Baffaloppa’s words that his heart does not belong to him. Then he theorizes that the reason why Dagon Zot protected him then was not because of Hiiro but its heart. Yup. Hiiro and Dagan Zot’s hearts are switched and it must have been Bairo’s last attempt to save his son. Further prove is when Hiiro became a beast as he had the powers of Dagan Zot within him and they both have the same birthmark on their chests. Hiiro becomes upset that this means seeking revenge for his parents, he must prepare to die. He falls into depression and it’s time to cheer him up with flashbacks? Palupa tells him how Giruu who trains Hiiro by day, has been learning magic at night for 10 years all for his sake. Hiiro then gets motivated to use Grand Trowa to switch their hearts. Well, he is back to his idiotic self. They arrive at a decimated village to camp for the night. This is Giruu’s old home since we can tell he is spacing out and seeing visions of his younger self. And what a dark past it is. His parents were persecuted by the villagers. You see, Giruu’s dad is an ogre and his mom a human. The ogres blamed their union that caused the humans to attack. Giruu watched in horror as they hang them. Giruu escaped and wandered around till Bairo found him. That fused monster is lurking around. Giruu fights him but I guess he is still reeling from his past. Tomitte suggests Hiiro to transform but at such crucial time you know he just can’t. Yeah, he is about to be owned again and luckily Giruu was fast enough to cut it down. Meanwhile Erin praises Nambuuko so that Sharisharu would allow her to seek an audience with him. Easy as pie. She tells him about Hiiro’s heart being swapped with Dagan Zot. Of course this information is not for free so he rewards her with this toy, Alshina. Nambuuko knows that if Hiiro is Bairo’s son, he will definitely come here to get Grand Trowa. All he needs to do is wait. Then he orders Sharisharu to kill Hiiro. Ah, those magic words she loves to hear. That glitter in her eyes… She’s really looking forward to it.

Episode 8
In the next town, Giruu buys Hiiro a new sword. Later they discuss about Theo whom Giruu and Palupa know as Bairo’s doctor. Saraato claims he is her friend. For the first time in a long time, they get to sleep on warm decent beds. But deep into the night, a shadow monster appears to wreak havoc. They think it is Dagan Zot but its shadow is also devouring the villagers. After Giruu saves Hiiro from another blooper, he too gets caught in the shadow and clinging on for dear life. Sharisharu pops up to kill Hiiro. She reveals this monster is Dah Kuu, a creation of Baffaloppa given by Nambuuko to her to test it out. As Sharisharu electrocutes Hiiro, this is all part of Nambuuko’s plan to bring out Dagan Zot since this attack is endangering its heart. But then Hiiro turns into his dragon beast form. He destroys Dah Kuu as Dagan Zot emerges. Sharisharu becomes scared and escapes. After Erin shoots her special monster killing arrow at Dah Kuu to free Giruu, he runs to save Hiiro but he is in the midst of going berserk and slashes Giruu! Once the havoc dissipates and Hiiro regains his normal self, he becomes distraught seeing Giruu lying in his own pool of blood. The only happy person is Nambuuko because after watching what happened, he is certain Hiiro is needed to get the dragon.

Episode 9
Giruu is alive and recovering although at a slow rate. Unfortunately Saraato can’t heal it. Hiiro feels bad for striking him even if the rest doesn’t blame him. But Giruu is more concerned about Hiiro transforming because he fears if he transforms frequently, he will not be able to transform back. After weakened Giruu collapses, it is a race to get some serafuria herb. But Mumu is selling it at a freaking high price. Erin tells Hiiro a place where he can get it but it will take half a day to get there. Instantly he makes his journey with Saraato. While the duo are gone, the rest discuss about Saraato because Tomitte has observed her that she doesn’t eat or smile. Then it is like Sharisharu always knows their location. Could she be the turncoat? Speaking of Sharisharu, I guess Nambuuko has had it with her and locks her up. More discussions about Nambuuko and Dagan Zot. Erin tells the rest about Nambuuko’s intention to kill Hiiro. She knows because of Alshina which is a communication tool. As the nations are gearing up for war, many are making weapon orders from Nambuuko. This allows the arms merchant to jack up the prices while he also manipulates information. Once war begins, Hiiro will need to go through the battlefields to get to Nambuuko. Thus it is best they get there fast. After all the struggles and perseverance, Hiiro finally manages to grab serafuria. Saraato who has been doing nothing all the while catches his fall. She smiles for the first time. Giruu instantly heals after eating the herb. It is time for Tomitte’s drama because he heard from Peshate that their hometown has gotten worse. Everyone has been forced to work in the mines. Better hurry getting your hands on Grand Trowa. Tomitte stops suspecting Saraato since he saw her shed a tear. That easy? The party makes their way to Theo’s dwelling. It is important to get Grand Trowa but it is more important to treat Hiiro’s body first. As the gang meet Theo, he starts hugging Saraato like nobody’s business. You jealous, Hiiro? Even more shocking for him is how Saraato mentions Theo is her friend. Friend zone?

Episode 10
After Theo is told of Hiiro’s condition, he demonstrates an imitation of the soul devouring flame. Hiiro wonders why if he is the continent’s most powerful mage, why didn’t he do anything to save his parents. Even the greatest mage cannot stop the mother nature force of a storm. Theo begins giving his ‘training’ to Hiiro. He is made to do weird stuffs like picking up and throwing pebbles and crumpling a picture of a badly drawn Saraato’s face. Theo demonstrates using his Kokuu Blade. It’s like an air sword and using the wind to slash. Hiiro tries it out and finds it stupid because in his eyes nothing happens. Later that night as Giruu asks Theo about Hiiro’s progress, he mentions how the son is very similar to Bairo. In short, Hiiro has no talent for swordsmanship and knows Giruu has also noticed this for a long time. I mean, after 10 years of training and he is this weak, something must be seriously wrong, right? Giruu has known his potential ever since he took up studying magic and his thoughts is that if Hiiro is all by himself, maybe he could use magic instead of sword. Thus it can be concluded that Hiiro has a rare talent in magic than swordsmanship. However Theo cautious his magic power is very high and rare. Otherwise, a human would have been unable to bear the magic of a dragon’s heart. During the Kokuu Blade training, Hiiro’s magic did hit Theo. He finds Theo to be a very dangerous person and Giruu teaching him swordsmanship was the right move. His last advice is that Hiiro and Saraato are a pair and must be together. Meanwhile Sharisharu continues to be in depression but when Nambuuko surprisingly calls her, she is motivated after hearing her voice. Looks like he needs her for a mission. Anything, my lord. Next morning, Hiiro has had it with this dumb training and quits. But Theo tells him to cut him down with Kokuu Blade where he stands and if he does so, he will graduate. Hiiro plays along and Theo puts on the lamest and fakest damage receive act ever. Yeah, he graduates. After they leave, Theo notes he was indeed hit by Hiiro’s power and that was just a fraction of his true power. Perhaps switching hearts was the best move as it kept both their powers in check. The gang are now a desert away from Nambuuko’s base. Suddenly an eagle attacks them but Giruu is able to cut it down. Wondering how they are found out, suddenly they hear from Erin’s Alshina, Nambuuko is trying to reach her. Busted.

Episode 11
Erin admits she traded information. It is her specialty after all. The rest won’t kill her seeing it won’t undo the damage done. They continue the journey without her. They’d rather get lost than have her with them. Meanwhile Sharisharu agrees to be fused with her monster pet dog. Palupa falls into a hole and going to be eaten alive by some giant sand bug. Surprisingly it is Erin who throws a rope for his rescue. Seriously, is this little dude that heavy since all are struggling to pull him out. I suppose they have to continue their journey with her since she is the only one who knows where they’re going. Screw that traitor thing for now. A sandstorm separates them. It is then Sharisharu in her fused form comes to kidnap Hiiro back to base. Since Baffaloppa has refined the machine, the fusion is much better now because Sharisharu looks sexy and badass in her new form. Hiiro instantly draws his sword when he sees Nambuuko. Of course you know he easily loses. Nambuuko tells him a secret. They met before 10 years ago at Balbagoa. Yup, your guess is as good as mine. Nambuuko is the one who killed Bairo. He thought Bairo was foolish trying to seal a dragon because Nambuuko would have used the chaos to earn more money. He survived thanks to some crystal protecting him from the flames. During that, he saw those beautiful flames and that evil beauty is what he is looking for. Human lives pale in comparison to its destruction. Nambuuko assures he won’t kill Hiiro for his fear of death is what is needed to summon Dagan Zot. All Hiiro has left now is humiliation and with Dagan Zot’s heart in his hand, the dragon’s life is his to command. Meanwhile Erin uses Alshina to trace Hiiro but instead they find Saraato smashing her magic wand against some rock till it breaks. Seems she is summoning a dragon as its noise will attract it. Oh, here comes one now.

Episode 12
Using the dragon, they fly to Nambuuko’s castle. It is rumoured it was ruled by a demon king named Gyrokias who was defeated by the hero, Dalhalbart. So sad the dragon is shot down as our heroes go into hiding. Baffaloppa is happy Saraato is here and takes them back to his lab. He reveals she is a magic doll made under Nambuuko’s orders. So now you know why she doesn’t eat, right? Not because she is helping to save money! Baffaloppa was ordered to make a warrior that could fight in lands destroyed by the soul devouring flames. However Baffaloppa was more interested in her beauty and kindness. Unfortunately that is not what Nambuuko wanted and ordered him to dispose of her. Of course he pretended to do so and let her escape. Learning that she is attracted to Hiiro’s heart because it is the heart of Dagan Zot, he concludes she was drawn to it because she herself lacks one. Baffaloppa knows Nambuuko is going to use Saraato in his plan and wants her to escape. However he doesn’t care about Hiiro so Saraato disobeys him for the first time and runs away to find him. There he is in Nambuuko’s and Sharisharu’s clutches. The evil lord wants Saraato to come to his side or else Hiiro gets it. Oddly, if Nambuuko needs them both and can’t kill them, so why so afraid of his threats? When she does so, Sharisharu teleports them to Balbagoa while she fights and stalls Giruu. There she explains how Nambuuko will use his machine to fuse Dagan Zot with all the soldiers from the warring countries who have gathered there into the ultimate disaster!

But I suppose Sharisharu didn’t see this coming because Nambuuko finishes his explanation that everyone in his castle are now trapped and their souls will be used as magic for this reactor. Naturally his subjects start panicking as they don’t want to die. But their screams and tears only fuel the process further. And what was Sharisharu saying about Nambuuko won’t let her die? And what the heck is this irony that she once said she would gladly give her life to him? Now is the moment and she is starting to feel betrayed? Since magic is blocked inside, nobody can get out. Can Baffaloppa get them out? His real body is already at Balbagoa and this one is just a puppet. Damn old man. We see him threatening Nambuuko to stop the machine if he doesn’t release Saraato. However Nambuuko silences him. I guess he isn’t needed anymore as the machine can run on its own. After hypnotizing Saraato under his command, Nambuuko orders her to kill Hiiro to awaken Dagan Zot. Palupa contacts Mumu to have her shoot a hole through the barrier, enough for their magic to teleport them out. You know how high her price would be and she doesn’t take credit. So they pool all their money together. Giruu only has kitchen utensils? I guess Erin’s gems would do. One hole in the wall coming up. They make a deal with Sharisharu to teleport them to Balbagoa in exchange she gets to deal with Nambuuko. Lost that lovin’ feeling? Hiiro has already partially transformed into his dragon form but it is still incomplete. Once it is, the evil dragon will fully revive.

Episode 13
When Giruu and co arrive, Sharisharu turns her back and attacks Giruu. Despite Nambuuko’s betrayal, she is still loyal to him. She herself admitted is stupid. We couldn’t agree more. Once Saraato is on the verge of killing Hiiro, that is when Dagan Zot appears. Nambuuko has been waiting for this moment and has got where he wants it. Using the Grand Trowa and the reactors, he fuses with Dagan Zot. Behold the new Nambuuko! Uhm, doesn’t he look a bit like Giruu but darker? Hiiro has never done many things right so you think he can defeat him? So to stop this atrocity, Baffaloppa, Erin and Tomitte have to simultaneously stop the reactors and take out Grand Trowa. They did it but nothing happened. You’d think Nambuuko would be so stupid to leave everything defenceless, right? I suppose he doesn’t need all that crap since he has already obtained the soul devouring flames. To seal possession of this eternal power, he kills of Saraato. Bad move. Because Hiiro is so mad that his sword somehow now can cut his arm and through his armour! Is it the power of love or anger that made it possible?

With Nambuuko’s demise, Dagan Zot is now free (to make sure Nambuuko is dead, big dragon squashes him). Hiiro has thoughts about sacrificing himself by piercing his own heart (which is Dagan Zot’s). But he chickens out and gets another idea. Using Grand Trowa, he pulls out some magical sword and uses Kokuu Blade to cut open its chest. And then they switch hearts! OMFG! Is it that easy?! But Hiiro didn’t put his own heart back in his body. Instead he gives it to Saraato who then springs back to life. And this is Dagan Zot’s demise?! WTF?! Now, the rest are fighting over Grand Trowa for their own nefarious agenda. But then it breaks! Giruu says that is not the real Grand Trowa as it wouldn’t shatter. So where is the real one? Shattered when Bairo first used it to seal Dagan Zot? But then it shattered too, right? Then how can this fake do so many miraculous things? I don’t get it! For the first time Saraato cries when she learns Baffaloppa died when he tried to protect her. All the warring nations pulled back because Erin has a secret connection with the kings and a simple call was all it took for them to back down?! Sharisharu cries over Nambuuko’s death but the remaining guards easily change her mind to look forward to a new freer future with her sexier body. WTF?! And suddenly she is a free woman. Nambuuko is the past. WTF indeed. After burying Baffaloppa, Hiiro says his heart is now Saraato’s. An excuse to always be with her and protect her? He gives Dalhalbart to Tomitte. With peace reigning over the land, what will Hiiro do now? Train with his sword! He won’t admit he is a magic user and still believes himself as a wandering swordsman. I guess we’re in no hurry for him to become a legendary swordsman then.

A Hero That Never Was… And Never Should Be!
I knew the entire adventure was ridiculous seeing how the main hero is so I accepted everything as part of the entertainment. I didn’t know the finale episode would be this ridiculous because it just felt so rush that they are running out of time and that this is the last episode so anything goes. Uh huh. Not like it freaking mattered. It is still unsure if Dagan Zot is truly defeated since Hiiro is still having its heart. But we don’t see him whining about revenge anymore so does it mean it is gone for good? If it is so, it makes it a truly mind boggling thing because such a powerful dragon that nobody could defeat and barely sealed is defeated in the most ridiculous manner ever. That’s not the only ridiculous thing there. From Sharisharu’s fast-get-over-your-boyfriend to the warring nations just retreating like that, I don’t want to open another can of worms.

The plot doesn’t feel original and sometimes it just feels predictable or lost. It is about a boy seeking revenge on a dragon whom he blamed for causing the death of his beloved parents. I can see why he is so angry and impatient for most of the times. So for the entire series it sometimes feels like little fillers because you see the group trying to head where Nambuuko is but get a little distracted with ambushes in the desert or wasteland and even a detour to visit a certain quirky doctor. A little flashback for the main character and his strongman to stretch the plot further and voila, you have got yourself a season worth of entertainment. And you thought Hiiro and Dagan Zot’s swapped hearts are supposed to be the twist of the story. And what is this about Saraato being attracted to the dragon’s heart and thus it isn’t Hiiro she is attracted to? Sorry to pour water on your romance ideals, pal. You’re already so weak and underpowered so why would a girl like her want you? Because the plot says the hero always gets the girl in the end and thus the predictable direction whereby Saraato chose to be with Hiiro on her own free will. Now that she has Hiiro’s heart, can you say she is one with him forever? Literally.

Of all the characters in Hiiro’s group, the only useful and reliable character is Giruu! You have got to agree with me on this. Everybody else is just useless in some ways. I mean look at this muscle guy. He saves Hiiro’s life from numerous dangerous occasions, he is the most rational of the group, he is sharp in his observations, he has the best swordsmanship around (at least in the group – and the only one who can decently put up a fight), he is loyal to his bocchama and most important of all, he can cook! Not only cook decent meals but the best there is ever! If this guy wasn’t in the group in the first place, everybody would have died especially Hiiro who wouldn’t even make it past the first episode. The only thing weird I find about him is his sword design. At first what I saw was and started thinking, “Is that a giant screwdriver or an odd shaped penis?”. Holy sh*t!

And the rest of the groupies are just a bunch of weirdoes and losers especially with Hiiro being the most pathetic one. But one thing ‘refreshing’ about having a main character that is just a wuss is that he is unlike many other cliché, generic and typical main characters in similar genres. You know, the kind with a dark brooding personality or one that has some sort of latent power that is so powerful that it would change the balance and the world or the kind of hero that has his own annoyingly generic ideals of justice. Therefore with Hiiro being weak and whiny, it does give a different feel to the already ubiquitous archetype of heroes. Hence despite the irony of his name that sounds like a champion or victor, Hiiro is just a spoilt brat with lots of angst trying to avenge his parents with powers he doesn’t even have. Not even part of it. Sure, you can argue he is studying the wrong skill for 10 years but even an idiot should have realized long ago that something is totally wrong. To say he has the heart of Dagan Zot and that he transforms into a terrible half human half dragon killer isn’t also entirely accurate because for most parts he is consumed and controlled by this rage. He is now a mindless killing machine. And the worst part of all his pathetic-ness is how when he learnt about his switched hearts, he isn’t even willing to sacrifice his own life for his vengeance! If he was that determined to avenge his parents, he would just stabbed his own heart and let it all end there. Even preventing Nambuuko from pursuing his unholy goal. But nooooo. He is too chicken to even take his own life and thus it gives an excuse why the anime should continue. Yeah, if he killed himself, the anime would have ended right there and all of us would be taken by surprise then.

Continuing the rest of the useless characters in Hiiro’s group, Saraato feels more like a retard than anything useful. She feels like a cliché girl whom the hero picks up and holds some sort of secret (look no further than Comet Lucifer). And so when the ‘shocking’ revelation that she is some magic doll, it just made us yawn. And I thought she would be the sleeping vessel of Dagan Zot. That would be something. And this Palupa shorty, he is like the comic relief of the series seeing that the most memorable thing about him is his penny pinching ways as he is always concerned with the limited funds the party has. So is he Hiiro’s financial advisor or something? Tomitte might be a thief but since he joins the journey, he didn’t do anything related to his skill and thus he feels more like an excess baggage. You know, like as though they just need an extra member in the party to make it look more like a bigger party and do some minor ‘errands’ when the hero is having his hands full with something else.

Finally there is Erin. Ah, when you have cat ears and big bosoms, there is always that sexy lady in the group to provide fanservice. Not as useless as the rest but not as useful as Giruu or half of it, Erin’s ‘trademark’ seems to vanish at times when she is needed most or during times when the party is in crisis. It’s like she is the greatest disappearing act ever. This makes her some sort of ‘useless’ to the party, right? And when she turns out to be a turncoat or rather it is her specialty in trading information regardless of who she sells it to, we can’t have sexy babes be the true bad guys, can we? And everybody quickly forgave her because it won’t change a thing. I don’t think that Mumu can be considered as a proper member of the party since she is only called out on certain dire occasions. In the event if she is considered so, she is another useless character as she charges freaking high prices for weapons or other stuffs. She is like the Scrooge McDuck of the series, worse than Palupa. So if you’re poor, forget her help. Faster and better for you to die than to haggle with her over the price.

Nambuuko as an antagonist feels typical like any other baddie. Although his aim is to create chaos, have nations go to war so they will continue to buy arms from him and ultimately become the master dragon himself, that is pretty much the same as world dominance because you are controlling everybody under your thumb and manipulating them like puppets on a string. Thanks to weak Hiiro, it only serves to enhance his power and evilness throughout the series. A food for thought: If everybody goes to war and kill each and there is nobody left, where will Nambuuko get his money then? Maybe he should just print his own money then. Sharisharu at first passes off as a typical but lovable evil sidekick. The kind you can’t bring yourself to hate totally since she is awfully cute despite how evil she can get. The biggest irony about her is the fact that she felt betrayed by Nambuuko when she told us in the face that her life belongs to Nambuuko. After all the screw ups that would have made stricter evil lords kill you off for being incompetent, Nambuuko is more ‘merciful’ giving her second chances and even a body upgrade. And then when it is time for her to sacrifice her life like all those other dumb minions, she gets scared. WTF?! Isn’t her sole existence is to live for him? She should have realized that all the failures she brought she has no right to be next to him and should pay for her life. At least in a villain’s organization. So it was just mind boggling that she felt deceived when Nambuuko abandons her and was fretting over it. Life has no meaning without him… And then when he is truly gone, time to get over and move on. Wow. So much about loyalty. She should have killed herself too if she really wanted to follow him wherever he goes. Just like how they killed of Baffaloppa, so why can’t they do the same with her? Just because she is sexier now doesn’t mean the producers need to let her live.

Action scenes are rather decent too. Because the one who is doing most of the fighting is usually Giruu. Hiiro sometimes feels like a damsel in distress seeing he has to be saved countless times even when they are not in battle! Yeah, this kid can’t even do anything right on his own. We all know he sucks in his sword skill (heck, he has his sword broken not once but twice!), so we thought with that revelation he is some super hidden magic talent would at least get him somewhere but unfortunately if he himself doesn’t realize it, what is the use? It just felt like trolling. Grand Trowa supposed to grant any wish? More like Grand Troller. Don’t get me started if the Grand Trowa we see the entire time is fake or not. I’m too confused to even talk about it. And Dagan Zot whom I believe is supposed to be the true hidden star of the series is just relegated to pathetic cameo appearances but when he does emerge from the shadows, be very afraid with his awesome powers because it literally blows you away. Take that you weaklings!

For a fantasy setting, I guess the art and drawing are pretty standard too. Hmm… How should I put it? Everything looks colourful but in a dark way. I mean, well, everything isn’t your bright colours but they are shaded darker to associate with the grim theme of a looming war and all. It might be just me since I find that Hiiro looks quite effeminate. Must be those eyelashes… Sometimes I thought it enhances his pathetic character. Oh, did I mention that with his angst looks, it makes him look like a bad guy sometimes. Even Nambuuko isn’t looking as much as a baddie compared to Hiiro (although he still is). I find some characters resemble like characters from other anime like Erin resembling close to Xiao Mei from Shining Hearts: Shiawase No Pan and Saraato has an uncanny look to Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko’s Erio. At the end of each episode, there is an illustration eye-catch which I think it is pretty good quality. This anime series is produced by Bridge who did Nobunagun, Devil Survivor 2 The Animation, Mitsudomoe and the second season of Fairy Tail (co-produced with A-1 Pictures).

Voice acting is rather okay with only Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as the only recognizable to me in his role as Hiiro. Palupa is voiced by Youji Ueda (Kisaragi in Basilisk) and I am not sure if his dragon character is speaking in some sort of accent because to me I thought he sounded very gay. Really! You know, sometimes I thought Koji Yusa was the one who voiced him. The rest of the casts are Mao as Saraato (Renge in Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda), Taiten Kusunoki as Giruu (Rock Bison in Tiger & Bunny), Maaya Uchida as Erin (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Arisa Ogasawara as Tomitte (Panty in Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt), Shunsuke Sakuya as Nambuuko (Okuninushi in Noragami Aragoto), Mariya Ise as Sharisharu (Levi in Fairy Tail), Masayuki Omoro as Baffaloppa (Sam in Bakuretsu Tenshi) and Manami Numakura as Mumu (Paula in Nisekoi S2). The opening theme is Resonant Heart by Maaya Uchida while the ending theme is Xenotopia by Suzuko Mimori. Pretty okay by today’s anime pop standards and nothing to shout about.

On a trivial note, I find that the name of each episode doesn’t really correspond to what the episode is all about. For example, episode 2’s “The Dark Crystal” is just mostly about Hiiro taking refuge at Tomitte’s secret base and his pathetic slime training. So where the heck is the dark crystal? If they mean the Grand Trowa, it doesn’t even make a decent appearance except being mentioned a couple of times. Then in the next episode, “The Hidden Fortress”, what freaking fortress are they referring too? Is it Tomitte’s base or the town lord? Because either way I don’t see it as hidden or a fortress. Then for episode 4’s “An Unexpected Journey”, the entire episode was almost a hotspring fanservice and the journey only began right at the end. If you’re talking about episode 11’s “Fury Road”, nowadays the recent Mad Max Hollywood film comes to mind but we don’t see any post-apocalyptic cars whatsoever or a wild chase. The only thing I can associate it with is that the characters are trekking through the desert. And there is nothing fury about it. Usually I don’t give a damn about episode titles but somehow this series has got me thinking at the end how the heck it turned out this way when everything was so different.

Overall, this isn’t anywhere close to a masterpiece fantasy story but at least it still provides decent entertainment especially with the main character being weak and his bunch of weird and ‘useless’ companions. With the less than stellar plot, either you love it (as in for laughs) or hate it. But it is bad enough to make you want to root for Dagan Zot just to devour everyone so that peace will forever rule the land plagued with silly wars. It would have been much so better and funnier if the plot was about Hiiro switching hearts with a chicken so he travels around the continent chasing it down to prevent it being turned into chicken soup from unsuspecting hungry people. Yeah… Chicken-koku No Fatalités! Double Fatality!

Seisen Cerberus

Show By Rock!! Short!!

October 21, 2016

The only reason I can think of that Show By Rock!! Short!! is shown as a TV short of 3 minutes per episode instead of being released as extra DVD specials is because of the second season that is to premier the following season. And thus what a way to refresh our memories of our cute band of furries in short and cute episodes that probably has nothing to do with any storyline in the series. You know, you do lots of heavy advertising with outrageous gimmicks and publicity before the main event, right?

Episode 1
Egg head Tokiko Shirosugawa (Maple in drag?) is interviewing Plasmagica. The quartet introduce themselves as well as their instruments. Tokiko then has everyone stand up and show us their butt. Actually just to show us their different cute animal tails. Cute, right?

Episode 2
Shingan Crimsonz is resting after a bath. When Crow realizes there is a ping pong table, the rest get revved up and highly motivated for a challenge. Playing doubles, Crow is left to fend for himself since Aion isn’t interested. Crow thinks he is going to lose at this rate but Rom’s manly advice gives him hope again. The intense game with ridiculous smash moves continues. I don’t know how it becomes a football parody as Rom and Yaiba combine their moves for the greatest smash. The ping pong table broke but the ball bounced back to their side. Karma?

Episode 3
Criticrista is Tokiko’s host this time. Rosia’s extreme moe cute act is making Tokiko cringe like hell. After a short introduction of each one of them, Tokiko has them demonstrate their other special non-musical talent. Like Tsukino having pitch perfect and Jacklyn an athlete. You might have guessed Rosia as she tries her extreme moe cutesy act again. The cringe is strong. But for you guys who love such girls, KAWAIIIIIIII!!!!!!! Lastly, Holmy is supposed to demonstrate her ‘hellish’ training but since they ran out of time, Rosia even ends the show on Tokiko’s behalf. The cringe is still strong…

Episode 4
A period drama now. Aa is training fine and her swordsmanship exceptionally. But her egg master tells her soul has no fun. She wanders around town to look for an answer and stumbles upon Un who is playing her shamisen. Aa gets embarrassed and leaves. She trains harder that night. Next day, she sees an egg ruffian harassing Un. Aa challenges him but the egg dude cowers and runs away. To show her gratitude, Un wants Aa to follow her.

Episode 5
Who will be appearing on Tokiko’s show this time? Trichronika! These guys are so cool that they might even steal Tokiko’s heart! Oh wait. Shuuzou’s charm might just be doing that. While Tokiko recovers from their awesomeness, they cut to commercial. Once she regains her composure, she has Trichronika reveal their plan. They are touring the galaxy with their concert. Although they will be away from Midi City, Shuuzou assures all their concerts will be broadcasted live. Shuuzou’s charm continues making the killing as he also ends the show. Kyuun~!

Episode 6
The period drama continues with Un letting Aa try playing the shamisen. Aa becomes interested and finds it fun so Un will gladly teach her in return that Aa teaches her courage. The ruffian returns bringing his buddies to exact revenge. A small cat daruma doll rolls by requesting for water. After Un gives it, it bloats up into a huge doll, crushing the baddies. The grateful duo want to know her name. Darudayu. And that was how Tsurezurenaru Ayatsuri Mugenan (TAM) was formed. Really?

Episode 7
Shingan Crimsonz is the next guest. They make their entrance via some singing. They get a little restless with Tokiko using the wrong choice of words to describe them. But irking Rom even more was how Trichronika’s ad was played during it all! So we see the guys having problems introducing themselves. Rom has to restrain his violent side while putting up a nice front, Aion is nervous as hell, Yaiba is taking too long and when Crow is too wild and loud, Rom blows his top and beats the hell out of him. I guess it is true that’s why they are the rowdy boys of BRR.

Episode 8
Criticrista is roped in to do a commercial for Spa Resort Midicians. We see them in a storyboard meeting and Rosia suggesting her direct cutesy act to appeal to the masses. Then there is the costume fitting moment whereby Jackyln’s idea of putting flowers around made them look cuter. On the day of the filming, Tsukino knocks herself out with all the ice creams, cakes and desserts (I WANT TO EAT THEM TOO!!!). Finally we get a peek at them being filmed as well as the final ad released.

Episode 9
Trichronika is at the backstage practising their dance moves before they head out to the stage for their performance, which is to teach everyone how to dance the basic box step. Everybody is so sparkly. Everybody is so cheery. Everybody is so happy. Wowee! I guess to girly for Rom to even stand watching as he furiously switches off the TV.

Episode 10
Tokiko is now introducing TAM. Because Darudayu is in her cat daruma, Tokiko is trying hard to hide her laughter. Even after the short commercial break featuring TAM promoting some health food, she still can’t stop sniggering. Her laughing sounds like a pig. That is when Darudayu reveals her true body and in such magnificence has Tokiko bow down before the goddess! Once she returns back to her doll, Tokiko doesn’t remember why she was bowing down in the first place. Too awesome to retain your memories?

Episode 11
Criticrista is being given a special lesson on coyness. Because Rosia is such an expert on this topic, she gets up and demonstrates with full confidence her specialty. She is so good that not only she takes over the teacher and teaches more about it to her band mates, the teacher is also learning a lot from her!

Episode 12
A high school setting. Rom is the new transfer student and is called out by Crow for a fight. They are about to get going when here comes the seemingly powerful Shuuzou. Immediately Rom is interested in fighting him thinking he would become the best if he defeats him. What about Crow? Easily defeated with a knockout punch. Rom and Shuuzou prepare to showdown but it is abruptly cut. To be continued? You got to be kidding me. Thankfully Plasmagica quickly corrects this and to look forward to their next season. So sorry, this fight isn’t continuing.

Pre-show Promotion
You don’t expect much from such shorts, right? After all, it is just serving as appetizers before the main course. You’ll laugh at the silly antics with the familiar characters. You’ll have fun with them for a short while. But nothing really more than that. Therefore fans of the series or at least viewers who have watched the first season would know how to appreciate the shorts better compared to some newbie who just jumped in although each short is independent of each other.

The only weird thing I find about the shorts is that Plasmagica who is supposed the main star of the series do not appear except in the first and last episodes! It is quite the irony, right? Unless this is some hint that they won’t be the main group in the next season or if the shorts are to give the other bands more screen time since Plasmagica will be hogging the second season. So it feels a bit odd that the main group is almost missing from the entire season. It’s like that Suicide Squad movie but the fan favourite character, Joker gets only minimal screen time. Well, assuming he was supposed to be the star of the show but you get the point. So I suppose Plasmagica is then relegated to doing the ending theme, Do Re Mi Fa Party, a super cute and lively rock piece that you would expect them to play.

Overall, this short is just as its name suggests. Also, a promotion to get you all hyped up before the next season starts simply because lesser shows like these need a little introduction instead of jumping out with a full second season that would make viewers jump up and say, “WTF. I didn’t know this anime is back”. That kind of reaction. At least for me. Even though music was saved in the previous season from an unscrupulous megalomaniac, music business is still like show business. The show must still go on for better or worse.

Anne Happy

October 16, 2016

It is always funny when misfortune happens to others. It is always close to never when it happens to you. Therefore by using this logic, I suppose that is how the concept of cute girls doing cute things but with the theme that each of them has some sort of misfortune came about. I mean, when you make it into a comedy series, nobody is going to feel bad, right? Instead we’ll all be laughing at you! Oops! I mean laughing with you. And thus this is how I think Anne Happy (a clever play on the word ‘unhappy’) came about. A group of girls with their own streak of bad luck throughout their lives meet at a school that has a special class that will ‘blow away the misfortune’. Wait. What? They have a school like that? If it is so effective, why didn’t they apply it for the entire nation and the world? Oh who cares? We’re supposed to laugh at all the silly nonsense and fawn over those cute girls, right?

Episode 1
Ruri “Hibari” Hibarigaoka is on her way to Tennomifune Academy when she spots Anne “Hanako” Hanakoizumi hanging on the edge of the bridge with a dog. And she is smiling? By the time Hibari tries to catch her, Hanako throws the dog to her as she falls into the river. Although she isn’t hurt, the dog bites her. So much about appreciation. And she is still smiling. Hibari notes she has terrible luck but Hanako claims she is the luckiest girl in the world. All about perception, eh? They made it in time for the opening ceremony and the duo find themselves in the same class. As they chat, Botan Kumegawa finds them amusing and also joins in. When Hanako shakes hands with her, did she grasp too hard that her bones break or does she have weak bones? Fortunately she is able to treat herself fast. Their homeroom teacher is Kodaira as she explains classes 1 to 3 are trained academically while 4 to 6 are trained physically in sports. Say, what about this class 7 then? They will be trained to achieve happiness because all of them are born with misfortune. Say what? Hibari disagrees she is this unfortunate but Kodaira claims top secret investigations have been carried out. Hibari fears her ordinary high school life is turned upside down with equally misfortune weirdoes. Kodaira then shuts everybody up as she shows her dark side. Scary. For seating arrangements, she puts random number in their desks that will determine the seating. It is said the higher to number, the more unfortunate. Out of 40 students, Hibari is number 28. How about Hanako? Number 40! Before they leave, each is given a raw egg to take home as their homework. They must not break it.

After school, Hibari goes off herself to spy at somebody at the construction site while Hanako and Botan walk home together when they see a cat. As expected, bad luck ensues. While chasing the kitty, Botan broke her egg after collapsing and Hanako got her feet stuck in the paddy field mud. When Hibari walks home, she hears ghostly voice calling her name. It’s those two. After she helps them out, Hanako continues to claim how lucky she is despite Hibari having a different opinion. To Hanako, they were saved in the end and she is lucky to have her in the same class. The girls do a group hug but Hibari realizes this might crush her egg. As she opens her bag to check it, a picture drops out. She fears her secret is exposed. Apparently Hibari has been going to the construction site to spy at this guy. Her old school friends laughed and teased her when they find out about it. But is there anything wrong about a romance with an older guy? Thing is, the ‘person’ she is in love with is the safety construction mascot! Of course Hanako and Botan will not tell others. They’re friends, right? Next day, Kodaira has anticipated everyone has broken their eggs. But surprisingly only Hanako’s is still intact. A cute little chick then hatches from it. Hibari notes she might be the unluckiest of the lot.

Episode 2
The girls are having individual interviews with Kodaira. She assesses each of their misfortune like Hibari’s tragic love and Botan’s poor health. However she cannot assess Hanako. Because of her strange results from being the only one with the unbroken egg and her the only having the class logo of a four leaf clover upside down, is hers just bad luck? While on their way to take a physical examination, Hibari explains how she started falling in love with the construction guy. Through the seasons, he stood there unwavering and quietly bowing with a smile. They are met with a mechanical bunny butler, Timothy who brings them to the examination room since they are late. While Botan is clearly the least flexible, at least she has the biggest bust. This must be the reason why she complains of gaining weight every year. Why is Hanako so conscious of her boobs now? Later Timothy becomes their guide to show them around the clubs they want to join. We all know Botan just isn’t cut out to be in any sports club, right? As they head to the pet club, little animals start to chase them. They thought Timothy is going to unleash some special power but he did nothing and got owned. Eventually they get away and Hibari knows Timothy has been sent by Kodaira to observe and measure their misfortune from the start. Hanako and Botan don’t think they are fit to join any club. Even if they do, they won’t be going home together. Hibari shares the same feelings. If she joined a club, she would have less time to see them. So the trio form their own going home club where they get to talk and take detours with each other after school.

Episode 3
On her way to school, Hibari sees Hibiki Hagyu bumping into everything and eventually gets lost. The class will be playing a life size board game deep in some underground training facility to improve their luck via dice game. This or Russian roulette… Yeah… Results of the game will be reflected in their report cards and the last team to reach the finish line will get a penalty. Hibiki is cocky and won’t make friends with Hanako and co but her best friend Ren Ekoda quickly does the opposite, much to her dismay. Hibiki and Ren get the special honour of being asked a personal question of who they like. Hibiki is embarrassed and lies on one. Of course nobody can lie before Kodaira. They are penalized and sent through a trapdoor. So Hanako and co slowly make their progress, playing weird games on each square like animal cosplay and skipping ropes 500 times. Hanako and Hibiki’s team get the misfortune of being stuck in a never-ending loop of the board. Since everyone has finished and they are the only ones left, not to mention time is running out, a final competition is held to determine last place. Hibiki has this strange thinking that becoming second to last is a lacklustre ranking and will vow to finish last! But whether it is the bread race or the chocolate stick eating game, Hanako and Botan are far worse when it comes to it as Hibiki finishes ahead of them. In the final round quiz where winner takes all (why did they have multiple games in the first place?), Kodaira poses a question for Hibari: Name the person she loves. Hibari panics. She knows she cannot lie and that Kodaira knows who she loves. But what about the other students watching? That is when Hanako answers on her behalf that she likes cats. And since the question was a person you love and not some animal, they lose. Hibiki rues finishing second last… Now for our losers’ penalty homework…

Episode 4
The trio are given their ‘homework’, lucky items they need to find and take a picture of it. Like Hanako must find some happiness flower at the gate of dawn, Hibari a smile and Botan making friends. They agree to meet up this weekend and help each other. Of course, Hibiki won’t let this last place issue rest as she believes if they do find their lucky items, they’ll be the most unfortunate students in class! Therefore the coming weekend, the duo tail our unlucky trio. But Hanako fell into manholes and rivers so she has to go home and change multiple times. She calls Hibari and Botan to start without her first. When Hanako is ready, she bumps into the spying duo. However cats love to gather around Ren, Hibiki trying to fend off those pesky cats and Hanako who wants to hug them so much gets owned by them. Eventually the group meet up with Hibari and Botan who are having a hard time asking a granny where to find this flower of happiness. She won’t reveal the place thinking the young ones want to vandalize it. But when she sees Ren, it is like an angel is standing before her and she will gladly tell them where it is. At the botanical garden, they start searching and need to find it quick since it will be closing in a few more hours. They believe it is in the flower maze. Hibiki gets separated from Ren and ends up walking with Hanako. Ren sees them happily together and quietly tails them. Eventually they all meet up. At the end of the maze, only a beautiful bed of flowers but no such happiness flower. What is that flower anyway? The park closes and our girls fail to get the desired flower. Hibiki then reveals her ulterior motive to disrupt them if they ever find it but is glad they didn’t. She didn’t even have to do anything. Really? Hibiki then offers to take a picture of the trio as commemoration of their stupid faces. Next day when they report to Kodaira that they are unable to get the lucky items but snapped a group photo of them at the gate of dawn, the picture actually has that flower in it. It is actually the light passing through the floral pattern of the gate that makes it look like a flower. Usually it is easy to find it at dawn but they were lucky to find it at sunset. Because the photo also has Hibari’s best smile and Botan making memories with her friends, she’ll consider this photo as their assignments fulfilled.

Episode 5
Hibiki dreams when Ren first moved into the neighbourhood. Hibiki was a bit scared of her. Hibiki had to go to school alone since Ren is sleeping in. As expected she gets lost and stumbles upon Hibari ‘stalking’ the construction guy. Hibari tries to hide her crush but Hibiki doesn’t see anybody in particular. Hibiki explains she needs 3 hours if she is going to school without Ren. I know it is bad sense of direction but hey, at least she doesn’t get lost forever. Hibari thanks Hibiki for helping with their homework because she knew what the happiness flower was. However Hibiki tells her to thank Ren as it was her that got them to the botanical garden. It is explained that Ren has this peculiar ability of attracting females of humans and animals since young. So is Hibiki part of the effect? Hibiki refuses to go to school with Hibari and will find her own way. She spots Hanako getting owned by cats for the thousandth time! Still positive that they are recognizing her? Hibiki realizes she is back to that construction guy spot and blames Hibari. She notices Hibari has dropped her photo of that construction guy and picks it up. As she ponders if this picture could be what she think it is, she ends up before the kindergarten she used to go with Ren. Flashbacks show how the duo got close together. One day, while their mothers were busy chatting, they got lost on their way to kindergarten. When they finally arrived, Hibiki’s hair got caught in some broken pole. She refused to trim the tip because she is afraid of looking different than everyone who had long hair. That is when Ren took the scissors and cut hers short above her shoulders. Hibiki is snapped out when Ren stumbles into her. She tells Ren about picking up Hibari’s important picture. However she won’t use it to blackmail her to get even because if someone did the same to her, she wouldn’t like it either. They reach school in time and Hibiki returns to picture to Hibari and claims she just only picked it up and didn’t see anything.

Episode 6
The class will be having a field trip to the mountains to improve their good luck. Don’t ask. Timothy tanned himself in gold for good luck too but he looks so cheap! Hanako’s team gets the dubious honour of proceeding last but even so, how did Hibiki and Ren end up behind them? Let me guess. Lost? So we see misfortunes befall on them like Botan already tiring out, Hanako being attacked by animals and even almost falling through a bridge. Even worse, naughty monkeys trying to cut the bridge’s rope! After lunch break, Hanako went to wash the utensils but never returned. Her friends go look for her but could only find her hairpin. They report to Kodaira who looks damn serious as she calls for backup to look for her. Along the way, Hibari spots her ‘boyfriend’. What is a sign doing out in the forest anyway? However behind it is unconscious Hanako. It seems while she was washing the utensils, she noticed her hairpin missing, went to search for it but fell into the river, had rocks fall on her, fish attacking her before crawling out. Wow. I’m amazed she survived all that. The devil’s luck? Now, you’d think everything is over, right? Wrong! There is a bear coming to eat them! I don’t know what the f*ck is Timothy doing trying to show off his swimming skills but he got owned big time by the bear. The girls throw all they got at the approaching bear. But it is Kodaira who saves the day as she shows her kickass sniping skills to tranquilize the bear. She is glad the girls are alright as she was worried when she heard from the radio a bear escaped from the zoo. The girls are in for a shock as Kodaira carries the bear back singlehandedly! The quintet walk back holding hands with the reason to avoid getting lost. Kodaira notes that this orienteering has improved the girls’ luck.

Episode 7
It has been raining nonstop so when Hanako turns up late for class, it isn’t surprising the amount of watery bad luck she got on her way. She gets more of that in school and certainly she catches a flu and will have to stay home to recuperate. Hibari and Botan decide to visit her but her house seems more sinister and like an evil mansion? Must be the atmosphere. They are met with Hanako’s mother, Sakura. They mistake her to be Hanako’s sister since she looks this freaking young. And like any mother praised for looking young, she loves to hear that and gives them first class treatment. Seems Sakura also attended Tennomifune and her bad luck is her clumsiness. So misfortune runs in the family? Blame the genes! The girls have a nice chat and experiment with different hairstyles before leaving. The next day it is still pouring and Hanako is still recuperating. Thus the friends decide to make a teruterubouzu and wish for Hanako to get well. Hibari’s seems like a low quality although typical teruterubouzu. If you think Hibiki’s Bali mythical creature or Botan’s mummy version take the cake, Ren steals the limelight because she uses Timothy! OMG! So he must hang there on the window all night? Well, he is a robot… Like a miracle, the rain must eventually stop and it is a beautiful day the next morning. Even better, Hanako is well and shows up in class. Kodaira wonders they have finished their given happiness assignment for the Tanabata festival but apparently they forgot. However Kodaira hints they already did most of the part. Hence all of them hang their teruterubouzu on the bamboo.

Episode 8
The class will be taking a surprise luck test. In the underground facility, they put on special visors. I suppose schools cannot build casinos but a virtual one will do? Yeah, loophole… They will play 10 games of chance and lose points over every loss. Their final score will be their final grade. Hanako loses lots of points right from the start so Timothy offers a place where she can gain extra points. Sounds shady… Inside a room, they will play competitive duels in which the winner can steal points from the loser. First up is Hibari and she becomes a knight to face Ren’s wizard. Hibari gets owned by Ren’s powerful spells and loses to her. Next is Botan as a priest against Hibiki the archer. Despite Botan being clumsy causing ‘own goals’ it is her mental attack in the form of an apology that knocks out Hibiki for the win. Hanako the dancer goes last but she has no opponent since everyone else has finished. Don’t worry, Kodaira will be her opponent. Oh my, Kodaira turns into a ferocious dark knight!!! Did she just come from Dark Souls? Kodaira shows no mercy in beating down Hanako. If Hanako loses, she will lose all her points and that means extra classes for summer vacation. Suddenly Botan comes to her defence. She can’t stand a summer without Hanako to hang out with. Such touching friendship has the other friends also helping to fight Kodaira who is now turned into a mad evil rampaging monster to punish them! They lose but Timothy won’t have them give up yet and transforms them into… Magical girls! They combine their combo attack, Lucky Happy Miracle Love Attack to chalk up a big upset. Timothy gets squished by Kodaira’s high heels as punishment. Unfortunately as per the rules, everyone who intervened will have their points stripped to zero. As Hanako’s balance is 10 points, Kodaira distributes it evenly to everyone. Because luck isn’t the only factor to grade them, other issues like surroundings and people also determine that. Their actions weren’t wrong and so they are spared extra classes for the summer. Hooray! Everyone can have fun together for summer. Timothy continues his punishment of being hanged upside down on a tree…

Episode 9
I don’t even know how Hanako got stuck up a pole with a cat. Luckily this cool chick, Saginomiya is here to ‘help’. After throwing the cat to her, she kicks the pole only for Hanako to fall into the river. Don’t worry, she won’t drown or get hypothermia. Saginomiya is also a teacher at Tennomifune and will be assisting Kodaira in their cooking class. She observes their misfortune like Hanako somehow destroying the stove when the flames got out of hand. She also grades their food. It is bad enough that Hibiki already got a minus score. Hanako’s group made a delicious meal only for Hibari’s clumsiness to spill juice and ruin it all. Saginomiya doesn’t even want to grade it. Not worth it. Her harsh words that they lack the bare minimum of attentiveness broke their hearts (and ours). She can’t understand why this school even has a happiness class. Though, Kodaira has kinder words, this affects Hibari. To help cheer her up, the trio have a sleepover at Hibari’s place. Saginomiya talks to Kodaira about this prestigious school having a class with a bunch of no talent students with no redeeming qualities. She won’t give them any special treatment and Kodaira gives the green light for her to grade the lower if they don’t perform. Next day for pool lessons, Saginomiya continues to watch the hapless class. It’s just painful watching them. Suddenly storm clouds start to build. After everyone has taken shelter, Hanako got herself stuck on the lane line. Her friends jump in to help her out despite putting themselves in danger. Saginomiya also jumps in to hasten the process. However there is no time as the lightning is about to discharge so Botan tells everyone to dive underwater. The lightning strikes over the pool and soon the storm is over. Botan used her knowledge from the internet to save their lives as the lightning current dissipates over the water. Saginomiya gives credit to the girls’ fast thinking and actions. She decides to wait a while and see how this happiness class perform. But now Hanako turns into Super Saiyan?! Is this what happens when she accumulated some charges? Kodaira knows that despite the lightning striking the pool surface, they would not have gotten off entirely free of injury. Thanks to Timothy taking the most brunt of the lightning.

Episode 10
The hot summer vacation has begun. Ren got a free ticket to a karaoke session. Hibiki performs flawlessly and shy Hibari stuns everyone with her beautiful voice. When it is Hanako’s turn, the moment she picks up the microphone, it starts screeching like hell. Apparently this always happens to her. Timothy is also here to say his goodbye seeing he will be undergoing maintenance for the entire summer vacation. So he starts singing this DJ rap remix, so catchy that Hibari cannot get it out of her head and it is annoying her. Despite Hanako singing other songs, it just replaces the rap and eventually she is still stuck with this song. On the way home, they bump into a petite blonde twintail girl. She didn’t say anything and just runs away. Next, the girls spend their time at the beach. The only highlight is that Hibiki almost drowned after a race with Hibari and she laments she couldn’t experience live Ren’s CPR. Next, the girls meet up for the festival. They are supposed to meet back at the school gates if they ever get separated. But they get separated further thinking they see Timothy sneaking around in the school grounds. So it is a horror and scream fest for some girls as they trudge through the dark hallways and encounter scary anatomy models and ex-principal statues. They thought they hear voices but then it dawned to them it sounds like Timothy’s rap. Following it reunites them and when they enter the room where the song originates, they see Timothy taken apart. The scariest part however is when his legs start chasing them! Run for your lives! When they reach the rooftop, just in time for the beautiful fireworks show. It is greatly hinted that the twintail girl is the one behind Timothy.

Episode 11
Our unfortunate girls head to the mountains for another happiness training. This time they will be staying at a lodge in the remote mountains. As Timothy’s maintenance was not finished in time, in place of him are many different coloured versions of Mini Timothys! At the lodge, the girls are made to carve something out of a wood. You can see their ‘creativity’ like Hibiki carving something scary and Ren is just a log. Everything seems fine and nice on the first day. Good food and nice bath. Because it feels like a harbinger of something to come when Kodaira notes they’re going to need all that. Nothing eventful happening during sleep time. Except for Hibiki trying to get close next to Ren but their faces were too close that it scared the sh*t out of Hibiki. Once Timothy’s maintenance is complete, the plan is all set to go. Next morning, the girls are given a rude military awakening as Kodaira orders them to be up and gather on the double or they will receive a Muay Thai kick! When everyone gathers (still very much in a daze), Kodaira announces a mini game of tag that they will be playing as part of their training. The catch is that Kodaira is ‘it’ and Timothy is riding a hi-tech craft trying to capture them! RUN!!! During the course of the game, Timothy unleashes his mini versions to efficiently scout and capture the girls. The separated girls slowly learn the rules of this tag. Each girl has been given a bag containing their group’s symbol. These are survival items like food and binoculars. If all teammates are caught, it is game over. Ranking of teams is based on how many teammates are captured before the time limit. The top team will be rewarded with a suite and fine dinner while the last team will have to sleep outside in the wilderness and find their own food! To add to the ‘excitement’, the woods they carved are randomly hidden throughout the field. If all members find them and gather, they will get extra points. This gives our girls extra motivation to push forward.

Episode 12
Hibiki had the bad luck of stumbling into Kodaira. No matter how far she runs, Kodaira is always coolly on her tail. It all ends for her when she trips on a carving and Kodaira captures her. Ren manages to escape from the pursue of Mini Timothys. She rests in a cave and finds a carving. With all the animals gathering around her, she decides to take a nap and the animals too join in. As she wakes up, she is more concerned about food and water and this allowed the Mini Timothys to capture her. As for Botan, she is crawling her way to safety. Till she bumps her head into a tree and a carving falls down. The captured students are placed in a cage guarded by Mini Timothys in S&M police garb? A large group of animals then rush down there eager to protect Ren. The ultimate big battle. Robot rabbits versus female forest animals. Fight! During the chaos, an animal passes a key to unlock the cage. Only Ren and Hibiki escape because the other girls are so dumb in awe watching the epic fight. Hanako and Hibari spot a carving on a tree branch. When Hanako climbs to get it, the ground gives way. A chasm opens and what it looks like they might fall into the magma. Before they can fall to their death, Botan grabs them. Good thing her hand didn’t break but her legs are cramping up. Sliding down… Ren and Hibiki arrive in time to pull them up but it is not enough. Timothy’s mecha makes it worse as it malfunctions and crashes into them. A special whistle drops out from their bag. Hanako blows it and it sends Kodaira rushing to the scene saving their ass in epic fashion at the expense of Timothy. Man, she is like a superhero with cheat codes on. Unbelievable. The good news is that all of them are saved. But the bad news means they are all captured by Kodaira. Unfortunately this means they end up in last place and will have to spend the night outdoors. As each have each other’s carvings, Kodaira notes they would have been in first place had they not been caught. To reward them for this, they get to have an outdoor hotspring. It wasn’t magma but rather steam from a hotspring. So our friends get along in the bath as Hibiki doesn’t want to feel left out as the only one being called by her surname. Our epic battle ends with a draw and truce. The girls decently find food and make their own fire and shelter. It was mostly fun. They’re back to school although nothing pretty much changes but they know it’s going to be a good day. Yeah, all is happy that ends happy!

In Pursuit Of Happiness
Hey. It wasn’t so bad after all, right? If you can sit through watching this series without any sort of bad luck happening to you, I guess everything is alright. It would be a real life horror story and a big irony if some sort of catastrophe were to happen. Even if everything seems silly right till the end, I guess it is for the comedy effect of seeing cute girls doing cute things. Uh huh. They make it look like having bad luck is such a cute thing. Gosh. What am I saying?

The plot itself is so silly that you can’t help scratch your head why on Earth is there a need for such a happiness class and how the heck are they going to bust away their misfortune. Well, at least we know here at least in this series the bad luck do not spread like disease although it can run in the family. So seeing the happiness class engage in all sorts of silly games and activities is of course for comedy purposes thanks to all the silly exaggerated effects and despite our main girls usually getting the worst luck of all, it isn’t as bad as you think. Because you know, the place didn’t blow up or anything. After all, you don’t want to watch episode after episode seeing cute girls being hit with pitiful misfortune, do you? And so such ‘activities’ give us a reason to follow or unfortunate girls. And with so called hi-tech equipment and facilities to help ‘cure’ their misfortune, I mean wow, it’s like they spent quite a bit on everything. Look at how hi-tech Timothy is even if he is a useless moe blob. I wonder if taxpayers’ money were used… Hmm… They can detect accurately those with bad luck with all the detailed information but they still can’t find a way to beat it? Suspicious…

But you know, for the girls ending up in this class it isn’t entirely so bad. Because as they bust their misfortune, they don’t have the pressure of doing well academically or in sports and live up to society’s expectations. There is no such pressure for them to conform. In fact, don’t you see that the activities they do and the games they play as part of the programme, they feel like fun, don’t they? It is like having the best time of their lives in their school years. While others have to slog over studies and exams, they are mostly just having fun. All in the name of curing their bad luck. Wow. Where can I sign up? Not too sure if I am not bad luck enough to enrol in such school or my bad luck is so bad that I couldn’t get into it.

Despite the characters being as generic and typical as they are, they are still likeable in an overall aspect although they stay the same as they were from the start right till the very end. Despite the same and numerous running jokes on them, it strangely doesn’t feel tiring at all. Is it because we never tire to see and laugh at the misfortune of others? Maybe. Because after the umpteenth time Hanako drops into a manhole or the river, we are still able to smile is it because Hanako herself comes out undefeated as she puts a big smile across her face? What about Hibari and her ‘tragic love story’? There is this little hope inside of us that wished the safety mascot guy would just become animated for a second and reply her love. As silly as it may seem and implausible, we still hope for that. What about Botan whose feeble bones are one of the main pillars of this series’ running joke? It is like every time she moves or the mere contact with her body, her bones will break far worse than a sportsman gets into a head on collision. I’m just freaking surprised that her neck didn’t snap by the weight of her own head or body.

And in every group, there is always the mischievous type and Hibiki fulfils that role in otherwise what would have been a very dull group. In such groups, you always need that ‘special’ someone to spice things up and although Hibiki isn’t so bad as the naughty troublemaker type but I guess it provides some other lively variety in addition to Hanako’s airhead liveliness. Otherwise you’d have to deal with the serious face Hibari, the weak Botan and the emotionless Ren. Seeing how ‘happy’ everybody is in this series, Saginomiya’s displeasure for such class makes her like the antagonist. It feels like as though she has some sort of history or experience with such and thus her overall discontentment. Although she is a bit relaxed with them in the end but I believe it isn’t totally stemmed out. As for Kodaira? Don’t let the sweet eternal smile fool you. You better do what she says or else…

Lastly Timothy. What else would be better than cute girls? A cute rabbit mascot! That is all I can see what this bunny’s role is for here. Otherwise pretty much annoying and useless to begin with. Speaking of Timothy, the only character that boggled me was the shy twintail girl behind the controls of Timothy. I thought she would be the foreshadowing of something or at least make a decent appearance but right up till the end she remains the biggest mystery ever and possibly a red herring. I mean, if they never revealed there was somebody behind Timothy, the series would still proceed as normal. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway as far as this season is concerned.

But you know what they say about being unlucky and sad is only a state of mind. It all depends on you to choose whether you want to be miserable or look life with optimism. That is especially the case for Hanako who refuses to be bogged down by her misfortunes. She may look silly brushing off wave after wave of bad luck but you should see how strong this girl is in this case. You can say she is in denial after being hit with another bad luck but she chose to look at it in a positive light and that itself is a very good thing. In fact, despite their overwhelming misfortune on the outlook, the girls in the happiness class are actually miracles. Another good case in point is Botan herself. You know how she always breaks bones like a running joke, right? With all the ‘x-ray visions’ of seeing her bones shatter to pieces, normal humans would have just died. Seeing how Botan continues to live and she isn’t screaming in furious pain after each fracture (it is as though she has just weakened significantly) shows that this is one heck of a living miracle, right?

What about the rest? Even if Ren attracts other females, it does not have an effect on our main characters (except Hibiki) or even her other classmates and especially Kodaira. So that is not bad, right? And at least she only has the attractive pheromones for females. Even if she often sleeps in and leaves her window open and in turn animals creep in and heap a pile on her, it’s not like she suffocated to death, right? Hibiki always gets lost, you say? Well, she eventually will reach her destination, say 3 hours later? Yup. She just takes (a lot) longer than usual. Hibari? It is good to know that her crush will never reject her and thus she will never have to face the prospects of being heart-broken! Yes, this is indeed a miracle. So you see, these girls might seem to have experience bad lucks throughout their lives but I believe that another hidden great miracle force behind it is keeping them safe and sound, cancelling out the extremities of their bad luck. I mean, they are living an overall peaceful and happy life, right? They are not in some war torn zone or having hunger issues, am I right? Therefore everything about the misfortune as portrayed in here can be summarized as something to be in one’s state of mind. In other words, don’t let it get to you.

When I first watched a few episodes of this series, it occurred to me how similar this series, I started noticing how familiar the characters are to other characters in the similar cute girls doing cute things genre. I mean, if you have seen YuruYuri, Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka, Kiniro Mosaic and even Non Non Biyori, you can see how similar many of the girls’ personality are in these animes as well. For example how Hibiki look strangely uncanny to YuruYuri’s Sakurako but her character is also almost close to her as the mischievous type. Doesn’t Hanako feel like Akari’s character in that series as well? Ren like Yui? And while it is not so prominently exact in the rest, but noticed how that in all of them you have the lively airhead, the mischievous troublemaker, the expressionless and emotionless girl and the, uhm, seemingly normal girl? I guess when you have a group of characters, it is hard to stray away from at least one of those stereotypes.

I thought it had a little element borrowed from Hidamari Sketch series as well since each of the episodes titles have a date in it. Perhaps this could be one of those series in a long while that doesn’t follow a chronological order. But all that was just trolling because the entire series from start to finish does follow a chronological order and based on the dates of each episode, there are none that go back or go forward in between the episodes. Also another element reminding me of that said anime is the eye-catches. It isn’t just for the mid-intermission like many other animes but could be anywhere and anytime throughout the episode.

Art and drawing is of course moe and cute. Otherwise how would you stomach and laugh at the ridiculous misfortune that is made all the funnier? You wouldn’t want to see ugly people getting caught up in an ugly mess, would you? So with everything made cute, it softens the approach and takes our mind off the accidents the girls faced. Taking moe and kawaii to the extreme are the animals as they look so cute that you might want to squeeze them to death. Unless you are like Hanako in which she will never ever be able to hug or even approach one. CGI is also employed but that is limited to Timothy, his mini versions and that mecha craft he rode.

You know, just when I thought I might have finally recognized Kikuko Inoue’s voice as Kodaira, then came the bad news. It wasn’t her. Shucks. Turned out to be Yumi Hara instead (Marielle in Log Horizon). Thus the only voice I could recognize is Ami Koshimizu as Saginomiya. Not so bad, huh? Too bad I didn’t recognize the rest as they are mostly new ones. They are Yumiri Hanamori as Hanako (Chiaya in The Rolling Girls), Haruka Shiraishi as Hibari (Kirie in Himouto! Umaru-chan), Kiyono Yasuno as Botan (Koneko in Hamatora), Hibiku Yamamura as Hibiki (Rukia in Shinmai Maou No Testament Burst), Mayu Yoshioka as Ren (Mayu in Wake Up, Girls!) and Chitose Morinaga as Timothy (Karen in Shomin Sample).

Both the opening and ending themes are sung by Happy Clover (they are basically the main quintet of the series in which I initially got confused their name with another pop idol group, Momoiro Clover Z). The opener is Punch Mind Happiness is as wacky as it sounds while the ending piece, Ashita De Ii Kara might be a bit slower but it sounds rather okay as a typical anime idol pop song. At least I like its opener which has a little hip in it. Can’t help notice my head is moving to the beat of the song. An element that had me wonder why this show made me remember Gochuumon Usagi Wa Desu Ka is the background music. That cute fluffy BGM certainly does ring a bell. Not to say that they are using the same BGM but the tune and tempo it is played instantly brings up that series.

Overall, an entertaining series if you are into moe comedy. It might get a little boring sometimes because there is no decent plot to go around and the funny parts in general are somewhat the same thing masked in a different form. I mean seriously, do you watch a cute girls doing cute things genre for the story? Do you watch porn for it story?! Not too sure if you want to see more of them and hence another season, does this mean you are a sadist and want to see the girls suffer more bad luck? Does getting another season mean that the girls are still in the midst of their bad luck streak or is it because their fortunes turn for the better as viewers love them so much to buy the DVDs allowing for another season to be made. Yeah… It’s so confusing. One person’s bad luck is another person’s fortune. Let’s just hope that the bad luck will not turn into curses.

Anne Happy

Sansha Sanyou

October 15, 2016

Wow. This cute girls doing cute things trope is really getting out of hand. Every season we have at least one that falls into this category and this season of spring 2016, it would be Sansha Sanyou. It is their turn to spam and add to the ever growing number of series that falls under this category. Again from the very vague synopsis, it generally tells the daily lives and activities of 3 high school girls whose personalities are as different as night and day. This is how they survive from day to day with their clashing personality. In this funny story. Ah, the keyword is funny. You got my attention there. So there you have it. Your cute girls doing cute things without a decent and proper plot for the season. And we (especially yours truly) keep falling for the same thing in hopes there would always be something different. Sometimes we are surprised of something unique but most of the time it would be disappointing or plain boring. That is why the only way to determine if this is just another run of the mill genre or otherwise is to always watch it yourself.

Episode 1
Yoko Nishikawa is eating her bread crusts alone when Futaba Odagiri and Hayama stumble in and join her. The duo just like everyone in school knows about Yoko. Because she is a rich girl. Apparently Yoko eats alone because she has no friends. Before recess is over, the duo tell her to deep fry the crusts and sprinkle sugar on them to taste better. She tries making this never-made-before recipe. She wants to try it out with them tomorrow but they are not at her usual spot. She feels disappointed but then they stumble in again. As they chat, they hear some weird sounds coming out from the bushes. Who the f*ck is this guy screaming?! He is Mitsugu Yamaji and Yoko’s ex-butler. He is glad to see Yoko making friends especially since her father’s company just went bankrupt, he is happy that she is getting along fine despite her pampered rich upbringing. Yoko claims he is exaggerating. Next day, the trio meet again at the same spot. Futaba this time eats an entire loaf while Yoko puts mayonnaise on her crusts. I don’t think this is as healthy as she thinks. Again, Yamaji pops out from the bush, crying in his happiness that Yoko is making normal progress with commoners. Is this going to be a recurring thing? But Yamaji can’t be reported as a stalker trespassing as he is working part time to refill vending machines. To show his happiness, he gives Yoko the entire pudding stock. That made her day… As they talk about their favourite foods, Yoko feels the need to give an answer that won’t sound strange. But pudding with rice does sound gross. Since the mayonnaise answer didn’t quite cut it, she fears they might start hating her. Thus she goes home to make onigiri. However they are just rice without any fillings or salt. Futaba laments she has failed but the duo pick up and eat them. Not bad, right? The trio then go to the public bath. Yoko can’t waste Hayama’s kindness and tries to stay as long as she could but only dizzies herself out.

Episode 2
As the trio eat together, a cat pops out from the bushes. Hayama can’t restrain herself and cuddles it. Hayama loves animals and it is her dream to open a park filled with them. In fact she has a pet cat named Bel. That’s short for Beelzebub, the demon lord of flies?! It seems Serina Nishiyama considers Hayama her rival. But Hayama always outranks her in everything. Even when she tries psychological insults, Hayama will not snoop low to her level and instead Nishiyama herself reels from her own backlash. But what riles Hayama up is when there are abandoned kittens on the roadside! She will not stop to find them proper shelter. She manages to do so for all but one. Nishiyama’s friend, Asako Kondo suggests to give Nishiyama since she had a cat before it died. A life saviour! While our trio try to call each other nicknames, Yamaji pops out of the blue just to tell them to call Yoko as it is. Yes, Yoko-sama. This has Futaba wondering Hayama’s first name. Each time she asks, she changes the subject. Till this girl, Kou starts calling her as Teru. After a few teasing, who is this Kou girl? She is Hayama’s older sister! No way! She gives them sweets to try but as soon as Futaba pops it in her mouth, she collapses! Holy sh*t! Is she the kind of girl who is bad in cooking?! Kou and Hayama go out to buy ingredients. They bump into Futaba along the way as she joins them. They see Yoko tussling with other elderly women for a cheap sale on mayonnaise. Pathetic… They enter the raffle. While Futaba is bad luck, Kou has the best of luck because she won all top 3 prizes! That was how she won the free public bath ticket too. Flashback shows Hayama often gets hurt and sick a lot and Kou was always there to nurse her. That is why she is always trying to make sure she gets her nutrients regularly. It made Hayama realize she has always been worried about her health. However the next day, Kou joins the friends during lunch and her onigiri looks like it is made out of poison! What nutrients is she talking about?! This doesn’t look healthy at all! But Futaba feels bad Kou went out her way to make food and can’t waste her kindness. She starts stuffing down the food! Don’t kill yourself! Note: The way she is breathing and chomping it down sounds horny ambiguous…

Episode 3
Futaba brought her own lunch because she ran out of lunch allowance for this month. She thinks about taking up a part time job and this also has Yoko thinking the same. But they can only imagine her as an arrogant waitress. They are in luck when a flyer flies into Futaba’s face indicating a newly opened bakery. But when they visit, they see blood on the floor! Oh sh*t! They follow the trail and the corpse of a maid falls out from the room! Horror! Then she comes back to life! Double horror! But Yoko is not freaked out and knows who she is. Shino Sonobe was her former maid. Apparently she was making jam but fell asleep while eating. Sleeping with her eyes open? Since making sweets is all that she is good for, thus the reason she opened a bakery after her retrenchment. Sonobe enters a strong emotionless reaction learning Yoko has made friends. She is more than happy for her to work here. However Yamaji opposes and won’t let Yoko work. The former butler and maid enter an epic battle and it ends when Yoko orders them to stop. Since this isn’t Futaba’s cup of tea, she kills 2 birds with a stone by entering an eating competition and wins its cash reward. This way, she won’t go hungry and still have extra money. I hope that person won’t go out of business quick… Futaba and Hayama visit Yoko when she is working at the bakery. With its small selection and mostly female customers, she is able to get by. Next day in school, Futaba and Hayama are shocked to see Sonobe here. She even made a perfect uniform and fits in with the crowd. You can’t even tell if she is an outsider. She is here to share some food with Yoko. It seems Sonobe may have intended to come here all along as she has made Yoko’s favourite mayonnaise food. She hopes the friends would take care of Yoko and continue to be friends. Then she goes off because Yamaji is here to pick a fight with her. Next morning, Sonobe is handing out flyers to students about her bakery. This incurs the wrath of Yoko but she ignores her and continues handing them out.

Episode 4
The trio reminisces their childhood days. Yoko being the ultimate oujo-sama life, Futaba the energetic glutton and Hayama… Something about getting depressed because of the wrong present she got from Santa and therefore the need to work hard even if it is just all a show. Wow. So deep… Nishiyama is mad the pictures of her cat she submitted are not featured in the magazine. Even more unfortunate, Hayama’s is and the duo begin a cat fight. Literally. However they find their cats too cute to quarrel to begin with. Yoko would love to have a pet but I think she already has one. Because when she throws a stick and says fetch, Yamaji quickly jumps out to catch it! Nishiyama won’t lose and desperately tries to take cute pictures of her cat. But you know cats, they literally make your life hell so in her case it won’t sit still. In the end she couldn’t get a decent cat photo. Futaba mentions her hobby is cooking but the rest don’t believe her. When they ask about Yoko’s parents, she says her mom died when she was little and her dad is trying to start anew again. Although living away, he still sends her money for living allowance. On the way home, they bump into this kid, Yuu Takazono. He is Yoko’s fiancé. You know, that kind of promise you make as a kid to marry in the future? Yeah. He is that kid. But Yoko doesn’t seem too keen on that past promise now. When Yuu passes Yamaji, he believes he is superior than this ex-butler and calls him a stalker. Futaba needs her friends help as she goes to pick up her cousin, Sakura Usuda who would be staying here for a week. Does a little girl need so many luggages? What an irrelevant question. She is a woman no matter the age! Haha! Thankfully that is what Yamaji is good for. Yuu happens to come by to give Yoko some high premium Wagyu beef. Sakura suddenly hugs him. He is her potential husband candidate although Yuu is not happy about it. Since when did this anime get complicated in the romance department?! Yoko is deep lost in her Wagyu fantasies… Unfortunately when she tried to cook them, it is burnt to a crisp. Don’t worry. Remember Futaba can cook. The most awesome Wagyu meal ever! Respect. This has Yoko reminisce her mother’s cooking and she feels good as it has been a long time since she ate with others. She vows to learn cooking and invite them over.

Episode 5
While hanging out at a diner, Yoko accidentally dozes off and bangs her head on the table. This rude awakening has her screaming who did this prank before realizing in embarrassment. Now that she has a bump on her head, it will be difficult for her to work facing the customers. Yamaji is seriously affected that his oujo-sama is hurt. After Sonobe tells her to rest, she falls into panic mode wondering how her store would cope. As Futaba teases Hayama to work here, Sonobe ropes in both of them. Hayama is not pleased she is wearing a maid outfit while Futaba wears a different one but similar to Yoko’s. Well, let’s just say Futaba’s size is different from hers… While Futaba is natural in mixing with the customers since she is an oddball herself, Hayama isn’t. By the time she sums up her courage to welcome customers, it is Kou at the door. Apparently Futaba called her here. She wants to give sweets as reward but you know how bad they are. Even a sweet lover like Sonobe clearly stays away! Then Yuu barges in, disagreeing Yoko should be working in such a creepy place. Kou nicely tells him off to be careful with his words or he’ll hurt others. He has a change of heart. Wait a minute. Does he like her now? Or does he like older women? Kou wants to give her cooking to Yoko. Better stop her before she never recovers! However the next day, Yoko is back to normal and filled with energy. I don’t know what Kou put in that food because she couldn’t sleep for the entire night! Nishiyama and Kondo patron the place. Sonobe can sense a great rivalry between them and asks if she would like to work here. But Sonobe is interrupted by Yamaji as they get into an ‘epic’ fight about hiring another weirdo. After they leave, Hayama gives Nishiyama treats for her cat. Next morning, Nishiyama goes to the bakery to get more of those treats. Sonobe misinterprets she wants to work for her and before you know it, she already dons the maid outfit. However Sonobe notes her smile is either unnatural or creepy (but she still snaps a shot anyway). To get that beautiful smile, she compliments her for a job well done. That perfect smile is first seen by Hayama and co. Busted… Since the store is getting busy, the others help out. At the end of the day, Nishiyama has enough money to buy a new camera to take more pictures of her cat. Then she spots Sonobe too. What is she printing? Multiple copies of Nishiyama’s smile! Is she using this as blackmail to work for her?

Episode 6
The beach, the sun and the sea! Too bad our girls are here to work at Sonobe’s beach house. Since Yoko doesn’t know what a beach house is, this leaves the rest appalled over her sheltered life. Yoko orders Sonobe to explain it to her in some ritual dance. WTF?! I don’t even know what she is doing in the sand… While the girls are handing out flyers, Yuu is seen speeding in with his speedboat. He wants to help Yoko with the sales and orders everything from the menu. They only sell desserts so he has to eat all of them. I wonder how long his brain freeze will last. And Yamaji revels in seeing this kid suffer as her serves more. And there is meat BBQ after that too. You up for it? Then Kou comes by and will help out with the cooking. I guess this isn’t funny anymore. Time to call the ambulance just in case. On the final day at the beach, the girls have the day off but they can’t swim and the beach is deserted since there is a warning that sharks have been spotted. Bummer. But thanks to Yuu, they can play in a hotel pool. Yuu thought he could have fun with Yoko but it seems Sakura is here too on a family vacation. The moment she seems him, she jumps to hug him as they both fall into the pool. An ambulance picks Yuu up and Sakura accompanies him. Death has never been this painful… Guess who is here too? Nishiyama and Kondo too. Their cover is blown when Nishiyama goes to retort Futaba fishing cockles out of the pool. How in the world? Is that legal? Kou forces her sister to learn swimming by pushing her into the pool. She barely came out alive and she thought of staying positive that she has lasted this long without knowing how to swim, only to be dragged away for lessons at the kiddie pool. Luckily Sonobe and Yamaji are here to deliver their lunch. At the end of the day, they take a train back. They see Nishiyama and Kondo leaning on each other sleeping. Futaba does the same on Yoko. Since she is sleep talking about food, Yoko gets the wrong idea she could have a feast if she falls asleep.

Episode 7
While walking home, suddenly a boy confronts Futaba. Looks like he is mad at her but soon runs away. They ponder who this kid is since Futaba doesn’t recognize him. After she aces another eating challenge, since each of her win is commemorated with a photo, could it be that is how he knew her name? Then in school, this time a girl who looks bloody similar like that boy, confronts Futaba. She too runs away. Deja vu? This girl turns out to be Sasame Tsuji and Yoko’s classmate. Tsuji is told to meet Yoko at the rooftop later but she didn’t count on meeting Futaba too. Tsuji clarifies that boy, Hajime is her older brother and not her twin. She wants Futaba to stop hogging the wins at the eating challenge. Futaba assures she will beat him so bad that he will never overdo it himself again. Erm… I don’t think she put it right. Because Tsuji feels even worse and ends up crying. Futaba tries to be considerate in her next eating challenge by not taking it up. But since Hajime is here, the challenge is on. Despite he finishes first, Futaba is enjoying her meal. This makes him feel that he has lost and won’t forgive her the next time. Tsuji is in a dilemma to help put a stop to Futaba because she fears Yoko won’t be her friend anymore. So with a lame trap that everyone can spot miles away, she is exposed of her intentions. Time to run away crying again? In school, Tsuji bumps into Yoko. She panics and causes a series of bloopers that ended up spilling her money. More ‘trauma’ for her when Hayama comes by. However she isn’t as bad as she thinks as she lends her money. It made Tsuji feel a little nice inside. She wants to go to return the money and learns Yoko works part time at the bakery. As she spies outside, she is spotted by the trio and ushered in. Though she panics how she ended up in their company, she starts enjoying it. Yamaji and Sonobe are proud of Yoko because Tsuji is the first classmate she talks with. It shows she can make friends without using money and that it is a good thing she became poor. I understand their intentions but they might have chosen the wrong words… Their fate intertwines again when they are paired together for PE class.

Episode 8
Nishiyama and Hayama happen to be at the cat cafe. Seeing each other just ruined their mood and experience. Because of that, Futaba gives a ticket to Hayama to visit a petting zoo. Because there are only 2 tickets, Hayama wants to discuss how to split it. Unfortunately Yoko has to work and Futaba doesn’t like animals (what?!). How about Kou? She’ll be too tiring to deal with. Thus Futaba gives it to Nishiyama. They both turn up and you know sh*t is going to explode any time soon. Futaba and Kondo spy from afar and have this feeling throughout the entire day. However Nishiyama is bragging about her knowledge on everything and Hayama is just holding it in. You know how animals react when they sense earthquake? Yup. Hayama’s limit of tolerating Nishiyama’s arrogance is about to explode. No more Ms Nice Girl… Well, let’s say at least there are no casualties. When Futaba suggests forming a rock band, suddenly out of the blue Kou starts singing a song for the dead! OMG! Yoko becomes so ‘captivated’ that she sees her life flashing before her eyes and almost crosses the River Styx! Then when Kondo eggs Nishiyama to sing, she blows her top instead. Because of that, Yoko notices Kondo has been by herself since. Did the duo really have a fight? Because now Kondo seems to join the trio for lunch. Kondo is such a blunt girl that her honest words really cut your heart. Yeah, she lacks tact. You don’t know if she is praising, belittling or just insensitive. When Tsuji confronts Futaba about beating Hajime again, she spots Yoko with Kondo. Kondo mentions she is special and in turn Tsuji gets the wrong idea and runs away crying. Kondo accompanies the trio to the bakery to get something to make Nishiyama feel better. Sonobe would gladly give the maid uniform instead of a cake. Yoko is embarrassed when the rest clarify her misunderstanding that Kondo and Nishiyama were fighting. Nishiyama is actually out sick. As she is recuperating in bed, she hums a song about her cat. The rest are outside her room. I guess they have to wait till she finishes?

Episode 9
As the cultural festival is coming up, Hayama’s class is taking suggestions on what to do. Futaba suggests a curry cafe and with Sonobe barging in to give her support, everyone is convinced to choose this. To learn more about curry, Futaba takes the eating challenge but for the first time she couldn’t finish it as it was too spicy. Apparently someone beat her to it yesterday: Sonobe. The owner thought it was too easy and increased the spiciness. Hajime thought he could defeat her but he too cannot finish. As Yoko’s class is doing a haunted house and she is commissioned to play a zombie and doesn’t know how, Kondo suggests visiting the toilet legend Hanako. Futaba who hates ghosts is against this but Yoko seems very enthusiastic about it. Before Futaba knows it, she is alone. She gets a jump scare when Nishiyama pops up. Kondo and Yoko soon return. They find that visiting every toilet would be troublesome and scrapped the idea. The festival is underway. When Hayama and Futaba are promoting their curry cafe, a group of scared people are seen running away. What is that hideous thing creeping out from the corner? It’s zombie Yoko! OMG! Her face makeup is so scary like real!!! All thanks to Sonobe’s makeup skill. Yamaji who was once against Yoko being a zombie because it isn’t her character, now supports her all the way because he believes these commoners should be fearful of Yoko! Futaba and Hayama visit the haunted house. Tsuji thought she could scare Futaba and avenge her brother. Since both sides are fumbling in the dark, when Futaba switches on the torchlight, it is that scary face of Yoko! Even Tsuji is freaked out! Thanks to their genuine scream, it attracts more people to the haunted house. Great advertising. Sonobe is unfortunate to be roped into Kou’s juice stand. Then she is made to carry full glasses of juices to her pals. Hope she doesn’t spill… The other highlight of the festival is Sakura’s horrible karaoke. The most unfortunate is Yuu as he is standing next to her as she sings. Can’t get away. Tight hand grip… When Yoko eats at the curry cafe, all the patrons freak out and run away. Even after the festival ends, you wonder when she is going to take off her makeup.

Episode 10
Yoko and Futaba are planning their Christmas party when Kou lets them in on a big secret: It is also Hayama’s birthday. Because of this knowledge, the duo become very conscious before Hayama and it makes everything seem awkward. They plan a surprise birthday bash when Sonobe wants Yoko to help out distribute cake flyers. Cake shops will always be busy on Christmas day, you know. What’s more, if sales are good, Yoko might get a raise. Hayama almost heard their plan but thanks to Sonobe distracting her, the rest are safe to proceed. When Nishiyama learns Hayama’s birthday is on Christmas, she falls into depression! Her favourite day of the year has to be the same day as her rival’s birthday! Hayama is really surprised by Yoko and Futaba surprise. She never thought about it because since celebrating her birthday has naturally become secondary in celebrating Christmas. Yoko eats Kou’s dish and I’m not sure if she is feeling energetic or dead. Next day, Hayama brags to Nishiyama how the world celebrates her birthday but an upset Nishiyama wants her to apologize for being born on that day and taint the meaning of Christmas! The snow is getting heavy and Hayama doesn’t want to go out. To motivate her to do so, Kou built a snow hut. Looks nice. But then it collapses on her. It’s always safe and warm inside… As the girls plan for New Year, Sonobe suggests having a pyjamas party. Yoko will gladly be the host. But as it turns out this pyjamas party… The trio just sit around in an empty room covered with blankets. So cold, so boring… It gets more awkward when they fall on top of each other. And Sonobe is trying to record this pathetic event with her camcorder. It isn’t all that bad since the next morning Futaba has made mochi. But she has made many flavours of it and large servings for everyone. You can have my share…

Episode 11
As Yoko tells her friends how she saw a cat stuck up a tree and Yamaji helped brought it down, they believe this will lead to Yoko being repaid by the cat in the future. So when that happens, Hayama wants Yamaji to capture that moment and gives him a film. Hayama also dreams of her cat repaying her but in real life it gives her a bug? Hayama and Nishiyama get into another argument whose cat is cuter. It is decided they take pictures and their friends will judge. Hmm… Hard to call… I guess they’ll settle for both of them being cute. When Hajime again challenges Futaba, however this restaurant has banned her and kicks her out. Tsuji claims victory by default in which Yoko congratulates him. When he goes to tell his sister about this, she is not very happy. Because they are not close friends yet, this may make Yoko feel awkward. Tsuji throws pillows at him to show her displeasure. After learning Sakura wants to make Valentine chocolates for Yuu, Yoko tells her intention to Yamaji. He is making excuses not to hear it. Sonobe also gets the wrong idea believing she will overwork herself, causing her to fall sick and Sonobe will be busier than ever! Thus she pleads Nishiyama for help and she is not too pleased. But with Futaba and Hayama offering, I guess she can’t refuse. To Hayama’s horror, she is made to dress in a different outfit. Sonobe thought she didn’t want to wear this one and pulled 2 nights straight to make a new one for her! The girls work hard as the bakery is swarmed with customers. But a successful day nevertheless. When Yoko learns Sonobe was sleeping throughout the entire time to make up for her all-nighter, she blows her top. Kondo praises Nishiyama’s outfit during her stint but when Hayama does the same, she becomes embarrassed and like a tsundere. Not used to her compliments? Yoko has finished her chocolates and gives them to her friends. They don’t melt but they’re still edible… Huh? When Tsuji receives those chocolates, she goes into extreme unbelievable crazy reaction. How can she repay all this?! It’s like the end of the world for her. Same thing for Yamaji. Never expect he will get some, eh? Sonobe is eagerly waiting her turn but never gets hers. Did Yoko miss out somebody? On purpose?

Episode 12
Yoko finds the characters of her friends totally changed. Like Hayama is polite and Nishiyama very timid. Kou is a delinquent who wants to smash up everything with a smile?! What’s this? Yamaji is a noble teacher?! Yoko thinks he is fooling around and slaps him! How dare she slap a teacher?! She even dares him! You know something is wrong when Sonobe is a sexy busty lady. Yup, turns out to be Sonobe’s dream. I knew it. But this is definitely real when Sakura wants the trio to hear out her ‘idol voice’. I think Simon Cowell would have died hearing that. They let her practice by putting a bucket over her head. You know how bad she is when her voice echoes within the bucket and makes her stop singing. When Yoko is working at a bakery, an old school friend drops in. Surprisingly Yoko puts up a professional display and the friend leaves her contacts at the end. Everyone praises her professionalism but after that Yoko starts collapsing and panicking, a great relief that ordeal was over. After being chided by Sakura that she lacks feminine appeal (ignoring her singing while eating like a glutton), Futaba tries to change her appearance to be more feminine. Will a ribbon do? Her feminine action is so creepy it gives Hayama the hives. Futaba even turns down an eating challenge from Hajime and he lectures her how rude she is to not give a chance to those who lost to her. With her friends preferring to see Futaba in her usual way, she casts away all her feminine side and beats Hajime in the competition. Here comes Kou thinking Futaba needs to be more feminine and has concocted this poison juice for it. I think she’ll just shrivel and die. Yuu has great news their dads will be working together. To cement their relationship, he thought he could ask her to sign the marriage registration form. Too bad Sakura caught it. And he has to live with her awful singing… Tsuji returns a few boxes of chocolates to Yoko as return for Valentine but I suppose she is a week too early for White Day. The trio talk about and refer to the characters in this series as some sort of animal. Whether it is endangered species, protected species or dangerous animals. Yoko announces she is graduating from bread crusts and will now eat instant noodles. Her friends are sarcastic when they tease how she ruined it by putting in the sauce first. Embarrassed Yoko gives up on it and returns to bread crusts.

Three’s A Company ~ A Friendship You Can Be-Leaf In
That was it? What kind of ending was that? Wait a minute. Try to remember what the plot of this anime was in the first place again. None? Ah well, I guess that kind of life goes on for our friends should be a decent ‘ending’ for this kind of genre. Although this series in a nutshell isn’t all that bad, it lacks something that needs to make it stand out. That is why in a why I am glad that it only has a dozen episodes instead of dragging it out to 2 cours with cute silly nonsense that might seem repetitive and boring after a few episodes in.

We have already been clearly warned on what kind of anime this is therefore it somewhat helps in reducing our expectations of this show. Take a look at the plot. What plot?! Exactly. This series is even more generic than other similar cute girls doing cute things animes. For instance like Anne Happy we have misfortune as somewhat the theme. Kiniro Mosaic has blondes directly from England while Gochuumon Usagi Wa Desu Ka at least has coffee shops and tea shops to go with. Even YuruYuri has that wacky Amusement Club and student council group. But what about Sansha Sanyou? I can’t seem to place precisely what it is supposed to be. So it could have been anything and anybody for all we know. But fortunately even if it does seem general, this show isn’t that all too bad as I have said.

The characters themselves are a hit and miss. While they are not as lovable, you won’t loathe or hate them either. Yes, yet another bunch of generic characters and groups that have seemingly the cliché character tropes. From glutton girl with a black hole stomach to a fallen rich oujo-sama trying to live her life as a commoner to a dual personality animal lover. Well, Hayama’s case may be questionable because I don’t see her really being a nasty demon. She might not be the nicest person but she isn’t seen all that mean either. But then again, she may be showing us her angelic side for most of the time and that might be a good thing because you don’t really want to be traumatized if you ever see her true colours.

As for Kou, I can’t remember anything about this sweet girl besides her deadly poison cooking that could have rivalled Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn’s Bianchi. But hey, at least some of her cooking ‘revitalizes’ you. Okay, maybe it is like being high on drugs… So if Hayama has a devil personality and Kou’s cooking is more like a demon’s dish, and both sisters have this pleasant outlook, wouldn’t that make them just dangerous? Thank goodness nobody dies… It would be interesting to see how Yoko came to her predicament from a rich girl to a commoner (and if there are other ex-servants she will bump into because you can’t be a rich girl and just have a couple of servants, right?) but I suppose you have to take things here light heartedly as opposed to taking things too seriously. Basically the entire series is about them interacting with each other and other supporting characters. How well it plays out depends on how well you love them. For me, well, they’re rather okay. Hah. Middle ground stance again…

Aside the main trio, I feel the other characters are lacking. Like Yamaji who is just a stalker and Sonobe the emotionless maid who always needs to solicit help and business for her bakery. But these two aren’t so bad and at least provide some interaction and laughs. Because Sakura and Yuu just feel wasted as their roles and potential. So what if Yuu is Yoko’s childhood self-promised fiancé? So what if Sakura is Yuu’s self-proclaimed fiancée? It feels it could have been at least decently developed but unfortunately it turned out to be some sort of minor running joke and distraction. Something that isn’t necessary in the first place but needed because you need more ‘interesting’ characters besides the main trio.

Also feeling a little wasted is Nishiyama as Hayama’s rival. Showing more of her pride and rivalry might have enhanced Hayama’s angelic-looks-but-mean-personality reputation as we see the bespectacled girl owning the resident loser all the time. But in some cases Nishiyama ends up helping Hayama out although at the end of the day she doesn’t top her at all. Then there is Nishiyama’s friend Kondo who is as blunt in her conversations and lacking tact. Could have been another interesting character too if not for her limited screen time. And the Tsuji siblings feel also the same with Hajime reduced to a running joke as Futaba’s eternal food challenger and Tsuji being anxious about every inch of her friendship with Yoko. It is odd that the duo finds friendship among themselves as they cannot find friends with others in the same class. It feels like making a right with 2 wrongs. As the saying goes, best friends are like a four leaf clover. Hard to find and lucky to have. I’m sure the duo fit in nicely here. In a nutshell, sure, these characters add variety to your main ‘3 leaves’ but they hardly add any spice to it all. Looks different but tastes the same.

I have a feeling that food is also a subtle theme in this anime because in every episode you can see the characters munching on something (thanks to Futaba) or some other food on display. While it is not obvious as it is to advertise the food, it could run from Yoko’s running joke of only eating bread crusts (Futaba just devours the entire loaf), the food challenges between Yoko and Hajime, Sonobe’s bakery and the Valentine chocolates (although the process of seeing Yoko make the chocolates is entirely skipped). But seeing all the yummy food, it didn’t make me feel hungry. Is that a good or bad thing?

Art and drawing are also in line with the cuteness of everything. So are we complaining? Done by Doga Kobo who also produced similar genres like YuruYuri, GJ-Bu, Himouto! Umaru-chan, Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi, Love Lab, Hidan No Aria AA, Koihime+Musou and Mikakunin De Shinkoukei. It is that time again for me to reiterate how some characters look like they are from other anime thanks to their uncanny looks and because I have seen so many animes that I think I’ve seen them somewhere before. Like the most obvious ones such as Nishiyama whom I think is Hinagiku of Hayate No Gotoku fame trying her luck in this series after there is no word if that said series would have future seasons. And doesn’t Yoko look like that Miyuki girl from Angel Beats? Kirie from Girls Bravo comes to mind whenever I see Futaba. Just minus the boobs. And Tsuji doesn’t she look like that sneaky Shiranui of Medaka Box? At certain angles, Sakura looks like a young Rin of the Fate series. I’m sure that I have seen the rest from somewhere but at this point I’m too lazy to think about it. Yeah… If you are a cat person, it is probably a bonus to see cute cats here.

I have this misconception that Satomi Arai was behind Sonobe’s voice. Maybe my ears are failing me. Turns out to be Rika Momokawa instead whose only other role so far is Shizuku from Fushigi Na Somera-chan. Many of the casts are newbies too such as Yuu Wakui as Yoko (Sumire Hikami in Aikatsu), Mai Kanazawa as Futaba (her only other role is an minor extra in Monster Musume), Ayaka Imamura as Hayama (Miyabi in Absolute Duo), Machico as Nishiyama (Sophie in Seiken Tsukai No World Break), Aina Suzuki as Kondo (Shiori in Joukamachi No Dandelion), Haruka Watanabe as Yuu (Kai in Chaos Dragon) and Kotone Kuwayama as Hajime (Ameiro Cocoa is her only other anime so far). Chiemi Tanaka as Tsuji and Nao Natsuno as Sakura are making their debut in this anime. Of course there are some veterans like Kenji Akabane as Yamaji (Arashi in Triage X) and Asuka Nishi as Kou (Shinobu in Kiniro Mosaic) and a few others as minor extra characters.

Both the opening themes are sung by Triple Feeling. Clover Kakumation as the opener is as hectic and chaotic as it can get as lively as it already is. Stepping up that frenzy pace is how the singers sing some of the lines very fast like as though they are rapping. It makes you wonder if there is any full stop in the sentences and if the singers ever stop to breathe. If you think about it, I think it is quite amazing in that sense having to sing for long periods without stopping and still managing to make the song sound cute and all. The ending theme, Guuchoki Parade might not be as crazy as its opening counterpart but it is still lively and upbeat as ever.

Overall, nothing ground breaking and all that unique but if you really love the genre of cute girls doing cute things, you will find this your acceptable fix for the season. Otherwise, just another anime with some hits and misses in its potential and would most likely be forgotten by the time the next season arrives. Like many animes, they shine brightly and leafy green for the current season only to fade away into oblivion into the next. It seems the standards of anime need to once again evolve and provide something different and refreshing if they are going to keep using this cute girls doing cute things genre. Better to have your leaves in different kinds of colours no matter how weird they look because it beats having a dry wilted leaf.

Sansha Sanyou

Usakame

October 14, 2016

Wow. I guess Teekyuu has been so crazy and successful that not only spawning so many seasons that ran for a year and even a spinoff of one of their characters weren’t enough that they had to do another spinoff of their rival school tennis club, Usakame. I suppose this is a chance to see their equally crazy counterparts and what goes on over their side of the story. Oh heck. There isn’t really going to be some sort of crazy plot to follow, right? Just mindless fun within 3 minutes that we can all laugh for today before the disappointments of tomorrow come, right?

Episode 1
Kinako Tanaka is waiting for the train. In order not to fall asleep she slaps her own cheeks. But they become swollen after slapping too hard. On the train is also her friend, Ayako Suzuki. When the train brakes, Kinako’s face falls onto Ayako’s boobs like a cushion. When they enter class, Kurumi Satou pops out from the cleaning cabinet to introduce herself. She didn’t even know how she ended up there. The girls go practice tennis. Kurumi wants to learn a technique that will kill her opponents so Kinako suggests taking away all the racquet strings and strangling someone using the racquet. Noticing Kurumi’s extreme motivation today, she explains that she and Ayako are retiring after the next tournament. That’s why she wants to enter the next doubles tournament with her. Kinako is so touched that they hug each other and ignore Ayako cleaning the tennis court alone.

Episode 2
Nishi Nishiaraidaishi arrives at school via scooter. When Ayako mentions her intention to ride one, Nishi becomes a human scooter for her to ride. For some stupid unknown reason, Kinako slides down the stairs railing and this scares Nishi. Then they do something random in which Nishi won. The quartet eat lunch together and Kinako seems to be trying to promote her gourd. It tastes horrible. Kurumi wants to trade boiled beans for omelette but Ayako gets embarrassed as she didn’t think she meant feeding each other. But Nishi has no qualms being fed.

Episode 3
Ayako tries to touch a cat but it bites her. Kurumi and Kinako laugh at this blooper. Ayako gets jealous since they can touch it with ease. The quartet walk home together and stop by a temple. Kinako and Kurumi wrongfully name the temple parts as some sort of foreign landmark. After they make their prayers, they noticed a beckoning cat shrine nearby. The cats are staring at them and they think it isn’t polite. On the way home, Kinako treats everyone with hot potato. Nishi shows her gratitude by giving her a rock. They stumble into that cat again. Once more, everyone can touch it except Ayako. They teach her to let the cat know she is her friend. Time for the acid test. It still bites her.

Episode 4
Sora Shibakusa, the advisor for the tennis club is already having a hard time with her hangover. Now she has to put up with the girls making a human pyramid for who knows God what reason. I don’t know how she ended up joining their human chain. Then she goes to watch the girls practice tennis but falls into their pit trap they dug. The school didn’t pay her enough to put up with this sh*t. Shibakusa then pairs up Ayako with Nishi, dashing Kurumi’s dream. She pleads to work hard to be partnered with Ayako but Nishi insists she too wants Ayako as her partner. So what about Kinako? Nobody cares about her. As she has them practice, they practise doing a human pyramid.

Episode 5
The girls play Old Maid but Ayako always keeps losing. Shibakusa then has them in a practice match with their counterparts from Teekyuu. They spend more time trying to decide who plays who than actual practising. Hoheto Irohani then enters the scene. She is Shibakusa’s ex-student and the girls’ senior. She tries to give all the girls a hug but Nishi beats her down. The practice begins with all the weird moves you’ll never see in tennis. We won’t know who win. Does it matter? It gives Usakame girls motivation to head for the Nationals. Setting their sights too high?

Episode 6
After another of practice, everyone argues for Ayako to carry them. Kurumi invites everyone to her house which is in the middle of the shopping district so it is no surprise everyone is friendly with her. Kurumi’s dad is weird because he’s complaining about a peanut stuck in his ear and thinks Ayako is a robot. Kurumi serves her friends zunda (some sort of beans) instead of coffee as she explains who she met Ayako and joined the tennis club together. But Ayako doesn’t remember all those good memories together… Kurumi has everyone join her dinner. What’s on the menu? More zunda…

Episode 7
Nishi is not motivated for PE but when she thought Ayako was looking at her from the classroom, suddenly she is able to do her best. Maybe Ayako wasn’t looking… Kurumi passes funny notes to Ayako during class. The teacher catches her but she is able to answer his question correctly. Kinako thought all that was just a dream so she pinches the cheek of her friend, Miyako Baba and gets slapped. Together with Tasuku Kodaira, the trio do a weird greeting together. Kinako then introduces them to Ayako and Kurumi but takes the liberty to shorten their names. Later Kinako wakes up and again thinks everything is a dream. Then she could feel it… The sleepiness, that is. Then she does a weird greeting with Tasuku that turns out to be just goodbye.

Episode 8
The girls go shopping for new swimsuits. But because this season isn’t the right one to go out to the beach and thus they cannot show off their swimsuits, they head to the indoor pool instead. Don’t have to worry about freezing inside here. So we see them having lots of fun like hugging Ayako like a lifesaver. At the end, they reflect how this is their last year they can play in the tournament together. But Kinako cuts the sad talk because it’s not like they are going to stop being together. Even after Kinako and Kurumi graduates, they can still play tennis and hang out together. Then she reminds them how they are doing with their entrance exam studies. Looks like Kurumi isn’t so fond to hear that…

Episode 9
Ayako and Kurumi patron Kinako’s store. Kinako is trying to sell them stuffs she doesn’t want to them. They don’t need it either. Marimo then visits and brought along Nasuno. To show how rich she is, she buys the entire shelf. However Marimo warns her about getting diabetes so she drops it. After Kinako throws a mini prank bomb at Marimo, Nasuno also wants to try. She’s doing the exact same thing like throwing it at her and wiping off Marimo’s arms. When Nishi enters the store, Kinako offers her to play the lottery in which a video game console is the first prize. She wins but Nishi doesn’t want it and trades it for ice cream instead.

Episode 10
This episode focuses more of the relationship between Kurumi and Nishi. In the clubroom, they compare their lunches and Kurumi feeds her at lightning speed. Ayako has a committee meeting so she can’t come for practice. Kinako? World meeting. WTF. So Kurumi and Nishi practice together. Then it starts to rain. Nishi has no umbrella and intends to dodge all the raindrops. Well, we won’t get to see her do that as Kurumi shares her umbrella. Kurumi asks her why she likes Ayako. She replies she saw Ayako playing tennis before and the reason she joined the club. Even more so when Nishi came from a distinguished school just to come to a normal school to play with her. Thus this is her first and only chance to play doubles with Ayako. Since this is also Kurumi’s last chance, she isn’t giving up too. Then she asks if Nishi likes her. More or less. Okay, acceptable.

Episode 11
Shibakusa is bored so Kinako is here to eat her snack. She then thinks about the singles and doubles team she needs to put. She thought of putting Kinako as the captain but her delusions has her thinking about some corporate-like stuffs. She warns the tennis club will have to shut down if they don’t find any more new members. So Kinako brings back an old man and a cat. Not going to cut it! Shibakusa then has the girls practice as pairs to prepare for the tournament. They will play for the right to pair with Ayako. Nishi and Kurumi face off with each other with Ayako as the referee. Shibakusa and Ayako have genuine comments on their play but Kinako’s comments are about turtle soup… In the end, Nishi wins and Shibakusa makes her announcement who will pair with Ayako.

Episode 12
Flashback shows Ayako and Kurumi are the only one left in the tennis club after their seniors graduate. Kurumi vow they will always be together and hope to recruit more members. Shibakusa is upset because she has been thinking for 10 days and can’t seem to find who should pair with Ayako! Kurumi is then seen skipping ropes for 10 minutes. Something about she missed her own chance to get out of the skipping loop. Shibakusa’s answer? Run away! Kinako devices a plan to break out Kurumi. Throwing a cat certainly didn’t work. Nishi then jumps along with her. The great synchronicity has her snapping out of it. Time for an emotional group up. Ayako notices Kurumi depressed since this is the last time they’ll be together. Ayako reminds her that she was the one who said it first that they’ll always be together. But just this once the 4 of them will only play together. They all toast over ice cream that they’ll do their best at the next tournament.

Uso Kamo?
I don’t want to believe it but I had to. So sad to say… It is just boring. Perhaps this is a reason why this series never got renewed for another season. Because by the time this series ended, Teekyuu already got renewed for another season! OMG. It just shows how hard it is to live up to the craziness of Teekyuu and at this rate, Usakame will always be in its shadows. Forever. Uh huh. The series even ended without even us getting to watch them play in the tournament. It never mattered anyway.

Firstly, I can understand how this series isn’t trying to become like Teekyuu and that it might be trying to differentiate itself although keeping a bit of something familiar. While it is good so that we viewers don’t condemn it as a poor clone of Teekyuu because otherwise we would have just watched that show instead, there is nothing really likeable in this series. After you watched the first few episodes, you kinda wonder where the heck this series is going and what it is supposed to be. I know that there isn’t supposed to be any kind of plot (like Teekyuu) but it isn’t as crazy as Teekyuu. Maybe that is where it fails.

Teekyuu prides itself for being so wacky it parodies almost everything at a fast paced rate that it doesn’t give you a chance to breathe and digest what is going on. This isn’t the case for Usakame as the pacing of each episode is moderate. Comparing both series, it is like Teekyuu is put on fast forward or in more extreme terms, high on drugs. Usakame is so toned down that despite not having a proper plot, it makes you question where it is all going. You see the girls doing random stuffs and their brand of antics but at this point it is hard to separate and not compare them with their Teekyuu counterparts. I can’t. Every time I want to say something good about the girls here, I can’t help but fall back to Teekyuu as reference.

Another failure for this series is the characters although each have their own distinctive personality. Again, I can’t help but compare them to their Teekyuu counterparts. Combined, they might not even come close to one tenth as wacky as the Teekyuu girls. Even the wildest and craziest girl with no logic whatsoever goes to Kinako. I believe her role as the idiotic joker is to keep the series funny but she alone couldn’t save it. She is perhaps the reason why she makes a few crossover cameo in Teekyuu but that is a different story. Ayako is supposed to be like Yuri since she is the most rational of the lot and also the target of their idiocracy. But other than that, she is boring. I don’t even know where to begin with Kurumi and Nishi because sometimes they confuse me. Nishi might come off as the mysterious type since she doesn’t show emotions and Kurumi is just lively. They’re both idiots still. In the end, I fail to see the bond connecting them. If I may call it that. Shibakusa? Boring too despite making only very limited cameo. Irohani? You still remember who the f*ck she is? She’s not even relevant at this time. Same case for Miyako and Tasuku too. Not even the Teekyuu’s cameo for that episode could save the series.

On a trivial note, it made me go WTF learning the kind of episode titles that this anime has. Not that I really care what my titles of each episode for every anime. But again, I have to compare it with Teekyuu. While Teekyuu’s titles are parodied after famous Hollywood movies, Usakame’s titles are like lines and words taken out from some philosophical novel or poem or wherever they come from. Not that I can understand or see its connection to the episode. Maybe it is just to screw with our minds. Because of that, I can’t help feel annoyed that with everything already so lacklustre, the title now is as WTF as ever. Yeah, it aggravated me first world problems ;p.

Trying to differentiate a little from Teekyuu is the art and drawing department. While everything is still as colourful but it is not as bright and flashy. Mainly because you’ll notice that they look like they were drawn using colour pencils. If you watched Senjou No Valkyria, you can see the same art style. However Usakame’s art is poorer. It’s like sometimes they purposely do a rush job and thus the colours feel like they lack that colourfulness and thus looking somewhat dull. So personally, even if the character designs look less cartoonish than their Teekyuu counterparts, this kind of style makes them look like they have poor quality drawn all over them.

Voice acting is pretty decent and nothing to shout about but at least they are all talking in normal pace. All of the main quartet are newbies and this is their debut role. Izumi Araida as Ayako, Hikaru Koide as Kurumi, Maria Tanijiri as Nishi and Yuki Nakashima as Kinako. In fact, they are part of the all-girl idol group, Earth Star Dream. The other members of this idol group helm lesser roles such as Eri Sogabe as Miyako, Kanon Takao as Tasuku and Arisa Aihara as Irohani. Of course this means they sing the opening and ending themes too, Hashire! Usakame Koukou Tennis-bu and Promise You respectively. Typical idol pop song. Nothing that attracts me. Yeah, you can see a real live action performance of them for the first episode’s ending credits animation and a blatant promotion of their group right at the end of the second episode. The only non-Earth Star Dream member part of this cast is Sora Tokui as Shibakusa (Nero in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes).

Overall, Usakame disappointed some but there are others who find it as funny as their Teekyuu counterparts. So it all boils down to preference and perspective on how crazy and wacky you want your tennis club girls to be. At least this show proves Einstein’s theory of relativity because it really makes the 3 minutes drag out to feel like the longest 10 minutes and you’re glad when it is over, it is over. And for Teekyuu it is like the fastest 10 seconds in a 3 minute episode and you’re shocked it is over and begging for more. Teekyuu already advanced and won Wimbledon without having to pick up a racquet and they only did nothing but fooling around. Usakame on the other hand no matter how hard they practice they can never get past the first round. Just sad…

Hey, wait a minute. I knew Hibike! Euphonium was going to get a sequel but I didn’t expect they came out with it so soon. Or is it… So okay, it isn’t anything about that series but are they trying to make another ‘competitor’ for a high school symphony theme? However that is just what we assume when we read the setting of Haruchika ~Haruta To Chika Wa Seishun Suru~. Once you start watching this series, you will find how strikingly different it is. This show isn’t even a musical setting. Yes, it does involve a group of students of a high school band but that is where the similarity ends. This is more like a detective show. Say what? So put away your musical scores and instruments and instead put on your thinking caps because it is time to solve baffling mysteries of the high school from a bunch of kids who have too much time playing detective instead of practising their music. Hmm… Maybe they have got not enough members to play a proper symphony. Or they might be just too damn good either that they have time to poke their noses in other people’s businesses. What’s music got to do with it? They should have joined a detective club instead…

Episode 1
It is Chika Homura’s first day at Shimizu Minami High School and she wants to get a new start when the volleyball team bugs her to join them! She was once on a team but doing menial chores. It was tiring and she didn’t want to waste her youth like that. She thought of joining the wind instrument club to obtain a cuter persona and even had grandma bought her a flute. She meets the club’s teacher, Shinjirou Kusakabe and is surprised that her childhood friend, Haruta Kamijou is also part of this club. Apparently Chika was a big bully towards Haruta but she would have him not remember all that. The club currently only consists of 5 members. The others being Keisuke Katagiri the president and twins Kae and Sae Asahina. Thank God I’m not seeing double. But there is already an incident in the music room. Music notes written on the blackboard with red paint. There is also an ambiguous note left for Kusakabe. With the kind of white flowers next to it, they think it is a dying or revenge message. Since Chika is so blur on everything (like yours truly), Haruta explains that the music notes could be some sort of music cryptogram. Like that Art of the Fugue in which Bach hid his name inside the musical score. As they can’t figure it out, it is back to practising more music. You know Chika sucks at playing the flute when they comment she should be practising alone first. Chika doesn’t mind since she would get some private lessons from Kusakabe. I see…

Back to the music case, Haruta continues to decipher if this is some sort of substitution cipher code but it wasn’t. Time is up so they have to clean up the board. Chika decides to take a picture of this and send it to her mom. That is when Haruta notices something. He realizes everything and has solved it. It uses a simple code that combines notes and numbers to identify a letter based on a keyboard. The message is a personal love message to Kusakabe from a graduated student pouring her feelings into this message that she was unable to tell him so. Kusakabe had already deduced it a long time but as for who that student is, I guess it is best we respect that privacy. Chika never thought unrequited love could be so painful. Haruta thought he could figure something out on Kusakabe’s secret. He was a successful conductor who went overseas but when he returned to Japan, he gave that all up. He only came to this school last year to become a music teacher. Chika thought she could be early to the music room for once but Haruta is already there. Haruta believes Chika likes Kusakabe and the only reason why she joined this club. And then this disturbing thing we all find out because Haruta also hints he is in love with Kusakabe! OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable! This is the weirdest love triangle ever!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 2
The wind instrument club is handing out flyers to get new recruits. When Chika is pushy towards Miyoko Narushima, the latter is not amused and slaps her hand. Haruta knows Narushima is an accomplished oboist and wants her in the club (in their bid to have more members and compete in the Nationals at Fumon Hall). But something went wrong and she stopped. As they try to hear her out, they become her gophers to do errands. However she is still not opening up. Talking to her friend, Mayu Nishikawa, they find out the reason Narushima quit playing the oboe: The day she was at the Nationals last year, it was the same day her little brother Satoshi died. He was hospitalized for a long time and when his condition took a turn for the worse, Narushima may have felt guilty she wasn’t there in his time of need. They pay a visit to her house and she is not really keen on welcoming them. Inside her room is a cabinet filled with puzzles that her brother loved. Haruta wonders if she had solved them all. He doesn’t think so. Not in her current state because she is carrying a burden that can never be lightened and she is doing it alone. They can help her overcome it but she kicks them out. Before that, she gives them a Rubik’s Cube. This is one which she could never solve. Because all its blocks are white! She gives them a time limit to solve it but of course she is sure they can never solve it.

The days pass and go and they seem nowhere near in solving this mystery. On the penultimate day, Kusakabe hints something and soon Haruta knows what it is. This puzzle is not punishment and was made out of love. They call Narushima to solve it with them. She narrates how Satoshi loved puzzles and she used to spend time solving them with him until she joined a band. She believes this unsolvable puzzle is his punishment for her for abandoning him. Haruta explains that this scrambled message no matter how they unscramble will always return back to square one. He never told her a solution because he wanted her to step forward from this scrambled state. With the girls holding Narushima down, Haruta then starts painting different colours over the cube to make it look like a real Rubik’s Cube. This cube is a message left by Satoshi for her to keep moving forward and to paint her own pure white world in her own colours. Shortly when the paint dries, a layer starts to peel off. A hidden message is revealed after they unscramble it. Satoshi congratulates her for solving it. Narushima becomes emotional. Soon she picks up her oboe and as promised, joins the club, much to Chika’s delight.

Episode 3
Chika is probably sucking at her flute again and thinks another personal lesson by Kusakabe would suffice. But Haruta sees through her plan and suggests calling a specialist flute instructor to start from scratch! Boo hoo! Later Chika spots Haruta and Narushima helping the drama club since the club’s president, Shunya Nagoe is Haruta’s classmate. Also on this club is someone Narushima knows, Maren Sei. He is Chinese-American and wants to leave the drama club. She is baffled why she ended up in this club since he was a good saxophonist. Narushima is really concerned that something went wrong since his dream was to become a famous saxophonist like his father. Nagoe thinks she must like him. She didn’t deny… They agree to find a way to help him and have all parties happy. Haruta shows Chika an album Maren’s musician family have produced. If they don’t look alike it is because Maren is adopted. Maren looks through his suitcase supposedly left behind by his real parents. Something about a little brother and being abandoned. When Haruta has finished writing his story for Nagoe, the latter rips it apart! This has them start insulting the other’s club and thus it is decided an acting battle on stage to see whose club is better. Haruta will have Chika and Narushima on his side while Nagoya will have his star actress, Yaeko Fujima AKA Maya and Maren as well as handicap. The competition will be an unscripted play called Exit Game. Basically in the situational act they will have to try to convince a member of the other them to leave the stage (Narushima and Maren in particular) and the opposing team trying to prevent it.

The act starts out with the 6 of them as counterfeiters hiding in a base until the time limit of the statute limitations expire. So we’ve got pretty weird improvisations from both sides in trying to make or keep the other side from getting off. Like Haruta bringing in a little doggy and Nagoe accusing one of them to be an undercover cop. Then there is the time difference on their watches but Haruta mentions both times are correct. Because one time is Japan’s and the other is Suzhou, China. As the statute expiration doesn’t apply outside Japan, they’ll be stuck forever this way. But one of them is unrelated and can go free. Because of the earlier situational drama, the dog turns out to be a guy in disguise and this makes Maren the unrelated party. He can go home to his family. Maren disagrees his family is not in Suzhou. Flashback remembers he one day got a letter from his real little brother. Everything he was trying not to think about became reality. Haruta and Nagoe further reveal the combination code on his suitcase has a double meaning when said in Chinese. It is a message left by his real parents that he was not unwanted and that they always loved him. There is nothing wrong having 2 families and 2 homes. This entire drama and game was just a big elaborated setup to tell Maren this. Once again Chika got taken for a ride. Maren accepts this and leaves the stage. The wind instrument club won. End revelations reveal about China’s one child policy and despite Maren was their first born, he had a leg disability. Thus he was given up for adoption in hopes the new family would find a cure for his leg.

Episode 4
Maren joins the wind instrument club and now it has more members too. But they’re playing on the rooftop since the choir club is using the music room. A person pops up that makes Haruta shiver. Who is she? Minami is his sister. This architect is furious how disgraceful her brother is. Apparently he has been evicted from his apartment as it is being demolished and now he lives next to the school’s chicken shed. The chickens are his pets?! No wonder Chika is blowing her top too. Minami wants to take him to scout for apartments to rent and when Kusakabe offers to let him stay with him, you can hear Chika screaming at the top of her voice. No way is that going to happen! Chika agrees to help Minami find a room for Haruta and drags Narushima to help her. They learn a reason why Minami is scary: Her driving! Thank goodness they make it out in one piece. They go through a list of apartments for rent and find one which is quite suitable but the realtor mentions it has a problem: It is haunted. Narushima getting the goosebumps… Yeah, it makes Minami’s driving seem so harmless now, eh? They check out the place and meet the owner of this building, Amano. Apparently his uncle was the original owner but the nephew now inherits it after he died and put his name on his will that was written on the blueprint. But Amano says he intends to sell the place because of the inheritance tax and the only way he could pay it is by selling the building. Of course it is tough when it is rumoured to be haunted. Amano further explains his uncle loves to play pranks and it irks everybody because his pranks were really elaborate. Amano used to laugh with him with all the pranks but as he grew older, the responsibilities of society got to him. Burdened with debt of failed ventures, Amano eventually lashed out at his uncle when he played a prank on him. Their relationship was strained then. He thinks it is punishment for him to inherit this building since his uncle had a son and daughter. Other than this building, Amano also inherited a giant key to a sixth room. There are only 5 rooms in this apartment.

After they leave, Minami explains about vernacular modernism. In architecture, it means designs on house based on traditional beliefs. Therefore the haunted rumour which is believed to be the ghostly sound of a monk’s staff could be just vernacular modernism because what makes you think it is such a sound in the first place other than you beliefs. Haruta didn’t find any luck renting a house and he thought he could stay at Kusakabe’s. Fortunately or not, Maren called and offers a place to stay and even join his family for Christmas dinner. It is then Haruta hit an inspiration as he researches on the year 1982. Then he calls everyone from his club to witness this architectural miracle. He has Minami find a small slot hole and drop a coin inside it. Sounds familiar? Then they go look around for a keyhole. Yeah, there is one that fits this big key. As Amano turns it, a secret compartment opens and 500 Yen coins come flooding out!!! Haruta explains the will is a treasure map and this entire building is a huge piggy bank. The sixth room is a gap between the walls where the coins are. This is what made that ghostly sound. 1982 is the year these coins were introduced. With this much money, Amano can pay off the tax. So why did his uncle do it this way? Probably to surprise him. Later Haruta’s friends help him move his stuff into this apartment.

Episode 5
Akari Gotou sneaks into Shimizu to find Haruta. Seems Haruta has got a reputation for being a detective famed for solving mysteries. There is a mystery she needs him to solve regarding Elephant’s Breath. It is supposedly to be a colour but there are no samples of it. After displaying her exceptional trombone skills, Gotou starts explaining. Apparently her grandpa who was thought to be dead is now found alive albeit dying of a disease in a hospital. In the past, grandpa and grandma were to get married but he wanted to go to America to study arts. He saved up and went there in 1966 and despite the promise to come back, he never did. At that time she was already pregnant with his child. Visiting him in his hospital room, there are lots of paintings. From the way he acts with Gotou, Haruta can tell he has amnesia especially no memory of his time in America. Standing out from these paintings are 3 identical paintings of an elephant sleeping in a jungle. The only difference is the sky colour: Yellow, orange and black. Grandpa claimed to have seen Elephant’s Breath but each time Gotou interrogates about it, he dodges her question and turns into a senile old man. Gotou considers him a selfish fraud and wants to get that old guy to apologize to grandma for all the suffering. She thinks he is taking advantage of grandma’s kindness. On the topic of Elephant’s Breath, the famed novelist, Rudyard Kipling popped up. There is a story about an elephant escaped human captivity and had a chain around its leg. Other herds refused to accept him. One day he met a lost baby elephant and took him in like his own child. Many years when the baby grows up, he asks about the chain in which he replied it represents his sorrow, a curse he is burdened with. The baby then broke it to free him. When they show the paintings to Kusakabe, he immediately tells them to stop investigating this. Of course they can’t, right?

I’m sure visiting the elephant at the zoo won’t reveal the colour of the Elephant’s Breath, right? The answer isn’t going to be so obvious. When Maren notes that during that period when America was facing riots from the African Americans, Japanese students were also caught in it and perhaps grandpa was seeking a safe place to sleep and since Lincoln Park is free, he might have done so and thus the paintings. Then it hit Haruta. When they go question grandpa again, the same answer and act. Gotou gets emotional now so Haruta tells grandpa to stop his acting. He knows he hasn’t been having peaceful sleeps for a long time. He has post traumatic stress disorder and being tormented by nightmares and flashbacks for 40 years. Grandpa did get caught up in the riots, lost his money and when he tried to get back on his feet again, he got swept up in another one. Grandpa reveals Elephant’s Breath isn’t a colour but the breath of a sleeping elephant. Because a peaceful resting place isn’t something you find yourself but something that’s offered to you. Gotou reconciles with him. Much later, Haruta apologizes to Kusakabe for carrying on. Kusakabe can see he has realized what has happened because Haruta too is bearing the burden of depression. Explain? As elephants in zoo sleep inside shelters, for grandpa to get this close to paint one means the elephant is in the real jungle. That jungle is a safe place in a hell zone on Earth. Grandpa was sent to fight in the Vietnam War. It seemed Japanese students were conscripted to fight. One might be familiar with the defoliants America used in the war. Agent Blue, Agent Orange and Agent White. Despite the name, their solutions were actually yellow, orange and black respectively. Depending on when they are sprayed, that was how the morning sky would have looked. Now that Gotou has heard the entire truth, rather than worry if he is the only survivor or killed many, Chika tells her she still has a job to destroy the elephant’s cursed chain by playing her trombone.

Episode 6
Aside Chika trying to recruit more boys into the club and convincing Haruta to date a girl other than her (?!), she shows him a picture that there is a shadow of somebody sneaking into their clubroom. Each time Chika thought she was earlier, somebody was there earlier. Coincidentally they never meet. A spring mirage? When some wind instrument club members scattered all over the school start playing an ensemble, Chika notices one unfamiliar sound coming from the classroom. Could this girl be the mysterious person? Realizing the club had a broken clarinet they go to check it only to find it missing. Taken for repairs? Apparently everybody else except Chika knows who that girl is: Naoko Serizawa. She is pretty famous. Her grandpa is a Diet member, her father owns a construction company and she is on her way of becoming a pro musician. However she hates concert bands. The talk about Serizawa taking makeup exams recently when she used to be tops. From her sudden fall in grades, her troubles following up on conversations, avoiding classmates and counselling sessions with Kusakabe, Chika is still bent on going to talk to her (despite being warned many times about their difference in level which might leave Chika more than getting burnt). Oh, here she is. Instantly Chika hugs her and tells her to join the club! Serizawa knows all about the club and especially Chika. Because her car almost rammed into her outside the school gates one day but thankfully they missed. Chika easily forgot about the situation because the butler gave her a bun as compensation. Anyway Serizawa declines to join. That is when Haruta tells everyone to be careful where they step. He believes she might have dropped something and snuck in at several times to look for it. She took and repaired the clarinet as thanks in case they ever find it. It is one of those rare times Chika realizes what is going on. She knows Serizawa’s issue after connecting all her recent problems: She lost her hearing.

Chika chases her down to talk to her. Serizawa reveals she is deaf in her right ear (from a volleyball accident) and lost her hearing aid in the clubroom. Thus it is hard for her to pick up conversations unless it is a quiet place. Chika’s ingenuity has her create paper cups so they can communicate easier. Back at the clubroom, Haruta hopes Serizawa would forgive them. Although her hearing aid is found, somebody stepped on it. Crushed. Yeah, Serizawa fainted! In the infirmary, Chika creates multiple paper cups for everyone. Serizawa reveals she picked up the clarinet just to get out of her broken home. Any instrument would do in fact. She also knows the club’s aim to play at Fumon but she breaks the bad news to them they can’t because they lack the minimum 30 members. Of course they can play symphonies for smaller bands might do the trick and Kusakabe has the ability to do that. Even so, they’ll be at a disadvantage compared to those with maximum 55 members. She wants them to go for category B instead and use this as experience. She questions Kusakabe’s decision of quitting conducting but yet still teaches music. Because music is all that he knows. Same for Serizawa. It is the path she has chosen and she believes the same for this club. That is why she apologizes she cannot join them yet. Haruta asks about losing her hearing aid in the music room. She was checking out the drums and timpani to see if they are working since her childhood friend used to play them and wanted to use it as motivation for him to go back to school. So when Chika came in, she panicked and bolted out. After Serizawa leaves, Chika is still gleaming because there is still hope to recruit Serizawa in the future.

Episode 7
A girl tunes into a midnight radio to seek advice because she wants to die. But those old farts start talking about drinking sake and getting drunk. With the new term and Gotou joining the club, they watch a real band rehearse and were blown away by their gap difference. This motivates them to practice more but Kusakabe puts the brakes on it because he warns them if they don’t do well in their tests, he will have to cut their practice times. I guess this means Chika has to work hard, eh? She starts out great but soon loses motivation… She tunes into the radio to help study better. She enjoys this life advice programme until she realizes one of the callers is Haruta and is indirectly saying something about Chika! It is no wonder she kicks him the next day! He too listens to that radio. He explains the radio programme is a mystery since nobody knows where it is broadcasted from and has been on the air for around 2 years. With 7 elderly people giving life advices, it feels like this radio is coming from a hidden village straight out of a Japanese folklore. Chika saw a girl, Misato Asou running away from the student council president and refuses to get involved. But soon the student council president tells the club about their slashed budget (because their club achieved nothing). If they agree to help catch Asou who is from the geology club, he can help negotiate to increase their budget which is allocated to the geology club but they refused to accept it. And yes, everybody wants Chika to be their representative and she too drags Haruta into this.

As explained, Asou is the president of the geology club that currently has 8 members. They mine precious stones in Japan. Although precious stones are not common, they can still be found but this means trespassing private property. Because they sell their stones to a local university, that is where they get their funding via reward. They won’t accept the school’s funds because they hate school. Many of the club members are truants who won’t go to school except for the club. Asou managed to get them to join by barging into their homes. All but one, Hiyama, agreed to join her club. This year they found and even more valuable precious stone believed to be a blue topaz. But a strange message from Asou said she has found it but pretended she didn’t. So as the club members find Asou, Chika and Haruta enter the geology club but Asou already ran. They notice she too listened to the same radio programme. Haruta has done more research prior to it. That Hiyama guy is Kaiyuu Hiyama, a host of the radio programme. Haruta believes Asou’s message is she might have discovered the hidden village. Her pursue of the topaz must have led her to that place, an unregistered retirement home. Asou turns herself in when Kusakabe gets involved. Haruta guesses that as she tried to protect a colony of her own at school, there was also a boy the same age trying to protect his own colony. Asou brings them to see Kaiyuu at his home. He admits to running the radio and the old sages are old people living who have a fall out with their families or nobody to talk to. They just let them stay in their annex nearby. They started a radio show as Kaiyuu’s dad helped someone in the past ran a radio service. Asou returns the topaz to Kaiyuu as apology for trespassing (that is how she found out about their identity) and thanks for the sages’ advice for a silly girl who decided not to take her life thanks to their stupid advice and lost the will to die. When they tune in to the next programme, the old sages want Kaiyuu to return to schooling. They remember he played the drums and timpani. Sound familiar? Serizawa’s friend? Chika gets a bounty message from Asou that if they take him in, their club will get all their budget. See how money motivates to nab him?

Episode 8
I think I’m seeing a pattern… Kaiyuu now joins the wind instrument club. Chika is surprised when Serizawa would gladly give her personal flute lessons all day. The catch? She needs her help in stopping her aunt Kyouko who is coming to this school to be interviewed by a shady guy named First Love Sommelier. And Chika has to drag Haruta into this… Serizawa explains her aunt lives in Australia and will come to live with her in Japan after she graduates. Kyouko visited her a month ago and hired a local detective to trace her first love. Although she knew where he lived, his current whereabouts are unknown. The detective agency then sent her a provocative postcard questioning if her first love was real. They suggested Sommelier who researches about first love. This research lab is also a club at Shimizu run by Tooru Asagiri. Another weirdo? You bet. Serizawa is not too happy Kyouko is going to get her first love appraised by Asagiri. She disagrees with Asagiri’s theory about first love and memories, the reason why when people confront their first love many years later, they are shocked by the gap between reality and their memories. This club researches that by removing false and exaggerated elements from the memories by trying to reproduce exactly the circumstances of that time. In short, using fragrance to evoke those memories. Kyouko then explains her story. Her first love had something to do with onigiri. She was 19 years old and was lost in the forest and stumbled upon the Forest Brotherhood. Animal people? Please not she is talking in metaphor. She met and befriended this bear guy, Venganto and they make and deliver onigiri for the other Forest Brotherhood as well as the birds. One day Kyouko tried to taste an onigiri but Venganto became mad and attacked her. She was exiled from the group and they were never heard of since. Asagiri has completed an exact duplicate of the onigiri. Kyouko tastes it. Although she finds it different, she thanks Asagiri and rushes out. This makes Haruta wonder if this appraisal had another objective besides recalling her memories since it is confirmed the onigiri is perfectly accurate.

Late that night, Chika is surprised that Serizawa wants to crash at her place. She has forced Haruta and Asagiri to come along too. They will be heading to Hanamaki early in the morning because that is where Kyouko told her she will be going. So is that where Venganto is? The kids arrive at Hanamaki first and wait for Kyouko. She arrives and is surprised to see them here. Serizawa pleads to Kyouko to go back as nothing good will come in seeing Venganto. From the way Kyouko talks, Haruta could guess that Venganto is no longer in this world. As they drive to his grave, Kyouko explains that Venganto and the rest of the Forest Brotherhood all died of the same illness. At first she was looking to find her first love’s whereabouts and when she learnt he died, she got greedy and dug deeper only to find out things she shouldn’t know. Kyouko became scared when she realized the odds of succumbing to the same illness and that is when she got a postcard from Asagiri for this idea. Had the onigiri had the same taste, it would mean the Forest Brotherhood would be eating them and their cause of death buried in darkness. Thus the onigiri Venganto served her and the birds were normal while he served poisoned ones to his brethren. Hence on that day Venganto was trying to stop Kyouko from eating a poisoned onigiri and protected her by throwing her out, without telling her anything. As for why Venganto killed his comrades remains a mystery but it could have something to do with vengeance, the meaning of his nickname. And there might be some guilt he couldn’t live with that he had to kill himself too. Kyouko asks Asagiri for her first love appraisal. It was the real deal. Kyouko apologizes to her niece for worrying her. She was afraid of dying because she wanted to live with her. Serizawa gives her a hug.

Episode 9
Kusakabe collapses as he coaches the wind instrument club! OMG! Though it is not life threatening and just from overwork, you bet our students (especially Haruta) are calling for heads to roll when they find out he is also overseeing Fujigasaki Academy’s concert band. Iwasaki and Matsuda apologise but they claim their usual teacher, Sakai is suspended. When Kusakabe heard about this, he offered to fill in. Apparently Sakai is a righteous man so there must be something wrong if his suspension is still not lifted and even more perplexing is that he refuses to say anything. Haruta, Chika and Kaiyuu visit Fujigasaki and the room he used to teach. They claim Sakai’s behaviour before his suspension was weird because he changed the students’ sitting 3 times. They also meet the student teacher, Yuka Oogawara. Fujigasaki is her alma mater and Sakai was her homeroom teacher. Back then, she was a delinquent and didn’t exactly graduate from Fujigasaki. She broke some school rules and dropped out instead of getting an expulsion on her records. Sakai was the only one who stood by her side but at that time she found his zeal annoying. She said horrible things and stormed out and hasn’t talked ever since. They move on discussing the seat arrangements. Nobody knew why except the class rep and she too didn’t tell anyone why. The noticed the class rep being moved about throughout the arrangement and the final one like as though she is being protected by other girls from a stalker? Matsuda remembers Sakai had her lend him her handphone as he only uses the viewfinder looking around the class. No photos were taken. It is deduced there was a peeping tom. The culprit was nicknamed Asmodeus.

That student since last year has been uploading images of school girls online. Although the faces cannot be seen, you can identify the girl by her uniform. Class rep was first to noticed and more pictures were uploaded when summer came. Kaiyuu gets more information that the camera used was infrared. It has 2 specialties compared to an ordinary camera. It can take pictures in the dark or see through light clothing. Seeing how thin the summer uniform is, could it be pictures of what is underneath is being taken? Thus the seating changes could be Sakai’s challenge to Asmodeus and class rep was the decoy. Normally everything would have ended if the culprit is identified and reported. But the baffling thing is that Sakai covered up for Asmodeus and he is still suspended. It is believed Asmodeus is female. They go talk to the class rep who mentions she wanted Sakai to get an apology and a promise from Asmodeus never to do this again but Sakai refused her and never told her why. That is when she reported to the principal and he voluntarily took his suspension. Asmodeus is hinted as the girl who recently didn’t come to school and this might be Sakai’s way of making her reflect and repent her actions. The gang return to discuss what is it so risqué that Sakai would go so far to protect. Then it hit Haruta. Oogawara has always been wearing a suit even though it is summer. She does take it off when it gets hot like when the air-cond was broken last week. Then she too realized. Apparently Oogawara had a yakuza tattoo on her back and Asmodeus used this as her trump card. All Sakai wanted was to protect her and give her a chance as she is his former student and only regret. Oogawara now knows what to do in not let Sakai keep protecting her anymore. She is going to give her final lesson to those 2 students. Subsequently Sakai’s suspension is lifted, Oogawara thanks and apologizes to him. He promises to keep a student teacher spot open for her.

Episode 10
Chika saved a boy falling from his apartment so she is a little injured. What scares her the most is that she won’t be able to play in the district qualifiers today. But after Serizawa takes a look and treats her minor injuries, it is nothing to worry about. Kusakabe has something to do will be running late. Luckily Shimizu’s turn will be in the afternoon near the end. They are here early because many of them are making their debut and it is good for them to have some exposure. Sakai offers them to use their practice room since Fujigasaki will be performing early. Because Haruta is not around, Chika goes to look for him and bumps into a freelance journalist, Takuya Watanabe. Despite Watanabe is confident Shimizu will easily progress to the next round, ironically Chika is not confident of their own chances. Watanabe’s true goal is to interview Kusakabe because as one of the most talented conductors, he suddenly quit his job and vanished. If he could directly talk to him, he wouldn’t have the need to go through his students. Chika doesn’t like the way he disrespects Kusakabe but before Watanabe can stop her, Haruta trips him. It seems he has found a lost giant Tibetan mastiff dog. A man pops up to claim he is the rightful owner. And so does a little girl. Watanabe is amused in seeing a modern day Solomon judgment and will watch how this unfolds. As part of the bet, if they manage to identify the correct owner, he will write a story about the dog.

Unfortunately Haruta too wants to claim this dog! He claims he is living alone and wants it as companion. So unless they can show proof it belongs to them, he won’t have it over. While the man seems to have convincing proof and alibi, the girl is feeble and shy. She doesn’t know a lot of things. They check the dog’s collar to find a lock and a name on its collar: Pie Simata. The man shows proof his friend’s name as Shimata as the previous owner but the girl also mentions Shimata is her mom’s maiden name. Unfortunately she doesn’t know mom’s telephone number. The man shows further proof that he unlocks the lock with the password. But Haruta easily does too because everyone knows the value of the pi is 3.14. Haruta is suspicious of the man because Haruta had found it for quite a while so this might give enough time for the man to create proofs. He warns him what he is doing is amount to a crime. But the man also knows Haruta and Chika are in some regional qualifiers. Why did he not hand the dog over to the police or animal control? He can report them to their school and organisers too. Just when time is up because practice session is about to start, here comes Kusakabe telling them not to give up. He talks to the girl who reveals her parents are divorced and since dad got custody of her, she gave her the dog. It is also revealed mom named it from a character from Lewis Carroll’s back. It sounded hard to pronounce for her. Jabberwock. Haruta then connects the dots. He borrows Chika’s mirror and Pie Simata reflects to be Atami2 314. It could be a dog licence ID number. Looking it up at the register might reveal the address of her mom. So the dog is actually a direction left behind by her mom. The girl gets custody of the dog and the man is nowhere to be seen. Watanabe is impressed and decides to leave them off the hook today. He also gives the girl contact information of the animal control. The rest talk about the cruel effects of parents breaking up but Serizawa is here to pick them back to the hall for practice.

Episode 11
Under Kusakabe’s guidance, Shimizu’s wind instrument club progresses to the next stage. Serizawa and Katagiri argue about tuning an out of tune piano with Kusakabe’s help when this lady, Makoto Yamanobe challenges Serizawa to a bet. Serizawa starts playing the piano without using the out of tune keys. Makoto then takes out her melodian and beautifully plays a piece. Noticing her unusual melodian, she introduces this custom made clavietta from Italy. Kusakabe has business with Makoto but he cannot talk in front of his students. Haruta is jealous that the duo are close together and wants to expose this vixen since Makoto’s late grandpa was Kusakabe’s teacher. So with Chika and Serizawa they go to eavesdrop what they are to talk about. Seems her father dabbled in real estate and lost money. He is trying to auction off grandpa’s imperial Bosendorfer piano for millions but there is a problem: Its key is missing and without it, the piano will lose its value. Grandpa left in his will that the key was with her. Of course she has no idea and all she got was the clavietta. Makoto has disassembled the clavietta many times but never found any key. She is still very bitter of all the things she had to do after grandpa’s death like kowtowing to others on his behalf many times. But the worst of the lot was Kusakabe’s sudden disappearance from the symphony.

Later Makoto catches the trio eavesdropping. She explains about the custom made clavietta so she could adapt her sweaty fingers to play the piano. However it seems that Makoto never went pro despite all the chances. She questions Serizawa’s reasons to go pro and knows about her hearing problem. She believes Serizawa wanted to go pro because she might want to reach a place where she can focus on music alone, her own musical Eden. Next day, Makoto disassembles her clavietta again to show the kids. They examine the ivory keyboard but she claims it is made of some other material that makes maintenance hard work. She adds this clavietta was grandpa’s sympathy for her. She once lashed out at him for only allowing Kusakabe to touch Bosendorfer and in exchange he swapped the clavietta’s original keyboard with an ivory replica. Because Kusakabe has grown kinder these days, she believes whatever words left by grandpa on the clavietta, she won’t read it. Then it hit Haruta. Makoto cannot see very well. He has noticed her name card had a cut corner so she knows which the front side is. Also, she couldn’t recognize them when they were caught eavesdropping. Makoto explains her disease that weakened her eyesight. Gradually she couldn’t read and even music notes anymore. That is why she sympathizes with Serizawa. Haruta knows where grandpa’s last words are for her. If she notices a bumpy side of the clavietta, it is actually Braille. She reads it as it says… “I lost the key”. She laughs out loud and realizes grandpa is so himself till the end. In the aftermath, the lock on Bosendorfer was dismantled and its keys were all taken out and replaced with ceramic. The ivory keys were put on her clavietta.

Episode 12
When Haruta sees Kusakabe just finished talking with the guys from the Hamamatsu Symphony, he pretends to talk to them to get more details but they cannot say anything until it is official. From their reaction, Haruta can tell Kusakabe is being scouted to join their symphony. If that happens, this means he might ‘abandon’ them and not be able to perform with them at Fumon. Chika wants Serizawa’s honest opinion about the band. This is her brutally honest reply. If you ever wonder why a band that is so bad that makes everyone listen uncomfortable, proceeds this far in the qualifiers, it is because of how awesome it is to Kusakabe bringing them together as well as some of the very good ones like Haruta, Maren, Narushima and Kaiyuu. When Kusakabe is about to begin his usual practice, his baton breaks. This startles Chika as she thinks this is a bad omen. But what startles everyone is how Chika reacts to it because normally she wouldn’t give a damn. Haruta advises Chika to play it cool or else everyone will find out. The class then chips in to buy a new baton for Kusakabe. Can you imagine Haruta and Chika arguing which baton to buy and if that is not bad enough, who should be the one to give it! When they spot Kusakabe, the duo tail him and believe he is on his way to Hamamatsu. Haruta plans to tell Kusakabe not to go despite that offer is a good one. He also wants to tell him his feelings because if not, he will have regrets if he leaves. When Kusakabe leaves on a stop before reaching Hamamatsu, Haruta starts connecting the dots on why he was late on that qualifier day and the day he abruptly disappear from his symphony.

They tail him to a graveyard and Chika’s clumsiness gave them away. As Chika explains their thoughts, Haruta notices the date on the gravestone is similar to those incidents. Could it be somebody’s death anniversary? He then tells Kusakabe to accept the offer since he told his students they have their own lives to fulfil. It should be the same for him. Just when you think Chika is going to dramatically confess her feelings, it is actually a confession that they don’t have enough money to get home! Oh Chika! Later Haruta tells Chika why he didn’t stop Kusakabe. Although there is no way they could tell what happened, Kusakabe is at the crossroads right now of whether to move forward or not. This qualifier might be the last time he performs with them. And here we are folks, Shimizu’s band performing with Kusakabe and we get to hear for the first time the entire symphony. In the end, they end up getting bronze. Oh shucks. Indeed it is the last time they’ll perform together. Everyone is so sad and depressing, blaming their own shortcomings. But leave it to Chika to cheer them up that it is not bad since they have come this far. More motivation with encouraging words from Kusakabe. After all that is said and done, Chika goes off alone to cry. At least she has Haruta to cry with her. But all that is blown away with a good news. If you’re wondering why Serizawa wants to come home with them, it is her way of saying she is joining the band. Finally. Katagiri announces the retirement of the seniors and will appoint a new president to spearhead the club. Everyone thinks Chika would be the next president and so Chika jumps the gun, excited to give her speech. Then Katagiri announces Maren as the next president. How embarrassing…

Nothing Says Springtime Like High School Detective Work
Basically in a nutshell this is the sum of my feelings watching this series. I expected it to be like Hibike! Euphonium but instead I got Hyouka material instead! Music and mystery solving. What an odd combination. Yeah, it never goes hand in hand here anyway. I assume that this is the series’ ‘cliff-hanger’ at the end because we still don’t know if Kusakabe is going to stay or move forward. We know it just wouldn’t be the same anymore since if we ever get another season, there’ll be new faces, old ones ‘retire’ and a whole new brand of dynamism that could be for better or worse. Who knows? That is a mystery we will leave for another time. As far as this season is concerned, if you want a refreshing break from the ubiquitous and typical setting of high school themes like super power action, slapstick comedy, harem comedy, fanservice comedy and/or pure drama romance (believe me, the romance here is just a paltry distraction. A little more on this later), maybe a little detective mystery might give the grey matter a little variety.

Shows like this once more give me mixed feelings on whether to classify either good or bad. In my case it is always somewhat in between because of a few factors. For instance, let us look at some of the mysteries and detective work. Now, each of the mysteries (if you could call them that) are interesting in their own right and the pacing was reasonably well enough that got me interested in listening and paying attention to every word they say as they work towards a way to figure out the mystery. Unfortunately for a person like me who is not well read, it takes out the enjoyment in figuring out some of the terms that cropped up. No doubt that they do explain what that term is but unless you are well read and well knowledgeable like Haruta and Kusakabe, most of us would be like Chika, lost and feeling what-the-heck-say-that-again-please. Therefore if you intend to fully enjoy this series without feeling stupid, you need to have a certain amount of knowledge and this isn’t just restricted to the music world. As seen, it covers a wide range of topics.

Since this series is mostly drama and that there will be a lot of talking and yes, I mean lots of them because many of what is said in speeches would be the clues that Haruta will eventually piece together and figure the whole thing out. So like I said, if you are like me who isn’t well read or knowledgeable, I find myself straining my ears and giving my utmost attention just to listen and make sense of what they are talking. I was trying to understand and perhaps piece together the puzzle. Unfortunately that never happened. Haruta always figures it out for me. I’m not saying my level of understanding is bad but it had me concentrating so much and yet I didn’t understand or get close to a solution (heck, I never came up with any solution), it just feels a bit frustrating. Even more so that many of the answers to the mysteries are just, well, simple. Not that all complicated. In a way, it sometimes feel a bit disappointing that after all that build-up and clues to the mystery, the answer behind it all turns out to be just average. Sorry, no solutions to mysteries that would unlock the secrets to the universe.

And very sorry too, if you are expecting some sort of musical setting or at least learn something or two about the music be it the instruments or musical history, you would certainly be mostly disappointed. At least Hibike! Euphonium and K-ON! had something to do with music. This one here feels like just a diversion. It does have a few musical points too (as part and in relation to the mystery) but not that in a way that one would think, “Hey! That is a great musical tip!”. I mean, it could have been any other club. It could have been a sports club solving mysteries, it could have been an art club solving mysteries, it could have been a science club solving mysteries using the power of science, it could have been a maths club using the calculations of numbers and mathematical science to solve and debunk any sort of problems. But I had a feeling they chose a music club because I am assuming nobody would see this coming. Nobody expects music lovers to be great detectives, right? Sure, there. There is your surprise factor.

Thus it just feels that the setting of having the wind instrument club trying to head for the Nationals feels more like a distraction and a side story to the mystery main dish. Because every episode feels episodic. Like a standalone. While it is great that in each episode there is a new mystery to be solved and breathes new interest for each episode, it lacks the continuity that might have made it even more epic. What I mean is that I was hoping that all or most of the mysteries would actually be connected and be part of a bigger puzzle. You know, maybe like Sakurako-san No Ashimoto Ni Wa Shitai Ga Umatteiru (ugh… This anime…). But then again, maybe that sort of big picture mystery won’t suit the setting of this series anyway. So who cares if Chika plays the flute or Haruta plays the horn because f*ck, you can’t even remember or care what the other members play. And even if you do remember who plays what, I’m sure we wouldn’t care how good they are because we know everyone else is good except for Chika who should be better off being in the volleyball club in the first place ;p.

Therefore when you have a show shown in that way, the characters suffer from potential development. It is expected that Haruta and Chika will hog the limelight because, heck, they got their names engraved on the series. But as for the rest of the other characters especially the other members in the wind instrument club, they feel forgettable. It is like they do not matter at all. Like Katagiri or even the twins. Aside from making up the numbers for a symphony, I don’t see how they contribute to the proper flow of the series. And I find it quite funny that after every mystery is solved, a new member joins the club. At least in the initial episodes. Like as though the reward for solving the mystery is for the central character involved in that series to join the club once their case is over. Come to think of it, so does this mean that solving the mysteries is actually part of a bigger conspiracy to recruit members into the band? And I am pretty sure that there are more members joining the club from time to time because I noticed there are extra minor background characters who don’t even matter, never had any dialogue. That’s what you get when you have a big band although Shimizu’s isn’t exactly a fully symphony either. No screen time privilege for those who are unimportant. Yeah, reminds me of Hibike! Euphonium in a way.

So aside from the side characters like Serizawa, Narushima and Maren who all have their own set of problems but quickly solved and relegated to become assistant detectives in certain episodes, the main characters in focus are Haruta, Chika and sometimes Kusakabe. Even so, their characters are not deeply fleshed out and you’ll be more focused on the mystery at hand while each passing episode throws you a little bit and pieces of information about their past but not enough to form anything conclusive. Especially Kusakabe who is the series’ biggest mystery because we are reminded of how he suddenly gave up his prestigious job to do something mediocre like teaching (at least from his profession’s point of view) and that biggest mystery still bugs us right till the very end even though we are certain as ‘exposed’ in the end that somebody important to him passed away on that day. A person so important that could make a man with a secured future and one of the most coveted job in the world to just walk out. We’ll never know exactly the reason why and Kusakabe isn’t the kind who just talks freely. Sometimes it gets on your nerves that you want to know more but there is all there is to it. So wait for next season to find out more? If they had one.

It is not the first time that a young boy is being gay and secretly loves his teacher and I am sure you’ll find such relationship setting more common in yaoi genres but as for this one, it might be the first. It was shocking at first and even if there were gay relationships, usually they are of the same age. Because if the older one targets the younger one, won’t that be like paedophile and a shotacon? So with Haruta having more than just admire feelings for Kusakabe, I can only imagine the worst if his dreams actually come true. Making the love triangle even odder is Chika having some hots for that teacher too. This minor love triangle feels silly and a little distraction but if that feels like the most character development you’ll get out of them. Even so, that isn’t much. So hopes of seeing Haruta x Chika since that is what this show is called and they even have their names in the title shortened to HaruChika? I mean, sometimes doesn’t it feel that Chika is like a tsundere? Being cold and rude to Haruta at times? I guess her dream and road to become more feminine is still a long way off. Or did she forget about that already?

Haruta is your typical brains of the team and Chika like the total opposite being the ‘dumb’ one just for comical effects. Like I’ve said, Haruta is so well read and knowledgeable, he is like the modern Sherlock Holmes as he could guess the answer after thinking for a while and putting all the puzzle pieces quickly. Like as though he is reading from a script. On the other hand, you have Chika with a bubbly personality acting like a joker like mispronouncing certain terminologies because of her lack of knowledge in whatever that mystery is associated with. But it is hard to hate her because of her enthusiasm and drive, it makes her even more likeable and funny. Really. Sometimes she gets lucky but at most times she is just being Chika. Never change, Chika.

While the art and drawing feels fine and sometimes looking quite good and sharp (nice scenic sceneries and especially cute looking girls, am I to complain?), I noticed that the eye colours of the characters attract my attention. All characters have this effect although it is more prominent in some like Chika. Let me see if I can describe it well. In Chika’s case, it feels like there are dual colour shades for her iris and pupil. It feels like her eyes are like, uhm, gemstones? There is this mysterious attraction each time I stare into her eyes. Like seeing the universe?! Seeing this series is done by P.A. Works, it is no surprise that they have animated lots of beautiful looking series like Angel Beats, Hanasaku Iroha, Charlotte, Shirobako, Glasslip, Another and True Tears. So perhaps sometimes if you find their character designs and artwork to be familiar to these series, this is one reason.

The list of seiyuus is a long one. It is expected since you have different characters for every episode for each mystery. But for the main characters, I only recognized Chiaki Omigawa as the twins. I thought she voiced both the twins but it seems she only voiced Kae. It seems Sae is voiced by a newbie, Emi Miyajima (Mayumi in Haifuri). And I thought they sound the same or is it because I didn’t care as I assumed it was the same person. The rest of the casts from the wind instrument club are Souma Saitou as Haruta (Aoto in Divine Gate), Sarah Emi Bridcutt as Chika (Yuki in Shinmai Maou No Testament), Natsuki Hanae as Kusakabe (Kousei in Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso), Asami Seto as Serizawa (Chihaya in Chihayafuru), Haruka Chisuga as Narushima (Kuroda in Shoujo-tachi Wa Kouya Wo Mezasu), Nobunaga Shimazaki as Maren (Shido in Date A Live), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Kaiyuu (Karma in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Yuki Yamada as Gotou (Shiena in Akuma No Riddle) and Seiichirou Yamashita as Katagiri (Takahiro in Walkure Romanze). Guest voices include Hitomi Nabatame as Minami, Junichi Suwabe as Watanabe, Misato Fukuen as Yaeko, Ayahi Takagaki as Makoto and Rina Satou as Chika’s mother.

The opening theme is Niji Wo Ametara by Fhana. It is quite a lively and energetic piece befitting the series quite well. If you are very well familiar with Fhana’s brand of liveliness in their anime songs such as the openers of Comet Lucifer, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2wei Herz, Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou and the ending theme in Sora No Method, then you’ll feel right at home hearing this piece. But personally, I feel this one is the best of all the anime songs Fhana sings since I could feel some sort of energetic motivation while hearing the song. The ending theme on the other hand, Kuusou Triangle by Choucho isn’t that bad either but after hearing the great opening, seems to fall a bit short. Don’t worry, it still sounds fine.

Overall, not a bad series but it needs a lot of thinking and patience. Some say it isn’t a great detective mystery material but hey, they are just high school kids and for their level they showed great potential. Hmm… Maybe this is a reason they put a high school setting so that you won’t expect and compare it on par with Sherlock Holmes? Heck, better than being Milky Holmes, right? Haha! Those are in a different league of their own. Even with P.A. Works now developing a reputation for producing visually breathtaking and beautiful anime series but falling short in terms of its story and character development, many remain sceptical and add this series to its ever increasing list. In short, still not its best work since, uhm, Angel Beats? I suppose. Is it so hard to write a good anime these days? Not even Haruta can solve this mystery.

Hundred

October 8, 2016

Oh gosh. I didn’t know it would be this quick. Just when I thought I had rebuked such typical show of borrowing so many elements from other series in the same genre, here comes another one. Yeah well, perhaps in this sense it isn’t as bad as Saijaku Muhai No Bahamut, but Hundred still feels like it has borrowed from harem, mecha and sci-fi elements from other similar animes. I’m too lazy at this point to list them down now. Heck, making it worse is how the name of this series sounds lazy as well. And I thought it wouldn’t be so bad (of course it is) had it been about a cheap sleazy fanservice filled anime about a hundred girls chasing after a single boy and hence the name of the series. Alas it didn’t turn out that way as it got its name from something less inspiring. At least from my point of view. Oh well, what to do? Since I love this genre so much and keep coming back, might as well sit back and relax the cringe worthy crappiness. You know, new boy with high hidden talent arrives at new school. Has dark secret and past. Meets a handful of girls who would become his b*tches, including the b*tch that hated and challenged him at the start, fights monsters with their mecha suits, more girls, crisis that threatens to harm innocent lives, saves the day, more harem hijinks. Oh yeah. I’m getting pretty good at this now.

Episode 1
Why is it always the main character must have some sort of traumatic past. His old city ravaged by a monster and he tried saving a girl. Something among those lines. It is no wonder Hayato Kisaragi once more wakes up from such dreams as he approaches the academy ship of Little Garden. Apparently Hayato has some super reputation as a pair of girls wait in line to welcome him. Not the kind to revel in the spotlight, Hayato gives them the slip only to be spotted by Reitia Saint-Emilion. Before he knows it, the crowd gathers around him like a rockstar. His specialty must be giving the slip because he easily does that. Emile Crossfode, his childhood friend hugs him, glad to see him here. Please bear in mind this is a boy!!!! No sh*t. Or is it… Later Reitia apologizes to Hayato for calling him out like that and making him attract attention. Students attend the opening ceremony at the hall hosted by student council vice president, Erica Candle and Liddy Steinberg. The president and queen of them all is Claire Harvey. Noa Sheldon and Liu Xuemei arrive late as they were the ones waiting for Hayato. However Claire will not take this sh*t and tells them to pack up and leave. Woah! Such heavy drama stuffs on the first day? I’m sure Hayato wants to protest but he is too meek. Surprisingly it is Emile who stands up to that b*tch. He risks expulsion too as Claire explains the failure to follow orders will lead to death of the entire squad because as Slayers, they will be fighting monsters called Savages. Emile brings up Hayato’s Hundred compatibility score so Claire asks Hayato’s opinion. He too opposes their expulsion. And thus Claire challenges him to a duel in which their expulsion will be cancelled if he wins. Why is it that such genres has the main character end up fighting the powerful b*tch on the first day?

Later Emile introduces Hayato to his best friend, a technologist on Little Garden, Charlotte “Char” Dimandius and her cat maid assistant, Meimei. There is also this autonomous computer that controls Little Garden, LiZA. Basically a powerful AI. Char proceeds to explain about the mecha suits known as Hundred (a term derived from Century Armament) that is only effective against Savages. They have many forms but ultimately their goal is to protect humanity. Since Hayato is willing to shoulder that responsibility, Char gives him his Hundred. Hayato than has a mock practice with Emile. And he gets owned. At the end of the day, he remembers he forgot to visit his little sister, Karen at hospital. Now, how to you please a pouting woman? A peck on the forehead like she wanted? Ah, now she is all nice and sweet again. And why do animes that feature nurse, they must have super big boobs?! Is this hentai? You can’t blame Hayato for looking at Miharu Kashiwagi’s boobs, right? When he returns to his room, he is shocked to see Emile changing. Don’t jump to conclusions yet… Emile throws stuffs at him. So after calming down, why is Emile in his room? Because they’re roommates, silly! As Emile sews his uniform, he accidentally poked his finger. The little blood is enough to send Hayato’s trauma activating. He quickly sucks his finger to stop the bleeding. Hardly anything romantic. He explains himself that he was involved in a Savage attack years ago so this is somewhat his reflex. And now time for Hayato and Claire’s battle to start.

Episode 2
Claire is so confident that she is willing to give Hayato a few handicaps like support from Emile and she herself won’t use full body armament. When it starts, Hayato couldn’t control his acceleration and rams into Claire. More cliché stuffs. Hand on boob. Oh dear. Mad girl. How will she get married now? She fights back and Hayato is losing. Before she is about to finish him, something inside him activates. His movement changes, he is faster and his attacks sharper. Is this Hayato? She is forced to use her full body armament to stop him. Although it might seem she broke the rules and officially won, she claims she lost to herself. Therefore this match is a tie. Later she visits him in hospital. He has no recollection when he transformed. She is curious to know who he is because for a student to just wield Hundred for a couple of days and pull off all those super manoeuvres and corner her, it shouldn’t be normally possible. Next day, Hayato agrees to go out to Central town with Emile. Because Emile wants to date him. Bear in mind he is a guy… Or is it… Hayato attracts lots of stares because of the duel with Claire. Even Karen calls him as the hospital staffs are talking about it. So worried this sister that she gets permission to leave the hospital to join Hayato. She meets Emile for the first time and her suspicions are good as ours. Is he really a boy? Even more disturbingly, Karen hopes there isn’t any gay time between them. They noticed an advertisement of a popular idol, Sakura Kirishima who is going to have a concert on a nearby island, Zwei Island. Karen joins them in the outing and well, not sure if this is bad luck because they bump into Claire and her student council members, including Claire’s assistant, Chris Steinbelt. Claire needs his help for the student council. More accurately, she wants him to join Selection, a special unit under the student council. He will remain as a student and get to fight real battles with Savages. Seems they don’t have enough Slayers due to a previous mission. Of course all this is voluntary. If Hayato is joining, Emile wants in too but they claim he doesn’t qualify. This is when Emile dares them to a challenge right now. Liddy isn’t happy Emile is being rude so he challenges her instead. Wait a minute. They are going to fight right here and right now?! Thankfully the alarm goes off before it gets serious. Looks like Savages have appeared on Zwei Island. They will settle this later but Char suggests Hayato and co to be taken along too.

Episode 3
Despite his looks, Chris is actually a smart analyst. There 3 Savages on Zwei Island and to be Trenta type. Claire changes her mind of not deploying Hayato and Emile because they lack experience. Claire’s plan is to hold off the Savages till the support from Warslarn HQ arrives. Char didn’t think she would rely on her older brother, Judar who is also the CEO. But Hayato reminds her of what she just said about noblese oblige, using your powers for the sake of those who don’t. If they wait for support, the city will be destroyed. Char adds that her recommendation was from LiZA and the newbies are their best bet in reducing damage. Claire agrees but the duo will remain on standby. Our student council veterans easily take the first one out. Emile pushes Hayato into the action and they too easily take out the second one. Why is it always the last one that is the toughest? Erica and Liddy almost died and yet Claire still believes she can settle this herself and not need their help? Guess what? She runs out of energy! Could have died too had not Hayato carried her away. They are in the Savage’s firing path but if they move, the airport will get hit and many will die. Hayato uses his barrier to deflect the beam. Nicely done. When Emile defends unconscious Liddy, his clothes gets ripped apart. Well, what do you know? Boobs! I knew it all along! Hayato remembers Emile as the girl from his trauma, Emilia Hermit. He goes to protect her but gets crushed by the Savage’s might. And then this is where Hayato transforms again into his full body armament. He is going wild. Going on a rampage. Man, he is savage! The only way to stop him? Emilia kisses him! Calms him down. Instantly. Together they destroy the Savage. With all that done, time for Claire to be shock in seeing Emile as a girl. It is unfortunate Sakura’s concert was cancelled but nobody got injured thanks to them. And as compensation for making Karen worried? A kiss on the forehead. Nobody’s kiss must outdo her.

Emilia strikes a deal with Claire to continue pretending to be a guy or else the entire academy will be in uproar. Time for Emile to reveal what he knows. He was infected by a deadly Savage virus then. Hayato helped by sucking out the virus and this made him infected too. People with such virus are called Variants and there are less than 10 in the world. A characteristic of the virus is that you lose yourself when you are about to die as the virus activates itself. Emile managed to control it via training. So why did he pretend to be a guy? So he can live in the same room as Hayato? I don’t know if I should call that gay… I’m confused… I didn’t know the virus is a little pervy too because it makes Hayato fall over Emile and squeezing those boobs. How to calm him down? A kiss! This is the reason: To suppress an activated virus, an inactivate virus must be administered. What better way than kissing, right? So we’re going to see lots of kissing from now on? And before the duo could romantically kiss this time (no virus in the way this time), Claire barges in to remind Emile about moving out only to see this scandal. They panic as Hayato fumbles onto Claire. A hand on her boob plus their lips met! OMG! Hayato, why do you always steal Claire’s first times?! The boob groping, the carrying and now the kiss. What next? Her virginity?! Claire and Emile quarrel but the former is made to shut up when Emile mentions about kissing Hayato. I don’t know how this turned out because now Emile bugs Hayato for a kiss. Trying to be the character with the most number of kisses with the main character?

Episode 4
Hayato and Emile are in a mock battle with Reitia and Fritz Granz. Hayato almost lost it but manages to control his inner demons and wins the fight. He is then called by Claire for a mission. As Sakura’s concert is postponed, she has personally requested Hayato to be her bodyguard. It seems the dangers of Savages still lurks. There were 7 in total detected. While in the previous episode 3 were defeated and the balance 4 were shot down upon re-entry to Earth, only 1 body was found. Yup, do the math. They are pretty much out there still. So poor Emile can’t go on a morning date with Hayato since he has to leave early. Hey, did they sleep next to each other on the same bed?! This is a girl pretending to be a boy, you know? So here Hayato is being Sakura’s bodyguard. Inside her room once they are alone, she becomes aggressive in asking him to marry her! She saw from the video how Hayato slain the Savage and instantly liked him. She goes on ranting about announcing it over the media and even planning out their wedding, family, kids, house, pet and oh, a rainbow in the sky. Wow… The only way to stop her is to play her game so Hayato agrees to do all that and wants to seal it with a kiss! Then she backs out and goes take a bath. Hah! So she was just teasing and trolling after all. Or is she… Then there is that accident in the bath in which she calls him to get her recorder. He tries to pick up her clothes strewn all over the floor and she misinterprets it. A little clumsy moment has her slip on the soap. If not for those damn convenient steam, Hayato could have seen everything and really have to marry her. After the usual press conference, Sakura takes him to the site where she is to hold her concert. It seems she is also a Hundred as she transforms into her sexy fairy suit to fly around. There is some explanation about her energy sense to create illusions from Char. Why is she here? Char and Sakura’s manager, Souffle Clearrail used to be colleagues and Char once saved Sakura’s life before. After done with his bodyguard job, Hayato returns and thinks he is the only one to use the public bath. Heck, there Emile is. Emile gets jealous after learning Hayato gets to call Sakura by her first name and wants him to do the same. At least Emile didn’t ask him to repeatedly spam it. Emile shows his scar across the body that is almost healed. And this is another typical women’s logic because Emile has been flirting all the while and when Hayato accidentally gropes her boobs, she screams and calls him a pervert. WTF?!

Episode 5
Claire wanted to give Hayato some poolside fanservice when she realized too late she wasn’t wearing her top. Free show! Immediately Liddy wants to kill him (even if it’s not his fault) but slips and has her crotch on his face! In rage, she squeezes his crotch! Super ouch! On to serious business, Claire tells him about some variable stone that was stolen during last month’s Savage chaos. Thieves might strike again so he has to be more careful guarding Sakura. On to private business, she wants to challenge him to some swimming duel. I think he made a good choice to pass up wearing those Speedos. Instead he went out on a date with Emilia. What are the chances of others seeing them? Emilia believes it is nil since not many students are on this island. You know say because here comes Fritz and Reitia! Better hide in the changing room. As Emilia goes to get drinks, Claire calls him that Sakura is missing. Not kidnapped but by her own will since she left a note. So everyone is searching for her and she wants Hayato to join in too. Why does Claire sound mad? Because she saw on the surveillance cameras of his date with Emilia. Stalker! To make up for it, he must go shopping with her next time. Speaking of Sakura, here she is right before him! She wants to meet him? Not wanting to risk Sakura seeing Emile, he agrees to go with her. Hayato informs Claire and again she doesn’t sound too happy. Yeah, another girl beat her to him.

At the Grand Canyon, she gives her thanks for saving him. When she hums a familiar song, Sakura mentions that this is a song her mother wrote and not many people hear it. Upon learning his sister is Karen, she quickly put together events that ascertain that they once met before. They met at a shelter after another Savage attack that left her mother dead. The siblings listened to her humming and Hayato noted how it made him feel much better. She can’t believe meeting again the guy who changed her life. Thanks to him, she gained confidence and continued singing. Subsequently, Sakura’s father whom she has never met suddenly claimed her and took her back to his homeland. Shortly she fell ill of a virus. She lost her ability to sing then and Souffle was put in charge as her genetic engineer. However her dad sold her off to Warslarn research facility where the lab’s director, Vitaly Tynayanov and his scientists injected fluids from Savage virus into experimented kids. Many children died. Sakura survived and gained her ability to sing again. However, Vitaly’s goal wasn’t to cure the illness but to turn normal people into Slayers. Regardless of the side effects, the vaccines kept being injected. Sakura’s singing managed to calm them down for a while although it did nothing to completely cure them. In the end, she survived by mere luck. Sakura is happy that Hayato is also a Variant like her. Fate? Coincidence? Taking a bus on the way back, a Savage attacks.

Episode 6
Hayato fights the Savage while waiting for reinforcement to arrive. Sakura supports him and she doesn’t care if people start thinking they are a couple. Emile, Fritz and Reitia are here to back him up. In between fighting the Savage, Emile has time to pry Hayato and Sakura apart. Too close? Surprisingly, Sakura’s voice could make the Savage stop dead in its tracks. Before Hayato can deal the final blow, he is attacked by a group of strange people. They kill the Savage and fight off the rest of our Slayers. Once they get the Savage’s core, they retreat. Seems they work for Vitaly. Back at the academy, Claire explains that these people are Hunters. Illegal Slayers, so to speak. They are going around taking Savage’s core because it is equivalent to the variable stone. At least in monetary value. This information is top secret and they are not to share it with the rest of the world. Later Hayato goes to talk to Sakura. She believes her songs affect people because she is not an ordinary singer. It is because she is a Variant that she can. She is sad her songs don’t actually reach anyone and is just deceiving people. Of course Hayato disagrees with all that. He was touched by her song when they first met. She didn’t have the virus then, right? Such sweet words give Sakura hope once more. She even iterates that she is going to fall deeper in love with him. Sakura performs her concert filled with songs, special effects and flying around. I can’t believe when she sings that familiar song, Karen instantly recognizes her from back then. She has been a hardcore fan and never even realized this once?! Next day when the gang sees off Sakura, she cheekily pulls Hayato’s hand in pretence of shaking them but quickly kisses his cheek! Gasp! Shock! Let the cat fight begin! She promises to see him soon. Probably he didn’t count on this soon because he wakes up to find Sakura on top of him!!! OMFG! And then Claire and Emile barge in to see this atrocity. Sakura clings on to him, the rest try to pull her away. Since when did Hayato become their tug of war? Forget Savages, these girls are savage!

Episode 7
Beach episode! I guess we need one so we could give Miharu an excuse to show off her hentai boobs. It is times like these that Emile hates being a guy… Because Sakura is hogging all of Hayato’s time. Not only Hayato is the hotly wanted property but Claire too because Erica and Liddy duke it out to put suntan on her. More fanservice hijinks as Hayato ends up planting his face in Claire’s boobs. Too bad we cut short this fanservice moment as Judar arrive in his helicopter to bring Claire back. Something important must have cropped up. Later Claire tells her Selections that they have a mission to do a joint clean-up mission with UN’s peacekeeping army. Judar then talks to Hayato and asks him what powers Little Garden. If you think it is some nuclear reactor, then you’re wrong. He takes him down to a secret chamber where a girl is seen in a capsule. She is LiZA. She is the one powering the entire Little Garden. Oh, did he mention she is Judar and Claire’s sister, Liza Harvey? The first Slayer and Variant. Claire is not pleased Judar told Hayato such sensitive information. Judar believes Hayato will be a top Slayer that could change the world’s power balance. Thus he needs to know these things to protect them at all costs. Also, Hayato has divine blood in which he can wake up Liza. All he needs to do is touch the capsule… And… Nothing happens. Looks like he hasn’t got enough power yet. Judar’s reason to rush is because he fears Vitaly might come get her. Judar has a past with Vitaly and needs to talk to her soon. Hence this clean-up mission is just a cover-up so he can capture her Hunters and get some information.

The gang are dropped off at Tian Quan City. Instantly this bratty girl rushes to hug Emile and almost revealing his identity. What’s this about Emilia being a hidden princess? Emilia apologizes she lied to Hayato about her name. It isn’t Emilia Hermit but Emilia Gudenburg. Third in line to the Gudenburg royalty. When you have a girl so obsessed about her princess, you can tell she hates the main character. Claudia Loetty from Britannia’s Slayer army begs Emilia to come home but Emilia has vowed never to go back. But can Emilia do it for the sake of Claudia? Not a chance because she loves Hayato more! Another women’s logic: For Emilia to turn out like that… Whose fault is it? Damn you Hayato! Claudia challenges him to a duel over Emilia. Claudia gets pumped up in fighting Hayato. Too bad Emilia is cheering at how cool Hayato is. Eventually lesbian girl loses and being the sore loser she is, she wants another match. Not a chance. And since Emilia won’t give her face to go back with her, I guess that’s that. Shock! Heartbroken! Claudia runs away in tears, though she is not giving up yet. And she still blames Hayato for it all.

Episode 8
It could have been a normal debriefing had not been Claudia is part Emile’s group. Yeah, she is going to show and prove how superior she is to win back Emilia’s heart. When is she going to learn she is not coming back to you? A little dressing down from Claire at least has Claudia shut up a bit. I’m sure we’re not interested in the fight against Savages or seeing Claudia the b*tch showing off how good she is. Because we’re more interested to see who sleeps with who for the night. Worst possible combination for the shift for Emile is that he got Erica while Claudia goes with Claire and Hayato. After changing shifts, Claudia tries to hook Claire and Hayato and send them on a patrol-cum-date. So she thinks she can get Emilia back? She should try harder… Indeed Claire and Hayato spot a Savage. I don’t know how Claire can even trip but thankfully there is Hayato to finish the job. Meanwhile Claudia tries to tell Emilia that Claire and Hayato are dating by the lake. Although feeling shock, Emilia still won’t give up on Hayato. Yeah, it is not enough a reason to run back to he own country if the person she loves is dating someone else. See, what did I tell you?

So while Claire cleans herself at the lake, they talk about Hayato’s power and his experience as a Variant. He mentions when he enters into such mode, he feels his senses numb. She believes Liza must have experienced the same thing. Liza is a designer baby as Savage fluids were injected into a fertilized egg. However this is not the doing of Vitaly as she was a mere assistant. It was Linis, their mother. How could a mother do that to her own child? It was the only way she believed could beat the gods in war. Liza exhibited extremely rare and abnormal talent as a Slayer from a young age. But one day she unleashed some forbidden power to save Claire from a Savage. Ever since she has been in slumber mode and giving off enough energy to power Little Garden. Liza is Judar’s trump card and the reason Claire is the captain is to watch his actions closely. Liza isn’t a tool for ambitions but her precious little sister. She wonders if she has failed being a captain for prioritizing her personal reasons but Hayato understands those feelings. If Karen did not need treatment, he wouldn’t have become a Slayer in the first place. An emergency call startles them. Again, how the heck did Claire slip her naked body onto Hayato?! A reason to blame him and have him take responsibility. Anyway the emergency call is from another squad. They are being wiped out by those Hunters. Fritz’s group just got done in as Claire confronts them in her full body armament. She is stronger than them and warns them to cooperate and give answers. Then it starts raining, giving the Hunters the advantage.

Episode 9
The rain powers up the Hunters as they defeat Claire. Before Krovanh could finish her, Hayato and co arrive. The fierce fighting continues although Krovanh’s sisters, Nesat and Nakri are taken out. Krovanh claims this world there is only despair. That is why they are going to change the world. Man, Krovanh is hitting so hard that Hayato could even glimpse his memories! Let’s see. Child slavery. Mistreated and abuse. They escape. Along the way, Nesat lost an eye. Saved by Vitaly, she could restore it but also give them new powers that would set them free. Hayato too has his own reason to fight: To make this world a better place and protect everyone he cares. This serves to make Krovanh mad as he doesn’t care what the virus will do to him as he ramps up its power. Fortunately a Savage rises from the lake to attack. Krovanh suggests a ceasefire and will help out in taking it down in exchange they take its core. But no matter how hard and heavy (and mad) he hits, its barrier is not breaking. He is blasted away only to be saved by Hayato. Why oh why? Because he wants to make a world where no one gets hurt. So does this mean a harem ending is possible? Anyway, after the Hunters disable their communication jamming device, Claire is able to connect to Char on Little Garden. Based on LiZA’s analysis, the barrier can be shattered if all Slayers concentrate their firepower at the same time. Okay, let’s do it. Nothing happens. Not enough firepower, you say? Well, considering that many of them just got owned.

There is another way… Hayato and Claire must kiss! Ah… We can hear those concerned parties voicing out their disagreement. In doing so, Hayato will transfer his Variant virus to her. It is not known about the long term effects but for now, they have to take care of this Savage. So what are you waiting for? Yay! They kiss! “There is something warm entering my body…”. Oh, you make it sound so dirty. Claire powers up significantly and destroys its barrier, allowing Hayato to finish the job. He collapses into the lake and Emilia jumps in to save him. Guess what? She kisses him. Does it count since he is out? Yeah, nobody must have more kisses than her. In the aftermath, our Little Garden Slayers return as they have suffered damage so they leave it to other groups and countries to continue the mission. The Hunters are taken in and Claire has a feeling Judar is behind it. Emile tries to kiss Hayato recuperating in hospital but Karen and Sakura walk in just in time. Too bad Emile can’t add another kiss to the tally but at least Karen believes that didn’t happen because it would be totally weird for guys to kiss, right? Right?! So she’s never seen yaoi… Everyone is happy when Hayato wakes up. Vitaly realizes those hunters aren’t coming back but no matter because there will be no more hindrances to her plan.

Episode 10
The Hunters although are in custody, their lips remain tightly sealed. Vitaly’s secret lab has also been found but she has already fled and all important data deleted. Thus she is still at large. There is an upcoming festival that celebrates the launching of Little Garden, Garden’s Festa. Additional security is needed so they will join forces with Slayers from other nations. And this means a bad feeling for Emile because… That pesky Claudia is here!!! F*ck!!! Thank goodness they won’t be paired together this time. Hayato learns that Karen will also be singing at Sakura’s performance as a special guest. He wonders if it is possible as she has a weak body. Don’t worry. Char has tweaked her Hundred to enable her to prance around. As the Festa takes place, Hayato and Emile are walking around and stumble upon Reitia and Erica helping out a maid cafe. Erica is very embarrassed in this outfit but Emile teases her by taking photos and wanting to send them to Claire. But Erica gets her best revenge when the duo are ushered in. She makes Emile dress up as a maid! The other maids are impressed Emile looks so much like a cute girl! You don’t say… Erica starts fondling Emilia’s boobs and the rest of the maids egg Hayato to do the same. Bear in mind that everyone else believes Emilia is a guy and they are excited all about it because of the Hayato x Emile yaoi doujin. Yeah… When Hayato is pushed, he falls on top of Emilia and grabs her boobs. He thought it was just towels to bust it up but they’re the real deal! The maids cannot stop taking photos! They encourage them to kiss in which Emilia doesn’t mind and wants to! Hayato pleads for Erica to help out but her shift is over and she has gone back to work. You’re on your own. Just before the concert, Hayato sees Karen. He thinks her outfit is a bit revealing? Isn’t this how all Slayers dress in battle? For making her nervous, a peck on the forehead is all that she wants to calm her down. And for good luck charm. Hey, even Judar personally comes to see them to give his blessings. No kissing charm, though. As Sakura’s concert begins, Vitaly slips into the Festa after hypnotizing a Slayer. So much about security. It is Karen’s turn to sing and a little embarrassing blooper since she is nervous. But after Sakura calms her down, she starts singing beautifully.

Episode 11
Vitaly begins her own show. There are suspicious bee drones hovering all over. Attempts to catch them only has them self destruct. Then heck, they just start blowing up power lines and everything. There are automatic cleaning robots that turn into those bees and some even hijacking the entire system to have unpiloted planes crash into Little Garden! Woah. Well, that is Little Garden’s ex-super technician and designer for you. Claire gives commands for all available Slayers to take them out. It gets harder when there are Savages coming in. But these are not your ordinary Savages. They are artificially made by Vitaly as they have no core. And there are bigger ones outside Little Garden pounding on the shield barrier and in no time they will break in. Char believes this is Vitaly’s war declaration on Warlsarn. Claire wants to go out and fight but Chris is against it and she must stay here at the command centre to command and calm all Slayers. This is where Hayato and Emile come in to cover for her. Because LiZA said so too. What the f*ck are they doing in the command centre in the first place instead of helping other Slayers?! Claire gives them a condition to come back alive and protect everyone. Well, duh! The Hunters are glad Vitaly is here to rescue them. As she is launching an attack on Little Garden, she needs their help. But Krovanh remains sceptical. He believed their deal was not to hurt ordinary people and their fight was just against Slayers. Besides, he believes the people here are not that bad. Vitaly then uses some sound wave to mind control them under control. Meimei tries to save them but was taken out.

Episode 12
Vitaly is forcing the Hunters to obey her every command. Here comes Meimei again to save them. Vitaly abandons them and runs into LiZA’s chamber. Judar is waiting for her. Vitaly reveals her goal. This is about revenge. Revenge on him for pretending to love her, then used her and then threw her away. So this entire thing is basically a woman’s revenge on her ex-lover? No sh*t. She is going to make him suffer but destroying LiZA before his eyes. First, her Savages give out some sort of sound wave with viruses that weaken the Slayers. When Vitaly fires at the chamber, nothing happens. Surely it can’t be easily destroyed by a few bullet shots, right? Even more shocking is that LiZA has awakened. This is all part of Judar’s plan. By using Sakura’s songs, he gambled LiZA would awaken faster. In other words, he used her again. Vitaly fires more bullets into him but LiZA protects him. And then Judar shoots her. He thanks her for helping him a lot in his plans. What a tragic love story. LiZA then tells Sakura and Karen to sing for everyone. Their singing cancels out the virus and the Slayers are able to fight again. Hayato transforms to his full body armament to take down the big mother Savage but it is not enough. Krovanh unleashes his frustration on it but there is only so much anger can do. Now it is Nesat’s turn to get mad. In her bid to protect her brother, she uses her power to absorb the Savage. Now she is fused with it. This is dangerous as Char recognizes it as the same situation that happened to Liza. She will eventually go out of control and cause a huge explosion.

Meanwhile unconscious Hayato is visited by LiZA and is told he can save her. So what is his motivation? LiZA kisses him!!! OMG! He even gets a kiss from the super computer girl! You lucky bastard! Claire has decided between taking one life and sacrificing thousands. But wait. Hayato can save them all! She is going to give him one chance and if he fails, she will take Nesat out herself. So the method Hayato is going to save her is using his voice to reach her? Talking about freedom, eh? Well, I guess this is what diplomacy is supposed to be. But what happens if that doesn’t work? Well, they clash once and in this whatever alternate dimension, he talks to her once more. This time about trust and friends. Yeah. You can trust me. Thankfully he isn’t a politician ;p. And just like that, Nesat returns to normal. At night as the fireworks display on Little Garden, suddenly Emilia usurps us by kissing Hayato. Ah, she must always outdo the others, right? After saying their wish to be with each other, you mean Hayato is agreeing to kiss her a second time?! OMG! He did! And then everybody sees this and misinterprets this gay moment. Claudia is most mad as she corners Hayato and warns him about kissing the princess. Unfortunately she spilled all the details so Emilia has to come clean. She confesses she is a girl and a princess. Shocker, no? I take back Claudia is the maddest because that goes to Claire who is going to blast them with her beam! F*ck this sh*t!!!

From Hundred To Zero
Well, well. Are you mind blown yet? I couldn’t be happier it ended. And I’m even gladder that it ended on a cheesy cat fight but at the same time they should just extend it and see how Claire hunts down Hayato and Emilia’s ass for whatever jealousy reasons. I think that would have been a better plot than fighting Savages or that cheesy ex-girlfriend-revenge-plot-by-killing-thousands-of-innocents scheme. Seriously, there has got to be a better way than seeking revenge on you ex-boyfriend. And too bad for her it didn’t pay off and got used for one last time again by the sneaky bastard. Just as planned… Sheesh. Is Vitaly really dead or will Judar encased her in a capsule for his next phase of his plan? Don’t care. Don’t want to know.

Forgive me if I am saying how cliché, generic and typical the characters are for I have seen so many of such similar genres that they look so same that if I were to say it again, I would be repeating myself for the hundredth time. Maybe I should just post a link and refer them to my previous blogs but then again that will take a lot of work and I am feeling so lazy so just screw that. So you have the cliché and generic main character (check his tragic past, check his hidden powers, check his destiny to change the future or power balance, check his ideals that he will stick to, check his babe magnet, check everything else), his harem girls that include the flirty idol, the possessive cross-dresser, the little sister trope, the b*tches, the lesbian b*tches, the scheming big brother commander, the other guy, a rocket scientist, her furry android maid servant, an AI, a busty nurse, a typical antagonist who was once a member of the team gone astray and her bunch of misguided followers. Yeah, very diverse indeed.

So I’m not going to jump in and repeat again all the typical characters because I don’t want to bore myself again. I’m just going to note a few like Emile/Emilia is mind boggling and as annoying. Although the same person, sometimes I get so confused if I should refer to this cross-dresser as a guy or girl that I just gave up and just refer to him/her whatever my mind comes to. The weirdest thing about him/her is that he/she wants to be close to Hayato. And I mean close enough to hold his hand and arm like how lovers do. Because here I thought he/she was trying to keep his/her gender identity a secret but at the same time has no qualms in getting into situations in public that would cause people to misinterpret about their relationship. I’m not sure if he/she is trying to indirectly garner some sort of support for Hayato x Emile yaoi doujin. Because that would only make it worse because you know, every other girl would be squealing over them and isn’t that what Emilia doesn’t want? Other girls to get closer to Hayato? Either way, he/she is annoying as hell. And you thought revealing her as a real girl was the biggest surprise of the series, huh? Big joke… Even her secret princess identity wasn’t that much of a big deal. Okay, so it does to others. Especially Sakura. Because now a royalty ranks higher than an idol and guess where she stands now in the pecking order for Hayato’s love? Yeah…

The only other character that is amusing and interesting is Claudia because of her b*tch and lesbian admiration for Emilia. She never gives up. Anything wrong, always blames Hayato. I figure every such harem anime (or at least most of them) should have one girl who hates our female attracting main character because it would be more fun that way. Despite being annoying, at least she is funny in that sense unlike Emile/Emilia who is just plain annoying. Man, she should have appeared earlier because I never seem to tire of her baseless accusations. And the other amusing ‘character’ that I find is LiZA who seems to be the so called most intelligent thing on Little Garden. Because every damn advice it gives out must be so good that nobody questions it and just follows. Even though she only prints one English word on screen. How the f*ck did she not detect Vitaly sneaking onboard. Even the smartest AI has her limits. Especially when you encased a comatose girl in a capsule. And now that she is free, will she be moving around in her spirit form? That will be scary and making Little Garden looking a bit haunted, isn’t it?

The fanservice and factor is also generic and cliché. At least it is better for me to talk about this since I love this kind of stuffs seasons in, seasons out. Even though they are pretty much very similar. So by throwing in a lot of kisses, do they think they can make this generic series stand out? Well, this isn’t the only series in the genre to have a main character getting multiple kisses throughout the season. But you know, kisses are like declaration of war in harem genres and with almost every potential candidate having kissed Hayato in some way. I am sure Emile/Emilia is leading the kiss count. Then there are cheesy obligatory fanservice which include females with big boobs, females who end up in the nude (but short of any frontal nudity and hentai) and because what good will it do if you omit the cliché ‘main character must fall over and have his face and/or hands on her boobs’ scene. And don’t forget the bath scenes too. I know it is all generic and probably why we watch this anime and yet why do I sound like I’m complaining? Do I really sound like I’m complaining about this?

Same can be said for the harem side. To balance out everything, you have girls who love him and girls who hate him. I wish they had materialize more cat fights over Hayato (cat fight round 1 between Claire and Emilia when?) because personally I think it is better to see them fight against Savages that you will know they will triumph over in the end. But what bugged me was Reitia’s position. We have Emilia, Claire, Sakura and to a certain extent Karen who love Hayato. Then we also have Liddy and Erica having hots for Claire and Claudia for Emilia. So where does that leave Reitia? She is the first character he bumps into and it gave an impression that she would most likely end up being one of the potential candidates. Then what happened to her? Is she more like Noa and Xuemei level? Not really because it feels she is more than them. Perhaps like Char level? So in addition to girls who love and hate Hayato, we got girls who aren’t even on his radar. That is why I felt that she and her partner Fritz are like redundant characters. Characters who are there just to show that not everything revolves around Hayato or related to him. The other Slayer team with no ‘important’ connection to him. At least better than other background characters whose names we will never even know.

One of the most important aspects that were not really addressed is the origins of the Savages. I mean as much as I prefer the silly cat fights and I-will-have-more-kisses-to-Hayato-than-any-other-of-you-b*tches, sometimes I want to know what these are. What are they in the first place and why are they attacking the world. Because of the cheesy focus on the characters, these alien monsters get side-lined and being reduced to just baddies for our heroes to take them out. It feels like they are just existing for that reason. Not to say that I am not rooting for the Slayer heroes but it feels like hating something because you don’t understand the full extent of it. Like hating Mario’s Bowser just because he always kidnaps the princess and thus his reputation will always forever be known as the great villain. Have you ever thought he may be the one saving her from the delusional clutches of a psychopath Italian plumber? Or if everything was just a freaking act? Woah… Don’t want to go into that kind of conspiracy theory. Therefore having these Savages here just feels empty and I don’t really see them live up to their barbaric nickname. Even though the aliens have this Savage as their nickname to give them some sort of identity, it just isn’t enough. Heck, they could have just given them any name and it still won’t matter.

Action scenes also feel average and sometimes a side dish to whatever this anime is all about. Because of the need for the Slayers to show off their single set of skills and hence the need for a fight between humans and giant bugs. There is hardly any variety or even any unique moves that I would even remember as it is either they fire some laser beam or strike it with a sword. Other than that, I wonder how many bullets Vitaly’s gun can hold because she seems to be shooting it like nobody’s business without reloading. And then when it runs out, it is a sign for her to bite the dust and get shot by Judar who used only a single bullet and he made that bullet count. Oh boy…

Art and drawing feels rather okay, nothing to shout about. If the art feels similar, it is because Production IMS have also animated similar series in the harem and sci-fi genre like Shinmai Maou No Testament, Date A Live, Masou Gakuen HxH, Active Raid and Ore Twintail Ni Narimasu. Character designs feel pretty generic and I’m sure I have seen those body suit designs somewhere before but as usual, I’m too lazy to go think and do some back study. As for the designs of the Savages, I’m not sure if putting glowing stripes over them makes them look any menacing. I don’t know. It just seems weird.

Of all the decent voice acting, I only recognized Yui Horie as Char and Rina Satou as Souffle. The rest of the casts include Yoshiaki Hasegawa as Hayato (Yura Mikage in Mayoiga), Rumi Ookubo as Emile/Emilia (Nona in Death Parade), Mao as Claire (Kazumi in Gokukoku No Brynhildr), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Judar (Haruhiro in Hai To Gensou No Grimgar), Mayu Oshioka as Sakura (Mayu in Wake, Up Girls), Kaya Okuno as Karen (Kaya in Wake Up, Girls!), Yui Makino as Erica (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle), Rika Kinugawa making her debut as Liddy (Takako Chino in Orange), Yuka Ootsubo as Reitia (Kyouko in YuruYuri), Wataru Hoshino as Fritz (Gajeel in Fairy Tail), Chinatsu Akasaki as Claudia (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby), Romi Paku as Vitaly (Hitsugaya in Bleach), Yuuhei Takagai as Krovanh (Gowther in Nanatsu No Taizai), Saori Oonishi as Nesat (Emi in Jinsei) and Machico as Nakri (Nishiyama in Sansha Sanyou).

I have a hunch that they decided to break the monotony and add some spice in what was turning out to be a mediocre series. That is why for a short series with only a dozen episodes, there are multiple ending themes, each lasting only 3 episodes. Fortunately there is one which is quite attractive to listen to and it is the second ending theme, Tabooless by the student council top dogs (b*tches doesn’t sound appropriate, right?) trio of Claire, Erica and Liddy. It is a sultry and sexy dance beat (although the animation shows the trio in high class sexy slutty lingerie). This is far best my favourite song of the series. Others are rather okay like the hard rock third ending theme, Hardy Buddy by Fritz and Reitia, the anime rock first ending theme, Eyes On Me by Emilia and Sakura and the fourth ending theme which is a slow ballad by Sakura and Karen. Sakura also sings a couple of insert songs throughout the series like Itsuka Anata Wo and Sand Mirage but none of them captured my attention. Oddly, if Fritz’s seiyuu had a singing part, I don’t see why Hayato’s didn’t have one. Can’t sing? Too main character for his own song? As for the opening theme, your typical anime rock, Bloodred by D-selections. Nothing special, though.

Overall, another disappointing anime to add to my list with average and cheesiness in every department. Uh huh, calling Infinite Stratos as a better comparison is saying something… Because the girls there are cuter :p. But I can only blame myself for taking the bait as I am condemned forever to love such shows. That is why even when producers make the same similar shows in the future with just few tweaks and variations, people like me will still fall for it for the hundredth and even thousandth time. It never gets old. It’s like our seasonal fix for our addiction. Same time, same place next season? Yeah, if you have seen a hundred harem sci-fi series, you’ve seen them all. And that’s pretty savage!

Hantsu x Trash OVA 2

October 7, 2016

Hey wait a minute. There’s more of that sexy and stupid water polo comedy? I guess it wasn’t enough so they had to do another OVA for Hantsu x Trash just to satisfy our horny desires in the water polo field. Yeah right. If you can’t remember what the previous OVA was or have never watch it, don’t bother. We’re all here for the fanservice :-).

Boobs Water Polo
Something must be going on. The water polo guys are dead serious. They are staking their lives for their upcoming match. With the girls cheering on them, the guys miraculously win their match! First victory! Then the whole truth comes out. The reason and main motivation why the guys worked so hard and won is because their teacher Miyoshi promised them to let them fondle her boobs if they win! No wonder! Now that they have won, the guys can’t wait to fondle her boobs. So impatience that they come running to her down the hallways with in their birthday suits!!! OMFG!!! So hard up for it?! Since the guys kept their part of the bargain, she must keep hers. So in a private room, she strips down to her bra but the horny guys want more. Take the bra off! Oh yeah! Real huge tits!

Meanwhile Hamaji is stationed outside as he guards the entrance. Hayami comes to congratulate him and his team when she hears the boys in the room screaming about breasts. Hamaji tries to prevent her from peeking and thus accidentally falls onto her. And thus creating a lame excuse for him to fantasize about him molesting Hayami’s boobs while he helps her stretch out before swimming. Back to the boobs party, Miyoshi lays down the rules to fondle her boobs. They get only 3 seconds each. Yeah. Whatever. So we see the guys fondling and even sucking her tits that send her into ecstasy. Admit it. She’s a whore. She loves it. And yet to hide this slutty behaviour of hers she punches them out once their time limit is over. They don’t care. They’re in heaven already. It was f*cking worth it.

Back to Hamaji, Hagiwara and Shinozaki are telling him they want to hold a celebration party for the guys for their first win. While Hagiwara is excited about it, Shinozaki isn’t. For some weird (horny) reason, Shinozaki starts fondling Hagiwara’s boobs. Hence another lame excuse for Hamaji to fantasize the duo making out in a love hotel. And because lesbianism isn’t enough, he joins in to make it a threesome citing he won’t lose out to that! Nakajima is the last guy left to fondle Miyoshi’s boobs. This guy is good that Miyoshi starts feeling orgasmic that he went over the 3 second limit. Luckily Miyoshi returns to her senses and knocks him out. Now this slut b*tch is already so aroused that she needs more of it. Yeah. You know what I’m thinking? Who is the only boy left? Save the best for last, huh?

Miyoshi takes Hamaji in and is willing to get down and dirty with him. He is the only guy she claims can satisfy her and even takes off her bottom! F*cking bastard gets the best privilege ever! Luckily for Hamaji (and unluckily for Miyoshi), Hamaji remembers Hagiwara and the promise she would be the first one he will give his virginity. So he runs away screaming Hagiwara’s name while Miyoshi can only lament another missed opportunity. But she’s not giving up yet because if Hagiwara continues to dilly-dally, she’ll take him away from her. Hamaji bumps into Hagiwara. The girls have already left for the celebration and since the guys are nowhere to be seen (Hamaji claims they are ‘tired’) Hagiwara suggests doing the celebrations next time. But for today, Hagiwara will treat him as her reward for working hard in today’s match.

Boobs x Nipples x Fondling
What did I just watch again? Just like the first OVA, there is nothing pretty much happening in the second one as the only ‘highlight’ is just as always the boobs fanservice no matter how absurd and silly they are. I guess the guys worked so hard and finally they are now so hard on down there that they get their wish. Well, at least in this second OVA, there isn’t any of that gay Nakajima dream that Hamaji always ends up getting when his dreaming is getting to the good part. Really. That was hilarious and at the same time cringing. Also, Hamaji doesn’t really feel like the main character here since half of the time the focus is on Miyoshi getting fondled. This is the true ‘plot’ for this second OVA. But who cares about all that because we are here for the fanservice, right? I fear that if she continues to give this reward for the guys’ water polo team to win every time, she is going to end up getting raped because fondling tits are like drugs. You need more of it to reach the same level of satisfaction.

Having said all that, this means just like in the previous OVA, the character development is still as pathetic as ever. In the sense that you wonder what the heck those other characters especially the other girls are here for. Of course if you have watched the first OVA it might help a little but still it doesn’t tell you much. Our veteran ecchi guts will tell us that these girls are of course to serve as Hamaji’s harem and love interest but we don’t get to see any of that. Oh right. We don’t care as long as we get to see some tits, do we? This means the atrocious drawing and animation did not improve from the last OVA and the characters still look weird from certain angles. In a nutshell, the second OVA isn’t any better than the first other than the fact to give us our short term fix in ecchi fanservice. That’s about it. You watch those boobs, you enjoy them, then you cringe at its guilty pleasure and then you go back to your ordinary life or find better porn to fap to if this has got you even aroused. If water polo doesn’t quite cut it anymore, beach volleyball, anyone?

Kuma Miko

October 2, 2016

They say the grass is always greener on the other side. The opportunities from across always look more bountiful than the ones before you. That is why many from the countryside and rural areas always try their luck by heading out to the urban city in hopes in improving their fortunes and life. Take for instance our main character in Kuma Miko. A young girl always stuck in the deep remote and mountainous village because of her job as a miko for a local legend. It is only natural for her to yearn the city life. Imagine all the things girls her age would be doing had she been living in the city instead of being cut off from the rest of society and civilization. Sure, we can always imagine things. But the big question is, is she ready to handle all that and have what it takes to live in the city? You know how the city isn’t as rosy as it paints itself to be, right? Thus this series is about our protagonist going through her daily life as she prepares for the day she will be ready to take on the city. The other question is, can she really do it in time?

Episode 1
A girl treks through a mountainous area of Kumade Village filled with bears. One creeps up on her. Will it be her doom? Instead he welcomes her home. Machi Amayadori is a miko and Natsu is a big brown bear. She wants to go to a school in the city but he shows his ferocious fangs that are not acceptable. He gives excuses of the dog-eat-dog world the city is especially Machi who has grown up for so long in the mountains, she has a country complex. However Machi claims this village is so boring and she can’t take all that crap anymore. Now it’s Natsu’s turn to cry (crocodile tears?) as he reminisces the little girl he always has to console. What will he do if she is gone? Like Machi cares… Therefore he is going to give her a quiz to see if she has got what it takes to live in the city. Don’t worry, they’re easy ones. But how come they feel like trick questions? Like what you used to get into train stations. Watermelon? Apple? Bananas? Sure, Machi got lucky picking the green one but the next question, how the heck would she know that OIOI is pronounced as Marui?! In short, Machi doesn’t know. So the only viable thins is for a girl to get mad at the bear.

The police are on a patrol and see a bunch of kids. They warn them about the bears in the area when Yoshio (Machi’s cousin) claims he is the village’s health department officer and is supposed to give those kids a tour of the place. The police relent since the villagers never take the bear warnings seriously like as though bears and humans here have co-existed in peace for a long time. Back at the shrine, Yoshio begins his lame picture story telling. But when the boys claim it is too boring, he takes out the original traditional book. Suddenly Kaori jumps up and screams words like “Sexual harassment!” and “Don’t touch me!”. OMG! Triggered?! Future feminist?! Yeah, this book tells about the virgin maiden sacrificed to the bear. In other words, bestiality rape scene. But later parts of the story reveals the bear fell in love with the maiden, mended his ways and worked for her. Thus the beginning of the co-existence of humans and bears at Kumade. The real surprise here is that bears can talk. The kids are in for a shock when Natsu serves them drinks. They fear him more since he is not in the mood of being touched. Since Machi didn’t want to play along to this, Natsu is forced to drag her out. Seems Machi is too shy to face them after that erotic rape story. The kids are impressed as Natsu continues talking. They want to brag to others but Yoshio warns them this secret cannot be leaked to outsiders or else you’ll be punished. The conversation goes on normally till one of the kids asks Machi this curious question… Was she raped by the bear???!!! Of course she vehemently denies it. Making it even more embarrassing is that Yoshio thinks Natsu did rape her! Not sure if he is trolling her. All that fervour calm down when Natsu says he is neutered. But this still has left Machi with a very red face.

Episode 2
Machi often cried when Natsu had to leave for his hibernation. That is why he stopped hibernating. Well, Machi doesn’t remember all that… But she is still bent on going to the city. As proof, she takes out an MD. However Natsu knows where this is going. He tells her MDs are no longer in production. Somebody needs to be updated. When all else fails, attack the bear! Use violence till he relents! Natsu okays her to go to the city but first she must learn about society and stuff. So he writes he first task: Go buy a HEATTECH from Uniqlo. She has 2 days from tomorrow. Machi gets right on thinking what to do. However she is stuck in thinking what kind of clothes to wear. A mission impossible? What the heck is a HEATTECH too? She starts thinking Uniqlo is a hardware store and HEATTECH is some sort of heater. Yeah, she almost asked Natsu a stupid question if it explodes. As she sets out, she meets her first obstacle: The wooden bridge is broken. It can only be fixed tomorrow. Natsu breathing down her neck with a reminder: Only 1 day left… Fortunately he isn’t so bad as he cuts down a tree to let her cross over. Since her bicycle is missing, she sees aunt Etsuko (Yoshio’s mom) who lends her Yoshio’s bike. No wonder nobody wants to use this bike. Such embarrassing chair… As she rides down the mountains. Suddenly everything breaks apart! I mean everything! She jumps off before the bike hits the tree and dismantles itself! OMFG! That was scary! Yeah, the only thing that isn’t destroyed is the chair…

Feeling hopeless, Machi cries for Natsu’s help. But she knows she has to depend on herself at times like these and got to push on. She braves up and treks through the mountains in hopes she will reach something. Well, she did. Yoshio and his friend Kameji “Matsu” Komatsu fishing. They agree to give her a ride there. I guess she has to bear with their incessant teasing and other quirky habits. Like her misconception of HEATTECH and Uniqlo. Yeah, they’re even making jokes and taking pictures of Machi making her purchase like as though she is some sort of celebrity. Once she is done with the task, she can no longer hold in her frustration and beats them up outside! Holy sh*t! There is only so much a limit a girl can take. Back home, Machi spots a gloomy look. She felt hopeless during her journey. Yeah, she sure is, Natsu agrees to it. Machi is shocked when Natsu mentions he expected her to go to Uniqlo via Yoshio’s car. When she proudly shows her bruises, Natsu gets serious. He nags her about the dangers of the mountains and her inability to come back after the bike broke. Like a child not wanting to hear her nagging mother, she mentions she bought HEATTECH so what’s the big deal? She passed, right? Yeah, she passed. Though, Natsu doesn’t seem too pleased. Asking her to show HEATTECH, she strips open her shirt! She is wearing this heater t-shirt underneath her miko garment in which Natsu doesn’t like her doing so. Yoshio comes home and wonders where his bike is. For all he knows, a lone chair sitting deep within the mountains…

Episode 3
Natsu wants to teach Machi more stuff about the city but apparently she is too lazy. Where has all that enthusiasm go? So she says she is tired? Yeah, putting with those blokes’ harassment was really an ordeal. To Natsu’s surprise, she wants to perform the kagura dance, something that she never liked to do. After setting up and starting the music, WTF is this exercise song! Natsu is mad! Stop! Stop! See, it is cloudy now. The gods must be mad. Taking a break, Machi mentions she is just an ordinary girl with no powers doing what grandma told her to do. On the contrary, Natsu mentions she does have powers when she was young. I don’t know about that trance but it looks funny although it was scary to Natsu because she pulled out his eyelashes! There are other trance moments too and naturally she can’t remember them is because she was in a trance. When Natsu mentions about the similarities of the trance and those DJ nightclubs, it gives Machi motivation to get up and dance again! Woah! Such energetic dance! She almost knocked herself out by banging into a tree. At least Machi is now motivated to do a proper dance ritual. At the end of it, Yoshio has brought them cake and drinks. Well, I don’t know if bears can eat cake but apparently it tastes horrible to Natsu. Machi falls asleep, tired from the dance so Natsu follows suit. He wakes up when he starts to rain. It seems Machi is dancing via that exercise track! OMFG! The lightning just struck the tree! It’s on fire! Machi is still dancing! Stop it! STOP IT NOW!!!

Machi is going to give Natsu a haircut. He has a bad feeling about this. Feeling like being decapitated? He runs away when he feels the scissors poking his flesh. But here comes Yoshi with a few miko dresses for Machi to try out. It seems there was a contest to design summer clothing for her and with the few entries, Machi is to put them on so the judges can pick a winner. Machi is quite interested in the Ainu tradition but these blokes have no further information about it and it feels disappointing. But she is encouraged thinking the dresses might have Ainu design. However the first one is an idol outfit! What the heck is this?! Machi punches Yoshio when he peeks to see the commotion. However he fights back about the ‘discrimination’. So why Natsu can see her in her undies and not him?! Why the discrimination between humans and bears! Yeah, it looked like a rape scene, Yoshio pinning down Machi… Anyway, Machi puts on all 4 outfits as the judges Natsu, Yoshio and Etsuko decide. All have conflicting views especially Natsu and Yoshio in some sort of disagreement over everything. But the most disappointed is Machi because none have any Ainu designs! She returns to her usual dress and refuses to become their dress-up doll.

Episode 4
Eventually Machi wears one of the designs as she participates with the villagers in a ritual. They too know all about it since they were spying during the judging and Yoshio showed the pics from his handphone. Everyone then starts to discuss and have their own opinions about each of the design. Not only Machi isn’t pleased but perhaps the gods too since it is starting to rain heavily… Later as Yoshio delivers sushi to them, they talk about the dance being made public. Machi disagrees to it and definitely won’t do it if Natsu isn’t with her. Even more so she won’t accept somebody substituting as Natsu’s part. It makes Yoshio wonder if Machi is dependent on Natsu. So Machi thinks about it and it dawned to her that she might not survive without Natsu. To prove it, she can turn on the TV! And play some video games! Okay, maybe a little bit of challenge there. Then she wonders if Natsu can survive without her and goes to spy on him. He is doing fine. He is even high-tech using sensor keys to lock doors! Machi feels bad for having such thoughts. As she goes to apologize, Natsu praises the technology Yoshio introduced to him. Machi just goes with the flow and agrees to it.

OMG. Machi is standing next to this delinquent, Hibiki Sakata and feeling very afraid! She should be because Hibiki beats her up! Machi tries to be calm and escape but Hibiki catches up and more abuse! WTF?! Till Machi cannot hold it in anymore and starts crying. Natsu comes by and our poor miko girl seeks solace in his arms. Hibiki is Yoshio’s childhood friend and claims she just wants to talk with her. Apparently Hibiki is often misunderstood because of her actions. Besides, they know each other for a long time. Hibiki wants to take Machi to shopping. I guess Machi has no choice but to agree. And Natsu thought it was just cute, girls having a girly time together. Hold on tight. Hell is coming. Biker girl Hibiki, the ride of your life! Literally. Machi feels comfortable at the Shimomura department store but is head butt out of her daydreaming. Again, Machi is forced to pick clothes and be Hibiki’s dress-up doll. But when Hibiki is having trouble choosing hers, suddenly Machi falls into a trance and it is like she knows everything about Shimomura. Their sales, their area size, their cost cutting measures and efficiency that lead to cheap affordable items! Wow. It’s like she is an employee or some industrial spy! More explanations about their exclusive rights that even make Hibiki change her view on them! When a dress she wants doesn’t have her desired size, Hibiki is about to give up but Machi tells her there is another Shimomura store in the next town. Quickly they ride there and thankfully there is stock. There are also other items in this store not available in the previous. This makes Hibiki to believe that Machi might become a Shimomura expert.

Episode 5
OMG! Who are those trendy girls making villagers’ heads turn as they walk past?! Cool background music too! It’s like an ad for Shimomura. Natsu is happy for the girls but Machi has to go change since a job has come up. Natsu hopes Hibiki could hang out with Machi more often but she denies it and if Machi wants to play with her next time, she’ll teach her adult stuffs. Let’s hope no drugs. Machi seems to be reeling from her experience with Hibiki so Natsu tells her to express her feelings to Hibiki if she enjoys it. A father caught his son, Shouta stealing and is taken to Machi as punishment. He is locked up in a cage in a cave with Natsu. Oh dear. See how Natsu is violently tearing apart the wood? Shouta has reflected his actions but it seems he needs to stay with Natsu for a night! Oh sh*t! As long as you don’t bother Natsu, he is pretty much preoccupied with the toy offerings from the village. The boy gets the fright of his life and passes out when Natsu approaches close to him. Actually Natsu just wanted to ask Machi for an instruction manual for an appliance. Oops. They overdid it. So as they take the boy back with Yoshio, Yoshio learns that Machi has already gone shopping with Hibiki. But how does he know they went to Shimomura? Because he told Hibiki to bring her there. Before any more juicy stuffs could flow out, conveniently here comes Hibiki to shut everyone up and deny everything. So you mean Hibiki didn’t do all that for Yoshio? Really?

Back home, Machi and Yoshio are so dense as they discuss Hibiki’s actions. Of course Natsu knows that Hibiki likes Yoshio and the mere mention of it has delinquent abusing big bear and warning him never to say those crazy stuffs. Hibiki still doesn’t get the hint and Yoshio has just stopped thinking. Wouldn’t it be easier for Hibiki just to say her feelings? DON’T YOU DARE SAY IT! Because Machi gets the wrong idea that Yoshio is troubling her and offers to work together to defeat him, Natsu takes Machi outside for a much needed lesson. He wants her to learn this supernatural power called reading between the lines. Sensing the atmosphere and feeling of others without ruining the mood. So he acts out as a tsundere. Machi doesn’t get it. Even roleplaying as Yoshio and Hibiki, Natsu’s actions of hugging and saying “I hate you” only confuses Machi. Is Hibiki trying to kill Yoshio? In his last attempt, he hints there is someone Hibiki likes and shows the dire situation Yoshio and Hibiki are in now. What should Hibiki do? The correct answer is to send Hibiki home quietly. But guess what Machi does? She goes to strangle Yoshio as she misinterprets he is the obstacle to the person Hibiki likes! Frustrated Natsu spells out word for word that Hibiki likes Yoshio. Yoshio didn’t hear that properly and Hibiki knocks him out with an elbow to the gut! Then she abuses Machi and warns her not to tell anybody about this or else… Her fear of delinquents just got worse. Later Natsu and Machi talk in the bath. She still can’t believe there is someone who likes Yoshio. Yeah, you better believe it. She wonders if she will like a man herself. But Natsu can only think of Machi being abused and her body used and thrown away by sleazy scumbags. He wants her to stay in the village forever. Get real.

Episode 6
The villagers are discussing ways to attract visitors but they don’t understand what the young ones want and ask Hibiki for advice. It seems there is this cool place called Village Vanguard where youngsters can check out cool things. And since the villagers know nothing about this, Natsu decides to send Machi to go to that store with her mission to get him a DVD. Think of it as training for her city life. But does Machi even understand what vanguard means? We see how much of a country bumpkin Machi is. She doesn’t know how to ride an escalator and she keeps thinking store clerks do not want her business because she is not trendy! Once outside Village Vanguard, because of the weird items on display, Machi starts becoming scared. Is this a witchcraft shop? Yoshio tries to push her in but she resists and causes a tantrum. Embarrassing if you consider the onlookers wondering what the heck is going on. It reaches unbearable point as Machi punches Yoshio in the guts and runs for it! She almost stumbles into the path of a handsome guy but he carries her like a little girl. It got too much for her to handle as she faints.

Natsu is not happy over this failed mission but Machi is clearly traumatized. He is going to lecture her about this embarrassing incident that would only decrease her chances of living in the city but Yoshio deflects the blame back to him. Wasn’t it Natsu’s fault for sending her out to do something like this that is too much for her to handle at this point in time? Seeing how scared she is still, maybe he is right. It is no joke that Machi is still crying and scared so Natsu now becomes guilt-ridden and scared. He apologizes, he kneels but Machi is still the same. Oh sh*t. It is going to become double troublesome if you have a panicking bear in the house. He waits outside her room as Machi cries herself to sleep. Natsu remembers the past whereby he was sick and Machi took care of him. He tries to cook porridge for her but you know about bears’ paws and knives. The clumsy commotion has awakened Machi. He takes this chance to sincerely apologize to her for saying all those mean things. But Machi this time blames herself and it is not Natsu’s fault. I know she wants to release some steam and learn from her mistakes but is she trying to flip the table?! Oh, please don’t! I guess this means Natsu has to bear the brunt as Machi takes out her abuse on him. Yes, this is his atonement. This is his punishment. He will bear this sin. All bear puns not intended… Next day, Machi is looking refreshed and rejuvenated! Wow. And Natsu… He is like so dead and lifeless… What a wild night it was… Yeah, I hope all that beating was worth it. It better be.

Episode 7
Machi chops firewood so Natsu reminds her that with technology like electricity, they should take advantage of it. However Machi still prefers to continue the traditional way. This makes Natsu remember she has been doing this since young without a single complaint. If she isn’t doing this for hobby or vent her frustration, what is it for? Because if she could, she wouldn’t want to do this hard labour too. She claims she isn’t good with appliances but wouldn’t mind trying if there was one. Thanks to Yoshio’s connections, they got a rice cooker. Being the noob she is, it is freaking odd to see a bear teaching a human how to use an electric rice cooker! Because Machi carries the pot with chopsticks (fearing there would be electricity all over), of course she fumbles. Before they know it, the place is on fire! Machi is rife with guilt that she can’t do it so Natsu tells her to not give up. In the end, they manage to have their perfectly cooked rice. It was boiled over fire by the way. When Yoshio comes by to tell Natsu and Machi that there will be a job ritual soon, the duo are in shock because nobody told them there would be one. Furthermore, granny is away at the hotspring and they have to prepare for one now in which nobody knows which ritual it is. As Yoshio goes to gather more information, the duo start preparing the hall. In the end, the ritual job is kikase. Natsu is supposed to give a speech to show that he is powered by the gods and channelling their thoughts. Natsu isn’t thrilled since Machi won’t have a part in this and is taking it easy. And what is he going to talk about? Improvise. So here is Natsu talking to the old people and trying to sound more ferocious and threatening as suggested but you know what? Screw all that. He talks about the good of technology and internet! You old folks should make good use of it! Sadly, Machi wasn’t paying a single attention and you wonder if the old people understood what he said. When Yoshio returns to his office, his chief shows a flyer about a contest for ideas to revitalize the village. Yoshio becomes passionate with some ideas that he believes this village lacks confidence, pride and presentation. The chief gives him handle this although he doesn’t have to be serious. Just enough to show the higher ups they are doing something and make them look good.

Episode 8
Machi makes cold water rice and she thinks she is the best there is till Natsu makes an Italian version of it using herbs she never even knew! Don’t be jealous. They let Yoshio taste to see who is better and although he claims both are good, Machi senses something suspicious when he points out hers is better. Could he have an ulterior motive? True enough, he is asking her to use her cooking skills for this village. He explains there is a part time job of cooking food samples that she could help out in promoting the village’s specialties. If learning experience and money didn’t interest her, then perhaps a trip to Sendai or Tokyo might. See the glitter in her eyes now. But since there is a weird outfit she needs to wear, she disagrees but Yoshio restrains her and tries to force her to sign an agreement! WTF?! Rape scene?! Natsu hints for Machi to take this job as she could go to the city. Though not impressed, she reluctantly agrees when the guys mention miko outfits are the trend now in Tokyo. But Machi soon realizes she has been deceived by Yoshio. It isn’t a supermarket in Tokyo or Sendai but a nearby neighbourhood. What’s more, he left her alone in search for other places. Even worse, a supermarket employee is breathing down her neck, staring at her to do her job! Trauma mode on! She feels like running home to her furry forest animals but remembers that there would be consequences worse than death. She tries to use her meek voice but it is so soft that nobody heard.

She is about to give up but Hibiki is here. She didn’t want to help out but seeing those tears that read please-help-me in her eyes, Hibiki tries to be the decoy to lead people to her stall. Unfortunately with Machi being so quiet, Hibiki further abuses her and the other customers think the delinquent is bullying her. After Hibiki leaves, Machi is on her own. She tries to summon her voice again but this time she sounds like she is in some sort of execution! Horror! A few people sample and buy her product but it is back to the usual. Going to give up again, Yoshio is back. Learning the trouble she went through, he puts on his smooth operator skills and before you know it, everyone floods the stall curious to try the food. Wow. In the end, Natsu is impressed she stood her ground and did her job that wasn’t suitable for her in the first place. He thought she would ditch it and come back home. But Machi is motivated by a few comments of customers and would try again. But Yoshio mentions there is no need to continue the job anymore since the part timer for it is back. As he praises her first job with a hitch, Machi can’t help sense he has an ulterior motive he is up to something else.

Episode 9
Hibiki didn’t want to join the villagers in a meeting to discuss the village’s revitalization. But why did she? Because Yoshio is there. But it isn’t much of a discussion since Yoshio decides to do a commercial and the villagers agree to it. He has hired Usui as the director. Isn’t he the local farmer who got hospitalized? Isn’t he still on IV drops? So they take ideas on what products to promote the village and cheeky Hibiki suggests Machi as the mascot girl. Oh dear. You’re going to hear complaints how she doesn’t want to do it. But with Usui giving the thumbs up, I guess that is settled. Machi argues Natsu should do it but he can’t because he is the cameraman and the secret the village cannot reveal. But with Yoshio begging this commercial success will heal Usui, well, little girl has no choice but to do it once. Then there is another problem: Sponsor funds. No money how to make commercial? Hibiki thinks the old lady Tokuyama who sells clocks and glasses may have a hidden stash. Yoshio goes to negotiate with her and she agrees on one condition. Our villagers are at the hotspring site for the shooting. Again, Machi complains she doesn’t want to wear this swimsuit. Can’t back out now, right? Then there is this horrible storyboard sketch from Usui on how the ad should go. Looks more like a horror comic… Yoshio tells Natsu to focus on the watch and glasses that Machi is wearing. Yoshio takes auditions from the villagers but eventually settles for Hibiki despite she didn’t even audition at all. The others include Etsuko and Shouta. Nepotism? Filming starts and even for a girl like Machi can tell, isn’t the stupid dance make her look silly? Not in Usui’s eyes! After many takes, the shoot is done but Usui feels it lacks some sort dynamic excitement. Etsuko suggests singing and has written a song for the village. That’s it! Silly but fun song. As time is running out, they have to practice fast and manage to get it done in a single take. Yoshio works hard into the night to edit the video to be submitted to the station tomorrow. It is a big deal for the villagers to gather and watch their 30 second commercial. As it plays, suddenly certain scenes are cut out and replaced with Tokuyama’s store. In the end, Hibiki is furious that this entire ad is just a commercial for that granny’s store. Well, Yoshio’s hands are tied as that was the condition. But the villagers are celebrating in happiness they get to be on TV. I guess all is not lost. However… Usui suddenly gets up and proclaims… This is not his work!!! Then he collapses. Call the ambulance! No signal…

Episode 10
Machi is standing in the rain listening to her music. Natsu thinks something wrong must have happened in school because she does this when it is so. Apparently everyone in school has that item: Handphone. She didn’t bother too much about it at first but it soon got to her. Yeah, she is the only one without such hip gadget. Please note there is still no reception here. Thus Machi bugs Natsu for a handphone and even explains the careful thoughts she has given for wanting to live in the city. As long as she is sheltered here, she will be naive. Natsu then picks out an old handphone model from the offerings. Wow! Also there is a tablet as it instantly connects to a video conferencing with Yoshio at his office. Please note the difference between signal reception and internet connection. Learning Machi wants a handphone, Yoshio quizzes her. You bet Machi is going to think he has some ulterior motive and wondering if this question is a trick question. Yeah, he wants her to appear as an idol in exchange. Machi claims this old model handphone can be hers but she doesn’t know anything about a SIM card so it is pretty much useless. Luckily Machi gets the answer right and the new handphone is all hers. Wow. Look at the dazzling light of technology! Hey, I thought she is bad with appliances with buttons? I guess this doesn’t count? Next day, Machi shows off her new handphone like a pro. Shouta and the rest are in awe. Yup, the star for the day.

There is always a reason why Machi refuses Yoshio’s request. It is sensible that this time Yoshio wants her to be an idol. You know what? This guy is so desperate for her to change into this idol outfit that he forcibly strips her! OMG! Rape scene?! Of course we understand he has pure intentions but he has got to stop treating Machi like his pet! Hibiki is sleeping there and wakes up. The first thing she sees this ‘rape scene’ is to beat the hell out of this guy. Yoshio suggests Hibiki to be her manager and Natsu agrees thinking she needs more interaction with girls. Machi only agrees because she uses her ‘ability’ to read between the lines this might get Hibiki closer to Yoshio. And so here Machi is on stage as an idol. Man, 3 extreme idol fans? Scary. She is so nervous and singing off key but you know the extreme fervour of such fans. Go Machi, go! While taking a break, several guys from the next village badmouth Kumade. Worse, Tamura the old hag warns of some beastly curse. It descends into some name calling, name shaming and insults flying. At the end of the day when they leave, the Kumade villagers aren’t sure if they have the motivation to revitalize the village. And the busy idol fans have to move on to the next event… Abandoned? But then a spark of inspiration hits Machi. She starts questioning her motive to become an idol.

Episode 11
Machi is doing her rituals properly and Natsu thinks that idol stint must have scared her. Personally he would prefer it this way. When Yoshio receives word that Machi has been selected for the idol finals in Sendai, you can bet the entire village is getting hyped up that Kumade is going to be famous. It would be if not for this little problem: Machi doesn’t want to become an idol! How determined is she? She tied herself to the pillar! Then she runs away and sits at the cliff to do some soul searching. Natsu of course plays the pivotal role in convincing Machi to think about this opportunity. He has her remember all those city missions that she cleared (those embarrassing failed stints, if you look at it another way) and if she clears this last mission, she will be acknowledged as a city girl. Yoshio is definitely dense but even so he too realizes (finally) that Machi doesn’t really want to do this sh*t. So when she returns, he apologizes like hell and would accept any punishment. But Machi has changed her mind and will participate. This is music to Yoshio’s ears as suddenly all that guilt flew out the window and he is back to his annoying self. After Hibiki beats him up, Machi’s idol training begins. Since when did she sign up for Hibiki’s Spartan training? Okay, the usual jogging for stamina training and speech practising on stage. But tongue twisters too? Come that day, the villagers see them off with high hopes. You can tell all those reactions of Machi as she sits a real train for the first time. Meanwhile Natsu prays at the shrine for the peace of this village and their success. But he soon realizes he is a selfish prick and wants Machi to stay in the village forever and hopes everything will break down and have her return here.

At Sendai, it is an eye opener for Machi. She is at the idol backstage and meets many idols. Although they are very nice and polite but in Machi’s eyes she sees them as evil competitors mocking her country bumpkin status! During the rehearsal, the other idols do well. Naturally to Machi this means the bar is set very high and pessimism starts to sink in. She can’t do it. She is so nervous that when it is her turn, she bloopers by banging into the microphone, mispronounce some words, trips and falls hard when she tries to go away and worse of all, that silly vision of evil idols berating her as a useless countryside girl. It’s all in your mind… Machi then runs off stage with Yoshio and Hibiki chasing close behind. Yoshio tries to coax her to return but perhaps he did the unthinkable as he touches her shoulder. Her trauma instantly lit up as she punches him in the gut! This must be a very painful one. As Hibiki tries to restrain her, the policeman mistakes Hibiki as a delinquent trying to harass Machi and arrests her. A classic case of judging a book by its cover? This allows Machi to run away as she keeps calling Natsu’s name for help.

Episode 12
Natsu feels bad for making such wish and wants to go rescind it. But he gets a call from Yoshio that Machi is missing! OMG! Did the bear nearly died of a heart attack? Natsu then races down the mountains faster than a horse to Matsu’s place. He wants him to drive him to Sendai now! Yoshio and Hibiki continue to look for Machi but to no avail. Natsu uses his GPS to trace Machi and it seems her last location is at some departmental store. The duo search there but still cannot find her. That is when Hibiki chides Yoshio for being too persistent in trying to revitalize the village at Machi’s expense. Is revitalizing the village that important? Yes it is. Etsuko made that miko outfit, Natsu helped with her performance, Matsu made that banner and Hibiki helped train her. Everyone in Kumade has high hopes and is rooting for her. Hibiki agrees to look for her but with a condition that it is Machi who decides on whether she wants to continue with it or not. After they leave, it seems Matsu was hiding nearby and conveniently heard everything. Machi gets a little confidence boost when a little girl thinking she is an idol gives her some encouragement. A big traffic jam into Sendai. No time to waste. Natsu gets out and starts running. Won’t anyone notice? Yeah, the bear is so fast that they didn’t even notice. Or is everyone on their handphones? Damn technology… By the time Natsu is already in town, he realizes he is not in any disguise. He fears everyone will panic. Fortunately today’s generation thinks he is such a realistic mascot that they want to take pictures with him! Yeah, so I guess he is not much of a threat.

It is Machi’s turn on stage but she is nowhere to be seen. Before the host can change the programme line-up, here comes Machi. She is nervous at first and as usual, her delusion has her see the people as evil assholes throwing stones at her! That is when Natsu gives out a loud scream. Machi hears it and the scenery changes back to her hometown. It boosts her confidence because she can continue her dance ritual like she always have. All in her mind? At the end of the beautiful dance, Machi continues to see the crowd as evil people throwing stones at her! Yup, I think it is all in the mind. Back home when Yoshio and Natsu pretend to ask how Sendai was, Machi cowers in fear and explains as it is as seen in her delusions! She has decided. She is not going to a high school in the city! Say what?! Is Natsu happy or sad? Wait. Is that a recording app? I guess this means Natsu is freaking happy about her decision that he hugs her. Bear hug? Both of them hug each other in relief like nobody’s business while blurting out how much they love each other. Eww… Weird scene. Felt like a little bestiality… The villagers celebrate this successful event and although Machi didn’t come close to winning, at least she got a special award trophy. Yoshio continues to work hard to promote Kumade. Lastly, Natsu and Machi are living in the comfort of their shrine and anything they want from the city, they can just order it via internet shopping. All hail the internet!

OVA 1
Taking place during Natsu and Machi’s younger days especially that hibernation incident. When the snow falls for the first time this year, it is time for Natsu’s hibernation. As it came 2 weeks earlier, the elders still have no choice but to do a traditional farewell ceremony for Natsu’s hibernation considering last year’s fiasco whereby Machi refused to be parted from him. Yoshio is also drafted to help out for the first time. He in turn drags Hibiki into it since she is here (to return his manga). Machi and Natsu talk about the dreaded separation again. They don’t want to be apart. Machi suggests hibernating with him but that’s not possible because it is cold around. She’ll freeze to death. To make him stay away, Machi puts clothespin all over his body, glues his eyes open and forces him to drink coffee! Torture?! Natsu can’t stand this and breaks out. Naturally they get into an argument and it ends with Machi running away. Then Yoshio comes in to tell him that they are holding the ceremony tomorrow night after Machi falls asleep so she won’t feel so sad. That night, Machi apologizes for today and sleeps with Natsu. Next morning she wakes up early to cook something before spending the entire day with Natsu. Night falls and after Machi falls asleep, Natsu goes with the villagers for the ceremony. But then Machi wakes up and upon realizing Natsu is gone, she rushes out while taking her bento. Hibiki tries to stop her but Machi bit her finger! The cold slows down Machi till she eventually collapses. Natsu thought he heard Machi’s cry and rushes back. He finds Machi fallen on the snow. She gives him the bento she made so he won’t get hungry when he hibernates. Natsu is touched but carries her all the way back seeing her body is getting colder. Ever since that incident, Natsu ditches hibernation and the ceremony scrapped. It sure brings back memories for Natsu remembering this. After all, bears in zoos don’t hibernate. The biggest slap in the face is that Machi doesn’t remember a single shred of it.

OVA 2
This takes place after Machi’s idol contest in the city. A staff thinks Natsu is a real mascot and brings him to a nearby backstage because this is where the local mascot contest is. Natsu doesn’t think this is a good idea since he isn’t a real mascot to begin with but Yoshio believes this is a good chance to increase the village’s reputation. Naturally the organizer don’t see his name on the list. But she thinks they omitted it and puts his name as the last entry. Don’t you dare pin that number on his skin… It’s his real skin! During the rehearsal, Natsu is nervous, bumps his snout on the microphone and trips when it is over! Déjà vu? Wow. He really mirrors Machi. At the backstage, Natsu has doubts about continuing this but Yoshio has a way to make him stand out and coaches him on it. So when Natsu goes out on stage, he does his cute dance to a lame tune sung by Yoshio in the background. The crowd loves how cute he is! It is no wonder he won first place. So back at the village everyone celebrates the double achievement. They think Natsu is God and thus that’s why he won first place. The TV replays the contest with Natsu giving his final words: “Mokyuu”. WTF?! I don’t know. It was Yoshio’s idea. But Machi is shocked to hear that Natsu’s victory allows him to advance to the national level of the mascot contest to be held in Tokyo. Tokyo?! This bear is going to Tokyo?! Wait a second there… Natsu tries to change the subject and goes to bring some drinks. When he returns, he sees Machi already prepared her bags and stuffs. She’s going to Tokyo too.

For Bear-tter Or Worse, Just Bear With It
Aww… And they lived happily together. Big bear and little girl. Hugging and cuddling each other till the ends of days. The end. I guess that beats living the stressful life in the city, huh? Well, not too sure if Machi is giving up her high school in the city dream forever because you know, it could be just the spur of the moment that she decided not to go back to that scary place. It could all change again in the future. But we leave that for another time. If they make another sequel, that is. This entire series is just about a country bumpkin girl testing waters before making her permanent move to the city and in the end finds that it isn’t really one that suits her. It is a good thing she went through all that because had she instantly hoped on board, it will be the point of no return and the start of a tragic tale, a bad end. Thank goodness that never happened as long as Natsu is looking over her.

If you look at the series’ comical points, they aren’t really that over the top and during moments without any funny stuffs, it can get a little boring and slow. So if you are looking for really insane slapstick comedy like Teekyuu or those that parody the hell out of everything such as Gintama, you’d find that this series is just a pale comparison. But sometimes you do not need to have all those exaggerated jokes just to make things funny. This series has its jokes in its own pace and with the slow and sleepy stride of this village, it is only befitting that the funny scenes are paced so.

Although the characters in this series are small, you will still find something to love about them even though some are just annoying. You can’t hate them at all. Because of the focus on a handful of these main characters it is one reason why the series works as you can see the dynamism and interaction between them. Especially the tag team duo of Machi and Natsu. It already looks like an odd pairing from the start but with Machi’s antics, lack of confidence, anxiety and Natsu somehow has to deal with it all and even play the role of a motivator sometimes, it never gets tired seeing how the two interact. Therefore in place of the simple and sometimes silly general plot, the characters do a reasonable job in distracting you from the story about a girl who wants to go to the city but has to undergo trials to prepare for it but fails miserably as it only serves to induce her trauma. Yeah…

Machi is an interesting and lovable girl. She is shy, naïve and insecure in many ways that makes you think that she isn’t cut out for the city life at all. True. The peaceful and sheltered life in the remote mountains may have seemingly given her a wrong idea that she can take on the city. You know, girls and kids in general her age always think they know and can do everything, right? If she were to go to a high school in a city right now, she would quickly end up being a bully victim. As seen throughout the series, many of the attempts can be considered as big fails and even end up as an internet memes. This is where the fun and funny moments come about as Machi is forced to quickly reconcile the vast difference of reality and her expectations. Usually she ends up getting overwhelmed and scared and tries to run away from it all. She wants to go home. Nothing safe and sound like home where everything is familiar, eh? Despite all the ‘hardships’, tears and embarrassing moments she has faced, well, isn’t it a good thing that she barely pulls through all of them? Try harder again next time? Though, it felt like she did mature a bit in the end, but eventually she returned to being the timid Machi that we all knew from the beginning. I guess some things never change.

Natsu as Machi’s guardian and companion is a much cooler and mature character albeit he too is not perfect and has his shortcomings. The big irony is that he is more knowledgeable about the outside world and even technology compared to Machi and perhaps the other villagers. A bear whose intelligence and high-tech skills far exceed human capabilities? Well, he isn’t a god for nothing. Because when you have a bear that talks, it is already a sign of intelligent advanced lifeform. At least for this anime. It is safe to say that Natsu has been Machi’s saviour many times because who would Machi find solace whenever she faces her toughest ordeals yet? Not too sure about the past where Machi seems more reliable and cooler when Natsu was a cub. Or was it just a time of innocence and then as she grows up, life gets to her despite living in the mountains and thus her current behaviour. All I can say is that Natsu has been there for Machi, her ups and downs so I can’t imagine the duo being separated for long periods of time. That is why you can’t blame Natsu for being against Machi to live in the city. He knows she cannot defend herself and thus yet another irony of a bear protecting a girl from the dark side of human nature. Wow. This series sure has such subtle themes. Even better for him when Machi has abandoned her dream so he can be rest assured that Machi will stay put. Uh huh. It’s like this saying, never seen a ghost, not afraid of the dark. Yup, that sums up Machi’s ambitions in the end.

Yoshio could be the weirdest and most dense character in the series. He is hard to hate even though his annoyance makes you feel like you want to punch him in the gut. His intentions are always good and for the wellbeing of Kumade. However his approaches are the ones that are questionable. It is like he is in a world of his own. This guy is so dense that he couldn’t take a hint when others especially Machi vehemently disagrees to do something. You know, he thinks that she is just nervous and needs a little push and convincing to get something done. I suppose he can’t tell when a girl is scared and when she says she doesn’t want to do it, she really doesn’t want to do it.

Topping the list of him making things worse is his seemingly sexual harassment. Some may not be fond of such scenes that make it look like pedo and child sexualisation. You have noticed a few times that this guy would boldly undress Machi like as though she is his plaything (can you call Machi in her undies as fanservice?). Despite not having that perverted look, that dense poker face look is annoying enough. Furthermore, when Yoshio wants to make a point or calm one down, he tries to touch you! No wonder our little girl in the first episode was screaming sexual harassment and not to touch her! It is more evident that an office colleague of his is also afraid of his ‘sexual harassments’. If this guy was to live in the city, you can bet that he will be arrested and thrown into the slammer in no time and even have his name recorded as a registered molester. Therefore with poor Machi being weak and unable to fight back or get away in time like those other ladies, she is often more violated and thus adding to her list of never ending traumas and miseries. That is why from time to time this guy needs to have a good punch in the gut. Uh huh. Nice punching bag.

Last but not least of the main characters, Hibiki isn’t a bad person per se and like how Yoshio would be misunderstood as some sort of pervert in the city, the same misconception can be said for Hibiki as one would easily classify her as a typical delinquent. The mind boggling thing here is how she got her delinquent attitude. Unless she was born this way. But I am assuming that she doesn’t live in the big city assuming it takes hours to travel and it won’t be feasible for her to travel to Kumade every day unless you’re telling me the power of love makes her do so. And since there are no other delinquents in Kumade that I could see of, the only logical explanation why she is acting like a tough aggressive chick is to hide her feelings for Yoshio. Yeah, love is weird. But considering how dense Yoshio is, even if she acts all feminine and drop hints before his eyes, he still won’t catch it all. So sad to know that his first love will always be Kumade. Maybe it is because of this stress that Yoshio doesn’t realize her feelings that she sometimes take out her frustrations on poor Machi. Thus that eternal bad mood look.

The other villagers are rather okay too like the dreamy Etsuko and the casual laidback and always laughing Matsu. I think Kumade has only 3 children who are younger than Machi (among them are Kaori and Shouta). It makes me wonder if they are the only kids in school because you never see other children around. Could their school also be single class despite it looks like it has multi storeys and classrooms. Besides, I don’t see any other students there. Besides, I only see Yoshio and Hibiki as young adults as the rest are elderly men or senior citizens who usually plough the paddy fields.

An interesting and amusing segment is one before the next episode preview called the Totally Cosy Yonkoma Theatre Kumamiko-chan. In a yonkoma style animation, I mostly notice that it is either about eating or food. For some reasons, Machi is reduced into some character who is just munching away or bugging Natsu for some food because she is hungry. So she can’t even feed herself? Well, the most important thing is to enjoy their meal.

Art and drawing are pretty decent. They may look simple but only it is because the setting is in the remote mountainous village. Hence sometimes the background sceneries of the forests and greeneries may look a bit like water colour painting. But it won’t stand out and be jarring since the characters are vividly animated although their designs are mostly simple. I suppose Machi is the only one having the most ‘complicated’ design because of her miko priestess outfit that has a few Ainu motifs. This series is a joint production of 2 studios. The relatively new EMT2 whose only works so far consists of Ame-iro Cocoa and Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu and the relatively experienced Kinema Citrus who brought us Barakamon, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Black Bullet, Yuyushiki and Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka S2.

At first I was in a dilemma wondering if the voice behind Machi was Kana Asumi but it isn’t. Or could it be Yukari Tamura? Not really either. At some points she does sound close to either. Turns out to be Natsumi Hioka (Kotetsu Katsura of Witch Craft Works) behind Machi’s voice. She did a good job in making sound cute and insecure all at the same time. Even if Machi is such a flawful girl, that cute and perfect voice of hers makes you want to pity and root for her even more. If you are familiar with Bleach’s Sado, not to say that he totally sounds like that character here, but you can identify Hiroki Yasumoto as Natsu thanks to his low voice. He is quite cool playing this bear character. Eri Kitamura is identifiable as Hibiki since she sounds like one of those delinquent or high and mighty roles she sometimes play like Ganessa in Freezing, Ami in Toradora and Odagiri of Yamada-kun And The Seven Witches. Kazuyuki Okitsu voices Yoshio who did Nagare in K and Andre in Prison School.

One of the most wonderful things of this series is the very enjoyable, addictive and highly catchy ending theme. Kumamiko Dancing by the duet of Natsumi Hioka and Hiroki Yasumoto is the song that takes the cake. It could be the catchiest anime song that I have heard in recent seasons. I can’t think of what genre this song falls into at this point but what makes it so good and hip are the perfect combination of Hiroki Yasumoto’s low (sexy) voice, Natsumi Hioka’s high pitch (cute) voice, the appealing drum beats as well as the background vocals that altogether blend in seamlessly with the great tune of the happy song. I’m not sure if I can consider this song similar to those black gospel choirs. With cute funny lyrics (“No reception, no signal but we have Wifi”, “The convenience store is not that convenient”) and the very cute isometric gameplay-like visuals, I believe it is one of those songs that I will never tire to hear for many years to come. This is really good. Not to say that the opening theme Datte Gyutte Shite by Maki Hanatani is bad. It is also cute and lively in its own rights but after hearing the awesome ending piece, it pales in comparison.

Overall, a nice and enjoyable light hearted comedy series if you have had too many comedy settings based in high schools, clubs and the slums and want something different for a change. If you can get past those seemingly pedo jokes and ‘child abuse’ moments, it is a nice slice of life series for everyone. It goes to show that in the countryside there are as many funny and amusing matters to go around and not necessarily making living in the outskirts as boring nature and backwater stuff. Just like Non Non Biyori but even cooler because you have got a talking bear! Remember, laughter is the best medicine. Natsu may not be as cute as his other more popular bear counterparts like Care Bears and Paddington Bear or even Winnie the Pooh and Yogi Bear. But Natsu shows that he can look and act (mostly) like a bear and still have a human heart and soul. Doesn’t that want to make you move out of the city and live with him in the mountains?

If you can’t get enough of your low cost idols, whoops, I mean local idols, you will be glad to know that there are a couple more episodes to satiate your appetite, Futsuu No Joshikousei Ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita OVA. Yeah, because super large and famous groups like AKB48 (and all their other moniker spin-offs) and those super sexy K-pop girl groups are just so far out of reach and overwhelming for insignificant fans for us to keep up. So what a better way to continue giving our appreciation to small local units with the same big love we always have for them in the same way other fanatics and hardcores and diehards would for their gigantic untouchable angels.

Episode 14
Nagarekawa Girls are holing a Christmas fair at a local shopping centre. The crowd just loves teasing Nanako… At the backstage, Nanako is surprised that everyone holds a birthday surprise for Yukari. Isn’t her birthday on the day after tomorrow on Christmas? Yes but the staffs can only meet her after Christmas. So on Christmas Eve Nanako tries to go buy a present for Yukari but couldn’t decide on any. She sees Yukari shopping there with her friend and can’t help but spy on them. Afterwards Nanako meets up with her friends for their own Christmas Eve party. They exchange presents and recount stories how they first met in school and became friends. Meanwhile Yukari is having a high class Christmas Eve party with her family and other clients while Mirai joins Yui at her home. Before midnight, Nanako plans to surprise Yukari by dropping by in a Santarina outfit. But bad luck ensues. Yukari didn’t answer her door, Nanako realizes she left her handphone at her friend’s place and not to mention she brought the wrong present! Oh, she finally realizes that Santarina outfit is too thin and since it is snowing, it’s just freaking chilly. Hey, at least she wasn’t stopped by any policeman on patrol thinking she might be some sort of hentai weirdo. Slipping and landing on her butt ends her misery because Yukari is seen coming back. She ushers her into her apartment and after Nanako tells her happy birthday, she breaks down in happiness. They have their own little party and since it is late, Nanako stays for the night. Sorry people, no tantalizing yuri scenes. Next morning, Nanako’s friends along with Mirai and Yui arrive at Yukari’s place to celebrate her birthday. Another round of partying. I hope they won’t get fat at this rate. They watch the beautiful snow covering the town during sunset and renew their motivation to do better and more events and shoots for the coming year. Nanako then realizes she forgot to call her mom that she would be staying here. Don’t worry. Yukari already did that last night. Nanako is left to ponder why Yukari is on good terms with her mom. And she won’t tell.

Episode 15
Nanako is impressed the PV Awa Awa Girls made on TV. But she doesn’t believe Nagarekawa Girls will ever get to do one. You know how irony works, right? Because suddenly she gets a message from her uncle that they’re going to do a PV. Damn. The rest of the girls also get the message and since they have no idea how to do a PV, they decide to call Awa Awa Girls and get some hints. Basically, lots of hard work and difficult stuffs but the rewards at the end are satisfying. Well, don’t freak out so much, Nanako. No job is worth doing if you don’t put in the effort. So when they get their briefing from Saori, they realize all they have to do is wear their uniform and go around shooting video clips of the town. That doesn’t sound so PV. Then uncle explains they are shooting more of a PR video that will shoot gourmet spots that will sell the town. So apparently typed wrongly PR for PV? Are we supposed to be disappointed or relief? So as they go about their usual shooting, uncle gets this feeling that they are stiff and something is missing although the girls have been doing their usual. Guess what? He lets them think on their own and come up with ideas! WTF?! How irresponsible can he get?! Don’t blame them if it comes out something crappy. Like Yukari’s idea of focusing on Nanako’s cuteness. Nothing about Nagarekawa. Or like Nanako’s idea of being saved from drowning, eating cake and remembering a certain place in Nagarekawa. That would only make people remember about the girls and not the town. Tough, right? A bunch of kids see Nagarekawa Girls filming and interact with them about their shooting. Then they realize Nagarekawa Girls interacting with its citizens is the charm. So they go around shooting at various local tourist spots before editing the final cut. On the day their video is supposed to be released, turns out it will be simulcast worldwide. It turns out to be a big music video. Well, everyone we see is singing the theme song. So part MTV, part documentary, part trailer and part advertising. Yeah, it feels like a mix of all that. And this cheesy tagline at the end: Good town, good people, Nagarekawa! Ugh… Yukari and Nanako wonder the impact of their worldwide broadcast. You know it is successful when a couple of foreigners come to town and instantly recognize them. Welcome to Nagarekawa! Wow. Absolutely flawless English.

They Really Tried To Keep Up The Hype
Well, if you are really a fan of the series and Nagarekawa Girls, only you can appreciate this couple of episodes. Otherwise if you are like me, there is nothing really special except to see Nagarekawa Girls going about their usual routine but in a different theme. A Christmas and PV setting this time. It offers nothing new so if you are really expecting something different, prepare to be disappointed. It’s basically almost the same formula. You get your nearly intimate Yukari x Nanako scene in the first OVA and with the second one it is to remind us this is what they’ve been doing in the TV series. And Nanako still keeps mispronouncing her own name on stage due to her nervousness and everyone is like laughing about it because it has become a staple running joke. Overall the OVAs feel like an extension to the TV series just that these episodes are set almost a year apart from each other. Yeah, they’re really trying to keep the interest alive, huh?

Sure, I can consider this series to be one of those calming and soothing animes without all that violence and sex or other controversial stuffs that a majority of them are these days. However there was nothing really that special to tug my heart that would make me consider so. Heck, it even took me a while after finishing watching the OVAs to make me realize if I should consider this as the same level like Non Non Biyori, Tamayura and more recently Flying Witch. You see, the latter duo might be as boring as f*ck too when you look on a general level. But at least there was something underneath all that boringness that appealed to me. Non Non Biyori had the countryside simplicity and a certain eccentric loli. Tamayura had splendid sceneries. Flying Witch, uhm, light hearted magic? But as far as Locodol is concerned, nothing of that sort tugs my heart. I’m sorry to say this but they still haven’t converted me into a fan of theirs as I find them unexciting and bland. Yeah, I’m just watching for nostalgia’s sake.

So what is only new is the opening theme, Rainbow Baton by Nagarekawa Girls (but of course) as well as the first ending theme, Seinau Yoru Ni and the second ending theme, Seishun Say Cheese. Both are sung by the main quartet girls. They’re pretty decent as an anime pop but nothing that attracts me. So while these OVAs aren’t that bad and they are one of the few safest animes to watch, it all boils down to if you want to see a bunch of cute girls promoting their town with an equally cute (or is it creepy) humanoid fish character. Well, there is one way they could evoke my interests again and by 100%. Just dress up as maids! And you can bet they’ll have all my attention in the world. They don’t really need to try that hard then.